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The Top 7 Facebook Advertising Hacks of 2020




Jason Barnard: Hi, welcome. I'm Jason Barnard. This is Larry Kim. I'm sure everybody knows who Larry is. Lovely to meet you, Larry.

Larry Kim: It's great to do something with you finally, Jason. I'm going to be talking about a topic that is super near and dear to my heart and that is Facebook advertising hacks and crazy ideas that you can use for your own campaigns next year. 

I'm from Canada, from a place that's called Winnipeg. It's famous for being colder than Mars for most of the year. I'm famous for starting a company called WordStream. That was about 10 years ago. The company grew to over 300 people today and managing about a billion dollars of ad spend for tens of thousands of customers worldwide.

That's enough about me. Let's talk about why you're here; that is our top seven Ad hacks for 2020 and I promise you this will be the greatest Facebook Ad webinar you've ever attended because the way I define hacks is not like stupid obvious things. I'm not going to say like, "Oh, hey guys, you've got to test Ads and that's the hack." No, guys. That's not a hack. This is common sense.

When I define a hack, it's like a non-obvious loophole that is it's not illegal. Okay. It's totally legal. If you do it in this crazy way, you can potentially generate super high impact stuff. By the way, all the slides that you're looking at today, you can get them yourself at bit.ly/semrush-larry. Okay. 

Here's the problem guys: Facebook Ads, they used to be so amazing. I fell in love with them like seven or eight years ago and they were incredible. You could target anything, anybody and the main problem is that the prices have gone up a lot. Audiences that I used to target here in the US that were a dollar, it's more like $100 per CPM just in the last six years. That's a problem because every 1% increase in cost per click in CPM is a 1% decrease in the return of investment. The prices are going up 20, 30% per quarter.

Basically, if you're using last year's Ad strategies, I'm telling you it's not going to work. You're just losing money probably, and it's time to rethink that strategy. I wanted to give you my top favorite strategies that I use for my own campaigns. 

Hack #7: Targeting Unrelated Interests in Facebook Ads

My number seven at Facebook Ad Hack is called The Inverted Unicorn Ad Hack. This is just my own terminology. I just name things after different types of unicorns. 

Best way to describe the inverted unicorn ad targeting method is to give you an example. All right. This is a crazy ad, a real ad on Facebook...it's a t-shirt offer. It says, “life took me to England, but I'll always be an Arizona girl”. If you look at this t-shirt, it has a picture of England. Then in the middle, that's actually the state of Arizona. This is an incredible ad.

Look at the people who are commenting on this ad. Sheri Bell says, "How many Arizonans live in England" and Mimi Drake is freaking out, she's saying, "Is my phone listening to me. This is creepy." The question is, how are these crazy ads that they provoke such an emotional response and really stop you dead in your tracks and get your attention. How is this possible?

Believe it or not, they're not using any crazy custom audiences. They're not using any crazy third party data. This is all legitimate Facebook targeting. They're just using it in a different way from the way that you're using Facebook ads.

Facebook, everyone knows you can target by geography. Some of you might know that there's a way of targeting a behavior called “Recently Moved”. 

That's interesting, but it's not the full story. There's two really clever things that are happening in the Inverted Unicorn Ad Targeting Method. The first thing that they're doing is they're targeting an uncorrelated interest. What they're doing is they're saying people who live in England who are women who recently moved and who happened to like local businesses such as high schools or sports teams or universities that are located in the state of Arizona. That doesn't mean that they lived in Arizona, but if you combine the fact that they now live in England and they recently moved, it's not a bad bet What they're doing is they're making a guess. 

The second thing that they're doing is they're letting the reader, the consumer of this ad know that we're making this guess about you. They're reflecting that knowledge back in a really creepy ad. This is really genius I think because it really strikes to the core of fundamental Facebook Ad targeting principles.

Conventional wisdom in Facebook Ad targeting says you're supposed to target related interests. What the inverted unicorn is saying is that you should go after unrelated interests. What's the relationship between people who live in England who recently moved and who happened to like some local bar in Arizona or in some city in Arizona? These are totally unrelated, right? 

Just to give you an example of what I'm talking about between related and unrelated interests. Just say you'll like a SEMrush, so you'll like Mobile Monkey, that's my company. We're trying to sell marketing software to marketers like you. The conventional wisdom says, well why don't we look for people who have certain interests like interested in MailChimp or interested in email marketing or people who like constant contact? Then we draw that circle and then we say, well, why don't we narrow down that circle with additional demographics like that they have a job title that has something related to marketing? 

That's how you target ads up until today. When you click this little button here, see that button that says suggestions. Okay. It's suggesting related interests. It's going to say people who like SEMrush or people who like content marketing or CO like it's going to keep suggesting related interests. 

What I am saying is that, that's the old way of doing it. The new way of doing it is you should come up with crazy cookie, unrelated examples. Here's an example of an inverted unicorn ad targeting. Say we're trying to sell marketing software here rather than targeting people who like MailChimp or HubSpot or SEMrush. We're going to overlay that interest; people who like marketing with people who like Game of Thrones, people who like the “sons of Stark” fan page or the “John Snow fan page.”

These people who like these pages are super fans of Game of Thrones. Okay. The question is, what's the relationship between people who like Game of Thrones and people who like email marketing? Nothing. They're totally unrelated. They are totally uncorrelated. Nevertheless, I'm saying that that is a valid targeting segment. 

Why? So that you can create very clever ads that don't just speak to one of their interests email marketing but speaks to simultaneously to two or three or four of their interests. Thereby really stopping them cold and thinking, "Wow, this ad is like really just for me or really speaks to my interests." 

The thing about this inverted unicorn targeting method is it works better with a more increasingly niche targeting. I only had $50 to spend. Why on earth would you target 55 million people with $50? That's crazy. I overlaid this crazy obscure interest that people who also liked Star Trek-Deep Space Nine and that cut down the audience to like tens of thousands of people instead of millions of people.

The more niche; the more obscure interests that you can bring into this ad, the more successful this targeting method is. If you're selling basket weaving kits, then target people who also like Metallica. That is such an unusual combination that it will definitely get their attention.

In summary, the way that you're doing Facebook ad targeting is probably wrong. You're probably doing it the old way of targeting related interests. What I'm trying to tell you is that there's also a lot of interesting cookie ad strategies that you can try if you decide to go against the flow and just target unrelated interests.

If you're selling like, I don't know, like office stationery or something that's really boring, you could actually make it interesting. Of course, the strategy is really valuable for cutting down large audiences. If your budget is small in comparison to the size of your audience then just you need to cut down that audience size, use inverted unicorn.

Jason Barnard: How do you know what type of unrelated interest to choose? Do you run a questionnaire?

Larry Kim: It's just gut feel. One thing in Facebook analytics that you have in the audience explorer, it will show you related interests. People who like your page also like, but it also shows you unrelated interests. It's like people who like your page are not likely to like these things. 

Typically, the conventional wisdom has been to go with related interests. I'm saying like, "Wait a minute, why don't you try to target some of those unrelated interests and overlay them and then work that into the copy?" It's a novel strategy that it's not really gained much attraction.

Hack #6: Using Facebook Ads to Drive Traffic “Bombs” 

Larry Kim: Number six Facebook ad hack. It's called the Facebook Web Traffic Bomb. Okay. What's a Facebook Web Traffic Bomb? Well, it's basically a web traffic bomb. 

There's a crazy hack to get on the New York Times bestsellers book review list. All you do is you just buy a lot of your own books, like all at once from a few different accounts and just like buy 5,000 copies of your book from like 30 different people and what happens is that like that'll create a spike, okay, in sales. Then it'll show up in the bestseller list.

Then what will happen is that because a lot of people read the New York Times bestseller list, they'll see the new book on the list and they'll say like, "Hmm, what is this new book?" That will catalyze an initial interest in your book based on the activity that you created yourself. 

Sites like Hacker News or Medium or LinkedIn Pulse or Reddit; these are all sites that work the same way where they highlight stuff to their big audience based on what's popular right this moment. 

The algorithms are actually pretty stupid. Medium, in particular, is pretty dumb. This article, “multitasking is killing your brain”. It got over a million views, 9,012 likes. I mean it was like the most popular article on Medium for like a week. It catapulted me to be the number eight most popular author on Medium just behind, I don't know, Hillary Clinton and Evan Williams who's like the founder of Medium and Twitter as well. 

How do you generate all these gazillions of page views on these platforms? Well, it's through the Web Traffic Bomb. All those systems, like Medium; it's a content recommendation engine. 

It's recommending what content their users should read and how does it do that? They don't employ editors to read every article. They're using user engagement signals. They're looking for it to see what's popular. Are a lot of people reading this article? If so, that probably means it's very interesting and that we should send it out to more people in their email; the recommended reading digest or that we could surface these stories in the Medium app like the reader. 

If that's how the systems work, then it's would make sense to send signals to those platforms to have them take notice of the content that you're looking to promote.

If that's the case, you can use Facebook for this. You can use Facebook as a Web Traffic Bomb to direct enormous amounts of traffic from different IP addresses to specific pieces of content on certain platforms so that those platforms will really think that that piece of content is super, super interesting. 

Now, because I don't want to waste your money, you don't have to buy the most expensive $200 CPM audiences. You can choose the cheapest audiences because all we're trying to do here is send signals to those platforms to say that people are interested in this story, so you can buy the cheapest clicks available. 

Just pick anything like worldwide, go with the cheaper placements like audience network. What happens when you do this is you end up generating a lot of traffic for very, very cheap. 

Then those clicks, they get delivered. Facebook is so enormous so that they can fill this order in 10 seconds. All of these people are clicking on the article and are going to Medium and then the Medium algorithms just go crazy and start surfacing that content to other people.

I can make it work like one every 10 tries or something like this. It's not a guarantee, but it dramatically increases your chances.  It's like some chemical reactions and you'd like a catalyst, a little spark, to get the ball rolling and that's what I'm saying. 

If the story wasn't interesting, if it was a stupid story, then it would not have worked. If it was a really interesting story that did really well in other places, then why not just spend a few dollars to light a little spark so that it'll also do well in other places. 

Jason Barnard: I absolutely love that. What I love about it is it's so completely contradictory. The first one; one is saying the target incredibly specifically you can be physically the other side. Let's start a spark with any person. We start that spark and that spark will ignite the platform that you're using. That's brilliant.

Hack #5: Borrowing Russian Ad Targeting Methods

Larry Kim: The Russian ad targeting methods. This is a really interesting thing that the Russians were meddling around in different elections using the Facebook platform. I think they really have some really clever online advertisers there.

I'm not advocating for like destruction of like society and all this stuff. I don't want you to do horrible things with your Facebook ad campaigns, but nevertheless, it's worth examining how they did what they did. 

To do this, I created a fake news website of my own. This website, it's like a $9 a year Wix website. Wix is a cheap website hosting company. I made my own fake news company called Citizens News Networks. Okay. If you look at that logo, it's actually the CNN logo backwards. This is totally fake. 

Then I filled my fake news website with fake articles. I did not write this article. There's actually websites out there that have the most famous fake news stories. I just copied to some of my favorite ones and put it onto my fake news website. Okay. This one was called ”Donald Trump protester speaks out, I was paid $3,500 to protest Trump's rally”. 

I created a fake Facebook ads account to promote the fake news on my fake news website. I spent about $50 targeting swing States like Pennsylvania, et cetera, to Republicans, to conservatives. Not just regular conservative but like ultra-conservative, people who are likely to engage with conservative political content, etc. I tried to find ultra-right-wing people who I thought would eat up the story because they have this big chip on their shoulders saying these protests are full of fake paid actors or stuff, it validates their preexisting biases.

Sure enough, I spent a few dollars promoting the post then the notification screen lit up within seconds. Everybody was like clicking on it and sharing it. They were all talking about it and re-sharing it. I don't like to spend a lot of money on Facebook ads. I like to arm cheap. For $50, I got 42 likes, 27 shares, 20 comments, 30 people liked the page. They want to get more updates from my fake news page and I got 2,000 website clicks to the article. 

That's amazing. That's for $50. It's because of how this crazy algorithm works. It likes to surface the stuff that has a lot of engagement. 

The question is how is this possible? Well, there's two things going on that the Russians are using. The first thing that they did was that they would create these funny stories like this that would just get stir the pot and get people all riled up. Then they would target people who held those preexisting biases. 

The really crazy thing that the Russians did was that they also targeted the opposite ideological extreme. They weren't just trying to find supporters of an idea. They were trying to create a fight. They were trying to eliminate the moderate.

You don't have to go with the most divisive social issues. I wanted to test out this idea. I like to try them out on different platforms, not just Facebook because Facebook is so easy to manipulate. 

I tried this out on LinkedIn. Okay. I took an article, it said, "Working moms raise more successful daughters and more empathetic sons according to a Harvard study." I tried to post this and it got 10,700 likes, 1,500 shares, 390 comments, it has 65,000 views. That's incredible. Usually, when you do a LinkedIn Pulse article, it gets like a hundred views. 

The LinkedIn Pulse algorithm optimizes for comments and comment replies. Basically, to generate those comments, I use the Russian Ad Hack method of promoting this article to people who are going to love this article and people who are going to hate this article. 

Who's going to love an article saying that working moms raise more daughters and sons? Well, it's going to be working mothers like people who are chief executive officer who are women and have children.. They feel so guilty going to work and leaving their child at daycare or with a nanny. When they see an article saying like, "No, no, no, you don't have to feel bad. Your children are going to be more successful." They want to validate their life choices. Then they hit the like button and they comment; something to affirm their own personal choices. 

You also target the people who are going to hate this. Who's going to hate this article? It's going to be the stay-at-home moms. The full-time mommies. Why? Because raising children is the hardest job in the world. By targeting this audience simultaneously to people who both strongly or predisposed to agreeing and disagreeing with the content; it sparked a very lively discussion, 390 comments. That is how this article generated that response.

You target the ideological extremes and eliminate the center. The Russians used this to create social divisions within society. In marketing, there's plenty of cases where some people are really for the Keto diet, but other people are for the Paleo diet. If you're selling the Paleo diet stuff; what I'm saying is like maybe target people who like the Keto diet because they're going to have fervent beliefs of saying that this other diet is crap. It's not about making people hate each other, but rather finding where there's agree to disagree things and people who feel strongly about this. I think that exists in every business.

Jason Barnard: Yeah. Engagement. We're looking at engagement that is being discussed.

Larry Kim: If you're only targeting the true believers, there's nowhere to go in the comments. You know what the comments are going to say. It's going to say, "Yes." It's going to say, "Yeah, good job or I agree." Then there's no discussion and all a lot of these platforms particularly LinkedIn is optimizing for comment replies. 

Hack #4: Focus on Remarketing Ads

My number four idea here is Remarketing only. Okay. Previously, you would spend money on Facebook ads to do regular campaigns and then you'd also spend money on remarketing campaigns. Because the Facebook ad prices are so crazy in 2020, I'm just saying; just forget about regular ads and only do remarketing ads only because remarketing ads aren't just a little bit better than Facebook regular ads. They're like 10 times better. Okay.

Just to give you an example, if I run the same ad, the same bids, the same budgets but targeting to people who visited my website and people who did not visit my website before. Do you know what the difference is? It's enormous. 

People who have brand affinity and who've heard of me before are two to three times more likely to click on my ad. They're also two to three times more likely to convert and sign up for whatever it is you're selling. If you multiply through it, the CPCs are also cheaper because the higher engagement is lower CPC. If you multiply it through three times more likely to click, three times more likely to convert and half the cost per click. What you'll find is that even though you might spend $100 on ads and only 10% of that is to remarketing typically.

70% of the conversions are actually, if you segment it out, it's coming from the remarketing audience. That tiny little spend of 10% is generating like 70% of the value. Alternatively, 90% of your spend, it's just really not that effective. It's only generating like a very small fraction of your conversions

The remarketing is really interesting and that it triples your click through rates. It cuts your CPCs in half, it triples conversion rates. The problem is that it cuts impression volume by 10X. Generally it's the case that whatever you're trying to sell, there's more people who haven't heard of you than have heard of you, right. Because otherwise, why are you trying to sell it? If everyone's heard of you, then there's no need to do marketing.

Remarketing is like running a sporting team, a football team with only defense and no offense. That not a really a great strategy if you're only targeting the people who already love you because there's so many other people who don't even know who you are. 

What do we do in this situation? The solution is we're going to make that amount of people who are familiar with your brand significantly bigger. 100 or 1,000 times bigger; but we're not going to do it in Facebook. You used to be able to do this in Facebook when Facebook ads were cheaper, but now it's so expensive on Facebook. 

We're only going to use Facebook ads for lower-funnel conversions, converting the remarketing people. We're going to take all that money that you used to spend on Facebook ads that were just producing nothing and now it's a total waste of money. We're going to divert that budget to other crazy audience growth and affinity creation campaigns that are not Facebook ads such as; radio broadcasts or PR stunts or TD stunts. 

What I'm saying is like, just stop wasting the money on Facebook ads, spend it somewhere else to create the initial affinity. I can give you a couple of examples.

Jason Barnard: Just to cut in very quickly. How this applies to promoting actual products and services? How can we actually get attention and go viral? That's fine, but how can we make it sell? The answer is remarketing. You get attention, you get people, then you remarket and that was that.

Larry Kim: You got it. Selling to uninitiated people who haven't heard of you is a suicide mission. You need to generate that initial affinity and you have to do it on the cheap. You can't be thinking like buying that interest through Facebook ads; not in 2019, it's just too expensive.

Hack #3: Reciprocal Remarketing

Reciprocal Remarketing. Another idea here Jason, if we can just sell other people's products and services. There's a guy named Neil Patel. He's a genius, were known for growth hacking and this kind of stuff. We have a lot of similarities. We both have pages with lots of fans and we're both growth hackers and we're not competitive in any way. He sells services and I sell software and so he has a huge audience that has affinity with him. I have, not as big as his audience but a decent size audience that has affinity towards me in my products.

If you can agree to like, I'll spend $10,000 advertising your products. If you spend 10,000 advertising my products, then effectively what you're doing is you're doubling the size of those people who are familiar with your brand. By me talking about someone else's stuff, my audience is going to be more receptive to that message. You're going to capture the magical elements of remarketing which is higher click-through rates and higher conversion rates. 

Also, casting a wider net. This is like a paid version of influencer marketing where you paid person like a few thousand dollars to post something on their social media feed. You can do the same thing in Facebook ads where you just do a barter, you find a non-competitive company and just do ads swap.

Hack #2: Using Facebook Messenger Ads

My number two ad hack here, we're running out of time. Its Facebook messenger ads. Most of the ads that you spend on Facebook are traffic engagement and conversion ads. 

My favorite one by far is these messages, the messaging, “click the message” ads. It's like an ad, but when you click on this button you get everyone's messaging permission. You get all of our contact information and the ability to send broadcast messages to them on Facebook messenger. 

Instead of sending them to a static webpage you can send them into a survey or you can get them to sign up for something or you can send them Drip Campaigns, but all through messaging. 

It's way more interactive than conventional landing pages because you can do segmentation. You can ask them like, are you an in-house advertiser or an in house advert or an agency? Based on how they answer those questions, you can send them down different funnels. 

Once you send them down to different funnels you can make a note of who said that they were like an agency or an advertiser so that you can customize the content to be relevant to their needs. Messaging, if you're not using it yet, I think you're crazy because it's the best deal on Facebook ads.

I just wanted to give you a couple of tips on how I use them. One of them is I use is active listening; psychological principle where it's like if you ask them a question and, "Hey, are you a novice, a fan or an expert?" If they say that they're a novice, you should reflect that back in the conversation, it's like, "Oh good, great news. We've got a chatbot training program specifically for people who are new to the field looking for our guided path." 

I'm still selling the same software. It's the same video course, but I'm just trying to reflect back their identity and people like that because it feels like they're being listened to instead of trying to ram everyone through the same funnel. 

Another thing you can do, and these are tactics used by like salespeople...you can offer a concession. You start off by saying, "How much is the chatbot training course? It's $199. What do you think?" There's two buttons. Is says, “too expensive” or “great”, and 99.999% people say too expensive. 

Then you can walk it back and say, "I totally agree it's too expensive. How about $9? I can give you a 94% discount code." If people feel like they're anchoring on this high price and now they got this message saying like, "I'll give you a 94% discount." This absolutely impacts conversions. 

This is Mobile Monkey. This is the world's fastest-growing messaging platform for marketers. You can visually create these dialogues that will interact with people. You could use Mobile Monkey to create these interactive messaging dialogues to chat with people.

Hack #1: Comments and Facebook Messenger Auto-Responses

The last thing I want to show you today is just my Facebook ad hack of a messenger post guard. They're Comment Guards. This is just a really cool way of generating comments and turning those comments into leads and emails for your business.

I posted a stupid riddle on my post here on my page. It just says “post your guess in the comments. I'll auto-respond to you privately through messenger and give you the answer as well as an explanation”. This generated 57 comments and I converted every one of them into a messenger subscriber.

How do you do this? Of course, you just use a tool like Mobile Monkey which has Facebook messaging support and you just create answers to send to users after they comment and you just specify what posts you want to send the content to and it's very simple to set it up. The open rates of messaging are substantially higher than Facebook ads or email marketing.

I started our discussion at the very top of the funnel. I was trying to describe ways that you could have growth at the top of the funnel by employing Facebook ads to get a lot of enormous number of people into your funnel without spending money.

We talked about inverted unicorn, Facebook Ad Traffic Rocket, The Russian Ad Hacks. These are all crazy loopholes that you can exploit that are legal to dramatically expand the reach of people to seeing your content in your ads. 

We then went moved to the middle of the funnel where I suggested it's time to dump non remarketing ads and only go remarketing only. We also talked about reciprocal fan targeting as another way of expanding your audiences so that you can receive the benefits of remarketing without having to spend a ton of money.

Lastly, we moved to the lower bottom of funnel where we talked about two of my favorite ad units that are the most conversion-friendly ad units out there. It's the Facebook messenger ads as well as the boosted Comment Guards, which have a really cool feature that lets you receive messaging permissions like as soon as they engage with your content. That's like a really interesting way of converting substantially more of these people. 

That's our story today. I thank you SEMrush and Jason for hosting me. I want to make sure that you get the bonus materials because I know you want to have a great year next year, so get ... Go to bit.ly/semrush-larry to get the materials.

Jason Barnard: I thought that was absolutely brilliant. I mean I was like caught on about halfway through about the idea of building your audience, targeting them and then you nailed it at the end with really knowing and getting the messenger thing going. 

Larry Kim: Well, thank you, guys. I just want to wish you happy holidays and the best of luck with your market campaigns next year. Thanks again SEMrush and Jason for hosting me. Check out Mobile Monkey at mobilemonkey.com for messaging software and the like and we'll catch you later. Okay.

Jason Barnard: Well, yeah. Thank you, Larry. I was absolutely stunned by that. I'm going to be using all that next year and thank you for coming along. See you next year, I hope.

Larry Kim: Thanks, guys. Okay. Bye.

Jason Barnard: Bye-bye.

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