5 Good Reasons to Begin Facebook Advertising

Facebook Ads

For the past several years, I have seen consistent return on investment using Facebook’s ad platforms. It is both easy-to-use and well-documented and thus, a great surprise to me every time I run across other digital managers who have yet to test the waters. Following are just 5 good reasons you should consider advertising with Facebook:

1 – Demographic Control

If you aren’t familiar with setting up ads within Facebook’s ad ecosystem, you might be surprised with how detailed you can get with targeting your ads. 40-yr-old males who like to golf? No problem. Retired 60+ who like to purchase online and live in Miami? No problem at all. You can include and exclude preferences and lately, Facebook has begun to rollout the ability to further narrow your targeting.

2 – Budget and Timing Control

Budget, or a lack thereof, shouldn’t really be an excuse any longer to get into online advertising. If you have $50 to spend per month, there are plenty of ways to put that to good use with Facebook. I’ve had great success building an audience for start-up pages on just $1 a day. You have complete control on how much you want to spend and when you want to spend it. And, the “pause” button is always a click away anytime you get nervous or something changes. I love the complete control Facebook gives you over your money and your ads.

3 – Creative Control

Facebook has some basic constraints with character-count, image dimension and sometimes text allowed within an image. Beyond that, you have complete freedom to create and test as many different creative ideas as you have time for. If you really want to have confidence about spending a large amount on a campaign, then spend 1% of the campaign first on testing 5-6 different variables until you get it right. Target just mobile, or desktop, or even Instagram.  No problem―be creative.

4 – Testing Control

Unlike direct mail, print ads, or even many types of online advertising, Facebook allows you to thoroughly test a general idea for effectiveness before pulling the trigger. You can do this at any time, even mid-stream during the course of a campaign. You can test variations of text, creative, targeting, placement, etc. You can have confidence about creating campaigns that have good ROI, knowing that your ideas and concepts have been vetted thoroughly via testing.

5 – Conversion Tracking

Facebook has really made it easy to track ROI with your ads with their “Facebook Pixel” technology. It’s simple really ― just create a pixel in your account and drop that code throughout your website. You can stop there or get more detailed by adding additional elements to specific key pages (like your Donation confirmation page) and know exactly how many people have “converted” from any ad. This really seals the deal for me in terms of using Facebook. ROI is no longer a guess ― I can demonstrate anytime with hard data the success of any ad, even while it’s occurring. 

John Schwartz is Digital Manager for Truthforlife.org

A/B testing principles from Netflix

AB Testing

Every user experience (UX) designer wants to be able to know that their decisions are impacting the movement of a user to an interaction. Too often, however, we tend to rely too heavily on our own instinct, and not validate how actually effective the design of the UX actually is.

Todd Yellin is VP of Product innovation at Netflix, and spoke to a packed session at the 2015 South by Southwest Interactive (SXSW) about the lessons Netflix has learned in 10 years of A/B testing. While the session didn’t dive into any powerful new mechanisms for A/B testing, Yellin did provide a lot of practical examples and advice on how Netflix has used A/B testing to make strategic decisions based on quantified user behavior, rather than design instinct.

What is A/B testing? 

The concept of A/B testing is to simply test design changes toward specific results. The testing often happens with random users with measurements put in place to determine which sample was the most successful in moving towards a defined goal, or taking a specific action.

As Yellin talked through their testing practices, I came to a few conclusions.

1 – Always know what you are measuring toward:

When A/B testing, the Netflix design team always measured against 2 metrics:

  • What impact did this decision have on our user accounts? (If it damaged user retention… if we lost users, it was not a good design decision).
  • What impact did this decision have on user viewing (we have paid accounts… now are they watching more? Increased user viewing was a success)

In some cases, Netflix would identify a tertiary measurement. But it was only put into place after those two measurements were flat.

2 – A/B Testing is the great democratizer

Disagreements come up in the design process. And quite often, the loudest or most senior person in the room will win the design disagreement. Quite often the loudest, or most senior person in the room is the least qualified to make the design decision. A/B testing of your design decisions will allow the users to have a voice at your table. 

3 – Leverage the data you collect (and collect only what you’ll leverage):

Data, Yellin explains, is “Piles of excrement, with a little bit of gold”. Rather than collecting mounds and mounds of user data, they focused on:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location

But even then, they increasingly found that Age and Gender were less important than actual viewing habits. Age and gender were demographics, but became somewhat useless for content discovery.

Organizations should determine what data ACTUALLY matters to their user experience, and personalization, and make that data easy to collect. Netflix actually made their key demographic data a part of their credit-card form. They were clear that it was not for credit card purposes, and were transparent on how it would be used. But they realized that making it a part of a larger, already painful, process made it easier to collect.

4 – Don’t listen to your users… watch them…

Yellin shared a real-life example from the Netflix design table. Many passionate users were writing… calling… pleading for the ability to give ratings in 1/2 star increments. To that point, a users could only give 1 – 5 stars. They heard from thousands of users who said the ability to do a 1/2 star rating would really help the accuracy of their decisions.

So…. they tested it.

While the loud users appreciated it, the silent majority did not.

Netflix looked at its core metrics of user retention, and view time, and saw no statistical impact from this decision. This is where they added a 3rd metric. Actually completing the review process. They saw a significant drop in completion of a review process, among those given the ability to do 1/2 star increments. They dropped the 1/2 stars.

5 – The smartest mind at your design table, is still an idiot.

Yellin showed a very specific example of 3 treatments of cover art for the popular TV series. The 3rd option was a very compelling close up of the main character. The other two… just weren’t as compelling. Yellin asked the room at SXSW which they though would perform the best. The room overwhelmingly agreed that the compelling face shot of the character would win.

This is a room of design professionals from around the world.  Yellin said his design team agreed. They A/B(/C) tested the artwork and found that it wasn’t even close. The winner was a far less compelling image of an RV in the desert.

The smartest person on your design team, is still less smart than your user behavior.

Yellin is quick to point out that it isn’t wise to test EVERY design decision. Small incremental changes are probably not worth the investment and potential user frustration to test. There is a point at which designers still need to be empowered to make design decisions in the absence of empirical evidence. But continued testing and analysis of user behavior can help those designers make better decisions when the data isn’t there.

Carl Bliss is the Manager of Interactive Media at Northwestern Media. You can follow him on Twitter at @ckbliss

8 Things to Do to Prepare for Your Year-end Online Fundraising

Credit Card

Well it’s that time of year again. Are you ready for the year-end fundraising push? Honestly, talking about this at Thanksgiving is late for most organizations. (Many have been planning since before Labor Day.) But it’s not too late to at least do a few more last-minute adjustments to your digital channels. Hopefully the following items help you as you make your list and check it twice.

1.) Messaging: How are you presenting “the ask”?

Sure it’s year-end but you should be doing this effectively 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. It’s only here in December that you need to make sure to stay consistent with that messaging. Why does your organization exist? Make sure to reiterate that to your constituents. Then after you’ve done that you need to answer “why give?” and “why now?”. Why give: will be to further your organization’s mission. Lean into that. The “why now” is the part where you can get creative. Some organizations have matching challenges. Some talk about tax-benefits. The options are open. When I interact with your digital channels is it clear for me to answer “Why give?” and “Why now?”.

2.) Identify your main calls to action

You’ve got your messaging down. Now where will you place your calls to action? And what are the specific calls to action? These really depend on each other.

Placement (email banner ads, homepage slideshows, PS promotions at the end of emails, etc.) indicates certain audience segments. And different audience segments require different calls to action. Take some time to think through this and map it out on a spreadsheet. You may be surprised to see that certain segments of your audience are completely missed.

3.) Track your calls to action

Use systems like Google Analytics campaign tracker to track all your different calls to action. As you map out all your calls to action you can add columns for campaign codes. This allows you to attribute actual tracked revenue in Google Analytics back to your original calls to action. So you know what was effective and what was… not so much. Make sure to use the campaign builder tool. (https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1033867?hl=en )

PS: Make sure you have ecommerce tracking setup in Google Analytics too. https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1009612?hl=en

4.) Go through your donation process

Yes, be the donor. Go through the actual donation process—on production not your staging environment. What things do you notice? What should be tightened up? Is anything broken? What could be eliminated to make the experience more friction free?

When you’ve done that now comes the painful part. Download Google Chrome and use the Developer Tools (option + command + i on a Mac). Choose the device emulator http://d.pr/i/11chW/13vmKt0O. Now go through the process again on an iPad. Then switch to an iPhone. What things do you notice need to be fixed?

5.) Prepare your email lists

Clean up those dusty old email lists. Go through and remove everyone who hasn’t opened an email in the last 6 months. Those people are costing you money and wasting your time. You want the warm leads. Purging your email lists is a good thing to do at least once a year. And if you get rid of those folks before the year-end push then you are less likely to get flagged as a spammer by your cold contacts (because in December you’ll be sending out probably more than the average number of emails).

Then look through your emails and prepare your segments. You’ll want to communicate differently to different segments. (See #2)

6.) Think Offline

Every place you make the online call to action should also provide an offline call to action as well. Maybe someone is very comfortable receiving an email but not giving online. So make sure you have your handy 800 number there where they can call in 24 hours a day to give a donation over the phone. And also provide your postal address and who to make out checks to. It’s a simple thing to include this information but it helps you cover more alternatives, especially for older people who may not be fully comfortable giving online.

7.) What are you doing for social media?

Social media is a tricky beast. It’s even trickier with online fundraising. Social is more about relationship building. So what ways can you use it in December to build and reinforce relationships that have been fostered all year long? What kinds of sharable resources are you creating for your campaign? Infographics? Share-images? Are your landing pages social media optimized? You will need to get creative here.

8.) Keep a log

You will be learning a ton of good things as you go through this year-end campaign. So keep a log of the things you learn. What worked well this year? What bombed?

You also should be checking out other organizations to see what they are doing during the year-end. Take notes. Take screenshots and screencasts of great ideas and keep them in your notebook.

Then set a calendar reminder to review this next August as you start to plan for year-end 2016!

I certainly didn’t cover everything one could do for year-end fundraising planning. What’s one thing you do that I missed on my list

Social Media Helps Us See More of God’s Work

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Social Media Helps Us See More of God’s Work

By Matt Brown

We live in a time of God moving around the world in ways unprecedented in Church history, but most of us are stuck in the “bad news” media cycle that keeps our heads spinning with worry and concern for the future of our children.

With all the bad news that floods our TV and smart phone, God’s Word calls us to focus on that which is good. Philippians 4:8 chides our over-worried generation saying, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

How much of your life would change if you focused on the good?

What most Christians don’t realize is that there is so much good God is doing in the world today, and there is constant fodder for which to focus our hearts on, that would encourage and surprise us, and lift our faith to new levels.

I share many stories of the astonishing work of God in the world today in my upcoming book Awakening (releases February 10 from Leafwood Publishers).

One of the easiest ways to open your eyes to more of what God is doing is to simply open Twitter, and follow what God is doing in the Church on social media.

In my new book, I write, “Some of the signs of spiritual awakening in the world today can be found on social media. Local pastors that you’ve probably never heard of have tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of real followers on social media.”

The business magazine Fast Company reports, “Celebrities aren’t the only ones who can claim royal status on Twitter.” Though he might not be Kim Kardashian, the Pope has already collected hundreds of thousands of followers for his Twitter account. It’s not surprising that holy high rollers are drawn to the medium: religious leaders on average pull more weight per tweet, with one retweet for every five hundred followers. In comparison, musicians typically get a retweet for every thirty thousand followers.

“We see a very high level of engagement with religious and spiritual content,” a Twitter spokeswoman told CNN. “Followers respond to these topics with replies, retweets, and clicks on links much more often than they do other subjects.”

The New York Times originated this study, stating: Why are some tweets more popular than others? When a Twitter staff member set out to answer that question 10 months ago, he thought the answer would emerge among posts from NBA players, politicians, or actors. Instead, he found a mystery: a set of messages that were ricocheting around Twitter being forwarded and responded to at a rate that was off the charts. “They were punching way above their weight,” said Robin Sloan, who discovered the anomaly but did not recognize the names behind the tweets. Joyce Meyer, Max Lucado, and Andy Stanley were not well known inside Twitter’s offices. But they had all built loyal ranks of followers well beyond their social networks — they were Christian leaders whose inspirational messages of God’s love perform about 30 times as well as Twitter messages from pop culture powerhouses like Lady Gaga.3  (Awakening, pp. 57-58)

At this year’s NRB Digital Media Summit, Lord Robert Edmiston, a member of the British House of Lords, will share his personal journey of transforming, literally overnight, his worldwide radio broadcasting ministry into a digital media ministry focusing on evangelism using short form digital videos on a mobile platform.

We don’t need to look further than social media to see that God is at work in the Church around the world in surprising ways. This is one of the many reasons it is important for Church leaders to engage on social media. It will encourage and inspire their faith. We need to be careful not to get too focused on our own ministry bubbles that we become disconnected from all God is doing in other places.

Matt Brown is an evangelist, author of Awakening: How God’s Next Great Move Inspires and Influences Our Lives Today (Spring 2015, Leafwood Publishers), and founder of Think Eternity. He and his wife, Michelle, are impacting thousands of people with the Gospel each year through live events and online. They also minister to more than 400,000 followers on social media daily.

The Art of Social Media

Guy Kawasaki is all about telling stories. If you asked him about all of his books he’s written, he’d tell you that he’s written the same book twelve times. After all, he has plenty of stories to tell. Guy got his start at a fine jewelry manufacturer, Nova, where he says, “I learned how to sell, and this skill was vital to my entire career.” Eventually, the Apple II came along and Guy was brought on for his first stint at Apple during the ‘Macintosh Era’ where he evangelized the company to software and hardware developers – and even met his wife Beth. As Guy puts it, “Apple has been very good to me.”

With his latest book – the 13th ‘same book’ he’s written – titled The Art of Social Media, Guy uses his insight as a pioneer of business blogging and social media to share practical tips to create a bottom-up strategy, giving organizations a compelling presence across their social media platforms. While many believe that curated content is the best strategy, Guy argues that storytelling is a better method, albeit tougher. “Storytelling is much harder than curating other people’s content because it requires that you have a good story to tell…” As attendees of NRB, the tougher ‘storytelling’ method is already taken care of. We have the best story in the world to tell – Christ crucified on our behalf and rose that we might have eternal life. Guy’s morning keynote at the Digital Media Summit will teach those in ministry how to do exactly that – how they can effectively tell this wonderful story using social media.

Few have done more in the world of social media, marketing, and technology than Guy Kawasaki. He has been chief evangelist at Apple, started a database company ACIUS, was a special adviser to Motorola, and has started Fog City Software and angel investor matchmaking firm garage.com. In his latest role, Guy has resurrected his ‘Chief Evangelist’ title at graphic design tech company Canva. Sydney based Canva makes free software that allows people to design graphics they can use on social media, blog posts, presentations and more.

This will be a fantastic keynote, combining Guy’s matchless presentation style with his knowledge and experience in the industry – all combined with a perspective from his own personal faith.

“I am a Christ follower… I like to be seen as an example of someone in business who can operate at an ethical level without having to do bad things, who believes in Christ.”

While not outspoken about his faith, Guy admits in an interview with The High Calling, “I don’t make a big deal of it. I don’t try to hold myself up as this role model that everybody should aspire to because I think that is such a slippery slope.” Guy has also attended the Billy Graham School of Evangelism, where he says, “Some of the finest speakers that I’ve seen (and tried to copy) were on a pulpit – not an operating system… but a church pulpit.” While he embraces his ‘Chief Evangelist’ title with Canva, he’s freely admitted, “…this isn’t a fair comparison because eternal life and forgiveness are far better products than most operating systems.”

Join us for this enchanting keynote at the NRB Digital Media Summit to learn from Guy Kawasaki how to use The Art of Social Media to tell the greatest story ever told!