Over the past few years I’ve run dozens of Facebook ad campaigns with mixed success. During that time some of the most successful campaigns have been for event promotion. Yet I still see very few people using Facebook ads to promote their events.
Thanks to increasingly improved targeting options, using Facebook ads for event promotion can yield fantastic results. Ads for events follow many of the same guidelines as any other Facebook ad but there are a few key differences that can really drive success.
1. Use off-site registration
You’ll hear that the rule of thumb is to run Facebook ads that don’t lead users away from Facebook. That’s generally a good idea but event promotion is an exception. The issue with driving visitors to your Facebook event page is that it’s just too easy to click that Join button for the event without any real intent behind it. I’ve found that an extremely low percentage of people who say they’ll attend the event on your Facebook page actually attend.
To avoid this you’ll want to set up a registration page outside of Facebook. There are a lot of great event registration websites out there but I prefer to use a form that can be embedded on my own website. Here you can require that they give their name, email address and possibly more information. Although this may weed out a few registrants, I’ve found that the people who do register are much more serious about attending and you will see a much higher percentage of these people actually show up for the event. In addition, harvesting email addresses of registrants allows you to send a reminder email before the event, which also improves attendance.
If you use this route make sure you use a Thank You page so that you can track conversions. In the ad setup process Facebook now allows you to easily drive ads for website conversion and provides conversion tracking pixel for you to place on your Thank You page. This will help you track the effectiveness of your of your ads and help drive relevant visitors.
Targeting is one of Facebook’s strongest features and your options for precise targeting are fantastic when it comes to event marketing.
Custom Audiences: Custom audiences is one of the most powerful ad tools as it allows you to target very specific users. An explanation of Custom Audiences is beyond the scope of this post but HubSpot has a great article that outlines the process. Ideally you’ll have a list of past attendees that you can target or you can use the Similar Audience feature to find potential new registrants. There are also retargeting opportunities here for reaching people who have already shown an interest in your brand or event.
Location: If your event is at a physical location then location targeting is an obvious choice. Typically people will travel a few miles for an event but for local events you won’t need to reach users 100 miles away. The more you can narrow down your target area the more effective your ads will be and the less money you’ll need to spend to reach your goal.
Interest: There can be a tendency sometimes to want to push your ads to everyone, especially if it is for a more general event. However, unless you have an unlimited budget you’ll want to think about the types of people who will really be interested in what you have to offer. Will you have live blues band at your event? Facebook has identified 348,430,800 people who are interested in “Rhythm and blues music.” Promoting a garlic festival? There are 9,421,728 people on Facebook who have expressed their love of garlic. You’ll also want to consider interests that are loosely related to your event. For instance if you’re planning a health fair then health and wellness interests are an obvious choice. Dig a little deeper though and consider targeting those interested in yoga, or a vegan diet.
You’ll also want to use different creative depending on your audience. Using the example above, if a blues band is only one part of your festival then you’d want to create ads highlighting aspect for users who have expressed an interest in Rhythm and Blues music. It’s a little more work to create multiple ads but you’ll find your ads are much more effective if they’re unique to each audience.
It’s easy to tell yourself that everyone in your city would be interested in your event, but unless you have an unlimited budget then you’ll want to narrow your targeting as much as possible. You can always expand your focus later if you have excess budget.
Great images are a foundation for any Facebook ad campaign and it’s important to use them effectively when advertising your event. Look for image opportunities that are unique to your event. If you’re trying to attract out of town attendees then try using a photo of a well-known landmark in your target city. Maybe you’ve got a lineup of well-known speakers, try using their photos to help promote your event. If you’ve set up a custom audience of past attendees then a memorable image from a previous event could trigger a click.
There are a million image options out there. It’s important to get creative with your selection and even more important to target the image to the target audience for each ad. For more on Facebook ad image sizes check out this great post from Merry Morud. It’s a little old but the image selection principles are still relevant.
Facebook ads can be a great option for promoting your events. With advanced targeting options and online registration you can ensure that you’re spending your money in the most effective way possible.