A month ago I sat for a cup of coffee with Marin Zlataric from Aureus Digital. Among other topics, we had a nice conversation about ditching lead ads for direct online appointments. Everyone and their grandma uses lead ads nowadays. But are they really effective? You can already guess the answer – NOT. If everyone uses something, it becomes mainstream, therefore – less effective.
Marin has proven this by successfully testing “the new way” of maximizing sales by completely avoiding lead ads & lead generation on a strategic level for several service-based SME clients including dentists, beauticians, hairstylists, aesthetic clinics, etc. What’s the catch?
Our conversation went something along these lines.
But, what’s wrong with lead ads in the first place?
You would probably go over to Facebook Ads, set up some campaigns, choose the Leads objective and start collecting names, phone numbers, email addresses, and etc. However, there’s a problem – what to do once you get these leads?
Well, you need to call or email the person who left you their contact info in order to follow up on your ads. And what happens then? Well, you can guess it – most of the time you get a few responses out of a dozen leads at best.
When optimizing towards leads, algorithms prioritize users that are most likely to leave their contact info. Not many of them are willing to take a step further. Some may have come for “freebies”, some are just too busy to remember.
Also, you need a dedicated sales rep or CRM software to support your advertising efforts in order to convert those leads. All of this adds up to costs, and it’s time-consuming. This is how you lose most of your leads!
So, what do you suggest?
Stop stealing your users’ time. Make them give you their time. Apply reverse-psychology and FOMO, make them want your service. Be there for them instead of making them be there for you, which happens to be the case when you contact your leads.
Interesting point. How do you achieve that?
Well, you’d still use Facebook Ads as the medium. But, the strategy is something where you’d need to completely rethink the approach. How? Well, it’s a three-step process:
- Focus on appointment bookings instead of leads,
- Know your client. Run a proper discovery phase with each and every client to understand their business, their customers, and create their value proposition,
- Run video ads featuring the person whose services you sell via ads. Make it natural, avoid excessive editing. It adds up to credibility. And, you should use the conversion objective. Build a landing page with an offer. Use an appointment calendar. Tip: get a randomizer tool to pre-book a dozen of available appointment slots to boost the scarcity effect.
Let’s talk about numbers. Have you run any A/B tests?
Yes, of course. We’re talking here about the US market. The average cost per appointment is between $3 and $7. This might sound expensive if you compare it to cost per lead, which can be as low as $0.5, with average leads being $1.2. But, once the person attends the appointment, especially if it’s in person, conversion rates are dramatically higher. We had a minimum 30% conversion rate from an appointment to service purchase. This means that every 3rd user that booked appointments converts! Compare it to the lead conversion rate, which is at best at around (1-3%), and you get a huge difference.
Can we calculate the bottom line?
Yes, let’s say that a client invests $2.000 in Facebook Ads per month and that their service price is $1.000.
With a classic lead ads setup, they can get back at most 50-80 sales or $50.000 – $80.000 in services sold. While, on the other hand, the same amount of investment in appointment bookings will probably yield back something closer to 150 sales or $150.000 in services sold.
Here is what you can expect after launch and before optimization:
Wow, that seems huge! A bit before we spoke about a 3-step process, which is of immense importance to this strategy. Can you tell me a bit more about it?
So, we talked about the first step – switch the strategy to getting appointments instead of getting leads. But, that’s just a start. In order to properly leverage the benefits of appointment booking, you need to know your client.
What do I mean by this? Well, you need to work together with a client on a brief that will answer those questions:
- Who are we as a business?
- What is our vision and mission?
- What do we sell?
- What is our market landscape?
- Who are our competitors?
- Who are our customers?
- What does our customer’s journey look like?
- What are our customer’s pain points?
These questions will help you define the value proposition. The value proposition needs to solve the customer’s problem. Remember, customers don’t care about your service as such, they want you to solve their problem. The service is just the means of doing it.
Once you know the value proposition, you need to use it consistently in ads, and on the landing page. That’s the third step.
What are the key items in creating ad content?
Never talk about yourself in ads. No one cares. You should intrigue your audience and solve their problems. Let me give you a few examples.
If you’re selling a web design service, you won’t communicate in ads something along the lines “We’re the best web design agency in the United States. We’ve won 10 web design awards, we have certificates, and etc.”. You will communicate more like “Here’s how you can instantly increase your conversion rates by 10% using our scientifically designed websites.”. This is something that will intrigue users because it gives a solution to a possible pain point, and invites them to learn more about your value proposition.
Also, You should always niche down the communication. Try to personalize your ad content as much as possible. Create ads that at the same time build awareness, social proof, and that convert. Build engagement on ads, as it increases social proof: more video views, more likes, more comments, and shares. Ads have two main parts: ad creative, and ad copy.
- Always go with a video,
- Feature a person that has know-how and has authority to speak about solving customer problems,
- Make video look natural as much as possible. Post-production is not needed, you can literally film them with an iPhone. After all, we’re on the social media landscape here,
- Focus the video narrative on benefits & social proof. Use user-generated content if possible,
- Embed captions into video, as not everyone is playing them with sound on,
- Test 3-5 versions of ad creative.
- Start the primary text by introducing the main customer pain point in question form. This invites users to click on “see more” and expand the full ad copy,
- The formula for the rest of ad copy: start with benefits, then risk & agitate, and finally give a solution + CTA,
- Always use long-form ad copy. We tested it multiple times and it just performs better than a short-form ad copy. Take note that this is valid for our strategy, not universally,
- Test 3-5 versions of ad copy.
Here is one example of the ad we found that follows that exact guideline.
What does the landing page need to look like?
We build 3 pages: a landing page (a sales page), an appointment page, and a thank you page. The UI design follows the client’s brand guidelines. So, what does the landing (sales) page UX look like?
The landing page usually has a minimum of 1.500 words. The first and main part is the offer, where we write in detail about benefits. The second part is the video. Here we like to A/B test different approaches: problem/risk/solution vs. benefit-oriented content. The final part is a call to action that directs to an appointment booking calendar.
Also, we usually split test different text copies: benefit-oriented vs. social-proof oriented, and different CTA combinations (buttons, colors, and etc.). To build landing pages we use Appointmatic – created especially for this purpose. In the past, we used Calendly or Acuity in combination with tools like Active Campaign. But Appointmatic is a tool that combines it all – from building landing pages, scheduling appointments, automating reminders and email flows as well as communication with clients (CRM) in one tool. Of course, you can use any other tool that you prefer.
How do you set up remarketing?
Actually, we don’t go in-depth with remarketing, as we focus on new customers acquisition. Remarketing-wise, we only advertise to landing page visitors with a 30-day or similar retention period. If someone is not ready to book an appointment after that, then we simply exclude them from our funnel.
What about communication? We build it more around the user-generated content than what we would typically do for the new users.
Why Facebook Ads?
It just works the best with broad audiences. Facebook in conversion-oriented campaigns qualifies users by intent really well. Even iOS changes did not hinder this. If you set up a proper funnel and address user pain points through it – it won’t make any difference pre and post iOS changes.
Let me give another example. You know about the LED dog collars, right? Well, thousands of marketers focus on pointless product features within their ads: colors, charging, what not… while a small number of them will actually communicate the benefit or problem-solution – that it helps you to make your dog noticeable at night and prevents fatal injuries from car accidents.
If you know what to communicate within your ads, no iOS change or whatever will hinder your performance.
So, to conclude…
Would the appointment booking campaigns achieve a 30% conversion rate if we did not define the offer, customer journey, pain points, did not use video ads, did not make a proper landing page, and did not generate social proof? Probably not.
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