Interview with Alan Earl on Outsourcing Facebook Advertising
Many companies still haven’t realized how to best profit from Social Media as a powerful Business Tool
Back in 2000 Alan Earl was “teased” into an on-line Marketing venture by a family member, and ended up learning hands-on about it in its early stages (on the dawn of Social Media Marketing). During such process, he realized that small companies (like dentists or accountants) while needing the internet to market their businesses, had no Marketing structure to resort to (Marketing Department or agency), so Alan decided to fill the gap by offering his gathered expertise as an on-line Digital Marketing Agency. Having Social Media grown to become the “prime path” leading focal access to potential individual customers, his offering portfolio shifted accordingly.
Everybody now knows they need a website, and one that can be easily found via Google or another search engine, therefore they also somehow know they need SEO. Social Media wise, only some companies (having already experienced it or known of success stories) are aware of its inherent high potential, and those are the ones coming knocking on Earl’s door. Other prospects need to be sold in about the benefits, because although they have heard about it, they do not realize it’s high potential.
How to prove Social Media ROI?
Alan explains that ROI perception depends on the initial motivation to go Social, meaning if the initial objective was to generate sales, then ROI is perceived as sales start to raise, easy! But if the objective was to generate brand awareness or gather qualified email addresses, then it can take much longer to assess that the Social Media Marketing Campaign is being a success, hence ROI perception is delayed in time.
Besides “absolute no-go products”, like guns, platforms like Facebook also do not enjoy having people’s fragilities pointed out, so publishing a Marketing Teaser where one directly asks “are you fat?” is highly unappreciated by Facebook. This means that doing Social Media Advertising for some business niches like health and fitness is much harder than selling a product like jewelry.
While in average Googling for something just twice a day, most people go to Facebook 10 or 15 times.
Being that, in average, people access social media several times a day there are several opportunities a day for companies to reach that person with their marketing message, and with regards to Facebook at least the “channel is not saturated”.
Why going for Outsourcing?
Alan is very pragmatic here; there are no secrets to Social Digital Marketing, there is just a learning curve that implies time, money and mistakes before you get it right. So, maybe even if a given company wants to do it on its own, it is advisable to start by hiring expertise, shortening the learning curve and avoiding painful pitfalls.
Everyone has the “do it yourself capability”, but starting there implies inevitable mistakes and missing required flexibility to pivot in case of market change, and audiences interest trigger points do change, a lot and often.
Choosing a freelancer starts with looking at other client’s reviews and experiences. Then one needs to clearly define which are the expected deliverables (or what to achieve) plus which are the KPIs that demonstrate being on the right path (e.g. views; clicks; e-mails gathered; other…) and track them to assess effectiveness. He presents a clear straightforward example: “… if the cost per click is $5 and the client is trying to sell a product with a unit cost of $5, then that would require a 100% click to conversion ratio just to break even, which is not at all appealing …”, so it is mandatory to correctly assess the required investment versus potential gain.
A good professional Digital Marketing Agency needs to help the client both on setting the goals, the KPIs, measuring them and proposing strategic adjustments that lead to improving results.
The starting point should be to clearly establish expectations. Assessing the client’s expectations, discussing them and establishing feasible goals; Alan introduces a couple of stories where expectations had not been properly set from the beginning.
Upon Outsourcing, start by clearly defining what you want. Then you define the agenda, after all it is your Business, not the freelancers.
Have you already “ fired” a client?
A client was hoping for the agency to basically manage his business by creating the entire market strategy, where in fact a consultant expert exists to coach and support, not to step in and steer the boat.
What do you Outsource?
Upon starting his business, Alan needed a website developed and that was his first outsourcing hire. From that point, onwards “… it must have been some couple of hundred thousand dollars spent in outsourcing services …” in his own words.
It is also vital to invest own time and effort, providing the freelancer with a clear definition of what, why, when, how needs to be done, up to the minimum details.
Having a fixed price or hour rate based project, at the end translates into the same effort, but while hiring fixed price based jobs, sometimes means getting a lower cost than initially expected (even not speaking of underbidding), because if the freelancer is really good at it, he/ she will not have in mind the hour rate when submitting the proposal but the effectively required work effort.
Nevertheless the vanishing freelancer syndrome exists and it is helpful to work on some platforms (like Upwork) which enable some degree of funds safe keeping by holding the money for you until proof of work accomplishment.
Establishing trust while Outsourcing is still an ongoing struggle.
Alan confesses to struggling with writing projects, given the rates that good writers ask even if he understands the hardship that the task represents.
An advice to Outsourcing providers?
Being very specific about what the offering comprehends is key for getting hired. The one does all approach leads nowhere. Then having a price matching the benchmark (maybe lower to begin with).