Facebook Marketing: No Search Intent? No Problem

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I was surprised to see an SEO expert recently post one about how Facebook’s lack of search intent (a la Google keywords) is why it isn’t profitable.

I wouldn’t be surprised about this if it were 2009 or 2010. But now that businesses have made profits with Facebook, a comment like that means that the SEO guy is either uninformed, or so vested in Google remaining the King Kong of Internet Marketing (too late, it’s already been dethroned) that he is immune to the truth. “My mind is made up! Don’t confuse me with the facts!”

But on the off chance that this hasn’t already been well communicated to the search marketing community, let me explain how Facebook marketing is as good or better than search marketing.

The Limitations of Search Intent

Yes, I understand… if I sell shoes and someone searches for “buy shoes” or “buy prada shoes”, that’s going to be a pretty high ROI keyword if I don’t screw up my website or shopping cart. The problem is, if someone searches for “shoes”, there’s a good chances that’s not a positive ROI keyword. In other words, the number of keywords that will bring me profits is quite limited, especially in AdWords.

  • There are more than 45 million searches for “shoes” monthly on Google.
  • There are only 1% as many searches for “buy shoes”
  • “buy shoes online” is an even safer bet but only 0.2% of “shoe” searchers are searching that specifically

As you can see, limiting yourself to these buying intent keywords wipes out about 99.8% of the market. Should we do that? Of course, if we’re only looking for profit on the next sale. But then we’re also competing on price with all the other businesses who are only advertising at the bottom of the funnel. We lower our profits and our conversion rate with all that competitive shopping. Welcome to the Red Ocean where everyone chews everyone else to bits.

My experience running AdWords accounts for a lot of advertisers over the last six years is that typically, only about 5-10% of the keywords are actually profitable. Sure, if you do long-tail SEO, there’s good ROI there. But if you want to expand your business, or you’ve mastered all of that, where do you go next? Or what if, as in some cases, you find that AdWords simply doesn’t work for your business? One student of our FanReach course found that because he had a new product that was a hybrid of two things, AdWords’s quality score wouldn’t let him advertise it affordably.

The problem with search marketing is that it’s only profitable for a very small part of the sales funnel. If you run AdWords, you can’t make money getting prospects who are not ready to buy. Not so with Facebook.

Expanding Your Business and Sales Funnel With Facebook

The fact that Facebook ad CPC is from two to ten times cheaper than AdWords means that you can afford to get those general “shoes” customers. Not to mention, you can get them as fans for a lot less than you can get email addresses. On average in fan acquisition campaigns, 75% of the people who click on my clients ads are clicking Like to become fans. The cost of a fan is only 33% higher than the cost per click. There’s no way you’re converting 75% of any traffic to an email subscriber. And while you can post daily to a Facebook fan, you can’t email a subscriber daily without getting mass unsubscribes.

Facebook works the opposite way. You find someone who you know is so passionate about something that they’re going to be a lifetime customer, you get them to interact, you warm them up and build a relationship with them before they even consider your competition. You remove yourself from the red ocean of price wars and create a blue ocean of relationships.

It’s not pie in the sky. As I said, there are public case studies that show it’s possible for small businesses, and stories I can’t tell (due to NDA) of the Fortune 1000 getting profits.

An Appeal to SEO’s and AdWords Consultants

If all your money comes from doing Google marketing for clients, you know you could lose money to Facebook marketing. Consider this: learn how to do Facebook marketing, add that arrow to your quiver and you can only help your clients even more. It’s actually really nice to be able to recommend what’s best for each client, rather than being biased to have to recommend only one or two things.

Brian Carter
Brian is author of The Like Economy: How Businesses Make Money With Facebook and Facebook Marketing: Leveraging Facebook's Features For Your Marketing Campaigns, How to... Read Full Bio
Brian Carter
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