Facebook Advertising: Not For The Faint of Heart
The secret to successfully selling wine through Facebook comes down to the same types of strategies that winemakers use every day. Persistence, patience, intellectual curiosity, and dogged determination are shared traits by both great Facebook marketers and great winemakers. These qualities are critical because the Facebook algorithm, like the process of winemaking, can be unpredictable. You know you’re going to come out on the other side with a great product, but each vintage, like each campaign may take a different route to success.
Just like winemaking, selling wine through Facebook is a constantly moving target with a bunch of ‘gotchas’ and surprising eureka moments of pure advertising bliss. Some ads will succeed and others won’t. The same ad in a separate ad account with the same targeting and same budget can perform wildly differently.
The Facebook Algorithm
To simplify greatly, the overarching principle of the Facebook advertising algorithm is to match ads to the consumers who want to see them and are most likely to act on them based on the selected objectives of your campaign.
The social platform is intensely secretive about how exactly it works. Even their public documentation is frustratingly vague. We do know that Facebook relies on machine learning, so the more it knows about your objectives, and the more consistently you advertise, the better it understands who is most likely to take the right action, whether it’s purchasing your product, driving website clicks, or engaging with your content.
- The Algorithm Changes Every Time A New Ad Is Deployed
- Every Minute of Every Day, 24/7, It’s Different
'Through' Versus 'On' Facebook
First, there are two definitions I want to clear up right away. You can’t sell wine ON Facebook. Facebook has a cool function for non-alcohol brands to upload products directly onto Facebook and sell directly from the platform. For wine, beer & spirits, this is a no go. What we are going to address in this article is selling wine THROUGH Facebook advertising. Many wineries successfully advertise both their wine products and promote winery visits with paid media on the social network.
Formal Testing Approach
Angelsmith has developed a formal testing methodology for Facebook advertising that guides our changes throughout the campaign. If you don’t have a systemized testing approach, you are going to run through your budget without achieving your goals, your nerves will fray and you will wrongly conclude, that you can’t sell wine through Facebook.
Finding Your Consumer: Affluent Wine Buyers
Angelsmith has helped wineries, both large and small, use the social giant to help sell more wine and drive tasting room traffic. The micro-targeting is so precise, and the reach and penetration into affluent wine consumers is so immense, we do little other social advertising on any other platform.
Over the last three years we’ve helped our winery clients earn more than $1 million in sales. We expect that number to increase as consumers become more accustomed to buying luxury wines online and wineries increasingly turn to Facebook to sell directly to consumers.
Advertisers can get as granular as targeting their own email list or reaching new consumers with a specific profile. Trying to reach consumers to drive retail depletions? Wineries can serve up ads to consumers within a mile radius of grocery stores, and narrowly define the exact consumer most likely to pull their wine off the shelf.
Facebook Is Wine Friendly
While Google is still the king of search, it doesn’t allow wine product display ads. This makes Facebook one of the best channels for ads showcasing glorious bottles of wine and fabulous tasting rooms.
Beyond CPC, CPM, Automatic, and Manual
A thorough bid strategy can make or break your Facebook advertising effort. Facebook’s ad bidding operates like one ginormous auction. Because it uses machine learning to match the right people to your ads, it needs time to work. Facebook will serve the ads up to people who they believe are the best match. Their goal is to generate revenue and if they can ad match best, they and the brands who advertise successfully, will both achieve financial success. It is in their best interest to help advertisers.
Advertisers need to first understand what they are trying to accomplish
Depending on the Facebook campaign objective you choose, you’ll get a different set of options that are best-suited to that goal. There are numerous variations - CPC, CPM, manual bid or automatic and many possible combinations.
Before making any bid decisions, your advertising team needs to have a thorough understanding of the winery’s goals, and how it be most cost effective to Intercept & Influence™ your customers along their path to purchase. For an understanding of how consumers use social media to choose tasting room experiences, please see our statistics from a recent survey.
Align Your Bid Strategy With Your Customer Journey
The consumer’s path to purchase is extremely complex. Each step in their journey requires different targeting, bid strategy and content. The goal is to gently move your consumer down the sales funnel from initial awareness all the way through to recommendation. A successful Facebook bid and ad strategy can help consumers better engage with the winery’s advertising.
In our experience, wineries need a combination of Facebook advertising bidding strategies for both product sales and winery visits. This is one of the reasons you can’t just let Facebook’s automatic bidding do all the heavy lifting for you. When you do let Facebook determine your bid, you may earn some decent results, but each time we’ve tested manually optimized campaigns against the automatic platform bidding, the manual campaign has delivered better results.
Potential Viral Success
There is the opportunity for your ad to go mini-viral. But you need to know your core wine customer well in order to serve up the right content that motivates shares, likes and comments.
Essentially, this is what happened to one of our wine clients. The brand’s advocates, both those on their email list and Page fans, amplified the campaign beyond its initial targeting. It received hundreds of shares, likes and comments that resulted in more than 40% of its online wine sales from Facebook originating from new visitors.
Test Test Test
Put a testing strategy in place. Micro changes can produce great results. Our favorite saying at Angelsmith is from Al Pacino’s character in the film Any Given Sunday when in the locker room at halftime with his losing football team, he says “The inches we need are everywhere around us.” Add up all the inches and suddenly you have a winning Facebook advertising program.
Beat On The Beast Everyday
To truly succeed on Facebook you need to obsessively monitor, track and tweak your strategy. You need to declare you are going to win this advertising war with this great beast. If may not work for you in the beginning, I hope it does, but don’t give up and never give in.
Help Yourself, Get Help
It’s extremely cutthroat. You’re competing against not just other wineries, but every other product being advertised on Facebook. The platform is changing all the time, the algorithm literally changes every time another advertiser places an ad, when the latest breaking news jams newsfeeds, and a host of other things that can derail a perfectly good campaign.
Facebook is one of the most sophisticated advertising tools for direct to consumer wine brands.
It’s also deceptively challenging. It’s easy to fill in your credit card information, set up an ad account and get ads up and running quickly. But that’s the end of the easy part. Multiple ad sets, targeting, ad delivery, sales attribution tracking and bidding can get crazy competitive. Because you’re not just competing with other wineries, you’re competing with the world.
Because the Facebook advertising algorithm is unpredictable and updates rapidly, it requires constant attention with lots of tender loving care. We check our client’s ads obsessively, analyze real time results, and make meaningful adjustments against our systematic testing plan throughout each day.