Say what you want about Facebook the social media platform, but from an advertiser’s perspective it’s pretty clear that Facebook (the business) had managed to create a phenomenal advertising platform for local businesses. From being able to launch your ads across the biggest phone apps simultaneously, to the variety of campaign goals you could choose; Facebook was killing it.
One of the standout advert types that Facebook offered was “Message Now” ads, and being able to optimise adverts to increase the amount of messages your Facebook and Instagram page receive. For a lot of small businesses this was a game changer. If you’re unaware how these work, it’s as follows:
- You’d see an advert on Facebook for a service/product.
- Click on the advert and it’ll take you through to Messenger or Instagram Direct Messenger, with the option to message the page advertising the service/product if you’re interested.
- If you message, this then connects you and the company for you to make an enquiry.
This gave local businesses a competitive edge, allowing them to deliver an intimate customer service experience that big companies couldn’t compete with, and advertise for a low cost. They didn’t even need a website to get started as it was all within Facebook!
Additionally, you could even setup automated responses if you didn’t want to handle all the messages.
Using this service I was able to help many local businesses with generating new business. We saw plumbers do video calls to quote for bathroom installations and even invoice through Messenger, we used automated messaging to help our client sell reception screens to business owners during the first lockdown in April/May, and helped a boutique shop owner sell marble tableware by creating a virtual shopping experience.
The downfall of Messenger adverts 🧨
This month, though, Facebook has decided to ruin this advert type for many small businesses.
Firstly, they increased the minimum daily spend to £5 per day for “Message Now” adverts (from £0.80). Secondly, they stopped allowing businesses to optimise the ads for messages, meaning the adverts are unable to provide the same results previously possible.
Adverts that were previously generating amazing results are now much less successful, essentially meaning that I’ll need to completely rethink my client’s strategies who were previously getting most of their sales through Facebook Messenger.
Oh, and Facebook pulled automated responses (unless you were a big enough business to keep it like John Lewis).
Some ideas for trying to resolve the issue 🔧
Whilst I’m still trying to find clear longterm solutions, I thought I’d share ideas that could yield positive results.
One idea I’m currently trying is using “Engagement” ads, and adding a “Message Now” button to the advert. I’m hoping that by targeting “engagement” there is an overlap with those engaging through messages, and this will hopefully result in a comparable amount of messages to before.
Also, engagement should mean comments on the advert (which you can reply to in order and encourage to message you directly). Whilst imperfect, any avenue to chat with potential customers is worth exploring.
A more boring idea is to just focus on website traffic, and encourage people to use a lead form (such as Typeform) or engage with your own live chat feature. However, part of why the “Message Now” adverts worked so well previously was because everything was conveniently within Facebook, rather than requiring the individual to give out contact information. So while this may work okay, you’re less likely to receive impulse enquiries.
Alternatively you can get people to try and submit information through a Facebook lead form, but this does not match the back and forth which messaging provides.
I hope this helps anyone dealing with this currently, and those who may have thought this was specific to their business. Please get in touch with any questions and I’ll be pleased to help!
This actually annoyed me a lot, as part of the updated version of my marketing guide was going to be around Messenger adverts and their performance… I guess that won’t work now!