The Secret to Paid Social Ads in 2023

The Secret to Paid Social Ads in 2023

In 2023, paid ads are anything but a simple addition to your marketing strategy. With all the updates to Facebook and Instagram, a steep shift to pay-to-play content, and daily algorithm changes, social ads end up feeling… pretty pointless.

Not to mention expensive.

The truth is: Ads have changed and so have the way we’ve consumed them. But change isn’t always bad.

No, using ads in lieu of an organic social media strategy for a launch won’t work like it did in 2015. But paid social ads can move your business forward in 2023. How? I dig into that here. First, though, it helps to have some background on how ads have changed.

Paid social ads after 2021: What happened?

Apple’s iOS 14.5 released in April of 2021, and it disrupted the ads industry. Why? For the first time in Meta platform history, people using iOS devices could opt out of tracking.

Big oof for advertisers.

Prior to that update, 70% of iPhone users were sharing their IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers), which allowed advertisers to track users’ ad interactions. But with the iOS update, that number is now only 13% globally (some reports have even shown estimates as low as 5%).

For Meta-focused advertisers, this is a real hit because seven-day click reporting doesn’t include data for folks who have opted out. In lay terms? There’s no longer a full picture of what’s really happening with your ads.

For users who opt out of tracking, data will only be gathered around their highest-priority event using a one-day click attribution model. But one day isn’t enough to make accurate conclusions about how people interact with your funnels or your ads.

As you can imagine, with less targeted tracking and reporting comes higher costs to advertise, especially on Meta platforms.

In just two years, the cost to advertise to 1,000 users tripled, increasing from $6 to $18. And because social media has come to rely heavily on the “pay to play” model, many brands are either forced to eat their ad spend or just not grow.

This is why paid social is no longer the end-all-be-all for brands seeking growth on social. It can be incredibly expensive — without any return on ad spend (ROAS) if it's poorly implemented.

But if your brand wants to leverage paid ads in 2023, it is still possible to find success and ROAS. The key is to create an ecosystem of targeted, retargeted, and valued-based content.

Paid social ads in 2023: How to see ROAS

With decreased tracking and reporting abilities and increased costs, it might feel like ads aren’t worth it anymore. And in many cases, that may be true. 

For example, putting ad spend behind an unvetted offer? That’s not going to work.

Ads pushing a cold audience to a high-ticket offer? Also not going to work.

What is working though? Focusing on value, and understanding the different needs of a cold, warm, and hot audience.

Understanding your audience

Your ads boil down to how well you know your audience at different points in their journey — and how well you cater your “boosted content” to click with them.

If you have a cold lead but only advertise your $14K mastermind, for example, it’s clear you don’t really know your audience. Plus, that’s just going to cost you money. Those cold leads don’t know who you are or if you can help them specifically.

A lead magnet, on the other hand, is much more likely to reel in a cold lead because it’s low cost (usually $free.99) and low risk. You show them that you know their pain points, you build trust, and you’re providing value. 

Then as they become acquainted with you, they’ll want more from you. They’ll start looking at your social feeds, consuming your other content, and generally falling more into your orbit. This is where knowing your content pillars comes in clutch, as well.

Once you’ve warmed up a cold lead, you can start reaching them with ads to paid offers or telling them more about the features of your products or services.

Don’t forget: In this new ads landscape, you need to nurture leads on platforms beyond ads. You want to capture them as a follower — or more ideally, as an email subscriber — so you can build a connection after the initial ad interaction.

Organize your sales funnels

Once someone clicks an ad, retargeting ads are great for moving them further along your sales funnel.

It’s a marketing tale as old as time: A cold lead downloads a guide, then they are retargeted into promotions for a low-cost offer, then they’re retargeted into a high-ticket offer.

But this tale as old as time has changed for a modern social landscape. For this to work, you have to have your funnels organized and optimized — and you have to think about how you’re engaging your audience beyond ads alone.

With iOS 14, it may be hard to attribute a sale to an ad. However, if you capture a cold lead’s email, you can absolutely attribute a sale to the sequence emails they receive. An email conversion tells us that your first point of contact, your ad, is working. And so is the rest of your funnel.

But the important thing to note here is that an ads-only strategy is no longer going to work. With tracking and reporting changes, brands need to approach ad leads with a relationship-nurturing mindset.

Getting your ads strategy right

While ads are no longer $0.10 per conversion, they can still be incredibly valuable in building brand awareness and creating a steady trickle of vetted, qualified leads or purchasers. But as you can see from everything above, it all comes down to your ads strategy.

And your ads strategy is no longer siloed — it feeds into everything your brand is doing on social platforms as well as the platforms you own (your website, email, etc.).

If you want to learn how to drive accelerated brand awareness, sales, and loyalty with efficient and powerful social advertising strategies, we want to help. Our Paid Social Bootcamp covers ads from A to Z. You’ll learn how to set up Business Manager, and dig into the advanced strategies we use daily to grow our clients' accounts across dozens of industries. See what ads can do for you when you have a solid, intentional strategy at the helm.

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