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How to find high-quality prospects with Facebook and LinkedIn ads

Target agency ads to social media users based on geographic location, personal interests, marital status, age and more. (Photo: Shutterstock)
Target agency ads to social media users based on geographic location, personal interests, marital status, age and more. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Marketing is the key to finding and nurturing qualified prospects to maximize your sales pipeline. However, when insurance agents use social platforms, they typically overlook a specific tool that can identify and engage highly qualified prospects.

That tool is advertising on Facebook and LinkedIn.

You may already know that the overall organic reach of Facebook posts is in a slow and steady decline. More and more people see fewer and fewer of your posts — even if they liked your agency page.

According to an article in AdAge, a Facebook spokesman confirms that organic reach of Facebook posts is in slow decline. "We're getting to a place where because more people are sharing more things, the best way to get your stuff seen if you're a business is to pay for it," he said. That means, to be seen in your community's news feed, you need to spend money on Facebook ads,

Who's on Facebook? The short answer, of course, is many people. That is why every agency needs to consider a significant presence and strategy using the advertising platform.

Facebook is unique in that it does not target users based on relevant website content or keywords, but on user-generated profile information and “likes.” Facebook knows a user's location, marital status, education, birth date and demographic details. You can use all this information to target your message (ads) to a specific target audience, particularly for personal lines and small commercial marketing. Chances are you know the profile of your best customer.

Facebook ads appear in particular places on the platform, called placements. Ads can appear in the newsfeeds and the righthand column of Facebook. Newsfeed ads (for both desktop and mobile) are more visible to your readers because they are in their newsfeed. This has had the biggest impact on business. You can now get your message in front of your exact, ideal target audience by taking up the majority of their newsfeed. Right-side ads (also called marketplace ads) currently consists of a headline, text or copy limited to 90 characters and an image.

There are three steps to creating an effective Facebook ad:

1. Ad design

For insurance agencies, there are five types of Facebook ads that should be considered: Those that boost posts, promote your page, send people to your website, increase conversions on your site and give video views.

How you design your ad is critical. Your ad should contain an image that will capture the reader's attention, a headline that should pique interest, and body text that gives a strong reason why readers should click on your ad.

Related: How to build a LinkedIn profile that sells

There is a lot of strategy and testing that goes into determining what ads work best and which you should discard. Agencies that are effectively using Facebook advertising may have up to 50 or 60 different ads available to run, depending on the target audience demographic as well as the type of product or information they are promoting.

It's important to keep in mind that Facebook advertising is interruption advertising. You need to interrupt users who are looking through their newsfeeds with an interesting image, headline and body text.

Facebook advertising is ideal for small commercial and personal lines targets. Look to LinkedIn advertisting for commercial lines prospects. (Photo: Thinkstock)

2. Create target audience

This is where Facebook's advertising power actually comes to light. You can create a specific target audience based on multiple factors, outlined below. You know the profile of your best customers. They might be young and male, or old and married.

  • Geographic location: You can target broadly by state, city or town. You can also target very specifically down to a particular ZIP code.

  • Demographic information: Age, gender, relationship status, education, what company people work for, financial net worth, homeownership, parents of teenagers, and a whole host of other options.

  • Interests: Activities on Facebook, business pages they have liked, hobbies, how they use technology and many more.

  • Behaviors: Shopping for a new car, charitable donations, digital activities, and the list goes on.

3. Payment

Advertising revenue continues to grow for Facebook. There are two ways to pay for your ad: Pay per click (every time someone clicks on your ad you pay a certain amount) or pay by number of the impressions (for every 1,000 times your ad is displayed on an individual's newsfeed, you pay a flat amount).

There are many strategies available that can maximize your ad's exposure on Facebook while minimizing cost. Some advanced options to maximize ad exposure include:

  • Retargeting: Facebook will provide code to add to your agency website and create ads that will target only your website visitors if they are on Facebook

  • Custom audiences: Allows you to connect with people who have shown an interest in your agency or a particular product. You can create a custom audience from your current client list or website traffic.
  • Look-alike audiences: You can take a custom audience you have created and ask Facebook to create an audience that “looks like” the people in your custom audience.

Why LinkedIn advertising?

LinkedIn is the leading business-oriented social networking site. Founded in 2002, it now has more than 400 million users worldwide, with about 107 million in the United States.

For professionals, it is the place to network online. This platform is the ideal space to target commercial insurance clients.

LinkedIn's advertising options are not as extensive or as well developed as Facebook's. You can follow the same steps I outlined above for Facebook to set up your LinkedIn ad.

Business targeting options include geographic location, job title and function, industry and company size, as well as seniority.

LinkedIn ads cost more than Facebook ads. When looking at the price of ads on Facebook or LinkedIn, keep in mind that your overall return on investment is more important than the cost of the ad. If you can write a new commercial account that generates $5,000 in commission revenue, are you willing to spend a hundred dollars on an advertising campaign?

Steve Anderson writes and speaks on insurance agency technology, productivity and profitability.

Related: 7 social media tips for independent agents

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