As any keen digital marketer will know, part of what makes the industry so fascinating is the constant state of flux it’s in. Not just in terms of the platform changes made by tech companies and the shifting legislative landscape, but also in terms of the potential customer base, changes to user behaviour and more. Trying to keep on top of it can be as difficult as wrestling a shadow.

Once you’re on top of one aspect of your strategy, there’s something fresh to consider. Of course, such an ever-shifting landscape has its benefits too. If you’re an agency trying to steer your clients to maximise their ad or digital spend, your expertise has never been more prized or valued. And there’s no chance of any of us becoming complacent. Now, more than ever, marketing in the digital sphere is very far from ‘set and forget’.

2020 delivered a slew of challenges, some of them familiar to marketers, others unfamiliar to most everyone in the world. Even as some nations emerge from the nightmare of COVID-19, others are still just beginning to truly grapple with it. On both macro- and micro-levels, it has led to a seismic shift in how we work, travel, do business and foster relationships. Few aspects of life are untouched by it.

And that’s as true for marketing strategy as it is for anything else. In addition to the regular changes your marketing team has to deal with, there is a whole family of extra issues to contend with and plan for. The challenge for 2021 in terms of Facebook advertising is to get on top of what the pandemic has wrought, while also being ready for changes to operating systems, the evolving digital user base and more besides. Answer these five questions, and you’re well on your way

1. Are you on top of the demographic changes to the market brought about by COVID?

The effects of COVID-19 on the world and on the global marketplace are ongoing, with different nations at different stages of emerging from the nightmare. While the dust hasn’t yet settled, what we can see is that some changes brought about by the pandemic haven’t just shifted the audience over the past 12-18 months but could potentially change it forever.

The sheer number of people confined to home has to led to a surge in Facebook usage, something that we’re seeing across numerous generations. People are using FB as a way to keep in touch with colleagues they no longer see, loved ones they can no longer visit, and also as a source of news.

Anecdotally, you may have heard of adult children buying their baby boomer parents tablets and smartphones to keep in touch – something that has also led to an uptake in Facebook, Messenger and Instagram use among a generation previously slow to embrace these options.

The end result? More people seeing adverts, and a slight but important change in the age of those people. You and your team need to ensure you’re on top of those changes, as it should effect not just who you target, but how you target. You’ll need to consider changing your creative and drilling down into what times of day you get traction with the different available audiences.

2. Are you constantly reviewing and refining your strategy as the marketplace evolves?

Facebook is not some giant iceberg that glides forward relentlessly and unchangingly. Think of it instead as an ecosystem that is constantly changing. These changes take many forms – small tweaks to the newsfeed, responses to legislation, updated layouts – but all have an impact on how people use FB.

The changes go deeper too. Facebook are quite restless when it comes to updating ad types and targeting options, meaning you need to be able to respond quickly. It’s predicted that Facebook Groups will grow in importance, with a concomitant rise in the role of Group Ads.

What these shifts tell us is that you need to be alert and aware in order to respond effectively. If you employ an agency for your Facebook marketing it needs to be limber and proactive, fine-tuning and tweaking your ad set constantly.

The only way to maximise returns is to have a strategy that evolves in step with Facebook. That means different creative for different audiences, experimenting with copy (length, tone, even use of emojis), making sure your ads display at a time when customers are most receptive. Like in an ecosystem, the only way to survive is to adapt.

3. Are your Facebook ads taking advantage of the bonanza of Baby Boomer users?

As already mentioned, Facebook use is up across all demographics, largely because of the pandemic. While there has been a spike in Generation X and Z, along with Millennials, one of the most significant growth areas has been among Baby Boomers.

Why is this generation so significant? There are numerous reasons, but let’s focus on a couple of key ones: they’re relatively new to e-commerce and they tend to have larger disposable income.

As already mentioned, Facebook use is up across all demographics, largely because of the pandemic.

While there has been a spike in Generation X and Z, along with Millennials, one of the most significant growth areas has been among Baby Boomers.

Why is this generation so significant? There are numerous reasons, but let’s focus on a couple of key ones: they’re relatively new to e-commerce and they tend to have larger disposable income.

4. Are you ready to adapt to Apple’s latest iOS 14 update?

A lot of advertisers, companies and agencies have been scrambling to understand what Apple’s recent iOS 14.5 update will mean for Facebook ads. Some of the forecasts have been apocalyptic, others are more sanguine. In brief: watch this space as it continues to unfold.

The update meant that those who updated to iOS 14.5 on their Apple device of choice will be met by a prompt when they open one of the Facebook family of apps. It will ask for permission to track data to improve the ad experience, with users having to opt in – they’re automatically opted out.

4. Are you ready to adapt to Apple’s latest iOS 14 update?
A lot of advertisers, companies and agencies have been scrambling to understand what Apple’s recent iOS 14.5 update will mean for Facebook ads. Some of the forecasts have been apocalyptic, others are more sanguine. In brief: watch this space as it continues to unfold.

The update meant that those who updated to iOS 14.5 on their Apple device of choice will be met by a prompt when they open one of the Facebook family of apps. It will ask for permission to track data to improve the ad experience, with users having to opt in – they’re automatically opted out.

Inevitably – and for various reasons – some will not opt in, which means that advertisers will no longer be able to track the conversions and events of those users, cutting down on the data available. And there’s more, with a new AEM (Aggregated Event Management) process in Facebook also changing how ads are tracked, optimized and managed.

How to adapt?

Experts and agencies have already been peering into the granular detail of what it will mean and are adapting accordingly. Less data doesn’t necessarily mean fewer conversions. In practice this will mean a more patient and considered approach to campaign management, an agile take on audience segmentation and trying out new creative. As ever, those willing and able to be flexible and hands-on will find their work rewarded.

5. Does your strategy cover the entire Facebook app suite?

Savvy marketers know that Facebook doesn’t begin and end with Newsfeed. While the feed is certainly a vital part of your marketing mix, you’re not crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s if you’re neglecting Instagram, Messenger and Audience Network.

It’s not a ‘one size fits all’ approach for ads though. If you want to truly make the most of all the FB platforms, you need to be using a unique creative approach for each one. What converts on Newsfeed often won’t cut the mustard on Instagram, and vice versa.

Conversion rates and lead costs differ across the family of apps, rewarding a ‘suck it and see’ approach that means testing and optimising. It could be that getting it right on an app you haven’t looked at before could open the tap for a deluge of new customers.

Final thoughts:

If you can answer yes to all five of these questions, then you’re in great shape. You’ve covered many of the key bases for Facebook advertising into 2021, and your approach should pay dividends. But the story doesn’t end there. More changes are in the pipeline, and online customer behaviour puts you on ever-shifting sands.

If there’s one solid takeaway, one thing that always works in this market, it’s staying on top of the trends. Facebook is a huge reservoir of customers, no two of whom will respond in the same way to the same copy, creative, video or imagery. It’s time to refine.

Subscribe

Get our latest data insights direct to your inbox each month.