Measuring Offline Sales From Your Facebook Advertising

People see Facebook ads all the time, but how much do those ads slowly trickle their ways to consumer’s hearts and convince them to purchase? And if they do make a purchase, how will we know that Facebook ads were responsible for the offline sale?

Tracking offline conversion

The Facebook pixel can only go so far in conversion tracking, optimization, and remarketing. Facebook’s “Offline Events” feature enables marketers to track and optimize transactions that the pixel is not able to. Offline transactions such as in-store sales and phone bookings can now be tracked and correlated to the consumer’s viewing of or engagement with a Facebook ad.

Sounds amazing, right? One of a digital marketer’s greatest concerns is regarding tracking Facebook ad effectiveness. Gone are the days where online ads must be coupled with promotional codes for tracking, consumers are automatically tracked when they go in-store without the need to check-in. And to top it off, the offline conversion tool can tell you the last product or service the consumer viewed or clicked in the Facebook ad platform.

Let’s get started

To get started, your Facebook ad data needs to be connected with your offline sales data.

Before your ad campaign begins, create a new Offline Event set for your ad campaign.

  • Visit Offline Events in Business Manager
  • Create an offline event set
  • Assigned an ad account to be tracked
  • Ensure that auto-tracking is enabled as this will allow future ads to be automatically tracked
  • Assign permissions to each person that needs to access the information

Next, create and start running your ad campaign. Throughout the campaign, you will need to upload your offline event data to quantify offline traffic and attribute offline sales directly to Facebook campaigns.

This can be done in a couple of ways:

Here are some best practices:

  • Upload the offline event data daily (only data that is less than 90 days old at the time of upload can be processed by Facebook Analytics)
  • Only upload new data collected since the last upload (duplicate data will be created and there is limited ability to de-duplicate); this allows effective matching of transactions to the ads running

A .csv data file that includes the event and customer information will be needed to match Facebook users and their ad history to the consumers that performed a transaction at the event.

A good .csv data file includes:

Customer Information

  • Full name (first, last)
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Address (postal code, city, country)

Event Information

  • Event name
  • Date
  • Value and currency
  • Order ID and/or item number (if applicable)

Facebook has 17 different accepted identifiers which it can use to match a Facebook user targeted within the ad campaign to the offline buyer. Though not all 17 identifiers are required, the more information uploaded, the more accurate the results will be.

On average, Facebook’s match rate ranges between 60 to 80 percent. While it’s not perfect, it’s a substantial number considering we were never able to track offline data before.

Now for the results

The results can be seen within Ads Manager as soon as the upload is completed. As your campaign progresses, uploading and viewing your offline event data will allow you to adjust your ads and strategy to ensure you meet your goals. You can also customize your column view to add Offline Event Data for 1, 7, or 28 days.

Things to keep in mind

Facebook is revolutionizing the way digital marketers can use offline data; however, it is not yet able to identify crossovers of offline and online conversions. If you are a business that is selling products both in-store and online, keep in mind that there will be duplicates as they are not yet mutually exclusive.

Facebook’s ability to attribute a click/view with a conversion is limited to 28 days and the offline data upload is restricted to being uploaded within 62 days of the conversion; a total of 90 days.

Facebook has only recently introduced the offline conversion tool within the last year, so it’s still imperfect. But even with its imperfections, it does address the biggest concern marketers have when it comes to Facebook ads – being able to quantify, track and measure their effectiveness.

Hosting a (Legal) Promotion on Facebook – What You Should Know

On my Facebook feed, I often see friends being tagged by other friends or sharing posts to qualify for giveaways. Little did they know that Facebook guidelines prohibits brands from using these kinds of qualifications for entering giveaways.

Here is a guide to hosting a successful promotion on Facebook – without breaking any rules.

Types of promotions

There are three types of promotions Facebook recognizes; sweepstakes, contests, and lotteries. All of which include entry, chance, and a prize. And two of which are legal to be run on Facebook pages.

The three promotion types include:

1. Sweepstakes: These campaigns are based on chance; meaning the winner is chosen randomly. For Canadian sweepstakes, however, winners cannot be chosen by luck; there must be at least some level of skill involved. A popular example is including a skill-testing question.

2. Contest: Referring to campaigns that requires entrants to display a level of skill. Winners are chosen for their ability to perform the skill rather than by chance and is based on a judging or voting criteria.

3. Lotteries: campaigns that revolve around consideration (something of value – monetary or non-monetary, contestants must provide to be eligible to enter).

As you may have guessed, hosting lotteries are illegal on Facebook. As we cannot ask people to pay to enter to win, the phrase, “No purchase necessary” is often posted on Facebook promotions to avoid any legal infringements.

Promotion posts must include:

  • Official rules: this can be written on the post or be directed to through a link. It must include the prize value, odds of winning, judging criteria or method of selecting winner(s), and date winner(s) will be chosen.
  • Eligibility: requirements or restrictions based on age, location, etc. Within Quebec, regulations are strict and vary from the rest of Canada, so any location restrictions should be identified.
  • Not sponsored by Facebook: must acknowledge that the promotion is not sponsored, endorsed, or administered by Facebook.

Promotions must also be done through a business page; personal page promotions are prohibited by Facebook.

Entry methods

Facebook is strict with their entry methods; since 2016, it has been trying to reduce the amount of brand posts displayed on consumer feeds. As a result, it doesn’t want brands to be requiring consumers to share or tag friends as entries.

Legal Entry Methods

  • Liking your page
  • Posting on your page
  • Messaging your page
  • Liking your post
  • Commenting on your post
  • Completing an entry form

Illegal Entry Methods

  • Sharing pages
  • Sharing a post onto their timeline
  • Sharing a post onto a friend’s timeline
  • Entrants tagging themselves in photos they aren’t in
  • Tagging friends in the comments

Under “Promotions” in the Facebook Pages Term, it states that:

“Promotions may be administered on Pages or within apps on Facebook. Personal Timelines and friend connections must not be used to administer promotions (ex: “share on your Timeline to enter” or “share on your friend's Timeline to get additional entries”, and "tag your friends in this post to enter" are not permitted).”

With the new Facebook algorithm, not being able to ask entrants tag friends or share posts to enter hinders the reach of promotions. Brand content is slowly being phased out of consumer feeds in exchange for more intimate posts of their families and friends. This will mean brand will have to adapt, find new ways to engage audiences with their content and their contests.

Facebook's New Algorithm is Not Marketer Friendly

In 2016, Facebook released a statement saying the new algorithm update will prioritize posts from families and friends over brand content. Fast forward to today in 2018, and Facebook released another statement claiming it will show you even more posts from families and friends than before.

What does this mean for brands?

The new update works against brand content considering you’re neither family or friend. You’re a brand. And Facebook is pressuring brands to create meaningful content that provokes interactions amongst people. After all, Facebook is a community; and it wants brands to start thinking more so about the community’s perspective than business’ perspective.

So instead of using the number of likes and shares as metrics, Facebook wants brands to spark stimulating conversations to increase engagement – engagement in the form of comments. Facebook is starting to filter out clickbait promotions such as “Like if you like donuts”, or “Comment your favourite colour.” These are seen as spam by Facebook and by users; but there are ways to create organic engagement and move past the algorithm changes.

Good practices for promotions to beat the new algorithm

The good news is that the changes won’t affect brands that are creating meaningful, engaging content. There are still numerous ways to reach consumers with your promotions.

Create Engaging Promotions
Instead of asking for easy, one-word comments as entry submissions, ask for a story. People are going to be more receptive to sharing the post on their own, and it optimizes engagement with the brand. Remember, you can always encourage participants to tag their friends, like, or share while not making it an entry requirement. 

Utilizing the “See First” Option
Winners can be revealed by sharing on business pages. Prompt loyal followers to select the “See First” option on their news feed preferences to stay up to date with the promotion and winners.

Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing has always been about the connection between humans. Influencers aren’t seen as brands by Facebook, and the new algorithm could improve the social connection between them and consumers. Consumers follow influencers because of the rapport they’ve built, and Facebook is trying to establish more connectivity in its news feed. By leveraging influencers, it could have a positive impact on your promotions on Facebook.

Live Videos
Facebook loves live videos. Live videos on average perform six times better in interaction compared to regular videos. It stimulates discussions amongst viewers – even if there is a low number of initial viewers. Facebook wants interactions and live videos increase interaction, so adding live videos can help your promotions perform better. Better yet – have influencers host live videos.

Paid Posts
Facebook states that the new algorithm won’t affect posts; they will still be seen. However, the CPM rates may eventually increase if brands see a decrease in reach due to the new algorithm.

Regardless of the changes, Facebook is still the home to over 2.13 billion monthly active users,  and users are increasing year over year. It has a large capacity for wide reach, and so long as brands are creating engaging content, they will perform well.

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