With a total of 2.17 billion monthly active users, Facebook is one of the most important platforms for retailers to target when looking to drive brand awareness. However, it can be tricky to know where to begin when converting this traffic into leads.

The journey to generating more leads requires retailers to focus on the customer experience more closely and ensure they are investing in the right resources. Providing a more personalised experience on Facebook and utilising the tools available to facilitate this, such as algorithms for example, which tailor product recommendations based on search and purchase history, can help encourage users to buy more as a result of being treated like an individual with unique interests.

From both an organic and paid approach, this guide will help retailers determine the changes they should make in order to generate greater leads from Facebook.

Investing in social for the entire customer journey

Despite the word ‘phone’ in the name, smartphones today are rarely used to make calls. They are more often used to research and purchase products on digital channels, which offers retailers the opportunity to interact with customers at any time, regardless of where they are in the purchasing journey. In fact, 88% of Facebook users access the platform almost exclusively via their mobile devices, which means retailers can engage with consumers at almost any point, right up until they tap ‘buy’.

Device-specific targeting is incredibly important in this process. Facebook’s Pixel targeting and retargeting capabilities enables brands to channel adverts alongside particular points in the customer journey. An advert can be tailored to register whether the customer has ever engaged with the brand before, so the tool knows to showcase content that raises awareness.

As a result, when users are engaging with the brand on separate devices, they are then retargeted based on whether it’s to drive conversion or to complete a sale. With the user ID mapped, a retailer can achieve success for the brand by mapping adverts that appeal most to the stage the customer’s buying journey – regardless of the device a customer decides to purchase from.

Making the most of the social advertising budget

Aside from device-targeting or retargeting, ‘email bonuses’ can help retailers maximise on leads when users are no longer on Facebook. For example, retailers offer prospects free trials or discounts in exchange for an email address. This then allows marketers to deliver a personalised email series to potential customers, based on the offer they initially expressed an interest in.

However, what exactly is offered in this email campaign is critical to its success and requires time and creativity, otherwise, it may be difficult to differentiate from what other brands and competitors are offering. The increasing demand for a unique experience means that failing to invest properly in this approach will likely lead to potential customers scrolling straight past the offer.

Data is critical to the entire process

Facebook’s Pixel feature and an email bonus scheme are just a couple of avenues in which social advertising can help generate greater leads. Adverts can be an effective measure to help brands test particular messaging and creative assets to ensure they have the best impact on customers. This ‘test and learn’ approach enables retailers to fine-tune marketing efforts to meet customer expectations.

However, data is critical to perfecting this stage. Social data is invaluable for retailers in determining the thoughts and feelings of customers to particular experiences, processes or products.

By analysing the data available on Facebook, retailers can identify which content resonates best with the target audience and leverage this insight to drive improvements. For example, by monitoring customer complaints, retailers can identify common product faults or service issues and remedy them as soon as possible.

With changes being made intuitively to customer feedback, customer expectation can continue to be met and exceeded, and as a result, encourage more sales and repeat purchases.

Don’t forget Insta

Whilst Facebook is growing at an exponential rate, so is Instagram, which Facebook bought for $1billion in 2012. Instagram has rapidly become an integral marketing tool for retailers and those neglecting it risk losing out on a significant number of leads.

For instance, the launch of Instagram’s shoppable posts feature has revolutionised the retail sector. The ability to tag and buy products directly from posts means that consumers can complete the buying journey without ever leaving the app. With no need to click on an external link or use a browser resulting in fewer touch points, there’s no real opportunity for the customer’s interest to be lost.

Ensuring that a customer completes this journey requires a multi-faceted approach. The first is making sure that messaging and items are presented in a creative and eye-catching way that maps with the user’s interests.

The other is maximising on the potential of the influencer community. The boom in Insta bloggers means that brands can market through these individuals to attract different demographics in a way that eliminates the need to engage with the brand itself. With this human-level interaction, leads are generated authentically and naturally and customers feel more obliged to tap the buy button as they engage with people like themselves, or who they admire, using a particular product or service.

The stretch of Facebook’s dominance across the social sphere is difficult to ignore, which is why many retailers are increasingly active on its platforms, particularly Instagram.

However, it’s clear that generating leads as a result of increasing brand awareness can be a tricky conversion to drive. Simply pushing sales collateral with little consideration of the interests and motivation of specific customer demographic will help drive awareness but fail to boost the bottom line. Retailers must focus on making every stage of the customer journey both personalised yet receptive in order to maximise the chances of a particular advert, bonus or offer converting a regular Facebook user into a qualified lead.