If you’ve been following the Write Blog at all in the past few months, you know how I feel about anti-customer sales funnels.
- Don’t Treat Your Buyers Like It’s 1999: Why The Blood-Thirsty Sales Era is Reaching Tipping Point & Why Content Marketing Works
- 5 Selling Skills That Actually Work Today, & Sales Tactics That Need to Die (Quit Cold Pitching!)
- Goodbye, Sales Funnel & Hello, Marketing Lifecycle: 5 Hot Content Marketing Trends You Need to Know for 2019
Now when I say anti-customer sales funnels – I mean a very specific type of “funnel.”
You know these very well. They’re the ones that start out with a Facebook ad, featuring an “expert” sitting in a flashy Lamborghini, or ostensibly walking around and showing you his pool and/or house in some exotic location, promising you with eagerness that his genius online money-making methods can make you millions of dollars, too — and when you click, you end up watching a pushy webinar and you’re funneled into a timed-out sales sequence page connected to a hard sales pitch via email that goes on for days on end.
It’s the opposite of valuable, relevant content marketing that serves the audience.
Well, times are ‘a changing.
Sales funnels may be dying, and we have proof. You may have heard of Amanda Bond (A.K.A. The Ad Strategist). (I sat down with her in a recent episode of The Write Podcast. She’s a marketer I really respect.)
Amanda isn’t just a commanding online presence – she has the chops to back it up. She has personally served over 73 million ad impressions on Facebook, and her ads have generated over $10 million in revenue. She recently published an incredible report full of so much gold, I had to share it with you all, here on The Write Blog. It’s called The Real Reason Facebook Ads Have Stopped Working.
This report speaks to me not just because of the staggering results inside (more on those coming up). Amanda has a mantra after my own heart, which she eloquently brings up in her disclaimer at the beginning of the piece.
“No one wants to attack their own industry. No business owner wants to ‘bite the hand that feeds them.’ But this level of corruption is wrecking people’s lives. Good people’s lives. And it’s time you heard the truth from someone on the inside.”
This is just the beginning of a fantastic report that is full of MAJOR takeaways for any marketer.
One of the biggest findings in her report? Facebook ad ROA has gone from 11.88x to .66x, in just two years. Amanda estimates that the total return on ad spend (ROAS) in 2016 was 11.88x. That means whatever you spent on ads, you got back 11-12 times over. In 2018, that number has plummeted to 0.66x.
Let’s take a look.
Facebook Ad ROA Has Plummeted From 11.88x to .66x: 3 Major Takeaways from the Latest Facebook Ad Study
1. Facebook Ad Funnels (and Funnels in General) Aren’t Working Anymore… But It’s Not Your Fault
According to Amanda, Facebook ads used to work like gangbusters. The years 2014-2016 were a heyday if you wanted to create profitable ads.
Today, that scenario is a distant memory. Amanda estimates that the total return on ad spend (ROAS) in 2016 was 11.88x. That means whatever you spent on ads, you got back 11-12 times over.
'No one wants to attack their own industry. But this level of corruption is wrecking people’s lives. Good people’s lives. And it’s time you heard the truth from someone on the inside.' - @TheAdStrategist #facebook #salesfunnels Click To Tweet
In 2018, that number has plummeted to 0.66x.
Why that huge plunge? The initial success of FB ads was built on a broken system, to begin with.
Internet marketing was exploding, and a key subgroup was at the helm, shaping the way people approach ads to this day. Amanda calls this “The Rise of Bro-Marketing.”
“A digital marketing subculture dominated by money-hungry, funnel-hacking, win-at-all-costs business owners. A business ethos that’s publicly client-centric, but privately egocentric.”
These types of people were not just pioneers in the Facebook ad industry, but also some of the loudest. They built sleazy lead generation tactics and funnel hacking, and swore by the mentality of “sales first, clients second.”
An industry built on these principles was sure to fall at some point…
Especially as the market became saturated and people started wising up to the aggressive ad funnel game. That leads us to our next major takeaway:
2. Self-Centered, Seller-First Marketing (Bro-Marketing) and Sales Funnels Are Dying
Of course, bro-marketing tactics and “force-driven funnels” are both dying, as Amanda reveals in her study. These are the main reasons she mentions:
- Bro-marketers compete on volume. That means they’re ultra-focused on getting people into their sales funnel, whether they’re quality leads or not. That ALSO means 99% of those leads fall out of the bottom of the funnel.
- To turn a profit using this system, you have to keep generating more and more leads just to get to the one or two that eventually stick and make a purchase.
- And THAT is how bro-marketers normalized abysmally low conversion rates – as low as 1-2% – which are unsustainable for most people.
Amanda puts it like this:
“They’re paying for one hundred (expensive) leads and only ever converting one of them.”
HOWEVER, bro-marketers trick people into buying into this type of marketing by using their own vanity metrics to create a false sense of security, i.e. “YOU CAN GET THESE RESULTS, TOO.” But, the truth is, the results are a sham.
What I love here is how Amanda explains you are NOT a bad marketer if you bought into this. As she says, the ad funnel industry was built on these principles, and “we’re all drinking from the same polluted pond.”If you think #Facebook ad funnels (and funnels in general) still work, you should read @JuliaEMcCoy's summary of the Facebook ads report published by @TheAdStrategist ASAP. Click To Tweet
The saddest part:
“Standard funnels (the vehicles designed to generate sales) are often the very thing keeping people from purchasing.”
This screenshot of slimy funnel ads drives that point home. (Are these types of ads the newest form of the cliché “used car salesman”?)
3. The Secret to Profitable FB Ads: Connect, Commit, Close
So, what’s the opposite of manipulative funnels and sleazy sales tactics?
As Amanda says in her study, it’s putting the customer first. (And that’s something I am totally behind.)
In particular, what she teaches is a 3-step process: Connect, Commit, Close.
- Connect with your audience by giving them value and leadership. Win their trust and attention. Warm them up naturally so they want to commit. (This is also the foundation of content marketing – no coincidence!)
- You’ve connected, and your warm audience is engaged and/or demonstrating a desire to commit. At this point, you invite them to invest while empowering them to make the best decision possible.
- Leads who make it to the next stage are hot. It’s time to close by overcoming objections, educating, and selling smartly.
Say “No” to Funnels and “Yes” to Your Customer’s Needs
If you haven’t read Amanda Bond’s study in full yet, go do that right now. It’s THAT good. (Also, go follow her, @TheAdStrategist, and don’t forget to check out my interview with her on The Write Podcast!)
She has really summed up a huge movement in the marketing industry right now:
The sales funnel mentality is failing to serve anyone, anymore.
Consumers these days are too smart to be dragged along sales assembly lines. We have to treat them like the intelligent, human buyers they are, NOT like wallets or numbers in our selling machines.The sales funnel mentality is failing to serve anyone, anymore. This and more takeaways from @JuliaEMcCoy's breakdown of @TheAdStrategist's #Facebook ads report. Click To Tweet
It’s not just about ethics, either. It’s about improving your engagement and profits, too, which is a win-win for everyone. But don’t just take my word for it…
Why Content Marketing Is a Huge Win for Marketers Today
From this report, the overall takeaway is clear: Modern marketing that works is customer-centric, not sales-centric. That applies to ALL your marketing – which is why content marketing, in particular, is a winner.
First of all, it seamlessly fits alongside a customer-centric, funnel-free ads strategy, like what Amanda teaches. It meets your customer at their point of need, offers them value, guidance, and information, and builds trust. Put those elements together, and it adds up to profitable end results.
Market research backs that up, too. A recent forecast says the main reason for the industry’s growth is because content marketing offers “lower costs than traditional advertising and an increased conversion rate.”
Over and over, we have found that to be truer than true. Content marketing is the customer-centric marketing of today, and it’s here to stay.
At Express Writers, where we use content marketing exclusively to earn organic traffic and leads, we see conversions from hot inbound leads happen in two days to two weeks on average. These high-quality leads net us four-figure sales regularly – pretty amazing, right?
Here’s a screenshot of our Google Analytics across one month of 2018. On average, we’re seeing upwards of 3,000 visitors/day from our organic traffic rankings.
Incredible things happen when you put your customer front and center. (Express Writers is living proof of that.) No matter what type of marketing you’re talking about, that’s a huge takeaway for the future.