It has been an undeniably interesting year running Facebook advertising campaigns.
Apple’s implementation of iOS 14.5 caused, at best, a shift in our ability to track and attribute campaigns that rely on pixel data.
At worst, it has made Facebook a less attractive advertising platform for direct response-oriented advertisers.
But pixel-based conversions aren’t the only way to drive results within Facebook. In fact, Facebook lead forms and Messenger are a relatively untapped and efficient way to drive lead flow immune to the tracking woes caused by iOS 14.5.
In this column, you’ll learn the step-by-step process to put them to work for you. But first…
How Did We Get Here?
To understand the value of on-Facebook lead generation tactics, we need to understand why they’re so important now.
To make a long story short, iOS 14.5 flipped the script on pixel-tracking for iOS devices this year.
Prior to iOS 14.5, Apple automatically opted-in device users to its IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers), which is akin to a cookie that allows third-party advertisers to track conversions on mobile devices.
When the iOS 14.5 was pushed to Apple devices, IDFA was no longer an automatic opt-in. Instead, users were defaulted to opt-out and were prompted with a question of whether they would like to opt-in to tracking.
Suffice to say, generalized privacy concerns and a lack of trust among consumers in how companies like Google and Facebook use their data have resulted in low opt-in rates.
According to Flurry, a mobile analytics company that has been tracking opt-in rates since the launch of iOS 14.5, the current U.S. average opt-in rate is 15%.
That means roughly 15% of Apple devices running iOS 14.5 are allowing the use of IDFA. Or, more importantly, 85% are not comfortable sharing their data.
Consequently, Facebook had to get creative when it came to tracking the conversions of iOS device users by implementing modeled conversions. The end result has been delayed and not-always-that-accurate data for pixel-based conversions.
Delayed data can make campaign optimization more difficult and less effective as you might not see the whole picture.
Meanwhile, inaccurate data can prompt advertisers to believe their campaigns are less effective than they actually are, leading to wasted opportunities.
Lead Generation Forms are Immune to iOS 14 Tracking Issues
Luckily, pixel-based conversions aren’t the only conversion options available. Facebook lead generation forms have long been an alternative to landing page lead forms, allowing users to submit their information directly within the ad unit.
This medium not only bypasses landing pages entirely — leading to a more seamless user experience and likely higher conversion rate — but there is no pixel involved.
And in today’s environment, no pixel means more reliable data. Leads are submitted and tracked all within the platform.
While imperfect, Facebook lead generation forms have consistently outperformed landing pages from a CPL standpoint, in my experience.
If you’re running lead generation campaigns on Facebook and are relying exclusively on landing page web forms, I strongly encourage you to test out this alternative.
Chat: A New(er) Way to Generate On-Facebook Leads
But forms aren’t the only way to generate leads within the Facebook platform. Over the past several months, Facebook has been quietly turning Messenger, Instagram DM, and WhatsApp into potentially powerful lead generation tools.
For a while now, advertisers have been able to promote chats, meaning ads can create chats with the page as the main objective (instead of driving traffic to a website).
But the goal of these types of campaigns is to create conversations between brands and potential customers.
They were not designed for easy or automated lead generation, and usually require manual labor to chat with the potential customer. They’re not ideal for large-scale lead gen campaigns.
Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp now all have the ability to create the same kind of on-Facebook leads that can be driven by a lead generation form.
How to Create An Effective Lead Generation Chat Campaign
Step 1: Create a new campaign within Facebook, selecting “Lead generation” as your objective.
Step 2: Under the ad set settings, you’ll see an option at the top for “Lead method.” Select “Automated Chat.”
Step 3: Under the ad settings section, towards the bottom, you’ll see a section labeled “Message Template.”
Step 4: Create your chat experience
Facebook’s chat template builder will allow advertisers to create automated chat experiences that collect lead data through a simple question and answer interface.
Create your welcome message. This will be the first automated message sent on behalf of your page.
This can be coded to dynamically insert the name of the person who has started the chat.
Create questions for each piece of lead data you would like to collect.
Facebook has several pre-populated options for various contact fields, which will automatically suggest the answer based on the user’s profile information.
Step 5: Create your completion message.
The completion message is the final message that the user will receive, following the successful completion of all of the lead generation questions.
At this point, the data has been sent to Facebook and is available for download. You can also integrate directly with your existing CRM system thanks to a number of partner integrations with top platforms.
In addition to collecting leads, these lead generation chats can be used to fulfill gated content offers after the lead has been submitted.
So if you’re using an ebook, whitepaper or other content in exchange for lead information, you can include the link to download that asset here.
Step 6: Preview the user experience and make adjustments.
As you’re creating questions and adjusting the chat flow, you’ll see a chat preview on the right side of the window.
In addition, you can send this draft chat directly to your Facebook Messenger, allowing you to go through the experience step by step.
Please note that this will generate an actual chat with the page, so plan accordingly if you have other team members monitoring your page’s messages.
Step 7: Define your audience and create your ads.
With the chat experience created and tested, you can now finalize the remainder of your campaign details.
Define your audience just as you would any other lead generation campaign, and create ads that prompt users to engage with your brand via chat.
Why Use Lead Generation Chats?
If you’re on the fence about testing out chat as a lead generation method, consider the following results.
For one of our agency’s larger B2B clients that has been using forms as their primary method of driving leads, we tested out a chat campaign with identical targeting and the results are telling:
- CPMs were considerably lower (almost ½) for the lead generation chats campaign, allowing more impressions to be served for less spend
- While the CTRs for the chat was lower, conversion rates for the chats were similar enough to forms to allow a significant decrease in overall CPL
- This netted out to around a 30% decrease in the average CPL for using chats
In addition to the potential efficiency gains, the chat functionality also allows your page to continue chatting with the user.
This is excellent for additional opportunities to engage potential customers after the lead is submitted — something that’s not as easy to do with forms.
These campaigns can also be programmed to run only when times where additional sales and support representatives are available to answer any additional questions that come up.
And for companies that use third-party chat software on their websites, such as Intercom or Drift, Facebook can seamlessly integrate with several providers.
This gives sales and marketing teams the ability to communicate with Facebook chat leads using their preferred system.
Test It Out
If your lead generation strategy on social is completely dependent upon driving traffic externally, you will likely find your job increasingly difficult as more privacy-centric changes are made by companies that provide our existing marketing infrastructure.
That’s why now is the time to build, test and perfect your tactics for driving leads via Facebook’s native tools.
It’s often a better experience for users. The results can out-perform existing tactics.
And, most importantly, it’s immune to the changes that have made Facebook advertising a lot more difficult in 2021.
Featured image: Kaspars Grinvalds/Shutterstock.com
Screenshots taken by author, September 2021