EscapeAssist is pleased to introduce our guest blogger Chris Hanson. He is the founder of EscapeFront, which includes the very active EscapeFront Facebook Group, as well as the EscapeFront website that recently launched on April 4. Chris is an escape room enthusiast who created EscapeFront as a professional resource for escape room owners. Chris is also a contributing author for the escape room trade magazine The Last Lock. Chris lives in Seattle Washington, and has a background in business, teaching & training, and financial analytics. Follow EscapeFront on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
So you’ve decided to start a Facebook ad campaign to drum up more business for your escape room. This is smart of you for a number of reasons. Let’s start with the obvious. Something like 5% of the population even knows that escape rooms are a thing, and half of them think they have something to do with either bank vaults or those panic room things…you know, from the movie Panic Room. So good on you for investing in your business and NOT being the dummy in this Henry Ford quote:
“A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time.”
Yeah, let’s not be that guy.
But…we have a little problem. Facebook advertising is complicated, and there are a lot of big words (and difficult small words too) that all kinda sound the same, and frankly, figuring out what they mean is about as intuitive as programming a 1980s microwave. Pretty annoying.
This article will mainly focus on Facebook advertising. Why? For a couple of reasons:
- It’s a VERY common (maybe the most common) platform for escape room owners to advertise on.
- The concepts are relatively easy to generalize across most other platforms.
So, without further ado, let’s get into it.
A Vocabulary Lesson
As we’ll come to realize pretty soon here, there are very few universal truths when it comes advertising your escape room business. In Facebook groups for escape room owners, “It depends” is a very popular (and valid) response to soooo many questions about social media marketing.
Even the vocabulary across marketing platforms is inconsistent. While there is a lot of overlap, each platform has its own set of buzzwords. OMG, I have such a headache already.
Luckily, the vocab is universal enough that we don’t need a separate glossary of terms for each platform. Below are a few common phrases used one way or another in pretty much all digital marketing platforms. But, since there are a few slight semantic nuances, for sanity sake, I’ll be using Facebook as the frame of reference for the terms and definitions that follow.
An impression means that your ad made its way into the screen of a viewer. This doesn’t mean they viewed your add. It just means it was on their screen.
The number of unique individuals who saw your ad. Where impression measures the number of times an ad enters screen of a user, reach measures the number of people.
The number of times any page on your website has been viewed as a result of clicking an ad.
CPM (Cost per 1,000 Impressions)
Fun fact: the “M” stands for mille which is Latin for “thousand”.
CPM is a metric used to gauge the cost-effectiveness of an ad campaign.
CPM measures the total amount spent on an ad campaign, divided by impressions, multiplied by 1,000.
Amount spent – $100
Impressions – 12,500
$100 / 12,500 x 1,000 = $8.00
Which means, it costs $8.00 per 1,000 impressions.
- Any action (click, video view, check-in, etc.)
- 10-second video view
- Page engagement
And many, many more. The full list can be viewed here.
Conversions are customer-completed actions, like purchases or adding to a cart on a website. In Facebook, conversions from ads can be tracked using the Facebook Pixel analytics tool.
A rating from 1 to 10 that estimates how well your target audience is responding to your ad. This score is shown after your ad receives more than 500 impressions. The higher the number, the better your audience resonates with the ad.
Things that determine relevancy score:
- How well your ad is performing
- Positive feedback (e.g., clicks)
- Negative feedback (e.g., Someone clicks “I don’t want to see this” on your ad)
The average number of times each person saw your ad. Calculated as impressions divided by reach.
A funnel is a process that takes people through a series of steps. Setting up funnels are key for escape room ads since, again, so few people know about escape rooms.
- Ready to purchase
CTR (click through rate)
The number of people who clicked on your ad.
Lookalike audiences are created by Facebook to help advertisers reach people who are similar to (or “look like”) an audience that the advertiser cares about.
- Campaign – top level containing ad sets and ads
- Ad set – includes the budget, schedule, audience specs, placement, optimization and delivery of ads
- Ads – the individual ad that includes the creative (e.g., image, video, text, etc.)
Did you know that Facebook advertising is actually an auction? You are actually competing with other escape room businesses to get your ad in front of the same audience.
When you have multiple ads competing for the same audience, Facebook gets to decide which ad gets shown. This is based on a number of factors. The bid price is just one of them. Others may include performance and ad history as well.
The amount of money you choose to pay to get your ad seen. You can choose automatic or manual bidding. This can be changed in the Ad Set are of Ads Manager.
For the full list, knock yourself out by clicking here.
How Does Facebook Ad Pricing Work?
The answer to this question could very easily take up ten blog posts. I’ve managed to whittle it down to two main things, and a few sub-things.
You tell Facebook how much you want to spend on advertising. Let’s say $100. Budgets can be set daily or for the lifetime of the ad.
You control the cost in two ways:
- The overall amount you want to spend during the life of the ad. This is controlled by your total ad budget of $100.
- The overall amount you want to spend for each result you get. This is controlled by your bid strategy. Remember above when we talked about multiple escape room businesses competing for the same audience. That’s where bid strategy comes in. There are 2 different bid strategies you can choose when you set up your ad:
- Lowest cost – Facebook will try to get you the lowest possible cost per event while also spending the entire daily or lifetime budget you specified. You can also set a cap to tell Facebook not to bid over a certain amount per event. This strategy is recommended if you care more about getting the most value from your budget. The drawback with the lowest cost strategy is that cost may fluctuate more depending on competition, and while setting a cap is an option, setting it too low might result in less ad delivery when competition is high.
- Target cost – This tells Facebook to bid with the goal of achieving an average cost per optimization event as close to your cost target as possible. If you care more about having a consistent average cost per optimization event with less fluctuation, target cost may be the option to go with here. But, the drawback of this is that less expensive results may be skipped in favor of those that are more expensive.
Facebook tries super hard to get as many results as humanly (or virtually in this case) possible based on the strategy you choose.
So Should I Choose Lowest Cost or Targeted Cost?
Wait for it…it depends. Ha!
But really, it actually does depend. It comes down to knowing thy market.
Let’s think about it for a second using a fun scenario. The Orlando, Florida area has about 80 escape rooms businesses. Des Moines, Iowa has three. Yes, three.
Greater Orlando has a population of just over 2 million people while greater Des Moines has a population of roughly 600,000.
Orlando – 2 million population + 68 million tourists per year / 80 escape rooms = 875,000 people per escape room business.
Des Moines – 600,000 + 13 million tourists per year (source) / 3 escape rooms = 4.5 million people per escape room business.
Now, let’s assume that only 15% of the market is willing to play an escape room.
Orlando – 875,000 x 15% = 131,275
Des Moines – 4.5 million x 15% = 675.000
Without diving deep into any more analytics, which market do you think is more competitive? You guessed it. Orlando!
So, if you run an escape room business in Orlando, which bid strategy do you think you should use? You should probably use a Targeted Cost because it will deliver the consistency you need. While you may spend a little more per event, you can rest assured that you’ll actually get events. Whereas, if you were to choose Limited Cost, you may actually end up spending more per event since competition is high. And setting a cap is too risky because your ad will likely not get delivered to the maximum number of people.
Unfortunately, it’s not always so cut and dry. If you’re unsure. Try this out. Cut your advertising budget in half and run two (or three) identical ads.
- One with Lowest Cost bid strategy
- One with Lowest Cost (with a cap)
- One with Targeted Cost
The measure which one performs the best. After a month or so, you’ll have a pretty good idea. Then, cancel the two weaker ads and add more budget to the one that’s performing the best.
The Difference Between Organic & Paid Reach
Remember, “reach” is defined as the number of unique people who saw your ad. Where impression measures the number of times an ad enters screen of a user, reach measures the number of people.
Your escape room ad campaign is up and running. You budgeted $100. All is good.
Geoff comes along and sees your ad and is like, “Nice! My bro, Fabio loves escape rooms.” So Geoff decides to share the ad. Guess what? Geoff just did you a huge favor because anytime someone shares your ad, you don’t get charged. It’s free advertising. Organic advertising!
Geoff doesn’t share the ad with Fabio. He was going to, but he got distracted by Game of Thrones and all its complexities. Two days later, Fabio sees the ad on his own. Thanks a lot, Geoff, now I have to pay.
You can learn more about your organic versus paid reach numbers by checking out Facebook’s tutorial on the topic. I promise you, it’s a lot less entertaining.
Choosing Your Target Audience
Unfortunately, when advertising your escape room business, there’s no secret sauce for selecting your target audience. Again, it comes down to your market.
However, there are a couple things that users have reported working better than others.
Females tend to click and convert significantly more than males. Owners have reported sights of boyfriends kicking and screaming as their female better-halves drag them into a weekend escape room date night. Because of that, many owners target females only in their escape room ads.
Choosing “real-life room escape” as an interest group doesn’t necessarily draw more customers. If the goal is to reach new people and expand your customer base, this isn’t the way to do it.
Choosing a target age isn’t a bad idea. Again, it depends on your market, but generally escape rooms tend to appeal more to Millennials than any other age group. Many owners have reported success when targeting ages 25-45.
Operating in the Bay Area, Seattle, New York or pretty much any big city? Then you’re probably getting a lot of corporate team building customers, or at least you should be. Targeting your ads towards people with job titles like event coordinator, office manager, administrative assistant, and similar may help drive business.
You might consider targeting people with money. Makes sense, right? Owners operating in a college town have reported a surprisingly low rate of student customers. Students, being the broke animals that they are, just don’t have the money to spend on escape rooms. For that reason, many college town escape room owners have reported success when they narrow their target audience to people with money.
To see a detailed breakdown of your target audience before you run your ad, check out Facebook’s Audience Insights tool.
If all else fails, use your customer satisfaction survey data to figure out who to target. You are doing surveys, right?
Tools for Tracking Ad Performance
Facebook Ads Manager
Facebook Ads Manager is your central location for all things Facebook ads. This is the place to go to not only set up ads but also track how well your ads are performing.
Facebook Pixel is a nifty little tool that lets you dive deeper into ad analytics and is great for tracking conversions. By pasting a block of code on your website, it creates a bridge between Facebook and your site. It’ll help you optimize your ads based on data it collects, build “look alike” audiences, and remarket accordingly.
For example, let’s say you run an ad on Facebook for 30 days that results in 500 pageviews and 100 bookings. That’s 400 pageviews that did not result in a conversion. What gives? Maybe they had a change of heart, or perhaps they weren’t the right audience. Facebook Pixel allows you to drill down into those 100 conversions and create a “look-alike” audience. Meaning, Facebook will target your ad to people who have similar demographics, interests, etc. to those who converted. Pretty, awesome huh?
For more on what Facebook Pixel can do for your ad campaign, head to the Facebook Pixel landing page.
Are you advertising on more than just Facebook?
If you’re an escape room owner (and since you’re reading this, you likely are), the correct answer should be yes. Let’s not list every analytics tool by platform. Quite frankly, it’s boring, and you get the idea. You’re probably wondering when I’m going to mention a catch-all tool that integrates them all in one convenient location
Well, guess what? Let me introduce you to a tool called Hootsuite. Is it free? No. Will it save you a ton of time over trying to manage each of your ads separately? Absolutely! Hootsuite is an all-in-one solution for business owners looking to save time and make the most out of their digital ads. I invite you to check it out.
- Facebook Ads Manager
- Facebook Pixel
- Facebook Audience Insights
- Google Analytics
- Google AdWords
Glossary of Terms By Platform
Other Guest Posts by Chris
Did I miss anything? Drop a comment below to share your thoughts!
Hopefully, this article has made things a little bit easier to understand while giving you a framework to work from. It’s a very complicated topic so don’t beat yourself up if you run into trouble. Keep up the great work!