Veronica Gentili. It is not easy to find a girl within the compound of online marketing professionals, especially in Italy, whereas maybe in France, in England, in the United States, we definitely find many more. I know a lot of them, like Rachel Hollis, Jamie Starr and so on, Amy Portelfield, who I met in person...
It is quite a rare and unique thing to find a girl who really gets her hands dirty in the world of operational marketing, digital marketing, and who is that good, who is a real expert.
Veronica Gentili has worked for very large companies, for small business owners, for professionals in need, has written an avalanche of books, and is always super super up-to-date and super super super trained.
For a whole range of direct-response marketing strategies or online advertising, she is really very knowledgeable, and I had the pleasure of interviewing her also following the release of her very latest book, which I will discuss precisely in the interview.
She is very nice, very helpful and above all, I repeat, extremely competent.
She works in different fields and presents different seminars, tours a lot and is invited to many different occasions, in different events.
I recommend that you listen very carefully to what Veronica says, especially as it relates to development and how she sees the Italian online marketing landscape (that of professionals), and read her books because they are really enlightening, especially for those who are starting out. She has studied books, pages, sections, real strategies explained in a very clear and very simple way just for those who have to start venturing into the world of advertising or social media without wanting to hurt themselves.
The interview with Veronica Gentili
Valerio: Good morning everyone and welcome back, I am Valerio Fioretti of Valerio.it and today I have the pleasure of having with us Veronica Gentili, author of this fantastic book Advertising on Facebook and Instagram: 50 practical tips for successful Ads. Hi Veronica.
Veronica Gentili: Hello, hello Valerio, hello everyone!
Valerio: So, for those of you who don't know who Veronica Gentili is, I call her the queen of Italian Facebook-marketing because she is, alas, one of the very few well-known women in the world of web marketing, there aren't very many of you girls working on digital at levels-at least that high in notoriety.
It's a very masculine world, and I'm very sorry about that because all the people of the fairer sex, the professionals of the fairer sex, that I always met on my way, they were always very very good, very prepared...
You are an incredible representative of the world of the fairer sex in Italian digital.
Veronica, would you like to tell us something about yourself? You introduce yourself, so for those who don't know you we say something.
Veronica Gentili: So, I am a digital entrepreneur, and I specialized in Facebook-marketing because I loved it, because I saw a great business opportunity in it.
I've been working in this area for about 7-8 years now, and over time, from digital I specialized then in the social media marketing, right into Facebook and Instagram advertising because then, by now, it's all one big family.
I'm a consultant, I also work for brands, many foreign brands (I'm a consultant for Hootsuite and AdEspresso), I do a lot of training (in fact I'm always on the road, in Italy and beyond), I have an Academy and I have a club.
Let's say that over the years I have chosen this verticality and specialized in that, in making Facebook a real business resource.
Veronica Gentili's book: Advertising on Facebook and Instagram
Valerio: Great. So, the book (you've written others as well), this is your latest book published by Flaccovio: "Advertising on Facebook and Instagram. 50 practical tips for successful Ads"
Veronica Gentili: Yes.
Valerio: In this book what do you give to the reader, what do you offer?
Veronica Gentili: This here is a continuation, it is the third step from the other two books I had already written. In this book I give a series of practical tips, it's really 50 practical tips. It is not a path to manage the Facebook page, create successful content or understand the dynamics of the platform (as it was in my previous books), but it is a series of practical tips to use the tools.
Often when I do courses I am told that eventually people realize they have only seen the tip of the iceberg of all the tools, all the things they can do through Facebook and Instagram.
The idea is just that: to show entrepreneurs but specialists, because then often even in my Academy (like "Buy my course" or "Join my courses"), they are digital specialists, communication specialists, or even just social media marketing specialists.
To make people understand how to use the tools, to make them understand how to set up campaigns in a strategic way, and above all to stop focusing on vanity techniques that can be interesting, maybe in a first phase, a brand awareness phase (such as precisely likes, comments, shares), and to go on something much more concrete and measurable, such as precisely contacts can be...
Veronica Gentili: ...conversions.
Web marketing culture in Italy
Valerio: Conversions. What do you think is the digital-cultural landscape of Italian entrepreneurs today, how are we doing? (since you tour so much, you always have very interesting audiences made up of professionals and entrepreneurs). Where are we in terms of digital culture?
Veronica Gentili: So ... look, I sometimes get scared because I reuse things that I used to write 6 years ago and it's not okay this thing here, which are still valid, we should have passed them and instead ...
Valerio: Evolve, that's right.
Veronica Gentili: ...continue to be valid. There is to say, on the one hand there is definitely a lot more awareness than before (in some areas).
I am also fortunate enough to work with large multinational companies, etc., and there, of course, the level of awareness is often much higher.
But at the end of the day, what I care about is small businesses, even micro businesses, which, however, really, in social could find an incredible business resource in social to make themselves known, to generate buying consideration, to do precisely retention, because then we always forget this: it's not that the customer has to be just found, the customer also has to be retained, so social can be a great resource in this sense.
Often there is still a lot of immaturity in this regard, i.e., "the page can easily manage me the friend's cousin who knows how to use the computer," "eh but 100 euros a month," "there is someone, there is another one, you how much you ask me, that other one for 100 euros a month manages everything for me, Instagram, Facebook, website"
So, in some cases there is still, unfortunately, a great immaturity, but the worst thing is that it is an 'immaturity due to lack of awareness.
Because I always say this: if one knows the tool, knows the potential, then one can choose to use it or not to use it.
The problem really stems from a lack of awareness of what really can be done through these platforms, through these ecosystems, and therefore, not knowing, there is also a tendency to give it a low importance.
Valerio: Sure. Let's say that the whole thing of the cousin of the friend of the ... running it for you does an even greater harm, in my opinion, than not giving a serious professional, an agency, a chance to have a good client, which is to create distrust, because inevitably the cousin will not bring the expected results, and then the entrepreneur will say, "This stuff doesn't work, it's all a hoax," and so he goes back to making flyers to put on the windshield of the hospital parking lot.
The risk is also this.
Since you tour so much, and so you have so many people you meet live, what are the most common questions you get asked, or concerns that people have most when they interface with this world? Is there going to be something recurring?
Veronica Gentili: Yes, so ... side ... often entrepreneurs ... one of the recurring questions is "is it better to manage internally or to outsource (so do external management)?"
In that case it tends to ... the point is that if we don't have people internally who are adequately prepared or who want to prepare, or who can devote time to management, implementation of strategies, etc., it makes much more sense to rely on an outside specialist, someone who can accompany us.
Among other questions that are asked more often was maybe, really, in the last period, a little bit waned this thing, but for quite a while it went on... "But is Facebook dead? Because my nephew doesn't go there anymore, he just goes on an Instagram," and so he has to go and explain...
Valerio: Something has changed, hasn't it?
Veronica Gentili: It has changed so much, the very way we use it has changed. If you think about it, we share a lot less than we did in previous years, we watch a lot more, we observe a lot more.
The usage has changed and the platform is evolving in that sense, not coincidentally everything is moving on groups and messaging on a much more intimate dimension of the social network, where I go and in against everybody, from square precisely, it is turning into living room, but Zuckerberg said this, I mean, it's a fact this here.
You also have to figure out how to differentiate the communication based on the channels and based on the people we want to reach, or ... "now ah, everybody on an Instagram," everybody on Instagram if you then have quality material to post, if you also have the opportunity, if there are the people you're interested in ... I mean, there's also that, because often you make decisions from the gut, and this is about business, you can't keep up with what the friend said to me while we were having a spritz, that's it.
Valerio: Okay. There's still quite a generational divide, I see, in the use of social. I teach a course at the university, and in the first lecture I did "Which of you use Facebook?" ... everyone hand down. "Which of you use Instagram?" ... everybody hand up.
So ... a little bit the audience, even demographically has split between the two platforms, there's a much younger audience on Instagram that has a faster, more visual, less deep consumption maybe, because ... oh god, it's not that Facebook gives us all this depth of content, however a little bit more maybe you can give than Instagram ... and nothing, however they are different ways of using communication, or content.
Look, in the book you also address stories, of course.
How much impact do the use of stories have compared to display advertising, traditional advertising, based on the numbers you've seen in the campaigns you run?
Veronica Gentili: For now, I tell the truth, both small brands and big brands on the campaigns, I say just on performance, especially conversions... for conversion I haven't seen great numbers, but that's in my opinion also because anyway the stories would need a dedicated creative to give great results, in the sense that you can't go...
You can't slap the little banner you use as the featured image of the link, which you typically use on the news section, on the stories and think you have the same performance, because they just have different uses and require different, dedicated creativity.
For now, beyond brand awareness campaigns, more related to interaction, I haven't seen huge results, however, the point is that it's a matter of evaluating the trend as well.
The trend is to move everything to stories, that is, that even figure Facebook in a few years as only stories, Instagram as only stories, so we have to start experimenting with this creative tool and we also have to make the leap to the level of creativity.
No longer is the cute mini video or the static image enough, we have to start working much harder to get attention in an age when getting attention is increasingly difficult.
Web marketing tools and strategies suggested by Veronica Gentili
Valerio: Okay. Very very very clear. Right, so... besides stories, what do you think are now the tools, or rather, the types of Ads that work best?
I don't know, such as using Messenger bots, or -- based always on the numbers you see, of course (which you'll see a lot of).
Veronica Gentili: Messaging, so bots, anything that harks back to direct contact that is a little more private is the present and the future, but there are already so many brands that have had significant returns on investment using bots, from the bot created by Lego, Ralph, which allowed you to personalize the gift, to...
There are lots of them, Sephora, which did a campaign (this is a case study, indeed, just from Facebook, a successful case study), and managed to acquire a number of in-store appointments through Messenger.
So much will move through Messenger, but if we think, payments will also move through Messenger, so more and more tools (under that side).
Lately, for example, they have added the ability for companies to make appointments directly through Messenger, so it has really become a very very interesting regeneration tool.
Other interesting tools (not fade side for now) include groups.
If you notice we see more and more posts from groups, we will use them more and more with groups. So the question today is: Is it worth it to create a group for our brand or a vertical among the products we manage, among the targets we have, and start creating a community to build loyalty, in an era when organic page visibility goes to...
Valerio: It goes to death almost, if you don't push it fearfully, exactly. Well, it has to be said that here too, however, we are then faced with a big problem of education, in the sense that to create a group takes five seconds, but to manage a group requires commitment and skills, because it is not easy.
Then we also go to personal dynamics, people interacting, having different opinions, flame, people bickering, so it could also be a double-edged sword if you don't know how to use it well.
Veronica Gentili: No, absolutely. The group then needs, clearly, totally different animation, moderation and management than the page.
Valerio: Totally different. Absolutely.
Veronica Gentili: It is a choice between...
Social Media Marketing: mistakes not to make
Valerio: It's a very important choice, I mean, it has to be considered well. Look, in your experience of cases that you've also seen from the outside, not necessarily your insiders (because the question I'm going to ask you is not very nice), what is the worst campaign you've seen in your life?
So ... maybe it's not one of yours, it's one of somebody else's ... no though, now, without naming names, I don't want you to name names, however, understand what was the biggest mistake that was made, so that you can give it as advice to others in the series "don't do like ... , don't do it again at home."
Veronica Gentili: I've seen quite a few from campaigns for example optimized to have interactions: there's the featured beat, you highlight a post, you even put hundreds, thousands into it and the goal is actually to sell with that post.
Now, in some cases that makes sense, but those are very strategic cases where you optimize by interaction when your goal is sales. I actually, really, have seen thousands of euros thrown away either in contact acquisition or sales campaigns where, unfortunately (this is something I've seen a lot of), you used the same copy and creative as TV campaigns or traditional media campaigns.
So, "come right away and find out about the store, our sales."
Yes, look, it's terrible, then you say, "Why am I not selling?" Because you are using a tool in the wrong way to do the wrong thing.
Valerio: You say things one way in the wrong place, things that belong to another world....
Veronica Gentili: What is often not understood (this is on various levels), is that advertising on Facebook and Instagram is a form of natural advertising, so if you don't respect--and in part, if you then know the algorithm to simplify, the better you are, the less you pay.
Or rather, for the same budget you can have many more results.
Valerio: Many more results.
Veronica Gentili: I with 5,000 euros can make 5,000 contacts, or I can make 500 sales or I can make 10. A lot depends on how I know, know the dynamics of the tool and how to respond to the right person in the right way at the right time (the mantra is always that, which Facebook also teaches you).
Veronica Gentili: The worst things I've seen there, when brands take the same campaign and slap it on Facebook, then get angry because they don't get results.
Valerio: Okay. Question instead diametrically opposite, what is the best campaign you have seen? This time you can talk about one of yours and even name it if you want, however I'd be interested in understanding a little bit about the strategy and what you think was the "magic ingredient" (if any), which allowed for greater results, whether it may have been copying, image, audience targeting, bidding, if you can tell us anything.
Veronica Gentili: So, look, one campaign that gave me great satisfaction, which we ran with one of our collaborators, was from a brand that sold online, and the biggest problem it had ... because then you have to do these calculations as well, it was selling a type of product where you have low margins, so you have to have large volumes to be able to justify the expense as well.
We imposed on each other, he had been very burned by some agency campaigns he had had previously because, precisely, everybody happy was saying, "look, you put in 10, you got 20," and he would say, "yes, I put in 10, I got 20, but for me it's not," even that thing, which is a little bit important to understand, that it's not just return, but it's the marginality, in the end, what matters.
So, we put on a series of campaigns, dynamic retargeting, direct sales even just on completely new targets, with audience etc., and the average return was something like -- now I can't remember if it was even 32.5, stuff like that, so for every euro spent the average was this.
Dynamic targeting campaigns, you know, generate a very high return, however, you have to do the tare on the ones that come to direct traffic, it depends on the attribution models. However, there I was very happy because this person -- this was a company, this was a referral that we had internally within the company, they were so happy that they wanted to keep scaling, obviously, right?
Veronica Gentili: At a high level because precisely, then, the thing is this: beyond the campiness of the like, etc., there has to be a real awareness behind it, at the business level there has to be a great awareness of the customer journey, of the customer journey online, and how Facebook can go into that journey and improve returns, even just increase customer lifecycle value, etc.
Valerio: Quite right. Okay, let's say goodbye with three reasons why my followers should buy your book.
Veronica Gentili: So, look, because it's practical... I, as I say...
Veronica Gentili: ... generally the courses in the books are fuffa fritta, I mean, they're based on years of experience and managed campaigns, because then that's the problem, is that maybe one writes stuff however then ... did you manage it, did you do it?
Valerio: Substance, that's it, exactly.
Veronica Gentili: Yes. Okay. There are several real examples and tips that you can apply right away, so, it's not, it's an operations manual, and then because it's very result-oriented.
Veronica Gentili: I feel like I didn't even mention campaigns for interaction, brand awareness, which it's not that they're not important, absolutely they are, also because those are the ones that prepare then for the sale, but in my opinion it's very important right now to give a shoutout to this new generation, to us, entrepreneurs, etc. to bring real results, so to change just the way we use campaigns.
Valerio: Okay. You've been very clear, perfect. All right, so.
Thank you Veronica, thank you for being with us, I remind you, Advertising on Facebook and Instagram, and here you also see the cover on Amazon, you can also find it in bookstores and lots of other places.
Thank you Veronica, thank you very much. You will find this interview of course on the YouTube channel, on Valerio.it in "PODCAST" and wherever I put a flag. Thank you all, again good day Veronica and see you soon, a greeting from Valerio. Bye!
Veronica Gentili: Thank you, Valerio, see you soon.