Welcome back to ‘Words from the W I S. E. O’ – we’ve got a great post for you today!
This post is by Alex Meyerhans of Human Proof Designs shares how the company made a lot of extra cash last year just through Facebook ads – a whopping $200,000 to be exact.
Want to know how? Keep reading to learn how you could do the same…
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How We Used Facebook Ads To Generate Over $200,000 In Extra Revenue In 2017
In February 2017, I joined HumanProofDesigns as the guy in charge of paid traffic. I had never run an ad in my life. What’s between that and six figures in revenue from FB ads with a 20x ROAS?
That’s what you’re going to discover today.
For those of you who don’t know, HumanProofDesigns is an Internet Marketing company focused on helping affiliates succeed. We build done-for-you affiliate sites and provide pretty much every service affiliates may need, from content to links. But most importantly, we focus on training, community, and “showing the way” through our blog.
In this article, we’re going to be dissecting FB ads and how we’ve used them to get awesome results, but first…
- Why Paid Traffic?
For some of you the answer may be dead clear. Paid traffic is on-demand, is scalable and can be sent to any page of your liking. Because, you know, good luck ranking a squeeze page like this one for anything:
For every goal you may have in your marketing needs (such as generating leads or sales) there’s a campaign for you. Ads allow us to put our message in front of the right people, pretty much instantly, and that’s a powerful thing. How powerful, you may ask? Well, a post of this kind wouldn’t be complete without a mandatory “money shot”.
So here it is:
Let me explain a couple things: Most of our campaigns are retargeting campaigns. Like that one you see there where $223.49 ad spend “got us” $53,243.00. There’s quotes there because there’s a lot more than meets the eye (and I’ll explain later).
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term “retargeting” it basically means advertisers follow people around based on their behavior (a bit creepy, I know). So, for instance if you’ve seen a sales page on our site, a retargeting ad would bring you back to that sales page in hopes of a second touch getting you to buy the product, basically.
Retargeting is 80% of our ad game, and the rest is lead generation… and sometimes (but rarely) just traffic for brand awareness purposes and audience building (more on this later).
So, let’s jump into each type of campaign and how you can use them to grow your business.
2. Before we start: Understanding sales funnels
I’m not going to go crazy explaining what sales funnels are here, mostly because I think Digital Marketer has done a better job on this article than I’d ever be able to do myself. But to give a tl:dr version, a sales funnel is a system that transforms visitors into buyers, and then into repeat customers.
I’m mentioning funnels here because FB ads aren’t magic. Sure thing, they’ll bring traffic to your site, but without a funnel you’ll be wasting that traffic. If you have a system in place though, you can do wondrous things.
So, what makes a good funnel?
- A good funnel warms up brand-new visitors: Funnels start by simply warming up visitors. By presenting the brand, who we are and what we do. New customers are the blood of any business, and most new customers start with someone who doesn’t know you at all.
Think about a series of blog posts with your most stellar content. If a brand-new visitor was ever introduced to that series, he or she would be much more likely to then (at least) consume more of your content and hopefully care about what you have to offer.
2. A good funnel generates leads: The next thing is to transform those visitors into contacts – people you can reach out to directly via email or FB messenger (or any channel of your choice really) whenever you want to tell them something. About your latest post (so you warm them up more) or about your product or your latest offer.
3. A good funnel generates customers on the cheap: So, obviously a funnel’s mission is to generate customers, but a good funnel will also get those customers for a low amount of money. Both in terms of what the customer pays (so the barrier to become one is low, think about a $7 product vs a $700 product) and what you pay to acquire that customer
4. A good funnel increases LTV: The more your customers spend with you over time, the more you can spend to acquire them simply because you know that you’ll make the money back multiple times over the course of the next 3-6-12 months. A good funnel is designed to make repeat sales out of the same customer pool.
If you’re a seasoned marketer you know this already, but do you know what you NEED to make the most out of FB ads? A strong email marketing game.
Let me rephrase: Email is the single most important part of a good sales funnel. If your email game is on-point, you can plug FB ads at any point of the funnel and get crazy returns. And we’re going to see how right now:
3. Plugging Paid traffic into a funnel – Types of campaigns and how to make them work.
So, before I jump into each campaign, I’m assuming you know how to set up your account, use the FB ads manager and how to create audiences. If you don’t, I’ve linked to some good resources in the previous sentence.
Now, let’s start at the beginning:
- Traffic Campaigns
These campaigns have a very simple goal: Bring NEW visitors to your site. Or put otherwise, to increase brand awareness. They also serve to build up pixel data (and therefore, audiences you can market to).
The type of content you send traffic to via this campaign has to be epic. Actionable stuff that leaves the reader better than he or she was when the initial click happened, and hopefully eager to read more of what you have to offer.
At the same time, whenever you’re doing paid traffic to a blog post, you must be sure your lead-generation elements are ready. Think about content locking, sidebar widgets or a lightbox offering a free eBook, to name a few ways. If you can convert some of that direct traffic to leads on the first touch, that’s awesome.
Now, you run these campaigns to cold audiences, so how do you go about targeting them the right way?
Here are a few tips:
- Spend a couple minutes dissecting the person who’d benefit the most by reading the blog post you’ll be promoting. List a bunch of interests and some demographic data (age, gender, location…)
- Cross-section as many of those interests as you possibly can so you show the ad to people with a STRONG interest
- Exclude demos that you know won’t/can’t buy your products (there’s no point obviously)
Here’s an example of the targeting I used to promote a blog post about Dom selling a “failed” site for 40k. We chose that post because it shows who Dom is, how we make money with websites and tells a good story. You’ll see it’s got plenty of lead-generation elements on the page. Feel free to subscribe!
I cross-sectioned three pools of interest. One is sites and site builders, the other one is affiliate marketing and the other one is marketing. You’ll see each “pool” has many interests inside of it, but they’re all super-similar. This helps bringing the final audience size up. For this sort of campaign, you want a pool of 500k to 1M people.
I also excluded an audience made of all website visits in the last 180 days, so we show the ad ONLY to new, fresh eyes.
The results were quite decent:
We did generate more than 10 leads though, as the event “lead” would not trigger with many of our leadgen elements. You see too that we tested more than one audience. Always be testing.
What about the copy and the creative?
For the image, I advise you always use the same image you’ve got as the post featured image to keep the ad scent (so the image the visitor clicks on the ad is the same one that he/she sees on the other side).
For the copy, here’s the one I used:
See, the copy screams “content, content, content” and, if you own a site you consider a failure, it also screams “value!” and that’s what you’d like your copy to look like.
2. Lead Generation Campaigns
These are meant to grow your email list and launch people down the email sequence that will ultimately transform them into buyers, so it’s very important that you get them right. We do leadgen campaigns to two different audiences.
- Cold audiences: Like the ones I showed you on the previous section.
- Warm audiences: People who already know who we are (but aren’t in our list). Let’s see how to set this up…
So, for you to be able to show your leadgen ads to people who’ve already seen your content effectively, you need to be segmenting your traffic. For that, you want to go and create custom audiences based on topics. Here’s what ours look like:
Since we talk about several different topics on our blog, I’ve created audiences based on the main topics we cover (hint, here’s how: which essentially means you list every URL on the topic and then put a few fall-back slug keywords so that new posts you publish in the future get added to that audience too).
Now, if I want to promote a lead magnet about some email outreach templates, I’ve already got an audience that knows who we are and it’s interested on SEO. It should get fairly good results from that, shouldn’t it? You bet it does:
Let’s have a look at one of those ads to see the type of copy and creative I use for leadgen ads (this isn’t for the email templates but for another lead magnet we launched earlier last year):
I know that green background is ugly, but I split-tested 7 different color variations and this was the winner. And I’d say the reason is that it simply stands out.
You see, something I’ve come to realize over the last months is: most people try too hard with their ads, with their copy and with their landing pages. Sometimes (most of the time really) simpler is better.
So, key elements here: The same PDF cover we feature on the landing page is featured in the image (ad scent). It’s clear that is a download by both the image and the [FREE DOWNLOAD] text. I’ve used copy from the landing page on the description (for congruency and ad scent) and the image lands on the ugly side. Ugly stuff gets noticed. That’s what we want.
Extra tip: Keep your ad copy short, for the love of God. People don’t want to read the 70,000 reasons they should download your stuff, they only need one quick line telling them what’s inside/the benefits.
You can also create retargeting ads for your lead magnets to maximize the amount of people who sign up. I’ll show you how to create retargeting audiences in the next section
3. Product Campaigns.
For me these could be split into two different types of campaign:
- Product retargeting: Where we retarget people who have seen the product page but haven’t bought
- Product promotion: Where we bring a product in front of a fitting (warm) audience for the first time
There’s a few caveats to be aware of when we create our retargeting audiences, so let’s proceed with an example and have a look at what our audiences look like.
So, at HPD we sell done-for-you affiliate sites like I’ve mentioned above right? Here’s how I set the retargeting audience:
Quite simple. Include people who have seen and exclude people who have bought (if you’ve seen the upsell page, it means you’ve bought). You need to think the logic because it isn’t always that easy though.
Here’s another example. This is a cart abandonment retargeting audience:
It’s not perfect, as someone could have seen the /checkout/ page while purchasing something else, but it’s alright.
What about product promos? We simply use our segmented audiences shown above.
An ad example you say? Sure:
So, this is a retargeting ad for our Aged Sites. You see the same elements as we’ve talked before. Short, to the point copy. Some emojis to get extra visibility and the same wording as we use on the sales page for consistency.
Oh, and this is the ad that got us 53k out of $200. Here are the reasons:
- It’s our most expensive and exclusive product. People looking at Aged Sites have budget. I don’t need to tell you what people with budget do.
- The audience is very small (less than 2,000 people) and we’ve been running the SAME ad for months. Facebook has so much data on that ad that the optimization is ridiculous.
- Display frequency is very high. I see that ad literally every time I open Facebook.
- Because all the previous, our cost per click is extremely low. And most of the times when we get a click, it’s from someone with intent to buy (if not a site, some of our other services)
And if you clicked on that link above that ad will hunt you forever 😀
- Promo Campaigns.
Whenever you’re doing a promo (for instance on Black Friday) it’s a good idea to double down on your paid ads. For these campaigns, you can do both retargeting and product promotion. Here’s the trick:
Remember to turn off your regular product ads when you run promos. So, if you have an ad retargeting some PBN links and then you run a promo, turn the original one off. When you have more than one campaign going for the same audience, results may be hurt. Plus, you don’t want to put two different messages in front of the same audience and confuse them.
A trick you can also use is to do PPE (pay per engagement) campaigns during this time.
For that, create a regular post on your FB page talking about the promo and boost it for shares and likes targeting people who already like your page. These cost virtually nothing and for $10 you may get a couple hundred likes and comments. What this will do is also increase the organic reach of that post to a lot more people who likes your page.
The result? You’re getting your message in front of people who already know who you are for virtually nothing. Because they’ll also be seeing the regular promo ad (on top of getting the boosted post) you make double sure your target audience SEES that you’re running a promo.
It’s more of a visibility thing. It works pretty well!
4. How to make sure you’re running the best possible ad
You want to be testing multiple ad variations at any given time. Different copy, different creatives, and when you do an ad to a cold audience, you may want to test different audiences at the same time.
We use AdEspresso, which allows us to input several variations of a given element of the ad (for instance, copy, but could also be the CTA button) and then it’ll create ad variations and split test them. You can do that manually too, it’s just a lot more time consuming.
Things I test: Plain copy vs copy with emojis. Professional creatives vs ugly creatives. Color vs b&w (black and white tends to perform very well because it’s uncommon to see a b&w photo in your feed. Expect this visibility trick to die as quick as general marketers get a hold of it though).
Things that aren’t worth testing (most of the time): CTA buttons. If you’re doing leadgen, “Download” is what you want, if you’re doing product “Learn More” is what you want. Same for traffic only. The rest don’t make much sense
5. Know your numbers
Before I mentioned that the more we can get people to buy from us, the more we can spend to get new customers. This essentially means: the higher your LTV (customer lifetime value) is, the higher your CAC (customer acquisition cost) can be without it hurting your business.
There’s a ton of different ways to estimate LTV, so I won’t cover that here. To put things simply, keep this rule of thumb in mind: If you know you’re going to make $300 off a customer over one year, you know you can spend up to $100 to acquire that customer and you’ll still have a healthy business (a 3:1 ratio is what you’re looking for here).
It’s obviously quite important to know this because if you don’t know how much you’re going to make from a customer, you don’t know if you’re paying too much (even though you may be paying “only” five bucks for a customer) or if you have room to scale an adset.
The best tip I can give you to make more money from FB ads is: Work out your post-purchase sequences (via email marketing mostly) so that the same customer comes again, and again, and again…
Also, keep a close eye on your ads. A lead generation campaign that’s getting you leads for $1 may from one week to another jump to $5 per lead and at that point you can’t keep the campaign running. That typically happens when the audience is depleted, or you’ve scaled the ad too far with an audience too small.
6. Final Thoughts.
FB ads are a great way to increase your reach, your list, and your sales. But you want to make sure you’re doing it right (and always keeping an eye on the results) so you’re not wasting money.
More importantly, you want to make sure you’ve got the systems on place to maximize returns from your ad spend. So, if you’re going to be working on one single thing, work on your backend… your upsell sequences, your indoctrination series, your post-purchase experience. Know your numbers.
Then you’ll be able to go and crush it with paid traffic.
Phew – that’s a lot to take in! We hope you learnt as much from this post as we did!
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