Case Study: Soona

Tackling Rising Acquisition Costs with an Ad Creative Testing Framework

Our battle-tested, rapid-fire approach to developing and testing ad creative to achieve campaign growth targets while keeping acquisition costs low.

The Partner

soona: home of the ‘virtual photoshoot.’ soona is a self-serve content creation platform that helps brands create professional, high-quality photo and video content for e-commerce and digital marketing. They aim to satisfy the growing demand for digital content by providing a fast, affordable solution to traditional content creation methods.

Tuff Services

A Quick Look

up arrow 1.4M

Increase in Impressions

up arrow 45%

Increase in CVR

up arrow 57%+

Increase in Total Sales

down arrow $200+

CPA

TL;DR: Between August and October 2022, we implemented a creative testing approach that allowed us to optimize our media spending across multiple platforms and demographics, resulting in the brand’s highest conversion rate (CVR) and lowest cost per acquisition (CPA) ever achieved.

The Challenge

Drive growth within budget: increase conversions by at least 15% MoM while staying under $575 CPA.

For soona, the challenge was two-fold. Not only did they want to drive more traffic to the website and increase online conversions, but they also needed to identify the right messaging, creative, and targeting that would attract the right audience at the right time – all while staying within budget.

So, how did we structure soona’s paid acquisition campaigns to extract key learnings, drive new customers, and build a clear roadmap for future tests?

Let’s find out ↓

The Strategy

Build a repeatable formula for winning ad creative

Our team created a unified creative strategy and robust testing framework to provide soona the edge their media plan was missing.

  1. Develop six creative assets per month with heavy diversification of look, feel, and messaging.
  2. Test each round of new creative in 1-month sprints.
  3. Learn quickly by identifying trends and extracting insights from MoM performance data.
  4. Optimize the next round of creative based on data, seasonal trends, observations, etc.
  5. Repeat the process, scaling up what worked and scrapping what didn’t.

Meta and Pinterest presented the clearest path to success. These channels offered a large enough testing ground for targeting new audiences while simultaneously running evergreen campaigns that consistently brought in conversions. In doing this, we were able to strike a balance between reliable, budget-conscious returns and scrappy, cost-effective creative testing.

Our primary KPI, cost per booking, guided the creative development process and analysis along with impressions, CTR, total bookings, CVR, and sales calls scheduled. These metrics, along with e-commerce industry trends, informed our approach.

In close collaboration with soona’s in-house brand team, our creative team successfully created and tested 19 creative assets across three paid channels in 90 days.

Here’s what we found ↓

The Results

Large scale, quick-turn gains: an average increase of 60.3% in total conversions MoM with CPA below target by $200+.

In three months, we witnessed significant gains across all* key performance indicators. Our creative and performance teams utilized performance data to determine exactly how and why certain assets were effective over others.

We found that tight, simple messaging resonated best with soona’s audience. We also discovered that assets zeroing in on “how it works” yielded higher conversion rates than simpler, awareness-type messaging – challenging traditional TOFU messaging conventions and gleaning powerful insights for future campaigns.

Together with growth strategists and the soona team, we identified performance trends, optimized strategies, and continuously learned what drove the most impact and growth.

*October CTR: we started incorporating additional audience testing at the top of the funnel, so while we saw lower CTR, our conversion rate increased significantly.

The Data

“What’s great about Tuff is that we’ve been guided by them to seek bolder results. Everyone in our company is so creative, which is a blessing. But it also makes it very difficult because everyone’s critical of creative. Tuff has been great about being graceful with feedback while also making sure the insight that inspired an asset in the first place is still rooted in the data.”

Rikin Diwan, Chief Growth Officer at soona

Key Takeaways

The ad game has changed: The businesses that are flourishing on ad channels are great at ad creative, which, along with audience targeting, is among the most crucial factors to success.

Simple messaging wins: Our learnings validated this messaging principle over and over again. Straightforward, complete, and clear information converts.

Show people “how it works”: Although this messaging typically resonates with more primed BOFU audiences, we found that soona’s TOFU audiences more easily understood the product and consistently converted on assets with info about “how to get started.”

Test one variable at a time: We focused on testing one variable, the creative, and maintaining a consistent budget and audience MoM to ensure the integrity of our results and insights.

Big budgets ≠ big results: While having a larger budget can certainly help achieve more significant results, it’s not the only factor determining success. A well-crafted campaign with laser-focused messaging and targeting yields high-impact learnings, no matter the budget.

Collaboration is critical: A strong collaborative relationship between the Tuff team and our partner’s brand team was imperative for driving quick, impactful results and helping their brand team apply learnings from paid campaigns to their work elsewhere.

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