typing on ipad

How to Drive Down CPA while You Scale Budget on Facebook

typing on ipad

No matter if you’re a fresh startup or a fast-growing scaleup, any experienced, strategic growth marketing agency will tell you: it’s extremely risky to go from 0-60 when it comes to Facebook spend. Even if you’ve got a hefty marketing budget, starting with trim, efficient spend, a clear strategy for testing (audiences, placements, flows, creative, and more), and a team that’s prepared to glean actionable insights is critical for laying a solid foundation. Even when we meet founders or marketing teams that are already working with big budgets looking for scale, it’s super important to do it deliberately and incrementally. 

So, the ultimate question becomes: How do you drive down cost per acquisition while scaling your budget on Facebook? As the saying goes, there is more than one way to slice a pie. There’s really no secret sauce or one perfect way to approach this question. It is more about diving deep into your brand, getting explicit about what you want to accomplish, and developing a strategy that is research-based and customized. 

Let’s back up a bit and start from the beginning. 

Apothékary is a brand that’s got a mission to change our relationship to supplements. Instead of walking into a pharmacy to get your supplements, Apothékary offers clean, plant and mushroom-based alternatives channeling the conviction that good is medicine. 

Understand How iOS 14 Throws Wrenches

We started working on Apothékary’s paid social campaigns in May of 2021 which was right around the time when Apple’s iOS 14 changes and privacy updates went into effect. With this, we had to rethink the campaign architecture and targeting. Assuming a large majority of Apple device users opted out of app tracking, we had to get creative with our targeting to take into consideration the overall customer journey.   

  • Do they know you? 
  • Do they like you? 
  • Do they trust you? 

Answering these questions will take you all the way through the funnel. Considering what stage of the funnel you’re at comes into play when thinking through effective targeting, creative development, and even budget allocation. Aaand we’re back to bid strategies which is one of the main factors that determines your campaign’s potential for success.

Unsure Which Bid Strategy Gets You Results? Test!

There are multiple bid strategies available on Facebook, depending on what campaign objective you selected. Bid strategies help facilitate your campaigns in getting the desired outcomes, like increasing people to your site and spiking sales! The two main strategies we looked at with Apothékary were lowest cost and cost caps. Lowest cost focuses on spend-based bidding, whereas cost caps focus on goal-based bidding. Both of which have a time and a place to generate the most efficient results. You have to ask yourself: Do you want to capture as many people as possible for the lowest cost available or do you want to keep the cost per acquisition at or below the cap you set

To figure out what works best for Apothékary, we started with a test. We tested two top funnel campaigns. You guessed it! One optimized for lowest cost and one optimized with cost caps. With the campaign optimized for lowest cost, we have seen costs fluctuate more frequently than with the campaign optimized with cost caps. With that campaign, we have seen more stable CPAs, staying at or below where we set the cap. 

The lowest cost bid strategy has helped us spend our full budget, but our CPS fluctuated with auction competition — whereas, the cost cap bid strategy stayed more steady, averaging below where we set the cap at. For my visual people:

The cost per acquisition mirrored the auction competition:

facebook cost cap results

We set the cost cap at $125, and the cost per acquisition has averaged below $80:

facebook cac graph

Testing these bid strategies at the top of the funnel has helped us get a gauge on what works best for our prospecting audiences. We ultimately learned optimizing for lowest cost helps to keep our purchase volume high but at a higher cost. We learned that optimizing our campaigns using cost caps helps us to keep our cost per purchase lower but with slightly lower purchase volume. 

Analyze Your Results, Rinse, and Repeat

At the end of the day, it’s all about what matters most to your business. If your ultimate goal is to control your spend and get the lowest cost in the auction then it makes the most sense to optimize your budget for the lowest cost. If your ultimate goal is to control your cost per acquisition and potentially decrease your purchase volume then it makes the most sense to optimize your budget using cost caps. Setting your cost caps slightly higher than your actual goal helps find the sweet spot for the ideal cost per acquisition, but… as I said earlier, there’s really no secret sauce. You have to… You guessed it! Test. Ready to put the pedal to the metal? Let’s talk.

Person getting ready for a jog.

Kicking Dynamic Creative Ads to the Curb: How we Decreased CPA by 66% For Joyn

Person getting ready for a jog.

Joyn represents everything positive about the future of movement. True, we’re biased, but one of the best parts of what we do is choosing who we work with. And the truth is, our jobs are much, much easier (and more fun!) when we believe in our partners’ business. So, it goes without saying: we’re big fans of Joyn. 

Simply, Joyn is a movement app for every body. Built on the conviction that feeling the joy and freedom of movement shouldn’t be exclusive to muscular influencers in size 00, Joyn’s online library includes a wide range of videos led by instructors that are positive, warm, and inclusive—truly. At the beginning of each class, the instructor introduces themselves, shares their pronouns, and takes a moment to talk through their recommended modifications to the movement they’re about to facilitate. That way, people that might need to be seated can still have fun and participate. 

When Joyn reached out to us in late 2020, they had a well-established brand, product market fit, and a growing (and super excited) audience. But what they were looking to accomplish was replicating their positive growth across multiple channels and supercharging it with a growth marketing agency like Tuff. 

The Backstory

When we jumped in and got access to Joyn’s Facebook Business Manager, there was already quite a bit of historical data accumulated from past campaigns they had been running.

Similarly to many new Tuff clients, Joyn knew that Facebook Ads were a key tactic for scaling their subscription user base, so their in-house team jumped in, whipped up some creative, and launched ads to start getting a finger on the pulse of which combination of targeting and creative would drive the most conversions on the site. 

Truthfully, for any startup seeking product-market fit, this is the perfect approach. Get scrappy, launch some ads, glean some learnings, and when you’re established and ready to scale, call in more resources. 

When we stepped in, we did it with a pointed goal: drive down CPS. We paired with a clear game plan:

  1. Dig into the historical data 
  2. Test Non-Dynamic Creative 
  3. Get UGC Influencer Style Creative 
  4. Optimize what performs, ditch the rest

Joyn’s Facebook Dynamic Creative Ads: Were they Working?

After pulling and organizing the historical data, we realized that Joyn was relying heavily on dynamic creative ads, giving us an excellent place to jump in and uncover more insights. 

Dynamic ads require the Facebook strategist (or whomever is executing the ads strategy) to jump into the platform and upload several different types of creative along with several different headlines and body copy. Then, when the ad is published, Facebook—using its algorithm—automatically tests different combinations, eventually prioritizing the combinations that are most effective (“effectiveness” is measured based on whether you’ve chosen to run a conversion, traffic, video views, reach, brand awareness, or app install campaign). While generally, marketers can see some positive results using this approach, there are some significant drawbacks:

  • It’s a challenge to drop in creative that’s going to be cohesive no matter what combination Facebook serves
  • It’s relatively challenging to optimize on the fly with dynamic creative campaigns

So, we decided to take matters into our own hands and launch non-dynamic ads. The results speak for themselves. 

Launching Non-Dynamic Ads: a 66% Decrease in CPS

Our main goal when we launched non-dynamic ads was to first optimize spend toward the best performing asset. Although typically when we pivot to test new Facebook strategies (whether it’s a new audience, new bid type, or new ad creative) results are far from immediate—especially given Facebook’s seven-day attribution window.

But, after just $545 of spend, we saw a sharp drop of 62% and within the very first week we saw a 66% decrease in CPS. 

  • Dynamic Spend: $6,583.44 | 153 Start Trials | CPS: $43.03
  • Non-Dynamic Spend: $1,744.40 | 121 Start Trials | CPS: $14.41

faceboook cps decrease chat

True, non-dynamic ads aren’t for everyone. They necessitate a much closer eye and the oversight of someone that can spend time reallocating budget to best performing assets and manually testing creative combinations frequently. When done right, though, the results speak for themselves. 

Fresh Creative: Tapping Into Influencers

Next up on our agenda for Joyn was to deep dive into their creative assets and emerge with…

  1. A full assessment of the creative that’s historically been performing at the top of the pack
  2. Clear ideas for new types of creative we’d like to test

Here’s a peek at what that looked like.

We noted that the strongest-performing creative tended to be shorter videos that open with high energy and/or full-screen movement. Both of our best-performers featured a modified way to access the movement, and bright colors with quick, varying shots. Finally, we were immediately able to see recognizable Joyn branding. 

Strength Training Video  |   Yoga Video

So, the next steps: recommending fresh creative. Joyn’s library of body-positive movement classes is populated by a cohort of inclusive, positive, extremely personable coaches. So when we recommended testing influencer content, we were able to create fun, big-energy new creative on a few day turnaround without having to source or negotiate with influencers. 

We were able to get two raw videos back from two of Joyn’s most memorable coaches, Kanoa Greene and Anna Chapman, use Joyn’s internal team for some extra editing and text overlay, and deploy them without a hitch. 

While there are a few extra steps to take (both on the Joyn Instagram page and on the influencer’s personal page) once we began promoting the two videos, the results were extremely interesting.

  • Kanoa Greene Influencer Campaign: $643.18 | 14 Start Trials | CPS: $45
  • Best-Performing Audience: “Female Leaders” — CPS: $14.81

The name of the game for Joyn: drive a CPS of less than $20. And while our results for Anna’s influencer campaign were not quite as tight, serving Kanoa’s ad to fresh audiences, rotating in new copy, and testing new placements have us seeing results that are closer to what we’re aiming for. 

Ready to See What Works Best For You on Social?

While we have been able to deep dive into both creative strategy and rigorous optimizations with Joyn, no two brands are built the same. Have a suite of creative you think we could supercharge? 

Let us take a deep dive into your brand and develop a strategy built for your business. 

Download a Sample Growth Marketing Proposal

Got a Crappy iPhone Video? You’ve Got the Perfect Facebook Ad

A selfie of three smiling friends on the beach

There’s no one-size-fits-all recipe for successful social ad creative. After working with 50+ brands in all kinds of industries and executing countless A/B tests, we’ve learned a thing or two about what good paid social creative looks like. 

Disclaimer: what works for one account might not work for another. Make sure you’re testing different kinds of creative to find what works best for your brand. 

Yes, every Facebook ad account has its creative differences. But when it comes to the Facebook ad creative that works the best in 2021, there are definitely some common themes. Check out our tips for developing Facebook ad creative that yields the best results.

Low Fidelity Video > Everything Else

Say “hello” to iPhone videos, and “see ya later” to hella expensive video production. On most all of our accounts, low-fidelity iPhone quality video typically outperforms the polished high-end video we’re testing against. 

Typically, brands think that developing video assets = 💸💸💸. But that isn’t the case. Shoot the video on your iPhone, edit it together in TikTok, and export it to use on other social channels. Mimic the latest video editing trends on social, and you can get scrappy with creating your own video content — and see great results.

We tested this for Felt — an app that lets you send handwritten cards right from your phone.

Note: our Facebook campaigns are optimized for app installs, and one of our primary KPIs for measuring success is cost per install (CPI). 

The CPI for ads that featured low-fidelity video assets was 20% lower than its high-fidelity video counterparts and 50% lower than image ads. 

 

 

The data above shows the average CPI for $36K in Facebook spend. 

 

Curious? Check out some of our ad creative for Felt. This will help give you a better idea of what we’re talking about when we say low fidelity and high fidelity video content. 

Low Fidelity Example | High Fidelity Example

Over time, we’ve gleaned a few other tidbits for editing video for social ads. Selfie-style video of someone talking about your brand works really well (this could be the founder, an employee, or an influencer you’ve partnered with) – just make sure you add subtitles! We’ve also noticed that videos with subtitles and graphics that match the in-app design features are also some of our top performing video assets. Ask yourself: What are the kids makin’ on TikTok these days? And how can I copy and paste that style for my brand in a way that makes sense? 

What are Non-Dynamic Ads?

Dynamic ads allow you to upload up to 10 images, 7 videos, 5 captions and 5 headlines, and the algorithm will pair different combinations of creative together to make what it thinks is mostly like to perform the best. 

In theory, Facebook’s dynamic ad creative option sounds too good to be true. And my grandma always told me that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 

For some brands, Facebook dynamic ads can work. But if you’re currently using dynamic ad creative and seeing less-than-stellar results, try switching back to the regular non-dynamic ad creative.

Non-dynamic ads give you more control to make optimizations, and it’s much easier to translate the data into actionable insights. 

When we onboard new clients at Tuff, we often see that they’ve been running dynamic ad creative on Facebook – especially if someone in-house has been running their Facebook ad campaigns because it’s such an easy ad format to execute. 

We experienced this with two Tuff clients: Joyn and Team Boocamp. One of the first optimizations we made was to switch their Facebook campaigns from dynamic to non-dynamic ads. 

And by making that simple switch, our cost per signup for Joyn and Team Bootcamp decreased 42% and 47% respectively. 

a sharp drop in Joyn's CPS after launching non-dynamic ads

Images with Text > Lifestyle Images

You would have never, ever caught me saying this two years ago, but well, here I am. Social media advertising is ever evolving, and so is our approach to developing creative for Facebook ads. 

Creating images with text used to be one of the biggest Facebook ad creative faux pas because of the 20% text rule – AKA the bane of my existence. 

When Facebook semi-recently did away with the 20% text rule (praise be), it changed the type of image creative that works best for ads. Now, images with graphics and text overlay tend to perform better than the typical lifestyle image. 

When you add a bit of text to an image, you give yourself more real estate to get your message across. Think about a text overlay on your image as your headline, and the native text elements in Facebook ads manager as supporting copy. 

We put this to the test for Offline – a restaurant subscription service in North Carolina. We found that graphics yielded an 48% lower cost per signup (CPS) compared to regular images with no text overlay. 

Aside from CPS, we saw that graphics had a stronger CTR, lower CPC, and drove healthier traffic to the site – doubling the time on site (TOS) compared to regular image ads. 

a chart that shows the decrease in price and increase in efficiency between images with graphics and images without

 

Interested in learning more about our A/B testing methods for social ads? Give us a shout

 

tuff-six-signs-its-time-to-update-your-facebook-ads

Six Signs It’s Time to Update Your Facebook Ads

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated with new links and examples for you to use! 

Has your Facebook ads performance dipped? Maybe your ads never achieved your desired outcome like increased eCommerce sales or lead generation. Facebook ads performance can drop off — or never take off at all –– for a variety of factors, but one of the most crucial is your ad creative (copy, images, and video). 

Across our clients, Tuff manages anywhere from $1,500 – $100,000 / month in Facebook ad spend. This article pulls from this experience and outlines six factors we’ve identified that can indicate it’s time to update your Facebook ads creative. 

If you don’t have the time to read these detailed explanations, here’s the tl;dr on when to know it’s time to replace your Facebook ads creative: 

  • Campaigns costs are going up / objective completion
  • Ad frequency is getting high causing dreaded ‘ad fatigue’ 
  • Facebook ‘Ad Diagnostic’ scores are ‘below average’
  • Google Analytics is telling you performance has declined 
  • Facebook makes an update to any part of the user experience
  • You’re not selling more or generating more leads despite an initial bump in performance after the campaign launch 

If your ads just didn’t perform in the first place, check your targeting. Even the best ad creative will tank if you aren’t targeting the right audience.

Before jumping into this read, please note, much of what we discuss is irrelevant if your tracking is out of whack. This article assumes that the Facebook Pixel, Google Analytics, and/or other tracking mechanisms are in place to measure your Facebook Ad performance. Unless otherwise stated, all mentions about measurement and metrics are in reference to data available in the Facebook Ads manager and Google Analytics. 

Campaign costs are going up. Is the cost for your campaign objective going up?

We typically focus on Facebook campaign objectives of traffic, leads (website conversions), or eCommerce website purchases. If you’re seeing the average costs for these objectives go up, it may be time to update your ads. For instance, if your campaign used to average $4 per website conversion, but now averages $6, it may be time for an ad refresh.  

Before you get an update underway, verify that the ad set level learning phase is complete (it takes at least 50 events to exit the learning phase, so depending on your budget and campaign objective, it could take a few weeks to exit the learning phase!), no major edits have been done to the campaign, and that there aren’t external factors at play. For instance, an eCommerce apparel brand might see spikes around the holiday shopping season but then dip at the start of the new year. Or a boot camp designed to help med students study might see huge growth at the beginning of the semester, but then taper off after a few months.

Your ad frequency is getting high (AKA ad fatigue)

Ad frequency is an average of how many times people in your target audience have seen your ads. It’s calculated by dividing the total impressions by the total reach. 

Although there’s no hard and fast rule to abide by, our team likes to evaluate ads for declines in performance at around a frequency of 2. Ad frequency is more of an art form to evaluate though, because frequencies that trigger declines in performance may vary by industry and audience. We have seen frequencies of over 10 lead to conversions in niche B2B verticals. 

High frequencies often lead to a phenomenon called ‘ad fatigue’ wherein your audience is simply tired of seeing your ad. Unlike paid search where intent is high, social ads are intrusive, and interrupt a user’s feed. High frequency and decreasing performance may mean your audience is tired of your ad, and that you should fire up new copy and creative. 

Facebook Relevance Scores are Average or Below Average

Facebook has assigned a ‘relevancy’ score on ads for years. In summer 2019, they broke out relevancy into three categories outlined below. The relevancy scores are now out of three possible ratings, above average, average, and below average. If your ads are scoring ‘below average’ especially in the ‘conversion rate ranking’ or ‘quality ranking’ category, consider a media and copy update. 

Facebook Ad Relevance Diagnostic Categories 

  • Quality Ranking – does your ad ‘fit’ within your audience’s newsfeed? Your ad will receive the worst rating of ‘below average’ if your audience feels like the ad is salesy, trashy, or spam. 
  • Engagement Rate Ranking – similar to organic post’s engagement metrics, are users liking, commenting, and sharing your ad? If your ad can make these things happen you’ll land best marks of ‘above average’ in this category.  
  • Conversion Rate Ranking – will users take the conversion action you’ve optimized your campaign for? Scoring an ‘above average’ here, means users are more likely to ‘convert’ from your ad than average Facebook ads. 

These Facebook Ad Relevance Diagnostics are scored comparatively across ads on Facebook. The ‘below average’ rating in any category will also tell you if you’re in the bottom 35%, 20%, or 10% of ads overall. Poor marks in ad diagnostics are one of the best indications your ad creative should be updated. 

What does Google Analytics reporting tell you?

Google Analytics can be a great arbiter of truth by offering an unbiased look at your Facebook Ads performance. At Tuff, we’ve made it a practice to gut check Facebook campaign reporting with Google Analytics reporting (don’t be surprised when you see that the analytics differ between the two platforms – we often find our Facebook metrics to be slightly inflated compared to Google Analytics). 

Using UTM parameters on all Facebook ads allows us to see how the campaign objective, audience and creative perform. In Google Analytics, take a look at your Facebook campaign and individual ad set’s cost per session over time. Look at goal completions. If costs are going up or conversions are going down as reported by Google Analytics, it’s a good indicator that it is time to refresh your ads. 

Facebook makes (another) update

Facebook and Instagram are constantly evolving to improve the user experience, and some of those changes call for updates to your ad creative to stay timely and relevant. For example, TikTok and Instagram Reels have changed the way people watch video. Short, vertical videos edited in a style that matches a particular sound are killing it right now. 

When an update like this happens, it might be time to update your antiquated video creative to stay relevant. Remember, social ads interrupt a user’s feed – make sure you’re interrupting it with content that makes sense. 

How’s your bottom line looking?

Facebook and Google Analytics tracking isn’t perfect for a variety of reasons, so at the end of the day, it’s important to evaluate your own balance sheet. Are more or fewer customers becoming leads or making purchases online? Have increases to Facebook campaigns correlated with upticks in business? 

Because of differences in attribution between the two platforms, we often see goal increases in organic and direct site traffic that correlate with an increase in Facebook spend, even though Facebook has a seemingly negative ROAS. 

Is that uptick starting to wane? Use common sense, if you launched a $10,000/month Facebook campaign and saw an uptick in business, the campaign is likely playing a role. When performance declines, it’s time to reset.

Conclusion

Facebook thrives on novelty. People are on Facebook for a number of reasons, but when they’re in the app or on Facebook.com, it’s rare they’re looking for an advertiser’s product or service specifically. Ads should be optimized to stop someone’s scroll and get them to take action. 

As a rule, it’s often good to start planning your next round of Facebook ads before performance ever dips. This way, you’re not caught on your heels when one of the above factors causes a dip in performance. Though great ads paired with ideal audiences can have a tenure of several months, we like to plan for new Facebook Ads creative every 4-6 weeks.

Own Your Assets: How to Set Up Your Facebook Account for Success

You’re ready to start running Facebook and Instagram ads, but not sure where to start? Or you’re not sure how to keep all of your assets organized?

Here at Tuff, we work with businesses who’ve just begun to run Facebook ads, those who spend thousands of dollars each month on the channel, and many in between. We’ve learned a thing or two about how to (…and how not to) set your Facebook accounts up for success. 

This blog has plenty of Facebook jargon. Here’s a handful of definitions to help you keep things straight:

  • Facebook Asset: One of the many Facebook properties that have to be created in order to run ads on the channel (page, ad account, pixel, and product catalog are the main ones).
  • Business Manager: Facebook’s central hub for organizing all of your assets.
  • Personal Profile: Your personal Facebook account, where you go to connect with friends and groups you’re part of. This is granted access to your Facebook page via Business Manager (if set up correctly), but is separate from your business’s Facebook assets. 

Common Mistakes

When we onboard new clients, we often run into two common setup mistakes:

  1. Previous agency partners own the brand’s Facebook ad account, pixels, pages, and product catalogs because they created them.
  2. Their ad account and page is owned by a personal profile rather than a Business Manager account. 

One of the biggest hiccups we run into is when a previous agency or marketing partner creates the ad account and pixel for the brand. This often means that the user who created the asset also owns the asset. And when that partnership ended, the previous agency still owned all those assets they created. 

This is why Tuff coaches our clients on how to create their own ad accounts, then grant our team proper access to it. 

Why It’s Important to Own Your Own Assets

Fundamentally, we believe in transparency with our clients, and that starts with how we set our channels up before we launch campaigns. When you own your Facebook assets, you also own the data you need to make marketing decisions. 

What is Business Manager? 

Facebook Business Manager helps advertisers integrate Facebook marketing efforts across their business with external partners (like Tuff!). It acts as a central place to manage your business, separate from your personal Facebook profile. 

This free platform allows you to run and track ads, manage your pages and ad accounts, and add agency partners. 

As Facebook advances the measures it takes to prevent spam accounts, it’s becoming more essential for brands to set up a Business Manager account rather than own all assets through a personal profile. 

It’s essential that someone on your team—usually the business owner or marketing manager—creates the Business Manager account. The personal profile that creates the Business Manager will also own the Business Manager. If necessary in the future, you can change ownership, but you have to go through Facebook support to do so. 

Giving Your Agency Partners the Correct Access

Once you’ve created your Business Manager account, you’ll want to assign your agency’s Business Manager as a partner. Then, you’ll click “Share Assets” to give them the access they need to your ad account, pixel, page, etc.

Here at Tuff, a Growth Marketer will provide you with detailed instructions during the onboarding phase to help make sure you’re set up properly! 

Interested in learning more about our social advertising service? Give us a shout! 

 

iOS 14 is Coming: How Improved User Privacy Will Affect Targeting, Tracking, and Optimizing Facebook Ads

Apple’s latest iOS update will restrict data usage in an effort to hold apps to a higher standard when it comes to user privacy. At the heart of it, this will affect how your Facebook pixel receives data, which could negatively impact your targeting, tracking, and optimizations. Have you thought about what this means for your Facebook ads strategy? We have! And we’re here to help. 

What exactly is the iOS 14 update? 

As part of Apple’s new AppTrackingTransparency framework, there are two big changes coming with iOS 14 that impacts how apps use your data. 

  1. Apps will be required to describe how they’ll use your data in the App Store.
  2. You’ll begin to receive a notification from each app asking permission to use your data to track you across apps and websites.

Facebook anticipates that many people will opt out of app tracking on iOS devices, which could negatively impact targeting that allows for a more personal advertising experience for users and performance reporting. 

Changes Facebook’s Making To Prepare for iOS 14

In preparation for iOS 14 and Apple’s AppTrackingTransparency framework, Facebook’s making a few notable changes to Ads Manager that will impact how we build out campaigns. (Some of this gets technical, so bear with us!) 

Check out this list of changes that Facebook’s making and how you can prepare your ad accounts for them!

#1 Conversion Events

Starting in early 2021, advertisers will be limited to using only eight conversion events per domain set up on your Facebook pixel. Once this goes into effect, ad sets optimized beyond the eight prioritized conversion events will be paused. 

How You Can Prepare:

 

#2 Value Optimization

This update will really only affect e-commerce brands with large product catalogs that rely on dynamic ads. If that’s not you, skip ahead to number three!

Value Optimization is a delivery setting you can currently enable at the ad set level in Facebook Ads Manager. It tells the algorithm to bid on audience members who are most likely to spend more money. In theory, this helps improve your Return on Ad Spend (ROAS). 

Value sets will be moved from the ad set level to Events Manager, and will count as part of the eight conversion events that are allowed per domain. 

How You Can Prepare:

  • Start moving away from Value Optimization delivery (if you currently use it!)

 

#3 Tracking and Measurement

Facebook will be eliminating its 28-day attribution windows and instead, all ad accounts will default to the 7-day click attribution window. Attribution window settings will also be controlled at the ad set level instead of the ad account level. This will help ensure that conversions being measured are the same ones used to inform campaign optimizations. 

For app and web conversion events, the ability to use breakdowns is going away. You’ll no longer be able to break down your results for these events by age, gender, region, placement, etc. 

We won’t know definitively until the iOS 14 updates fully roll out in early 2021, but we’re expecting this change in attribution window to cause cost per results to increase. 

How You Can Prepare:

  • Update any automated rules using a 28-day attribution window.
  • Begin using the comparing windows feature in ads manager to see how conversions attributed to ads compare across different attribution windows. You can access this by creating custom columns in Ads Manager, then click “Comparing Windows” in the bottom right corner.

ios14-facebook-ads

#4 Dynamic Ads

No major changes will be happening to Dynamic Ads, but if you use them for Retargeting, you could start to see audiences sizes decrease and lower performance. For now, Facebook’s expecting minimal impact to broader prospecting audiences being served Dynamic Ads. 

How You Can Prepare

  • Verify your product URL domains in the catalog feed and avoid the use of URLs redirecting users to a different domain (no bit.ly!)
  • Prepare to use one pixel per catalog to optimize for prioritized conversion events across all catalog items.

 

There’s still so much to learn about how iOS 14 will impact Facebook advertising. 

At the end of the day, we won’t truly know the impact iOS 14 will have on Facebook advertising until these changes roll out. 

We don’t know how many Apple device users will opt-out of app tracking (although my gut says it’ll be the majority). We don’t know exactly how targeting and tracking will suffer. 

Each brand’s volume of iOS users will differ. Some brands will have higher percentages of iOS users compared to Android and desktop users than others. Start researching this in your ad account now by analyzing your device impressions breakdown.

While Facebook will be going through massive changes this year, several other social advertising channels have made huge strides in their paid acquisition offerings. Platforms like Pinterest, TikTok, LinkedIn and Twitter are upping their game, and now might be the time to diversify your social advertising channels if you’ve been reliant on Facebook up until now. 

If you’re interested in talking more about how to prep your ad account for iOS 14 or broaden your social advertising to other channels, let’s talk! 

LinkedIn Ads Cost

How Much Do LinkedIn Ads Cost?

LinkedIn Ads Cost

It’s a simple truth that success in business requires success in advertising. As the market presence of eCommerce continues to explode, online advertising becomes more important with each passing day. For many business owners, online advertising begins and ends with Google Ads and Facebook Ads. However, while LinkedIn Ads cost more, savvy marketing professionals recognize the specialized benefits this platform offers.

If you need a new channel to generate leads and traffic, LinkedIn can present an ideal solution. What’s more, if you work in the B2B space, LinkedIn offers a veritable goldmine of potential customers. According to data collected in 2018, 65 percent of B2B marketers have found a successful return on their LinkedIn Ads cost. 

LinkedIn also continues to grow at an exceptional pace. In its Q3 2020 report, Microsoft states that LinkedIn has ballooned to 690 million members, with more than a 25% growth in user sessions for a new record in terms of engagement. What does this mean for you? Exposure to an active and professional audience on a platform with clear dominance in the world of B2B eCommerce.

LinkedIn Ads Cost: Is It Worth It?

Though LinkedIn stands as a juggernaut in the world of B2B commerce, its advertising opportunities can provide clear benefits for practically any company. Whether you own or market for a university, nonprofit, or another type of organization, you can utilize LinkedIn for targeted goals to achieve success. 

Also, keep in mind that the ROI on your LinkedIn Ads cost is not only apparent in new customers, but also in potential employees. Any savvy business owner knows that finding the right applicant is less about dangling a hook, and more about finding the right spot and casting a net.

That said, B2B companies do represent the standard candidates for LinkedIn advertising. Before you commit resources to the platform, ask yourself whether a career-minded professional would have an interest in your service, product, or offer. If your answer is “yes,” then LinkedIn likely offers a good avenue for you to follow. 

Remember, people join and engage with LinkedIn to further their careers, network with other professionals, establish business contacts, and find new jobs. Whatever your offer or message, it needs to appeal to people engaged in these activities. 

How Do LinkedIn Ads Work?

Though LinkedIn advertisements do not appear as obvious as ads through other platforms, an engaged user will encounter them on a daily basis. As typical with online advertising, LinkedIn Ads cost different amounts and exist in different forms. If you decide to advertise on this platform, you can choose between Sponsored Content, Sponsored InMail, Text Ads, and Dynamic Ads.

Sponsored Content

The native advertisements users see most frequently, Sponsored Content operates on the LinkedIn Ads cost-bidding structure to surface in users’ news feeds. When it appears, a piece of Sponsored Content will look similar to any typical LinkedIn post. You can create Sponsored Content in a few different formats. 

Single image ads are typical feed ads composed of a single image paired with some text. A video ad allows you to substitute a short clip for the static image. Lastly, carousel ads consist of a swipeable series of images that allow advertisers to tell a story, display multiple offers, or provide an audience with business insights.

Sponsored InMail

With Sponsored InMail, you use LinkedIn Messaging to send advertisements to specified prospects. This program only targets people who engage with LinkedIn frequently. It also comes with delivery caps that increase the chance your messages actually get read. Sponsored InMail is ideal for a few types of goals, including:

  • Boosted registrations for events or webinars through personalized invites
  • More conversions for service promotions and targeted product advertising
  • Promoted downloads of white papers, infographics, and eBooks

Text Ads

Text ads appear on a desktop in LinkedIn’s right column area. You can choose between four formats for these ads: horizontal, long, tall, and square. With text ads, you can directly target a premium audience to derive top-quality leads. Text ads also allow for tight control of how much your LinkedIn Ads cost. For example, this type of ad has no contract or commitment requirement. You only pay for ads that work via clicks or impressions.

Dynamic Ads

These ads capture immediate attention. Dynamic ads feature a LinkedIn member’s own profile data, including company name, profile data, job title, a photo, and more. Thanks to automation, you can launch dynamic campaigns quickly with individually populated ads across the LinkedIn desktop. 

What Is the LinkedIn Ads Cost Breakdown?

With LinkedIn, you customize the amount you spend and bid on ads. This means that LinkedIn Ads cost different amounts from campaign to campaign. Typically, advertisers on Linkedin pay a median price of $3.99 for every click. Keep in mind, however, that this number is generated through s blended analysis of all advertisers. In reality, the average cost-per-click (CPC) on LinkedIn lands closer to $5. 

LinkedIn requires a minimum bid of $2 for CPC and cost-per-impression (CPM) campaigns. This results in averages of $5.26 for the clicks and $6.59 for every 1000 impressions your ads generate. Sponsored InMail presents the most expensive option, with an average of around $.80 for each send in the campaign.

One company that has worked with LinkedIn often, HubSpot, has raised the curtain on its experience with the advertising platform. According to HubSpot, prices for ads averaged $5.74 per click and had a conversion rate of 6.1%. If you apply these numbers to a budget of $1,000, you will pay for 174 total clicks and 11 conversions. Break this down, and you’ll find that you’ve spent about $90 for a conversion through LinkedIn.

Your actual LinkedIn Ads cost will depend on three factors

Target Audience

Advertising on LinkedIn centers on competition between advertisers for a target audience. If you want to go after a high-demand audience, you will pay more for your campaign. There are two reasons for this: the audience’s perceived value, along with the the number of competitors for their attention.

Bid Amount

Of course, the amount of your bid also influences your LinkedIn Ads cost. Though you will never pay higher than your bid amount, you will pay some percentage of it. This occurs because LinkedIn’s advertising auctions requires the winner to pay one cent more than the runner-up bid.

Ad Relevance Scores

The relevance and value of your ad plays a huge factor in your LinkedIn Ads cost. If you achieve a high score in regards to relevance, your expenses will actually decrease. This occurs because LinkedIn actively wants to provide engaging ad content to its users.

Your Budget and Bidding Options

LinkedIn Analytics

Advertisers on LinkedIn have three options for the control of an advertising budget. 

Total Budget: You set a total budget for the entire ad campaign. This works best for those who want to quickly deliver a campaign for a set amount of money. The minimum you can spend is $10 per campaign.

Daily Budget: Another type of budget with a $10 minimum, the daily budget suits those who want to design a campaign that runs on a continuous basis.

Setting Bids: As discussed above, setting a bid means that you identify the maximum amount you will spend for impressions, clicks, or sends. You will never pay more than your bid. For this option, LinkedIn has established a $2 minimum for every click.

You have three options when you bid for LinkedIn Ads. The first is cost-per-click (CPC). This means that you pay when users click on your ad. If you want to drive traffic to a website or generate leads, this presents a great bidding option.

Cost-per-impression (CPM) ads are the second bidding option. With these, you spend money each time your ad generates 1000 impressions. An impression means that someone has seen your ad, but not necessarily interacted with it. This bidding option typically appeals to companies who want to increase brand awareness.

The final bidding option, cost-per-send (CPS) applies only to those engaged with Sponsored InMail. When you bid CPS, you set the maximum price you will pay for every user that receives your Sponsored InMail advertisement. Since this lands advertising directly in a user’s mailbox, it works best for companies who wish to target specific users with a product or service.

How Do LinkedIn Ads Compare to Other Platforms?

Put simply, LinkedIn Ads cost more than advertising on other platforms. For example, one study showed that the median CPC for Facebook Ads comes in at $0.51. The same study pinned LinkedIn at $5.61 CPC. Though this represents nearly a 10x multiplier, however, the leads found through LinkedIn tend to generate much more value. 

In addition to higher-quality leads and a better ROI, LinkedIn clicks are 500% more likely to generate quality conversions. If you operate in B2B sales or an industry that targets high-value professionals, these lucrative, quality conversions are exactly what you want. 

As for Google Ads, LinkedIn again proves its superiority for more targeted, niche marketing. In terms of costs, Google Ads cost between $1 and $2. However, this price can increase a great deal if you need to compete for popular keywords. Google Ads is also best utilized for intent-driven searches. This means that it delivers ads to users who search for a specific thing. 

LinkedIn, on the other hand, can catch people before they have shown intent. In other words, with LinkedIn, you can target potential consumers before they know they need your services or products. Since you establish audience criteria as part of your campaign, you benefit from refined targeting that exposes your business to entirely new markets.

Though LinkedIn Ads cost more than other outlets, they stand out on the strength of their audience. Furthermore, LinkedIn’s unrivaled options for specific targeting make each of its ad formats highly effective investments. No one wants to feel as if their advertising budget has gone to waste. If you know your market and are willing to spend some money, LinkedIn Ads will not disappoint. 

Man walking into building.

LinkedIn Advertising in 2020: LinkedIn Ad Examples From Tuff Clients

Man walking into building.

LinkedIn advertising has been quickly gaining momentum as a critical tactic for our clients at Tuff —and for good reason.

Unlike Facebook, Twitter, and Google, with LinkedIn advertising, you can connect with granular, business-oriented audiences with targeted copy and creative. It’s no wonder advertising on LinkedIn expanded 36.5% to $1.58 billion in 2019. The LinkedIn ad stats are, to say the least, very impressive. 

At Tuff, we’ve known the value of a comprehensive LinkedIn ad strategy for the last couple of years. We ran our first LinkedIn advertising campaign back in March 2017 and are still actively running campaigns for clients today. 

Example of a LinkedIn ad.

This is the first campaign we ran (ever!) on LinkedIn. It looks a little out-dated now but back then it was CUTTING-EDGE stuff.

We’re also willing to bet that LinkedIn will continue to grow throughout 2020 and beyond, especially as LinkedIn advertising features continue to improve and advance to match the same level of sophistication as other paid acquisitions channels. 

That’s why we recommend LinkedIn display ads to a variety of our partners, B2B, SaaS, and eCommerce, especially those with valuable content, brand awareness goals, or leads to collect.  

In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the LinkedIn ad campaigns we have run so far in 2020 alongside our partners. 

Follower Growth for CITI Program

CITI Program offers research ethics and compliance training for organizations like Harvard University, as well as ad hoc courses for individuals. When an organization subscribes to CITI Program, the annual base fee starts at $4,500 and scales from there. 

Example of a LinkedIn ad

We’ve been working with their team since October 2019 — and our focus has been on running campaigns and testing new channels to drive traffic and get more organizations to subscribe on their website. Our core channel mix includes Bing, Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn. 

For LinkedIn, we’ve leveraged the Sponsored Content ad format with a focus on three core objectives: 

  • Generating leads by sending highly targeted traffic to a landing page 
  • Increasing qualified traffic to posts or pages
  • Boosting follower total

For CITI, our best results have come from our campaigns that focus on follower count, which to be honest, was surprising to our entire team. Out of all the paid channels, LinkedIn is the most expensive, which means if you’re going to put your ad dollars here you typically need solid ROI numbers and last-click attribution data that signals this channel is worth the high sticker price. 

Follower ad on LinkedIn

Optimizing campaigns for followers works well for CITI because the buying cycle is long, sometimes up to 6+ months. With very specific job titles and email list uploads, we can grow the brand’s followers on LinkedIn with highly-targeted leads. From there, the sales team at CITI can develop a relationship with these followers and slowly move them down the funnel.  

For these LinkedIn lead gen campaigns to be successful, we knew it was important to nail the targeting. We were able to serve ads to key employees of target institutions that were not yet CITI Program subscribers. For these campaigns, we tested three different types of targeting: 

  • Saved Audiences: Company,  job seniority, job title, Groups
  • Lookalike Audiences- build audiences that look like your current customers
  • Nudge people in the funnel; Email List – Institutional contacts not yet subscribed 

Audience targeting options on LinkedIn.

This isn’t a strategy that is applicable to everyone (we’re paying almost $5 per quality follower!) but for CITI, it’s been one of their best performing campaign types.  

Demos for ThalamusGME

ThalamusGME is a digital interviewing software specifically designed for application to graduate medical education (GME) training programs. 

We’ve been working with their team since March 2019 and our focus has been on running campaigns that drive more demo sign-ups on the websites. Our core channel mix includes Bing, Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn. 

Example of a LinkedIn ad.

For Thalamus, we’ve seen the most success with Sponsored Content campaigns with a “Book Demo” CTA – and similar to CITI Program, the keys to our success have been in the targeting. For Thalamus LinkedIn ads, unlike Facebook or Google, we can target Residency Coordinators and key Program Managers at specific hospitals, making this a key channel for us.

Example of LinkedIn Ads reporting.

With these particular campaigns, we’ve experimented with optimizing for demos as well as landing page views and the results are almost identical. This screengrab from the ad account is a 7 day period – the top campaign was optimized for demos and the bottom for landing page views. The landing page views campaign was slightly cheaper ($1.21 per visit vs $1.34) but the onsite metrics (time on site, pages viewed, bounce rate) were almost identical. As of now, we’re still experimenting with both optimization objectives. 

LinkedIn Lead Generation for Xendoo 

Xendoo is a small business bookkeeping and accounting service. We’ve been working with this team for over three years and testing campaigns on almost every single platform. 

For the last two years, we’ve intermittently run campaigns on LinkedIn with a variety of objectives. We promoted webinars, boosted posts for engagement, grew the follower count, and sent sponsored in-mail for more direct lead generation. 

Out of all our campaigns, one of the areas we’ve seen the best success is with Sponsored In-Mail. This can work well for B2B and SaaS if you’ve already seen success with cold email outreach or if you have a specific, well-defined list of prospects. 

LinkedIn lead gen ad example.

When it comes to Sponsored In-Mail it takes a few weeks to really find traction. We ran this particular campaign (see above) for 30 days. Here’s what the stats looked like: 

  • Spend:$500 
  • Clicks: 271
  • CPC: $1.85
  • CTR: 43.71%

The key to Sponsored In Mail, like cold email, is the message. We had tested a variety of different CTAs on the website (and in other ads) and knew that the ‘Free Consultation’ was the most popular. We honed in on Xendoo’s USP and really channeled their target audience to craft the right message, which is why the CTR was so high.  

We love experimenting on LinkedIn to get results for our clients and are excited to see the channel continue to grow. 

It’s important to note that with these three examples, the clients all have higher acceptable CACs (in the $250-500 range) with over $3k LTVs. When it comes to LinkedIn advertising, you need big budgets, higher LTV, and an acceptable CAC above $300. It’s expensive, tricky, and is an easy place to waste money, especially if you’re a bootstrapped startup. This isn’t where you want to invest a bunch of resources if you haven’t already tested on other channels. 

That said, with the right targeting and ad budgets, we’ve seen consistent results with LinkedIn.

A user scrolling Twitter on their phone.

Twitter Ads: Three Easy Tests to See If Your Startup’s Audience Is On Twitter

A user scrolling Twitter on their phone.

Should Twitter Ads be a part of your Startup’s marketing stack?

The answer: it depends. In this article we’ll get into three easy tests (two of which are free), your company can run to see if your audience is on Twitter.

Before we get started, at a very high level, we know Twitter has tens of millions of active users. There are 48.5 active monthly users in the US. As of the end of Q1 2020 there are 166 “monetizable” Twitter users worldwide — users who can be served ads, and this number is growing.

Twitter ad stats.

More importantly, however, is your audience on Twitter? The following tests will help you answer this question.

Test Prerequisites: Twitter Ad Account with Credit Card on File

In order to run these three Twitter Ads audience tests, you’ll need a Twitter Ads account with an active credit card on file. Only test 3 will actually cost you money, but Twitter requires a credit card on file to access some of the ad account functionality to run these tests.

Here’s how to create a Twitter Ad Account.

Test 1: Upload A Lead List To Twitter

Easy, right?! In this no spend test, you’ll see if and what percentage of your leads or customers have Twitter accounts.

Steps

  1. Upload a customer or lead list to your Twitter Ads Account.
  2. In your ads.Twitter.com account go to:
    Tools > Audience Manager > select ‘Create New Audience’ > select ‘Upload Your Own List’ > File types CSV TSV, or TXT
  3. Wait 2-3 Days for Twitter to Process the list. Sometimes shorter, sometimes longer. Once processing is complete, how many users are in the audience?
    1. Audience too small – Your audience was matched with fewer than 100 Twitter users. This is not a viable audience for ad delivery, and obviously your list doesn’t have a lot of Twitter users. Maybe Twitter isn’t a good fit.
    2. Audience Size Reported – Let’s say you uploaded a list of 10,000 to Twitter, and the audience size is 2,000. This means 20% of your list is on Twitter.

The question to ask then is, do I want to serve ads on a channel where 1 out of 5 of your users spend time?

Test 2: Build A Retargeting List

Similar to test one, this test is both free and a great way to see if your audience is on Twitter. Retargeting in general is serving an ad to a person who has been to your website or app, a retargeting audience are the users that make up those visitors.

Steps

  1. Add the Twitter universal website tag to your site. (How to)
  2. Then, create a web traffic based retargeting audience.How to create a Twitter ad account.
  3. Wait several days to several weeks for Twitter to associate traffic to the specified page with Twitter users.

Assessing the results:

Did you get the: AUDIENCE SIZE TOO SMALL message? If your results look like this then your site doesn’t get more than 100 users who are associated with Twitter accounts.

Twitter audience size results.

If your site has very low traffic, it doesn’t mean your users aren’t on Twitter, it just means you don’t get enough users to form a retargeting list — a list that could make an ideal audience for Twitter ads.

If your site receives thousands or tens-of-thousands of visitors a month, then this warning is a red flag that your audience does not use Twitter.

Assessing audience count:

If however, you do get an audience count back, it tells you that people who visit your site also use Twitter, and you have a retargeting audience ready to go.

Like with the list approach in Test 1, do a simple math equation to calculate the ratio of Website Visitors to Twitter Audience size. If that ratio is high, then your audience is on Twitter.

Test 3: Twitter Ads Traffic Quality Test

This third test is the only one requiring payola. Let’s send some Twitter Ad traffic to your site!

Steps

  1. Build an awesome mobile-first landing page — bonus points if this page is only used for your Twitter campaign. (See the Advanced step below).Your landing page needs to offer up a great mobile experience, because 80% of Twitter users are on mobile devices. They’re in a scrolling mode on Twitter and if you convince them to click your ad, you’ll be wasting that click (and ad spend) if the user bounces because the page doesn’t load immediately.
  2. Launch an ad campaign. For this test, we recommend optimizing the campaign for lowest cost clicks, in order to get the maximum amount of traffic to your site, traffic that will provide valuable Twitter performance data in the next step.
  3. Assess your Twitter Ads Traffic.
    1. Using Google Analytics (your ad had UTM parameters, right?!) assess the Twitter Ads traffic quality. Metrics we like to look at are:
      1. Time on site
      2. Bounce rate
      3. Pageviews
    2. Total Twitter reported ads clicks vs. Google Analytics sessions are attributed to Twitter — this important ratio lets you know if people are clicking your Twitter Ad but not making it to your site. Let’s say there’s 1,000 ad clicks, but only 600 sessions reported in Google Analytics. This is a 40% drop off from ad click to your website. Your site’s mobile performance is certainly a factor, but big drop off numbers may indicate Twitter is not a viable channel.
  4. Advanced: Are you able to retarget Twitter Ads traffic on another channel? The spirit of this step is to see if traffic from Twitter will perform better when it’s coming from another channel. Perhaps when a user visits from Twitter, their attention span is too short to act in a desirable way, so by serving them an ad on another channel there’s an opportunity to see if it’s the users or the channel that lack quality.
  5. Because you buildt a dedicated Twitter Ads landing page in step one, you’re able to create page specific retargeting audiences for Google and Facebook Ads. Core questions to ask around this test are:
    1. What happens when you retarget the Twitter landing page traffic on another channel?
    2. Does the traffic quality improve or decline?
    3. How big are the retargeting audiences, especially as a ratio to traffic received from Twitter?

By running these three tests you have a low-cost way to see if Twitter Ads should be a part of your marketing mix.

Have a question about these tests, or need help setting them up? Please give us a shout.

Facebook mobile.

[Case Study] Facebook and Instagram Ads: How to go from $0 to $43,000/day Ad Spend on Facebook in 60 Days

Facebook ads for mobile apps.

Crunch time. An App partner (iOS & Android) needed to get a massive volume of installs ASAP to support a critical holiday important for their annual revenue and new customer acquisition. 

Over 60 days we went from $0 to $43,000 per day ad spend on Facebook & Instagram. Along the way we helped the app achieve its best revenue day ever, tripled their Instagram following (a positive side effect of the massive spend, and engaging ad creative), and brought in millions in lifetime value (LTV), all while keeping cost per install (CPI) on target. 

We’ll be using “CPI” a lot in this article, so take a moment to sear its meaning into your brain before you read on. Say it with me: “CPI = Cost per Install” 

Here’s what’s included:

  • Overview
  • Campaign Setup and Results Summary
  • Days 1-30: Testing to Find Facebook Ads, Audiences, and Settings that Scale
    • Creative that Scale 
    • Audiences that Scale
    • Ads Settings that Scale
    • Tracking Troubleshooting
  • Days 31-60 The Ramp Up and Final Push
    • More testing; audiences, creative, and settings 
    • Push Budgets to Winners  
    • Event Specific Creative Push 
    • Emergency! Account Spend Limit Hit & Workaround 
    • Emergency! App Stability 
    • Final Push and Rising CPI
  • Summary 
    • Top Ads
    • Performance 
    • Final Assessment and Key Takeaways

Campaign Setup and Results Summary: 

App install campaign data from Facebook Ads.

  • The Client: iOS and Android App with in-App Purchases 
  • Primary Channel: Facebook and Instagram App Install Ads
  • Supporting Channels:
    • iOS App Store Ads 
    • Google App Install Ads 
    • Pinterest App Install Ads 
    • Email (To drive in-app purchases and user-adoption post install) 
  • The Geo: 🇺🇸
  • The Results:
    • 60 Days
    • $263,000 Spend 
    • 97,975 Installs 
    • $2.68 Cost per Install (CPI) 
    • 9.2m Facebook Reach 
    • 26.8m Facebook Impressions 
  • Best revenue day in company history 
    • Bonus Performance Metrics
      • 2.1m video views 
      • 54,000 post reactions 
      • 11,000 post shares 
      • 6,000 New Instagram followers
      • Multiple ad variations went viral 
      • Featured in the App Store

Days 1-30: Identify Facebook Audiences, Creative, and Settings that Will Scale 

After an initial planning, strategy, and goal alignment phase we jumped in. In order to protect costs and efficiency, we spent the first 30 days testing creative concepts including layout variations, and ad copy; we tested 68 audiences, and different bid optimization strategies. This section will get into what and how we tested in the first 30 days. 

Finding Creative the Scales

We went through years of creative in the Facebook Ads Manager and identified ad variations and their attributes of top past performers. We looked at metrics like click through rate (CTR), cost per install (CPI), ad quality metrics and more to identify top ads. We looked at the ads copy, creative, CTAs, and ad formats (single image, carousel, and video). 

This research revealed: 

  • Top formats: Carousel, Single Image, Video 
  • Top creative: was explanatory or had humor 
  • Top Audiences were list and event based lookalikes 

The research resulted in 12 ad concepts to be paired with the different ad formats and creative. We used existing client creative, and worked with their design team on new creative options. 

Creative testing leaned on Facebook’s algorithm to serve the ad variation that would work best. Ad sets typically had 2-6 creative variations, and the Facebook algorithm would move budget to top performers, but the Facebook Algorithm didn’t work alone. 

The Tuff team would monitor ads daily, and turn off any ad variations or ad sets that had high CPI. This would force Facebook to spend more on the other variations, which sometimes would go on to become winners.  

Audience Research

The audience investigation was similar. What audiences had the best performance metrics? Were they segmented by age, gender, or geography? Were there exclusions (users specified not to receive an ad, e.g., existing app users?) 

Though we had initial ideas on what audiences would perform well, seeing historical audience performance, gave us a running start on audience development. 

Audience targeting results on Facebook.

For early learnings we looked at Facebook Demographic reporting in the Ad Account Overview. By Looking at Mobile App Installs compared to Amount Spent, we were able to identify which demographics were likely to have the best performance. In this instance we’re looking at the ratio of mobile app installs to amount spent by age group. To note, this trend didn’t hold through the 60 day push, so it is important to continue to target all ages so opportunities for installs aren’t missed. 

Note: Audiences are selected at the Ad Set level in the Facebook Ads Manager. At times in this Facebook case study, you may hear audiences and ad sets used interchangeably. 

Generally, the Facebook campaign structure is as follows: 

Facebook ads campaign structure diagram.

In the first 30 days we tested 63 audiences, paired with a mix of creative. For our tests, we’d typically have 4-8 ad sets per campaign, and 2-6 ad variations per ad set. Over the course of the test period we would turn off underperforming ads and ad sets to push more spend to winning mixes of audiences and creative variations. 

Facebook campaign structure.

As Facebook Ads performance data came in ads and ad sets we’re turned off, signified in the chart above by “🙅‍♀️”. Only about ¼ of our ad sets survived month 1 testing, and 3 creative variations (of 12) rose as top performers. 

Days 1-30 Summary

TESTED

  • 21 Campaigns 
  • 63 Ad Sets
  • 12 Ad Variations 

RESULTS 

  • $9,821 Spend
  • 7044 Installs 
  • $1.39 CPI 
  • Three top creative variations identified 
  • 15 core audiences identified 
  • Cost-cap bid strategy identified as effective at this scale…
    …but would it last? 

Days 31-60 The Ramp Up

With top audiences, creative, and bid-strategies identified we were prepared to ramp up spend. On day 31 we had 3 campaigns live, 5 audiences, and the top three ad variations running. We spent $950 that day. From there we inched up budget at the ad set level daily, and by day 45 we hit the $2,000/day mark. 

More testing; audiences, creative, and settings

Although some audiences didn’t succeed in the 30 days, there was a chance it was due to the creative and ad settings mix. We ensured these previously tested audiences were given a chance to be paired with top creative and ad settings. 

During this period the client continued to develop new creative, and that was tested as well using the assistance of the Facebook algorithm. We also isolated some creative to guarantee Facebook spend. 

A big driving force behind this rapid Facebook Ads ad spend ramp up was a holiday important to our client’s business, and we wanted to ensure that creative specific to the holiday was served. We tested 10 holiday ad variations, and only one version took off. It would become one of our best ads for the entire 60 period, though it underperformed two non-holiday specific top ads. 

An interesting take away from the top three ads is that the event specific creative didn’t perform as well as more general app functionality ads. This may be due the holiday not being applicable to everyone who sees it. 

Facebook ad example.

Here is the top event-specific ad. It was a carousel and showcased the product offering. More on how they ad variation performed in the results and summary section. 

With top audiences and creative identified we were ready push spend way up leading up to the holiday, however, the the path to spend ramp up we encountered two speed bumps.

$5,000 Ad Account Spend Cap Hit & Workaround

Did you know Facebook has a default $5,000 ad spend cap per ad account, even on established ad accounts? That’s right! This spend cap is different from the ‘spend limit’, and can only be increased by Facebook Support. Unfortunately, support can have a several day turn around, which would be after our peak push. 

In this instance, we were able to find an immediate workaround that allowed us to keep advertising. We created new ad accounts. With each ad account having a $5,000 cap, we created 6 additional ad accounts that would take us up to the $35,000 per day in spend.

We did finally hear back from Facebook Support and get the spend limit increased, but this was a good stop gap measure to keep ads rolling. 

App Stability Issues

With this massive ramp up underway the app encountered some stability issues due to the influx of new users. This led to a temporary pause on campaigns while app capacity was addressed. 

The takeaway from this experience is that if you are undertaking a massive app install or web traffic push, have the app and website stability on your radar. How many users can your app support? Who and how will stability be addressed if there’s a crash?  

Thanks to the app’s solid team of developers, app stability issues were resolved quickly and the ramp up would continue. 

Final Push and Rising CPI

The final push up to $43,000 was made possible by attention to detail and willingness to sacrifice CPI for more spend around the important holiday.

Facebook CPI results for app installs.

As we spent more in the final days of the campaign, CPI rose as well. We followed our earlier approach of pushing budget to top ad sets and creative variations, and some of these groupings had literally hit their limit (See $5,000 account cap section above). 

The cost cap bid optimized campaigns also weren’t spending their full daily amount as Facebook struggled to find users at the cost and volume we had set forth, so most campaigns were switched to a lowest cost bid strategy, which contributed to rising CPI. Low cost bid optimization, however, increased volume and ensured campaigns would spend their set amount daily. 

Fortunately the increased CPI in this final push was acceptable because the volume of installs, and subsequent LTV supported the costs. 

Summary 

Top Three Ads:

Facebook ad results from installs.

Our top ad was a carousel. Carousels are known to do well on mobile devices, because they can be used to convey information without the bandwidth of video. This particular ad was also highly engaging and received thousands of reactions and 100s of shares over the course of the campaign. 

Facebook ad results from installs.

Our second best ad was an informal video shot on an iPhone, that shows the end product of the app (a physical card and gift). This video was paired with concise text and a headline on what the app does. The informal nature of the video may have been what made it resonate with people. 

Facebook ad results from installs.

The third best ad was event-specific, and also in the carousel format. It showcased end-products of the app, and also had the clear concise message about what the app does. Because it was event-specific, costs may have been higher, as it wasn’t relevant to everyone who saw it. All this said it was our third best ad of dozens of ad variations run over the 60 day campaign period. 

Results 

Facebook ad results for install campaigns.

Getting to $45,000/day didn’t happen right away. There was little visible activity in the first 30 days while the hard work of research, audience, and creative testing was executed. Increasing spend was only possible because of this critical foundation established early on. 

Spend peaked several days before the event this campaign was based around, after which we settled in at $1,000 – $2,000 / day spend. 

Facebook ad results for install campaigns.

Installs tracked closely with spend. This consistency was the key to our confidence as we pushed budgets up. 

Facebook ad results for install campaigns.

CPI was initially very high. To note the budgets on these learning days was very small. And CPI dropped considerably and stayed low once initial learning was complete. 

Key Takeaways to Ramp Up Spend Quickly on Facebook 

  • Test to identify top audiences, creative and settings 
  • When an audience fails, try new creative 
  • Be considerate of technical issues 
    • Is your site or app capable of the increased traffic from this kind of ramp up? 
    • Have you requested that the default $5,000/day ad spend cost cap be lifted on your Facebook ad account? 

Finally, with these principles in place, don’t be scared to push up ad spend.

Facebook has a propensity to spend what you give it especially with low cost bidding, but this spend isn’t always paired with the desired results. In this case, however, through the approach of finding audiences, creative, and ad settings that would scale, we were able to achieve a massive spend and results ramp up in a 60 day period.