What would it mean for your business if you could spend $1 and make back $9?
Too good to be true? A pipe-dream?
These are the results we have been getting with Facebook ads in combination with AdEspresso and our C.O.M.B technique over the past 11 months. On average, for every dollar we spend on Facebook ads, we generate $9 in sales.
Have you been struggling to get a positive return on your ad spend?
Do you have high CTR but low conversions?
Are you tired of pouring hours into targeting a “good” audience but still seeing red on your bottom line after you hit publish?
If you haven’t been successful yet, you probably have a few pieces of the Facebook Ad puzzle correct, but you’re still missing the big picture…
Before I spill the secrets, let me ask you this: have you ever gone grocery shopping on an empty stomach? I’ve made the mistake a few times, and the result is always the same…
You walk in and a delicious mix of rosemary, roasted garlic and a sweet hint of honey BBQ sauce greets you at the door. The seductive scent kicks you in your hungry tummy, much like a loving donkey would.
Stomach grumbling, mouth salivating, you start your grocery shopping and unconsciously follow your nose to the back of the store where they are keeping them—the roasting chickens.
The fire of the roaster dances in your eye as you approach the free samples at the counter. You’re no longer asking yourself, “should I have chicken for dinner?” But rather, “which flavor should I get?”
The employee at the counter asks if you’d like a side of grilled vegetables and graciously points out the fresh French bread on sale. Now you can see yourself eating the entire meal in your mind.
As a marketer, I know EXACTLY what the grocery store is doing…and I like it.
The goal as a Facebook advertiser is is to create and design ads leading the potential customer down a path to turn them into a conversion once they hit your website. Much like the grocery store is doing with the roasting chickens…
How We Cracked Facebook and How You Can Too
Our technique with Facebook ads is to C.O.M.B. through the billions of users to find people who are interested in our products and get them into our funnel to turn them into customers. These are the four steps in our approach:
- (C)hoose – Decide on a specific goal to accomplish.
- (O)rchestrate – Brainstorm copy, images and an audience you want to test and create the ads
- (M)odify – Analyze the data to hone down on the winning ads, modify and gather more data
- (B)ackend – Optimize our website to convert on what was promised in the ad.
AdEspresso is instrumental in our success for Steps 2 & 3 by allowing us to quickly build, deploy and run through several iterations of different Facebook Ad campaigns to find the optimum combination of the following to reach the goal of the ad:
- Copy – headlines, ad text and images
- Type – newsfeed, sidebar, carousel, etc.
- Audience – country, precise interests, age/gender, etc.
The reason our ads work as well as they do is because we have a sophisticated funnel including many steps, many entry points, and many products at different price points.
Instead of having raw chicken sitting on a counter and hoping people come by, we add a deliciously permeating scent, fresh French bread, and a side dish to really lead the visitor down a path, which ends with them as a customer.
This complexity allows us to continually generate new leads, nurture those leads, and then use retargeting to convert those interested leads into paid customers and raving fans when they are ready.
Remove any piece of the funnel and our whole ad campaign would struggle.
I will be going through each of the C.O.M.B. steps above and sharing specific ad examples and results to show how Thrive has been able to generate a ROI of 9x from Facebook ads over the past 11 months using AdEspresso in combination with this technique.
Step 1: (C)hoose
Our strategy is to create a funnel allowing us to build an audience we can then run retargeting ads on.
The first step is building an audience, which we do by offering free products in exchange for email signups. This is how we build our mailing list AND the retargeting audience.
When you break this down there are two product types (free and paid) and two audiences:
- Targeted & Cold – People who have never visited our website before, but are likely to be interested in our product based on their other interests and demographics
- Retargeted – People who have been to our website before
When designing ad campaigns we need to choose the goal of our ads: lead generation (i.e. building our mailing list) or product sale and then deliver the ad to the most effective audience.
For lead gen, we have had the most success serving ads promoting a free product to a targeted cold audience.
For a product sale, we have had the most success serving ads promoting the paid product to a retargeted audience.
Serving ads promoting a free product to a retargeted audience is counter productive since you should already have their e-mail address and can market educational/rapport building material in much cheaper ways besides Facebook ads.
Serving ads promoting a paid product to a targeted cold audience is a bit trickier to make profitable and largely depends on the price of the product and your backend. As an example, here’s results from an Ad Campaign we ran to both targeted cold traffic and retargeted traffic before a price increase of our paid products.
Again, our overall goal with Facebook ads is to build a funnel starting with lead gen to find interest and then use retargeting to sell the interested visitor something.
Choosing a specific goal for our ads is important because it paves the way for the ad. The goal determines what the ad will say, how it will say it, and where the visitor will be sent if they find the ad appealing enough to click.
Step 2: (O)rchestrate
Once we have decided on a goal and direction for our ads the brainstorming about how and what to test begins.
In the following example, our goal was to gather more leads for our product: Thrive Landing Pages. To do this, we created ads to promote a free mini-course on how to build better landing pages.
We wanted to test what type of message would result in higher conversions. To do this, 3 different ad campaigns (macro) were created in AdEspresso to test 3 different messages:
- Speed – Build your landing pages faster after you take our mini-course
- Sell – Make more money/Sell more by building better landing pages with our mini-course
- Learn – Learn tips on how to make the best landing pages with our mini-course
Then variations for each individual ad campaign (micro) were created. For the Learn Campaign we brainstormed:
- 3 different headlines around the message of learning
- 3 different ad texts around the message of learning
- 3 different images around the message of learning
Note: this was also done for the Speed and Sell campaigns
AdEspresso then generated the 81 different possible ad combinations across 3 different ad campaigns to publish on Facebook (normally we’d have to create each of the 81 variations ourselves, so this is a HUGE time saver).
This creation of the different possible combinations is why we separated our macro testing across three different ad campaigns. We don’t want a headline on selling to get mixed up with an image focused on learning.
This is powerful stuff, not only does AdEspresso allow for cross campaign comparisons (macro)—allowing the testing of large differences, but it also permits testing within an ad campaign (micro)—resulting in optimization of a specific message.
So, with AdEspresso, we were able to easily test which overall message worked best with our audience (speed vs. sell vs. learn) as well as finding the best image/headline/ad text combo within each of the different messages.
Here are some results:
We found the message of selling didn’t perform as well as the messages of speed and learning:
And we found the image on the bottom had a much better conversion rate within the learn campaign:
Here are some ideas on what you can test to get you started:
Step 3: (M)odify
The next step is to gather and analyze the data from our testing and start trimming away the fat.
AdEspresso does a great job of accumulating the important data in one place – it pauses ineffective ads, and continues to show Facebook users the winners.
The Facebook algorithm has a bias towards high engagement posts. What does this mean for you? It’s important to check the data AdEspresso provides when deciding to pause an ad or to gather more data to make a statistically relevant decision.
Here’s an example of an image test where I’d pause any ad with the image on the right from showing:
And here’s an example of ad text where results are still too close to call.
The total difference in CTR is only 0.013 percentage points, which is tiny AND the total number of generated leads is 85, a number small enough where random variations can still make a proportionally big difference.
So, I’d leave the test running to acquire more data:
Once we have gathered enough data, the ad campaigns are trimmed down to the winning ad combinations and left running.
The successful ads usually have high engagement, giving them a boost from Facebook’s algorithm and great social proof for people who are still on the fence about signing up or becoming a customer.
Now, we can take what works and continue to hone in and optimize further. One option is to rinse and repeat step 2, by taking what was learned and trying to get better results by generating new copy and new images or getting more specific with the targeting options.
Another option is to take what works and experiment across the different ad types Facebook offers.
For example, testing newsfeed ads against sidebar ads. Here our goal was to sell more of one of our most popular products: Thrive Content Builder (TCB).
To do this, we created ads to promote the product and only showed the ads to a retargeted audience—people who had visited the TCB sales page, but hadn’t bought the product yet.
As you can see, the sidebar ads were extremely successful from a ROI point of view, and we think this has to do with the fact the person seeing these sidebar ads has already shown interest in our product and the sidebar ad is a very inexpensive and unobtrusive way to remind them about our products and turn them into customers.
All of the results I have showed you thus far ultimately hinge on the experience the Facebook user has after they click our ad. The more optimized this experience is, the more success we have with our optimized Facebook ads, because the visitor is more likely to take the action we want.
Step 4: The (B)ackend
One of the largest factors in our success with AdEspresso is the company and website behind the ads.
In general, the more established the company is, the more leeway you’re going to have with the ads and the higher chance of success you’ll have. This is because you can create a sophisticated funnel including many steps, many entry points, and many products at different price points.
Multiple Products With Multiple Price Points
Each of our individual products has multiple price points depending on your level of need, we also offer a reoccurring paid membership to give access to all of our products. There are also multiple free mini-courses and info products available when you opt-in to our email list, and tons of free content in the way of blog posts and our knowledge base.
The benefit of all of this is the huge opportunity to build rapport with our potential customers through free content, turn them into a customer for a particular product helping them solve a particular problem they are having. Continue the rapport building with amazing support and showing them we make one of the best products on the market.
Here’s a potential scenario:
Someone might initially sign up for a free product, but not trust us enough to make a purchase yet. Now, two factors come into play:
- They get follow-up emails with free content, they can explore our blog and our free products. They get to know us and they get a ton of value from us.
- When they’re on FB, they keep seeing our ads (retargeted) and the longer they’ve been in our prospect audience, the more familiar they become with our brand and the more positive the feelings they have towards us.
At some point, it becomes a no-brainer to buy from us, so all it takes is a little nudge (e.g. a sidebar ad for a product we KNOW they are interested in).
This turns the customer into a die hard fan and hopefully upsells them to join our membership.
Dedicated Sales & Landing Pages Focused on Conversions
No ad we run ever goes to our website homepage. It either goes to a dedicated landing page if the ad is for an opt-in offer or it goes to a sales page if the ad’s goal is to sell a particular product.
The more congruent to the ad the page the visitor lands on, the less chance there is of the visitor bouncing. The page is then designed to get the visitor to take a specific action through informational videos, testimonials, and calls to action.
This ensures a potential lead isn’t confused on what to do after they click an ad. The less friction the better chance we have at them taking the desired action.
If you’d like to discover how to rapidly build & deploy landing pages to increase your Facebook ad conversions, you can take our free video mini-course by clicking here.
This is what all of the ad optimization comes down to. It all falls apart if there’s not a high-quality product our customer is happy to give us their money for at the end of the funnel.
Our goal is to make good on all of the promises from our sales videos, landing pages and ads and make the customer feel good about their investment. If we can accomplish this, there’s no reason why they won’t continue to buy from us in the future.
If you promise them the moon and deliver a polished turd you will make some money, but it will be short-lived.
COMBing Your Own Chicken
As you go through this process for your own online business, remember the roasted chickens in the grocery store. You want to create a sophisticated funnel similar to that experience.
- The seductive smell – Showing the right, optimized ads to the right people.
- Free “try before you buy” samples – Free reports, mini-courses and great blog content.
- Different flavors – Multiple products and offers on the site.
- Something for everyone’s budget – Different price points and subscription offers.
- Fresh bread and savory wine nearby – Upsells and cross-promotions to people who become customers.
To maximize your results you should set clear goals for your ads, organize and run effective and informational testing to learn about your audience and what they respond to, continually test to hone in and serve the most effective messages and then make sure you give your visitor what you promised.
Guest post by David Danzeiser: When Dave isn’t enjoying his role on the marketing team at Thrive Themes, you can find him at The Quest For Awesome, traveling the world out of carry-on luggage—he has been living on the road like this since the end of 2012.