10 takeaways from running Facebook ads for 18 months

The net value of campaigns we have managed crossed $1,000,000 last quarter.

This is Facebook. So how do you target your relevant customers?
  1. Paid digital marketing is considered a standalone activity most of the time, and not hand-in-hand with organic social media growth and organic growth of other digital channels.
  2. Paid digital marketing is measured on its own, and not alongside organic channels. What I want to know is how much consumers are being acquired via each channel, and what is my roadmap to increase the % contribution of organic acquisitions as compared to paid acquisitions while maintaining the momentum on net number of consumers acquired.

FIRST OF ALL, FACEBOOK ADS WORK. AND THEY DO YIELD QUALITY RESULTS.

Talk to 10 startup founders, and you would have heard a good number of complaints on how much they have spent on Facebook for next to no results. Makes one feel as if Facebook is fleecing businesses. Nothing could be further from the truth. After having conceptualised and executed countless Facebook campaigns, I can tell you that Facebook ads do work.

Facebook ads bring in amazing results — in terms of numbers as well as RoI

First of all, understand this — Facebook ads are just a type of content, so for all intents and purposes, it is content marketing. The same basic concepts of content marketing are applicable here as well. And just as it is with any form of marketing, having a sound and strong, robust strategy is fundamental in ensuring that you see amazing results.

Let’s begin?

#1. BE CONSISTENT, ROCKSTARS! CONSISTENCY IS YOUR FRIEND.

As I said, Facebook ads are just another form of content, and as it is with any form of content marketing, you have got to be consistent as fuck!

If you are using a product image in the banner, then the landing page (product list page) needs to have that product in the first row itself — preferably in the first 3 products.

Why? His logic was simple. If a consumer is clicking on that ad, there is a high probability that the style appealed to him/her. He didn’t want them feeling disgruntled on not finding the product, or because finding the product required a lot of effort.

#2. YOU NEED TO DATE FACEBOOK’S AD PLATFORM.

The friends you introduced me to today know more about me than you.

My girlfriend at the time said that to me one day. And she was right. Beyond the fact that I loved her thought process and spending time with her, I knew little about her past. In my defence, I am militantly private about my life, and so I tend not to pry into the lives of others as well. I would have loved to know as much about her as she allowed me to or shared with me, but I would not ask any questions myself — if any. And that’s a terrible way to have a relationship.

  1. What exactly is a bid strategy? What are the different kinds of bid strategy you could be opting for? Which bid strategy should you use for your campaign, and on what basis should you be making that decision?
  2. How do you define your target audience? What are the questions you need to ask yourself before you start defining your target audience?
  3. What kind of optimisation methods should you be exploring for an effective ad campaign?
  4. What different kinds of targeting approaches are available to you?
  5. How are the different kinds of ad placement options available to you? How are these different ad placements aligned to different objectives your business may have?
  6. What is the difference between reach and efficient reach?

#3. ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOT GOLD

If you have read some of my previous stories and/or Quora answers, you would know that I always advise staying away from vanity metrics — for every aspect of your business. It is no different for Facebook ads.

#4. START SMALL, AND THEN SPREAD YOUR WINGS.

This is one of the most frequent mistakes I have seen marketers make when running Facebook ad campaigns. They will start with the “allocated budget” — the amount that they are looking to spend on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. That is one of the biggest mistakes you could make. It puts your ad at the risk of performing badly, getting lower relevance scores, lower frequencies, getting costlier. All in all, a complete and utter disaster.

Always start your ads with as low a budget as possible, and keep on optimising to get to a healthy CPA before you decide to pump up your ad spend.

Surprise: This can also potentially make your ads much cheaper as compared to the rates you would be paying via your normal strategy.

Yep. Ads with healthy history of good engagement are made cheaper by Facebook.

So, start small, and focus on improving the “worthiness” of your ads. Starting with a small budget helps you save a bulk of your overall marketing budget for the time when you have reached the level of optimisation you were looking for. This also drives down the cost of experimentation and playing around at your end with different targeting parameters to reach the sweet spot.

#5. DON’T SPREAD YOUR WINGS TOO FAST

Just because you have achieved a sweet spot with the conversion rates and CPA, it can be tempting enough to go all-in, in an effort to cash out as much as possible on the low CPA you have been able to achieve.

#6. IT COSTED MY FRIEND’S STARTUP $5,000 TO GET THESE MANY RESULTS

Don’t be that guy.

There doesn’t exist a formula to calculate how much your Facebook ads should cost you.

My friends constantly ask me how much they would need to spend on Facebook ads for them to get their business to a certain point. Well, I honestly can’t say. It varies a lot. Depending on which segment you are operating in, what is your target audience, what is your bidding strategy, what kind of brand-tone does your business have, and most importantly — what kinds of effort are you putting in on different marketing channels.

Sidenote: This was actually one of the main reasons for starting 'growth partners'. It is easy for me to pick up any one marketing channel for your business and drive the results that could make you happy in the short-term. But, in order to facilitate real growth and long-term benefits, it is absolutely imperative that your different marketing channels work in tandem with each other, follow the same macro-strategy, and work towards that one goal - largely following the same guiding philosophies and principles.Our business does exactly that. By more or less taking over the entire marketing function of the businesses we work with, we ensure that we would do everything that needs to be done to facilitate "growth of the business"; achieving short-term goals or 'acquiring 50,000 users for your product' has never been the kind of targets we have ever set for ourselves. And it never will.

#7. BE PATIENT, CATERPILLAR

If I were to compare all the campaigns we have run in the past 18 months, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that some of the best performing campaigns had a fairly poor start. Campaigns typically need a few days before they start delivering the results they are capable of, and it is from that point that the whole exercise of improving further on it starts.

#8. DON’T BID BLINDLY, OR JUST BY THE MINIMUM NUMBER

Advertising is expensive, it is a well established fact. You are competing with a large number of brands to reach out to the same small segment of consumers out there, so it is natural that the cost per conversion keeps on going higher and higher. Now there are a few points which I think you should remember here:

  • No matter how much you are willing to pay, there will always be someone who is willing to pay more. Outbidding is a “no winners” strategy. There will always be someone with much deeper coffers than you. Obviously when such a scenario comes, you will end up paying higher than usual on your CPAs, but that doesn’t mean you should actively look at participating in that game.
  • If you are on a budget, steer clear of high traffic events on the calendar. Irrespective of your geography, there always exist some dates on the calendar when businesses (specially retailers) are looking to drive up sales — Think Black Friday in US, Diwali in India, Christmas in most of the world. If you are concerned about your average cost on conversions, I would advise completely flaking out on such time-windows.
  • Track your ad performances, and be willing to fluctuate your bids. For obvious reasons, nothing beats getting the desired results for as low a cost as possible. So start bidding low, but do keep an eye out on the performance of the ads (use Delivery Insights). Make necessary adjustments — both up and down — as and when required.

#9. THINK CAREFULLY ON WHO YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE SHOULD BE

I met the founder of a F&B startup recently. “What’s your target audience?” — “People in the age group of 18–35

  • Our customers were clustered in a small geographical area — both in terms of their residences as well as workplaces. Helped us keep the logistics cost low as well as better word-of-mouth effect.
  • Why preferably of a certain body type? Well, as shallow as it may seem, it helped us in keeping the number of items in our inventory low. It was a business decision, and I took the call to start small — with just enough inventory that helped us cater to a wider percentage of the audience.

#10. EXPERIMENT, OPTIMIZE, EXPERIMENT, OPTIMIZE….

First of all, you can either optimise your campaigns yourself, or use any of the free/paid tools available. But you do need to continue optimising your campaigns.


Also. In case your brand is looking for a ‘growth partner’, give us a shout. We would be happy to talk more. Drop me a mail - mail@abyshake.com

That’s it for today. See you tomorrow!

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Helping businesses grow 10x faster, and scale efficiently. Top Writer — Quora, Medium. Drop in a line if you’d like help with yours. mail@abyshake.com