Facebook, Facebook Ads, Facebook advertising, Paid Social, Social

Ignoring the Funnel: The Unlikely Facebook Ads Strategies That Work

When it comes to Facebook Ads, there are a lot of tried-and-true practices that work for obvious reasons a vast majority of the time. But then there are those exciting welcoming challenges when you follow all the usual logic for a certain campaign type and it just. won’t. work.

Sound familiar? If not, the universe has been good to you, but don’t get too comfortable because there’s probably a failing campaign with your name on it lurking somewhere in the future.

The good news is, those initially frustrating situations can turn into experiments that produce valuable insight into alternatives for your go-to Facebook Ads strategy. Here’s a recent example of how I took a failing campaign, tried something new, and ended up with great results as well as an option to test in similar scenarios going forward [panic, hair pulling, and expletives omitted].

What Usually Works

When setting up Facebook campaigns, it’s generally agreed that you should tailor your strategy to where your audience is at in the funnel, especially with cold audiences because -- let’s be honest -- nobody likes it when you come on too strong. So we often play it safe, send them to a landing page, and decide to be more forward another time.

That’s all well and good, but what if you end up with a campaign that, despite following all the best practices, is just floundering even though others like it are doing just fine? That’s exactly what happened when I started working with a client that had a particular campaign that was doing far worse than all the others.

So… Now What?

The client’s goal with Facebook Ads was to increase awareness and drive website traffic to learn more, then ultimately convert website visitors through an on-page lead generation form to “Get A Free Estimate.”  Most of the cold audience campaigns optimizing for link clicks were converting well with healthy engagement and higher CTR’s, so we figured, why not just see what happens if instead, we switch the failing campaign to optimize for conversions?

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Turns out, there are some instances when going against the common optimization method for a colder audience can help your campaigns succeed.

Tell Me More

By changing the optimization from link clicks to conversions, we saw huge results in just 10 days. The chart below shows how the campaign was performing in the first 10 days of the month prior to making the switch, with our test window from Jan 11-20 below for comparison.

facebook campaign analytics spreadsheet

We managed to increase the client’s lead volume by 1800%, while lowering cost per lead (CPL) by 94% and increasing the campaign’s conversion rate (CVR) by a whopping 2662% -- in a matter of days.

Because we started optimizing for conversions instead of clicks, we saw an anticipated CTR decrease of 23%. However, the lift in lead volume and CVR more than made up for it, along with the drastic decrease in CPL from $366 to $20. All of that, plus no drastic effects on impressions or spend.

Why such a dramatic change? When optimizing for traffic, Facebook shows your ads to the people in your target audience that are most likely to click the link to your landing page at the lowest cost, whereas a conversion setup delivers ads to people in your target audience that will drive the most website conversions. Sure, it makes perfect sense. However, it can prove beneficial to skip ahead to conversions when testing top of the funnel audiences.

What Does That Mean for Me?

Given how quickly we saw a performance increase as a result of this test, we’ve started implementing this alternative optimization tactic to cold audiences in other campaigns and are seeing improvement there as well. While CTR and engagement have also decreased in those instances, we’ve been able to achieve our goal of acquiring relevant sales leads in a much shorter time period.

While this strategy worked well for this particular client, there’s no guarantee that it will work for all others. Keep this option in your back pocket if you have underperforming campaigns -- or have a few that might be good candidates based on the trends you’re seeing. Just remember, expect to see a tradeoff in CTR and engagement with this approach, but it’s well worth the try if there’s a chance it will pay off in conversions.

Even if this exact approach isn’t one that would work for you, hopefully, it gets you thinking about ways you might find success if you’re willing to test a few theories that defy conventional wisdom.

Akvile DeFazio

As someone who lives for connecting people, bringing together consumers and brands is what Akvile DeFazio, President of AKvertise, Inc., a social media advertising agency, does best. Prior to launching AKvertise, she spent the last decade working in-house at a variety of companies, ranging from ski and snowboard e-commerce, to pet health insurance, and event marketing at Search Marketing Expo via paid search and social. As a conversion-driven marketer, Akvile is passionate about helping businesses expand their online visibility and reaching their goals. Her expertise lies in e-commerce, event marketing, mobile apps, and lead generation, by way of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest Ads. When she's offline, she enjoys exploring Central California where she, her husband, and their dog, call home. Connect with her on Twitter at @AkvileDeFazio or at AKvertise.com.