As marketers, you’ve probably been told that you have to pay to play. But how do you make the most out of what you put in? People buy from people who they know, like, and trust.Today, we’re talking to Amanda Bond, owner of Ad Strategist. She tells us how to get more results from our Facebook ads, how much to spend on ads, and how to scale the use of ads. She shares her “secret sauce” comprised of a 3-step formula that goes from engagement to purchases.
Nathan: Alright, Bond. Thank you so much for being on the podcast today.Amanda: Oh my gosh. I’m so amped up to be here and chat all the things Facebook ads with you today.Nathan: Well, I’m excited about it because we were just talking before this. Facebook ads are a pretty big deal lately especially with some of the changes going on with Facebook. Our topic is Facebook ads. I’m wondering, just to get some background on you before we really jump into the weeds here, could you tell me a little bit about ads strategist and what exactly it is that you do there.Amanda: Absolutely. I’m owner of The Ad Strategist for we help people stop guessing and finally start getting results with their Facebook Ads. Before I owned The Ad Strategist, I was actually in the trenches as a social media manager. I know all things about branding, and impressions, and social media, and the strategies behind that. But back in the day, when I was a freelancer, I really found that it was challenging to report to my clients on, “Hey, we’re getting X amount of impressions per month,” and then they’d come back and ask me, “Okay, well, how is that really affecting our bottomline?” Fast forward to The Ad Strategist, I dove head first into Facebook advertising, helping people to manage their ads to get a better ROI—a return on their investment—to really take that aspects of social media that I was focusing on before but blowing them up, amplifying them with the Facebook ads side of the equations. That’s what we do today. We do a lot of training on Facebook ads but also consulting and still on the trenches on the day-to-day because you know Facebook ads, they’re always, always changing.Nathan: That’s exactly why we wanted to talk you. You just have a plethora of experience with this. With that, let’s get into the weeds here a little bit.Amanda: Let’s do it.Nathan: Alright, Bond. Let’s say, I’m a marketer and I’m not currently using Facebook ads–let’s just start there. Why is now a good time to start?Amanda: Oh, great question. Now is the great time to start because it is going to be the most cost-effective to start Facebook advertising than at any given time in the future. Today is the cheapest day to ever start because as Facebook ads continue to rise in popularity, as it attracts more advertisers, the cost are going to continue rising. I really encourage people who want to jump in or want to get better results, to really understand what’s going on with Facebook ads in general so they can stay ahead of that growth curve, so they can stay competitive in the market as those ads cost increase; the cost to deliver those Facebook ad impressions. As they go up, if you know what’s going on, you will be a better Facebook marketer overall.Nathan: That makes perfect sense. Let’s say, we’re going to get started here, something that I’ve read from you is this idea of connect, convert, and close; that’s a framework that you’ve talked about before. I’m just wondering, for those of us who might not know and are listening in, could you share that with us, please?Amanda: Oh, absolutely. We call this framework the Strategy System. Essentially, it was birthed out of me being in the trenches, running ads for our clients, and really asking ourselves, “Why were we getting such great results versus some other advertisers?” We distilled it down and realized it was because we were constantly putting people through a customer journey. Three simple phases, which you mentioned; connect, commit, and close which is essentially branding, lead generation, and sales retargeting. Most marketers are actually only doing one of the three, sometimes they’re hitting two, but it’s very rare for Facebook marketers and advertisers to be branding people and indoctrinating them into who they are, what the brand is about, then asking for that micro-commitment in getting them into their sales process. The third phase being that sales retargeting aspect. It’s really rare to see all those three things stacked one on top of the other.Nathan: I absolutely love that. I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind, if we could jump into a little bit more on those three areas because I think, you said it really well, I see marketers maybe do one of those things well. If we could start with connect, could you share some tips or pointers on how we can start there?Amanda: Absolutely. This is actually why I love CoSchedule. It’s just the truth because in the connect phase, what you’re doing is just amplifying content. You are putting the brand out there. You’re engaging with your audience. We love your tool because we can schedule a lot of content in advance that we know will really cultivate larger audience. Fun fact: remember back in January when that Facebook apocalypse hit, when the whole news feed debacle went down. Remember that? Nathan: Oh, absolutely.Amanda: Okay. Well, the truth there is January was the public announcement of that but the changes had actually happened the year before. Back in Summer of 2017, all those changes went into effect. January was just Facebook announcing them to everyone. For everyone that went crazy because all of their engagement dropped or their reach dropped, that wasn’t actually what was happening. People essentially believed, “Oh my gosh, my content isn’t going to get reach,” and then they started behaving accordingly.When you’re using a tool like CoSchedule and you’re scheduling things out in advance, you’re analyzing what organic social media content you’re posting and how that’s performing, “Hey, is it getting likes, comments, shares, clicks? Are people DMing you on Instagram and double tapping that picture?” If that’s the case, because you’re scheduling out ahead of time, well, you’re going to get engagement, you’re going to get that reach, and the Facebook algorithm isn’t going to impact you the way that it is for other people who are like, “Oh my gosh, yesterday this algorithm changed and now everything is going crazy.”Nathan: I love that. If there’s something that I think about there, it’s that by thinking ahead and understanding that engagement side of it by proactively doing it, you’re not doing it at the last minute, you’re getting a little bit more time to really focus on creating that engaging content before you just share something.Amanda: Yes. It’s so important to actually go into your Facebook page insights. You know how they have that Facebook Page Insights that’s just your organic content and how it performs, but on the flip side, they have the Facebook Ads Insights. I’m not talking about the ads one—even though I love Facebook ads—I’m talking about really understanding how your organic content performs by looking at the page insights, by seeing what your engagement rate is for each and every post that you post on your Facebook Page.That’s so important to know especially in that connect phase because when you have a high engagement on your organic content, that’s giving you a clue that that is ideal content to amplify with Facebook ads. Like, “Hey, 10% of the people who see this post here are engaging with it.” “Oh, ding, ding, ding. Maybe I should put some spend behind it. Target in who we want to continue to see this, to warm them up to our brand, so they understand what we’re about.” And then your results can be amplified. You know it already performs organically, you put some spend behind it, “Oh,” then we’re getting those new audience members in there who then start to know, like, and trust you, so that when you do go to ask them for an email, or when you do ask them to take the next step, they’re more likely to do that in that next phase–that commit phase.Nathan: I love that. That’s a perfect segue into commit. Could you share a little bit more about that stage?Amanda: Yeah, this one’s really easy because as I said, most people are starting here–in that commit phase. The thing that we do differently when it comes to that lead generation is, we’re only targeting our warm custom audiences. If you haven’t heard that term before, a custom audience is an audience that has previously interacted with your brand. Some examples are your pixelated website traffic, your email list, your Facebook engagement audience. Remember when I said how important it is to cultivate that Facebook engagement? Well, it’s because we can turn them into a custom audience that we can then put Facebook ads in front of. Not only is it Facebook Page engagement, it’s also Instagram Business Profile engagement that is retargetable with Facebook ads, and three second video viewers on both your Facebook Page and your Instagram Business Profile. These are the only people that we’re targeting with those commit ads.We’re only doing lead gen to people who’ve already had those previous brand interactions in the connect phase. The reason is because it’s so much more cost-effective to do it. We’ve done ad spend studies of $48,000 in spend and we separated each and everyone of the custom audiences, and compared that against the cold traffic. Most Facebook advertisers are doing their lead generation to a mix of cold and warm traffic. In this study, we did that exact thing. We’ve said, “Cold traffic but then let’s create some ad sets of our email list, and our website traffic, and our page engagement, and our video viewers, anyone of those custom audiences—so those people that have had previous brand interactions—they performed 50%-100% better, a.k.a cheaper, right? That’s bananas.Nathan: Yeah, that’s insane. You know what? It makes perfect sense when you say it out loud.Amanda: But most people aren’t doing it. It leaves it wide open for people who just have that lightbulb moment of, “Oh my gosh, are you just saying, Bond, go run a few video view objective or a page post engagement objective ads to cold traffic to warm them up, to grow those custom audiences?” My answer is, “Yes.” You can do that for what? A video view these days costs a few pennies, sometimes less if you have really engaging content. Then you flip around and say, “Now that they’ve had that branding impression, we’re going to put the lead generation ad in front of them. We’re going to put the discovery call, or the webinar, or the download in front of them.” Now, those people are going to give you a higher click through rate, they’re going to take more action and it’s going to cost you a whole heck of a lot less to do it when you’re only targeting those warm custom audiences in that middle commit phase.Nathan: I love it. I absolutely love it, Bond. I think that leads into obviously I want to know about that last one, tell me about close.Amanda: Okay. Close is actually my favorite even though we talk about it last. When you go set up your Facebook ads, it’s the very first thing you do. I like to think of it like a leaky bucket. I don’t have a leaky bucket in front of me but I have a coffee cup. I’m holding it up and you have to imagine some holes in your coffee cup, a leaky coffee cup here, you got to imagine some holes in it. If you are already sending 100 people, let’s say, to your sales page and only two or three people are buying, that’s like you pouring a cupful of water into the coffee cup and letting most of it leak at the bottom. What we want to do first is patch up those holes a.k.a the close ads—those sales retargeting ads—so that for every 100 people that are coming to our sales page through every single different method whether it’s paid, organic, searched–all of the people that are coming, it’s not just 2 or 3 that are converting for every 100, it’s 5, it’s 8, it’s 12.What we want to do is say, “Hey, traffic that’s already here, let’s put some sales retargeting ads in front of them and help them make a purchase decision.” My favorite way to do this is simply just to take the main objections that you get to whatever your offer is that you’re selling. The three main objections that people write in to customer service or message you about–those three main objections, just figure out what they are and then turn them into Facebook ads to help you overcome those objections. Once people are already hitting your sales page, you’ve already paid in time and effort for those 100 people to be there, you don’t want to just convert 2 or 3. You want to help them make a decision.I always believe that it’s a little bit—not selfish, that’s not the right word—this is the word, egotistical of us to think that people read our entire sales pages or our entire product descriptions. Just take those things that people are missing, that they’re not reading in-depth, and then turn them into Facebook ads. That’s going to immediately increase that sales conversion rate which is going to give you a higher return on your ads spend, which is giving you more revenue that you can then use to fuel the rest of that framework. You can use it to grow your custom audiences and then get more people to the sales page as you go. It’s this self-fulfilling ecosystem, if you will.Nathan: I love that. Bond, just so I can get this clear, you’d recommend probably starting with the close phase which you do commit after that and then focus on connect. Is that how you do it, start from the bottom and then go up?Amanda: Absolutely. Start from the bottom, now we’re here.Nathan: Perfect. It’s really interesting because I’ve been working a lot on marketing automation stuff and we’ve actually done the same exact thing. We started with the very bottom of the funnel and we worked our way up...Amanda: Love it.Nathan: ...so that all of the traffic we would get, we’d convert more of it. That’s kind of cool.Amanda: Awesome. That’s the result that you guys are seeing as well?Nathan: Absolutely, yeah.Amanda: I love hearing that. It just excites me so much because it’s the simple mindset flip. Most people want to start with the amplifying of content or the value-add elements of things. What I really want to encourage people to do especially entrepreneurs out there, or solopreneurs, or the new freelance social media managers, is really hone in and make sure that you can sell an offer before you start spending money like crazy on your Facebook ads. Because there’s a lot of misinformation out there that says, “Build a list and then sell them something.” I think that’s backwards, I think that we should learn to sell something and then start amplifying our ads spend, and then start attracting people who are our ideal instead of the other way around.Nathan: I absolutely love that. I think that’s really good advice, Bond. It leads into a question that I’ve been thinking a lot about is—let’s say that we’ve done this and we started with close, we’ve done commit, and we’re thinking about the connect so that we can continue to grow—something that I’m wondering there is, how do you continue to fill your pipeline with new members of a target audience to really scale this sustainably?Amanda: Oh, great question. This is one that I’ve been toying around with just for fun. Doing a lot of sandboxing. The answer to that really comes down to asking yourself, “What information does an audience need to know to make a future purchase decision with us?” Really just getting clear on what it will take to make a sale in the future, what information they need, what pathway they need to go through. Once that’s decided, then you can just start experimenting and amplifying your content.I like doing it this way; I actually don’t use a lot of interest when it comes to cold interest targeting. I am a bigger believer in look alike audiences. Once you have your close sales ads rocking and purchasers are coming in, take that list of people who have already purchased your product, give it to Facebook, and say, “Go find more people, a.k.a millions of people that have similar characteristics to the people who are already purchasing from us.” Because if you do interest targeting as you try and scale, what’s going to happen is you’re just guessing. You’re just saying, “Ahh, I think that people who like CoSchedule could also like Amy Porterfield.”Now, that might be a case in some examples or they might interest entrepreneur for example. You could say, “Ooh, entrepreneur, magazine. If they like that, they’ll definitely like our product.” But the thing is, we’re just guessing. I would give Facebook that purchase information and say, “Go find people, not just with one interest similarities, but go out and get people who have different behaviors.” They’re clicking the same things, they’re visiting similar sites. It’s also tracking purchase data that they’re making on other people’s sites as well.Really, when it comes to scaling, first you need to make sure you understand the customer journey that you’re trying to get people to go through, then start with look alike audiences. Depending on what product or service you might be offering, if it is more of a mass appeal instead of a niche product, actually start experimenting with targeting broad audiences.Now, this one blew my mind the very first time I did it. I said, “Okay, let’s target women with a 10-year age span in the United States.” They’re like, “Oh my gosh, this isn’t going to perform. This is going to make my cost go dramatically.” Guess what? It was almost exactly the same to my look alike audiences which are already similar to my purchasers in terms of costs to get in front of them and acquire a customer. At that moment, my mind was blown, and it really allowed me to see the power of Facebook and all the data that they have and that they can optimize for. Really, when it comes to scaling, use the tools that are available and out there. I would say try it, try just going out to a really broad audience even if it’s a small budget, just to see how it performs. Because if you can acquire purchases, let’s say, you sell a $500 product and you can acquire a new customer in a broad, cold audience for $100, well, you could scale that all day everyday, and still be profitable as long as your margins support that.Nathan: That is awesome advice, Bond. You had mentioned that blew your mind, you are blowing my mind. I think that I have tons to learn from you and I’m definitely going to be excited to share this episode with our ads person, Rachel. She’ll really enjoy this episode. I have one more question for you, Bond before we button this up. This might even allude to some of the things that you’ve already talked about but if I were brand new to Facebook Ads, I’ve never done this before, where would you recommend I start? What are my first couple of steps to be successful here?Amanda: Okay. I might surprise you with this answer. I’m going to say, “Slow down. Pump the breaks. Don’t start Facebook advertising yet.” Before you do, there’s a number that I want you to understand in and out; and that is your earnings-per-lead. If you don’t understand what a lead is worth to your business, you don’t understand how much you can spend up to and still be profitable to attract those leads into your business. Understand what your earnings-per-lead is so that you can then reverse engineer it.Let’s say, “Hey, I have a really massive email list. It’s growing quickly but people aren’t buying yet.” “Okay, well, your earnings-per-lead might be zero or might be 25¢. It’s going to be really challenging—I’m not going to say it’s never possible—but it’s going to be really challenging for you attract somebody into the business and get them into that sales process for less than 25¢ when it comes to Facebook advertising.” If you understand that number, if whatever your product or service or brand is selling, if that offer is solid and it’s selling without Facebooks ads, then it’s time to start looking at Facebook ads.I always recommend people understand that it does take time to really hone in and understand how to get results for your specific brand. Me, who spends hundred of thousands of dollars on Facebook ads, still when working with somebody new, let’s them know, “Hey, it’s going to take 60, 90, 120 days to really start seeing the results from our Facebook ads along the way.”My piece of advice is just slow down, look at your numbers first, make sure things are selling, and then create a strategy moving people through that connect phase–the branding, into the lead generation–the commit phase, and then through sales retargeting. Once you have that all visually mapped out then you’re ready to start scaling up those Facebook ads and giving it a go.
Nathan is the Head of Content & SEO at SimpleTexting. He's a demand generation enthusiast, content marketing advocate, and team player. He enjoys spending time with family and friends, running ultra marathons, and canoeing in the Boundary Waters in Minnesota.
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