The best Facebook ads perform as a result of three factors. And, the ads themselves are sometimes the least important.
That’s true across all marketing … more so for ecommerce brands growing their business through paid social media.
To be sure, effective Facebook advertising is about video ads versus stills, carousel ads versus dynamic product ad (DPAs). Placement options matter too: Facebook news feed versus Instagram; Stories versus Messenger. Likewise with targeting and remarketing options to address the right audience.
Still, none of that is as important as the offer, the experience, and LTV (what we like to call your cash multiplier or payback window).
So, it’s not surprising that when it comes to increasing spend while maintaining — even improving — results, our most recent wins didn’t hinge on those elements listed above.
Instead, here’s exactly how we improved performance 250% in less than two weeks with three steps:
Disclosure: The account featured in this article — Bambu Earth — is owned by 4x400, Common Thread Collective’s holding company that acquires, operates, and scales ecommerce brands.
Let’s start with the problem …
The other day, I tweeted a graph showing volatile, declining customer acquisition for our DTC beauty retailer, Bambu Earth.
Amidst the impact of coronavirus, we’d decided to shelf our aggressive acquisition goals and instead focus on weathering the storm as profitably as possible.
In fact, here’s what I told our investors in an email from about four weeks ago: “We’ve reduced ad spend, aimed at better marketing efficiency overall, and have prioritized profit while we seek to fix customer acquisition in the longer term.”
Then, something extraordinary started to happen the week of Mar. 9th:
For an even more detailed breakdown, listen to my most recent episode of The Ecommerce Playbook Podcast.
But, there are a few key elements where I thought visuals and step-by-step written explanations might make good sense. First things first …
The idea here is to heed Taylor Holiday’s current refrain to “message the moment” by recognizing that our customers are inside a lot, with less need to wear makeup than usual.
Switching to skincare made with such ruthless attention to clean ingredients like Bambu Earth can cause some short-term breakouts as your skin purges the harsh chemicals you were using before.
So, what better time than this moment to try it? Enter the “6-Week Skin Detox” …
For the product, we chose our Complete Skincare Collection with all of its normal offer components:
Why that collection? Because it checks all the right boxes for a great offer:
🚀 High AOV
🚀 Above average margins
🚀 Strong customer lifetime value
🚀 Exceptional customer experience (thus the LTV)
Focusing on this product was not an accident!.
In the midst of a range of new ads across our products, the offer was brought to life on a standalone landing page. A few features of that lander are critical …
I think of headlines as doing the work of a thesis statement in your old-school five-paragraph-essay construction.
It’s one key sentence from which everything else flows.
Clicking the first call-to-action (CTA) sends the visitor to the product section on the bottom: “Buy Now.”
This lets us pack the page with:
… without forcing motivated shoppers to scroll through it all themselves.
It also reduces cart and checkout abandonment, which typically skyrockets with “Buy Now” buttons placed too soon in the purchase process — especially for high AOV products.
Every visitor gets exactly what they want: plenty of information for hesitant shoppers … a fast-track for those ready to buy.
One of the first, easiest tests we’ll try will be to have that button skip the cart and take the customer straight to checkout:
That brings up what’s really the most crucial part …
You might not have noticed, but the URL for that page is:
The secret is the number.
Once we established the offer and created the first landing page … for each variation, we simply duplicate the lander and change the number appended to the back of the URL.
No CRO tools required, seriously.
Instead — with each new lander — you take a winning ad, duplicate it, and change the destination URL … then let the two ads run against each other right there in the ad account.
This method lets you either:
It’s a simple process that makes life much, much, much easier for entrepreneurs and media buyers who want to play with different landers on any ad platform in the world.
The process works just as well in your Google Search Ads as it does in Display Remarketing ads as it does in [Insert Any Other Ad Platform In The World Here].
Eventually, we’ll end up with a ton of variations — and some proven winners — at both the ad and lander levels.
We started with the following three ads all to V1 of the lander.
Those ad images were already existing assets. They’d worked elsewhere, so we changed the headline to reflect the angle as a starting place. That was the easiest thing to test the fastest.
Lander iteration with early winners were implemented next.
At the ad level, I still believe everything I wrote in this thread:
The goal of an ad is to generate attention and interest first, then follow up with information.
(1/22) How To Create Winning Facebook Ad Creative: A Thread— Andrew Faris (@andrewjfaris) December 28, 2019
The below includes:
- my basic theory of how to win on Facebook Ads
- inspiration from the all-time great advertisers
- summary of why those ads work
- examples of how we're doing this
The headline, ad copy, image copy, and stills generate attention and interest. The landing page’s job is to amp up desire and drive action.
The next ads we created, again, we didn’t really “create.”
Instead, they too were built around existing assets and all we did was add AfterPay to the stills and optimize them for ad placements on Instagram and Instagram Stories.
We’ve also released multiple variations of a totally different ad approach — with the same offer and the same lander. The latest round uses video ads that we modified slightly to combine info in the video with the lander as well as see what effect UGC would make on performance:
On the podcast, I talked about the first $5k we’d spent being successful. We’ve now spent about $13k, all Prospecting, at a 1.29 click-only ROAS.
Not that great, right? Wrong.
Bambu Earth gets big delayed attribution. Typically our DAM (delayed-attribution multiplier) is ~60%, essentially a 1.6x on ROAS.
Which is to say, that number will get much better. Back of the napkin math puts ROAS around 1.8, click-only, while we scale more.
That’s also just one part of a strategy that has seen us nearly 2.5x our daily ad spend while improving our total ROAS ~20%.
Using 1-day click ROAS (to eliminate the influence of delayed attribution), total account performance looks like this:
And, that last set includes the most recent one-day results of +$6.2k spend at 1.55 ROAS. In other words …
Those ads are spending more and getting more efficient simultaneously.
Thus a “250%” improvement probably understates the outcome, since volume and efficiency have an inverse relationship in digital ads.
We’re actively taking as thin of a margin as possible. Volume is the crucial thing. Why?
Because this chart is our returning customer revenue, by week, since we started really pushing last year.
Honestly, even that chart hides how enormously profitable new customers are for Bambu Earth thanks to customer lifetime value.
Month-over-month returning customers bring LTV’s power front and center:
We’re highly confident that our customers will come back (especially on this product). Volume at the top of the funnel has massive long term value.
Plus, there’s yet one more reason for optimism.
We’re in the earliest stages of developing this funnel. That means current ROAS is heavily influenced by the poorest-performing ads, which are already phasing out.
We’re only on V2 of the lander — lots of variations yet to come.
An article, tweetstorm, and podcast all coming from me about some moment of massive success could make me look like I’m the marketing hero here.
But that’s not reality.
Kohlman Verheyen, Vincent Wu, Amber Hawthorne, Robbie Aronson, and Chris Johnston did the heavy lifting.
My own role as CEO was to push us to try something different and offer an opinion or two along the way.
Pick whatever strategy you want: you only really win with great teams.
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Andrew is the CEO of 4x400, Common Thread Collective’s holding company that acquires, launches, and scales ecommerce brands. Over the last year, he’s helped lead three of 4x400’s brands to over 400% YoY growth. If you’d like to connect with Andrew about all things DTC, reach out via Twitter or LinkedIn.