The four Facebook mistakes I made on our last campaign

Last October, I ran a marketing campaign to drive registrations to two different showcases for our company, Transition Hoops Report. I made a bunch of Facebook mistakes, rushed through some important elements and ultimately did a piss poor job.

And yet still managed to get an ROI of 359%. Or in other words, for every marketing dollar we spent we got $3.59 in revenue.

This ROI was a high side estimate (like I said, I messed up a few things including tracking at the beginning). However, even on the low end there was a minimum ROI of 144%.

The following example will walk you through how I set up the campaign and will point out all the major Facebook mistakes I made along with others. I’m hoping it will help you avoid these same mistakes so you can get more return on your investment.

The information is great for any event company that is looking for a good way to generate new leads for date and location specific events. It is especially valuable if you are wondering how to tie multiple tools together to run a seamless campaign.

Campaign Details

The Goal

Our goal was to drive registrations of new players to two different showcase camps. By new, these would be players that were not currently in our database.

These showcase camps were:

  • October 6-8 in Boise, Idaho*
  • October 20-22 in Butte, Montana*
  • Both camps were $125 per player
  • Both camps were for 9th-12th grade boys

*NOTE: these dates were Thursday – Saturday during teacher training days which meant that students were out of school. However, several players expressed that there were still scheduled football games and practices during these dates.

The set up

The company already has an email list that has been building over the last four years. This list includes players that have participated in a previous showcase, people that have signed up for free 3-day trials and people that have opted in to our newsletter through the website.

We were confident that we could generate registrations through these lists. However, our goal for this campaign was to get entirely new people to register that we had not reached in the past.

Tools I used in this campaign

The execution

I built the campaign by thinking in reverse. Let me walk you through the thought process.

We knew the players were going to be boys in the 9th-12th grade and would predominantly live within about 100 miles of the specific showcase. We also knew that the parents were the dominant decision makers and also provided the funding.

More and more showcase camps have been popping up around the northwest so we believed that parents and players would need more trust in Transition Hoops before signing up.

To develop that trust, we wanted to start building a relationship with them before asking them to register.

Our company’s expertise is in college basketball recruiting and helping families understand the recruiting process. So we decided to provide a free resource to help them with their recruiting, specifically with actions they could take in the fall. This would show that we cared about the player and were not just looking to sell them on a showcase. It would also give us time to begin building the relationship before the camps. This would be our lead magnet.

A lead magnet, if you aren’t aware, is basically where you give someone something of value in exchange for their contact information, in this case their email address.

Remember Leadpages?

A few weeks ago I published a product review on Leadpages (click the link if you want to read that review), a web based landing page tool that would collect email addresses and auto-deliver lead magnets. We paid $37 for a month of Leadpages.

We built a landing page and some pop up boxes that we added to the Transition Hoops website that would deliver our lead magnet. Initially we used one version and didn’t add any Google tracking or Facebook pixels, which are easy to add.

Mistake number one – if you aren’t tracking every part of the campaign, you won’t know what is working or not working.

At best I’m throwing money in to a black box campaign and hoping good things come out the other side.

Audience set up – a big Facebook mistake

Our campaign was split in to two target audiences:

  • Regional players: was defined as people 16-65+ years old that lived in Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Utah or Wyoming and had “college basketball” as an interest.
  • Previous page visits: was defined as people 16-65+ years old that lived in Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Utah or Wyoming and had previously visited the Transition Hoops website in the past 180 days.

*We also ran a small campaign that was nation wide (minus the states in the above audiences) to see what would happen but that information is not included here since those players would not be likely to register for a showcase in Idaho or Montana.


Using metrics can help you avoid Facebook mistakes, but they can’t tell you everything

Both ad sets led to the same landing page with the lead magnet offer.

Mistake number two – you can’t find the value of an audience when you don’t know where they came from.

The Facebook stats can tell you how an ad or ad set is doing. This is an important piece of the puzzle and you can see from the stats above that the CTR and CPC were decent.

But which audience is more valuable? Regional players or players that had previously visited our website?

By not providing a different landing page for each ad set, I had no idea which audience was ultimately converting better. With a separate landing page I could track each audience and could even get to specific emails and see where they were coming from.

Just looking at the Facebook stats is not enough. You have to go deeper.

To compound that problem, without properly using a Facebook pixel, FB couldn’t truly optimize the campaign from their end. Without knowing which audience was better, we couldn’t effectively adjust our spending.

I can hear the money going down the drain as I write this.

At least moving forward I continued to make mistakes.

The landing page

Despite the errors we had made to this point, we still managed to get a little over 1,500 visits to our landing page. As mentioned, we converted a popular template with our own images and copy in to a single page that we thought would work.

A single page.

Mistake number three – without a split tested landing page you don’t know what is good and bad about your page.

You can’t just build a single page and assume it is perfect.

No one in the history of the world has ever nailed anything on their first try.

To be clear, this extra landing page mistake is different then the mistake with the different audiences. Here, I’m talking about building two similar pages FOR THE SAME AUDIENCE but with subtle changes.

Avoid Facebook mistakes by split testing

Avoid Facebook mistakes by split testing…everything

What I should have done is split test the page’s variables and see what worked best. The image is a big factor but so is the copy and call to action. By testing a few things, I’m sure the conversion rate could have been better.

We still managed to get 64 unique emails so our conversion rate was around 4%.

Our fourth mistake

Once the user submitted their email, Leadpages would deliver the lead magnet, a basketball recruiting tip sheet.

I built it quickly and cheaply. And it showed.

Mistake number four – a poorly built or cheap looking lead magnet will kill the momentum you’ve built to this point.

While the content was very good, the look of the document, a two page .pdf with recruiting tips, was bland and boring. And I mean boring. No color. Not a single image or graphic. And way too much text.

So people went through this whole process to get a sad looking .pdf tip sheet. Yes, we got their email but we are still at the beginning of the relationship so impressions really matter.

Lead magnet delivered…now what?

At this point we could have gone for the kill. We had a qualified list of people and their email addresses that had been confirmed.

But we truly wanted to start a relationship with the player or family and build up some trust. This is something I think we actually did a good job with.

Following the download of our tip sheet, we sent out purely informational follow up emails. The lead magnet had four specific tips on improving a player’s recruitment. We then followed up with a very detailed email on each tip with more insight than the original tip sheet provided. The emails were pre-written and automated and went out every two days for 8 days.

Of the 254 follow up emails sent out (64 email address x 4 follow up emails) 123 were opened.

The fourth email included information about our showcases and presented a mild push to register. Then, a week later, we sent a sales email about the showcases.

The results

In the end we ended up with at least 2 registrations that came from completely new people that can be linked directly to this campaign. There were possibly as many as 5 registrations that were a result of this campaign but we can’t tell for sure as the tracking information from our current email provider, Constant Contact, doesn’t report the data in a way that that allows us to be conclusive.

Having spent about $174 on this campaign, the pure campaign ROI was between 144% and 359%.

Lessons learned

Track everything

Your sales funnel starts out as an idea based on your knowledge. But you have to know what is and what is not working so you can amplify the good parts and correct the bad parts. Tracking starts from the beginning and goes all the way to the sale.

Track your Facebook campaigns by correctly using a Facebook pixel. Set up landing pages for each audience and use Google analytics code to see which are the most valuable. Basically, track everything that will provide you usable feedback.

You’ll learn more about your audience and your process, making your campaign more efficient.

Split test everything

Use different landing pages for different ad sets so you can see which audience will ultimately lead to better conversion. You can do this at the ad level as well to see which ads inside an ad set are working best.

Make your lead magnet fun and easy to read to improve your future success.

Last piece of advise…keep is as simple as possible

Truthfully, no one ever runs a perfect campaign. Even when you think you’ve got it completely dialed in, things change.

There will always be a need to change things. The tweaking will never end. Which is one reason why you have to keep things simple.

Set up your tracking and testing so that you can quickly see what is going on and make changes. The effort should be in making your campaigns better, not in the changes themselves. Don’t make the mistake of over doing and over complicating things.

Believe me, I’ve made enough mistakes already.