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Today’s post is by Sean Quadlin, an Account Manager at Hanapin Marketing and a writer for PPCHero.com. When he’s not at the office eating free granola bars, you can find him in the company of his beloved TiVo.
So there’s this term in chemistry called supersaturation: it’s when a chemical solution has more of that chemical dissolved into it than should be possible. Either temperature or pressure has been adjusted to allow the above standard levels. (You’ve probably heard all about this, as you’re reading FBPPC and thereby super-smart.) If you change the temperature or pressure too much, the solution will crystallize.
What brought this to my mind was a Facebook account that I inherited a while back. It had more broad categories targeted within the same campaign/ad than I really thought possible. It was overloaded with targeting that was all over the map, all on the same ad. And this wasn’t really a product with broad appeal – it was an expensive service that catered to a niche market within its somewhat niche industry. Yet it was targeting so many different things. So many different things.
The craziest part was that it worked. Not only was its CPL well below goal (beating both AdWords and Bing by a comfortable margin), its back-end return was also profitable for my client. Leads that came in were interested in the product and late in the sales funnel. As I optimized the account, I would always tiptoe around this campaign, keeping a close eye on CPL but making sure not to touch anything major for fear that the magic would wear off.
And then all of a sudden it did. In a big way.
I had gotten so used to that campaign working that I was caught off-guard. Its terrible structure and wonderful performance had lulled me to sleep, and there was a week there that I was convinced there was something wrong with the lead tracking system (instead of one of the worst-targeted campaigns known to man). Where were all of my precious leads from that campaign? That’s right, they’d crystalized from glorious supersaturated solution into a brick of sadness and wasted money.
And there were stakes here, too: my client had a limited budget, and while they wanted a presence on Facebook they could have easily just shifted that money into a different engine. I had to act quickly to restore the lead flow from Facebook. The good news is that there were so many action items to take. Segmentation? More targeted ad copy? Maybe even precise interest targeting over 10 or so broad categories? I’ve actually heard anthropomorphized low-hanging fruit near my office refer to this campaign and its necessary changes as an example of something that was easy to get.
My action items were pretty simple:
-Spin some of the more targeted broad categories into their own campaigns
-Break out some of the tangential categories into ads that targeted precise interests within them instead (like going from “Autos” to “Chevrolet”)
-Ad text and accompanying images that actually make use of the hyper-specific targeting
-Geographic breakdown (via Google Analytics and Responder Demographics reports) to look for any outliers (for some reason, Alabama was clicking like crazy but not converting)
So, as you can guess, the changes worked.
The action items that I took were just quick and easy wins, but the point of this anecdote goes beyond that.
Lots of advertisers got into Facebook a while back and could be resting on old campaigns and their past performance. When something goes wrong, they could place blame on the recent changes that Facebook’s been going through (which are pretty much unending) and write off the engine as a whole. It isn’t Facebook’s fault that your ads stopped converting. It could be that you have to work a bit harder to succeed. There are more options, and they’re getting more detailed (and exciting) all the time.
If you have a supersaturated campaign from the old days that’s still working, good for you. I hope you’re thinking about it nervously as you attempt to go to sleep at night and hoping for even more good luck. Be ready for that good luck to end, and be ready to spring into action right away.
Over time I’ve been rebuilding confidence in Facebook for my client as we adjust to the new normal. We still haven’t taken the plunge into the next great thing (FBX), but now I can always point to this little episode and remind them why it’s imperative that we stay up to date on all of Facebook’s offerings. Luckily for us, we’ve got FBPPC to help avoid any future painful crystallizations of sadness.
– Sean Quadlin