Facebook Ads

Time to Play ‘PPC Ad Copy Survivor’ : BoostCTR Review

1 Comment » Written on August 30th, 2011 by
Categories: Analytics, Copywriting, Facebook Ads, Google Adwords

About a year ago I chatted with David from Boost CTR about his new business, designed to get writers to compete in contests for their advertiser customers to see who could write the highest CTR ads.

If the writers’ ads performed better than the customer’s control ads, Boost CTR gets a small commission.  Pretty simple yet brilliant value proposition for Adwords advertisers who want to see if they can jack their CTRs, which in turn earn them higher Quality Scores and lower CPCs.

Four Challenges to BoostCTR’s Model

It’s kind of like the TV show “Survivor” for ad copy writers.  I wasn’t sure if it would fly however for four specific reasons:

  1. Would enough decent writers actually participate in the contests to get some decent results?
  2. Would said writers know enough about each advertisers’ niche to actually write effective ads?
  3. Would said writers toilet my brand by running ads that weren’t a fit or appropriate for my campaigns and my business?
  4. If I gave Adwords API access to BoostCTR would they be able to steal my campaigns and compete with me?

Add to that from an entrepreneurial standpoint: Could BoostCTR carve out a decent business even though they don’t offer soup-to-nuts campaign management, a bid management system or keyword research solutions like most of the PPC performance enhancement platforms offer, aka. “Can they make a successful business by focussing on ad performance improvement only”?

Well, it’s now a year later and their business is booming with a whack of big-name advertiser clients, so I guess so…:)

How it Works

OK, so here’s how BoostCTR works for me as advertiser:

  • First, I sign up and submit one or more ad groups for improvement.
  • After I’ve submitted at least one ad group, BoostCTR’s expert writers compete against each other to beat my best ads.
  • I only pay when BoostCTR is able to beat my current control ad. (I can track either CTR or conversions to determine the winner.)

Here’s some screenshots of the advertiser UI (Click to Enlarge):

BoostCTR dashboard screenshot

BoostCTR PPC Ad Copy Contests

 

 

From what I’ve see in Google ad copy lately, many, many PPC managers could use a hand in the ad copy department, so a bit of fresh blood writing for you can’t hurt here.  In fact, it’s not uncommon for PPC managers to split-test a few ads, then leave the best performing ad uncontested for months at a time.

Then there are active PPC managers who’ve been writing ads for the same business for years. They’re always testing new creative, but they’ve gone through all their best ideas and need a fresh perspective from somebody who’s seeing the account for the first time.

It’s kind of similar in many ways to ’99designs’ where web designers compete with their mockups to earn your business, but you only pay when you find a winner…except here we’re talking ad performance improvement.

Sounds awesome, but what about the questions I mentioned above?  Read on…

What Do You Know!? Good Writers Can Write For Anything…

So were they able to find pro writers to compete in my ad contests?  Yup, in fact I’ve heard from a few people I know quite well in the PPC biz who bang out great ads for them on the side. It turns out they now have hundreds of writers competing in the time since I originally spoke to David, their CEO/Founder.

Can they write for my niche?  Apparently so, CTR and conversion improvements on winning ads averages around 30%.  Some see bigger boosts, others smaller, but they regularly beat the control ads which is the whole point.

Check out some examples here on their “Win of the Week” blog.  (In one case they increased an ad’s CTR by 415%)

Campaign Data & Privacy

BoostCTR has thought this through pretty well and their security measures are tight. For instance, when you submit an ad group to BoostCTR only a handful of the broad search phrases are included for writers to see. No other data is included, so search volumes,CTR, and profitability are never revealed.

 

BoostCTR writers rely pretty heavily on their own research and experience, as well as any information you include in your creative brief. The brief includes any specific requests you may have for how new ads are written.

Reject Ads You Don’t Like

While I don’t have control over who writes for my account or what ads are submitted per se, I still get the final say when deciding which ads to test and which ads to reject.  The creative brief I whip up ahead of time for the writers helps prevent ad submissions that I’m not comfortable with. But even if you do get an ad I don’t like, I can reject it.

*When I reject an ad, I can also send comments back to the writer so he knows how to write better ads for me on the next round.

The Good and Bad of Crowd-Sourcing

If there is any downside to BoostCTR, it’s that you can’t choose or put a face to who writes for your contests. It is bonafide “crowd-sourcing” — an anonymous group of people who all work to improve your PPC ads. That said, the writer or writers who end up working on your ad groups may change depending on the time of day, week, and month you post new contests.

On the flip side, this lack of choice saves you time. Rather than worrying about the person writing for you, you can divert all your attention into deciding whether or not to run the ad or ads that have been submitted, which is a lot faster and easier.

And while this approach is a bit unorthodox, it’s worked well so far. BoostCTR already has a stable of “Big Name” clients including CafePress, Expedia, 99 Designs, Beach Body, and many more.

Personally I don’t care who writes it as long as it lifts myCTR and is appropriate for my campaign.  I’m looking for improved numbers vs. personality.

Who Should & Should Not Try BoostCTR

Obviously, if you’re ad spend is under $250 a month, or if your search volumes are low, then BoostCTR probably won’t be a good investment for you, try growing your traffic first.

But if PPC advertising is a big part of your marketing, and you’re spending thousands of dollars a month, you need to try it.

(NOTE:  I asked David for a trial for PPCblog readers, here’s the “ONE FREE CONTEST” Link Here They Provided)

I have to eat some crow here BTW as well.  I personally was not sure their model would pan out, but they’re kicking butt at this and have now even expanded into doing Facebook image ads, something that’s a major pain due to the fickle nature of FB CTRs and requirements for constant freshness in your ad creative.

Congrats to David and team (Now including Tom Demers formerly from Wordstream – good guy that Tom) on building a successful model by really hammering on one key pain point for advertisers: lifting conversions and CTRs with better ad copy.

Go give it a try!

 

Is There a Quality Score for Facebook Ads?

2 Comments Written on February 14th, 2011 by
Categories: Facebook Ads

Note from Geordie: The following is a guest post from Boulder CO.- based Kevin Weiner, a Facebook marketing specialist and consultant.  Kevin is one of the most talented Facebook marketers I know, and I’ve asked him to guest post on a number of “under-the-hood” Facebook Ads questions.

Does Facebook have a “quality score”?  In short, yes, but it applies more to reputation and account trust than Google’s ‘relevance’ driven quality model.

For people that run self serve ads on Facebook, the idea of having a ‘quality score’ almost seems like adding insult to injury. Simply getting ads approved consistently on Facebook is hard enough, let alone trying to keep track of some ‘account trust system’ metrics.

The good news is that a lot of the trust metrics are common sense, and it paying attention to these trust factors really can help how your accounts perform, and how much leeway they get in Facebook’s eyes. This translates into easier ad approvals, raised budget caps, and more warnings before they would consider disabling your ad account.

What Will Users Think?

The first thing to consider is whether the average Facebook user could either be upset or ticked off about the content in your ad or landing page. There really is a surprisingly large amount of people that like to complain about ad content and they will seek out internal Facebook emails and contact forms (which are not easy to find) to do so. People can also “x” out your ad, stating it’s either misleading or offensive.

If you’re getting reams of retroactive ad disapprovals then this is something you’ll to pay closer attention to.

Here’s an example of an ad that Facebook wouldn’t like:

Here’s a much safer one:

One big difference is the word “Googling.” Even though to google something is actually a word now, when people click on the ad and don’t end up seeing google anywhere, they get angry. The second ad is also much more transparent as it shows that it’s searches on MyLife.com that you’ll be able to view for your name, not Google history or logs.

As an aside, it’s no surprise that Facebook has since banned the use of “Googling” in ad text, as well as the actual MyLife offer (given the number of mislead users).

Take Email Warnings Seriously

Probably the biggest rule we play by on Facebook is if they send you any type of email warning about something specific they disike, make sure you NEVER DO IT AGAIN (or at the very least wait a long time). Facebook sends out warning emails like these to give you a second chance, so it’s something to take seriously.

Despite ongoing support to improve your ad quality, your ads continue to rank among the poorest quality in our ads system. A large number of users have expressed that your ads are “misleading” and/or “offensive”. As an effect, your advertising account is on notice. Please improve the quality of your ads within the next 14 days.

Are Your Ads Performing a Bit Too Well?

One of the most frustrating things Facebook does is actively penalize advertisers for having super high CTR ads over large demographics (.4% click-thru rate and up/500k users and up). The main reason for this is that since a much higher percentage of Facebook users are clicking on your ad, they are going to be that much stricter making sure there’s no possible way your ad could be misleading.

It’s pretty difficult for most ads to get their CTR that high, so Facebook can easily single out those ads for additional scrutiny. Finding the middle ground here between a slightly lower CTR and a higher conversion rate is difficult but often necessary.

Bottom line: For those of you that suffer from long approval times, frequent disapprovals, and low budget caps, actively working to improve your Facebook Ads’ account trust level (or ‘quality score’ if you like) will help  increase your campaign performance in direct and measurable ways.

Have a Facebook Ads question?  Post it in the comments and we’ll get Kevin to consider answering it in future posts!

Facebook Lead Generation for Local Businesses

Whether you’re a web marketing consultant for locally-based businesses, or do the marketing for your small company yourself, you need to give Facebook a serious look as a channel for quickly generating leads.  When you combine Facebook’s ability to drill deeply into any locale or language with their advanced user interest and demographic targeting, you end up with a very potent platform for reaching local customers and generating leads.

To illustrate, consider the following example.

Generating Local Business Leads During Slow Periods

Renovation contractor Jordan S. of Calgary, Alberta, Canada wanted to drive more home renovation leads during typically slower, early spring months.

When times are busier, he generates leads based on referrals and job-site advertising signage.  Facebook Ads however presented a unique opportunity to drive leads via his newly-optimized landing page and lead form.

First Things First: Landing Page Optimization

Before spending significant dollars on any kind of advertising, it’s always best to optimize your landing page and lead or sale conversion flow to ensure your site visitors aren’t led to sub-optimal pages that don’t convert.

Rather than landing visitors on his site’s homepage, Calgary contractor Sage Renovations requisitioned a customized landing page that fed their main goal:  Getting leads to contact them for estimates.

His landing page features minimal links to other pages on their site to ensure users are properly funneled through the lead process:

lp

Note for Consultants: You can launch the most fantastic Facebook Ad campaign conceivable and still fail miserably if your client’s landing page stinks.  Even if they’re reticent, pound it into them that they need a well-designed lander or contact page to have any noticeable success advertising on Facebook, Adwords, or any other PPC platform.  If they’re not willing to invest a couple hundred dollars into a single landing page to improve their chances of success, you’re going to be hard pressed to drive any value for your services.  Use this requirement as a qualifier to ensure you’re spending your time on the right clients.

Next Up: Creating a Lead Campaign with Facebook Ads

The first step in  setting up a Facebook Ads campaign is creating winning ads.

Here’s some key points when it comes to creating ads for Facebook:

  • You need to create multiple ads to ensure you find an ad that gets the best possible click-through-rat.
  • Your (110×80) image is the most important part of your ad.  It’s even more important than your headline.
  • Dark images work best at grabbing attention against Facebook’s (mostly) white user interface.
  • Be sure to read the Facebook punctuation and image guidelines to ensure your ads are approved.
  • Try using the location name you’re targeting in your ad headline and body.  i.e. (“City Name” + Keyword)

To create your ads, select the green “Create an Ad” on Facebook.com/ads:

ad create

Note: When creating your ad, be particularly careful to check your Destination URL to make sure it a) works and b) lands the user on the right page.

Next, you’ll want to set up your ad targeting options:

targeting

Be VERY careful here not to just go with the default targeting options.

The Facebook ad server will give you an idea of how many users you’re reaching with the targeting options you’ve selected.

Some notes on Facebook targeting:

  • The more granular the better.  For instance, ad performance can vary greatly between age groups, male vs. female, geographic location, relationship status and more.
  • Try creating multiple ads with the same image, headline, and body text, but vary the ages, gender, location, etc…  Yes, you’ll have a lot of ads to manage, but you’ll be able drill your targeting in more deeply, and cut low-CTR demographics where interest happens to be low.
  • Try using different keywords to further increase the relevance of your ad to users who have either used those keywords in their Facebook Newsfeed or profile description.  This will reduce the user pool overall, but more closely honed targeting means more qualified leads and higher ad click-through-rates.

Next, you’ll need to configure your bids:

pricing

  • Facebook defaults to CPC or Cost-per-Click-based bidding, which is typically the type of bid you’ll want to start with.  If you’ve got a particularly strong ad click-through-rate after running for a while on CPC bids, you can switch to CPM later, reducing your ad costs.
  • Trying to start with CPM (impressions-only bidding) will make it tough to get your ads into rotation early on.  Most other advertisers will be using CPC bids, and once Facebook’s ad server normalizes everyone’s bids across the system, you’re likely to end up without traffic.
  • You’ll also want to be careful here to ensure your budget is set at a level you’re comfortable with.  If your ad is successful early on, you could see a TON of traffic from Facebook before you realize whether or not that traffic is actually converting to leads or sales.  Often, it’s best to start with a smaller daily budget until you can get a grip on how the traffic is performing for you quality-wise.

Review Your Ads For Accuracy & Go!

With a few ad variations created, the ads will await Facebook’s reviewer approval.

Note:  Facebook can be quite slow in approving new ads, occasionally taking a day or two to review your ads.  This is normal, unfortunately you’ll just need to wait it out.

kichen1kitchen2bathroom1bathroom2

Evaluate, Tweak, Repeat…

The one thing about Facebook Ads is that its not a passive ‘set-it-and-forget-it’ system on which to advertise.  Users quickly experience ad fatigue and your ads will be lucky to run longer than a week or so before you’ll need to come up with more creatives to refresh your presence and keep your place in the ad rotation.  You’ll know it’s time to come up with fresh, tweaked ads when your CTR starts to drop precipitously.

Continually loading new ads is a particularly important requirement if you’re targeting a small, tight group of people: people that will likely be exposed to your ad multiple times (depending on the amount of competition) over a very short period of time.  Find what’s getting clicks, tweak it, keep it fresh and you’ll be able to consistently generate leads for almost any local business.