If you run any site with a large audience, it’s easy to fall into the trap of producing just any old content and forgetting why people followed you in the first place. Though what I’m about to share in this post is going to be highly focused on paid traffic, there are a large number of insights for those who have no interest in doing the same.
I’ve always thought that it is better to master one main traffic source versus becoming only fairly proficient in a lot of them and for now I think I have a pretty perfect grasp on the old SEO game. In all honesty, I’ve never really given paid traffic (and specifically PPC) too much thought throughout my years of experimenting online. That changed recently when I met up with some friends in Bangkok who are making more money than any blogger income reports you’ve seen. I have no desire to enter the same industries as them, but I have the spare cash to put into an experiment, so I thought “why not”.
I just want to make a few things clear before I start:
Before I did anything, I joined a forum called Stack That Money. It’s a forum my friends in question used to be a part of and I thought that if I could speed up my learning, I would also be able to speed up the results I get and it would make for a better case study.
I remember when a friend of mine paid $5,000 for just a few hours of coaching to a fairly famous internet marketer. I thought he was crazy and should really be learning the basics first as he had never even built a website before. Last I heard he’s now doing $20K+ per month and would probably regard it as one of his better decisions in life.
The forum is far cheaper than that at $99/m, and is full of some interesting characters. I approached the investment as “I’ll spend this $99, devour every interesting thread I can, and then plan my attack.”
I had originally announced that I was going to use Google Adwords for this campaign and I was going to promote two websites I already run. This means I didn’t have to worry about looking for offers and getting set-up with various affiliate networks, which can be a time consuming part of the process. Being on Stack That Money however also convinced me to give Facebook advertising a try as well. I’ve dabbled in it quite a lot in the past, and do actually like their platform.
What’s different about this forum is that people are making serious bank, and actually getting into a lot of detail about how they’re actually generating crazy incomes. Who couldn’t be inspired by this list of topics?
I know I’m going to continue with my membership as well, purely because PPC campaigns are fair easier to duplicate than a profitable blog or SEO campaign. You just find the offer, get a traffic source, and test test test. This is also a downside of PPC as your unique angles can easily be stolen, but it’s great when you’re just starting out.
Being totally honest: People are not going to say I’m using this offer, with this traffic source, and this is how I’m bidding. But they are going to tell you they’re in a certain niche, using a certain angle, and they’re profiting XXX per day.
You’ll get pushed in the right direction, but you are expected to put in some effort. Actually less effort than I thought it would be, based on my own results, but effort nonetheless.
I have not done enough advertising with Google at all to dismiss it entirely as a network, but here’s what happened in my first day:
Now, I was promoting two different things, but I woke up to a Facebook ad spend of less than $2 and I could instantly see results, while Google had took $40 from my account (my daily budget) while I slept and I didn’t have anything to show for it. I decided then and there that I would put all of my effort into Facebook.
I discovered a few years ago now that you could get very cheap Facebook clicks ($0.01 each) by directing traffic internally to your own Facebook fan page. It makes sense that it would be cheaper to advertise within Facebook than try to send people elsewhere outside of the network. This didn’t actually turn out to be the case exactly, but bear with me for now.
I used a terrible image which was much smaller than the Facebook allowed dimensions and really didn’t get to test more than 2 headlines properly, but it was nice to see how big a difference just a headline makes once again. I do enjoy this kind of data; especially when you can get it so fast.
For an un-optimised campaign, I paid $7.74 for 120 page likes. That works out to be $0.064 per like. I was more pleased with my Click-through rate. I’ve been told that getting anything above 0.1% or 0.2% is something to be happy with, so nearly hitting 0.4% gave me a little bit of a boost. Even if it wasn’t to an outside source.
Now that I had a small grasp once again on how to put ads together, I decided to go for some conversions. This is for a website where I sell software, but not in the marketing niche. I also ran a case study for the main site I feature in Backlinks XXX, but don’t have too much to show for that at the moment. This is my own product, so I would be keeping 100% of the commissions. However, it wasn’t time to go for the big sale just yet. I wanted to optimise how much I was paying for each click.
What I did at this stage was use the best title I found from my previous tests (I did a few more similar to step 1, but for different age groups) then load it up with 20 images. Therefore, I had 2 campaigns in Facebook with 10 ads each, all with the same title and body text. The only thing that differed was the picture. Here’s the data from one campaign:
As you can see, the data was pretty interesting here. Two observations can be made:
#1: The picture has a HUGE effect on CTR. I would say it’s more important than the title from my testing. Remember, it’s the only thing that changed
#2: Just because something is getting a lot of clicks, it doesn’t mean it will convert. My 3rd most clicked ad actually had the best conversion rate. The image must still be relevant to the offer
So for this experiment I received 73 email addresses for $14.12. The other campaign ran with slightly worse results which I believe is because I was targeting a younger demographic. Older people seemed happier to give an email address. Just in case you want me to do the maths, that’s $0.19 per email address, or 5 emails for $1. Quite a lot better than most solo ads actually – and highly targeted – so I was fairly impressed with this. I know many people who would be very happy with 500 leads for a $100 spend.
This is also forgetting that I would get more conversions for a cheaper price after optimising the campaign and taking out low-performing ads.
Apparently this is only a recent thing (within the last year) and has transformed how people are running their Facebook campaigns. No longer do people have to rely on Tracking 202 or CPVLab as they did before (though I hear they’re great as backup programs).
First of all, once you’re on the Facebook ads manager, look on the left sidebar for a fairly obvious link called ‘Conversion Tracking’, as shown below:
After that, you’ll then look at the top right hand corner of the page and click Create Conversion Pixel:
Then you simply select the type of conversion you wish to track. You should know, based on whatever it is you’re promoting:
And then Voila! You get this nice little tracking code that you can put on your website:
While Facebook suggest that you should put this before the end of your head tag like most code, you can just enter it into the page or post on a WordPress site and it tracks fine for me.
You can then go ahead and put this on your Thank you page – where someone gets redirected after an email opt-in – or on the registration form of a product after payment. Wherever you can tell that someone has actually completed a conversion.
Dating is absolutely huge on Stack That Money (STM). While other members are going off into other verticals, Plenty of Fish and Facebook advertising seem to be talked about more than anything else. This is how some people are making thousands of dollars per day on the Facebook ad network. I decided to test it out in a not-so-crowded country (meaning not America, the UK or Australia) and see how I could do. It turns out, I did very well.
Before I continue, I want to say that even if this campaign had made me $1,000 straight away, I knew I wouldn’t keep promoting it. More on that in a second.
I did spent more than $20, I actually spent $47.06 on this campaign. The screenshot you see is targeting men who are interested in women, speak English (All), and are between the ages of 50-65 (Facebook’s max) in a particular country.
I found myself getting higher click through rates with the same ads on the 40-50 age group, rather than 20-30 and so on. The reason I was going to stop this campaign no matter what is for a few reasons:
I’ve since joined a number of other CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) companies that were recommended on STM and thankfully I got fast approval since I’m a member. As someone who had only played with Facebook for a few days, I was pretty surprised that I was making these profits. Now I can totally see how people are doing six figure months and killing it.
What I’m looking for from a new offer is basically more room to scale (a country with a bigger population and / or a bigger payout for free leads). I know they exist, so I may as well be trying with them. I will still stay clear from the biggest markets, and perhaps rely on some friends for translating into other countries. More on this in a future post I think.
This number would have been a little higher, but I did have a couple of refunds which brought it down a bit. I actually pulled in closer to $700 in sales from that spend. I own the product, so the profit margin is huge.
First of all, here’s how not to set-up a campaign:
I can’t remember exactly what I did here, but I think people weren’t buying the product and instead opting in for my email list, which triggered a conversion. Actually, no, that doesn’t make sense either. I messed up somehow and was tracking the wrong thing, which Facebook clearly registered. I wish I could get 398 conversions for spending $17.61, but I definitely did not.
Lesson learned: Make sure your set-up is correct before going out and letting your ads run.
Here’s a small insight into the sales that I made (I set up a new membership name called Premium in Wishlist member):
This is for software that I own and promote, but again not in the marketing niche. The price is between $30-$50, depending on what you purchase. I don’t want to give away too much here as my profit margin is huge and there’s no way for me to benefit by outing myself.
Here’s some more realistic tracking numbers when you’re sending someone straight to a ‘Buy now’ page:
There are a few more ads below the ones I’ve highlighted, but you get the idea. One of them actually had a 0.6% Click through rate, which I’ve heard is pretty huge for Facebook. I am promoting to pretty tight demographics though (5 year age groups, in particular cities). Paying around $5 for a $30-$50 conversion is pretty damn fantastic to me.
I was obviously very happy and excited from the results for my previous test, so I thought I should start setting up things with the Google Adwords network. I decided from the start that I was going to play around with the Content network rather than search results. Meaning anyone who runs ads on their websites using Google Adsense has a chance to display my own ad and that my ads would not appear in search results when you look for something.
I ended up spending over $40 with Adwords and didn’t get a single conversion.
(A sample of the ads I ran in one campaign)
Now, I did say I was going to use this as a learning experience, and I am, but I quickly decided that at least for now, Facebook is far more interesting to me than the Adwords network. Adwords gives me a far bigger volume for my audience than Facebook will, simply because of how many sites there are out there related to my software, but I’m just wasting money without any training in their platform. I’m going to watch a lot of videos online to learn the network better, and try it out again.
Now, one thing I haven’t yet told is that I am worried about the size of my audience availability on Facebook. Though I was doing tight-targeting, I’ve known from the start my potential audience there is quite small for that very profitable industry. I would say I could max out at between $10,000 – $15,000 in profit. I know that sounds like a lot to some of you, but I’m really looking for campaigns where I can bring in an additional 6-figures per year to my business. Especially when it’s going to be taking time out of my other endeavors which are already very lucrative.
For this reason, I decided to stop sending traffic direct to a sales page and once again send people to an email list. My theory is that I’m wasting those 600+ clicks if I’m only getting 2 sales from it. My thinking was that I can get 100 or 200 email subscribers, and then probably get more than 2 sales from those people.
I spent more money than usual testing this theory, and it just didn’t work out. I got a few hundred new email subscribers, sent them a few follow-up emails, and then pushed them on the product. It didn’t help sales conversion rates at all. I now know I may as well push this campaign hard, max out my profit margins and get as many customers on board as I can. And I’ll do this by directing people straight to a (split-tested) sales page.
This has not been tested as far as it can be tested and there are probably much smarter people reading this who don’t follow this strategy at all. However, from my reading of PPC guides and actually testing, here’s a recap of my own Facebook strategy:
Step #1: Start out with some cheap clicks to an internal Fan page of yours (where applicable) on Facebook. Max out the budget at $15-20 so you’re not going to get a shocking bill, and then play around with some variables. Simply get used to the Facebook system and see how quickly you can get approved. Don’t worry too much about the images you’re using or anything like that.
Hell, I just used the default picture from my Fan page which Facebook pulled up for me. Run around 5 ads within the same demographic (i.e. men, 40+, living in Spain who like Apple) and just change the titles around a bit. Keep the ad copy text the same. Notice how much of a difference one little change can have on the click through rate.
Step #2: Start promoting a page on your website where you have some kind of opt-in form. You can skip this section if you don’t have this option in place, but you may as well be getting a better return on your “testing investment” than just some Facebook likes. This time choose your best title from the previous tests and have some fun with the images.
Once again, notice how much difference a change in your ad can have, even when two other variables are the same and you haven’t changed your targeting. Also use this opportunity to try Facebook’s conversion tracking system. You can then optimize for conversions rather than just paying for clicks.
For my bid amount, I tend to bid in between Facebook’s suggested bid. So if the suggested bid is $0.10 to $0.20 then I would bid $0.15. Facebook will automatically lower how much you’re paying per click (if you’re not using the optimize for conversions option) if you get a good CTR, so don’t worry about the price too much to begin with.
Step #3: Find an offer. There are literally thousands of companies you can sign up with such as Neverblue, Cupid.com (instant approval), Commission Junction etc. I am currently only using one of those three, but I will very shortly be using a number of companies recommended to me on STM. You get ‘fast tracked’ through the approval process which is another benefit of being part of their community.
It’s totally fine to promote your own product or services as well if that’s what you want to do. I did and had a lot of success with it. The plus size is that even if someone doesn’t convert, you can use pop-ups or exit redirects to convince people to sign-up to your own email address as well. This means, of course, that you can market to them at a later date after building a connection.
Read affiliate blogs and reviews for specific programs to find out what kind of verticals are big. Forex, dating, Facebook game installs, iPhone Apps etc are all big and all offer a CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) or CPL (Cost Per Lead) model where you get paid for every lead or paying customer you send someone. For instance, you might run a Facebook ad targeting gamers aged 18-23 and you can get paid $2-$7 for everyone who installs and starts playing that game on Facebook. The potential is limitless.
Step #4: One Headline, One Demographic, One Hundred Images
The best advice I received was basically to keep your ad copy the same and go through a massive testing spree with images. Not necessarily 100 pictures, but at least a few dozen.
If your target demographic is not too small, then split this up between 2-3 campaigns with 10 ads in them each. Again, each time keep the title of your ad and the ad copy the same. Just go through styles of images. So for dating ads targeting women you might try:
The options are endless and I promise you’ll be amazed which ads get clicked more than others. Then you’re focusing on the CTR of the ads to see which one is getting you the most clicks. Another thing I love about PPC is that the more testing you do, the more likely you are to find a profitable campaign. Or in other words the more you put in, the more you’re likely to get out financially. Perfect for someone like me who is happy to do the ‘hard work’ in return for the big money.
For images, don’t pick anything that’s too professional. I’ve found images that are a little quirky to be the best. For example, using the free stock photos site here, I pulled up the following options:
My guess that the best converting of these – and I’m not saying they’re great pictures at all, it’s just a quick example – would either be top left or bottom right. Bottom right has something ‘weird’ about that it people are likely to notice, and top left looks good but not too staged and professional.
If you’re like me and have problems with the ‘Power Editor’ for Facebook (which only works in Chrome) then simply go through with the Create Similar Ad option so you can change images very fast:
Here’s a little secret, I’ve found that ads targeting men which have a girl sitting in a car get clicked more than any other. I have no idea why, and that’s the beauty of testing so much. You find what works even if you can’t explain why it does. I guess something about the picture just looks more ‘natural’ and honest
I have had an issue now since day two where the place order button in Facebook just doesn’t work for me. It’s even more frustrating when you’re creating a new ad, set your criteria, then click the button and nothing happens. Meaning, you have to do it all over again. A Google search shows I’m not alone, and a friend messaged me about the same problem as well.
The solution is fairly simple. Create an ad with the URL you wish to promote – don’t select any demographic criteria at all – and then click Place Order. Then go back and Edit the ad, and you shouldn’t have any issues changing all your criteria and clicking Save. I can’t believe a billion dollar company could have issues like this – especially when it comes to the main system which makes them money – but I just can’t get past this no matter what browser I use.
Hopefully this solves some frustrations for those of you who try the platform.
I did use a number of tools to help in my learning and to speed up the process for this case study. As I said earlier, I view anything I spend as a learning investment and I’m happy to lose money in the short-term to help increase the chances of making good money in the long-term.
Tool #1: Alexa Pro Advanced – $149/m
I had planned on using this tool for one month only, but I ended up using it for about a minute. The reason I paid for it in the first place was to get more insights into the data that Alexa currently has. By default, Alexa shows you 5 words or phrases that are likely driving traffic to any website. You can see this for free without needing an account.
However, with a pro membership, they say you can see a lot more of this information. I wanted to use it on sites in my industry (and for ViperChill while I had access) to find good keyphrases to target for things like my Adwords campaign and possibly for content ideas as well. You don’t get access to this data on their $9.99/m plan and you don’t get this data on their $49/m plan. You specifically need to pay $149/m to find more data on these terms.
Keeping in mind that the free plan gives you 5 phrases, how many do you think the $149/m option gives? 50? 100? A few thousand? No, it gives you 10. Barely more useful than the free service itself, and I can only praise the fact that they gave me a quick refund.
Tool #2: Social Ad Ninja – $147/m
This is a great tool which is specifically great for those of us who advertise on Facebook. Essentially, it’s a spy tool which lets you see other ads that people are creating. The main features include:
Using this tool I found a title from the same industry – which I adapted to mine – which was by far the title which got me the best CTR. You definitely don’t need to have this tool to profit on Facebook, but even just for one month of usage, you’re going to get a ton of insights which should speed up your learning process.
I’ve already cancelled my membership (though it hasn’t expired yet) as I have really abused a few industries and took notes of all the things I saw that were working.
Tool #3: Ad Beat – $99/m
Ad Beat is very similar to Social Ad Ninja but instead of being focused on Facebook, it gives you insights into people using Google Adwords. I was specifically interested in seeing the banner ads that people are using in my industry and how long they’ve been running. When you’re running on the content network using only images, the graphics you use are everything.
I think I received quite a good CTR from what I’ve been told (over 1%) but I just couldn’t convert those visitors into anything meaningful just yet. I definitely haven’t given up on Adwords though, and will return to AdBeat once it becomes a more serious part of my advertising efforts.
First of all, unless someone convinces me otherwise, I’m going to go all out on my profitable campaign and run it for all I have. I’ll push the ad frequencies on every single age group of my target market and make as much money as I can until it stops becoming profitable. As mentioned earlier, I think I have a ceiling of $10,000 – $15,000. I don’t expect to spend more than a couple of hundred dollars to reach this.
My market is bigger than that, but seemingly not from Facebook as my ad frequency just becomes too high, too quickly. Maybe I’ll be surprised and make even more than that, but it will still be a nice income stream at the end of the day even at the lower end of the scale.
What I’m really going to try out though is the dating niche via Facebook. It’s definitely saturated with a lot of competition, but I’m willing to test a thousand landing pages and ad creatives if I have to in order to make a campaign profitable. The thing about Facebook dating is that – for the most part – it can be scaled up to a huge level once you find something that’s converting well. This leaves the potential for consistent, 4 figure days in profit.
I bought myself a notebook and a fancy pen (really) just to take notes from Stack That Money (non-aff) for the next few months. There are a lot of case studies from people banking really hard with Facebook dating. My favourite comes from a guy in India who was making $0/day just a few months ago, and now he’s making posts like this:
I’m under no illusion that it’s going to be easy money, but PPC campaigns are obviously far easier to duplicate than an entire blogging strategy or seeing how someone is ranking with SEO in the same industry. I’m not going to be able to get started until a few weeks from now (I’m working on something pretty huge of my own), but it will get my full attention when the time is right.
I’ve joined quite a few new networks in the last few days, and I’ll be ready to continue profiting. In the next few days I have another free guide to this subject coming up (including split-testing, easy to create landing pages and all that good stuff) so subscribe below in the yellow box if you haven’t already.