“Insider Tips From A Facebook Ads Expert Ft. Ali Parmelee of IMPACT” (Inbound Success Ep. 63)

What does a full-time Facebook Ads expert do to get great results for her clients?

Ali Parmelee

Ali Parmelee

This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, IMPACT’s Lead Facebook Ads Strategist Ali Parmelee shares the exact process she uses to develop Facebook ad campaigns and track and measure the performance of ads. 

This isn’t Facebook ads 101. Ali is sharing advanced tips, in detail, for marketers that understand the basics of Facebook advertising but want to up their game and improve their return on ad spend (ROAS).

Listen to the podcast for step-by-step instructions on building Facebook ad campaigns like the pros do.


Kathleen Booth (Host): Welcome back to The Inbound Success podcast. My name’s Kathleen Booth and I’m your host and this week my guest is Ali Parmelee who is the Lead Facebook Ads strategist for IMPACT. Welcome Ali.

Ali Parmelee (Guest): Thank you very much. Glad to be here.

Ali Parmelee and Kathleen BoothAli and Kathleen recording this episode

Kathleen: Yeah I’m excited to have you here. It’s not often that I get to interview my own colleagues for this podcast so this is kind of a special treat. Why don’t you tell the listeners a little bit about yourself and about your background?

Ali: Sure. So I am newer to the IMPACT team. I used to be a co-owner of THINK Creative group out of Connecticut and we merged into IMPACT over the summer. So I’ve been with IMPACT for about five-ish months and trying to bring all of our Facebook and inbound methodologies over with us. So my team came over with us and I am focusing on driving Facebook and Instagram ads for IMPACT now.

Kathleen: Yeah the first time that I saw you, met you, heard of you was at a HubSpot Partner day event a few years ago when you were actually up on stage with someone from HubSpot talking about how to do Facebook ads right. I was really impressed by everything you were doing and how deep you were going specifically into Facebook ads. So we were really excited to have you guys be a part of the team because it’s given us some capabilities we didn’t have before.

Ali: Thank you. Thank you. That was fun. That was two years ago. I spoke with Daria and my previous co-founder of THINK and it was a great time. I love talking there.

Kathleen: Yeah. Well we’re gonna pick your brain on Facebook ads here today. So you know you are very specialized in terms of what you work on. And while you, I think you have in the past, you have done broader marketing strategy, you’ve worked with clients across the range of their different marketing needs but you’ve gone really deep specifically with Facebook ads. And what I find interesting about that and one of the reasons I really wanted to have you on is that it seems to me like everybody’s either doing Facebook ads or talking about doing them these days. It’s become kind of ubiquitous which is funny to me because when I first got into Inbound marketing I remember actually HubSpot used to say, “Inbound marketing is about attracting buyers and not spending them with ads,” and they were very kind of anti-advertising and that’s really changed. It seems like they recognize that ads have an important place in the inbound marketing methodology. But I’d love to hear your take on that.

Ali: No, absolutely. I definitely have a varied past were over the years I won’t say my age but I’ve been doing this for quite awhile and I’ve done everything from writing copy, doing PR, to running full inbound campaigns. My previous company we were HubSpot patterns as well so I used to run social media campaigns and everything. And one of the things that I think has ended itself to me having the successes that I have with Facebook ads is I really think you have to be a strong utility player to do Facebook ads right. Because there’s so many different elements with it.

A lot of people think that Facebook ads is boosting of that you’re simply just taking an idea and doing a pretty general ad but you have to think about the strategy behind it. It’s just as strategic as everything else that you do with inbound marketing.

And that’s why why I talk about Facebook ads and doing it the inbound way it is … to go back to your question here it is something that totally works together with inbound marketing because you don’t wanna feel like you are spamming people but you’re helping to get it in front of them. Because at this point people’s feeds are so over-saturated and flooded you have to make sure that they have the opportunity to see it which they don’t get to with how low the normal reach is now anyway.

Kathleen: I will say done well they for sure work because I mean I’m a marketer, I know what’s happening when I go into Facebook. But there have definitely been times when I have purchased things because I’m like, “Okay I have seen this ad so many times I need to click through and see what it’s all about.” A great example is I think I’m a devotee now of Aaptiv which is an exercise app and it literally was just that it showed up enough in my feed. And I was like, “Alright, darn you Aaptiv I’m gonna check it out.”

Ali: That’s funny.

Kathleen: It does work, for sure if it’s done well.

Ali: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Kathleen: But it sounds like if I’m hearing you correctly what you’re saying, at least in my mind the way I’m seeing this, is it’s almost like there’s the iceberg and the little bit of the iceberg that you see above the surface is the things people see that is, “Hey do you wanna boost your post?” But that there’s this giant iceberg under the water of additional knowledge and expertise and methodology that you can take advantage of to do it really well.

Ali: Absolutely.

Ali’s Process for Building Facebook Ads Campaigns

Kathleen: I’d love to have you talk about that a little bit more. So when you work with a client, and somebody comes to you and says, “I wanna do Facebook ads,” walk me through what that initial conversation is like from the 50,000 foot kind of strategic view.

Ali: Yeah, absolutely. And if I keep talking too much just yell at me because I can talk forever about this, I get so excited. So it’s honestly very similar to onboarding and talking to people about inbound marketing. You have to understand the goals. Like I was starting to say before it’s not just about saying, “I have this lead generation tool that I want to put out there,” or, “I wanna get more sales.” We need to understand what the KPI, the key performance indicators, are that we’re going after. Are you trying to increase your overall brand awareness? Do you need more unique site visitors? Are you trying to get leads and more email addresses? Are you trying to get sales? Do you have old inventory that you’re trying to move? We have to understand what the overall goals are. And then we come up with strategies.

So it’s very similar to an inbound method strategy that way. So once we start understanding what your goals are we can start to put together a blueprint of what that means. So we have some clients who in the past have wanted to start blogging. As we all know blogging is fantastic but it’s not a silver bullet that happens overnight, we have to get more people coming to the blog. So we have clients where they had been running, they had been posting blogs now weekly multiple times a week for six months, they were not seeing really any traction with it. Through our strategy of not boosting but we call it amplifying because we do it through Facebook ads manager and I’d written a blog that’s on IMPACT’s site, we can-

Kathleen: We’ll link to that in the show notes.

Click here to read Ali’s blog on Facebook Ads v. Boosted Posts – Which Is More Effective?

Ali: Yeah. So there’s a big difference between that because this is where you’re making sure that you’re using the pixels, you’re creating segmented audiences that you’re going after for this. And instantly from the first week where we went from not having any amplification going to actually having amplification going for it they went from maybe 50 views to over 800 views for the blog. And that was with a very minimal spend.

Ali: That was about $15 a day. So again when we get started we wanna know what the goals are. We want to talk about budgets and timelines for how quickly we want to reach those goals because they all play a factor with each other.

Kathleen: So you’re having that conversation big picture about goals and timelines and budgets. Is there ever a situation where you say Facebook ads are not right for this?

Ali: Yes. Yes. Absolutely. If it is … so a couple of those scenarios would be I particularly love e-commerce and I focus on e-commerce. If a product their average order value is under $50 you are going to have to have a big budget and do a big volume to make your money back on it. So doesn’t mean you can’t do it but what I’ve done in scenarios like that is we look at how can we group or bundle products so it can get the average order value up instead of just saying, “Nope, sorry it won’t work for you.” So I’ve talked with say coffee drop shippers where it’s $20 for the average order value but if we sell subscriptions for them instead now that makes that a guaranteed three months $60 and it makes more sense for them to do it. So there’s ways around that.

Ali: So we look at average order value. We also look at are their goals realistic with their budgets. Because I have audited accounts where people say, “It’s just not working.” I’ll go in, I’ll look at their targeting and they’re targeting four million people at a dollar a day and it’s going to take them two years to see any results. So it’s also setting realistic expectations with people too. And also for people to know that this is not just … while you get very quick results it is not a silver bullet, you have to continue to work at it and it’s not something that you start and stop. They have to be willing to understanding that this is part of your overall marketing strategy, your digital marketing strategy because you have to stick with it for a minimum of three months to make sure that it’s working properly for you because it’s a lot of split testing. A lot of theorizing and then going back and tweaking to get it running smoothly.

Kathleen: What about on the B to B side? Are there situations when it’s not a good fit on that side as well?

Ali: You know it can be harder on B to B but not necessarily. There are so many tips and hacks that you can do. If you have a good size email list part of what we’ll do is we’ll start to audit first and see, “Can we find enough of these people in here,” or, “Can we find enough look alikes, is it at least a 200 person seed audience that we can work off of to start trying to build look alike audiences?” You know one of my mentors actually sold an MRI machine through Facebook ads. So you can sell anything. It’s a matter of can you get the targeting right which is super critical and can you build a campaign structure the right way to make sure that your messaging gets across.

Kathleen: So let’s take it a layer deeper and let’s talk about targeting. I think it would be really interesting because these things change so quickly. Can you break down what are all the different targeting options and the ways that you can come at this?

Ali: Absolutely. So this is something that seems like such a very simple straightforward methodology but it’s something that when we go into audit accounts we don’t see people who aren’t working with tried and true Facebook advertisers that have a similar setup are doing. A lot of times we’ll go in and we’ll see people think of a campaign because of the naming conventions with Facebook. It’s campaign ad set ads. So they think of a campaign as, “Oh I want to promote this one idea, this one concept.” But that’s not how we approach it. We look at the campaign as the objective that you’re able to select from Facebook. So they give you about 10 to 12 objectives you can pick from: brand awareness, traffic, conversions, video views, product catalog sales. And so we will always build our campaign structure by objective. And then where you would normally … when you go into ad sets that’s where we do our targeting.

Ali: So for example when you go and look and audit any of the accounts that we’re running we really never have more than 10-ish campaigns at once ever going, and that’s a lot. It depends on what the ad buys have. There are some campaigns I’m running where I only have three active campaign objectives running right now but we’re still spending $40,000 a month. It’s just how we structure it. So for ad sets when we get in there … now this is where you start looking at the different target audiences that you’re going after.

Ali: So think of this like the buyer’s journey where you’ve got the top of funnel, you’ve got the middle of funnel, you’ve got the bottom of funnel. Top of funnel you are only ever going to target lookalike audiences, ice cold people, people who have never heard of your brand, never been touched by your brand, they just know a little bit about the concept and that’s how we’re targeting them. What we typically will do in there is this is where all lookalike audiences go and this is where interest and behaviors go.

Ali: Now a sort of micro-tip on that is we start out by breaking those all down separately, we don’t go and take a 100 different behaviors and put them all in, we’ll clump similar ones. So for example one beauty client that we have we’ll do retail stores, so Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Sephora, places like that will all be in there. But I’m not gonna put those with other interest categories because I wanna see what’s working, what’s resonating. So we’ll make sure that we split those out. Same thing with even the look alike audiences. I may do a look alike audience of the top five percent of time spent on site and that is one ad set. Then I do another ad set which is Facebook engagement for the last 180 days or 90 days and I build that custom audience to make a look alike and that’s it, that’s who I’m going after. And then I do the same for Instagram.

Ali: So we have a set list that we kind of start off with as the lowest hanging fruit and that’s always gonna be look alike for top of funnel. Then middle of funnel we take those same custom audiences that we built the look alikes off of and that’s who goes in middle of funnel. So now it’s not the look alike but it’s the actual top five percent of time spent on site, it’s the Facebook engagers for 90 days, it’s the Instagram engagers for 90 days. It’s people who have viewed content but not added to cart. That’s all middle of funnel.

Ali: And then bottom of funnel that’s where we’re going back and trying to get people across the finish line. So maybe it’s e-commerce and you’ve added to cart but you haven’t purchased. We’re gonna keep following you around. Maybe it’s an annual timeline download and you’ve landed on the landing page but you haven’t downloaded it. I’m gonna remind you it’s still there for you to download.

Kathleen: So talk to me more about why at the top of the funnel you’re only using look alike audiences?

Ali: So top of the funnel typically you’re going to use objectives that are cheaper. And so with that we want to make sure that when we’re casting the widest net we’re not spending the most amount of money. You’re gonna pay more for clicks and conversions when you start doing conversion objectives for middle and bottom of funnel. Top of funnel you might be doing video views, you might be doing traffic, brand awareness. You may even still be doing conversions but you’re going to have enough things going that you’re casting the widest net, we want to make sure that it is truly a cold audience that then you’re trying to help refine and build into a more interested audience for you.

Kathleen: So you want a cold audience or is there any reason … you know you talked about it being look alike, is there any reason you wouldn’t try to develop a cold audience based off of demographic targeting?

Ali: Yes. So we could absolutely do that too. We have some clients who specifically even have states that they target because they’re best performing states. So we might say this is our …

Ali: States, so we might say this is our women who are 35 to 65 in Texas, California, wherever. The one thing that I usually will say though is we start with a narrower top of funnel in these different micro niches because Facebook honestly is very good at helping to figure out who the audiences are for you to target. You … it also takes the emotion out of it because you have your own theories of who you think is right, but let’s let Facebook actually build the data for us and then see how can we then hone that down even more. So, for example, we have a newer client right now where we’ve started with all of the lookalikes and then we went back and added in as a second phase some of the behaviors and interests and more of the demographics because we were able to see, okay, this, these age groups are the core age groups who are engaging.

Ali: So let’s trim this back to these age groups and now let’s add in a layer of these behaviors, and this is a new ad set that we test.

Kathleen: And you’re, are you learning that from seeing the results of the lookalike audience?

Ali: Yes.

Kathleen: Okay.

Ali: Exactly. Data analysis is a huge part of Facebook ads. You have to understand what you’re seeing and reading and then how to react to it. It’s not just building these ads and a lot of times you’ll see with Facebook, there’s a lot of churn because people are great at getting things going, but they’re not necessarily great at the longer haul of keeping it going. So the better you are at data analysis, the better … and you’re going to have a, you’re … the better you’re going to be able to create results and the longer relationships you’re gonna have.

Kathleen: Now you begin with the KPIs and the targeting, and then really at some point you need to make decisions about budget.

Kathleen: Can you talk me through how you think about budget? You know, because having been in agencies for a long time, I know that the big question everyone says how much did I spend? And usually there’s some sort of an it depends answer in there. And then there are people who come and say this is what I’m prepared to spend and it’s completely arbitrary and has nothing to do with any kind of logical reasons. So I’m curious how you approach that conversation.

Ali: Yeah, absolutely. So as we’re going through KPIs, I get a good sense of approximately how much testing we’re going to have to do. And so this is something that’s really big and important for people to understand. Facebook ads is truly all about testing and so the more budget that you have to be able to test, because the way, as I was saying, I might only have a handful of objectives at the top level, but then when we get to ad sets, each of those ad sets need their own budget.

Ali: So say for example, I have a top of funnel conversion. So actually this is a good example, right now for one of our e-commerce clients, we’re prepping for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, we’re doing a lot of testing in there. And so we have eight ad sets in each of three top of funnel campaigns right now. So that’s 24 different ad sets I have to put budget to. And it has to be equal budget so that I can see what’s actually performing well with the different audiences and then be able to make proper decisions for Black Friday, Cyber Monday. So I have some clients where I can tell from the KPIs that they’re more of sort of a dipping the toe in the water starter level of what they’re looking to do. The base level that I tell people is you need to feel comfortable spending at least $3,000 a month just on the ad spend, not the implementation or the management or setup, but just on the ad spend alone. Because that gives you enough latitude to be able to scale up, scale down and get faster results.

Ali: Certainly, I’ve had clients who have said, well, I don’t know, I’d rather start with 1500. That’s fine, but you have to understand that everything is relative. So I’m going to need, if you want to cut the initial budget down to 1500, then where it would normally take me six to eight weeks to establish benchmarks for you, it’s now going to take 12 to 16 weeks to do that because we’re just prolonging everything. And the budget, the metrics might be slightly different depending on the time of year. Like I would not advise anyone just starting instantly right now because the cost per click is double what it normally is going to be right now. So …

Kathleen: Because of the kind of …

Ali: Black Friday, Cyber Monday. Yep.

Kathleen: Yeah, that’s interesting. Now, okay. We covered KPIs, we covered targeting, we covered budget. One of the things that I’m hearing you say is that there’s a lot of testing you … there’s a lot of data analysis, there’s a lot of like watching results. I’d love to learn more about, you know, how much time are you spending in a given week just looking at this stuff? How frequently are you looking at it? Is it daily, is it hourly, is it weekly, what does that cadence look like? And is it dependent upon spend?

Ali: It’s dependent upon spend and goals. So, I’m in there every single day for all of my clients. And then depending on the budgets and how many, how much testing we’re doing. So that example where we have the 24 live top of funnel ad sets right now I’m in there hourly checking to see what’s going on and do we need to make changes because we’re even testing the same exact copy, same exact image, but square versus vertical. To see because again, from reading the data we are seeing that, this is a crazy statistic, but 90 percent of their purchases are coming from mobile through Facebook and Instagram.

Ali: So with that being said, right now we’re testing a hack to be able to do a vertical image. It’s not something that you can typically just do straight up in Facebook ads. You actually have to create it as a, what we call a dark post. So it looks like it would if it was an organic post on your actual page, but it never hits your page. We just create it and then take it and run it as an ad. But the theory, what this is, the vertical images takes up more space on a phone. So I want to take up as much space as I can and right now those are converting really well for this client.

Kathleen: That’s interesting. For anyone who doesn’t know, can you explain more about the dark post thing? How do you create it? What is it?

Ali: Yeah. So basically in ads manager, when you go to create an ad, and I haven’t actually even gotten to this part of it. I’ve explained a little bit of how I set up the campaign structure and then the ad set structure.

Ali: But, so the idea is with this, sorry about that. The idea is with this, that what happens is you take the same creative. What we do is we build a master ad set, a master campaign, and then master ad set. So we will never ever turn these ads on in the set. And then we take that one ad and then we drop it into each of the different ad sets. So in those 24 different ad sets that I’ve been talking about, I’m running the same exact ad in every single one. 

Okay. So for creating a dark post, this is something that is never going to actually live on the page itself. It will just be an unpublished post. Which then we turn into an ad. Now we make the master ad campaign that is never turned on, but this is this one ad. So within the master ad campaign we will create this ad that then we take this singular ad and drop it in any ad set that we want.

Ali: So the difference with this is is I’m not going, in this example where I said we have 24 different active ad sets top of funnel. I’m not creating 24 ads over and over and over again. I’m taking this one ad that we created once and then I’m dropping it in each of the different ad sets. And here’s why this is so important. Have you ever seen those posts or Those ads where it’s got thousands of comments and likes and you think to yourself, oh my gosh, this is amazing? These people clearly have a lot of interactions, you’re getting … you might have some negative sentiment, you have positive sentiment. But that all happens because you’re taking one post ID, you’re creating this ad and you’re dropping it over and over. So all of those likes and comments and shares follow it around and are cumulative and instead of having to optimize it 24 separate times.

Kathleen: So you’re taking the one post, but you say you’re putting it in different ad sets.

Kathleen: Does that mean that the ad itself across all those ad sets appears identically, but you’re targeting is different in each of those cases?

Ali: Exactly. So this way I’m able to test does a testimonial ad perform better versus maybe an explanatory ad? Or does a video format versus a single image versus a slide show work better with the same copy? And I take that and the interesting thing is is I have examples where top of funnel I’ve split and tested single image versus slideshow where it’s the same exact copy and it’s a draw. It’s a 50/50 for one of my clients. However, that same client, middle of funnel, I’ve tested slideshow versus single image and I now know I would never waste my time or money on a slideshow again because it does not convert middle funnel, only a single image does. But this allows me to be able to see that.

Kathleen: Really then it sounds very similar to how we approach AB testing with other things. You know, the rule with any good AB test is you only change one variable. So that’s kinda what it sounds like we’re talking about here.

Ali: Exactly, exactly.

Kathleen: Yeah. Interesting. Once you have all of this setup, you then need to proceed with putting together the creative.

Ali: Yes.

Kathleen: Any takeaways or advice on how to approach that creative so that it’s gonna perform well?

Ali: Yes. So especially for top of funnel, people don’t want to feel like you’re spamming them. They don’t want to feel like, how did they figure out how to find me? This is an ad. I don’t want this. If they start to hide your ads, that counts as negative sentiment. People may not realize this, but the more negative sentiment you get, the worse your optimization is. So it’s gonna cost you more.

Ali: Facebook will ding you for it. If you continue to get lots of complaints, they’ll even shut down your account on you. So you have to be really careful. We call … we practice what we call ad camouflage. So what this means is, this is how … you may have heard me talk about doing Facebook ads that are inboundy. You wanna be helpful, you don’t want to sound like you are selling, you want it to seem conversational. So this is where we, first of all, Facebook does not allow you to put too much text on your images. We try to actually not put text on our images at all because we want it to feel organic. We’ll use hashtags in our body copy because we want it to look like an organic post. We will specifically not select the call to action button that you have the option to pick for Facebook ads, unless we’re forced to, it will force you to on videos and slideshows.

Ali: But otherwise we will not because we want it to feel as organic as possible.

Kathleen: Hm. And with images, I heard you earlier mention normally they need to be horizontal instead of vertical.

Ali: Yeah. So for single image ads you’re going to do, that’s a very horizontal format. Vertical you do in sort of the super duper hack of doing the page post itself. And so that’s where you can’t even pick a headline, you can’t pick a CTA, this, it looks and acts and breathes like a post that you would do normally. It just is dark, it’s unpublished.

Kathleen: And that’s really for mobile.

Ali: And that’s, yeah, that’s what we’re finding is working well for mobile where you have a lot of mobile conversions. And then there’s also square. So I have some clients where when I start auditing their assets that they’re giving me, they may have fantastic artwork that I can pick from but they’re all vertical.

Ali: So now that we’ve had this, this one option, if it works for them, that’s great, but sometimes it doesn’t. So what we do there is we’ll crop them down to squares, which then we can use those four slideshows and they’re also great for Instagram.

Kathleen: Okay. And same for video I would assume? That there are certain times when you want certain formats.

Ali: Yes. Yeah, absolutely. So, video and Instagram stories is a whole other beast that we haven’t even gotten into. But you’re gonna look for more vertical with some of those. Again, it’s testing because you might just have your own theory on it and that’s what I’m doing right now. I am testing vertical against horizontal for that same client, the beauty client.

Kathleen: Why do you think vertical works so well? Is it again the mobile?

Ali: Yup. Yeah, I mean and that’s why data analysis is so important. You know, not only am I in the accounts every single day, but I am running comprehensive reports every Monday. And then I’m meeting with my clients depending on how engaged we are, anywhere from multiple times a week to every other week to review the analytics together and hear what they have coming up and then make plans together about what makes sense moving forward.

Kathleen: Just out of curiosity, would you think that the guidance on vertical versus horizontal video would change if you were targeting a B to B customer? Like are they more likely to be looking at this on a computer, on a laptop or a desktop and therefore would horizontal make more sense for that kind of an audience?

Ali: You know what, you would think so, but there’s no rhyme or reason with it. So many people use their phones nowadays, even if they’re at their desktop. I know I have my phone right next to me and I have it open and I’m scrolling through things. Multitasking, you know, I’m a little different because I’m trying to be targeted by ads so I can see what everyone else is doing.

Kathleen: You’re the only person who’s like, please send me more ads.

Ali: Oh Kathleen, I’m not kidding. I have a Chrome plugin that allows me to strip out any organic posts from facebook so I can only see ads.

Kathleen: Oh my God, that’s just the opposite of everyone else’s reality. I love it.

Ali: So, you know, but mobile, I mean, it really is for me, even with some of the things that I’m targeted, think about it. Like I have two young kids and you know, as I’m putting them to sleep and I’m sitting there next to them in bed, I’m scrolling through while I’m just waiting for them to fall asleep. And that’s why there’s, it’s so important for all these best practices. You do want to test out vertical. You wanna make sure if you’re doing videos for that reason right there alone, that you have captions go like all, all in your video for you. So …

Kathleen: What’s the best way to do captions?

Ali: So, there are a couple of different services actually that I’m gonna start testing out. Facebook has an automatic translation for captions. It can almost be like a fun drinking game to see how bad they are when they come back. For the most part, it’s close enough that it makes it not that bad a job. However, if there’s any lengthier … If there’s any lengthier videos, that’s when I would absolutely go through a transcription process. If it’s three minutes or under, it’ll take 15 to 30 minutes to do it. So, it’s not that bad.

Kathleen: Any particular transcription services that you’ve used?

Ali: Actually I haven’t tested it yet. The one that everybody in my community keeps talking about is called Rev.com.

Kathleen: That’s what I use to transcribe my show.

Ali: Oh.

Kathleen: It’s great. It’s quick, and it’s very reasonably priced. And it’s pretty accurate.

Ali: Good to know. That’s good to know.

Kathleen: Two thumbs up on Rev for me.

Ali: Good to know. Thank you.

Kathleen: Yeah. Great. So, the other thing that you do that’s very interesting, and you kind of talked about it already. But, I wanna just circle back to it, is do you have a very particular way that you organize everything on the back end?

Ali: Yes.

Kathleen: Can you address that a little bit?

Ali: So, in terms of that, so I started to talk about how we will do top of funnel, middle of funnel, and bottom of funnel. And, we, again it sounds very basic. But, keep … so one tip I can say is keep your naming conventions the same. So, that it’s really easy to scan through. Because as you keep managing clients for a long time or managing your own campaigns, you need to be able to quickly go and see what is what and where it is. So …

Kathleen: Especially if there’s multiple people jumping into your account.

Ali: Exactly. So, we’ll always do a naming convention of what phase of the funnel it is. And, then we’ll say what objective it is. So, it’ll be like TOF-Conversions, TOF-Traffic, TOF-Videos.

Kathleen: TOF meaning, top of funnel.

Ali: Top of funnel. Exactly. And, so we keep a very, very streamlined way of doing that. And, then we follow the same naming conventions as you keep going down to access. So, it’ll be LLA-Look Like Audience. And it will be FB-90. So for us that means Lookalikes of Facebook engagers for 90 days. And, so come up with your own system that is going to make sense and try to stick with it as much as possible.

Kathleen: Great. This is so interesting. So, I’m curious to know. Do you have any good tales of like using all these systems that you have? What kind of an impact has that had for the accounts that you do Facebook ads for? What are the terms that people expect to see?

Ali: So, again, everybody is different. And, that’s part of the goal setting too, is understanding what your profit margin is, what your cost should be, what your normal threshold is. Here’s actually another tip that I would say, is also look at those goals for the different levels of the funnel as well. Because while you might have a blended cost per sale across for acquisition, you’re going to pay more top of funnel. Or, you need to look and see what that actually is. Is it because now you’re retargeting. You’re able to spend less, because you’re targeting such a micro niche of who you’re going after. So, when I’m setting up all my weekly reports, I actually have it so that I’m looking at what my sales are, my cost for acquisition, the average order value for top, and then for middle, and then for bottom. So, that I know am I on target? Or, am I not on target with this?

Kathleen: Yeah.

Ali: So, that’s really important. 

Okay so one example, like I was saying is a college advisor that we have worked with now for many years. And, she is fantastic. She shares so much good information. She is the epitome of what an inbound marketer should be because of all the great information she shares. So, she has this one piece of content that she gives away for free. It’s the annual timeline calendar. So, this is something that tells you for each month of the year, here are all the things that you need to have on your radar for everything from standardized tests to essays to getting any recommendations and referrals and visiting colleges.

Kathleen: I could’ve used that. I have three kids who’ve now gone through that process, and it would’ve been nice to have that.

Ali: She is amazing. Well, clearly I didn’t target you. But … so, anyway, what this is, is she does a full process with this. So, this is actually a great kind of multi-channel example too. Because we do the inbound marketing for her. My team does that. So, we do everything from having a landing page where they can go to get to get this. So, we’ve built that out for them. We do emails that go out to the database. Because this is refreshed information, she refreshes it every six months, it’s something that people want to re-download and re-engage with. So, she already has a great following for that.

Ali: Then, we do an organic social presence for her with it. And, then with the ads, now I’m amplifying everything that we’re doing. So, this is something where just looking back at August and the metrics. So, we launched it August 1st, and all of a sudden we jumped up for them because of doing ads and doing very, very strong presence, I can tell you looking at this we had … 3,821 people who downloaded it in August.

Kathleen: Wow.

Ali: Of those, 2,486 of them came from paid social.

Kathleen: Hm.

Ali: This is because we did not just say this is a campaign. This is a gated piece of content that we wanna put out there. We used our strategy where we did top of funnel. And, so we shared information about blogs that were relevant to not knowing what you need to be doing. And, then we also took … she does Facebook Lives every single month. And, so we took her Facebook Lives and we turned those into ads. And, so then we retarget anyone who’s watched at least 25% of the video to then be hit with the middle of funnel ad. And, that middle of funnel ad is the offer to download this annual timeline.

Ali: Then, if you’ve hit the page to download the annual timeline, but you didn’t actually download it, we hit you to remind you there’s still time to download it. So, that’s at bottom of funnel to try to convert and get them across the line.

Kathleen: Got it. Now, when you look at the ad efficacy and ROI, in terms of metrics, what are looking most closely at? Is is cost per click? Is it cost per acquisition? Is there some other metric? What are the KPIs that are most important there for you?

Ali: So, it depends on the different stages of the funnel, and again back to what the KPIs are that we set. But, I’m always going to be looking at a few different key areas. So, again, if it’s legion versus eCommerce, for eCommerce I’m looking at returns on ad spend. The purchase conversion value, the budget. How much of the budget is being spent that we’ve set? How many purchases? I’m also looking at link clicks. It’s really important to look at outbound link clicks and the CTR. So, the click through rate, CTR, is something that you always want to be a bare minimum of 1%. If it’s under 1%, this is where we have a CRO problem. And, you have to start working backwards to say I’m getting a lot of activity on the ad. But, I’m not getting enough people who are clicking through. Or, they’re bouncing. They’re not happy. They’re not staying there.

Ali: And so you have to start then becoming a sleuth in terms of what’s going on, on the site as well. So, I’m looking at those, as I mentioned, link clicks. And, relevance is also another one. So, relevance, you can get up to a 10 score. So, this client, the college advisor. She … we do the blog amplification for her. She has such a very strong presence through her ads campaign and her inbound marketing that I don’t have a single ad that’s running for her that’s under an eight relevance. She’s just phenomenal. Because we’ve honed the targeting so much. If you start to see that your relevance is three, four, something’s wrong. You have to either tweak that ad set or kill it.

Kathleen: And, relevance is a score that Facebook gives to you?

Ali: Yes. So, this is … that’s determined … there’s a couple of different things that go into it. But, I like to look at how many link clicks are you getting? Are you getting shares? Are you getting comments? Is it positive sentiment? Negative sentiment? All of that goes into the relevance.

Kathleen: Wow. It’s fascinating how much goes into this, because you know, going back to what we first talked about in the beginning. It’s so easy to just think, oh yeah. I’m gonna boost my post for $50.00 and just see what happens. Sure, I’m sure you can get some results there, but it really is such a science.

Ali: Absolutely.

Kathleen: No wonder people hire Facebook ads experts, because it’s a lot.

Ali: It really is. It is. And, that’s why even sometimes people say, well don’t you wanna learn other channels? And, yes. I’m interested in learning other channels. But, this changes all the time. There’s so much that you need to stay on top of that I have all I can to just keep working on clients and keep myself learning as well.

Kathleen: You are plenty busy.

Ali: Yes.

Kathleen’s Two Questions

Kathleen: Now there’s two questions I always ask my guests. And I’m gonna do a twist on one of them with you. I always ask, the first question is, company or individual. Who do you think is doing inbound marketing really well right now? But, you’re so deep in the Facebook ad space, I’m gonna amend that to be, company or individual. Who do you think is killing it with Facebook ads right now?

Ali: So, I am very privileged to have a great community. It’s a very similar community to the inbound community as well where we all support each other. We have our own Facebook groups that we participate in. We share the hacks and tips and tricks. So, there are a handful. I particularly love a few people. Scott Seward and Dee, they are Right Hook, and they’re out of Australia. And, they are just wonderful. They’re great with eCommerce. I love my mentors. I’ve learned from Kat Howell, who I would not know anything if it weren’t for Kat Howell.

Ali: And, then honestly, a lot of just my peers in the group. They’re wonderful. I work with them often, and we all have little bits of golden nuggets, I call them, that we share with each other, that helps. Because, like I said, some things do change. And, so we are constantly posting. But, there’s a really strong community out there. Kat Howell by far, has changed the way I approach Facebook ads.

Kathleen: Oh great. Now I think I know the answer to this, because I think you just said it. But, I’m gonna just double check anyway. With things changing so quickly, how do you stay up to date? Is it primarily through this group of … community of practice if you will?

Ali: Absolutely. So, there’s a couple of great groups out there. The Facebook ad hacks. So, Kat Howell has a couple of different varieties. I’m part of her mastermind group, and I could not imagine not being part of it. You can go through, she even has really great simple programs, Facebook ads that convert. I’ve gone through a lot of the different programs, but now I have this community. There’s other good communities out there too. So, actually, Scott and Dee, they started their own eCommerce heavyweights Facebook group. That’s another great one to be a part of.

Ali: Oh God. There’s some other really strong podcasts that are out there too. I can even help … I’ll grab a couple and give them to you if you want to post them.

Ali’s Favorite Podcasts and Facebook Groups:

The Ecommerce Influence Podcast eCommerce Heavyweights (Facebook Group) Facebook Ad Hacks (Facebook Group)

Kathleen: That would be great. I’m always on the hunt for more podcasts to listen to. I’m a total podcast junkie, which is probably why I have a podcast. Fantastic. Well, I’ll definitely include links to all of that in the show notes. But, if somebody is interested in learning more about this wants to ask you a question, wants to reach out to you, what is the best way for them to find you online?

Ali: They can find me on Facebook. I pretty much will become friends with everybody, because that’s what I do. I’m on LinkedIn as well. They can go through, I have some articles that are posted on the impact blog as well on Facebook ads. So, read through those as well. And, you can email me too.

Kathleen: Great. All right. Well, thank you so much, Ali. This has been super interesting. I mean, I still feel like my head spins every time we get to this level of depth of Facebook ads. But, every time I talk to you, I learn so much more. And, I’m sure that everybody listening feels the same. It’s really interesting.

Ali: Well, thank you for having me. I know I can go on and on. So, apologies if I rambled too much.

Kathleen: No. Don’t apologize. It was great.

Ali: Wonderful.

Kathleen: And, if you’re listening, and you liked what you heard, I would very much appreciate it if you would give the podcast a review. I know I say this every week, but it really does make a difference. So, if you go onto Apple Podcasts or whatever platform you listen on and leave a review that would be much appreciated. And, if you know somebody doing kick ass inbound marketing work, Tweet me @workmommywork, because I would love to interview them.

Kathleen: That’s it for this week. Thank you again for listening.

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