For many, Facebook advertising is an untamable beast.
Not only is it super competitive and constantly evolving, but it can also be flat our intimidating. With all those switches and levers, it can be hard to laser in on the tactics you need to optimize your advertising campaigns.
But in this episode of the Call to Action podcast, we’ll deconstruct a proven strategy that Matchnode, a Chicago agency, used to dramatically increase the ROI of their client’s marketing campaign.
You will learn:
- How using dedicated landing pages for their client’s Facebook ads allowed them to optimize for conversions instead of clicks – and why that ultimately lead to greater ROI.
- The magic word that boosted conversions on their landing page by 16% in an A/B test.
- A bird’s-eye view of what running a campaign looks like for Matchnode, from idea to execution to client approval.
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Read the transcript
In this episode: Dan Levy, Unbounce’s Content Strategist, interviews Brian Davidson, Co-founder of Matchnode.
Stephanie Saretsky: Hey everyone, it’s Stephanie Saretsky here from Unbounce and you’re listening to Call to Action, the podcast about creating better marketing experiences. For many, Facebook advertising is an untamable beast. Not only is it super competitive and constantly evolving, but it’s not great for lead gen and it can be hard to track conversions, especially if you’re a retail brand trying to get people to make a purchase in an actual real-world store. With all those switches and levers, it can be hard to laser in on the tactics you need to optimize your advertising campaigns.
Unbounce’s Content Strategist, Dan Levy, asked Brian Davidson, Co-founder of Chicago agency Matchnode, to deconstruct a proven strategy that they used to dramatically increase the ROI of a New Balance PPC campaign.
Dan Levy: So New Balance is an international brand, and you guys are a local marketing agency. Can you take me back to when you started working with New Balance Chicago as a client? How did you connect and what were the challenges that they came to you with?
Brian Davidson: The biggest challenge that we had when we first connected with New Balance especially in Chicago is their marketing tactics weren’t really brought into the digital age as of yet. They did a lot of things like radio broadcast advertising and they were focused on reach, a lot about coupons stuff coming in the mail. Digital really wasn’t on their plate. And the primary reason for that is that the New Balance Chicago shop didn’t actually have an ecommerce portal. Their primary marketing mission was to drive people to in-store visits, so as a result digital marketing didn’t really seem very obvious to them. But at the same time they’re pretty tech savvy people, and they knew that was the next wave coming down the pipe, and they had to jump onboard, but they weren’t totally sure of how they should get back onboard. So as a result there’s a little bit of apprehension in making that leap.
Dan Levy: So the first campaign that you ran with them was very Chicago. It involved using Facebook to offer discount clothes to people when the weather dropped below a certain temperature, right?
Brian Davidson: Below zero and below freezing and we had plenty of below zero days.
Dan Levy: Right. We’re based in Canada so I can definitely sympathize.
Brian Davidson: We can relate.
Dan Levy: How did you go about targeting those initial Facebook offers and what were the results of that first campaign?
Brian Davidson: Sure. Some of our initial targeting techniques were looking at the city of Chicago and targeting the city of Chicago plus ten miles and then crossing that with people that like the New Balance brand. We took a look at things like the customer list that they built up over time and looked at the exact zip codes of all their different customers. And there’s a surprising amount of zip codes of different buyers from all over the Chicago area that had been loyal customers throughout years. So targeting those specific zip codes within Facebook and also interested in New Balance. Then we started to look at things like competitive brands, people that were interested in different activities like running, different sort of exercise, cross-training.
And then we also started to look at different things within Facebook like uploading emails and creating similar audiences, looking at their web traffic and creating similar audiences to tell Facebook to go find more people like their existing buyers. And the initial results were that revenue numbers more than doubled the ad spend within the first month.
Dan Levy: Those are really solid results. But I know that you ran into some limitations with those Facebook campaigns, right?
Brian Davidson: Definitely limitations in some ways, but more from using the Facebook platform, and what could we expand from just using the Facebook platform. So initially what we did is we used Facebook offers, which are really great ad units offered by Facebook. But it doesn’t necessarily give all of the control to the marketer. When you claim an offer on Facebook – so I want ten percent from J. Crew or 20 percent off from New Balance, or from whatever brand I’m finding a Facebook offer for – when I claim that offer, the actual brand never receives my email as a customer. So as a result there’s a disconnect between being able to track who actually claimed offers and who actually then eventually redeemed them for in-store purposes.
Dan Levy: So Facebook keeps those email address to themselves in other words.
Brian Davidson: Exactly.
Dan Levy: Right.
Brian Davidson: Which obviously that brand and that store would definitely love to have those email addresses, and as a result, we weren’t really able to see a long tail to the campaign. Obviously New Balance, like a lot of brands, is gonna collect your email address, and they’re gonna point you to different drip campaigns. But there’s no difference – they weren’t able to do that with these types of campaigns even though we’d see hundreds and hundreds of people claiming the offers. Obviously only a portion of them are gonna eventually end up in-store, but it would be very, very helpful for them to have the emails of those that didn’t redeem the offer. So that was a big limitation.
Dan Levy: You said sending that ad traffic to mobile responsive landing pages was the game changer for you guys. How so?
Brian Davidson: The biggest thing we’re able to do now is instead of just using an offer, we’re able to send them to a landing page. And the majority of Facebook traffic right now — especially cheap traffic — is within that mobile news feed. The majority of users are mobile as opposed to desktops. So as a result it’s much, much easier to reach them. However, the best way to make a very effective Facebook ad is to optimize that ad for website conversion (using a pixel) rather than a website click. And once you’re sending someone to an actual web page, you’re able to then pop-up a thank you page and fire that pixel. And that allowed us to optimize the ads for conversion rather than just a click, which was a huge game changer for us. And then at the same time we were able to grab that email address, and there’s definitely a tangible value to that email address in long-term.
Dan Levy: Right. And just to be clear, we usually make the distinction between normal web pages and landing pages, but when Facebook says a website conversion that can mean a landing page conversion as well, right? It just means a conversion on a page that’s not native to Facebook itself.
Brian Davidson: Correct – it’s just a way to fire that pixel, but you’re not able to do so obviously within a Facebook offer.
New Balance is a nationally if not near nationally-known brand, so it was very, very important for us to take advantage of that, and the brand equity that they’ve built up over years. Their national branch has obviously spent thousands upon thousands upon probably millions to their overall websites and optimized those throughout the years. So it was very important for us to keep that look and feel of that brand. The New Balance brand here in Chicago has been here for over 20 years, so it was very important to continue that brand that has been penetrating these markets for years and not seeing a very different page from what their existing customers were used to seeing.
So what we did is we took the overall branding from New Balance’s national site that obviously had a lot of brand equity built up within both the area as well as internationally. And we took that shell as far as its header, its colors, its feel, its look, and then we replaced its main banner image with different campaign-specific imagery. For instance, one of the really cool things that New Balance in Chicago does that we didn’t know is that full-time they always have a military and servicemen discount at any of their stores. So we’re able to leverage both that discount as well as the New Balance “made in America” angle to brand the specific landing pages in the basic overall shell of New Balance’s national brand within an American and military branding and imagery within the actual landing page. And we advertised it specifically to Veterans on Facebook, and when they entered their email they received a discount code specifically to go to a store and redeem that code for their discount.
Dan Levy: You mentioned that there was a value put on that email itself. Can you talk about this campaign and what it meant from a lead gen perspective?
Brian Davidson: Sure. From a lead gen perspective, we were able to generate leads about three or four times from what we were doing previously, as well as their actual email newsletter — just a Constant Contact email newsletter — going out to all their buyers, driving thousands of dollars of in-store purchases every single month. So we saw about a three to one ROI in real-time collecting in email versus just sending them to a Facebook offer. But just to unpack the Facebook ad advertising platform and how it works and how we were able to sync it with Unbounce — there’s a couple of main levers that you’re pulling within the Facebook ad manager/network. And you need an objective, whether it be offer claims, website clicks, page likes, video views, conversion, etc.
And then aligning that properly with an audience, and then proper creative and a budget, and when you’re able to align these four different levers as well with a landing page, you’re getting very, very effective advertising and very, very cheap clicks as far as your bidding for actual conversions. Your audience is very clearly defined within a zip code that their creative on your Facebook ad is very, very well-aligned with your creative on your landing page, and you’re again firing that conversion on that landing page, and it’s tying the whole thing together. And when you get that mix just right — and again, I can’t stress enough how important it is for that mix to work right on mobile or it’s just gonna be too expensive to run on desktop — you really set yourself up for success and the results really can start to snowball.
And then the second big piece to that is we took a look at all of their links to various ecommerce channels that the majority of people are probably looking for online. And we replaced those with offline conversion type of imagery, so maps to stores, phone numbers, customers talking about in-store visits, talking about the advantages of going in-store (as far as free fittings and different things that the New Balance brand offers in-store), the staff, the location, the history in Chicago. So a great mix of that national brand imagery and the look and feel of the website but all the conversions based on brick and mortar, local walk-in, talk to your friendly New Balance retailer.
Unbounce makes it incredibly easy to — essentially what we tell our designer is we want to clone this – and then I’m not a designer. I jump in and I start moving buttons and start saying bullet point here, rewriting headlines, and then we enter it right back to her and she tells us, “Oh this looks pretty and it looks great.” And we do it overnight and we send it over to the client, they say, “This perfectly fits our brand nationally, fits all of our brand guidelines. You’re good to go.”
Dan Levy: You actually do it overnight?
Brian Davidson: We turn around our home landing pages shockingly fast. We do turn around a lot of pages overnight. As a team, we put them up on our Chromecast and start hacking at them ourselves, and then a lot of our designers that we work with are overseas. So we send them a messy version and we come back to the office in the morning and it is ready to go.
Dan Levy: Oh cool, so you actually when you say you put on your Chromecast you’ll have like the page on the big screen and they’ll all be working on it together.
Brian Davidson: We all huddle around it and we’re pointing at different parts of the page and “What about this over here?” and “My eye is drawn to this corner of the page. What if we tried changing this color here?” And then of course we’ll disagree at times. So we just quickly clone that and launch a B version.
Dan Levy: Very cool. So you guys have been able to replicate the success of that original veterans campaign by tweaking your landing page for other New Balance promotions like — I know one was for health awareness month and different products like kids’ apparel and clothing. Can you talk about how you’ve optimized the formula along the way using both Facebook’s algorithm and some optimization on the landing page site?
Brian Davidson: So constant tweaks on both sides — changing our audience within Facebook. The more emails we collect, the better our lookalike audiences are gonna look within Facebook. Obviously then we’re able to retarget those people as well with their actual email addresses and send them to future campaigns. It’s very, very easy to reach those people, so our audiences continue to get better and better. And the other thing we’re doing within Unbounce is our landing pages are becoming more and more specific. For instance, we recently just launched new landing pages for each store, so we’re looking at Facebook and looking at specific zip codes around each store using their new interface to quickly just highlight miles radius around the actual store and dropping pins to target specific zip codes.
And then we’re directing them directly to a landing page for that specific store. For instance, Hyde Park is their newest store, so we launched a campaign specifically for Hyde Park residents — specifically with a Hyde Park landing page. And as a result the cost of conversion, the cost of grabbing that email has gone down 25 percent.
Dan Levy: Okay, wow. One cool A/B test that you guys ran in Unbounce that caught my eye involved boosting conversions by I think it was around 16 percent by testing that ever powerful word free. Can you talk about that test and why you think it was so successful?
Brian Davidson: Sure. As I mentioned a little bit earlier, one of the advantages you have going in-store for New Balance is New Balance is one of the few stores and few brands left that carry actually athletic shoes in different widths. And they’ll actually measure your width in-store. They’ll take a look how you walk in-store, and they offer basically a free fitting. It’s not very well known nationally. It’s definitely not as well known locally as we’d like it to be, but they do offer that. So we created a landing page talking about “Come in for your fitting!” and immediately we started to get feedback both in-store as well as people commenting on our Facebook threads and on our Facebook ads with, “How much does this cost?” So that led us immediately to change that they offer prominently that this is free, and immediately we started to see a huge boost in conversion — as you mentioned, 16 percent.
Dan Levy: It’s funny, we see that on our end as well when it comes to promoting ebooks and stuff. We think it’s obvious that this is a free ebook but it’s not necessarily, and just by emphasizing that in your landing page copy you could really boost conversions by quite a bit.
Brian Davidson: Sure. And it’s obviously really important to pay attention to that offline feedback in some ways.
Dan Levy: I’m always interested in what the process of landing page optimization looks like between marketers like you and designers and of course the clients you’re serving. We’ve already talked about the design aspect a little bit, but can you take me through what running a campaign like these looks like from the idea to the execution to the clients getting onboard and approving it?
Brian Davidson: Well, as I mentioned a little bit earlier, these guys are very tech savvy, so they really have a good idea of tactics they’d like to try, so they’re always coming to us with new ideas — and they have a lot of legacy campaigns that have performed very well for them over time. The trick has always been adapting these legacy ideas as well as possibly new ideas in thinking, “What’s the hook to get this to work on Facebook, and how does this align with an audience on Facebook, how does this align with Facebook’s targeting?” And once we have a pretty good idea of how to reach a specific target with a specific message, it’s really easy to design a landing page at that point because you have such a good idea of the audience and what you want them to see when they hit that landing page. So as I mentioned earlier, it’s very collaborative for our agency in getting literally around an Unbounce page and pointing out how we want things to look on page.
Dan Levy: Yeah, I mean a lot of boutique agencies out there I think would love to include landing page creation and optimization as part of their services but might have trouble selling the idea to their clients who might be maybe a little bit less tech savvy, not know the difference between a landing page and a website, which they might have already paid you to build as an agency.
Brian Davidson: Sure.
Dan Levy: How would you go about communicating the value of landing pages to a skeptical client?
Brian Davidson: Well, I think the first challenge you have to explain to a client is what a landing page is. I’ve been in meetings where I’m talking about landing pages and I see eyes gloss over because they don’t know what it is. But they don’t want to interrupt a meeting and ask you that. So it’s really important I found to actually show them an example of a landing page. So when we were getting started with New Balance, we actually mocked up a landing page. It wasn’t the prettiest thing in the world, but we pointed out the advantages of taking away ecommerce links and put a map in that place and they started understanding.
And we also just had them Google any product out there. Google people’s services and you’re gonna come to a landing page, and when you click on that paid ad, and they immediately start to understand that in their personal lives they’re always clicking on different ads from the search campaigns, and they’re always ending up on landing pages. And they start to connect the dots — of course, every brand does it this way because we want them to convert and we want that path to conversion to be so simple. And then it really starts to click once they understand what a landing page is. They start to say, “I want a landing page,” and you say, “Hey we’ve got a great tool — it’s easy to create them for you.”
Dan Levy: Very cool. This is the Call to Action podcast, so we like to give our guest a chance to include a bit of a CTA of their own. What advice would you give to agencies and the end brands out there when it comes to running great social campaigns using landing pages?
Brian Davidson: Like I mentioned a little bit earlier, alignment is so important — aligning the campaign objective with a great audience with great creative with a landing page that is mobile responsive and can be tweaked on a constant basis – is really the most important thing. Your campaign doesn’t need to be huge. It doesn’t need to be thousands of dollars in ad spend. You’re able to reach a lot of people very cheaply, and creating a landing page isn’t some magic trick or very, very dev-intensive project. In fact, I built literally our first website for our business using Unbounce because it was so simple that we needed to get our homepage up basically at that point for our company. And again I’m not a designer, but I jumped in there, and I was able to hack it Unbounce and get something live. So there’s really no reason why any company should be running ads to their homepage of their website when there are tools out there that are available to create your own landing pages cheaply and very quickly.
Dan Levy: You said it better than I ever can. Thank you so much, Brian, for taking the time to chat and for running us through this strategy that I think a lot of other marketers can learn from.
Brian Davidson: I had a great time and anyone listening to this has any questions feel free to give me a call. We’re happy to chat.
Stephanie Saretsky: That was Brian Davidson, co-founder of Matchnode.
Thanks for listening!
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