In partnership with Tourism Whistler we recently conducted a social ads experiment. It all began with a simple idea…

Concept: Start with who you know

We’ve been in the social media marketing industry for a long time, and Whistler’s been rocking Tourism industry for even longer. We both believe that in offline and more traditional online marketing, you always get better results when you start with who you know. Specifically targeted campaigns at past visitors and their families always generated more leads than broad promotional blasts to general geo-targeted audiences. So why should social be any different?

Hypothesis: Friends of fans will share their interests

We agreed that it made sense to assume that many people in Whistler’s existing fan network would have friends that shared similar characteristics. Whether they enjoy travelling, outdoor sports, or just relaxing in a beautiful place - friends of fans were highly likely to want to explore Whistler if they lived nearby and knew someone who’d been before.

How We Hacked Facebook Targeting and Increased Ad ROI by 700%

Method: Engage with fans and target their friends

Leveraging the Tradable Bits platform, Tourism Whistler and our ad targeting team developed the following plan:

  1. Engage with fans through an interactive contest app
  2. Build an audience in Tourism Whistler’s Fan CRM
  3. Target ads to friends with Facebook Custom Audiences
  4. Ask them to register in compelling mobile and web ads
  5. Auto-update audiences to remove friends who converted and add their friends into the roster. Not a single dollar wasted!

Results: 700% increase in ROI on ads

Compared to our control group of ads which:

  • Targeted past campaign participants
  • Used generic Whistler images and copy
  • Reached a small, specific audience

Our Optimized ads:

  • Targeted friends of fans and people like them
  • Catered ad copy and images based on past behaviour
  • Reached a larger ad audience, eliminating competition

Mind-blowing results:

  • 90% less cost per conversion
  • 57% of website clicks converted
  • 36% of mobile clicks converted

Discussion: What does this mean for the future of targeting?

“With the ad targeting available with Tradable Bits we were able to get our ads in front of the right audience, really leverage our ad spend and generate a strong ROI.” - Tania Music, Manager, Digital Content at Tourism Whistler. How We Hacked Facebook Targeting and Increased Ad ROI by 700%

Understand who your clients are

Before you even start thinking about expanding your client base, it’s essential to know who your existing fans are. Understanding where they live, who they talk to, what they like and how they interact with brands online is paramount to the success of your social media marketing. Your analytics should provide insight on individual fans as well as your overall audience, so you have a perfect picture of your community and how to reach them.

How We Hacked Facebook Targeting and Increased Ad ROI by 700%

Know how to leverage their networks

Tapping into each of your fans’ existing networks of influence gives you access to an average of 200 quality new leads per fan. Applying your knowledge of your current audience’s preferences when targeting their friends skyrockets you past your competitors because you already know what resonates with them. Not only will you make new prospects happier by speaking to them “in their own language”, you’ll save yourself hundreds of ad dollars by only paying for the attention of qualified leads.

How We Hacked Facebook Targeting and Increased Ad ROI by 700%

Make every ad dollar spent count

Don’t waste your money on people that don’t care. By targeting your fans, their friends and people like them, you guarantee a positive response. Even if every single fan doesn’t convert in the end, at least you planted a positive seed by relating to them in a way they appreciated, which increases your chance for conversion next time. Facebook is so saturated that the only way to break through the noise is talk to people who are already set to love your brand.

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