What We Learned From Expending $100 k On Facebook Ads


For a three-person digital marketing team like ours, the prospect of having a big ad budget seemed like a distant dream. So when we were suddenly devoted $100 K to spend on Facebook ads, we were positively giddy.

And unbelievably nervous.

As a lean SaaS startup, we have to be very wise with our marketing investments. Couple that with our low cost-per-sale ($ 24/ monthly for our starter plan ), and you can see that being cost-effective all there is spending on ads is a challenge.

In May of 2016, we had the honor of working with Facebook Canada. We received a small to be given to kickstart our advertising initiatives, and had the opportunity to spend two full days with one of their ad reps.

Other than working with the Facebook team, we are completely in-house. On one hand this was an advantage — since we could make changes to the program in seconds rather than days — on the other hand, we were on our own for creative, landing pages, and analytics.

We ran an early prototype campaign with some decent success. In fact, it performed in the same neighbourhood as our other digital advertising initiatives. Cool beans.

But that was just the start. We’d tasted success, and knew that we were only scratching the surface. So, naturally, we made a pitch to our company’s executive team to increase our digital marketing budget so we could prove that Facebook was a viable avenue for growth. Our commitment to the business: produce trials at a cost-effective rate of $50/ trial.

Our pitch was a success, and we find ourselves with a considerable ad budget. Now it was real — it was time to build out an end-to-end Facebook Ads strategy.


Admittedly, we were quite nervous. Our credibility was on the line.

Here’s what we objective up learning from that process, wrinkles and all. Read on to the end to watches our results.

Lesson 1: Fully commit resources or your cost-per-acquisition( CPA) will rise swiftly.


We received our first lesson early on. We had become complacent with the success of our ad creative in May 2016, and tried to replicate that again. Utilizing the same ad creative from AdWords, we launched on Facebook Ads. Initially, it worked. We produced trials at an acceptable rate.

But we mistakenly saw this initial success as a sign that we could define it and forget it. We went back to focusing on our other digital marketing strategies, like making organic content, while our CPAs gradually rose.

Facebook CPAs have a nasty habit of rising suddenly — I mean, literally blowing up overnight. One morning, we logged into our marketing dashboard and find that we were making trials at twice our target CPA of $50/ trial. This was crazy business, and we needed to act fast.


Fixing this problem took a lot of day and resources, and a few bellows with our dedicated Facebook Ads guru( shout-out to the brilliant Mike Empey ). The problem was Ad Frequency.

What happened was that our Facebook ad frequencyhad risen so high that our addressable market was seeing ads 3-5 times a day. Ugh. So of course CPAs rose accordingly — we were irritating people to no end.

We to work together to take two actions: first, we swapped in new creative. In fact, we created 5 new ads to push into market. This had an immediate impact, and gave us a deep understanding of how detrimental ad fatigue can be.

Second, and more importantly, we committed to a new process for our creative. We call it “the conveyor belt.” Here’s how it runs 😛 TAGEND Week 1: Design and launch new ad creative in 1-3 ad defines. Test and analyze outcomes. Design and launch new ad creative in 1-3 ad defines. Test and analyze outcomes. Week 2: Move all fluctuations to all ad situateds. Turn off old ads. Analyze initial results. Push all variations to all ad defines. Turn off old ads. Analyze initial results. Week 3: Picking winning variations from ad situates. Analyze and deconstruct outcomes. Pick winning fluctuations from ad sets. Analyze and deconstruct outcomes. Week 4: Assess week 1-3 learns. Apply those learning to new ad creative.

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