Is your company not growing as fast as you’d like? Are you struggling to create profitable ad campaigns on social media? Would you like to tap into the brain of a proven expert?
On the show with me today is Erin Corn, founder of Shorebird Media. Prior to launching her agency, Erin worked for Facebook, Instagram, and Amazon – the ultimate trifecta for online advertising and commerce.
Watch the video above, read the transcript, or listen to the audio file below and benefit from the knowledge that Erin shares…and then leave a comment or question for her to answer.
Click here to read transcript
Trent: Hey everybody. Welcome back to another episode of the Bright Ideas Podcast. As always, I am your host Trent Dyrsmid and I’m here to help you discover what is working in the world of eCommerce and online businesses today by interviewing very smart people who have plenty of experience in our space so that we can grab onto that knowledge and implement it in our business. And today’s interview is no different. My guests on the show today is Erin Corn. Erin brings specialized knowledge from her 15 years of experience at companies including these, these three little ones you might not have heard of them, Facebook, Instagram, and Amazon. So she’s worked at some of the, some of the coolest places to work in our space and she specializes in performance marketing to deliver higher returns for direct to consumer businesses. And I’m going to welcome Erin in just a minute, but before we do that, we do have a word from today’s sponsor.
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Erin: Thank you for having me.
Trent: So in your own words, of course we know now where you’ve worked, but in your own words, who are you and what do you do?
Erin: Yes. So, um, as we mentioned, I am a digital marketer focusing on performance marketing. I started shorebird media a little over a year ago to help direct to consumer brands scale using paid social strategies. And really my focus is on helping brands scale, but also helping them deliver a higher return on their investment when they are running ads on Facebook and Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, which are all kind of part of that paid social space.
Trent: And of the three big companies that you worked at, which was the last one you worked at?
Erin: The most recent was Amazon, where I was managing a team of 11 account managers on the entertainment category.
Trent: Okay. So today we’re going to talk about a result that you achieved for one of your clients, I think someone, someone or a brand named Dudley Stevens.
Trent: And then we’re gonna kind of go backwards and unpack everything that you did to achieve that result. So tell me about the result. First of all, what was it that you did for them?
Erin: Sure. So Dudley Stevens., um, I’ve consistently delivered over a 40 return on ad spend for them. And what that means is obviously the return they’re seeing on their ad spend on Facebook and Instagram. They are a apparel brands based out of Connecticut. Um, and they’re really focused on, you know, active lifestyle but also providing sustainable clothing to women. And so they have just really skyrocketed on paid social. Um, and it’s, it’s been a really positive experience for them and for me working together.
Trent: So before working with you, they weren’t getting enough traffic. They weren’t getting enough customers, enough sales. That was the typical problem that they had
Erin: Before working with me. They actually had not done any paid social at all. Um, and so they knew that there was an opportunity for them to start testing and scaling because they’d seen so much success organically. But, um, you know, Facebook and Instagram in many ways had become more of a pay to play space. And so they knew to take that next step, they needed to start investing in advertising.
Trent: Okay. So they come to you, they say we want to start doing paid social. You say S okay, I’ll, I’ll work with you. Where, where does it start? What’s the very first thing you do? I don’t imagine you just sat down and created a campaign.
Erin: Right? So really the first thing I do with any client I work with is getting very clear about what success looks like to them. So understanding um, their business model, what their average order value is and then what a reasonable cost per purchase does for them. Because at the end of the day we want to make sure that if we are running ads and we’re scaling the company, that it’s also profitable to them. And then also level setting on you know, what to expect since they are new to running ads and pizza shul, understanding the metrics that are important to their campaigns based off of their goals. Their goal was really focused on driving more purchases but also awareness of their brand. So helping educate them on the different stages of the funnel, how to run ads through those different stages and how to understand success metrics along the way. So there’s a lot of education, especially when you’re new to running ads, but more most importantly is really being very, very clear, a friend about what success looks like to the customer. Cause you can easily start running ads and at the end of the day if you haven’t had that conversation, their thought and expectations of success can be very different than mine. So I always try to have those upfront.
Trent: Okay. And what did they say success looked like for them? Was it a measurement of revenue or profits or impressions or what?
Erin: Um, really it was my working with them to help them establish that. I think they had some general idea that they wanted to drive more revenue. They wanted to increase the volume of purchases, but how do they measure that on Facebook was something that I walk them through. They’re extremely savvy, extremely, um, successful business women. Um, but you know, this is a different space. And so helping them understand, you know, a return on ad spend of three to four greater is considered positive. Helping them understand this is your average order value and how will we back into what would be a positive cost per purchase for you. And so there was a lot of education and working together to help them understand, you know, what is a positive metric and where it would be have to make changes to make sure that we’re optimizing. Um, and so they didn’t necessarily have all those goals in place, but helping fact-find and work with them and also educate them on what performance looks like on social helps us kind of get to a place where we were able to establish some primary goals for their business.
Trent: Okay. So to sum all of that up, step one is setting intentions so you don’t have the right expectations. They’re not going to be happy, you’re not going to be happy. And it’s okay. When you started with them, they, I’m assuming, had organic traffic to their website. Were they already pixeling or was there not even a pixel installed on the site?
Erin: They did have a pixel and they didn’t have Google analytics set up, which is very important to, you know, the business, helping them understand their customer journey and then what organic referral chapter like they’re getting from social. Um, and I think seeing that a lot of that traffic was organically coming from Instagram also probably pushed them to say, well if we start advertising this can only be better than what we’re seeing right now.
Trent: Yup. So was Instagram the first channel that they started advertising on or would or another, let me proceed that with a different question. Did they have the ability to start retargeting right away? They must have because they had a pixel or, and did they focus, did you focus on retargeting initially or did you focus on cold or both? What? What did the, once you’ve set expectations and it’s actually kind of put fingers to keyboard and start creating campaigns, what types of campaigns did you initially create?
Erin: So when we first started working together, I recommended that we run across both Facebook and Instagram to allow the algorithm to show us what channel was more efficient. And that’s something I recommend for all of my clients because we all have assumptions going into this, but I always want the data to speak for itself. Um, and in terms of the campaigns that I built out, we really mapped it. Again, it’s their ideal customer and understanding who they want to reach and the goals they want to achieve. While they wanted to drive purchases, they really want it to also expand the awareness of their brand in the United States. They’re very well known in the Northeast, but they really wanted to build out, um, you know, the awareness of their brand. So I really actually built out three different champions at the same time targeting different audiences, starting with cold traffic as you mentioned.
Erin: So I’m building out ideal customer personas and using that to build out interest targeting and using lookalikes off of their pixel to find people similar to those who have visited their website. Um, from there we build out warm traffic, so people who may have engaged with their profiles previously or visit their website they had not purchased. So creating lookalikes often that, um, pixel data and using interest targeting as well. And then finally, like you mentioned, remarketing, so leveraging the pixel to remarket to people who have visited their website but also more specifically added to cart within the past 70 14 days but did not purchase. So those abandoned carts are very valuable and those are people that we want to capture during that time period. So we can help kind of give them that final nudge to make the purchase or just remind them that, you know, you may have added to cart but didn’t complete the purchase for some reason.
Trent: Okay. So let’s start with the low hanging fruit, which would be the pixels on the retargeting. So you were, if I heard correctly, you were targeting predominantly people who, uh, abandoned their cart that correct. So in order to be able to do that and they’ve got the one pixel on their site. Um, was there any thing else that they had to put in place to be able to tell the pixel, Facebook, whatever, that this person has abandoned the cart and therefore they need to see whatever campaign you’d created?
Erin: Yes. So when you place the pixel on your website, I’m, you were prompted by Facebook to create conversion events. And so placing the pixel on your say allows you to track overall who’s visited your site, but then these standard events as Facebook defines them are really those actions that are taken on your website that are important for you as a business to track and segment. And for a directed consumer business that would include, um, and is she will add to cart, initiate checkout, add payment information and purchase. And then, you know, the more broad is just people who have visited your websites, a website, visitors and segmenting that traffic out helps you really retarget people along the journey. Um, and adding to cart is a really strong signal. Someone that obviously is interested in making a purchase and they may just be that, that remarketing mass to do so. Um, the reason why I recommend adding those other events like initiate checkout or purchase is that the closer you get to purchasing those stronger the signals. So if you have a large enough audience that you’re able to even, um, retarget people who initiate checkout or added purchase information even after the add to cart, that’s ideal. But we really have to work with a segment of an audience that’s large enough that retargeting’s impactful and in many cases add to carts the best place to start.
Trent: Okay. So for the people who added to cart but didn’t complete checkout and you’re running campaigns on both Instagram and Facebook for that audience. Okay. And what is the message saying to them?
Erin: Yes. So on, in this case, for Dudley Stevens, they’re not a brand that discounts or does really any type of promotion there. Um, that’s just not part of their business model. And so what we do in our, um, in our retargeting is we’re using dynamic ads, which is really plugging into chaff upon Shopify or your other sources, your catalog on your website to serve them on images of the actual app, the product that they added to their cart. So that way it sparks the interest of the consumer because they, they’re familiar with the product. They know. Yes. That’s what I was looking at. And the messaging is really talking about, you know, making that final purchase or back in stock. Your favorites are back in stock. So really just kind of speaking to that customer, knowing that they want to make that purchase and showing them the most relevant, um, imagery we can. Um, in many keys, other brands had done more promotional discounts or free shipping opportunities.
Trent: Yeah. So you’re essentially advertising reminder, Hey, don’t forget to buy this thing. But because of the policies of the brand, there’s no scarcity in that ad at all. There’s no incentive. There’s no, why wouldn’t they do that? Because scarcity is such a powerful psychological trigger.
Erin: You know, I feel like they have established a brand where they just want to make sure that, you know, they’re, they have actually established scarcity in a different way. They do what they call drop days. And so they have days of every week or biweekly where they say, this is our new draft. It’s a new collection, it’s limited inventory and it’s been extremely successful for them. So they have actually leveraged scarcity but in a different way than you would with potentially a sale or, or something like that. So that it is a tactic they used for what they call their drop days and it’s worked very well for them.
Trent: Okay. So with respect to retargeting, is there anything else that you did for them that we have not discussed or was it pretty much just trying to recover abandoned carts?
Erin: Um, well I would say just testing, even with the creative has been very important. So dynamic ads as I mentioned, which pulled from your catalog, there is an opportunity to use carousel ads, which I’m sure many people familiar with. But then also collections, which is something that’s just available on Instagram right now. And that’s worked extremely well because it almost serves as a visual storefront for your store. Um, you can have an image that really highlights the brand and then you can have shoppable collection under it. And that’s been really successful. And I had found that that’s often that the winner in terms of the type of ad that’s working well for retargeting. I would also say for, for brands that might not have a strong mobile presence, those are extremely useful because it does serve kind of as an interstitial landing page. You don’t have to have, have a mobile friendly landing page. Facebook leverages, um, they make ads to be, will allow people to view your products without going to your website necessarily. So okay. I’m just highlighting some of those creative opportunities has been useful.
Trent: Okay. And just as a side note, are you creating and managing all of the campaigns for Facebook and Instagram directly within the Facebook ads manager or are you using a third party tool?
Erin: I am using directly through ads manager and I would say that there is definitely positives to using a third party tool. But having worked at Facebook and Instagram and, and leveraging the different tools, I found that I’m just more adept at using ads manager and really all of those tools are overlay. So for me I’ve just found that it’s been easier to work directly within the platform.
Trent: Okay. And for someone who maybe isn’t as familiar with Facebook ads manager, um, and I know I have limited experience and I know years ago the interface was not as as nice as it is now. Is there any disadvantage to using a third party tool as an overlay?
Erin: Um, I would just say some of the disadvantages are similar to, you know, when ads manager is acting up or networking, the same is going to happen with your third party tools. I would say, well it comes down to costs. Um, you know, there is a fee associated with using these third party tools. There’s latency at times. Um, but if you have multiple parties leveraging ads manager and your organization and you just want to have a dashboard that’s much more digestible in terms of understanding analytics and audiences, I found that those third party tools can be useful because it’s a lot more polished in terms of the way that you look at metrics and the reports that you can get. So there are absolutely positive. That’s why these Facebook agencies exist. Um, but for my purposes is it managing ads and pulling reporting, it’s worked well for me to just use that. The native tools.
Trent: You’d think Facebook could get their act together? Yeah.
Erin: That it says he prioritization.
Trent: Okay. Uh, so we’ve covered now re-targeting, I assume there’s nothing we haven’t talked about. So what was the next, so you, you said there was three types of campaigns when I originally asked you the question, there was some cold traffic. So tell me now about, uh, the next type of campaign that you for them.
Erin: So we talked about remarketing. We could start a cold traffic. So cold traffic is really assuming that this audience has not heard of Dudley Stevens. Um, they are in their, um, target audience, but they might not be aware of what their brand is, what they offer, what their differentiator is. And so in order to build an audience for that, I leveraged interest targeting, which is kind of a core audience for Facebook. And so that, um, I worked, again, this was kind of an upfront conversation I have with a client who is your ideal customer? What are your competitor brands? Um, what’s their lifestyle? And so I built out personas using Facebook’s demographic and interest targeting to really get at their ideal customer. And I built out multiple audiences to test against each other. So for example, um, one persona we built out was the act of mom who’s affluent, um, who can, you know, afford the type of product that they have.
Erin: And so using, um, college education, household income, age, um, location, and then layering on interests of brands that are similar to Dudley Stevens or within that consideration set we built out, um, different types of personas. I also use lookalike audiences of people who are similar to those who I’ve engaged with Dudley Stevens, Facebook or Instagram content, um, again, that uses the pixel data. Um, and so that’s cold traffic. Those are people that may not have heard of deli Stevens and haven’t actively visited the site. And to ensure that we are not wasting any ad spend, we make sure she may exclude past website visitors from all of those audiences. So there’s no overlap or messaging past customers with a, an awareness message.
Trent: So when you say you built out personas, just explain what you meant and how you did it.
Erin: Sure. So, um, a lot of times when I talk to brands and I, and I asked them who their ideal customer is, it’s usually more surface level, location, age and gender. But what I’m really trying to get at is what is that person’s interests, their lifestyle. Um, outside of looking for a shirt or a specific product, what does their day to day look like? Are they parents? Are they commuters? Are they working? Um, what are some of the brands they follow that they may have nothing to do with you? So in Dudley Steven’s case, an example would be, um, you know, they may have a certain brand of car that they like to drive or they’re, um, frequent international travelers that has nothing to do with the fact that this brand sells, um, performance fleece, but it’s all mixed up. Part of that person’s persona and having that complete persona helps us also understand the ideal type of messaging networks. Once we understand what that person looks like, what they’re interested in, um, one being sustainability, making sure that that’s in our messaging and seeing that that resonates with the audience. Um, and I think that for Dudley Stevens, that’s really been a value proposition for them. Their audience cares about sustainability, they care about locally made products. And so we’ve also built that into the personas that we’re targeting.
Trent: So did Dudley have all that data already or were there ways that you helped them to uncover it? And if it’s the latter, how did you do that?
Erin: Yeah, and it really, what they did have that data. I think not document it. So it was really kind of digging further and further and providing them with some suggestions and just getting their take on what works. But tools I would recommend is once they gave me some competitor brands that they consider in the consideration set, I leveraged um, audience insights on Facebook, which is a free tool anyone has access to it with ads manager where you can plug in the cage of a brand and it will show you what type of audience calls that that page. So for example, Nike, they played that on, you might see that that age group is 25, so 45 males, what they’re interested in in that can inform some of the targeting I used for, for this brand. If they don’t have something in mind.
Trent: Okay. So you’re not doing surveys and customer focus groups and all that. You’re literally just looking at the data that Facebook is giving you for any competitive brand that you want to look at using audience insights.
Erin: Yes, and I would say that customer surveys and that information is always helpful. But for my purposes, I use some of those tools just to help be more efficient and build out the campaigns.
Trent: Okay. So one of the things that we talked about in this mastermind that I was in this weekend was ways to uncover the specific language that your target market uses does. And we talked about manual and survey ways to do that. Are there any ways to shortcut what is a somewhat laborious process using audience insights or any other tools that you’re aware of? Because obviously it’s, we call it the, the waiter theory. Like no waiter ever walked up to a table in a restaurant and didn’t make a sale, right? And no waiter ever walks up and says, you need the salmon, you should get the salmon, the salmon’s the best. I really think you should get the salmon. Are you ready to order the salmon? They walk up and they say, what do you want? And then you tell them what you want and they feed it back to you and they say, Oh, so you want the steak and you want it medium and you want it with a baked potato. And you say yes and a sale was made because you sold them using the exact same words that they told you, which is obviously important from a marketer’s perspective. Are there any ways that you know of, to try and accomplish figuring out exactly what those words are for Dudley’s customers?
Erin: Yes. Um, that’s a really great question. So there’s two parts. That one is, um, being clear about what Dudley Stevens as a brand wants to portray. So what’s kind of their tone of voice? What do they want to message? How do they want to speak to their consumers in their own minds and what do we want to avoid saying about their brand? But then on the flip side, like you mentioned how to speak to their, their consumers, I would say a lot of that was informed by their organic presence already. And they had a really strong organic presence on Instagram and Facebook and they had a strong consumer base and customer base. And so understanding what content worked well or organically on their pages for Facebook and Instagram really helps inform what type of content we wanted to use in their ads. Um, but I would also say it is a lot of tests and learning.
Erin: Um, making sure that, I think when people think about testing ads, they think about creative videos and images, but it really is important to test different types of language and messaging. And your ads with all things remain the same because just this small tweak of the, the headline or the messaging can really make or break a sale. Um, and so I would say it’s a lot of people go out and they put out an ad with one headline and if it doesn’t work, they think, well, Facebook ads don’t work. And I was challenge you to say, you know, have you tried different iterations? Have you tried coming in at different angles with different value propositions? And so I think that that’s useful, but it has to start with the persona has to start with what is important to your, your ideal audience, what are their challenges, what are their priorities and work from there.
Trent: So that is actually a great segue to my next question. When creating a campaign, obviously you want to be split testing all sorts of things. In the two things that I’m going to guess you would want to split test the most are going to be the headline and the image. Would that be a safe to say? Okay, so when you’re creating these campaigns for cold traffic in a given can’t, and I want you to get really in the weeds here. In a given campaign you’re going to have multiple ad sets and then within each ad set you’re going to have multiple ads. So first off, how many headlines and how many images are you going to split test? Do you split test them both at the same time and are you split testing them in one ad set or across multiple ad sets? How does all that work?
Erin: Yeah, so the first thing I would say is that over the past year, five to five years or so, Facebook has gotten its algorithm, has gotten a lot more savvy in terms of performing and driving the right type of customer to your website. It used to be that in order to be an effective Facebook advertiser, you had to run 20 different split tests and AB test and you had to create, you know, 40 iterations of an ad and that really showed the strength of a strong advertiser. Facebook has really made things simpler for businesses, which is great news for all of us. And so what I would say though as a recommendation is start with one thing. So if you want to test, do a split test or potentially with your messaging, keep your creatives and images the same and just change the messaging to see what will work.
Erin: So you can isolate one variable. If you have multiple images, multiple ad, it’s really hard for you to walk away and say, well it was this one variable that drove performance, um, within ad sets their ads. And I would recommend having at least three to five ads within an ad that you don’t want to have too many running at one time. Cause again, it’s very difficult for you to engage what’s driving performance. But you also want to give Facebook the room to optimize appropriately. This is also based off of your budget. If you’re spending $10 on an ad set, you don’t want to have 20 ads because each of them will get a few cents. Um, so obviously this is not a hard and fast rule for all advertisers, but you have to keep in mind that do you have enough ads available for Facebook to optimize against and be able to find that ideal ad that’s going to work for you. Um, and so it is a little bit of um, testing and learning, but generally I would say have three to five per ad set is a best practice.
Trent: Okay. So for this campaign that we’re talking about now, when you hit live and the campaign live and you put a budget behind it, I would assume that Dudley Stephens was sensitive on, you know, ad spend and return on ad spend. And was the campaign unprofitable on day one? And if it was, how many days did they allow Emily, walk me through how long did it take for the campaign to be at least break even? And let me back up. Was the objective of this campaign to generate a sale? I assume that it probably was.
Erin: Yes. So that the objective was to generate sales, but also there was, you know, very much interest to just also drive awareness as I mentioned. Um, [inaudible] I would say within the first week we were generating sales. Um, and so we broke even relatively quickly, which, you know, was a Testament to their audience, but also to just the targeting was really effective in their messaging and all work together very well. Um, and so I think because they had add the pixel on their site for some time and they had, um, a high enough amount of traffic, uh, for me, what started to show results quickly was the remarketing, which is typical for a lot of campaigns. That’s your, um, high intent audience. It’s already raised their hand and said they’re interested in purchasing. Um, so we started to see, um, you know, positive returns from the remarketing audience, but not too shortly after, um, the consideration ad sets restraining to drive performance for deadly Stevens.
Erin: And so, um, I think it’s just showed that all of those pieces were working together because the awareness campaigns were driving people into the funnel, into the consideration set and down the down into the remarketing audience. And, um, by having that awareness campaign, it was really important to continue to drive scalable results. I know you didn’t ask this question, but when mistake, I often see advertisers even, you know, large advertisers make is they really focus on the bottom. Just keep remarketing, remarketing. Um, and so you can only have so large of a pool if you’re not building out your audience with awareness. So, um, people want to keep their costs low and they just keep remarketing to the same audience, but you need to build out that funnel and awareness campaigns as a way to do that.
Trent: So another great segue, cause you use the word funnel. So with this awareness campaign in the consideration phase, if I clicked the ad, am I going directly to the product detail page? Okay. So you’re hoping to click right through to an order and then you’ve got retargeting campaigns that probably target me. If I didn’t add to cart, I did add to cart, I didn’t fish check, finish checkout. You’ve got retargeting campaigns for all of those that are essentially, cause we talked about no scarcity saying Hey come back and buy this thing. Correct.
Erin: That’s right. And just to make sure I answered your first question correctly, the awareness campaigns go to the collection page or that main page. In many cases they don’t go straight to the product page, but the consideration pages do. Um, so I want to make sure that they’re aware of the brands. Um, the, the breadth of the collection with the awareness campaigns. So we don’t go directly to a specific product for awareness, but we do for the other campaigns.
Trent: So in essence, really the objective of the awareness campaign is to just get a pixel installed so you can stay on a campaign like that in the space of this company that Dudley’s in. What are the CPMs look like?
Erin: Um, the CPMs, that’s something that I could probably pull up by the CPMs are usually, um, I want to say around a four to five and eight. It depends because it’s really based off of their objective and what, um, we’re looking at in terms of the stage that they’re spending. So while we’re talking I can pull up some.
Trent: Sure. And when you say four to five, are you talking four to five bucks per thousand.
Erin: Yes! That’s correct.
Erin: Um, and their cost per click is under a dollar, which is what I would recommend for any brands, even if it’s awareness.
Trent: Okay. So rule of, that’s where I’m trying to go with this as a rule of thumb for someone who’s listening and they’re thinking, Hey, I need to do this or I need to talk to my agency about doing this. You’re saying for an awareness campaign, their cost per click needs to be under a dollar.
Erin: That’s correct.
Trent: Okay. What about the cost to acquire an email address? Was that, was that one of the objectives? Cause obviously, you know, you can be couponing, which they don’t do, but actually, yeah. So let’s talk about that. Did they employ strategies to collect email addresses for people that had not yet made, made a purchase?
Erin: They have, that’s not been a priority of this campaign I think has been a byproduct of it. When they, when a new customer lands on their site, which is typical for a lot of Shopify sites [inaudible] they’re prompted, um, once they’ve spent enough time on that, the landing page to add their access for about 10% off. So I should say they don’t typically discount, but they do do it for email newsletters because they understand the importance of building an email list and nurturing it. Um, so that hasn’t been something that we’ve actively been targeting on building the email list and going for lead. But it has been part of, I think the awareness campaign, especially new people to their site or people in the consideration set that might be browsing, but they, you know, having that 10% has really kind of given them that final push to make the purchase. That answers your question.
Trent: It does. So do you happen to know what the cost to acquire any an email address was for them?
Erin: I do not have that. I have that has not been shared with me. But that’s something that I think I’ll go back and ask them just because they think it’s helpful for us to understand how is that performing against your different stages of campaigns and how have we seen that list grow.
Trent: Okay. And then you mentioned funnels. So you’re essentially building a marketing funnel using retargeting. If they’ve done this, show them this ad. If they’ve done this, show them this ad. If they’ve done this, show them this ad. Okay. Now when, let’s talk about scaling. Cause I know that scaling a campaign on Facebook is not as straightforward as people would like it to be. I’ve heard many, many, many, many stories of the minute you start pushing down the gas pedal on spend, all your metrics go and the whole thing falls apart. So what did, what are some of the best practices? Like where, where, what was the ad spend per day say in the first week and then what did it eventually ramp up to and how did you get from point a to point B?
Erin: Yeah. So I won’t get into very specifics of exactly their spend, but I would say that, um, you know, we started, um, in the four figures when we started spending so low, but they hadn’t given me a commitment of spending more if they saw the results. Um, and so what we did is once we started to see consistently positive results from our return on ad spend in cost per purchase, it was my recommendation to them that listen, for every dollar that you’re putting in, in essence, you’re getting $40 back in revenue. You really need to double down and invest because I can’t think of many channels that are as profitable as this. Yeah. It’s a great problem to have. And so I really tried to be, as you mentioned, gradual, that how I do that as a best practice and guidance, you know, is 20% per day of increasing the budgets a good place to start.
Erin: Because I do think that you need to do it gradually and slowly. You would think that as you invest more in Facebook, it would get easier to spend more because um, you know, you’re helping make more money. But it is also kind of balancing the Facebook algorithm and delivery system and making sure that you’re not putting too much, um, money in at once and kind of throwing off metrics. So when I would say is gradually increasing the spend and also gradually increasing your audience size, um, the lookalike audience of one to 2% matches. You know, when audience that you can look at. And what that saying is find people within one to 2% of my original audience that needs to grow as well. Because what can work it’s spending $5,000 a month won’t necessarily be as impactful if you’re spending 10 $20,000 a month. So taking those audiences that are working well and potentially broadening them to a two to 3% match or a three to five then and just testing new audiences along the way and knowing that, you know, there are going to be times where potentially the metrics won’t be in line with what you saw at the lower spend. But it’s still, um, you know, worth investing more in testing to see what’s going to be most beneficial.
Trent: And I take it, the issue here on the end of the algorithm is if you’re saying, Hey, you know, I’m going to spend 500 bucks a day and so Facebook’s algorithm curves out this audience and then you say, well now that worked, I want to spend 5,000 a day. The algorithm, for lack of a more technical term, gets confused and doesn’t know exactly who to show your ads to or what is it that causes campaigns to break when you try and scale them too quickly. [inaudible]
Erin: yeah, I think it’s, um, like you said, so Facebook using data on the pixel, I’m in the information yet as it starts to find similar people to those who have visited the website or have purchased Facebook says, okay, I’ll find more of those people. Um, and so it is, there is a learning that comes with it. And so as you put more and more money in the Facebook is delivering ads to more and more people. And so it could get to a point if you do it too quickly becomes inefficient because you’re saying Facebook put, you know, $50,000 worth of ads in front of people now and it hasn’t had a chance to kind of catch up and learn to figure out, um, we’ll tape of person and how to do that efficiently yet. So I think as you do it gradually, it gives the algorithm time to learn and then also seek out people within your audience that you’ve given them. But then there is also, like I just mentioned, the time when you’ve maybe maxed out your audience, you have an interest targeting ions that’s working great for you. And then you try to chuckle your investment in. If Facebook says, I’ve pretty much found everyone in this audience that it’s going to be an efficient purchaser. So that’s when you have to kind of expand your audience target.
Trent: And when you expand your audience target, I’m assuming you should set your expectations that your metrics are going to deteriorate slightly because you’re now not as focused as you were initially.
Erin: That’s right. And that’s something I set expectations with brands early. Um, the return on ad spend you get potentially when you’re saying $3,000 will not be the as when you’re spending $50,000, but of course you still need to be in green. Um, so just know that as you spend more in scale, your return on ad spend might go down, but it’s still a positive return on ad spend. It’s just there’s a balance there. Um, and your cost per acquisition or cost per purchase may go up as well. Um, but also you need to kind of find that balance of staying profitable, but also leaving room for, um, increasing costs lately.
Trent: Yup. Okay. So before we finish up, we’ve gone down in the weeds plenty and hopefully, uh, the audiences enjoyed that and got a lot from it. Some folks are going to be thinking, man, I don’t want to learn all that stuff. I need to go hire somebody. And I know from swimming in the circles that I swim in, there’s a lot of paid traffic consultants out there that don’t know what the hell they’re doing. Um, how does somebody who isn’t a paid traffic expert hire an agency without you’re hiring a crappy one?
Erin: Right. Um, that’s a really good question and I’m glad you asked it because in a lot of conversations I’ve had with clients, um, they’ve come off the heels of feeling like they, you know, signed up with someone who wasn’t having their best interests. So mine. So a few watch outs I would say is, um, when you ask a agency how much you should spend on Facebook or Instagram, what your monthly budget should be, if they immediately come to you with a number, that’s a red flag. You need to have any agency that really wants to understand your business metrics. What are your goals, which is success look like? What, um, what’s your cost per acquisition? What’s your return on ad spend goal? If they don’t know anything about your business and you’re starting to tell you how much she just spent on the platform to be successful, that’s a red flag because every business is different and many businesses can start relatively small and scale.
Erin: But if you have someone saying a blank, it seemed like that that would be a red flag. I would say stay away from vanity metrics. I know everybody’s very focused on likes and follows and I do think they have a place in the space, but try to avoid an agency that’s really pushing you to focus on engagement metrics like likes and follows and shares as a metric of success. Um, and then making sure that, you know, you have a fair understanding of how they’re charging you. Is it a percentage of ads them, which is very typical. Um, is it a monthly retainer? Just be very clear about, you know, their terms as to how they’re charging you as an agency. Um, what their, their cancellation terms are. Cause they’ve also found that as people have not seen the results they’ve wanted, they’re locked into a six months contract that they’ve signed.
Erin: And so just being really mindful of that, um, a lot of agencies or Facebook marketing partners, which means that Facebook’s, um, deem them a trusted resource and they’ve spent enough on Facebook to be able to be part of that. I’m not a Facebook marketing partner, but that has no, you know, say on whether I’m effective. I worked at Facebook and Instagram, but at this time, volume of ads I’m running right now hadn’t reached a threshold. So it doesn’t say that there aren’t people out there that aren’t preferred, but that it can also be a positive experience. Ask for case studies. I mean, key stays are extremely important. As for screenshots, ads manager, um, just do your homework. Don’t be afraid to ask questions because that’s the only way you can really trust me. He didn’t say in testimonials or referrals are always helpful.
Trent: All right, Erin will thank you so much for making some time to come and drop some knowledge bombs for my audience. There’s probably a couple of people listening who might want to reach out to you and the way for them to do that, I guess LinkedIn would be the easiest cause I can put a link to your LinkedIn profile in the show.
Erin: That would be great. And, and I’m always happy to be a resource.
Trent: Okay. Well again, it’s been a pleasure to have you on the show. Thanks so much.
Erin: Thank you.
Questions Asked During the Interview
[02:11] Who are you and what do you do?
[03:13] Tell me about an incredible result that your expertise played a role in achieving
[04:30] What was the first step you took to create this result?
[07:58] Tell me about the retargeting campaigns you created for them
[13:48] Tell me about your use of dynamic ads
[14:25] What is an Instagram collection?
[15:41] Do you use Facebook Ads Manager?
[17:31] Tell me about your cold traffic campaigns
[17:50] Did you use interest targeting?
[19:36] How did you build out the personas you tested?
[21:52] Tell me about exclusions from your campaigns
[22:14] How did you uncover the language your target market uses?
[25:00] Tell me about how you create and manage split tests
[26:38] How many ads should be in a ad set?
[27:45] How long did it take the campaign to break even?
[33:46] How did you scale up ad spend without breaking the campaigns?
[38:57] How does a brand find the right agency to work with?
[41:11] How should a brand expect to compensate an agency?
Erin Corn has been in digital marketing for the entirety of her 15-year career. Her focus is paid social, but during her career, she has branched into other areas of marketing – organic inbound, SEO, analytics, and beyond – in an effort to maximize success for her clients at Shorebird Media, the agency that she founded and helms.
Erin was born in Connecticut and studied Marketing at Loyola University in Maryland. After college, Erin spent 5 years in Boston, working on the marketing teams at Pearson Publishing, Advertising.com, and iProspect before heading west to Santa Monica, for a job with a team that focused on agency business at Yahoo.
That job was a springboard to Erin’s dream job, a position on the advertising team at Facebook. This was in 2012, right after the company went public. If you can believe this, just seven years ago, Erin’s job was to explain the utility of advertising on Facebook.
When Facebook acquired Instagram they sent Erin over to spearhead the rollout of their global advertising solutions. Erin again found herself pitching to business owners; this time, she was explaining the utility of advertising on Instagram.
Five years later, with Facebook and Instagram cemented as essential parts of a digital campaign, Erin went to a new company in need of someone to explain the necessity of advertising on their platform – Amazon. At Amazon, she honed her leadership skills while heading up a team of 11 account managers.
Erin currently resides in Orange County with her husband, her dog Bear, and a two-year-old son. In her free time, she likes to run, and has completed eight half-marathons and a full marathon. She just registered for her ninth half-marathon.