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How the World’s Fastest Growing SaaS Companies Scale Facebook Ads

How the World’s Fastest Growing SaaS Companies Scale Facebook Ads

You’ve already gained some traction with Facebook ads and proven that they can drive profitable customer acquisition for your SaaS.

But how far can you profitably scale your ads?

Today we’re going to discuss how the big SaaS players are scaling serious volume of leads from Facebook.

These are the strategies that we use to scale paid acquisition for leading SaaS companies like Invision and DigitalOcean.

The strategies below are intended for aggressive SaaS marketers who:

  1. Already have a proven conversion funnel
  2. Know their LTV of a customer and their target CAC
  3. Have already proven than Facebook ads are a profitable acquisition channel

If that’s you, then keep reading because the rest of this article is going to outline how the big boys are scaling Facebook ads.

And how you are going to achieve that kind of explosive growth also.

These strategies work whether you’re promoting a free trial offer or a demo offer.

What’s included

  • Where to find inspiration for your ad creatives

  • Systems and process you can implement to consistently scale your ads

  • 4 Automated Rules to streamline your campaign management

  • How to dive into your data to uncover profitable optimization opportunities

  • Advanced strategies for using Lookalike Audiences

  • Why consolidation is the key to optimization

Test More Ad Creatives

Believe it or not, the key to scale often lies in producing and testing more creatives.

You’ve probably already felt the frustration of seeing CPAs quickly rise in a campaign that was originally profitable.

That happens because as frequency goes up for your ads, CTRs decrease and costs go up.

The good news is that if the campaign was initially successful, then you probably had your targeting and messaging pretty well dialed in.

Regaining your original, profitable CPA can usually be achieved by testing more creatives in order to find your next winning ad.

In fact, in my agency, we maintain a culture of “Always Be Testing.”

Even when ads are running smoothly.

This way, we always have new proven winning ads coming into the pipeline for when our current winner start to dip.

Different Ad Formats

Testing lots of images is important.

But scaling ads also requires that you utilize different ad formats as well.

Here are some of the different formats we use:

  • Videos
  • Illustrations
  • Carousel Ads
  • Photos of people <- these usually work the best

Not only do a variety of ad styles keep it fresh for your audience, but they also help Facebook’s algorithm to deliver the right type of ad to the right person at the right time.

Rotating Images

One thing we’ve found with our clients is that simply rotating images without changing ad copy is usually sufficient to get things profitable again.

That’s because if your original image didn’t grab your prospect’s attention enough to make then stop scrolling through their newsfeed, then they probably didn’t read you messaging yet.

A new, attention-grabbing image can get them to stop scrolling long enough to read.

Below are several examples of ads that we recently ran for a client. Each of these ads was successful in driving low-cost trial signups. Notice that each one uses the exact same copy but with a different image.

Finding Inspiration

One of the most important ways to streamline your creative process is to maintain resources that provide you with fresh ideas and inspiration for your ads.

One of the best ways to do that is to maintain a “swipe file” of ads that you like.

We keep a swipe file by simply taking screenshots of ads that we like and saving them in a dropbox folder that our entire team has access to.

We also share lots of ad screenshots with each other via Slack.

Whenever any of our account managers or designers are trying to come up with new ideas for an ad, they can simply browse the swipe file for ideas that can be adapted to the client we’re working on.

If you don’t have your own swipe file yet, use some of these online resources for inspiration:

    1. The B2B SaaS Facebook Ads Swipe File   
    2. Facebook Ads Library
    3. 25+ SaaS Facebook Ad Examples To Swipe For Your Campaigns in 2019

SaaS Facebook Ads Swipe File

Another great way to find inspiration for your ads is to research the current ads being promoted by other great SaaS companies.

You can see the ads being run by any Facebook page simply by checking out the Facebook Ads Library.

Here are some example SaaS ads I found using this method…

Creative Process

In addition to finding inspiration, it’s important to build creativity into your processes.

You’re a busy marketer, so it’s hard to remember to continuously test new ads.

That’s why we use our Project Management software to make sure we are always testing.

We have recurring weekly tasks for every client account that reminds us to test 5-10 new ads every week.

Have Systems and Processes in Place

As with any important business objective, success in scaling your Facebook ads comes from having processes in place.

Sure you can achieve a certain small level of success with haphazard campaign management. But when you’re ready to go big, you need to be organized and you need to have processes in place.

At Zammo Digital, you’ve developed our “SaaS Scaling Framework for Facebook Ads” which is our system for managing and scaling our client campaigns.

The Framework is based on three pillars

Working according to this framework provides a systematic way to approach every stage of the campaign management process. And it helps to maintain the consistency to scale your profitable ads to their greatest possible volume.

You can download the full SaaS Scaling Framework here.

Set Up Automated Rules

Facebook’s Automated Rules are one of the easiest ways to implement smart processes in your ads.

By implementing a few simple rules you can

  1. Scale winning ads more quickly and consistently, and
  2. Make sure that losing ads don’t waste too much budget.
  3. Simplify your ad management,

All of these rules use if/then logic based on your average Conversion costs.

These are the 4 rules that we try to set up for all our SaaS clients…

RULE #1: SCALING WINNING ADS

If the avg. CPA over the past 3 days is less than our target CPA, then increase the daily budget by 20%-30%

RULE #2: REDUCING BUDGETS ON UNDERPERFORMING ADS

If the avg. CPA over the past 3 days is more than 10% greater than our target CPA, then decrease the daily budget by 20%-30%

RULE #3: REACTIVATING LAZY WINNERS

Sometimes conversions don’t happen for a few days after someone clicks. In those cases, it’s possible that you’ll pause an ad set because the CPA looks too high, but that after a few more late conversions come through, you realize that the ad set actually was profitable. This is the rule we use to turn those ad sets back on…

If the avg. CPA over the past 7-days is less than your target CPA, then activate the ad set.

RULE #4: PAUSING LOSERS FAST

If the avg. CPA over the past 3 days is more than 30% greater than our target CPA, then pause the ad set.

These rules help you to maximize profits and protect yourself from unnecessary loses.

Read more details about automated rules here: https://zammodigital.com/facebook-automated-rules/

Understand Your Data

One of the best ways to uncover profitable opportunities for optimization is to dive deep into your data.

So now’s probably the time to admit that I’m kinda an Excel Nerd.

I spent several years early in my career working as an auditor at Deloitte. I hated that job but I learned to love Excel and the beautiful, clear stories you can tell based on data.

Data Nerd

The Business Manager can provide you with a lot of segmented data about your campaigns. But you need to go looking for most of it.

One of our agency’s most valuable processes (and one that you should implement also) is our monthly “Data Deep Dive.”

This Data Deep Dive is set recurring monthly task in our project management software.

The Deep Dive is our time to really dig into the data to uncover trends that allow us to adjust our strategies.

Generally, we’re looking for traffic segments that are performing well or that are underperforming. This data will help direct how we spend our clients’ budgets.

Some of the segments we analyze are:

  • Ad Creatives
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Ad Placements
  • Countries
  • Conversion devices
  • Audiences

Some of the metrics we pay the closest attention to are:

  • CPC
  • CTR
  • CPA
  • Frequency
  •  CPM

Ultimately the only KPI that we really care about is the cost and volume of conversions. But these other metrics can help us to judge the overall health of a campaign, ad set or ad.

Excel and Pivot Tables

Sometimes, trends are hard to see simply by looking in Business Manager.

In those cases, we export detailed Facebook historical data and import it into Excel. Once we have our data in Excel, it’s time to start creating Pivot Tables.

Pivot Tables are super helpful, for example, when you have the same ad creative in multiple ad sets and you want to see how that ad performed overall across all audiences.

Advanced Lookalike Strategies

Interest and behavioral targeting work great when you’re getting started with Facebook ads.

But when it’s time to scale up budgets and conversion volume, you can’t beat Lookalike audiences.

That’s because Facebook’s machine learning and artificial intelligence are way more sophisticated than any audience you can put together on your own.

Our data has shown that the highest converting audience for most of our SaaS client is usually a 1% Lookalike based on the primary conversion even tracked by your pixel.

The other Lookalike audience we see success with are

  • Lookalike based on upload of Customer Emails
  • Lookalike based on your email newsletter subscriber list

In general, you’ll want to start with a 1% Lookalike (~2M in the United States) in order to prove that this audience works.

Once you’re testing confirms that a 1% Lookalike can convert at scale, then you’ll be ready to start expanding to a 2% and then a 3% (or bigger) Lookalike.

Expanding Lookalike sizes is one of the best ways to scale.

Advanced Tip

Pay attention to how much audience overlap there is between your different Lookalike audiences. If the overlap is too high (more than ~80%), then there won’t be an incremental benefit to using both audiences.

Facebook Lookalike Audience Overlap

Trust The Algorithm

Many people are nervous about spending money on a Lookalike audience when they don’t really know the criteria that were used to make the audience.

The other concern many advertisers have is that the 2 million people in a US Lookalike are simply too big an audience for their SaaS niche.

The fact is, that if you’re going to scale, then you’re going to need broad relevant audiences.

And if your pixel is feeding Facebook good data about your existing users and customers, then you can trust the algorithm to target the right people who are most likely to convert for your offer.

However, if you find that you need to refine your Lookalike a bit more, you can test overlapping them with broad interest targeting.

For example, when we were running ads for InVision, we wanted to target graphic designers. To find the people who were most likely to convert, we targeted people who were both in our Lookalike audience AND who had an interest in Graphic Design.

Consolidate. Consolidate. Consolidate.

Although most of us SaaS marketers are control freaks, the best results with Facebook ads usually come when we give the algorithm as much control as possible.

The best way to do that is to reduce unnecessary segmentation and consolidate campaign settings a much as possible.

Consolidating Audiences

When you’re just getting started with Facebook ads, it’s important to segment and test lots of individual audiences in order to figure out what works.

However, after you’ve identified several winning audiences, the best way to scale and ensure consistent ongoing success is to consolidate those winning audience in a single Super Audience.

For example, for one of our clients, our testing concluded that three different Lookalike audiences were all profitable for us.

Rather than run each of those audiences in a different ad set and force Facebook to spend a specific budget for each of them, we consolidated all those audiences into a Super Audience that included all of our winning Lookalikes in a single ad set.

Because that ad set now had such a large audience (~5M people), we were able to give it a big budget.

This kind of Super Lookalike ad set gives more control to the algorithm to spend and deliver impressions to the people who are most likely to convert today.

The other advantage is that it takes longer before ad fatigue becomes a problem and CPA rise too high.

This strategy works with interest targeting also. Test different interests individually to determine what works and then combine the winners into a single audience.

NOTE: When you’re still testing ads, it’s best to use your single best-performing audience (without consolidating). That’s because at the testing stage you want to give new creatives the best chance to prove themselves as winners before you start scaling them to broader audiences.

Read more about Testing Facebook Ads here 

Consolidate Ads

A few years ago, I used to teach that you should have only one single ad in each ad set.

Well, Facebook has gotten a lot more sophisticated since then.

Now the best way to achieve long-term success, conversions and ROI is to combine multiple winning ads into a single ad set.

In general, you should include 3-5 winning ads into each ad set. This should include a variety of image ads, video ads (long and short videos) and maybe even a carousel ad. 

This variety gives the algorithm the option to deliver the right ad at the right moment.

Consolidate Ad Placements

Just like with audiences and creatives, we want to combine as many placements as possible into each ad set.

We’ll usually use Desktop, Mobile, Right Column, Instagram, Messenger and more in a single ad set.

Again the reason for this is to give the algorithm the ability to deliver the ad impression where they are most likely to convert.

What you should do next

If you’re serious about scaling your SaaS company, then download our free “SaaS Scaling Framework for Facebook Ads.” This short PDF shares our 3-pillar system for scaling B2B SaaS companies.

Need some personalized help scaling your Facebook ads? Click here to schedule a free 1-on-1 Scale Session call. 🚀

SaaS Scaling Framework   for Facebook Ads

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