Hail Mary Facebook Ads Saved Christmas

facebook-angelWe had one of our clients budget substantial spend-cash for Christmas weekend PPC, as holidays are always a serious hotbed of activity for their product. Last year the same December days resulted in leads that generated hundreds of thousand in sales.

Last Friday’s 5:15PM email from their CFO was ominous: “Marty, I had to cancel the cc due to fraudulent charges. A new one will be issued within 5 business days.” This “legacy” client represents the only remaining AIMCLEAR account which still uses their credit card and, due to regulatory issues, we can’t use ours. The Grinch was screaming bloody murder at the door and it seemed Christmas was ruined.

Triage Time
I managed to get a hold of one of the client’s principle officers (at the cabin) and he had access to a corporate Discover Card. Google and Yahoo don’t take Discover. Facebook was the only option as they DO take Discover. We hatched a Hail Mary plan to pull Christmas out of the fire.

The Case Study
Clicks on Google, Yahoo, & MSN cost between $5-$10 for this product, with CTRs between 2% & 11%. Landing page conversion-to-leads percentages typically sit around 4%-7%. Buying leads from resellers costs between $35 & $58. Leads which result in sales generate 35K+. The target demographic is right in Facebook’s wheelhouse.

We quickly plotted points on the Facebook social graph to ascertain whether our customer’s interests showed up in the preset Ajax FB category options. BINGO! We identified about 850,000 potential customers who, as expressed by their FB behavior, engaged in activities highly associated with our client’s product. The plan was to run the ads until each target customer saw each ad once-about 1.5 million impressions.

We put on our British clickbaiting hats and wrote 2 ads with killer headline bait to alternate. Facebook experience has taught us that low cost impressions burn brightly for 24-36 hours and then flame out like comets or get expensive. Alternating them prolongs the effectiveness. Worry beads in hand, we were ready. Trembling hands, I pushed the button and we held our breath. Over the holiday we alternated the ads every 12 hours or so. One performed better than the other.

The Result: Christmas Was Saved

The results were nothing less than stunning. Though the CTR was low (usual for FB) the cost-per-click was a small percentage of typical mainstream engine PPC prices. Out of the 970 unique FB visitors 143 converted to leads, a whopping 14.7%, between double and triple the historic landing page conversion average. The cost-per-lead was just under $5.73, significantly less than usual. Given the laser-focus of the targeting, we believe that leads could convert to sales at a higher rate than usual.


They say that necessity is the mother of all invention and, in this case, we got lucky. Facebook is obviously not for every product. All our client knows is that we avoided disaster and opened up a new marketing channel. Our team will look back on Christmas 2007 as the year Hail Mary Facebook ads saved Christmas.

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