JD continues to explore the world of Facebook, this week with Faheem Siddiqi, a former Facebook employee and CEO of SocialWithin, a performance marketing agency based in Austin. Faheem and his team believe that there are three core pillars of Facebook advertising and apply their solutions to a mix of venture backed and private companies with medium product categories. While diving into optimizing for conversion and pixel placement, Faheem recounts a campaign that scaled from $300 to $15,000 in six days, and explains why scale like that is not sustainable, even with the very successful video-first strategies.

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Faheem: Think very strategically about who you’re reaching, how you’re reaching them, and where you’re reaching them.

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JD: Hello and welcome back to E-Commerce In The Trenches, where we talk about attracting, converting and retaining great customers, and today I’m excited to have on the show with me Faheem Siddiqi, from Social Within. Welcome, Faheem.

Faheem: Hey, JD. Good to be here. How are you?

JD: I’m doing well. You’re calling in from where?

Faheem: I am in Dallas, Texas, for the weekend.

JD: Nice, but Social Within is in Austin, correct?

Faheem: Correct. I’m just visiting family.

JD: Very good. Well, today we’re going to have an action packed podcast. We’re going to talk about holiday plan of attack, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas. But we’re going to spend a lot of time talking about or the bulk of our time. We’re not going to be on here very long.
The three core pillars of how you approach Facebook advertising according to Faheem, and we’re going to talk about his background. Also, how to begin advertising, how to validate a product, how to then scale a product, and then once you’re scaling, what do you do then? What other possible other channels do you explore? Kind of Faheem’s thoughts around all of that, but before we get down and dirty, Faheem, why don’t you share with us how you got here.
How did you come to have Social Within the advertising agency, and tell us exactly what you do.

Faheem: Yeah, happy to. Social Within is a performance marketing agency specializing on Facebook ads. We recently became a certified partner for Snapchat, so we’re really excited about Snapchat and its future. We’re going to be opening up other paid social channels. Probably next calendar year. But Facebook is I would say our hero service offering. How we got started, so I actually was on the account management, a partner management at Facebook.
Got a chance to work with some really exciting businesses and became exposed to the agency landscape and ecosystem. Started off in consumer goods, where I worked with a lot of brands that were focused on offline sales. Then later I switched over to e-commerce, and focused on acquisition, direct response acquisition. Through and through though, I noticed that the agency kind of world was fascinating to me, because you really get a chance to drive very meaningful impact for a lot of businesses.
I felt like for the most part agencies just cared a lot about their own KPIs and own PML. When I think in anything professional services, but specially in an advertising agency it’s all about the client. You have to build this one team, one dream approach. When they win, you win. That’s how the incentive should be aligned. And so I quit Facebook last year around October to start this agency, and yeah, things are going well.
We partner with some of the best e-commerce and direct-to-consumer brands to help them grow and scale profitably.

JD: Very cool. Talk to me a little about your client mix at Social Within.

Faheem: Yeah, so we … I think e-commerce is broad in itself, but when we look at some categories, I would say about third of the portfolio is venture capital backed. Probably about 40 percent, and then the other, the remaining clients are privately owned companies that are looking to scale profitably. Within the e-commerce ecosystem, so we have subscription brand, companies that are subscription focused. We have companies that have small product catalogs and medium sized product catalogs.
The goal is to spend money very effectively and very efficiently on Facebook. They looked to partner with us to take this thing to the next level and fuel the fire.

JD: Very cool. I would assume, I guess shouldn’t assume without asking you, do you have clients that have product values pricing all over the board? Like, as low as, what would be the lowest price of a product that they would be promoting on Facebook? Maybe what would be the highest ticket price that you see?

Faheem: It’s definitely all over the place. I mean if you’re a subscription brand doing a negative option, where it’s sort of a free trial, and you just pay say $3 for shipping and handling, to me that’s … It’s pretty much free.

JD: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Faheem: You have that, and then on the other end, if you’re working with a high-end fashion retailer that might have a leather jacket, that’s $3,000. Not every product in that catalog will be 3,000 but it certainly ranges from one spectrum, where things are. You’re doing a free trial with subscription, all the way to luxury goods, where you’re paying some serious cash for a product that you’d like to consume.
It sort of ranges and our ad spend is at this point it’s probably a couple of million dollars per month in manned service, so it really ranges from one end to the other.

JD: Nice. Very cool. What would you say is your superpower? Before we get into the nuts and bolts.

Faheem: I know you like asking that question. I should have prepared for that one. I think for me in all humbleness and modesty, right? I think for me it’s probably empathy. I started this company for two very simple reasons. I love helping people and I enjoy building businesses. The reason why I say empathy is I just … Sometimes to a fault, I just I try to put myself in other people’s shoe to really see things the way they see it. It’s great for our clients, because I treat their money like it’s my money.
Oftentimes I joke with my team, but I tell them like, “Hey, pretend like my own credit card is on file, so be very, very diligent in terms of how you focus on acquisition efforts.” Never spend for the sake of spending. Anecdotally speaking, that’s very much the agency kind of mindset, but even outside of this, I try to lean in every step of the way and try to focus on the empathy piece quite a bit. I don’t know if that be even considered as super power, but I guess it be that.

JD: That’s so cool. Well in getting to know you, we’ve had a few conversations and just the way that you approached our conversation about our business, and it just comes through. It just comes through that you genuinely care, and I think that it’s a superpower, because it’s pretty rare, so I appreciate that about you. Let’s jump right in. You have a particular way that you like to approach advertising on Facebook. Why don’t you walk us through that?

Faheem: Yeah, I think there is so much happening on the platform now. It’s obviously more competitive than it’s ever been. I think it can be a little bit overwhelming for a lot of … Definitely for a lot of new advertisers, but even the veterans that maybe haven’t looked at Facebook lately, things are constantly changing. New features are constantly coming out. Different things are happening, but at its core, I think success on Facebook comes down to three simple pillars.
I think it’s number on, media buying and optimization. I think number two it’s targeting. I think number it’s creative. Now most companies are successfully able to do two of the three. Very few good companies are able to do all three all the time. Whenever I think about what are the foundations, what are the fundamentals, I always go back to each of those. In fact, whenever performances is not up to my standards, I would go to my account management team and I would say, “All right, let’s go through a rundown, and let’s look at the first thing.”
How are we doing in our media buying and optimization in terms of what conversion events are we optimizing for? Is it at the cart? Is it purchases? Where are we in the funnel there. The second is your bidding strategy. Automatic bidding is obviously my favorite, because we’ve had trouble getting ad delivery with manual bids. But I think there’s a time and place to test with manual bids for sure, but we look at that. We look at conversion windows.
Really just understanding where we are in that front. Part of media buying and optimization is also constructing a full frontal strategy, where depending on the type of business you are, if you have a product catalog, then you do prospecting at the top, general retargeting in the middle, and then dynamic ads at the bottom to ensure that you’re preventing the leaky bucket. That’s the foundation of it.
If you’re a subscription company, then it’s a two-step thing. Prospecting and retargeting. There isn’t much more. I think there isn’t much more to that. For advertisers that try to do a lot within a funnel, I think I’ve encouraged them against it. I think complexity is the enemy of execution.
You’re better off having less variables and then letting, putting the right strategy upfront and letting Facebook find those people, but introducing too many variables at once can actually lead to poor performance. At any rate, that’s media buying and optimization. I think from a targeting perspective, very simple. Making sure that you understand who are the people that are going to buy, understanding your product, your market really, really well.
For businesses that are proving it out, can just continue building different types of lookalike audiences. If you have an email CRM system, perhaps like Klaviyo, and those email custom audiences are dynamically being uploaded. Or those customer data is dynamically changing as a seed audience. Those lookalike one percents, those lookalike two, three. I’ve seen success all the way up to eight percent can be a good strategy.
Obviously I know we’re going to get into some of the specifics around the different types of businesses, validating a product, scaling a product, establish business, how we tackle that. I won’t get into it now, but targeting is very simple in terms of how you think about who to reach when. The one very important advice that I can give to someone is make sure that you’re not targeting the same type of people in multiple ad sets. Overlapping audience is oftentimes a pretty big problem. You’re not competing against yourself per se in the auction. At least that’s what we’ve heard from Facebook.
It’s more so, one ad sector, one audience type will end up getting delivery, while the other doesn’t. So you’re better off finding unique audiences in different ad sets versus kind of trying to go after similar audiences. So just be cognizant of that.

JD: I have a question Faheem. As it pertains to media buying and optimization, it’s important that your pixel structure is in place, is that? Walk me through that a little bit, quickly.

Faheem: For sure, yeah. We talk a lot about this idea of pixel architecture. Again, depending on the business, but especially if you have a product catalog of some sort, which most e-commerce companies do, unless they’re selling one product or they’re a subscription of some type. Making sure that view content is firing when someone views a product. Add to cart is only firing once when someone actually takes that action. Same thing with an issued checkouts, same thing with purchases.
Sounds very simple. It’s very intuitive, but a lot of times what ends up happening is if we’re not doing sort of a health check on the pixel, add to cart might end up firing twice or three times. I’ve certainly seen that happen, or even worse is when it’s not firing at all, and when I see performance in the morning, especially for high ad spend, clients. It’s you’ve spent all this money and then you’re seeing, “Hey, we’re not getting any add to carts or purchases.
They’re seeing transaction happen on the back-end, but the pixel’s just not firing, so just making sure that you’re taking … You’re being careful with the pixel architecture. Obviously it not firing is a big problem, and you can easily identify that. But when the duplication happens, where it might be firing twice, you might look an ad’s manager or power editor and you’re like, “Holy cow, I’m seeing a $3 cost for add to cart, when in reality it’s actually six.”
So you end up bumping budgets or optimizing those ad sets and leaving them on, because you think it’s actually crushing it, when it’s actually not, right?

JD: Right.

Faheem: So just be very cognizant of your pixel architecture. Every few days, just make sure you’re looking at the pixel tab in ads manager or power editor. Then certainly it never hurts to go through sort of a buy flow on your website, to make sure that things are firing exactly how they should.

JD: Very good. What about audience size? Because there’s been a lot of confusion in our business about how big of an audience is ideal to target and obviously it depends on a lot of variables. What are your thoughts and best practices and what seems to be working the best now?

Faheem: I’m a big fan of lookalike models. I think I just … I mean time and again I’ve seen the most successful lookalike audiences. A look like one percent in the United States, probably is anywhere between two to 2.1 million people. Obviously it’s dynamic, depending on how many people are in the country. This is the 2.1 million is only in the US. When you go to say, Australia, what’s the total population of Australia times the one percent of the people that could possibly in that segment?
But attending to your question, I think it really depends. From what I’ve seen when we go abroad, especially with prospecting, depending on the type of conversion event we’re optimizing for, we’ve seen a lot of success with that. I still vividly remember this. It was last Q4, one of my top performing audiences were … It was a lookalike eight percent from last 30 days purchasers. I took that ad set from $300 a day in ad spend and six days later it was running on $15,000 a day.

JD: Wow.

Faheem: Obviously I’m not taking it from 300 to 15,000 all of a sudden it’s 300,000 and 2,000 and then slowly but surely, a couple of days later it’s firing on all cylinders. But then obviously on 8th on day 8th, it just collapsed on me and performance was down and I had to turn it off, but point is a lookalike eight percent in the US is 16 million or so people that performed really well. But I think if I was to give anyone sort of prescriptive advice, I would say …
I would definitely recommend experimenting with sort of lookalike one percent from previous customer, the customer data or purchasers. Either from the pixel or your custom audience that you upload. I wouldn’t recommend going too narrow. I’ve had trouble finding scale when the audience pool is just incredibly narrow. I like to keep it at least to a couple of hundred thousand people to see if we can find some traction, but again, just time and again, I’ve seen lookalike one percent perform better than everything else.
The best advice I could give to someone is test, learn, iterate, experiment for yourself, but you can’t go wrong testing with sort of a lookalike one percent or even two percent, 2.1 to 4.2 million people, I think that’s a pretty solid audience segment for at least prospecting.

JD: Then when you layer in 30 buyers going at that one percent lookalike, that’s where you’re going to get … Depending on, obviously depending upon how many … I’m asking the question and I feel like I’m going to sound stupid by asking this, but …

Faheem: No, go ahead.

JD: Let’s say that I have 5,000 buyers in the last 30 days. You upload that into custom audiences, and then you layer, you say a one percent lookalike on that. What is the number that Facebook’s going to throw back at me? I know it depends a lot, but is that a 200,000 audience size number or is that closer to two million?

Faheem: Yeah, so lookalike it’s just how many people are in that country that are on Facebook. In the United States, let’s assume 200 million people are on Facebook.

JD: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Faheem: A lookalike 1 percent is just one percent of 200 million people.

JD: I got you.

Faheem: That’s two million people. If you upload a customer data, a customer CRM data of say 5,000 people. It’s still going to be two million people.

JD: Okay.

Faheem: Or if it’s 50,000 people, well, it’s still going to be two million people. Obviously just based on how much data you feed to Facebook, the quality of those lookalike audiences will certainly vary. If you have 50,000 sort of customers that you acquired over time, you can probably build multiple different lookalikes. You can go all the way up to 10 percent, if you wanted to. But the more data you give to Facebook, the better quality lookalike audiences you’re able to build.

JD: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Faheem: But the number of people in that audience pool will always be pretty much around that. Now if Facebook goes and somehow we have 250,000,000 people hypothetically speaking in the United States that are on Facebook, well all of a sudden your lookalike one percent is now 2.5 million people.

JD: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Faheem: Instead of two million. So that’s how it sort of kind of comes together.

JD: Okay, then how do you get the audience size down to 200,000? Is that just layering in interest targeting? Or walk me through that quickly.

Faheem: Yeah. It’s just layering, exactly right. Think about it as sort of a Venn diagram. The more you have sort of end operators happening, the smaller the audience will become. The more or operators you will have the larger the audience segment will become. For example, if you do a lookalike one percent, and a lookalike five percent combined. Your audience pool is going to be much bigger than two million people.

JD: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Faheem: But if you do a lookalike one percent, and it’s all women between 22 to 40, and they are English speakers, and they have a high household income, so on and so fort, now all of a sudden you might be looking at maybe close to a million, right?

JD: Yeah.

Faheem: I don’t have my Power Editor in front of me, but otherwise I would tell you the exact number but the more variables or the more layers you introduce, the smaller it becomes. The more you open it up, the higher the number will be.

JD: Okay. Interesting. That’s very cool. Facebook is so powerful. Just blows my mind.

Faheem: Yeah.

JD: All right, so we’ve talked about number one media buying and optimization, number two targeting, and then the third piece is creative, right?

Faheem: Absolutely.

JD: Talk to me about creative and how you think about that.

Faheem: Creative is probably the most important variable, when it comes to success on Facebook. The reason I say that is because you could be the most analytical direct response or brand advertiser in the world, but if your creative doesn’t resonate with people, it’s going to be hard to succeed. I think Facebook … Obviously I’m biased, but I think Facebook is probably the most powerful advertising platform I’ve ever come across, I’ve ever seen.
It’s that one place where your brand and your direct response comes together. I think too often in the past we’ve seen DR advertisers operating in a very DR world and brand advertisers operating in a very brand world and it’s been very binary in that capacity. I think in today’s world Facebook is bringing those two together. Obviously this goes without saying, but the auction is … Operates in a different way.
When you’re selecting a conversion objective, and you want to optimize for purchases, and you have really good video assets that are on brand that are highly convert … They convert really well. You’re still operating in a direct response auction. Yes, the competition would be fierce, because you and thousands of other companies are trying to get those same impressions. But when it comes to those impressions and delivering those impressions, from a creative front are you introducing thumb-stopping content?
I might have mentioned this to you in the past and previous conversations, but an average person scrolls through almost 300 feet worth of content. That’s like I don’t know. That’s like the size of Statue of Liberty, which is just insane. Don’t quote me on that, because I … A friend of mine who attended the creative convert event in New York a couple of weeks ago, her and I were talking about this and that was something that was shared and it’s just wild to me that people are consuming more information now than ever before.
And so as a brand it is your job to stand out, while people are just zooming through their newsfeed.

JD: I heard this the other day and don’t quote me either, but there was a study and I believe that the number. It was an astounding number, but that we either swipe, click, or tap 6,400 times on our smartphones a day.

Faheem: Wow.

JD: Yeah.

Faheem: Look at that. It’s yeah, I just think that as time goes on, I don’t know how much faster we can consume content. I think when you … I think information overload is becoming a thing. But point is we’re consuming more content than ever before. But to the point of creative I think there are a couple of ways of kind of thinking about this. I think first and foremost, the best way to stand out is to actually fit in. When you are … If a brand ends up spending thousands of dollars on crafting some kind of … Doing a video production and back in the day how people used to shoot for TV.
If you’re doing exactly that and try to bring that to Facebook, well you’re … It’s not going to work. People don’t like bad ads. I think the general kind of consensus, people don’t like ads. That’s not true. People don’t like bad ads.

JD: Yeah.

Faheem: People will definitely like good ads and that’s why people buy after they click. But it’s a matter of resonating with them. Depending on the person that’s listening to this. If you’re an advertiser on Facebook, I think honestly, the only production tool you need is your smartphone. You can do a lot of nifty things, especially now with the emergence of the Boomerang app by Instagram and gosh, there’s so many other free apps out there that you can probably find to help you generate creative assets.
But you don’t need a video production budget. You just need someone who’s kind of thinking a little bit outside of the box, understanding their customer base really well, and then talking to them like you would talk to another human being. The moment you make it an ad, air quote, that’s when things … Your CTRs will likely underperform versus when someone is sort of shooting from their smartphone. We can probably talk all day about the importance of creative and how to think through it, but the punch line is the following.
Think very strategically about who you’re reaching, how you’re reaching them, and where you’re reaching them. The reason why I’m saying that is when you’re looking at video content, you don’t need to put up a banner ad on the 1,200 by 628 ad on Facebook and Instagram. You should take advantage of more real state. So run a square video 1,000 by 1,000 across both placement, or run a vertical video. The more real state you can capture, the higher the likelihood that someone’s going to stop their thumb, because you’re just capturing that much more of their feed.
Just being very strategic in that capacity. Facebook has been talking a lot about going video first, for several quarters at this point. If you’re not already doing video content, then it’s time to start kind of thinking very quickly on how you can iterate towards that. This doesn’t mean that you completely flip to script. You can repurpose your static assets on Facebook, either through slideshow ads or other tools, but you can repurpose your static content to make it more dynamic.
As long as it’s a .mp4 or whatever video format, that is considered a video ad when it comes to Facebook. Then using that for the right part of the funnel. If it’s prospecting conversion campaign, then use that accordingly. But I think if there’s anyone. If there’s something someone’s going to take away from this conversation, that’s go video first, be very strategic about how you think about building content. You don’t need to put up a two-minute video of anything.
Keep it short. 30 seconds or less, works with sound off, and you’re introducing some kind of a thumb-stopping creative or content in the first three seconds, so you can register that view, and then hopefully re-target those people later. The 30-second cap is there because Facebook auto-loops anything that’s 30 seconds or less. Anything after 30 seconds is not auto-looped.

JD: Wow.

Faheem: Yeah.

JD: Very cool. Let’s jump into the three steps of having good success on Facebook as far as validating, scaling, and then what? What do you do after you’ve been able to scale? Can you walk me through that Faheem?

Faheem: In terms of when you’re a startup, how does validating a product work? You’re just going through an ideation phase, and then how do you scale once you have the product in the inventory and ready to make magic work? Then how to establish business tackle it? Just so I’m clear, is that the question?

JD: Yeah. I think sometimes you have a mature business. You’ve been able to scale Facebook ads, and what do you think about next? Are you looking at trying to scale on Instagram? Snapchat? Or are you doubling down and seeing what other products in your catalog you can scale effectively? I just like to see what you have seen work and how you think about that, when you get to that third step.

Faheem: Yeah, I think when it comes to scaling, so the first thing I recommend advertisers is try to keep it in-house while you’re spending, say, up to $10 to $15,000. Proof it out internally to see if you can take it to where it’s return on … Your return on ad spend or ROAS is healthy or if you’re not measuring success in ROAS, you’re looking at cost by acquisition that your CPAs are healthy. Then maybe you want to keep it in-house, or you want to bring on a strategic partner like an agency to see if you can scale this thing up.
It’s one thing to take something from zero to $15,000 an ad spend per month. It’s another to take it from 15 to 200,000 in ad spend per month. I think there are a lot of variables around logistics and supply chain and inventory, all the way down to actual running those ads. There’s a lot that goes into it. Once you’re ready to scale up, I think the first thing I say is for advertisers that have a product catalog, it’s very good to have a hero product.
That gateway into the brand. If you’re a fashion business and having, say, a t-shirt, or a button down of some sort. Just having that your product, people love it. People are buying it again and again. You’ve validated that. Hey, that is the thing that’s gotten us here. But what got us here won’t get us there. Obviously the next step is continuing to experiment with small batch budgets to see if other products in your catalog have some legs in them. You can I think … If you wanted to experiment with multiple products being showcased at once, obviously step one is run a conversion campaign, optimize towards the right audience segments, and then most importantly run carousel ads.
Or do some kind of a slideshow video or collection ads even. I think just to get people introduced to different products that you’re selling, so that there’s that awareness that you’re building. Over time, if things are … If people are starting to … It starts to stick, then you can start to iterate from there, and start investing more money into it. But I think again, I think I would never say that my deep, deep expertise in understanding the product and scaling a product up from taking hero product and introducing five others into it.
I think it’s really from a budgeting standpoint, how do you take a brand that’s spending 15 to 20,000 per month? Very strategically taking them to 100, 150,000 profitably. I’m happy to get into that if that’s something that would add value, but I hope that answered the question around hero products and multiple products that come up.

JD: Absolutely. I think that taking, finding your hero product, and then just keeping your ad spend simple, keeping it in-house until you’re spending $10,000 to $15,000 a month profitably, and then be thinking about, “Okay, how do I scale this?” Possibly look at bringing on a partner. Somebody like Social Within or another agency that you know, like, and trust.
Once you’re there, I think everybody wants to have a 5- to 10-million company and if you’re in the direct response, e-commerce space, and you don’t have a shingle hanging in the wind, in a brick and mortar setting, and you don’t want to build out a brick and mortar footprint, that’s kind of why we’re all here on the E-Commerce in the Trenches. Talk to me about how you get to $200,000 or $300,000 a month in ad spend on Facebook profitably.

Faheem: Yeah. This is where things get really fun. This is probably my favorite part of the conversation because I … It’s always really fun kind of getting into the weeds. I think step one is reflecting on the three pillars. Making sure your creative is fully aligned, but something that has worked really well for us is just having … It’s a silly example, but having a day trader mindset, where you’re …
You cut your losses when you need to, if an ad spend is not performing well, you let it go, and then you double down on the one that’s actually working. A silly example, but one thing I kind of think about or even when I’m talking to my team. I talk about this idea of being a day trader. In finance, if a stock isn’t working, you have to … Or if you’re a stock picker, and it’s just not working out for you, you cut your losses and you move on to the next thing.
Or similarly, you buy in at a good price, and then you keep buying more until you know that you can sell. Bringing that same concept here where when you have an ad set that’s performing well, well naturally you want to bump budgets on that. You want to optimize that even more to where you can get more revenue out of it. When something isn’t performing well, you cut your losses and you move on to the next thing. The principle that I’ve kind of put in place for my account management team, it’s very simple. It’s the Pareto principle of 80/20.
Oftentimes what I’ve seen is 20 percent of your ad sets are typically generating about 80 percent of the revenue, and the other 80 percent are oftentimes just being tested with small budgets, or frankly, if they’re not working out well, you cut your losses and you move on. My team is very diligent. We are looking at the stuff for seven days a week, kind of throughout the day, and sometimes even late into the night.
We’re very, very strategic about what is something that’s working and where do we double down? When I mentioned earlier that I took that eight percent audience, lookalike audience from $300 when it was launched at 6 a.m. in the morning, it’s performing well, so I’m going to bump budgets on that. To be very, very prescriptive in fact, this is I’m just going to give it away to the people that are listening.
When I come in the morning to the office and I’m seeing that, an audience that, an ad set that was running on $300 a day, has seven, eight sales working really well, you bump budgets on that. See how things go, and then you bump budgets on it again, if it’s continuing to perform well. Be very thoughtful about going into the night. Sometimes it makes sense to lower budgets, if you see it fit. But just be very, very thoughtful about how you’re bumping. You never want to take something from say $300 to $10,000 that’s very, very drastic.
But you certainly bump up and next thing you know, six, seven days later, I had that budget running on 15,000 a day, and that’s not foreign to us. We have advertisers that are spending anywhere from $10,000 a month, all the webs like $30,000 – $40,000 a day are. From one end all the way to the other and the way you manage those campaigns is very differently. But in order to get up to $10,000 per day in ad spend, very profitably, make sure that in prospecting you have eight to 12 different audiences that are consistently running.
You follow the Pareto principle, make sure that you’re preventing the leaky bucket by having a general retargeting in a dynamic ads running at the bottom. Then just be very thoughtful about your frequency, and you’ll see results coming in, and if they’re not, then obviously make the necessary changes. But it really just comes down to those basic principles.

JD: Fantastic. What’s the longest you have seen an ad that you were able to spend $10,000+ a day. I know you said the one that you started at 300 and you were spending $15,000 lasted for eight days before it started tailing off. What’s the longest that you have seen?

Faheem: I think it depends. I mean sometimes you’ll have those ad sets that are sort of your backbone. They might be running on $500 per day or $1,000 per day budgets, and I don’t want to touch it. I’ll just let it keep running, because if I do … I look at performance variables, so I look at two different categories. I’m looking at primary KPIs, depending on the brand. My team and I really were looking at cost by acquisition, looking at how much do we spend, how much do we make and return on ad spend. That’s the first category.
The second one are your performance variables. How are the CTRs doing? How are the CPCs doing? What’s the CPM? How is the frequency? You’re looking at those performance variables to really get a sense of what works and what doesn’t. When it comes down to understanding which audiences are going to last, well if you have poor CTRs, low CTRs and high CPCs, and let’s say your CPMs are high. Trying to be aggressive with an ad set is not going to help anyone scale it up.
At some point you’re going to come across scalability issues, and that ad set’s going to die. Sometimes it’s just better to leave it off, and just let it keep running. In instances like that, I’ve had ad sets running up to eight to 10, 12 days. When you’re trying to be aggressive and you’re trying … You found that top 20 percent ad set in your prospect or in your funnel, then you double down on that. I would say it just depends.
We schedule ads every day. We schedule ad sets every single day. But I’d say eight to 10 days is the longest I’ve seen. I’m sure other agencies have seen higher numbers or different numbers, but for us, we’re pretty aggressive. We’re pretty diligent, so that’s probably the number that I’ve seen.

JD: Fantastic. We’re not going to get into what do you do after you’ve scaled, because I think for most people listening these are the two most interesting things. How do you validate? How do you scale? I want to talk about holiday. But before I do that, are you running on any type of ad management platform other than Power Editor or Ads Manager? Are you running anything through a Nanigans, or Kenshoo? Anything like that?

Faheem: No, we primarily use Power Editor and Ads Manager. I’m very familiar with the Facebook marketing partner FMP Ecosystem. I think they were definitely some ad tech tools that are good, and if you have an in-house marketing team that’s super, super robust, I think those investments can make sense, but I feel like Power Editor and Ads Manager have come a long way from where they used to be.
Ad tech is interesting I think. There are certain automation tools that I really like, but you can pretty much do anything you want with Power Editor and Ads Manager.

JD: That’s very cool. Well I had an agency pitching me on … They were running on Nanigans, and they said that you could test, in real time 150 different creatives, and just optimize the heck out of it and squeeze the juice out, and figure out the handful of ads that were getting the most response and that’s a pretty sexy proposition, but it always seemed to be overkill for us. We have a fairly small catalog. I didn’t really see the benefit in that. It seemed like the opposite of keeping things simple.

Faheem: Yeah, and again, in instances like that, if you feel the need of somehow split testing or doing that kind of tests, then maybe there is value. But I just … I think an algorithm on top of an algorithm is never a good idea. But again, I have nothing but love for FMPs. I think there’s definitely a time and place for when you bring ad tech in-house. But if you’re outsourcing to an agency, what you really need to find or look for is just are they trusted advisors? Are they strategic partners?
How do they think about the business? You don’t … For them to not have ad tech is not a bad thing at all. It’s actually probably advantageous, because things are going to be slightly more manual perhaps. But it’s just they’re going to be on top of it probably more so. Again, it just depends on the type of business you are, type of brand you are. There’s time and place for it.

JD: Cool. Let’s get into holiday plan of attack. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas. Give me your thoughts around this type, this season, this time of year, and advertising on Facebook.

Faheem: Yeah. This is an interesting time for a couple of reasons. One, the option is more crowded than it’s ever been. In I think Facebook’s latest earning’s called … They mentioned that it’s six million monthly active advertisers on Facebook and two million monthly active advertisers on Instagram. Really excited for kind of the growth Facebook is seeing, but obviously as an advertiser. It’s a game of supply and demand. There’s no such thing as an unlimited ad inventory.
You are essentially competing with other advertisers to get the same placements. Or you’re getting those meaningful impressions, so it’s I’m anxious to see how things will plan out, but going back to the basics, I would go to the three pillars I talked about earlier. Media buying, the lean and effective funnel, target and creative, so making sure that you’re fully ramped up there. Make sure that you have video, good video content. YOu’re doing some kind of email capture on the website, so you can actually very strategically use your email marketing efforts to support Facebook ads growth or Facebook ads revenue.
There will be duplication obviously, so that I would trust advertisers to account for that. Let me see here. There are a couple of things I’ve noted down, because I’ve had 19 different meetings with my team on how to tackle this very, very thoughtfully. Don’t be romantic to any particular audience segment, or any particular ad set. If you like to operate at a campaign level, if you’re not … If that look like one percent, that has always worked for you, is not working anymore. It’s okay to let it go. I’ve talked a lot about advertisers and they’re just … There is this level of like, “All right, I know this audience is always work wise, they’re not working.”
They’re keeping dusting money into it, with the expectation that it will eventually convert. Well if it’s not converting now, especially when the promotional period is happening, you’re better off pausing it, cutting your losses, and then you can always re-enable it tomorrow or the day after, but don’t keep spending money when you don’t need to. Let’s see. From a video front, I would strongly recommend testing with … I’ve just seen some success with collection ads. It’s not my favorite product. I’m definitely excited about it. I think it’s going to do really well over time, as the product continues to be iterated.
But I think it’s highly engaging. You’re able to quickly showcase the multiple products within the Facebook app. Big blue app without taking people off the website, or off to the website. Just be thoughtful around how you’re experimenting, and then just monitor closely. Make sure that you’re not just setting it and forgetting it. You’re keeping an eye on it.

JD: You had also talked about dynamic ads during the holidays in one of our prior conversations.

Faheem: Yeah, so dynamic ads. Yeah, thanks for bringing that up. Using obviously DPA prospecting is something that’s I would imagine more broadly rolled out. We certainly have access to it for all of our accounts at this point, but doing that … If you have a product catalog, make sure that you’re doing obviously dynamic re-targeting, reaching people. Obviously you can build out the different types of audience segments, but anyone who has viewed content or added to cart in the last day, but perhaps hasn’t purchased in the last 30 days or 60 days, make sure you have all of those different day breakouts happening.
DPA prospecting can actually be really effective, assuming that your products actually look good. Your product catalog content actually looks good, so make sure you have that built out. But just I think the best advice I can give is understanding those three core pillars or making sure you’re not … You’re following the 80/20 rule. You are being very cognizant of … Remember, monitoring performance and just being very thoughtful about kind of how the funnel is built out. Double down on re-targeting.
I think if someone has never heard of you and you’re trying to spend a ton of money on prospecting, you may not see strong results. So just be thoughtful around that as well. Because we certainly plan. We’ve done a lot of customer bank strategy, where we’ve acquired all this website traffic over the last say 30, 60, really all the way to 180 days. Now is the time to re-target and get the promotions going.

JD: Nice. Faheem, we could talk for two days about Facebook and advertising and being successful. I really appreciate all of your knowledge and wisdom that you shared with us. I have enjoyed it. It’s been awesome. I don’t want to keep you any longer, because you are with family, and I appreciate your time. How can people learn more if they want to get in contact with you? What’s the best way to reach you or come into your world?

Faheem: Yeah. So people can email me directly at faheem@socialwithin.com or hello@socialwithin.com. That’s faheem@socialwithinl.com. Obviously these next couple of weeks are a little bit busy with just the holiday season being upon us, but starting next calendar year, I really enjoy just helping business owners, so I oftentimes do free consultations or if they want to just pick my brain on something, I always enjoy sort of leaning in and helping.
If anyone from your audience wants to just pick my brain or just want to talk about just have a jam session around customer acquisition, e-commerce, Facebook ads, whatever it is, I’m always available to chat. They can reach me directly, and I’m happy to setup some time, and see if I can be useful.

JD: Fantastic. YOu’re even willing to do an account audit, if it warrants it.

Faheem: Yeah, well for sure, absolutely. If someone wants me to peek at … When you and I were chatting, a couple of weeks ago, I’m always happy to get into the account, look at what’s going on, what’s working, what’s not, and provide very prescriptive recommendation and advice and I do this for fun. Our agency’s doing okay. I’m not. I don’t ever try to sell anyone to anyone. I just if I can be helpful, and they take something away, and this is just my way of sort of paying it forward, I just genuinely enjoy doing it. If whoever needs help I’m always happy to lean in and assist.

JD: Fantastic. Well, let’s get with our families. I really appreciate it, Faheem. For those of you listening, if you would kindly share this episode with somebody that you might think would find it valuable, we would both very much appreciate it. Rate and review E-Commerce in the Trenches, and I would very much appreciate that. Until we talk again, Faheem. It’s been awesome and have a great Thanksgiving. Obviously you’re going to be busy over Black Friday, Cyber Monday in the coming week. But I look forward to meeting you in person and maybe we have a taco in Austin together.

Faheem: Yeah. I’m looking forward to it. Thanks, JD.

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