As with most folks who work in the tech business, I think it’s important to celebrate failures — they often teach us more than success. As such, I wanted to share a few Facebook Ads campaigns I experimented with and why they didn’t work.
The question I wanted to answer after the almost-too-easy success with the All Smiles campaign was “How easy is it to convert fans of related (but not directly tied) artists from Facebook Ads?”
Answer: Not easy.
I set out to target three groups of fans with free downloads from A B & The Sea: Jukebox The Ghost (with whom they were touring), Katy Perry (whose song they covered), and Beach Boys (to whom they sound most similar). I set up Facebook ads driving to dedicated landing pages (eg - http://abandthesea.net/jukebox/) with unique Topspin widgets on each so I could track conversion data at a granular level. Here’s how each campaign broke down:
Jukebox The Ghost
- 110,774 Impressions
- 72 Clicks
- 0.065% CTR
- $0.41 CPC
- 18 Emails
- $1.65 CPA (Cost Per Acquisition — cost of getting a new email address)
- 383,365 Impressions
- 211 Clicks
- 0.055% CTR
- $0.19 CPC
- 3 Emails
- $13.29 CPA
- 110,495 Impressions
- 81 Clicks
- 0.073% CTR
- $0.38 CPC
- 8 Emails
- $3.89 CPA
These are clearly a far cry from the $0.33 CPA we saw consistently in the All Smiles campaign. But why? The difference is in degrees of separation.
For All Smiles, Jim is part of these other bands that people already love (Modest Mouse & Grandaddy). He’s merely introducing a different project to people who already love the music he plays. Had we gone about the ads in a slightly different way (eg - “Like Modest Mouse? You’ll love All Smiles!” instead of “All Smiles (Jim from Modest Mouse & Grandaddy)…”) I think the results would have been markedly different. For these A B & The Sea ads, all we had was the power of suggestion — “We (the people you don’t know or trust) think you’ll like our music. Won’t you please give it a shot?” (It’s the same approach that people often take to blog outreach — see why it’s hard? More on that another time.)
What the data tells us (beyond “Um, yea, this is expensive. Let’s stop.”), though, is the priority order of those degrees of separation — touring with a band is a closer connection than sounding like a band, which is a closer connection than covering someone’s song. This helps us begin to build a value hierarchy for related artists, which we can use when planning bigger marketing campaigns. In order of value:
- Explicit Introductions — We’ve seen this work now with Fanfarlo, The Pixies / Interpol, and several others. Using the artist’s voice to recommend another artist is about as strong of a recommendation as you can get.
- Implicit Introductions — This is the All Smiles case — it’s not Modest Mouse telling their fans about the record explicitly, but there are clear ties to the band which are messaged to fans of Modest Mouse.
- Professional Relationships — Be it touring together, signing to the same label, or any other professional relationship, there’s a nameless tastemaker who has put the two brands together at some point, implying some correlation.
- Similar Sounds — This works far better organically or through the voice of a tastemaker — someone (or some web service like Pandora or Last.fm) you trust has to make the connection between the two sounds for it to have value.
- Similar Content — Just because you like “November Rain” doesn’t mean you’re going to like the Darude 30-minute club mix version of it.
We’re just getting started :)
There are tons more tests we can run across the board, and ultimately it all comes back to helping us prioritize our efforts. That is the real value of data — you can know almost instantly how any given effort performs and whether or not you should continue down that path.
My proposals to clients rarely have details past the first week, even for longer retainers; instead, they say the next steps will be based on the data collected along the way and list some guiding principles or prospective targets. I encourage everyone in the music business to start thinking that way as well — the most successful tech businesses are the most flexible, and ultimately we’re all running little tech businesses.
Ty runs Sum The Greater, a music blog and direct-to-fan marketing company out of San Francisco. He spent two years managing Artist Services at Topspin and has since dedicated himself to helping small bands build actionable fan bases. He has written several follow-up posts on Facebook Ad campaign success, which areavailable here.