Social Media Marketing
11 min

The Secret Sauce To Making Your Direct Response Facebook Ad Campaign Succeed


If you work for an agency or manage your own Facebook ads campaigns freelance, it’s helpful to think of your clients as a garden. Some are succulents, some are Elephant’s Ear. Some require sunlight to grow and succeed, others need a massive amount of water.  Whatever the circumstances, you are the gardener, and your mission is to nurture each plant to ensure it reaches its full potential.

Fortunately, throughout my experience managing different Facebook accounts, I’ve found a constant that, time and time again, keeps my metaphoric cacti sharp, guarantees my Peonies stay fluffy, and brings my roses their beautiful redness. That constant is a simple formula:

(Great Ad + The Right Audience) x Conversion Objective Adaptation = Success

That’s the formula – marinate in it and get to know it. This formula is effective for any direct response Facebook ad campaign, but to ground it in reality, let’s take a look at VIP Petcare. Before we get into the nitty-gritty, here are the basic steps you need to take on Facebook, for any campaign you’re going to run, to ensure you aren’t burning your hard earned cash.

Steps For Getting Your Facebook Ad Campaigns Started 

Before you spend a single Facebook dollar, these are the initial steps every savvy campaign manager should follow:

  • Get That Darn Pixel Installed Onto Your Site.
    • What Do You Mean It Isn’t Already Installed?
    • Do You Want To Identify Your Funnel? (More To Come On This).
    • Do You Want To Retarget?
    • Do You Want To Measure ROI?
  • What Do You Mean It Isn’t Already Installed?
  • Set Up Event Tracking Codes & Custom Events On /Thank-You URLs
    • Not only will these help you understand the actions people are taking on your site, but they’ll also allow you to troubleshoot common problems like high add to cart bounce rate.
  • Have an email list? Great. Import it into Facebook and target these individuals! They’ve already expressed interest. That’s a goldmine.

Case & Point: VIP Petcare’s Successful Direct Response Facebook Ads Campaign

The Problem

VIP Petcare came to Wpromote in June 2017, looking for a way to increase the number of vouchers being redeemed in-store. Prior to our partnership, their direct response efforts over a four-month period resulted in less than 100 in-store redemptions.

This was a big problem for VIP Petcare because growth in their individual locations depends on new customer activation. This company has over 3,000 mobile clinics within pet retailers, and they’re constantly opening new locations. Without the brand awareness afforded by Facebook, many people wouldn’t even know they existed. Without people knowing you exist, customer acquisition is difficult. VIP Petcare was forced to rely on word of mouth and current customers of the individual pet retail chain.

Vouchers have always been important to VIP Petcare. They help incentivize pet owners to bring their furry friend into the clinic for vet care. The discounts were enticing enough to spark action, while VIP Petcare still turned a profit. With fewer than 100 vouchers redeemed, the company was hungry for new leads.

The Solution: Reimagine VIP Petcare’s Direct Response Strategy With Facebook Ads

Prior to our partnership, VIP Petcare wasn’t utilizing paid media opportunities. Vouchers were posted on the site, as well as organically on Facebook. We suggested Facebook ads because of its ability to raise awareness about these vouchers that aid in new customer acquisition, as well as target and retarget highly qualified users. Facebook is not intent driven, meaning these people aren’t necessarily in the marketplace for what we’re advertising. We have to be creative and smart to get audiences excited about what we’re selling.

Facebook allows us to prospect on audiences who have the same qualifications as our customers, but aren’t actively seeking out our services. Facebook also allows us to plant a pixel on the site, and retarget those who have been to our website as well as those who take certain valuable actions on our site. Another added bonus of Facebook is its neat ability of taking these highly qualified website visitor’s actions, analyzing what they have in common, and then developing a lookalike audience out of them for us to prospect on.


When we’re scrolling through our newsfeed, we’re being bombarded with thousands of images desperate to grab our attention. So, as advertisers, how do we make our ads pop and drive action? One way is to create a sense of disruption to stop a scroller from their mindless finger-flick, and get them to invest a fraction of their time into our message.

See VIP Petcare’s ad below:

VIP Petcare Ad

Don’t tell me you didn’t linger on that picture of the kitten before starting to read this sentence. Extra points if you said “aw.” Honestly, you can’t scroll past that stinking kitten without stopping to sneak a peek – and that was the goal.

Here’s how visual disruption drives success: You’re scrolling through your newsfeed. There are friends, there are acquaintances (some you hate, some you don’t), there are ads – stupid products, events, news stories. Then something connects with you on a deeper, emotional, subconscious level. You pause – “Woah, that kitten is cute! What is this post? Oh snap, money off pet vaccinations? Well, I’ve been meaning to get my pet to the vet, so this is convenient… Okay, I’m going to download the voucher, that seems easy enough.”

Things To Not Forget When Creating A Visual Disrupting Ad

Here’s how you achieve the emotional response destined to drive action:

  • High contrast, attention-grabbing imagery
    • You want your image to grab attention and stand out among their predictable newsfeed.
    • It doesn’t need to be complicated. In a sea of color photography, a black and white image will break the pattern.
    • It’s true, a picture is worth a thousand words. Yours should tell a story.\
  • Engaging copy fueled by emotional appeal
    • Remember what motivates people. It’s love. It’s fear. It’s FOMO (fear of missing out). Master the craft of emotional copywriting.
  • A simple, direct call to action that doesn’t necessarily give away the deal
    • If you’re having a significant discount, that could be a reason to mention your promotion – get people excited! In the case of VIP Petcare, our discount was small ($7 off). By not including this information in the copy, we didn’t give the user the option to make a decision in the newsfeed – we wanted the clickthrough! Once they’re already on the site, they’ve committed this far, why not take the next step even if the discount is small?
  • Ensure you’re bringing visitors to a great landing page
    • Is your landing page slow? Is it unclear in any way? Does it lack aesthetic appeal? Say goodbye to that visitor, you lost them while they were waiting for your site to load.

If you follow that simple formula, you are on your way. But, to ensure effectiveness, you have to be finding the right people on Facebook, which brings us to targeting…

Targeting Smart On Facebook

I want to make this brief because this is something I’d hope you and yours already know and are implementing on every campaign. Target smart. What does that mean? Follow these five simple steps to ensure your dollars aren’t wasted at any step of your targeting:

  • Segment your audiences so you can determine which ones are fruitful, and which ones are a waste of money.
  • Test your audiences against one another. i.e. target dog owners in one ad set, and cat owners in another. Who should we be spending our money on? Who should receive more of our budget?
  • Retarget those who have engaged with your site, but didn’t convert right away.
    • Website visitors, cart abandoners, etc.
  • Utilize and test other available assets
    • Email lists, segmented page visitors, page fans, page engagers, etc.
  • Make the most of lookalike audiences. Build audiences out of highly qualified website visitors (ex. top 25% of website visitors, added to cart 2x in last 30 days, etc.). Try adding in detailed targeting to refine this audience or test without detailed targeting to see if it eventually performs better. By not adding in detailed targeting, you’re allowing Facebook to learn and do the work for you, but it typically will take a little longer to perform better. Be patient.

sales funnel

See that thing above this sentence? That’s a sales funnel. Get to know it. Embrace it. Understand each layer of its smooth, success-driving frame. Use the funnel strategy. You prospected on an audience and those that clicked through are your warm leads. Don’t let them die – you paid for those! Retarget, retarget, retarget. Retarget those who have been to your site, retarget those who have taken certain actions you deem valuable on your site, retarget your email list, your top 25% of website visitors, your cart abandoners, your page fans, and so on. Again, find what works, prune that which doesn’t. Stay organized.

I should mention that with the funnel strategy you’re bound to see some fallout. Your warm leads don’t always reach the bottom of the funnel (the conversion phase). For example, throughout the months that our ads were live, we had 3,022 voucher downloads. Only 1,613 of those came into one of our stores and redeemed their voucher. This is entirely normal. Haven’t you ever pretended to be super rich and added everything to your cart at, looked at the total, laughed (then cried), and then carried on with your life without purchasing? No? Just me?

Conversion Objective Adaptation

Now for my favorite part of the equation: Conversion Objective Adaptation. When you create a campaign that optimizes for conversions, you’re telling Facebook you want a specific action you’ve decided on to be taken. The strategy behind Conversion Objective Adaptation is changing your objective over time as you hit meaningful thresholds. Doing this allows Facebook to “machine learn” your audience and serve your ads to the people who are most likely to convert.

Facebook is a creepy little app that uses artificial intelligence in real time to learn about its users interests, tastes, preferences, behaviors. This is machine learning. But how can Facebook best understand your audience if you’re immediately optimizing for downloads? Or purchases? How can it know which types of people are more likely to complete your desired action? It can’t, or not at first anyway. You have to walk before you run and that means starting small.

By utilizing Conversion Objective Adaptation, you’re encouraging Facebook to learn about your audience. And by adapting your objective over time as your audience moves further down the funnel, you’re ensuring your ads are being served to the most qualified people. Remember, your job as the advertiser is to understand the system and help it work in your favor, not against you. Don’t be the hare that tries to outrun everyone and win the race out of the gate, be the steady tortoise building momentum.

Here’s how you can apply conversion objective adaption to your direct response campaigns:

  • Optimize first for the top funnel action.
  • Once you’ve reached a threshold of 50 (this is a number provided by Facebook), change your objective to something that further qualifies the prospect. This is a mid-funnel action.
  • Finally, once you again hit your threshold of 50, optimize for your highest priority action. In the Ecommerce example above, that would be purchase.

Yes, this is more work, but I promise this multi-stepped process of assigning an objective is worth it. There’s also some light at the end of the tunnel – this may one day be automatic. We’re seeing Facebook introduce this feature for some accounts, where with the click of a button in the ad set editing phase, you can optimize for both link clicks and conversions. If you have this feature in your account, I definitely recommend you use it. If you’re still having trouble getting conversions, try optimizing for your mid-funnel action (e.g. AddToCarts) before adapting to your final desired action. At least one phase of COA (Conversion Objective Adaptation) has been done for you. Once you lead your audience down the funnel phases, optimize based off performance and keep this party going. Get weird.

VIP Petcare’s Successful Facebook Ads Campaign & A Final Note

In implementing this formula to VIP Petcare, we turned their performance around. After running a voucher campaign for three months, 1,613 vouchers were redeemed in-store.

You could say I’m giving away the secret sauce, but my mom always taught me that you get nothing in life if you walk with your hands closed. Whether you’re the plant stretching for the sunlight, or the gardener seeking new ways to revive a dying bonsai, I hope this peek into VIP Pet care’s successful Facebook Advertising campaign was interesting, inspiring, and insightful. Happy advertising, and if you need any help – someone else will be your account manager because I’m at capacity.


Facebook Social Media Marketing


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