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Stop With the Silly CTR Tricks: How to Think Like a Direct Response Marketer



Alright, I’ve been bottling this one up for awhile but it’s time for me to vent a little bit.

You know that your creative needs to attract attention quickly, that’s no surprise to anyone. Too many marketers on Facebook are trying to accomplish this by essentially “tricking” the end user – adding things like red borders or half naked women because they read in a Facebook for dummies marketing course that’s how to achieve a higher CTR and lower ad fees.

This is what people don’t understand about highly effective marketing: creativity in advertising can’t be borrowed. If you’re doing something with your creative like adding red borders because you heard it’s a best practice or an ‘easy’ way to get more clicks for less money please stop doing this immediately.

This information gets recirculated in forums, coaching programs, meetup groups, and other places where marketers go to learn. It doesn’t take long for these types of ‘tricks’ to become so diluted and overused that not doing these things makes you stand out more than doing them.


Sure, the first person to start adding colored borders to RHS ads on Facebook probably killed it for a long time, but now it’s so overdone that tactic is essentially useless. This is why innovation and creativity must be unique to your campaigns and not borrowed from what you heard works well. Look for unexplored angles, look at what people are running and how you can be different, focus on value and product quality instead of trying the spray-and-pray pick me tactics that are so prevalent on Facebook.

Just to drive this point home, take a look at the ads throughout this post. How attention grabbing are they really when everyone is doing the same thing? These are exactly how the ads were displayed on my profile – all at once using this “high CTR” strategy they probably read on a blog or in some dated Facebook training.

Before I hear about how this post is counter-intuitive to my post on how I achieved a lower CPA for CrazyEgg using a scroll bar in my creative, hopefully you understand the difference. When I created those ads, I looked at what everyone else was doing and found a way to zig where everyone else zagged. Nobody was running ads similar to ours and we used these primarily in retargeting efforts, so the prospect had exposure to the brand already, we just had to get them back on the site to sign up for a free trial.

Don’t be a “me too.” Your competitive advantage as a marketer should be you. Your creativity, insight, unique strategy and ability to find an angle that works should be your competitive advantage, not some silly trick that will decay in effectiveness over time.


Facebook: Please Give Us Precise Interest ANDing

The addition of one simple boolean operator to the ads platform is all that it would take for Facebook to instantly make advertising even more effective and open a new dimension of micro targeting possibilities. Currently, you have the ability to use AND/OR when targeting different category targets but not so for precise interests.

With all of the changes Facebook rolled out over the last year, the rapidly increasing number of hours spent on Facebook, and the continued growth of the social network it’s getting more difficult for marketers to get in front of exactly the right people.

The fact of the matter is that people “like” things they don’t actually like more and more every day. A fanpage might give away an iPad or a free account or a coupon in exchange for you “liking” their page. It’s quickly becoming common practice for Facebook users to like away in exchange for just about anything – increasing the number of interest in their profile and diluting targeting efficiency. This is a problem with ad targeting because your interest targets might be things that people liked or put on their profile for reasons other than actually liking it.


As of today there are 180,000,000 targetable users in the U.S. alone on Facebook and an average of 4.5 billion (with a b) likes per day. The precision and efficiency of existing ad targeting options is slowly declining.

There is hope though – with one small tweak to the way precise interest targeting works Facebook can fix this problem while simultaneously increasing ad relevancy to the end user and ad efficiency to the advertiser. It’s really a win-win-win. What is this magic tweak you speak of, Tom? Simple. Give advertisers the option to AND together interests instead of only allowing OR.

To put this into laymen’s terms, right now when you enter 2 different interests in the precise interest targeting field Facebook will allow you to target anyone who likes either interest: so for example cats OR dogs.


This serves little value from a micro-targeting perspective (and we all know that’s the key to ROI from any type of marketing) because each additional interest you enter increases the audience size and number of people the ad will potentially be shown to. In most cases, that’s the exact opposite of what you want to do – especially if you’re trying to nail down your customer personas.


Lets say I wanted to find people that really like animals – if precise interests ANDing was an option in the ad manager I could do something like this:


(this is a mockup and not actually available as of this post being written)

In this scenario I know that the 42,000 people in the audience are much more likely to be animal lovers than interested in just dogs or cats or horses.

See the difference? 


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