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5 High ROI Uses for Facebook Custom Audiences

Just about everyone knows about Facebook’s custom audience feature by now – but most don’t know that you can get extremely creative with the way you use them.

Most marketers simply upload their entire list and use it to push products. That strategy works…but the application of custom audiences goes far beyond that.

My team has tested hundreds of approaches for using custom audiences but I always find a small handful of techniques drive the highest ROI, by far.

Here are 5 ways we use custom audiences that generate 5-10X ROI for almost all of our clients…

Build up hype for a launch or new service


If you run the type of business that does product launches custom audiences could be a big time game changer for you.

One of my favorite ways to build up excitement around a launch is to upload my most responsive list segments to Facebook and nurture them with launch ads for the upcoming product. As far as creative – I recommend making a special launch video that introduces the product to the prospect, shows them the value and why they should care, then gives them an option to get on an ‘early bird’ list. Now you have a laser targeted segment that you know is interested in your new product. (hint hint, mail these people more often)

Nurture prospects at different stages of the funnel

facebook-custom-audience-hyper-responder-segmentSome sales teams have incredibly complex sales cycles – they can literally span months at a time for some industries. If you’re segmenting your list based on the different stages of your funnel (i.e. prospect, qualified prospect, engaged prospect, customer, premium customer) you can upload each segment as its own audience then use it in your ad targeting.

What to use for creative? Lets say your sales team knows qualified prospects are mainly interested in your competitive advantages – you can tailor your ads to speak to that question to increase response and conversion rate to the next step in the sales cycle. Figure out what type of messaging compels customers to take the leap to the next stage of the cycle and focus on that.

Create a lookalike audience based on buyer list

Lookalike audiences are probably my favorite targeting option right now. We’ve had a ton of luck with them, especially in the last few months. If you upload your BUYER list to Facebook and create a lookalike audience, it will automatically find new people to target with the same interests and demographics.

But wait…it gets better. You can take a lookalike audience and continue to filter it by any of the standard targeting options. For example, lets say I took the Conversion Juggernaut buyer list and uploaded it as a custom audience then created a lookalike audience. If I was trying to sell my email marketing course I can then take the lookalike audience and filter it down by people who like “Andre Chaperon.” That makes the audience even more targeted and success even more likely.

In most cases lookalike audiences will work great on their own, but don’t forget you can always continue to filter them down to target a more specific demographic.

Custom audiences based on different interests or needs

If you can’t tell by now, I’m all about hyper granular list segmentation. You should setup as many list segments as possible: buyers vs. non-buyers, responders vs. non-responders, owners of specific products, customers that have spent over a certain dollar amount with you, etc. You never know when those segments will come in handy.


One way you should definitely be segmenting your list is based on what people buy so you can sell them more stuff they actually want. My list is segmented based on interest in different digital marketing topics like email marketing, Facebook ads, AdWords, SEO, Analytics, etc.

Now if I release a product related to one of those topics…guess who I’m going to email first and most frequently about the new product? But we can take it a step further with custom audiences…

Uploading these segments to Facebook will let me target people that have raised their hand and told me “I’m interested in what you have to say about email marketing.” Hopefully you can see how powerful that is…

Exclusion audiences (buyer segments)

When optimizing Facebook ads, the little tweaks and optimizations can add up big time and save you a lot of ad spend. Don’t forget to use exclusion lists to prevent certain people from seeing your ads.

If you’ve never used an exclusion list…

Basically, you can tell Facebook NOT to target certain people which is the inverse of normal custom audience targeting.

Why would you want to do this?

To prevent certain people from seeing your ad that you know won’t take the offer. The best use for this is to exclude your buyer segments – if they’re already a customer they probably aren’t going to buy the same product again, so showing them an ad is a waste of money.

But you can take it well beyond that…

You can exclude the “freebie seeker” segments that never buy from you…or the people who have only invested small amounts if you’re launching a big product…or people that are already on your list if your goal is to generate opt-ins…

If you’ve never used an exclusion audience, you can set these up in Power Editor under the “Audience” section when creating your ads:


Just always keep in mind that little optimizations go a long way and can be the difference between a break even campaign and a profitable one.

Try these out and don’t forget to always be looking for creative ways to use custom audiences. Facebook pioneered this technology and we as marketers should be constantly pushing the boundaries on what’s possible with them.

What are some of your favorite uses for custom audience targeting not listed here? Let me know below!

Crash Course to GMail Funbox Targeting – How to Steal Competitors Customers

I have a handful of useful methods that I call ‘ninja tricks’ – they all fall under this definition:

Ninja trick: simple tweaks, hacks, or methods that get results nearly every time

Did you know that you can setup AdWords campaigns to show your ads when competitors emails are being read by their customers? This is known as “funbox targeting” and is one of my favorite ninja tricks. It’s never not worked for me.

If you’ve never heard of the GMail funbox, this is what it looks like:


You can use the funbox for all kinds of stuff like targeting keywords, but my favorite method is targeting competitors brand terms.

How to Setup GMail Funbox Targeting

In this example, I’m going to show you exactly how we setup a competitor targeted funbox campaign for Crazy Egg and some of the reasoning behind why this method is so powerful.

The first step is to login to the AdWords interface.

Once you’re logged in click the + Campaign button then Display Network only.


Choose your basic campaign settings like geo-targeting and budget then click through to the ad group creation page.

Once you get to the ad group page choose the ‘display keywords’ option then enter your competitors brand terms.


Pro tip: subscribe to your competitors email list so you can see the verbiage and wording they use in their emails. This will help you reach more of their customers.

Next, click the +narrow your targeting underneath the display keywords box, this will let us add in the GMail display placements. If you leave these out, Google will place your ads anywhere on the Internet that mentions the keywords with display inventory available.


Add these 2 placements to the display placements box:

  •,Top center


Click Save and Continue.


Now it’s time to write your ad copy. Remember that you’re doing this to get in front of people in your competitors funnel – they might be early stage prospects, middle stage prospects (MoFU), or existing customers. The key here is to succinctly explain why they should do business with you instead of the competitor.


I highly recommend using the ad copy to highlight your competitive advantage over the competitor. In this case we’re targeting Clicktale which is a major competitor of CrazyEgg. The biggest competitive advantage CrazyEgg has over Clicktale is the price: CrazyEgg is about 80% less expensive with similar functionality.


If you were a Clicktale customer, wouldn’t this ad pique your curiosity enough to investigate the claim? Who wants to pay 80% more for a tool that has the same functionality?

Depending on your offer and what your product or service does it might make sense to create a comparison page for your landing page. The comparison page should show the features & benefits of each company and illustrate the major advantages of choosing your solution over the competitor. GetResponse has a comparison page you can model that does a great job of this.

Now click ‘Save ads’ and you’re done!



Now that this campaign is up, whenever an email being read in gmail contains the word ‘Clicktale’ my ad will be eligible to show up.


The funbox doesn’t only work for targeting competitors though – there’s all kinds of ways you can leverage the ad slot like:

  • Targeting competitors
  • Targeting research based keywords (top of funnel)
  • Targeting buyer keywords (high intent – middle to lower funnel)
  • Targeting industry terms & jargon (conferences, slang, etc.)

Be creative and give it a shot. Let me know how it works for you.

Facebook Ads Wishlist: 6 Facebook Ads Features I Can’t Live Without Any Longer

Facebook ads is by far one of my favorite ad platforms for generating brand awareness and direct response conversions. The ad targeting options are completely unprecedented. You can target people based on demographics (age, location, gender), psychographics (likes, interests, desires) and now with partner targeting based on behavior and habits.

No other ad platform has this much raw power in its targeting capabilities. You can filter down to your most ideal customer by comboing together all of these targeting options.

With that said, Facebook ads still leaves a lot to be desired. Despite their recent efforts to improve and optimize the ad platform there’s still some “no brainer” missing features…

Frequency Capping

How often you show your ads to your audience is known as campaign frequency. For some products, you might need 30 views per person to make a sale, where others might only need 3. This is something that you should test but currently you have no control over the maximum number of times your ad is displayed to each unique user per day. Frequency capping gives you control over how often people are exposed to your ads. In some cases you might need to be extremely aggressive, where in other cases more than one or two impressions per user per day might upset your audience.


Optimizing ad campaigns usually comes down to making small, strategic tweaks that make your ads more relevant or timely. Dayparting is a standard feature on many other ad platforms, like Google AdWords, but is still missing as a Facebook advertising tool. There are software solutions available that will let you setup a dayparting schedule but Facebook should offer this natively instead of making me use a 3rd party tool.

If you aren’t familiar, dayparting is the process of setting a schedule to tell the ad platform when your ads should show up. For example, lets say you run a brick-and-mortar store that operates and services customers from 9-5 Monday – Friday. You wouldn’t want your ads to show up on the weekends or after hours, right? In this scenario a dayparting schedule that turns your ads off on Saturday, Sunday and between 6PM – 9AM would be the most optimal schedule.

Dayparting isn’t just for physical stores though, here are a few other scenarios where it can, and should, be used:

  • If you sell more products during a certain part of the week (i.e. right before the weekend).
  • If you tend to sell more products during a certain time of the month. If you’re B2C keep in mind people typically get paid on the 1st and/or 15th.
  • If you have better lead quality at a certain time of the week.

Precise Interest ANDing

why-or-doesnt-work-for-precise-interestsI’ve wrote about it more than once. If you ever talk to me about Facebook Ads you’ve probably heard me complain about precise interest ANDing. If Facebook made one tiny tweak to the way precise interest targeting works Facebook Ads would instantly become a much more powerful and profitable traffic source.

When you create an ad, if you use more than one precise interest Facebook targets anyone that likes interest A or interest B. Digital marketing (and PPC more specifically) is most effective at an extremely granular level.

Lets say you want to target people who are likely entrepreneurs and copywriters. If you enter entrepreneurship and copywriting as precise interests Facebook will target anybody who likes entrepreneurship or copywriting, making your audience larger instead of smaller.

Making the audience larger is almost never going to give you better results.

Facebook – PLEASE, I am begging you, give us the option to AND interests together so I can spend exponentially more money with you.

Ad Rotation Options

Facebook still hasn’t developed a reliable algorithm for rotating ads in an ad set.

Right now, if you put a group of 3-4 ads you want to test into an ad set you’ll notice that one will get impression priority WAY too quickly. Basically, your other ads will never see the light of day.

In my opinion Facebook should have several rotation options similar to AdWords that let you rotate ad variations based on:

  • Clicks
  • Impressions
  • Conversions
  • Rotate evenly
  • Rotate indefinitely

In the mean time, a good workaround for this is putting each ad in its own ad set with its own budget. It’s a little bit more work to setup but you can be sure that your ads are getting even amounts impressions.

Precise Interest & Category Breakout Reporting

The new reporting manager in Facebook Ads is significantly improved over the old reporting but still leaves a lot to be desired. (sorry Facebook)

Currently, you can breakout campaigns in the reporting manager by:

  • Campaign
  • Ad set
  • Ad
  • Ad Objective
  • Country
  • Gender
  • Placement
  • Destination

But you know what you can’t do? You can’t see which precise interest or category target the conversion is responsible for. This is another reason (aside from the lack of precise interest ANDing) I only use one precise interest per ad. There’s no other way to know which one worked.

T0 sum up my complaining: unless you’re using one precise interest per ad, you have no way of knowing which is generating conversions.

For now, only use one category or precise interest target per ad.

Precise Interest Freshness

This one would be a serious game changer for advertisers. The problem with precise interest targeting is that as time goes on, people “like” more and more pages, often times without really “liking” the product or business. The average number of likes per profile is increasing every day since people don’t actively unlike pages.

If someone “liked” the Los Angeles Lakers page 3 years ago, do they still like them? Have they changed their allegiance to a different team that’s performing better? Did they only like them because they had a phenomenal season or a star player they follow?

If Facebook added a ‘freshness’ feature that lets you choose how recently the person liked a page, we can be more confident in answering some of these questions.

If I can choose to target people who liked the Los Angeles Lakers within the last week or month I can make some assumptions about whether they like the team right now.

Another example…

Lets say you want to promote your health book about the Paleo diet by targeting Paleo related pages. If you can target people that have liked “Paleo” within the last month you can assume they’re just getting started and encourage them to hit the ground running.


What Facebook Ads feature(s) are you waiting for?

5 New Ways to Use Facebook Custom Audiences You Never Thought Of


Custom audiences are one of the many Facebook marketing tools I use to do thoughtful analysis that makes a real impact. With a custom audience you can target your entire list or specific segments of your list on Facebook but the practical application of custom audiences goes far beyond that.


To create a custom audience, prepare your list (or segment) as a single column .csv and download Facebook’s Power Editor plugin. There are several options for custom audiences: email addresses, phone numbers, user IDs, and app user IDs.


Keep in mind that you can upload different list segments to use with any of these methods – the level of granularity is up to you. Uploading your entire list can work for ad targeting but think about trying segments like:

  • Customers who have purchased
  • Frequent and reoccurring customers
  • Hot leads and report opt-ins
  • Webinar attendees
  • Conference/speaking engagement attendees
  • Customers who came from specific traffic sources (SEM, Facebook ads, display ads, YouTube, etc.)
  • Unsubscribe list (gray hat)
  • SMS text messaging list
  • Get creative – the possibilities really are endless

Alright, Tom. I’ve got my custom audiences uploaded to Facebook and I’m ready to do this thing, now what?

Here are 5 out of the box ways to use Facebook custom audiences:

1. Analysis against social interests

With custom audiences you can determine the affinity between your product or service and another interest or brand. Some useful applications for this type of analysis:

  • What other products or services do your customers like?
  • What interests do they commonly have?
  • What are some of the things they don’t like?
  • What related hobbies do they have?

How to do it: create an ad targeting only your custom audience, then apply the corresponding precise interest filter in Power Editor. For example: if you want to know how many of your fans also “like” a competitor setup an ad targeting your custom audience then type in the competitor as a precise interest. The audience size you end up with is the overlap between your audience and theirs. (think about it like the middle of a venn diagram)


2. Determine how social your list is

After uploading your custom audience to Facebook you can find out exactly what percentage of your customer base is on the social network. This can be extremely useful for determining how social customers are and in some cases help determine if marketing your brand on social media channels will be effective.

3. Demographic breakdown of segments

Did you know you can also do demographic breakouts of a custom audience the same way you pull ad counts for precise interests? How much of the list is men? Women? What states and regions are they from? How old are they? This type of information can free up 80-90% of wasted ad spend and help create a better ad targeting strategy.


Lets say you upload your hot prospect list which only contains leads that have opted-in for a free white paper and clicked one of your ads within the last 30 days (these types of segments are possible with marketing automation software like Infusionsoft). You might find that 85% of the list is women, 50% live in California, and 100% of the list is between ages 20 and 35. Knowing this you can target exclusively women that live in California between the ages of 20 and 35. This isn’t only useful for Facebook either, you can use this type of demographic insight on other channels as well.

Some eye opening uses for this type of analysis:

  • Determining gender skew
  • Finding which age brackets account for your core customer base
  • Finding the most common geographic locations of customers
  • Using partner targeting you can determine average income level of your customers

4. Lookalike audiences

Another feature many marketers ignore on Facebook is the use of lookalike audiences. How it works: upload your list as a custom audience and Facebook will automatically match the demographic and psychographic qualities of your list with similar users.


This helps get your brand in front of new prospects that are similar to your existing audience. There are 2 options for lookalike audiences: reach and similarity. Reach will give you a larger list of people to target but similarity will match the interest and demographic profile of your list as closely as possible. Both are worth testing!

5. Lead nurturing

rhs-facebook-ads-lead-nurturing-socialHow well rounded is your lead nurturing program? Sales funnels, especially for high ticket items are generally not going to be two steps. You need to provide value up front, then provide more value and thought leadership, then nurture your leads by staying on their radar until they trust you enough to do business with you. I don’t care what business you’re in, nurturing your leads is going to make your marketing more effective.

Then, when the time is right figure out how you can help them and do it. If you’re only sending a plain “thanks for signing up” email you need to rethink your strategy. Use marketing automation to regularly rotate in fresh prospects once the existing leads are lower in the funnel from your nurturing efforts.

Did this post give you some ideas? You don’t have to use these tools “as is” – think of creative uses to maximize your output, make your targeting more effective or more granular, and most importantly drive measurable ROI. If you think of any other uses for custom audiences I didn’t mention let me know in the comments!

How to (and Not to) Protect Your Brand on Search Engines


I’m a huge fan of running brand campaigns for all of my paid search clients, especially when they lack real estate on the first page of search results.

Since the first listing on search engine result pages (SERPs) capture the lions share of the clicks it’s important that you show up #1 for all of your branded search terms.

If you aren’t #1 you’re either being outranked by a competitor organically or your competitors are bidding on your brand terms and stealing customers that are ready work with you.

I was recently in Las Vegas for Pubcon and I met the owner of a small hosting company called Zeneva. He went on and on about how great his company is at web hosting and how great they are at search marketing as well. After an hour or so of hearing him talk up his company I left the conversation with a business card that was likely to go in the trash by the end of the day.

Fast forward to that evening, I was emptying my pockets in my hotel room to follow up on some legitimate leads and found his card on top. I thought to myself “why not see if they’re really as good as I was being led to believe?”

I ended up Googling the name of the company and found this little gem:


A competing hosting company, Peer1, is bidding on “Zeneva hosting” as a keyword and used “Hosting for Grown Ups” as the headline in the ad copy. Genius.

Think about this for a second: a prospective client wants to do some digging on your company so naturally they turn to Google – what’s the first thing they see? An ad for a competitor in the #1 position with a headline that makes you second guess your decision about working with them.

This is why protecting your brand terms is critical.

Now here’s another example, this time showing how to protect your brand terms, especially if you have a competitor (or a company with the same name) outranking you organically.

One of our clients over at Single Grain, an artificial intelligence and robotics company named Anki, recently ran into this problem. Anki’s website was brand new and there was another very established company with the same name that sold flash cards with an aged website and lots of indexed pages.

Our SEO team started setting the ground work to take over the #1 position immediately but we knew it would take at least several months to confidently take over that #1 spot.

To prevent losing prospective customers interested in purchasing Anki’s new product we setup a brand campaign to protect them from losing branded search traffic.

We setup campaigns for every variations of their brand terms and because brand campaigns usually have a near perfect quality score it only cost $0.05 – $0.20 per click.

You can see in the screenshot below that we’re getting closer to dominating the first page organically for branded searches but until then we’ll keep protecting branded traffic by outranking the flash card site with our brand campaigns.


The big lesson here: being #1 for brand terms is extremely important. Not only is it important to be #1, you need to own as much of the first page real estate as possible to absorb all of the attention you’ve already earned. If prospects are taking the time out of their day to find you don’t make them hunt for your page or accidentally end up a competitors website.

Is your brand protected?


Facebook’s Public Rollout of Custom Audiences and What It Really Means

Over the last several weeks Facebook rolled out custom audiences to all users with a Facebook advertising account. The new set of changes also allows advertisers to create custom audiences outside of Power Editor in the Facebook ads manager making using them even easier.

The pilot program Facebook launched to test custom audiences was clearly a smash hit and custom audiences proved to be an extremely effective tactic for advertisers. The capabilities have quickly grown from allowing solely email address to the addition of other customer identifiers like phone numbers, PID’s, and mobile app user ID’s. With the breadth of custom audiences options now available you can get extremely creative with the way you use them and their application.

If you’re familiar with Power Editor then you’ve probably noticed the “Audiences” tab or are already using custom audiences in your ad campaigns.

Facebook’s intentions with the new custom audience feature is pretty obvious: make it easier for less sophisticated businesses & business owners to leverage custom audiences in their Facebook marketing. This is the same reason the “boost post” button exists.

This update is another stride Facebook is taking towards making complex advertising options more viable for small businesses.

If you look at some of the more notable changes to Facebook this year from a marketing perspective you can clearly see this is what Facebook is trying to achieve: 

  • Introducing the “boost post” option on fanpages (more exposure at the push of a button)
  • Simplifying ad units and available placements on Facebook (less complicated and easier to launch a campaign quickly)
  • Objective based ad buying (instead of using the tools available to craft your own strategy, let Facebook do it for you)
  • Making custom audiences available to everyone in the ads manager (Don’t know what Power Editor is? No problem! Facebook’s got your back)

new-facebook-audiences-ad-managerThe new “Audiences” tab can be found in the left hand column of the ads manager.

Facebook will keep moving towards making ads management so brain-dead simple that any small business with the ability to setup a fanpage will be able to run ads. With 875 million daily active users Facebook has a lot of ad inventory to sell and by making advertising easier, they’ll do just that.

To drive this point home Facebook took this a step further by allowing you to import custom audience directly from MailChimp with the click of a button. Now you don’t even need to know how to create a single column csv file to upload a custom audience – you can simply click a button and import your list.


I can’t blame Facebook for adopting this strategy and I’m sure this will work in their favor for now, but eventually there will be a quality problem. If anyone can throw up an ad without clear campaign objectives and some digital marketing experience, there’s going to be a flood of ineffective low quality marketing that will likely be perceived as spam.

I’m going to make a prediction that within the next 8-12 months Facebook will adopt some type of quality score similar to Google. The first step is making it easy for anyone to advertise, the second step is keeping user experience intact and adopting some type of quality measurement to reward marketers that take the time to do things correctly.

What do you think about these changes?

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? 


Stats source:

How to Use Human Curiosity to Pique Interest and Improve CTR

One of the biggest problems facing digital marketers is getting the attention of prospects through more traditional online marketing channels like display advertising and other forms of PPC. Banner blindness is a very real problem and is getting worse by the day, but there is hope!

To solve this problem you’re going to have to get creative and use different aspects of human nature to your advantage. One thing a lot of us don’t take into account is how curious most people are, if you put something puzzling or slightly off in front of a prospect they’re much more likely to both pay attention and respond to your marketing efforts.

Remember: you don’t have to explain everything about your product or service in your marketing – focus on improving CTR and let your landing page do the heavy lifting. Too many marketers try to cram their entire sales pitch into a tiny ad when listing the main benefit and your value proposition is all that’s necessary.

We’ve been testing some new retargeting strategies for CrazyEgg to bring back in lost customers that didn’t convert. One of the more promising retargeting channels we are currently testing heavily and seeing great ROI with is Facebook ads. If you aren’t familiar with Facebook ad optimization take note that the image in your ad is almost always going to have the largest impact (good or bad) on your CTR and overall ad effectiveness. We’ve tested a lot of images to see what really works best for driving clicks and bringing back in those lost prospects and the results have been interesting to say the least.

So what does all this have to do with human nature and curiosity? Well this ad is one of our top performers:


Most digital marketers would say that we should use a picture of a heatmap or showcase the software in some way to maximize performance. We tested all that and this ad image out performed almost every other variation in both clicks AND conversions. Remember that this is a retargeting campaign so the people seeing this ad have been to the CrazyEgg website and have seen the guy in the ad somewhere even if they can’t remember exactly where. If you look at your Facebook news feed you’ll notice that there aren’t many ads with strange images like this one so it really stands out among the rest and actually has a chance of being seen by lost prospects instead of just being looked over.

I wanted to take this a step further and see what we can really do to improve this campaign. I knew the fact the guy in the ad is “peaking” over the bottom would grab prospects attention and ultimately drive clicks, so how can I take this concept a step further?

Next we took the above image and tried adding different borders, colors, layovers and all kinds of different elements to the image to see if we could improve the CTR at all.

What we’re the results? The following ad saw a 300% increase in CTR and the only change to the image was the addition of the little scroll bar to the right hand side of the “CrazyEgg guy” in the image. The scroll wheel combined with “the guy” peaking above the bottom of the image proved to be something that drove curiosity and ultimately a much better CTR.


Not only did we see a 300% lift in CTR but our average CPC decreased from $0.86 to $0.66 for a 23% decrease in advertising fees. When your ad spend is in the thousands per week these kind of optimizations can make or break paid marketing efforts and give you some wiggle room for profitability.

The big takeaway here is to use human nature to your advantage – test lots of images and see what really captures your prospects attention. Once you find some images or ad copy that are working well test a new set of variables like we did in the above experiment to take your paid marketing to the next level.


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