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The art of nailing low-cost, high-conversion social media ads

Social media ads can be a low-cost, high-yield business builder, and most don’t do it well. Here is the art of nailing it!



social media ads

social media ads

Let’s play a game

Let’s play a guessing game… what’s got a lot of information, is extremely effective, and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg?

If you guessed social media ads, then you guessed correctly! Your prize is this amazing article about sponsored content ads in social media that help any business grow.

We are talking about the ads that look like Facebook posts, LinkedIn updates, and tweets. You probably have seen them from time to time.

Let me tell you, these ads are amazingly effective when done well. Like anything else.

There is an art and a science to creating a high converting ad, but if done properly the operative word being properly…you can find yourself a killer marketing tool that any entrepreneur can use.

Let’s go into a couple of scenarios (based on true stories) of how these ads will help you.

Scenario #1: the startup eating ramen

Elevatorz (fictional name), a startup providing a service that creates more time for people’s everyday life, was just getting off the ground. The actual website was not even created yet. However, Elevatorz needed to gather a group of beta testers. So, they put up landing page, which they optimized to have a high conversion rate.

Their main objective was to drive more targeted traffic to the landing page to get more beta testers. So, what do they do? That’s right… they turned to Facebook sponsored ads and Twitter ads because that’s where their users were spending time.

First, they turned to Facebook to create dark posts. They went with four different ad groups.

One group focused on young adults who just graduated college and are now in the real world making a decent living while paying off their college debt. There were four major ads. One had a clever headline talking about saving time, money, and a quip about the local university. It included an eye catching image.

The ad took people to a landing page that was a tweaked version of the existing landing page, but it included some content about the University to be consistent with the ad.

The other ads followed suit, but targeted other major colleges. The reason for the colleges is that in the back end of each Facebook ad, the target audience has the demographic of males and females in the age range of 21-26 years old in major cities that graduated from specific colleges with a household income of $40k+.

The best part for Elevatorz is the budget did not have to be huge at first. They spent on average $15-25 a day in the beginning, while they ate ramen, to find the right mixture of ads and see what converts the best.

In the beginning, Elevatorz immediately saw some amazing results. The first week, 100 new people signed up. That was double their normal rate. In the weeks following, the sign ups continued to soar. All in all, the money was well spent because they surpassed their beta testing goals that helped them secure seed funding to really take their startup to the next level.

Now, they are eating some of the best tacos in all the land.

Scenario #2: the B2B bomber

Because we are talking about social media ads, you could have the misconception that this is not a good channel for B2B companies. Well, I am here to tell you that you are wrong. Social media is a powerful channel for B2B businesses as well.

Let’s take a look at the story of a service-based company called ASIV (also a fictional company). ASIV is a commercial janitorial service that cleans offices big and small in the Pacific Northwest. The best people for them to talk to have been owners and office managers.

ASIV has been in growth mode for the last six months. Recently, they decided to commit to using the new way of selling in the 21st century… social media marketing. With that commitment, ASIV has been on a tear writing blog posts, posting helpful videos, and even producing a bi-monthly newsletter filled with helpful content.

Once ASIV had the content part down, they needed to get more eyeballs on the content and essentially, more people to sign up for their emails. The emails are where people get to see the most value and ultimately convert for them.

ASIV set out to create sponsored content ads primarily on LinkedIn because that’s where the owners and office managers spend time looking for business related information. Initially, they created two campaigns.

One for the owners and the other for the office managers. The ad groups within the campaigns are designed to test two different types of content.

The first being a couple of blog posts that they wrote specifically for this campaign. After talking with their sales people and even surveying a handful of customers, ASIV understands the main selling points for owners and for office managers. Then, they created catchy titles for the posts like 5 Reasons (key selling points for owners) and 7 Ways To (selling points for office managers).

The other piece of content they tested was a guide that provided even more value for their potential customers… one guide focused on owners, and the other on office managers.

The guides are almost identical, but a few tweaks accommodated each audience group. Not a lot of time goes into making two separate pieces after making one.

After the bait was set, it was time to go fishing. The ads were created with a target focus on each audience group. The first were the owners in the Northwest region with company sizes of 1-50 employees. The second were office managers in the Northwest with company sizes of 11-100 employees.

You could get even more specific by splitting them up by industries, but that means the content has to be geared towards the industry. Those ads can come after the initial testing has been completed and the winning formula has been established.

Here goes the ads. The headline was catchy and pointed people to the blog post or the guide. It had a picture that complemented the blog/guide and headline.

When people clicked on the ad it took them either to the blog post or the landing page for the guide. Both had strategic calls to action to get people to submit their information for an incentive.

The outcome got ASIV what they needed… the email addresses.

The initial results were low at first on LinkedIn. After the first month of making minor changes, the results started to roll in. The clicks were hitting at a CTR of 4% with a conversion rate of 38%. The email list kept growing and so did the sales. The actual cost for each click ranged between $6-$15 for them, depending on the day and the audience.

At the end of it, the results spoke for themselves. Victory!

Scenario #3: The furniture store

The ABZ furniture store (what do you think…real or made up) is a small local shop with a decent ecommerce website they set up a year ago, but not many sales come from the website. It had been their goal for a while to get more customers in the store along with building up their awareness. And they wanted to expand their reach to go beyond the local neighborhood.

What could they do? You guessed it right. ABZ turned to the local ads on Facebook. Like ASIV, they tested out two approaches with their ads. The first attention grabber was an incentive of giving people 40% off of their first purchase in store.

The second was a blog post titled Top 5 Pieces of Furniture [Enter in College Name] Graduates Need in Their Homes and one titled 3 Essential Furniture Pieces Every Parent Needs. In both blog posts, they listed items that they sold in store and on their website.

The posts linked to the items on the website. Each product page had a big fat banner screaming to the customer that they can get 40% off their in store purchase. ABZ wanted people to come in first and then buy online.

The Facebook ads targeted specific people. There are a couple of different groups. The ages ranged, and some were focused on colleges.

Other targets included families, so in the Facebook ad management platform they entered in specific criteria including people with kids and a specific household income. The one constant factor was the location. They targeted specific zip codes in and around their location.

Every time a person in the zip code was looking on their Facebook that fit all the criteria, they would see the ABZ sponsored content ad pop up in their News Feed.

It ran for 3 months. In the first month, they got 3 new customers who used the 40% off coupon. Two of them got the coupon from the Facebook ad and the other one from the blog posts with the assist going to the Facebook ad. ABZ knows because they asked.

At the end, ABZ received a 300% return on their investment.

The takeaway: you too can see success

Using social ads are wickedly easy to setup and even more effective… if used the right way. It takes some planning initially, a lot of hard work and some creativity. But man, are those costs low.

So, when you do nail it, the returns are humongous. And if you are worried about creativity… I find that a pint of your favorite beer or glass of wine or bourbon always does the trick.

Drink and advertise at your own risk.


Brandon Lewin loves sharing his plethora of experiences, stories, and knowledge of everything marketing with the world with the goal to ensure everyone is marketing the right way. He's an entrepreneur, a marketer, a trainer, and most importantly, a devoted family man.

Business Marketing

How ecommerce brands can increase sales, even on tiny purchases

(MARKETING) These tips and tricks are prime ways to boost the dollar amount spent at checkout and close more deals — even on the tiny purchases!



online sales

There are many marketing techniques aimed at acquiring new customers. Makes sense, right? More customers, more money. But how do you increase sales with your existing customer base? The Average Order Value (AOV) = Total Revenue/# of Transactions. This number is important because it indicates how much each customer is buying. Here are some ways to increase your AOV:

First, it’s crucial to appeal to human nature. People like things for free. So, by setting a minimum to receive free delivery, buyers are more likely to continue browsing and eventually buying, in order to avoid the shipping fee. While we all know that spending $50 when I only meant to spend $37 isn’t ideal, but I’d rather pay $50 for two products, than $43 for one and shipping. It feels like a better value.

Over half of customers will discontinue their transaction when they found out there are additional costs. MORE THAN HALF. Don’t surprise people the wrong way — we don’t like it.

Second, have you ever been to Costco? Ever left Costco with exactly the amount of food you needed? No, of course, you haven’t. The concept of buying in bulk appeals to our sense of value. Oranges are $1.09 per pound but buy a 10 lb. bag and get it for $8.50. Next thing you know, you’re feeding your child’s soccer team as well as the opponents. Offering a discount on package deals and large quantities at least gets your customers thinking about purchasing more.

We all rationalize the need for a good deal. My roommate used to buy two 12-packs of the giant muffins because “They were on sale.” A discount on a package might entice someone who was looking for a little more variety but was hesitant at first.

Next, recommending products is a great way for customers to lay eyes on new things. Not everyone is a browser — some people go straight to a specific section. By using information from previous purchases and browsing history, showing related, best-selling, or recommended products is an awesome way to generate more clicks and potentially increase sales.

Finally, help us lazy people by including a gift-wrapping option at checkout so that people buying remotely for others out of town can send things directly. In order to wrap, they would have to send to themselves, wrap, then send again or deliver to the receiver. The former sounds like it’s worth $6.99 to me!

In conclusion, there are always ways to boost sales with your existing, loyal, customers. If buyers are only purchasing one thing at a time, reflect on why this is. Perhaps a few sweeteners or additional opportunities could lead to long-term growth. Remember human nature and happy selling!

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Business Marketing

Branded content coming to a theater near you?

(MARKETING) A solid attempt to find a new vein for branded content, this silver screen antic seems short lived.



branded content movies

When firing up your laptop to watch branded content have you ever thought, “Man, I wish I could watch this short video on the big screen. I’d pay good money to see this in the theater!”?

Probably not, which is why Marriott’s narrowly distributed lifestyle series Storybooked should be a cautionary tale to other content creators. (It won’t be, but we tried.)

Marriott disrupted the branded content model by screening the entirety of Storybooked in theaters. Yep, you could’ve dropped around $20 to watch an extended branding experience in theaters and if you missed it, it airs on A&E. It also lives on their branded lifestyle blog Marriott Traveler and of course, YouTube.

Created by Marriott Content Studios, Storybooked is a series of short films aiming to “share with consumers around the world the benefits of loyalty to Marriott through the experiences and stories of real members.”

The members featured are international artists and musicians on personal journeys. Each episode is almost formulaic in nature – the artist offers a profound statement about their work or journey, then comes footage of a train, followed by footage of the artist touching buildings, sitting in doorways and enjoying local culture. Sometimes they return to the Marriott, sometimes they don’t.

I watched many of these (from the comfort of my couch) and I’m in no hurry to book Marriott any time soon. I get it, companies are trying to attract a younger and hipper demographic and they think branded content is the way to earn loyalty, but these are lukewarm advertorials at best. They lack the sincerity of originality and authenticity that appeals to a younger demographic. I didn’t even feel compelled to look up these artists’ work to explore more. I didn’t feel compelled to do anything.

If anyone, they might appeal to already loyal Marriott fans, but I’m having a hard time imagining even the most rabid fan forking over the price of theater admission to watch these.

There are brands have been able to successfully dip their toes into more narrative-based ads. Both Kate Spade and H&M have previously created episodic series and short films to promote their lines and they’ve worked largely because even though they’re ads, their creativity and whimsy prevail. I wouldn’t rush to see them in the theaters, but I’d happily surrender a few minutes of screen time to watch.

Will this trend continue? Will other brands seek the same kind of distribution model for branded content? Think of it this way, when’s the last time you found yourself in a crowded movie theater?

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Business Marketing

Ten podcasts that every business owner should hear

(MARKETING) If you’re a business and want to learn something, give one of (or all of) these ten podcasts a listen.



headphones listen podcasts

So many choices, so little time

As podcasts grow more and more popular, it has become increasingly difficult to sort through the sea of excellent options out there.

From interviews with business leaders to industry specific advice from experts, podcasts are an incredible free and convenient way to get a small dose of inspiration and knowledge.

Business podcasts for your listening enojoyment

This short list offers just a taste of the myriad of business podcasts available. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur looking for some tips on breaking into a new industry or a seasoned vet hoping to get some new inspiration, we hope you’ll find something here worth listening to.

How I Built This, hosted by Guy Raz.

Podcast fans will recognize Guy Raz’s name (and voice) from TED Radio Hour. While that show can be a great source of inspiration for businesses, one of the most consistently inspiring shows is his new project that shares stories and insight from some of the biggest business leaders in the world. In just four months, Guy has talked to everyone from Richard Branson and Mark Cuban to L.A. Reid and Suroosh Alvi. While there are plenty of excellent interview-driven shows with entrepreneurs, if you want to hear about the world’s best known companies, this is your best bet.

The Art of Charm, hosted by Jordan and AJ Harbinger.

The Art of Charm is a business podcast by definition, but the advice it provides will definitely help you in other parts of your day-to-day life as well. With over three million listens a month, the incredibly populat show provides advice, strategies and insight into how to network effectively and advance your career and personal life.

StartUp, hosted by Alex Blumberg and Lisa Chow.

If you’re an entrepreneur, there is no excuse not to be listening to StartUp, the award-winning business podcast from Gimlet Media. The show’s talented hosts come from incredible radio shows like Planet Money and This American Life and bring a top-notch level of storytelling to the show, which provides behind the scenes looks at what it is actually like to start a company. Now on the fourth season, StartUp is one of those business podcasts that even people not interested in business will get a kick out of.

The Whole Whale Podcast, hosted by George Weiner.

One of the best things about podcasts is the wide variety of niche shows available that go in-depth into fascinating topics. One of those shows is the Whole Whale Podcast, which shares stories about data and technology in the non-profit sector. You’ll get detailed analysis, expert knowledge and can hear from a long list of social impact leaders from Greenpeace,, Kiva, Teach For America and more.

Social Pros Podcast, hosted by Jay Baer and Adam Brown.

Navigating the surplus of social media guides online can be a nightmare, so look no further thna Social Pros. Recent episodes talk about reaching college students on social media, the rise of messaging apps, and making better video content for Facebook. Plus, there are great case-studies with companies doing social right, like Kellogg’s, Coca Cola and Lenscrafters.

Entrepreneur on Fire, hosted by John Lee Dumas.

One of the original entrepreneurship shows, Entrepreneur on Fire has logged over 1,500 episodes with successful business leaders sharing tips, lessons and advice learned from their worst entrepreneurial moments. Sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking, always inspiring, this show is sure to have at least one interview with someone you can learn from.

The $100 MBA, hosted by Omar Zenhom.

Think of The $100 MBA as a full-fledged business program in snack-sized portions. The daily ten minute business lessons are based on real world applications and cover everything from marketing to techology and more. Cue this show up on your commute to or from work and watch your knowledge grow.

This Week in Startups, hosted by Jason Calacanis.

This is your audio version of TechCrunch, Gizmodo or dare we say The American Genius. Each week, a guest entrepreneur joins the show to talk about what is happening in tech right now. You’ll get news about companies with buzz, updates on big tech news and even some insider gossip.

The Side Hustle Show, hosted by Nick Loper.

This is the show if you want answers for the big question so many entrepreneurs face. How do I turn my part-time hustle into a real job? Featuring topics such as passive income ideas, niche sites, and self-publishing, host Nick Loper is upfront and honest about the tough world of side hustles. The show features actionable tips and an engaging energy, and may just be that final push you need to grow your gig.

Back To Work, hosted by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin.
Focused on the basics that you don’t think about, Back To Work looks deep into our working lives by analyzing things like workflow, email habits and personal motivation. Somewhere between self-help and business advice, Back To Work takes on a new topic relating to productivity each week.


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