Which 50% Of Your Ads Budget Is Working?

I was fresh out of Uni with this client and was cutting my teeth on Facebook Ads and you would think that having a successful Ad would be all ‘woohoo I am great at this’ but there was a building niggling doubt as to why it was so great. What did I do that made work so well? How do I repeat it?

In my first full circle Facebook marketing campaign using cold and retargeting strategies, I had built a winning Facebook campaign which saw an increase in turnover in one product segment of the business by $70k per month for 11 months in a row on a $2k spend, for a highly competitive industry. 

But I had no idea why it was working so well apart from some link between the Audience I curated based on interests, with product images, offer and the copy|story in the Ad.  I had no idea which one was the golden part.

Knowing Which Ads Were Working & What Happened In The Middle

The consistent return on ad spend meant the business experienced good growth which lead to hiring more people and implementing more digital systems in their business. Once we had the new normal under control, the owners start asking some questions when it came to their Ads and growth goals that I just couldn’t answer.

  1. Grow their business into other markets for their products and services, which both had established strong competitors.  
  2. Produce a 20% return on Ad spend in both Google Ads and Facebook.

The 2 KPI’s they wanted made me realise I needed to know tracking and forecasting to make sure we were hitting the targets in our marketing and sales goals.

I needed to develop a marketing calendar where I could forecast by identifying any trends in what people were doing from each Campaign and how could I move the budget throughout the year so we kept the growth steady but without wasting money in the Ad and content creation budget. 

I could see patterns and trends in reading the Source/Medium report and using basic goals but it just wasn’t giving me the insights I needed to develop a smart marketing plan.

The client sees their turnover increase but questions all the pieces you have in place because they think the client does the first buyer journey, above ^^.
When in reality it’s a lot of more detailed than that.

Learning Analytics Is Complicated Until It Isn’t

You know the saying, don’t ask a mortgage broker if you should buy a house, cause you will only get the one answer. Right!

Facebook Analytics can be like the mortgage broker when it comes to telling you who caused the conversion, Google Ads agencies were also saying they were getting great conversions from Ads but as I learned more about Analytics on both platforms causing a page view is not a quality engagement especially since 60% of most visitors to any website spend 10 seconds or less on the site. 

Friction 1. So I figured out that viewing a Page (impression) is a vanity conversion and we were paying for that as that is what was set for Conversion tracking!  

This was noticeable as we grew into more markets, the budget for the Ads started to creep up to over $10k a month, we needed to make sure that the budget we had was working as hard as it could and there were many gaps in what we should be setting up as a Micro and Macro goal to get better insights from our Facebook and Google Ads budget.

But I was missing a key part of the engagement journey which was the conversation the clients were having with themselves. When I went to train with the best Google Ads guy in Australia, his first tip was ‘Irene, know your numbers otherwise the rest of what you are doing here won’t be as effective’.

Friction 2.  I needed to know how to make the conversions in Facebook and Google Ads tell me way more than whether they visited a page or made a purchase or form submission.  

Pageviews and conversion analytics is all good until you are getting serious when it comes to segmentation and smarter data with your Analytics, you need to know what is an ‘almost converted’ behaviour.  Google calls this, the messy middle.


This is what I learnt, it was a painful process, but worth it in the long run.  

The analytics I needed wasn’t being provided by Facebook or the Agencies I had outsourced ad buying to, they gave me the beginning (pagview) and the end (bought, called, or filled out a form) and not the messy middle.   This is where optimisation happens.

Modern marketing needs to be conversational, you need to know your audience and you need to know how they behave. This is what tracking the messy middle can tell you.  If we don’t, we’re missing how to know them if all you are tracking is the beginning and the end of their journey.

The gems are in the almost bought behaviour.

Through Google Tag Manager, listening to the story in the clicks, it began to show me where people lost interest and why people converted. I slowly got a better understanding of what people were doing in the messy middle and worked out who was worth retargeting and what they needed to know at their next step.

This ended up with a reduction in Facebook spend to the key Ads that were still converting on that platform and moving 60% of monthly budget over to Google Ads.   In the 3rd month on the other side of COVid my same client is having his best month of the history of his business, he’s also going on a holiday in September to the tropics to shake off some of this years stress.

segmentation funnel


You need to know how to set quality triggers for Micro (almost converted) and Macro (converted) goals in Google and FB, the juicy part comes in the middle (micro goals), in order to know your audience, you need to know what is happening in the messy middle because that is where decisions are on the fence and smart retargeting can help them convert.  

There are 3 key ways that I use Analytics data to help build smarter campaigns for my clients.

  1. What are your Micro triggers, what are the activities that an engaged user does that warrants them being added to your ‘Need A Nudge|Retargeting Audience
  2. Set up your Google Tag Manager Account and use that to do all your tracking for both Google and Facebook activity.  
  3. Set up Funnel segments and view that in your Source/Medium report so you can identify which campaigns are bringing you in high quality leads.
  4. Make sure you have your tracking on your Facebook Ads set up correctly so you can easily identify which image, CTA and Ad id is giving you the best results.

With 9 years of digital marketing experience what I have seen happen over time is that people do research before making a purchasing decision. Both on social and in search.

Being on both Google Ads and Facebook for most businesses will help you achieve your goals while making your customer feel like they made the right decision buying from your clients.


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