Facebook Ads Case Study: How an Advertising ‘FAIL’ Can Actually Turn Into a ‘WIN’

Today’s post is by Angela Ponsford, an alum of my training program for Facebook ad consultants, the Ad Consultant Incubator. When one of her clients’ campaigns wasn’t going as well as she hoped, we worked together to figure out ways to turn things around. Here are details on exactly what Angela did and what she was able to achieve for her client.

Facebook Ads Case Study
I’ve been running Facebook Ads for clients for over 3 years now. Often, when new clients come to me they tell me ‘I’ve tried ads before but they just didn’t work for me’. However, when things ‘don’t work’ in your ads there are a multitude of things that could be ‘wrong’. The trick is in being able to look at the results you have and make changes based on what is and what isn’t working. And then using that information to make your ads better next time.

In this post I’ll share with you some of the key takeaways from a campaign I was running for a client from September to November this year.

The Client

I started working with Amelia of Undercover Architect while I was going through Claire’s FB Ad Consultant Incubator programme. Amelia has been in the architectural industry for 20 years, but in an offline capacity. She started Undercover Architect in July 2014, and was now ready to promote her first online programme called Your Reno Roadmap.  It’s the ultimate guide to a successful home renovation and designed to support and guide you through your renovation so you save time, money and stress. She wanted to run an ad campaign to build her list and then run ads for a free webinar which was a precursor to selling them the $990 programme.

(What was even better was that I had the support of Claire and the group to help me brainstorm when things weren’t working. And they didn’t work A LOT!)

The Pre-Launch Ad Campaign

To build her email list we ran ads to a free pdf e-guide titled ‘5 Budget Mistakes’. The aim was to grow her list and also get some brand visibility. Amelia was very clear on who she thought her audience were.

Over 34 days we tested 4 different images, 3 different versions of the copy and 5 audiences (Ad Sets). And for a total ad spend of $231.30 we ended up with 110 new leads on her list at a cost of $2.10 per lead.

The 2 best-performing ads:

Amelia Blog 1

Although these results showed a pretty good cost per conversion, they actually were a LOT of hard work to get us to that point. After running the ads for a week it quickly became clear that who Amelia thought was her ideal audience were not actually the ones that were clicking. The most engaged audience was actually women over 45 (and Amelia wanted to target women in their 30’s or early 40’s).

A crappy performing ad:

Amelia Blog 4

So with some serious brainstorming between myself and Amelia and also some suggestions from other people in Claire’s Incubator Program, we tweaked copy and changed the images to end up with the desired audience clicking and converting on the ads. By telling more of a story of the hell that is renovating, we were talking more directly to the pain points of the audience. And that showed in an increased CTR (click-through-rates) and lower CPC (cost per conversion).

LESSON 1 – Don’t assume you know who your audience is going to be.

The Launch Phase

So after we made some changes and got good conversion rates and costs it was time to move on to advertising the webinar. The landing pages and email auto-responder series were carefully crafted, checked & double-checked. We had a fair idea of what images would work based on the pre-launch campaign, so new copy was written and new images created. We started the ads and……. NADA. NOTHING. NOT A SAUSAGE.

In the first 3 days we got 2 signups for an ad spend of $56.84 (and 4,456 impressions). And CTR was only 0.49%. So bad.

2 Signups from this ad:

Amelia Blog 5


Remember, these ads were running to a similar audience as we had previously run ads to and had good results. And because we had the Facebook Pixel installed on her website we had created an audience from her website visitors to retarget with ads and also created a Lookalike audience of those visitors. So going by Facebook Ad ‘best practices’ these ads should have been performing great. But they weren’t.

So Amelia and I had a brainstorm and she suggested changing the description from a ‘Webinar’ to an ‘Online Workshop’. She suspected that the word ‘Webinar’ was foreign to her audience and that it might be off-putting for them because they didn’t really know what to expect from one. We also changed the whole copy of the ad to be much more conversational. And lo & behold it worked! In 24 hrs we got 4 more signups at a cost of $5.43 each (much better than $28.42 per lead!). And CTR shot up to 1.77%!

Here’s the better ad:

Amelia Blog 6

LESSON 2: Don’t assume what’s working for others will work for you. Different markets have different needs and desires.

And also this…

LESSON 3: Sometimes the simplest things are the most effective.

She ran the webinar, got great feedback and made some sales! Phew, happy client.

By the time of the webinar she actually ended up with 35 new emails on her list. So even though Facebook only reported 6 new leads, I suspect that there may have been some more from the ads. I was using the new Facebook Pixel to track the conversions, and many people have reported discrepancies in the numbers, so this could have accounted for the low numbers. Amelia was also emailing her existing list and posting on her Facebook page and Instagram account telling them about the webinar.

LESSON 4: Don’t forget to support your PAID ad campaigns with ORGANIC traffic too (and ideally make sure that you can measure where your traffic is coming from).

Post Launch Phase

The day after the webinar, Amelia called me to chat about her post-launch campaign. She had gotten great feedback on the webinar/workshop, had already made some sales and wanted to make sure as many people in her target market got to see it. Her online programme didn’t start for another 3 weeks so there was definitely time to reach more people. Instead of running ads promoting the webinar replay we decided to run ads for people to get the pdf download that she gave away as part of the webinar signup, which she called the “Renovating Cheatsheet”.

When they opted-in for the pdf, they would then enter an auto-responder sequence with 6 emails which provided more free, useful content (as a nurture sequence), guided them towards watching the webinar/workshop replay, and then purchasing the online programme.

We chose the best performing audience from the webinar campaign and started running the ads. From an ad spend of $192.83 we got 151 conversions at $1.28 per lead. And 2 extra people purchased the full programme!

Amelia Blog 7

This ad was shared 14 times, which is an indicator that it’s really resonating with the target audience. Finally we were nailing it!

LESSON 5: Be flexible enough to pivot and provide something your audience wants.


So for a total ad spend of $507.26 (and taking into account organic traffic too) Amelia has ended up with nearly 400 more people on her email list and some happy people that have purchased the online programme.

There were also these benefits:

  • Facebook page likes increased by 21% (197)
  • Instagram account increased by 11% (302)
  • Website Custom Audience of over 2000
  • Website Unique Page Views up 78% (1989)
  • Website Users up 127% (2132)
  • Website Sessions up 106% (1664)

And what’s even better, Amelia can now use all the Facebook info, plus feedback from those who bought and those who didn’t buy to determine if she needs to create different products. (She’s already talking about creating a lower-priced ‘entry-level’ product and a more well-constructed funnel, as opposed to a quick jump from an email opt-in to a $990 product.) And walking through the process with me has given her much more confidence for running her own campaigns next time.

(When Amelia read the above paragraph she commented with this: “Bloody oath – although I think I’d always use you to set it up – to liberate myself from the stress of not watching the performance everyday was worth it alone!”)

So even though it looked like a FAIL at the beginning, it actually turned into a WIN! Lots of info gained about who resonates with the ads. Lots of info about how to talk to that audience. Feedback from people who are now in her funnel. And ultimately, sales of her product.

LESSON 6: Use the data you’ve already got to make future campaigns better.

(Given the program is active right now, Amelia wasn’t comfortable sharing the actual sales figures but she did want to share this info:

She initially sold the programme as a 30 day email program for $99 with 3 months membership of the private FB Private Group. She later then sold a pdf version of the course content for $99. She got such amazing feedback about how awesome the content & support was that she realised she had completely underestimated the value of what she was offering. Fast-forward 1 year, and for this launch she offered 6 months membership of the private FB group, added in monthly Webinars to make it more of a group coaching program, and put the price up to $990. And so even though she made less sales than previously, her ROI is much higher.)

So to summarize the key lessons learned:

  1. Don’t assume you know who your audience is going to be. Run some prelim ads prior to your main campaign to test the waters and see who is actually clicking on them. And then change up the copy/images if you want to reach a different audience.
  2. Don’t assume what’s working for others will work for you. Different markets have different needs and desires. Just because webinars are converting like crazy for one person, doesn’t mean they’ll do the same for your audience.
  3. Sometimes the simplest things are the most effective. When running ad campaigns we can get caught up in ‘marketing speak’ and forget how to write copy that really engages with our audience. Take a step back and try and get some input from someone in your target audience.
  4. Don’t forget to support your PAID ad campaigns with ORGANIC traffic too. And ideally make sure that you can measure where your traffic is coming from by using duplicate landing pages & lists and also Google Analytics data.
  5. Be flexible enough to pivot and provide something your audience wants. Don’t take it personally if they’re not signing up for your webinar. If they want a pdf instead then give them a pdf! Then nurture them along to where you want them to go.
  6. Use the data you’ve already got to make future campaigns better. This can be a combination of analytical data from Facebook & Google & feedback from your audience.

I hope this case study has given you some ideas for running your next campaign. I’d love to hear what your biggest takeaway was from this campaign. Comment below.

Angela Ponsford Facebook ads consultantAbout the Author

I’m Angela Ponsford and I’m one-half of Dotti Media, a social media management & training company based in Australia. I’m a self-confessed Social Media Addict, and would happily spend all day immersed in learning new skills then sharing the knowledge with you.

I’ve been running Facebook Ads for clients for almost 4 years, and would love to help you get the most out of your campaigns.  Come on over to the Dotti online home, have a look at our services and say ‘Hi’!