Monday, February 14, 2011

Why didn't our Valentine's Day Facebook campaign work?

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

We thought we'd experiment using Facebook to target male friends of our Shoes of Prey fans with a Valentine's Day ad, to see if we could encourage purchases of Shoes of Prey gift certificates for Valentine's Day. Unfortunately the campaign didn't work at all, our ads simply weren't clicked on and I'd love to hear your thoughts as to why.

To the left is the ad we used. We were targeting male friends of fans of the Shoes of Prey page aged 25-64. We set the landing page as a special gift certificate tab on our Facebook fan page. The reason for doing this was so the social element would be added to our ads, anyone seeing the ad could see which of their friends liked our fan page, and because we were only targeting friends of our fans, everyone who saw the ad had at least one friend who liked our fan page. If your landing page is your Facebook page then the social element happens, if you use your own website as the landing page then there is no social element to the ad. We ran the ads in Australia, New Zealand, the US, UK, Canada and Ireland.

For our normal Facebook ads we get a reasonable amount of traffic for around $0.15 per click. We bid between $0.20 and $0.40 for our Valentine's Day campaign (a higher amount for Australia which converts better for us). Overall we had 26,000 impressions and a dismal 7 clicks on these ads. The normal click through rate for our Facebook ads is around 0.1%.

The obvious reason why this didn't work is that the image just didn't attract guys to click on it. Our theory was that the image would catch the eye of guys as a Valentine's Day reminder and the social element would encourage them to then click on the ad. Any thoughts as to what we could do different next time? Did any other Valentine's Day ads on Facebook or any other ad networks catch your eye this year?


  1. Michael. Sorry to hear it didn't work!

    As for me - I know who Shoes of Prey are - as my wife is constantly on your website :) However, let's assume I didn't know.

    1)Not the most helpful insight, but I generally don't pay attention to any ads on Facebook.

    2) The image wouldn't have appealed to me. If I would have caught it out of the corner of my eye, I would have seen ladies shoes and therefore I would have thought it's an ad that should have been targeted to women.

    3) I might have read the headline - but I probably wouldn't have read the description - which is the clincher. I suppose this is just the limitations of a Facebook ad - but it's a shame the 'idea' of Shoes of Prey and the voucher couldn't have been larger/clearer - so I would have seen that first. Maybe that should have been the image?

  2. Hi Michael, You know I love your work, but the words "unique and exciting" in an ad make my eyes glaze over. It's like when you read "proud to announce" in a press release. Did you a/b test the copy? Cheers, Steven.

  3. I don't think I have ever clicked on a facebook ad. However, I do readily accept peoples recommendations on facebook as they carry much more value for me. What might make for an interesting experiment is to get a few 'influencers' to link, post and refer to such an offer and see what traffic that generates?

  4. Great thoughts here, thanks guys.

    Ian -
    1) A lot of people give that feedback about Facebook and Google ads but there is a large enough percentage of the population who did click on them, both ad networks work for us.

    2) any ideas on what image we could use that would catch your eye and be appropriate for a Valentine's Gift idea ad?

    3) Yeah, that's a tough one. If you use your Facebook page as the landing page then the title of your Facebook page has to be the ad headline = frustrating. It was a choice between changing the headline and losing the social element so we went with the social headline. Changing the image could help here I agree. We tried to make it look gifty and valentine's dayish to grab attention that way, but clearly that failed. If you have image ideas let us know.

    Steven - good point on the 'unique and exciting' in the text. It really is a unique and exciting gift though! You're right, we should have A/B tested and didn't.

    Money for Nothing - It's a good suggestion and we tried something similar. Jodie wrote a blog post on our Shoes of Prey blog about a gift certificate as a gift idea and shared it on our Facebook page. The only trouble is it's hard to track so we're not sure if it worked.

    Thanks everyone. Additional thoughts very welcome.

  5. My thoughts echo the others
    - i think the photo isn't clear enough to see out of the corner of your eye (as one normally does when watching Facebook ads)
    - The headline issue (which you addressed0 is probably the major problem for me- Shoes of Prey (if you oddly don't know what it is) says nothing about what you're offering in your promotion
    - I dare to say I think the text is too dense, simple and short may have been better?

  6. Hey Michael,
    I'm a long time reader, first time commenter.

    Here a couple of ideas from the view of a creative working in design/advertising.

    1) The image doesn't appeal to me. It's too small to see what it is clearly. Maybe a tighter crop around the show would have had more impact. Personally I would have gone for something like a "sexy" women's foot/leg with a brightly coloured shoe. This probably would have got more male eyes on it.

    2) I would have written the headline to be something along the lines of "Let her pick the perfect Valentine's Present". Basically take the effort out of gifting for the guys. That's the whole point of a Gift Card right?

  7. Hi Michael,

    There are three areas I believe you could have made some improvements:

    1) Headline - For a male audience who are not aware of your brand, the "Shoes of Prey" headline would have done little to catch their attention. Your brand awareness in the female demographic is growing (based on some of the women I've spoken with lately). However, I don't believe the same level of awareness is true for us blokes. In our own experience across FB, while brands tend to pull higher CTR, a strong headline, image and call to action (win a chance for free ???) is often necessary for lesser known brands to get them across the line.

    2) Image - With such a small image you really need to make it stand out. While the shoes in the current image look nice, I would have made them more prominent and went with a little more skin. For example, a close up of someone wearing the shoes would been enough to draw my attention.

    3) Copy - As others have said, the copy could be improved. I would have tested something a bit more playful: "Give your Valentine the gift of pleasure: a gift certificate at Shoes of Prey. Shoes that fit or your money back."

    From there it's just a matter of testing (which is a tough with the few number of impressions that you did receive).

    Cheers... Tom

  8. Thanks Amelia and Michael. I like the idea of the sexy woman's leg with brightly colour shoes, perhaps that's a better angle for guys than the Valentine's Day reminder image we thought would work.

    It's such a shame we couldn't change the headline, that would make a big difference I'm sure.

    Lighter text = not a bad idea Amelia. That's something we should A/B test.

    Thanks guys.

  9. Thanks Tom. Good thoughts regarding the call to action. We had gone with 'Order online now for fast electronic delivery' but good to test other options.

    Agreed on the image.

    I like the idea of more playful copy too.


  10. Hi Michael,

    I love that you use this blog to share real experiences and solicit advice - very smart move.

    A few thoughts on increasing FB ad effectiveness ...

    Guys aren't generally in the market for women's shoes - but around the second week of Feb they might just be in the market for a jet out of jail free card (even if it costs $250-$350). How about visualising the effect of giving the gift voucher? The joy and gratitude that would result - the shoes are just the vehicle to enable that.

    The copy could really play around with this. "Need a thoughtful last minute gift?"

    You can get the benefits of a "social ad" in facebook if you fully implement Open Graph on your site. You're nearly there - you just need to add page type and change the image.

    We've written up a guide:

    In the ad manager, you will be able to select your web site pages for targeting friends of connections.

    I would also play with upping the CPC amount and creating many more ad variants.

    FB advertising is a tough nut to crack. If all this fails, you could just get gratuitous like these Gold Coast real estate agents ...

  11. Hey Michael, with my experience in Facebook ads the order of importance is 1) Image 2) Headline 3) Text and it's really really weighted towards number 1. I would say the split is around 70/25/5.

    So with that, I would have focused obsessively on the image. Also, by showing women's shoes that doesn't really connect with the male buying the shoes. Make it around the benefit of having gotten your girlfriend/wife the shoes. So something like a man getting a kiss on the cheek or some picture of a woman really ecstatic. I think the shoes are too literal.

    Also, as previous commenters have noted, the headline should have been more benefit oriented (being unique by giving her exactly what she wants). The other good thing to test is something to do with the person being better than their friends in a similar situation or another tract of testing could have been around fear "Don't you dare give her flowers this Valentine's Day" etc.

    Either way, biggest mistake was not creating 5-6 horses to run in the race!

  12. Good comments.

    You have lots of stunning photos on your site, and while the FB ad was really stylish I think, like others said, that it needed to be bigger/bolder.

    The ad didn't spell out the value proposition to BLOKES. I'm not meaning to be rude but the style was a little like a guy's mother making a "nice" suggestion to him, wasn't it? I think that you needed to be as bold as your shoes and from the what-guys-want angle.

    Thanks for sharing your experience, it's useful.

  13. Hola Foxxy! Great to hear you guys are still doing so well. So, a few things. First, after taking an informal survey of about 4 guys in my apartment at the moment....
    They hardly ever click on Facebook ads in general. And for their Valentine's Day gifts, they all had something already planned out for their significant others including dinner, flowers, chocolate, etc. So they weren't really looking for any gifts to purchase and definitely not looking online.
    Valentine's Day is tricky. Most guys seem to buy stuff in person (at stores) or make reservations for something (concert, dinner, theatre, etc). I also feel that the few guys who do buy pressies online for their significant others wouldn't necessarily pick a shoes gift certificate unless their significant other LOVES shoes. Lots of different factors involved I guess. But here's a thought.. Maybe if you geared the ads towards WOMEN. Sort of like a "Celebrate Valentines Day by buying yourself something you want."- Women love shoes and we'll look for any excuse to buy them. I know my friend bought herself a gorgeous bouquet of flowers just because (Even though her boyfriend was probably going to buy her something similar for the occasion). Just my two cents :) xoxxx

  14. If you are going to target them at men there is probably two angles which will work for you, one is the 'killer present' angle, i.e. you are getting her something which she would love but she hadn't thought about for herself. The other angle is that if you get her some very nice shoes then you get to see her wearing the very nice shoes, it was a combination of both these things that got me :) I am unsure how they translate to small format advertising though, it complicates things somewhat.

  15. Hey Foxy, hope you're well. When were these ads run? Maybe the wording should've been more specific to target guys who forgot about or didn't get around to buying a V day gift. Something like "stuck for a last minute gift for your loved one?" or something that prompts them into action. How easy is it to buy an online voucher? Instantaneous! And perhaps you can mention that vouchers can be any amount from $50 upwards or whatever denomination you sell these in so that the price point isn't an issue. Just some thoughts and yes David makes a point that small format advertising is restrictive in how much information you can include. Hope you're all well.

  16. More awesome thoughts. Thanks everyone.

    Ian - That guide is brilliant. I hadn't realised the social features of the ads could be integrated with your website as your landing page in that way. Do you know if this then means the title of the ad would be restricted to the title of the page? And I imagine the social features would be restricted to people who like that specific page. If that's the case we'll still face some issues as we'll want to point people to a page with 20,000 likes as opposed to a unique gift certificate page that might have a lot less likes. Very cool that you can do that stuff tho. Loved what the real estate guys did, very creative (not that we should go down that path!).

    Niki- very interesting to hear your 70/25/5 image, headline text split. Love ur image ideas and agreed, we should have A/B/C/D tested. What's your experience in the best way to set this up? Google AdWords makes it super easy to run multiple ads and automatically starts showing the best performing ad. I don't think Facebook does this. How have you managed A/B/C/D tests?

    Walter - in hindsight I think you're right about the pic. We thought it would work and didn't brainstorm other ideas enough because we were so pushed for time at the time of creating the ads so went with one rather than multiple ads. We've got plenty of ideas now for next time though!

    Jess - Good thoughts and thanks so much for doing a survey of your guy friends for us! Those are some excellent insights, perhaps it's always going to be hard targeting guys for Valentine's Day gifts.No reason we couldn't do separate ads targeting girls with an ad along the lines of what you suggest, that's a great idea.

    David - I love the 'killer present' angle, those ideas could potentially be portrayed in a photo I think, I like Niki's idea of an excited, attractive girl receiving her shoes or giving a guy a kiss on the cheek.

    Vin - great ideas around wording. Good for us to test those options, mentioning power price denominations is a good idea too. Hope ur well too!

  17. I agree with Vinzena, offering smaller vouchers is a good idea, as you mentioned yourself, $220+ for Valentines Day is a stretch for most guys. Ahat dates did you run the facebook campaign? i've found that advertising too early or too late has a dramatic effect on click through and conversion rates. Lastly, did you do any other Valentines Day advertising and was it successful? You may find that your product is more suited to Birthdays & Christmas then Valentines day, given that (in my questionable knowledge of what women want) most women want something tangible they can show off to their friends like flowers or jewelery etc. rather then a gift certificate.

  18. Hi Sean. Mentioning the smaller values for the gift certificate is a good idea, i guess it's a trade off with the ad text space tho. Definitely worth testing. We ran the campaign 6-14 Feb which should have been prime time. That was the only marketing we attempted for Valentine's day this year. I think we are more suited to birthday's and Christmas given the price point, but in my view it's still a pretty unique and cool gift to give. I know if we weren't doing Shoes of Prey and I gave a Shoes of Prey gift certificate to Jodie she'd think I was pretty damn on the money giving a different, unique, fashion related gift like this, so in my view it has the potential. Last year we had some coverage in TechCrunch and Springwise the week before Valentine's Day so we had a big spike in gift certificates sales then. We've grown more than 10 times in the last 12 months but gift certificate sales for Valentine's Day this year were about on par with last year.

  19. Sorry I don't click on those ads! :) And don't think you can beat the immediate impact of nice bouquet of flowers!

  20. I ran it past my boyfriend (who should have been targeted by that ad since I Like Shoes of Prey), and he said he got nothing from the title "Shoes of Prey" and had no idea what the product was so wouldn't bother reading the blurb or clicking the link. He suggested the Valentine's promo should have been in the title, not the company name eg. "Need a Last minute Valentine's Gift?" or something like that.

  21. Agree with Vin's last minute comments. Red Balloon's marketing efforts are based on this premise.

    How many people buy Valentines gifts in advance versus on the day? Would people be more in the practice of ducking out to get a bunch of token flowers or chocolate he day? In that case, in how many workplaces is Facebook blocked? How many people do online shopping in their lunch break versus at home? Next year, do you need to do cross promo deal with an online Rose company and also perhaps reach people through the TV screens in elevator lifts (do they work) and napkins at shopping centres in CBDs (if they work)?

    Agree you might need vouchers of different amounts? What is the average spend?

    Definitely need to target females in a relationship, so they can drop the hint. Is there a relationship on the amount you'd spend for new versus old relationship?

    Re times, might be worth cross checking dating trends which definitely increase way before Valentine's day. Is there research on the length of relationship and amount of spend?

    Finally, you need a worldwide list of dating trends, celebrations and events (if you don't already have one)

  22. Hi guys, cheers for all your thoughts. Jaspar, agreed, tough to beat the immediate impact of a bouquet of flowers... perhaps next year we can offer something to go with the voucher that does have immediate impact.

    Angela - agreed on the headline being an issue. We can't change that without losing the social features of the ad or doing some hefty programming on our site so it's a tricky one. We'd figured seeing that one of your friends liked Shoes of Prey would be worth more than the headlines, but perhaps that's something we should test.

    Great thoughts as always Sib. Targeting females to drop the hint is good, though we actually tried that last Christmas and it didn't work, tho we could adjust our approach. Reviewing dating trends/times is worth looking into, cheers.

  23. I would have gone with a title like "Find out what women really want this Valentines day" and a picture of sexy legs with bright shoes :)