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Facebook Ads For Musicians : A Case Study

A few weeks ago we ran a report on “How We Get Thousands of Real Facebook Fans For New Artists” which got quite a lot of attention at the time. Since then, we’ve continued to work with musicians of all levels, helping them build their fanbase with very cost-effective and targeted Facebook campaigns.

Our first article was quite general, and talked about the average kind of campaign we run, so in this post we wanted to take one campaign and share the specific results.

This is how we helped a new band climb from 300 to 2,000 fans in 3 weeks, with $250.

The Sudden Lovelys

Shortly after we wrote that article, Danny Ferraro got in touch. He is one half of the wonderful duo “The Sudden Lovelys.”

The band already had a website, an EP and a Facebook page with 300 fans. They had started trying their luck with promotional tools like Facebook ads, but as Danny said when we first started talking “We’ve gotten a decent response but I think it could/should be better.”

They were growing at a steady pace of a handful of new fans each day, but we agreed that they should definitely be aiming for better, so we agreed some goals and set to work.

Step 1: Build A Landing Page

Once the band had agreed to work with us on this campaign, we set about building a landing tab for their Facebook page. This was going to be the first page that all new fans will see when they land on the page. As you can see from the screen shot below, the one and only goal was to get everybody to click “Like” and connect with the band.

The key to the success of this landing page (with a conversion rate of over 50%) was that the option to download the songs became visible only after the fan connected with the page.

Once the fan clicked the “like” button they were presented with this widget, which lets them get the 6 track EP in exchange for their email address. (You should try it out, it’s a great EP!)

Step 2: Select The Target Audience

Once the landing page was ready to convert visitors into fans, we had to decide  which visitors we wanted to attract. To do this we asked the band to picture their average fan and then asked what other musicians that fan would like.

The important thing to remember when targeting your ad campaign is to keep it as specific as possible, but with as large a number as possible. That may sound contradictory, so let me explain:

Danny listed a number of musicians in answer to this question: The Weepies, Damien Rice, She and Him and many more. Most musicians (and many marketers) will run one campaign targeting fans of all these acts, but that’s a mistake. You should only ever run one campaign per audience – the more specific you can make the ads the better they’ll perform and the cheaper each new fan will be.

So we decided to pick The Weepies and pitch The Sudden Lovelys to their fans. But this brought us to a problem on the other side – The Weepies didn’t have enough Facebook fans (20,000) to make a decent campaign that would get enough fans.

So for both those reasons we decided to concentrate on fans of She & Him. There are 150,000 of them on Facebook, the fans would have the right taste in music and the guy + girl group is similar too.

Step 3: Make (many, many) ads

This is probably the single most important part to any successful Facebook campaign – variations. For this we started with 5 different pictures and 5 different pieces of text, which totals 25 different ads run on day 1. For other campaigns we have run variations into the hundreds of ads, all in the interest of finding the most efficient combination.

If this seems like overkill you have to remember how the Facebook ad algorithm works – the more clicks an ad gets the cheaper it becomes. So if one small change in the text can encourage more people to click and thus decrease the cost-per-click by a couple of cents, it could dramatically increase the number of fans you get from a given campaign.

When we run larger advertising campaigns with a hundred different ad variations, even if the difference between the average ad and the top performing ad is $0.04 vs. $0.02, that results in double the amount of clicks. That means $500 could get you 12,000 fans instead of 6,000 if we take the time to test as many variations as possible.

Step 4: Launch, Cull, Boost

Once we had created all the different ads it was time to start spending money. We launched all 25 with a small daily budget. Here’s a screenshot of how 9 of those ads performed on day 1, with a $10 budget

We let that run until day two, and soon the top 3 performing ads became apparent:

At this stage the top 3 ads were costing roughly $0.30 per click. Given that 50% of these became fans, it was still costing $0.60 per fan, which isn’t an amazing return on investment.

We’ve noticed that a lot of musicians would give up at this stage, but this is only just the beginning. This is why we recommend starting with a small daily budget (relative to the total amount you want to spend), because the ads will always be inefficient in the first few days.

By day 3 we had spent $20 with no real return to show for it – but that’s always the plan. That $20 is an investment in research. We now know which ads are performing best, so we increased the daily budget and pumped it directly into the top two ads.

Within another day we could confidently say which was the best out of those two, so we stopped one and double the amount invested in only the top ad. This is where the excitement starts, as you can see from the screenshot below:

Within three days the top ad had dropped from $0.36 per click to $0.06 per click. This is because Facebook was rewarding the effectiveness of the ad with a lower cost. As the days went on, this became a virtuous cycle, with the following week proving to be even better:

Results

The band have invested over $500 and now have 2,030 fans on Facebook. If you’ve had a look at their Facebook page you can see that all their updates are now getting much more engagement, feedback and interaction. As with all the campaigns we run, these new fans are genuine.

The campaign is currently paused as the band have wisely decided to take some time to get acquainted with their new fans, to make sure they all have a copy of the EP and are enjoying the music.

This means hundreds of people will see every new video they upload, every new song the release and every new date they ad to the tour (coming Feb 2011!). And what would it take to earn a return on that investment? One, maybe two gigs?

9 Comments

Corey Koehler 12:42 pm - 14th September:

Hi Peter,

Did you guys target by location at all OR was it just straight up “She And Him” fans from anywhere?

Corey

Corey Koehler 1:14 pm - 14th September:

Also, it would be interesting to see the ad copy and picture variations that were used to get a feel for what people were responding to.

Thanks!

Alexandra 5:31 pm - 29th October:

Hi,

i had a question. how did you create the backend i.e. facebook tab, screen layout, buttons, “get it now” logic? is it a menu driven layout system provided by facebook? or did you hire a facebook developer to create it?

tx, Alexandra

Peter Tanham 1:05 am - 2nd November:

@Alexandra We code this ourselves using FBML – we have Facebook developers working on our teams here who can build these for musicians.

@Corey – sorry for the delayed response – we didn’t target a specific location, but we did make sure they were English speaking. I don’t have the pictures or copy to hand, but the aim was to try lots of different mixes and see what works – it tends to be different for every audience.

Lee 7:51 am - 8th March:

My problem with “the more clicks an ad gets the cheaper it becomes” is that the clicks themselves are less valuable to you. You can set you target audience to kids and put a picture of a puppy up and get 2000 kids to like your page and get really cheap ads, but what for?

Rob 11:37 am - 24th April:

Really great article, I’d be interested to get an update since the new Timeline layout has been deployed.

Caitlin 11:13 pm - 21st May:

Looks like you guys were using photos of Zooey Deschanel in your campaign – wondering if that’s legal to use her name and likeness without her permission?

MDP_Music 10:20 pm - 15th June:

Facebook no longer allows Fan Gates. It requires everyone to land on the timeline. Can you still create a FAN GATE on a tab FREE MUSIC DOWNLOADS and require the like to gain access to downloads? Will they be liking your page or simply the tab?

What is the minimum amount to invest in the research portion of a campaign to figure out which ad works best.

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