Austin Brawner: What's up everybody? Welcome to another episode of the Ecommerce Influence Podcast. My Name's Austin Brawner.
Andrew Foxwell: And I'm Andrew Foxwell. How are you doing, big guy? How you been feeling?
Austin Brawner: Oh man, I've been doing good. I've been on a wild travel, trip, road warrior mode here for a little while, but it's been a lot of fun. Bouncing around to Mexico, Portland, Maine, going all over and it's been feeling good. That's part of the summer. So I feel like that's... Every time I get to the summer, I'm always excited to say yes to a lot of opportunities. And so that's what I've been doing. How about yourself?
Andrew Foxwell: I tell you what, I got a mountain bike for my birthday and I have been taking this bad boy out. And mountain, in Wisconsin of course, is not generally something you see, there are no mountains necessarily, but hill biking in Wisconsin is what I've been up to. Super fun. One of the clients we have is Trek, ironically based in Madison, Trek, Trek Bikes, huge international bike company. So I've been going out with my friends from Trek a lot and man, it's just been so awesome to get out on the trails and just be in nature and get my sweat on. So yeah, man, it's been super solid, and honestly, I love the summer in Wisconsin. Of course, who doesn't? A nice time of the year. So I feel like everybody's in a good mood too, which is really nice.
Austin Brawner: That's awesome. Well it's important to get outside of our comfort zone a little bit. And you know, today we put together an episode because a lot of our conversations outside of the podcast... You know, we've been talking about what's working, what's not working. And one of the things we keep coming back to when we talk about paid advertising specifically, like paid social on Instagram and Facebook, is that really the biggest lever that you've got as a company is you are creative. And so today we thought we'd put together an episode about creative and how you can improve it.
Andrew Foxwell: Yeah. It's something that everybody's wondering about, and there's some specific things that I wanted to bring up in terms of the content of the discussion. We're going to talk about some clear tactics for improving the system and generating creative, and how to test if it's working, just because this is such a differentiator for people. That really isn't something that there's a ton of info about. There's a lot about, you know, "This is what you should be doing, the 10 things," you know, type of articles, but really there's not a lot of discussion around the fundamentals side of it. And that's really what we're going to get into today.
Austin Brawner: And we're also going to talk a little bit about the difference between creative, if you're spending a lot of money, when I say... Tens of thousands of dollars a week on Facebook, versus if you have a smaller budget. Because again, the principles of creative are there, but the volume of spend changes it a little bit. So we'll go into that, which is definitely something that there's very little information about.
Andrew Foxwell: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Austin Brawner: So let's dive into it. Let's kick it off here.
Andrew Foxwell: Okay. Yeah, I mean... Go ahead.
Austin Brawner: I was going to say, you know... I'm going to pose this question to you, right? Everybody's listening. They've got their own kind of struggles around creative, like how much new creative, what placements to try out, how do you even test all these things? How do you think about creative and testing?
Andrew Foxwell: I mean creative and testing is a totally interesting topic that you could have 10 podcast episodes on just how different people test.
Austin Brawner: Sure.
Andrew Foxwell: And I think we're going to get into the specifics around testing and how people go about it later in the episode, but I guess what I want to say first is, if you have these questions of: how much creative do you need per week? What's the placement you need to try? How do all these variables work against each other? Those are questions that everybody has right now. And if you feel like, if you're a big brand or a small one, that's something that everybody's thinking about.
I think what it comes down to is really the amount. It comes down to the fact of the amount of creative you need to be testing at this stage to stay competitive. Specifically, let's talk about the Facebook and Instagram advertising within the United States. You know, it's really, really overwhelming the amount that you need. And I think Facebook actually said... Some materials they recently sent us, that the top performing direct response accounts that they have, a commonality between them is they created and tested 11 times more creative than other accounts, which is a crazy amount to think about. Right? And there's a lot of shock that comes from that.
But it's easier than ever to create that content because I think we used to go to the professional side and buy you know, professional photographers, which you can still certainly still do, but the user-generated content is something that's really huge. And with a smartphone and good products that get good reviews, you can create what we call user-generated content or UGC, which is really the leading contender for turning up your accounts results.
Austin, what do you think about UGC and the world that we live in as it stands right now?
Austin Brawner: Well, it's super interesting that we are in it in a time and a place where it's not very intuitive, but a lot of times the best performing ads are ones that people knock out on their smartphone in 15 seconds. So a boomerang or something like that for a story. But before I go into that, I want to just touch on the one thing that you mentioned because I think it's really important to think about this. You said Facebook said that the top-performing accounts are testing 11 times more creative than other accounts.
Andrew Foxwell: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
Austin Brawner: So yeah, I think that's a little bit misleading. I think something to think about there is that, okay, their top accounts are going to be spending more, right?
Andrew Foxwell: Sure.
Austin Brawner: And so as they spend more, and the volume increases, they're going to have to be testing more because the creatives are going to burn out quicker. So if you're listening and you're only spending, you know, $5,000 a month, realize that you're not actually going to be able to run as many tests as somebody who's spending $50,000 a month.
So you still should be testing, but just keep that in mind as we go through all this that your tests are going to be somewhat limited by the amount that you spend. And if you're spending, let's say, $1,000 a month, take a lot of the stuff that we're saying about the testing and make sure that you put it in the perspective that it's going to take you a longer time to run those tests.
Andrew Foxwell: Mm-hmm, yeah, that's a super good clarification actually. You're right, they're spending more and I think that that's a big one. I mean, I think at a minimum, whether you're a big brand or a small brand, if you've not tested right out of the gate, so I just want to say, if you've not tested user-generated content, what you need is really two things from the community. You need the, if you look under Instagram, you can look at the tagged photos, so the people that have tagged you in photos. You can ask if you can use that photo. Or if you have influencers that you're working with, obviously, that's another good way to get this creative. And then you can just go to your reviews on your website and you can pull them in and pair a review of that particular product. And you don't even have to share the person's full name or anything, but you can share the date with that particular creative.
So I would say if you don't listen to anything else in this whole episode, right out of the gates, if you can take something from the community that's user-generated, combine it in an ad copy with a review of something like using five different five-star emojis in a row and then put the review. "This product made me feel great. I can't wait. I couldn't wait to get it. And I love it even more. I've already bought more," et cetera. "Andrew F." And then the date, 2019 or whatever. Right? So combining those things at a minimum, that's something that I haven't seen. I have seen huge brands, honestly in the last 30 days, that don't have that baseline integrate.
Austin Brawner: Yes. Definitely.
Andrew Foxwell: Not... Yeah, right, right? And if you've not integrated user-generated content somewhere in your funnel, you're doing yourself a disservice. So I think at a minimum that's one thing that you want to be thinking about. I mean, UGC works for email too, right Austin? I mean, I've never done it, actually. I'm sure it does.
Austin Brawner: Yeah, so when we say user-generated content, I mean user-generated content is nothing, it's not new. The idea of taking copywriting from product reviews has been around forever. Really. If you're ever doing copywriting, you should be pulling your copy from the reviews that people have about your product because you're going to find that's the way that people are talking about your product in a positive way.
It's exactly the same thing whether you're sending emails, writing copy on your website, you know, using the content that's generated by users is extremely effective.
I think that the difference between email and Facebook and paid social is often for imagery, the reason why user-generated content works well on paid social is because it's just matching the native platform. So the images on Facebook are typically posted from someone taking them on a phone where on email, you know, a lot of the times you're using more professional photos that match different sizes. So the text content and the copy often is user-generated and then the images might not be taken from an iPhone. Maybe something a little bit higher-end.
Andrew Foxwell: Sure, sure. Yeah. That makes sense.
Austin Brawner: But if Trek Bikes is listening, you know, you gave a great review at the beginning of this podcast. They could just take that and put it in their Facebook ad. Got, you know, "I love going out in the hills, getting my sweat on. This Trek bike's incredible," Andrew Foxwell. Five stars.
Andrew Foxwell: That's right. Well I think the next topic we're talking about is really the system of getting that and getting to that. Right? And that's really the part that I am really excited about talking about.
Austin Brawner: I feel like that is often the bottleneck for businesses to be able to like continue to scale up their creative. It's that. So what's the first question you are asking yourself about a system for user-generated content and creative?
Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, I mean for me, when we sit down with the clients, it's basically saying, "All right, what is the system that you have established for getting new creative into the funnel now?" Right? And what's common is people say, "Oh, we have some influencers that send us stuff regularly. We have people that email us things and then we forward it to our Facebook people." Or it'll be something like, "I'll send it to our agency and they'll take some photos and run with it." Okay?
Each of these has their own level of effectiveness. But what is rare to hear is the closed gap of... Or closing the loop, rather, of understanding between, "Okay, do you currently understand right now in your funnel what is working? Has your agency told you that?" Right? So that's one thing.
The second question then is, "Am I creating more or do I have a path to create more things like that to continue to experiment?" Because where you run into performance issues is complacency. You run into issues where people aren't necessarily innovating in the creative that they're putting out there, and they're not thinking about things differently, and they're not seeing what other people are doing.
And so that is a common story I hear from agencies all the time, "Man, I just wish they'd get me some new stuff. Man I wish they send me some new stuff. The client would send me some some new images." Or they have a photo person out there, but then it took them six weeks to retouch all the photos, et cetera. And there is a disconnect there. Even in huge, huge brands.
And so really for me it's trying to look at what kind of a system can you set up in your business to make this as easy as possible?
Austin Brawner: And what have you been seeing? You know, why don't you play out... Because you're looking at this for businesses that are spending $100,000, $200,000 a month on Facebook and Instagram. What is an ideal system that'll scale regardless if you're spending $5,000 a month or $50,000 a month?
Andrew Foxwell: Yeah. So I think the easiest system that I have found, and we have clients that are spending under $10,000 a month, the easiest system is to set up a Slack channel where basically the client can take photos of the product, or if they are resizing them, share those product images easier through the Slack channel because then they live there. It allows you to collaborate and share ideas. So if you see an ad that you like, you can take a screenshot of that and send it directly to the client. And because of the Slack app on people's phones, it can be an easy way for them to be out in the wild to take photos of their product, which I do encourage them to do and use those in the funnel and upload them directly to Slack.
Now you could clearly achieve this by having a Dropbox or something else, right? But to me Slack is an easy way because it's communicative, it opens up the lines of communication much easier and it allows you to have a good back and forth there. Right? Even if you have a professional photographer in there, having Slack as the communications channel to upload photos is helpful because it operates just in a timeline format. You can go find them, you can collaborate with that person a lot easier so the client doesn't have to be the middleman in sharing feedback of, "Hey, we want more of this..."
Austin Brawner: Sure.
Andrew Foxwell: So that to me is the easiest way to go about it in terms of what a system looks like.
The other thing, of course, is timing. So how much are you putting in to the funnel? Right? To me, in an ideal world, you need to be adding content at least once or twice a week. Even if you're spending, let's say, $1,000 a month, I think experimenting with creative once or twice a week is a good idea and if you're spending more than, let's say $50,000 a month, it should be obviously a lot more.
Because those remarketing audiences, they want to see new things and we many times, with remarketing, one of the traps we fall in as an advertiser, or brands that are doing advertising is the remarketing people. Those remarketing numbers always look good because people were previously there, but the frequencies might be high and so we get spoiled thinking like, "Oh, the results look good. I don't need to change anything," when in reality you need to make some adjustments, right? You need to always be testing in that low part of the funnel.
Austin Brawner: When you're looking at the frequency, right? So somebody is here, they're listening, they're like, "Oh, that sounds like it could be me." What frequency are you looking at that you say, "All right, we need to start updating creative," let's just say for our remarketing audience.
Andrew Foxwell: Sure. And the frequency that I look at, people do this differently, but for me, on a remarketing audience, it's three impressions every seven days. If you're going above that, you need to be making sure that you're then changing the creative out or you're giving them some variety.
Austin Brawner: Sure.
Andrew Foxwell: So you have... Maybe you're inserting something differently on a more recent window or a one-day or two-day window or something like that.
But yeah, what I want to get across with talking about a system is you can use Slack, you can do whatever you want to. For me, it's a question of how is that... If we can get people off this podcast to think, "How can I set this up to be more effective?" That is really what we're talking about, right?
Which is how can you hear from your agency or the person that's working with you what's working and how does that feedback loop continue? How can you optimize that is really the question, because it's something that is incredibly rare.
Austin Brawner: Well, I think the idea of Slack... I really like the idea of using that Slack channel because you can have multiple people out there who can upload images from their phone directly to Slack while they're going around. If they have the product in their car taking photos, it just makes it relatively easy. So, good. Good stuff.
Andrew Foxwell: Absolutely.
Austin Brawner: Cool. Let's get to the next section, which is, you've got your system, you've started to improve your system. Now let's go into talking a little about sizing and what's working for sizing because you had some very clear information around user-generated content and pulling from reviews. I see issues with sizing all the time. What's working right now? What should people be thinking about?
Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, so super, super simple answer on this one. So sizing is one thing that is also very common, as you said, to see issues with. You see something where something's not sized properly for Instagram or it's cut off or it just doesn't look the right way, right? So there's one feature right out of the gates it's worth talking about, which is asset placement customization. And this is at the ad level, and what this does is it allows you to select different sizes of creative within the same ad set. Okay?
So if you want to customize an image for Instagram Stories within the same ad set as an ad for Facebook Newsfeed or whatever, you can do that and it's going to aggregate the results at the ad set level. That is an incredibly valuable tool that is new. Some people, I've heard, actually don't have this yet, but, but pretty much everyone in the US, I believe, has it. So if you don't let me know and we can help get you this tool. But the asset place customization is awesome, because yeah, you can just customize it and it makes your life a lot easier so you don't have to necessarily create different ad sets by placement if you don't want to.
I still recommend doing that for the lower part of the funnel, separating out Instagram stories, personally, but that's the biggest one. But it's something that in the top of the funnel is a really, really nice tool to use.
Austin Brawner: So let's talk about feeds, and feeds on Instagram and Facebook because those are still, you know, the most prominent places that we're driving direct response ads from. That and Instagram stories. What are some of the sizes... What should people be generally putting out there on Instagram and Facebook feeds?
Andrew Foxwell: Awesome question. So there is a new tool as well at the ad level that's called The Video Creation Kit that allows you to take video, or imagery actually, and you can crop it to different ratios. The best ratio right now, that if you don't have integrated in your funnel I would recommend, is a four to five aspect ratio on the Facebook and Instagram newsfeed. This aspect ratio is just a little bit taller and you can utilize it in a link post or even a video link post, and it looks really good and it takes over just more landscape or more real estate I should say, within the news feeds. So four to five is the one that I would integrate if you can.
The other one that if you don't have integrated is utilizing a one to one aspect ratio. The old days that we have of link posts, which were the common ad unit a lot of people used, you'd share a link, it was 16x9 and this has really been replaced by the one to one, so I would say try the four to five and crop things that way. And then possibly the one-on-one.
Austin Brawner: If you're listening and you're like, "Oh man, this is so annoying and frustrating having to move around and change these different dimensions." If you haven't used the tool Canva, Canva is a really great way to, you know, basically drag all your photos that you want to now move into four by five, re-edit them. Canva works extremely simply and well to create these images in the size that you're looking for.
Andrew Foxwell: Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. So that's the way that... Well, Canva is a great tool and it's a good thing to start to integrate thinking about sizing, especially as you go towards testing.
Austin Brawner: So yes, this is something that I see being extremely frustrating because I don't think that Facebook does a very good job of making testing simple. And testing is also not simple. I guess towards the beginning of this episode, the reason I spent so much time talking about the differences between how much you're spending is that the amount you're spending equals speed around testing and that's where it can get a little bit confusing.
So what's the first question that you're asking before you set up a test or when you're thinking about starting to test advert ads and creative.
Andrew Foxwell: Yeah. I mean I look at this and I ask people and I ask myself, what am I trying to understand? A lot of people want to test a lot. They know digital advertising allows us to AB test really easily. Right? So it's a question of like, what are you trying to understand? What am I trying to understand? Because if you are trying to understand what creatives work against each other, that's a different question than what's going to perform the best. Right? So which is going to drive more clicks, which is going to drive better performance. And so you have to have to kind of set it out. Like, "I want to understand which of these is going to be better in the lower part of the funnel."
In the related thing to that, a line drawn from that is simplicity. Is testing less, in my opinion, than you think you need to. So instead of testing six to seven to eight to nine creatives in an ad set or something try two, right? And that kind of goes to one of my first ways I go about testing. There's two kind of ways that I am testing now that I think other advertisers are also, or I know other advertisers are testing their creative from. And that's what we're going to go into now.
Austin Brawner: Before you get into that, I'm not going to let you off the hook here because that you said something that I think a lot of people might be interested in. You said if you're trying to figure out what ad creative works or what imagery works versus what performs, it's a different test. What do you mean by that? What does that mean?
Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, so on a performance basis there's a differentiation of okay, what's actually working? What's getting clicks? What's getting people to identify with it? Versus what's actually going to drive a sale? Right?
Austin Brawner: Sure.
Andrew Foxwell: So there's creative that is discovery creative. And to me, discovery creative is really driven a lot of times by what are the relevant scores? What are the clicks? What's the click-through rates? Once they get there, what's the time on-site from that using UTMs, right? The discovery side of it is one thing. And that might be different than what actually gets people to buy.
Austin Brawner: Sure.
Andrew Foxwell: And in order to be competitive today, you have to think about both of those things, right? You have to think about the full journey of that particular customer.
Austin Brawner: Sure, that makes sense. So let's dive into the ways you are testing creative. What's the first way that you're testing creative in different accounts?
Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, so the first way is testing creative in a cadence. And really what this to me is, is pretty simple. You basically create two ads in an account, okay? You launch them in an ad set, two, and then you let them run for 48 hours and you turn them off and you duplicate them and start two new ads. I just call that testing in cadence. Some people would put all four of those against each other or they'd put six of them and they'd allow Facebook to choose one, which Facebook will do in most cases. And to me, if you're curious, I like to just test things in cadence. So we'll set up basically three different tests in a week for a particular client where we'll do 48 hours, turn them off, turn on the other two, turn them off, turn on the other two.
Austin Brawner: What are you looking for as you're doing that? So you've got six ads, let's just play it out, six ads, you're going to run three tests, two, two and two. How do you determine... Or what are you looking for that would help you determine success there?
Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, I mean I'm looking at things like the click-through rate. I'm looking at things like the actual purchase, I'm looking at the ratio between unique adds to cart and purchase. That's one of my favorites that I'm looking at. We're looking at the relevance score, we're looking at the unique click-through rate and we're looking at CPMs as well.
And so, you know, there's all of these things that we're looking at together to try to determine, like, is one more interesting or do people find one more interesting than the other? Is essentially what we're trying to put together. So yeah, we're looking at basically clicks and purchases and unique adds to cart as a ratio as part of that. And the thing with the cadence is... The thing I like with this method is it gives them a couple of days to run, see what happens. And you don't give Facebook all the choice basically, which I really, really like.
Austin Brawner: And so when you're running a testing cadence, what type of a budget are you going to need to put behind something like that? So you can, within two days, figure out if it's successful or not.
Andrew Foxwell: Yeah. I mean, the more money you put at it the better Facebook's going to learn. But right now the cost per a thousand impressions has been rising. So let's just say it's $25 per day or $25 per thousand impressions. So you can basically double it, I would say to $50 a day per ad set to test. That's probably the minimum I would want to see on something like that.
Austin Brawner: $50 a day for two days would be somewhat of the minimum on that side.
Andrew Foxwell: I would think so, to really... Because then you're giving it a little bit more room to run. Right? So that's one way.
Austin Brawner: And then you're also going to be running this primarily to cold audiences, warm audiences, or does it even... Does it matter?
Andrew Foxwell: This is a totally new topic of where do you test creatives? And I think people do this in different places. The most common example that I can give or the most common scenario you'll see for advertisers is you'll test them in both parts of the funnel. So you'll have a top of the funnel audience that's a prospecting audience, that those ads are running up there to brand new people that have never heard of you, and to something like 180 day page view, nonpurchase.
So you're running the creative tests simultaneously in both places to neutralize the differences in results by the place they are in the funnel. That's common.
Some people only test it in low funnel and some people only test new creative on top of the funnel, but I like to do it in both places because then you can see, "Oh, okay, my previous purchasers are my 180 page visits that have been there." They find this more interesting than the new people. Or if you see one doing better across both and you know that it's... Then you can head more in that direction.
Austin Brawner: Cool. Cool. Well let's get into the second way that you think about testing. What is that? And why do you believe that's the more efficient way?
Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, the more efficient way is really dynamic creative testing and what this allows you to do is take images, videos, different headlines, different body copies and puts them into one ad, basically, that runs multi-variate tests on its own and gives you the winning combination. So that thing is really, really an incredible tool that I would recommend very, very highly to put different images in, or different video, and have that be the lead first and then keep the copies the same to see how those particular things are performing, and picking the winner. So those are really my favorites.
Austin Brawner: Awesome. Well I know we've got to wrap up here, and we went through kind of a bunch. Is there anything else you'd like to cover before we wrap up? About testing, about creative, any final thoughts that might be helpful?
Andrew Foxwell: I would say get more creative being created, create a system for that, do more experimenting, and I would definitely try asset placement customization, four to five aspect ratio and dynamic creative testing and you'll be well on your way to improving those Facebook results.
Austin Brawner: Awesome. Well thank you. That was a good episode. I love talking about it. Hope you guys enjoyed the episode. If you did, we'd love to get a review. If you've been listening to the podcast for a while, one of the best ways to support is to go head to iTunes and write us a review. Let us know what your thoughts are. Until then we'll talk to you guys on the next episode.
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