Here’s a real-life case study of how cosmetics brand Seol Young grew so rapidly with Facebook ads that their stocks couldn’t keep up with their sales.
And since this strategy worked during the peak of the Covid pandemic in Thailand, it’s as bulletproof as most marketing strategies get.
Today I’m going to run you through step-by-step on how you can apply this strategy to your business, and how you can achieve numbers like these:
Seol Young’s owner currently runs 4 to 5 Facebook pages by herself, all selling cosmetic products.
She was already getting around 3–4 times her investment into Facebook ads on these pages combined. That’s a great return considering she was doing everything herself.
So what was the problem?
Like thousands of other businesses that use Facebook marketing, things started going downhill when Facebook started lowering their ads’ reach in late 2019.
That meant it cost her more money to reach people with her ads.
She had to spend more to get the same amount of orders every month, and her returns were decreasing gradually.
But here’s why she couldn’t just pour in more money and expect that everything would be OK:
Facebook normally shows your ads to people who are most likely to do what you want them to do.
Whenever you set up a Facebook ad campaign, they’ll force you to select a Campaign Objective.
They’re these choices in the red rectangle here:
Whether you want people to buy (Conversions), send you a DM (Messages) or comment on your posts (Post engagement), Facebook shows them to those who are most likely to do it. Within your budget.
If your budget is low, Facebook targets a smaller, more concentrated audience.
If you increase your ad budget abruptly, without making other changes to support the higher budget, Facebook automatically targets a larger pool of people.
Larger audiences generally mean there’s a higher chance you’ll be reaching a lot of people who aren’t ready to buy from you.
That means you’ll generally have to spend more on average to get someone to buy. This is partially why your returns dip if you inject too much money in at once, without refining your audience.
Another reason is how fast Facebook ads die off. This is when well-performing ads gradually—or suddenly—get more expensive to run and eventually get so non-profitable that you have to stop running them.
This is something called Ad Fatigue.
The main reason why ads die off when you increase your budget is because your existing ads continuously get shown to the same people who already aren’t interested in your product.
If someone’s already seen the same ad before, and constantly aren’t interested, it makes the ad less profitable as a whole.
So unless you create enough ads to prevent ad fatigue, chances are you will lose money from abruptly increasing your ads’ spend.
Seol Young’s main challenge, like many businesses, was they didn’t know how to switch up the strategy to scale the budget.
The owner needed a way to cement her business in the super-competitive and rapidly-growing cosmetics industry in Thailand.
Now that we’ve understood what the source of the problem was, we identified Seol Young’s goals and challenges to determine the owner’s best solution.
The owner’s primary goal was to be able to scale her budget without losing money, as soon as possible.
1. She didn’t have a working strategy to increase her budget without watching her returns suffer.
2. She was also doing all the marketing herself, in addition to all the managerial duties. AND she was doing it for several pages at once.
She needed someone to get her better results and eliminate the need for her to get involved, so she could focus on being the owner!
When you do marketing campaigns, it’s either you’re getting more purchases from all the work, or you aren’t. Cut out the ‘what ifs’ and stick to KPIs that are really in line with your business’ needs.
Seol Young needed a way to get more sales: not comments, shares, reach or page likes.
But as we’ve learned through the years of serving clients globally, tuning your social media ads for direct purchases doesn’t always result in more sales.
Instead, the key KPI behind Seol Young’s success was the amount of messages they were getting in their Facebook Inbox.
Let me explain why. Seol Young’s primary audience—women in Thailand looking for a cost-effective way to look better—have probably seen thousands of cosmetic products advertised online before.
The audience needed to know how this brand of cosmetics was more worth their money compared to other brands.
Seol Young’s product was already fairly unique. Their flagship gel helps peel dead skin and impurities off the user’s face.
That gave her product a fighting chance because it wasn’t just another whitening cream on the market.
But at the end of the day, most people need to ask questions before making their purchase.
And that’s where messages came in.
In our experience we have found that for Thailand, messages via Facebook’s Inbox are currently the highest-converting form of communication.
Although messages require more effort, it’s generally worth all the work you put into it.
All sorts of discussions can happen within messages between you and the customer, from inquiries about product quality to new promotions.
Even payment slips are submitted via Inbox after already making a purchase.
Thus, we kept Seol Young’s KPIs simple: We tied the amount of messages they were getting per day, back to the amount of sales they were getting.
If sales were increasing, it meant our ads were working. If not, we tested with other approaches. (more on this in Step 3.2 below).
Here’s another case study where we applied a similar messaging campaign structure to help increase a beauty clinic’s sales by 129%.
Seol Young’s founder was actually already using messages before she started working with us. But they got more expensive whenever she scaled her budget.
So here’s what we did to ensure that didn’t happen:
One of the most powerful tools in Facebook marketing is the platform’s ability to separate those who already know who you are from those who have never heard of you.
Logically you would focus aggressive promotions on people who already know who you are, because they’re more likely to buy.
Someone who has never seen your products before, on the other hand, would not understand what problem your product can solve for them. So that means lower intent to buy.
This thought process was directly reflected in Seol Young’s Facebook ads. We split the ads based on 2 types of audiences:
The gist of the strategy is we showed cold ads to cold audiences, and if they still didn’t buy, we hit them with remarketing ads. Here’s what they look like:
The cold ads focused more on a problem-solution angle to educate the audience why Seol Young mattered to them.
Here’s what the best-performing cold ad looked like:
The text of the ad gets straight to the point, educating the audience why using expensive creams doesn’t improve their complexion.
Then it frames the product as the solution, and tells the audience to send a message to find out more.
Cold ads are designed and worded as if you’re meeting the audience for the first time.
It’s like a job application, where people are first expected to send their resumes over and write a killer cover letter that shows you how their skills would benefit your company.
Then if you like their application, you’ll call them in for an interview. That’s where the remarketing starts, because they have to do whatever they can to get you to hire them.
Remarketing ads are designed to convince people who have already seen your product, but aren’t entirely convinced yet.
So discounts, testimonials, or the number of satisfied customers could all be good approaches to try out.
Here’s a remarketing ad, shown to people who have already seen the cold ad above:
You can see a number of key differences in this ad compared to the previous one.
The problem-solution format is no longer needed. Now that they knew how Seol Young could help them, they needed proof that the product worked.
The remarketing ad thus used a clear face with a bigger, testimonial from a real customer (screen-capped for authenticity) to create trust with the audience.
This sequential targeting was part of the backbone behind Seol Young’s success.
So that’s the key difference between cold and remarketing done.
But now you may be asking yourself, “Then which part should I spend more money on? Cold or Remarketing?”
It depends on your product or service.
If your product is a little on the expensive side, chances are people will be more willing to buy after they’ve seen your remarketing ads.
They’ll need time to make a purchasing decision in that case, and pushing promotions during the remarketing stage is one way of driving more sales.
But in Seol Young’s case, the products were already affordable (290THB + free delivery at the time of writing this case study).
This makes it a bit more impulse-purchase friendly, and that meant most of the direct messages came from cold ads.
The remarketing part was there to ensure the people who didn’t buy from the cold stage, did end up buying after they were targeted again.
Now that we’ve played down all of the info above, here are the results of all that work:
In the intro, we covered these results of Seol Young’s first month with us.
Here’s an easy way to understand how all of the key achievements above worked together to help reach the 1.2Mil monthly sales revenue:
We also averaged a conversion rate of 57.50%: That means over half of the people we showed ads to ended up buying!.
1. Always start with the strategy
The simplest way to develop a sustainable ad strategy is to sync your sales goals with your marketing efforts from day one. Make your marketing efforts share 1 KPI, and tie everything back to the amount of sales you’re getting.
If the observed KPI doesn’t work, pick another KPI, hypothesize that it will effectively lead to more sales, and test it until you find a winning formula.
For Seol Young, it was the amount of messages, as it fit best with their customer demographic.
2. Do it fast, and stick to the plan
Chances are other businesses are probably doing some variation of the strategy you need right now. And the longer you wait, the more market share you’ll lose to them.
In many companies, the bosses and their marketing teams are often surprisingly not all on the same page. And the bigger the company, the worse it gets.
Sticking to the plan by measuring 1 KPI at a time will simplify things and make everything easier for your team to follow, no matter how big the team is.