Cast a Wider Net With Advertising

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Increase the reach of your best-performing actions & seamlessly integrate new supporters

Paid email acquisition can be an excellent strategy to grow your base of donors and supporters—and when done right, it can pay for itself. In the last couple years, more and more organizations are finding that paid Facebook email growth can be the lowest cost and highest return option. And if you are able to develop a budget for email acquisition, no matter how small, you can easily try this method for yourself.

Keep the following six points in mind as you begin to use Facebook advertising to promote your best actions.

Pay only to promote the best

Before diving into the rest, you’ll want to follow this first simple rule: only pay for your highest-performing content. It’s simple enough, but it has a huge impact on success. Whether using “boosted posts” or creating new ads, make sure to only put real money behind content that would naturally get high performance with your audience. If you can, use your Facebook Page to organically test posts to see which one would do the best. By spending money on only high-performing content, you’ll ensure the lowest-cost ads and the highest sign-ups.


Effective ads mean effective targeting

If you are going to pay to promote actions, you want to be sure to only promote to the right people—people who are not already on your list and who look like your supporters. And fortunately, Facebook can make sure you do just that.

3 goals every Facebook Manager should track

There are two basic types of audiences that you can start with for targeting:

Custom Audiences: Allows you to upload your entire email list. This can have a match rate between 30% and 70%, reducing how many of your current supporters see your paid ads.

Lookalike Audiences: Allows you to take the email list you uploaded via custom audience and create a lookalike audience to use to target new supporters that look like your current supporters. You can also target people who visit your website using a remarketing pixel and create a lookalike audience of this group as well.

But just know that targeting can be as much art as science and you want to tweak and experiment as you go. There’s a whole host of other creative ways to target your ads. You can target people by demographics such as age, gender, political affiliation, or by behaviors such as charitable giving. One of the more powerful targeting tools is “interests”, which targets people who like specific pages, allowing you to connect with people who like pages similar to your own.

Choose the right kind of ad

Once your targeting groups are all set, consider what type of ad you want to run. Generally speaking, ads fall into the following categories:

CPC/PPC: This method is the easiest to control. It’s exactly like the Pay-Per-Click advertising that’s been around a long time via Google. If someone clicks on your ad, then boom—you’re going to pay the price you bid.

CPM/PPM: Instead of clicks, you pay a certain amount for 1,000 impressions or views. Do keep in mind that CPM ads never sleep and can run around the clock, so your costs could get out of control if you’re not careful.

CPA: This is where you pay for specific actions: Page likes, app installs, clicking links, etc.

When considering what type of ad you want to run on Facebook, there are two important points to keep in mind: objective and optimization.

There are a few different types of objectives to choose from as you are creating your ad:

  • Clicks to site
  • Web conversions
  • Page post engagement

And within each of these objectives, you can optimize for different outcomes:

  • Post engagement
  • Daily unique reach
  • Impressions
  • Clicks
  • Web conversions

There’s no magic formula here and objectives and optimization will vary depending on your ad goals. However, many organizations are finding success for email growth using ads with an objective of page post engagement optimized for post engagement. It’s an easy place to start as it allows you to focus on only promoting the posts that are getting great initial organic traction. Another popular type is web conversion ads so consider giving that a try too.

As you work more with your organization’s Facebook ads, you’ll learn what combination of objectives and optimizations work best for your organization.

Creating a budget

Aim to pay just $10–$20 and watch what happens before spending more. If thing are going well, increase the ad spend over time. If your bid starts too high, it could increase the overall cost of your ad buy! Keep in mind that as you ramp up, you might increase the cost in the long run.


At this point, it’s important to know what you are willing to pay. Whatever tactics you use for recruiting Facebook supporters to your email program and beyond, make sure that you’re measuring it every step of the way. You’ll want to track cost and outcomes, but consider tracking staff time as well. Make sure this effort is as efficient as possible and that you are getting the best returns.

Try tracking:

  • Cost/engagement
  • Cost/action taker
  • Cost/new name
  • Progress to daily budget

If you are using ActionSprout with a eCRM like Convio or NationBuilder, you can easily sync your data to find out what percentage of email addresses are new to your list in real time. Otherwise, establish a baseline of new names per action for your organization so that you can estimate cost/new name and then upload the new names once a week to verify that you are on track.

Tracking success

It’s important to track the long-term performance of Facebook-acquired names to make sure that ActionSprout list growth is the right investment for your organization. Sometimes a full Return On Investment (ROI) picture can take to 18–24 months. As you’re thinking about long-term investment, consider the following:


  • Are the acquired supporters still accepting email?
  • How many additional actions have the acquired supporters taken?
  • How many new supporters have made online/offline gifts or joined your organization?
  • After the first month, how are these names performing compared to other acquisition channels?

For more information on CCAH and ActionSprout.