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Social Media Ads: Lessons Learned from Managing a $5M Media Budget

Abby Thompson

As a marketer, I've always found social media advertising to be rather intimidating.
When given a budget and a goal, my brain starts buzzing with those annoying little unknown's...
"Will this ad be well received?"  "Have I selected the right audience?" 
"Does the marketing message translate on a channel as personal as Facebook?" 
"Will my mom be the only one sharing and responding to these posts?" 

Lucky for me, my mom is only one of, like, 5 people who share and respond on social media, AND Salted Stone sponsors HubSpot User Group (or "HUG") events in Pasadena, CA.


So, to quell my (admittedly irrational) fear of cross-platform messaging, audiences, and algorithms, we're bringing in a certified social advertising expert to join our next meetup. We'll be talking about paid ads (particularly paid ads on Facebook), social media marketing, and how these fit into larger strategies with HubSpotter Josh Chang.

But who is Josh and why should we trust him with our precious social ad spend budget?!

Let's learn more... 

Q: Hey, Josh! Tell us about yourself. Who are you and what do you do for HubSpot?

A: I'm a Senior Marketing Manager on the Paid Acquisition team. I spend most of my time managing over $5M a year in global media spend for HubSpot across channels like Facebook Ads, Google Adwords, Bing, and many more.


At the end of the day, I'm trying to figure out what channel, campaigns, targeting, keyword, or creative is driving the lowest cost per conversion and more importantly, the highest return on investment. I also spend a good chunk of my time managing data, analytics, and attribution for the paid team, which means lots of Google Analytics, spreadsheets, and 3rd-party reporting and analytics platforms we use at HubSpot.

Q: You’ll be chatting about Facebook ads and using them in conjunction with inbound marketing strategies at #HUGPasadena. What should marketers know about Facebook's recent algorithm changes before they invest?


A: The recent algorithm changes definitely will have more of an impact on organic social efforts, which makes having a solid paid strategy all the more important.

On the paid side of things, Facebook is now trying to improve the quality of content on the user's feed, so relevance score is even more important than it was before.

If you're not promoting valuable content, you'll likely see higher costs and lower quality, so testing the quality of specific offers (i.e. different ebooks or whitepapers) or conversions (i.e. a free trial vs. a demo request) is just as important as trying to get the lowest cost-per-click or cost-per-conversion.

Q: For most of the world, inbound marketing approaches are changing as a result of market saturation and constantly evolving technologies. What new trends are you seeing take shape in the space?


A: We're seeing way more businesses who use paid advertising to amplify their inbound content. Because posts by publishers and brands will be emphasized even less, that makes it harder and harder for businesses to leverage organic social as an acquisition or nurturing channel.


You have to think of your paid social campaigns as content amplification or distribution  so that you can get your content in front of the right people at the right time.

Social distribution

Q: How big a role has paid acquisition played for lead generation at HubSpot?


A: Pretty big! Obviously, HubSpot has years of experience running our inbound marketing campaigns without a ton of paid, so we're fortunate in that we aren't solely reliant on paid efforts to generate new traffic and customers.


That being said, we've hit a certain point where organic search and our more traditional, "inbound-y" campaigns just aren't growing at the exponential rates they used to grow at, so paid is a powerful way to amplify what our awesome content strategy and SEO teams are doing and help the business grow as a whole.


We also use paid a lot in new regions and markets where HubSpot isn't necessarily as known as it is in North America, so it can help us gain traction in a new market where building up inbound campaigns might take a little more time.

Q: What do most people get wrong when writing ad copy?


A: I'd say something we're guilty of is only testing to a higher level "vanity" metric like click-through-rate or cost-per-click. For example, if we say "free" in our ads we will probably see higher CTRs, but if we track that down all the way to revenue, I'd bet the revenue-per-click is going to be way lower since those people are actively trying to not pay for anything, including your product or service.

social adsQ: How important is testing your paid ad audiences?


A: Very. Again, audiences on Facebook are a huge lever to pull if you're trying to get the best return on investment possible. There are so many options and capabilities in Facebook Ads that there's no way you can just assume one is going to be better than the other, so you have to test. Are topics or in-market audiences going to be better than lookalike audiences off your customer list? You'll never know for sure until you test.

Q: You can drink one more beer for the rest of your life - what do you choose? GO! GO! GO! 

Ballast Point Sculpin

A: Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin! 

Excellent choice, Josh! We'll see you on August 30th at the Salted Stone office in Monrovia, CA for #HUGPasadena!

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