This is part of my marketing cocaine series. Quick hitting tactics that I'm seeing from the front lines. Note: I write these posts stream-of-conscious with no editing (like cocaine!)

I've recently started helping out an early stage DTC brand in the coffee space. Ahead of their launch, we've begun running an ad campaign with the objective of acquiring targeted leads to seed our email list.

Since the brand is in it's infancy, we're also using the campaign to test out different copy angles.

The Setup

  • Daily Spend: $50-100 per day
  • Audience Targeting: Interest-based audiences related to coffee (500k-2m size)
  • Conversion Event: Lead
  • Conversion KPI: $2.00 CPL (cost per lead)

The Initial Strategy

Since we're still seasoning our pixel, we've built a number of interest-based audiences with different layers based on gender, house-hold income, and interests. The interests all tie back to coffee but we narrow the audiences down based on brand affinity and sub-interests (ie espresso, coffee preparation etc.)

From an ad creative standpoint, we threw together a bunch of copy variations using the AIDA framework and our customer avatar assumptions. The brand just completed their first photo shoot, so we have some pretty static images at our disposal.

Click traffic was sent to a squeeze page built in Unbounce with an email waitlist opt-in.

In the first week, we ran a few CBO campaigns split amongst different audience ad sets and creative variations. We used Dynamic Creative Ads to rapidly test different variations.

The initial results:

  • $503.87 spent
  • 114 leads
  • $4.41 Cost Per Lead
  • 16.82% Landing Page CVR

While we did see good "proof of concept" results, the CPL was still too high. Luckily, when we drilled down into the ad sets and placements we found a pocket of opportunity:

#1 - Instagram Story Ad Placements

During the first week of testing, we spun up an ad set that limited placements just to IG stories. Here were the initial results:

Cost per lead came out much lower than our campaign average. Drilling down even further, we saw that our CPC's were dirt cheap compared to other placements. CTR's were also much higher.

Given the results, we decided to double down on this campaign for the following week.

The Revised Strategy

We killed all of our other CBO campaigns and focused in on optimizing our IG Story placements.

Here's what we did:

  • Built additional ad variations that were more native to the IG story placement
  • Created smaller audience sizes (700k to 1mil) to drill a bit deeper into targeted audiences
  • Scrapped CBO and Dynamic Creative Ads so we could split ad spend equally across the ad sets we were testing.

While CBO and DCA's are commonly recommended by big ad agencies, we felt like we'd get better results by manually setting daily spend budgets by ad set. In theory, these optimization tactics should deliver the best results due to Facebook's algorithm. But our gut told us that we'd get stronger insights into performance with a manual approach.

Here are the current results since we made these tweaks:

Not too shabby! Our CPL decreased dramatically and we're still seeing a ton of room for optimizations. Like I mentioned earlier, we are limited on the visual creative front (no videos, only static images) so we plan on doing more testing there.


  • IG story placements are dirt cheap. This makes for a cost effective way to test different audiences and copy angles.
  • Design your creatives for the particular placement. You'll notice that if you run auto-placements for your campaigns, they look wonky on IG stories. Big attention-grabbing headline, eye-catching vertical image and a clear CTA worked well for us.
  • We tried lead forms but didn't see any major gainz. We did test sending clicks to a lead form but actually saw better results on our landing page. Go figure.
  • Facebook's Audience Insights tool is actually helpful. We mapped a lot of our customer avatar assumptions into the tool to come up with new interest segments. Our best performing audience currently is people with interests related to coffee brand (ie Chemex, Blue Bottle, Barista Magazine) etc.

That's all I got!