I surveyed clients and fellow growth marketers to determine the top issues facing paid media channels right now. Scaling campaigns on Meta (Facebook and Instagram) was one of those issues that rose to the top of the list. This is likely due to businesses trying to maintain the year over year growth trends they’ve been seeing compared to previous years, which were accelerated by the increase in work-from-home and online browsing.
For clarity, scaling campaigns on Meta in this context doesn’t just mean increasing your budget and seeing what happens — scaling means steadily increasing your budget while keeping your efficiency goals in mind. Whether you’re optimizing towards cost per action (CPA) or return on ad spend (ROAS), the below techniques should enable you to increase budget and make improvements against these core key performance indicators (KPIs).
I’ve been in the growth marketing world for over 8 years now. I’ve worked with small to enterprise level budgets, across a wide variety of funnels, verticals, and businesses. These are some of the proven techniques I’ve used to scale my campaigns efficiently.
1. Build campaign-level audience segments
This technique assumes that you’ve been running broad targeting on your ad sets for some time, and you’re wondering why the performance keeps fatiguing. So, if you haven’t done this yet, this should definitely be your first step: create a new prospecting campaign, add relevant geographic and demographic targeting, select the “auto” placement, upload some of your top-performing creative, and let this campaign run for a few months to collect performance data.
If you’ve already been doing this and have a sizable data set you can pull from, then you can leverage this technique. First, run dedicated breakdowns across all your prospecting campaigns by age, gender, region, and platform. You can do this by clicking “Breakdown” and then “Delivery”, located in the top right of your ads manager; from there, you can select which attribute you’d like a breakdown of. Then, analyze the performance data for each breakdown and sort the top attributes using ROAS (consider removing any that have too small spend to make a conclusion on). For example, if you see that females perform better than males, ages 25-44 perform better than other brackets, Instagram performs better than Facebook, and some 15 states outperformed the others, then note those attributes and build a new campaign with an ad set(s) that contains just those most successful audience segments.
Pro tip: When you’re reviewing these attributes and determining which to move forward with, make sure you’re selecting a large enough grouping in age and region, for example, as to not be too narrow; don't just select the top two or three states. If you’re too narrow, the campaign may have a hard time scaling and hurt your performance.Try to aim for at least 3 million in audience size.
The goal here is to force Meta to spend in an audience that has a history of performing well. Think of this campaign as targeting the top 33%-50% of your users. Building out this campaign separately also allows for more control at the budget level, which means greater flexibility in scaling a campaign that may outperform your other prospecting campaigns.
2. Make new and recurring creative
It’s well established in the growth marketing community that creative is the single biggest influence on your campaign performance. If you’re spending upwards of $10K per month on ads, but you are only refreshing your ad creative every quarter, then you’re not only going to have trouble scaling, but you’re likely missing out on efficiency gains in CPA and ROAS.
Instead, one of the best techniques is letting your creative scale alongside your budget. Don’t just increase your spend every week or month while only updating your creative every quarter.
A general rule of thumb that has worked for me: every time you increase your budget by 50%, you should double your creative output. So let’s say in month 1, you’re spending $10K per month with five video assets. If you aim to increase spend to $15K per month by month 3, you should then have 10 video assets ready by the time you get to that 3-month mark.
Furthermore, once you get to that point of $15K in ad spend and 10 video assets, you should be refreshing that creative on a biweekly or monthly basis (depending on your bandwidth and creative resources).
Think of your ad creative as fuel. If you want to keep moving forward, you’ll need to keep refueling.
3. Scale budgets in a pixel-friendly way
I’ve seen many people change a daily budget from $25 to $100 and wonder why the following day their rates (eg. CTR, CPA or ROAS) didn’t hold. If you can help it, don’t make significant changes in your daily budgets over short time periods.
When you’re scaling your daily budgets, you’ll want to do it in a way that’s friendly to the pixel. What does this mean? Pixels will likely go back into learning if you make large budget changes in short periods of time, so moving in small increments in a measured way is more friendly. For example, if you’re spending $100 per day, you’re happy with the results, and want to scale, then start by increasing the budget 10% every other day. After a few weeks, if rates are holding or improving, then you can try a 20% increase every few days. I typically recommend not exceeding two 20%+ changes in daily budget within a 24-48 hour time period.
Pro tip: Try to avoid adjusting your budget multiple times per day and reacting aggressively to day-over-day performance changes. Some volatility is normal.
Adjusting your budget in these unfavorable ways will likely add volatility to your campaigns and may cause your ad set to go back into learning — all consequences that will hurt your campaign performance.
4. Build dedicated campaigns for established and experimental elements
If your Meta ad account consists of one big prospecting campaign that contains some ad sets with established audiences/creative and some ad sets with experimental audiences/creative, I recommend you split that out into different campaigns.
Although you can control budget by ad set and pixel status changes occur at the ad set level, I’ve had better performance results separating out my campaigns. It’s always a balancing act figuring out how much control to take back from the algorithm.
Keep your established or “evergreen” campaign(s) at around 70% of your monthly spend while your experimental campaign can be around 30%. This’ll allow learnings to accrue in a timely manner and reduce the chance of your account being thrown off by one bad experimental idea.
If after three months or so, a winner has emerged in your experiment campaign, rename the campaign “Evergreen” and consider it as part of that spend category. Then repeat the cycle by creating new experimental campaigns. Although it depends on budget, I’m typically testing 1-3 attributes per month at the audience, creative, and/or landing page level.
5. Try a different campaign objective
If you’ve tried and implemented a few of the techniques above and are still experiencing campaign fatigue and/or month-over-month increases in CPA or ROAS, then you could try launching a campaign with a different campaign objective.
Chances are you’re running your campaigns with direct response, conversion goals (Sales or Leads), and although that normally works, your account, product or service may be an outlier.
For example, if your business is of or related to the online learning/courses, coaching, media, or content membership niche, you may have success having a portion of your budget (10%-20%) in an Engagement, Traffic, or Awareness campaign objective.
Let’s say you’re an online learning business, it may benefit you to run a Reach objective campaign with 10% of your monthly budget. Upload an ad that’s a preview of one of your course videos with a Reach campaign objective, and your ad will show to new people at a very efficient CPM — a CPM that could be up to 80% cheaper than your conversion CPMs. You can then retarget these users who watched over 50% of your video ad in your retargeting campaign.