038: Use Facebook Ads To Increase Your Summit's Results with Tony Rulli

Facebook ads for your summit don't have to be expensive or complicated and that's exactly what we'll chat about in this episode with Tony Rulli.


We'll talk about Facebook ad strategies to start with, a minimum budget and how to scale it, and where to start if you've never run ads.

Transcript

Krista:
Hey, hey, welcome to the Summit Host Hangout podcast where you’ll learn how to plan, strategize, and launch your profitable online summit, no influencer status necessary. I’m your host, Krista, from Summit In A Box, and we’re currently in a series about promoting your online summit. Today, in episode 38, I am so excited to bring in a guest to talk about increasing your summit’s results using Facebook ads. In this episode, we’re going to cover what strategies to start with for using Facebook ads for your summit, whether you’re new to ads or experienced. The minimum budget and how to scale it once you start seeing good results. And where to start if you’ve never run any ads before.

Krista:
To give you some background information on our guest, he runs a digital marketing agency alongside his wife that specializes in Facebook and Instagram advertising. They also offer a group consulting program for business owners who are running ads and want agency level strategy and support without the agency level price. And let me tell you, after being a part of that consulting program, if you’re not ready for one-on-one consulting, but you’ve run your own ads before, this is the way to go. But I know that leveraging Facebook ads for your summit is something you all want to learn more about. So let’s dive in and talk with Tony Rulli of Intentional Spark.

Krista:
Hey Tony, thank you so much for being on today to talk all about nerdy Facebook ads. I am so excited. It’s a question I get asked a lot and I have limited knowledge, which we may talk about. More knowledge thanks to you. So I’m excited to have you on here to tell us all the good stuff. But before we do that, I’d love for you to tell us a little bit about you and your business and how you got started, or how you got into helping people with ads specifically.

Tony’s Background

Tony Rulli:
Thanks Krista, I appreciate that. Yeah, so I’ve been told I sometimes tell the story way too long, so I’ll try and keep it short. In my past life I had a different career, I was in corporate banking, actually, and I kind of got burnt out. And my wife and I both quit our jobs and traveled for a year and just regrouped and kind of fell backwards into digital marketing. I started a subscription spice box. Every quarter I’d curate local spices from different places, and have themes, and send them out. It didn’t do very well. I mean it got like 50 people that weren’t friends or family to buy, which was cool. But that wasn’t very lucrative, because that was also... It took me maybe seven hours to box 50 boxes, and I was boxing them by myself.

Tony Rulli:
But in trying to figure out how to get customers I just started teaching myself Facebook ads. And this was five years ago, six years ago. I mean Facebook ads had been around, but it was a little simpler back then, so the learning curve wasn’t quite as hard. And all of a sudden I started to get more people asking for help, from people I just knew about Facebook ads. And my wife pointed out that maybe I should stop trying to do the subscription spice box and start charging for all the free coaching I was doing.

Tony Rulli:
And so that kind of took off. And my wife at the time was doing organic social media for people, and so we kind of merged. So now we have a business together called Intentional Spark. The majority of the business is digital advertising, primarily Facebook and Instagram ads, but we also do Google ads. A little bit of Pinterest. Really, whatever our clients want, we can do, but we focus on Facebook and Instagram ads. But we still have a few clients where we work on their organic content, so blog posts, email newsletters, and the those types of offerings. Besides my wife and I, where we live in Portland, Oregon, we have one more full-time team member, Jack, he’s in Tampa, Florida. And then we have a team of part-time ad managers that assist us with clients as well.

Krista:
Seriously going from a curated spice box to Facebook and Instagram ads. That is quite the journey. But props to your wife for figuring that out.

Tony Rulli:
Yeah. Her actual quote was, “You always love coaching me, and I hate it. So why don’t you coach other people?”

Krista:
I love her. That’s amazing.

Tony Rulli:
And she was right though, because I love coaching, I love working with people and their business. So it was a good fit.

Krista:
Diving into the topic of Facebook ads for online summits. For a lot of summit hosts there’s a big question mark when it comes to leveraging ads to run an online summit. So I was wondering, if to start, you could share where throughout the process you think is the best place or the best places to leverage those ads? And I’ve seen it anywhere from registrations to increasing engagement, all access pass sales, like all over the board. So I’d love to know if there’s somewhere you think makes the most sense to focus.

The Best Place to Leverage Ads for Your Summit

Tony Rulli:
Yeah, I think there’s a couple of ways we could look at it, and maybe I could use your help guiding me. If we look at someone who hasn’t really run ads before and they want to do it themselves. So, what’s the easiest thing to do? Or maybe, the most value for the least amount of work. Because doing a summit can be a good amount of work. I would say leverage retargeting. A lot of times, not all the time with summits, but usually there’s affiliates, because you have the other people. That’s typical, right? Where other people who are in the summit will be promoting it for you, so they’re driving traffic to your pages. You can then set up ads retargeting everybody that visits an opt-in page and doesn’t opt-in. And run ads reminding them to opt-in.

Tony Rulli:
You could also run ads, and you can tell me, but some summits it’s like, join for free, but then you pay a certain amount to get the recordings. So you could run retargeting ads to everybody that opts-in and doesn’t buy right away. And say like, hey, don’t forget, early bird bonus, or bonus discount on the offerings goes away soon. And those are pretty easy things to set up in the background that just leverage all the work you’re already doing. I think everyone should start there doing those two things. That’s like, I think the minimum, because that’ll be the most value. Doesn’t have to be a big ad spend. And most of the time should work, because that’s pretty warm traffic coming in.

Krista:
Yeah, for sure. And I’ve actually never, I feel silly now, but never even considered the retargeting the people that hit the landing page. Because I can only imagine how people with 20 plus speakers sending traffic to your registration page what a big audience that would build up right off the bat.

Tony Rulli:
Yeah. And we do that almost all the time for our clients with whatever they’re running. So whether it’s an opt-in ad, a webinar, or a summit. I think we think if someone, you know, we’re like, oh why send them an ad again just because they already got there and they didn’t want to go. But people forget. People think about it. Usually it’s a pretty cheap opt-in then, because they’re pretty warm from coming in. And also, it depends where you are in the online marketing space, but we think everybody knows about all these things. But sometimes it makes a summit look bigger if your affiliate refers them in, they hit the page, they go away, and then they see an ad for it. And they’re like, oh they’re everywhere. And you’re only spending $5 a day. So it can add some impact that way.

Krista:
I love that. I love how simple it can be even for people who haven’t done that. Retargeting people who visit the registration page without opting in, retargeting people who didn’t buy. And you just said how low that budget can be. Because that’s the question I get a lot too is, well, if I want results with this, how much do I have to spend? And there it is, as little as $5 a day. And when you start seeing those results coming in, boost it up from there.

How Much Should You Spend

Tony Rulli:
And then if, maybe we could look at the whole, there’s a bunch of different tweaks you could do to promote a summit. I mean if you wanted to talk about a classic setup, we could. But I think the other main one I would say, as far as starting out, would be once the summit starts you can start promoting either the full videos from a summit as ads to people that have opted in. So you could run for a day or two, because people sign up, maybe they can’t make the whole summit. You could either rerun those videos as ads for a day or two with links to buy. Or just clips of the videos with links to buy, just to make sure everybody who opted in gets to watch more of the content. That’s always a good way to kind of get in front of everyone that’s already expressed interest.

Krista:
Dang. Yeah, I’ve never thought of that one either. And I really like the video clip idea, like maybe take a short clip with the best tip they have in their video. Run that baby and make them want to watch a whole lot more. I love that.

Tony Rulli:
Yeah, exactly. And doing video ads is pretty simple, especially when you’re doing retargeting because you just got to set up your audience, run the ad and you’re not necessarily trying to optimize for people to buy or anything else besides just watch it.

Krista:
So I want to dive in a little more to maybe a strategy for increasing summit registrations. But before we do that, I want to take a step back and ask if there are any big mistakes you see people making with ads, whether in general or for summit specifically that people listening should watch out for. Maybe more like beginner level mistakes, like stuff that you had to fight me through when we started working together.

Mistakes People Make With Ads

Tony Rulli:
Yeah, I mean, I think besides not doing any ads, I think people get intimidated. And I think, you know, ads can be intimidating, but there are some... You know, if you’re spending $5 a day, it’s okay to make a couple mistakes, if you have that in your budget. Not everybody does. So I would just start, and you can start watching the results. But as far as if you are running ads, the biggest mistakes I see are not setting up campaigns to optimize for the best thing. So a lot of people who are just starting out with ads, or even some people I’ve seen that have been running ads for awhile, when they set up an ad campaign, maybe instead optimizing for conversions, they do link clicks.

Tony Rulli:
And what that does is Facebook is really good at optimizing. So it finds all the people that love clicking links and it’ll get you the cheapest link click, but those people don’t always convert the best. Whereas if you optimize for an actual conversion, meaning you tell Facebook, anybody that hits this thank you page, converted, you can then optimize for that. And Facebook will go, first of all it’ll go look for people that tend to opt-in to things like your summit. But then once people start opting in, it’ll start to learn and go find more of those people. So it’ll actually help you drive down cost and increase your conversion rate on the landing page for the summit.

Tony Rulli:
That’s usually the biggest thing I see, is people just not optimizing. Because there is an extra step, you have to set up the conversion itself, but it’s not the hardest thing. You know, if you’re spending time doing ads, you can learn how to do it and get it going.

Krista:
Yeah. So for the registration you’d optimize for, you said conversions. What would people optimize for if they were doing those, running the videos, and then if they were running the ads for the all access pass purchase?

Optimizing Your Ads

Tony Rulli:
Yeah, for the videos, we typically tell people to opt... You can optimize either for video views. So you could say, I think Facebook right now is calling it through play, which is just 15 seconds, basically like a 15 second view. Or engagements. Right now we’ve been doing more engagement optimization. Engagements includes video views, but also includes people who click, interact in some way, hit like or share. So it tries to get as much engagement as possible on your post, which helps. And we’ve been finding that when you retarget people who engage can sometimes see better results than just retargeting video views. So that’s the other thing with this is if you’re running video ads, like clips from your summit, and you’re optimizing for engagement, you can then run retargeting campaigns saying, anybody that’s engaged in the last seven days give them a sales ad. Because you know they’re really warm. I think your other question was around for the sales piece?

Krista:
Yeah. For if you’re retargeting people who saw your all access pass sales page but didn’t purchase.

Tony Rulli:
Yeah, that’s one where it gets a little trickier just because ideally you’d optimize for purchases. So you’d either put a purchase pixel on your thank you page or just tell Facebook, create a custom conversion saying that thank you page is a purchase. And I don’t know, some people in your audience are probably further along than others, so I don’t want to get too detailed about that. But you can Google it. There’s resources out there.

Tony Rulli:
But if you’re not getting enough purchases per day or week, sometimes Facebook can stall or have trouble optimizing. So if you think you’re only going to get a sale a day or two sales a day from something like that, just because there’s not a lot of volume. Sometimes it’s better to optimize for something a little higher up in the funnel. So maybe just optimize for people who hit the sales page again. So optimize for landing page visitors instead. That’s the only difference, I would say, between an opt-in versus a sale ad.

Krista:
Awesome. So that’s good to know that the mistake can be, I’m going to say simple enough as getting the right conversion event, or you know-

Tony Rulli:
Yes. Right.

Krista:
What does it even called? Set up. But I say simple in air quotes because if you don’t know what that is-

Tony Rulli:
Right, then you got to figure it out. Yeah.

Krista:
But once you know it, it’s really easy.

Tony Rulli:
Right. And then once you set it up it’s there, so you don’t have to keep doing it, you just got to build it once.

Krista:
Awesome. So let’s talk through a good strategy for increasing summit registrations. And you said earlier, the starting point would be retargeting people who visit the registration page without opting in. Is there the next level strategy you would recommend, or steps that we should walk through to increase registrations?

Strategy to Increase Registrations

Tony Rulli:
Yeah. And so if we work backwards then that would be probably the hottest group of people, like the absolute warmest people who’ve hit that page. But then you could also do some broader warm audiences to get in front of. Like you could target your email list, your Facebook page, fans, any Instagram activity. And for me, Instagram ads are run through Facebook’s ad manager. So I think of them as one in the same. So if anybody had a question about Instagram ads, you just do it through Facebook. So it’s all the same. You can target people who’ve engaged with a post or ad in a certain amount of number of days. You can pick either on Facebook or on Instagram. Those are all warm audiences, site visitors, video viewers. You could do a bunch of those audiences and run ads to them.

Tony Rulli:
Some people who haven’t done it before, or are like, I’m already emailing my list, why would I advertise to them? But if your email list is like everyone else I sees, maybe you’re getting 20 or 30% open rates maximum. So that’s a lot of people that aren’t seeing your content and they forget about it. So it’s still really good to run ads to your email list. But that would definitely be the next step. Right now all these strategies work really well and don’t cost a ton of money, just because, depending on the size of your audience, these aren’t going to be as big. They’re going to be the warmest. That tends to be the cheapest for as far as cost per lead goes. So it’s definitely the best place to start.

Krista:
Yes, and I love that. For my last summit, I don’t remember what my exact audiences were, but I’m sure I did my email and some website. I might have done lookalike audiences for those. I don’t quite remember. But I was getting a dollar per registration.

Tony Rulli:
Oh yeah. That’s fantastic. Yeah, that’s great for a summit sign up.

Krista:
Definitely worth doing. Yeah, those warm audiences. I love it. And I’m also wondering, something I’ve seen people do, and I guess we’ve kind of talked about it a little bit already. But I see them run ads. I haven’t seen the video clips that you mentioned, but I’ve seen them run ads like, hey, remember this is going on, click over here to do whatever. Personally, I’ve always looked at those as like, why? Like I guess like what you just said, I’m answering my own question. You’re emailing them, they’re in your Facebook group, hopefully. Like what’s going on? So I feel like I must be missing something with this strategy.

The Strategy Behind Reminder Ads

Tony Rulli:
Yeah, those reminders. We do that a lot for different types of like summits, challenges, webinars. It’s really cheap because you’re basically just reminding everyone that already opted in, so it’s a smaller group of people. You’re running just video ads, there’s no goal besides just have everybody see these. So you could run an Insta story ad as a reminder, run a video ad on Facebook’s newsfeed, Instagram’s newsfeed. And say, I don’t know, say you have like 3,000 people signed up for a summit, that might only cost you 10 bucks to get in front of everybody. Or 10, 20 bucks, it depends on how expensive it actually is. But it’s not going to be that much just to give them a little nudge, a little reminder that, hey, that summit you signed up for a week ago or two weeks ago is now happening.

Tony Rulli:
You know, make sure you check your email to grab the link and go. Tough to really measure how all that works. I mean, you could run the same summit twice, do it once with reminders and once not, and see if you get more of a show up rate. But that’s not perfectly scientific. But it also is something where it doesn’t hurt. And you could do something where you put a link in there back to your summit page and track how many people click if you want it to. It’s a nice add on. I would say if you’re swamped with all your summit work, maybe that’s the thing you drop, but it can be a really nice thing to have.

Krista:
Yeah. Yeah. I suppose it couldn’t really hurt, especially with, like you said, a small of a budget, you’d be able to have. That made me think of a budget question I do have. So you said earlier, you could start with like $5 a day for getting registrations and stuff. What if you have it set $5 a day? You see you’re getting these incredible results. How does someone go about then increasing that? You shouldn’t go onto your campaign and change your budget, right?

Increasing Your Budget

Tony Rulli:
Yes. I’ve heard almost every rule for this in the book, there’s no true... Like you can mess things up if... When you increase your budget or you touch your budget, you put Facebook back into the, quote, “learning phase”. And so it starts to test and experiment in your audience, and so cost can go up. And typically when you increase spend, your cost will go up. But it takes a certain amount, and you don’t know what that is for your audience and your offer.

Tony Rulli:
So if you’re spending $5 a day, maybe you increase, that’s not that much. The general rule that I’ve always heard is 10% every two days, but that’d be 50 cents, and so it wouldn’t be that helpful. So what we’ll often do, especially when something isn’t evergreen and there’s a set time period to promote it, so you don’t have time to slowly build, we’ll duplicate the entire campaign.

Tony Rulli:
Keep the current one running, duplicate into a new campaign with a higher budget and just start it. So you’re technically competing against yourself, but this is more for cold audiences than warm. For warm you could do this, but just because warm’s smaller audiences so when you duplicate things you are competing yourself a little more. But for cold audiences, definitely, you could just duplicate a $5 campaign, make it 15 or 20 per day, dollars per day, and see what that looks like while keeping that $5 one on. That’s kind of a fast and quick approach, quick and dirty, to actually get some scale going.

Krista:
Yeah, I like it. That’s good to know also. So what would you say, you touched on it a little bit, what would you say is the best course of action for someone who really wants to use ads for their summit? Like they really know that it can increase maybe the registrations to start, but they’ve never done more than like peeked at ads manager. Do you think it’s worth them experimenting with something like this? Should they learn from somebody? Take a course? Work with you? What’s the best course of action?

What You Should Do If You Want to Utilize Ads

Tony Rulli:
Yeah, I think, we always say for clients that we work with, our best clients are clients that have run their own ads before and seen some success. Because they can speak the language, they can offer their own ideas and insight, and it’s really helpful to have that level of expertise to go back and forth with. And I think as a business owner, feeling some type of ownership and knowledge about what’s happening let’s you have some confidence that either that person or team you’re working with on ads knows what they’re doing, or is doing the right steps. Otherwise it can feel really scary to be paying them, paying for ad spend, seeing results where you don’t even know if they’re good or not. And it can make you very anxious and very timid. So I think learning it, if you can, not everyone has the time or bandwidth or money to pay for an ads course, but there are some good ones out there.

Tony Rulli:
So if you can go get an ads course and learn yourself a little bit, I think that’s definitely the best. If you’re someone like me, like I just do trial and error, that’s how I learn anything. So if you’re feeling bold, you can open up the ads manager and try some of these things. Facebook has a ton of their own documentation. There’s a ton of people out there who have written lots of great free content that you can go read to kind of get the basics.

Tony Rulli:
So if you’re adventurous and you’re bold, I would definitely try it yourself. I would say maybe not during a summit, try it before. So whether you have a free opt-in or you want to try some video ads just to see what that’s like, try it, you know, two months before your summit or a month before your summit just to see what it’s like. Maybe you have a little opt-in offer, run it for five or $10 a day. See if you’re tracking your leads correctly. Are they joining your email list? Get a little experience so that when you do the summit it’s not something brand new on top of all the other summit activities you’re doing.

Krista:
Yeah, I’ve always told people, if you’ve never touched Facebook ads before, like probably not right now. But I really like that suggestion of, give it a try before you’re full blown into your crazy summit planning process. Figure out what you’re doing, then, you know, it might still feel a little new, but at least you have a clue of what’s going on and it’s not crazy overwhelming.

Tony Rulli:
Exactly. And I think if you’ve never done ads before, finding a course or just trying it yourself and using some resources is the best way. And like you referenced it, like the way we worked together, you’re in a group program that we have. That’s really good. If you’re already run ads a little bit and you want support, you can do something like that. But unless you have the money and you’re already seeing a lot of success organically, I would always hold off on hiring someone or a team to manage your ads, just because I think there’s too many question marks as far as, will this work for me? What does working look like? So I would work on it yourself for awhile, if you can, before you kind of go to that next level.

Krista:
So what do you think the biggest takeaway is that you would want someone to walk away with today when it comes to ads for their summit?

Your Big Takeaway

Tony Rulli:
So even if right now they’re like, I don’t know half of these things you talked about, like custom conversions, pixels, retargeting, get the Facebook pixel on your website. If nothing, else do that. Because once it’s placed, it starts collecting information. And if you decide six months from now you want to start doing retargeting, you’ll have six months of site visitor data and page data to use to retarget. But if you decide six months from now, it doesn’t go backwards. So you can’t then do it. So get the Facebook pixel placed on your site. That you could do yourself. There’s plugins that let you place the pixel. Most websites now, whether it’s WordPress or Shopify or Teachable or whatever, have really built in systems of setting up your own Facebook pixel. So just do that. And then if you want, start trying retargeting, mess around with that a little bit, because that’s really low budget and can see some good results quickly.

Krista:
Awesome. I love it. So thank you so much for everything you shared today. I’m excited for my next summit, so I can just go for it. But where can people go to learn more about you, what you offer? I know you have a freebie that people should definitely check out.

Tony Rulli:
Yeah. So our business is called Intentional Spark. Intentionalspark.com is our website. We have a contact form there if you want to ask us or ask me more questions about ads. If you think you’re ready, either you’re already managing your own ads and you want more support, we offer our group program, which you’re in. Which our tagline is, agency level strategy and support without the agency price. So you’re running your own ads, but you can leverage us to check in, chat support, office hours, work directly with us and our ad managers to oversee your own campaigns.

Tony Rulli:
And if you wanted to learn just more about ads and you kind of just want to look around a little bit, we have a freebie offer, intentionalspark.com/summitinabox. It’s three training videos that teach you how to set up custom reporting in your ads manager so you can actually track your entire marketing funnel. So you’ll see someone opt-in, get an up sell, buy, and you can track them throughout. Teaches you how to set up naming conventions to better manage your ads. And it teaches you what metrics to look at so you don’t get confused by all the metrics Facebook gives you. So it’s kind of a little primer for people that are just starting to run ads.

Krista:
Love it. We will link to all of that in the show notes. Thank you so much for being on today, Tony, this was great. How great was that episode with Tony? I hope you are just as inspired as I am to get some ads set up for your summit. Whether you are going to work with that lower $5 a day budget that he talked about, or really boost it up and start getting those registration, extra sales coming through the door.

Krista:
To give you a few action steps, I would love to see you go ahead and take that first step that Tony talked about, which is just setting up your Facebook pixel on your website. After that, get started playing with some retargeting. You know, even if it’s not for your summit, start with doing some retargeting for your maybe existing website traffic, and see if you can get them to opt into your email list or purchase a lower priced offer you have. And I just had to take another second to shout out their group coaching program.

Krista:
If you have run your own ads before you know the lingo, you know how it works and you want more help without paying for one-on-one, the coaching program is incredible. I’ve been in it for three months as I’m recording this and they have done so much to help me increase my reach and get more email subscribers, website traffic and sales through this program. It’s absolutely incredible. But thank you so much for tuning in to this episode.

Krista:
In the next episode we will be chatting with another guest all about increasing your summit results using Pinterest. So be sure to stay tuned for that. Now go out and take action to plan, strategize, and launch your profitable online summit.

 

Resources

 About Tony

Based in Portland, Oregon, Tony runs Intentional Spark with his wife Meg and their Director of Barketing, Noodles (a 2-year old Golden Retriever). Intentional Spark is a digital marketing agency that specializes primarily with Facebook and Instagram advertising but also offers a Group Consulting Program for business owners who are running their own ads and want Agency-level strategy and support without the agency-level price.

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