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Events, Like Man, Are Not Created Equal

March 21, 2016

In the most honest sense, man is not created equal. He is bestowed with genes at birth that profoundly affect his likelihood of success in endless categories. Then there are all the environmental factors like birth nation and familial wealth which are both profoundly important, and also totally uncontrollable. This is far from equality.

So it is with events, specifically free ones. Some are seemingly destined for success while others are predisposed from “birth” to toil in anonymity. Fortunately, though, an event organizer can identify shortcomings and then take action to change an event’s “genes” far easier than man can change his.

Here are five shortcomings worth noticing and appropriate correction steps:

#1 Your event isn’t really free

People have seen enough “free” offers to appreciate that nothing is really totally free. At the very least, there is a time commitment. But beyond that, so many “free” events are merely a mechanism to get attendees to purchase something.

Think about companies selling timeshares. To ensure your attendance at a sales presentation, the timeshare merchants go beyond free and actually pay for your entire vacation. This guarantees that you’ll unequivocally receive some value, the “free vacation,” even if the sales event proves unappealing.

Solution: It’s fine to use free events as a lead generation tool, just make sure you properly convey that an event attendee will gain something of worth from the free event.

#2 Price is seen as an indication of quality

In so many different industries, from wine to healthcare, people associate price with quality – the higher the price, the better the quality. As a result, “free” can come across as low quality and desperate. But it can also be an effective way to entice someone to try something new.

Solution: Coupons, discount codes and limited-time prices show that the event is worth money but that a special deal can be had now. In addition to giving the event some merit, “free for a limited time” increases urgency.

#3 Your network is limited

It’s an annoying problem similar to the one a new college graduate faces: All these jobs require experience, but I don’t have any experience and it’s impossible to get experience if it’s a prerequisite for every job.

But, like that college graduate, a first-time event creator still must find a way to execute. The natural place to start is with friends and family. If you don’t know anyone who will attend a free event, you should probably reconsider the idea of running that event.

Solution: Think hard about anyone you know who might have some interest in your event. Assuming the event topic is an actual interest of yours, it makes sense for you to know some people who would find it somewhat compelling. Additionally, setting realistic expectations is vitally important. Free or not, if you have never run an event before, getting a huge crowd is very unlikely. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; simply plan accordingly (i.e. don’t invest in a huge event space).

#4 No trust links

With a price point of zero you are almost certainly trying to broaden your exposure to new people. “New” means that your target audience doesn’t know or trust you yet. Even with a robust event page, people are going to look for outside sources of validation. Without the trust borne from this external validation, few are going to register.

Solution: Make sure that your company/event’s webpage is professional (this is, of course, in addition to having a professional event page). Link out to any third-party sources that make you seem more legitimate.

#5 It’s not compelling to any specific group of people

Far too many free events make the freeness the biggest selling point. The target audience is nothing more than an extremely broad demographic like “business people.” This simply isn’t good enough.

Solution: Ask yourself, “What type of person would benefit from attending my event?” Paint that picture to a super specific degree. Make up a perfect attendee. What’s his/her age, income, interests, location, marital status, education level, etc.? Then get broader from there, but always keep that perfect attendee in mind.

Want to get your event in front of that perfect attendee and other logical audiences? Not sure where to begin? Dandelion will build an intelligent advertising campaign for your event and take care of everything related to advertising. Seriously. You tell us the event, set a weekly budget, and we will handle all the ad creation, all the targeting and all the optimization to ensure that your event is seen by the right types of people.

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Five Signs Your Online Store Isn’t Going to Work

March 10, 2016

Humans are notoriously bad at predictions. We are often too emotional, incapable of assigning true probabilities to rare events, and overwhelmingly guided by both recency and outcome biases.

So what follows are not predictions. These are merely patterns of behavior that often correlate with unsuccessful e-commerce stores. Will there be stores that commit these “sins” and are wildly successful? Absolutely. Would I bet on them? Probably not.

#1 Store has thousands upon thousands of products

The Internet has ushered in an era where the barriers to entry are incredibly small. If you wanted to start a store before this current era, you had to make significant investments of both time and money.

Today, via any number of platforms like Shopify and Woo Commerce, you can launch in a day for free.

But this incredible change should not obscure the basic question any store creator need ask him/herself, “What economic need am I solving?”
Simply tossing together a collection of unrelated and banal products is almost certainly not a good answer to that question.

#2 Store owner still has an AOL email address 

Come on people. E-mail is free. There are so many better providers available now. Yes, everyone may know your AOL address , but just use simple forwarding to help the transition to a 21st century provider.

If you aren’t using modern e-mail, it seems unlikely that your Internet knowledge is at a level necessary to handle an online business.

#3 Store“branding” is incredibly generic

You offer quality products and good shipping times? Great.

However, when the top reason to shop at your store is the same claim everyone makes, that “branding” is rendered meaningless.

People have nearly an endless supply of places to shop online, including hegemons like Amazon, Target and Wal-Mart; you’ve got to give them a real reason to choose your store instead.

#4 Store is trying every single “trick”

By all means, go out and educate yourself. Read the blogs. Watch the videos. But always keep this in mind – if someone had a real edge in e-commerce, there would be very little incentive to share that edge with you.

Installing countless apps is not an edge. And making your customer experience so muddied with popups and distractions is certainly not an edge.

Your edge has to be your offering. People aren’t going to buy from an unknown (to them) store if that isn’t the case.

#5 Store owner is surprised by lack of traffic

You’ve got a unique product. You’ve presented it well. You’ve made the user experience smooth and simple.

Why, oh why then is nobody coming to your store?

This shouldn’t be a surprise. There are really only three ways someone will find your store:

  1. You rank for keywords: Commonly known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO), this path takes the most time, the most skill, and involves the most uncertainty. As a new store there is essentially a zero percent chance of this method working in a timely fashion.

  2. You have a ton of important friends: Sure, you can e-mail your friends and they’ll check out your store. They might buy something and they might even tell somebody else. Unfortunately, this friendship well will dry up remarkably fast. “Word-of-mouth” growth isn’t happening this way unless you have really important friends – ones who can present your offering to a large and loyal audience.

  3. You pay to advertise: This is the one guaranteed way to get people to your store. It’s also the least appealing because it costs money, but that’s what guarantees cost. You can buy those desired keywords and specifically target your ideal customer. People will click on your ads and you’ll be able to see how people interact with your site. Plus you’ll be able to evaluate the actual engagement with the ads to better understand your target customer (and the best product for that customer).

Perhaps none of this deters you. Perhaps you aren’t making any of these errors. Excellent. Or maybe you are. Either way, you still want to grow faster.

Dandelion, a team of experts that runs your online advertising, might just be your ideal partner. Get in touch or get started today. We’re passionate about helping stores get to the next level, whatever that next level may be.

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January 19, 2016

One thing we've noticed when we've talked to our users is that there is some confusion about how advertising platforms are able to track customer behavior on websites. Once a user has moved away from Facebook or Google to your website how do the advertisers know just what takes place on your site to help optimize your ads or to dynamically retarget potential customers who don't make a purchase? It's surprisingly simple actually - they utilize a tracking pixel that you put on your site. 

Now when I talk about pixels I'm not talking about the awful Sony movie, or the individual elements in a display (although that's where the idea comes from), rather I'm referring to the short snippet of code that most advertising platforms provide to help improve performance. They usually look something like this:

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The blacked out section is simply the unique advertiser account ID for my Facebook business manager which makes sure that I'm the one who receives the information and that it isn't accessible to anyone else. The rest of the pixel is fairly standard. It just directs the pixel to send a response to Facebook when an event occurs. The only other interesting part is the middle part, fbq('track', "PageView");. This section tells exactly what page event trigger the pixel to report back to Facebook. In this case the event is a Page View, or when a potential customer goes to your site. There are a number of other options for events such as Add to Cart (very important for Ecommerce), Viewed Content, and Purchase. By using these different pixels you can track and optimize for a wide variety of outcomes.

Using Pixels

Now you know the basics of what a tracking pixel is and a few of the cases you could use it for, but how do you actually set it up? Thankfully it's pretty simple. If you're trying to setup a Facebook pixel you first want to go into your Facebook Business Manager. Select your advertising account and then go to Tools and then to Pixels.  From here you can see a breakdown of the different events (reason the pixel was triggered) that occur on your site each day and you can see where on your site they occur, which can be incredibly helpful to analyzing which products are popular and which are not. 

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If you then click on Actions and View Pixel Code you'll see something that looks very similar to the pixel I used as an example earlier. To put it into your site add it to the top of each pages source so that the beginning HTML looks something like:
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If you're trying to setup an AdWords pixel the process is pretty similar. Go into your Adwords account and select Tools. From here you'll want to hit the +Conversion button to start creating your new pixel. Then choose the source of your conversions. For most of you it will be Website. Next setup the actual conversion by giving it a Name along with a number of optional fields that can be helpful. The default values for these will work for most businesses, however customizing them can provide additional value and flexibility.

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Next hit Save and Continue and you'll see something that looks very similar to the Facebook pixel. Like the Facebook pixel you just need to copy it into the header section of your pages source. 

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Benefits of Pixels:

Now you know how to setup pixels for both Facebook and Adwords advertising accounts, but you might be wondering why we're making such a big deal about setting up these pixels. The main reason is performance. These tracking pixels allow the advertising platforms to determine not only when someone clicks on your ads, but also to determine what a customer actually does once they get to your site. They can then take this information to figure out which users actually bought your products and then they can serve your ads to similar users. This is incredibly useful from an ad performance perspective because it is getting your ads in front of the right people and can drastically increase your ROI. But, this isn't the only benefit of tracking on site performance with pixels. It also allows you to improve the long term conversion rates of potential customers by allowing you to use powerful tools like Facebook Dynamic Product Ads or Google Dynamic Remarketing. If you are looking to get the most out of your advertising performance you need to be utilizing tracking pixels. 

If you have any questions about setting up a pixel for your site or have questions about online advertising in general feel free to email me at Or if you would prefer to not have to worry about pixels and ad optimization you can have us handle everything for you!

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The Amazon Strategy - Using Dynamic Ads for Your Business

January 11, 2016

Have you ever gone onto Amazon and taken a look at a product only for it to follow you around the internet for the rest of the day? You go to check the news and there it is. You do a Google search and there it is. You go to ESPN to check the scores and there it is. Wherever you go you're getting a reminder that you were looking at a product earlier, but hadn't bought it yet.

This is probably the most familiar example of retargeting. The basic theory behind it is that someone who has seen your products before is more likely than the average person to buy your product if they see it again. After all, they went to your site and looked at the product for some reason the first time around, so they are probably fairly interested in your products or your brand. It's also not just theory. While the numbers vary a bit depending on what sources you look at retargeted ads can have performance that is anywhere from 400% to 1000% better than traditional ads. 

So how can you get into the retargeting game? 

Thankfully both Facebook & Google have made it possible (although still a bit tricky) for all users to create ads that will dynamically retarget customers based on what products they've seen on your site. Here's a step by step guide to creating dynamic ads for both Facebook and Google for your store. Note: I'm assuming that you have all of the required advertising accounts setup for your store and you're able to create product catalogs with all of the necessary product information. Or if you'd prefer you can have us handle all of these steps for you!

Step 1: Download the product catalog from your site. 

In order to create these types of ads you need to first download a product catalog with all the necessary information for Facebook or Google to read to create your ads. These include unique product IDs, prices, images, and the URL where the products are located among others. The exact specs are in the links above. 

Step 2: Upload Your Feeds to Facebook or Google.

Once you have a feed you need to upload it into the platform you want to use.

For Facebook you need to go into your Business Manager, select Add New, select Product Catalogs. Then you need to give the catalog a name - I usually just use the store name, however if you want to be using multiple catalogs for your store you'll need to be a bit more specific.

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Next you need to select a pixel on your site that is tracking purchase activity for Facebook. Select Product Feeds and then Upload Manually. Choose a name for your feed (I usually use the store name again) and then select the product catalog you downloaded earlier as the file to upload. Once that's set you have a product catalog in Facebook. Check for any errors just to make sure everything uploaded ok.

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For Google you need to go to your Google Merchant Center Account select Feeds then +Feeds and name your Feed. 

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Then select the type of file you'll upload (I would recommend Regular Uploads). Hit Next and then all that's left to do is actually select the file for upload. Choose your product catalog and voila, you have a Google Product Feed!

Step 3: Create Your Ads:

Now that you have your product catalogs setup it's time to actually start making your ads. For Facebook you need to go into Power Editor to get started. These ads aren't available from the normal Business Manager, but don't be intimidated if you haven't used Power Editor before, it's not too bad. Click Create Campaign, give your campaign a name, and under Objective select Product Catalog Sales, select your Product Catalog you created earlier, and create your campaign, an adset, and an ad. Then click on the campaign name to show the adsets for that campaign. Edit the adset to choose the parameters of who you want to target to get as specific as possible. Maybe you want to only target customers in the US who added a product to their cart, but didn't purchase it, or maybe you just want to target anyone who has viewed a certain product. You can select all these possibilities with the options in the editor. Finally you need to select a product set before you can create your actual ads. A product set is simply a subset of your product catalog, but you can also make it your full product catalog.

Next click into the adset name in the editor to start editing your ads. You can either create a single ad or a carousel ad which features multiple products at once. For these ads carousel type ads tend to perform better because they allow you to show your customers a variety of similar products, so in case they weren't sold by the very first product they saw they get to see something else you can offer. Add in your site and then you can create all sorts of ad templates that will be populated based on the product info in your feed. Product name, brand name, prices, sales, descriptions whatever you want you can add it into the ads. This is especially nice for giving updated sales offers for your products because you can highlight it for every item that's on sale without neading to create individual ads for every single product. Now you're all set! You can easily retarget potential customers on Facebook, drastically improving your customer conversion rates and ad performance.

For Google the process is slightly different. First you need to go to your AdWords account and create a new campaign on Display Network Only. Under Marketing Objectives select Buy on Website and then fill out the other basic campaign information. Click Show Additional Settings and then expand Dynamic Ad Settings and select Use Dynamic Ads. Click Business Type and select Retail and select your Google Merchant Account. Technically you can do these for non-Retail sites as well, but since we've been discussing retail all throughout here I'll continue to move forward as if you are running a retail site. 

Next select Set Up Remarketing and set up the basics. These include selecting a feed (you created this earlier), getting the necessary tag to add to each page of your site (or select your Google Analytics tag to use), and generating lists of potential customer types (AdWords generates the basics for you). Click Return to Campaign and then Save and Continue. Next you need to name your ad campaign and select an ammount to bid on your ads. Finally hit Save and Continue to start making your actual ads. 

In the ads tab you can select +Ad to start making your ads. Choose Dynamic Ads and then click Create. Similar to in Facebook you now can create ad templates that can be dynamically generated based on the information you've provided in the feed. In AdWords these are under Feed Attribute and are marked by {Curly Brackets}. Once you're happy with your adds hit Save and Preview and then you're all set.

Things to Consider:

So why doesn't everyone who has a site create these ads? They're a bit tricky to set up the first few times, but not overly so. The real drawback is that you need a certain level of consistent traffic volume to make these ads worthwhile. As a rule of thumb if you have less than 500 unique daily users to your site (more if you have tons of products) than the ads probably aren't worth it yet. This is simply because these ads will overwhelm the customers you're trying to retarget, something you probably don't want to do if you're a new store just starting out. If you are in that situation then your best bet is to use more traditional types of ads to drive more traffic, building up a consistent user base who you can then go out and retarget.

If you have any questions about how to set up dynamic retargeting campaigns feel free to email me at Or if you'd like us to handle your site's advertising just click the link below to get started!

Tracking your ads

December 09, 2015

One of the biggest problems that anyone trying out online advertising runs into is how do you determine success? Most people typically think success as just direct response success. If I spent $50 on ads and I sold 8 shirts for $15 each then my cost of acquisition for each shirt was $6.25 and you made a $40 margin on the shirts. Right? Unfortunately we don't actually live in a direct response world.

We live in a multi attribution world.

For most businesses customers aren't just coming to your site once and then never returning. You're following up with email, or social media, or they're finding you through a Google search. So how do you account for all these different paths that a user can come through after seeing your ad? And how do you even figure out which sales came directly from your ads?

Tracking Your Ads:

The most common way to track your ads is by using what are known as utm tags. These tags are appended to the end of the url in your ad and carry through to the first page your user goes to. They get recorded by a number of systems that you might use to track your sites performance (Google Analytics, Kissmetrics, etc.). For example at Dandelion we add a few tags to the end of every ad so we can track our own performance, like>

But once you have this for of tracking in place how can you figure out which sales came from your ads? Different sources use different simple methods but the most common is probably Last Click Attribution. Last Click Attribution simply gives credit to whatever the final source was that brought a user to a site before they made a purchase or signed up. This is the most common type of attribution simply because it is the easiest to track. You just record what page a user landed on when they took action on your site (even if it wasn't directly on that page). This is what platforms like Shopify use to track conversions and it does a decent job at figuring out how you are getting customers to your site.

But it doesn't do a complete job.

Last Click Attribution tends to give too much credit to organic and social media sources. And it gives way way too much credit to email. All of this makes a lot of sense though. If a potential customer sees an ad for your product and goes to your site on their phone there's a good chance they don't purchase right away. They might go home and search for your site and then make a purchase. Last Click Attribution would say that this customer was completely organic - but they weren't! They never would have found your store if it wasn't for the ad in the first place. So how can you correctly figure out where your customers are coming from?

Last Click Attribution

The Issue With Last Click Attribution

Unfortunately there's not a simple, great way to do it. You could try First Click Attribution (think the exact opposite of Last Click Attribution), but that has almost the complete opposite problem. It gives way too much credit to paid sources and way too little credit to things like email or direct traffic. You could try a combination of the two, but that gets messy and doesn't necessarily do a better job. For larger businesses there are a number of solutions out there that you can pay for to help you determine this. 

But that's not a great option for most small businesses. If you're looking for a way to analyze your stores traffic and attribute your ads success shoot me an email at

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The Power of Social Advertising

November 23, 2015

How Dandelion helped one concert organizer massively grow ticket sales so that they:

  • Reached 16,000 People on < $100 of spend

  • Increased Total Ticket Sales per Week by ~3.6x

  • Had Massive Fan Engagement With Ads Including 506 Likes & 170 Shares

Viral Growth

Concerts are meant to bring people together. All you need to do is find people with a common love of music. It should be easy right?

As so many concert organizers know that's just not the case. It is incredibly easier said than done to get hundreds of people through the door. So how do you possibly get your show in front of thousands of people when it's just a few days beforehand?

A concert venue in Atlanta was in this exact spot. They were 8 days away from their concert and needed help getting the word out. So they turned to Dandelion to promote Ky-Mani Marley's 1 night show in Atlanta, hoping to bring in a few more fans to the Wednesday night show. 

Over the next few days word about the concert spread throughout Facebook in the Atlanta area. According to Facebook there are roughly 6,600 Ky-Mani Marley fans in Atlanta. It only took a few days for Dandelion's ads to reach all of them, and then some. The power of social media marketing is that when you manage to reach one person who loves your event you also reach all of their friends. Within minutes of creation the ad had its first like. Within hours it had its first share. Within 5 days it had reached more than 11,000 people, nearly twice the original target audience of the ads, and weekly ticket sales increased by nearly 3.6x.

What made the campaign so successful wasn't that the targeting was perfect or that the ad was something that had never been seen before. Instead it succeeded because it got Facebook users engaged with the ads and had them promote the event to their friends. The ad first hit people who were die-hard fans of Ky-Mani Marley and they quickly started to comment on the ad. A pattern emerged pretty quickly. A Facebook user would comment on the ad with the name of a friend or two asking if they wanted to go and then the friend would respond back and share the post. Soon enough people who weren't the original targets of the ad were inviting other friends and sharing it. At the time of writing this post 16,098 people had seen the post, 4,112 by paid reach (users who saw the ad as a result of paying Facebook) and 11,986 by organic reach (users who saw the ad for free because their friends commented on or shared the ad) through people commenting and sharing. 560 people liked the post and 170 had shared it. And there had been 53 parent comments.

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Here are just a few examples of those comment threads 

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These types of interactions are the real strength of advertising on a platform like Facebook. Your customers become truly engaged and they bring in their friends. Dollars of ad spend quickly multiply in value as an ad's organic reach begins to grow. Within days you are able to find new event goers who you would never have even though to target otherwise.

The Dandelion team understands that it is hard to be an expert in everything – that’s why we’ve focused on online marketing. Play to Dandelion’s strength, tell us what you want promoted, and we’ll take it from there.

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Dude, Where's My Ad?

November 20, 2015

All ads aren't equal. Some are going to work and some aren't solely based on where they are on a user's page. 

You can create the most beautiful ads in the world, but you can still lose out to someone who puts their ad in a better place. 

Some folks reading this might be a bit confused. So lets take a step back and take a look at how ad platforms don't just offer a single type of ad and how that can drastically change the performance (and price) of your ads. Facebook has a much simpler set of ad placement's than Google so we're going to use them as an example of the pros and cons of placing your ads in different spots.

The Five Basic Placements

Facebook has five basic types of ads that you can create. Desktop News Feed, Mobile News Feed, Right Hand Rail, Audience Network, and Instagram. Each type of ad looks, feels different, and has a drastically different type of performance. But when you go to create your ads all five are automatically selected! Even though in reality they're nothing alike. 

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Right Hand Rail:

The earliest form of Facebook ad is probably the most irrelevant at this point. These are the ads that sit on the right side of the page as you scroll through facebook on your computer. They look like ads, they feel like ads, and so they perform poorly. Facebook has tried to tweak the design of these ads over time, introducing larger images and longer text descriptions to make them slightly more user friendly. The idea behind these changes was essentially that bigger is better for user interaction, and while it seems to have worked a bit so far, right hand rail ads are still lagging behind news feed ads. 

Desktop News Feed:

The rise of Desktop News Feed ads basically led to the downfall of Right Hand Rail ads because they are so much more user friendly. Seamlessly integrated into users newsfeeds these ads look like they are posts by friends or by pages you like. These ads typically have a higher user engagement and can get an incredibly high level of organic reach. If you have a small budget you should definitely at least be running some desktop ads (unless you're just advertising to teenagers).

Mobile News Feed:

Mobile News Feed ads are rapidly overtaking (or may have already overtaken) Desktop News Feed ads as the primary Facebook advertising method. In 2014 mobile users first outnumbered desktop users and the gap continues to widen. Just like desktop ads mobile ads seamlessly fit in with the rest of the user experience and lend themselves to a more native advertising feel. The one risk of these is many sites still have a poor mobile experience so you don't want to run these unless you've optimized your site for mobile. But, if you have you can be incredibly successful with these ads.

Audience Network:

Even Facebook knows that the Audience Network ads don't lead to results. A network of affiliates (not Facebook) who serve these ads on behalf of Facebook to mobile users allow these ads to have a wide reach, but lead to poor quality. As Facebook's numerous case studies attest to these ads have extremely low CPMs and as a result can lead to extremely inexpensive clicks. However, they just don't lead to conversions. In all the case studies on Facebook's marketing page not one talks about the ROI benefits of the Audience Network. Unless you are looking to run a branding campaign avoid these ads.


Do these even count as Facebook ads? For a while they didn't. But, recently Facebook made Instagram a default option for every single adset that is created. It's odd because many of the best practices for Instagram ads are different from the best practices for Facebook ads because of the differences between the platforms, but Facebook is pushing users to show almost identical ads on each. That being said, the reach of these ads and the high user interaction makes for a very exciting opportunity for advertising. In the coming months the adscape may become saturated, but for now there is definitely value there especially when trying to grow a brand.

Where's My Ad?

None of the ad placements for Facebook, or for any ad platform, result in identical ads or in identical results. You need to evaluate what the goals of your advertising are. This is especially important for anyone trying to advertise with a small budget. If you just let Facebook place your ads everywhere you may quickly see your budget quickly spent without any results.

Don't want to worry about ad placements? Let Dandelion handle your advertising for you with our team of advertising professionals. 

Sign up today and see the benefits of easy advertising.

Is there a topic you would like us to cover in our blog? Or do you have questions about any part of online advertising? Feel free to email me at

Getting the Most From Your Ads

November 16, 2015

Once you have your ads created you're all set right? You've taken care of all of the hard parts of online advertising?

Unfortunately no. The hardest part is yet to come. To get the most out of your ads you need to constantly optimize and tweak your ads so you can find out what works best. 

If you don't you might find that your ad budget is disappearing rather quickly.

But what does ad optimization actually look like? 

Find Your Audience:

We've already talked a bit about how to find the right audience for your ads. But unfortunately you're not always going to be able to get the right audience right away. Maybe you think that you're looking for men in their mid 40's who are looking for a career change, but what does that necessarily look like? Are they homeowners? Office workers? Maybe you just want to target NBA fans (seriously this worked). The key is you don't know for sure until you start running ads, and to find the perfect audience you need to test a ton of different ideas.

Start off by figuring out generally who your target audience is at a broad level. Then start segmenting the audience into smaller groups that you want to test. They should still be broad enough that enough people will see your ads that you can gather useful data. Then create 5-10 ads for each audience and start testing!

Making Your Ads to Test:

Getting started writing online ads can be tricky, but once you get a feel for it you can churn them out pretty quickly. When you start an advertising campaign you need to put out enough ads to really find out what works and what doesn't. No idea is too dumb for this stage of advertising (as long as you don't go all in on a bad ad), and you probably want to be testing at least a few ideas that seem a bit out there.

Pro-tip: Make sure your ads are relatively consistent across audiences. You might want to tweak your copy or images slightly to make it so the ads are relevant to your audience, but for the most part you want the ads to be similar so you can figure out whether it was the audience or the ad that was the key to success (or both!).

Time to Optimize:

Once you have your ads all set up you're ready to go. Start with a small budget, just a few dollars per ad per day. You don't want to get to the end of a week of testing and realize that you've burned thousands of dollars on ads that just didn't work. After a day or two - once you feel like enough people have seen your first ads to have some meaningful data - start cutting. A good rule of thumb is find your average CPA (I use this term broadly here to mean whatever you're trying to optimize for. Sale, click, email capture, whatever.) and cut every ad that's performing below that. Then reassign the budget you just cut to the ads that are performing well. Wait a few days and repeat. And repeat again. You want your daily CPA (green) to look something like this:

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After a little while you should be left with only a few of your top performing ads left. Then it's time to start the process all over again. Start scaling up the budget on the winners of your first optimization and then start creating new audiences and new ads and start finding something that performs even better.

All of the optimization efforts I've been talking about here are for cases when you're able to spend at least $500 a week advertising, which obviously isn't everyone (and isn't most of our clients here at Dandelion). In the case when you're dealing with a low spend, you need to tweak your efforts a bit. I could write a whole post on low budget optimization (and probably will soon), but it basically boils down to having to make a decision. You typically will have the budget to try to find the optimal audience or ad copy, but not necessarily both. I recommend focusing on the audiences because they make a more significant long term impact.

Start Optimizing!

Do you want to run an optimized advertising campaign for your business but don't think you have the time or the marketing expertise? Start using Dandelion today No matter the size of your business Dandelion can help you reach more potential customers and grow!

How One Dandelion User Improved Her Sales by 300%

November 16, 2015

It’s a common issue. You have a great product, but you have limited marketing knowledge. After all, it’s hard to be an expert in everything.

Dandelion customer Krittika (Krit) Khandelwal does not have this issue. She has nearly a decade of marketing experience. She has a degree in marketing. And she also has a great-looking online jewelry store named Soothi.

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So Krit set up a Facebook advertising campaign in hopes of increasing sales. Given her marketing expertise and her research about this new marketing medium, she had reason to believe that her results would be better than most. 

She was right. By avoiding many of the pitfalls that often plague nascent Facebook campaigns, Krit did see some success.

In the first six months of 2015, her ads definitely drove traffic to her site (3940 clicks) and resulted in sales (25 sales). The problem, as Krit saw it, was that there were extended periods of time when no sales occurred. It took 181 days to make those 25 sales – a single sale once every 7.24 days.

In the fall Krit turned to Dandelion. She wanted better results and, perhaps just as importantly, she wanted to stop spending two hours each day configuring her Facebook ads.

For a two-week period starting on October 15th, Dandelion made improvements across all metrics. A sale was now occurring every 1.75 days and the cost to make a sale dropped 37%. The click conversion rate jumped from .63% to .96%.

These achievements were mostly accomplished through ad diversity and very specific audience targeting. Krit had us promote five of her products. We created multiple ads for every product:

A large reason for creating so many ads was that we needed to test different audiences. What works for earrings may or may not also work for necklaces. In our quest to find the optimal target customer we sent ads to all sorts of people: old people, young people, people who like yoga, people who have a tendency to buy stuff online, people who like the movie "The Tree of Life." We also compiled data from Soothi's previous customers. By studying the patterns of those who shopped at Soothi, we constructed a new "lookalike audience" that could also be expected to enjoy shopping at Soothi.

Audience targeting and testing pays large dividends. So does testing different images and text.

Those are ads we launched for two fairly similar Soothi products. The top one performed better. 

Enter the "optimizing" part of Dandelion. Some ads perform the way intuition would suggest. Many times, though, even we are surprised. That's why we constantly monitor and remove underperformers.  Or we might just take some of the text from the better ad and try it with a different picture. Or a different audience. Or a different headline. The permutations are practically endless.

A serious time commitment is required to deal with "endless permutations." Krit was devoting more than 10 hours per week to ad configuration, and it was simply unsustainable for her. By switching to Dandelion she suddenly had a lot more of life's most precious resource: time.

The Dandelion team understands that it is hard to be an expert in everything – that’s why we’ve focused on online marketing. Play to Dandelion’s strength, tell us what you want promoted, and we’ll take it from there.

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Choosing an Audience for Your Ads

November 11, 2015

When it comes to successful online advertising, making ads that look great has a surprisingly low influence. It’s nice to have a beautiful ad, or an ad that makes people laugh, but what good is that if the ad never sells your products?

You can have the best ads possible but they’ll be a money burn if the right people aren’t seeing them.

Digital Advertising Audience Basics

Every major online advertising platform (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.) has tools that let you choose your target audience with incredible specificity. From the basics such as:

  • Age

  • Gender

  • Location

To the hyper-specifics such as:

  • Employer

  • College major

  • Income & Net Worth

You have the ability to get your ads in front of exactly who you want. But who should you get them in front of?

It's not as straightforward as you might think. If you run an online store that sells men's leather jackets and you're planning on advertising on Facebook then you might think that you should be advertising to Men, ages 25-55, who like leather jackets. If you take a look at that audience on Facebook it seems pretty good at first glance. Between 500 & 600 thousand users, mostly weighted towards the younger end of the group, mostly single and college educated.  

Demographics of Men, 25-55, Who Like Leather Jackets

Facebook Audience Job Breakdown

But not all leather jackets are the same. Maybe your store sells high end leather jackets that cost nearly $1000 each. Then you probably want to be targeting users who have high household & disposible income, maybe those who have a history of online purchases. If we take a look further into the audience we chose earlier we see that most of the people don't have a high household income, and while they buy online more often than most of the population they don't buy clothing as often. So maybe the audience wasn't right after all.... If you had been running ads on that audience 80% of the people seeing those ads wouldn't have been close to being your potential customers. 

Facebook Audience Purchase Behavior

Facebook Audience Spend Behavior

How Do You Know Your Audience?

So how can you really find out who your audience should be? The best way is to analyze your old customers. Facebook has an amazing feature where you can upload email lists to create audiences and then analyze them just the way we analyzed this leather jacket customer. You can find out who your customers are, what they like, where they live, and so much more. It can do more than just help you find new customers who are like them too. It can help influence the ads you make and even the new products you choose to sell. 

Want our help finding your target audience and creating effective advertising campaigns?

Launch A Dandelion Campaign! →

If you want to reach out to us to talk more about your ads, your ideal audience, or just about online advertising in general shoot us an email at we love to talk about what we do :). If you want us to run an analysis of your customers feel free to send us an email as well.

Have a great day,

-The Dandelion Team