Street Life Ministries is a non-profit that helps homeless people get off the streets of the mid-peninsula. They were raising money to launch a rehab program and wanted to do a major ad campaign.
They gave me a $10,000 ad budget and 2 months to spend it.
Street Life is popular in its local community and around 80%of its supporters are 35+ years old. So, we decided to focus all our ads on people who are local and 35+. We also had a strong fundraising webpage to send people to. So, we decided target locals who were 35+ with the goal of sending them to that fundraising page.
I began by testing the attention span of our audience. I created a set of 4 ads, that all communicated the same message, but at different speeds. From 5 to 60 seconds:
What surprised me about this test, was that the 2 top performers here were the 5s and 60s ads. The 5s ad had a cost per click of $2.62 and the 60s ad had a cost per click of $3.01.
This meant that longer ads could work for this audience.
So, a seasoned investor (and fan of Street Life) met with me and helped me produce a longer and more detailed video. This was the result:
Even though the video was 2.5X longer than the 60s video, it got the same cost per click, of $3.01. Which is excellent. I would much rather someone click my link after a 2m 30s video, then after a 60s video. Because that means they are more educated and interested in the topic.
Next, I took a past promo video I had made, that was even longer (4m & 8s), and ran that as an ad. I thought it was an excellent promo video…but…
…it did very poorly. Costing $5.37 per click.
This is important. Ads that you like, and you think are awesome, are not always that awesome. This is why we test.
After that, I decided to test picture ads to see how they would do on a campaign like this. I created 2 ads that had identical wording, but a different picture. The pictures were very similar, but one was in the daytime and the other in the night.
I thought for sure the night would do better because it was more dramatic. But no. The day picture did MUCH better, averaging $3.36 per click, while the night picture averaged $4.33 per click. These ads did a good job at starting a discussion in the comments, but they didn’t have an impressive click rate. And the goal was to get people to click the link and visit the fundraising webpage. If they didn’t click, that means they didn’t donate.
Before completely abandoning picture ads on this campaign, I thought I would give it one more shot. So, I created and ran this ad on Instagram and Facebook Stories (there was a button that would pop up on the bottom of this ad, that you could tap, and it would send you to our fundraising page.
This didn’t work that well. Its cost per click was $4.33. And I think this is because we were not selling a visual product (like a t-shirt), but we were selling a detailed vision. Something you kind of need to explain to someone before they will get the value of it.
After this, I decided to go back to video ads. I took what I had been learning about our audience and created a new 30s ad:
This did okay and achieved a cost per click of $3.81.
Then Street Life hosted an in-person fundraiser event where they gave a lot of new details and shared some powerful testimonials. So, I shot video footage of the event, created highlight clips and used them to create a completely new ad. One that gave more details, showed more footage and was 3m 24s long.
This did excellent and got the best cost per click so far. Costing $2.59 per click. The comment section also got very interesting on this ad. People left encouraging comments, good questions, and even asked if they could help volunteer. Love seeing that!
Finally, I took 3 testimonial videos from the recent fundraiser event. Chopped them into something the internet could digest and paired them with descriptions that explained who was on the screen and what they were trying to raise money for. These were the 3 videos:
These ads KILLED IT. Getting a cost per click of $3.01, $1.82, and $2.29. Even the comment sections were beautiful on all 3 of these ads. Probably because these stories came right from the heart, and people could feel it.
Throughout all these tests, I would continually run the highest performing ads, until we found one that did better. Also, during this campaign, I regularly pumped out new stories and engaging pieces of content on Street Life’s social media. And I would use some of the advertising budget to boost these posts and make sure they reached the max amount of people. This way people saw our ads and then regularly saw interesting and engaging stories and updates about Street Life.
✔️ $8,907.05 was spent on ads and $994.97 was spent boosting posts.
✔️ Totaling 273,420 views.
✔️ Reaching 93,887 locals.
✔️ And getting 3,179 clicks.
Not all of the money raised came from this campaign, there was an in-person fundraiser and an online fundraiser that happened during the campaign. That was on purpose. We wanted people to see our ads, hear about the rehab program, and then go to the fundraisers. The fundraisers definitely helped, and I think it’s safe to say the advertising paid for itself :)
Big shoutout to Dave Shearin, Vicky Lanzone, and the rest of the Street Life team for trusting me with $10,000 and constantly supporting and encouraging me along the way. Also, shoutout to Bill Hooper who gave me A LOT of critical feedback. It wasn’t always easy to hear, but it was extremely helpful, and made this campaign MUCH MUCH better. Could not have done it without you guys ❤️