Facebook Ads Acquisition Pilot: A data-driven approach to recruiting new supporters at low cost

As a digital-first organisation, SumOfUs is familiar with recruiting new supporters and action takers online.

With us, they wanted to try a digital mobilisation approach using paid ads to grow their email list, and convert those new supporters into donors.

By the end of the two-month pilot, SumOfUs had 40,000 new opted-in sign-ups, one-third of ad spend recouped before sending a single fundraising email (through the initial user journey), and the data and skills needed to take forward an acquisition program long-term.

What we did

Since SumOfUs operate in 11 countries, we needed to test Facebook ads as a list growth strategy globally. To do so, we collaborated with SumOfUs campaigners, who identified two or three of the fastest-growing petitions in their region which we could advertise to attract new supporters.



Keeping cost per acquisition low

With a small budget, we tested each petition to determine which was most attractive to potential new supporters, as well as which creative ads variants (copy and images) performed best for each.

By constantly testing throughout the pilot we were able to 1) allocate more budget to the best performing ads to keep the cost per acquisition low, and 2) present SumOfUs with a raft of data on the types of creative that compel their target audiences to take action.


Reaching the right audiences

Strategically targeting certain audiences within Facebook Ad Manager gave us data on who SumOfUs should target for the best returns.

For example, we found that targeting a broad all-country audience generated a lower cost per sign-up, whereas an environmental or activist interest audience was far more likely to donate, leading to a larger return on ad spend.


Testing hypotheses before blowing your budget

Logic might dictate that optimising for donations would lead to more donations – but through testing we found that (counter-intuitively), optimising for sign-ups actually lead to more donations at a lower cost per acquisition. Knowing this, SumOfUs can now allocate their budget wisely to reach their strategic goals.


Enabling data-led decisions

By running this low-budget pilot project with us, SumOfUs now has a robust model of success, along with the data (including benchmarks for cost and return on ad spend) to decide whether to invest in acquisition from Facebook ads in the long-term.


What’s the take-away?

The idea of using Facebook ads for supporter acquisition can feel intimidating, but we would always encourage organisations of any size to start small and gather data on what works for their audience, then roll out a tested, cost-effective program to recruit supporters and donors.