Social Media Case Study: How Facebook Ads Can Increase Sales

Client: Painting with a Twist in Grapevine, Texas (PWAT)

Business Problems

The client felt they had been “flushing $1,000 down the toilet every month” by trying various forms of advertising in print, radio, TV, and PR. They were not seeing any increase in new customers— even coupons, prizes, and charity gift certificates went unclaimed. They came to us with these problems:

  1. How to increase sales without offering a discount
  2. How to track sales back to advertising dollars
  3. How to achieve #1 and #2 with social media marketing and $1,000 per month


We started by interviewing the client about her business and target audiences. We learned that first-time customers have so much fun that they don’t need convincing to become a repeat customer. The client was already using email campaigns and Facebook posts to stay top-of-mind, so existing customers were not the biggest opportunity for sales growth. Instead, PWAT needed a way to reach brand new customers, who would then naturally become repeat customers. This was the key insight on which we focused our strategy.

The second insight was that PWAT always nets a profit from private parties because the party host has to guarantee a minimum number of people will attend. Regular class sales were doing fine, but private party sales had room for growth.


  1. Reach people who had never heard of PWAT.
  2. Educate them about PWAT’s novel painting and drinking concept.
  3. Convince them that PWAT would be such a fun party or group occasion that they needed to buy a class and convince multiple other people to buy the same class.

So our objective was that one contact person would net multiple sales, thus maximizing the client’s budget and goals.


We used Facebook Ad campaigns to target new potential customers and present them with a helpful tip that was relevant to their needs: the idea that painting and drinking is a fun alternative to their party or group occasion.

Implementation Plan

Topics: We worked with the client to identify all of the occasions that would cause one person to bring other people with them to a painting and drinking class, such as girls’ night out, bachelorette parties, birthday parties, date night, and corporate team building events.

Headline Copy: We used Google’s Keyword Tool to discover key phrases that people search for when seeking group activity ideas. These key phrases guided our ad headlines; for example, “Date Night Idea” is searched more often than “Couples Night Out”, so “Date Night Idea” is probably a more relevant ad headline. With this search-based copywriting method, we could be sure our ads would be relevant to as many people as possible, and that our ads would sound like a helpful tip instead of like a sales pitch.

Images: Using the client’s existing painting image library, we matched paintings’ subject matter with our event occasion topics; for example, a Breakfast at Tiffany’s painting is good subject matter for a Girls’ Night Out ad. To make Facebook’s tiny ad images pop out of the sidebar, we used a few techniques:

  • Size the images to fit and center within the exact Facebook ad dimensions
  • Crop the original image so viewers can easily tell what’s in the image
  • Saturate the colors, optimize the lighting, and sharpen the contrast
  • Add a 1-3 pixel border
  • Use cut-out image shapes and vertical images stand out in the sea of rectangular landscape images
  • If you have white space, add a drop shadow to pop the shape off the page

Examples of actual Facebook Ads we created:

Facebook Ads

Body Copy & Landing Pages: Facebook ads don’t have enough characters to fully explain much of anything, so we linked each ad to the client’s home page, which we optimized to provide more details and to lead users to browse the calendar, book a private party, or buy a gift certificate. We also optimized each of those pages with the same SEO key words we used in the ads. This helped create continuity from the ad to the web site, and to a sale.

Facebook Ad Targeting: Each ad was targeted at the people most likely to become a new customer, which we identified as people of legal drinking age who weren’t already fans of the PWAT Facebook Page (potential new customers), who live within a certain mileage radius from Grapevine, who Liked related topics such as cooking and wine, and were most likely to plan group activities for each ad topic (ex. engaged females for Bachelorette party ads).


We measured results using all available methods at several points along the path to purchase:

Facebook Ads Analytics: Statistics showed us which ads’ copy and creative were drawing the most attention with clicks. This helped us create more attractive ads.

Google Analytics: We set unique tracking variables in each ad URL so we could see which headlines and which images were generating the most clicks, and which ones lead to more time spent on the website to buy a class. We noticed the visitor clickthrough flow from ad traffic rarely ended on the purchase page, and we are okay with this because our path to purchase is not immediate. Our ads gave new customers the idea to bring their friends, which means they must first research the idea on our site, spend a few days convincing other people to come with them, and then come back to the site to buy, at which point these visits are counted as direct traffic instead of ad referral traffic. As long as our ad traffic resulted in time spent clicking around the site, then we could infer our ads may have led to multiple sales. The overall change in sales numbers (below) proves this to be true.

In class: The client asked or had customers fill out a questionnaire about what led them to come to class that day (as opposed to asking how they originally heard about PWAT). In doing this, the client met several customers who cited Facebook Ads as their reason for bringing a large group. The client reported:

“I had a party of 21 come in today, all new. It was a team building event for [a Fortune 500 company] customer service [team]. One of the ladies saw the ad on Facebook for the Black Dress, and that’s how they found out about me. Most people can’t really recall what they saw, but this lady knew exactly what the ad said and everything.”

“I had a big group of girls in last night, one of them mentioned she saw the ads on Facebook. She said she saw them really often and its what made her decide to have her birthday here. She had been to the Fort Worth location before, but the ad made her consider doing a party and my store was centrally located. Yea!!!!”

Overall change in sales numbers:

How Facebook Ads Increased Sales

  • Our primary target area, Parties sales, increased a conservative 400% from an average range of $800-2,000 per month to $7,000-10,000 per month (compare pink to green sections in the chart).
  • We DOUBLED February’s total monthly sales from 2011 to 2012, almost entirely due to the increase in Parties sales.
  • PWAT set an all-time, total sales record in Dec. 2011, then topped that record in February 2012, again in March, and then almost again in June!

Key Learnings

1) If you give people a good reason to do something, they will. For example:

  • You don’t have to offer a discount to attract new customers. Simply give people a good reason why they need to buy it.
  • One ad impression can generate multiple sales if you give people a reason to convince their friends to buy, too.
  • Give people good reasons why your product answers their seasonal and holiday needs, and your sales will spike.

2) Wait at least 3-6 months before you decide if a new form of marketing is working. This allows time to see if your results are affected by seasonal changes. You also need time to test different marketing content, especially if you are trying to introduce a novel concept or change existing behaviors.

If you found this case study helpful, please vote for us to present our proposed panel at SXSW 2013, Small Budget, Big Impact— 23 Social Media Tactics.

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