Preston Smith: Small biz superhero, from one to 94 leads within 90 days on Facebook

Preston Smith of Infusionsoft recently shared how he used micro-targeting on Facebook to grow his campaigns from one qualified opportunity in March to 80 in May.

If you’re doing lead generation or are in business-to-business, listen up:

1. Fire, ready, aim

Smith started with a budget of only $600 a week on April 1. No fancy tools, consultants, content library or other tools that feel needed before you start; Just one guy with Power Editor.

He was already the manager of an organic marketing team, so this was a side project to test. You’re busy, too, but you can spend a couple hours to try this. You can rapidly adjust, as you go, in just a few minutes a day, and don’t be afraid to fail. Assume you’re going to fail but with enough shots on goal, you’ll succeed. Invest your time in demonstrating results on a small scale, as opposed to spending meeting after meeting trying to budget and buy-in for a ‘big’ plan.



2. Pretend you’re the NSA.

He included unique Google url tracking parameters and LeadSource parameters in his organic posts and ads.

Smith didn’t spend a dime without knowing exactly how it converted based on goals set using Google Analytics. His goal was getting people to watch the Infusionsoft demo, and he already knew the funnel from lead to opportunity to sale that allows one to quantify the acquisition and conversion cost at each stage. It helps to have a marketing automation tool, like Marketo, in place for revenue tracking and campaign management, but don’t let that stop you.

Analysis paralysis kills most marketing initiatives — so spend 80 percent of your time doing and 20 percent analyzing.


3. Rapid killing and spawning

With only a $600 per week budget, Smith didn’t have much room for error. He started with page post ads making sure that fans are viewing his posts. These folks are predisposed to convert: they’re your social mailing list.

He didn’t even use custom audiences or unpublished page posts at this stage. Remember — he was only using a shoestring budget for a mere side project. When one uploads his or her email list to Facebook for matching, it creates a custom audience. If you create posts in the News Feed that are only displayed to your targeted ad audience, it’s an unpublished page post.

If the ad didn’t convert after spending $30, he killed it. But as a rule of thumb, be willing to spend 3 times what a lead is worth. If your lead is worth $5, then you can spend $15 on an ad before killing it. Your initial cost per conversion may be a multiple of your target. Typically, you can get a 300 percent improvement in efficiency via optimization. So if you have a $60 CPA, you can probably get it down to $20 in a few cycles.

4. Let the fruit ripen

April produced more leads than any other month, but no qualified opportunities or sales. Consider the average elapsed time in your own funnel. Then, assume that social can be double since you’re reaching them earlier in the decision process. Some B2B marketers assume the  current  month’s leads came from the same month’s marketing efforts. Make sure you reap and sow in season, while also tracking their progress down the funnel in your CRM, and build momentum.

If you don’t have a lot of fans yet, that’s okay. Just know that as the base increases, so will your CTR, because people in your industry will see others who are interacting or engaging. Project your growth curves to when you expect to hit your volume and CPA targets.

5. Divide and conquer 

A few weeks in, Smith began refining his segmentation — to micro-target  different audiences. Once he understood that, “the sky was the limit.” In Power Editor (no fancy PPC tool required) he created dozens of campaigns with multiple ads inside them.

Infusionsoft automates marketing and sales for small businesses. So here are some of the targets that he went after:


He used literal and lateral interest stacking to create highly targeted audiences full of leads, not just names. Literal interests include terms directly related to your business. In this case, Smith used his brand page to exclude users, but he could have also included people using GroSocial.

He also included relevant lateral interests – terms that are tangentially related to his brand. Infusionsoft is software for entrepreneurs and small business owners. Therefore, Smith included #Entrepreneur, #SmallBusiness, and owner founder, CEO founder, and founder interests.

Then he narrowed his audience through age criteria and partner targeting. Combining interest stacking with demographic and partner targeting turns a huge, but relevant, audience into a small and focused one.

In the future, he could include competitor interests to attract competitors’ customers, such as researching Marketo’s interest keywords.

Who says B2B lead gen isn’t awesome on social?

You just need one person willing to play around in Power Editor.

Dennis Yu has helped brands grow and measure their Facebook presences. He has spoken at Search Marketing Expo, Search Engine Strategies, Web 2.0, The American Marketing Association, PubCon, Conversational Commerce Conference, Pacific Conferences, HostingCon, Affiliate Summit, Affiliate Convention, UltraLight Startups, MIVA Merchant, and other venues. Yu has also counseled the Federal Trade Commission on privacy issues for social networks. Yu has held leadership positions at Yahoo and American Airlines. His educational background is finance and economics from Southern Methodist University and London School of Economics.