How to use Twitter ads to 13x engagement with company announcements

Recently I’ve been using Twitter Ads to promote blog posts that announce new features. While I don’t typically trust social media sites for content promotion, I thought I’d give Twitter Ads a shot.

At MaxCDN we’ve used Twitter Ads in the past to promote PDFs. After spending about $1,000 on advertising we secured a client that continues to pay us $3,000/month. We were able to track that they first downloaded the PDF on Twitter, signed up for a free test account, then became a customer.

Nice job content. Thanks Twitter Ads. But even though that new enterprise-level client was welcome, there were also some unwelcome things we experienced. Namely: Twitter users with fictitious profiles and/or irrelevant interests were liking and retweeting the promoted tweet and downloading the content.

This was probably because we weren’t targeting correctly, but we took a break from Twitter Ads regardless. Sure, getting that new client was awesome, but it took 3 to 4 months for them to move down the funnel. Plus we were paying money for irrelevant engagements.

Promoting Announcements to Followers: When Twitter Ads Can’t Fail

After taking a break from Twitter Ads I decided to ease back into it. I did this because we were releasing more new features than ever before and needed to let more of our customers know about them. Using non-paid tweets, Facebook posts, LinkedIn posts, and email wasn’t cutting it.

For emails announcing new features, 40% of our customers open them. And only 1% click through to the actual announcement (blog post). Because we want ALL of our customers to understand and implement our new features, this level of engagement doesn’t even come close to helping us reach our goal.

Enter: Twitter Ads for new feature announcements.

I saw an opportunity to use Twitter Ads to engage our customers who prefer their Twitter feed over their inbox. While this approach gambles on the idea that a lot of our followers are also our customers, it doesn’t matter much at the end of the day.

If only 10% of our 7,000+ followers are customers, that’s fine. It’s money well spent because – no matter what – we’re targeting people who at least have enough interest in us to follow us on Twitter. And who knows, the feature we’re announcing could be the one needed to push them to become a customer.

So yes, it’s a good idea. And not just in theory, but in practice. After using Twitter Ads to promote blog posts announcing new features, we received 14+ comments for each post (Post #2 and Post #3). In comparison we usually don’t receive any comments on announcement posts. Also, you’ll see why I called them Post #2 and #3 instead of #1 and #2 in a second…

An Imperfect but Enlightening A/B Test

In June 2016 we released three new features thanks to our engineering team and the almighty Jay Dorf. Which means we published three new blog posts. For all three features we sent out an email. All three emails were similar in structure and linked to the corresponding blog post. We also shared all three announcements on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn (non-paid).

It can also be argued that all three features are different but equal in importance. What I’m getting at is: All things were relatively equal except for how they were promoted. The first announcement didn’t get a Twitter Ad, the other two did.

Let’s compare what happened between Post #1 and Post #2 in terms of traffic:

Post #1 (No Twitter Ad used)

Traffic for announcement without using Twitter Ads

Post #2 (Twitter Ad used)

Traffic for announcement when using Twitter Ads for additional exposure

You’ll notice that each post has a similar traffic pattern, but the pattern of Post #2 is larger in scale. This is because it’s getting in our customers’ inboxes AND Twitter feeds. All these forces of awareness are working in tandem.

A correlation we can draw from this is:

More Relevant Traffic = More Engagement

Traffic alone doesn’t matter. We want that lovely thing only relevant traffic can offer: engagement. Remember, Post #2 and #3 received 13 comments containing constructive feedback and questions. Commenters also offered to share test results with us after implementing the new feature.

So yes, targeting your followers with Twitter Ads is great. But how the hell do you set it up?

Now for the fun stuff…

How to Target Your Followers with Twitter Ads

Unfortunately there isn’t an option in the Twitter Ads portal that reassures you that you’re ONLY targeting your followers. But after some experimentation I figured out how to achieve this.

Just follow these steps:

  1. From the main Twitter site, click your company icon in the top right-hand corner and select Twitter Ads:

    Screenshot of option bar in Twitter

  2. In the campaign dashboard, click Create new campaign, then select the first option: Tweet engagements:

    Screenshot of Tweet engagement option int Twitter Campaigns

    • Side Note: A tweet engagement is a like, a retweet, or link click. Because this is an announcement, we really just want link clicks. Remember: Having our customers visit the announcement gives us the best shot of having them understand – and implement – the new feature.

      But there’s a good reason we’re not choosing the second campaign option: website clicks or conversions. The reason? The cost per result (CPR) is significantly less for campaigns based on tweet engagements.

      While the CPR is about $3 for us when we do click campaigns, tweet engagements are only about $1. And when we’re promoting announcements only to our followers, most of the engagements are clicks anyways – not likes and retweets. This is what we’ve experienced, but you should experiment with each campaign type.

      For now though, go with Tweet engagements.

  3. When you’re on the New Campaign page: name your campaign, select Show Ads in all available locations, and select English as your language (optional).

    Now click +Add followers and untick the Also target users like your followers box. After this set your daily budget and total budget, then select Automatic Bid for the best CPR.

    The whole process looks like this:

    GIF of how to set up a Twitter Ad campaign that only targets followers

  4. Click Save in the top right part of the page.
  5. We’ll come back to this page in a little to launch the campaign, but first we have to create the tweets we’ll promote. Twitter recommends you make at least 3 tweets (creatives) for each campaign. This way Twitter can test which one performs best then put more of your budget behind it.

  6. After saving your campaign, select Creatives, then click Tweets:

    Screenshot of the Creatives tab in Twitter Ads

    You could use cards, but Tweets have a less salesly feel. And because we’re promoting to our customers/followers who already know us, we want this to feel as organic as possible.

  7. Click the New Tweet box on the right side of the screen.
  8. Compose your tweet with a link to your announcement, and upload an image. (If you don’t have an image, you can easily create one using Pablo.) Then select Promoted-only and click Tweet:

    GIF of creating a promoted tweet inside Twitter Ads

    Now do this 2-4 more times, experimenting with different text and/or images.

  9. After you create your tweets, click on the Campaigns tab in the top navigation bar.
  10. On the Campaign dashboard page, select Draft campaigns in the Filter by area:

    Screenshot of the Filter by section in Twitter Ads Campaign section

  11. Click the Edit link next to the campaign you saved earlier.
  12. Scroll down to the Choose your creatives section. Now select all the tweets you just created:

    GIF of selecting creatives in the Twitter Ads Campaign section

    Before launching your campaign you’re able to preview how they look on Apple devices, Android devices, and desktops.

  13. Click Launch in the top right part of your screen.

And you’re set! Now your followers will continue seeing your announcement in their Twitter feed until they engage with it (like it, retweet it, or click the link).

I’ll be interested to hear whether you experience results similar to ours!

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