5 ways British Heart Foundation use Facebook ads for fundraising


Like most charities, Facebook advertising is a really important part of British Heart Foundation’s digital fundraising activity.

Here are five key insights from our work.


1. Boost posts and use advertising

We use both advertising and boosting posts to give our campaigns the best possible chance of success.

Boosting helps us reach as many people in our warm audience as possible. It also helps us go slightly outside of this to reach their friends as a sort of next step amplification. We’ve started setting aside budget to boost posts very regularly. Ideally, we’d have an ‘always on’ approach to boosting.

We use advertising to reach our cold audiences and for stewardship.

Our biggest successes have been with Lookalike Audiences – no surprise there! This is a brilliant way to find your target group based on signals and likes from your core audience.

For the lowest cost per acquisition, we’ve found the maximum percentage range Lookalike we would go to is 0-3%. If we were looking at driving upper funnel, then we would test 3%-5% and 5%-10%. But we’d always make sure the teams we are working with are aware of this, via the proposed media plans, as it usually leads to higher CPA.


2. Align with your audience insights

Something we’ve tested recently which has had strong engagement rates (but not necessarily low CPA), is the new third party data segments. These have been whitelisted in our account and include things like Experian and Datalogix profiles.

If you have an insights team, they can give you advice on your audience segments. You can then match up the profiles in Facebook ads manager.

This is great for marrying up the segments you would traditionally use for TV or DM to give you a consistent approach to ad buying.

We saw great results doing this in a recent awareness campaign on inherited heart conditions, achieving a 4.64% video view rate compared to the campaign average of 1.82%.


3. Use your own view rate percentage

Speaking of view rates, you might have seen that Facebook got in trouble for their default 3 second video views last year.  

So we created our own view rate percentage. We divide the number of people who viewed 75% of the video by impressions and multiply by the result by 100.

We feel that only using 75% view percentage means the campaign messaging would land, and the user would have reached the end frame call to action. So it’s a better way of measuring than Facebook’s 3 seconds.


4. One message doesn’t fit all

Another thing we’ve tried to move away from recently is sending out one message for all audiences.

We were finding rising CPAs and declining volumes from Facebook. So we had to ask ourselves – is it platform fatigue over time, or does our content need to work harder? We thought both.

As a team, we really wanted to embrace a more customer centric approach to marketing. So now we use the “See, Think, Do, Care” marketing and measurement framework, championed by Avinash Kaushik (you might also know it if you’ve done Squared Online)

So for every campaign my team work on with directorates across the BHF, we take them through this planning and measurement framework. We start by asking, “Who is our largest addressable qualified audience, and what content do we have to engage them?”

This doesn’t always mean using a “Sign up now” advert at every stage. Instead, we might be warming people up with a case study, an inspiring article or helpful guide. This helps nurture them with the logical next helpful action, instead of blasting them with ‘Sign up now’ messages all the time.  


5. Keep sharing your experiences

Facebook is an ever-changing beast – you feel like you’re getting to a good place with it, then suddenly a new feature emerges or they completely change how something crucial like conversion tracking is set up (that was a fun Christmas 2015!).

Keep learning, keep testing above all, let’s keep sharing our experiences and campaign case studies.


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