The New and Used Boat Company (think the Rightmove of the canal boating world) holds a sales event each year. No more than two narrowboats (avg. value £100k) have ever been sold at one of these events.
With Virtually Savvy onboard to manage the Facebook page and develop Ad campaigns, 2019’s event saw twelve boats sold. That’s a whopping £1.2millon in sales from one event.
And the best bit? The Ad Spend on the Facebook lead-gen campaign was less than £700.
This is how it happened.
Before: Let down by an agency
Chris Hill is the Managing Director of The New and Used Boat Co., the UK’s leading supplier of canal boats.
Before partnering with Virtually Savvy, the company’s Facebook marketing was managed by an agency.
“The agency basically just posted and gave no real analysis or direction,” Chris told me.
The page had very limited engagement, which was hard to believe considering the company’s reputation and level of website traffic.
All of the posts were sales-based and there was no real purpose to the page.
“I needed someone that was going to take a real personal interest,” said Chris.
He knew the company was underperforming when it came to social media, and he wanted to make the most of its potential.
Chris’ wife, a business owner herself, found me via social media (because I practice what I preach), and Chris and I began working together in January 2019.
During: Organic engagement and a well-tested Facebook lead-gen campaign
We wanted to use Facebook as a space that any canal boat owner (or wannabe owner) could go to hear about events, news, and new boats on the market.
We built engagement quickly with a 30% increase in the first month, and that was purely through organic posting.
Chris was keen to try Facebook Ads but understandably cautious. The company traditionally used print marketing. It was used to investing heavily, but this was a new form of marketing.
This being such a niche market, I agreed that a slow approach was best.
We started with a page-like campaign.
To date, we’ve grown the audience to a healthy 6k. That’s an increase of over 200% in 8 months.
We achieved £0.16p per page like, with 2.5k likes coming from paid ads, and 3.5k organic (including the original <2k).
When we saw how receptive the community was to advertising, we moved on to a Facebook lead-gen campaign.
My job was to promote the company’s annual event to a cold audience (people who hadn’t heard of them) and then turn them into the hottest leads. Once they were there, it was over to the sales team to convert them.
I tested a variety of audiences to find the sweet spot. Finding the right audience was key here, and we used a combination of previous customers, website visitors, and interests to narrow it down.
For the Ads, I used images that had brought in the most engagement when posted organically. We tested different creative ideas with these audiences, as one Ad might not necessarily appeal to all.
(Typically the boats with the biggest wow factor, but this isn’t always the case. Test your own audience first.)
We also tested Ad objectives and placements. In this case, all our leads were generated from Facebook, and none from Instagram. In the future, we’ll carry out further testing with Instagram to help The New and Used Boat Co. tap into the boating community on the platform.
After: 40 qualified leads, £1.2million in sales
The campaign, which cost £650, generated 400 leads.
Of those 400, 40 were invited to attend the event.
12 boats were sold in total, and the event brought in a cool £1.2 million in sales.
Honestly, I was a little blown away. But also very proud of how much progress we’d made with Facebook in a short space of time.
It just goes to show that, with the right person working the account, Facebook Advertising can work for any business. Even one with a niche product like canal boats.
“Laura’s support with Facebook Ads opened my eyes to a whole new, less traditional route to market,” Chris said.
“The Facebook drive for our recent event was a massive success, and it absolutely broke ANY BARRIER set. I can’t recommend Laura highly enough. (But don’t hire her, we want her all to ourselves!)”
Chris acknowledged that Facebook Advertising was a new avenue for him, and so he put his trust in me to lead the way.
I ensured we had regular reviews so he had an understanding of the process and felt confident with the steps we were taking.
What made a difference here was that Chris was willing to take a risk and invest in the unknown. There are no guarantees, and I never promised Chris anything other than that I’d do my very best.
The success here was down to trust, dedication, and careful testing.
And, with all the data and knowledge we’ve gained to date, we’re excited about what’s next for The New and Used Boat Co.
Looking for a committed Facebook Advertising Expert?
Hire me! (Or at least fill out the form. We’ll have a chat about where you’re at and what you might need).
“Laura is not only dedicated but extremely talented. For the first time, I actually feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing with social media. Put simply, Laura’s great and she really knows her stuff!”
Chris Hill, Managing Director,
The New and Used Boat Co.