Facebook Ads Case Study: How the Detailing Mafia got a 1600% Return on their Ad Spend over 3 months

by Balaji Venkatesan

When we start using Facebook Advertising, we want to generate the maximum return possible on our investment. 

But it’s seldom an easy process. There are a lot of elements that go into creating a high performing Facebook Ad. This coupled with Facebook’s algorithm, the budget involved, the client’s expectations and other metrics. You’re left with an Ad that’s 80% in your control and 20% up to chance. 

With The Detailing Mafia, we worked on Social Media Advertising for 3 months and generated a ₹8,48,500 return on an ad spend of ₹51,906. 

Let us take you through how we did it but before that, 

A little about the client 

The client owns a franchise of the brand The Detailing Mafia. The franchise is Chennai’s highest rated car detailing studio. 

To give you a brief about car detailing – 

Professional car detailing is the art and the craft of cleaning and restoring a vehicle to like-new condition. Car detailing services are much more precise and labor-intensive than getting a car wash. A car wash is normally an automated system that a car passes through to clean the exterior. Professional auto detailing is always done by hand, and includes exterior and interior car detailing services. 

Some of the services offered by The Detailing Mafia are: 

  • Interior and exterior car cleaning 
  • Paint correction 
  • Paint Protection Film (PPF)
  • Ceramic Coating

When we asked the client what they wanted to focus on in terms of goals, they mentioned wanting to: 

  • Penetrate a market saturated with competitors. 
  • Establish brand awareness.
  • Improve followership on Instagram. 
  • Find new customers via social mediums. 
  • Create a self-sustainable ad campaign to help generate constant revenue. 

In order to support the client in meeting their goals, we needed to understand the challenges they are facing first. 

Business challenges

Car Detailing is a highly localised business

Most of their clientele are people from nearby localities, offices and businesses. There’s a reason for that. People don’t prefer to drive to far places to get their car washed and cleaned. A majority of them usually drop their car to the detailing business which is either en route to their work or just near home. Anybody looking for car detailing services would generally type ‘Car detailing near me’.

What it means for the business is that the number of car owners in their area is the greatest factor in determining their revenue.

Increasing revenue is like boiling the ocean

There are a certain number of cars in the franchise’s area. Thus their revenue is going to remain more or less the same throughout the year. Having a highly localised business means less scope for getting new customers.

Car detailing is also dependent on various cyclical factors. There’s little to no traffic on workdays. Most of the revenue generated is on weekends. Moreover, customers don’t prefer to get their car washed and detailed before bad weather. 

You can reasonably predict when the franchise will have busy days and when they will have relatively ‘dry-days’.

Car Detailing is one of the most competitive industry

A car detailing business is fairly easy to open. 

The barriers to entry and overhead costs are low, which means a lot of people enter into this business. 

There aren’t even a lot of technical skills that you need to learn. If you know how to operate an air compressor, hand grinder for drying/polishing and other basic hardware tools, you are ready to open a car detailing service.

No time for business promotion

A car detailing business operates on three fronts simultaneously. 

First they operate as a retail unit, catering to the individual needs of consumers. 

Second, they operate as a service unit, since what they offer is basically a service through a team of interdependent employees. 

Third, as a manufacturing unit, because car detailing is a step-by-step process and it sometimes involves use of heavy machinery. 

Altogether, this means little to zero time for business owners to promote their business or strategize growth.

Marketing challenges

Untargeted lead generation

It’s not surprising to see a corporate national marketing plan include marketing around the central brand, but nothing that connects the brand to local communities or supports the local franchise’s efforts already in place. This can make or break a business both in large urban areas with strong media presence and smaller rural towns with more decentralised advertising.

Not creating unique, localised content

For franchise marketing, creating engaging content that has local relevance is an incredibly important ingredient for success. Unfortunately, many franchise businesses only create generic web content – or worse, they duplicate the same content on different websites. This may not seem like a challenge, but in order to maximize on SEO and other algorithms to reach the ideal clients, it’s important to not have too much duplicated context. Additionally, customers are less likely to regularly engage with your website if it only contains generic information.

Lack of individual sites

Related to lack of involvement in the local community, many franchise businesses make the mistake of not having individual websites and / or individual social media accounts for each franchise location. They rely on one overarching website and social media account for the whole brand.

Improper tools and insufficient data

Too many franchise marketing mistakes happen because of insufficient data and marketing tools that aren’t up for the multiple challenges of franchise marketing. Insufficient data leads to costly marketing mistakes and means that franchisers are spending their marketing budget on tools that are ineffective.

Incoherent or conflicting strategies

Though giving franchisees some freedom is important, it’s also important to make sure that there is consistency in overall marketing strategies. Too often, many franchises err on the side of too much individual freedom and lose brand cohesion and find that their individual marketing poaches the marketing of other franchise locations.

We mapped the challenges to the goals set by the client and found ways to solve them. And boy, were the results rewarding! 

Resultant effect

A 125% increase in the Instagram followers 

665 Leads generated from Facebook/Instagram Ads

And for the star of the show, we managed to generate a

1600% Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) 

Return on Ad Spend is essentially return on investment in the ad space. It’s a marketing metric used to measure the returns from an advertising campaign. 

ROAS = Revenue generated from the campaign/Cost of the campaign x 100 

In The Detailing Mafia’s case, their total ad spend was ₹51,908 and the total revenue generated from these ads was ₹8,48,500

Breaking the conversions down based on the services – 

5 x Roof lining restoration gigs 

33 x Deep cleaning services

5 x Paint Protection Film application (PPF)

How did we do it? 

We built buyer personas

A buyer persona is the closest representation of your ideal customer. 

It encapsulates everything about your potential customer. Details like age, sex, occupation and demography are built into the kind of customer who will purchase your product/service. You could also say that it’s a subset of your target audience. 

Why is building a buyer persona important? 

A lot of digital marketing is based on consumer behaviour. Well, at least the successful side of it. In order to increase sales, you should know whom you’re selling to. The more you know, the more you can solidify your marketing efforts. 

Once you know your target audience, you can build a content strategy that will speak to them across all platforms. This increases your chances at conversion and ultimately helps increase revenue. 

Creating buyer personas helps you with just that. 

The idea is to create 3-5 personas for your brand and keep updating and refining the template as and when you gather more information. This helps improve your marketing strategy. 

You can clearly segment the various parts of your target audience and create tailor made experiences for each of these segments. A buyer persona also should answer the question of where your target audience can be found. This way, you can streamline your marketing efforts towards the same. 

We did A/B testing

A/B testing lets you change variables, such as your ad creative, audience, or placement to determine which strategy performs best and improves future campaigns. 

For example, you might hypothesise that a custom audience strategy will outperform an interest-based audience strategy for your business. An A/B test lets you quickly compare both strategies to see which one performs best.

The variables we A/B tested for The Detailing Mafia were: 

  • Target audience segments 
  • Ad placements 
  • Ad creative 
  • Ad copy
  • Delivery optimization 
  • Service Offered (Different types of services like ceramic coating, PPF application, and roof lining restoration.)

We leveraged User Generated Content (UGC)

There is content made by you for your brand. 

And there is content made by your customers for your brand. 

The former is Brand Generated Content (BGC) and the latter is User Generated Content (UGC).

User Generated Content is any form of content created by customers on behalf of your brand. Popular examples of UGC include unboxing videos, testimonials, tutorials, etc. 

These are content pieces created by people that aren’t associated with your brand in any way (employees, affiliates, etc) 

Why would a brand choose to go with UGC over their own content or content created by an affiliate? 

  1. Authenticity – When a real life customer uploads a post with your brand’s product, it speaks volumes of authenticity for your brand. As opposed to a model with a high production value. 

Audiences tend to engage more with UGC on a brand’s page as they find it more authentic. 

  1. Trust – A customer’s recommendation or experience with your brand, increases the audience’s level of trust in your brand. For instance, if you own a restaurant, sharing happy customer pictures/testimonials/favourite moments etc is sure to increase the footfall at your restaurant. 
  1. Conversions – The increased authenticity, the increased trust, all lead up to transitioning a social media follower into a paying customer. UGC helps your brand’s strategy in a unique way. It’s a form of peer to peer word of mouth. And even though it’s between strangers, it proves to be effective and translates into increased conversions. 

We repurposed Google Reviews to create social media posts for the brand. This boosted the credibility at 0 cost. 

Why did we choose to use testimonials? 

  • It increases brand trust 
  • It promotes loyalty among clients 
  • It’s authentic – from one customer to another 
  • It increases accountability – it opens you up to both positive and negative feedback. 
  • It weighs into the decision making for the viewer 
  • Positive reviews translate to more leads 
  • It helps the brand connect with the client beyond the transaction. 

We used Facebook Lookalike Audience

Facebook allows you to create audiences from scratch and use the lookalike audience feature. 

Lookalike audience is a brand new set of audience that resembles characteristics of your existing audience. Based on the variable chosen, Facebook creates a lookalike audience. 

Variables can be your existing custom audience or people who like and follow your page. 

Why choose a lookalike audience over any other audience formats? 

Well, this gives you an edge because you are basing a lookalike audience off of a previously proven audience set. 

It broadens the horizon without targeting the same people in the existing custom audience sets. 

Facebook ad fatigue

Ad Fatigue is the increased frequency of an Ad in front of the same audience. If the frequency is greater than 2.5 times, the law of diminishing margins will come into effect. 

Your audience will get tired of seeing the same Ad and this creates Fatigue to your brand in general too. 

How did we tackle it? 

  1. Changing the ad creative copy – Through the lifetime of the Ad, we changed the creative copy. This way, every time the ad resurfaced on a user’s feed, it would say something different. Rather, it would convey the same message differently. 
  2. Adjusting the Ad set targeting – Going into each ad set of the campaign, we tweaked the targeting slightly. This way, the same Ad was placed in front of different audiences. 

Aside from the fun we had working on creating real time solutions for The Detailing Mafia’s challenges, we learnt a lot in the process too. 

Our key learnings 

Test it once and test it again 

You don’t want to miss out on getting great results because you didn’t test new ad copy or creative. Facebook is a robust platform with powerful machine learning capabilities that we can utilise in getting the best results for our clients. Some of the best ways to test your ads on Facebook Ads are:

  • Use the A/B testing feature
  • Create controlled tests where you observe changes in one variable at a time (ad copy, creative, scheduling, etc.)
  • Use Campaign Budget Optimization (CBO)
  • See which ad sets in a campaign are most successful and allocate the budget accordingly.
  • Add different text options in the Ad Creation menu.

These features allow Facebook to do the heavy lifting for us and determine which elements of ad copy, creative, etc, and combinations of each, are most likely to generate results.

Keep it simple, silly

As marketers, we sometimes give in to the belief that a Facebook Ad account structure has to be super detailed and granular in order to meet all our needs. We will create a campaign for every new product/service we promote, or a new ad set for every segment of the target audience. This kind of excessive account structuring limits the scalability of our ads account.

In reality, it is almost always better to keep your account structure as simple as possible in order to give Facebook a chance to get up and stretch its legs when looking for your ideal target audience:

  • Create a single campaign for each marketing objective you wish to achieve. I.e. one Web Conversions campaign for all your web conversions, such as purchases. 
  • Create ad sets only if it is essential for your business. DO NOT create a new ad set for every segment of your target audience (Consolidate ad sets instead).
  • Use Audience Exclusions to make Ad sets mutually exclusive from each other to avoid as much overlap as possible. 
  • Start small. Start with 2-3 ads per set. Don’t create too many ads in each ad set if your budget doesn’t support it.

Next steps

To put it not-so-subtly, partner with us and watch your social media advertising game level up. 

And for the subtle version – 

Advertising on social media is one of the quickest ways to promote brand awareness and increase sales. You need to execute streamlined social media ad campaigns that connect you with your target audience faster and drive up conversions.

A 125% increase in Instagram followers, 665 leads generated on Facebook Ads, 1600% return on ad spend. All of this, within a duration of 3 months. We (and our client) are overjoyed that we were able to achieve that and now you know just how. 

We can’t wait to work on more such projects and help our clients boost sales with powerful digital marketing strategies. 

Stay tuned for more such case studies. 


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