Case Study – UK Cycling Events

title image of a bike for case study

Who’s the Facebook ads client?

UK Cycling Events is an events company organising cycling sportives across the UK. Aimed at all levels of cyclist – from absolute beginners, to avid long distance riders – the events offer three different routes and encourage participants to just ‘get out and ride’.

What challenge was the brand facing?

How to achieve a better return on ad spend (ROAS) with their Facebook ads campaigns.

UKCE had previously entrusted their Facebook ads management to an agency – but success had been limited with an average ROAS of only 1.5 over two years.

The client was already experiencing good traction with its organic social media and knew that it could achieve better results with its ads campaigns.

The campaign – with early booking incentives – was to kick off on Boxing Day, a key sales period for UKCE.

So what did you do first?

I took a thorough deep-dive through the ad account, pixel data and previous results, and then decided a complete restart was needed.

The previous agency had only ever run traffic campaigns optimised for link clicks – one clear reason why sales had never really taken off.

The same interest-based audience had also been used for every single campaign in the past year, alongside a lot of very similar content and copy. No custom audiences had been utilised and tested, nor were there any retargeting campaigns.

Learning point

Testing plays a huge role in the continuing success of Facebook ads. Testing copy, creative and audiences is the key to finding out what works.. and what doesn’t!

In addition, you need to tell Facebook what your objective is. As an event business, UKCE wanted to achieve ticket sales – not just traffic to its website.

By not doing any testing, as well as using the wrong objective, the previous agency had not been spending UKCE’s budget effectively, and thus this limited their results through the platform.

How did you structure the initial campaigns?

Initial campaigns went out to cold audiences, 45 days before each event. Budget was allocated to each event, in line with the number of ticket sales needed. Retargeting those who had visited the sales page, but not bought, was a key strategy.

In addition: 

  • Approximately 50 new cold audiences and 50 new warm audiences were built from interests, lookalikes and pixel data
  • I tested different images, creative and copy to find winning combinations, and built out single image, carousels, video and instant experience ads,
  • I also tested running Page Post Engagement campaigns alongside conversion campaigns.

Average ROAS of 17

£30k of sales within first 18 days


Sales up 5% across the business

What kind of results did you achieve?

Within just a few days of the campaign launching, I was obtaining a ROAS of over 25 on one of the warm audiences. As the campaign progressed I switched in new creative and adsets, all the while watching the costs and the frequency.

The jewel in the crown for this client was the retargeting. This was not something that the previous agency had ever done. This particular retargeting campaign achieved a ROAS of 26 and mopped up more than £10,000 of extra revenue for the client.

Key stats:

  • Average ROAS of 17
  • £30k of sales within first 18 days
  • Extra £10,000 from retargeting campaigns
  • Sales up 5% across the business

“As an event business, tickets sales are integral to our bottom line. We were previously using an agency, but were looking to get fresh eyes on the account and someone who would take a strategic approach in reading the resulting data. Mel mapped out our budget for us for each event and in the first campaign she created, we saw sales top £30k in 18 days and some adsets were seeing ROAS of 25 – a huge uplift on previous FB campaigns. Retargeting was key to this strategy (something the previous agency had not done) and we were thrilled with the results.”

Natalie Beales

(former) Head, UKCE

Please note: this campaign was pre-pandemic and pre-iOS14. UKCE is also now under new ownership.

To find out more about my full-management Facebook ads services, click here.

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