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You’ll get expert advice on topics to help grow your business today.
Why do you need Facebook Advertising? Things are working fine in Google Ads, and you’re getting plenty of leads to nurture and bringing in a fine ROI for your digital marketing efforts. In this guide, we are going to show you why Facebook Ads are a necessity for your digital marketing arsenal and break down the basics of what you need to know in order to be successful.
So why exactly should you advertise on Facebook? Well, there’s over 2 billion people using Facebook, and Facebook’s advertising platform allows you to target granularly with some of the most in-depth data on the planet. If you haven’t heard, Facebook has a treasure trove of information that might have changed a presidential election.
The more data you have, the more you can hyper-target the right audience with the right offer at the right time. This is the core of all digital advertising, and no one (besides maybe Google) has more data to get all three of these elements aligned.
To get started on Facebook Advertising, you’ll want to set up a Facebook page with all of the relevant information about your business, including your website. This will be a hub that users can go to on Facebook to learn more about you.
Make it as easy as possible for users to learn about who you are and travel down your customer sales funnel easily if they so choose.
As with all PPC platforms, understanding your sales funnel and knowing what kinds of offers and types of content you need to use to target your audience at various levels of your marketing funnel is crucial to success.
With Facebook, you’re targeting more top-of-funnel users. You’re trying to bring awareness of your industry, and then your brand, or have them consider your brand if they are already familiar with your industry. What offers or assets capture the attention of your target audience? What are assets you currently have to engage your audience?
Via Neil Patel
Like the Google Display Network, you’re not targeting people that have searched a specific search query with a specific intent in mind (aka Google’s Search Network). Facebook users are passively scrolling through their newsfeed and connecting with their friends and family.
In order to get their attention, you need to grab it with something emotional, something funny, something educational. You need to provide value for them or else they are just going to keep on scrolling. Many advertisers try the hard sell too soon. It simply won’t work on Facebook’s audience, just like bottom-of-funnel tactics and offers don’t work well on the Google Display Network. People just aren’t ready, yet.
Try to hint at their problem with a partial solution before introducing yourself as the main solution.
When you first start a Facebook ad campaign, you’re presented with this screen – which can be a bit overwhelming. There are some options which obviously pertain to a particular type of campaign: video views, store visits, product catalog sales (Facebook’s version of Product Listing Ads/Shopping Campaigns), app installs. There are other options which aren’t so clear.
For most campaigns, you’ll either want to send people to your website or increase conversions on your website. These are the most valuable objectives if you have a website ready for user interaction.
It’s also great to be driving traffic to your website anyway, so they can start engaging with your content, and so you can start learning more about your customer. We’ll talk about Google Analytics and other analytics tools in a bit. We’ll also talk about how Facebook tries to keep users on their site and how you should resist letting Facebook do this.
Via Social Media Examiner
Before you build out any campaigns, you’ll want to first start experimenting with Facebook audience insights, which is a really great tool to narrow down your target audience based on what you know about them already – including demographic information, interests, page likes, location, household statistics (like income), and behavioral data.
There are so many ways to characterize users, and it is a good exercise in seeing how well you understand your own audience (hint: it is OK if you don’t know all the characteristics of your audience yet, you will!)
There are literally countless combinations and options to target your audience, and testing every single one will become a bedrock optimization best practice that we will get to later.
The more targeted you can be with your audience and its size, the more likely you can customize and tailor your messaging to increase your chances of engaging your user. Different audiences can react similarly to similar messaging, or there can be a difference in how they react. You won’t know until you try.
Facebook allows you to post your ads in a few places.
Types of Placements:
These are the main placements, but there are many more that we will get to later. If you’re just starting out, you can mostly ignore the right column and audience network if you want to be more conservative. Instagram is a good place for visually appealing ads and also if you’re already posting a lot of content there. There are unique aspects to advertising on Instagram that are better suited for a separate post.
The main point here is that when you’re starting out, you’ll want to start with the low-hanging fruit of Facebook advertising placements which are the News Feed – both on desktop and on mobile, which is where advertisers generally find the most success. Once you start growing your campaigns, you can experiment with other placements, but it is always a good plan to see what works first before expanding your ad spend.
This is because FB users aren’t looking for you, and they clicked on your ad spontaneously. Don’t go immediately to the hard sell. Provide something of value to them, get them interested in a conversation, topic, or idea. And ask for something small in return.
Filling out a short lead form or giving just an email address is the ideal conversion for Facebook.
A newsletter signup is another fast and easy conversion, using just an email, that helps the user get introduced to your brand without being asked to do too much.
Whether it is a specific time on site, a certain number of pages viewed per session, or a more specific action like completing a form, you’ll want to be tracking all actions you can that are valuable to your business. It is the only way to see if your ads and offers are valuable to your audience.
When a conversion happens, the audience lets you know your Facebook advertising strategy worked. This nugget of information is valuable, and the more conversions you accumulate, the more you’ll understand what makes your users convert, and you can improve on your tactics and strategies.
You can also apply rules to your campaigns based on how they are doing in relation to your conversion goals. This can help control ad spend, and be a fail-safe for any bad ad spend.
When you track conversions, you can also track how much it costs to get each action or conversion – or as Facebook calls it, ‘results’.
This is a really important metric similar to cost per acquisition, and if you have a hard cap on how much you want to spend per action (hint: you should!) then this useful tool helps you stay within that capped range and also gives you peace of mind running a campaign, knowing it won’t go over your budget while still trying to maximize actions/conversions.
How are conversions tracked? While you still want to install a web analytics tracking system like Google Analytics for your website, the Facebook Pixel is crucial for Facebook advertising success.
Without Facebook Pixel, you will be hard pressed to create custom audiences and lookalike audiences – which are the secret weapons of Facebook ads optimization.
You’ll want to use the Facebook Pixel to get even more granular about characterizing your users and segmenting them after they come to your website.
The Facebook Pixel is a Facebook cookie, code, snippet, whatever you want to call it, that when added to your site, allows Facebook to understand the users of your website – just like Google Analytics does. However, this code sends all of the relevant data back to Facebook, so that they can apply it to their database and algorithms to help you find similar users. This is where the really awesome targeting can work and is the main engine at work behind lookalike audiences.
For example, say there is a page on your site that indicates a high-quality user. This page is your money-maker. This can be a thank you page from one of your conversions. You can use everyone that has performed this conversion to help Facebook create a list of people that are similar to this particular group of converted users! Imagine if you could hone in on your type, and then find users just like your type. That is the power of Facebook’s Pixel.
First, you create a custom audience of these converted users by telling Facebook to bucket anyone who has arrived to your thank you page by giving Facebook the URL.
There is literally no end to the types of custom audiences that are available to you. This is just a sampling.
A well-known intermediate tactic is to upload emails of users who have volunteered this information into a customer file. From there, you can remarket this audience with customer retention offers.
Remarketing on Facebook
Just like with Google Ads, the Facebook Pixel allows you to bucket audiences that have already engaged with your website without converting. Don’t forget to exclude converters from your website. There’s nothing more annoying than seeing ads for a brand from which you’ve already purchased.
Now you have lists of warmed up users who are ready for the next step in your sales funnel. If you have an understanding of the offers and assets that work for each part of your sales funnel, as we discussed at the beginning, you will be able to target with the appropriate messaging and offer almost immediately after setting up this audience.
It is all about moving users down the sales funnel conversion after conversion, action after action, until they reach the bottom of your funnel ready to make the final conversion.
Now that you have an idea of how certain audiences work, and what offers and assets work for certain audiences, you can prospect new users and guide them down your sales funnel more efficiently.
The next step in this process is to create a lookalike audience. This audience is exactly as it sounds. These new users will look like those audiences that performed the aforementioned conversions.
Take your pick of your best performing converted audiences, whether they be from your big conversion (i.e. the sale that brings in the core of your revenue) or a more top-of-funnel conversion (i.e. signups that just require an email). Next, create a lookalike audience of this converted audience on Facebook.
With its treasure trove of data, Facebook knows how to find people that are similar to the group of users who converted with their algorithms and machine learning that recognize patterns in data that you and I could never analyze, or even accumulate.
Via Ad Espresso
You can really start scaling up your digital advertising process once you get to this step of building out new prospecting campaigns based on major touchpoints in your digital marketing funnel.
Once you know how certain offers, assets, or pages perform as touchpoints – and if you have enough users that have performed these high-value actions – you can actually use Facebook’s algorithm and data to prospect new users who profile similarly to those who have already converted on your website! Again, Facebook can find your ‘type’ and replicate new users that look exactly like them!
You’ll want to start as specific as possible (1 is the most specific, matching up best with your custom audience, 10 is the least specific and most broad) and build your campaigns out until your CPA/ROI no longer meets your business requirements. Ad Espresso did a 14-day experiment and validated Facebook’s 1-10 scale of their lookalike audiences.
Images are the biggest part of the ad, so it makes sense to spend some time optimizing which images work best. Just try lots of different images related to your product or service and see which works!
Can you see how meticulous and drawn out this can get? So far we’ve uncovered an endless supply of audiences to test, and matching lookalike audiences with up to ten variations to test!
The possibilities can be dizzying. There is no secret sauce to PPC, other than to know all the different levers that exist, and diligently discovering which combinations work the best. If you don’t have the time or human capital to do this, outsourcing your Facebook advertising execution could be an option.
Video advertising, like mobile, is surging. People love videos full stop.
If you are lucky enough to already have a video asset that’s been proven valuable to your users, you can run them through advertisements on Facebook.
The really cool thing about Facebook video advertising is they allow you to figure out the percentage of video your users watched, segment that audience, and retarget to those users based on how much of the video they watched.
If you don’t have data on the interest level of your users based on the percentage of the video they’ve watched, you will get the data using Facebook advertising!
Via Ad Espresso
Ad Copy Best Practices
Despite the 25 character headline limit and the 90 character body text limit, we can still use the same ad copy best practices prevalent across all advertising platforms.
Hit them with an attention-grabbing headline. You only have 25 characters to do it, so choose wisely! The headline is right up there in importance with the image, and an aspect of ad copy that you’ll want to test with multiple variations.
What is the benefit you’re providing? Are you trying to be provide them valuable information? Why is this information beneficial? If you’re not funny or informative, just forget about it.
Time is running out – make sure your users understand that. You need to create urgency for your call-to-action, which is how you should end every ad. Is it a limited discount, a free trial, or limited time offer? Either way, you need to get through to the user that they should click now or else! Your chance to engage them is slipping, too, so make these ads – like you – urgently care about conversions!
This is pretty basic, but as important as it is mundane. You are trying to get the user to perform a certain action that brings you value. You’re paying for this click, so you have to get some return.
If you’ve done your work up to this point, you’ve let them know why they need to perform a certain action and why they need to do it right now. Now you need to be super clear about what that action is. The CTA is crucial on Facebook ads, just like it is on any other ad platform. Make your CTA clear and follow through on the landing page. The best ads have a clear CTA. Here are some examples:
Write lots of ad copy and continually test new ads against your current winners to create incrementally better ads. This is the foundation of PPC.
Here’s an example for an EHR software system:
“Automate the Medical Billing Process
Save your practitioners time, make the process easier on patients, decrease errors, and save yourself money.
Get a Free 7-Day Trial! Don’t miss this limited time offer!”
Use images of emotional people and appeal to users’ emotions in general. Empathy is the secret here. Use it. Get inside your user’s mind and think like your user. Make it easy for them to convert – what do they want?
Use exclamation points and exciting words like ‘awesome’ and ‘exciting’ to pump up your crowd/audience. If you can’t get excited for your product or service, no one will.
Recommended image size: 1,200 x 628 pixels
Ad copy text: 90 characters
Headline: 25 characters
Link Description: 30 characters
If you have multiple products or offerings, like an e-commerce company might, carousel ads could be right for you.
This ad format lets you add up to ten images, or even videos, to show your audience ten separate ad copy versions for a single ad unit. If you don’t know which products or services an audience will be interested in, this is a good option to test a bunch at once to see which works best.
Dynamic product ads are product remarketing for ecommerce companies, similar to Google’s Dynamic Remarketing – except for Facebook.
Canvas ads are on mobile newsfeed only and represent an innovative way to get your audience to interact with your ad. They load fast and the images can be adjusted at different angles or zoomed in on by the user. Canvas ads build on the capabilities of the carousel ads with added engagement opportunities.
These ads take all of the complication out of of generating a lead generation page, but also don’t allow the user to visit your site and know your brand.
You prefer users to come to your site because that helps you out! Why would you allow Facebook to keep your users away from your site? Take a hard pass on these unless you really don’t have an ability to create a decent landing page on your own website.
Increasing your page likes is a type of post engagement ad. It builds awareness, and is a good way to build social proof in your ads before you deploy them to act as more bottom-of-funnel engagement. Page likes are like built-in testimonials for your ads, so it is important to increase this metric in the beginning. Some advertisers build up their page and ad likes first before actually tackling optimizing for clicks.
Here are other ad types useful for specific situations:
Single image ads are the most common and easiest to start out with. You can spend your first
year of Facebook advertising just focusing on just these types of ads, so take your time and use different ad formats as they apply. Don’t forget to segment your ad sets or campaigns appropriately! Did I mention you’ll have lots of segments to deal with?
Campaigns are focused on a particular marketing objective
Ad Sets are focused on budgeting, audiences, scheduling, ad delivery, and bidding.
Ads are pretty self explanatory, and are all the different ads in your ad set.
Apply PPC best practices to your campaigns. You won’t find a lack of metrics within the Facebook advertising platform. In fact, you’ll find it hard to focus on the metrics that matter.
Use custom columns to help you focus on the metrics that matter to the performance of your campaigns.
Via Ad Espresso
Do not get sucked into vanity stats or irrelevant metrics. There are lots of bad metrics. Conversions are the most useful, as well as clicks – but if the metric isn’t contributing to your overall ROI, you need to question its value.
You can get lost in all the different ways you can slice and dice the data.
Outsource your Facebook management with an awesome agency and have peace of mind knowing you’re paying good money to make the most money on your Facebook ads.
Just like Google needs a certain number of conversion before they can apply a smart campaign setting, Facebook needs time for their algorithm to catch up to which users are most likely to convert.
When you first start your campaigns, optimize for clicks on your ad. As your users engage with your website more, and you’re able to accumulate more and more statistically significant data on user actions (conversions), you’ll be able to turn over more control to Facebook – which will have sufficient data to optimize for the conversions for you.
Ad fatigue is a real thing, and audiences can go stale. I’ve preached testing new audiences, but you can also continue running campaigns as long as the ads stay fresh and you aren’t bombarding your audience with too many ads.
Frequency capping is a standard practice for Display Ad campaigns and apply to Facebook ad optimizations as well. When advertisers complain about how their Facebook campaigns start to tail off in performance, ad fatigue can definitely be a factor.
While Facebook’s relevance score can help you pay less for ads just like Google, don’t get too tied up in optimizing for this indirect variable.
Facebook advertising is all about showing the right ads at the right time to the right audience. Just because your ads aren’t getting a good relevance score does not mean they are bad ads. You could just be applying them to the wrong audience. That is why it is important continually test what works.
We’ve already mentioned using Cost Per Result to apply quality control and to control ad spend. There are a variety of automated rules you can apply to your Facebook ad campaigns to make your job easier and to provide you with safety valves to avoid high-spend disasters.
Just like segmenting out best performing products in Google Shopping or isolating exact keywords that bring in the most conversions, allocate more of your budget to the best converting campaigns – the ones bringing you money – and cut down on the poor performing campaigns
Similarly pause or lower bids on non-performing ads or campaigns. 10,000 impressions is usually a good figure to understand how a campaign or ad is doing.
This is like expanding out to modified broad match keywords once you know what works with exact and phrase match keywords on the Google Search Network. As long as you’re making money, keep expanding!
There’s more placement segments than ever before. Test what makes sense and discover the nuances that make each placement work for you.
Google Analytics knows which traffic is coming from Facebook and can help you determine how Facebook is affecting your overall digital marketing performance through Multi-Channel Funnel Reports.
While search attribution is a continually evolving field with many confounding variables, it is getting easier to see how impressions of ads can affect user behavior.
You now have to describe the user data you upload into custom audiences:
This is Facebook reacting to the privacy data issues mentioned at the beginning of the article. Facebook is serious about rehabilitating its image with the public, if you haven’t been able to tell with its recent mainstream television commercial push.
A Final Word On Facebook Advertising
Facebook Advertising is a constantly evolving ecosystem that is fertile for growing your audience and driving them into your customer sales funnel. Keep up with the changes, adapt, apply tried and true PPC strategies, and never stop testing.