Written by Daniel Brophy, Social Media Specialist
Social media advertising is no longer a novel idea by any means. All of the major social platforms offer some form of paid promotions, but Facebook’s advertising features are arguably the most robust and far-reaching. They also have the largest user base and a massive display network, so there is great potential to reach a large number of people that your product/service/message will be highly relevant to, and in a manner that is far less interruptive than other, more traditional advertising channels.
Facebook’s advertising platform has grown in both form and function in recent years. However, there has been a simultaneous increase in the number of advertisers, which means the competition for ad placement and viewers' attention has become increasingly fierce. Your campaigns have to be great.
I’ve attempted to make these tips flow intuitively, and in a manner that closely reflects building out a campaign from beginning to end. Please enjoy my top tips to maximize your success with Facebook ads!
Concept & Design
1. Clearly Define Your Brand Image and Voice
While seemingly simple, this is something many small brands and businesses struggle with. How would you describe your brand’s personality? What does the tone of voice sound like? Is it more friendly or authoritative? More serious or fun? Urgent, or more relaxed? It is easy to overlook but it is very important. Before advertising on Facebook, or ideally before utilizing social media in general, carve out exactly how you wish for your brand to be perceived by the public. Once this is laid out, stick to it. Also, don’t think that this is solely a consideration for large corporate brands. Even for small businesses, a clear and consistent brand image will help guide your overall promotional strategy, and make your brand more recognizable and recallable to viewers and potential clients/customers. Above all else, be genuine.
- Brand Consistency: Why It’s So Important & How to Achieve It
- 5 Easy Steps to Define and Use Your Brand Voice
2. Identify Your Target Audience
Part of defining your brand image and voice is understanding who it is you are trying to reach. Who are the people that your product or service is most relevant to, and likewise the people most likely to become leads and actual clients/customers? What are their demographic/psychographic characteristics? What are their interests, behaviors, pain points in their lives? What sorts of things might they want or not want to hear? What communication style and messaging are most likely to get through and make an impact on them? What compels them to take action? Get as granular as possible. Schedule a team brainstorm and define the actual “person” that you are trying to reach with your ad. This is called a buyer persona exercise, and can serve as an important reminder that you are attempting to reach real people.
3. Ads for Every Stage of the Funnel
It is also critical at this point to consider where in your sales funnel a potential viewer of your ad might be. Think of the concept of “AIDA”—attention, interest, decision, action. You don’t necessarily want to serve more ‘hard sell’ ads to people that have never even heard of you, nor would you want people that are right on the verge of converting to be shown a more impersonal/general brand awareness ad. Fortunately, Facebook’s advertising platform allows for advanced insights and custom combinations of ad targeting, designed to segment people at different stages in the funnel. For the more advanced advertiser, this is where you would start considering multiple concurrent ad campaigns that include/exclude different groups of people at different stages in the buyer’s journey, each with a different objective pertinent to your practice’s underlying business and marketing goals.
4. Define Your Objective and Call to Action
Every ad campaign should be aimed at achieving a clear objective, and structured to drive a particular action. Your entire campaign should be aligned with this objective, guiding viewers along to conversion. Likewise, your “call to action” (CTA) should reflect exactly what it is you wish for a viewer to do.
When choosing your objective and CTA, consider tip #3—are you trying to drive brand awareness and grow your social community? Maybe your objective would be for someone to view a video, or ‘like’ your page. If you are trying to create more interest in your services and wish to drive more traffic to your website, a simple click might be the objective. If you are trying to get more phone calls, your CTA would be “ Call Today”. If you are trying to get someone to download an eBook, your CTA might be “Download Now”. Your CTA could even be as simple as “Learn More”. The ultimate goal here is to eliminate ambiguity in your campaign structure and messaging, and create a cogent flow that makes it as simple as possible for the viewer to get from point A to point B.
5. Keep an Eye On Your Competitors
There is a famous quote akin to, “good artists copy, great artists steal”. While I am of course not advocating for plagiarism in any way, or blatant unoriginality for that matter, the message is sound nevertheless. It will be beneficial to your practice to know what your competitors are doing on social media, and how well they are doing. Keep in mind that you are not only competing with them for actual business in your local area, but also for viewers&rsquo time and attention on social media. You can take this concept beyond your immediate competitors, and examine what other practices are posting/sharing on social, industry-wide. See what kinds of posts are performing well. What topics appear to get the most shares and engagement? By scrutinizing other practices in your industry, you will get a never-ending stream of new ideas to try out for your own. Just keep in mind that they may not necessarily work for your brand or your audience—make it your own.
- How to Conduct a Competitive Analysis on Social Media: A Quick Guide
- Ultimate Guide to Social Media Competitive Analysis
Structure & Buildout
6. Know the Right Tool for the Job
I described in tip #4 how it is crucial to have a specific objective and a clearly defined action that you wish people to take as a result of seeing your ad. In order for this action to be carried out in the most efficient and effective manner, you must familiarize yourself with the full spectrum of Facebook’s campaign types. Learn what they each were intended to do, and how they can be used to accomplish a variety of different business objectives. It is unfortunately all too easy to waste ad dollars by not using the appropriate campaign type for your intended objective/action.
7. Put the Tracking Pixel to Work
To unlock the full potential of Facebook ads, it is imperative that you are tracking site traffic and certain important actions such as contact form fills. This can all be done by using the Facebook Pixel. Learn how to use event codes on certain pages of site, and set up custom conversions within Facebook’s business features. This will also enable you to create Custom Website Audiences of people that visit your site and/or specific pages of your site that match a certain keyword. Once the data has been allowed to accrue for a while, you will have these valuable groups of people that have already viewed information on certain practice areas that you can now effectively remarket to. Facebook’s audience features also allow you to make “Lookalike” audiences of people that closely resemble your existing audience. You can also create lookalike audiences of your Facebook Page following, custom and lookalike audiences of people that have interacted with your Page, or certain videos, canvases … the list of possibilities goes on and on.
- What are custom conversions and how do I use them?
- Facebook Ad Custom Audiences: Everything You Need To Know
8. Consider a Dedicated Landing Page
When running a clicks to website or remarketing campaign, it’s often preferable to create a dedicated landing page to send your traffic to. The reason for this is simple—you want to minimize distractions from your objective, and remove any and all obstacles that would prevent users from following through on the call to action. These are also sometimes referred to as “squeeze pages”, and I am sure you have found yourself on one many times before. Creating an effective landing page is largely an exercise in human psychology. An attractive landing page that entices people to complete the call to action is the key here—not to be spammy or manipulative. If you’re targeting the right people with your ads, your landing page should hopefully resonate with them anyway, and they will willingly participate.
- How to Create Squeeze Pages: What Makes an Awesome Squeeze Page Design?
- 10 Landing Page Mistakes You’ll Never Make Again
9. Use the Most Compelling Creatives
As I mentioned at the very start of this article, the competition for a Facebook user's attention is fierce. At any given time there are countless images, videos, interactive elements and calls to action attempting to catch our eye. The images and videos you choose for your ads must be able to stand out in a busy, ever-changing social media feed. They must be high-quality/high-resolution, and they must be attention-grabbing. Not only do they need to be attractive, but they also need to be relevant to your intended audience and able to quickly convey your message and stick in a user’s mind. Be especially mindful of all of this when creating your ads; always give design the attention it deserves.
- 30 Advertisement Design Tips That Turn Heads: Brilliant Case Studies
- 16 (9 + 7) Secrets the Pros Use to Create Great Facebook Ad Designs
10. Consider Incorporating Some Sort of Special Offer
One of the absolute best possible ways to drive more interest in your practice is to make them an offer they can’t refuse. An ad campaign focused on a limited-time, exclusive deal on your products or services will almost certainly cause people to take a second glance, and hopefully take you up on the offer. A great deal on a desirable or needed product or service instantly gives you a leg up on your competition and instills a sense of value in your brand. Also, a campaign structured around a special offer can require someone to sign up and give their name, email address and/or phone number This makes them all that much more valuable as a lead, makes them less likely to be able to back out, and results in a higher-commitment but also high-value exchange for both parties.
Performance & Delivery
11. Solidify Your Data Tracking Prior to Launch of Campaign
From the outset of the campaign, you should know what performance metrics are most valuable to your practice, and more specifically what results you’d like to see across a variety of key performance indicators (KPIs). These will typically align with the objective you’ve set for the campaigns, but you can expand this to include any number of benchmarks that relate to your marketing and business goals. Creating a system for collecting and interpreting your ad data will help you to discern what makes a campaign effective or ineffective. This will also more easily allow you to attribute how your Facebook ads contribute to your overall organizational goals and bottom line.
12. Set Up Automated Rule for Your Ads
In a perfect world, we’d be able to constantly monitor our ad campaigns and make any necessary changes as frequently as possible. In the real world, however, this may not be the case. Fortunately, Facebook has a solution. There is a section in your business settings to create automated rules, which can either spark specific actions to take place or simply send a notification when a certain criterion is met. You can automate just about any aspect of your campaigns, say to increase the budget by a certain percentage if cost per click goes below a certain threshold. Or maybe you simply want to be sent a notification when your ad frequency goes above a certain number (meaning the same people are starting to see your ads multiple times). The ways in which you put this feature to use will be unique to your campaign structure and overall goals, so experiment and find out which rules will save you the most time.
13. Reduce Wasted Ad Clicks with Exclusion Marketing
Facebook's ad delivery algorithm is designed to show ads to people most connected to a business, and those most likely to engage, click and/or convert. One inherent issue with this is that the algorithm doesn't necessarily make a distinction between friends/family/employees and the general public (potential new customer base). If anything, the algorithm prioritizes showing ads to friends, family, and employees, as they are closest to a given business and are most likely to engage, comment, and share. This is great for the organic side of things, of course, as it maximizes the potential reach for any piece of content. For paid promotions, though, this may not be a good thing. If you are promoting a certain special or trying to reach new audiences, showing your ad to an employee is completely unnecessary — counterproductive even. Try to maintain a spreadsheet of email addresses of employees, close friends and family, etc, and consider excluding them from seeing your ads.
Another similar example is if a client wants to run a "new patient special". We would probably want to make sure none of their previous/existing customers are served those ads. By maintaining a spreadsheet of your existing clientele, you could easily exclude them from seeing your ads aimed at reaching new patients.
- Exclude some audiences for better ad results—Facebook
- Two Audiences to Exclude in Your Next Facebook Lead Gen Campaign
14. Become Fluent in Ad Reporting and Performance Metrics
Now that your ads are live and starting to accrue data, do you know what it is that you are even looking for? Facebook’s Ads Manager offers an absolutely incredible amount of data and insights about your campaign. The granularity is astounding. For the novice advertiser, it can be overwhelming. There is a good chance that you won’t even need most of the reporting metrics at all. Refer back to tip #11—if you know what KPIs you need to examine, sorting through your campaign results will be greatly simplified. You can streamline this process even further by setting up reporting templates in your ads manager to immediately pull up a set of metrics for different campaign types. The ad data will also help you to make key changes and optimize your ads for better performance.
- Guide: Using analysis and reporting tools to understand the performance of ads
- 14 Facebook Ad Metrics that Actually Matter (and 4 You Should Just Ignore)
Optimization & Improvement
15. Use Strategic A/B Testing
One of the best ways to ensure that your ad campaigns are achieving the best possible results is to implement some form of A/B testing, or split testing. Any variable in your design, messaging, targeting or ad delivery can theoretically be A/B tested. Maybe you want to see if one color scheme in your ads gets more clicks. Perhaps you want to see if a harder-sell message gets more conversions than more general/educational messaging. The main thing to keep in mind when conducting A/B tests is to be strategic. Test just one or two variations at a time. That way, if one performs better than the other, you’ll be able to accurately attribute what is causing the difference.
16. Always Be Optimizing
So your campaigns have been running for a while, and maybe they were initially producing great results but have since started to slow down. Even the most thoroughly researched and well thought-out campaigns will need some degree of ongoing optimization, especially after they’ve been running for a while. Once you become familiar with using all of Facebook’s advertising features and functions and you understand how to collect and interpret your ad data, you’ll be able to do this with relative ease. The “set it and forget it” approach is completely contraindicated in Facebook advertising.
17. Double Down When the Deck Is Hot
Facebook advertising is mostly about strategy, measurement, monitoring and optimizing. That being said, there is a some degree of luck involved in the process. Maybe you were feeling extra creative one morning and thought of an exceptional tagline that just so happened to become the perfect balance of message, audience, and timing, and suddenly your ads are converting better than you’ve seen recently. Do you just say, “well that’s nice” and stick to your monthly plan? Sure, maybe your business is humming along just fine and you are basically at capacity. If not, it’d be a wise move to strike while the iron is hot and up your campaign budget. If your ad campaign is producing results, it’s an almost sure bet that it will produce even more results proportionate to how much you are spending. The best advice is to start small and scale up from there.
18. Be Prepared to Handle the Influx of Activity
Facebook advertising is highly effective, it’s as simple as that. Depending on the nature and the overall objective, when you commence a new campaign you will see increased activity in some capacity or another. Whether it’s more engagement on your page and posts, a bump in traffic to your website, an influx of new direct messages, and/or more contact form fills and phone calls, you must be prepared. Are you ready to handle the additional activity? It’s not going to do your business much good if people start contacting you after seeing an ad and they receive a delayed response (or none at all). In fact, that is more likely to upset people and deter them from your business. Make sure all of the key people across your practice are aware of the launch of the campaign and are ready to take on additional responsibilities of responding to messages and inquiries, checking engagement on ads, diligently answering phone calls, etc.
19. Keep Your Ads Manager and Assets Organized
Your ad reporting data is only as useful as your ability to sort through and organize it. If you want to be able to make inferences based on data past and present, you should strive for a strong hierarchical organization of campaigns, ad sets, and ads, and likewise use a consistent naming convention. The same should go for all of your creative and functional assets, such as images and videos, and also your custom audiences. Take a look at your Ads Manager right now and ask yourself: Could an outside observer be able to quickly make sense of the campaign organization, see what ads have run and when, how much was spent, etc, or is it a bit of an indecipherable mess? Maintaining a clear and consistent organization will help you in the long run to more easily identify patterns in ad data, across different geographic locations, demographics parameters, etc. It will also help you to distinguish what works and doesn’t work in your campaigns.
20. Develop an “Ad Recycling” Schedule
Once you’ve spent a fair amount of time conceptualizing and building out a campaign and creating the messaging and ads themselves, there is no sense in letting all that hard work go to waste once the initial run of the campaign has expired. A great idea is to create so-called evergreen campaigns, which are essentially paid promotions that maintain strong relevancy over time. If you create 5 clicks-to-website ad campaigns each targeting a different key practice area, you can basically shuffle them around over time so your audience never gets tired of or annoyed by seeing the same ads over and over again in a short period of time. You’ll still have to do some ongoing optimization, of course, and be prepared to change up imagery and messaging, but developing an ad recycling schedule will help you get the most longevity from your campaigns with the least amount of work, and all without oversaturating your audience with your ads.
21. Learn How to Combat Ad Fraud
Ad fraud is very real, and there will always be people out there trying to find ways to game the system for personal gain or disrupt others out of a general taste for malevolence. We digital marketers see this across the board—Analytics spam, traffic bots, fake clicks—but fortunately there are ways to dramatically reduce the impacts of these activities on your own campaigns and advertising budget. Most of these are fairly advanced techniques, and I advise you to contact one of the friendly Internet Marketing Consultants at Page 1 Solutions to find out more! Give us a call at 800-368-9910 today.