Facebook Ads are easy to get into; one tap of that juicy blue “boost post” button and off you go! But getting the most out of them? That’s a lot harder than you think.
Ads Manager is constantly changing and evolving.
The strategies and tactics that worked only a few months ago may be redundant now and features that were available last year may not even exist any more.
To help you navigate your path to success in the ever-changing Facebook advertising landscape, I’ve put together eight great Facebook advertising tips.
I’ve also outlined some handy strategies and collected a few gems from respected Facebook advertisers around the world that you can use to inspire your own Facebook advertising efforts.
But before we dig into that, let’s zoom in on an important question for a second:
Even though multiple companies pulled their ads from Facebook, we cannot argue that Facebook still remains ‘THE’ social media platform – especially when you factor in its ownership of Instagram and the ease with which you can advertise on both from Ads Manager.
Clearly, Facebook advertising is an essential marketing channel for businesses globally. But how do marketers leverage it in the right way?
We’re not going to answer this question in regards to basic post-boosting, which remains a simple process.
Instead, we’re going to take a closer look at a higher level, where the myriad of different setup, bidding, optimization, and placement options often makes Facebook advertising tricky to navigate.
Ready to learn how to give your Facebook ads the best chance of success? Here are my top eight Facebook advertising tips:
In 2019, Facebook made an unexpected announcement that Campaign Budget Optimization (aka CBO) would become mandatory for all accounts. This means marketers need to grasp it ASAP.
CBO was a major, much-heralded update Facebook made to campaign setup options in late 2017 and which it rolled out worldwide in 2018. At first, the feature was fairly unimpressive in terms of results for those who tested it, and many advertisers became skeptical about the apparent lack of control they would have over their ads.
Then, suddenly, marketers (including myself) began having real success with CBO, and for many businesses the feature is now a staple in terms of their Facebook advertising strategies.
Basically, the place where you set your budget shifts from adset to campaign level. The theory goes that Facebook will allocate most of that budget to the top-performing ad sets, like this:
In a standard setup, the vast majority of optimization and learning is at adset level; whereas in a CBO far more is at the overall campaign level.
Well, I think of my ad sets as a pack of wolves, off hunting for purchases in the Facebook ads wilderness.
In a normal setup, they go off fairly independently, learning as they find potential prey along the way and maybe bumping into each other occasionally.
However, they don’t really communicate much and they all roam for a set number of miles each day regardless of whether or not they find any food (i.e. spending all the daily budget regardless of conversions, as per the graphic).
Now, in CBO, the pack has a leader who sends them all off in strategic directions and then stands at the top of a mountain watching them hunt and observing where the most food is.
He can then call some wolves back or redirect them to try and get the best outcome for the pack as a whole, and they don’t all have to roam the same number of miles each day. There are several major pluses to CBO from the standard campaign setup:
Now, this might all make CBO sound like it’s a magic solution. However, as with everything related to Facebook ads, in practice CBO is something you need to test, carefully monitor, and optimize to get the best results from it.
PRO TIP: Depesh Mandalia, one of the UK’s top Facebook advertisers and Founder of SMC Commerce, on how he utilizes CBO: “What I’ve seen work is a minimum ratio of $100 per ad set, no more than 2-3 ads and using 1-day click attribution in most cases. This, together with rules to pause bad ads during the day, has given us the most stable performance and fastest ability to scale since CBO campaigns don’t suffer from the learning phase resets that ad set level budget spikes have.”
Not long ago, marketers would have raved about how you could laser-target niche audiences on a micro-level. For local businesses, this may still be the way to go.
For businesses with wider audiences, however, there are two main issues with this approach: higher CPMs and ad costs due to the smaller potential reach, and also the lack of scale.
If you start getting purchases from an audience of only 50,000 people, that’s great at first. But when that audience has burned out, after a week or two you are back to square one.
The other issue with micro-targeting is that Facebook updates and advances over 2018 made it unnecessary to narrow down your audience.
Facebook’s machine learning algorithm is now so smart that, believe it or not, larger audiences with absolutely zero targeting other than a geolocation and age group will often outperform interests and lookalike audiences given time, sufficient budget, and creative/products with a broad appeal.
One highly effective form of retargeting (even for businesses without a website or with low traffic) is utilizing one of the available video view options.
These are numerous, from people who have viewed 10 seconds of your video to varying video view percentages ranging from 25% to 95%.
The power of this Facebook advertising strategy is that you are using one of the cheaper, non-conversion objectives and letting your audience effectively segment themselves by how much of your video they watch.
According to Digital Information World, the average attention span of human beings has fallen from 12 seconds in 2000 to under eight seconds – even worse than that of a goldfish (nine seconds).
This means that even if your video is only 15 seconds long, for someone to watch more than half of it is a fairly major achievement and a decent signal of a more-than-passing interest. Obviously, users watching 95% of your video is an even stronger indicator of interest.
If your video is longer than 15 seconds, 50% or 75% view audiences are your best bets for an optimal combination of audience size and interest level.
Sending your video out to a fairly broad audience, letting them decide how interesting it is, and then retargeting based on user behavior can, therefore, be a winning, cost-effective tactic. This especially rings true if you are on a tight budget.
PRO TIP: Create lookalike audiences of 75% or 95% video viewers to use in other ad sets. Plus, create a lookalike of people who only viewed three seconds or less that you can test as an exclusion audience to remove users less likely to be interested in your product.
With attention spans on social dwindling on a yearly basis and users exposed to more and more ads, here are four things that are vital:
What is Smartargeting? Intent and funnel-based retargeting that doesn’t make the classic mistake of treating everyone the same.
Think about it; who has higher intent, someone who only viewed your homepage a couple of weeks ago or someone who added a product to their cart yesterday?
So, don’t treat these two users the same by showing them the same ads. Engagers/middle of funnel/warm audiences usually need more of a nudge before purchasing – and this is where showing them valuable, non-salesy content or testimonials works great.
On the other hand, someone who added to cart usually just needs a reminder of this fact to get them to buy.
We’ve all added stuff to cart and had the phone ring or something external come up that prevented us from completing our purchase. That’s why a simple ‘Forgetting something?’ message can do the trick.
If users still aren’t convinced, throw them a one-off discount – it might be the final push they need to get that sale over the line.
Whatever the messaging that you are employing in retargeting is, be smart about it. Consider the intent level of the audience at each stage and don’t discount unnecessarily.
As with almost everything in Facebook Ads, test different things and see what works. And always go with the data, not your own bias!
PRO TIP 1: Unboxing videos, as well as testimonials, and other user-generated content is perfect for retargeting those who haven’t quite made their minds up. This is where paid media and influencer marketing meet to create a potent mix of entertainment, social proof, authority, and FOMO that should be irresistible for anyone genuinely interested in your product.
PRO TIP 2: You can create custom audiences from Shopping data, so you can create an audience from people who viewed or purchased some of your product.
Next on our list of top Facebook advertising tips is leveraging manual bidding.
Facebook’s machine learning is pretty smart, meaning that lowest cost bidding, which used to be called auto bidding, is often the best option for advertisers to use.
Its close friend manual bid, with options including ‘bid cap’, ‘target cost’, and ‘cost cap’, can have a huge impact in certain conditions and give you greater control over costs.
This is because – and not a lot of non-Facebook advertisers realize this – every time your ads are eligible to be shown to a user they actually enter an auction process. If you want more detail on how the Facebook ads auction works, I wrote this article in 2018, which breaks the process down nicely.
However, for the purposes of this article, the main thing you need to understand is this: Your bid forms an important part of Facebook’s auction calculations, which determine whether your ad is shown in the first place and also to what quality of user.
Facebook suggests a bid for you when you select this option but a better, more scientific, way to do this is using your goal cost per acquisition/purchase and either setting bids at multiples of this (so if your CPA is $10 then $10, $20, $30, etc.) or in clusters around it (e.g. $8, $10, $12, $14, etc.).
PRO TIP: From Justin Marshall of Ad Hoc Media: “Start with a manual bid cap so low that it’s not spending your daily budget. If the ROAS (return on ad spend) is good, then duplicate the ad set and up the budget by 25 or 50 cents. Continue doing this until you find a bid cap that gets a good ROAS but also spends enough money to make an impact.”
Forget fancy bidding options, CBO, and optimization strategies; the single biggest impact you can make on any ad set is adding in creative assets.
Facebook used the example of a high-fashion sock purveyor Stance to show that creating great creatives can improve your ads’ performance and be cost-effective at the same time.
Stance simply took some existing, high quality, eye-catching product images and turned them into a slideshow that helped the company achieve a 2.4x higher CTR, 1.4x higher ROI, and 48% lower CPA.
How good is this example here from online retailer ASOS?
The image on its own is nothing spectacular, but paired with such clever copy it makes a powerful ad. You can tell by the comment a friend of mine made above it when they sent it to me!
Great creative content can overcome bad targeting, which is another reason why broad targeting works better these days. After all, no amount of clever targeting will get people to a) stop scrolling and b) click on ads with poor creative that isn’t engaging.
Facebook also gives you the option at ad level to use different creative assets for different placements. I strongly urge you to make use of this feature where it makes sense. Particularly on placements like Stories, a bit of extra effort to add compelling creatives can pay off big time.
Again, this is something to test, but as a rule, dedicated Stories images in 1080×1920 format outperform standard-sized images that are more obvious as ads – particularly with the somewhat ugly ad copy that appears underneath, as in the image on the left.
The image on the right is properly formatted for Stories. There’s also native text and graphics, all of which helped this ad blend in and appear more natural. As a result, it generated 12x the number of clicks compared to the first ad.
PRO TIP: Take full advantage of the ability to now use 1080×1080 images as link posts for Facebook and Instagram feed ads. These take over a huge amount of real estate on mobile and in nearly all the testing I’ve done outperform the old 1200×628 images.
Lookalike audiences have been tipped everywhere in recent years as the secret weapon of Facebook ads and used to be a go-to for any advertiser.
However, since around the time Facebook stopped directly allowing use of third-party data due to privacy concerns and the onset of GDPR, advertisers all over the world have noted a dip in the performance of lookalike audiences.
Interests and even broad audiences, as mentioned above, will often outperform lookalikes. Even 1% lookalikes are not as effective as they used to be.
For these reasons, advertisers in 2019 need to exercise caution with lookalikes and not expect any immediate magic. Instead, businesses should test lookalike audiences at different levels (all the way up to 8% and even 10% lookalikes). They should also play around with stacking lookalikes on top of each other to find winning ad sets.
PRO TIP: I asked Andrew Foxwell, who co-runs Foxwell Digital and co-hosts the excellent ecommerce influence podcast for his best tip on lookalikes: “I think the biggest one I can think of is spreading lookalikes out into different types, where possible. Things like View Content LLAs are different than a Purchase LLA, so diversifying with LLAs of different types and sizes is good.”
The final tip, even if it seems like a chore, is to read and make note of Facebook’s Advertising policies.
With all the privacy concerns and greater scrutiny of the platform, Facebook is actively cracking down on anyone trying to abuse the system or even offering a poor ads experience to their users, making an understanding of these vital to anyone advertising on the platform.
Here’s an example of the kind of ‘spammy ads’ that used to be acceptable but are likely to be penalized now.
Every advertiser I know regularly has ads disapproved, sometimes with good reason and sometimes as a function of the AI getting it wrong.
If this happens to you, appeal politely to Facebook – they usually rectify any mistakes relatively quickly. Remember, it’s another human being reviewing your ads on the other side, so being courteous can go a long way!
To give yourself the best chance of minimizing your time appealing disapproved ads or even trying to get a banned ad account back, familiarize yourself with the policy above and keep yourself on the right side of the Facebook rules.
So, there you have it. Eight great Facebook advertising tips to help you get awesome results from your Facebook ads. Which one is your favorite that you can’t wait to try out?