How did ads get so complicated? It used to be “here’s a 728×90 leaderboard, throw it at the top of the page and see who clicks.” Now, modern advertising platforms are dynamic little programs all their own. Facebook ads have grown increasingly complex and advertisers have access to a wide variety of ad objectives, ad types, and segmentation options. New features are being added all the time, which makes it difficult to keep up with best practices. This is why Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg always looks so tuckered out.
He’s been staying up all night reading Facebook ad documentation just like the rest of us. That complexion there says “get some sun and take some vitamin D.”
All jokes aside, all that Facebook ad tweaking has a purpose, mainly to display your ads more efficiently. Ad impressions and clicks cost money, so you only want to spend that money if it results in a conversion and sale. Now the big question: how do you optimize your Facebook Ad campaigns to generate more conversions?
To start with, you want to accurately target your audience.
1. Understand Your Audience & Your Ad’s Objective
Who is your audience? That isn’t always easy to tell and definitely requires research. Your ideal customer might be a very wide range of people, but there are still some people whom you shouldn’t target with an ad at all. Broke people, for instance, but Facebook doesn’t scan users’ bank accounts yet. Let’s not give them ideas.
But in all seriousness: ad campaigns should be targeted at your buyer persona. The persona is not a representation of a real person, but a cloud of demographic data and behavioral signals that define your ideal customer. Briefly, it might include:
- Age range
- Income range
- How they define success
- Barriers that prevent them from finding a solution
- Behavioral tendencies
- Their role in the decision-making unit
In making up this persona, who is a walking actuarial table, we try to guess what need they might have and then arrange to be on the spot to make a business transaction with them the next time that need arises.
The best buyer personas are research-based. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your existing customers and have an open-ended conversation. Ask them how they found your brand, what motivated them to search for a solution, what solutions they considered, the features that were important to them, and if they experienced any barriers during their search.
Another way to get insights for your persona is by joining Facebook groups that your customers frequent. Get into the same pool with your ideal customers, judging by interest, and then toss around a few conversational openers related to your industry to gauge the public attitude towards your industry and the product or service you offer. Perhaps you can even pose as a prospective customer of your own brand, asking for recommendations or advice. This is just like good old spying, but it’s not illegal.
Once you have defined your persona, you then need to define your campaign objective. Objectives are a way to make Facebook aware of your ad campaign’s goal, which breaks down into these broad categories:
- Brand awareness: Just getting your attention
- Consideration: Getting your click too
- Conversion: Getting you to the cash register or virtual checkout to make a sale
Facebook will then help you create a campaign that matches your objective and show it to people who are most likely to take actions that align with that objective. These objectives align with the stages of a typical sales funnel: awareness, consideration, and conversion.
Now that we’ve talked a lot about ad targeting and objectives, let’s give another topic a go: actual ad construction itself.
2. Choose The Right Facebook Ad Format
When you begin to create your ad campaign, you’ll discover a slew of different ad formats. Like selecting your campaign objective, selecting the right ad type will help you reach the right audience and engage them. The number of options can be a little overwhelming, so here is a breakdown of the most commonly used ad types and when to use them:
Great for showing off physical products, generating brand awareness, anything with visual appeal.
When you have a more complicated or nuanced message or if you want to elicit a response from the viewer, video ads can be great. Use them for high-commitment transactions, persuasion, presenting a firm use case.
When the concept needs more exposition give Story Ads a try. You might need this when launching products and services in a new niche, social proof, or sharing advice.
For showcasing a wide range of choices, be that a line of similar products in different styles or different aspects of the same service. This makes sense for home service and product showrooms, fashion wear, or home decor and furnishings.
These highly targeted ads are used for remarketing or nudging leads who were on the edge of committing to purchase.
What ad to use depends on the market, your product or services, and the most likely buyer persona. You might take into account that when using story or video ads, to be extra respectful of the users’ time because not all of us have the time to stop and watch a video right this second. Outside of that, it’s a matter of matching the ad to the product. A healthcare industry ad may want to go with story ads because their services require some exposition. A legal firm might go with a video to convey the impact of the potential clients’ situation and the value of legal representation. A kitchen cabinet remodeling business will want the carousel to showcase all the great designs they can do to fit every home décor.
We can all think of ads that wear us out from hearing or seeing them too often. We just got done with political season, after all. If you monitor your ad campaign and you notice a decline in ad click-through rate (CTR), that might mean that users are getting fatigued with the ad.
So change them up a bit. Instead of scrolling by your ad, a new color or photograph might help you catch the attention of your target buyer. You can refresh the visual elements by:
- Changing backgrounds
- Swapping button or accent colors
- Rotating photographs
- Switching ad formats
You can also swap your ad offers, such as offering seasonal events, discounts, limited-time offers, and free trials. Plan new campaigns for each quarter so you’re consistently displaying new ads.
Another way to prevent ad fatigue is by setting frequency or cap limits so that you don’t overexpose the ad too often. Try some A/B testing to find what works best, of course, but sometimes the best thing that works is to change things up.
You can also use an ad scheduler to switch between ads. You can keep the same campaign but have ads in four different formats, colors, or layouts. Space them three months apart, and you have a campaign for a year that won’t wear out its welcome.
Facebook also offers Dynamic Creative ads. These work exactly like the process we just outlined above: you load up a basic set of options for the ad components (images, videos, body text, title, description, CTA) and it shuffles and mixes them to produce a line of different ads. You can then A/B test automatically to see which combo converts the most.
4. Make Your Landing Page Count
One of the most common mistakes we see with marketing is companies that hyper-focus on the ad itself, but drop the ball on the follow-through. A landing page is the web page on your website or domain where your leads land after clicking on your ad. It should be relevant to your ad. It’s better to design the landing page first, then create the ads as a “mini” version of the landing page.
Facebook monitors and evaluates your landing pages, with relevance scores. Even though they don’t peek at your landing page directly, they still measure users’ “post-click experience” and “conversion rate” and uses them as ranking factors. These relevance scores help Facebook determine the most pertinent ad to show people.
Your landing page design needs to be:
- Simple and focused: Your ad was about one thing; keep the landing page about that one thing
- Clear: Do not make your customers hunt for the sign-up dialog or shopping cart button
- Contrasting: Use contrasting colors for the call-to-action (CTA) to make sure users can’t miss it
- Impassioned: Use a headline that reinforces the ad and the action the lead is about to take
We have a whole other post just on landing page design. There are several tools you can use to aid landing page design:
- Unbounce – For landing page layout
- Gravity Forms – For simple form / CTA generation to add to an existing page
- Instapage – Another landing page creator
You can also host the landing page right on Facebook itself. This gives Facebook a bit more access to conversion metrics and performance.
Somewhere in your marketing toolkit, you likely have a list of customer or lead email addresses. Perhaps you send a monthly newsletter or an occasional promotional offer. However, there’s so much more that you can do with that email list.
Facebook allows you to create custom audiences based on emails associated with specific Facebook accounts. The idea is that, presumably, the user also signed up for Facebook with that email account. We have a whole post to help you master Facebook custom audiences, which provides a lot more information, but I’ll review the basics here.
With custom audiences, you can target a wide range of people:
- Existing customers, it might be worth targeting them to up-sell or cross-sell to
- People who visited your site before and submitted their email to download an eBook or subscribe to your blog
- Cart abandoners who were so close to completing a sale, but then left your site
- Users who have never visited your site, but fall into the same demographic category as the people who did
Once you create these custom audiences, you can tell Facebook to target a campaign at just that audience. This is an effective way to refine your audience and focus your ad campaigns on those most likely to convert. Let’s dig into this a bit more:
After you’ve grown a sizeable customer base, you can use your customer’s email addresses to help you find and reach new people. Facebook lookalike audiences identify and target people who are most similar to your existing customers. By targeting people like those who have already engaged with you, you’ll increase the effectiveness of your campaigns and generate more conversions, while also keeping your cost-per-acquisition low.
In practice, you might use this if you’re trying to expand into new markets or globally. Facebook can use the demographic and behavioral traits of your existing customers to find similar people in new locations. Your ad creative has already proved effective in one market, show it to similar people in another market, and you’ll easily be able to attract and convert more leads.
Lookalike audiences aren’t limited to customers. Say you’ve hosted a webinar and had 300 registrants. You can use those email addresses to find similar people who might be interested in your next webinar. Get creative and think about the ways that people interact with your brand and how you can use that data to find more people like them.
When you build an audience of people who have already interacted with your website or have conducted business with you, that’s called remarketing. You’ve likely been the target of a remarketing campaign. Maybe you recall eyeing up a new pair of shoes and suddenly your Facebook feed is awash in shoe ads? While it may seem annoying, it’s commonly used across the web, and it can be very effective.
For many purchases, the decision to buy isn’t made in an instant or even a week. People often conduct research or want time to think about it. Remarketing helps you re-engage those website visitors, remind them of your product or service, and convince them to reconsider you.
Not only is remarketing used to generate new business, but it can also be used to target existing customers by showcasing new product releases or offering discounts to renew subscriptions.
A look at the ways remarketing can be used to re-engage users and generate sales.
This is fun juggling all these people around, but the point is to re-sell to customers who are more likely to buy from you again, lure leads back to you when they were considering you, offer an extra incentive to leads who are getting away, and so on.
Remarketing is a more sure way to generate conversions, while also saving money by only displaying ads to the most likely buyer.
Like we said: Toys! Too many toys. So many fun toys to play with. Facebook has probably added three new ad features since we started writing this post. Google, no slouch at marketing itself, also keeps up with Facebook, or sometimes Facebook is in the position to catch up. Between the two of them, you can keep a whole team busy.
Try not to get bogged down in tweaking with ads too much, however. There are plenty of industries that just do not need that much fine-grained persona targeting.
That’s why we can envy industries like food and beverage. Everybody eats, right? They have one market. Well, except for the vegans, and lactose-intolerant, and the gluten-sensitive, and people with nut allergies, and the non-alcoholics, and the foodies, and the dieters, and the diabetics, and the people who only eat kosher or halal…Nevermind. As you can see, every business can benefit from refining their Facebook Ads campaign objectives and audience targeting.