These days, Facebook has made it nearly impossible for businesses to avoid paid advertising. After all, the organic feed is large excluding content from commercial pages. Unfortunately, this means that it’s tempting for businesses to abandon Facebook completely, rather than give in to the commercial pressures.
However, this may not be a good idea. According to Sprout Social, Facebook is still the preferred place for 97% of marketers to run paid ads for a reason. One reason for this is that Facebook has the largest number of subscribers outside of China. In addition, since Facebook now owns Instagram, it has more advertising clout than ever. By taking your business elsewhere, you stand to lose a huge pool of potential customers.
With that said, it’s easy to get off track when formulating your Facebook ads strategy. Simply putting out ads and hoping for the best isn’t advantageous. Instead, it can be a waste of money. Luckily, there are plenty of strategies that you can employ which can be highly successful. Let’s look at a few.
Before you even start choosing an audience or creating content for advertising, it’s important to know why you are running your campaign. This will help you determine the scope of the campaign, in addition to how much budget you’ll need and what kind of content to choose. Knowing your ultimate goal will also make it easier to choose what features you need.
1) Choose your campaign objective wisely
Facebook has spent time making ads manager easier for you to use. But if you don’t choose the right objective, you will be unable to access important features due to the presets that Facebook creates for each objective. Remember, even though Facebook is making it harder to use the organic feed traffic, they still want you to succeed. Combine your Facebook ads strategy with their built-in tools.
Right now, you can choose from the following Facebook-defined objectives:
- Awareness / Brand Awareness – Show ads to people most likely to remember them. In other words, people who have an interest in your kind of product and service. Facebook will know this from analytics they’ve gained on the customer.
- Awareness / Reach – Show ads to the maximum number of people. This is the closest thing to “spray and pray” on Facebook Ads. However, there are some reasons to do this, especially when you’re a brand with universal appeal (car dealerships, repair shops, and so forth).
- Consideration / Traffic – Send people to a destination like your website. From here, you’ll both boost your website stats but also get ample opportunity for converting leads to customers.
- Consideration / Engagement – Get more people to engage with one of your Facebook posts. Use this when you want to create “buzz” around something. For example, a product launch or your overall “brand community.”
- Consideration / App Installs – Only if you have an app, because you’re trying to convince people to install it. Of course, these can be any kind of app, so long as it’s brand related.
- Consideration / Video Views – Convenient when you want to build custom audiences from video views or when showing video ads.
- Consideration / Lead Generation – Use Facebook Lead Ads to boost your direct sales efforts. Especially useful for B2B and professional services brands.
- Consideration / Messages – The CTA is a Facebook Messenger/WhatsApp/Instagram Direct Message button. From here, you can interact with the potential customer using AI-based bots, real humans, or both.
- Conversion / Conversions – Shows your ad to those most likely to take action on it, but this only works well if you have a conversion event defined in Facebook Ads. This makes it a more advanced option.
- Conversion / Catalog Sales – Used best with Dynamic Product Ads to showcase your catalog of products. These are great when you have an ecommerce site.
- Conversion / Store Traffic – Shows ads to people nearby or most likely to visit your physical store. Choices can include demographic information as well as location, so it’s useful for retailers of all sizes.
While every company will be different, from my own experience of working with clients, the most popular Facebook Ads campaign objectives being utilized, and their measurement counterparts, are:
- Consideration / Traffic (cost per click). In other words, this is where my clients pay Facebook to drive traffic to their website. This is especially effective for professional services websites, bloggers, and similar.
- Consideration / Video Views (cost per TruView). Here, if the targets don’t watch the video, you don’t have to pay. This makes it a cost-effective option.
- Conversion / Conversions (cost per conversion). With this option, you pay for how many conversions you get as a result of the ads. Online conversions are tracked by cookies; location-based ones use other methods.
Further Reading: The Top 15 Facebook Ads Tools You Didn’t Even Know Existed
Any proper Facebook ads strategy understands the target audience. While it’s sometimes appropriate to send ads out to a wider audience, in most cases you want to tailor your advertising for particular consumer subsets. These can be people that buy-in certain places, or fit any demographic imaginable.
2) Target Purchasers
If you want to attract people to spend money with you, it makes sense that you target people who have displayed purchasing behavior on Facebook. We can find these people under Behaviors in Detailed Targeting and target the following people:
- Digital Activities / Facebook Payments Users: These consumers use the Facebook payment platform to buy things. Goods could be something simple, like credits for an online game, or more complex, like an item from Facebook shops or shoppable Instagram posts.
- Purchase Behavior / Engaged Shoppers: Facebook gets information about consumers in several ways, such as when they buy things through links on Facebook. They also know if a purchase is made through the use of Facebook Pixel on certain sites. Big Data is your friend here.
3) Target Life Events
One of the coolest things about Facebook is all of the information that people share on their platforms. As a marketer, one of the best ways to tap into this is to leverage Facebook Ads. As part of your Facebook ads strategy, use this info to create campaigns that celebrate and are attractive to those who are experiencing one of the below life events:
- Anniversary: This could be a wedding, engagement, or other similar milestone.
- Birthday: Either for the targeted consumer or someone in their circle, like a spouse or child.
- New Job: Because who doesn’t get new stuff with that new paycheck? It could be something they need, or a treat for themselves.
- New Relationship: When people have a new partner, they often want to express their feelings with cards or gifts, for example.
- Recently Moved: A new home often means a ton of new stuff, from furniture down to storage bins or curtains.
One word of caution, though: No one likes creepy ads that look like you know more about them than they would like. So be aware of that in your ad copy and make it look like the targeting is as natural as possible. Otherwise, you may end up having the campaign backfire.
4) Fine Tune Target Audiences by Narrowing Them
Facebook allows you to choose audiences and equally exclude audiences. Use this to further fine-tune your ideal audience as part of your Facebook ads strategy. For instance, people that have children come in a variety of demographics. If you are selling high-end toys, then posting an ad to parents who are low-income is less likely to get the desired result. Instead, you’d target the higher-income professionals.
5) Leverage Custom Audiences to Retarget
- Retarget web visitors through the Facebook Pixel. This is an addition to your website that enables you to buy ads that remind people of your products and services. Although a few people don’t like them, we’ve known since at least 2013 that they are effective.
- Retarget engagers of your page engagement (if you have any) or video views. I’d especially recommend this if you’re running a community page, or if boosting traffic is critical to your overall success.
6) Place Faith in the Facebook Algorithm with Lookalike Audiences
Facebook allows you to create a Lookalike audience from any saved or custom audience in your Facebook ads strategy. Use this to your advantage by placing trust in the Facebook Algorithm that it will help you find new customers who are very similar to your current ones. Think of this as the “more of same” approach, such as what you’d see on sites like Amazon for product selection.
Further Reading: 4 Steps for How to Measure Facebook Ads Metrics Effectiveness
Ad Creatives must be creative
How well do you remember the bland ad that doesn’t have much to say? Or that repeats the same old tropes over and over again? Chances are, not very well. While branded taglines or mottoes are expected, you need to ensure that the advertising content is worthwhile to consumers. Otherwise, you won’t be able to get maximum value out of your Facebook ads strategy.
7) Understand your competition using Facebook Ad Library
Leverage Facebook Ad Library to understand your competition and perhaps be inspired. Perusing these sample ads will help you see what other people in your industry are putting out. And, you never know when an advertiser in any industry has a cool idea you’d like to adapt.
8) Think Mobile First in Your Campaign
Most people develop ads on a desktop, but your target users are probably going to see it on a mobile device. Similar to common advice for YouTube thumbnails, make sure your creative is crystal clear and see how it displays on a mobile device before deploying. As smartphones and tablets become ubiquitous, you need those ads to look great on any device type. Not convinced yet? Industry resources indicate that up to 96% of Facebook users log in with a mobile device, at least occasionally.
9) Speak to pain points/emotions
Most of us buy things because of a real or perceived need. This could be basic, such as a new pair of shoes to replace old ones or more luxury-focused like a vacation or piece of jewelry. No matter the reason someone is considering a purchase, emotion almost doubles the performance of ad campaigns. Which is to say, if people are attached to your product they’re more likely to buy it.
10) Consider coupons
This suggestion may feel like “that’s what everyone else does,” but there’s a good reason why advertisers do it: it works. Not only do coupons convince people to buy, but they also make customers happier about their purchase. 11% happier, in fact, than people who don’t get one. Who doesn’t like a good bargain?
11) Show images of people using your product (instead of your product) – or better yet leverage influencer content
Influencer content can be a lot of fun, especially if they do giveaways, contests, or online events. But all kinds of influencer marketing are effective, and Facebook ads are a great way to increase the bang for your buck. Think of ads as a megaphone for the influencer’s message. Especially if you’re working with a micro-influencer, this can be quite valuable.
12) Always test different ad formats: Use video or carousel ads
Static images? Videos? Carousel ads? You won’t know what performs the best until you try the various formats and get some data. Fortunately, this is relatively easy with a combination of Facebook analytics, cookies, and website analytics. You could even throw in some discount codes for good measure. Over time, you’ll see what works well for you. Armed with that information, your ROI should go up.
13) Use campaign budget optimization
To automate the optimization of not just your ads but also ad sets across your campaign for the best results, you should be using campaign budget optimization. This is smarter than sitting with a calculator and doing guesswork on how much something is going to cost. Plus, it’s a lot less risky if you have a tight budget. Just as consumers love coupon codes and a “good deal,” so do brands (and bean counters). Since this tool is so easy to use, you NEED to try it out.
Most of the tips above focus on forming and implementing an effective Facebook ads strategy. Here are a couple of other thoughts that can help you be successful, especially in the long term. In particular, they are relevant for multiple campaigns.
14) Create Ad Funnels to engage potential customers at each stage of the funnel with relevant ads
If some Facebook users have never heard of your product, some are aware of it but not customers, and some are customers, consider leveraging Facebook for 3 different campaigns. These should be optimized for people wherever they are in your funnel with the intention of bringing them to the next step. Of course, you should always remember to turn existing customers into brand advocates.
15) Facebook Ads are a Never-Ending A/B Test
You always need to do A/B tests and consider Facebook Ads part of a grand experiment to always strive for the best results. Not only will your audience change over time, but so do consumer tastes and attitudes. World events, politics, and even ordinary trends will alter what people respond positively or negatively to. Just look at the changes we’ve seen in the past 18 months!
Having a proper Facebook ads strategy is vital for getting the best ROI, especially in an era where business Facebook pages don’t get much access to the organic feed. Fortunately, with effective ads management, you can reach customers more efficiently than ever. Best of all, due to the Facebook and Instagram merger, you can stay better organized across platforms.
Further Reading: 9 Ways to Enhance Your Facebook Ads ROI
Hero Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash