The First Steps Towards Creating a Successful Facebook Ad Campaign

Facebook offers an all-too-often ignored advertising venue with powerful tools for targeting your audience, at a fraction of the cost of Google AdWords.



Whenever we sit down with marketing clients for the first time, one of the questions we inevitably ask is, “Have you run ads on Facebook before?”

We love Facebook ads, because an effective Facebook advertising campaign costs pennies on the dollar when compared to Google AdWords, giving our clients the opportunity to stretch their marketing dollars.

This isn’t to say that AdWords doesn’t have its place: it’s extremely effective for capturing the attention of Google users who already know that they want products or services like yours. But ad bidding can be very competitive and drive up prices well past the comfort zone of most small businesses.

This is why we often advise clients to consider advertising on Facebook—not just for its low cost, but because it can be effective as well. As our Digital Market Specialist Katya Allison puts it, “If you’re selling a product or service to customers, then you should be on Facebook.”

But running an effective Facebook ad campaign is more than just boosting a few Facebook posts. To really see results, you’re going to need to get your hands dirty with Facebook Ads Manager.

But what do you need to know? There isn’t enough space here to give a blow by blow account on how to build an ad campaign from scratch. There are plenty of how-to guides that describe how to get started. But here are a few things to keep in mind when creating Facebook ads.

You need to have a goal or ROI in mind before creating a Facebook ad.

If you’re not using ads to create business and put money in your pocket, then you’re just flushing your money down the toilet. When you set about creating an ad, first you need to set a definite, measurable goal for the ad. For example, your ad could generate a certain number of:

  • Leads
  • Sales
  • Visitors to your site
  • Facebook likes
  • Signups for an event or promotion
  • Newsletter subscriptions
  • Comments or other interactions on your Facebook page
  • Ad views

All of these are concrete goals that can be easily measured. Not all of them translate directly into cash flow, but they do all advance you towards that ultimate goal of profitability.

The lowest hanging fruit is probably that last example, ad views. This is most useful for startups and new businesses that need to build awareness. You’re just trying to get people to know who you are, and get curious enough to check you out . This is useful, but don’t stick with this for too long. As we said, your ads need to justify their existence with ROI. So you’ll want to transition to one of the other options revenue-generating options relatively quickly.

The great thing is that Facebook actually offers these goals and more when creating an ad. The Ads Manager has marketing objectives to select from that allow you to clearly define your goals. Leverage this specificity. Don’t just blindly boost posts. Goals give you a motive to tweak and improve your ad campaign.

And you should always be adjusting and reworking your campaigns. Monitor them closely, and don’t be afraid to experiment.

Facebook Ads Manager - Marketing Objectives
Facebook Ads Manager’s marketing objective options when starting a new campaign.

Creativity and well-designed ad images, videos, and slideshows improve Facebook ad performance.

Let’s take a moment to create a hypothetical. You’re standing in a store, and you’re deciding between two comparable products. It could be anything: tax software, lipstick, phones, whatever.

One of them is in a crisp, unblemished, slickly designed box with great imagery and well-written blurbs that give the sense that it’s a quality product. The other one is… sketchy. It looks like a dollar store castoff: The box is bent and squished. The photos and imagery are generic and were probably ‘borrowed’ from random websites. The text has typos and misspellings.

If you care at all about how the product is going to look or perform, then you’re probably going to choose the one that doesn’t look like it contains asbestos.

The same goes with Facebook ads. They need to show creativity and expertise. Having Janice in accounting throw together something in Photoshop or Microsoft Paint isn’t going to cut it. You need to have a skilled designer on your marketing team who can take advantage of Facebook’s ability to incorporate vivid images, animated GIFs, videos, and a variety of enticing full-screen slideshows and carousels.

In addition, a designer is more likely to understand the limitations and requirements Facebook imposes on ads. For instance, Facebook has the so-called “20% Rule,” which limits the amount of an image that can be obscured by text and logos.

While the rule is a bit more nuanced than it used to be, in short, Facebook prefers ads that use clean, clear imagery. Facebook artificially restricts the promotion of ads that place too much text on the image, and will even charge you more for your ad.

Also, designers experienced in online advertising understand how ads display differently on Facebook versus Instagram (which is owned by Facebook). Failing to recognize this can produce ads that are awkwardly cropped, with missing text and/or an overall loss of visual appeal.

Design and creativity aren’t trivialities when it comes to advertising. They aren’t fuzzy fluff. They affect the performance and profitability of your ad. It makes a literal dollars-and-cents difference.

We’ve seen it for ourselves.

Until recently, Katya, who is a skilled marketer but not a designer by trade, was responsible for putting graphics together for our ads. We knew that we needed to step up our game, so we hired a new graphics designer, Amy Ly (who we will be adding to our company profile shortly). Amy has been working closely with Katya to make our ad campaigns more visually enticing, and it’s already paying dividends.

Comparing a campaign we ran before Amy came on board to a very similar campaign with an identical total cost that Amy assisted with, we found some obvious improvements. Below are a few facts and figures, comparing our campaign’s success before having a skilled designer versus after we brought Amy on board.

  • Link Clicks: 1,322 🡒 1,867 (+41%)
  • Number of people who saw the ad: 48,375 🡒 65,850 (+36%)
  • Total impressions: 78,883 🡒 148,921 (+89%)
  • Cost per click: $0.45 🡒 $0.32 (-29%)

We saw an improvement in every respect. Our audience grew, our impressions nearly doubled, and most importantly, our clicks were up more than 40%.

Good, visually engaging ads made our advertising more effective and more financially efficient.

Facebook gives you extremely powerful tools for targeting your audience, so make sure you understand your customers.

One of the crazy things about social media is that people often share waaaaaaaay too much information about themselves. This is especially true of Facebook. If you look at your friends’ profiles, they likely include their age, hometown, employer, the car makes they prefer, their favored political candidates, and so on.

This rampant oversharing of information allows Facebook to have an extremely deep understanding of their user base, which in turn gives Facebook advertisers the ability to target their favored audience with unparalleled accuracy. When you create a Facebook ad, you can filter your audience according to:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Relationship status
  • Education
  • Workplace
  • Job titles
  • Interests
  • Hobbies
  • Entertainment
  • Liked brands
  • What devices they use to browse Facebook
  • Categories of products they are likely to buy
  • And much more…

To take full advantage of these filters, you need to take the time to develop buyer personas. Once you understand the lifestyles and behaviors of your customers, you can use this information to target your audience accordingly using Facebook’s filters.

In addition, if you have an existing customer base, you can take the data you have amassed to create a custom audience, which allows you to easily re-engage those customers on Facebook. More importantly, this data can then be used to reverse engineer a Lookalike Audience; Facebook looks at the commonalities within the list of customers you provide, and uses this information to identify other Facebook users who fit that profile. You can then target ads at this Lookalike Audience, without having to go through the laborious process of manually defining your audience.

No matter which approach you take, you do have to be careful not to get too specific. If you only target 37 year old males in Wisconsin who own iguanas, have a fondness for Swedish death metal, and have 3.2 kids, your ad isn’t going to capture many eyeballs. Leave a little wiggle room. Remember, you can always go back and tweak your ad campaign after a day or two.

Keep an eye on your Facebook Ads reporting, and be sure you understand how to react appropriately to your data.

Facebook ads aren’t a Field of Dreams-esque, “If you build it, they will buy your stuff” type of thing. Successful ad campaigns require testing, adjustment, and reworking.

Remember, as we mentioned at the top, your ads need to generate an ROI. To do this, you need to be able to understand the data generated in your Facebook Ads reporting, and respond to it accordingly.

This means you have to have a basic grasp of math, graphs, and the various metrics used by Facebook. Take some time to study Facebook’s help pages (such as the one linked above), as well as online guides.

But if you find that you’re struggling to stay on top of your Facebook ad campaigns, Post Modern Marketing can help. We have extensive experience in Internet marketing, and we can sit down and work with you to create a profitable ad campaign. In fact, we’ll even run the numbers and show you the financial value of your leads, and then work backwards to determine a reasonable advertising budget.

To learn more about how Post Modern Marketing can help you with your Facebook advertising and overall marketing strategy, give us a call at (916) 572-7678, or use our online contact form.

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