Facebook offers marketers a fantastic advertising opportunity. With the platform’s enormous audience, rich database and targeting flexibility, it is a cost-effective way to direct relevant messages to specific buyers at defined points in the sales funnel.
But to get the most out of Facebook, you have to use the platform properly. You can use the platform for awareness campaigns, but this isn’t really where it shines for all but the biggest enterprises. Middle-of-the-funnel nurturing and conversion are Facebook’s sweet spots for small- to medium-sized businesses. Also, if you’re a B2B marketer, your money is better spent on Adwords or Email marketing. With this in mind, below are some tips for making Facebook ads work best for you.
First, though, an overview of the structure of Facebook Display advertising. There are three levels – Campaigns, Ad Sets and Ads. The only thing that gets determined at the highest level, Campaigns, is your overall objective – website visits, form completion, page likes, etc. Ad Sets are where you determine budget & schedule, audience, placement (Facebook properties and screen locations) and bidding strategy. Ads are where you upload or select visual images, copy and links, if applicable. All our discussion topics here pertain to the Ad Set and Ad levels.
- Custom Audiences. Facebook’s Core Audiences allow you to build audiences around Facebook’s own user data, which can help you grow awareness or expand your customer base. Facebook also offers two great ways to build custom audiences of people already familiar with you. These are obviously terrific for marketing to prospects who have passed the awareness stage but haven’t yet converted.
- First, install a Facebook pixel on every page of your website and build an audience around these visitors. Don’t worry, this is easier than it sounds. Facebook will generate the code for you and you can use Google tag manager or a website plugin to place the pixel in your website header. Facebook even offers a handy browser extension to help you make sure the pixel is installed and working on any page. Find the Chrome version here.
- Second, upload your CRM data to Facebook and build an audience around these people. Again, this is really easy to do. Don’t worry about incomplete or duplicate information, Facebook will filter these out. Also, Facebook will match a higher percentage of users if you give it more CRM fields, so don’t feed it just emails or just phone numbers. Combine these data points along with names, locations, etc. for a longer filtered list.
- Lookalike audiences. You can use your pixel and email lists as starting points for “lookalike” audiences consisting of people who resemble those lists. This is a powerful and effective tactic. In the U.S., your lookalike audience can be anywhere from 1% to 10% of the total population, but the smaller you make it, the more closely it represents your seed audience. For best results, start small and increase over time.
- Exclusions. Take the pixel concept one step further by installing a specific conversion pixel on your order confirmation page. You can build an audience around the resulting list and either market specifically to these potential recurring customers or exclude them when you’re promoting a special offer to prospects who haven’t yet converted. Of course, there’s lots more you can do with conversion tracking and optimization in Facebook; so much so, that’s a topic for a whole different discussion.
- Geography. Unless you are a nationwide company, you should by all means filter by location. Even if you are a national brand, there will be times you want target specific geographies. When recruiting for certain locations, for example, or running local promotions.
- Income Level. Unlike Google Display Network (which allows you to target income levels indirectly by geographic location) Facebook enables you to directly target specific income ranges. This can be a valuable tool if you’re marketing a high-end product, just keep in mind that marketing to a higher-income demographic almost always comes with an elevated CPC price tag.
- Interests. There is a common misconception that you can simply target users who have ‘liked’ specific pages, i.e. your competitors. This is not true. Some well-known brand names will show up as interests if there are lots of users searching for or engaging with their content, but this is an exception, not a rule. If you are a small business competing with other small businesses or working in a niche industry, you’ll need to target users whose interests comprise a reasonable proxy for your target customer.
- Placement. Facebook won’t argue with you if you want to lump all placements together in one Ad Set, but this approach diminishes your optimization flexibility. For best results, segregate placements (mobile vs. desktop, news feed vs. right column) into different ad sets so you can see how they’re performing and adjust more easily.
- CPC. If you start low and get no or few clicks, you have no data on which to base your optimization efforts. You could also be damaging your relevancy scores by depressing your sample size. For this reason, it’s best to start with a little larger bid than you’re comfortable with and adjust downward once you gain traction. Remember, you can always set a top-level budget that limits your financial exposure, regardless of the cost per click. Also, thanks to Facebook’s auction rules, your actual cost is almost always lower than your offer, so it’s actually pretty safe to bid higher than you really want to pay.
- Creative. Never assume that you know exactly what your audience wants to see. Always split-test multiple versions of your ads for a given campaign. Try images that are a little outside the box, you never know what strike users’ fancy. If you test unusual images against typical smiling-professional-in-office-setting stock photos, you’ll get a chance to prove that most users have run out of enthusiasm for the latter.
- Link URL. Don’t forget to add campaign parameters to your URL so Google Analytics can help you credit each specific Facebook ad for its share of traffic. Google even offers a handy tool to help you do this.
- Destination. Sending people to your home page, unless you’re customizing it for your specific ad campaign, is a waste of Facebook ad traffic. Rather, make sure you have custom landing pages set up that reinforce the messaging of your ads. Having all your properties singing from the same sheet of marketing music is the way to maximize conversions.
While this is a decent start, there are lots more tools, settings and options to consider when designing and optimizing Facebook campaigns. The good news is, by spending a little time with the platform, you can quickly become competent enough to gain positive results from your very first campaign.
But to take things to the next level, consider Facebook’s Blueprint Certifications. Anyone can study the materials and take the exams. They will not only help you improve your skills but make you more valuable to employers.
About the Author:
Jacob Dayan is a co-founder and partner of Community Tax, a full service tax company helping customers nationwide with tax resolution, tax preparation, bookkeeping and accounting.