Is your Facebook marketing strategy as unbeatable as you think?
While your ads featuring Pomeranian puppies, kittens or chocolate fudge cakes are undoubtedly awesome, you need more than that to make your Facebook ads perform.
With 86.3% of marketers using Facebook for marketing in the US alone, the competition is so high that you can almost taste it. But it is certainly not impossible to beat. How? You can start by understanding how Facebook Marketing and Good Facebook Marketing are simply two different things.
To break down the difference and dismiss some other social advertising misconceptions, we sat down with social media marketing consultant and Facebook expert David Lorentzen. We asked what are the challenges advertisers face these days—and how can we solve them?
The result was this evergreen guide to the basics of a Facebook advertising strategy. From choosing the campaign objectives to reviewing data and creating pointers, these are the tips that will skyrocket your Facebook advertising efforts.
Why Facebook advertising pays off
Why spend resources making great content just to settle for (poor) organic reach?
You obviously don’t want to be producing useless content. And even the most polished and awesome content can fizzle without the right strategy.
Organic social media is far from dead, but relying on it alone will most likely result in your meticulously crafted content never seeing the light of day. To ensure all your production efforts aren’t wasted, you need to put some spend behind it.
Before diving into advertising campaigns, metrics and, placements, let’s crunch some numbers for more context:
By 2023, ads revenue is expected to have an annual growth rate of 24.5%.
With traditional advertising getting more expensive and less flexible every day, no wonder 72% of marketers still choose Facebook ads to bring their content in front of their audience—especially considering that “The Social Network” still has a solid 2.32 billion monthly active users you can tap into.
A variety of ads formats, targeting options, a rich placement offering, not to mention having Instagram and WhatsApp in the mix, make Facebook a marketing platform that’s tough to beat. And although the ad space has become a little saturated lately—in fact, 74% of users claim that there are way too many ads—Facebook ads are still getting clicks.
If that shouldn’t be enough, did you know that since 2016 social media ads attract 3x more non-customers than existing customers?
This is already a big reason to stick with Facebook advertising.
Plus, Facebook’s ads work out cheaper than other marketing platforms. And your ads are more likely to reach a global audience since Facebook supports more than 100 languages and is used by 22% of people around the world.
So it works. But how do we move from here?
1. Know your business objectives and you won’t fail
Stick to the core value of your business when you start with social advertising.
A campaign objective is essential to help Facebook understand what you are trying to achieve with your budget. But don’t obsess about it and keep the bigger picture in mind.
Consider these goals:
The campaign objective should always line up with a business objective. So map out your business goals and think how will your team contribute to that.
Going for the wrong one is easy. Conversions, likes, offers, website clicks, app installs, events, video views can all be gold, but only if they serve a business purpose. Consider carefully.
Each of the objectives you’ll choose need to serve a different stage of your business goal.
Therefore, when mapping your strategy, don’t completely ditch the marketing funnel; it will help you have a clear idea of the customer journey and keep you focused on what you need to achieve.
Only when this job is done can you define how you’ll measure success, i.e. you can finally define the metrics.
The best part? It will be easier to quantify your social media ROI because your paid efforts will be directly tied to your business goals.
Pro tip: If you aren’t sure of the objective, opt for A/B testing, run two campaigns at the same time with different objectives and check which one is performing better.
2. Measuring Facebook data
So, your campaigns are live, now what?
No polyglot is cool as the person who knows how to speak data (in our world, at least).
As your money is on the line, this is the moment you need to stop guessing and start measuring your basic Facebook ads data. Make sure you have been running a campaign for a consistent period (at least two weeks), and take the time to look at what has been performing and what hasn’t.
The place to start is Facebook itself. Don’t underestimate the power of small data, just don’t solely rely on it. Mastering Google Analytics is easier than you may think, and it will help you keep track of your users’ journey.
Pick a good data-visualization tool such as Data Studio, it can be tricky to start with, but its dashboard will keep the whole marketing team up-to-date with all the important information.
Keep these tips in mind when looking at Facebook advertising data:
1. You don’t need to look at all the vast body of social media metrics available. Data-driven advertising on Facebook is not about big data. If you have a solid social media strategy in place, stay faithful to your objective and metrics to measure your performance.
2. Accept that hyper-precise targeting isn’t possible anymore since Facebook removed over 5000 targeting options. Therefore, it will occasionally deliver ads to audiences of little or no quality. That’s not the end of the world.
3. Soft metrics? Yes, but only if it will support hard conversion in long-run. Don’t rely entirely on reach, impressions, likes or clicks. You can’t really bring those to your boss. However, what you need to know is that Facebook has now deprecated the old Relevance Score, which measures the quality and engagement level of your ads— to introduce three new metrics: quality ranking, engagement rate ranking and conversion rate ranking.
4. Which metrics should you be looking at? It is easy to become confused by the number of metrics available these days, and I’m sorry to say that there isn’t a single rule to help you out here. The metrics you choose may vary based on the industry, product, service, the audience you serve and, mostly, on the objective. Again, stick to your plan.
Pro Tip: Make sure you have a well-structured naming convention for your Facebook ad campaigns, ad sets, and ads. That will make it so much easier and faster to filter the results and find what you need when creating new reports.
3. Facebook ad targeting basics
Facebook reigned as social advertisers’ top choice due to its unparalleled ads targeting options—until August 2018, that is.
Last year, Facebook released a blog “Keep Advertising Safe and Civil” that announced the removal of more than 5000 targeting options. Saying that this hasn’t changed the way we reach audiences today would be a false statement. Nevertheless, you still have plenty of options to choose from such as Gender, Custom Audience, Interest or Behaviour targeting.
We are not going to dive into all the Facebook targeting options, but, to make it simple, we broke down how you should segment your audience before moving on to choosing any targeting:
Branding: here is where you touch your main target audience.
Core Audience: you always have to nurture people that have shown interest in your business.
Automation: this step helps you mapping ad-hoc users journey based on their behavior.
Campaign: the seasonal focus.
Advertising on Facebook lets your target saved audiences, custom audiences, and lookalike audiences.
Saved Audiences are based on criteria such as interests, gender, behaviors, income levels, etc.
Custom Audiences are people you already know and are created based on the information you provide.
Lookalike Audiences are similar to your best existing customers. You create them using a source audience, in other words, a Custom Audience.
Pro Tip: If you are implementing video content as part of your strategy, you can easily retarget the people who have watched your Facebook and Instagram videos with video custom audiences.
4. Make strategic choices.
Overthinking your approach too much won’t do any good for your social advertising campaigns in general. Owning what you are doing will be the first step in maximizing the return on your ad spend.
Commit to your decision and run with it. If it doesn’t work, some considered adjustments will likely make it work eventually.
Help yourself by building a regular review structure to check on your campaigns. The most common mistakes made here are:
A) Failing to check on your ads’ performance.
B) Constantly tweaking campaigns, e.g. changing bidding, targeting or ad content. Not only will this skew your results it will keep you from gaining concrete learnings and real conversions.
Let a campaign run for a while (at least two weeks) before looking at data/numbers. If you are curious to know how much your peers are paying for ads on social media, check out this handy guide.
Pro Tip: Block a bi-weekly and a monthly slot on your calendar to check the performance- a mid-check-in and a more comprehensive data analysis at the end of the month.
5. Don’t forget to be creative.
Building personalized and engaging content that resonates with the right people is essential for driving results. Consider this: 74% of users say there are way too many ads. You can’t afford to settle for mediocre ad copy or creative.
David told me something incredibly wise:
“When using paid to support your ongoing communication your job is not to be an advertising expert, but still to be a communication expert.”
And when you are a communication expert, you can’t afford to leave other departments out. Designers, copywriters and digital and social media managers should all work together. Gather them together to brainstorm ideas. Fresh eyes will help you out to nail the message.
- All the learnings from earlier campaigns. What worked and what didn’t?
- What’s the format that best fits the message?
- Build a consistent theme for the whole campaign.
- Reflect on where your audience is most active; should you go for Stories or Newsfeed or both?
Now it’s time to get creative. Each ad element has a goal, but all work together to communicate the message and support a good user experience.
The headline: The main title of your ad. The perfect length? Around four words.
The text: This teases and attracts attention, possibly tapping into an emotion, feeling or a common struggle. Don’t use five lines of text to express a concept that can be told in one line. Try to keep it within 70 characters.
The description: It is usually placed under the headline and it’ll help you to give you more context to your product/service.
The visual: How you communicate visually your product/service. Keep in mind, less is more, don’t play with too many elements and watch out the quality of your images. This needs to directly support the text message. Only if image and text are in sync you’ll be able to communicate a strong story.
The call-to-action: Don’t be shy, encourage your audience to take action. After reading your ad, you don’t want users to be confused about what to do next; Customize the button and reinforce what action you want them to take also through the text.
Pro Tip: Never launch only one ad execution per campaign. Create different ad variations to prevent ad fatigue. Plus, you might want to test out different messages/formats to cover more ground.
6. Oops! I did it again
Don’t worry, we won’t spiral into Britney lyrics. Here we cover David Lorentzen’s answer to the big question: what are marketers frequently doing wrong?
These are some of the most common Facebook strategy mistakes:
- No using the data that you collect. You should always follow up on your content. This could be as light as a mid-campaign check-in with your team to evaluate a campaign. But don’t obsess, looking at data dashboards all day, every day will only confuse you more.
- If you focus on conversion, you’ll forget about the people who almost converted. Ah (sigh), the ones that got away. Craft ad-hoc content to try to build a follow-up with the people that engaged with your content but didn’t convert. Try to understand why, and what could inspire them to take that extra step.
- Stop constantly testing. Don’t get me wrong, testing is great, but take it easy. If you must make changes, don’t do it every week. You won’t have a clear overview of what you are doing or how effective it really was.
- New advertising tricks won’t save your content—ever. You can’t win if you don’t have good content and a good product. Don’t produce content for the sake of producing it, you don’t want to underestimate your audiences.
Be mindful of your mistakes—you can learn a lot from them, and repeating the same ones over and over will hurt your business and waste budget.
And that’s a wrap, digital marketers!
As you can see, there is so much you need to consider when advertising on Facebook, but success begins by establishing a goal. After that, mapping the strategy will be far easier. Remember that your job isn’t done when your ads go live, you need to close the loop by sharing the learnings gained with your team.
Try following a few of these tips to create your paid Facebook ads strategy. It won’t transform you into an overnight marketing unicorn, but it will make your life easier and help you bring some clear results to your boss to win more budget for next year.
Oh, and a last thing to keep in mind—no matter how effective your strategy is, you really can’t get away with bad content.