Facebook Ads Performance 101

An example of what a few hacks & organization will get you. The best ROI on the web!

Too many people take Facebook advertising for granted. Over the past year, I have had many friends and colleagues approach me and ask to buy me a cup of coffee and/or beer (I prefer whiskey, FYI) so I can walk them through their first Facebook ad and make sure they are doing it right.

There are many things about that request that puts me in a hard spot.

First, I like to help friends and colleagues. Second, I am an advocate of Facebook ads because I feel like its the best ROI on the web (paid media that is.) So I want to create more evangelists of this space. I love seeing lightbulbs go off when I coach friends and colleagues, so this is kinda like crack for me; unhealthy and addicting. Third, I hate sounding like a douche bag but this is kinda what I do for a living (digital marketing). So it is like asking a mechanic friend to tell you how to do fix your transmission, or a lawyer to just look over some documents for you. It puts me in a weird and uncomfortable spot. I want to help, but this advice costs money for my clients and it’s my livelihood. Why would I give my livelihood away for free? Here is a good article on this subject of giving away free advice to friends.

My solution is this: I am going to blog more about this. I know there are a lot of blogs on this subject already, but I am going to do it with my twist. I am going to balance the basics with some advanced tactics along the way. The goal is to inspire folks to test, tweak, and respond with live examples and results. Let us all learn from one another with live results. Also, as an added resource please subscribe to aimClears blog. I have had the privilege to work out of Marty’s office a few years ago and stay in touch with his entire crew. I thought I was pretty awesome at Facebook ads until they opened up a few new ways of thinking about this space. That said, they made a monster out of me and now I am always trying to push targeting to the limits that may include breaking Facebook. Also, buy his book!

This is my attempt at Facebook Ads 101 with some performance hacks. Some basics to kinda set the bar and understand why this is more than just running one ad and having me sit through one cup of coffee to tell you what could be done in order to get the most out of it. 

Facebook Ads 101: Performance Hacks

Organize by Campaigns

First of all, let’s get something straight. No one just runs an ad. You run a campaign. Set your campaign budget and time range of the campaign, then run a minimum of 4 6 ads per budget. I don’t care if you are running a small $100 campaign or a $10,000 campaign, with various ad placements (mobile, desktop, news feed, right rail, etc.) you must test what placement your ad is performing best. You never just run one ad.

You must multivariate test the crap out of each ad unit. There are way too many variables as to why an ad is gaining traction or not. Variables like, the image, the header, the copy, and even the target audience. You can never put faith into one ad, there are just too many variables. Here is a matrix of ad placement based on performance, objective, and resources for delivery:

I manage campaigns by an audience. This means that each campaign gets one audience. I then compare audience performance by each campaign. Each budget I will run a minimum two campaigns with two audiences. This is my first A/B test, which audience is performing better?

Any adjustments I make to one set of ads, I make sure to make the same adjustments in the other campaign for consistency. At this point, if we continue with the $100 example, you are looking at 8-12 ads and two campaigns, optimized daily.

Yeah, its a lot of work. Most people run an ad or a few, and then get no results and feel Facebook ads are not a wise investment, which is ok. That gives us professionals more inventory to play with optimized ads. Results take management time!

Here is one one small campaign with 4 placements and one audience looks like. Remember I test at minimum two audiences per campaign so multiply the below campaign by 2:

Facebook Campaign Management

A critical piece of information is the frequency of the Facebook ad. Frequency is the average amount of times the typical user in your target audience has seen your ad. The smaller the audience, the more careful you have to be with the frequency. In the below image you can see an audience of 10k 15k with a frequency of 1.5-ish. I can push the Frequency upwards to 3 times in a small audience before I start seeing an ad burnout. Just make sure that in your A/B testing, that frequency is not an impact in your decline in actions.

Ad Burnout

Tweaks and Hacks for increased CTR / ROI

Lets break down the anatomy of a Facebook ads. There are many types of ads as showcased in the above matrix (sponsored post, news feed, mobile, mobile app install, event, Like-gate, etc.). For the purposes of Facebook Ads: Performance 101, I will only showcase some right rail, desktop only, ad hacks that work. These are the ad units most are familiar with:

Some of the more effective hacks are to play around with the image. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a Photoshop expert. There is a free image editing site I use called Luna Pic.

Some of the most effective tricks to the image is to put a different color border around the image. A subtle drop shadow effect, and even giving a punch to the image with a little yellow/green gamma. I have seen double the CTR with these tricks than without, in the above A/B testing model. Same copy, same picture, same audience. The only difference is these subtle adjustments.

Tip: Use Pinterest to find images. They are already socially tested. The images with higher re-pins tend to get great CTR on Facebook ads. 

Don’t go overboard and push the image into the land of ugly or annoying where the user will not click. Remember to adjust and test. When you see the CTRs go down, you pushed too far.

Warning (ranting coming): Treat the click-thru-promise like a religion. I cannot say this enough. The click-thru-promise is when you convey a message, a feeling, or take advantage of a user envisioned intent through an ad.

You MUST follow through with that on the click-thru and on the landing page. You must give users what they think they will be getting. This is where most marketers fail with Facebook advertising. If you use a meme, a lolcat, or some other funny image that has nothing to do with the landing page, then you are paying for clicks and not conversions. You might as well be using your budget for toilet paper.

If an image is funny and you are getting clicks, it does not mean you are converting. Make sure that the ad image and text mirror the landing page with the same, cleaner image and message. Do not bait and switch. Bait and switch are why people hate us, marketers. Stop making me look bad. /rant.

Gaming the Bidding System

Hack Facebook AdsFacebook obviously gives preference to higher bids. I build my campaign higher that what I am budgeted for, and bid manually for actions higher than the suggested bid. Once the inventory is opened up and the ad begins to be delivered, I throttle the bidding down under the suggested bid and bring my campaign spend back to my budget. This has always opened up faster delivery of ads and higher impressions for me.

Facebook Drip Marketing via Ads

Also, manage how you bid effectively. Nurture them along with a Facebook Ad Drip Strategy. Think of it as a funnel. Bidding to a wider audience at the top of the funnel, bid CPC and de-incentivize the click. Send them branded messaging to keep the brand at the top of their minds.

Example: Blah blah blah BRAND NAME. Blah Blah Blah BRAND NAME with BRAND LOGO. These are not built to compel. These are built to burn the brand into the memory of your target audience. You don’t want to send the user a compelling call-to-action just yet. Send them strongly branded messages through CPC, and get some free Facebook advertising out of this. If someone actually clicks through, then I would call that a highly qualified user. That click is worth the $$.

Then, after your frequency is at 5-6 to a targeted audience, push a strong call-to-action connected to the brand they have burned into their minds. Send the user to a conversion page that will collect the UID or email of the user. The call-to-action should be an inquiry. If a user jumps through that hoop and converts with the strong click-through-promise, then not only did you respond to the user’s intent, you converted and now have a unique identifier. Congratulations!

Take those collected emails or UID from that specific campaign, and upload them to a Custom Audience within the Power Editor. Now you have an opt-in audience that is already engaged with your brand. So from here on outbid via CPM. They already trust you enough to give you an email address, why not maximize your spend and keep that channel alive. When they click now, your cost per action will be dramatically less.

Wow okay. I didn’t realize how much was in my head on simply running your first campaign. If you are still reading, I am impressed.

Do you see why a simple coffee –or hell, a bottle of Laphroaig– won’t cut it? If you want ROI on your Facebook ads, you have one of three options:

  1. Learn a lot. You can keep coming back as I update on this subject. My next posts will be about hyper-targeting, persona marketing, custom audience vs. lookalike audience fine tuning, content marketing (framing the content) for promoted posts, 3rd party data (such as DMV data), and retargeting with Facebooks Ad Exchange.
  2. Hire a professional in-house and a team to do this. It takes a team. I know some folks that I have hired in the past if you are looking for a few good people. Hit me up, and Ill hook you up.
  3. Outsource this to professionals. Like us over at Voice Media Group. Just saying. 😉

Hopefully, this gave you some insight that this Facebook advertising game is not simply running some ads. This is why agencies charge 25% management fees it takes time! That said, before you run away from ever marketing on Facebook, let me remind you of the first image on this post. Yeah, +1,500 highly qualifies clicks for $110. Where on the web can you get that ROI?

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