Can’t decide between using the Traffic objective or Conversion objective for your Facebook ads?
Not sure where to start?
In this article, you’ll discover when to use each objective to deliver the best results.
Why objectives matter?
The objective you set when you create your campaign has a huge impact on your results. It is what defines the outcome of your campaigns and is therefore the most important element to get right.
The two most popular objectives are Traffic and Conversion and on the surface these look like they do the same thing, but your results vary wildly depending on which one you use and what type of ads you are running within the campaign.
If you choose the wrong objective, you can waste your ad spend budget and see little in return. The main thing to understand about Facebook ad objectives is that Facebook will focus on showing your ads to people most likely to take the action set by your objective.
For example, if you choose video views, Facebook will show your ads to people who watch lots of videos on the platform. If you use the Traffic objective then they will show ads to people who click on lots of ads and if you use the Conversion objective optimising for standard events, such as purchases, they’ll show your ads to people most likely to take that event action such as purchase of your product.
The algorithm works by segmenting people into buckets based on how likely they are to take your objective action, such as click on your ad using the Traffic objective to send people to Messenger to start an easy conversation or trigger the conversion event you optimise for when using the Conversion objective.
If you are a winner in the ad auction, Facebook will show your ads to people they have bucketed into the most likely to take that action. Then over time, as ad fatigue becomes an issue or when you scale your campaigns and there are no more people left in that bucket, they move to the next one of people quite likely to take your campaign objective action and that is when your cost per results start to increase.
What objective should you use to get the best results
With your objective being such an important element of your Facebook advertising, you need to be using the right one to get the best results. The two main options to drive people to you website to find out more about your business and to convert into a customer or lead are the Traffic and Conversion objective.
As I previously mentioned, on the surface they do the same thing, drive people from Facebook or whatever placement you have selected in your campaign to your website. However, if you run the exact same audience and same ad but use the two different objectives you’ll get completely different results.
So, what objective should you use?
Traffic or the Conversion objective?
Most of the time you want to use the Conversion objective optimising for the event action that matters most to your business. For example, if you are an eCommerce business and sell a product online, such as a physical good or information via courses, then you want to use the Conversion objective optimising for the Purchase event action.
Whereas, if you are a service business then you want to use the Conversion objective optimising for the lead event which fires after someone has enquired to your business. Facebook’s algorithm is now so good at identifying people likely to align with your objective conversion event action that you want to optimise for the event action that matters most to your business.
However, there is one situation when the Conversion objective is unlikely to work, and you’ll need to use the Traffic objective to get you started. This is when you have a brand new pixel on your website and it hasn’t gathered enough data to optimise for a conversion event effectively.
When this is the case you want to start by using the Traffic objective. Then, once you have gathered enough event actions from the people who have visited your website, you can switch your objective to conversions optimising for an event action within your sales funnel. We call this process objective stacking.
Let’s now look at how to implement objective stacking.
Setup the Facebook pixel and conversion events
Before you use either of these objectives you need to install the Facebook pixel and conversion events, otherwise you won’t be able to optimise your traffic campaign for landing page views or your conversion campaign for an event action.
The Facebook pixel is a piece of code that you install on your website and it tracks the behaviour of your visitors. You then add conversion actions called standard events to the base code on specific pages or buttons that reflect an important action to your business. For example, the Purchase event on a “Place order” button click or a Lead event on the thank you page that loads after someone has submitted an enquiry.
For a full walk through of how to install the Facebook pixel and the different conversion events on your website, click here.
With the pixel now installed we can get down to creating our first Traffic campaign. Remember, you only want to do this if you have little to no pixel events recorded by your Facebook pixel. If you have generated hundreds or thousands of pixeled event actions such as Add to cart, Checkout, Purchase or Leads skip this section and move onto the types of campaigns you can run with the Conversion objective.
Use the Traffic objective first if you have a new pixel
First, we’re going to cover how to build a Traffic campaign then we’ll look at when to switch it to the Conversion objective and the different ways you can use the Conversion objective.
In your Ads Manager dashboard, click on create campaign. You’ll then be presented with two options to create your campaign, Guided creation or Quick creation.
In this example, we are going to use the Quick creation workflow. Once you have selected that, name your campaign, ad set and ad and from the dropdown list select the Traffic objective. Leave split test and Campaign budget optimisation turned off.
Once you have set your campaign level settings including choosing the Traffic objective, move to the ad set level of your campaign. This type of campaign is best used in the middle of your sales funnel for Engagement Remarketing such as targeting video viewers or page engagers.
You can also use it for cold purchase/lead test campaigns, where you target Cold audiences such as interests or Lookalike audiences, with product or service offer ads to drive people to your website. By doing this you are triggering the hyper responsive people in your target audiences, who are ready to buy now and can generate leads or sales straight from these campaigns.
Regardless of which audience you are targeting, Cold or Warm, you want to use the same positioning in your ads. That is product or service ads that utilise some type of offer which reduces the barrier to entry for your audience to buy.
For eCommerce or anyone selling something where your customers pay online, discounts work extremely well. For local service businesses, complimentary consultations make a great offer and for software business Free trials are an excellent way to onboard potential customers.
In your ad set either create or select your target audience. If you are using the campaign for Engagement Remarketing then choose your page engagers, if you are using it for cold purchase/lead test campaigns then set your cold Lookalike or Interest audience.
After you have selected your audiences move to the placement section. When using the Traffic objective you want edit your placements and select only the most valuable ones. In this case we want Facebook and Instagram Feeds as well as Stories.
If you set automatic placements and let Facebook determine what placements to serve your ads then you’ll find that the majority of your reach will be on the Audience network. It delivers super cheap clicks which on the surface sounds great but the quality of the traffic is terrible and no one will convert.
The final part of creating your ad set in your traffic campaign is to set your optimisation. By default link clicks are enabled but you want to change that to optimising for landing page views.
Link clicks contain people that only click on your ad whereas landing page views looks for people who click on your ad and stay to load the page, which then triggers the landing page view event on your Facebook pixel.
PRO TIP: When running either the Traffic or the Conversion objective always monitor your link clicks to landing page view ratio. If you see a large discrepancy in the number of landing page views to link clicks that means that people aren’t staying to load the page and more often than not it is because you have a slow page load speed.
With your ad set complete, move to the ad level of your traffic campaign. Here you want to create product or service ads, that we covered earlier, that position an offer to encourage your audience to convert into customers or clients. For example, this product ad that uses a discount to promote gift boxes.
You’ve now created your traffic campaign. Once this is running and you are generating landing page views, monitor the conversion events that you have installed on your website to see how many are being triggered by the new traffic on your website.
After you have built up enough event fires, typically over 100 but ideally closer to 500, then you can start the process of objective stacking.
To see how many event actions are being recorded, navigate to Events Manager and in the main pixel dashboard below the graph you’ll see all of the events that are being tracked and how many actions have been recorded. Use the date picker in the top right corner to select a relevant date range since you launched your traffic campaign.
Use objective stacking to move from the Traffic to the Conversion objective
Once you have enough pixeled event actions as mentioned above, you then want to objective stack and switch to using the Conversion objective optimising for the standard event that matters most to your business.
The first thing you need to do is to duplicate your traffic campaign. To do this select your traffic campaign and click on the duplicate button. You then want to make the following changes to the campaign.
#1 Change the objective to conversions. You’ll see a settings message telling you that some changes will happen, click OK. In your ad set choose the standard event action that you want to optimise for. What you select will depend on how many pixel fires for each event action you’ve installed have been tracked by the pixel.
For example, if you’ve generated enough purchase event actions you can optimise for purchases. If not, you might need to move higher up your funnel and optimise for Add to cart actions or initiate Checkout actions.
#2 Change your placements from edit placements to Automatic placements. Now you are optimising for conversions and not landing page views, Facebook will prioritise the most effective placements for conversions which are Feeds on Facebook and Instagram, so you don’t have to worry about junk traffic from the Audience network.
#3 Set your conversion window as 7 days after clicking or 1 day after viewing. This will enable Facebook to gather more data to optimise your campaign compared to the 1 day click conversion window.
#4 In the ad level of your campaign use the Post ID method where you select your existing ad that you used in the traffic campaign to keep all of the social poof. You want to find the post ID for your traffic ad and then select Use existing post and paste in the ID. For a full walk through of how to do this click here.
Once you have completed these changes, set your new conversion campaign live and turn off your original traffic campaign.
Repeat this process with conversion events moving lower down your funnel until you have enough pixel data to optimise for the most valuable event action, either leads for service businesses or purchases for those that sell online.
Types of campaign you can run with the Conversion objective
There are a number of ways to use the Conversion objective. We’ve already covered using it for remarketing Warm audiences of page engagers or video viewers and how to use it for cold purchase/lead test campaigns.
The other way you can use the Conversion objective is to remarket Hot audiences of website traffic and drive new leads or sales by targeting ads at people who have visited your website but have not converted into new customers or clients.
Here are 7 different ways to target your website visitors by building website custom audiences. You can then use these audiences in a conversion campaign optimising for the event that matters most to your business and run RTM Method ads to successfully re-engage those audiences.
If you are new to Facebook advertising and don’t have a lot of recorded event actions from your Facebook pixel, you want to start by using the Traffic objective optimising for landing page views to build up the number of event actions.
Once you build up enough event actions you can objective stack and switch the campaign to the Conversion objective by duplicating the traffic campaign and using the same ad via the post ID method.
If you already have enough event actions, you can go straight in and start using the Conversion objective optimising for the event action that matters most to your business. It can be used throughout your sales funnel from Cold purchase/lead test campaigns to Engagement Remarketing and Website Remarketing campaigns.
About Charlie Lawrance
Charlie is an advertising strategist, writer, speaker, and agency owner. He’s the Founder and CEO of Gecko Squared, a Facebook and Instagram advertising agency that specialises in working with high growth clients from around the world including eCommerce, software and professional service businesses. He’s been planning and buying digital media for over 9 years since he started his first business aged just 18. Stay in touch by liking his Facebook Page (Charlie Lawrance).