How to determine your first Facebook ad campaign

How to determine your first Facebook ad campaign

Know that you should be advertising your business on Facebook?

But not sure where to start?

Or have seen the campaigns you’ve tried fail to deliver the results you want?

Well, you’re in the right place. 

In this article, you’ll discover how to determine your first Facebook ad campaign based on the marketing assets you currently have in your business. 

Facebook advertising is more complicated than ever

We all have to start at the beginning, so the idea of running full ad campaigns on Facebook, as opposed to just boosting posts, can be an incredibly daunting concept, especially when faced with the plethora of different options. 

BAD NEWS: Facebook is no longer the new, simple platform it once was back in 2012; there are now 14 different campaign objectives to choose from… and that’s just at the start of the campaign creation process. 

objective selection first facebook ad campaign

GOOD NEWS: If you keep reading, you’ll be guided through a step-by-step process on how to determine your first Facebook ad campaign.

There are multiple audience types that need to be considered when we get to the Ad Set level: cold, warm and hot, including interests, lookalikes, video engagement, page engagement and website custom audiences to name just a few. Additionally, you’re then faced with 15 different placements to choose from, some of which will deliver better results than others and, consequently, will have a significant impact on the performance of your campaign.

Finally, when we get to the Ad Level of the Facebook ad campaign, Facebook throws even more decisions your way, such as what ad format to use, what headline, what call to action etc.

The overall number of decisions you have to make when creating Facebook ads can be immensely overwhelming at first glance. If just one component is not fully optimal or even incorrect, the impact on your campaign performance can be both drastic and negative. Even more so, setting up campaigns is just the start! The real work begins when your campaign goes live and you have to actively manage it to reduce the impact of ad fatigue.

How to determine what your first set of Facebook ad campaigns should be?

Using the process outlined below, you’ll have the best start to your Facebook advertising by creating the most profitable campaigns first, based on your marketing assets and the different audience temperatures you can target on Facebook and Instagram.

If you already have the Facebook pixel installed on your website and have more than a few thousand visitors to your website each month, the ideal campaign to start with is website remarketing. 

If you don’t yet have pixeled website traffic, consider what audiences you can target that are warm; these would be people who have engaged with your video content on Facebook, your Facebook page or Instagram business profile. 

Facebook advertising different audience temperatures .

If you don’t have any of those audiences, don’t worry…there’s still hope! You should start targeting cold audiences: use the SAS process to determine what Lookalike audiences you should create first and test them alongside regular interest audiences related to your business industry.

Let’s now look at each of these campaign types in turn.


Implementation #1 Website remarketing targeting hot audiences

Firstly, look at your website to identify whether you’ve already installed the Facebook pixel. If you have, and you have multiple thousands of people, who have visited your website in the last 30 days, you can start by implementing an “easy wins” campaign, also known as Level 2 remarketing or ‘website remarketing’. 

The name “easy wins” refers to how the campaign is set to target only the highest quality of the three audience temperatures: hot. This audiences is derived from your website traffic using Facebook’s website custom audience feature. Here is your opportunity to present an offer (preferably an irrefutable one) to the people who have visited your website but have not yet been converted into a lead or customer.

If you haven’t yet installed your Facebook pixel and set up the necessary conversion tracking, click here to learn how to install the Facebook pixel. 

How to build a website remarketing campaign to target people ready to buy from you

Creating your website custom audience is the first step here; this will contain the people who have successfully been pixeled when they have visited your website.

Locate the Audiences tab in Ads Manager by clicking on the Ads Manager main menu and in the Assets column click on Audiences.

Facebook Ads Manager main menu

Next, when your audience tab opens, click on ‘Create Audience’ and from the dropdown list choose ‘Custom audience’. Then, from the “use your sources” section select ‘Website traffic’, opening the website custom audience creation window.

Facebook Custom Audience main menu

 Along with your Facebook pixel, check that “ANY” is selected whilst in the process of creating a website custom audience. Next, leave the condition section as “All website visitors”, whilst also changing the duration to 180 days. This will create the largest size of website custom audience, capturing all potential leads or customers. This method is particularly useful if you have a small volume of traffic, say a few thousand people who visit each month, as it allows you to optimise your chances of converting a visitor. 

Currently, this audience will also contain people who have converted on your website into leads or customers.  However, we don’t want to waste our marketing budget by showing ads to already converted customers, and so the inclusion of an exclusion command is necessary for the relevant standard event, such as purchases or leads.

Website Custom Audience creation main menu last 180 days excluded purchases

To do this, click on Exclude and in the new field, select the condition desired and follow this by selecting the relevant event from the drop down, which in this case is Purchases. Next, as done with the first condition, change the audience duration to 180 days, to include the most people in your audience.

To recap, this audience will group all visitors to your website in the last 180 days whilst simultaneously excluding people whom have triggered the purchase event action during that time-frame; this leaves us with a highly qualified audience of people who have shown interest by viewing your website but not yet decided to convert into a customer.

Add a Purchase or Lead exclusion condition to prevent customers or leads from seeing the campaign.

Next, you want to repeat the process outlined above differing only in the audience duration day number. Create the following website custom audience durations: 90 days, 60 days, 30 days, 14 days, 10 days and 3 days. You can test these after the 180 day audience duration. The more consistent website traffic you have the smaller audience duration you can use to create the most responsive website custom audience.

TIP: If this is your first website remarketing campaign and you aren’t running any other ads, which are driving people to your website, you want to start with the Traffic objective, optimising for Landing Page views.

Now you need to create your campaign.

As with all campaigns, we start at the campaign level by selecting the objective. 

If you are currently running any other Facebook ads that drive people to your website through which you are generating some end results, (such as purchases or leads), then use the ‘Conversion objective,’ optimising for the ‘Purchase event’ action or the ‘Lead event’ action.

In Ads Manager, select ‘create campaign’ then ‘Traffic objective’ from the quick creation workflow dropdown list. Name your campaign (ideally something simple and self-explanatory), ad set and ad and click on Save to Draft.

Select Traffic from the campaign objective drop down when creating a new campaign

Once the draft campaign has loaded, navigate to the Ad Set level to set your budget, website custom audience and to choose your placements and bidding and optimisation settings. 

First, set your budget. Considering website remarketing audiences have the smallest number of people in them compared to Warm or Cold audiences, they should thus represent your lowest budget, despite these campaigns being the most effective. As a guide, start with $10 per 1000 people matched in your website custom audience.

Now you can move on to the ‘Audience section’.

In the ‘Custom Audience’ field, select the 180 day website custom audience we created earlier in the article. You don’t need to set any other targeting options as the website custom audience has already narrowed the audience.

Select website custom audience in custom audience field

Next, move to the ‘Placements’ section and select ‘Edit Placements’. When the Placement list appears, choose ‘Feeds on Facebook’ and ‘Feeds on Instagram’. However, only select Instagram placement if your marketing strategy and customer personas involve and are active on Instagram.

Finally, in the ‘Delivery and Optimisation’ settings change the optimisation from ‘Link click’ to ‘Landing Pages Views’.

Select landing page views from the optimisation and ad delivery dropdown.

Finish the campaign with the ‘Testimonial ad type’.

Finally, move to the Ad level where we’ll use the ‘Testimonial ad type’, an important component of the RTM Method. 

In the Testimonial ad, the use of social proof through the words of a previous customer, placed alongside a product or service offer, starts building trust with your target audience. This increases the likelihood of organic engagement with your ads and the return of this new potential customer back to your website, whom will hopefully convert to a paying customer or lead.

Unfortunately, there is no single ‘most effective’ ad format for this type of campaign. However, when using video ads in any other campaigns that are driving traffic to your website, we’ve found a format change to single image significantly changes what your audience will see in their Newsfeed.

At the Ad level of your campaign, select the single image/video ad format. Then move on to image selection.

Click on Select Image and from your image library choose an image that you’ve already uploaded or simply upload a new one from your computer. 

Ensure the image correlates to the relevant offer being promoted in the ad: for example, if you are an eCommerce company, take your ‘best seller’ and make it the focus of the ad. The same goes for service providers, but conversely use your most popular service. 

TIP: With single image ads, try to use an image which has a 1:1 square ratio in the Newsfeed as the screen space they occupy is maximal and thus optimal when compared to rectangular 16:9 images.

Choosing image from ad image selection in ad library or computer

Moving on to the text section of your ad, also known as the copy. Here, you want to adopt the following copy structure. 

  • Testimonial
  • Offer
  • More Social Proof (Optional)
  • Call to Action

Start your ad with the testimonial itself, followed by your promotional offer, for example, a discount on your best selling product or a free consultation for your service. Then, add any other social proof, such as overall ranking on review websites or how many customers you have. Finish with a strong and clear Call to Action for the potential customer to take advantage of the offer, inducing a sense of urgency.

Facebook ad copy structure for website remarketing ad

Completing the final components in your Ad creation involves adding the link to the relevant page on your website, adding a suitable headline which appears under your image, creating the Newsfeed link description and choosing a Call to Action button.

For your website link, don’t just link to a generic page such as your homepage. Instead, link to the page that is relevant to the product or service you are promoting in the ad.

It is advised to repeat your offer as your headline, such as the discount on the product you are offering or the free consultation for the service, to enforce clarity and congruency, which again helps with building customer trust. If you are presenting a discount with a code your audience can use, repeat it as your Newsfeed link description. 

Lastly, choose the most relevant Call to Action button. If you want your audience to buy from you, the Shop Now call to action is the best. If you are generating leads, the Sign Up call to action can work well.

Select call to action for Facebook ad campaign shop now

Implementation #2 Engagement remarketing targeting warm audiences

When deciding your first Facebook ad campaign th second type of implementation involves using custom audiences to target warm audiences of people who have engaged with your business on Facebook or Instagram.

How to build an engagement remarketing campaign to target people who have interacted with your business on Facebook or Instagram

Follow the steps outlined in the website remarketing campaign creation above, making sure to start with audience creation, followed by campaign creation but make the following changes.

#1 Create your Custom Audiences, but this time instead of Website traffic create one using the Page engagement condition and one using Instagram business profile engagement condition. For a guided step-by-step on how to create these custom audiences click here.

Facebook ad custom audience creation Facebook page engagement creation window

#2 Use the same campaign objective of ‘Traffic’ but simply change your audience at the Ad Set level of your campaign to your ‘Facebook Page Engagement Custom Audience’. Again, you don’t need to narrow the audience anymore using the detailed target feature as the engagement condition has already narrowed it enough.

Double-check that ‘Landing Page Views’ has been selected in the optimisation and delivery section.

#3 When targeting these types of warm audiences, you should aim to present an offer in your ad that will drive website traffic and increase sales or leads. Therefore, at the Ad level use the SBA copy method to introduce a product or service offering and link to the relevant page on your website. 

#4 Review and publish your new Facebook page engagement remarketing campaign, followed by the duplication of the ad set where you only need change the targeting to the other engagement custom audience for Instagram. 

Duplicate ad set Facebook warm audience campaign

You’ll then have a campaign with two ad sets, one targeting Facebook page engagement and one targeting Instagram profile engagement.

#5 At the Ad level of the new ad set targeting Instagram engagement, select “Use Existing Post” and from the selection matrix click on ad post and then choose the same ad that you just created in the Facebook page engagement ad set.

Existing post feature choose ad created in facebook page engagement ad set

Implementation #3 Campaign targeting cold audiences

The final campaign type you can implement as your first Facebook ad campaign targets cold audiences and is known as a “Cold Purchase Test”. The aim of this strategy is to trigger the hyper responsive segment of your cold audience who will buy straight from the offer ad you place in front of them.

Start with this implementation method if you do not have any website traffic you can remarket or any engagement audiences. However, be careful to not solely rely on this type of campaign for optimal results, as you will eventually fatigue the hyper responsive audience segment and your cost per acquisition will begin to increase. 

Once you have ad engagement and website visitors, you can then implement the other two types of campaigns alongside this one.

How to build a “Purchase Test” campaign targeting cold audiences

Again, follow the steps outlined in the website remarketing campaign creation process above, but make the following adaptations to your audience and campaign creation.

#1 Create Saved audiences based on the interests related to your industry and any relevant Lookalike audiences, using the SAS Process.

Lookalike audience creation in test cold purchase Facebook ad campaign using SAS process

#2 Keep the same campaign objective of ‘Traffic’, optimising for ‘Landing Page Views’, whilst ensuring you change your audience at the Ad Set level to one of the Saved interest audiences or Lookalike audiences you created in step 1 above.

#3 Use the same SBA Copy Method as covered in the campaign creation targeting warm audiences to present a relevant, incentivised offer to your cold audiences. The end goal here is to drive website traffic and build consideration, whilst also starting to populate your pixeled website visitors so you can implement website remarketing campaigns as soon as possible.


There you have it, how to determine your first Facebook ad campaign based on what audiences and marketing assets you have in your business. 

The implementation you do will depend on what audiences you have previously built up, starting with the website visitors as the hottest audience and then warm audiences of people who have engaged with your business on Facebook and finally cold audiences of new people who are yet to discover your business.

What do you think?

What campaign type are you going to create first?

Let me know by leaving a quick comment below.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is FACEBOOK-ADVERTISING-RS-670.png

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).

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