Are you considering advertising your business on Facebook or Instagram?
But maybe you’re not sure how to get the best start for your business?
In this article, I’ll guide you through the 5 most important things you need to know before you start Facebook ads and launch your first ad campaigns, boosting your chances of success.
The power of Facebook advertising
By now, it’s probably not news that Facebook has the most advanced targeting capabilities and versatile ad formats of any advertising platform on the internet. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that there are now over 7 million global advertisers, making ad costs continue to increase over the years due to the growing number of competitors bidding to place their ad in front on the same group of users.
Another reason it’s easier to start Facebook ads and they are such a popular choice for almost any marketer out here is because of its ease of access and how anyone can set up a Facebook ad within merely a few minutes. Additionally, Facebook is such an attractive option because it allows newer, less experienced marketers to use the Boost functionality, resulting in little to no barrier to entry. However, this means that new advertisers can all too easily jump on the platform, start Boost posts or running full ad campaigns, all whilst having very little knowledge. As a result, those who start Facebook ads without too much experience find themselves quickly losing money due to the sudden accumulation of mistakes with their campaigns.
Before you set your next campaign live, make sure you’ve considered the following points, so you are in the best position to see great results from your advertising.
#1 Create your Facebook ad strategy and discover your implementation type
All successful marketing starts with a clear strategy and Facebook advertising is no exception. Making sure you have a solid strategy in place to build around your marketing assets before you start Facebook ads allows you to confidently implement campaigns that will deliver the best results for your business in the fastest time possible.
The strategy should aim to move someone from being a complete stranger, all the way through the customer journey, to eventually becoming a paying customer. This can be achieved through a series of ad campaigns, known as a Facebook ad funnel.
There are three stages to a successful Facebook ad funnel. They are Awareness, Level 1 Remarketing (also known as Engagement remarketing) and Level 2 Remarketing (also called Website remarketing).
At the top of the ad funnel is the Awareness stage. The goal here is to increase brand awareness for your business. In doing so, you are also building recognition in the Newsfeed, which is important for stages we’ll discuss for further down the funnel. Increasing awareness will also help to boost business credibility and ensure your audience starts seeing you as an authority figure in your business.
The second stage is Engagement remarketing. This stage of the funnel aims to build consideration of your products or services in the minds of your target audience. You are driving people from Facebook or Instagram to your website to find out more and to purchase.
The third stage is Website remarketing. Here, driving sales and leads by engaging people who have visited your website is the end goal.
For a full breakdown of each stage click here.
When you start Facebook advertising, you always want to begin the funnel implementation with the Awareness stage as these campaigns target cold audiences of new people and don’t use existing audiences.
Whether you implement the two other funnel stages, Engagement and Website remarketing will depend on your answers to the following two questions.
#1 Do you have pixeled website traffic?
If your answer is YES, then you want to implement what we call an “Easy Wins Website” implementation which is where you launch both Awareness and Website remarketing campaigns at the same time.
If you answered NO, move on to the second question which is:
#2 Do you have other existing engaged audiences?
These are engagement-based custom audiences and include video viewers and page or Instagram profile engagers. If you answer YES to this question you can implement middle of the funnel, Level 1 (Engagement) remarketing campaigns.
If you start Facebook ads and don’t yet have any website traffic but do have other existing engaged audiences, then you opt for an “Easy Wins Engagement” implementation. Your strategy should start with Awareness and Level 1 Remarketing campaigns.
However, if you already have website traffic AND other engaged audiences as well, the strategy you should aim to construct is called an “All-in-One” implementation. Here, you start all campaigns with the following stages in the order given; Awareness, Level 1 and Level 2 Remarketing.
If you answered NO to both questions, meaning you have no pixeled data from your website traffic or existing engaged audiences, then you will need to do a “From Scratch” implementation; this involves starting at the Awareness stage. Once you have enough engaged audiences, you can begin implementing Level 1 Remarketing, which works to drive traffic to your site. After having gained enough website traffic, you can now start implementing Level 2 Website remarketing.
#2 Setup your Pixel and choose your settings
After having created your strategy, you need to set up and install your Facebook Pixel and conversion tracking. The work you do researching and setting up new Facebook ad campaigns will all be for nothing if you fail to track the results. You’ll be missing out on all the incredibly useful data you could have collected and fed back into Facebook’s backend to further optimise campaigns and help the platform’s algorithm find your perfect audience demographic.
If you don’t install the Facebook Pixel to track conversion events when you start Facebook ads, you’ll have no way of knowing if your campaigns are profitable or are delivering the desired results; this means you won’t be able to measure your Return-on-Ad-Spend (ROAS).
When it comes to Facebook data-tracking, it can be broken down into two parts. The first is the Facebook Pixel, which is a piece of code that you install across your whole website. It allows you to build website custom audiences so you can target your website visitors with Facebook ads.
The second is conversion events, also known as standard events. These are specific actions that someone takes on your website that you can track and attribute to your ad campaigns, including product page views, add to cart, initiate checkout, purchases and leads. To install the Facebook Pixel and conversion events click here for a full walkthrough.
Once you have installed the Pixel and event tracking ensure the following advanced settings are turned on, an incredibly powerful feature to enable when you start Facebook ads. These are small details that can make a big difference to your Pixel effectiveness.
Navigate to your events manager and from the drop down icon list select Settings.
The first setting will be your Cookie settings. It’s important to change it to First party if it is set to Third party, resulting in your pixel being implemented on your website and read by browsers as main code, rather than as a third party, meaning it won’t be excluded from your site.
At the same time, check that auto Advanced matching is turned on. This is the second advanced Pixel option you need to ensure you have turned on. After auto Advanced matching having been switched on, you’ll now be able to track additional Pixel data known as microdata. This is highly beneficial when you start Facebook ads, as it’ll allow you to see a higher attribution and match rate for event actions and website custom audience sizes.
#3 Decide what offers you are going to promote
Next, before launching your Facebook advertising campaigns, you need to decide on which product or service it is that you want to promote and the offers you want to use to do so. Time and time again, we’ve seen offers to be the best way to entice new potential customers when you start Facebook ads in order to convert your audience into buyers for our clients, here at the agency. What offer you promote will depend on what you sell.
For example, for businesses where you sell a product online, either physical or intangible, you want to use discounts. Despite their simplicity, discounts are very effective. You’ve almost certainly seen an ad in your Newsfeed that says something like: “Get 10% off when you use promo code FB10 at checkout”.
For new customer acquisition, they immediately work to reduce the financial barrier to entry for your target audience to purchase, therefore minimizing any previously risk associated with purchasing from a new and unfamiliar company.
TIP: When considering what discount offer is right for your product when you start Facebook ads, use the highest possible one you can afford and calculate it with the repeat purchase rate and lifetime customer value in mind, not just the value of their first purchase.
For service-based businesses, a great way to increase the chances of your audience converting to paying customers, either in-store or on the phone, is through offering a ‘free consultation’.
These work exceptionally well for service providers, with a high average client value (ACV) of thousands of dollars. The high ACV means you can front load your acquisition time by providing the consultation for free because when someone converts into a client, the cost is more than recovered later on during the customer journey because of the amount they spend, in thousands of pounds or dollars, during the immediate purchase of service, or over their lifetime as a customer.
#4 Determine the best creative assets
After having chosen the offer you want to use to promote your product or service when you start Facebook ads, you can move on to choosing your ad creative, otherwise known as the images or videos you use in your ads.
This part of your ad creation is incredibly important since it is the part of the ad which is going to grab your target audience’s attention in the Newsfeed and achieve the ‘scroll-stopping’ effect every marketer is striving for. If you successfully hook them with your ad creative, they are highly likely to consume the rest of your ad. As a result, you need to have colourful, eye-catching images or videos. There is no one type that performs better so you want to use a mix of images and video.
TIP: When it comes to choosing product photos to use in your ad campaigns, we’ve found the most successful advertisers use branded lifestyle product photos. Basic product photos on a plain white background won’t cut it anymore.
When using a mix of images and videos you’ll be using different ad formats as well. For example, create three variations of an ad each with different creative. One version of a single image ad, one version of a video ad and then one version using the carousel ad format. For videos keep them short, under 1 minute. If they are just of your product and aren’t demo or explainer style then cut them down to 15-30 seconds.
#5 Create your target audiences in your Audiences dashboard
Before creating any ad campaigns highlighted in your strategy implementation, you first want to create the audiences you are going to target when you first start Facebook ads. There are three categories of audiences on Facebook: Cold, Warm or Hot. It’s also common to refer to these audience types as audience temperatures. Each temperature correlates with different audience types as well as a stage in your Facebook ad funnel.
First up: Cold audiences. This audience contains people who have yet to hear about your brand and are complete strangers to your business. They are incredibly important for any marketer since they are the foundation of sustainable Facebook advertising and are the starting point for the majority of people who will become your customers from your ad campaigns as you initially start Facebook advertising.
They are the largest of the three audience temperatures and include Saved audiences and Lookalike audiences.
Next, we have Warm audiences. In this group, people have previously engaged with your business on a Facebook-owned property, whether that be via organic or paid content. These are Facebook custom audiences, excluding website.
Finally, we’ve got Hot audiences. These contain people who have visited your website previously and are familiar with your business but have not converted into customers or clients. You create these by using the website custom audience feature.
For all implementation types you want to create your Cold audiences. These are the interest saved audiences and your Lookalike audiences.
But before creating your Lookalike audiences, you need to create your source audiences upon which your Lookalike audiences will be built from. With 9 different custom audience types that you can use to create your source audiences, you want to use the one that will deliver the best results and that depends on what marketing assets you have in your business.
For example, if you have a large database of customers when you start Facebook ads, you want to create a Customer File Custom Audience and use that as your source audience. This will deliver the highest quality of Lookalike as you are essentially cloning your customers.
Also, by creating your source audiences for your Lookalike audiences, you will have also created some of your Warm and Hot audiences such as Page Engagement custom audiences and Website custom audiences.
Now you want to finish creating the rest of your Warm and Hot audiences which you are going to use in your Engagement and Website remarketing campaigns.
For a detailed guide on how to create Website custom audiences click here
TIP: With Website custom audiences start with an audience for all traffic in the last 180 days, then create one for 90, 60, 30, 14, 10 and 3 days. Although you might only have enough people to run a campaign to the 180 days audience at the moment, when you start driving people to your website, the audience size of the other durations will start to increase and eventually you’ll be able to test the other audience durations for effectiveness.
By following the points outlined in this article you can create a solid foundation upon which to build successful Facebook advertising campaigns.
First, when you start Facebook ads, you want to create your strategy which will outline the campaigns and audiences you need to implement in order to get the best results in the shortest time possible.
Next you want to ensure your Facebook Pixel and conversion events are installed so you can track your results and build Website custom audiences.
Then decide what products or services you want to promote and the offers you are going to use as well as the ad creative you are going to display in your ads and finally, you want to build your audiences.
Once you’ve done all that you can build your ad campaigns and launch them to start generating new leads or sales for your business.
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).