Intentionally Attack Facebook Ads
[With 8 Elements of Optimal Accounts]
You’ve decided to take a bold step in a new direction: social media marketing (#SMM).
Creating a Facebook ads account and jumping into the wild world of paid promotion is a big moment in any business’ life… Congratulations!
Equipped with creativity, ambition, and an overqualified amount of personal experience with the platform, you’re fully prepared to dominate.
Don’t pop any champagne quite yet.
It’s true that there aren’t many steps involved with creating an account, throwing a few ads together, and launching a campaign. After all, Facebook is really good at making money... I mean… making their ad platform as user-friendly as possible.
While temptation to quickly bring your brand onto the social scene may exist, resist. Take the time to craft an intentionally-executed branch of your marketing endeavors. There are a lot of elements involved in doing so. If done correctly, you’ll have yourself a fruitful, long-lasting social marketing machine.
I believe you can do it.
Why so confident? Because most social platforms — including Facebook — are free to explore, cheap to test, and available to everyone. Powerful data, accessible audiences, and transparent costs are cornerstones to Facebook advertising, and have surely contributed to rapidly rising Facebook ad revenue. How one specifically takes advantage of these characteristics could be the key difference between success and failure.
Keys to Social Advertising Success
First, educate yourself. Establish a firm foundation of basic platform knowledge and industry best practices. Then, educate yourself more. Dig deeper on every aspect of Facebook ads, from format options and audience targeting to link tagging and proper attribution modeling. Finally, continue to educate yourself. Stay on top of industry news and delve into the unique, weird, and super creative minds of social marketing thought leaders. Follow news hubs and creative geniuses alike, including but not limited to: Marketing Land, Aimclear, Wordstream, Social Media Examiner, Social Media Today, Marty Weintraub, Larry Kim, and others suggested by Twitter after following said amazing advocates.
If you can't tell, I'm big on self-education. There are too many free, available resources out there. Smart people at the forefront of the industry are sharing tactics, insider tips, and proper professional techniques like crazy. Take advantage of it.
Finally, stay positive. Don’t be swayed by unknown terminology, endless abbreviations, and overwhelming amounts of pre-launch customization and post-launch pivots. Hopefully this blog series will help, as it highlights the eight elements of Facebook ads one would be wise to nail down. Let’s take a look at them at a high-level, before diving deeper in upcoming posts.
#1: Pixel placement prioritization
After creating a new account — but before doing much else — generate the account’s Facebook pixel and add it to all site pages. Place pixels today, review data and build audiences tomorrow. Take advantage of time, which is just as finite as the number of site visitors on any given day.
#2: Extensive, in-depth audience exploration
Use Facebook’s powerful data to align targeting with known and desired buyer personas. Explore demographic, interest, location, and connection-based targeting.
Utilize customer and prospect lists as low-hanging fruit and fundamental lookalike seed audiences. Filter said lookalike audiences with buyer persona targeting to better assure audience quality.
With pixel placed, use site visitor data to A) retarget visitors with ads specific to products, pages, or categories viewed, B) create visitor lookalike audiences, and C) use visitors as exclusions in any campaign focused on fresh eyes only.
#3: Thorough media exploration, evaluation, and improvement
Transform “out of the box” stock into eye-catching shock. Adjust saturation, hue, and brightness until it screams unique and is undoubtedly different than competitor counterparts. Judge with your own thumb. Would it stop scrolling if it came by this image? If not, don’t use it.
Already have custom photography? Use it (unless it’s atrocious). Well-disguised stock options do exist, but custom almost always wins. Again, if it’s not attention-grabbing, don’t use it. Don’t overvalue custom photography just because it’s “custom”.
Regardless of image type, explore adjustments. Brand color overlays, reversed logos, and tasteful effects should all be in play.
Video is great. And attention-getting optimal. And the future. And if you have interesting, short videos that deliver on brand and campaign clarity, use them alllllll day.
If you’ve ever talked with a Facebook rep, there’s a good chance they’ve mentioned something along the lines of “video, video, video”, “we’re a video platform”, “you need to be running highly influential video”, etc.
While valid, a company's ability to successfully use video depends on having at least one of a few things:
- A library of interesting, captivating, properly-cut videos
- The ability to produce said videos
- A willingness to explore stock videos (if they fit product/industry/niche)
Some companies may not have that luxury. If you fall into said category, don’t be dismayed. Image-based marketing is still a profitable, widely-used form of Facebook advertising.
Cinemagraphs are the love children of images and videos.
Images with one moving element repeating on a loop, cinemagraphs certainly catch the eye, as the brain attempts to identify what element is moving.
And that's great. Really! Anything that improves odds of a viewer stopping to look at an ad is great. Just make sure that whatever you’re promoting connects with the cinemagraph on some level and “having a cinemagraph just to have a cinemagraph” doesn’t become a thing.
It’s been well-documented that cinemagraphs tend to deliver increased click through rates and engagement, so push for their creation if possible.
While exploring available media, consider the various ad formats Facebook offers. From single image and video ads to carousel and canvas, the media you choose should fit dimensional recommendations provided by Facebook.
#4: Proper account structure & mapping
Brainstorm potential account structures, choose the most effective and manageable option, map it out, and build accordingly.
Review the three levels of a Facebook ads account to confirm your chosen structure:
- Campaign: Where campaign objective (very important) and overall budget cap (with an intriguing, new optimization feature) lives
- Ad Set: Where audience targeting lives and where bids/budgets are set
- Ad: Where the actual ad can be found, including copy, images, links, and call-to-action buttons
Some may recommend account organization that mirrors website layout, departments you will be serving, or giving each product its own campaign. While decent at face value, they may not properly align with Facebook-specific campaign objectives like video views, website traffic, or post-click conversions. Each of these objectives need their own campaign to maximize Facebook’s algorithmic data optimization. Whichever structure is chosen, make sure to break out campaigns by organizational element (i.e. “Clothing” vs “Electronics") AND objective (i.e. “link clicks” vs “video views”).
#5: Brilliant copywriting
After placing your pixel, confirming target audience, investigating available media, and mapping account structure, start writing ads.
Notice this happens before ever actually building anything out in-channel. Measure twice, cut once.
Consider setting up a funneled creative approach that mirrors account structure and user experience. Planning on setting up two, three, five layers of targeting and retargeting? Then address the relationship you’re cultivating with creative. Speak to the individual, based on who they are (demographic/interest targeting) and how they’ve already experienced your brand. Maybe they visited your site’s “shoes” or “accessories” page, downloaded a niche industry white paper last month, or visited various case study pages but didn't take a prompted action. All represent specific consumer journeys you are aware of and should use in follow-up creative.
Speak to and through relationships. Refusing to do so devalues time, energy, and money spent in previous efforts.
#6: Masterful link tagging
With ads written, images chosen, and audiences built, how cool would it be to pass that information from front-end to back, to track post-click performance by various elements of any given ad? Super cool, that’s how cool.
Good news: you can! Learn all you can about UTM tagging.
UTM tags are bits of code attached to the end of a URL which can be used to pass through platform, category, audience, and/or ad information. By attaching these elements, one gains a deeper level of understanding of post-click user behavior.
Relying on in-channel metrics as one’s “true north” or key performance indicators (KPIs) assigns max value to metrics like video views or link clicks. But what if people are clicking through at a fantastic rate and at a cheap cost, but doing nothing afterwards, due to a misleading message? Looking at front-end metrics, one may not see the need for adjustments. By connecting audience/ad information to the landing page a user is directed to, one is able to track a more complete user experience. The big gain here comes from the ability to better identify targeting or messaging misalignment and adjust accordingly.
#7: Efficient ad building
You are finally ready to start building.
For the sake of improved efficiency, build all of the ads you are going to run in the first 1-2 weeks inside of one ad set. Then, duplicate said ad set multiple times if serving the same set of ads to multiple audiences. Just make sure to alter actual targeting, audience names, and any UTM tags that pass through audience information.
While it may sound appealing to quickly build all possible ads you’ve thought up, doing so does leave your account rather full and in a potentially confusing future state. It may force you to retrace steps and make changes before the launch of round two, three, or four. Lastly, it may not give you the opportunity to let data drive future rounds of creative revision as easily as building in 1-2 week increments.
#8: Detail-driven quality assurance
Don’t confuse the step after ad building with “ready to launch, YAY! time”. Triple check all aspects of campaigns, ad sets, and ads.
- Targeting is dialed in (location, gender, interest/demographic/behavior elements, placement, device, etc.)
- Bids and budgets are the amount you intend (if manually bidding)
- Tagging is correct (matches with actual campaign, ad set, ad)
- Creative is on-point, audience-focused, and click-worthy (Surprised to see this as a QA item? Don't be. Always question creative. There’s never a time when creative scrutiny is off-limits.)
- Links lead to correct landing pages
- You ask someone else in your organization to go through your checklist independently. Ask him/her to not only check the nuts and bolts of the campaign, but to review creative for grammar, appeal, and general readability/understanding. While this may require time-intensive platform training (where to go, what to look for, etc.), it could save you time, money, and face in the future.
Well there you have it; the initial eight elements of Facebook ads wise marketers may consider before jumping head first into the digital deep end.
You are ready to start your journey towards social advertising stardom.
Future posts in this series will dive deeper into each individual element — so stay tuned and/or bookmark this article, as it will be updated with links to new posts as they drop.
// Dan (@dangardeen)
Established in 2017 on data-driven servant leadership, Adnomadic utilizes years of digital marketing experience, cutting-edge platform tech, and a holistic approach to paid search and social campaign strategy.
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