Are you getting the best results from Facebook advertising?

Facebook's dominance of social media isn't ending any time soon, with more than two billion unique users visiting the site every month. If your business only has the time or budget to focus on one platform for social media marketing, it's a no-brainer to choose the site with the largest audience.

But traffic isn't the only reason brands need to advertise on Facebook in 2019. Facebook ads offer many advantages to marketers, including:

  • easy to set up and use in minutes
  • cost-effective for all marketing budgets
  • ability to pinpoint target audiences by specific criteria
  • multiple ad formats and placement options
  • detailed insights to help you improve your campaigns

It's easy to get started with Facebook ads, but that doesn't mean it's easy to succeed. Many brands fail to get the results they want because they don't do their homework or test different ads to see what works best for them.

The more you learn about Facebook's sophisticated features for advertisers, the more you'll succeed and the better returns you'll see on your marketing investment. Read these tips to find out how to improve your Facebook ad campaigns right now and how to avoid common mistakes.

1. Know your target audiences

Before you start creating ads, you need to have clear ideas about who you want to target. Facebook lets marketers get extremely specific with ad segmentation, so the more information you can gather about the individuals and demographics you're marketing to, the easier it will be to create successful ads.

Depending on your business and your goals, relevant information might include basics like their age range, where they live, relationship status, income and likes and dislikes. It can also be very useful to know what type of content they find the most engaging and what tone of voice they respond best to in advertising.

Use this data to create personas for each distinct demographic you're marketing to. These will be handy references when you're creating content for each segment.

2. Get specific with targeting

Facebook's narrow targeting is one of its biggest strengths for marketers, and one you should capitalize on. Don't think like you're creating a TV or print ad that needs to be general enough to appeal to millions of people with a single message – Facebook ads can and should be tweaked to appeal to each of your identified audience segments. This is where your audience personas come in.

This can mean creating different versions of the same ad for each audience segment, with different imagery, wording or a different focus altogether. It can also mean targeting different audiences at different times with offers or information that are likely to appeal to them, but might not work for others.

How many groups depends on the size of your audience and how diverse your business is – you could be making several versions of the same ad or more than 100 versions. There could also still be times when a single ad is appropriate for everyone.

3. Always use engaging images

Images are vital to grab attention in nearly all online content, but especially in social media feeds where people will scroll past your post if it doesn't have an eye-catching hook. Facebook ad images should be:

  • Big – check Facebook's latest guidelines for ad images to see what dimensions to use for desktop or mobile ads
  • Relevant – accurately representing the content of the ad or setting the right tone
  • Engaging – appealing to the audience segment you're targeting
  • High quality – not blurry or stretched to fit the canvas size
  • Not under copyright – if you're using stock images, make sure these are available for commercial use

Avoid using too much text in images. Facebook penalizes ad images that contain too many words, with exceptions for certain types of ads, such as events.

4. Get to grips with video ads

If you haven't used video marketing before, you're missing out on the fastest growing segment of online advertising. Facebook is catching up to YouTube as a video platform, with 8 billion video views daily according to Adespresso.com.

Video ads are more engaging, are watched for longer and are more likely to convert. To boost your success with Facebook videos:

  • target your videos to specific audience segments
  • grab the viewer's attention in the first few seconds
  • include captions or text – most people watch Facebook videos on mute

5. Keep it brief

Facebook is a fast-paced platform, not the place for in-depth copy or long videos. Whether you're writing the headline or the description, every character counts – so keep things short and snappy.

If you're linking to a long piece of content, such as a blog post, summarize the key points that are most relevant to the demographic you're targeting and use the call to action button to encourage them to read more.

6. Use a clear call to action

Facebook's call to action (CTA) buttons tell your audience exactly what to do next after viewing your ad. Facebook gives you a range of options to choose from, which should be selected wisely and tailored for every ad and demographic.

If you want people to take a clear action – whether it's to contact you, make a booking or download an ebook – direct links convert better than the vaguer 'learn more.' Tailor your ad copy and imagery with the call to action in mind, so you don't give mixed signals.

7. Include social proof

Social proof is always a useful persuasive tool, but especially on social media where people go to connect with friends. Another advantage is that by integrating user-generated content (UGC) posted to Facebook, users can see that it's genuine interaction and hasn't been edited or made up, as can be the case for website testimonials.

You can show testimonials in a carousel, incorporate reviews into your ad copy or post a video of people raving about your product or service. Be selective of the social proof you include to make sure it matches the tone of the audience you're targeting.

8. Choose the right placements

Where your ads appear can also have a big impact. When posting an ad, Facebook enables all locations by default, but you can pick and choose based on what's likely to see the best results for different campaigns and audiences.

Newsfeed placements have higher engagement than right-hand column placements, but these are cheaper and effective for retargeting purposes. Instagram ad placements cost more than Facebook, but highly visual ads can be more successful on the visual platform. You should also consider whether you need both desktop and mobile ads for certain audience segments.

If you're posting ads for the first time or running a new campaign, choosing all ad placements will let you see which ones are most effective, bearing in mind that these findings won't necessarily apply for all campaigns.

9. Don't forget about mobile users

There's a reason why Facebook, Google and other big sites now prioritize mobile users – these are responsible for the most page views. If you're creating your ads with desktop users in mind, you need to make sure that the ad will also work on mobile, or create specific mobile-friendly content such as vertical video.

Make sure you check the mobile newsfeed placement when placing ads you want mobile users to see. You can test that your own site and landing pages are mobile-friendly by checking with Google.

10. Don't stop testing

There's no single approach to Facebook advertising that works for every company. While marketing knowledge and experience should guide you in the right directions, nothing beats trial and error for perfecting your ads – everything from the headline, description and imagery to the placement and CTA buttons should be tested and refined continually.

For the clearest comparison, run A/B tests of ads with just one difference so you can compare that metric. Since consumer tastes change, testing should be ongoing to make sure your ads are always enticing and are giving you the lowest cost per conversion.

11. Retarget ads to engaged viewers

Existing customers are easier and cheaper to market to than new customers. The same goes for people who've engaged with your brand on Facebook in the past. Whether they're already customers or they've liked, commented or followed a link to your website, retargeting users with a new campaign is a cost-effective marketing strategy that offers more conversions for cheaper.

You can retarget audiences based on their recent interactions with your brand on Facebook or by uploading a list of existing customers or subscribers from elsewhere. Retargeting should be as segmented as all of your Facebook advertising, making sure you deliver the most appropriate messaging for each group.

12. Find lookalike audiences

When you've built a strong, highly targeted audience, Facebook has a useful tool that could get you similar leads from a single action. Facebook lookalike audience searches for users who match the specific criteria of your custom list (at least 100 people from a single country), who should be ideal customers in theory.

The larger your existing audience, the more you can narrow your custom list down so Facebook will have your very best data to work with. You also need to consider the size of the lookalike audience you want to attract – a large audience will give you many potential customers, but a smaller audience will be less diluted, with each higher-quality individual being more likely to convert.

13. Create landing pages

Where are you sending Facebook users who click on your ads? If you've given them a specific offer tailored to their personality, it can be disorienting for them to arrive at a website that's written for a more generalized audience, especially if they need to take additional steps to find what they're looking for.

You can ease this transition with good landing pages. These should ideally be made for each of your audience segments and each separate ad campaign, so they'll be as finely targeted as your ads and the messaging will be consistent across platforms.

Keep landing pages on point and free from unnecessary distractions. Make it as easy as possible for people to complete a transaction by including a form on the landing page or directing them where they need to go via a big, friendly button.

14. Grow your audience with Facebook pixel

Facebook pixel is an essential supplement to Facebook advertising campaigns. It tracks clicks from your ads to your site and can grow your audience by putting your ads in front of engaged audiences.

The pixel is a small piece of code that's installed on your website and tracks users' actions. If someone arrives via your Facebook ad, you'll get detailed stats on whether they made a transaction, what products are performing best and other insights. If someone arrives on your site from elsewhere, the pixel will track them so the next time they sign in to Facebook, they'll start to see your ads displayed.

You don't have to know any coding to install Facebook pixel, as the steps are easy to follow if you have access to your site's code. You can also let your web designer or marketer take care of it.

15. Don't spend more on ads than you can afford

Another advantage of Facebook marketing is that you're in complete control of what you spend. It's possible to run a successful campaign without a large marketing budget, as long as you put that budget to the best use. It's also possible for big-budget campaigns to fail spectacularly when they're poorly executed.

Once you've grown your audience to the point that you can create custom lists, seek lookalike audience and start retargeting, you'll start to see the biggest returns. Spending at least one third of your marketing budget on remarketing by this point should provide cost-effective leads and conversions.

Need more help with Facebook marketing?

Facebook gives you all the tools you need to run cost-effective ad campaigns, but it takes time and patience to get to grips with. If you're starting a new campaign or want to improve your conversions and lower your ad costs, contact your local social media marketing agency to find out how they can help.

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