A Complete Guide to Effective Facebook Advertising

Are Facebook ads even worth the money? Are they going to help your business grow?

…Maybe. Planning a Facebook advertising strategy that is actually profitable and/or beneficial to your business goals is actually a lot more involved than it seems on the surface.

Let’s review some strategies and lay out expectations based on our most common goals:

  1. Sales/Revenue
  2. Newsletter or Giveaway Sign Ups
  3. Lead Generation
  4. User Engagement

Goal-Based Facebook Advertising

If you are focused on generating sales and profitable revenue from Facebook advertising, then you definitely need to lay out a clear and intentioned strategy first. Facebook ads are known to suck up a lot of ad spend and show little to nothing as a result without careful planning.

Step 1: Start with Remarketing

If you are hoping for immediate profit from Facebook advertising, you need to start with advertising to the audience you already have -- that is, anyone who has already been to your website and hasn't checked out yet. Follow Facebook's instructions for setting up the remarketing pixel and then create remarketing lists that make the most sense to match to certain products or services you're looking to sell on Facebook.

You could even try setting up dynamic product ads if you have a product feed and the ability to accomplish a more technical setup. Pairing dynamic product ads with your remarketing lists can be the most effective strategy, since you are showing a product to someone who has already visited your website and shown interest in that exact product before.

Step 2: Define a Very Specific Audience

Well, what about non-remarketing campaigns? What if you're trying to get NEW customers from Facebook?

Make sure you have identified the audience that will actually consider purchasing from you. This means you will likely need to overlap targeting criteria in your Facebook audience targeting. You can do this using Facebook's "Narrow audience" feature.

Facebook is NOT a shopping platform, so you cannot expect it to function like AdWords, Bing Ads, or any other search engine marketing. You are essentially stepping in to their free time scrolling through their Facebook newsfeed and are asking them to consider what you have to offer. There is a big hurdle of persuasion here.

The more specific your audience, the more likely you can figure out exactly how to cater your messaging to this audience, which brings us to step 3.

Step 3: Match Your Ads to Your Exact Audience

Don't rely too heavily on assumptions. It's time to do a little research and a lot of team brainstorming. Now that you've defined a specific audience, do a little demographic research to see what this group of people have in common even outside of your targeting criteria. You might find that your target audience tends to be tech savvy or tends to look for the best deals online. These little bits of information could give you the perfect angle to approach ad copy writing.

Keep your ad text casual and personal. Avoid generic sales language (e.g. "Buy Now!" "Limited Time Offer!") and stick to appealing to what these people care about. If they care about tech specs, list them. If they care about discounts, tell them you send out monthly coupons in your newsletter. If they are socially or environmentally conscious, tell them what your company is doing to make this world better.

The important part is to keep trying and keep learning. A failure on Facebook is a lesson for your next campaign. Facebook ads can lead to sales if you put the diligence into learning about your audience and help them relate to your brand.

So you're looking to run a giveaway and/or increase email opt-ins on your website. For an idea of how to run a giveaway on Facebook, review our case study when we paid just $2 per giveaway signup on Facebook. Now, if you're looking to drive newsletter sign-ups, keep these principles in mind:
  1. Make sure you have identified the audience that will actually find your newsletter content valuable. This means you will likely need to overlap targeting criteria in your Facebook audience targeting. You can do this using Facebook's "Narrow audience" feature.
  2. Test your audiences! If you're not sure which will be the most responsive audience to your newsletter, test separate campaigns that target the separate audiences. Start with the same bids and same budget to gather enough data for each group in order to decide a "winner."
  3. Offer something compelling upfront. Many people are hesitant about giving out their email address these days since it's difficult to avoid newsletter clutter in their inboxes. So, you've got to offer something better than the 100s of other companies vying for their email addresses. Facebook audiences are most often compelled by a significant discount (think about it - what else would pull them away from trolling political discussions or posting pictures of their babies? 😀 ). A great tactic for getting sign ups from Facebook is to offer a 20% off or more discount code for an initial sign up. Don't worry if this eats into your margins too much. Getting users opted into your email campaigns should pay off in the long run, assuming you have a proven email strategy.

Even a B2B business can advertise on Facebook, but I'll admit it's more challenging than it is for the B2C market.

Before going too far into planning your lead-generation campaigns on Facebook, check our your Facebook audience targeting options to see if your market is even defined here. There are a number of industries that won't have the targeting options available and would probably do well to test out campaigns on LinkedIn's ad network.

When looking to drive leads on Facebook, keep in mind that Facebook is not a platform where businesses are looking to find service solutions. This means you need to find a more social-friendly approach to your usual sales tactics.

Keep these principles in mind:

  1. Try a casual tone and try being a little more personal. This might seem counterintuitive to your brand or uncomfortable at first, but you'll find that people will engage more if you're authentic.
  2. Be careful about how you tout your business's successes. It's better to keep your ad language more audience-focused and less business-focused. People will call you out on Facebook for every flaw you may have! Be ready for negative feedback and take it in stride.
  3. If you're looking to generate leads via a form, whitepaper download, or other free offering, make sure you make the core value clear. Facebook users will be hesitant to hand you their email address, so it is important to show how they get immediate value out of your offeringOffer something that satiates an immediate desire because the long-term payoff of working with your company might not be compelling enough to pull them away from their newsfeed.

Admittedly, engagement is the easiest goal to accomplish on Facebook's ad platform. One thing you must keep in mind with this goal, however, is that engagement does NOT necessarily lead to sales/leads/customer base growth. If your goal on Facebook is to get higher engagement (likes, shares, comments), then it will be beneficial to think of some "what's next?" goals that collaborate with your increased engagement.

What do I mean by this? Let's say you run a campaign that increases your company page likes by over 200. This may seem like a success, but what can you do with these 200 new likes on your page? You can't expect new users to see your company Facebook posts unless you boost them, so it's good to keep in mind that future posts focused on a sales or lead goal will need to be boosted to this new audience.

Here are key principles to an effective Facebook engagement strategy:

  1. To get engagement with an ad, it must be a boosted post. Facebook does not let you optimize for engagement unless you initially create the post on your Facebook business page and THEN boost it within your ad account.
  2. Try not to go the cliché route of explicitly telling users to share or like your post. Try instead to post a compelling question or an interesting piece of content that is likely to elicit some sort of emotional response from your audience. They'll feel compelled to interact with this type of content on their own.
Example: Family Cat Shop posted a touching story on their blog and boosted the link to cat lovers. Engagement boomed with very little advertising spend as more and more people commented to leave their stories and wanted to share the story on their own timeline.

Family Cat Shop Engagement

About the author

Kate likes math and problem solving. Honestly, they get her through the day. She loves her wife, cats, and living in a cozy house outside Chattanooga, Tennessee.

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