Running a Facebook ad campaign feels a bit like alchemy… There are certain things you can keep in mind while you run it, but most of it is a bit wild wild west and shooting from the hip.
To run a more successful campaign, you have to be prepared to try different methods, carefully watch the results of your campaign, and tweak accordingly. You can’t just set it and let it run. Your ad will perform more and more poorly over time, as the users who see it become blind to it and begin to ignore it. Only new content and visuals will break through the barrier of ad blindness.
Eventually, other advertisers will get more prominence and it won’t matter how much you bid per ad, you will begin to see your impressions drop. I don’t fully understand the magic in the Facebook ad machine, but this was something I observed in running my own ads. Most of them I had to alter after awhile, and some simply stopped performing altogether, despite really positive starting results.
Your Facebook Ad Material
There are a number of things you can experiment with to improve your Facebook ad results, though these feature most prominently:
- Ad Image (Highly Important)
- Ad Copy
- User demographics
- Age groups
- Geographic location
- User Interests
- Bid Price
[box type="note"]Note: Facebook seems to be in the process of making refinements on their ad creation features, so there may be some differences in your experience by the time you put your ad together. Don’t be afraid to dive in and experiment with different settings by creating multiple Facebook ads… You can always turns ads off that aren’t working.[/box]
Overall Strategy for Your Facebook Ad Campaign
You want to start out by planning a strategy for your ad campaign. Think about groups of people that are most inclined to be interested in your product. As an example, these are some groupings that I came up with when trying to find people who might be interested in our film and Kickstarter campaign (which was getting funding for a trip to Mexico to begin our filming):
- Women 18-44, interested in roller derby
- All sexes, 18-44 from Mexico, interested in roller derby
- All sexes,13-64, interested in roller derby and documentaries
This wasn’t the absolute data-set I used throughout the campaign… I experimented all throughout with tweaks and changes.
If you need help figuring out some basic demographic info for your audience to start building from, then think of similar sites that you believe your audience would visit and try to get demographic info for those sites from Google’s DoubleClick Ad Planner. Some sites are not in their database, but just having a few to look at can give you a good starting point. Then suss out the specific qualities of your audience from there.
Think about practical things, like the types of people who are most inclined to shell out money for your product or endeavor. We targeted some younger age groups for our Facebook page, but some ads specifically targeted the age groups that would be more likely to contribute to our Kickstarter campaign.
[box type="note"]Tip: Check out Kickstarter.com on the Ad Planner tool and see where the crossover is for your audience, if you are trying to promote a Kickstarter project with your ad.[/box]
You want to do multiple variations on an ad to test different images and ad copy. If you’re running a Kickstarter, you are probably on a tight timeline, so a day should be enough time to see how well one is performing and can it if it isn’t as strong as another ad.
As a note, you can simply pause a low-functioning ad. If you delete it, then it will make it difficult to refer to it later if you need to compare what you wrote to a new ad you are working on.
Don’t just plop any old image in there and be done with it. Come up with something compelling. Human faces are going to attract the most attention, since Facebook images are primarily geared towards users, and we are so wired to be interested in faces. Think about bright colors, visually compelling graphics, clever imagery, or anything that might create a sense of delightful surprise. You have a very small size to work with, so be careful that what you include isn’t difficult to understand at a small size.
Keep this short and sweet. Again, try to think of something that will engage a user’s curiosity. Ask an intriguing question that can only be answered by clicking the ad. Facebook ads with shorter copy perform better than ads with longer copy. Don’t try to say too much with the copy… Just get to the core of your offering. Remember, this is marketing, and your product or service needs to solve a problem for a potential customer. Make sure you get your solution across in this short snippet.
If you’re advertising a Kickstarter, you need to think of it like a product and make sure it’s grabbing your audience in a solution-based way. If you’re offering a groundbreaking product in your rewards, then don’t be shy about presenting it as a product promotion. Think like a marketer. Your chances of getting support will be less if you focus on the money/support ask, as a random stranger who isn’t hunting your project down on Kickstarter already isn’t going to be as likely to even consider a contribution. Whatever you are promoting, find some way to “sell” it by making the person on the other end realize that it’s something they need. If you target your demographics well, you are more likely to catch someone who truly does want what you’re offering.
You should have already put together some target audiences before you started, so you can use that info to generate things like appropriate age groups, interests, locations, and the like.
Some things I learned while running our Kickstarter ad is that including multiple interests simply enlarges the pool of people receiving the ad, which seems to be the opposite of what is needed to create successful results. Keep your interest lists trim and focused and it will do better.
For us, having an ad that targeted a specific country worked really well for getting clicks, and also helped us to get a ton of likes through our Facebook ad that was page-focused. It seemed like there was less competition in a non-US area for our subject matter, and more of a hunger for content on our topic in other geographic areas. I would recommend really considering which geographic areas would be most interested in your topic and coming up with ad copy that targets them in some way.
I can’t tell you what the perfect number of people will be as an audience for your ad. As you play with the various settings, you will see it will decrease or increase the number of people viewing your ad. Too small, and you barely get seen. Too large, and you’re competing against too many other advertisers. Experimentation is your friend.
As to ad payment, I recommend choosing Pay Per Click over Pay Per Impression. Facebook will recommend an average bid price for your ad, once you have entered all of your details. You will likely pay much less for clicks on an ad that links to your Facebook page than one that links to an outside site. For us, getting a bunch of new people in our Facebook page audience was a big achievement and has really helped us to reach a lot more people about our project. Over the long term, fan engagement will be a huge boost to all of our goals, so it was worth it to focus on that at the expense of putting all of our eggs into the Kickstarter basket.
I would say, don’t be shy about being willing to spend a goodly sum on getting clicks, especially for the ads that target your key audience. You want to make sure your price is competitive enough to get prominence over other ads. After a little while you will get a sense of how often your ad is getting clicked and if you need to drop down the price to keep being able to afford it. Besides, a bid price is not actually the amount you will have to pay, in many cases you will end up paying lower than a high-target bid price. You are basically just setting the maximum you are willing to spend.
If you’re not doing a Kickstarter ad or a Facebook page ad, where do you send your audience?
If you are selling a product on your site, I highly recommend creating an alternate version of the page with a unique url to send your ad folks to. If you can target the copy on that page to your audience, even better. As long as you have Google Analytics on your site (a must have if you are going to run ads), then you can get a sense of what your ROI (return on investment) is for your ad.
Compare number of ad clicks to number of sales generated from that page, and you can see just how successful your campaign was. Compare your profit to the amount you spent and see if Facebook ads are a winning marketing medium for you or not. If they aren’t, you can try a bit more ad experimentation. Sometimes the trick is just finding the right combo of ad content and demographic info, and switching things out regularly to keep people from falling prey to ad blindness.
And sometimes it just doesn’t pay. Don’t be afraid to cut your losses if you can’t seem to get it to work for you. People seem to get mixed results on Facebook ads, and it’s a difficult medium to master. You might find that your product does better on Google AdSense.
Experimentation is Key
Facebook ads are time-intensive and you’ll want to make sure you have the time in your schedule to keep an eye on how well your campaign is performing so you can improve it. Things can change drastically within a matter of days, so regular check-ins are important. While you don’t want to change things too often, you still want to be ready to try something new when one ad no longer seems to be performing.
Just be sure to select an ad approach that makes the most sense for your project.
If you want to read more about our own strategic thinking around our ads and get a more bird’s eye view of how we used ads, check out my previous article.
You might also be interested in reading my other articles about how we used social media to market our Kickstarter campaign:
Please feel free to share your questions or experiences in the comments below.