3 overlooked steps to optimize your Facebook advertising campaigns
Facebook can be a powerful marketing tool, but not many people venture to understand how the proverbial hotdog is made. By ignoring how the platform functions, many marketers turn a blind eye to potentially game-changing tips and strategies.
Think of it this way: Marketing is generally a search for campaigns that provide outsized returns on your ad spend. Expert marketers, once upon a time called growth hackers, are capable of finding those “growth hacks” that allow advertisers to receive massive returns on their ad spend. However, these unique tactics don’t last long. The more marketers find out about them and exploit them, the lower the average return on ad spend becomes, eventually bringing it down closer to the industry average.
That’s why it’s important to arm yourself with a deep understanding of how and why Facebook functions. As the co-founder of an integrated digital marketing agency that specializes in Facebook ads, I've found that knowing how to leverage the platform effectively allows you to better use Facebook, as well as rapidly adjust to the natural ebbs and flows as it evolves.
Start with business goals first.
Facebook automatically optimizes your campaigns to their respective campaign objectives, which makes it imperative to make creative your ideal business outcome first. There are 11 core campaign objectives nestled into three main categories: awareness, consideration and conversion.
Don’t try to force an existing ad set into a different objective out of convenience. If your objective, audience, call to action, creative and landing pages aren’t aligned, you’re shooting for underperformance.
Invest in user experience to win the marketplace for value.
Many advertisers forget a fairly simple but core tenet of how Facebook balances its marketplace for attention. On one hand, if all users saw on Facebook were ads, very few people would use the platform regularly. On the other hand, if Facebook only allowed user content and banned any sort of advertising, its revenue would slump substantially.
Facebook creates a marketplace for value that rewards brands that balance the creation of advertiser value with the end user experience. Instead of simply rewarding advertising space to the highest bidder, Facebook considers multiple variables: bid price and type of campaign, expected response within the scope of the campaign, and relevance to the target audience.
What does this mean for you? Better creative, relevant landing pages and better targeting will ultimately bring down your auction costs while simultaneously increasing ad conversions.
As always, your creative can make or break your campaigns. However, many advertisers forget that creative is an iterative process. Out of every 20 creative variations, maybe two or three of them will far surpass the performance of the rest of them. The days of static advertising campaigns are well behind us, at least on a dynamic advertising platform such as Facebook.
Your process should look like this:
- Launch your campaign.
- View your ad performance and other relevant data.
- Weed out your duds (Facebook won't do this for you).
- Test new creative strategies.
Creative is almost never smooth sailing from the first go; high-performing creative can be a fickle creature. Ideally, your creative should be able to do three main things:
- Capture the attention of users. If they aren’t stopping to look at your ad, it’s dead in the water regardless of how much value it ultimately delivers.
- Communicate a clear value proposition. This must be done in a very short time frame. If users don’t have answers to, “What is this? Why am I seeing it? What do I need to do to get it?” within the first few seconds, they’re likely going to keep scrolling.
- Convert. How will your ad get users to your landing and product pages and ultimately push a sale or subscription?
Bring your own data, but don’t get too specific.
For some reason, many business owners and marketers assume that their digital marketing campaigns are born in and must live in a digital vacuum, which is far from the truth.
There is plenty of data from other channels (such as in-store purchases) that can be used to supercharge your Facebook campaigns. Simply import your datasets using the custom audiences feature. The higher the value of users in your dataset, the higher the average value of users Facebook will likely target in your scaled lookalike audiences. When you do this, don’t forget to create dynamic remarketing target pools using your Facebook pixel.
However, you need to give Facebook’s machine learning algorithm a little bit of room to breathe. The more specific and narrow your targeting strategy, the less liquidity your campaign will have in the Facebook targeting pool, and, therefore, your campaigns will have a lot more trouble finding your ideal customers.
You’ll have to find the dataset sweet spot for your particular dataset, but try to keep a balance between specificity and flexibility in your targeting.
Facebook will likely continue to evolve in a way that rewards advertisers who help improve the overall attention ecosystem by bringing legitimate value to users, rather than bombarding them with ads. How marketers accomplish this and receive significantly better returns than their competition, however, will largely vary based on their mastery of the platform.
By launching campaigns with clear business goals in mind, continuously testing and refining your creative strategy, and feeding Facebook’s machine learning algorithm with useful signals, you’ll be able to maximize your advertising efforts.