I recently received an email from a marketing student who was disappointed by the performance of her first Facebook ad.
It's not the first time I've heard this either… Facebook advertising can be confusing when you're first getting started and one “failed attempt” can stop someone from trying again.
Unfortunately what most people don't realize is that these “failures” aren't failures at all, but are actually learning opportunities… you can't learn to ride a bike without scratching up your knees a few times, and advertising is no different…
…you get better with trial and error.
Facebook advertising is not an exact science by any means, but by following these 5 simple steps, you'll get better performing Facebook ads more often and you'll save yourself a lot of money and frustration in the long run.
1. Know Your Goal
When advertising it's important to have a specific, measurable goal. I can't stress this enough – do not spend money on ads if you don't have a specific outcome in mind… whether it's to get “likes” (which I don't recommend anymore), or to get opt-ins for your email list, be very clear about what you want to get out of your advertising.
Otherwise, how will you know if an ad is successful? For example – let's say I'm running an ad that is getting tons of likes and comments but no email opt-ins? If I had no specific goal, I might think the ad is doing great and keep spending money… unfortunately in this case, the likes aren't paying the bills. I'm wasting money by not identifying email opt-ins as my goal.
Setting a goal that makes sense is important too… if you're on a small budget, it's likely you need these ads to be profitable, or at least lead to possible profits. In this case, be sure you're building your list
Building brand awareness is great, but even big companies with huge budgets tend to market with a goal of creating income or building their customer list. And likes now are the next thing to worthless with an organic reach of less than 5% when you post… you're way better off spending your adverting dollars on building your email list who you can actually contact. Just make sure you're writing email that people actually open…
2. Target A Precise Audience
It's easy to be lazy and boost a post to fans and their friends, but this rarely gets the results you could with more precise targeting. It's always better to select precise interests and age groups.
If you're really serious about your targeting (which you should be), use a tool like Social Lead Freak to create custom audiences. This software allows you to extract Facebook user IDs from groups, pages and events ensuring your ads are delivered to exactly the right people.
3. Use A Relevant, Attention-Grabbing Image
Whether you're running sidebar ads or sponsored stories, it's important to choose an attention grabbing image. Using personal photos when appropriate can give you a bump in engagement, while stock photos from sites like Fotolia or iStock Photo can add a super professional touch.
Overlaying text and cool borders can make your images unique and is easily done using photo editing software or my new personal favorite, PicMoney – just make sure you don't cover more than 20% of the image with text or your ad will not be approved.
4. Micro-Manage Your Ad
It doesn't take long to see if your ad is performing well… start with a small budget but high bid (slightly higher than the bid Facebook recommends) to make sure your ad gets delivered to more people quickly.
Bump up your budget on ads that are performing well and stop ads that are doing poorly right away.
NEVER run an ad continuously without an end date. I've seen people forget to stop an ad and end up with a bill of hundreds of dollars. You can always extend an ad, but leave a poor performer running by accident and you might as well be lighting money on fire.
5. Scale Up
When you see that an ad is performing well – getting a high CTR, lots of engagement and is accomplishing the goals you set in step 1 (eg. getting leads and sales), it's time to scale up.
This is as easy as extending the date of your campaign, upping the daily budget or both. You may also want to expand your audience, but in this case, be sure to duplicate the ad and then target the new audience… otherwise you won't know which audience responded best to your ad.
Continue to monitor your ad's performance, as it will go down over time. Once you see it dropping, pause the campaign and re-run it at a later date. Chances are it will perform well again on a fresh run.
Like I said, Facebook advertising is not an exact science… you have to expect that some of your ads will tank and some will shine, and that you'll likely get better at creating and targeting your ads over time.
Remember, if it was “easy,” everyone would be doing it… keep tweaking, testing and refining and you'll be cranking out great ads in no time. 🙂