No doubt you already know that Facebook is an essential way to engage with your audience. With over 2.2 billion active users, chances are that your potential customers use the site, as do your competitors. As a smart business owner, you’ve signed up, too.
So you’ve created a business page, but now Facebook is prompting you to set up an ad campaign. Is this necessary, or can you get by just fine with a regular old free page?
Well, free pages are great for building long-term engagement, but there’s a catch — Facebook is changing its algorithm to show more content from friends and less content from businesses like yours. The average business post only reaches 30% of your desired audience, so advertising is a highly effective way to increase your reach.
That said, Facebook Ads can be rather overwhelming if you’re just getting started. How do you set up a campaign? What are all these different ad types? Which one do you choose? How much does it cost? How do you know if they’re even working?!
Relax — we’ve got you covered! In this beginner’s guide to Facebook Ads, we’ll answer all of these questions and more, and we’ll talk you through the process step by step.
Before you start, let’s set up your conversion tracking…
Step 1 — Embedding Your Facebook Pixel
A Facebook pixel is a tracking tool that you embed in your website code. It helps you to keep track of how well your Facebook ads are performing based on your desired actions or conversions — are people visiting your website from your ads? Are they buying your products? Are they signing up to your newsletter?
To get your pixel code, first open your Ads Manager dashboard. In the top right hand corner of the page, in the blue header bar, click on the white arrow and choose ‘Create Ads’ from the drop-down menu.
On the dashboard, you’ll see three horizontal lines in the grey header band, in the top left corner next to ‘Ads Manager’. Click the lines to open up a new menu, go to the ‘Measure & Report’ column, and click on ‘Pixels’.
Now there are lots of choices here, but we’ll focus on the two simplest. First, the pixel will automatically open on the ‘Data Sources’ tab. Click on the green ‘Create a Pixel’ button, give your pixel a name, and click ‘Create’. This will give you a piece of code, which you or your web developer can then install on your site.
Alternatively, if you use a major hosting platform like Wix, BigCommerce, or Shopify, you can integrate your Facebook ads with the platform. Simply click the ‘Partner Integrations’ tab at the top of the page, find your platform, and follow the instructions provided.
Ok, you’re ready to get started!
Step 2 — Choosing an Ad Type
Open up the Ads Manager dashboard (you can get back to this via the horizontal lines icon in the top left corner) and click on the green ‘+ Create’ button halfway down the page on the left. In the window that appears, select the ‘Create Guided Campaign’ option on the left.
Here, you’ll see that Facebook has divided ad types into three categories based on your marketing objective, which will correspond to your audience’s position in the buyer journey — awareness, consideration, and conversion.
Ideally, you will have already established your audience’s position in the buyer’s journey and defined your objective as part of your marketing strategy, but here’s a brief overview of each option.
If your audience is in this stage, it means they’re aware they have a need, want, or problem (or they’re likely to in the near future), but they’re not yet aware of you as a potential solution. Your objective here, then, is to put your ad in front of a wide audience of possible customers so that they might evaluate your company as an option.
If you’re targeting people who are actively looking for a solution to their need, want, or problem, your primary goal is to encourage them to engage with you. There are quite a few options under this category, so browse the descriptions and choose the best one for your desired action.
As an example, you might want your audience to head to your website and browse your store, in which case you’d select the ‘Traffic’ ad type. Or perhaps you want them to download your app, so you’d select the ‘App Install’ ad type.
Your audience knows what they want, and you want to make sure they get it from you. In this stage, you can choose ads showcasing products from both your physical and online stores. Similarly, if your action isn’t purchase-related — you want them to sign up to a newsletter, for example — then you can create ads to promote various related actions under the ‘Conversions’ ad type.
Now it’s time to set up your account…
Step 3 – Setting Up Your Ad Account
When you’ve selected your ad type (it should be highlighted with a blue check next to it), give your campaign a name, and click ‘Set Up Ad Account’ to get started. You’ll then be asked to enter your country and currency options before being directed to the set-up screen.
Before you get down to defining your audience, you’ll see that some ad types have additional set-up options. For Conversions, for example, you’ll need to select the website or app you want to promote and choose your tracking pixel (see Step 1). For Catalog Sales, you’ll need to create a catalog first. For ‘App Installs’, you’ll need to enter your app’s store location. For the trickier options, Facebook provides guidance in the form of a link or a gray ‘i’ icon.
Step 4 – Defining Your Audience
The beauty of Facebook Ads is that it allows for incredibly specific targeting. As you’ll see on the set-up screen, you can target your audience by the basics, like age, gender, and location, but you can also dive much deeper. Detailed targeting allows you to specify your desired audience’s behaviors, interests, likes, dislikes, hobbies, interests, and so much more.
Let’s say you want to target people who work in retail and/or regularly buy cosmetics. Type these characteristics into the box marked ‘INCLUDE people who match at least ONE of the following’, and it will target everyone who matches either or both of the characteristics.
If you need people to match both of the characteristics, then add the first in the ‘INCLUDE’ box and the second in the box under the ‘Narrow Audience’ link below.
TIP: You can also exclude certain characteristics from your audience by clicking ‘Exclude People’.
Under the ‘Connections’ menu, you can go a step further by targeting people who have interacted with your business in some way, such as liking your page, attending your event, or downloading your app. If you like, you can even target their friends.
TIP: If you plan to target this specific audience regularly, click ‘Save This Audience’ at the bottom of the audience panel for quick future use.
You’ll see a gauge on the right-hand side of the page titled ‘Audience Size’. As you define your audience, this gauge will tell you how many people your ad will reach, and whether your audience is too narrow, too broad, or just right. The goal is to have the arrow sit in the very middle of the gauge, so play around with your definitions to get optimum reach.
Step 5 — Setting Your Budget & Schedule
Facebook allocates ad space through bidding. You bid against other businesses who are trying to target your audience and if you bid highest, your ad is shown. The more money you have to spend, the more likely you are to win, and the more often your ad will be shown.
If your bid is too high, you’ll run through your budget very quickly. Bid too low, though, and your ad won’t get much exposure. It can be a tough balance to strike, so as a beginner we recommend allowing Facebook to set the optimum bid for you. It does this by default, but if you do want to control the bid yourself, you can find the manual option under the ‘Show Advanced Options’ link.
You can determine how much you want to spend per day by setting your total daily budget, but keep in mind that this is an average. Allow for the possibility that you may spend up to 25% more than that per day, and check in on your ads daily to make sure you’re not overspending. We’d also recommend scheduling a start and end date, even if your campaign isn’t time-sensitive.
Ok, you’re ready to create your ad!
Step 6 — Creating Your Ad
On the ad creation page, you’ll first be asked to choose your ad format. For simplicity’s sake, let’s say you’re going to go for a single image ad. You can create up to six variations of the ad, each with a different image, for no extra charge, so this is ideal if you want to promote multiple items or test which items get a better response.
You can upload your own images, but Facebook recommends using an image with no overlaid text, and the dimensions should be 1200 x 628 pixels to avoid distortion. Alternatively, you can choose a stock image from Facebook’s free library.
Whichever you choose, make sure the images are high-quality, eye-catching, and relevant to your promotion. Your audience will process and react to the image before they even read your ad, so this is essentially your first impression — make it count!
The second most important part of your ad is the headline. People spend less than five seconds reading most ads, so make sure your product or service is featured in the headline. Keep it short — under 25 characters — and try to include at least one power word, such as ‘exclusive’, ‘free’, or ‘unique’.
TIP: Research suggests that using a number in the headline can increase click-throughs. Think “5 ways to…”, “70% off”, “only $10”, or “1 week only”, for example.
Here, you’ve captured your audience’s attention and you can go into a little more detail about the highlights of your product. Remember, though, you still only have a few seconds and around 90 characters.
Talk directly to your audience, emphasize your USP, and use compelling, benefit-driven language. Low price points, special offers, and scarcity (think “limited edition” or “one week only!”) work particularly well here, too.
TIP: If you’ve linked to a page on your website, the desktop news feed view of your ad will also pull through and display the page’s meta description. This is a great chance to elaborate on your offer or product, so consider editing it in your website’s content management system to complement your ad.
Call to Action
You’ve hooked your reader and sold them on the benefits of your product — now close the deal with a strong call to action! Facebook allows you to choose from a wide range of buttons such as ‘shop now’ or ‘book now’, so choose the one that best corresponds to your desired action. Don’t stop there though — repeat and reinforce your CTA in your ad’s body text, too.
Cohesiveness is very important within and beyond your ad. Make sure the image and text are a logical and complementary fit and use your company branding throughout. If your ad directs to a website, make sure there’s a very clear connection between the ad and the landing page. These things sound trivial, but they’re shown to make a big difference to conversions!
Happy with your ad? Click the green ‘Confirm’ button to launch!
Step 7 — Evaluation
How do you know if your ad is successful? After all, you want to be sure you’re getting a good return on your investment. That’s where analytics come in.
Whichever ad type you’ve chosen, the primary metrics will be impressions and cost-per-result (CPR). You can find both of these in your Ads Manager dashboard, under the ‘Campaigns’ tab.
The number of impressions your ad receives is the number of times your ad is shown or ‘served’. A high impression count indicates an appropriate bid amount, while a low impression count suggests you’re not bidding highly enough to be competitive.
The CPR indicates how much each successful action — clicking through to your website, downloading your app, etc. — is costing you. It’s calculated by dividing the total amount spent by the number of results/actions.
Comparing impressions and CTAs across different ads can indicate which ones are performing well and which ones need to be tweaked. You can experiment with variations to your ads and see if these metrics change, or you might decide to cull your underperforming ads and go with the strongest versions.
How do you know if your CPR is too high?
Let’s say your desired action is for the user to click through to your product page. For every ten users that click on the page, you can see that nine of them purchase nothing and one of them goes on to spend an average of $100. That means that for every ten click-throughs, you’re earning $100.
Divide that number by ten people, and you have a cost-per-acquisition (CPA) of $10. Compare that to your CPR. If it cost you $10 to get that person to click, then you’ve essentially made nothing from your investment. If it cost you $12, you’ve made a loss of $2 per click. If it only cost you $5, though, you’re making a profit of $5 per click from your ads — success!
TIP: To manage your CPR, you can adjust your maximum bid amount manually (see Step 5), although we recommend getting more comfortable with the platform before you experiment with the advanced settings.
What other metrics should you measure?
Depending on your objectives and ad types, there are a number of other metrics that can give you an idea of how your ad is performing. You can see them at a glance in your ‘Campaigns’ tab under results. For a more detailed look at your performance, you can go to the horizontal bar icon in the top corner and select ‘Analytics’ from the ‘Measure & Report’ column.
There are as many as 150 metrics to choose from, but you don’t have to go that in-depth! Simply pick a handful that relate to the objective you set at the beginning of your campaign (see Step 2).
If your goal is to increase awareness and reach, you can gauge this by looking for an increase in page views and likes. If your goal is to increase consideration, you might look at metrics like video views, app downloads, or website traffic. If your goal is to increase conversions, you can monitor metrics like sales or offers claimed.
Remember that every audience is different, and it may take a little experimentation to find out what resonates with yours. As with CPR, these metrics will give you a good idea of what’s working and what’s not. Evaluate them on a weekly and monthly basis, and don’t be afraid to switch tactics if something isn’t delivering results.
Need some help with your Facebook advertising?
We’re experts in delivering impactful, cost-effective Facebook campaigns. If you need some help getting to grips with Facebook Ads, or you’d rather just leave it to us, get in touch now and find out how we can help.