6 Ways To Improve Your Facebook Ads Performance
Neil deGrasse Tyson famously coined the phrase “The Universe is under no obligation to make sense to you”. In the online marketing world, I like to say “Facebook is under no obligation to provide you with cheap leads”
Facebook’s job is to serve our ads to the people who are most likely to take the desired action we specify. Facebook is extremely good at this and remember, it is in their best interest to seek out the very best people to get the result we desire so that we will come back and spend more money with them.
However, despite the various metrics we use to judge the effectiveness of adverts, Facebook is paid based on the ads they serve. How much you pay is based on the auction for available ad inventory based on your bid (budget) and performance (ad quality).
Everything that happens after that is based on the ability of our ads and landing pages to capture people’s attention and move them emotionally to a point where they are willing to take the action we desire (eg. watch a video, opt-in for a lead magnet, or purchase a product) The profitability of our ads is dictated by the quality of our funnel and the revenue opportunities that we create once a lead enters our world.
So once Facebook has delivered ads to the most suitable individuals the ball is firmly in our court and despite all the panic and hype over iOS 14 and the ever-increasing costs of advertising, it is still possible to run very profitable Facebook Ads campaigns once you understand the rules and play the game.
Before You Start…Understand The (Facebook Ads) Game You Are Playing
When it comes to maximizing your return on Facebook Ads, there is a hierarchy of elements that I work through to optimize the ads and funnel. Different people will have slightly different approaches. The most important thing is to have some structured way of thinking about the launch and optimization of your Facebook Ads and your Funnel. Without a structured approach you will be likely to end up running in circles, producing hit and miss results, or worse still never getting your Facebook Ad Campaigns off the ground.
These are listed in order of priority and in the order that I use when launching or reviewing Client Facebook Ad Campaigns.
Let’s get started!
The costs of ads are increasing as more and more advertisers enter the market and consumers become more sophisticated and marketing aware. It is important to have a fully thought-through Facebook ad strategy to convert your PPC leads to paying clients and then optimize their lifetime value. This is one of the reasons I love putting a Self-Liquidating Offer upfront, in Facebook campaigns, but is also why having a Value Ascension Roadmap is essential.
The business that can afford to pay the most to acquire a customer will win. You can achieve this by maximizing your Average Order Value on the front end and then having multiple back-end offers overtime always providing your Perfect-Fit Client with a next-level or offer to step up to. This will maximize each client’s lifetime value and give you comfort as to the amount you can spend on the front end to acquire a Perfect-Fit Client.
This also demonstrates that the goal is not to get the lowest cost front-end lead but the lead that will convert best and produce the maximum lifetime value. It is very rare that a Facebook Ad Campaign will be profitable on the front end. You need to plan accordingly and while it is tempting to look for the lowest CPL on the front end these might not be your Perfect-Fit Clients who will produce the most revenue in the long term.
As with all things marketing and sales the most important element is your Offer. In the case of FB Ads you have multiple layers to the offer and each one is important in moving people to the next step of the process and ultimately converting taking the action that you want.
Your offer is the compelling reason why someone needs to take action now. This has nothing to do with you, your product or how you do what you do. The offer is only compelling if it can help your client avoid pain or gain pleasure. You have to show them how their life will be better when they take the next step.
The first offer that you need them to accept is to stop and pay attention. The next offer is to get them to read the ad copy. Then the final offer (from the Ads perspective) is getting them to leave Facebook and visit your opt-in page. Each one of these “offers” also has to position them for the next step and ultimately registering for your lead magnet or whatever upsell is going to come their way.
Self-interest rules all else. We are inherently lazy and we have evolved to conserve energy above all else. You need to present a compelling offer for how you are going to save the viewer time, money, emotional distress, effort, or the flip side of these. Unfortunately, most people will do more to avoid pain than attain pleasure, but it is always worth testing positive and negative. Broad, generic, high level promises make for weak offers. You need to be concrete, specific, speak to a pain point that your audience has and show them how their lives can be better.
3. People Often Over Look Landing Page Optimization To Reduce Facebook Ads Costs Per Lead
Very often people confuse a Facebook “cost per lead problem” with a “landing page optimization problem”. Your base level target for conversions should be somewhere in the region of 40% but really your target should be up to 60%. (I have gotten far higher, but this only comes over time, with traffic and a specific optimization plan). Even with the best Facebook traffic in the world if your landing page is underperforming there is no hope that you will get a CPL that you are happy with.
If you are getting, even a low level of traffic from Facebook, I look to optimize the landing pages early in play. The reason for this is that changes in the messaging and offer will have an impact on the copy and approach in the Facebook ads as does it impact the audience that Facebook selects to show your ads to. Taking your landing page conversion rate from 20% to 40% will cut your cost per lead by 50%. This is one of the big 80/20 levers in Facebook Ads and it deserves a lion’s share of your time and attention.
The offer on your landing page has to match or be aligned with the offer in your ad and you should also align with your offer further down the funnel. While it is worthwhile and indeed a good way to test your landing page copy one version of an ad can quote the landing page copy verbatim, but you also want to test at least 3 other different angles for ad copy. The key to success is that the landing page feels like the next step on your audiences journey from the Ad to the transformation that you promise in your offer.
The 3 key elements on your opt-in page are the headline, image, and body copy. Start your optimization with the headline and then move through the body copy and image in that order. Remember that you should only optimize one element of the funnel at any one time and give 3 days for the optimization to settle before declaring a winner and moving on.
The reason for this is that a tweak to a headline in an ad may send more traffic to the registration page but they might not convert as well or they could convert better on the registration page but result in a lower conversion rate on the front end offer. You have to give time for the changes to update throughout the funnel and Facebook time to find a more suitable audience for your updated content.
4. Tune Up Your Facebook Ad Creative For Even Better Results
The first thing that you need to do with your Ad is to get them to stop scrolling. Therefore your Ad image or video is so important. You must give them a reason to stop. Native images tend to work better than graphically design images. I always try a couple of variations of each.
Videos can perform better at all levels of the Funnel but your video needs to be 45 – 60 seconds long and it needs to verbalize your offer in a slightly different manner than the ad copy. It can be harder to fine-tune a video to convert but when it does you can normally optimize it for cheaper leads than images.
Once you have their attention your initial “offer” is to get them to consume your ad content. This is where the headline and the first two lines of text come in. You need to compel people to want to click the “See More” link.
Eye-tracking testing has shown that people look first to the image/video, then the headline, and then to the first two lines of text.
If you have done your job really well most people won’t bother clicking “See more” on the ad and they will click the button to visit your opt-in page. If they do click the read more the job of your body copy is to do one thing and one thing only. Build enough curiosity, intrigue, and self-interest that they take action and visit your opt-in page.
Initially, I always start with short, medium, and long-form copy. The short-form copy is great for testing headlines, the results from which can inform the optimization of your landing page later in play.
In the initial phases, it can be easier to get the short form copy to convert but overtime longer form copy will normally outperform short-form copy. (Though every campaign is different and there are always exceptions) Every word in your ad matters and if that word is not driving the audience member forward to register for your opt-in it is giving them a reason not to.
While your job is to rack the shotgun to attract your Perfect-Fit Client and repel others you never want to give your Perfect-Fit Client an opportunity to say “no that is not me” or “no this is not for me”. Be hyper-specific on the feelings, emotions, circumstances, etc. that you 100% know your Perfect-Fit Client experiences but make sure that you don’t unitedly repel the people you most want to attract.
There is no neutral copy and there is no room for any filler or unessential words. Be ruthless, your ad shouldn’t contain one word more than it absolutely needs to. Over time you figure out what words and sentences are working, and which ones are hurting. This is how you build really effective long-form Ad copy.
5. Fine Tune Your Facebook Ads Audience To Target The Most Relevant People
One of the most common mistakes I see people make with Facebook Ads is they rush to “the ask” too quickly with a cold audience who have no idea who you are, what you do, or how you can help them. The best way I have seen this described is – Let’s suppose you were single and looking to settle down with a partner. You are out one day, and you see someone that you think you might really like. What do you think your chances of forming a relationship are if you walk right up to the person and ask them to marry you?
The chance of a favorable outcome is slim. However, if you walked confidently up to the person and started a conversation with them, finding out more about who they are, what their hobbies are, and find some common ground. It gives you an opportunity to find out if this person is a potential “Perfect-Fit” partner and indeed give them a chance to do the same.
When you have the appropriate level of trust built then you can ask them for a coffee and if further down the road things progress that is brilliant but to form a strong relationship you must build the appropriate level of trust before moving to the next level of your relationship.
It is the same when it comes to Facebook Ads. In order to do this it is important that your Facebook ad strategy contains 3 levels of campaigns:
a. Top Of Funnel Facebook Ads Campaigns
These are value-based content ads with no ask. The purpose of this portion of the funnel is solely to interact and engage with potential Perfect-Fit Clients. Cast your net wide using interest-based or custom (email list, customer list, etc.) retargeting and broad Lookalike audiences to build topic-specific audiences for retargeting lower in the funnel.
Video is massively effective for Top Of Funnel ads, especially in a post iOS 14 world. You can create audiences of people who have watched different percentages of each video and then retarget them with your Middle of Funnel ads.
As all the interaction occurs on Facebook you can track you people who have viewed your videos for up to 365 days even if they have opted out of iOS tracking and as you can specify to only build audiences from people who have looked at 75% or 100% of the video you know these people are open and interested in your message.
b. Middle Of Funnel Facebook Ads Campaigns
Once you have created a retargeting audience of a suitable size from your Top Of Funnel campaign you can then begin to retarget that audience with “an ask”. Think of this as inviting your potential “Perfect-Fit” partner for coffee.
Your Middle of Funnel ads will direct people to a landing page where you will be asking them to opt-in or register for free, for something of value, like a lead magnet, webinar, quiz, or masterclass.
It is always good to test a range of audiences, especially in the early days of a campaign, against your Top Of Funnel re-targeting audience as you may need to refine the content of your engagement videos to hone in on the message that produces the best results lower in the funnel.
c. Bottom Of Funnel Facebook Ads Campaigns
In our “Perfect-Fit” partner analogy this is where you ask for the commitment. Your Bottom of Funnel Ads retarget the people who have taken the designated action from the Middle of Funnel and have raised their hands to say they are most interested in you, your message the transformation that you can provide.
Your Bottom Of Funnel Ads will have the lowest level of spend but the highest ROI as you are only showing ads to the people who are most likely to make a purchase.
With this audience, it is important to strike when the iron is hot. 0-3 days is when they will be most receptive to an offer and for every day past this time frame your offer, copy and collateral will have to be ever more honed and refined to convert appropriately.
Sure, lots of people have had some success with implementing this strategy but if you want long-term repeatable success this methodology has been proven to work and it is an essential framework to keep in mind when you are structuring your campaigns.
6. Facebook Ads – What’s Working Now – Tips From The Trenches
On top of these principles there are a couple of “what’s working now” tips to keep you on top of what is working practically now:
- Bigger audiences are performing better than smaller audiences. The sweet spot for audiences used to be 1.5 million to 2.5 million. Previously if your audience you built was in excess of these ranges we would split the audiences down and run them in different Ad Sets. Now bigger is better and audiences of 15 million to 20 million are outperforming smaller audiences. I worked on one project where the only targeting we used was country-based. Facebook still found the perfect people to serve the ads to and the CPL cash flowed within our funnel.
- Retargeting and Lookalike audiences will outperform interest-based audiences. Build your audiences for each step of your funnel before you need them. Once an audience hits critical mass create a Lookalike Audience based on that. The closer your custom audience is to the conversion objective the better your Lookalike audience will perform. But think of every touchpoint along your funnel as a potential audience – Video views, link clicks, page visits, button clicks, step 2 of a 2 step opt-in, registration thank you page confirmation, lead-magnet download.
- Ad Set Budget Optimization (ABO) works better than Campaign Budget Optimization (CBO)for testing creative and audiences, however, CBO is the best way to scale. Start your ads out with ABO. Ideally, you will start with 3 Ad Sets with a minimum of 3 Ads Per Ad Set. At lower daily budgets this may be a stretch as 3 Ad Sets may struggle to exit the learning phase but always think in terms of multiple audiences, copy, and images/videos. Your campaign will be severely limited if you only have one ad and one ad set.
- Give 3-5 days before making any significant changes to your Ad Sets and Ads. It takes time for Facebook to find and optimize audiences. Sometimes this means the initial results are poor. Sometimes it means that the initial results are brilliant. One way or another don’t make any big decisions until the 3-5 day window has elapsed. (3 days for minor changes, 5 days for major changes)
- Never ever kill the golden goose. If you have an Ad Set/Ad that is performing adequately never ever make any changes to that Ad Set / Ad. Duplicate the Ad Set or Ad into a new Ad Set or Campaign and make changes to the duplicate. This includes budget increases, image/video, headline, body copy, or audience changes.
- If you need to scale Ad Set/Campaign budget quicker than the 20% every 72-hour limit that pushes the Ads back into Learning Phase you explore creating a broader Lookalike audience excluding your current audience eg. Current LAL audience 1%-2% then create 2%-5% LAL or 5% – 10% audience. This will allow you to duplicate the Ad Set, assigning a higher daily budget without killing the original ad off. (You can also create a competing Ad Set targeting the exact same audience, but this strategy is a little bit riskier)
While the principles above are well established and proven to produce the best results no two campaigns are alike and the people who are most successful are the ones which can assess each situation independently and arrive at the best next step.
Launching and maintaining a successful Facebook Ad Campaign is an agile process. The most important thing is knowing what tests to run, how to interpret the feedback, and then identify the next best steps while playing within the rules of the Facebook Ads game.
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