7 ways to improve your Facebook/Instagram Ads

Let me start with an experience for me scrolling through my social feed. I’m there to look at what my friends are doing, get some inspiration for future surf trips or to learn something new. In between these pieces of content I also receive some ads.

Some bad & some really good.? Let’s start with the bad ones. I get an ad, from a company I’ve never heard of before saying, in their copy, like “Black shoes from brand “x”, 78 dollars” - why should I buy them? Why should I even look at their website?

Even if I’m interested in shoes (and the advertiser did do their job with audience-targeting right) I’m not really there to marry the shoe company after the first date - if the shoes look great I might consider it, but in most cases I’m not going to. So, what makes the good ones stand out? Ads are great when you're at the right place, at the right time, targeting the right person BUT also with the right contentIn order to achieve this I’ve got some tips for you...

Give your campaigns the right opportunities

Facebook use their learning phase of each campaign to improve your results and find more people with similar attributes. You need to have 50 conversions per ad set (audience) in the last period of time, around 7 days, to get the most out of your campaign. That could be pretty hard to achieve if you optimize against purchase and don’t have a lot of data to go with.

You are better off if you trust the learning phase instead and try to choose the step before purchase, add to cart. Or even earlier in the funnel than that - people who visited a product page. After that start with 1 or 2 ad sets based on your budget and successively scale up. The better data your learning phase gets, the better you will succeed in the long run.

Use lookalikes the right way

Use Facebook analytics to find out how much data you’ve got in each step of your funnel (To do this you need to have your Facebook pixel firing) and make lookalikes of them. For example, make a lookalike of people who made a purchase on your website. But you have to keep in mind that if the audience which your lookalike is based on is too small - Facebook will not have enough data points from your source to make a great performing lookalike.

In that case you could instead choose to make a lookalike of people who added a product to cart and you might grow the source of the audience and help Facebook out by finding similar people to them.

Take advantage of every platform

Customize your content from platform to platform. You might have heard that you should use a 16:9 format for Facebook, which means that your content is horizontal, and that might be good for people browsing on a computer.

But nowadays we use our phone, scrolling, scrolling and scrolling; therefore you have to really take advantage of every space you’ve got. So instead, try to make your content 1:1 for the feed and 9:16 for stories. In other words, use every space you get for your money.

Make your ad pop out

This might follow up a little bit on my previous tip but there’s a lot of hard competition out there, so you better make your ad stand out a bit from the other 7 million advertisers. You have to catch the viewers’ attention in the first seconds. But, how can you do that? Let me give you an example. People tend to watch videos over photos, that is something you may be aware of at the moment.

And you also might know that you need subtitles because of people watching with the sound off. But do you think that goes for all of Facebook platforms? The answer is no. Think about when you're on Instagram watching stories. You usually don’t mute your phone just because you’re watching stories. In fact, 60 % of people watch stories with sound on. That is a great opportunity for you to not only catch the viewer by the eye - but also the ear. :)

Customize your ad for different people

Think about my introduction. Would you have purchased from that company with that ad only telling you the price with a picture? Probably not. But if, let us say they showed me a video with advice like “how to take care of your surfboard” - that is something I probably would click on.

By doing that, I start trusting in that company and their chances for me to engage with one more ad is higher. I’m not there yet, to buy, but maybe one step closer to becoming a customer. You better analyze these steps to figure out which content to deliver to each touchpoint.

Use metrics to keep track

If you have your Facebook pixel setup and firing (which you REALLY should have) there are some numbers that are more important than others. But of course, it depends on the goal of the campaign.

I’ll show you the most basic you may want to keep track of:

  • Impressions: Number of times your ads been showed.
  • Reach: Number of people who have seen your ads.
  • Link clicks: Hopefully this is self-explanatory.
  • CPC (link): Cost per link click. Notice that I use link clicks, not just cost per click - because the second one even includes clicks on your ad like a comment or like.
  • CTR %: Click Through Rate. The higher rate you get, usually the cheaper your cost per click will be. Facebook wants to provide relevant content and rewards you if you’re doing it right.
  • Frequency: How many times a person has seen your ad - impressions divided by reach.
  • Result: How many conversions you’ve made (the conversion is determined in the first step of your campaign).
  • Cost per result: Spend divided by result.
  • Conversion value: If you’re Facebook pixel is tracking that, use that in order to know if your campaign is profitable or not.
  • ROAS: Return on ad spend. How much are you getting back from each dollar you put in. Keep in mind that even if you’re getting 3 dollars back, you need it to cover more than just your ad spend. In most cases, you have more costs than that. 

 Optimize like a king

When your columns are all setup like I talked about in my previous part, then it’s time for optimization. Start with 1 campaign and compare your different ad sets with relevant metrics. Pause bad ones and duplicate good ones to try new ones. Maybe you could target a new interest, make your lookalike bigger or try a complete new one.

There are also a lot of other things you can do to optimize your campaigns, to name a few; you’ll find them in Facebook Ads Manager under the tab “division” and by selecting after delivery:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Region
  • Placements
  • Time of day (only relevant if you’re running campaigns with lifetime budget)

Facebook’s machine learning is getting better and better, spending your money where it gets the most results - but you better keep an eye of this to make sure you’re not spending money without getting anything back.