Facebook ads can be tough to get right. Many business owners try them for a bit, wind up losing money, and then give up on them. But there’s a lot you can do to improve your results if you’re not getting a positive ROI, and we’re publishing this piece with the goal of helping newcomers to Facebook ads to get better results. To do that we’ve collected several great tips and guides for running Facebook ads that were submitted to us, from all kinds of different marketers in a variety of industries. We had put out the following query:
How’s your experience been running ads on Facebook, and did you get a positive ROI from it? What tips/advice can you share for others running ads on Facebook? All comments welcome. Include the niche you ran ads in and what you were promoting.
We have published the best responses to this below, from people who definitely have very valuable advice and know what they’re talking about. I strongly recommend having a read through these responses before starting your first Facebook ads campaign.
To summarize, here are the main pieces of advice people have submitted on running successful campaigns:
- Split test different ad types and creatives, along with different landing pages
- Consider offering something of immediate value, rather than directly selling (eg. free sample of a product, or offering how-to and short, direct instructional content)
- Target as much as Facebook allows you to. Avoid the promoted post feature, as it can show your ad to untargeted people
- Retarget people if you can (eg. for people who clicked your first ad but didn’t convert, you can serve different Facebook ads to them, possibly based on the pages they visited on your site. This can be very effective on a small budget)
- Consider using Facebook ads to increase your social media following on Facebook, and then promote posts to this audience later
- Use the Facebook pixel on your website which provides you with data on how people interacted with your ads and website
- Consider who your target customer is, and especially what they’re doing on Facebook. Try to imagine yourself as your customer and think about what type of ad and landing page would work on you. This is also helpful in considering what kind of Facebook ad placement you should use
we've spent well over 150k in the last 4 years with Facebook and have had great experiences so far.
We are in the sneaker/streetwear business and have released an app for our community. Our main goal with Facebook ads is to drive app installs. We experienced a lot of different results with FB ads in the past years with download cost varying between 0,20€ - 2,00€. My single best advice for FB ads is to test, test and test more. We noticed that creatives have a huge impact on Facebook ads. In our case the shoe that is displayed on the ad image can decide if a campaign drives app downloads for a couple of cents or if you have to pay several € per download.
--Edgar Suppes, Grailify
After running Facebook ads for the past 4 years, I must say that Facebook ads are an amazing tool to get sales. I have run ads on Google, Yahoo, and Propeller, but when it comes to Branding, Facebook is still my favorite choice.
I did get a positive ROI multiple times. The best ad campaign I ran was of Pubs the PUBG mobile gaming trigger. It was the trending product and sell like fire.
The advice I want to give to give the new marketers is that run at least 3 ads simultaneously, and have at least two landing page. Compare them and find the best running ads, and increase the budget on that copy.
The ad copy is important, so don't write it yourself, hire a freelance writer of native tongue and location to get the insight.
--Faizan Fahim, ServerGuy
I run a marketing agency that specializes in product sampling, and we run a number of ads on Facebook (and Instagram) as part of our Social Sampling Campaigns with really positive results. We roughly spent about £100,000 on Social Ads last year.
The main tip that we can give is to offer something of value as part of the advert. Our Social Sampling allows a targeted audience to claim a free sample that is sent directly to their homes – so there is an immediate pay off to them seeing and clicking on the ad.
People aren’t on Social Media to be sold to, so make sure that they feel they are winning from any paid for interaction that is created.
With this approach we also find that the more targeted the audience the better, start with a refined niche to test and grow it out incrementally to be able to optimise conversion rates.
--Richard Lloyd-Williams, Flavor
As a specialist PPC agency, we've had experience running Facebook ad campaigns for a variety of different clients, from international events and travel companies, to small, independent ecommerce stores. We've managed all types of budgets and client spend of anything between £1,000 - £15,000 per month. We often achieve positive ROI for our clients on Facebook but it's never an overnight success. As with anything, in order to achieve your goals you need to be prepared to put in time, effort and conduct a fair bit of testing.
*Tips & Advice*
*Never use the 'promoted post' feature*
The promote post feature on Facebook has its limitations. You will spend a lot of your budget delivering your ads to people who are not that interested in your product or service. Instead, invest your time into learning how to create your campaigns with the Facebook ads manager . You can then set much more detailed targeting settings to give you more chance of reaching your ideal customer, as well as making use of Facebook's advertising objectives to help you reach your goals.
Set up the Facebook pixel to track how people behave on your website. Then set up as many event goals as possible. This gives you key insights into how many people are making purchases as well as other important actions on your website. You can use these events to set up specific remarketing audiences. For example, you can create an audience of all the people who have been to your website and have added to their cart in the last 7 days but have NOT made a purchase. Then, you can create a new campaign to target this group of people with ads specifically designed for them. You may want to offer them a special discount or free shipping. This will then encourage this group of people to complete their purchase and increase your ROI.
*Run Split Tests*
Always make sure you're testing your ads. Whether you're testing your messaging or the ad design, it's a sure way to refine the campaign performance. For example, you could run a split test to find out which call-to-action (CTA) works better for your customers. You can create one ad with a CTA button of See Offers, then create the exact same ad with the CTA button of Shop Now. Then after a week or two (or when enough data has been gathered), you can compare the performance between the ads and make a decision on which was the better CTA button. You can then use this knowledge when you create your next campaign or ad.
*Understand Attribution Models*
Understanding attribution models is key to assessing whether or not you have positive ROI. Facebook, by default has the attribution model of 1-day impression and 28-day click window. This means that if a customer clicked your ad within the last 28 days before they made their purchase, Facebook will assign this purchase to your ad. For example, let's say on day 1, you click a Facebook ad and view a product. Then, on day 28 you buy that product by going directly to the seller website, Facebook will assign that purchase to the ad that you originally clicked on 28 days ago and claim the full purchase value. Sometimes this generous attribution window can lead to reporting that doesn't match up with your other tracking tools or platforms. Therefore, in order to calculate a more accurate ROI, you may want to consider changing your attribution model to something with a shorter attribution window, maybe something like 1-day impression, 1-day click or something more suited to your business's purchase consideration cycle.
--Sean Carroll, Vixen Digital
We have been running Facebook Ads for approximately a year now, but are now in a position where we know what works for our business and what doesn’t. The biggest piece of advice I would give to any business starting out on Facebook Ads is to accept that you will not make a positive ROI within the first few months, and instead prioritise collecting meaningful data which can be leveraged within Facebook Ads campaigns later down the line.
A great example of this can be found within our remarketing campaigns, whereby we serve ads to customers based on the pages they visit on our site. Only a small fraction of visitors to our site reach the enquiry page. We have leveraged this data to target users with relevant adverts via Facebook, who reached our enquiry page but didn’t submit an enquiry to our system. With a relatively small budget, this has allowed us to increase conversions by up to 15% and in turn, returning a strong ROI on our overall investment in Facebook Ads as a whole.
--Will Craig, LeaseFetcher
My overall experience running Facebook ads has been positive; it’s an incredible source of traffic if you know how to target your ideal audience. At Flight Hacks , we work as an affiliate with many travel companies (airlines, hotels, etc.) and banks to drive conversions.
Although there’s more competition than ever before on Facebook, they’re targeting features are still unbeatable in the advertising industry.
Your success with Facebook advertising relies on a few different factors, so let’s run with the basics:
1) Product or offer: you need a good product or offer to start when you’re advertising on Facebook, you are essentially asking people to stop scrolling their feed to interact with your website and hopefully buy or sign up.
2) Ad creative: Although video is all the hype on Facebook ads, I find that images still work very well. Go for a 1X1 resolution so you can grab maximum screen real estate. This is your time to shine, make sure your text and image are compelling. Not a fan of emojis? Use them anyway; they really help grab people’s attention.
3) Targeting: this is everything! Make sure you don’t “boost a post”, instead create an ad manager account and get down and dirty. Make an avatar of your ideal customer and note down all their interests, habits etc. Facebook has a goldmine of information on its users which is available to savvy advertisers (ask Cambridge Analytica!). Make sure you narrow down your audience as much as possible, especially if you have a small budget.
4) Measure: make sure you install the Facebook tracking pixel on your website, so you know how much every sale/lead/conversion from Facebook costs you. If you don’t track this data, you’re essentially driving blind.
5) Budget: Start small and progressively increase your budget as you go. Facebook is renowned for helping you spend money fast, so make the platform work with a low budget first before increasing.
6) Social proofing: People are like sheep; they follow the herd! Facebook ads are the same, and no one wants to be the first to comment with questions or share your post because they think it’s valuable. What I do is duplicate the ad and set a different campaign to run on an “engagement” target. This will make sure you get all those likes, comments and shares. These interactions themselves usually don’t lead to sales, but it’s essential to building the foundations of your ad. If you want to hack it, ask your friends and family to like and comment on your post with questions about your product. Want to be extra cheeky? Create a new page but give it a first and last name (like a real person), you can then like and comment on your own ads to get the conversation started in a seemingly organic way.
7) Test… and test again: Facebook ads all come down to testing if at first, you fail. Cut the ad and start again until you find the winning creative, audience and budget.
8) Retarget: Looking for an easy audience? It’s your existent customer base! Upload these emails and pixel date to Facebook and let their smart algorithms work out lookalike audience based on the people who actually buy from you. Of course, it might take some people multiple touchpoints before converting so make sure you set up retargeting ads which are different from your original ad and follow your website visitors around the web that way.
Facebook is an incredibly powerful tool, and it’s easy to get started, the results, however, will come down to how much effort and creativity you put in.
--Immanuel Debeer, FLIGHT HACKS
My best tip is to run conversion ads (even if you don't sell online, you can use leads as conversions) as the algorithm does a great job in finding and converting prospects.
We have had tremendous success with running Facebook conversion ads (and very positive ROI). We run conversion objective ads with an add to cart as a conversion (we don't have enough checkouts to optimize against yet). When we ran traffic ads previously we paid about $1 per click and didn't get a lot of conversions or sales. In switching to conversions ads we are paying under $0.50 per click and getting more leads, add to carts and sales at a lower cost vs. our traffic ads.
My second tip is when running conversion ads do as little targeting as possible. This sounds counter intuitive, but the Facebook algorithm does a great job in finding the people who convert, and you are more likely to drive up your costs with additional targeting.
--Krista Neher, Boot Camp Digital
The effectiveness of ads on Facebook starts with the product you are promoting. I've found that in the real estate industry, acquiring a customer costs about $50. That means that unless my affiliate partnerships pay more than that, it's not worth the price. Many other marketers that I know feel Facebook has gotten expensive.
However, I can get a Facebook like for between $0.5 and $1. On my Facebok page, any content I post is free, unless I boost the post. I'd recommend that for niche-specific marketers, try using Facebook ads to increase your social media following, and then promote posts directly to this audience. This method results in a much lower customer acquisition cost, and increases engagement.
*Ad Revenue Is Down*
I think now is a great time to try the above strategy because ad costs are down. I make money on ads and affiliate partnerships, and my ad revenue is down about 20% month over month. The real estate market is slower than normal for the Spring because fewer people are seeing houses, so I've seen agents cut back their advertising budgets. I saw this and used it to my advantage.
*I'm Also Investing in Facebook Ads*
I'm capitalizing on the slowdown in digital ads by running them myself. If fewer people are investing in ads, it makes them less expensive on a per-click basis. Most ads are bids, so the highest bid gets placement. I'm taking advantage of this by running ads on Facebook to increase my social media presence.
*Expanding Social Media*
Building a Facebook audience is difficult, but I'm finding that while other companies in the real estate industry cut spending, I can run ads for less than normal. For example, I just made a post on Facebook that I boosted in an effort to get page likes. I went from no followers to just under 1,200 in under a week for an average of $.65 per like, which is an excellent price per like.
--Andrew Helling, REthority
We started advertising on Facebook a month ago. We are a real estate company, so we are put in a special category that limits our targeting ability. For that reason, the experience has been very challenging, but rewarding.
In one month, we spent $1,631.45 by testing 28 different ads. Twelve were video ads ranging from 15 seconds to two minutes. Sixteen were photo ads. Among those 28 ads, we also tested different ad copy and different lengths of ad copy. We always ran 2-3 ads at a time, each usually with a $10 per day budget.
Our results from one month of Facebook advertising were 17 leads (people who went to our website and filled out a form) ond one conversion (in our case, a seller who signed a contract with us). That one conversion resulted in $12,000 net revenue. Our ROI was 7.35 - for every dollar we spent, we generated $7.35 in net revenue.
In summary, there is a large learning curve to understanding Facebook advertising. Especially for real estate companies with limited targeting abilities. If you have a couple hours each day, it's possible to learn it yourself. Otherwise, you may be best served hiring a professional to run your campaign. We now plan on significantly increasing our spend and continuing to run our campaigns in-house.
--Brandon Dale, House Buyers
You know, running Facebook ads is tricky. Here's why. If you don't already have a quality offering that prospects are buying, then Facebook ads aren't the magic pill to take all of your problems away. It's critical you understand this: Facebook ads will accelerate current results. If your page is converting and it's a solid offer, then Facebook ads will drive multiples of conversions. On the flip side, if your email list and organic traffic isn't buying the offer, then you run Facebook ads, you're not only going to get the same poor results. You'll only be frustrated and out of serious money. Focus on knowing your audience, giving them precisely what they want until they're converting, and then dumping gasoline on the fire with Facebook ads.
For example, we created a video ad for an online business coach selling a daily journal. After two months of running the ads to a targeted Facebook audience of people interested in self improvement, we generated 5 figures in profit, over 95,000 10-second video views, and reached over 342,000 people. This goes to show the ads will work, when you nail what your audience desires and target them correctly. Best of luck!
--Brian Robben, Robben Media
I built recordinghausgemacht.de which is a platform for people how to record music at home while keeping the audio quality at a professional level (beware: it’s German). I invested heavily in FB ads, proper training to run them and so on. I spent around 20K in Ads for this project and went away with a negative ROI. This was because of 2 reasons:
1) my offer wasn’t clearly layed out
2) my copywriting skills were flawed at that time
This all happened 2017. Conclusion: Facebook Ads are not for beginners - you need to know what you are doing before starting to mess with ads.
I took a lot from this lesson though and today I am doing online marketing for several companies. My advice for small businesses is: don’t start with ads - start with organic traffic (and maybe boost your organic posts with ads). Try being helpful instead of salesy - this will make you more money in the long run - no matter the format (Facebook, blog posts,…).
What actually works well with facebook ads, even if you don’t want to build an audience with organic: hyper local targeting: targeting your audience on a hyper local level can help you boost your CTR quite a bit while reducing costs - even in B2B - due to the pandemic, this option is relatively limited.
Try doing several videos interesting or helpful to your ideal customer - then grab the 75% and up views and market to this custom audience. You can even make a customer journey with this technique - it just works.
--Peter Zipper, Convernatics
My company uses Facebook Ads for advertising, we are a real estate company in Jacksonville, Florida. We average about two to three thousand a month spent on facebook ads. Average cost per lead is around $6.81. We have seen a positive ROI from this type of marketing however the sales funnel is longer than others. With that being said, you are catching the lead very early in their search. Based on our experience over the last 6-8 months, the lead is typically not searching for real estate related services on facebook, therefore our success has been in the follow up via email, text or calls.
One tip I would share with users that advertise in the real estate space is this, Target the like criteria that best defines your customer. Since facebook limits the criteria for housing ads, you really have to find a different way to advertise to your potential client through their likes that are most relevant. I've found focusing on certain likes has helped me obtain a lower cost per lead for my business.
--Chris McDermott, mcdermottrealty.net
We've found a reasonable amount of success running certain types of ads on Facebook, but not with others. How-to and short, direct instructional content for our niche (we manufacture and retail window blinds and shades, so this encompasses guides on how to measure for blinds, fitting shades, avoiding common problems, fixing mistakes and so on) are the types of ads we've found perform well.
These are by nature brand-led ads designed to inform, advise and help, and to establish us as an authority in the field. Naturally lots of the views and engagements with this content is not from people who intend to buy from us, and is often from those who have just bought from a competitor; so this is perhaps an unusual use of Facebook ads as we are playing a really long game here!
The type of Facebook ads we have found ineffective have been direct sales-led ads promoting products and incorporating calls to action; people don't really appreciate hard sells on Facebook when they're there to socialize and hang out, certainly not for bespoke and luxury goods like ours.
--Polly Kay, English Blinds
Use the Facebook Pixel to get the most out of your social ad budget. It’s one of the most useful tools for running successful Facebook ads. It’s a piece of code that you place on your website. It collects data and provides you with valuable information on how people interacted with your ads and website. You can learn which of your Facebook ads are the most effective and have a clear picture of people who click on your website. The best pages to track on your e-commerce website are shopping cart, check out, and purchase confirmation pages. This way, you can track which visitors are turning into conversions and which of them should be re-targeted. You can use this information to optimize Facebook ads for conversions, and better target them. Facebook tracking pixel data can help you ensure your ads are seen by the people who are most likely to take your desired action. In this way, you will be able to improve your Facebook ad conversion rate and get better ROI.
--Eckhard Ortwein, Lean Case
My experience with running ads on Facebook has been quite a roller coaster!
Looking back to when I began, My efforts were amateur to say the least. This is of course standard for any newcomer in the space and I can say a lot was learned and new strategies and optimizations were implemented. I am running campaigns in the mens fashion space promoting Gentleman accessories including Ties, pocket squares, lapel pins, socks and more. On average I have an ROI of 1.7X (current COVID-19 environment excluded). I'll highlight a few things below that I'd like to share to help others out.
1. Understand your audience. This is probably the most important part. In order to create assets which resonate with your clientele you must understand your ideal customer. What does their average day look like? How do your products fit into their life? Why do they need to purchase your products? Once you can answer these questions you will be able to create meaningful ads which people will resonate with and share with others.
2. Create custom assets for each placement. Nothing is worse than trying to have a one size fits all creative asset. Your ads will end up looking sloppy and unprofessional so take the extra time and tailor them for each placement such as feeds, stories, messenger, right column etc.
3. Stacking interests. As a part of understanding your audience you need to know their interests so you can target them effectively. Use as many common interests as possible to have a large audience size and stack them so they are as targeted as possible. In the interest section you can narrow the audience by saying they must also be interested in certain things. Think of this as a triple venn diagram and you are going for that sweet spot in the middle.
4. Remarketing. For customers to convert they typically need to hear from you on average 7 different times. This is where remarketing comes in. Utilize your Facebook pixel and target people that have been on your website with relevant content.
--Trevor Blessinger, Art of The Gentleman
Facebook advertising has been uniquely beneficial for our event, Holiday Folk Fair International, for several years. It is a festival that celebrates different cultures with music, food, dance performances, and arts from around the world. The event takes place annually the weekend before Thanksgiving in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Facebook’s different advertising options and customizability allows us to target different audiences with different messages and achieve multiple objectives.
For the 2019 event, we spent a total of $1,250 on Facebook advertising. This was split up between different campaigns with different goals.
1) Website Visits, Awareness, and Page Likes. The largest part of the budget was spent on an audience across southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois with specific interests in ethnic groups and cultures, with the goal of increasing website traffic, event awareness, and new Facebook page likes. These ads were linked to the event’s Instagram account for additional reach.
2) Event Attendance. A portion was spent boosting the Facebook event posting with a goal of increasing attendance and viral impressions. This was targeted to everyone who lives in the state of Wisconsin and in northern Illinois who already likes the Facebook page (a potential reach of around 8,000 people, plus viral impressions).
3) Interactions. The rest of the budget was used to boost popular posts to their most targeted audiences, whether the people like the page or not. For example, the post listing the menu items is always the most popular; we boosted it to foodies and people with an interest in any ethnic foods in Wisconsin and Illinois.
Within the advertising for website visits and awareness, we took advantage of the many types of ads that Facebook offers. In our experience, having a variety of ads yields the best results; ad frequency (multiple ad impressions on one person) becomes more effective. Ads included videos of different lengths, photo slideshows using Facebook’s templates, and single graphics, all with different descriptive text.
Total results for the advertising campaign include:
* 91,784 ad impressions on 38,056 people * 50,812 engagements (interactions) with the page and its posts * 26,832 video plays at 100% * 2,400 interested in attending the Facebook event * 1,489 referral website visits from Facebook to folkfair.org
For comparison, in 2018 we spent $1,300 for these results:
* 115,115 ad impressions on 63,069 people * 21,218 engagements with the page and its posts * 1,495 video plays at 100% * 2,100 interested in attending the Facebook event * 2,498 referral website visits from Facebook to folkfair.org
You can see that some of our focus shifted from 2018 (reaching new people and gaining new page likes) to 2019 (increasing awareness and interactions).
All types of advertising have pros and cons. The best part of Facebook advertising is how much an advertiser can control at any moment of the day or night. You can choose what you can afford to spend, tweak the target audience and the ads, check results, and stop and restart the ads at will. You can adjust your focus at any time, such as spending less on gaining new followers and instead spending that money to reach the followers you already have.
The negative side of Facebook advertising is that it is time consuming to do correctly. Having multiple ads across multiple campaigns with different goals and audiences takes time to set up, track, and modify as needed. Also, Facebook does have some hard and fast rules, such as the strict limit on how much text can appear in an ad graphic. Finally, there are limitations to audience interests; if you’re looking for people with a specific interest, you may have to settle for something broader. The cost per impression or interaction goes up each year due to declining ad spaces as Facebook’s newsfeed caters to users and increasing competition for the ad spaces.
We have a few pieces of advice for achieving a successful Facebook advertising campaign.
* Diversify. Have multiple campaigns with differing goals, and multiple ad types within the campaigns. As with all advertising, to be an effective communicator you must be able to think like your audience. Target different campaigns to different people. * Keep Up. Post regularly to the Facebook page. Advertising a page that hasn’t had a new post in months is a waste and can leave a bad impression. * Quality Score. How are the ads performing? If results are low and costs are high, you need to modify the campaign. Facebook helpfully provides quality scores so you can see at a glance how you’re doing.
With 1.69 billion users on Facebook, there’s an audience waiting for any business, product, service, or event. We recommend exploring the different advertising options available through Facebook, watching the results, and making regular adjustments. If you don’t have the time or inclination to manage it, enlist the help of an advertising professional so you don’t miss out.
--Lindsay Schultz, Holiday Folk Fair International
It’s essential to optimize your Facebook ad placement because not all of them are created equal, and not every placement will work with every campaign objective. All placements are enabled automatically, but it’s better to cut some of them out altogether. You should choose only those placements that are best for each campaign you run. You also need to ask yourself what stage of the digital sales funnel the audience you’re targeting exists in. For example, Instagram Story Ads are an excellent option to build brand awareness, but they aren’t ideal if you’re looking to increase purchases of high-value items. Facebook newsfeed ads have many different formats and give you plenty of text space to grab the attention of users and drive any conversion. As to e-commerce conversions, they are often most successful on desktop ads because it’s easier for users to move through the checkout process. If you have any doubt which option to choose, you can split test different placements.
--Hardeep Johar, Stone & Tiles Shoppe
My number one tip for running Facebook ads is to create and promote high quality blog posts alongside the more typical ads that are just trying to sell something. The reason for this is that blog posts that are relevant to your audience tend to yield a much higher click through rate at a much lower cost per click compared to regular ads. With this in mind, one can advertise this free content and then end the article with a call to action that works to guide users along the conversion process. This works well because it gives the user some time to become situated with your brand before it becomes obvious that you are trying to sell them a product or service.
Our niche is travel maps so, for example, we will sometimes promote a blog post such as Top 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which is something that most travelers are very interested in. Then at the bottom of the blog post we then mention that our travel maps contain these 5 sites as well as many others and end with a call to action for the user to view these products.
--Michael Anderson, GeoJango Maps
Running campaigns for several small and medium-sized e-commerce brands in a wide range of niches (sports equipment, clothing, pet products, beauty) the best tip I can share is to build specific campaigns to impact customers over a period of time, and get rid of the idea of generating sales with a single incredible product ad.
Our most successful users manage to build several campaigns (with different goals) that impact and engage their potential customers with different, strategic messages, in a sequence that help them discover, trust and eventually purchase. Ad sequences that connect with people and guide their decision-making process are what really deliver ROI.
--Jose Garcia, Brainity