With approximately 1.66 billion people using Facebook daily, there’s no doubt that your audience is on Facebook. After more than a decade, Facebook is still the largest social media platform in the world.
As such, businesses generally spend a large portion of their advertising budget on Facebook Ads. If used wisely, Facebook Ads can hugely help your business achieve its goals. However, if used too soon or un-strategically, they can drain your budget without much return on investment.
If you’re considering adding Facebook Ads to your marketing strategy, keep reading for a quick overview and the 10 questions you should ask yourself before starting Facebook Ads.
Key Terms, Defined
- Facebook Ads are paid messages from businesses that are written in their voice and help reach the people who matter the most to them.
- Campaigns describe the top level within the Facebook ad structure. You set objectives at the campaign level.
- Adsets exist within Campaigns. Adsets include one or more ads, budgets, and schedules. Adsets allow you to create custom budgets and schedules for groups of ads.
- Boosted Posts are ads created from posts on your Facebook Page. Boosting posts can help you earn more engagements and therefore increase your reach.
- Placements represent the places available for businesses to run ads. Placement options include Facebook News Feed, Facebook Marketplace, Facebook Right Column, Messenger Inbox, and more.
- Bids represent the amount you’re willing to pay to achieve your desired result from someone in your target audience.
- Total budget is the maximum amount you’ll spend an on ad until it stops running.
- Daily budget is the average amount you’re willing to spend on an ad each day.
- Facebook Pixel is a small piece of code that, once added to a website, collects various data points. Facebook pixel helps businesses track conversions from ads, build targeted audiences, and conduct remarketing.
Are You Ready for Facebook Ads? Ask Yourself These 10 Questions First
1. Have I maximized my organic Facebook presence?
If you haven’t leveraged your organic Facebook presence, you’ll probably end up spending quite a bit of money to do accomplish what you could’ve done for free.
Your business’ Facebook Page is the ideal place to gather and refine your audience tracking metrics, build a warm audience to test new products and messages, and build your brand awareness.
Make sure you’ve taken full advantage of everything you can achieve on Facebook without spending a cent. Check out our tips for how to maximize your organic Facebook presence in 2020.
2. Do I have crystal-clear goals?
This comes back to the most important rule of strategic marketing—set clear, measurable goals that align with your business goals.
Many new businesses mistake Facebook Ads as a strategy to achieve marketing goals. Not only is it incorrect, but also this way of thinking will prevent you from actually achieving your goals.
Facebook Ads are a tool or tactic businesses use to reach their goals. If you’re not sure how to set the right goals, try using the “SMART” acronym.
“SMART” goals are a tried and true guideline that have helped countless marketers set appropriate goals. The “SMART” acronym stands for
- Specific: Go beyond “increase sales” or “drive web traffic.” What kind of sales do you want to increase—online? Mobile? Which product(s) exactly are you promoting? Why do you want to achieve this goal, and what tools will you use?
- Measurable: Increase sales by what percentage? Drive how much traffic, to what page(s) on your site? What metrics will I track to evaluate success?
- Achievable: Don’t set yourself up for failure. Carefully examine your budget, any past advertising results, and competitors’ advertising campaigns. If you’re just starting out, it’s not realistic to expect a massive ROI on your first Facebook campaign. The best goals are results-driven.
- Relevant: Generate your advertising goals from your greater business and marketing goals. There’s no point in achieving a goal that doesn’t drive your bigger-picture goals. Zoom out, and ensure that your ad goals are relevant to where you want to go.
- Time bound: Have a deadline. You’re not going to run an ad forever, so define how long you’re willing and able to run a particular campaign. This also helps you measure success.
While it’s a lot to consider, SMART goals can often fit into a short, concise sentence. For example, “In a 3-month Facebook advertising campaign, we will increase lead form inquiries by 8%.”
Clear, actionable, and measurable goals should guide every step of the Facebook ad-making process, from design and copy, to placement and budget, and everything else.
If you’re ready to create some SMART goals of your own, check out our free SMART goals template.
3. Do I know what the competition’s up to?
It’s a common misconception to think that great marketing happens in a vacuum, when actually the best marketing includes competitor analysis.
Being aware of competitor ads helps identify opportunities to share a better offer, speak more directly to a need, or otherwise differentiate yourself.
Plus, if you’re unaware of what your competitors are up to, you might find yourself promoting a message your audience has already seen before. In order to stand out, you first need to know the landscape.
If you’ve got strong, established competitors advertising on Facebook, odds are high that they’ve spent a great deal of effort experimenting, measuring results, and refining their advertising strategy. A quick competitor analysis lets you benefit from their research.
In order to find your competitors’ ads, you can visit their Pages, navigate to the “page transparency” section, and view their ads. Additionally, the Facebook Ad Library provides a searchable collection of all ads running on Facebook and its partners.
You don’t always have to invent the wheel. Competitor ads can show what works well, what doesn’t, and inspire your ad creation. As long as you’re being true to your brand personality and business mission, your ads will feel unique to you.
Prior to starting a Facebook Ads campaign, conduct a competitor analysis to get the lay of the land.
4. Do I thoroughly understand my audience?
Facebook Ads offers some of the most advanced audience targeting tools in marketing. These tools, if used correctly, have the power to help you achieve your goals at the right price point.
But these tools are only as smart as their users. If you’re not extremely confident in exactly who you’re trying to reach, you’ll probably spend more money to accomplish little.
Before you start running Facebook Ads, you should have rich, detailed audience data. This means going beyond broad descriptors like “ecologically focused” and “millennial.” Audience data for advertising should dig deeper into what really makes your audience tick.
Maybe you have more than one target audience. If that’s the case, you should have clear audience segmentation.
You should have clear, research-driven information about your audiences’ goals, frustrations, and pain points. Go beyond the basic demographic and geographic information to understand their behavior, interests, and how they make decisions.
Specifically, investigate how they make purchasing decisions, including how they research purchases, where they like to buy, and what barriers they have to making a purchase.
Take advantage of the data from your organic Facebook posts to get a clear picture of what content your audience responds to and engages with.
To learn about your followers, users you’ve reached, and anyone who’s engaged with your Page, visit Facebook Insights. Facebook Insights is a free tool that provides demographic information (among other valuable data sets).
Facebook Insights can usually be found at the top of your Page toolbar, under the “More” dropdown menu. Click “Insights”, and you’ll find demographic information under the left-hand “People” tab.
Once you’ve begun running ad campaigns, you can find even more detailed audience information in your Ads Manager account.
Learn more about how to collect, analyze, and organize audience data in our customer persona kit. Customer personas help businesses personalize marketing for the large scale of social media marketing.
5. Do I have a compelling offer?
Before you go through all of the effort to put together Facebook Ads, it’s worth taking a long look at your offer. This is especially important if you’re aiming to drive conversions like sales, sign-ups, or site visits.
Will your audience immediately understand what you’re offering them? Next, will they find that offer valuable?
No advertisements can persuade if the offer just isn’t up to snuff.
As always, try to answer this question with research and data, not just your intuition.
If your product or service is already on the market, you can examine your sales performance and customer feedback. If you’re a new business, this is the best time to work out any kinks before investing in advertising.
New products or services are harder to determine, but you can test out your offer on your Facebook followers through regular posts. Promoting a wait-list is another great way to gauge the viability of your product before moving to the advertising stage.
Ad campaigns focused on non-sales goals should still be tested for their value. Contemplate what you’re asking people to give you (email sign-ups, clicks, etc.), in exchange for what value add? Ask friends and family if the offer sounds fair to them.
Remember, don’t advertise if you don’t have something important to say. First, examine whether or not your offer is ready to be amplified by advertising.
If not, consider promoting through your organic Facebook presence first, until you’re confident in your offer.
6. Have I done my Facebook homework?
In case you weren’t aware, one could easily spend hundreds of hours learning all of the ins and outs of Facebook Ads. In fact, Facebook offers over 90 courses and various certifications through their Facebook Blueprint program.
Now, it’s typically not recommended for business owners to devote dozens and hundreds of hours to study every detail of Facebook Ads. But we do suggest spending a bit of time learning the basics before you dip into your ad budget.
If you’re not sure where to start, we recommend doing some research on the following aspects of Facebook Ads. These elements are particularly unique and/or important to the platform, and understanding them could save you lots of time and money.
The Facebook algorithm is the complex mathematical process that determines what posts are shown to users, and how they’re ranked in the News Feed. It’s frequently evolving, and the most recent changes have majorly changed the News Feed. Read more about the newest algorithm updates here.
Facebook Pixel is an analytics tool that helps businesses measure the efficacy of their advertising by tracking the actions users take on their website.
Pixel can track actions like adding items to shopping carts, making a purchase, and filling out a form. As you can guess, Pixel will be especially important for businesses looking to drive sales and run remarketing campaigns.
Facebook Pixel categorizes actions into two categories, called standard and custom events.
Pixel cannot track actions in the past. If you’re running Facebook Ads without it, you will never be able to see what actions users took on your site after seeing your ad.
Pixel is often called the “Facebook retargeting pixel,” because it’s essential for re-targeting users who have engaged with your ad or website, but haven’t yet completed the desired conversion.
Pixel helps businesses build custom audiences, one of Facebook Ad’s most powerful advertising tools. These custom audiences include people who have engaged with important pages on your site.
E-commerce companies typically use Pixel to create custom audiences of people who have browsed the website, added items to cart, and completed a purchase.
Because these Pixel custom audiences only include people who have demonstrated a high level of interest in your business, they’re perhaps the most important group to deliver ads to.
Before you start advertising, make sure you know the basics of Pixel, and make an informed decision about if and how to best implement it for your business. You can read more about the basics of Facebook Pixel and Facebook ad retargeting in our article here
Facebook Ad Auction
Facebook wants to show users the most relevant ads possible. In order to determine this, the machine holds an ad auction every time there’s an opportunity to show an ad to someone. Billions of these take place every day.
Facebook analyzes your bid and ad quality, as well as estimated action rates (likeliness that showing the ad will cause someone to take the action you want). These three elements are calculated to determine your ad’s total value.
Your ads compete against ads with the same target audience. The ad with the highest total value wins the spot, and is shown to that specific user.
There’s much, much, much more to be said on the subject. Understanding the Facebook Ad auction will not only help you manage your bids and budget effectively, but will also help you create more relevant ads.
Facebook Advertising Policies
Facebook is now more committed to maintaining its advertising policies than ever. If you create ads that violate any of those policies, the ads will be rejected.
Some of these policies are expected, such as their prohibited content (illegal products, discriminatory content, copyright infringement, etcetera).
Other policies could be easily violated if you’re not aware of them. For example, Facebook won’t run ads without fully functional landing pages, or if the landing page doesn’t match what the ad promoted.
Other ad policies that might surprise you address proper grammar, controversial or “low quality” content, and more.
Avoid wasting time and resources creating ads that Facebook won’t run, and review their advertising policies ahead of time.
Placements refer to the places available to run ads. Because Facebook owns other social network platforms, like Facebook Messenger and Instagram, the options are plentiful.
The placements available to you will depend on your ad objectives. Facebook offers an “automatic placements” setting, but that might not be the best choice for you.
If you’re not up to speed on Placements, we recommend doing some reading on the subject before running Facebook Ads. Regardless of which placement setting you use, fully understanding all of your options will inform how you create your ads and set up your campaigns.
7. Am I ready to create video content?
If content is king, then video is the king of kings.
Research shows that Facebook users watch almost 3 billion hours of video every day. And yes, that includes over 16 minutes of video ads every month.
Not only that, but we also know that video ads best capture Facebook users’ attention. A recent survey found that 54% of people said they wanted to see more video content from a brand or business they support.
Facebook video even competes with YouTube. In 2019, Facebook’s video engagement rate was 6.3%, which is pretty impressive considering YouTube’s video engagement rate was only 3.2% that same year.
Additionally, Agorapulse reports that Facebook native videos have an 86% higher reach than similar YouTube content.
Finally, Facebook video ads have one of the lowest costs per click (CPC) of any social media. At an average CPC of $1.86, this makes them one of the most affordable ad options for small businesses
Considering the newest Facebook algorithm makes businesses work harder than ever for reach, these statistics are remarkable.
Of course, not every ad has to be (nor should be) in video format. But every business should include some amount video content in their advertising.
Many businesses forget to account for the fact that users watch 85% of Facebook videos without sound. That’s because most videos start playing without sound and require users to unmute ads. When you create your Facebook video ads, make sure they work with or without sound.
Make sure you have the resources to create video ads before you start Facebook Ads, or you’ll miss out on one of the biggest opportunities to reach your audience and generate conversions.
8. Do I have an optimized sales funnel?
Sales funnels are basically the paths people take from being a stranger on the internet, to learning about your business and products, to finally making a purchase.
Online sales funnels can involve various landing pages, tactically placed sales pages, and upsells, strategically presented to drive sales.
Now, you don’t need to have a complex sales funnel that costs more than you can afford. Often, simple and straightforward sales funnels will do the job if you’ve advertised well.
But you should make sure that whatever path users take from your ad offers a positive user experience and supports your advertising goals. This includes making sure your ads and their landing pages make sense, all important web pages are mobile optimized, and the checkout process feels smooth.
Before running Facebook Ads, be sure that people’s experience on your site doesn’t frustrate or confuse them, but rather encourages sales and conversions.
9. Am I willing to experiment?
Successful Facebook Ads aren’t a set-it-and-forget-it task. It’s best to approach them as an ongoing experiment.
Experimenting and testing, like split testing, are the only ways to understand what works well in your ad campaigns. With that information, you can optimize future campaigns.
When done right, a cycle of experiments, measurement, assessment, and refinement will help you to drive increasingly better results, at increasingly lower price points.
These steps require a sizable time investment, so ask yourself if you’re willing to spend the time and effort to engage in ongoing experimentation and assessment.
10. Am I ready to invest in Facebook Ads?
For most businesses, it takes a few months to start to see return on their investment. It’s important that you’re willing and able to invest a decent amount of time, money and effort into launching your first campaign.
Businesses that lose patience too quickly and/or don’t invest enough ad spend will probably never succeed with Facebook Ads.
Additionally, businesses that fail to follow through with the final stages of advertising—measurement and assessment—are doomed to stagnate. Ad campaigns should be run with the intention to track and measure results, in order to create a better campaign in the future.
Examine where your business is at, decide if you’re really to fully commit to investing in Facebook advertising. Don’t dip into your ad budget unless you’re willing to patiently wait for your first ROI and carefully measure results.
With one of the biggest user bases and sophisticated advertising tools, Facebook Ads are a popular promotional tool.
We suggest spending the time to thoroughly understand your goals, competition, audience, and exactly how Facebook Ads work.
Think about whether or not you’re willing and able to commit to creating video content, approaching advertising with an experimental mindset, and investing in Facebook advertisements.
If you’ve decided to take the plunge and start your first Facebook Ads campaign, consider combining it with paid or unpaid Instagram content. Feel free to check out our free tips and resources for maximizing your organic Instagram presence and preparing to advertise on Instagram.