How to Improve Your Facebook Advertising Strategy
Updated: Jul 8, 2019
With organic reach declining on Facebook and Instagram due to constant algorithm changes, many businesses and content creators are turning to paid social media ads to expand their reach beyond their page followers.
A common thing that small business owners often complain about is that when they ran a few Facebook ads it didn’t result into any conversions or sales. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but simply placing an ad on Facebook (or Instagram) will not automatically lead to conversions or drive sales.
Simply placing an ad on Facebook will not automatically lead to conversions or drive sales.
Many people who see your ad are just being introduced to your business for the first time. Would you walk up to a stranger on the street and ask them to buy your product or purchase your service? I would hope not, so you want to treat online audiences the same way. Most people are not going to buy from you on their first encounter with your brand. In most cases, your target customer will need to be exposed to your brand several times before taking an action on your site or making a purchase.
Many Facebook advertising campaigns fail due to a lack of strategy and plan. I’ll go over the essential things you should do when setting up your Facebook campaign.
Note: If your brand is active on both Facebook and Instagram, you can run and manage campaigns across both networks. In this post, I’ll be focusing mainly on Facebook, but the same concepts can be applied to Instagram ad campaigns as well.
Determine Your Target Audience
Showing the right message to the right people is an important factor in Facebook advertising success. By establishing a clear picture of who the intended audience is, it will help you create copy and visuals that will appeal to these audiences and, therefore, create more effective ads. It also decreases the odds you’ll waste your ad spend on uninterested audiences.
Facebook’s advanced targeting system that allows you to target people based on demographic, interests and behavior. You can target the people who are likely to be interested in your brand based off interests that they have expressed in the past and other data that Facebook has collected.
Proper audience targeting should be based on your target market research collected through interviews, surveys, website and email marketing analytics, social media audience insights or social listening.
Facebook also allows you to upload your customer list or email list and then build a ‘Lookalike’ audience, where the Facebook algorithm will identify people with similar interests, habits, and behaviors as your current customers.
Segmenting your target audience into multiple groups that share similar needs or characteristics can make your marketing more personal and relevant.
Let’s say we have a travel vlogger who has a YouTube channel and she also curates and hosts group trips to different locations around the world a few times a year. She wants to run a paid ad campaign on Facebook & Instagram to increase registrations for her next trip. She knows her core audience consists mainly of single women age 25-38, who value cultural and authentic experiences in addition to comfort, exploration and relaxation. Within her core audience, there are subgroups that will have a different set of needs and interests.
Here are a few examples of the customer segments she serves:
Those who don’t want to travel alone but don’t have anyone to travel with
Those looking to meet new people and make new friends
Those who do not want to deal with the hassle of planning an international trip
Because these different audience segments have different expectations of what they want out of a trip, the way she markets her trip to each segment would be different.
Set Up Your Marketing Funnel
It is important to understand which stage of the customer journey your prospect is in when they see your ad. The customer journey maps the stages a customer experiences when engaging with your brand. The "acquire" stages include Awareness, Interest, Consideration and Purchase.
A marketing funnel is a model of your sales and marketing activity that captures these key stages of activity across the customer’s journey with your business. Your target audience will be in different stages of the buying journey. Some of your target audience may be seeing your ad for the first time and have very little interest in making a purchase (cold traffic), while others may have already been exposed to your brand in some capacity and may even be seriously considering making a purchase (warm traffic).
Set up your marketing funnel by serving ads and content to move a sizable percentage of your cold audience through each stage of your funnel so that they will ultimately convert to buyers. Therefore, you’ll want to build out your campaigns in accordance to each stage in your marketing funnel. Every stage of the funnel will require a different advertising approach and targeted offers.
Start with brand awareness ads that are simply meant to introduce you to your audience. At the Awareness stage, you are trying to gain more exposure and capture the attention of your cold target audience. Attracting new customers in cold audiences is essential because you need to be drawing new people in to survive churn rates and grow. Since cold audiences are people who are not aware of your brand and have never been to your site, your ads will need to grab their attention.
One way to grasp a cold audience’s attention is to offer a quick tip or some advice. Your marketing messages at this stage of the funnel should focus on delighting or educating your audience so that they will want to continue to engage with your brand. Videos are great for building awareness - there’s no pressure to convert, all you want them to do is watch the video.
During the Awareness stage, I wouldn’t recommend directing your cold traffic to gated content that requires them to share their email address to access. You want to share something that doesn’t require much time or effort from your prospects at this stage. A 15 or 30 second video or directing them to a short blog post can offer value quickly without asking for anything in return.
Your prospect is now aware of you or your brand at the Interest stage, but you’re still in the early stages of the journey with them. So the next step is to build a relationship with your audience by sharing value-adding or connection-building content.
Run re-targeting campaigns where you show ads to people who came in contact with your brand in any of the following ways:
Visited your website or landing page
Watched your Facebook video
Engaged with any of your organic posts or ads
If you want to generate more interaction and grow engagement, you should use video, carousel, and Canvas ads that require people to watch and scroll their way through them. To build a connection with your audience and grow your brand engagement, share your brand story, your community efforts, your events, customer stories or anything that gets your audience to know, like, and trust your business.
When your audience finds content they want to consume, they will continue to pursue a relationship with you. Keep your audience interested in what you have to offer by addressing your audience’s specific needs or problems in your ads.
At this point, you can also focus more on conversions or lead generation by re-engaging people who have shown some degree of interest in your business.
Here are some ideas:
Run lead generation ads where your audience opts in to receive some free content (your lead magnet).
Create video ads where you speak directly to your audience to make a deeper connection and encourage them to sign up for your email list or consume more content on your site (article, video, or whatever it might be) to delve deeper or learn more.
Remember, that since you will probably have multiple audience segments you will need to create multiple pieces of content that appeal to the different interests or needs of those audience groups.
At the Consideration stage, your prospect is making the decision whether or not to move forward with your product. They are probably comparing your products or services on your website to those of your competitors. They’ll compare things like the cost, quality, and convenience of your product or service compared to alternative solutions. Show them why they need what your company is offering -- your marketing message should be more benefit-focused at this stage, highlighting your unique value proposition and differentiation.
Since your audience is more primed and are ready for your sales pitch, your ads can be more sales focused. To drive purchase conversions, offer a special discount or a free trial.
Some prospective customers may need a little more reassurance before they buy from you, so consider incorporating social proof into your ads with testimonials, reviews or spotlighting social media photos from pleased customers who have bought from you in the past. Demos or how-it-work videos can also help ease concerns for someone who isn’t quite sure if you’re the right fit for them.
Offering a free webinar is also a great way to entice potential buyers at this stage.
Here are some examples of the types of campaigns to run for audiences in the Consideration stage:
Re-targeting campaign showing dynamic product ads to customers have visited different product pages of your site but did not purchase.
Re-targeting campaign for someone who visited your product or service page on your website but did not convert. Create an ad explaining the full benefits of the product, and to alleviate skepticism they may have, provide testimonials or mention notable people or brands that have used your product.
At this point, your target customer is already interested and invested in your brand and is ready to make a purchase. However, just because they start the checkout process, the sale isn’t complete until it’s finalized. If a customer walks away from the purchase, bring them back by running re-targeting ads or sending email reminders that speak to the need for that particular product or service.
If you’re selling a physical product, there are various reasons for cart abandonment, but a top reason is the customer may feel that the full cost is too high after sales tax and shipping & handling are added. You can run a re-targeting campaign for abandoned cart shoppers: offer these shoppers a small discount or offer free shipping to convince them to complete the purchase. If the customer is part of your email list, set up an automated cart recovery email or simply a reminder email to encourage customers to complete the sale.
In addition to targeting the right audiences and setting up your marketing funnel, your strategy and plan should also include the following:
Goals. When you set up your ad campaign you will need to define your goals. Facebook provides campaign objectives to choose from. When you choose an objective, you’re telling Facebook what results you want to see, or which actions you’d like users to take. For example, if you want to drive traffic to your website, choose the traffic objective. Do you want people to comment and share your ad? Then choose the engagement objective.
Selecting the metrics you will use to measure success. Facebook provides many different metrics to help evaluate your ads’ performance. The choice of your ad metrics depends on your campaign’s goal and objective.
Testing plan. Testing is the key to discovering what resonates with your audience. Test your creative, copy and offer to see what resonates with your specific audience. You want to think about which ad element could have the highest effect on metrics such as click-through and conversion rates. Test to understand what works and adjust your plan accordingly.
A comprehensive strategy will help ensure your next Facebook advertising campaign is not a waste of money and is effective in achieving your marketing goals.