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social media how toAre Facebook ads working for you?

Are you looking to get a better return on your Facebook ad investment?

To get the best performance from ads, you need to make sure they reach the right audience.

In this article you’ll find 15 ways to set up and optimize your Facebook ads.

15 ways to optimize facebook ads

Discover 15 ways to optimize your Facebook ads.

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#1: Keep Mobile and Desktop Ads Separate

Use separate ad sets for mobile and desktop so you can optimize your ads, bids and conversions based on device. Ads and calls to action are likely to perform differently on desktop versus mobile, and any ad setup should take that into account.

If you’re using Power Editor, you can select the device targeting directly from the Ad Set menu.

facebook ad placement options

Use separate ad sets for mobile and desktop.

#2: Optimize Desktop News Feed and Right-Column Ads Separately

One of the best practices in marketing is to set up highly segmented ads. Separating desktop news feed and right-column ads is necessary for optimizing campaigns by device, placement and any other targeting option.

facebook ad placements

Desktop news feed ads have much larger images than right-column ads.

In the image above, you can see a desktop news feed ad has a bigger image and a different overall structure than a right-column ad. This means that the same ad can perform much differently in the two placements.

If you want to maximize your performance, you need to optimize news feed and right-column ads separately.

Facebook allows you to customize your targeting for desktops in a submenu of the Placement menu at the Ad Set level.

#3: Test Different Images

Images are the most important element of your ads and the number-one factor when people decide whether to click a post. Test out different images and find the ones that maximize your click-through rate and conversions.

Once you identify the best images, find more of the same style and keep testing. Below, look at the click-through rates to see how big a difference an image can make.

facebook ad image performance comparison

The bottom image performed significantly better than the other two images.

#4: Choose a Call to Action

Facebook allows you to select a call to action in your ads. Calls to action can have a significant impact on your click-through rate, as well as your conversion rate, and you should split test them thoroughly over time.

You can find the call to action options in the Ad Setup menu. Currently, the choices are Book Now, Download, Learn More, Shop Now and Sign Up.

facebook ad image performance comparison

Select a call to action for your ad.

#5: Segment Audiences Into Ad Sets

Different interests will perform differently within the same set of ads. As a general rule, you should group your target interests into topics and create one ad set per topic.

For instance, suppose that your target interests are:

  • AdWords
  • AdWords expert
  • Google Certification Program
  • Facebook ads
  • Facebook marketing
  • Facebook marketing solutions
  • Facebook marketing hour day
  • Online advertising
  • Digital marketing
  • Marketing online

You can identify three topics of interest and therefore three ad sets for your Facebook campaign, as shown below.

facebook ad sets by topic

Create one ad set for each topic.

This segmentation allows you to optimize based on different interests and create ads focused on topics related to the ad set you’re targeting.

#6: Install a Conversion Pixel

This is an obvious tip, but surprisingly many businesses neglect to install conversion pixels.

To create a conversion pixel, log into your ad manager and click on Conversion Tracking.

facebook ad conversion tracking

Click on Conversion Tracking to create a conversion pixel.

On the next page that appears, click the green Create Pixel button in the upper right part of the screen.

facebook conversion tracking button

Click the Create Pixel button.

Follow the guided setup to finish creating your conversion pixel. Once you receive the code, make sure you install the code in the footer of your thank-you page.

Now you can better track the results of your marketing efforts on Facebook.

#7: Specify a Conversion Code

Facebook allows you to create multiple conversion codes because you may want to track several goals on your website—such as visiting the shopping cart page and the thank-you page. Or you may simply want to advertise for different domains.

Facebook needs to know what code your ad is supposed to use for conversion tracking purposes. Hence, you need to supply one for each ad in your ad sets.

In Power Editor (or the live account if you prefer that), click on Use a Conversion Tracking Pixel at the bottom of your ad setup.

Next, decide whether to use an existing code or create a new one. You can also choose from existing conversion tracking pixels (see the red arrow in the image below) or choose an existing pixel to optimize for conversions.

existing facebook conversion pixel

To use existing conversion tracking pixels, click the button indicated by the red arrow.

The latter option is useful if you have a conversion pixel installed and want Facebook to optimize ads based on that particular conversion pixel.

For example, say you installed conversion pixels on both the shopping cart page and the thank-you page. Naturally you would want to optimize ads so you get more visits to the thank-you page.

Unless you want to optimize by clicks, I recommend setting up both of these options: the first option (the one with the red arrow) to count your conversions, and the second option to optimize for one specific kind of conversion—such as completed checkouts.

#8: Target by Behaviors

Many businesses use Facebook ads to target interests exclusively. However, keep in mind that targeting behaviors pays off more often than not.

Examples of behaviors you can target on Facebook are Training and Publications (people who buy items relating to business training and publications), Console Gamers and Primary Browser: Internet Explorer (people who primarily connect to Facebook using Internet Explorer).

To target behaviors, you need to select them in the ad set menu either in the live account or in Power Editor, as shown below.

existing facebook ad behavior targeting

Select the behaviors you want to target.

Create separate ad sets for each behavior topic similarly to what you saw earlier for interests.

#9: Target by Income

Some businesses sell products that are more expensive than their competitors’ or simply target the richest portion of the population. Facebook can be a gold mine for these businesses because you can target people based on their annual income.

To target by income, you need to go into the live account or Power Editor and enter the settings of your ad set. Click on More Demographics and then click on Income to select your desired income target, as shown below.

facebook ad income targeting

Select the income range you want to target.

As you can see in the screenshot on the left, there are many other targeting options you can use. Test the ones that make sense for your business and remember to keep your ad set structure as segmented as possible.

#10: Set Up a Remarketing Pixel

Potential customers who visited your website via any traffic source (including Google AdWords) but did not convert are most likely comparing prices and providers. By the time they’re done, they may have forgotten your business altogether.

This is where remarketing on Facebook comes in. And yes, this is one of the best ways to reach out to traffic that originally came via Google AdWords.

To set up a remarketing pixel, log into your advertising manager and click on Audiences, as shown below.

facebook ad audiences

Click Audiences to set up a remarketing pixel.

Next, click on Create Audience, and then click Custom Audience and Website Traffic in the top-right corner of your screen to start a step-by-step process to create the remarketing pixel.

Once you install the code in the footer of the website, go back to the Website Traffic drop-down menu and select People Who Visit Specific Web Pages, as shown here.

facebook ad website traffic targeting options

Select this option after installing the code in your website footer.

You can then create lists of people visiting a specific page of your website and target or exclude them from your campaign. A useful best practice is to create a list of people visiting your thank-you page and then not advertise to them since they already converted.

#11: Identify Profitable Age Groups and Genders

Not all age groups and genders perform the same. You may discover that you’re wasting your money on unprofitable age categories or that you’re missing opportunities by not dedicating enough budget to a gender that is generating the majority of sales for a given target method.

The best way to analyze age group and gender performance is to log into your ad manager and click on Reports.

facebook reports

Click the Reports option.

On the report page, set up the date range you want to analyze. Then click on Customize Columns to decide what values to report on. Under Breakdown, select Age, Gender or Age and Gender, as shown below.

facebook reports filters

Select Age, Gender or Age and Gender to filter your report.

You can make relevant strategic decisions based on the insights you collect in this report. Check it out on your account now.

#12: Test Lookalike Audiences

A lookalike audience is a list of users whose characteristics are similar to users of a website custom audience. This opens up a lot of opportunities, such as advertising to users similar to those who already visited your website, advertising to users similar to those who visited a specific page or advertising to users similar to the ones who already converted on your site.

To create a lookalike audience, log into your advertising manager and click Audiences. Once you enter your Audiences page, click on Create Audience and select Lookalike Audience from the drop-down menu, as shown here.

facebook audience options

Select this option to create a Lookalike Audience.

Next, select the source audience of your lookalike audience and the target country. Then pick an audience size—the smaller the size you select, the more targeted it will be.

facebook country targeting

Select the target country and audience size.

#13: Target an Email List

Facebook allows you to create a custom advertising audience based on email lists. All you have to do is to create a .csv or .txt file that includes one email per row and excludes any other data.

Once you have that file, click Audiences, then click Create Audience and select Custom Audience from the drop-down menu.

Next, click on Customer List, as shown below. From here, it’s easy to upload your list.

facebook audience options

Click Customer List and then upload your email list.

Keep in mind that you can also upload a list of phone numbers and then target those people in Facebook ads. The process is basically the same as the one I just described. Also, you have the option to create a lookalike audience of your newly created customer list.

#14: Test Bidding Strategies

Bidding strategies significantly influence the success of Facebook ads.

The three main categories for bidding are cost per click, cost per thousand impressions and conversion optimizer (which requires the installation of a conversion code).

Test different bidding methods to find out what reduces the cost per conversion but still gets enough volume. I recommend starting with CPC and conversion optimizer.

You can set up your bidding method at the Ad Set level in the Optimization and Pricing section, shown here.

facebook ad bid options

Select a bid type from this menu.

Whenever you bid per click or use the conversion optimizer, you can decide your maximum cost per click or target cost per acquisition, or let Facebook pick a value for you.

facebook ad pricing options

Set the pricing for your ad.

#15: Schedule Ads

Facebook allows you to segment your ads by days and hours. This option is available only with a lifetime budget and not with the daily budget option. This prerequisite is the reason why most businesses still don’t use this feature.

Lifetime budget refers to the total budget of an ad set and technically does not have a daily limit. If the campaign doesn’t have a reliable performance pattern that has been proven successful over time, this is not the right setting for you.

If you decide to use day and hour parting, you can set it up in the Budget and Schedule section of the ad set, as shown here.

facebook ad scheduling options

Set up scheduling for your ad.

Conclusion

Facebook ads can be highly profitable and drive a significant amount of quality traffic if they’re set up correctly—meaning they’re as targeted as possible—and monitored closely. Being familiar with all of the Facebook advertising possibilities opens the door to new opportunities for your business.

What do you think? Can you improve the effectiveness of your Facebook ad campaigns with these suggestions? What Facebook ad strategies do you use? Leave your questions and comments in the box below.

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  • Owen Hemsath

    Rocco- When targeting your audience is facebook using an AND or an OR system? In other words, if i target two behaviors, will Facebook target users that have behavior 1 AND behavior 2 or will they target behavior 1 OR behavior 2?

  • Ha – just wrote an outline for a blogpost that’s very similar to this one. Great post! I’ll hold off posting mine and simply refer to yours 🙂 Thanks!

  • Rocco Alberto Baldassarre

    Hi Owen,

    Facebook uses a OR targeting system. This allows them to not have narrow audiences and still work well on a OCPM bidding.

  • Rocco Alberto Baldassarre

    Hi Wilco,

    I am glad you enjoyed the post. Facebook is becoming a great advertising tool!

  • Pingback: 15 Ways to Optimize Your Facebook Ads | Social Savvy Business()

  • Pingback: Marketing Day: Facebook Drives 25% Of All Referral Traffic, Digital Marketing's Secret Sauce & Nissan's Super Bowl Ad()

  • Sara

    It seems like when you target by income the reachable audience goes way down. Is that normal?

  • Good one, thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Rocco Alberto Baldassarre

    Yes, It is. I Would recommend to target income but with wide interests to keep your target audience of a decent size

  • Rocco Alberto Baldassarre

    You are welcome Eugene!

  • waled

    thanks for sharing

  • Great post, Rocco! We’ve assisted a number of customers with your tip #13 (targeting an email list), and the results were really promising. Its a great way to do multi-touch marketing and get a consistent message in your prospect’s email inbox as well as within their facebook experience.

  • Mark

    Rocco,
    I’m having an issue with my ads performance dropping off (Optimizing for conversions). The first day it runs great, but on the second and third day it drops way down.
    Examples:
    Day 1 = 20 Conversions
    Day 2 = 3 Conversions
    Day 3 = 1 Conversion
    Do you have any tips for me?
    And Thank you for the great blog post.

  • Rocco Alberto Baldassarre

    You are welcome!

  • Rocco Alberto Baldassarre

    Thanks for your input Austin! I love #13 too!

  • Rocco Alberto Baldassarre

    Hi Mark,

    Are you talking about remarketing ads? If your list is limited in number this performance is typical ( you serve people that are interested and then performance drops because you have no new users to help out).

    Best,
    Rocco

  • Use tools other than FB to access the AND audience targeting functionality – and let the good times roll =D

  • Audience Intersect and AdEspresso are two tools that allow the AND functionality, Owen.

  • Vincent knows!

    Qwaya, too.

  • Louis J. Kowalski

    Rocco,

    Running ads on a schedule does not appear as an option on any of my campaigns, both newly created ones or when I try to edit the ad set. Any idea why this is?

    Thanks,

    Louie

  • Rocco Alberto Baldassarre

    Hi Louie,

    you will find the option in the AdWords editor .

    I hope it helped!

    Rocco

  • Warren Stokes

    One of the things I’m struggling with is that I would create a targeted post with photos but I’ve noticed that the audience that does fit the target specified in the post wont see the text but will see ‘new photos uploaded’ without text. Is there any way around this? I’ve been searching for solution.

  • If you have Ads API access, you can do flexible AND and OR targeting. This has been a major request for years and finally we get it!

  • very usful artilce thank you

  • Rocco Alberto Baldassarre

    Hi Warren,

    Could you please try to describe your issue with some screenshots to better understand it?

    Best,
    Rocco

  • Warren Stokes

    The picture with the description is a targeted post when I’m on the facebook page. The picture of no description is being shown on my personal news feed and looks a bit odd and has no meaning without the description. I guess I’m asking
    If there is a way to hide photo uploads fr showing up.

  • Hi there!

    Your blog post is helpful like always, but the company i am working for is based in a small country and we have broken our heads on guessing how to reach to our customers, as demographic segmentation simply does not work (as too few people in comparison to USA, and many of them don’t publicly give their information or do not say at all).
    So, the question is – what would you suggest? Are there any aps or ways to reach to the particular region/interest? Is there a trick we missed? Now we are organising a seminar in a smaller city, for example. And Ads Manager only offers “Latvia” – there is no region we need on the list.
    Our FB page is fresh and does not have too many followers yet, so we’re trying to reach out to the new people.

    Thanks!

  • Dejeesh dev

    Very insightful post Rocco, thanks for the awesome tips. Anyhow, just have a question, do you have any specific advise for me to lower the CPL.

    I have read somewhere and experienced that if we are narrow down the targeting options in FB platform there is chances for higher CPL, or else if we are targeting broadly the CPL could be lowered. Is it try Rocco?

  • Very helpfull, thanks for share 🙂

  • Simo

    Great article.
    one question please : when we choose OCPM (optimized for ….), does FB charge us for 1000 impressions or for that action ?
    Thanks

  • Persida

    How does FB get info on the income level of users? Thanks!

  • They partner with third parties (like credit companies) is my understanding.

  • If you’re using oCPM then you are paying for impressions, but the ad should be optimized for the objective you set at the campaign level (website clicks, conversions, etc)

  • Satish Pandey

    Great Post Dear Rocco!! Thanks for sharing, I am new learner of these things… learning great from you guys and applying on my social media projects. Thanks again!

  • Casey Sky

    Can I find out when (times of day) people are clicking my FB ads? Does Facebook optimize the times it shows our ads? I am concerned that my small budget is getting used up early in the day each day and that because of that we are hitting only the early-risers.

  • Rocco Alberto Baldassarre

    Hi Casey,

    You will be able to find this information in Google analytics by using proper UTM tags from Facebook.

    Best,
    Rocco

  • Rocco, great is such an over used and old school term but it describes the value that you bring with this article. Thank you for your work here. It is definitive, detailed, and insightful.

  • great sharing

  • Bailey LeRoux

    I’m having an issue with Facebook Ads. I created an ad in ads manager. In the program it showed me that the ad was visible the way I created it to be. After it went live and I got notifications about people commenting on the ad, when I clicked through to see the post I realized that the wrong image was being shown in the link preview. I triple checked Ads Manager, and from the back end, I’ve done everything right. The ad looks perfect from the ads manager preview, and it is still showing incorrectly to my audience.

    I’ve contacted Facebook several times in several different ways with absolutely no response. Even in the ads help email section where they promise a response in 24 hours..

    Is there anyone I can talk to about how to address this problem with Facebook, or at least fix my ads!?