Many people think Facebook Ads are a silver bullet for their digital marketing, but frankly they’re not.
All too many times, I have had conversations with businesses that say, “We need to do something, anything really, to save our business / increase our cash flow / sell more event tickets / insert your own business need here — So let’s try Facebook Ads. I’ve heard that works.”
Don’t get me wrong, Facebook Ads absolutely work— but I repeat, they are no silver bullet.
There’s a lot that goes into doing them right, but what does that look like?
First things first, make sure your foundations are set up properly.
Is your pixel installed correctly? Have you tested it all the way through the conversion as if you are the customer? Are the standard events or custom conversions properly triggering at every stage?
If not, drop everything and fix it immediately. Otherwise, you will only waste time and money.
Have you properly built out all of your audiences so that you can focus on prospecting and remarketing without audience overlap and (again) wasting money bidding against yourself?
If you’ve run ads before, have you reviewed what was working and wasn’t? Review what messaging performed best. Did it include emojis? What images converted the most?
There are stories to uncover in the metrics that will share extremely valuable learnings that will save you from wasting time and money making the same mistakes over and over again with your ad creative.
By taking the time and making the effort to set up your foundations properly, you’ll be ready to more efficiently and effectively advertise on Facebook.
Using Facebook Ads as a “one-hit wonder”
This is a cardinal sin.
Never—ever—think of Facebook Ads as something you can only use for a one-off campaign or goal.
For example, I’ve spoken to many businesses who use an upcoming event or product launch as the opportunity to test out Facebook Ads.
While those are good times to get started, you absolutely cannot think putting up one single ad will work. A strategy that helps attract new people into your funnel, nurture them along and then help them convert is how they will ultimately create successful results.
This is because Facebook Ads are ultimately about data. They need time to build data from your pixel and the ads running to learn who to serve your ads to for maximum results.
So it’s time to reframe how you think about Facebook Ads. They are powerful and flexible and should be part of your greater digital marketing ecosystem.
They are used to guide people through each stage of the sales funnel.
They can prospect to find net-new customers and clients, nurture them with educational and helpful information, and finally help them convert.
For example, one of our e-commerce clients has seen really great results with this funnel flow for their Facebook Ads:
We start by attracting new customers with top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) content like videos on how their shoes are made and the utter care that goes into each and every pair.
We also run middle-of-the-funnel (MOFU) ads that introduce the founder and his vision, as well as product launches. Then, to help grow the opt-in email list (which is critical for e-commerce businesses), we offer a 10% off incentive.
Next we use the strong influencer reviews they have to keep creating FOMO and desire. Along with this, we promote featured products like best-sellers and also new product releases.
Lastly, in the bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) stage, we have an intricate stepped retargeting “stack” to gently remind people who have viewed products, added them to their cart, initiated checkout, but haven’t purchased within a few days.
Once they do purchase, the company's founder says thank you through ads so that they feel like part of the community.
Ultimately, Facebook Ads helped along each step of the buyer’s journey to make them believe in the brand and why they want to join the community.
And it can do the same for your brand too.
Make a promise now—to never think of Facebook Ads as a quick, single campaign again. To truly realize the results they can bring, start mapping out your sales process now to create a complimentary full-funnel in ads.
BONUS TIP: Map your assets and offers to see how you can create a full-funnel approach. Here are some examples of hooks for each stage:
Opt-in Contests & Giveaways
Testimonials / User Generated Content
Brand Loyalty/Referral Programs
Reminders and Incentives
Thinking Facebook Ads exist in isolation
Just as you need to think about your Facebook Ads with a full-funnel approach, you also need to think about how they relate to your entire digital marketing presence and plan.
Think about the other paid ads you may be running, for example.
We never offer Facebook Ads alone to our clients— we only work with an omni-channel approach to include any paid media channels (i.e. Google, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Microsoft Ads, etc.) that are appropriate for our clients.
Each ad platform can help serve a different audience, as well as different stage of the funnel.
Each one serves a unique purpose, and when they work together, it’s magical, but you must take your activity on one into account when developing strategies on another so that it is cohesive.
My Google Ads Strategist (and BFF) Jason Linde and I spoke about our omni-channel ads approach and why it’s so important to ebb and flow together to take all of the new interest generated from Facebook Ads and nurture them with Google Ads.
Ignoring the role your website plays
All ads ultimately lead somewhere, but how does your “somewhere” perform?
For instance, how is your site speed?
Many people don’t realize this, but poor site speed can really hurt your Facebook Ads as it is factored into the bidding and algorithm process.
Pages that load slow can get penalized, not to mention and equally as important, create a bad user experience.
The same goes for conversion rate.
If you see that your site has a low conversion rate, you must fix it immediately.
Whether lead gen or e-comm, if your site is not converting, sending ads to it won’t help.
It will just waste your money.
You see, your Facebook ads can be perfect, but if your website copy, design, shopping cart, etc is flawed when someone clicks through, they may not get you the results you want.
This may make you believe there is a problem with your Facebook Ads when there isn’t.
That is what happened recently with an e-commerce client of ours.
The client saw business revenue was down and quickly concluded that our Facebook Ads must not be working, but we were actually exceeding our goals.
We did some digging and realized the client was actually struggling to reach a 1% conversion rate (CVR) on their site — the minimum benchmark for a healthy e-commerce site.
While not directly related to their Facebook Ads, we pulled in our data analyst, e-commerce strategist, and a designer to review the site UX and see if we could identify any issues to help improve site conversion and bring revenue back up.
The client implemented the recommendations and jumped from a 0.8% CVR to being over 1.25% two months in a row.
Let’s get real about that though; What did that really mean for them (and their Facebook Ads)?
The way things were, if their AOV (Average Order Value) was $175, they had 100,000 site visitors, and a conversion rate of 0.8%, that meant only 800 people visiting the site made a purchase.
Under those conditions, the brand’s monthly revenue would be $140,000.
What happened when they made changes to the website to get its conversion rate to 1.25%?
100,000 site visitors x 1.25% conversion rate = 1,250 purchase x $175 AOV = $218,750 in overall site revenue.
Which would you rather have—$140,000 in revenue or $218,750?
With an improved website conversion rate, our client would not only see overall revenue increase, but we would be equipped to see even better results from our Facebook Ads as well.
Never underestimate the power of your site’s conversion rate.
Not understanding your goals or key metrics
If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know if you are there? Make sure you set specific goals to track against with your Facebook Ads.
Even if you don’t have benchmarks to work off of, set expectations so that as you build your own benchmarks, you can see if you are headed in the right direction.
Some key metrics that you should monitor include:
ROAS (Return on Ad Spend)
Business ROAS (total revenue / total ad spend)
Add to Cart
Cart conversion rate (purchases / add to cart)
Cost per Purchase
Post Saves (I like to see if people want to keep easy access to the ads)
This is a little trickier because I like to create Custom Conversions to easily track the page views against the action for those pages.
Customized View Content(s)
Cost per Customized Lead(s)
Knowing these metrics will help you understand how your ad strategy is performing.
In addition to this data, make sure you know the value of your lead, in turn, how many leads you need to generate!
For example, we have a client whose final stage for their lead is a call with a sales person. We know on average it takes 63 requests to speak with the sales team to generate a new client. We then look at their goal of 10 new clients for the month and know our goal is to generate 630 call requests per month.
Since Facebook Ads don’t always complete the conversion for lead gen, it’s crucial to know how many leads it takes to convert a sale. Your ads should drive towards the lead goal for you.
That being said, read my lips, “Don’t buy into your default settings in Google Analytics” when it comes to these metrics.
The out-of-the-box setup from Google Analytics is not nuanced and will make monitoring them completely unreliable.
The default settings don’t understand your site referrals and traffic. You must take the time to develop your custom channels in order to accurately report attribution and make ad optimization decisions.
For example, most reporting systems are set to last click and this is not always an accurate representation of your buyer’s journey to purchase. You can hear me on my soapbox explaining the importance of understanding attribution here.
And of course you should understand your native channel benchmarks and how those relate to the reporting in Google Analytics and HubSpot.
Having unrealistic expectations of your budget
Set realistic budgets, please; I beg of you.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: You can’t target everyone in the United States, 18-65+ for $5 a day and expect your ads to work quickly (or at all).
That’s just not possible.
As I mentioned above, you need to allocate budget for ads in each stage of your buyer’s journey.
You’ll need to spend more top-of-funnel to fill your funnel and have room to nurture through to conversion.
You need that holistic mindset with your budget, especially if you are on multiple channels, as that will naturally mean you are spending in more avenues.
For example, if you would like to focus on one event, product, or service and budget $500 to promote on Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn, that’s simply not going to be effective.
We recommend a minimum of $3,000 per channel per month to generate results.
This is media buying; it’s a skill that is honed through trial and error. It’s not based on emotion, it’s based on metrics.
When starting a campaign, we always set up a creative test so that we can test theories, explore new formats, and see how copy and emojis perform.
If ads aren’t working, keep testing. Is it your targeting? Is it the creative? Is it the format? Keep experimenting until you find what works.
Facebook Ads may not be the silver bullet you initially hoped for. They definitely are not a singular ad that works outside of your entire sales process. And they may be more expensive than you originally thought.
But when you make them an integral part of your digital marketing ecosystem, they can create magical results.