An (in-depth) Beginners Guide to Facebook Ads
You don’t have to spend a long time in the online marketing world to learn that Facebook Ads are an incredible way to grow your business.
In fact, 92% of marketers are using Facebook for advertising.
However, if you’re still on the fence about launching your own Facebook Ads campaign, it might be fear the of the unknown that is stopping you.
After all, you may have never run a paid traffic campaign of your own before, so you may not know what to expect.
In this article, we’re going to examine in extreme detail, how the Facebook Ads platform works.
We’ll cover topics such as creating the perfect ad, targeting effectively and bidding the right amounts for your ads too.
By the end of this article, you’ll be well on your way to creating a profitable Facebook Ads campaign of your own.
Who Is Your Customer?
Facebook is an incredible ad platform because it allows for you to target your ads in ways that just aren’t possible on other ad platforms.
However, you won’t be able to effectively use the targeting options on offer, if you don’t know who your customer is.
After all, there are over 1.44 billion people on the platform, and they can’t all be your customer!
However, your customer is there, and they’re hanging around for 40 minutes a day.
To take advantage of this, it is essential that before you do anything else you become crystal clear on who your customer is.
So how can you do this?
Creating A Buyer Persona
One of the best ways you can achieve this goal, is by creating something known as a buyer persona.
A buyer persona will allow for you to work out the following information about your customers —
Their demographic (age, gender, location, education level and income)
It is worth mentioning, that the more specific you can be here, the better you’ll be able to target your Facebook Ads.
We’ll talk more about this later, but relevance is a big thing when running paid ads.
If your ads are not relevant to the people you’re showing them to, then your results aren’t going to great.
In any case, when you have this information, you will be able to create something known as a customer avatar.
A customer avatar is a highly accurate representation of who your customer is.
Using this customer avatar, you should be able to target your ads, with incredible precision.
Using Audience Insights
However, there are in fact other methods that you can use, in order to work out who your customer is.
One such method is using Audience Insights — a tool provided by Facebook that unearths in depth information in relation to specific ‘audiences.’
The information is provided by Facebook users, but also by Facebook themselves, as they provide data in terms of how certain users interact with the platform.
Interaction levels are high on Facebook and people are engaging with the platform more and more. Because of this, the data provided is fairly reliable.
There are two methods available to you, if you want to harness the power of Audience Insights.
The first is to input some basic information, related to your customer avatar, of which you discovered above.
This, of course, requires that you have some information ahead of time based on who your customer is.
You don’t have to have a lot of detailed info, just a rough sense, as the Audience Insights tool will allow provide you with a lot more information once you input the basic details.
In fact, if you only know the interests of your customer, you’ll be able to gather a lot of useful data from the Audience Insights tool.
The second is to use the Audience Insights tool to learn more about a list you have uploaded.
To do that you simply create something known as a Custom Audience, by providing Facebook with list of email addresses or phone numbers.
When using this method, it is important that the list you upload, is representative of the kind of campaign you’re looking to run.
For instance, it is of no use to upload a list in the ‘weight loss’ niche, if you’re looking to create a campaign in the ‘grow your business’ niche.
Let’s take a look at how you’d use the Audience Insights tool to turn a basic customer avatar into a detailed one.
Login to Facebook, and then go to https://www.facebook.com/ads/audience_insights/
You’ll then see the following page.
Select the ‘Everyone on Facebook’ option.
You then need to input some basic information, based on who you’re going to be targeting your ads towards.
At the very least, we need to know interests.
Let’s assume that we’re looking to sell a course related to email marketing, to people in the United States.
In the ‘Interests box,’ I have typed in ‘Email Marketing.’
Because Email Marketing is a popular topic, Facebook was able to provide Email Marketing as an interest.
If you want to further define your targeting, it might be a good idea to add some influencers within the email marketing niche, into the interests section.
If you don’t know who such influencers might be, you’ll need to do some research.
One way you can do this, is by using the Facebook Graph search feature.
Simply type in the keyword, ‘Email Marketing,’ into the Facebook search bar.
Then select the ‘Pages,’ option.
You now have a list of ‘influencers,’ that you can include in your ‘Interests’ section within the Audience Insights tool.
It will be a little hit and miss, in terms of who you can input into the ‘Interests’ section.
Though it’s worth trying any names and pages you do come across, of which are relevant to your niche.
Just by putting in that basic information, Facebook has provided us with a lot of data, based on this demographic.
Let’s go through each bit of data provided.
As you can see, Facebook let’s us know the ‘Age’ and ‘Gender’ of this group.
The darker bars, represent the audience we have created.
The majority of this audience exists between the ages of 25-54.
This could be related to the fact that 29.7% of Facebook users are between 25-34. Though the Facebook user base is so large, that it’s probably just a coincidence.
There’s not really a statistically significant variation in the gender.
We can also see that the majority of this audience is either single or married.
There is a ‘-25%,’ because this audience has 25% less people who are married when proportionally measured against the rest of Facebook.
This audience is also mainly made up of people who have attended college.
There’s also evidence to show that the top three job titles of those interested in the topic of Email Marketing, are in ‘Production,’ ‘Sales’ and ‘Management.’
We’re also provided with some information, based on what kinds of ‘Pages,’ this demographic tends to like.
Facebook users like 40 Pages on average, so this is something to pay attention to, if you want to identify interests.
Interestingly, there are some unusual pages mentioned here. However, I have highlighted some that might be worth targeting.
The ‘Locations’ tab, let’s us know the various cities in which this audience mainly resides.
If you click on the ‘Activity,’ tab, you’ll be able to see how this audience interacts with Facebook.
It is evident that this audience is used to clicking on ads.
There’s also reason to believe that most of the people who belong to this audience use ‘Desktop & Mobile,’ when interacting with Facebook — something to keep in mind when adjusting the targeting options.
There are also some other tabs provided by Facebook in the Audience Insights tool of which rely on 3rd party data.
However, it is worth mentioning that these other options aren’t provided for all countries, as Facebook tends to use 3rd party data to populate the charts, of which isn’t available for all countries.
So that’s how you’d use Audience Insights to turn a basic customer avatar, into a very detailed one.
Using the information above, we now know that if we want to run a campaign, designed to promote an email marketing course, we ought to target —
Males and Females
Aged between 25-54
Single or Married
Interests in PeopleFluent, Hubspot, Marketo, SpyFu, Hootsuite, BigCommerce Social Media Examiner, Social Media Today and Hubspot
Job roles - Production, Sales and Management
Live in New York, LA and Houston
Desktop and Mobile Users
We also mentioned earlier, how we could use the Custom Audience feature, to work out the demographics and interests of a list that we may already have in our possession.
Here’s how you’d do that.
To upload a custom audience into Facebook, go to https://www.facebook.com/ads/manager/audiences/
Then click on Create Audience and select ‘Custom Audience.’
Then choose ‘Customer List.’
Then select whichever option applies to you.
Once you’ve gone through this process, you’ll then be able to select your custom audience, when using the Audience Insights tool.
You can then use the information provided, to laser target your ads.
Okay, so now that we’ve covered that topic, let’s talk about what it takes to actually create an awesome ad.
Social proof is a big deal, and it can really move the needle when you’re trying to convince prospects who might otherwise be on the fence.
Creating Your Ad
Unfortunately, Facebook is the king of distractions.
In fact there’s evidence to show that ⅓ of people use Facebook whilst driving!
Now we’re not trying to reach people whilst they’re driving, of course. However, the whole point of mentioning that stat, is to exemplify that idea that Facebook is distraction heavy.
Because of this, you need to find a way to create ads that are going to break through the noise and get noticed.
Otherwise, people will just scroll past your ads, and click on something else — maybe even the competitors ads.
Remember — there are two million other advertisers out there!
Thankfully, there are a couple of things that you can do in order to create an ad that is going to generate great results.
Ads have three main components —
Now, there's a lot more you could focus on, but getting those three aspects right will allow for you to create an ad that has a high chance of succeeding.
It’s also worth mentioning that Facebook provides three main kinds of ads.
Sidebar Ads, Newsfeed Ads and Mobile Ads.
Even though these are different ad formats, the principles we’re going to discuss, tend to remain the same for both ad variations.
Writing High Converting Headlines
If you’re not used to writing headlines, creating one can seem like a hard thing to do.
However, even if you have very little experience when it comes to writing headlines, there are a few actions you can take to shortcut the process.
One such action, is to create something known as a Swipe File.
This is where you take a screenshot of every headline you see that catches your eye or causes you to take action.
The fact that these headlines caught your eye, or even better, got you to take action, means that they’re effective headlines.
When writing your own headlines, you can reverse engineer these headlines, to create something that is appealing.
You can also take the approach of creating a headline from scratch, by sticking to a few proven principles.
One is to use numbers in your headline.
Of course, this will depend on the kind of offering you are advertising, but let’s take a look at some examples to further identify what you need to do.
The ad below is a great example of how numbers can be used to promote an offering.
Here’s an example of a sidebar ad, that uses numbers.
Numbers work well, because they’re a great way to quantify the value that is on offer.
‘101 web tips’ increases the perception of value. The offering sounds a lot more high value than if the ad above just had ‘web tips’ as a headline.
Another way you can create a great headline for your ad, is by invoking curiosity.
This can be a powerful way to get people to click on your ads. However, if you’re going to use this method, you need to be careful.
That’s because if your targeting is poor, your ads will receive a lot of curiosity clicks.
That means people will just click on your ads to see what they’re about.
This can lead to low conversion rates, of which will mean the return on investment on your ads is going to be low.
In any case, here are some Facebook Ads that use curiosity well.
Here’s another one.
This ad below has a curiosity headline, but the description section does a great job at explaining the headline (something we’ll cover more later).
Now let’s look at the other action you can take to create effective headlines — using ‘Power Words.’
Such words include ‘Free,’ ‘You,’ and ‘,Ultimate,.’
You’ve probably seen a lot of these ‘Power Words’ whilst reading blog post headlines.
Here are some examples of Ads that use ‘Power Words.’
And another one.
Here’s a Sidebar Ad that uses ‘Power Words.’
As well as ‘Power Words,’ you can use a technique that is known as ‘entering the conversation that is going on the mind of the prospect.’
The technique can be really powerful, if you want to draw attention.
You could present these headlines in a ‘how to’ format, or you could just state a certain benefit.
Here are some examples.
Here’s an ad targeted at people who are thinking about how they can generate more traffic.
Here’s another one, designed for people who are once more, struggling to generate traffic.
Here’s one directed towards people who own a SAAS company.
You can bet that people who are in such a position, are thinking about how to get more signups on their landing pages.
Can you see, therefore, how this kind of headline can be so powerful?
So there you have it, if you want to create great headlines consider the following —
Use Power Words
Enter the conversation going on in your prospects mind
Now let’s take a look at how you can create a great description for your ads.
Writing A Description
In general, you’re using the description to explain further the headline that you used in your ad.
If you take a look at some of the ads above, you’ll already have a good sense of what makes a great description.
It is important that you focus on benefits, when writing out your description.
You’ll also want to include a ‘call to action,’ that tells people what to do next.
Let’s take a look at some great description examples —
The ad above has a great description for the following reasons. Firstly, they include a call to action, that tells people to ‘Contact’ them.
Additionally, the description is very heavy on benefits. They explain how the offering is ‘Free’ and that there are ‘No Risks.’
You could also argue that they’ve included a bit of urgency, as they say how the consultation call can take place ‘Today.’
It’s worth mentioning that for Newsfeed Ads you have the ‘Text’ section, which is the text at the top of the ad, and then you have the ‘Newsfeed Link Description.’
Here’s Facebook’s explanation, of what the different components of a Newsfeed ad are.
In general, what you will find, is that the Newsfeed Link Description is used to explain the ‘Text’ and the ‘Headline’
This Newsfeed Ad does a great job at creating a description, because in essence, they’ve used a customer testimonial.
Social proof is a big deal, and it can really move the needle when you’re trying to convince prospects who might otherwise be on the fence.
It also backs up the statement that was made in the ‘Text’ section of the ad.
Here’s another great example of how ‘Text’ and a ‘Newsfeed Link Description’ can work together.
Okay, so now that we have taken a look at how text can influence your Facebook Ads, now let’s take a look at the image.
Social proof is a big deal, and it can really move the needle when you’re trying to convince prospects who might otherwise be on the fence.
The Image aka. Creative
One of the great things about Facebook Ads, is that you can use an image alongside your ads.
However, because Facebook is an image rich platform anyway, you need to go the extra mile to ensure that your images are highly eye catching.
In fact, if you look at the stats, an estimated 75% of content on Facebook is images.
If you take a look at some of the ads from before, you’ll see examples of great image use within Facebook Ads.
You’ll tend to find that images of people, tend to work quite well on Facebook. However, you don’t have to rely on that rule — it’s just something to keep in mind.
There are dozens of theories flying around, as to what makes a great image for Facebook Ads.
For instance, some find that completely irrelevant images, work better than images related to the offer.
However, what you will find is that you’ll need to split test (we’ll cover this later), if you want to find the best image for your paid traffic campaign.
Either way if you want to include text, within your images, you need to stick to the 20% rule.
That is, text can’t take up more that 20% of an image.
Luckily, Facebook provides a tool that will allow for you to catch out any problem images that might not stick to this rule.
Let’s look at some images used in Facebook Ads.
Here’s one Facebook Ad that uses an image quite well.
The text in the image, does a good job at explaining what is on offer.
The fact that the text has been placed against a contrasting background, also makes it stand out.
Here’s another image.
There are a couple of things that make this image work quite well.
First, as mentioned above, the text is placed against a contrasting background, making it stand out.
Additionally, it can be seen that the person in the image, is looking at the text in question.
The person's line of sight within the image, therefore directs what the viewer of the image looks at too.
This can be a great way to draw attention to the text.
On top of that, you’ll also notice that the person has their hand underneath text. This too attracts attention to the text.
Furthermore, if you assess the actual text and what it says, you’ll find that it does a good job at generating intrigue.
‘Six figure FB group,’ is something that sounds appealing to online marketers — of whom this ad was probably targeted towards.
Therefore the text in the image works well at encouraging people to read the rest of the copy within the ad.
Let’s look at another ad.
Once again, this ad works well because the text within the image has been placed against a contrasting background. It also explains in a simple way, what the offer is.
What works really well, however, is the way they’ve made it look as though there is a tear in the ‘paper.’
Within the space caused by the tear, there is once again a contrasting colour and the image of the YouTube logo.
As you can see, this adjustment to the image, makes it quite eye catching.
Here’s another ad, that was shown earlier in this post.
This image works well, because it clearly explains the value that is on offer. It also makes use of the contrasting background, of which we’ve discussed many times already.
So, after having looked at these images, what can we takeaway?
Well, here are a few rules that might be worth sticking to.
Use text to explain what is on offer (but stick to the 20% rule).
Always use contrasting backgrounds for any text you use.
Consider editing the image in a ‘rough’ way, so that it is made eyecatching.
If your image has a person within it, ensure that their line of sight is directed towards the person viewing the ad, or the text in the ad.
After learning that information, you might be wondering how you can create some images of your own.
Though there are many ways you can get the job done, here are two options you might want to consider.
The first, is to find a professional designer on a website like Elance.
Now, you don’t have to use a professional designer to get the job done, as you can design your own ads instead.
If you want to do that, consider taking a look at a platform known as Canva.
Here’s how you’d use Canva to create a Facebook Ad.
Go to Canva.com and become a member.
Then, click on the ‘Use Custom Dimensions’ link.
Facebook has some rules in terms of how big the images can be for each of the ad variations.
Luckily, Jon Loomer created a page that let’s us know what sizes we need to use for our images.
You can use the image dimensions provided above, when inputting the information for your custom ad.
Let’s use the dimensions provided for the NewsFeed Ads.
Once you’ve provided the necessary dimensions, click on the ‘Design!’ button.
You’ll then see this page.
You’ll see that on the left of this image, you can go through each of the elements that you want to modify within the image.
If you want to, you can upload your own images.
However, ensure that you have the rights to any images that you use.
Canva also provides some premium images and themes, of which you will be charged for.
However, the costs are often quite low, and in relative terms if you create a great ad, it should all be worth it.
Here’s something I created fairly quickly, using the free options provided by Canva.
Of course, it could be made a lot more compelling, though I just wanted to show you what was possible.
Once you’ve created an image you’re proud of, click on the ‘Download,’ button and then choose the .JPG option.
Once your image has downloaded, you’ll want to quickly check if it follows the Facebook 20% rule.
To do that, head over to https://www.facebook.com/ads/tools/text_overlay
And then upload your image.
You should then see your image.
Click on the boxes where there is text present, and Facebook will then tell you if the image is suitable.
Okay, so we’ve gone through the importance of targeting your ads properly, and we’ve discussed how to create a great ad.
Now let’s look at how you can actually go through the process of creating a campaign of your own.
Creating a Facebook Ads campaign
To create your ad, go to https://www.facebook.com/ads/manager
For the sake of this post, we’re going to focus on sending people to a website. Therefore, pick the ‘Send people to your website,’ option.
Enter in your URL.
Enter in some targeting information, based on what we were discussing earlier in the post.
Once you’ve adjusted the targeting settings, then you need to focus on budgeting.
Everyone has their own set of rules for budgeting their ads.
However, here is a strategy that I have found to work quite well.
Initially, spend around $5-10 per day, to ‘warm up,’ the ad set. Keep this kind of spending going until you’ve spent in total, around $100.
If, by this stage, the ads are generating results, you can increase the daily budget. However, if they’re not providing the return you’re looking for, you should stop this campaign.
You then need to decide how you want your ad to look.
Facebook is now providing an option known as ‘Carousel Ads.’
These ads can be a great way to showcase an entire product range, within a single ad. They’re also pretty effective if you’re running an Instagram campaign.
For now, however, we’re going to select the ‘A single image or video in your ads,’ option.
You then need to upload the images you created for your ad.
After that, you’ll need to enter in the copy for your ad.
You can fill this information out, using the principles that we discussed earlier on in the post.
As you might have noticed, there is also the option to pick a ‘Call-to-Action’ button.
What works will vary between different ads, so just experiment here, and try to pick one that best matches the kind of offering you’re advertising.
It is important that you click on the ‘Show Advanced Options’ link, so that you can enter in a Newsfeed Link Description.
You’ll notice that to the right of this section, is a preview of your ad.
Within this section, it is important that you remove the locations you do not want to advertise on.
Upon adjusting those settings, you then need to click on the ‘Place Order,’ button.
Your ads will then be reviewed, and if all is well, they will soon go live.
Optimizing your ads over time
So there you have it.
You’ve done all that you can to create a brilliant ad, and your ad has been reviewed and accepted.
Winning result right?
Just because you’ve done the above, does not mean that your ads are destined to succeed.
Even the best marketers out there, struggle to get things right on their first go.
Therefore because of this, you’ll want to do something known as split testing.
Split testing is where you create multiple variations of the same ad.
Split testing can come to the rescue, when you’re not exactly sure what makes a great ad.
By creating multiple variations of a single ad, there is an increased chance of you finding one that is going to be a winner.
So how do you go about split testing?
Facebook Ad campaigns generally follow the format below.
As you can see, each ad set can contain within it, multiple ads.
So when you’re split testing your ads, you will want to include several variations of a single ad, within that ad set.
Here are a few things that you can split test.
For instance, you might want to split test the description, by including some hashtags.
Research shows that it is best to keep Hashtags between 1-3.
If you want to split test the targeting, you will need to put your ads within a new ad set.
Dealing with Ad Fatigue
Ad Fatigue is a common issue with Facebook Ads and unfortunately it is something that you will just have to deal with, if you want to make use of the platform.
If you don’t know what Ad Fatigue is, it is when an existing, ‘high performing’ ad experiences lower ‘Click-through-rates’ (CTR) over time.
The reason this happens is because your ads are being shown to the same people over and over again.
This leads to them becoming bored of your ad and developing something known as ‘Banner Blindness.’
You therefore need to have a plan, in terms of how you’re going to deal with this ad.
As mentioned, you’ll know that Ad Fatigue is setting in, when a previously high performing ad, begins to hit lower CTRs.
The best way to deal with this problem is to create new bunch of ads.
You’re not starting entirely from scratch, however, as you can use some lessons learned from the last ad set, to guide your creative process.
If your ads are suffering from Ad Fatigue, it might be worth experimenting with the targeting.
For instance, if you know that your ads are performing well, it might be a good idea to target another english speaking country, such as the UK or Australia, instead of just the U.S.A.
The Landing Page
We could spend a long time, talking about how you can optimize your landing page so that it properly converts.
However, for now, let’s just cover a few important points.
When it comes to optimizing your landing page, one of the most important things you’ll want to account for is a match in messaging between your ad and your landing page.
For instance, if your ad has a certain headline, you may want to use the same headline on the landing page — or at least one that is very similar.
You might also want to include the same colour scheme too.
By promoting a messaging match, you’ll be able to improve the sense that those who have clicked on your ads, are going to get what they were promised.
Of course, you're free to split test your landing pages to.
You can use a tool like Optimizely to do that.
It’s worth experimenting with different headlines, to see which one is going to perform best.
Though you need to ensure that you’re sending enough traffic to the page, or else the results you end up with might not be statistically significant.
It may also be a good idea to experiment with things like ‘trust badges’ or ‘testimonials’ too.
It’s also worth taking a look at the offering you’re providing too, to see if it’s actually something that people want.
Once you get used to running Facebook Ads, you can start to experiment with some of the more advanced options that are provided by the platform.
One that might really help you out, is the ‘Retargeting,’ feature provided by Facebook.
30% of people have a ‘positive reaction’ to Retargeting.
There’s a number of ways that this can work, but essentially it would go like this.
You install a ‘Facebook Pixel,’ on your site.
Then when people visit your site, they are tracked by the ‘Facebook Pixel.’ They then see ads related to your website, when they are on Facebook.
This can be incredibly powerful when implemented on e-commerce sites.
It can also help you improve your targeting options.
You can use the data gathered by the pixel, to create something known as a ‘Lookalike Audience.’
You can then create highly targeted ads, based on the demographic and interests of those who already visit your site.
Facebook is an incredibly powerful platform if you want to run a paid traffic campaign.
However, as with all paid traffic platforms, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re going to lose a lot of money quickly.
Because of this it helps to understand the right way of doing things ahead of time.
In this post, we have taken a look at some of the strategies you can use, if you want to do things the right way.
For instance, we looked at how to get your targeting right, but we also looked at how to create a great ad too.
It’s important, however, that you’re also aware of common issues such as Ad Fatigue.
In any case, now that you’re aware of the essentials, you can confidently create a Facebook Ads campaign of your own.
Time to get started!