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Beginner’s Guide to Successful Facebook Ads

Thinking of diving into Facebook ads? Wondering what the common pitfalls are?

In this article, you’ll discover three important considerations when starting your first Facebook ad campaign

#1: Commit to a Facebook Funnel Implementation

All successful marketing starts with a clear strategy and Facebook advertising is no exception. With a strategy built around your available audience assets, you can execute campaigns that will deliver the best results for your business in the fastest time.

You want to implement a Facebook advertising strategy that moves someone from a stranger to a paying customer through a series of ad campaigns, known as a Facebook ad funnel.

There are three stages to a successful Facebook ad funnel:

  • Awareness: At the top of the ad funnel, the goal is to generate awareness of your business. In doing so, you’re also building recognition in the Facebook news feed, which is important later in the funnel, as well as for your business’s credibility and authority.
  • Engagement remarketing: For this stage, the goal is to build consideration of your products or services in the minds of your target audience. You’re driving people from Facebook to your website to find out more and purchase.
  • Website remarketing: The goal at this stage is to drive sales and leads by engaging people who have visited your website.

You always want to start the funnel implementation at the awareness stage because these campaigns target cold audiences of new people and don’t use existing audiences.

Whether you implement the other two funnel stages—engagement and website remarketing—will depend on your answers to the following two questions:

  • Do you have Facebook pixeled website traffic?
  • Do you have other existing engaged audiences? These are engagement-based custom audiences that include video viewers and Facebook page engagers.

If you answered yes to both questions (meaning you have pixeled website traffic and other existing engaged audiences), you can start with all three campaigns: awareness, engagement remarketing, and website remarketing.

If you answered yes to the first question (you have pixeled website traffic) but no to the second question (you don’t have other existing engaged audiences), you can launch both awareness and website remarketing campaigns at the same time.

If you answered no to the first question (you don’t have pixeled website traffic) but yes to the second question (you have other existing engaged audiences), you can start with awareness and engagement remarketing.

If you answered no to both questions (you don’t have any pixeled website traffic or existing engaged audiences), you have to start from scratch. Here’s how:

  • Start with the awareness stage.
  • Once you have enough engaged audiences, implement engagement remarketing, which drives people to your website.
  • Once you have enough website traffic, implement website remarketing.

#2: Set Up and/or Optimize Your Facebook Pixel Settings

The work you do researching and setting up new Facebook ad campaigns can be worthless if you aren’t tracking the results and then optimizing your campaigns. If you don’t install the Facebook pixel and conversion events, you won’t know if your campaigns are delivering the desired results and you won’t be able to measure your return on ad spend (ROAS).

So once you’ve decided on your Facebook ads strategy, set up your Facebook pixel and conversion tracking and/or turn on advanced pixel settings.

Install the Pixel and Conversion Events

There are two parts to tracking on Facebook. The first part is the Facebook pixel, which is a piece of code that you install across your whole website. It allows you to build website custom audiences so you can target your website visitors with Facebook ads.

The second part is conversion events, also known as standard events. These are specific actions that someone takes on your website that you can track and attribute to your ad campaigns. These actions include product page views, add to cart, initiate checkout, purchases, and leads.

Turn on Advanced Facebook Pixel Settings

Once you’ve installed the pixel and event tracking, ensure the following advanced settings are turned on. These are small details that can make a big difference in your pixel’s effectiveness.

Start by navigating to your Events Manager.

From the drop-down icon list, select Settings.

The first setting relates to cookie usage. If it’s set to third-party, change it to first-party. By doing this, your pixel will be implemented on your website and read by browsers as main code, not third-party, so it won’t be excluded from your site.

Also check that automatic advanced matching is turned on. This is the second advanced pixel option you need to turn on. Automatic advanced matching tracks additional pixel data known as microdata so you’ll see a higher attribution and match rate for event actions and website custom audience sizes.

#3: Create Target Audiences

Before you set up any Facebook ad campaigns highlighted in your strategy implementation, you need to create the audiences you’re going to target.

Understand Audience Temperatures

Audiences on Facebook fall into one of three categories: cold, warm, or hot. These are also known as audience temperatures. Each temperature correlates with different audience types, as well as a stage in your Facebook ad funnel.

First up are cold audiences, which contain people who don’t know you and have yet to be exposed to your business. Cold audiences are incredibly important because they’re the foundation of sustainable Facebook advertising and the starting point for the majority of people who will become your customers from your ad campaigns.

Cold audiences are the largest of the three audience temperatures and include both saved audiences and lookalike audiences.

Warm audiences are next. They contain people who have previously engaged with your business on a Facebook-owned property, whether that interaction came via organic or paid content. Warm audiences are Facebook custom audiences, excluding website.

Finally, we have hot audiences. These audiences are comprised of people who have visited your website previously and are familiar with your business but haven’t yet converted into customers or clients. You create hot audiences by using the website custom audience feature.

Create Your Saved, Lookalike, and Custom Audiences

For all of the Facebook ad strategies mentioned earlier, you want to create your cold audiences. These include saved audiences and lookalike audiences.

Before you can create your lookalike audiences, you need to create the source audiences upon which your lookalike audiences will be built. Facebook lets you choose from nine different custom audience types to create your source audiences. You want to choose the one that will deliver the best results, and that depends on what marketing assets you have in your business.

To visualize this, if you have a large database of customers, create a customer list custom audience and use that as your source audience. This will deliver the highest-quality lookalike because you’re essentially cloning your customers.

By creating the source audiences for your lookalike audiences, you’ll have also created some of your warm and hot audiences such as page engagement custom audiences and website custom audiences.

Now finish creating the rest of your warm and hot audiences, which you’ll use in your engagement and website remarketing campaigns.

Pro Tip: With website custom audiences, start with an audience of all traffic in the last 180 days. Then create audiences for 90, 60, 30, 14, 10, and 3 days. Although you might only have enough people to run a campaign to the 180-day audience at the moment, when you start driving people to your website, the audience size of the other durations will start to increase. Eventually, you’ll be able to test the other audience durations for effectiveness.

Conclusion

Facebook has the most advanced targeting capabilities and versatile ad formats of any advertising platform. For these reasons, there are now more than 7 million global advertisers, competition is intense, and ad costs continue to increase year over year.

Anyone can set up Facebook ads in a few minutes by using the Boost functionality so there’s little or no barrier to entry. However, this means that new advertisers can easily jump on the platform, run Boost posts or full ad campaigns with very little knowledge, and find themselves quickly losing money due to mistakes with their campaigns.

So before you set your next campaign live, follow the steps above to put yourself in the best position to see great results from your Facebook advertising.

What do you think? Do you have any other important considerations to add to this list for new Facebook advertisers? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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The most effective method to Scale Valuable Facebook Lookalike Audiences

Want better results from your Facebook advertising? Wondering how to reach more people who look like your top customers?

In this article, you’ll discover how to create and scale high-intent lookalike audiences with Facebook ads.

Why Increasing the Lookalike Percentage Doesn’t Work for Scaling

Facebook lookalike audiences let you reach a large number of people who share the same characteristics as your existing customers. But how do you scale your lookalike audiences without damaging their quality?

While using a larger lookalike percentage could help you reach more people, those people would end up being less similar to your seed audience, and therefore less likely to convert. In other words, increasing the reach would come at the expense of your audience’s quality.

When you increase the lookalike percentage, you may reach a point where the audience becomes so large that it’s similar to a broad audience with no targeting at all. In this case, you’re not helping Facebook narrow down the target audience and are relying more on the algorithm to laser-target your prospects within a huge audience pool. While this could work for large accounts with a lot of data, it isn’t leveraging the full power of lookalike audiences.

A ‘super’ lookalike audience, on the other hand, has the advantage of both size and quality. It’s a combination of different lookalikes—each of which holds very similar characteristics to the custom audience it’s based on—that you target within a single ad set.

A super lookalike maximizes Facebook’s lookalike capabilities. Facebook’s algorithm gets better and more accurate by the day but when you narrow down and specify the characteristics of your desired audience, you help Facebook do an even better job and get better results.

Due to the high relevance of the super lookalike, it provides a higher click-through rate and a higher rate of conversion while improving your relevance score. Facebook will then reward these audiences with a lower CPM (cost per thousand impressions), which improves the overall performance of the ad set.

This method works for basically every industry because it relies on Facebook’s lookalike data module, which works across the board. And the more data you have, the better it will work. The most important data points you need are a large variety of high-performing custom audiences and a significant amount of historical data about high-performing lookalike audiences.

Now we’ll look at how to set up and scale high-intent lookalike audiences to target with your Facebook ads.

#1: Create Facebook Custom Audiences of Top Customers

The quality of your custom audience is crucial to creating a solid performance-driving lookalike audience. You want to focus on your most valuable customers, and therefore create custom audiences based on bottom-of-the-funnel conversion events.

You can create custom audiences based on your Facebook pixel data, targeting people who have completed different conversion events on your website.

Another option for focusing on your best customers is to create a value-based custom audience. To create this audience, you use your customer list and add an arbitrary number to each customer, representing their lifetime value to your business. You simply upload this list to Facebook and create your audience based on it.

Keep in mind that you’ll need to update your customer list regularly to keep this audience relevant for your business. Creating this value-based audience using your pixel data will save you a bit of trouble because your customer data will be updated automatically.

Moreover, in a recent update, Facebook added the option to turn every one of your pixel-based lookalike audiences into a value-based one with the click of a button.

Other valuable custom audiences that advertisers tend to overlook are people who spend time on your product pages, your top spenders (one of the most powerful value-based audiences), and people who watched 75% or 95% of your video.

For eCommerce, I recommend starting with custom audiences based on high-intent events that take place on your website:

  • Purchase
  • Initiate checkout
  • Add payment info
  • Add to cart

To create these website-based custom audiences, make sure you have the Facebook pixel installed on your website and that it identifies these specific events.

Once you have this in place, go to Audiences in Facebook Ads Manager to create your first custom audience. Click the Create Audience drop-down menu and select Custom Audience.

In the Create a Custom Audience window, choose Website as the source.

On the next screen, select your Facebook pixel and use the drop-down menu to choose your desired event. Then add a name and click Create Audience.

When you’re finished creating your first audience, repeat the above steps to create the other three custom audiences.

Keep in mind that while these custom audiences might overlap, the final lookalikes will end up being big and diverse enough that the overlap won’t hinder your campaigns. Additionally, all of these lookalikes will be targeted within the same ad set so you don’t have to worry about your ad sets competing against each other by targeting the same audience.

Combining audiences of people who are likely to purchase, initiate checkout, add payment info, and add to cart will get you one large audience that includes users who are highly likely to take several high-intent actions on your website. This is the power of the super lookalike audience you’ll set up.

#2: Identify Top Custom Audiences to Seed ‘Super’ Lookalike Audiences

The next step is to identify your top-performing custom audiences according to your key performance indicators (KPIs). You’ll then create low-percentage lookalikes from each of your best custom audiences and target them in the same ad set. Each of these ‘blended’ lookalike audiences will be a super lookalike audience.

To identify your current top-performing ad sets, open Facebook Ads Manager and go to the Ad Sets tab. Add a column for your most important metric (ROAS, for instance) and sort the list by it.

After you’ve identified your top ad sets, find out which audiences are behind them. To do this, click Edit under the ad set name.

Then scroll down to the Audience section and note the audience name. Repeat this process for each of your top ad sets to compile a list of your top-performing custom audiences.

Now go to Audiences in Ads Manager to create low-percentage lookalikes based on each of your top custom audiences. Select your first custom audience and click the button with the three dots. Choose Create Lookalike from the drop-down menu.

I recommend that you use 0%–3% lookalike audiences, depending on your target country.

Now combine the lookalike audiences you just created and start testing them to find the top-performing super lookalikes. To do this, launch three to five ad sets, each of which will target a different combination of 3–15 lookalike audiences (your super lookalike audiences).

#3: Four Ways to Scale Your Lookalike Audiences

Getting great results early on will allow you to vertically scale your super lookalike audience by increasing budgets.

Once you max out the audience, you can horizontally scale it by applying the same methods used for creating the super lookalike audience:

Different Lookalike Percentages

Try creating lookalikes from the same seed audience using different percentages—2%, 5%, and 10%, for example.

Pro Tip: When testing different lookalike percentages, don’t exclude the smaller-percentage audiences you used previously. The reason is that the audience is so large that even if there will eventually be some overlap, it would be negligible, especially when considering the auction overlap. Therefore, there’s no need to exclude your best audiences that have already proven to deliver high performance.

Different Seed Audiences

The more audiences you can test, the better. Start with strong audiences and use all of your data. I recommend testing these audiences:

  • Website visitors: Start with visitors who performed high-intent events (as outlined above) and then progress to visitors who performed lower-intent events like page view, view content, and so on.
  • Social page data: People who have engaged with your Facebook page, Instagram business profile, or other presence.
  • Ad engagers: People who have saved or engaged with your ads.
  • Email list: People who have bought from you directly on Facebook or somewhere else.

Different Recency of Data

When creating custom audiences of Facebook page engagers, Instagram business profile engagers, and ad engagers—as well as video viewers—you can extend the time frame to include data from the past 365 days.

For website visitors, you’re limited to a maximum time frame of the past 180 days; therefore, I recommend you also add a custom audience with your all-time purchase data. You can do this by uploading your email list to Facebook.

When testing different recency of data, split the days into various data sets. Ideally, test data from the past 7, 14, 30, 60, 90, 180, and 365 days (when possible).

Different Countries and Regions

Try to create lookalike audiences in different countries and regions. Start with your best-performing countries and expand farther. You can also combine multiple countries or locations within a single seed audience (but don’t combine low- and high- CPM regions).

If you’re marketing worldwide, a good combination is the largest English-speaking countries: U.S., UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

On top of all of these options, when scaling, try to mix all of these different variations. You can either play with one element (country, recency, etc.) at a time or with all of them at once.

Pro Tip: After testing your super lookalike audiences with low budgets using ad set budget optimization, you can use Campaign Budget Optimization (CBO) and launch four or five different ad sets, each containing four super lookalike audiences. CBO works best with larger audiences so you can use slightly higher-percentage lookalike audiences at this stage.

Conclusion

Super lookalike audiences work best when they’re created based on real data (which you may already have in your account). The more data you have, the better your super lookalike audience will work, which will improve your Facebook ad performance.

The “secret sauce” of super lookalike audiences is utilizing all of your possible data sets to create an extremely high-quality audience in terms of relevance. At the same time, this method keeps it large enough for Facebook to run it through its algorithm and work its magic.

Not a lot of advertisers are currently using this approach so it’s an opportunity for you to stay ahead of the competition. Create more ad sets leveraging super lookalike audiences to get better returns on your ad spend.

What do you think? Will you try targeting high-intent super lookalike audiences with your Facebook ads? Share your thoughts in the comments below.