If you don’t show your Facebook ads to the right people, then it doesn’t matter how good they are. That’s why creating the right Facebook audience is one of the most effective things you can do to get better results. In this post, I’ll show you how, using Facebook custom audiences.
The Facebook custom audiences tool is broken down into three types: Saved Audience (beginner), Custom Audience (intermediate), and Lookalike (hard core). For premium Star Wars-themed protective laptop covers for MacBook users. Not that I can imagine anyone not wanting one…
Saved Audience: Start Here
Start a new Saved Audience and you’ll soon find that Facebook’s Detailed Targeting section has literally thousands of choices. Where do you start? Here’s the answer you don’t want to hear: you just have to dig through them and see which ones could apply. Here’s what I found for our Star Wars laptop covers:
Target people who use a Mac by selecting Behaviors -> Digital Activities -> Operating System Used -> Primary Mac OS X.
Constrain your audience to Star Wars fans by selecting Interests -> Additional Interests > Star Wars. There are dozens of similar choices, but since this is described as “People who have expressed an interest in or like pages related to Star Wars” it should be a pretty safe bet.
Since these are premium covers, make sure your ads are only shown to people with an income greater than $50,000 by excluding Demographics -> Financial -> Income -> $30,000 – $40,000 and $40,000 – $50,000.
Since people who travel frequently are more likely to need a laptop case, add one further constraint: Behaviors -> Travel -> Business travelers.
If this audience is constrained to people older than 22 who live in the United States, you get 170,000 people. That’s a perfect audience size for custom Facebook audiences: large enough yield plenty of responses, but still targeted to potential customers only.
Custom Audience: Now You Can Retarget
Now that you’ve got traffic coming to your website and are selling Jar Jar Binks Rey-themed laptop covers for $95, it’s time to step things up.
If you were wise, you would have installed the Facebook tracking pixel on your website before you began sending visitors there. Doing so will allow you to build Facebook custom audiences based on people who’ve taken action on your site. For example, you could set up an audience of people who viewed Star Wars-product pages on your site but did not complete a purchase. Perfect for retargeting with a follow-up ad.
You can even upload email and phone numbers of your existing customers to create a Saved Audience. When your Star Wars: Episode VIII- themed items hit the market, you’ll have a list of known buyers ready to market to.
Lookalike Audience: Mysterious But Effective
Facebook custom audiences truly reach Death Star-like power with the Lookalike Audience option. How does it work? Using a “seed list” of Facebook users you’ve specified, Facebook can create a larger group of similar people. I’ve never found a good explanation of how Facebook builds its Lookalike Audiences, I just know that they work.
The Lookalike Audience option is especially handy when your audience can’t be easily defined with Facebook’s pre-determined options in the Saved Audience tool. Here’s how to build one:
Select a data source. Choose a Custom Audience you’ve already created, a conversion pixel you’ve configured, or the followers of your Facebook page.
Select the country you want to target people in. Yes, Antarctica is an option.
Choose the size of the audience you want to create. It will be presented as a percentage of all Facebook users in that country, so a 1% audience for the United States will be about 2 million people.
Mind Blown: You Can Mix All Three Audiences Together
That’s right – to create insanely accurate Facebook custom audiences, you can actually combine all three types. Here’s how you could create an über-list of people who might buy a Star Wars-themed laptop cover:
First create a Custom Audience of all people who’ve purchased any laptop cover from you. You could do this by uploading a list of customer contacts or by using the Website Traffic option to target people who’ve bought one.
Use that Custom Audience to create a new Lookalike Audience. If based on the United States, this would give you a list of 2 million people who would be likely to buy a laptop cover.
Finally, create a Saved Audience that uses this Lookalike Audience as its source (just select it next to the Custom Audiences option). Further narrow your targeting by adding the OS X, Star Wars, income, and business travel constraints you added with your very first Saved Audience. Chances are your new audience will be a bit smaller, but perfectly targeted.
Saying, “The Facebook ad platform is the most powerful ad network in the world,” sounds a little crazy. It also happens to be true. Do you know why?
It’s because the Facebook ad platform is actually an experimental software-only version of Skynet’s artificially intelligent autonomous war machines, also known as Terminators. Here are the six pieces of evidence that prove it.
Facebook Ads Can Adapt To Any Situation
When I first heard the term “machine learning”, I immediately though of the Terminator. Turns out, it’s a practice Facebook employs as well.
Unlike most forms of traditional advertising, Facebook ads have the uncanny ability to identify and respond to new circumstances. Thanks to the power of its advanced ad delivery algorithms, it constantly makes informed guesses on what it thinks will be effective, measures the results, and adapts accordingly. Facebook will not only optimize for demographics, device, placement, and time of day, it will also show successful ads more frequently than unsuccessful ones. Scary.
Just like a Terminator, once you activate a Facebook campaign, it will quickly do everything in its power to terminate your enemies generate ad results.
You might eliminate one or two Facebook ads, but the reality is that you’re way outnumbered. Just like Skynet and its Terminators, your only real option to eliminate Facebook ads entirely is to destroy Facebook itself. Good luck, John Conner.
The Facebook Ad Platform Knows Everything About You
Facebook Ads obtains a tremendous amount of information about who you are and what you’ve done. It uses that information to hunt you down and show you an ad it thinks you’ll click. Just like Skynet (except without the whole “wanting to kill you” objective). Just take a look Facebook’s Data Use Policy to see what’s being tracked:
First, every Page you Like, post you click, photo you share, and every other action is tracked by Facebook. Did you just take 37 seconds to stare at that photo of your ex-girlfriend on vacation in Panama City? Facebook knows.
We collect… the location of a photo… the types of content you view or engage with or the frequency and duration of your activities.
Secondly, Facebook collects data from you devices, learning where your are, what type of phone you use, and EVEN IF YOUR PHONE IS LOW ON BATTERIES.
We collect information from… [the] devices where you… access our Services… [such as] operating system, hardware version, device settings, file and software names and types, battery and signal strength, and device identifiers… Device locations… the name of your mobile operator or ISP, browser type, language and time zone, mobile phone number and IP address.
Any site that uses Facebook’s Like, Share, or login platform also provides data back to Facebook:
We collect information [from] third-party websites and apps… about the websites and apps you visit… as well as information the developer or publisher of the app or website provides to you or us.
We receive information about you and your activities… such as information from a partner when we jointly offer services or from an advertiser about your experiences or interactions with them.
Facebook Is Constantly Testing New Prototypes
When Facebook’s ad product first rolled out, it was a “basic model” that only delivered ad placements on the right hand side of the desktop News Feed. Almost like the “rudimentary” T-100. But fast forward a few years, and things have gotten way more sophisticated. Placements now extend to both Desktop and Mobile News Feeds, within Instant Articles, across Facebook’s Audience Network, and even to Instagram.
Not only that, but the types of ad units has proliferated as well, with images, videos, carousels, canvas ads, and plenty of other variations. Evolution indeed.
Facebook Ads Are Occasionally Prone To Glitches
Even the most sophisticated machines are prone to glitches. Like the time my team tried to set up Facebook’s new “Reach & Frequency” delivery tool and and were told that we needed to come up with a budget that was both greater than $761.77 and less than $761.77. Oh, and Facebook’s support team told us that it would take “about 2 months” to fix the issue.
Just like that time Power Editor didn’t work. Or like that other time Power Editor didn’t work. Which was exactly like that day when Power Editor wouldn’t work at all.
Facebook Fails When It’s Submerged In Molten Steel
This one surprised us, too. But sure enough, when we placed one of Facebook’s ad servers in a vat of 1600° C steel, it was unable to maintain delivery of our ad campaigns. I guess no ad platform is without its shortcomings. We plan on conducting repeated tests to see if this is issue persists.
Update: after we destroyed 17 additional ad servers, Facebook asked us to discontinue our tests. While sensitivity to extreme heat may be a shortcoming in the current iteration of the Facebook ad platform, expect that issue to be resolved with future prototypes.
Scared? Don’t Be
No doubt that the Facebook ad platform might seem a little frightening. Who wouldn’t be a little intimated by a constantly adapting and evolving system that uses machine learning to target 1.65 billions of people it knows nearly everything about?
The good news is that the Facebook ad platform is really just a tool. As a marketer, it’s up to you to determine how to use it. Advertise responsibly. And if you get frustrated, try putting out your cigar on your monitor.
Understanding Facebook campaign objectives is a bit like buying a vehicle: you know that they all basically do the same thing, but picking the wrong one can lead to misery and frustration.
Unfortunately, Facebook doesn’t do much to illustrate the differences between each of objective. Here’s an example. The help text for the “Increase engagement in your app” objective reads, “Use the app engagement objective to increase engagement in your app.” Wow.
To make picking the right Facebook campaign objectives easier (and far more entertaining), I’ve matched each objective with it’s vehicle counterpart. If only buying a real car were this simple.
By the way, to make things even more confusing, Facebook campaign objectives have slightly different names in Ads Manager and Power Editor. The name you see in the headline is what’s visible in Power Editor; the Ads Manager equivalent is listed below.
While boosting a post is probably the simplest way you can advertise on Facebook, that doesn’t mean it’s a tactic just for beginners. If you already have your audiences defined, boosting your posts right from your page is still a go-to tactic for many marketers.
Page Likes: 1965 VW Bug
Ads Manager name: “Promote your Page.”I’m not entirely sure why people still pay for Facebook Likes, but if you think that’s the best investment of your marketing budget, Facebook can make that happen for you.
That’s why getting Page Likes is kind of like driving an old-school VW Bug. There’s no real practical reason to do so, but if you want people to simply like what they see, it’s the way to go.
Clicks To Website: 2002 Honda Accord
Ads Manager name: “Send people to your website.” Ah the Honda Accord of Facebook campaign objectives. New Facebook marketers, start here. If you really can’t decide what to pick, it’s hard to go wrong with this choice. You can always upgrade to something fancier later.
And there are even some situations when Clicks To Website is the best choice. Here are a few:
You don’t have Facebook’s Conversion Pixel installed yet.
There truly isn’t an objective beyond getting people to view a web page.
Your budget doesn’t allow you to generate more than five conversions/day (more on that below).
The Website Conversions objective works the same way. No one is really sure what Facebook does to “optimize” for conversions, but if you set things up right, it will. That’s what makes Website Conversions the most prized of all the Facebook campaign objectives.
That being said, you can’t just dive right in. You’ll first need to install and configure Facebook’s Conversion Tracking pixel, a task only slightly preferable to filing your taxes. You’ll then need the patience to ride out the storm while Facebook figures things out.
Finally, the Website Conversions objective doesn’t work well if you have a relatively low budget. If your campaign doesn’t consistently get five conversions per day, Facebook will stop running the ads altogether.
Mobile App Installs: 2008 Tesla Roadster
Ads Manager name: “Get installs of your app.” There were two things absent from the early 2000s: any car produced by Tesla and Apple’s App Store. The Mobile App Installs objective wasn’t around either. Though not the newest Facebook campaigns objective, it’s certainly the one most related to modern technology.
If you’re an app developer, you’d be hard pressed not to use this objective in your campaigns. Everyone else can basically ignore it.
Mobile App Engagement: Morgan 3 Wheeler
Ads Manager name: “Increase engagement in your app.” There’s only one possible reaction you can have when you see a Morgan 3 Wheeler: what the f*%k is that? That’s also what most people say when they come across the Mobile App Engagement objective.
However, those who do market mobile apps (not me) know exactly what this is for and how to use it. Just like that automotive aficionado for whom a three-wheeled, motorcycle engined, open top, and fire-breathing car is the perfect choice. Just don’t expect your friends to understand.
P.S. In Power Editor, you’ll also find Desktop App Installs and Desktop App Engagement listed among the Facebook campaign objectives.
Local Awareness: Parade Float
Ads Manager name: “Reach near your business.” The Local Awareness objective has some cool tricks up its sleeve. Not only can you target people who are physically near your business at that moment, but you can use some very relevant CTAs to encourage a response. Facebook lets you choose from Like Page, Call Now, Get Directions, Learn More, and Send Message.
This objective can only be used to reach people within 50 miles of your business. Just like a parade float, it may not reach very far, but it’s great at attracting the attention of those nearby.
Event Responses: Postal Service Truck
Ads manager name: “Raise attendance at your event.” You’re getting ready to host Paducah’s 7th Annual Poodle Show, Shrimp Boil, & Trike Rally. Last year was a huge success, but you really want to blow things out of the water this year. Where do you turn? If it was 1987, it would be the Postal Service. Fortunately it’s not, which means you’re going to use Facebook’s Event Responses campaign objective instead.
To get the most of this objective, you’ll need to create a Facebook Event first. When people click “Join” on your ad, Facebook will automatically add the event to their Facebook calendar. You’ll also be able to measure how many people have responded. Time to buy some shrimp.
Offer Claims: “Free Candy” Van
Ads Manager name: “Get people to claim your offer”. You’ve got a discount, some special offer, some promotion that people gotta know about. Then Offer Claims is your ticket. Unlike like that “Free Candy” van you are still skeptical about (“But what if it’s Twix?….”) , Offer Claims ads are legit.
In fact, of all the Facebook campaign objectives, this one allows some of the most creativity in how it’s used. You can create some very specific offers, using the following settings:
Ads Manager name: “Get video views.” If you have a video, you want one thing: for people to sit there and stare at your creation. This leaves no other option but to select the Bluth Company stair car as the representative of the Video Views objective.
The Video Views objective is perfect for retargeting, because Facebook will automatically build an audience of people who have watched some or all your video. And if you want to go completely crazy, Facebook will let you upload videos up to 60 minutes long. That’s 2.72 Arrested Development episodes.
Product Catalog Sales: Food Truck
Ads Manager name: “Promote a product catalog.” If you’re an ecommerce site, the Product Catalog Sales objective gives you a powerful way to create ads that are far more descriptive than typical formats.
You can even go a step further with something called Dynamic Product Ads. This tool allows you to automatically generate ads from your product catalog, and use Lookalike audiences to find more people who might be interested in a product, and create different calls to action based on previous user behavior.
Ads Manager name: “Collect leads for your business.” Sometimes you don’t need anything fancy, you just want an email address. Or, a truckload of them. Enter the Lead Generation Facebook campaign objective.
Instead of sending people to your landing page, Facebook users can enter their information directly in the Facebook app. This is the only one of the Facebook campaign objectives that allows you to do this. By default, you’ll collect their name and email address, but Facebook will let you ask up to three additional questions.
The only thing challenging about the Lead Generation objective is that you must set up a Lead Form prior to using this option. For some unnecessarily complex instructions on how to set up Lead Forms, visit this resource from Facebook.
Brand Awareness: 2007 Hummer H2 With Body Wrap
Ads Manager name: “Increase brand awareness.” Sometimes you just want to let people know who you are. Thankfully, Facebook offers a classier way of promoting your brand besides wrapping a chrome-wheeled Hummer H2 with a gaudy vinyl wrap. It’s called the Brand Awareness objective, and it’s basically just fancy way of saying that Facebook will optimize your ads for impressions.
There’s not a whole lot to do with Brand Awareness objective – define you audience, set your budget, add your creative, and Facebook will show you ad to as many people as it can.
Which Facebook Campaign Objectives Do You Drive?
Have advice on using Facebook campaign objectives? Let’s hear it in the comments below. If you’ve thought of a way to use an objective in an unorthodox way, I’d love to learn about it.
If you’re like many marketers, you may not have given the Facebook relevance score much attention.
It might be tempting not to. After all, if your ads are converting and you’re happy with the numbers, then does relevance score really matter? You’d better believe it. Keeping reading to find out why.
Facebook Must Serve Two Masters
Like an aging rock band that must keeping nurturing its fan base if it wants to keep selling $275 concert tickets, Facebook must keep its users happy if it wants to keep them around. And what’s a sure-fire way to turn away people in droves? Other than producing crappy albums, it’s too much advertising. Especially if those ads are seen as unrelated or annoying.
Secondly, Facebook must also serve its dark (but wealthy) overlord: the advertising industry that provides it with over $20 billion of revenue each year. (By the way, I just realized that I’m part of the advertising industry, so does that make me a dark overlord? I sure hope so.) As advertisers, we want as much ad inventory as we can get our hands on.
Does that put advertisers at odds with Facebook users? Maybe not.
On the surface, it might seem that Facebook users want absolutely no ads, while Facebook advertisers want all the ads. But neither statement is really true.
As a Facebook user, you do need to see some advertisements, unless you want to start paying for access. Which you’re not going to, you cheap bastard. And since Facebook stated years ago that its platform will always be free to use, that’s unlikely to be an option anyway.
Now, as an advertiser, do you want your ads to be shown to fewer people? Or pay more than necessary? Of course not. In a perfect world, your ads would be shown at the top of the News Feed, where they’d receive a 100% click-through-rate and a cost per conversion of just pennies. Sure.
With either too many or two few ads, the Facebook ad ecosystem dies.
How Many Facebook Ads Are Users Willing To See? It Depends
If I were in charge of Facebook’s ad platform, a big part of my job would be maximizing Facebook’s sustainable inventory of ads. How many ads is Facebook serving today? It’s easy to find out. If the average cost of advertising on Facebook is $7 CPM, and Facebook generates $20 billion in ad revenue, then they have about 2.8 trillion ad impressions to serve each year. At 1.5 billion users, that’s about 5 ads per person/day.
Let’s pretend that Facebook wanted to increase the number of ads per person/day from 5 to 5.5. Let’s look at a few options to see if any would work:
Show more ads.Nope. This would worsen the user experience and may cause people to spend less time on the site. This might actually reduce ad inventory. After all, if people aren’t visiting Facebook in the first place you can’t show them an ad.
Change placement to make ads less prominent.Wrong again. Facebook would have to reduce CPM for their ads, as advertisers wouldn’t be willing to pay as much for a less prominent placement.
Show ads that are more relevant.Bingo! If you’re only seeing ads that are tailored to your interests, you’d be willing to put up with more of them. And that’s exactly what the Facebook relevance score is for: to encourage advertisers to show ads that are less annoying more valuable to its users.
Facebook Relevance Score Helps Advertisers And Users
Ultimately, the Facebook relevance score helps get advertisers get better results from fewer ads. If your advertisements are being shown to the right audience, you shouldn’t need to generate as many impressions to get the same result.
And it gives users a better experience by encouraging advertisers to show them ads that relate to their likes and interests.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Facebook rewards and punishes advertisers based on the relevance score of their ads. After all, if they were able to increase ad inventory from 5 to 5.5 per user per day (without sacrificing CPM), that could potentially add $2 billion of advertising revenue to Facebook’s pockets each year. Not bad.
That may be part of why, according to a recent report by AdAge, the number of ad impressions Facebook served increased by 29% from 2014 to 2015.
Improving Your Facebook Relevance Score
Hopefully you’re now convinced that you need to pay attention to improving your Facebook relevance score. However, just because you care about hitting a high relevance score doesn’t make it easy. In fact, I’ve often found it pretty tough.
I’ll cover some tips on improving your relevance score in a future post, but in the meantime, if you’ve cracked the code on consistently getting a high Facebook relevance score, and I’d love to hear how you do it. Leave your advice in the comments below.
When I was a kid, there was a sure-fire way of getting Super Mario Bros. to work on NES when the game wouldn’t load: take out the cartridge, blow into the end with all the electronic bits, and retry. Nine times out of ten you’d be back in business. Unfortunately, Facebook ads are often just as finicky. Except that blowing on your computer screen won’t get you very far. That’s why I wrote this guide: to give you a 14-step guide for when your Facebook ads are not working. Because nothing is more frustrating than seeing your Facebook ads not working.
Tip #1: Double Check Everything
Remember when you called your Internet provider because you couldn’t get House of Cards to play on Netflix? And they told you to first check if your cable modem was plugged in? This is that step. Except it’s more like piloting the Apollo space capsule: there are a thousand switches to check, and if you bump the wrong one, bad things happen.
If you’ve made any of the mistakes below, you won’t be the first person:
Used the wrong URL for you ad’s target destination
Forgot to add a your Facebook tracking pixel to your landing pages
Didn’t set the right objective for Facebook to optimize on
Left a campaign, ad set, or ad set to “OFF“
Sent traffic to a landing page you haven’t published
Used an expired credit card to pay for your ads
Hit a budget limit on our account or a campaign
Pre-pay for a full tank of gas at $5.63/gallon when renting your Kia Forte from Hertz
Check these first before diving into the more difficult fixes below.
Tip #2: Pick The Right Objective
Right now, Facebook offers fifteen campaign objectives to choose from. That makes things complicated. Heck, ordering from McDonalds feels like taking a multiple-choice test from a sadistic 3rd-grade teacher, and they only have nine Extra Value Meals to pick from.
If you’re unsure of what objective to pick, Clicks To Website is probably your safest best. When you’ve got the basics figured out, consider moving to Website Conversions. This will allow Facebook to send traffic to people it thinks are most likely to take a certain action on your site. Like downloading your latest ebook, The Beginner’s Guide To McDonald’s Extra Value Meals: What To Choose, How To Eat, And Best Places To Get Sick After Consumption.
One word of caution when using Website Conversions…
If you aren’t getting at least five conversions a day, Facebook will consider your campaign unsuccessful. Facebook will then stop running your campaign “to keep you from wasting money.” You won’t find this listed anywhere in Facebook’s help articles, but I can confirm this both from personal experience and conversations with Facebook support.
Tip #3: Check Placement (Don’t Use Audience Network)
Facebook offers four ad placements: Desktop News Feed, Mobile News Feed, Desktop Right Hand, and Audience Network (aka the 5th Circle of Hell).
What is this Audience Network? It’s a smorgasbord of ad placements on external sites and within mobile apps. It also includes ads placed within Facebook’s Instant Articles.
The problem with Facebook Audience Network ads is they offer a very poor user experience, since the ad layouts vary greatly. You also are subject to the “fat finger” problem, where users inadvertently click on an ad when navigating on their phone.
You’d think that Facebook would simply show your ads on the best-performing placements, but that isn’t always the case. In fact, when I wasn’t paying attention, I’ve seen Facebook spend nearly all of my budget on Audience Network.
So to be safe, turn off Audience Network placements. Completely.
Outside of Audience Network, your mileage may vary among the other placements. If you see one that’s underperforming, take a look at how your ads are presented. Maybe your creative doesn’t work well in small sizes. Maybe your headlines are too long for mobile. Whatever the case, either turn off an underperforming placement or revise your copy and creative to make sure it presents well in all formats.
Tip #4: Get The Right Audience
The best ad in the world won’t convert if it’s delivered to the wrong audience. And you’d be surprised at how very similar Facebook audiences can perform quite differently.
Try testing different versions of your target audience, to see which works best. Here’s an example of how to create three different audiences:
Build your first audience using Facebook Likes and Interests. Try to find things that only people in your audience would have an interest in.
Create a based on Facebook’s Behaviors options. Dig deep into the choices Facebook offers. You’ll be surprised at what you find.
Finally, try a “Lookalike” audience of your existing customers or leads.
Next, take a look at the audience size relative to your budget. You may have created the “perfect” audience. But if it’s made up of only 35,000 people and your budget is $500/day, you’ll wear out that audience in just a few days.
Tip #5 Check Your Relevance Score
Creating a good user experience is a big focus for Facebook. That means they don’t want ads that are spammy, annoying, or well, irrelevant.
That’s why you need to pay close attention to Facebook’s Relevance Score. A high relevance score of say, and 8 or 9, means you’re doing it right. A low score means your audience and your message are never, ever getting past a first date. 5 or 6 is about middle ground.
Remember that Facebook Relevance Scores can change over time. If you’ve found a winner – great! Just keep an eye on it – if relevance declines, it may be time to shut things off and move on to a new ad.
Tip #6: Don’t Compete Against Yourself
Seriously, this is a thing you can actually do with Facebook ads.
It happens when you have more than one campaign targeting the same audience. When that occurs, Facebook gets… well, confused. And when Facebook gets confused, it will either stop delivering your ads or it will charge you more than it should. Either scenario is bad.
Thankfully, Facebook has a Compare Audience Overlap feature. Just select two or more audiences and you can see how distinct they are. As a rule of thumb, anything with more than a 50% overlap is probably going to cause you problems. If the overlap is between 25-50%, you’re still probably OK, as long as the audience size is large enough.
Tip #7: Be Patient
Here’s the real challenge with Facebook ads: they don’t work right away. Here’s an example:
I recently set up a campaign for website conversions. I was willing to pay up to $20 per conversion, a number I’d consistently hit before.
But did my first conversion magically come through once I had spent $20? Nope. How about $50? $75? Keep going. The first conversion didn’t happen until I had spent nearly $100. But a short while later, I got my second, bringing the average cost per conversion down to about $80. A third brought the average down again, to about $60. And so on.
Once I gave Facebook some time to optimize, everything fell in order, and I got plenty conversions well under my target. #epicwin
The lesson: don’t make changes until you’ve given Facebook plenty of time to optimize.
Tip #8: Evaluate Your Landing Pages
Sometimes your ads are just fine, but your landing pages are sucking you dry. How do you know? If you answer “No“ to any questions below, you still need to work on your ads. All “Yes” responses and you can safely move on to your landing pages:
Is your Cost PerClick (Link) healthy? Don’t get confused by regular ol’ Cost Per Click, as that includes any click on your ad, not just those that go to your landing page.
Is your Click-Through Rate (Link) above 0.5%? That’s just rough target, but if you’re seeing numbers below this, you probably need to make some changes to your ads or your audience.
Is Frequency below 5?Frequency is the number of times people have seen your ad. If your audience has seen your ad at least five times already and they still haven’t responded, they’re not about to start now.
Is your your Relevance Score a 5 or above? Anything less and Facebook thinks that your ads are not very pertinent to your audience.
Do you have enough data? Don’t assume thing aren’t working if you only have a few clicks or a few hundred impressions.
If you don’t know what’s important to your audience, good luck getting them to click anything. Here’s the good news: if you aren’t sure which of your product’s benefits will resonate, you can test. Heres how:
With this vivid picture of Greg in mind, identify 5-6 benefits your product can provide that will help him. Does he want to save money? Sleep better? Collect every Star Wars action figure ever produced?
Create an ad for each benefit, using unique copy and creative.
Test all of these ads together – the winner should tell you what benefit resonates best with Greg.
To optimize further, continue making new variations centered around that winning benefit.
Tip #10: Say Exactly What You Want To Communicate
Copy is one of those things that everyone can write, but few can write well. Your word choice can make a tremendous difference in how people respond to your ad. Here are three questions to evaluate the quality of your copy:
Is it clear? Choose clarity over cleverness, and succinctness over length.
Are you triggering the right emotions? Whether you want the reader to feel curious, excited, anxious, or whatever else, pick words that match that emotion.
Does the reader know what to expect next? Make sure your copy clearly states what the reader should do (click, download, etc). and what she can expect once she takes that action.
Did you just stay up all night making 67 variations of your ads to test? Hold on there, hombre. Running all those ads at once won’t help you.
Like a nervous first-year high school basketball coach picking his starting lineup from players he knows nothing about, Facebook can’t optimize your ads until it knows which of them are the best performers.
And if you have too many ads, it will take Facebook a long time to figure that out. Or worse, Facebook will pick a “winner” before it’s given all your ads a fair shot, leaving a potentially great ad stuck in the dust bin.
You run into a different, but equally bad, problem with two few ads.
Let’s say that for every 100 ads you create, 30 are solid, and 70 are duds. Nothing wrong with that. But if you only test a few ads, you’re not giving yourself a good chance of finding a solid performer.
To avoid both problems, shoot for 5-6 ads within each ad set.
Tip #12: Get (The Right) Creative
Developing the right creative is often the scariest part for many marketers. It’s the part where we have to rely on an actual artist to develop art, something most of us can only pretend to know much about. That, or rely on some crummy stock photography. Not even your mom would be proud of you then.
Here’s the good news: developing creative isn’t that much different than developing copy. Identify who you’re targeting, the message you’re trying to convey, and any emotions you want to trigger. Share these with your designer. Ask him to copy up a few concepts to see if you’re both speaking the same language. If one of those looks good, create 3-5 final variations that you can test.
Don’t have a designer on hand or the budget for a freelancer? Try a free tool like Canva or use a service like Fiverr to hire one for a little as five dollars. Exchange rates are your friend when there are skilled Photoshop ninjas in Romania. Just make sure you specific exactly what you want designed.
Tip #13: Try Rebooting
Sometimes Facebook just needs a good kick in the pants. With a steel-toed boot. If you’ve made a bunch of changes to your campaign and nothing seems to be working, then clone your campaign, burn the old one to the ground, and start over.
If this sounds stupid, it’s be because it is. Rebooting your campaigns should not be a viable solution to getting your ads to perform, but it is. It’s as though Facebook’s ad delivery algorithm sometimes turns into a bipolar robot who huffs glue when you’re not looking. Once brain damage sets in, there’s no turning back. The only way to fix things is to toss your campaign in the incinerator and begin anew.
I hate trying this technique because it’s so blunt and unscientific, but sometimes it’s exactly what needs to be done.
Tip #14: Be Human
This is the least concrete but most important concept. Ads that are are pushy, gimmicky, or disrespectful won’t get results. Even if they do, do you really want to be that type of marketer?
If you aren’t sure how your ads will be perceived, show them to a friend, your mom, your boyfriend… anyone who’s a reasonable human being. Ask them how the ads make them feel. For bonus points: tell your friend that the ads were created by someone else. You’ll get much more objective feedback.
If your ads consistently get negative feedback from others, keep working at it. No one got great overnight!
Facebook Ads Not Working? All You Really Need To Know Are These 5 Points
Hopefully points above give you some new ways of getting your Facebook ads working again. But if it all seems like to much, remember that there are only five things you need to be successful with Facebook ads:
Understand the mechanics of the ad platform
Offer something of value
Respect the user
Have the persistence to keep going until you get things right
Oh, and read this article when you need a reminder.
Have other advice for getting your Facebook ads to perform? Share what you’ve learned in the comments!
Here’s a dead-simple way to plan content with Trello.
Caveat: this post will not teach you how to be a social media “ninja”, “guru”, or “rockstar”. If you aspire to use one of those terms to describe yourself, or already do, seek professional help. Or just quit the internet.
Ok. On to the post…
Managing your company’s social media presence can be a mess if you’re not intentional about it. It’s like that guy who’s sat on the couch all year and decides that on January 1, he’s going to go to the gym “like all the time.” Week one, he’s there every day. Week two… well, you know what happens. Without a solid plan that you can stick to, your social media content won’t be consistent or effective.
That’s why I’m going to show you how to plan a full month’s worth of content in 30 minutes or less.
For the sake of simplicity, this post will focus just on Facebook. However, the methodology can be used for any content calendar, and even for multiple social networks if you’re creative. Here’s how it works:
1. Ask yourself what you want to accomplish. Why do you even have a social media presence in the first place? Do you want to keep customers talking about your brand? Announce new products? Set the tone for your brand’s voice? Make a list of key objectives. Keep it short, not more than three or four. Just like the guy planning to hit Gold’s Gym every day, not knowing why you’re doing something is a sure path to quitting. Here’s an example:
Keep customers informed of new product features
Foster engagement by highlighting outstanding customers
Reinforce our values through human-interest and humorous content
Improve company image vignettes of employees
2. Identify the type of content that will best serve each of those objectives. Example:
Keep customers informed… via events announcements and company news (Update)
Foster engagement… by highlighting outstanding customers (Community)
Reinforce our values… through human-interest and humorous content (Voice)
Improve company image… by featuring profiles of employees (Personality)
3. Prioritize your categories. Don’t just say, “they’re all important!”; prioritizing will help you decide how much content is devoted to each. Try this: give yourself 10 “points” to hand out. Give more points to the most important objectives, and fewer to secondary ones. So much math!!
4. Calculate your output capacity. How many posts per month can you consistently commit to? Don’t bite off more than you can chew and burn out after a month. At our company, we are planning to ramp up our volume to about 20 posts a month. That’s on the aggressive side, but we generate a lot of growth through Facebook and our followers have been very engaged with our content. Having videos with lots of gratuitous explosions always helps.
5. Do some math. With you ideal volume in hand, it’s time to match that against the priorities you outlined earlier. Apply the formula below to
Number of posts/month = (points assigned to category / total points) x total posts/month
For our first category, Updates, the formula would look like this:
(3 points / 10 total points) x 20 posts/month = 6 Update posts per month
Easy! You didn’t even need a calculator. Right? Right????….. Don’t worry I won’t tell your 4th grade math teacher. Just repeat for the remaining categories and you’ll have a baseline plan for how many posts of each type to publish each month. Here’s what you’d end up with for all four categories:
Update – 6 posts/month
Community – 6 posts/month
Voice – 4 posts/month
Personality – 4 posts/month
6. Take things over to Trello. We use a 4-step workflow to manage content throughout the month. Every piece of content starts out in a Planned list, and moves through the following steps:
Being worked on
You may need fewer or more depending on the structure of your team. We have multiple content contributors, but only a couple content approvers, so this process helps us hand off content to the right people.
Now… create a Trello card in the Planned for each post you outlined above. The result will look something like this. Look at all those beautiful posts just waiting to be written. So many Likes and Shares lie ahead:
7. Assign owners. Whether you have one person or a team of ten managing content, make sure that every single card has an owner. This is the person who will make sure that a piece of content is drafted, edited, and published on time, and by the right people. Give your team the gift of clear ownership and it will greatly streamline your process. Don’t assign owners and watch you best intentions disintegrate into pure and unrelenting madness. Your Facebook fans deserver better, don’t they?
8. Set due dates. With you content list established, it’s time to figure out what to post when. Trello gives you a great calendar view, which makes it super-simple to get a bird’s eye view of the month. We use also labels to designate content categories, making it easy to see what type of content will go out when. Here’s a possible result that will satisfy any obsessive compulsive disorder sufferer, with it’s neatly-spaced scheduling.
9. Get writing. You have all your work cut out for you for the month. No more planning, go write!
At the end of the month, sit down with your content team and examine the results. Which types of posts performed the best? Were there days of the week when you saw better results? Was your team able to handle the load?
You’ll want to make some tweaks to make next month even more effective. Now you’ve established a baseline, though, your process will be much more effective and well-informed.
Bonus round: You can download a free content planning template in Trello here. Enjoy!
Choosing a CRM is a lot like dating: you need some experience to know what you’re looking for, it takes a while to find out if you’ve made the right choice, and if you decide to switch to another option, it’s generally a pain in the ass.
We recently went through the CRM selection process at my company, and we ended up with a great choice. I wanted to share the steps we went through, to hopefully save you some pain in your own journey.
We originally used Hubspot as an all-in-one marketing/sales platform. We tried to use it as a CRM as well, but it’s not well suited for that. As our sales volume started to increase, and we quickly needed a better solution to help us manage leads and deal discussions. After an afternoon spent Googling every CRM search string we could think of, we soon realized that there were hundreds of choices. Far too many, in fact. Suffocating under the sheer variety of options, we decided to take a step back…
Assessing Your Needs
We took a break and tried to honestly assess what we really needed from a CRM. Just like your buddy’s girlfriend you can’t stand to be around, some CRMs will be a poor fit because they’re tailored for a different type of user. But since you can’t afford to date a dozen CRMs before you marry one, you have to figure out what you want first.
Here are a few questions that will help you find out:
How complex is your sales process? Perhaps you sign leads up after a phone call or two. Or maybe it’s a months-long conversation with several people. You won’t need every feature under the sun if you just need a fancy list to keep track of who needs to be called.
Who will be using the CRM? Is your team really tech savvy, and comfortable setting up a lot of configuration? Or will they refuse to touch something unless it has a beginner-friendly interface?
How many leads do you manage at once? How similar are they? If you’re selling the same thing to every lead, you probably have a fairly straightforward process. A CRM that simply helps you track progress will be fine. But if you have multiple products that have unique sales approaches, you’ll want more flexibility to customize.
Where do your sales take place? If you’re out in the field much, then consider CRMs that have mapping features and a strong mobile app (many CRMs don’t).
Do you sell via email, phone, or both? Several CRMs that offer in-app calling, call logging, dedicated telephone numbers, and other features that make it easy to manage calls. Other CRMs offer direct integration into email services such as Gmail and Outlook, which is handy if you want to easily track correspondence.
How long does this CRM need to last? Remember, just because you pick a CRM now doesn’t mean that you’ll use it until the end of time. Yes, it’s a pain to switch, but if you’re a startup, the software you use today isn’t what you’ll be using three years from now.
What other services do you use? Are there email, billing, chat, or other web-based software you use for marketing and sales? Several CRMs offer direct integrations with those platforms, making it a cinch to sync data.
How available is your tech team? Many CRMs can’t fully connect to other services unless you make use of their API. Have a custom website that someone wrote from scratch? You’ll need to make API calls if you want those forms on your website to update your CRM automatically. If this is a concern for you, check out Zapier, which offers direct integrations between many platforms, all without writing code.
How much does it cost? Don’t worry about this one for now. Most CRMs geared at startups will be within a fairly similar price range. Unless you’re on a shoestring budget, focus on finding a tool that works best for you. More expensive isn’t necessarily better.
Review With Your Team
If you’ve talked through these questions together, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what you need out of a CRM. Here’s what we ended up with:
Our sales process typically involves a couple of emails and a phone call or two. However, the time from initial interest to close can take anywhere from one day to one month. We need something that will make it easy to track correspondence and deal stage. Phone integration and mobile apps are must-haves.
Right now, our products have fixed pricing. The sales process is mostly educational and less focused on negotiation. With that in mind, we didn’t need anything really nuanced. Just an easy way to keep track of how many customers are interested and how many we’ve closed.
Our sales team is a smart bunch, but they don’t have a lot of time to learn a funky interface. Finding something that was intuitive is paramount. While our sales are mostly done in-office, knowing where leads are located geographically is really important, as we sell to many local businesses.
Finally, we need a service that will integrate with MailChimp and Gmail. We’ll also need to update our CRM via an API, since we’d have an custom-built website and sign-up portal for our services.
Go through this exercise and get ready to go hunting…
Narrow It Down
There are a couple options for narrowing your choices: use a service such as Capterra or G2 Crowd to filter your options, OR take the easy way by looking at the short list we came up with:
Close.io – great for call tracking and a simple interface
RelateIQ – uses algorithms to help you know where to spend your time
Intercom – offers a single platform for communicating over multiple channels
BaseCRM – solid call/email integration, great UI and mobile app
HighRise – extremely simple, a glorified contact manager
Once you’ve selected three or four candidates, it’s time for a test run. Set up a trial account, import your data, and start to poke around. Before long, you’ll get a sense of how steep the learning curve is and how much customization is involved before you can really make use of it. Make sure you include any mobile apps as part of the trial process.
If you’re still having trouble making a decision, here are a few tips to help:
Submit a support request and see how quickly and thoroughly their team responds.
Check out their documentation. How many resources do they provide to help you along?
Ask one of their sales reps to tell you why you should choose them over another CRM you’re considering. They may point out some features you weren’t aware of. If you want to dig even deeper, ask the sales rep to tell you what the weak points of their CRM are. Every service has a few.
If Salesforce came up on your short list, cross it off. Unless you have a big sales team and a lead who’s already familiar with Salesforce, changes are it will be overkill. By the time you have it set up, you could already have been using a simpler CRM for months.
Visit the company’s blog to see how recently they’ve released new features.
Take a look at Zapier to see what kinds of integrations are offered. Set up a Zap and see if it works.
Make Your Choice
You won’t know whether you’ve made the perfect decision until you’ve committed to a CRM, started using it for real deals, and discovered all its warts. But you won’t be able to try them all for months. And at a startup, sometimes done is better than perfect. So make your decision, move forward, and don’t look back.
For us, we went with BaseCRM. We really liked its intuitive interface, call integration, and mobile apps. It also has a fairly good API, which means that it can grow with us for a while. Reporting tools are solid too. Yes, there are some shortcomings we found with it, but none of them are serious enough to cause us to reconsider. And their support team has been really helpful. So far, so good…
Have you gone through the process of picking a new CRM? If so, I’d love to hear your own thoughts on how to make the process more painless.