Facebook is still the #1 social platform on the internet.
In this platform with over 2.5 billion users — and several hundred million business users — imagine there was a way to put your brand in front of this massive audience in an instant.
Well, it exists, and it’s called Facebook Ads.
The massive amount of people you can get exposed to is unbelievably high. And what’s more, you can decide who can see your ads and who can’t — allowing you to narrow your audience down as much as you can imagine.
But how do you get started on Facebook Ads? Or how do you make sure that you’re not throwing money into the void?
There’s no correct answer to these questions. However, there’re many tools, strategies, and best practices you can learn in order to maximize your ROAS in the long run.
Keep reading if you want to grasp the basics of Facebook Ads in less than 20 minutes.
Why Pay for Facebook Ads in The First Place?
Whether you’ve run an online store for years or you own a brick-and-mortar store that has embraced digital transformation, Facebook Ads can be a great channel for your business.
But here’s the harsh truth: It’s easy to lose thousands of dollars on Facebook Ads if you don’t approach it correctly. In fact, your first ads are likely to fail, and you’ll only see positive returns once you get relevant experience.
But does this mean you shouldn’t invest in Facebook Ads? Not really, there are reasons why 86% of american marketers use Facebook Ads.
You see, after you’ve invested enough money in finding a profitable audience and marketing messages that work, the benefits of investing in successful ads are immense, such as:
- Triplicating your money (or more) relatively fast.
- Driving a considerable amount of social traffic to your website.
- Higher scalability and growth potential for your store.
- Facebook has the highest average ad CTR by placement across all the social channels.
- Getting a second chance to expose your brand to lost visitors with retargeting ads.
- Building a solid online audience fast.
If dominating Facebook Ads sounds like something you want to achieve. Where do you get started to succeed as soon as possible?
How to Get Started on Facebook Ads (Step-by-Step)
Setting up your Facebook Ads account and running your first ad takes few steps that are not too intuitive.
Because once you create a Facebook business account, you’d want to install a pixel, then open your ad manager, and so on. This, without considering any third-party software in the process.
Overall, these are the specific steps you must follow:
Step 1. Create your Facebook Business account.
Go to Facebook Business, and register your business.
Doing this will grant you access to Facebook Business Suite. Where you can manage your Facebook Business account, schedule Facebook and Instagram posts, and measure your page’s performance.
With a Facebook business account, you’ll be able to create and add multiple advertiser accounts for multiple projects, so you don’t have to mix them up in the same place.
Set up your advertiser account.
In the business manager menu, find the “ad account settings” option.
Create a new advertiser account or add one if you already have one, and follow the steps shown. You’ll be able to access your Ads Manager.
Here’s where you’ll create, manage, and do all your Facebook Ads work.
However, before starting to mess up with your ads. You need to connect your Facebook account with your store’s website.
Step 2. Install Facebook Pixel
Facebook Pixel is a tracking code that connects your website with your Facebook account. It allows you to measure the traffic you get from your ads and how many customers you generated from them (and from which campaigns).
Suppose your store’s website is on Shopify, WooCommerce, or any of these platforms. In that case, you only need to head to your business manager account, copy your pixel ID, and paste it into your ecommerce platform to integrate it automatically.
But, if you aren’t on any of the integrated platforms, you’d need to insert a piece of HTML code into your website.
For this, go to events manager, and click on “connect a data source.” Select website, and then Facebook Pixel.
The platform will evaluate the easier way to connect your website, so you’d only need to follow the steps they show you.
Step 3. Create Your Audiences
Once everything is connected correctly, start creating your target audience.
Facebook provides a plethora of tools to target the right people and optimize your ROAS, such as custom audiences and lookalikes.
Creating an audience is as simple as going to the “Audience” section and choosing the type of audience you want to target.
Here, the page will present you with four options: custom audience, lookalike audience, saved audience, and special ad audience.
This option allows you to upload your current audience and target them. You can submit their emails, phone numbers, or simply include profiles that follow your brand.
Custom audiences let you target your current audience in many ways, like:
- Showing upselling ads to recurrent customers.
- Excluding your customers from seeing ads that are not relevant to them. Such as awareness ads or lead acquisition ads.
- Giving website visitors a second chance to engage with your brand with retargeting ads.
- Narrowing your audience down with segmentation and testing many ideas on different niches.
The custom audience window gives you plenty of options to define your audience, both outside and inside Facebook. These include:
- Customer list: allows you to upload the audience’s emails, or phones, and names.
- Website: for retargeting people who visited your website, blog, or a specific product page.
- App activity: if your store has an app, you can also track users and target them based on their behavior.
- Offline Activity: to track offline behaviors. Great option for brick-and-mortar businesses to target people who have interacted with your local store recently.
- Facebook sources: This includes people who have interacted with your brand on Facebook. Either by watching your videos, liking your posts, or visiting your page.
Creating a custom audience is often a good idea when you want to target people who already know your brand — all from reading a blog post, to making a big purchase.
Essentially, Facebook allows you to target everyone on the platform under specific characteristics. And the saved audience option is mainly for saving your most profitable niches for regular use.
However, the fun of saved audiences comes from playing with the detailed targeting tool.
When creating a saved audience, this is the window you’re going to look at:
It might look simple, considering that you’ll first see pretty basic targeting info like location, language, and age.
But more than that, you can hyper-target your audience within three main categories: demographics, interests, and behaviors.
Under each category, the options to narrow down your audience are vast, and you can get as granular as you need.
For example, it isn’t hard to target an audience of people working remotely with a $120,000 income that travels three times per year who are engaged and want to find a place to form a family.
It might be funny at first. But ask yourself: Are these people your ideal customers? Do they need your products?
In a nutshell, the process involves creating many hyper-granular audiences to test with until you have a deep understanding of who are your most valuable customers.
After you’ve done experiments with many audiences, the lookalike audience option lets you target people who share a similar profile with your current audiences.
The catch here is that Facebook will show your ads to new people who haven’t heard of your brand before.
Lookalikes are an excellent tool to increase your brand awareness. Because if you target people who not only have the same interests, desires, and problems as your best customers but also follow the same patterns and react to the same content, then there’s a high chance that the lookalikes will be interested in your brand as well.
Creating a lookalike audience is pretty simple, as you only need to select an already-existing audience and use it as a source.
This window will ask you to add your lookalike source, which can come from either a custom audience, a saved audience, or even from Facebook.
Having done this, you must select the location and add more lookalike sources if you want to.
The percentage bar at the bottom refers to the most similar percentage of the audience. The lower the percentage, the narrower the audience — and thus the most similar and accurate.
On the other hand, a higher percentage means that you’re willing to target a broader audience that’s not necessarily an exact match to your source audience. This will depend on how “lookalike” you want your audience to be.
To finish off, hit on “create audience” and give it a test!
Special Ad Audience
Below there’s an option to create a special ad audience.
Special ad audiences are similar to lookalikes in terms of set up and the percentage bar. The window looks the same.
This tool takes all the information possible from your customers with higher LTV to reach people with the same online behavior.
However, this option is only available for ads in a special ad category. And they only include ads for credit, employment, and housing — so it’s only applicable if you’re an employer or work on real estate.
But don’t worry, you can do almost the same with lookalikes.
Step 4. Build Your First Ad Campaign.
Facebook ads are made in clusters.
First, you create an ad campaign with a specific goal (sales, lead gen, brand awareness). And within an ad campaign, there are many ad sets (compounded by many single ads) targeting different audiences.
So if your goal is to get sales, you need to create many bottom-funnel audiences. For which you’ll need to make many ads to test with.
This process is easier than it seems, though.
To get started. Go to your ad manager and create a new campaign.
It will show a pop-up asking you to choose your campaign’s objective. Facebook encourages you to create your campaigns based on the sales funnel stages — hence the three categories: awareness, consideration, and conversion.
Under each category, you’ll find many objective options such as sales, traffic, lead generations, etc. So you can choose what fits the best with your business.
Now, once you click continue. It will bring you to a page where you can start managing your campaigns, ad sets, and single ads.
Here, you can name your campaign and go through some details — whether you’re going to perform A/B tests, activate campaign budget optimization, or get more specific with your campaign objective.
Step 5. Set up Your Ad Sets.
Once you’ve named your campaign and hit next, you’ll be asked to create an ad set.
Ad sets are where you determine which audience you’re going to target, how much budget you’re going to allocate, where you want to show your ads, among other important information depending on your campaign objective.
You need to create an ad set before you publish your first ads. Conversely, because your ads need an audience to target in order to work.
When creating an ad set, there are three main sections you need to fill wisely.
The first section is for setting up your ad budget, choosing whether you want to allocate a daily budget or lifetime budget. It lets you decide if you are giving Facebook a budget limit per day or during the whole duration of your campaign.
How much money you’d want to allocate will depend on many factors:
- Your marketing budget. The maximum amount of money you’re allowed to spend.
- The value of your product. High-ticket products are harder to sell.
- Your objective. Sales ads are more expensive than brand awareness ads.
- Your customer acquisition cost or cost per lead. If you have a target CAC, you can set it up from here.
You can also turn Facebook’s campaign budget optimization on the last page to let it automatically manage your investment for the best results. So if you trust Facebook, this might be a good option.
For each ad set, you must select a target audience.
After allocating your budget, you’ll see the option to create a new audience from scratch right on the interface.
But most of the time, you’ll select a saved audience you already created as well as any custom audience or lookalike that you’ve uploaded.
If you haven’t created any audience yet, then you can simply create a new audience here by choosing locations, genders, ages, and languages to narrow your target audience down. And then using the detailed targeting section to make it even more granular with specific demographics, interests, and behaviors.
The last section is for selecting where you want to show your ads. There’re plenty of places on both Facebook and Instagram to place ads (not only in people’s feeds), so if you want your ads to be shown only on Instagram stories, then you can just select it and exclude everything else.
But even with all the personalization, Facebook recommends choosing automatic placements. With this option, Facebook will spend your ad set budget across multiple placements based on their data, predicting which places are more likely to maximize your ad’s performance.
It might be a good idea to use automatic placements unless you know exactly what you’re doing.
Step 6. Choose Your Ads Media.
Once you create your ad set, it is time to start making the ad itself.
Facebook offers multiple options to format your ads, edit your copy, and choose your media. You’ll need to create an ad for many formats, including sponsored posts, stories, and so on.
Even if succeeding at Facebook Ads involves creating multiple ads to test with until you hit the jackpot, this doesn’t mean you should do it randomly.
In a nutshell, your ads must accomplish four things:
- Catch attention
- Generate interest
- Create desire for your product
- Drive action
And the best way to start is by nailing these basic formats:
These ads are simple images displaying your product in the most attractive way.
But attractiveness isn’t limited to high-quality pictures with great detail. It also includes a meaningful message and a story that compels your audience to give you their attention.
Images are also probably the best option for selling low-value products that you’re leveraging to acquire customers — like a t-shirt that costs $20 or $50, for example.
There’re many types of image ads. Here are some excellent examples:
- Single picture of your product. Sometimes it’s good enough to show off a high-quality shot of your product, especially if the items are aesthetics.
- User-Generated Content. Leveraging social proof by showcasing how your current customers enjoy your product.
- Infographics. Providing value to your audience and position your product as a solution to a problem.
- Use case. Demonstrating how your product works and what it can be used for.
You can get as creative as you want. However, you must follow Facebook’s recommended specifications if you’re going to make the most out of the platform.
Here are the required specifications for image ads:
- File type: JPG or PNG
- Ratio: 1.91:1 to 1:1
- Resolution: At least 1080 x 1080 pixels
- Primary text: 125 characters
- Headline: 40 characters
- Description: 30 characters
- Maximum file size: 30 MB
- Minimum width: 600 pixels
- Minimum height: 600 pixels
Videos, on average, get more traction on social media, and they’re a great option to sell high-ticket products by showing more details or telling a story.
Video ads can come in many formats, from short videos to long explanatory videos. Depending on your offer and how receptive your audience is. Here’s what you can do with video ads:
- Short-loop videos. Doing the GIF job, short-loop videos are a way to improve an image ad by adding some animation.
- Customer testimonials. Ask your happier customers to record a video of them using your product and recommending it.
- Tell a story. Make use of storytelling to engage your audience and promote your brand.
- Use cases. Show different ways to use your product to solve various problems.
Just as with image ads. Your video must follow these specifications:
- File type: MP4, MOV, or GIF
- Ratio: 4:5
- Resolution: At least 1080 x 1080 pixels
- Video captions: Optional, but recommended
- Video sound: Optional, but recommended
- Primary text: 125 characters
- Headline: 40 characters
- Description: 30 characters
- Video duration: 1 second to 241 minutes
- Maximum file size: 4 GB
- Minimum width: 120 pixels
- Minimum height: 120 pixels
Carousels and Collections
Carousels and collections ads can include more than one image or video in the sponsored post. This, to attract potential buyers to your website.
For ecommerce, it resembles when you’re walking around the mall and see a shopfront with the product you’ve been seeking for ages.
So, when making carousels or collections ads, make sure to include the most demanded products — and don’t forget to add some cool videos!
Here are the specifications for carousels:
- Image file type: JPG or PNG
- Video file type: MP4, MOV, or GIF
- Ratio: 1:1
- Resolution: At least 1080 x 1080 pixels
- Primary text: 125 characters
- Headline: 40 characters
- Description: 20 characters
- Number of carousel cards: 2 to 10
- Image maximum file size: 30 MB
- Video maximum file size: 4 GB
- Video duration: 1 second to 240 minutes
8 Facebook Ads Best Practices
1. Embrace Retargeting
According to Mailchimp, 97% of website visitors leave and never come back, which means that from 100,000 unique visitors, only 3,000 are likely to remember you.
This is tragic, considering how much effort people make to optimize their websites.
However, there’s a chance to give that 97% a second chance with retargeting ads. Thanks to your Facebook Pixel.
With the pixel installed on your website, you can target ads to people who visited your website and never returned, giving them another chance.
For this, you want to go to the events manager page and create a custom audience based on people who visited your website. You can either include people who visited any page, a specific product page, or even a blog post — you can make it as narrow as you like.
Then, you can create campaigns that are specifically targeted to an audience who visited a product page, a blog post, or a landing page. And automatically increase your ad performance.
Retargeting with Dynamic Product Ads
Ecommerce businesses can leverage dynamic product ads for retargeting.
This, by going to your ad manager and linking your product catalog with your Facebook account in the commerce manager option. Here, you’ll create a catalog of products for your Facebook account, which will allow you to sell products on Facebook — but also to target specific products to specific users based on their behavior in your store.
Once you’ve connected your catalog to your Facebook account, you can then create a campaign with the “product catalog sales” objective and customize who you want to show your products to, depending on their profile and website behavior.
With dynamic product ads, you can promote every single product in your catalog to the right audience. Thanks to the Facebook Pixel and the commerce manager.
To leverage this even further, learn more about how to sell your products on Facebook. Implementing a shopping cart, integrating it with your ecommerce platforms, and generating sales right away from the platform.
2. Don’t Sell Products All the Time
We’re used to thinking that advertisements are only for selling products. But that couldn’t be farther from reality.
You see, your prospects must go through a journey in order to convert from prospects to customers. And every piece of marketing content (ads, posts, blogs, emails) is designed to take a prospect one step forward through their journey.
This rule applies to Facebook Ads as well — that’s why the first step is to select your campaign objective and why there are so many types of ads.
For your ads, you can break down your audiences into a three-stage funnel:
Top funnel (ToFu)
The top of the funnel is where people aren’t aware that your brand exists, and you must introduce yourself with valuable content (often, by creating how-to guides). Lookalike audiences and broad audiences tend to fall into this category.
The ad objective: to expand your brand awareness.
You want to attract prospects with content, not by promoting products right away. Ads that tell a story about your brand, show what you do, and provide value to your target audience are effective options for this goal.
Middle funnel (MoFu)
These are people who have shown interest in your brand by subscribing to your list, consuming your content, or engaging with you on social media. Niche audiences of people who have visited your blog, browsed your product, or follow a particular behavior are typically in the middle of the funnel.
The ad objective: to generate qualified leads.
To generate leads, you want to offer a valuable lead-magnet like a crash course, an ebook, or even a calculator with your ads. Offering free value — when done right — can attract highly qualified leads that can become great customers later on.
Bottom funnel (BoFu)
Here, people are actively looking to buy and are considering your brand as an option. People who abandoned a cart, have purchased a few cheap products, or have shown high interest in your products are regularly at the bottom of the funnel.
The ad objective: generate customers.
BoFu audiences are the only people you want to directly sell your products, with ads that get to the point showing what your product can solve, its features, and addressing everything your customers are looking for.
You want to trigger their curiosity so they can click on your link, read your landing page, and finally make a purchase. So offering discounts, special bundles, or gift cards are a good idea here.
3. Repurpose High-Performing Content into Ads
Whether you have a blog, a big social media account, or an ecommerce Youtube channel, the Pareto principle will always apply. Meaning that only a handful of your content pieces will drive the immense majority of your business results.
The opportunity here is that you can repurpose your top-performing pieces of content into:
- An engaging video ad.
- A great infographic.
- A lead magnet for your lead gen campaigns.
- A video sales letter.
- Different ad angles and ideas.
The reasoning behind this is to take a message that already works on your audience and use it on Facebook Ads audiences to increase your response. Plus, it serves as a great source of ad ideas, given that you’ll need to test as many ads as possible.
Any kind of content such as a big post, a Twitter thread, or a Youtube video can be repurposed.
4. Get Granular with Hyper-Targeting
If you want to get any good results from Facebook ads, you must target your audience as accurately as possible.
You see, succeeding with Facebook Ads involves showing the best ads to the right people — in the most granular way.
The reason: You get higher conversion rates with hyper-targeted ads. And a higher conversion rate nets you more ROAS.
Even Facebook encourages this. As Facebook’s Relevance Score has shown the higher your ad click-through rate, the lower your cost per click is — meaning that your cost per conversion scales with your success.
In short, proper targeting is the main idea behind creating successful Facebook Ads campaigns that drive results. There are four steps to this process:
- Research your customers. Break down your current customers as precisely as possible, look for patterns, and understand their beliefs, feelings, and desires. You must talk with them, ask them questions, and conduct surveys in order to gather this kind of information.
- Create a few buyer personas. Based on your data, start connecting the dots and building a character that represents your customer base reasonably well. Get as specific as your data allows you.
- Gather many audiences. Translate your buyer personas into saved Facebook Ads audiences, narrowing down as much as you reasonably can (as long as it makes sense with what you learned from your research). You can create many iterations of the same buyer persona and test them.
- Make your ads specific. Your ad copy and images must address the information you worked hard to get, or else it would be useless. So, create a highly targeted ad for each granular audience you made.
5. Analyze Your Relevance Metrics for Improvement
Facebook calculates relevance metrics to determine if your ads are well-performing. This is, according to Facebook, because high relevance is correlated with high performance.
You can check these metrics when looking at your campaign’s performance in the ad manager. These metrics are:
- Quality ranking. Compares the quality of your media (images, videos, photos) with today’s standards and tell if you’re above or below average.
- Engagement ranking. Measures how your audience reacts to your ads with likes or comments and tells how much response you’re getting.
- Conversion ranking. Tells how great your average conversion rate is in comparison with the rest.
This diagnostic shows you how relevant your ads are to your audiences according to the response they get. Whether it is a like, a comment, or a click, Facebook measures it to determine how to distribute your ads for maximum performance.
However, Facebook recognizes that high performance isn’t tied to high relevance metrics because your objectives are often reliant on your business model and goals.
In fact, Facebook says you shouldn’t try to improve an ad’s relevance metric if it’s already meeting your marketing goals. They only recommend taking action if your ads are performing poorly and any of the relevance metrics are below average.
Here are the actions that Facebooks recommend you to take depending on your metrics.
After all, you should take these metrics with a grain of salt, knowing that although they can help you improve poorly performing ads, they’re not 100% correlated with your business success.
6. Make Use of Automated Rules
Automated rules let you take control over your ad spend without having to waste hours of your time looking at your ad’s performance.
You can create these rules easily in your ad manager. And after clicking on it, you’ll see a window where you can start designing your rules with every detail.
Rules are essentially “if” statements that either increase or decrease the budget for a campaign depending on the return.
First, you choose the ad set you want to apply the rule on and the action you want to take. You can choose to turn the ad set off (or on), increase the budget by a specific percentage, or put a cap limit.
Then, you must determine the condition — whether if your ROAS got better than expected, if you spent more than you needed to reach a specific goal, or if your ads reached a specific frequency — plus selecting for how long you want the rule to run.
Essentially, you want to create automated rules to:
- Automatically pause ads when you spend too much without getting enough store purchases.
- Increase your budget on ads that overperform, and when your cost per purchase is lower than expected.
- Decrease your budget on ads that are getting too burnt out (high frequency), so you can avoid investing too much on an ad set before its performance starts to decay.
The goal is to manage a multitude of ad campaigns on the go without spending much time on them — allowing you to do more productive work.
7. Analyze Results and Keep Iterating
Most of your Facebook Ads work involves testing multiple ads to many audiences to see what works and what bombs.
The only way for you to know if you succeed is by measuring results. And the truth is, you’ll need to watch your metrics if you ever want to improve your ROAS — or else, you’ll be throwing shots in the air while blindfolded (in short, you’ll almost certainly fail).
This is why monitoring your ad performance is an essential part of Facebook Ads.
Now, don’t rely only on what your dashboard shows you. Try to go deeper by visualizing charts, and involve multiple variables in the process (as long as they’re relevant).
For this, go to Ads Manager and click on “Campaigns,” “Ad Sets,” or “Ads,” depending on what you want to analyze.
On the same page, click “View Charts,” and you’ll visualize your ad’s performance. Then, you’ll see the performance, demographics, placements, or deliveries of the ads you chose. Here’s what they mean:
- Performance. This chart will show you how many clicks you’ve got, the number of impressions, and your average cost per click. You can set it up to include more data and metrics.
- Demographics. Shows how your ads perform under specific demographics such as gender, age, and so on.
- Placement. This one tells you how your ads perform on different platforms (Facebook and Instagram), formats (sponsored posts or stories), and devices (desktop and mobile).
Success comes after many iterations based on how your ads perform. So you want to be constantly optimizing your ad copy, your target audience, the ad schedule, as well as your ad sets.
Don’t iterate randomly. Use your analytics data to understand what the right direction is, which messages resonate, and what kind of formats make more sense for your target audience — but always keep moving.
Don’t Ignore Facebook Ads Potential
Facebook provides you with all the necessary tools to succeed with their platform — it is just a matter of understanding how it works and getting experience.
Once you know how to catch your audience’s attention and get them to act, Facebook Ads becomes a high-ROI channel that accelerates your business growth beyond what you could ever achieve organically.
However, Facebook Ads might not be for everybody! This tool is often used to scale proven businesses, so if you’re just starting your online store, maybe you can’t afford to lose too much on your first ads.
In the end, Facebook’s system rewards those who can successfully personalize the user experience with hyper-targeted ads that don’t push products on your face.
So if you’re interested in getting into this world, don’t wait too long and start experimenting!