Despite recent turmoil, it’s impossible to not include Facebook advertising in your marketing mix. It’s a behemoth of a social media platform that allows businesses to appear in people’s feeds alongside organic posts from friends and family. Running Facebook Ads is almost always appropriate for every business, regardless of sector.
If you’re planning an organic or paid advertising strategy that includes a Facebook Ad of some description then you’re in the right place. Here you’ll get a comprehensive overview of the platform and how you can target potential customers in their news feed.
As experts across all of Meta’s advertising channels, we’re very comfortable creating and executing Facebook Ad campaigns, and other paid social campaigns, that get in front of the people that are going to be most interested in buying your goods and services.
For more information, call us on 0161 327 2635 or email [email protected].
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What Is Facebook?
Facebook has been around as a social media platform since 2006. Initially created by entrepreneur Mark Zuckerberg along with a few of his university friends, the platform quickly became a success, becoming the most downloaded app of the 2010s. Fast forward a decade and Facebook is still dominating the social media field, having acquired Instagram and Whatsapp in 2012 & 2014 respectively, forming the newly-coined Meta.
Facebook has developed into an unrivalled advertising and online promotion powerhouse. So much so, that there are brands that are entirely reliant on Facebook advertising and couldn’t have gotten where they are without it. In fact, there are entire teams built around running ads on Facebook (and the other Meta channels), such as the one here at Embryo!
Facebook is unique in its approach to online advertising, differentiating itself from Google Ads with its hyper-specific targeting approaches and ability to reach users without the need for an initial search. Other social media platforms, such as Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn have followed suit, launching their own Ads Manager platforms, but Facebook will always be the market leader when it comes to targeting capabilities.
What Types of Businesses Should Use the Channel?
Facebook can be a great platform for a lot of businesses. 90% of our clients use paid Facebook advertising to build brand awareness, drive traffic to their website, and generate leads, and sales. With the correct targeting strategy, the majority of businesses can be successful on Facebook. That being said, Facebook’s advertising platform will only work for your business if your audience actually uses this social media platform.
You have a good chance that your audience will be on Facebook, given that it has roughly 2.9 billion monthly active users. In terms of demographics, 56.6% of Facebook users are male, and Facebook is the most popular social media network for men and women aged 35-44.
It entirely depends on who your audience is as to whether Facebook is the channel for you. If you look at Facebook targeting options, you can identify whether you are able to easily target the correct audience in their desktop or mobile news feeds or not.
For example, if you’re looking for a real niche sector of anti-money laundering professionals with 5+ years of experience who are in a decision-making role, you’re probably going to struggle on Facebook – but, LinkedIn would potentially be a goldmine. However, if your target audience is people aged 21-30 who shop at Zara, H&M, and ASOS, and are looking for a new dress, then Facebook advertising is probably your best bet.
To determine whether the platform works for you from a paid ads perspective is down to your paid social experts to determine. Based on their years of experience and knowledge, they’ll likely be able to tell you instantly if it’s possible or not.
As a general rule of thumb, if your audience is too broad, it’s unlikely to work well on Facebook. But similarly, if your audience is to niche, it won’t perform either.
Whether Facebook is a channel for you in general, away from an ads perspective, is an entirely different conversation. There are many companies and brands that would benefit from high-performing organic social media marketing, utilising groups, events, and Facebook Lives. Again, think about how your customers/users interact with your brand and think about the best way to engage them. It might not always be via this advertising strategy.
So, you’ve discovered that your audience is Facebook, which means that paid ads will work for you – right? Wrong!
There are a few questions that you need to ask yourself before deciding whether you should start running Facebook ads.
- What does success look like to you?
- How quickly do you need to see a return on your investment?
- How much are you willing to invest?
Real success with Facebook advertising comes from driving top-of-funnel traffic and making people aware of your brand. If you consider the Messy Middle, Facebook is fantastic at fulfilling the trigger, evaluation, and exploration stages.
The same can’t be said for purely driving bottom-of-funnel (BOF) conversions.
Now, Facebook can be incredible for BOF, and you’ll know people who make all their money through Facebook ads, but that only works if you allow time for the top of the funnel to build up and make data-driven decisions.
Therefore, if your success looks like ‘an immediate return on investment’, starting with a small advertising cost and increasing once you have proof of concept, you’re unlikely to succeed.
Facebook and Instagram Targeting
Facebook’s targeting capabilities have always been its strongest asset and the driving force behind the success of many advertising efforts. At times, the targeting has been known to be a little too targeted, most infamously resulting in the Cambridge Analytica Scandal in 2018.
There are three main ways that you can target your audience on Facebook and Instagram:
- Utilising interest-based targeting
- Retargeting existing audiences
- Lookalike audiences
All three of these methods are effective at reaching entirely different audiences. Let’s take a closer look at the approaches below.
Interest-based targeting is the bread and butter of Facebook & Instagram advertising. Utilising data collected by Facebook Pixels across thousands of websites combined with tracking each user’s activity across the platform itself, Facebook determines a couple of different criteria for each user.
Along with your basic location, age, and gender, these are:
‘Interests’ is where Facebook and Instagram utilise all their data sources and pull out some overall brands, hobbies, sports, TV shows, etc. that each user shows ‘interest’ in. Here, advertisers can build the personas of their target audience and reach them directly. There are hundreds of options available here, but they do sit in the following categories:
- Business and industry
- Family and relationships
- Fitness and wellness
- Food and drink
- Hobbies and activities
- Shopping and fashion
- Sports and outdoors
Rather than what you engage with on Facebook & Instagram, behaviours are based on how you engage. This includes:
- Digital activities: Facebook page admins, people who use Facebook gaming, operating system used, internet browsers used
- Expats: Lived in X country and moved to Y country, lived abroad, a family of those who lives abroad, friends of those who live abroad
- Mobile device user: A mobile device used
- Purchase Behaviour: Engaged shoppers (purchase frequently online)
- Travel: Commuters, frequent travellers, frequent international travellers, returned from travel one week ago, returned from travel two weeks ago
As users provide a lot of their personal information to Facebook voluntarily, the platform also allows advertisers to target based on demographics. These demographics are collected into the following categories:
- Education: Education, the field of study, schools, years of study
- Financial: Income (US only)
- Life Events: Anniversary, away from family, away from hometown, birthday, friends of people with a birthday in a specific month, long-distance relationship, new job, new relationship, newly engaged, newlywed, recently moved
- Parents: New parents, toddlers, preteens, teenagers, adult children
- Relationship: Divorced, single, in a relationship, married, engaged
- Work: Employers, industries, job titles
‘Retargeting’ is one of the best features of Facebook & Instagram advertising.
Retargeting gives you the opportunity to target people, either in their mobile or desktop news feed that have previously engaged with you in some way.
- Customer Lists: With customer lists, you can upload the email address and names that you have previously collected (in a GDPR-compliant format). This could be a list of existing customers, an email list etc. Facebook will then match those lists to profiles and allow advertisers to target those that match.
- Dynamic Integration Audiences: The problem with customer list audiences is that they are static, as you upload them manually and then need to update them manually. Some applications allow for dynamic audience integration, mainly email marketing platforms. Once you create a segment in the application, there is an option to sync through to Facebook. Therefore, as that segment updates in the back end, it will automatically update on Facebook.
- Website Engagement: With a Facebook Pixel on your website, you are able to retarget anyone who has been on your website in the past 180 days. This could be broad, targeting everyone who’s been on the site as a whole, or it could be page-specific or time-on-page specific. These ads are also really good for targeting abandoned baskets and people that have viewed specific products on your site.
- Page Engagement: In the same way that you can retarget any website engagement, you can do the same for your Facebook or Instagram pages too. This is particularly useful if you have an active audience on your organic pages.
- Ad Engagement: You can also retarget people who have engaged with your ad, whether that is a video view or a click. This allows you to build out an effective funnel.
Lookalike audiences differ from the other methods of targeting as they are data-based. A lookalike audience takes the audience information in your customer list or retargeting audience and finds users that are similar to your base audience but not the same. What this means is that you can upload a list of your existing customers and Facebook will find you new customers that are more likely to purchase than others.
In simple terms – lookalike audiences are the new customer acquisition weapon in Facebook & Instagram’s targeting arsenal.
To create a lookalike audience, you select how similar to the source audience you want your lookalike to be. This works on a sliding scale from 1% to 10%, with 10% being the most dissimilar. It’s recommended that you create different percentage audiences. In doing this, you can have different audiences of different similarities and test performance side by side.
Recommended Targeting Strategies
There is a huge variety of targeting strategies that can be implemented on Facebook ads.
One of the key benefits of Facebook advertising is the ability to be extremely specific with your targeting. However, there’s been a shift in the advertising space recently to allow Facebook’s AI to effectively do more work for you. This had led to a huge increase in the use of a broad targeting strategy to drive results.
Conversion Funnel Targeting
One of the classic targeting strategies, for brand new accounts it is essential that they focus on building out a conversion funnel. This means creating a top-of-funnel that attracts potential new customers, a middle that engages users, and a bottom-of-funnel that drives conversions. If you don’t create a funnel that fills up the top as consistently as it converts at the bottom, you will exhaust your audience pretty quickly. An exhausted audience leads to increased costs and poor performance, so it’s imperative that you avoid this where possible.
New Customer-Focused Targeting
As important as it is to build a conversion funnel if your main focus is new customer acquisition, this may not be the correct approach immediately. For new customers, your whole strategy should be shifted away from retargeting and more towards engaging new customers.
The Importance of Testing
Although there are some clear targeting strategies in paid social advertising, there is no ‘one size fits all’ strategy that you can implement. If you speak to our paid social managers, there is a 90% chance that they will tell you how important testing is.
Every target audience is entirely different and reacts in an entirely different way, so just because one style of ad works really well on one account does not mean that you can just reimplement it on a similar page.
Creative and Copy Testing
With all the different creative options available to you within Facebook advertising, it is vital that you not only test different types, but also different focuses. Some of our favourites to test are:
- Solution-focused: what can your product/service offer the audience
- USP-focused: what makes your brand different from competitors
- Review-focused: lead with customer/client reviews
- Case study focused: lead with customer/client stories
- Problem-focused: what problem does your audience have
- Price focused: lead with your price
- Sale-focused: lead with your sale
By introducing different ad focus variations and testing, you have the opportunity to evaluate the results and data to make informed decisions. It is most likely that as your audience is at different stages of their customer journey they require different messaging or creativity to be convinced to purchase/enquire.
Without testing what form of copy or creative resonates with your audience the most and drives the most desired results, you are basing your entire strategy around assumptions. You can’t put all your eggs in one basket with paid social, you need to be able to be flexible. Most of the time, you are surprised by the results!
In a similar vein, you can launch various different tests when it comes to targeting your account. Some common tests that we run include:
- Split age testing: create two ad sets segmenting your audience into two different age groups and see which performs best
- Split gender testing: test male vs. female in two ad sets
- Different interest groups: for example, department stores vs. fashion brands vs. weekend interests vs. tv interests vs. music interests
- Lookalike testing: test 1% vs. 2% vs. 3% etc.
- Retargeting testing: running Facebook engagement retargeting vs. Instagram engagement retargeting
- Video Views testing: run 3-second video views retargeting vs. 10-second video views retargeting etc. (Facebook themselves recommend keeping videos below 15 seconds)
- Web pages testing: test specific page view retargeting vs. whole page view retargeting
When testing targeting options, it’s important to factor in audience size. If one audience is significantly larger than the other, all of your advertising budgets will automatically go to the biggest. In this case, you can implement ad-set budgets or ad-set spending limits to counter this.
Landing Page Testing
Along with testing copy, creative, and targeting, an often overlooked aspect to test is your landing page. Particularly if you are running website lead generation campaigns, your landing page needs to be perfectly optimised to convert website visitors.
With years of experience, we know that there are multiple factors that can impact a landing page’s conversion rate, such as:
- The number of fields in your form
- Whether you include Trustpilot reviews or not
- The image option on your page
- How much content is above/below the fold
- The landing page load time
It is only through testing different variations that you can really have the best possible conversion rate.
Types of Ads/Campaigns
When it comes to Facebook & Instagram social media advertising, there are 6 campaign types and 6 key ad types to choose from.
‘Show your ads to people who are most likely to remember them.’
Awareness campaigns are great for when you’re trying to build up reach or video views from new audiences. However, make sure that you avoid the ‘estimated ad recall lift’ metric, as this isn’t particularly accurate and doesn’t allow you to make data-driven decisions.
‘Send people to a destination, like your website, app or Facebook event.’
Traffic campaigns optimise for link clicks and landing page views.
‘Get more messages, video views, post engagement, Page likes or event responses.’
If you’re looking to drive soft top-of-funnel engagements, this is your campaign type.
‘Collect leads for your business or brand.’
Use this campaign type when you’re looking to achieve leads.
‘Find new people to install your app and continue using it.’
If you have an app campaign objective, you use this campaign type.
‘Find people likely to purchase your product or service.’
Sales campaigns focus on driving revenue and purchases.
Single Image option
Your ad features one single image, copy, headline and description.
Your ad features one video, copy, a headline and a description.
Your ad features 2-10 single images or video ads in a slide format, copy, 2-10 headlines and descriptions.
Your ad is in the same format as a carousel, but pulls the product catalogue directly from your website and dynamically populates the headline and description. These perform really well for eCommerce businesses in sales campaigns.
Your ad features a single image option and then dynamically populates products that appear once the user clicks on the image. This ad type helps drive sales.
This type of ad allows users to click on your ad and enjoy an immersive instant experience, this gives you an opportunity to further showcase your brand and tell its story.
We Run Facebook Campaigns and Ads That Bring You Results.
From campaigns that bring you high-value leads to carousel ads that feature eye-catching imagery, we can do it all. If you’re interested then why not have a chat with our team today?
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When it comes to Facebook and Instagram ad tracking, it is essential that you utilise the Facebook Pixel, also known as the Meta Pixel.
Types of Metrics
There are multiple metrics available to track within Facebook/Instagram advertising:
- Reach – How many people your ad was served to
- Impressions – How many times your ad has been seen by people (note: this is a total and isn’t the equivalent of the number of people)
- Link Clicks – How many people clicked on your ad
- Landing Page Views – How many people clicked on your ad and visited your landing page
- Estimated Ad Recall Lift – An estimated metric of how many people would remember your ad if asked about it over the next few days
- Engagement – How many clicks, shares, comments, video views, or likes your ad has received
- Video Views – How many views your ad has received? This can be broken down into 3 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, or the percentage of videos watched
Facebook (Meta) Pixel
The Facebook (Meta) Pixel is imperative when it comes to running Facebook and Instagram ads. Without implementing the Facebook Pixel correctly on your website, you will be very limited in the metrics that you can track.
The Facebook Pixel is a unique piece of code that you place on your website that sends signals back to your advertising account based on user behaviour.
For example, if someone visits your website and then adds a product to a cart, the Facebook pixel collects that data processes it, and then attributes it to the correct ad. You will then see how many add-to-cart conversions each of your campaigns received.
The Facebook Pixel enables you to build retargeting audiences, allowing you to collect page views and website events to create custom audiences In addition, you’re able to drive more sales because the Pixel enables you to target customers who are more likely to complete the website events you want them to Finally, and most fundamentally, Pixel’s knowledge allows you to better understand the impact your ads have had.
If you run advertising campaigns without a Facebook Pixel in place, you can only measure the following metrics:
- Link clicks
- Estimated ad recall lift (brand awareness)
- Video views
- Lead generation form completions
In short, without the Pixel on your website, you are only able to track events and actions that take place on Facebook/Instagram. This limits your ability to measure success and reduces the campaign types that you can run.
With a Facebook Pixel, you can create a custom metric from any event or page on your website. That being said, the key metrics that you can usually measure once a Pixel is implemented are:
- Add to carts
- Purchase conversion value
- Landing page views
- Contact form completions
Event Tracking with the Facebook Pixel
There are various ways that you can implement the Facebook Pixel on your website and set up events. If you’re unsure about how to navigate website code, the partner integrations are a great way to go as it usually only requires login credentials and you’re set! Additionally, by installing the Facebook Pixel using this method, usually, some of the standard events (such as purchases across Ecommerce websites) will automatically be created too.
Manual Pixel Setup
In some cases, you can implement the Facebook Pixel manually. In this instance, you take the Facebook Pixel code from the Facebook Events Manager and copy and paste it into the header of your website. This method will not set up any events automatically for you but is recommended if you have a custom website.
Some common website platforms integrate with Facebook for a smoother Pixel implementation process. These include:
Custom Conversions and Event Tracking
In some cases, there may be uncommon events that you need to track and measure that aren’t present. Thankfully, you can create an event or a custom conversion from any action on your website.
There are two main methods for this on Facebook:
- Event Helper Tool – this allows you to select website buttons and assign them to ‘standard’ events, such as setting a telephone number click as a ‘contact’ event.
- Custom Conversion – this allows you to set specific URL loads as specific actions. For example, you can use this when you want to track a ‘thank you’ page.
Once you’ve linked your Facebook Pixel to your account, it is important that you also verify your domain name against your Business Manager. Without verifying your domain, you cannot accurately track your Pixel events.
A post-iOS 14 rollout, each domain that you aim to run ads for can only be claimed by one Business Manager account.
To claim your domain name, you need to use one of the following three methods:
- Add a meta tag to your home page
- Upload an HTML file to your web directory
- Add a DNS TXT entry to your DNS record
Once your domain is verified, you then need to aggregate your Facebook events against your domain.
Aggregated Event Measurement
Another post-iOS 14 tracking change, Aggregated Event Measurement was rolled out in 2021. Aggregated events is a new protocol that enables the measurement of web and app events from people using iOS 14.5 or later devices. You can select up to 8 key events to track per domain. Remember, you can only aggregate events for a domain that you own and have verified in the Business Manager.
Aggregated events are described as ‘prioritised’ and your ad account will then measure the success of your campaigns on this priority list. You can still run ads using unprioritised events, however, your tracking capabilities are limited and your reporting may not be as accurate.
Costs of Running Campaigns
When considering running paid Facebook or Instagram ads, there are a variety of costs involved that you need to consider. These can include how much you want to spend in ad spend, how long you want to run ads for, and how much your agency is going to charge you for the management.
What You’re Charged For
Unlike PPC, funnily enough, where you pay-per-click, with Facebook ads you usually pay per impression. The pricing of Facebook ads is based on an auction system where ads compete for impressions based on bid and performance. This means that you get charged every time your ad is successfully served to the audience. Your invoices will also detail the number of impressions per campaign and the cost associated with that.
In terms of billing, you set a payment threshold within the account. Every time that the threshold is hit, you will then receive an invoice and the money will be taken out of your assigned payment account. You will also be billed monthly, irrespective of how much you’ve spent so far.
Average Campaign Costs
When considering running a Facebook or Instagram advertising campaign, you need to analyse your goals and what you will view as a success. From here you can start to look at how much it will cost you to hit your targets.
As a very general principle, the bigger the action that you need your audience to take, the more money it is going to cost you. It isn’t necessarily all that simple, as many factors can impact this, such as how competitive your market is, its size, your product catalogue, the levels of seasonality, the quality of your creative, and much more including price and average click through rate.
An expert paid social team will be able to analyse all of the above data to ensure that your strategy drives the lowest cost/highest quality conversions. It may be that your market is extremely competitive on Facebook and Instagram, such as fashion, and therefore your CPM is always going to be significantly higher than the average. Factoring this in, paid social managers will be able to forecast accurately for your specific target audience and industry.
Generally speaking, in terms of how costly it is going to be for you to run your campaigns, the average cost to achieve a specific metric goes from the least expensive at the top, getting more costly as you go down:
- Video views
- On-Facebook lead generation
- Landing page leads
Conclusion: Facebook Is as Potent as Ever, Include It in Your Social Media Marketing Plan
Facebook is still a very powerful, potent platform despite the issues that it and Meta have had in recent years. The ability to be so specific in your targeting and to appear directly in people’s news feeds is something that B2B and B2C businesses, in particular, shouldn’t disregard.
Leveraging Facebook’s ads platform should be part of your marketing strategy. If you want to learn more about how your businesses can benefit from this then please get in touch with us.
Call us on 0161 327 2635 or email [email protected].
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