Ask the Expert Advice: If Your Facebook Ads Aren't Working, Ask Yourself These 5 Questions

If you aren't seeing strong engagement and you're confident that your demographic targeting is good, our marketing expert Aaron Agius shares some tips on finding Facebook success.
Ask the Expert Advice: If Your Facebook Ads Aren't Working, Ask Yourself These 5 Questions
Image credit: weedezign | Shutterstock

Q: What is the best way to effectively reach and get engagement through Facebook ads?
--Michelangelo Alimo

A: So many people these days argue that everyone should be advertising on Facebook -- that the potential reach, advanced targeting features and huge returns some marketers see make it a good idea for every business and every brand. Of course that’s not true. Facebook ads aren’t for everybody, and the growing level of competition I’m seeing means that new marketers should proceed with caution when launching their first campaigns.

If you aren’t seeing strong engagement and you’re confident that your demographic targeting is good, the following questions should help you optimize:

Related: Lessons Outdoor Ad Media Needs to Learn from Mobile's Woes

1. Are you measuring your goals?

If you want to optimize your campaigns, you need to know have something to measure your optimization against -- and that means knowing what your specific goals are. Are you going for awareness? Opt-ins? Sales? Pick a goal, install your Facebook tracking pixel and figure out how to put your ad in front the people who are most likely to take your designated action.

2. Are you using the right ad type?

My recommendation to everyone is the following: ignore boosted posts. It’s usually money down the drain.

I generally only spend money on Facebook ads that buy likes to the page. Money spent on boosting posts is one-time traffic. Getting likes to the page mean that you can continue to push your content and engagement, and the audience will continue to see it. You get to market to them multiple times for the same spend.

To do this effectively, you need to do two things. First, look at the demographics of the people who are currently engaging -- liking, commenting, sharing, etc. -- with the content on your page using Facebook's analytics tool.  Second, buy likes to the page targeting the exact same demographic as the people who are most engaged with your content currently.

The higher your engagement level is -- because you’re targeting the right people with your ads -- the higher your organic reach will be. That’ll make it even easier to continue to get your content in front of the people who have liked your page.

3. Is your ad copy working?

There’s a reason effective copywriters make a ton of money. You get 25 characters for your Facebook ad headline; that’s not a lot of room to get people to take whatever action you want them to take.

Related: 4 Ways to Improve Personal Branding Using Facebook Live

This is actually one of the first places I’d start optimizing my ads. First, I’d ask, “Is my headline clear?” It can be fun to sound mysterious, but users won’t take action if they don’t know what’s in it for them and what to do. Confusing or misleading headlines might sound clever but can seriously hurt your campaign results. Test your headlines, then drill down to any other copy used in your ad.

4. Is your ad image effective?

Same goes for Facebook ad images as the headlines. If the ad type you’re using involves pictures, nailing them is critical for your engagement. And unfortunately, the only way to know if your pictures are effective is to test, test and test some more. Experiment with images of people versus flat design graphics, with the amount of contrast in your images and with image filters that make your pics stand out. Test different color combinations, borders and more (just don’t include anything offensive, obviously).

5. What’s the context of your campaign?

This is less of an optimization tip and more of a broad-level thinking tip -- but I think it’ll still help you out. One mistake I see new advertisers make is running these tiny little micro-campaigns that they’ve split-tested to death.

I’m a big fan of split-testing (it’s hands-down the best tool in your arsenal for overall optimization), but when you obsess over small things -- like a single call-to-action or piece of content -- you’re missing the context of your campaigns.

Related: Faceoff: Instagram versus Facebook, For Business

How do your individual ad groups work as part of your overall marketing funnel? What frame of mind are users in when they see your ads (and how can you use that to your advantage)? Can you build evergreen campaigns that can be used in the long-run so that your optimization efforts are actually building to something? It’s more of a mindset hack, but I think it’s important to incorporate when you’re just getting started to avoid wasting time gathering data that doesn’t do much for you.

 

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