Squeeze Every Penny! How To Get Big Results From A Small Advertising Budget


February 28, 2017


Social Media


Marketing Professionals

Why use Facebook advertising? Firstly, there’s the incredibly targeted nature of Facebook ads which is generally believed to be more specific at this time than LinkedIn ads and similar. Then there’s the fantastically rich data you can mine from your campaigns. Whether you plan to use it for a short-term boost or as a longer-term strategy, Facebook advertising can introduce you to new customers and teach you a lot about your ideal customer at the same time. It’s a platform that gives access to an enormous amount of users and information that you can use for micro targeting. It’s also evolving at a rapid pace.

Bringing all of the above into consideration, a Facebook ad campaign can provide valuable insights to help shape your wider marketing strategy. And, perhaps most importantly, it offers good ROI whatever the size of your budget. That is of course, providing you make the most of it. Here are just a few tips to help you ensure you do.

Calculate creative

A well-designed ad catches a Facebook users’ attention, creates logical and emotional appeal for your product/services and removes barriers to interaction. With this in mind, your ad should show why your offering is useful and it needs to urge viewers to click through, like, or carry out any other desired action. What’s more, it should adhere to Facebook’s ad guidelines. This means that along with sticking to a 90-character limit for your message you need to ensure images are no more than 20 per cent text. It may sound like a lot to think about when coming up with your ad creative, but there are a lot of tools at your disposal, and luckily some are even built into the platform itself.

In 2015, Facebook launched the ad carousel – a suite of five ads that users can scroll through when on mobile, tablet or desktop. These allow you to test a number of ads. You can then compare click through rates in order to improve your future campaigns. And why wouldn’t you want to fine-tune your ad creative for optimal performance? Perfect your ad by altering the images or photos, tweaking the copy of the message and varying the call to action buttons. In addition, you can also choose to send users to different pages on your website based on which carousel ad they click. This can be really useful for introducing new products within a particular range or telling the story of a new brand or service and in this way carousels provide a good opportunity for extra creativity.

Rather than developing an ad targeted at everyone, it’s best to analyse data around a few ads, seeing what performs well with whom or designing creative targeted toward particular buying personas. This allows you to better tailor the distinct USPs and overcome barriers connected to those personas. If you don’t already have marketing personas developed, start asking yourself about your potential types of customer. Who are they? What do they do? Why do they need your product or services? The answers to these questions will help you to create calculated design by making it easier for users to realise: “I need this because…”

Once you have a brief in place, talk to your in-house graphic designer or seek out examples of similar ads to get a fuller idea of what you want to achieve visually.

As with other paid search ads like Google AdWords, it is essential to maintain some consistency between your ad creative and the landing page you’re directing people to. Users should be taken to exact match information – whether it be the same product they’ve seen featured, the sale section that was advertised or a page about the eBook you’re offering for download. Without consistency users will be disappointed that you’ve not delivered on your promise and likely bounce straight off your site. As a result you’ll lose the trust you worked hard to win.

Take an interest

Being aware of all of the targeting tools at your disposal will help you plan your campaigns more effectively. You’re probably already aware that you can target people geographically, by gender, age and based on their liking of pages similar to your own but did you know there’s also a way to target people with particular interests? You’ll find this option nestled in your ad settings. It is not the same as like advertising, so it is not purely about users liking pages related to your own. Interest targeting is based on information such as the things people share on their timeline and activities on and off Facebook. As an example, if you’re an estate agent and someone is looking for a new house, you could target those with an interest in property. This could potentially lead to targeting quite large audiences, so you’ll want to factor in other targeting elements to hone in on your customer. In this example, it could be someone who is looking for property within the region your business operates or within a particular financial band.

Interest targeting is especially powerful if you know the shopping habits, likes and interests of your ideal customers. No customer is the same, but if you’re able to identify the profile of the most loyal/highest spending/most likely to refer customers, you can go on to target similar customers on Facebook by creating custom audiences and using the profiles elsewhere in your marketing strategy too.

Behaviour targeting is another powerful tool to put to use as it allows you to target people who have demonstrated a potential interest in the type of product or service you want to sell. Again, this type of targeting uses information such as device usage and app connectivity as well as status updates and online activity outside of Facebook to find people with purchase intent. For example, a user may have visited the website of a camping holiday provider or updated their status to ask for campsite recommendations in a particular country, indicating they’re in the research stage of booking a camping trip.

Combine either or both of the above targeting types with some demographic definition and you could create a very distinct picture of the type of person who is likely to turn into a conversion for you and target them directly. Beyond gender and age there are so many demographic targeting options many people are unaware are at their disposal. Look under the ‘more demographics’ option and you’ll see you can not only target people by their parental status but even narrow down your targeting based on the age of their children. This extra step means you don’t need to waste budget if you are promoting an after school club aimed at the under 12s only.

You can also target people based on their homeowner status. This is especially useful if you own a business that requires people to be able to acquire permissions to make changes to their property. For example, you might sell conservatories. Are your conservatories bespoke, luxury conservatories? You may well want to input something about financial status in there too in order to target those with the sort of income required for your services.

These are just a few examples of the types of targeting you can put to use to make your ads work harder for you. However, while it’s always important to ensure you are putting in the work to put your ads in front of the right people, you should remember to try and keep your audience definition needle half way between specific and broad to ensure your audience is sufficiently balanced enough to include enough potential conversions. .

A/B test to find the best

With targeted advertising there’s no need to waste budget, simply keep track of what does and doesn’t work and tweak accordingly. We’ve mentioned creating different ads for different audiences, once you have ads built around specific personas you can carry out more specific tests. The idea is to make small alterations through split testing to create the ultimate ad for specific customers. Of course, with so many possibilities for testing it can be easy to get carried away in the testing phase rather than moving on to running the ad campaign. As a general rule, around 20 per cent of your budget should be used for initial testing with 80 per cent of funds reserved for your campaign using the best performing adverts.

Play with the ad copy, images – photographs or illustrations – the wording of the CTA button, where the button is placed and of course, your offer. If you’re shooting for sales, instead of relying on people clicking your ad and purchasing straight away, its good practice to add a discount code that is specific to the ad too. Even if the users don’t click through straight away, they may remember the code and visit the site to purchase at a later date. Monitoring use of the code provides you with the useful metric of how many people used your Facebook code to use alongside the number who purchased from your ad on Facebook.com.

When testing is complete, review what demographic and placement types are working best. Omit those that are not performing well. For example, if your ad is performing best between 25-34 year olds yet you are targeting 20-40 year olds narrow your audience age to get more clicks. Do this Similarly for gender and placement. Location, relationship status and education level are just some of the other variables you can tinker with and you may also tweak what you are optimising for e.g. change your goal to clicks, conversions or engagement.

Put in a little work with A/B testing and you’ll end up with an extra appealing ad, reducing your cost per conversion and maximising how far your budget goes in your campaign. For reliability of an A/B test you need a fair bit of data but you won’t want to play with lots of ads or demographic audiences all at the same time. Concentrate on just one persona at a time and alter one or two variables. This will help confirm things about your design and cement audience personas.

You’ll need to generate in excess of ten or 20 conversions with an ad to choose an overall winner. Of course, there is a risk of being too niche with your ad, which can in turn be detrimental to the number of ad views and clicks you receive. If your aim is social engagement, niche targeting could limit the number of likes your ad gets because fewer, though more receptive, people see it. Likes win likes, so higher numbers and more general appeal can amplify better.

Use the Facebook pixel

When people visit your website as a result of an ad, even if they don’t buy or carry out the action you were hoping for on their first visit, you don’t want your hard work or budget spend to go to waste. That’s where pixel power comes in. Pixels allow you to supercharge the data you collect through your Facebook ad account. They tell you how many people have visited your website from ads and even what pages they’ve been on. This allows you to remarket to these customers with offers that are tailored to them and their previous onsite behaviour.

If you’ve had someone click on your Facebook ad for your latest sale and they spent time on the landing page and then looked at a particular pair of shoes, you can remind them of that item in future ads. Or, if they’ve been on your blog reading a specific post about makeup techniques, you can target them when you publish a future post about contouring. By knowing someone is interested in a particular product, service or topic to this degree, you’re able to make them an offer in the future that they hopefully cannot refuse. Activate pixels using the snippet of code you’ll find in your Facebook ad account and place it on specific pages or across your website. For a metric of how many conversions have been generated by your ads, place a snippet on your ‘thank you for your order’ or confirmation page of your site. You can use ‘Google’s Chrome Facebook pixel helper’ extension to check you’ve put your pixels in place correctly and that they are being measured. This tool uses the visual clue of an icon turning blue to indicate pixels are present and a small badge appears on the page showing how many pixels have been found.

Mine metrics for marketing success

You can mine lots of useful information from your Facebook account whether you’re already using the advertising features or not and it’s very helpful to compare your organic and paid results. When you’re planning an ad campaign, start by looking at the fan reach of page posts to assess the appeal of your content. This can help you choose topics for ads and future content. Examining viral views that are clocked up when a friend of a fan interacts with you could highlight people types you may not have considered in your previous persona creation and examining their profiles could help you shape new marketing personas in the future.

Those who have directly accessed your page are also of interest. The organic reach of your content shows who has reached you through search or via a link on your blog or website. This helps you measure the effectiveness of your onsite content efforts in increasing long-term engagement. By comparing organic reach to fan reach you can assess how visible you are. Are enough people being exposed to content you are sharing that are not fans? If not, you may need to attract new Facebook fans by other methods and increase promotion in your marketing materials.

As organic posting is free, you can analyse which posts had the best clicks or engagement levels and adopt similar language/tone in your paid ads. You may also want to amplify select some of these posts to amplify in future paid activity too, which could help push very popular posts in the viral direction.

A summary for Facebook ad success

Facebook ad success starts with ad design and audience definition. Your ad design should be driven by what you already know about your customers and their need for your products or services and it also needs to stick to Facebook’s very specific guidelines. Interest, behaviour, demographic and custom targeting allows you to use your commercial, psychological and social savvy to target your ads at the right people. To make your ads the very best they can be for your defined audiences you should use A/B testing. Putting a pixel in place helps you to make the most out of every click through to your site as they can provide you with retargeting opportunities and conversion metrics. Finally, your Facebook account and advertising metrics are a veritable mine of information and insight that can boost your ad campaign performance and steer strategies such as content development, so use them to their fullest.