They’re considered one of the darlings of social media advertisements. Marketers love to rave about their Facebook marketing budgets, droning endlessly on about fan likes, comment numbers, and greater engagement.
Though you can gain a lot of engagement and valuable market information by running Facebook ads, don’t expect to sell much. The dismal conversion rate faced by many businesses advertising on Facebook makes sense – people come to socialize, and aren’t necessarily in business or purchase mode.
More and more marketers are seeing disappointing conversion results with Facebook ads. While they aren’t abandoning their brand pages, it seems like Facebook ads are not living up to expectations.
There are several reports purporting Facebook ads as a colossal waste of money. Several major brands have pulled out in response to these reports during the last few years, while analysts have linked the reaction to the failure of the Menlo Park, California-based social network to drive sales.
So, should you, the web designer, pull out too? And spend your money elsewhere?
If you don’t want to invest time learning about customer persona and how to influence their decision making process with Facebook ads, then I would say yes.
But I bet you don’t want to quit. You want to know why Facebook ads underperform when it comes to getting more paying clients. And you certainly want to know the secret behind influencing purchase decisions with Facebook ads.
Actually, they don’t always underperform.
Tough Mudder has enjoyed a great ROI with Facebook advertisements. Eco-friendly jewelry retailer Alex and Ani increased their ROI by 80 percent and enjoyed a 4338 percent revenue boost within 6 months of using optimized Facebook ad campaigns.
And there’s no secret.
If you’re failing to gain clients, you’re probably using Facebook ads as if it’s still 2012. Here’s what you should be doing differently:
1. Use Custom and Lookalike Audiences
With Facebook ads, it’s easy to target a wide range of audiences, but this strategy is ineffective. Facebook Custom and Lookalike audiences help in identifying, enticing, and retaining high-quality clients with more precision.
Custom audiences allow you to create Facebook ads that are targeted towards your existing audiences.
You simply need to upload Facebook User IDs, email addresses, mobile IDs or phone numbers of your audiences in a CSV file or enter them in a custom list. (MailChimp can also be used).
Facebook then matches the file with profiles in its database and presents you a ‘Custom Audience’ set that can be used for ad targeting. This allows for tightly focused advertising to reach current customers as well as attract new ones.
Note: I recommend MailChimp import as Facebook only allows user IDs and mobile IDs of people who use your Facebook application, so you need to create an application using Facebook SDK before leveraging this feature. If you’re familiar with app development and SDK use (unlike me), you can use all the features.
Web designers can also use Custom Audience retargeting. This works after you insert a tracking pixel on your site.
The code needs to be placed before the closing head tag in your web page’s HTML file. If your site has header.php, place the code there. You’ll then be able to create targeted audiences based on web pages visitors have viewed. This option doesn’t require you to know the email address of users. Facebook will then generate different lists to target. Here’s an example of a list of all people who’ve visited your site in the past 30 days.
Lastly, Custom Audiences feature can be used to target ads to people who use your mobile app based on their behaviors within the app.
So with Facebook ads, you can roll out ads to your current audiences, or exclude those audiences to try to attract new clients with marketing campaigns and special deals.
Overall, Custom Audiences are a great way to:
- Lead people down the sales funnel
- Retarget visitors to your sales page to increase conversions
- Convert people who don’t open your emails
- Recover lost customers
- Build interest in your products and services
Tip: It is important to separate lists from all the data before creating Custom Audiences. For example, you could have one list for people who have visited your website and another list for your newsletter subscribers. This will allow you to target different ads to each audience. Therefore, you need to build and import segmented lists right from the start.
Coming over to Lookalike Audiences, this feature allows you to create an audience set that is similar to your existing audience so you can target more people with interests in web design services in order to get more clients. You can use the list created for Custom Audience targeting to create a Lookalike audience target.
Artfinder, an art eCommerce site, managed to drive a 75 percent increase in subscribers and 100 percent increase in sales by using Facebook ads with Custom and Lookalike Audiences. They also reduced their cost per lead by 50 percent using these features.
2. Optimize your ad design, CTA, copy, value etc.
It’s no secret that most of your target audience hate advertising. Your ad needs to be first-glance worthy, because you may not get a second chance at attracting new prospects. Also, you have to make the value clear and as specific as possible to the prospect. Here’s a breakdown of things to optimize in your Facebook ads for highest conversions.
Facebook’s color scheme is white and blue, so don’t apply the same colors to your ad, or it’ll just blend into the News Feed and skip the tired eyes of your audiences. Use a bright color scheme and make sure the background is contrasting the image itself.
As a web designer, use an image of your work or an image of yourself as the ad image. Goofy, attention grabbing images irrelevant to your service offering may also work. You can also use images with filters to help your ad catch attention. Avoid using your brand logo unless you’re well-known. Below are some good ad examples from web development and design companies.
Sidebar ad – good face closeup.
News Feed ad – Simple contrast and smiling human imagery.
The CTA is the second thing people see after an image. While having good imagery draws attention to the ad, the call-to-action plays a significant role in getting people to take action and make a purchase.
With 1.5 million advertisers trying to get attention of Facebook users, your CTA needs to stand out while being clear and simple to grasp at the same time. You can use action words, incorporate urgency or ask questions in the CTA. For example, your CTA can tell companies looking for web design services to hire services of a professional with ‘years of experience’. Or tell individuals to ‘learn the important’ parts of web design as the ad in the imagery example does.
Copy & value proposition
The copy should talk about the benefits of using your product/service. Some people would still see your ad and take your services, but you’ll get more conversions if you talk about exactly what they’ll get when they convert.
Don’t use a vague copy like ‘Our services will make your life easier! Try them now!’
How exactly would they make a person/company’s life easier? And how much easier?
Better would be something like the copy in the imagery example. It claims that people will learn just the important parts of Photoshop in just 4 hours. So they’ll save 4 hours in the future when using those Photoshop features.
Be direct with the copy and let people know the exact value they’ll gain out of your services.
3. Use oCPM ad bidding for conversions
oCPM stands for optimized cost per 1,000 impressions and it’s one of the bidding options you get for Facebook ads. With this option, Facebook optimizes your ad by presenting it to users who are most likely to perform the desired action within the target.
Also, this bidding is automated and changes dynamically based on competition, ensuring advertisers reach their desired audiences. While the oCPM uses a propriety algorithm, Facebook uses its psychographic insight into demographics and user behavior to make intelligent decisions on who to deliver the ad to for highest conversions.
Some of the action types you can set with oCPM include:
- Installing an application
- Completing an eCommerce transaction
- Filling out a form
Since this bidding option is optimized, expect to pay a higher CPM price than a regular CPM or CPC ad price.
However, the ROI makes it a fruitful investment and experiments show that the cost per click in oCPM is far lower than in CPM. So if your objective is more specific (such as getting more paying clients), optimized CPM is a great bid type to use.
4. Redirect the ad to a dedicated landing page
Your highly targeted and personalized ads are resulting in a lot of clicks from audiences who want to become your clients. They reach your home page, and a few minutes later, they leave without even making an inquiry. What happened here?
The problem with using Facebook ads to redirect audiences to any page of your site is that people have a poor attention ratio, and not showing them what they came for at the first glance can distract them from the main goal of the campaign.
For example, if you offer services for social media design and email template design, and you target ads towards people looking for email template design services, showing them your home page, which also talks about social media design services, may turn out to be counterproductive. A better approach would be to create a dedicated landing page for email template design and redirect visitors to this landing page with Facebook ads.
So when someone clicks through, the landing page will demonstrate they are in the right place. Keeping your copy consistent along the landing page and the ad is a great way to do this.
Here’s an ad that appeared in my Facebook account from Shopify. The copy emphasizes a platform that allows you to build a Facebook store with free themes, apps and customer service backing it up.
After the click, it takes you to a landing page where you can directly create your store and start selling products on Facebook.
There are no sidebars or distractions from other Shopify tools. The goal is clear.
5. Test rigorously and stick with what works
It’s important to test different ad creatives to determine what’s getting you more clients. To optimize your campaign, don’t stop at two versions of your ads (just because one outperformed the second doesn’t mean it will outperform the third as well).
The good news is you can use Facebooks’ latest conversion lift measurement feature for the purpose. Furniture retailer, The Land of Nod, gained a better understanding of how Facebook helps in driving client acquisition with conversion lift measurement. They realized a client acquisition lift of 12 percent with seasonal advertising, and established it as a benchmark for future goals.
Conversion lift measurement results will be displayed in real-time under Ads Manager reporting. The concept is based on principles of lift management to determine which of many Facebook ads are working best for gaining clients.
Over to you
Well, there you have it. The key elements to creating effective Facebook Ads that should increase client conversions. These strategies will help your ads draw the attention of your target audience away from all other distractions on Facebook and make them focus on what you have to offer.
Are you using Facebook ads to gain more clients for your services? What ad strategies have worked best for you? Feel free to share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below.
Article thumbnail image by Bplanet / shutterstock.com
By the way, could anyone explain to me HOW is it that Facebook shows me ads for Elegant Themes? When I just created a new account, and didn’t even set any of my interests in my profile!
Anyway, it really drives me mad, and just has an opposite effect to the one intended: no one likes to feel like he/she’s being spied on.
So I’m gonna use Facebook Disconnect, and trust me, I’ll spread the word.
I personally think that the reason people are disappointed with Facebook ads is because they simply try to sell direct to a cold audience (and one which is focused on social interaction, not buying). That’s never going to work. I advise people to use Facebook ads as the first step in generating a lead instead – get people clicking to an opt-in form, get them on your email list, and build trust with your prospect over time via email and/or your Facebook business page. Only then can you pitch to them what you’re selling. If you do that, you can get a good ROI.
I have a suggestion for you: If Facebook is so good at targeting and converting leads, why don’t you base your hook on proof in the pudding. It’s all well and good to offer a 50 – 100 dollar incentive to start a campaign, but these hooks are totally futile. Why not revolutionize the ad industry by walking a potential client through the maze of choices, helping him select the ones that’ll work for them. Once the leads start to convert (you could limit the number to something relatively small), the client would be asked to pay for continued service.
THAT would be REVOLUTIONARY… but everyone and their mother would want to try it, and seeing it work is like being in the picture that is reportedly worth a thousand words, if you get my drift!
NO-ONE seems to be willing to go that far… how about YOU?
Useful tips. I can recommend video post i Facebook, it´s work amazing! Thanks for nice work.
Great post, Dan!
I think it really depends on what you have got to offer, as mentionned earlier. As far as my business go, it really boosted the orders as soon as I began Facebook campains (from 150% to 200%). But I am pretty certain that it is because my customers browse Facebook as an entertainment.
What about such an article about AdWords? 😉
Thanks for the great work!
I offer linguistic (copywriting, translating and text revision) services, targeted advertising space in my digital magazine, and a combination of web services through two web properties. I have tried FB advertising twice, and though I get the odd referral from my list of ‘friends’ (usually from someone who knows me), my paid FB ads never panned out.
I find that Linked-In is better suited to service ads than is FB, which is better suited to a retail market, given its social nature.
Facebook advertising is a strange one – it has brilliant technology, and refined targeting tools but the traffic is pretty lame – and yet I keep hearing about people ‘crushing it’ with sales and subscriptions…it just depends on what you have to offer, how you present it. There are obviously ‘buyers’ on Facebook but they buy only very select niche products. Great post, you nailed thew process, we just have to present the ‘right stuff’ 🙂
Hey Dan, Just FYI – that Udemy post is probably not a paid ad – there’s too much text on it and it would have been rejected.