The Facebook Ad platform is an increasingly popular tool for entrepreneurs and startups because of its relative ease of use, accessibility and customer reach. However, it can quickly become a drain on your all-important finances if your ads don’t perform the way you need them to. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to get the best from your Facebook ads without breaking the bank.
Understand your customer’s pain
Before you even think about placing – and paying for – an ad on Facebook you need to know who your customer is and what “pain” they are feeling.
I’m not talking about the kind of pain that is solved by popping an aspirin (unless, that is, your company sells aspirin). I mean what excruciating problem is your customer facing that your business can solve – what is your customer’s “pain”?
Have you done enough customer research to really get to grips with your customer? How do you know it’s enough? Quick tip, it’s definitely not enough if:
- Your customer research is based on feedback from friends and family
- You are your own target customer so assume everyone “like you” has the same pain
- You’ve asked “a handful” of potential customers
- You have relied solely on desk research
To get the best from your Facebook ad you’re going to want to know more than just simple demographics (ie gender, location, age). While those things are important for your targeting (more on that later), your ad message needs more refinement based on the things that stress your customer out, what annoys them, what makes them happy, what do they need help with, what they are searching for?
You’re a startup founder with limited cash to throw around, don’t waste it pushing ad messages that don’t resonate with your customers. Spend the time doing your research at the outset and get more bang for your buck.
Image over text
Okay, so you’ve done your research and you know that your customer is desperate to find a product that can help them with x, y and z. Lucky for them, x, y and z is exactly what you offer.
So, you design a graphic, including your brand name, with some bullet points about features and benefits of your awesome product. It’s perfect – it has all your brand messages and it looks great, really professional. Your customer is going to love it – you’ve even tested it during some of your face to face customer interviews and people have told you they love it. It’s a sure thing, right?
Facebook is pretty specific about what kind of content it likes, and what it doesn’t. You may have noticed when adding some of your images to Facebook’s Ad Manager that a little exclamation mark appears beside them warning you that the content may limit your ad’s reach.
This is down to Facebook’s 20% rule. Previously, if an ad image contained more than 20% text then Facebook would reject it and the ad wouldn’t run. That rule has relaxed slightly in the past couple of months, with Facebook now generally approving the content but restricting the number of times the ad is shown. Either way, if you want to get the best out of your Facebook ads, keep text to a minimum.
It’s all too easy to fall down the rabbit hole when using the targeting tools in Facebook’s Ad Manager. You’ll probably have an idea of the demographics you want to reach regarding location, gender, age group, income bracket etc. However, there is so much more to choose from and instinctively you’ll want to add as many interests and behaviours as you can possibly think of which may be relevant to your business. Be careful.
Facebook’s default setting is for your target audience to be interested in AT LEAST ONE of the options you tick. You probably start off with the best of intentions – let’s say you are Moonshot and you want to target entrepreneurs, so you tick the “entrepreneurship” box. So far so good, right? But then you continue to target lots of other interests you think are relevant to your customer: “startups”, “investment”, “Dragon’s Den”, “Marketing”, “Recruitment”, “Sales” …
Do you see what’s happened? Now, I’m not only targeting people who are interested in “entrepreneurship”, but also anyone who is interested in “recruitment” (and possibly NOT entrepreneurship). My train of thought has led me down a path that looks like I’m increasing the size of my relevant audience, but actually I’m just targeting people who probably aren’t my main customer.
One way around this, of course, is to change the settings to include everyone interested in “entrepreneurship” AND one or two other things. However, be careful not to go too niche too quickly or you risk missing out an entire audience who would be interested in your product (for example, if I’d chosen “entrepreneurship” and “Dragon’s Den”, I may miss all the people who are interested in one and not the other).
The best target audience for your business is specific to your business (funny that). Keep your ad targeting relatively broad to begin with – selecting those who have an interest in AT LEAST ONE of two or three very closely related topics. Run the ad with a modest budget for about one week and, once your ad has finished, review the data and find out more about those who engaged. That way you can refine your target audience demographics specific to your business based on solid data.
Beware the Boost
I’ll delve into this in more detail in another blog, but suffice to say Facebook Boost is to Ads what McDonald’s or KFC is to gourmet cuisine. It’s fast and easy, but not necessarily good for you and you may not like the results.
A Boost can be useful if you’re trying to encourage more engagement with one particular piece of content (for example, you’ve developed a great video and want to encourage more shares, likes, comments etc).
However, if you’re trying to drive traffic to your website or encourage customers to submit a form (or some other means of lead generation) then it’s important your run a specific ad.
Not only is an ad geared to deliver on your goal (ie lead generation, website traffic, ecommerce etc), but it also allows you to be more targeted with your content and there’s no need for it to be shown to your existing customers (especially useful if you are running an introductory promotion suitable for new customers).
Facebook is fast becoming one of the most powerful advertising platforms in the world, but it’s not a magic wand. Do your research, understand your customer, test your ads, check them against Facebook’s own guidelines and beware of lazily boosting your content hoping it’ll generate leads. Your marketing budget is precious, avoid wasting it as much as you can.