Facebook Advertising: A complete guide from A to Z
If you want to stay relevant and grow your business then you definitely need to have a proper understanding of Facebook Ads.
I assume that regardless of the industry you’re in, you already know how important advertising on Facebook is, so I will skip explanations on why you should advertise on the platform and get educated about it.
If you are still not convinced why you should advertise on Facebook, you should re-evaluate your Marketing perspective during this era.
Conclusion: Use the traffic objective for either retargeting your “warm” audiences or showcasing content to a “cold” audience.
Find below an outline of the guide’s content, so you can jump right at the chapter you’re most interested about.
- Business Manager Overview
- Campaign Objectives & Ad Types
- Ad Types
1. Business Manager Overview
This is what you see when you log into your business manager account. It may feel overwhelming in the beginning but once you get familiarised with it, you’ll see that on a daily basis you’ll need only some of them. Let’s explain what some of the most useful options are about.
Starting with the Plan Sub-Menu:
This is one of the most useful and amazing tools that Facebook provides to advertisers like you and me. Facebook could literally ask for a payment in order to give you access to this. I mean it.
Audience insights can provide you with all the data you need to find out almost everything about your target audience. You can find the detailed demographics of your audience such as (gender, age, location, income, buying behavior, life events).
Once you open it, you can either check what the fans of your Facebook page look like or you can research any new audiences that you may want to reach out on the platform.
If you choose “Everyone on Facebook” you’ll see something like this:
On the left side, you can input the audience that you want to analyze. You don’t have to know and fill all these information beforehand. If you just type the location you want to target and a broad interest of your potential customers, Facebook will come up will all the information you need.
An important feature that you should also leverage is the “Page likes”, where literally Facebook gives you information about what other stuff your target audience like and follow on the platform.
For instance, let’s imagine that I want to explore people interested in “fishing” who live in the USA.
All I have to do is to select the United States in the location tab and “Fishing” in the interests tab. Then, Facebook will come back with all the relevant information that I need.
You can now read and come up with useful insights regarding the age and the gender of your target audience.
In our example, it’s obvious that people in the USA who are interested in “Fishing” are aged between 25–64 (you could possibly exclude 55–64 age group from men) and are both women and men.
What that means in practice is that when you’ll run a new campaign for your product, it’d be wiser to target both female & male, aged between 25–64 for women and 25–54 for men. That way you will not spend money from your advertising budget on groups that are not so relevant and related to your product.
Can you now see how powerful is this tool?
Of course, you can go much deeper with your research, for instance as I said before, if you click on the “Page Likes” tab you will see something like this:
Some of the other Facebook pages that your target audience also like.
Are you still not convinced how Audience Insights will help you in identifying your targeting strategies, while you create a new campaign? I don’t think so! 🙂
Lastly, if you want to be more precise in terms of location click on the tab “Location” and you’ll see something like this:
You now have a detailed overview of which are some specific cities that are really highly interested in “Fishing” and you could specifically target them within your campaign.
Moving on to Create & Manage Sub-Menu:
It leads you where the magic will happen i.e. to your ads dashboard where you create and manage all your campaigns.
It leads you to all your Facebook page posts including scheduled, published and ad posts.
It leads you to the automated rules that you may have set up in order to manage your campaigns automatically and not having to do it manually every day. For instance, you could apply a rule saying (increase the ad-set budget by 1%, once hourly, if ROAS is greater than 2.5).
This is just an example. You can increase your budget as much as you want, keep in mind though that big changes in ad-sets move the ad-set back to the learning phases.
Now, if you’re not familiar with Facebook terminology and metrics, don’t freak out. I will explain them in detail later on.
Let’s now check the Measure & Report Sub-Menu:
To be honest, the only thing that I use but not really often is the Analyticsthat Facebook can provide, but I would rather suggest using Google Analytics which gives you precisely everything you need to track your business online activity.
Finally, moving on the Assets Sub-Menu:
This is one of the most important tabs that you will often use. It is where you create all the types of custom and/or lookalike audiences that you need.
The audiences you’ve just created can now be used for advertising your products on them.
No worries if you don’t know what these audiences stand for, i will explain them later on in detail.
This is the last crucial tab you need to know, which will be a catalyst (if you are an e-commerce business) to your online success.
As you may have understood from its name, within the “Catalogs” menu you can create a catalog with all your products from your store.
This catalog is usually used for re-marketing purposes and more specifically for Dynamic Product Ads. I will go in-depth on how you can use Dynamic Product Ads (DPA) later on. Keep reading! 🙂
2. Campaign Objectives & Ad Creatives
Now that you are familiar with the interface of your Ads Manager and you know what options and tools you have in your arsenal let’s dive into more detailed explanations and features.
One of the most important things (or even THE most important) to take into consideration whenever you start a new campaign is to figure out your objective.
You have to know what it is that you want to achieve with your campaign.
I cannot highlight enough how crucial this step is, because once you are clear about your objectives then it is easier to move forward and set up the campaign.
However, if you are NOT aware of what you want to achieve and you proceed without a clear and measurable target, this will eventually result in vague and unmeasurable results.
This is why Facebook classified probably all the potential objectives that an advertiser may have into these options:
All the available objectives you can choose for your advertisements on Facebook.
Let me explain them to you one by one so you become aware of what is the practicality of using each of them and how you should leverage them. Don’t underestimate the process of choosing the correct objective, because doing so can have a huge impact on achieving your goals for your ads.
BUT, before I go in depth with the campaign objectives I think it’s the right time to classify the different types of audiences you may want to reach through your ads.
Usually, the type of audiences are classified by using the times they somehow interacted with your brand/business.
- Cold audience: It’s the audience that has never heard about you. This will be their first interaction with your business.
- Warm audience: It’s the audience that may saw one of your ads, may interact with the ad or even visited your landing page and made some actions. But, they have not yet indicated their buying intent.
- Hot audience: It’s the audience that has already bought from you, knows your product or service and willing to buy additional products from you or maybe upgrade their service level.
Now, that it’s clear to you what the different audiences are let’s dive into the campaign objectives!
Increase awareness for your brand by reaching people who are more likely to be interested in it.
This campaign objective will be usually used for advertising to your “cold audiences”.
You can use it for making the first interaction with your potential customers and move them from being a “cold audience” to a more “warm audience”.
For instance, it can be a great objective if you want to distribute a great piece of content of yours, which you want to show it to a new audience which hasn’t heard about you.
Additionally, it is one of the cheapest objectives that Facebook offers, which means that you can “pixel ”potential customers much cheaper than running some of the other objectives and you can later on use this pixel data to retarget them.
Conclusion: Use brand-awareness objective when you have a good piece of content (i.e. a blogpost) and you want to showcase it to a new big audience affordably. Use the acquired data for retargeting.
Show your ad to the maximum number of people.
This campaign objective is kind of similar with brand-awareness.
However, the one difference that marketers pinpoint is that the number of impressions is higher when reach is used as an objective.
So, if you’re having trouble with your relevance scores or having trouble with getting impressions on your ad, then you should definitely test to use the reach campaign objective.
P.S. leave the pre-populated options that Facebook selects unless you want to increase the frequency of showing your ad (maybe a 3-days offer for example).
Conclusion: Use reach objective when you’re having trouble getting impressions on your ads.
Send more people to a destination on or off Facebook such as a website, app or Messenger conversation.
You can use this campaign objective when you want to drive a “warm” audience to a sales page or to a landing page where you have a big “ask” from them. In other words, anything above $60–$70.
Facebook needs 50 conversion events per week in order to optimize your campaigns and because of the high product price this may not happen. Thus, using a conversion campaign objective for higher-ticket items may not work as good as you expect.
Additionally, traffic objective can be again used for distributing a piece of content to a “cold” audience and “pixel” them cheap.Small tip: Ask Facebook to optimise your traffic campaign for landing page views and NOT link clicks.
Get more post engagements, Page likes, event responses or offer claims.
This campaign objective is quite self-explanatory.
It can be used to boost the social proof of your ads fast and quite cheap as well.
A way to use it effectively is to run an engagement campaign along with your conversion campaign and use the same post id.
That way, you will have all the engagement collected from the engagement campaign into your conversion campaign.
Social proof is a huge psychological trigger which influences buyers’ decisions and cannot be neglected.
Another way that engagement objective could be used, is by having the users start conversations with your Facebook messenger chatbot.
This is an effective way to grow your Facebook messenger list in a cheap way, which list, of course, you can, later on, engage more with your content.
Conclusion: Use the engagement objective when you want to boost the social proof on an existing ad. (Don’t forger to use the SAME post id). Or, grow your Facebook messenger list.
Get more people to install you app.
This is probably the most straightforward one.
If you have an app this is the objective that you want to use in order to find new app users via Facebook.
Use the app install optimization objective within the ad-set level.
Conclusion: Use the app installs objective for getting more users to download your app.
Get more people to view your video content.
Use this campaign objective mainly for your “cold” audiences.
It is a great way to build a relationship with this new audience and then ‘pixel’ them in order to retarget them later on.
It is quite cheap and you can get a video view with less than a 0.001$.
Because of the fact that video views are cheap, you can also use them for reaching out to your “warm” or “hot” audiences with an offer.
Even though this objective is not optimizing for purchases, you reach out to an audience that is already quite familiar with your brand and so chances are that people will buy.
Conclusion: Use the video views objective to showcase cheaply your video to a “cold” audience or reach out to “warm” or “hot” audiences with an offer.
Drive more sales leads, such as email addresses, from people interested in your brand or business.
Lead generation can be used to acquire leads (obviously), possibly from a local business or service-oriented business.
It can be a useful objective if your goal is just to generate leads.
However, it comes with some drawbacks, such as the users usually stay in the Facebook app.
Even though, users do see an option to visit your website after they opt-in, usually, they stay within the Facebook app and so for me it would be more effective to use another campaign objective where you can have the control of the whole experience that you want to offer to the users.
Conclusion: Use the lead generation objective only when your goal is to just collect contact details from Facebook users.
Get more people to send messages to your business in Messenger.
Another objective which is quite self-explanatory.
You can either use messages to run a click to messenger ad. In other words, when a user clicks on your ad they will be directed to Facebook messenger where you can start a conversation with them.
Or, use the messages objective to send sponsored messages which are directly promotional and are sent to your messenger list.
Conclusion: Use the messages objective to begin a conversation on Facebook messenger with users or send a sponsored message to your messenger list.
Drive valuable actions on your website, app or in messenger.
This is probably the most frequently used campaign objective.
Whether you want to have people buy your product, service, opt-in for your magnet lead or whatever action you want them to take on your website, this is the campaign objective that you should be starting with.
It is probably one of the most valuable campaign objectives that you must leverage within the platform.
This is because Facebook’s algorithm is so powerful that if you ask for visitors that have already purchased similar products like yours and they are frequent online shoppers, Facebook will bring them to you.
That’s the power of Facebook. Amazing, isn’t it?
However, the biggest issue with this campaign objective is the frequency of the events.
Meaning, Facebook needs 50 events recorded per week in order to optimize your campaign for better results.
And because the conversion objective is quite expensive, with your current budget it may not be possible to acquire those 50 events.
This is where the previous objectives come into play as well as other cheaper conversion events.
For instance, if you want users to buy your product, instead of starting a campaign with a ‘purchase’ event as an optimization target you can start with a ‘view content’ event.
That way you give more space to Facebook to optimize and have those 50 events with your current advertising budget. Eventually, you will end up with an audience ready to be retargeted, using a ‘purchase’ event this time.
Conclusion: Use the conversion objective when you want specific events on your website, app or messenger to happen. This event will usually help to significantly increase your sales.
Create ads that automatically show items from your catalog based on your target audience.
As I mentioned earlier, by using this campaign objective you can leverage the product catalogs that you’ve already created for your e-commerce business.
To illustrate, once a visitor comes to your landing page and navigates for a while but doesn’t buy, Facebook will show them back the same item that they’ve been watching or other relevant items.
Pro tip: You can create within your product catalogs different product sets, where you group all the similar products. This way a user who may viewed one of your products can now see other relevant ones.
Conclusion: Use the catalog sales objective to retarget audiences that have already visited your website but did not convert.
Get more people nearby to visit your brick-and-mortar locations.
Pretty straightforward objective as well.
If you own a brick-and-mortar store you can use this campaign objective to target people who live nearby your store.
When a user clicks your ad he will see a map with directions on how to visit your store.
It can be a perfect campaign objective to use when your store is quite new and you want to let people know about you and eventually visit you. It can be also used for inviting people to an event that your store may host.
Try to incentivize the users in order to convince them and have them visit your store.
Conclusion: Use the store visits objective to invite people to your brick-and-mortar store. Don’t forget to somehow incentivise them.
Phew, that was a lot of stuff only for selecting our campaign objective.
Trust me though, it is a vital step. You gotta be sure what’s your objective and select it on Facebook accordingly.
Otherwise, you limit the success of your campaign.
Let’s move on and explain the targeting options that Facebook provides you in order to reach your potential customers.
Facebook has become highly sophisticated with its targeting options firstly because of the huge amount of data that own and second because of the third-party data that make use of.
Thus, there is literally no excuse like “my customer is not on Facebook” anymore.
Yes, they are and you can pretty much laser target them.
You can target different:
- Locations i.e. (Country, state, city or zip code).
- Demographics: field of study, relationship status, education level, job title, income levels, type of house and much more.
- Interests: other relevant brands that they may like, books & magazines that they read, tv-shows or series that they prefer, sports that may be active on, celebrities/influencers that may aspire etc.
- Behaviors: you can reach people based on their mobile device, digital activities or purchase behavior.
- Saved audiences.
- Custom & lookalike audiences.
Let me explain in more detail targeting options (7) & (8).
A saved audience is simply an audience that you have already determined all the targeting preferences such as demographics, interests and/or behaviors and then you saved the audience (see the image above).
That way whenever you want to target the same audience you don’t have to re-configure the targeting from scratch rather you choose the saved one.
Custom & lookalike audiences are crucial for your Facebook advertising success.
A custom audience is an audience that Facebook populates based on your inputs.
For instance, if you have an already established customer base and you’ve collected their e-mails you can easily import this e-mail list into Facebook and create a custom audience out of it.
That way you can reach out with an advertisement to this particular audience.
The options that Facebook provides us to create custom audiences are quite a lot. Follow the steps below in order to create your own custom audiences.
For example, if you choose ‘Website Traffic’, you should then be able to see something like this:
You can choose to create an audience with all your website visitors the past X days.
You can also create custom audiences from particular events that happened on your website.
For instance, you can create a custom audience with visitors that added a product to their cart in the past 90 days but did NOT purchase. 😢
Another useful custom audience from your website activity can be visitors from a specific product page. It can be created this way:
That’s a good way to create a retargeting audience which is now considered ‘warm’ and offer them a good deal.
A quite useful custom audience is the one based on the engagement of your posts/ads and more specifically of your video posts/ads. All you have to do is:
Then select video:
And now you should be able to see something like this:
Lastly, you have of course to choose the video that will be used to create the audience and you’re good to go.
Now that you have a solid understanding of what a custom audience is and how you can create your own audiences let’s move on to explain the lookalike audience.
A lookalike audience will be an audience generated by Facebook which will have similar attributes with the custom audience that you will use as a source.
Let me explain.
In order to create a lookalike audience, you need to select a custom audience as a source. That way, you dictate Facebook to create a new audience which will be similar to your own custom audience.
For instance, if you have created a custom audience based on past ‘purchase’ events and you use it as a source for a lookalike audience, guess what?
Facebook will go and create a new lookalike audience with people who are most likely going to buy your products.
Let’s see how you can create a lookalike audience:
Once you selected ‘create a lookalike audience’ you should be able to see something like the image below.
I usually create 10 lookalike audiences from one source audience from 1%-10%.
That way I can test one by one within separate ad sets and see what works and what doesn’t.
You can either start with a general interest targeting which best describes your product and then click suggestions which will give you many more relevant options to target.
I’d suggest creating single interest ad sets or single angle ad sets.
To illustrate, if you want to sell a product to the tennis niche you can create an ad set with a single interest ‘tennis’ OR you could possibly create an ad set including all the well-known tennis players and name it ‘tennis influencers’.
In this way, you will be able to see what works and what doesn’t for your Facebook campaigns which is not the case if you mess up different interests within the same ad set.
Create either single interest ad sets or single angle ad sets which i explained above.
Bottom line is that you have plenty of options to use and reach your target audience, all you have to do is some research on what your audience looks like and start testing.
Let the data that you get from your advertisements dictate your decision-making processes, usually, data help us make more informed decisions.
When it comes to ad creatives, Facebook provides you with 5 different options which can deliver a different result and/or experience to the platform users.
Once you’ve finished with selecting the campaign objective and your target audience, you have to choose an ad type from the ones mentioned below:
Single image ads
That’s the probably most common ad type that you can use on Facebook. Even though we are definitely living in the video era, you can still achieve good results by using a static image as your ad type. However, you should avoid stock photography that can achieve zero to minimum connection with your target audience.
- File type: jpg or png
- Image ratio: 9:16 to 16:9
- Recommended resolution: Upload the highest resolution image available.
- Images that consist of more than 20% text may experience reduced delivery.
- Text: 125 characters
- Image ratio: 1.91:1 to 1:1
- Recommended resolution: at least 1,080 x 1,080px
- Headline: 25 characters
- Link Description: 30 characters
Single video ads
Perhaps the most effective ad format that you can currently use in order to get the best possible results out of your advertising efforts. Video consumption stats on Facebook are astonishing and there is no prediction for any decrease in the upcoming year.
- Video Ratio: 9:16 to 16:9
- Recommended Resolution: Upload the highest resolution video available that meets file size and ratio limits.
- Video File Size: 4GB Max
- Video Length Minimum: 1 second
- Video Length Maximum: 240 Minutes
- Video Captions: Optional but recommended
- Video Sound: Optional but recommended
- Text: 125 characters
- Video thumbnail images that consist of more than 20% text may experience reduced delivery.
- Vertical videos (with aspect ratio taller than 2:3) may be masked to 2:3
- Headline: 25 characters
- Link Description: 30 characters
By using this ad type you will be able to create a carousel of images/videos that can be moved through clicking the arrows next to them. If you want to advertise multiple products from your online store within a single advertisement this is a solid option for you.
- Minimum number of cards: 2
- Maximum number of cards: 10
- Image file type: jpg or png
- Video maximum file size: 4GB
- Video length: up to 240 minutes
- Image maximum file size: 30MB
- Recommended resolution: at least 1080 x 1080 px
- Recommended ratio: 1:1
- Text: 125 characters
- Headline: 40 characters
- Link Description: 20 characters
- Images that consist of more than 20% text may experience reduced delivery.
Slideshow ads run exactly like your video ad type. You can create a slideshow within your Ads manager by using your preferable pics. It’s an easy and fast way to create a short video (with images) instead of having a static image. It can be a solution for those that are not able to produce and edit video content for their ads.
The specs for the slideshow ads are the same as the image/video ad specs.
This last ad type is the collection ad. Where you can either use a single image/video for your basic ad creative. However, below your primary creative there are four smaller accompanying images in a grid-like layout. When users click on your ad they will be redirected to a fast-loading visual post-click experience which you have created of course before.
Take a look on this detailed guide provided by Facebook about the specs of the collection ads.
P.S. Some campaign objectives do not support all of the mentioned before ad types.
Direct response marketing i.e. online marketing is all about leading the customer to take some form of action. You want them to either visit your website, download your lead magnet or buy your product/service after clicking your advertisement.
Thus, measuring the performance of your campaigns is vital.
Knowing which specific analytics you should pay close attention to will help you learn how to track your campaigns’ performance and eventually improve them.
Some of the most important metrics to keep an eye on are:
Frequency refers to how many times your ad was seen by an individual in the platform.
Obviously, you do not want to bombard your audience with the same ad for a long period of time unless you have a brand awareness objective where you want users to recall your brand name.
Strive for low-frequency scores, because Facebook punishes ads having a high frequency with a higher cost per clicks.
If your target audience resonates with your ads and engages with them then your relevance score will be high.
On the other hand, if people don’t want to see your ads or think they are irrelevant your score will be low.
As you may have imagined, Facebook wants to show to its users’ relevant ads so they will continue using the platform.
Thus, it is your job as the advertiser to show relevant ads to your target audience and get rewarded from Facebook with higher reach and lower ad costs.
CPM (Cost per 1.000 Impressions)
Quite self-explanatory this metric. Usually, your ads will be charged per impressions.
This is the metric which shows you how much does Facebook charge you for showing your ad to 1000 users.
A very important metric since it is about how many times a Facebook user clicked on your ad. This means any action someone took on your ad.
You want high link clicks because it is an indicator that your offering is interesting to your target audience.
Link Click-through Rate (CTR)
CTR is the percentage of Facebook users who viewed your ad and actually clicked on it. You should strive for anything i’d say above 1%-2%.
Obviously, the higher the CTR the better for your ad.
CPC (Cost Per Link Click)
Pretty straightforward metric the CPC. It means how much you may when someone clicks on your ad.
You can calculate easily by dividing your ad spend/ # of clicks.
Website Adds to Cart, Checkouts Initiated, Purchases
If you are an online store owner, which is likely that you are, then these are super important metrics to keep track of.
All of them are quite self-explanatory, showing the number of people clicked on your ad, landed to your website, and took some form of extra action there such as adding to their cart, initiating checkout or completing their purchase.
Cost per Purchase
This is also an important metric for online store owners which will dictate whether or not you can be profitable from your front-end advertising efforts.
You can easily calculate the cost per purchase by dividing the ad spend/ # of sales.
Website Purchases Conversion
This metric will show you the value of the total purchases that came through this particular campaign.
Sometimes, Facebook may not report accurately those values, but most of the times you will see the purchase value of the customers generated by this particular campaign.
Website Purchase ROAS (Return on Ad Spend)
Last, is the ROAS which is also a crucial metric to keep track of like an online merchant.
You can calculate your ROAS by dividing the Website Purchase Conversion/Ad spend.
Facebook analytics are a vital part of advertising on Facebook.
You cannot take educated actions without looking at your analytics.
You should always pay attention and trust only your numbers, and if something works for you then triple down on it.
That was it.
I hope that this guide will help you understand and take advantage of this special opportunity Facebook provides you for reaching out to new audiences and finding new customers.
Wishing you a happy new year.
Take care 🙂