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Social Chat 2.4: Simple Hacks to Instantly Increase Facebook Ad Conversions




Rebekah Radice: Well, hello and welcome. This is SEMrush's Social Chat 2.0 and today we are talking about Simple Hacks to Instantly Increase Facebook Ad Conversions. I'm your host, Rebekah Radice and I am joined by this wonderful group of experts.

Andrew Foxwell joins us. He is the co-founder of Foxwell Digital, where he guides, manages and consults with companies, nonprofits and brands on social media advertising with a specific focus on Facebook and Instagram. Welcome, Andrew.

Andrew Foxwell: Thank you so much, glad to be here.

Rebekah Radice: Okay, so we have people from all around the world and of course, people that are watching us live on YouTube today. I'm in Los Angeles and Stef, you're over in Germany. How are you?

Stefanny: I'm doing well. I'm really happy to be here.

Rebekah Radice: Just a little bit of background on Stefanny. She is the paid advertising manager at Tailwind. With her background in both start-up and corporate marketing and social media, Stef brings just a wealth of experience to her team.

Then, Andrea. Andrea Vahl is a social media consultant and speaker. She is a co-author of Facebook Marketing All In One for Dummies and her newest book is Facebook Ads Made Simple.

She was the community manager for Social Media Examiner for over two years and has appeared in... my goodness, I can't even imagine how many top lists of Facebook ads specialists. Welcome, Andrea.

Andrea Vahl: Thanks so much.

Facebook Advertising Changes 2019

Rebekah Radice: Andrea, I was reading your article and thought it would be a great place to kick us off, reading about all of the Facebook changes that have transpired and brought us to where we are today in 2019. So what do we need to know that has changed, that could quite possibly impact our strategy?

Andrea Vahl: I think the big things are things that have been kind of going on for a little while; the change in image sizes, there's a range of image sizes that you're available to use now. Square images are much more prominent. There are definitely some changes in kind of what's available in pixel tracking, they've got different standard events now that allow you to segment your tracking a little bit more.

Definitely, the other thing that's big is that they're really pushing people into using the business manager. If you are using custom audiences, you have to have the business manager in order to use a custom audience with an email list.  

That's something that a lot of people are nervous about but I always tell people it's actually not a bad thing. Business Manager isn't the devil but it's okay and it's really going to be better for your management and for a team as well.

Rebekah Radice: Yeah, it's funny that you say Business Manager isn't the devil because I definitely hear so much pushback on that on a consistent basis and so it's interesting to see that we're getting that nudge that you definitely have to make a move over that direction. Is there anyone of those updates that's got you pretty excited over another?

Andrea Vahl: Video is the other thing that I didn't quite mention in there too but like I think video is one of the more exciting aspects of Facebook Ads right now. It's not necessarily a change but I think that more and more people are using it. You've got different placements that you're using it in.

There's also a lot more video tools that are coming out that make it easier to create video on a small budget. It used to be you had to hire some videographer, designer, editor person where the tools now are making it really easy to create an eye-catching video.

Rebekah Radice: That's exciting. Would you agree, Stef, that there were definitely limitations in how you could get into ads and quickly and easily use those ads?

Stefanny: Yes definitely, there was a huge learning curve and when I worked privately with a few clients that was always the hesitation about being into Facebook Ads and not really understanding what formats were available and what different placements they should be using. And even how to get good content and create good content for those different types of ads.

There was a lot of coaching involved and now, with just your cellphone, if you have an HD camera on your iPhone, you can quickly just shoot a video and use that on like a Facebook Story or an Instagram Story and that, you can promote yourself and it's a wonderful piece of content that you can use that is an inside look to your business or to whatever service you're offering.

Rebekah Radice: Yeah for sure. Well and Andrew, I know you are working both on the B2B as well as the B2C side with companies on a daily basis, are you seeing any changes in 2019 where one strategy is more effective over the next?

Andrew Foxwell: I think one big one is campaign budget optimization or CBO, which allows you to set a budget at the campaign level and then that budget flows into the ad sets based on performance. There's a ton of nuance around that and a lot of people are seeing pretty good success with that right now, especially as it relates to scale.

But there's also ups and downs of it too, there are some times where it just doesn't work as well for some advertisers that are smaller. It requires a lot of patience to kind of let it suss itself out and see if it's actually going to work.

Another one that people are seeing really good success with this year is, we've seen a consistent amount of daily active user traffic on Instagram Story and prospecting. I think another one that a lot of people are utilizing at this point is value or rolled-out bidding.

It's not entirely rolled out globally or worldwide at this point but that actually allows you under the conversion objective to optimize for the most valuable customers within a certain audience that you're targeting. That's a tactic that a lot of people are using that is really helping to drive conversions and sales.

Along with of course the creative changes, allowing you to go through and utilize Facebook's ad creation tools and things that you didn't have before, allowing you to crop your own videos.

A lot of times the creative stuff is like a roadblock for a lot of people but I think as Andrea said before too, it doesn't have to be. Actually, user-generated content or UGC is like a bigger part of it. I think those are kind of, some of my thoughts of like 2019, what we've seen has been a little bit different.

How Long to Run a Facebook Ad

Rebekah Radice: I love that you touched on patience because I think that is a challenge many, many times where we don't see those instant results so when you talk about patience and when you're really working with a client, what does that look like to you? What is that timeframe?

Andrew Foxwell: Let's just speak about the direct response on Facebook in just the US, Canada, Germany and in what Facebook calls tier one countries that have high-quality users. Generally speaking, the expectation that I said in that sense is if we've never run Facebook Ads before then my goal is to break even in 30 days on return on ads spent, right?

There's a ton of stuff we have to test. There's a lot of creative we have to test and a lot of people think that that's very conservative and many times it is and you'll do better than that. But you have to set that expectation I think when you're working with clients and even if you’re internal at a company, you don't have any idea if you've never done it before.

If you need a 4X return on ads spend immediately, that's going to be a really tough road, right? That's kind of how we start to think about expectations. I think it's crazy that people do have that, they put those expectations on Facebook for a really fast big return, when those expectations may not be on other avenues that they're marketing in.

Rebekah Radice: Yeah and I think those were all such great points, where we're wanting to jump so fast from A to Z. At what stage within those 30 days, so if I'm let's say B2B and I've come to you and we're talking about that 30-day ad strategy, kind of walk me through from beginning to end what that process looks like, both from talking through copy to design.

Setting up an Effective Facebook Ad Campaign

What do people need to be prepared for as they're considering increasing their ads spend or really worrying about what their Facebook marketing outcome or results are going to look like?

Andrew Foxwell: What it looks like is number one, just establishing, as Andrea alluded to, what are your goals? What are the numbers that you need to hit, that you believe are actually reasonable? These are things like click-through rate, cost per landing page view, return on ads spend, cost per acquisition et cetera, click-through rate like site conversion rate.

Once you've established the numbers, then it comes to how long do I need to let things run? Generally speaking, depending on how you have your ads account built, you’re going to have a pretty good idea of things after they've been running for let's just say three to seven days.

Some people will want it to run for seven days, some people will get impatient after three but like that's generally what you're kind of looking at and then it's a matter of sitting down and saying, "Okay, as I design this, how am I speaking to the different segments of my audience? How am I talking to them?”

Not everybody is going to respond to the same offer, right, so what are the ways you're going to describe your product? What are the ways that you're going to talk about the service that you offer et cetera? Utilizing what is known as horizontal scaling, which is trying to build your account to reach and talk to a lot of different people, versus just vertical scaling which is increasing the budget.

As you kind of go through that optimization process, you can look at that after you've established your numbers and say, "Okay, this doesn't seem to be hitting, what's another thing I can do to optimize this?" A lot of it tends to be around audience but...the number one thing is creative.

Rebekah Radice: Stef, would you add anything to that?

Stefanny: One of the rules of thumb that I have whenever I'm setting up new campaigns, regardless of the number of audiences that I have, I want a big mix of different types of creative that I can just start off and then optimize based on which one is going to be my top performer. I would even say that whenever I'm launching a campaign, I look to have at least 10 to 20 different pieces of creative mixes of copy to add in and launch all of those.

It's so important to have that and to be able to tweak from that versus starting off with one piece of creative and not being able to then utilize the different mixes and change them based on your different audiences that you're going to start bringing into the campaigns.

Rebekah Radice: We have several questions coming in... Matt asks, what would you recommend be the minimum amount of time to run a Facebook Ad campaign?

Andrea Vahl: Andrew did a great job and I usually use the same, three to seven days, you've got a good clue but there are other things that you need to watch as keys that might give you some clues on how that ad is doing. Things like click-through rate which would then indicate, is that ad interesting to those people?

How long are they spending on your landing page? Is there something going wrong there with the experience? You got to watch some of the clues and kind of put yourself in the shoes of who you are targeting that ad to.

Definitely, there is a learning phase for the ads like Andrew had mentioned too and you need to let that settle. because a lot of times I'll see the price spike up on certain things and then it kind of settles back down after that three to the seven-day timeframe and it can depend a little bit on the budget as well.

Are people even commenting? People are tagging each other. They get a lot of shares so if you're not getting that, I would kind of try and investigate, maybe pull another test up and see if you can change those results.

Rebekah Radice: Yeah, I was going to ask if those were ads that you were running and if you had any insight on that as well.

Stefanny: Yeah, yeah. Actually, we are running some ads like that and one of the things is the initial set up can sometimes be a hang-up for a lot of people and I mean myself included, sometimes different types of ads and objectives don't optimize, Facebook will optimize them for different results.

Maybe even backtrack it further to see what did I really set this up for? Was it for an actual completed registration or was it just traffic to my site or was it a video? And then people are just viewing it and dropping off but not really furthering in action. That's another potential factor that we tend to forget.

How to Determine a Facebook Ad Budget

Rebekah Radice: Great point. Do you have a recommendation on how to calculate an appropriate budget for a client?

Andrew Foxwell: If you're saying, "Look, I don't really know what I need to budget," and you've not really done it before, then you can assign a number and say look my gross margin is X so I think that if we can get a sale for $20 on a $50 product then let's take $20 and let's try that in two different ad sets, maybe a prospecting ad set to bring new customers and a remarketing ad set and let's assign that $50 a day and let's see what happens, right?

Start with what you're comfortable with but know that you want that ad set budget to be at least even with what your CPA goal is so you can get some conversions through there.

Rebekah Radice: Sterling asks, do mere mortals use the Facebook ad manager and can they actually succeed or do they need to hire somebody?

Andrea Vahl: That's a great question because ... it has become more complicated and you can make big mistakes that will essentially waste your money. Definitely, mere mortals can use Facebook ads with success but you need to make sure you understand the settings and you understand like the different options that are available and it's challenging because it's a moving target, right? They're always adding in new things.

Have a place where you can ask questions and keep up with some of the changes but definitely, the other question that comes into play is can you be successful with a small budget? Absolutely, there are a lot of my clients who have very small budgets and are still getting good return on their investment just by being super smart with limiting the number of tests they have, really focusing in and doing kind of analysis on what's really working and just kind of continuing to iterate when they have the next monthly budget kind of thing.

Rebekah Radice: When you talk about a small budget, what number comes to mind?

Andrea Vahl: If you're really smart and picking the right types of strategies to do things like grow your email list and using maybe whatever seed audiences you can to kind of target those best potential customers, then you can do really well with $100, $500.

Rebekah Radice: Well, and I know we talked a little bit about landing pages and where are we directing that traffic, where are we sending people and Lauren asks, do you recommend creating specific landing pages for segmented audiences to land on?

Stefanny: I would definitely say yes. I have found that the results that I get from a very generic landing page versus a very targeted landing page with messaging that's tailored to a particular audience group, the segmented one blows the other one out of the water.

It's simple changes, like changing headlines, maybe an image that speaks and resonates more to that audience and will really make a difference.

How to Optimize Landing Pages for Conversions

Rebekah Radice: Are there best practices in how to optimize maybe one or two landing pages for conversions?

Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, I mean, I think that there's a couple of different things. One is instead of testing them simultaneously, test them in cadence. Test one landing page with one ad over a couple of days and then try that and then pause it and try another one over another couple days.

With small budgets, if you're testing them next to each other or in parallel within the same ad set or even in different ad sets, that's going to create some challenges as it relates to kind of understanding the results. There are tools like Hotjar or Crazyegg that allow you to basically see what people are doing on your site.

You don't get to see their name or anything but you can watch their session and it's anonymous and that's really helpful because you get an idea of where they're dropping off, right? They're easy to install. It's just some code.

Rebekah Radice: Yeah. Scott Greer asks, if you guys have any favorite landing page tools that you're using specifically for Facebook ads, so building out landing pages I believe it's what they're asking.

Andrea Vahl: Yes, so I've used Leadpages in the past. If you're doing webinars ... things like WebinarJam or Demio or ClickMeeting are all good options that have tracking capabilities as well and what you really want to look for in any landing page is the ability to have the Facebook pixel in there somehow.  

Also, make sure that you've got that tracking on the thank you page as well or wherever you're sending that traffic.

Rebekah Radice: Anybody else has any other tool suggestions?

Stefanny: Recently I've been using Unbounce which I think is pretty great especially if you're newer to landing pages and you're going to try to handle the do-it-yourself kind of marketing.

Targeting Influencer Audiences with Facebook Ads

Rebekah Radice: Sterling asks, should I target my ads to super influencer audiences, existing audiences of 500,000 to 10 million people on a particular topic of interest? Is this something any of you have worked within and found successful?

Andrew Foxwell: Since the topic of our webinar is how to increase your conversions I think utilizing larger audiences at this point is helpful...because they offer more scale and they're going to reach more people.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah. I mean, say, you're going to target Garyvee's audience just to use him as a kind of super influencer, you can definitely target Garyvee as an interest keyword but you have to test it because I found that it's product by product, company by company on how well that responds to that particular thing that you're offering.

Rebekah Radice: Yeah, definitely.

Stefanny: As you're adding in new audiences, just to kind of reiterate with the testing, if your audience is almost very closely matched so, for example, Garyvee, if they're kind of the same type of people that are responding to that, sometimes there's a bit of a competition that happens. Finding things that might match up too well sometimes can cause a little bit of competition happening. There are also instances where you just find similar audiences and that might work a little bit better so just playing around with what you would think that interest this would be.

Rebekah Radice: From a business owner's perspective, we know that there's a lot of people spending time on Facebook. They're scrolling through their feed and they're not necessarily ready to buy. They're not ready to pull that trigger right then and there.

Build a Full-funnel Facebook Ads Strategy

How can you nurture, how can you use Facebook Ads more on that front end from that awareness level and then also down into the nurture level to really build that relationship to create rapport so that you are able then to turn those looky-loos into buyers?

Andrew Foxwell: I audited over 200 accounts last year, 200 Facebook and Instagram ad accounts. I would say 90% of them didn't have any sort of middle funnel built out. What I mean by that is those that have expressed some sort of interest in your product, that could be something like an engaged custom audience so those that have engaged with your Instagram and Facebook content.

That could be utilizing a larger remarketing window so looking at something like a top 25% website custom audience which takes the top quartile of users in the last 180 days and then you can exclude your 30-day.

Sort of capturing those middle funnel audiences is a great way to increase conversions because there's a lot of ways that they're looking in but they might not kind of come back. You kind of have to move them along per se because the old model of just sending people to a site and assuming they're ready to buy immediately isn't necessarily the case anymore. That's a big part of it as you can start to capture and nurture.

I think a lot of it as well is thinking about the creative differentiation between the top, the middle and the bottom of the funnel. Understanding that at the top it's really about getting them hooked. “What is that, I'm going to just check that out”.

Looking at the middle funnel, it's a lot around product benefits, a lot around user-generated reviews and trust and building, kind of that conversation. The bottom of the funnel is very much around the conversion so can you offer them a discount code? Can you offer them some sort of previous experience to go off of that? That's kind of the way that I think about building that out a little bit more in terms of looking full funnel at your audience.

Rebekah Radice: We have a lot of questions here that are pouring in. Camille asks, if my remarketing list is too narrow would you recommend using similar audiences?

Andrea Vahl: I don't know what size you consider is too narrow but like that can be very much of a problem when people are just starting out, that they haven't had a lot of traffic to their site, maybe they're trying to remarket to a very narrow audience and you can't scale that budget up very much.

Use that audience but just make sure that your budget is appropriate because I've seen people just burn the audience out with 10 times frequency and then, they're like, "Oh my remarketing audience didn't work." I'm like, no, ... they got sick of you.

Use that audience for sure but make sure that your budget is appropriately scaled so I try not to go over a potential reach of more than half of that audience for sure. Don't think that a lookalike audience is going to be a perfect place to do your sales ads because a look-alike is still going to be a cold audience for you.

Rebekah Radice: This is an interesting question from Nicole Jennings that I have a feeling you're all going to have rather strong opinions on. What do you think about the sites that are out there where you can buy audiences? Have you used them? Have you found success? Would you recommend?

Andrew Foxwell: Facebook makes it clear that that's illegal. Unless you buy the list from a data broker and you're able to upload that list, that's still kind of frowned upon within Facebook's world. I would just not do that at all, frankly. I just don't think it's worth your time or how close it puts you to potentially having your ad account banned.

I think you'd be better off utilizing interests and going that way and slowly building up your audience to be able to create your own look-alikes and things like that. I would just stay away from it entirely.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah, I mean the thing is, I've known people who've done it. It is like Andrew said, it's against Facebook's Terms. and I've had people who've done it and haven't had great results because a lot of times those purchase lists are just kind of junk lists. Are they really going to be your customers? Probably not so just spend your money on building your own audience and do it right from the start.

Rebekah Radice: Yeah. We've got several more questions. Jennifer Yang asks, she was having delivery issues. She said when she switched from TC to LC bid strategy, got more delivery but now the CPA is rising. She's wondering if she should switch back and try to lower the CPA or if you have any thoughts on where she should head.

Andrew Foxwell: I mean, first of all, if you're trying to do conversions and you're worried about a CPA, you shouldn't be optimizing for traffic at all at that point. You should be optimizing for whatever the end event is that you want.

I would say most of the time, you would want to be optimizing for purchase and then you'd want to be bidding for conversions. She's talking about two different things. There are ways that you can optimize for a purchase and then bid for a view content or for link clicks.

Many times you'll see the results on that are mismatched and it messes with the Facebook algorithm because what you're saying is, in the end, I want to purchase but in reality, I really want to only pay for the view content or the link click.

A view content is a full page load versus a link click is just somebody clicking. You always want to try to go for what your end goal is and optimize that way. But if it's new, you can optimize for things further up the funnel, so you can optimize for an “add to cart” event under a conversion objective and then optimize for conversions as the bid option as well. Optimizing for traffic is generally going to bring you less quality people which makes sense why your CPA is rising.

Andrea Vahl: I've had clients where we've optimized around Add to Cart until we get enough purchases and then we switched to purchases and it just is much better. The good thing I think is a lot of times the default things that Facebook have in the optimization part are good to go with. Not all the settings are good but in the optimization and bidding section, those are often the best default things to use.

How Nonprofits Can Use Facebook Ads

Rebekah Radice: That's a really great point. Okay so let's see here, can you speak from the nonprofit side? What are some things nonprofits can do to market on social media using ads?

Andrew Foxwell: I think the first one that's a very low hanging fruit is the opportunity to take your previous donor list and create a look-alike audience of that list so that's a big one.

Also being able to create a custom audience of that list and remarket to them. A lot of it in the nonprofit world is we don't spend enough time thinking about the value that we as the nonprofit are driving for the person that you're trying to talk to. I mean you say like this, support us today and keep our mission going.

If you understand the emotional side of it and what you're trying to get across of what you actually push forward, that can absolutely help in the way that you're building it out for a non-profit. I think another one is giving people a range of opportunities so maybe they don't want to donate a lot but donating a dollar a month is a big thing and you can just start there.

I mean the cool new thing that just came out of course is now there's a donate button on Instagram Stories which allows you to donate right from an Instagram story for nonprofits.

Facebooks Ads on a Small Budget

Rebekah Radice: I'll go to one last question here... for smaller businesses with smaller budgets, they were asking specifically just spending $5 per day on a campaign, is it still advised to use multiple creatives or would this spread the ads too thin? Does anybody want to take that one?

Andrea Vahl: That's a good question because I think it depends on how long you're running those ads too because to make a decision on which ad is the winner for you, you have to have significant results, right? I think it's always good to try at least two different things if you can.

I think you also maybe want to test that in a more of a sequence and say let's test this one for two weeks at $5 a day and let's test another one at $5 a day for two weeks. It can depend a little bit on how you set that up too because yeah, that's my thought. I don't know if anyone has any other thoughts on that.

Rebekah Radice: Stef or Andrew, anything to add?

Stefanny: If you have one ad set and one or two pieces of creative, I mean I would say $5 a day would be okay but if you have five ad sets with two pieces of creative, then you have about like 10 and then just increase it, increase it but you're not changing your budget. Now, you're really, really spreading yourself out then.

Andrew Foxwell: Just getting back to the core of what this webinar is about, I think that there are a number of different things that you can do right now to try to increase conversions. I think it's understanding your budgets, what your goals are and then testing things like larger audiences. Testing things like splitting out interests, Trying out Instagram Stories on its own. Thinking about the way that you're bidding.

Rebekah Radice: Test and iterate, really understand what's working for your business because it could be that what worked yesterday no longer works today. All right. Well, thank you to all of you for being here with us for SEMrush's social chat.

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