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How to Optimise Your Facebook Ads for Conversions

image for Facebook ad post

Let us start with a few assumptions. You have created an ad campaign, an ad set. and an ad. The ad itself has:

  • A compelling headline that attracts immediate attention.
  • An attractive and colourful image.
  • Clear ad copy that is relevant to your advertising objective.

Fail these requirements and conversion optimization becomes meaningless because the ad will not attract attention.

In addition:

  • You are familiar with the Facebook Ads Manager or the Power Editor; also with Facebook Lookalike and Custom audiences.
  • You have configured and installed a pixel on your website.
  • Your Call-to-Action button directs people into your sales funnel, typically a lead magnet with a special offer (landing page).
  • You appreciate that conversions happen at a slower pace than other ad objective like impressions and clicks. This is obvious because a conversion takes the visitor to the end of your sales funnel.

On this foundation, we can discuss conversion optimisation.

This article combines advertising principles published by Facebook, ad agency experts, and our personal experience with Facebook advertising.

Facebook in profile

Zephoria Digital Marketing published the following statistical data in a report released March, 2017.

  • Facebook has 1.86 billion users, 307 million of which live in Europe.
  • Every day, 1.15 billion users access Facebook on a mobile device.
  • The 25-34 age group is the largest demographic age group and makes up 29.7% of users.
  • 76% of users are female, 66% male.
  • The average time users spend on Facebook is 20 minutes.

According to CNBC, the Facebook user base of 1,86 billion compares to 500 mill for WhatsApp, 24 mill for Twitter, and 200 mill for Instagram.

Moz.com considers Facebook advertising more cost effective than Google Adwords but do not recommend Facebook advertising for B2B companies.

Planning your conversion campaign

To view conversion rates in perspective, you need to consider reach, CTR, the conversion event and the audience. Without reach and CTR, nothing converts.

To select your conversion event, you need to step back from the advertising campaign and look at your sales funnel.

To attract visitors into your sales funnel, select a conversion event that is at the top of the funnel. The best option is an opt-in to your mailing list, initiated by a free offer and a well-crafted landing page.

A conversion event like a Purchase or Add to Cart is at the bottom of your sales funnel.

sales funnel image

 

Avoid linking your ad directly to a sales page. The CTR of direct-response ads has declined dramatically over the last decade.  Marketers use intermediate steps to attract customer into their sales funnel. This might be a lead magnet, a catalogue, a blog post, or an opt-in page that links to the sales page.

Other planning issues include:

  • Use split ads if you target multiple audiences and submit different bids for each of them.
  • Decide if you will use average-cost or maximum-cost
  • Focus on mobile display ads because about 70% of users now access Facebook on a mobile device

Let’s look at these issues in some detail.
 
Split testing
Seasoned advertisers split test different versions of their ad, including.:

  • Audience receptiveness.
  • Headlines, ad images, and ad copy.
  • Different conversion events.

Image source: Facebook

Facebook ad split testing illustration

 

Cost bidding

Use average cost to maximize delivery and conversion but recognise that a low bid limits the ad delivery and has the opposite effect. The following image illustrates a typical cost distribution.

Image source: Facebook

FB ad cist distribution

Use maximum cost to specify the maximum amount you want to pay per conversion. Facebook recommends a higher budget for max cost bidding. This enables them to sample daily conversions and refine the ad delivery.

See Facebook Business for more details about average and maximum cost bidding.

Mobile users

The following image illustrates the exponential rise in the use of mobile devices. It also illustrates why you need to incorporate mobile ads in your campaign.

Image source: Facebook

Optimising your conversion campaign

Conversion optimisation needs to consider issues like your ad objective, conversion event, conversion window, campaign targeting and retargeting.
 
Ad objective
For a conversion campaign, select the Increase conversions objective.


Conversion Event
To set up a conversion event, select Ad Set > Conversions in the Ads Manager.

On the screen shown below, select Set Up Conversions.

Select either Track Conversions with Standard Events or Track Custom Conversions as the tracking method for your campaign.

image conversion tracking

Select Track Conversions with Standard Events on the screen shown above.

The following screen shows the 9 standard events. They include: 1) View Content, 2) Search, 3) Add to Cart, 4) Add to Wish List, 5) Initiate Checkout, 6) Add Payment Info, 7) Purchase, 8) Lead, and 9) Complete Registration.

To use one of these events, you must add a code snippet to the Facebook pixel code. The screen below shows the code snippets for each separate event. Paste the snippet at the end of the pixel code.

FB ad sxcreen for conversion tracking

Use standard events to optimize your campaign for conversions, to track conversions, and to build audiences.

Refer to Facebook Business for more information about conversion events and how to use them.
 
Custom conversions
To fine-tune your conversion campaign, this is where it gets really interesting.

From the Set Up Conversion Tracking screen shown above, select Track Custom Conversions.

You can track specific website pages that somebody visits. Do this by selecting one of the following options on this screen: 1) URL equals, or 2) URL contains.

The question is how to turn custom conversions into an advantage ?

We suggest that you create webpages whose URL includes a category label. For example, assign URLs for the all webpages that relate to training course in the format http://yourdomain.com/training/thank-you.php (or html).

In the URL contains field, enter training/thankyou.php as shown in the following image. The system now tracks any visit to this page as a custom conversion.

If you select the URL equals option, enter the complete URL for the webpage you wish to track.

FB ad screen conversion

In the Choose a Category drop-down menu, select the category that resembles the event you track. This helps Facebook deliver the ad to people most likely to respond.

TIP

If you select to Track Conversions with Standard Events, you must add a code snipped to the Facebook pixel. However, if you select Custom Conversion, you need not modify the pixel. Instead, you use the URL contains or URL equals options.

The Facebook pixel

This article assumes that you have installed your Facebook pixel.  If not, visit the following URL: https://www.facebook.com/business/help/952192354843755
 
Checking your pixel
To check that your pixel is working, visit a webpage on which the pixel is installed. You may want to repeat this for every page on which the pixel is installed.

Visit the Facebook Pixel page in the Ads Manager and verify that your activity has been captured. The default view is traffic over the past seven days but you can modify this setting.

To check for accurate reporting, compare the total traffic number on the pixel page with total number of website visits reported in your analytics program.

For more information, visit the Facebook Business page for troubleshooting the following topics:

  • Pixel and event implementation
  • Custom conversions
  • Ad performance

Conversion Window

This window has two parameters:

  • A time period
  • An Action such as click or view

These parameters define an action that occurs within a specified time interval. In Facebook jargon, it may be “a 7-day post-click window”. In plain language, this means a conversion that happens within 7 days after somebody clicks on the ad.

The cost of the product or service you sell affects the time period you should set for your conversion window. Customers need a longer conversion time when buying a high-cost item like a car.

Set your conversion window to attract a minimum of 15-25 conversions per week. The ideal number is 50-100 conversions. Facebook uses these conversions as statistical data to determine to whom they show your ad. They cannot use conversion data that happen outside the conversion window for this purpose.

Targeting

The main Facebook targeting options include:

  • Audience selection including Lookalike and Custom Audiences
  • Location
  • Interests
  • Behaviours
  • Demographics
  • Reach

Facebook recommends broad targeting. They trust their system to select the right audience from a large pool of people. However, they stress that audience quality is more important than size.

Audience selection

Audience selection comes in three categories:

  • Core Audience. Configure this audience based on demographic data like age, sex, location, interests, and behaviours. The Audience Insights on your Facebook business page shows your current Core Audience.
  • Custom Audience. Upload your own customer contact list.
  • Lookalike Audience. The Facebook pixel finds people who have visited your website. Configure the pixel to capture people who have completed the conversion event (action) that your campaign targets.

Facebook recommends a Lookalike audience as the best targeting option for a conversion campaign. However, there’s an important caveat. You cannot create a lookalike audience unless your website has traffic.  A Lookalike audience should be based on a sample size of 1,000 – 50,000 people.

Return to the ad set section and check the option box “Expand interests when it may increase conversions at a lower cost per conversion” if your conversion rate is unsatisfactory.

To create a Lookalike Audience, select Create a Lookalike Audience in the Audience section of the Ads Manager.

Facebook screen for audience selection

On the following screen, enter or select the following options:

  1. The country or countries where you would like to look for an audience similar to the Custom Audience you specify as the source..
  2. The Custom Audience that the Lookalike Audience will closely mirror.
  3. Number of Lookalike Audiences to create.
  4. The preferred audience size.

FB ad screen lookalike audinece

 

The Custom Audience source you specify can be your pixel data, fans of your Facebook business page, or your mobile app data.

The source should be 1,000 to 50,000 in size.

In the Audience section of the Ads Manager of Power Editor, select the Lookalike Audience as your target.

Other targeting options

You can also analyse, extract and use the following targets:

  • Unopened emails
  • Webinar registration emails

Retargeting

To retarget, you must first create a Custom Audience.

In the Audience section of the Ads Manager, select Create Audience > Custom Audience.

Select the source from which you want to create the audience. The most likely option is Website Traffic.

Select the website traffic option or website traffic in the last “x” number of days.

The traffic options include:

  • Anyone who visits your website.
  • People who visit specific web pages.
  • People who visit specific webpages but not others.
  • People who haven’t visited in a certain period of time.

You can also select Custom Combinations.

With you audience created, you simply target your campaign to the newly created Custom Audience.

Measuring results

Let’s identify three processes for measuring results. The first one is the “quick & easy” way to check performance at the Ad Set level.
Analysing ad performance
The three common “hurdles” in any advertising campaign are: 1) Reach, 2) Clicks and Link Clicks, and 3) Conversion.

  • Reach. This answers the question “are people seeing my ad”. In the Ads Manager, select Campaign Name > Ad Set. For each ad listed, there’s a column titled Reach. If unsatisfactory, look at the budget and the audience size.
  • Clicks and Link Clicks. At the Ads level of the Ads Manager, select Performance and Clicks. Clicks means that somebody clicked on the ad; Link Clicks shows the number of people who clicked the link button to your Landing Page. A small number of clicks tells you that the ad is ineffective and fails to attract attention; a small number of Link Clicks tells you that the ad copy does not motivate people to click the Link button to your Landing Page.
  • Conversion. Analyse the Landing Page if people click through but decline your offer. There could be any number of reasons why it fails. Make sure your Landing Page copy is clear and persuasive and that you tell people exactly what you want them to do.

Facebook performance reports
You need to understand the Facebook Attribution Window.

The Attribution Window defines how Facebook tracks and reports conversions and has a default setting of “one day post ad view, and a 28-day click window”. It reports conversions if: 1) A conversion happens one day after somebody viewed the ad, or 2) Up to 28 days after somebody clicked the ad. Conversions that happen outside your attribution window do not show up in the report.

The Attribution Window enables you to view actions taken in response to your ad during a particular time period. Set the window to 1-day, 7-day, or 280-day time periods to suit our requirements.

Facebook recommends that that Attribution Window setting should include both view-through and click-through events.

Follow these steps to configure your Attribution Window.

In Ads Manager

  1. Select All Campaigns, All Ad Sets, or All Ads.
  2. Select the Columns drop-down menu.
  3. Select Customize Columns.
  4. Select Change Attribution Window.

In Power Editor

  1. Select Ads Reporting.
  2. Select an existing report, or select Create Report for a new report.
  3. Select the Columns drop-down menu.
  4. Select Change Attribution Window.
  5. Modify settings to your preference.
  6. Select Apply.

Calculating Ad ROI

The Facebook Ads Manager and Power Editor gives you critical information like: 1) Conversions, 2) Conversion value, and 3) Cost per conversion.

Provided you know how much you earn for each conversion, you can now calculate your ROI. You are looking for a conversion value that exceeds the Cost per Acquisition (CPA).

If your conversion rate is unsatisfactory, consider optimising you ad for impressions or reach instead.

Summary

To clarify issues not covered in this article, refer to Facebook Business articles, or use your browser search function to find additional information.

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