The 60% of Facebook ads you should ignore

When you create a new Facebook ad – the first decision you make is an important one – choosing an objective.

But what does choosing an objective actually do?

I speak with a lot of business owners, and audit a lot of their FB ads accounts, and I get the feeling from these conversations – that this is a misunderstood area of FB ads.

Basically – the objective does two things: It determines which people in your audience will be shown your ads first/at all. And it decides the metrics you are shown.

And the fact that Facebook gives you so many options doesn’t help people.

There are 13 different objectives you can choose when creating an ad, but 8 of those (61%) are probably pointless for you.

What Facebook is actually doing when you choose an objective, is taking the audience that you’ve specified, and thinking “Of these people, who are the most likely to complete this objective?” –

so if you use PPE, then Facebook will prioritise the people who generally comment on stuff,
or if you choose video views then it will be those people who watch lots of video on their news feed.

So if you’ve defined an audience of say 760’000 people by selected certain areas/interests/age ranges – and then you choose the conversion objective – Facebook is going to put all those people in order from 1 through to 760’000 of who is the most likely to click through and then do the thing you want them to do – based on their historical actions.

You can test this by choosing to click every ad you see with a [Message Now] button. You will then be seen as ‘someone likely to click [message now] and be shown more and more of those types of ads.

For most small businesses, you should probably only ever use one of these 5 objectives:

    1. Traffic – Use this when you’re sending people to your website but don’t have an action for them to do when they get there – I.e. promoting a blog post/ press release/ new thing you’re doing.

    1. Conversions – Use this when you want to send someone to your website AND have them do an action – i.e. getting them to buy something, sign up for an event, or download your awesome guide.

    1. Page Post Engagement (PPE) (This is the same as boosting a post) – Use these when you want to get comments/likes/shares on a post – i.e. content that doesn’t require an action/ for a competition/ getting people to tag their friends. These are also great when you have a messenger bot setup, triggered by a comment.

    1. Video views – If you’re building an audience of people to retarget, then video is likely to be the cheapest route, because you can track anyone who watches 3 seconds or more of your video. Also if you want to get cheap awareness of something that doesn’t include a direct action you want someone to take.

  1. Lead Generation (Lead Forms) – These seem undervalued by many advertisers, probably because getting the leads from the form into anywhere useful like your CRM, isn’t as easy as it should be* – but if you want to get people to sign up for something, or give you their details, and you they are already qualified, then Lead forms work great. For local businesses, especially in the UK – Lead forms consistently get me the best results.  * Use Zapier to easily get the info people fill in sent to your email/phone instantly.

If you are promoting an event, or getting people to sign up for an app – then there are specific objectives for those – but 90% of businesses never need stray from the above 5.

A consideration to make is that if you have any kind of funnel in place, then you’re likely going to combine different objectives.

A typical funnel is going to be made up of something like this:

>> Top Of Funnel – Building an audience of people interested in what you do – Video views ads, Traffic ads or Page Post Engagement ads talking about either the pain points that your product solves, or introducing them to your products.

>> Middle Of Funnel – Pushing those people who engaged in the TOF to sign up/buy from you. – Using Conversion ads or Lead Forms to Get People to buy/download/sign up.

>>Bottom Of Funnel – Retargeting the people who clicked the MOF ads, but didn’t cross the line, maybe using incentives/discounts/social proof/urgency to persuade them to pull the trigger. – These would likely be Conversion ads or Lead Forms again
Some other tips:

    • Sometimes using PPE ads can get you cheaper clicks than just using straight traffic ads – this is because the amount of social proof that builds up from the comments shows Facebook that the post is relevant, thus driving down the cost of showing it to more people.

  • However, this tactic isn’t working as well as it was 2 years ago – so what i now recommend is splitting your budget so maybe 20% goes to PPE, and 80% goes to traffic.

Here are extracts from Audits I’ve done on clients ad accounts in the past few months to show some real life examples of how to best use objectives:

Ecomm business –

[They were running conversion ads, but all their ads were just ‘Look at these, buy them’ type ads. They weren’t testing other approaches]

“You are all set up fine for conversions, but it’s worth testing other objectives and post types for the Top Of Funnel ads, try videos and blog posts.”

SEO service business –

[They were putting out solid regular content and boosting it to a specific saved audience that had set up]

“For most of what you’re doing, boosting posts and driving traffic to your blog, there’s no problem here.

But if you apply a funnel/strategy as I outlined (which will help take people from “huh, that’s interesting, these folks know their stuff” to “maybe we should get in touch and see if these guys can help us rank higher”), then you’re going to want to start using conversion ads more, as you’ll be driving people to take specific actions, and these are what you want to measure.”

Wellness Coaching

[Proper scattergun stuff, she seemed to choose a different objective for every campaign]

“You’re using a mix of different objectives, and they’re not helping you.

If you’re sending someone to your website for any reason other than reading a blog post, you want to use the conversion objective, this will track people who go to your site and then do the action you want (i.e. sign up for a guide).

Using post engagement (boost) is a perfectly good strategy as part of a larger effort, so that’s all good if you then retarget the folks who engage.

Using reach is unlikely to ever be the best objective for you.”

B2B Saas / consulting

[They were putting out good content and boosting it, then retargeting people with an ad for a webinar where they sold them on the software]

“For the blog posts, I would test running a Page Post Engagement ad alongside a Traffic objective, this might get cheaper clicks on it’s own, but the social proof of seeing likes/comments will most likely enhance the click-through-rate and cost per click of the Traffic campaign.

For the webinar/ zoom call ads – is there a confirmation page that people are sent to once they register?

If so, you want to be using a Conversion objective, pointing to that page, rather than Traffic.”

Personal Trainer
[Promoting various services, getting people to opt-in for in-person training & group classes]

“You use a combination of conversion ads, lead ads, and boosted posts -there’s nothing wrong with that combination, though I can see your best results are coming from lead forms (this has been my experience with other similar campaigns too), so I would stick with those for most campaigns.”

Charity

[They had multiple campaigns for the various services they offered, all set up as traffic ads pointing to their website homepage]

“As mentioned earlier, I expect that using content to warm up your audience before going for the ‘sale’ could be worth testing, in which case getting link clicks wouldn’t be the aim.

But even if the best strategy does turn out to be going straight for the sell, the ads are setup with the ‘traffic’ objective, which isn’t the best route.

You should either be using the ‘conversions’ objective (which means that Facebook will optimising the campaigns to get the people most likely to fill out your contact form once they get to the page, rather than just click),

or the ‘Lead Generation’ objective, which uses a small built-in form right on the Facebook news Feed, and typically gets lower costs per lead.”

Driving Instructor Training

[He was using a variety of ad types to get people to download his book]

“This is a mix, you have setup ads previously with a custom conversion set up (“book request”), but other times you haven’t. I would always recommend using conversion ads in place of link clicks – especially if you are leaving them running for any length of time, because Facebook will always optimise towards the objective you set. If you are pushing content first, as I recommended above [taking sections of the book and using them as content], then using the page post engagement objective is likely best.”

B2B Events
[They were running traffic ads to an EventBrite page for their event]

“For the events – you’re linking to EventBrite, which is OK – but there is actually native functionality with Evernote built into Facebook, meaning you can get use the event promote objective, get eventbrite signups directly on FB, without having to send people off Facebook.”

Influencer/Affiliate

[They ran a LOT of ads for big clients, where they linked to clients websites. They only ever used the Page Post Engagement objective]

“Running these ads purely as PPE is clearly not a terrible idea, as seen by your results, and indeed a couple of years ago it was often the best producing objective.However, the algorithm has changed, and not having your campaigns optimised for traffic is going to cost you conversions.For what you’re doing, traffic campaigns optimised for link clicks and landing page views is the go-to campaign.However, in your case, I would combine the two so as to match the cost at optimal performance. This is done by running traffic campaigns using the same post IDs. Set PPE at around 20% of the traffic campaign’s daily ad budget. This means you’re still getting the social proof, but at the same time letting FB’s algorithm work for you.”

Hope that’s helpful, and clears up any confusion about how to set your ads up – let me know if you have any questions.

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