Social media advertising is reigning supreme, and at the front of the pack is Facebook.
With an estimated 2.8 billion monthly active users, Facebook is still the number one social media platform on the planet. For some quick maths, that’s around 35% of the world’s population on a social media platform.
With a reach like that, it’s no surprise that advertising on Facebook is one of the best things you can do for your brand.
So, how do you jump on the Facebook ad train and make sure it works for you?
Well, like all marketing and advertising, there is an art to it. You can’t just promote a post and expect the customers to come knocking.
It’s absolutely essential that all marketers should have a deep understanding of how to make Facebook ads work for them. From small start-ups to global empires, it’s all the same advice: it’s not the ads that make you money, it’s how you use ads that does. Your strategy is what will you money.
So, what is the best way to create ads on Facebook?
To help you get an idea of what might work for your brand, we’ve asked 15 successful Facebook ad users – from all kinds of industries and niches – for their advice and how they grew their business.
We asked them:
- What’s the number one thing you wish you’d known about running ads successfully on Facebook?
- How have Facebook ads helped your business to grow?
- What advice would you have for others?
We hope you thoroughly enjoy their inspiring responses and nuggets of wisdom as much as we did, as each person gives their unique take on this elusive subject.
How Facebook Ads Can Power Up Your Business
Nick Shackelford, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Structured
In 2016 I began buying clicks on Facebook.
As a Facebook-specific company, Facebook is everything to us. It has provided us the opportunity to help over 100 brands in a short period of time.
The one thing I wish I’d known before starting was that I understood the importance of content rotation and various campaign structures within Facebook’s Ads Manager. Facebook is only as good as the user. It is a tool used to acquire new customers and it is up to the brands or business owners to understand the reasons why a consumer will purchase or opt-in.
Understanding the message we are trying to convey is almost as important as the buttons and levers you can play within Facebook.
Lauren Swidenbank, Founder & Advertising Expert of Cali Social
I began my journey with Facebook ads and launched Cali Social in 2018.
There are three areas to Facebook advertising success which I’ve learned and perfected: understanding your audience, creating and nurturing them through a funnel, and interpreting data to make your next big move.
Understanding your audience is crucial when running Facebook ads, getting into their head and really understanding what makes them tick, how they spend, interact and purchase – by defining, refining, and targeting you’ll be able to convert the right people and have success advertising online.
Secondly, creating a funnel to nurture your audience through the entire journey, not just the outcome, but the experience they go through will add more value to not just your campaigns, but also your audience, providing value at each touchpoint and nurturing them through the journey. Focus on the experience, not just the destination.
Thirdly, and my personal favorite, being able to understand and interpret the data behind your campaigns is imperative to your success, to plan your next move, and to ensure you’re getting the best result and return on your ad spend.
Through Facebook ads, I’ve not only executed and generated significant sales results for my clients but successfully scaled and impacted their business in a big way. Online advertising is absolutely crucial for business growth in 2020 and beyond.
The biggest challenge in Facebook advertising is knowing when to scale and by how much. Even as an advertising expert, there is still an element of trust and risk that goes into these decisions, monitoring the data closely and understanding the conversions and interpreting the data (which will guide us towards these decisions, helping us to determine what’s next). You’ll learn to feel confident in your decision and understand your campaigns enough to know when to take them up a notch. This is something that comes with practice and will become easier over time.
If you’re an E-commerce brand and new to advertising on Facebook, unsure of where to start, I’d suggest a collection campaign that opens up to an ‘instant experience.’ This means you can showcase all your products together to give the user more choice, a lightning-fast loading time, an enhanced brand experience that quickly captures their interest and engagement to inspire action.
Gabrielle Pickens, Founder of Mindful Military
Facebook Ads only highlight the systems and processes you have in place.
This means that in order to reap the full benefits of this powerful system, the digital marketing team must understand the customer’s demographics and psychographics in order to create funnels that make sense.
My advice for budding entrepreneurs would be to take your time!
This is a process. Contrary to popular belief, learning the skill of Facebook Ads is a time-consuming endeavor (if you want to be great at it) and one that requires consistency.
Facebook also maximizes the power of the funnel! Urge your team to create customer journey’s that nurture your clients from pre-purchase to post-purchase and everything in between.
Facebook has allowed the Mindful Military to grow beyond my wildest dreams. Niche communities (like our service-based communities of minority women) are out there ready to be spoken to and heard. Facebook helps you get directly in front of them!
Griffin Thall, CEO, and Co-Founder of Pura Vida Bracelets
I forgot the year, but we started using Facebook ads a few years after we started Pura Vida in 2010. In the beginning, setting up proper tracking and pixels was always difficult for us. But once we figured it out, Facebook ads have helped to skyrocketed our business, and even helped to get us acquired in 2019 for $130M.
My advice for budding entrepreneurs: do LOTS of testing and creative options.
Jordana Edwards, CEO and CO-Founder, Clean Tea & The Breastfeeding Tea Co.
At the beginning of our Facebook ads, it was challenging to find training in more complex areas like lookalike audiences and retargeting with catalogs.
Due to a boosted post in 2015, we saw a 2283% increase in sales that changed our business forever. We have doubled our sales year on year for five years now, all with the use of Facebook ads, resulting in over $2.4 Million in sales accredited to Facebook.
Knowing what solution you are solving for your customer within the ads, not just throwing money at ads and hoping someone will purchase.
Facebook ads are amazing at searching out potential customers, but the content of your ad is king.
My advice for others is that it’s not a matter of creating ads and hoping people will click. It is about using content valuable to the potential customer, what solution can you solve for them?
Then creating an easy path to purchase, advertising a specific item, and sending the consumer directly to the product always performs better for us than broad brand ads with a home page link. Be specific to the consumer’s needs.
Rob Ward, Co-Founder of Quad Lock
We started using Facebook ads in 2010, and have been testing and learning on the channel for almost 10 years. From day one we built a lot of our business around our Facebook ad strategy. We were trying to build a category rather than sell into an existing one.
Facebook is the perfect platform for this as people don’t need to be looking for your product or service to be sold to.
My advice would be to use new tools as soon as they are available and you’ll get better results than most.
Nicole Story, Senior Vice President, Creative & Marketing, Poo~Pourri
The number one thing I wish I’d known about running ads is the importance of testing. Test, test, test, and then scale. Don’t place all of your bets in a single piece of creative. Test a variety of ads with small budgets to see what’s working, optimize to find top performers, then scale the budget accordingly. We test things like different video intros, product images vs. images of our spokesperson, CTAs (Buy Now vs. Shop Now), messaging (natural vs. how it works), etc.
As a growing startup brand that didn’t have huge budgets for big, traditional ad buys, paid social has been instrumental in allowing for efficient, targeted ad spending.
For us, running our own paid social put control and access to information in our own hands. It has allowed us to grow our business in both direct sales, social following, and brand awareness.
When we first started running Facebook ads, the market was less crowded. It wasn’t nearly as hard to stand out. Consumers weren’t inundated and trained to pass by ads the way they are now.
Today, our biggest challenge is standing out among the noise, and within milliseconds. Our tactics have had to shift and change as consumer scroll behavior, algorithms, and platform technology has changed. For example, creative that may have converted in 2014 no longer works today because it wasn’t captioned, and consumers no longer have sound on when scrolling.
It’s incredibly important that we bob and weave to the nuances of Facebook consumer behavior, so we’re meeting consumers in ways that the message is noticed and received.
My advice for others is to open with a shocking, scroll-stopping visual. People most likely won’t have their sound on, so it’s important to visually get their attention. And tell them what you want them to do. A strong, early CTA is also important.
READ MORE: How to Build a Profitable Marketing Strategy
Jordan Wilkes, Founder of Stride
For Stride, I started using Facebook ads in June 2019.
When it comes to Facebook ads, make sure you are only testing one aspect per campaign. For example, don’t test the copy and the creative in the same campaign. It is impossible to know which aspect made the ad perform better, so keep it simple and only test one thing at a time. Otherwise, you are guessing at the causation.
Facebook has particularly helped me grow in building my funnel, as well as retargeting. Most visitors don’t buy the first time they visit a website, so it’s important that you retarget them in order to build a relationship so that they can trust you, thus returning to buy
The biggest challenge I faced at the beginning was not properly understanding the Ads Manager interface and all of its capabilities. It can be quite tough to navigate for a newbie.
My advice for budding entrepreneurs is to be agnostic. Test all of your campaigns to find out which ones work, even if you think the other campaigns are better. Let the results dictate your direction; not your bias.
Marissa Payne, Digital Strategist of Workit Spaces
Our lead generation campaigns on Facebook resulted in triple the number of new clients in the last few months compared to the beginning of the year pre-Covid. During the second half of May, Workit received more than ten times the number of inquiries as it had in the first half. These results led to the coworking space reaching full capacity despite a global pandemic.
The number one thing I wish I’d known is the importance of account simplification.
For example, I try to keep things at max 15 active ad sets, and I do this so broader audiences become more effective with enough budget, more people convert on any given day and the algorithm has enough signals in place. The ad set delivery becomes stable faster, and it’s easier to understand what is driving the most ROAS and being able to scale those by reducing audience overlap.
If you have great Facebook ads but a terrible website, the ads won’t convert nearly as well. Make sure your whole digital experience is top-notch!
Teigan Margetts, Co-Founder of Ethicool Books
We started using Facebook ads at the start of 2020 and quickly realized that the formula that works for everyone else might not work for us.
We’re a new brand and our target market is the older generations (grandparents and great-grandparents), so Facebook has honestly been our everything. It’s an amazing way to get our product in front of our audience and also to share general brand love.
The biggest challenge we’ve faced, and still face, is understanding why, after a period of time, certain ads just stop working. We find we need to refresh the creative and targeting very regularly to maintain a high ROAS.
My advice to others is that as a business owner, you know your business best. Make sure you design ads that speak to your core USPs and don’t adopt a cookie-cutter approach just because an agency says it will work or you read about it working for someone else.
Rich Burns, CEO of ROAS Media
In the early days of using FB ads around 2012, the biggest challenge was simply getting profitable results. It wasn’t the same Facebook then as it is today and I believe there is a big hangover effect holding brands back that were burnt in the past from trying it again recently.
Over the last five years and the next few years to come, I believe we’ll look back at these years of the FB ads heyday where everything was so underpriced compared to what it is in the future.
We use FB ads for our own lead gen and it’s been incredible. Our clicks to inquiry rate are sitting at 10% and of the leads we filter for ideal clients, our close rates are 60-70%.
What I didn’t realize until running ads for our own clients was that most people’s ideas of how to scale are inaccurate. The commonly held thought that you should only scale ad sets 20% max per day is holding a lot of people back from scaling. After running the ads myself before hiring a team, I was scaling and launching ad sets every few hours, 18 hours a day, and seeing the results from this I built a team around a 24×7 service model to clients to replicate this (in a more sustainable manner). If more brands were to treat their data/approach in the same way wall street might capitalize on trading/scaling on good days and building off of this momentum, they would see a much higher growth rate.
Most brands are missing out on huge opportunities because of a lack of investment in creative. You just have to look at Facebook Ad Library at some of the top eCom brands out there to see just how many new ads and variations they’re launching and testing each week (this is also a pro-tip for some competitor intel to see which variations are active and have been running a long time and which variations keep being released that are similar to previous variations so you get a sense of what’s working well).
Website optimization needs to be a bigger investment from most brands. If they truly understood how moving the needle plus 0.3% – +0.7% or greater on their overall conversion rate would affect their return on ad spend they could save a lot of money on their overall ad spend and have much more room to scale on higher ROAS thanks to the improved website.
Gretta van Riel, Founder of SkinnyMe Tea
We started using Facebook ads in 2013.
What I’ve learned is that your creative is 80% of the equation — direct response, benefit-led video ads were a game-changer for us.
Facebook ads have provided a consistent and scaleable revenue stream for our business. We had traditionally relied on Instagram, Google ads, and influencers for acquisition but adding Facebook ads into the equation has moved the needle the most in recent years for us.
READ MORE: How to Start a Podcast on a Budget
Lindsay Silcox, Co-Founder of Gin Lane
In the beginning, we struggled with some of the technical aspects of running ads at the time. The ad offering has become more accessible and user friendly for small business owners over the past few years. It felt clunky to use when we started four years ago.
When it comes to using Facebook ads, you need to consider what approach gives the best bang for your buck as a new business, i.e. broader audience vs more targeted.
Running Facebook ads actually helped us realize the importance of not relying on one channel if we wanted to broaden our customer base. It’s a little cliched but proved true that we had to look elsewhere to attract slightly older demographics. Facebook definitely boosted our sales and profile with customers aged 18 – 45.
My advice is to spend the money to outsource audience development at the start. It will ensure you waste less money shooting in the dark.
Stephanie Wyant, Co-Founder of Hudson Valley Kinders Farm
We launched our Yoga+Goats events last year and had very little time to publicize.
We ran ads for four weeks prior to the big day and the results were mind-blowing. We had people from Boston (about a three-hour drive from the farm), NYC, and the whole tri-state area sees our ads and attend the event.
The number one thing that I wish I’d known about running ads successfully on Facebook is the importance of doing a/b split tests. I’ll have different results with the same copy but different photos and vice versa. Stock images aren’t always the best choice – sometimes candid photos of people enjoying our products/services get far better results than a posed photo of a family or animal.
Testing what works best for your company will save you a lot of money in the long run and you’ll have a better idea of what your target audience responds to.
Don’t give up. If your ads aren’t performing the way you want them to, try a different approach. Use Google Trends or keyword search tools to find buzz words for your ads.
Chloë Bisson, CEO, and Founder of Queens In Business
I properly started investing in FB ads in Jan 2020.
The number 1 thing I wish I’d known about ads successfully on Facebook is knowing how to analyze the results! I mean, of course, getting leads and sales were amazing but I was in the dark about whether the results were as good as they could be. As they say, what gets measured gets improved and so when you are getting started in FB ads, work out what you are aiming for. What is your target cost per click? What is your target cost per sale or cost per lead? Is it $5? $10? $20?
And here’s a tip – The lowest isn’t always the best! Sometimes you need to pay more to get a better lead. When you know what you’re aiming for and you know how to analyze your results, you can tweak your ads quickly, optimize your budget, and the whole game changes!
Facebook ads have completely transformed my business! Specifically in the last 10 months, even despite the global pandemic, our database of leads doubled, our sales went up by 4X to 5X on last year, we’ve been able to help even more female entrepreneurs on a global scale and we launched new online products to teach others how to run their own online businesses so they could be “stay at home mums” whilst generating more income than their working partner – It’s been a win-win!
The biggest challenge I faced when using Facebook ads was overcoming the fear of wasting money. Whilst it’s not a technical challenge, it was a HUGE mindset challenge that many business owners face. “What if I spend all of this money and don’t make sales?”, “What if I invest in these ads but I get nothing back?” and “What if it doesn’t work?”. I had heard a lot of horror stories of businesses using FB ads and getting nothing back, like pouring water into a leaky bucket. But here’s the thing, the bigger the risk, the bigger reward. In my first 4 weeks of using FB ads during COVID, I invested £12,000 in a new FB ad strategy and I was pretty nervous but by the end of the 4 weeks, I had generated £61,000 in new sales all driven from the FB ad. The biggest tip I would share here is to just get started! Start with a small budget and test it, when it works, keep adding more budget. If you knew you could put $1 in and get $100 out, it becomes a case of how many $1’s do you want to put back in the machine! But you have to turn the ad ON in order to start generating the income!
Be extremely specific with your targeting for your audience! If you try to market to everyone, you will sell to no one! The most specific your targeting, the more likely your Facebook ad will really resonate with them and the more likely you are to convert them. I hear many people say that the more specific your targeting, the more expensive your Facebook ad is to run, which is often very true. But here’s the thing, would you prefer to spend $10 on a lead that’s unlikely to buy something or $100 on a lead that purchases your top-level product, whether that’s $500, $1500, or more? The more specific you are with your targeting, the better quality leads, and clients you’ll get from it!
The Power of Facebook Ads
Facebook ads are a killer method to power up your business, and the above examples are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to conveying how far you can climb. What are you waiting for? Strike while the iron is hot, and start leveraging ads on Facebook!
Got a question about Facebook ads you’ve always wanted to be answered? Comment below and one of our expert team members will help you out!