4 Ways to Optimise Facebook Ads

Adam Cox  • 

At Digital Fuel, we run paid social media campaigns for a variety of clients. From online casinos and sportsbooks to restaurant groups and charities, there is excellent value to be found by utilising advertising on social media channels regardless of the industry within which your business is operating.

In 2020, social media usage has hit record levels. According to a recent survey by Business Insider Intelligence, 67% of adults (18+) were spending over an hour a day on social media platforms in the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Facebook and Instagram were the most used platforms, with the average user spending 34 minutes a day on Facebook. Although much of the increased social media usage has been due to the pandemic, various sources predict sustained growth on Instagram (and Snapchat) and a stabilisation in the decline of Facebook usage.

Advertising spend on social media amounted to more than $89 billion in 2019, and is predicted to grow an additional 10% by the end of 2020. However much you are investing in your paid advertising, it’s more important than ever to ensure the campaigns you are running are as effective as possible.

Whilst 2020 has seen some major brands boycott Facebook and Instagram, it is important to know how to maximise the activity running. If you are currently investing in paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram, read the tips below from our expert media buying team to ensure the adverts you are running are as efficient as possible.

4 ways to optimise your Facebook and Instagram ads:

Before we dive in, if you are not currently running Facebook and Instagram ads and would like to get to grips with the basics, Hootsuite has two great guides to familiarise you with the basics: Instagram ads guide and Facebook ads guide.

  1. Make the most of granular & varied audience targeting

    Facebook and Instagram offer a massive variety of targeting options for you to reach your target audience. Effective and strategic use of these audience targeting features will improve your campaigns significantly and help you to bring in new customers or maximise potential revenue generation from current users depending on your business objectives.

    Consider the following targeting options for your adverts: on location, interests, behaviour, demographic data, lookalikes, dynamic retargeting & prospecting, pixel-based audiences and custom audiences (CRM data) and create ad sets accordingly. You can also trial utilising automated targeting, although we’d recommend creating a new ad set for each custom audience you create so that you are able to monitor effectiveness accordingly.

    Once you have created your custom audiences, you can further optimise your Facebook and Instagram ads by serving different creative to each target audience – for example, as a basic example editing the text to mention the location where your target customer lives. Both Facebook & Instagram offer a large number of customisation options you can perform within an individual ad, including different creative possibilities for different placements and audiences – so you do not need to create entire new ads for each audience.

  2. Optimise your advertising schedule

    Is your current Facebook and Instagram campaign always on? If you are targeting your audience 24/7, you are likely not maximising your budget.

    When managing our clients’ campaigns, we have noticed that there are particular times which often outperform the rest (not to mention specific times of the year). You can see which times lead to maximum activity on your Facebook ads at the lowest CPA, by logging in to your Facebook Ads Manager reports and using the Breakdown menu to analyse your campaigns by day.

    Considering the activity data from the Facebook campaigns you have run to date will help you determine the best time for future Facebook activity.

    Once you know which days work best for your business, you can set your campaigns on a custom schedule so that you only reach your target audience at the time with the best conversion rate.

    An additional benefit of running your Facebook ads on a custom schedule is that it decreases your ad frequency (more on how to target this in point 3). Your target audience will see your adverts less often throughout the week, which makes them less repetitive and hopefully less annoying for your potential customers.

  3. Combat ad boredom by rotating your adverts

    According to Facebook, the optimal ad frequency is between 1 and 2 exposures during the length of the campaign with a tipping point of 3.4, after which an ad loses its effectiveness. At this point, your target customers may get annoyed or bored by your advert – and may hide adverts from your business moving forward. As the ad frequency increases, your ad’s CTR will decrease and the CPC will increase. A study of over 500 Facebook campaigns by AdEspresso found that at a frequency of 4, CTR reduced by 23.34% and CPC increased by 68.02%. However, this all depends on what you are advertising and how well your ad targeting is performing.

    Facebook’s advice goes further for the goal you are trying to achieve as an advertiser:

    • Generally, large brand advertisers with large market share and high levels of brand awareness have the most success when they focus on reaching more people by choosing a lower frequency cap of 1-2 ads per week.

    • Newer brands that have lower market share or are running shorter campaigns may create more memorable impressions by increasing their frequency cap and increasing their average frequency in order to show more ads to a smaller group of people and maximise awareness.

    You can monitor the frequency of your current advertising campaigns by loading the Creative Reporting tab in your Facebook Ads Manager account and looking at Reach. Once the frequency of your campaign gets above 3, make sure you are monitoring it closely.

    When the performance becomes affected, and your CPC increases, refresh the design of your ads or start a different marketing proposition or campaign to combat the potential ad fatigue of your target audience.

    A great way to combat ad boredom (also known as ad fatigue) is to create a number of Facebook ad variations with different creatives. This can be especially effective when you are targeting a small audience in a retargeting campaign, as they may be seeing your ads multiple times a day. You can serve multiple adverts to your target audience every day of the week (or the days that convert best for your business as discussed above) by scheduling each ad to be active on a different day, this stops your ads from seeming repetitive or boring.

  4. Test, test, and A/B test again!

    Whilst creating your social ads and then never looking at them again may seem tempting, one of the most important areas of optimising your Facebook and Instagram adverts is testing them to see which perform best.

    Consumer behaviour is constantly changing, ad formatting changes and Facebook and Instagram are forever rolling out new ad placements – so it’s best to test each new campaign to see what works most effectively for you.

    In Facebook Ads Manager, you can set up an A/B test in the experiments tab. Here you can compare two or more ad campaigns and see which one performs best for your chosen business objectives. You can use two or more existing campaigns or duplicate an existing one to create your test.

    Whilst it is tempting to test all ad elements at once, it is best to pinpoint which areas will have the biggest effect on your click-through and conversion rates. These may be: ad copy, ad placements, call to action, or ad design. Once you have set up your test, it’s best practice to wait until you have at least 100 conversions to see what works best. We know that this approach won’t work for all budgets – so if you are working with a small budget, testing very different versions of your ad campaign will give you a better general overview to see what works quickly.

Make time to optimise your Facebook and Instagram Ads

Optimising your Facebook and Instagram adverts isn’t a quick and simple process, but it can save you a significant amount of resources and improve your customer acquisition long term. Effectively optimising your paid social adverts is a time-intensive, continuous process of trial and error. Listed above are just four ways to optimise your adverts to improve their performance, but there are many more strategies we implement for our clients.

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