Facebook ads – the secrets to getting the best return on your spend


Are you using Facebook ads to help you grow your business?

They are easy and quick to set up, and can help you get your message out to thousands of people without spending a huge chunk of money. Once you have them set up correctly, you can use them to market your business on auto-pilot, especially if you lead interested visitors from the ad down a marketing ‘funnel’ that results in them becoming customers.

However, in order to get the best results from Facebook ads, you do need to put in some work. Presuming that you’re up-to-speed with how to set an ad up (in Ads Manager or Power Editor), then your preparation should include both planning and research, and once your ads are running, you’ll want to test and then optimize, in order to get the most from your budget.


a. Strategy

It’s crucial to plan out what you actually want to achieve with your ads, as only then can you map out the steps you want your new visitor to take after seeing your ad, The step might be as simple as calling you to book, or as complex as clicking, registering for a webinar and then buying your product or service at the end of the webinar.

b. “Back- end’

It goes without saying that before you set your ads up, you need to make sure that all the back-end ‘steps’ for your new visitor are in place (you do have people ready to take those calls don’t you?!)

Remember that if you’re planning to send visitors to your website from your ads then it must be mobile-friendly. You’ll want to make sure you also have (several forms if possible of) data capture on your website and that it does a good job of converting visitors to leads for you.

c. Custom audiences

Facebook now gives us the option to create custom audiences to target with ads. These can be made from your uploaded email lists or from the data of visitors to your webpages (collected via a ‘re-targeting pixel’). In addition, you can create a ‘lookalike’ audience seeded from one of your custom audiences – with matching interests and demographics.

These all offer huge potential to businesses, but you need to allow time to set these audiences up and to make sure that pixels are installed and collecting data properly.


a. Audiences

Although we can make the most of custom audiences, we often need to run ads to ‘cold’ audiences too. The more you can drill down to who your ‘ideal customer’ is, then more effective your ad targeting will be. For example, if you know what books or magazines they would read, or which ‘big names’ they would follow, or even which competitors they might buy from, then you can use these to select ‘interests’ to target with.

You can add in additional layers of broad filters by setting location, age and gender, and more specific filter such as age of children, relationship status, employer and even their travelling habits!

So try and be as clear as possible about the type of person you want to attract with your ads.

(If you need some clues about the Facebook Pages your ideal customer might have liked, so that you can target them further, then it’s worth spending a few minutes using the ‘audience insights’ tool in Ads Manager.)

b. Copy

The words you use in your ad are crucial. Remember that people are on Facebook to be social, not to buy – so your wording should reflect the fact that you’re catching them ‘on the off-chance’.

Aggressive sales pitches won’t work; instead you need to be able to tap into the feelings your ideal customer might be having about the issue you help them with, or the goal you help them to achieve.

The best way to find out which words to use are to listen to your current customers – what words do they use to describe the problem or goal? And what do they say about how they feel when you’ve helped them? If it’s a new offering you’re promoting, then check out what people are saying on social media, or in forums, or send out a survey.

Use words that echo the words your customers are using in their every-day lives and your ad will appear attractive, rather than intrusive.
Testing and Optimisation

a. Testing

Before you set off on a full-blown ads campaign, allow some time for testing the waters.
The approach I use is to create an ad, then duplicate it, changing only the targeting each time. In this way, I can test the response of several different audiences to see which ones respond the most and the most cost-effectively. I will often test at least 2 custom audiences and at least 2 ‘cold’ audiences at this stage.

Allow the ads to ‘settle in’ for 2 days before you analyse the results, otherwise you may get distorted stats.

You might also want to test the type of ad you create. Sometimes, you can get better results from running a page post engagement ad than from running a website clicks or events ad, for example.

b. Optimising

Once you know which audiences respond the best, you can now optimize the ads you create for them, before you settle on a final system.

The 2 obvious factors to test now are ad copy and image. Remember to only change one variable at a time, otherwise any change in results will be impossible to track back.

Finer tweaks would include the type of bidding you choose, and also whether you choose to show ads at certain times of day only.

Test options one at a time and stop the ad variants that aren’t successful.

Doing this in a logical, step-wise manner will allow you to make sure that you really are squeezing the most out of every £ that you pay Facebook!

It may seem like a lot of work, but you will find that the knowledge you gain from following the steps here will pay for itself many times over. An added bonus will be the valuable insight you gain not only for Facebook campaigns, but for all forms of marketing you use.

About the Author

  • Julia Bramble

    “The Social Marketing Scientist – helping you attract and keep more customers by bringing forensic thinking to social marketing.” A Ph.D – level scientist by training, I led a team that pioneered the use of ground-breaking new DNA analysis in routine forensic science to achieve unimaginable results. Now I apply the same skills to create social marketing success formulae for businesses, enabling them to use social media to obtain results they never would have dreamed possible. As a result, I have been featured in numerous publications, including The Guardian and The Evening Standard. My award-winning business, BrambleBuzz, has helped other businesses get results such as generating 2,000 new leads in 10 days, winning 3 new high-ticket clients in a matter of weeks, and attracting so much new business that a new member of staff was needed.

    Web: http://www.bramblebuzz.co.uk

Join our Newsletter

Please fill out your details below to receive the Social Media Experts Newsletter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *