The secret to making Facebook ads work

Facebook might be the most accessible and affordable platform, but the only way to knock it out the park is to start with the right ingredients. (We'll come on to what can happen when you get that wrong later in this post.)

  • You have a great service or product. Startups beware; if your proposition isn't proven, then a failed campaign could be that your offer doesn't fit a market. Any business with a proven history can succeed.
  • Good targeting. We only want to show the right people our ads, because if not, they don't work. Some people think advertisers are hit n' run merchants who go on some major offensive to edge out profit somewhere. In reality, low engagement will kill your campaign. People have to like what they see or it's all over. (We'll come on to how bad actors, like those who distribute "fake news" can exploit this later.) I'd rather advertise to 100 people who really want something, than a million who don't. It's ridiculously affordable when you take this view and do everything you can to work with your audience. This approach is why we're able to repeatedly sell holidays worth £1-3k for a few quid each.
  • Super clear ads that ask the right thing at the right time. If the target audience has never heard of you, don't ask for a sale! Give them something valuable, like a super relevant blog post or video. Their engagement can promote them forward to a new 'warm' audience, to whom you can be more confident they're happy to see a regular ad that asks for a sale. It's usually cheaper to run two ads in sequence than one that asks for marriage on the first date.
  • Track the hell out of everything. I appreciate this is the bit that people are concerned about, and there's valid reasons for that - especially when political actors get involved. From my perspective, we track all visitors and the behaviour they take - but here's the important bit - it's totally anonymous. Whenever you hear about data being sold to advertisers on Facebook, it's misleading. People seem to imagine their secrets and desires being fired off in a list next to their profile picture. To be clear, I have never seen the name of a Facebook user who we target, or any personal detail whatsoever. We can reach people with specific interests, which obviously helps with relevance, and Facebook's targeting is miles better than the equivalent offerings from Google and others. If a person is interacting with one of our sites, they just get chucked anonymously into pots that I define, such as 'Visited home page', 'Completed enquiry form' or 'Made a purchase'. I get a number next to each pot, and I can advertise to them with something as relevant as possible, or exclude them from seeing an ad if it isn't relevant to them. This is good for the audience. This is what responsible advertising looks like. Everyone I see in the marketing forums I join are equally hell-bent on doing what's right for the audience. If you think advertisers gathering data is exclusively evil, you're being naive, and should focus efforts against the bad apples. Even the advertisers of a poor moral disposition will typically embrace that relevance and quality engagement is what fills their bank in the end.

Facebook is the only platform that, in my opinion, absolutely excels on every one of those points (apart from having a great service or product, which you could use Facebook ads to test interest if you're starting out).

Facebook's advertising ecosystem actively encourages giving people a good experience. Good engagement = happier audiences and best-in-class results for the advertiser.

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