Facebook boasts the largest social media user base and some of the most powerful targeting tools to not only find your audience, but to customize ad campaigns at scale. But even with Facebook's built-in capabilities, their shadowy algorithm changes can still suppress or lessen the impact of your campaign. That is, if you don't play by the rules.
Social media management agency Consumer Acquisition tested 100,000 Facebook ads and published their results with the goal of helping marketers navigate some of the minutiae that leads to success.
Read on as we break down the makings of a high-performing Facebook ad based on their findings.
1 - Testing, Testing 1, 2 … 15
75-90% of an ad’s overall performance is contingent on the photo you choose. That sounds like a lot of pressure which is why Consumer Acquisition recommends testing 10-15 images against the same audience. Don’t rack your brain on the copy just yet (that doesn’t come into play until after you determine the winning image), but keep it the same for each image you test so the variables aren’t muddled.
Create one Facebook campaign and dedicate a new ad set for each image you have. Spend up a little on the ads (somewhere around the $10-$15 range) so you can target a larger audience, giving you more data to play with. A small but sizable chunk of your monthly budget should be reserved for testing.
2 - Copy That
Once you lock in imagery, shift your focus to the copy. With Facebook ads, you’re given three fields of text for copy: the headline, the body text, and your newsfeed link description. Similar to the image testing method, test iterations of your ad copy against five to 10 ad sets to see which one drives the highest interaction rate.
Headlines are the most important click drivers and, according to the report, can increase your profit by 25% or more. So even if you’ve identified a headline that “works” by your standards, keep experimenting--A/B headline testing has been proven to effectively boost ad performance.
Fun fact: Strong copy can improve your CTR by an additional 10-25%.
3 - Keep it Clean
Your ad design should embrace a minimalistic approach--too much visual clutter is simply too much for viewers to process. Plain or white backgrounds with blurred-out colors and gradients will keep your audience focused on the products and messages in the foreground. And keep the word count to a minimum--a long string of text will turn off your audience. The key is to make sure your image and ad copy are quick and easy to consume.
4 - The 20% Text Rule
Facebook enforced a 20% text rule for ad images a few years back to ensure consumers only see high-quality content. This means that text must not exceed 20% of the image’s total area. This restriction is pretty touchy (even logos will set it off), so try grouping your text in a horizontal or vertical bar, opting for a background color that increases contrast.
5 - Make it Pop
Blue is the primary branding color for Facebook, which is exactly why you should stay away from using it in your creative. Refrain from recessive colors like blacks and greys as well, since the eye tends to gloss over them. Bright, vibrant colors like orange, red, and yellow will help your ad stand out in a newsfeed rife with pictures of babies and pets.
6 - Step Away From the Stock
Perfectly-polished photography doesn’t always get heads turning on Facebook--in fact, if it’s coming from a brand, it’ll likely be scrolled right past. Since Facebook’s users create and share their own content, they associate user-generated content with a certain level of trust. The ads that perform the best are the ones that come off as organic and relatable. As the report suggests, “think ‘selfie,’ not professional magazine ads.” Use images of “everyday” people that come off as approachable, like your best customers or company employees.
7 - Show it Off
In another instance where less is more, keep the focus on just one product or service. A Facebook ad is not the place for an all encompassing showcase. Trying to convey too much will just end up confusing your audience. Curb the visual noise and keep your pitch sweet and to the point to achieve the best results.
8 - On Rotation
When you reach the point where you’ve identified the images and copy best suited for your ad campaigns, let them run between four and 10 days. When the performance starts to taper off, swap it out with a new one, testing 10-20 new images a week.
Grabbing a megaphone and screaming the same stale message in the same way to the same audience is a thing of yesteryear. (Was it ever a thing?) As Consumer Acquisition says, “Mastering the art of Facebook advertising involves patience and a thorough, step-by-step, quantitative and analytical approach. Keep in mind that change is incremental, and a consistent amount of small improvements can lead to huge increases in ROI.”
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