As a digital business owner, running Facebook ads often comes with a lot of trepidation. Will I just be throwing money away? What if I reach the wrong audience? Can I compete with bigger companies?
These are all valid concerns! And this isn’t helped by the fact a lot of entrepreneurs have been previously burned by agencies, and experienced a lot of stress and emotion from expensive trials and errors.
Yet, you’re surrounded by business “gurus” telling you that ads are the end all, be all solution for your business.
Ads certainly *can* be the key to a swift (and significant) increase in your revenue, but there are also things that they CAN’T do…like sell to an audience that doesn’t want to buy, for example…
So before you go rushing into running ads in the hope of making a quick buck, we want to equip you with the Meta ads (formerly Facebook ads) tactics that will ensure digital online business success and help you make the most of an incredibly powerful tool for digital business owners.
1. Understand the purpose of ads–and what they can and can’t do
One of the ways entrepreneurs often get burned is by taking courses or reading something that says, “Hey, it’s easy to run your ads! Just put in these two type of ads and put in X amount and Facebook will generate tons and tons of money for you.” Unfortunately, that’s just not how it works.
While ads CAN have a significant impact on your revenue, they can’t overcome a weak offer or product, sell to an audience that doesn’t want to buy, or make a too-low price point profitable.
2. Get training (and understand the rules)
Don’t forget: Some people make Meta ads their entire careers. So to think that we can just watch a video or two and then login and start running effective ads is foolish. The good news is that there are a lot of top quality trainings that will give you all of the knowledge you need to run ads on your own. This is NOT a place to skimp or a step to try to skip.
3. Don’t hire an agency until you understand ads
But you still want to try and skip that last one, right? 😉 It’s still very tempting for us to think, ‘I don’t want to take the time to learn ads; I’ll just hire a good agency to do it for me!’ The problem is, even with referrals, you can’t know how good an agency is or if it’s right for YOU.
Plus, they will NEVER know your audience, messaging, insights, and potential as well as you do. You can’t just hire an agency and “let them do it” – you’ll need to be an active participant in the process and, if you don’t understand the process, you can end up wasting a lot of money – even with the very best agency.
4. Don’t run ads until you’re ready to sell
Meta will give you a lot of opportunities to run ads way before you’re ready to sell. “Build your list!” “Gain followers!” “Increase video views so that people will know you and be ready to buy when you’re ready to sell!” Here’s the hard truth: Spending any money on ads before you have something to sell is just flushing money down the toilet – yes, even if you’re building your list.
Every day that someone spends on your list without having something to buy makes that list staler and staler. In order for your business to work, you need to make more money than you’re spending. Spending money on ads before you have anything to sell is a really effective way to get that fundamental equation backwards.
5. Know your best audience–and only run ads to them
In order to sell to your perfect customer, you need to know who that customer is—and you what groups they fall into. You hopefully already know this, but your audience is not “everyone.” And what you may not know is there’s a philosophy (and even an option in ads!) to just run your ad to everyone and let Meta figure it out. *Facepalm*
Here’s the problem: First, until the algorithm “figures it out,” you’re going to be spending a WHOLE lot of money while you’re waiting. Secondly, you can’t control what that algorithm is optimizing for – it might be optimizing for the lowest cost per 1000 views, while that lowest cost per 1000 views might actually be the highest cost per lead.
Lastly, and very importantly, just because someone clicks on your ad and opts in doesn’t mean they’re your target audience! If you have an interesting or compelling message, you might get a whole lot of people who want to know about it, but who DON’T want to purchase.
6. Write ads only your audience will want
In addition to targeting your ads to audiences who are likely to want to purchase (based on interests, lookalike audiences to subscribers and/or purchasers, people who watch/interact with your profiles or videos, etc.), you also need to write ads that only your audience will care about—and that they will find compelling. For example, “Lower Your A1 with these recipes!” is ONLY going to appeal to people who have diabetes and who are interested in managing it with healthy cooking.
What messages would your audience—and, as much as possible, ONLY your audience—be compelled to learn more about?
7. Know your numbers
It is immeasurably easy to blow through large amounts of cash on Meta ads—until you understand your numbers. If you work backwards from the cost of your offer and your conversion rate, you can figure out your maximum cost per lead, as well as what your target cost per lead should be. No numbers exist in a vacuum!
A $10 cost per lead doesn’t mean anything without all of the other numbers—and even a $5 cost per lead isn’t a winner if the conversion rate and cost of your offer mean you’re actually paying more to make that sale than you’re earning with it!
8. Remove emotions (as much as possible)
We get it: You’re spending your company’s money and, while you’re testing everything (more on that shortly), you’re watching money go out without money coming in. That can certainly be stressful. However, the CFO of a company wouldn’t be making financial decisions based on anxiety or fear. This is one of those times when you have to put on your CFO hat and make your decisions based on facts and projections, instead of emotions as much as possible.
9. Let them run for a bit–but check in regularly
Unfortunately, you can’t know instantly which ads are working and which aren’t. Once an ad is live (meaning, after you’ve published it, it’s been reviewed, and Meta has set it live), you’ll likely need to give it a few days to judge it—or at least around 1,500 impressions.
That said, Meta ads is not a “set it and forget it” kind of system. You need to be evaluating your ads regularly so that you can turn off any ads that aren’t working and turn up any that are. Depending on how many ads and campaigns you’re running, you should be checking your account at least every other day. Give yourself the weekend off if you’d like, but make sure you’re checking on Friday and Monday.
10. Look at your time window
Creative, audiences, metrics, and costs aren’t the only elements to factor into how you evaluate an ad—you also need to determine a time frame. You can set a custom timeframe or choose one of the presets like “last 7 days” or “last 30 days.” Here’s why this is important: an ad that has a cost per lead of $5 in the last 30 days could change dramatically in the “last 7 days” window. For example, it might jump up to $15 or $20. That indicates that it was performing well earlier in the 30 days but, for whatever reason, it’s started performing poorly more recently and likely needs to be switched off. You can look at a 30 day window, but you’ll likely want to focus on the last 7 days or even creating a custom window of 3 days for more insight.
11. Diagnose the real problem
Although “this ad’s not performing” *sounds* like a reasonable statement, it’s actually a very simple conclusion for a broad swath of possible problems. For example, if the ad isn’t being run to the right audience, it wouldn’t perform. Or, if it’s being run to the right audience but doesn’t resonate with them, it won’t perform.
On top of that, what are your metrics for “performance”? Is it click through rate (which would be an ad issue) or are you looking at cost per lead (which could be an ad issue or a landing page issue). Make sure you’re examining all of the factors before making changes to help ensure you’re making the right changes.
12. Test one variable at a time
When running tests (of any kind!) make sure that you’re testing one variable (headline, image, body copy, etc.) at a time. When you make changes to a bunch of different elements, you can’t possibly know which element made the improvement (or caused the problem), meaning you can’t use that information to help you moving forward.
13. Don’t turn off what’s working!
If an ad is working—meaning that it falls within the metrics you want it to fall and it’s getting you the results you want it to—don’t turn it off! Turning off ads and turning them on again resets the Meta algorithm and you may not get the same results with the ad. This is also true of any changes you make to ads, so do so judiciously.
14. Scale slowly
Once you have an ad that’s working, resist the urge to amp up your ad spend too quickly. As we just mentioned, any changes will reset the algorithm and you want to rock the boat as little as possible.
Generally, you want to increase your ad spend by 15-20% every few days. And if you’re nervous about running ads, this can make increasing your spend a little bit easier to stomach. Some people will advocate duplicating a winning ad and running it to the same audience to quickly “double” the spend, but this will likely lead to your ad being shown to at least some of the same people and the spend of ad 1 competing with the spend of ad 2. It’s certainly a tactic you can try, but bear these points in mind.
15. Test winners on new audiences–with a caveat
When you have winning creative with one audience, you can (and should!) test it out on a new audience. For example, if an ad does well with your interests audience, you could test it on your lookalike audience. Note that we say “test” though—you’ll want to still keep an eye on this new campaign. Just because something performed well with one audience, doesn’t mean it will do the same with another.
Bonus Tactic: Be patient, but pragmatic
Meta ads is a long game. People looking to swoop in, spend some money, and make some money fast are going to be disappointed (and much poorer). It can take some time to find the right audiences and creative and, even when you do find them, you’ll want to continually be testing and improving.
By combining an understanding of your audience and how you can help them, along with a good grasp of your metrics and goals, can lead to incredible leaps forward in your business.
Resources mentioned in the episode below:
In this episode of the Energize Your Online Business podcast, Nicki is joined by ads manager extraordinaire Jackie Ellis who explains how running ads can be an incredibly powerful tool when used strategically. Hear Jackie’s professional tips for how to be a Meta ad expert for your own digital business!