Podcast 118 5 Things That Are Working With FB Ads

Well hello there! Catherine Langman here with you on the Productpreneur Success Podcast! Welcome to the show if you’re a new listener, and welcome back if you’re a long-time listener!

Today on the show we’re going to talk a bit about what’s working right now with Facebook ads – specifically when it comes to advertising your brand or eCommerce store.

I thought it’s high time to take another look at this topic given Facebook ads have changed enormously over the last year since the major Apple iOS update rolled out and threw just about everything in the realm of digital marketing out of whack. 

But realistically, who’s surprised? Facebook has continuously made changes to their ad platform – some more major and disruptive than others for sure, but still frequent.

Prior to last year’s Apple iOS update that totally disrupted the way we track Facebook ad data, the platform algorithm was so powerful you could literally put an ad showcasing your product in front of people ready to buy. As long as you could master the technical side of the ad platform, you’d get ads that converted. 

Post-Apple-iOS update and that method stopped working almost immediately. Now, we need to be a lot more adept at communication, both visually and in the written word. And then marrying that message with the right technical setup.

There’s been a lot more to master from a tech setup perspective as well, from verifying domains, prioritising events and ensuring the conversion API is integrated and firing properly. Without these steps in place, the ads will also fail.

So really, the words Facebook ads and change are pretty synonymous with each other. It would take at least 3-digits to count all the updates Facebook has made to its advertising platform since its launch in 2007. 

As marketers and  business owners wanting to take advantage of all the online communication channels at our fingertips, we need to stay nimble and just ride the wave of change (including the biggest wave of their recent parent name change to Meta).

With each advertising change, it’s not our job to dramatically ask, “WHY?!”, as tempting as that feels… 

It’s definitely tempting to just give up on the platform because it does seem to cause a lot of headaches, just when you master something it goes and changes again. 

Aside from their granular targeting, one of the reasons Facebook ads work so well is their visual experience. 

You can’t escape the cookie-cutter Google search ad format, and try as they might, Google display ads just can’t quite match the clean and smooth nature of Facebook ads. 

But in being the least disruptive, this also means they need to be strong enough to compete with the cute babies and viral videos alongside them in users’ Feeds…

So instead of exclaiming WHY every time something changes, we must ask, “How?”.

  • How are ads changing and what on earth works NOW?
  • How does this impact my business specifically and what should I do next?
  • How will I adapt?

And as literally everyone advertising on the platform has been impacted by all these changes, I know many of you are keen to rediscover how to run ads successfully again in this new environment.

So that’s what we’re going to talk about during this podcast episode.

But before we dive further into this episode, I’d like to ask you a quick favour: if you love this episode, would you share it with one or two of your business besties? Especially if you know they’re looking to drive more traffic, sales and profits in their eCommerce business sustainably this year. It’s super easy to share – just click on the icon next to the podcast on whichever platform you listen to it on, copy the share link and then send it in a message to your friends.

OK, let’s dive into the episode…

So before I get into the 5 strategies that are working right now, I want to quickly touch on why you should still try to incorporate Facebook advertising into your marketing mix.

The obvious answer to this is that you want to get immediate traffic and sales, right? And of course that has to be one of the benefits for spending money on the platform. 

But, done well, running Facebook ads will have 3 additional benefits that are also very valuable to your business:

  1. Your organic search traffic volumes will increase. Usually, the conversion rate on organic search traffic is one of the highest out of any channel, barring perhaps email. And the more that Google’s algorithm sees that customers want to visit your website and want to buy from you, the more favourable their algorithm will look on your site and you’ll start to move up in the search result rankings. So the more organic search traffic you can get, the better position your business will be in.
  2. Your email list will grow – or it should if you’re doing eCommerce right anyway. If you haven’t implemented email list growth strategies and you’re not actively using email marketing, you are leaving potentially another 20-35% of sales on the table. 
  3. Your Google ad results – if you run google ads – will also improve, as more people start to google you after seeing ads on social media. 

So basically, the overall impact and effectiveness of your marketing as a whole will improve if you can master Facebook advertising.

We do see people decide that it’s too hard to make Facebook ads work, or they want to stop because they think it doesn’t convert as well as Google ads or other channels, and whilst I would never say that is never the case, the most common scenario we see is that brands turn off their FB ads and then all the other channels take a nosedive as well. 

Better to keep trying to get Facebook ads working well in my books!

  1. So the first thing we’ve seen work exceptionally well is using paid ads to amplify the results you get from an influencer or brand ambassador campaign. 

The strategy of working with influencers typically works well because you are getting a very warm introduction to that person’s audience. The impact on an audience of a warm introduction is vastly different to a cold traffic advertisement – because of the personal introduction by a trusted figure to their engaged audience, you get the referred credibility from that introduction. It’s almost as trusted as a personal recommendation.

But Influencer campaigns are usually only effective over a very short space of time while the influencer is live or actively engaged with their audience on a post showcasing your stuff. Beyond that timeframe, the impact to your traffic and sales generally dries up quite fast. 

However, putting some money behind content like this that’s created for you by other personalities really amplifies and extends the lifetime effectiveness of that content. Obviously one benefit of this is that you get more traffic and sales, but something you might not have thought about is that it also helps to train your Facebook pixel and ad account on who your audience is. This means when you go to run ads in future, Facebook is better able to find the right audience and optimise your ads faster. Which really is a win-win.

I’ll give you a great example of this. One of our agency clients, Max and Faith clothing, has run some exceptionally effective Influencers campaigns. They’re usually paid influencers in case you’re wondering. 

Just working with those personalities was effective on its own, but would have been short-lived if we didn’t also use some of the content created by them in the ad campaigns. 

But using them in the ads has really boosted return on ad spend, helped to drive a tonne more traffic and sales, and importantly has also helped to generate a much bigger ROI on those paid influencer campaigns.

  1. Something that I have always been an advocate for when running ads on Facebook and Instagram, is to use the enormous potential of these platforms to build brand awareness and increase demand for what you sell. 

But I think maybe there might be a bit of confusion about what it actually means to increase brand awareness or consumer demand, though.

Because in reality I do still see a lot of people trying to go straight for the jugular so to speak – putting ads asking for the sale right in front of people who don’t know you from a bar of soap. 

Which can feel a bit abrupt on a platform like social media. 

Something we all need to bear in mind is that people go on social media to escape reality for a while, to procrastinate on what they’re meant to be doing or to while away the time if they’re bored. 

Whereas people go to google when they’re ready to buy.

So social media advertising presents this golden opportunity to go after audiences that are way earlier in their buyer journey than they typically are on google.

This requires a bit of a different communication strategy, though.

And this is where I’m loving the concept of driving traffic pre-sales pages.

A pre-sales page is a bit like an advertorial, is the best way I can describe it. 

Typically you want to think along the lines of answering a how-to question, in a way that softly introduces your products and also includes things like customer testimonials, demo videos and so on.

I personally love using the Headline Analyzer tool by CoSchedule to help come up with the headline you’d use on a pre-sales page like that, and of course replicate that to use in the ad copy as well. 

You want to build this sort of page using a landing page builder, like Zipify pages for example, rather than a blog page. Because you want the content to really follow the format “Attention, Interest, Desire, Social Proof, Action”.

Having the right headline helps get your audience’s Attention.

The first paragraph of text and image should quickly and very simply peak their interest. Usually the fastest way to do this is to sort of focus on whatever their pain point is, because most people are pretty keen to resolve a pain.

To increase desire you want to use a video testimonial or video demonstration to quickly communicate your brand promise – ie what do your customers want to experience or how do they want to feel?

Next I’d definitely be introducing your product – not everything in your range, I’d be focusing the content of this pre-sales page on one best-seller, or a small handful of best-sellers that work together, so you can showcase them as individuals as well as in a bundle.

Then you’d share a testimonial or two, because social proof is super helpful at overcoming any objections and reaffirms to a potential buyer that they’re making a good decision. 

And then you’d include a strong call to action and invitation to buy.

For those of you who follow Ezra Firestone, you’d recognise this strategy as one he’s used with enormous success with his brand Boom by Cindy Joseph.

  1. Next I want to mention about the importance of using different campaign types as well as different types of media, especially at the Top of Funnel. 

Campaign types might include Video Views, Page post engagement and Conversions. 

And by different media I mean, some video, some single image, some carousel, some animated gif, and so on.

Why do you want to do this? 

Think of the potential with social media ads as like the ocean. When you go fishing in the ocean, you’ll catch more fish if you cast more fishing lines, right?

For starters – some of your audience are likely to be video consumers and some aren’t. You need to test and try a variety of different media to try and appeal to the variety of preferences in your audience, and typically I’m keen to keep running a variety over time because I personally don’t believe we can ever reduce your audience down to one common denominator. However, you might actually find that one type of media does actually win out every single time – video for example – but don’t just assume that it will, make sure you test. 

With campaign types, there’s a really good reason I like to run some engagement type campaigns, particularly at top of funnel (but can also work at middle of funnel too). 

One of the essential ingredients in getting social media advertising to work well for you is to feed the algorithm with as much quality content as possible. Meta wants us to be ‘good citizens’ on the platform – creating and sharing content that platform users are going to want to engage. The more you can feed the algorithm with quality content your audience wants to and actively does engage with, the more ‘machine learning’ goes on with the platform algorithm that helps your ads to optimise faster and more profitably.

Aside from the quality of your content, though, you also need to consider that there are typically going to be a portion of your audience that will happily click away from the platform, for example to go visit your website. But there will also be a tonne of platform users who want to watch a video or read an article, and if you show the most appealing kind of content to these people at the top of funnel you are going to expand the size of your audience that gets to know you and who now has more desire for your products.

Those people will be primed for the pump then to convert with a conversion campaign at middle of bottom of funnel.

Tell me you’ve never been scrolling the feed and stopped by someone doing a really cool makeup demo video or a craft or cooking video or the like, and then been really keen to try that out for yourself. I know I’ve responded like that, and then shortly after I’ve seen a conversion ad and clicked over to buy the product. 

  1. How good are ads using a sense humour or that portray a bit of personality? This is definitely something that fell by the wayside during the couple of years before the Apple iOS update – because frankly, the ads used to convert without putting that much effort into the creative. But not so much anymore.

Ultimately, your audience wants to feel like the content they consume really resonates with how they feel right now, and they want to buy from brands that empathise with their experience.

Start by having a think about how your customers feel right now, or how they want to feel, and then start thinking about some scenarios that might be familiar to them and how you can tell some stories around that. 

Let me share a bit of a before and after example. 

In the recent past, many media buyers considered it to  be ‘poor form’ to run more than one top of funnel, because they competed with each other, but we’re finding that the opposite is true. 

Which would appeal more to you as a consumer – an ad that shows a bag of dog food with a message about the health benefits? Or an ad sharing a story about Brutus the Dog and showing a video of him behaving like a dog? 

An ad showing a flatlay of a raincoat and gumboots, or a video or animated gif showing kids outside jumping in muddy puddles, making mud cakes or some other messy outdoor activity? 

An ad showing a beautifully styled arrangement of makeup products or a video demonstrating how to apply makeup to achieve a certain look?

Hopefully you get my drift here!

  1. Onto a setup related strategy that’s working really well right now. 

Now, as any of you who’ve been running any social media ads over the last year would know, tracking events on your website is a lot less accurate than it used to be. Meaning, tracking things like View Content and Add to Cart and Initiate Checkout events on your website is less accurate than it was prior to the Apple iOS update. It’ll be especially inaccurate if your conversion API disconnects, which randomly happens on an ad hoc basis too, so it does pay to check that connection is still in place on a regular basis. 

Anyway, because of this situation, we like to retarget more on-platform warm audiences in our middle of funnel campaigns. The usual social media engagement and video views audiences for sure, but also add in things like Add to Cart on Facebook and Instagram Shop and Initiate Checkout on Facebook and Instagram Shop.

Additionally, we love to make sure we have a dynamic audience sync between Klaviyo email platform and Facebook ads, especially an audience that syncs your 90 day engaged email subscribers to a custom audience on Facebook so that you can retarget these contacts in your Middle of funnel campaigns as well. 

  1. And for my 5th strategy that’s working right now in Facebook ads, I want to include another detail about using multiple top of funnel campaigns. 

We’re using ad set budget campaigns for testing out new audiences, both lookalike and interest-based, as well as testing new and different creatives.

But we’re finding in most accounts, it’s hard to scale using ad set budgets. So when you have some winning audiences and creatives, you want to shift them into a CBO campaign. CBO means campaign budget optimisation – it’s where the budget is managed at the campaign level rather than the ad set level.

I like to structure it so that you have multiple top of funnel campaigns, and each campaign has creatives and audiences that are sort of similar. Like, you might have similar messaging and similar ‘hooks’, but the execution might be a little different, so story vs a testimonial vs some other style of copy, matched with different media, like a carousel, a demo or unboxing video, or an animated gif.

Then, you might have a completely different angle or buying purpose or avatar in a different CBO campaign, and the messaging and media used in the ad creatives would be suited to that buying purpose or avatar. 

In this way,  you can start to attract a wider variety of audiences who might be buying for different purposes or different reasons. 

And because they’re in separate CBO campaigns it’s easier for Facebook to optimise and scale.  

OK, so that’s the 5 things that are working right now with Facebook and Instagram advertising. 

I promised you one thing that’s really not working right now as well.

And really, what I want to say here kinda encompasses a mindset more than a mistake. And it’s thinking about your Facebook ads in isolation, without looking at it as part of a marketing system.

Looking at Facebook ads in isolation usually leads to a narrow approach to your ads – agonising over setups and creatives and canning ads or campaigns too soon and many other behaviours. 

But in reality, a healthy, effective and profitable marketing system involves multiple sources of traffic so that you’re targeting your audience at different stages of their buyer journey and so that you’re also reinforcing your messaging in the various locations where your audience hangs out. 

It also considers your ads in relation to your website as well. Because sales conversions only result if your website is doing its job as well – the responsibility for sales can’t all be placed at the foot of your Facebook ads.

These are the reasons why we are so fanatical with tracking ALL the metrics – not just on the Facebook ad platform but across all platforms. Doing this helps to identify trends across the board and helps you to make more informed decisions about your marketing, as well as more accurate judgements about the success contributed by each part of your marketing.

So anyway – that’s been a fairly meaty episode but I hope you’ve enjoyed it and hopefully found one or two ideas you’ll try out in your own business.

The main concepts I want you to take with you from this episode are – firstly, when it comes to running Facebook and Instagram ads, we need to consider the entire buyer journey, from awareness to post-purchase, and think about the sorts of stories we can tell both written and visual that would resonate with our audience throughout the buyer journey. And then, we really need to track our metrics in detail, across all platforms, so that we can see the impact of the marketing we’re doing.

If you’re looking for a relevant community to network with as you work on your eCommerce marketing, make sure you join our free Rockstar Productpreneur community – if you’re not already a member, all you need to do to join is head to catherinelangman.com/rockstar

Or, if you’re keen for some more in-depth help and support with this stuff, please just give us a shout! Whether you need help to learn and implement these things, or you’d like to outsource to our team, just head over to productpreneurmarketing.com and you can book in for a free strategy session.