15 Minutes

How to Effectively Optimize Facebook Ads

Today, Ash Gupta, a data scientist, Facebook Ads optimization pro and former Tech Lead at Google Adwords tells us 11 tips on how to optimize Facebook Ads.

11 Hacks to Optimize Your Facebook Ads

After the iOS update and the removal of many targeting options, Facebook Ads isn't as profitable as it once was.

However, if you optimize your Facebook Ads correctly, it's still extremely profitable, even in 2022.

After analyzing 2700+ Facebook Ad campaigns, I've found 11 Facebook Ad optimization strategies that'll 4-5x your Facebook Ad conversions.

1. Optimize Your Sales Process

Before we dive into the nitty gritty details of Facebook Ads, ensure your sales process is optimized on your website in order to maximize metrics such as conversion rates, average deal size (or average order size) and customer lifetime value (CLV). The best ways to do this are:

  • Sell your value upfront by demonstrating how your product can fix customer's pain points
  • Get reviews from other websites and Reddit to build customer trust (and minimize their risk)
  • Master the art of upselling
  • Use marketing analytics tools to analyze your sales data
  • Develop strong customer relationships

2. Choose the Right Campaign Objective

One of the first things you’re prompted with when starting a Facebook Ads campaign is the campaign objective.

There are 6 options to choose from: awareness, traffic, engagement, leads, app promotion and sales. 

If you’re running Facebook Ads for an ecommerce business, then you should be choosing “sales.”

Picking the right campaign objective is extremely important, because it lets Facebook know how you want your ads to be optimized.

3. Install Facebook Pixel

Facebook Pixel is a small snippet of code that you copy and paste onto your website. 

Think of it like a cookie: It tracks who your visitors are, their IP address and what pages they visit on your website.

This information is extremely valuable to your business. 

Imagine this:

A person visits your ecommerce store. They click on the “Sports Nike Hoodie” page, but don’t end up on the “thank you for purchasing” page (i.e. they left without purchasing).

Since they’ve shown interest in purchasing this product, you can retarget them by showing them an ad of the “Sports Nike Hoodie” page with a limited-time discount, converting them into a customer.

4. Write Killer Ad Copy

Using Polymer Search, a tool for analyzing Facebook ads data, we analyzed 2700+ ad copies to determine what works best.

A few things stood out. Here’s some tips on how to write effective Facebook Ad copy:

1. Use emojis! Every ad should include them. Not only do they make your ad look more natural and less like an ad, but we noticed ads that include them see higher engagement and return on ad spend (ROAS). Adding in the 5-star emojis has also shown to boost CTR and ROAS: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

2. The first line needs to be a hook: It’s important to note, the first line is the first thing people will see, not the title, so it needs to hook the audience better than the title. 

3. Ads that read like ads perform poorly. Meanwhile, ads that read like ordinary Facebook posts and blend in with everything else tends to perform the best. Avoid overtly promotional marketing tactics (e.g. social proof, or creating urgency). These have shown to reduce ROAS and CTR. People browsing Facebook aren’t looking to have advertisements shoved down their throats.

4. Lighter marketing tactics like mentioning “free shipping” or “promotions” have a more positive effect.

With that said, there are exceptions to this rule. If someone has already visited your site and shown interest in a product, having a limited-time discount might incentivize them into buying the product. 

5. Target High Converting Customers

One of the most common reasons for an ad not converting well is targeting the wrong audience. You can have the best ad copy and creative in the world with 100% CTR, but if the people who click on the ad aren’t interested in your product, then your conversion rate is still zero.

There are two types of targeting options: retargeting and cold prospecting. Cold prospecting means you’re targeting people who have never heard or seen your product before. Retargeting means you are targeting an audience who are already warm to your product.

With cold prospecting, there are several Facebook Ad targeting strategies:

1. Nail down your demographics. These include location, age, gender, education level, relationship status, and household income based on ZIP code (US only). For example, if you’re a beverage company that only ships to certain countries, you only want to target people who are of legal drinking age in those countries. Showing them to people outside your target demographic would be a waste of ad budget.

2. Interest targeting: Targeting by interest can be a hit or miss strategy. By analyzing our datasets with Polymer, we noticed that most of the time, it’s best to do “broad targeting.” This means not restricting your Facebook Ads to a certain interest, but letting Facebook’s AI figure out what’s best.

Whenever you add an interest, it alters the audience size you reach through your ads. We noticed that when targeting US customers, the best audience size is around 500,000, but your mileage may vary.

3. Lookalikes: Lookalike audiences are people who follow your page or are similar to the people who follow your page. You can set the similarity based on a scale:

The higher the percentage, the more broader the audience, but the less similar they are to your target followers. This may reduce the conversion rate.

Lookalike audiences were very popular a few years ago, however, nowadays broad targeting is the preferred choice. If your Facebook ads aren’t converting well, try removing all interest targeting and lookalike audiences.

The broader your audience, the more room you give Facebook’s AI to optimize your ads for people who are likely to convert.

6. Exclude Audiences That Don’t Convert

Using the “exclude audience” feature, you can exclude people from seeing your ad. This is an extremely easy way to optimize ad spend.

An easy hack is to exclude all audiences who’ve already converted on your website by visiting a certain page. If someone already bought a phone they were looking for, they likely won’t convert again. 

However, if you’ve noticed they viewed another product, you can show them a different ad.

7. Use App Tracking

App tracking lets you target users based on the other apps they use on their phone. It can be an extremely powerful targeting feature.

Developers can retarget users who stopped using their ad, or tell users about new features they’ve implemented, or show them newly released products.

Due to it’s privacy invasive nature, Apple has changed their default app tracking from “ON” to “opt-in” which makes it much harder to use app tracking for iOS users. With that said, a large portion of users aren’t using iOS and app tracking is by default “ON” for most Android phones.

8. Retarget Users

Retargeting is one of the most useful tactics for established businesses. 

If a user clicked on your ad, visited your website, but didn’t convert, you can either ignore them and treat it as wasted ad spend, or retarget them. 

Important Note: Retargeting isn’t always a good idea. You should run tests and look at the data. 

I’ve personally found that retargeting people who visit your website only once didn’t bring the best results. Instead, I focus on engagement metrics:

  • People who added items into shopping carts
  • People who clicked through your catalog
  • People who visited multiple times

These are the people who I retarget. 

Of course, different businesses will have differing results. It depends on several factors such as how often will people buy these products (e.g. pizza vs. furniture), the purchase lifecycle, and how many products you offer.

Using a Facebook data analysis tool like Polymer Search will allow you to optimize your targeting campaigns much better.

Based on a lot of testing, the best retargeting campains offer a discount, add some urgency (deal ends in 3 days), and have an attractive creative. 

9. A/B Test Everything

A/B testing is useless for smaller campaigns, but any serious marketer who deals with budgets in the 6-figure range, or upper 5-figure range should be A/B testing everything:

  • Different icons
  • Images vs. Videos
  • Headings
  • Ad Placements
  • CTA buttons
  • And more…

Facebook Ads manager makes it extremely easy to run A/B tests.

10. Run Ads During Optimal Times

Running ads 24/7 isn’t the most optimal strategy. There are certain days and hours where it’s more profitable to run Facebook ads.

Unfortunately, no-one can tell you when is the best time to run ads, because every business is different. For instance, an entertainment business might perform better on weekends, but a SaaS company might perform better during weekdays.

By analyzing your Facebook Ads data, it should tell you when are the best days and hours to run ads. 

For easier analysis, Polymer automatically detects dates and groups them into hours, days, months or years:

To change the bucket size, simply click the 3 dots on the “date” column and choose “settings.”

Having this feature makes data analysis 10x easier.

11. Choose the Right Creative Type: Images vs. Videos

It’s a highly debated topic, of which one is better, images or videos. 

But one thing that most people can agree on is that videos result in higher engagement and CTR. Meanwhile images tend to result in lower cost-per-mille (CPM), and sometimes even customer acquisition cost (CAC).

Ultimately, it depends on the product you’re promoting and how well you produce the ad creative. The best way to find out what works best is by doing a split test:

Keep the text and CTA exactly the same, but change the ad creative type. 

This way you have a controlled environment for testing. Some other things to consider are:

  • Videos take much longer to produce than images. If you’re running a low budget campaign, images might be more profitable just based on how easy they are to produce.
  • Marketers can also take advantage of videos by retargeting users who engaged with their videos. 
  • Since images are much faster to produce than videos, some marketers prefer to use them because they can create multiple image ad creatives and test them against each other for best results.

Overall, our data suggests that it really depends on the content and the type of product you’re promoting. The best way to find out is through an A/B test.

How to Optimize Facebook Ads

Step 1: Steal Ideas From Competitors

“Bad artists copy, great artists steal.” 

To find the best ads from your competitors, go to the Meta Ads Library and search for competitors. 

Ads that have been running for the longest time are likely good performers. Learn as much as you can from these.

If you see a Facebook Ad, you can also see more details by clicking "why am I seeing this ad?"

Step 2: Adhere to Ad Creative Guidelines

Make sure to adhere to these ad creative guidelines:

Images: 1200 x 628 pixels 

Video: 600 x 315 or 600 x 600 minimum 

Carousel Image: 1080 x 1080 pixels

Step 3: Identify Your Target Audience

Test doing a broad targeting ad vs. a lookalike audience ad to see which performs better. Sometimes it's better to just use broad targeting and "trust the algorithm."

Generally speaking, I personally like to include demographic details, but leave the interest targeting blank for Facebook’s AI to optimize that. 

To get the most out of your targeting efforts, I recommend doing some tests and using a data analysis tool like Polymer to gather insights:

Optimize Facebook Ads Targeting

Step 4: Retarget Using a Limited-Time Offer

After you run your ads, the next step is to retarget those who've shown interest.

Whilst it's possible to just retarget all those who clicked on your ad, you have a much higher rate of profit if you target those who've engaged with your products in some ways such as people who visited multiple pages or added an item to cart but exited.

Target these people with an attractive ad creative and a limited time offer such as 20% off - only available for the next 5 days.

For ecommerce stores, the best discounts to offer are around 10-30%. These limited time offers perform extremely well if retargeting, but avoid using it for cold audiences.

Step 5: Install Facebook Conversion API

Facebook Conversion API, used to be known as Facebook Server-Side API, allows businesses to deliver personalized ad campaigns whilst maintaining data privacy. Essentially, it is a tool that allows you to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns and improve website tracking.

Even though Facebook Pixel already offers tracking, Conversion API allows for more accurate lower and mid funnel tracking that doesn't rely on cookies and gets blocked by ad blockers. Facebook Pixel only shows what the customer does on your website (e.g. they visit a page) but doesn't show what they did off the website like off-website purchases. Combining the 2 will allow for more full funnel visibility.

To connect Facebook Conversion API to your shopify store, follow the steps here.

how to set up facebook conversion API

We hope you found this guide useful for optimizing your Facebook Ads!

If you struggle with data, or want a tool that allows you to interactively dig into your Facebook Ads data to extract insights that'll skyrocket your conversions, make sure to check our Polymer Search.

Posted on
September 9, 2022
under Blog
September 9, 2022
Written by
Ash Gupta
Former Tech Lead for Machine Learning at Google AdWords (6 years) and a quant developer on Wall Street. Co-Founder & CEO of Polymer Search.

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