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Facebook ads have quickly become the best way for leading companies to grow sales. A platform that helps you easily reach most of the world’s internet users sounds like a marketer’s dream.

Facebook generates billions of dollars from ads. They make it easy for you to get started with ad campaigns, promising great results. Unfortunately, without a good strategy many marketers see their ad budgets swiftly disappear into Facebook’s deep pockets.

You need a rock solid strategy to grow your sales with Facebook ads.

Luckily for you, we’ve picked 6 Facebook ad strategies from professional marketers. Make them a foundation of your performance marketing strategy and see your results go up.

1) First build relationships, then sell

Most marketers make a mistake by treating Facebook ads like they would Google AdWords. While both are great tools for reaching your customers, you should approach them very differently.

Google AdWords is a great source of leads for established products or categories. People use Google to search for things they want.

On the other hand, Facebook is not meant to meet consumer demands.

People don't go to Facebook to make decisions. They go there to avoid making decisions.

Putting it simple, most people use Facebook to procrastinate, talk to their friends or watch cat videos. Not to buy what you’re selling.

why do you use facebook

Research done by The Atlantic on why people use Facebook. Your product is not on the list

Having said that, Facebook is still one of the best tools for driving sales growth. But only if you have the right strategy.

The best way to grow your sales with Facebook ads is to start by building relationships with your audience. On average you need 7 touch points with a potential customer before they are comfortable enough to buy from you.

Create these first interactions by running ads that drive awareness and offer something of value. It could be a useful article, free e-book or a thought-provoking video.

Give your audience a chance to get to know your brand first. When you’re ready to sell, they will be much more receptive and it will reflect in your conversion rates.

Norwegian fashion brand Linjer perfected this strategy by first reaching people with ads that tell an emotional brand story. A young designer moved to Norway from Canada and used all her savings to start an affordable luxury goods brand. Who doesn’t love a good underdog story?

linjer facebook ad

First build a relationship: The first ad tells an emotional success story of a young designer

Once you’ve read the article and visited Linjer’s website, you became more emotionally attached to their brand. You know the people and believe that the products are of high quality. When Linjer follows up with a sales ad, you are much more likely to make a purchase.

linjer Facebook ad

Then sell: Linjer has already built a relationship and can now try to sell their products

The first rule of Facebook ads – first build a relationship, then sell.

2) Use the right tools

Most of Facebook’s revenue comes from advertising. It’s no wonder that they offer multiple ways to create and manage your ads. You can control your campaigns from the Ad Manager, Business Manager or Power Editor. And if you’re feeling particularly lazy, you can even promote posts directly from your Facebook page.

There’s nothing wrong with using those tools if you all you need is boosting an occasional post. However, if you are serious about making your marketing data-driven, the native Facebook tools are not enough.

To run Facebook ads like a pro you need to:

  • Quickly gather and analyse large amounts of marketing data
  • Use the data to optimise campaign performance
  • Automate the optimisation to scale your campaigns

While it’s possible to get data insights and create automated rules in the Facebook Ad Manager, more sophisticated tools can yield better results.

Tools like AdEspresso and Smartly take your Facebook ad campaigns to a whole new level. While they will increase your marketing budget, the potential upside is worth the extra cost.

These apps allow you to quickly create thousands of ad variations and collect detailed performance data. You can then improve the campaigns with automated optimisation rules.

Consider this example. Your company is launching a new product, and you need to identify the best performing ad elements. With AdEspresso you can quickly launch 45 different ads, testing different interests, titles and images.

adespresso buyer personas testing

AdEspresso lets you create unlimited ad variations at a click of a button

The process that takes 15 minutes with AdEspresso would take you an entire day of fiddling with the Facebook Ad Manager. Most importantly, AdEspresso not only shows the ad variations that perform best, but also gives you the data to explain why.

3) Know your buyer personas

No tool in the world can make your Facebook ads perform well if you don’t know who your customers are.

Targeting the wrong audience will not only bring poor results, but also increase your advertising costs. Facebook’s algorithms will punish you for serving ads to people who don’t care about your product. As a result, impressions and clicks will cost more if your ad relevance score is low.

The relevance score is a combination of many metrics: Engagement, Clicks, Conversions, Click-Through Rate, Negative Feedback and others. Therefore, this number is the quickest way to estimate if you’re targeting the right people. Anything less than 7 should have you concerned.

facebook ad relevance score

Facebook ad relevance score

As you optimise your Facebook ads to get closer the ideal customer, your relevance score will go up. This tells Facebook that your ads are more interesting and should be served at a reduced cost.

Accurate buyer personas should be based on data. Luckily, you can also use Facebook itself to refine your personas.

Start with a generic assumption about your ideal customers. Then narrow down the audience by adding extra targeting to your ads. Gender, age, location and interests are good first steps. Let’s take a look at this example from Facebook itself:

facebook ad relevance score

Notice how the relevance score goes up as you narrow down the target audience

Collect ad performance data to see if you are moving in the right direction. After a few weeks of testing you will know your perfect customers better than they know themselves.

We wrote an entire blog post on how to identify your buyer personas using Facebook data. Check it out if you want to become a rock-star at pinpointing your ideal customers.

4) Rely on custom and lookalike audiences

Knowing a thing or two about your perfect buyers will only take you so far. To be truly efficient with your Facebook ad targeting, you have to start using custom and lookalike audiences. These special features allow you to create laser-focused targeting for your ads.

Getting started is easy! Simply place the Facebook Pixel code on your site, and it will start collecting data on every visitor. You can track people who view your pages, submit forms, make purchases and take other important actions.

Facebook analyses this data to create custom audiences made of people that have done certain things on your website. For example, you can isolate a group that has read a specific blog post and target them with personalised ads.

Facebook custom audiences

Facebook custom audiences

Custom audiences work particularly well when you have thousands of website visitors per month, or a large customer database. You can reach them with personalised and relevant ads with high conversion rates.

The disadvantage of a custom audience is that it only becomes effective when it contains at least several thousand people. If your business is just starting out, chances are you won’t have a large custom audience. That’s where lookalike audiences come into play.

Facebook lets you create lookalike audiences made of people that are the most closely related to your custom audiences. You can isolate the top 1% of the population that has the most in common with your existing customers. That allows you to instantly expand your reach to a large number of potential buyers.

Take a look at the example below:

Facebook lookalike audience

Facebook lookalike audience made of 1% of the Finnish population who most closely match the source custom audience “IGG Orders”

Remember to regularly update the source of a lookalike audience to keep your ads performing well. For best results make sure the source custom audience has at least 300-500 people. The bigger the original audience, the more accurate the lookalikes will become.

As a rule of thumb we recommend to always start with 1% audiences. When the time comes to expand your reach, you can experiment with 2 or even 5% lookalikes.

5) Keep testing your Facebook ads

Multivariate testing is the main ingredient of a successful Facebook marketing campaign. Without testing it’s impossible to know which ad elements perform well with your audience. Even the best marketers are often surprised to see the “worst” looking ads outperform all others.

Continuous ad testing is the only surefire way to grow your sales with Facebook ad campaigns. At Automate we often go through thousands of ad variations before finding the one that delivers exceptional results.

Luckily, AdEspresso allows you to test any visual, semantic, technical or demographic parameter by creating separate ad variations. Depending on the nature of your business, some of them may have a dramatic effect.

Here are some ideas of what you could optimise in your Facebook ads:

  • Title
  • Body text
  • Image
  • Image vs Animation vs Video vs Carousel
  • Call to action
  • Link description
  • Ad placement (Facebook / Instagram / Audience network / Right column / Desktop / Mobile)
  • Location
  • Language
  • Age group
  • Gender
  • Relationship status
  • Education
  • Work
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Devices and operating systems
  • Time of the day and day of the week

Combine these data points with custom and lookalike audiences to create unique combinations of potential customers. Keep an eye on your campaign performance to see what’s working. If your numbers go down, kill the experiment. If they go up, keep digging, because you might just be onto something!

Facebook lookalike audience

Adding criteria to a lookalike audience

Don’t rest on your laurels after you’ve finally tested your way to a great working ad. Even the best creatives need to be replaced to avoid tiring out your audience. Keep track of the Frequency score that shows how many times each person has seen your ad. A good rule of thumb is to keep the frequency under 4.

facebook ad frequency

Keep your Facebook ad frequency under 4 for best results

Finally, remember that there is no such thing as the perfect ad. Constant optimisation is the key to high performance. Always keep trying to make your campaigns perform even better.

6) Use Facebook marketing automation

To run successful tests you need to turn them on and off at the right time based on complex data. If you run hundreds of variations, manually tracking their performance becomes an impossible task. That is where Facebook marketing automation comes in.

We see marketing automation as the pinnacle of data-driven campaigns. It allows you to make automated decisions based on large amounts of user data. Your campaigns not only become more effective and scalable, but deliver personalised messages at the right stage of a buyer journey.

AdEspresso has a built-in way to keep your campaigns optimised. Use your marketing KPIs to create a set of rules that all your campaigns must follow. If some of your experiments don’t hit the target, they will be automatically stopped. Your budget will then be refocused on the remaining campaigns, until only the best ones remain.

adespresso automatic optimization

AdEspresso automatic Facebook ad optimisation

Consequently, automating your Facebook campaigns can save you hundreds of hours and help grow your sales faster. However, we recommend to only use automation after you’ve created a solid campaign strategy and set measurable KPIs.

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