What’s the most important social media platform? Even for B2B marketers, Facebook wins by a mile. A recent survey found that 48% of B2B marketers say Facebook is their most important platform.
While Facebook may still be important, Facebook organic reach continues to fall off. Organic reach is now in the single digits for most marketers, and it’s widely expected to dwindle to zero fairly soon in a phenomenon known among marketers as “Facebook zero.”
But few marketers are abandoning the platform. They’re just shifting into paid reach. 65% of B2B marketers use Facebook ads.
To help you get more results out of your Facebook B2B ads, we’ve put together this collection of Facebook ads best practices. Apply these after you’ve answered 5 Essential Questions to Ask Before Running a Facebook Ad Campaign.
Create better ads with the new Facebook Ads Library tool
Facebook gave us a free new tool for competitive research recently. It’s the Ads Library. Built to boost transparency on the platform, the Ads Library is also an excellent way to see which ads your competitors are running.
While the Ads Library doesn’t show ad performance, the longer an ad has been running, the more confident you can be it’s working. If you see an ad that’s been running for a week or more (and it’s for a company you know tracks their advertising), not only is it doing well… it’s also outlasting ad fatigue.
Also look for groups of similar ads that launched the same day. See if any of those ads were paused while other ads in that same group kept running. That’s a sign of a marketer testing a group of ads, learning that a few weren’t performing, and then pausing the underperforming ads.
It takes a little time to reap the benefits of this tool, but the returns are there if you look for them.
For example, by looking at Trello’s Facebook ads, we learn:
- They’re testing ads (more than one ad is running at the same time).
- They’re testing using a photo of a person versus a travel view.
- They aren’t testing their call to action.
- They’re trying to get people to try using their app for planning vacations. Sometimes finding a new way to use a product can open up a whole new market.
- These ads have been running since May 16th, which is about three weeks prior to the day this screenshot was taken.
- They like the ad copy, “Dream. Plan. Go.” They’re using it in every ad.
- They are using a couple of video ads (not shown in this screenshot).
Create ads that help your audience feel what it’s like to succeed with your product
Really want to stand out from the stream of information on Facebook?
Make people feel.
It may be challenging for B2B marketers to evoke emotions (especially compared to their B2C peers) but it’s actually not all that hard. Just show people what they’ll feel like when a certain problem is solved. Then present your products or services as the solution.
This is a simple way to make great ads. Just figure out how people want to feel when they’ve gotten all the benefits your products or services deliver. To do this, check if your business has gotten any reviews that show how real customers have felt after a positive experience with your company.
This is often the secret to a successful ad – it not only evokes a feeling, but it evokes the feeling your target audience is looking for. Perhaps that’s freedom. Or competence. Or being in control. Or being worry-free. Whatever your audience wants… that’s the emotion to evoke in your ads.
After you’ve identified a handful of emotions your audience is hoping your product or services will give them then it’s just a matter of crafting the right ad to convey those feelings. Test out different creative elements in your ads to see which handful of elements communicates those good feelings best.
Here’s one example of a feeling of victory. This woman feels like she’s won because she launched a great campaign.
Or maybe you want to evoke a feeling more like what SurveyMonkey describes here, where their users feel like champions or visionaries?
Pick a great image
76% of marketers say single image ads are still the most effective advertising feature/format on Facebook. But while image ads work, it all depends on the image.
The example ad to the right illustrates what not to do. Don’t pick an image that doesn’t:
- evoke the theme or content of your offer.
- evoke some feeling in the viewer. This image is anonymous and flat.
- specifically say what you’re offering. This ad doesn’t say what date the webinar is on, whether anyone who registers will get a recording, or who’s presenting the webinar. Even the tease about how “new data reveals why your current customers are the solution to your holiday sales goals” is vague. People prefer specific stats.
Here’s another ad that uses several specific statistics. It’s also animated. Even a simple, 5-second ad with some movement will get far more engagement than a static, dull image.
Just in case you were wondering, that same study said the three least effective Facebook ad features are:
- Collection ads
- Gif ads
- Slideshow ads
“Be patient. In my experience, it can take anywhere from 1 day to 6 months to get your online advertising profitable.”
– Noah Kagan, who has spent $3 of his own money on Facebook ads and who helped build the Facebook ads platform
Don’t quit using Facebook ads in the first week. Or the first month. Or even the first quarter. As with Google Ads (or almost any advertising channel), it can take a while to see a return.
Seasoned marketers know to manage performance expectations with their bosses and other interested parties. They know they need at least a month before they can hope to generate a positive return from their ads. That may mean allocating a significant chunk of ad budget just to get the machine working. Even $100 a day is $3,000 a month.
It isn’t the marketer’s “fault” because they can’t get an account working in a short amount of time. Ad testing, for example, takes a certain amount of time to work. Ads must accrue a certain number of conversions before a marketer can say which ad has “won” a test. And a marketer may have to run several – or even several dozen – tests before they crack the code on which creative elements really work.
Even if a marketer runs only a four-day test, and even if they only need to run four tests before they find an ad/audience combination that’s profitable… that’s 16 days of advertising. And many testing professionals strongly prefer to run tests for a full week. Four full-week tests… is a month.
It’s not just testing that takes time, either. If you use Campaign Budget Optimization (and all advertisers will be forced to use it come September), you’re basically stepping back from bid management and letting Facebook’s algorithm manage your ads. You assign it a goal (say leads), specify what you want to pay… and step back and let the algorithm do its thing.
The upside to this is the algorithm can often return the leads you want for the price you want to pay. But even the algorithm takes a few days to find just the right combination of ad creative, placements and audiences.
It simply takes time to make ad campaigns profitable. Even when you’ve got pros managing your account. Even if you’ve got world-class creative.
Ignore vanity metrics
Don’t judge your ads based on their click-through rates. CTRs are largely a vanity metric. Focus on conversions and value per click. Tie your advertising spend into actual business results wherever you can, just like you do with all your other marketing efforts. And for goodness sake, stop buying likes.
Do this even if you have to guestimate some values. An educated, quantitatively-based guestimate is better than nothing at all.
Alas, most of your fellow marketers are not doing this. 65.61% of marketers use post engagement for their Facebook ad campaigns’ objective.
Disclaimer: Yes, Facebook will suppress the reach of your ads a bit if their engagement rates are low. Just accept that and keep focusing on the metrics that matter. Grow your business – not Facebook’s profits.
Pour over your Facebook ads reports
Best practices are a helpful starting point, but they have one fatal shortcoming: They don’t expressly address the special conditions for your company. Because you’re in B2B, and many Facebook best practices are tilted more to B2C marketers, this limitation is even greater.
Reports overcome all that. They are a precious source of information about exactly which ads have worked for your business, which audiences convert best, which devices generate a return, which call to actions and types of images or videos perform.
But before you can really squeeze insights from your Facebook Ads Manager reports, you need to install the Facebook pixel. There are instructions for how to do that here.
Don’t roll your eyes if adding a tracking pixel seems like an overly simplistic suggestion. It’s surprising how many marketers have not installed the pixel. But if you have already, imagine a smattering of applause. You’re ahead of the game.
Establish an ongoing testing program
Facebook makes testing ad creative and audiences quite easy. If you haven’t been testing, it’s definitely time to start. A year from now, your advertising campaigns could be far more profitable.
Just a one percent improvement over 52 weeks results in 66% more results by the end of the year. That’s with no increased budgets, and with very modest improvements.
One thing an ongoing testing does require is a way to keep track of your tests. Most testing professionals use notebooks, but you could also use a shared spreadsheet with simple information like:
- Date test started
- Date test ended
- What was tested (only test one element at a time)
- Statistical confidence of the test results (you can get them here for free)
- How many conversions for each variation tested
- The conversion rate for each variation tested
- Any issues with the test
- Any major holidays or events that occurred during the test
- A field for notes
Things you can test in your ads include:
- The image
- Call to action
- Ad copy
Each one of those elements can have potentially unlimited different options. Images, for example, have a large effect on ad performance, and it would be easy to test dozens of images if you had the time and a large enough audience.
Most of the time, though, you won’t have enough time or a large enough audience. You only get 52 tests to run every year. Choose those tests wisely.
B2B marketers can do well on Facebook. Very well. There’s no reason to avoid this platform because it tilts towards B2C use. Thanks to the ability to laser-target your audience and to use retargeting for lead nurturing, along with all the ad testing capabilities and ad formats available, if you aren’t investing in Facebook advertising, you are missing out on a valuable stream of new business.