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Running ineffective Facebook ads today is more expensive than ever.
Facebook ad prices are increasing every year. The latest report shows that the average cost per thousand impressions (CPM) on the social media giant has grown by 171% since January 2017, while the average CTR has increased by 136%. It doesn’t look like the prices are going down in 2018. And with Facebook’s recent announcement about its news feed updates, who knows how many more changes we can expect.
Small businesses are allocating increased funds to Facebook ads. In fact, digital ad spend grew by 23% in the first 6 months in 2017, and much of this growth is coming from small and local businesses, not big companies.
Simply put, more businesses advertise online, which leads to bigger competition. As a result, advertisers must pay more to outbid competitors and reach their potential buyers.
That said, running ads that don’t resonate with the audience is extremely costly today.
In this post, I’ll show you how to quickly spot whether your Facebook ads are underperforming and you’re reaching the wrong audiences. So that you can stop throwing your earnings down the drain and start looking for better ways to invest your money.
Red flag #1: Your ads’ relevance score is low
One thing you should know about Facebook is that it cares about its users and tries to show people ads that are relevant to them.
So, once your ad has reached at least 500 impressions, Facebook counts all positive and negative reactions your ad has received, analyzes user feedback, and assigns your ads a relevance score between 1 and 10, with 10 being the highest.
Regarding relevance scores, there are two things to mention:
1. Positive indicators – signs that your ad is relevant – depend on your campaign objective.
For example, if you run an ad that’s optimized for ”Engagement” and your ad receives a lot of likes and shares, its relevance score will be high.
On the other hand, if you optimize your campaign for ”Traffic” and people don’t click on your ads, then your relevance score will be low.
2. A ”good” relevance score depends on your campaign objective.
Facebook categorizes ad campaign objectives into three stages that correspond to the three stages of your customer’s journey: awareness, consideration, and conversion, where:
- Awareness ads are entertaining to catch the attention of potential new customers.
- Consideration ads are engaging to make people click.
- Conversion ads are selling to convince people to buy.
Now, keep in mind that people go on social media to socialize and for entertainment; they don’t go on Facebook to shop. Thus, users will naturally respond more positively to ads that are entertaining rather than promotional. That said, awareness campaigns will most often have a higher relevance score than conversion ads.
But to answer the question: what relevance score you should aim for?
My experience shows that well-performing awareness campaigns have relevance scores of 8, 9 or 10. Meanwhile, for consideration ads, it can be 5 and up, and for conversion campaigns, the relevance score is always the lowest – often around 3 or 4.
If your ads’ relevance scores are too low, here’s what you can do:
First, make sure you’ve chosen the correct marketing objective for your campaign and audience. For example, choosing the marketing objective ”Conversions” and trying to sell something to cold audiences that have never heard of your brand is doomed to fail.
Even if your initial goal is conversions (purchases), start with awareness campaigns that aim for reach. Warm up your audiences, then run conversion campaigns when they already recognize your brand.
Second, check your ad’s frequency or how many times people have already seen your one ad.
After seeing the same ad over and over again, people tend to get annoyed and bored – that’s called ad fatigue. When your ads frequency exceeds 5, be ready to receive more negative reactions and a lowered relevance score.
Regularly refresh your ads with new images and copy.
And third, see how actively people do what you want them to do. That is, if you aim for engagement – likes, comments and shares – and people are just ignoring your ads, you’re probably showing the wrong ads to the wrong people.
Either try more attention-grabbing ads or change the audience you’re targeting. Or do both.
Red flag #2: People perform the wrong clicks, or don’t click on your ads at all
Wait… what?! Is there really a right and wrong way to click on ads? For advertisers, there are.
Let me explain:
Facebook tracks 5 different types of clicks:
- Link clicks: clicks on ad links that take people to different destinations, on or off Facebook. For example, if a user clicks on your ad’s call-to-action button, on an image thumbnail, on a link in your text description, those are all link clicks.
- Outbound clicks: clicks that take users from a full-screen experience – ads using Facebook Canvas, which is basically a branded landing page within Facebook – to off-Facebook owned properties, such as your online store.
- Button clicks: clicks directly on the call-to-action button of your ad. Button clicks can be link or outbound clicks, or all at the same time.
- Social clicks: if your ad is shown to a person whose friends like your Facebook Page, and that person interacts with your ad in any way (clicks on the link, reacts or shares, etc.), these are considered social clicks.
- All clicks: includes all clicks on any part of the ad – on links, when sharing, adding a reaction or comment, as well as clicks to expand a photo or text description.
To analyze how your campaign is doing, Facebook pays special attention to the ”right” clicks, or those that go hand in hand with your campaign objectives, which means you should be paying attention too.
That is, if you optimize your campaign for product sales, you should look at ”Button clicks.” However, if you run an awareness campaign, looking at ”All clicks” will let you understand how your ads are performing.
When you know which clicks matter to you, you can look at total or unique clicks. I usually look at unique clicks, which lets me see how many individual users my ads have engaged.
The number of clicks or click-through-rate? That’s the question.
You can look at the absolute number of clicks (how many people in total clicked on your ads), or the percentage of times people saw your ad and performed a link click (CTR). Which one is a better measurement of your ad success? I’d say, it depends on your ad reach, or how many people have seen your ad.
Let’s say your ad has received 700 clicks – is that a lot or not? Well, if it’s shown to 1000 people, 700 clicks is a hell of a good result. If the total reach is 500k people, 700 clicks is… meh.
Then, a 4% click-through-rate – a lot or not? Again, if your ad is shown to 500k people, 4% means that 20k people have clicked on your ads. Not bad! But – if your ad has reached just 100 people and 4% have clicked… that’s just 4 clicks.
That said, the bigger your total audience and reach are, the more you should focus on your CRT. And the smaller your audience and total reach is, the more I’d suggest you look at the relative number of clicks.
If your ads don’t get clicks or get the wrong clicks:
First, start with your marketing objective. When you choose your marketing objective, you tell Facebook what it should optimize your campaigns for.
That is, if your objective is ”Engagement,” you’re telling Facebook: ”Hey, show my ads to people who tend to like, share or comment posts!” And that’s what it does.
Start with setting the goal of your campaign – what do you want people to do? Need users to click on your link and go to your website? Then change your marketing objective to ”Traffic”.
Second, improve your ad images and copy. Sometimes the problem is that ads are too general and therefore don’t speak with the audience.
Speak directly to your audience. For example, if you target businesswomen, use an image of a woman in your and a headline that speaks to these ladies.
Red flag #3: People click on your ads and bounce
Sometimes, Facebook may think that your ads are great when in fact they’re not.
Facebook looks at how people interact with ads while on their platform. That said, it can’t judge the relevance of the ad after the person has clicked away from their newsfeed and landed on your website.
So, how do you find out that the ad isn’t really performing well, even when Facebook stats say it does?
Two words: Google Analytics.
The free tool tracks and reports website traffic, letting you see from where people come to your webpage, and what they do on it. That is, Google Analytics will explicitly show you what the people who’ve clicked on your ad do when they’re on your website.
The metrics I look to evaluate my ad performance quickly are Bounce Rate and Avg. Session Duration, where:
- Bounce Rate shows the percentage of your website’s visitors that leave your site after viewing only one page.
- Avg. Session Duration shows how long on average people spend on your website.
Now, to see how your one specific Facebook campaign is doing, go to your Google Analytics account, click Acquisition, and then under Campaigns click All campaigns. Find the Facebook campaign you want to check on.
To understand whether or not your Facebook campaign is performing well, compare its Bounce Rate and Avg. Session Duration to the same metrics of the traffic from other referrals and other campaigns. Or, if you’re running your very first campaigns, use your website’s averages as your benchmark. Either way, while paid traffic most often experiences higher bounce rates and shorter sessions than organic and direct traffic, if the results are by 30% worse than the averages, you may want to change something in your ads.
See how your ads are doing compared to other online sellers: according to Kissmetrics, retailers driving well-targeted traffic have bounce rates of 20-40%.
If your ads drive traffic that bounces:
First, see if the landing page you’re driving your traffic to is mobile optimized. 56.5% of Facebook users access the service only on mobile, which is 1055 billion monthly active users. So, if you’re spending your money on mobile ads, it’s more crucial than ever to make sure you land your traffic on smartphone-friendly pages.
If you realize that the landing page you drive your traffic to is not optimized for mobile users, disable the ad on mobile devices and show on desktop only.
Does the landing page look okay to you? See if your audience agrees!
Find the campaign you want to check and click on it to open. Then, click on Secondary Dimension → Users → Device Category. Compare your mobile bounce rate and session duration to your desktop and tablet metrics. If the difference is significant, improve the landing page for better mobile experience and, meanwhile, disable your ads on mobile devices.
Second, make sure your landing pages are consistent with the ads. That is, your ads should be in visual and contextual harmony with the landing pages they lead to.
When you advertise a specific product in your ads, always link directly to these products on your website. There’s really nothing more annoying than clicking on an ad of something you like, then be taken to some general landing page and left wondering where to find the product you were interested in.
Also, if your ads are beautifully designed and polished, it’s important that your website looks just as good. And if you promise something in your ads, make sure you keep that promise when the person has landed on your shop. In other words, use similar visuals and messaging in both your ads and website to ensure a consistent experience for your visitors.
Give your ads some time and never stop improving
Here’s how Facebook works:
In the very beginning of the campaign, it will spend your budget to show ads to different types of people and learn who is most likely to take the desired action. It’s called the ”Learning phase.”
Whenever you edit or optimize something, the learning process restarts. If you’re not patient and start improving your ads too soon, Facebook doesn’t get the chance to generate any meaningful information, and your ads are not given a chance to reach their full potential.
So, when you’ve launched a new campaign or optimized something in an existing one, give your ads some days to pick up the speed.
In the meantime, you should never stop improving your ads. Test new audiences, landing pages, visuals and messaging, test mobile-only and desktop-only ads, and new ad placements. Because no matter how your ads are doing, there’s always room for improvement.