Day 17: Set up round 1 of Facebook Ads
1. Tweet today’s quote → 2. Get to work!
Now that you’re familiar with your audience’s interests and potential targeting ideas, it’s time to make your first ads.
There’s one very important thing to keep in mind here:
In your first several rounds of ads, you’re essentially buying data on your potential customers. Do not expect to make a boatload of sales immediately. You have to be patient and give Facebook’s pixel time to ‘warm up’ and understand the right audience for your store. This is likely to take at least a couple of weeks and a couple hundred dollars – if not more.
Today, we’re going to:
- Learn the basics of Facebook Ads strategy, and why you can’t expect immediate results
- Install the Facebook pixel on your website
- Run your first round of ads using Facebook’s split testing feature
Now that you have a bit of ‘expectation management,’ let’s get started.
An overview of Facebook Ads strategy
Ideally, you’ll learn to become a Facebook Ads guru and learn how to really do well with the platform.
But I’m not going to lie – that will take time and money.
Since our 21 days together will end in less than a week, I’m going to show you how to set up and get started. Hopefully, you’ll be able to build on this knowledge and keep educating yourself after the 21 days is over.Oberlo made an amazing ebook on Facebook advertising – check it out and keep learning!
“How do I avoid burning money on ads?”
My answer: It’s a whole lot of testing to find what works. But there are some notes to keep in mind about your Facebook Ads strategy:
- You’ll likely need to run more than 10 ads over the course of at least 2 weeks before the Pixel is ‘warmed up.’
- This can be done in ‘rounds’ where 2 or 3 ads run at a time, each ad with a budget of $5–$10 a day. (So anywhere from $10-30 per day total.)
- The purpose of this initial approach is to ‘buy data’ to get insights into your ideal customers, then use that data to tweak your next ads. It likely won’t result in a bunch of sales.
- For every ‘round’ of ads, we’ll change only one element between each variation, like the ad copy, the visual, or the call-to-action (CTA). This is called A/B testing or split testing. By changing only one element, we know exactly what influenced each ad’s performance – if you change everything, you won’t know which elements led to the different results.
- The first rounds of ads will be for the ‘View Content’ conversion goal, then later ‘Add to Cart,’ then finally ‘Purchase.’ Don’t worry, we’ll go through this.
Okay! Let’s go.
Install your Facebook pixel
The key to all the magic that will happen is your Facebook pixel. Facebook defines the pixel as an ‘analytics tool’ that helps measure how effective your advertising is by understanding the actions and behaviors of people who visit your website.
You can think of the pixel as a ‘smart’ tool that progressively learns about the people who are more likely to buy, and then shows your ads to people who fit those characteristics.
Let’s install it.
In the top right corner of the Facebook menu, click the down arrow and go to ‘Create Ads.’
Click ‘Ads Manager’ at the top left and select ‘Pixels.’
Click the ‘Create a Pixel’ button.
Name your pixel. I recommend naming it after your store. Then click ‘Create.’
Next, you’ll be asked how you want to install it. If you’re logged into Shopify in the same browser, it will know (creepy Facebook). Select ‘Set Up Using Shopify (online).’
It will give you your pixel ID, which is a numeric code.
Copy that code.
Now, we’ll paste it into Shopify – just like we did for our Google Analytics tag. Don’t close out of Facebook yet.
In another browser tab, go to your Shopify dashboard. Go to the left sidebar under ‘Sales Channels’ ➜ ‘Preferences.’
Right underneath the Google Analytics section, you’ll see ‘Facebook Pixel.’ Paste in the code and click ‘Save’ at the bottom of the screen.
Now go back to Facebook.
It will ask you to ‘Send test traffic’ to make sure the pixel is working. Type in your store’s URL, click ‘Send test traffic,’ and wait for the little red dot that says ‘No activity yet’ to change to ‘Active.’ This can take a few minutes.
Important: Disable any ad blockers you have, because they’ll prevent the pixel from becoming active. Amanda learned this the hard way after staring at this screen for 20 minutes wondering what she did wrong.
Once the red dot turns into a green dot and says ‘Active,’ click ‘Continue.’
Aaaaaand you’re ready to make your first ads.
How to design your first ads
Like I mentioned, it’s extremely unlikely for your first several ads to be real ‘winners’ – this goes for even the biggest Facebook Ads experts.
But there are some general guidelines for creating ads that have better chances of performing well:
- Use really good visuals (also called ‘creative’). If your products don’t come with good photos or videos, find a free (or even paid) stock photo. Trust me, it’s worth the $12-ish investment.
- Don’t add too much text on your creative itself. Facebook recommends against this strategy, and typically, users don’t respond well to a lot of text on visuals.
- Experiment with different types of creative – a single photo, a ‘carousel’ that lets users swipe through multiple photos, and a video can all be effective.
- Write clear, compelling copy. You only have a few sentences. Clearly communicate your product’s value and speak your customer’s language 100% of the time.
- Focus on one product or offer for a campaign. The more specific you get, the easier it will be to build value and create a lead funnel that gets them to click and eventually buy. Plus, if you focus on more items or offers in a single campaign, it will confuse the results and defeat the purpose of our split testing in the first place.
- Every URL should link to a specific product’s page – not a collection page, and absolutely not your home page. Amanda made this mistake by linking to her blanket scarf collection page in her first round of ads. I believe it cost her a few sales because visitors didn’t immediately see the item in her photo.
For Amanda’s first round, she chose to focus all ads on her ‘buy one, get one free’ sale on blanket scarves. She ran 3 ads, using the exact same text (also called ‘copy’) and only changed her 3 photos.
Here are the 3 ads she ran:
- A ‘split screen’ with a woman wearing 2 different blanket scarves, with text saying “Buy one. Get one.” Her logic was that this one clearly communicates the offer.
- A very clean, more ‘high fashion’ style image of an unsmiling woman wearing a blanket scarf with a plain white background.
- A close-up photo of a woman smiling warmly, wearing a blanket scarf on what looks like a city street. Note the twinkling lights in the background that match the holiday season.
Which ad do you think performed the best?
Amanda thought that #1 would win, but she was dead wrong. The winner was #3 by a landslide, then #2… #1 actually performed the worst!
And this is why we do these tests. You can’t operate on assumptions – you have to keep an open mind, try new things, and let the data guide your decisions.
Building your first round
Like I mentioned earlier, your first ‘round’ of ads should include 2 or 3 ads running at the same time, with only one element that’s different between them.
Let’s go through Amanda’s process for building her first round of 3 ads.
In your Facebook, go back to the ‘Manage Ads’ section.
Go to the top left menu and click ‘Ads Manager.’
In the ‘Campaigns’ tab, click ‘Create.’
Click ‘Select Guided Creation’ so we can make full ads.
Under ‘Marketing objective,’ click ‘Conversions.’
Name your campaign something specific so that you have an easy reference point later, when you have a bunch of campaigns, ad sets, and ads and want to easily tell them apart. Amanda named hers ‘VC – BOGO Blanket Scarf’ since this campaign will be set to ‘View Content’ and she plans to test only the BOGO offer.
I recommend naming yours ‘View Content – [whatever you want to focus on].’
- ‘View Content’ means that Facebook will try to show your ad to the types of users who are most likely to click the link to visit your website (view your website content). This is based on their past behavior interacting with other Facebook Ads.
- Once you have some strong data here, you should retarget the customers who viewed your content. This time, you’d use the ‘Add to Cart’ conversion to target the users who are most likely to add your product to their shopping cart on your site.
- Then later, you should target the ‘Purchase’ conversion. This is where the magic happens.
Next, click on the ‘Create Split Test’ option and click ‘Continue.’
On the next page, go to ‘Website’ and click ‘View Content’ from the dropdown menu.
(Don’t worry about the ‘events received’ in this screenshot – Amanda had some previous ad activity. Yours won’t show this.)
Then, in the ‘Variable’ section, select ‘Creative’ in the dropdown.
Next up is the audience targeting.
- Location(s) you want to target – choose several if you’re unsure
- Age group – leave this pretty broad so the data can tell you (for example, Amanda predicted that her main audience would be 18-35, but she extended to 45 just to be certain)
- Gender – leave ‘all’ if you’re unsure
Take note of the right side, where it shows you the audience size with each new addition you make. Ideally, this should be between 200,000 and 500,000 for your first ads. So keep adding interests until you’re around that number.Take note of the right side, where it shows you the audience size with each new addition you make. Ideally, this should be between 200,000 and 500,000 for your first ads. So keep adding interests until you’re around that number.
Next up is audience interests using the research we did yesterday… and pretty much this whole time.
Type in about 10-20 of the interests you looked up yesterday – consider all the things you’ve seen doing internet research on your niche and products so far. Make educated guesses, but it doesn’t hurt to add some ‘extras’ and let Facebook do its thing.
Under ‘Placements,’ select ‘Edit placements’ and uncheck all the boxes except ‘Feeds’ under Facebook and Instagram.
In the ‘Delivery optimization’ section, select:
- Optimization: Conversions
- Conversion window: 7 days after clicking
- Bid strategy: Lowest cost, then set a bid cap at $5 per day
Then choose the total budget you want to spend per day, or across the lifetime of the campaign (basically the total spend).
Amanda chose to spend $21 per day, split evenly. So $7 per ad for 3 ads. (Facebook recommends that you spend more money… but when you don’t have it, you don’t have it.)
On the next page, you can start designing your ads.
Name the first ad. Name them based on the characteristics that are different from the others. Amanda named hers ‘Ad A – Woman in City’ because she knew what this meant.
Choose your creative format. This one is a single image.
Then upload the first photo.
Fill in the details of your ad in the next section. Note that it’s a live preview, so you can see how it’ll look after every change. And you can look at how it will show for all your placements too. So in this case, you can see how others will see it on mobile, desktop, and Instagram.
- Text: the main text of the post. You’ll link the button to a URL on your site, but you should also paste a shortened version of the same link inside the body. You can use bit.ly for this.
- Website URL: the page you want to point to – this landing page should directly mirror your offer, or you’ll get poor results
- Headline: what they’ll see below your photo, next to the call to action button
- Call to action: choose what the clickable button will say
- News Feed link description: additional text – this only shows on desktop, not mobile
Then click ‘Continue to Ad B’ at the bottom. Fill in a name for the second one and scroll down again.
You’ll see that Facebook duplicated the settings from Ad A, so you just have to change the one element you’re testing.
When you’re done, scroll to the bottom and click ‘Test Another Ad’ if you want to do 3, or ‘Confirm’ if 2 is enough.
I strongly recommend that you just leave these alone for at least 3 days. It takes a few days for Facebook to ‘stabilize,’ so the results for the first couple of days can be misleading.
We’ll check back on Day 21 and discuss options for your next moves once you have some results.
I wish we had the time, but I couldn’t possibly cover all there is to know about Facebook Ads. That’s why I strongly recommend that you keep learning more as you go.
Day 17 Recap
✓ Installed your Facebook pixel on your website
✓ Got familiar with the general split testing strategy you’ll be using from now on
✓ Learned some ‘best practices’ and traits of top-performing Facebook Ads
✓ Set up your first round of split testing ads based on yesterday’s research
Score. See you tomorrow when we look at Google Analytics to see how your store is performing so far.