What the trends all predicted, the data now confirms.
2017 was the year digital ad spend finally outpaced television, $209 billion (41%) to $178 billion (35%) worldwide:
But it’s not as though online advertising is a democracy. Towering above all other outlets, stand two giants: Google and Facebook. Unfortunately, while ebooks, white papers, and reports abound on how to master Google advertising … finding a reliable guide to Facebook advertising strategies is nearly impossible.
Two reasons …
Number one: myths, half-truths, and outright lies are everywhere. Would-be gurus spin their tales about “hacks” and tips offering entire courses based on little more than one or two successful campaigns. Number two: by and large, the real experts stay silent — quietly accumulating clients behind-the-scenes. Until now …
To cut through the misinformation, I reached out to over 30 of the best. Some names you’ll certainly recognize. Some, you won’t. And that’s exactly as it should be.
What follows is a detailed, data-driven guide to creating and optimizing a complete Facebook Ads funnel.
Download all 30+ Facebook Advertising Strategies as a Complete Guide Today
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be revealing expert strategies for each stage of your Facebook Ads funnel:
- Top-of-the-funnel methods for targeting the right audience, creating ads, and automating engagement through Messenger chatbots.
- Middle-of-the-funnel strategies for retargeting, aligning your ads and landing pages, and scaling campaigns without killing your results.
- Bottom-of-the-funnel approaches for upselling, cross-selling, and — of course — retaining your current customers to increase lifetime value.
The line up of experts and insights is incredible:
For our first installment, here are 13 Facebook advertising strategies focused on creating campaigns at the top of your funnel …
1. Align Your Audience and Offer with “Conversion Temperature”
Johnathan Dane, Founder of KlientBoost
There are really two major levers you can use when it comes to customer acquisition with Facebook ads:
The ad itself matters less if you know how to leverage your audiences and offers in combination.
Custom audiences are prioritized first, and less is more. Start with your smallest audiences — website or landing page visitors and email subscribers. They have the highest intent to convert.
Lookalike audiences are prioritized second and are usually much larger than custom audiences in prospect size. They’re a mirror of your best-performing audiences like people who have converted.
Lastly, you can deploy your Saved audiences, which are comprised of demographics, interests, and behaviors. These audiences are the largest and they are the least likely to convert on your core offer.
Once you’ve prioritized these audiences, you need to match your offer with their conversion temperature.
Custom audiences are the hottest — Volcano Lava — because they typically convert on your core offer the fastest; like a sale, a demo, a trial, or consultation. Lookalike audiences are warm — Lukewarm — so you may need to go higher up your funnel and offer them a CTA that’s an easier ask, like an eBook. And Saved audiences — the Ice Cubes — might perform best with lead ads or something that requires the smallest ask of all: e.g., clicking an article, watching a video, or just engaging with your post.
2. Warm Up Cold Audiences with Customer Testimonial Ads
Ryan Turner, Director of Facebook Advertising at Elumynt
For cold-traffic, customer-acquisition campaigns, focus on promoting bestsellers to 1% lookalike audiences built from your customer list.
In terms of the actual ads, we find that using testimonial-style copy with real quotes from customers works best for building trust with prospects who are not familiar with your brand yet. Real customer product photos and videos work great, too.
Start by optimizing your cold-audience ad sets for the “Add to Cart” event instead of purchases. This gives Facebook access to a good amount of conversion data. Decisions surrounding which ad sets to pause or scale should usually be based on cost-per-purchase and overall ROAS (return on ad spend).
One common mistake advertisers make with top-of-funnel campaigns is running unprofitable ads for too long just so they can build audiences.
We believe most brands should always be aiming to achieve a positive ROI on their spend — even when advertising to completely cold audiences.
Turning even a small profit on the front end makes scaling so much easier, and will allow your lower-funnel campaigns to contribute much more in terms of bottom-line profits to the ad account overall.
Screenshot of an early stage, profitable top of funnel campaign
3. Sell to the Winners by Targeting the Right Audience
Goldie Chan, Founder at Warm Robots
As simple as it sounds, make sure that you are targeting the right audience. Copy and creative only go so far.
For example, while working on a blockbuster movie product, we had several creatives up that had a very high CPA and not much difference in cost. When we tweaked that particular audience to skew more towards Europe, females, and a younger age demographic, we saw a significant drop in the CPA.
I figured this out by testing several age and location demographics (around the existing consumer base and surveys).
We realized that the younger end of the demographic was much more apt to consume a product where they felt that particular movie was both romantic and had an actionable cause tied to it. The older demographic was more likely to consume the product if there was a feeling of nostalgia and we also promoted a different film in the series (on DVD) to them.
This drove up ticket sales for the film franchise across the board. When we realized this, we were able to target the audiences that were more likely to consume the movie offerings that we were promoting.
4. Optimize Your Headlines for Clarity
Sam Hurley, Founder at OPTIM-EYEZ
As one of the most vital components of an ad, you must make your headlines 100% clear, succinct, intriguing, and ultimately relevant to your audience (if you want to successfully attract paying customers).
Always place yourself in their shoes. Your headline should also align perfectly with your visuals. I’ve seen some dreadfully misaligned ads in the past!
Test, test, and test some more. Run multiple versions of slightly tweaked variations and continuously optimize the best performers. Sometimes, a high-converting combo of headline and visual is just a few tweaks away. But don’t stop testing, even when you think you’ve found it.
Compel viewers to take action by letting them know exactly what’s really in it for them. Don’t use clickbait headlines only to fall short. Stick to your promises and deliver on all expectations conveyed. There’s no point in attracting clicks if those clicks are useless and won’t convert!
The following headline, which describes exactly what the audience would get as an end result, produced a 41.14% higher conversion rate than its more “creative” alternatives.
5. A Visual Is Worth a Thousand Clicks
Bill Widmer, Content Marketing and SEO Consultant
Copywriting is important. Targeting is important. Your offer is important. But none of those things matter if everyone scrolls right past.
The image or video you use in your ad is your attention-grabber. Then, and only then, will a user maybe read your copy and click on your offer. Luckily, you don’t have to be a graphic designer or creative genius to come up with a good image. You only need three things:
You probably already know about Canva — if not, you’ve been under a marketing rock. As for AdEspresso, they have a search engine on their site that shows popular Facebook ad examples for almost every industry and niche imaginable.
The least utilized of the three is psychology. Here’s what you need to know…
Shock value rocks. Whether it’s funny, weird, or downright disgusting, shock value stops people in their tracks. The picture below is weird, but it matches the product and the brand perfectly. The copywriting makes things even weirder. And that’s the point.
Next, you get 20% text on your image. Use it! The title and description of your FB ad are small. People won’t read it unless they stop to look at the image first. But your image text can be huge. Make the most of the space you’re given, especially when it comes to the transcript overlay on video ads.
Lastly, align your visuals and words around a single goal: action. Bombas does this masterfully by combining a product ad, explainer video, social cause, curiosity-inspiring copy, influencer marketing, and humor.
6. Recreate Your Best Organic Funnel
Avery “Azriel” Ratz, CEO of Ratz Pack Media
Want to know how to create the best possible Facebook marketing funnel? Look at your best existing organic buyers. These are the people that love your business and will buy every single product you sell. Dissect how they learned about you, how they first found you. What did you do that built their trust? What made them fall in love with your business?
Then, recreate that process!
For instance, I worked with a client who was selling a $300 product for kids. They knew what led most parents to buy organically:
- One of the parents found an article about them in TechCrunch
- They came to the website, scrolled through the home page, and read a few reviews
- After finding out the price they would tag their spouse in a post about the product, hoping that they too would be interested
With this process in mind, we built a paid funnel. We ran targeted Facebook ads featuring a short 30-second video about the product. When the parent clicked, they were brought to the same TechCrunch article, but we used a snip.ly link to track and redirect people directly to the home page after they read the article.
Initially, our plan was to retarget these people specifically asking them to tag their spouses. Then, retarget for the sale.
What we found was that the original ad did the job so well that people were sharing that post, tagging their spouses, and many of them eventually added the product to cart. The average acquisition cost was $2.50.
By understanding the organic funnel, we got a cold audience to:
- Watch a video about the product
- Click to an article
- Go to the homepage
- Share the product with their spouse
- Add the product to cart
By recreating the organic process, we could turn a group of people who had never heard of us into loyal followers. You can use this same formula to build the perfect funnel for your business.
7. Play to Stereotypes and Affinities
Josh Fechter, CEO & Co-Founder of BAMF
My best tip is to focus on playing to cultural stereotypes and affinities. For stereotypes, if I’m running an ad in San Francisco, I’ll use “Tech Bros” in my copy. If I’m running an ad in Los Angeles, I’ll use “wannabe models.”
When it comes to affinities, I use images that elicit the highest emotional response. For example, if I’m marketing local startup events to people in New York City, then I use a picture of New York for the ad rather than a startup event. The reason is — on average — people have a stronger emotional connection to their city.
The lesson here is the pictures you should use to generate the lowest CPL are often far from your first guess.
If you can combine both high affinity with a cultural stereotype, then you’ll generate a low CPL. Rule of thumb is funny stereotypes perform the best. Just make sure to find a balance — you don’t want to write anything that will get you in trouble.
8. Sequence Video Ads through Three Stages
Daniel Wallock, Marketing Strategist
You can sequence potential customers all the way through awareness, engagement, and conversion by using Custom Engagement Audiences.
Start prospects on a Why video (awareness), then — if they watch 10 seconds — move them to a How video (engagement). If they watch 10 seconds of that video, move them to a What video (conversion).
Most people create a ton of content around their What, which is the product or service they offer, but not a lot of content around their Why or How.
Using this method, you can make sure your potential customers are demonstrating interest while also teaching them Why you do what you do and How you do it. This method works because it allows you to truly build a relationship before selling.
9. Combine User-Generated Content, Social Proof, and Influencer Marketing
Daniel Snow, CEO at Social Cadre
Although there is an abundance of information with regards to targeting the perfect customer via data and Facebook ads, there is not enough discussion on the actual creative that should be used to target said people.
Oftentimes, marketers get so carried away with their analytics that they forget the reason they are using Facebook ads altogether: to market.
In addition to great targeting, a successful marketing campaign must also have great creative (whether it be picture or video) to match. This means that you must have a strong knowledge of the demographics of your core and prospective customers. That way, when they are served your advertisement, there is a higher probability of engagement.
Moreover, a great way to accomplish this targeted-advertisement creative is through UGC (user-generated content). Not only do UGC-based ads convert higher — UGC results in 29% higher web conversions than campaigns or websites without it — they are also cheaper to run in the Facebook ad auction system: UGC-based ads get 4x higher click-through rates and a 50% drop in cost-per-click than average.
Here is an awesome example of UGC being used to promote one of my products, the anti-gravity GOATcase:
As you can see, the high degree of social proof in the form of likes, comments, and shares enabled the advertisement to scale as well as to receive cheaper clicks and, in return, cheaper conversions. Moreover, through celebrity likeness — e.g., the combination of UGC and influencer marketing — it also reached targeted fans of Victoria who are only interested in the product due to her endorsement.
Once enough social proof was created via her targeted fans, it was then used for prospecting ads in new demographics. The social proof then gave the advertisement a considerably better opportunity to convert the individuals in these new audiences who had never heard of the anti-gravity GOATcase simply because they wanted to join the conversation and engage as they had seen their peers do.
Some amazing stats to consider during this campaign:
- CTR: 13.2%
- CPC: $0.02
- CPM: $3.21
In comparison, the best performing advertisement with traditional media garnered …
- CTR: 2.81%
- CPC: $0.15
- CPM: $4.43
If that hasn’t convinced you: UGC is essentially free to create versus spending thousands of dollars on producing your own video. Even better, you don’t have to guess the core demographics of your customer because your actual customers are the ones who are creating the content.
10. Answer Promoted Questions with a Messenger Bot
Dmitriy Kachin, Head of Partnerships at ChatFuel
A great workflow that Messenger bots enable you to execute is automatic responses to Facebook post comments. You can create a post with a question, encourage people to provide answers in the comments and promote it to your target audience.
As people leave their comments to the post, you can set up your bot to automatically respond to them in Messenger and thus capture this qualified and engaged audience (they went out of their way to engage with your post, right?) in your Messenger channel.
What this means is that you can later re-engage with all of these people directly by sending them a broadcast in Messenger, or subscribing them to a series of sequenced messages, etc. And all of the users will get your follow-up directly in their Messenger inboxes (which is much better than posting a follow-up on your Facebook page and relying on the algorithm to show it to a small percentage of your followers).
Take a look at the pinned post on this page. Lifetime Bulb is acquiring highly-qualified leads via this technique. And the cost per acquisition with this workflow can be around 80% less than in other channels.
11. Create “Context” through Content
Kevin Hutto, Founder of Clients Everyday
Once you build out the framework for your middle-of-funnel (MOF) and bottom-of-funnel (BOF) pages, ads, and audiences, the game then becomes all about building context for your business through top-of-funnel (TOF) content posted on your page.
The goal is to deepen the relationship with your prospect through content that reveals your character, creates connection, and increases credibility.
A big part of the work we do at Clients Everyday is guiding our clients in the creation of more context for their businesses. This is done through 12-20 pieces of strategic content created every month that we can then push traffic to TOF.
After the prospect consumes enough of this content, the prospect is then moved into the MOF retargeting sequence and the first offer is made.
As Facebook matures as an ad platform, clicks will continue to become more and more expensive. Because of this, it will be more important to do the deep work like this to create context as marketers will no longer get by just taking advantage of inefficiencies and arbitrage on the platform. When that day arrives, the businesses who win the context game will also win the internet.
12. Target Your Competitors’ Audiences
Gregory Ortiz, Owner of Digital Rooftop LLC
One of the most crucial aspects that we use to get new clients or customers is something many people are aware of … but it’s scary that more people aren’t.
Our first practice is to target people who have liked our competitors. For example, if you have something that would normally appeal to Tony Robbins’ customers, then target people who have liked his page! Facebook gives you all this data for free. Best of all, they’re more relevant than just going for people based solely on demographics.
This strategy is even more effective when you create separate audiences based on the demographic information you know is most relevant to your target market. This adds an extra layer of filtering that you can combine with messaging and visuals that overlap with both what you’re selling and what your competitors’ audience is already interested in.
13. Build on Live Videos with Paid Campaigns
Chris Wiser, CEO of Facebook Ads Guy
It is absolutely critical when using Facebook Ads that you utilize large engagement techniques to get people interested and warmed up.
You can do this in a variety of ways — whether it’s an Engagement Campaign with a static image and educational post or a Video Views Campaign.
One of my favorite techniques is doing a live video every day, then using a Traffic Campaign to drive as much engagement as possible. If you do this for 30, 60, or 90 days you will see your engagement go insane.
You can then retarget (or, remarket) to this audience with a more specific offer. This sequence gives you a much better chance for a sale and a much cheaper cost per acquisition.
Here’s an example of an original video ad, which was just one in a much larger series:
The Reach on this ad — note especially the Cost per Result — created a very warm audience:
Download the Entire Facebook Ads Guide
Very soon we’ll also be revealing strategies for the middle and the bottom stage of your Facebook Ads funnel, including …
- Middle-of-the-funnel tactics for retargeting, aligning your ads and landing pages, and scaling successful campaigns without killing your original results.
- Bottom-of-the-funnel approaches for upselling, cross-selling, and — of course — retaining your current customers to increase lifetime value.
Just in case you want all of it right now:
How to Optimize Your Facebook Advertising Strategies
There’s no such thing as perfect Facebook advertising strategies.
In fact, if there’s one thing these experts — and all 30+ contributors to the entire guide — make clear, it’s that what matters is aligning your product, your audience, and your ads.
Optimization is an iterative process. But that doesn’t mean you can’t start off on the right foot. Pay special attention to…
- Your audience’s temperature
- Your headline’s clarity
- Your visual’s stopping power
- Your funnel’s organic progression
- Your campaign’s sequencing
The common ingredient in successful Facebook advertising that is the same common ingredient in all sales and marketing: it’s not about you … it’s about them.
Optimize with that golden rule and you can’t go wrong.