There’s a ton of articles about Facebook ad optimization.
However, most of them are full of basic advice like “Install a Facebook Pixel” or “Create a Facebook audience.”
That’s not very helpful, is it?
Optimization implies that your campaign outcomes will improve as a result.
It separates the successful unicorn ad campaigns from the rest.
This article is about the Facebook ad optimization hacks that really help you take your campaign to the next level.
In this guide, you will learn how to:
- Increase your ads’ click-through rates (CTR)
- Lower your ad campaign’s cost-per-click (CPC)
- Reach even more high-ROI audiences
- Lower your cost-per-acquisition (CPA)
- Increase your sales results without increasing your ad budget
If you want to reach all your target audience members and outpace your competition, you’ll need to optimize your campaigns both before and after publishing them on Facebook.
The good news is that this time and effort will be worth your while.
So what are these 12 powerful Facebook ads optimization hacks I’m talking about?
Read on and find out!
1. Optimize your Facebook ads’ likes and shares
The likes and shares under your Facebook posts (and ads) are a pure form of social proof. If others like the ad, it means the product must be pretty good.
When setting up a Facebook ad campaign, you’ve got two options, the default being: create new ads for every ad set and campaign.
Often, the “Use Existing Post” option goes unseen.
However, it’s an incredibly efficient way of optimizing your ads’ likes and shares.
The “Use Existing Post” gives you the opportunity to gather all the campaigns’ post engagements under a single ad.
If you’ve been wondering how some advertisers have hundreds or thousands of likes under their Facebook campaigns, chances are they’re using the same optimization hack.
The easiest way to set up multiple ad campaigns using the same post is to first publish the promotional post on your company’s Facebook Page.
Next, you can select this post every time you’re setting up new ad campaigns or new A/B test variations.
2. Use the FTO (fast take off) method
Sometimes, it can take a couple of days before you have enough campaign results to start optimizing.
Especially when you’re working with small budgets, the campaign take-off can take some time:
That’s why I like to accelerate the optimization process by using the fast take off — or FTO — tactic.
Here’s how the FTO method works:
- When launching a new campaign, assign Daily or Lifetime budgets that exceed your planned budget
- You don’t want to use the Accelerated Delivery as Facebook will then focus on the speed of ad delivery over quality and cost
- After your ads have 10,000+ impressions, you can evaluate what’s working and what needs improvement
- After the initial campaign takeoff, you can lower your budget back to match your planned total budget
However, keep in mind that you need to give Facebook at least 24 hours to adjust the performance of your ads after every new edit.
Every time you make substantial changes to your campaigns, consider waiting for at least 24-48 hours before drawing any conclusions.
3. Optimize your ad schedule
Are your Facebook campaigns running 24/7, reaching the target audience regardless of the time or weekday?
An important part of Facebook ad optimization is analyzing your Facebook ad accounts. And I’ve noticed that there are always some days and hours that outperform the rest.
To see which weekdays contribute to the most conversions at the lowest CPA, go to your Facebook Ads Manager reports and use the Breakdown menu to break down your campaigns by Day.
You can use the performance data from multiple Facebook campaigns to discover the best time for advertising.
Next, you can set your campaigns on a custom schedule, so that you only reach your prospects at the time with the highest potential.
In AdEspresso, we have the audience inspector tool which allows you to recognize the best performing time of the day for your campaigns.
This data allows you to quickly see exactly what hours of the day (in either the impression time zone or your ad account time zone) are performing the best, according to the KPI most important to you.
You can then use this information to apply a dayparting schedule to your campaigns, making sure your campaign is running only at the most engaged hours of the day.
Another reason to keep your ad campaigns on a custom schedule is to decrease Ad Frequency – people will see your ads less often, and won’t get bored with them as quickly.
AdEspresso has the option to create custom optimization rules that can work as a “frequency cap” that you can apply to all of your campaigns!
4. Fight ad fatigue with ad rotation
AdEspresso analyzed how ad frequency affects the CTR and CPC of Facebook ad campaigns. Here’s what they found:
The more people see your ads, the more bored they’ll get.
This means that after your target audience has seen your Facebook ad for four times or more, the CPC will increase significantly.
So how can you optimize your Facebook ad campaign to avoid people getting tired of your ads?
Here’s a simple Facebook ad optimization hack for fighting ad fatigue:
- Create several ad variations with different Facebook ad designs
- Set up an ad campaign with multiple ad sets and different ads, and schedule every ad set to be active on a different weekday
This way, people will see a different ad every day and your ads won’t seem repetitive.
This optimization hack has been especially helpful when running campaigns with small audiences, e.g. remarketing campaigns.
In that case, people may see your ads a couple of times per day, meaning you should take extra care not to display a single ad creative over and over again.
5. Optimize your ad placement
When advertising on Facebook, your ad placement has a huge impact on advertising costs.
So much so, that, according to AdEspresso’s data, the CPC can vary over 550%, depending on different ad placements.
To uncover your top-performing ad placements, log in to Facebook Ads Manager and use the Breakdown menu to break down your campaigns by Placement.
After you’ve discovered your top-performing ad placements, go ahead and optimize your campaigns accordingly:
- Increase your bids on the top-performing ad placements
- If an ad placement performs below all expectations, simply remove it from your ad set
6. Always A/B test your ideas
One of the key parts of Facebook ad optimization is finding out what works.
And what better way to discover new best-performing ad creatives, messages or audiences than by running a quick Facebook A/B test.
For example, AdEspresso regularly tests new ad designs.
However, you shouldn’t A/B test everything.
When searching for Facebook ad A/B testing ideas, think which ad element could have the highest effect on the CTR and conversion rate.
I recommend that you start by testing your:
- Ad design
- Ad copy — especially the headline
- Unique value offer
- Ad placements
- Call-to-action buttons
- Bidding methods
- Campaign objectives
7. Test highly differentiated variations
Many Facebook advertisers make the mistake of testing too many ad elements at once.
For your experiment results to be relevant, you need to collect at least 100 conversions (i.e., clicks or leads) per variation before making any conclusions. Even better if you can wait until you have 300 or 500 conversions per variation.
When working with small advertising budgets, waiting for so long can be pretty frustrating.
To discover new engaging ad elements quicker, use the following formula:
- First, test 2-3 highly differentiated variations to find out which general theme works best.
- Take the winning ad from the first test and expand on its variations in the next Facebook A/B test.
This way, you save the time and resources you would have spent A/B testing multiple variations of all your initial ideas.
8. Select the right campaign objective
As you set up a new Facebook ad campaign, the first selection you’ll have to make is choosing the campaign objective.
The campaign objective tells Facebook what’s the ultimate goal of your advertising campaign, and helps its algorithms optimize your ad delivery for best results.
So basically, you’re telling Facebook how to auto-optimize your ad campaign.
It is critical that you select the right Facebook advertising goal during the campaign setup process as it will determine your ads’ delivery and cost-per-result.
But how can you know which one of the 10+ campaign objectives is the right one?
Always choose the campaign objective that matches your advertising goals.
So for example, if you’re after new trial signups, select the “Conversions” objective.
Or, if your goal is to increase brand awareness in a given location, select the “Local awareness” objective.
This way, Facebook will know how to optimize your campaign’s reach and ad delivery.
9. Exclude “converted” from your target audience
Another way to expand your campaign’s reach without breaking the budget is optimizing your Facebook and Instagram targeting.
It doesn’t make sense to keep delivering the same ads to a person who has already converted on the offer. These leads should be moved to the next stage of your marketing funnel and targeted with new messages.
For example, if you’re promoting a free eBook and someone downloads it, you shouldn’t spend additional ad budget on displaying your ad to this person again.
Instead, you can create a Facebook Custom Audience of the converted and exclude them from your campaign’s audience.
To exclude past converted from your Facebook audience:
- Create a Custom Audience of people who have visited specific web pages (e.g. your thank you page or a blog article)
- Use the EXCLUDE feature when setting up your ad campaign to stop targeting people who have already converted on this particular offer.
10. Set up auto-optimization rules
Did you know that you can set up automated optimization rules in Facebook Ads Manager?
This feature is called Facebook Automated Rules. And it’s available for free to anyone advertising on Facebook.
If the rule conditions are satisfied, four things can automatically happen:
- Turn off your campaign, ad set or ad
- Send notification to the ad manager
- Adjust budget (increase/decrease daily/lifetime budget by…)
- Adjust manual bid (increase/decrease bid by…)
And while Facebook’s busy on the auto-optimizing your ads based on your set rules…
…you can turn your focus to brainstorming new campaign ideas.
How to set up Facebook auto-optimization rules:
- Go to Facebook Ads Manager
- Select one or multiple campaigns, ad sets, or ads
- Click on the “Edit” icon in the right-hand menu
- Click on the “Create Rule” button
- Set up your automated rule’s conditions
For example, you could tell Facebook to pause any ad that reaches the frequency of 5 ad views.
Or lower the bid on ad sets with a high cost-per-result.
I also recommend that you also set up an email notification to receive an overview of the last 24h automated changes to your campaigns.
11. Use geo-targeting
If you run a brick-and-mortar business, then you definitely want to be using Facebook’s geo-targeting options.
Geo-targeting allows you to show ads to people within a specific geographic area. This can give great results, since the more relevant ads are to your audience, the more likely they are to convert.
If you already use local awareness ads on Facebook, then you know that geo-targeting works by allowing you to target audiences in specific locations.
You can target ads based on…
- Congressional district
- Zip or postcode
What you may not know is how to use geo-targeting to attract high-value customers.
Whether you’re a cake shop looking to sell your cakes for high-end private events or a stationery shop wanting to position itself as a luxury brand, high-value customers can be a boon for your business.
And the best part is — you don’t need to increase your ad budget.
Let’s take a look at how it all works.
First, create a new ad and set it to target a geographic area.
In this example, we’ve used the Drop Pin option and set it to a one-mile radius. Let’s imagine we’re a real estate company looking to break into the Manhattan real estate market, and our target audience are first-time home sellers.
As you can see, that will show our ad to 710,000 people — and, to most of them, it won’t be relevant.
So, how can you narrow them down? Here are 4 ways.
#1: Targeting by behavior and demographic
To narrow the target for our real-estate company, we focus on people who are “likely to move” according to data that Facebook provides.
We also decrease the age range to exclude people who may be too young to be considering selling their homes.
Finally, we set an income bracket and net worth target. However, we leave a wide range that will help us understand which demographic our ad performs best with.
This brings our target audience right down to a much more reasonable 2,800 people, which is fantastic for your Facebook campaign budget optimization.
#2: Targeting by geographic exclusion
Let’s say we decide to divide Manhattan into different regions and assign a region to each team member. Each realtor is responsible for the Facebook ad optimization in their region.
A good way to exclude regions in this case would be by zip code, as shown in the image below.
You can also exclude multiple zip codes, although if you narrow your target audience too much, Facebook will not be able to run your ad, as you can see from this example:
#3: Targeting by geographic behavior
Of course, people who are in the same place are there for different reasons.
Some live there, some are visiting, and some may have passed through recently — which demographic you target depends on what you’re selling.
Fortunately, Facebook gives you the option to choose so you can get your ads in front of the most relevant people.
#4: Targeting by custom lists
If you have a clear idea of your ideal customers’ geographic locations, another option is to target them using custom lists,
For instance, you can target multiple zip codes based on your targeting criteria. For our real estate agency, that might be the zip codes with the lowest house prices nationwide.
With this information, we can target potential high-value customers in different areas of the country.
12. Get creative
I know you know this already, but it bears repeating.
Even with all the amazing optimization hacks I just showed you, you still need to stand out from the crowd in the noisy world of Facebook ads.
Here’s why. People notice an entertaining ad before they know what it’s about, then read the copy afterward.
It pays to get creative. It pays to think outside the box.
Let’s take a look at an example of how well creativity pays — a successful Facebook ad from Promo by Slidely.
Promo is a B2B company specializing in video marketing, so it makes sense that they chose, well, a video, for their ad campaign.
What makes it brilliant is that rather than the sleek, professional angle you might expect from a B2B business, they chose a cute little kid dancing.
Not only is he cute, but small business owners may relate to his faulty dancing as an analogy for how running a small business can feel.
Most importantly, it makes us laugh, and appeals to the audience’s pain points while promising solutions makes us want to find out more.
Here’s the full ad as it appeared with the copy:
In terms of engagement, the results speak for themselves: 2.2 million views, 4.2 thousand reactions, 594 comments, and 509 shares.
But was the campaign successful?
Well, Promo’s goal for this campaign was to get people to sign up for free trials.
And they succeeded — their CTR increased by 42% compared with previous campaigns, showing that creativity is more relevant than ever for conversions.
Facebook Ad Optimization Case study #1: AURA QUE
AURA QUE, a UK-based brand that imports quality, handmade products from Nepal, faced a crisis when COVID-19 struck the UK in 2020.
As a wholesaler, the company relied on trade shows for the majority of their business, where retailers would place orders for the upcoming season.
Trade shows were canceled as part of the response to the pandemic, and the closure of retail businesses impacted their suppliers, too.
As a result, AURA QUE lost 96% of their revenue.
Knowing they needed to act fast in the face of these new circumstances, they followed AdEspresso’s advice and implemented a direct-to-consumer eCommerce strategy and used Facebook ads to target new customers.
What they did:
With a Shopify website and Facebook business page already in place, AURA QUE were able to set up their first ad campaign in a short space of time.
Since people in the UK were under shelter-in-place orders, they decided to promote items for wearing around the house, starting with these eco slippers:
Knowing that many people were turning their hand to baking during lockdown, it also made sense to promote homeware, such as these kitchen gloves:
They also remarketed to potential buyers by using dynamic ads to remind them about the items they had previously browsed.
Then, they incentivized them to complete the purchase by offering a 10% discount:
Why it worked:
AURA QUE quickly identified current trends related to the restrictions of movement, then marketed these items to an optimized audience.
Then, they optimized their audience by creating a lookalike audience based on previous customer profiles imported from Mailchimp.
Optimizing their target audience had stunning results for AURA QUE.
In just one month, they had recovered the revenue lost from trade shows by replacing it with online retail purchases — while spending less time and money.
Some of the other results of the campaign were:
- 320 times more Facebook post impressions
- 15% more Facebook page likes
- A tenfold increase in website traffic
- More email subscribers.
Facebook Ad Optimization Case Study #2: Emma Kate Co
Emma Kate Co is a travel-inspired stationery and lifestyle brand created by designer Emma Kate.
Her most popular items are annual planners, which means that the majority of sales happen in the second half of the year.
Knowing this, Emma wanted to maximize her visibility during this key period to increase pre-orders and sales, so she came to AdEspresso for help.
What they did:
Emma decided to enroll in the AdEspresso Concierge Program.
Using AdEspresso tools, Emma was able to split test multiple video and photo ad designs and select winning strategies to optimize her campaigns.
She also built custom audiences to remarket to people who interacted with her page, while excluding those who had already converted.
She also split tested her audiences based on their interests, combining the results with lookalike audiences to create fully-optimized audiences.
Why it worked:
Split testing both the ad designs and using AdEspresso’s analytics tools allowed Emma to quickly choose the best-performing ones.
At the same time, optimizing her audiences allowed Emma to find the winning combinations to target her ideal customers.
Emma started working with AdEspresso in 2018, and she sold three times more planners than she had the previous year.
Not only that, but they were sold out by the beginning of November.
The following year, Emma repeated this success by increasing her sales threefold once again and selling 95% of her planners before Christmas.
Facebook ad optimization is a continuous process of trial and error. While it’s not an easy process, it is certainly worth investing the time and effort since Facebook ads are still one of the best ways to reach new customers.
Using the Facebook ad optimization hacks outlined in this article will help you improve the performance of your ads without increasing ad spend.
Any hacks you’d like to add to this list? Leave a comment!