Back in 2015, we wrote about 9 secrets that Facebook Ad professionals use to create amazing, compelling, highly-clickable designs.
Since then, Facebook has introduced a plethora of powerful new targeting features and worldwide social network ads spend has increased by several billions of dollars—with Facebook bringing home the vast majority of that bacon.
All that advertising means that the competition for users’ attention is hotter than ever.
To help you win over your fans, we’ve added seven new tips to get your ads to pop, write copy that appeals to your audience’s psychology, choose images that hit them where they live, and more.
A real Facebook Ads Pro is always learning new tricks and putting new tools into her toolbox. That’s key—if you stop learning in this world, you’re going to fall behind faster than you say “CPC.”
That’s why we decided to add to our 9 tips with a full 7 new ones: give them a try and let us know how it goes in the comments below!
If you want, you can click here and go straight to the new content, but if you want the whole design… keep on reading!
9 (classic) Secrets the Pros Use to Create Great Facebook Ad Designs
Facebook Advertising can be tough. And it’s getting tougher every day. As more advertisers realize the potential and jump onboard, the increased competition can quickly turn a winning ad into a money-waster.
After managing hundreds of thousands of dollars in Facebook Advertising (and wasting lots of money making every conceivable mistake), I still learn new, surprising things with every new campaign I create.
In the end, however, the success of a Facebook Ad comes down to just two critical elements:
- Great design (attracts users’ attention while creating the desire for your product).
- Laser-focused targeting (displays your ad only to an audience of potential customers).
Here are the 9 most effective tips I’ve learned about creating amazing Facebook Ad Designs that will excite and entice users to buy your product!
1) Always Test Multiple Designs
I can not stress this enough. Never assume anything. Always test everything. No matter what your level of expertise is or how long you’ve been advertising on Facebook, always test both your ad’s design and its targeting.
Every time you’re creating a new campaign, take the time to come up with at least 4 different Facebook Ad Designs and then test each one. For example, you might test two different images with two different copy texts (2 images x 2 texts = 4 variations).
As you might have guessed, here at AdEspresso, we love illustrations. Every post has a unique design and we use them for advertising as well, but we have discovered that that strategy was somewhat off. While illustrations perform pretty well and are great branding, an ad with a picture of a person performs far better:
Look at that! The Ad showing a person performed nearly 2 times better than our beloved mascot.
So, remember: test everything, even the craziest ideas. Then mix it up to keep things fresh: vary both copy text and images to reduce Ad Fatigue and steer clear of high ad Frequency, which can decrease ad effectiveness.
2) Create Buyer Personas
Most businesses have different sorts of customers with different needs. By creating Buyer Personas, you not only improve your Facebook Ad Designs, but you serve your customers better, overall.
For each potential customer type, write down a persona. Man or woman? Profession and job title? What’s the biggest problem she/he’s hoping to solve by using your product?
Once you’ve created your buyer personas, design a Facebook Ad (paired with laser-focused targeting) for each one, directly addressing their pain points. Here’s an example of two potential AdEspresso Ads, one aimed at Startups and one aimed at Media Agencies:
Very different value propositions! For Startups, we highlight their desire to grow as quickly as possible. For Agencies, we address managing Facebook Ads more quickly and with better results.
3) Add Social Proofs
Do you know what the most influential emotion in a purchase decision is?
Of course, I’m not suggesting that you should give your product away for free (although sometimes you should). I’m just suggesting that you need to address customers’ fears by adding Social Proofs to your Facebook Ad Designs.
A great social proof that reduces fear are testimonials from famous people. Having a VIP endorse, your product immediately gives you credibility and removes a level of fear. It can also be expensive, of course.
If you don’t have testimonials, you can still leverage your large user base. Check out this ad from Dropbox. Despite being well known, Dropbox still highlights that they have more than 100,000 businesses relying on them! That’s a testimonial in itself.
Can you imagine how users respond? 100,000 businesses?! Wow! If everyone and their sister are using Dropbox, there must be a reason. It must be a great product, and so I have no fear jumping onboard. How can all those people be wrong?
4) Use Call-to-Actions
Why? Because a good call-to-action decreases friction. If a user clicks your ad and arrives on your landing page, it won’t need to waste time figuring what to do next. He’ll already know and quickly proceed to perform the desired action.
He’ll know because you’ve prompted him in your Ad with a Call-to-Action like “Download our eBook…,” “Subscribe to our newsletter for a chance to win…,” “Take the survey and receive $10 off…,” etc.
By the way, here’s a post we recently published on advanced Call-to-Action strategies on Facebook.
5) Choose images that stands out
If advertising is a war, then Newsfeed is your battlefield. And a very crowded one it is.
Therefore, carefully select an image that will stand out from the crowd. You might also try to add some visual contrast like the ad here. Honestly, I don’t like this tactic as it looks a bit tacky/spammy and therefore is bad branding. It does tend to work, however.
A better strategy is to use Instagram-like filters on your pictures. Be creative but remember, while the image needs to stand out, it should not be offensive or too strong. That would be against Facebook’s rules, and your ad will be rejected.
6) Address your users’ rational and emotional sides
We think we’re intelligent animals who always act rationally, but that’s only partially true. Our emotional side has a lot to say when it comes to buying.
A simple list of product features might convince the rational self in some users but has no effect at all on their emotional self. Our emotional self-doesn’t care about features, that part of us wants benefits.No one wants to become a millionaire just to have money. They want the beneficial lifestyle that comes with being rich. Likewise, you don’t buy a product for its features. You buy it to solve a problem and, thereby, to make your life better.
In your Facebook Ad designs, therefore, address both the rational and emotional side of your users. Here’s a great example:
7) Be consistent
Like Call-to-Actions, consistency will reduce friction and help your users complete the desired action. If someone clicks on your ads, it’s because they like the image, your message, and what you’re offering.
After clicking, they should end up on a landing page that reinforces what they saw in the ad. Use the same images and wording, just go into more depth describing your product and why they should buy it.
People decide if they like a website in seconds. If you don’t hook them immediately, you lose them. Imagine what would happen if, after clicking an ad for red sports shoes on Facebook, you ended up on a generic page with hundreds of sports shoes without one that is red. You’d leave immediately, right?
This is a crucial thing that so many advertisers overlook! After looking for a good example for more than half an hour, I gave up, and quickly found a typical error:
Look at that; I click on a very specific ad with a pink shoe… and on the landing page, there’s no trace of it. And no mention of the 55% discount promised.
8) Put the right ad in the right place
Correct placement of your Facebook Ads is critical and, ideally, you want to optimize your design for each placement.
- Desktop Newsfeed: Great for engagement and generating sales & leads. Supports longer copy and link description.
- Desktop Right Column: Less effective but cheaper. Images are smaller and text less readable. Works well for retargeting users who already know your brand. Use an image they’ll recognize to catch their eye.
- Mobile Newsfeed: Great for engagement & Mobile app installs. As we saw in a recent post, mobile users tend to click “Like” a lot. The Copy is shorter, so be careful. While conversion rates on mobile are often deceptive, mobile is great for discovery. Users will discover your product on their phones… then buy it the next day on their desktop.
Check out this ad below. It was in my right column, but it was clearly meant for the Newsfeed. The text is simply too small and, therefore, unreadable. The copy has the same problem. It’s just too long, and I don’t even know what the ad’s about!
9) Always Be Credible
Trust and credibility are fundamental. Without them, you’ll never convince a user to buy your product, give out their email address, or establish any relationship.
While this should be common sense, I see ads all the time that do not appear credible and so immediately jump turn me off as spammy. Point #6 above describes how you appeal to the emotional side of your users by highlighting the benefits of your product, but this does not mean you should over-promise or, worse yet, lie outright.
A self-improvement course can surely help your career. A service like AirBnB can help you earn extra money from an unused bedroom. But would you advertise either with a picture of someone driving a Ferrari or having fun on a Yacht? That would be far too much of a reach, right?
Check out these two ads:
I can easily believe that a new start-up can guarantee me $100 per month – or even up to $1,000 per month. But when we start getting into very large numbers, this can lead to doubts about your brand or company’s credibility.
For example, the “$25 Million Dollar Swipe File” implies that the file you are receiving is worth, or will lead to, 25 million dollars.
While the business that advertises this may have actually earned such a high amount of money with this file, some may perceive the dollar amount as exaggerated given the anonymity and brevity of the claim.
10) Use the psychology of color to your advantage
If you’re not harnessing the psychological powers that different colors can have, then you’re missing out on a vital creative force that every top Facebook ads pro is using.
90% of all the snap judgments that we make about products can be traced back to color, according to a study in Management Decision. Here are some of the major science-backed trends in how people perceive colors that you should keep in mind:
- Older people like blue, purple, and green, while younger people are more into yellow, red, and orange. As we age, our preferences tend towards the darker and cooler colors of shorter wavelength over the excitatory, long wavelength colors.
- Most people heavily dislike the color orange. Purple, yellow, and brown pull up behind orange as the least liked colors, according to research done by Joe Hallock comparing color preferences across 232 people from 22 countries.
- It comes down to appropriateness and fit, not a silver bullet. The truth is that if you have a crappy product, you’re not going to turn things around by throwing a blue logo on it. Most of our tendency to appreciate certain colors in marketing actually appears to do with how well that color fits with the product that we’re looking at.
When planning out your ad creative and deciding on a color to use, think about the market you’re selling to, what they like, what they expect, and then you’ll be thinking along the right lines. For an example of how this works in the real world, we’ve taken that classic image of different brands organized by color and drawn some connections:
The gas companies here—BP, Shell, Gulf, ExxonMobil—may produce an identical product for consumers. But these companies, part of the legendary Seven Sisters of petroleum production, are heavily differentiated in the brains of consumers thanks to their incredibly distinctive colors. If you had to start an oil company today, I might say, “Go gray!” Be the Apple of gas!
The same kind of color psychology can be seen in the tech companies on the chart (outlined in blue). Apple represents neutral, calm, design sensibility. Facebook represents trust and dependability. Yahoo represents wisdom… or at least, they did, at one point—originally, Yahoo set out to organize all of the internet’s information into one home page, and they did a pretty good job.
Don’t take this chart as gospel—“My product is exciting, so I must use red in my Facebook ads”—but do check out what your competitors are doing. Look at what is working. Subtle changes in color can influence how we see advertising, so take your time and make your decisions count.
11) Use location-specific imagery
One of the great things about Facebook advertising is that it’s so easy to set up multiple campaigns all targeting different geographic regions. But you’re not fully capitalizing on the power of Facebook ads unless you’re also changing the content of your ads to match the geographic region you’re targeting.
Kisi, a keyless-entry startup that helps offices take care of employee access to buildings remotely, is available all over the United States. But if you’re in New York City, you’re not going to see a generic Kisi ad on your Newsfeed. You’re going to see a targeted ad that looks like this:
If you’re in New York City, it’s all but guaranteed that an ad with an “NYC” plastered over it is going to draw your attention better than an ad that could have been shown anywhere. This is something strangely lacking in most people’s Facebook ads, but it’s something that traditional advertisers have definitely caught onto—check out this Haagen-Dazs ad from the BART in San Francisco:
Pandering or not, this ad got the tech world’s attention. If you’re going to spend the money to target customers in expensive urban areas like New York City and San Francisco, it’s worth capitalizing on that specificity to drive home a more personal, targeted message in your advertising.
12) Use the power of free without giving your product away
We’re always on the lookout for free. It’s one of those trigger words that renders just about everything around it more attractive—free beer, free money, free food, you name it. We love free.
When used in advertising, it can be an incredibly effective technique. It definitely sets you apart from the majority of the ads on peoples’ Newsfeeds—which are asking people to pay money for products—but capitalizing on the psychology of free does not mean you have to give away your product for free.
For example, you could make free part of a special offer that comes along with buying your product:
Or, you could simply use free as a lead generation device. Content marketing is a powerful way to grow your business, but you can’t have a great lead generation magnet unless people actually read it and get value out of it. Giving away helpful information for free is the easiest and most effective way to spread your content and show people that you’re a trustworthy source of information.
13) Use testimonials from your customers
We all love the feeling of being a part of something. When you see other people talking about how much they love a picture of a cat on Facebook, you feel like going and expressing how you feel too. When you see something that you’re outraged by, you join in by liking the relevant statuses and posting some words to show that you agree.
When you see customer testimonials, that same part of your brain lights up as if to say, “Buy this product. Join the club.”
Use your customers to make your Facebook ads compelling. No one can be a better sales representative when you’re trying to get people to click on your ads in their Newsfeed since Facebook is already such a massive social medium. And as we’ve mentioned before, the best sales don’t come from direct sales but recommendations.
14) Use intersections of interests
Targeting intersections of interests is one of the most powerful techniques out there for getting people to stop scrolling and check out your ad. Here’s how it works:
- Pick two broad ideas—they don’t have to be highly related, and it may be better if they’re not—and input them into your campaign manager when you’re setting up your ad
- Select the “all of these” interests option—you only want your ad to be shown to those people who like both of the different interests you’re intersecting
- Design your ad around the intersection
We did this before, targeting those people who were fans of college football and also liked tacos. In this example from Dr. Pepper, you can see what you might do if you targeted fans of college football and Dr. Pepper:
Or maybe you’re Toyota targeting people who go on outdoorsy adventures:
Interest intersections are powerful for the same reason that localized ads are powerful. When you show people an ad that feels like it’s just about them, they’re way more likely to stop, click, and share because they feel a personal connection to it. The returns, if you do it right, will be awesome. Just check out how much better we did when we targeted college football fans and taco fans:
15) Use images of faces
According to a 2005 study out of Caltech, there’s even a specific group of cells in our brains that fire only when we see a face. And then there’s the well-known psychological effect called pareidolia that causes humans to look for faces in everyday objects like stoves and toilets. The takeaway here is that people love to see faces. It’s a phenomenon that’s deeply ingrained in our brains, a vestige of our primal beings—so use it in your Facebook ads!
Ever wonder why the mascots on cereal boxes are always cute animals or cartoon people staring right at you? Well, according to a lab at Cornell studying consumer behavior, the reason they do that is because it’s effective. When the Trix rabbit glances into our young, impressionable eyes every time we go to the supermarket as children, we start gradually developing a preference for Trix. We humanize the product and get attached. Make your customers feel the same way and put some faces in your Facebook ads.
16) Get urgent
There’s nothing we hate more than losing out on a great deal because we were just a little bit late. It’s the principle of loss aversion: we feel bad when we miss out on getting something, but we feel even worse about losing. And when we see an urgent opportunity arise, we do not want to let it slip through our fingers.
One of the biggest problems with advertising today is that urgency can be difficult to trigger in people. Since we can get items in less than 5 hours off Amazon and virtually every other e-commerce platform offers some 1-2 day shipping options, people feel as though they can probably get whatever they want whenever they want.
Inducing scarcity and urgency could mean grabbing hold of your audience’s attention with an eye-catching deal that they just can’t pass up. You want to create a deep sense of FOMO—fear of missing out, as in this ad from Watch Junction advertising a hot deal for 60% off.
There are many different urgency-evoking phrases that copywriters use in their headlines and ad texts to create excitement. Try some of the following words with your next special offer that you put on Facebook:
- Limited time!
- Act now!
- Last chance!
It’s Up to You Now…
Combined, these 16 tips are the most effective ways to design killer Facebook Ads that we’ve learned over the last 7 years.
Have you already tried some of these strategies? Did they work well for you?
What else should you or do you consider when designing Facebook Ads?
Leave a comment below and let us know!