Finding the right Facebook ads strategy is not easy. But it gets easier with the right tools and guidance. And the successful strategy used by the Paid Acquisition Manager at Sumo.com proves it. Here’s what she did.
Hi there! My name is Natalia Wieczorek.
About a year ago, I had absolutely no idea how to run ads in the digital space. And, of course, my first big work project at Sumo was… running Facebook ads.
In the first 3 months, Sumo went from spending $0 per month on ads to $40,000, and we have continued to expand that budget as our ads become more and more successful.
So today, I want to share with you my Six-Step Strategy to take your Facebook advertising from 0 to 60.
I’m going to show you how to do it fast and how to do it well.
Back to one year ago!
With our Director of Marketing gone one month into my employment, the responsibility to take over some of his projects fell to me. The big one? Facebook ads.
But while I was familiar with Ads Manager, it was clear I needed some help in getting up to speed. Our CEO hired an instructor to put me through an intensive advertising boot camp, and so began my love affair with the big, wonderful, slightly overwhelming world of Facebook ads.
My Six-Step Facebook ads strategy
Now I know that there are hundreds of small or new companies that may not have the budget to pay an expensive advertising consultant.
But as long as you have someone dedicated and willing to learn on your team — and this article in their hands! — you have everything you need to get the most out of your online advertising efforts.
Get ready, because we’re going to go over all the secrets of Sumo’s strategy:
- Step 1: Narrow Down Your Goals
- Step 2: Set Up the Foundation
- Step 3. Do Your Research
- Step 4: Get the Tools
- Step 5: Test, Test, and Test Again
- Step 6: Analyze Your Results
Here we go!
Step #1 – Narrow Down Your Goals
The first thing you need to do before you start running ads is deciding your #1 objective.
Most companies will want to tackle a full-funnel approach, where they run ads to users at each step of the customer journey, so fleshing out that funnel is the best place to start.
Think of what steps your customers go through and write them all out. While many companies share a similar overall layout, take the time to add any steps that are particular to your business.
Here’s how Sumo’s current funnel looks:
We mainly introduce people to our product with our content and then encourage them to move through the rest of the funnel through a mix of efforts from all our teams.
Once you have your funnel laid out, you’ll need to calculate your customers’ lifetime value — hopefully, you’ve been tracking this with software like ProfitWell for a while, but if you don’t have the exact data, you can get a rough estimate of the lifetime value with the strategy outlined in this blog post.
Spend some time parsing through your Google Analytics. It’s one of the most powerful tools in your belt, so use it to learn more about your target demographic.
For example, Sumo has historically resonated well with men aged 25 – 34 based in the United States — a fact supported by our most successful ads!
Of our November sales, almost 40% came from that very demographic:
While you will need to run tests in Ads Manager to determine your most ROI-positive demographics, Google Analytics can help you decide how to segment some of your audiences when you’re first ramping up.
Step #2 – Set Up the Foundation
One of the most important things you can do when preparing to run ads on Facebook is set up your pixel.
Facebook’s pixel is a short piece of code that you can add to any page on your website so that you can track exactly where people are going, what selections they’re making, which posts they’re reading, and which products they’re buying.
You’re going to use it to build audiences and track your ads’ success, so it’s essential that it’s set up properly.
If you have a bit of coding experience, this is a relatively simple set-up, but if you’re at all hesitant about your abilities, you can hire someone to put the pixel on your page. Or you can trust yourself and invest 10 minutes of your time to install and learn how to use Pixel Caffeine –the “magic trick” that helps you easily track conversions and create Custom Audiences in a few simple clicks.
You can always double-check that your pixel is firing correctly by installing the Facebook Pixel Helper. And once the pixel is on your website, you can start setting up your advertising structure!
Decide on your tagging strategy, and how you want to track ads in your company’s back end.
For example, I use src=FB-SUMO-ADSET-ADNUMBER, and we have a built-in tool that allows us to see any user activity by source in Sumo’s backend:
Next, plan how you’re going to organize your ads within Ads Manager. At Sumo, each campaign is tied to one objective, while ad sets are generally broad categories that become more streamlined with testing, and ads are simply numbered chronologically.
Other companies I’ve worked with, however, need more detailed segmenting. For example, one will have multiple campaigns running with the same objective that just get more targeted at the ad set level. As long as you’re careful to not overlap any audiences, and you can track all Facebook activity on your company’s website, the structure of Ads Manager is up to you!
Once you’re at this point, I would highly recommend starting a Google Folder where you can house every document, spreadsheet, graph and image related to Facebook advertising. Here’s how mine looks for Sumo:
The three folders at the top contain screenshots of every ad I’ve created in its desktop, Newsfeed view. I’ve found that this really helps me keep track of what angles I’ve tried when it comes to my ad creative — I even have a separate spreadsheet with all the high-level data on how successful or unsuccessful a specific angle was!
Whether or not you are a meticulous note-taker like myself, throw all the research you’ve done on digital advertising into this folder. It may seem like overkill to include each piece of info you pull, but please learn from my own hard lesson — it’ll be worth it.
And speaking of research…
Step #3 – Do Your Research
While your pixel is running and collecting information on your website visitors, you’ll start researching design. This is the part where you get to put on your best Don Draper hat and really go to town with creative, new ideas.
One of the things we focused on in my advertising bootcamp was consumer motivation. BJ Fogg, a behavior psychologist from Stanford, created a fascinating matrix on human behavior where he divides human motivation into three main categories: sensation, anticipation, and belonging. His site is a great, quick read, and so foundationally simple that I even keep a sticky note of his key points on the side of my monitor:
One of my favorite parts of this step in education was reading a truly incredible book by Robert Cialdini called “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”. While it isn’t focused on advertising specifically, it’s one of the most valuable pieces of literature I’ve had the opportunity to read in the past five years. It’s absolutely fascinating, and has guided a remarkable amount of my creative work this year.
With your newly expanded understanding of human behavior, I recommend poking around in Audience Insights in Ads Manager as your next step. This is a pretty powerful tool that not everyone knows about — Facebook is notorious for collecting data on its users, and this is where you can really use that to your advantage.
For example, you can create an audience of people who like your page, and see what OTHER pages they like (which can prove useful when building a custom audience of cold traffic!):
For design and copy inspiration, check out AdEspresso’s ad library.
I visit this page at least three times per week to peruse the latest additions and spark new ideas. If you’re not sure where to start, I recommend looking up your competitors (e.g. Hot Jar for us!) to see what their creative strategy is:
Finally, Jon Loomer’s blog is an invaluable resource for advertisers, both new and established. He focuses heavily on strategy and testing with none of the salesy “frills”, so be sure bookmark him immediately and start reading!
Bonus: in case you’re wondering what my first ad ever looked like…
Step #4 – Get the Tools
Now that you’re ready to start creating your ads, you’ll need to get familiar with Ads Manager.
AdEspresso already has a bunch of guides on navigating Facebook’s ad tool (check out one of my favorites here), but I want to point out two of my favorite elements.
Firstly, from your “Campaign” view, go to the right side of your screen and find “Columns”.
Select “Customize Columns” and, based on your company’s advertising goals from step 1, select all the elements you want to be tracking and save your selection as a preset. This is going to be a massive help when you want to track your success and share your incredible ROI with your boss.
My other favorite tool in Ads Manager is Automated Rules. You can find this by looking it up in the search bar, or by clicking on it from your main menu:
Automated Rules allows you to run some aspects of your advertising efforts on autopilot. I mostly use this tool to auto-adjust my daily budget based on the cost per acquisition of my ads.
If the CPA is low, budget will increase, and vice versa, without me having to manually check in every day! It’s a pretty incredible time-saver, so learn more about how to use automated rules here.
When it comes to simple graphic design for cheap, no one does it better than Canva. Even with the free service, you have a lot of flexibility to create truly original, imaginative images. Here’s one of my favorites from a webinar we ran last year:
As your design skills improve (I’m constantly working on polishing mine through courses on Lynda), you may want to move into more professional software such as Illustrator or Photoshop, but while you’re still getting started, Canva is a perfect choice.
As you begin testing creative, you’ll have to dive into video ads, but don’t worry: they’re not as scary as they seem, and you don’t need to hire a professional videographer to make a high-converting vid!
Biteable is a great, simple video-creating service, but you’ll have to pay for a subscription to remove their watermark (completely worth it → a year of service is only $99). They have everything you need to create a great ad, but go ahead and take a few minutes to play around to see what you can make for free before you throw down your credit card.
If you’re working with Apple products, I’m a huge fan of iMovie for creating straightforward, slick, short clips. The added bonus of running video ads is being able to retarget people who watched a certain percentage of the clip. And more engaged = more likely to move through your funnel!
Step #5 – Test, Test, and Test Again
You are going to get endless suggestions on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to Facebook advertising.
Write everything down, move those notes in your Google folder, but remember: take each recommendation with a grain of salt.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” strategy when it comes to advertising on Facebook, and what works for your friend, your coworker’s side hustle, me at Sumo, or even your direct competitor, is not necessarily going to work for you.
Scary example? Very early on in my Bootcamp, I was told that mobile advertising wasn’t worth the investment since our product is primed for use on desktop. Three months in, once I was feeling more confident in my abilities, I decided to test out new placements… and found that mobile placement was by far the most lucrative space we could have advertised on.
Once people registered with Sumo over mobile, we were able to retarget those exact audiences with desktop ads to show them how to install and get the most out of our tools.
So if you take away one thing from this post, make sure it’s the next three words:
Never. Stop. Testing.
Test your designs. Test your audiences. Test your writing voice. Test your campaign objective. Test your placement. Test your budget. Test new landing pages. Here you’ll find some genius ideas
Finding successful Facebook ads may take some trial and error – it certainly did for me at Sumo – and what works today may not work in six months.
Take the time while your budget is growing to really get a feel for what your audience responds to… And then be ready to scrap it all when your success stagnates and it’s time for a different approach!
Step #6 – Analyze Your Results
The first thing I do every morning when I get into the office is go through the previous day’s results and share high-level information with our team lead. Daily check-ins are so useful in helping to diagnose problems, celebrate successes, brainstorm new ideas, and just keep track of your goals (and yes, you should copy all those stats into a spreadsheet in your Google folder!).
On top of that, I go through and respond to every Facebook comment made on an ad. While we already have a ridiculously responsive customer success team at Sumo, I love having my own finger on the pulse of users’ concerns and feedback.
You can find which posts have comments by changing the “Customize Columns” tab in Ads Manager to “Engagement”, like so:
In late 2017, Facebook rolled out a powerful, comprehensive tool called “Facebook Analytics”. When you added your pixel to your website back in step 2, Facebook started collecting data on every visit and action made on your site, even if that traffic came from a different source.
This means that Facebook can track all kinds of user activity and information, and while the data is not perfect, it’s super useful in providing a holistic, overall view of your visitors. Just look at some of the info you get in your main dashboard!
There’s a lot you can do with Analytics, and Jon Loomer has written several articles about the tool that go into all the nitty gritty details, so take the time to read through those here. At Sumo, we use a combination of Facebook Analytics, Google Analytics, and our own backend data to track important KPIs and measure our success.
Keep that cost per acquisition down, get the number of customers and lifetime value up, and watch your revenue grow!
What’s your Facebook ads strategy?
There is a lot of literature online about how to ramp up your Facebook advertising strategy, and almost all of it holds true. While this is encouraging for those who love to learn, it can be terribly difficult to sift through hundreds of tips and tricks, and decide which ones will work for your business.
But don’t get overwhelmed! If you have your goals in check, your foundation laid out, and are willing to test every day (and email me with any questions!), you can absolutely see the same success that Sumo has had in your own business.
Now get out there, and good luck!