To make your Facebook ads more successful, you need to learn more about how they actually perform.
You can easily see inbound traffic to your site and maybe receive the occasional comment from a follower, but to get the most out of your ads it’s important to know what works.
With so many different metrics available it’s hard not to get overwhelmed with information.
Whether you’re just starting out or experimenting with a new campaign, it helps to know which specific analytics will help track your success.
The more you’re able to successfully track how each ad campaign is doing, the more you can learn from their performance.
We’ve been running Facebook ad campaigns since they were first introduced and have managed millions of dollars in ad spend. Over time we’ve learned a lot about Facebook ad analytics and how you can use it to track whether you’re making or losing money on your ad campaigns.
Today we want to share our knowledge with you!
Facebook Analytics Basics (How and Why)
You rely on your Facebook ads to build an audience, attract customers, and ultimately drive relevant traffic back to your site. If you want to get serious about managing your Facebook ad campaigns, it’s time to figure out what kind of metrics you should be tracking. Without proper tracking and analytics, you’ll never be able to see the real impact your ads have.
That’s where Facebook Analytics comes in.
Being able to set specific goals and calculate the ROI of your ads not only helps highlight the success of your campaign, you can use these metrics to gain valuable insight into how Facebook users are interacting with your ads, what works, and what improvements you can make moving forward.
When you’re effectively tracking these results it will be easy to create more ads that accomplish your goals!
You’ll need to use the Facebook Ads Manager tool to create, send, and manage ad campaigns.
Facebook Ads Manager.
The first step in creating a new ad campaign is to choose an objective based on what you want your ad to accomplish. We’ve chosen “Traffic” as an example.
Campaign objective options.
After you’ve published this ad, Facebook Analytics will help you track how well it performs. Since your goal is an increase in traffic, you’ll be able to see how the ad is sending people to your website, app, or Messenger conversation.
You’ll be able to see the tracking information populate in your analytics dashboard once the ad is live. Each ad has a number of different metrics available that will help you track performance, identify areas of opportunity, and make decisions about how to run your future campaigns.
Let’s dive into these key metrics and look at how your Facebook ad campaigns are helping you accomplish your business goals.
Any metric can be a vanity metric if you’re not setting specific and measurable goals. There should be actionable takeaways for any goals that you set and metrics that you track.
Your Facebook Analytics Core Metrics
The first thing you need to do once you get serious about managing your Facebook ad campaigns is to decide which metrics you should track.
Facebook automatically provides you with a variety of metrics; some of these are important to keep a close eye on, and others are what we call vanity metrics.
A vanity metric is a metric generates a big number that sounds great, but doesn’t really provide all that much insight into how a campaign is performing. For example, if you are running a lead generation campaign, the number of impressions for your ad campaign could be very high, but if you aren’t generating any leads those impressions are worthless.
Any metric can be a vanity metric if you’re not setting specific and measurable goals. There should be actionable takeaways for any goals that you set and metrics that you track.
Here are the metrics that most Facebook ad campaign managers will want to keep an eye on:
New Privacy Considerations
After the 2017 Cambridge Analytica debacle, Facebook users are more aware of and potentially more concerned about their private information and how it is shared. This increased awareness means more Facebook users are accessing and managing their privacy settings, leading to more scrutiny on what kind of ads they receive.
This fundamentally changes the relationship between Facebook users and your business. Not only will users be able to control the type of ads they receive, they’ll have direct access to their individual targeting information as well.
Ad category examples via Business Insider.
Facebook users will be able to dive into each category to learn more about what kind of ads they receive as a result. This leads to more potential scrutiny on which advertisers are following Facebook’s best practices and which are not.
Facebook also gives their users a way to opt out of receiving ads from specific advertisers entirely.
The increased focus on how different advertisers are targeting individual Facebook users opens up the potential for backlash if the user is upset about what kind of ads they receive.
- Facebook users have more control over their ad preferences, which may have an effect on your overall targeting strategy.
- More awareness of advertising best practices means you’ll need to build better audiences for your ad campaigns.
- Being able to opt out of receiving ads from a specific advertiser entirely gives Facebook users complete control of the kind of content they see in their feed.
Ad Costs are Increasing Due to Newsfeed Algorithmic Changes
Facebook intends to shift the focus of their newsfeed from advertising back to family and friends. Though this doesn’t entirely remove ads from Facebook, it will mean that the ads you create are that much more effective.
This change in Facebook’s algorithm is already having an effect on important metrics. A decrease in overall ad impressions is leading to a higher overall CPM. The cost of ad impressions was up 122% in January of 2018, and up 77% in February.
Year over year comparison of impressions to CPM via Recode.
In the beginning of 2018 the CPM saw a distinct increase while the number of overall impressions saw a sharp decrease. This means that you’ll need to reevaluate how your business defines success in terms of impressions and CPM.
The number of impressions you receive will be less, but that does not mean that your campaigns are necessarily less successful. An ad that received 20K impressions in 2017 may only receive 10K in 2018.
- Key changes in Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm will mean a lower overall number of impressions in your ad campaigns.
- It will be important to reevaluate your CPM ad spend. With these recent changes to how Facebook prioritizes their newsfeed, it is a good time to optimize your ads again.
- This change places a lot of importance on how you are serving ads to different audiences. You’ll need to make sure that your ads are targeting an audience with a high ROI.
Clickbait and Low-quality Websites
Providing relevant and helpful information has always been important, but recent changes to how Facebook reviews advertiser content makes it imperative that you’re providing the best possible experience for users.
Low-quality or disruptive content has always been Facebook’s way of categorizing clickbait or misleading titles, but in another update to help combat misinformation Facebook will now review the website URL attached to your account as well. This means that your business will need to follow every best practice Facebook has laid out for website experience.
And websites that Facebook classifies as low quality or disruptive will be penalized with decreased ad delivery. Facebook’s examples are very clear in what is acceptable and what is not.
Facebook low-quality or disruptive examples.
Following these best practices can potentially lead to a small increase in overall ad traffic as well, which will be important in 2018 as these changes are rolled out.
- Ensuring a good website experience is important. Facebook is placing a lot of priority not only on ad content but how user experience extends back to your website or landing page.
- Clickbait ads are being scrutinized more with these updates. You can still create enticing and fun Facebook ad titles, but they cannot be misleading in any way.
- You’ll need to review your Facebook business profile to make sure that it is up to date and any connected websites are in line with your current marketing.
No More Partner Categories
Facebook is removing the Partner Categories targeting method for all ad campaigns, which will result in changes to how audiences are defined via Facebook, specifically those audiences built using third-party information. This change also affects how third-party integrations manage private information in Facebook.
All advertisers will need to make sure that their current audiences have not used Partner Categories in the past. Those that have will need to reevaluate their current audiences.
Facebook audience using Partner Categories.
Moving forward you will need to use behavior or interest targeting instead. You should also check into custom audiences, which may be affected as well.
- Facebook’s limiting of third-party information access will affect your ad campaigns. Even if you weren’t using Partner Categories directly, this change will affect how audiences are built in general.
- More advertisers will be shifting to behavior targeting, so you might see an increase in competition for certain sources.
- You can use interest targeting to help build audiences without tapping into any third-party information.
Cost Per Result
The Cost per Result metric shows you the average cost of your ad based on the result where the result is a custom metric you define based on a specific business goal.
For example, you could set a result that is tied to conversion and count a success each time someone makes a purchase through your website after receiving a specific ad.
Website clicks Cost per Result example via Moz.
In this example from Moz you can see the Cost per Result as £0.39 ($0.52), which is calculated by dividing the total amount spent by the total number of results.
Cost per Result = total amount spent / total # of results
You can adjust the specific settings for a result to learn more about each different campaign you are running. This is a great way to see the overall performance of each separate campaign at a high level and can be helpful in anchoring your attention to a specific campaign when the Cost per Result starts to decline.
- Tracking ad campaign performance at a high level gives you the ability to see how different types of ads perform in relation to one another, making it easy to find areas of opportunity.
- By comparing Cost per Result on a per campaign basis you can easily find out which campaigns are performing best.
- Setting a metric that is tied directly to a business goal helps frame the success of your ad campaigns in relation to other high-level business metrics.
The impressions metric tells you how many times your ad was viewed. If you are running a brand awareness campaign, you may want to keep an eye on this metric as it tells you what your brand name exposure level is. However, just because a person viewed your ad, it doesn’t mean they will recall who you are.
Recall is most important in a branding campaign, and as such, if you are tracking impressions you will also want to track frequency — which we talk about in the next section. If you’re running a lead generation or e-commerce focused campaign the number of impressions matters even less. In fact, when you run either of those types of campaigns, you might want to see the number of impressions, but there is no real reason to track that number.
Impressions are most important depending on who you’re targeting and the type of campaign you’re running. If you want to optimize the campaign, use A/B test to create and send different versions of the ad. Whichever one has the most impressions is the one to use across your entire audience. Let’s say you track impressions for a week. If exposure increases during that time, you know your ad has a good mix of content and design because they’re getting noticed.
- Every time you share a blog post on Facebook, get your team to share and promote it. This boosts your chances of increasing its reach and the number of impressions.
- Facebook automatically sets the bidding strategy — depending on your budget and campaign length — to get you the most impressions.
- Impressions and budget should be similar for A/B tests in order to get accurate results.
- Track impressions to make sure that customers who see your ad do something about it. Otherwise, the ad isn’t effective.
The frequency metric tells you how many times your ad was viewed, on average, by an individual. For example, a frequency of 5 means that on average, each person who has seen your ad has seen it five times.
If you’re running a branding campaign, you’ll want your frequency number to be high since that helps recall. Recall is the ability for a person who saw your ad to remember the company name — and hopefully what your company does. A branding campaign might aim for a frequency of 10 or higher to drive recall.
If you’re running a lead generation or e-commerce campaign, you’ll want to keep your frequency number lower. Our research has found that a frequency of 9 increases the cost per click by up to 160%! Basically, by the time someone has seen your ad 9 times, they will either have already clicked or demonstrated no desire to click.
We recommend making changes to your targeting or your ad creative so that you are always frequently showing your target demographic something new. This beats frustrating them with the same old thing.
- Keep a close eye on frequency to avoid your audience getting banner blindness.
- Exclude people from your audience who’ve already seen your ad to avoid annoying customers
- When frequency gets to 3, stop running the ad and create a new one with a new message and visuals.
- Use Facebook ad automation to set up rules that help manage what to do when frequency starts to go up. It requires less input from you which is great.
The clicks metric is very important since it represents the number of times someone has clicked on your ad. You want people to click often since this — theoretically— means that people are interested in what you’re saying in your ad. They want to learn more.
Any action someone takes within your ad is considered a click. This can include clicking a link to your website or liking the ad or even expanding the ad to read more.
You should track your number of clicks throughout the lifetime of each campaign. The more clicks, the better because it means people are checking out your content in more detail. The more informed a potential customer is, the more likely they are to turn to your brand when they’re in need.
- We ran a series of experiments and found that fake clicks, while a common topic of discussion, are not that big of a problem on Facebook.
- It is important to remember that most clicks occur on mobile.
- If your clicks are high, but you’re not selling any products or converting, you might be making mistakes with your landing page.
The click-through rate (CTR) metric tells you the percentage of people who click an ad out of all the people who saw the ad.
To find this information, go to the campaign view in Ads Manager. The Facebook analytics for the ad include two CTR columns. The first column — CTR (All) — represents all clicks within the ad. The second column — CTR (Links) — represents the links clicked within the ad. Combined, you have more insight into how well your ads are at getting people to click through.
If your targeting and ad quality are on point, you should see a very high CTR. If they aren’t good, you’ll see a low CTR because the people seeing your ad aren’t interested in what you have to say or offer. Aim for a mid- to high-range CTR. Anything less suggests that your targeting is off or that your ad copy or creative aren’t enticing. To get some attention, try using bright colors or large, eye-catching keywords in your ads.
- To prevent a drop in CTR, change your target audience. You can do this by changing the interests or demographics you’re targeting.
- Use positive images, colors, and language in your ad copy to engage your audience. This gets them to understand the key points you’re making and increases the chances of them clicking on the ad to learn more.
- While animated images are eye-catching, still images perform better. They cost less and lead to a higher CTR.
- Be mindful of the language you use to get people to click through. While “Learn More” has a higher CTR than “Sign Up,” the latter has a higher conversion rate.
- The right headline choice can increase click-through rate by 10%. Choose something like a testimonial, cliffhanger, or “How To” to get people to take action.
Cost Per Click / Cost Per Impression
The cost per click and cost per impression metrics are pretty straight forward. Cost per click, or CPC, shows how much you’re paying when someone clicks your ad. The cost per impression, or CPM, shows how much you’re paying per 1,000 views.
Here’s how you calculate them:
CPC = advertising cost / total # of clicks
CPM = advertising cost x 1,000 / # of impressions
As you adjust your ads based on audience engagement, you should see the CPC or CPM metrics come down over time. Facebook rewards you with a lower CPC or CPM if it sees your audience engaging with your ads. It tells them that the ads are relevant and making their users happy. A high relevance score means a lower CPC.
This example shows that the more relevant an ad is, the less it costs for you to run it. Test different options to find a version that resonates with your target audience.
Be mindful of how you match ads to your target audience. Facebook uses its ad rewards system because they want happy customers who keep coming back to the platform. If you send lots of irrelevant ads to users, they get frustrated and stop coming back in favor of another social media platform. This doesn’t bode well for you if you’re trying to grow your audience.
- Facebook stops delivering ads with a low relevance score. Users aren’t interested, so to prevent leaving the same ads in rotation, it stops putting them out.
- A high CTR means a lower CPC. This scenario means that you have a better chance of making more money because it costs less to get people to do something.
- Incorporate ad designs like eye-catching visuals and a clear value proposition to lower CPC. Remember, the more people click, the lower the cost of those clicks is.
The conversion rate metric tells you what percentage of people who click your ad goes on to make a purchase and become a customer. This is one of the most important metrics since the overall goal of your ads is to convert as many people as possible based on your objectives. Do this, and you can make more sales!
So how exactly do you increase conversion rates? Let’s say your objective is to increase app installs, an ad like the one above promotes exclusivity. Ads that make people feel like they’re part of something exclusive are more likely to get people to take action. These ads convert more compared to ads that don’t have some kind of emotional component.
It’s important to note that a high CTR doesn’t mean a high conversion rate will follow. To get people to complete a specific action and convert, your ad needs to be clear on the value and benefits you offer. The more you can get people to see this, the better the chances are of them taking the next step and buying.
- Reducing friction points in your UX can increase your conversion rate 20x. Make it easy for people to move through the conversion process by including a few simple steps.
- Use a tool like Facebook’s Power Editor to automate when your ads are sent. Ads sent during peak times — specific days and times — are more likely to see high conversions.
- Include giveaways where possible. Our research shows that they increase conversion rates.
- Be very specific about who you’re targeting. Putting ads in front of the “right” people means your chances of boosting conversion rates increase.
Cost Per Conversion
The cost per conversion metric tells you how much you’re paying for each lead or sale. For example, if you spent $100 on Facebook ads and had five people convert, your cost per conversion would be $20. It’s up to you to know whether this cost per conversion is acceptable or not.
For example, if you run an e-commerce store that sells a product that costs $500, a cost per conversion of $20 would probably mean that you are still making a profit on the sale. However, if you sell a product that costs $30 and your cost per conversion is $20 you have a problem and need to do some serious optimization work on your Facebook ad campaigns to bring that cost down.
[Source] In this example, when the image was changed the result was a lower cost per conversion
Run the numbers to figure out if your ad spend is in proportion to your conversion. If there’s a discrepancy between the two, it’s a good time to either adjust your spending or tweak your ad copy or design to attract and convert more people.
- Ads with a high relevancy score help reduce the cost-of-conversion.
- Experiment with ad placements like the Newsfeed, column on the right or the Audience Network to find the lower cost-per-conversion for your product. The strategy you choose should also result in a higher ROI.
- A low cost-per-click doesn’t mean a low cost-per-conversion. Use optimization rules to get your ads to perform better.
How to Use Facebook Insights To Make Better Ads
There are lots of metrics you can use to create ads that get people to do something. But it’s not as simple as finding pretty pictures and stringing together clever copy. Your ad campaigns need a clear objective so that the metrics have a meaning.
If you’re not clear on what you want the outcome to be, it doesn’t matter how good the audience insights look. The insights don’t really tell you anything or give a clear indication of what you can do to have a big impact with future campaigns.
Facebook Ads Manager lets you create lots of campaigns, which means you can choose more than one objective. This depends on the products and services you’re advertising. For example, objectives are grouped by awareness, consideration, and conversion. If you’re keen to improve awareness, start with that category and create ads that focus on brand awareness and reach.
Once your ads are up and running, you can track additional metrics to get a more in-depth look at how people are responding.
Click the columns button in the Campaigns tab to access different report types which will showcase different metrics. You can even customize the reports so that you see exactly what you need in order to make decisions.
Next, use your ad sets to create different versions of your ads by tweaking things like the audience, placement, and scheduling. Once you have a few different ads sets ready to go, use Facebook Page Insights to track them. The data you get from the insights will help you build an advertising strategy that maximizes your ads reach and uptake.
The great thing about Facebook ads is that the analytics are very flexible. If you can think of a scenario you’d like to test, chances are you’ll find the reports and metrics to help. Keep testing variations until you find the right ad set that maximizes how your ads perform.
Ask the Right Questions
Marli Mesibov, director of content strategy at Mad*Pow, says that “data can give answers, but only if you ask the right questions.”
Start by figuring out what it is you want your ads to accomplish and use Facebook Analytics to get the answers.
By having a clear objective in mind, your analysis has more meaning. It offers insights you can use to build stronger campaigns and convert more people.
Use every campaign as a learning opportunity. What worked and what didn’t? This is the only way your ads will get you the results you want.