Facebook has made enormous strides over the past few years in making Ads Manager accessible to millions of advertisers of all sizes across the globe. But for those brands looking to take their advertising to the next level and see a significant business impact from Facebook, optimal account setup and campaign structure can be more complex than one might think.
We audit hundreds of Facebook accounts for large retailers and DTC brands every year and we consistently see common account and campaign setup mistakes that could significantly impact performance.
Here are some of the most common mistakes we see:
- Crisscrossing your retargeting, prospecting, and retention audiences
One of the most common mistakes we see is when advertisers are setting up audiences, they are not using exclusions to keep their retargeting, prospecting, and retention audiences separate. The problem with this setup is that after users in your prospecting audience engage with an ad for the first time and visit your website, they’re now also your retargeting pool. Advanced advertisers serve different ads to different stages in the funnel, if you’re not keeping these audiences separate then you will likely be serving the wrong ads to the wrong people at the wrong time. Furthermore, you’ll never know whether users convert directly off of prospecting or retargeting ads, meaning you’ll never know to spend the right budget on each audience.
Do this instead: Suppress your retargeting and retention audiences from your prospecting audiences: consumers should only be in one pool and advertised in a way that is tailored to that pool. For example, an engaged prospect should be reminded to complete their purchase, not awareness ads introducing the product for the first time.
- Over-targeting the same audience several times
Similar to mistake #1, running multiple prospecting ads targeting the exact same prospecting pool results in advertisers creating competition against themselves driving up their own CPMs. Using the same interest-based audiences and lookalikes in multiple ad sets will make it harder to determine which audiences are truly driving performance and how to use your learnings going forward.
Do this instead: Again, keep audiences mutually exclusive: launch ad sets according to a test plan that clearly defines who each audience and sub-audience is made up of and make sure there is no overlap. Any overlap means unnecessary increase in price and a decrease in actionable learnings.
- Why are you creating a new ad set everytime you want to launch a new ad?
We have found that the best practice for the number of ads in an ad set is 3-6 active ads. If you have a new creative you want to activate, you don’t need to (and shouldn’t) create a whole new ad set. Instead, you should launch it as an additional ad in your active ad sets. Launching a new ad set each time you launch a new ad will lead to mistake #2 above and hinder Facebook’s optimization algorithm that controls which ads should get the most spend.
Do this instead: Incorporate an active ad management process that includes rotating your new ad creative. If your existing ad set has a large amount of ads, it is time to pause the underperforming ads.
- Facebook has a ‘learning phase’ for a reason, stop ignoring it!
Facebook describes their learning phase as “the period when the delivery system still has a lot to learn about an ad set. During the learning phase, the delivery system is exploring the best way to deliver your ad set – so performance is less stable and cost-per-action (CPA) is usually worse. The learning phase occurs when you create a new ad or ad set or make a significant edit to an existing one.”
Many advertisers ignore this warning by frequently making small updates to their budget, audiences, adding many ads at once, launching many new ad sets or making other large changes to their campaigns. All of these activities reset Facebook’s leaning phase to varying degrees and consistently being in the learning phase means your campaigns will never operate in the most efficient way.
Do this instead: Pay attention to the learning phase: if all of your spend is in the learning phase, then your campaign isn’t operating optimally. Try stacking your edits so that rather than making changes every day, you edit ads only 1-2x per week, but do many edits at once.
- Assuming that your prospecting audiences should exactly match your target market
Most advertisers try to build out prospecting audiences that mirror their marketing playbook’s target market definition. They heavily narrow in on gender, age range, interests, salary range, and other predefined characteristics. This narrow definition of an audience results in a tiny pool of Facebook users. Creating a prospecting audience built to mirror your target market makes perfect sense, but there are also members of your target market in other Facebook audiences, so limiting your prospecting efforts to such a small segment eliminates a lot of opportunity.
Do this instead: Loosening up your targeting characteristics. Your prospecting audiences don’t need to be as closely aligned to your product as you think. Weird audiences work, you don’t always need to understand why they work, and exploring broader audiences will help reach more interested shoppers. You wouldn’t believe some of the audiences we’ve targeted that resulted in major sales spikes for our clients…
- Assuming single-touch prospecting is the only way to use Facebook
Most advertisers work on the assumption that Facebook’s biggest strength is direct response prospecting, so they evaluate the platform as a success or failure based on whether prospecting campaigns deliver performance at their exact ROAS/CAC targets. But these advertisers are missing out on a major opportunity: Facebook isn’t exclusively a single-touch solution because most prospects won’t become customers their first time they see an ad.
Do this instead: Use Facebook to support all parts of your prospecting funnel. If your direct response ads are not working and you’re frustrated with the performance from your prospecting campaigns, don’t be afraid to split up your prospecting funnel to engage consumers who are not responding to purchase-intent ads. Try optimizing for video views or link clicks and create an audience you can retarget later with purchase-intent and lower funnel ads.
Facebook is an amazing tool for driving sales of products and services, but it is also a very complex tool that works best when advertisers put thoughtful intent into their account and campaign structure. Hopefully highlighting some of the biggest issues we see in campaign management will help you to better optimize your account for success.
If you have any questions or need help implementing any of these strategies, please contact us here for help!