I recently saw a question on Alignable that I had to answer: “Has anyone had success with FB Ads?”

My answer is yes, lots of success and tons of learnings. I do believe that most people can do Facebook ads themselves. That might sound strange coming from a digital marketer, but since you’re the one that best knows your company and your customers, you’re well suited for success! You just need to learn the tools and possibilities to match your knowledge. Though I guess if you don’t have time for that, that’s when to bring in someone to do it for you. Here are some pointers based on what I’ve learned.


Get really, really specific. Well, not so specific that Facebook says “your audience is too small,” but the closer you can match an audience who would be interested in your product/service, the more relevant the ads will be, and the further your dollars will stretch in getting results. And I have noticed Facebook’s cost per click (CPC) has increased a lot in recent years, so you’ll really want every cent to count!

Facebook will prompt and prompt you to boost your Facebook posts (because they want your money). But don’t fall for the allure of vanity metrics and definitely don’t use Facebook’s default targeting. More than likely, your offering is more niche than anyone age 18-65 in the US. With laser-focused targeting, you could get a click through rate (CTR) of 3% rather than 1%, so that’s 3x better!

Side note, which is actually my most important piece of advice in all things marketing: the reach/engagements/vanity metrics are NOT the important thing! Rather, it’s driving clicks/calls/store visits etc. as an end to your ultimate goal, which is likely sales!

Here are a few examples. I did a Facebook ad for a new food truck company in town. Its truck had previously belonged to a beloved late night food truck on a Big Ten campus, and the new company was going to do a menu item homage for the grand opening event. To attract attendees, I targeted ads at the last 10 years’ worth of grads from that university AND who lived within 15 miles of the event location (the university and location are just about 45 minutes away – a lot of grads move here). The ads themselves got a great response, and the ad viewers often tagged/shared with fellow grads – “we HAVE to go!” About 40 grads showed up solely due to the Facebook ads. I’d call that a success! The CTR was 4.48%.

Another example: I have a friend who is a fashion designer, and one of her creations was worn by an actress in a Marvel movie. I promoted the ads at US women in her demographic (35-50) who ALSO like Marvel-related things (I picked a few things: Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Captain America, Avengers, etc.) and also like the actress who wore the item (or a few of her best known films). This campaign’s CTR was 3.48%.

Overall, play with Facebook’s targeting options – demographics, location, interests… Facebook has a lot of data you can use to your advantage. Don’t forget you can narrow down your audience or exclude (example: trying to grow your email list? Exclude people who are already signed up, via a Custom Audience!).

Unless you have a very large ad budget, you likely won’t have enough funds to reach every single person who might be interested in your offering. So target, target, target to try to find the ones who are most likely to be interested (without dipping below Facebook’s recommended minimum audience). This is the most efficient way to spend your money.

Home Court Advantage

One thing I’ve tried with nationally available products is advertising at the folks in clients’ hometowns. For example, a B2C product designed by two brothers, both from Indiana but they went to different universities. I tested ads aimed at audiences for 1. the state, and 2. each university, with messaging like “These brothers from Indiana designed this…” or “Fellow XYZ grad invented this great product.” Those ads performed very well, out of tests trying many different tactics. I want to say a 5% CTR or so.

Maybe it’s better if your company is relatively new, maybe not. Also, I tried something similar with the fashion designer mentioned above, and it didn’t work as well (hence upping her ads to a national level and focusing on interests). So there are some nuances there, but maybe the hometown thing is worth a test!

Just Passing Through?

Another note for location-based marketing is that you can target people who live in an area and/or are just visiting using the dropdown that says “Everyone in this location.” Facebook can tell when people are or aren’t traveling (Facebook knows all). So if you’re located in a relatively large city that gets a good number of tourists, you can narrow to just townies if you’re a local business. Or perhaps you offer something that would be of more interest to out-of-towners.

Mmm, Donuts…

Another rare but interesting case. So with Facebook’s location targeting, you can set a radius of location targeting, say, within 10 miles of your location. And say you have pretty good visibility in your immediate vicinity but want to reach folks who maybe haven’t heard of you but aren’t too far away. You can exclude a circle with a smaller radius and advertise to a donut-shaped territory!

Test. Iterate. Slash. Repeat.

With so much data to work with, there are basically an infinite number of ways to target your audience, so it’s preeetty unlikely your very first stab will be the best. Often, results have defied my predictions. Facebook makes it pretty easy to copy/change ad sets or ads.

So, make an ad set and ad. I like to try many different options for visuals – you never know which image will be the most compelling. So say if you’re just doing a single image ad, upload 6 possibilities.

Then, Facebook makes it easy to copy ads (there’s usually a prompt right after submitting one). You can change up the headline, copy, button or no button… There’s no penalty for having tons of ad possibilities (as long as enough people see each one to get enough data to know if it’s succeeding or not. You need 500 impressions to get a relevance score.).

When you’ve created tons of ad permutations, you can copy entire ad sets and tweak the audience, like age, location, interests, degree of narrowed-down-ness…

Then, when looking at the analytics of your army of ads, after they’ve been running for a bit, you can switch off ones that are lagging. Then look at the ones that are doing well and try to think if there’s a way you can copy them and improve even more!

Short and Sweet Messaging

Overall, I like to try to keep ad copy brief. Some research I saw said “the shorter, the better.” It makes sense with how bombarded we are – can you really expect your audience to read multiple sentences? It’s a lot like how McDonald’s billboards typically have no more than 5 words.

Of course, always proofread carefully! Short posts especially need tight, effective, and correct writing! And on that note, test your links, bring in a second pair of eyes to proofread, etc.

Timely Targeting

Thoughtful timing is another way to make sure your ads are really relevant. For example, don’t promote a #TBT (Throwback Thursday) post for 5 days!

One client of Kahunify’s sells a lot of gift certificates leading up to holidays. We run Facebook ads to promote those, but in addition to targeting the audience, why not “target” based on the day? So 7 days before the holiday, the ad set will read “7 days till Christmas!” Then those ads end at midnight. Then the next day, an ad set reads “Just 6 days left till Christmas!” etc. etc. Sometimes we skip a day to not over-advertise. But really, all that’s involved is copying ad sets and tweaking the wordage, and changing the time windows during which they run.

Need help getting started with Facebook ads, or with getting better results? Facebook Ads and targeting is a specialty of Kahunify’s – we’d love to work with you!


I Advertise on Facebook and I Know Things
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