So you want to run some ads on Facebook? Awesome! Before you go boosting away (seriously DON’T do that), you should take a step back and be thoughtful about the entire process. This article should serve as a high-level guide to set up your first few FB ad campaigns.

Step 1: Set a Campaign Objective

The key to a successful ad campaign for any channel is to make sure it is aligned with business goals, objectives and KPIs. You can do this outside of FB and it is a good practice to have for any paid media you are running. It doesn't matter if you are tasked with driving top of the funnel leads, selling more pairs of sneakers, achieving a certain ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) or even increasing engagement and likes on your FB business page – having the proper focus on objectives will make the entire process move much more smoothly.

To help you determine the campaign objectives, think about:

  • What are the goals of the company?
  • What are the goals of my team?
  • What are my goals and/or objectives and key results for this quarter?
  • Will this campaign objective drive to the success of my goals?

Here are some recommendations for a few different biz types:

  • If you are a business that is driven by profits or is going for cash flow positive, you will want to have a ROAS goal. ROAS is how many dollars you get in return for each dollar of media spend.
  • If you are a B2B company and are looking for low cost leads to drive your top of funnel sales to pipeline, the campaign objective would be cost per lead.
  • If you are, for instance, a new and modern shoe company that wants to spread the word about your new kick-ass brand, the objective would be awareness.

Step 2: Setup your FB pixel

Great! You have your campaign objective in place for each campaign. Now would be an excellent time to ensure you have the FB pixel on your site. It is recommended to have a site-wide pixel as well as on any pages, screen or event that you would classify as a “conversion.”

For example: (example.com/shop/order-complete-thanks) is the page that you see after completing an order on an ecommerce site. Accordingly, that page would get a conversion pixel so that FB can track and optimize for that conversion event. Alternatively, if you are sending “Order Complete” events into Segment, I would have that pixel fire on that event.

Step 3: Select Ad Type

Once you have your goals on lockdown, you will select the ad type. This step should be created quickly and easily based on your goals. Here are some goals you can select from:

 Awareness Consideration Conversion Brand awareness Reach Engagement App installs Video views Lead generation Messages Conversions Catalog sales Store visits

For this example, let’s say you want to grow your audience on your podcast. In that case, you would select the “Audience Growth” ad type.

Step 4: Do Some Thinkin’  (Audience, Placements, Budgets)

Now we’re at the part where you’ll need to do some deeper thinking to figure out who you’ll be targeting, where you should place your ads and how to get the most bang for your buck. Let’s dig right in!

Audience/Targeting

Simply put, having precise targeting will give you the highest “relevancy” score, resonate with your potential customers and buyers, and have the highest chance of success for your goals for your FB campaign. What is the ideal prospect, customer or visitor you want to be interacting with for this campaign? If you are Nike, it might be the hype beasts who are always picking up the newest, hottest shoes.

It is a good idea to first test out a few different audiences that are still aligned with your ad type goals and then see which one your campaign resonates with most. If you're having a tough time deciding between a specific or broad audience, keep this in mind: unless your objective is to build brand awareness, go with a highly targeted audience over a broad one and think back to your objectives. If you're looking to drive traffic to your website or app, you'll want to focus on the type of people you know will be interested in your brand and what you offer.

Unless your objective is to build brand awareness, go with a highly targeted audience over a broad one and think back to your objectives.

However, if you are looking to build brand awareness or promote a widely appealing offer, feel free to focus on a more general audience. Pro tip: Once you find an audience that works well for your goals, run with that! You can also try expanding the targeting, targeting a larger percentage of lookalike audiences, or even geography, in order to take advantage of your audience.

Placement Options

It is also essential to do some thinking about where you want your ads to be, based on your product, service, and audience. There are two options. The first lets Facebook's algorithms place your ad where it will reach your selected goals. The second option gives much more granular controls to where your ads will be shown. For example, if you aren’t selling a product like sneakers, then maybe you don’t want your ads showing up in the Facebook Marketplace.

These are the current placement options for Facebook, Instagram, the Audience Network and Instagram:

 Facebook Instagram Audience Network Messenger Feeds Instant Articles In-stream Videos Right Column Suggested Videos Marketplace Stories Feeds Stories Native, Banner and Interstitials In-Stream Videos Rewarded Videos Inbox Sponsored Messages

Budgets

Beyond the apparent adage of “don't spend more than you have”, it is essential to make sure you have your budgets aligned with your bigger paid media budget and company commitments. Deciding what budget to set for testing out a new campaign can be a tricky process, but I would recommend starting small and if you see early success, then scale up. Determining early success is easy since you already know what your goals are for the campaign. For example, if your goal is a ROAS of 4 and you have spent $50 so far on your campaign which has generated $340 in sales, that’s more than a 4 ROAS, so I would increase the budget and watch carefully to see how it continues to perform.

You can set budgets at the account, campaign, ad set, and ad levels, so there is a ton of control for how much you spend. It’s also important to note that Facebook does allow for overspending of a budget by a predetermined percentage, if it is performing well. So, if you have your budget set to $100, they are actually authorized to spend up to $125.

Step 5: Build Your Audience(s)

You have your KPIs, audience ideas and conversion events all set, so time to get building! You can export your customer data list or use a nifty tool like Segment Personas to create and auto-upload your custom audience to Facebook. If you don’t have a tool like Personas or Clearbrain, then you can make your audience right in Facebook.

Create Audience

On Facebook, create an audience list through:

  • Customer file (from a tool like Segment or Clearbrain)
  • Website traffic (based on your FB pixel)
  • App activity
  • Offline activity
  • Engagement

Then, you want to map your data to identifiers like email, phone number, first name, last name, Facebook App User ID, Zip/Postal code, and more.


Now, select your original data source. Your options are:

  • From customers and partner
  • Directly from customers
  • From partners
  • Alternatively, you can copy and paste your data

You now have the chance to name your audience and edit data mapping, before your list is hashed and created, like so:

Create Lookalike Audience

Now it’s time to build a lookalike audience. A lookalike audience is another group of people that are similar to your existing customers, so you can hope to have a higher chance of success with these potential customers.

For the source, choose from the audience you have already uploaded.

Step 6: Build Your Ad Campaign

You have thought through your strategy, budgets, placements and have built out your audience or lookalike, so all that is left it to build out the actual ad. To keep it simple, we will focus on building campaigns with “Quick Creation” in FB.

Keep in mind, if you're targeting separate audiences with different characteristics, you'll need an individual ad set for each.

Have a consistent naming convention to keep everything organized. For instance:

  • Create New Campaign: Page Name/ Item Promoted/ Objective
  • Create New Ad Set: Audience Targeted/ Placement/Optimization/ Other Variations
  • Create New Ad: Post Title/ Copy Details/ Imagery Details

The good news about this section is you already did all the “thinkin’”, so it is like taking a test with all the answers. When you are building the ad, you will see a preview of what it will look like around the different placements.

Now it’s time to select your creative. Here are Facebook’s image specifications:

  • Recommended image size: 1200 x 444 pixels
  • Recommended image ratio: 8:3
  • To maximize ad delivery, use an image that contains little or no overlaid text.

For each variation you have, you will need to create a separate ad. So if you want to test three images and use the same text, then you will need to make three ads.

You won't need to worry about the tracking section if you have the pixel in place on your website.

Step 7: Publish!

Congrats! You’ve just published your first FB ad campaign!

Step 8: Test, Expand, Scale & Refine

Once you have your Facebook Ad campaign in the market for a full week or so, start looking at testing. When testing, make sure to limit the variables (ideally it would be one change) to make sure you can measure the impact of that change. Another thing you can try is testing a few different variations with drastically different designs to get some quick and significant results.

As you begin to get the hang of FB ad campaigns, continue to test your campaigns, audiences, geographies and more. Over time, you’ll figure out the right formulas for a successful campaign, and can then scale accordingly.