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How to Create a Conversion-Based Facebook Campaign

It’s no secret that, when it comes to growing a community and engaging with a fan base, social media is the undisputed champion. Unfortunately, Page Likes don’t pay the bills. It’s also no secret that businesses are seeing an average organic reach of just 1-2%, down from 16% in 2012. As the value of a Page Like continues to diminish, knowing how to execute a paid conversion-based Facebook campaign is a major feather in the cap for social media marketers.

Read on to learn the most the important elements of this process and create a Facebook ad campaign that generates actual business leads, conversions, and sales.

Identifying Goals and Managing Expectations

The key to executing a successful Facebook campaign is knowing what success will look like to your brand or business. Is it a 20% increase in monthly email opt-ins? Direct product sales? Consultation lead forms?

During this step it’s important for the marketer to manage expectations and provide the business owner or decision maker with realistic numbers.

When everyone involves has a clear vision of the desired outcome, it’s easy to reverse engineer the process and build a roadmap to meet those goals.

The Social Marketer’s Guide to Social Media ROI

Let’s say, for example, your businesses goal is to increase lead acquisitions by 20% over the next 30 days. What assets are you going to need to accomplish this? How will the business measure conversions? Will a conversion be a form submission, phone call, or an actual transaction? Many times third party software will be needed to track these off-site conversions.

These items all need to be addressed at the very start to facilitate the execution, tracking, and ongoing optimization of the campaign. Ask questions early and often to maximize the opportunity of delivering a successful campaign in the end.

Leveraging Audience Insights

If marketers are going to be successful with a paid campaign, they have to do their research. It’s imperative that businesses understand who they are selling to so they can craft a message which will result in the target audience taking the desired action.

Thankfully Facebook offers an amazing tool to research and build audiences, the Audience Insights tool.

With Audience Insights businesses can take a deep dive into the hobbies, interests and habits of their existing fans and customers, and even the general Facebook population.

The easiest way to find the Audience Insights tool is from within your Business Manager account. Once there, select your ad account, hover over Tools and select Audience Insights.


With the Audience Insights tool open, I recommend narrowing the audience by selecting geography, age, gender and either a single interest or a behavior to start. What this does is helps marketers research purchasing behaviors, page likes, interests, income levels and other commonalities among the targeted audience. These then become the targeting criteria during the setup of the ad campaign.

In the example below you can see high level targeting for an online retailer targeting 24-35 year old females. With this as the framework, this retailer can further narrow the audience size of their ad campaign by using the page likes, interests and spending habits discovered with the Audience Insights tool and use these for their targeting criteria.


Creating Your Facebook Ad

Now that we know who we’re targeting, why we’re targeting them, and we’ve acquired the necessary assets to run a successful campaign, it’s time to create our ad.

The first step in creating an ad is to select the campaign objective. It may seem obvious that if a business is running a conversion based campaign they would choose, “Increase Conversions on Your Website.” Each business will have to experiment to discover what works best for them, but I tend to lean towards “Send People To Your Website.”


In my experience, the conversions objective has a higher cost per click and smaller reach since it’s considered a “more qualified” audience based on the users conversion history with other brands.

This is good in theory, but when I know I’m targeting the right audience with a great offer I’ll lean towards the traffic volume of a click based objective knowing I’ll convert users that may not otherwise have a history of conversions.

Once an objective is chosen, enter the landing page URL, choose the desired conversion pixel (you’re using a Facebook tracking pixel, right?), and enter a name for the campaign.

The next set of options pertain to the ad set. This is where we’ll enter in the information gleaned from our audience research and in the Audience Insights tool. This is also where we’ll enter the daily budget and begin to get accurate numbers on the amount of users we can expect to reach on a daily basis.


If you chose “Send People To Your Website” as your campaign objective, stick with “Link Clicks to Your Website” as the ad delivery optimization.

I get a lot of questions on what bidding type to use. I don’t trust most ad exchanges with any type of automatic bid amounts, but Facebook I do. They seem to have an algorithm in place which really favors the advertiser when you leave the bid amount up to Facebook’s Automatic option.

Leave the “When You Get Charged” option on the default Link Click. This means the advertiser will only be charged if someone actually clicks on and visits the landing page. Facebook users are fickle bunch and will do a lot of things with ads that don’t involve visiting the landing page. Businesses don’t want to be stuck paying for those actions.

ad-set-settingsBest practices for ad creative is a little out of scope for this article, but when it comes to Facebook there are a few elements to be aware of.

For one, stick to Desktop and Mobile News Feed placements when optimizing for conversions. I tend to remove Right Column, Instagram and Audience Network by default. These placements generally don’t result in a lot of conversions.

Updating the text is obvious, right? But don’t forget that we also have full control over the Headline, Link Description, Display URL, and Call-To-Action button. These items usually pre-populate based on the landing page URL and marketers forget they have control over them. By using these items in non-conventional ways marketers can build a compelling ad which begs users to click through.


Using Facebook Reports for Ongoing Optimization

It’s important to let an ad run relatively untouched for a few business days depending on the size of the audience and the budget. This will give you a sizable amount of data to base the campaigns performance on and determine which tweaks to make.

Once I have enough data I will begin to look through the reporting to see what age groups are converting, which ad placements are resulting in conversions (mobile vs desktop news feeds), if one gender is outperforming another, or which geographical regions are more likely to convert.

For example, If I see females are outperforming males, I’ll often create a new ad set, with creative and messaging tailored specifically for that audience to further optimize cost per conversion and conversion rates with that particular audience.

Admittedly, Facebook’s Ad Manager has only a few options to optimize an ad set in comparison to a platform like Google AdWords, but that is not to say these reports can be ignored.

Knowing how to optimize an ad campaign is what separates a good social media marketer from a great one.

The Bottom Line

Selling Facebook to business owners and decisions makers and promising actual results is a tough sell. But once you show those results and a positive return on their investments, you’ll find client budgets go from pennies to infinite over the course of a few successful campaigns.

Performing these types of campaigns is never easy, and always scary. Manage expectations, don’t cut corners, ask questions, do the research, have patience, and always continue to optimize. With each campaign, you’ll find success comes just a little bit easier.

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Dallas McLaughlin

Dallas McLaughlin is a Digital Marketing Specialist at The James Agency, a full service advertising agency in Phoenix, Arizona. He blogs frequently at about Search Engine Optimization, Pay-Per-Click, and Social Media Marketing trends. If you have any questions, you can tweet him directly at @BossDJay.

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