April 22, 2021

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9 Creative Ways to Optimize Facebook Ads Cost and ROAS via @hoffman8

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Facebook Ads is a major source of revenue for advertisers big and small around the world but it can be finicky at times.

Here are 9 ways to optimize your campaigns to drive a better return on ad spend (ROAS) on the world’s largest social network.

1. Drive More Data

Oftentimes, poor ROAS in Facebook comes from a very well-intentioned and common mistake: over-segmentation. We PPC folks sure love to be in control — but so does Facebook.

I have to admit, Facebook’s bidding algorithms are pretty good. In order for them to achieve their full potential, though, they have to be able to get out of learning mode (and more).

Because Facebook *loves* data and relies on it to make bidding decisions, when data is limited it hampers your ability to optimize.

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Even if an ad set is driving conversions, low data volume will cause inconsistent performance which can cause your cost-per-result to be volatile.

So when we advertisers try to break down ad sets into super granular targets, the bidding algorithm rebels.

Over-segmenting audiences can limit data and make it difficult to get consistent performance.

Testing the removal of segmentation around devices, platforms, etc. can be a way to improve performance if conversion volume is low or inconsistent.

Sometimes it’s not even that you’ve over-segmented. You may not have segmentation in place for devices or demographics, but if your audience is really small or the geography that you’re targeting has a narrow focus, you may wind up with an ad set that is too small to get out of learning mode.

In that case, sometimes combining multiple converting audiences can help aggregate enough data to perform better than they did individually.

2. Look for the Outliers

A common mistake that I see during account audits is that once something launches, the targeting never changes. Take a look at the performance breakdowns and see if something needs to change.

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Is there an age range that isn’t performing well? A placement? Sometimes even a full platform is gobbling up the budget without producing much in return.

I know I just said not to over segment – and I stand by that – but if something needs to be trimmed down to perform better, it’s worth it.

If your ad set becomes too small as a result, you can test combining it with another one to see if it will perform better.

3. Test Different Objectives

Testing new objectives can be another way to improve ROAS. Oftentimes, my clients will use a mix of campaign objectives, depending upon their goals.

Some clients have had really nice boosts in ROAS from leveraging dynamic remarketing versus static remarketing, for instance.

In another case, a client started testing lead gen forms and had over a 7x increase in conversion rate leading to a really nice lift in return.

There are a lot of different ways that different objectives can be tested to improve performance, so get creative and see what works best for you!

4. Test Different Bid Strategies

Sometimes testing a different bid strategy can give your campaign the gas it needs.

I see a lot of folks tempted to use cost caps, probably because we’re used to having more manual bidding strategy options in other channels and, again, many of us – myself included – like to have control.

However, while I have seen cost caps work in certain instances, I’ve more often seen them restrict results volume.

Because Facebook relies on volume to make good bidding decisions, they sometimes aren’t actually the most cost-effective bidding strategy.

Rather, I prefer to test “lowest cost” or, in the case of ecommerce, “value-based” bidding.

Lowest cost bidding strategies allow you to tell Facebook which result you want to optimize toward (clicks, Facebook lead form leads, conversions, etc.) and it tells Facebook to get as many of those as they can within the budget you’ve defined, for as low of a cost per result as possible.

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I commonly see lowest cost bid strategies drive more volume and lower costs than cost caps, but it means you have less control so you have to put some trust in the algorithm.

I recommend testing this with a low budget, as Facebook’s bidding algorithm also seems to get a better foothold if it starts with a small budget and then scales.

Value-based bidding allows you to define a conversion with a value and set a minimum ROAS threshold. Facebook will use those values to maximize volume while attempting to meet or exceed your ROAS goals.

Here’s an example: one of my clients was very focused on cost of acquisition (CAC) so they had been using cost caps religiously.

After some digging, the reason they were so focused on CAC was that they knew that was the number they needed to hit in order to have a profitable ROAS.

We flipped the bidding strategy over to optimize toward value and as a result, Facebook more than tripled the conversion volume while decreasing the CAC by about 27%.

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Using cost caps can work, too; don’t get me wrong. If you’re driving a lot of volume and it’s relatively close but oftentimes over the cost per result that you could sustainably pay for, then it can be worth testing cost caps.

All of that is to say that testing your bidding strategy can help you improve your return!

5. Test New Creatives

Creatives are king on Facebook. If there’s a target that doesn’t seem to be working, it could just be that the creative isn’t resonating.

Test, test, test those creatives!

Test different formats and, if you have the resources to create different creatives for different placements, it can absolutely be worth customizing your ads to deliver different assets in different placements.

If you don’t customize your creative by placement, make sure to use the Post IDs to leverage the same ad unit with aggregated comments and engagements across multiple different ad sets.

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This will allow you to acquire engagement more quickly, which can act as a source of credibility for unfamiliar prospects.

6. Optimize Your Mobile Experience

Because so much social traffic comes from mobile, it’s really important to keep an eye on your mobile experience.

If you have a low page-speed or a site that is difficult to navigate on mobile – especially if it requires a lot of clicks — it’s going to take a toll on your conversion rate.

Furthermore, anyone who has gone through the checkout process on a mobile phone knows that it can be a painful experience.

If the only option for new prospects is to fill out several fields of data with their thumbs, you’ll likely see a drop-off.

A client of mine had this issue, where we noticed that several folks were falling out of the funnel after having added something to their cart – even with free shipping!

After implementing accelerated checkout, they saw a 72% increase in sales completion from Add To Cart to sale.

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Mobile experiences can play a big role in your Facebook Ads performance (or most any social ads, for that matter).

7. Reduce Friction

That last point segues fairly nicely into reducing friction.

There are a lot of ways that you can reduce friction in the platform, including some we’ve already covered above: testing ways that they can convert on Facebook or improving your CRO to reduce friction on-site.

If you have well-oiled systems for converting higher funnel leads, such as high-converting email nurture systems, another way to reduce friction could be accomplished by driving folks to a higher funnel micro-conversion.

Those conversions are typically much less expensive to achieve, so if you can drive those leads at a low cost and then convert them through the funnel with email, it’s a no-brainer!

For example, a client of mine ultimately reduced their cost per sale by 35% by pushing harder on higher funnel lead gen and then using offline tactics to nurture and convert their leads.

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I’ve also had clients find success with targeting higher funnel purchaser behaviors like add-to-cart (ATC) or begin checkout, if it meant that there would be more data to optimize toward since Facebook’s bidding algorithm thrives on data.

Note: It’s pretty common to see a decline in ATC to Sale when optimizing to ATC. However, the increased volume of ATC at a significantly lower cost can still lead to a lower CAC and ultimately a better ROAS.

I recommend always running a remarketing campaign targeting people that didn’t complete their purchase after adding-to-cart (assuming there’s enough data). It’s especially important if you are optimizing to add-to-cart because there can be more funnel fallout, which leads to a prime target.

8. Test Different Journeys

Sometimes testing a different journey can help to find better cost-efficiency. Regardless of the length of your customer journey, there are still different paths that your prospects could take to learn more and ultimately convert.

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Sometimes sending people right to the product page and optimizing toward purchases just ain’t it. (Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t.)

For instance, I’ve mentioned a few examples above, such as using lead gen forms and following up with email drip campaigns. Or, optimizing toward a higher funnel conversion such as add-to-cart, then remarketing folks that don’t complete their purchase.

One of my clients once initially struggled to convert folks. It was a high-cost sale and one that required quite a bit of consideration. Folks were visiting multiple pages on the site, bounce rates were low but we weren’t getting conversions.

Furthermore, heatmapping showed a high percentage of prospects scrolling the full page. The stats indicated that prospects were interested but not informed enough to be prepared to convert.

We tested running a video view campaign with a lot of third-party reviews and media mentions and then remarketed those video views.

Our click-through conversion volume began ramping up. We also started seeing assisted conversions increasing in Google Analytics from the video campaigns.

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The key when you move to a higher-funnel entry point is to ensure that you don’t leave holes in the journey.

For instance, if you start optimizing toward a micro-conversion, there should be a follow-up campaign to keep moving folks through the journey – even if that campaign isn’t a paid campaign.

9. Test Better Qualifying Audiences

Having first-party data to leverage is a great start. I often find that first-party audiences, and lookalikes built off of them, can perform better than Facebook’s interests.

To take that one step further, though, I prefer more qualified audiences — if there’s enough data to do so.

For instance, lead gen advertisers, you could pull a list of Sales, Opportunities, SQLs, or MQLs (depending on how much data that you have at each level) versus pulling a list of all leads to base your lookalikes on.

Qualifying your lists gives Facebook a more specific reference point as to exactly who you hope to target.

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Better yet, leveraging audiences that incorporate values are even more successful. For instance, you could base your lists off of high-value purchasers, repeat purchasers, etc.

Test different audience segmentation and see if it helps you to improve your ROAS!

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