How to Create a Basic Evergreen Facebook Ad Campaign

One of the primary struggles Facebook advertisers face is ad fatigue. They’ll run a campaign that works great for a while, but then it suddenly stops working. The evergreen Facebook ad campaign is a technique that can help.

I first wrote about this process more than a year ago. It has been a significant source of questions since, and I thought it would be a good time to take a second look.

The post I wrote and subsequent experiment that I ran were admittedly complicated. The test campaign consisted of a series of eight ads over a period of 32 days. The truth is that this level of complexity isn’t necessary to successfully run an evergreen campaign.

So the purpose of today’s post is to provide the steps you can follow to create the most basic evergreen campaign. From there, you can feel free to add more complexity if you choose.

The Need for Evergreen Facebook Ad Campaigns

One of the primary reasons your campaign stops performing at a high level is that you continuously reach the same people over time. Those who convert are no longer targeted (or you keep targeting those who convert, which is bad). Facebook begins showing your ad to people less likely to convert. Those who don’t convert keep seeing your ad, and it eventually becomes white noise.

Engagement level will tend to go down. The number of reports of negative feedback will tend to go up. Costs to reach people (CPM) will also begin to surge. Eventually, that campaign will no longer be profitable.

In theory, a campaign that is working today should continue to work for months at a time if…

  1. The promotion maintains value
  2. The targeted audience maintains high quality
  3. The targeted audience remains continuously fresh

While all three of these things are important, the impetus of the evergreen Facebook ad campaign is the third: Keeping your audience continuously fresh.

That’s the challenge. But we can win that challenge thanks to Custom Audiences that use durations.

Define Your Basic Funnel

Before we get started, we need to define a basic funnel that we’ll be working with. There are two primary things that we need to isolate:

  1. Campaign Trigger (usually an opt-in)
  2. Campaign Goal (usually a purchase)

These two things should be related. Those who perform the first action should be a natural fit for the second.

An example would be a free webinar about Facebook ad success as the trigger and sign-ups for a related Facebook ads training program as the campaign goal.

Define Your Trigger

Once you’ve defined your basic funnel, now it’s time to isolate those people who perform your trigger action. Trigger actions have these characteristics:

  • The action will only be performed once
  • The time of the action can be isolated with Custom Audience durations

I wrote a blog post that provided examples of evergreen campaign triggers. But the most common would be a registration of some kind.

Understand that some level of volume is required for this to work. If you have only five people performing your trigger action per day, your campaign may never run.

Some examples of campaign triggers:

  • Purchased a related product
  • Registered for something
  • Engaged with a specific Facebook video, canvas or blog post

Clearly, there will be less potential for volume with the first than the second, and with the second than the third. But the quality of the audience will also be higher with the top two. If you can, use a registration as your trigger.

Create a Custom Audience for Your Trigger

To assure you have some volume coming in on your trigger action, I recommend that you run a second campaign promoting it. How you run that campaign is up to you (and starts to make this post more complicated than is necessary), but I’d always recommend targeting a warm audience like website visitors.

The primary thing we are looking to do here is to target an audience of people who performed your trigger action during a recent period of time. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll say during the past 10 days. But you can adjust that time period based on volume, ad spend and other factors.

Going back to our possibilities for a trigger, let’s look at what custom audience(s) you’ll need to create.

Trigger #1: Purchased a Related Product

In this case, the only way we can create an audience of people who purchased a related product while utilizing durations is with Website Custom Audiences. We’d want to create an audience of those who hit the thank you page after purchasing that product during the past 10 days.

Facebook Website Custom Audience Purchase

If you don’t have a unique thank you page for each product, you’ll need to use other methods for generating that audience. Most people won’t be using this trigger due to volume, so I won’t focus on it here.

Trigger #2: Registered for Something

This would be ideal for most advertisers, assuming you can get the volume. If you can get at least 10-20 registrants per day, it will work as your trigger.

There are two main ways you can create an audience of people who registered for something during the past 10 days. The first is with a Website Custom Audience of the thank you page…

Facebook Website Custom Audience Registration

If you use lead ads, you’ll need to also create a custom audience for those who registered via that method during the past 10 days…

Facebook Lead Form Custom Audience Registered

Trigger #3: Engaged With a Specific Facebook Video, Canvas or Blog Post

While this option tends to provide more volume (it’s easier to drive traffic or engagement for a low price to build these audiences), they can also be tricky in the case of an evergreen campaign. Recall that the trigger needs to be something that someone will do only once. So if you’re promoting a video, canvas or blog post, you have to make sure that they don’t perform that same action a second time (otherwise, the campaign will restart for that person).

First, let’s create a custom audience for the engagement action.

The trigger action could be someone viewing a video. In that case, I’d recommend creating an audience of anyone who watched at least 50% of the video. But that would depend on the length of the video.

Facebook Video View Custom Audience

If you’ve experimented with Facebook Canvas, engagement with a specific Canvas could also be your trigger.

Facebook Canvas Custom Audience

You could also create an audience of anyone who read a particular blog post. To make sure people don’t read it multiple times (and restart your campaign), you may want to use a hidden page. Another option would be UTM codes when promoting that post and creating the audience.

Facebook Website Custom Audience Blog Post UTM

IMPORTANT: If you are running a separate campaign to promote one of these three triggers, make sure you exclude anyone who already performed that action from that campaign’s targeting. Otherwise, they could perform that action a second time, restarting the evergreen campaign.

Evergreen Campaign: Objective

Now you’re ready to create your evergreen campaign. When I first wrote about this more than a year ago, I suggested using Conversions or Traffic objectives. Either continue to be fine, assuming you use Daily Unique Reach bidding at the ad set level.

But a new option that came along since then is something I now prefer: Reach.

Facebook Reach Campaign Objective

The reasoning for my preference will be clearer at the ad set level.

Evergreen Campaign: Targeting

Now we finally put that trigger audience we created above to good use.

Evergreen Facebook Campaign Targeting

If you are using a registration as your trigger and you also used lead ads, make sure to target audiences of people who registered on your website and those who registered via lead ads during the past 10 days.

Notice that I’m also excluding anyone who already purchased the product that I’m promoting (my Campaign Goal defined earlier). There’s no reason to continue targeting them in this campaign if they’ve already performed that action.

When using these custom audiences, also make sure that you remove all geographic targeting or use the “Worldwide” option.

Evergreen Facebook Campaign Targeting Location

That assumes, of course, that location doesn’t matter. For me, I don’t care where someone lives as long as they performed the trigger action. But if you only sell to people in certain countries, you’d obviously need to consider that filtering.

Evergreen Campaign: Bidding

Keep in mind that we don’t want Facebook to optimize in this case. Optimizing would mean showing your ad only to people who are most likey to perform your desired action. Well, they already performed the trigger action, so we know that we want to target them.

If you’re using the Conversions or Traffic objectives, use Daily Unique Reach bidding, as instructed in my original blog post on evergreen campaigns.

Evergreen Facebook Campaign Daily Unique Reach

With Daily Unique Reach bidding, Facebook will show it to as many people within your audience as possible, but no more than once per day.

It’s up to you whether you use automatic or manual bidding here. In my original post, I recommended a high manual bid to reach as many people as possible. But that can also drive costs up. Experiment!

If you’re using the Reach objective, you’ll want to optimize for Reach and set a Frequency Cap.

Evergreen Facebook Campaign Reach

Similar to Daily Unique Reach, your ad will be shown to as many people within your audience as possible, but no more than once per number of days set by the Frequency Cap.

This is where I prefer the Reach objective. It provides options for how often you want to reach people.

Once again, test to determine whether automatic or manual bidding are necessary. If you aren’t getting distribution using automatic, you may need to set a high manual bid.

Evergreen Campaign: Placement

Since we’re showing these ads to as many people within our small audience as possible, but typically no more than once per day or so, we’ll want to be smart about our placement. Why? While right-hand column can be effective, I wouldn’t want to waste my one daily impression there.

Evergreen Facebook Campaign Placement

It’s up to you whether you use Instagram or Instant Articles placement, but the safe bet is using Facebook feeds only.

Evergreen Campaign: Budget

I’m not going to tell you what to set as a budget here, but just know that if the audience being tageted is small, you’re going to spend very small amounts of money per day. I often spend only $1 or $2 per day, depending on the evergreen campaign.

Remember, though, that we’ve capped daily impressions with Daily Unique Reach or Reach bidding. In either case, the most you’ll reach a single person is once per day.

As a result, you can set your budget high, and it won’t matter. There’s a limit to the number of impressions you can get — Facebook won’t be able to waste money with high frequency.

Evergreen Campaign: Recap

Minus some customization that differ from case to case (budget, schedule, ad copy and imagery), that’s pretty much it! But if it doesn’t make sense, here’s what we just did…

  1. Promoted a trigger action that a user will only perform once
  2. Created an audience of people who performed that action during the past 10 days
  3. Created an evergreen campaign targeting those who performed that trigger action, promoting a related product

So once someone registers for your trigger offer, for example, they’ll automatically be added to the 10-day Website Custom Audience. They will then be targeted in your evergreen campaign promoting the related product. If they don’t buy that product within 10 days, they’ll fall out of that campaign.

The result: You’ll constantly promote a relevant product to a small audience of people who recently registered for something related, and you’ll reach them for no more than 10 days. The campaign’s target will consistently be fresh, and you won’t bombard people with an offer for weeks or months at a time.

Evergreen Campaign: Customize

In it’s simplest form, an evergreen campaign is the creation one campaign that promotes a product targeting a small number of people who just performed a trigger action for a limited amount of time. But you can customize how this is done.

If the number of people in your trigger audience is just too low, feel free to increase the duration of the custom audience from 10. Or if you’re satisfied with the volume, you can lower the duration to further limit waste.

You can also make this a campaign funnel, as discussed in my original post. Instead of one ad, it could be a series of several ads. In that case, you’ll need to creatively use durations to make this work. Go back to my original post for details!

Your Turn

Create your own evergreen campaign. What were your trigger and final objective? How is it performing?

Let me know in the comments below!