Facebook Ad Campaign Process: Build Audience, Leads and Conversions

Every Thursday, I host three one-on-one sessions, and the discussion almost always inevitably focuses on one thing: A Facebook ad campaign process that actually works.

What I’m about to outline is a process that I have worked and reworked, tweaked and refined. It’s specifically for advertisers who don’t currently have a large, built-in audience to target for leads and sales.

Let’s get to it…

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The Problem

The process I see from far too many advertisers is painfully simple: Target interests and Lookalike Audiences to build leads and sell stuff.

While this simplified process can be successful for a while, it doesn’t lead to long-term success. Your campaign will ultimately run out of gas.

I’ll say it over and over again, but the number one reason that advertisers fail with Facebook ads is targeting. They go straight for the jugular by targeting people who don’t know them to get the lead or sale.

Sure, this can work for a while. Cost per lead and sale will eventually creep up to the point that it is no longer viable. If you want consistent results, you need a better long-term plan.

The Solution

Instead of a simple one-step process (target one audience that doesn’t know you to build leads or sell stuff), it’s a little more complicated than that. It doesn’t need to be a lot more complicated. But I recommend focusing on three objectives at a time — all the time.

1. Build the Audience

Back in the day, most people interpreted this as increasing page likes. Or it could have meant building your email list. But I’m not talking about either one here.

If you don’t have a large, built-in audience, you need to aggressively and efficiently build an audience in volume. We’ll do this by promoting helpful articles (driving traffic and building a Website Custom Audience) and videos (building an Engagement on Facebook Custom Audience).

2. Build Your Leads

The mistake is that most advertisers start here, targeting people who don’t know them. We won’t do that. We’ll target the audiences created in Step 1 to build leads by offering them a related freebie in exchange for an email address.

This could be an ebook, webinar, video series, coupon code, you name it. But it needs to be valuable. And we’ll build these leads by both driving people to a landing page and using Facebook Lead Ads.

3. Sell Stuff

Once again, far too many advertisers start and finish here. While you could certainly target the audience generated from Step 1, you’ll undoubtedly have more success targeting those generated from Step 2.

Now let’s get to the details…

Build the Audience

I recommend two ongoing campaigns with two separate objectives to build your audience. For each objective, target the types of audiences you may have been targeting without this process. They can be Lookalike Audiences or interests. This is top of the funnel type stuff.

But the key here is that you’re not wasting your money on this entire audience trying to get them to opt-in or buy something. Lookalike Audiences and interests aren’t all that accurate. And even if they are, many of those people may not be ready to buy or even provide an email address yet.

This step helps separate those who are potential customers from those who aren’t by providing low barrier, no-strings-attached, helpful content.

1. Build a Website Custom Audience

The objective of this campaign should be Clicks to Website. Within this campaign, promote your most successful blog post. Something that helps people, solves a problem and doesn’t sell anything. Those who would be interested in the solution that this blog post offers need to be your target audience.

Promote Blog Post

Alternatively or concurrently, you can also use a carousel ad to promote multiple blog posts. Again, they need to be helpful. Solve problems that your target audience would have.

Promote Carousel

For this to work, you’ll of course need the Facebook pixel on your website. Create the following Website Custom Audiences:

  • Visited Your Website – 30 Days
  • Viewed [Popular Blog Post] – 180 Days
Create Website Custom Audience

For argument’s sake, let’s assume you like to target both Lookalike Audiences and interests. So create two different ad sets.

  • Ad Set #1: Lookalike Audiences
  • Ad Set #2: Interests

Don’t get crazy with the interests. Select a few good ones. If you need help finding relevant interests, use Audience Insights.

When promoting a single blog post, make sure to exclude those who have already read that blog post (using the second WCA you created above). We’ll also want to exclude anyone who registered or bought in the “Build Your Leads” and “Sell Stuff” steps. Details to follow.

Exclude Audience

Feel free to mostly use Facebook’s default settings in Power Editor (yes, you should use Power Editor). I prefer daily budgets over lifetime, but that’s up to you. I also prefer to be charged for the impression rather than the click, but that is also a personal preference.

Charged for the Impression

Don’t do any manual bidding. Have Facebook optimize for the website click.

2. Build an Engagement on Facebook Custom Audience

Another way to quickly and efficiently build a relevant audience in volume is through video views. Create a short, helpful video that solves your target audience’s problem. Make sure to use captions because most videos are watched without sound.

The objective of this campaign should be Video Views. Create two ad sets targeting the same audiences as above. You’ll also, though, want to create Engagement on Facebook Custom Audiences as follows:

  • Viewed [Your Video] 50% – 30 Days
  • Viewed [Your Video] 50% – 365 Days
Video Views Engagement on Facebook Custom Audiences

[NOTE: As I type this, not everyone has Engagement on Facebook Custom Audiences. If you don’t have them yet, you can skip the video.]

What percentage you use is up to you. It depends on the length of the video. Clearly, the smaller the percentage, the larger the audience and less relevant it will be.

You’ll want to exclude the second audience within each of these two ad sets. We don’t want to keep targeting people who watched the video with this video.

We’ll also want to exclude anyone who registered or bought in the “Build Your Leads” and “Sell Stuff” steps.

Stick with the defaults on everything here. Again, it’s up to you whether you use daily or lifetime budgets. But you’ll want to optimize for the video view. Don’t do any manual bidding.

Build Your Leads

Let’s think about this. We have people who have read our helpful blog posts or watched our helpful videos. This tells us that they are in our target audience. So now let’s take them a step further and present them with a free offer that requires an email address in exchange.

Once again, I want you to create two different campaigns for this. The primary reason is to find what works best for you.

1. Drive to a Landing Page

This is the old fashioned way. I’m beginning to favor Facebook Lead Ads, but I don’t think it’s time to abandon the landing page yet.

Your objective should be Website Conversions. Before you get started, create the following Website Custom Audiences:

  • Visited Opt-in Thank You Page – 30 Days
  • Visited Opt-in Thank You Page – 180 Days

You are going to create two ad sets targeting the following audiences:

  • Ad Set #1: Visited Your Website – 30 Days
  • Ad Set #2: Viewed Your Video – 30 Days

Exclude the second WCA created for the opt-in thank you page (180 days) as well as the Lead Ad Custom Audience (90 days) that we’re about to create. Also exclude those who bought the product in the next step (we’ll get to that).

Note that you can (and probably should) also create an Email Custom Audience of those who registered. If you can, use a third party tool that keeps it synced at all times (I use DriftRock Flow), and also exclude that audience.

Optimize for conversions, and stick primarily with Facebook defaults.

2. Use Facebook Lead Ads

If you already send people to a landing page, it’s time to start experimenting with Facebook Lead Ads. They are much easier for the user, and can lead to greater volume.

Remember that the Lead Ad needs to be your landing page. So don’t use identical copy and imagery that you’d use when sending people to a landing page. Be more descriptive.

Create the following Lead Ad Custom Audiences:

  • Opened and Submitted Lead Form – 30 Days
  • Opened and Submitted Lead Form – 90 Days
Facebook Lead Ad Custom Audiences

[NOTE: Once again, these come from Engagement on Facebook Custom Audiences. If you don’t have these yet, skip this step.]

The ad sets and targeting will be the same as when sending people to a landing page. Exclusions will also be the same. To recap, we’re excluding the following:

  • Visited Opt-in Thank You Page – 180 Days
  • Opened and Submitted Lead Form – 90 Days
  • Registered (Email Custom Audience)
  • Bought the product we’ll promote (Thank You Page Website Custom Audience – 180 Days)
  • Bought the product we’ll promote (Email Custom Audience)

Sell Stuff

Now it’s time to sell our stuff. As you’ve probably figured out by now, the audience we’re about to target will be much smaller than what most advertisers target to sell.

The objective of your campaign should be Website Conversions. You’ll create two different ad sets targeting the following people:

  • Visited Opt-in Thank You Page – 30 Days
  • Opened and Submitted Lead Form – 30 Days

And we’ll exclude the following audiences:

  • Bought the product we’ll promote (Thank You Page Website Custom Audience – 180 Days)
  • Bought the product we’ll promote (Email Custom Audience)

For bidding, we will use Daily Unique Reach instead of sticking with the defaults.

Daily Unique Reach

Let’s explain why…

Normally, we’re targeting a large audience and we invite Facebook to optimize. By optimizing, Facebook finds the people within our audience most likely to perform our desired action.

But in this case, we’re targeting a much smaller, much more relevant audience. We don’t want Facebook to pick and choose whom to reach. We want them to reach as many of the people who registered as possible.

But we’re only targeting those who registered during the past 30 days. That way, if they don’t buy after a month of ads, we can stop wasting our money on them.

Don’t Forget Your Email Funnel

Part of our process is building our email list and then selling to those people. So we should concurrently email these people consistent messaging to push for the sale.

Most marketers miss this step. They tend to either run Facebook ads to those who opted in for the sale or send them emails for the sale — rarely both. The thought is that if they’re already doing it in one place, it’s a waste of money to do it in both.

Not true. The reality is that not everyone opens your emails. And even those who open your emails don’t act immediately. Additionally, not everyone who sees your ads act immediately.

By running both, you make each method more effective. Someone who saw your email but didn’t act on it may be more familiar with your offer when they see your ad and vice versa.

Your Turn

This is a simple process that anyone can use and I recommend to advertisers of all levels. Anything you’d add?

Let me know in the comments below!