Everyone should advertise on Facebook. Everyone.

There are over 1 billion active (and growing) Facebook users. That’s 1/7th of the world’s population. And a significant chunk of your (anyone’s) target audience, all using a website that allows for wonderfully specific targeting.

But running Facebook ad campaigns can be confusing – Facebook change their policies, there’s a myriad of options for how to structure a campaign, how best to target an audience, how to exclude people you don’t want to target … on and on. What we need is a simple run down of how to do Facebook ads right. Here’s how I would spend my first £100 on Facebook ads:

Firstly though, it’s worth noting a few things up front:

Online advertising requires patience. Usually, there are no ‘quick wins’. It can take months to hone your offer, your content and your target market. Give it time, continually adjust based on the results, and be prepared to move on if it’s not working for you.

If Facebook ads work for you, be prepared to pile into it. Facebook gives you great control over who you target and how much you spend doing it. You’ll want to be measuring your return on the ads – and if they’re working, be prepared to quickly divert funds from other less profitable sources.

But look out for decay. Online ad performance will decline over time. A campaign that works well for you will slowly stop working. Pay attention to the point at which it’s performance drops below your level of expectation for that campaign, and refresh it.

It’s all about the money. High click through rates are nice. It’s great to have an ad that sends a lot of people to your goal. But if you’re not converting those people (financially, or into email subs, or whatever conversion metric you use) then you’re wasting your money. And it’s all about the money.

So, all that said, this is how I suggest you set up your first Facebook campaign:

Step 1: Create your Facebook campaign

Step 2: Choose a type of campaign

Facebook offers you a chance to choose from different campaign types. Choices include generating page likes, converting users on your website, increasing engagement on a certain post – but for now, we’re keeping it simple: choose ‘clicks to website’. At this point we’re simply looking to drive traffic to your site.

Facebook Ads: Choose your Campaign

Step 3: Create your ad

We’re going to run ads in users news feed. That means your target audience will see your ad in their news feed – as opposed to in the page sidebar. Again, this is the simplest set up – but it’s also one of the most effective since people see it in their normal feed of information. However, to place ads in a news feed you need to have a Facebook fan page – you can create one here.

Facebook Ads: News Feed Ad

Use an interesting image for your ad. Sounds obvious, but there’s a lot of dull Facebook ads out there – and there’s no harm in using an image of yourself, particularly if your personality is a big part of why people buy your product or service.

Facebook have a policy that images in ads should not contain too much text – less than 20% of the image should be text – so make sure you’re not cramming in calls to action in the image itself

For news feed ads, the following tips will help improve performance:

  • make sure there’s a link at the top of your ad that you can track. Ideally, the link would go through to a specific landing page – not just your home page.
  • make your call to action attractive, not salesy – e.g. ‘Learn More’ has been proven to convert better than ’Shop Now’ or ‘Book Now’, etc.
  • you should un-tick the right side advertisement option. As I mentioned, right side adverts can be effective – but if you’re just starting up with Facebook ads, you should probably leave them for now. They do seem to work well when retargeting ads at people who have already visited your website, but for now, leave them be!

Step 4: Targeting an audience

And this is where Facebook really comes into it’s own! Because of the huge amount of interests and ‘likes’ people share on Facebook, they offer unprecedented targeting options for you. But, we’re going to go beyond what they initially offer you here (and remember, Facebook’s business is to get you to spend as much of your advertising money as possible. Your goal is to spend your money as effectively as possible.) and look at a couple of ways you can effectively target people directly interested in your products or services.

Facebook Ads: Choose a Market
Here, I’m trying to get really specific … it doesn’t matter to me if people are college grads, but my pool to begin with was too big. I needed to narrow somehow. Later, I went on to choose specific metropolitan areas in the UK to keep the target numbers down.

i) Method 1: your current customers

You can use your current customers to target similar people on Facebook (we’re not going to cover custom audiences here, but this is still pretty slick). Here’s how:

  • Enter in the email address of your top 15 best customers into Facebook, and pull up their Facebook pages.
  • Navigate to the section which shows you what pages they like, what interests they have etc.
  • Record the information in a spreadsheet. What you’re looking for is similarities between them.
  • If a couple of your top customers like the same pages / companies, then it’s worth targeting other people who like those same pages.

ii) Method 2: your competitors

Your competitors will clearly have people who you would like to advertise to … so, visit a competitors Facebook page, bring up the list of people who like that page, and repeat the steps above: record their likes and look for overlaps. Keep doing this and you’re building up a profile, a network of pages, that you can target your ad towards.


At this stage, my advice would be to ignore Facebook’s attempts to broaden your search with some straightforward ‘catch all’ groups. It’s tempting to increase your reach by as much as possible – but remember, your goal is different from Facebook’s (ad efficiency vs. ad spend)

Ideally, you’re looking to narrow your audience by as much as possible – the narrower your target group, the more likely they are to convert (if you’ve done your targeting properly).

TOP TIP: try to avoid buying likes. Likes are great – and good for the ego – but they don’t convert in a controlled way. Facebook determines how many of your fans see your content – typically only about 10% of people who like your page will see your post content. You’re not in control of that – so by all means promote your page, but buying likes to it does not give you control over your reach.

Step 5: Set your budget

It pays to start small. Facebook allows you to go as low as £1 per day … but as a balance, you want to generate a few clicks to your site just to see that it’s working to start with. Try starting at £3 per day, and see where that lands you.

Set budget for facebook ads

I also recommend setting a maximum price for a click. Facebook gives you the option to let them ‘Automatically optimise your bid to get more clicks’, and that’s all well and good – but I like to be in control of my maximum cost per click. Try something like £0.60 per click … sure, that’s quite a lot of money per click but should get you at least 5 clicks per day – and once you’ve got some traffic coming in, you can always lower that amount.

Step 6: Track and measure ROI

Okay, so now you’re up and running … you’re going to want to see a return on those ads. So, for every click you get, you’re going to need to assign both a measurable action and a value to that action.

For instance, in the campaign I set up above, I’m sending people to the page about my book (the missing manual for website owners). The action I want people to take on that page is to sign up for my email list. There are sign up boxes on the right hand side, and through the body content.

Then, I attempt to assign a value to my email list. That’s trickier because the book is not for sale yet – but, working on figures that would be slightly below industry averages, I would reckon on approximately £10 profit per book sale. I would reckon on 1 book sale per 20 email sign ups, so 20 email addresses makes me £10.

So if I’m spending £3 per day, I need to get approx. 6 or 7 email sign ups per day from my Facebook campaign to break even.

Realistically, I’m not going to be able to do that – but the value of the email address to me goes beyond the simple math of selling my book. In the lifetime of that customer, I would hope to be able to up-sell further products – so I’m willing to take a hit up front in order to secure that email address.

Step 7: Review & Adjust

So, now what? Well, you’ve got to look over your figures again and again … and adjust your campaign (or start new ones) based on the data you receive. Don’t be passive about it – online advertising is very much an active activity; stay on top of the responses, welcome your new subscribers, nurture your list and your campaigns.

And let me know how you get on.