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Back in high school, one of my best friends told me that her foreign language course of choice was going to be German. I remember my friends and I laughing about it with her, asking why she was trying to make school any more difficult for herself than she had to. Let’s face it—German is an extra-challenging language and teenagers have demanding lives as it is (or so I thought back then).

It can be easy to avoid a task when it seems difficult, so a lot of my classmates didn’t take German, but took more mainstream courses like Spanish or Italian. Many business owners that I talk to think that it’s very difficult to run a successful Facebook ad campaign, so they avoid it altogether. This is because learning Facebook ads can be like learning a new language, especially if you’re not familiar with the basics of social media marketing.

In today’s day and age, it’s mandatory to use Facebook ads for social media marketing success. And, there’s a lot more than meets the eye that goes into setting up your campaign. You first have to choose your objective, then you design an ad, and then you have to carefully select your audience based on a plethora of criteria. Once the ad is up and running, it’s necessary to monitor progress and analytics to improve your ad over time, to make sure that you’re serving the most effective advertising to the audience you want to see your ads.

So what does a successful Facebook ad look like? Next time you set up a campaign, look out for these factors:

1) A high click-through rate (CTR)

The higher your ad click-through rate, the more successful and effective your Facebook ads are with your chosen audience. This gives you an idea of the percentage of overall users out of your selected target audience that found your ad relevant. Facebook ads contain some type of link that either drives traffic to a link or prompts the audience to “like” a page, and analyzing your click-through rate will help you test and improve your ad as time goes on to see what’s effective. If your CTR is 1% or lower, your ad is in need of some serious TLC and should be edited and optimized for success. You might not be clearly communicating what you have to offer, or you might not be serving your ad to the right audience. You’ll know you’re doing really well with a CTR of 2% or higher.

2) A low cost-per-click (CPC)

The CPC of an ad is measured by any click taken within an ad unit. This includes a like, a comment, a share or a click to a website. The more relevant your ad is, the higher your CTR will be, lowering your CPC. So what necessarily is a good cost-per? It depends on your budget and how you’re bidding compares to your competitors, but I would say .30 cents per click or lower is a good start. Before you set the ad, you have a choice to set a maximum bid price for each engagement or have Facebook automatically optimize your cost-per price. If you’d like to make sure you’re displaying your ads to the most relevant users, you’ll want Facebook to automatically optimize your cost-per price to get an idea of what it takes to beat out the competition, and then base your maximum bid price based on that if necessary

3) A clear call-to-action

Does your ad provide a good understanding of what the value proposition is and then give clear instructions on what the viewer should do next? If so, you’ll see an increased response with a high CTR and low CPC. Depending on your objective, you can use Facebook’s built in call-to-action buttons so you’ll know how to direct the viewer to take action. If you’re using ads to promote a retail sale, you can choose call-to-action “Shop Now” and lead the viewer to a relevant page on your site. If you want to increase attendance at your event, use “Sign Up”. Make it easy for users to understand what they have to do, and you’ll see your ad response increase.

4) Optimized design

One of the most important aspects of a successful Facebook ad is making sure that it stands out and draws attention! Different ad objectives require different recommended dimensions for photo size, and you’ll also have to take into account if your ad will be shown on desktop, mobile and sidebar. Make sure your photo will automatically be optimized to fit each ad format so it’s clearly visible in each form. Use a relevant, high-quality image for your post. Facebook ad images can only have 20% text, so use Facebook’s grid tool to measure text before you launch your campaign. Check out Facebook’s recommended image sizes for each objective here.

Want to see an example of what a successful Facebook ad campaign looks like? A few months back, we ran a low-budget ad campaign for our client that generated a large response and return-on-investment (ROI). Click below to read the case study!