6 Steps to Optimize Your Facebook Ads Campaign From the Beginning

Whether you are completely new to Facebook ads or you have already run a few campaigns, check out these 6 simple steps to set up your Facebook ad campaigns the right way and get the most conversions.

Facebook usage is through the roof, and it’s only going to continue to increase. Facebook ads are quickly becoming the most cost-effective way to reach out to targeted audiences and to increase sales dramatically.

Whether you are completely new to Facebook ads or you have already run a few campaigns, check out these 6 simple steps to set up your Facebook ad campaigns the right way and get the most conversions.

1. Install Facebook Pixel

This is basically Facebook’s version of the Google Analytics code. Simply put this code everywhere on your site so that you can start getting analytic data that will help you optimize your ads. You MUST set this up because Facebook will not do it automatically. While it is possible to make money from your Facebook ads without the Pixel, you won’t get very far without it.

Facebook pixel analytics

The Base Pixel code is the code you want to place on your entire website. Once it’s set up, choose from 9 different standard conversion events that you want the Pixel to track, depending on what you want to optimize. For instance, if you want to know exactly how many purchases your customers made from the Facebook Ad, use the “purchase” event so that the pixel will count a purchase as a conversion. Make sure in the settings that it’s set to track conversions from the pixel, because a lot of times this is not automatically set!

9 standard conversion events

You can also create custom conversions for tracking specific events like a particular whitepaper download for a special holiday giveaway.

Use Audience Insights to track audience demographics and behaviors with Facebook pixel and get a better idea of who your audience actually is.

2. Choose the Right Campaign Objective

With so many different campaign objectives to choose from, it can be really hard to know exactly what to choose for your business. It all depends on your type of business. Here’s what you should choose depending on your business type and goals.

campaign objectives

Brick and Mortar

Use “store visits” and “brand awareness”.

Although there isn’t a way to directly keep track of store visits through Facebook (not yet, at least), the “store visits” option provides a map location directly on the ad so your customers can find your store easily.

The “brand awareness” campaign is great for getting your name out there in your area. This works well for both small, local businesses and new businesses trying to get more eyeballs.

Also, you can run a “promote business locally” campaign, which is through the page manager, not ads manager. With this campaign, you can set up “click to call” for mobile ads. Having the click to call option makes it incredibly easy for your audience to get a hold of your business.


Use “product catalog sales”, “conversions”, or “traffic”.

Similar to an AdWords shopping campaign, “product catalog sales” shows products from your catalog, depending on who you’re targeting.

The “conversions” campaign is perfect for promoting a particular product. If you’re trying to push a certain product or if you have a special deal on one specific item, this is what you should use.

Use “traffic” campaign for times when you need to get as much traffic to your site as possible, like during black friday or cyber monday. Since this type targets a broader audience compared to a “conversions” campaign, the cost per click is lower than a targeted “conversions” campaign.


Use “app installs”

This one’s self-explanatory. The “app installs” campaign lets customers purchase or download your app right on the spot.

Business to Consumer/Business to Business

Use “brand awareness”, “traffic”, or “conversions”.

Once again, the “brand awareness” campaign is meant for newer companies trying to get their name out there, grow awareness, and get eyeballs.

A majority of the time, you’ll be using either a “traffic” or “conversions” campaign. As you already know, “conversions” campaigns are designed to get the customer to perform a specific action (ebook download, for example) and usually have a higher cost per click. If you’re just looking to get more general traffic and optimize the number of clicks to your website, use “traffic” campaign and keep the cost per click lower. If you’re not sure which to use, test both and see which one works best for you.

Facebook Lead Ads

For capturing leads and getting information from your customers, use “lead generation” campaigns. These campaigns use Facebook Lead Ads, which captures form information right inside Facebook without taking them to a separate landing page. This is a win win because you don’t have to make a separate landing page, and it makes it easier for the customer to fill out the form fields. And it even autofills their information from their Facebook profile, making it super easy for them!

Facebook lead ads

You can also create custom drop downs for more qualified leads or for a different required form field, but this may lower conversion rate since users will have to fill out more information. I wouldn’t worry too much about this lowering your conversion rate though because most of the form fields they need to complete will already be automatically filled out for them.

You may be wondering, where do the leads go for Facebook Lead Ads? Great question! You can download a csv file from the ad dashboard of all the leads that the ad populated, or you can integrate them with your CRM so you don’t have to keep downloading reports all the time.

3. Set Up Your Audiences Correctly

First, Understand Your Types of Visitors

Different types of visitors need different types of offers and different ads that will appeal to each defined audience. Let’s break this down into three simple types of visitors: cold, warm, and hot.

Cold visitors are the people who have no idea who you are, what your business offers, and they’re not really looking for what you’re offering.

Warm visitors are the people who know who you are and are interested in your offers. They’re just not totally sure if your business will provide the solution they are looking for.

Hot visitors are the ones actively searching for your brand and are wanting to buy from you.

Next, Know What Works For Each Visitor Type

ppc scale

This gives you a general understanding of the types of platforms that work for each type of visitor. It makes sense that hot visitors are using Google and searching for you, while cold visitors are just browsing on Facebook or online and are more likely to give attention to aesthetically pleasing display ads. This is important to understand because it affects how you set up your audiences in Facebook.

Start With Your Custom Audience Builds

This is the most important part because your custom audiences are your hottest traffic!

create a custom audience

Your custom audiences are the people who know who you are and have interacted with your business in some way. Using a custom audience is great for remarketing, targeting new customers who have similar interests to your existing customers, or closing the customers you lost somewhere in your sales funnel.

You want to start at the end of your funnel and work your way up, so you should first set up a custom audience of your existing customers. This is the audience that you will retarget to either upsell or have them purchase again. For example, you can create an ad designed just for this audience that will give them a deal for upgrading their subscription package or buying another pair of shoes simply because they have purchased from you in the past.

Next, you’re going to want to set up a custom audience of subscribers who cancelled or customers you lost somewhere in the sales funnel. And if you want to get even more detailed, understand conversion funnels to figure out where you’re losing them in the funnel and set up different custom audiences depending on exactly where you lost them in the funnel. For example, target the people who added to cart and didn’t check out differently than the people who just visited your site. The more custom audiences you have, the better it is because you can be more specific for each of your custom audiences.

The key with custom audiences is to separate them depending on where they are in your funnel so you can create unique ads for each custom audience.

Build Lookalike Audiences After Custom Audiences are Exhausted

This is where Facebook has a good advantage compared to other platforms. Lookalike audiences are the people who have the same likes, interests, income, browsing behavior, past purchasing behavior, demographics, etc as your current customers.

In Facebook, you set up lookalike audiences by choosing one of your custom audiences and then deciding on a percentage of people you want to target.

create a lookalike audience

To create the most effective lookalike audiences, you want to start with an audience size of 1% from your existing customer custom audience (the lowest point in the funnel). A small audience size gives you the best lookalike results, but it doesn’t have as far of a reach.

Next, move up your funnel and create lookalike audiences from essentially all of your custom audiences (use your best judgement depending on your business and custom audiences), all with a 1% audience size until you reach the highest part of your funnel (your Facebook page followers).

Once you have reached everyone in your lookalike audiences with your ads, you can then increase the size to 2%, once again starting from the bottom of the funnel and working your way up. Keep repeating this until you’ve reached 5%. If you go any higher than 5%, the lookalikes will not be as accurate as you want them to be.

You can also layer different interests or audiences on top of your lookalike audiences to boost performance if needed.

Create Saved Audiences Once Lookalike Audiences are Exhausted

create a saved audience

Saved audiences are created by targeting people with specific information that Facebook has that is relevant to your ideal customer, like interests, demographics, income, location, what pages they like, etc.

You can start by using Audience Insight Reports to target based on demographics and interests (this is where it’s important to have the Facebook Pixel installed to be able to get these reports). This is the best way to figure out who your ideal customer is so you can target him or her directly.

Use One Ad Set per Audience

This is crucial because if you have all of your audiences in one ad set, then you cannot figure out where exactly your conversions are coming from. When you keep them separate, it’s easier to figure out what ads are working for what audiences and what you need to fix. You can also get a clearer picture to see if you want to spend more of your budget on the ad sets that are converting to maximize your results.

Also note that your saved or lookalike audiences may not convert on the same ad or offer that you’re showing to your custom audience. A 15% off special may be more enticing to your current customers than it would be to your colder customers, who might just want a free trial or demo, for example.

You can word your ads differently for different audiences as well. For example, show an ad saying “we miss you” to past customers who unsubscribed. You don’t want that ad showing up for people who’ve never bought from you before.

4. Use Effective Bid Strategies

Start With Automatic Bidding

This is especially important if you’ve never run a facebook ad campaign before. Let Facebook optimize the best bid for you at first so you can get a ballpark idea of how much you should be spending. This is the best way to make sure that you get your ad distributed out to the Facebook world faster. Once you have built up some traffic and got initial CPA data, then you can start playing around with manual bids.

The best way to lower your CPA after getting that initial data is by duplicating the ad and changing the bid to manual for that duplicate. With the manual bids, you can set the maximum bid in order to lower your CPA. The trick here is to be realistic with your bids. If Facebook set the automatic bid to be $150, don’t think that your ad will be seen if you set up a manual bid of $20. For this example, start with $140, see how that does, and keep going down gradually until you find the optimal CPA..

5. Create Effective and Engaging Ads

Improve Social Engagement with Dark Posting

Dark posting is what Facebook calls an “Unpublished Page Post”. Basically, this is a sponsored ad that is created at the “Page Posts” level, NOT in the Ads Manager. The main difference is that dark posts are designed for social engagement (likes, comments, shares) while ads in the Ads Manager can be designed to have a specific call to action.

The reason to create an ad here instead of in the Ads Manager is that you can build social engagement with your dark posts much easier. When you make an ad in Ads Manager and apply it to multiple as sets, Facebook creates a separate ID for each of those ads in the different ad sets, even if the ads are identical. So you are essentially creating multiple ads that all look the same. This means that when your different audiences engage with the ad, they are engaging with separate posts and spreading out the engagement among multiple posts.

If you create a dark post, you can share the ID for that single ad across all of your different ad sets. This way, your social engagement will be evenly spread across all of your different ad sets. And as I’m sure you already know, having social engagement is crucial for brand awareness.

Build Positive Social Engagement BEFORE You Launch the Ad

After you’ve set up your dark post and shared the ID into your ad sets, there is a way to build up social engagement on the post before you even launch the ad. This is very important because your ad will not be as effective if you launch it and there are zero likes, comments, and shares initially.

Facebook post with comments

When you click the “Facebook Post with Comments” button as seen above, you will get a link for the post. Start sending that link to your friends, family, and colleagues so that they can start to give positive feedback, likes, and comments on your post before it’s even posted. It’s important to set the vibe of the engagement as positive so that once it’s live, the positive vibe will continue to grow on the post.

The 3 Main Ad Types

Facebook ad types

It’s important to try all three of these ad types so you can figure out which works best for you. The general rule of thumb is that the more different ads you have to test, the better. It’s no longer A/B testing, it’s more like A/B/C/D/E testing in today’s marketing world.

Carousel ads are great for ecommerce companies wanting to show off multiple products, or for showing a step by step process like the hair curler shown above.

If you use the video ads, which can be an incredibly powerful tool, make sure you keep them short and engaging at the same time. Most people on facebook have short attention spans because they have an endless feed of content to scroll through.

Best Offers for a Social Media Audience

audiences on ppc scale

Your saved audiences are your colder traffic. And if you’re a newer business trying to get your name out there, most of your traffic will be cold. For cold audiences, you want to offer free value with easy CTAs and easily consumable content so people can learn who you are like a free download, infographic, white paper, coupon, or guide. It’s important that you are giving them something they can download and not just linking them to another page. This makes the customer feel more like they are receiving a gift and not just checking out your blog.

Your lookalike audiences are your warm traffic. The best offers for a warm audience include something free, like an ebook, giveaway, demo, or webinar, for example, that offer more detailed and dense content than an ad for a cold audience.

Your custom audiences are your hottest traffic. You can target this hotter traffic with things like a “buy now” button, free quote, demo, or trial. The focus for your hot traffic should be giving them an easy way to purchase RIGHT NOW.

6. Optimize Your Campaigns After the Launch

The only parts of a Facebook Ads campaign that you can control are the audience and the ad itself. That’s why it is crucial to understand as much of the things you cannot control as possible.

One Ad Set Per Audience

I mentioned this earlier, but it needs to be repeated because of how important it is. You want to understand which audience is responsible for the success or failure of your campaign so that you know exactly what to do to optimize results.

When you have multiple audiences in one ad set, you have no idea what audience your conversions are coming from. You then have no insights into what’s working for what audiences and what isn’t working. Organization is the key to success, and this small tip may make all the difference for you.

The Power of Audience Insights

Audience Insight Reports are your best friend because this is where you see all of the things out of your control.

audience insight report

These reports are crucial for not only optimizing your existing audiences, but also for building new saved audiences. You have to continue to learn as much about your audience as you can. For instance, seeing that 95% of the customers are female in the above photo, maybe we want to switch up the ad copy to sound more appealing to women.