Sometimes, the world gives you — and your business — unprecedented circumstances to navigate.

When you face something like COVID-19, your customers need your support to get through it, and you need customers for your business to survive.

Many things that help sustain businesses — like live events or in-store connections — can’t be done traditionally right now. Businesses are learning how to adjust their marketing and sales efforts to adapt to the new environment.

Now is the time to ask yourself:

  1. What does my business need to do to get through this?
  2. What do my customers need from me?
  3. What’s the best way to deliver both?

You use advertising to get new leads and current customers to engage with your business. During uncertain times, you may need to consider the availability of budgets and certain resources and adjust the way you advertise.

One great way to keep in contact with your customers, deliver what they want, and keep your business operational is to use Facebook Ads.

ActiveCampaign’s Director of Trial Optimization, Phu Bui, recently hosted a webinar all about making sense of Facebook Ads for your business.

To listen to the webinar, click the recording above or head to this page!

Phu knows a lot about the power of Facebook Ads and how they can work wonders for your business — and we’re sharing that knowledge in this post.

Keep reading to learn:

  • Facebook Ads 101: Why should you use them, and how do they work?
  • Facebook Ads best practices
  • How to set up the best Facebook Ads for your business
  • Facebook Ads FAQs

Facebook Ads 101: Why should you use them, and how do they work?

Facebook Ads present opportunities for your business to stay connected with your customers.

This is a turbulent time for people and businesses alike. Thankfully, digital marketing resources like Facebook Ads can help you keep operations and customer connections running as smoothly (and profitably) as possible.

With more people at home, there are more people online checking social media to keep up with friends and family, get news and updates, or distract themselves.

This means 2 things:

  1. There’s been a massive increase in social media activity from the millions of Facebook users that already exist
  2. There’s much less competition right now for ad spend — even if you feel like you’re still seeing the same number of ads

Right now, social media is seeing a boom in usage, including:

  • A 50% increase in messaging via FB Messenger
  • A 70% increase in Messenger group video calls
  • A 50% increase in U.S. traffic to other websites from Facebook

As a business, this is good news for you. According to Phu’s insight, there is much less competition to display Facebook Ads right now than before.

Why? When it comes to digital advertising, it’s easy to pause ads when you need to. More traditional advertising mediums like radio or TV take more effort and time to stop airing ads, and that money is already spent.

With digital advertising, businesses can stop ads immediately. In an uncertain time, certain industries (like auto, travel, and retail) are pulling back on digital ad spend as a way to be budget-conscious. That leaves a lot of room for other businesses to take advantage of Facebook Ad opportunities — and bid less for those ads,

Other reasons to use Facebook Ads include:

  1. Facebook Ad success is not dependent on people looking for you — you find them
  2. You control the cost
  3. It helps you build and maintain customer connections

Facebook Ad success is not dependent on people looking for you — you find them. The nice thing about Facebook and other social media advertising is that your success isn’t dependent on people looking for your business specifically or searching for the product that you offer.

Unlike Google AdWords, where you bid on keywords, Facebook Ads let you target people who have certain interests. It lets you cast a wider net.

You control the cost. Facebook Ads are a relatively inexpensive way to grow your audience and brand awareness. The tech space in the US is very competitive for search campaigns, which can make bidding on Google search terms difficult and expensive.

For example, the top Google sponsored result for the term “marketing automation” costs $15-20 per click — and a click isn’t a guarantee that someone will buy or even start a free trial with you. This makes it harder to get prospects into your sales funnel via paid search.

The cost-per-click of Facebook Ads tends to be cheaper than that of paid search. Facebook Ads let you target more qualified leads, which means more conversions for less money. Facebook also has Facebook Pixel, which lets you retarget prospects with future ads.

As Phu says, “more bang for your buck!”

It helps you build and maintain customer connections. Facebook is a visual platform. You can use photos of your business, products, and employees to create a personal connection through your ads. Other advertising platforms like Google are heavily text-based, which makes Facebook Ads are a more effective way to “get in front of people” with visuals.

Facebook Ads best practices during COVID-19

Your Facebook Ad success depends on how you present the information to your target audience

Here are some Facebook Ad best practices to help successfully present your Facebook ads — both during the current crisis and beyond:

  1. Be upfront and sensitive
  2. Don’t expect an immediate return from your ads
  3. Don’t go for a hard sell
  4. Be genuine
  5. Offer something new to learn
  6. Highlight value
  7. Offer virtual consultations
  8. Try new types of ads

1. Be upfront and sensitive

Your digital advertising (especially right now) needs to be sensitive. When you create Facebook Ads related to current events, you need to be upfront and sensitive in how you connect your brand to what’s happening.

KiwiCo sells STEM, STEAM, science, and art kits. During the COVID-19 crisis, they started running this Facebook Ad:

“No school? No worries! KiwiCo has you covered with award-winning science and art projects kids can do at home!” (Source: KiwiCo)

The ad copy references a situation that many parents of school-aged children can relate to. It creates a human connection that is sensitive to what their target audience is dealing with — and how KiwiCo can help.

2. Don’t expect an immediate return from your ads

Even if your ads are great, people may not be in a position to act on them right away. Don’t expect an immediate return from your ads. Uncertainty and budget restraints can affect if and when people buy. Your audience might need your product or service but not decide to buy the first time they see your Facebook Ad.

3. Don’t expect a hard sell to work

A hard sell won’t work right now. Selling hard during a more difficult time can make your business appear opportunistic. Focus on presenting your value and how you can help ease people’s pain points.

4. Be genuine.

It’s ok to share ad media that is less polished and feels human right now. If you have to film video content or take product photos on your iPhone, your audience will understand — and might even appreciate knowing that your brand is run by real people.

5. Offer something new to learn

A lot of people have never been home this much and are looking for something new to do or learn: Exercise, an instrument, a foreign language, coding, and more. You can position your product as something new to learn.

Echelon released this exercise Facebook Ad to encourage learning a new way to exercise:

This Facebook ad uses customer testimonials and benefits to show how the product can enhance your life. (Source: Echelon)

The ad highlights the product benefits and also touches on community and the human desire for connection — all within a small bit of copy.

6. Highlight value

It’s hard to get to the store right now, so many people are shopping online. Consider how to offer your customers value while encouraging them to shop. An offer like free shipping or a discount code can help you make more sales and make people feel good about buying from your business.

When you highlight the value of your product or service, you create a positive brand image and help your customers.

This Facebook Ad from TOMS is a good example of highlighting value. From the copy and the image, shoppers can feel the coziness and imagine themselves working from home in these slippers. And they can get them for 25% off.

This TOMS Facebook Ad offers a discount to the person while also offering value: A cozy, more comfortable work-from-home experience. (Source: TOMS)

7. Offer virtual consultations

Operating remotely doesn’t mean your business can’t have personal communication with your customers. If relevant to your business model, offer virtual consultations. Virtual consultations are a great way to strengthen connections and build trust.

You can use tools like Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, and Facebook to communicate virtually with your customers. For people who are still interested in what you’re offering, virtual consultations can be a game-changer.

8. Try new types of ads

You can prepare for the future by trying new ad types and approaches to Facebook Ads.

For example, you can set up Facebook Ads to grow your email newsletter audience. When someone sees your ad on their phone, they can tap it to see a lead magnet form (sometimes auto-populated with their Facebook info). The form can then send them to the resource or lead magnet that you’re offering (like a webinar or customer story). Using a lead magnet with your Facebook Ads can help you grow your email list.

How to set up the best Facebook Ads for your business

If you’re new to the Facebook Ad world, Phu shared 4 important things to consider when you set up your first Facebook Ads:

  1. Set campaign objectives
  2. Consider your budget
  3. Break down your audience
  4. Choose your types of Facebook ads

1. Set Facebook Ad campaign objectives

When you’re setting up campaigns, there are a lot of objectives to choose from. The most popular objectives are:

  • Brand awareness: Get people to remember you
  • Traffic: Get people to read your content or visit your site
  • Lead generation: Get more leads by creating ads that lead to things like webinars or whitepapers
  • Conversions: Increase sales by sending people to a product page

A snapshot of different campaigns for different objectives, like gated content to drive lead generation. (ActiveCampaign)

When you choose an objective through Facebook Ads, Facebook will target that objective at the lowest cost possible. When you achieve that objective, Facebook considers that a “conversion.”

2. Consider your budget

Facebook Ads let you stay in front of your target audience while controlling your budget. .

In Facebook Ads, you can set a daily spend. If you need to be budget-conscious right now, Facebook Ads let you stay in control of your ad spend.

You can set your Facebook Ads budget at an individual ad set level or at a campaign level.

On Facebook, a campaign is made up of ad sets You set up your audience targeting at the ad set level.

You can create multiple ad sets in a campaign based on different targeting factors like gender and age range. If your product is more likely to be bought by women than men, but men still buy, you can set a higher budget on the ad set targeting women because that ad set is more likely to convert.

Campaign budget optimization (CBO) lets you set your budget at the campaign level. CBO automatically sets different spend levels for different ad sets within a campaign based on how well Facebook’s algorithm predicts your ad sets will perform.

3. Break down your audience

Who you present your ads to makes a big difference in your ad performance. Be thoughtful about who you target with each of your Facebook Ads to make the most of your ad spend, especially if you’re more budget-conscious.

You can break down your audience based on targets like:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Impression Device
  • Placement on a page

The Audience Insights tool can show you a ton of information about your different audience demographics:

The Facebook Ads Audience Insights Tool dashboard. (Source: Facebook)

Facebook Audience Insights can tell you:

  • The people who like your page
  • The posts that they like
  • The things that they’re interested
  • The pages that they might follow

You can use this information to set up more targeted Facebook Ads. You can also see (and target based on) where people are from and the languages that they speak. Use these Audience Insights to learn who your target audience is (or who they should be).

4. Choose your types of Facebook ads

There are 4 types of Facebook Ads:

  1. Single Image Ad
  2. Carousel Ad
  3. Video Ad
  4. Lead Ad

Different types of ads work for different needs, buteach of ad type requires:

  • Headline
  • A landing page URL
  • Copy
  • Images, a GIF, or a video

A Single Image Ad is (you probably guessed it) a Facebook Ad that uses a single image. These are a good way to get started using Facebook Ads because they don’t require a lot of setup. And if you want to, you can use GIFs! They count as a single image.

This single image Facebook Ad uses a GIF and leads to a relevant piece of content.

A Carousel Ad shows multiple images that link to either the same URL or multiple URLs. They require at least 3 images. A carousel is a good way to show multiple products or pieces of content.

An ActiveCampaign carousel Facebook Ad to show a selection of free tools for growing your business.

A Video Ad is a way to further draw people’s attention to your Facebook Ads. In a video ad, it’s a good idea to add captions to the video itself. Captions can highlight useful statistics or key information and make the video easier to follow.

This ActiveCampaign video Facebook Ad uses captions to highlight a significant value from this Chicago Food Planet customer story.

Finally, there are Lead Ads. This type of Facebook Ad takes people to a form (which can auto-populate based on what information Facebook already has about them) where leads can subscribe to your email list or sign up for more information.

This lead Facebook Ad goes to a form after clicking the CTA to have leads sign up with their contact information.

Facebook Ads tips and tricks

The better and more relevant your ad is, the less it’s going to cost you to advertise on Facebook. Facebook rewards good-quality ads by showing them to more people.

  • Think about what catches people’s attention. People tend to notice ads in this order: image, headline, first line of copy. Make sure all of your copy is compelling. Start with a question, pique curiosity with something surprising, or target a pain point.
  • Think about mobile views. On mobile, text after your first line of copy is hidden by a “See more…” button. Make sure your copy and visual elements are compelling enough that people want to see what “more” is.
  • If using videos, add captions. People expect them — and it’s an accessibility best practice.
  • Use emojis in the copy to stand out visually. Some advertisers use fire or star emojis to make a headline offer stand out. You can also use number or check mark emojis for a bulleted list of benefits or important info.

Facebook Ads FAQs

If you’re new to Facebook Ads, you might have some questions. And you’re not the only one.

Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about using Facebook Ads for your business.

“What’s a good CPC?”

“If you want to sound like a marketing expert, just say ‘it depends’,” says Phu. According to a Facebook Ad Benchmarks report from Wordstream, a good CPC (cost-per-click) varies from business-to-business and industry-to-industry.

CPC rates vary across every industry. (Source: Wordstream)

That said, the average CPC of Facebook Ads across all industries is $1.72.

“At what point do you stop running an ad because of underperformance?”

Try to let ads run for a week or 2. You can usually figure out by then which ones are getting better performance. Plus, Facebook Ads automatically learns which ads are performing best for you — they just need some time to figure it out.

“My ads get ‘engagements’ but very few actions. Why? How can I improve this?”

This might not be a problem that you need to worry about.

“Engagement on a Facebook Ad is a Like, Comment, or Share. These are all actually really good things,” says Phu. “Some of you may have had experiences personally when you’re browsing your Facebook feed, you see an ad, and it’s from something that you’ve never heard of before.

And then how many times have you checked if that ad had any likes? Or any comments on it? And if it’s zero, you’re like, is this a real thing? Is this like a real company? Is this legit? So it’s really good to get engagements.”

It’s similar to checking reviews before you buy something. Engagement can help prove that you’re legitimate.

If you’re still looking for conversions, check to see if your campaign objectives are set up correctly. If they aren’t you’ll probably have to create a new ad, but you should be able to duplicate the campaign and edit the objective in the new draft.

To improve conversions, you can also look at things like copy and images. Tweak different elements and test the performance.

“What do you consider a ‘successful’ Facebook Ads campaign vs. an ‘unsuccessful’ one?”

Again: It depends! It depends on your goals and how your business measures success. Try things out! Create multiple ads for different campaign objectives and see how they do. If a campaign meets your goals, then it’s successful.