To get the most out of your Facebook campaigns, you need to devote time to evaluating their performance — not just after they’ve finished running, but while they are still active.
You aren’t best served by creating ads, running them for several weeks, and then checking them after they have finished spending. You will see much better results if you’re willing to optimize on a regular basis during the lifetime of the campaign.
Determining Your KPIs
So what is optimization? As we mentioned before, optimization is a term for improving performance of a given key performance indicator (KPI) over time. The KPIs for optimization are directly tied to the campaign’s goals. As always, it’s essential to keep these goals in mind. If you’re optimizing to a metric that isn’t aligned with your campaign’s objectives, you will not be successful.
Basic metrics provided on Facebook are similar to those you’ll find on most other types of digital advertising platforms: impressions, clicks, click-through-rate, and cost per click.
Facebook, however, also offers a wealth of other data points unique to the site. These include all the social metrics (social impressions, clicks, and so on) as well as downstream behavior only possible on Facebook, like connections to a page, or likes, comments, and shares on a post.
Understanding what metrics are relevant to the type of campaign you are running is key. If the end goal is fans, then the KPIs should be metrics like cost-per-fan (CPF) and click-to-like rate. If it’s a conversion-based campaign, then you’d need to focus on click-to-conversion rate and cost-per-conversion.
In advance of the campaign start, it is also important to determine what a successful campaign means to you. Driving fans may be the overall goal, but what do you expect those fans to cost? Will you be happy if they cost $2 each, or is that price $1.50 more than you’d like? Set a goal CPF, CPC, or conversion rate so you know where you should be aiming. Once you’ve determined your key metrics and the optimal values for those metrics, you can start to optimize.
Two Ways To Optimize
There are two key ways to do so. First, you can spend more against what is working, and less against what is not. This concept seems obvious, but how do we determine what is working and what is not? Use the metrics and values that you’ve set for each campaign as a benchmark to evaluate them. For our sample CPF campaign, we’ve determined that our main metric is cost-per-fan, and our goal cost is $1.25 per fan.
We can then look at the data we’ve generated and find campaigns or ads that fit those parameters. We can choose to bid up individual best-performing ads so that they’ll serve more in Facebook’s auction environment, or we can increase the campaign budgets so that campaigns will spend more.
We also know that we’ll find campaigns and ads that don’t fit those parameters, where the cost-per-fan is way over $1.25. Our best move is to either remove those campaigns entirely, or bid the ads within them way down so they aren’t served as much and don’t continue to spend.
The other means of optimization is creating new ads based on what we’ve discovered is working. That means looking at the data on a deeper level and evaluating which individual elements are the most successful in terms of your KPIs. Start by focusing on each element separately. With body text, are there visible trends? Is it apparent that ads using the “Direct Like” text category have CPF much lower than any other?
Do the same thing for images, headlines (if applicable), and any targeting parameters. Hopefully, you’ve set your campaigns up in such a way as to make this data collection easy. Isolating one variable per ad is the best way to see what drives performance.
After understanding performance of individual elements, combine the best image, body text, headline, gender, age, and interest targets, etc., together to create an optimized ad set. We assume that if we combine all the best elements into a single ad, that ad will perform better than the elements did on their own.
Likewise, we can use those best performing elements to help us make new sets of ads with entirely new creative and targeting elements. For example, if we see that the keyword [shopping] has a $.60 CPF, we might try targeting specific retail stores or luxury clothing brands, with the hope that those similar keywords will perform as well or better than the broader ones we started with.
Perhaps images of people have the lowest CPF; so again, we might choose other similar images, or if “Direct Like” text has a great click-to-like rate, we’ll choose more of those, too.
Don’t Slack Off!
Using these two methods in conjunction will help your campaign efficiently reach its goals. Remember – it’s important to do both so that you’re refreshing your ads with the top-performing elements. An average ad on Facebook tends to fatigue after two or three days, so regular optimization is very important.
As we said before, Facebook ads don’t do as well when left to their own devices; they need a little bit more attention than that. Structure your campaigns in a way that makes data collection easy, analyze the data, and make subsequent decisions based on the top-performing elements. This will ensure that optimization is (somewhat) painless and effective.
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