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How to Optimize Facebook Ads: 10 Tips & Tricks from the Pros

Facebook advertising may have been hit hardest by Apple’s privacy updates, but it is by no means losing its effectiveness. In fact, according to Sprout Social, Facebook’s ad revenue grew 56% in 2021 alone, and according to Statista, there are 10 million active advertising accounts. That’s 150 football stadiums’ worth of Facebook advertisers.

So: Facebook ads are still strong, and Facebook advertisers are a plenty—which means you need to know how to optimize your Facebook ads so you can stand out and get the most out of your budget.

Which also means you’re in the right place, because in this post, I’m going to provide a roundup of 10 Facebook ad optimizations from PPC influencers and pros near and far.

Table of contents

  1. Perfect your account structure
  2. Set up the Pixel with Google Tag manager
  3. Consolidate your conversions
  4. Target on-platform engagement
  5. Use the fast takeoff method
  6. Target parallel interests
  7. Target influencers’ audiences
  8. Use in-market segments from search
  9. Scale optimization with automated rules
  10. Have a full-funnel strategy

How to optimize your Facebook ads

You’re going to find a mix of tips in here—some are strategic, others tactical; some are cut and dry while others are downright clever—but they’re all designed to help you maximize both your time and your budget, and they all come from pros who are in the platform every day.

1. Perfect your account structure

This one isn’t so much an optimization as a best practice, or rather, a requirement if you want to succeed at all in Facebook ads; and Empiric Marketing, LLC founder Brett McHale addresses it in his habits of highly effective Facebook advertisers post.

Too many times, advertisers break out their campaigns according to who their targeting rather than what their objective is. So let’s say you have an SEO ebook for small businesses. You have three different variations of the ebook—one for physical therapists, one for interior designers, and one for lawyers.

Instead of creating three separate campaigns for each audience, the better way to go is to create one campaign for the ebook and then within the campaign create three ad sets for each audience. This is how Facebook campaigns and ad sets are meant to be used.

With this proper Facebook ad account structure, you can more efficiently manage and optimize your ads as well as scale your efforts and offers.
how to optimize facebook ads - account structure setup

Click to enlarge

2. Set up the Meta Pixel with Google Tag Manager

That’s right. Google Tag Manager can be used for more than just Google Ads conversion tracking. For any paid media strategy, if you want to track conversions that take place on your website, you’ll need to install a tracking pixel. Through partner integrations, Facebook Ads Manager has made it possible to set up the Meta Pixel without using code—but some of them can get clunky. There is one, however, that isn’t exactly codeless but that Brett has found, in his years of experience, to be the easiest: through Google Tag Manager.

With Google Tag Manager, you can install a container code on each of your website pages. Then insead of, having to add code to each of your pages every time you want to install a pixel, you can just connect it to GTM. Google’s page on GTM is here.

facebook ad optimization - google tag manager pixel setup

You can then do the same to set up the Facebook Conversions API. Because of privacy measures, you’ll want to use both the Facebook Conversions API and Meta Pixel together get a more complete picture of your ads’ performance.

With visibility into what actions visitors are taking after viewing your ads, and who those visitors are, you can then make data-driven optimizations and retarget people who have been to your site.

3. Consolidate your conversions

Okay one more tip from Brett. Once your pixel is set up, you can then tell Facebook which conversion events you want to track. Looking back to our SEO ebook example, you could set up a separate conversion event for each ebook download, but if you do, this is what you’ll see when you’re at the campaign-level view:

how to optimize facebook ads - campaign-level view of conversions

You’ll have to dig into each ad set’s data to look at how many total conversions you’re getting from the campaign.

But if you create one ebook download conversion event, you can then get a total conversion count quickly from the campaign view. It’s a small detail that can save you time and help you make decisions faster.

Plus, with Aggregated Event Measurement, you’ll want to consolidate your conversions as much as possible. While you can create events that are not in your eight priority events list, these events will not be reported on if they’re taken by iOS 14+ users who have opted out of Facebook tracking.

4. Lean into on-platform engagement

This optimization is brought to you by PPC influencer Michelle Morgan. One of the most effective Facebook retargeting campaigns is that of showing ads to previous website visitors. For example, you could retarget visitors who signed up for your newsletter, who submitted a contact form, or who viewed a specific product page. But with iOS 14+ users being able to opt out of tracking, these website retargeting audiences aren’t as reliable as they once were.

One way to work around this is to retarget users based on their interaction with your Facebook page instead. These audiences will be accurate since they rely on Facebook’s first-party data.

facebook ad optimizations - retargeting options for page engagement

Learn about this on-platform strategy (and more like it) here.

5. Use the fast takeoff method

This Facebook strategy comes from AdEspresso and it’s a way of speeding up the algorithmic learning period in Facebook Ads.

Once you set a Facebook ad campaign live, it takes time before Facebook can really start optimizing its ad delivery for your specific goals, because it needs time to collect enough meaningful data.

If you’re working with a small budget, your ad may not be served as frequently and will therefore take longer to get through this learning phase.

With the fast takeoff method, you’ll create your Facebook ad campaign as usual, then assign a budget higher than what you expect to spend. Let the campaign run with this budget until it reaches 10,000 impressions, then bring the budget back down. This will speed up the learning phase and also give you data you can use to make your own optimizations.

6. Target parallel interests

Michelle touches on this a bit in her scaling Facebook ads post, and Steve Bruce calls this out in his post on Facebook ad mistakes.

Facebook offers detailed targeting on a number of different interests. But instead of targeting an interest identical to the product or service you’re advertising, think outside the box a bit.

If you’re advertising toys, for example, instead of targeting just “toys” as an interest, you might target children’s clothing. Or if you’re advertising workout equipment, you might try people interested in electronic music or healthy recipes.

how to optimize facebook ads - detailed targeting

7. Target influencers’ audiences

This Facebook ad optimization strategy is similar to targeting parallel interests and comes to you from Lyfe Marketing. Even if you’re targeting the right interests, you can’t tell, until you’ve chosen the interest, just how big that audience will be. Some audiences are too small on their own, and others are shrinking due to privacy changes.

What you can do, however, is a little market research into the pages your followers are following and liking. Not pages of direct competitors, but of influencers and other adjacent brands. For example, if you are advertising pet supplies or even an adoption agency, take a look at the National Humane Society’s page:

how to optimize facebook ads - humane society's facebook page with follower count

2.5M followers.

Plug this into the detailed targeting box in your ad set and you can get a decent-sized audience.

how to optimize facebook ads - detailed targeting humane society page likers

You can even narrow it down to certain geos.

how to optimize facebook ads - detailed targeting humane society page likers

8. Use in-market segments from search

Facebook ad optimization #8 is coming in hot from PPC influencer (and former WordStreamer) Navah Hopkins.

Facebook has removed or restricted several targeting categories from the platform in the name of privacy, such as those involving employment, real estate, or finance. What you can do, however, is run a search campaign on Google using in-market audience targeting. This type of targeting does still allow you to reach these categories of users. This will then get qualified users to your site where you can build a list to upload to Facebook for a lookalike or retargeting campaign.

google ads targeting - in market segment example

Get the scoop on this and (two more) creative Facebook audience targeting strategies here.

9. Scale optimization with automated rules

The credit goes to Klientboost for this Facebook optimization tip. Managing any PPC account involves consistent monitoring and tweaking. For example, you may:

  • Check for low-performing ads and pause them after a certain period of time.
  • Increase or decrease your budget for a campaign if it reaches a certain threshold of clicks or conversions.
  • Increase your bid if your campaign is performing sluggish.

With automated rules in Facebook Ads Manager, you can program Facebook to check up on these things for you and perform the resulting action.

how to optimize facebook ads - custom rule creation setup

Just be careful with this one. There shall be no set n’ forgettin’ here; you’ll still need to do some light monitoring and maintenance. Automation is

10. Go for the full funnel

One more tip from Michelle, which she addresses in her list of Facebook ad mistakes. If you’re going to spend the money to run a top-of-funnel Facebook ad campaign, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you fail to nurture them through your funnel—to guide them to action that actually translates to revenue for your business.

Now one way to do this is to run a traffic campaign, collect email addresses on your site, and then enter those emails into a nurture email series. But why not use additional Facebook ad campaigns to nurture these audiences?

For example, if you run an awareness or traffic campaign, you can then create a remarketing list of users that engaged with those campaigns and target them later with an ad using the leads or sales objective.

facebook ad optimizations - list of campaign objectives aligned with the funnel

There’s a reason why Facebook offers objectives across the funnel. Follow our tips here on how to build a full-funnel Facebook advertising strategy.

Optimize your Facebook ads….starting now

Hopefully, there’s something in this list of Facebook ad optimizations that you haven’t yet tried. Do keep in mind, however, that if you make any changes to your campaigns, you need to give Facebook at least 24 hours to make the adjustment and then give it sufficient time to recalibrate its delivery optimizations before you draw any conclusions.

To finish off, here is the list of how to optimize your Facebook ads:

  1. Perfect your account structure
  2. Set up the Pixel with Google Tag manager
  3. Consolidate your conversions
  4. Target on-platform engagement
  5. Use the fast takeoff method
  6. Target parallel interests
  7. Target influencers’ audiences
  8. Use in-market segments from search
  9. Scale optimization with automated rules
  10. Have a full-funnel strategy

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