The alchemy of Facebook Ads
With a clickthrough rate of less than 0.1%, online ads are considered a waste of money by many companies and a source of annoyance by the vast majority of Internet users. But Facebook (and Google) ads are somewhat different, in that if well-made, they promise to target an audience that may already be interested in what you have to say.

But what, exactly, constitutes a decent Facebook ad? Though some of its elements depend on the audience you're trying to reach, there are enough similarities to give some concrete advice.

What's your target?

Before you even make an ad, ask yourself what your goal is. Is it driving more sales? Creating awareness? Getting likes and visits? Each of these goals is worthwhile for your business, and they each require a different type of ad.

Sales-driven approaches typically rely on the challenge-response model, i.e. there is a problem you identified that can be solved by your product or service. Awareness takes a more high-minded, amusing or arresting approach by promising engaging content.

Ideally, your target is measurable: conversions, clicks, engagement and whatnot. Facebook already offers a great deal of analytics tools to cover those bases, and partially or wholly free services like Google Analytics, StatCounter or Mixpanel can be used to track your numbers for your own website, if you have one.

What's your value?

Second, you must determine what the value of your proposition is. This could be the value linked to the ad (e.g. a quick guide to home repairs) or to the actual product you're trying to sell (e.g. a laptop stand that reduces neck and back strain).

Even if you offer a service or experience instead of a concrete product, try to get as 'real' as possiblewith regard in what your offer is. The value of your service could be to reduce mental stress levels or to let people pick up new skills.

Regardless, if you merely do a cold pitch, your ad is likely to fall flat. People see cold pitches every day and they're used to advertising language. By clicking or tapping your ad, they're doing you a favor, so make it worth their while. Also: don't be misleading or make promises of value you can't make good on. Visitors ignoring your ad may be depressing, but turning them against you is even worse.

Who's your target?

Facebook Ads allow you to target broad and narrow audience slices. Your ad will be different depending on the audience you're trying to reach. It's worthwhile to scour the Internet for ads that relate to the target group you have in mind and see what kind of ads have apparently worked in the past.

As of June 2018, Facebook also allows you to auto-translate ads into several languages. If you operate globally or if your company serves several countries at once, this may be worth doing. Computer translations (e.g. Google Translate) are getting better every year, but a human check-up is often still needed, especially with unconventional, colloquial or short content, as ads tend to be.

Do you have a striking visual or video?

Humans are visual animals. A nicely contrasting color scheme, a strong image or an animation or video can work wonders for your ad. You don't need to hire a designer for your ad to look good: just think of basic color psychology and how it affects human emotions. And if nothing else, keep in mind that people tend to look longer at people than objects or abstract shapes. Don't fall into the 'sex sells' trap. It doesn't. It gets more eyeballs but lowers sales.

Another thing a visual lets you do is cheat on the length of your ad's copy. This also lets you use bigger letters and louder font types to draw extra attention to your message.

A third and time-tested visual approach you can use is an infographic. This makes your ad less like a sales pitch and more like something rooted in objective fact, which increases your trustworthiness. Be warned though that your infographic should be verifiable, unless you want to make spammy things in the vein of "accelerate your weight loss up to 6x!".

Consider A/B-testing

To get results faster, you can run two ads at the same time, but with different target audiences or slight changes in design and copy. By keeping tabs on your metrics, you see which route is the more promising for your marketing campaign.

If you'd like to know more about A/B-testing and what are effective practices for them, you can go and read our blog post about it. And, as a word from our sponsors: Sayl Retail is the only e-commerce platform that lets you run multiple webshops simultaneously from one account, which makes it a natural shoehorn for commercial A/B-testing.

Where will your ad appear and where will it take people to?

On Facebook, there are basically two places for ads: interstitial (within the timeline) or at the right-hand sidebar. Research suggests that people barely click on the ad space at the right, and while Facebook users tend to get annoyed by almost all forms of paid publicity, ads that appear on the timeline are more likely to get clicked, or at least collect impressions.

So what happens if they click? You can create a dedicated landing page for you ad instead of bringing people to your homepage (that usually doesn't have a strong call-to-action), or you can let the ad link to a Sayl Retail shop. The advantage of this is that you can link directly to the product you're offering and people don't have to click through several screens to get at your highlighted item. This helps you sell more and faster.

Apply what you learned
Create a pop-up shop and start selling.