How to launch a successful Facebook Ads campaign

 |  Alex Cleanthous - Get more articles like this sent to your email here

In the last 12 months we’ve spent over $1.6 million on Facebook Ads, focusing on generating both leads and sales for ourselves and our clients.

We’ve worked with companies in a myriad of industries – everything from banks, to pubs, to retail and ecommerce stores, to trades people – and in that time we’ve found that success with Facebook Ads boils down to 3 factors…

  1. The targeting
  2. The ads
  3. The website

Let’s take a look at each one in detail…

The targeting

Of all 3 factors, the targeting is the most important because it defines who you’re showing your ad to.

The great Gary Halbert would often ask the question – “If you and I both owned a hamburger stand and we were in a contest to see who could sell the most hamburgers, what advantages would you most like to have on your side to help you win?” His preference above all else was ‘a starving crowd’.


It’s a lot easier to sell something to a starving crowd because you know they’re hungry for what you’re selling. With a starving crowd you just show them what you have and they buy.

That’s the power of targeting.

The right targeting will make your job (at converting them to a lead or sale) that much easier.

With that in mind, here are the different types of targeting options available with Facebook Ads…

Custom Audiences

A Custom Audience is a group of people you can target by uploading a database of emails or phone numbers into Facebook. Facebook links those details with the details they have about their users and then creates an Audience you can target with Facebook Ads.

Custom Audiences can often be the highest converting targeting option because you can create Audiences of people who have take a specific action with your business (eg buying from you, enquiring with you etc)

You can create Custom Audiences as specific as you like (eg by the type of product or service they have bought) – the only requirement from Facebook is that they can match at least 20 users from the data you upload.

Tip: aim to create Custom Audiences of at least 1000 people in them to ensure you can generate enough conversions to make the entire process worth your while. The exception to this rule is if you’re creating a Custom Audience for the purposes of creating a Lookalike Audience (which I’ll cover shortly).

Remarketing Audiences

A Remarketing Audience is technically a Custom Audience but I like to refer to it differently because the intent of the users you’re targeting is often different to Custom Audience data.

A Remarketing Audience is a group of people who visit any page on your website that contains the remarketing pixel (a ‘pixel’ or ‘tag’ is a piece of code on your web page that, when loaded, links the person viewing your web page to your advertising account).

You can create Remarketing Audiences of people who visit any page of your website (ie ‘All Traffic’) or you can create Audiences of people who visit some pages of your website.

The key with Remarketing Audiences is to ensure you target your ads so they align with the pages your Audience has visited on your website.

Tip: Make sure to exclude people who visit your ‘thank you’ page(s) from your Remarketing Audiences so you don’t pay to advertise to people who have already converted.

Lookalike Audiences

Lookalike Audiences are where Facebook Ads become really interesting.

So what is a Lookalike Audience?

A Lookalike Audience is a group of people that have similar characteristics as an existing Custom or Remarketing Audience.

For example, you could create a Lookalike Audience of a Custom Audience of your customers. Facebook will then create an Audience with similar characteristics as your customers. And because of how much data Facebook has access to (and how it approaches and analyses that data) the Lookalike Audiences it creates often convert really well.

You could create Lookalike Audiences of your Newsletter Subscribers, of people who visit specific pages on your website or of your Fans. The options are endless.

As long as you have a Custom or Remarketing Audience created in Facebook Ads, you can create a Lookalike Audience.

You can create Lookalike Audiences that range in size, with the smallest Audience most closely matching your source Audience, and the biggest Audience maximising reach.

Tip: Always start by targeting the smallest Lookalike Audience first as it will be the most likely to convert similarly to the source Audience.

Standard Targeting

The standard targeting options are how Facebook Ads first started out and are usually the least likely to convert of all targeting options.


Because all other Audiences are based on intent (ie users who have shown their interest in what you sell) whereas standard targeting is based on location, demographics, behaviours and/or interests.

Standard targeting is a great place to start if you don’t have a Custom or Remarketing Audience available to make a Lookalike Audience from, but I would (personally) only use standard targeting after you’ve exhausted Custom, Remarketing and Lookalike Audiences.

Which targeting options are best?

You’ll need to test them for yourself but in my experience here’s how I would roll out the targeting of a Facebook Ads campaign:

  1. Custom Audiences
  2. Remarketing Audiences
  3. Lookalike Audiences
  4. Standard Targeting

Tip: create a Targeting Option Matrix that includes ALL of the targeting options you have available and list them in order of highest to lowest chance of converting. Then start creating campaigns in that order.

Now let’s talk about the ads.

The ads

Once you’ve decided which Audiences you’re going to target, the next step is to create the ads you’re going to display to that Audience.

The key here is to advertise something that gives you the highest chance of getting them to convert. This is where targeting is key.

For example, let’s say you have a Custom Audience of customers who bought Product X but didn’t buy Product Y, and you knew that people who bought Product X were most likely to buy Product Y as their next purchase. You could create ads that advertise Product Y and offer a 10% discount as a special offer.

Another example… let’s say you have a Remarketing Audience of people who visited your leadgen website but didn’t convert. You could offer a limited-time-only free consultation (valued at $XXX) as a special offer to get them to take action.

Or you could just advertise your main service / product / business and hope there are enough people who are interested (right now) in what you sell that they don’t need a special offer to take action.

Tip: special offers always work best with Facebook Ads because you’re giving your Audience a benefit for taking action. Always try to create a special offer that aligns with the main conversion action you want them to take.

How to structure your ad

Once you know what you’re going to be advertising, there are essentially 5 parts to your ad:

  1. The text
  2. The image
  3. The headline
  4. The description
  5. The landing page / website

The most important part of the ad is the image, as that is what gets the attention of the user. What you want is an image that aligns with what your ad is saying in it (the text) and with your brand.

Aside from that, the text, the headline and the description all need to ‘sell’ the user on taking action (ie clicking the ad).

And the landing page (ie the website) needs to align with what the ad says in it.

Tip: launch your ads with different images to start with. The biggest challenge you’ll face is that your best converting ads will stop converting because people have seen the same image too many times. Changing your image frequently (by testing different images) will ensure your ad stays fresh.

The website

Your targeting options ensure you’re targeting the people who are most likely to convert…

The ad is giving those people the reason(s) why they should take action…

And the website is responsible for converting those people into taking action on what your ad said in it.

At the core, your website needs to make it as easy as possible for your visitors to take action on what you’re selling.

For an ecommerce website it means displaying the product in its best possible light, making sure all the options are clearly visible and the price is clear, and that it’s easy to checkout.

For a leadgen website it means effectively selling why someone should take action, and making it as easy as possible to submit an enquiry.

Tip: make sure you send visitors to the web page that best aligns with what you’re advertising in your ad, rather than the home page.

And because most people who use Facebook access it via their smartphone, your website needs to be mobile-optimised to ensure a positive user experience (which is a requirement for a good conversion rate).

Tip: if you don’t have a mobile-optimised website, just run your ads to people on desktops.

There’s a lot to cover when it comes to maximising the conversion rate of a website. So if you’re interested, click here to download a free copy of our Conversion Rate Optimisation Whitepaper, which will give you a good understanding of how conversion rate optimisation works (note: this whitepaper focuses on leadgen websites but the principles can be applied to ecommerce websites as well).

Ongoing optimisation is key

If you get all parts of the pie right – the targeting, the ads, and the website – then you’ll give yourself the best possible chance of generating a positive ROI from your advertising spend.

And if you’re really lucky, you’ll be profitable the first time you launch your Facebook Ads campaign.

But more than likely you’ll need to make adjustments to make your campaigns profitable… and you’ll definitely need to continue making adjustments to your campaigns on an ongoing basis to maintain a consistent flow of leads and sales from Facebook Ads.

What’s the best way to approach optimisation?

The first step is to identify an offer / advertising angle that converts. Start by testing different ads to your Custom and Remarketing Audiences until you find something that converts.

Once you’ve identified an offer or an advertising angle that converts, you need to test different targeting options to find the ones that convert best.

And once you’ve found the best converting targeting option(s), you need to extract the most out of those campaigns while they’re effective (which should be about a month) by spending the majority of your budget on those campaigns.

When they start losing effectiveness you need to find new targeting options, change the ads, or start advertising something else.

It’s best if you have 3-4 different types of campaigns so you can run something new every month, and cycle between them every 3 months (which is enough time for the ‘ad fatigue’ to wear off).

Unlike Search Ads, where you can use a high-performing ad in perpetuity because you’re targeting new people who are actively searching for what you sell, Facebook Ads are putting ads in front of the same people with the aim of getting them to stop what they’re doing and click through to your website to take action. That means you need to do a lot more work to keep your ads relevant and performing, which is why ongoing optimisation is key.

So that’s the process of launching a successful Facebook Ads campaign. It’s not too difficult… it just requires commitment, perseverance and a relentless focus on figuring out the best way of converting Facebook users into leads and sales for your business.

Need help with Facebook Ads?

At Webprofits, we’ve been investing heavily in Facebook Ads for ourselves and our clients since 2009 and we’ve figured out a lot about what works, what doesn’t and how to turn around a failing ad campaign.

If you’d like us to help you with your Facebook Ads campaign, click here to get in touch. We’d love to find out if we can help.

Alex Cleanthous

Alex Cleanthous

Director of Strategy + Innovation at Webprofits
Alex Cleanthous is an entrepreneur, writer, technologist, and marketing leader. He is Co-Founder of Webprofits, Australia’s largest private digital consultancy. With more than 20 years experience in the digital space, Alex stays at the forefront of digital innovation, strategy, and execution identifying new markets, platforms, and tools to keep pace with the exponential expansion of technology.

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