Do Facebook ads work? Should you be using them to drive traffic to your blog posts? How much do they cost? That’s what we’ll look at in this Facebook ads guide for bloggers.
The problem with Facebook
I have a love hate relationship with Facebook. I love the way it keeps me in touch with my old friends and helps me make new ones. I hate that it’s become so hard to market on it.
I get it, I really do. There are so many businesses on Facebook flogging their stuff that if there was no algorithm to hold us back it would resemble a free ads newspaper.
People, me included go to Facebook to talk to people, to friends and colleagues and be a part of their lives. Our business posts are just getting in the way.
So although the algorithm means that my posts reach a fraction of the audience I’ve built over the years I’m willing to forgive Facebook. They do after all have their customers, their real customers the every day users at the heart of their decision making. Without their massive user-base they’d struggle to make money.
If I was Facebook’s business consultant I’d be telling them they were doing a good job.
Like many businesses who know the Facebook is a valuable tool but are suffering from the tragic reach I advertise. I advertise to reach the right people with my posts, I advertise to build my brand, my list my readerships and sales.
In this post I’m going to share with you a basic guide to using Facebook ads. I’m going to share my process, results and mistakes.
Going beyond the boost post button
Blog visitors are like magazine readers. Some will read the whole thing from cover to cover, others will read a few select articles others will have a flick through whilst in a waiting room or in a queue.
Our goal as business bloggers is to make sure the next time any of these readers see our magazine they pick it up. Eventually we’ll buy their loyalty with our content and they’ll become loyal and subscribe.
It’s easy to click the boost button underneath your posts but this button is designed to boost engagements on your posts. People will take a look at the cover of your magazine and smile but they won’t look inside. If you want them to open and start reading you’ll need to delve deeper into Facebook ads and you’ll need a plan.
Do Facebook ads make you tear your hair out? Let us manage your Facebook ads for you. We'll save you time and improve results. Get A Quote Now.
The big question
As with any plan you need to start with the big question.
What is your goal?
We’ve established we want people to click through to our websites or to follow the magazine analogy open the cover but what’s our goal beyond that?
- Do we want to build up our email list?
- Get people to keep coming back to our site?
- Build an audience of readers that you can sell to later on?
- Do you want to build your online brand as a source of good information?
Once you know the answer to the big question you can start putting together your advertising plan.
Who do you want to reach?
There are many ways to build an audience on Facebook. The type of audience you select can have a dramatic effect on the success and price of your ad.
Some Facebook users are going to be more invested in what you do than others.
Retargeting with Website Custom Audiences
If you shop on Amazon or book accommodation on Booking.com you’ve probably noticed that once you’ve visited their sites or viewed specific pages they seem to follow you around the internet.
They do this using cookies and the Facebook pixel. This is a bit of code that you add to the head section of your website that builds an audience of Facebook users from your website visitors.
You don’t have to go full on Stalker like Amazon does but you can use this audience to encourage repeat visits. If they’ve read your previous blog post but not your current one you can ask Facebook to put your latest post in front of them.
It’s like putting the latest issue of your magazine in a shop display. They read the last issue, when they see the latest cover you can attract them again.
These existing readers are aware of your business and content so theoretically they should be cheaper to convert to clicks on your newest post. It doesn’t always work that way as I’ll reveal later on.
Reaching the people who like your page
The people who already like your Facebook page are also a warm audience. At some point they clicked that Like button so they are interested. If you push your latest blog post out to them it gives them the opportunity to re-engage with your content.
These people haven’t read your magazine before but they are familiar with your title and branding so a good cover could entice them to read.
Targeting page engagers
Facebook recently introduced a new audience type, the ‘Page engagement’ audience. This is made up of the people who have interacted with your page or content in the last year. Targeting these people with your new content could be a good way to get them to re-engage.
These people are more committed than just the people who Like your page. They’ve had a taster of what you do already. They may have picked up a copy of your magazine off the shelf but not read it through.
Targeting your email subscribers
You can target people on your email opt-in list. These people have gone one step further than visiting a page on your website or Liking your Facebook page. They have filled in a form showing they are interested in what you do, agreeing to receive more information from you.
These are your magazine subscribers, they may not read every issue but they’re interested enough to want regular personal communications from you.
If you are smart with your list building (see episode 66 on building better email subscribers with lead incentives) the majority of the people on your email opt-in will be strong leads and potential customers. Using Facebook ads you can reach them again even if they don’t open your emails.
For all the different custom audiences I’ve described above you can create ‘Lookalike audiences’. These are Facebook users that are similar to the people in your original audience.
These audiences will never be as good as warm audiences but they can help boost the number of people you reach if you find your existing audiences are too small.
Finally you can go in cold and target people who may never have heard of your magazine before but fit your ideal reader profile.
Facebook interest targeting can be extremely effective at reaching a brand new audience. Instinctively this won’t be as strong an audience as the others as they haven’t encountered you before. If you can find a big enough sample you can make it work. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with my cold targeting.
Targeting cats and dogs
One trick that many advertisers miss is that you can target people who like one thing and another thing. People who like Cats and Dogs.
By default when you add interests to your audience you are targeting people who like Cats or Dogs. See below.
I used to believe small audiences offered better results on Facebook ads but I’ve learned that bigger is actually better. Only a small portion of people on Facebook click ads, if you aren’t targeting warm audiences it’s worth throwing the net wide and seeing who bites.
Using multiple audiences
You don’t have to choose just one of these options. For each post I promote on Facebook I create three audiences.
1. Website custom audience (excluding people who like my page)
2.Page Likes audience (excluding members of my website custom audience)
3. Interest based cold audience
Which works best? Keep reading and I’ll tell you.
Setting the objective
I talked vaguely about goals at the beginning of this post. Whichever goal you chose you can chose a Facebook ad objective that aligns with it.
As we’re talking blog posts here I’m going to stick with three key ad types:
- Boost post (page post engagement)
- Website clicks (people who click the link to your blog post)
- Conversions (people who take an action like filling a form or reach checkout on your site)
All three of these ad types can be applied to your blog posts shared on Facebook
Here’s the thing, depending on which objective you chose, Facebook will show your ad to a different group of people.
- If you chose a Boost Post objective Facebook shows your ad to people it knows are more likely to click the Like button or comment.
- If you choose the ‘Website clicks’ objective Facebook will show it to people who are most likely to click the link.
- If you choose the Conversions ad type it will be shown to the people most likely to convert.
If you want people to read your blog you need to abandon the boost post button and create your ads in ad manager.
If you want to optimise for conversions you’re going to need to do a bit of magic with that Facebook pixel I mentioned earlier. This is probably something you are going to need your web developer to do.
How much will it cost?
Now you know the type of ad you want to run and who you want to target the final decision is your budget.
The minimum cost for a boost post ad is €1 per day. For a website clicks ad it’s €5 per day.
I spend a minimum of €10 per week on boosting one post.
Your cost per click will vary depending on who you are targeting, where they live, the time of year and the industry you are in.
When you buy Facebook ads you set a daily or lifetime budget. Facebook will spend that the best it can and you’ll see afterwards what it cost per click, engagement or conversion.
It’s only after you have run a campaign that you will have a CPC (cost per click) or CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions) to benchmark yourself against
For more on pricing read this post from Buffer.
You’re ready to create your ads
I have to take my hat off to Facebook, they have made the ad creation process really user-friendly.
The one thing that may not be obvious is the structure of a Facebook ad campaign. Before I share my process and results with you I just wanted to give you the basics.
Facebook ads are structured a bit like a tree:
- The campaign is the trunk of the tree – It defines the objective of the ads you want to run (engagement, website click, conversions)
- The branches of the tree are ad sets – Each ad set can have its own budget, schedule and audience.
- The leaves that grow on each branch are the ads. – Each ad can have its own creative elements, images videos and text.
Facebook will automatically split test the ads within the ads set and use the ones that produce the best results widely.
When I promote my blog posts I Have one campaign the objective is website clicks
In that campaign I have three ad sets, each one reaches a different audience:
1. Website vistiors
2. Page likers
3. Interest based audience
Each one of those ad sets contains one ad (although best practice would be to have at least three). I use my Facebook page post as the ad in all cases.
Right so that’s the theory. Lets look at the results
I’ve been analysing the results of my website clicks ads since the beginning of the year and I have to say I’m surprised.
CPM (Cost per 1,000 impressions)
The audience it’s cheapest for me to reach is my page likers. They cost me an avearge of €1.80 per 1000 impressions. I pay twice that to reach my interest audience and three times that to reach my Website custom audience.
CPC (Cost per click)
When I look at my cost per click the Interest audience wins with an average CPC of just 17c. In second place it’s my Website custom audience at a massive 47c per click and lagging behind is my Likers at 51c per click. That’s three times the cost of my interest audience.
Does this mean you should ignore everything I said about warm audiences?
No, I don’t think so, I’d like to offer a different conclusion:
- I’m not excluding the post I’m promoting when I target my website custom audience. This means that many who see the ad may already have seen it.
- A lot of my website visitors will be reading posts that aren’t relevant to the latest post I’m sharing. I need to target interests within my website audience rather than a one size fits all approach.
- I’m targeting really well at my interest audience.
I’m going to keep experimenting with this. I’m also going to be running some lead gen and conversion ads shortly. It will be interesting to measure those results against the theory too.
If you haven’t started using Facebook ads to target your audience yet give it a try. It’s a great way to get exactly the right people to read your blog posts
Do what I’ve done and split test your audiences, work out the ones that are working and hone the ones that aren’t.
Register for my FREE webinar: Top 5 Mistakes Businesses Make on Twitter (And How to Avoid Them)