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How to Create Facebook Ads that Actually Work for Your Business

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Soap business owners are coming to terms with the fact that social media is no longer a free marketing playground. I've seen an uptick in soapmakers tackling "pay to play" marketing strategies. (Heck yes!) But can you get Facebook ads to actually work for you?

I've been an avid user of Facebook advertising for my own businesses for years. So, I'm excited to see soapmakers take advantage of the powerful targeting methods and marketing strategies that Facebook ads provide.

The most common complaint I've seen regarding paid social media advertising is that Facebook ads don't provide return on investment. Time and time again, soapmakers comment that paid advertising is basically throwing money down the drain. The truth is you can create Facebook ads that actually work for your business, with a better understanding of how to use the system.

Facebook Advertising Mistakes Soapmakers Make

When it comes to Facebook ads for your soap business, you must remember that each individual advertisement cannot stand alone. It doesn't matter whether we're talking about Facebook ads, Google Ads, or any other method of paid advertising, you need to look at each ad as a piece of the puzzle. Your marketing strategy as a whole needs to work together to create a bigger picture.

It's important to create Facebook ads that work in tandem with other marketing efforts. You want to use Facebook ads as a helper for your other marketing efforts, like your website, newsletter, shopping cart, in-person event, etc. The easiest way to look at this is to think of Facebook ads as the railing on your marketing staircase.

If the marketing staircase above is a completely new way to look at your marketing efforts, this article about how to market your handmade soap and cosmetics will help you fill in the gaps.

When you consider what step a person is on, you can use Facebook advertising to help them take the next step. As such, every Facebook ad that you run should have a specific goal and purpose. You could use a Facebook ad to introduce yourself to new people (drive traffic), foster a relationship with your audience (brand awareness), increase interest in your products (lead generation), sell a product (sales conversions), or remind people about your products (remarketing).

As you can see, promotional advertisements with the goal to sell a product are just one step. When it comes to Facebook advertising, they are the most expensive and least effective when done incorrectly. Instead of using up your whole marketing budget on a single step, spread the love out across your marketing staircase. Facebook ads that work tend to increase brand awareness, build relationships, and capture leads rather than go for the sale.

More often than not, soapmakers use the easy button (Boost Post) when it comes to Facebook advertising. Unfortunately, these types of Facebook ads don't tend to go over well because the default settings aren't built specifically for the post you promote. Facebook automatically chooses the people who like your Facebook page as the audience for your boosted post, and those folks could be anywhere on your marketing staircase!

Instead of throwing caution to the wind, set yourself up for success by crafting a specific strategy for your Facebook ads. Choose a specific step on the marketing staircase, create your ad creative (image, video, copy) for that step, and serve it to the people it is relevant to.

To do this, you need to get familiar with "dark posts" which are Facebook ads that are created in the Facebook Ads Manager. Dark posts are only visible to the people you choose to serve them to and are not public posts on your Facebook page. If you aren't familiar with Facebook Ads Manager, dive into Facebook's help center and then check it out yourself. It may seem overwhelming at first, but Facebook will walk you through creating ads every step of the way.

You will need the Facebook pixel installed on your website to take full advantage of your Facebook advertising efforts. Some eCommerce platforms make this super easy by using a plugin or connecting your Facebook account to the platform, including Shopify, Squarespace, and WooCommerce.

Do's and Don'ts of Facebook Ads that Actually Work

When you are creating a Facebook ad for your soap business, you want to make sure to tick all the right boxes. Here's the things you absolutely should do:

  • Keep your caption short, but intriguing, and use the heck out of your brand voice
  • Include a call to action, that directly tells folks what to do (and make sure to keep it simple)
  • Use keywords that are relevant to your ad and audience
  • Include persuasive or interesting imagery or video to get folks to slow their scroll
  • Include a copy of your URL at the bottom of your caption (another clickable link? yes please!)
  • Use taglines, hooks, and branding buzz words to draw people in

There's a lot of variables that go into Facebook ads that actually work, and each piece of the puzzle needs to be on point. Don't be afraid to refine and edit over time!

A handy statistic that will help you along the way is the Relevance Score of a Facebook ad. The Relevance Score is a rating scale from 1 to 10 that tells you how much your target audience is interested in your ad. A high Relevance Score will serve your ads to the right people at the best possible price and see a higher return, while a low score will hit less people, be less effective, and cost more. If you are seeing a low Relevance Score, take a look at each piece of the puzzle and see how you can improve.

When it comes to Facebook ads, you need to make sure that you don’t:

  • Give yourself the short end of the stick with a small of a budget (try $5 per ad when you get started)
  • Use small or a poorly designed image (use a minimum width of 1024 pixels)
  • Target a huge audience that is going to cost a lotta cash (the largest audience you should chase is between 500 thousand to 1.5 million)
  • Cut yourself off too soon (allow your ad to reach at least 1,000 people before changing anything up)
  • Spend money on marketing before you know your people (if you don't know your target market, it's going to be hard to find them!)

After each advertising campaign, make sure that you evaluate what did and didn't work for you. Take notes, look over the insights, and learn from them! You want to double down on what works and ditch what doesn't. Make sure that you are using both the Facebook statistics from your pixel and Google Analytics on your website so you can compare. 

Steal These Facebook Ads that Actually Work

If you want to get started with Facebook ads, but don't have any ideas on where to start, these five Facebook ads will help you dive in. I've used these ads for myself and clients multiple times and know they actually work! (No more guessing!)

Introduce Yourself (Awareness Step)

Help people take the first step on your marketing staircase and introduce yourself personally!

Find Fresh Peeps

You can use this ad to share a recent blog post that describes the benefits of your product, your core values as a business, or valuable information that is relevant to your target market. If you don't blog, you could use your well-crafted About page on your website as the click-through. Your goal for this advertisement is to get folks to get to know you somehow.

To make sure this Facebook ad actually works for you, target your audience demographically. Build a custom audience using Audience Insights. Start with everyone on Facebook, and then narrow it down by considering:

  • Location
  • Interests
  • Age and gender
  • Marital and family status
  • Other pages on Facebook they "like"
  • Celebrities, influencers, or people they "follow"
  • Apps they use on Facebook
  • Magazines, newspapers, or blogs they read
  • Companies outside your industry serve them

Remember to aim for an audience of a decent size on this ad, so that you can capture interest. Aim for a maximum audience size of 500,000 to 1.5 million people. Don't be afraid to set up multiple audiences and give them a try if your audience starts getting too small!

If you use this Facebook ad to drive traffic to your website, you can retarget each individual person in the future and build a better relationship.

Facebook Meet and Greet

As a secondary ad, you can also introduce yourself to people who might have found you elsewhere but aren't following you on Facebook! Create ad copy to ask them to like your Facebook page so you can get the ball rolling on building a relationship and delivering value.

On this ad, target folks who have visited your website or signed up for your newsletter. You can do this by creating a Custom Audience based on a Customer File (your email list imported) or Website Traffic (built from your Facebook pixel).

Build a Relationship (Recognition Step)

Get people more involved with your brand by delivering value and getting personal in their inboxes. Your goal with this Facebook ad is to get folks to sign up for your newsletter.

To do so, you can offer an incentive such as a free download, a promotional offer, or access to a webinar or mini-class. Most soap business owners look at these incentives as something that won't work for them. It ain't true! If you truly know your target market, you can figure out something to offer value and deliver that connects them to your brand.

On a simple level, you could offer a discount, but that starts you off on the wrong foot with a potential customer. Think about the long-term relationship you want to build! Do you want them to only buy if they get a deal? Don't train your audience to shop during sales or promotions from the start.

You could also link a blog post that contains an opt-in to give more value upfront. For instance, a blog post titled Five Ways to Get More Beautiful Skin which contains an opt-in download/printable that helps your target market track their water intake, sleep, exercise, and skincare regime.

If you can't think of anything to offer up, you can still drive people to sign up for your newsletter. Think about what you write about, why they would like it, and how often you send it out. Focus your copy on the why and how, and work your brand voice magic into the ad.

You can target this ad to multiple different audiences, so again, don't be afraid to set up a few different ones and see how they do! You could serve this ad to current fans of your Facebook page. Or you can use a Custom Audience to serve it up to people who visited your website in the last 90 days. Or you can try creating a Lookalike Audience, which is an automatic Facebook-created audience that is similar demographically to an existing one.

Make a Compelling Move (Interest Step)

Help people make the jump from following you all over the place to experiencing your products for themselves. This Facebook ad is one where you can go promotional!

Use this Facebook ad to get folks to step up from Interest to Purchase by giving them a reason to. You could create a discount offer or coupon code, but again, please be careful not to train your audience to only shop on discounts. Instead, consider offering an incentive or extra value alongside a purchase, like:

  • Free gift with purchase over X amount or with X product (Free soap dish with $50 soap purchase or free travel kit with full-size kit purchase)
  • Free shipping with purchase over X amount (Pro tip: figure out your average order amount, and then go slightly higher)
  • Discounted pricing on bundling (Buy 5 bars of soap for $35, instead of $7.50 each)
  • Free gift wrap and personalized notes (Around holidays)

You want to make sure that you are targeting folks already interested in your products. You can do that in multiple ways! Here is a list of audiences you can target, from the most likely to convert to the least likely:

  • A custom audience of people who visited your product pages on your website via URL
  • A custom audience of the top 10% of your website visitors
  • A custom audience of your email newsletter subscribers
  • A custom audience of people who are highly engaged with your Facebook page
  • The default audience of people who like your Facebook page

Use this Facebook ad to drive people to a specific product or offer on your website. And, make sure it's as easy as possible for them to get what they were offered. For instance, if you use WooCommerce, you can create a link that adds a product and a coupon to the cart for someone.

Recapture Abandoned Carts (Purchase Step)

Did someone get lost along the way? Bring 'em back! A huge chunk of Facebook ads that actually work are focused on recapturing abandoned carts. The reason is clear: the person was ready to buy and didn't for some reason. So, it's a lot easier to get them to click through.

You can offer extra value or urgency to get them to checkout, but even just a reminder can work great. Make sure to wrap it up with strong messaging coated with your brand personality.

To target these ads, create a custom audience of visitors who added a product to their cart, but didn't actually purchase. You could also set up a custom audience for website visitors who viewed a product but didn't add it to their cart, too.

If they still don't checkout, you can remarket to them. Create a custom audience of website visitors who added a product to their cart but didn't checkout within 14 days. Then create a Facebook ad to get them on your mailing list or to like your page (like the previous examples!)

Retargeting (Repurchase Step)

Facebook ads aren't just useful for getting people on your mailing list or to buy a product the first time. They're also useful for bringing people back into the fold!

You could create a Facebook ad suggesting a repurchase after a certain amount of time. For instance, if someone bought soap that typically lasts a month, create a Facebook ad that reminds them to re-up. You would use a custom audience of website visitors who visited a product page and checked out. Or, if you use advanced email marketing where you can people tagged based on purchase, you could use an email list audience.

On the other hand, you can get folks re-engaged with your brand by inviting them back to your website. Target website visitors that haven't been back in 60 days, and share recent news, blog posts, or new products!

Not Seeing Your Facebook Ads Pay Off?

There are a lot of variables going on with Facebook ads that actually work. It's like a perfect storm. If you're having a hard time getting Facebook ads to work for you, keep this in mind:

Facebook is (probably) not broken. Something about your advertising is.

About ten years ago, GoDaddy was running commercials, especially during the Super Bowl, with Danica Patrick that were largely regarded as sexist and discriminatory. If GoDaddy ran those ads on Facebook, they wouldn't blame Facebook for the results of a bad reputation. It's not Facebook's job to create effective relevant Facebook ads that actually work, it's yours!

You could be reaching the wrong people, or reaching them at the wrong time, or even reaching the right people at the right time with the wrong message. You need to make sure that you are keeping your marketing staircase at the top of your mind.

Double-check that your budget isn't ridiculous for what you are trying to do. For instance, if you spend $5 on trying to serve a Facebook ad to a huge audience, it's not going to go well. On the other hand, if you spend $100 on an ad with a super small audience, that won't go well either.

Start with a budget of $5 to $10 and adjust as necessary. You don't have to be a big spender, but have realistic expectations for your budget. You can't have champagne tastes on a beer budget!

Last but not least, check over your copy, links, and visuals to make sure that everything is on point. If so, then it's still not Facebook. Chances are that your product isn't right for the target market, your branding isn't on par with what your audience expects, or something about your website isn't working right.

There's always a reason that Facebook ads don't work. So, find it and fix it rather than blaming it on Facebook.

No matter what happens, keep trying. I've been using Facebook ads for years. But, I still regularly set up multiple different ads and test them against each other to pull them apart later. It takes time for any advertising to pay off. So, don't expect to spend $5 on Facebook ads and become a millionaire. :)

Are you going to give these Facebook ads that actually work a shot? Did you come up with any ideas of your own?

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