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Do you sell prod­ucts or ser­vices on Face­book?

Won­der­ing how to test your tar­get­ing and mes­sag­ing?

In this arti­cle, you’ll learn how to use Face­book ads to find the per­fect audi­ence, test your mes­sag­ing, and con­firm whether your audi­ence is ready to buy.

How to Use Facebook Ads for Market Research by Maria Dykstra on Social Media Examiner.

How to Use Face­book Ads for Mar­ket Research by Maria Dyk­stra on Social Media Exam­in­er.

#1: Use Video Ads to Analyze Audience Interest Level

Find­ing your ide­al audi­ence for a new prod­uct can be dif­fi­cult. You may already know some gen­er­al infor­ma­tion about them such as age, geo­graph­ic loca­tion, and income. How­ev­er, you can expand your audi­ence selec­tion by ask­ing a few sim­ple ques­tions:

  • What oth­er pages does my audi­ence like/follow?
  • What key inter­ests do they have?
  • What oth­er things do I know about them (employ­er, habits, mar­i­tal sta­tus, kids)?

Face­book has a lot of infor­ma­tion for your ini­tial research. If you’re draw­ing a blank, start with Face­book Audi­ence Insights or use Facebook’s Sug­ges­tion fea­ture to find addi­tion­al rec­om­men­da­tions.

If you’re look­ing for IT pro­fes­sion­als in a large cor­po­ra­tion, type the name of one of the largest IT employ­ers (Microsoft, for exam­ple), and then use the Sug­ges­tions fea­ture to find sim­i­lar com­pa­nies.

It’s impor­tant to dif­fer­en­ti­ate what you’re look­ing for in your audi­ence.

For instance, to find lux­u­ry car own­ers on Face­book, type “BMW” in the Detailed Tar­get­ing field. You’ll see a vari­ety of choic­es, such as peo­ple who are inter­est­ed in BMW, work for BMW direct­ly, or are BMW deal­ers. To select own­ers, choose the Behav­iors cat­e­go­ry and select either cur­rent BMW own­ers or peo­ple look­ing to buy one soon.

Type your targeting information in the Detailed Targeting section.

You may want to fur­ther refine your audi­ence pool with the Nar­row Audi­ence fea­ture. Say you are inter­est­ed in IT pro­fes­sion­als who are also par­ents. In the top cat­e­go­ry, you can either list large IT employ­ers or spe­cif­ic job titles. Then click Nar­row Fur­ther and spec­i­fy that you’re look­ing for par­ents only.

Click Narrow Further to refine the audience for your Facebook ad.

To start your test, cre­ate indi­vid­ual ad sets for each of the audi­ence groups. If you have the time and bud­get, you can cre­ate one ad set per interest/behavior/demographic. To illus­trate, you may test BMW own­ers sep­a­rate­ly from Mer­cedes own­ers, or Microsoft employ­ees sep­a­rate­ly from soft­ware test engi­neers in gen­er­al.

Your goal is to come up with an audi­ence pool for each ad set that will be around 100k-250k in size.

For a suc­cess­ful cam­paign, you need to cre­ate a short (30- to 60-sec­ond) explain­er video. Use a video cre­ation tool to make a starter video. There’s no need to pay for a pro­fes­sion­al­ly pro­duced one. You’ll have an oppor­tu­ni­ty to do that lat­er when you’re ready to scale your mar­ket­ing.

Select Video Views as your cam­paign objec­tive.

Select the Video Views objective for your Facebook campaign.

Cre­ate sep­a­rate ad sets with a small bud­get of $10-$20/day for each audi­ence group you’re test­ing. You can go as low as $5 if you’re test­ing indi­vid­ual inter­ests vs. group. Run each of the ad sets for 3 days.

Your suc­cess met­ric for this phase is video views. Look for ad sets with video views of 25% or high­er. Cost per result is anoth­er fac­tor to con­sid­er. Turn off ads and ad sets that are not meet­ing the 25% goal and focus on fur­ther refin­ing your win­ning audi­ence com­bi­na­tions.

Look for Facebook ad sets with video views of 25% or higher.

Keep in mind that the goal of this stage is not traf­fic to your web­site or con­vert­ing web vis­i­tors into buy­ers. So don’t be dis­cour­aged if you don’t see imme­di­ate pur­chas­es. The pri­ma­ry ques­tions you’re look­ing to answer are whether any of the audi­ences are inter­est­ed in your prod­uct and which audi­ence groups are more inter­est­ed than oth­ers.

#2: Run Split Tests to Gauge Response to Your Messaging

Now that you have a bet­ter sense of your audi­ence, you’re ready to test your mes­sag­ing. The ques­tion you want to answer at this stage is whether peo­ple who saw your ini­tial video are curi­ous enough to click to your web­site.

For this phase, you need to have the Face­book pix­el installed. In addi­tion to installing base Face­book pix­el code, you need to con­fig­ure cus­tom events. At a min­i­mum, con­fig­ure View Con­tent, Ini­ti­ate Check­out or Add to Cart (if you’re in the ecom­merce space), Com­plete Reg­is­tra­tion, and Pur­chase.

Configure these Facebook pixel events: View Content, Initiate Checkout or Add to Cart, Complete Registration, and Purchase.

For mes­sage test­ing, start by cre­at­ing two to four top-lev­el sto­ry­lines to test. As an exam­ple, you may want to test whether peo­ple are more moti­vat­ed by cap­tur­ing missed oppor­tu­ni­ties, over­com­ing chal­lenges, or build­ing con­fi­dence. Cre­ate an ad for each sto­ry­line and include key phras­es in the post text, head­line, and link descrip­tion.

Test different messaging in your Facebook ads.

After you run a few ini­tial tests of the mes­sag­ing, vary the images.

Choose Traf­fic as the cam­paign objec­tive for your mes­sage test cam­paign and select the Land­ing Page Views option for Opti­miza­tion for Ad Deliv­ery. Opti­miz­ing by land­ing page views may dri­ve your costs a bit high­er, but you’ll get a bet­ter-qual­i­ty audi­ence.

Optimize your Facebook ad delivery for Landing Page Views.

Set a small bud­get of $30-$50/day for this test and run it for up to 5 days.

For the audi­ences, use your new­ly cre­at­ed com­bined audi­ence from the win­ning ad sets you test­ed in the pre­vi­ous phase. Addi­tion­al­ly, you can cre­ate a looka­like audi­ence of the peo­ple who viewed your video.

You mea­sure your suc­cess by how well each of your ads is per­form­ing. Com­pare the cost per result for each of the ads. Keep the cost per click (CPC) with­in or below indus­try aver­age. (Note: Aver­age CPC on Face­book was report­ed as around $1.73, though it varies by indus­try.)

Compare the cost per results for each of your Facebook ads.

If you’re opti­miz­ing based on land­ing page views, expect your cost per result to be approx­i­mate­ly 20% high­er by default.

If you optimize your Facebook ads based on landing page views, expect your cost per result to be approximately 20% higher by default.

#3: Use Web Conversion Ads to Test Your Product’s Conversion Potential

The two pre­vi­ous tests focused on the cold audi­ence and ini­tial audience/message fit. The goal of the con­ver­sion poten­tial phase is to see whether your audi­ences are will­ing to, and capa­ble of, spend­ing mon­ey on your prod­uct.

If you don’t already have one, you’ll need to come up with a low­er-cost offer. Sell­ing a high-tick­et item will take longer and require addi­tion­al warm-up steps, because peo­ple may not be ready to buy even after the ini­tial expo­sure.

To start test­ing, cre­ate a new Face­book cam­paign with the Web Con­ver­sions objec­tive and select the action you want your audi­ence to per­form.

Spec­i­fy the web­site pix­el event cor­re­spond­ing to the first action you want peo­ple to take on your web­site; typ­i­cal­ly, Reg­is­ter or Ini­ti­ate Check­out.

Create a Facebook campaign with the Web Conversions objective and select the action you want your audience to perform.

For your audi­ence, you want to tap into audi­ences that have seen your mes­sages before. The best audi­ences for this phase are:

  • Cus­tom audi­ence of peo­ple who engaged with your Face­book cam­paigns (both with your lat­est videos and your oth­er ads)
  • Cus­tom audi­ence based on the cus­tom event pix­el; exclude peo­ple who reg­is­tered (or pur­chased)

Target Facebook custom audiences that have seen your messages before.

Set a small bud­get of $30-$50/day for this test and run the cam­paign for up to 5 days. Use the win­ning message/storyline deter­mined in the pre­vi­ous tests. As a best prac­tice, use two to three ads per ad set to see which one per­forms bet­ter.

Pay atten­tion to cost per pur­chase (or reg­is­tra­tion, depend­ing on your ini­tial objec­tive). If you can keep your cost low­er than the price of your prod­uct, it’s an ear­ly indi­ca­tion of suc­cess.

Tip: If you’re not see­ing ini­tial con­ver­sion at this stage (or the price of the con­ver­sion is too high), check the oth­er ele­ments of your ads. Con­sid­er whether your land­ing page is opti­mized and if your prod­uct is priced appro­pri­ate­ly. Test dif­fer­ent ver­sions of land­ing pages and pric­ing pack­ages to iden­ti­fy the one that may work bet­ter.


Face­book is the per­fect plat­form for thor­ough­ly test­ing your mar­ket­ing. Use it to test each new prod­uct and offer before invest­ing too much time and mon­ey into it. Once you find the right com­bi­na­tion of audi­ence, mes­sage, and offer, you can use Face­book to con­tin­ue mar­ket­ing your prod­uct by dupli­cat­ing win­ning ad sets in each of the three stages you used for test­ing.

What do you think? Do you use some of these tech­niques to test your tar­get­ing and mes­sag­ing on Face­book? What tac­tics have worked for your busi­ness? Please share your thoughts in the com­ments below.

Learn how to use Facebook ads to find the perfect audience, test your messaging, and confirm whether your audience is ready to buy.

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