Your 4-Point Facebook Ad-Tracking Strategy for 2014

by Dave Clarke on February 7, 2014
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Not too long ago, Facebook made some changes to its ad program. Its goal was to help businesses more effectively target their advertising campaigns and measure the results of their efforts. The updates, which enhanced the social network’s buying and reporting tools, let you use conversion tracking pixels to identify your goals and more effectively meet those objectives.

Here’s a strategic four-point plan to take advantage of this technology:

1. Create a conversion tracking pixel. Facebook will give you a snippet of code to embed in your landing pages. This is your conversion tracking pixel, which you’ll use to measure the impact of your ads according to your objectives.

“Tracking pixels allow us to accurately track and measure the cost to acquire a customer via a particular ad on Facebook,” explains Amy Norman, co-founder of Little Passports, a maker of geography-related learning materials for children. “We can then test which ads [images, text, location] have the lowest cost to acquire a customer.”

2. Specify your objectives. Facebook lets you choose one of eight types of objectives for your campaigns:

  • Clicks to website
  • Website conversions
  • Page post engagement
  • Page likes
  • App installs
  • App engagement
  • In-store offer claims
  • Event response

3. Target users. You can target specific groups using a tool called Custom Audiences, or you can find prospects whose demographics resemble your existing customers using Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences tool.

With Custom Audiences, you set the parameters for the types of users you want to see your ads, such as dance moms in Peoria, Ill. If you use the Lookalike Audiences tool, you upload your email list (from an Excel spreadsheet) and Facebook’s ad engine scours its database to help you find users whose interests and demographics are similar.

“We used Custom Audiences at the beginning to convert our purchasing customer base into Facebook fans by targeting customer opt-in emails that had not yet ‘liked’ us on Facebook,” says Luca Daniel Lavorato, co-founder and director of operations for Joseph Nogucci, an online jewelry store and manufacturer. “These custom audiences continue to provide value, as they are updated with new customers that are not yet following us on Facebook.”

Meanwhile, the Lookalike Audience helps Joseph Nogucci reach prospects who, according to Facebook’s analytics, exhibit interests and behaviors similar to the jeweler’s existing clientele. “This has helped increase the [click-through rate] and engagement of posts targeted at lookalikes, since they behave like our fans/customers,” Lavorato says.

4. Choose your placement. Place your ad in the news feed, where it looks like a standard Facebook post (except it will be labeled “Sponsored”) or off to the side of the news feed in the column that appears on the right side of each individual user’s home page.

Lavorato and Norman’s experiences show that right-column ads are distributed to a larger audience (even though they don’t yet appear on mobile devices) but generally have a lower click-through rate. News-feed ads are shown to a smaller audience but get higher click-through rates, because they are physically in the part of the screen where users are actively engaged.

If click-through rates are your goal, the news feed is the way to go. If, however, total click-throughs are what you’re after, the higher distribution rate of right-column ads and the higher number of click-throughs you will ultimately be a better choice.

“We run news feed ads almost exclusively to existing fans and potential fans,” says Lavorato. “We have seen consistently better results with news-feed ads, even if they are more competitive ad positions.”

Norman agrees. “We have seen lower acquisition costs with news feed. The image size is larger, users are able to comment on the ad, and there is room for additional messages.”

Dave Clarke is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.

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