December 18, 2018

Write effective Facebook ads

I’m currently making some updates to my copywriting book Simple Story Selling, adding in extra sections on Facebook and Google ads. I’ll be publishing snippets of the updated content in this week’s emails…

The conversations online about Facebook ads are mostly tactical. For example:

– What is the right video dimension to use?

– Should you fill the ad full of emojis?

– Should you use video or image ads?

– Should you use a lead ad, or send people to a landing page?

None of those things matter as much as coming up with a great concept for your ad.

Facebook isn’t a problem – solution environment. People are on Facebook to avoid thinking deeply about the problems they have, let alone find solutions. Most people are bored out of their skull scrolling through their newsfeed.

Your ad image or video still is the thing that will stop people scrolling past. Once you have their attention, the ad copy is what convinces them to take action.

Which means you should pay close attention to your images.

An effective Facebook ad image should graphically illustrate the concept of your ad. If you’re an expert at business turnarounds, perhaps the image is of a car smashing into a wall. Or of a toddler crawling across a boardroom table.

The images that work best on Facebook are the ones you almost didn’t run, because your business partner didn’t like them, or because you thought they were stupid. Anything that looks like a stock image normally won’t work. Faces in images is often a good idea (after all, this is Facebook).

Serious ads do not generally work on Facebook. Your ads have to be entertaining, and not too serious.

You should run Facebook ads on the assumption that most of your ads will fail. The ad that works best will be one wacko ad you almost never ran. In all successful ads the image illustrates the key idea your ad is trying to communicate.

People look at the image first, and decide whether or not to read the first sentence. Based on the first sentence, they’ll decide whether or not to read the second. And so on. The presence or absence of emojis in the copy is not a part of this decision.

Almost all good Facebook ads tell a story in some way, starting with the image. Your ad copy then continues the story started by the image.

Many people seem to be looking for a story formula for Facebook ads. A secret key that once discovered will unlock the secret to unlimited Facebook leads.

I don’t think there is an optimal story formula, because the type of story you tell and the way you tell it will vary depending on remarketing. If the audience already know you in some way, lengthy personal stories can work well (as long as they illustrate something important to the reader about their own life).

For cold traffic (people who don’t know you, and would rather you weren’t in their newsfeed), the story has to be more direct, and more obviously related to their situation.

For cold Facebook ads, the formula I suggest you start with is:

Get their attention with an image. The opening line of text in the ad acts as your headline. I will sometimes put *asterisk symbols* around the opening sentence, although this isn’t essential (test it).

Give them a line of content. Tell them where you are heading with the ad, or what the offer is. E.g. “These are the things my toddler taught me about business turnaround success…” (if using the toddler boardroom image).

Open your story with a dramatic drop, or low point. Some disaster that the reader will relate to, even if they don’t want to admit it.

Then include an up. ‘This is how I got out of the hole…’

Then invite them to continue the story by opting in, or redeeming your offer. The offer should be zero risk – a ‘no brainer’. It should also be simple to redeem. If you are offering a free book, don’t make them first register their email, then confirm their email, then confirm their address. They just won’t do it.

I’ll provide an example tomorrow.

Rob Drummond

Rob Drummond runs the Maze Marketing Podcast and Maze Mastery. Rob specialises in content production, ad creation, storytelling and CRM systems. He has two published books, Magnetic Expertise and Simple Story Selling, affordable on Amazon.