A blog about Facebook marketing

A scientific approach to Facebook advertising


This is a guest post by . James holds a PhD in Computational Neuroscience and Artificial Intelligence from the University of Oxford, has been a founder in four different companies and lectured in behavioural psychology for the Oxbridge Academic Programs.

In short, he knows a lot about both statistics and human behaviour - two of the main pieces of the Facebook advertising puzzle.


It is a truism that in business there are fundamentally two ways to increase profit; cut costs or improve sales. I consider the rest simply smoke blowing, or at best an indirect route to the same goals. Together these two objectives comprise any business case.

'Below the line' are your internal concerns such as driving efficiency to reduce costs, and building resilience so that social and economic shifts don't erode your hard work overnight.

‘Above the line' are your customer or user-base: the outside world. Here you are driving revenue by offering customers what they want, and building trust in your brand so that people will feel at ease when buying from you.

We all know that Facebook can play a crucial role when connecting with this 'outside world', but understanding exactly what part it plays in the bigger picture will unlock the opportunities that can make all the difference.

7 things you are already doing (right?)

If you are working in the Facebook advertisement space, you should already be aware of some of the best practises. Below I provide a quick overview of the types of things you are already doing with your Facebook advertisement content:

  1. Run multiple campaigns with a high initial CPC/CPM offer (tweak later)
  2. Split test your images (use faces, bright colours, borders), headlines and copy
  3. Split test your advert positioning (newsfeed vs right-hand column) and platform (mobile vs desktop)
  4. Split test your demographic (age, location, gender, etc.)
  5. Ruthlessly track your conversion funnel using pixels
  6. Use statistical tests to finalise your decision making (hint: two-proportion z-test)
  7. Reallocate budget quickly and decisively

It is very important that you do not skip these steps unless you are already working with prior information that has been established over a long period of time. In particular, pay close attention to the WHOLE of your funnel.

For example, you may observe that 'Segment A' of your demographic responds very well to a particular advert arrangement and you can achieve a initial Registration Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) of £2.50.

However, members of this segment do not go on and buy anything, ever! On the other hand, 'Segment B' may respond less well to the same advert arrangement (lower CTR, higher CPC) causing the initial Registration CAC to be £7.50. However, every member of this segment goes on and buys something, ultimately making this a very profitable campaign.

Not all segments are created equal, and more importantly, a strong performing advert arrangement may not bring in the right type of customer (e.g. a user that comes in on an 'offer' is likely to always require one to do anything).

Give your visitors a second chance

So we have our Facebook campaigns set-up, nicely managed through the Facebook ads tool of your choice (I use Qwaya). But Facebook is not the one-stop-shop for all your online advertisement needs.

Even if you follow all the best practices known to (wo)man, you may struggle to achieve an acceptable ROI. This is why it is so very important to appreciate how Facebook fits in with your other techniques.

Facebook can be exceptionally efficient at targeting your desired demographic and generating an identity for your brand/company. However, Facebook isn't always the best place to close a sale.

By driving traffic to your website through Facebook advertisements, you have simply peaked the interest of a suitable member of your chosen demographic; you still need to close the sale when they aren't browsing photos of their friend's dog.

This is where retargeting comes in.

If you are not already remarketing/retargeting on Google Adwords, you should be. Retargeting is where you continue to advertise through the Google Display Network, only to those visitors who have seen your website before.

However, you need to go one step further than this. You should also be retargeting through the Facebook Ad Exchange network using a service like Perfect Audience (my preferred choice). Perfect Audience allows you to show your Facebook adverts specifically to those visitors that have seen your website before.

Better still, you have significant control over who sees what. For example, you can target only those users who did not create an initial account. This is like building a traditional Facebook 'custom audience' without having to collect any personally identifiable information.

Final note - it’s not all statistics

The combination of web retargeting and Facebook retargeting can be very fruitful. But remember, you are telling a story and portraying a brand identity. This means that all your adverts need to be consistent with one another, offering the same design/style and the same sentiment.

Next time you're creating a host of Facebook campaigns, think about what you want to do with all those eyeballs that didn't perform the actions you wanted, and how you can make the most out of your initial hard work.


Connect with James on Twitter: @jmtromans


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