7 Steps to Finally Master Facebook Ads

Before I start, let me tell you why you should care about my opinion. I created my first Facebook ad in 2013, and have since spent over $1,000,000 between Facebook and Google ads experimenting and testing everything I could. Things have definitely changed over the years and I have learned a lot in the process. Back in July I left my job and started my own company, Ratz Pack Media. I have been running ads for clients ever since.

Enough about me, let’s get down to business.

Step 1: Who should you target?

The sad truth is that if you were to ask most businesses who their target market is they would reply “everyone.” But, everyone doesn’t want your product. Most companies are not Coca Cola, Facebook, or Google. In fact, these companies aren’t for everyone either. Some people love Pepsi more than Coke, others prefer Snapchat to Facebook, and there exists a group of people who prefer Bing over Google. Therefore, as a company, you need to forget about world domination and work on reaching the best potential market for your business. We will now discuss the best six groups to begin advertising to.

Group 1: Previous Customers

Way too many businesses forget that their best potential audience is people who have already purchased from them. These people already pulled out their credit card and bought your product. If you have another item that they would like, they may be the first ones in line to buy it, so why aren’t you advertising to them to make sure they know about the product?

Group 2: Email Subscribers

These people haven’t yet pulled out their credit cards, but assuming that you didn’t buy your email list from a different company, they willingly handed their email address to you. This at least means that they are someone interested in hearing more about what you have to say. You need to give them a good reason to pull out their credit card, but if they already gave you their email address it means that they are already part of the way there.

Group 3: Website Visitors

While these people haven’t given you any information yet, they have at least seen your logo, potentially read a blog post, or watched a video of yours. Website visitors are definitely not total strangers to your company, so it is definitely worth spending money to target them with ads.

*Group 4: Facebook Likes and Friends of Likes

I put an asterisk here because too many businesses have gotten their Facebook followers the wrong way. If you bought your Facebook likes, tricked people into liking your page, asked your friends and family to like and share your content you may have a list of totally irrelevant Facebook likes. But, if you spent time and effort putting out great content and with engaging your audience then these people may be an amazing audience to target. If the people who liked your page are authentic then their friends may also be an amazing group to target.

Group 5: Lookalike Audiences

Facebook spends all day learning people. They know what people click, like, love, share, comment on, ignore, what they laugh at, what they read online, what they watch, how long they watch for, etc. etc. etc. Facebook understand people, or at least they try to understand people. If you worked so hard to get people to buy from you, to give you their email address, or to come to your website, why not target people similar to those people? This is what lookalike audiences allow you to do.

But, there is a catch here. Many times reaching 2–10 million people in the United States is too broad of a group to be targeting. So, break down the group by targeting by demographics you know that your audience falls into. Are most of your buyers married women, between the ages of 30–50 with children between the ages of 6–12? Then, you should target that group of people within the lookalike audience. What about males, who like Red Bull that live in Denver, Colorado? Perfect, now instead of targeting 2 million people, you’ll be reaching 50–100 thousand who have a much better chance of being interested in your business.

*Group 6: Interest Groups

I am very hesitant to tell people to target this type of audience, for the same reason I wouldn’t target lookalikes alone. The audience is just too broad, and you just don’t know enough about the people to truly know if they will care about your company and products. But, if you have targeted all the other groups and gotten everything you could out of them, which is very unlikely, then you should test targeting on interest groups alone.

In my experience it is always better to target the lowest hanging fruit first. Target the most interested people first, only then, go after people that have never heard of you or your brand.

Step 2: What Should you Advertise?

Each audience needs its own distinct messaging. Obviously, your existing customers should get ads to sign up to your email list, and people who have never heard of you should not be getting ads to sign up to your VIP List for $5,000 a month. You need to target people with the right message specific to their context.

Ad 1: A Great Blog Post or Video

If someone has never heard of you don’t try to sell to them on the first ad, because they won’t be buying. Instead, give them a great piece of content just to introduce yourself to them. Give them a reason to like you, and don’t expect anything in return.

Ad 2: The Barter

Once the person has heard of you, they are more willing to open up, for the right price. If you give them something they want they will be happy to give you something in return. Give these people an eBook, a free webinar, a coupon, or discount and they will be very likely to give you their email address or phone number.

Ad 3: The Sale

It is very hard to get people to pull out their credit cards while scrolling through Facebook. Remember, you are stopping them from scrolling through baby pictures and cat videos, you think they want to pull out their credit cards at a busy time like this?! But, it can be done with the right offer to the right people.

Ad 4,5, & 6: Repeat

If the person wasn’t ready to buy then don’t just keep trying to hit them up to sell them something, they are obviously not ready to make a deal yet. So, go back to giving them the content that made them come to you in the first place. Send them more videos and in depth articles. After they have read a few more blogs and learned more about your company they may reconsider buying your product.

Step 3: What type of ads should you run?

Every time you create an ad campaign you should have a specific goal in mind. This goal should be what you hope to accomplish by running these ads. If the goal is to get email addresses then you should not be making a website click campaign, it should be a conversion campaign. If you are trying to get app engagement don’t run a “like” campaign. Create specific goals when starting out with your campaign so that you know exactly which type of campaign to create.

Step 4: What should the ad say?

Your ads should say exactly what will make your target audience act. You should write the exact language that will get them to accomplish your goal from Step 3. The problem is that you have no idea what that is. What text will get this specific person to be interested, click the ad, and fulfill the goal of this campaign? The only way to know is to test.

Several years ago there was no limit of tests that Facebook would allow you to run, so I would run over 200 ads per ad set. Today that number is maxed off at 50. So I will create several versions of text usually between 2 and 3, and then mix up each version by placing the post text in the headline, or swapping the description for the post text. Basically, for each version of text I am actually running 6 versions of the ad. (With three slots for text placing each line of text in a different location makes 6: A,B,C; A,C,B; B,A,C; C,A,B; B,C,A; & C,B,A.)

Step 5: Should I use a photo, a carousel, or a video?

Much like Step 4, the answer to this question is the specific type of content that will get your audience to do what you want. So if you need a video to get them to click, then use a video, if a carousel is what gets them to act, then a carousel should be used, and if you best express yourself with a single photo, use a photo . The problem is that at first this is unknown, so we must test them all to find out which most effective for the stated goal .So, if we created 2 versions of text, and made 6 ads from each version that means we have 12 ads created. Now we can test a video with 2 different thumbnails, a carousel, and a photo, that makes 48 total ads.

Step 6: Was my ad campaign successful?

What does a successful campaign look like? Am I paying too much for likes? Why aren’t my ads getting the mystical $.01 clicks? Is $1.00 good per lead? It is very hard to know the answer to this question, since every ad is different, and every audience is different. You should never compare your ads to any other ads unless that company running the ads is your direct competition. If you are not targeting the same exact audience with the same ad, you should not expect the same results. Also, just because you paid a certain amount last year does not mean that you will pay that amount this year.

So, how can you know if you are doing a good job? The answer depends entirely on your goal. If your goal is to sell a product, are you profiting on each sale. If the product sells for $30, costs you $5 to make, and costs you $25 per conversion, then you’re ads aren’t good. But, if the product sells for $10,000 and costs you $500 to make then $25 is an amazing price per conversion. This is why it is so important to have specific goals in mind when creating a campaign. If you value each email address at $2, the minute you are paying more than $2 they are not worth spending money on. So, before you run any campaign make sure you have a specific goal, and value per goal. This way you have a metric to compare to while your ads are running. I have one client that makes $4,500 per project, so paying $10 per lead is amazing, but another client that makes $50 per customers, so paying $10 per lead knowing that most may not end up converting, is not financially sustainable.

Before running ad campaigns, do your homework. Figure out what a click to your site is worth, what you make per app download, and what each of your Facebook likes are really worth. Only then can you know what a campaign is worth, and that is how you know if your ads are successful.

Never compare your ads to any other ads except your current ad campaigns.

Obviously, after you have a price per conversion, like, or engagement you should work to either keep the price low or test other things to get the price even lower. Never compare your ads to any other ads except your current ad campaigns.

Step 7: Testing New Features

Facebook is constantly trying to improve user engagement. They have rolled out tons of new features for ads over the years in hopes of giving users a better experience. The newest changes to Facebook’s ad platform are lead ads and canvas.


Facebook canvas looks incredibly similar to Snapchat’s discover platform. Since canvas is so new there are still tons of bugs and issues with it. But, you can still try sending some people to your canvas before sending them to your landing page. A canvas can have video, text, images, carousels, and call to action buttons. When your ad cannot explain the product fully Facebook allows you to create a canvas to show off your product or service in a new, engaging way.

Lead Ads

This is essentially a mini landing page. Since Facebook effectively has all the information a business could want (Name, Email, Phone Number, Address, etc.) why force people to type in their information? Facebook lead ads pre-fill all of the person’s information effectively cutting out most of the time required for landing pages. But until recently lead ads weren’t very compelling for the user. Why should I give this business my information? What am I getting out of it? So Facebook creating a context card, which gives businesses the ability to give their audience a little bit more information to convince to fill out the form.

Are lead ads better than landing pages?

That depends, which one gets your audience to fill out the form. I created ads for a client, sending the user to a landing page. After spending about $15 we had sent over 125 clicks to the page without getting a single lead. I recreated the ads exactly as they were, but sent the user to a lead ad with a context page. With that same $15 we got 7 leads. So it is all about testing the audience and seeing what works best for them.

The one bonus to sending people to a landing page is that you can place a Facebook pixel on the page and retarget those people later (even if they didn’t fill out the form).

Engagement Audience

Facebook is rolling out a new feature for targeting. Until now you could target people based on email address, phone number, Facebook ID, if they visited your website, if they downloaded or used your app, and if they were similar to the people listed above. They released a new audience to some users (I am not yet among the lucky businesses) which allows you to target people based on engagement. Currently, you can target people who have watched 10-seconds, 30- seconds, 25%, 50%, 75%, or 95% of your videos. Facebook will hopefully be rolling this out to everyone soon, as well as hopefully allowing you to target people if they have ever clicked, liked, shared, or commented on your page’s content. I learned about this new feature from Jon Loomer, read more about it here.

The Best Ads (for You)

At the end of the day what works for one audience may not work for other audiences, so the best thing you can do as an advertiser is be willing to test a lot and be prepared to pivot. If one set of ads doesn’t work tweak them, try a new audience, try a new picture, change the landing page, and test everything you can think of. If at the end of the day nothing is working try a new approach, give a different offer, and try something new. If you don’t test you will never know.

The Future of Facebook Ads

Facebook doesn’t really like when businesses send traffic off of Facebook. Just think about it, why would they? Would you want to send traffic from your website to some other site? Of course not, and either does Facebook. So, Facebook wants to create environments that once you enter you have no reason to leave. A few years ago Facebook realized they were sending tons of traffic to YouTube, so they made it possible to watch YouTube videos on the platform. Then, they realized that YouTube was still sending people from Facebook to YouTube so they created their own video player.

Now, Facebook noticed that publishers are sending people from Facebook to their articles, so Facebook created Instant Articles to allow publishers to place their content on Facebook, and allow people to read the content within Facebook.

This is likely the reason for lead ads, instead of sending people to a landing page, keep them on Facebook and let them fill out the form there.

Facebook noticed that a lot people were talking about Periscope so they released Facebook Live.

This will always be the case with Facebook. They will try to keep people on the Facebook platform as long as possible. So, as a business if you are trying to figure out how to do the best you can on Facebook think about it from this perspective. What does Facebook want? Facebook wants people to be engaged with content on Facebook. So create engaging content and eye-catching ads, and Facebook will want to show your ads to more people. Creating engaging content is the key to lowering the cost of your Facebook ads. So, always be testing new features that Facebook releases, compare them to how you were performing before and figure out how to constantly improve.

In the future, I am sure that canvas will be able to collect information just like lead ads. You will be able to target people that came and interacted with your canvas (essentially getting rid of the need for landing pages.) It is only a matter of time before this happens, so start testing now to see what your audience wants and engages with so that you can continue to put out engaging ads so that they continue to want to engage.


  1. Understand your audience
  2. Make ads your audience wants to see, and target them based on when they want to see them
  3. Get the ads in front of the audience
  4. Make money from your ads
  5. Analyze your ads
  6. Make better ads
  7. Make more money

If you need any help creating, managing, or analyzing your ads don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any question.

Thanks so much for reading! If you enjoyed this article don’t forget to give it a heart and share it on Facebook!

If you like this type of content make sure to check out my Facebook page.