It doesn’t matter what niche you operate in — with over 65 million businesses on Facebook, you’re bound to have a fair amount of competition for likes, shares and conversions.

The good news is that of all those online businesses, it’s estimated that only 4 million actually invest in Facebook advertising. While this still leaves you with a lot of competition, it also presents a significant opportunity to gain a competitive edge over others in your niche.

Of course, getting the most from your Facebook advertising requires a fair amount of savvy. While, the majority of small businesses find themselves unable to prove any ROI from their Facebook ads, this seems to have a lot more to do with a failure to understand Facebook ad best practices than an issue with the platform itself.

So which techniques will allow you to truly gain an unstoppable advantage over your competitors? Here are five key strategies that will take your Facebook ads to the next level.

1) Lookalike Audiences

One of the best tools for finding new customers is Facebook’s lookalike audience feature. Ideally, you should already have a group of fans or customers you can use to create your own custom Facebook audience. Custom audiences can be created using your Facebook fans, data from your mobile app or by tracking users who have visited your website.

Creating a lookalike audience is remarkably simple. All you need to do is select which custom audience you wish to use as your source group, after which, Facebook does the hard work of identifying your audience’s demographic and behavioral information. The social media platform then uses this information to find other Facebook users who most closely resemble your source group and create a new audience you can target with your ads.

For best results, Facebook recommends that you be selective when creating a source group: “If a source audience is made up of your best customers rather than all your customers, that could lead to better results.” Similarly, a smaller lookalike audience is more likely to share your source audience’s traits and buying habits. Your quality copy will go that much farther with this advanced targeting option.

2) Interest Targeting

If you’re part of a niche that already has several other businesses with a significant Facebook following, you might be tempted to think that you won’t be able to break through the social media noise.

The good news is that this is far from the truth. Interest targeting does much more than let you find Facebook users who list reading as a hobby. It can also be used to target individuals who like a particular brand — including your competitors or brands that share a similar target audience. A perfect opportunity for crafting ads highlighting what differentiates your product or service, no?

Interest targeting can also be used to further narrow your target audience to improve the relevancy of your ads. Facebook’s “and/or” feature helps you get more out of your competition’s fans be eliminating those who are less likely to be a good fit for your own product or service. This can be done with other interests or demographic information, further ensuring that you reach those most likely to be influenced by your messaging.

3) Messenger Ads

As we’ve previously discussed, messenger ads can be a highly effective way to grow your business. Facebook Messenger can be used to send personalized sponsored messages directly to a potential customer’s inbox, a move that can significantly increase the likelihood of further interaction and conversion.

Just how effective are messenger ads? In an interview with Business Insider, Facebook’s head of Messenger David Marcus noted that “Conversations between users and companies inside Messenger have a 30% better return on investment than retargeting ads on the web.”

In other words, Messenger advertising has a lot of untapped potential. By using Messenger threads to promote a special event or offer a discount, you greatly increase the likelihood of starting a worthwhile conversation and getting those potential customers to convert.

4) Landing Page Optimization

The majority of Facebook ads direct users to a landing page where they can make a purchase, sign up for a free trial or take another desired action. But what do users see when they click away from Facebook and arrive at your landing page? For many marketers, a low conversion rate may not have much to do with their Facebook ads at all — rather, an ineffective landing page is to blame.

Users coming from a social media ad aren’t going to spend a lot of time deciding whether or not they’re interested in what you have to offer. In fact, research from the Nielsen Norman Group found that “to gain several minutes of user attention, you must clearly communicate your value proposition within 10 seconds.”

What will your visitors notice within those crucial few seconds? Do you have attractive visuals, a clear call to action and concise, compelling copy? Are signup forms easy to find and non-invasive? Accounting for these and other landing page optimization techniques will ensure that your Facebook ads actually accomplish their goals.

5) Creating a Marketing Funnel

While many Facebook advertisers relentlessly break down their targeting based on demographic and geographic information, they don’t always take the buyer’s journey into account. Still, there’s no denying that there’s a big difference between someone who has just become aware of a particular problem and someone who is ready to make a purchase.

As Ryan Stewart explained when writing for Moz, you can create an effective marketing funnel on Facebook by using retargeting and lookalike audiences. As Stewart explained, what you can basically do is “tell Facebook, ‘Hey, anytime somebody’s been to this blog post but hasn’t been to our landing page, show them this ad.’” This retargeting process can be repeated with new ads for each stage of the buyer’s journey — for those who visit a landing page but don’t start a free trial, those who start a free trial but don’t purchase and so on.

The key is that this technique gives potential customers messages, content and offers that are actually relevant to their current status in the marketing funnel. Sure, this means you’ll have to create more unique ads, but the uptick in leads and conversions is well worth the extra effort.

Parting Thoughts

While many small businesses view Facebook advertising as a murky and treacherous marketing investment, it doesn’t have to be this way for you. As you make use of the tools Facebook has already made available and combine it with other marketing best practices, you’ll be able to generate amazing results from your Facebook efforts.

As this increases your social media presence and drives new visitors to your website, you’ll soon gain a significant advantage over your competition.

Leave a Reply