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October 25, 2019

In the 5+ years we’ve been managing Facebook accounts, we’ve come across numerous mistakes when auditing new client accounts — and we have audited a lot! Running digital campaigns is not easy. Every platform has its own nuance, algorithms and best practices are constantly changing, and the details big and small are plentiful. But even the tiniest mistake can chip away at your budget, lead you astray from your KPIs, and create a waterfall of other issues.

We don’t want any of that to happen to you. Here are the seven most common mistakes we’ve encountered when auditing ad accounts big and small, and how to fix them in your own campaigns.

1. Poor campaign structure 

Issue: You have too many campaigns running, and your campaign and ad set structure has been segmented so much that it’s hurting performance.

Fix: Consolidate and simplify. Cut down on the number of campaigns you’re running, and figure out how to more efficiently bucket ads within ad sets within fewer campaigns. Often we’ll see accounts with one ad per ad set, and one ad set per campaign. Consolidating your account structure helps to minimize overlap in audience targeting. A tighter structure also focuses media spend and ensures you’ll accrue the conversions needed for Facebook’s algorithm to exit the learning phase and optimize your campaign. This is usually 20-50 conversions on your optimization event on each ad set.

Each client has unique needs, but we often recommend splitting out campaigns in a few ways. Below are some recommendations:

Campaigns:

  • By tactic — Prospecting, Retargeting, etc.
  • By product – If your company has multiple product lines, structuring by product helps keep budgets separate and campaigns organized.

Ad Set:

  • Combine similar interests — We often see audiences built with only one interest keyword. By adding in additional similar terms, you will increase your audience size and find a broad reach of new customers without running the risk of audience overlap.

Ads:

  • We recommend running 2-6 ads within each ad set. Facebook says more than 1 but less than 10. Running multiple ads in each ad set will allow the algorithm to deliver the right ad at the right time to the right person.

Below is a simplified visual of a typical account structure we use.

Example Campaign Structure

2. Not including updated exclusion lists

Issue: You’re wasting money advertising to people who know about your product, have already seen your ad multiple times, or have already purchased from you.

Fix: Facebook makes it easy for you to exclude people who won’t benefit from your ads (and in turn, who you won’t benefit from showing your ads to). Facebook Custom Audiences lets you compile people who have taken an action that gives a clue as to how well they know your brand. You can exclude people who have visited a certain landing page, liked your Facebook page, made a purchase, etc. Set up targeting rules to avoid showing some products in your dynamic ads to people in your audience. Your strategy on who to exclude should be based on your campaign’s objective and creative.

Once you have exclusion lists set up for applicable campaigns, be sure to update them. If the campaigns are effective, you’ll be moving lots of people through your preferred conversion so you’ll no longer want to target them with the same ad. You can also set up dynamic audiences within Facebook using your pixel data.

3. Poor naming structure

Issue: You have no standard process for naming campaigns, ad sets, or ads, so that when you pull reports it’s difficult to identify and interpret results.

Fix: Determine an official naming process, and make it mandatory for everyone who works on ads. Especially as you’re running campaigns at scale, like many of our customers, a standard format across the board will make it easier to identify, sort, filter, and make strategic decisions for campaigns all the way down to individual ads.

There’s no rulebook for how you should name campaigns, ad sets, and ads, but there are some pro tips to consider for your official naming structure. You could assign a name that pertains to each campaign level’s purpose — campaign = objective, ad set = campaign objective + audience, ad = objective + audience + creative description. You can also name each ad campaign level depending on a specific identifying variable. Product variables could include brand, category, product line, product name, promotion/sale. Or you could pull in targeting variables like traffic source, geo, ad type, placement.

Whatever you decide, keep in mind that the strongest naming convention will tell you the exact campaign, ad set, or ad just by its label.

4. Overlap in audiences

Issue: Two or more of your campaigns are set up to target the same audience. You’re unnecessarily burning through budget paying for ad sets that are competing for the same eyes. 

Fix: Without redoing everything, there are two quick fixes to remove audience overlap. First, you can regroup overlapping ads into fewer ad sets. This will keep the ads from competing against one another. You can also refine your targeting. Exclude interests, behaviors, demographics, etc. for each ad set until there’s no longer overlap.

If you’re not sure if you have overlapping audiences, Facebook has a tool for that. Go to your Audiences, check the boxes next to the audiences you want to compare (up to 5), click Actions > Show Audience Overlap. Facebook shows you Venn diagrams so you can see the amount of overlap between the first audience and each additional audience, as well as the overlap percentage and the number of people overlapping.

5. Not letting your ad set exit the learning phase

Issue: You optimize ad results as fast as you can, but your changes aren’t yielding the results you want or expected.

Fix: Be patient! Instead of focusing on the amount of time a campaign has run, take a look at conversions. We often don’t touch an ad (or ad set) until it’s accrued 20-50 conversions. That magic window ensures you have enough data to normalize any outliers, and that the ad’s potential wasn’t tapped out early by an inadequate budget. Keep in mind that making significant changes to the ad set like changes to targeting, creative, optimization event, or bid strategy will reset the learning phase.

6. Not optimizing to your conversion event and other weird bidding goals

Issue: You’ve experimented with every type of ad delivery, but still aren’t hitting your KPIs.

Fix: It’s important to make sure your ad sets are optimizing toward your goal KPI. Facebook uses this info to decide who to show the ad to — users with the highest potential of converting based on your goal conversion event. If you’re interested in more purchases, you shouldn’t optimize your campaign for landing page views but should instead optimize for, you guessed it, purchases! Don’t forget, ad set level optimization is different than defining a conversion event in your ad set.

Keep in mind that Facebook likes to see 20-50 optimization conversion events per week to exit the learning phase and drive the best performance. Your bid and budget should allow for this.

Once your account is optimizing toward the correct event, make sure you’re bidding correctly. We see the most success with bid cap and cost cap bid types. When setting these, remember the CPA of your optimization event and use this number as a guideline for setting a cap. If your CPA is $10, you don’t want to set a cap at $3 or you will lose scale, and setting a cap of $30 might bring costs up. Start with a cap at about 20% higher of your CPA and adjust from there.

7. Irregular creative testing cadence/not enough creative testing

Issue: You don’t get new creative regularly or you don’t know the best way to test creative.

Fix: Creative is one of the biggest drivers of Facebook success. We are constantly testing new creative and iterations of past creative concepts to find new winners and keep our performance strong. One thing we recommend is planning out a testing calendar. If you don’t have a lot of budget, or aren’t able to get creative regularly, a testing plan will help keep the account healthy and performance stable.

Testing iterations of new ads are also a great way to develop new ads quickly and cost effectively. Iterations could include:

  • Body copy changes
  • Headline variations
  • In video/image copy iterations
  • Color variations
  • Different end card or CTA

By testing different versions of your original ad, you’ll start to learn which pieces of the ad are driving performance and will be able to use those learnings for future creative.

If you’re guilty of making any of these mistakes, don’t feel bad! Even expert-level Facebook users who’ve been running ads since Facebook Advertising became available find themselves slipping into bad habits or overlooking best practices. Adjust accordingly, and move on.

At Bamboo, we know how to quickly get you back and track if a mistake derails your campaigns. If you’re looking for a new growth agency, we’d love to chat. Fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch!


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