How To Optimize Your Facebook® Ad Audiences For Lower Cost Per Lead & Acquisition

How To Optimize Your Facebook® Ad Audiences For Lower Cost Per Lead & Acquisition

Table of Contents

Facebook® ads can be a bit of a bottomless pit for cash unless you can get the right message in front of the right audience. 

Every month, thousands of people jump into Facebook® ads without the correct strategies and end up wasting their hard-earned cash. 

Many people would be better off putting their cash in an envelope and mailing it to Mark Zuckerberg, because at least then they wouldn’t have wasted the time setting up their ads.

The majority of Facebook® Advertisers never get their ads off the ground. And they end up saying things like, “Facebook® ads don’t work,” or “My clients aren’t on Facebook®.”  But one of the big reasons they are not getting the results that they want is that they have selected inappropriate or suboptimal people to display their ads to. 

Most people fantasize about their ads generating sales and converting cold, interest-based audiences when the reality is that even the best Facebook® advertisers struggle with these audiences. Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t use interest or behaviour based audiences. The issue is that most people move in for the kill and ask for the opt-in or the sale far too early.

What I am about to share with you in this post is proven methodology for engaging with your audience through your ad campaigns and enticing your very best candidates to self-select and put their hands up so that you can follow up, and show them ads that solve a specific problem for them.

This will significantly boost your engagement levels and will ultimately result in lower Cost Per Lead (CPL) and Cost Per Acquisition (CPA).  

Get this right, and you will cut out days, weeks, and months of pain, frustration, and wasted money. Yes, you still need to put in the work. But you will know that you’re on the right track and that you’ll be short-circuiting your Facebook® ad success.

This strategy is one of the quickest and fastest ways for you to slash your CPL and CPA especially if you’re only starting with Facebook® Ads. 

I will explain the three levels of Facebook® ad strategy that every Facebook® ad campaign needs, the ad type that works best with this strategy, and why the Apple iOS 14.5 update ensures that this is one of the most valuable ads that you have in your arsenal. 

And then I will wrap up with four additional audiences that you can leverage to significantly reduce your CPL and your CPA, and how you can start building these audiences today. 

Why We Need A Better Facebook® Ad Strategy 

Ad costs are rising. Now, this isn’t just true on Facebook®, and it isn’t because Facebook® is deciding to put up its costs. That’s not the way it works. 

Simply put, Facebook® has a limited amount of real estate that they can serve ads on. By real estate I mean the newsfeeds, right column, stories, results, videos, search and messages of their Facebook® members. 

As more and more advertisers enter the auction market for this limited real estate and are willing to spend more and more money to serve ads to Facebook users the price to serve said ads increases.

As ad platforms mature and gain popularity the cost of advertising increases, it’s simple economics. But here is the thing, the increased costs are not the issue, it’s the fact that most people don’t have a system for optimizing their funnel and maximizing the immediate and lifetime return of each lead they attract.

When it comes to optimizing your audience one thing that many people don’t consider is that they are not just competing against other advertisers in your industry. You are competing against everyone who may want to target the individual Facebook® user that you are targeting.

For example, you may be in the fitness industry but someone who is a perfect target for your ad may also be a dog owner, a bitcoin trader as well as an avid golfer.

And guess what the people who are most likely to opt-in and purchase from you are the same people who are most likely to subscribe and purchase from other advertisers.

So before we start the argument that Facebook has no shortage of real estate to advertise on we have to understand that a substantial portion of people, even if they perfectly fit into our defined audience and we craft the perfect no brainer offer, they still won’t take the action that we prescribe.

All this to say, that the most valuable audiences, the ones that we want to get in front of, are not just attractive to us but attractive to others and that is the reason why they are the most expensive.

There is very little we can do on an audience targeting level to change this. However, what we can do, deploy a strategy that identifies the people within our broad audiences who are most likely to take the action that we want, using the cheapest possible ad types and then use that data to retarget them with ads that ask them to take some action.

The 3 Levels Of Facebook® Ads Every Campaign Needs

When deployed the strategy that I’m about to share is a proven winner but you still need to apply all the steps and optimizations that we’ve already discussed in this series including your overall strategy, offer, landing page & creative.

So before attempting to launch this strategy make sure that you firm grasp of fundamentals because they will need to be deployed with this strategy too.

With that warning out of the way let’s dig into the 3 Levels of Facebook Ads Every Campaign needs.

Top Of Funnel (TOFU)

The Top of Funnel is all about engagement. At this level we want to keep our audience size large and more than likely we will be relying on interest-based audiences. 

When using cold interest-based audiences one of the problems we face is that people don’t know who you are, understand what you do, or the transformation you can help them achieve. As a result, if you go directly for “the ask” they are unlikely to take the requested action.

This is the problem that we must address. One of the big objectives for the TOFU is to drive engagement with our content and give people an understanding of who we are, what we do, and how we help people. 

Our goal is to find the people who are engaging and consuming our content so that we can then move them up to the next level and retarget them during our middle-of-funnel campaign. 

Across the TOFU level, we want to hook people into your concepts, your values, and your approach. Your campaign objectives will be reach, traffic, engagement, or video views depending on your ad format. 

Now, why engagement and not a conversion objective? There’s a time and a place for conversion campaigns, but the TOFU is the time to get in front of people and let them self-select. Because there is no specific “ask”, engagement campaigns using the objectives above are the cheapest form of ads that you can run. 

Now, just because they’re cheap doesn’t mean we don’t need to work hard and be strategic about the content. In fact, the content for your Top of Funnel ads is just as important as the content for your conversion ads.

So what content works best? Your TOFU content should be unbiased, informational, educational-based content. Think about how you can best engage people and show people that you understand them, the problems they face as well as the hope and dreams they hold. 

Your call to action will be relatively weak. As in you’re not asking them for any level of commitment. The “ask” is simply to watch a video, consume your post, read a blog post, and maybe comment or engage. Any action that doesn’t require a big commitment, because if somebody doesn’t know you, they’re unlikely to commit to something significant.

Middle Of Funnel (MOFU)

When we enter the MOFU phase, we’re going to leverage the audiences built from interactions from the TOFU phase. We are transitioning from the awareness stage to the evaluation stage and as these people have previously engaged or interacted with your content you can now bring the relationship to the next level.

You can look at your MOFU as the bridge between your free content and your offering. If the goal of TOFU was to engage with your audience, show them you understand them and the problems they face, your MOFU content seeks to filter and sort out the people who are not just interested but motivated to take action.

Our goal here is to move people from a prospect to a qualified lead, by enticing them to exchange their email address in return for something valuable via a lead magnet opt-in. 

Earlier in this series, I went into detail on the best lead magnets and what a lead magnet should do. 

In summary, the best lead magnet is one that helps your Perfect-Fit Client get unstuck and take their very next step on their road to the ultimate transformation that you can help them achieve. To do this you have to understand the micro problems they face and provide fast-acting tools to help them move forward.

What are some of the hot lead magnet formats at the moment? Checklists, quizzes, cheat sheets, templates, scripts, roadmaps, and fill-in-the-blank worksheets, are all working well at the moment. 

Some less appealing magnets are guides, white papers, ebooks, videos, mini-courses, webinars. There’s nothing wrong with any of these, and many have worked well in the past but the bigger the Lead Magnet and the longer it takes to consume the less likely someone is to implement it.

People are tired, people are lazy. A great lead magnet delivers its value within 15 minutes of it being downloaded. 

Your primary goal for your MOFU campaign is to get people to opt-in for your Lead Magnet. There are two different ad objectives you could use for this level of your campaign: i) conversion objective or ii) the reach objective. 

As everyone in the MOFU audience has previously interacted with your content on paper the reach objective is the one that should work best. Whereas if you choose a conversion objective, Facebook® will only show your ad to the subset of people within the retargeting audience which they think will be likely to convert.

This is always something that I test in my campaigns and I’ve been surprised at times of which one wins out. So I’d advise you to test both approaches.  

Bottom Of Funnel (BOFU)

During the BOFU stage is where we ask for the sale. So far during TOFU & MOFU, we have delivered real value all of which without asking for anything other than an email opt-in.

From a sales perspective getting an opt-in is an important step as it invokes a psychological principle called consistency. Once people make a decision and take an action in a specific direction, they will feel compelled to behave consistently with what they have said or done previously. This is one of the reasons that gaining micro-commitments in advance of a big ask is so powerful.

On the BOFU level, your audiences are tight. We’re only working on retargeting people who’ve taken specific actions from higher levels in the funnel. 

That could be people who have registered for a lead magnet or people who have proceeded through a certain amount of steps in a launch or indicated some intent to purchase. And as a result, these will be threads with the lowest spend but the highest Return On Ad Spend (ROAS).

During the BOFU stage, we can make some assumptions about the people we are targeting. 

We can assume that these people already know us because they’ve already been through some communication process in the upper levels of the funnel. 

We can assume that they understand the problem we solve, that they’re familiar with the method we use to solve the problem, and that they’re vested in solving their problems. 

So based on that then we can then start honing in our messaging on how our offer is going to impact their lives. We can get right into the specifics about, how we’re going to help them achieve their goals, we can outline any risk reversal, and give them a deadline. 

We can use any of these triggers because we know with certainty that at this stage they are very much aware of the problem facing them, they have gotten a good sense of who we are, and they understand how we can help them achieve the ultimate transformation we know is possible for them.

4 Audiences To Begin Leveraging Today For Lower Cost Per Lead (CPL) & Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)

As I mentioned above most people fantasize about their ads generating sales and converting cold, interest-based audiences when the reality is that even the best Facebook® advertisers struggle with these audiences.

So what audiences should be looking to first to test and hone our offers?? 

Retargeting Website Visitors

Well, the first place we can look to is our website visitors. Notwithstanding the iOS 14 challenges, the pixel on your website is still a really valuable source of audience data.. 

The starting point is to ensure that the pixel is installed throughout your entire website. Within Facebook® Ad Manager I would have one audience tracking all website visitors, that’s anybody who visits any page on your website. 

Then I would break my audiences down between individual service and product pages and your blog or content pages. The significance of this is that if somebody has visited your blog content, they are slightly more qualified than somebody who’s just visited your home page or an individual landing page. 

Speaking of landing pages you also want to have custom audiences built for each individual landing page and their associated thank you pages. 

And remember from a retargeting perspective, until you have traffic at scale you can combine all of these audiences together initially but the longer you delay tracking them individually the longer it will take them to build to the critical mass required to become highly effective.

When launching Facebook® Ads for a Lead Magnet the first campaign that should be built is a retargeting campaign for website visitors, meaning that once someone visits your website they get retargeted with an ad on Facebook® driving them to your lead magnet. 

But not all retargeting audiences are equal. For each custom audience that you think is valuable, I would also include a time dimension. 

The people who are most likely to take the action you specify are the people who have visited your site within the last 3 days. Depending on the complexity of the ad campaign, I normally set up a one-day, a three-day, seven-day, and then out to 14, 21, 30, 60, 90, and 180-day audiences for relevant pages.

Often I will rarely target the 30, 60 & 90-day audiences but you never know when you might them so it is better to have them set up and running in advance.

Retargeting Facebook & Instagram Post Engagements

Another powerful audience is people who have engaged with your Facebook® and Instagram page and posts. 

Let’s say you produce weekly blog content. One approach is to take each blog and create a post on Facebook® giving some value and teasing what’s in store for the reader if they were to read the remainder of the blog.

From here we create an ad based on the post and put a small amount of cash behind it, anywhere between $25 to $50 per blog post. 

The ad objective will either be for blog page visits or engagement. With either objective, you are building your retargeting audience from the website and your engagement audience on Facebook & Instagram. 

In addition, your blog should be promoting an opt-in of some kind which means you might pick up additional subscribers. If you are doing this regularly you can build large pre-qualified audiences in advance of launching your MOFU Lead Magnet opt-in ads which will outperform cold interest-based audiences.

Leverage Your Existing Customer & Prospect Lists

And another one that sometimes people forget about, is your customer and prospect lists. Both people who have purchased from you in the past and opted into your list can be uploaded into Facebook® and a custom audience created.

For most people with sub hundred thousand lists, these audiences are not hugely powerful in their own right, but they do allow you to create Lookalike audiences which are a complete game-changer.

What does a Lookalike audience mean? Lookalike audiences are a way of leveraging existing audience data to provide Facebook® with a baseline to identify other people with similar traits and who are likely to act similarly in the Metaverse.

Despite the grumbling, iOS 14.5 has not impacted the ability of Facebook® to build Lookalike audiences. iOS has stopped Facebook® reporting on actions taken by people on 3rd party websites for the purposes of retargeting but Facebook still knows who the people that took specific actions are and therefore can still produce solid Lookalike audiences.

Practically, when creating lookalike audiences I will create multiple versions of the same audience. The measurement of a Lookalike audience is based on a percentage of the total population of a country or countries that you have selected. 

What you are doing when creating a lookalike audience is that you are asking Facebook to find the X% of the population of your target country(ies) which look most like your base audience.

Normally what I do is I would create 3 Lookalike audiences

  • 1%
  • 1% – 3%
  • 3% – 8%

I then run each of those lookalike audiences against each other in different ad sets to see which performs better. You might only test it for a week to see which audience comes out on top and then promote that as the primary audience.

So that wraps up this section on optimizing your Facebook® audiences for the lowest possible Cost Per Lead (CPL) & Cost Per Acquisition (CPA).

And, remember this is a process so you don’t have to get it all right on day one. It is a matter of continually refining and improving your audience building and optimization. The earlier you start the quicker you will see results so get stuck in and create your audience-building plan today.

Let me know what challenges you face with your Facebook ads, whether you’re just getting started or a seasoned pro looking to scale your ad campaigns.

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