Over the last few weeks, we’ve been asking what makes a good Facebook ad. In our first article for this series we looked at the anatomy of great Facebook ads and how important their visual elements are. And, for our second post, we looked at how to get your Facebook ads in front of the right people.

This time, we’re focusing on what happens once people actually see your ad. After all, getting your ad in front of faces is only half of the battle; now you want them to take action in some kind of way – and this is another challenge altogether.

The three key elements to Facebook success

Just as there are three parts to this mini-series, there are three key elements to any successful Facebook ad. These are:

  • Reaching the right audience
  • Capturing their attention
  • Inspiring action

We talked about reaching the right audience in part two but capturing attention and capturing attention in part one. So today we’re focusing on the last of these key elements – inspiring people to take action once they’ve seen your ad.

What action are you looking to inspire?

Before you can craft a compelling message you need to know what action you’re looking to inspire. In other words, you need to know what your goal is for each ad and what user action(s) represent achieving that goal.

Most Facebook advertising goals come under one of four categories:

  1. Lead generation
  2. Brand awareness
  3. Engagement
  4. Conversions

So, for example, driving traffic to your site would come under lead generation and the action you’re after is users clicking through to your site. Whereas expanding your reach comes under brand awareness, meaning likes, shares, comments and other actions will be the target.

There’s a good thread on Facebook’s Advertiser Help Center that goes into more detail about goals and ad formats – so be sure to check that out. But the key point is you need a good idea of the action you want users to take before you choose your ad format and craft your message. Because inspiring people to click an ad and share one takes two very different kind of approaches.

Facebook ads that generate leads

Perhaps the most important goal for any advertiser is generating leads, because this is where the money’s at. And although Facebook was once considered more of a branding tool than a platform for generating leads with real buying intent, things have changed.

Get your ad message right and Facebook is as good as any platform for bringing potential customers to your site.

This ad from Slack gets its message spot on by not only focusing on the problem its services solve but also the feeling its customers enjoy by signing up. With two lines of text and a striking image, this ad says so much to people and they only need to see it for a split second to get the message. Also, notice how minimal the headline and ad copy is, because the main image does all the talking.

Facebook ads that increase brand awareness

Marketers always talk about storytelling being centric to building brand awareness but not all stories are captivating. Always shows how effectively a corporate brand can show its human side in this ad that aims to change the meaning of one common, stereotypical saying.

Aside form the concept and story behind this ad being compelling, it’s also perfectly crafted for the company’s target audience. It almost feels like a video you would expect to see from a charity campaign with a cause people want to get behind – and the first thing they’ll do is hit the share button.

Facebook ads for engagement

Ad engagement is important for a number of reasons. First, they show your ads/content are important to a lot of people, providing social proof for everyone else who sees your ads. There’s more, though, because people who engage with your ads are more likely to visit your company page and click the like button, meaning you can target them in the future with dedicated ads.

Simply being a major brand is enough for some ads to become an engagement hit but we can’t all be Nike or Airbnb in this world. For the rest of us, running competitions can be a more proactive approach and Boohoo got thousands of interactions by showing a live video of melting ice for more than two hours.

That’s pretty impressive considering the company only offered £500 worth of vouchers in return. Chuck in £1,000 worth of vouchers and you’ll probably be able to get these people to sit there and watch paint dry for a few hours.

Facebook ads for conversions

Facebook wasn’t always the most obvious place to advertise when conversions are your goal but the network has certainly changed that. Call to action buttons are now a fundamental part of Facebook ads and all that leaves is the right kind of message to get people converting.

Amazon’s ad for Audible makes a pretty compelling case for people to sign up to the service by offering a free audiobook to people who click the ad. Of course, this can be targeted to users who have previously liked Stephen King or similar writers, genres, etc. And you could create several ads for some of the most exciting releases and place higher bids on ads targeting people who have already shown an interest in such works.

Hulu takes a different approach (and ad format) to driving conversions via Facebook. People like options when it comes to choosing what they watch and this carousel ad allows users to scroll through some of the most popular shows on the service – just like they would when using the application itself.

Carousel ads have also done great things for retailers who want to promote multiple products to users from within the same ad. Consider it the advertising equivalent of window shopping with the flick of a finger.

Thinking beyond the first user action

Once your ad gets the desired reaction from a user, you can count that as a success – but there’s still more work to be done. If your goal was to drive traffic to your site then you still need to cement that user as a lead – via email signups, account registration, remarketing lists, etc. So, in this case, your landing pages, sales funnels and a user experience that encourages conversions on your site are as important as ever.

It doesn’t end at the first interaction with users; in fact, this may only be the beginning. There are various ways you can use mini-interactions to keep people involved with your brand, long after the first ad:

  • Retargeting: Target people who didn’t convert on your site with targeted messages after they leave.
  • Email lists: Get people to sign up, register, subscribe, download or hand over their email address on your site so you can target them with custom audience lists on Facebook.
  • Existing customers: Turn existing customers into repeat buyers with custom audiences.
  • Target engagement: Target people who liked your page during engagement and brand awareness campaigns.

If your ad messages inspire the right users (ie: people with a genuine interest in your products/services), seemingly modest advertising goals such as click-throughs and page likes turn into valuable targeting options. Once you’ve got these people moving along your sales funnel and you’re able to track their interactions, you can guide them along the buying process with targeted ads that inspire actions with more intent, one step at a time.