15 Ways to Optimize Facebook Ads

By Rocco Alberto Baldassarre for

Are Facebook ads working for you? Are you looking to get a better return on your Facebook ad investment?

To get the best performance from ads, you need to make sure they reach the right audience.


In this article you’ll find 15 ways to set up and optimize your Facebook ads.


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#1: Keep Mobile and Desktop Ads Separate

Use separate ad sets for mobile and desktop so you can optimize your ads, bids and conversions based on device. Ads and calls to action are likely to perform differently on desktop versus mobile, and any ad setup should take that into account.


If you’re using Power Editor, you can select the device targeting directly from the Ad Set menu.

#2: Optimize Desktop News Feed and Right-Column Ads Separately

One of the best practices in marketing is to set up highly segmented ads. Separating desktop news feed and right-column ads is necessary for optimizing campaigns by device, placement and any other targeting option.

A desktop news feed ad (can have) a bigger image and a different overall structure than a right-column ad. This means that the same ad can perform much differently in the two placements.


If you want to maximize your performance, you need to optimize news feed and right-column ads separately.


Facebook allows you to customize your targeting for desktops in a submenu of the Placement menu at the Ad Set level.


#3: Test Different Images

Images are the most important element of your ads and the number-one factor when people decide whether to click a post. Test out different images and find the ones that maximize your click-through rate and conversions.


Once you identify the best images, find more of the same style and keep testing.

#4: Choose a Call to Action

Facebook allows you to select a call to action in your ads. Calls to action can have a significant impact on your click-through rate, as well as your conversion rate, and you should split test them thoroughly over time.


You can find the call to action options in the Ad Setup menu. Currently, the choices are Book Now, Download, Learn More, Shop Now and Sign Up.

#5: Segment Audiences Into Ad Sets

Different interests will perform differently within the same set of ads. As a general rule, you should group your target interests into topics and create one ad set per topic.


For instance, suppose that your target interests are:

  • AdWords

  • AdWords expert

  • Google Certification Program

  • Facebook ads

  • Facebook marketing

  • Facebook marketing solutions

  • Facebook marketing hour day

  • Online advertising

  • Digital marketing

  • Marketing online


You can identify three topics of interest and therefore three ad sets for your Facebook campaign.

This segmentation allows you to optimize based on different interests and create ads focused on topics related to the ad set you’re targeting.


#6: Install a Conversion Pixel

This is an obvious tip, but surprisingly many businesses neglect to install conversion pixels.


To create a conversion pixel, log into your ad manager and click on Conversion Tracking.

On the next page that appears, click the green Create Pixel button in the upper right part of the screen.

Follow the guided setup to finish creating your conversion pixel. Once you receive the code, make sure you install the code in the footer of your thank-you page.


Now you can better track the results of your marketing efforts on Facebook.


#7: Specify a Conversion Code

Facebook allows you to create multiple conversion codes because you may want to track several goals on your website—such as visiting the shopping cart page and the thank-you page. Or you may simply want to advertise for different domains.


Facebook needs to know what code your ad is supposed to use for conversion tracking purposes. Hence, you need to supply one for each ad in your ad sets.


In Power Editor (or the live account if you prefer that), click on Use a Conversion Tracking Pixel at the bottom of your ad setup.


Next, decide whether to use an existing code or create a new one. You can also choose from existing conversion tracking pixels or choose an existing pixel to optimize for conversions.


The latter option is useful if you have a conversion pixel installed and want Facebook to optimize ads based on that particular conversion pixel.


For example, say you installed conversion pixels on both the shopping cart page and the thank-you page. Naturally you would want to optimize ads so you get more visits to the thank-you page.


Unless you want to optimize by clicks, I recommend setting up both of these options: the first option (the one with the red arrow) to count your conversions, and the second option to optimize for one specific kind of conversion—such as completed checkouts.


#8: Target by Behaviors

Many businesses use Facebook ads to target interests exclusively. However, keep in mind that targeting behaviors pays off more often than not.


Examples of behaviors you can target on Facebook are Training and Publications (people who buy items relating to business training and publications), Console Gamers and Primary Browser: Internet Explorer (people who primarily connect to Facebook using Internet Explorer).


To target behaviors, you need to select them in the ad set menu either in the live account or in Power Editor.

Create separate ad sets for each behavior topic similarly to what you saw earlier for interests.

#9: Target by Income

Some businesses sell products that are more expensive than their competitors’ or simply target the richest portion of the population. Facebook can be a gold mine for these businesses because you can target people based on their annual income.


To target by income, you need to go into the live account or Power Editor and enter the settings of your ad set. Click on More Demographics and then click on Income to select your desired income target, as shown below.

As you can see in the screenshot on the left, there are many other targeting options you can use. Test the ones that make sense for your business and remember to keep your ad set structure as segmented as possible.


#10: Set Up a Remarketing Pixel

Potential customers who visited your website via any traffic source (including Google AdWords) but did not convert are most likely comparing prices and providers. By the time they’re done, they may have forgotten your business altogether.


This is where remarketing on Facebook comes in. And yes, this is one of the best ways to reach out to traffic that originally came via Google AdWords.


To set up a remarketing pixel, log into your advertising manager and click on Audiences.

Next, click on Create Audience, and then click Custom Audience and Website Trafficin the top-right corner of your screen to start a step-by-step process to create the remarketing pixel.


Once you install the code in the footer of the website, go back to the Website Traffic drop-down menu and select People Who Visit Specific Web Pages.

You can then create lists of people visiting a specific page of your website and target or exclude them from your campaign. A useful best practice is to create a list of people visiting your thank-you page and then not advertise to them since they already converted.


#11: Identify Profitable Age Groups and Genders

Not all age groups and genders perform the same. You may discover that you’re wasting your money on unprofitable age categories or that you’re missing opportunities by not dedicating enough budget to a gender that is generating the majority of sales for a given target method.


The best way to analyze age group and gender performance is to log into your ad manager and click on Reports.

On the report page, set up the date range you want to analyze. Then click on Customize Columns to decide what values to report on. Under Breakdown, select Age, Gender or Age and Gender, as shown below.

You can make relevant strategic decisions based on the insights you collect in this report. Check it out on your account now.

#12: Test Lookalike Audiences

A lookalike audience is a list of users whose characteristics are similar to users of a website custom audience. This opens up a lot of opportunities, such as advertising to users similar to those who already visited your website, advertising to users similar to those who visited a specific page or advertising to users similar to the ones who already converted on your site.


To create a lookalike audience, log into your advertising manager and click Audiences. Once you enter your Audiences page, click on Create Audience and select Lookalike Audience from the drop-down menu.

Next, select the source audience of your lookalike audience and the target country. Then pick an audience size—the smaller the size you select, the more targeted it will be.

#13: Target an Email List

Facebook allows you to create a custom advertising audience based on email lists. All you have to do is to create a .csv or .txt file that includes one email per row and excludes any other data.


Once you have that file, click Audiences, then click Create Audience and select Custom Audience from the drop-down menu.


Next, click on Customer List, as shown below. From here, it’s easy to upload your list.

Keep in mind that you can also upload a list of phone numbers and then target those people in Facebook ads. The process is basically the same as the one I just described. Also, you have the option to create a lookalike audience of your newly created customer list.

#14: Test Bidding Strategies

Bidding strategies significantly influence the success of Facebook ads.


The three main categories for bidding are cost per click, cost per thousand impressions and conversion optimizer (which requires the installation of a conversion code).


Test different bidding methods to find out what reduces the cost per conversion but still gets enough volume. I recommend starting with CPC and conversion optimizer.


You can set up your bidding method at the Ad Set level in the Optimization and Pricing section.

Whenever you bid per click or use the conversion optimizer, you can decide your maximum cost per click or target cost per acquisition, or let Facebook pick a value for you.

#15: Schedule Ads

Facebook allows you to segment your ads by days and hours. This option is available only with a lifetime budget and not with the daily budget option. This prerequisite is the reason why most businesses still don’t use this feature.


Lifetime budget refers to the total budget of an ad set and technically does not have a daily limit. If the campaign doesn’t have a reliable performance pattern that has been proven successful over time, this is not the right setting for you.


If you decide to use day and hour parting, you can set it up in the Budget and Schedule section of the ad set.


Facebook ads can be highly profitable and drive a significant amount of quality traffic if they’re set up correctly—meaning they’re as targeted as possible—and monitored closely. Being familiar with all of the Facebook advertising possibilities opens the door to new opportunities for your business.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR, Rocco Alberto Baldassarre

Founder and CEO of Zebra Advertisement, a SEM consulting firm. Rocco consults companies that spend up to US$5M in ad spend per day and speaks 3 languages.