The Starter Guide to Facebook Advertising

Facebook is the world’s largest social media network, with 2.45 billion users. If you are looking to reach your target audience, Facebook is still the best social media platform to advertise on to reach them.

Chapter One

How to Choose your Facebook Goals and Strategy

It’s easy to jump on Facebook and start running some ads, but without first deciding upon what you are using Facebook for, and what results you are hoping to achieve for your business, you can easily end up wasting time and money.

What are your current marketing goals?  You may need to refer to the trusty marketing funnel.

The marketing funnel maps the journey of your potential prospects as they become Aware your business and its services, then Consider doing business with you, then make a Decision, and then decide if they will be Loyal.


Do you need to create awareness of your business?  How many potential prospects actually know about you?  If you need to create awareness, and many potential prospect don’t know you exist, then you will need to run Awareness Campaigns.

Most businesses start with at least 1 Awareness Campaign, running in the background, constantly reminding your target audience that you are around.

E.g. You could set a goal of achieve 100 new likes to your Facebook Page this quarter, and run a campaign to try and achieve this.


Perhaps you have a big active email list that already know about you.  Or perhaps you would like to move the prospects who are aware of you further along, so that they consider doing business with you.

If you have a substantial number of Likes on your Facebook page, Consideration Campaigns can produce excellent results.

E.g. You could set a goal of getting 200 of your Facebook Likes onto your Email List this quarter, or you could aim to get 150 of your Facebook Likes to sign up for your next webinar.


If you already have a large number of Likes, good website traffic, or a sizeable engaged email list, then you should be running Decision Campaigns.

These will target those who already know about you and are considering you.  It is normally difficult, depending on your buyer journey timeframe and the pricepoint of your services, to get effective results from a “cold” or new audience running these campaigns.

E.g. You could set a goal of obtaining 5 demo bookings, or 5 booked in consultations.  Then these campaigns could be created using your website Facebook pixel, or targeting existing Likes.


Sometimes the most affordable and easiest campaigns to get results from are targeted to your existing customers.  You could be looking at re-engaging old customers, up-selling to current customers, or maintaining existing customers.

These campaigns are best targeting your existing customer list.

E.g. You could set a  goal to re-engage 10 x previous customers by the end of the quarter.  If you are a SaaS business, you could aim to get Freemium subscribers up a notch onto a paid plan.

Chapter 2

Understand your Target Market on Facebook

If you want to keep your cost-per-click, cost-per-impression and total advertising costs as low as possible, then you need to first decide exactly who you will be targeting with your Facebook Campaigns.

A good thing about Facebook Advertising, is that once you have established your ideal audience, you can save them for future campaigns.

Demographics and Interests

If you have already created Buyer Personas, you can use these to fill out this section.  For audience targeting in this section, you can choose from options such as location, age, gender, and language:

Location – you can filter down as low as Suburb of a city, and up as high as a Country, yet you will need a minimum number of people in your location/s for the ad to actually run.

Age – you can target a specific age, or an age range.  Again there will need to be a certain number of people for your ad to run.

Gender – just Men, Women and Both available.  Sadly, no inclusive options currently available.

Language – if your audience speaks a particular language, you can target them here.

Connections – Facebook Pages, Apps and Events with multiple connections options can be targeted here.

Other – once the core demographics are set up, you can also filter and/ or exclude people based on things like Interests, Job Title and Relationship Status.

Custom and Lookalike Audiences

These are great for running re-targeting campaigns, as custom audiences let you advertise to people who have had some interaction with your business on Facebook, visited your website, or engaged with your email marketing.

Lookalike Audiences tend to get excellent results, as this audience compiles other new prospects based on the data of your existing prospects or customers.  Definitely worth trying if you are an established business with an established database.

Chapter 3

How to Set Up a Facebook Ad

When you are running an ad on Facebook, there is a clear structure to help you organise your advertising.  This structure is made up of 3 hierarchy layers:

  1. Campaigns
  2. Ad Sets
  3. Ads

Layer 1 - Campaigns

Campaigns exist to reflect a concrete business goal.  They are the “buckets” into which you place your Ad Sets and Ads:


  • Brand Awareness – Increase awareness of your business, brand or service
  • Reach – Show your ad to as many people as possible in your target audience


  • Traffic – drive people from Facebook to any URL you choose, such as your business website, a landing page, a blog post, etc
  • Engagement – Reach people more likely to like, comment and share your post
  • App Installs – Send people to the shop where they can download your app
  • Video Views – Share videos with people on Facebook most likely to watch it
  • Lead Generation – Collect leads from people interested in your product or service. You can also use this to collect sign-ups for your newsletter
  • Messages – Connect with people on Facebook, encourage interest with potential or existing customers

Conversion (Decision)

  • Conversions – Encourage people to take a specific action on your business’s site, such as having them to add items to a cart, download your app, register for your site, or make a purchase
  • Catalog Sales – show products from your e-commerce store’s catalogue to generate sales
  • Store Traffic – promote your physical business location to people that are nearby

Layer 2 - Ad Sets

Once you know the goal of your campaign you are ready to execute your strategy. This is where you choose your delivery preferences and set the logistics of your campaign. You can define your audience, choose placements and establish a schedule and budget:          

  • Target audience
  • Placements
  • Budget
  • Schedule

Layer 3 - Ads

Within your Ad Set, you create individual ads.  This is where you develop the creative that you will use to attract and engage your ideal audience.

Within the ad you will have images or photos, video, ad copy, and CTAs (calls to action).  You can use existing posts that you have shared on your business page, or you can create new ads from scratch, depending on your overall goal.

Now that you understand the three areas of running a Facebook Ad, you can get started with your campaign:

Create a Campaign

Once you know your goal and your target audience, you can go ahead and create a campaign in Facebook.

Step 1 - Go to your Business Manager Ad Account

Click on the green “Create” button.

Step 2 - Choose your Marketing Objective

For this example, we will select “Engagement” under “Consideration”.

Step 3 - Engagement Campaign

For this example, I have selected “Engagement” as the Campaign type to run.  Engagement is good for Awareness Campaign, or a Consideration Campaign, or even a Loyalty Campaign.

If this type of campaign could be something you run regularly, you can create a name template.  You can also create a Split Test here, and turn on Campaign Budget Optimisation.

Step 4 - Campaign Budget Optimisation

I have found Campaign Budget Optimisation quite useful in the past, as it is an algorithms that quickly moves your spend around to the best performing ad at the time.

You can also set a Campaign Spending Limit in this section, if there is a maximum spend you want on this Campaign.

Step 5 – Ad Set Name and Audience

This is where you can name your Ad Set, if you are looking for advice on Facebook Advertising Naming Conventions, you can see the post here.

You will also set your Audience here, so please refer to the previous section: Understand your Target Market on Facebook.

Step 6 – Placements and Optimisation

I would leave this setting as Automatic placements, unless you are running a very specific campaign that you would like to show in a very specific placement.

The budget Optimisation and targets may have already been set, and they will show here.

Step 7 – Ad Name, Identity and Creative

This is where you can name your Ad, if you are looking for advice on Facebook Advertising Naming Conventions, you can see the post here.

The Identity, just means choosing the Facebook Page and Instagram Channel you want to link to the Ad.

When it comes to the Creative, you can create an entire Ad from scratch, or you can choose an existing piece of content that you have posted on the business page.

Step 8 – Tracking

This is where I highly recommend installing a Facebook Pixel in your website if you are looking at optimizing campaigns.  App Events are only relevant if you have an App, and Offline Events are only really suited for businesses that have physical shops and locations that receive foot traffic.

I’m not sure how familiar you are with UTM Parameters, but these are excellent for tracking Campaigns as well.  You can set them up here.

Step 9 – Review

This gives you a chance to see a snapshot of the Campaign you have put together, just to give it one last look-over before submitting.

Campaign Hacks

Bulk Importing

You also have the option here of “Importing” Campaigns straight into Facebook, instead of going through the process of setting each one up or duplicating campaigns and ads. 

I would only recommend importing via the Ads Manager Excel Template if you are intermediate to advanced in Facebook Ads and have gone through the process of setting up some ads manually.

Creating Rules

There is a handy feature where you can create a rule that makes changes to your campaign, ad set or ad automatically or sends an alert when your campaign, ad set or ad meets the rule’s conditions. Your rule runs continuously, usually every 30 minutes, until you turn it off.

This is handy because you decide that you are not willing to pay more than $10.00 per result.  You can set up a rule that states when a campaign, ad set or ad costs more than $10.00 per result, then it switches off.

Chapter 4

Facebook Ad Types and Options

Different ad formats are possible depending on your Facebook Ad objective.  For certain industries, some ad formats work better than others. 

The only way to know for sure what works for you….. is to split-test!

Image Advertising

When it comes to using images, there are a few key things to remember:

  • Stick to jpg or png file formats
  • Upload your highest-resolution image available. Aim for 1,200px x 1,200px
  • Keep any text to maximum 20% of image

This image is a great example from Facebook for best practice image ratios:

  • Feed placements: Square 1:1 for images and vertical 4:5 for videos.
  • Stories placements: Most people hold their phones vertically so we recommend full-screen vertical 9:16 to capture the whole screen.
Video Advertising

Using videos on Facebook and Instagram is currently one of the best formats that has the chance to achieve maximum ROI on your ad spend.  Video is very engaging and done correctly, can easily grab attention.

Facebook Video Advertising:

  • Stick with GIF, MP4 or MOV
  • Upload to highest resolution possible (up to 4GB)
  • Use widescreen format (16:9)
  • Video length can be up to 240 minutes
  • Keep any text on the thumbnail image to maximum 20% of image
  • Get Captions on your video
  • Accompanying text: 125 characters

Instagram Video Advertising:

  • Stick with GIF, MP4 or MOV
  • Upload to highest resolution possible (up to 4GB)Use square format (1:1)Video length can be up to 2 minutes
  • Keep any text on the thumbnail image to maximum 20% of image
  • Get Captions on your video
  • Accompanying text: 2 rows of text displayed

      Video carousel format: 

      Square 1:1 and consistent ratios for all videos

      In-stream video:

      Full-screen horizontal 16:9 to fit the videos the ads are in

      Audience Network placements: 

      Full-screen vertical 9:16, except for Audience Network in-stream videos for which we recommend full-screen horizontal 16:9

      Carousel Ads

      Facebook and Instagram

      You can showcase up to 10 images or videos within a single ad, each with its own link. With more creative space within an ad, you can highlight different products, showcase specific details about one product, service or promotion, or tell a brand story that develops across each carousel card.

      • Number of cards: 2 – 10
      • Image file type: jpg or png
      • Video maximum file size: 4 GB
      • Video length: up to 240 minutes
      • Image maximum file size: 30 MB
      • Recommended resolution: at least 1080 x 1080 px
      • Recommended ratio: 1:1
      • Text: 125 characters
      • Headline: 25 characters
      • Link description: 20 characters
      • Keep any text to maximum 20% of image or thumbnail
      Slideshow Ads

      Slideshows use images or videos, text and sound.

      You can include 3 to 10 images or one video in a slideshow ad.  In terms of the specifications, you can just use the image and video guidelines when you create your slideshow.

      Slideshows are handy because they use less data than video ads, so they work well if you are potentially targeting an audience that lives in an area with a slower internet connection.

      Slideshows work well when simplifying a complex process or story. You can guide your target audience through sequences and steps, using images to show rather than tell.

      For example, for a SaaS product you can create a mini-demo or introduction to the software using a slideshow, or if you are offering a service you can highlight each of the benefits of the service.

      Instant Experience

      Instant Experience is an expanded advertisement that opens full-screen after someone clicks your ad on a mobile.  It loads instantly, and can be used leveraging a single image, video, carousel, slideshow and collection.

      This is a great way to tell a story about your brand. You can create a custom Instant Experience or choose from multiple templates. You can also mark clear paths through your experience with descriptive text, buttons and links. You can even embed Facebook and third-party pixels.

      Within Facebook’s instant experience, people can watch videos, swipe through photos in a carousel, fill in forms and explore images with tagged products. You can also link two or more Instant Experiences, so your audience discovers more content.

      FB Instant Experiences Example
      FB Collection Ad Egs
      Collection Ads

      The collection format includes an Instant Experience and makes it easier for people to discover, browse and purchase products and services from their mobile phone.

      Your ad in feed will feature four products under a hero image or video that opens into a full-screen Instant Experience when someone interacts with your ad.

      You can use the collection format to drive product discovery on mobile and deliver a seamless browsing experience. People who tap on your ad can browse more products or learn more about your product in a full-screen experience, without leaving Facebook.

      Ultimately, the goal is to drive prospects straight to a purchase through your website or app.

      Chapter 5

      How much does Facebook Advertising Cost?

      If you’ve heard the horror stories, then they are true.  If you are not paying attention or doing it correctly, your Facebook advertising budget can blow out, with little to show for it.

      Ultimately, results for Facebook marketing spend can vary enormously, but it helps to have some industry benchmarks at least.

      But before I cover that, you need to understand that Facebook’s Ad Network is like an auction, and by running a campaign you are competing and bidding against your competitors.  This can mean that depending on your target market, you could have a few competitors, or many competitors driving up the impression and cost-per-click (CPC) overall costs.

      You can also be impacted by things like the time that you run your campaign, where you may choose to bid, which ad placement you go for, and what your “relevance ranking” is.

      Facebook Cost Type

      You will encounter various Facebook cost types when you are running campaigns.  As annoying as these acronyms are, it is really useful to get to know them.



      Ideal For

      CPC – Cost per Click

      For every click an ad receives

      Sending users to a landing page, post or website

      CPM – Cost per Mille

      When an ad receives 1,000 impressions or loads

      Increasing brand awareness

      CPV – Cost per View

      For every view a video ad receives

      Video advertising

      CPA – Cost per Action

      When a user takes action, such as installs an app or registers for an event

      App installs, Event registrations

      CPL – Cost per Like

      When someone “Likes” an ad

      Promoting a Facebook business page

      Industry Averages

      As I mentioned, the data can vary a lot by industry. It can also vary within an industry, so just view industry comparable data loosely.  It can also vary depending on location.

      These are some good 2019 insights from US campaigns provided by WordStream.

      At time of writing (early 2020), the US$ to AUD$ rate is 1.50.


      Click Through Rate

      Cost Per Click

      Conversion Rate

      Cost Per Action

      Beauty & Fitness





      Business & Industrial










      Food & Drink





      Hobbies & Leisure





      Home & Garden





      Internet & Telecom





      Jobs & Education










      People & Society





      Pets & Animals





      Real Estate










      So what does all this data mean?

      It means that some industries attract more clicks and convert more easily on Facebook than others, but at the end of the day, the only way you know what it will cost you, is to try some campaigns.

      Yes, but what should I spend on running Facebook Ads?

      You should start small.  A couple hundred dollars initially should give you an indication of what kind of CTR, CPC, CVR and CPA your business can expect.

      Once you see what is performing, and converting well, you can ramp up the spend.

      There is no set-and-forget though. 

      Facebook Ads need to be watched carefully.  Do keep in mind, that it does take 72 hours (3 days) for Facebook’s algorithm to refine its delivery to your requested audience, so run your first test for 3 days, and then look at split-testing.

      Ultimately, the highest quality your ad is, and the more you engage the right audience with the ad, the better your campaigns will perform.  And they will be more affordable.

      For more data on Facebook Ad Costs, please check out Adspresso by Hootsuite as well.

      Chapter 6

      Reporting using Facebook Insights and Ad Centre

      Facebook provides their businesses with a sophisticated set of analytics so that you can see how your page and campaigns are performing.

      There is an enormous range of metrics you can view, so you need to just make sure you are paying attention to the key metrics that show if you are moving towards your goal or goals.

      There are two places you can view metrics.  The first is Facebook Insights, which gives you data about your Facebook Business Page.  The second is the Ad Centre, which gives you data about any paid campaigns you are running.

      Facebook Insights

      Facebook Insights

      Goal: Brand Awareness – Top of Funnel

      If you are running a steady daily brand awareness campaign, or multiple brand awareness campaigns, you should be looking at these kind of insights to give you an indication of whether people are becoming aware of your brand, and your services.

      • Likes – yes, boring but true. The first indicator that your brand awareness Facebook campaigns are getting any traction is the growing number of page “Likes” and “Followers”.
      • Reach – Split between organic and paid, this metric also gives you an indication if your campaign is getting in front of more people. The more likes, comments, and shares a post gets, the more it shows up in people’s News Feeds.
      • Page Views – if someone sees your campaign ad, and then visits your page, this is a good sign. Some of the data here can offer some good insights.
      • People – this data is gold. Hopefully the demographics you see here matches your Buyer Personas.  If not, you may need to change tactic. Insights into the gender of your Likes and Followers, as well as age, city and language can give you real guidance on who and where to target.
      Goal: Consideration – Middle of Funnel

      If you are running middle of funnel, consideration campaigns so that you likes and followers get to know you better, then you will be looking for some key insights to see if these are working:

      • Posts – by looking at the post data, you will be looking for signs of engagement, such as reactions, comments and shares. If someone is taking the time to engage with your content or campaign, this is a good sign.
      • Events – if your business is running online or real-world events to nurture your target market, then you should be promoting them on your Facebook business page. Once you do, this section of insights will show you how the audience is responding to your events.
      • Messages – if someone is considering using your business’s products or services, then there is a good chance they may message you and ask you a question directly on your Facebook page. Any messages received will allow you to view the insights in this section.
      Goal: Decision – Bottom of Funnel

      If you have good brand awareness, and a reasonable amounts of Likes and Followers engaging with your page, content and campaigns, then you are in the best position to run Decision or Bottom of Funnel campaigns.

      Indicators of the success of these campaigns will come from multiple sources, like Google Analytics, your Website Data and your CRM or customer database.

      In Facebook Insights you will want to look at:

      • Actions on Page – this can also be used for Consideration campaigns. You will see how many people are looking for directions to your business, clicking through to your business website, clicking your business phone number and clicking on any call-to-action buttons you are using. You can also see some excellent demographic data here, to show you if it’s your established Buyer Personas who are taking the actions.
      • Orders – if prospects can place orders directly through your Facebook page, you will see this data here, and it will enable you to track conversions.

      Facebook Ad Centre

      If you are running paid ads, then you will want to become closely acquainted with the data coming from Facebook’s Ad Centre.  This can be viewed either from your Business Page or through your Business Manager.

      Key Metrics to Understand

      Click Through Rate (CTR)

      Your click-through-rate is the percentage of clicks divided by the number of impressions.
      For example, if 1,000 people see your ad, and 20 click through, the click through rate would be .02 (or 2%).

      Conversion Rate (CVR)

      Your conversion rate is the percentage of visitors who take a desired action.
      For example, if 1,000 click through to your website, and 100 people fill in an enquiry form, or subscribe to your newsletter, your conversion rate is 10%.

      Advertising summary

      This summary gives you a quick snapshot of how all your campaigns are performing, usually over the past 60 days.  This can quickly be changed to 7, 30 or 90 days as well.  This data will show you:

      • People reached
      • Post engagements
      • Link clicks
      FB Ad Centre - Advertising Summary

      Effectively, these metrics give you insights to Awareness and Consideration campaigns you are running.  You can also view a summary of all the ads you are running, as well as a snapshot of all the Audiences you are targeting.

      All this summary data is handy if you just need quick insights, and to get a feel for the overall health of your campaigns.  If you want to really understand how your campaigns are performing, you will need to go deeper…..into your Ads Manager.

      Facebook Ads Manager

      Account Overview

      This is the main page in your Ads Manager that gives you quick insights, and also lets you create your own insights.

      Account Overview: Insights - Learning Phase

      Welcome to the world of AI. 

      As a way of offering advertisers insights into the effectiveness of their campaigns, Facebook as an algorithm that they call the “learning phase”.

      Once you are running campaigns, you will see your entire budget that you have spent, and a portion of that budget will be tagged as part of the “learning phase”.  This phase is part of your campaigns, where Facebook is effectively “learning” about your audience, and how to optimise the ads for them.

      If you have a higher amount spent on ads in the learning phase, this means that more budget was spent before the delivery system optimised the performance of your ads. If you want to spend your budget effectively across your account, you will want to avoid behaviours that prevent ads from exiting the learning phase. More on this later.

      Under your Learning Phase you will see data including:

      • Reach – the number of people who saw your ads at least once
      • Amount Spent – estimated total amount of money you’ve spent on your campaign, ad set or ad during its schedule
      • Impressions – The number of times that your ads were on-screen
      • Link Clicks – The number of clicks on links within the ad that led to destinations or experiences on or off Facebook

      This summary data is handy for Awareness and Consideration campaigns.

      For more on the Learning Phase, please check out Facebook for Business – Guide to the Learning Phase.

      The next set of data talks directly to your Objectives.

      Account Overview: Objective
      FB Ads Manager - Ad Objective

      When you select the option at the very start of your campaign – what’s your marketing objective? – this data is then collated here.

      If you initial strategy is to spend 50% of your budget on Brand Awareness, 10% on Engagement, 10% on Traffic and 30% on Lead Generation, then you will see the spend displayed here and you will know if you are on track to achieve your strategy.

      Account Overview: Demographics and Behaviour

      In this next section, you will see if the demographics of those who engage with your ads match your Buyer Personas.  If done from the outset, it should match.

      You can view Age and Gender (fortunately for those targeting inclusive genders you now have Uncategorised option), as well as Location.

      You can also see the data of when your ads are viewed.  This can be very helpful data especially if you are looking at running online events at a certain time, or sending our your email marketing at a certain time.

      FBAds Manager - Demographics
      Account Overview: Columns, Breakdowns, Reports

      Underneath your geo-location data, is the best section of all.  This is where you can truly flesh out your data and reporting to give you the insights to plan, and make decisions about your campaign performance and the future of your campaigns.

      You can effectively toggle various data points to help you understand how you are really performing.


      By default, you can view columns of data related to your Ad account, including Set Up, Delivery, Engagement, Video Engagement, App Engagement and Carousel Engagement. 

      These are a good place to start, especially if you are curious how your campaigns are performing in regards to the Consideration or Middle of Funnel stage of the journey.

      You also have the option to customise these columns, based on other metrics you need. 

      This means you could create an Awareness version, as well as a Consideration version, for example.


      I love this toggle option.  This is where you can truly pull apart your data. You can break down the data in your columns by Time, Delivery or by Action.

      With Time, for example, you can see how all your campaigns are performing week-on-week.  This would give you an idea of whether you campaign results are improving over time.

      With Delivery, for example, you can filter by Placement.  If certain Placements, such as Instant Article, is proving very effective and the lowest cost-per-click, then you could ramp up more campaigns directed at this placement.

      With Action, for example, you can filter by Conversion Device.  If a Leads are generated, this data will help you understand which devices that submit more Leads.  Understanding the device your target personas use is helpful in learning more about your ideal customer.


      Under Reports, you have about 25 standard, pre-made reports that you can use. 

      You can also share a link to the report or export this data to .xls or .csv if you need to create an external report to share with your Manager or Team.

      You can also create a Custom Report.  Again, this is an excellent option if you want key or specific data to demonstrate the effectiveness of your campaigns.

      Creatives Page

      The Creatives page of your Ads Manager allows you to see how your ads perform by creative unit, which is defined as the combination of headline, text, call to action, and image or video.

      You can see the delivery status and key metrics for each of your creative units, such as results, reach, impressions, cost per results and amount spent. These metrics will automatically show when you open creative reporting. You can also export and share your results.

      For example, you may use creative reporting to view image-based campaigns side-by-side to see which creative has the Highest CTR (link click through rate).  You can use this data to study these campaigns, and guide your decision around future campaigns.

      Table of Campaigns Page

      To start viewing the data of all your Facebook campaigns, this section offers the opportunity to view everything you are running by Campaign, Ad Set and Ad.

      Similar to the Account Overview page, you can filter by “Columns” or “Breakdown” of data.

      I would use this page to create the data to make future decisions about campaigns, or show the results of my campaign goal, and usually export for further analysis or compilation.

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