Facebook ads for noobs by@mlovekovsky

Facebook ads for noobs

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Mikhail Levkovsky HackerNoon profile picture

Mikhail Levkovsky

While running my startup (Spoil) the awesome (read as challenging) task of acquiring traffic was something that I decided to tackle. Like almost everybody I jumped right into Facebook ads. The basics of running Facebook ads are simple enough, but the one thing I was lacking were some “best practice” tips. Thanks to the awesome Jeffrey Talajic, a bit of research and a lot of trial and error, I put together a few basic rules of thumb to follow that helped me get started (and run some very positive ROI campaigns) with Facebook ads. Hope they help you as well 🙂

Oh and before you start, do yourself a favor and learn to use the Power Editor, it will save you a ton of time over the ads manager.

Audience Sizes

While Facebook gives you a cute little graph about your audience size, it’s pretty hard to gage the “sweet spot”. Is an audience of 2 million really better defined than an audience of 30 million?


180 000 000 is too broad? You don’t say

I found audience sizes between 200 000 and and 2 million worked best for me. This later allowed me to drill deeper and segment them even more.

Always Be Learning

You can start learning about 24 hours in or if you spend around $100. Wait until you reach 200–300 impressions to start making conclusions.

Ad shelf life is anywhere between 3–14 days and they need to be constantly changing (this is something that makes Facebook ads extremely time consuming, especially if you don’t have a solid roadmap). Free piece of advice, photography and imagery WILL be your biggest blocker.

Writing Copy

When writing your copy, don’t be cutesy and brandy. Just make sure you get across what you do.

AdEspresso has an awesome article about Facebook ads. Here are a few things that I pulled from it.

Headlines should be around 5 words long.Post text and link descriptions can be a little longer. Ad post text should be around 14 words, while link descriptions are about 18 words.


Anatomy of an ad

Catch people’s attention with some popular words in your text:

  • You (we love to see the word “You” in ads)
  • Free (we love free stuff)
  • Because (we want answers to our questions. We are curious by nature.)
  • Instantly/Now (offer something to the person Now! Give an offer instantly.)
  • New (we are novelty seekers)


Free?! Fast?! Italian craftmanship?!?! Holy moly, this ad is awesome!

Go Super Positive, use words like:

  • breathtaking
  • valiant
  • super yummy
  • great


Awesome Kickstarter ad. Clear messaging, with very strong wording.

Your ad copy should advertise something specific as opposed to your whole site or whole service. Don’t tell users that “you have nice clothes on your website” let them know they can buy a pair of killer socks!!!

Keep the Wording Simple and Focused

When you have an ad, don’t use super long taglines that confuse the users. Users don’t read. You must stand out right away.

Think of 3 words that describe your offer and lead with it!

The key: The less the ads sound like ads the better.

So your copy shouldn’t sound like you’re selling a mattress at your local sleepworld. Be real. Be authentic.

Pick one major benefit and put it front and centre. And then repeat it elsewhere in your ad. And then put that same benefit, with your other benefits, on your landing pages (creating squeeze pages is key, but that’s another story). People are lazy and do not read, and advertising is all about repetition. Don’t be shy to tell them the same thing 10 times.

Click Through Rates Matter

  • 2%+ = ask your CEO for more budget, you’re killing it 🚀
  • 1–2% = pretty good, you can run some very ROI positive campaigns in this range.
  • < 1% = kill the ads, something is wrong.

In general, CTR is the canary in the coal mine, your very top of the funnel indicator that tells you how are your ads are performing.

CPC Doesn’t Matter

Whaaat? That’s just crazy, right? Well not really. The question you have to ask yourself is: “How much is a click worth to you?”.

The answer is that it depends, so when you’re setting up new campaigns, don’t sweat this metric and give your ad groups room to spend.

In general, start your campaigns at $1 a click, and see how it goes. Getting zero volume? Increase your bids. CTR through the roof and volume is awesome? Reduce your bids. Rinse and repeat.

If your website conversions are super high, then there is no issue bidding more for clicks. Why spend $5 on clicks and make $100 when you can spend $100 on clicks and make $2000. KACHING 🤑💸

CPM Is For Suckers

Unless your advertising is extremely on point, and your audience is extremely defined don’t be a sucker and don’t bid with CPM.

Bid By Platform and Device

Conversion rates are higher on desktop than on mobile, and tablets are somewhere in between. Because conversion rates are different depending on what device people are using, those clicks are worth different amounts to you.

For conversions, bid more for desktop clicks than mobile.

Once your mobile checkout flow is optimized then we can start funneling in mobile traffic as well.

Bid By Gender

Men and women may both love your product, but will they convert on site at the exact same rate? Probably not. So those clicks are worth different amounts to you.

Bid By Age

Depending on your product, age range can play a huge factor. Trying to get people to install your app which is the next Snapchat? Try a demographic between 20–30.

Selling retirement plans? Skip a decade or two and go with 45+

Bid By Location

This is especially useful if you are running an e-commerce, but you can still apply this concept even if you aren’t.

I’ve found that there’s less competition in “uncool” states, like Wisconsin, Nebraska and Ohio. The reality is that everyone and their dog is competing for eyeballs in NYC and San Fran. Zag when others are zigging.

Holy Moly, Look At All Those Interests😱

If your product has an obvious industry tie in, then by all means bid by interest. For example, if you’re selling protein, you might want to bid on audiences who are interested in lifting. Just be careful, bidding by interest can be a giant time suck since there are so many of them.

IOS vs Android

If you are asking for money on a mobile app, I recommend targeting IOS users first. They spend moola, us Android users don’t.

Price is the Most Powerful Level

Your financial model maybe doesn’t take kindly to 50% off promos, and your Brand Manager doesn’t want to build a company based on deep discounts. However, if we are doing a promo or a special this needs to be front and center on our ads. Psst remember the “use the word FREE” tip above.

After Price, Work the Exclusivity Angle

There’s a few ways to do this, but the general idea is that if you give the impression something is selling out fast, people love it, but once your amazing product is gone it will be gone FOREVER, it will mess with people’s heads and they will have to have it.

However consumers are NOT stupid. The items have to be exclusive. Saying that you are selling sneakers and calling it exclusive will NOT work (Yeezys on the other hand…)


A great example of exclusivity and luxury

Image is Everything

Some good tips for imagery:

  • Bright colours
  • hot girls/guys
  • high contrast
  • black and white.

Think of the images that stand out to you. What are they? What is unique about them?


A great example of showing a lot of items but in a compelling and clean way.

Bid on the Newsfeed Separately from the Right Rail

Pay more for clicks in the Newsfeed. Pay much less for the right rail and other placements.

Oh no, my sh!t’s not working

When something isn’t working, how do you know if it’s your audience or your ad? Well here is a trick. If it’s a super broad audience then it’s probably the ad. If the audience is really narrow (e.g. guys in Abbotsford, Wisconsin between the ages of 25–29 and that like biking) then it’s probably the audience.

My Ad Got No Reach

Sometimes Facebook just gives up on ads way too early.

Sometimes it’s because your ads are too similar to other ones in your ad set, other times it’s just Facebook showing it to 10 people and giving up if no clicks happen.

A little frustrating but you can nuke the ad and try again.

In Conclusion

There is way more to do when it comes to creating ROI positive Facebook campaigns (creating look alike audiences, retargeting based on actions taken on your site, scaling ad spend…), but this is a good start.

Let me know what you guys think of the article and let me know what has worked for you 🤗

If you enjoyed the read, please just hit the ❤️ below so other people will see this here on Medium.

My Twitter: @mlevkov

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