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making good facebook ads

Making a Facebook Ad With a 10% CTR (An AdShark Case Study)

Linus Pauling once said, “the best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.” Yeah, I guess. But as advertisers, we’d rather have a lot of good ideas. And that begins with analyzing what worked and what didn’t work whenever you run a campaign.

As a digital marketing agency, we have the benefit of leaning on more than just our gut feel when assessing an idea. We’ve got data. With Meta Ads in particular, here’s how we identify a good idea:

  • Strong CTR (all) – above our 1.5% benchmark
  • Strong link CTR – above our 1% benchmark
  • Low cost-per-click – better than our $0.50 benchmark

If we are exceeding all three of these metrics, we believe that our ad creative is performing well. So you can imagine the glee I gained when one of my ads put up these numbers:

  • 12% CTR (all) 😱
  • 10% Link CTR 🤯
  • $0.13 cost-per-click 🥹

And in today’s blog, I’m here to tell you how we did it. But first… let’s look at the broken road that led us here.

The First Round of Bad Ideas

This past September, I officially took over the AdShark Marketing Facebook Ads account. It wasn’t a huge account – we were spending about $10/day and using it to generate top-of-funnel traffic to our website.

I thought it would be a good opportunity to test creating some organic/native content in ad form to see how it performed.

My boss and I launched these ads to see how they’d do:

examples of facebook ads on notebook paper

I know what you’re thinking: these look ridiculous. Exactly. That was the hope.

We wanted to get across that we care SO much about our own clients, that we were too busy to design our own ads and just mailed it in with these chicken-scratch ads. We also wanted to stop the scroll, and create content that forced you to want to pause and read.

The results? Less than stellar.

poor results from facebook ad

But sometimes it’s not the idea alone that matters, but what you learn from the idea. And here’s what we learned:

  • This ad wasn’t finding its ideal target audience. The likes/comments were coming from non-marketers, who (to be honest) probably can relate with this ad or find it funny. Marketers might see it as more of a gimmick.
    • And our ideal target audience IS marketers! 
  • They were static ads. Naturally, you have less time to explain yourself in a single image than you do in a short-form video.
  • The messaging was less direct and clear than it should be. We made interesting content, you could say, but it didn’t clearly define what you want somebody to do next after viewing it. Or that you wanted them to do anything? This limited our CTR.

My Next Ad Idea: “What Do You Do For a Living?”

In order for ads to perform well these days, it has to feel native to our audience’s timeline. With the mostly millennial audience we look to attract, one trending piece of content was man-on-the-street style interviews.

You’ve possibly seen this play out with individuals asking people driving nice cars how they made their money, or asking people outside of houses for an impromptu house tour. As I was thinking about what to do next for AdShark, this type of content came to mind.

So… I pulled my co-worker Gavin out of the office and staged him walking into our office. I asked him, “What do you do for a living?” and then proceeded to drive language about the great work our Strategists do for our clients at AdShark.

Here was the video: 

Before I even had a chance to post this video, I sent it to my boss for feedback. Here’s what he had to say:

bad notes from my boss

Yikes! At first I read this and thought “dang – sharp feedback, especially after we just ran that bogus notebook paper ad for 2 months.” But after a day, it actually set off a lightbulb moment for me.

Why not be more transparent? Instead of fighting hard to make a good idea, why not make an idea that shows us fighting hard? Let people take a peek behind the curtain at how we’re trying to position AdShark. Show our real voice. Show our real people. Be totally authentic.

So I did. And it took off.

The 10% CTR, Winning Facebook Ad

After getting Rick’s feedback on my last ad, I decided to take that feedback and make it a part of the story for a whole new ad concept, titled “My Boss Hated My Ad.” Here’s what it looked like:

And here are the results so far in January:

facebook ad with great clickthrough rate

In short, we were able to exceed all of our benchmarks by 5-10x on this ad, and it’s helped increase our weekly web sessions by almost 30% off about $15/day.

So here I am, again, trying to analyze a good idea in order to breed more good ideas. And I’m going to share that analysis with you.

How to Increase Your Facebook Ad Results

This list is based on the things that (I think) worked well in our 10% Link CTR ad. 

  • Make the Video Feel Native: every clip on here was shot with an iPhone and edited in CapCut. This ad very much had the feel of organic content that would appear on one’s feed, not an overly-produced video from an ad agency.
  • Include a Thumb-Stopping Hook: for me, the hook on the winning video was “My Boss HATED My Facebook Ad 😱.” For any Facebook/Instagram marketers (our target demo), there is natural curiosity in wanting to know ‘why did they hate it?’ before continuing to scroll.
  • Switch Up The Action Consistently to Retain Engagement: you might not notice it when you watched the first time, but every 2 seconds I changed up the shot or text on this video, to always keep it dynamic. By the end, you don’t even realize that you watched 60 seconds of content.
  • Be Authentic and Human: my voiceover was my real voice, and my script (when read aloud) was natural for my way of speaking. I didn’t try to be salesy in my language. Similarly, I let people truly behind the curtain of our process. This helped it feel even more like you were just hearing a friend explain a story.
  • Include Call-Out Text to Add to the Story: most people start out scrolling on mute. If you get them to click in and listen, you’ve won half the battle. Having call-out text that encourages them to click in, and doesn’t disengage them with the audio off, is important to retain viewership.
  • Include a CTA That Feels Casual: For us, the closing CTA was “hit us up to talk digital strategy 🔥” – would it have gotten as many link clicks if it said “Schedule a Consultation With A Digital Strategist?” – hard to say. I’d reckon no. Why? Once again, you want to feel like a real human and keep your content entertaining & conversational. A casual CTA can help get past certain inherent ad blockers that we all have.
  • Tell a Story That Is Clear & Interesting: there is so much content out there these days, and truly: it can be boring. The quickest ways to bore people: (a) uninteresting premise to begin with, and (b) too many filler details. When you finish a video, you should always ask “was it clear what I was saying?” and “is it as short as it can be while still informing?” → even on a long video like this one, I was able to answer both questions with a YES.
  • Pay Attention To Your Audio: it’s subtle, but I have music throughout the background to keep any brief (even millisecond brief) silences from boring our audience. I also wasn’t sales-shouting my story on a mic. The storytelling was soft-spoken and calm – easy to listen to. Be mindful of your audio throughout all of your videos.
  • Target The Right Audience: targeting settings matter less on Facebook and Instagram than they ever have before. But they still do matter. For me, I targeted ages 25-65 with this ad (most likely to be in a decision-making position of some sort with marketing), and I targeted two Facebook data sources: Facebook Page Admins, and Instagram Page Admins. The creative was made with this group in mind, and the targeting parameters were broad enough to let Facebook do its thing and serve to those most likely to click.

Looking for more guidance on how to make Facebook Ads that drive greater results for YOUR business? We’d love to chat! Connect with our team of paid social strategists for a free audit. Or, in the words of my winning ad: “hit us up to talk digital strategy.”

Thanks for reading, and good luck with your next social ad launch!


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