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The Six Elements of a Perfect Facebook Ad

Chris Smith

Chris Smith is a USA Today bestselling author and the co-founder of Curaytor, a social media, digital marketing and sales coaching company...

Chris Smith is a USA Today bestselling author and the co-founder of Curaytor, a social media, digital marketing and sales coaching company...

Sep 19 10 minutes read

This is an excerpt from section one of my #1 Amazon Bestseller, The Conversion Code. If you enjoy this article, please consider buying the book or audiobook.


No matter what kind of Facebook ad you decide to run, no matter who you decide to target, whether you use Power Editor, Ads Manager, or a boosted post, no matter your methodology, there are critical essentials to EVERY Facebook ad you will run.

Image Is Everything (Canon Cameras and Andre Agassi got it right)

What would it look like if the only thing your Facebook ad had was the image? Do you notice text when you’re scrolling through your newsfeed on your phone? Probably not nearly at the clip that you see images. Start every Facebook ad with a killer image, and then work backwards. When you create a Facebook ad, try creating it with the mentality that the image in the ad is the entire ad. 

I have found that images or custom designed ad pieces with white/ negative space and bright colors mixed in perform great. In fact, the brighter the colors or image, the better the results. Dark, dull images get terrible click-through rates compared to bright, bold images. While analyzing some internal data at Curaytor, I discovered that campaigns we managed featuring professional photos of homes produced a 3x higher CTR versus those using amateur or cell phone photos.

When I say, “Image is everything,” there’s another image that everyone forgets about: Your Facebook page profile picture is in nearly every ad you will run. Make sure it looks great in the newsfeed. Sometimes you can’t just cram your existing logo into your profile picture. You need an “icon” version of your logo, like what your company’s mobile app icon would look like. We reduce Curaytor to just the C on all of our social media profiles.

“Extras” and Text over the Image

Once you nail your ad image, next is adding some text and/or “extras” to the image. By “extras” I mean things like borders, ribbons, buttons, arrows, or even your logo. Remember, keep these additions bright. Gold, green, red, orange, blue, and purple make for great colors that really pop when sitting on top of Facebook’s white interface. I use Picmonkey to quickly add extras, overlays, and text to my images.

Regarding the text you can add, there is a little bad news: You can’t have more than 20 percent of the image covered by text. That rule is the bane of my existence sometimes, but I understand why Facebook enforces it. If they didn’t, people would just use their business cards or screenshots of their websites as their ads. Or, they would put huge words over their images like “BUY NOW” or “ON SALE,” which would really hurt the user experience of the platform, making it feel awfully spammy very quickly. What this rule encourages is that instead of trying to squeeze your entire message into the text, the text should instead complement the image and extras. Facebook actually has a handy tool for checking the ratio of text to images before you post. 

Believe it or not, all of the things I just covered are only to get the person to stop and read our ad copy.

Killer, Clever Copy

Not everyone will read the words in your post (with a well-crafted image, many will click without reading), but the people who will buy from you will most likely read every word you write. If you’re spending less than five minutes on the copy of a Facebook ad, you’re not a professional marketer. Sure, Facebook makes it easy to launch and deploy ads, but good things come to those who wait. 

My dad used to tell me to “think before I speak.” His advice applies to Facebook ads. Consider that it may end up costing you thousands of dollars to get your ads in front of and clicked by the right people, so you’ll probably want to spend a little time crafting your message. I literally spend hours talking about the copy for Facebook ads with my team. Run your copy by someone: Double-check your commas and spelling, and make sure there’s not an extra space, and so forth. Obsess about what you write, because serious leads are going to read it. 

When you write amazing copy, it can also help filter and qualify the leads for you. This can save you a ton of time and money. As an example, if I were a real estate agent running an ad that said, “Check your home’s value today!” it would get a lot of clicks and leads. If I ran a comparable ad that read, “Selling your home soon? Check your home’s value today!” it would get fewer leads, but they’d be closer to transacting.

At Curaytor, our services are not inexpensive. But most people who hear about what we do want to buy it. So instead of plastering our pricing to keep anyone who can’t afford us away (which is a terrible idea at our price point, to give your price before you give your value), we use copy like “Exclusively for top-producing salespeople and teams.” This both attracts the right leads and repels the wrong ones, all without pissing anyone off.

Specific Calls to Action

Believe it or not, people like to be told what to do. In fact, they need your guidance. Even if your CTA is as simple as “click here to download,” “click here to watch this,” or “click here to learn more,” it is critical that you tell the person reading it exactly what the next step is.

If you don’t have a strong CTA in your ads, you are wasting your money and asking the people taking the time to read them to do nothing.

As the Facebook lexicon has become part of our everyday vocabulary, a new set of calls to action have also emerged. Asking people to “Like,” “Leave a Comment,” “Share this Post,” or “Tag Someone Below” can be very effective social media–specific calls to action. 

Because I know how to use Facebook ads so effectively, the events that hire me to speak often ask if I can help them spread the word. When I am going to an area where I do not have a large following, I will ask in the ad for the people I do know to tag anyone they know who may be interested in attending in a comment. Like clockwork, a handful of local people see the ad and tag people from their local network, bringing more awareness to my gig and with the added bonus of a trusted recommendation from a friend!

Mobile Optimized Ads

If you want an endless supply of clicks, leads, and sales from Facebook, you will need to make sure that your ads are being displayed on and optimized for mobile, not just desktop. Facebook (and the world in general) has hit a tipping point where the phone has become the web. 

Often, images or add-ons or calls to action that look and work great on a large screen are illegible on a phone. There will be times where the images and ads you design will work for both audiences, but there will also be times where you actually need to create two separate sets of ad creatives.There are certain Facebook ad campaigns where I actually remove all mobile ads and target only desktop users, especially when I am driving them to a more in-depth capture form or landing page. Ads Manager will show you what your ads look like on desktop vs. mobile. I don’t do a full registration landing page form on ads I target only on mobile. 

When I build landing pages I know will be used on mobile, I just focus on getting email and/or phone only. If a prospective lead has to scroll on their mobile device to complete a landing page form, there is a good chance that will stop them from doing it. Just ask yourself whether you would fill that out if you were in the line at Starbucks, checked Facebook, and then clicked on a post. If there are 10 fields to complete, probably not. So use “light registration” when possible on mobile ad campaigns and landing pages.

This best practice applies to Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram ads, too. If you want to go from a tweet to a lead, you aren’t going to get them to spend five minutes filling stuff out when they just came from a 140-character universe. (I’ll have more advice for you about Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and other networks in the next chapter, beginning on page 65.)

A Link to a Proven Mousetrap

By optimizing your website and landing pages the way I taught you earlier, grabbing a link for your Facebook ad that will capture leads will be a one-second process. This is why compelling lead magnets, well-designed landing pages, and a lead generation optimized website/blog are so important. Virtually every Facebook ad that we will run will be focused on getting clicks. These clicks cost money. So you need to be sure that a certain percentage of the clicks will indeed become a lead. 

What’s nice is that once you have your links established, you can change everything about a Facebook ad but still link to the same place as a previous ad. At Curaytor, our sales page does a great job at converting qualified leads. That means my job as a marketer is to get people there regularly, and there is more than one way to skin that cat. 

When I come up with a new Facebook ad, I often link to an old landing page, so I can create separate Facebook ads for the various things that we do, but drive them all to our sales page. In a perfect world, each ad would get a new landing page, but that’s not always necessary. Instead of always building new landing pages, spend as much time or more coming up with new and creative Facebook ads to get people to them. It is much easier to develop and launch a new Facebook ad campaign than it is to build and launch a new landing page.

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