Marketing

8 Ways to Choose the Right Facebook Ad Objectives for Your Agency or SME

What Facebook Ad objective should you choose for your ad? Get advice from 60 marketing experts from agencies and small businesses.

Melissa King Melissa King on February 17, 2022 (last modified on April 13, 2022) • 25 minute read

Tons of marketers turn to Facebook Ads because of their unmatched reach. Facebook’s potential ad audience runs as high as 2.18 billion people.

But, Facebook Ads can only get those people to do what you want if you set the right objectives for your campaigns.

What Facebook Ad objectives should you choose for your small business or agency? We asked 60 marketing professionals about their preferences, and here are the insights they shared.

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What Are Facebook Ad Objectives?

Facebook Ad objectives are the goals you set for your Facebook Ads. When you create an ad on Facebook, you’ll be prompted to choose an objective that’ll influence who Facebook will show the ad to.

These objectives fall into three broad categories:

  • Awareness: Facebook Ads with the Awareness objective aim to grow interest in your product or service with people who don’t know about you yet. The Awareness category has two objectives — Brand Awareness and Reach.
  • Consideration: These objectives try to get people to think about your business and learn more about it. The Consideration category includes the Traffic, Engagement, App Installs, Video Views, Lead Generation and Messages objectives.
  • Conversion: Conversion ads target people already interested in your brand and try to get them to buy your product or use your service. The objectives in this category are Conversions, Catalog Sales, and Store Traffic.

Which Objective Is Best for Facebook Ads?

Since the best Facebook Ad objective depends on your business and situation, there’s no one answer to this question. We surveyed marketing professionals about the Facebook Ad Objectives they choose most often, and here are the results:

Most commonly chosen FB ads objectives

The Conversions objective was by and large the most frequently used, with nearly 40% of all respondents choosing it. But, among small businesses, who made up 49.2% of the answers, Brand Awareness was the top choice. This was proven again in our latest research on Facebook ads where conversion ranked top for agencies and brand awareness ranked high among SMBs.

But, just because these are the objectives the survey participants most frequently used, you shouldn’t use them without understanding why. To help you understand the decision process, we asked agencies and small businesses about theirs.

Related: Can You Measure Brand? Yes––Start With These 24 Brand Marketing KPIs

How to Choose an Objective for Your Agency’s Facebook Ad Campaign

Agencies and marketing consultants made up 47.5% of our total respondents, and their preferred Facebook Ad objective is Conversions. Many of them explained the link between their goals as an agency and the Conversions objective.

“The conversion objective not only aligns to the goals of our clients in the most relevant way but it is also one of the most versatile campaign objectives,” says Katie Mellers-Hill from Cake Agency. “By selecting the conversion objective this allows us to then focus on a range of specific actions taken by users and vary these event optimisations based on level of intent we may expect from different audiences.”

The Conversion objective encourages visitors to take an action on your site, and that action can range from anything from a purchase to a download. No wonder agencies get results with their clients’ versatile needs.

AdMax Local’s Patrick Hodgson emphasizes the Conversions objective’s suitability for tracking: “Most of our clients are small business/ franchise owners, so the main focus is revenue and leads. To ensure we are hitting these numbers, we usually select conversions as the objective so that we can run ads that send traffic to the client’s website and fill out a form above the fold. From there, we can trackback ROAS and revenue data to show how successful the campaign is to a client’s bottom line.”

For Roy Morejon of Enventys Partners, the Conversions objective helps agencies optimize their client experiences. “As a marketing agency, we’re always shooting for highest conversion rates at the lowest cost possible for our clients. Conversions are what lead to much higher return on ad spend, and also higher sales on our eCommerce clients’ sites. Most of our clients are looking for us to increase bottom of the funnel goals, so conversions are where we focus our attention,” Morejon tells us.

At Twelve Three Media, Kelly Hawthorne Smith has a similar experience. “I use the Conversions ad objective the most because we work with a lot of direct response type clients. We are very focused on lead generation, so by choosing the Conversion ad objective the campaign is optimized for conversion action,” Hawthorne Smith says.

The Conversions objective works well for many agency situations, but you can only use objectives to their fullest if you have the right reasoning. Here are four tips that agency professionals and consultants shared for choosing the right objective for your ad:

  1. Know Your Objective Before Working on Creative
  2. Match Your Objective to Your Actual Goal
  3. Keep It Simple
  4. Align Your Objective With the Marketing Funnel

1. Know Your Objective Before Working on Creative

If you plan on creating your ad before you work out your Facebook campaign details, hold tight — you could benefit from working out your ad objective before your creative. By connecting your creative to your objective, you’ll have a more cohesive ad that’ll help you achieve your campaign goals.

“Your ad creative will depend greatly upon your Facebook ad objectives, so it’s important to work out your objectives first,” says Amber Reed-Johnson from Giraffe Social Media.

And it takes a lot of consideration to choose those objectives. “There are three broad categories that Facebook ads fall under: Awareness, Consideration, and Conversion. These roughly correspond to the marketing/sales funnel, with Awareness covering the widest target audience, narrowing in the Consideration stage and even further in the Conversion stage. So, firstly, you’ll need to decide where in this funnel you want to target,” Reed-Johnson explains.

Reed-Johnson continues describing how to choose your objective: “If you’re aiming for brand awareness and reaching as many eyes as possible, an Awareness objective is best aligned with your goals. If you’re after more web traffic or want to promote an informative video to an audience in the market to buy your product/service, a Consideration objective is best suited. This puts your brand at the forefront of people’s minds when they are considering where to buy from. Lastly, a Conversion objective covers the least amount of people, but the most engaged audience that is ready to buy your product/service.”

Once you find the objective that matches your campaign goals, use copywriting best practices to write ad copy that matches your customers’ intent. For example, you’ll want to stay away from super salesy language if you’re just trying to make people aware of your brand.

2. Match Your Objective to Your Actual Goal

Facebook Ad objectives are more straightforward than you think. Your objective should line up with your overall advertising goal — simple as that.

As marketer and designer Jackie Kossoff puts it, “Choose the objective that best helps you achieve your ultimate goal. Facebook Ads are very good at doing exactly what you program them to do.”

Kossoff provides a few examples, telling us, “For instance, let’s say you want to sell a digital product. If you choose the “Traffic” objective, Facebook will deliver your ads to people who are most likely to visit your site. However, if you were hoping that this traffic would produce sales, you’re likely to be disappointed. When you tell Facebook you want traffic, Facebook gives you traffic–nothing more, nothing less. If you’re after sales, create a conversions campaign set to track purchases and that’s what Facebook will give you.”

“The best piece of advice we have when trying to select the best Facebook ad objective is pretty straightforward: don’t think too much outside the box,” adds Veronica Moss from A Plus Insurance. “Think about outside of Facebook…What is your current marketing goal right now? Simply match your Facebook efforts with you current advertising efforts.”

Moss continues, “Are you trying to get people interested in your product or service? Pick Awareness. Do you want people to think beyond a certain product, and think more about the business as a whole or as a brand? Then consideration objectives should be your goal. But whatever you select…make sure it lines up naturally to what your current efforts ALREADY are for your business.”

So, if you get stuck trying to figure out your Facebook Ad objective, go back to your overall advertising objective. Think of what you want viewers to do when they see your ad.

3. Keep It Simple

Facebook Ads has 11 objectives to choose from, but chances are you won’t be using them all.

“For most users, they will only need to use a handful of ad objective,” says Tom Leach of Norsu Media Group.” Leach walks through the best objectives for different situations: “Most e-commerce users are going to want to use Conversion, matched up with their pixel and conversion events (Make sure your domain is verified, and you’re aware of iOS updates!) – this will keep your pixel learning and begin optimising!”

Leach continues, “Engagement is another top option — want some comments or additional attention on a post? Maybe you’re trying to build an audience from people who have shown an interest in your niche, this would be the first step.”

“App Installs and Lead Generation are also great for their respective tasks. You can sync up your app and get direct downloads with one button click taking you directly to the app store or play store depending on your device, this lowers friction and increases conversion rate. Lead Generation can be useful if you don’t want to build out a landing page as FB will allow you to use their own lead capture forms natively on the platform,” Leach concludes.

Pick a few objectives and see how they work for your ads, then adjust accordingly. Don’t worry about using every single objective available.

4. Align Your Objective With the Marketing Funnel

Two agency pros brought up the marketing funnel — the process a customer goes through before they buy something. Customers at the top of the funnel are just getting to know your product, those at the middle are considering it and leads at the bottom of the funnel are about ready to buy.

“Before choosing a campaign objective, think about where in the funnel your audience is and what the goal is for that particular audience,” Akvile DeFazio of AKvertise advises. “If it is a cold, prospecting campaign, perhaps you may want to consider running a traffic campaign to drive more people from your target audience to your website to learn about you and at a lower cost. Think of it as an introductory point.”

DeFazio continues, “For your warmer, retargeting audiences, aim for a higher value campaign objective, such as conversions. These audiences know about your brand already from other upper-funnel interactions, so they are more likely to make a purchase or complete the action that is your ultimate goal for them.”

“You can certainly test conversion campaigns with cold audiences and they can perform, but more often, we see higher conversion rates and ROAS and lower CPAs for accounts that use the aforementioned strategy when selecting campaign objectives, especially with higher-priced, non-impulse buy type products or products/services that have longer conversion funnels. Test and see for yourself what works best,” DeFazio concludes.

Josh Scheer from Relic+EKR points out the similarities between the marketing funnel and Facebook’s objective categories. “My advice is to think thoroughly about the goal of the campaign first and foremost. At the end of the day, what do you want to achieve? What problem are you trying to solve? Conveniently, Facebook has grouped the different possible objectives into the phases of the traditional marketing funnel,” Scheer says.

Scheer adds, “If you know you are trying to drive sales, conversion-oriented objectives make the most sense. If you need to drive sales but don’t have much brand awareness, split the difference and aim for something in the consideration category.”

Get to know your business or client’s marketing funnel, and figure out what action could move them further down. Then, choose the objective that matches that action.

Related: Funnel Reporting: How to Build, Use and Interpret Data from Funnel Reports

How to Pick a Facebook Ad Objective for Your Small Business’s Campaign

SMEs, SMBs and entrepreneurs represented 49.2% of survey respondents and had two preferred objectives — Brand Awareness and Conversions. Some of them told us how these objectives line up with their business strategies.

Marketers who chose Brand Awareness emphasized the importance of building brand awareness in business success.

Ouriel Lemmel from WinIt chose Brand Awareness because they “want to make sure that we have better brand recognition than our competitors, so through Facebook Ads, we have been able to create a compelling representation of our brand, which includes our personality, voice, and ethics.”

“Brand awareness is the key to longevity in your business,” adds ViscoSoft’s Gabriel Dungan. “Customer retention is a critical part of building your brand, so you should be using your marketing to help make your business recognizable to all different kinds of consumers.”

Respondents who chose Conversions pointed out the objective’s effectiveness for certain business priorities.

“We started our company about five years ago, so we’re at the point in our business where we want to focus on conversions. In the past, we focused on brand awareness and reach, but now that we’re more established we believe our Facebook ads objectives should be more about turning potential customers into paying customers,” explains Jean Gregoire from Lovebox.

Chelsea Cohen of SoStocked adds, “Being a SaaS company, we manage our clients on a subscription basis, which eliminates the need to focus ads on repeat customers. Most of our marketing is inbound – in the form of webinars, podcasts, and our company blog – so we’re mainly remarketing Facebook ads to close in on our customer journey with conversions.”

What other considerations go into choosing a Facebook Ad objective for your small business? Survey participants had four to share:

  1. Understand How Objectives Work
  2. Focus on Your Immediate Goal
  3. Consider Audience Awareness
  4. Think About Your Underlying Strategy

1. Understand How Objectives Work

It sounds simple, but knowing the impact that objectives have on ads will help you set up your campaign for success.

“Choosing the right Facebook ads objectives starts with understanding what you want to achieve with them,” says FragranceX’s Leanna Serras. “Awareness objectives help increase people’s awareness of your business and are ideal if you’re looking to find new audiences for your brand. Consideration objectives are designed to entice audiences to engage with your business, for example, by liking your ads or by messaging you through Facebook Messenger. Conversion objectives encourage people to take actions that could lead to purchase, such as adding an item to a cart or registering for an event.”

Most importantly, you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of objectives in an ad’s performance. According to James Stephenson from EpicWin Application, “Facebook Ad goals aren’t just a way to categorize your ads. This is a typical misunderstanding among some of my clients, who believe that the selection you make here has no bearing on the ad outcomes and is simply a tool to help you arrange large numbers of advertising. That is far from the truth.”

Stephenson tells us the underlying mechanism behind Facebook Ad objectives: “ When you choose an aim, you’re telling Facebook what kind of outcomes you want to see or what kind of activities you want people to take. When determining which users to display your advertisements to, Facebook considers your goal and what you’re optimizing for. They’ll aim to get you into the feeds of people who have taken particular activities in the past, such as clicking on a link or engaging with a message, because they’re more likely to do so again.”

Facebook Ad objectives are a critical element of every Facebook Ad and campaign. Get to know each objective and choose one for your ad carefully.

2. Focus on Your Immediate Goal

As you try to match your Facebook Ad objective to your marketing goals, don’t get lost in your long-term objectives. Think about what you need to do here and now with your ads.

“Focus on the short-term business goal you’re looking to achieve,” advises Finn’s James Shalhoub. “There is no one right option for choosing a Facebook ad objective for business. Facebook isn’t usually your only host for advertising, so try using it to fill the gaps left by your other marketing platforms.”

Shalhoub explains how they follow this rule at Finn: “For Finn, business needs shift seasonally. When the marketing efforts on other social media begin to plateau, we focus on brand awareness and reach advertising to drive new traffic to our website. There are also times annually when we focus more engagement around sales and specific products we carry. It typically depends on where the business is at the moment, as several objectives are useful simultaneously or at different points of the year. The key factor is awareness of what will help drive your business forward right now.”

Does your current marketing goal match more than one objective? Don’t be afraid to test. “It’s best to match your Facebook ad objective with the objective of that specific campaign and what you hope to achieve with those ads, and also leave room in the budget to test to see if a different objective works better,” says Kathy Sheng from Kinsta. “Driving leads? Choose the Conversions objective or Lead Generation objective. Retargeting? Traffic objective tested against the Conversions objective.”

Joe Karasin of CircleIt offers more advice for when your current goal could go multiple directions: “In regards to choosing the correct objectives for Facebook Ads, many factors come into consideration. The first step I always take for our multi-faceted business is the desired outcome of the ad. Am I trying to get people to sign up for early access for a new product feature? Am I trying to get them to watch an important video? Am I trying to get them to use or download our app?”

“Depending on the outcome, I will choose my objective accordingly. Sometimes, the end goal isn’t always clear, or can be more than one simple answer. For example, I may want people to watch a video AND sign up for early access to a product feature. In those instances, it is nice to be able to optimize for conversions on the website or in our app,” Karasin concludes.

Take your time choosing an objective that works with your current goals, but don’t get paralyzed. You can always pause an ad if you need to go in a different direction.

3. Consider Audience Awareness

Respondents from small businesses also brought up audience awareness and the marketing funnel as often as their agency counterparts. Keep the audience you’re targeting’s funnel stage in mind to choose the best objective for the job.

Tara Robertson from Chili Piper mentions audience awareness and lead stages throughout her advice on Facebook Ads. “B2B marketers typically run two different types of paid campaigns on Facebook; brand awareness and lead gen (Facebook calls these Conversions). The budget split between the two campaign types really depends on your business objectives,” Robertson begins.

“I would recommend advertisers select brand awareness as an objective when you’re targeting people who are not yet familiar with your brand or products. For brand awareness ads I would also keep an eye on metrics like ad frequency to ensure you’re not exhausting your audiences by showing them the same ads too often. Video completion rate can help you gauge interest in different video assets,” Robertson says of brand awareness ads.

And what about conversion-focused ads? “Conversion ads are usually more successful when targeted to audiences who are already at least a little familiar with your business and what you do. You can build audiences for this by targeting your website visitors, targeting visitors who have been to specific pages of your website (people who visit your customer stories or product pages, for example), or targeting specific lists such as email subscribers or subsets of your customer list. With conversion ads, it’s important to give Facebook the success metric that’s as close to revenue as possible. For B2C or ecommerce, this is pretty straightforward. For B2B, if you have a page that’s associated with in-target or qualified lead conversion, that is the page I would use to track successful conversions. At Chili Piper, we send leads who successfully book a meeting with a sales rep to a specific confirmation page, this allows us to track these as successful conversions, instead of tracking everyone who submits our lead forms as they may not end up being qualified or even interested in a meeting,” Robertson concludes.

“In general, there are three Facebook campaign objectives: Consideration, conversion, and awareness. The objective that’s right for your Facebook ad campaign depends on where you are in the marketing funnel,” adds Marina Vaamonde of HouseCashin.

Vaamonde explains, “Awareness is most suitable for top-of-funnel marketing campaigns, while consideration is for when your viewers already know and trust you but are considering you amongst a group of other brands. Here, you use a call-to-action to nudge them over the edge and make the final purchase. Lastly, conversion campaigns are used when you’re trying to convert prospects into customers. This is still early in the funnel. All in all, choosing the right objective for your campaign is a direct function of the stage of the marketing funnel that you’re in.”

“Our objectives changed as our business grew. First, we needed people to become aware of our business because we were new, but as time went on we transitioned to consideration as people already knew and trusted us. Determine your objectives and the stage your business is in first before you determine an objective for your campaign,” Vaamonde concludes.

PhotoAiD’s Natalia Brzezinska also believes in the importance of the marketing funnel in choosing an objective. “When it comes to deciding about the proper Facebook ad objectives, definitely the best advice to follow is to know and understand, in which stage of the marketing funnel you are and what you can expect from the action (i.e. choosing the ad objective). Understanding the place you are, why are you here, what are the bottlenecks, and how to thoughtfully pave your customer further on their path is a foundation of choosing the right Facebook ad objective,” Brzezinska says.

Ashok Sharma of GETTRX directly connects Facebook’s objective categories to the marketing funnel. Sharma says, “On Facebook, objectives are divided into three categories (with various options under each category): Awareness, Consideration and Conversion. As a first step, we need to pick a category that is most relevant to our sales funnel:

  • Consideration objectives: middle of the funnel (MOFU) goals designed to engage people who are interested in learning more about your products.
  • Awareness objectives: Top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) goals to generate interest in your services.
  • Conversion objectives: The bottom of the funnel (BOFU) is the main driver of purchases, registrations, and visits.

So, If you are torn between Facebook Ad objectives or optimization options, first define the funnel stages of the product or service and then accordingly implement.”

Edward Lee of Closet Connection LLC & Orovoy connects objectives to a business’s age, which you can also connect to funnel stages. “Some advice I would give when deciding about the proper Facebook ad objectives is to not focus on them as a whole, but focus on them based on how new or mature your company’s landing page and/or service is. If your landing page/service is new, you will want to focus on traffic objectives in your Facebook ads. This will help to get a large span of audience to see your ad and the topic it is based on,” Lee says.

Lee continues, “Using traffic objectives will also help Facebook learn and understand who your “true” audience is so it can better target your ads to that particular audience in the future. If your landing page/service is more mature, you will want to do the conversion objective. The Conversion objective is especially beneficial if you can leverage lookalike audiences.

At the start of your business, most of your customers are near the top of the funnel. As it gets older, you’ll deal with customers closer to the bottom of the funnel, giving you the chance to use the Conversion objective.

4. Think About Your Underlying Strategy

We’ve mentioned connecting your Facebook Ad objective to your current marketing goals frequently in this blog post. But, you can’t have strong marketing goals if the underlying strategy isn’t well-thought-out.

Stephen Light from Nolah Mattress advises, “Facebook ad objectives can be a powerful tool in growing your brand reach. However, choosing which objective is right for your business is not so easy. My advice is to create a strong marketing strategy beforehand. Know what your top goals are for your business, and then choose the objective that is most similarly aligned with those goals.”

CocoFinder’s Harriet Chan suggests considering how your ads will play into your long-term marketing plan. “Many advertisers only consider how to make some quick cash and, in the process, forget about the value of planning for the long term. In many cases, acquiring new customers may, at face value, seem more costly than the return. However, considering the customer lifetime value can help you realize that it is worth it.”

Chan does the math: “For instance, for a product you sell at $30, you may realize that the cost of acquiring a new customer is $60. The customer’s lifetime value could be $500, and with this, you realize that the business will make a profit.”

Eden Cheng of PeopleFinderFree urges you to think of your intent in your marketing strategy and apply it to your ads. “The best advice for any business will be: Think of your intent. For example, youngsters like to try things more than taking your guidance on signing up, so you can target it for an older age group to engage more people. After all, your intent is to educate people on an easy digital process. We followed this process mostly and I can vouch that this practice is very effective,” Cheng says.

In other words, think of how your audience prefers to use Facebook and adjust your ad objectives accordingly. Facebook users respond better to digital experiences that are easy for them.

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Monitor Your Facebook Ad Campaign Performance in Databox

After you choose a Facebook Ad objective, how do you know you chose the right one? You’ll need to check your ad’s performance.

Most of the marketers who responded to our survey named Facebook Ad Manager and Google Analytics as their monitoring tools of choice. But, those tools are single-purpose — you’ll have to hop between platforms to look at all of your data sources.

Twenty percent of the marketers we consulted use a dashboard software that combines data from different sources. With this kind of tool, you can look at all of your data in one place.

Beta tools for monitoring FB ads performance

If you want to try a data dashboard for yourself, why not give Databox a shot? It’s free for your first three data sources so you can try it out without commitment. Sign up for your free account today.

About the author
Melissa King
Melissa King Melissa King is a freelance writer who helps B2B SaaS companies spread the word about their products through engaging content. Outside of the content marketing world, she writes about video games. Check out her work at melissakingfreelance.com.
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