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Case Study | Feb 26
Jessica Malnik on September 24, 2020 (last modified on November 2, 2020) • 27 minute read
When you are new to running Facebook ads, it can feel a little bit like rolling the dice at the casino.
There is a lot of complexity under the hood, especially when it comes to bidding.
While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, we’re going to share how you can improve your Facebook bid strategy, including:
Your Facebook Ads bid strategy contributes to how often your ads get seen and delivered to your target audience.
When it comes to your Facebook bid strategy, there are many different philosophies for how to approach this from sticking with fully automated bidding (controlled by Facebook’s algorithm), manual bidding (i.e. bid/cost caps), CPC bidding, CPM bidding, and more.
All of them have their pros and cons. It boils down to your business, advertising budget, risk tolerance, willingness to experiment, and desired goals.
When it comes to Facebook ads, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to bidding. What works for some brands might not work for others.
A general rule of thumb is to set a bid cap that is less than the maximum amount you can spend for your desired conversion.
For example, if you can’t spend more than $75 for a lead, then your bid cap should be under $74 or less.
We reached out to some Facebook ad pros to hear about the 29 tactics that are working best for them right now.
“Define your conversion event,” says Eliza Nimmich of Tutor the People. “You should have a good idea of what step you want people to take when they see your ad before you decide to persuade someone.
Forms of Facebook-supported transactions include: watching content, adding to wishlist, triggering checkout, and ordering. If you have any ambitions in mind, you can build unique conversion events too.
Don’t expect one ad to serve all of your conversion goals.
Create separate ads for each goal, consider where these goals fit into the consumer journey, and target accordingly.”
For example, Michael D.Brown of Fresh Results Institute says, “While the majority would go with CPC (Cost Per Click), I favor the Bidding on Conversions strategy. This has lavished me with incredible results from my Facebook ad campaigns.”
“Equipped with this strategy, what Facebook does for me is to target my ads at an audience with the highest propensity of being converted, fulfilling my marketing objective. This could be downloading my app, getting more sign-ups, or as simple as liking my page.”
“One of the most significant selling points of this bidding strategy is that it is highly streamlined and targeted, being that my intention is accurately spelled out.”
“For this strategy to be maximized in terms of results, you must put judicious results on customer value. Here, you would calculate your bid on the basis of the anticipated value per click (VPC).”
“The VPC here helps you analyze the economics of the campaign. It gives you a picture of if you would win, break-even, or lose.”
“To arrive at the VPC, you need an estimate of your customer’s average lifetime value. Simply put, this is the sum of earnings you would accrue from one customer for their duration of patronage.”
“Of course, you are going to need data to get this. Admittedly, bigger brands have easier access to accurate historical data from which they can synthesize the average customer lifetime value. As a smaller business, you may not have this luxury; hence you may have to make do with your closest estimate.”
“An emphatic understanding of your VPC will allow you to maximize or optimize your Bids on Conversion strategy. You mustn’t cede bidding responsibility to Facebook. You would lose control, which is extremely crucial.”
Editor’s Note: Want an easy way to visualize all of your conversions from Facebook ads? Use this Website Conversions Dashboard to measure lead generation and cost per lead.
“You should use target expenses when deciding to execute a long-term program or look at sizes and increase the budget,” says William Schumacher of Uprising Food. “That will make the expense per case more predictable. When doing so, play with the lowest possible overall expense that will result in the money being invested”
“To improve your Facebook ad bidding strategy, what you want to know is how much you want to spend for a conversion,” says Jonathan Aufray of Growth Hackers. “Then, you can set a bid cap. By setting a bid cap, you will make sure that you don’t spend too much for a conversion.”
“One of the best and most important things when bidding on Facebook is to ensure that you are using the correct campaign goal for what you want to achieve,” says Steven Boffa of Tug Agency. “Also, opt for paying for clicks and not impressions wherever possible while trying to minimize the cost per action (ex. CPC).”
“We have discovered that when running Facebook advertising campaigns it is more effective (in ROI terms) to duplicate the campaign and deploy additional capital rather than increasing ad spend on the existing campaign,” says James Ford of AutoBead.
“Interestingly, we ran an A/B test across 9 recent campaigns to further test this insight. Much to our surprise, we found that this “hack” resulted in a 21% increase in revenue on the duplicated campaign in comparison to when we increased our spending on an existing ad.”
“Always have a breathing space budget/bid for an ad set in order to not limit the reach of the campaign,” says David Dsouza of Delta Growth. “A simple rule for bidding would be to start off with Cost per acquisition/lead + bid space (1/2 of CPA/CPL). This strategy doesn’t limit your reach and gives you a realistic value to the campaign cost which can then be modulated as per goals.”
“This same technique is used by Facebook when you opt for the ‘Lowest cost’ bid strategy. You will notice that the cost will be higher at the start of the campaign and as you spend more budget and learning is accumulated, the costs are optimized to the results you are aiming for. (more or less).”
“One way to improve your campaign performance is to change the auction bidding from lowest cost to lowest cost with a cap,” says Sanju Ganglani. “Most users don’t know that the lowest cost is enabled in ad sets by default. This small tweak tells Facebook to get the lowest cost per result possible and takes your spend further while increasing ROI.”
Kira Fahmy of Perfect Search Media says, “Establishing bid and cost caps can limit your ad’s delivery to potential users. This, in turn, could end up driving up your cost per conversion and lowering the return on ad spend (ROAS).”
Anjana Wickramaratne of Inspirenix Digital Marketing adds, “This will not allow Facebook’s bidding algorithm to bid a greater value than the bid cap you have set. This will get you better control over your bid strategy, but my advice is to apply this method only if you have identified your ideal target market and running a conversion ads campaign.”
CJ Xia of Booster Biological Technology agrees, “I believe that the Lowest Cost Bid Strategy is one of the best ways to improve the Facebook Ad bidding strategy. It is the lowest possible cost per optimized event while spending the whole budget. The main benefit of the lowest cost strategy is efficiency. Someone also sets a Bid Cap if you want to control how much Facebook will spend on an event while using the lowest cost bid strategy.”
For example, Samantha Kohn of AutoVerify says, “While every campaign is different, we find the “Lowest Cost” bidding strategy to be most effective when start running a brand new campaign as it’s fully automated, allowing us to gain an understanding of how this specific campaign performs in the targeted location. Once we have key metrics such as Cost per click, cost per conversion and conversion rate, we can move to a “Target Cost” (“Cost” means Cost/acquisition) bidding strategy. That strategy really allows us to maintain a consistent CPA and eventually lower it over time.”
Many other Facebook ad specialists favor the opposite approach and start with a higher bid.
“Using a higher Facebook ad bidding strategy will deliver better results than a lower bid strategy,” says Randy VanderVaate of Funeral Funds. “Higher ad bidding provides better engagement. Your ads will receive more clicks and better click-through rate scores, which results in a higher return on investment.”
“A higher Facebook ad bid will give you the upper hand on your competitors. Since you are paying more, your campaign will have a better score in the ads algorithm and your ad will be shown more than your competitors. As a result, your ads will be shown to a prime audience who is more likely to convert.”
Allie Burkey of Hurrdat says, “Not only are you putting yourself in the best possible position from the start, but it also allows you to gather data quickly so you can make performance-based decisions. From there, you can begin tweaking your bid until you find the most effective number.”
“Starting with a high bid also exposes other potential issues with the campaign. If you’re not getting results even with an aggressive bid, it indicates there are other problems with the campaign or the ad itself.”
John Ross of Zivadream Test Prep agrees, “It always hurts to increase your ad spend, but starting with a higher bid has numerous benefits.”
“First, it will ensure that your ad is placed in front of customers most likely to take action (rather than high funnel users unlikely to click).”
“Second, it will signify quickly whether your campaign is working. If your ads aren’t working on this audience, you know you need to change your ad campaign.”
“Third, it will drive competitors out.”
“If your ads are consistently being placed in front of more likely customers and are converting better, they may get discouraged and reduce their ad spend.”
“Facebook bids are an auction, so it makes sense that the more you’re willing to pay, the more likely you are to win,” explains Oliver Andrews of OA Design Services.
“If you go for automatic bidding, chances are good. Your bid will be high enough to win in the bidding system. If you pay too much, you could have a negative campaign ROI, losing money and preventing your ads from being profitable. Facebook Ads are a great system, but it’s never worth it if it hurts your results instead of helping them.”
For example, James Major of Insurance Panda says, “I like to set a very high bid at first. I typically set the bid 3X to 4X higher than what the Facebook algorithm suggests.”
“The highest bid puts you in the best position of the news feed, and consequently, delivers the highest quality traffic. Once your ad is deemed to be relevant with a high CTR, you can start to lower your bid, tweak your targets, and still remain in the top position due to your high-quality ranking.”
Daniel Snow of The Snow Agency adds, “Launch your bidding plan to the top and move down. A higher pricing approach provides you with the best possible starting point and the most accurate details and outcomes. Then you can continue to modify your offer and decrease the amounts until you find the perfect offer.”
Editor’s Note: Looking for a way to monitor all of your Facebook ad campaigns? Use this Facebook Ads Campaign Dashboard to keep track of engagement, click-activity, money spent, and more.
While many Facebook advertisers start with bidding high, there is some debate on whether or not to use automated or manual bidding.
Shika Lakshman of DC Social says, “Start high and do the work yourself. Letting Facebook automatically bid for you puts you amongst all the other advertisers, but manually bidding and starting with more budget means you can tweak your bids to get the results you want.”
Kenny Trinh of Netbooknews adds, “Smart bidding is crucial and may significantly affect the success of your Facebook ad campaign. You should test various methods of bidding to find out what reduces the cost of conversion but take into account that if you bid too low, your ads may not get the exposure they need and you won’t reach your goal. Higher bids put your ad in a better position in the newsfeed.
Of course, you can use a bid automatically generated by Facebook, but this deprives you of the opportunity to cherry-pick the traffic, i.e. to get the highest-converting part of the audience.
Let’s look at an example: you manually set a bid 3-4 times higher than Facebook algorithms suggest. Yes, the first impressions will be quite expensive, but in a day or two the situation will be stabilized, because having set the highest bid among your competitors, you get the most loyal users who react well to the ads, click on the creative and make the desired conversions. Eventually, your advertising costs will be covered.”
Another bidding approach is value optimization with minimum ROAS.
“Value optimization with min ROAS,” says Tim Shu of VETCBD. “It will enforce these areas of your marketing campaign. Focus campaign performance on the bottom line and ROAS. Get the most opportunities while maintaining minimum ROAS”
Bernadett Dioszegi of Bannersnack adds, “When your most important measure of success is ROAS (return on ad spend), choose the value optimization with min. ROAS bid strategy. This is available selecting one of these objectives: app installs, conversions, or catalog sales.
You just have to set up a minimum ROAS control amount and your campaign will be optimized to get the most purchase value and keep ROAS above the amount you set. It’s important to know that this bid strategy can have a negative impact on ad delivery if your minimum is too high, that’s why it’s essential to start with a realistic ROAS control and then you can gradually increase it.
In practice, if you want to obtain a 120% return on ad spend, you should set a minimum ROAS control of $1.20, which will help you get at least $120 in value purchases within your conversion window for a $100 investment.”
“As a service-based provider, I adjust my bid with radius targeting and paying more for leads closer to home,” says Daniel Chan of Dan Chan Presents: Virtual Magic Shows.
“When it comes to Facebook Ad bidding, our organization aims to be cautious, not impulsive or overly confident,” says Elijah Litscher of The Loop Marketing. “Facebook reacts better when you follow their guidelines exactly and stay in the middle of the suggested bid. As the Ads on Facebook grow in the 100,000’s each day, being diligent and mindful is the best strategy to see consistent success.”
Judson Hill of Bespoke Financial says, “If you are wondering how much your bid should be, calculate it on the expected value per click.
Find out the average customer lifetime value: total revenue on average a customer will pay for into your business. Workout the expected conversion rate. And once you have enough data start to calculate your bidding rate.”
“Focusing on customer value has helped us tremendously improve my previous client’s Facebook Ad bidding strategy,” adds Carol Tompkins of AccountsPortal. “This strategy allowed us to use the average lifetime customer value and expected conversion rate to calculate the approximate value per click. This value per click becomes the bid amount.”
“Not many people realize, but the ad auction is not just about the highest bid, but also customer experience on the other side after the click,” says Daniel Daines-Hutt of Ampmycontent. “Facebook takes into account bounce rate, site speed, and more. Make sure to have your pixel set up correctly to measure organic leads, and improve your site speed. You’ll notice your ad cost drop significantly.”
“If you are launching a new Facebook campaign and have a small budget you can try what’s called a walk-up,” says Darren Graham of 408 Media. “I’d suggest selecting the manual bidding option called Cost Control and set your objective to conversion. You can then try bidding just under the amount you would ideally like your conversion to be.”
“For example, if your ideal cost per conversion is £10, try bidding £8. Leave this for 2-4 hours. If you see that you are either not getting any reach, clicks, or conversions then your bid is too small. Next, try upping your bid by £1 and wait another 2-4 hours. Do this until you begin generating leads. This may be slightly over budget at first, but as Facebook learns who and where you buyers are you can begin finding the sweet spot between conversion cost and conversion volume.”
“One effective tip for improving your Facebook Ads and lowering your costs per result is to use Custom Audiences & Look-a-like audiences,” says Jose Victor Castellanos of Recon Media. “These audiences are based on engagement with your brand. This could be from your Website, Facebook Page, or Instagram. This creates targets of people that either have seen your brand or have an interest in your products or services.
I didn’t mention the bidding strategy as Facebook isn’t really a bidding platform like Google Ads. With Facebook, the way to lower costs is by adjusting targeting, placements, and ads.”
“One effective tip for an ad bidding strategy is to spend time collecting data and creating unique custom audiences for specific products and services,” says Hayley Powell of CandidSky. “Once you have the custom audience that works, this will improve your overall ROAS.”
“I’ll first run a branded video ad to get attention because the cost is very inexpensive,” says Kim Adamof of Edge Digital, Inc. “Then I create a custom audience from those views – either 3-second or entire video, depending.
Conversion ads make tracking ROI easier. I’ll use the video audience along with a Lookalike audience to provide a good quality score which reduces the cost per lead.
The metric I measure is the cost per result or cost per lead to know if I have the best audience with the right message.”
“To maximize results while lowering costs, an excellent way to improve your Facebook ads bidding strategy is to create as many niche groups as possible,” says Zac Johnson of Blogging.org. “A good example of this would be the general audience, demographic audience, geographic audience, newsletter subscribers, site visitors, and existing customers. Through the use of Facebook custom audiences, lookalike audiences, and pixel tracking, all of this segmentation is possible.”
Gianna Leflar of Pond Lehocky Giordano adds, “To lower your CPC (cost per click), target a more specific audience. By doing this you can hone in on your target audience. Facebook allows you to tailor your ad to appeal to people with specific interests, areas, and demographics. When targeting a more specific audience, conversion rates are higher.”
“An effective strategy to improve Facebook ad bidding is to set the cost cap at 100% availability,” says Derin Oyekan of Reel Paper. “It will maximize conversion volume within your acceptable CPA/CPI and Minimize your cost when possible without manually adjusting your bids.”
“Boosting posts gets a bad rap among marketers, but I think that’s because most people are doing it wrong,” says Jarrod Wright of Chargebacks911.
“For most campaigns, I’m actually a fan of promoting existing posts rather than starting from scratch in Ads Manager. In my experience, it’s the most seamless way to ensure that a single post collects all of the paid and organic engagement metrics. Comments, likes, and shares can have a multiplier effect, and splitting those signals between several audiences, ads or posts will dilute their impact.
You’ll have to make sure that your landing page uses open graph markup properly, specifically the og:image, of:title, and og:image tags,but that should be best practice regardless. Once a post is boosted, it creates a campaign in Ads Manager. I do recommend spending some time optimizing the campaign placement and budget after in Ads Manager.
“Google Ads had the advantage of capturing intent, which allowed them to build an ad network that drove results,” says John Short of Compound Growth Marketing. “In order to compete, Facebook has had to up the game, and build algorithms that can identify which users are most likely to be interested in ads, and even which users will likely convert. Because of this, the most effective thing for ad bidding strategy is to get your best data into Facebook. When you feed data in to show them which conversions were the best, they will go out and try to find more users like that for you, and they have gotten quite good at it.”
”If you are new to Facebook, I would suggest opting for an automatic bidding strategy,” says Yash Mehta of Inbound Marketing Agency. “So even with the minimum budget, you can maximize your reach and impressions.
For a manual bidding strategy, the best tip is to keep an eye on your ads, monitor it closely with the help of the Inspect Tool. It will help you know everything about the ad performance and the audience. Once you know how it is performing, you make changes to the ad, bid, and strategy respectively.”
“To improve your Facebook Ad Bidding strategy and increase conversions, avoid letting Facebook bid for you and take control of managing your bid portfolio,” says Jean-Philippe Brousseau of Phoneloops.
“You need to calculate your value per click based on your customer lifetime value. If you are a new business and lack historical data to calculate these numbers, you can use your forecast and industry average.”
“Then set your expected conversion rate representing how many customers will complete a purchase after clicking on your ad.”
“Calculate your value per click by using the formula: average worth of conversion (average purchase) * (average conversion rate. So if your conversion worth is $30, and the expected conversion rate is 1%, a click is worth $30 * 1% = $0,3.”
“Continue reviewing your lifetime value for the conversions to compare them to your target numbers.”
Jack Choros of Iron Monk says, “Handle your bidding manually and take note of three different factors:
Eric Reed of reed5group adds, “The advice I give my clients is to break the model! Rethink the tactic and shrink your universe. You need to swim upstream and be willing to spend more out of pocket with the confidence that the acquisition will be stronger. DO NOT use the auto-bid option (the majority do because it’s easy!)”
“Here is my recommendation
When using FB you are not looking for results today. You are looking for results tomorrow. Your goal is to solve the equation of how to engage an audience on FB and how does that engagement lead to acquisition.”
“An effective method to improve your Facebook Ad bidding strategy is to test multiple ad objectives with the same campaigns,” says Charlie Patel of Ad Angles.
“Why? This allows you to truly identify whether one ad objective generates a better result than another even if it’s more expensive.”
“For example, sometimes paying for a specific conversion further in the buyer journey can be more economical even if it’s at a slightly higher cost than paying for clicks.”
“You won’t be able to compare apples to apples until enough data is generated through adequate ad spend. Though, be sure that the ads (copy and creative) and target audience are the same when using this bidding strategy. Thereafter, shift your budget to the objective with the best overall ROI.”
“Since Facebook bidding is typically an automated affair (and mostly this is to your advantage), optimizing your spend is often about limits rather than bids,” says Nathan Binford of Market Chorus.
“Since there is more competition on some Facebook Interests than others, using a bid cap is a great way to avoid wasting budget on arbitrarily expensive targeting data. The right bid cap will vary with each campaign, but if you’re running a conversion-oriented campaign, for example, you should start with a bid cap equal to the CPA you’re targeting and optimize from there.”
“CPC (Cost Per Click) allows you to bid for clicks,” says Alex Perkins of All the Stuff. “This means that you’re going to pay only when a user clicks on your ads. The advantage is that your banner could be seen by a lot of Facebook users without you paying a cent if it doesn’t receive clicks.”
“My primary advice on Facebook ad bidding is to experiment,” says Marius Thauland of Leiekontor.
“The situation behind the scenes is complex, and Facebook is definitely hiding plenty of details from you. The best bidding strategy greatly depends on the current size of your audience. Small audiences generally benefit from CPM, medium-sized ones work great with CPC, and oCPM (Pixel) is for growing an already large audience.”
“This is a general tip, but experimenting is key. The first time, you might set the bid too low, and your competition will take over the audience. Setting the bid high is great in terms of getting clicks, but you will soon be spending too much to continue any further.”
“Experimenting and diversification is the only way you find out what works best for your page/business size and the product or service you’re trying to sell. Don’t believe templates or magic formulas because they don’t exist! Test various approaches in short time periods and continue with the one that shows the best results.”
“Something I do is I start out with high bids, and gradually decrease them over time. It works quickly, and the first couple of days generate clicks like wide. It elevates the page and makes future planning easier!”
For example, Ally Gruber of HealthCentral adds, “Don’t discredit the effect even the smallest of changes may have.”
“I’ve found that changing the “When You Get Charged” setting from Link Clicks to Impressions is excellent for lowering CPCs in the short term (one week or less) because Facebook is showing your ad to anyone that meets your targeting criteria rather than only the people most likely to click on it.”
“You may surprise yourself how many of those suspected non-clickers will actually click (and even convert, depending on your KPIs!).”
“CPM bidding,” says Israel Gaudette of Linktracker Pro. “This is the most unpredictable strategy. In fact, mostly you will be advised to stay away from it as you might spend lots of money without any results.
Well, I am the living proof that this is all wrong. It boosted traffic on my website tremendously. I created multiple ad sets within the same ad campaign with different bidding settings. Compared the results and found out that only in CPM bidding settings, I got the result that I wanted.”
“Testing, testing, and more testing,” says Rob Sanders of Socially Found. “For a lot of marketers, their go-to process is to have a fairly broad audience, sometimes too broad. By continually testing the various options and combinations, such as interests, behaviors, and even demographics, you will start to see “winning” audiences which you can look to scale, as opposed to having them all in the one audience group. By having them all together, you’ll never really get a true picture of which ones are working the best and scaling your bids accordingly for better ROI.”
For example, Haydeé Ferrufino of The Orange Box Agency says, “Use CBO (Campaign Budget Optimization) campaigns and test 1 thing per ad set, this means one ad set per interest or one ad set per custom audience list. “This will allow you to have a clear understanding of what audience is performing better while leveraging the power of the Facebook Algorithm optimization.”
Noemi Konta of STORAGECafé adds, “First, you want to test out Facebook’s automatic bidding results. This way you can set benchmarks for future campaigns where you want to have more cost control. Explore your options in-depth and test different bidding strategies within the campaigns that have the highest price variations. Once you identify the strategy that delivers the best results, you can further test it on different audiences or creative ads to go even further with your optimizations. It’s a long process for which you need to be patient, but it will pay off in time with better ROIs.”
In sum, optimizing your Facebook ads bid strategy is both an art and a science. These tactics can give you a leg up.
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