The 28th February through to the 2nd March saw the 2018 edition of the Social Media Marketing World conference in San Diego.

This was my first time attending the event and the amount of choice and quality of presentations was incredible and for anyone looking to improve their game in any area of social, I’d highly recommend considering next year’s event!

With so much to choose from, I parked myself in the Facebook Ads sessions for the majority of the event and this post is a collection of notes and actions (130 in all!) from those presentations. Hopefully this is useful for anyone who wanted to be there but couldn’t make it this year.

Here goes…

How to Ensure Your Facebook Ads Are Profitable Every Time – Nicholas Kusmich

Ok – so first session of the conference! The premise of this presentation was using four simple steps to get new clients, increase sales and grow your business at scale whilst running profitable campaigns.


  • When it comes to interest targeting – go granular
  • Think about who your target customers follow and start there
  • Think about where your ideal customer frequent regularly – events, blogs, websites etc
  • Think about what they spend money on – what does that tell you?

Ad creative:

  • You can’t just jump in and push products – you need to earn the right by providing value first
  • Lead magnets; they need to be highly desirable and easy to consume
  • Stop using E-Books; webinars and cheat sheets are far more valuable and actionable, and therefore tend to be more successful
  • When thinking about ‘easy to consume’ for lead magnets, the real trick is that it must be easy to action
  • Ads – does it capture attention? The image needs to ‘pop’. Greyscale with a little bit of colour can work very well due to so many colourful images in the feed.


  • Landing pages – 3D images of exactly what your giving away work well.
  • Also add information on yourself to build rapport and the human element.
  • For CTA’s – ‘Download Now >>’ with button in Facebook blue has proved to be the most successful
  • Thank You pages – don’t just say thank you and give away the document. Give more information on what’s next and how you can help. Use video to explain the value of the lead magnet. Also introduce an offer for an upgrade or follow up.
  • Test out ideal decision making time-frames for discounts on sign-up offers: com/deadline
  • In the 72 hours after viewing the thank-you page; re-inforce with three emails and three ads (one per day).
  • Increase urgency on ad messaging and email copy from day 1 to day 3.

How to Use Facebook Custom Audiences to Get Better Ad Results and Lower Your Costs – Rick Mulready

Having listened to quite a few of Rick’s podcasts I was really looking forward to this one. Also, 45 mins dedicated to custom audiences is always going to be interesting and actionable.

From Rick’s point of view, the way to think about custom audiences is using them as an effective tool to create a connection with people who you’ve previously not had a connection with. Ultimately, it’s the businesses that have a deeper connection with their audience will be the ones that win.

Where you must start with Facebook ads:

  • Facebook ad success is based on the basic fundamentals of marketing – not fancy tricks and features.
  • You must understand who your target customer is
  • You must be clear on the value you bring
  • You need to create offers that solve challenges your customers have
  • You need to be able to communicate clearly and position yourself as the go to place to solve their challenges
  • You’ve got to play the long game – far too many people want overnight success

Rick Mulready Facebook Ads Social Media Marketing World 2018

Rick then went through 4 must have audiences he believes every advertiser should use or at least be testing:

Email list:

  • Start by uploading your email subscriber list – match rate will be around 30 – 70%
  • Email lists – these people are warm and know you, but the goal here is to reduce the ‘waste’ of non-openers and re-inforce your email campaigns
  • Then segment your list; overall, top buyers, past purchasers who haven’t been back in the last 30 days, event registrations, webinar attendees (vs. non-attendees) etc
  • Next step – create lookalike audiences based on the segments above. Best place to start is a lookalike audience based on your buyers
  • Also create a segment of bounces / unsubscribes and exclude those from your campaigns
  • Add a column with customer LTV for further segmentation and use of Facebook’s LTV audience tool

Website traffic: 

  • Try retargeting people who visit specific pages / categories on your website. A better place to start than blanket targeting all website visitors
  • Test combinations – people who visit certain categories but not others
  • Also test traffic audiences based on time on page
  • Make sure you set up custom audiences based on custom events (add to cart, add to wishlist etc)
  • With the above, test combinations of pageviews vs. actions – i.e people who visited a landing page but didn’t click on your CTA
  • Test different time windows for your audiences. Base this on how long it typically takes your customers to convert
  • Again – create lookalike audiences based on all of the above
  • Retargeting with messenger for bottom of funnel traffic is incredibly effective – be quite obvious about the fact you’re inviting to take part in a conversation

Video engagement audiences:

  • If someone has watched 50% of your video – they are already engaged
  • Facebook loves video and live video, so reach tends to be far higher. Great for cost effective top of funnel prospecting
  • For shorter view lengths (i.e 25%), it might be people need more content and are not yet ready to buy
  • Always create lookalikes based on video engagement
  • Try using Facebook live for audience building; create video engagement audiences, then amplify to your page fans. If people are reacting well, turn the live video into an ad and use it for cold audiences once proven successful
  • In terms of length – there’s no firm answer. It should be as long as it needs to be to do the job. Generally however, the shorter the better.
  • If setting audiences on % length of views, use ~45 seconds as a benchmark for people being ‘engaged’
  • From there – sequence follow up ads and messaging based on length of view

Bonus audiences:

  • Facebook engagement: Keep it simple. start by targeting everyone who has engaged with your page (note, this includes posts, ads, messages etc)
  • Dynamic Product Adsa must have for all ecommerce advertisers
  • Messenger Audiences: Must be testing audiences based on people how have interacted with the brand via messenger
  • Remember messenger is permission based – be conversational and very wary of this fact. Seeing CTR’s of 20-30% doing this

Bonus tips:

  • Facebook loves larger audiences – don’t be afraid to test larger lookalikes. This has been a big change over the past 12 months.
  • Also – don’t be afraid to use multiple lookalikes in one ad set
  • For smaller retargeting audiences – test the ‘reach’ objective given that you’ve already qualified the audience through your own funnel
  • If you’re using Business Manager, create a new ad account for your business and share all existing audiences from your main account for backup
  • Consolidate your social proof – start ads with warm traffic to build up engagement, then take the post ID and use them to target cold traffic with pre-existing engagement
  • Upload all custom audiences into audience insights to get ideas for interest based audiences for cold traffic

Facebook Advertising for Small Business – Andrea Vahl

A really interesting topic, particularly with the recent news regarding Facebook’s algorithm, meaning more and more small businesses will need to start paying for visibility on Facebook.

With Facebook still being one of the cheapest places to advertise online it’s a very viable option for most small businesses. That being said costs are rising, so small business advertisers need to get smarter and get better at testing.

Another key challenge here is that small businesses don’t have the audience sizes that larger companies have which makes scale very difficult. This also brings challenges for building retargeting audiences and additionally having enough data to get through Facebook’s learning process (50 conversions).

Strategies that are working for small businesses:

  • Use video for audience building and warming up cold audiences (explainer videos can work well. Example used was a Dentist surgery)
  • Single images often outperform video for link clicks and traffic
  • Retargeting is key – get people off Facebook and onto your website or email list so you can retarget and follow up
  • Expensive leads are not always a problem. As long as the figures are viable for your business
  • You have to test strategies though – sometimes website conversions can be cheaper than using lead forms
  • Use traffic ads to send cold traffic to blog posts, but have an opt-in form high in your post to get the conversion
  • Use webinars to collect emails and then follow up with retargeting ads to sell workshop places
  • Facebook groups are a really good strategy – drive ads to group registration pages and therefore deepen your engagement
  • Chat bots – use Manychat to get your chat bot working
  • Make sure you’re using offline conversions to measure physical conversions for stores
  • You need to sequence your messaging – think of how you can develop messaging to hit people at different points in the journey
  • A mini series of short video tips are a good way of creating a sequence – the main objective with your videos is to stop the scroll
  • Take advantage of ‘last chance’ offers – make sure your messaging reflects the different time frames on an offer. Increase spend on the last day.
  • Try not to target below 10,000 people per ad set if possible. One option is to keep the audience a bit more open, but tailor the messaging towards the right part of the audience
  • If you have a low budget for testing – group similar interest targeting into different ad sets with one ad over all ad sets
  • If your interests and demographic targeting is very specific, jump to the next phase and run individual ad sets with an ad variation in each
  • If you don’t have enough data for the 50 conversion barrier, stick to one ad set and therefore you get more conversion data to Facebook.
  • Alternatively, back up to a conversion point higher in the funnel (for example ‘add to cart’)
  • For very low budgets, sometimes running a traffic campaign is more viable than conversion campaigns even if your end goal is conversions
  • Make sure you set up pixel standard events to track actions via Facebook Analytics
  • Limitations with retargeting is a big challenge if traffic is low. If that’s the case, combine all custom audiences into one ad set. Hyper targeting sometimes just isn’t possible if numbers are low
  • Always edit your ad placements – getting the options right here is key to running an efficient campaign, particularly reviewing Facebook’s audience network performance
  • Scaling is a huge challenge because performance can tank if you attempt to scale too fast. Best advice is to scale budget slowly
  • Alternatively, using the post ID to copy over the ad with social proof can be a good option if you do have to increase spend quickly
  • Make sure you’re comparing the right metrics – use the week to week date comparison
  • Profitability is a challenge – think of the longer-term game and always track conversion rates at different stages of the funnel
  • The big thing is to not just wing it – get a defined system for testing and always write out a detailed test plan

Four Steps to Optimise Your Facebook Ads For Better Results – Azriel Ratz

Azriel started off making the point that Facebook are really on your side. It’s completely in their interest for you to succeed.

The four steps Azriel’s presentation ran through were as follows:

  1. Set Business Goals
  2. Finding the best possible audiences
  3. Engage them with the best ad
  4. Optimise ad performance

Business goals:

  • Pick your campaign objective carefully and make sure it’s in line with your actual goal

Finding the right audience:

  • Azriel recommends running smaller interest based ad sets, each with different audiences so you can test properly to get an idea of what works
  • When testing, start with $10 per day and test groups of audiences
  • Interest wise, think about books, newspapers and publications your audience read, and people they follow
  • Don’t necessarily rely on Facebook identifying the right audiences. Put the effort in yourself to research and test
  • Use audience insights to get a better view on demographics and interests. Load in your custom audiences and lookalikes to get new ideas for interest targeting
  • By loading in your audience of purchasers you can then compare those demographics against your new audiences to see if the demographics match
  • Don’t be afraid to run ads on desktop only if this is where people are converting

Engaging people with the right ad:

  • Make sure you create and test lots of variations to ensure you’ve got the very best ad for your audience
  • Make sure you’re testing images – think about product images vs. people using the products. It’s incredibly unlikely you’ll choose the best image first off so you need to test
  • Test using your primary keyword / CTA in different positions in the copy, headline and description

Optimising ad performance:

  • Data you need to review; cpm, cpc, time on site, conversion rate
  • Go through the above metrics in detail and figure out how to optimise for better performance in each
  • When you’re looking at cpm, you need to understand that Facebook is charging you in most cases for cost per impression. Therefore, this is the best indicator of whether or not Facebook likes your ad
  • If CPM is high, check and test your best levers: audiences and messaging. Is it the ad, or is it the audience?
  • If all ads in one ad set have a high cpm you know the problem is with the audience
  • If cpc is high, change your messaging to improve CTR and therefore reduce cpcs
  • Make sure you’re switching round headlines and CTAs to test for increased engagement
  • Time on site – check placements, disconnects in ad messaging and landing page messaging, and for any barriers to conversions on your landing page
  • Make sure your landing page imagery matches images used in your ads
  • If conversion rate is low – question whether the offer is right
  • Test your landing page lead form for the best number of fields for your audience
  • Bonus tip – once you’ve done all your testing, narrow right down to your best performing ad and run new ad sets to that ad (with the same post ID to retain your social proof)

Five Advanced Facebook Advertising Tips You Can Use Right Now – Jon Loomer

Just like Jon’s blog and podcasts this session was packed full of tips and ideas for audience building and testing!

Jon Loomer Facebook Ads Social Media Marketing World

The challenges most advertisers face:

  • Main issues are not quite getting your targeting, copy and messaging right
  • Clearly the goal is to reach the right people at the right time with the right message
  • Warm audiences routinely work better through all steps of the funnel
  • There are two different groups of warm audiences to consider; those who have engaged with your content generally, and those who have engaged with specific content or performed a specific event

General engagement audiences:

  • Use general engagement audiences such as page engagements, website traffic, people who have clicked CTAs
  • The theory is that if someone has engaged with you previously, they are likely to engage again
  • If your audience sizes are small, try expanding time windows. 12 months can work well if needed
  • If you’re trying to create a large audience of website traffic, don’t worry about things like time on site and specific actions. If you need a large audience, keep your settings broad.
  • When trying to create an audience of top engagers, start by testing % of top users based on time on site
  • Broader engagement audiences tend to perform well at the top of funnel for things such as driving traffic or video views or blog posts but they can also work well in the middle of the funnel

Specific engagement audiences:

  • Specific audiences based on actions – start with audiences based on website events such as add to carts, specific pageviews etc
  • Video views – this includes video views from both page posts and ads
  • Longer watch times result in smaller but higher quality video views. Make sure you exclude video views for your specific video ad sets
  • Video series is a great option; start with an into video that invites people into the series, and use video view retargeting to follow up with the next videos in the series
  • Jon recommends short time durations for sequenced follow up ads (for example, running each ad for 2 days)
  • Test running lead ad custom audiences as another engagement based audience
  • Again, make sure you exclude people who have already completed the form
  • Test building custom audiences for specific pages to then sell a related product
  • Always build a custom audience for people who have abandoned a conversion on a landing page
  • Use website custom audiences based on specific page views to segment your audience into persona groups based on what they’ve viewed

Pixel events audiences:

  • Use pixel audiences to target people who have taken actions such as purchases, leads, add to cart and so on
  • If people have gotten as far as completing an event, the chances are they are more likely to buy
  • Use pixel event parameters to really drill down on details such as most frequent visitors , most frequent registrations for webinars, top spenders etc. In some cases, parameters need to be added to your event code
  • The Search_string event is great for building audiences interested in products or specific information

Key takeaways:

  • The bottom line is to leverage your built-in audience
  • When you have lower traffic volumes, go broader
  • Build audiences with top of funnel content such as video or blog posts