Today I wear the hat of a critic. I will give you my honest (somewhat educated) opinion on five Facebook Ads, and give you a few takeaways from each one to take back to your own ad campaigns. First we’ll go through what makes a Facebook Ad effective, and then we’ll do the ad critiques.
If you’ve read all of the best practices and techniques of Facebook Ads, but want to know what they (or people’s failed attempts) look like, then you’re in the right place.
— Ellen Seebold (@EllenSeebold) September 27, 2013
Let’s get started.
What Makes a Facebook Ad Effective?
Before we jump into the ad examples I want to give you the three characteristics of an effective Facebook Ad. This will give you an understanding of what each of the examples should contain and allow you to test your knowledge on them before you make your own ads.
1. A Clear & Simple Call-To-Action
Nothing makes people skip over an ad more than an unending wall of text. The shorter you can get your point across the better. If you can’t get your ad’s point across to a person in mere microseconds, it needs to be shorter, because that’s all the time they’ll give you before moving on.
2. It stops you in your tracks
An ad, by design, is meant to stop a person from their current activity and take an action. It’s not offensive, mind you. Offensive ads may grab someone’s attention, but they’ll never click. Worse, they may report it as offensive. No, these ads make you stop and think. They play on your fears and make you question whether you’re really doing the right thing or have the right answer. This is how you stop someone in their tracks.
3. Its Value Proposition is worth a click
As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, Facebook Ads are much different than Google Adwords. With Google Adwords your entire value proposition can be that you sell men’s shoes at low prices. And this works if you’re serving your ad to a person who is searching for “low-priced men’s shoes”. But on Facebook you don’t have that knowledge of what people want or need right now. You only know their broad interests and demographic information, so you need to use a value proposition that would get your target audience to click whenever they see it, no matter what specifically they are think about in that moment.
So what makes a value proposition worth a click?
It needs to solve a problem or answer a question that a person has. It needs to make someone say “Yes! I did want to learn more about this” or “I have been having this problem.
Facebook Ad Examples
Now that we know what qualities to look out for, let’s critique some real Facebook Ads. I’ll give my analysis with each of them in mind, as well as discuss some of the finer details in each individual ad.
One thing to note before we start is these are all ads that I’ve seen on my Facebook account. So they should be targeted to a 25-year-old male from Canada who likes a lot of online marketing and social media-related stuff.
Call-To-Action: Negative words in a CTA like this great. They really play on people’s fear that maybe they are reselling crappy SEO! Unfortunately the rest of the ad reads like a regular Google Search or banner ad, with a straight product benefits schpeel. To make a more clickable ad, in the description I would say something such as “Get our free ebook on mistakes made by even the top SEOs”, with it linking to a downloadable ebook.
Stopping Power: The red “X” coupled with the words “Stop” and “Crappy” really made me stop and look. It’s a complete break from the usual wash of Ads that say “Grow your business!” with a big smiley face. When used correctly, like this, negativity is great for stopping people in their tracks and seeing what the fuss is about.
Value Proposition: As I mentioned up in the Call-To-Action section, the value proposition here is not something that will get me to click. The ad is trying to sell me a product, which is the wrong move for a Facebook Ad. A greater value would be to offer a free ebook or white paper on mistakes that are causing SEOs to offer “crappy” SEO to their clients and how to fix them.
#2. Conduit Mobile
Call-To-Action: Oh man… I don’t know where to start. I mean, the arrow isn’t even pointing to their link. It’s kind of pointing to the Like button. Is that what they want me to click? And the worst thing is that the image, which is the most engaging part of this ad, is not a link image, it’s just static. So when you click on it, you open up the Facebook Image Lightbox, as you can see below:
Stopping Power: This ad didn’t give me any reason to stop. It looks like a generic banner ad that I’ve seen a thousand times before of an app in a mobile phone. The pastries are the thing that grabbed my attention the most, which isn’t good because it gets me thinking of pastries, not about building a mobile app. So I skipped over it quite quickly.
Value Proposition: Unless I want to create a mobile app for my “Biz” right now, the likelihood of which is extremely low, this ad gives me no reason to click. Similar to the PosiRank Ad above, selling a product in a Facebook Ad is the wrong move.
Call-To-Action: The first line CTA did a great job of pulling me in quickly: “See why Wired Magazine calls Scribd the “Netflix for books.”” I’m a tech nerd so both Wired and Netflix were great for creating trust and an obvious understanding of the service.
Stopping Power: While not super-loud, I found the image interesting enough to stop. The image of the kid under the covers with the headline “Never Stop Reading” brought back some nostalgia and longing for getting lost in my imagination as a child. And the way she’s smiling and looking down at something outside of the image really draws you in.
Value Proposition: This is a great value proposition for a Facebook Ad: A free month of a service. The one thing I would wonder is if I need to enter my credit card to access the free month. If I don’t, it would add punch to say “No Credit Card Required”.
Call-To-Action: It’s too long. I’m only going to read the first 3-4 words of anything before I make my decision to skip it or keep reading. And this CTA fails that initial test: “Fresh & Unique case study…” I’m five words in and I don’t know what you’re offering me. I’m gone.
So how can we improve it?
Well, they’ve actually put the most interesting part of the CTA at the end, so all we really need to do is change the order (I’m an SEO, so Google penalties are always a worry in the back of my mind. Especially since the recent RapGenius fiasco). Here’s how I would change this CTA:
“Google Penalties hurting you? Check out a Free, no opt-in case study of a Google Penalty Recovery using the Google Disavow Tool.”
Right at the beginning this immediately plays on my fear of being penalized by Google, pulling me in, and then gives me the free solution to my worry (I made sure to check that this offering actually is free on their website).
Stopping Power: All I can say is AWESOME. I mean a glaring cartoon penguin and a huge red arrow? This one really stopped me during my scroll through the News Feed. I know showing spikes in graphs can look a bit spammy, but the way they used it in this Ad caught my attention in a good way.
Value Proposition: While the CTA isn’t perfect, the value proposition is pretty good. Case Studies are great because they give real world accounts of what so-called “experts” (like me :p) say you should do. So for me, the value proposition has a good base offer to get me to click.
The one thing that NEEDS to be added though is the word “Free”. This links to a free article on their blog. And I don’t even need to opt-in with my email address to read it. This means that it only costs me a click, which is the lowest price possible and should be front and center.
OK, I had to throw in one Wishpond ad, if anything just to rustle some jimmies in our online ad team (I don’t handle that part of our marketing).
Call-To-Action: It’s clear and simple. And actually one of my favorite go-to formulas for creating CTAs and headlines: “Want [Blank]? Get our free [Blank] to learn how.” It plays on the questions people have in their minds and gives them a simple, free answer.
Stopping Power: This ad’s stopping power is pretty weak. Nothing here is going to make you question how you do things. Or make you feel like you’ve found the holy grail ofsocial media marketing. The one thing it has going for it is the bright orange image, which, other than maybe red, is the color that stands out the most against the white/blue/grey theme of Facebook.
Value Proposition: The value proposition is great. It’s offering a FREE ebook to help you learn how to grow your business using social media, specifically Facebook contests & promotions