In the past few months, have you written a blog post, published a branded resource such as a PDF or ebook, or shared a Facebook post on behalf of your business? These are all types of “inbound marketing,” which is taking up an increasing part of many companies’ marketing budgets.
More and more companies are spending their marketing dollars on these sorts of efforts in part because once you create that ebook, PDF, or blog post, you can use it for years and years. With traditional advertising–billboards, print ads, TV and radio commercials, etc.–if you don’t pay, you can’t play.
Now that social networks are making it more difficult for you to catch your customers’ attention unless you pay for it, you might be thinking about throwing a few dollars behind your most valuable resources.
Facebook is the natural place to start. Here are three ways to get the most out of every dollar you spend on Facebook ads:
1. Set up your conversion tracking pixels ASAP
If you’re using Facebook ads primarily to drive sales, setting up a conversion tracking pixel should be your first priority. Without one, you won’t know if the return on your ads is greater than your spend.
Would you put money on a racehorse then never bother to find out if the horse won or not? People who create Facebook ads and don’t first set up conversion tracking are effectively doing the same thing. They’ll never know if their ads have performed well or not.
Facebook makes it simple to track the conversions of your ads. In Facebook’s Ad Manager, when you go to the Conversion Tracking tab, click it to “Create pixel” based on your objective (“checkouts,” “registrations,” “leads,” “key page views,” etc.). Name your pixel and then Facebook will give you a snippet of code. Copy the code and paste it in the webpage where you want to track conversions. Meaning, if you want to track checkouts, you would put your conversion tracking pixel on the confirmation page that people see after completing a checkout.
Ideally you will have several versions of your ads, so you can remove the ones that aren’t converting and put more money behind the thoroughbreds that are.
2. Use Custom Audiences like a pro
Custom Audiences are the Clydesdales of the Facebook advertising world. They’re an incredibly powerful feature, but some people are afraid to use them because they think setting up Custom Audiences requires advanced know-how. But I’ll let you in on a secret: They’re not as tough to use as people think they are.
With Custom Audiences, you’re able to target people with Facebook ads on a very behavior-centric level. Why is this valuable? It means if X type of user/customer does X thing, you can target them with X message. This is hyper-targeting at its finest.
Here’s an example: You own Flora’s Flower Shoppe, and this December your goal is to double your last year’s sales of poinsettia arrangements. To do this, you create a couple of Website Custom Audiences (WCA), one for the page on your website that features all your poinsettia boutiques and another for your website’s checkout confirmation page.
Once you’ve created your WCAs, you can make Facebook ads that target people who have visited your website and browsed your poinsettia product page(s), but left without making a purchase. Per your sales goal, your ads can feature a free-shipping code, like “FBFreeShip,” or a 10 percent off discount code on all your poinsettia arrangements.
You can even drop the promotional angle and simply promote one of your status updates that features a photo of a beautiful poinsettia arrangement with a message of how they’re the perfect flower to give this holiday season. You do this through the “people you choose through targeting” option that appears in the pop-up when you click “boost post.”
A WCA is just one type of Custom Audience you can create with Facebook’s ads platform. You can also create Custom Audiences that are made up of people who have subscribed to your email list, given you their phone number, or used your app.
3. Invest in quality imagery
In early April, Facebook announced it would be giving the right-hand sidebar ads a facelift. As of today you’re probably seeing the new, bigger ad style now when you log in to the network’s homepage.
The new right-hand bar ad images are a lot bigger than they once were–up to three times bigger, in fact. With this new shift in focus on larger, bolder images, you should be extra critical of the images you select for your ads. It’s time to stop using those terrible stock photos! Invest in quality images from a site like Stocksy or hire a photographer to take professional quality images that only you can use.
Understanding the growth of inbound marketing helps paint the picture of why advertising is becoming necessary. It’s the only way to get ahead in Facebook’s marketplace where the supply of content is overwhelmingly larger than the demand. Rather than complain, learn how to use Facebook ads wisely.
This post originally appeared on Inc.