Creative Iterations for Social Advertising: Small Tweaks Make a Big Impact


So I was inspired to address this topic after a parade of unfortunate creative has crossed our desks recently.

Usually, we ask for as many images or photos we can get from clients so that we have a library to choose from when setting up campaigns.

Sometimes even the specific ad unit dictates what kind of photo will work best. We want many to choose from if we try to test a theme or build a cohesive story for Facebook’s carousel ads for example, or we know what really will work best for Instagram, we’re able to try a bunch of different things to see what works.

Most companies have the best intentions and put some big money behind photo shoots and styling and post-production work.

But sometimes, despite all the effort that goes into it, the results fall flat and they simply don’t work for the channel they’re intended for.

So, we do the following:

Test it anyway, despite our instincts and experience.

Maybe boring or unnerving or weird or random works for an audience; you can’t make the assumption until you really try it out. Images are the first thing audiences react to – either they’ll be compelled to click, or they’ll continue scrolling.

Having a gut feeling that you know what image will get your ad clicked on the most is never a good enough reason not to test otherwise to be sure.

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Request new creative.

Armed with data on campaign performance and testing, we gently inform the client that we feel the creative might not convey the full benefits or use case of the offer and recommend that some tweaking or new imagery could really take our efforts up a notch.

There’s generally two rules of thumb when talking about creative iterations:


If your ad performance is not doing well – and you’ve tested other variables including bidding, targeting, the offer, copy, etc. – you’re better off exploring new images that are very different from what’s been used previously.

Time to test broad concepts.


If you have tested enough concepts and can identify themes that are delivering on your KPIs but there’s always room for improvement, start by making some minor creative tweaks rather than reinventing the wheel.

Now, if the client isn’t able to provide new imagery or they feel really strongly that it is the best stuff to represent their brand, we undertake some “post-post-production” work.

What are some of the ways to do that?

Cropping / Zooming

Focus in on certain details of an image. 10 coats in a closet can be cropped down to five just hanging on the bar. A zoomed out photo of a nurse attending to a patient can instead zoom in on the nurse’s hands taking the patient’s blood pressure.


Let Instagram inspire your creative and feel free to apply filters in various combinations to see what happens. You can also play around with saturation and brightness, color accents, blurring, and so on to mix it up a bit.

Borders & other Linear Elements

You can get creative here, try using arrows to point out features or go really 80’s crazy with starbursts or something (ok, not really), or you can do like we did here and go with an understated frame around the entire image, honestly there’s no limit to what you can do and highlight.

Text / CTAs

Check with your social media channel’s guidelines in terms of text overlays but we know that Facebook and Instagram for example have a 20% limit on the amount of text that can be within an image. With the space that you *can* use, convey urgency or repeat the value you have in your ad copy – FREE shipping, 25% off, 30-day trial, only 2 days left, etc. etc.

You should be doing this kind of rotation and testing even when your original creative isn’t weird/ugly/boring.

If you’re working with a really great set of creative images, but you’ve been running campaigns for awhile and notice your CTR and conversions declining, tweaking them like this and testing them to keep creative new and interesting for your audiences could be the right way to go to see significant improvements on your campaign performance before having to dig into the vault for entirely new concepts.

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How to Create Facebook Ads With Emails: 5 Creative Ideas


social media how toDo you have an email list?

Are you looking for creative ways to use Facebook ads?

With Facebook custom audiences, you can reach your email subscribers with relevant Facebook ads.

In this article I’ll share five ways to target your email subscribers with Facebook ads.

create facebook ads with email addresses

Discover how to create Facebook ads with emails.

#1: Serve Ads to All Email Subscribers

Since it requires no email list segmentation, the best way to get started is to target all your email subscribers. Simply upload your entire email list right into Facebook as a custom audience.

The key is to create a unified message across different channels: email to Facebook to website.

Target this audience if you’re looking to reach your entire list to get the news out about a big event or a storewide sale, where the message is the same for everyone. Make sure your Facebook ad has a similar look and message or offer as your emails.

Amazon uses this tactic to remind customers about their Deal of the Day.

amazon facebook ad

Amazon Deal of the Day Facebook ads look similar to the emails they send.

The idea is to share engaging content, so your email audience will help spread your message by interacting with your ads, acting as brand ambassadors.

Since this audience is already familiar with your brand, analyze engagement metrics (likes, shares, comments) to measure the effectiveness of these ads. Their interaction validates how well the ad resonates with them, which results in a higher relevancy score, more social proof and free organic reach.

#2: Target Ad Delivery by Opens and Unopens

To employ these next few tactics, it’s important you are able to segment your email subscriber list into audiences for remarketing.

First, divide your email list into people who have opened your email and those who have not. Then, further segment the open list into those who did and did not take action.

Target Subscribers Who Opened Your Email

Create a Facebook ad that looks similar to the email you sent for those who only read your email. You want to get this audience to take action, so change up the messages with the ad. For instance, if the goal of the email was to get white paper downloads, then offer the same white paper in your Facebook ad, but write a message or ad copy that differs from your email.

If you’re an ecommerce store trying to get your customers to take advantage of a weekly 20%-off deal, show subscribers an ad that highlights the promotion and encourages them to take action.

Sierra Trading Post created a Facebook offer with the same deal as their email.

sierra trading post facebook ad

Sierra Trading Post made the same offer in a Facebook ad as they did via email.

With this custom audience, exclude people who have already purchased or downloaded an offer.

Target Subscribers Who Didn’t Open Your Email

For the subscribers who didn’t even open your email, wait a few days and then target them with a Facebook ad. Since they haven’t read the email, show them the same message. This helps your company stay in front of your audience.

#3: Segment Subscribers by Purchase

If you have an ecommerce website, a great way to increase the lifetime value of a customer is to cross-promote and/or upsell related products.

Amazon does this brilliantly. The website is always showing their shoppers similar products, bundled products or other products previous customers bought. Their goal is to get people to buy more products that are relevant to what they are viewing.

amazon suggested products

Amazon is constantly promoting multiple products to their customers.

Utilize Facebook carousel ads to highlight multiple products that provide additional value for previous customers. Show products that fit with items they’ve already purchase. So if they bought dog treats, then show them dog food or dog toys.

facebook carousel ads example

Use Facebook carousel ads to promote additional products to your customers.

Look for creative ways to divide your audience for the purpose of upselling or cross-promoting other products they would find useful.

Depending on your business goals, consider segmenting your customers by type of products, purchase amount, purchase date and frequency of purchases. Then target a carousel ad to each audience.

#4: Reach Out to Disengaged Audiences

Do you have a list of people who haven’t opened your emails in quite a while? Re-engage your audience with a good Facebook ad.

These people are disengaged for a reason. Perhaps they’re not receiving enough value from your emails, and choose not to open them.

Southwest Airlines used an ad to remind their Denver customers to book a flight.

southwest airlines facebook ad

Southwest used an ad to remind disengaged customers in Denver to book a flight.

Not everyone is going to stay a subscriber forever. However, you can still make an effort to reactivate subscribers and bring them back into your funnel.

Craft an ad with an exclusive deal, promo code, extended trial or free piece of content. Target this email segment every two to three months, depending on your list size. Remember, it’s more efficient and less expensive to keep your customers than it is to find new ones.

#5: Take Advantage of Lookalike Audiences

Maximize the potential of your previous customers by creating lookalike audiences to scale your advertising efforts by finding an audience that’s similar to previous purchasers.

Upload your previous purchasersemails into Facebook to create lists of people who are similar to that audience.

Think of ways to segment your audience, depending on what you want to advertise. It may make sense to segment by age, gender or product type. Then upload your email segments into Facebook as a custom audience.

facebook custom audiences size

Examples of custom audiences.

Based on your new custom audience, make a lookalike audience to target potential new customers. The custom audiences of around 80,000 email subscribers turned into lookalike audiences of more than 2 million.

facebook lookalike audiences size

These lookalike audiences are much larger than the custom audiences they’re created from.

While it is more expensive to find new customers than keep the ones you have, lookalike audiences can help lower that cost. In essence, Facebook helps you qualify potential customers with this functionality.

Final Thoughts

There are a variety of ways to use Facebook custom audiences. Target Facebook ads to people who are already familiar with your brand, segment email lists to show highly relevant ads, cross-promote and upsell products to past purchasers, re-engage with audiences and use lookalike audiences to find new customers

When you reach out to your email segments via Facebook ads, you increase visibility, engagement and the value you bring to your current and potential customers.

What do you think? Have you used Facebook ads in tandem with your email marketing? What tactics have worked best for you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

how to create facebook ads with emails

Tips for creating Facebook ads with emails.

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