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The Step-by-Step Guide to Facebook Ads Recovery

June 10, 2020

Last month, Facebook hit a new record of 2.6 billion monthly users. Research is also showing that 47% of consumers have increased social media usage during the pandemic. With more people online, and data suggesting that PPC accounts are rebounding after the initial impact of COVID-19, it’s time to start thinking about your strategy for reactivating Facebook advertising.

We can’t predict when the pandemic will end or when the economy will rebound, but we do know how to prepare your online advertising accounts to respond to the current state and then how to ramp back up (when you’re ready). Today, I’ll be focusing on Facebook advertising, and here's what I'll cover:

  • How to prioritize your spend for ROI today
  • Tips to audit your existing Facebook ads account
  • Steps to scale your account back up
  • What to keep in mind as you scale

If you read my previous blog post on Google Ads recovery, you’ll notice that the steps to Facebook ads recovery follow a similar process—but just because the steps look similar doesn’t mean the details are. As an advertiser, you know that these are two really different platforms.

So let’s get started with the Facebook-specific account recovery.

Prioritize your spend for ROI today

Consumers are using social media more during the pandemic, and this shift in behavior has led to a record-breaking active user count on Facebook, which is evident in their Q1 earnings report.

Facebook daily active users bar graph

Image source

While active user counts grow, advertising revenue has declined.

Facebook revenue bar graph

Image source

The opposite trendlines in active user count and revenue shows us that advertisers are pulling back their investment in Facebook advertising as they navigate this time—which is a common trend across advertising platforms.

However, while ad spend is reduced and user activity has increased, advertisers are seeing a reduction in their cost KPIs during this time. This trend is beginning with a decrease in CPM (cost per one-thousand impressions)—we’re seeing a 35% reduction within our customer base. In tandem with CPM, CPA (cost per acquisition) is decreasing for advertisers; we’ve seen a 23% decrease in CPA.

Facebook CPA YoY

So what does this mean? It means that if you’re able to continue advertising on Facebook during this time, you can generate more results from your investment today.

While the current trends and uncertainties are outside of our control, let’s focus on what advertisers can control during this time—the actions you take in your account to maximize ROI from your ad spend today.

Use this checklist to identify quick-win opportunities in your account.

checklist to optimize your Facebook ad account

Once you feel like your account is in good health in its current state, let’s shift your focus toward ramping your account back up.

To reinforce the importance of these next few steps, let’s use a quick analogy to running a marathon.

Say you ran a marathon six months ago, and since then, you’ve decreased your weekly mileage by 70%. Now, you’ve decided you’re ready to take on another marathon. Would you be prepared to complete this marathon at the same or better time if you tried to tomorrow?

Highly unlikely. You would need to take the time to check in on your current fitness level and devise a plan to scale your mileage back up to run well in your marathon.

marathon running image

The same process goes to ramping your Facebook advertising spend backup—you should check in on your current state and devise a methodical plan. These next steps will walk you through the crucial steps to ensuring that you can scale up your Facebook advertising while maintaining (or even improving) your account’s benchmarks and KPI performance.

Check in on your Facebook ads foundation

The first step in this process is auditing your account foundation and making sure you’re following current best practices.

The key components in this phase are:

  • Accurate conversion tracking
  • Campaign objectives
  • Conversion event and optimization settings
  • Creative excellence
  • Adherence to best practices

Let’s talk more about what you need to check in on these components.

1. Conversion tracking

I listed this step first because conversion tracking is pivotal to your success with Facebook ads. Why? Because conversion tracking tells the algorithm what success looks like in your account. Having accurate conversion tracking allows you to provide the signals that Facebook needs to optimize the delivery of your ads toward your objective and goals.

To get started, you need to confirm that your pixel is firing properly. To review your status, navigate to the events manager.

Facebook account events manager

And within the data sources section, you should look for an active signal, like this (in yellow):

Facebook data sources section

Once you’ve confirmed that your pixel is firing, navigate to “custom conversions” and audit your existing conversion actions.

auditing conversions checklist for Facebook account recovery

After laying out all of your current conversion actions, you should ask yourself:

  • Are there any conversion actions currently being counted that aren’t valuable?
  • Does the current set up match the business value of that action?
  • Are there any missing conversion events that should be tracked?

Use your audit to prioritize any changes you need to make to your conversion tracking moving forward.

2. Campaign objectives

While conversion tracking tells Facebook what success looks like in your account, your objectives tell Facebook what your goal is (AKA what you’re looking for the algorithm to accomplish for you). When it comes to delivering to your selected goal, I can confidently say that the Facebook algorithm is a great listener—which is why selecting the right objective is important.

Facebook campaign objectives examples

Facebook’s options for objectives when setting up your campaign

As you can see above, Facebook offers a wide range of options for advertisers to select depending on their goal. While reviewing your existing campaign objectives, you should look for alignment with your marketing funnel and goals.

diagram of a marketing funnel

Not only should your objective be aligned with your marketing journey, but it should also line up with your business goal in each stage. To help you get started, here are a few examples of objectives pairings.

campaign objectives examples for Facebook account recovery

While each business is unique with different objectives and goals, this should help guide you as you check in on the strength of your current objective selections.

3. Conversion event and optimization setting

The final piece to equipping the algorithm with the information it needs to deliver to your goals are your conversion event and optimization for ad delivery selections.

While conversion tracking lays the groundwork for information gathering, the conversion event tells the algorithm the key indicator for success in your ad set. And your optimization for ad delivery selection informs the algorithm how to optimize ad delivery according to these signals and objectives.

Just as you did with objectives, use this time to audit your current settings and ensure that they are in line with your goals.

For more on your objectives and settings, check out Facebook Campaign Objectives: What Every Advertiser Needs to Know.

4. Ad creative excellence

Your ad creative can make or break your Facebook advertising success. If your ad creative isn’t scroll-stopping, you’ll never have the opportunity to engage your target audience to take action on your ad.

Take this time to audit your existing ad creative and understand where you can improve to achieve creative excellence. Here’s how to get started:

  • Limit the text in your ad creative: Images with less than 20% text perform better and are favored by Facebook. Use Facebook’s text overlay tool to review your ads.
  • Use video/animation in your creative: Video is proven to drive higher engagement than static ads. Learn four ways to turn still images into video here.
  • Optimize your creative for different placements and devices: User behavior and content consumption is different across placements and devices. Review Facebook’s documentation on asset customization.
  • Optimize your video creative for sound off viewing:  Studies show 85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound. Include captions for users viewing with sound on or off.

For more on ad creative best practices and examples, check out these resources:

5. Current best practices

While I reviewed the foundational best practices in the first four steps, this stage should be the cherry on top for your Facebook account.

Facebook account best practices

Okay, now that we’ve reviewed what to do now and how to check in on your current foundation, it’s time to prepare to ramp up.

Prepare your Facebook advertising account for ramping back up

Once you’ve confirmed that your account structure is correct and up-to-date, there are three steps to preparing for ramping up. You’ll need to:

  1. Review performance
  2. Assess the competitive landscape
  3. Review your recent changes

Let’s go over why each of these are so important and how to prep your account.

1. Review performance

Whether you’re preparing to increase your spend or not, you should be reporting on where your Facebook ads account stands today and how that’s evolved during the pandemic. As a spreadsheet-loving marketer, I can get carried away in this stage—pulling every metric possible and plotting each and every trend. This isn’t the best use of my time or yours. At the end of the day, we want to tell a clear story of how performance has evolved on Facebook. To accomplish this, I’d recommend focusing your initial analysis on the core platform metrics:

How has spend evolved:

  • Average daily spend

How are prospects engaging with your ads:

  • Average click-through rate (CTR)
  • Average engagement rate
  • Average conversion rate (CVR)

How have your costs evolved based on new trends:

  • Average cost per click (CPC)
  • Average cost per action (CPA)

By grouping and comparing these KPIs over time, you can start telling the story of how your account has evolved. To help you dig in further and analyze your Facebook advertising results, check out these resources:

2. Assess the competitive landscape

As you review the changes you’ve made and how performance has evolved, you should look at how your competitive landscape may have impacted your delivery. You can use the Facebook ad library to search your competitors, see their offers, and review their most recent ad activity.

Facebook Ads Library example

Here’s an example of what it looks like if you search Instacart.

While your direct competitors’ strategies have an impact on your performance, it’s also important to note that you’re competing for ad slots with all advertisers that overlap with your targeting. And while you prepare for your Facebook ads recovery, keep in mind that other advertisers are doing the same. As advertisers ramp their spend back up, competition in the auction is likely to increase. This means that the drop in CPM (shown earlier) is likely to revert, making it crucial that you follow the right steps to your account recovery during this period to maximize ROI.

3. Review your recent changes

Google Ads makes this stage a bit easier for advertisers—with labels and change history, you can quickly review your most recent and significant account changes. While you can’t access a change history on Facebook, you can look at how your account makeup has evolved. Get started by adjusting your date range with a comparison.

Facebook account recent changes

Here, you should be looking for newly paused campaigns or ad sets and significant changes in spend. As you identify the largest changes, ask yourself a few leading questions:

Was this change applied because your campaign is limited by budget?

  • If so, you should consider reverting the change to enable greater freedom in ad delivery as your budgets increase.
  • For example, you may want to re-enable an ad set that was performing to your CPA goals but paused due to limitations in budget.

Was this change implemented because it was an outlier in performance?

  • If so, you should break these changes out based on the distance from your average KPI.
  • For example, you may want to re-enable an ad set that had a 5% higher CPA than your account average, while keeping an ad set with a 40% higher CPA paused.

At this stage in your account recovery, let’s review what we’ve discussed so far:

  • Optimizing your account for ROI today
  • Reviewing your account foundation
  • Preparing your account for ramping up spend

That means we’ve reached the final step of this process: actually ramping up your spend.

Ramping up your Facebook ads account

This might be the final step in the process, but that doesn’t mean it’s as easy as boosting your spend and getting back to normal. There are few more things you need to do in order to ramp up spend:

  • Understand the spend growth in your budget: For example, if your monthly budget was $10,000 and you’re looking to grow to $50,000—your average daily spend will need to scale from $322 to $1,612. The level of scale you’re planning for will drive your next steps.
  • Review and revert the appropriate changes to your account: As noted above, as you are scaling spend, you should review recent changes and determine which should be reverted or re-introduced as you ramp back up.
  • Start by increasing your campaign/ad set’s budget: Depending on whether you’re using CBO (campaign budget optimization) or not, your budget allocation will happen at either the campaign or ad set level.  Based on the growth of your budget and allocation across your account, you should map out where and how you’ll increase your budgets.
  • Set yourself up to scale: Increasing your spend isn’t as easy as simply increasing your budgets. You need to check in on your account to ensure you’re set up for scale.

Here are a few key ways you can set your account up for scale:

  • Automatic placements: Allow the Facebook delivery system to make the most of your budget.
  • Scalable audience size: Constraining your audience size will impact your ability to increase spend and maintain performance as you scale. Strive to have an audience in between specific and broad, and avoid scenarios like this:
Facebook audience definition
  • Optimization events: The Facebook algorithm requires 50 optimizations events in a 7-day period to achieve proper learning and reach optimal delivery. As you look scale spend, do a quick check-in on your ad sets:
Facebook optimization events
  • CBO (campaign budget optimization): Facebook recommends using CBO for optimal delivery of your advertising budget. Consider testing CBO if you haven’t yet.

What to expect during your ramp-up period

Communicating and setting clear expectations is extremely important as you navigate this ramp-up period—especially as you experience some disruptions to performance during this time. While setting expectations during this period, you should:

  • Prepare for the learning period: Keep in mind that it will take time for your account to learn and scale back up to optimal delivery at this new level of spend. You can learn more about navigating the learning period here.
  • Closely monitor results: Track and report on performance regularly as you work through this ramp-up period.
  • Watch for saturation: If your spend is increasing at a faster rate than your audience size, you’ll begin to see your ad frequency increase. Keep a close eye on your ad performance to avoid ad fatigue as you scale.

Follow these key steps to ramp up your Facebook ads account

Getting your Facebook ads account back up and running will take time, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Follow these steps to ramp your Facebook ads account back up when it’s ready:

  1. Prioritize your spend for ROI today
  2. Audit Facebook ads account foundation
  3. Review recent performance and changes
  4. Apply measures to increase your spend

As the trends continue to evolve, we’re here to provide strategic guidance and resources for navigating online advertising during this time and beyond. For more information, you can visit our COVID-19 resource page and stay up to date with our blog and podcast for new content posted daily.

Kristina Simonson

Kristina Simonson

Kristina Simonson is a digital marketing specialist at WordStream and is in charge of managing our own paid search and paid social accounts. When she’s not busy driving leads, she enjoys traveling, running, and adventuring for the best margarita in town.

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