4 Advanced Facebook Ad Hacks For Small Budgets - Social Media Explorer
4 Advanced Facebook Ad Hacks For Small Budgets
4 Advanced Facebook Ad Hacks For Small Budgets

I’m a huge fan of how easy Facebook has made it to advertise on their platform. You can create a campaign with zero experience and have it submitted to Facebook Ad Approvers within minutes. It’s truly a powerful time we live in.

Want to know what’s not amazing? The fact that there are some incredibly profitable elements that 99% of Facebook Advertisers don’t know about. In this post, I’m going to help you:

  • Find the ads that work best for you
  • Find the audience segments that work best for you
  • Spend your money in the smartest, most strategic way possible
  • Improve your interest targeting

With these tips, you’ll be able to eliminate the unprofitable parts of your campaigns, find the hidden gems, and massively improve your targeting.

Split Test Your Ads for Maximum Profit

Want to run the same campaign but double your results? Then you better be split testing your ads. The visual nature of Facebook can cause one ad to perform very differently from another ad.1The above screenshot is a 7-day period from an ad set using all the same targeting for the same product. The only difference between ads A, B, and C is the image itself.

The results are three ads that performed incredibly different:

  • Ad A: Photo of a model wearing the product: 5.0% CTR & $4.74 CPA
  • Ad B: Photo of the product against white background: 5.4% CTR & $10.01 CPA
  • Ad C: Split photo of model & product: 3.0% CTR & $6.65 CPA

Had I just launched one ad (Ad B), my CPA would end up being more than double my best ad!

Want to find the perfect combination of ads that will give you the lowest CPA and highest profit? Here’s how we do it at Search Scientists:

  • Start with at least five images per ad set.
  • Write at least two ad texts
  • Write at least two headlines
  • From here, you’ll have 5 x 2 x 2 = 20 ads.

Check your Facebook Reporting every 24 hours, and begin pausing ads with the lowest performing combinations.

It takes time to optimize this way, but you can see from the example, the results can be incredible if you take the time to create ads in this manner.

Segment Your Reporting Data

When it comes to optimizing paid traffic accounts, I like to follow a simple (and fairly obvious) rule: Do more of what works, and do less of what doesn’t work.

 It’s a simple principle that can have a massive impact in your Facebook Ads Account when applied consistently.


Let’s say we had a target of $75 cost per website conversion in the above campaign. When we open up the data for the campaign, we see a $106 CPA, should we give up and pause the campaign? Not without digging deeper!

Navigate to Reports > Breakdown. Here, you can discover the easiest way to find opportunity in your account. Turn off the poor performing areas, and allocate the budget towards the profitable parts of your account. In the example above, I’d be turning off several age groups, and would instantly be at my goal CPA.


Other great questions you can answer with the “breakdown” tab on Facebook reports

  • Age (What age is connecting with your ads?)
  • Gender (What gender is buying your products?)
  • Age & Gender (Is there a combination that is most profitable? Maybe 18-24 year old guys aren’t fans of the product, but 18-24 year old women are)
  • Country / Region (What geographic region is most expensive to advertise in?)
  • Placement (Do my ads work better on mobile, desktop, or right-hand side?)

When you begin exploring the inner workings of your account, you’ll start to discover that campaign-level summaries don’t tell the whole story.

Build Campaign Priority Lists

When it comes to Facebook Ads, not all campaigns are created equally.

There are campaign strategies that should receive more of your attention and budget, and other campaigns that should be created only after developing a strong foundation.

Advanced marketers develop Campaign Priority Lists to allocate their funds to the best strategies first. Before you approach challenging campaigns, be sure to capitalize on low-hanging fruit first.

So where should you begin?

Top Priority: Users Who Are in Buy Mode

Targeting Strategy: Retargeting Product Viewers

After you installed your custom audience pixel on all of your pages, you can begin creating segmented retargeting lists. People who have already viewed your product pages have already completed all the hard work to make it there. They found your content, opted in, and viewed your product. These people are ready to buy. Give them a gentle nudge to convert, and you’ll start Facebook Ads with a high converting, low-cost masterpiece of a campaign.

Pro Tip: Serve these ads with a high bid 72 hours after viewing a product page. 

Mid-Priority: Users Who Know Your Brand

Targeting Strategies: Retargeting Website Viewers, Fans, Email Lists, Friends of Your Fans Who are Fans of Competitors

After targeting product viewers, let’s take one step up to a mid-priority campaign strategy and capture the users who already know about your brand.

Imagine you sell wedding invitations. A soon-to-be bride may look at seven different websites in a week. Just because they left your site without converting doesn’t mean they’re not ready to buy. Creating campaigns to target users who already know your brand but haven’t purchased yet is another low-cost way to capture the attention of users deep in the sales funnel.

Low-Priority: Users Who Have Never Heard of You [Interest Targeting]

After you have patched holes in the deeper sections of your sales funnel using the high and mid-priority targeting strategies, it’s time to open up the floodgates of traffic.

Targeting users that haven’t heard of you or previously looked at your products are less likely to convert than the previous campaigns I mentioned. However, that doesn’t mean you can build wildly successful campaigns targeting completely cold traffic with interest targeting.

To make interest targeting successful, remember to advertise appropriately. Someone who hasn’t searched for your product may not be ready to take out their credit card and spend money. However, if your target appropriately, you may be able to add value to their lives without asking them to buy anything. At this stage of targeting, you’ll want to use engaging landing pages and utilize a sales funnel to nurture the lead over time. This way, when the person is ready to convert, they do it with you.

Campaign Priority Wildcard: Lookalike Targetting

When it comes to Facebook ads, one of my favorite campaigns to run is a lookalike campaign. It works like this:

-Person completes certain action on your site (purchases, adds to cart, is on email list, etc..)

-Facebook then finds demographic data about that person and finds other people are similar

The reason these lookalike campaigns are a wildcard is simple: Facebook Lookalike Targeting isn’t perfect. For example, if you upload a sample list of 1,000 people, Facebook may spit back 2.5 million lookalikes.

When Facebook provides you with a lot of potential lookalikes, combine it with another targeting method. You can target fans of “Social Media Explorer”, only if they are on my lookalike list. Stacking these two kinds of targeting allows you to zoom in on the precise person you’re looking for.

Leverage Boolean Operators

One of the biggest, most impactful mistakes I see when it comes to Facebook Ads is a train of thought you have surely practiced.

Let’s do a little experiment and fire up the audience builder in Facebook.

Suppose I want to target runners who like technology.

First, I type in runners:

Wow, 33,000,000 people!
Wow, 33,000,000 people!

Now let’s narrow it down by adding the interest “technology”:

Uh... Wait a second...
Uh… Wait a second… 

Wait a second. How did the audience size increase?  Wasn’t narrowing down my targeting by finding only the subgroup of runners who also like technology?

Unfortunately, no you weren’t.

Instead, we’re targeting people that like to go running, as well as a completely separate group of people that like to like technology.

This principle is so important when creating your ads, and it’s worth repeating for clarity. You are targeting two separate groups: Technology followers are your first group, and runners are your second group. There might be some overlap, but, for the most part, these are separate buckets. This is why the audience size increases when we add new interests.

Think about it: If you’re targeting a subgroup, the more interests you add – the audience size should get smaller. It doesn’t. The more interests you add, the larger your audience gets.

I typed in even more interests, and my audience only grew:


Facebook hides this little fact from most of its documentation. When selecting interests, you are using an “OR” variable. In the example above, we’re targeting runners OR fans of technology. We are not targeting “People who are runners AND like technology readers.”

So how can you improve your targeting, zooming to the audience you truly want to target?

The first is the segmentation of your campaigns. In this example we’ve been using, you would create one campaign targeting “surfers” and another targeting “technology.” It’s not perfect, but the goal here is to determine which interest is more profitable for you and optimize accordingly.

The second way to serve ads to the audience you intend is to use the Facebook Ads API.

If you’re not a developer, have no fear. There are many applications that handle this for you. Ad Espresso and Qwaya are two of the big names in this space. At Search Scientists, we use Ad Espresso, and it allows us to hit the center of the Venn Diagram for our clients.


See in the example above, I’m using the “and” variable. This time, I’m targeting people who are interested in running AND technology.

This time, when I enter all of those extra targeting methods, my audience zooms into the smallest level, only 6,000 users.


With the ideal targeting your ads will take off like never before. It’s all about finding the most ideal audience possible.

This is a repost from 2015, check the original here!

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About the Author

Michael Erickson Facchin
Michael is the head of Paid Traffic Optimization at SearchScientists.com. He loves rising above technical jargon to be a reliable source of practical marketing strategy and tips for small businesses to sell more online. As an enthusiast of all things PPC, he blogs, podcasts, and creates videos for the Search Scientists Blog. When not at his computer, he can be found snorkeling, surfing, and enjoying life at his home in the US Virgin Islands.

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