How to Create More Effective Social Media Ads

marketing sales socialmedia Jun 19, 2020

6 min read

People hate ads. Anyone shocked by that? No? We thought so.

Marketers spend their lives creating ads and consumers spend their lives avoiding them. It’s the circle of life. 

But why is it that we as consumers have such a bad taste in our mouths about ads? We dug into that question, and found these five themes to be consistent:. 

  • Consumers don’t trust brands and, in turn, also distrust their ad messaging. 
  • Ads are too intrusive, inescapable, and noisy leading to ad fatigue.
  • Creative elements are of low-quality.
  • Consumers receive no added value from ads.
  • Advertisements boast values that the company isn’t associated with for the sake of receiving clicks.

The Fix: Create Smarter Ads

With such fickle and discerning customers, the need for ads that are superior is evident. 

Whatever platform you’re advertising on, Twitter, Google, Facebook, Instagram, etc., the following elements will make your ads more effective: 

  • Test multiple versions of an ad. That means trying out different versions of the ad copy and images and adjusting the target audience. When testing ads, create variations, see what’s working within a given timeframe (one day is enough!), and deactivate the ones not performing.

  • Use the “learn more” button. Ok, this one is Facebook-specific but important to note. When creating a Facebook ad, you have the option of including a call-to-action button; there are seven options, from “download” to “shop now.” Research has shown though that the “learn more” button receives the most engagement, 63% more.

  • Create a custom landing page. If your goal is to convert with your ad (sales, sign-ups, etc.), then you must have a destination to lead people to. The copy from the ad should carry over to the landing page that highlights product specs and benefits and has ONE call-to-action. If your ad leads to a general page or homepage with lots of menus and other products, it is much less likely you will generate conversions.

  • Mention prices upfront. Qualify customers before they click on your ad by including the price. This way you will ensure that the people comfortable with your pricing will most likely be the ones clicking through your ad, saving you pay-per-click costs.

  • Promote discounts. When a discount is mentioned in ad copy, people are 67% more likely to click on the ad. It doesn’t even have to necessarily be a sale; for example, if your annual subscription saves X-amount of money compared to paying month-to-month, mentioning that in your copy has a similar effect to including a discount.


Case Study

Alex runs a trendy online dress shop targeted at teenagers and young women. She’s created personas for each type of target customer and knows that the overall preferred social network is Instagram.


She wants to increase sales and has decided to run an ad campaign testing out two versions of ads. One features a promotional message “don’t miss our 50% off sale” and highlights the discounted price of the dress featured on the photo. The other ad features the new Spring collection with a message of “shop our newest Spring styles.” 


Alex focused on measuring the click-through rate and then the resulting conversions on her website. Her testing revealed that the promo ad received 60% more click-throughs and had a high conversion rate. This testing will save her time and money down the line since she has pinpointed what types of ads work well with her audiences.


Steps to Creating an Ad


  • Choose your target audience. Trying to appeal to all users of the internet doesn’t work. If you’ve been doing your marketing diligently, you should have created buyer personas that describe your ideal customers. Some important characteristics to note include age, interests, preferred social media platform, and geographic location. Target your ads to these people using images and language that will attract them. 

  • Do your research. Start with what you’re selling. Even though you should know your own product or service like the back of your hand, it’s always good to go back to square one and think about an outsider’s perspective. What are the features and benefits of your product? Is there anything notably special about it?

    And, of course, research your competitors. Learn what types of ads are standard in your industry and see what you can use for your own and what you can change in order to stand out. 

  • Determine a platform and budget. Step one revealed what social networks your target audience prefers. Now figure out the costs associated with each, return on investment, the benefits and drawbacks, and a total budget. Based on these findings, choose a social network or multiple ones!

  • Craft your message and image. Identify the goal of your campaign. Is it to make sales, inspire downloads, gather emails, etc.? With that goal in mind, determine the big idea, or theme, of your ad. This is that creative catch that will draw people in.

    Your theme can be visually represented by any of the following:

Graphic with a clear call-to-action
Stock photos
(an image that doesn’t have anything to do with the offer)
(looks like you took the photo yourself, but could also be a natural looking stock photo)
Image with quote overlay

  • Determine what you are measuring. Ask yourself what outcome you need to see for the ad to be considered successful and which performance indicators will tell you this information. Whatever platform you advertise on, you will have built-in ad management and tracking. If you’re running ads on multiple platforms, consider using a third-party tracking software to compare the multiple campaigns. It’s also a good idea to use tracking tokens on the links placed in your ads to measure engagement and conversions on your website as a result of an ad.

  • Release, track, analyze. As you let your ad out into the world, keep track of performance and note what changes you can make next time around. If you find that a particular ad is doing really well, recycle and reuse as much as you can. There’s no need to fix what isn’t broken.

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