Optimizing Facebook Ads with Andrea Vahl

In this week’s episode, we are joined by Andrea Vahl. She is a social media consultant and speaker, and the co-author of Facebook Marketing All-in-One For Dummies. Her newest book is Facebook Ads Made Simple.

As a social media consultant, speaker, author, and standup comedian, Andrea Vahl has mastered the art of strategizing Facebook and Google Ads. She uses a trial-and-error approach in every ad and makes sure that she’s nimble in learning the new features and techniques she can utilize for better ROI.

It was an insightful conversation where we dived deep into how we can further maximize the use of Facebook Ads:

– How Andrea started off her career as a Facebook Ads expert.

– Maximizing the Facebook Ads Manager

– Best performing type of Ads

– Tracking and measuring Ads through Facebook Pixel

– iOS updates and Facebook’s rebound off of it

With so many businesses transitioning online, starting off with Facebook is surely something that you might want to consider, so be sure to check out this week’s episode!

Visit Andrea’s website: https://www.andreavahl.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AndreaVahlinc/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/andreavahl/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/andreavahl/

Katie Brinkley 0:01

Hi friends. I’m Katie Brinkley, and you’re listening to Rocky Mountain marketing, with nearly two decades helping business owners, consultants and coaches with their digital marketing. I know that social media can be an incredible tool to grow your business, when you know how to do it the right way. And that’s what we’re going to do today, I teach you how to navigate the world of entrepreneurship and digital marketing. And hopefully you’ll grow your business with a few great tips you wouldn’t have known otherwise, and maybe even discover a great local business you love. Let’s dive into today’s episode. Welcome back to another episode of Rocky Mountain marketing. I am so excited for today’s guest one because she just lives right up the road up in Boulder, Colorado, but too I’ve been following her kind of stalking her online. I’ve seen her speak at events. She is an incredible Facebook ads and Google Ads strategist. My guest today is Andrea vahl. She is a social media consultant and speaker and is the co author of Facebook marketing all in one for dummies. Her newest book is Facebook ads Made Simple. She speaks and trains all over the world and has appeared in top lists, like entrepreneur.com inc.com. And she’s also a pretty funny gal. She is a stand up comedian. So Andrea, thank you so much for joining me on today’s episode. Thanks, Katie. I’m so glad you’re here. And you and I had the opportunity to get to connect all in San Diego, at Social Media Marketing World. Yeah. And we had a lot of fun together and talked about skiing and living in Colorado. And you know what it feels like to be a Colorado entrepreneur. But we’re here to talk some Facebook ads, because I know that this is a huge pain point for a lot of not just, you know, entrepreneurs who are trying to run their own ads, but even some social media marketers, social media managers who are like, look, I cannot figure out this whole Facebook ads thing. It doesn’t seem like it’s working for me anymore. And you’re here to help us. So thank you again, so much for joining me today.

Andrea Vahl 2:03

Yeah, great to be here. I know always lots to talk about with Facebook ads. Zach, he

Katie Brinkley 2:09

keeps us on our toes. I mean, like, every time I feel like I have something figured out. He has to go and throw us a you know, a little curveball there.

Andrea Vahl 2:16

Yeah, yeah. And they change like the buttons around, they change the language of things. I just saw something about how all placements was now called, like, exposure plus or something. Like, it’s like, and they’re different on different accounts. So you know, sometimes even the screenshots don’t work well, because your account might look different than what what someone’s showing. And it changes weekly, daily. Yeah.

Katie Brinkley 2:41

Well, and you know, just going off of that list, I mean, let’s dive right in here. So tell us really quick, you wrote the book on Facebook ads literally twice. So tell us a little bit how you got involved with being this, this Facebook ads expert that you are,

Andrea Vahl 2:58

yeah, I started well, it kind of was kind of my own realization that there weren’t the types of blogs out there that I wanted to see. And so what I did was 13 years ago, created a blog all about it was then it was like all about social media marketing. And then I’ve slowly have narrowed it down as everything has gotten more and more complex, to just really focusing mostly on the ad space. But the Yeah, I really wanted something step by step. And I and I wanted something funny, too. So I started my started my career blogging as a character, grandma, Mary, Mary’s social media entertainer. So that was super fun. And then yeah, and just have continued my comedy, comedy stuff.

Katie Brinkley 3:47

Well, Andrew, I’ve actually also had Jen Herman, on the podcast before and she talks about Instagram, she got her start, you know, being an author and an expert from blogging also. And I think that when you’re a blogger, you have to do a lot of research. And yeah, it shows when you show up consistently, you know that and start finding your niche. Right, you have a lot to say. So I love that you’re here joining us today. And you know, when you spoke at Social Media Marketing World in San Diego, last March, you talked very high level ads strategy, and I want to get there on today’s episode. But let’s just kind of start with a little bit of the basics for some people who are like, oh, yeah, well, I run ads, I boost posts. Yeah. Oh, talk to us just a little bit about the differences between boosting a post and running an ad through the ads manager.

Andrea Vahl 4:44

Yeah, for sure. And boosting a post is like, kind of Facebook’s easy button. You know, it’s just like, they make it seem easy. They try and make they try and like pare down some of the things that you have available to you. And so it’s sort of faced Look, ads light. And it’s not a bad thing. I also will boost posts from time to time. But typically they’re just not optimized correctly. And you are, if you don’t know what you’re doing, most of the time, you might be wasting your money because Facebook tries to optimize some things, and it doesn’t show you all the options. And you really do need to dive a little bit deeper, and use the ads manager to optimize correctly and your ads can really perform so much better because I have so many people who come and say, Yeah, I’ve advertised before, and it just never worked or never gotten me anything. And what you’re what’s happening is you’re maybe not tracking the right things, you’re not optimizing around the right things, you’re not maybe using the Facebook pixel in the right way. And you just end up kind of throwing your money down the drain. So it’s better to optimize and track with the Facebook Ads Manager.

Katie Brinkley 5:59

So And with that, too, like, like you said that the boosting of posts is kind of like the easy way like, alright, let’s just go ahead and see what happens here. Yeah, really, you’re without you mentioned the pixel without having that pixel, you’re not going to be able to retarget those people to really learn about the audience of people that are coming to your your website. So you’re kind of missing a huge opportunity, when you don’t have that pixel installed. Right? For sure. So was, if somebody’s saying, Okay, well, wait a second, you keep seeing like ads manager and I, I think mine’s called, like creator studio, or like, so what do you

Andrea Vahl 6:36

hear? Yeah, or the business suite? Or the? Or is it like business manager, and Facebook keeps adding all these different layers?

Katie Brinkley 6:44

And so didn’t necessarily want but they know, right? I

Andrea Vahl 6:47

know, they keep kind of make it easier, and they’re making it harder. So yeah, the business suite and Creator Studio is kind of more for scheduling things, it ties Facebook and Instagram together. And it’s, it’s kind of like sometimes you get into that back end area. But the ads manager is truly the place where just the ads live. And that’s, that’s, in my opinion, the best place to create your ads from because when you’re in the business suite, you’re still kind of creating like a boosted post, essentially. So you have to dive a little bit deeper into seeing all your ads and see that it’s the ads manager, and then the business manager, so people understand that it’s kind of like this umbrella that houses all the different ads accounts, you might have all the different pages you have. It’s kind of this umbrella around all of it. And it’s where you do things like domain verification, and get things you know, that’s you can see the pixels that you have, because you can have lots of different things all together. And that’s kind of the umbrella that they all live under. So it’s kind of confusing, but yeah, for sure, kind of compute is

Katie Brinkley 7:56

now super easy to navigate there, either. If you I mean, like So what So if someone’s listening right now, and they’re like, Alright, so how do I even get to this part of my account?

Andrea Vahl 8:07

Yeah, the easiest way I tell people is going to business.facebook.com forward slash ads manager. And that will usually get you directly into the right place. Sometimes, depending on how you have some setups OBEDIA hadn’t set up the business manager before that, you know, it might kind of direct you somewhere else. But usually, that’s where you can get their straight shot.

Katie Brinkley 8:33

Yeah, and I think that, you know, it’s using ads manager, like you said, Andra, it allows you to really optimize every single dollar that you’re spending. And I guess like that, that leads me to like, a good question. With if someone’s listening right now. And they’re like, alright, so I don’t even know, like, how much money I should plan on spending on ads. Yeah, I mean, what is a good budget? And I mean, and we’re gonna get into the entire, like, kind of journey of an ad here. But what is a good, let’s say, monthly budget for somebody to have for Facebook ads?

Andrea Vahl 9:08

Yeah, that is like one of the top questions that I get all the time. And it really is going to depend on so many things like what is the price point of your product? What niche Are you in what cost of goods sold? Might you have like as far as like what you know, I mean, if you’ve got a digital product, you can spend more on your marketing efforts, that if you don’t, you know if it doesn’t have a real like, you know, a lot of cost to running it versus someone who has inventory and has like a physical storefront, then you’ve got a whole different, you know, equation that you have to put together to figure out what your marketing budget is. So, you know, a lot of times people the suggested marketing budget is 10 to 20% of your, of your sales. So, you know that that could be a starter in place for you. And then you could say, well, let’s just test things first. And so, you know, with tests, it depends a little bit on what you’re advertising, are you advertising like something for free, or you’re trying to go right to the sale. And, in general, I recommend people try and offer something for free to build their list, and then do the sales and retargeting on the back end of that. So, you know, that way you’ve got, you’re kind of siphoning off Facebook users, and Instagram users into your email list, which is kind of essentially something you own, and can continue to follow up and market to those people ongoing. So you’re really getting a tangible benefit from your marketing. And and then you can kind of see, okay, are these people buying? Let’s What, what’s the cost per lead that at that point, and all of that, all of that type of stuff? So, yeah, so that that’s kind of like bigger picture. In general, I’m, I’m kind of saying, if you’ve never started Facebook ads before, I would say, start by testing a couple of different audiences and a couple of different images. And maybe you’re running anywhere from 10 to 10 to $50 per audience per day, you know, so you might, you might just dip your toe in the water with that kind of test. And, and make sure you’ve got the measurements in place to know which audience in which image and which, you know, which ad is really doing the best for you. Well, and

Katie Brinkley 11:37

Andrew, that brings up a really good point, too. I think that a lot of people say okay, well, I’m just gonna go ahead and push out this ad this, this singular ad with this image and this caption. Yeah, and having a little bit of variety does allow you to kind of test to see what’s what’s resonating with your audience. And I don’t, maybe I’m just off, but there’s always the one round like, man, we’ll just go ahead and see how this one does. I’ll just throw it in at the end. And now we have the one that like does the best, right?

Andrea Vahl 12:06

I know, it’s so crazy. And I guess wrong all the time. I’m always like, Oh, this is totally going to be the winner. I love this ad. And that’s why you have to test and try different things. And I regularly will see a like a 50% cost cut or, you know, decrease in costs between audiences and images sometimes. So, you know, if you just try one thing, and it’s kind of not the best, you might think, well, that that was too expensive for me. But if you try multiple things, you’ll likely come out with something that is way more in the right ballpark for what you want to spend on a lead or a sale.

Katie Brinkley 12:45

Yeah, and I think that too. So you mentioned having these different Id like these different ads that can go out. And sometimes it’s the one that surprises you. What What have you seen as far because I mean, carousels used to be like a huge push for carousel ads. Like those are the top performing. Yeah, I’ve definitely like my ads. I’ve definitely seen kind of a dip with carousel ads. What do you think if someone’s like, Okay, should I do a carousel? Should I do a video? Should I do just single image? I do a graphic? Yeah. What kind of ads do you think are performing the best right now?

Andrea Vahl 13:19

Yeah, so the so you know, in general, the ads that I’ve seen do the best across the board are usually single image ads. Now I have tested so I recently had a client who we tried this really cool GIF, where, you know, she liked doing all kinds of different movements. And it looked awesome, and I thought, oh my gosh, this is gonna be great. And it did not perform as well as a single image. And, and I was kind of surprised by that. Now I have another client who is in the E commerce space. And we’ve got, we had some cingulum images, he sells men’s shirts. And so we had some single images of men’s shirts. And then we had a gift where it was like quick, like all the different shirts, like all like, you know, not even that much movement there. But the gifts have outperformed the single image so again, it’s all about the testing and kind of like really seeing what works for you and making sure you’ve got that tracking in place. So

Katie Brinkley 14:19

with and I want to move into the pixel tracking here but so with that, with E commerce so let’s say someone’s listening right now and they sell coffee, and so they they sell it in person but you can also buy the coffee bags online, through their their store through their Shopify store. Have you seen good ROI for some of these e commerce brands where they you can just buy directly from Facebook and you don’t actually have to go over to a website.

Andrea Vahl 14:48

Perfect. Yeah, so I haven’t done quite as much of the like Facebook stores as much as the like a Shopify store for example, or you know, just general ecommerce on a site So I don’t have as much experience with that, I will say that it is hard to be profitable. At the lower price points, you really want to have either like, kind of some, like, ways that you upsell. So if you’re selling one bag of coffee, very hard to be really high positive, or RO, as on that return on adspend on the on that unless you’ve got some sort of order bumps, or you’ve got some sort of ways to increase the cart costs, or it’s some sort of subscription model, you know, that can be a little bit more profitable. But if you’re talking like, so like an author who’s got a $15 book, or a bag of coffee, that’s 15 bucks, a little more challenging to get your money out of, especially when you’ve got like goods that you’re balancing that against as well. So usually you kind of are hoping to have at least like a cart value of like $100 or more, and then you’re a little bit easier to have high profitability.

Katie Brinkley 16:02

Well, and so I want to, I want to get into the Facebook pixel here, because we’ve mentioned it a few times. And it really, I think that the Facebook pixel, and I mean, like in Google Pixel two, like it’s a great way for you to continue talking to people that you think are your ideal client and customer. So just explain really quick what the Facebook pixel is, and how you can use it to measure your ads.

Andrea Vahl 16:28

Yeah, yeah, basically, it’s just a little bit of code that you add to your website. And every advertising platform will have this type of code. In Google’s like tag, they call it tags, but it’s essentially code. It’s in Facebook, it’s a little bit of code. And that works for Facebook, and Instagram. If you’re advertising on Pinterest, if you’re advertising on LinkedIn, any of those sites will have a bit of code that will help you track. And then what you need to do is you put the installer code on your site one time, and then it’s continually tracking and you can read, it has kind of two jobs, you can you know, retarget, the audience who visits your website, and the other job that has is to measure the conversions. So you are then like making sure that you put the right additional pieces of code on your site, or, or within your shopping cart system to tell Facebook when a purchase has happened, or when someone has added something to the cart. So there’s, there’s different points that Facebook can track all along the way. And you’re responsible for making sure that that tracking is placed in the right spots, so that Facebook is sending the right signals back to the ads manager to say, yep, this particular ad, got someone to add it to the cart, then it got someone to purchase it or this particular ad, the person gave you their email address landed on the page that said, Hey, we’ve already given you the email address. So that means this is now a lead. So you have to set up that tracking correctly. So you’re giving the feeding the right information back to Facebook, or whatever ads platform you’re using. And that way you’re tracking in the ads in the reporting is going to be correct.

Katie Brinkley 18:18

See, and all these different tools that we’ve been talking about today, Andrea, I mean, like, it just goes to show you that like where you’re missing all the opportunities that you’re missing. Yeah, just by boosting it or by, okay, let’s say you do go through the ads manager, but you never installed the, you know, the pixel or all of the events after that. I mean, like, Facebook can be an incredible tool for you when you’re optimizing it and using all of the different features. I mean, I like to say this to like you can spend maybe, so I used to do a lot of media buys when I worked at the TV station, and one of the media buys we were doing was for billboards, and you think about a turbine, a billboard and is hoping that the right person drives by for the awareness. But with this, like with social media ads, you have the opportunity to get in front of the who you think is your ideal client customer, and then continue tracking them through the customer journey, right and you’re utilizing this Facebook pixel right?

Andrea Vahl 19:15

It’s It’s so incredible, so powerful. And the other thing is powerful about it is it Facebook is a creepy, creepy platform that tracks all of our activity. And now it knows like hey, this person is a shopper you know and we’re gonna like show this ad to this shopper person and and you know that there you can also leverage the fact that Facebook’s tracking all this stuff and and you know knows who likes to buy so it’s awesome.

Katie Brinkley 19:43

Well, and I want to get to the whole apple thing here too before we go, but I like to tell the story of the Billy razor. I don’t know if you’ve heard of the Billy razor. I’m not affiliated with them but I just like to share it because they did they did it right for me like as a consumer or they knew I was a woman. And they wanted me to use their their subscription model of a razor. So they probably were charging me me because I was using the Dollar Shave Club razor, you can target people that have similar interest to me Dollar Shave Club. So they wanted me just watched their video. And so I knew it was a video view. That was the main goal of this ad was just to get people to watch it. So I watched it. And then about a week later, I started seeing ads for them for me to actually go to their website and click, I’ll just go see how much this razor is everyone’s talking that it feels like you’re shaving with a marshmallow, which is a weird, you know, I’ve never thought about shaving with a marshmallow. But sure, I’ll go check it out and just see how much it is. And it was $12 a month, which was $4 a month more than Dollar Shave Club, like, Yeah, I’m good. Well, the next day, I saw an ad in my feed after visiting their site that said, What about if we gave you three months for free? And I was like, Okay, well, three months? Sure. I’ll just give it a try. Yeah. And it’s been three years and who uses the Billy razor every day? Yeah. I mean, like, and that’s where it took the pixel, you know, and using ads manager, it took me through the customer journey that I didn’t even know I needed to be on. Right. Exactly,

Andrea Vahl 21:17

exactly. And they, they know the pain points, and they can like they, you know, they’re, they’re able to see, and you can do things based on like, people who watch the video and been to the website, you know, that they know that you’re a pretty engaged person at that point. That’s why they can they’re not offering three months for free to every single person on the planet, maybe. I mean, maybe they’re I don’t think, you know, I think it’s smarter to really offer your your warmest, most interested, potential buyers, that kind of deal. And you can do that. And it’s, it’s so cool. I ended up buying stuff all the time off of Facebook. And it’s because they are really smart, and how they’re how the ads are showing up. I’m like, I keep seeing it. And then they, you know, provide different different pain points around it. And I’m like, yeah, actually, that is that is annoying. I will buy that, you know, and so yeah,

Katie Brinkley 22:12

well, and I think that to me, like that’s where you know, that with this whole apple thing that came out man was a year ago now that the latest OS iOS update, they made it so that you had to opt in to allow these websites to track you. And you and I both said, and maybe it’s because we’re marketers, but how much we appreciate being shown ads that we didn’t even know we wanted to see, you know, like, I’ll be shopping on Amazon, looking at sunglasses and oversized sunglasses or showing up in my Facebook. Yeah. Oh, yeah. I wanted to buy some sunglasses. Thanks for reminding me. But I mean, I like that. Yeah, Apple kind of change to change things up here. Talk to us just a little bit about that.

Andrea Vahl 22:53

Yeah. So the, the thing that happened is, you had to opt into tracking. And most people, it was something like 96% of people opted out, you know, because that was more of the default. And the way the language is written. It’s like, I’m people are like, No, I don’t want to be tracked, you know, people don’t like that idea. So what that means is now, if you’ve been to a website, you know, you’re you’re not then allowed to retarget, the people who have opted out of that, you’re also not, you’re not allowed to track things that they do on your website, like make a purchase. So now the ads reporting is going to be different. The it’s going to be lower because you’re not tracking those purchases. Also, your retargeting is going to not be a little bit more challenging. And the optimization is going to be a little bit worse, because they’re not like finding the people who are making those purchases, and then showing ads to the people who are more likely to purchase. So there’s a lot of things that happened last year, and that kind of messed up Facebook ads for a while now, I feel like it’s kind of been rebounding a little bit the first part of this year, I definitely found that fourth quarter is always challenging. So that was challenging that I think it was kind of a mess for a lot of last year. But I feel like it’s been rebounding a little bit with Facebook is now doing some kind of more predictive analysis on some of this. So you know, but it’s still and then plus, there’s something called the conversions API that tracks on the server side. And that helps because now you’re tracking like the actual purchase in your feed. Net that data back. So if you implement that convergence, API tracking, you’re going to get good data. So there’s some there’s some workarounds and there’s some improvements that I’ve seen in general, but it’s been challenging.

Katie Brinkley 24:48

Yeah. And I think that, you know, as it is funny, because there’s, whenever I open up a new app or whatever, it’s like, Hey, do you want to share this? And I’m always like, No, and I was like, Well wait, do I want to share Am I info with this app? Like I does cause me to pause now because I kind of want to see ads that are relevant to me in my feed. I’m going to be shown ads anyway. Yeah, right? Why not? Show me the ones that actually, I might actually buy from instead of like, I don’t know, men’s neckties? Yeah, you know. So, I guess it’s something to think about when you are, you know, as a consumer, you know, paying attention now, and final question here that I want to wrap up with. So, with Facebook, you are also allowed to advertise on Instagram. So thank you, Zack, for owning both of the two of the top five social media platforms. Now, do you recommend kind of having an entire different strategy for Facebook and Instagram? Or do you kind of just change up? You know, a little bit through the journey? Because I mean, you can make that selection, I think, yeah,

Andrea Vahl 25:49

yeah. Awesome. I definitely think it makes sense, especially because you can’t always see all the all the numbers in the reporting, the way you could before is to break apart your Instagram ad campaign and your Facebook ad campaign into separate campaigns. And the reason is, you may want to scale those differently. And you may want different creatives for that, because you have different options with the way your headline doesn’t really show up. And so it’s just more the text. So you want to you want to, you know, break those apart a little bit, so that you can see the different types of conversions. Because sometimes I’ve seen them for sure, even though you’re targeting the same audience on both platforms, they convert differently as well. So you can get different results. And you want to be able to know that for sure.

Katie Brinkley 26:41

Yeah, exactly. Well, and, you know, this has been such a great conversation. I feel like you and I could do like a two hour long. I know I can show you. Yes, it’s been absolutely incredible. I know that you have a course. You also do a one on one coaching. And then you also offer done for you ads, how is the best way for people to connect with you and learn more about what it is that you do online?

Andrea Vahl 27:05

Yeah, so just come to my site, Andrea of all.com and dra vhl.com. I’ve got my blog there. I’ve got information about the services. Got a little comedy there, too, if you want to have a little fun. So yeah, definitely head over there. And I’ve got a bunch of free resources too.

Katie Brinkley 27:24

Yeah, yeah, check out her website. There’s, there’s a wealth of knowledge. And I’ve read a number of her blogs are very informative, and will give you a great deep dive into this whole ads thing. Because ads can work for you no matter you know, kind of what your what your budget is starting out, but you just need to go in with a strategy. So, Andrea, thank you so much for joining me on today’s show.

Andrea Vahl 27:45

Yay. Thank

Katie Brinkley 27:46

you. Okay. Thanks so much for listening to this week’s episode of Rocky Mountain marketing. Make sure to subscribe so that you can continue navigating the world of entrepreneurship. And I’d love to hear from you. Please leave the show or review and connect with me on social media. You can find me on Instagram @iamkatiebrinkley, or connect with me on LinkedIn. And if you’re ready to start making some sales on social media, be sure to grab my free guide to selling in the DMS without being spammy. You can get that at Katie brinkley.com. Let’s keep taking your marketing to new heights.