Welcome to part 2 of our detailed guide to running Facebook ads that convert!
In this part our resident ad expert, Aoife McCleary takes a look at what makes incredible Facebook ad creative your audience can’t ignore.
If you’ve not yet read part one, then click here. If you have, then read on and enjoy!
Table of contents
- Images are extremely powerful
- The 6 jewels in the Facebook ad crown
- Image is everything
- Storytelling at a glance
- Photo specifics
- Making a good image better
- Wrapping up
Images are extremely powerful
Like, insanely so. And most of the time, you absorb them without even realizing it.
In fact, people can remember 65% of information that included an image over THREE days after they’ve seen it.
Don’t believe me? Do a little recollection test on yourself.
Think back to the last time you had a massive craving for something. Maybe a chocolate bar. Or a snack.
What triggered your relentless flaming desires for it?
By any chance was it the billboard you fleetingly glanced at while driving the kids to school two days before? Or the newspaper lying idly on your kitchen table?
It probably was, wasn’t it?
Well, it often is in my case.
I couldn’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve developed notions for something seemingly random I never eat. (I’m looking at you, olives.) Totally out of the blue. Or so I initially think.
And then eventually I’ll figure out that I spotted an image of them while peaking at someone else’s magazine over their shoulder on the Tube to work.
Without having even properly processed or registered what I was looking at it, the olives rolled their way into the back of mind where they stayed hidden for a while. Then boom. The cravings begin.
Of course, this is only my own personal experience. Maybe you’re more resilient and strong-willed than I. But anyway my point is… it just shows how impactful images can be on human behavior. And therefore how important they are.
Especially when you’re trying to build a brand and communicate your marketing message.
But realizing this is just the tip of the iceberg.
There’s plenty of other different variables that can lead to wasted time (and money) as you painstakingly trial and error your way to sales.
But that’s what we are here for. To help.
And this three-part series is all about tackling your Facebook ad creative. Covering everything from catchy headlines to clever copy to powerful imagery, our goal is to get you on the path to conversions. The road to profit. The alleyway to engagement. (Ok sorry, I’ll stop.)
Make sure you subscribe to our newsletter HERE so you don’t miss out.
But first, let’s have a little recap about Facebook advertising.
The 6 Jewels in the Facebook Ad Crown
As we touched upon in our last blog – the success of an ad doesn’t rely on just one thing. It’s a culmination of six factors. While some definitely play a bigger role than others, everything is important.
*Insert inspirational quote about the importance of teamwork here.*
Where your ad will be displayed?
Your three main options on Facebook are the desktop feed, the right column, and mobile-optimized feed. Each location has a specific purpose and guidelines to follow. Which you can discover more about here.
Why should someone click on your ad?
If you want your target audience to engage, make your proposition strong and your messaging clear in the description copy.
What are you offering?
As we chatted about in our last blog, a headline should be short, sweet and straight to the point. And ideally only five words.
What are others saying?
Likes and comments are key in persuading your target audience that their peers like what you’re offering.
What action do you want your audience to take?
Choose an active verb that will hint at what your audience can expect once they click.
What do you want someone to see?
Last but not least, we have your image. Which is very crucial to an ad’s success… and it’s exactly what we’ll be talking about today.
Image is Everything
350 million photos are uploaded to Facebook daily.
That’s 350 million snaps of your old high school friend’s toddler. Designer shoes you’ll never afford. Memes of the latest football game. Exotic faraway locations. Lad banter. Cats being evil. New jewelry trends. Ads for dog seat covers (when you don’t even own a dog). And what your Aunt Margie had for dinner last night.
Every. Single. Day.
So to say that Facebook is a pretty crowded space, would be a massive understatement.
And the competition is fierce.
That’s why it’s extremely important to stand out.
Storytelling At A Glance
A picture is worth a thousand words, as the massively-overused cliché goes.
Which is just as well… considering it’s been scientifically proven that we have shorter attention spans than a goldfish. At a measly 9 seconds.
Thankfully though, all it takes is just 100 milliseconds for us to process an image. (Which leaves us with a whole 8.9 seconds to then potentially read the copy, make a purchase decision, click on the CTA, check Whatsapp, pet the dog, or just brush crumbs off the keyboard or whatever.)
Which probably explains why content with an image gets a whopping 94% more views.
And 53% more likes on Facebook.
And 104% more comments.
Because in that 0.1 of a second, you’re essentially offering shortcut storytelling.
In just a glance, you’re not only showing your target audience what you have on offer, but what kind of brand you are. And they’ll decide almost instantly whether they’re interested, and trust you.
So you need an image that’s eye-grabbing, and can communicate what needs to be said on its own.
Otherwise you could break your campaign, before you even make it.
Let’s start with a quick breakdown of image guidelines.
- Recommended image dimensions of 1200 x 628 pixels.
- Minimum width and height of 600 pixels.
- Recommended aspect ratio is between 9:16 to 16:9, but crops to 1.91:1 with a link.
- Recommended image formats – JPG or PNG.
- Don’t use over 20% text.
If your image doesn’t match the specified size, it’ll be automatically resized for you to make it fit the type of ad you selected. And most often, that’s not a good thing.
Making A Good Image Better
How often have you scrolled through your feed, right past several boring text posts – but stopped at an eye-catching photo or graphic?
That’s your goal here.
To be the publisher of an image worth stopping someone’s thumbs for.
So let’s get you on the right path with these tips:
- The right picture for the right audience
This may seem like an obvious one, but hey, it happens. Always always always make sure your image is relevant to your target audience. Because you certainly won’t catch the attention of 18-25-year-old women with visuals of heavy machinery, right?
Putting it into action:
In order for your target audience to consider your brand, they need to see images that are familiar to their social fabric.
To do this, you should aim to include people ‘like them’, products ‘they like’ and scenarios they can relate to. You know your audience well, so this should be easy.
Say you’ve just opened a cool, new craft beer bar (with food) and your key target audience is young professional males aged 20-27. To attract them:
2. Your product in action
Show the world how useful or beneficial your product is by using compelling imagery of people interacting with it or how it works.
Not only will it show your target audience what they have to look forward to, it’ll help them to visualise themselves using it
Putting it into action:
When using this technique, you have several options. You can show a person interacting with it. Or maybe just a body part. (And I don’t mean the creepy Halloween-esque disembodied type.) You can highlight the key features you have to offer. Or put your product in-situ, so the viewer can get a real feel for it.
Extra tip: if you’re using a face, choose a smiley person. Not only does this show-off a ‘happy customer’, smiling people can make us happy.
Show a whole person interacting with your product or service. (Examples above)
Body part interaction.
Product in-situ. (Yellow sofa, in this case.)
3. A splash of color
Color is a very powerful communication tool. As well as being used to attract attention, it can also really influence how a person feels.
So much so, a study proved that 90% of all the snap judgments that we make about products can be traced back to color.
Putting it into action:
While choosing a color that will stand out is important, there are a few other things worth considering:
- Does it tie in with my current brand guidelines?
- Are these colors too similar to a competitor (and cause confusion)?
- What emotion is connected with the color?
Only you can answer the first two questions. But when it comes to color connections, your choice could have an impact on how people see your brand.
It’ll be too much to go through every color today, but here are a few examples of brands using colour as an emotional connection cue.
And remember, you don’t always need to use full block colour imagery (though these really do stand out). You can instead choose to use pops of colour.
Red – Love, anger or energy
Brand – Coca Cola
Green – Nature, growth or balance
Brand – WholeFoods
Orange – Friendly, cheerful or confident
Brand – Fanta
You can find more info and examples on color and brands in this guide.
4. Be text savvy
Putting your value proposition smack bang on your image makes sense. But only if it works with everything else going on. And most importantly, you keep things simple.
While Facebook has softened its 20% rule, you should still follow it (more below). Too much text clutters an image and distracts from the main message. So choose your words very carefully and consider the font size (so you won’t be ‘punished’).
Putting it into action:
Start by considering what your headline and ad description will say. Repeating the exact same message across all three areas is A) a waste of your money and B) an annoyance to the reader.
Secondly, let’s jump back to one of the key tips on headline writing from part 1. Keep things short and sweet. Remember what I mentioned above? People scroll through their feeds Usain Bolt style. Aka hella fast. So you need something that they can digest is mere milliseconds.
In these two ads below, the in-image text gets straight to the point with each offering.
5. Have a red thread
While experimenting with new images to keep your ads fresh is key, try to maintain some sort of consistency when running a campaign. By having a theme or visual cue in each image that links them together, it’ll make it easier for people to recognize it’s your brand that’s talking.
Also, by establishing a pattern with your imagery, your target audience will be more likely to remember your ads and therefore be more likely to consider your brand.
Putting it into action:
When establishing your theme, the first rule is to not overcomplicate things. Keep things simple, fresh, and most importantly – manageable. You don’t want to get bogged down by the detail or strangled by strict rules, right?
Your theme could be a certain colour, your framing, similar props, an illustration style, the same model, an emotion – anything really. Forgive me for using yet another cliché, but the world really is your oyster with this one.
And it doesn’t need to be over the top. You can totally keep things quite subtle. And then completely change things up for the next campaign.
The Economist is well known for always being loyal to the red background for all its ads.
In most of AdEspresso ads, you’ll find this mustachioed little chap in different poses.
To launch its Naked range, Lush went naked. Quite literally. And used bare-skinned models.
Your theme could also be as simple as a consistent layout. Snackster extraordinaire Graze often spreads its nibbles on a simple surface so the viewer can see exactly what’s on offer.
To promote it’s new men’s grooming kits, subscription gurus Birchbox kept everything looking aligned by using a really simple, but very tasteful blue and monochrome background.
6. Simplicity is key
While it can be very tempting to try to squeeze multiple things into one image, don’t. This just opens the door for confusion. Choose the main thing you want to communicate and put that in the spotlight so it’s clear what the focal point is.
By sticking to one clear message or one particular thing in your image, you’ll make it super easy for your target audience to instantly understand what your offering.
Putting it into action:
First things first. You need to ask yourself:
What exactly am I trying to sell?
And keep reminding yourself of this. Because it’s easy to want to make the most of your space by adding several things to one image. But try to avoid this.
Don’t get me wrong, you can of course have interesting backgrounds and props in your shot. But the simpler and more focused you can have your image the better.
These guys have kept things simple, without sacrificing interesting. Bonus points for using cute dogs.
Before creating your bright and compelling visual masterpieces that will instantly catch your target audience’s eye, and have them all flocking to buy your wares, make sure to remember…
Testing, testing, 123
Just because an image worked for one audience, it doesn’t mean it will work for another. So be creative and explore lots of options. Then test everything to see what’s working.
What to do?
Make A/B Testing your best friend. Play around with your imagery when launching a new campaign and then put your creative options up against each other to discover what your audience relates best to.
Avoid the horror of having your image wrongly cropped by ensuring it’s the right size and shape.
What to do?
If you stick to the photo guidelines we’ve listed above, you won’t go wrong. Well, with sizes anyway.
The 20%-ish rule
At last. Time to talk percentages.
While Facebook’s 20% rule (words can’t take over 20% of the photo) has been relaxed in the last few years, it still pretty much stands. So if you use too much text, you’ll decrease your reach. Boo. And the overall performance of your ad will suffer. Double boo.
Facebook even say so themselves.
What to do?
Try to choose images that are strong enough to tell the story themselves, and let your headline and ad description do the rest. And if you do include text, test it here.
Pixelated photos are a huge no-no.
Super dark images are a huge no-no.
Stretched images are a huge no-no.
Badly photoshopped or poorly cropped images are a huge no-no.
Regardless of what you’re offering, no matter if it’s the latest must-have craze – if you use poor quality images to advertise it, your campaign will 100% suffer. This is because your target audience will instantly associate your entire brand with being ‘poor quality’.
Which causes distrust. Then causes you to lose out on those cherished clicks. And we don’t want that.
Bare in mind that 63% of customers think that the quality of a product’s image is more important than product-specific information.
What to do?
Simply avoid each and every one of the huge no-nos above.
A little help goes a long way
Creating original and personalized assets is neither easy, nor cheap. I get it. And a lot of brands don’t have deep enough pockets to bring in the pros. But fear not, there are a ton of free and affordable creative resources out there to help. And here are our top three:
Facebook have a really helpful and easy to use platform that lets you experiment with your ads, without having to post them live. Here you can create several mockups that you can preview and use to compare creative designs
Once described as the ‘Best Graphic Tool For Unskilled Users’, this truly is a fantastic and very reasonably priced creative design resource. It has thousands of templates, images and graphics to easily create professional looking assets for your Facebook ads.
While using your own images of your product or service is always the best way to go, you may on occasion need to introduce some stock imagery now and again. And that’s ok. In this fantastic list by Hubspot, you’ll find an extensive variety of sites offering free, high quality images.
In the next blog, we’ll be jumping straight into the highly debated ad text description. Do you keep things short? Fill it with detail? Add CTAs? We’ll be chatting all about them and including lots of resources to help you along the way.
So make sure you subscribe to our newsletter HERE so you don’t miss out.
Until then, go and start smashing out those amazing Facebook images.