Skip to Content
Main Content

Hiker Looking Out Over Mountains

Edward Kozlowski

Edward Kozlowski

Digital Ads Lead

Ed has more than 10 years’ experience in SEO, PPC, and email marketing for both B2B and B2C organizations. Certified in Google Ads and Google Tag Manager, he uses analytics and research to develop exceptional digital strategies that drive success. Ed enjoys helping each client determine where they sit in the digital landscape and digging in to help them find ways to improve. He’s also an avid rock climber and has a chocolate lab mix named Benson, who he claims is the perfect WFH coworker.

5 Tips to Create Effective Social Media Ads

March 9, 2022 | Edward Kozlowski, Digital Ads Lead

4 Minute Read

Wondering how to advertise on social media?

Start with the basics by answering these two questions: What do I want to accomplish and who am I targeting? Your answers will drive the content of all your social media ads, regardless of platform

After you’ve answered those questions, your next step will be to create quality ads. Let’s dive in!

How Do I Effectively Advertise on Social Media?

1. Define a Clear Goal

If you want your ad to achieve a specific goal, you must define – clearly and in advance – exactly what you want it to do. (This probably seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how often vague intent leads to wasted ad spend.)

An ad intended to drive sales, for example, will differ significantly from an ad aimed at recruiting employees. Intent determines not only the content of your ad, but also the social media platform where the ad will appear.

2. Define Your Target Audience

Once you’ve defined your goal, you can tailor your ad to your target audience, keeping in mind the user journey. Your social media audience may lack in-depth knowledge of your brand, or may not know your brand at all – you’re in the raising awareness stage, which is top-of-funnel marketing.  

When you’re in the awareness stage, you’re not trying to sell (yet).  Approach your audience by demonstrating expertise that will solve their problems. The awareness stage is the perfect time to use social media to drive your audience to content marketing that matters to them. Send them to relevant blogs, webinars, and how-to videos, just to name a few examples.

Tactical Tip: Upload Your Customer Lists –  A list upload helps fine-tune your audience targeting  and opens some social media tactical tools:  

  • You can retarget current customers to stay top of mind.
  • You can utilize current customer data to create “look-alike” audiences to help drive brand awareness and drive top-of-funnel leads. When you run ads on certain social platforms, the customer list will allow you to target those potential customers who are similar to current customers.

3. Check Out Your Competition

In all digital marketing, you definitely want to keep an eye on your competition. See how your competitors tailor their ads for your common audience on the same social platforms you’ll use. Don’t copy their ads, but draw on the best of their ideas and enhance them.

Tactical Tip: See What’s Working and What’s Not – If a competitor ad attracts user engagement, it’s working. Crickets and tumbleweeds? It’s not. So don’t expend budget when the results are easy to see, but don’t be too hasty, either; maybe the idea is okay, but the execution has failed. This sort of observation and analysis can inform creation of your own ads. You can compare your ads’ performance against competitor benchmarks, and you can build on their ideas. Make your ads stand out by through brand-specific messaging, superior imagery, clearer calls to action, and so on.

Tactical Tip: Use a tool such as BuzzSumo to check out competitors and see how their content has performed.

4. Use High Quality Imagery and Videos

First impressions matter, and images make that first impression. Use high-resolution images that are relevant to your ad or post. Tell your audience what your ad is about before they read a word. The image below subliminally says: "You have many things to do between work and your personal life.” Which meshes perfectly with the explicit message delivered in the text.

An example of a Northwoods digital ad

Tactical Tip: If your business lacks the expertise, time or budget to create original high-quality images, turn to a service such as Adobe Stock to find them. 

5. Test You Must! A/B Testing is Essential

Let go of what you assume about your customers; instead, let your customers tell you what resonates with them through ongoing A/B testing, an important part of performance measurement. 

Click through rate and conversion rate are also important measurements. But CTR alone doesn’t tell us everything we need to know. Your clever ad about your ball bearings might  generate lots of clicks from the wrong people – the ad amuses them, but they will never be in the ball bearing market. You’ve wasted spend on them. So at least start with both CTR and conversion rate. Depending on the goal of your ad, you’ll likely need to measure other metrics, as well.

Over time, you’ll be able to eliminate the losers of the A/B tests and create more effective ads. Then continue with A/B testing. It’s basically rinse and repeat.

The thought that “you can do more” haunts all marketers. But scattered, reactive effort will just wear you out. Instead, focus and define your goals, and define and know your target audience for your social ads. Invest your time and energy in well-thought out ads that fit your larger marketing strategy and improve those ads over time. Forget about perfection; instead, strive for good, and keep getting better and better, a little at a time.

If you need assistance with your digital advertising, Northwoods can help! Learn more about our social media ad services and request a consultation today.