How do you optimize Facebook ads for conversions?

The reason we turn to Facebook ads is because, ultimately, we want more sales and customers.

In this article, I'll explain how the Facebook algorithm works for conversions and how to optimize your ads for conversions.

What is a Facebook conversion?

A conversion on Facebook is any type of action the user takes on your website or app.

Visiting a specific page can be a conversion.

Adding an item to cart can be a conversion.

Watching a video can be a conversion.

Signing up to your site (but not ordering) can be a conversion.

A transaction can be a conversion.

Simply put, a conversion is any action a user takes on your site that you want to track. Using custom conversions, you can set up numerous conversions which are tracked using the Facebook pixel.

Facebook conversion rates

How much data does Facebook need to optimize ads for conversions?

You can't just yell at Facebook and say, "get me conversions." I wish it worked it like that, but it doesn't.

Facebook uses data from your pixel to find you conversions. The more conversions you have, the more data it has to work with and find you customers.

For example, let's say you set up a conversion on Facebook which tracks each time an order is placed, and your store receives 5,000 unique conversions (orders) each month.

Facebook looks at the 5,000 unique conversions (which are essentially Facebook users) and serves your ads to other users who match the same interests and demographics of your 5,000 previous orders.  

Facebook needs a minimum of 500 conversions per month to be able to optimize your ads for conversions. If you're not getting 500 conversions per month then you should not be running ads for conversions, but rather other objectives instead such as website clicks (discussed later) until you build your Facebook funnel to a point where you're getting 500 conversions per month, or use another conversion to optimize for.

For example, let's say you're only getting 100 sales conversions per month on Facebook. While that is not enough data for Facebook to successfully find you more customers, you're getting 750 add-to-cart conversions per month.

 In this instance, you can test conversion ads on Facebook by optimizing for 'add to carts' to see if they drive sales.

Ad objectives to use to optimize for conversions

There are a number of campaign objectives you can use to optimize your Facebook ads for conversions. They include the following:

Conversion – The conversion objective aims to serve your ad to people who are most likely to make the conversion you have asked for. The conversion objective should only be used when you're driving 500 or more conversions per month.

If you plan to spend tens of thousands per month on ads, you can run a conversion objective and optimize for website clicks and Facebook will switch to conversions automatically when it has enough data.

Traffic – The traffic objective will serve your ad to users who are most likely to click your ad. You can optimize for clicks (Facebook will serve your ads to people who are most likely to click) or landing page views (anyone who clicks and waits for your landing page to load).

Traffic is the preferred objective when you want to optimize your Facebook ads for conversions, but you're not getting 500 conversions per month. The idea here is to use traffic to build up to that magic 500 number and then you can switch to conversions.

You could also try running engagement objectives to drive traffic to your site. I've found that with the right creatives and copy, engagement can work well, if not better, than traffic (but you'll have to test).

Dynamic product ads (DPAs) – DPAs can only be optimized for a specific conversion. For stores that aren't hitting 500 conversions per month, I've found that DPAs still work really well when retargeting users based on behavior. I believe that what Facebook misses out on in data, it makes up for in the amount of personalization offered with DPAs.

Stores that are getting more than 500 conversions per month should consider using broad audience targeting and lookalike audiences to reach new users and scale their selling.

How are you optimizing Facebook ads for conversions?

The biggest mistake I see on Facebook from new businesses is running conversion-based Facebook ads right off the bat when they don't have enough data for Facebook to work with.

This typically leads to a high CPA and unprofitable ads because Facebook isn't getting enough user data to optimize ads for conversions.

How are you optimizing your Facebook ads for conversions?