How to optimize Facebook ad copy

Presented live on Tuesday, March 26, 2019

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So, your client comes to you with this problem: “Our Facebook ads – ummm, they suck.”

Campaigns falling apart. Ads way more expensive than they should be. Crappy click-throughs.

You could look at everything about their ads. Tear them apart, from top to bottom.

Or you could make your life easy. And go straight to…

…well to exactly the place we’re going to show you in this Tutorial Tuesday.

In this live Tutorial, Copy Hackers’ Wahida Lakhani demonstrates a quick Facebook ad copy optimization technique you can apply immediately – for your ads and your clients’ – to help turn poor-performing campaigns around. Without wasting time and energy.

TRANSCRIPT

Wahida Lakhani: Why were you there? What content do you remember seeing? And when you inevitably saw an ad, did you click on it or did you ignore it? The likely answer is that you were there to see what your friends and family were posting, maybe what influencers were posting, and that you saw ads and likely ignored them, except for that one or two pieces of content that happened to be ads that were really, really good or really spoke to you.

Wahida Lakhani: And the truth is, we don’t want to take this for granted. We are going to be seen as advertisers, and sometimes when we go to put together an ad, we forget this. We forget that our real experience is that when we’re on our newsfeed, we don’t love advertising, we’re not there for advertising, but when we go to put on our ad hats and write ads, we assume that every user’s going to love what we put out just because we put it out. And so we’re up against this friction of having to be really, really good every time you put out an ad.

Wahida Lakhani: Now if you had to guess, if there was one thing of all of the elements of an ad that made an ad super good, like make or break often the success of an ad, what would you guess that that thing is? One thing. Put it in the chat, hopefully someone can read it out because I can’t see.

Joanna Wiebe: Yeah. No. Leanne said, targeting. Todd said, image. Matthew says, stopping scroll. Mary says, relevance. Martha is spot on with cute cats, obviously. Evon, offer. Victor, headline, speak to the customer, ad value to them. Brandon also said headline. Lindsey says humor, curiosity, benefits of curiosity, image, lots of different ideas coming in here.

Wahida Lakhani: Awesome. So the answer is, drum roll, your value proposition. Your value proposition is the biggest lever for optimization, it’s the biggest opportunity in any ad and it’s the biggest point of failure for your ad. If you look back at some of your past campaigns that clients have run or that you’ve run, the likelihood of a campaign that you’ve run that tanked, that that value proposition either was non existent or wasn’t communicated clearly is pretty high. So your value prop is the thing that if you go in and tweak it today, it will change your results.

Wahida Lakhani: But if you’ve never heard of what a value proposition is, in a nutshell, it is the primary benefit that describes what your user will get. It is the ‘what’s in it for me factor’, and the more visceral that benefit, the better your ads will perform. So, generally, a really good company or brand will have a value proposition. Your products or services will have value propositions and your ads, now we know, should always have value propositions attached to them.

Wahida Lakhani: The reason this works so well is because, and we know as great copywriters, as great marketers, that users don’t want the products and services that you’re selling, they want the change, the benefit, or the transformation that it’s going to offer. And so if you set your sights on creating really great value propositions for each of your ads then this thing is going to allow you to communicate that visceral key benefit in three seconds or less. And you’d be lucky if a user gave you that much time even as they’re scrolling through their news feed so you gotta kind of hit them over the head with why they should care, why they should keep paying attention to you.

Wahida Lakhani: Of course, we’re looking for measurable results so nailing your value prop will increase the chances that you’ll create high converting ads on your first try. Too often, people who are getting started will test variations instead of insights, and if you’re testing value propositions, and if you’re starting with setting your sights on value propositions when you’re writing your ads, you really increase your ability to have campaigns that perform, without wasting a ton of ad spend on guessing. You’ll also, of course, increase your click through rates. So, your click through rates is a front end metric, and it basically measures, of the people who see your ads, how many of them are gonna click through?

Wahida Lakhani: As folks are scrolling through their news feed, if they see an ad that you’re running, and they understand immediately why they should care about it, what that benefit is, your click through rates go up. Ultimately, as well, it helps to decrease your overall costs. Your cost per lead, your cost per webinar, your cost per video series, sign ups, challenges, and ultimately your cost to acquire a customer and to win that sale. You’re just going to get better results overall with your ad spend.

Wahida Lakhani: Value propositions are not a new concept. We accept that these exist and that they perform really well elsewhere. This is an example from conversion sciences that I grabbed, it’s a case study, and this company called Gru, on their website, their headline, basically, talks about what the thing does. It’s like, “This is what we do,” it’s not necessarily benefit drvien, doesn’t necessarily speak to the value proposition involved. It just says, “[Sass 00:05:07] and [inaudible 00:05:08] customer support.” And it was converting at about 2.3%. But, they wanted to optimize things, and what they did was they focused on repositioning their value proposition.

Wahida Lakhani: They did something that Jo loves, which is that every time someone signed up, they asked on the thank you page a question similar to, “What prompted you to sign up?” And they took all of that information, everything their users were telling them, reformatted their value prop, and created this. They changed a number of things here, but the value proposition became everything you need to deliver awesome personal support to every customer. Assign support emails to the right people, feel confident that customers are being followed up with, and always know what’s going on, and they saw a lift. They moved to 4.3% conversion rate. So, just the way it works on websites and in other places in your advertising and your marketing, it absolutely works in your Facebook ads.

Wahida Lakhani: The next question that comes up is if you’re a believer that value props matter and that they’re gonna make a difference, now the question becomes, how do you actually action them. I love this concept of the threshold of awesome, and what this is going to allow you to do is apply value propositions on your ads, and take out some of the anxiety of creating the perfect ad.

Wahida Lakhani: Let’s talk through an example. This is a Facebook that’s running in someone’s newsfeed. You’ve probably seen ads like this a million times, and we’re gonna break it down so that we understand how this ad is hitting the threshold of awesome. The first and often the most important element is your value prop, and almost always, if you have a headline, you want your value proposition to sit right there. I often call it the value prop holder, and the reason is because, while someone is scrolling through their newsfeed, it is the image or the video that stops them from scrolling, but it is the value proposition in the headline, that second thing that their eyes gaze over, that causes them to take that action, that convinces them that they should continue to care.

Wahida Lakhani: If you nail your value proposition, 80% of your work is done. It’s also really powerful because once you know what your value proposition is for each ad at each part of the funnel, it dictates everything else that happens in your ad. It dictates what image or video you’re going to talk about, it dictates the body copy itself, so it really sets the compass for everything else that you’ll be doing in your ads.

Wahida Lakhani: The second most important piece is the image or the video. As I mentioned, it is the part that stops them as they’re scrolling, but in and of itself, it doesn’t cause someone to take action. It’s the value prop, the reason to care, that causes them to take that action. So, your image or your video is super important, but it often is the thing that supports the value proposition. If we look at this example, we can see that the headline currently is: a heel you can wear every damn day, which is an awesome value prop for us women, who are used to having to wear heels as networking events, and we’re packing extra shoes in our bag to just deal with the fact that we’re in so much pain.

Wahida Lakhani: So, the headline, or the value proposition, is absolutely nailed right away. And then the image helps to support it. So, a walkable two inch heel, a cushioned insole, elasticized back, softer [inaudible 00:08:41] leather. Now, they’re just supporting us, they’re giving us a reason to believe the value proposition.

Wahida Lakhani: The third most important piece is the body copy. Ironically, it’s the part that we die over, we have nightmares over this stuff. I know I have, as I’m trying to write body copy that’s phenomenal, but your body copy is creating desire that supports your value prop. So, while it’s not unimportant, it often plays a supporting role. It’s the third most important element, especially when you’re testing. Oftentimes, because these elements are in this kind of hierarchy of value proposition in headline, image or video, and body copy, body copy’s the third thing that you test because it’s the thing that’s gonna get you the least amount of lift compared to everything else in your ad. That is the threshold when it comes to a newsfeed ad that you’ve seen.

Wahida Lakhani: But, if you’ve ever run ads before, you’re gonna be saying, “Well, there are some ad units where I don’t have a headline, so now what do I do?” And the answer is, you’ve just got to work harder, a little bit harder, to create that value prop. In this example of an Instagram ad, and this is very common, you’ll create an image or a video that communicates the value proposition for you, because you can see that down here there is no headline. You just don’t have one. You also oftentimes don’t have a lot of space for body copy, because if you’ve run ads before, if you’ve been inside Ads Manager, the spacing and the formatting of body copy is super wonky on Instagram. You can’t get the spacing right, it’s all like strange looking.

Wahida Lakhani: So, you are, kind of by default, hampered to create shorter copy. Here’s another example of a looping video, where they’ve worked just that extra bit harder to communicate the value proposition in the video itself. You can see it says, “12 weeks to change your life for good,” and then it’s scrolling through a before and after image. [inaudible 00:10:46] is if you’re working in the health space, you do have to be careful about using before and afters, so they are kind of walking the line. But, it’s a phenomenal example of showing a transformation.

Wahida Lakhani: If you are in some of those more difficult spaces, we did do a Tutorial Tuesday on how to create ads that are compliant, but this is a really phenomenal example of a value proposition that hits you over the head. And even in really boring spaces, when you’re talking about money, you still need to hit that value proposition. Here, this is a carousel ad, where you can upload images and videos and people can scroll through them. And it’s going really quickly, but you can see that most of the cards have a value proposition attached, so see all your accounts in one place, know ATM fees, just because they’re boring, if you wanna call them that, they’re not working less hard, or not hitting that value prop, you’ve still got to do that.

Wahida Lakhani: Okay, so let’s play a bit of a game, because I like games. We’re gonna talk about the difference between a strong value proposition and one that isn’t as strong so that we can start to rehab a few examples. On the left, we’ve got the strong value proposition that we’ve before. The headline is super great, gets right to the point, the image helps to support the value proposition, and so does the body copy.

Wahida Lakhani: Let’s look at an example from the exact same company with the exact same product, and you can see how the value proposition is buried. Down here, we can see that it says, “The day heel”. But, if I don’t know what the day heel is, I don’t understand what the benefit is. The image is fantastic, but the image by itself doesn’t get me to take action, or at least it’s going to decrease my ability to get those key metrics that I’m looking for. So, if I really wanna nail my click through rates, if I really wanna drop my costs, I have to hit that value proposition really strongly.

Wahida Lakhani: And you’ll often see this happen, that the value proposition exists, but it’s buried. In the same way when you’re writing, sometimes you bury the lead. So, here it says, “Sneaker comfort with the polish of a heel”. That’s fantastic! If you were to drop that down into the headline, the click through rates would go up. Let’s rehab a few value props together, and hopefully Jo, you can read out some of the bits in the chat.

Joanna Wiebe: Will do.

Wahida Lakhani: Cool. Here’s the first example. This is A Webber, and let’s take a look at the headline, aka value proposition in this case. It says, “Free email copywriting course and templates”. What do we think about that as a value prop? Ask yourself, “Does it speak to the key benefit?”

Joanna Wiebe: Let’s see. Does it speak to the key benefit? Yes or no? Some [inaudible 00:13:46]. No one else is daring to. Okay, Susan says no, couple of different answers here, wow, some are saying no, and others are then just saying, like, okay. Martin says, no, but free always catches attention, benefit isn’t free, what is the benefit I get from the course. Can I earn more with this set, product driven, not benefit driven. Rebecca says, I feel like the description should be the headline. Dave says, no, it just means what it is. Sonja says, I won’t say it because I already did the Facebook ads course. [inaudible 00:14:20] says, no benefit, not too clear. And there are a bunch more that flew in about that, too.

Wahida Lakhani: Cool, cool, so some of you hit it right on. So, yes, free isn’t a value proposition in and of itself, it’s often called a booster. A past mentor once told me there are two most important words in advertising, free and new. Use them whenever you can, but they don’t replace a benefit. It’s great to say it’s free, you often will see that, but it doesn’t in and of itself create desire or give me a reason to click through. And the value proposition is buried, so that’s exactly it, someone mentioned that. They buried the lead. In copy, it says here, “Write and send outstanding emails in as little as 10 minutes a day, even if you’re not a writer”. That would be a phenomenal headline.

Wahida Lakhani: And it’s not because headlines are magic again, but it’s because, as I’m seeing this ad scroll through, so I’ve seen the image or the video and I’ve decided to stop, that headline is the second thing that my eyes kind of scroll past, or look past. And so it’s the best opportunity for you to keep their attention and get them to take that action.

Wahida Lakhani: Cool, so flying colors guys, let’s look at this one.

Joanna Wiebe: Okay, so people are just reacting to this now.

Wahida Lakhani: Yeah, what do you think? Does it speak to a key benefit?

Joanna Wiebe: Does the headline speak to a key benefit? Beth says, yes. We’re getting yes’s. So far, only yes’s. [inaudible 00:15:53] are blues. Dave also says, yes, yes, yes. Aw, Richard works from home and he’s always lonely. Richard! Susan is torn, but Nicola says it speaks to lonely freelancers, and others are now feeling lonely too. Beth likes the first half. But, Matthew likes being alone, so it doesn’t speak to him, so probably not the right audience for them anyway. Grant says, yes, it says the benefit and how it happens. Then, more discussion of being lonely. Okay!

Wahida Lakhani: Great! Guys, yes! You guys are pro stars because it was a trick question, this is a great value proposition, it speaks exactly to that key benefit, and it’s phenomenal, nothing to change, looks super good, it’s gonna convert super well, so you guys rock! We don’t even have to do this third example because you guys are pro stars now. But we will do, one more example, because I think I have time, I’m trying to rush. Okay. Last example. Guys, does it speak to the key benefits? Cheeky [inaudible 00:16:56].

Joanna Wiebe: Okay, we’re getting no’s all around. Yeah, still no’s.

Wahida Lakhani: Yes! Okay, you guys, amazing, so yes, the value proposition is buried, and it is a good one too. ‘The jeans that make every butt look it’s best”. So, lead with that, always lead with that because it is going to increase your results. Awesome. So, as you go into the wild, you’re going to be creating your own value propositions, you’re gonna be optimizing value propositions, how do you know if you’ve got a good one? This is the last little slide here. These are the questions to ask yourself, take a little screenshot, or join Copy School for this and lots more content, or take a screenshot of this, and ask yourself these questions as you’re reviewing an ad.

Wahida Lakhani: One, is there a clear benefit? Are you answering the ‘What’s in it for me?’ factor?

Wahida Lakhani: Two, is it specific and/or tangible? Is it something that your user can feel?

Wahida Lakhani: Is it mouth watering is the third question. Remember, the more visceral the better, because you’re up against the friction of someone scrolling on their newsfeed who is not looking for what it is that you’re offering, and will sometimes in principle, ignore Facebook ads. Also, sometimes subconsciously. It’s got to be a mouth watering offer.

Wahida Lakhani: And, the fourth question is, does it help solve the biggest pain point or speak to the biggest aspiration of your target?

Wahida Lakhani: If it’s a hard ‘yes’ on all of these, you can have confidence that it’s likely to convert. If you’re in the ‘maybe’, see what you can do to optimize, because your conversions will be met. And if it’s a hard ‘no’, then you know that you’re likely not putting out something that’s gonna get you the best results as you’re testing.

Wahida Lakhani: Walk through this for your ads, for your client’s ads, it’s a great way to optimize your messaging, it’s a great way for you to start the conversation about writing their ads as well, because it’s a way to kind of audit what they have going on right now, and sets you up as a pro. So that is how to use value propositions to optimize your ads today. Yay!

Joanna Wiebe: I was trying to come up, I was clapping by myself. Awesome, Wahida, thank you so much for that. Others are clapping too. Okay! Everybody, thank you so much, that wraps up our Tutorial Tuesday in 33 minutes, which is super rare, so well done Wahida, you’re so on task. Awesome, thank you very much. Oh, we have to do our little dance, of course.

Joanna Wiebe: Cool, so this replay will be available later, we’ll have new tutorials, obviously, coming up for you starting next week as well. And, if you haven’t joined [inaudible 00:19:38] school, today is your last day to join at this price, we never give extensions, so this is the last day, otherwise all the courses break up individually again, and you can buy them individually, but one by one, they’re 1000 to 2000 dollars each, so today is the day. Thank you again, everybody, and we’ll see on our next Tutorial Tuesday. Bye y’all!

Ry Schwartz: Thanks, guys, bye.

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