15 Marketing Hacks to Design Better Facebook Ads

Feel like your Facebook ads are stagnating?

Nonsense! You don’t have to settle for the same old ads. Instead, whip out some of these simple hacks to design better Facebook ads and inject new life into your marketing.

1. Keep Things Simple

While it’s hardly anything new, there’s something to be said for the good old KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid).

You don’t need to tack on a lot of bells and whistles and use a super clever image to stand out (although having strong optics will definitely give you an edge).

Distill your ad down to its most basic line of copy and a straightforward image that gets the point across.

Of course, this “hack” only works if you target your ad particularly well. Otherwise, your simple ad will just be swept away in the noise.

Take the example above. It is what it is. “25% off everything” is a super simple statement, and if you target the ad well, that’s all your viewers need to know to click through.

Ads with a simple messaging need to be well-targeted to be the most effective.

Here’s another example. The image copy gets the point across, with some effects on the letters that make the PlayStation connection obvious.

This ad is also scarily well-targeted; I don’t even want to know how Facebook knows I own a PS4.

2. Do Something Unexpected

If you want people to stop scrolling through their feeds and actually look at your ad, create something that makes people do a double-take.

There’s more than one way to do this – you can do something really unexpected, use contrasting colors, or make your copy short and sassy. Or you can do all three, like in this ad by Quip:

3. Create a Sense of Urgency

One of the oldest tricks in the book, its power can’t be denied: there are few better ways to make people take action than creating a sense of urgency.

There are so many stories of people using urgency and scarcity to increase their conversion rates by epic amounts, like this example where it increased conversions by 332%.

This ad by Social Triggers creates a sense of urgency in several ways. Of course, there’s the “last chance to join” copy over the image.

But then you’ve also got the equally urgent “Enrollment CLOSING” CTA in the description, and that striking image of Derek Halpern holding up his watch.

Tell me you aren’t pulling out your wallet already.

4. Use Long Copy to Advertise Your Opt-In

With the pressure of creating a strong ROI, it is easy to spend all your time thinking about how you can use ads to sell your products or services. Isn’t that what it’s all about? That makes it easy to overlook using ads to promote your opt-in.

No, it may not result in as many immediate sales. But advertising your opt-in is playing the long game, which is just as important a component of your marketing mix.

Plus, free opt-ins have a lower barrier to entry, which makes them easier to sign up for. Then, you’ve got all these new leads on your mailing list, where you don’t need to pay to reach them next time.

This ad makes its case in several interesting ways. First, you’ll notice its length – this is easily the longest ad on this list. While that can be eye-catching in and of itself, remember that Facebook will most likely collapse your copy in the feed if it gets too long.

I like the enticement of the phrase “Get for free what others have paid $1000’s to receive.” And, of course, you’ve got that simple CTA button to “Download” right there, driving home the point that this guide is free.

5. Make it Pop with Simple Videos

Everyone seems to be jumping on the video bandwagon with their ads these days. But did you know that shorter videos can actually pack more of a punch, especially for mobile users?

You could go the 30- or 60-second commercial route, sure.

But some brands are using video ads to create simple, looping video ads that include enough movement to hold someone’s interest, but not so much that they need to commit to watching a video. They might not realize it’s even a video at all.

This first example, by Brandless, is simply a slideshow of images.

Even better, they appear to be a collection of user-submitted images from their followers, showing off their love for these products.

This example is even simpler, just some text overlaying and transitioning off of an appealing image of different veggie toasts. Very millennial.

6. Create a Curiosity Gap

I’ve written about the power of creating a curiosity gap before. Essentially, the trick is to entice the viewer to click by giving them enough information to make them curious, but not enough to answer all the resulting questions that pop into their head.

Take this example. How is this law school grad paying off $250,000 in student loans without the cushy lawyer job? I don’t know, guess you’ll just have to click it!

7. Make Your Product the Hero

It’s a pretty simple entrepreneurial principle: find a problem. Solve it. Profit.

Use this principle to create an ad that answers all your target audience’s prayers.

The power of spreadsheets, plus it’s beautiful to boot? Count me in!

I really love this example, because it appeals to a sense of frustration: stop wasting all your time searching out contact info, and let this tool do it for you!

8. Use Flattery

As the saying goes, you’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

Of course, you’re probably not going to pay to insult someone with your Facebook ads anytime soon (though, I admit, it would certainly be eye-catching), but you can totally put on the charm to win over your audience.

Treat yourself.

9. Offer a Taste for Next to Nothing

Otherwise known in the marketing world as a tripwire, this is a bit of a classic but that’s because it works: get XYZ, for less than a cup of coffee!

The reason it works?

It’s so low-commitment that pretty much anyone can do it and not miss a couple of dollars they put down.

If you have a low introductory price – or can create a special one for the people who click through your ad – this can be a really effective way to draw people in.

I get it, stop guilt tripping me over my Starbucks addiction already.

It’s only a cent difference, but this example from Spotify is so much more compelling than the whole-dollar offer above.

There’s actually a scientific reason for that: it’s called the “Left Digit Effect,” and it means that your brain catches on the leftmost digit of a price. The leftmost digit in this ad is 0. They’re practically giving it away!

10. Use Drool-worthy Photography

I can’t be the only person who can mindlessly scroll past a dozen of my friends’ posts on Facebook and then linger on a Tasty video for 10 minutes.

There’s just something about delicious food that really makes people stop and look; if you are in the food industry, you’d better be taking advantage of it.

This post isn’t even about smoothies specifically, but I can’t stop ogling these works of edible art.

11. Capitalize on FOMO

Take a cue from a million Outbrain ads, and instill your target audience with FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).

This is really just a more specific version of our sixth hack, creating a curiosity gap, but it goes one step further.

Look at the copy: “Who knew this was possible?” “The secret Expedia trick millennials know that you don’t” “If you ever book anything online, you need to check this out.”

Top it off with a jealousy-inducing photo of a dream vacation, and Honey’s struck FOMO gold here.

12. Tell a Story in Carousel Format

Facebook has long offered carousel format ads, which allow mobile users to swipe left and right through a series of images. (Desktop users can click the arrows.)

Instead of using a collection of eye-pleasing images, you can incorporate text that tells a story as viewers swipe through your ad, like Walmart does in the example below.

13. Tug on Heartstrings (When Appropriate)

Tugging on a few heart-strings can be a very effective way to make someone stop scrolling and take in your ad.

Just remember that this approach doesn’t work for every situation; you’re probably not going to get people really emotional over a purse sale.

But it can work more often than you might think; for example, you could create a campaign around a charity that your business contributed to in some way.

This ad is well-targeted to seek donations, with a bittersweet photo of a child with cancer, compelling ad copy, and a CTA button that says “Donate Now.”

You don’t have to use this strategy just to seek out donations! In this example, an organization is promoting their event.

Depending on your goals, it may be easier to get people to act if you aren’t directly asking for donations.

14. Paint a Picture of a Better Life

Another classic marketing adage: People don’t buy products, they buy better versions of themselves.

This works especially well if what you are selling is an intangible service or digital product: you’re not selling the product, you’re selling everything the customer will become once they have your product.

This is another example of a strategy where you need to have really strong targeting. But if you nail it, it can be super effective.

This example is marketing a course, but the copy and the image are marketing so much more: the idea of being your own boss, able to work on your laptop from anywhere in the world.

15. Personalize with Facebook Ad Retargeting

With a more advanced setup, you can use Facebook ads to retarget people who have visited your website recently, or even abandoned their cart.

This example is more than just a carousel of products; these are products I actually recently added to my cart on LL Bean’s website.

Not only are they retargeting me with this ad, but they’re trying to entice me with a promo code. Must… resist…

Wrapping Up

As you’ve seen from the examples above, there are a lot of marketing hacks and other simple tricks you can use to make your Facebook ads more compelling.

Here’s a quick list of the tips above, for your reference:

  • Keep it simple.
  • Be eye-catching.
  • Create a sense of urgency.
  • Advertise an opt-in offer.
  • Use simple videos to draw attention.
  • Create a curiosity gap.
  • Make your product the hero.
  • Use flattery.
  • Offer an irresistible intro price.
  • Use drool-worthy photos.
  • Capitalize on FOMO.
  • Tell a story through an ad carousel.
  • Tug on some heart-strings.
  • Paint a picture of a better life.
  • Personalize your ad with retargeting.

Of course, this is hardly an exhaustive list, but it’s a great place to get started.

Need some help with creating your Facebook ad? Our unlimited graphic design service can help!

What other marketing hacks have you seen brands using on Facebook lately? Share in the comments!