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3 Tips to Make Your Facebook Ads Stand Out From the Herd

Noran El-Shinnawy
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look-at-meWhen it comes to the anatomy of a Facebook ad, experts agree that people notice them in the following order:

  1. Image
  2. Headline
  3. Body

But for average Facebook users, most ads are simply invisible.

In my previous column, we saw how “bad” ads, those with unconventional images or pictures that don’t typically conform to your guidelines, can be very successful. The same holds true for Facebook, especially when users begin to see the same ads over and over again. The ad fatigue kicks in and people become practically blind to them.

So if you want your ads to stand out, you need to turn them into what Seth Godin refers to as a Purple Cow:

“While driving through France a few years ago, my family and I were enchanted by the hundreds of storybook cows grazing in lovely pastures right next to the road. For dozens of kilometers, we all gazed out the window, marveling at the beauty. Then, within a few minutes, we started ignoring the cows. The new cows were just like the old cows, and what was once amazing was now common. Worse than common: It was boring.

"Cows, after you’ve seen them for a while, are boring. They may be well-bred cows, Six Sigma cows, cows lit by a beautiful light, but they are still boring. A Purple Cow, though: Now, that would really stand out. The essence of the Purple Cow — the reason it would shine among a crowd of perfectly competent, even undeniably excellent cows — is that it would be remarkable. Something remarkable is worth talking about, worth paying attention to. Boring stuff quickly becomes invisible.”

To help turn your Facebook ads into purple cows, here are three simple ideas you can start testing today.

1. Use Unrelated or Unconventional Images

Facebook suggests that you “Use a simple, eye-catching image that is related to your body copy and title.” I disagree.

Facebook targeting has become increasingly more powerful and sophisticated, making it much easier to target the right audience with the most potential to convert, rather than try to convince the masses. This has given advertisers a bit of leeway in terms of being more flexible and creative with their ads.

Consider the following ad from Marketo:

is-the-chupacabra-real-ad

Because I’m constantly used to seeing ads with company logos or attractive young women who have made lots of money from affiliate marketing (ehm!), the Chupacabra image instantly caught my attention.

Here’s another example from aimClear:

ses-book-release-ad

Certainly not the image you’d expect for an ad about a Facebook book. Had that been an image of the book cover or a Facebook logo, it would have surely gotten lost on the page. (Bonus tip: the red border is non-coincidental and worth testing, especially if your image has a lot of blue tones in it)

2. Ask Questions in the Headline

There’s no better way to attract someone’s attention in an ad than talking to them directly rather than talking about how great your company or product are. That’s what Bryan Eisenberg would refer to as a lot less “we we” and a little more “you you”.

Check out the ad below:

you-the-next-rand-ad

Questions are great because everyone has an opinion that they involuntarily share (even if it’s just among themselves). So by asking a question, you’ve automatically gotten a reaction, even if it isn’t a click or a conversion.

3. Break Up Your Body Copy

No one reads anymore. Our self-inflicted ADD has rendered us unable to consume information that isn’t condensed or broken up. But just because you’re constrained by a character limit, doesn’t mean you can’t break your copy up further into smaller chunks.

AppSumo’s ad below is a perfect example:

q-how-do-startups-grow

Notice how the message is much more easily consumed as three impactful points, rather than one long sentence? Also, an engaging question in the headline? What a happy coincidence. They even place more emphasis by adding: “Q:” before the question.

So there you have it. Three simple but effective tips to turn your Facebook ads into purple cows. Now get testing!


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