When it comes to running successful paid campaigns, your creatives are the primary driver of success or failure. Don’t get me wrong – picking the right channels, getting your targeting down, your CPC bids and so on are incredibly important. But your creative is where the rubber hits the road. It’s your gatekeeper. It’s what catches attention. It’s what drives a user to take action.
When setting up your campaigns, or when trying to optimize, it can often be a bit overwhelming deciding what to do and how to approach your campaign creatives. That’s what I want to talk about this week, so let’s dive in.
Rules of the Road
Let’s start with real talk: campaign creatives are a whole universe. At Anyword we have data scientists, AI language models, copywriters, engineers, and – well, basically, there is not a single employee at Anyword that doesn’t deal with campaign creatives on some level. We’ve created a huge and robust new product around it.
For today, what I want to talk about is the approach. What are the baby steps that every marketer should take to get the basics right?
Having said that, it’s also important to note that there is nothing that is set in stone when it comes to creatives. Creatives drive action. People take action, and people are, all told, incredibly unpredictable.
For me, there is nothing more frustrating than a blank screen and a blinking cursor. Having to put together ads from scratch can be especially daunting, because you’re literally putting money on your work. You’re essentially betting on something doing well.
Once you have the content you’re going to promote, there are a few simple rules you can follow to get things going.
- Variety is key. Don’t start with a single creative. More often than not, betting all of your money on a single horse will lead to failure. A good rule of thumb is to start with two to three text variations and two visuals , and then mix and match for a total of between four and six variations for every link you promote.
- Give people a reason to click. In every ad you’re actually asking a person to do something. Ask yourself why they should do what you’re asking them to do, and use that as the foundation for your message. Will they learn something new? Get a discount? Relate to something on an emotional level?
- Go to extremes. If you’re already putting the time in to create multiple ad variations, make each of the count. For each text variation, try using a different angle or approach. So let’s say, for example, you’re promoting a T-shirt. Don’t just talk about how comfortable it is. Try one variation about comfort, another about the multiple colors it comes in, another about how popular it is amongst soccer moms.
- Images are worth a thousand words — or clicks! The image is always the first thing to catch a user’s eye, so standing out is key. Even if you use stock images, try to find ones that don’t feel like stock images. Avoid flat lighting, exaggerated or disingenuous expressions, and the dreaded disembodied hand, which you’ll often find pointing at a meaningless graph. People are remarkably skilled at identifying and filtering out stock images. We all do it all the time without even realizing it.
Side note: while looking for a good image to represent the idea of “saving money on electricity,” I came across a picture of a woman smiling widely while trying to stick a plug into a piggy bank.
A: I think the only people who actually buy piggy banks are stock photographers.
B: I don’t think that anyone in their right mind would consider sticking an electric plug into a piggy bank.
If anything, that photo illustrated insanity, not electricity savings. But I digress…
Long story short – don’t default to the obvious, but also be mindful that you don’t devolve into insanity. Bonus tip: Facebook’s user interface is mainly cool colors — blue and white. Going for something with a warm palette – reds, yellows, etc – will help the creative stand out.
So you’ve been running a campaign for a few days or weeks. It’s doing pretty well but you know there’s still room to grow. Adding new creative variations is a great way to build on past successes. Though unlike starting from scratch, you now have actual data to inform your creatives. So the approach here should be capitalizing on success. Here are a few basic tips:
- Keep what works. If you set things up right, your initial results will be able to give you some insight into what works. So say you want to parse out what text works best for you, compare the performance of different texts that are paired with the same image to see what did better. You can do the same with post text to understand what images are doing well. Pair the top-performing texts with new images, and the top performing images with new text. This is why we love to start with permutations — you set yourself for success while also gaining insight that will help you prolong your campaign, and might even teach you a few things about your offering and target audience.
- Evolve. If a certain angle seems to be working for you, keep it, but change up the style. So back to my t-shirt example, let’s say the message that’s doing best is “These shirts come in a huge variety of colors.” Keep the idea, but change the format. Make it a call to action – “Check out the amazing assortment of colors”. Turn it into a question – “Which of these colors is your favorite?” Give it a lighter twist – “Same shirt, different colors🌈 “
- Don’t overdo it. Since the delivery of the campaign is already optimized, you don’t want to overwhelm it with too much new information. Don’t add too many new variations at once. Four is a good number to stick to.
The Bottom Line
As I said before, when it comes to creatives, there are no hard and fast rules. But the tips I outlined above are methods that we at Anyword have put together over years and literally millions of paid posts. If nothing else, they should give you a good place to start.