The Anatomy of a Facebook Ad – 6 Elements to test

6 facebook ad elements you need to test

What makes a successful Facebook Ad?

Is there a formula, a blueprint you can implement to guarantee awesome click throughs, and cheap conversions?

There is, but... it is specific to your audience, your offer, and your brand.

However in order to find that perfect formula or blueprint that is going to work for your campaign, you need a baseline. You need to figure out a foundational strategy of how you put your ads together, and a few advanced tactics to test out to start seeing what clicks (don’t pardon the pun!), and that is exactly what we do in this post.

The First Message - Top Ad Text

The first part of your ad is the top section tex really the main copy of your adt. As users scroll down this is first text they will see, it has to stop them mid scroll.

This is where you grab the people and let them know what your offer is all about.

But with everything that is going on on Facebook how do you stop your audience in their tracks and make them take notice?

Well let’s stop for a second and think of a common scenario. Let’s say you are in a coffee shop and there are a dozen or so people all talking around you, a tv showing the news up above and music playing in the background, lot’s of sensory stimuli right?

What would draw your attention in this instance?

Someone saying something outrageous in the background? - yes but you wouldn’t engage right, that’d be weird.

What about if someone asked you a question?

Hard to ignore that right?

1. Test opening your ad with a question like the ad below

Use questions in your ad copy

Even if you have no interest in engaging with the person asking you the question, you must acknowledge them, or that would just be rude. Even a simple yes or no is a method of engagement, and the same is true on Facebook.

If a Facebook post poses a question no matter your interest it is hard not to answer it, even if the answer is no. Actually if they do answer no that is actually a win for you as you won’t be wasting a click on someone who isn’t interested in your brand or offer.

Asking a question as the first line on your ad is a common tactic you will see as you study ads from other top brands and marketers. While there are many tactics for drawing people's attention to your ad, the questions method is the easiest for not only gaining that attention but attracting the right clicks.

it is the first small conversion on your way to acquiring a new customer.

2. Is This a Novel or a Sound Bite? - Length of Copy

One thing that is going on right now in the Facebook Ad space is testing out really LONG copy, like 300+ word long copy. Testing the length of copy in your ad sets is a great way to see how different types of users consume content. Some people are glancers or skimmers, and a short punchy line will draw them right in, others need to know exactly what’s going on. For them a nice long mini blog to describe your offer may be just what they need to click on your ad and convert.

Check out this ad from Facebook ads guru Keith Kranc:

log sales copy Facebook ad example
Does long copy work for facebook ads?

A good way to test the long content strategy is promoting a blog post that is a list post or a video that goes through something like 10 points or 10 tips to help you do x. Write out the first 3 or 4 points in your content as the ad copy.If the first couple points grab the users attention, and they see it as valuable, they will want to know what else you have to say on the topic and click on the ad. This is what Keith is doing in the ad above. You are guiding your prospect through small conversions to hopefully lead to your BIG conversion.

Whether it is short copy or long copy, it needs to provoke the user into action. The job of the top ad text is to sell the click. Identify your targets problem and make sure you sell them through your copy, that YOU have the solution on the other side of the click.

The Ad Image - Turn heads and makes your impression

If the ad copy in the top text of your ad does enough to garner the user's attention it is now the job of the image to make your first impression. It should be eye catching, and look professional, that’s obvious.It should also reinforce the ad copy, either with an image that shows your product or service in use, or a branding image that utilizes the 20% text rule showcasing your call to action or headline.

using canva for facebook ads

careful with showing too much skin - however attractive people always works

While you do not need to use text in your image, just be aware of the rules if you do. Facebook only allows your ad images to be filled with 20% text. So choose the text you use wisely and make sure to check your ad images using the 20% grid tool here: link to grid tool

In addition to the ad text rules there are other guidelines you need to follow in order to ensure your ads get approved and your account is in good standing.

Many in the healh niche can run into problems with things like before and after pictures, as well as images that may get flagged as inappropriate for being, well….too revealing.

It is a good idea to review the ad guidelines regularly to make sure your ads won’t cause you any grief.

3. Graphic Images or Photos? - Unlock your inner designer

Your ad images are one of the first things most people test in their ads, as it is the most eye catching and attention grabbing part of the ad. Use of color is very important, you want to use vivid backdrops that are a good contrast to the white and blue of the rest of Facebook.If you don’t have professional product or brand images that’s ok, graphical ad images work great.

using canva for facebook ads

If you can’t afford to hire a designer use a free tool like - it is a great program for creating professional looking graphics. There is a Facebook Ad template inside the program so you are sure you are creating the perfect size image for Facebook.Some of the graphics and images do cost money ( only $1 per asset) but there are a lot of free ones that work great as well, not mention a huge amount of great fonts to use for your text.

graphic ad

Attention grabbing graphic image   that could easily be made in Canva

photo ad

A lot of people in the marketing world know James Wedmore so a good picture of him works well.

Your First Test Should Be Your Image

The most important thing is to test, test , test. For small budgets I would recommend testing 2 images per ad set. Larger budgets should test out a minimum of 3, more likely 4 images per ad set.

Now be aware of testing within an ad set, Facebook likes to pick winners early and put all of your ad set budget to the winning ad (in this case…. winning image). I will do a post on testing soon (click here to get on the email list so you don’t miss it! - shameless plug!), but if this is happening to you you may want to split your ad budget and test different images inside ad sets.

This way you can let them run side by side long enough so YOU can pick the winner and not Facebook.

Obviously ad images are a big topic, you really need to take the time as you scroll through your news feed and pay attention to what ads are grabbing you with their imagery. Take a screenshot and add it to your swipe file for future reference.

You do have a swipe file right?


Let me help you with that:

Facebook Ads swipe file downlioad

Your Ad Headline is about clarity

On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar. -David Ogilvy

Well what is there to say about headlines? A lot! - Ever since the days of print media the headline has always been the most important part of any advertisement. A great headline is the holy grail of great ad copy.

There are many different theories on ad headlines, in fact ad headlines are probably a blog post all its own. (Insert another plug for you to join my email list here)

How about a starting point?

A simple strategy for Facebook ad headlines is to use the headline from your landing page. This helps bridge the continuity between your ad on Facebook and the page the user lands on. This way the user knows they are in the right place.

The key is to not get too fancy with your words here. Be as clear as you can as to what the user is going to find on the other side of the click.

In fact some advertisers have found success being extremely literal in their headlines.

4. Bracketed Headlines for Clarity

Let’s say your ad is pointing to a blog post, try putting the words -[Blog Post] - before the headline, showing the user that this post will take them to a piece of content not a sales page.

clear Facebook ad headlines

If you are displaying an ad to a free opt-in like an ebook, free course, ect you can try the tag [Download] before the headline. This is a small but good way to start creating trust with your future customers through transparency.

we know exactly what Frank is promoting here [Free Training].

These are things you would definitely want to test to see how your audiences respond.

Another thing to make sure to check your ad previews before you publish, long headlines work great on desktop newsfeed ads but get cut off on right sidebar, and also can be cramped on mobile newsfeeds.

So if your headline copy is getting wordy make sure you can get your message across on all platforms. As you get more advanced I would recommend splitting your ads by desktop, mobile, and right sidebar so you can design the ad specifically for that display space.

Button text and Call to Action - What do I do here?

5. To button or not to button.

Facebook has put in a call to action button to helps us clearly identify to the user what it is we want them to do on our post. While we have already spoken about making your intentions clear to the user, sometimes it might be better to make our ad look more like a regular post.

Gary Vaynerchuk describes this as being native to the platform. People are not on Facebook to see ads, so if your ad looks less like an ad and more like a regular news feed update with interesting content, it will get more click throughs.We have seen when taking away the call to action button IN SOME CASES has lead to better click through rates. Again this is something worth TESTING in your ads to see what works best.

If you are thinking of using the call to action button, studies have shown that the “learn more” button is the best performing of the bunch.

the learn more button is best cta on facebook ads

6. Hacking the URL Field

Another clever tactic you can observe by studying some of the top advertisers on Facebook is using the display URL field as another call to action.

Facebook does not make you have to put a URL in the display URL field, you can put whatever you like.

How about: “Click here to download the free guide >>>”

Test that against the call to action button, and test that against now button and no URL text.

Here is an example of the URL field being used this way:

using the url field in facebook ads for cta

While the text runs a little long it is a good example of this tactic in action

The Facebook Ad Blueprint is Ever Changing

What you will find as you observe the marketing being done through Facebook ads is that there is no perfect blueprint or formula. There is NO perfect text length, no perfect image, no perfect CTA. It is all about testing, testing , testing. You need to see what ad styles work for your audience. As a good marketer you should be in tune with all the different tactics that are being used on the platform, but don’t throw all the fancy stuff into one ad. Test 1 tactic at a time with each audience and make small adjustments.

To help find new tactics and ad-builds to test on your audience you need to stay in tune to what the brands you interact with on a daily basis are doing. Especially the companies and brands that are spending thousands a day in ads.

How do you keep up? You do what advertisers have been doing since the beginning of media, you create a swipe file. In the old days you needed to buy all the newspapers and magazines on the rack ,grab a pair of scissors and a scrapbook. Now - the “printscrn” button and as google doc. it is easy to create your own Facebook Ads swipe file for inspiration.To help get you started we have assembled over 120 ads in a streamlined PDF as well as an editable powerpoint so you can ad to the collection.

I call it the Facebook Ads Blackbook:

You will see some of the tactics we talked about in this post as well as other copy tricks and ad blueprints some of the best marketers and brands are using right now. Then test some of those ideas for yourself.

Download it Here:

Facebook Ads swipe file downlioad

Jay Broyer

Hi I'm Jay the founder of , I been involved with small business web design and brick and mortar digital marketing since 2009. I cut my teeth in online marketing promoting my solo music career and brought those skills to my 9-5. Now I want to help other small businesses get ahead using paid traffic strategies.

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Study the Pro's Download the Facebook Ads Blackbook  120+ Facebook AD Swipe File >>


Struggling With Your ADS? Study the pro's!

Facebook Ads Swipe File
I've collected over 120 Facebook ADs from top marketers and brands and put them into this FREE Blackbook Swipe File.
  • Discover the copy tricks of top marketers
  • Learn high level tactics from my own notes on select ad examples
  • Space to jot down your own notes, I even include a PowerPoint file so you can add to your own Facebook ADs Blackbook!