How to Build a Facebook Ad Funnel for Maximum ROI

By Jason Carroll · Updated Sep 15, 2023

Facebook (now part of Meta) remains a place where brands can advertise to boost awareness, generate leads, and increase sales. It’s the most popular social network, and with a monthly user base of 2.79 billion, ignoring it can be detrimental. But to succeed on the platform, you must know how to build a Facebook Ads funnel.

What Is a Facebook Ads Funnel?

This is a system of ad campaigns designed to take users from the point of awareness to conversion. It's essential because creating immediate demand on Facebook is rare, unlike Google, where many searchers have commercial intent.

In other words, conversions are unlikely to occur the first time someone sees your brand or ad. That’s why learning how to build a Facebook Ad Funnel is crucial. It warms up your target audience and moves them from a brand unaware searching to a brand aware searcher.

The Importance of Segmentation

Tailoring your campaigns for distinct audience segments significantly increases the likelihood of making sales.

For example, this ad by Marvel is targeting readers of comics and Marvel fans primarily. They framed the messaging in a way that speaks to fans, not people new to Marvel or reading comics. This increases the conversion potential for Marvel’s ad.

Understanding Facebook Ads Detailed Targeting Options

Facebook’s detailed targeting options for advertisers changed last year. The platform eliminated certain targeting parameters, including those overly specific, rarely used, and overlapping with existing options.

They also removed targeting options that may be sensitive or controversial. Namely, those that pertain to health conditions, racial or ethnic background, political affiliations, religious beliefs, or sexual orientation.

As a result, the number of targeting options decreased. Some of these changes were also partly due to third-party cookies going away, privacy regulations, and Apple’s IDFA update. 

Nevertheless, you can still slice and dice your audience in various ways within Facebook Ads.

  • By interest: Target audiences based on their hobbies or things they're passionate about.
  • By demographics: Use age, gender, location, etc., to hone in on a specific group.
  • By behavior: Leverage data on how users interact with your website, apps, or Facebook page.
  • By brand relationship: Target users who have already purchased, engaged with your posts, or are new to the brand.

Beyond the above, there are also several detailed targeting strategies that you can leverage.

  • Broad Targeting: This involves setting generalized parameters and trusting Facebook's delivery algorithm to identify the ideal audience for your ads. This method can uncover potential customers you might not have identified otherwise.
  • Custom Audiences: These audiences are people already familiar with your brand, either on Facebook or Instagram. The source data for creating these groups can be customer lists, website and app traffic, engagement metrics, and even offline activity.
  • Lookalike Audiences: You generate these audiences based on characteristics shared with your existing audience. This helps extend reach to people similar to your current customers who have yet to interact with the brand. You must feed Facebook an audience source (customer lists, website visits, etc.).
  • Meta Advantage Lookalike: This targeting strategy expands the typical 1-10% lookalike range if the system believes it will boost performance. You maintain control over the initial audience used to create the lookalike group. The feature is also applied automatically for some campaign objectives.
  • Meta Advantage Detailed Targeting: Facebook's algorithm may venture beyond your explicitly set targeting criteria if it anticipates doing so will enhance campaign performance. Like the Meta Advantage Lookalike, you'll automatically opt-in for some campaign objectives.

Leveraging suitable targeting options will help you make the most of Facebook Ads.

Step-By-Step: How to Build a Facebook Ad Funnel

Here’s a step-by-step process for creating your Facebook Ad Funnel.

1. Define Your Target Audience

Intimately knowing your brand's target audience is crucial because tailored ads resonate better, increasing the likelihood of conversions. Consider various factors like geographical location, demographics, and psychographics to understand your target audience.

One way to streamline the process is to create buyer personas. These semi-fictional representations of ideal customers can improve target audience understanding, allowing you to refine marketing strategies and tactics for the best results.

Buyer persona documents usually include the following sections.

  • General information: Basic identifiers like name, job title, and industry.
  • Demographics: Factors like age, gender, income level, and education.
  • Geographic information: Where the persona lives, including urban, rural, or suburban settings.
  • Psychographics: Cover values, interests, lifestyle, and personality traits.
  • Pain points: Identify challenges, needs, and objections.
  • Goals and objectives: Short-term and long-term goals that the persona aims to achieve.
  • Online behavior: Preferred social networks, research habits, and shopping preferences.
  • Brand interactions: Where and how the persona typically engages with your brand.
  • Communication preferences: Preferred channels and frequency of communication.
  • Additional information: Any other relevant details like competitor awareness or specific quotes.

2. Design Your Facebook Ad Funnel

How will you guide the audience from brand awareness to conversion and beyond? 

Get it all on paper just like you would any marketing plan. Design your funnel with specific goals at each stage (ToFu, MoFu, and BoFu).

  • Top of the Funnel (ToFu): This stage is about increasing brand awareness within your target demographic. Strategies may include crafting ads that give a quick snapshot of your brand's offers, launching a referral contest, and sharing various content types catering to differing interests.
  • Middle of the Funnel (MoFu): Lead generation and nurturing are the primary focus. You could engage customers by answering their questions, sharing content about your products, and using retargeting campaigns.
  • Bottom of the Funnel (BoFu): At this juncture, the emphasis shifts to conversion and retention. Tactics for this stage may include running special promos (free trials, discounts, etc.) and deploying targeted ads showcasing products based on show-of-interest.

Distrust among consumers increases as more people get hurt by deceptive advertising, which isn’t good. It has led to a demand for more openness, spurring the emergence of various advertising regulating bodies committed to ensuring consumers receive truthful and accurate product information.

3. Optimize Every Stage for Mobile

As you design your Facebook Ad funnel, ensure your decisions consider mobile users. This is imperative because more consumers use mobile devices today than ever before. Not to mention, most people use Facebook on a mobile device.

Here are some best practices to ensure your funnel is mobile-friendly.

  • Use slideshows: Rather than use a single static image, create slideshows. This makes the ad more dynamic and engaging for users scrolling through their mobile feeds.
  • Keep Ads between 10-15 seconds: Mobile users typically favor quick, easily digestible content. Limiting your videos to 15 seconds can help maintain user engagement while conveying your message effectively.
  • Utilize 9:16 ads for vertical screen space: Most mobile users don't rotate their phones to watch videos. Using a 9:16 aspect ratio for your ads ensures they take up the maximum vertical screen space, providing a more immersive experience.
  • Overlay text on videos: Making it possible to watch your videos with sound on or off increases accessibility, letting users engage with your content in various settings.
  • Begin and end with your brand message: This strategy ensures that even if someone doesn’t watch the entire ad, they can still get a sense of your brand.

4. Create Facebook Ads

Once you’ve designed the Facebook Ad funnel, it's time to start creating your ads. That also means you need to craft the content.

Here are some considerations.

  • Audience-centric content: Work closely with your marketing team to create tailored content for each buyer persona. This could be blog posts, videos, infographics, slideshows, etc. The content needs to resonate with your target audience's interests and needs.
  • Re-use old content: Look for past content that performed well organically and consider how to leverage them for your funnel. For example, you could repurpose a blog post to create an eBook.
  • Diversify: Don't stick to one type of content. Instead, offer a diverse mix to keep your audience engaged.

After content creation, it’s time to create your campaigns on Facebook Ads Manager. The platform is straightforward, and you can use the Accounts Overview page to start.

Here are some tips for making the most out of your ads.

  • Target wisely: Only cast a wide net if it makes sense for your purpose. Focus ads on people who interacted with your brand (or warm leads) — for example, Facebook page followers, visitors to your website, engaged profile visits, etc.
  • Promote what works: Start by promoting your best-performing Facebook posts if you have some. These already have significant organic engagement, making them prime candidates for paid promotion.
  • Install the Facebook Pixel: This tool tracks user behavior after they click on your ad, providing valuable data you can use for retargeting.
  • Ad types: Since video is about 70% of global mobile traffic, consider using engaging video ads to promote your products or services. Ensure the format aligns with your content strategy and audience preferences.
  • Analytics: Regularly monitor the performance of your ads through Facebook Analytics to understand which ones are most effective. Focus on reach, engagement, and conversions as key metrics. Refine your strategies based on insights garnered to improve future campaigns.

5. Use Remarketing

Remarketing is a strategy that targets individuals who previously interacted with a brand. It’s a great way to nurture a cold audience into a warm one, ready for conversion. 

But where does remarketing fit in this guide on how to build a Facebook Ad Funnel?

Answer: At the consideration and conversion stages of your ad funnel.

You see, first impressions are seldom enough to drive conversions on Facebook. Remarketing provides repeated exposure that keeps your brand in consumers’ minds. These repeated encounters increase their familiarity and comfort level, making them more likely to engage and convert.

Here are several ways to retarget audiences on Facebook.

  • Website visits: Target users who have visited your website but have yet to take any significant action, like making a purchase (must install Facebook Pixel to track site activity).
  • Web page visits: More specific than website visits, this targets users who have visited particular pages on your site.
  • Event interactions: If you’ve hosted events, you can target attendees or those who showed interest but didn’t attend.
  • Engagement: Remarket to users who interacted with your posts.
  • Video engagement: Target individuals who have watched your videos. The extent of their engagement can also be a parameter for targeting (e.g., 25%, 50%, or 75% observed).
  • Custom Audiences: As noted earlier, this lets you target a group of users based on pre-existing interactions.

6. Engage the Audience

One of the key elements of a successful Facebook Ad funnel is to engage the audience in their preferred communication channels. For most brands, this will be using Facebook Messenger or the comments section.

Here are some considerations.

  • Be there when it matters: Quick replies to comments or messages can instill trust and elevate brand credibility.
  • Foster trust through active engagement: People are more likely to convert from prospects to loyal customers if they see your brand is actively engaged.
  • Streamline engagement with AI tools: Consider using built-in AI-powered features like Inbox Suggestions in Meta Business Suite (formerly Saved Replies) and Instant Replies to expedite responses to frequently asked questions or common concerns. Inbox Suggestions are automatic reply suggestions based on the context of your conversation. Instant Replies are messages you configure to be sent automatically as your page's first response to new messages.

7. Incentivize Purchases

Once you've cultivated a receptive audience, the next step is to encourage them to make a purchase gently.

You can do that by sharing content that guides them to specific landing pages. For example, this ad by Under Armour uses a discount to nudge prospects to become customers.

The incentive approach is often more effective than just asking people to buy something. 

You can also start with a small ask that costs the prospect nothing before the big one. For instance, this HubSpot ad sends people to a landing page that asks for their name and email address to download the free guide.

The ask is small, and the audience gets something they'll probably love for free. So, people may seriously consider it when HubSpot sends a promo offer for their software in the future (which helps with brand building).

Other effective ways to encourage a conversion include the following.

  • FOMO: Add a time-sensitive element to exploit the audience's fear of missing out (FOMO). For example, Under Armour could add something like “only available until this Friday” to increase engagement.
  • Social proof: Show off customer testimonials or reviews to reassure people they can trust you.
  • Likability: Use the liking principle by showcasing a relatable or likable figure (a celebrity, influencer, or happy customer) endorsing the product to increase appeal.

8. Work on Customer Retention

The final step in your Facebook Ad Funnel is to encourage loyalty, which involves delivering exceptional customer experiences — from Facebook to landing page to purchase and beyond.

You can also facilitate customer retention by encouraging repeat purchases through your posts and ads — for instance, retargeting customers with fresh, compelling offers.

Another great way is to implement upselling strategies that are hard to ignore. For example, crafting ad campaigns that reflect previous purchases or related products may prompt customers to buy again.

Referral programs can also be effective. A customer retention strategy should be part of your Facebook Ad funnel from the get-go.

Common Facebook Ad Funnel Templates You Can Use

There are various ways to structure a Facebook Ad funnel. However, businesses typically use a variation of the video and lead-to-sales funnels. The former will work for B2C, while the latter works best with B2B.

The Video Funnel

Video funnels are incredibly effective for captivating cold audiences.

Here's the typical template, which you can edit as needed.

  • Initial video: Start with a video focusing on why your brand exists and the main benefit of your product (leverage storytelling here). Try to cover the most essential things in 15 seconds or less.
  • First retargeting: Target users who watched at least 50% of the initial video. Show them a second video illustrating your product's practical use and benefits.
  • Second retargeting: Retarget users who engaged with at least 75% of the previous video. For example, you can showcase a carousel ad highlighting different product benefits. Consider running multiple versions of these ads.
  • Retarget based on site activity: Finally, retarget based on users' website behaviors, offering them tailored promotions like a 20% discount or free shipping.

The Lead-to-Sales Funnel

This funnel template is handy for businesses offering diverse products or services.

  • Initial campaign: Use the Lookalike Audiences feature to mirror your customers and target a cold audience. Present them with a carousel ad featuring various services or products. Include your USP (Unique Selling Proposition).
  • Segmented retargeting: Retarget users based on which landing pages they visited. Show them a campaign that provides more detailed information about the offering and include a Facebook Lead Ad. You could offer a compelling lead magnet like an eBook or white paper relevant to the page they visited to improve results.
  • Further engagement: Retarget users who filled out the lead form with ads that illustrate or highlight the benefits of your offering. Use CTAs to encourage them to get in touch or become customers.
  • An additional lead magnet for non-converters: Run another campaign offering a new lead magnet or incentive for users who opened the lead form but didn't complete it. Once they convert, direct them back into the funnel.

Remember, these are templates, so feel free to tweak them as you see fit according to your specific business goals and target audience.

Best Practices for Facebook Ad Funnels

Here are some best practices to keep in mind.

Find the Right Niche, But Don't Overdo It

Think of your Facebook Ad funnel as a numbers game: too broad, and you risk losing relevance; overly niche and you'll struggle to find enough prospects to make your efforts worthwhile. 

The ideal approach is to narrow down your target audience enough to keep ads relevant but not so much that you limit reach. Your starting audience should be substantial enough to feed users through the entire funnel.

Diversify Campaigns at Each Stage

Your funnel should have multiple campaigns with different strategies and assets. That’s because people respond to different types of appeals. Diversification helps you cast a wide net within the audience, increasing the chances of conversion.

Embrace A/B Testing

Split testing is crucial when running Facebook Ads. Run parallel campaigns with slight variations and track which strategies are most effective — pinpointing areas of the funnel where people tend to drop off. That way, you can make data-driven adjustments that improve your funnel's efficiency.

Now You Know How to Build a Facebook Ad Funnel

A well-crafted Facebook Ad funnel isn't just a nice-to-have — it's necessary.

Start with brand awareness campaigns and tactically progress to warming up the audience for conversion. And don't underestimate the impact of real-time engagement. Answering comments and direct messages goes a long way in building trust and credibility.

Lastly, remember your Facebook Ad funnel doesn't end with the first purchase. Post-sale customer experience is critical to repeat business.

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Jason Carroll

Jason is the founder of JC Digital, a lifelong storyteller and performance marketer who has helped add $100M+ in revenue to consumer brands over a decade in the industry.

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