Aug 6, 2021 8 min read

How to scale Facebook ads to drive sustainable growth

How to scale Facebook ads to drive sustainable growth

With more than a third of earth’s population on Facebook, the platform gives brands a massive opportunity to sell their products and services to people who would otherwise never know them.

With more than a third of earth’s population on Facebook, the platform gives brands a massive opportunity to sell their products and services to people who would otherwise never know them. In order to expand their reach, brands need to scale their Facebook ads. This simply means investing profits to reach a bigger audience, thus driving more sales.

Successfully scaling Facebook ad campaigns can be a complete game-changer for your business—no matter what stage it's in. In order to get there, you need a data-backed strategy, laser-focused attention to detail, and patience. Otherwise, you risk wasting precious dollars on a campaign that falls flat.

In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about scaling Facebook ads—from strategy to budgeting to optimization. But before you spend any more money, you need to know if and when you’re ready to scale your Facebook ads.

When to scale a Facebook ad campaign

Once your ads have been running for at least 48 hours, Facebook will provide adequate data to make an evidence-based decision as to whether you should scale, maintain, or kill a campaign.

The strongest indicator your ad is ready to scale is profitability. Specifically, you should dig into your Return On Ad Spend (ROAS). In most cases, you should aim for a ROAS that’s at least 20% positive before you scale. That said, if your business is comfortable acquiring users at a loss in order to grow rapidly, you can get away with scaling ads that have a lower ROAS.

It’s crucial to be objective about the data at this stage. You might be especially proud of an ad’s clever headline or cool image, but if it’s not converting customers, you’ll throw money down the drain trying to scale it.

Once you’ve identified the profitable ad(s) you want to scale, there are two different directions you can take.

Vertical scaling vs. horizontal scaling: What’s the difference?

Broadly speaking, the two most common ways to scale Facebook ads are vertically and horizontally. Scaling ads vertically (also called “scaling up”) involves increasing your current campaign’s budget, without making changes to the ads’ structure, to reach more people.

horizontal-vs-vertical-scaling-diagram.png

By contrast, scaling ads horizontally involves spreading your budget across a fleet of smaller audiences (ad sets), testing the effectiveness of various ad creative and promotional offers along the way.

So, which strategy should you choose? It depends.

Should you scale your Facebook ads vertically or horizontally?

There isn’t a plug-and-play formula for choosing your scaling strategy. However, answering the following two questions will simplify your decision:

Do you need to scale quickly? Assuming you already have some experience with Facebook ads, horizontal scaling is likely your best bet because you can increase your ad spend to any level you want right off the bat. The downside is there’s more inherent risk with scaling ads horizontally since it can take longer to see which ad sets are performing best.

Do you want to mitigate risk and aim for slow, steady growth? If so, go with vertical scaling (especially if you’re new to Facebook advertising). Many brands prefer this approach because it requires less testing, and once you’ve found a profitable niche, all you really need to do is boost your budget.

Let’s dive deeper into both of these strategies.


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How to scale Facebook ads vertically

The key to vertical scaling is making incremental—not drastic—budget increases every three to five days (assuming your campaign is yielding a profit) while keeping a close eye on performance.

Let’s say you’re an e-commerce brand selling hats. A few days after launching an ad campaign targeted at fashion-forward women in their thirties, you notice a small spike in sales.

Scaling this ad campaign vertically means you’ll invest a portion of your profits into that same campaign. Deciding how much to increase your ad spend by depends on two factors:

  1. How much money you’re currently spending
  2. How many people you’re trying to reach

You may have encountered advice along the lines of “Don’t increase your budget by any more than 20% at a time.” This is a solid recommendation if you’re already spending thousands of dollars per month. However, if you’re just getting started, a 20% increase might not make much of an impact.

For example, if your current budget for the e-commerce hat company is $10 per day, a 20% increase would put you at $12 per day. Scaling in such small increments can make it difficult to glean actionable insights and reach your desired audience in a timely fashion. Instead, you could go from $10 to $20. Yes, that’s a 100% increase, but for that budget range, it’s manageable and realistic.

If you spend too much too quickly, your ROAS could plummet. That’s because it throws off Facebook’s algorithm that optimizes your ad delivery.

If your ROAS plateaus, this can be a sign you’ve tapped your existing audience. In that case, you’ll have to expand your target audience by adding more interest groups or removing some filters.

How to scale Facebook ads horizontally

Using the same example above, let’s say you notice a specific ad converting amongst a niche audience of single college students, but you have a hunch your product will resonate with other demographics and interest groups. With horizontal scaling, you can target several different audiences to see if your campaign resonates elsewhere.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Identify your most successful ad set. Remember, you’re looking for a high ROAS.
  2. Duplicate the ad set and choose how many copies you want to make.
  3. Adjust ad targeting for each new ad test. This is where things can get tricky since you need to avoid audience overlap. There are a few ways to find new audiences, which we’ll cover below.

Here are three tactics you can use to expand your reach.

1. Target new interest groups

If you’ve had success with audiences interested in home cooking, you can use Facebook’s Audience Insights feature to see what else this audience is interested in. This could be DIY crafting, for example.

Facebook will indicate the Relevance Score, audience size, and Affinity Score of the recommended pages so you can choose the page(s) that suit you best.

This isn’t a cut-and-dried technique, and it will require some testing, but it certainly beats targeting random interest groups.

2. Create a lookalike audience

This tool leverages Facebook’s database to identify people who share similar characteristics with your target audience. This starts by uploading your customer list, an email list, or pixel data. Next, define how big you want your lookalike audience to be. This should be between 1,000-50,000 people, although larger audiences tend to have fewer similarities. Then, Facebook’s algorithm will automatically generate a lookalike audience.

It’s generally best to target a 1-5% lookalike of previous customers. This ensures you strike a balance of the best prospects without overlapping.

3. Expand to new markets

If you’re not selling a location-specific product or service, you can expand your reach by running ads in different parts of the country (or the world).

Let’s say you’ve only marketed to audiences in the Midwest. You can target that same interest group in different areas and track performance after a week in your Ads Manager report. If you want to take a broader approach, you can target entire countries then refine your campaign based on the top performers.

Experiment with your ad’s copy and images for optimum performance

Your ad creative—the words and images used in your advertisement—will make or break your campaign’s performance. According to Facebook, people only spend an average of 1.7 seconds with a piece of content on their mobile device.

Bottom line: you can’t afford to churn out mediocre ads.

One of the most efficient ways to grab users’ attention is to consistently tweak your ad’s creative, measure performance, and double down on your highest performers. If you’ve ever noticed a brand serve you an ad for the same product, but with a slightly different headline or link description, this is the strategy they’re using.

A solid starting point is about five ad variations per campaign. Coming up with clever ad copy week after week can be daunting. That’s where Copy.ai comes in: our AI-powered tool generates dozens of options for Facebook primary text, headlines, and link descriptions in a matter of seconds. All you have to do is enter a quick description of your brand.

With copy ideation on autopilot, you can spend less time writing and more time scaling your ads (and your business). Here’s a quick demo for using Copy.ai to write primary text copy at lightning speed:


Run A/B tests to refresh your creative

Let’s say you generate five new headline ideas for an ad, and you want to see how they stack up against your old headline. You can test them by running an A/B test (also called a Split Test) in Facebook Ads Manager.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Head over to the Ads Manager main table.
  2. Select the campaigns or ad sets you want to use for an A/B test.
  3. Select “A/B Test“ from the toolbar.
  4. Select an available variable and follow the instructions.

For comprehensive directions on A/B testing, check out Facebook’s official guide.


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Track these 2 key metrics as you scale your Facebook ads

No matter which strategy you use to scale your Facebook ads, there are two key performance indicators (KPIs) you should have a pulse on at all times: ROAS and CPA.

1. Return on ad spend (ROAS)

ROAS measures how much revenue you generate for every dollar spent on Facebook advertising. This is the primary indicator of the health of your campaign.

ROAS can be impacted by profit margins, cost of goods, and other expenses. However, AdEspresso notes that a ROAS of 4:1 indicates a successful campaign. That means you earn $4 in revenue for every $1 spent on ads.

2. Cost per action (CPA)

CPA indicates the total cost for a customer to take the desired action, such as a newsletter signup, app download, or another conversion metric. Your CPA will likely fluctuate as you scale your Facebook ads—that’s to be expected. However, you should designate a cap on your CPA so you don’t blow your budget.

As you can see on the chart below, the average CPA varies greatly by industry:

image.png

Source: Instapage

Tracking both of these metrics ensures you always have a pulse on conversions (CPA), which may not be a direct purchase, as well as how profitable your ads are (ROAS).

Bigger budgets don’t always produce better results

When you start to see your ads convert customers, it can be tempting to blindly dump money into your campaign, cross your fingers, and hope for the best. But as you’ve seen in this article, scaling Facebook ads requires a delicate balance of art and science (literally).

You’ll also likely encounter your fair share of articles and YouTube videos claiming they have the secret to “hack” Facebook’s algorithm. But at the end of the day, successfully scaling your Facebook ads comes down to three things:

  • A strategy tailored to your unique situation
  • Creative that’s backed by data
  • Thorough testing

When all three of these factors are in sync, you set yourself up for sustainable growth.

Create your own winning Facebook ads with Copy.ai. Use our AI-powered copywriting tools to quickly generate social ad copy, headlines, product descriptions, and so much more. Get started today for free!

Blake Emal
Blake Emal
CMO @ Copy.ai
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