This is in regards to Facebook ads.
The ad creative itself is - apart from product and audience - the biggest single differentiator in determining whether your ad will make sales or not, and is also the difference between making a click or not.
To help you out with creating your ads, here is a list of important and specific principles that will mean you have a much better chance of performing better with them, based off my own experiences and also the experiences of many other digital ads agencies.
Fundamentally: what sort of ads would have persuaded you? Those are the types that you should aim for.
I apologise in advance if some of this following guide is a bit abstract in nature. Unfortunately - unlike interpreting Facebook ad metrics well or having a whole bunch of profitable plugins with objective ROI numbers to talk about, the creation of ad creatives is a very subjective topic and just requires looking at other people's ads to begin with. You can do that with paid tools or you can just find competitors you respect and see their ads at facebook.com/ads/library.
Luckily, testing ad creatives and knowing which ones are actually performing well is a lot easier as there's some harder numbers there - just look for high CTR (>1%), low CPC (>$1), and whether there's actually any purchases above breakeven point.
1. What's something immediately valuable I should know right now?
User generated content (UGC) is far and away performing better universally for almost everyone with a reasonably successful store. Although you could spend a tonne on professional video ads, don't. People are regularly disappointed by how much better UGC performs, since they spend so much more on that professional stuff. The more native to the platform you're using, the more likely it will be a successful ad.
When it comes to Facebook and Instagram, this means trying to get videos from people that have purchased your product before. You can repurpose all of your reviews (or Instagram influencer videos if you have any) for your ads, with permission of course.
Fundamentally, UGC works at all stages of the funnel.
2. Is it the right ad for the right part of the funnel?
Your ads to cold traffic should look quite different to your ads to warm traffic.
To get more specific on what this looks like and the kinds of ads that work:
Cold traffic ads (TOFU):
Needs to focus on branding, trust elements, attention-grabbing ads, and social proofing to enhance your credibility
If you have products that are selling really well, focus on your winners
Things like single image link posts and video posts work really well
Whilst collections/carousels etc. can work (and I've had them work before), I'd personally save it for MOFU/BOFU parts of the funnel
Engaged audience (MOFU):
Images/videos will work here too
However carousels/collection ads will be the new type of ad creative to include here, now that there's some familiarity, allowing your customer to really dive deep and browse your catalog more
You can also start to really focus on showing more content that shows people using your product in real life (i.e. UGC).
Testimonials also work really well here.
Warm audience (BOFU):
Testimonials perform especially well here
Discounts also perform well
You can combine both of these together
Dynamic creatives that directly call out your product name from your catalog often result in a significant increase in ROAS here too
3. What sort of ad copy should I write?
The best ad copy (writing) doesn't necessarily do all of the following elements, but will almost always have at least some of them:
The words you use in your ads match the words that your customers are using. If you're new to the game, here's my pro tip: look at the reviews on Amazon of your competitors, see what specific words people are using to rave about those products, and then take some of those words and use them.
Your ad calls out your customer demographic. Most likely it's the way they like to be identified, too. So for example, if you do yoga, an ad saying "Yogis everywhere are raving about this new fitness gear from _" will be more appealing than simply saying you have some new clothes in stock. Relevancy is key.
Note that you should be careful not to go too overboard with this. There's no everlasting consequences from it but Facebook will disapprove ads that "assume a customer's condition" e.g. if you start an ad with "Feeling sore?" then Facebook might actually not approve that ad.
Does this product solve a problem for the customer? Call out the problem directly.
In terms of some more specific nitty gritty details:
Varying lengths all work - no particular magic here. I've seen two liners work, full paragraphs work, and extremely long 10 paragraph copy all work for separate products. Match it to your customer and the product.
Stuff like emojis and links are tricks - sometimes they work, sometimes they don't, but they're not universal. I've had ads perform with and without them.
4. What sort of images/video/creative should I use?
NOT overly professional ones. Again, I'd like to super re-emphasize that you want UGC, not overdone stuff. Even if it's not actually user generated content, it should look like it. The basic rule is: if it looks like it was shot on an iPhone and looks like it's appropriate for Instagram, then this is the right quality of image/video.
Make the product at least 1/2 of the image. It's silly to make a random coffee cup sized proportionally more than your product itself, and it does play out in terms of how well your ads perform.
For certain products, a bold splash of color will sometimes make a big difference.
For videos: fundamentally good ones are made of:
An attention grabbing opening (split test these)
Real usage of the product from real customers ideally
Doesn't look like you're dropshipping from Aliexpress (...no matter how true that statement may or not be)
They can be square or 4:5 aspect ratio, both of these work well
Demonstrations of the product
GIFs showcasing your best performing single image creatives, all mashed together into a two frame image (powerfully simple)
Anecdotally, no buttons on a link post seem to perform better than having e.g. a 'Shop Now' button on a link post. I've only heard this from friends and haven't tested super extensively however.
If using Instagram stories, make sure you're using an ad created specifically for it.
5. How much should I spend on my ads?
This is actually a pretty tough question.
You should generally try to have a 50x average order value worth of ad spend for a month, as a very very general rule - so for example. if your product makes you $20, then have an expectation to spend $1,000 in the month. If you don't have this kind of money, you can get away with less (e.g. $500), but the lower you go the lower your chance of finding a successful ad creative in time.
Another way to think about this is to roughly spend about two times your baseline cost per acquisition per day. For example, if it usually costs you about $10 to acquire a customer through other means, then you might try to spend $20/day on Facebook ads.
Unfortunately, it's just about rolling the dice enough times till you hit the one that really wins for you, with your money directly being the number of dice you can roll.
That said, in terms of how you actually run the individual campaigns, that's a whole other topic in itself. But to keep it in general terms, you'd run some fairly low budget ad sets (e.g. $5/day) to individual ad sets in Purchase conversion campaigns, and then see what's working and what's not and do some intense optimisation from there.
When it's working properly, it's not subtle, but actually fairly obvious.
If you read through this whole thing, you'll be miles ahead of quite a big proportion of other people doing eCommerce, or at the very least have a little bit more of a systematic approach to how you approach making Facebook ads.
If you've ever wondered about what types of audiences to target, how much to spend per ad set, what sort of ad creatives work best, and those sorts of questions - then this is pretty much my brain dump to all of the above question after spending thousands on Facebook ads myself.