Facebook Ads are great tools to promote your brand or business. But they also come with a learning curve when you’re just getting started. That includes learning how long it will take before you should start seeing results of your Facebook ads efforts.
If you want to start generating leads and sales through Facebook advertising, then you need to invest time into learning how to attract the right target audience combined with a quality ad campaign.
Over the past 8 years I have taught the foundations of Facebook advertising to over 1,000 entrepreneurs and small business owners. I have consulted for global social media brands as their resident Facebook ads expert. I am Facebook Blueprint certified and I currently present on behalf of Meta as a Lead Trainer with their Small Business Team at in-person events across North America.
I know Facebook ads and I know how much work it takes to generate results. Let me share some major tips with you.
ROAS - Return On Ad Spend
Return on ad spend (ROAS) measures how much money you’re spending on ads and getting back in terms of revenue.
Getting a positive return on ad spend is what we are all after. But it’s not that easy for everyone to measure. That doesn’t mean your ads aren’t achieving a positive impact on your business, but for some advertisers it is more difficult to measure dollars in vs dollars out with your Facebook ads.
ROAS is easy to calculate if you fall into the goldilocks of advertisers who:
Have an item to sell on your website and
Are tracking conversions of those sales on your website using the Facebook Pixel and/or Conversions API properly configured on your site.
But not all of us are selling from our website. You can’t take a house for sale and add it to cart to check out. (Although, wouldn’t that be nice?)
So that means we need to manage our own expectations and measure the success of our ads in different ways. Because of this it can take longer to see direct results from our ads.
First I’m going to walk you through average timelines to help you manage your results expectations and second I am going to show you a realistic strategy on how you can improve your Facebook ads results.
Estimate 3 Months To See Results
You can run a single ad campaign and potentially see positive results from it in the first few days or a week. Although, from my experience, getting positive results off of your first ad campaign in a new ad account is a rare occurrence. Most business owners start to get the hang of it and start to see positive results after 3 months. I use a minimum 3 month contract with new clients because I understand how long it takes to test and iterate to get results rolling through the account.
Most people learn how to tweak and dial in their targeting and ad creative in the first few campaigns they run, and then start seeing more success gradually as they build momentum. That process takes about 3 months of dedicated testing by trying out a few different audiences for your targeting, adjusting your budget to the tolerance of the audience size, and using a variety of ad creative (images & videos) to see what resonates with your audience. Plus, you yourself are learning a new skill of creating ads which can be slow going at first, but gets easier and faster the more times you do it. To hit a home run on all of these factors on your first ad campaign is ultra rare. I have seen it happen though!
Anticipate spending about 3 to 5 hours a week on your ad campaigns for the first 3 months to get things working. After that, you can do as little as 1 hour a week to keep that momentum going.
It will take you creating several different types of ad campaigns over several weeks to start to get the hang of what’s working. After that it is easer and faster to replicate and perform small tweaks to incrementally increase your positive results.
Don’t be intimidated! Start now, and you will be amazed at how quickly you adapt and learn.
First 24 Hours
hen you publish your Facebook ad campaign, it can take up to 24 hours for Meta’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) to review your ad and approve it for distribution. Some of my ads for clients get approved in less than an hour, and some of my accounts take over 20hrs to get approved. Occasionally an ad gets rejected by the AI review and I need to request a manual review by a human. This can take another 24 hours.
Learn more about Meta’s ad review process here.
Run Your Facebook Ad Campaign For At Least 7 Days
Ideally you want to let your campaign run for at least 7 consecutive days before you start making any big changes or arrive at any conclusions on if the ad campaign worked or not.
I often see business owners get spooked after the first two days of running their Facebook ad campaign and not seeing a positive return. Hang in there.
Plan to run several different campaigns over time and compare your own results to see which campaigns performed better.
The Learning Phase
Your campaign needs time to exit the Learning Phase. This is when the delivery system is exploring the best way to deliver your ad to your chose audience, through your selected ad placements, and working within the confines of your chosen budget. Once your ad campaign achieves at least 50 results, it can exit the learning phase. Until then, your ad results can be unstable and inconsistent during the learning phase.
That means if your chosen objective is Traffic, you will need 50 link clicks to exit the Learning Phase. So if your campaign is limited by budget and you’re struggling to get 50 link clicks, your campaign may never exit the learning phase. Either try adjusting the budget, broaden your targeting, or try a whole new campaign with a different objective if you are struggling to exit the learning phase.
Some Campaign Changes Can Reset The Learning Phase
If you make significant changes to a Facebook ad campaign, it can reset the learning phase. Some of those changes include:
Minimum of 500 Impressions Needed
Another metric you want to achieve before making any decisions on a Facebook ad campaign is getting a minimum of 500 impressions of your ad. Otherwise you don’t quite have enough data to make big decisions off of. That means you need your ad to appear at least 500 times. Thats different than number of people reached.
Reach = number of people
Impressions = number of times those people were served ads
For example, your ad can deliver to 300 people, but be shown 500 times. That would give your campaign an average frequency (the average number of times your ad was served to each person) of 1.6x per person.
Reporting: Learn To Read Your Results
Understanding how to know if your ads are working or if they are struggling will make a huge difference on how long it takes you to correct your course and build more quickly toward positive results.
For example, one of the businesses referred to me showed that they were getting better than average link clicks from their Facebook ad campaign, but none of these clicks were translating into leads or sales. It seemed like the campaign was a waste of money, even tough the reports looked so positive and their cost per click was so cheap.
Upon deeper digging, we could see that all of those clicks were taking place inside the Audience Network. This is one of many of the different places (or “placements”) where your Facebook ads can appear. The Audience Network is a network of apps and games. Your ad in the Audience Network might appear after a player finishes a level and is served an ad before they can continue playing. This can result in a lot of unintentional ad clicks as users try to close the ad to continue playing their game.
In this case, the Audience Network was not providing results. We adjusted the campaign to deliver ads to the Facebook Newsfeed. The costs of the ad clicks went up significantly, but it lead to actual results for the client.
I teach you how to read your results in the 4 Week Facebook Ads Bootcamp, included for all Members of Swift Kick In the Ads.
Taking into consideration all of these factors that help you evaluate the success of your Facebook ads, the single biggest factor on making your ads work for you is managing your expectations.
If you are creating a video ad and trying to build awareness with a reach campaign, then measuring the success of that campaign based on how many clicks it received is unrealistic. If you want clicks, run a traffic campaign designed for clicks. If you want video views, run an ad campaign with a video views objective. Facebook will deliver results based on what you’re asking for.
You wouldn’t send your spouse to the grocery store for milk and judge them poorly if they didn’t pick up steaks as well. If you want steak, ask for steak. But be willing to pay the cost of the results you’re asking for.
Some campaign objectives cost more than others.
Reach & Awareness campaigns are the milk and eggs of campaigns. Lead and conversion campaigns are the filet mignons.
If you have more budget to work with, you can shorten the timeline of how long it takes to get success with your Facebook ads if you are willing to put in the time experimenting to learn what works for you. If you are limited by budget, this process can take longer.
No matter how much budget you have, you still need to put in the work of creating different kinds of campaigns with a variety of different ad creative.
Know Your Audience
If you have expectations of making a ton of sales to a cold audience of people who have never been exposed to you or your content before, then Facebook ads will disappoint. You will find better success breaking your ads up into two phases:
1. Build Awareness (Cold Audience)
2. Retarget (Warm Audience)
That leads us to my go-to Facebook ads strategy when just starting out...
3 Month Facebook Ads Strategy
Here is a Facebook Ads strategy that I use frequently with newly created Ad Accounts.
First 30 Days – Educate & Entertain
Your goal is to “Stop the scroll”, not to sell. We call this group of people your Cold Audience.
Now imagine if you created one piece of content for each of those 4 suggestions and ran it as an ad for 1 week each. That’s you first month of content DONE.
Pro Tip: Make sure this content benefits the viewer, not just your own best interests.
30 to 60 Days – Retargeting
Your goal at this stage is to build relationships by getting your content back in front of people who have already engaged with your brand. We call this group of people your Warm Audience.
It will be tempting to want to ask for sales at this stage. If you can, go for it! But if you’re selling a $1,500 course or a $1.5 Million house, you’re probably going to need one more stage.
60 – 90 Days – Asking For The Sale
Your goal at this stage is to ask your warmed up audience to convert into customers. What works well?
Get name & email address for your sales team to follow up
Give a time sensitive incentive to buy now
Put products directly in front of people ready to buy
If you have been consistently sharing scroll stopping content for two months leading into the sales phase, you should have an audience of people who are ready to buy from you.
Pro Tip: The shorter your sales cycle, the shorter this process can to be. Example: If you’re selling $5 widgets, that’s a yes or no sales pitch. If you’re selling a $5000 piece of furniture, the sales process takes longer. Your ads strategy should mirror your sales cycle.
Swift Kick in the Ads
If you are looking for help learning Facebook ads from the ground-up, I encourage you to join us over in my Facebook ads training Membership, called Swift Kick In The Ads.
It is specifically designed to help newbie advertisers learn in an hands-on encouraging environment with weekly access to a Facebook ads expert to answer questions and guide you through the process.