October 2019

How I Get Battle-Tested Creative Ideas To Use On My Facebook Ads

Photo of Louis Vieira
Made with 💖 and ☕️ by
Louis Vieira

Today I’m going to show you how I get proven creative concepts for my Facebook ads without any cost, and how you can do the same.

In this article, you will learn:

  1. How to find out what companies will be competing with your company for Facebook’s ad placement.
  2. How to instantly get proven creative concepts from them to use on your own Facebook ads (for absolutely free).
  3. The 3 elements that make or break any Facebook advertisement – that you should be looking out for in your competitor’s ads.
  4. How to analyze the creative concepts you researched before in order to super-charge your own Facebook ads.

I made this article because I know how hard it is to start with a blank sheet when you’re first assembling Facebook (and Instagram) advertisements for your products.

That was until I discovered there’s a way in which you can not only get creative ideas but also design your entire sales funnel strategy with already tested ad concepts.

This article will lay out exactly how I build a foundation when I first start doing Facebook ads for a client, so let’s get right into it:

1. Finding your product’s competitors

Before we begin building our ads, it’s critical to have a broad idea of who our competitors are and if they’re using Facebook to advertise their products.

Knowing this will allow us to get a head-start on what offers and creative ad concepts have been historically successful in whatever niche we’re selling.

Having this information will also save a considerable amount of our ad budget by allowing us to not mindlessly test unprofitable advertising creatives.

Now, for us to do all of this we first need to know who our competitors are, so we’re going to need 3 tools:

Note: In this article, I will be using Zoom and Webex as examples as they are both single-product companies operating in a competitive business space (Video conferencing software).
I’m not affiliated with them in any form, but I fully recommend Zoom as a product.

SpyFu

To start, the first tool we’ll need is SpyFu, which is a well-regarded Adwords spying tool.

Even though this tool is paid, you can still search for basic information about most companies for free – in our case, what matters to us is the list of competitors they provide of most websites.

So, all you have to do here is search any known competitor of your product (or some other business who might share the audience you’re looking to sell to), and then save every relevant brand name that is written on both “Competition” lists below.

Keep doing this with other competitors until you have a considerable list (I would advise having anywhere between 5 to 12 relevant companies that share your desired audience).

After doing that, let’s move on to the next tool.

Note: If you ever reach a search limit, just open SpyFu on an incognito window. (Quick hacker trick)

Owler

Owler is a competitive intelligence tool that is used to keep track of our market environment – this basically means they give updates and business insights on any important news regarding your company or your competitors.

Just like SpyFu, they also let us search for business competitors of most companies, so try to first do that for your business. If it doesn’t work, just search for the biggest competitor in your field.

As you will see, just like SpyFu, Owler provides us a healthy list of our major competitors.

After you finish searching, add the most relevant names to your list and let’s move on to the last competitor tracking tool.

Note: If you ever reach a search limit, just open Owler on an incognito window, just like you did with SpyFu. (Again – quick hacker trick).

Alexa – Similar Websites

Our last tool is a feature from the Alexa website in which you can search for websites that are similar to the one you’ve input.

This is very useful for smaller brands that might not be represented on SpyFu or Owler, who can now also find out who their competitors are.

So first, try searching for your website.

Depending on the search traffic you get, the similar websites might not be so well correlated, and above all, they might just be non-product websites (like blogs, for example).

If this happens, try searching for your biggest competitor and so on, as this usually will be enough to improve your search results on Alexa.

And finally, just add any last relevant competitor you can find on Alexa to your list, and let’s advance to the next phase.

By the end of this chapter, you should already have a substantial list of your brand competitors.

Out of your list, depending on your niche, about 50 to 90% of them will be using paid Facebook ads – which leads us to the next chapter where you’ll learn how to immediately get validated Facebook ad ideas from your competitors.

2. Get proven creative ideas for your Facebook ads (for free)

After knowing your competitors, you can now go search for their Facebook ads.

This will give you the advantage of knowing what your market already expects from you – both creatively (how you design your ads) and substantially (what incentives you should offer in your ads).

So let’s find out how you can spy on your competitors Facebook ads:

Facebook Ad Library

A short time ago, Facebook gave us the incredible possibility to see what advertisements each page was running.

At first, it was a link that you could click on each brand page, but now they’ve moved it to a dedicated page, in which you can search for any company that’s on Facebook.

There’s also the option of picking the country where the advertisements are being run, which only gives you more information to base your ads on.

Now, using the list with the company names you’ve gathered before, start searching for their advertisements on Facebook’s very own ad history tool.

While this won’t give you any ad performance details, it will give you a broad idea of what offers and what creative concepts are working on your desired audience.

For example, taking Webex, which is Zoom’s first paid competitor on the SpyFu report:

The first 3 panels show that their Facebook advertisements are:

  • 1 Free e-book offer – in which the creative is a static image that shows the cover of the e-book.
  • 2 Free trial offers – in which the creative is always groups of people having meetings (either on-line or in-person – and keep this in mind as it will be very important later on)

Knowing this, go back to your competitors’ list and save every Facebook advertisement that you think your customers would likely want to click or know more about.

After this, let’s move on to the last tool in this chapter.

Moat

This tool is similar to Facebook’s ad tool in the sense that it indexes display advertisements for a large number of brands.

Its main point of difference is that it has a large database of ads outside of Facebook, so it serves to give you more data to refine your ads.

This works as a supplement to your advertisement search, so if you’re already satisfied with your previous results, you can skip this part – in some cases, the ads you’ll see on Moat are also recycled for use on Facebook.

If you still here, try searching for the same companies you did on Facebook’s ad tool and then save all the ads you feel that your customers would be interested in clicking on.

After that, you can also search for the name of your product niche in the search bar since Moat has a rather deep range of brands.

Once you finish this, you should have about 10 to 60 really good ads (and most of them should be running on Facebook itself).

Which leads us to the next chapter – what profitable insights can and should you take from these ads?

So let’s take a closer look at this in the next chapter.

3. The 3 Facebook advertising concepts you should always save from your research.

After having saved all of the most eye-catching advertisements your competitors are running on the internet, it’s time to break them apart to see what really makes them great.

With this being said, every advertisement on Facebook will consist of only 3 parts:

  1. The creative (image or video)
  2. The copywriting (the written text part)
  3. The offer it has (the incentive for the click)

Research has already shown us that the creative in advertisements will contribute to 56% of all sales coming from digital media.

However, note that this study was made solely from Consumer Packaged Goods, which is essentially a commodity market – meaning that the creative will be the only major differencing factor between brands.

Now, when it comes to any other type of business model using Facebook ads, yes, the creative is still the most important component, but never discount the importance of the offer that is given on each advertisement.

This last part is especially important in businesses where you need to nurture your customer before you show them ads that point to a check-out page, but we’ll go over this later on.

So, now that you know this, it’s (finally) time to dissect all the advertisements you saved before.

Start by breaking them down in this order: Offer given (what is the incentive to click on them), copy, and creative.

Be very meticulous with this process, and go deep on the details – what offers are they giving, what words are they using and what creative concepts have they chosen (including if they are image or video ads).

These are the major components you should be on the lookout for.

And as an example, let’s go back to Webex:

In the third ad (letter A):

  • They give out a free 30-day trial for Webex. This is the Offer.
  • They list out the major pain-points of remote video conferencing that they solve plus the title of the books entices prospective leads interested in Artificial Intelligence for the workspace. This is the Copy.
  • They show an ongoing remote video conference in an office with some charts displayed on the tv. The colorful brick wall paired with a diverse meeting going on makes this image advertisement one that pops-out in the feed. This is the Creative.

Now, using that model, do this for all the advertisements that you gathered before.

My advice here would also be to do this on a spreadsheet because that’s the easiest way to visualize all this information at once. Plus, it will be smoother to update whenever you’ll need it.

Finally, after you power-through this task, it’s time to move on to the final step, where you’ll learn how to apply this own information on your Facebook ads.

4. How to use the gathered ideas on your own Facebook Ads

You made it.

Now you finally get to apply all of those valuable learnings on your own Facebook ads.

First, consider that you now possess one of the most complete views of consumer psychology in your own niche.

This means that you now also have the advantage of knowing exactly what works both creative and incentive wise on your niche.

Now, to get actionable insights for your ads, you must become aware of any trends your spreadsheet of Facebook advertisements might show – so analyze it now, and take note of any noticeable or repeated element (creative, copy, or offer wise) that shows up at least 3 times.

As an example, let’s go back to the Webex ads: (for the final time)

On the offer side, they mostly give out free trials and pain-point e-books, which is in-line with most of the other competitors I analyzed for this article.

This is the type of industry-standard insight you should be unveiling for your own market.

On the copy side, they tend to list out types of features, which they portion depending on each buyer segment – some customers will want analytics and AI assistants (letter B) and others will want file sharing and whiteboarding features (letter C).

The insight we take from here is that segmenting features and listing them is what gets ad-clicks on the video conferencing software market, as opposed to just focusing on a single hero feature.

And at last, on the creative side, you’ll notice they always show people on meetings (well, duh – I know) but most importantly, their ads always feature 2 important details:

  • Both sides of the meeting, meaning you have the point-of-view of either the remote employee or the local team.
  • Some major feature (that is listed on the ad) being used, be it document sharing or whiteboarding.

Once you apply the process above to your list of saved ads, you should find out several patterns that will lead to creative concepts you can use as profitable foundations for your very own Facebook advertisements.

And we are done.

Thank you for reading my article, and consider joining my newsletter below in order to get more Facebook advertisement guides (and many more quick hacker tricks).

Now, get the top 5 targeting options of 2020.