How to Create Successful Facebook Messenger Ads

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A successful Facebook Messenger ad is only an ad until it becomes a conversation.

Using Messenger ads means your brand is ready to shift your relationship with every person who sees them. From general to personal, from public to private.

And according to Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook as a whole is shifting that way, too. In March 2019, Zuckerberg acknowledged that private messaging, ephemeral stories and small groups are by far the fastest-growing kinds of online communication. He announced that Facebook would “rebuild” their services around what people want: privacy, security and safety.

Some experts are calling it the end of the Facebook news feed.

We don’t know what Zuckerberg knows, but we do know that Facebook Messenger is the top app in the world by number of downloads. It has 1.3 billion users every month. Meanwhile, only 31% of businesses are using it.

So whether you want to hedge your bets on the future of social, or you’re interested in the dozens of different ways you can use messaging apps to reach your audience right now, we’re here to show you how to use Facebook Messenger ads to converse. And convert.

Bonus: Download a free guide that shows you how to save time and money on your Facebook ads. Find out how to reach the right customers, lower your cost-per-click, and more.  

How to set up Facebook Messenger ads

First off, there are two very different ways to advertise using Messenger.

Click-to-Messenger

These ads are traditional newsfeed ads, showing up on Instagram or Facebook. But there’s a twist: the call-to-action starts a conversation with your brand in Facebook Messenger.

They can be used to:

  • acquire leads and customers
  • transact sales
  • answer questions or provide support
  • start a conversation (which means you’ll be able to use sponsored messages in the future)

Facebook messenger adsSource: Facebook

Sponsored messages

Meanwhile, a sponsored message is an actual message. It shows up in your audience’s Messenger inbox.

You can already imagine the possibilities. To prevent spam, Facebook only allows sponsored messages to go to people who have already started a conversation with your Page. (Which makes click-to-Messenger ads even more appealing now, right?).

A sponsored message can be a photo, video, carousel or dynamic ad. (For more information on these: here’s our complete guide to advertising on Facebook.)

Often, this kind of ad is an offer, announcement or a message that calls for a response, or coaxes folks towards a landing page.

They can be used to:

  • nurture ongoing relationships
  • re-engage with people who’ve reached out in the past
  • notify your most receptive audience about promotions or offers

Facebook messenger adsSource: Facebook

Ok, so now that we’re clear on the difference, here’s the nitty-gritty on how to execute one, or both.

Step 1: Create a campaign

Create a new campaign in Ad Manager.

As always, make sure you’ve created a Facebook Business Page first. Alternately, you can use Business Manager.

creating Facebook messenger ads

Step 2: Choose your marketing objective

Facebook’s own best practices recommend selecting Messages as the marketing objective for either type of ad. This will allow Facebook to automatically serve your ads to the people who are most likely to message you.

That said, if you are creating a click-to-Messenger ad, you can also choose Conversions or Traffic as your objective. (The conversions objective is specifically useful if you’re using the Facebook pixel to sell at scale.)

choosing a marketing objective

Step 3: Name your campaign

Name your campaign so you can identify it easily later. This is also the step where you choose whether you’d like to A/B test your Facebook ads. Also, whether you’re going to optimize your budget, which can be useful if you’re using multiple ad sets.

naming your facebook messenger ad campaign

Step 4: Choose your ad type

First, confirm your ad set name.

Now, here’s the big choice: are you making a click-to-Messenger ad or a sponsored message?

choosing your ad type

If you select sponsored message, of course, you will need to select the Page from whence your message will come. People like to know who they’re talking to.

selecting your Facebook business page

Note that, given the popularity of Facebook’s other messaging app, WhatsApp, you can also have people contact you there. That choice will depend on your audience demographics: where do they live? Which app do they prefer?

Step 5: Target your audience

Here’s where you can either create a new audience, or put your custom audience to good use.

If you’re creating a new one: select your ideal audience’s location, age, gender and interests. You can also adjust to target user behaviour. Do you want to find people who’ve interacted with your page, or people who’ve never heard of you? This will depend on your overall goals for your social media marketing strategy.

choosing location for your facebook messenger ad campaign

Additionally, if you’re in the process of developing a Facebook Messenger bot to further build out your messaging strategy, you can use custom logging in app events to get even more granular with your audience. (For instance, you can target people who’ve chatted with your bot or clicked on a call-to-action in Messenger before.)

Step 6. Select the places where your ad will show up

In this case, it’s fine to allow Facebook to automatically choose where your ads will be placed. If you want to reduce the number of people seeing your ads, you can de-select locations (and devices). However, you can’t add any.

Sponsored messages will automatically be placed in your audience’s Messenger inboxes, alongside and between their regular messages.

Meanwhile, click-to-Messenger ads will show up on Instagram and Facebook feeds, Facebook marketplace, as well as on the home screen of Messenger inboxes.

choosing Facebook messenger ads placement

Step 7: Specify your budget and schedule

Here’s where you decide how long your ad will run for, and how much you’re willing to pay over that amount of time.

Both sponsored messages and click to Messenger ads are charged per impression. Your maximum bid amount in the Cost Controls section refers to the maximum cost per thousand impressions that you will pay. Your cost per result should be lower. (And if it’s not: see Step 9).

Just remember that the narrower your target audience is, the more expensive they are to reach.

facebook messenger ads budget

For an in-depth breakdown on how to optimize your Facebook ad spend, here’s our strategy guide.

Step 8: Set up your ad

Ok, here’s the fun part.

Best practices for writing a sponsored message:

  • Include an image (because video isn’t supported, yet.)
  • Add a personalization (you can greet your recipient with their first name or full name.)
  • Think up auto-replies that address any immediate questions your audience might have.
  • Make sure you have a Facebook Messenger strategy in place to keep the momentum rolling.

auto replies for a Facebook messenger ad from "Coop's Bain Magique"

Best practices for click-to-Messenger ads:

  • Select whichever call to action you prefer (it doesn’t have to be Send Message, it could be Contact Us, Learn More, etc.).
  • Include an image, or better yet, a video.
  • Preview your ad across all placements, including Instagram, to make sure it looks amazing on every device.
  • Set expectations: make it clear that clicking on the ad will bring you to Messenger.

click-to-messenger ad for "Coop's Bain Magique"

1. LEGO gift guide

In 2018, LEGO used click-to-Messenger ads featuring short videos to drive awareness for their gift-recommending chatbot, Ralph.

lego facebook messenger adSource: Facebook

LEGO found that these click-to-Messenger ads drove 3.4 times as much ROI on ad spend, compared to ads that linked directly to the LEGO website.

As well, ads that clicked-through to Messenger were 71% cheaper than those optimized for clicks in general. Finally, shoppers who made a purchase via the ads spent almost twice as much on the website.

The takeaway: Follow through on your ads. Having a comprehensive Facebook Messenger strategy—or Facebook Messenger chatbot—to lead people further down the sales funnel will increase your success, and your sales.

2. Absolut Vodka giveaway

Absolut achieved 4.7 times more sales with their Messenger campaign, which offered free drinks (and rides home) to their target audience.

Absolut Facebook Messenger AdSource: Facebook

Using Messenger—instead of a mobile web experience—tripled the speed of redemption times. The brand’s Bartender bot (which located a participating bar and also offered a Lyft coupon home) earned a 36% engagement rate.

The takeaway: The field is still wide open as far as what brands can imagine doing with Messenger. Inviting your audience into an exclusive, rewarding private ecosystem makes a lot of sense. And not just for brands who make spending money feel like a luxury, but for all brands who want to create a personal connection with their audiences.

3) Love Your Melon product announcement

The knitted-cap brand used sponsored messages to announce its new line of un-knitted caps.

Love Your Melon Facebook Messenger adSource: Facebook

By reaching out exclusively to people who’d been in touch via Facebook Messenger already, Love Your Melon earned 14 times their ad spend. They also got a 19% click-through rate to their website, at $0.15 cost per click.

The takeaway: Sponsored messages give your brand access to a low-noise environment. It’s like a living room, not a mall.

But remember that your ad is probably competing with your audience’s mom, best friend, and latest Tinder dates. So make sure that you’re offering something people really want to know about, or risk getting blocked.

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