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Until recently, if you had asked me about the efficacy of Facebook ads, I would have told you with total conviction that they didn't work. I even used to quip that "Facebook ads don't convert because Facebook users are too busy stalking their ex to go shopping." Well the joke was on me because not only can they work, they can radically outperform Google Adwords.

I talked to Kit CRM founder Michael Perry for The Unofficial Shopify Podcast, and he's the one who let me on the secret of how he "cracked the code" on Facebook ads. Here's a recap of what he told me:

Recently Facebook has added some brilliant new features that let anyone leverage Facebook's astounding catalog of demographic with behavioral data on over 1 billion people. The future is here, and we're using it to sell widgets, folks.

This kind of data used to be out of reach of small and even medium businesses. Now anyone can affordably use it to laser target their marketing efforts with Facebook ads. As with all advertising, Facebook ads needs good product/market fit. If you can show the right thing to the right people, you'll make money.

Best practice 1: Stay in the newsfeed
Set your ads to display on Mobile and Desktop Newsfeeds. Ignore righthand sidebar and affinity, they're significantly less effective, and with good reason: they're not in your face like newsfeed ads.

Best practice 2: Carousel Ads
What's better than one newsfeed ad? Five of them. Carousel ads let you showcase multiple images and links in one ad. We've seen carousel link ads drive 30-50% lower cost-per-conversion and 20-30% lower cost-per-click than single-image link ads. Plus they work equally well on both mobile and desktop. As icing on the cake, you can let Facebook optimize the order of the images based on engagement and expected performance.

Carousel ad animated gif from Facebook

Best practice 3: Live and die by Custom Audiences
Custom Audiences are a system which lets you target past customers and prospects. You can build these lists by providing Facebook with a list of emails, and installing a tracking pixel on your website. This is retargeting. Once you've seeded Facebook with a sample of your customers, you can create a Lookalike audience. This part is practically magic. Knowing what your current audience looks like, Facebook can trawl its goldmine of behavioral data to automatically show your ads to new potential customers who are similar to your existing customers.

It may sound like the future of enterprise level advertising tech, but it's available now, affordable, and can be setup in a day.