Understanding The Facebook Conversion Objective

Facebook conversions objective is confusing, isn’t it?
Have you spent more and more money to make sales but the conversion objective NEVER works?
Have you done like the gurus have told you and spent $5 a day for three days then turn your campaign off only to be left disappointed by the results? What if I told you that running conversion ads this way will never work?

I know, I know all the gurus say to run ads for $5 and then after three days of no sales turn it off. This can work but not if you choose conversions as your objective. Facebook actually wants you to use conversions as your objective. It is by far the most effective ad objective…. if you give the pixel the data it needs to make decisions.

No one seems to be talking about how the Facebook Conversion objective ad objective actually works.. Either they don’t understand it or everyone is attempting to keep it all a secret since it is so effective.

I have been using the Facebook conversion objective for a local martial arts school. Normally, I use Google and just kill it with search ads for my martial arts clients however I wanted to test Facebook conversion ads out. I got permission to give it a go for a low $5 a day budget.

Since I started the ads I was able to get 58 leads for $4.00 a piece. On Google it typically cost about $20 dollars a lead. So the Facebook conversion ads are costing only about a quarter of the cost of Google search ads. The quality of the leads is a little lower but over all they are still turning into sales.

Here is the Secret…. Give Facebook What It Needs To Convert!

When you set up your ads you need to give Facebook what they need to make the conversions objective work. What does it need? Data.

The Facebook pixel collects data on your site based on the user activity from your ad set. With Facebook conversion ads you need to get data and the way to do it is to choose the objective that has the most data collected from the beginning.

In my experience it is best to run an engagement ad or video view ad first to start to collect data for the conversion ad. You must have a minimum of 15 of the conversions that you want to target in a week’s time. There are several conversion options to choose from:

  • View Content
  • Add To Cart
  • Initiate Check Out
  • Purchase
  • Lead
  • CustomConversions

This is the majority of the conversions that you can use in Facebook. They are the ‘Standard Events’. If you are running e-commerce you will want all of these conversion in your site so Facebook can track what each person is doing when they visit. If you are sending people to a lead capture page you need to install the standard base pixel code, which is also the remarketing code. Then you will need the lead tag installed into the base pixel in the  body tag of the ‘Confirmation Page/ Thank You Page’.

I am not going to get into set up here because I would need to record a video to do that. Instead I will record that video for a future blog post. For now, if you already have your pixel set up you can get your ads running pretty easily and that is what I am going to be sharing in the rest of this post.

Once you have your Facebook pixel installed onto your website it will begin to track the actions of the users on your site. If someone adds something to the cart but doesn’t make a purchase Facebook knows that, learns and adapts to best optimize your campaigns. It is just cool like that.

Once you have the pixel installed onto your site you need to choose the conversion objective in the ads manager. Name your campaign and then set up the ad set section. This is where you will add your targeting and there are a few things that should need to be put in place for this type of ad to actually work well.

You need to set up:

  • The conversion objective
  • The interests
  • Audience/ Lookalike Audiences
  • Location
  • Bid
  • Conversion window

The Conversion Objective

This is possibly the most misunderstood piece of a conversion ad. Most people think that if they want sales they should optimize for purchases. THAT IS NOT THE CASE! Like I mentioned earlier, Facebook needs data. If your site is not getting a bare minimum of 15 purchase conversions per week then you should NOT be using the purchase conversion as the objective. Facebook does not have enough data to make decisions until it hits that 15 sales per week number. This is why people’s conversion ads don’t work well!

What you need to do is optimize for a conversion event higher up in the funnel that does have 15 conversions per week recorded. Most of the time with low traffic sites that means optimizing for view content or add to cart. As Facebook learns what it needs to do to deliver the traffic for the higher conversion event you will naturally get more of the other conversion events taking place as well. Once you have 15 add to cart events recorded on the pixel, duplicate the campaign and choose the ‘add to cart’ conversion objective until the point where you have 15 initiate purchases. Then once you’ve had 15 purchases in a week you will once again duplicate the campaign and optimize for purchases. This can be costly to get started BUT it converts very well if you put the money in AND if you have a great offer. If your offer sucks there is nothing Facebook can do for you.

Audiences/Lookalike Audiences

If you are this far in this post I am assuming that you are a pretty advanced article as this is not for the newbie who would be completely overwhelmed by all the technical jargon. If you are a newbie that’s great that you have stuck with this so far. Just keep at it. For now you might just use Traffic for your optimization method and pay per click. It is a lot easier.

In the audience section of your ads manager you can create lookalike audiences. For conversion ads, lookalike audiences are very useful. I use lookalike audiences based on people who are people who’ve made purchases from my ecommerce site, people who’ve opted into my lead capture pages and others. Te better the data you put into these funnels the more powerful the audience is that Facebook spits back in the cloning process.

A lookalike audience looks at the audience you provide it and then finds people who match at least 6 data points and puts them into a new list for you to market to. This list is a very good list but it does not take into account certain things you’ll need to make it really effective. Things like location, specific interests etc. More on that in a moment…

The Interests

Let’s assume you are selling fishing lures. You have your objective set up correctly, you are targeting your lookalike audience built from the buyer list from your website. Now you need to cut into that list a bit to get the slice of the list you really want. The lookalike list will be about 2 million people in the country you chose when you created it. That is a nice healthy list. If you are selling fishing lures you would put into the interests section something about fishing. It might be fishing or maybe a fishing magazine that you know only enthusiasts would be reading. You will need to make sure the interests include some aspect of fishing if you are selling fishing lures. Apply this advice to whatever industry you’re in obviously.


If you are in the United States and can sell nationwide it might be okay to target the United States. If you are not able to sell nationwide then limit the location section to the places you are able to sell only. The lookalike list does account for location but not the location that you can sell in. Make sure to limit as needed. Note: If you are selling outside of the United States you’ll need to make an additional lookalike list with the country you want to sell in as the source. What I mean is if you use a United States based Lookalike list in Canada you’ll find your audience does not exist.


I always choose to manual bid for Conversion ads. Automatic bidding has not been useful for me. I always bid $30 for the manual bid. I NEVER end up paying that. It give Facebook  some flexibility though and the ads run because of that flexibility. I got that advice from a Facebook account rep and it has worked very well for us. Also, it doesn’t matter what your daily budget is, bid $30 for the conversion, even if you are spending $5 a day. The more you spend daily though the faster Facebook can optimize your conversion ads. Keep that in mind when choosing your daily budget.


Conversion Window

The most aggressive conversion window seems to be the 1 day after click conversion window. I do not fully understand this piece but I recommend the 1 day conversion window because it is the one that has worked for all of the ads that I have run. Sorry I can’t explain it further, I just know what works for the ads I have run.


So that is how I set up conversion ads, every single time. It works but it takes time and you are almost guaranteed to get bad results from them if you are unwilling to run ads long enough to collect the data Facebook needs. If your budget is too small or your patience too short stick with traffic or engagement campaigns because they will work a lot better with the $5 a day method most of the gurus are preaching these days. On the other hand if you have a budget and you have a good offer and you have a the patience Facebook  conversion ads can make you a ton of money at a low cost per conversion typically.