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27 Facebook Ad Design Hacks (2020)

Facebook-Ad-Design
Facebook ad design hacks we learned from spending $1.5M+ campaign budget. See 27 tips for better Facebook and Instagram ad designs.

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When running Facebook ads, your Facebook ad design will make or break your Facebook ads. Period.

When I first started running Facebook ads a couple of years back, I was just taking a picture and adding a link to my ad. I had no clue about all the factors affecting the success of a Facebook ad.

Now we’re in 2020 and I have managed multiple millions in Facebook ads budget and I’ve learned a lot. Why? Because I’ve pretty much been able to manage budgets and deliver results in any industry you can imagine:

  • Real estate
  • eCommerce
  • Festivals
  • Apps
  • Consultants & coaches
  • B2B agencies
  • SaaS
  • Beauty
  • And more…

I have one of the most versatile portfolio which gave me tons of insight on which ad design work well.

When I got started with Facebook advertising around 4 years ago, in all honesty, I had no idea how Facebook advertising works.

In this article, I’ll share with you 27 Facebook & Instagram ad design hacks I’ve found brought my results at least 2x better because your ad creative will make or break your Facebook ad.

You’ll see tons of case studies, A/B tests, success stories and of course my own experience sparkled right above.

If you are looking for Facebook ads examples, make sure to check out our blog. I also recommend taking a look at our Facebook ads manager guide if you want to level up your Facebook ads skills.

Facebook ads creative are arguably the most important part of your Facebook ad

When I first started running Facebook ads for my watch company, I tested one image and I used that image to bring me more than $1M in sales. This is to show you how impactful the right Facebook ad design can have.

With Facebook ads, you’ll test 100 different ad design and there will probably be 1 or 2 that will completely outperform the others because creative does make such a huge difference.

Even Facebook says that your creativity needs to be tested because you never know which one will resonate the most with your audience!

If people scroll right through your Facebook ad in their news feed then you lost. If they stop because of your Facebook ad design, then you have a chance of compelling them.

It’s why metrics like Click Through Rate still matter, because a high CTR tells you your ad creative is good.

Starbucks Facebook ad examples
Starbuck Facebook Ad Example

Imagine changing the graphic design for a picture of a penguin, would you think the CTR would change? Yes, it would. For every single change in your image, you will see drastically different results.

For one of our clients, Zoofest we tested a Facebook video ad instead of an image ad and our cost per click went from $0.5 to $0.05 without any exaggeration.

The goal here is that after enough tests, you’ll find the images or videos that deliver you the best performances so that you can start testing other things. Arguably, when you start ads for a new company, you should make a lot of creative tests first.

Facebook ad design hack #1 – Ad fatigue rotation

Picture yourself opening your Facebook ads account after 1 month of amazing results. You were making 4x your investment when suddenly you only make $0.5 per dollar spent.

Believe it or not, it happens more often than you might know. Why does that happen? There can be multiple reasons, but the most common is called Facebook ad fatigue.

It’s the moment where your ad creative has been seen multiple times by all the relevant people in your audience. In other words, people are sick of seeing your ad.

In fact, there was this interesting study by Adespresso which was stating that the more your ad is seen by someone, the more expensive you pay for clicks.

  • 2 views: it increases by 45%
  • 3 views: it increases by 60%
  • 4 views: it increases by 70%
  • 5 views: it increases by 90%

facebook ad frequency

Hot tip ?️: it does depend on your company. Some big brands that have a high customer loyalty still see amazing results with 3-4 or even 5 in frequency. If you want more information on Facebook ads frequency, check out our blog.

How can you resolve this situation if it happens to your Facebook ad design? We add multiple ads within ad sets. This simple method is called Facebook ad rotation and it’s quite simple.

The rule is to never let an ad set with only one creative. Facebook constantly optimizes which creatives to show.

If you have multiple Facebook ads inside your ad set, then when your good design stops performing, Facebook will spend on your new better working Facebook ad design.

In summary, we don’t recommend some strange overly perfectionist strategy to your ad rotation. If your ad results are still good, then you shouldn’t worry.

Some might recommend custom Facebook schedule, showing certain ads only on a day of the week, but this makes no sense. The goal is to generate results, not reduce ad frequency if it brings results.

Facebook ad design hack #2: Location custom ads

Relevancy in your Facebook ads design is one of the best hack you can do. The more specific you are with the right context, the more your audience will feel compelled to take an action.

This is exactly what location custom ads do. They relate to the people in certain locations to interact with your brand.

If you target New York City for instance, you might want to write “Hey New York” in your ad so that your audience feels compelled to click.

The more relevant you are the more people will be curious to know if it’s important to them.

Lyft Facebook Location ad
Lyft Facebook ad

A lot of companies related to cars use such ads. Lyft & Uber use this strategy to get new drivers or users on their mobile app. Mazda also used dynamic product ads to target people close to its Mazda dealership.

In general, you can see a boost of 50% in your ads results from this strategy alone. We recommend not micro segmenting your ads, but it could make sense to segment the cities or even the neighbourhoods you are targeting in your ads.

Facebook ad design hack #3 – Looping videos instead of images

Yes, I know we call “looping videos” GIFs, but some of us still prefer the term looping videos. In 2017, Facebook started allowing advertisers to run GIFs as video ads.

When you launch a Facebook ad, you can select a “single video” and add your GIF there. Most advertisers have no clue this is even possible, but it is.

How do you create a Facebook ad GIF? You just have to upload it here and your ad will be a GIF.

GIF Facebook Ad

So how does this Facebook ad looks like when on the feed? They look like normal videos, but they are much easier to create. Wordstream made a nice guide about GIF Facebook ads.

Facebook ad design hack #4: A/B test your call-to-action

When it comes to call-to-action, everybody knows that you are limited to Facebook’s choices. I think they don’t let you choose because people would add words like “gimme that” that would make the platform look like a mess.

While working for one of our early clients called PumpUp, we soon realized that the CTA “download now” outperformed all the other call-to-actions because they had an app. In reality, we’ve seen the CTA “download now” to be one of the best performings in many contexts.

When it comes to CTA, it’s important to choose on that really fits your context. Here’s what we learned with our multiple millions spent on Facebook ads:

  • Your CTA should match the one on your landing page
  • The more the action people have to take resembles the CTA, the better the conversions
Facebook ad design Dollar Shave Club
Shop Now CTA

In our case, people actually needed to download an app on the App Store so everything made perfect sense. For an eCommerce store, we generally use Shop Now.

Hot tip ?️: never lose track of your initial goal with Facebook ads. While “Learn more” might give you more clicks (or maybe not), people clicking “shop now” are much more inclined to bring you sales for example. Having a clear goal for your Facebook ads is key.

Dropbox Facebook Ad Design
Sign Up CTA

This example from Dropbox is another Facebook ad example of a great CTA, they are using “sign up” because people actually have to sign up as a next step after clicking. This way they get quality clicks and more conversions!

For every new client that comes to us, we always split-test the best 3 call-to-actions based on their Facebook advertising goals in order to make sure we have the most relevant one.

Facebook ad design hack #5: discount or deal in your ads

When it comes to Facebook or Instagram ads, having a great offer is one of the most important thing to generate conversions. When it comes to offers, nothing looks as sweet in the customer’s eye than a deal or a discount.

You can add a deal or a discount to your Facebook ad’s design to make it more compelling for your future customers to follow through after clicking.

Pura-Vida Facebook ad
50% Facebook ad

Here’s what we recommend when running a Facebook discount ad:

  • Time-sensitive: make sure the dates are clearly defined
  • Scarcity: people always want to buy things that are more scarce
  • Big discounts: small 5% discounts won’t cut it, make sure it’s at least 10 even 25% off.
  • Congruency: your landing page should say the same thing your ad is saying otherwise people will get confused.
  • Ad copy: use the discount in your ad copy as well your Facebook ad design.

Facebook ad design hack #6: Transforming images into Facebook video ads

Considering people interact more with videos on Facebook than images, it’s fair to say they also often convert better than images on Facebook. Now it’s not to say good images don’t convert, because sometimes they do.

According to Databox, Facebook video ads give more clicks than images, increase your conversions by 20-30% and boost your CTR at the same time.

At SH1FT, we’ve test Facebook video ads vs Facebook image ads and we’ve found a couple of things that could help you crush your results.

On a side note, here’s a list of 24 curated Facebook video ads examples we’ve compiled to help you get ideas of videos you could create.

  • Beginning: make sure you put a lot of energy into the first 3 seconds of your video. If people leave before those seconds then the rest of your video won’t matter.
  • Benefits: the advantage of a video is you can convey more ideas, use metaphors and get insanely creative. Use this to your advantage.
  • Captions: adding subtitles has become a must. Most people don’t watch your videos at home, they watch it without sound.
  • Retargeting: you can create an audience of the people who viewed your videos, we recommend retargeting them to increase your results.

Facebook ad design hack #7: Landing page congruency

It’s nothing new to say that your Facebook ad needs to say the same thing as your landing page but it seems there are still tons of advertisers who make that mistake.

Maybe they launch ads too fast, or maybe they just don’t want to do it, but we’ve seen tons of ads that lead to landing pages that didn’t show what was advertise. The classic example is clicking on an ad showing a discount to not see the discount on your page.

Not only will your results drop in performance, but you’ll also risk getting negative feedback for deceiving ads which could backlash into banning your Facebook ad account. It’s important to not forget that getting clicks is a step in the right direction but nothing is closed until people convert.

For our own agency, we’ve been getting an increase of 23% when we adapted our Facebook ad design to match the one on our landing page. Here’s an example of what it looks like:

Facebook ad design

Here is the page people see after clicking see more.

Landing page design

Facebook ad design hack #8: Consistency in your ad design

When it comes to increasing brand awareness for your company, it’s recommended to use a similar design on all your Facebook ads. Why? Well, people will start to recognize your Facebook ads and they even might see it in their dreams.

All jokes aside, adding congruency in your ad design can drive more conversions and sales while helping build your brand recognition amongst your current prospects.

With that in mind, don’t start uploading the same ad design with a different title in each just so that they are different. You should test different Facebook ad design but you should also keep similar essence. You could:

  • Test different background colours around a colour palette with the same font
  • Leverage different images while keeping the same colour palette and font
  • Change your messaging in your ads but keep the same visual

Tons of brands are doing this because it simply works. Of course, you can’t buy brand loyalty: it depends on how much people trust you and their experience with your product and service.

In other words, if people don’t like you, having congruence in your ads might actually be bad. If you care about your product and your brand, then brand congruency should be good and be a driver for better results.

Here are 3 ads by Slack which really uses this brand congruency across their Facebook ads as you’ll see quite clearly.

Slack Facebook ad example
Facebook ad design #1
Slack Facebook ad example
Facebook ad design #2
Slack Facebook ad design
Facebook ad design #3

Facebook ad design hack #9: leveraging colour overlays

One smart way to also improve your brand congruency is to use a colour overlay above the images. Adding that little touch can truly make your Facebook ad different from the rest.

The goal with your Facebook ad design is to stand out enough for people to stop but not be too shocking so that people run away. It’s a tight line but the best way to deliver results is to do something people don’t see often.

Here’s an example from Klientboost which added their baby blue overlay above their video thumbnail. It looks sexy, smoochy and all you want. What’s more? It helps with conversions.

Facebook ad example
Facebook ad colour overlay

Hot tip ?️: if you want to build brand recognition while standing out, you can use a colour overlay that is in line with your brand’s colour palette.

Facebook ad design hack #10: Unique Facebook ad creatives

If you want to test a lot of Facebook ad designs over a period of time and you start feeling the ad creation fatigue, take a break. Launching low quality, stock image ads is worst than not creating any ad creative.

Remember, you are spending money on that creative and wasting money if it’s a bad creative. It’s not to say you shouldn’t make tests, but there’s a moment when you know you’ve crafted a super basic ad.

The rule is (and I know you know exactly what I’m about to say) “quality over quantity” when it comes to your Facebook ad creative. Now, we’re not saying screw stock photo’s but make sure those stock photo’s you are using are not ones you’ve seen a thousand times online.

Here’s an image I’ve personally seen around 657 times in ads, articles and anything else.

Bad Facebook ad design
Don’t use this

Here’s what a high quality Facebook ad can look like:

Trello Facebook ad
High quality Facebook ad design

Facebook ad design hack #11: carousel ads to create sequences

When it comes to Facebook carousel ads, you can be really creative. There are tons of ideas I’m sure you can pull out by discussing it with your team. Here are a few process ideas:

  • Picture of your SaaS sign up process
  • Showing your onboarding process if you work in B2B
  • Retargeting your buyers with the process after they buy

Here are a few recommendations when it comes to Facebook carousel ads:

  • Keep a consistent design
  • Make the first carousel image or video amazing to make people want to scroll
  • Add a clear CTA that is contextual and high intent
  • Keep your ad copy clear & concise in the header & description

Facebook ad design hack #12: Telling stories through your carousel ads

Facebook carousel ads generally don’t have the click-through-rate compared to single images or video ads, but they are amazing for Facebook retargeting.

The really cool thing about this type of Facebook ad as mentioned above is that you can get really creative. Although video and image ads have arguably an unlimited creative potential, carousel ads can spark some strong ideas too.

Here’s a great example from Blinkist showing their products with consistent design throughout the entire carousel ad.

Blinkist Facebook ad
Facebook carousel ad

Facebook ad design hack #13: Before & after pictures

While this type of advertising has been used a lot in the fitness industry, you might not be able to run it as an ad. Facebook included a section in their Facebook advertising policy that might affect your ability to run fitness before and after ads:

“Ads must not contain “before-and-after” images or images that contain unexpected or unlikely results. Ad content must not imply or attempt to generate negative self-perception in order to promote diet, weight loss, or other health-related products.”

This hack focuses more on products who are packaged or need a certain preparation where you can demonstrate the before and after.

It’s a really engaging and fun process for customers to see the different stages of your product before they consume it. A great Facebook ad example would be showing your product in a box and then showing it opened.

This Facebook ad works because people are extremely curious and want to know the missing parts of the process. For instance, you might show a picture of your chef cooking a meal and then a picture of the meal being eaten.

In this example from eMeals, people would wonder what happened between the two images which would make them stop on your ad.

eMeal Facebook ad
eMeal Facebook ad

People will then image what happened in between and thus stop to look at your ad and look for answers to their questions.

Facebook design hack #14: Showing the inside of your product

Most of your prospects love seeing what their product looks like before purchasing it especially if it’s a physical product. In fact, most people have a better visual memory than one with words.

It’s why whenever you can we recommend showing your product to create a more memorable experience and thus drive better results for your Facebook ads.

Fashion Nova Facebook ad
Product image Facebook ad

The advantages of having a picture of your product as a Facebook ad are mutiple:

  • People can see if they like the product
  • Higher traffic quality that ends up converting
  • They can imagine themselves using your product
  • Expectations are set about what will appear on the landing page
  • Boost product awareness
Dollar shave club Facebook ad
Dollar Shave Club Facebook ad

This is another great example of a product Facebook image ad. Essentially, showing what’s inside a package can drastically improve your Facebook ads results.

Facebook ad design hack #15: A/B test your image ad copy

While your Facebook ad copy is important, it’s not nearly as important as your image ad copy. In fact, people first take a look at images before deciding to click.

This means that if your image doesn’t have the right text, people aren’t going to follow through to read your Facebook ad copy. It’s why A/B testing your image ad copy is the highest impact activity you can do.

Here’s an example where Shopify can test multiple variants of the text “craft your business your way” which could have a strong impact on their results over time.

Shopify Facebook ad
Shopify Facebook Ad Example

Facebook ad design hack #16: add people in your Facebook ads

People like other people because that’s how we communicate emotions best. Showing a picture of someone using your product and being happy is still a relevant way to show your ads.

Now, it’s not to say that you should upload a stock photo that people have seen in 20 different other companies. It needs to be unique and relevant to your brand image.

Like New Neurone Marketing says, a smile won’t get you a sale but it will certainly positively affect a buying decision in contrast with negative emotions.

Facebook ad design hack #17: add a spicy touch of social proof with recognizable brands

It’s generally fairly easy to add social proof on your ads. The secret? Adding recognizable logo’s. For instance, if you run a Facebook App install campaign with iOS, you can add the App store logo at the bottom.

If you have a Shopify app, then you can include the Shopify logo at the bottom of your ad. Now, don’t take my word for it, because I don’t know the legal part of each situation, but in many occasions, it’s fairly possible.

Here’s a great example from Crocoblock which sells Elementor plugins. Elementor is a website builder for WordPress.

Facebook ad example

Facebook ad design hack #18: using statistics or graphs to your advantage

People care more about the meaning of something rather than the hard facts. It’s why when they see a graph of a statistic, they are searching for that it means.

They don’t care about the numbers on the right of your graph or the actual statistical number, they care about what that means. If you have such statistic or graph which truly represent something meaningful to your prospects, then it’s a smart strategy to use it inside your Facebook ad campaign.

Asana Facebook ad
Asana Facebook ad

As you can see, you were probably compelled to learn what this metric meant because “27%” alone doesn’t mean much, and, as you know, getting people to read your ad is a first victory.

Facebook ad design hack #19: use the right image size

If you aren’t using the right image size for your ad placement then you are missing out on a lot of potential better results. For instance, the image size of the Instagram feed is quite different from the one on the Facebook feed.

It’s why we recommend you take a look at the Facebook ad’s guide from Facebook itself on the subject. There’s probably not a more reliable resource on the subject.

Here’s an example of an Instagram ad, so you can compare with the previous ads I’ve shown you from the Facebook feed.

Instagram ad example

Facebook ad design hack #20: sharing emotions as a language

Most people stop at telling people they are having a huge discount promotion or showing their products or services inside a Facebook carousel ad, but it shouldn’t stop there.

For years, brands like Coca Cola or even Apple have focused their advertising on sharing positive emotions. If we look at the success of those companies, it’s fair to say that it worked.

Contently even referred at the use of emotional advertising to be dangerous power corporations have. I wanted to add their article to make sure we also educate our audience about the ethics behind emotional advertising.

When it comes to emotions, there are really thousands of emotions you can try to persuade your audience. It can be joy, sadness, surprise, excitement, awe, etc.

One word of advice is to make sure your ads emotion matches your offer. Sad advertising won’t match a big sales promotion on Black Friday for example.

Surprisingly, according to Wordstream, the four emotions that yield the best click through rate are fears, affirmations, disgust and anger.

This Coca Cola example is really good at persuading emotions with their hashtag choose happiness.

Coca Cola Facebook ad
Coca Cola Facebook ad

Facebook ad design hack #21: keep your image/text ratio small

Since Facebook recommends images with 20% of text and 80% of image, it’s a good idea to respect this rule. Facebook even says that if you have more text, then you will pay more per impressions.

You can verify that you don’t have too much text by using the Facebook text overlay tool that is free to use. You just upload your image and Facebook tells you if it’s ok or not. They will give you the following answer:

  • Ok: your ad will run normally
  • Low: your ad’s reach may be slightly lower.
  • Medium: your ad’s reach may be much lower.
  • High: your ad may not run.

We made a test for one of our Facebook ad and got the ok answer!

Facebook ad design hack #22: integrate your unique selling proposition tagline

Sometimes (almost all of the time), people look at your Facebook ad creative first, might it be a video or an image to decide if they want to read more.

Knowing that it could be smart to integrate your tagline inside your Facebook ad design image directly. Of course, make sure you respect the 20% text rule.

The hard part is finding your tagline, but once you find a tagline that outlines what you offer as a company (or in this specific Facebook ad) then it is very powerful!

A good example would be the following Facebook ad example from Doordash:

Doordash Facebook ad
Doordash Facebook ad

Facebook ad design hack #23: leveraging colour contrasts

When it comes to Facebook ads, getting people’s attention is one of the most important goal. Of course your ad copy and landing page need to be up the par, but if you don’t grab people’s attention then your results will be bad.

It’s why leveraging contrasting colours can very powerful to gain your audiences attention and stand out. Now, we’re not saying make your ad flash green and pink, but most of our clients at SH1FT are able to use more contrasting colours.

We’ve seen first hand how it can boost your CTR and the money you make from your Facebook ads in a very timely fashion. This example from Design Pickle which is pretty metaphorically aggressive does have good colour contrast.

Design-Pickle Facebook ad
Design-Pickle Facebook ad

Facebook ad design hack #24: using emoji’s in your ad copy

Emoji’s can make your Facebook ad look like it was made from a 12 year old or be interactive. There’s definitely a fine line to not cross with emoji’s, but adding a one or two emoji’s to your ad copy can improve your results.

You can add them inside your “text” or “headline” section with great ease and see your results get better naturally. We’ve tested that ourselves and have seen amazing results just from adding an emoji to one of those sections.

For instance, we always use the “palm tree” emoji on all our advertising to gain brand recognition around that emoji. People will get used to see it with us and eventually it’ll have a meaning.

SH1FT Facebook ad example
SH1FT Facebook ad example

Facebook ad design hack #25: colourful ad creatives

By adding colour to your Facebook ads, they are more likely to stand out in the newsfeed which is a very important thing with Facebook ads. While it’s not always true that using flashy colours brings great results (there are more factors), if it’s congruent with your brand then you should be able to get better results.

We truly recommend taking a look at colour psychology for your Facebook ads design to make sure the colours used truly represent what your brand is about. Here’s what a few colours mean:

  • Yellow: optimism, clarity, warmth.
  • Orange: friendly, cheerful, confident.
  • Red: excitement, youthful, bold.
  • Purple: creative, imaginative, wise.
  • Blue: trust, dependable, strength.
  • Green: peaceful, growth, health.
  • Gray: balance, neutral, calm.

Here you go, now pick the colour you want to brand to wear and let’s start some stunning Facebook ad design!

Facebook ad design hack #26: personalized ad design

By targeting specific audiences, you’ll be able to create a Facebook ad design that is personalized and contextual. For instance, you could target people in San Francisco and adapt your Facebook ad design to it like in hack #2.

Here’s an example from Quickbooks which targets business owners specifically:

Facebook ad example
Facebook ad example

As you can see, the goal of having a Facebook ad design made for a specific segment of your audience is compelled to read your ad. The more specific your ad, the more people will want to learn more!

Facebook ad design hack #27: leverage testimonials from your customers

Testimonials are extremely powerful when it comes to pushing people to buy your product. It might not be the best ad to show people who have never heard about your brand on your page or website.

Those ads are better set on custom audiences which we wrote one of the most complete guide on if you want to take a look. Those testimonial ads are often used in a carrousel format where you can have either written testimonials or video testimonials.

They are amazing at persuading people who are on the fence of buying because it builds trust and credibility, two things that greatly influence people’s buying decision. Here’s an example from Design Pickle that illustrates exactly what I was talking about:

Which Facebook ad design hack is your favourite?

I hope that with all these different hacks you found something that you haven’t tried before. I also hope that your Facebook ads results get better with all those amazing strategies.

If you have other Facebook ad design tips to share, you are welcome to do so in the comments. We are definitely trying to create the biggest resource to help people generate better results. Enjoy!

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