How to Know You’re Getting the Best CPC for Your Facebook Campaign

You wouldn’t want to spend your entire campaign budget at a CPC of $0.50 when it’s possible to pay $0.05, right?

We all want more for less. Whether you’re an online retailer promoting your products or a publisher trying to get your articles in front of the right eyes, we all want to pay as little as we can while driving as much traffic as possible to our sites. This is especially true for those in the content business, where content is plentiful but conversion rates tend to be low.

One of the primary challenges content marketers face is making sure that they’re getting the best cost per click that they can for their Facebook campaigns. While we have yet to solve all the challenges of being a content marketer, we have arrived at a place where we can tell content marketers which CPC they should be using.

You wouldn’t want to spend your entire campaign budget at a CPC of $0.50 when it’s possible to pay $0.05, right? To avoid situations like that, we use a process called sampling, which helps us know if we’re getting the lowest CPC that we can for our ads and not compromising on audience quality.

To be clear: When running Facebook ads, Facebook actually does the sampling for you to determine the best ad in an ad set. The challenge arises when comparing different messages with different audiences, since Facebook ad sets can only target one specific audience apiece.

This challenge is particularly acute for content marketers, since they have numerous (hundreds or even thousands) of articles to promote to different audience and, as a result, hundreds or thousands of different ad sets. We’ll get into that a bit later, but for now, a high-level understanding of sampling will help frame the discussion.

Crash course in sampling

Sampling is much like your standard run-of-the-mill A/B testing. To illustrate this, let’s compare sampling to–stay with me here–buying a car. You don’t need to take a cross-country trip to determine whether you like it, but you should spend enough time behind the wheel to feel confident making the big purchase.

In this sense, sampling an ad is much like test-driving a car; it allows you to gather preliminary information on how an ad is likely to perform.

Also, you shouldn’t limit your car hunt to the first one you take for a spin. So when sampling, rather than running an entire campaign trusting a single set of creative and target audience, you test multiple versions of an ad and target a variety of audiences. From there, you can use the insight garnered from sampling to inform how to move forward with your campaign.

Test yourself

Consider this simple scenario: Mike is a content marketer with a total budget of $100 for his campaign. He wants to get the best CPC that he can, so he samples two versions of his ad and gives them each a budget of $0.50.

  • Version A is shown to 50 users and five people click on it, giving him a CPC of $0.10.
  • Version B is also shown to 50 users and 10 of them click on it, giving him a CPC of $0.05—one-half the cost of Version A.

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Seeing that Version B’s CPC is much lower, he goes all-in and allocates the remaining $99 from his budget to Version B.

Unfortunately, Mike’s approach to sampling is flawed: 50 impressions are too few to predict how the ad will perform long-term, and the difference of five clicks could have happened simply by chance. More data is needed to predict how an ad will perform.

At the same time, Mike doesn’t need to test the ad for 50,000 impressions–that strategy would be too costly in terms of both time and money, making it unsustainable.