Editor’s note: This guide was originally published in April 2021. It has since been updated for accuracy and to reflect modern standards.
When you’re in Facebook marketing, the last thing you want is to invoke the wrath of the Zuckerberg machine. Unfortunately, when you’re advertising for a health and wellness company, avoiding that is often easier said than done.
We could debate all day the effectiveness of Facebook advertising regulations across other verticals, but there’s no doubt that health and wellness products are on a tight leash. If you’re wondering how to design Facebook ads for nutritional supplements that won’t get you booted from the platform, you’re in good company.
In this guide, we’ll show you how by covering:
- How Facebook regulates and approves health supplements
- Why meeting those requirements is so important
- And which 7 strategies supplement advertising campaigns we recommend
Facebook Ads Health Policy on Supplements
Before you launch your dietary supplement advertising on Facebook, get familiar with the platform’s advertising policies. Several regulations may apply to your campaigns, depending on your products and approach.
Here’s the prohibited content to watch out for:
- Your ads cannot promote the sale or use of unsafe supplements, as determined by Facebook. This includes (but is not limited to) “anabolic steroids, chitosan, comfrey, dehydroepiandrosterone, ephedra, and human growth hormones.”
- Your ads cannot contain “before-and-after” images or images that contain unexpected or unlikely results.
- Your ads must not imply or attempt to generate “negative self-perception” in order to promote diet products, weight loss products, or other health-related products.
- Your ads must not contain false or misleading health claims about product attributes, quality, or functionality, especially claims of cure or guaranteed prevention from COVID-19.
If you’re advertising in several countries, some of these policies may differ across borders. For example, in Canada, you can be specific about the personal health conditions a consumer may have, which means you can call that condition out in ad copy to grab a reader’s attention.
The same approach will get your ad disapproved in the United States. Instead, appropriate ad creative must refer to all-encompassing terms — like “bloating” — but cannot refer to other specific underlying health conditions causing that symptom.
Learn more about healthcare advertising restrictions in the following resources:
- Dietary Supplements: An Advertising Guide for Industry | Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
- Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA)
How Does Facebook Approve Health & Wellness Ads?
In order to create a winning ad for your supplement business, you first need to understand how Facebook reviews and approves it.
Facebook uses artificial intelligence software for initial ad approval. Because there’s no human element involved, there’s more room for creativity when adhering to Facebook standards. An experienced paid social media marketer understands this system and can produce Facebook supplement advertising that not only gets approved but also skirts around some of the stricter policies.
If Facebook rejects your ad, you have the opportunity to submit it again for review by a human eye, or you can make necessary adjustments and submit it again for approval.
But getting it right the first time counts. The more ad disapprovals your account receives, the lower your feedback score — which means higher cost-per-million impressions (CPMs) and cost per click (CPCs), and a lower profit for your ad campaigns.
The Real-Life Example
It was this common challenge — advertising supplements on Facebook with a scalable and responsible approach — that first brought Atrantil to our doorstep.
As an eCommerce brand specializing in bloating solutions, Atrantil wanted our guidance in growing their supplement brand and social media marketing campaigns. They went on to achieve a 318% increase in Facebook revenue, proving that (with a little work and a lot of testing), you can successfully use Facebook ads for health and wellness products.
The video below is hosted on YouTube. If you need assistance with viewing the video, please contact [email protected].
How to Advertise Supplements on Facebook: 7 Strategies to Try
Facebook’s restrictions on ads for health products may require more brainstorming time for your campaigns, but there are plenty of successful strategies to get your ads approved — and to generate the growth and revenue you’re looking for.
We’ll walk you through several strategies we use for Atrantil, which you can apply to your supplement advertising campaigns today.
1. Optimize your ad creative toward purchase.
To bring in new customers and motivate them to convert, Atrantil’s ad creative often focuses on discounts and other offers. When you offer discounts at the top of the funnel to cold traffic, you branch out to new audiences — a more successful approach than targeting those who have already purchased (as these kinds of buyers are more likely to repurchase).
Don’t forget about retargeting for your ads, either. If your top-selling supplement products are bought as multi-month supplies, follow up with those consumers as their supply is running low.
For example, one of Atrantil’s biggest sellers is a 90-day supply product. We retarget those 90-day-supply purchasers with a staggered coupon approach. By reminding them of their low supply and offering a discount price, we increase the likelihood of a repeat purchase conversion.
2. Use a credible medical spokesperson.
It’s no secret that we’re big fans of ad creative testing.
For Atrantil, test after test revealed that one type of creative performed best: that which featured the company’s founder, Dr. Kenneth Brown.
The jury’s still out on whether credibility or good looks helps this creative perform best. Whatever the reason, Dr. Brown’s face boosts engagement.
Remember, kids: Testing is the key here. We experimented with Dr. Brown images vs. supplement images vs. bottle images before coming to a conclusion.
And, just because it performs well now doesn’t mean it will in the future, so keep experimenting with your ad creative and messaging to find what works best for your brand.
3. Incorporate reviews and other user-generated content.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: User-generated content for social ads works. You can’t pass it up.
With drug-related products, reviews are especially useful. While you can’t make uncertified health claims about your product or show before/after images, you can use customer quotes to highlight their successes. As long as the quotes meet Facebook standards (and as long as they perform well), incorporate them into your creative.
(See how we’ve optimized the copy to the right for purchase with a free-shipping offer, too?)
You can also use customer and influencer images to indicate physical fitness and a healthy lifestyle. Avoid any copy that indicates your product is the direct cause of that appearance; instead, use phrases like “part of a healthy lifestyle” or let your consumer make that leap themselves.
For Atrantil, we’ve used images of female yoga instructors, targeted toward women, to plant the seed that this dietary supplement will help them feel healthy, active, and happy like the woman in the image.
4. Consider seasonality.
The health and wellness vertical by itself is highly seasonal (why else are gym ads so competitive in January?) — but you can tap into other seasonality aspects, based on what symptoms your product targets or alleviates.
You can also incorporate seasonal activities, like sports: “Buy yourself some peanuts and Cracker Jacks. Enjoy the summer baseball experience, without the irritating bloating.”
Because Atrantil is a bloating relief product, we use seasonal dishes in our ad creative. We show the consumers the traditional fall foods they love to eat, which motivates them to try Atrantil to reduce the bloating and discomfort they experience afterward.
Varying audience interests like this allow you to tap into different demographic bases and reach new customers when advertising on Facebook.
Another example: During the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, we optimized our creative to consumers’ concerns about a healthy immune system. We swapped out old copy on a well-performing Dr. Brown image to promote, “Healthy Gut = Healthy Immune System.”
Of course, we also ran some tests. The unique seasonality of that time period led to incredible performance from that creative.
Consider using the same approach next flu or cold season, as long as you don’t run afoul of Facebook’s policies on miracle “cures” or “preventions.”
Note: Seasonality is a great approach for both paid and unpaid creative on your brand’s Facebook page, a strategy Atrantil takes to heart.
5. Rotate fresh creative often.
The supplement industry is an increasingly competitive one. You can’t sit back and wait for results to come; you need to be constantly testing and experimenting.
Your Facebook ads need to stand out in competitive ad auctions, so get yourself a reliable designer or content creator to ensure the freshest, most relevant creative for your brand. Swap it out frequently to avoid consumer fatigue and to identify the creative with the most engagement and highest conversion rates.
You can use the Inspection tool to identify audience saturation for your image and video ads, so you know when to make a creative swap. This tool measures:
- First-time impression rate (the percentage of daily impressions that comes from people seeing your ad for the first time)
- Frequency (the average number of times each person saw your ad)
- Reach (the number of people who saw your ads at least once over the lifetime of your campaign)
- Audience reached ratio (the percentage of your estimated audience size your ads have reached so far)
When you see your first-time impression rate drop, you’ll need to pump in new creative, so your audience is seeing new ads, not repeats.
Your ideal ad frequency will depend on whether you’re prospecting or retargeting. For prospecting, frequency should be less than two; for remarketing, we recommend monitoring cost-per-acquisition (CPA) as it relates to frequency.
Finally, if a high percentage of your ideal target audience is reached, you should consider rotating in new creative, as well as expanding into new or larger audiences.
6. Leverage your email lists and data.
If you’re advertising your supplements correctly, you should be gathering a wealth of information from email lists. This is gold, so take advantage of it.
Try to get as much data about your customers as possible, including:
- Phone number
- And more
Over the course of a few weeks (depending on your spend amount), you’ll get a clear idea of what seed audiences (audience source, like VIP customers, repeat customers, and recent customers) are working.
Once you have a winning lookalike, then you can expand into different percentages of lookalikes to continue scaling your best performers. (Learn more about how we did that for another client.)
7. Go broad with targeting.
As long as you have enough purchase data coming through Facebook Pixel, try to target as broad an audience as possible with your dietary supplement ads.
These health products can appeal to a wide range of audiences; if you’re still using your traditional approach, you could be missing out on a huge swath of potential customers.
Broad targeting also has a financial advantage: It helps keep your CPM down and allows your ads to be active participants in less-competitive auctions.
An example: Let’s say you want to target an audience based on energy drinks. There’s a very high likelihood that your competitors are also targeting that audience, which can cause the price to win that ad impression to go up.
But, when you opt into broader targeting, you give Facebook more room to serve a high quality ad impression to qualified Facebook users based on your conversion event — in a much less competitive auction.
Build Your Supplements Facebook Ads Strategy Now
While tricky, using Facebook ads to sell supplements is not impossible. It can actually be quite successful, if you do it the right way. Make sure to familiarize yourself with Facebook’s ad policies, and continuously test the strategies above to find what works for your brand.
Remember: Facebook isn’t the only channel through which you’ll find success. In Atrantil’s case, Google Ads and Google Shopping have generated impressive results, too, including a 258% increase in PPC revenue.
The video below is hosted on YouTube. If you need assistance with viewing the video, please contact [email protected].
If your supplement ads on Facebook keep getting disapproved (or you’re simply not getting the results you want), it may be time to bring in a professional.
Both individual contractors and digital marketing agencies can provide personalized strategies and effective management — but only if your brand is showing replicable growth. If you’re still in the early phases of your business (or you’re operating as an individual seller), a professional may not be the right fit.
In this case, focus on applying the strategies above to create a reliable audience and steady flow of income.
When you’re ready for the financial and time commitment of agency management, our paid social strategists would be happy to evaluate your account and implement a scalable, successful digital marketing strategy — just like we did for Atrantil.
Request a free proposal anytime to learn more.