Facebook Advertising: A How-to Guide for Small Businesses

BY ZACH REUTLINGER 

Facebook advertising is now such a powerful force that traditional advertisers and media sources are freaking out. Your customers are consistently spending more time on Facebook than ever before.

At DelMain Analytics, we’re constantly impressed with the great results our clients achieve with Facebook ad campaigns.

If you’ve ever wanted to know how Facebook advertising works, why you should be using the platform, and the best practices for running a Facebook Ads campaign, this post is for you.

Facebook Advertising is Mobile Advertising

How often, when waiting in line, do you or one of your friends or family members check your mobile Facebook feed to pass the time? During March of 2016 Facebook reported an average of 989 million mobile daily active users!  

Mobile Facebook users are a captive audience, and luckily, ad-blocking software can’t yet remove ads from users’ mobile feeds.

Facebook’s recent earnings reveal that 83% of its revenue comes from mobile and is expected to increase by 31% in 2016. Many experts predict it will overtake Google Adwords as the dominant player in mobile advertising.

The growth of Facebook’s mobile success is a result of 2 factors any business owner can appreciate: Facebook ads are both effective and inexpensive.

Important Facebook Statistics

Facebook Campaign Options

Facebook offers a variety of ad campaigns and there’s sure to be one that you can use to reach your business’s goals. Using the right type of campaign is key to achieving the best results. Here are a few of the most commonly used Facebook campaign types we’ve used on behalf of our clients.

Boosted Posts

These ads are the most often used by beginning advertisers.

Boosting a post will promote it from your Facebook business page either to people that have liked your page or to a targeted audience based on your chosen criteria.

Just because a user follows your business page does not mean they will see your post; Facebook feed real estate is limited, and Facebook prioritizes posts from friends or family before businesses.

And surprisingly, 40% of Facebook users don’t follow their favorite brands!

Boosted posts are great to get engagement such as likes and shares, but if you’re trying to get traffic to your website, say to read a blog post, these types of ads are not the best.

Promote Your Page

These ads encourage users to like your Facebook business page. While this can increase your likes, these likes tend to be of low quality and aren’t likely to lead to future engagement.

The best method to get high-quality likes is to create and promote great content. Users who like your page on Facebook after engaging with your content are more likely to like, comment on, or share your future posts.

Local Awareness

Mobile-only Local Awareness ads target specific Facebook users currently located within a certain radius of your brick-and-mortar business.

The call-to-actions for Local Awareness ads can either be ‘Call’ buttons that call your business from a user’s smartphone, or ‘Direction’ buttons which provide directions to your business from a user’s current location.

Recently these types of ads have been improved with advanced tracking features, and Facebook can now record when the ads produced a call to your business location or caused consumers to enter your brick and mortar location!

Clicks to Website

With click to website campaigns, you’re only charged when users click through to your website or page-- this is commonly known as cpc or cost per click advertising.

While these ads are effective for driving traffic to your website, whether or not users stay on your web page depends on the quality of your content and the overall user experience.  

We’ve successfully used Clicks To Website ads for promoting content, promoting events and sales, promoting a website or page, and lead generation.

Event Promotion

If you create an event post on your Facebook feed these type of ads are one way to promote them.

Event promotion ads have two unique advantages:

  1. You can link with a button to sell tickets directly to your audience

  2. Invitees can invite their friends to the event, giving these ads the potential to be shared far beyond your initial reach

Website Conversions

Conversion ads work similarly to Clicks to Website ads, but Facebook optimizes where they show them depending on the conversion goals on your site.

Examples of possible website conversions include:

  • Buying a product or service

  • Signing up for a newsletter

  • Reading or viewing an article or video

  • Requesting further information about your services

No matter your goal, Facebook will optimize where and to whom the ad is displayed in hopes of delivering traffic that will convert.

While they take a little longer to set up, we’ve found these ads bring the right type of customers to your website, and are a better ROI than Clicks to Website campaigns if conversions are your goal.

Video Ads

Facebook is making a big push into the video content market. As their name implies, Video ads promote videos encouraging Facebook users to watch videos directly in their News Feed.

One of the interesting aspects of Video ads is that they segment watchers into groups based on how long they watched the video. You can then target users that watch the entire video with further ads as these users have proven to be fantastic leads.

You should know that most viewers watch videos with the sound turned off, so be sure to choose the closed captioning option if your video includes essential dialogue.

Collect Leads

These types of ads collect information without the user having to leave Facebook.

If a potential lead is interested in your product or service, Facebook will produce a pre-filled form with their personal information collected from their profile. These type of ads can be an efficient and easy way for customers to reach out to your business.

Dynamic Product Ads

If you have a range of products at either your brick-and-mortar or e-commerce website, and you want to sell them directly on Facebook or Instagram, then this is the type of ad to use to use.

Have you ever done a little online window shopping only to have the product you were just looking at follow you around on the right side of your Facebook feed? That was a Dynamic Product ad!

Dynamic product ads require some advanced knowledge to set up. But once you input your product details into the Facebook Product Catalog your ads will be optimized automatically based on the inventory on your website.

Offer Claims

Do you have a discount promotion with a limited shelf life or an attractive ebook you’d like to get into customer’s hands? Offer Claims ads will promote these offers within the feeds of targeted users.

Facebook’s Unique Ad Types

Facebook, offers several unique ad types that can be used in coordination with your campaign objective.

Carousel Ads

Carousel ads show a selectable roster of 3 to 5 images that a user can scroll through.

These ads have proven to be massively effective and a recent report showed that users are 10 times more likely to click on a carousel ad than a regular one.

When showing carousel ads Facebook will optimize its performance by showing the best performance first.

Additionally, each photo in the carousel can link to a different web page, making them ideal for companies that wish to promote different content, products, or services within the same ad set.

At DelMain Analytics we’ve successfully used carousel ads in a couple different ways.

For products, carousel ads allow us to promote multiple products within the same ad. Potential customers can scroll through carousel to find the product that catches their eye. And because each frame is customizable, we can include a different link to each corresponding product webpage and include unique pricing information.

Another great way we’ve used carousel ads is to promote multiple pieces of content within the same ad. Many of our clients have captivating blogs. With a carousel ad we can promote multiple pieces of “greatest hits” and allow Facebook users to peruse a mini collection of blogs until they find one they’d be  likely to read.

Slideshow Ads

Slideshow ads are great for when you want to use Facebook’s video platform, you have no video on hand, but you have a great set of pictures.

With a Slideshow ad, Facebook will turn a set of up to seven pictures into a slideshow video you can promote with any appropriate campaign type.

Canvas Ads

These new ads are definitely capturing the imagination of some advertisers.

Canvas ads are long-scrolling multimedia mobile ads that can feature graphics, text, 3d effects, images and videos. These ads are almost like micro-web pages that open directly within the Facebook mobile interface.

With a host of customizable elements you can really create an immersive experience with these ads.

Where Do Facebook Ads Appear?

Many people don’t understand the all the places Facebook ads can appear. Based on your choices when setting up your ads, your ads can appear in the following locations, with the most expensive placements listed first.

Desktop Feed

Ads in the desktop feed appear within the news feeds on people’s personal computers. While these ads can be the most expensive, they appear to convert better than right-hand column ads.

Right Hand Column

Right Hand Column ads appear to the right of you news feed and are considerably smaller than news feed ads.

While the cost of these placements is inexpensive they are less engaging and perform poorly in terms of clicks and conversions.

Mobile Feed

These ads are placed in people’s feeds on the Facebook mobile app. These ads perform better than Desktop Feed ads at a lower cost.

However, if your Mobile Feed ads are driving people to your mobile site make sure it provides a fantastic user experience or you may end up wasting your ad dollars.

Instagram

Did you know that Instagram is owned by Facebook? Because of this, most Facebook ads can be advertised on Instagram as well.

If you have an Instagram business account be sure to link it to your Facebook account so users can attribute your ads to your Instagram account. If you don’t have an Instagram account don’t worry, you can still run Instagram ads and Facebook will attribute them to your Facebook Business Page.

It is important to understand how most users interact with Instagram before creating ads for the social network. Most users scroll through their feeds liking pictures that capture their interest.

If you run a Facebook ad geared towards engagement promoting a blog post with a great cover photo, you may get a fair amount of Instagram users liking your post because of the photo without any actually clicking through to your blog.

So if you’re trying to to promote anything other than a picture, it’s better to run ads on Instagram with a Clicks to Website campaign.

Audience Network

The Audience Network is comprised of third-party mobile apps and websites that show display ads and include the popular texting app owned by Facebook, WhatsApp.

Initially, the Audience Network was only for app users who were also Facebook users. However, as of June 2016, Audience Network ads can target mobile users whether they are Facebook users or not.

Compared to other Facebook placements, ads on the Audience Network are the least-expensive, however they are the lowest quality and clicks from this medium will produce a high rate of people bouncing from your website.

Facebook for Lead Generation

While Facebook can be used for lead generation, it plays a different role than paid search platforms like Google AdWords.

Marketers use models for tracking the consumer behavior process. This is when a person:

  1. Has a need

  2. Performs an informational search

  3. Weighs alternative solutions

  4. Makes a purchase decision

  5. Evaluates their decision

Customers are delivered search ads like Google Adwords when they are either searching for information on solutions to their problems, or comparing various solutions. By comparison, Facebook targets consumers earlier in the consumer behavior model and helps them identify a need they didn’t know they had!

Because of Facebook’s earlier position in the consumer behavior model, it produces fewer leads than search advertising, but these are leads you would likely never receive otherwise.

Think of Facebook ads as playing a similar role to traditional TV or radio advertising. Because Facebook ads inform users about needs they didn’t know they had, they are perfect for creating awareness for new or innovative products or services.

Facebook Advertising is Visual Advertising

If you look at the majority of Facebook posts you’ll see the picture or visual dominates the field.

Facebook advertising is visual advertising, and optimizing the pictures in your ads will produce better results. Posts with photos get 53% more likes, 104% more comments, and 84%* more clicks than text-based posts.

It’s common when advertising to initially “a/b” or “split test” an ad campaign by producing and running similar versions of the same ad. Once you can gauge each ad’s performance you continue running the best performers and pause or eliminate your worst performing ones.

Facebook makes split testing with pictures easy.

Once you’ve completed your copy, targeting, and other parameters, you can load up to 7 pictures and Facebook will create a separate ad for each within the same ad-set. Once the ads have run for awhile, Facebook will prioritize showing the ads with the best-performing pictures.

Despite this automation, your work is not done. You’ll need to go back and turn-off your worst performing ads to maximize your advertising budget.

Facebook Targeting

One of those most impressive and innovative features of Facebook ads is the ability to target potential consumers based on their demographics, interests or behavior.

Facebook collects data about their users based on their personal information, as well as items they like, comment on, click on, or share. You then use this data to target your ads to your ideal audience.

Geographical

Facebook ads can be delivered to any combination of cities, states, countries, zip codes, or within a 10 to 50-mile radius around a specific location, including a business address.

Additionally, you can target:

  • people who live within a specific area

  • people traveling within a certain area

  • people recently in a specific area

  • or everyone within a certain area

Geographies can be exclusionary as well if you have an area within your target where you’d rather not have your ads served.

Demographics

Facebook’s demographic choices available are robust as well. You can choose basic identifiers such as age, spoken language, race, or gender.

Plus you can choose relationship status, including the ability to target people that are engaged or recently divorced.

Income demographics are great for advertising premium or discount products or services.

We have found that exclusions work great with income as well. If you are promoting a luxury item you could exclude people from the lowest income categories from seeing your ads. Alternatively, if you provide a service geared towards those with lower incomes, you could exclude those high earners.

Other demographic options include individuals with a certain job title or that work at a particular company.

Searching for leads from people at a particular company or organization? You can target them directly with Facebook ads.

Using job titles can also be great when using Facebook ads to hire new talent as you can target individuals with the same or similar job titles to the position for which you’re hiring.

At DelMain Analytics, we love working with dentist clients, and if we wanted to target dentists in the US to promote a great blog post on dental marketing we just wrote, our demographic targeting might look something like this:

Interests

Interests come from the things people share on their timelines, apps they use, ads they’ve previously clicked, pages they like, and other activities they’re involved in on Facebook and  Instagram.

Targetable interests can be immensely broad or wildly specific.

We are often surprised to find niche interests that perfectly fit a product or content we are promoting.

When targeting using interests don’t forget to target interests that are tangential to your main focus, especially when part of a lifestyle.

When promoting MoSanti, a bespoke tailor who makes custom suits for professionals, we’ve had great success targeting individuals who like “fine cigars”, “GQ”, and “scotch whisky” in addition to targeting users that like “Men’s suits.”

Behaviors

Behaviors are activities that users do on and off of Facebook and Instagram that give insight into their device usage, purchase behaviors or intents, travel preferences and more.

Behaviors are constructed from a combination of Facebook activity and data from outside market research firms such as Acxiom or Epsilon.

While behaviors are not as robust as interests, these targetable categories fill gaps for areas not targeted by interests.

Connections

These categories deal with user’s connections with a particular page or one another.

Connections can include people that like a page, app, or event, friends of people that like your page app, or event, and can be exclusionary as well.

Remember that limited real estate on people’s Facebook News Feeds? Targeting people that like your page may be the only way they will see your latest promoted post.

Facebook users’ friends often share similar interests or behaviors, so targeting friends of people that like your page is a great way to target a potential customer base that has slipped through your interest or behavior-based targeting.

Audience

These audiences are those found outside of Facebook.

After you install a Facebook Pixel on your website you can create a custom audience of people that have visited your site and then target them on Facebook, Instagram, and the Audience Network!

Creating a custom audience is the first step for a create a remarketing (retargeting) campaign where you show ads to people that recently visited your site. Remarketing campaigns are great because they are inexpensive, reinforce the brand, and likely lead to leads and sales.

Lookalike audiences are audiences Facebook believe are similar to the users that visit your website.

If you're having trouble targeting your intended audience, either because it's too niche, or Facebook’s interests and behaviors categories fail to categorize your target customer base, then lookalike audiences may successfully target them.

Facebook Ads Best Practices

Here are the best practices we’ve developed at DelMain Analytics to get the best value and results for the Facebook advertising we conduct for our clients.

  • Promote blog posts with Clicks to Website campaigns rather than boosted posts

  • Aim for a potential audience size between 30,000 and 300,000

  • Show ads between 8 am and 11 pm (locally for the targeted users)

  • Promote a blog post for 7 days or less

  • Always begin with a split test of a minimum of 4 images and then optimize for the best-performing ones

  • Adjust targeting throughout the campaign to maximize performance

  • Add new graphics to extended campaigns to fight ad fatigue

  • Use UTM codes to easily track your results in Google Analytics

Conclusion

Facebook ads should be an important part of your marketing strategy.

But if you’re having trouble navigating Facebook Ads, or need a team with expertise in producing an effective Facebook ad campaign then DelMain Analytics is here to help.

Thanks for reading, and hey get off of Facebook, you’ve got work to do!