Intro to Facebook Advertising
Download our free Facebook Ad Building Guide
Want to catch up on past episodes of WebStrategies Live for more digital marketing strategy advice? Visit our video library.
Chris: Today's topic, an Introduction to Facebook Advertising. We're going to talk about why you should be advertising on Facebook, best practices, how much you can expect to spend, and how you can test and modify your campaigns to be more successful as you go. One announcement at the top of the show, we have a giveaway attached to the show today. You can find it in the show notes either on Facebook where you might be watching now or on a page where you're watching this video, we post in a lot of different places. And what we have for you today is a free Facebook ad template builder...ad building template, I should say. And within this, we give you information about creative sizes, the amount of text and everything that you need to build your own Facebook ads. This is based out of a template that we use internally every day and we're going to give it to you for free. So look for that link. You can download that for free today. So with that, I'd like to welcome Emily to the show. Welcome, Emily.
Emily: Thank you.
Chris: Thank you for joining us on the show today. Phil's behind the scenes today if you're wondering where Phil is, manning the camera. But we wanted to bring Emily on today because Emily is WebStrategies digital advertising specialist. She spends most of her day inside the Google and Facebook ad platforms. And she's just the perfect person to walk us through this topic today. So we thought we'd bring her on. So Emily, let's get right into the material, all right?
Chris: So the first thing that I want to ask you is why Facebook? Okay. So let's say I'm a small business owner, I have limited budget, there's a lot of ways I could spend it, right? And a lot that we've talked about on this show and I have no money to waste, every dollar counts, right? So I want to make sure where I'm investing is getting me ROI. Is Facebook near the top of that list and why?
Emily: Yeah, so absolutely, it really is. It should be one of the top advertising platforms that you're considering if you're a small business, if you're a large business, a business of any size, Facebook is a great place to be. As you know, organic social media is declining. If you are posting organic content to your page, only around 2% of your followers are seeing that content right now. So, really, we have to start considering how much budget we should put towards getting our content seen. And a lot of that can be done through advertising, right? So Facebook advertising, Facebook targeting is more specific and better at finding people based on these tough to reach attributes that we don't have access to on other platforms.
Chris: So what would be an example of an attribute?
Emily: Household income, whether or not somebody is a homeowner, what kind of job they have or what industry they're working in. You don't really get that kind of granular targeting on the Google Display Network, for example. And you could have some options in other platforms but you're not going to get everything all in one spot, all together like you can in Facebook.
Chris: Yeah, it's interesting you bring up those attributes because I've heard, you know, something that Google doesn't have, especially, now that they've eliminated Google Plus, which was really never that successful to begin with, is Google has the knowledge graph, right? Like, they know what people are searching and they understand the individual, and they understand the individual deeply. But what Facebook has that Google doesn't have is the social graph. So Facebook has all these incredible context, not just around the individual and their interests, but how that connects to other people like them, right? And so you're saying that you can then connect advertising based off of all those things in order to hit people in a super, super pinpointed way.
Emily: Right. And you're logged into Facebook on your computer when you're browsing other sites across the internet and on your phone. So Facebook gets a little bit of insight as to your behavior once you leave Facebook that way as well. So they're noticing what you're doing on its platform and then throughout the internet. So they've got a lot of data on you that that helps advertisers pinpoint the right audience for your ads.
Chris: Okay. So that takeaway I'm hearing from that first point is if I'm a small business, I can use Facebook to target my ads in a more pinpointed manner than pretty much any other platform out there, online or offline because of all this information Facebook has about me and the type of person I might be.
Chris: Great. Okay, good. So, you know, another question that we hear a lot is that, you know, there's been all this stuff in the news about Facebook, right? Like, going back to, there's a lot of privacy concerns and I think a lot of it came out of everything that's going on with Russia and bots, and all that kind of stuff. But it put Facebook under the microscope in terms of privacy and the kind of information they were pulling in and everything. And Facebook has said a lot about trying to eliminate that, make it more secure and more private. They've even talked about removing some targeting capabilities and everything like that. Is that a reason to not advertise on Facebook anymore, in your opinion?
Emily: No, I don't think so. Facebook is going to make advertising as successful as possible to you because they want advertisers to stay and to continue to use it. So when they're creating relevant audiences for you, it's because they genuinely think that these folks are going to want to see your ads. So even though they have been removing some targeting capabilities lately, they've also been adding some new ones in at the same time. And so we've heard a lot about Facebook really removing that option but we haven't heard as much about them adding in new capabilities. So they're constantly changing their platform and changing what advertisers can do with it based on the technology and the data that they have at hand. So even just this past week, I was finding new things, new targeting options to use that weren't there two weeks ago.
Chris: Got it. And it sounds like they're always evolving it, right?
Emily: Really, yeah.
Chris: We were just coming across something today around discrimination and ads. And so there's now just another kind of little tweak or massage of what you can and cannot do, especially, if it comes to if are you showing job postings to certain people and not others that could be considered discriminatory. So sounds like Facebook is getting more sophisticated in some ways and kind of recognizing where they came up short or closing a lot of...I won't say loopholes but maybe like ethical issues associated with advertising. But they're giving something else to us in exchange. So maybe it's a slight net loss but it's still so far ahead of anything else that you can do that it sounds like it's still a really great place to put your ad dollars.
Emily: Yeah, absolutely.
Chris: Okay, good. So, you know, Facebook is, obviously, not the only social platform out there, right?
Chris: You can advertise on Twitter, Snap, Pinterest, and Instagram, which is, you know, part of the Facebook family. Should I be spreading my budget evenly across all of those? Or like, what's your take on all these other social platforms that have advertising capabilities as well?
Emily: Yeah, great question. So if you're a small business owner, midsize business owner, there are really going to be very few circumstances where you're going to want to put your budget on Twitter and on Snapchat. And we've tested all of them, we've worked with all of them. They are really aimed at national brand advertisers and reaching a mass amount of audience across the country. So if you're targeting just your local city or state or even sometimes region, you're not going to want to go to...you're going to be wasting your budget if you're trying to focus on something where you're reaching a ton of people that aren't relevant to what you're trying to advertise, right? Pinterest, pretty good for e-commerce sites. You can find success as a small or medium business on Pinterest as well. But Facebook and Instagram are really where you're going to want to focus your budget, at least to start and then you can work on expanding.
Chris: Got it. So it sounds like...It's always kind of an "it depends" answer. It sounds like with anything in digital marketing, it depends, and maybe there are some businesses where if you have limited dollars because of your new unique type of business. Yeah, Pinterest may be the place if you're in some kind of home improvement space, might be a really good place to be. But for most businesses out there, like those might be more like niche platforms. And in very rare cases are they probably the preferred platform. But it sounds like for the most part, Facebook is probably the best starting point, would you agree?
Emily: Yeah, definitely. And you can actually learn a lot about your audiences from the advertising campaigns that you run on Facebook, which includes Instagram since Facebook owns Instagram. So the information, the data that you're going to be collecting from your Facebook campaigns, you can use in other places. If you are testing an audience and you find that a homeowner responds better to your product than a non-homeowner, you can incorporate that into your messaging, into your Google display ads to really kind of create a cross-platform, cross-channel solution that, you know, works well for whatever you're doing.
Chris: Yeah. And just to kind of qualify that, we're talking just about social advertising. You know, we said Facebook is the best place to start, we don't necessarily mean over Google Search. All right, we're still big believers in Google searches, low funnel, high intent, you want to max that out before jumping over to Facebook. Again, it depends. There might be other times where because you're a brand and you're trying to get awareness and people don't know to be searching for you because you're a newer category, something, exposure on Facebook with a CTA, call to action, it might be the best place. But we're still big believers in going after maybe Google first and then into Facebook but, again, it depends.
Emily: Another point about the "it depends" too is Facebook is a little bit cheaper certainly than Search and a little bit cheaper than Google Display as well. So if you have a limited budget and are looking where to start with that, Facebook might be a better option in some cases as well.
Emily: It depends.
Chris: Good. Okay. So now that you've kind of sold me at least on the merits of Facebook and Facebook advertising, talk to us about what you consider to be the need-to-haves, not the nice-to-haves, but the need-to-haves. If I'm a small business and I'm trying to jump into Facebook advertising, I'm going to put my money there, what do I need to have in preparation for doing that"
Emily: Right. So the first thing that you need to have when you're advertising on Facebook, it's the first question that Facebook asks you when you're starting to set up a campaign is what is your objective? So you really need to have a clear objective about what you want this campaign to do. It shouldn't be a huge commitment because remember, we're advertising on Facebook and people aren't necessarily sometimes in the right mind space to want to convert right then and there. Right. So it has to be something simple, quick, with a high-value exchange relative to what they're giving us.
Chris: So what are some examples of...when you're setting up a Facebook ad, what are all the different types? I mean, we could get into which one is the best and what you should avoid, but what are the options at least when you're setting an objective within a Facebook platform?
Emily: Yeah. There's a ton of different options that Facebook gives you. One could be video views, just trying to get eyeballs on the video that you're creating. It could be page likes if you're trying to grow that audience that's relating to your page. If you're a local business, that could be a really strong one for you. It could go all the way up to encouraging people to click on your ad and then take some kind of action on your website. You can have people engage with a specific piece of content higher than they would normally. There's a ton of different things you can do. Oh, lead ad forms is one we do a lot, as well, where somebody can fill out a form right on Facebook. They don't have to necessarily click through to your website to submit a form, which is great if you don't have a great website experience or you don't have a landing page that suits whatever piece of content or whatever lead you're trying to generate.
Chris: So it sounds like there's a lot of options here, everything from, kind of, the big ask, which is leave Facebook, go to my website, do something to just I want more people to watch this video. And it's just a whole wide spectrum of all, like, very high commitment things and very low commitment things.
Emily: Yeah. And the low commitment things are going to be cheaper for an advertiser versus the high commitment things, which makes sense, right? So the lower commitment, we're going to have lower cost per clicks, you can do more with a lower budget, versus if you're trying to have somebody complete a sale or fill out a form on your website, those are going to cost you a little bit more.
Chris: Yeah. So and just to go back on one important point you said here, which is you don't want to go for, like, the big...Well, you could go for the big ask, leave...click on this ad, leave Facebook, go to my website, do this thing. But, I think you were saying that, you know, you tend to not get as great of a success rate on that. And there's a high cost associated with each one of those actions because when you're in Facebook, you're there to be on Facebook. You're not shopping versus if you go and do a Google search, you are raising your hand saying, "I'm looking to do something now." Right?
Emily: For this thing.
Chris: So it's that intent versus relevance. Like, my intent isn't to buy from you in that moment but you may be super relevant so I'll stay engaged, but maybe not as likely to do that big thing. So you're kind of advising that whatever objective you set, you might kind of want to back off a little bit and make it very easy, and make it a low ask, like, you know, low time commitment kind of thing.
Emily: Yeah, and there will be marketing options in Facebook too, just like you would have on the Google Display Network right where if somebody interacts with your piece of content or they go to your website, that'll add them to an audience that you can target with additional advertising later on. So you're not necessarily losing out on people if you're just targeting video views, maybe you can later on target the people who viewed that video into a different audience with a stronger call to action. So it's great to start with that high funnel, lower, softer call to action as you start your campaigns and then you can build from there.
Chris: Great point. You know, we have several topics we want to get to here. And, you know, we're already about 15 minutes in so we're going to move through. So if you could just give me the other need-to-haves, just quick...
Emily: Yeah. So you're going to want to have a well-developed target audience, know what your target customer looks like, that's demographic, interest, geography is really important if you're a small business, right? And then their mindset, again, like I said, realizing that people may not be right in the mood to buy your product or service right at that point. So you're going to want to tailor your messaging to that, which brings us to creative, you're going to want to have thumb stopping creative.
Chris: Thumb stopping creative?
Emily: Thumb stopping creative.
Chris: Walk us through that for just a second.
Emily: When you're on a mobile device and you're scrolling through your Facebook feed, you'll see tons of ads and you want to, as the advertiser, give people an ad that's going to make their thumbs stop from skipping you.
Chris: Right. Because if you're scrolling, you're doing it with your thumb, right?
Chris: And then you stop when you see something. Yeah, exactly. Yeah.
Emily: Yeah. So keep a focus on that. Think about when you're picking out your images or your video, what's going to catch people's eye in the first three to five seconds because that's all you get sometimes, maybe even less when somebody's scrolling through their Facebook feed looking at cats, or kids, or babies, or whatever else is on there.
Chris: What about from a technical standpoint, what else do we need to have to make sure that we're getting the right feedback of information when we're running our ads?
Emily: Yeah, so you're going to want to use the Facebook Pixel, which is a tag that you put on your website. And like Chris said, it will give information from Facebook, it follows the user from Facebook to your website and then it gives that information back to Facebook, so they can use that to optimize your ads better. They can build lookalike audiences from that information. And it's really easy to implement, your web developer can help you with that.
Chris: Yeah, I think a lot of people don't necessarily realize that one of the reasons Facebook understands it so well is that almost every website has this Facebook tracking code on our website, usually, as a means to send information back to our ad campaign but...
Emily: See what was successful or not.
Chris: Right. But it's also...like, if I go to a website that I've never been to before and it has Facebook Pixel and I'm logged into Facebook on the device that I'm using to visit them, they know that's me on the website. At least, that information doesn't get passed back to the person who owns the website, obviously. But Facebook understands this path on making us move across the internet. And they can use that to better understand me and match ads to me.
Emily: Give you the most relevant ads. Yeah.
Chris: Great. Okay, so let's get into spend expectations. Because this is always a big question, how much should I spend? And, this hurts me to answer because I feel like I've never given a satisfying answer because I don't feel like there is. I mean, we could just go on and say, "Spend this much," but this is another one that I think depends heavily. So talk to us about what...just give us some kind of baseline or way to kind of frame up how much we should expect to spend.
Emily: Right. So you can spend as little as $1 a day. We don't recommend that. It's a huge "it depends" question. You want to think about how much you're willing to spend per lead that you get, per relevant, high-quality lead. So you're going to want to consider what your return on ad spend needs to be in order to figure out how much you want to spend for that person. So, generally, our rule of thumb that I've used from calculating the number of people in our audience, when you go through and you're setting up your first audience, Facebook will tell you generally how many people you can expect to reach. And from doing that, through our experience, we found that you're going to want to spend about $200 a month per every 10,000 people that you want to reach. That'll help you reach at least about 80% of your targeted audience while also optimizing your spend to try to reach the most relevant people.
Chris: Okay. So your rule of thumb is $200 for every 10,000 people that you're trying to reach.
Emily: Per month.
Chris: Per month.
Emily: $200 per month.
Chris: And is that for one impression on those 10,000? Or is that multiple impressions on the 10,000?
Emily: It can be multiple impressions. Facebook measures what we call frequency, which is how often your ad is shown to the same person. You want to keep that in a lower range, two to five times per month, probably no more than that just from creative exhaustion. People are going to be less likely to pay attention if they're seeing your ad all the time, or even worse, they might get annoyed by it. So that also prevents that, as well, keeping it in that $200 a month range per 10,000 people.
Chris: So, and $200 is not a lot, right?
Emily: It's not.
Chris: Now, to a small, like, single soloprenuer business, that's significant, right? I think that's a great thing about Facebook is I can slice out $200 to throw on Facebook and reach maybe 10,000 people per month. But I would think, you know, that the number of people you want to reach probably goes up very quickly from there, right? Like, probably once you get into, you know, business with maybe 10 or 15 or 20 people, maybe now you want to be in, you know, several...close to $1000 a month, right? And then this goes nuts, right? Some people spend...
Emily: Thousands a day.
Chris: ...thousands a day on this. It's very easy to spend that too, right?
Emily: It really is.
Chris: So, really, what you're recommending is maybe you can go as low as $1 day but you're probably not going to get anything for that. If you want to start reaching some type of, you know, significant volume, you're going to be in the hundreds, maybe a couple hundred. But you're probably going to have to start to go up a little bit more than that.
Emily: So when you're doing that math and you say, "Okay. I'm willing to spend $50 for a really high-quality lead because I know that my customer's lifetime value is $500. So I can spend $50 on this lead." So then you walk it back and if you're going to spend $200 a month, then that's only what...I'm terrible at math...6 leads a month for your $200?
Chris: What was the cost per lead?
Chris: Fifty? Four.
Emily: My sister is a math teacher, she'd be so disappointed.
Chris: Well, yeah, okay, it's fine. Okay. No one's watching this. Oh, no, actually, this is our highest viewership ever. Okay. So that's great. So yeah, a lot of people saw it. But that's fine, four. But that's a really important point. And probably not every business has those numbers worked out. But if you can think of it that way, you should be willing to spend as much as you have available because you keep getting the results, right?
Chris: So, again, if I know that I'm willing to pay $50 for a qualified person to be talking to me on the phone, then, you know, 50 bucks a month gets me one of those. Do I have more cash? Yeah, get me 4 of those, get me, you know, 10 of those." And if they actually turn into customers and it's starting to work, I mean, the sky is the limit.
Emily: You can scale from there. Yeah. And it's really easy to do that, Facebook makes it really easy. And I also want to make the point too that if you start advertising and you don't get your first lead within a week or a couple weeks, it takes some time for that algorithm to learn and to find the person that you are ultimately looking for. So we don't recommend running campaigns for less than four to six weeks, at least to start and once you kind of get a feel for what you're looking for and let Facebook get a feel for what you're looking for.
Chris: That's a really important point. And maybe that goes into our final section, which is around testing and improving. Just a quick heads up, though, if you have questions, please leave them in the comments. We'll get to them, Phil will read them off here in a few minutes. Even if you're watching a recording of this, after the fact, if you leave a comment, we'll get alerted to it, we can come back around and answer it then. I didn't want to get too into the weeds with this, but you just talked about a really important point that I think that we should mention because it's important when setting expectations. And so, you know, you made this point that, you know, you want to run an ad campaign for a little while because Facebook's kind of learning as it goes, So, and that's a very important point. Google is the same thing.
When you launch a campaign, those first two weeks are usually not indicative of how the campaign is going to perform over the last term because the system is kind of learning things. Once you get to that third week or so, then you start to get the performance that you could expect ongoing, assuming you don't make, like, other major changes. But the other part that's, I think, interesting about Facebook is that there is like a saturation that happens with Facebook that's a little bit different from when you run Google Search Ads. Which is, you can only run a campaign for so long before you've really maxed out most of the response you're going to get if the people that you're showing the ads to are always the same, right? So like, how do you time? What are maybe some best practices for us to consider with that?
Emily: You're going to always want to be A/B testing your creative, that I think is another need to have.
Chris: What does that mean, the A/B test?
Emily: So that means you're going to have two versions of your creative, the A version and the B version, and you're going to be running them at the same time to the same audience and then you'll be seeing just generally which one performs better, which one gets more clicks, which one has a better click-through rate. And that's, you know, the number of impressions divided by the number of clicks. And then Facebook will also give you a relevance score. You can see that in the ads tab, in your dashboard. It gives you sort of this...not arbitrary, this based number, based on the number of people who have seen your ads and engaging with it and how interested people are, how much time they spend looking at it, all sorts of those attributes go into determining your relevance score. Facebook will kind of give you that also as an indicator of how relevant your ads are to that audience.
Chris: Relevance score, it's like Google's version of a quality score.
Emily: Of a quality score. Yeah, exactly.
Chris: Which is important for people to know that these platforms just don't take money from the highest bidder and that's who they're going to prioritize. There's how much you're willing to pay for an action and then the other part of the equation is how relevant is your copy, you know, is, you know, the ad itself to the people you're trying to get in front of. And you could be willing to spend more than anybody else but if your relevance is lower, your quality is low, as Google puts it, they're going to hold you down. And they're going to charge you even more than somebody who's considered more relevant or of higher quality. So it's a little bit of a check and balance.
Emily: And so what we do when we are doing that A/B testing, we'll run that for two to four weeks and then we will take the "winner" of that, the champion and then test it against a different kind of creative. And then see, are people still responding to this first version, A version or are they now more interested in this new version? And that's how you can kind of figure out what messaging, what images people are responding to and refine your creative from there.
Chris: So, and just to kind of package this up, so you know, the original point was, when you start an ad for the first time, it's not going to perform...you want to run it for a little while because it's not going to perform as well as it necessarily can in those first few weeks. But once it's done that, once it's done all the learning, is it kind of caught up and then you can start switching ad in and out, like every two weeks or do the A/B testing? So there's that ramp up period. And then you get to this point where you want to be switching out the ads every so often so you don't over saturate and start to see declining performance. Is that what you're saying?
Emily: Exactly Yep, that's a great timeline. After that point, you'll start to see, you know, if your frequency, like we said, starts to go up where people are seeing your ad over and over again, you can maybe consider switching it out sooner, but that's more rare.
Chris: Got it. Okay. We're going to move over to Q&A, just because we're coming up short on time. And because of our equipment setup, our camera automatically turns off after 30 minutes. I'm not making that up so we've got to move here. I had one question submitted ahead of time that I'm going to hit and then Phil, if you have anything else, we can add as well. Someone was asking, "When should I be doing this for myself versus when should I hire somebody to do it?" I'll be happy to take that one. You know, in our opinion, if you're just starting out, you're wearing a lot of hats, you're pretty much doing every job in the business, this is something you can do at night, you have the TV on, set it up, run it and you get it going because you just can't afford to hire anybody else.
But as you start to get, you know, a little bit more momentum going and the business starts to become, you know, a little bit more real in terms of what it's bringing in and the number of customers you have to serve, I mean, once you get into that, maybe 5, 10 and up, that's probably when you want to start looking for somebody to come in and help you, even if it's just on a part-time basis. I think what we've learned over the years is that this stuff changes so much. And you don't want to just set it and forget it because then, you know, you're just going to be wasting money because things change enough if you're not paying attention.
It'll take your money but you're not getting the results. So, yeah, I'd say in the very beginning, you could go off and do it for yourself. But then as you start to become more sophisticated if you're running...if you're starting to put, like, meaningful money like thousands into the platform on a monthly basis, I would definitely bring somebody in who knows what they're doing, either in-house or go out to an agency, an agency like ours who specializes in that. Phil, do we have any other questions you want to hit?
Phil: What recommendations do you have for types of ads? You know, there's a single image ad, carousel ads, video ads, and others. Where do you recommend individuals start?
Emily: So test them all. Facebook makes it really easy with the tools that they built in right into the platform to get stock photos for your images at no extra cost to you. So test it and see what resonates better with your audience, a single image versus a carousel ad because it's really, really easy to set up. Video, Facebook has been trying to grow their video views lately. So that's still being prioritized a little bit in the news feed. You might be able to get some video views for a lower cost than you would anywhere else. But, again, if you want to make a video and you don't have the time or the resources to you, don't be nervous because Facebook can help you make a slideshow right in the ads platform. There's a lot of tools there that are great for small businesses.
Chris: All right, we gotta head off now because this camera is about to turn off. And, again, I'm not making that up. There were a couple more questions...
Phil: We have a giveaway though, right?
Chris: We do have a giveaway, look for the link you can download our ad building guide.