Breaking Down Facebook Ads for Small Business Success
Along with its massive user base, Facebook provides a sophisticated advertising platform. From distribution and targeting to testing and spend optimization, Facebook equips you with everything you need for advertising success.
Yet, despite these impressive capabilities, advertising success isn’t guaranteed on Facebook. It takes technical expertise, strategic planning, creativity, and a willingness to invest, experiment and learn.
However, you simply can’t ignore the growth potential presented by Facebook ads for small business.
If you can master it, Facebook advertising can become a significant, sustainable source of new business. Plus, with no minimum ad spend, it’s a low-risk venture.
In this post, to help you outshine the digital advertising competition, we’re going to break down how Facebook ads work and how you reach potential customers.
First Off: Where Facebook Ads For Small Business Don’t Work
If you’ve ever wondered if creating ads on Facebook actually work for small businesses, you’re not alone. In fact, 62 percent of small business owners say their Facebook advertising efforts fail.
There are numerous reasons this may happen. To help ensure your success, we’ll review three common reasons Facebook ads for small business don’t work.
1. You Aren’t Understanding Your Audience
As mentioned, Facebook provides you with powerful audience targeting features. However, even the most powerful targeting won’t help you if you don’t understand your audience.
To start, you should know who your audience is. Ask yourself questions such as:
- What do they do for a living?
- How old are they?
- Where do they live?
If you can’t answer these questions, you’ll need to do more research. Otherwise, you can’t capitalize on Facebook’s most basic targeting features.
Still, even if you understand your audience’s demographics, success isn’t guaranteed. In addition, you must understand your audience well enough to know what types of ads will resonate with them.
2. Your Audience Isn’t On Facebook
Facebook has billions of users, but there’s no guarantee that your prospects and customers are among them. 68 percent of social media users are on Facebook, which leaves about a third who aren’t. Also, among those 68 percent of users, there’s a significant portion who aren’t active.
There’s also the fact that many Facebook users simply don’t engage much with certain types of ads, which means the conversion rate will be low.
For example, if you sell to businesses, they could be on Facebook, but they might not want to engage with you there. However, extending this example, that same audience could be more open to engaging with your ads on LinkedIn.
3. You Lack a Plan to Sell Your Audience
If you’d like, you could head to the Facebook Business Manager and have ads up and running within 24 hours. For many businesses this as much of a curse as it as a blessing.
The ease with which you start campaigns prevents many business owners from properly planning. On the most basic level, you need a clear path for your prospects from the advertisement to your business.
Whether you ask them to schedule a call or complete a form, the experience should be easy and intuitive. Beyond that, you also need a plan to—among other things— measure ad performance, make adjustments, and improve your approach.
How Can You Ensure Facebook Ads Work For Your Business?
We’ve covered what goes wrong with most Facebook ads when small business owners try to utilize them. However, that’s no reason to get discouraged. Just because successfully advertising on Facebook isn’t easy doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
In this section we’ll review how to create a Facebook ad that performs well and attracts customers.
1. Analyze How Competitors In Your Market Have Used Facebook Ads
As a business owner, part of your job is understanding your competition. Everything from the products you sell to how you position your business is informed by competitive analysis. Similarly, you should understand how your competitors have used Facebook ads.
After all, your audience is going to see your competitor’s ads as well as your ads. In the fight for clicks, you need to know what your competitors are doing so you can properly differentiate yourself. Otherwise, you run the risk of blending in and failing to attract any significant traffic or conversions.
Beyond that, your competitors’ activity is also important because of the way Facebook ads are distributed.
On Facebook, whenever someone is eligible to see an ad, an auction is run to see which business ads are shown. One of the determining factors of who wins that auction is ad quality.
Understanding how your competitors are using Facebook ads can help you create a higher quality ad.
2. Obtain Extensive Knowledge of Facebook Advertising
As mentioned earlier, it’s easy to start using advertising features on Facebook. However, becoming truly proficient at Facebook ads requires extensive knowledge. So, if you want to run effective ads, you need to become an expert.
Although you could hire an expert to help, you’ll need to keep them accountable. Therefore, you’ll still need knowledge of Facebook ads. The reason for this is that effective advertising on Facebook requires significant technical and strategic expertise.
To start, you’ll need to know how to use Facebook ads manager. Plus, you’ll need basic proficiency with the following tools and subjects:
- Social media advertising
- Marketing analytics
- A/B testing
- Ad creation (copywriting and design)
Again, you can hire experts to fill the gaps in your knowledge. However, as the owner, you’re the expert of your products, services, and prospects. Creating, targeting, and distributing your Facebook ads will depend on your expertise.
By gaining extensive knowledge of Facebook Advertising, you’ll understand the tools you have at your disposal. This will help you guide the strategic direction of your ad campaigns. In other words, even if you’re not running the ads yourself, your expertise is needed to guide your team.
The good news is, Facebook provides useful certification courses to get you up to speed on Facebook ads.
3. Put The Time Aside To Plan Effective Facebook Marketing
We mentioned earlier that poor planning is a common reason for Facebook advertising failure. Most people simply jump in without planning, get discouraged when they don’t see results, and then give up.
This is why it’s critical to put the proper time aside to plan effective Facebook marketing. If you’ve never used your Facebook ad account before, just assume you’ll need at least a month for planning.
To properly market your business on Facebook you’ll need a plan that specifies:
- What your daily, monthly, and quarterly budget are.
- Who your target audience is.
- What you’re saying to that target audience.
- What you want that target audience to do (and how they’ll do it).
- How you’ll measure and define success.
- What human resources you’ll need to implement your plan.
Without any one of these components, you’re going to run into trouble. Most people skip to the fun stuff, like creating ads. Then again, that’s why most people fail with Facebook ads. So, don’t make that mistake.
While social media marketing has made advertising far more accessible, it’s still a business operation. In fact, you should take your social media marketing program as seriously as you do any other part of your business.
Only then will you be able to answer the question, “do Facebook ads work for small business?”
4. Set a Proper Budget
It’s important to view your Facebook advertising efforts as an investment and budget accordingly. Otherwise, you’ll evaluate the cost of your ads in the wrong context.
The point of advertising on Facebook is to create a cost-effective marketing channel for your business. That new marketing channel is a significant potential benefit to your business.
If you only look at the cost of that channel, you won’t set the proper budget.
Of course, a “proper budget” is different for every business. Start with the value of your customer and work backwards to understand what a proper budget for your ads is.
Alternatives to Facebook Ads for Small Business
If you’ve tried and failed on Facebook, or you don’t think it’s right for your audience, that’s okay. There are plenty of other avenues through which you can advertise your business.
For instance, you can advertise on Google’s Search and Display networks. You also may want to look at other social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, or Pinterest. Or, you can move away from social media sites and run ads on Spotify or Pandora.
Whichever platform you choose to run ads on, many of the concepts we’ve reviewed about Facebook still apply.
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Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.