What You Need to Know Before You Start Facebook Ads for Small Business

facebook ads for small business
You’ve probably heard that Facebook ads are great for small business marketing.

As you look for new ways to market your small business, you’ve probably come across consultants, marketing experts, and content arguing that Facebook ads are a must-have for your marketing mix.

If you spend a lot of time on Facebook, you may have even been served some Facebook ads—about Facebook ads.

Facebook ads are a powerful marketing tool for small business owners, in part because of this kind of targeting. What kind of background information do you need before you get started with Facebook ads?

Why are Facebook ads effective for small business?

There are a lot of marketing channels out there. When you look at small business marketing, you’ll probably hear about a lot of them—sponsorships, brochures, content marketing, social media posts, and more.

Do Facebook ads work for small business? What makes Facebook ads for small business worth your time?

Facebook ads have two major benefits that set them apart for other marketing channels—and that make them especially effective for small businesses.

The first benefit of Facebook ads for small business: Targeting

As a small business, you aren’t trying to broadcast.

You don’t need to get hundreds of thousands of customers, at least not right away. For small business marketing, reaching as many people as possible usually isn’t the goal.

Could a Super Bowl ad grow your business? Maybe, but it would cost $10 million dollars and reach a lot of people that aren’t your target audience.

There’s an audience out there looking for your specific products and services—you just need to find a way to reach them.

Facebook ads let you shift from broadcasting to narrowcasting. Facebook’s targeting capabilities are intense—over 80 percent of US consumers use Facebook, and the average user spends 40 minutes on the platform every day.

That gives Facebook a massive amount of information—which you can use to target your Facebook ads.

With Facebook ads for small business, you can target people based on:

  • Language: The languages they speak
  • Age: Their age
  • Location: Based on country, city, state, or zip code
  • Interests: Listed interests, pages they like, topics related to interests, even pages their friends like
  • Retargeting: Using a tracking pixel to target people you have taken activity on your website
  • Device: The device they access Facebook from, including mobile, tablet, and desktop
  • Custom Audiences: Email addresses that you upload to use for targeting

This level of targeting means that you don’t waste budget serving ads to people who will never be interested in what you have to offer. It lets you cut through the noise and deliver a signal only to the people who care about what you have to say.

Additional targeting opportunities

Facebook Custom Audiences add another level of targeting by letting you serve ads to people on your email list.

To get a sense of the level of precision this allows, check out this internet-famous story of using Facebook ads to prank a roommate. Creating a custom audience of one email address allowed the author to create ads precise enough to really freak his roommate out.

Of course, Facebook has updated their processes so that this prank is no longer possible, but it does give you a sense of the power of speaking to a highly specific audience.

Because these people have already opted in to communications, you can be reasonably confident that they’re interested in your business. Targeting this audience with Facebook ads for small business is likely to lead to higher conversion rates.

If you use ActiveCampaign for your marketing automation, you can also use our custom audiences integration to automatically add or remove people to your custom audiences based on their engagement with your emails, website, and other marketing.

The second benefit of Facebook ads for small business: Clear reporting

There’s a famous quote in advertising, by the early 20th century merchant John Wanamaker:

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

In the days when traditional advertising dominated, it was difficult to tie advertising budgets directly to business results.

When you do Facebook ads for small business, that connection much simpler—so you don’t have to worry that your ad spend is being wasted.

Facebook delivers a variety of metrics that can help you assess the effectiveness of your ad campaigns. They include:

  • Reach: The number of people shown your ads in their news feed
  • Cost per action: Cost per page like, website click, or other goal you choose
  • Total spend: The total amount you spend on an ad campaign
  • Clickthrough rate (CTR): The percentage of people who clicked after seeing your ad

By very clearly showing you the cost of each action, Facebook makes it easy for you to figure out if your campaigns are getting results.

If you know reach, clickthrough rate, and cost per action, you can easily figure out how expensive it is to get someone to your landing page, or to sign up for your email list.

Customer acquisition costs are relatively easy to calculate, and the low cost of Facebook ads means it’s easy to test copy/creative combinations to find the best conversion rates before you go all in.

Best practices for Facebook ads: Compelling copy and creative

Once you’ve decided that Facebook ads are worth your attention, you need to actually put together an ad.

Facebook offers a few different options for the visual component of your advertisement:

  • An image
  • A video
  • An image carousel
  • A slideshow
  • A canvas

Regardless of the specific visual format you decide to use, you want to make sure that the actual image or video you choose accomplishes three things:

  • Uses bright colors
  • Catches the eye
  • Displays your value proposition

News feeds are crowded, so your visuals need to pop and grab your audience’s attention. All the targeting in the world won’t help if people simply ignore your ad.

Your advertising copy should be similarly snappy. You need to grab attention and clearly demonstrate why people should be interested in your ad. If you combine copy with strong visuals, you can increase your clickthrough and overall Facebook ad effectiveness.

For both copy and visuals, Facebook publishes guides that detail their technical requirements and advertising rules.

When shouldn’t you use Facebook ads for small business?

The potential of Facebook ads for small business is high, but are there situations where they aren’t the best fit? Probably.

Whether or not Facebook ads make sense for your marketing is a decision you have to make based on the specifics of your business. But there are a few situations where it might be harder to make Facebook ads work.

  • Your audience isn’t on Facebook: Some people still don’t use Facebook. If you’re targeting an older audience, or you target business professionals who don’t like seeing business content on their personal social media, Facebook ads might not be the best fit.
  • You’re scaling up in a big way: If you’re targeting a small niche, your customer acquisition cost may start to go up. Once you’ve reached the people who are easiest to reach, it can get more expensive to reach more customers, and you’ll have to make a decision based on the numbers in your business.
  • You haven’t defined your audience yet: The strongest benefit of Facebook ads is targeting. If you aren’t yet sure who to target, it’s worth taking a step back to do some market research. You can also use a small test budget to see if Facebook ads will work for your business.

Facebook ads can be a powerful marketing tool for your small business.

With simple measurement and unparalleled ability to target based on interests and custom audiences, Facebook ads can be the difference maker—to help you cut through the noise, reach your customers, and grow your business.

A trial is worth a thousand words.

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