Because the online paid advertising playing field changes monthly, my clients constantly ask for my current recommendation for where to spend their limited marketing budget. Although there are many online advertising possibilities, I prefer that businesses use Google AdWords and Facebook Advertising because the ads can be changed frequently to highlight current offers.
Beware of Changing AdWords
Google AdWords is a complicated system that can be learned, and then relearned monthly. Google is notorious for changing features which drastically impact your spending. Every change to the AdWords methodology notoriously throws off many existing AdWords campaigns and either plummets the click through rate or spikes the spending without notice. This is why the monthly relearning is important, and it's also why I do not recommend attempting AdWords without hiring an agency.
Who Are Agencies Really Looking Out For?
Speaking of agencies; there are several agencies that show off their "Google Partner" credentials. There are several types of Google Partners, but the most common badge that you'll see is the badge that simply says "Google Partner." Those partners are required to keep up with the latest AdWords changes, and they usually are very good at what they do. However, those partners are also required to maintain a combined minimum monthly ad spending of at least $10,000. This spending requirement is not a problem for large agencies that work with medium to large businesses, but I disdain agencies that claim to offer AdWords services in the best interest of small and micro businesses.
Micro and small businesses are always on a tight budget, which means an AdWords campaign will not be in their best interest. You see, in order to make AdWords effective you need large monthly advertising budgets. Years ago, I used to say that you could make AdWords work with $500 per month, but now the effective monthly minimum seems to be around $1000.
My company is a "Google City Partner," which designates us as an agency that helps small businesses get listed on Google Maps and in search results for free. It's unfortunate, but many small Google Partner agencies are gouging their clients with service fees and ineffective campaigns simple because they have a monthly quota to meet.
The Good Within AdWords
On the other hand, with the right monthly budget AdWords a good online advertising platform because of the many targeting options to help you reach the right potential customer. You could choose loose targeting of keywords in a specific area or you can choose accurate targeting by device type, exact keywords, time of day, location, and a lot more.
Loose targeting is best used when you want the largest number of clicks and respondents to your ads. In most cases, the cost per click with loose targeting is lower than $4. Loose targeting always seems to produce faster results because you get more phone calls and website visitors. Although you might feel like the ads are working, you usually waste a lot of you time trying to close those low quality sales leads.
Additionally, you'll see fewer clicks and website visitors when you use a more accurate targeting method. The agency you hire can set up the targeting to filter out the lower quality leads and produce better potential customers with shorter sales cycles. As an example, the cost per click when using more accurate targeting while bidding on "engagement rings" in your local area can easily be more than $8 with the cost per sales lead higher than $22. This might seem high, but you'll be happier with the sales results.
When Your Budget Is Small
When your monthly online media buy budget is less than $1000, you'll be forced to set your AdWords keyword bidding limits to a low price, but that also reduces the likelihood that your ads will be seen. When media buy budgets are that low I recommend using Google AdWords Express and Facebook Advertising instead of the regular AdWords system. AdWords Express is a very easy to use system built into the same control panel you see when logged into your Google My Business account.
Facebook's Ad Options
Facebook Advertising is also easy to set up and can be much less expensive than AdWords. Facebook ads can also appear on Instagram, which makes it even more exciting as a marketing platform.
For simplicity sake, I'll say that Facebook has two methods of advertising. The simple method is to boost a post before publishing it. They make it very easy and tempting to click the boost post link to convert your shared status update into a paid ad. Although simple, this is also the expensive method of using Facebook ads while also yielding lower results. When boosting a post, you are paying Facebook to show you status update to more people than their feed algorithm would normally allow organically.
The more complicated method of Facebook advertising requires the use of the Google Chrome web browser and Facebook's Ad Manager interface. Within Ads Manager, you'll find many options to help zero in on your target customers. Ads Manager allows for targeting of locations, gender, relationship status, financial income, and many more personal demographic details than what AdWords offers. The targeting parameters you choose in Ads Manager can be saved for future use, even applying them to a boosted post.
Facebook Ads Manager is a self contained systems where you can upload your ad creative and choose your demographic targeting within Facebook and within Instagram. Learning all the features is almost as complicated as learning Google AdWords. Thankfully, the Facebook ad system doesn't change as often as AdWords does. However, you don't need to use the full Ads Manager system to get a benefit from it. I recommend that all small business owners learn how to use the audience targeting feature to create saved custom audiences. Those saved custom audiences will then become targeting choices for your simple boosted posts. Audience targeting helps you save money by only showing your ad to the people who might be interested in it.
Bottom Line Comparison
When you compare AdWords accurate targeting method on to the Facebook custom audiences you'll find that Facebook ads will probably cost less than $1 per click compared to $8 to $22 for AdWords. Similar to AdWords, the response rate on ads targeted to saved audiences will be lower than more generic targeting, but it should also yield the same quality sales leads.
Facebook and AdWords have many similarities in their features, and an equal number of differences. If your monthly budget is more than $2000 then I suggest Facebook and AdWords; when less than $2000 you can use Facebook and AdWords Express, or just once of them. Keep in mind that more accurate targeting always yields higher per click rates and fewer impressions of your ad. As long as your targeting is good, don't worry too much about your impressions, instead you should concentrate on the number of clicks you are getting.
No matter how good your targeting is, the sales you generate will ultimately have a lot to do with the follow through once those ads are clicked. You don't need e-commerce on your website to generate sales from paid ads; it just needs to be user-friendly and invite people into your store where your great sales team can provide a fantastic buying experience.