Updated 24 February 21
Over 2.79 billion people globally use Facebook. That’s more than the population of China and India (the countries with the highest populations in the world) combined. With access to this many people, it’s no wonder why businesses invest so heavily in Facebook Ads to promote their products and services.
In addition to it's reach potential, what makes Facebook advertising so attractive is its ability to find your exact audience. You can advertise to people by age, interests, behaviour, location and if you really know your customers, even more. Needless to say, it’s a marketing-gold-mine for not only established companies, but fledgling startups.
The problem is, if you’re not familiar with Facebook for Business it can be a pretty confusing place. As a Marketing Manager at Nova, I get a lot of questions from entrepreneurs about Facebook Ads. So I thought I’d share with you the answers to those I’m asked most regularly by our tech startup founders.
Or a different variation that I get a lot is, “I know FB ads will work for my business as my competitors are using it.”
The answer is... it depends.
Even though Facebook has a huge global advertising audience, there might be a better marketing channel for your startup to test first. This might be your professional network, a LinkedIn account, approaching people at industry events or partnering with an influencer who has a highly relevant audience.
Start by watching our Early User Growth webinar and after consider carefully what could be the key channels for your startup. Then if you’re still determined to trial Facebook Ads, ask yourself these 3 questions:
1. Do my customers proactively search for a solution?
YES - explore search ads first. That’s where you can get noticed by people with a high commercial intent.
NO/RARELY - move to the next question.
2. Have I had success organically finding users / customers on Facebook?
YES - If you’ve had good success manually finding and recruiting people on Facebook, ads could be a great way to scale this.
NO - consider other social media platforms or a different channel altogether.
3. Is it B2C leads that I am looking to attract?
YES - Facebook ads are worth trying.
NO - The ads might work for B2B too but it’s worth going through other marketing channels first.
Our counter question would be, what are you classifying as ‘expensive’? If Facebook helps you get a qualified lead for £10, and that lead then goes on to pay £200 for your services, that’s a £190 gross profit. Would you really say that ad was a waste of money?
On the other hand, you might spend £200 on traffic ads to drive people to your website. Each visitor might only cost 15p, but no one signed up on the landing page. In that instance, the ads were expensive. Both real examples from Nova businesses!
The cost per acquisition (CPA) varies depending on a variety of different factors. If it’s your first time running ads it’s not likely you’ll know your CPA yet to compare the success of your campaigns. The good thing is, you can get a rough estimate of your CPA after running your ads for just a few days. Make sure you track your conversions alongside clicks and impressions to see at which point users drop off and whether there’s room for improvement.
Without a CPA how do I know my ad budget?
It’s hard to estimate the budget for your very first campaign, but as a rule of thumb we would recommend allocating £200-300 to play with. There a few reasons for this:
- Facebook Ads have a ‘learning phase’ which could be limited if your budget is tiny.
- Some experts believe that Facebook reduces the ad reach if the budget is very limited.
- You simply won’t get the conversions and therefore won't be able to fairly assess whether or not the ads worked.
If you’re worried Facebook is going to spend too much money on your account, set up a cost cup and a lifetime/daily budget for each campaign. You can also add a spending limit for the account and update it as you go.
In short, you need to:
As you set up your ads, the first thing you need to choose is the objective. The most popular objectives for startups are; website traffic, app installs, lead generation (via a Facebook form, Messenger or WhatsApp) and conversions.
Depending on your objective, you then plan out the rest of the user journey. Would people go to a landing page? If you expect people to fill in a form, what is the customer getting in exchange? If you want people to download your app, is the description on the app store informative and engaging enough?
Next step is the audience setup. If you’ve previously done any work on personas, it’s time to put them to use for your Facebook Ad targeting. If not, brainstorm what your ideal customers have in common – maybe it’s their job role, their interests or their location?
Finally, choose your placement and creatives. Any Marketer will tell you that Facebook ad creatives are just as, if not more, important than your targeting. It’s what is going to attract and entice the audience to explore the ad. The creative you end up using might depend on its placement. For example, you might have a great full-width horizontal video of your product. That spec would work best for in-stream and feeds, not vertical stories.
You should try and test a variation of creatives and placements if your budget allows for it, but if you can only pick one. Always, test your creatives first.
Facebook Business Manager is a tool that connects your Facebook Page and Ad Account under one roof. It’s the most convenient thing for an agency or a startup co-foundery like Nova as we can access and monitor multiple Pages and Ad Accounts in one place.
Ad Centre is a very simplified version of an Ad Account which gives you the basic functionality and the ability to view results. You can access it directly from your Facebook Page on desktop.
Ad Account is a more complex tool and the one we are referring to in this blog. It gives you full control of objectives, targeting options and creative elements of your ads.
Not exactly. There are 14 different placements options available across Facebook; FB Messenger, Instagram, apps and third-party websites that have signed up to Facebook Advertising. The placements include feed posts on desktop and mobile, stories, video and Messenger ads. You can choose your placements manually when setting up an ad set.
Whilst this may sometimes be useful for your engagement and reach, it will hardly bring your business any clients and immediate conversions. This happens for two reasons:
1. Limited targeting options
Targeting is one of the key components to a successful ad campaign. When promoting posts on Instagram or Facebook, you’re pretty much limited to age, gender and location.* On Facebook Business Manager, you can add more detailed targeting options such as interests, behaviours and demographics. For example, you can target people working in the healthcare industry who use their mobile for online shopping. Or you can show your ads to parents with young children. Or graduates from a certain university who recently travelled to another country.
*Facebook has recently attempted linking Ad Accounts to Instagram. This means that if you do everything right, your Instagram app should be able to pull out your saved audiences from the main Ad Account when you click Promote. However, in our experience, it doesn’t always work as expected. Also, you won’t be able to make changes to your ad on desktop if you create it on Instagram. So, we’d still recommend using the Business Manager.
2. No opportunity for optimisation
When you’re promoting something you’ve already posted organically, Facebook keeps the original creative as it is. This means it’s not optimised for ads. For instance, it might lack a convincing call to action, or the link description doesn’t look right. If you set up an ad campaign in Facebook Business Manager, you’ll be able to add a different image for each placement (e.g. a vertical picture for stories) and include up to 5 versions of primary text, changing dynamically depending on the results.
These were the main questions about Facebook Ads that we often get from founders. If you have a question that wasn't answered by this blog, put it in the comments at the bottom of the page and I’d be happy to guide you.