Choosing the right traffic source can make or break your marketing campaign. But for many small business owners (and larger ones too) getting this right can be a confusing process. There are a lot of variables! In this article I'm going to outline the differences between the platforms, and the theory behind choosing the right platform for your business. I also include a brief outline of the process we take to help decide for our clients.
Basically Facebook ads are disruptive and Google ads are informative.
You advertise on Facebook by disrupting the user - you're getting in front of them while they are using Facebook to socialize, browse memes, and kill time.
You advertise on Google by providing relevant information to the users based on search terms. You are providing (ideally) exactly what they are looking for, when they are looking for it.
This means that ads on the Google platform should be targeting people towards the bottom of your buying funnel. They are problem aware, and are looking for a solution (which you provide). Of course you can do top of funnel marketing on Google as well! Its just typically advertisers use it for the bottom funnel. Imagine you were selling a Tinnitus solution - you could obviously bid on tinnitus terms. But you could also have success bidding on terms like "what is ringing noise ears" (use phrase match bidding [ringing noise ears]) and linking users to a landing page educating people on Tinnitus ... and conveniently offering a solution to solve the problem.
Whereas with Facebook you are marketing towards people based on their demographics - age, gender, and interests. There are a lot of advanced targeting methods as well but these are the basic ones. You can target audiences which typically would purchase from you and get your offer in front of people who may not even know they have a problem you solve. Very powerful! Especially for impulse purchases, visual products and low cost offers.
Targeting based on demographics and interests
Users are looking to kill time
Ads involve a lot of visual elements - including videos
You can retarget using the Facebook Pixel
You can pay per click, or impression
Rewards you for interactivity
Targeting based on search terms
Users are looking for something specific
Ads are all text based and have a strict length rules
You can retarget using Google Audience lists
You pay per click
Rewards you for relevance
Read and understand the basic differences. You need to think about your product and who you are trying to sell to. But also what stage of purchase is your audience? Are they trying to solve a problem right now (Google) or are you showing them a product that solves a problem or need they didn't realise they had (Facebook).
Your ad will be the first point of contact on your customer's buying journey. To really make an informed decision you need to know the answers to the following questions:
Are you trying to sell to someone at the start of their buying cycle or towards the end?
Are they in comparison mode - evaluating your solution against competitors?
Are they impulse buyers? Is your product or service an impulse purchase?
How visual is your product? If you are selling yoga mats and your USP (unique selling point) is the highly unique patterns, then Facebook is probably a better choice.
Lets look at yoga mats again. Lets say you aren't selling bright, colorful yoga mats. Instead you are selling a plain old boring mat. Except your mats pack up easily, and are great for travel.
How do you sell those? Well a video ad on Facebook showing how easy it is to pack up your mats which targets people who love to practice yoga and travel. That would probably work pretty well! But maybe you don't have the budget for a video ad? And while this could really work is it the most effective way to get sales now? You'll have to invest into making a high quality piece of creative that distinguishes you on the market. Sometimes that's not ideal for your situation.
However a cursory glance at the Google Keyword planner shows that there are several thousand searches each month for travel yoga mats:
Suddenly Google seems like a pretty good option (especially because the CPC for those terms is fairly low). These people obviously need yoga mats, and are looking for mats which are convenient for travel. Seems like a good option!
The next question though is why stop there? Why not put a Facebook pixel on your landing page for your Google ads. Then build a Facebook ad campaign which targets users who checked out your yoga mats, but made no purchase, with an ad offering a discount later on Facebook. If you want to get really fancy you can only target people who added to cart but did not purchase (cart abandons). Even better? Maybe you have a side product. Say yoga pants with pockets for travelling. Why not advertise those to the audience you are 100% certain will be interested? Combining the two platforms can be extremely powerful.
This is why choosing between the two is so difficult. Any product or service can work well on either platform - it just has to be positioned correctly for the environment. Understand where your audience is in the buying funnel, and how you are going to sell to them should be the main factors in choosing between the two advertising platforms.
So how do we help our clients decide? Its simple. First we look at their past data from old campaigns. Look at their past results and work from there. Its a key first step.
If this a new product or service (or a new business we are helping to launch) then we start by analyzing their competition. What's everyone else doing? Make a list of the top 5 competitors and check out their ads (you can do this in the Facebook ad library and searching on Google). We often spend at least a couple of days doing market research for new launches.
Then create your buying avatars. List out all of the features and benefits of your product. Create 4 avatars for the types of people who will be customers. Start thinking about where they are in the buying cycle when they purchase the product - is it an immediate need? A luxury? What features and benefits are most important to them? What are your framing options? How is your competition framing their products? Is there an obvious gap in the market positioning?
Then think about where these people hang out on the internet and the best way to get in front of them. Do keyword research. Lots of it. Look at search terms and see how much volume it has, and what the average click costs are going to be.
Now look at your budget. How much can you spend each month on ads? How much can you spend on the creative - do you have a budget for video production? Photography? What creative assets do you already have ready to go?
This isn't an easy process - in fact we usually dedicate a week minimum, to working out the framework of every campaign we build.
You just need to understand the pros and cons of the two platforms, and adjust your marketing appropriately! Then you should start thinking about combining the two. There is a lot of room for creativity here.
Also keep in mind that advertising on either platform is a data driven process. We tell most clients that the first month will not be successful (sometimes it is!). Instead the first month usually involves "buying data" - you are spending money to acquire data on things like audience, search term profitability and landing page efficacy. You then use that data to improve the campaigns and make them profitable the next month. And the month after that? Well you just got a ton more data you can use to further increase their efficacy.
Online advertising is a data driven process, the more data you have, the more effective your campaigns will be on either platform.
Hopefully you found this article helpful! I know its a huge wall of text ... but that's because successful advertising online is not a simple process. Otherwise everyone would have super profitable ad campaigns! But they don't. Truthfully if you want professional results you either need to spend a lot of time training to become a professional ... or hire a professional.
If you'd like more information on building your sales funnel you are welcome to download our free book below. It covers everything you need to build a working sales funnel in a month. Alternatively schedule a free consultation with us! We'll do most of this work for you, completely for free.