There are tons of pros associated with entrepreneurship. The freedom. The ability to work for yourself. The ability to scale something with your unique stamp on it and to reap a hefty percentage of the profit.
Less talked about are the growing pains inherent in striking out on your own to create something uniquely yours. Among those pains, de-coding the complex world of Facebook ads is often at the top of the list for entrepreneurs. Creating, maintaining, and growing a startup is one thing. Having the Facebook ads chops—and not just the chops, but the bandwidth required to ferry meaningful traffic into your online store, or to your free trial product page, or to your burgeoning blog—is something else entirely.
Ideally, you’d be able to find someone with those chops and that bandwidth to help you advertise. But if you’ve already spent a pretty penny contracting a third party agency or consultant to build your website? You run the risk of overleveraging your budget on inbound marketing before you’ve even made a sale. That’s why, for the sake of overhead, a lot of entrepreneurs look to explore the cost-effective world of Facebook ads on their own terms, and with what limited time they have available after all their other responsibilities have been met.
Today, if you’re among that select group of pioneers, we’re going to show you how to do just that. This is your beginner’s guide to Facebook ads for entrepreneurs.
Inbound marketing is a vital part of driving website traffic, collecting leads, and growing your business. But Facebook in particular is an incredibly impactful channel for entrepreneurs. Why? Because at the end of the day, you should be prioritizing channels that give you the best shot at long-term growth.
The Google Search Network is a phenomenal place to capture high-intent prospects who are actively searching for your products and services. As such, it’s often prioritized by entrepreneurs who want immediate returns, as quickly as possible.
Intent is unmatched on the search network.
But while immediate returns are great, you can’t build long-term, sustainable growth without first generating awareness. Spending your budget on mid-to-low funnel advertising initiatives month after month is a surefire way to dry up your marketing funnel. The fact is that you need to devote budget to building your top-of-funnel prospect pool. This isn’t just to drive awareness of your products and services so that prospects are more likely to purchase on the third or fourth interaction with your brand; it’s also to build audiences that will allow you to advertise more efficiently so that you can run more profitable campaigns down the line.
Your resources are going to be limited while your startup’s still getting off the ground. Taking the long view and giving the top of your funnel some love will go a long way in making sure you don’t crash and burn—or worse yet, create a pattern of unsustainable growth in the first few years or months of your startup’s life.
Facebook gives entrepreneurs an unparalleled ability to reach new prospects on a massive scale through the Reach and Brand Awareness campaigns. Both of these campaign types are available at the “choose your marketing objective” step of the campaign setup process.
In light of another resource entrepreneurs are famously light on—time!—we should note here how simple Facebook makes the campaign and setup optimization for DIY advertisers. Facebook objectives inherently mimic a fully formed marketing funnel. Wherever your advertising goal fits—be it awareness, consideration, or conversion—you can optimize your campaign to target that section of the funnel.
But let’s get back to building awareness. Both of these campaign types (Reach and Brand Awareness) allow you to use what’s known as CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions) bidding. This basically means that you, the advertiser, pay for every thousand views of your ad, rather than on a per-click basis. This optimization model is so valuable for entrepreneurs trying to build their brands, because it allows them to generate the most views of their ads for the least amount of ad spend. Maximizing ad exposure means maximizing brand exposure—and when you use CPM bidding, you’re maximizing brand exposure in the most cost-efficient way possible.
Reach and impressions: same thing, right? Not exactly.
Reach is the total number of unique users who see your ad, whereas impressions is the total number of aggregate users who see your ad. When you select the Reach campaign type, you get to choose to optimize your ad delivery for either reach or impressions. Optimizing for reach gives you the luxury of setting what’s known as a frequency cap.
Frequency caps allow you to set how much time you want to pass before a single user sees your ad twice. So if you want a minimum seven-day buffer between the first time a prospect sees your ad and the second time he sees it, you would set your frequency cap at one impression per seven days. Facebook ads for entrepreneurs is more about demand generation than demand fulfillment. Optimizing for reach and setting a frequency cap can go a long way in ensuring that you’re exposing your new business to as many unique prospects as possible.
For most entrepreneurs, ignoring the “Set a bid cap” option above will be your best bet. Facebook automatically optimizes your campaign to give you the most amount of impressions for your budget. But if you want to try your hand at setting a manual bid, you can select the “Set a bid cap” option. So if you decided, say, that it’s worth no more than $2 for you to show your ad 1,000 times, you can set your bid cap to $2. If you decide you want to ramp it up to $4 and see how that affects your estimated daily results, you can do so. And so on. But again, there is no shame in letting Facebook bid for you; in fact, it’s one of the ways Facebook helps entrepreneurs make the most out of their time and their budgets.
When you select Brand Awareness instead of Reach as your campaign type, you’re going to notice that things looks pretty similar at the ad set level.
You’re still getting charged per thousand impressions; Facebook is still optimizing your ad delivery to get you the most impressions for your budget (here you’re not even given the option to set a manual bid). Except here, Facebook inherently optimizes for ad recall lift. This estimated recall lift metric shows how many people Facebook estimates would remember seeing your ad if they were asked within two days of seeing it. The idea here is that instead of generating impressions based just on your targeting, Facebook takes the perceived “quality” of the impression into its own hands by using a number of factors (behavior, polling, machine learning) to determine which prospects will actually remember your ad after viewing it.
Optimizing for ad recall lift is an especially effective strategy for entrepreneurs because it allows you to hedge against wasting money on low-quality impressions. If you’re inexperienced with targeting, or if you all your have is a minimum viable product and you’re still trying to gauge who your ideal customer is, it’s perfectly ok to use very broad targeting when running the Brand Awareness campaign type; actually, Facebook recommends it. Targeting broadly allows Facebook the room to find quality impressions that are more likely to result in conversions at future brand touch points.
Many entrepreneurs considering Facebook ads are undoubtedly going to be in the e-commerce space. Templated website creation platforms like Shopify and Squarespace make it easier than ever for entrepreneurs to set up slick online stores themselves, or to hire a third party consultant or agency to do it for them relatively cheap. Set up a quick self-made site on Shopify, get hooked up with a dropshipping supplier, and boom: you don’t even have to see your product before you sell it.
Whether you choose Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, or another e-commerce platform to pedal your tangible product, e-commerce is an extremely quick and viable way for entrepreneurs to get their businesses up and running. Retail ecommerce sales worldwide are projected to surpass 4 trillion US dollars by 2020. If you’re considering using Facebook ads to help grow your startup or small business, there’s a good chance you’re either already contributing or considering contributing to that number.
And while Google Search and Shopping represent great opportunities to get qualified traffic to your online store, Facebook’s extensive suite of targeting options, ad types, and placements make it no slouch in the e-commerce department.
Products can be advertised using every ad type on Facebook. Whether that’s carousel ads that allow you to showcase multiple products in your lineup (or multiple features of one product)…
Lead ads that will allow you to collect cost-efficient leads and blast them with email offers for your retail products later on…
Or another ad type—there’s no shortage of formats in which to showcase your products.
Retailers who create on-site offers to incentivize purchases during set promotional periods will find Facebook offer ads extremely useful. Offer ads allow you to advertise the products that apply to your on-site promotion across Facebook, driving visitors to your online store who are ready to convert on your offer.
Arming prospects with discount codes before they head to your online store is a great way to encourage purchasing behavior. Offer ads give entrepreneurs the ability to do just that.
Hands down the biggest advantage of using Facebook ads for entrepreneurs is the ability to generate affordable traffic to kickstart your website’s (and your business’s) growth. If you’re looking for advertising channels to grow your new business or startup, and you’re truly in it for the long haul, Facebook is the ideal channel.
From an easy, guided campaign setup, to CPM bidding, to ad types that give you the ability to showcase your product or service in a variety of different ways—Facebook ads are tailor-made for business owners trying to get their businesses off the ground and for advertisers with little in the way of time and resources. Plus you can use our free Facebook Ads Grader to make sure your account is optimized for maximum success. If you’re an entrepreneur at the intersection of those two, and you’re looking to take inbound marketing into your own hands, Facebook has a lot to offer.
Gordon Donnelly is an SEO jedi who proudly honed his chops at WordStream for 5+ years. Today, you’ll find him at home in Boston, building Triple Whale’s world-class e-commerce analytics platform, or helping businesses of all sizes grow through SEO, advertising, and content marketing.
See other posts by Gordon Donnelly
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.