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I often get the question: “What’s the best platform to promote a business—Facebook or Google AdWords”? And I usually answer with the following question: “Why do you have to choose”? The truth is that they don’t have to compete against each other. Both of them offer advantages and disadvantages, but using both wisely can help have a bigger impact than just using one channel alone.
Facebook can help you reach potential customers at a more affordable price than AdWords, which can be useful if you’re working on a budget. On the other hand, AdWords allows you to reach potential customers right at the moment they have a need, which can be ideal to drive immediate sales.
Let’s say someone is looking to buy a “men’s t-shirt.” One of the first things he or she would do is perform a quick search on Google to find the ideal t-shirt. If you’re promoting your t-shirt products on AdWords, this potential customer will most probably find your ad, land on your eCommerce site, and buy a t-shirt from you if he or she likes your products.
Instead, with Facebook, the same potential customer would have to stumble upon your brand without specifically asking for it. Both scenarios can be beneficial in very different ways. One can help you drive awareness affordably and the other one can help drive sales fast.
If you must choose one, I’d say there’s no definitive answer. It depends on the type of business you’re in (B2B vs. B2C), your advertising budget, and your goals. Use this guide to help you determine with which channel to start or how to combine both to strengthen your reach. We’ll discuss each of their advantages and disadvantages, and how they work to help you make wiser marketing decisions.
AdWords is Google’s advertising platform. It includes different types of ads, but we’ll focus mostly on paid search ads. This type of ads allows businesses to advertise on top or below organic search results. They are retrieved by keywords chosen by the advertisers.
It’s one of the first places people go to do research.
Google has become so ingrained into our everyday lives that we even use the term “Google it” to refer to any search. It’s usually the first place we go to look for answers about anything, from case studies to the latest outfits. Thus, if you want your business to be found online, Google is the place to be. AdWords can help you rank immediately instead of waiting for months to rank, which is the case when building a good organic ranking.
It’s used internationally.
Google is used around the world, so it gives you the chance to bring international awareness to your business.
Get in front of customers right at the moment they’re looking for products like yours.
AdWords allows your business to show up exactly at the moment a potential customer searches for keywords related to your product. Also, it gives you the opportunity to outrank your competition by showing higher in search results or attracting more people with appealing ads.
It can be more expensive than Facebook.
AdWords enforces a cost per click or CPC system in which, as the name implies, advertisers pay for every click made on a given ad. Some keywords can be very affordable, costing less than $1, but others can go north of $20. This can get very expensive, considering the usual conversion rate is around 2%.
For example, a business with $1 CPC would need 100 clicks or $100 to drive 2 conversions at a 2% conversion rate. If the CPC increases, you can imagine how the cost per conversion can multiply exponentially. On the other hand, Facebook usually has a lower cost per click with similar conversions.
It is limited by keyword search volume.
AdWords’ ads rely on keywords to be shown. If the keywords related to your business have low search volume or no volume at all, your ads won’t be able to show to potential buyers. Unfortunately, this can be the case for innovative products that are new to the market and which are not being searched for online.
They may require a high level of technical expertise.
Dealing with multiple campaigns, ad groups, and hundreds of keywords can get very technical. In addition, the platform is constantly making updates that can change the way ads are shown or campaigns are created. All of this continuous maintenance and optimization can be difficult, especially for a small business owner. It requires a good amount of time to learn and manage all the campaigns.
Facebook ads help people find your business on social media. It uses a cost per click (CPC) and cost per thousand impressions (CPM) auction model. Similarly to AdWords, it takes into account a measure similar to a quality score to evaluate the relevance of all ads.
Facebook Ads Strengths:
It offers very granular targeting.
Let’s face it. Facebook can be creepy. It can know your age and income, whether you rent or buy, your relationship status, your friend’s relationship status, and so on. Although “creepy” for many users, this knowledge database can be very useful when creating ads, allowing businesses to get extra granular in their targeting.
It helps businesses test different target markets.
Finding the right target market to sell products to can be tough. We can only imagine the characteristics of people who would like a certain product, but only by testing can we get an accurate representation of what our ideal target market looks like.
Facebook ads can help us test different target markets to find the most profitable one by running campaigns with different targeting. The audience that proves to be the most engaged with the ads would be the winner.
Ads can be very affordable.
Facebook ads are many times more affordable than AdWords.
It is used internationally.
Similar to AdWords, Facebook ads can reach people all over the world.
Facebook Ad Disadvantages
It can’t be guaranteed to reach people at the exact moment they’re looking to make a purchase.
Facebook ads help people find businesses on social media when they least expect it. Someone may not be looking for products or services similar to yours, but will just stumble upon it. In turn, some of the people who see your ad may not be ready to make a purchase, which can delay the conversion process.
It requires constant content creation and updates.
Sincemany people who see your ad may not be ready to buy at that specific moment, they will require extra nurturing to convert into customers. In turn, this nurturing will take additional time in the form of content creation and frequent social media posting.
For example, someone sees your ad and is not ready to buy but likes your Facebook page. Then, you’ll have to ensure you create frequent content posts to stay in front of the potential buyer and, sooner or later, convert him or her into a paying customer.
Results can take longer than AdWords.
As we previously mentioned, Facebook ad leads can take longer to convert than those of AdWords. This longer conversion period happens because we are reaching people when they least expect it.
It can be difficult to promote visually unappealing products.
Social media is ruled by beauty. Photos of pretty people with beautiful products are practically the norm. This can make it really tough for businesses to advertise products that are visually unappealing. Smart businesses need to get more creative than usual to attract and appeal to their target customers in this situation.
How to Choose the Best Platform for Your Business
Assess Your Situation
Start by recognizing the stage your business is in. Are you looking to gain awareness of your brand? Is your brand already recognizable, but you want to increase sales? Are you looking to build your brand image? The answers to these questions will help you define your goal and create a plan.
For example, if you’re looking to gain awareness, you may want to start with Facebook ads to reach as many people as possible at an affordable price. Also, this type of ad can help you make a visual impression on your target audience, which can make your brand more memorable than words.
If you’re looking to make immediate sales, you may want to start with some text and shopping ads in AdWords. They can possibly help you drive sales faster than Facebook ads.
What Kind of Product Are You Selling?
Is your product popular or new to the market? Affordable or expensive? Innovative products that are new to the market may have a low search volume, which would make them unfit for AdWords since they would have low or no visibility at all.
Instead, create campaigns on Facebook to start bringing awareness about your new products. Social media influencers can also be helpful spreading the word about a new product because they have a big following at their disposition.
Furthermore, take a look at Google keyword planner to get an idea of the average cost for keywords related to the products you are selling. If the products are too cheap for your keywords, the ROI may not make sense for AdWords, so Facebook ads may be more suitable in that situation.
Analyze the Competition and Your Industry
Where are your competitors advertising? Is the market saturated? How are people responding to your competitors? Knowing what your competitors are doing and what has worked for them and what hasn’t will allow you to find opportunities to promote your business.
Maybe your competitors have saturated Google, but haven’t tried Facebook, so you can use their lack of presence to your advantage to reach people they haven’t tried to reach through Facebook.
Also, knowing your competitors will allow you to estimate your budget and plan your strategy. For example, if your competitors are multimillion dollar businesses and you’re a small one, they most likely will outrank you in bids with their big budgets. Therefore, you’ll need to get creative with your campaigns to advertise in spaces they haven’t. Maybe you can target niche keywords that they haven’t tried on AdWords or try new campaign ideas on Facebook.
Understand your situation, your competition, your and industry to choose the right channel for your business. Remember that you don’t have to choose one platform over the other; using both will help you maximize your power. Also, always test, monitor, and optimize all your campaigns regardless of the platform. Only in this way will you be able to get the best ROI possible.
How to Use Both Platforms to Strengthen Your Brand
Use each platform for a different purpose.
AdWords and Facebook can work really nicely together to nurture potential customers. The idea is to use retargeting or remarketing across channels to improve the chances of converting leads into customers.
Let’s say someone clicks on your AdWords’ ad and then lands on your eCommerce website. If you don’t get to capture their email address or get a purchase, that lead will probably leave your site and never visit your website again. The money you used to attract them would go to waste, and you would lose a potential sale.
Instead, you can remarket this lead on Facebook and show him or her ads about the products they were interested in. Frequent exposure to your brand and products most likely will attract them to your website again to eventually buy a product.
Follow these steps to start remarketing your visitors on Facebook:
Create and install the Facebook Pixel on your eCommerce website. Many platforms such as Instapage make this installment easy by offering a dedicated space in their menu where users can just copy and paste the code. Otherwise, you’ll have to copy and paste the code within your website’s code. If the pixel is installed correctly, you’ll see a green dot next to it on Facebook.
Go to “Audiences” under the ads manager and create new custom audiences. You can create a variety of audiences according to specific actions visitors have performed on your site. For example, you can create a custom audience based on people who haven’t visited your site in x amount of days, or who visited your site but haven’t made a purchase. The more targeted you can get, the better.
Once your pixel has captured enough traffic, you’ll be able to use your custom audiences on Facebook ads. These ads will not only help you remarket traffic brought by AdWords, but they can also help you remarket to website traffic that came to your site through other channels.
Also, remember to create different Facebook ad versions to avoid boring customers with your message. Having ad variety will keep your message fresh and, possibly, more impactful.
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Ronald Dod is the Chief Marketing Officer and Co-founder of Visiture, an end-to-end eCommerce marketing agency focused on helping online merchants acquire more customers through the use of search engines, social media platforms, marketplaces, and their online storefronts. His passion is helping leading brands use data to make more effective decisions in order to drive new traffic and conversions.
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