As a small business owner with a limited marketing budget, how can you get the best results for your online ad campaign?

Google and Facebook are the largest advertising platforms on the Internet, both allowing you to target customers and spread your brand message.

The most important difference between using Facebook ads & Google Ads is the way your audience will encounter your ad. While Facebook chooses ads to display based on a user’s stated interests and demographics, a Google ad is targeted based on the user’s search terms. The difference is similar to browsing (Facebook) vs. going straight to what you know you want (Google). Both approaches can be useful for reaching potential customers. Facebook is an effective tool for generating brand awareness, while Google works best as for pull marketing.

This article looks at the similarities and differences between the two and when you might choose one approach over the other.

Google AdWords

AdWords lets you bid on a certain keyword or phrase to have your ad show up when a user searches on that term. The key to making the most of this approach is to carefully research keywords and know what language your customers are using. Your main goal when using Google pay per click (PPC) ads is to make sure that your advertising copy and landing page match up well with a user’s search term.

If the user is looking for a certain product or type of item, you’ll get a higher click through rate (CTR) when your content matches their needs.

Facebook advertising platform

Facebook offers a broader marketing approach, where you are able to market to people who fit certain demographics or psychographics but who aren’t necessarily searching for your product. This lets you educate potential consumers about the value you provide. Facebook restructured it’s advertising platform earlier this year to make its target marketing approach more powerful. You can target customers by location, demographics, or connections.

The connections option lets you reach friends of those who like your page, for instance. You can also target people based on stated interests and the Facebook groups they’ve joined, as well as based on their past shopping behaviour. If you are trying to build brand awareness a loose targeting approach is a good strategy. This lets you cast the net wide and reach a large group of potential customers. The opposite tactic is to tightly target your ads and run multiple short campaigns to see what combination of factors gives the best ROI.

Relative costs

Even though the approaches of the two platforms are complementary rather than identical, it’s fair to consider the cost per click (CPC) amount for each approach. Facebook advertising tends to be cheaper than an AdWords campaign, with a CPC charge of $0.25 on the low end. In contrast, if you want to rank highly for very competitive search terms on Google, the cost can be $100 per click or higher. Obviously that isn’t always the case, but in general a Facebook campaign will cost less. But cheaper isn’t always better, so it is more important to compare the results. For this, the number we want to look at is cost per acquisition (CPA), not CPC. For example, lets assume that the CPC for a Facebook campaign is $1.00, while an AdWords campaign is five times more expensive with a CPC of $5.00. But because the Google campaign is very effectively matched with the right search terms, it has a 10 per cent conversion rate compared to Facebook’s 1 per cent. For this example, we’d say that the CPA for the Facebook ad is $100 while the Google ad has an acquisition cost of only $50.

The key to making the most of your marketing budget on these platforms is to carefully measure ad performance. Fortunately, Facebook ads & Google ads both offer powerful analytics to track traffic and conversion rates.

Choosing a platform

While Google ads often have a somewhat lower cost per acquisition because it is so focused on customer search terms, this approach has its limitations. Facebook ads allow you to reach a wider audience, including people who may not have realised they wanted or needed your product. Both types of advertising can pay off if you have the right data to run an effective campaign. For Google ads you’ll need the keywords that your customers are searching on and for Facebook ads you’ll need to experiment with targeting different markets. Your best bet may be to try a mix of both advertising channels and track the number and types of leads you get from each service.

Should you bring in a pro? One way to get the most out of your marketing budget is to work with an online advertising agency, also known as a social media agency, mobile marketing agency, or digital marketing agency.

A social media agency offers many benefits, including marketing expertise, and outsider’s view, and knowledge of the latest tools and trends. The largest benefit is that you’ll instantly acquire expertise and access to professional tools. Online marketing is always changing, and it takes time and effort to keep up with trends and make the best decisions. You’ll also get access to the best analytics tools so you can track customer response metrics easily and effectively. Some of these tools can costs hundreds of dollars per month to license, but with a digital marketing agency you’ll have access to all the data you need to make the most of your budget. Whether you work with a team or handle everything yourself, the best bet for online marketing success is to spread your marketing budget across both platforms. The percentage you spend on each depends on your current goals. Are you aiming for broader brand awareness (Facebook) or hoping for a more immediate ROI (Google).

Companies are reporting good results for both types of advertising so experiment a bit and find out what works for your business.

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