Facebook advertising has become an important part of the marketing plan of many small businesses (more than ever, after yesterday’s expectation-beating earnings report). Many small businesses like the ability to not spend a ton of money yet still reach a large portion of their targeted audience. Small businesses can spend tens of thousands of dollars per month on Facebook advertising, yet even an account that is spending $1,000/month can see great results.

There are three main factors key to successful SMB Facebook advertising: ad types, placement, and targeting. Let’s examine each.

Ad types

Unpublished Link

Unpublished Link

A popular children’s toy provider sees a 17% decrease in cost per conversion when using unpublished photo posts as opposed to unpublished link posts. In general, however, unpublished link posts tend to have a shorter lifespan while unpublished photo posts can last up to 6 weeks before they need to be refreshed (dependent on the audience size).

Unpublished Photo

Unpublished Photo

The advantages to unpublished link posts are obvious – they take the user directly to the company’s website, making a conversion that much more likely. The downside to unpublished link posts, however, is their appearance. Although refreshed to look more appealing on September 10, they are still obviously advertisements. Unpublished photo posts, on the other hand, look like a photo that anyone could have posted on Facebook. They are not clearly ads. Unfortunately, they don’t link off of Facebook so the advertiser must include a bitly with a call to action such as “Learn More -> bitly”

Placement

An aggregation of multiple small businesses shows how important placement is. Comparing data from over 300 million impressions, the CTR for News Feed ads ranged from .73% (Desktop) to 1.69% (Mobile) while Right Column Ads saw a .04% CTR. Advertising in the News Feed guarantees that you are front and center for your targeted audience.

Mobile can also play a huge role, but only when done correctly. If a site is mobile-optimized, ads should be run to both desktop computers and mobile/tablet devices. Mobile ads typically see a 52% lower CPC than desktop computers. If the website is not mobile-optimized, it is very important to only run ads to desktop computers. If you aren’t sure how your Facebook audience will react to your mobile experience, A/B test by separating out mobile and desktop ads into separate campaigns (this is also best practices). You can quickly tell which placement, mobile or desktop, will be more effective.

Targeting

The only thing more important than placement, however, is targeting. Small businesses need to utilize the information they have available to them. Aside from what they intuitively know about their target audience as well as what their internal data shows about their audience, they should also consult their Facebook Page’s Insights. This will help them learn more about their average Facebook user as well as show them which kind of posts aremost engaging to their audience. All this, when combined correctly, can help them build a successful Facebook ad campaign.

Custom Audiences and Lookalike audiences play a large role in the success of targeting. Adding in a Lookalike audience to a precise interest audience campaign can bring CPAs down by 70%. This was seen recently when we added in lookalike audiences for a yoga studio.

Another example of the power of Lookalike audience can be seen when looking at data from more than 8 million impressions over the last 28 days of a financial planning business. Campaigns that run ads without lookalike audiences see a 27% higher CPA than those that run ads with the lookalike audience. When running ads to just a custom audience (email list), the children’s toy company mentioned above, sees a CPA that is 111% smaller than ads not targeting just the email list. Unfortunately, email lists of small businesses are typically not made up of hundreds of thousands of people and the campaigns targeting these lists tend to have a short lifespan and are unable to spend much money.

There are a multitude of factors that will result in a successful Facebook advertising campaign. Paying close attention to the ad unit, placement, and targeting will help a small business not only learn more about what is most effective for their needs but also help them learn more about their key demographics.

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Molly McCarty
Molly joined 3Q Digital in April of 2013 after working as a marketing and social strategist for a web development firm in Washington DC. Molly has experience with online advertising for members of Congress, as well as small businesses. She graduated from St Olaf College in Northfield, MN, in May of 2012 with degrees in Political Science and Social Studies Education. When she is not working, you can find Molly walking her dog or trying out new restaurants.