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How to Advertise on Facebook: A Step-by-Step Guide

Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson is a content marketer at Proof, a Y Combinator-backed startup that provides real-time social proof software. Over 15,000 sites trust Proof to help increase their conversion rates.
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As a small business owner, you know all about embracing new opportunities when they knock on the door. You’re the chief decision-maker for your brand, and when new customer acquisition channels emerge, you’re curious because you see them as routes to sustained growth. Businesses like yours, the ones that adapt to a changing landscape and think about the future, are the companies that will be the 100-year enterprises of tomorrow.

That’s why Facebook is such an interesting opportunity for America’s 30 million small businesses: A network like Facebook provides an opportunity that business owners have simply never seen before in the history of modern industry.

When it first launched in 2004, Facebook was nothing more than a social network for college students. In fact, advertising wasn’t even a part of the business model.

But today, more than 2.2 billion people across the globe log in to the social media platform every month—that’s more than one-third of the world’s population! Facebook, even amidst recent privacy concerns, simply can’t be ignored.

How to Advertise on Facebook in 7 Simple Steps

You’ve likely heard that you should be running Facebook ads for your small business. Here are some points that underscore why that’s truer than ever:

  • It’s never been easier to launch ads on Facebook. Anyone with a computer and Facebook business account can launch an ad and start driving targeted traffic to their website or physical location in minutes.
  • 95% of small business marketers reported the best ROI on FB spend compared to other social media platforms.
  • Over 3 million advertisers rely on the platform to bring customers through their doors (both online and offline).

With Facebook ads, you can directly target individuals in your town or reach a wide audience of consumers scattered around the globe—all while remaining hyper-relevant and hyper-focused with your messaging.

And, in 2019, you don’t have to be a high-growth startup or big corporation pouring millions of dollars to see ROI on Facebook! A neighborhood restaurant can be just as competitive as Pizza Hut in reaching local consumers.

Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to advertise on Facebook for small business owners.

Step 1: Set a Reasonable Budget

As a small business owner, every dollar matters. Money that isn’t spent on advertising could be used for payroll, working capital, or even to open a new location. There’s no value in spending your hard-earned cash just because you’re told that you should be spending money.

Once you decide to start running Facebook ads, the most important first step is to set a budget that you want to spend on the platform during a month. This is an important decision to make, because, without a budget in mind, you’ll be limited by what you can do and more importantly how much you can reasonably spend on a campaign. Once you have a monthly budget, it’ll help you set your daily bidding maximum and your lifetime Facebook campaign budget.

You’ve likely already purchased advertisements of some sort in the past, but it’s important to note quickly how Facebook calculates costs for advertisers. Rather than being charged a set amount—like you would be when buying a magazine ad or an event sponsorship—you’ll be charged using cost per acquisition, cost per click, cost per impression, cost per lead, or another online marketing performance indicator. These methods are the standard in digital marketing, and as you spend more online, you’ll become well-versed with the lingo of the trade.

Step 2: Optimize Your Facebook Business Page

As you advertise on Facebook, your ads in the newsfeed will display from your business’s Facebook page. For instance, note how Proof’s Facebook ad displays the company name on the top left corner of each ad. If a visitor clicks that name, they’ll be redirected to the Proof Facebook Business page to learn more about the company.

how to advertise on facebook

If you already have a Facebook page for your business, you’re all set here.

But if your business isn’t on Facebook or you’ve ignored the page so far, you’ll need to create a Facebook business page for your company. There, you’ll be able to add a profile picture, list a short description, describe your services, and leave space for customer reviews. One of the most important things you can do is create a visually interesting banner photo to take advantage of the space above the fold.

The setup is pretty self-explanatory on Facebook’s site, but you’ll want to make sure you follow a few quick steps to make sure your page serves as a meaningful touchpoint for your visitors.

Once the basic info is created on that page, it’s important to share some content on your wall. If traffic that sees your ads clicks to your Facebook page, you want to give them some juicy backdated content to close the sale and provide more touchpoints to reach your website.

Run a restaurant? Share some recent customer reviews about their positive experience or snap a photo of the daily special to share on the wall.

Have a tax accounting business? Share some quick tips for customers to remember as they close their books for the year or record a quick video teaching your audience your favorite QuickBooks tips!

Consistent, quality, and fresh content is the backbone to creating an inviting and captivating page on Facebook.

Step 3: Add the Facebook Pixel to Your Website

Facebook’s pixel is a snippet of code that easily pastes in the header of your website. By adding the code to your site, you’re able to use Facebook’s advanced targeting mechanisms to reach exactly the right audience and report on the effectiveness of your ad campaigns.

What do we mean by that?

Let’s look at an example. Let’s say you own a local print shop. With Facebook ads, you’re able to target customers that meet your ideal customer profile (i.e. make $100,000, own their own business, live within 20 miles of your shop)—and then you can serve them relevant ads in their Facebook newsfeed. With the pixel on your site, you’re able to track which visitors visited the site or purchased after viewing your ad.

But an even more interesting aspect of pixeling visitors is that you can use the pixel to target or exclude exact groups of customers. You’re able to set Facebook ads to retarget visitors who viewed certain pages on your site, exclude past site visitors from new customer acquisition campaigns, and send special offers directly to the exact people you want to reach.

If you manage your site through Squarespace, Shopify, Magento, WordPress, or another hosting site, implementing the code is super easy. You just copy and paste your pixel into the header of a site, and voila! Here’s how to install the pixel on these common hosting platforms:

If you’re using a more custom-build site, you can copy the code into your site’s header using these instructions. Or if you’re not as technical and the thought of pasting code into HTML overwhelms you, forward this article along to your webmaster or ask a tech-savvy friend to give you a hand.

Step 4: Think Like a Consumer

Have you ever bought a new car and suddenly seemed to notice that exact car model everywhere? You’re likely not seeing more instances of the car, you’re just primed to noticing them now that you drive the same vehicle.

The same logic applies with Facebook ads. Once you start being an informed consumer of ads, you’ll start noticing ads everywhere you look.

And this isn’t a bad thing! By studying what other businesses are doing with their creative (copy, imagery, messaging, and even targeting) on Facebook, you’ll start getting ideas for your own campaigns to launch for your business!

As you start to theorize about the types of ads that you want to run, it’s important to think about where in the consumer process you want to introduce an ad: awareness, consideration, or conversion.

how to advertise on facebook

Photo credit: BlitzMetrics

Depending on the nature of your business, your customer treatment should vary at each of these stages. Notice how in the example above, Refinery29, an online content site, uses three different approaches at each stage of their funnel.

The left ad is for brand awareness introducing their brand as “the world’s place for discovering, empowering, and celebrating the personal style.” The middle ad targets visitors with a content piece to warm them up as they consider becoming a reader of Refinery29’s site. And the ad on the right pushes the audience to sign up for a list (a conversion), the R29 Insider guide.

The nature of this funnel will differ depending on your business model, but it’s safe to say that every business (both small and large, online and offline) should think about advertising on Facebook in these three segments.

Here’s some relevant info from Facebook on how you can structure campaigns using this methodology.

If you’re curious about the ads your competitors are running to consumers, there’s a new update with the platform that can help you find the best Facebook ads from your competitors. Use this as a starting point as you think of what creative ideas would resonate best with your customers.

It’s also a best practice to track what the experts in paid advertising are doing on a daily basis. Blogs such as ConversionXL, DigitalMarketer, and Hubspot are great places to learn more about the art of running paid advertisements.

Step 5: Target Lookalike Audiences

Facebook has an interesting tool that sets it apart from nearly every other advertising platform on the planet. With Lookalike Audiences, you’re able to create lists of people to target based on similarities to your current customers.

You can either create these audiences from tracked visitors to your site (using the FB pixel) or from manually updated customer lists. Facebook then is able to create a list of people to target that look like (hence the name) those customers. It’s a pretty incredible feature, and it can allow you to reach new audiences without having to test different manual targeting criteria.

Here’s Facebook’s ultimate guide to getting started with Lookalike Audiences.

Step 6: Test, Test, Test

When running advertisements online, one of the most important things to build into your thought process is a testing mentality. Here’s what we mean by that: Almost every webpage and ad online is constantly being adjusted through a real-time experiment—an A/B test, multivariate test, or split test. Small tests on these pages improve conversion rates, reduce costs, and make advertising costs decrease in the long run.

And Facebook is no stranger to the testing mentality that’s common to digital marketing. When you decide to run an ad, duplicate the ad with several variations to start getting a significant improvement.

For instance, to improve the click-through on an ad, you can duplicate the ad in your ad set with several different headlines, images, and supporting copy. Once you have different ads in your ad set, Facebook will automatically test them in front of an audience. The ad that best meets your goal will have the lowest cost, and Facebook will start optimizing traffic toward that particular ad.

Step 7: Make Sure Your Site Is Up-to-Date and Captivating

A final thing to remember when running Facebook ads is that your website (or landing page) needs to be up-to-date for consumers. You’re likely going to be sending significant traffic to your site from Facebook, but that traffic is a waste of money if your visitors are going to a page that doesn’t meet their expectations or give enough information.

To make sure that your site is relevant, have a customer look at your ad and then visit your site. Collect feedback on confusing elements on the page, and adjust your website to better convert or nurture customers.

Bonus tip: Once your traffic reaches your site, engage your website visitors with an interactive element such as quiz, like how online training provider Boot Camp Digital does with its Digital IQ Test.

how to advertise on facebook

Photo credit: Boot Camp Digital

This works very well in combination with Facebook Ads because people like being sent to a quiz more than a static page. This results in higher engagement and a lower cost per click for ads.

Getting Started With Facebook Advertising

Facebook advertising is competitive, but it presents limitless opportunity for your small business. You’ll be able to reach new customers in your town or across the world. And you can engage prospective customers or target existing customers with highly relevant offers.

Getting started with Facebook advertising might seem overwhelming at first, but if you think through the steps listed above and read up on all the education content on Facebook’s Help pages, you’re well on your way to success.

Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson is a content marketer at Proof, a Y Combinator-backed startup that provides real-time social proof software. Over 15,000 sites trust Proof to help increase their conversion rates.

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