How to transition to Facebook PPC from AdWords PPC


We recently spent a good chunk of time writing about AdWords for beginners. It’s only natural that we would move on to the other pay-per-click (PPC) giant: Facebook Ads. Although it arguably doesn’t have the same reach that AdWords does (~2.6 billion vs. 1.3 billion), Facebook advertising uses its wealth of user data to open up targeting opportunities based on location, age, gender, and most importantly interests and behaviors.

If the keyword-based parameters of AdWords feel too broad for you, advertising on Facebook is the solution. Making the transition isn’t easy though, and knowing which AdWords strategies carry over and which don’t is the first step in mastering ad campaigns on the world’s largest social media platform.

Similarities between AdWords and Facebook advertising

First, the good news: AdWords and Facebook advertising share a lot of industry phrases, strategies and integrations. If you have a lot of experience with the former, you have a decent advantage heading into the latter. As the most obvious example, they use similar cost-per-click (CPC) bidding systems.

Depending on your level of experience with AdWords, you may know exactly how much you are willing to pay for clicks, impressions and conversions, which theoretically could be carried directly over to Facebook without any changes. Just remember, AdWords users see your ad because they were looking for information related to your product when they saw the ad.

Tip #1: Lower your Facebook CPC to account for the fact that users are not actively looking for products and services when they are shown ads. Click quality is lower than AdWords, which is why the average Facebook CPC is between $0.50 and $1.

AdWords and Facebook advertising also have similar retargeting features. Both require nothing more than a short piece of code to be added to your site and an option to be toggled in your ad settings. That’s all it takes to display carefully crafted advertisements only to users who have already been to your site.

Tip #2: Instead of copying AdWords retargeting content directly to the Facebook platform, take advantage of Facebook’s expanded design opportunities with regular updates to your videos and images. Users on social media tend to reach ad fatigue more quickly than users on search engines and regular websites.

Both advertising networks easily integrate with third-party platforms like Pixel, Raven Tools and Hootsuite. But for those already working with AdWords and site reports in Google Analytics, switching to Facebook advertising isn’t a total shock.

Tip #3: Use Google Analytics to track which pages visitors check out after clicking on your Facebook ad and which demographics (mobile, desktop, geographic location, etc.) should be removed from your targeting. Visitors coming from Facebook often have different needs and expectations, so work toward providing for those.

Differences between AdWords and Facebook advertising

Now we get to the difficult part: all the stuff you need to unlearn from your time with AdWords. The most glaring difference is how to target your audience.

AdWords displays ads only when users show interest in your industry (e.g., when they search for “power tools”), whereas Facebook lets you target users based on their profile (e.g., they have liked a page about “power tools” some time in the past). The Facebook model is a great way to specify exactly who sees your ad, but it also means viewers usually aren’t in a buying mindset.

Tip #4: Focus on brand awareness and lead generation by avoiding time-sensitive, overly specific and sales-only content that alienates users who aren’t ready to convert yet. “Weekly tips, tricks and deals!” will get more attention from casual browsers than, “One-day sale on hand saws!”

With the simpler targeting methodology of AdWords, A/B testing is a pretty straightforward affair. Every campaign boils down to bids, trigger keywords, and ad copy. Facebook ads, however, are a lot more complicated. Marketers can create audiences based on interests, behaviors, connections, and even the goal of your campaign (increased site traffic, conversions, subscribers, etc.).

Tip #5: Run a number of A/B tests to narrow down the best combination of demographics (Location, Gender, Age). Next, create several ad sets with one interest per set (e.g., power tools, shop tools, hand tools). Finally, with your best-performing demographics and interests combined into a single ad set, A/B test ads with different copy, visuals and display metrics (desktop news feed, desktop right column, mobile news feed, etc.).

If you feel especially confident about your audience configuration, Facebook’s Detailed Targeting allows you to further limit your audience to those with multiple interests. For instance, if you sell wood routers, you’ll want to target only users interested in power tools and woodworking.

Tip #6: Create several identical campaigns. In each of those campaigns, add in one additional interest under the “Must Also Match…” modifier and see whether one combination gets significantly better results than the rest.

We’ve only scratched the surface of Facebook advertising in this post. Once you feel comfortable with the basics, you can start thinking about uploading custom lists of target audiences or letting Facebook suggest new ad settings with its “Lookalike Audiences” feature.

Just remember that the strength of Facebook ads lies in how targeted you can make them, and their weakness lies in a lack of user intent to purchase. As long as you create campaigns with those two things in mind, you’re off to a great start. For now, experiment with the tips in this article and check out our free eBook, How to Attract Customers with Facebook.


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