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As Google approaches its 16th birthday, it is virtually impossible to question its value to online businesses.  

Over the last decade, companies from almost every sector have used the search giant to grow and reach customers that were previously inaccessible.

But with costs and competition rising, when can we look to Facebook as a real alternative?

I thought it would share some of my experiences to help invest your budget in the most effective way.

When the customer needs to be educated

The average internet user knows how to purchase online, they will instinctively head to a search engine when they want it, and purchase it when they need it.

As much as businesses would like, it is going to be rare that you see the same ROI on day to day promotional activity. However, if that future customer doesn’t know of your product or service, how would they ever end up searching for you?

Facebook is a brilliant place to educate your customer of your offering, and many inspirational companies like STA Travels would agree. The combination of a variety of advert formats and a highly affordable media network make it gold dust to reach new customers.

Personally, I have found video useful, In fact, I have seen Facebook campaigns deliver far better results than all comparable non-brand paid search campaigns.

Look! I even saw The European Parliament doing it… I will avoid talking politics, but the idea of educating a new audience to achieve something remains.

When the goal isn’t enter card details

I mentioned it above, but the sad truth is that people rarely buy from Facebook. I am not saying it will never happen, but very few are fortunate enough to see the same consistent returns that Google is able to drive.

That said, if you change your goal posts, you can quickly start to drive other meaningful actions.

Free downloads, interactive tools, competitions (forgive me for saying it) are all hooks designed to approach customers in a less forceful manner.

I am aware this is more difficult for online retailers, but every business can find an angle to softly introduce customers … And that is the aim of this section, to uncover the customer friendly hook in your business.

Email is still one of the best marketing channels available to us, so any way to obtain data capture will have huge implications.

When seasonality and trends dominate

Some PPC keyword auctions now cost over £10 per click, so unless you have a conversion friendly site you are quite possibly making a loss. However, for the same cost on Facebook you would not be unrealistic to expect over 40 clicks.

Therefore, if you can predict the demand, and target the audience, you should do it.

Take the student letting industry…

It is hugely simply to target this audience on Facebook (location, demographics, interests), their search trends run like clockworks, and because they are harder to convert, it is difficult to justify paying over £5 to get them on your site.

However, if you couple a Facebook ad campaign to bring them in, with a remarketing campaign (Google and Facebook), you may well drive more traffic to your site at a lower cost.

When you have something worth shouting about

This one is fairly self-explanatory, but something many people still disregard, and as a result, has stuck by me since I read Dave Kerpen’s Likeable Social Media (highly recommended) a few years back.

Dave suggested that offering 10% off is insulting to the customer…

While you may or may not agree with this, Facebook’s advertising auction is based on popularity. If an advert received a good click through rate, it will cost less, if it is ignored, it will cost more – simple.

Therefore, if you offer something that truly excites the customer, you will naturally see your media CPCs fall and their viral reach rise. On occasions I have witnessed Facebook CPCs as low as one pence, but regardless of specific figures, if you are able to reduce your click costs, you will reduce your CPA.

Edwyn Raine

Published 22 May, 2014 by Edwyn Raine

Edwyn Raine is Digital Strategist at Evolution 7 and a guest blogger on Econsultancy. You can follow Edwyn on Twitter

8 more posts from this author

Comments (4)


Lekan Adetifa, Head Online Acquisition at Moi

8th paragraph

"Personally, I have found video useful, In fact, I have seen Facebook campaigns deliver far better results than all comparable non-brand paid search campaigns."

and then 10th paragraph

"I mentioned it above, but the sad truth is that people rarely buy from Facebook. I am not saying it will never happen, but very few are fortunate enough to see the same consistent returns that Google is able to drive."

The above appears contradictory? Can you elaborate?

over 2 years ago

Edwyn Raine

Edwyn Raine, Digital Strategist at Evolution 7

Hi Lekan, thanks for your question, I should have been a bit more clear.

The 10th paragraph was specifically talking about eCommerce retailers, implying that Facebook (unfortunately) will struggle to compete with Google here. There are methods to improve this, but it will always struggle to deliver the same CPL.

Paragraph 8 was talking specifically about businesses which offer a product/service that requires an educated customer. While this could be an eCommerce business, it tends to be businesses which offer something unique or new to the market. Searches biggest strength lies in capturing demand, but it can be fairly ineffective to create it, particularly if the bid auction is expensive.
I will avoid giving specific examples from my client base, but businesses like Graze, Netflix, not for profits requiring volunteers and alternative medication companies are likely to see strong results here I would imagine

over 2 years ago


Maciej Fita

I think they both serve a different purpose. With Google a visitor might be using the site to actually find a specific product or service so the ad is a bit more sought out. With Facebook they might be on there just see what their friends are doing tonight and see an ad that might not be the right time for that particular user to click on.

over 2 years ago


Brittany Milstead

Great article; thanks for sharing! I don't know if Facebook will ever be a viable environment for an actual sales transaction to occur. I could be wrong, but people are on Facebook for interaction, engagement, conversations, and sometimes news. The businesses who use Facebook to build relationships with their client base are the ones who will ultimately get the biggest ROI from Facebook, even though it will be indirect. Facebook ads will always be around and my conversion rates from them tend to be very good, but those ads are ignored more than the ads on a site like Google, due to the simple fact that the viewers of that ad are looking for that specific information.

over 2 years ago

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