With over 1 billion active users, and the ability to inexpensively target your customers based on thousands of variables like location, age, income level, interests, marital status, and more, Facebook advertising can drive significant sales for any type of business.
Most small businesses fail at Facebook advertising, however, because they find it too complex, or are not executing on the right strategy.
In this guide we are going to show you how to succeed on Facebook using a simple but powerful 3 step Facebook advertising strategy specifically designed for local businesses. We’ll walk you through the exact strategy and how to set it up step by step with a live example.
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How Facebook Advertising Works
When someone logs onto Facebook and views their news feed, they will see sponsored posts interspersed between posts and shares from their Facebook friends. These ads blend in pretty seamlessly, with the only tell that it’s an ad being the word “sponsored.” When viewing Facebook on a non-mobile device, there will also be a column on the right hand side of the page with additional ads.
Facebook advertising differs from other types of online and traditional advertising because you can hyper-target the audience that sees your ad. When setup correctly, you can show your ads only to people who closely match your ideal customer. This means you don’t waste money showing ads to people that you already know don’t have an interest in your business.
Facebook Ad Targeting Examples
For example, if you own a men’s clothing store, you could target your Facebook ads to show only to college educated married men between the ages of 40 and 50 that live within 10 miles of your store.
If you have a yoga studio, you can target your Facebook ads to show only to females that attend the university near your studio, and that Facebook knows (from their activity on Facebook) have an interest in Yoga.
There are thousands of ways you can target on Facebook, but a few broad categories are:
- A person’s age, gender, and location
- Pages that the person already likes on Facebook
- Activity on your website
- A person’s Facebook interests
Now that you understand how Facebook Advertising works in general, let’s go through our step by step strategy that you can use to start successfully running ads on Facebook today.
Our 3 Step Local Business Facebook Advertising Strategy
The 3 steps in our local business Facebook advertising strategy are:
- Make people aware of your business by providing free value. (The Awareness Stage)
- Establish your local business as the expert. (The Consideration Stage)
- Make the pitch for your business. (The Conversion Stage)
You may be wondering why you can’t just skip to step three and make your pitch. The reason is because Facebook is a relationship driven social network, where people come to keep up to date on what’s happening in their network.
They don’t come to Facebook to buy products and services.
This means that pitching a product or service using a Facebook ad to someone that is not already familiar with your business, would be like walking up to strangers at a cocktail party and asking them to buy insurance.
If you want to successfully sell products and services with Facebook ads, you have to build a relationship first.
Once you have a relationship then you can let people know about the product(s) or service(s) you offer.
Once they are aware of you and know what business you are in, then you can go for the conversion.
Let’s see how this works with a live example.
Live Example of our 3 Step Facebook Advertising Strategy
We are going to run this strategy for a local real estate agent who sells vacation homes near Lake Gaston in North Carolina. This same strategy should work for pretty much any type of small business.
Step 1: Make people aware of your business. (Awareness Stage)
The best way to warm people up and make people aware of your business on Facebook is to advertise a piece of content that is both:
- Related to the product or service you sell
- Something your ideal customer would find interesting
For our realtor, we are going to post and advertise an article titled “15 Fun Things to Do at Lake Gaston.”
This is the type of article that people are already used to seeing in their Facebook feeds, so pushing the article out there with an ad won’t feel intrusive to most people. Because Facebook users are more likely to interact with this article than an ad asking them to come in and look at properties, it will also be less expensive than that type of ad.
We’ll use Facebook’s ad targeting capabilities to show this article to Facebook users that match our ideal buyer profile: college educated men and women between the ages of 40 and 65 who are located in large cities within driving distance of the lake.
Once we do this, we know that if people click on our ad and view the article, they match our ideal client profile AND are interested in Lake Gaston.
Step 2: Show people that you are an expert in your field, or have the best product out there. (Consideration Stage)
Once people are familiar with your business, you want them to trust you as an expert in your field. This is the consideration phase.
Here again, the best way to do this on Facebook is to advertise a piece of content. This time, however, the article is going to be more directly related to the business you are in. The goal here is to show those who are aware of your business that you are an expert in your field.
For our local real estate agent, the second article will be “5 Mistakes to Avoid When Purchasing a Vacation Home.”
We can choose to show this ad only to the people who clicked on the first ad promoting fun things to do in Lake Gaston. Therefore, we are only showing this ad to people that we know from their interaction with the first ad, fit our ideal buyer profile and are interested in Lake Gaston.
The person who clicks on this second ad will get a taste of our real estate agent’s expertise on this topic. It also identifies this person to us as someone who may be interested in purchasing a home on Lake Gaston.
Step 3: Make your pitch. (Conversion Stage)
You have guided people through the funnel, and are now left with a much more targeted audience that has shown interest in your awareness and consideration ads. Now it’s time to hit them with an ad that sells your product or service (conversion stage).
For the real estate agent, we will run an ad with the call to action, “Call for a Free Consultation.” Because of our targeting and the content of the first ad (15 Fun Things to Do at Lake Gaston), we know that the person seeing this ad matches our ideal buyer profile, likely has an interest in Lake Gaston, and is aware of our business.
Because of our targeting and the content of the second ad (5 Mistakes to Avoid when Buying a Vacation Home) we have established ourself as the expert, and know that the person also is likely interested purchasing a vacation home.
This means that those we are showing this ad to are more likely to become customers. This is important because conversion ads generally cost more than content ads, but you can lower the cost of conversion ads by showing them to people who already clicked on previous ads.
Since our audience is warmed up to our business and trust us as the expert, they are more likely to be interested in a consultation than if this had been the first ad they had ever seen from our business.
Something to note is that we only asked for small commitments every step of the way (i.e. read our article or give us a call). This increases the chance that our audience will take the desired action. We don’t want to create an ad pitching people to come by for a half day of showings, which is a big commitment. We have to build the relationship slowly, just like how we would in real life.
How to Set Up Our 3 Step Local Business Facebook Advertising Strategy: Step-by-Step Instructions
Hopefully by now you understand the thought process behind our 3 step strategy. We will now go over how to implement the strategy step-by-step for your own business.
Create your Blog Post
Before you can post a link to an interesting article, you will need to write a blog post and host it on your website. Don’t have a website? Learn how to create one here.
If you don’t currently have a blog on your website, it’s a good idea to add one. Not only is it necessary to complete this advertising strategy, it also will help your website rank in Google’s search results.
For our real estate agent, we will post the blog on the back end of his Weebly website. This is super easy to do; we just need to navigate over to the blog section of the website and click on the “new post” button on the bottom right. Then we can add the title, image, and text of the article.
Check out the blogs that we created on the real estate agent’s website here.
Add the Facebook Remarketing Pixel to your Website
Remarketing is when you find potential customers by first promoting interesting content and then remarketing to those that expressed interest in the content (by clicking on it and visiting your site). By now, you’ll know that this is an important part of our 3 step Facebook strategy.
In order to use this strategy on Facebook, you need to add a piece of code to your website, called a pixel, before you start running a Facebook campaign in order to track who has been to your website.
Adding the pixel might be an intimidating step, but it is important to install it on your website so that you can remarket to people that have visited your site. If you would like someone to do this for you for $5, you can go here.
If you would like to set this up yourself, you can get your pixel code by clicking on the top left side of the Facebook ads manager and selecting pixel.
You can also find it by searching “pixel” in the ads manager search bar.
This is what the Facebook pixel code looks like.
The code needs to be pasted somewhere on the backend of your website (likely on the “header” or “footer” so it appears on every page).
Our real estate website is hosted on Weebly, so we will show you where to paste the code on the backend of a Weebly website. For a demo of how to add this code to a WordPress website, check out this YouTube video. If your website is hosted using a different service, you should be able to find a tutorial for where to paste your Facebook pixel by doing a Google search, or you can find someone to do it for you on Fiverr.
For our Weebly website, we will paste the code on the footer of the page. Click into the footer, and then drag the “Embed Code” icon and drop it into the footer.
You will then be prompted to paste the code.
Once we have pasted the pixel code, we can go back to Facebook and make sure it was properly installed. It will show a green dot next to your pixel name if the code is active (this will take a few minutes, so be patient).
In order to track people that go to a specific landing page, you will have to go back to where you found the Facebook pixel and click on “create audience.” You can then enter the keywords from that page’s URL and name the audience something descriptive of the people in the audience.
Create your Ad
Now that we have installed the pixel on the backend of our website, we can get started with creating our ad. The first ad will be promoting our blog post “15 Fun Things to Do in Lake Gaston.”
Click on the top right hand of your Facebook account where it says “create ads.”
Choose the marketing objective of sending people to your website and name the campaign. You will want all three ads to have the same campaign name, because this is how you can link them together.
Determine your Audience
An important step in running your first ad is determining who you want your target audience to be. In Facebook advertising, the audience consists of people that your ad could potentially show to.
We can choose to have our ad only show to men from Tennessee that got married in the last 30 days or teenagers who are likely to buy diet drinks. This step can be overwhelming just because there are thousands of options to choose from. Facebook has information about where we live, who our friends are, what our interests are, how we like to interact, our purchasing history, and so much more. Even crazier, Facebook allows advertisers to use this information to target their ads.
For our local real estate agent, we are going to model the audience around his current clientele. We know that people that typically purchase vacation homes on Lake Gaston have the following traits:
- Upper income range
- College educated
- Located in major cities in close proximity to Lake Gaston
- Ages 40-65+
Once we plug in this criteria, Facebook will let us know what our “potential reach” is. Potential reach is the estimated number of monthly active people on Facebook that match the audience we defined through the audience targeting selections.
We want to cast a wide net with this ad in order to have a better chance of getting people that are interested enough to click on our article. If we are too specific, we could be inundating the same small group with our ads. If we’re too broad then our ad will show to people that have no interest in our business.
You’ll see below that our audience is marked as defined, which is what you should aim for. A potential reach of around 250,000 is a good starting number.
If you want to see all of the audience targeting selections you can choose from, you can browse around the detailed targeting section.
Choose Ad Placement and Budget
Next we need to determine where and when we want our ad to show, and how much we want to pay.
The choices we need to make are:
- Device type – You can choose to have your ad show on mobile, desktop, or both. We will choose to have our ad show on both desktop and mobile. People use both device types when using Facebook, and Facebook allocates funds based on where they think your ad will do best, so choosing to show on all devices is a safe bet. If you notice when tracking your ad’s performance that one device converts better than the other, then you can adjust future ads accordingly. Most people use mobile on Facebook, so make sure both your ad and your website look good on a mobile device.
- Platforms – There are three platforms that we can have our ad show on: Facebook, Instagram and Audience Network (this network consists of third party apps and mobile websites). We have chosen to just show the ad on Facebook only, because we are optimizing the ad based on how people use Facebook specifically.
- Daily budget – Set a budget that you are comfortable with. You can start small ($5/day) and then increase this once you have more information on which ads and audiences perform the best. Increasing your daily budget increases the number of people that see your ad. Our budget of $10/day has the ad showing to between 940-2,500 people per day.
- Schedule – You can choose to either run your ad continuously, or set a start and end date for your ad. We will run the ad from Thursday to Sunday. This guarantees that we won’t spend more than $30, and we can check back on Monday to make sure we had enough people click on our first ad to show the second ad to.
Format your ad
Next you can choose the format of your ad. The 4 options are:
- Carousel – This is an ad with 2-10 scrollable images or videos. When this type of ad appears in your news feed it is pretty obvious it’s an ad and not a post from a friend. This could work for some types of promotions, but it is not ideal for sharing an interesting article.
- Single Image – We will use a single image. When people share articles on Facebook, the article is usually accompanied with a single image. Since we want our ad to look as natural as possible, we will follow this same format.
- Single Video- Videos are very engaging, so if you have the time it is definitely a good idea to test using an ad with a video.
- Slideshow – This is an ad with a looping video and up to 7 images.
Now it’s time to choose your image. Canva is a great free resource where you can find images and set the size so that it is optimized for Facebook ads. Facebook lets us know that the recommended image size for this type of ad is 1200 x 628 pixels. You can also add text to your image. I was able to create the image for this ad using Canva in less than 15 minutes.
After you have chosen your audience and uploaded your image, you will just need to:
- Enter the website URL of your blog post
- Put in a catchy headline
- Enter the text that will appear above the image
- Place your order
You will also want to make sure that your ad looks how you want it to on both desktop and mobile and make any necessary modifications.
You can choose to add a “Call to Action (CTA)” button (ex: Learn More, Shop Now, Contact Us, etc.). We have decided not to use a CTA button because when people share articles on Facebook, that button does not show. Our goal is to have the article look like just another one of your friend’s shared posts.
We have now started running our first Facebook ad. This is how the ad looks on the Facebook news feed.
We will need to check back in a few days and make sure we have received enough clicks to start running our consideration ad. You need to have at least 20 people in an audience in order to use it for a Facebook ad.
Run your Consideration Ad
This will be a retargeting ad that will be shown to anyone that clicked on our first ad promoting the article “15 Fun Things to Do in Lake Gaston”. We will show them the article that demonstrates our expertise, “5 Mistakes to Avoid When Purchasing a Vacation Home.”
Before we run this ad, we will need to create a new custom audience so we can track everyone who visits the landing page that hosts our consideration article. We will use this audience when running our third ad, which is the conversion ad.
We will create this ad the same way we created the awareness ad, with two changes:
- We will set the audience to the custom audience that we created and named earlier in this process. This way the ad will only show to people who clicked on the awareness ad. Facebook will let you know how many people are in the audience when you select it.
- When creating the ad, we will choose a new image, description, and will change the URL to link to the new article.
Here is how our consideration article appears in the news feed.
Create your Conversion Ad
The final ad will be one promoting a call to action. This ad will be targeted to those that clicked on our consideration ad promoting “5 Mistakes to Avoid When Purchasing a Vacation Home.”
In this ad, we will ask people to call the realtor for a free consultation, and we will use the custom audience that we created right before we ran our consideration ad which tracked people that clicked on that ad.
Since we are targeting only users that clicked on the first two ads, we should have success advertising to this group. This group will have already expressed interest in both Lake Gaston and real estate.
Next we just need to insert a new image and put in a headline and description. You will want to use a different image for all three ads because then people will know that they are seeing a new ad. If you use the same image, they might think that they have already read the article, and skim right past it.
For our ad, we will use a call tracking number. This technology enables us to know when someone calls the business using the number that is unique to our Facebook ad. We have a tutorial on how to set this up here.
Here is what our third ad looks like.
We will be sending people that hit the “Contact Us” button to a page where they can sign up to be contacted. The reason for this is because even if they don’t feel like calling at that moment (maybe they are too tired to talk, or are about to do something else, etc.), we are still allowing them to take an action where we can easily get their information.
The form should be very simple to fill out. People are more likely to fill out a form if it is quick and easy.
After you place the order, you can preview how your ad will appear on mobile, desktop, and the desktop right column of Facebook. You can do this by clicking to edit your ad, and then hitting “1 Ad Set.”
Here is how the ad will look on a mobile device.
Tips for Creating an Effective Facebook Ad
When creating your ads, there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure your advertisement is as impactful as possible.
- Image – The picture is the first thing that will catch the user’s eye. Make sure that it stands out and will make people pause long enough to read the text of your ad.
- Headline – After you have gotten the user’s attention with the image, tell them what your about in your headline. Keep your headline short and to the point.
- Description – Include a call to action here. You can also give a teaser of what your ad is promoting to raise curiosity.
For more tips on creating ads, the folks at AdEspresso have a good article explaining the best practices for making successful Facebook ads. We have also have an article with nice looking Facebook ad templates that you can use for your business.
How To Tell if Your Facebook Ads Are Working
By going to the right hand side of your account and clicking “manage ads” you will be able to access the ads manager and see how well your ads are performing.
For our ads that were meant to drive traffic to the articles on the website, we want to focus on click through rate (CTR). CTR is the amount of people that clicked on your ad divided by the amount of people that saw your ad. We also want to look at the cost per click (CPC), which is how much you paid to get someone to click on your ad. So if 15 people click on your ad, and your total cost is $15, your CPC is $1.
According to The Facebook Ads Benchmark Report conducted by Salesforce, the average CTR for an article post is around 2% and the average CPC is $.23. If you notice that you are not achieving these numbers, you will want to change up your article and post something that people will want to engage with.
Determining if our 3 step local business Facebook strategy was a success for our local real estate agent is complicated. Ideally we want someone to purchase a home directly from seeing our ads and calling the number listed. However, spreading awareness of the agency is a perk from advertising that is harder to measure. Since realtors work directly with each customer, he can simply ask all new clients how they heard about him. If you work in a similar type of business where this is possible (i.e. painting contractor, doctor, etc), you should implement this same strategy.
This will be harder if you own a restaurant or clothing store, for example, because you don’t interact one on one with each of your customers. In that case, although you probably won’t know exactly how many new customers have come from your Facebook ads, you can use the following tracking methods to get a general idea of how well your Facebook ads are working:
- Tracking number – By using a phone number that is specific to your Facebook ads, you will know if someone calls your business after seeing an ad. So if you own a restaurant, you can track if people who call in to make a reservation are calling after seeing your ad on Facebook. For more information on how to set up call tracking, go here.
- Promotion code – If you are advertising a promotion in your conversion ad, you can use a unique code to track customers that come to your business after seeing your Facebook ad.
- Conversion pixel – You can set up the Facebook pixel so that you can track sales that are made on your site. This is only applicable if you have things to purchase on your website (i.e. clothing store).
Keeping track of how your ad is doing is extremely important because you need to know if your investment is paying off. If it’s not, you will need to tweak your strategy or overhaul it completely. You will also want to run multiple different types of ads so you can measure which ones are most successful. You will not be able to know what ads work best for your company if you are not tracking your results.
The Bottom Line
Advertising on Facebook is a great marketing tool for small business owners, but make sure you have your 3 step strategy in place before you begin. You will want to ease people through a sales funnel by first making them aware of your business, then proving your business as the expert, and finally making the pitch for your product.
Keep track of which ads are getting the most views and clicks, so you can stop running ads that aren’t working, and create more ads like the ones that are. By creating ads that are more engaging, you will pay less per click on your ad.
If you have any questions about advertising on Facebook, leave a comment below.