How to rock Facebook advertising — even on a tight budget

Amp it up

Some of the best advertising advice is simple: Go where your customers are. When you look at the numbers, your customers are probably on Facebook. There are well over 2 billion people on the social media platform, and about 1 billion of them are active every day. Those are big numbers, but often a big audience means significant costs for small businesses. Don’t worry too much. You can indeed rock Facebook advertising on a budget, as long as you take a little bit of time to set things up right.

Related: Google AdWords vs. Facebook Ads — Which is right for your business?

Should you boost your posts?

There are two ways to handle Facebook advertising. There’s the “Boost,” and then there is running a real campaign. Let’s start by looking at boosting a post.

Whenever you create a post on your Facebook business page, you’ll see an option to Boost it. You’ll get a decent amount of control over who sees it and the cost can be as low as $1 per day. That’s great for getting more out of your ad spend, but there are some things to beware.

Boosting posts is a great way to reach your fans and followers.

 

Since Facebook de-prioritizes the amount of business activity in the Facebook Feed, your posts are not reaching your entire audience organically (free). So, if you’re creating posts and you want people who already like you to see it, then boosting posts is a cheap way ensure they see it.

However, if you’re looking to grow your business and attract new clients, then boosting posts is less effective than a real campaign. At best, boosting posts to a broader audience can build awareness, but that doesn’t always translate into sales.

Related: What’s the difference between Amazon ads and paid ads on Google and Facebook?

How much does Facebook advertising cost?

Are you braced for an eye-roll-inducing answer? Then the official answer according to every marketing guru out there is: It depends.

Yuck, I hate those kinds of answers. So let me try again.

Facebook Advertising CurrencyFacebook advertising costs as much as you want it to. OK, that’s a little bit better, but why no hard numbers? Well, the barrier to entry is low, but the budget can impact your results so the answers you’re likely to find will always encourage you to spend more. The more you spend, the more people see your posts. So I’ll lay down some hard markers here, and you can take it all with a grain of salt.

You can spend less than $100 per month on Facebook advertising and get back more than you paid. There are, of course, still caveats aplenty. As a business owner, you need to always factor in your margins and track the results to make sure you’re benefiting positively from your ads.

You can test the Facebook advertising waters with even $10 or $20 if you’d like.

If you use a marketing professional — often a safer way to get great results — be prepared to spend about $1,000 or more per month in many cases. So if you’re looking to keep costs very low, explore the DIY option (which we’ll discuss soon).

What’s the primary way to keep your Facebook advertising spend low?

Calculate a budget that suits you and stick to it!

 

Rather than increasing spend if things don’t work out, make improvements to get better results.

Running a well crafted Facebook advertising campaign

The best way to keep costs low, no matter what your budget is, is to run a Facebook advertising campaign that makes sense. This can be harder than it appears until you know what Facebook’s options all mean. Let’s go step by step of crafting our own Facebook advertising campaign.

1. Choose your objective

Objectives are broken down into three groups:

  • Awareness is great if you’re new in the area and no one knows you exist.
  • Consideration, is excellent if you want more leads for a service-oriented business or you want to build up the likes on your Facebook Page.
  • Conversions is the best objective for driving sales.

Choose the objective that suits your goals best. In my personal opinion, Consideration or Conversions are the most tangible objectives from a business sense, so I usually choose from those categories. If you choose awareness but are looking for sales and leads, you’ll be disappointed and will likely waste your budget. So, to make sure you can succeed with a low budget, choose the right objective.

2. Choose your audience

Audience selection is critical. Targeting is super important with Facebook advertising. This is where I see most people fail when it comes to a well-run campaign.

Choosing the wrong audience is like telling people in New York about your coffee shop in Nashville. It’s nice that they know about you, but they won’t be showing up for a latte anytime soon.

There are a few audience types, but we’ll start first with the broader option. In Facebook, you can create a “Saved Audience.” It looks like this:

Facebook Advertising Saved Audience

You probably know your customer inside out, but that in-depth insider knowledge can cause mistakes at this point. My advice? Keep it simple. Let’s go over the criteria listed above.

For now, skip the Custom Audiences option. We’ll discuss that later.

When it comes to location, keep things tight. Sure, people in the town over might conceivably drive to your store, but to keep your costs low with good results, keep the location targeting close to where your customers are — not where they might be. Do most of your customers drive from far away? If not, don’t advertise far away.

There are exceptions if you specialize in something not widely available in your general area. But since we’re focused on low budgets, keep your Facebook advertising spend close to home. You want to attract people who can quickly get to you or access your services.

Age and gender are also useful when it comes to low-budget success.

 

If a significant majority of your customers are 25-year-old women, then stick to that audience. With a small budget, you want to target the likeliest candidates, not the broadest audience.

Detailed Targeting is the tricky bit. This is where most people get carried away and waste their budget. Facebook writes, “INCLUDE/EXCLUDE people who match at least ONE of the following.” See, the clue is “at least one.” That means if you pile on the hyper-specific targeting options here you actually run a risk of moving away from your core customer profile. Keep this simple!

For example, if you’re using Facebook advertising for your art gallery and targeting art enthusiasts, you might select art as an interest. Because you know that people who like art, also love skiing, you add skiing to the targeting. Now, your ad is displaying to people who ski but don’t care about art. So, rather stick to just art-lovers.

The same thing applies to Exclude. Keep it high level.

Related: Advanced restaurant marketing using Facebook advertising

Other audience targeting

We’re trying to maximize your returns on this low-budget Facebook advertising campaign so it might be worthwhile looking at Custom Audiences. You can upload your email list and market directly to existing customers. That way you know that the audience loves you already.

This is a fantastic, cost-effective option that is guaranteed to target people interested in you. It can get you sales although it doesn’t find you any new customers.

That’s where Lookalike Audiences come in. You can use Lookalikes to find new customers based on your existing customers. This allows you to teach Facebook who your customers are and help them find similar customers. This can get complicated, so please read up on some tricks and ideas first!

Testing the ad campaign waters

A cool thing about Facebook advertising is that it’s an amazing way to test your strategies. You can run a quick test on a super low budget first. This allows you to test your ads, check that your targeting is correct, and make sure that you get results before you dedicate more money to it. You should also check to see if your ad relevance score is good (above 6).

I recommend doing this for each new campaign. Test it out with a small percentage of your monthly budget first. Fix any mistakes, tighten up your targeting, and let ‘er rip with the rest of your budget!

Please create two, three or even four ads to test in every campaign. The reality is that you never know what will resonate with customers so go a little wild! This is especially useful when using Facebook’s split testing option. This lets you, and Facebook, test out which ads get the best results with a percentage of your budget and then use the rest of the budget on the best performing ads.

Success is possible on a low budget

You don’t need deep pockets to run successful Facebook advertising campaigns. You do need a little bit of patience — at least at the beginning — and to take some time to learn the ropes. Once you get the hang of it, it takes only minutes to kick off new campaigns. Learn your audience, test your ads, and your budget will never be a barrier to victory again!

Image by: Alex Brisbey on Unsplash

Dean Levitt
Raised on a farm in South Africa, Dean moved to the United States to pursue a career in music, eventually finding his way to both Hawaii and the tech world. While growing his previous company, Mad Mimi (acquired by GoDaddy in 2014), Dean realized he had a passion for helping small businesses grow online. Dean is the CEO of Yala. Yala combines social media video ads with intelligent scheduling software making design and posting simple for small businesses.