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

6 min read
Dean Levitt

There comes a time when paid digital marketing channels start to look attractive, and Google AdWords vs. Facebook Ads becomes a relevant discussion. For some businesses, this occurs immediately after going online. Other companies turn to online ads once they’re already up and running.

The thing is, the most important considerations are not when, but what and who.

When do you adjust your budget to accommodate Facebook ads or Google AdWords? What are you trying to accomplish? Who is your customer? When you’ve taken stock of these questions, you’ll know whether you ought to be using AdWords, Facebook, or both, to find new customers.

When are Facebook Ads the perfect choice?

If you’re a brand new local business that just opened up shop on Main Street, your No. 1 priority is getting your name out there. Facebook ads are a great option to reach a lot of potential local customers and let them know you’re new in town.

Running an awareness campaign on Facebook can be a cost-effective way to build up name recognition.

This campaign works best for brick-and-mortar stores where you can share high-quality images of your products, your menu items or your storefront. You’re hoping to let people know you’re out there and that they’ll pop into your store on a whim. Awareness campaigns are not great for professional services or trades. People don’t hire attorneys because they saw a sponsored post last week on Facebook.

If your product is very visually compelling (I love following bakeries), Facebook ads can be a great option.

You can also reach visual searchers on Instagram through Facebook ads.

Consider this: If you sell kitchenware, for example, you can target local restaurants and people who like Food and cooking. But you’re never sure they’re actually in the market for new tools right now. In fact, Facebook ads are what I call “interruptive.” You’re showing your ads on potential customers’ news feeds, hoping to get their attention while they’re doing something else, not actively looking for a solution.

Consider a moving company that wants potential customers to get a quote. Sure, they could advertise on Facebook to everyone in the area, but that’s quite broad and probably too optimistic. AdWords is the best solution for this scenario.

Facebook ads login

When Google AdWords is better than Facebook Ads

While Facebook ads are interruptive, Google AdWords’ Search Network is more needs based. In other words, you’re not trying to interrupt a customer. Rather, you’re making sure you’re there when they’re looking to solve a need. Facebook is all about what people like in general. The Google AdWords Search Network is all about what keywords your customer is typing into the search engine right now.

Consider our moving company again. AdWords allows them to rank at the top of the search results when someone searches for a moving company from Abu Dhabi to Dubai.

Sounds great, but the downside is that competition can drive advertising costs up. Keyword-centric campaigns are also quite challenging to get right. The upside is that you’re there at the perfect moment to offer a solution.

So please don’t run Google AdWords campaigns to generate awareness of your business.

Instead, run AdWords campaigns that highlight your products and services. When a Google searcher types in “movers in Dubai” you know they need a mover. AdWords allows you to be the first result they see in the search results.

Does it always have to be Google AdWords vs. Facebook Ads?

Google AdWords and Facebook Ads can be complementary marketing solutions. You’ll need to understand their differences and how to use their unique characteristics to your advantage.

A trick I often recommend is using Google AdWords to target customers who need the particular services you offer — and don’t know where to find them. For example, if you’re an Indian Restaurant, you can reach people who are actively looking for chicken curry nearby.

On the other hand, Facebook Ads are effective in reaching your community when they’re not thinking about you. You could run campaigns within two miles of your restaurant, advertising lunch specials or happy hour. Now you’re reaching people who’re hungry but aren’t necessarily thinking about Indian food.

With Google AdWords, you’re there when someone has a need you can meet. With Facebook Ads, you can woo new customers who don’t know they need you yet.

Remarketing with both Google AdWords and Facebook Ads

Remarketing or retargeting is an advertising technique that allows you to advertise to people who have already visited your website.

So here’s a fun idea. Install the Facebook Pixel on your website. Then, if you drive clicks to your site with Google AdWords but those clicks don’t turn into customers, you can try and sway them when they log into Facebook later. That’s pretty cool!

Another remarketing trick is to upload your past customers’ emails into Facebook, and offer something special to previous customers directly. Remarketing complements your email marketing efforts and is excellent at getting potential customers off the fence.

Facebook ads analysis report

When neither Facebook Ads or Google AdWords are right for your business

Digital pay-per-click campaigns are not right for everyone. I’ve found that professional service businesses like accountants, lawyers, software developers, etc. can have a hard time running cost-effective campaigns.

If the vast majority of your new customers come from client referrals, then other strategies like content marketing, email marketing and referral incentive programs tend to get better results. You could run a small test campaign, and I’d recommend AdWords as being the place to test it. AdWords campaigns on a low budget are possible.

Is advertising online worth it?

Here’s the ultimate question when it comes to paid advertising on Google AdWords or with Facebook Ads: is it worth it?

The answer is yes, but only if you’re going to do it right.

Half-measures here can waste a ton of your budget, so if you’re thinking about paying for new customers, take some time to do figure out your customer value:

  • Are you customers repeat customers?
  • Do they refer new business?
  • How much is a new customer worth to you?
  • How much would you pay for that customer?

You should know this before you spend on ads. Then, armed with this information, you can decide on your budget, and you’ll know soon enough if your ad campaigns are worth it. Then please take some time to run a good, solid campaign or find a pro who can help you.

Google AdWords and Facebook Ads work

Both ad networks are solid. You can indeed find new customers with either Google AdWords, Facebook Ads — or both. When it comes to generating new business, I always recommend starting small, testing the waters with low stakes and then ramping up the budgets as you learn what works. Good luck out there!

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