Google v. Facebook - Choosing the Right Ad Program For Your Business

Sometimes, it’s all about leads. Whether you’re working for a small business or a non-profit, the challenges of lead generation with a limited budget (and often limited views on advertising) can be intimidating. As a professional digital marketer with more than 20 years of ad buying experience, let me give you my take on where and how to make your online ad buy decisions.

While my field is often viewed as a "creative" one, it's just as much a balance of calculations as it is creations. Before we pick up a marker or open a Photoshop file, we start with some basic math to ensure that the goals we are setting are reasonable for our clients. We look at the hard numbers for your business, your website traffic and the potential reach to your audience via the platforms you are considering.

The Business
Let’s set up an example case so you can see how we run our numbers. Our sample small business targets seniors and runs no advertising programs. They spend less than $1,000/month on SEO programs. They do all their marketing in-house with a competent but busy staff. They currently receive about 7 leads per week from their site that they work to convert.

The Website
The company’s website is professionally designed and meets all the basic criteria for a good program: responsive design, updated regularly and complete with a professional presentation of information about their business, and they do run an SEO program to build traffic.

The site’s visitors for the last quarter were just under 2,000. Average visits per week: 155

The company’s goal: Increase leads from 7/week to 20/week (roughly 3x their current number)

In order to meet this goal we need to triple their website visitors to 465/week. But in reality, we probably need a bit more than that, as some of their current numbers come from referrals, and advertising will not affect that number. For the sake of simplicity let's say they need 500 visitors/week to meet their lead goals. That’s an additional 345 visitors per week.

Adwords Campaigns
Adwords is built on a bid-to-click program where you compete by bid for the keywords you want to show up for. Their ad will show as many times as needed to the geographically targeted group who search for their keyword phrase. They will pay for every click to their site until their budget is used up. Our example company is in competition with both their direct competitors for these keywords, as well as peripheral companies who seek other types of products targeted at the same market. We take an initial look at Google’s keyword bidding tool to determine a budget in this screenshot:

Based on initial research, Adwords will cost an average of $6.73/click.
In the example above, their ad would be shown to the approximate 22,000 people in the geographic area searching under the relevant keywords, next to the ads of their competitors at the top of the Search page. 
To gain the additional 345 visitors they need to meet their website traffic and lead goals using Adwords alone, they will need to spend roughly $2,321 per month on an Adwords campaign. 
This number may seem high, but is actually quite average. Pricing for other search engines is about the same, however Adwords is the more effective option for SEM (Search Engine Marketing) campaigns.
Facebook Options
Adwords is available to users who are in SEARCH mode, but what about those who are on websites looking for information about your keyword topics? From blogs to news stories, websites are filled with ad space that is highly accessible and affordable as well as reaching a targeted user (b/c we know WHO they are as well as WHAT they are interested in). The most popular of these options is through Facebook and the Facebook Audience network. 
Using the Facebook and their Audience Network, our sample company can reach an average of 68,000 people per month (more than Adwords) at a cost of $12/day. Assuming the same1% conversion that Google Adwords provides, this would send 682 visitors to your site $360/month. 


Like Adwords, this audience is qualified by geography that is specified (in the example above, a 50 mile radius of the company’s office) but ADDITIONALLY is targeted by demographics, interests and can also be matched by behaviors. 
So How Do I Budget For a Program?
While Adwords is certainly the most expensive option, it should not be dismissed. If your site does not rank high for important keywords and your SEO methods are not improving your ranking, then select use of Adwords is the best way to ensure you have search presence where it is needed. As professionals, we usually recommend an approach that includes some components of keywords as a premium item coupled with other, more affordable, advertising options.
When it comes to advertising on Facebook and their Audience network, keep in mind that there is an additional cost to the daily budget. You should also budget for the time or outsourced skills for:
  • Creative development: Advertising in this medium is visually competitive and you will need dynamic ads to get clicks and results.
  • Testing: Most ad programs require several rounds of testing before you find what really “works” with your target audience. Plan to spend some budget on testing to figure that out.
  • Facebook page maintenance:  Advertising on the network will invariably bring traffic to your page. Your page should be set up and running smoothly and professionally, as well as have regular updates so that visitors know you are still an active business
There is no single program that will answer all your questions for lead generation, but by creating a plan that encompasses the key elements you need to reach your audience, you’ll find those leads.