Over the past month we have been fortunate enough to get to talk to numerous small businesses about their experiences running digital ads. Through these conversations we have heard some awesome stories and learned a ton about how small businesses use paid ads. We have also heard many questions about the intricacies of the ad process.
In this post, Ripl’s own Theo Walker, Program Manager and head of customer research, and Joe Zimmer, Director of Customer Acquisition & Growth, will outline some of the concerns small businesses have with ads and share some answers to our most frequently asked questions.
First up, let's get some insights from Theo.
What are some of the biggest concerns small businesses have with spending money on paid digital advertising?
Small business owners and operators have a lot on their plate when it comes to running a strong, profitable business. It can be difficult placing hard-earned money in the hands of Facebook (or other channels) with a chance that you may never see little to no return on investment.
What are some of the biggest challenges small businesses have in running paid digital advertising?
Small business owners/operators are typically not marketing experts and may not have the experience of a trained marketing professional. This can lead to general insecurity about how strong their advertisements might be.
Here are some of the more common concerns.
Will my advertisement get rejected?
Getting rejected on a channel like Facebook can be frustrating, but with a little bit of reading and help from products like Ripl, you can start creating ads with confidence
Am I advertising to the right audience?
Choosing your audience is all about understanding your customer. Keep an eye out for the types of people buying your products or services and go after those potential customers. Furthermore, begin to identify who you think would be interested but has not had the exposure to your business yet. Sometimes it’s better to not capture everyone at once!
Am I spending enough money? Am I spending too much money?
Budget is incredibly situational and it is difficult for anyone to tell you how much you should be spending. Any time you can increase reach in a calculated way, the more likely you are to grow your business.
Is it worth it?
Digital advertising is a great way to grow your business and can be valuable to all types of businesses. The best way to identify if your advertising spend is worth it is to choose 1 or 2 metrics that you want to measure and watch how they do. It is important to choose metrics that are directly correlated to the ads you are spending money on.
For example: If you are trying to sell more products online, track the number of page visitors are generated from your ad
If you are trying to increase brand awareness, track the number of impressions, views, or comments your ad gets.
How many small businesses are currently spending money on paid digital advertising?
According to Ripl’s digital advertising study that included 500+ small businesses, about 50% of small businesses are spending money on paid digital advertising. Of those, a strong majority of them intend to keep spending the same amount on digital advertising or more.
What are some trends we are seeing in small business paid advertising behavior?
Small businesses are increasingly acknowledging the value of paid advertising on social media channels. A majority of them intend to continue spending their current spend amounts if not increase it over the next 12 months. Furthermore, small businesses are valuing quality and effective content more than ever, creating a high expectation for advertising quality
For which industries have paid advertisements been particularly effective?
Paid advertising is a great tool for any business looking to grow, however we have seen successes in real estate, e-commerce, and retail businesses looking for additional foot traffic.
Now, let's hear from Joe.
What are some ways to decrease the amount of time it takes to create, run, and manage digital advertisements?
This is a great question and something that many small businesses and even experienced digital marketing experts struggle with. One of the ways you can make it easier on yourself is by breaking the process into smaller pieces:
Start with your goals: do you want to get more purchases? Drive people to your website? Increase brand awareness? Once you know what you want to accomplish, it becomes easier to choose campaign objectives and fill out many of the fields Facebook needs to run an ad.
Second, focus on your customer: who comes into your store? Who follows you on social media? What types of people do you hear from the most? By understanding the group of people that are most likely to engage with your product building your audience becomes much simpler.
What do I do if I don’t feel comfortable understanding advertisement performance data?
The Facebook console can be quite overwhelming and there are tons of data points, some easy to understand and some not. When starting, it is really great to see your baseline as you start running ads and then track how it improves over time. When it comes to choosing which metrics to track the best thing to do is keep simple at first and choose metrics you understand.
Here are a few I would pay attention to:
Spend: This is obvious but it is really important to keep an eye on your spend to ensure that you are not blowing your budget in one day.
Impressions: This is how many times your ad is seen. It is good to keep this metric on your radar as it helps you know how much awareness your ads are generating. Keep in mind that someone could see your ads multiple times—so if you want to see the number of individuals who have seen your ads you can look at Reach (a different but complementary metric).
CPM (cost per thousand impressions): This will tell you how much it costs for your ad to run 1000 times. Here are a few benchmarks. This metric is especially important if you are focussed on brand awareness as it will tell you the cost of getting your ad in front of people.
CPC (cost per click): This is maybe the most well known digital marketing metric. Essentially, this tells you how much it costs to get someone to actively engage with your post. CPC is extremely important when you are running ads that drive someone to your website to make a purchase or take an action.
How do I know if my paid digital advertisements are helping me grow my business?
This is something that every small business wants to know, as it is often the goal of running ads. Unfortunately, the answer really depends on the business and the objective.
For an online retail business, tracking ad performance is fairly easy as you can see whether or not your online orders increased as you started to run ads. For someone running a restaurant and looking to get more in-person dining, they might need to pay attention to total sales and see if they have increased their foot traffic.
How much money should a small business spend on digital advertising?
Like the last question, this is really dependent on your business and the goal of your marketing on Facebook.
A way to get started is by setting aside between $200 and $500 for a test (I know this is a lot of money but this should give your business the best chance at success). Start by spending 50% of this on your first campaign and see what types of results this drives. If you like what you see, then you can keep it going with the rest of your budget. If you are not getting those results, then use the rest of the money you set aside to launch another campaign with new creative and/or targeting to try and get better results.
What impact does video content have on paid digital advertising effectiveness?
Video is an essential part of running ads on Facebook. At Ripl, we have seen videos out-perform static and carousel ads time and time again. In fact, in a recent campaign we saw our own video ads perform 50% better CPC than our static images. To easily create a video ad, check out these posts (ads collection).