Q: I’m looking into different ways to promote our IT services in our area. We already have a social media presence, but we’re thinking about trying to gain more exposure through Facebook ads. How can I get started using Facebook ads, and how can I see a positive return on investment?
Facebook ads are a great way to gain visibility with your target audience—even when you have a minimum social media presence. There are more than 1.86 billion active Facebook users worldwide and more than 16 million local business pages, making it an attractive platform to grab SMBs’ attention.
To give you advice on how to effectively grab your prospects’ attention with these ads and create a positive return on investment, we consulted Sarah Duffy. Sarah is the senior marketing manager of demand generation at Intronis MSP Solutions, and she has found a successful formula for creating Facebook advertisements.
Getting started with Facebook ads
Facebook ads are an easy way to target local businesses and customize your campaigns. You can target ads based on likes, keywords, or personal connections to your target market. The Facebook ad section can look complicated, though, because there are so many options on how to define your target market. You can focus your ads on a specific location or age group, or on interests, behaviors, even people with a certain profession, or level of involvement in an organization, like a CEO, owner, or VP.
With Facebook Ads you can be very granular about what you’re looking for and how broad your audience is. For example, if you want to reach CPA firms in Connecticut, you can specify the location, the audience’s position or title, and age. Because you probably want to target people who have graduated college, anyone under 21 won’t be a good fit.
While you can customize the demographics for your Facebook ad, a quick way to get started is to import a current list of email addresses. You would be surprised to see how many people use their business email for their Facebook profile!
You can also target website visitors with targeted ads based on a page they visited on your site or a special offer that is customized to website visitors. This provides the opportunity to retarget customers who have visited your site before and advertise to them. While they may have only subscribed to your email newsletter or joined a single webinar, Facebook ads gives you an opportunity to reengage them.
Creating your ad
When you’re developing Facebook ads, think about what you’re trying to say. What kind of message will capture your audience and entice them to stop and click? What will stand out to them? Typically messages that are short and sweet—and often humorous—perform the best on Facebook. The most important thing, though, is to create a clean, crisp ad with a clear call to action that’s easy to follow through on. For example, if you want your call-to-action to be to request a consultation, be sure to create an easy-to-understand landing page that allows them to do so.
Stuck on what you want your Facebook ad to look like? Well, there are companies out there that can help. If you’re a larger MSP, there are a few tools you can use to create ads such as ReTargeter, AdRoll, which cost you a fee per click. These are good tools if you don’t have an in-house graphic designer, as they can help create and provide suggestions for an ad based on your objectives. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend these tools for smaller MSPs, though, because it can get costly pretty quickly. Instead, if possible hire a freelance graphic designer to create a couple templates that you can use in your Facebook ad campaign. They don’t need to be complicated designs, just something that helps get your point across.
Based on the ad copy and design you decide to promote, Facebook has different ad types and requirements you should be aware of. For example, do you want your ad to show up in your target’s newsfeed, their sidebar, or do you want to promote an event? Each of these options has a set of customized guidelines that can help you create the best ad experience for your target market.
One great thing about Facebook ads is that they will show you how the ad will look across different platforms—on mobile devices, in newsfeed, right column, etc.— and you can even decide to opt into doing Instagram ads as well.
The cost of an ad
As will all cost per click models, with Facebook ads you can set a dollar amount you’re looking to spend in a given time period. Facebook ads can be fairly inexpensive but before you jump into it, have a budget in mind. Typically, I would recommend a budget of 25 to 50 dollars a day when you begin and then increase or decrease your spend based on results.
Test your ad first, before you spend much money on it. You may find that it isn’t working, that your audience won’t respond to it, or that it’s attracting customers who are simply not a good fit for your MSP. Try it out and see if the right people are clicking. If not, tweak your message and try something else. Going into it, you should know a little about your audience and what speaks to them. To really find out what they like, try A/B testing to see which message gets the most clicks and conversions.
If you already have a company account on Facebook, you may have seen a button called “Boost Post.” Boosting posts works the same as traditional Facebook Ads, but it gives priority in news feeds for content you publish on your Facebook page. While you may not want to “boost” every content piece you post, try boosting content that the audience you want to reach will find relevant—such as industry news or blog posts.
My final piece of advice is to continue testing in order to see what works and optimize your Facebook ad campaigns as well as your Facebook page. If you find that an ad isn’t working, make some adjustments and retarget it. And remember to encourage customers and prospects to like your MSP’s business page. It can give you a natural boost—and it’s free!
Ask an MSP Expert is a weekly advice column answering common questions from MSPs and IT service providers. It covers topics ranging from pricing and selling to marketing and communications—and everything in between.