Facebook Ads For Small Business: A Beginner’s Guide

Facebook ads! You’ve seen them – they started off as the little boxes on the right hand side of your desktop homepage and eventually they took over your News Feed. They’re annoying, obtrusive and they don’t belong in your social network – but they’re damn effective.

Facebook ads should play an essential part of your businesses marketing plan for a few reasons:

  1. They’re cost effective. If you can successfully target your customers and create an engaging post that isn’t obtrusive, you can get extremely cheap and high converting traffic.
  2. Targeting. Facebook is a data warehouse – think about how much information you’ve put on Facebook over the years! They store all of it and allow advertisers to target their audience.
  3. Retargeting. Facebook has a feature called ‘custom audiences’ that allows you to upload a list of emails or Facebook user ids to show ads. This is extremely effective for re-marketing offers to your existing customer base.
  4. They’re different than Google Ads. When we pitch Facebook ads to clients the number one response is “we tried Google Ads, they didn’t work for us”. Facebook ads serve a different purpose than Google Ads and shouldn’t be viewed as an ‘either/or’ situation. Understanding the difference is crucial to every marketing strategy, and I will cover that in depth later in this post.

So let’s get into setting up your first campaign.

First and foremost, never run paid traffic to a website. Let me repeat that – NEVER RUN PAID TRAFFIC TO A WEBSITE (especially from Facebook!).


People have short attention spans. If you’re lucky enough to divert their attention you don’t want to send them to a website with a ton of information – they’ll get lost, forget why they came and leave.

You should always run Facebook ads to a landing page that captures their information for you to contact them at your convenience.

Now that I covered that, we can get into setting up your first ad!

Step One: The Goal

I like to start with the end goal and work backwards. Why are you running these ads (please don’t say “to make money”)! The goal of your ad should be to gather information on people who are interested in your business. If someone clicks on your ad, they’re interested. You want to know who they are and how your business can help them.  Let me give you a few examples of various businesses I’ve worked with and their end goals:

  1. Crossfit Gym –> Sell gym memberships -> Gather email addresses
  2. Real Estate Agent –> High-end home sales –> Gather phone numbers / mailing address
  3. Coupon Website –> Traffic to site –> Gather email addresses for newsletter

Once you have your end goal in mind, you can move on to the next step.

Step Two: The Offer

10 years ago people would click on anything. These days, people are a much more hesitant to click on ads, let alone give you their personal contact information. In order to get this prized information, you have to incentivize them.

Keep in mind, the more information you want, the more interested that person has to be. I know I personally NEVER give out my cell phone number unless it is a service I am really looking for. I will however, give out my email address for much less.

  1. Crossfit Gym –> Email address for free week pass
  2. Real Estate Agent –> Phone and mailing address for free set of wine glasses (to qualified buyers)
  3. Coupon Website –> Email address for exclusive coupon offers

Step Three: The Landing Page & Sales Funnel

This is an extremely important step that many advertisers overlook. Landing page optimization is a science in itself, and when you’re spending money for traffic you want to make sure you are gathering information from as many people as possible. The theory behind this is anyone who clicks on your ad (or comes to your website) has some interest in your business and you want to know who they are. Whether they’re buyers at this point isn’t overly important; once you have their information in your sales funnel you can convince them to be buyers.facebook for small business

Building a landing page is easy and there are a number of websites out there that have pre-created templates for you to choose from. Most of them offer a free month trial, and an affordable monthly subscription after that. I highly recommend you check out one of the following for your business (we’ve used both):

  • Unbounce
  • Lead Pages

Both of these companies offer you the ability to host the landing page on your domain for no extra cost. In addition, they offer the option to send opt ins to an auto responder email marketing campaign. No matter what your industry you should have an email list and you should be sending out consistent updates to your subscribers. The following companies offer low monthly fees to use their platforms:

  • Aweber
  • Mail Chimp
  • Drip

I don’t want to get into too much detail about landing pages and email marketing in this post, as I want to focus on how your business can set up Facebook ads. However, landing pages and email marketing play an integral role in the process of running any sort of paid traffic so I highly recommend you sign up for one of the providers listed above.

Step 4: Create Your Ad

Create Users/Enter Payment Info

The first step in creating an ad is setting up your advertising account. The process is extremely easy and all you need is an active Facebook account and PayPal or Credit Card. If you are creating an account for your business, make sure to input your company information since it may be needed to set up invoicing.

You can get started by visiting this URL: facebook.com/ads/manage/. In order to create an ad Facebook will prompt you to set up a funding source to pay for the ad spend. To do so click “Billing” on the left hand menu and then “Funding Source”.

Click “Add new funding source” button on the top right and input your payment information.facebook for small business

Then click “Settings” on the left menu. From here you can manage your personal/company information and VAT number for invoicing if you’re a business. You can also manage the permissions on the account if you want multiple people to have access to the campaigns.facebookfor small businessNow that you have your payment information in place, we can create your first ad!

Create Ad

You will use the same URL (facebook.com/ads/manage/) as before to create all of your ads (Note: you can also access the ad platform by clicking in the upper right hand corner of your homepage).

The first thing you’ll notice when you get into the platform are the 8 different ad campaign types. For the purpose of this beginner article, I am only going to focus on the “Clicks to Website” ad campaign.

Select that option and enter the URL of the landing page you created. Then click “Continue”.facebook for small businessYou will then enter the ad campaign platform. On this screen you will enter everything you need to create your ad.

Select an Image

The first part is selecting an image for your campaign. Facebook allows you to upload up to 6 images for your ad. If you choose to upload more than 1, Facebook will automatically create 6 different ads and split test to see which image gets the highest click-through rate. If you’re a beginner, I recommend you take advantage of this feature and upload 6 different images to get a good feel for what your audience responds to.   facebook for small business

Choose Ad Type

Your next step is to select the ad type for your campaign. If you don’t have a Facebook fan page set up for your business, than you will only be able to run a “Right Column” ad (the small ads that appear on the right hand side of your home feed).

If you have a Facebook fan page you can run “News Feed Ads” – these are the ads that appear in your audiences home feed. I personally only use News Feed ads because they appear larger and more noticeable that Right Column ads. However, depending on your business and niche Right Column ads can be extremely effective. I suggest you run both Right Column and News Feed ads to see which works best for your business.  facebook for small businessWriting Your Ad

Copywriting is a science in itself and I highly recommend you do your research on how to craft good ad copy. However, the only way to truly master the craft is practice. Here are a few simple pointers to get you started:

Headline: You’re given only 25 characters to create a headline that will grab your audience’s attention. I generally use a question that addresses a general pain point for my target audience or I sneak in the offer (discussed above):

  • Want More Traffic?
  • Out of Shape?
  • Struggling To Find Good Leads?
  • Attention Lawyers!
  • Claim Your FREE Wine Set

Text: This is what shows up under your headline (you’re given 90 characters). Here you are given a short platform to convince your audience to click. You’re going to want to make sure you communicate your offer (your incentive to click) and most importantly to make sure you have a clear call-to-action (CTA), such as:

  • Get It Now
  • Click Now
  • Click Here
  • Claim Now

Believe it or not, countless studies show that ads with no CTA have a much lower click-through-rate (CTR) than ads that do. Your ad needs to be direct and tell your audience exactly what it is you want them to do.


Facebook has been collecting data from people for the past 10 years – as an advertiser you can use this data to target people’s interests. Targeting is an extremely important part of your ad and this is where most beginners struggle. Try not to get overwhelmed with the amount of information they provide and keep your target consumer in mind at all times.facebook for small businessDemographics and location

Location: Target your audience by country, state/province, city and zip code.

Demographics: Target your audience by age and gender.


Interest targeting allows you to target your ideal audience based on their interests that they have shared on their Facebook timelines. Some of these include hobbies, movies, music, education, job titles, pages they ‘like’ and groups they belong to.


Category targeting allows you to more easily reach your intended audience. Your ad will be shown to people who have included information in their Facebook Timelines and liked Pages that are relevant to that category.


  • You can use connections targeting to show your ad only to people who have a connection with you, such as people who have liked your Page.
  • You can use connections targeting for any Page, group, event or app you’re the admin of, even if it’s not what you’re advertising.
  • Click on advanced connection targeting under Connections in the targeting section and type the name of your Facebook Page, group, event or app.

Advanced Targeting

If you’re a beginner I don’t want you to worry about advanced targeting options, but for the purpose of this post I do want to cover them quickly. Advanced targeting tools have the capabilities to help you reach people that are connected to you outside Facebook and who are similar to your best customers.

  • Custom audiences: Securely upload a contact list of people you’d like to reach and target your Facebook Ads to these customers.
  • Lookalike audiences: Find people who are similar to your best customers.
  • Facebook Exchange: Reach people on Facebook who have expressed an interest in your business based on specific actions they’ve taken online, such as visiting your website.

Again, don’t get overwhelmed with targeting. Simply put yourself in the mind of your ideal customer: what they like, their age, location, etc. and you can create an effective target audience.

Setting Your Budget and Bid Type

The last part of your ad set up is creating a budget for the campaign, duration and how you will bid on the ads.

Whether you’re a beginner or expert, I always set the budget at $10 a day. You need at least $10 to get enough data to make a decision if the ad is effective or not. You can also set a start and end date – unless you’re running an ad for an offer with an expiration date, I like to let my ads run indefinitely. facebook for small businessFinally, the bid type. There are 2 options for you to choose from:

  1. CPC – cost per click.
  2. CPM – cost per thousand impressions.

Both of these options allow you to bid manually or let Facebook optimize for you. As a beginner, I suggest you select CPC and let Facebook automatically bid for you. If you have a good ad that is getting a lot of clicks, this section is somewhat irrelevant.facebook for small businessStep 5: Monitor & Optimize

Your Facebook ads are going to require a lot of love and attention at first. If you’re a small business on a budget, you don’t want to waste any money on ads that don’t drive sales. In order to make sure you are seeing a return from your ad spend, you have to keep an eye on what is working and what isn’t. The best way to do this is split testing.

Split testing is the process of running multiple ads that are all the same except for 1 tweak to each. The ad that performs the best out of the bunch is the winner and that ad should then be split tested for another factor. The following is how I like to split test my ads:

  1. Image: I create 3 identical ads with 3 different pictures.
  2. Copy: I take the ad with the highest CTR from before and tweak the headline and text.
  3. Targeting: I take the winner from before and change the demographic.
  4. Bidding: I take the best demographic and split test CPM vs CPC.
  5. Landing Page: Once I have the best performing ad, I split test 3 landing pages to maximize opt ins.

This process generally takes a week and I recommend you spend at least $10 for each split test. You have to make sure you are pushing enough traffic to really get a feel for what works.

Although this process is time consuming, once you have a few ads that work you can set them on auto pilot. Facebook ads will play an integral role in your lead generation process and with the right care and attention can pay massive dividends for your business.

You can find Ryan on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Instagram as well.

Increase Website Traffic With Google Authorship

Imagine you own a crossfit gym and you’re looking for some marketing pointers. You head to Google and type “crossfit marketing” into the search queue and the following results come up – which one are you more likely to click? t1The first one – studies have shown that by having this rich snippet image next to your blog can increase clicks to your website up to 150%!

You don’t need to be a technical guru to get your photo to show up – all you need is a Google+ profile and an email address with the domain you’re blogging on.

If you don’t have a profile in Google+, stop what you’re doing right now and create one! If you need help, check out my guide How To Get Started with Google+.

Step One: Add Your Domain Email to Google+

The first thing you have to do is verify your website domain email address with Google so they know that you’re account is legit – to do so, head to your profile’s ‘About’ tab and scroll to the ‘Contact Information’. Then click ‘Edit’. t2Make sure you’re using an email address with the same domain as your blog. According to Google, as long as you’re posting on that domain, and the posts have the same byline as the name on your Google+ account, this is enough to make the connection.

Step Two: Link from Your Google+ Content To Your Domain

Head to the bottom of your ‘About’ page to the ‘Links’ section and click ‘Edit’. Here you’ll see a section called ‘Contributor To’:

  • If you have a bio page on your blog, link to this bio.
  • If you don’t have a bio page, link directly to the post itself.t3

Google claims that when done correctly your image should show in search results within 5-7 days. However, for some of our clients this wasn’t enough. If this doesn’t work you’re going to have to go on to step 3…

Step Three: Link Your Content to Your Google+ Page

From the byline or author box at the bottom of your post, link to your Google+ profile, adding “rel=author” in the link.

  • If you have a bio page on your site, link to the bio with “rel=me” in the link.
  • If you don’t have a bio page on your site (or if you’re having trouble getting authorship to work), link directly to your Google+ profile with “rel=author” in the link. See the sample code below.

If your site is built using WordPress, there are a couple of plugins you can use to make your life easier:

  • Rich Snippets
  • Author Box Reloaded

Step Four: Verify With Google

The final step is to verify with Google using their Structured Data Testing Tool.

When you follow the steps above, simple paste the link from the article (or your website URL) into the allotted area. If you followed the steps correctly, it should appear like this:

Google+ AuthorshipIf the steps were not followed correctly, then the areas with green text will show up red. I get a lot of follow up questions and emails from this article in regards to how long it takes for your picture to actually show up. I like to think I have an answer to everything, but for this one in particular all I can say is it depends. Google doesn’t give a lot of guidance about your picture showing in search results, but only as to how to set yourself up as an author. From everything I have seen Google is making is increasingly more difficult for your picture to show up. All I can say is follow the steps provided and make sure you are providing good wuality content on a consistent basis – after that, just be patient. There are billions of websites on the web, sometimes these things can take significant time to work.

Aside from that, the setup process is easy and only takes about 20 minutes. I urge you to take advantage of this while you can!

You can find Ryan on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Instagram as well.

Increasing Your Real Estate Leads

A real estate business isn’t going to thrive in an uncertain housing market without leads. Unfortunately,  reliable real estate leads, are like mystical creatures. You hear about them, but you have yet to see if they really exist. There are a lot of theories out there as to what increases leads or helps you get leads at all. While some are effective, the majority are time wasters and can dampen your resources.

It doesn’t matter if you are a real estate broker, agent or property manager — you need to connect with ideal prospects to keep your business thriving.

Establish Your Site as a Valuable One

There are a lot of real estate sites out there that don’t focus on quality. Their content is poor, their blogs thin, and they repeat information that homeowners and buyers already know. Devote some time out of each day to craft high-quality posts and web content pieces. Taking your time goes a long way — your readers will notice the difference.

Remember That Leads Are Buyers

You are working to attract buyers, not just an endless list of leads. Make sure you have a campaign that attracts reliable, interested parties and not just a large list of people not interested in buying or selling. It is too easy to spend time and money creating a list of people that want free stuff — and these aren’t the leads that help your business grow.


Connect With Other Industry Professionals

As a real estate agent, you have connections to other related professionals — home inspectors, lenders, appraisers, etc. Network with these groups of professionals and do some cross-marketing. You can advertise for them, they advertise for you. Also, discuss creating a lead referral system. For example, a lender receives a lead about a potential homebuyer, but the home buyer doesn’t have an agent. He refers that lead you and you have not only a personal referral, but an interested party.

Upgrade Your Site’s SEO

SEO or search engine optimization, is an untapped gem for gaining more real estate leads. When people cannot find your website, they can’t learn about what you have to offer. Revamping your website and blog’s SEO can increase your organic traffic and give you a higher potential for hot leads. The rules regarding SEO have changed a lot over the past few years. Therefore, it is best to hire an expert to fix any SEO issues you might have and help develop a new optimization strategy based on the rules for today’s search engine.

There are plenty of ways to increase real estate leads. While you might be tempted to buy leads outright, this isn’t a reliable method for keeping your business afloat. You lose money during the purchase and if you buy leads from a company that shares their lists, your competition could have already gotten to those leads days before you even bought them. Your best and most profitable way to increase leads is by taking the simple, yet practical steps to help potential customers find you.