10 Facebook Advertising Tips For Small Businesses On A Tight Budget

Here are our my top 10 Facebook advertising tips for small businesses that are on a tight budget which I've shared with fellow marketing expert, Tim "Timbo" Reid, in his podcast, "The Small Business Big Marketing Show".

Advertising on social media (Facebook and Instagram) can be frustrating, particularly if you're unsure what you're doing. But what if there were 10 simple things you could do to significantly increase your ROI (Return On Investment)?

During this 65-minute interview, I share keys insights and learnings from my 12 years of experience in marketing. You can also download the full transcription here.

Below are some really quick wins that a lot of people probably don't know they can do with Facebook. I didn't know these myself previously, but I learned through trial and error, so I thought I'd share them with you so you can get started right away.

These are in no particular order, so feel free to mix it up! Here are my top 10 Facebook advertising tips for small businesses on a tight budget.

#1 Competitor Ads

You've got competitors out there. They could be in Australia in another city or even overseas. You can easily search for them either within Facebook or Google. However, Facebook has recently implemented new rules regarding advertising and content transparency due to the recent controversy surrounding Russians being involved with vote tampering for the US Election.

So how do you use this transparency for your business? If you go to the Facebook Ads Library and type your competitor's name, you can see all the ads that they're currently running. You should screenshot those ads. Start creating a library of them yourself.

Facebook advertising tips for small businesses tip #1 - Competitor Ads imageCome back in two weeks time, and if they're still running those ads, that probably means it's working for them.

You can take the ads that are working for them and you can model them - as in change them up a bit. Keep the structure but substitute your own images, your own copy and your own product.

Don't start your ads with a blank slate. Start with something that's already been proven in your industry that's working but just happens to be in another city or another country. And they're not direct competitors so to speak.

I wouldn't really count this as watching your competitors. This is more about market research. If someone was placing a Facebook ad, they'd probably go out and look for a Facebook ad template. But why get a generic template of a blog post from six months ago when you can see what's working as of last week from someone that just happens to be in another country?

#2. Lookalike Audiences

People don't understand that it's not about having the best food when it comes to your business. While that's important, what's actually more important is having a hungry crowd.

One of the most important things in your Facebook ad is who you're targeting. The easiest way to do that is to give Facebook examples of your best clients.

If you've been in business for a while, or, if you've got a Facebook page, Instagram profile or a website, you can say to Facebook: here is 200 mobile phones or email addresses of clients who have purchased or prospects who are interested already. Upload them to Facebook and you can create what's called a custom audience.

Facebook advertising tips for small businesses tip #2 - Lookalike audiencesThen you say: out of this custom audience of the people I just uploaded, find me 160,000 people in Australia who look exactly like them. And then Facebook with its algorithm will find a match. It will go through all the hundreds of different data points of all of those people, find similarities, and within about four hours, you'll have 160,000 people.

In all my testing of different audiences, lookalike audiences are always in the top one or two types of audiences.

It's a lot better than trying to rack your brain thinking about all the interests and likes your ideal customers might have. For example, if they like a certain kind of page, then that's not as good as a lookalike audience of your best customers.

And you can also create lookalike audiences if you have at least 100 Likes of your Facebook page, or if you have 100 visitors on your website because you can say to Facebook: find me people who look more like these people, and you essentially duplicate your results.

Lookalike audiences are like a shortcut. It's a case of having a number of existing customers and finding more exactly like them. It's better than any PR company or anything could ever do in that way because it's so niche.

#3. You Don't Need A Website

The third tip of our top 10 Facebook advertising tips for small businesses is you don't need a website. Some people think if you do Facebook ads it's mandatory to create a landing page or website, and then they have to create a click funnel, which leaves you feeling like you're getting lost down a rabbit hole.

Facebook Lead Form imageThere's a thing called Lead Forms on Facebook where people can fill in an opt-in form without leaving the Facebook platform.

If you imagine someone is scrolling through their news feed and they see your ad, and they think, "I'm interested in that. I'll put my details in."

They click a button, up pops a form still within their Facebook newsfeed, which pre-populates their name, email address, their mobile number if they've given it to Facebook in the past - which most people have for security reasons, then all they have to do is click the "Submit button" and you're done.

No landing page, no website is required.

Facebook then retains all that data so you can scrape that data and put it into your own content management system.

You get that information by logging back into Facebook, and if you want to automate it, you've probably heard of a program called Zapier which automates a whole bunch of different online programs. You can automate it so it goes straight into your email system.

#4. Square Videos

Everyone should be using videos where possible because they build trust more than anything else that you can possibly do (other than meeting people face to face). And square videos take up 78% more real estate than rectangle videos.

Make your videos are square if you've got an existing rectangle video. It's easily done - you just chop off the left and right parts, as long as there's no vital information there (which there usually isn't).

Facebook Advertising Tips For Small Businesses tip #4 - Square Videos imageA square video is another 50% of space below that video takes up on your mobile phone.... which is just a lot more compelling than a rectangular video. People can see your face better on a square video & they can read the text clearly.

If you want to re-purpose an existing rectangle video, you can use any video editing software. We personally use something like Filmora or Camtasia.

Filmora is the cheaper $100 version, whereas Camtasia is a few hundred dollars. And when you export the video, you choose the ratio. So instead of doing a typical ratio of 1280x720 pixels, you do 720x720 pixels.

#5. Captioning Your Videos

Captions are extremely useful as a lot of people would watch videos in silence because they're either at work, they may be on the train, or their partner is sleeping next to them and they don't want to make noise.

If you don't have captions on your videos, you're missing out on two-thirds of the people who watch a video on a mobile phone.

So, you definitely want to be adding captions to all your videos. Otherwise, it's 100% wasted money for placing a Facebook ad, Instagram ad or any type of ad that has a video without captions.

What I'm talking about is "baked in" (hard-coded) captions. YouTube will add captions for you, but they overlay a captions file over the video.

But if you go and export that video, the captions won't be baked. We want to make sure that the captions are baked in because when you start testing videos with captions on different platforms and mobile devices, it's very finicky.

As an example, when you place a Facebook or Instagram ad, you can upload a captions file. A captions file is an SRT file that you can upload, but you'll be very frustrated that it doesn't appear on every device.

So, the safest way is to just bake them in so it's in the video. And once it's in the video, you can't even extract it even if you wanted to.

There are many different ways you can do it, but it gets a little bit technical. The easiest way is to go to Fiverr and get someone to add captions on your videos. Otherwise, you're going to have to do a tricky thing with VLC Media Player.

You'd expect to pay anywhere between 10 to 20 dollars on Fiverr. There is also a transcription service called Rev that transcribes anything for a dollar per minute. The turnaround time is 24 hours or less depending on the length of the video.

#6. Building Relationships

One of the best Facebook advertising tips for small businesses on this list is to learn how to build a relationship with your audience. I feel that far too many marketers and business owners "want the sale right now". They talk about how good this special offer is, but I always say that marketing is like matchmaking.

You don't meet someone in the street and then ask her to marry you straight away. There needs to be a warm-up phase of building a relationship.

In this day and age, the way I like to build a relationship is by giving solutions to people's problems in the way of free education.

It builds trust, and because I'm educating people, I have their time and attention. So, all of these great things come with giving away education and any company can do it.

I was talking to a lady who did brow bars in Melbourne about educating someone who's looking for their services. Her prospects are probably wondering: "Is it safe? What are the dangers of it?"

So you could put out a blog post, an e-book or a video that discusses all these solutions to problems your potential customers are thinking of right now. Don't say you've got a special on right now. Talk about all of these other issues first and then progress on "the second date", so to speak.

That's when you can bring up and ask them, "How about you come in for a free consultation?"

Very rarely do we ask for a whole bunch of money upfront. It's a better experience to give value because I'm warming you up by giving you some great information first.

All the information at the free courses we run is fantastic. But if I just kick down the door and say, "Hey, I'm Cham and I've been doing marketing for so long. You want to do a marketing course??", then it falls on deaf ears.

And people want to try before they buy these days anyways.

This is the Internet concept created by Google. It's a new marketing method called "Freemium". It's like free with premium. You can get a whole bunch of stuff for free on Gmail on Spotify on Evernote.

All these applications give so much value, but a small percentage of people of their own volition will be thinking, "I'll pay for the premium version." And that's exactly how we run our business.

When it comes to people subscribing, I subscribe to give it all away. It's not that I'm trying to give everything away. It's more that every opportunity I have, I want to give as much value as I can whether or not someone sees me again or comes to our courses.

My main job is to give as much value as possible, but I know it's not like these are the only tips I've got.

#7. Test

I think a lot of people try something like spending $50 on one ad with one audience, and then think it didn't work and they just give up.

But you've got to test - at least seven days. And you get to test with at least three different audiences and at least three different types of ads.

That would be the minimum amount of testing and that testing could cost you just $100.

It's actually a lot better for small business owners out there to spend more time on the marketing, as in test for a longer period of days, as opposed to spending more money. It's the way Facebook works. It can pick and choose when ads are going to be the cheapest for you.

So my advice is to test at least three different audiences, at least three different ads over a seven day period, and for at least $100 before you think you know 100% that it isn't working for you.

It'd be like if I was a stand-up comedian and the very first joke I told no one laughed and I would think, "My jokes don't work".

I've got to test different ways to deliver them, to a few different audiences and tell a few different jokes.

The great thing about having a system that works for you is you only have to get it right once.

So think of it like you're a chef in the kitchen like Jamie Oliver, and you're cooking up different recipes. You only have to get one recipe to work and you can use it for the rest of your life.

There are many different metrics that Facebook gives you. I look at the click-through rate (that percentage of people who see the ad and are actually clicking). They give you something called relevance. It's a score from zero to ten - ten being unbelievable and then five being very average.

I'll be looking at what percentage of the video that they watched. You can only do that for videos obviously but you could see what percentage of people watched it for 25%, 50%,  or just three seconds of the video.

And you can even decide to do what we call "remarketing" or "retargeting". We'll show a different ad only to people who watched at least half of it.

There's a whole bunch of different metrics there. The main one though is the click-through rate, then how many people opted in on the landing page, and how many people decide to purchase a course after that.

#8. Emojis

A very small and quick win in our top 10 Facebook advertising tips for small businesses is to use emojis. When you place a Facebook ad, you can't increase the font size, and you can't bold and underline things.

So, you have to rely on emojis to do the formatting for you. And the reason that's important is that a whole bunch of text looks very boring to the reader.

I recommend using Emojipedia and choose emojis that are useful like the smiley face. It could also be a finger pointing down because I could say "click the link below".

Or, I could use bullet points. So I might have five reasons to respond to the ad, but I get an emoji that's the number one, two, three, four and five. You can also use love hearts, arrows and things like that which kind of break up the text.

The numbers don't lie - emojis get a 12% uplift in click-through rates.

#9. Evergreen Ads

Evergreen means it never gets old. Let's say you've got an ad and you say, "I've got a special in the month of October 2019". The problem with running an ad like that is I can't come back in three months time and just switch on that ad.

I like to have my marketing be very automated so that's why I use evergreen ads. Once I've done the setup, I want to be able to switch it on and it's all good to go.

Evergreen content imageIf you do evergreen ads, they don't have a date and they don't have a time. I'm not locked into certain things. As an example, I run ads for different cities. I don't name all of the 10 cities I'm going to because I might want to do an 11th city next year.

Why is this important? Because I get to compound my likes, comments and shares. So the same ad that I ran a year ago that had 100 likes, 20 comments and five shares, if I decide to switch it on today, it will start with 100 likes, 20 comments and five shares. And that's massive social proof and trust.

Over two years, I once had an ad that got up to roughly 1,800 likes, 500 comments and 200 shares. That's massive social proof when someone sees that. And you can only do that with Evergreen ads.

#10. Handling Client Objections

Our last tip from our top 10 Facebook advertising tips for small businesses is handling client objections. A lot of marketers and business owners get so on this track about saying how good something is that it doesn't even enter our mind about the bad things.

Think about your ad. Think if I was my ideal client reading this and I was a bit sceptical, what would I be sceptical about? What would be my objections?

My ideal client's objection would be, "What if I am not good with technology?" So, I would include that in the copy of the ad.

As an example for my marketing ads, I'll say, "Learn how to get a 500% return on every marketing dollar you spend, even if you're not tech-savvy, have a small budget or you're starting from scratch."

That's because I know those are the three biggest things stopping people of even thinking about marketing in the first place.

And, by the way, they're simply not true. You don't need massive budgets, and you don't have to be doing an I.T. degree just to place a Facebook ad.

Now often, there are a lot of people who make negative comments on ads, but advertisers are not responding to them which is pretty terrible.

Part of the checklist that I run for placing Facebook ads or any type of ads you get is to come back every couple of days at least. And if the comments are just hateful and not constructive, I'd delete them and ban the person.

And If the comments are good, I reply to them. I ask them other questions. I help them if it's constructive criticism. I'm all for that because if other people are thinking about it, like some people might message back and say, "Why is this event free? Is it just going to be a massive sales pitch?" I explain that we run our business using Freemium marketing just like Google, Spotify or Evernote.

A small tip on the side while you're replying to these comments - you might end up having a hundred people who like your Facebook ad. You should go and invite them like your Facebook page because that's just free people so to speak who will now like your Facebook page, and you don't have to pay to grow your Facebook likes.

But yes, I would respond to comments - the same thing I do to Google reviews and Facebook reviews. Fingers crossed, we won't get any bad reviews, but I go in and respond to any ones that have constructive criticisms or even the good ones just to engage people even more.

Resource Centre

Above this "10 Facebook Advertising Tips For Small Businesses On A Tight Budget" post, I've mentioned a number of programs. You can read more about them and their services (and costing where appropriate) here:

  • Zapier – The easiest way to automate your work
  • Fiverr – Find the perfect freelance services for your business
  • Rev – Fast, quality transcription service
  • Filmora – Simple video editor
  • Emojipedia – The emoji search engine

A big "Thank you" Timbo Reid for inviting me to share my insights with his audience on "The Small Business Big Marketing Show". If you're interested to listen to his other podcasts, you can listen or subscribe here.

Read more about: Marketing

Cham is the CEO and Head of Marketing at Authentic Education since co-founding it in 2009. He is passionate about productivity, empowering people, marketing and is creator of Digital Marketing Made Easy.

He has worked for Anthony Robbins, Chris Howard and Dr John Demartini from "The Secret" and has featured in BRW magazine, News.com.au and newspapers such as Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.