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Google logo and the Facebook logo

Which works better, Google Ads, or Facebook Ads?

‘Which works better, Google ads or Facebook ads? This is a question we get all the time. Sometimes it’s ‘Should I use Google or Facebook’, but essentially it’s the same question.  And with ad budgets becoming tighter, competition increasing and ad costs going up, being efficient with your ad spend is more important than ever.  

 

The fact is, both of them are hugely effective. Both Google and Facebook ads have, and continue to, generate incredible results for businesses of all shapes and sizes in virtually every market niche. That’s why both of them make literally billions of dollars in ad revenue. It’s not that one is better or worse, its more than they’re each more effective at different stages of the decision making process, or as we marketers like to say, different stages of the sales funnel.  

That being the case, a better question than ‘which is best’ might be ‘How should I use Facebook and Google ads?’ Or ‘Which is most appropriate for me?’ 

 

Grab a coffee (I’ll have a matcha oat latte fanx) and lets break it down.  

 

BIG FAT HAIRY DISCLAIMER: 

Right.  Before I start let me cover my butt, lest the gurus come at me, and say that both Google and Facebook can and do work at all three stages of the funnel. It’s just that they both have a sweet spot where they do their best work and where you, as an advertiser, are likely to get the best outcomes. As with everything in marketing, when you’re using them yourself the key to success is to test, measure, fail, test again, fail some more, make it better and finally crack the code.  

 

 

Because Google ads and Facebook Ads are more, or less, effective depending on the stage of the Funnel, we’ll look at each stage in detail.  

 

The Top of the Sales Funnel

 

Facebook ads and Google ads at the top of the sales funnel

 

Lets start at the top. Why? Because the top of the funnel is where all good advertising starts. It’s the widest part of the funnel, capturing the broadest and least qualified audience so we’re really not trying to sell to people just yet. The people you’re speaking with at this stage of your funnel know they have a problem. They may not even know what the problem is yet, but they’re aware of the symptoms.

If you’re a physio, they know they’re in pain and they can’t play their favourite sport, or sleep well, or kick a ball with the grandkids. As a marketing guy, my people know they’re not making enough sales or enough money. If you install solar panels, your ideal client knows they’re paying too much for power, they’re terrified of opening the electricity bill and their weekly pay just doesn’t go as far as it used to.  

Facebook is really effective at this stage of the funnel. It’s an interruptive ad medium which means we’re pushing the ads into the newsfeed of someone who is doing something else (scrolling their feed) and interrupting them. Before you get all antsy and start hating on Facebook ads, think about other forms of interruptive ads. TV. Radio. Newspaper and magazine. Direct mail. Interruptive is the primary source of advertising and it’s the medium that keeps free to air TV free, YouTube free, and Facebook free. So lets show it some love.  

Because of the interruptive nature of the ads, they’re really effective for branding, awareness and authority building, all activities successful marketers do at the top of their funnel. Examples are ads that drive traffic to …

  • your website to read an educational blog you’ve written
  • a podcast episode you’ve published.
  • a status update
  • an article where you’ve been quoted
  • a case study you’ve developed

 

Facebook works well here because you can use more visual storytelling, longer copy and really grab the attention of people when they are in a more relaxed and open frame of mind. The main things to remember are that… 

 

  • You want people to consume the specific piece of content 
  • That piece of content needs to demonstrate there is a solution to the problem your ideal client is facing 
  • You need to be able to track the activity and retarget that person 
  • You’re not asking them for anything other than their time and attention. (Which, by the way, is the most valuable thing they can give you) 

 

At this stage of the funnel, your content will be most effective when it’s talking about the symptoms of the problem they’re facing and how its impacting their daily life. Also talk about their dream outcome. How they’d LIKE to be feeling. What they’d LIKE to know, or what they’d LIKE to have. Talk about the kinds of solution that are available and give some examples of others who have been successful. Don’t be talking specifically about your product or service just yet.  

What this does is create awareness of your brand, starts to build a community of followers. It also helps position you as someone who knows their stuff and can be trusted because you’re being helpful and you’re not selling anything. I know, I know, you WANT to sell stuff. We do too… We’ll get to that in a minute. This is actually a critical step in the process and will help you sell MORE stuff. Better stuff. And sell it at higher prices.  

Google ad are less effective here because of the limited character count, lack of options to use visual cues and video (yes, I know. YouTube. Different blog. Different conversation) and the fact your target audience when using Google is deep in ‘search and destroy’ mode. They’re not browsing, they’re searching for something very specific and often have an immediate need so ads that are more of a warm and fuzzy nature and designed to build elements of your brand just don’t get people’s attention.  

 

Middle of the Sales Funnel

 

Facebook ads and Google ads at the middle of the sales funnel

 

Now let’s take a look at the middle of your funnel. This is a slightly narrower and slightly more qualified audience. They’re a bit more aware of the problem and the types of solutions that are available. Now they’re weighing up the various options. For example, if you’re a kitchen renovator, your ideal client knows their kitchen is too small for their family, doesn’t have enough storage, it’s hard to clean, it’s a bit low brow and they’re not proud of it when friends visit. They also know they have the option to sell and move to another home, add an extension, do a kitchen makeover or maybe a full kitchen renovation, but they haven’t decided which option is the best one just yet.  

At this stage of the funnel you want to start generating leads and inquiries. Leads from the middle of the funnel are usually not ready to buy, they’re still weighing up their options. Creating a high value content offer and giving it away in return for people’s contact details is a popular and hugely effective strategy at this stage. Or for ecommerce brands you might be driving people to a sales page with an introductory offer, giveaway or competition. If you’ve spent any time on social media you’ll be familiar with this concepts. The key to success is… 

  1. Your free offer needs to really solve a problem that needs solving for a group of people big enough to make it a viable market segment. 
  2. It needs to actually deliver what it promises so don’t hold anything back. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you don’t want to give away ALL your secrets, but there’s almost nothing that can’t be found online somewhere. If people don’t get the whole story from you, they’ll get it elsewhere and then buy from that person instead. 
  3. You need to nurture the leads with more high value content and then actually make offers to convert them into sales.  

Some good examples of high value free content offers are… 

  • Ebooks 
  • Checklists 
  • Infographics 
  • Case studies 
  • Quizes 
  • Giveaways 
  • Discount coupons 
  • Free trials 
  • Free shipping 
  • One-on-one consultations 
  • Webinars 

 

These ads work great for products or services that need more detailed explanations because you can use longer copy, more visuals and really immerse people in the story. The also work for big ticket products or services where people need time to research and make decisions.  

Because of this, Facebook ads are hugely effective. Their superior ability to tell stories, engage people with compelling design and video, and their advanced lead capture capabilities make Facebook the ideal medium for advertisers targeting middle of the funnel prospects.  

Google, however, can be used quite effectively here too. At this stage people are starting to actively seek out more information, so they’re likely to be searching on Google for ideas, for things like ‘how do I get rid of back pain’ or ‘storage ideas for my small kitchen’. So while they’re in search mode, and too focused to really take notice of your branding ads, your ads offering a freebie like a ‘kitchen essentials checklist’ How to save a ton of space and avoid a costly kitchen renovation’ might get their attention. Once they’re on your list, you can nurture them, load them up with value and help them realise, they actually do need that kitchen reno after all…  

 

Before we dive into the bottom of the funnel, let’s just take a moment to think about why we would bother to even target the top and middle of the funnel. I mean, if these people aren’t ready to actually buy anything, isn’t that just peeing our money up against the wall?  

Abso-friggin-lutley not.  

Why? Because by the time someone has decided what type of service they’re going to buy (let’s renovate the kitchen rather than move, or let’s go overseas rather than buy a caravan, or I’m going to a Physiotherapist rather than getting some pills from the chemist) they already have specific brands in mind. If you haven’t already done some work to build a relationship with them, you’re going to need to offer something extraordinary (a big discount) to get their business. And if someone else has done a good job at building that relationship, they might not even shop around at all.  

 

Also, in most industries, less than 5% of potential buyers are ready to buy now. If you’re only focusing on those people, you’re ignoring 95% of the market. And you’re competing with most of your competitors for that tiny 5%. Imagine if you already had those people on your database and they already trusted you? This is how you increase your sales in the long run, and how you build the kind of brand and reputation that lets you charge more for your services. This is how the big guns do it!  Want to know more? Check out our blog ‘A little money now, or a lot of money later’

 

So that’s the top and middle of the funnel, but what about the bottom? The pointy end.  

 

 

Bottom of the Sales Funnel

Facebook ads and Google ads at the bottom of the sales funnel

 

 

The bottom of the sales funnel is where the rubber hits the road. People at this stage already know what they want and they’re looking for a supplier. They’ve done their research, read the reviews, probably opted into a bunch of sales funnels and had all the email marketing (most of it will be spammy rubbish that just tries to sell something and doesn’t actually help people make a transformation) they’ve had the samples, possibly even made a small purchase and now they’re ready for your core offer.  

 

[PRO TIP] If these people have been well nurtured by someone with great email and SMS marketing, they may not even get to the search stage, they might just buy from that business they already know, like and trust!  

 

Google ads work GREAT at this stage of the funnel. Google isn’t an interruptive medium, it’s a search medium, meaning people are looking for something specific. They know the problem, they’ve weighed up the various solutions and they’ve made, or almost made, the decision about what to buy so they’re actively searching for ‘kitchen renovators’ or ‘overseas travel agents’ or ‘physios near me’. And with Google ads you can have your brand, and your offer right there in their face. Yes please! 

The most effective way is to make a straight up call to action telling people why they should choose you, and sending them to your booking form, sales page or giving them a ‘click to call button’ 

Copy should be short and to the point. Tell them the benefits of coming to you as opposed to someone else.  

This works really well when you’re showing ads to someone who has already visited your website, or downloaded your ebook, listened to your podcast or interacted with some of your other content. Because they have already developed a level of trust. If they’re on your email list then your Google ads are really just reinforcing what they should already know, and that’s going to put you in the box seat compared to all the other Google ads they’re likely to see.  

Google ads are more of a ‘demand capture’ mechanism. Imagine you’re a plumber. No-one is scrolling their Facebook feed and thinking ‘Oh yeah, a plumber would be a great idea’ when they have a blocked toilet. If that’s your business, you better be on Google. That person has an immediate need and they just went from not in the funnel at all, right to the bottom in one flush. They noticed the water backing up in the loo, grabbed their phone, opened Google and typed in ‘Plumber near me’ If you’re relying on Facebook ads, you’re outta luck!  

 

Don’t get me wrong, Facebook can be used to make a straight up call to action to buy something, get a free quote or hop on a call but you’re relying on being there at just the right time, whereas with the top and middle of the funnel, it’s less time critical.  

So why, then, would you not just use Google? I mean, that’s where the buyers are, right?  Yep, that’s where SOME of the buyers are. It’s also where almost all the sellers are. And remember, only about 5% of people are in the market at any one time, so you’re competing with everyone for that 5%. And the ones who are there, are often looking for the best (see cheapest) price. Some buyers aren’t there at all. They got onto someone elses email list by downloading a free high value content offer months ago and didn’t even go out to the market, they just contacted the business that’s been emailing them useful tips, advice and offers for the past 6 months.  

 

Which brings us back to the original question. Which is best?  

If you have a distinct price advantage, or If you’re an emergency service like a plumber, roofer or mechanic, then you might get away with Google only. If you’re building your brand or building an email list to nurture then you may get away with Facebook only.  

 

However, if you’re serious about getting sales now, and building a sustainable business and marketing campaign to grow your business into the future, a holistic approach with a planned and strategic combination is the way to go. Facebook for top and middle, Google for middle and bottom. 

 

If you need help creating and implementing a strategy that’s going to serve you now and later, reach out for a chat.  

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