With so many advertising platforms out there, why should you choose Facebook, and what benefits does it offer over the other options? One of the biggest differences with Facebook compared to Google – for example – is that where Google helps you find new customers, Facebook helps new customers find you.

Facebook boasts a huge worldwide audience of 1.55 billion active monthly users, and has unrivaled audience enormity. That reach alone makes Facebook appealing. But when you add in the ability to enhance audience targeting, increase reach for your content, awesome tracking of performance and ROI, and only spend as little as you like and still get results, Facebook advertising is a no brainer, especially for small businesses looking to make a big impact.

Massimo Chieruzzi loves to talk about using Facebook advertising for small businesses. His business, Ad Espresso, is a leading Facebook Ads optimization platform. Massimo loves helping small businesses get the most from their Facebook advertising while keeping it both simple and affordable.

Rich: Massimo Chieruzzi – who told me not to try and practice his last name, but I decided to go ahead anyways – is a journalist, speaker, and CEO of AdEspresso, a self service tool that helps small and medium sized businesses succeed in Facebook advertising.

In the constant quest to find the perfect formula for Facebook advertising, he has analyzed over  $50 million of ads spent across every country and every industry. If you search on Google for anything Facebook advertising related, one of his posts is likely among the top results. Massimo, welcome to the show.

Massimo: Thank you, Rich, and you did an amazing job pronouncing my last name.

Rich: I think you’re being generous, but I appreciate it.

Massimo: No, you did an amazing job. You got it very, very well. And before we get started, I just wanted to thank you for having me today and I’m sorry to the audience for my horrible Italy-English. The good thing with podcasts is they cannot see the shocked face of people saying, “What is he saying? Is it Italian or English?” So bear with me, I hope you will understand at least the concept of what I’m saying.

Rich: I’m sure we will. And because of your background, I actually asked my transcriptionist – who is of Italian heritage – if she had a good Italian question that I could lead off the show with for you, and she said this question, “Sauce or gravy?”

Massimo: Sauce.

Rich: There we go, alright. Ok, now we’ll talk about marketing. Two of the most popular ad platforms these days are Google Adwords and Facebook ads. What would you say the difference is in terms of how we should think about them?

Massimo: The biggest difference is the step of the final where each platform works at it best. Google is great for event fulfillment. People go on Google because they need something, because they have a desire to buy a product or discover something, and Google is great to fulfill that demand. So if I’m looking for car insurance, I will just go on Google and search for “car insurance”. They show me the ad and it’s extremely simple to close the conversion. But on the other side it’s also pretty expensive.

On the other side, Facebook is great for demand generation. Remember, this is the most important thing that you need to understand when advertising on Facebook. People don’t go on Facebook to make decisions, people go on Facebook to avoid making decisions. We go on Facebook to engage with our friends, to look at stupid videos, to look at tons of pictures of kittens and cats, but we don’t go on Facebook because we are looking for car insurance. So you need to have a totally different approach.

On the other side, Facebook is also a huge opportunity. I always use this example, think that you have invented the revolutionary shaving razor for men. Now on Google you can enjoy a great conversion rate, but how many people do you think are searching for shaving razors on Google. Probably 1% of your potential customers. On the other side on Facebook, you can reach probably 70% of men who are in an age where we have to shave. And you can let them know that you have this amazing product. The opportunity for growth on Facebook is just huge.

Rich: Alright, so if I’m understanding you correctly, Google is all about demand fulfillment, Facebook is all about demand generation. So when I want to get in front of somebody who is struggling with something right now that I can help them with, Google might be appropriate. But for the long run and for people who might not be thinking about using Google to solve their problems, then Facebook might be a good way of starting to make that connection with them. Is that accurate?

Massimo: It’s totally accurate as of today. I guess Facebook is for sure working a lot to get more signal and to understand more what you are looking for right now and to move into demand fulfillment. But for now their core is demand generation. As well on the other side, Google is of course trying to get more signal to know who you are and not just what you are looking for right now.

Rich: Right. And I guess that makes a lot of sense. I’m always noticing that car ads are ubiquitous in the U.S. You know they’re everywhere, you can’t avoid them, and of course there’s only like maybe one time out of 8-10 years that I’m actually thinking about buying a car. But it’s almost more like Facebook in that way, it’s just about demand generation, it’s trying to remind people that Ford, Chevy, Toyota are out there for when you are ready to make that buying decision.

Massimo: Right. That’s totally correct.

Rich: So there’s a place probably for Google, and a place for Facebook ads. If we’re small business owners or marketing for a small business and we start trying to think about how we can start to work on demand generation by using Facebook ads, how do we start with Facebook ads, what should be be considering and what are some of the goals that we should have in the back of our mind as we start our first Facebook ad campaign?

Massimo: So there are many goals that you should think of, but the first thing that you should think is that it won’t work on Facebook to try to immediately sell your product. It’s like in dating, it’s like if you are outside in the restaurant and you see a nice girl and you go over there and the first question you ask her is, “Will you marry me?” She will just consider you crazy. And the same is for Facebook. When you are dealing with Facebook you need to understand that first you need to build a relationship with it’s users.

And that kind of relationship could be, for example, content. Providing them something valuable, just to position yourself as someone that is helpful, that is trying to help the small and medium businesses, and that is not asking for anything.

For example, to promote our business we use simply blog posts. We use blog posts that are simply valuable and we promote them. You don’t  need a huge budget, we can promote them for as low as $5 a day. And we start building an audience of people who will discover our brand and will find our content valuable. And I really highlight “valuable”, this is not about getting people to just click your ad, you will not grow your business with clicks. This is about positioning yourself as someone that is helpful and that is a thought leader in the industry. So write something valuable.

If you are good with video, for example, it doesn’t need to have a blog post but you can do a video. Videos are working so well on Facebook. They are more personal, they will personalize your small.medium business. So you can just do a 3-minute video in which you explain something. Are you selling skincare products, are you a spa, you can just do a 3-minute video on how to do skincare, for example.

Rich: Alright, I just want to make sure I got this. So the first thing, as far as you’re concerned, that you do with Facebook advertising is actually create some really valuable content on your website. Maybe it’s a blog post, maybe it’s a video, maybe it’s a podcast, and you put that on your website because you need to be driving traffic from Facebook to something of value. Have I got that correct?

Massimo: That’s correct, that’s the first step, build the audience and let them know you.

Rich: If we have evergreen content on our blog – if it’s not something that’s out of date – can we start advertising on Facebook for maybe some posts that have been out there for a while if we haven’t been doing any Facebook ads?

Massimo: Absolutely. Evergreen content is even better, you don’t have to refresh content or have new content every week. If you can write evergreen content, that’s amazing. And if you think that you are separating your audience and they are no longer interested in your content, you may just repurpose it. People do it all the time. You have a great piece of content, a blog post, you start promoting it and then maybe you get a 3-minute video out of it and then maybe you create some slides. Same piece of content, just different platform, different format, and you keep promoting that. So it doesn’t need to be always fresh content.

Rich: If I’m just getting started in this, what kind of budget should I be thinking of, either on a daily, weekly or monthly?

Massimo: You can spend as low as $2 per day, it doesn’t need to have a big budget. You can start with small budgets and then incrementally start increasing it every single week, for example.

Rich: Alright, so we’ve created some valuable content on our website. Is the next step to start creating our ads?

Massimo: Yes, you start creating your ads. And of course you have two elements that are important, the title of the content and the picture. I always stress this but the title is the most important thing, because people on social media most of the time just share the content based on the title, they don’t even read it. So if you write a blog post like, “The 7 Errors To Avoid When Doing Facebook Advertising”, that’s a nice title but it’s not really appealing and people can not really empathize with it. For the same content, if you write, “Here’s The 7 Errors That Cost Me Annually $250 Thousand In Facebook Advertising”, that’s something that is personal, it’s telling a story, he’s sharing his error. And people are much more likely to share it, so make very good titles for your content.

In terms of pictures, try to avoid stock photos which are really boring. In the mind of a user, if they see a stock photo they immediately ignore that piece of content. So if you really have to use stock photos, at least try to apply some Instagram filter or something that will make it warmer and a lot less business oriented. Be emotional. There is a theory that is the elephant and the driver, where we are like a small driver on top of a big elephant. The small driver is our rational part and the big elephant is the emotional part. If they agree on something they are always going to go in the direction of the elephant. So in your ad you should always try to address both the rational part and especially the emotional part.

So use the picture, for example, to highlight the benefits of what you’re offering. A picture of a girl working at an agency with a super relaxed mood because she is enjoying life, she is using your product and she has a lot more time, she is not stressed. But try to address the emotional side of your users and always talk about benefits, not features.

Rich: Alright, so a couple questions as you bring that up. So on the content we’re going to come up with a really engaging, specific title that’s going to bring people in, and we’re going to use an image that doesn’t use a generic piece of stock photography. If we do need to use stock photography, we’re going to make it more interesting somehow.

So I understand that. Does the title that we feature in the ad need to be the same as the blog post – or should it be the same as the blog post – and the same question with the photograph? Like, a lot of times you see these days where the photos have words over it, and I think there’s some limits with what we can do with words in Facebook ads, so do you recommend that we use the same title and the same photo that we used in the blog post?

Massimo: In this stage I don’t think it’s very important. When we are moving down in the funnel and you want to drive sales or leads, I think it’s extremely important to have consistency, so that the ad matches the landing pages. That’s going to increase your conversion rate. But at this stage it’s just for engagement to let them know you. I don’t think it’s extremely important and why I keep consistency between title and pictures I don’t think that’s as important. Many times you will love to have a title on your blog that’s more SEO oriented because you want to rank on Google, and you can share a different title as long as it’s not difficult on Facebook or Twitter to create more engagement.

That’s totally fine. The picture I will say the same. Facebook used to have a 20% text rule, so a picture couldn’t have more than 20% text. They actually lifted this limit a couple of weeks ago, but you should be careful. Even if they remove the limit they’re still going to approve your ad, and if it’s full of text, people don’t like a lot of text on Facebook and they will in a way penalize you and reduce the reach of your advertising if you use too much text.

Rich: Alright, that makes sense. The other takeaways that I had from that other little bit is benefits over features, and always try and really tug on the emotional strings of the people you’re trying to get in front of.

Massimo: Yeah, that’s super important.

Rich: So now that we’ve got our ad created in place, who are we targeting, how broad or narrow should we be targeting when it comes to trying to reach this audience? And just to confirm, this is – for all intents and purposes – a cold audience, these are not people who are already on our mailing list who we have a business relationship. We’re trying to generate new leads, correct?

Massimo: Right. For the content we are targeting a cold audience, so people that don’t yet know our business. The audience side is something that I get asked all the time, and the answer is always, it depends. Believe me, there are so many factors in Facebook advertising, so many differences between each industry and each kind of business. Everyone tells you they have the solution, but they are probably telling you bullshit. No one size fits all when it comes to Facebook.

But let’s try to give some general numbers and you can adapt them. Overall I would say a nice audience size for a business that is country wide is about half a million users and one and a half million users. I would not do less, but I would not even do more unless you have a huge budget and you are a huge company. There are a couple of reasons for that. When you are targeting, it’s extremely important that you are targeting people that of course are interested in your product. But on the other side, Facebook nowadays are using so much artificial intelligence and there’s so much learning to understand the best user for you. But if you give them an audience that is too niche or too small – like 1,000 people – you are not giving Facebook space to learn and help you optimize your campaign.

As soon as your campaign starts, Facebook will start looking for partners, Facebook will say, “Hey, Rich and Massimo both clicked on that ad so they’re probably interested in marketing, so it’s a good feed for this user.” So out of that, Facebook will try to show more and more of your ad to people that are interested in marketing. If you target an audience which is too small, you are not giving Facebook enough space for optimization.

On the other side, if you go too broad – like 20 million users –  you are probably targeting the whole country and you are not being focused enough. So between half a million to one million and a half. If you are a local business, of course you’ll never be able to reach half a million, so for a lot of businesses it really depends on the size of the city where you are, etc. It’s a bit more complicated.  And in terms of targeting, the entry level targeting called “audiences” is always interest targeting, so you can target your competitor. If you are a local shop you can target some brands that you are selling, for a lot of top blogs in your industry, there are lots of ways that you can find new interests.

One of the ways is using Amazon, for example. If I want to sell cat food I will just go on Amazon and look for cat food products, and Amazon will give you a list of 100 brands that are selling cat food. Probably you’ve never heard of half of them, but they are all great interests that you can target. This works in every industry. The same for books, you can search for “cat training”, “cat ownership”, you can look for a book about cats and probably the best seller will be an interest that you can target on Facebook, or maybe the author of those books are considered an interest by Facebook, and you can target top owners in your industry.

Rich: Alright, first of all there’s two important takeaways. One is that there is a book on cat training out there and I need to buy it.

Massimo: But it doesn’t work for sure.

Rich: Exactly, no guarantees. So what I’m hearing is, you want to target – there’s no magic number – but if there was a magic number it would probably be somewhere between half a million and 1.5 million people per country. And, when we’re just starting out with these cold leads, interest targeting is probably going to be our best friend. And if we’re looking for ideas of what type of interests we should be targeting, head on over to Amazon and start looking at some products and books. Right?

Massimo: Right.

Rich: Ok. Now, we’ve got all this in place, we get them to our website, what do we do after they’ve read and shared our brilliant blog post or video?

Massimo: So now there are two things that you want to do. You want to move them to the next step. So you have provided them something valuable, now you want something in return. And that could be – for example – their email information. So the first thing that you can do is ask immediately. A lot of these users will probably be ready to convert immediately after they read the blog post, so put something on your content that immediately tells them, “Hey, did you enjoy this blog post? Here’s an upgrade, you can get a PDF/50-page ebook/checklist”, and try to get as many emails as possible.

Then, create an advertising campaign to target all those users that didn’t immediately convert. This step is even easier because you don’t have to think about interests, you don’t have to think how old is my perfect audience. With Facebook, you can use custom audiences to retarget people. So you can create a Facebook advertising campaign targeting everyone that visited your blog post, and exclude everyone for who you already have an email or already bought your product. So you’re targeting users that you don’t know yet, but that already knows you, because they read your blog post.

And here you can promote any book, any lead magnet. So provide them something valuable, but start training them that to get something they need to give you something back. In this step it could be an email, it could be how big is your company, etc. The higher is the perceived value of your lead magnet, the more information you can ask them.

Rich: Alright, so they come to our website, they see our brilliant post, and the two things we’re going to follow up with is give them some sort of lead magnet to hopefully build the list and get their email. And even if they don’t do that, we’re going to be able to retarget them on Facebook as long as they haven’t taken whatever that desired step was. Maybe it was to sign up for the email, maybe it  was even something that they could have bought or registered for, whatever the case is. But those are the two things that we want to do to follow up and keep this conversation going.

Massimo: Yes, list building is so important. I know this topic has been covered a lot of times on this podcast, I hear in Amy Porterfield’s books so much about building your list, it is amazing. Because if you rely only on advertising, the day you stop spending money on advertising is the day where your revenues go down and you stop generating profit.

But if in the process of advertising you also build your list, you have a lifetime asset. You will be able to keep writing with people and connect with them about your new products forever and at a cheaper price than advertising.

Rich: Alright. Tell me a little about targeting personas in this process.

Massimo: So buyer personas are probably one of the most important things in marketing. I will always start a new business by using buyer personas. And this also connects to what we said before about talking about benefits and not features.

So when we started our business, I was dumbly creating ads, like, “Hey, we have a better Facebook Ad Manager than anyone else.” Now what I discovered when looking at results for that as is that no one wakes up in the morning saying they want to buy a better Facebook Ad Manager. No one wakes up in the morning saying they don’t receive enough email so today I’m going to subscribe to 5 more newsletters. People take action because of the benefits that are in it for them. And, different kinds of customers have different benefits, different problems that we want to solve.

So when we started talking to our customers we discovered that we had a lot of agencies and a lot of startups, and startups had different needs from agencies. So we started creating a different set of ads to address different problems that each of these audiences had. We were targeting agencies telling them, “Hey, with our product you are going to save time and money managing your customers with Facebook advertising”, because we know you are an agency and you deal with customer’s advertising.

While with startups, our startup guys are obsessed with growth. So the only valuable proposition was, “Boost your startup’s growth with Facebook advertising optimization”. And this way it is a process that is useful across the board. When you start with the buyer persona you say, ok, Massimo is my buyer persona for startups, he is 35 years old, he is probably interested in all those websites for startups. His problem is showing his investor his growth.  And once you have done this, this will help you for everything, for your messaging, what you should write in your ad for the targeting, what should you target.  Buyer persona is the most valuable thing that you can do when you start marketing your product, your business.

Rich: Alright, I understand that completely but in terms of segmentation, when do you think that we start using the buying personas? Is it in that cold lead sort of thing, or are you doing it because maybe somebody took an action on your website so you’re able to know this is an agency versus this is a solopreneur, or whatever the case may be?

Massimo: Segmentation is always a matter of size. So if you have a huge budget, if you’re starting to spend $1,000 or $5,000 just for content promotion, yes, I will start immediately doing a piece of content just for one buyer persona, and a piece of content for another buyer persona.

But of course if you are just getting started on Facebook advertising, if you’re spending $5 per day in content promotion, it doesn’t make sense at this stage so you should probably wait and start using buyer persona just when you want them to take an action to buy the product. It doesn’t make sense to waste time creating more and more content when you don’t really have a budget to target different buyer personas.

Rich: Alright, that makes a lot of sense. Do you have any suggestions on how we should measure ROI or getting a better understanding of how the money we spend on Facebook ads is actually delivering results?

Massimo: So given that conversion attribution is probably the holy grail of marketing and no one right now is doing that correctly. Any software has a very hard life understanding where your revenue is coming from, so be aware that you are never going to have numbers in Facebook advertising that matches the number that you will see in Google Analytics or in another tracking software. But with every conversion that you track on Facebook, you can unsurpass on Facebook the revenue of that conversion.

This will really help you out, especially if you are advertising worldwide, because one common error that I see a lot of from self proclaimed Facebook advertising gurus is telling people they should advertise in India and Brazil and Nepal because we are super cheap, you’ll get a click for two cents. I don’t give a damn about getting clicks for two cents. I don’t know about you, but my business is about making money not about getting clicks. So I don’t care about getting clicks in Nepal if they are not going to buy my product. And if you track revenue, you will see a lot of this pattern like advertising in Brazil. They get a lot of great customers and a cost per conversion which is much lower than people in the United States.

But this doesn’t mean that they have to advertise just in Brazil, because if I track my revenue, we’ll see that people in Brazil are buying a much cheaper product on average rather than a user in the United States. So it’s totally fine for me to spend five times more to acquire a customer in the United States, because I’m getting much more money.

The other big value of Facebook is that Facebook knows who you are. All the other advertising systems and advertising networks only know your computer and your device because they use cookies, so if you click on the ad on mobile and then you go on desktop and type in the address of the website and you buy a product, most of the systems are not going to recognize that conversion and we are not going to attribute it correctly. Facebook knows who you are because you are logged in on Facebook on your mobile, on your desktop, Facebook is not using cookies. They know Massimo and they will follow my process and follow me taking action across multiple devices. So that’s often why Facebook reporting seems a bit higher than Google Analytics. It’s because Facebook recognizes me if I switch from one device to another.

Rich: That’s interesting. You know what’s funny is I never could figure out what the benefit of using Facebook retargeting over something like Adroll, they can advertise on Facebook and somewhere else, until you just explained it like that.

Massimo: That’s just amazing. Think about it, people right now love to discover things on mobile, we are always looking at our mobile phone, we discover things that our friends are recommending. We probably read blog posts from our mobile phone, but we are not yet very keen to convert on mobile. I’m not going to get my credit card when I’m on the go and buy something from my mobile phone.

This is the great power of Facebook. You can tell Facebook, “Hey, I want to retarget people who visited this piece of content on mobile, but I want to target them when they are on their desktop.”

Rich: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense because we’re doing some Facebook ads right now that are driving people to a website to find the answer to a puzzle, but again we’re using one of these retargeting systems that is using cookies. So really, if they’re on their mobile device and then they spend their time on a desktop later, we’re missing out on that. Where if we were doing straight up Facebook retargeting, we would actually be able to capture that person’s attention afterwards, even if there was no cookies involved.

Massimo: Yes.

Rich: Fascinating stuff. I think I may make some changes. This has been great, Massimo, I really appreciate your time. Where can we find you online?

Massimo: You can find me on Twitter, it’s @MassimoCw, which is a big reminder that you never insert the name of your company in your Twitter handle because you are going to change companies at some point. Even if it’s your own business. But most of all you can find me at adespresso.com, we have a huge amount of content all for free about Facebook advertising, I still write most of that content and that’s the best place to get in touch.

Rich: Massimo, this has been great. Thank you so much for your time today.

Massimo: Thank you so much for inviting me Rich, I really loved my first podcast.

Rich: I’m glad I was your first. Take care.

Show Notes:

You can get more great information about Facebook advertising from Massimo at his website, and by following him on Twitter.

If you’re eager to hear more great content on topics like this in the neighborhood of search, social and mobile marketing, then be sure to grab your ticket to the Agents Of Change DIgital Marketing Conference, being held on September 23, 2016.  (Both live tickets and virtual passes available!

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