Using AdWords and Facebook Ads

Almost daily, we get asked these kind of questions. “Should I be using PPC? Why don’t I have that top yellow link at the top of Google searches? Are Facebook ads working for me?” 

Usually, this question is asked by people just starting to consider digital marketing, or by a client who has read a blog or newspaper article that has made some doomsday claims about a certain platform, an article which usually is only backed up by one freak case study, or a poor interpretation of an algorithm change.

While the digital landscape is certainly getting more and more confusing as more and more platforms are launched, order can be bought to this wild west, and the best news is, you don’t necessarily need to be an expert to get on top of it all.

We’re not huge believers in using opinions and wild guesses in solving problems, so here are some ways you can figure out whether an advertising platform is suitable for you using clear, quantifiable data.

  1. AdWords PPC

Google AdWords are the ads that appear at the top of search results, or down the right hand side of the page. If you’re new to AdWords, there’s a really easy way to research how well you’ll fair. If you Google ‘Keywords Planner’, you’ll be able to type in your product or the service you provide, and you’ll be in shown in numbers and graphs how many people are searching for whatever you sell. It’ll also show you how much a click might cost you, and how high the competition is for the top spot. If the average monthly searches are low, and the trend is decreasing or has been consistently low, this means that people aren’t searching for your product on Google, and therefore you might not get many results from Google.

But this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, as these numbers will vary from industry-to-industry: we find that for specialised topics, such as specific business-to-business services or SAAS’s, the average monthly searches may not be all that high, but the competition is fierce, resulting in an extremely high cost-per-click. That means your competitors are using AdWords probably to great success, and are willing to pay more for a click because a customer who clicks and converts is probably very valuable.

You can find out more about the advertising history of your competitors, as well as their click-through rates using a tool called SEMRush. SEMRush will show whether your competitor has ever used ads, all the past ads a competitor have served, how much money they spent on these ads, and how much of their total traffic was organic vs. PPC. Although SEMRush is a free tool, the paid version shows far more details.

Don’t forget, if you find your competitor hasn’t used AdWords before, it doesn’t mean AdWords is a bad idea; just refer to the Keyword Planner to see if people are searching. If people are searching for your product or service, then it’s your competitor’s loss, and you can take full advantage of possibly lower competition and costs. With all this data, you just need to work out the value of a conversion, and how much you’re willing to pay-per-click based on your estimated conversion rate (which is based on data from SEMRush), and away you go.

If you’re already on AdWords and you’re not sure why AdWords is working well for you, then Keyword Planner can definitely help you still. If search volume is low, then that explains your problem. If search volume is high, then you have to figure out where exactly things are going wrong, and 90% of the time; this comes to how your ads are set-up. Make sure your keywords are targeted, your ad sets are tightly groups around one theme each, and that you are consistently monitoring your campaign so that you are ‘negativing’ out unrelated or low converting keywords your ad is getting searched up on.

  1. Facebook Ads

If you are not on Facebook, then you first have to figure out if Facebook is right for you. The first step is to figure out if your page or your industry is popular on Facebook. Whilst Facebook ads can be highly targeted to specific demographics, you have to keep in mind that people generally use Facebook for fun and entertainment. Therefore, ads that they engage are most likely to engage with have to be entertaining, fun and informative, or in some other way directly and tangibly beneficial to them.

A quick hunt around on Facebook will determine whether your business/industry is successful on Facebook. Search up your competitors’ pages or other pages related to your industry and see if they have a strong social presence, and that people are engaging with their posts. If there is a lot of engagement on posts, and a page has a lot of fans, this is a good sign.

Unfortunately, there are no tools (that we’re aware of) like SEMRush that will show whether a page is running dark posts, or displays examples of their ads, although there are some ways to experiment. Try visiting their website, or liking their page. This could get you included in some of their custom audience targeting lists, which means if they are serving ads, you’ll start seeing them.

Keep in mind, you can still run dark posts from you page even if you don’t have much of a social presence – you can set ads to send people directly to a website or landing page, meaning they might never see your Facebook page. However, this will come purely down to testing and experimentation.

If you are already on Facebook, then Facebook ads need to become an integral part of your social media plan. Organic reach is becoming much harder to achieve, so paid reach through either ads, dark posts or post boosts, especially for when you need to promote something (i.e. a sale, a launch etc.) has become a painkiller, not a vitamin.

A lot of people are complaining about the direction Facebook has taken, but Facebook is not set to change this anytime soon, so the time to adapt is now. The good news is that Facebook’s ads are still relatively very cheap if used effectively, so invest the time into testing ads in terms of placement, images and body text. Split test, split test and split test. Then split test some more. We’ve also seen through experimentation that taking advantage of new features as soon as they come out can have great results.


While we have listed out all the steps we take when we’re doing preliminary research, the best way research you can do is to test things for yourself. Both AdWords and Facebook ads requires a lot of testing and monitoring, especially when it comes to the first few weeks of the campaign. Think of advertising like sowing a bunch of random seeds; some will grow, some won’t, and some will turn into nasty weeds. It’s your job to keep an eye of them, take out the seeds that didn’t grow, cut away the weeds and figure out which ones were growing and why. Then you take the good seeds and you keep testing and growing so that eventually, you have a full blooming garden.


About the Author:

Josh Li is an Account Manager at Megaphone Marketing, a Melbourne based agency that helps small and medium-sized businesses build powerful digital marketing and social media strategies. He also works alongside many Melbourne-based tech startups. 

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