When you’re looking to spend your hard-earned dollars advertising online, you want to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. A question we are frequently asked here at storEDGE is, “which platform is better for advertising my facility: Facebook or Google?”

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t black and white. But the more you know and the better educated you are on the two, the better you will be able to stretch those marketing dollars and boost lead generation.

First of all, Google AdWords and Facebook Ads should be viewed as complementary advertising tools, rather than conflicting ones. They are not substitutes for one another, and they both have their own benefits. Both Google AdWords and Facebook Ads are powerful advertising platforms. Some self storage businesses leverage the strength of both platforms to get more clicks online. Others evaluate their advertising goals and choose one platform or the other.

In this article we’ll explore how Google AdWords and Facebook Ads work, the pros and cons of each platform, and how both can help your self storage business increase leads and occupancy.

Facebook Ads use ad targeting to get your business out there and bring people to your website.

How Facebook Ads Work: Paid Social

As of Nov. 2016, there are nearly 1.8 billion active users and 4 million advertisers on Facebook. In case you had any lingering doubts about making a Facebook page for your facility, Facebook has simply become too big (statistically) for your business to ignore.

So how does it work? Facebook Ads uses ad targeting to reach certain groups of people based on the target audience you set for your ad campaign. When choosing your ad’s target audience, you tell Facebook who you want to see your ad. Facebook really excels at this part: finding ‘lookalike audiences’ and identifying user traits from the vast amounts of data they collect, such as location, demographics, interests, online shopping habits, and future interests. These are the basics behind the sneaky (and sometimes almost creepy) way that Facebook knows to show you ads for iPad accessories in your news feed after you shop for iPads on Amazon. To the untrained eye, these ads are completely intuitive and often leave you wondering, how did they know that?

Facebook ads are budget-based. The amount of eyeballs and clicks you get are based on your budget, which can be anywhere from $1 to $5000 or more. Before spending a significant amount of your ad budget, make sure to test your Facebook Ad to prove the value of your campaign without the financial commitment. For 2015, the average Facebook Ad cost per click was $0.27.

Here is a walk-through of the process of creating a Facebook Ad:

  1. Create a page for your business. If you already have a Facebook page for your business, you can skip this step. If you don’t already have one, you must create one. Facebook ads can only be attached to businesses, not individuals. It’s free, a great landing page for your business, and it helps build domain authority.

  2. Create your ad campaign. At the top right of your page, hit promote and select ‘Go to Ads Manager.’ From here, select ‘Create Campaign’ and Facebook will walk you through the steps to set an objective for your ad and determine where you want your ad to send users, such as to your website.

  3. Set your ad target. During this step, you’ll choose the audience for your ad and set your budget. Tip: the narrower your audience, the better. Aim for more than 1,000 people, but less than 10,000. Knowing your business’s demographics is key for this step. Set a daily max budget and fix the end date so that you won’t spend more than a set amount.

  4. Create your ad. This is the fun part: choosing the content, graphics and layout for your ad. You can use images, video or even GIFs in your ad. Use the recommended image specifications guideline in the sidebar when uploading your image, video or GIF to optimize your content. Write copy for your ad and select a Call-To-Action (CTA) button, and your ad is ready to go.

After your ad is created, Facebook will generate detailed analytics and reporting tools based on the performance of your ad campaign. Facebook generates reports so you can see exactly how many people saw your ad, how many clicks your ad generated, and how your advertising dollars contributed to each click.

Google AdWords lets you jump organic search results and pay for a top listing on a search engine result page.

How Google AdWords Works: Paid Search

Google AdWords works by letting your business pay for search results on a Google search engine results page (SERP). Your ad is a paid search result which either appears at the top of a SERP or to the side of the page. Google formats them to look very similar to organic search results. (Yahoo and Bing also do the same thing). Your business has to bid against other people who are looking for a top spot on that same page. You set your maximum bid and determine how much you’re willing to pay Google AdWords every time a searcher clicks your ad.

You may be thinking, wait, what’s the difference between Google AdWords and pay-per-click (PPC) or cost-per-click (CPC) ads? Answer: Trick question. There is no difference. PPC ads, CPC ads, and Google AdWords all refer to the same thing. Another less common option for Google ads is cost-per-impression (CPM) ads, where you pay Google for every 1,000 times your ad just appears on the SERP (clicks or no clicks). Google AdWords also offers cost-per-acquisition (CPA) ads, where you only pay Google when a user completes a specific action on your website after clicking your ad, like filling out a form or clicking a link to rent a unit.

For 2015, the average CPC in Google AdWords was between $1 and $2. More expensive keywords in highly competitive markets, like law and insurance, cost around $50 per click.

Google also gives your ad a quality score. This determines how relevant and useful your ad is to the searcher. The higher your quality score, the more likely your ad will appear at the top of the page. If your maximum bid is less than a rival bidder, your ad may still appear above their ad if your quality score is higher.

Here is a walk-through of the Google AdWords process:

  1. Create your ad campaign. Sign up for an AdWords account, choose your campaign type, and name your campaign.

  2. Set your ad target. Choose your location, change your bid strategy, and set your daily budget and maximum cost-per-click.

  3. Create your ad. It’s important to write your ad’s copy to look like a search result. Google allows 25 characters for your ad’s headline and 35 characters for copy on the second and third lines. The fourth line will be your URL. Add your keywords, review your ad, and you’re set.

Once your ad is running, Google provides performance reports and lets you edit your campaign anytime. Google’s reports allow you to build more efficient campaigns so you can better target your audience and lower your CPC expenses.

When choosing between Facebook Ads and Google AdWords, make sure to evaluate each platform and determine the best advertising decisions for your individual business.

Which is better for your self storage business?

Both Facebook Ads and Google AdWords offer effective advertising strategies, and businesses should keep an open mind when testing out either platform. If you’re still trying to decide if paid search or paid social is better for your business, check out the strengths and advantages for each platform.

Facebook Ads are excellent at grabbing your audience's attention with great visuals and coupons.

Facebook Ads

Pros:

  • Facebook’s algorithm automatically optimizes the highest performing ad variation. If you create multiple ads within a campaign, you’ll quickly and easily be able to see which one performs best, which helps you fine tune your advertising content.

  • Facebook limits ads to 5% of all news feed posts. This sounds bad, but it’s actually good for your business. Fewer paid posts means your ad gets a higher value impression and doesn’t have to compete with other businesses as much for clicks.

Cons:

  • Facebook users are more passive than Google users. Facebook users are not actively looking for your business. They are scrolling through social media browsing family and friends’ photos and posts. Because of this, the ad you run for Facebook typically needs to have a click-worthy coupon or offer attached to it.

  • Facebook offers limited copy space: 90 characters or fewer. This means that your image, video or GIF needs to be able to do the bulk of the work getting customer engagement.

Google AdWords is better at targeting customers who are looking for a business like yours, but it's a competitive space and it can get expensive.

Google AdWords

Pros:

  • Google AdWords Express is easy to start using quickly. It typically takes less than ten minutes to complete and your ads can be live within minutes of setting it up.

  • Google AdWords gets you instant targeted traffic. Once your ad is live, it will bring your website directly into the hands of people who are searching for your keywords. Even if your website SEO isn’t ideal, your Google Ad will bring your business near the top of the search results.

  • Google AdWords provides a wealth of actionable feedback. Google gives you a lot of data so you can quickly adjust to bring in more clicks. You can experiment with keywords, change your bids, and try to get your ads a better quality score. Facebook’s data is more limited than Google’s.

Cons:

  • Google AdWords is a very competitive space. Competitors with a bigger budget may rank over your smaller budget, so your quality score is important.

  • Google AdWords’ most efficient campaigns require knowledge of PPC. It’s easy to get started, but if you really want to make the most of every dollar, you’ll need to study the trends and create a PPC budget. The more experience you have with PPC, the easier it gets.

So what’s the answer?

Your best advertising platform depends heavily on your business needs, your audience’s level of online engagement, and your market location. If your business has strong images, great videos, or you have an interest in creating eye-catching graphics, Facebook Ads might be a good fit for you. If you’re wanting to get your business’s name out there and get closer to the top of search results, Google Ads might be your best choice.

In the end, the most important thing is to do what you think is right for your business and your brand. Keep a close eye on your advertising metrics to make sure your ad dollars are offering the best ROI for your business.

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to like us on Facebook to receive updates every time one of my awesome new posts goes live. If you liked this article, you may also like: What You Need to Know About the Google Possum Algorithm Update, 5 Key Lessons for Smooth Tenant Move-ins, and Why You Need to Introduce Mobile Technology at Your Facility.