May 23, 2017

62 Percent of Small Business Owners Say Facebook Ads Miss Their Targets, Weebly Reports


Do Facebook Ads Work? 62 Percent of Small Business Owners Say the Ads Miss Their Targets, Weebly Reports

Does your small business have presence on Facebook (NASDAQ:FB)?

It makes sense. If everyone and their grandmother is there, your small business should be, too.

The trick is reaching all these people. And Facebook’s targeted marketing tools seemingly allow you to do just that.

It’s just that not every small business owner believes these promoted messages are hitting their marks.

According to a new survey of small business owners from Weebly, a DIY drag and drop web design company, 62 percent say their paid ads on Facebook are missing the target.

Weebly surveyed more than 2,600 self-described small business owners that sell online in some capacity. The company shared the findings of its survey exclusively with Small Business Trends.

Facebook Is the Place to be Seen

The more than 2,000 small business owners all seem in agreement that Facebook is a place to be seen. In conjunction with their Weebly-built sites, 89 percent of those surveyed said they “use Facebook in conjunction with their Weebly site to promote their business.”

Of course, the most obvious thing a small business can do on Facebook is to create a Page. From this page, a small business can share basic information, direct visitors to their own sites, share exclusive information with followers, alert customers to promotions and even sell directly to customers.

One small business owner tells Weebly, “We very rarely have ever gotten sales through Facebook. We feel that ‘Friends’ on Facebook would rather interact than be sold to. Trying to sell via Facebook is like walking around at a party and passing out business cards trying to sell your products to friends who would rather be socializing than dealing with a sales attempt.”

Pay to Play?

The right social media strategy could make your posts engaging, entertaining and informative. And that doesn’t cost a dime — though it does require an expenditure of time. But as already noted, a huge number of small business have a presence on Facebook so standing out among them is difficult even if you do everything right.

It seems that without some help, even a great page and the most clever post in the world are only as good as your organic reach. Users either have to search you out specifically or you have to direct them to your Facebook page.

In order to grow your reach, a paid campaign is seemingly the most logical next step.

But the small business owners surveyed by Weebly are still pretty hesitant to plunk down much, if any money on a paid campaign. In fact, hesitant may be an understatement.

Small Businesses Have Facebook Trust Issues

It’s actually skepticism. Or even worse, total distrust.

Of those surveyed, 82 percent have spent less than $50 on a Facebook ad campaign. And more than half — 52 percent — say they don’t buy ads on Facebook at all. Among this group of skeptics, 4 percent say they don’t buy ads on Facebook because they find it “too risky” a venture for their money.

But Weebly users demonstrate their distrust of the social media giant in their detailed responses to more open-ended questions in the survey.

For example, one small business owner said, “I feel that Facebook holds small businesses hostage by only displaying posts on their choice of 10 percent of my followers unless I pay to ‘boost’ posts.”

And that’s one of the more tepid responses.

Some small business owners believe the promise that paid posts will reach a larger audience is false, too.

“I feel like they hire bots to get clicks and not viable customers,” another small business owner tells Weebly.

Still another alleges, “When I have purchased ads on Facebook and viewed the profiles of the ‘clicks’ I’ve received, they haven’t all been valid profiles. They are bots and fake accounts.”

This isn’t the first time questions have been raised about the quality of the accounts brought in by Facebook ads.

But the point at which small business owners begin to distrust Facebook seems to be at the very beginning of the campaign.

When the ad order is placed, most small business owners reached by Weebly are left saying, “Show me people. Where are the people? There are no people!”

Lots of Clicks, Very Few Conversions Prompts Question, “Do Facebook Ads Work?”

It’s not that those small businesses contacted by Weebly are seeing no returns on their ads. It’s the quality of the returns that is often  in question. It’s all clicks and likes but sales conversions are few and far between, they explain.

“Although I may get clicks or likes, it doesn’t always translate to more money coming through the door,” one owner says.

Another small business owner adds, “I’ve decided to stop spending money on Facebook ads. I’ve spent over $1,000 and I haven’t been able to link any of my sales to a Facebook ad.”

Putting it simply, another responds, “Lots of impressions but almost no conversion.”

Any Sense in Facebook Ads?

It’s hard to ignore the results of such a survey when trying to determine if Facebook advertising is right for you. According to the survey, just 12 percent of small business owners believe Facebook is on the same team as small business owners and is helping them grow.

Others argue it’s possible to expand your reach on Facebook without ever paying for it.

Results may differ with every user. But one thing is certain. It doesn’t cost much to experiment with Facebook advertising and discover its effectiveness for  yourself.

Weebly founder David Rusenko insists there is another conclusion small business owners can take from the survey. In a prepared statement issued following the report, Rusenko explains:

“We know that bootstrapping small businesses owners have to wear a lot of hats, and while leveraging social media is key to marketing, their Weebly website is a professionally branded, permanent place to direct traffic and fuel sales. In our opinion, focusing on email marketing to drive new leads to your eCommerce store is a more cost effective and efficient way to grow your business off the bat.”

Facebook Ads Photo via Shutterstock

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Joshua Sophy - Assistant Editor


Joshua Sophy Joshua Sophy is the Assistant Editor for Small Business Trends and the Head of Content Partnerships. A journalist with 17 years of experience in traditional and online media, Joshua got his start in the newspaper business in Pennsylvania. His experience includes being a beat reporter covering daily news. He eventually founded his own local newspaper, the Pottsville Free Press, covering his hometown. Joshua supervises the day-to-day operations of Small Business Trends' busy editorial department including the editorial calendar and outgoing assignments.

14 Reactions

  1. I sympathize with SMB owners doing their own Facebook advertising. I work in the PPC industry every day and it’s difficult for me to stay current with the offerings and keep my clients campaigns running profitably. However, many issues I see are related to tracking, which is the foundation for any successful effort.

  2. Aira Bongco

    Is it really because of the ad platform or they need to do more to tweak their ads so that it appeals more to their audience?

  3. I have been playing around with FB ads for around 6 months now. While they are significantly cheaper than a lot of other forms of PPC advertising I have found that bounce rates are generally higher and conversions are generally lower. After a lot of tweaking with the demographic targeting I have managed to get it to somewhere that I am relatively happy with and will stick with however it is nowhere near what I was hoping for.

    • Joshua Sophy

      Thanks for sharing your personal experience, Neil. I’m sure a lot of readers are going to find that helpful.

      Doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement. Are you willing to be patient because it’s a relatively new platform? Would you expect more from more established media?

      Or, is the patience you’re exercising a result of the rather inexpensive cost of Facebook ads?

      Thanks again, Neil!

  4. I use Weebly for my local small service business for 5 years now and I’ve had a Facebook Business page for almost as long, yet I have only gained 2 customers from a single post to a local group in December of 2015.

    No other customers from facebook; I have run 2, week long ad campaigns spread a year apart because the first one went so bad, I was hesitant to throw my money away again and the second campaign only brought (1) new page like while the first one brought 35 new page likes but here’s the rub, on both campaigns I targeted locally within 35 miles of my location, yet on the first campaign out of 35 new page likes, only one (1) was local and many of them were as far away as 150 miles! What’s up with that!?

    Now, I’m not an internet novice by any means, I used to build html websites from scratch using “Front Page” for cryin out loud!

    I also got my site on the first page of google within the first 3 months of launching it with no outsourcing at all.

    I doubt very seriously that it was me. After losing a business and $35.000.00 from the economy crash, I had to bootstrap this business from nothing and it’s still struggling 5 years later so I’m not in the position to keep giving facebook money when I’m getting nothing in return!

    I only have 146-page followers and fb only shows my posts to 1% of them on average (2 to 0 people), over half, are not local, and some are product company sales people from China.

    I have never been called for spam or kicked out of any groups, yet it seems that if I put my web address (Link) on any type of post no matter how I share it (personal profile or Business) no one sees it.

    I did a little test on a group post and tried to bump it, went back to the discussion page and refreshed the page about every 10 minutes for an hour, and my post never showed up.

    If I post directly to a local group from my business page, facebook will tell me that my post reached 600 to 800 people yet absolutely no post engagement, no likes, no comments, no shares, no nothing.

    I feel that facebook is ripping off the little guys!

    Thanks so much for reading my rant!
    Hope you all have an awesome year!
    Scott

    • Joshua Sophy

      Fantastic insight, Scott! Sorry to hear that your experiences on Facebook have been terrible, to say the least. It definitely raises a lot more questions from my perspective.

      I hope your experiences and sharing them here will help fellow small business owners.

    • Same boat here, Scott. I’ve spent so much on Facebook ads with little return that I’m starting to wonder if it’s truly useful. My problem is I get annoyed with it and stop… then I’ll run another ad or boost a post a few weeks later to test the waters… and it’ll do “ok” with some clicks or engagement, so I’ll put more money into it or extend it… and then nothing. I’ll probably keep trying different targeting methods and combos and ad creatives / images / text / etc in the hopes that something sticks. I see value in it, I just wish it performed better for those of us on a budget.

    • Gail Gardner

      This is a major concern: “I targeted locally within 35 miles of my location…out of 35 new page likes, only one (1) was local and many of them were as far away as 150 miles”. Scott’s experience indicates that Facebook ads can’t be trusted.

      I had some success targeting only people within 25 miles who were interested in organic, blueberries or blackberries for a local organic berry farm. We only spent $10 at a time to limit the risk. All his buyers saw him on Facebook so we got some results. But you have to wonder what percentage of the people who saw the ads were local and correctly targeted.

      AdWords had serious issues with what pay-per-click (PPC) managers refer to as distribution fraud – probably still does. It sounds like Facebook does, too. I wrote a post around a video where someone identified the huge percentage of fake accounts following them in spite of them only spending money on Facebook to acquire the followers.

      Many people grow followings with post boosts, but that is a different goal than driving sales. Before I spent more money on Facebook ads, I would be studying what the top Facebook influencers claim works for them. Facebook experts to get advice from are Amy Porterfield, Mari Smith, Kim Garst, Emeric Ernoult and Kimberly Castleberry.

  5. For one thing, Weebly is a DIY site for those who are not fully invested in their businesses as those with a WordPress, Joomla, or other built and self-hosted websites.

    Secondly, those that run Facebook ads need to specifically target their ads by location, demographics, countries, states, cities, interests, etc. To say that an ad was targeted locally yet got likes from China says that the targeting was incorrect or the page has bought likes which kills reach.

    Third, for someone to say their business page posted to a group is impossible, as only personal Facebook profiles can post to a group. And if a link to a business was posted in a group and the poster can’t find the post, most likely the admin of the group deleted it.

    Facebook ads are useful to businesses if the ads are created well, targeted precisely, and use CPC instead of CPM. FB ads can be used to gain followers, lead generation, or promote clicks to websites. All these are spelled out when an ad is created. It is up to the creator of the ad to denote what they want to do.

    Marketing and advertising bring awareness and arouse interest of the business to potential consumers. M & A themselves are not sales. If the product or service is not purchased immediately, the small business owner blames Facebook instead of realizing that there is a time factor involved. Marketing/advertising is a long-haul process, not a magic bullet. In addition, social media marketing must be combined with other forms of marketing, both online and offline, with all the pieces integrated. Small local businesses also benefit from personal networking, writing, teaching, presenting, and getting outside the building to talk to customers and potential customers to learn if their product/service is viable.

    Facebook ads are beneficial to businesses if done correctly. I recommend Jon Loomer as a FB ads expert to learn from.

    • Joshua Sophy

      Thank you very much, Miller!

      I enjoyed reading your perspective on this. Obviously, we’re getting small businesses who’ve had a whole range of experiences using Facebook Ads.

  6. You mention “small businesses” but I think it all depends on what those small businesses are selling. I am in the translation industry and have been advised not to use Facebook ads as they do not work for my niche. Anyway, I am still willing to give it a try. If anyone has experience with this type of service and Fb ads, please share your experience with me.

    • Joshua Sophy

      Thank you very much for your thoughtful comment, Maria. Excellent points you’ve made here!

      Just like Facebook isn’t for everyone, it’s not for every business. Or perhaps Facebook isn’t the place to sell your product; rather, it could be a place where you engage customers and the public and share expertise.

      Personally, I could envision your business finding an audience on Facebook — but I don’t know if you’re going to sell anything DIRECTLY via Facebook. It could definitely enhance your brand awareness, which could eventually lead to sales. At the very least, it gets your brand in front of people that otherwise wouldn’t see it.

      I also think it’s important to know that this is a relatively new platform for any business, big or small, retail or service. Anyone that professes to have THE answer is probably just someone very confident in their opinions.

      Keep doing research and find the strategy that works best for your business.

  7. While I disagree with a previous comment and do think Weebly is a great solution for small businesses, this article is clearly a plug for their email marketing service.

    But more importantly, this article also fails to mention the three most important aspects of planning and running a successful Facebook advertising campaign: strategy, tracking systems, and ongoing testing and optimization.

    Any marketing activity – Facebook included – must have clear goals and objectives. If you’re just boosting posts or running “x% off” ads linked to your homepage to a certain demographic within a certain number of miles, you’re certainly going to get disappointing result and waste your money.

    You need a clear objective (Attract more clients to a pizza restaurant on Wednesday nights), a plan to help you achieve reach that objective (all pizzas are $5 on Wednesdays from 6pm until closing), a well-crafted offer with ye-catching visuals + creative headlines and ad copy, a dedicated landing page for the offer (not your website, unless your object is simply to increase your web traffic), and a system to track leads and sales. Your offer must also be relevant and speak to your customers, who Facebooks allows you to target with a lot more than geographic location and demographics.

    Once you have all that in place, you must test and monitor performance of everything aspect of your campaign to find out what is working and what’s not and why so you can make adjustment and test again.

    Facebook ads is without a doubt one of the most effective and inexpensive forms of advertising. Now that it has integrated Instagram and Messenger into its ad platform, the possibilities with Facebook ads are endless.

    I’ve seen small business owners run $5/day campaigns themselves and generate 8X results. Would you spend $5 to get $40 in return? How about $100 to get $800? Can you image consistently getting $8k for each $1k you spend on ads? Well, start small, test the crap out of it, find out what works, optimize, then scale.

    The DIY approach only works if you are willing to invest the time to learn, be creative, and experiment. Otherwise, get help from a professional.

    As a small business owner, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity if you’re not considering Facebook advertising. However, Facebook ads require ongoing work to improve results, refine your target audience, and get the best CPC possible. This is it’s not a set it and forget it type of thing.

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