Thanks to social audiences, how-to resources, and social media platforms that are all larger in number than ever before, social media ads are increasingly accessible to businesses of all sizes. You can choose to run campaigns on Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, Twitter Ads, Promoted Pins, and more.
Despite this, I’ve seen a lot of small businesses saying that social media ads are too expensive.
Social media ads can be expensive. There are businesses spending $10,000 (and more) on Facebook Ads every month. Here’s the thing, though: they don’t have to be.
While social media ads will always be an investment like any other type of marketing, they can be affordable, and you can get great results with them while staying within your budget. In this post, we’re going to look at 5 different ways to get results with social media ads without breaking your budget.
1. Calculate What Conversions Are Actually Worth
If you want to get social media ads that aren’t too expensive, the first thing you need to do is realize how much you’re willing to pay for each result you could get. If, for example, you get 3 conversions for $2.48 a piece, is it worth it?
This is easy to evaluate when the conversions you’re looking to gain are sales. A $2.48 conversion for a $15 sale would be worth it, for most businesses. But what about when you get a lead for $2.48 a piece, or a click to your website, or an offer redeemed? And what about purely social campaigns, like those to increase engagement?
When the conversion or desired action doesn’t produce a result with an immediately clear monetary value, businesses can end up not knowing what a conversion would be worth to them, and it’s easy to spend way too much money on social ads in the process.
Each type of ad objective (and the accompanying desired action that you want users to take) has its own factors to consider. If you want to calculate what a lead is worth, you can compare the cost of the conversion to how much the average customer lifetime value is. Offers should have the discount value added into the cost of conversion when looking at how much profit you’ll be making in your bottom line.
Depending on what you choose to optimize for and what platform you’re running your campaign on, you may be charged for clicks on ads even if you don’t get actual conversions. This should be considered, too.
Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, and Promoted Pins are some of the platforms that let you set a maximum bid per conversion/click, which can ensure that you’ll never spend more than what you’ve deemed a conversion to be worth.
2. Choose an End Date
Setting an end date for your campaign is one of the best things you can do to keep your social media ads from costing too much. All social media ad platforms mentioned in this post allow you to choose an end date, in which your ad will automatically stop running. Your ad spend will be divided almost equally between these days (unless you change that—some platforms allow you to opt for day-parting).
Choosing an end date guarantees that you won’t forget about your ad and let it continue to run on and deplete resources. I once had a client who forgot to send an end date and ended up spending $10 a day for 56 days and got few results after the middle of the second week. He’d only intended (and had the budget) to run the campaign for two weeks. Even if a campaign runs only for a few days more than planned, this can still eat into your ad spend and send you over budget quickly.
It’s also advantageous for the reason that most campaigns aren’t profitable forever—engagement, clicks, and conversions typically drop off at some point. You can always end these campaigns sooner if you choose to.
3. Choose Your Budget Type Wisely
All platforms will let you decide your maximum budget. In some cases, this is a daily budget, where no more than your allotted amount of ad spend will be spent per day. You can also use a maximum lifetime budget, where the ad spend will be distributed as equally as possible throughout a scheduled campaign, or until the ad spend is used up if there is no end date set.
If you’re going to let your campaign progress without scheduling an end date (which some businesses do like to do), a lifetime budget has both pros and cons. It can be advantageous because it will guarantee that you’ll never spend more than your budget allows for that campaign, which is especially helpful if you forget that the campaign is running (see scenario discussed in the section above). On the downside, this lifetime budget might get used up faster than you’d have liked, and then you’re out of ad spend.
Some platforms let you customize how you want your budget to be allocated even further. Twitter Ads, for example, lets you set both a lifetime budget and a daily maximum, giving you more control over how your total budget is spent.
4. Never Run a Campaign on Autopilot
It’s easy to create a campaign, submit it, and let it run, especially when we’ve set end dates or maximum budgets or when we have multiple ad campaigns running across multiple platforms. Even if we have measures in place that would theoretically let campaigns run on autopilot, it’s still important to monitor your campaigns daily.
Some of our campaigns just won’t be as successful as others; sometimes there’s no obvious reason to it, and it just comes down to user preference. If we’re not closely monitoring the campaigns, we may not see this, allowing a campaign to run and burn up ad spend even though it has lackluster results from the beginning.
Even campaigns that start out strong, need to be monitored. Great results can taper off faster than we’d think, and we never want to lose the ROI from a great campaign by letting it run too long. Monitoring your campaigns closely will allow you to watch for dips in engagement, negative responses, or lots of clicks but no conversions. When this happens, stop or change the campaign immediately.
All platforms with ad campaigns allow you to see the amount of engagement, clicks, and/or conversions you’re getting on your campaigns. Facebook Ad’s frequency metric, which tells you how many times the same user is seeing your ad, is a particularly helpful one to watch.
5. Split Test
We talk about split testing all the time on AdEspresso, and regardless of which social media platforms you’re running ad campaigns on, it’s unbelievably important. Split testing will allow you to quickly identify what your customers are responding to so that you can produce more relevant and more profitable campaigns in the future.
Split testing will also increase the likelihood that you’ll distribute a campaign that will perform better than another. When you see which is performing better, you can stop one campaign and dedicate the whole ad spend to the other, more successful ad. This will help you get better results for the same cost.
To see more about split testing and how it can bring you better results (and save you money), you can check out our guide here.
6. Never Spend More Than You Can Afford to Lose
Any and all types of marketing are an investment but never a guarantee, and this should never be forgotten. Because of this, you should never spend more on any campaign than you can comfortably afford to lose. Small and medium-sized businesses often have more limited resources than large corporations, and the risk of the cost advertising is a little higher for them.
While it would be great to spend $300 on clicks to your site and sell $10,000 in products, what happens if you spend $300 on clicks but you only sell $250? Some businesses can’t afford to lose that $50, and it’s not uncommon for businesses (particularly those new to Facebook Ads) to occasionally lose money on an ad campaign here or there.
If one campaign doesn’t work, you can always run another, and that one might be more profitable. Or maybe another platform will have more of your audience members on it, or offer conversions at a better cost per action. Whenever possible, try not to devote your entire ad spend onto just one campaign, and never spend more than you can afford to lose.
Social media ads can be expensive, and they should be viewed as an investment instead of guaranteed income.
That being said, many businesses have found the cost of social media ads on multiple platforms to be worthwhile for their business. With the right measures in place, you can get amazing results with your social media ads without ever going over budget.
For more information about social media ad costs, you can view our data on Facebook and Instagram ads cost here, a case study about Twitter ads cost here, and a case study on Pinterest promoted pins cost here.
What do you think?