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| 7 min read

Facebook Advertising: When is the right time to start?

Written by Daniel Watts

When is the right time to start advertising on Facebook?

This is a pretty common question for marketers and business owners involved in early stage startups.

In the early stages of starting a business you need to work out what you can do to really accelerate your growth. What is going to give you the best return for the least effort? (Matt Lerner has written a great blog about how to actually apply this mindset to marketing).

So, before we commit to making the investment in Facebook advertising, we need to understand when is the right time to achieve maximum impact with minimal wasted time and money.

If you have all of your ducks in a row then Facebook advertising has the potential to take your business up several levels in a very short period of time. That’s a big ‘if’ though.

From the 100+ businesses we’ve worked with over the past few years, here are the key things you need to have at least considered before you add paid Facebook advertising to the mix.

YOU HAVE PRODUCT MARKET FIT

This is the big one. There are many ways of defining it, but we’ve boiled it down to this question:

Are you running a sustainable business, that is growing organically and bringing in revenue with little or no paid marketing?

If you are, then you are solving a problem that consumers are actually experiencing and your product is viable.

When you are getting decent amounts of traffic and making good revenue largely organically then you are in a very strong position to start paid marketing on Facebook.

You will have enough customer data from which to build lookalike audiences, enough organic traffic to retarget (this will be your most profitable audience) and the luxury of not having all your revenue coming from paid advertising, meaning you have the flexibility to test lots of different approaches on the channel without harming your business in the short term.

If you can say yes to this, you’re 80% of the way there.

YOUR CONVERSION FUNNEL IS OPTIMISED

Is it easy for someone to move through the conversion funnel on your website or app and give you their money?

We’re not saying that you need to have Google Optimise installed and be running weekly A/B tests, that’s not realistic for most resource-strapped startups, but you just need to have applied the common best practices for optimising website conversion.

If you have a decent amount of organic traffic coming in you will be able to test making a few changes your product page, cart page or checkout to make sure that you aren’t making it unnecessarily difficult for someone to buy your product.

I’m not going to write a blog about Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) here, but these are a few key things to keep in mind:

 

> Does your website load fast, even on poor connections?

Load speed is the single biggest factor in determining your conversion rate. Just a couple of seconds difference can double your bounce rate. Google recommends a 0.5s load speed, but get it as fast as possible. 

“No matter what, faster is better and less is more”. Read more about it from Google here.

 

> How many clicks does it take for someone to move from product page to payment?

Think Amazon’s “buy now” feature, it takes as little as 4 clicks to purchase at times. Bloom & Wild are another example of a pretty remarkable, almost hands-free path to conversion. It’s *almost* a pleasure to part with money on their site.

 

> Do you clearly articulate what you are offering on both your homepage and product pages?

Say it simply.

Do a 5 second test on some random people in a coffee shop and use the feedback to improve your messaging and site structure. Both of these can be changed on most sites without need for a developer, so really make the most of the flexibility that the likes of Shopify and WordPress give you.

Qualitative feedback is king in CRO, so if you aren’t getting enough traffic to survey site visitors, this is a great place to start.

 

> Have you looked at the big players in your space and analysed what they are doing?

They have likely spent a lot of time running tests on their home and product pages, so don’t be afraid to imitate their website structure.

One of my colleagues uses the anecdote of imagining your website as a physical store. You wouldn’t block the door with a sofa, put the products in random places and not tell your visitors what you’re selling and why it’s great.

CRO is just applying common sense to the user journey. Make it easy for someone to understand your value.

YOU HAVE HAPPY CUSTOMERS

If you have happy customers and great feedback on your product, it is the right time to get it in front of a larger audience.

This will mean that for every product you sell via paid you will get the additional benefit of increasing the rate it spreads via word of mouth, increasing how fast you grow exponentially.

YOU HAVE A BASIC ATTRIBUTION METHOD IN PLACE

Finally, if you’re going to start paying for marketing, you need to be in a position to understand where the value is coming from.

This is a big topic, but it isn’t difficult to get something rudimentary in place to begin understanding your marketing mix.

Facebook Attribution is a good place to start as it uses people based tracking (which is far superior to the cookie based tracking in Google Analytics) to give you data across all of your channels (primarily Facebook and Google) on lots of different attribution models and windows.

Another good piece of advice would be to add one paid channel at a time, that way you have a baseline to work from. If your business starts growing at a much faster rate after turning on Facebook ads and you can be confident it’s not seasonal, then you know that they are working.

You can then take the time to build out something more complex that is relevant to your business once you have achieved scale across multiple channels.

If you want to learn a bit more about how a more advanced growth marketer would go about attributing value to their paid marketing, this presentation from Matt Horiuchi, the Head of Paid Acquisition at Calm, gives some great insights into where to start.

TO WRAP IT UP

These are just a few things to consider when you’re looking to begin Facebook advertising for the first time. You by no means have to be 100% on all of these, but having a plan in place to execute on them will really help set your business up for profitable growth in the long term.

If you’ve got any questions or you’re after some more advice on whether now is the right time to start advertising, get in touch and we will be more than happy to answer any questions you have. Drop me a line at tom@bark.london

At Bark.London, properly growing businesses online is what excites us most. Let us worry about it all for you, so you can get back to focusing on being a business-owner. Contact us.

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Bark.London is a specialist Facebook advertising agency, here to help accelerate your business’s growth with best-in-class Facebook and Instagram ads.

Whether it’s increasing sales, maximising revenue growth to secure investment, capturing qualified leads or building brand awareness and recognition, we care about one thing: getting results for the companies we partner with.

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