ads

Please Stop Wasting Money On Facebook Ads

It seems harmless: why not ‘boost’ that Facebook post for $5?

But I’m here to tell you that not only is this a potential giant waste of money but of your time and effort.

The exercise I am going to propose you do is a complete buzz kill but I’ll do it with you to show you how important it is.

I think it’s important to think of the following numbers related to your business.

Average Sale Price
I have an ecommerce site. After paying credit card fees and expenses, I make about $2/order. (I’m not in it for the money, guys, and I have plans for it, I swear!)

Conversion Rate/Lead to Customer Rate
Of the roughly 3,000 people going to the site I’ve tracked, we’ve gotten 55 orders. So that’s a 1.8% conversion.

Ad Budget And Cost Per Click
Clearly I have some kind of budget per month (let’s say for round numbers $100) but I clearly don’t want to pay more for an ad than I am making so let’s say I’m willing to pay $1/click as a maximum bid.

So let’s stick this in a calculator, shall we? I used this one on Hubspot but just Google ‘Facebook ads calculator’ and you’ll find a ton. I adjusted the sliders and got my result:

It doesn’t take a genius to see that to buy Facebook ads, I am losing money. Which is why for this site I don’t.

And what’s great about the calculator thing is you can adjust certain variables. Like what if I lower the amount I’m willing to pay for a click to $0.50 instead of $1?

Wohoo, I’m losing less money! What if I made $5 per order instead of $2? What if I increased the conversion rate on my website (ie made sure more of our website visitors bought something)? I can see what changes actually move the needle and adjust my website and marketing strategy accordingly.

Now paying $5 for an extra 3,000 eyeballs (ie the boost) doesn’t force you to think about how effective your website is, how good your pricing is, and other admittedly more fundamental questions so I get why you’d do it. But please, stop handing Facebook money and spend ten minutes with a Facebook calculator and your actual numbers. It is totally worth your time as you might be doing a bang up job marketing but people get to your site and don’t buy. You can put lipstick on a pig but you know how that goes…

Why Not Everything Has To Be Profitable

I did this exercise with a potential client and she was totally deflated. She had been holding these low cost events (not unlike our $25/person workshops at Anchorspace) and wanted to advertise them… but with the exercise understood taking out ads would cost her more money than she’d make.

Now I could tell she loved the events so I didn’t tell her to not do the events. And I didn’t tell her not to advertise. What I did tell her is if she was going to keep doing her events, she’d have to stop looking at them as a moneymaker and instead think of them as a loss leader (getting people into her business where they buy other things) or marketing tool (something to get her name out there, regardless of whether people came or not). In other words, not everything you advertise has to make you money directly. But if it’s not making you money, you should have some other reason to do it that makes sense. 

(If you like this, I’m doing a Facebook workshop on Friday. You should come, virtually or in real life.)

Facebook Ads can be a great tool but I see so much wasted effort. By knowing your numbers, using a Facebook calculator, and having your non-revenue generating activities have another clear purpose, you will be spending your money and time more purposefully and effectively going forward. 

Thoughts on Google AdSense

After starting up my own personal blog, I started thinking about ways to make it a bit of a side hustle (oh, and Side Hustle School was inspiring as well). One of the ideas that kept coming up was Google AdSense, a way to display ads on your website.

The whole moral dilemma of whether or not to place ads on my blog is something I’ve grappled with and is ultimately a personal choice. Maybe someday I’ll decide to go back to being ad-free, but for now, I’m intrigued to see how lucrative this might be (for a fairly small website, I’m not anticipating a full paycheck but some rainy day funds would be cool).

The thing about AdSense — as with a lot of things pertaining to Google — is that a) it changes every so often, and b) you don’t necessarily have a lot of control over it.



To get started, you need a website, a Google account, and to visit Google AdSense. Fill out some preliminary information (name, website, etc), and Google will give you a code to copy and paste in your website’s header (don’t worry — they have some tutorials to help). Then, Google will ask you to confirm that the code is ready so they can “review your site.” Although Google tells you the review process can take up to 3 days, I heard back within day 1.

After that, you get taken to this lovely-looking dashboard.



So Google AdSense offers a few different displaying options for the ads. The relatively easy ones to add are Text & Display ads, In-Feed, and In-Article.

In-Feed and In-Article Ads are the ones you’ll see in between a list (feeds) or paragraphs (article). Arguably these are less distracting to your readers, but I have been confused by them before.

My first ad was a Text & Display Ad. This type of ad is probably the easiest with which to get started since all you have to do is copy and paste the code and add it … wherever! I chose to put my first one in my site’s sidebar, but I can play around with it or add more ads later. Sure, you could shove an ad in your footer, but the point is for people to see/click on it, so placement is important. It’s a fine line between putting it somewhere that isn’t completely annoying but remains somewhat attention grabbing.

This is what it looked like on the front end of my site. Yay Birchbox!

Other types of ads are Page Level ads. Anchor ads appear at the very bottom of a mobile screen, while vignette ads will appear while pages are still loading on your website. Quickstart ads are for both desktop and mobile. This cluster of ads will only appear on your website or a page on your website a) once you have added the code in the right spot and b) whenever Google thinks it’s a good time to show them. Meaning, Page Level Ads appear entirely at Google’s discretion.

Some things to keep in mind if you’re considering using AdSense:

  • If you’re a control-freak, this might not be a good option. While you can limit where the ads appear, you don’t necessarily get to control what’s being advertised (you can set up some restrictions, but this is another “Google decides” thing).
  • You may have to deal with code. Getting page-level ads to display on my website was a bit of a hassle because I had no idea where I was supposed to add the code. Fortunately, there are plenty of people who have decided to share their wisdom with the internet, so I figured it out with some research.
  • Once it’s set up, it seems fairly easy. Like anything, I’m sure I could do more, crazier things to optimize my Google AdSense. If you’re just looking to set something up and “coast” for a bit, that’s totally an option as well. (Keep in mind, Google likes to change things up every now and then so you may have to revisit every so often).



How Do Mom Bloggers Make Money?

Until recently, I was under the impression that most moms who blogged did it just to hear themselves talk. But now that I have my own personal blog and will soon be a mother, I’m realizing that isn’t the case at all.

Most mom bloggers are actually making money with their blog. Plus, it allows them to stay at home most of the time, do something they enjoy, and raise their kids. I definitely see the benefits.

These women may also be looking to make some money during maternity leave, which is not always paid for in the U.S. (I just read an interesting article about women who are using crowdfunding to allow them to go on maternity leave without worrying about money).



But how does a mom blogger make money? There are a few different options:

Ads. Back in the day of mom-blog Dooce, bloggers made a good chunk of money using banner ads. This article explains why that became basically extinct as a money making option, thanks to the rise of mobile.

Today, tools such as Google AdSense, BlogHer, and Media.net work as middlemen, connecting you to companies looking to advertise. The flipside, especially when using tools like Google Adsense, is that you’re at the mercy of how they decide to set up the advertising. For example, Google Adsense just gives you a code to copy and paste into your website’s header. You don’t have any customization options (or any control over whether Google decides to display any ads at all).

Want to learn more about the different types of online ads in detail? Check out our Online Ads 101 blog post series!

Sponsored Posts. Sponsored posts have become popular in recent years with mom bloggers looking to generate income. The posts usually are formulated after a larger brand connects with a blogger to create some sort of offer, in exchange for product/service promotion. A lot of these brands also have programs that bloggers and others can apply to participate.

Most sponsored post bloggers are paid to write the post (which may have to meet certain rules/guidelines), no matter how many sales are generated afterward. Many bloggers will disclose to readers at the beginning of the blog post if it is sponsored (some consider this a matter of ethics). This article explains that a sponsored post’s primary goal is brand awareness; actual sales are secondary.

Aforementioned mom blogger from Dooce discusses her personal reasons for not going the sponsorship route: “The problem is I have to give my readers what they want, I have to give the brand what they want, and I have to be authentic to who I am.” Pleasing everyone in this instance can be tricky, and it makes sense that this model is not for everyone.



Affiliates. Affiliate programs’ monetary arrangements differ from sponsored posts. The blogger is usually given a specific link or code for their readers, and if someone makes a purchase within a certain timeframe (often 7-28 days), the blogger gets a certain percent of the sale.

This might be more mutually beneficial because payment only occurs when a purchase is made. The blogger may also have a bit more freedom when it comes to sharing the affiliate link.

As with a sponsored post, the writer could create one or more posts dedicated to the affiliate brand, sharing the unique offer at the end of the post. If that feels uncomfortable, they could also create a widget/button on their website that links to the affiliate. Another idea for multiple affiliates is to create a landing page of all affiliate websites (which more or less just shoves them all in the same area).  As long as the blogger is within the guidelines of the affiliate program, there can be more wiggle room in how it’s marketed.

Another idea for multiple affiliates is to create a landing page of all affiliate websites (which more or less just shoves them all in the same area).  As long as the blogger is within the guidelines of the affiliate program, there can be more wiggle room in how it’s marketed.

Creating a Product/Service. This involves a more active approach to generating income, meaning there has to be some product or service offered to readers. In order to make it profitable, the readers, in turn, have to perceive the product as something valuable.

In this Penny Hoarder article, mom blogger Suzi Whitford discusses how she gave up her engineering job to be a stay at home mom, but still wanted to contribute in order to offset household expenses. So she started her version of a lifestyle blog, but with a spin (honestly, I think this could easily be an episode of Side Hustle School). She first created an ebook to help people start their own blogs, and later created online courses. People could purchase these on her website.

There are plenty of options for mom or other lifestyle bloggers when it comes to making money. Part of the decision-making process is knowing what type of experience you want to provide readers (i.e. if you want them to experience an ad-free website), and being clear about your mission.

Stay tuned for more posts about mom blogs and bloggers coming this month!



How Pregnancy Has Made Me a Target

…For online ads, that is.

Although I didn’t make a public announcement until recently, targeted ads still found out, and kept appearing on my Facebook and Instagram feeds. But, if I hadn’t told anyone yet, how did the internet already know I was pregnant?

Soon after finding out, I downloaded two apps, BabyCenter and What to Expect (both fairly popular). I also started a registry online. Several online articles say that this combination of app downloading and browsing history made the announcement happen a little earlier- not to actual humans, but to the internet. (Side note: I did almost accidentally make a semi-public announcement to the internet via Pinterest when I mindlessly pinned a pregnancy related article to a board I thought was private- whoops). There’s a creepy Big Brother vibe to it.



Here are some of the more interesting targeted ads I’ve seen go by:

Exhibit A: Ovia, a Pregnancy & Baby Tracker This is a screenshot from my phone, which I’d normally crop but knowing this was a mobile ad vs desktop is important. As mentioned earlier, I already have two similar apps downloaded on my phone (from the App Store, not through a link on Facebook).

Admittedly, I did decide to download it because it’s more interactive than other apps (allowing you to track weight gain, keep track of meals and moods, look up symptoms- I can’t tell you how many times I’ve Googled “Is ____ normal during pregnancy,” and size comparisons that aren’t just food based). Size comparisons include fruits & veggies, Parisian Bakery, Fun & Games, and Weird-but-cute animals (guess what I chose?) So, this was a sponsored ad success.

Unfortunately, I don’t actually know how big a Roborovski Hamster is, but I’m still having fun.

 

Exhibit B: Carousel Designs. This was a desktop ad that appeared in my Facebook newsfeed as I took a break from registry building (which, I’ve found requires some breaks). I didn’t give it more than a passing glance because I was on a baby shopping break, but for purposes of this post I did some follow up.

The link redirects to babybedding.com, which makes sense because it’s entirely crib/nursery related. I’m not in any position to design a nursery right now, due to figuring out space and not knowing if it’s a boy or girl yet.

Exhibit C) Preggo Leggings The timeline for this ad is interesting. Not only did it coincide with browsing for maternity clothing, it also appeared after being put in a Lularoe Legging group on Facebook. I’m not really sure which one triggered this particular ad (probably the maternity clothes), but here we are.

I didn’t click through this ad because I’m kind of burnt out on the online world of leggings right now. The internet may have a good eye for search history, but that doesn’t mean it has perfected it’s timing. It did seem like they were a bit more expensive than I’m willing to pay for an article of clothing I can only wear for another 5ish months, and with all the other stuff that I have to worry about, leggings aren’t very high on the list.

Exhibit D: Babiesfan Fun fact, I can’t actually find anything online about this sponsored ad, and I didn’t click on the link in Instagram. I’m kind of regretting that now, though, since this pillow is looking heavenly on a Friday afternoon. (I am thinking while some pregnancy offerings are more niche, like the leggings, this pillow may be a more universally appealing item.) This was my first Instagram targeted ad, and I’m sure more will follow.

Finally, this isn’t really an ad, but an interesting notification from one of the baby apps. It’s a light inactivity notification (“Hey, you haven’t posted anything to Instabookchat in awhile. Let your friends know what you’re up to”). Since I don’t really ‘participate’ in the app, apart from reading the daily tips and seeing the cool weekly progress updates (I’m not sure why fruits and vegetables are the go-to scale for size updates, but that could be a blog post of it’s own), Babycenter was giving me a bit of a nudge.

I’m not sure how I feel about being low key shamed by a robot for already not participating enough in mom activities, but for what it’s worth I did take a look into the group forums. Unfortunately I got sucked into reading a lot of “Here is everything that can go wrong” discussions, and decided to stick with the daily tips section instead.

So, if you’re pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or just curious, the body isn’t the only thing that changes- your internet might start to look a little different, too. But remember that you can customize the internet to see less of the ads, notifications, and other personalized online experiences so you can be as comfortable as possible, whether you have a baby at the avocado stage or just had guacamole for lunch.

Online Reviews: An Introduction

Last year, I packed up my family and moved us to a new apartment, a process I liken to having a root canal, only with less sitting, fewer painkillers and far more cursing. I hired movers for the job, and was pretty impressed with their humor, chill attitude, and the fact that one of the guys kept right on working despite needing to bandage a wound on his palm with paper towel and duct tape.

Yes, I tipped, but then they told me that if I was really happy to give them a review on Facebook. This was a first for me, but it made sense. This was a Maine micro business at its core, just starting out. Online reviews were pretty critical in generating good word-of-mouth.

Making your own business available to online reviews is a double-edged sword. The folks at Yelp acknowledge this on their guidelines for responding to reviews: “Negative reviews can feel like a punch in the gut. We care deeply about our business too, and it hurts when someone says bad things about our business. For you founders and sole proprietors out there, a negative review can even feel like a personal attack.”

Sometimes a business can do everything right, but there may be no pleasing a customer who has had a terrible day, perhaps because he’s just spent the entire week DRIVING AROUND A MOVING VAN THAT GETS 5 MILES TO THE GALLON AND WOULD IT HAVE KILLED YOU TO INCLUDE THE EXTRA SAUCE IN HIS TAKE OUT ORDER LIKE HE ASKED?!?! ONE STAR!!!!!!!!

Sorry about that flashback.



The point being, is it worth buying into online ads? Yes, but it takes courage.

Unlike traditional print reviews written by critics, online reviews keep coming, and coming and coming, so long as internet-savvy folks keep using your products or services. The advantage of this is that each day is another day to get it right, to improve your weaknesses and build upon your strengths. Here are a few more popular choices to get you started in this brave new world:

Yelp is enormously popular, having garnered more than 115 million reviews last year. Making money off ad revenue, Yelp is free for both the business itself and for consumers. Seemingly everything — from local restaurants to doctors, from prisons to showgirl supply stores — gets reviewed through their website or mobile app.

The company uses an algorithm to  weed out fake reviews or reviews written by owners about their own businesses. Yelp’s relations with small businesses hasn’t always been rosy, as owners have complained that the algorithm weeds out positive review and leaves negative ones. Yelp admits its algorithm isn’t perfect, but the company has become so ubiquitous, so popular since its 2004 founding that utilizing Yelp makes still makes sense.

Facebook reviews are a pretty organic extension of your existing business’s page. And it makes all the sense in the world to utilize this free service. As we’ve noted before, 79 percent of American adults who use the Internet use Facebook.

Like Yelp, you can respond to reviews positive and negative. Search Engine Journal also notes that Facebook reviews will be giving Yelp a run for its money, in part, because Facebook is already integral to our everyday lives: “Facebook is a platform that nearly everyone uses on a daily basis. We use it to document our lives, connect with friends through Messenger and check into businesses. It’s the one-stop shop for us to get everything we need to get done, from collecting information about our friends, finding news and stories to read and to watch cat videos.”

Google, like Facebook, is seemingly everywhere. Similarly, it only makes sense to integrate product and service reviews with the search engine giant, especially considering how powerful and important Google Maps has become for finding, well, anything.

Our theme for February is “Loving Your Favorite Businesses Online.” Leaving a review, whether on Yelp, Facebook, Google, or elsewhere, is one way to give a business a boost. Stay tuned for other ways you can share the love this month!



Tech Thursday: Podcasts

This Tech Thursday, Nicole is solo and talking about podcasts: one of her addictions. How do people make money podcasting? How has podcast popularity changed in the last few years? What are some of Nicole’s favorites? It’s all in this video!

(Here’s the link referenced talking about podcast audiences in 2015.)



1 2 3