If you’re a local business owner or operator, you most likely have a million things to worry about and learning how to run effective Facebook ads may not be too high on that list. Why? Because folks who attempt to run ads in Facebook’s Business Manager are often overwhelmed by the number of options and the surprising complexity of the platform. However, there is a Facebook ad campaign type that specifically allows local businesses to run ads in their general area, and rather easily. Previously labelled “local awareness,” the “store traffic” campaign objective in Facebook Ads Manager can attract ideal customers to your business, increase local brand awareness, and help you meet your sales targets.
In this post I will be discussing how to:
As with any successful Facebook ad campaign, you’ll need to choose your objective, set up your campaign, selecct your budget optimization method, configure your Ad Set, define your targeting and parameters, and choose placements; so let’s walk through those steps for local ads.
Facebook has a plethora of advertising campaign objectives and options. This is due to the fact that all kinds of businesses use the platform to market their products and services and each of them has specific goals and nuances as to what they’re looking to achieve from advertising. There are strategies to leverage these different campaign types in various ways, but for a local business just looking to drive awareness, there is one campaign type you should focus on to start: store traffic.
Previously called “local awareness,” the “store traffic” campaign objective affects not only how your ads are served but also how they look to the user when they are delivered across Facebook’s digital landscapes. The primary purpose of this objective is to showcase your local business to individuals within a desired proximity to its physical location(s). The advantage here is that it gives you a lot more options in terms of targeting and reach than something like traditional print advertising would give you. There is also more flexibility with your ad’s call to action, which I will touch upon later in the post.
To get your Facebook local ad campaign up and running, you’ll want to select the “+Create” button in your Facebook Ads Manager campaign tab. From there, you’ll want to select the “store traffic” campaign objective from the list as shown below. You will then be prompted to name your campaign.
Next, you’ll be asked to choose whether you want the budget optimization to be controlled at the campaign level or the ad set level. For simplicity’s sake I suggest setting the budget optimization at the campaign level. By choosing this, you simply tell Facebook how much you want to spend on your ads per day.
You also have the ability to select a lifetime budget for your ads, but you will have to specify the window of time that you want them to run.
After inputting your desired budget, proceed to the Ad Set configuration step by selecting “next” at the bottom of the screen. The Ad Set layer of a campaign is where you control all the targeting and basic settings of your campaign. At this level, you’ll want to select your business page and the physical “store” location:
If your store location does not auto-populate, or if you want to add multiple locations, select “Create a New Store Set.”
After establishing the locations of your brick-and-mortar business(s), you can then begin to build out the specifics of your targeting. By scrolling down the page you can select a start date (and end date if you choose to do so). You also have the option to create an offer. By choosing this option, you will be prompted to create the offer within the UI:
You will then want to scroll down to the demographic targeting area. This is where the true power of Facebook comes into play. You have the ability to refine your audience by age, gender, and a plethora of interest and behavioral components. For example, let’s say you own a dance school and wish to target parents of young children who would likely be interested in signing up. You would do so by simply searching and selecting the parameters you are looking for, as shown below:
You have the ability to narrow this audience further, but keep in mind that this may make your audience very small. You want to avoid making your audience too small for a variety of reasons, the primary one being that the store traffic campaign objective serves ads by default on a “daily unique reach” basis. What this means is that Facebook will deliver your ads to individuals within your specified audience once per day. If your audience is too small it will be unlikely that your campaign will serve efficiently or reach the desired budget threshold. Some businesses have the ability to optimize the delivery of their campaigns for “store visits” but according to Facebook, only a small number of advertisers currently have been selected to have this capability.
Another detail to take note of is that some placements were temporarily unavailable for store traffic objective ads due to COVID-19—they were only appearing in the Facebook News Feed. This restriction may or may not still be in place, depending on the time of your reading this post. If it is still in place, it means that you may not have the ability to serve your ads across Facebook’s other placements such as the right column, instant articles, etc. For that reason, selecting “automatic placements” should be sufficient.
After defining your targeting parameters, it will be time to start actually creating your local ads. Ideally you’ll want to create 3-4 ad variations and no more than 5 for a given Ad Set. This is because of the way that Facebook’s algorithm delivers, learns, and optimizes for performance. Get started by giving your ad a name and selecting your Facebook business page and Instagram business profile if you have one. You have the option to choose the primary page, or if you have multiple locations you can choose to have the local pages represented in the ads:
You then have the ability to choose the ad format —whether it be a single image, video, carousel, or collection. If you need guidance here, we have a post that takes an in-depth look at the different Facebook ad creative types and specs. What’s great about the carousel option for store traffic is that you have the option to include a map card showing your businesses location:
When it comes to store traffic ads, the primary differentiator from a creative perspective is the ability to use calls to action unavailable in other campaign types:
Having the ability to create “call now”, “get directions”, and “send message” calls to action within a single campaign is rather unique to the store traffic objective. This grants you the freedom to test a variety of strategies with your ads by sending traffic to your website or connecting you directly to potential customers via a direct message or a phone call.
Setting your ads up within Facebook’s platform is a critical step towards driving more awareness and foot traffic to your local business. However, digital paid advertising is far from a “set it and forget it” course of action. Ensuring that your ads are performing to the best of their ability takes consistent observation, optimization, and testing. Let’s run through some of the key areas you should focus on while running ads in order to make the most out of your budget:
Daily Spend: Due to the physical limitations of targeting people locally, you’ll want to ensure that your campaign is spending the amount you have specified within the settings per day. If the campaign is understanding or struggling to reach the daily limit then it may be an indication that the audience is too small or the spend limit is too high.
Ad Fatigue: When assessing the performance of your ads over time, there are two primary metrics you can observe in order to gauge whether or not your ads need to be refreshed. The first being frequency over a period of time and the second being volume of link clicks over time. Both of these Facebook ad metrics can be viewed when selecting the “columns” button and then subsequently selecting “performance and clicks”
Frequency represents how many times your ads have been served to an individual user over a period of time and link clicks represent how many users have clicked through. If you are experiencing a high level of frequency after having run your ads for days or weeks in addition to witnessing link clicks decreasing over that same period, it may be time to refresh your ad creative to that audience.
Running paid ads on Facebook may be intimidating for many local businesses, but once you familiarize yourself with the platform, you will find that it’s rather easy to use. The more you practice running ads to drive traffic to your business, the better at it you will inevitably become. Most of what drives success on digital platforms is derived from the experience you gain from testing different ad copy and creative variations over time. No one knows the value of your business better than you do, so it’s likely the odds of success are in your favor.
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