For years we have all had the importance of Google AdWords drilled into us but times are changing (in all honesty they have been changing for a long time) so should your spending move with the times too?

Keywords have been the go-to tool since the internet began (well since Google did anyway) as the way to your website found and generate click-throughs but are they sill as effective following the launch of social media adverts?

Many people see the options as rivals, so believe that they have to invest in one or the other as part of their SEO and digital marketing strategy.

The reality though is that the two options can actually work hard in hard as part of an all-encompassing strategy.

By combining your spend you can achieve maximum visibility and increase your leads and sales by finding your potential customers, wherever they might be lurking online!

How do they differ?

Both Google AdWords and Facebook Ads have their own strengths and weaknesses and will help you achieve your goals in very different ways.

With Google, it’s all about Pay-Per-Click, otherwise known as paid searches as they use keywords and phrases to predominantly make up text-based adverts. Advertisers then pay when users click on the link and the amount depends on the amount bid.

Facebook, on the other hand, allows businesses to advertise their goods and services in the news feeds of ‘relevant’ people by paying a set amount based on a similar method to PPC.

When we talk about ‘relevant’ people, we mean those who are already interested in your business or what you offer, based on other pages they like and activities online.

Facebook remains the most used social media platform with 2.072 billion users (Statista), compared with just 330 million users on Twitter and 800 million on Instagram.

According to Statista 22% of the world’s total population now uses Facebook, including more than 50 million small businesses who use Facebook Pages to connect with their customers (Facebook). 4 million of those businesses pay for social media advertising on Facebook (Forbes).

A great line from Wordstream.com sums things up perfectly: “AdWords helps you find new customers, while Facebook helps new customers find you”.

Pro’s and Con’s

When it comes to SEO and your digital marketing strategy, unfortunately, there is no magic wand we can wave that guarantees you success and there will always be an element of trial and error. But at least if you know the pros and cons of the platforms you can give them a good go.

The giant of Google

Keeping Google onside is always a good idea, especially when you consider that 91.47% of all local searches start with the search engine. (http://gs.statcounter.com)

In total Google handles a whopping 100 billion searches every month (http://www.internetlivestats.com), so when you know that, how can you afford not to use it as part of your business plan?

As well as the traditional AdWords option, Google now also boasts the Google Display Network, which is a more visual option and includes banners, images and video adverts,

Since launching in 2000 Google AdWords has come a long way but fundamentally the aims and ambitions remain the same – to help you find new business, attract visitors to your website and convert more traffic into paying customers.

As well as letting you target customers just around the corner, AdWords also allows you to reach entire towns, regions and even countries. It also works well for specialist businesses because you can target niche audiences.

The ads are now not just on Google searches either, they include YouTube, Blogger and Gmail, as well as display ads, which are the ones that display things you have previously searched for across a variety of other sites you visit.

The big advantage AdWords has over Facebook and other social media marketing is that it allows you to “reach the right people at the right time”.

Your business gets found by people on Google precisely when they’re searching for the things that you offer which increases the likelihood of them acting on the results – offering you a better return on investment.

Facebook might have 2.01 billion monthly active users but Google handles more than 40,000 search queries every second (http://www.internetlivestats.com) and is showing no sign of let up.

So, whatever you do with your digital strategy and however you spend your budget you’d be foolish to ignore the huge potential of Google.

The new kid on the block

Facebook Ads might be the new kid on the block but with the huge backing of Mark Zuckerberg, some of the biggest businesses around and 2.072 billion members it’s no surprise to hear that they are forever evolving and destined to be a match for anyone they go up against.

There are 1.55 billion monthly active users using the network worldwide making it a great tool for businesses acting on both a local and global scale.

The fact that no one seems to think twice about putting their whole life on Facebook means it’s easy for algorithms to ensure your ads are put in front of the right people to get you the best return on your investment.

As well as creating very specific target audiences for your adverts the custom-built power editor also allows you to upload your own customer information, which will mean your adverts are seen by users who match your audience profile, allowing you to reach an array of customers who don’t yet know they want to find you.

Because of the visual style of Facebook, you can create a whole range of different looking adverts from sponsored posts to carousels and videos too.

Return on Investment

Facebook currently has the highest conversion rate for all social media e-commerce traffic at just under 2%.

So, it’s no surprise that according to research by emarketer 35.4% of total display advertising spending in the U.S.- $11.93 billion is with Facebook.

90% of all marketers also said their social media efforts have generated more exposure for their businesses (Social Media Examiner), while 83% of all marketers revealed that they are now actively pursuing social media marketing initiatives. (Aberdeen, 2016).

They also found that more than 95% of social media managers believe Facebook offers the best return.

You will have already noticed a huge drop in your organic reach on Facebook, a trend which is set to continue as the platform rewards those who spend money and penalise those who don’t.

If you already have your own ‘tribe’ then social media can still work for you without spending anything but if you’re still at the growing phase you will find it hard to make an impact if you’re not prepared to spend or even show willing.

The worry though is that as more businesses pay to advertise then the price will rise but it’s unlikely to reach the same levels as PPC.

Because you can be more specific with who sees your Facebook ads a narrowly targeted audience will always be cheaper than relying on keywords to be found.

So, you might be forgiven to be edging towards Facebook ads as your first port of call but these few stats might just tip the balance back.

Google owns 71% of the search market share (Netmarketshare.com), with their display campaigns reaching 80% of global internet users. (Google Benchmarks and Insights).

According to Specific Media consumers who are exposed to display ads are, on average, 155% more likely to search for brand- and segment-specific terms. (Specific Media)

But the biggest selling point of the lot surely has to be the fact that businesses make an average of $2 in revenue for every $1 they spend on AdWords. (Google Economic Impact Report)

Conclusion

So, in conclusion, the old adage – never put all your eggs in one basket – could never be truer than when it comes to digital marketing. Different options give different results but both will offer a valuable return on investment.

The most important thing is to be flexible and remain so, so you can track result and be ready to adjust your parameters until you achieve the results you hoped for.

Both AdWords and Facebook Ads make it easy to fine-tune your campaigns and play around with different headlines or messages until you get the best results.

You can also adjust your budget whenever you want to, so start small and when you’ve cracked your campaign then is the time to invest more.