Google and Facebook are two of the most powerful digital advertising platforms available to businesses. Both reach huge population segments and operate on a ‘pay per click’ basis, where advertisers only pay when the user clicks on their advertisement. If the user doesn’t click, the advertiser doesn’t pay.
I manage the Google and Facebook Advertising accounts for several customers, and I have seen both platforms succeed and fail. Here’s my take on what works and what doesn’t, based on the data I’ve seen from my customers’ campaigns.
Buyers and Browsers
Which is better, Facebook or Google? I’m asked this question almost weekly.
My response, in a nutshell, is ‘it depends.’
Facebook is exceptionally good at finding browsers—those who are considering different ways to resolve a problem or obtain a desired outcome.
Google is exceptionally good at finding buyers—those who have decided they want to apply a specific solution to resolve a problem or obtain a desired outcome. The buyers have determined how much money and time they will apply to achieve their outcome.
Just so we are clear in my definition; there are two states of mind; those who:
- Are considering different solutions; and,
- Have decided on a specific solution and budget.
Attracting a browser to your website is a good thing. They may subscribe to your mailing list, bookmark your page, or otherwise engage with your site. Email marketing is very powerful and is a very high-converting traffic source. The caveat is that the business must be committed to continuous email content generation that nurtures the email list toward purchase.
Attracting buyers is also good because they may choose to give you their money. Buyers tend to search with specific intentions. For example, they may search for an apartment in Westboro (neighbourhood), rather than an apartment in the City of Ottawa, which contains the Westboro neighbourhood.
Best of Both Worlds: Use Both Google and Facebook Advertising
In a perfect world, businesses would have the resources to advertise on both Facebook and Google. Facebook would pull the masses and generate email signups, while Google would bring the buyers to your door.
For a few of my customers, advertising on both platforms was possible, which allowed me to determine how well these platforms worked together. Here’s one example one of my customers experienced:
Facebook Vs. Google Mini Case Study
Hintonburg Connection is a new premium high rise apartment building in Ottawa’s Hintonburg neighbourhood. The building is professionally managed by Colonnade BridgePort.
While the building was under construction, the advertising objective was to build an email subscription list to target potential residents when the building opened. A secondary objective aimed to get subscribers to make a phone call or submit an email to a member of the leasing team immediately.
For the email subscription goal to be considered complete, a subscriber had to provide their name and email address.
For the contact request, there was considerably more commitment required on the part of the subscriber. The Subscriber needed to fill out a form with their name, phone number, email and desired suite type. Plus, there was the expectation the person would spend time on the phone speaking with the leasing agent.
Facebook ads were tracked in Google Analytics using UTM codes. Google Ads were tracked in Google Analytics with Auto Tagging turned on.
We advertised on both Facebook and Google. Spending slightly more on Google search advertising, and the geographic targeting was the same for each.
Facebook excelled at getting the email signups. Google excelled at getting the contact requests—remember it’s harder to get contact requests than email signups.
In October 2019, Hintonburg Connection opened and began accepting live viewings with a leasing agent. The email list signup was disabled, and the primary advertising objective was to get people to book an appointment with a leasing representative to view the model suite.
We kept the spend and geo targeting the same for both Facebook and Google Search advertising. The results were stunning:
Google’s performance at generating sales leads was significantly stronger. The cost per sales lead was 35% lower than Facebook.
Other observations of Facebook versus Google
- Facebook brought a higher volume of website visitors that Google.
- Facebook brought more new users to the website than Google.
- Facebook had a higher bounce rate (percentage of people who viewed landing page and left the site) than Google.
Application of the Experience
When it was time for Colonnade’s next apartment building opening, 1960 Scott Street, we applied our experience. During the pre opening phase of gathering email subscribers we spent more heavily on Facebook. And then as we switched to actively leasing units, we applied more spend to Google Search Ads.
Dental Office Stopped Facebook Advertising
A small dental office I work with was doing both Google search ads and Facebook ads. After six months, they stopped the Facebook ads because their cost per lead was too high (form completion was $108, versus Google Search at $59).
They too experienced high traffic volumes and bounce rates.
Getting the Word Out Quickly on Facebook
Another customer used Facebook to announce a new product. Their goal was to reach as many people as quickly as possible about the new product. Facebook reached far more people much faster than Google.
Facebook Advertising worked better on softer commitments like email signups
My experience advertising with Google search and Facebook has shown me that Facebook is particularly good at reaching a lot of people quickly. It’s good at driving traffic to your website and getting people to make small commitments, like subscribing to an email list.
In short: Facebook advertising generates a lot of traffic and small commitments, but results in very few leads or sales.
Why Facebook excels at smaller user commitments
Typically, Facebook users leisurely scroll through their feeds to see what friends are doing, and to relax. They click on ads that intrigue them, but most are not in the mood to do a lot of thinking and analyzing, or especially to make large commitments, such as committing time to go to a leasing office or make a purchase.
If the Facebook user has an interest, they will complete a quick mailing list form, because that fits with their relaxed mood.
Google Search Advertising works better on the ‘Money Commitments’
It’s been my experience with customers advertising on both Facebook and Google that Google brings in the money. The user is typically ‘Googling a problem’ because they are looking for a solution. In this way, they are in the mood to listen, especially when a seller has the solution to their problem. And when they find the solution, they’re more willing to make that bigger commitment or purchase.
Is Google Search Advertising Better than Facebook Ads?
These two platforms are built for different objectives. In my opinion, Facebook excels at softer commitments like email signups and getting large volumes of people to your website quickly. Google search is made to get buyers to find you. It excels at getting people who are actively searching and ready to buy your product or service to your website.
The key for small- and medium-sized businesses with restrictive budgets is to make it clear what they want users to do after they land on their website.
Why decline so many Facebook advertising request
Unfortunately, many businesses lack the resources to advertise on both Facebook and Google. Their budgets force them to choose one over the other. In order for a Facebook advertising campaign to be successful, a business needs to have the email or content marketing in place or be willing to build it. That’s a significant commitment, which can be difficult on a small budget. In my experience, those who want Facebook advertising but don’t have an email infrastructure will struggle.
Advertising across multiple platforms is a great way to increase sales. But how do you know which advertising works, which advertising results are best? Which advertising source brings you the most sales?
Checking the data on each platform individually is time-consuming and inefficient and that usually pushes most of us to guess.
We’re in the digital age and tracking advertising results is really not that hard.
Keep All Your Advertising Results In One Place
It’s best to track all your advertising data in one place such as Google Analytics website tracking application. With just a quick tweak to the link in your ad you can have all your results in Google Analytics.
This way, when you advertise on Google and through social media platforms like Facebook, you can get an at-a-glance comparison of your sales leads from each source.
Three Basics of Advertising Results Tracking
In fact, there are three things that must be in place before I begin any advertising with my customers:
- Goals are set in Google Analytics.
- Google Ads Auto Tagging and Goal Import is set up.
- Facebook and all other online ads are tagged with a UTM code.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these steps.
Google Analytics Goals
Google Analytics’ free website tracking application is the core of your data tracking. This is where you’ll go to view and compare your data.
Here’s how to set this up:
- Set up Google Tag Manager: This free product tracks clicks on your forms. On e-commerce sites, you can enable e-commerce tracking. For Shopify sites, the setting for e-commerce tracking is under ‘Online Store’ under ‘Preferences’. Ensure the ‘E-commerce’ box is enabled.
- Set your goals in Google Analytics: You will find those in the Admin section under the ‘View’ panel.
Google Ads Auto Tagging and Goal Import
Auto Tagging is what enables your Google Ads click and conversion data to be transferred between Analytics and Google Ads.
Here’s how to do it:
- Link your Google Analytics to your Google Ads account: In Google Analytics, go into Admin, and in the ‘Property’ panel, click ‘Linked Products.’ Select Google Ads and input your account number.
- Set up Auto Tagging: Go into your Google Ads account, and under ‘Account Settings’ on the side menu, ensure ‘Auto Tagging’ is set to ‘’
- Import your Goals from Google Analytics to your Google Ads account: Click the wrench icon in the upper right navigation menu, then click ‘Conversions.’ Select ‘Import,’ and your Google Analytics goals should appear. Check off the goals you want to import.
Facebook and other Advertising Tracking
When you compare all your traffic sources against each other in Google Analytics, you can actually see what sources are converting, bouncing, full of new users, and much more advertising results. The Google Analytics screenshot below shows the traffic volume from each source and the number of times a sales lead was generated from that source. What a wonderful instant comparison!
Notice numbers five, seven and ten: PaidSocial / Facebook, Kitchissippi Times (a local newspaper), and GMB (Google My Business) / Organic. None of these are included in Google Analytics by default; they are all third party advertising vehicles.
I track the performance of these advertisements by ‘tagging’ the link to back to your website.
Let’s play tag
A tag is a set of instructions that tells Google Analytics how to classify a link. It’s actually an HTML code called an UTM code that surrounds your link.
Here’s an example of what a tagged link (with HTML code embedded) might look like:
Don’t worry… it’s not as scary as it looks.
Wait it’s much easier…. There’s a free tool to do it for you.
First, here are a couple of useless facts:
- UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module.
- Urchin was a company that Google purchased many years ago.
Google has built an easy-to-use tool that does all the coding for you. It’s called Google URL Builder, and yes, it’s free!
When you open the Google URL Builder tool, the first thing you will need to do is input your landing page. This is the page you are sending the user to when they click your ad.
Next, there are three more fields to navigate:
Source: The site where the traffic is coming from. For example, Facebook, Google My Business, New York Times, etc.
Medium: This is a broad channel grouping. For example, Social, Organic, Paid, Email, Affiliates, PaidSocial.
Each medium may have many sources. For example Paid Social (representing social media advertising you are paying for) might include sources such as Facebook, Instagram, Linked In, and other social media sites.
Campaign (optional): This is the promotion or product that is being promoted.
Google URL Builder creates your tag as you complete the fields
As you complete the fields, you’ll notice a URL full of %, ? symbols at the bottom of the page. Don’t worry, it all means something. Once you’re done filling in the fields, just copy the URL and past it into your ads.
Some of these URLs might be overly long. I suggest using a URL shortener like Bitly to cut them down to size.
Make sure the link works
When you add your URL to your ads, test it to ensure it links to the correct landing page. Then, check your Google Analytics Realtime traffic sources to test that it is picking up the correct source and medium.
By following these simple steps, you can keep all your advertising data in one place, and quickly and easily see your advertising results.
It matters how you respond to customer reviews, especially Google reviews; it helps your local SEO, shows customers you are involved and care. Here’s what do with good, bad, and even annoying ‘man cold’ reviews.
There’s an expression that businesses often use that goes, ‘if you liked our service, tell your friends. If you didn’t, tell us.’
When it comes to the internet, however, it’s not just friends your customers are telling, and it’s not just the good experiences they’re talking about. The good, bad and ugly parts of your business are being broadcast to the world, and they’re often being read by prospective customers before they even make it to your site!
One of the most popular platforms for this is Google Reviews. Customers can rate a business on a scale of one to five stars, as well as leave comments about their experience. A five star rating means you’re a rock star, a three star rating means your product or service was ‘meh’, and a one star rating means you have a very unhappy customer. But business owners can reply to these reviews, which gives them an opportunity to show the world how much they care about what their customers have to say—even the ones who aren’t happy.
Google Reviews is part of Google My Business. If you don’t have a Google My Business account, you should get one. It’s free, and it helps your business appear in searches, either by showing your location on the map alongside competitors, or by profiling your business information at the right side of the screen.
Why you Should Respond to Reviews
It is just as important how you respond to Google Reviews as it is that you respond. The reviews themselves are vital social proof to both Google and prospective customers alike that your business is worth engaging, plus it helps your SEO. The more reviews the better! Your responses also help with SEO, and they show your customers (and prospective customers) attractive characteristics about you and your business, mainly that you are listening to—and care about—them.
How to Respond to Good Reviews
This is easy; you just need to come up with different ways to say thank you, we’re glad we could help, etc. It shows everyone that you are reading all your reviews and paying attention to what your customers are saying.
Here are some examples where reviews left comments and others where they didn’t leave comments:
How to Respond to Negative Reviews
Reading a negative review—whether it has merit or not—can make us feel defensive and angry, and given how public a forum Google Reviews are, it may feel as though we are being treated unfairly. It’s best not to hit the reply button immediately. Instead, take a deep breath, look into the customer’s file if necessary, gather the facts, and reply in a prompt, professional and confident manner.
There are different types of negative Google Reviews:
‘Man Cold’ Reviews
These are one- or two-star ratings with no comments. These reviews are unreasonable, because you have no idea what you did wrong. Like a ‘Man Cold,’ where lots of attention is required because ‘everything hurts,’ these reviews offer you nothing specific to fix.
How to Respond: Ask the customer what you could have done better. You could say something like, “Thank you for the feedback. We work hard to give our customers a wonderful experience. You gave us a (one or two) star rating but didn’t leave any comments. Please let us know what specifically we can do next time to improve your experience.”
Here are a couple of examples:
Legitimate Negative Reviews
Try as we might to please all our customers, sometimes people will have legitimate complaints. These customers may leave a one or two star rating and provide a description of their negative experience for all to see.
Your Response: First, take a deep breath. Step away from your computer if you need to. Negative reviews happen, and it’s not the end of the world. Wait until you’re completely calm before you respond, and make sure your response isn’t angry or defensive, or it will only make matters worse.
Here are some examples:
Your side of the dispute matters to the complainant — and to prospective customers
There are two sides to every dispute, and everyone who sees the bad review is waiting for your side of the story. When you respond to reviews, be factual and unemotional as you describe what happened from your perspective, and why you acted the way you did.
If you were wrong, say so and apologize. If you were right, explain your position, but remember to keep your anger, frustration, or personal thoughts of the person in check. Condescending statements about what the person ‘should have done’ or how they ‘should have behaved’ will only make you look bad.
The key to turning a bad review into something positive is sticking to the facts, describing what happened, and explaining why you acted the way you did. Most readers will appreciate that you took reasonable actions to address the customer’s complaint and having a professional manner about it can make you, and your business, look even better.
Review response summary
- 1–3 Star Rating: Respond to the review with facts, keeping emotions in check. Address the customer’s issues honestly, without revealing any personal information.
- 4–5 Star Rating: Thank the customer for taking the time to review.
- 1–3 Star Rating Without Comments: Ask the customer if there was something specific they did not like about their experience with your business.
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Future webinars you may wish to attend:
Getting Your Business on the Google Map
July 28 12:00 – 1:00
- Get your business on the (Google) Map
- Increase the frequency you show up on the Google Map
- Optimize your account to show in the Search Results Map Pack
Google Ads The Fine Art of Optimization
August 25 12:00 – 1:00
- Conversion Tracking
- Follow the money to optimization
- Search terms report
- Extensions (underused but effective extension types)
- Automated bidding (pros and cons)