No matter your experience in the industry or the age of your business, in carpet cleaning you need a steady influx of new customers to stay busy and profitable. Part of running a carpet cleaning business is understanding your target customers, and how to best reach them through marketing. It’s no secret that one of the most popular ways for a carpet cleaner to market their services in 2019 is through Facebook ads. If you feel out of the loop, then this post is for you – we give you an overview of everything you need to know to start running your own Facebook ads, some hands-on advice, and ideas to get you started.
Facebook ads reach a huge percentage of the population daily, and the Facebook Ads platform is the only way to advertise on Instagram. Between Facebook and Instagram, you have the opportunity to directly reach an amazing number of customers in your immediate area. But if you don’t understand the platform well and run poorly targeted and un-optimized ads, you won’t see the same success other cleaners are bragging about, and your ad spend won’t have a positive return on investment.
Facebook Ads Basics
First, let me say that when we are talking about running campaigns on Facebook, we are not using the “boost post” option that Facebook is always trying to get you to use. To experience the full feature set available on Facebook Ads, you’ll want to run ads from Facebook’s Ads Manager. A lot of my clients are familiar with boosting posts, and to them boosting is the full extent of what advertising on Facebook is. If that describes you, I recommend diving in and getting comfortable with the Ads Manager to fully understand the power of Facebook advertising. Boosting posts can sometimes be effective, but more often than not you’ll get a lot more value for your spend if you create a more detailed campaign using Ads Manager.
In Ads Manager, every advertising effort is organized by:
- Campaign – campaigns set the objective (traffic to your website, post engagement, messages, etc.), and act as a “container” to hold ad sets
- Ad Set – an ad set defines your audience targeting, schedule, placement and budget, and acts as a “container” to hold ads
- Ads – ads are the actual posts that get shown to users, and typically include text, images or video, and a call-to-action
Ads belonging to a specific ad set and campaign will match the objective you selected for the campaign, and will be shown to the audience you defined in the ad set (and comply with the other ad set parameters). If you create a new campaign in Ads Manager, you will be walked through each step, helping you put together a complete campaign.
Note: to get the optimal experience in setting up new ads with Ads Manager, you’ll likely want to use a non-smartphone device like a laptop. The user interface for the Ads Manager is complicated with a lot of options, and it is best to create new ads on a larger screened device.
For a business like a carpet cleaning company, your goal for a campaign is usually to get more bookings – so your campaign objectives are likely to be “Traffic” (send visitors to your website), “Conversions” (if you have conversion events set up on your website), or “Messages” (ask users to message your page directly on Facebook).
Because Facebook prefers that their users never leave the platform, the most effective campaigns you can run today are probably “Messages” campaigns. But keep in mind, if you run a campaign with “Send a Message” as your call-to-action, you need to be ready to reply to customer inquiries on Facebook Messenger quickly and professionally. Alternately, if you use “Reach” as your campaign objective you should be able to use a “Call Now” call-to-action to increase phone calls.
Facebook will always default to handling the bidding and costs on a campaign themselves – and generally if you’ve carefully planned your target audience, and you understand how relevancy works, automatic bidding is the way to go. You just set a daily budget and let them handle the rest.
One of the most important factors in keeping your costs reasonable on Facebook ad campaigns is relevancy. Facebook rewards relevant ads with lower costs, because they want Facebook users to have a good experience on the platform. If you deliver content that is useful or helpful to users in your ad campaigns, you will be rewarded. For example, if you create an ad specifically targeted at pet owners with a UV black light image and ad copy about eliminating pet odors, it will be more relevant if your audience is narrowed to people interested in dogs and cats.
One of the easiest ways to boost relevancy and to show Facebook that your ad is user-friendly is to publish an organic “post” on your business Facebook page, allow it to gather likes, comments, and shares, and then use that post as an ad in a new campaign (you can use any existing post on your page as an ad). By proving to Facebook that a post “wins” engagement before making it an ad, you are guaranteeing yourself a lower cost when running an ads campaign utilizing that post.
So when you’re creating ads, remember to try and keep it relevant to your audience, and if possible use page posts that come with pre-established social proof in place of a new ad-only post.
Understanding Audience Targeting
The two most important things for an effective Facebook campaign are the right audience targeting, and an ad that draws attention. Audience targeting should be guided by what you know about your target customer. Facebook gives you a lot of options to narrow your audience based on their interests, behaviors, demographics, location, and more. If you know that your best clients live in a particular area, or generally fit within specific demographics, then you will want to use those parameters to target your ads.
When creating an ad set, you are prompted to define your audience. A new campaign’s audience by default is everyone in the U.S. above the age of 18. Based on past knowledge of your ideal customers, you might instead tailor that to women who live in your zip code, between the ages of 25 and 50, with children under the age of 18:
As you explore the targeting options in Facebook, you will hopefully come up with some ideas on how to best target your customers. Not every targeting idea you have will be possible within the ads platform, but it is worth checking all of your targeting ideas by searching words in the “Detailed Targeting” section. The most commonly used options for carpet cleaning campaigns are:
- Location – this is incredibly important to define correctly
- Gender – women are more commonly the person in a household who schedules a carpet cleaning
- Age – sometimes certain age ranges are more likely to be a carpet cleaning customer
- Demographic: Parents – parents tend to care more about keeping their floors clean
- Interests: pets/dogs/cats – pet owners are more likely to need carpet cleaning services
One of my favorite features for targeting a Facebook ad is the ability to narrow your audience. By default, if you select more than 1 detailed targeting option, they will both be targeted separately, or as Facebook puts it, “INCLUDE people who match at least ONE of the following.” If you click the “Narrow Audience” link, it instead takes your previously defined audience and makes it more specific by making it an ‘and’, “and MUST ALSO match at least ONE of the following.”
For example, it would be possible to require that the audience for a specific ad set be both people who are parents and use an iPhone to access Facebook (potentially indicating that they are willing to spend more money for a high-end brand and quality service).
Also, when defining a geographic area, note that you can change location targeting from the default, “Everyone in this location” to the more specific, “People who live in this location.”
I recommend getting really familiar with setting up audiences for ad sets, and start out by trying a few different audiences that you think best fit your ideal client. As seen in the full targeting screenshot above, Facebook will give you an estimate of the reach your campaign will have based on the parameters you’ve defined. Sometimes it makes sense to have a very small audience and limited reach because your ad is micro-targeted to a small group of people, and other times you’ll have larger audiences for more general campaigns.
It is also possible to target Facebook ads to “custom audiences” – either people who have previously interacted with your website (if you have the Facebook Pixel installed) or groups created from a customer list you upload to the platform (users are identified by email address or phone number). Custom audiences are too advanced to get into for this article, but if you have a large list of past customers, leveraging that list to create a Facebook audience can be a great way to market to your past customers (and people similar to them) on Facebook.
By default, Facebook is going to show your ad in as many places as possible on their platform. Here are the possible placements for an ad set:
Depending on your campaign objective various options will be available for your campaign, and your specific ad and audience may prove to have better performance in some placements. In general I have found carpet cleaning ads perform best if I limit the placements to Facebook and Instagram feeds only:
You may also find some success in the “Messenger Inbox” option, especially if your campaign objective is to prompt for customer messages on Facebook Messenger.
Setting a Budget & Schedule
In order to see whether a campaign experiment will prove effective, you have to put some money towards it and watch how it performs in the real world. While creating an ad set, you’ll be faced with the decision on how much money to put toward a daily budget, and for how long. At the very minimum, you will want to run an ad for 1-2 weeks at $5/day, in order to see if it’s getting any traction. Putting a higher daily budget toward an idea will usually give you results faster, and allow you to evaluate effectiveness faster.
Setting the right budget and schedule will depend a lot on your business – with an effective ad, the budget is what determines how often your phone rings or you get an inquiry message on Facebook Messenger; you may find that you’re spending too little or too much money to maintain a good pace of new carpet cleaning bookings. You should get better at setting the right budget with more hands-on experience as you continue to run campaigns.
Earlier I mentioned that audience targeting and a good ad are the two most important factors in finding success with Facebook ads – so let’s talk a bit about ads. People in the advertising industry call the images and text that make up an ad, “creative.” Your ad creative is crucial to a successful campaign. It should be tailored to your target audience, and pretty much every effective Facebook ad has:
- A catchy visual
- Engaging copy
- A strong call-to-action
You may find that even something simple like an eye-catching before and after photo works well, but the options are endless. As you run campaigns, you will hopefully get an idea of the types of ads that are working best for your target audience.
Regarding ad copy – what you write in your ad should more often than not be focused on the value you can bring the customer and your past success, rather than details about your business or equipment. Realize that hiring you is also an emotional decision, and not just a logical decision – your goal is to make them feel good about contacting you. Something like, “hundreds of happy customers have benefited from our thorough 7-step cleaning process – your carpet will look amazing again, guaranteed” is probably better than, “we have the most effective chemicals and newest and best truck mount machine with a high PSI.” What customers care about are results – can you be trusted to do the job? Can you make them feel good about hiring you? Prove it to them.
While the options for ad creative are endless, some types of ads have proven to work well for finding new carpet cleaning customers. Here are some of the more effective ad ideas I have seen or used for carpet cleaning companies:
A “Commercial” Style Video Ad – video draws more attention on Facebook than static images, and if you can catch the user’s attention immediately, then a video ad may work well. This could be as simple as an “action” shot of an incredibly soiled carpet coming clean, or a video of you talking directly to your customer. If you use a video ad, make sure to add captions (you can do this natively, directly in Ads Manager), because most people don’t browse Facebook with audio enabled. The video must grab attention and be engaging throughout, or the user will scroll past it.
Before/After Photo With Offer – grab attention with a really transformative before and after photo, and entice the user to contact you with an offer. Examples include package specials (3 rooms for $99), free add-ons (book 4 rooms or more before Mother’s Day and get 1 room of free fiber protection), or a Facebook-only discount (mention this ad to receive 15% off).
Click-bait Style Headlines – grab attention like a lot of internet publications, with a headline that really gets the user interested in hearing more. For example, “You’ll never believe how easy it was to remove this red wine stain…” or “How I made a customer cry…” or “The cleaning technique professional carpet cleaners don’t want you to know…” – these types of ads should lead to a landing page on your website with a story, more info about your services, and a call-to-action.
Customer Testimonials/Stories – one great way to make an ad seem less like an advertisement is to showcase a really great testimonial or customer story. Tell your audience how you made someone’s day, or transformed their living space. People are drawn to stories – can you illustrate any good ones in an ad?
Highlight a Unique Benefit – if you offer something a lot of your competitors don’t, highlight it. For example, you could use a photo of your vacuum canister full of hair and dirt and say, “You won’t believe what your home vacuum doesn’t pick up – skeptical? We include commercial vacuuming before every carpet cleaning job – book today to see what your vacuum leaves behind.”
Meme Images – if you can make your potential customer laugh with a carpet-related meme, you have grabbed their attention and given them a bit of humor, now all you need to do is add a call-to-action and give them a reason to call you.
Seasonal Reminders – some cleaners find success in reminding customers about seasonal events. For example, “Get your carpets looking nice before the family holiday party” or, “Get your home ready for summer by cleaning all of that winter muck out of your carpets.”
Giveaways – some of the most effective campaigns I’ve helped run are giveaways. Instead of asking the customer to directly book an appointment with you, the call-to-action is a little more subtle. With a giveaway you can ask people to like your page, share your post, and sign up for your email newsletter in order to have a chance to win a free carpet cleaning.
If you start by getting organic interactions from your existing Facebook fans and then continue to accrue impressions by making your giveaway post into an ad, you can reach a lot of new potential customers who are excited about the chance of winning something. Those potential customers, by entering your giveaway, are now Facebook fans and email subscribers – and you’ll now have the opportunity to sell to them on a regular basis.
No matter what visuals and text you include in your ad, make sure they are not boring, and that they clearly communicate the value you will bring to the customer. Stock photos rarely work well – people tend to ignore them and scroll past. Remember, the most effective ads on Facebook are those that draw interactions (likes, comments, and shares), so try to think about ways to be entertaining, amusing, or pique the interest of your potential customers.
An important and often overlooked step in running a Facebook ad campaign is to evaluate the results. If you have everything set up correctly, it is possible to know which of your leads came from your Facebook ads campaigns. You can then calculate your return on investment (ROI). Based on your campaign objective, Facebook will track the results of your campaign and give you reporting in the Ads Manager dashboard. For example, if your objective is to get messages on Messenger, Facebook should show you the number of messages your campaign generated directly in the campaign reporting.
If you’re sending ad traffic to your website, you will either need to install a Facebook Pixel on your site and configure “events” to track incoming leads in the Ads Manager dashboard, or rely on a 3rd party tool like Google Analytics to measure whether ad visitors convert into customers. The details of robust lead tracking are a bit too complicated to get into in this article, but if you’re serious about tracking results you may want to consult with an expert to get tracking set up properly before you start spending a lot of money on Facebook ads. With the right tools it is possible to track the source of incoming email and phone call leads from your website.
Being able to calculate your return on investment allows you make decisions about whether to keep funding a campaign, or whether you need to move on to new ideas. Your ROI is an easy calculation:
(Revenue – Cost) / Cost
For example, if you ran an ad that brought in 10 carpet cleaning jobs with total revenue of $2k, and the campaign cost $200 to run, your ROI is:
(2000 – 200) / 200 = 900%
Or, in other words, for every $1 you funnel into the example campaign, you will make $9. If on the other hand, you got 2 jobs with a total revenue of $400, and the campaign cost $200 to run, your ROI is:
(400 – 200) / 200 = 100%
For every $1 you spend on that campaign, you’ll make $2. With lower ROI numbers, you may want to start factoring in costs and expenses that you have for each job outside of advertising costs; even though the ROI looks positive, you could still be losing a bit of money after all expenses are factored in.
Ads that have an obvious positive return on investment will help you learn what targeting techniques or ad creative ideas are working and which aren’t, and you can continue to improve your campaigns based on results of past campaigns.
There is also the secondary benefit to running a Facebook ad campaign – your business page will likely pick up a few new “likes”; while these aren’t as great as direct bookings, it is still somewhat valuable to increase your page’s “fan” audience. When evaluating your campaigns, don’t forget to check whether it is bringing in more page likes by also looking at “Engagement” numbers.
Ready to Experiment?
Now that you understand the ins and outs of setting up a Facebook ad campaign, are you ready to get out there and start experimenting? It is easy to try a few things, have them under-perform, and give up on Facebook ads. If that describes your history with advertising on Facebook, I urge you to give it another go utilizing some of the information from this post. And remember, if you continue to learn from the failures, you should eventually find a winning formula.
If you have any questions about Facebook ads as you’re trying it out, feel free ask questions in the comments below, or join our community and ask us the group questions in our closed Facebook group. Good luck!