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As a marketer in the digital age, we want data and proof. Are my advertising methods effective? Am I wasting my social media marketing budget? Is the answer in Facebook Ad Campaigns or is it in Promoted Posts?

What we’ve seen in Facebook posts vs. ads:

Analyzing data from over 282 ad campaigns and promoted posts from a range of industries we’ve found that our promoted posts performed at a 184% better Unique Click Through Rate (uCTR) than our ads sets, specifically 2.62% v 1.42%. Our CTR followed the same trend: 232% higher for promoted posts than ad sets*. Additionally, our Unique Cost Per Click was 24% lower for posts, $0.47 compared to $0.62 from ad sets.

So far, it appears promoted posts out-performed ad campaigns.

*uCTR = unique clicks / reach, CTR = clicks / impressions

A Twist in the Tale:

As a business however, we focus on objective-driven ads to landing pages with a clear conversion goal: a user submitting their contact details. As a result, we laser-focus on the metric: website clicks, which is not equal to ‘Clicks’. As defined by Facebook, ‘Clicks’ are any click: website click, like, page like, etc. Since our goal is always converting users to entries, we only look at which clicks resulted in a website view (to our linked landing page).

This is where the data gets interesting. Here the trend was reversed: Facebook ads performed 152% better than Promoted Posts. Our website click through rates were 0.58% and 0.38% for ads and posts, respectively. Meaning we had significantly more individuals clicking through to our landing pages from Facebook Ads than Promoted Posts. For us, this higher Website Click Through Rate means more newsletter signups, test drive bookings, or competition entries. For others, this could mean more shopping cart visits, more downloads, more customer inquiries or more leads. In context, the industry average Website Click Through Rate is 0.02% for Facebook ads.

Why is this different to the previous trend?

It could be due to a number of possibilities. Our hunch is that because promoted posts behave more like organic content in nature and seem less ‘Ads-like’, they encourage natural participation (e.g. likes, comments, shares, and website clicks). Whereas ads are structured with the reputation of driving you somewhere.

Now what about these conversion rates?

Our priority is a high entry conversion rate off this traffic, or how many submit their contact details into a form on our landing page. We have recently introduced in-house UTM tracking on all of our campaigns. We are now able to link landing page traffic and conversions to specific sources. As this is a new feature, we don’t yet have aggregate data to share. However, please see the below case study for a B2B business*:

Landing Page Conversion Rates:

  • Promoted Posts: 36.8%
  • Ad Sets: 4.41%
  • Industry average: 2.35%

Promoted posts converted at 834% higher than Ad sets and 1566% higher than the industry average for all traffic.

Cost Per Conversion was 289% lower for leads from promoted posts than for leads from Facebook ads.

*As with all stats, it’s important to take one off-examples with a grain of salt.

So what does that mean?

Facebook promoted posts get far more clicks for a cheaper price than Facebook ad sets. Although, they do have a shorter duration and a smaller reach.

Conversely, when the specific goal is website clicks, Facebook ads outperform promoted posts on average.

However, keep your end goal in sight. Do you want either signups, leads or conversions? If so, then check the conversion rates and cost per conversion. This will tell you your best performing and most profitable channel.

So which should you use?

Our advice is to use both ads and posts for your advertising campaign. Begin with a similar daily budget and trial the effectiveness of each campaign based upon your end goal (ours was Cost Per Conversion). We recommend reevaluating on a weekly basis at minimum and adjusting your budget to which avenue proves to be the most successful for your social media marketing.

Then, chat us up for a coffee and we’ll compare notes. Seriously – we’re all about being and fostering prudent efficient advertisers. (and drinking lattes)