June 27, 2018 Edgar Guillen



Since no one has an unlimited marketing budget, it’s reasonable – and necessary – to ask ourselves what performs best: SEM (Search Engine Marketing) or Facebook Ads? As in every other gripping debate- chocolate vs. vanilla, Superman vs. Batman, Kylie vs. Kendall- the answer is vital but far from simple, so we’ll try to figure it out in this blog post.

Before trying to answer this, take two steps back and realize that though it’s true that everyone can potentially benefit from SEM and Facebook ads, you may not need both. The main goal is to drive more traffic to your website- but again, how? The answer comes down to what we call the “purchase intent” of your potential customer.


When to choose SEM:

It’s Friday night and you’re looking for a great restaurant- to be more specific, a great steakhouse. Would you go to Facebook or Google?

Your microwave breaks. Will you remember that Facebook ad for a repair service you saw a couple of weeks ago, or whip out your smartphone and search for a local repair company?

There’s no question that restaurants, butchers, coffee shops, barbers and beauty salons benefit most from SEM- because they’re time-sensitive and location-based, you’ll do a search. The exposure that businesses like these will enjoy from Facebook Ads is comparatively limited, but shouldn’t be completely ignored if your marketing budget allows.

We -along with thousands of marketing experts- have found out that people go to search engines when they:

  • Have a specific problem and are looking for a solution.
  • Want to learn a new subject or skill.
  • Need to buy a product they already know they want.
  • Are in a more narrow stage of the funnel such as the Consideration stage (and have a higher purchase intent). 

When to choose Facebook Ads:

In other cases, people don’t always know they want something until they see it. This is where Facebook Ads is amazing. With just a little expert targeting, you can find your ideal customers (who will probably buy from your online store immediately after seeing your ad). This is the ideal method for products and services that people may not yet know they want- in other words, impulse purchases, gifts, and new products: things we don’t normally PLAN to buy, but will pounce on if it’s presented attractively.

A great example? Jewelry. Often a gift item, and rarely one where a purchaser begins their journey with a specific item in mind. SEM would work if people knew the exact bracelet or stud earrings they were looking for. Instead, Facebook Ads allows you to showcase your products through broad DPAs (Dynamic product ads) and Schema helps you find the right product for each user.

That’s how some woman will be reading her friend’s opinion on the latest trending topic and then…boom! She’ll fall in love with Zydo’s stretch bracelet collection.

You should probably choose FB Ads over SEM when you:

  • Need to create Brand Awareness and exposure. This is a great tool to introduce your brand to your potential audience.
  • Have a product that’s visually attractive, considering the experience is much more visual than SEM.
  • Want to retarget your audience according to the buyer’s specific actions within your website.
  • Want to explore the different formats for the different stages of the funnel.

Let’s summarize:

MOTION-BLOGPOST3Let me get this straight: there’s no doubt that, if your budget allows it, a blended approach of Facebook and SEM is best.

Together, they’ll increase your traffic levels and your returns, as they’ll respond to both broad groups of purchasing behavior. However, on a limited budget, schedule, or very specific sales model, you’ll need to choose the optimum platform- after reading this post, you we hope you’re now a lot closer to the answer.

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