How To Run Successful Facebook Ads For Your Restaurant On A Small Budget?

In the year 2017, when Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook was going to switch focus from media consumption to connecting with friends and family, marketers the world over worried about the future of Facebook advertising. However, studies indicate that this change in Facebook’s policy led to a 40% increase in ad spending on Facebook.

With competition intensifying, the jump in advertising budget was the last thing small businesses needed. Several among them felt that their advertising dollars were not yielding the desired returns. 

 At the same time, there were others who were generating great returns from Facebook Advertising with limited budgets. So, what were these businesses doing differently?

In this article, we will show you how to run successful Facebook Ads for your restaurant on a small budget.

One of the first questions that comes to mind is;

What’s the minimum budget that can get results on Facebook? 

Questions about Facebook advertising: Successful Facebook Ads for your restaurant on a small budget
Well, you can actually get results with even a $10 campaign budget. 

Starting with a small budget allows you to grow your traffic and generate awareness about your brand while collecting insights about your audience;  demographic and behavioral data about your audience, the kind of content they like and engage with, etc. These insights help you to optimize your ads and spend your budget wisely.

1. Boost Posts

If you are operating on a small budget, say $50/per month, boosting a post instead of creating a campaign – will save you time and will give you equally good returns. Facebook usually auto-suggests the best candidates for boosting. These are high-quality posts that are getting good engagement, in terms of likes, comments, and shares. Boosting a well-performing post helps you reach a wider audience.

Boosting Your Posts: Successful Facebook Ads for your restaurant on a small budget

The main difference between boosting posts vs. creating an Ad in the Ad Manager

If you boost a post, Facebook will auto-optimize Ad delivery for engagement. This means that Facebook will show the boosted post to people most likely to like, click, or share it.

Creating an Ad campaign, on the other hand, allows you to choose from a wide range of campaign objectives. You can optimize your ads  for conversions (e.g. signups, purchases, app installs, etc.)  Further,  Facebook Business Manager provides you more autonomy over placements, ad types, or bidding.

Boosting Your Posts: Successful Facebook Ads for your restaurant on a small budget

While boosted Facebook posts help you get attention on Facebook and generate brand awareness, setting up a Facebook ad campaign helps you reach a  wider audience and get better conversions. However,  for Facebook advertising to be worthwhile and give you a positive return on investment, you should have a budget of at least $100-$200 per campaign.

2. Have A Clearly Defined Goal

Before you start creating ads, it’s important to think about what you’re aiming to achieve through these ads. This will not only help you to optimize your ads but also provide you a yardstick for measuring the performance of your Ads.

Facebook allows you to choose from several campaign goals. While aiming for impressions and clicks works well for brand awareness, you should look at conversion ads to generate leads or sales.

Facebook Advertising Goals

3. Campaigns 

Facebook’s algorithm needs considerable conversion data in order to work efficiently. Some experts peg it to at least 50 conversions per ad set per week. So if you are spreading your budget thinly over a dozen ad sets or campaigns each with a low number of conversions, you are not allowing Facebook to auto-optimize your campaigns. 

When working with small budgets, set up a single ad campaign with 1 ad set and 1-3 ads at the max to gain maximum leverage. 

Facebook Ad Campaign: Successful Facebook Ads for your restaurant on a small budget

Refrain from A/B Testing Too Many Elements

Another thing that you should refrain from is A/b testing too many elements in a single campaign. The more ad variations you’re testing, the more ad impressions and conversions you’ll need for statistically significant results. To get valid A/B test results, you’ll need at least 100 conversions per ad variation. It’s pointless to create hundreds of experiments inside a single campaign unless you have thousands of dollars in the budget. Start with micro experiments, test only a few elements at a time, and give them a reasonable budget.

4. Have A Well-Defined Audience

When you are advertising on a limited budget, you want to make sure you are targeting the right audience for your brand. 

Start with creating a well-defined audience for your ads. One of the strategies is to target a custom audience.

a. Custom Audience:

A custom audience comprises people who have already interacted with your business on Facebook or on your website or app.  If they’ve already sought out your business, there’s a better chance they’ll convert.

Custom Facebook Audience:Successful Facebook Ads for your restaurant on a small budget

Non-Facebook Sources

  • Website Traffic uses data captured by Facebook pixel to target people who have visited your website or taken a specific action on it.
  • App Activity audience use pixel data to target people who have visited your app or taken a specific action on it

(You would need to install the Facebook pixel on your website to capture audience data before you can create custom data.  A Facebook pixel is a code you put on your website that helps you track website/app visits. The pixel can also be used to track data and conversions from your Facebook ads and helps you to monitor ad performance.)

Customer List:  You can upload your customer files either through MailChimp or directly to target people who have interacted with your business previously. (Retargetting Ads on Facebook)

  • Offline activity targets people who have interacted with your business offline.

Facebook Sources

  • Video watches: This set of target audience comprises of people who have watched or interacted with your videos on Facebook.
  • Lead forms – This would include people who have filled out lead forms
  • Instagram Business Profile – This set includes people who have interacted with your Instagram posts.
  • Events – This includes customers who have interacted with your Facebook events
  • Facebook Page- This includes customers who have interacted with your Facebook events

b. Lookalike Audience:

You can also create a lookalike audience based on a source audience. This essentially means that Facebook will show your ad to people who have the same attributes (age, gender, interest, income) as a source audience selected by you. The source audience could be customers whose data has been captured by the Facebook pixel or customers who have engaged with your Facebook Page.

Creating Lookalike audience on Facebook

However, if you do not have the Facebook pixel set up on your app or website or feel that you want to target an audience over and above those who have interacted with your brand on Facebook or Instagram, you can also choose to simply target people based on their location, age, gender, and language.

c. Audience Overlap

Use the Facebook Audience Overlap tool to see if audiences are overlapping. If they are overlaps,  mutually exclude those audiences. 

In addition to better utilization of budget, having low – or no – overlap helps ad delivery and also allows you to better A/B test the different elements. Having an audience overlap is like is paying for the same users twice and may cause ad fatigue. If you want to target an audience interested in both, you should create an audience interested in both.

Facebook Audience Overlap tool

Say you have set up two ad sets targeting two sets of audience. One set comprises of people interested in health and fitness, other comprises of people interested in salads. On running an audience overlap check on Facebook, you find that  50% of the ‘health and fitness audience is also interested in ‘Salads.  

If you set up a campaign targeting these two audiences in separate ad sets without any audience exclusion you will end up wasting a lot of your budget on serving ads to the same people. Instead, exclude the interest in Health and fitness in the salad audience and vice versa.

5. Ad Duration and Frequency

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach for Ad duration, we generally do not run an Ad for more than two weeks at a time. You can use data from your previous campaigns to guide you in this regard. Further, you can pause/increase/decrease the duration of an Ad at any time based on its performance.

When working on a limited budget, you should keep an eye on your budget to audience size ratio, while deciding on ad duration.  At a given budget, you can only reach a particular size of the audience. This means that the smaller your budget and audience size, the higher is the probability of your ad being shown to the same set of users. Showing the same ad to one person multiple times can lead to ad fatigue or blindness.  

Ad fatigue- tired dog

Ad Frequency gives you an estimate of the average number of times your ad is shown to the same user. A high frequency can have a negative impact on your ad performance, and over time, your brand in general. So, for smaller budgets, stick to shorter  3-4 day  (maximum 7 days) ad campaigns to get higher engagement rates.

6. Bidding

A bid is an amount you’re willing to pay for a specific action on your Ad. While Facebook Tries to accommodate every advertiser on the platform, remember the space for advertising is limited, so the highest bidders should ostensibly get the most placements. Thankfully there are other factors that contribute to ad delivery: relevance score, and “estimated action rates”. But, that does not undermine the importance of your bidding strategy.

  • If you try to bid too low, your campaign may not deliver to your target audience.
  • A very high bid on the other hand may result in a negative ROI on your campaign. 
Campaign Budget Optimization and bidding on Facebook Ads

Broadly there are two types of bidding strategies available on Facebook

Manual Bidding allows you to choose what you pay for each conversion. Facebook will get you as many conversions as you possibly can at the target cost.

Automatic Bidding allows Facebook to set bid amounts to maximize clicks or conversions.

When you have a small budget or are just starting out with Facebook ads, or even if you are testing your campaigns and audience, you should stick to the automatic bidding to maximize conversions. A lower manual bid may give you a lower CPC as compared to an automatic bid. You’ll get very few conversions as Facebook restricts the delivery of your ads to a very limited audience that will convert at the target cost.

Manual Bidding makes more sense if you have enough experience on the platform and data to support your strategy, and you want to start scaling your Ad campaigns.

7. Ad Placement

While the general rule of thumb for relatively new advertisers on the platform is to go with Automatic Placements. Selecting Automatic Placement insures you against making wrong placement decisions. However, ad placements affect the cost and performance of your ads.

For instance, Facebook’s Audience Network placement can help you reach a high number of people and it is cheaper than Instagram, so the Facebook algorithm will automatically push more budget into that placement. But if most of your audience is on Instagram, then showing more ads on the Facebook audience network is not going to give you the desired outcome. 

To optimize your spend you can edit ad placements provided that you should have a clear idea of what you want to achieve from your ad and know where your target audience resides.

Ad Placements:Successful Facebook Ads for your restaurant on a small budget

Further, you can even select the device on which you want to show your ad. For instance,  if the majority of your conversions are coming from mobile users, you can choose not to show your ad to desktop users to increase the efficiency of low budget campaigns.

8. Write an Effective Ad

Your ad is going to get likes, clicks, or conversions if it grabs the attention of your audience. You need to spend some time on creating the perfect copy; experiment with three or more versions of an ad with varying titles, and images that are relevant to your copy. Test each element of your ad organically; which headlines/titles/images are getting the most clicks and engagements. This data helps you in creating a better ad copy.

Pick up ideas for your ads from your best performing organic content or repurpose your top-performing organic content.  Set up conversion tracking with UTM parameters on your organic posts to get insights into which content is working. 

Ensure you are sending your audience to the offer/content that they are interested in. You can take inspiration from what other similar businesses are offering but your value proposition should be unique.

Ad Copy

Your caption is as important as the image. Devote some time in crafting the right headline. Here are a few handy tips for writing the perfect heading

  • use social proof 
  • a value proposition that your audience cares about 

9. Relevance Metrics

To get better returns on a given budget, keep an eye on relevance metrics for your Facebook Ads. Facebook tracks user engagement with your ads and provides three kinds of ranks or relevance metrics which can affect ad visibility and budget.

  •  Quality Ranking – how your ads compare to similar ads targeting the same audience; Engagement 
  • Rate Ranking – the anticipated engagement rate of your ad (likes, comments, shares, clicks); 
  • Conversion Rate Ranking – expected conversion rate compared to competing ads.   
Relevance Score on Facebook Ads: Successful Facebook Ads for your restaurant on a small budget

The higher your relevance score, the more the Facebook algorithm will favor your campaign and you can end up paying less for the same placement.

10. Test

Experiment and optimize every aspect of your ads as you go along. Monitor and analyze Ad performance data over time to determine what works best for you. You should also compare your ads performance against other similar businesses in your industry. These insights will help you to develop a sound strategy for your business and help scale costs and budgets.

Facebook Ads: Successful Facebook Ads for your restaurant on a small budget


No matter the size of your budget, making smart decisions is important when it comes to running successful Facebook Ad campaigns.