11 Customer Acquisition Alternatives When Facebook Ads Stop Working

For years, we’ve come to rely on Facebook’s uncanny, slightly unnerving ability to put our ads in front of our ideal customers at just the right moment. But ever since Apple unleashed its new privacy settings, Facebook’s ad targeting has been as hampered as a blindfolded archer.

In reaction, many businesses have begun to cut their spend on Meta platforms like Facebook and Instagram, looking for greener pastures. If you’re looking for new customers and want to move away from Facebook, or at least move some of your eggs out of the Meta basket, then we’ve got some suggestions for you below.

Although there are many channels and platforms that you can use for digital marketing, we’re focusing on the ones that are specifically about customer acquisition. Retention, loyalty, and branding are topics for another day.

Google Ads for Customer Acquisition

Many of our clients who are running Facebook Ads are also running Google Ads, but if you’re not, this is a good place to consider. After all, when your ideal customer has a problem or a question, where do they turn? 


While there are a lot of benefits to optimizing your website for organic search or your business for local search, paid search results appear at the top of the page whenever there’s a search that includes “commercial intent.”

In other words, when they’re ready to buy, you’re right in front of them.

  • Pros: Very effective targeted ads that appear when people signal they are ready to buy.
  • Cons: Requires some experience and a lot of attention, otherwise you can rack up advertising bills with little to show for it. You may find yourself competing against Amazon or some other corporate giant with deep pockets who is more than willing to outbid you.

Bing Ads Can Bring in New Customers, Too!

No, I’m not joking. Some of our clients have seen great results with Microsoft Ads, formerly Bing Ads. While the volume of search at Bing is much lower, the clickthrough rates tend to be higher. Also, like Avis, because Microsoft is a (distant) number two, they try harder!

Once you’ve optimized your ad account at Google, Microsoft gives you tools to just copy and paste (more or less) into their platform. 

While Google Ads may be the right place to start your Paid Search journey, Microsoft Ads can add new revenue streams.

  • Pros: Your competition is likely overlooking Microsoft Ads and Bing.
  • Cons: So is 95% of the Internet population.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Organic SEO–the original “10 big blue links”–is another way to attract new customers to your website or business. Although as you can see from the screengrab below, there are plenty of other features in organic results these days:

  • Knowledge panels
  • People also ask
  • Videos
  • and more.

While Paid Search results often appear at the top of the search results page, not every search generates paid results.

When your prospects are early in their customer journey, they may do searches which will lead them to your website. Even if they’re not ready to buy, you can entice them to sign up for an email newsletter, add them to a retargeting list, and build up some brand recognition.

Blog posts and service pages are great fodder for search engines, and you should be creating valuable content that helps your prospect on their customer journey.

  • Pros: A well-written blog post can generate hundreds or thousands of new visits a month for years…decades even!
  • Cons: SEO is more competitive than ever. Seeing results from SEO can take months or longer. Many of the people who find you may not be ready to buy…yet.

Local Search Reaches Both Tourists and Locals

For businesses that are “geographically challenged,” it’s important to appear when someone triggers local search results. Maybe it’s “chiropractors near me” or “Portland Maine bed and breakfast.” When that happens, Google often shows a map with three results. Appearing in that top three can make or break your year.

Geography, online reviews, and a strong Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) are all part of ranking well for local search and driving traffic to your website or store.

  • Pros: Local search can drive immediate business your way. 
  • Cons: Geography plays a big role in rankings, and that’s likely something you can’t control unless you’re a Food Truck. (Which raises a lot of other challenges.)

LinkedIn Ads Put You In Front of Your B2B Prospects

While Search Ads are great for prospects who are actively searching for a solution, people may not realize they have a problem, or that a solution exists. That’s the beauty of Paid Social, where we can show ads based on the type of people who might be a good fit.

That’s why Facebook was such a powerful platform: they knew everything about us. Now that they’ve been stripped of some of that power, we need to look elsewhere. 

If you’re a B2B (business to business) company, then LinkedIn could be a powerful advertising platform. While LinkedIn doesn’t know about our favorite bands, movies, or whether we prefer crosswords to crossfit, it does know where we work. And how long we’ve been there. And what our position is. And our industry. And who we’re connected to. It can even take an educated guess at our age.

If you’re selling business products or services, that can be a secret weapon! Although LinkedIn has many ad options, I’d recommend starting with the newsfeed.

  • Pros: LinkedIn offers great business-related targeting options.
  • Cons: It’s not relevant for B2C (business to consumer.) Also, LinkedIn ads tend to cost more than other platforms, as business services often do.

YouTube Pre-Roll Ads: 5 Seconds to Capture Attention

If you have a demonstrable product or service, or you can capture people’s attention in the first five seconds, advertising on YouTube might be a great fit.

You can create engaging ads that appear before the video your customer came to watch. You can place ads based on topic, keywords, or choose a specific video or channel where you’d like to appear. If they click on the ad you can drive traffic to your website. If they click the skip button you don’t have to pay for the ad!

  • Pros: Great way of capturing the attention of an already captive audience. Lots of targeting options.
  • Cons: Creating a video can be a lot of work…or money…or both.

Promoted Pins for the Wins!

Yeah, OK. That was terrible. But Pinterest is an overlooked gem, especially for the B2C crowd. As soon as we started seeing customer acquisition costs on Facebook we moved some of our clients’ ad dollars to Pinterest.

While it’s not appropriate for every business, we’ve seen some great results for some of our consumer-facing clients.

  • Pros: Pinterest has a high conversion rate compared to other social platforms. Users go to Pinterest looking for ideas and solutions, often with the intent of making a purchase. 
  • Cons: It has become a competitive landscape, like many other platforms out there. There will definitely be some trial and error when you first start out.

Display Ads on Industry-Specific Websites

These type of ad options are often overlooked in a world where Google and Facebook get all the headlines. However, I recently had a client that needed to reach C-level executives in the agriculture industry, so we started collecting ad specs from all the major players in this space.

Every industry magazine has a website, and likely an email newsletter, too. While ad rates, specs, and reporting may vary widely, these type of ads can put you in front of your ideal customer as sure as Facebook Ads ever did.

  • Pros: You can build brand awareness and affinity while driving traffic to your website or landing page. 
  • Cons: You’ll have to do a little leg work to find your best options. Many of these sites still work off the magazine model, meaning you can’t self-serve like on Facebook or Google. You’ll need to talk to sales reps (oh, the humanity!), hear pitches about why you should also advertise in their print magazine, and so on. 

Be a Guest on Podcasts

Everything up until now has been about advertising. Paying to put your message in front of the right person at the right time. But there are some other options that don’t require advertising dollars. 

(Notice I didn’t say “free.” Nothing is free. Some of these things you can do without spending any money, but you’re still investing your time, which has value.)

Being a guest on other people’s podcasts is a fun way to get in front of a new audience. Chances are there are already many podcasts to serve your industry or that speak directly to your ideal customer.

Working your way through Apple Podcasts or Spotify will garner you a list of potential podcasts to pitch yourself for. Find ones that have guests (not all of them do), and see if they have a form where you can submit your application.

You may also find podcasters for your niche by doing searches at LinkedIn.

The most valuable podcasts are ones that create a page for each episode and will link from your episode’s “show notes” to your website or landing page. (Good for SEO.)

  • Pros: You’re introduced to a new audience. It often only takes 20 – 30 minutes of your time.
  • Cons: Getting on podcasts if you’re relatively unknown can be a bit of a slog. There are services that will book you on appropriate podcasts, but that does cost money.

Influencer Marketing 

There was a great episode of the Planet Money podcast that covered Facebook Ads and Apple privacy. I can’t say I’m a huge fan (or very experienced) with influencer marketing, but I’ve tackled the topic several times on my Agents of Change podcast.

According to the Planet Money guest, Ramon, after his Facebook Ads started to tank for his wiener dog ramps (I kid you not) he turned to Instagram influencers to promote his ramps. And yes, they were all wiener dog accounts.

  • Pros: Influencers come in all sizes these days, from celebrity level to micro-influencers who hold sway over a particular area or niche…to weiner dogs. One tweet or Instagram post can drive tons of traffic and sales to your site.
  • Cons: It can be a challenge to find the right influencer. A lot of followers doesn’t always translate into a lot of sway…or sales.

Facebook Groups for Customer Acquisition

Full circle, right? 

Many people have found success in building an audience in a specific niche using Facebook groups, and then turned that community into customers.

  • Pros: A little fiefdom in Facebook you can call your own. You get to set the rules and expectations. You can build a loyal following and not rely on ads to drive business.
  • Cons: Growing and managing a Facebook group is a lot of work and requires daily interaction. There’s no guarantee that your group will turn into customers.

What about…?

There are plenty of other social media platforms out there, review sites, email newsletters, and other opportunities for businesses like yours to reach your ideal customers. We actually did a big rundown of all the places you can advertise online which you can check out.

Next Steps

I’m not suggesting anyone throw the baby out with the Meta-water. Apple’s privacy setting may turn out to be a minor hurdle for Facebook. Meta still knows a lot about us. You can still upload your email list to Facebook for targeting. You can still retarget on Facebook. If other businesses leave Meta ad platforms that will bring down the cost of ads, which will also bring down your customer acquisition costs.

But this moment in time does pose an excellent opportunity to experiment with other platforms. Tik Tok anyone? Reddit? 

If you’re interested in playing around on other platforms, but want to reduce your risk, or want some help in developing your strategy or creatives, we’re here to help. We work with businesses of all sizes and budgets of most sizes to attract clients and generate a positive ROI.

Reach out to our digital marketing team today!

Expert Quote - Rich Brooks

Rich Brooks is founder and president of flyte new media, a digital agency in Portland, Maine, that’s been in business for 25 years. He is a nationally recognized speaker on entrepreneurship, digital marketing, and social media.

He founded The Agents of Change, an annual conference and weekly podcast that focuses on search, social & mobile marketing. He recently co-founded Fast Forward Maine, a podcast and workshop series for growing Maine businesses.

Rich is the author of The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing, a popular and well-received book that helps entrepreneurs and marketers reach more of their ideal customers online.