Between client work and the campaigns my ad consultant trainees are running, I’m knee deep in Facebook ad data right now. There are some trends that I keep seeing pop up across lots of accounts, plus a few tactics that really work, that I thought everyone running list building ads could benefit from.
So here are 4 things that are working right now when it comes to Facebook ads for list building:
- Approach every campaign expecting it to act like no campaign you’ve ever run before.
- Ads work when you’re offering something people REALLY want.
- Test out traffic and conversions as your objective at the start of your campaign.
- When you’ve found the perfect combo of audience and ads, scale your results by duplicating the ad set.
Now let’s go deep into each one:
#1: Approach every campaign expecting it to act like no campaign you’ve ever run before.
I’ve seen this over and over: people go to turn on ads that were KILLING it a few months or even a year ago, and they’re astounded by the expensive results.
And it’s not like this doesn’t happen to the pros either! I’m currently struggling with it myself for one of my clients. Her opt-ins used to get leads for $2 USD at the most, but normally they were closer to $1 or less.
What’s changed? That’s an interesting question.
I can tell you that in the case of my client for multiple opt-ins, the CPMs are high across the board. That means that it’s costing me more to get her ads shown.
These are ads with great click-through rates, solid relevance scores and great conversion rates on the landing page. But each click on the link costs more because of these high CPMs, which means every lead we get costs more as well.
If all of my clients were seeing these expensive CPMs, I would say that Facebook is simply increasing their prices to get your ads seen. But CPM numbers vary from campaign to campaign, and client to client, which means one thing:
These particular ads aren’t working anymore, and we have to find a new strategy for list building.
The fact that the same ads were performing extremely well just months ago doesn’t guarantee anything. So be aware of that reality, and use it to manage your expectations.
And if your ads are performing well now, don’t turn them off! Let them run at a budget you can afford, and pay attention to how those leads are converting to customers. (You can get details on long-term ROI tracking in this post.)
You may not always get such great results, so try to capitalize on them while you can.
#2. Ads work when you’re offering something people REALLY want.
Warning: this can be a tough pill to swallow, but it’s an important one.
If your list building ads aren’t working despite testing tons of audiences and creative, it’s possible that people don’t want what you’re giving away.
I’ve been a B2B business – a.k.a. a business that serves other business owners – since 2011. I’ve been running ads to my free guide to Facebook ads since 2014. Back in 2014, there weren’t that many free trainings about Facebook ads, so it was easier for me to get people to sign up.
The other important thing to note is that there were far fewer online B2B businesses back in 2014. Now you can’t scroll through Facebook (or Instagram) as a business owner without seeing a barrage of ads that are asking for your email address in exchange for some PDF report, video series or webinar.
An email address may seem like a small ask. But you and I both know what happens when I sign up for your free content: I get added to your list. I get emails from you that clog up my inbox. I might get pitched your product, service or some affiliate offering.
If you’re not in the B2B space, congratulations! The people you’re trying to reach are hopefully less exposed to online marketing tactics than the average online business owner is. That means higher click-through rates, cheaper CPMs and cheaper leads in general.
But if you’re a B2B business owner like myself, you’ve got two options when it comes to successful list building campaigns:
- You accept that quality leads with your existing free content are probably going to cost you more than $3 a pop, or
- You come up with a free offer that people REALLY want.
In case you need a reminder, here are things that many business owners REALLY want:
- More money
- More clients (or better clients)
- More customers (or higher paying customers)
- More time (which actually means they want to do less than they’re currently doing so they can spend their finite time on things they want to do instead of have to do)
- More popularity
- More vacation (which comes down to both money and time; money to pay for said vacation in addition to regular life expenses, and the time to leave business operations without putting the business in jeopardy)
- More confidence (because self-doubt is a BITCH)
- More traffic (which means more customers, clients and money)
- More subscribers (once again, that means more customers, clients and money)
- More clarity about how to grow your business (more money AND more confidence)
- Step-by-step instructions for the hard things (more confidence)
- Plug-and-play templates or swipe files (more confidence, time, money)
- More support (more confidence and money)
What does all this mean? NOT that you should create a new opt-in about how to get more traffic to your blog if you’re a web designer.
What it means is that you need to be constantly thinking about what your audience WANTS and NEEDS. That age old question, “what are you struggling with?” is important because it can tell you exactly how to solve people’s problems! And when you can solve someone’s problem, even in a small way from a free PDF, they are going to love you.
Give your lead magnet a hard look and ask yourself, “Would people pay to get what I’m giving away?”
If the answer is no, it’s time for a new list building approach.
Here are some list building ads I love because they speak to the very specific problem that the opt-in content solves:
From Jasmine Star:
From Adrienne Dorison:
From Betty Means Business:
From Melyssa Griffin:
#3: Test out traffic and conversions as your objective at the start of your campaign.
Enough about strategy. Here come the tactics, baby!
“Claire told me to use Conversions.”
“Kimra says to use Traffic.”
“Amy said to do XYZ…”
Yeah. There are a lot of people out there teaching about Facebook ads. And in general, they are brilliant people with really valuable things to teach you.
But it doesn’t really matter what we say is the “right” way, because when it comes to Facebook ads, there simply is no “right” way anymore. Everything you do is a test.
So here’s an easy list building test that I run for myself AND my clients. You can implement it with an extra 5 minutes the next time you run ads:
- Create a campaign and choose Conversions for your objective.
- Put together your ad sets and ads as normal. (I’d create at least 2 ad sets so that you test out a couple of audiences at once.)
- Then create a NEW campaign and choose Traffic as your objective.
- Duplicate the ad sets from the Conversions campaign, and select your Traffic campaign for where the duplicated ad sets should go.
- Go into the NEW ad sets (not the original) and under Optimization for each one, select Link Clicks.
- Push both campaigns live.
When you run this test, you will spend double the amount that you would if you were just running one campaign.
But after just 48 hours, you will see a clear winner: one of those campaigns will net you cheaper sign-ups than the other. Turn off the campaign with the more expensive conversions.
Don’t just listen to the experts: test out your different options and use what works this time around.
#4: When you’ve found the perfect combo of audience and ads, scale your results by duplicating the ad set.
Scaling good results can be hard. If you want to increase the budget of a high-performing ad set, be sure to do it slowly. (I increase by 10% every couple of days.)
But a much faster way to do it is to simply duplicate the ad set that’s doing well, change nothing, and push it live!
Yes, that means you’ll have two ad sets showing the same ads to the exact same audience, but if your audiences are in the millions, then chances are there won’t be that much overlap.
Just make sure to watch the results closely. The new ad set doesn’t always perform as well as the original, so you’ll be the judge about when to turn it off.
That’s it! Go forth and improve your list building ads.
Leave your questions for me in the comments below and I’ll do my very best to answer them!