Facebook Lead Ads Done Right

Facebook lead ads have been responsible for over half of the growth my team at Vendasta has driven in the last two years.

A lead ad is an ad that shows up in the newsfeed like any other promo. The difference is when someone clicks on it, a native card pops up in Facebook that acts as a landing page. If the person is interested in learning more or accepting the offer, they submit a form that’s pre-populated with their info.

Above: An example of a Facebook lead ad for a real estate agent. The real estate agent offers a free quote, and prospects fill out a form with the click of a button and pre-populated information.

At Vendasta, lead ads perform 8x better than ads that go to external landing pages. It’s about keeping people on one platform and helping them convert as easily as possible.

Here’s our recipe for lead ad success.

Step 1: Write ads with industry-specific copy

When writing lead ads, always use the name of your clients’ business or industry.

If you’re targeting agencies, say “agencies”.

If you’re targeting dentists, say “dentists”.

My head of social marketing, Jamie Taylor, says, “If you’re not getting leads, I can tell you that this is the primary reason why. In the 333 ad campaigns I created last year, there were two that didn’t convert. Why? My targeting was dialled-in, but my messages didn’t use the target’s job or industry title and didn’t catch their attention.”

How do you find the right message?

Jamie says: “I like to go old-school Mad Men. I start with a blank canvas, jotting down a succession of questions about my product and how it pertains to my audience. Each question leads to another. When the questions stop, you’ve found your message. You can spend hours, days finding it, but dammit, it’s worth it.”

Step 2: Set up lead ads

If you’re not familiar with setting up lead ads, follow these guides:

In case you’re curious, here’s the most successful lead ad I’ve ever run:

The visual communicates what the offer is about, and the copy cuts straight to the chase. When a person clicks Learn More, they get this card:

Bullet points explain the services and add social proof, and then the form below is pre-populated with the prospect’s Facebook contact information.

It’s not rocket science, but it works well. Really, really well.

Step 3: Use past lead ad conversions for lookalike audiences

Whenever possible, leverage your data from past lead ad conversions to create Lookalike Audiences. My team has tested many audiences using conversion data from other channels, but none come close to using lead ad conversions from Facebook itself.

Here’s another tip: don’t fear large audiences.

The first time my team tried a Lookalike audience with lead ad conversions, Facebook returned an audience 2.7 million large.

Immediately, my red flag went up.

Marketers are told from day one to target as narrowly as possible. “Never mass blast”, “keep your audiences narrow”, etc.

Lo and behold, after testing the 2.7M audience, it was bang on. Over 80% of the conversions were—and continue to be—qualified leads.

Step 4: Change your bidding strategy

Once you’ve found an audience that’s dialled in (they’re converting well) and ad content that’s relevant (ad relevance of 8+), it’s time to fiddle with bidding.

If you’ve been using Facebook’s auto-bid setting, switch to manual bid and raise it to the higher end of the auction. This puts your ads near the top of the pile where you’ll be hitting news feeds at max capacity.

Again, only do this with your best ads.

Since ad relevance is high, you’ll be able to get low cost per results, as Facebook favors content its users like. Our team regularly bids $40 to get high delivery but converts at a fraction of the bid, around $9. As with anything, your mileage may vary.

Step 5: Track ROI in Data Studio

The analytics you get from Facebook are good, but they’re nothing compared to the insights you can squeeze out of Google Data Studio when combined with your CRM data.

This is what my high-level Facebook campaign dashboard looks like:

It’s not until the last column that you get the full picture. Some campaigns have a lower cost per lead (CPL) but don’t result in as much revenue as other campaigns and vice versa. You need fully loaded costs and the lifetime value of your customers to arrive here.

If you only calculate the return on ad spend of a Facebook ad based on its POS data or pixel tracking, you’ll lose sight of the whole picture. Hence, Data Studio.

Here’s where I’m going with this…

In the software-as-a-service (SaaS) world, there are a few metrics that really matter to the health of your business, specifically:

  1. The lifetime value (LTV) of your customers versus your customer acquisition cost (CAC). As a rule of thumb, your LTV:CAC ratio should be greater than 3.
  2. The time it takes to recover your customer acquisition cost (CAC). As a rule of thumb, this should be 12 months or less.

Lifetime value is extremely important for subscription-based businesses, but it’s also applicable for other businesses—and not always difficult to calculate.

When deciding where to “pour gas on the fire” (i.e., where to increase spend), I first look at LTV:CAC and see which campaigns rank highest. If payback period also looks good—around 12 months—those are the ones I’ll double down on. In the case of the dashboard above, I would likely increase spend on the first six campaigns and cut the last five.

Those metrics, along with other key data points that drive sales (e.g., presentations completed, bookings, churn, etc.) can’t be found directly in Facebook, and I’ve found that Data Studio is the easiest way to visualize these metrics with your CRM data by far.

If SaaS metrics tickle your fancy, give this post by David Skok a read: SaaS Metrics – A Guide to Measuring and Improving What Matters.


Devon Hennig

Devon Hennig is a published author with a background in lead generation, brand development, and event speaking. He lives in Toronto and works as VP of Demand Generation at Vendasta.

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