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Have you been thinking of Facebook Ads only in terms of sales? Stop!

Published: January 29, 2014

Author: James Scherer

FunnelSure, Facebook ads are awesome for advertising a sale, promotion, or campaign for your ecommerce store, or ‘selling’ free-trials to a highly-targeted market, but what about re-thinking Facebook Ads entirely? What if you, instead, think of them as lead-capture tools?
Fact: Clicking on an ad on a social site is usually the first step towards a sale rather than the last. As a result, advertisers are undervaluing social advertising by as much as 116%.
Re-thinking Facebook Ads with a different goal in mind has an amazing influence on the ROI, as you can stop measuring only immediate conversions and instead consider ads as an investment towards an end goal.
This article will discuss the idea of Facebook Ads as the top of your sales funnel, rather than the middle or a direct link to a sale. I’ll give you four proven strategies to generate leads with Facebook ads and give you the best practices for those strategies to ensure you’re maximizing your ROI.

Here’s how it works.

1. Lead Capture with Ebook Promotion

Ebook promotion is my favorite way to generate leads for B2B companies. And Facebook Ads are the perfect accompaniment.

Here’s the step-by-step process I use:

1. Write four or five awesome blog articles on the same subject
2. Compile all that information into one comprehensive (and beautiful) ebook
3. Create an ebook landing page within your website – detailing everything you’ll learn from the ebook and generally how valuable it is
4. Make the ebook ‘email-gated’, meaning traffic to the page has to fill out an entry form to get access
5. Advertise your ebook on Facebook to a lookalike audience or by specific precise interests (like A/B Testing, for instance). See ‘targeting by lookalike audience’ below for more details.

Example with best practices:

Ebook AdTop Tip: Place a conversion tracking pixel on the “Thanks for your interest. Here’s the free ebook!” page (after you’ve generated the lead) and tie it to the corresponding Facebook ad to track how well your ebook’s landing page is converting Facebook traffic. 

2. Lead Capture with a Social Contest

The most reliable strategy for lead capture on Facebook is running a contest (no, I’m not saying this because I work for a company that makes Facebook contests. Ask around).

Before I go much further I’d like to clear something up, and please bear with me:
Yes, Google AdWords is powerful. About 90% of its efficacy is based on the people who see those ads being interested in purchasing in that moment. Let’s call this ‘buyer’s intent’ (because that’s what it’s called…).
Facebook Ads don’t work this way. With Facebook advertising, you don’t have buyer’s intent to capitalize on. You don’t know what people are thinking about when they see your ad (though I’ll bet you whatever you’d like that it’s not your company). As a result, you have to give them something to pique their interest: value that can be quickly and easily communicated in the microsecond their eye snaps to your attention-grabbing Facebook ad image.
Here’s where contests come in.

Why they work well:

-Easy to understand value: dollar signs, the words ‘Free’, ‘Win’ and ‘Sweepstakes’
-Extremely low risk: a Facebook Like, or an email address, is worth so little to a Facebook user compared to the awesomeness of your business’ prize
-Eye-catching images: Whether it’s a product or a sweepstakes, contests lend themselves fantastically to Facebook advertising

Example with best practices:
Get away
Top Tip: Whatever you do, remember that your contest’s prize needs to be relevant to your business. Offering straight cash or a random iPad will get you a bunch of leads, but none of them will continue through your sales funnel. Capturing leads with a relevant prize (like a product, free trial or gift card) means capturing leads who are genuinely interested in your service or products, hugely increasing the chance they’ll buy in the future. Think about it: do you want 1000 leads and a 10% conversion rate? Or 500 leads with a 50% conversion rate?

3. Lead Capture with Event Invitation

The best part of Facebook advertising is the targeting capabilities. Targeting well can be the difference between a .04% click-through-rate and a .2% click-through-rate. When advertising an event, it’s especially essential that you target intelligently.
Targeting an event (grand opening, conference, etc.) for lead generation comes down to three targeting strategies: location, precise interest, and lookalike audience.
Target your event by location: Depending on the event you’re advertising, it can be essential that you target by location. For instance, say you’re opening another branch in your successful chain of cafes. If the branch is opening in Minneapolis, why would you show your Facebook ad in Houston?
However, advertising something like a successful marketing conference may not require you target by location as it may be relevant (if your conference is popular enough) to people all over the country.
Target your event by precise interest: Targeting your business’ event based on job title or stated interests (for instance, targeting a digital marketing conference at CMOs or Facebook users who have stated, in no uncertain terms, their interest in digital marketing) is an awesome tool for lead generation.
You’re offering the ability to network, hear a thought-leader in their sector speak and market themselves and their brands. However, if they’re a math teacher from Detroit, they’re not going to have any interest whatsoever in clicking through – so put some effort into targeting.
Target by lookalike audience: Hopefully you’re familiar with the lookalike audience. If not, here’s the synopsis in a single sentence: Once you’ve uploaded your existing contact list into a Facebook Ads tool, Facebook can generate a ‘lookalike audience’ of users with similar characteristics (interests, broad category, demographics) to your uploaded list.

Here’s how lookalike audiences work for lead generation and event advertising:

-Upload the contact list of a similar event or conference to the one you’re advertising (the attendees to the 3rd annual, for instance, if you’re advertising the 4th)
-Create a lookalike audience to this list
-Target your Facebook ad at this lookalike audience, knowing that the Facebook users who see it have the exact characteristics of Facebook users who have attended before

Example with best practices:

Yes, I did pretend I was the featured guest speaker at a made-up digital marketing conference.

4. Lead Capture with Facebook Page Advertising

What is a Facebook Like except a lead? Ten years ago (on February 4th – what are you doing to celebrate?), Facebook opened a 24/7 line of communication between business and consumer. A Facebook Like gives you free access to promote your brand to consumers who have stated their interest.

But you have to remember why they’re Following you…
Fact: 57% of social media users Follow a brand for access to competitions and free stuff (source: renderpositive.com).
This is an easy fact to forget – but doing so can cause your social media brand profile to struggle. Stop offering them value and you’ll find your Followers dropping off the map. Most Facebook Fans aren’t there because they love you (only about 16% say they follow a brand out of brand loyalty), but this doesn’t mean they’re not influenced by what you do on the platform.

Here’s three ways to generate Likes on Facebook (and therefore leads):

-Create Facebook-exclusive deals and promotions, with promotional codes only on the one platform
-Create Facebook contests with a ‘Like-Gate’ right on the platform: Clicking ‘Like’ will traffic the Facebook user to the entry form and further details. They can’t get there without doing so.
-Create a Facebook app or voting contest, where encouraging friends to ‘Like’ your brand generates points or more votes

page ad

Top Tip: You may have noticed that Facebook’s Edgerank algorithm has significantly dropped the organic reach of some of your Facebook posts – especially those that ‘beg for Likes’. This includes those posts with “Click Like if you ___” (which used to be best practice, as they got great engagement). This is not the case with Facebook Ads. Feel free to ask for Likes in your ads and sponsored posts.


 Hopefully you have a better idea of the strategies for generating a business lead with Facebook ads. Consider them a tool to use throughout your sales funnel. Once you capture your lead with a contest or promotion, re-target them with custom audience targeting to nurture them towards a sale. And for those leads that do convert, throw their details back into custom audience and create a lookalike audience of users with similar characteristics to your proven customers.

Have you tried any of these tactics in your own Facebook Ads? Start the conversation below!

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