Category Archives for "Facebook Ads"

April 6, 2020

Do Facebook ads work for B2B?

Last week we looked at how Facebook ads can often contribute to assisted conversions, rather than last click conversions. (Catch up here if you missed it).

Subscriber Martin replied saying:

This is a clear B2C example. Yet you assert with no evidence that “Even in B2B, a Facebook ad can act as a visual prompt or nudge.”

I assert with an equal amount of evidence that “In B2B, a Facebook ad can act as a turn-off or a deterrent.”


There is a short answer and a long answer.

The short answer is that unless you personally are going to buy all of the services you sell for the next 12 months, your personal vendetta of Facebook ads doesn’t matter very much, so you should test it out and gather some data.

Short answers however don’t win you many friends or close many deals… so there is a longer answer.

To some extent we all frame our advertising platform choices with our own personal media habits and experiences.

I’ve known Martin for a few years – this isn’t our first debate about Facebook ads. He doesn’t like the majority of ads that appear in his feed – something I can relate to. So consequently he doesn’t want to run Facebook ads to promote his B2B business.

My experience as a consultant is that nothing I say will overcome that media bias. It’s better just to accommodate the bias and adjust the strategy, say by incorporating LinkedIn instead of Facebook. You should only run ads in places you’re comfortable with.

So having said that, what are my key learnings from running Facebook ads for B2B clients this year?

1. It’s not easy

If you sell to businesses, pretty much all your customers are on Facebook. But none of them go to Facebook to see your ad or buy anything. Which makes Facebook a difficult nut to crack.

(It’s not easy, and you probably won’t get the offer and messaging right first time. But your customers are all there, so stick with it…)

Facebook is more like Google Display than Google Search. If you’ve never run a successful Google Display campaign (very few people have), then this is why Facebook advertising is also hard. Your campaigns are unlikely to be a runaway success out of the gate.

2. Your strategy should be remarketing driven

For B2B, Facebook is usually best used as a remarketing platform, i.e. by showing ads to:

– Existing customers (assuming you have more than 1000)

– Recent offline enquiries (assuming you have more than 1000)

– Recent visitors to key pages on your website (again, more than 1000)

– People who have watched 50% or more of key video content you’ve natively uploaded to Facebook (ideally more than 1000)

Notice the volume constraints. If you sell B2B and have 500 people a month on your website, Facebook is not going to be a big part of your ads strategy. You won’t hit sufficient volume to get traction with the ads.

Audience selection (who you run ads to) is perhaps even more important than in B2C. You primarily want to run ads to people who are already in the buying process. You may run a subset of ads to nurture older prospects (perhaps by offering more educational content), but most of your spend should go on recently engaged prospects. If you don’t have too many of those people then Facebook won’t be a key part of your follow-up strategy.

3. What to say and offer

B2B audiences on Facebook generally do not want a free consultation, a free quote, a call back, or similar calls to action you might use on Google Search. They’re on Facebook to avoid consultations, callbacks and quotes!

Lead magnets can work (e.g. free reports and guides). However, if you’re going to offer a report, don’t give it a stuffy corporate title, or call it a ‘whitepaper’. People on Facebook do not want to download whitepapers, although they sometimes will if you wrap it in more appealing packaging.

The download has to be of immediate use and interest, and it has to be enjoyable to read. It also has to be easy to download, without completing a form that has 17 fields.

The most successful B2B Facebook ads I’ve run this year have been remarketing ads (to people recently on the website) offering ‘insider guides’. The ad should explain that the insider guide will stop the reader wasting tremendous amounts of money (you might replace ‘money’ with ‘budget’ in the ad copy) by making the wrong decision.

To get people’s attention, you have to draw attention to a bad decision they’re in the process of making, that will cost their company significant money. And likely make them look bad, and make them miserable for 6-9 months while they repair the damage. You can’t say that directly in the ad, but that’s what you should allude to.

Think: what wrong decisions are your prospects about to make that will cost their company huge amounts of money? That’s what you need to write about in your lead magnet. Or talk about if your lead magnet is a video or webinar – those can also work.

The most successful ads have a combination of timely relevance, unexpectedness and fun. (Fun does not mean using 17 types of emoji – that makes you a child).

You can’t bore people into converting. My experience is that clients who are overly concerned with tone and brand guidelines do not run effective Facebook ads. Give the ads some voice. Preferably your own voice.

4. Ask them to tag the main decision maker in a comment

If the sales process involves multiple people, it can be worth asking them to tag relevant people in their organisation in a comment. I’ve seen that work. Something like: “work with someone who needs this? Tag them in a comment below.”

5. Don’t remarket for too long

People should only really see your lead magnet ads for a few days after visiting your website (which is why the volume restrictions are so critical). After that you might move them to a longer duration audience where you periodically boost new blog posts to them. Of course if they click through to read a blog post, they return to Day 0 and you promote the lead magnet again.

Closing Thoughts

It’s correct to say that Facebook isn’t natively a B2B environment, which is why the audience (who you’re running ads to) and the strategy (what you’re offering in your ads) has to be carefully considered. Get it wrong and you’ll waste a load of money.

If you sell to very large companies, Facebook decreases in importance while LinkedIn increases in importance.

But you CAN use the platform to move people along, remind people who got distracted, and add value. Aim to serve and help in your ads. Don’t try to sell in your Facebook ads – it won’t work.

And do remember to document your campaigns. An undocumented campaign can only help you if it succeeds (which it often won’t).

Any questions, comments, disagreements? Post them below.


March 30, 2020

How Facebook Ads really convert – mini case study

Pact coffee ad

We’re at crisis point in the Drummond household. What could have caused said crisis? A coughing fit? A shortage of toilet paper?


We’ve run out of ground coffee.


The shops don’t have any of course, because now everyone else is also at home, drinking coffee. It’s no longer just me having a secret daytime affair with the Nespresso machine.

So on and off all day I’ve been thinking… where can I get coffee?

About 20 minutes ago, inspiration struck. I remembered a Facebook ad I had seen for Pact Coffee, offering me 2 bags of ground coffee for £10. A bit steep for normal circumstances, but these are desperate times. This was the ad:

Pact coffee ad

Why did I see this Facebook ad? I don’t know for certain. It’s not a remarketing ad – I’ve never been on their website before today. I do remember receiving a flyer a few years ago with a Naked Wines delivery, so they could be targeting me because I like Naked Wines.

As is the way with Facebook ads, you can’t find the ad when you actually want it. So instead I did a Google brand search for ‘pact coffee’, clicked on the organic listing and signed up directly.

In Pact Coffee’s Google Analytics statistics, I’ll look like an organic search visitor. Organic search will take the credit for my order. When in fact, I was only using Google search because I couldn’t find the Facebook ad I had seen.

Technically Facebook may assign some credit to the ad as a view-through conversion, because I viewed the Facebook ad and converted later via a different channel. But in fact, the Facebook ad was much more than an ‘assist’. If I hadn’t have seen the Facebook ad, I’d have never done the brand search for ‘pact coffee’.

This is not an isolated example. Many purchases happen this way. Even in B2B, a Facebook ad can act as a visual prompt or nudge. You won’t see many direct ‘last click’ conversions, but the impact is real.

According to Jonathan, all his ‘big player’ PPC clients are on Google AND Facebook for this reason. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Something to think about.

April 26, 2019

8 Things to Understand About Facebook

I want to point out a few things that are easy to forget when creating Facebook ads.

1. Facebook has always been a personal medium – a place we go to snoop on and interact with people we know. Or even better, people we used to know…

2. It isn’t your right to appear in anyone’s Facebook newsfeed. It’s a privilege that can very easily be taken away. Viewing it that way changes the way you write your ads.

3. The first question we ask when we scroll past an ad is: “who the hell is this?” If you’re not famous or a friend, you better have something super-compelling to say.

4. There is no secret story formula to write super-compelling ads. People who don’t know you don’t want to hear an epic sob story.

5. Unless your business relates to a hobby or interest (an ACTUAL hobby: not property, marketing or something) it is hard to get traction with people who don’t know you. Often the clicks are just too expensive.

6. Facebook is highly visual, and well-suited to video. You might consider promoting videos to people who don’t know you, and only running conventional ads to people who watch the videos.

7. Your ad image is as important as your ad copy. (Without an effective image, nobody will read the copy).

8. As a starting point, I’d plan on spending 75% of your Facebook ads budget on people who already know you (through retargeting).

January 21, 2019

The Facebook ad story formula

The current formula for Facebook ads seems to be:

1. Find some photo of you on holiday somewhere. Preferably with your kids, spouse, or even some other random person. (It doesn’t matter too much, as long as the person is cool or attractive.)
2. Write out a sob story of how you were ‘down and out’, eating bread out of the gutter, sending your kids to school in rags.
3. Switch from sob story into the ‘revelation’; the moment you finally cracked the code to unlimited effort-free riches.
4. Explain how you now enjoy unlimited freedom working from anywhere in the world, earning unlimited amounts of cash.
5. Tell me that, merely in exchange for my email address, you’ll share the secrets you’ve uncovered to live your luxurious lifestyle.
6. Finally, talk down to me some more by telling me I would be ‘insane’ not to ‘change my life’ with this rare and one-time opportunity.

I understand the structure of why ads are constructed in this way. Stories do help to gain and keep attention. But the reality is that most people on Facebook don’t want to read your sob story. At least not to begin with, and not in a patronising, arrogant Facebook post.

The fundamental problem is that the story is used as a gimmick. The motivation of the advertiser isn’t to help me. The motivation of the advertiser is to manipulate me (or in my case, make me really angry), gather my email address, and make a fast buck.

You have to wonder… if they were so happy with their luxurious beach lifestyle, why would they bother?

When you tell stories in your marketing you have to examine your motivation. Are you looking to manipulate people? Or are are you genuinely trying to help, first and foremost?

I see a lot of the former, and not much of the latter.

January 16, 2019

The Facebook Disaster Chronicles

On Sunday I received an email from Facebook. Subject: ‘Ad Account Disabled for Policy Violation’.

“I wonder who that is…” I wondered.

I have access to a number of client’s Facebook accounts. None of whom do anything shady, but some are more overtly in the ‘make money online’ industry than others.

I was shocked then to find out that the disabled account was none other than… mine!

No reason why. Just a message saying, “Your ad account has been disabled for promoting ads that violate our Advertising Policies.”

Whoever has caused this must be taking crack, because I’m not violating any policies. I haven’t had any ads disapproved recently. I haven’t even run many ads for a while.

My Facebook ads strategy currently consists of a Facebook page likes campaign. I then periodically boost posts to my page subscribers. Usually my goal is engagement – there isn’t even an offer. Or at best, a soft one.

So I lodged an appeal. Yesterday, I had a message back, and an apology. ‘Ad account re-enabled. Sorry for the confusion.’

Then today – another email. Ad account disabled again. Violation of advertising policies. Again, no explanation.

To say that I’m furious is an understatement. I was speculating with a client yesterday that Facebook are basically either evil or incompetent. The exchange I’ve had with them indicates the latter, but I haven’t completely dismissed the former.

Fortunately Facebook ads aren’t a core part of my marketing right now, but they easily could have been.

“Watch yourself,” is all I’m saying. Diversify your lead generation. Facebook’s incompetence could strike at any time.

December 19, 2018

Write effective Facebook ads – part 2

We were talking yesterday about Facebook ads. Many people seem to be looking for the optimal ad format, or tactical hacks.

In my experience, the best ads have a great offer that is easy to redeem, and a great ad concept (a strong tie between image and ad text). The story and copy then supports the offer and concept.

I do have a story framework I often use as a starting point, but before I tell you what it is I need to reiterate that this is in no way prescriptive. It’s more of an aid, or a starting point.

The story structure I use follows the ‘closed sandwich’ format, where you open and finish the ad text with content, and sandwich the story in the middle. You can and should experiment with different story structures (don’t just take what I suggest here as gospel), but I usually include a story that contains one ‘up’ and one ‘down’.

(An ‘up’ being a positive event, a ‘down’ a negative one.)

Which isn’t to say the story has to be necessarily short. It could be a very detailed up, and a very detailed down. But if you’re advertising to a cold audience and you include more than one up and one down, you increase the risk of the reader giving up and scrolling on by.

Consider this ad for example:

Re-engagement ad

Headline: Send a Dead List This Email

**Free Re-Engagement email template – Word doc format**

Discover how to bring a cold email list back to life, without mass unsubscribes…

One of my earliest email lists was a hobby site, about archery. Over five years I built up a list of 5500 names. When people would opt-in, I sent them my five best articles on traditional archery, one day after another. People loved these emails! The feedback was great, but after the fifth article my readers fell off a ledge…

No more emails. Nada. Zip.

In 2013 I decided to re-engage the list. The problem? Most of the people on it had forgotten who I was. I needed an email to reintroduce myself, and offer them something of value…

This free email template is what I sent them. It follows a very particular, carefully crafted structure to maximise engagement and minimise unsubscribe.

If you have a cold list, I’d love you to put it to the test. Grab a copy at


**Free Re-Engagement email template – Word doc format**

This line is effectively my headline. I’m including a clear offer in the headline – I’m appealing heavily to self-interest. I prefer using the double asterisks to draw attention, rather than using emojis.

Discover how to bring a cold email list back to life, without mass unsubscribes…

This is the opening ‘bread’ in the sandwich – my initial line of content. People make a split-second decision whether or not to read your ad. So unless the audience knows you well I suggest you tell the reader where you are heading, rather than launching into a story.

One of my earliest email lists was a hobby site, about archery. Over five years I built up a list of 5500 names. When people would opt-in, I sent them my five best articles on traditional archery, one day after another. People loved these emails! The feedback was great, but after the fifth article my readers fell off a ledge…

This is the ‘up’ in the story, and also a little context for the reader.

No more emails. Nada. Zip.

In 2013 I decided to re-engage the list. The problem? Most of the people on it had forgotten who I was. I needed an email to reintroduce myself, and offer them something of value…

This is the ‘down’. I could go into more detail here. At the time I actually had subscribers emailing me, asking where I had gone.

This free email template is what I sent them. It follows a very particular, carefully crafted structure to maximise engagement and minimise unsubscribe.

If you have a cold list, I’d love you to put it to the test. Grab a copy at

This is the closing section of content, or the second piece of ‘bread’ in the closed sandwich format.

Is this an optimal ad? No. Did it do okay, to a cold audience? Yes. Likes and shares on the ad is also a very good sign. Facebook rewards ads with high engagement rates.

Notice the story is there, but it’s not exactly ‘epic’. It’s fairly offer driven. The colder the audience, the fewer liberties you can take with their attention, and the more direct your offers should be.

Notice also that the landing page repeats the image from the ad. This is important. If you’re sending people to a page on your website, there needs to be a consistent visual element with the ad they just clicked on.

The secret to writing Facebook ads – in my opinion – is to test very different ads in a prolific way, and quickly kill ads that fail. It’s easy to get emotionally attached to an ad. Which is arguably why running Facebook ads is never a one man job.

There will be more examples of Facebook ads in the revised version of Simple Story Selling, coming early next year.

December 18, 2018

Write effective Facebook ads

I’m currently making some updates to my copywriting book Simple Story Selling, adding in extra sections on Facebook and Google ads. I’ll be publishing snippets of the updated content in this week’s emails…

The conversations online about Facebook ads are mostly tactical. For example:

– What is the right video dimension to use?

– Should you fill the ad full of emojis?

– Should you use video or image ads?

– Should you use a lead ad, or send people to a landing page?

None of those things matter as much as coming up with a great concept for your ad.

Facebook isn’t a problem – solution environment. People are on Facebook to avoid thinking deeply about the problems they have, let alone find solutions. Most people are bored out of their skull scrolling through their newsfeed.

Your ad image or video still is the thing that will stop people scrolling past. Once you have their attention, the ad copy is what convinces them to take action.

Which means you should pay close attention to your images.

An effective Facebook ad image should graphically illustrate the concept of your ad. If you’re an expert at business turnarounds, perhaps the image is of a car smashing into a wall. Or of a toddler crawling across a boardroom table.

The images that work best on Facebook are the ones you almost didn’t run, because your business partner didn’t like them, or because you thought they were stupid. Anything that looks like a stock image normally won’t work. Faces in images is often a good idea (after all, this is Facebook).

Serious ads do not generally work on Facebook. Your ads have to be entertaining, and not too serious.

You should run Facebook ads on the assumption that most of your ads will fail. The ad that works best will be one wacko ad you almost never ran. In all successful ads the image illustrates the key idea your ad is trying to communicate.

People look at the image first, and decide whether or not to read the first sentence. Based on the first sentence, they’ll decide whether or not to read the second. And so on. The presence or absence of emojis in the copy is not a part of this decision.

Almost all good Facebook ads tell a story in some way, starting with the image. Your ad copy then continues the story started by the image.

Many people seem to be looking for a story formula for Facebook ads. A secret key that once discovered will unlock the secret to unlimited Facebook leads.

I don’t think there is an optimal story formula, because the type of story you tell and the way you tell it will vary depending on remarketing. If the audience already know you in some way, lengthy personal stories can work well (as long as they illustrate something important to the reader about their own life).

For cold traffic (people who don’t know you, and would rather you weren’t in their newsfeed), the story has to be more direct, and more obviously related to their situation.

For cold Facebook ads, the formula I suggest you start with is:

Get their attention with an image. The opening line of text in the ad acts as your headline. I will sometimes put *asterisk symbols* around the opening sentence, although this isn’t essential (test it).

Give them a line of content. Tell them where you are heading with the ad, or what the offer is. E.g. “These are the things my toddler taught me about business turnaround success…” (if using the toddler boardroom image).

Open your story with a dramatic drop, or low point. Some disaster that the reader will relate to, even if they don’t want to admit it.

Then include an up. ‘This is how I got out of the hole…’

Then invite them to continue the story by opting in, or redeeming your offer. The offer should be zero risk – a ‘no brainer’. It should also be simple to redeem. If you are offering a free book, don’t make them first register their email, then confirm their email, then confirm their address. They just won’t do it.

I’ll provide an example tomorrow.

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