Tag Archives for " facebook ads "

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 https://www.magneticexpertise.com/reengagement-template


**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 https://www.magneticexpertise.com/reengagement-template

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.

December 6, 2018

Things they don’t tell you about Facebook ads (#3)

The stone cold reality of social media is this:

Unless you run a business that serves people’s hobbies or interests, (I’m thinking music, sport, arts, food and drink…) Facebook ads can be brutally expensive.

That’s my experience.

As I outline in my Magnetic Expertise book, my Facebook strategy is to attract people in from the cold and nurture them over time. It’s a longer-term approach, with more giving involved.

Whenever I talk to business owners about Facebook ads, I find myself bumping into personal opinions.

“I don’t use Facebook…”

“Facebook is for B2C…”


All usually completely devoid of data. In my head, I’m like “well, unless you personally are going to buy all the products you sell for the next three months, your opinions don’t matter very much…

I think we need to reassess how we are using these social media platforms. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter ALL have established ad platforms, ALL with remarketing options. Remarketing isn’t something to tag onto your ads strategy. It IS your main ads strategy!

Unless you cater to hobbies or interests, converting cold prospects into paying customers is a tough ask. I know I can’t do it. It’s stressful for me, it’s stressful for people seeing the ads, and the only entity that wins is Facebook.

But nurturing your warmer prospects on these platforms is definitely something you should consider. Possibly as your main digital strategy for 2019

We go to social media to hear from people we know and like. Are you building an audience of people who know and like you? Or are you throwing good money at people who would rather you went away?

I’ll be working through implementations of these tactics in my members group over the next few months. Which will be the cheapest way to work with me on this. You’re also welcome to discuss a more hands-on project if you want (email me).

Get prepared now – and hit the ground running in 2019.

December 5, 2018

Things they don’t tell you about Facebook ads (#2)

The frustrating thing about Facebook ads is nothing works indefinitely: you need to test a wide range of offers, ads, incentives and bonuses.

The result of which is your ads account can quickly look like a creative bomb site. It quickly becomes difficult to find campaigns you created more than a week ago, or determine what settings you used.

The answer is to use a consistent naming syntax, where information about the campaign, ad set or ad is contained within the name itself.

For example I might name a campaign using the following structure:

Thing I’m promoting | Campaign objective

E.g. ‘Magnetic Expertise book | Conversions’

Within that campaign I’ll have one or more ad sets, which is basically a group of people I’m targeting. I’ll store as much information about the targeting settings as possible in the name, so I know instantly what each is doing.

E.g. ‘Warm 7 Day Audience | US | Mobile | Newsfeed only | £25/day | End 31/12’

My ad might then be called:

‘Book cover image | Funnel rant text | Buy now button | Link to order form’

It takes about an extra ten seconds to name things in that way, but doing so means I can glance at any campaign, ad set or ad, and know exactly what it is supposed to do. As far as I know, there’s no character limit to these names. So give your future self a clue what you were thinking when you set the thing up.

I use a similar naming convention to this in Google AdWords and Infusionsoft. It saves hours of time later on, and is essential if you have multiple people working on these things.

If you wanted to you could shorten your names down to an abbreviated code, but unless you’re operating at scale I’d just use full words separated by pipe signs.

This is a very simple organisational step that very few people do… often because ads are created in a hurry. Taking a few extra seconds to name things correctly is always worth the effort, in any platform.

December 4, 2018

Things they don’t tell you about Facebook ads (#1)

It’s often possible to take a great email and repurpose it into a Facebook ad. Especially if you plan to run the ad to a warm audience. In other words, people who already know you in some way.

The risk is we easily get too attached to the ad’s performance. Which sounds silly, but happens ALL the time.

Unlike Google, a Facebook ad provides unlimited space to work with. You pour your heart into an ad. Then you run it, and everybody yawns in your face.

After that you get the showing up hangover, and disappear for a while. Maybe a long while. Or even permanently. “Facebook doesn’t work,” you tell yourself.

If there was a marketing rule you should take to heart for 2019, it could be this:

It can help to judge your success by the number of experiments you carry out, not by whether they work or not.

Of course, you have to organise and document your experiments. Which we’ll talk about tomorrow.

November 8, 2018

Facebook live: the verdict

Since the start of October I’ve been running a daily-ish Facebook Live video from my True Story Selling Facebook page.

The logic behind this is fairly simple. Each week day I send a daily email. I wanted to see if I can better engage my Facebook audience by creating a live video each day talking about today’s daily email.

Most of my videos are 5-10 minutes long. I’ve already written and sent the email, so talking about it for an additional 10 minutes isn’t much of a hardship. It’s not like, you know, I’m short of opinions or anything.

I have a gut feeling that this is the way Facebook is meant to be used. It fits my mental model of how marketing is supposed to work. Essentially this is a way for me to provide more value up front, before somebody has opted into my list. Facebook Live caters well to low quality production. Which is just as well, as I’m not capable of anything else.

I think Facebook Live is about proliferation, not perfection. It’s really weird talking to a lense, but the more you do it the more normal it becomes.

Some other learnings:

The first time I did a Facebook Live, I made all sorts of mistakes. I tried to cover three things, instead of one. Consequently, the video was 30 minutes, not 5. Who has time for that when they’re scrolling past? Just cover one thing or idea.

I also opened my first ever Facebook Live video by introducing myself, commenting about the weather, and waiting for people to show up.

This was a very stupid thing to do.

Most people do not watch these videos live in real time. The first thing you say has to pull people into your video, like the first line of an email would.

I’ve found that gimmicks and props help to pull people into the email too. I’ve worn hats. I’ve had a conversation with one of Hugo’s toys. These gimmicks do work – you can’t bore people into watching.

I’ve found that if I don’t boost a Facebook Live, Facebook only push it to 5-10% of my total audience. If I boost by £10-£15, this rises to 25% or 30%. Boost any video you’re happy with.

I’d suggest you don’t worry about selling from your Facebook Live videos. The main outcome is you can build an audience of people who watched a certain amount (10 seconds, 25% etc) of ANY of your FB Lives in the last X number of days.

This is KEY Key Key. You should have a little bell running in your head, going DING DING DING. Because you can now run remarketing ads on Facebook to only people who have engaged with you recently.

My opt-in cost to this group is typically £1 per lead, compared to £10 per lead for cold traffic. I also find that cold traffic often doesn’t stick around and stay subscribed.

You can see all of the Facebook Live videos I’ve done since the start of October here. Just note that you’ll start to see remarketing ads if you watch more than 25% of any video ;-)…

Oh please like the page while you’re there, if you haven’t done so already. People who like my page get to see four ads a day from me, instead of two 🙂 :-).

And why not, if the ads are valuable?

October 2, 2018

My Facebook Live experiment

I’ve been experimenting on and off with Facebook Live for about a year now.

The first Facebook Live I ever did was 30 minutes longer than it needed to be, and three times as awkward as I thought it would be. But I did it, and the world didn’t end. The sun still rose the following morning.

I keep coming back to Facebook Live. Facebook WILL push out live videos to fans of your page or members of your group. Even though most people watch the recordings later.

There are a few important trends to consider.

1. All the social media platforms are gearing up for video – especially live video

2. The price of cold traffic on Facebook is going up

If you operate in a niche market it might still be possible to generate profitable leads from cold traffic. But if you work in anything related to ‘making money’, you’ll find that cold Facebook ads are a sinkhole for cash. You either need deep pockets, mad skills, or probably both.

Facebook is really a warm medium. We go on Facebook to see updates from people we know and value in some capacity. Advertising to people who already know you in some way can be very effective.

What’s the best way to warm up cold traffic? I suspect it could well be Facebook Live.

All of this is hard to accept as a writer. I much prefer to hide behind my keyboard than put my face all over social media. Like most people in the world, I have the innate urge to see but not be seen.

Unfortunately if you only ever write to your audience, you’ll dramatically limit your exposure.

So this month I’m doing an experiment.

Each of these emails ends up on my blog. Each weekday this month I’ll also publish a Facebook Live video about 30 minutes after this email goes out (so about 9.30AM UK time).

I’ve already written the email, and published it on my blog. It’s not much work to talk about it for 5-15 minutes on Facebook. I’ll be able to do various things with these videos:

  • I can promote them as paid ads to help build my audience (page likes)
  • I can build remarketing audiences of people who watch particular videos (for running subsequent ads and invites to)

Perhaps most fundamentally, my business should become a little less reliant on email. Of course, generating email opt-ins is still the goal, but it adds an extra level of engagement.

I have various hang-ups against sticking my face in a daily Facebook Live. I’m not really a ‘live’ person. I prefer to be prepared. I prefer to mull over and edit the wording of things. But ultimately that doesn’t matter – Facebook Live doesn’t need to be perfect.

I’ve heard a number of people say that engagement goes up when you lowerproduction – perhaps because it’s more authentic.

Maybe, above all else, we just want to hear from people who are frequently putting an unabashed version of themselves out into the world. There’s something deeply magnetic about that.

I’ll write up the results of this experiment at the end of the month, but feel free to follow along on the True Story Selling Facebook page.

Incidentally previous live streams can be found on the ‘video’ tab.

Grab Maze Remarketing for 1 Penny!

Grab a paperback copy of Maze Remarketing: The 80/20 Approach to Profitable Multi-Channel Retargeting Ads. Just 1 penny plus cost-price worldwide shipping.