Tag Archives for " facebook ads "

August 30, 2018

Do Facebook ads work?

I’m asked fairly regularly about Facebook ads. Do they work?

My smart-ass answer is that like Google, Facebook ads ‘work’ 100% of the time. Facebook will always deliver your ad in accordance with its quality, relevance and settings. That’s really what you’re paying them to do.

But I’ve come to realise the water is muddier than this…

When someone responds to your Facebook ad you have approximately two minutes to pour cement around the relationship. You HAVE to get them to engage with you in some way. It could be that they respond to an email, or click a link in a text message.

Otherwise they generally don’t stay subscribed, because they were never very invested to begin with. At least, that’s been my direct experience.

The other issue I have with Facebook ads is twofold:

1. I don’t like spending large amounts of time on Facebook. It’s a cesspit of distraction.

2. I hate most of the ads in my news feed.

Seriously, the ads that appear make me see red. The ads I get are generally some random guy or gal I’ve never heard of, posing in some hired studio, telling me how they ‘made it’. And that in exchange for my email address, they’ll reveal the seven simple steps to escape my miserable life.

Honestly, I get red mist and start throwing chairs around if I see more than three of these ads in short succession.

It feels like the early days of AdWords, before Google cleaned up the ads. Facebook has sort-of followed suit by introducing relevance score, but I don’t personally see an increase in relevance in my ads.

So what are the rest of us to do? What if you have an offer that isn’t seven magical steps to immediate financial freedom?

(As an aside: after writing that last sentence my email builder is now flashing an orange message saying “this email has content that looks like spam.” Haha. You bet it does!)

I suspect actually that Facebook for regular advertisers is best employed as a warm medium, not a cold one. It’s a way to build relationships with people who are loosely in your world, but perhaps not subscribed to your stuff. My most successful Facebook ads recently have mostly been to warm audiences: either people who like my page or are in a remarketing audience.

A related question one of my Story Selling Insider subscribers asked last week was: does direct marketing copy work in Facebook ads? Should you follow the tested direct mail format of headline; hook; problem; agitate; solution; guarantee?

The short answer: only to a warm audience of people who already know you. Otherwise your ads HAVE to engage as the starting point.

We’ve been talking more about these issues in this month’s edition of Story Selling Insider, both in the print newsletter and the webinar bonus (recording is in the member’s area).

July 9, 2018

Contrarian Facebook ads insights

Do you run Facebook ads? Or have you thought about it?

I run enough Facebook ads to give you an unusual perspective on them.

Most Facebook ads fail, no matter how good you think they are. If you get emotionally attached to the performance of your ads (a VERY real thing when you’re the business owner), you shouldn’t manage your own ads.

Click prices have quietly become very expensive when targeting cold audiences (i.e. people who don’t already know you).

Warm traffic (e.g. remarketing audiences or customer lists) can still be very profitable. The challenge is to warm up sufficient cold traffic to make the numbers work.

Power words such as ‘simple’, ‘secrets’, ‘free’ etc work well on Google, but not on Facebook. Traditional direct response copy tends to fail.

I don’t know about you, but most of the ads in my newsfeed are ‘make money online’ ads. Some chump standing in front of a helicopter telling me how broke he was, until he ‘discovered’ some simple five step formula…

I don’t see many ads that really speak to my interests. I like running. I like motorbikes. I like a drink – within sensible limits. I like to walk. I like to read, when Hugo permits it. I like a good espresso – also within sensible limits. Where are the ads about these things? If you serve an interests-based niche there is definitely an opportunity here.

Most advertisers seem to favour short ads that maximise curiosity and quickly ask for an email address. My experience running this type of ad is they only work for a few days, then cost per conversion skyrockets. It’s rare you’ll get any meaningful interaction on the ad.

Additionally, the people who opt-in to a short ad like this tend not to stick around. Usually they opt-in on a whim using a secondary email address, without any real commitment.

I used to think the spike in conversion cost was related to small audience size or narrow placement selection, but now I think it’s more to do with ad copy.

I’ve harboured a suspicion for a long time that the most effective Facebook ads – at least to cold audiences – should contain a story. On Saturday I watched a webinar about long-copy Facebook ads which verified this.

You can still catch the replay here (the webinar itself is the second video). You only need to watch the first 80 minutes or so – after that it’s pitch and QnA. But if you run Facebook ads this is definitely something you’ll want to watch.

Tip: if you select the settings icon in the bottom right of the video, you can increase the playback speed.

July 2, 2018

The real secret to Facebook advertising

General consensus is that giving away ‘special reports’ or ‘lead magnets’ isn’t as effective as it used to be. Especially on Facebook, where ambivalence to everything except dog photos is basically high.

The advice now is to give away more…

But is it sensible to give away your best secrets?

Last week a subscriber sent me a link to a YouTube course by Ryan Masters. It’s a complete online course about building a successful YouTube channel – and very detailed.

The thing is, I happen to know that Ryan manages Perry Marshall’s YouTube ads. So my perceived value of the course is automatically high. Without that insight I probably wouldn’t have looked at it twice. Or I may have added it to my electronic bookshelf to rot indefinitely.

You can see the course here.

Notice only a soft call to action – “Want more help? Contact Ryan.” But what really struck me was the amount of detail being given away.

My own experience with giving away entire courses is that it’s easy to get people started on a free course, but exceptionally difficult to get them to finish.

It’s fine to experiment with giving valuable stuff away, as long as the perceived value is high. The real challenge is consumption – getting people to read, watch or use the thing you’re giving away.

Lead generation is still a big part of the marketing puzzle, and I think the real question now is this…

Rather than giving more away, how can you raise the perceived value of what you’re giving away?

The secret to Facebook adverting isn’t to learn more ad hacks. It’s to develop a giveaway with a high enough perceived value that people share it, even though it’s an ad.

November 28, 2016

The ‘against the grain’ template

I pay attention to the Facebook ads that show up in my newsfeed.

I do this mostly out of morbid curiosity. Most of the ads in my newsfeed seem to be from ego-driven psychopaths, all determined to tell me how great they are.

The standard formula for an ad seems to be:

  • Start off my telling me how you’ve been an ‘internet marketer’ for like, a hundred years. Tell me how you practically held Marc Andreessen’s hand while he developed the first web browser.
  • Tell me how you earned a million dollars for your clients last week, from seven minutes of work.
  • Play a video showing me your car, your house, and how much time you spend on the golf course.
  • Tell me that I can ‘achieve’ all this too, by following ‘7 simple steps’.
  • Tell me it just so happens there is a ‘live’ webinar starting in ten minutes, where you’ll finally be revealing your ‘secrets’. Which is funny, given you just told me you spend 16-hours a day of the golf course.

I’m not envious of the wealth, however true it may be. But I’m tired of being sledge-hammered by people’s egos.

Over the weekend I came across a very different Facebook ad. It contains no video. It contains no dancing arrows. It contains no invitation to a ‘live’ webinar, which mysteriously occurs every three hours.


If you were to template this ad, I would call it the ‘against the grain’ ad. It does the opposite of what everyone else is doing. The copy is well written, and reminds me of the type of ads Howard Gossage was running in the 1960’s. (See an example). The wording ‘if you do swing by’ feels straight from the Book of Gossage.

Notice how many likes, comments and shares the ad has. I believe this is the real secret to low-cost Facebook leads.

When you look at the ads in your Facebook newsfeed, most of them say the same thing. The copy, in other words your ad text, is more important than any ‘ninja’ ad tips and tactics.

Have you tried writing a Facebook ad that really runs against the grain?

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