If you’ve followed along with everything I’ve talked about so far in this course, you should have the basics of a working lead generation system.
You know who your ideal clients are, you have a lead magnet designed to appeal to them, and they can use the opt-in forms on your website to get your lead magnet and sign up for your email list.
After that, your follow-up email sequence nurtures the relationship and moves your new leads ever closer to the point where they’re ready to talk with you in person and become a paying client.
You could, if you so choose, stop at this point and simply rely on the normal background level of website visitors who land on your website each day from various sources as your pool of potential clients.
But here’s an important question to ask yourself:
Will the average number of sporadic visitors you see each day be enough to generate new leads in sufficient numbers to create a steady flow of paying clients?
If the answer is “no” or “not really”, then you’ll need to work proactively to increase the number of website visitors.
By far the best way to do this is with paid advertising.
Specifically, in the case of this lesson, Facebook ads.
Why Do You Need Paid Ads?
Whenever I mention the need to pay for Facebook advertising to increase website activity, there’s always a degree of resistance and pushback from certain people for various reasons.
For example, Facebook is a free social platform for personal use and you can even create a page at no cost to help promote your photography business.
Therefore, it seems reasonable to ask why you should have to pay Facebook to reach people who are already connected to you in some way. Don’t Facebook have an obligation to show your updates and content to your friends, fans, and followers?
The short answer is “no”.
This isn’t because Facebook are hell-bent on opening your wallet, but because it’s a physical impossibility for them to show every relevant update or piece of content to every person who logs on to Facebook to check their newsfeed.
If they did, the Facebook newsfeed would become a chaotic stream of rapid updates with no time for anyone to read any of them. Folks would quickly become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of updates, and more than likely stop using Facebook altogether.
For this reason, everyone’s personal newsfeed is managed and optimized by a complex algorithm, referred to as EdgeRank, which shows only the most relevant content with the best chance of generating true engagement (clicks, likes, comments, shares etc.) from that specific user.
Yes, this means your Facebook page updates won’t be shown to all the people who like your business page, but only a percentage of them, according to the EdgeRank algorithm. The exact percentage who do see your updates depends on various factors.
Here are just a few of them:
- How long they’ve been a fan of your page…
- How recently they engaged with a previous update from you…
- The day of the week, and time of day you posted your update (the optimal time to post is hard to identify and differs for everyone)…
- The number of updates competing with yours for visibility…
- The tone and intent of your updates (truly social vs. promotional)…
- The average engagement rate of your previous updates…
- The expected level of engagement for the type of content you posted…
In short, Facebook has become a “pay to play” world, and it’s been that way for quite some time.
As you can see, free social marketing has its limits, so if you want your updates or other content to be seen by your ideal clients, you’ll need to use paid ads to reach them.
You could choose to rely on the search engines to send you more visitors, but SEO has become a long-game strategy where it can take many months of effort to have any significant impact.
Unless you’re already lucky enough to enjoy a high ranking on Google, and you see enough well-converting visitors as a result, SEO will prove to be an uphill battle in the war to get more clients.
The same thing is true for organic social media (visitors generated by unpaid social media updates and natural sharing activity).
Therefore, unless you’re happy to take the slow road, or you don’t need the boost in business from increased website traffic, you must be prepared to proactively acquire traffic by investing in Facebook ads.
The Myths Of Facebook Ads
There also seem to be several myths surrounding the topic of Facebook ads, which I’d like to dispel before we go any further.
Perhaps the worst myth of all is the mistaken belief that Facebook are evil, and their only goal is to part you from your money, whatever the cost.
This idea probably emerged as a natural pushback when Facebook introduced the paid advertising model after such a long period as a 100% free social network. Regardless of how it started, this kind of thinking is not only wrong, it ends up being counterproductive because it distracts you from the real goal of using the effective Facebook ads system as a tool to generate more leads for your business.
Myth: Boosted Posts Reduce The Reach of Future Updates
Another pervasive myth regarding Facebook advertising emerged through a mass misunderstanding of the concept of “boosted” posts. There’s much confusion here, especially about what happens to your future updates after you pay Facebook to boost a single post to show it to more of your page followers.
The mistaken idea behind this particular myth is that once you pay to boost a post from your business page, Facebook will then consider you to be “on the hook” as far your willingness to pay them for more reach is concerned.
As a result, the suggestion is that Facebook will then lower the reach of your future posts in an attempt to get you to spend more money to boost those posts as well.
This idea simply doesn’t hold water, and you can read all about it in a lot more detail in this article.
Myth: Facebook Ads Don’t Work
This myth starts out as a false conclusion based on someone’s personal experience with Facebook ads, and is then spread to others through social media and other channels.
Eventually, it becomes accepted as a fact by people who’ve never tried Facebook ads for themselves, but are now scared off because they bought into the myth.
How does this happen?
It all begins when someone decides to run a Facebook ad to drive more people to their website in the hopes of getting some bookings out of it.
They pick an audience, settle on a budget, create an ad, and then wait for the phone to ring.
Invariably, nothing much happens (or at least nothing like what they expected).
The ad runs, people in their target audience see it and may click on it to see what it’s all about, which generates a small cost to the photographer for the click.
But the person who clicked on the ad did nothing beyond taking a quick look around the website. They didn’t get in touch with the photographer, didn’t sign up to their email list, and they probably won’t return any time soon.
As far as the photographer is concerned, they spent $x on an ad click that resulted in nothing.
The same thing is then repeated multiple times until the ad budget is used up or the photographer decides to stop running the ad.
The perception then turns into the idea that Facebook ads have a low (or zero) return on investment (ROI).
As a result, it’s easy for the photographer to assume that Facebook ads are a total bust and not worth the effort, and some take it upon themselves to make sure other photographers know that Facebook ads are a waste of time by spreading the “Facebook ads don’t work” myth.
In truth, the ads worked exactly as they should.
The ads were presented to the chosen audience, who were interested enough to click on them, but the real problem was with the destination.
In other words, the photographer’s website wasn’t designed to convert visitors into leads or clients effectively, or the ad sent people to the wrong page.
For example, using the home page as an ad destination is a bad idea because a home page is only designed to act as a routing system to send people further into the website to where they really need to be. This introduces potential distractions and the need for additional clicks before the user lands where the photographer intended them to be in the first place.
Similarly, sending ad clicks to a generic service page that doesn’t already convert visitors into leads at an effective rate won’t magically create any more leads than you might normally see.
In this regard, paid ads can only amplify existing results, not magically create new ones.
The fact is, Facebook ads do work, and they do so quite well.
The majority of Facebook ad problems are the result of poorly-performing destination pages (landing pages), or the wrong destination being chosen for the ad.
The Basics Of Facebook Advertising
In this section, I’ll give you some of the basics you need to start running Facebook ads to get more leads via your lead magnet opt-in.
I do want to point out that this is not intended to be a fully comprehensive Facebook advertising course, but more of a guide you can follow to make sure you understand the fundamental principles involved.
As I’m sure you already know, Facebook have a habit of changing things quite often—and without warning—which means any detailed guide I create here may quickly become obsolete.
That said, there are some marketing educators who specialize in teaching business owners like yourself how to market themselves on Facebook, including how to get the best from Facebook ads.
Two good people to follow if you want to take your Facebook advertising adventures to a level beyond the scope of this particular course are Mari Smith and Jon Loomer, both of whom offer in-depth Facebook ads training.
To create ads in Facebook, use the Facebook Ad Manager (previously known as the “power editor”).
Every Facebook ad you create will go through six basic steps, which I’ve outlined for you below.
Step 1: Set The Goal For Your Ads
Before you run any kind of paid advertising, you need to know the reason why.
If your ads have no specific goal, or you run them just “because you need more website visitors”, then you risk overspending on ads that will most likely produce poor results.
Every ad campaign you run must therefore have a clearly-defined goal behind it.
- Direct newly-engaged brides-to-be to a landing page for a lead magnet on how to plan the perfect wedding with the goal of producing at least 10 new wedding photography prospects in the next 30 days…
- Find at least 5 interested moms in the next 14 days for an upcoming Fall family portrait promotion…
- An ongoing campaign designed to target and attract expectant moms for maternity portraits and newborn sessions…
- Reach local small business owners by directing them to a lead magnet designed to highlight the benefits of a professional headshot, and to generate at least 3 new leads per week…
- A limited-time promotion to attract enough prospects and qualified leads to fill all openings for a planned set of mini-sessions in the local park…
As you can see, each of those examples has a specific goal, which will then allow you to assess the eventual success or failure of the ad campaign.
Step 2: Choose Your Audience
In order to work to your advantage, your ad must be put in front of the people who are most likely to react positively to the ad content.
Of course, these people are your ideal clients, not just a random group.
The size of your audience determines the reach of your ad, both in terms of how many individuals see it and how many times the ad is repeatedly shown to those same people over its lifetime.
The goal when defining your audience is to have an audience large enough to reach a good sample of people, but small enough to be able to reach many of those people multiple times if necessary.
There’s no magic number or recommended audience size, but smaller well-defined audiences are generally preferable to those that are larger and less-defined.
You can use a wide variety of parameters to narrow down the audience for your ad campaign.
- Geographical location (country, state, region, state, city or zip code)…
- Age range…
- Languages spoken…
- Include (or exclude) specific interests…
You can also save your audience information so you can use it across multiple campaigns.
You also have the ability to create custom audiences based on interactions people already have with you, which I’ll mention again in the later section on retargeting.
Step 3: Pick The Right Ad Destination
Earlier, I mentioned the importance of sending the people who click on your ads to the right place.
Preferably, you should create a landing page designed specifically for each ad you decide to run.
Not only will this help you make sure the ad and landing page fit together well, it will also help you when you later come to tracking and measuring your ad’s performance.
When creating a landing page for an ad, it’s good practice to make sure you keep the page out of the search engines because you want to restrict access to your landing page only to the people who click on your ads.
You should also aim to make your ad and landing page congruent with each other.
This means they should both use the same primary image, and the landing page headline should also match the ad headline. When people click on your ad and they’re transferred to your landing page, there should be no confusion about where they are or the purpose of the page they landed on.
If you fail to follow this guideline, and there’s a disconnect between the landing page and the ad, this results in wasted time as the prospect tries to orient herself or figure out where she is, which can lead to page abandonment and a wasted click (not to mention the money you’re charged as a result).
Step 4: Decide On Your Ad Budget And Duration
Cost is obviously a big concern for many photographers, so you also need to decide how much you plan to spend on your ad.
You can choose to have a lifetime budget for your ad, or a budget of $x per day, depending on whether you have an ongoing ad or an ad with a specific duration.
For example, you may decide to run your ad for 7 days with a budget of $5 per day for a total expected budget of $35.
Your audience size will also have an impact on how much you plan to spend.
With a larger audience (say, 5,000+), you may need to spend more on your ad to reach a sizable percentage of your total audience size, and less for a smaller audience (< 5,000).
Step 5: Create Your Ads
At the time of writing (and, of course, this may change), Facebook ads are built from three basic components:
- Ad sets…
The campaign is where you specify the top-level information, such as the name of the campaign, the objective (for example, website traffic), and the buying type (usually “auction”).
Your campaign can have a number of ad sets within it. In most cases, you’ll likely use one ad set per campaign, although you can have more. Your ad set is used to specify the budget and duration of the ads contained within it, as well as the audience who will see your ads.
Each ad set will then have any number of ads inside it. Your ads are the actual creatives that will be shown to your audience. Each ad has an image (or set of images), a destination, headline, subtext, and intended placement (I recommend you create separate ads for mobile and desktop placements, for example).
A recent addition to the Facebook ads system is the concept of custom rules. These allow you to instruct Facebook to automatically adjust certain parameters for your ads (such as the budget, end date, placement etc.), and can also turn ads on and off. This is an advanced feature of the Facebook ad system, so I recommend referring to the appropriate documentation to see if using rules is right for your ad campaigns and how to use them properly.
Step 6: Run Your Ads
Once you’ve finished creating your ads, Facebook will review them to ensure they meet their requirements.
As soon as the ads are approved, they’ll start running automatically (unless you have them set to “inactive” for some reason).
You can monitor and track the performance of all your ads through the main dashboard in the Facebook ads manager.
Retargeting With Facebook Ads
If you go back to lesson 6 of module 1, you’ll remember that I showed you how to install the Facebook tracking pixel on your website.
We did this at the time because it’s important to start gathering website user data and develop custom audiences as soon as possible.
In that lesson, you created several custom audiences to track people who viewed your website over the last 30, 60, 90, or 180 days.
You can now use those audiences in your Facebook ads to allow you to target people who have already seen your website at some point in the last 180 days, which means you’re not a complete stranger to them.
Because people tend to click more often on ads for businesses they’re already familiar with, the cost per click (CPC) for such ads are usually lower than ads where you target people who may not know who you are.
This is useful if you want to aim ads at people who’ve previously visited your site to draw them back again.
You can also create a custom audience to identify people who visited your website but did not see the thank you page for your lead magnet signup. In this case, you could create an ad for your lead magnet opt-in page just for people who have not previously signed up.
There’s a lot of room here to be creative with Facebook ads and custom audiences, and I encourage you to check out some of the more advanced Facebook advertising courses you can find from educators who specialize in this field exclusively.