The Ultimate Guide to Facebook Ads for Service-Based Small Businesses

So far in our online advertising series, we’ve discussed the three main types of online ads – display, social media, and search engine – and how to make your online ad a success.

Now, we’re turning the mic over to Facebook Ads Strategist, Steph Cohen, to give you this ultimate (and we mean ULTIMATE) guide to Facebook Ads, specifically for creative small businesses.

The Ultimate Guide to Facebook Ads for Creative Small Businesses, JAM Marketing Group Blog, written by Steph Cohen of the Creative Addition

Onto the show!


There is a massive buzz around running FB Ads right now and rightly so.

Data from March 2017 showed there were 1.94 billion active users on the platform each month. Compare this to the 700 million on Instagram, throw in the intelligent targeting, robust algorithms, deep analytics and reasonable pricing that Facebook offers and you can see why so many businesses want to run ads or increase their advertising spend in order to run bigger and better campaigns.

If you’re of the mindset that Facebook Ads will lose their shine, die out or become saturated, consider that by 2020 there will be approximately 2.2 billion people interacting on Facebook and growing.

Since advertising is an enormous source of revenue for Facebook, they are constantly investing to update and improve their services in an attempt to streamline the existing tools and create innovative, relevant, and powerful solutions for businesses like yours to achieve their goals.

Overall, Facebook and Facebook Ads will continue to become bigger and better than ever before.

So what’s not to love?

Well, if you’ve run any ads yourself you might have experienced a pretty frustrating and time-consuming learning curve AND/OR found that your money disappeared fairly quickly without seeing a single sale or sign up in return.

But as driven, engaged business owners ready for growth, it is unquestionably a platform we cannot afford to ignore.


I’m here to answer your common questions about Facebook Ads so you can have a shot at running successful Facebook Ad campaigns right away and into the future.

Here we go.

Q: How do I get the most out of Facebook Ads without losing my mind and/or selling a kidney to fund the next ad?

A: By knowing who your target audience is and choosing the campaign objective that will give you the biggest return in the long term.

This means being super clear on who your Ideal Client is and letting go of the expectation that one ad will bring you hundreds of thousands in revenue straight away.

With so many people browsing their news feeds, checking out videos, articles and more, by the law of probability, your target audience is hanging out there, reading content and chatting with their friends. Your ad still has to cut through that noise. 


Q: What’s the best way to leverage my audience on Facebook?

A: Using Facebook Ads to grow your email list is  a wise investment if you plan to serve your email subscribers well.

Email marketing still accounts for FOUR TIMES the ROI than any other type of marketing, including social media. Of course, in order for the investment in your list growth to be worth it, you’ll need a sound email marketing strategy and specific sequences and funnels for your products and services.

They don’t have to complicated, complex setups, but they definitely need to be in place. So if you do invest in Facebook ads to build your email list, but aren’t sure how to serve your ideal client in their inbox, seek help from an email marketing strategist and/or read up on Brit’s recent Email Marketing series, found here.


And this leads us to the million dollar question.

The Ultimate Guide to Facebook Ads for Creative Small Businesses - Guest Post by Steph Cohen of the Creative Addition, JAM Marketing Group with Brit Kolo

Q: How do I actually do it? How do I set everything up to capture leads on FB?

A: Just as there are many roads to happiness, there are many potential ads you could run to grow your following. We’ll cover a proven method below. There’s also some prep work you can’t afford to skip.

To begin, there are a few basics you need in place before you invest and start your campaign.

What You’ll Need:

  1. A compelling lead magnet. Not sure what to offer? Brit has covered this brilliantly here. [Brit Note: Well, hey, thanks!]
  2. Your specific and well-researched Target Audience (aka Ideal Client). Don’t underestimate the power of good target market research – the success of your ad depends on it.
  3. A budget for the duration of the ad. More on this in a second.
  4. An optimized website, or at least homepage or landing page to capture leads.
  5. An email marketing system with a specific welcoming sequence set up by you/your email marketing strategist.
  6. Your Facebook pixels and/or custom conversions in place so Facebook can gather data on everyone interacting with your ad.

Once you have all of the above down, it’s time to look at the ad itself.

How To Set Up the Ad and Monitor It:

  1. Choose your Objective
    My top 2 objectives are as follows:

    Traffic Ads
    – this objective encourages click-throughs from your ad to your website or landing page. If you’re new to FB ads or working with a lower budget, these ads are usually very cost effective. However, make sure your landing page is as optimized as possible – meaning it has to load quickly, reiterate the offer from your lead magnet and make it as easy as possible for browsers to sign up.Lead Ads – this objective allows people to sign up to your list directly from Facebook, bypassing your landing page. These ads can be a very quick way to build your list. However, due to the ease of signing up, unless your audience is extremely well researched and defined in the ad set up, you can run the risk of attracting low-quality sign ups who won’t ever convert into paying customers down the road. No-one wants an unresponsive email list, so if you choose this option, be sure you are targeting intelligently.

    One other objective to consider:
    Video Ads – the objective here is not to get you sign-ups. Instead, it’s to maximize video views. However, you can then retarget people who have watched 50% or more of your video with another offer. Retargeted ads tend to have a higher rate of success.

  2. Input your Audience
    If you have one, you can upload your current email list and simply create a 1% lookalike audience. [Brit Note: Facebook does this for you and it’s a pretty sweet trick, if you ask me.]ORCreate your targeted list using Facebook’s Demographics, Interest, Behaviors, Geo Location, Age and Gender specifications.Your targeting is absolutely key. If you are simply choosing interests that seem relevant, you might not be taking advantage of the power of Facebook targeting and it may be worth investing in someone who knows how to research and find active audiences. Having an active audience to target means you’ll see a much greater return on your ad investment.
  3. Decide on your Placements
    Not all ad placements are created equal. If your objective is sign-ups, which is the most common for service-based businesses, stick to placing your ad in the main newsfeed only. If you are advertising on Instagram as well,  I’d advise you create two ad sets – one for Instagram only and one for Facebook Newsfeed only.
  4. Set your Budget and Schedule
    Facebook will spend the entirety of your budget unless you turn off the ad manually part way through. Be sure to select either your Daily Spend Limit or your Lifetime Budget accordingly. If you set the ad up with a $100 Lifetime Budget, Facebook might spend it in 2 days. If you want your ad to run over a 7 day period, select Daily Spend and set it to $14 a day with the end date 7 days from the start date.
  5. Create your Ad Content (i.e. Copy and Image or Video)
    This should be a compelling piece of copy with a relevant image or video. It could be an image or video of you as a business owner, a short animation or a slide show with little to no text. Facebook will deliver your ad much more effectively with zero text.Again, if creating this content – copy, images, and/or video – is out of your “strength zone,” I can’t stress enough how valuable a Facebook Ads Strategist can be for you. They’ll save you time, energy, and money in the long run, setting up your Facebook Ad correctly the first time.
  6. Focus On the Only Metric That Really Matters
    Your sign up rate is the only metric that really matters when you run an ad like this. If you’re happy with your list growth and your ad is delivering well and consistently, you are achieving your goal.But please note – Facebook can take between 24-72 hours to optimize your ad – meaning it’s searching its databases to find people that match your audience requirements – so it can take a while to really get rolling. Don’t panic during this period, it’s totally normal. If after 3 days you’ve seen little to no activity  stop the ad and go back to to the drawing board or check in with an expert for advice. If an ad isn’t performing, it means there is an element in your setup that needs to be reworked, such as targeting, copy, image etc.
  7. Keep Your Cool During the Ad
    Check your sign up levels daily. As long as your ad is delivering real-life sign ups, it’s doing its job. Don’t worry if your other FB metrics don’t look perfect. You’re not running an Ad to show Facebook how great your ad is and how perfect your metrics are. You’re running it to grow your list, so as long as you are seeing your numbers go up, keep on doing what you’re doing. [Brit note: AMEN! WHAT STEPH SAID.]


Q: How do I know if my sign-up numbers are worth my spend?

A: Compare your ad spend to the lifetime value of a client.

If you know the lifetime value of a client (i.e. how much they pay you per month, multiplied by the number of months they pay you, on average), you’ll be able to tell if your sign ups are costing you too much or if they turn a favorable return on investment (ROI). 

Here’s an example:

Jen is a personal trainer and spends $500 on a Facebook Ad campaign. She yields 50 email sign-ups. $500/50 sign-ups = $10 per sign-up.

5 of the 50 sign-ups become her paying client. They pay her, on average, $200 per month for 18 months. $200 x 18 month = $3600.

Therefore, Jen is spending $10 to yield $3,600 in revenue per paying client. In all, She’s spent $500 to yield $18,000 in revenue from her 5 paying clients.


Q: What do I do with my new sign-ups?

A: Hopefully, your new sign ups will have received your welcome sequence and feel like they know you, your brand and your offerings a little better.

Now you can either add them to your normal email list activity or upsell/retarget with a specific product or offering. Again, refer to Brit’s recent email marketing series for guidance on this.


Q: Should I run the ads myself or hire them out to an expert?

A: If you have the budget, hire out.

There are many elements at play in an ad and even more surrounding it – product ladders, email marketing sequences, website optimizations, effective copy, etc. It is possible to learn all of this on your own, but it will be time-consuming and require a fair amount of investment in each area.

If you have the budget I’d encourage you to invest in an experienced Facebook Ads Specialist with proven results. Facebook Ads may be a wise addition to your marketing plan, but they do require strong research, strategy and know-how.

If you are just starting out and want to DIY, there are plenty of good Facebook Ad tutorials on YouTube. I’ve found, though, the only real way to learn is to experiment, and that means putting money into ads and seeing what works for you and what doesn’t.


Q: I’ve heard of people earning hundreds of thousands in revenue with one ad. Can I do this too?

A: The people you hear about in these instances typically have a strong and stable business in place, bringing in high 6-figure to 7-figure revenue numbers.

They have invested thousands in their FB ad campaigns, so if you have this kind of budget, a great Ads Specialist could help you achieve big results. If you have a lower budget, it’s important to keep your expectations in line with your spending capacity.  You can still get great results with smaller spends.

I hear a lot of people asking for the moon and stars when they run an ad. It’s important to remember that Facebook is not a perfect platform – there can be technical glitches, months when you might need to spend more to see the same results, software updates that cause problems elsewhere.

It is also important to remember that there are companies who are competing to reach the same audience as you and, just as in any commercial market, certain times of year and certain audiences that are more saturated than others. The most you or your Ad Specialist can do is make the most of what is possible. A lot is possible, but do keep your expectations in line with the reality of your spend.

If you’re not using Facebook Ads yet, I’d highly recommend you look into them to see if they fit into your marketing strategy.

If you are investing in Facebook ads, but you’re not seeing the results you’d like, contact an expert or two to get a second opinion on what you need to tweak to improve your results. If you have the budget, then it’s definitely worth hiring your ads out to a trusted Specialist who’ll do all of the above and more for you. You can expect to pay anywhere between $1500 to $5000 per month for a Specialist, depending on what you need and their level of expertise.

If you think that sounds like a big investment, I’ll leave you with this.

If, over a lifetime, a customer spends an average of $10,000 in your business and you invest $3000 in an expert who gets you 50 highly qualified leads in one month, even if only 1% of those leads convert into long-term clients, that’s a potential gross profit of $50,000.

Definitely Facebook food for thought.


[Brit Note: BOOM. And WOW! Did Steph bring the heat, or what?! As we publish this today, Thursday, June 22nd, 2017, I’m currently running Facebook ads for my Marketing in Yoga Pants brand and collecting data on them. Next week, you guessed it, I’m going to give you an honest, behind-the-scenes look at how my ads did – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Because, yes, there’s already been a bit of ugly. Talk then!]


The Ultimate Guide to Facebook Ads for Creative Small Businesses, JAM Marketing Group Blog, written by Steph Cohen of the Creative Addition


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