Facebook Lead Ads, Explained

If you're looking to run lead generation campaigns on Facebook, you've come to the right place.

Lead generation campaigns can be a significant source of new business for your brand, but only if they're done right. In this article, I'm going to walk through some of the high (and low) level strategy that goes into Facebook Ads lead generation campaigns, and how to build them for optimal results.

What are Facebook lead ads?

Lead ads are a type of ad offered by Facebook that make it easy for you to collect details off of potential customers.

They look just like regular ads, but instead of directing to a website they direct to a native lead form.

This gives them two main advantages over a website-based lead form:

These two benefits are so large that lead form ads can be significantly more effective than website-based forms on Facebook Ads.

How to design a Facebook lead form

In this section I'm going to assume you know the basics of building a lead form, including what sort of options and fields you can choose between. If you've never set up a lead form before, or would like a refresher on the basics, check out this article on how to build a Facebook lead form.

When it comes to designing an effective lead form, there are a few key points to bear in mind.

Less is more

It can be tempting to ask potential leads a million and one questions on a lead form but let's face it, each question you add to the form is going to reduce the percentage of people who actually fill it out.

Focus on asking just the minimum viable questions; what you need to know in order to have a good chance of converting a lead into a sale.

For many businesses, this'll be the lead's name, their phone number, their email, and maybe their company name or location. It's uncommon to need more than this, but in certain verticals it can definitely make sense. For instance, if you're a real estate seller prospecting for leads, you might want to ask whether the lead is looking to buy or rent.

Ensure consistency

Nobody wants to click on something, and be taken to an experience that doesn't resemble what they clicked on. This applies to lead forms just as it does to webpages.

To make sure your user journey from ad to lead form is as smooth as possible, here are three tips:

Ticking off both of these points will ensure that your lead form is a natural extension of your ad, and that users won't be put off when they open your lead form.

Motivate your users

The opening screen on your lead form is crucial to getting a good lead form conversion rate.

It's your last chance, before you ask the user for their details, to get them excited about what you have to offer. If you don't take this chance, then users might not see enough benefit in your offering to willingly give you their details.

Rather than speak in vague, fluffy language about your brand, I'd recommend being concrete about what the user will get from filling out your form, and why they should do it.

Ultimately, a lead form is transactional exchange. You need to exchange some promise of value that's high enough in order to convince a user to hand over their details. Asking them nicely isn't going to cut it.

How to target Facebook lead ads

To target a lead campaign successfully, you essentially need to target the intersection of two audiences:

  1. Users who are likely to fill in a lead form.
  2. Users who are likely to be interested in your brand.

Facebook actually handles the first for you, without you knowing it.

You could target a broad population with your lead gen campaign, such as an entire country, and Facebook will only really show your ads to people it knows have a predisposition to fill in lead forms.

Facebook knows who these people are from the data they have on every other lead generation campaign that's been run on their platform.

As a result, you don't have to worry about finding people who you think are likely to fill in lead forms; Facebook's got you there.

That means that all's left for you to do is to find people who are likely to be interested in your brand. This challenge isn't particularly unique to lead gen advertising; it's the same challenge you'd have if you were running any other campaign type.

Ultimately there's no one-size-fits-all piece of advice I can give here. The best targeting strategy depends a lot on your brand and vertical, and should be tested continuously.

One thing I would say though, when you're starting out with your targeting strategy, is this:

If your user signals are something Facebook would pick up on

Lets say you're advertising to find leads for a sports coaching brand.

The sort of signals that will mark out high value users for your brand (interested in running, weightlifting, swimming etc) are the sorts of things Facebook will know.

Facebook of course knows which pages you like, and can therefore tell which users are interested in relevant topics.

As a result, you should start off by targeting these sorts of interest audiences.

If Facebook can't pick up on your user signals

Alternatively, let's say you're advertising to find leads for a commercial kitchen supply business, and you're looking to find people who manage restaurants.

People don't typically put that much employer information into Facebook, and so you'll have a hard time finding any decently-sized audiences that you can use to target your ads.

In this scenario, you've got to use alternative sources of data. If you have any existing customer databases, I'd upload these into Facebook Ads and use them to build lookalike audiences. In doing so, you're effectively training Facebook to learn what a restaurant manager looks like, and asking it to go out and find them for you.

As you start to get submissions on your lead forms, you can use these submissions to train additional lookalike audiences, and be better able to target people who are likely to respond to your form.

How to design ads for lead forms

Let's break this topic down in to two separate sections.

First, we'll run through how to build good ads generally. Second, we'll look at how to modify this approach for lead gen ads specifically.

How to build good ads

Plenty of ink has been spilled already on the topic of how to build good ads, so I won't spend too long here. If you want to read my full thoughts on the topic, check out my article here.

Some of the key things to bear in mind are:

How to build good lead form ads

The fundamentals of how to build good ads don't shift dramatically just because we're advertising a lead form, but there are a few subtle differences to bear in mind.

The main one is that you only want people to click on your ad if they're likely to fill out a lead form. Don't write copy that leads users to think that your ad will be opening up a webpage, or Messenger conversation, because then the users who end up on your form likely won't convert.

Another point, which I've touched on already, is that filling in a lead form is a very transactional exchange. You need to be clear exactly what you're offering users in return for their details, whether this is an ebook, a free quote, or something else.

If you can combine these points with the ones above, you're well on your way to having a solid set of lead form ads.

How to test & optimise Facebook lead ads

The biggest mistake that I tend to see in how people approach optimising lead form ads is when they're too narrow-minded in terms of what they run.

This often manifests itself in advertisers just running a single lead form ad, with a single creative, and single piece of copy.

I think that this mentality comes from the world of landing page optimisation, where the process of A/B testing to find a winning landing page variant is well known.

Lead gen optimisation (and ad optimisation) is fundamentally different from landing page optimisation. You're not trying to find one single ad that will outperform every other ad, because there's no such thing:

The takeaway from the above is that it's always best to run a rotation of different ads. Facebook will optimise the rotation so that it's always serving the right ad to each user (solving the first problem above), and balance it over time to account for changes in performance (solving the second).

How do you test ads?

My preferred lead gen setup is to have a single lead generation campaign with multiple ad sets.

The single campaign means I can easily control budgets and bidding, and the multiple ad sets let me group different creatives together based on theme or messaging.

I recommend using dynamic creatives in each of your ad sets, which places a limit of 10 different assets (images or videos) per ad set.

When I'm designing creative rounds therefore, I'll try to stick to a maximum of 10 variants per round, so that I can fit all of them in a single ad set.

Once you have your campaign set up like this, with multiple dynamic creative ad sets, and multiple assets in each ad set, Facebook will allocate spend so as to maximise performance.

It will do this by allocating the most spend to the ads and ad sets that produce the most leads, but will make sure all ad sets get some amount of spend (in case it turns out it's misjudged how good they are).

Because Facebook is allocating spend (and subsequently results) based on expected performance, I tend to use the number of leads that each ad set/ad has as an indicator of performance.

This might seem unusual, especially if you're used to using efficiency metrics like CPL (cost per lead) to judge performance.

To this, I'd ask you to consider that Facebook is essentially trying to equalize CPL across each of the ad sets. This means you'll often see only very small differences in CPL across ad sets, that aren't statistically significant.

Based on this, when I'm deciding what new creatives to test, I'll look at the ad set with the most recent volume and use this as a starting point for designing new creatives.

How to handle leads that come in

This is probably the hardest, and most technical, part of running lead ads.

For all the effort they've put into their ad platform, Facebook have put very little into making it easy to get your leads out of Facebook Ads, and into your systems.

If you're technical, you can create what's called a webhook to Facebook's servers, that picks up each new lead that comes in. This is quite advanced for most marketers, so I'd recommend looking at other options.

The easiest option in my opinion is a tool I built in partnership with Zapier, called Facebook Ads Lead Manager.

It has a simple guided setup flow which lets you connect your lead form to Google Sheets. Once you've done that, you can also integrate your lead form with a variety of other services.

New lead notifications
For example, you can get email or Slack notifications each time a lead comes in, with all their details. This is hugely valuable for sales teams, as being able to respond to a lead quickly dramatically increases the likelihood of them converting to a customer.

Welcome emails
If you have a business Gmail account, you can connect this to Facebook Ads Lead Manager to send new leads welcome emails. You can use this to send them more information about your brand in the time between form submission, and your sales team getting in touch.

CRM integrations
If you use an external CRM (customer relationship management tool), you can use Facebook Ads Lead Manager to integrate it with your lead form. You can have all of your leads sent to major CRMs like Mailchimp, HubSpot, Active Campaign and more.

Use it for free
Facebook Ads Lead Manager is completely free to get started with, so there's no reason not to try it out if you're starting lead gen advertising for the first time!

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