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Step-by-Step Guide to Using Facebook Ads for Content Marketing

As a content marketer, you may not be thinking about using advertising as part of your marketing mix because you consider ads to be:

  • Expensive
  • Annoying
  • Immeasurable
  • Interruptive (see annoying)
  • Short shelf-life

However, I have had some great success mixing content marketing and online advertising with Facebook ads:

  • They are measurable via Google Analytics and other tools
  • If you target well, they aren’t viewed as much of an annoyance as a pray and spray ad would be.

A targeted ad with content as the offer can increase click throughs and conversions.  And in my experiences, that percentage increase came in the thousands.

Here are the steps to developing effective Facebook ads for content marketing.

Step 1:  Choose your offer and set up your landing page on your website

The work starts on your own website with the development of a landing page that promotes a specific offer. Why? You want to hold your audience’s hands and show them where to go.  And the landing page is what houses your offer, your hook, your content. It tells the person that clicked on the ad “Hey, you made it!  Here’s what we were talking about!”

When getting started, a great landing page content offer could be your most popular piece of downloadable content since it has already proven itself as a piece that your audience likes to consume.

NOTE: If you are planning to run more than one ad, and each has a different content offer, set up a different landing page for each offer. For example, we have four different pieces of content that are promoted by  four ads – all linking to different landing pages that deliver content corresponding to the ad.

In addition to tracking capabilities, separate landing pages will also help you segment the leads, what their interests are and get right into the meat of their interests on call backs/emails.

Here is a quick 101 on how I set up my landing pages:

  • Set up the page on your site and give it a recognizable sub-directory URL (
  • Remove site navigation if possible.  This has shown to increase conversion by keeping prospects focused on your offer.
  • Write a strong, concise and actionable headline
  • Use the language of your customer, and quickly detail the benefits of downloading the content (bullet points are GREAT here)
  • If requiring registration for your content, keep your form above the fold or as close to the top as possible.  If using top of page placement, I suggest top left.  Typically, I’ll insert the form under the content benefits.
  • Use the same picture you will be using in your Facebook ad to provide some familiarity upon click-through.

Step 2:  Set up your tracking URL

My organization uses Hubspot software for tracking, but you can set up a tracking URL with Google Analytics.  Each URL you set up has a description that allows you to determine immediately which Facebook ad you are looking at in analytics.

To build a tracking URL in Google, log into Google’s tracking URL Builder and follow these steps:

Don’t get scared at the Frankenstein nature of your link, it will look something like this (not a live link):

If you are running more than one ad in your mix, you’ll be able to separate out which ones are performing the best from the ones that aren’t doing so well.

We run multiple ads (3-4) based around our most popular content and program focuses. However, you may want to minimize spend during your first test and just run one.  Or you could run two ads with different headlines, link to the same landing page, and see which one converts better.  Then, put all of your chips on the winner of the two.

Step 3:  Decide your spend

Let me be clear:  I’m not suggesting everyone run or experiment with Facebook ads.  Do it only if you feel the risk can justify the return. With a well targeted content offer, we’ve seen ROI in the 2000 percent range.  Cost per lead as low as $150 for a $15,000 enrollment or “sale.”

I’ve run very effective Facebook campaigns for around $5,000 for 30 days,  which is two hundred percent less than what we have spent on television ads. More importantly, the Facebook campaigns have had more than twice the results of any television campaign.

Nevertheless, make sure your team does a cost/benefit analysis to help you decide which ad option will produce the most benefits for your client.

The beauty of Facebook ad spending is you can experiment with a little or a lot of money and set daily limits on your spend.  Once the limits have been met, the ad shuts off for the day.

I suggest selecting “Pay for Clicks.”  Have a different experience with paying for impressions?  Please leave your comments below. The actual selection of pricing will come after you set up your ad (Step 4).

Step 4: Set Up Your Facebook Ad

Once you have decided on  your overall spend, complete the following information:

  • Destination:  Select “External URL”
  • URL: Paste your tracking link.
  • Title:  This rivals the picture for the most important part of the ad.  Not sure what to use?  Have any email headlines or landing page call to action links that tested extremely well?  Try out one of those.
  • Body:  Use the language of your audience in the ad.  Initially, Facebook ads did not work for us until we changed out the phrase “Free eBook” with phrases like “Find out how” or actionable ones like “Click here to do this.”  In other words, our Facebook crowd hasn’t been a big fan of “eBooks.”
  • Picture: A picture is worth a thousand words.  You get a very limited space for copy in your Facebook Ad.  You only enough space for a call to action headline and a two-line description.  Make sure the picture says it all.

Step 5:  Target your ad

Facebook allows you to target users’ likes and interests.  Your ad reach can be as large as the number of folks living within a certain radius of your business (in the millions), or as low as 20,000 folks between the ages of 18-34  who like chocolate chip cookies and live or work within 10 miles of your business.

Facebook also allows you to change your target settings on the fly.  So, if you aren’t experiencing the lead flow you hoped to see, you can change the settings by widening or narrowing your target audience.

Below are examples of what this section looks like.  Browse the different sections and you can see how targeted you can make one of these campaigns.  Additionally, Facebook’s audience selection feature will show you the extent of your reach in real time as it increases and decreases with each new targeting specification.

Step 6:  Check and Adjust


Fair warning:  You might become obsessed with checking the analytics during your campaign.  Be analytical but patient and steady.  Since Facebook allows you to make changes on the fly, you can easily become a strategic line jumper.

Here are a couple of disconnects you may find and how to fix them:

  • If your landing page conversions are low, it means users are making it to your page but they aren’t converting.  Check the following:
    • Headline:  Does it correspond with what your ad says?
    • Form:  Is it above the fold?  Or do you have it down at the bottom of the page?  Introduce this as soon as possible.
    • Picture: Could it be better?  Did you use the same one as the ad?
    • Landing page copy:  If you haven’t, introduce the benefits of the content as soon as possible.  Facebook users have short attention spans  (actually, we all do).  Are you mirroring the offer in the ad?  Using the language of your audience?
  • If your click through rate is low prospects aren’t clicking on your ad for one or more of the following reasons:
    • Ad headline:  Is the call to action strong?  Are you using research proven terms that increase click-through rates like “Click Here?” Are you using the language of your audience?
    • Picture:  Does the picture correspond to and compliment the ad copy?
    • Ad targeting:  Adjust your reach and let it sit for a couple days.  Maybe your radius or age range is too wide.  Maybe you haven’t properly identified all the possible “likes” to target

Have anything to add or refute? If you’ve had any luck or other experiences with distributing content via Facebook ads, leave them in the comments below.