I love Facebook. It’s my favorite way to figure out what doggo is taking the internet by storm this week. In the 11 years or so since I signed up, Facebook has evolved – rolling out new updates every few months. As a user, I hate this. It’ll take me a good week to figure out where things are. But as an advertiser, I relish every new feature Facebook releases. Every tweak to their advertising platform helps me get better results.

This year I’ve tried out three new ad formats and tactics. My experiements resulted in:

  • My lowest ever cost for an email lead
  • My highest ever conversion rate
  • My client connecting with some of the biggest names in news

Take a look below and consider trying out some new ads and ad formats.

By the way, if you’re new to social ads, consider taking a look at my 101 guide before you dive into this one.


(1) Facebook Lead Ads

For years, I’ve used Facebook ads as an email list building tool.

What I usually do is create a landing page with an email sign up and then I run ads that send people to the landing page. These ads have been pretty successful, my average cost per email was $1.00, but there are a lot of steps in the user flow. Users see the ad, click, are taken to the landing page, fill out the form, and submit it. I suspected that I would see a lower cost per email, and thus better results, if I could remove a step or two in the user flow.

That’s why I was excited when Facebook rolled out their lead ads earlier this year. Lead ads are email signup forms within Facebook. They remove the extra step of going to the landing page, thus decreasing user friction.

I used a Facebook case study on theSkimm as my benchmark: $2.00 per lead. (Unfortunately, this case study doesn’t seem to be on Facebook’s site anymore.) If I stayed under $2.00 per lead with my ads, I could consider them a success. But my goal was to beat my own record and get under $1.00.

My test case was a client with an email list that was only 4% the size of their Facebook following. Here’s what we did:

  • We only targeted current Facebook followers.
    These people would have even less friction because they know the brand.
  • We used creative that works.
    We reused the most successful images from previous ads and mixed in some new ones with similar themes and elements.

The result? $0.27 per new email.

Encouraged by my success, I tried Facebook lead ads out with another client – one who had been struggling with list building since their primary audience is a small, niche group. The end results weren’t as oh-my-god amazing, but they show how brand awareness makes a huge difference in cost.

  • Targeting Facebook followers: $0.83 per email
  • Targeting people who visited the website in the last 30 days: $0.59 per email
  • Targeting our primary audience: $2.33 per email

After my two experiments, I’m confident that with the right targeting and the right creative, Facebook lead ads are one of the most inexpensive ways to build an email list.


(2) Targeted Twitter Audiences

In my experience, nothing builds a following on Twitter like an endorsement from a big name with a big Twitter following. When a world-famous singer retweeted my client, their followers increased by 300% in a few days. (Seriously.)

But how do you get that key mention or retweet? How do you let the Twitter glitterati know you exist? How do you get the right content in front of the right people?

With a little work, you can promote your content directly to a list of users you curate. The trick is tailored audiences.

The first step here is to determine who you want to promote your content to. You’ll need a list of 500 or more influencers and their Twitter handles. (Yes – this will be time consuming.) Drop this into a spreadsheet and upload it on the audience manager. Now you’ve got your audience and can run your ads.

With such a tailored audience, you can’t measure success the way you normally would. These ads will be more expensive than you’re used to.

Additionally, it may take some time to see the results you’re looking for. You’re trying to build a relationship with your influencers – it’s unrealistic to expect them to retweet the first thing you promote to them. First you build awareness, then engagement, then you can expect them to take action for you.

But if you’ve got the budget and the patience, you can see some amazing results – even beyond followers.

One of my clients works in foreign policy and is often responding to stories in the news. They set up some twitter ads targeting prominent journalists and pushed out their best content. Over time, they’ve seen their engagement with these key influencers grow and have even been contacted by their targets to comment on the news of the day.


(3) LinkedIn Sponsored InMail

A couple years ago I ran some ads on LinkedIn. I was underwhelmed – they were expensive and didn’t drive conversions. So when a coworkers suggested I look into them to promote a webinar the Brick Factory was hosting, I wasn’t expecting much.

Well, I was pleasantly surprised by Sponsored InMail.

LinkedIn rolled out this new type of ad about six months ago. If you’re a LinkedIn user, you probably noticed it pretty quickly because, all of a sudden, people were actually messaging you.

Here’s a breakdown of what the ad looks like:

  • Sponsored InMail sends a direct message right to the LinkedIn inbox of targeted users.
  • Users receive a notification that they have new messages when they log in to LinkedIn.
  • The ad looks like a personalized direct message and has a matching banner ad next to it.

This ad format seemed like a good fit for our webinar since we were offering free professional development. But we had no idea what to expect in terms of cost or conversions. So we ran a short, low-cost pilot to try it out.

Here’s what we found:

  • 26% of people who saw the ad opened it.
  • Of the people who opened it, 50% clicked.
  • Of the people who clicked, 25% registered.

That click through rate and conversion rate is amazing – it doesn’t compare to anything I’ve seen on Facebook or Twitter.

To give us a cost comparison, I ran similar ads on Facebook and Twitter. LinkedIn’s cost per click was double or triple what we saw on other ad platforms. The cost per conversion was higher as well, but only a bit higher.

If your goal is clicks, stick with Facebook or Twitter. If your goal is conversions, consider LinkedIn. It’s possible that because of it’s incredible conversion rate, LinkedIn would be the winning ad platform for a longer campaign.


About the Author
Katie Fulton
Katie Fulton is Director of Account Management and Marketing at Brick Factory. She works with a diverse roster of nonprofits and has extensive experience in content creation, email marketing, and digital advertising. She also won an episode of Jeopardy!