Do you know how to use Facebook ads to grow your membership?
Even if your answer is yes, I bet Gavin Bell can help you do it even better!
If you’ve ever wondered how to get started with Facebook ads, or if you’re using them but want to improve their performance, Gavin is THE person to listen to.
As an award-winning entrepreneur, speaker, and Facebook ads specialist, what Gavin doesn’t know about advertising isn’t worth knowing!
In fact not only did we turn to Gavin on numerous occasions for a bunch of our high profile clients – but we also worked with him on our own Facebook advertising strategy too.
I recently had the pleasure of picking his brains for this week's episode of The Membership Guys Podcast.
He didn’t just share one or two pearls of wisdom; he shared an ocean’s worth.
Keep reading to hear Facebook advertising expert Gavin Bell’s advice on how to grow your membership:
Are Facebook ads past their best?
Even Gavin’s mum asks him:
“What will you do if Facebook goes down?”
Sure, there’s noise in the media and clear problems with Facebook, but rumors of its death have been greatly exaggerated.
Facebook isn’t just Facebook. It’s also Instagram. And WhatsApp. And Oculus. And Portal. And Watch. It’s everywhere in our lives and pretty difficult to separate ourselves from.
This is an important lesson in business more generally – if you’re wondering whether the Facebook ship has sailed, it’s time to separate personal opinions from business decisions.
Don’t listen to the headlines and your very vocal, very conspiracy-loving uncle – listen to the data.
Facebook has quite literally never stopped growing, gaining hundreds of millions of users in 2019.
Though Facebook isn’t without its problems, it’s still the biggest community and point of access for advertising. If you want to advertise, you want to do it on Facebook.
That is unless your business is exclusively targeting people like your very vocal, very conspiracy-loving uncle. Maybe reconsider if that’s the case.
What is best practice for the average Facebook advertiser?
This comes with a huge pinch of salt. Probably an entire bag’s worth.
There is very little generic advice that works for every Facebook advertiser.
Every advertiser has different goals, different products and services, and different budgets.
Nevertheless, Gavin thinks there are some universal truths to Facebook advertising.
The first is that the simplest thing you can do with Facebook advertising is… nothing to do with Facebook advertising.
Gavin recommends building a rock-solid content marketing strategy. This is because, in Gavin’s words, “all Facebook ads are doing is putting a message in front of someone”.
So, you need to have great content before you have great ads.
Great content will help you build your audience – whether that’s through web visitors, your mailing list, followers, whatever!
Why is content so important? Gavin believes it’s because:
“The biggest mistake businesses will make on Facebook is trying to run ads to people who don’t know them, trying to sell them something.”
Your ads should amplify the awesome work you do, not necessarily sell anything.
Advertise your content, bring people onto your site, and then use retargeting with Facebook Pixel to start a more direct selling process.
Remember: you aren’t using Facebook ads to get someone from A to Z with ‘one simple trick’.
Your ads are just part of the longer process of your sales funnel.
All some people need to make a purchase is an awareness that the product or service exists.
But the vast majority of people need a journey before parting with their hard-earned cash.
What sort of budget should you have for Facebook ads and what kind of returns can you expect?
There was a beautiful time when I used to get clicks for 10¢. I still dream of it now, but I know those days are never coming back!
Before we start talking about advertising numbers, we need to know about the business numbers.
What is the lifetime value of a member? How many free trials convert to members? These numbers will let us know how much we can afford to spend to acquire a member or lead.
We need to work backward. It’s virtually impossible to say $x per month will work because every membership, location, and vocation is different.
Let’s say the lifetime value of a member is $1,000 and, looking at the margins, you need to sign members up for $100.
There’s our goal!
Once you have that number in mind, you can set up some ads, run them, and see the data that you’re getting back.
If the data shows that it costs $200 to get a new member, you can look at why the ad isn’t hitting your goal.
If the data shows that it costs $50 to get a new member, you can increase the budget.
One important caveat here is that Facebook ads are only part of the picture.
Don’t zoom in too closely on this one element and forget about delivering quality content to your members or other methods of advertising.
What is the best way to advertise online memberships on Facebook?
If you’ve built your audience and are now retargeting with a slightly more sales-focused ad campaign, you might be wondering if there are any silver bullets and leading tactics to deploy.
Before we go any further, just remember that the same caveat applies here as everywhere else in this blog post – this advice is always dependent on what you do, how you do it, where you do it, and what you’re aiming to achieve.
It’s very hard to give generic advice about Facebook advertising!
In purely anecdotal terms, some of the more effective ways we’ve seen when advertising memberships are:
- Free trials
- Monthly, not annual memberships
- The lowest commitment offer that you can make to somebody to make them part of your ecosystem
If you’re going to be pushing free trials through your ads, you need to have a rock-solid system to keep those trial lists after their trial.
But that’s not a Facebook ads problem, that’s a membership problem.
What are common mistakes in Facebook advertising?
Facebook doesn’t just review the content of your ads, they review the content of your landing page.
If you’re taking card details to bill people at the end of their free trial, make sure you’re telling them!
That’s just good practice as a membership provider, never mind as an advertiser.
Be careful about the claims you make in your adverts.
If you are selling an “end result” – be mindful of the language you use.
Lead with educational, informative language, rather than speaking directly to that person and the result they want to achieve.
For example, for a personal trainer advertising a weight-loss membership:
“Find out how hundreds of happy customers have lost weight.”
“Are you looking to lose weight?”
It’s good practice generally to base your communications on what your members want, not what you want. It’s also best practice when it comes to ads.
I have no audience, should I use Facebook ads to build one from scratch?
Honestly, there are probably more important things to focus on than Facebook ads at this point.
As we mentioned earlier, ads are just one part of your strategy – but they’re one of the most resource-intensive parts of it.
Sure, running some ads should work to a degree, but it’ll sink a lot of your precious start-up dollars.
If you’re in a position where you need every dollar to work as hard as it can for you, there are better places you can spend your money at the very start of your membership.
Is there value in new formats of Facebook ads?
Facebook is running out of room for places to run ads, so they’re coming up with more inventive placements and concepts.
Honestly, the standard options are fine – news feed ads that focus on…
- Video views or engagement
…Are pretty much all you need to worry about.
Especially if you’re starting small.
You may get a helpful-sounding call from one of Facebook’s ‘marketing experts’ who give you free advice on this, that, and the other.
It’s just a sales call.
They’re on a mission to sell ad space that isn’t currently selling well enough.
If you take them up on their offers, you’re running the risk of being a tester for Facebook ads.
Put another way, you’re paying for the privilege of being a Facebook ads guinea pig!
What are the most effective ways to test Facebook ads for the first time?
Start researching Facebook advertising and you’ll hear talk of A/B testing, multi-variable split tests, CPC reductions, and lots of other mumbo-jumbo.
The best campaigns do operate using those techniques – but not for newcomers.
Don’t run before you can walk. Start with something small and basic – with a low cost and low input from you.
A good first step is to set up a campaign for one of your lead magnets. In this case, let’s say it’s an eBook.
Set up a simple campaign for your eBook with a budget of a few dollars a day.
Leave it for a week and see how it works – are people clicking? Are they downloading?
Then, change one element at a time.
Tweak the audience, the copy, the images.
See what you can do to drive your ad costs down and increase results.
From there you can start a bit of split-testing, running multiple ads in one campaign, including retargeting, and other more complex approaches to Facebook advertising.
If you’re not sure where to start or which content to include in your ads, you’ve most likely got a data set on this already.
If you’re already creating content and generating leads organically, your best-performing content is the perfect signal for what might work in your ads.
If Article One converts brilliantly and Article Two is chugging along quietly, try Article One first.
Start with an open mind and a low budget
That’s what it all boils down to.
Gavin shared so much actionable advice, all so useful, that it’s hard to contain it all in one blog post.
If you want one simple takeaway, it’s this:
Make sure you’re doing more than just Facebook ads.
Produce brilliant content first, then use it to test Facebook ads at a low cost.
Who knows where you’ll go from there?