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11 min read

The complete guide to driving lead generation with paid social media ads

Lead generation

If you start a fire, why not make it bigger?

My friends and I stood around the fire as it licked hotly at our exposed faces. We didn’t mind it much as the cold Washington air nipped the back of our necks, sending an icy shiver down our spines. We edged in closer, making the heat ever so slightly more intense.

Our church youth group had decided on this camping location for the nearby hiking and its popularity with the outdoorsy folk who respond to the siren’s call of Washington’s rich outdoor habitats.

One of the older boys, cocky (like us all), got even closer and pulled a bottle that had been concealed by the cold shadows into the light cast by the dancing flame. We all started to chatter excitedly, realizing what he had in his hands.

A bottle of lighter fluid. (Yeah, pyromania much?)

In what seemed like a liquid motion, he popped the cap, guided the nozzle to point toward the already roaring blaze, and squeezed.

Like lightning drawn to metal, the flames rose to meet the stream of flammable fuel. The fire leaped forward like a coiled snake, flaring up, and sending a heat that made the sun in summer seem mild.

He might’ve singed his eyebrows a bit, but damn it was warm! Even though the fire was already hot enough, we threw in literal fuel and made it hotter!*

*Disclaimer: Neither LJ Barnum nor the Revenue Marketing Alliance endorses pyromania. Don’t do it, y’all. Your eyebrows are precious.

So why am I telling you this? Well, while just creating posts and selling on social media is great, it gets even better with a little fuel. Enter, paid social media ads.

Paid social media ads are a form of advertising on social media platforms where the advertiser pays a fee to the social media platform for the ad space. These ads can be in the form of videos, images, or stories. A few smaller platforms support text-only but the majority don’t.

Paid social media ads have three main advantages: they are measurable, they have high engagement rates, and they can be targeted at specific demographics.

The disadvantage is that marketers need to pay a lot of money upfront without knowing if it will lead to any sales or leads. Because of this nuance, it’s even more critical to create a successful ad campaign.

How to generate leads without SEO
It’s not always easy to generate qualified leads. In this article, we take a look at alternative ways to do so without SEO.

How to create a successful paid social media campaign

There are many factors that can affect the success of a paid social media campaign, so it’s important to find a strategy that works for your company. Here’s how you can start building yours.

Choose a target audience – First, determine which audience you want to target. You need to create content that is relevant to them and share it where they’ll see it.

Choose a social media platform – Next, decide which social media platforms you will use. Your social media strategy should be based on the platform preferences of your target audience, your target market, and your product/service. You might find that some social media platforms work better for some companies while others work better for other companies.

Create content for your audience – Content for your audience can take many forms. It can be a video, a post, or a blog post that helps to move people down your funnel. Creating relevant content also helps identify who belongs at what stage of your marketing funnel.

A paid ads funnel is a marketing funnel that is used to generate leads and sales. It is a series of ads that are designed to get the user to take the desired action.

The first step in creating an ad funnel is to identify the goal of the campaign. This will help you determine what type of ad you need, how much money you should spend, and what your estimated conversion rate should be.

The next step in creating an ad funnel is to create your ads. You can use any ad format, but it’s important that they are relevant and engaging for your target audience. The more engaging your ads are, the more likely they will be shared on social media or clicked on by users who see them in their newsfeeds.

How to leverage blog content to generate leads
Writing engaging content to draw an audience is just the tip of the iceberg; once you capture their attention you need to capture their information through something we call ‘lead generation’.

How to measure the success of your paid social media campaigns

Measuring the success of your paid social media ads is important because if you don’t know if they’re working, you could be wasting time and money. The most common metric for measuring the success of paid social media campaigns are ROI, sales, leads, and revenue.

To measure the sales and revenue of your social media ads, look at how many people you targeted, how many of those people clicked through to your website, and how many of those people ended up purchasing your product/service.

To measure the sales and leads generated through your social media ads, look at your overall sales and leads. You want to see if the paid social media campaign contributed to the overall sales and leads.

However, the only way you’ll know if your paid social media campaign is successful is to measure the ROI.

A couple of math equations for my fellow nerds

If you’re hiring an ads manager, which I would recommend:

Ads ROI = (revenue generated – ad spend) / ad spend

If you’re not hiring an ads manager, which I wouldn’t recommend:

Ads ROI = (revenue generated – (ad spend + management fees)) / (ad spend + management fees)

In both cases, you’ll need to install the platform’s tracking pixel. Pixels are a type of code that is used to track conversions. They’re placed on the website, landing page, or supported web or mobile app and can be used to measure the effectiveness of an ad campaign.

Best practices for advertising with paid social media ads

As with other types of ads, you also need to follow some best practices to ensure a successful paid social media ad campaign.

  1. Make sure your ad fits with the platform and audience. For example, if you’re advertising on Instagram, your ad should have an aesthetic that fits the platform. You also want to make sure that your ad is relevant to your target audience’s needs, wants, and desires. If your brand focuses on, say, healthcare, make sure your ad contains content that is applicable to the health-related topics that your brand audience is interested in.
  2. Make a too-good-to-pass-up offer. This will help you stand out from the competition and get people interested in your services. Knowing your audience inside and out and where your competitors fall short will show you the way to your perfect offer.

Pro tip: Don’t sell paint; sell the ambiance the paint creates in a room. Don’t sell insurance; sell peace of mind.

  1. Write effective ad copy that will convince people that they need your product or service. You should also include a call-to-action so that people know what they should do next. (Click here, sign up now, download, view more, learn more, shop, etc.)
  2. Invest in retargeting. There’s a marketing adage that says it takes seven interactions with your brand for you to stick in someone’s mind. In sales, we say “the money’s in the follow up”, in both cases, we can call this retargeting. Retargeting ads are essential for that “online follow-up” to put you in the minds of your future customers.
  3. Split test images, captions, and videos so that you can see which ones work best for your audience and produce the greatest ROI.

Pro tip: Automate split testing with Marpipe and Celtra. These solutions are suitable for ad spend over $5,000 per month and work hand-in-hand with Adobe Creative Cloud access.

B2B Basics: Lead nurturing
In this article, we’re going to define lead nurturing, before outlining some of the most important tactics and things to consider in an effective lead nurturing process.

Do I need a website to run ads for lead generation?

Not in the least. You can still effectively generate leads and appointments without a website.

Running ads without a website is a great way to get your business out there. You can use landing pages, social media pages, blogs, contact forms, and calendars to generate leads. You can also use sales pages or sales funnels to sell products or services in lieu of a website or landing page.

However, in all cases, you will need to have somewhere for the interested lead to go and be recorded.

What is CPM and how does it affect advertising costs? (What are CPM ads?)

Cost per mille, or CPM, refers to the amount advertisers pay per thousand times an ad is seen and varies by ad platform and targeting.

Although it’s not the most accurate metric (because it doesn’t take into account how many times people click on your ad versus how many times they see your ad) it’s still a good way to see how much advertisers are paying for ad space.

The higher the CPM, the more expensive it is to advertise on that platform, and the higher your advertising budget will need to be to generate the same number of results as you would on a lower CPM targeting.

To calculate your CPM, simply divide the total cost of your ad campaign by the total number of impressions and multiply by 1000.

Is it true that the size of my audience impacts how well my ads do?

Yes and no. It’s critical to know that your CPM can also be impacted by your social media audience size and content quality (where great content can replace a large audience) but there are some exceptions to the rule (Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok).

In general, social media accounts can be grown effectively using one of these tried and true methods:

  1. Engage and follow, create and nurture, aka EFCN (most effective): Like and comment on your audience’s posts. Reply to their comments on your awesome content. Start casual conversations in the comments sections and DMs. Relationships are the best sellers on social media and this is the method I use personally and for my clients’ accounts.
  2. Like, like, like, create, and nurture (slower, higher quality of following): Like content posted on profiles that match your target demographics.
  3. Siphon and create (targeted traffic, engagement): The name is misleading – this method involves engaging with your competitors’ and similar accounts’ followings while creating great content that’s similar to what they’re already consuming.
  4. Dollar Eighty (a solid alternative to EFCN): This is a method created by Gary Vee, it involves leaving your two cents in the comments on nine posts across 10 different hashtags that are relevant to your account daily. This gets your profile seen by thousands of people per day and if they find value in your comment, they’ll find value in your great content.
  5. Follow, unfollow, create (not recommended): Follow and unfollow is a method that’s supposed to increase your engagement rate and “push” your content further because its engagement percentage is higher. Some social media managers swear by this method, but based on what I know about machine magic (aka algorithms), I’m not convinced.

Special considerations: Instagram and Facebook

Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms and it has become a favorite among brands to promote their products and services.

Facebook, on the other hand, has some of the most merchant-friendly tools built into its platforms. Both benefit from the parent company, Meta’s, massive development capabilities and rival-to-Google, Meta AI (and logarithm for nerds).

When it comes to growing both your Facebook and Instagram accounts, focus on posting high-quality content, writing keyword-rich captions (how to), and using hashtags. Growing your Instagram account will take time, so don’t worry if you are doing it slowly.

The most important thing is that you are consistent with your growth strategy. You should also track the progress and adjust your growth strategy as needed.

Both platforms are actually safe to run ads on before having a larger (150+ people) audience, though I don’t recommend it unless you have an experienced ads manager.

Special considerations: TikTok

Growing your audience on TikTok is hard work (trust me), but it can be done. You need to create high-quality TikToks, use their ads, and engage with your audience.

You also want to make sure that your content is unique and that it is aimed at your target audience. You can use TikTok to grow your audience by creating interesting content that your audience will enjoy. I also recently discovered that comedic-themed content does exceptionally well here.

TikTok also has a special consideration for its ads. They can’t come out and say “we’ll show your video to this many people and get you this many likes”, but the way the ad targeting is labeled (and other creators’ results) has shown that that’s essentially what’s happening. So go crazy.

Let’s recap

Whew! Social media is a giant. A giant tool, resource, and sales channel wrapped in one. When it comes to generating leads with your ads, remember to follow these social media advertising best practices:

  • Audience size might matter, but quality content is far more important. Grow your audience a bit before running ads.
  • Measure your results with a pixel.
  • You can use paid social media ads to promote your brand and generate quality leads.
  • Make sure that your ads are relevant to your audience and platform.
  • You should have a great offer, write good copy, and a call to action.
  • Retarget those who engaged, and split-test all of your ads to get better results.

Generating leads with ads only gets more effective over time, so don’t give up after three days! It’s also highly recommended to find a reputable ads manager with a proven track record for results that are up-to-date and aware of the best ads strategies and targeting methods.

You should wait until you have a bit of an audience before running ads (I recommend 150+ followers and a 5% average engagement rate) but ultimately it’s up to you and your brand awareness strategy as to when your ads strategy will kick in.

Enjoyed this article? You can read more from LJ here. If you'd like to contribute to Revenue Marketing Alliance, check out our contributors page.


Written by:

LJ Barnum

LJ Barnum

🕺 Conversion and content consultant creating real, awe-inspiring brands that leave an impact 😜 Have fun creating your magic.

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The complete guide to driving lead generation with paid social media ads