Note: When we first uploaded this post, the content of the article pointed to research indicating that Facebook ads don’t usually work. But since this post was written a little over a year ago, Facebook has made several enhancements to its Ads Products offering that have made us change our position on this topic. Below, we’ve featured an update by Andrea Vahl which goes into detail about how to make Facebook ads work for your business.

As Page owners, we have all seen the declining Reach that our Facebook posts are getting and Facebook is encouraging us to spend more money on Ads.  But the big question everyone has is:  Do Facebook Ads work?

The answer lies in the goals you have for your Facebook Ads.  Many people think that they should be able to sell their products and services right from a Facebook Ad.  And in that case, I say that Facebook Ads rarely work unless you have your targeting set right and are only targeting your warm market (people who know you, who have visited your website, or are on your e-mail list).

Facebook Ads shine when you have one of these 3 goals:

1.    Building your e-mail list by offering something good for free.
2.    Send traffic to your website so that people can read a blog post or get a freebie.
3.    Getting engagement from your current Facebook community.

When you really look at it, these three goals are very similar.  We are using Facebook Ads to connect to targeted Facebook users and eventually get them to our e-mail list.  When we are doing things like boosted post to our own Fans, each post should have the ulterior motive of getting them to our website where they get to know us more and get on our e-mail list (if they aren’t already).

Facebook Ads Targeting

One of the great things about Facebook Ads is that you can very specifically target your ads to your ideal client.  If you know your perfect client is a female 25-35 year old homeowner in Akron, Ohio who likes yoga and the Red Hot Chili Peppers band you can specifically target your ad right to those people.

One thing that is different about Facebook Ads is that you can’t target “buying” words like you can with Google Adwords.  If someone is searching for “best deal on golf clubs” you know that they may be looking to buy golf clubs soon.  That is why selling directly from a Facebook Ad is more challenging.  You are going to be more successful by focusing on list-building and then using your e-mail messages to sell your product.

With Facebook Ads, you can target demographics and interests as well as the Fans of other Pages specifically.  Notice in this ad that was for an author, we were targeting the genre of apocalyptic fiction as well as the Fans of other authors that also wrote that type of fiction.


Use things like Facebook Graph Search to find good Pages to target and keywords.  Then set up split testing campaigns to see which demographic responds better to your ad.

Facebook Ads Funnel

I like to look at the types of Facebook Ads that you can run as a Funnel of Familiarity, if you will.  You are moving people down the funnel where they first get to know you into an eventual sale.  I’m recommending that people spend most of their Ads budget on getting people connected to their e-mail list and jumping over the Facebook Like Ads. Getting people to Like your Page is still a good thing, it shows social proof, but if you have a good free offering, it’s better to get people straight onto your list.


The great thing about Facebook Ads is that you can measure exactly how much it costs to get someone onto your list.  By using a Facebook Conversion Pixel you can measure when someone opts in to your e-mail list right from the Facebook Ad.

For example, we can see that this ad sent 34 clicks to the website and from there 18 people registered for the free webinar that was offered in this particular case.  Doing the math on this, we get 18/34 which is a 53% conversion rate!   If you are familiar with typical conversion rates on websites, they are more typically in the 5% rate which shows that we are sending highly targeted traffic to sign up for this webinar.

3With Facebook Reports you can get detailed information on click-thru rate, cost per click, cost per conversion, and more.  Now you know which ad is working the best for you.  In this example we did several tests and found one ad out-performed the rest by getting a $0.59 cost per conversion.  Now we can continue to run that ad at a higher budget.


Facebook Ad Examples

Let’s look at some great examples where Facebook Ads work well in list-building and lead generation.  In this ad, we were sending highly targeted traffic to a webinar and we were able to get a 58% optin rate.  At the end of the webinar, Donna Moritz of Socially Sorted talked about a new product she was offering and had an amazing return on her investment.


Another wonderful thing about Facebook Ads is that they can go “viral” if you are offering something really good.  They can get shared, people tag other people to have them see the ad, and when people interact with the ad in some way, their friends can see that activity.  This is all FREE advertising for you.


Offering a free trial of a service can be a great way to use your Facebook ads and this particular ad resonates well with me as a freelancer – it is clearly targeted to my demographic.


So to answer the question:  Do Facebook Ads Work?  The answer is yes, when focusing on lead generation or driving targeted traffic to a website.  The question for you is, what can you do with that traffic that is meaningful?  The best thing is to get people onto your e-mail list.

Action Steps for You:

  1. Focus on sending traffic to a freebie that you offer to get people onto your e-mail list.
  2. Set up Facebook Website Conversion ads so that you can precisely measure the cost for each optin.
  3. Look at your reports and analyze which ad performs best for you.
  4. Use your e-mail messages to then sell your product or services.

The bottom line is that Facebook ads work for most businesses when focusing on e-mail optins.  Sometimes the cost per conversion can be higher depending on your offering or your niche.  By split testing your ads, you can bring that cost down.  Give it a try!

About the Author: Andrea Vahl is a Social Media Consultant, Speaker, and co-author of Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies. She was named 50 Favorite Online Influencers of 2014 on Her Facebook Advertising Secrets course has helped many marketers maximize their Facebook advertising.