Starting with Paid Ads on Facebook and Instagram
Claire Pelletreau is a Facebook and Instagram ads expert and conversion optimization expert. Her mission for you is to actually see a return on the money you’re putting into Zuckerberg machine without the expensive help of an outside ad consultant. In today’s interview, Jack Born (founder of Deadline Funnel) interviews her about her tips and advice for business owners who are just starting to run paid ad campaigns on Instagram and Facebook.
In today’s interview, I interview Claire about her tips and advice for business owners who are just starting to run paid ad campaigns on Instagram and Facebook.
Watch the video of my interview with Claire or read the transcript below!
Jack Born: Hey, everyone. This is Jack Born, founder of Deadline Funnel, and I’m with a very, very talented Deadline Funnel client, Claire Pelletreau. And she is here to talk about her wisdom and experience with Facebook ads, Instagram ads, and how you can generate leads profitably; that’s the key, how to do it profitably. And one of my favorite topics is how we can do this 24/7/365. So Claire, great to have you here.
Claire Pelletreau: Thank you so much, Jack. I have just been such a big fan of your work for so long, so this is a real treat for me. Thank you for the invite.
Jack Born: Absolutely. So obviously Facebook and Instagram ads is one of those places where if we could just figure out how to make it work for us, that’s a huge, huge wellspring of traffic. Like that’s where a lot of our audience is hanging out. But one of the things that I’ve noticed is that, as with all ad platforms over the years, the costs rise. It feels like it gets more and more complicated. So for someone who has either tried it before and they’ve gotten their nose kind of busted, and they’ve gotten beat up a little bit, their pockets have been emptied out, or someone who’s just starting to jump into it, what would be your starting advice in order for someone to make sure that they can make Facebook and Instagram ads work for them?
Claire Pelletreau: Well, the first thing I’ll say is that you just don’t know if Facebook and Instagram ads will work for you. I think that Facebook ads, Instagram ads, basically any kind of paid traffic, I actually say that it’s like Viagra. It will give you a boost, but if you’re not good in bed, it’s not gonna change that. So if your business is already converting, if you have product-market fit, if you’ve really validated your offers and you know how to get people to give you money, like the people who find you organically, that’s a really good sign. Facebook and Instagram ad traffic, the people who come to your site or to your podcast or whatever you’re promoting with ads, they are going to always behave differently. So it does take a lot more to actually convert them. Gone are the days where it was easy to put a dollar in and make $5 back. So I think the most important thing is expectations. Some people launch their first campaign, and they just hit the nail on the head right away. Other people, and I would say probably most people, they struggle with Facebook’s interface, the Ads Manager. They struggle with knowing what’s the right thing to promote, or what’s the right objective or audience. And so I think after just having pretty low expectations, and understanding that you are going to have to do this a lot of times in order to get it right, then just understanding that if you don’t get it right, there’s nothing wrong with you. It’s not that you’re bad at something or that you’re bad at business, it’s that it’s not a very intuitive tool. It feels scary to put money into something, instead of if you’re just working with organic stuff, you’re posting on social or you’re getting on other people’s podcasts, things like that. While that is a use of your time, it’s not just saying “bye bye” to the money. So the stakes feel so much higher with ads. So I think those are the most important things, is one, go in with low expectations. Understand that you are going to pay to get data, pay to figure out what things in your business are actually on point and what needs a lot of work. And then try not to freak out as you go through the process and say, “Oh no, I can’t possibly do it.” Because everyone I know who says, “No, I’m just not somebody who can do that kind of work,” they’ve all mastered something else that’s way hard for me. So it’s just a question of practice.
Jack Born: Okay. Well, let’s talk about budget. Is there a certain, in expectations, along those lines, is there a minimum budget that you would say someone needs to be able to bring to the table and be ready to spend for several months possibly, in order to be able to tweak things and buy that data to finally tip things in their favor?
Claire Pelletreau: Yeah. Great question. So since we’re talking to Deadline Funnel users, I assume, or people interested in building funnels, then my guess is that the people watching, they have some kind of funnel. They have some kind of way that says, “Hey, I have this offer. Here’s how you can give me money.” So what I like to tell people is, I wanna see 400 people through somebody’s funnel before you make any, add, sorry, add subscribers through somebody’s funnel, before you make any decisions about whether or not the ads are good or the funnel is good. Because you need to actually have statistically significant data in order to see what is your conversion rate in this funnel with cold traffic. What is your cost per acquisition? Because if you spend, like I see this all the time, somebody has a course for $1,500, and they put $500 into ads and they don’t get a conversion. They don’t know what their cost per acquisition is because they didn’t get any acquisitions. And they don’t know how many, they don’t know what their conversion rate is. So they don’t know how many subscribers they need. 400 subscribers through a funnel, if you don’t get any conversions, okay, then there’s definitely work that has to happen. So to answer your question about budget, it depends on what your cost per conversion is. I have clients who are able to get $1.50, $2 conversions. They promote stuff that helps with newborn baby sleep. As an ads expert, my cost per conversion could be anywhere between, like if I’ve got a PDF, it might be $5, but a webinar will cost me $15 to get somebody to sign up for. So that’s gonna cost a lot more. $15 a subscriber to get 400 is a much bigger budget than if we’re getting $2 leads. And then does that mean that you should give up after that initial investment? No, you’ve got data, but then you’re gonna have to do it again. So that might sound like, “Oh shit, I have to have $10,000 to spend on ads.” Not necessarily, but if you are testing an ad funnel, you are gonna have to put the money in in order to get data, make tweaks, get more data, repeat.
Jack Born: Yeah, really good to know. And I know you were just throwing out an example number, but I think even that example number on, say, a webinar registration, I know a lot of our clients use webinars. And so if you think through the conversion rates of a typical webinar and the show-up rates, you can start to work your way towards, okay, what is the price point at which I’m selling something. Probably selling a $50 course on a webinar probably is not gonna work based on those metrics. So that’s really, really useful to know. What can you share with us with regards to what you’re seeing as the big leverage points that really take an ad that’s almost working to one that’s actually scalable? Is it the headline, the image, the copy in the ad, the offer, is it all of those things? Like where do you typically focus for getting the biggest return on time?
Claire Pelletreau: Yeah, so it may just be the clients that I work with, but I don’t really see copy or images making that big of a difference. Because if you have a $14 cost-per-webinar registration, no copy is really going to bring that down to $3. That’s too big of a jump. The reason for a high cost per registration is usually about competition and click-through rates. So you might be able to improve the click-through rate a little bit with the creative, and I personally think that’s more in copy than images. Although, the image has to stop people and get their attention first. But I honestly think it actually comes down to offer. I think it comes down to how compelling everything after the ad is: so that’s the signup page. A lot of people do not spend any time optimizing their signup page for your webinar, for your lead magnet. They don’t realize that they could be getting twice as many, well, that’s a jump. But maybe increase the number of leads they get for the same amount of money, just by tweaking that signup page. I think gone are the days when we can just say, “Oh, it’s a simple funnel.” It’s gotta be about you, the person making the offer. It has to be about the person watching and how you connect with them. And so I think there are a lot of important touchpoints that are mostly after the ad. So the actual webinar, the emails, maybe follow-ups in the DMs or things like that, opportunities to get questions answered, that make a much bigger difference in a funnel than in the actual ad.
Jack Born: So you mentioned that a lot of people don’t spend enough time on that registration page. And I know by talking about this registration page, maybe we could include opt-in pages as well for a lead magnet. Are there certain areas of that either registration page or opt-in page which are the high-leverage points that you think people should focus on?
Claire Pelletreau: Yeah. Headline and bullet points. I find that a lot of times, headlines are just kind of boring, or they say what the thing is instead of the problem that it solves. Or talking about the pain point. One of my favorite headlines ever written, and I worked for Laura Roeder before she launched MeetEdgar, and so she was in the info-product business. And the headline on this lead magnet page was “All day on Facebook with nothing to show for it?” It just hit you in the gut because that is what so many early-stage entrepreneurs are doing. And so just that headline really pulling you in, and then the bullet points about, not just, again, not this is a 15-page PDF or things like that, but making it really like piqueing the curiosity of the person who’s viewing the page to see like, “Oh god, well, I have to sign up for this. I am dying to know that one thing that I’ll be able to do that’s going to increase the registrations on my signup page. And it’s only going to take me five minutes to implement?” Like these really specific and yet mysterious things.
Jack Born: Yeah, you touched on one of my favorite copy leverage points, which is writing bullets. And I’m not saying that I’m the world’s best at writing bullets, but bullets like, “what to never eat on an airplane”. I mean, you almost have to dive in and read that. And so I think there’s both a science and an art to writing super compelling bullets. And when you get good at that, I mean, they’re sort of like mini-headlines. And so being able to write those bullets, you can use them on your landing pages, on your registration pages and your emails. Do you have any certain, since we have this shared love of bullets and awesome copy, are there any templates or formulas that are kind of go-tos for you?
Claire Pelletreau: Yes. But I have them all, like I have a template that I give my students, I give away for free. I don’t even know the URL for that, but I think it’s actually brilliant for, it’s a template for ad copy, but it could absolutely be used for your registration page as well. And it really does always come down to just that: like being mysterious but super specific. I think that’s also a huge problem with copy in general, is that it is too vague. Or it’s what we believe that people are looking for, like clarity or feeling abundant. Those things don’t mean anything, and yet I see them all the time. But just using really, really, really specific examples of what people want or the struggles that they’re having, that’s really just what I go to all the time. Like what are the specific examples I can use?
Jack Born: Talk to me about video. Do you use video a lot with your Instagram and Facebook ads? Or is it mostly images and text?
Claire Pelletreau: I haven’t used video really for myself since it was kind of first introduced, ’cause that’s when I could get a better cost per signup with video. I didn’t see any change in quote-unquote quality of subscribers. But I have worked on campaigns for some really big-name personal brands, and their videos, it was really funny; they would make incredibly high-quality videos, and they would perform as well as their beautifully photographed photos. And sometimes their selfie photos, like always their selfie story videos, we call them her “backyard selfies”, they always performed best. So it’s like the more polished something looks, sometimes the worse it can perform. But yeah, a lot of times we didn’t see a change, and it was like, “You’re spending a lot of time and money shooting these videos, and it’s not really getting any kind of ROI.” Now, that’s different from the organic stuff, like Reels or TikTok or whatever, all that jazz. But in terms of the ad, still to this day, my best performing ones for my own business are static images.
Jack Born: So I know regardless of what platform, whether it’s Google, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, one of the challenges that we face, I think all of us face this, is that we get an idea for an ad, and then when we try to come up with something really unique and different to test against it, we’re kind of coming up with something that’s pretty adjacent to what we do. It’s hard to come up with these truly unique ideas where we’re getting data, where we’re getting a clear signal that either yes that worked, or yes or no that didn’t. Can you give us some ideas about some ad formats or some ideas? Like you mentioned the selfie video. Are there some other ideas that you could throw at us that would give us sort of a grab bag to at least try, so that we’re not really testing 20 different variations of the same thing; we’re testing very, very different ad ideas.
Claire Pelletreau: Yeah, well, first off, I don’t recommend testing that many things at once. Like two images, or let’s say two visual pieces of creative. So maybe an image versus a video, or two different images versus two different sets of copy. And what I always like to do is a piece of copy that talks about, I mean, it could really talk about the problem or talk about the outcome of the transformation. But the other one is just a straight-up story. So it is either “I” or a third person: not talking so much “you”. Sometimes Facebook is gonna ding you for using “you” too much. You never know when it’s gonna happen. So I always tell people, try it, just talk to the person the way you do in regular copy. But then the other one is some kind of story. And again, getting super, super specific about how that person was feeling, what they were going through, what they had to do in order to change things. I find that most people aren’t doing that enough. It’s pretty simple. And I think, I feel like I hear it all the time, Jack, about the importance of stories, and yet I don’t see them in ads very often. So that’s the one thing that I tell people. And also, I think we have a tendency when we write ads to air on the side of generic a little. It is weird to put yourself out there and know that you’re gonna be in people’s feeds, and they didn’t follow you and things like that. So we tone it down. Uh-uh, I’m all about turning it up. Right now I am writing some ad copy that starts with who the ad is not for, because all of the ads so far say, “Attention coaches and course creators.” Totally, my ads have said that, absolutely. But I just wanna really, really change things up, because there is true ad fatigue. I mean, it’s not just the competition, although that’s driving costs up, but people are just like, “Boring, boring. I know this is an ad. I’m not even going to look at it.” So yeah, you have to work hard to get somebody’s attention. And I think the best way to do that, or at least something to try against maybe a safer version, is something completely unlikely to work, if you will.
Jack Born: Yeah, can you go a little bit deeper and give an example, either the real example or kind of just a made up example of what an ad might look like if we weren’t saying, “Hey, attention coaches and consultants.” Like what would be the opposite in saying, “Hey, this isn’t for you.”
Claire Pelletreau: I’m literally just getting that on paper, but this one is gonna say, and so if somebody takes this, please go give me credit in your mind? I don’t care. But my offer is not for beginner business owners, and that is who clicks on ads the most. So that also can impact, depending on what your offer is, if it’s great for early-stage business owners, your ads are just almost definitely gonna perform better. So it’s just going to say, this ad is not for people who, and then boom, boom, boom. Like just trying to get their coaching clients, starting a brand new offer, just all the things that we actually see people who are bad fits, wrong fits for the offer. And then we’re gonna just have to transition, and to be honest, I don’t know what that transition is gonna look like yet. But I will tell you that I just launched one of my own ads, because I find for me the best bang for my buck is ads that promote my podcast. And I have one ad going on right now that has been beating out all the other tests we run. It’s to an episode with a guest who had a $400,000 year with two toddlers at home during the height of COVID. That headline has beat out all the other headlines. But I wanted to try something very different because one of my episodes, so it’s a solo episode, has been beloved by my listeners. So I’m like, “Okay, I’m gonna try this with new people.” And so it’s just a photo of me. It’s an audiogram, and the text, I mean, I don’t think we’ve seen anything like this before, where I literally say “here’s how much I made last year. These were my expenses, and this is what I paid myself” in an ad. Everybody splashes numbers around, but we get really in-depth about how much people pay themselves and expenses and stuff on my podcast. So I’m just literally trying to grab attention with that by being very different from what you normally see.
Jack Born: Yeah, that’s really, really interesting. So the takeaway from me that I’m hearing from you is it’s not just ad fatigue from competition, but we really have to stand out because people are just getting banner blindness, and they’re getting a lot better at being able to determine what’s content versus what’s an ad. And you’ve really got to be a lot more creative with what you’re trying. Are there any other tips or strategies that you wanna share?
Claire Pelletreau: Yeah, well, just to talk about audiences ’cause we haven’t really touched on that.
Jack Born: Yeah, let’s talk about that.
Claire Pelletreau: That tends to be where people really get tripped up, and thank you Apple for your iOS update last year, that now Facebook ads are just a little harder in general, and look-alike audiences, which was I would upload maybe a CSV file of all my purchasers, people who had given me money in the past. And I say, “Facebook, make this into a custom audience.” And they say, “Okay.” And then they ask, “Do you wanna make a look-alike audience after this, or out of this?”, and I say, “Sure.” And it would then find other people who were similar; similar how we don’t really know, but those audiences were just killing it for many years. And it seemed like they were even getting better. Like Facebook was really focusing on them, and they were just performing. And since the update last, I mean it hit everybody at kind of different times, but my look-alike audiences stopped performing well over the summer in 2021. So now if I use look-alike audiences, they are based on in-app custom audiences. So people who have engaged with your Facebook page. People who have clicked on your Instagram profile. And I always make sure that my clients, especially people who have run ads in the past, took a break and are now back. They don’t quite know about the look-alike audience update thing. So we just make sure that they’re trying interest-based audiences as well.
Jack Born: Okay. What about audience size? I’ve heard different opinions about how big you should make your audiences when you’re putting them together. So do you have a guide on what works best for you and your clients?
Claire Pelletreau: I mean, it really depends on somebody’s budget. I’m gonna say as a baseline, let’s go for a million or above. If you are a local business, you may not be able to do that at all, and that’s okay. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. But yeah, that’s another big change where it used to just be small audiences were great, specific audiences were great. But Facebook likes a lot of room to move and find the right people for you. And the more constraints you put on them, like let’s say people who are new moms and have a master’s degree, and they are interested in Peloton, it’s gonna drive your costs up so high that even if they might be the right people it will cost you a lot more to get to them than if you had a broader audience.
Jack Born: Wow, this has really been fascinating. Before we go, Is there anything else that you wanna share? Any final thoughts?
Claire Pelletreau: No, I mean, I would say for anyone who has a podcast, start there: just start with episodes that people have loved, that maybe you get a lot of organic traffic to. Like if you’re paying attention to that in Google Analytics or something like that. But otherwise, I would say if you’re starting out, I typically recommend if you don’t have a podcast, I recommend list-building ads, so some kind of ad to a freebie, to a webinar. And then don’t just expect the money to come in. If you’re dealing with new Facebook ad traffic, watch the metrics, maybe reach out to people individually. That’s what I did when I first started my business. Anyone who got on my list, I just reached out to them. And start conversations. Because unless you have a formal funnel built where there is an offer and a deadline and a wonderful timer thanks to Deadline Funnel, you may not necessarily get sales right away. But that doesn’t mean that these are quote-unquote poor-quality subscribers. Actually, I kind of hate that when people are like, “Oh, well, ads don’t work. I just got bad subscribers.” Maybe you just don’t know how to convert them. That’s kind of how I feel.
Jack Born: So Claire, how can people find you? And do you have any resources, any free resources that you wanna offer?
Claire Pelletreau: Yeah, if you go to ClairePells.com, if you just kind of click around there, we do have a lot of free resources. One about audience copy. What was another one? I just sort of have an overall overview of Facebook ads in a masterclass that’s at ClairePells.com/5ads If you wanna go there. People said that that kind of really helps clarify a lot, the different types of ads and what they should be paying attention to when they start. And then also, I have a podcast called The Get Paid Podcast where I ask extremely nosy questions, and people really love that kind of transparency.
Jack Born: And tell me about your work with clients. Who’s your ideal client that you like to work with?
Claire Pelletreau: Yeah, so right now, I have a group program where we primarily help people who have some kind of course or group coaching program. Some people work with one-on-one clients, and we are just helping to get them leads, and then actually track the effectiveness of those marketing strategies. So it’s not all Facebook and Instagram ads. Some people are definitely putting most of their eggs in that basket. We just wanna make sure that all the tracking is in place so we actually know what the ROI is. That used to be a lot easier with Facebook than it is now. But plenty of people are looking to shake it up a little, because they were getting all their leads from Facebook ads before, and now it’s a lot more expensive. So we’re just helping them come up with plans to diversify.
Jack Born: Awesome. Well, this has been great, Claire. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and wisdom about Facebook and Instagram.
Claire Pelletreau: My pleasure, Jack.
Jack Born: See ya.