<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=658263587654409&ev=PageView&noscript=1" />


Off       Press


Use the same tools I use

Browse free resources for creative entrepreneurs

Join 40,000+ other creatives for writing hacks, web & email copy tips, & more

Take the Quiz


What's your online voice vibe?

Are Social Media Ads Worth It?

Reading time: 10 min.

In 2021, we wrote 185 social media ads inside my agency. I even spent a chunk of change on social ads myself. 

If you’re new to the worth of social media ads, though, you might be wondering: Are they worth it for you?

I know that investing in ads can be really intimidating at first — and honestly, who decided that Facebook Ads Manager needed to be so complicated? Then there are all the updates to Apple and Google’s operating systems and changes to privacy standards on platforms like Facebook (Meta, whatever). 

How has all of that impacted ads, and can you still get results for your business? 

I’m weighing in on all of that here, so you can decide if social media ads are right for you or not.

Hey, good lookin’! If you’re already running social media ads or are ready to start, check out some social media ad copy tips right here

Why social ads might be worth it for you

I’ll be honest. I’ve been in the room when I’ve heard big entrepreneurs talk about how they grew their following, their podcast downloads, the leads, etc. through organic marketing strategies. 

Those are great — and I’m sure they use them (it’s all part of the 5 buckets!). But I know they paid a lot of money in ads, too.

The truth is: Some people aren’t telling you about their ad spend when they’re talking about how they grew their business. 

Instead of trying to make you think I’ve done everything in my business organically, I’ll just let you in on my little (not-so) secret: I use ads to grow my email list and sell my offers — especially during a launch.

And you know what? I love it. So my customers. At every single conference I go to, at least one person says they found me from an ad. 

They’re not alone. In fact, 50% of adult internet users have said that ads help them find products, and I’d argue that the other 50% just weren’t aware they were clicking on an ad.

Ads get new eyeballs on your brand and offers

Why do we even do ads? Can’t we just post our blogs or share our lead magnets and drive traffic that way? In a dream world, that might be possible, but in this one… it’s an eyeballs game. 

Previously, I’ve talked about the 5 buckets of traffic you’re gonna need in your business. These buckets are: 

  • Direct
  • Search
  • Social
  • Relationship
  • Paid (what we’re talking about here)

While you don’t have to use everything single one of these buckets, they do work in tandem. That means, if you want to have a really thorough traffic or lead gen strategy, you’re going to want to at least think about all five.

But what if you hate social media?! I get it. And honestly, folks, you might be able to get more eyeballs on your business without it! 

But maybe you can’t, and that’s a sign it’s time to do more social media — and maybe even paid ads.

Ads can also help with list fatigue. If you’ve already launched to your current email list and you’re noticing your email open rates or conversions dip down, it’s time to get some new people in the pool! They’ll be new to your offers and more primed for conversion.

Specific targeting for better results

Now, there’s one argument against social media ads that I want to share here. There’s a lot of concern around privacy and data collection and, as someone who values her privacy, I get it. 

It can feel like ads are “following you,” or like they know you. Part of the shifts in privacy on social media platforms is helping with this, thankfully.

We saw changes to Facebook in 2021, and now they’re not able to monetize a large portion of the data they collect. 

This is great for folks who want their privacy (like yours truly), and it also means that, as advertisers, we have to really know our audience.

Apple and Google now have data “opt-in” features now, which means people have to opt in to have their data shared. That sounds discouraging, but only if you’re going for numbers and not quality leads.

Today, running ads to your business could possibly get you even better results than before — because you’re drawing from a pool of people who’ve consented to share their info. 

With the right targeting and copy (more on this later), your ads could really resonate for them, and they’ll be grateful that you shared your ads! You’re showing them solutions to their challenges and that, y’all, is what it’s all about. 

You can test your messaging in real-time

Back in my magazine days, people would buy ads and it would take almost six months for them to see if they worked. 

Social media ads will tell you a whole lot faster. You can see which headline, copy, and creative works in just about a week.

Now, that might sound intimidating if you’ve never done ads and you’re afraid you’ll sink some cash into ads that don’t work. 

My friend Adrienne Richardson says, “When you run ads, you never lose. You either win or you learn.” So I like to approach ads with a bit more of an experiment mindset — I like to get in the sandbox and play.

Why social ads might not be worth it for you

I won’t say social media ads are right for everyone, nor will I say that you should jump right in! There are a few considerations before you start setting up your ads account.

Ads can be high maintenance

Sort of like a Pomeranian who needs frequent fur trims or a much-loved-but-very-aged car from college, ads can be a bit high maintenance.

Ad creative (images, graphics, or video) fatigues pretty quickly and you’ll need to refresh that once every month or so. Some experts even say you should change your creative weekly! Thankfully, copy is a bit more long-lived and easier to mix and match. Watch this video for more deets on that! 

Ads Manager changes all. the. time. 

I won’t lie: Ads Manager (Facebook’s ad tool) can be intimidating to learn at first. They have a really robust support section and there are tons of videos on how to get started, though.

If you’re just getting started, my recommendation is to know enough to be dangerous and to speak the language. But if you’re really committed to growing your business through social ads, I recommend having someone on your team or contracting with an agency to help you out.

That’s because I personally like to look at the data and see what’s going on, but I do not want to keep up with all the changes that happen in Ads Manager. When iOS 14 and 15 hit, having an expert who could help with targeting was also incredibly helpful.

It’s not money in, money out

Facebook ads and other social media ads aren’t exactly a crapshoot, but they’re like investing in the stock market: You have to expect that not everything is going to get you returns all of the time.

And, unfortunately, because of recent privacy changes, it’s a bit harder to tell what you’ll get in terms of ROI on your ad spend. Other things will also affect your ad results, including seasonality, competition in your market, what’s going on in the world, and so on.

Ads can’t fix a poorly converting landing page

I said before that traffic is an eyeballs game. You want to have the most eyeballs possible on your offers to drive sales or leads. But ads can’t fix an offer that isn’t converting, nor can it make a landing page convert better!

You’ll want to make sure that any page you’re directing people to is already converting well before you put ad spend behind. Here are a few benchmarks to help you determine if your landing pages are ready for ads:

  • Lead magnets/opt-ins: These pages should be converting 20-30% of cold traffic
  • Workshops/webinars: These pages should be converting 20-30% of cold traffic

Ad sets for beginners

Have you decided that you’re ready to dip your toes in the social ads waters? Here are some ads you might want to start out with:

  • Ads to lead magnets or opt-ins
  • Ads to workshops, webinars, or masterclasses
  • Quiz ads
  • Retargeting or abandon cart ads

With the exception of your abandon cart ads, I don’t recommend starting with ads pushing to a paid offer. This is because you want to reach people who are new (cold) to your brand, and you don’t want to shove a paid offer in their face.

You want to build a connection with them and get them interested. Of course, with retargeting ads, they were already interested, so I say hit ‘em again!

How to lower ad costs

Worried about the costs associated with ads? You’re definitely not alone. This is one of the biggest things for brands and business owners who are new to the ads world. 

Luckily, there are ways to lower your cost per action (CPA).

Improve landing page conversions

If you want your ads to be less expensive, spend some time improving conversions on your landing page. Yep, I’m on that train again. 

Like I said before, if your landing pages aren’t converting at least 20% of cold traffic, your CPA is going to be much higher.

In case you’re wondering what an average CPA is, it’s about $18.68 across industries — but my goal is to get yours much lower (somewhere around the $7 mark).

All ads are doing is pointing more eyeballs at what you’ve already got (your offers and their landing pages). If you don’t know if your site is converting based on actual data, then you might wanna wait to start running ads. 

Get your targeting right

Targeting is a whole ‘nother science, my friends, and I’m just a little ol’ copywriter. With targeting, you want to make sure that you’re using Facebook’s allowed data to find the people who align with your ideal client or customer.

This might involve creating lookalike audiences from your email list, creating audiences from people who follow competitors or big names in your space, and so on. 

I can’t really speak to how to target your audience because it’s above my pay grade, but I can tell you that great copy and great imagery won’t do boo for people who don’t want your offer!

You need to have the right message and put it in front of the right audience. Or else you’ll eat your ad spend hand over fist.

Look at the data (and let it collect)

Want to make ads more affordable? Track the data every day — or least be aware of how ads are performing. One thing I’ve seen people do is “track the data” on an ad that just went live a few hours ago and then pull it.

That’s not what I mean by “track the data.” I don’t want to make any decisions until a good amount of time has passed. One week is usually efficient for me to see what I need to see, so give it enough time to actually collect information.

Also make sure that you’re not just looking at Ads Manager data. Use tools that measure conversions on your landing pages as well. I also like to look at the lifetime value of our customers before I pull the plug on an ad. 

If I’m paying a bit more on a cost per action, but I know that an acquired customer is worth 10x the cost of that action, it’s worth it to keep going! 

4 ad spend strategies to try

Alright, we talked about why ads are awesome, why they’re not perfect, and how to make the most out of your ad spend. Now… how do you get started?

Here are 4 ad spend strategies I’ve tried or seen work for my friends. You ready?

Boost posts

If you have an organic post that got a lot of attention, throw $20 behind and see what happens. This is the easiest way to test the ad waters. Just make sure you’ve got proper targeting set!

Retarget video audiences

I’ll post a video on my social feeds and then retarget people who watched the videos with a lead magnet or something free. This works because I’m not a completely foreign face to them and they’ve at least seen my content before.

The “Thousand Dollar Test”

This strategy comes from my friend, Julie Stoian. It’s called the Thousand Dollar Test and it is what it sounds like: You spend a thousand dollars on a set of ads to see what works. 

This works really well for a new offer you’re putting out there or when your campaign objective (the goal for your ads) is to purchase. 

Basically, you’ll spend about $333 a day for 3 days, and each day you’re testing what works with different ad sets, including copy and creative. 

The All-in Launch

This works best when you have a launch coming up and you want some new fresh faces on your list. This starts by doing “backward launch math,” as I call it. 

Basically, I know that this landing page can convert at this percentage. So I need X number of eyeballs on the page, which means I need X number of people to see the ad and click on it. 

Then, I need to consider how many people I need on my email list to then convert into my offer, which all leads to the cost per action. 

You’ll want to know your conversion rates on your landing pages, in your emails, etc. for this to be the most helpful!

Ready to dive into the world of ads?

Phew, we’ve covered a lot of ground today, my friends. I know that deciding to start investing in social ads can feel like a big step, but if you know how to get it all set up and you focus on the data, I just know they’re gonna be great for you.

Of course, once you know your budget, your targeting, and what offers you’re promoting, it’s time to actually create your ads. To help make ad copywriting even easier for you, I’ve created something new for you:

My ad copywriting templates inside the Copy Bar.

Reading Time: 9 Minutes Reading time: 10 min. In 2021, we wrote 185 social media ads inside my agency. I even spent a chunk of change on social ads myself.  If you’re new to the worth of social media ads, though, you might be wondering: Are they worth it for you? I know that investing in ads can be […]


comments +

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Get a front-row seat to sales copy tips & hacks I’m applying to write first-rate/top-shelf funnels for clients, what’s on my desk (and in my earbuds), and what lessons I’ve learned … sometimes the hard way. Hope you’re ok that I’m a little more personal here than I am in social media land. 😜

These emails are read—and swipe filed—by people you probably follow in the creative industry … and you can get ‘em, too.


I spill the tea business secrets going on over here
weekly to my private email list:

%d bloggers like this: