Part art, part science, part math, when it comes to using Facebook ads to build an email list, we have the formula and tools you need to maximize your success.

What is Covered in this Guide:

Marketing is part art, part science, and a (surprisingly) significant amount of math. Efficiently increasing the size of your email list is one of those puzzles you need to unlock to grow your business and drive profitable revenue. In order to be successful, you need all three of those seemingly contradictory disciplines.

As an ecommerce company, your email program should contribute 20-30% of your revenue, and scaling your list is a reliable way to bring in more sales. Sending an email drives purchases; the larger your list, the more you can segment, and the more efficiently you can convert. Half of your audience buys from marketing emails at least once per month. In mathematical terms: a bigger email list equals more cash in the bank.

Now here comes the art and science part: you can leverage a reach medium like Facebook to put your brand and message in front of relevant audiences to capture their email address. This requires a combination of theorizing about demographics, messaging, and motivations, and then presenting an eye-catching piece of creative.

The Facebook Lead Ads format launched in 2015 and revolutionized the conversion game for lead gen-focused marketers. As a participant in their beta test of the ad format, I can personally say I have been sold from the beginning on how efficiently and effectively this ad format helps you capture lead information. And you know what’s included in that lead information? Email addresses.

Enter the advent of email flows and automations. Now, you have the ability to generate email addresses at scale with a minimal upfront buildout of Lead Ads, an appealing offer, and an email marketing platform. We’ve leveraged this formula with our clients and have seen sub $1/email acquisition costs.

Paid media involves a lot of moving pieces, and deploying this strategy is no different. However, that can be to your advantage. After all, who wants to go to all this trouble?! Savvy marketers who understand the value of their email list and the oversized impact of a robust email marketing program, that’s who. School is now in session, so let’s learn how to use Lead Ads to capture email addresses.

How to Combine Facebook Ads with an Email Nurture Campaign

1. Identify your audience

Yes, we want to expand our email list, but there’s growth and there’s good growth. Start by identifying the customer segment you want to target and understanding what would motivate them to hand over their email address. For purposes of our Lead Ad campaign for email capture, Facebook audiences fall into three primary categories: prospecting, retargeting, and look-alike.

In prospecting, you pick from all the demographic and profiling information available to craft the profile of the person you want to add to your email list. For retargeting, as long as you’re excluding potential targets where you already have an email address on file, capturing the contact info of someone who is already familiar with your brand is a no-brainer. With a look-alike audience, you can use your own data (ex. a list of past purchasers) to target people similar to those you know are good customers.

2. Create a lead magnet or offer

Since we’ll be asking for something of value—the user’s email address—we want to provide something of perceived equal or greater value. This can be a discount or another offer (ex. free shipping or unlocking a free gift with purchase). It can also be information, typically packaged as a PDF Guide, that is referred to as a “lead magnet.” You can also provide access to content, especially video content, that is otherwise restricted, creating a feeling of exclusivity. All of these items are created once and then used over and over, making this a one-time uplift.

3. Create a Facebook ad campaign

For capturing email addresses, we recommend using the Facebook Lead Ads format that will display ads on Facebook and Instagram. The Lead Ad is a very “low friction” conversion mechanism which makes it an effective and low cost way to capture email addresses. LinkedIn also has a similar ad format, if your audience is on that platform.

Unlike other display ad formats, where you have to leave what you were doing and go to a separate website, the lead ad shows you the form directly on Facebook in a pop up window. The platform will even go so far as to fill out information in fields where you’ve already provided it – like your First/Last name and email address that you gave when you set up your account – so there’s minimal if any typing involved.

Ready to build your campaign? Go here.

4. Fulfill your offer directly and/or via email

Once the form has been completed, it’s time to deliver on what you promised. There are a couple ways to facilitate delivery but, really, this is where automation is your friend. After clicking “submit,” the user is shown a success screen and provided with a link. You can include your discount code in the message or direct them to where they can download the guide or access the restricted content. While this gets the job done, it’s not always the best user experience. Wouldn’t it be nice to have that content or information handy in an email so the prospect can reference it later?

If you’re integrating directly to an email platform, you can use the Lead Ad form fill as a trigger to kick off a flow that would deliver an email to your new contact. Another automation platform we utilize is Zapier (which rhymes with “happier” for a reason) to complete a series of post form submission steps, including sending an internal email about a new lead, sending the offer information, adding the lead to your CRM, etc. 

5. Set up an email nurture sequence

Collecting the email address is just step one. Our ultimate objective is to convert this new contact into a paying customer. We’ll be using another one-time uplift tactic here to educate and move this user through the funnel to purchase – the email nurture sequence.

This is a series of emails, delivered over a period of time, that provides informational and practical information about why your product is the right one to solve the user’s problem and how easy it is to purchase and experience a life without that problem. If you’re not sure how to construct your email sequence, Storybrand provides a great framework.

You can combine your “offer delivery” with subsequent emails in one flow. If you have an existing welcome series, insert it after the email that delivers the lead magnet.

Build Your Campaign in Facebook

There are plenty of guides on building lead ads, so we won’t go into a ton of technical details here. You can even go straight to the source and read Facebook’s Lead Ad documentation. We’ll just walk through the key decisions you need to make in order to have everything organized for a smooth launch.

How to Get Started with Lead Ads

  1. Choose your campaign objectives
  2. Build your audience (screenshot below)
  3. Structure your campaign and ad groups
  4. Determine your budget
  5. Design your ad creative
  6. Build your form
  7. Integrate with your platform
  8. Track and report on performance

How to Make Your Lead Ad Stand Out

Clear Value Proposition

  • Get to the point – Your aim is to stop the scroll. What is the shortest, most engaging, most likely way you can leverage your product to interrupt a user on a social platform and grab their attention? 
  • Connect to (or introduce) your brand – Be aware of how much a user may or may not know about your brand. You should be using a different approach for prospecting – reaching new audiences – than for retargeting – continuing the conversation with people already familiar with your brand.
  • Differentiate from your competitors – Check out what competitors are doing using this tool from Facebook, and then make sure your ads stand out and clearly communicate why you’re different.1. Captivating Creative

Concise and Easy to Understand Messaging

  • Problem + solution – It’s Sales 101 to identify a problem someone has and offer the solution they need. Ads on Facebook are no different. Clearly state that if the user suffers with/struggles with/wants to upgrade/isn’t impressing their BF/GF/spouse/etc. that this product will quickly and dramatically improve their life. 
  • Checklist – A variation on the problem + solution approach with a modern twist, incorporate emoji into your copy with a literal checklist to deliver a list of reasons why your product is the right choice. (See screenshot below.)
  • Lead with a question – A tried and tested way to draw someone into your message is to ask a leading question which will elicit the answer you want. Why are you still….? When did you last…? Are you experiencing…?
  • Beware truncation – While you can include more than 125 characters in your ad copy, most users won’t expand your message, so keep all the essential information within that limit.

Integrating Facebook Lead Ads with Your (Email) Software

While we definitely want a “source of truth” for data, everyone’s source of truth platform for their organization may be different. That’s why it’s very helpful to map out the flow of your data and understand where it needs to go next after a form is submitted on Facebook. There are Lead Ad integrations into many platforms (see this list from Facebook) so it’s easier than ever to connect form submissions to the next step in the process. You can then trigger an email automation or whatever next step makes sense in your process. 

Let’s look at an example of sending lead data to Klaviyo and triggering a flow:

  1. Create a list (not a segment) for your new leads. Give this a name that connects clearly to the ad and audience.
  2. Set up the form integration in Klaviyo. Navigate to the All Integrations tab and find Facebook Advertising on the list of available integrations. If this is the first time you’re connecting to Facebook, you’ll have to authenticate the account. Select your form from Facebook and pair it with the list created in step 1.
  3. Build a flow with the trigger “Added to List” and select the list you created in step 1.
  4. Add in the email template you’ve created to deliver the lead magnet you promised the user in your Facebook ad.
    *** Continue the steps if you’re going to send additional emails to this audience ***
  5. Add a delay before sending your next email communication.
  6. Add the first email in your Welcome series.
  7. Add a delay and repeat until you’ve sent all the emails in the Welcome series.
  8. Check its quality and then publish your email flow.
  9. Watch results in Klaviyo and Google Analytics to ensure that the flow is delivering and data is being tracked in the respective platforms.

The process for doing this in other platforms is very similar. In MailChimp, you can trigger a flow from a list or from a tag on the email record. You could also leverage a third-party integration like Zapier to connect to any platform that doesn’t have a direct Facebook integration.

Tracking & Reporting with Facebook

For tracking your funnel and performance for this type of campaign, you’ll be reviewing data across a couple of different sources. It starts on Facebook. Since this is a Lead Ad, the conversion is taking place on the platform. You’ll be able to view your impressions, engagement metrics, conversions, and CPA data in Business Manager. Structure your ad groups by audience to make it easier to digest the aggregated data and understand how each different group is performing. Be sure to include 3 to 5 creative options in each ad group to give Facebook the opportunity to optimize for performance. One of my favorite Facebook KPIs, that I feel doesn’t get enough love, is Frequency. This is a great way to judge if your ad has been seen enough times to drive a result or has been seen too many times and is becoming annoying or invisible to the user. A frequency of 2 to 4 is generally the sweet spot.

Once your conversion has happened, you’ll want to move over to your email platform to continue watching performance. Short term: how is your flow performing? Keeping an eye on open and click rates, as well as revenue (or other key conversion data) will be an important feedback loop on whether or not you’ve correctly identified your audiences in Facebook. Long term: what is your LTV for these leads? Having a list (or tag) set up that allows you to isolate this population of leads will make future analysis easier. For paid social, it’s been my experience that the real value is in the long term addition of these inexpensively acquired leads to your overall customer mix. Utilizing this tactic, it’s important to be committed to a 6-12 month program and a longer look back window.

A/B Testing Facebook Lead Ad

Think back to high school science and what you learned about the scientific method because it applies here, too.

  • Pick a variable to test – Compare different images, different color themes, alternate ad copy options, but only test one variable at a time so you don’t muddy the results. 
  • Choose the KPI you want to measure – This could be CTR or CPL, but having a clear understanding of the result you want to drive will make declaring a winning ad easier. 
  • Collect enough data to make a decision – Don’t make judgements on a small sample size!
  • Gather the winners – Put your best performing ads in their own ad group and let the Facebook algorithm continue to optimize them.

Other Free(ish) Ways to Grow Your Email List

Once you’ve created your lead magnet, why not leverage it to convert organic traffic as well? Setting up a pop-up on your site to offer the lead magnet in exchange for an email address is a tried and tested way to capture email addresses. You can test this against other monetary offers as well – free shipping or 10% off your first order – to do the cost-benefit analysis of conversion rate vs. lead acquisition costs. Plus, if you’re using Klaviyo as your email marketing platform, they have a direct integration with the pop-up form and your email list/flow triggers to further simplify the path from collection to fulfillment of the offer (and built in A/B testing capabilities).

Closing Thoughts

The power of email marketing is in its reach; one message can be sent to millions of people with the click of a button. However, with great power comes great responsibility as marketers. We have the tools at our disposal to put the right message in front of the right person at the right time by leveraging targeting, segmentation, and automation. Let’s make marketing a delightful experience for our customers, one that feels as authentic as a one-to-one conversation. If you’re looking for a partner to strategically grow your email marketing program, we’d love to hear more about your goals.

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René Fielder COO, President of Agency Services

With over 20 years in marketing and design, she is equally comfortable in Excel and Photoshop. This unique combination of artistic and analytical skills has served her well in directing strategy and solving complex problems for clients across a variety of industries.

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