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How to Run Facebook Ads for Lead Generation — The Complete Guide (Plus, 12 Tips for Sales Funnel Automation)

Alex Ryan

There are plenty of people out there who want to buy what you’re selling — you just have to know where and how to reach them. 

Chances are they’re on the most popular social media platform to date: Facebook. And if you want a snowball’s chance in hell of capturing those leads and converting them into clients, your business should be on Facebook, too. 

But simply existing on social media isn’t enough. Everybody and their dog has a Facebook account nowadays. To make sure leads can find your needle in the social media haystack, you’ll need to use the power of advertising.

But don’t worry — Smith.ai’s Paid Acquisition Manager, Alex Ryan, is here to help. Having spent nearly a decade in paid media and a majority of her career in digital marketing agencies, Alex is a certifiable expert in her field. She specializes in demand generation and lead generation, with a heavy focus on paid social media ads across various platforms. 

Alex contributed her expertise to developing this in-depth guide to walk you through how to use the combined power of outsourced sales teams, like Smith.ai’s, and automation software, like Zapier, to more effectively engage Facebook leads. 

The complete guide — an outline

Our comprehensive guide will break down everything you need to know about running Facebook ads for lead generation, including:

1. Comparing Facebook lead gen ads vs. LinkedIn conversation ads

  • Targeting options
  • Reporting capabilities
  • Speed to success
  • Cost effectiveness

2. Creating Facebook lead gen ads

  • Creating a Facebook ad account
  • Creating your first Facebook Ad
  • Creating a lookalike audience
  • Setting up Facebook lead gen forms
  • Understanding the elements of Facebook lead generation forms

3. Engaging leads through sales outsourcing & automation

  • Signing up for a Zapier account
  • Connecting your apps to Zapier
  • (EASY) Create a Zap to Connect Facebook with Smith.ai
  • Setting up the Zap trigger 
  • Setting up the Zap action
  • (ADVANCED) Creating a Zap to connect Facebook with Smith.ai, Salesforce, and Slack

Comparing Facebook lead gen ads vs. LinkedIn conversation ads

When most people think of B2B advertising, their minds tend to go immediately to LinkedIn. We get it, this is exactly what we did as well. However, after spending a significant amount of both time and money testing on both platforms, Facebook emerged as the clear winner. 

Here is a breakdown of everything that we learned: 

Targeting options 

Winner: LinkedIn

  • For B2B targeting specifically, LinkedIn will always surpass Facebook in terms of targeting options, as they offer many more categories for business-based targeting. This includes job title, industry, company size, years of experience, company revenue, company growth rate, and much more. 

Reporting capabilities 

Winner: Facebook

  • Facebook has invested millions of dollars into its advertising suite capabilities, and it shows. The level of data granularity that you can access from Facebook far outshines LinkedIn. More data points = more opportunities for strategic optimization. 
  • Example: we noticed that cost per lead went substantially down outside of working hours. As a response, we launched a “day parting” campaign and saw CPL drop by $30. 

Speed to success 

Winner: Facebook

  • LinkedIn conversation ads can be effective, but they’re never going to give you instant gratification. In our experience, it can take anywhere from days to weeks to start seeing real results from LinkedIn Conversation Ads, due to the fact that not everyone checks their LinkedIn mail consistently. On the other hand, you can start seeing results from Facebook hours after launching a campaign. 

Cost-effectiveness

Winner: Facebook

  • The CPM (cost per thousand impressions) on Facebook is substantially lower than LinkedIn, making it considerably cheaper to reach a higher number of people. Having a wider net at a lower cost helps with brand awareness and conversion rate. 

Still not convinced? Check out the results from a ten-month test that we ran:

Spend
$211,120
$112,215
Leads
4,861
812
Cost Per Lead
$43.43
$138.20
CPM (Cost Per 1,000 Impressions)
$73.97
$482.37
CVR (Click → Lead)
8.87%
0.60%

In the end, we found Facebook to be cheaper, faster, and easier to use. Plus, you can easily achieve the same level of B2B targeting quality as you can on LinkedIn by utilizing high-quality and strategic lookalike audiences (which we’ll explain later). All in all, Facebook is the most ideal advertising platform for any business looking to get the most bang for their buck.

Creating Facebook lead gen ads

Creating a Facebook (now Meta) ad account

Before you can create your Facebook ads, you need to create a Facebook (now Meta) ad account, a simple process that only takes a few minutes. Here is an excellent resource on setting up your first ad account

Creating your first Facebook ad

Take your first step towards advertising your business to the approximately 1.93 billion people who use Facebook and Instagram each day. 

It can be overwhelming trying to figure out where to start, so if you’re looking to learn a bit more about Facebook ads before sending any out, feel free to check out our beginner’s guide to generating new leads and Sales with Facebook & Instagram ads.

If the only thing stumping you is pinpointing what kind of ads you want to create, we’ve included some of our favorite Smith.ai Facebook ads for inspiration:

Single image ads: 

Smith.ai Facebook ad examples

⭐ Pro tip

  • When using single image ads, we always take advantage of the dynamic ads option. This is where you give Facebook up to ten images and up to five texts, headlines, and descriptions. This enables Facebook to create hundreds of combinations from essentially one ad, as well as to show the best performing combination based on what the platform knows about a user.

Carousel ads:

Smith.ai favorite carousel Facebook ads
Smith.ai favorite carousel Facebook ads

Here are some other helpful tips to keep in mind when creating Facebook Ads:

Facebook ad tips and tricks
  • Tip #1: Identify your target audience — Defining your target audience enables your ads to reach the people most likely to make a purchase with your business. With Facebook’s convenient Audience Manager tool, you can specify who you’d like your ads to reach by choosing either Saved Audiences, Custom Audiences, or Lookalike Audiences (which we’ll discuss next).
  • Tip #2: Maximize reach by A/B testing — Want your ads to be seen by as many potential prospects as possible? Test your ads. A/B testing is particularly useful because it compares different versions of your ad to show you what works and what doesn’t. You can use these insights to adjust your campaign strategy and get as many eyes on your ad as possible.
  • Tip #3: Keep it conversational — As Facebook is first and foremost a platform for social networking, nothing increases ad reach like engagement. Focus on creating ads that spark conversation and inspire people to comment, share, save, like, and react.
  • Tip #4: Get straight to the point — They say that a good billboard should have no more than seven words to account for the fact that a person will only have a few seconds to take in the message while driving past it. This same principle applies to Facebook ads as well. Remember that people are constantly scrolling through their Facebook or Instagram feed, so your ad needs to be straightforward and compelling enough to make them stop and want to read more. 

Creating a lookalike audience

When it comes to targeting, especially B2B targeting, LinkedIn is far superior to Facebook. However, by utilizing strategic lookalike audiences, you can achieve the same level of effectiveness on Facebook. 

For those who are unfamiliar with lookalike audiences, they are a very powerful tool. While Facebook has removed a lot of baseline targeting options that previously existed, the customer data is all still fully intact, which you can access through lookalike audiences. 

To create a lookalike audience, you have to start with a seed audience from 1st party data (data that your business owns). 

When Facebook attempts to build a lookalike audience, it simply takes the seed audience you upload, analyzes it, and finds similarities between the customers on the list. The more commonalities that the seed audience has, the greater the success Facebook will have in finding new, similar audiences. 

📍 Smith.ai Example

  • At Smith.ai, our target audience is business owners and decision-makers (such as CEOs, EVPs, etc.). When we first started advertising on Facebook, we attempted to use the job title targeting within the platform, which was unsuccessful. We compiled a list of our strongest leads using their job title as the main commonality and used this as our seed audience. Now, we’re seeing a marketing-qualified lead (MQL) rate of 91%.

Pro Tip

  • The most important thing to keep in mind is never to stop testing — keep your lookalike audiences updated and continue to test different seed audiences.

Setting up Facebook lead gen forms

Facebook makes generating qualified leads easy for businesses. By simply clicking on your ad, leads can send your business a pre-populated form with their Facebook contact information. The leads get the information they're looking for, and you generate a qualified lead for your business — it’s a win-win.

How To Create a Facebook Lead Gen Form

Setting up Facebook lead generation forms is as easy as four simple steps:

  1. Go to your Facebook page
  2. Select Publishing Tools > Forms Library > +Create > New Form to make a form
  3. Click Next

Understanding elements of Facebook lead generation forms

From there, there are several elements of your lead generation form that you can customize to maximize your form’s impact and drive more ideal results:

Form Type 

The form types section allows you to customize your form with the user’s experience in mind. Facebook gives you two options: “more volume” and “higher intent.”

  • “More volume” means that someone only has to hit submit once
  • “Higher intent” means that someone has to review their info as an additional step before submitting

⭐ Pro Tip

  • We feel that “more volume” creates a better user experience, as it contains fewer barriers for the user to push through to send their form your way. “Higher intent” may prove too time-consuming for some leads to bother with; however, it does assure you that the leads filling out your form are serious about their inquiry.
Facebook ad form type screenshot


Intro

The intro section allows you to let people know why they should complete your form and gives you the real estate to include any relevant details they may need to know right up-front. 

How To 

To add an introduction section to your Instant Form, click Intro.

📍 Smith.ai Example

  • We like to keep this section short and sweet to not overwhelm the user. 

⭐ Pro Tip

  • You are also given the option to include an image, which we highly recommend you do. If you do not choose to insert an image here, the one from your ad will be automatically used. 
Facebook ad intro section screenshot

Custom Questions

This section is extremely customizable based on the information that is most important to your business. Facebook gives you the option to select several frequently used fields, such as name, email, phone, etc., and the ability to create custom questions using multiple-choice, short answer, or conditional responses. A great perk of Facebook forms is that the platform will automatically fill in anything that is known based on a user’s profile, creating a much more seamless experience for the user.

📍 Smith.ai Example

  • At Smith.ai, we use different fields based on the type of campaign that we’re running. For example:
  • If we’re running a higher-funnel content campaign — such as downloading an eBook or watching an on-demand webinar — we only ask for basic information such as name, email, and phone number 
  • If we’re running campaigns that are designed to be “higher quality” — such as encouraging a user to book an appointment or demo — we ask a few more questions including job title, company name, industry, and website
Facebook lead custom questions

⭐ Pro Tips

  • Although Facebook lets you add up to 15 questions to your form, we don’t recommend it. Adding too many questions could turn away potential leads.
  • Make sure to always ask for a phone number. Getting a phone number is a MUST for lead follow-up success.

*Note: Your Facebook lead generation ad needs to capture the lead’s phone number for the Zapier workflow (described below) to work.

📚 Related Reading 

Form Completion

This section is Facebook’s version of a “thank you” landing page after someone has submitted a form. The completion section is where we do most of our testing, both in terms of language and destination. 

You can include a headline, description, call-to-action button, and link

*Note: Headline and call-to-action text boxes can only include up to 60 characters.

The way you use the completion page will change based on the type of campaign you’re running. Here are some real-life examples:

Example #1: If someone has provided their information in exchange for a resource, such as an eBook, this is the spot to provide a link to download or view that resource. 

Example #2: In cases where someone has provided their information to “learn more,” for example, this is where to encourage them to book an appointment directly.

Facebook ad completion pagescreenshot

How To

Click Form Preview > Publish to complete your form.

📍 Smith.ai Example

  • Our forms were originally set up so that the “thank you” page language gave the user the option to book an appointment with our team on the spot, but also assured them that we would follow up if they chose not to. Given that booking appointments are a large objective for us, we changed the language to read “Get $100 off your first month of service when you book a free consultation with our team.” Month over month, our booking % rose from 21% to 33%.

⭐ Pro Tip

  • Remember that your forms are a key part of your campaign, and this means that they will require testing and optimization. Test every element from the number of fields that you have to the language and call to action (CTA) on the “thank you” page. 

📚 Related Reading

Engage leads through sales outsourcing & automation

So you’ve created a Facebook account, started running ads, and are finally starting to see the leads coming in. That’s great! The hard part’s over, right? Wrong.

Now you have to bridge the gap between you and your potential customers by engaging with them directly and encouraging them to make a purchase, which is arguably the most difficult part. This is where most businesses fail to achieve positive ROI from their ads! What happens after the lead comes in matters just as much as getting the lead in the first place.

You have two options:

Option #1: DIY

You could engage and nurture leads yourself, however, this requires you to be ready at a moment’s notice to capture them whenever they come in, day or night. And if sales and marketing isn’t your expertise, you might not be able to engage leads as effectively as you’d like.

Option #2: Hire a dedicated sales team

You could carve out room in your budget to hire an expensive dedicated sales team to engage leads for you, but beware of their limitations. Can they capture leads 24/7? Can they book appointments directly on your calendar or send custom follow-up messages? Can they qualify leads on the spot?

These options don’t exactly put your business in a good position to consistently and effectively engage leads. Among other downsides, these options tend to be financially and mentally demanding, time-consuming, and inflexible. So if neither of these options sound all that appealing to you, you’re in luck. 

There is a secret third option that can simplify and optimize your lead process. What’s more, this option allows you to remain well within budget and as hands-off as you’d like. 

Drum roll, please…

Expert Option #3: Use automation & outsourcing

Let automation software and sales outsourcing do most of the hard work for you. You’ll have everything you need, from sales experts to leading tech, to capture and engage leads the right way, all for a fraction of the cost.

Let’s break down how exactly this works. Zapier’s automation software and Smith.ai’s outsourced sales teams basically work in tandem to give your sales process the best support possible. Zapier automatically sends your Facebook leads to Smith.ai, who can then thoroughly engage, qualify, and nurture your leads. And with results-driven automation software and outsourced sales teams doing a majority of the heavy lifting in your sales process, your business can:

Interested in setting a workflow to automatically engage with your Facebook ad leads? Simple: Just follow these easy steps:

  1. Sign up for a Zapier Account
  2. Connect your apps to Zapier
  3. (EASY) Create a Zap to connect Facebook with Smith.ai 
  4. Set up the Zap trigger
  5. Set up the Zap action
  6. (ADVANCED) Optionally, create additional Zap actions to also connect Facebook with Salesforce (or your CRM), Calendly, and Slack 

1. Signing up for a Zapier account

Zapier is widely considered to be the absolute best automation software in the business hands-down, so if you want to start automatically capturing leads that trickle in from your Facebook ads, you’ll need to sign up for a Zapier account. You can sign up for one here. If you already have one, feel free to move on to the next step. 

*Note: You can create a single-step Zap between some apps and Smith.ai on a free account. However, Facebook Lead Ads is a premium app and requires a paid Zapier account

2. Connecting your apps to Zapier

Once you’ve set up your Zapier account, you’ll want to connect it to your Facebook Leads Ads, CRM, and Smith.ai accounts. You can also connect your Zapier account to your Slack account, but this is optional.

How To

1. Navigate to your Zapier Dashboard.

*Note: If you’re not logged in, you will be prompted to do so. 

2. In the Zapier Dashboard, click on My Apps.

3. Click Add Connection.

4. Search for Facebook Lead Ad.


5. Add additional connections for Smith.ai, Slack (optional), Calendly, and your CRM (in this guide, we’re using Salesforce) using the same steps above.

*Note: You may have multiple API Keys for Smith.ai and will need to use different ones for Virtual Receptionist calls, Outreach Campaign calls, and Chat integration.

📚 Related Reading: 

3. (EASY) Creating a Zap to connect Facebook with Smith.ai

Now that you’ve added your apps to Zapier, it’s time to build the connections between the different apps. We’ll start by building a Zap. 

A little background information on Zaps: A Zap is what gets the ball rolling after a certain event has happened. These events are known as a trigger. Once a Zap senses a trigger event has occurred, it’ll go through the steps you’ve told it to go through, whatever that may be. Those steps are known as an action. 

For instance, in the example we’re using, the Zap would look like this:

Trigger: A new Facebook lead comes in

   ↓

Action: Initiate an outreach campaign call from Smith.ai

This series of events will occur each time a new Facebook lead comes in.

How To

To connect Facebook lead ads and Smith.ai’s Outreach Campaigns, use this template:

4. Setting up the Zap trigger 

Once you’ve created a Zap, you can move on to creating your Zap trigger.
How To

1. Choose your Facebook Lead Ads account and click continue. 

Choose your Facebook Lead Ads account

2. Set up the Zap trigger by selecting the page and form. Since this is the simple solution, leave it as “Default (Any Form)” and press Continue. Test your trigger. It should display recent leads. 

Note: Remember, the form MUST have the following fields: name, phone number, and email (optional).

Set up your Facebook Lead Ads Zap trigger

3. Test your trigger. It should display recent leads.

Test your trigger

5. Setting up the Zap action

Once you have the trigger in place, you’ll want to set up the Zap action. 

How To

1. The template has already chosen Smith.ai and the Call Someone (Outreach Campaign Only) action event, so verify and press Continue

Setting up the Zap action

2. Choose the Smith.ai account that you connected to earlier and press Continue.

Choose your Smith.ai account

3. Connect your Smith.ai fields to the fields on your Facebook lead ad.

Connect your Smith.ai fields to the fields on your Facebook lead ad


You can find your Campaign ID by going to https://app.smith.ai/vr/campaigns/, selecting the correct campaign, then copying it from the URL.

4. Name Your Zap

Name your Za


Pro Tip: Zapier will let you save your Zap without renaming it, causing you to have lots of Zaps named “Name your zap.” Name your Zap something unique and informational so you can find it easily.

5. Turn your Zap on! 

6. (ADVANCED) Creating a Zap to connect Facebook with Smith.ai, Salesforce, and Slack

You could break your Zapier connections into separate Zaps, but we prefer to have one large Zap that connects everything

To give you an idea of what this looks like, here are the steps a Zap that connects everything should have: 

  1. Trigger: New lead in Facebook lead ads
  2. Action: Check to ensure the lead is not in Salesforce (or your CRM). 
  3. Filter: Only continue if the lead is not in Salesforce (or your CRM). 
  4. Action: Find or create Salesforce Lead in Salesforce using the Facebook ad Info
  5. Action: Find the previously created Salesforce record
  6. Action: Initiate an outbound call from Smith.ai
  7. Action: Send a message in Slack

Optimize more than just your sales with Smith.ai

Of course, you can leverage outsourcing and automation to simplify and optimize your sales process, but why stop there when you can optimize many other aspects of your business from top to bottom? 

On top of making outbound sales calls on your behalf and providing support for your outreach campaigns, Smith.ai’s virtual receptionists can answer calls, pre-screen potential clients, schedule appointments, take payments, complete intake forms, deliver essential performance insights, and so much more.

Plus, with Smith.ai’s Zapier integration, you can automate just about anything, from business communications, like texts, emails, and chats, to marketing operations, like social media campaigns, client data collection, and customer feedback surveys.

Let Smith.ai’s comprehensive support do the work for you, so you can not only run more efficient outreach campaigns but a more efficient business. Get started today risk-free with our 14-day money-back guarantee or book a 30-minute consultation to explore options that best suit your business needs.

Alex Ryan

Alex Ryan is Smith.ai's Paid Acquisition Manager. Alex has been working in paid media for the past eight years and specializes in lead and demand generation.

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