Are Facebook Lead Ads REALLY All That?

Are Facebook Lead Ads REALLY All That? September 28, 2017

I teach local business owners and creative entrepreneurs how to build and launch profitable online marketing campaigns.

For the last year and a bit, eeeeeeeverybody’s been talking about Facebook Lead Ads. The agencies I’ve worked with have been boasting about this new type of advertisement to all their clients. Articles across the web are talking up their experiences of getting conversions as low as $2/lead.

But are Facebook Lead Ads really all they’re made out to be? Should you be trying this out for your business, or to grow your subscriber list? I have mixed feelings on the matter. On one hand, I think they can be valuable when used strategically. On the other hand, I think it can be kind of expensive for leads that aren’t the greatest quality.

What the Hell are Facebook Lead Ads??

Haven’t hopped on the bandwagon yet? No worries, that’s why you got me! A Lead Ad looks like a regular old Facebook Ad. It can be a video, a single image, a carousel, whatever. The difference is, instead of being taken to your website the user is presented with a form to fill out for more details.

It usually includes a “Welcome Screen” that acts as kind of a sales pitch, with a call to action that says SUBSCRIBE or FIND OUT MORE or whatever you want. The user then enters their info and voila! You have a lead!

The benefits of Lead Ads are a) you don’t need to spend time building a landing page and b) the user doesn’t need to leave Facebook and c) it’s already optimized for mobile.

Sounds awesome, right? Well… maybe.

They’re Not as Cheap as You Think

I’ve read articles boasting of leads coming in at $2 a pop. I’ve just never seen that happen. Then again, these are probably American authors. I’m Canadian, and the loonie is worth significantly less than the American dollar. It could be that the Canadian prices are inflated.

I’ve also never had the opportunity to work with a client offering a decent Lead Magnet (more on that in my next article). I can voice my recommendations til I’m blue in the face, but often times clients are just looking to GET LEADS FAST and aren’t willing to put time and thought into what they might offer someone in exchange for their contact information. This immediately puts a Lead Ad at a disadvantage.

As such, the Lead Ads I’ve run have actually been rather pricey. The BEST I’ve seen was about $8/lead. For other accounts, I’ve seen as much as $13, $23 and even as high as $50! Yikes!

This is anecdotal evidence of course, but my experiences over the last year have got me feeling like Lead Ads don’t produce very high quality leads, which means lower closing rates, which in turn means a much higher cost per acquisition.

Here are my experiences with the leads acquired from Facebook Lead Ads:

They Have a Low Engagement Rate (or They Don’t Subscribe at All)

First, let’s talk about opt-ins. I think Spam Laws (yes Spam Laws are real!) in Canada, Australia and Europe now REQUIRE a Double Opt-In at all times (don’t quote me on that) so you might want to check into the laws in your country.

Not sure what opt-in means? Here’s a rundown before we continue:

SINGLE OPT-IN: The user enters their email address or checks a box once and they are subscribed! They’ll now begin to receive your emails!

DOUBLE OPT-IN: The user enters their email, but they’re not added to the list right away. First, they’ll receiving a confirmation email with a link. The user has to click that link to confirm that they do indeed want to receive communications.

Ok, let’s continue.

If you’re using Lead Ads to build up your email list, you’ll need to use a tool like Zapier (which costs money, btw) to instantly and automatically import these leads into your MailChimp list.

When setting up your automation in Zapier (your ‘Zap’) you have the option of requiring a Double Opt-In when someone fills out your Facebook Lead Form.

So here’s my experience. When requiring a Double Opt-In (which is considered best practice, as it produces a more engaged, higher quality subscriber) I’ve found that half of my Facebook Leads don’t click the confirmation link to opt-in. Which means I’ve just PAID Facebook for a lead that didn’t end up on my list. Which means the leads I did keep actually cost me double! Shiiiiit!


When going with the Single Opt-In (user filled out form on FB, Zapier automatically uploaded that user to my MailChimp list, no questions asked), I’ve noticed that a ton of those users just unsubscribe or don’t engage.

Here are some exact numbers from one particular campaign I ran for my family’s dance studio, 2 months in:

  • 148 Facebook Leads
  • A handful hard-bounced and were removed from the mailing list
  • 18 have unsubscribed
  • 76 have a 2-star contact rating (meaning zero engagement, they are dormant, do not open emails)
  • 17 have a 3-star contact rating (low engagement, have opened only 1 or 2 emails)
  • 29 have a 4 or 5-star rating (moderate to high engagement)
  • 5 became customers

On average, I paid about $9 per lead. That’s $1,332 spent on Facebook Lead Ads, which in the end got me 29 engaged subscribers (that works out to $46 per engaged lead), which got me 5 new customers.

Was it worth it?? Well, yeah. I broke even in the end. Made my money back. But considering the cost of running a dance studio, unless those customers return next year, it wasn’t really profitable.

Would I do it again? Yes, I think I would! BUT before I do, I need to sit down and work out a better Lead Magnet strategy.

They’re Not Interested in Buying

I’ve been working with Facebook Lead Ads for a campaign related to real estate. The ads have been doing REALLY WELL. The cost per lead is a bit high at around $14, but considering it’s real estate I think that’s a fair price. The lead conversion rate has been high and the leads have just been pouring in. SO EXCITING!

In this case, the leads are not automatically linked to an email marketing list. Rather, I’ve got Zapier configured so that each lead is immediately emailed to my client’s sales representative. The rep can then get in touch with the lead and begin the sales process.

With leads coming in left right and centre, I reached out to my account manager and told her I thought we should reallocate some of the budget from other ad types into the Lead Ads. I suggested she reach out to the client to get their feedback on the quality of leads coming through.

What did the client say? He was on the fence, to be honest. He said he was excited to be receiving all of the inquiries, but most of the leads were going cold after his first contact with them. It seemed that they were mildly curious, but as soon as it came time to talk pricing they would disappear.

Is this campaign worth it?? Hmmmmm…. Probably. If the client can acquire even one customer, I’m sure his advertising costs will be covered. I don’t know his production costs so I can’t say whether the campaign will be profitable. But this story definitely reinforced my opinion that these Facebook leads aren’t the most qualified.

They Don’t Even Remember Filling Out the Damn Form

Full Disclosure: This is an anecdote coming from another Digital Marketing Strategist working at another agency. I have not had this experience myself.

His story was that he ran Facebook Lead Ads for a client and, like my story above, the leads were sent directly to that client’s sales manager. The sales manager would then reach out to the lead. You know what the manager said?? That a bunch of these leads claimed they never filled out any such form!

Whaaat!? Why would that happen?

My educated guess is that the lead form was very short and the user thought that clicking the Call to Action button would take them to a website.

Facebook obviously wants to make this lead form thing as easy as possible for the user to increase the chances of a successful form submission. This means that, wherever possible, the information fields on the form (First Name, Last Name, Email, etc) is pre-filled using info from the user’s Facebook profile.

And remember, these Lead Ads are new and people are lazy. It’s likely these users were just skimming the content in front of them, saw the big LEARN MORE button (or whatever it said) and were interested enough to click it. Perhaps they didn’t realize all of their personal information was on the page and that clicking meant having that info sent to the company. And maybe they ended up confused when that click didn’t take them to a website and they just closed the window. If they never received a confirmation email, they likely forgot all about the form!

Needless to say, of course they’d be thinking WTF? when some sales dude rings them up a day later.

Does This Mean I Think You Shouldn’t Use Facebook Lead Ads?

Nah. I definitely still have faith that they can be valuable. But with any other kind of ad, you just gotta do it right!

The point of this article is not to make you think that Lead Ads suck and shouldn’t be used. I just want to make sure you’re aware that they aren’t magic and that they do require some thinking.

How Do We Make Lead Ads Better?

Well, this article is already long as f*ck (1600 words?! Damn!) so I cover that in my next post, How to Make Your Lead Ads Better! CHECK IT OUT, MARKETERS!

I teach local business owners and creative entrepreneurs how to build and launch profitable online marketing campaigns.