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Are Facebook Ads Worth It? I Tried It and Here’s What Happened

This post is part of our new Real Life Diaries of an Entrepreneur series. Copywriter Jess Jordana Paxson of Jess, XO pulls back the curtain on the ins and out of scaling her business. Since starting in 2018, she’s quadrupled her monthly income by continuously trying new things. Follow along to learn what worked, what didn’t, and what she’s trying next.

In case you missed the rest of the series:

1 | What Nobody Tells You About Launching a Digital Product

2 | Running Facebook Ads: Why I Decided It Was Time to Start

Image by Sarah Lotus Photo

Alright, I know this series is called the Real Life Diaries, so it’s time for a total diary confession.

Remember how I started running Facebook ads last month?

The first time someone told me they saw my ad, I kinda panicked.

Me, out loud: “Oh, that’s so awesome!!”

Me, in my head: “Oh no, do they think I’m bougie for running ads? Does that make me weird? Too big for my britches? Foolish? Did they click on it and secretly judge me, orrrrr. OH NO.”

I wasn’t joking when I told you: Playing big is a MIND GAME. 

And, I’ve had to really work on my acceptance of being more visible over the past month. Part of that means being brave and sharing the ins and outs of…

1 | The hurdles we’ve faced while running these ads.

2 | The results! Seriously… guys… we’ll get there. Hold your horses, Gina.

3 | A teardown of those results – the real inside scoop. I’ll tell you why things are working (and even how much they cost!). This will answer your question: Are Facebook ads worth it?

So, in this month’s installment of The Real Life Diaries, we’re gonna get a little nerdy (conversions, creative concept teardowns, growth strategies), a little deep (how it feels to be visible + celebrating unquantifiable results), and a little action-oriented—because it’s all about getting clear on how we can serve more people, BETTER.

Ready? I mean, we’re best friends at this point, so let’s take a look inside my diary.

The Hurdles

We started out by running a straight up sales campaign. That means our ads were aimed to pique people’s attention who needed what we were offering. Then, when they clicked through, it took them straight to a sales page.

At first, it was slow going. But, I knew when I started to get questions that we were getting somewhere.

Here’s a really important thing to remember: Questions are a good thing. It means people want what you have, they just want to justify the decision before they buy.

Think about it. When you have no interest in something, do you stop and ask a bunch of questions about it? No. You keep walking. Questions are your ticket IN. Don’t be afraid of them!

Also, for context, in my business, we’re working to push a wider audience to The Promptlate Shop.

The Promptlate Shop is my DIY copy solution to help business owners write irresistible copy for their websites.

It’s 50% prompts + 50% templates = 100% more connection and clients with your copy.

Here’s a little peek inside!

Hurdle #1 | The question I kept getting was, “Can I see inside The Promptlates or try before I buy?”

Legally, this is a difficult request with a digital product. So, instead of letting them see inside of the paid version of the product, I decided to create a mini-version as a lead magnet.

I created mini-promptlates for the contact page of a website and an Instagram bio. I also wrote a blog post to explain exactly what’s inside and why it was there. This helped people get a glimpse of the format of my product, and gave them the opportunity to get a result before they had to purchase anything.

Oh, and I had my designer create some “peek inside” graphics, like the one you see above!

Hurdle #2 | Lots were initiating a checkout, but weren’t actually purchasing.

Now, this is natural. There is NO such thing as a 100% conversion rate. But, it had my strategic wheels turning. WHY were people clicking through to the checkout page, but then exiting? What was holding them back?

Then I got a message from my Grandma saying she saw my ad, and clicked through just to see what it meant.

Aaand, I got subsequent messages from my industry friends or former teaching colleagues saying something similar. I just wanted to see how you were doing it! I was curious what platforms you were using for each page. I wanted to see what it was that was making you famous! (Yes, that was a teacher friend who said that one – UMMM YEAH RIGHT.)

At first, I was like, GRANDMA, you’re messing up my conversion rate.

But, then I realized there’s a lesson in everything – statistics aren’t always tidy. There are lots of variables that go into analyzing results – so before you freak out, think through all the possibilities. Remember, the goal is consistent improvement, not 100%.

Pro Tip: My favorite tool for analyzing website stats and helping with optimization is Hotjar. Check it out with your own site free! (You don’t really need the paid version, unless you’re using it for all your clients!)

And that brings me to… *drumroll please*

The Results

In a short 5 weeks of running ads, we’ve seen a… wait for it…

399% return on ad spend.


Okay, in case you’re actually wondering – WHAT does that mean? – let me explain as simply as possible.

Basically, every time I put $1 into the FB ad slot machine, it spit out almost $4. 

That’s WAY more fun than a real slot machine.

AMAZING, right? And, this was from a lot colder traffic than I’d been selling to in the past.

I even got a sale while I was at a brewery playing cornhole.

So, basically, I’ve arrived. (JUST KIDDING)

In addition to the sales campaign, we started running a lead-generation campaign, as well.

Lead Generation Campaign: People opt-in to get something free, and then they go through an email sequence that nurtures them toward a sale.

We are currently obtaining leads at somewhere between $1 and $1.50, and with my high open rates and great conversions from my email list, many of these leads have turned into sales – OR even potential clients. Um. I’ll spend a dollar to book a 4-figure contract any day.

In general, I’ve enjoyed seeing sales become much more consistent, with a lot less woman-power on my part.

The Official Teardown

I’m sure when you hear 399% return on ad spend, you’re thinking, “Okay, cool… but, how?”

Let’s get into the official teardown: I’m going to show you the ads themselves that worked the best, and why I think they’re working well.

Our sales-focused ad is very clear.

Ad created by Till Agency

Creative Concept: This ad functions as a GIF. Cool, right?

It starts with a little shot of The Promptlate Shop logo, and then goes into the pain point, “Tired of staring at a blank screen?”

This style of ad does a few different things.

First and foremost, it captures attention! As humans, we want to complete loops. That blinking cursor in the GIF? It’s an open loop. It naturally compels you to wait and see what will be typed onto the screen.

Second, the copy on the image is a super relatable pain point. WHO hasn’t been tired of staring at a blank screen before? BUT, even more magically, if you’re currently taking a break from said blank screen to mindlessly scroll, this is the kind of pain point that stops you dead in your tracks. It makes someone going through that at this very moment think, “HOLD UP. How are you in my head right now?”

Mission accomplished.

The goal of any ad is to disrupt. If you can get someone to stop their scroll and focus on your ad, your post, your Pinterest pin… half the battle is WON.

Ad Copy: We kept the copy for this ad set super simple.

We honed in on the core desires of a business owner who’s in the process of writing their own copy – you want your business to flourish from your message, right? That boils down to connection and conversion (a.k.a. MORE and BETTER clients).

THEN, it answers the next question, “But can I do that with this resource?” By focusing on the ease of the process, it eliminates an objection before they ever have to click through, establishing trust and starting a conversation.

Headline: In this case, the headline’s job is not what you’d think.

It’s working to reinforce the overall idea of “what they’re clicking” than it is a typical headline’s job of capturing attention.

This headline sums up what you can get when you click through to The Promptlate Shop – Website Copy that Converts. It also plays on what everyone wants when it comes to words: CONFIDENCE.

The ad set for lead generation is focused on sparking curiosity.

I imagine people asking, “Is that really possible?”

Ad created by Till Agency

Creative Concept: Wanna know what’s getting the most engagement on this post? The image itself

I’ve had so many people comment about how cool the image is, asking me where I make my graphics, etc. (Hint: I don’t make them.) This just goes to show that an eye-catching image is important, and it may not always be the image you think it will be! Testing goes a long way for things like this.

The other great thing about this image is that it reinforces the concept of “copy.” People tend to get confused about what “copy” is, and this image has a computer, writing, and me smiling because words are flowin’! It really helps to picture the benefit this free resource is promising.
Plus, having a screenshot of the actual resource solidifies what exactly you’re getting when you click. It’s not a video series, it’s a digital resource you can download now to start crafting more irresistible copy.

Ad Copy: Who doesn’t want their copy to be irresistible, right?

Again, the copy for this ad is surprisingly short, but effective. I’m certainly not of the camp that copy always needs to be short. But, the magic of this ad copy is that it, again, enters into the conversation already going on in my ideal audience’s head.

They’re thinking: Do I really need words for my business to thrive?

Short answer: YES.

Confronting this as a hard truth captures their attention. BUT, then I meet them right after that hard truth with something to help them ease their pain.

Headline + Subhead: Is it FREE? Tell them it’s free.

The headline and subhead are great spots to promise a benefit, and then tell them they can download the roadmap to that benefit for free. In this case, we put “FREE” in all caps, and it really catches your eye as you’re scrolling. “Hmmm, free? What do you have to lose?”

Even more than that, we use the headline to reinforce why copy matters – to “increase conversion.” This pushes on the urgency a little bit. I mean, who doesn’t want to increase conversion with irresistible copy?

The Nurture Sequence: In a lead generation campaign, the goal is to take them from free downloaders (not to be confused with free loaders 😂) to forever fans as quickly as possible.

That’s where the nurture sequence comes in.

Wanna know more about nurture sequences? Check out this blog post from email marketing month!

The Other (Unquantifiable) Results

Sales aren’t the only benefit of running an ad campaign – or gaining exposure in general.

I got a DM on Instagram that someone was literally dreaming of The Promptlate Shop. Yep, she said she kept seeing my ads, and they must be working, because she dreamed about The Promptlate Shop the night before.

Subliminal advertising win? I THINK SO.

But, in addition to straight up INCEPTION, I’ve also noticed that these campaigns have helped my brand and my shop gain authority. It’s opened up the opportunity for more conversations and has allowed The Promptlate Shop to stay top of mind as a DIY copy solution.

The Investment: Are Facebook Ads Worth It?

Alright, Jess, how much does all of this cost?

I had a friend actually ask me that the other day, so I thought you might be wondering the same thing.

And, while I hesitate to share the actual investment amount (because everyone’s investment tolerance and financial situation is different), I do want to share as much as possible with you to give you a perspective on what a NO BRAINER this decision to outsource was for me.

A portion of what my ads agency charges in my package is for “ad creation.”

Overall, they’ve generated a total of about 10 different creative concepts for ads over our time together, and they’ll continue to generate them for me whenever I need them.

Here’s the thing: GRAPHICS are the bane of my existence.

I hate them. They hate me. It’s a whole thing we’ve got goin’.

If I were to have only spent time crafting creative for these ads, it would’ve taken me a minimum of probably 20 hours. MINIMUM. That’s not even counting the hours that I take my graphics and send them to an actual designer with an SOS smoke signal on the tails of a text message, and cry into my iced coffee because I should’ve hired someone.

It would’ve cost me 20 billable hours, at a minimum. Considering my hourly rate, what I pay my guys to run the ads for me is a fraction of what it would take for me to create them myself.

Plus, they completely created the ads, set them up in Facebook, and are monitoring and tweaking them along the way.

The investment, in my opinion, is more than worth it.

And, regarding the “investment” of the ad spend itself, I’m technically spending money, sure. But did you see that 399% return part? I’m spending money, and making it right back and then some – without doing anything on my end.

So, are Facebook ads worth it? Absolutely.

What’s Next for Facebook Ads?

So, now that we have something that works, do we just funnel ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD INTO IT?

This may or may not have been an actual question I asked my ads agency.

Short Answer: No.

Long Answer: We’ll strategically start to funnel more ad spend into what’s working, watching it closely to see when the return starts to drop.

THEN, we reiterate.

That’s one primary reason why I’m so glad I outsourced. Ain’t nobody got time for that much tweaking and testing and tweaking and testing. But, I can’t deny the results, and I definitely don’t want to go back to my sales living and dying on Instagram stories! So, we’ll ride out this ad set, and then my amazing team will come up with more.

One thing we might try – sneak peek for 2020! – is a webinar funnel. 

I’ve been told I should do more video, even though I’m the most awkward human in the history of the world.

So, I’ll probably watch some videos from my amazing client, Trena Little, to get up my courage and confidence. Then, I’ll focus on delivering even more value for free in 2020, so I can connect with the people who need what I have and help them along whether they buy for me or not.

I actually love that plan. Will you come be my hype-team in a webinar? Pretty please? K thanks, friends.

What’s next for Real Life Diaries?

In December, I’ll be taking my annual sabbatical from client work so I can relax and enjoy the sweet season with my family, recharge after a season of burnout (to be honest), and take a vision-view of my business to gear up for an amazing 2020. So, next month, we’re taking a break from Real Life Diaries. Because, REAL LIFE. 

BUT, I’m not going anywhere!

I’ll be back in the New Year to share ALL the things with you:

  • The behind the scenes process of vision and planning (for my team and me!)
  • How I plan on refining (and hopefully condensing) my client process
  • Some systems and processes I’m creating from scratch to bake in some essential business practices into my weekly flow instead of only once in a blue moon (like pitching + PR, bookkeeping, clearing my downloads folder and organizing my files, and other MAJOR HEAVY SIGH kinda stuff that make a huge difference in business).
  • Other areas of my life I’m giving a little “refresh!”

So, meet me back here in JANUARY for updates about everything I just mentioned, and more!

For now, tell me – do you have a way you teardown and analyze what’s actually working and what’s not, and why? Have you ever wondered, “Are Facebook ads worth it?” Let me know in the comments, I’d love to chat!

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