Secrets to PROFITABLE Facebook Ads with Tony Rulli (Transcript)

No doubt the FB advertising world can be super confusing. That’s why I invited my paid advertising genius, Tony Rulli of Intentional Spark, onto the podcast to demystify ads and help you understand why you might not be getting the return that you’re hoping for.

This is a transcript of Work Less, Earn More, Episode 44. Listen to the episode here.

Tony Rulli:

Every business is different. Just because you hear other people are having a hard time with ads, it doesn’t mean your ads are going to necessarily be worse. I would wait and see what the numbers tell you. If people are talking about ad costs going up in November, if you’re not seeing it yet, keep letting your ads run.

Gillian Perkins:

We became entrepreneurs because, more than anything, we want freedom. We want to be in control of our own schedule, income, and life. But, unfortunately, that isn’t always the reality of being a business owner. I’m Gillian Perkins, and I’m on a mission to take back entrepreneurship for what it’s supposed to be. In every episode, I’ll share with you how to get the most out of every hour you work, so that you can work less and earn more. Let’s get to it.

Gillian Perkins:

Hey, it’s Gillian and welcome back to the show. Today, I’m joined by my friend and ad manager, Tony Rulli. Tony is the co-founder of Intentional Spark, the Facebook ad management company that manages all the ads for Startup Society, my personal brand, as well as a lot of other popular online brands, including Jasmine Star, Brooke Castillo, ConvertKit, Acuity Scheduling, and many more. I’m so excited to have Tony here with me today, so that he can share some of his genius in terms of Facebook ads with you all. So, hey there, Tony and welcome to the show.

Tony Rulli:

Thanks Gillian. Excited to be here, excited to talk ads, and strategy, and whatever else we’re going to get into.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah, absolutely. Something that I really appreciate, Tony, about you is that you have such a teacher’s heart, I think. There have been a few times now when you just reached out just to share things that you’ve learned about ads with me, and helped me to further my understanding of paid advertising. And I found that a really valuable part of working with you. I’m excited to be sharing that with my audience today.

Tony Rulli:

Oh, that’s awesome. I didn’t know that. I’m glad you liked that. That’s kind of how I got into ads. Meg, my co-founder and wife was sick of me offering to coach her on different marketing things. And she was like, “You should just have people pay you to coach them on ads.” And I was like, “Oh, that’s a good idea.” I love coaching. I love teaching. So, that’s kind of how it started.

Gillian Perkins:

Oh yeah. Well, that’s really funny, but really cool because when I hired you, I was just hiring you to run my ads for me, but I’ve just found that I’ve gotten a whole education along with it. So, that’s really awesome.

Common Mistakes when running Facebook Ads – Not having a goal

Gillian Perkins:

What I want to start our conversation with today is talking about some of the common mistakes that people make with their ads that prevents them from seeing that positive return that they’re really looking for. Some people are hiring an ad agency to run their ads for them, or they’re DIY-ing their ads. But either way it can seem really straightforward from the outset and people think, “Okay, I can do this, but they quickly find that, for some reason, they’re spending money on these ads, but they’re not getting that return that they’re looking for. Could we dive into that? Could you share with me some of the reasons why people aren’t seeing that return that they’re looking for, some mistakes that they’re making?

Tony Rulli:

Yeah. And there’s a lot of ways you can go wrong. I think if we start with the person who’s running ads themselves, and may be newer to it, because there’s two big mistakes you can make. One when you’re running ads yourself and you’re newer to it. And one when you’re kind of hiring a team, and you don’t know what you don’t know. We can talk about both.

Tony Rulli:

The first is when you’re running ads yourself, I see a lot of people still if I ask them, “Have you run ads?” They say yes, but that means they probably boosted a post, which is fine. And most people tell you not to do that. There are times you might want to, but that’s really only like a 10% of the power of Facebook and Instagram ads is boosting posts. And most times when you boost, you don’t have a goal. So, number one is to have a goal. What’s the point of promoting something? They’ll say, “I promoted a bunch of posts with links and I didn’t get anything.” And I’m, “Well, what were you trying to get?” And they say sales, but none of their links went to sales pages went to opt-in pages, or anything else. It’s kind of putting a strategy in place first.

Gillian Perkins:

Having a clear objective.

Tony Rulli:

Yes, which sounds obvious

Gillian Perkins:

It does sound obvious, but it’s also about making sure that you know how the ads would help you reach that objective, right?

Tony Rulli:

Yes, exactly. Because I’ll ask people, “What was your goal here?” And they’re like, “I wanted likes,” and I’m like, “Why do you want likes?”

Gillian Perkins:

Always a good question. Why do you want likes?

Tony Rulli:

Exactly. And that’s kind of where it ends. If likes are part of a strategy that’ll get you more leads and sales, then that’s a valid strategy. But it shouldn’t end at just getting likes. Kind of mapping out what you’re trying to do. 

Gillian Perkins:

Is that the biggest problem with just boosting a post, or are there other problems with simply boosting a post as well?

Tony Rulli:

Well, any other problems with boosting a post is you just lose a lot of the power of Facebook ads, if someone hasn’t really gotten to the ads manager. Some of the things you can do there, you can run a bunch of different ad creative to audiences that don’t know you, or even to your existing audiences and test what works best. And it doesn’t show up in your normal Facebook page feed. So you’re not. Whereas, if you’re putting stuff in your page feed and then re-boosting that as an ad, it has to go into your feed first and kind of clog it up. You could have your organic feed be nothing, but pure value, and then use ads to kind of sell and generate leads. 

Gillian Perkins:

You have to put all of that promotional material onto your main page, which can make your page look maybe a little spammy because there would be so much promo going on on it.

Tony Rulli:

Yeah. And you can test a lot more. A lot of times we’ll test four, or five, six images, with a couple pieces of copy to different audiences. And you can’t really do that when you’re boosting. And the other thing that’s harder is optimizing. And I don’t want to get super ad nerdy. People can reach out if they want to talk deep, deep ad strategy. But optimization with ads is you tell Facebook what you want. If you tell Facebook you want engagement, Facebook will go find people that tend to engage more with posts, and then show them your content in your audience. But if you tell Facebook, “I want people who opt in for a lead,” they’ll go find people that tend to opt in for leads more. Facebook will find more of the people opting in for your offers. People talking about the algorithm and that’s all it is. But that’s like where the real power comes from with ads.

Gillian Perkins:

That’s one thing that I definitely didn’t understand when I was doing my own ads. And a big mistake I made was I knew that I didn’t want just cheap likes. That I wanted to get people who actually signed up to be a lead. But I didn’t really understand that I might be getting people who are very interested in signing up for things, free things, but not very interested in buying. And so, that’s something that I know you’ve worked with us on, is how could we make the actual conversion event, a sales conversion event, so that Facebook can optimize for that.

Tony Rulli:

Yeah. And we can definitely get into that because that’s one of the strategies I like everybody to try is get a sale early because not only can you optimize for that, you can generate leads. And a lot of times those leads will buy eventually. But you can start to see what audiences are opting in and buying right away, just to get a sense of how interested they are in your products.

Gillian Perkins:

Okay so, beyond boosting a post, what are some other common mistakes that you see people make?

Let Facebook Work it’s magic 

Tony Rulli:

The other, then is, if you’re running your own ads, oftentimes people will get into the ads manager and not leverage optimizing for the right thing. Just to explain to people how powerful it can be, we worked with this client, this was more of an advisory role. They were running their own ads and they were getting good, really good click costs. Cheap traffic to their opt-in page. And they were seeing 5% of people opt-in and they were getting like $5 per lead, which isn’t terrible. And they didn’t really understand that instead of that click and that traffic, you could actually optimize for leads and tell Facebook the more people that opt in, see what they’re like, go find more people, like these people. And it builds a feedback loop.

Tony Rulli:

And so, all they did is they relaunched their campaign that was getting 5% conversion for $5 per lead. And they optimized for leads instead of clicks. And it went from $5 per lead to $1 per lead. And the conversion rates went up to 25%. And it was the same audiences, same creative, same everything. And so, just that one tweak, and letting Facebook actually work for you is a huge win.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah so, really the secret there, or the mistake to avoid is let Facebook do its magic. This really reminds me of YouTube. I see so many people try to outsmart the YouTube algorithm or they ask, should they pay for YouTube ads to grow their channel? And I’m like “Really, YouTube has spent so much money and done so much work to build such an incredible algorithm that’s designed to find people who will like your videos, and who will want to watch your videos. Let the YouTube algorithm work.” And so, here we’re paying for ads with Facebook ads, of course, but we still need to make sure that we’re really leaning on the Facebook ads algorithm and letting it work at its full potential.

Tony Rulli:

Definitely, 100%. And then, I think the last thing I see often is people just, they don’t know what to care about when it comes to ad metrics. Or they care about too many things. At the end of the day, it’s really what is your return on ad spend? And maybe, you’re not necessarily selling anything yet. Then it’s like, what’s your cost per lead? Because we’ll have people who are seeing really good return on ad spends, or good cost per and they’re like, “Oh, but my cost per click is $3.” And I’m like, “I haven’t looked at your cost per click in a month.” Cost per click doesn’t matter to us as long as all the other numbers like link click-through rate and things are working. And so, there’s some things you can do to clean up your reporting dashboards to make them easier to read. But it’s really just caring about the things that matter and kind of ignoring the rest that really helps people do better with ads.

Gillian Perkins:

Okay so, that acquisition cost is really the most important. Are there any other metrics inside the Facebook ad dashboard that people should be paying pretty close attention to?

Facebook Metrics to pay attention to

Tony Rulli:

Yeah, there’s always a couple we like to look at. Most people want to run lead campaigns, I would say, they’re running some version of that. Just cost per lead. Generally benchmark like a normal opt-in like for a PDF, or some kind of mini training is like 2 to $4 per lead depending on time of year and things like that, and competition, but roughly. Webinars are like five to six, and it goes on from there. But outside of cost per lead link click-through rate is one we really pay attention to.

Gillian Perkins:

What does that mean?

Tony Rulli:

There’s a click rate, which is just how many times someone sees your ad and clicks on anything. Yhe expand button, like, comment, or the link. Link click-through rate is just clicking the link you’re giving them to go to your landing page. And so, for us, that’s an indicator that the creative is working, and it’s matching the audience where we’re showing it to people. They’re looking at it, liking it enough to click and go to the landing page. And for an opt-in campaign, generally, benchmark like 1% is what you’re looking for as your minimum.

Tony Rulli:

And then, besides that, I think we like to look at conversion rates on a landing page. Now, Facebook doesn’t show you that yet. I think eventually they’re going to let you build out your own personal metrics, but it’s pretty easy. You can look at landing page views in Facebook, and you can look at your leads in Facebook, and then you just do the math yourself because link click-through rate tells you how well the ads and the audience are connecting. And then, the conversion rate tells you, does the ad match the landing page and are people still connected? That really is like the core of the funnel that we look at.

Strategy – Funnels and back end

Gillian Perkins:

That covers some of the most common reasons why people wouldn’t see a return on their ad spend. But, I think, there’s probably one more that you could get into, having to do with people’s funnel and kind of the back end of their strategy with their ads. Because I know a mistake that I made at first was I was really optimizing, like I said before, those lead costs, but then the reason I wasn’t getting the best return on ad spend, this is something we’re continuing to work on absolutely, is that we didn’t have a good sales process on the backend.

Tony Rulli:

Yeah. And I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily a mistake. I think all these things, you kind of build them over time as you keep growing. And also, we have clients who don’t really do any major sales in their ad campaigns, or marketing funnels, and then they’ll launch twice a year and that’s there. For them, they just want to grow an email list, and then sell twice a year. What we’re really big fans of, myself and my team, are getting little sales throughout the year to help us find what the best audiences are. I think to what you’re speaking about, there’s things like tripwire funnels, which we can touch on, which are basically, a lot of people know what they are, but it’s a free offer, like an opt-in. And then, at the thank you page is some kind of sales offer, usually lower price, like $7, $20, $30, something like that.

Gillian Perkins:

One of my favorite kinds of Facebook ad funnel, because you’re getting that immediate return on your ad spend. And even if you’re not, break even, or at a profit immediately, you’re going to be earning some of the money back that you’re spending. You can afford to spend more on the ads, and you can essentially grow your audience for free.

Tony Rulli:

Yeah. There’s so much value there too. Direct value, like you said, you get some kind of return. You’re spending, say, you get $2 per lead and it ends up costing, let’s see, what would it be? You get like a 50% return. But that ultimately means you’re basically spending like $1 a lead because it cuts your costs in half because you’re getting money back. But the other part that not everyone thinks about is it also is helping us find audiences that are buying because we might have two audiences, they’re both getting $2 per lead, but maybe one is breaking even. And one is barely buying anything from you. And so, we could then turn off the other one. Or maybe one costs more for a lead, but actually they’re buying more.

Tony Rulli:

It helps kind of in-between the larger sales we can find audiences that are closer to being buying audiences. And it also trains people right away that you sell things. They come in, they see you have things for sale, and it kind of just gets them like, “Oh, there’s a lot of great free content that Gillian has, but she also has great content for sale.” Then there isn’t a major disconnect when you start selling via email.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah, it can be hard to get your audience to make that transition from just consuming your free content to consuming your paid content. Especially, I think, if you’re in a kind of information heavy industry where there’s a lot of information out there, a lot of free resources, then people can be surprised when you try to sell them something. I do like the strategy for that reason also, that you kind of get people used to the idea that you have things for sale, and they might want to buy them early on. Whether or not they buy that first thing you offer to them, they just are more aware that there are things for sale.

Tony Rulli:

Yeah, exactly.

Tony’s Favorite Ad Strategies

Gillian Perkins:

Now that we’ve talked about some of those mistakes that people often make, can you share with me some of your current favorite either ad strategies, or funnel strategies that you’ve seen work really well recently?

Tony Rulli:

Yeah, there’s the tripwire funnel, which is classic. It’s been around forever. There’s a lot of variations of it, basically, depending on what you’re offering for free and what you’re going to sell, but that’s a whole kind of sub category. I would say other things that we’ve seen work well are the direct sales offer funnel. I think some people have been calling it a tiny offer. The concept is just a low priced offer upfront, some kind of order bump at checkout, which is usually some kind of toggle where it’s like, “Oh, do you like this? Get this plus a bunch of extra things, just like it for $10 more.” And it just adds a little. And then, if they buy, there’s some kind of upsell, that’s a really classic way to do it too.

Tony Rulli:

We usually don’t recommend people starting with that, just because it costs more to get enough sales to start learning. Whereas, it’s easier at the lead level to get more leads at $2 as opposed to trying to break even at $20 on a direct sales offer. That’s usually the next intermediate thing we recommend people try.

Gillian Perkins:

In other words, if you’re spending a smaller amount, then you’re not going to be able to get enough data for it to be statistically significant. If you are trying to immediately get a bigger sale because that’s going to be more expensive. You’ll be getting a smaller amount of data because you’ll get a smaller amount of sales that’ll be hard to optimize versus with a tripwire funnel where you’re getting those leads. And so, it’ll give Facebook more data to work with basically, right?

Tony Rulli:

Yeah. You’re such a good teacher. Everything I say, you say back clear and better than I do, so I like this. This is good. I think I need to learn how to do that. You condense everything perfectly.

Tony Rulli:

The other thing that’s really good thing about the tripwire versus the direct offer is actually something technical where Facebook actually needs, I say 35 to 50, Facebook says 50 conversions per week in an ad set to actually start to optimize and get out of, what they call, learning mode. And so, people sometimes ask, “Why are my campaigns stuck in learning mode? My campaigns are really volatile, going up and down,” and it’s because Facebook’s not getting enough weekly data to optimize. And so, if you’re not spending a lot, and you’re optimizing for a purchase, sometimes it doesn’t quite work out. Sometimes it does, but sometimes you get stuck.

Gillian Perkins:

That conversion that Facebook needs 50 of, it could be just a lead conversion right? It doesn’t have to be a sales conversion.

Tony Rulli:

Yeah. It could be a lead conversion. It could be add to cart, or check, it could be whatever you want it to be. It just needs to be the thing Facebook’s optimizing for.

Gillian Perkins:

I see. Facebook, basically, needs to have 50 successful transactions, whatever that transaction is, so that they can say, “Oh, okay, this is what we’re trying to do.”

Tony Rulli:

Yeah, exactly.

Gillian Perkins:

And these are the factors that are contributing to it being successful.

Tony Rulli:

Exactly.

Gillian Perkins:

Okay, perfect.

Gillian Perkins:

You mentioned the tripwire funnel, and the direct sale funnel. And was there a third one?

Tony Rulli:

Yeah, there’s also webinar funnels. I mean, a lot of these are classics, so these aren’t the newest strategies. These are classic strategies that always have worked well, and you just have to adjust what you’re doing. LiveWebinar, or evergreen webinar, those can work really well. I think for more complex strategies, I’ve seen people, really, you want to leverage video content. I usually don’t recommend people who are just starting ads trying to do something pure video. Because the strategy is you run video nurture content. So, content that’s just pure value. You can run it to cold audiences. And then, you re-target people that watch 3 seconds, 10 seconds, 25%, you can do different segments. And then, you run specific offers to those people. That can work really well, it’s just it’s an extra thing that you have to optimize for. And so, it really can get complicated fast because you don’t know what’s not working when it doesn’t work.

Gillian Perkins:

And it can also get expensive because we are paying to show ads to people multiple times.

Tony Rulli:

Completely. And a lot of times I’ll see people say like, “Oh, I’m getting a crazy good cost per lead.” And they’re only looking at the actual lead campaign they’re running, and they’re excluding the thousands of dollars they spent on the videos, when you really should combine them together. When it works, it works really well. But it’s also just more things, more variables to focus on. I usually don’t recommend people start with something like that.

Tony Rulli:

I would say though, if you have a tiny budget, and you just want to start growing an audience, running video ads is really awesome. You can get really cheap views on Facebook ads with a video campaign. And you can put a link in there to some kind of opt-in. But if you just want to get awareness and start being seen as an expert you could start at really low spends, like $5 a day, putting videos out there, and just growing the awareness around yourself. That’s one tiny, tiny thing people can do if they’re not ready for big budget lead campaigns, they could start promoting some value add videos.

Gillian Perkins:

Okay, that’s a great idea.

Changes businesses have made in their approach to Facebook Ads

Gillian Perkins:

One other thing I wanted to touch on today was kind of ads in the current economic climate, the current and social climate. There’s a lot going on over the past year or so. What changes have people had to make because of this? How can people still successfully run ads despite everything that’s going on?

Tony Rulli:

I mean, there’s like 1,000 different sub items we could talk about, and how people have adjusted, and what’s happening with ads. I would say one of the biggest changes, just like with COVID and the pandemic, people’s habits have changed. A lot more people are home. A lot more people are distracted. Parents are trying to juggle working from home, and maybe that’s new to them because they had corporate jobs, and now the kids are home, and they’re doing remote learning, a lot of them.

Tony Rulli:

And the problem is not every client is seeing the same effect. Some clients that we work with their audience, maybe skews younger and isn’t as family oriented, and so they don’t have a lot of differences. But sometimes maybe your webinar now has lower show up rates because people are like, “I want to watch this on replay because I don’t have time during the day to watch this.” So, things like that have changed and you kind of just have to be nimble, and change your messaging to meet people where they are. And that’s always been true with ads.

Gillian Perkins:

Sure. So, making sure that the actual words you’re using in your ads are kind of sensitive to current events?

Tony Rulli:

Yes. And not taking advantage of it either. It’s not like talking about it in that way. But if it’s like a tough time for people, you don’t want to be having a party, unless that fits what you’re trying to do. But, if people are working from home, talk about that. If you have a product, or something related to that, if it fits it can be something you talk about.

Gillian Perkins:

Make sure that it’s relevant.

Tony Rulli:

Yeah, relevant. It’s funny, clients and people we work with say they’re bad at ad copy, and some of these things. And I always tell them, they’re great at ad copy. If you have a business and people are attracted to it, people are attracted to how you already speak, how you already write. Give us your current landing page, your current sales page, let us see how you write because that’s how your audience reacts to you. you can still be yourself, and just talk in ads the way you would talk organically. And that probably is a mistake, I actually see a lot of people make when they’re getting started, they think ad copy needs to sound like ad copy, when it should just sound like you because that’s what works best.

Gillian Perkins:

And every ad starts, “Raise your hand if you’re a …”

Tony Rulli:

Yeah, exactly. And, now, sometimes that works. There are classic examples of ad copy, like asking questions, things like that. But if that’s just not, you need to figure out like how you get your voice to fit inside of an ad.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah, that makes sense. The thing that makes this really difficult for us right now is that we’ve got this landing page that is converting better than any other landing page we’ve tried against it. It’s converting at like 75%, it’s our webinar landing page. And it literally only has the title of the webinar on it, and then it says, sign up, and there’s an opt-in form. I think we handed it to you and you guys were like, “So, what’s this webinar actually about?” Because you guys didn’t know what to write about it because there weren’t any words on it.

Tony Rulli:

I think it’s important, also, there’s always a balance when you’re doing landing pages or ad creative, where you want to fit your brand, and you want to fit someone’s brand. But we don’t know. We have ideas on what ad copy and landing pages, and images will work best. But there have been so many times with clients where there might be something we personally hate, it’s not offensive or anything, we’re just like, “We just don’t like the way it looks,” but it performs best and we cannot beat it. It’ll run for months. And we’ll test all this other ad creative because we’re like, “We just hate how this looks, but it works best.” We’re always about testing. If you have a landing page where it’s like it’s just the title and it converts the best, then just use it. 

Gillian Perkins:

Courtney kept trying to AB test it against other things. And she was so frustrated that she couldn’t come up with more words that made it convert better, or adding testimonials made it convert worse. Everything we tried made it convert worse. And she was like, why don’t we test? If we can’t find anything that is working better. What do we test, if it’s so simple? There’s nothing to AB test here.” And I was like, “We just accept it and we find something different ’cause there are other parts of the funnel that don’t work as well.”

Tony Rulli:

Exactly. Yeah. And as long as it fits your brand and you can live on the metrics side, that’s the best way to go about it. So, that’s perfect.

How have Facebook Ads been affected by 2020 events?

Gillian Perkins:

Overall in 2020, how have you seen Facebook ads be affected by the events? Have ad costs gone up? Have ad costs gone down? Anything else?

Tony Rulli:

Yeah. There’s been social media protests happening on and off. In June, there were a lot of social media protests happening. In July, a lot of large brands actually stepped back and said, “We’re not going to spend money on Facebook because the way Facebook’s handled a lot of different things.” And so, the way we handled it with our clients is in June, when a lot of the social media protests happened, we talked to clients about what they want to do, how they want to handle it. Our recommendation was listen to it, and do what you want. We recommend going silent maybe for like a week. And then, we can turn them back on. And this was during the Black Lives Matter protest and the social media blackout where everyone was raising awareness for lesser voices. At some point, it’s the business owner who want to know how to handle it. But our advice was sometimes, if you’re not part of the conversation, it’s okay to go quiet for a little bit. And so, that was some of our recommendations during that time.

Tony Rulli:

During July, we weren’t sure what would happen because a lot of these big brands, basically, stopped spending. The dirty secret was a lot of those brands had already stopped spending because of the economy and other things. And some big brands stopped spending to make a point about how Facebook’s been handling a lot of different things. And some were just kind of jumping on. We didn’t see a huge change, but people were unsure what to do. So, that was an interesting time.

Tony Rulli:

And then now, there’s the national election and local elections happening, a lot of ad spends getting dumped into Facebook. Costs are rising. And we’re heading into Black Friday, Cyber Monday holiday shopping. And I think it is guaranteed to be the biggest year for e-com ever.

Gillian Perkins:

Just because everything shut down or a lot of things are still shut down rather?

Tony Rulli:

Yeah. This is already the biggest year ever for e-com, just because everyone’s buying online. And I think it’s going to get only bigger. And a lot of these e-com companies are already big digital spenders, so it’s going to be even more spend coming in. We’re seeing CPMs, which CPMs are the cost of getting in front of 1,000 people. And that’s actually what you’re paying for when you go out in the Facebook Marketplace, even if it looks like you’re paying for a conversion, or a click, what you’re actually bidding on is the CPMs. And so, we’ve seen those rising and you can try different ad creative to fight it, but sometimes the ad costs are the ad costs. It’s just about making it work with what you have. Some clients want to usually pull back in November, December. Some clients do really well in November, December. So, that’s on a client by client basis.

Gillian Perkins:

A few things that I’ve noticed, both in our conversation and in the past few months of working with you, have been one, is that backend strategy is really important. You can’t just boost a post and get some visibility, and expect it to really have an impact on your business. Another thing is, like you mentioned a little while ago, letting Facebook do its magic, and really letting the algorithm work. Another thing you were just mentioning was kind of being sensitive to current situations. And it sounds like we don’t want to just charge forward with an ad strategy that should work, but we need to kind of be aware of what’s going on in the world, and maybe take a step back in certain situations, or when ad costs are rising. And then, take advantage when ad costs are dipping.

Tony Rulli:

Yeah, definitely. And every business is different. Just because you hear other people are having a hard time with ads, it doesn’t mean your ads are going to necessarily be worse. Wait and see what the numbers tell you. If people are talking about ad costs going up in November, if you’re not seeing it yet, keep letting your ads run. Some clients aren’t being affected. It’s just important to also look at your own numbers.

Gillian Perkins:

It seems like the name of the game in Facebook ads is just AB test, test, test, test.

Tony Rulli:

Keep testing. And it’s always amazing, you think you’ve kind of tapped out, and you’ve gotten the best results, and then you try something totally new, and it works even better. So, keep testing.

Advice when trying Facebook Ads for the first time

Gillian Perkins:

What is one thing that you really wish more people knew when they were trying Facebook ads for the first time?

Tony Rulli:

Oh man, that’s such a good question, what do I wish they knew?

Gillian Perkins:

Or what do you wish they asked?

Tony Rulli:

I wish they’d asked? I think the biggest thing I think when people get in there is expectations. When your expectations are misaligned it will crush your spirit, and then you’ll never go back. I’ve seen this happen with people’s marketing funnels. I see it happen on Facebook ads. They think they’re going to turn an ad on, and make a million dollars at like $5 a day. And when it doesn’t happen, or something, they end up saying, “Ads are too confusing,” or they spent a lot of money and didn’t see results, which is super frustrating.

Tony Rulli:

But I think going in there, you should go in expecting, if you’re doing it yourself, there’s a learning curve. And so, give yourself a small budget, make sure everything’s working correctly. Don’t expect that the first thing you do is going to generate a ton of leads, or any kind of money. It’s just about seeing what happens, and going from there. I wish when people started ads they didn’t see it as some kind of easy fix, or a quick fix, or their personal ATM. Sometimes people think you spend a dollar and you make two and that’s how Facebook ads work. If people just go in with a learning mindset, I think, those are the people we’ve worked with that have the best results because they improve every week as they learn more and get more data.

Gillian Perkins:

Again, that sounds a lot like YouTube. People think that they’re going to put up a couple of videos, and one of them is going to go viral.

Tony Rulli:

Yeah, why aren’t I viral yet? Yeah, exactly.

Gillian Perkins:

And when that doesn’t happen, then they just get discouraged, and they give up, and they stop making videos. But if they go in with that learning mindset, if they go in just trying to make every video better than the last one, trying to learn from what works and what doesn’t, then that is when they are successful.

Tony Rulli:

Yes.

Gillian Perkins:

Probably, the same thing applies here.

Tony Rulli:

Yeah. And I would also just say, if it’s a make or break, I wouldn’t say use ads. If you are like, “I have to do X and spend X amount of money to make X amount of money in the next week,” that’s not a good time to be learning ads. You can’t put that kind of pressure on yourself. So, it needs to be the longer learning curve.

Let’s talk about Facebook Ad budgets

Gillian Perkins:

Well, what do you say is the minimum budget that someone should have available to invest in order to probably be able to be successful with their ads?

Tony Rulli:

When we’re talking like lead gen, just  an opt-in, or tripwire funnel where you’re optimizing for a lead, usually, we say about 20 to $25 a day per audience. If you had 20 to $25 a day, you’d pick one audience in one campaign, and just run ads for that. And the reason is, if you were getting like $5 a lead at $25 a day, that’s five leads a day and 35 a week. That’s less than the 50 per week we’re aiming for, but 35 a week sometimes is enough to squeak by. 50, definitely usually gets you, or usually gets you past the learning phase in Facebook, but 35 can too. So, that’s why we say that’s really what you’re aiming for

Gillian Perkins:

So then, how long would someone, should someone anticipate they’ll need to keep putting out $25 a day before they might start earning a positive return, or break even? I know it’s so different for every single situation. But I just think there are a lot of people out there who are thinking about trying Facebook ads, but they have a small budget, and they’re wondering if they’re just going to throw their money away because their budget will run out before they start seeing a return? Where’s that line? What would be your best advice there?

Tony Rulli:

If they have a limited budget, and they need to see break even return, ads are probably not going to be where they want to start because you need to have a little bit more lead time. And just still like let’s spend money, let’s get lead costs down because you might be getting good lead costs, but then not getting a lot of sales on whatever your immediate sales offer is. And so, you might need to rework some things.

Tony Rulli:

But timeline wise, like if someone was running a tripwire campaign, usually if you launch an ad and everything’s working correctly, you want to give it 48 to 72 hours just for Facebook to start learning and optimizing. And then, you kind of just have to start watching your funnel numbers. I hate giving it depends answers, so I’m trying not to. But you have to watch. And so, I’ll coach people, build a little spreadsheet for yourself. There’s some other things you can do that are a little more complicated. But just start tracking like how many leads come in, how many people buy? What’s the percentage? And if you see that like 10% of leads buy, and you’re selling a $9 product, you can figure out what your minimum lead cost needs to be to break even.

Tony Rulli:

It’s just about getting the data. But if you’ve never run it before you have no idea what the conversion rates are going to be or anything. If it’s not working, I can’t give a timeline for when it will work. But you need to give your ads, I’d say, at least three days. And even better, at least a week to start watching those numbers just on the ad side.

Gillian Perkins:

Sure. I think people need to think about what they’re really expecting the conversion of their funnel to be. For example, if you’re running a webinar funnel, and you’re expecting it to convert at, say, 2% that means you have to get 50 people in there before you’re expecting to make any sort of sale. And then, 50 times your lead cost, if it’s like $6, then that’s $300. You’d have to spend $300 before you could even make one sale. And in order for that data to be statistically significant, and for Facebook to be able to really use that conversion data, you’re going to need to get, how many conversions did you say? 50 a week?

Tony Rulli:

Yeah, 50 a week in one [crosstalk 00:00:33:16].

Gillian Perkins:

But in this case, Facebook could be using your lead conversions at least. So, those 50 webinar registrations would give Facebook the data it needs. That would be about like $300 or so a week in order for you to really get the data you need.

Tony Rulli:

Yeah. I wasn’t sure if we were going to get that nerdy, sorry. No, that’s perfect. I dive into that with clients a lot of times. We’ll go into their funnel numbers because you can figure out what your break even lead cost is if you know your conversion metrics, like you said. So, if you get 1% of people to buy, you can figure out then, if I sell a $300 product, I need to get X amount of people in. Like in your example, you’d be at break even. You spend $300, you make one sale.

Tony Rulli:

But to your point, and we see this all the time with smaller budgets, you might get zero sales one week on one webinar and you might get five the next. And so, it’s just over time, once you get enough sales, what’s kind of the average?

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah, that makes sense.

Gillian Perkins:

Something you said earlier led me to believe that you would almost say, and correct me if you wouldn’t say this, but that you’d almost say that you would like people to be investing money into Facebook ads that they don’t need to get back. Money that they would be all right, if they throw the money away, even though that’s obviously not the expectation, or the goal here. But it sounded like that was kind of what you were saying. Would you go so far as to say that?

Tony Rulli:

Yes. And not that it is throwing it away, but we’ve told clients they’re not ready for us. If they’re like, “I can’t afford to not have this money come back to me from ads,” you shouldn’t be running ads because it’s too much of a risk. We’re pretty conservative as an ad team with clients’ budgets. Usually, clients are the ones telling us to spend more.

Gillian Perkins:

Always telling you to spend more?

Tony Rulli:

Yeah. Because, for us, we’re looking at return. And so, we really want to make sure clients are comfortable. And we’ll spend more, if clients are like, “Get us leads, leads are good,” we’ll spend, but we always want to be sure they’re ready, they’re not making money right away. If people are going to be like, “I have $5,000 and I want to run a campaign for two months, but if I lose this money, I’m not going to pay rent,” don’t be running ads so, to your point.

Gillian Perkins:

So, basically, there should be a surplus that you are willing to experiment with for the potential of gain. If this was stock investing, then this is the part of your portfolio that you’re investing to like volatile stocks, right?

Tony Rulli:

Yes, exactly, yeah. And you’re learning. And theoretically, say, you’re running some kind of tripwire funnel, or webinar funnel, and no one’s buying, you’re still getting leads that you could sell to later. So, it’s not like it’s a loss.

Gillian Perkins:

It’s better than the stock market because we’re not completely gambling. We have control over the situation.

Tony Rulli:

Yes, exactly. There’s still value there. But if you’re looking to make that immediate return, there’s no guarantee.

Final tips for trying Facebook Ads for the first time

Gillian Perkins:

Do you have any final parting words for people who are maybe trying ads for the first time or they’ve been dabbling a little bit and they’re trying to optimize things?

Tony Rulli:

Yes. I would say, especially for people that have been running their own ads and everything’s set up correctly and they’re seeing results, sometimes it’s better to try something totally new than it is to keep dabbling on the margins of something you’re doing. If you have a funnel, or a ad creative that you’re running, and it’s doing okay, but you’ve tried a lot of different tasks like with audiences, and ad creative, and maybe changing the landing page, or the tripwire offer you might need to just try something totally different because sometimes that’s where we’ll see big gains really quickly is when you just try something totally different than you have, as opposed to trying to tweak the edges of something that’s just having a problem.

Gillian Perkins:

That is great advice. I encountered that advice recently when I was reading something in a course that I was taking, about optimizing landing pages. And they were saying, “Before you try those small tweaks, before you try changing the color of the font, or just rewording the one headline or something, try a completely different page design. And do that a few times, so that you can find the page design that’s, basically, converting best. And then, from there, you can work on refining.” And it sounds like you’re saying exactly the same thing here with ads.

Tony Rulli:

Yeah. Because you’ll get bigger results faster doing it that way. And so, that’s always the way I like to split test. But once you get like a winner from a bunch of big changes, then go do the little, tweak a couple letters or words in your title.

Gillian Perkins:

That’s awesome advice. Well, thank you so much, Tony. This has been fantastic. Thanks for your time. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us. You mentioned earlier, to me, that you have some free Facebook ads training that my audience can get access to.

Tony Rulli:

Yeah, it’s a few free training videos about setting up custom reporting, so you can see the metrics you care about, how to launch a campaign and set things up, and a couple other videos. People can get that at intentionalspark.com, which is our company. 

Gillian Perkins:

For, work less earn more.

Tony Rulli:

Yes.

Gillian Perkins:

Fantastic. Great. And also, before we wrap this up, I’ll mention that if someone wants to learn how to set up one of these tripwire funnels, that you were talking about, as just a good stable funnel then, you just created some training for our Startup Society members. And so, people can become a Startup Society member to get access to that, and learn how to set up one of those tripwire funnels.

Tony Rulli:

Yeah. I’m excited to help people there. I’m in the Facebook group I’m ready to chat.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah, we’re just about to kick this off and I’m excited. Like I mentioned earlier on, you love teaching. So, I’m excited to have you in the group, and let the members ask you all their Facebook ads questions. I think it’s going to be fantastic. So, thank you again. This has been great.

Tony Rulli:

Awesome. Thanks Gillian.

Gillian Perkins:

Thanks so much for listening to this episode of Work Less, Earn More.

Connect with me 

Gillian Perkins:

Now, here’s what I want you to do next, take a screenshot of the episode you’re listening to right now, and share it on Instagram Stories. And, when you do, make sure you tag me @gillianzperkins, so I can see that you’re listening. Sharing on Stories is going to help more people find this podcast, so that they too can learn how to work less, earn more, and take back their lives. And if you really love the show, then head over to Apple Podcasts, and leave a review to give it a boost.

Gillian Perkins:

Not only will this help the show out, but it’s also going to give you the chance to win a 12 month membership to Startup Society. Each week, I’ll be picking one winner. To enter, all you need to do is post your review on Apple Podcasts and be sure to include your Instagram handle, so we can send you a DM if you win.

Gillian Perkins:

Okay, now, let’s wrap this up. I’m Gillian Perkins, and until next week, stay focused and take action.

    Sean McMullin

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