Facebook Lead Ads: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly...& The Beautiful?

12/04/2015 12:43 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

On June 25th 2015, Facebook made a fairly small, yet significant announcement that it was testing a new method of advertising on Facebook with a small group of businesses. Just a few months later, in October, Facebook officially launched their new ad format, called Facebook Lead Ads. Many small biz owners, ad agencies, and marketing firms have been anxiously awaiting the release of the new ad medium, with the hopes that they can generate more leads on Facebook, as the new format would require less effort for its users to submit their contact information.

What is so special about Facebook Leads Ads that would cause this anticipation and excitement?

It's the ease and quickness of a Facebook user to be able to respond to a native Facebook ad on their mobile phone, and submit their contact information in as little as two clicks, without the need to type their name, email address, or any other relevant info into the form fields that the advertiser may be requesting.

Prior to this development, many companies invited their Facebook audiences to click on their ad and direct them to a landing page on their website. However, this is akin to going to a social party, walking in with your business cards and signs, and then inviting each person you meet to leave the party and go visit your office down the street. Even if those party people loved what you had to say or offer, do they really want to leave the party immediately and be forced to go elsewhere?

Facebook is like this party, and Lead Ads makes it easy for advertisers to hangout and prospect for new business without forcing people to leave the party. Smart right?

Yes it is...and there are many good things about the format, but there's some potential problems with the concept, and one potential problem so ugly, that business owners are basically forced to address it in order for Facebook Lead Ads to work effectively.

Facebook Lead Ads: The Good

Users Stay on Facebook

As mentioned above in the party example, nobody likes the guy who goes around trying to do business in a social atmosphere. Like Mark Zuckerberg's character said in the movie, "The Social Network", many people believed that advertising on Facebook might negatively impact the user experience and cause its user engagement to plummet.

However, Facebook has successfully integrated advertising into its platform without significantly damaging its user base. It has continually tested the most effective methods to satisfy the needs of everyone involved: their users, their advertisers, and even its own needs.

That's what may be the most successful aspect of the new Lead Ads, at least from Facebook's perspective, is that it keeps its users on Facebook. Think about it... Does Facebook REALLY want its users to click on an ad and leave their website or app to go somewhere else? Or would they rather keep them engaged, and have them possibly click on SEVERAL ads during their sessions? Or get them to message their friends, and get those friends to get back on Facebook, which can result in additional ad clicks? It's good for Facebook and for their users to be able to stay social and still engage with its advertisers without having to leave Facebook's ecosystem.

Top Facebook consultant, Jon Loomer, made similar points when asked about the benefits of the new Lead Ads...

"One of the major hurdles for marketers looking to build their email list with Facebook ads is that they need to send users to a landing page. Facebook reported that the average website takes eight seconds to load when a link is clicked from the social network. That time is eliminated, and it immediately makes a conversion more likely. Additionallly, mobile is an issue when driving users to a landing page. Is the landing page mobile responsive? Even if it is, completing a form is clunky the old fashioned way.

No Need to type = 2 click Leads

Traditionally, a Facebook user would see an ad, click the link to visit advertiser's website, wait for the web page to load, and then be forced to type their information into form fields so an advertiser could send them information, or to deliver their products.

However, with the new Lead Ads, the user can click the ad, and a small overlay will appear with the form fields already populated with data from the user's Facebook profile. Assuming the user is comfortable submitting their name and the email address associated with their account, they can simply tap their screen a 2nd time to complete the process. Yes, it is that simple... a FB user can quickly hit 2 links and become a hot lead for an advertiser.

Likely to be Quality Data

With Facebook being so integrated with people's smart phones, the authenticity of people profile information is likely very high, meaning that the vast majority of Facebook's 1 Billion daily users are giving their full names and best email addresses to be associated with their accounts. Many entrepreneurs and advertisers are excited about the ability to collect quality lead information from Facebook users. This means the new Lead Ads should be delivering highly-accurate data into the advertiser's CRM systems, and should result in higher deliverability of the advertiser's emails. Should is the operative word, as the ugly problem I describe later in the story deals with email deliverability.

No Need to Create a Landing Page

The new Facebook Lead Ads system gives its users the ability to share their contact info with a business without having to leave Facebook in just 2 clicks. This means the user's may not ever need to visit that company's website in order to engage and communicate with that business.

Prior to this new ad format, a business would need to create a relevant and informative landing page in order to collect the lead's contact information. Now, a company can add infuse its information right into the FB ad itself, without having to hire designers or developers to create custom landing pages. Additionally, with mobile phones taking longer to load webpages, it makes it a better user experience for the FB user as well, as Lead Ads creates a near-instant experience.

Facebook Lead Ads: The Bad

Users stay on Facebook!

Keeping its users on Facebook is very good for.... Facebook! Admittedly, its probably in the best interests of the users as well, as it keeps people in the social framework, which is why they are on Facebook in the first place. Ever wanted to just buy a product and the first place you went to search was on Facebook? Not likely...

However, keeping users on Facebook is bad for the advertiser. Lead ads largely prevents users from visiting the company's landing page or website, which lowers the engagement of that company's brand and messaging, and excludes the potential opportunities of upsells or additional product purchases.

Additionally, advertisers aren't able to "pixel" or drop a web browser "cookie" and retarget the lead on Facebook. Remarketing has traditionally been a tremendously low-cost, but highly effective medium to acquire new leads, customers, and revenue for many small businesses.

Yes, Facebook does give the user an option to continue to a destination that you direct them to, but based on initial evidence, this only occurs a minority of the time.

Lead Engagement & Lead Quality May Be Lower

Due to the ease of submitting their contact info so easily, without having to visit a landing page, the lead may not really understand the value of whatever is being offered to them or remember to check their emails from that business later. Really good marketing should persuade interested people to move forward AND influence disinterested people to shy away from the offer.

Additionally, if the business can't engage the lead via email or their branding, how valuable is that lead? You may collect those leads, but if they never open your emails, then what? Worse yet, is that they don't remember your business in the future and either unsubscribe or mark your email as spam.

Smart marketers and companies understand that ROI matters most. Do you care if your business generates thousands of new leads, but doesn't lead to new sales?

When asked about his initial testing regarding converting leads into sales, Jon Loomer had this to say,

"I've had more than 10,000 submissions with lead ads so far, and I can say that they pass the initial quality tests. Deliverability tends to be very high. Note that if you use single opt-in normally, you already likely had some quality issues. So far, I've only had one person email asking how I got their email address, not remembering the process.

Overall, though, this is a very small sample size. My goal is for my leads to eventually turn into sales. It's a funnel, so the jury is still out on the quality of these leads. But early responses are good, and larger sample reports are bound to be released soon.

Since it will be easier for Facebook users to share their contact information, it may dilute the quality of leads being generated for the business, and using Lead Ads may not be the right advertising campaign for them. Any company that requires a sales team may want to avoid Lead Ads, as salespeople may waste their precious time talking with tire kickers and curiosity seekers, as the new ad format makes it so easy to opt in. Facebook does allow its advertisers to further qualify prospects by asking for more that names, emails, and numbers, and advertisers can even add custom questions to their lead gen form overlays.

Initially, it appears that the positives of Lead Ads outweighs the potential negatives. However, there is ONE big elephant in the room that needs to be addressed.

Facebook Lead Ads: The Ugly

With the ease of 2 click optins, the greater likelihood of better contact information, and no need for a landing page, you may be asking, "What could be UGLY about Facebook Lead Ads?"

Imagine it's getting late at the party, and a pretty girl approaches you. She says she'd love to connect with you afterward and tells you all the reasons why you'd want to meet her later, as she can't leave her girlfriends right now. She asks for your contact info, and you excitedly give her your name and email address. She insists that she's going to send you a message later that night with her location, so you can rendezvous.

You nervously check your email inbox, anticipating her message. The minutes tick by... minutes turn into hours... it's 3 am and you've given up hope that she'll ever contact you. You wind up feeling disappointed and frustrated over the next couple of days. However, several days later, she finally emails you.

As a guy, you're still excited right? WRONG. In the time it took her to finally send you her message, you've already met 2 other pretty girls with similar offers, except they followed up with you immediately, like they said they would.

Who would you trust after that? You've got options right? You can connect with 2 pretty girls and explore the possibilities with them, or you can risk investing your time with someone who doesn't do what they say would do.

Pop quiz, hotshot... what do you do? You delete the first girl's email and blacklist her email from your inbox... right? Perhaps.

However, in the world of business with millions of businesses competing for the same dollars on Facebook, consumers are in full control. Statistics show that if you don't engage your new leads promptly, interest wanes and your ability to convert them into customers can quickly disintegrate. According to a Harvard Business Review article"...firms that tried to contact potential customers within an hour of receiving a query were nearly seven times as likely to qualify the lead."

This is what makes the new Facebook Lead Ads... UGLY. You advertise on Facebook using Lead Ads competing against other companies, you win the users attention, and even convert them into a lead.

However, with the current system, the advertiser is forced to manually download these new leads and import them manually into whatever email system they use to communicate with their subscribers. Even if a business owner had the time and resources to manually handle this process, who would want to? By the time a business downloads and imports these lists into an email system, the lead could be long gone and looking at other offers.

It would be a very inefficient and cumbersome procedure, if everyone was forced to do this. I couldn't imagine that Facebook would launch this new ad format without some mechanism to follow up with those new leads immediately. To my surprise, at the time of this writing, this is exactly the case! Currently Facebook does not have its own native system for advertisers to immediately communicate with its Lead Ad respondents!

Facebook Lead Ads: The Beautiful

So I started researching for an automated solution for our own company and our clients, and I discovered that Facebook does allow developers to utilize its API to connect these new Lead Ads to an advertiser's CRM or autoresponder service, and requires 3rd party solutions.

The good news is that a few companies have already rolled out their software solutions, so that when a Lead Ad generates a new lead, their systems will automatically send that lead's contact info to the business's database without manual intervention.

However, the bad news is that some companies are exploiting this and charging excessively for their services. In fact, one company is charging as much as 5% of their Facebook advertising budgets! So if your business was using FB Lead Ads, and your monthly budget was $10,000, then it would cost you $500 per month just to use their "connection" service! Wouldn't you rather use that money to generate more leads versus using it to automatically import your existing leads? Doesn't sound fair to me.

Most of the other companies are offering their solutions for flat-rate monthly fees, and are listed below, in addition to the 5% company. According to this
, here's a quick list of Facebook partners offering Lead Ads connection services:

However, upon further investigation, my research revealed that another company is about to launch their solution, and, for a limited time, this company is going to offer their solution at a highly-reduced price point.

I reached out to the owner of ConnectLeads.io, Wilco de Kreij (pronounced as DE-CRAY), to inquire about the efficacy of his software and if it was a viable solution to the ugly Lead Ads problems. According to Mr de Kreij, over 30 companies beta-tested his system in conjunction with Facebook Lead Ad campaigns, of which 100% of them were able to successfully integrate their Lead Ad campaigns with their CRM systems using ConnectLeads.

After further dialogue, I referenced some of the "bad" elements of Lead Ads, like whether it's better to use Lead Ads or to use the traditional "Clicks to Website" ad format. Here's what Wilco de Kreij said,

"We've been comparing various Facebook Lead Ads campaigns to normal "click-to-website" ads... sending people to a lead/opt-in page... and on average the cost-per-lead is around half of what is was before. Plus, in various cases Facebook is giving the new Lead Ads a higher reach."

When I asked him about what makes ConnectLeads different, unique or better than the competition, Wilco revealed several important features:

  • Their solution isn't limited to just a few CRMs, like Infusionsoft, and autoresponder services, like GetResponse, but it currently integrates with over 20+ systems, including webinar platforms like GoToWebinar and WebinarJam.
  • Their solution includes HTML-form support, which means the software should work with any autoresponder service.
  • ConnectLeads will be available at a discounted price for a limited time, when it launches on Dec 4th, 2015, which would make it the least expensive solution on market at this point in time.
  • Lastly, Wilco de Kreij plans to reveal what he calls, "ninja Lead Ad secrets" that has generated leads for as little as $0.06 per lead, as a way to support their customers on how to best use Facebook Lead Ads successfully.

His company even created this infographic to visually illustrate the Lead Ad process flow, which is embedded with his permission:

At this point, it seems that Facebook Lead Ads are very popular so far, and that Facebook is planning to expand its reach to include Desktop feed ads, Video Ads, and Carousel Ads.

With Facebook evolving into a data-driven treasure trove of user-generated information, its becoming easier than ever to target the exact audience a business believes to be the best candidates for its products or services. With Facebook Lead Ads, it's now easier than ever to set up an ad campaign to generate new leads. With integration services like ConnectLeads, SyncSumo and others leading the way with email engagement and automated lead connectivity, now entrepreneurs just need to answer the age-old question of "How can I convert these new leads into new customers and sales?"

Are you using Facebook Lead Ads? If so, what have your results been? What has your ROI been so far compared to traditional webiste click campaigns? Love to hear your thoughts!