Selling Courses on Facebook: How to Lower Your CPL & CPA

Selling Courses on Facebook: How to Lower Your CPL & CPA

In this blog, we will roll up our sleeves and get down and durttty with 3 steps you can take to tune up your Facebook® Ad creative to slash your Cost Per Lead (CPL) and Cost Per Acquisition (CPA).

But first a word of wording. The goal of your Facebook Ad Campaign is not to simply get the lowest CPL (or CPA if you are offering a mini-front end product or immediate upsell). The goal is to produce the most cost-effective leads which go on to provide the highest lifetime value.

And by lifetime value, I mean the leads that will go on to convert for offers further up your Perfect-Fit Client Value Ascension Roadmap.

It will take time to establish the metrics and data required to determine the leads most likely to do so but it is essential to have this front of mind when undertaking any optimization actions.

This is why sometimes an $8 lead is far more attractive and will provide a greater Return on Ad Spend than a $0.50 lead.

When it comes to optimizing your Facebook® Ads the fact is, there are no absolutes. There is no one type of image, video, headline, or body copy that will outperform another type every time. 

What will work best for you is dependent on your business, what you’re promoting, who your audience is, the problem you’re solving, and even down to your audience’s level of awareness about the problem, the solution, and the method by which you’re bringing about the transformation. 

That’s why I want to introduce a framework to think about your Facebook® ad creative optimizations. Because even the best Facebook advertisers can’t pick the winning version of a good ad with any greater certainty than a flip of a coin. 


Table of Contents

The truth is, the only way to know what is going to perform best for you is to test. And the only people that can give you the feedback that matters are your audience. 

But unless you have a specific process to follow, and understand what all the metrics mean, the optimization process can be confusing, so that’s exactly what we are going to look at today.

We will start with how best to set up your ad campaigns to facilitate the optimization process. From here we will look at optimizing your images and videos, before finally providing a framework for optimizing your Facebook® Ad copy.

What we will cover today is one of the most fundamental skills required to run profitable Facebook® Ad campaigns. No matter how good you get at drafting ad copy and designing your images or shooting your videos, not alone will you always be able to improve, but the fact is you are always going to have to continue optimizing even the best Facebook® Ads.

With Facebook® Ad there’s no such thing as set and forget, there’s no such thing as coming up with the one ad that works forever. Even if you have a good ad straight out the gate, you are still going to have to optimize it over time, because ads decay, and that one ad will never survive and perform optimally long-term. 

When you nail this skill, it’s going to guarantee that you can take losing campaigns and turn them into winning campaigns and take winning campaigns and turn them into home run campaigns.

How to Set Up Your Facebook® Ad Campaigns to Facilitate the Optimization Process?

There’s a famous phrase when it comes to selling, which is ABC, that stands for “Always Be Closing”. From marketing and specifically from a Facebook ads campaign perspective, I like to say ABT, “Always Be Testing”. 

But to get your testing and your optimization process in place, the first thing you need to do is you need to start with the right foundation. The first part of ensuring this is making sure you have multiple ads in play. 

This might seem a very simple point to make but you have no idea how many times I have been contacted by a frustrated Facebook Advertiser who wasn’t getting results and when I opened up their Facebook® Ad campaign there was one lonely little ad trying its best but failing to live up to expectation.

When I’m starting on a lower budget (anywhere up to $250 per day), I will normally have two to three unique versions of the ad copy including headline and body copy. In addition, I like to start with at least two versions of the image or video. That will give you a total of four to six ads. 

If you are starting with two versions of the Ad copy I would draft one long-form and one short-form, to begin with. Properly optimized long-form content will nearly always outperform short-form content, but initially, it will be easier to start getting conversions with your short-form content. The other thing that I love about short-form content is that it puts more of an emphasis on the headline. It gives you an extremely good test of how solid your headline is.

My normal starting point for a low-budget campaign is three ad copy variations: one short, one medium, and one long format. When these three versions of ad copy are mixed with two image or video versions you have a starting point of 6 Ad variations which is perfect.

With any more than four to six versions on lower budgets, Facebook will struggle to build the data required to assess each of the ads. It’ll favor one ad variation and push that over the rest. This means you are unable to make a solid determination as to the effectiveness of the copy in the other ads. 

If you start with less than four to six ad variations it’ll take you way too long to test your creative. 

In addition to this, you will ideally have at least two ad sets. That’s two ad sets targeting two different audiences. In practice I build the 6 ads in the first ad set and then simply duplicate them all over the second ad set, meaning the only additional work you need to undertake is to update the audience settings.

How to Approach Optimizing your Facebook Ad Campaigns?

Now you’ve launched your ads. When will you have enough data to start the optimization process? You want to give your ads at least three to five days to settle down. You won’t have any firm data before that. Sometimes ads are wildly successful in the first couple of days. Other times, it can take them a couple of days to catch, to gain traction, and for Facebook to figure out who best to show the ad to. 

Ideally, you would let your ads exit the learning phase before starting the optimization process. You exit the learning phase after 50 of the events that you’ve optimized the ad for have occurred. That may be page visits, conversions, button clicks, or an event like Lead Magnet registration.

If you have a mini front-end product, you could be optimizing your ads for the purchase of the mini front-end product or events further down the funnel.

After 50 of whatever event you specify your ad will exit the learning phase. Sometimes on lower budgets, especially when you’re starting with $20 a day or $30 a day, it might not be possible to wait until you exit to start the optimization process. 

Whichever situation you find yourself in after that initial three to five-day period, you then need to sit down and analyze your stats and come up with a hypothesis about what needs to be changed.

There are lots of variables, but you need to look at them and ask yourself: What do I think is wrong? And what do I think if I improved would improve the results of this ad? You could look at the image or the video first, you could look at the headline first. 

And remember, your goal is not always to get the cheapest front-end outcome. Your goal is to get the leads and front-end clients that go on to convert on your primary offers further up your Value Ascension Roadmap. Initially, however, cost per lead will probably be the best metric to work to. 

When you review your numbers you will start to see trends based on which copy and media element is performing best. This is why it is so important to start with multiple ads as it gives you instant data to work with. 

You want to optimize for the action furthest down the funnel that you have reliable data on. And what I mean by that is you may not have sufficient data initially to make a call on which ad is converting best, but there will be other clues like the click-through rate, page visits, or even the CPM. 

In the early stages of an ad, I very often optimize for page visits as opposed to the conversion objective, like opt-in, because you have to let Facebook figure out who is most likely to take the action that you want. And if you overprescribe your objectives initially, it can limit Facebook's ability to learn. You have to feed Facebook with data for it to work best.

Remember, one of the most important things about optimization is to never kill the golden goose. If you have an ad that’s getting you results, don’t make any changes to that specific ad. Duplicate the ad and optimize the duplicate because if you make a change that decreases ad performance it is almost impossible to get it back to its prior performance levels.

How to Optimize Your Facebook® Ad Images for Higher Conversions?

When approaching images for your Facebook® Campaigns I always, start with a native first strategy. Until you know the exact words and triggers that convert you want to blend in to stand out. 

What do I mean by native first? If you think about the average person scrolling through Facebook®, they’re used to seeing photographs from their friends, and family members. They’re used to seeing images that look like they belong on Facebook®. 

When you include a graphically designed image with your Facebook® ad, straight away people know it’s an ad and initially, that can create some friction. 

Obviously whether or not it’s a bad thing that your target audience on Facebook® knows it’s an ad depends on their level of awareness of you, and what you are offering.

If somebody is predisposed to consuming your content and you have brand recognition, as in your audience recognizes your logo, very often it can be a good idea to include your logo. 

But if you’re advertising to a cold audience who has no idea who you are you are best to go the native route. When going with a native image it is important to have some contextual link between the photograph and the overall message of your ad. 

Ideally, your image would speak to the transformation or your authority to help someone achieve the transformation. It could be a photo of you doing the very thing that you’re promoting, someone else doing it, or it could be you helping somebody achieve the transformation on offer.

And remember, what’s the purpose of the image or the video? The goal of the image or video in a Facebook® Ad is to capture your Perfect-Fit Clients attention. It has to stop the scroll. You have to have an image or video that stops somebody in their tracks. 

If you are going with a graphically designed image, what are some of the ways that we could take the principles we’ve discussed and apply them? One common way to achieve this is to use an image of what it is you’re offering. 

If your lead magnet is a checklist or a three-step cheat sheet, for example, you could have a picture of the checklist maybe with the pages fanned out. Obviously, not so visible that people could read exactly what’s on them, but enough to give them a sense of what they will get. Or maybe it could be a picture of you holding the lead magnet.

Bottom line, the best Facebook® Ad consultants can’t predict the winning creative between two well-performing ads. The best and the only way to find out is to put it out there and test it. And that’s why you always want to start with two options so that you can see which one is winning, which one is losing.

This will give you the data you need to start making optimization decisions. When you start seeing clear winners and losers, you can either tweak to improve the existing image, or you can introduce entirely new images, but always have a hypothesis in mind and track your changes over time so that you have a record of what has worked, what didn’t work, and make sure that you don’t end up down dead ends testing something that you’ve already tested. It happens more frequently than you think!

How to Optimize Your Facebook® Ad Videos for Higher Conversions?

There are three different types of video ads that you can deploy. 

  1. The text and image-based video. 
  2. B-roll style where you voiceover stock video or your video relevant to your promotion. 
  3. ”Talking head” style direct to camera 

The easiest is the text and image-based video with some musical background. And these are often where you take your ad images and combine them into a short video. Canva enables you to do this easily. 

You could also do this in PowerPoint, or any of Adobe family apps. In some ways, this is creating a video for the sake of a video and leveraging the fact that as people scroll, the video will start playing and the motion will more than likely stop them in their scroll. This is a good approach and an excellent place to start. 

If you’re serious about getting the best results for your ads, I would invest time and effort in having you in the video speaking. This will build rapport and increase trust more than the other two options. 

But here’s the thing, when you’re drafting your script for the video, the script is as important as your ad copy, if not even more so. And if you’re using video, you have to spend as much time dialing in your script as you do your ad copy.

Video Ads can be hard to get right and often will be likely to produce lower conversions initially but if you persevere you will be investing wisely and it is a skill that once cracked you will reap massive rewards

Whenever I talk about video ads the first question I normally get asked is, what length should these videos be? 

Your video should be no longer than 60 seconds, 45 seconds, if possible, and ideally even shorter than that. The shorter the better. 

Your script will depend very much on your audience and the steps you have taken to engage them earlier in your campaign. Do they know you? Are they aware of the problem you solve? Do they know the method you use to solve the problem? Based on this, you will have to prioritize the positioning required in the video. 

Facebook® Ad Video Script – Phase 1 – The Problem 

(Max 20 Seconds)

The opening part of the video needs to address the problem that you solve. This has to answer the question for your audience what’s in this for me? Why should I listen to the rest of this video?

Start with a big hook. They need to understand the problem that you are promising to solve. Through your explanation of the pain they face, you are building a connection. 

This should be no longer than 20 seconds in duration. 

Facebook® Ad Video Script – Phase 2 – Authority 

(Max 5 Seconds)

In the next phase, you have to build authority. You have to answer the question why should they listen to you?

This is not about telling them that you’re brilliant, but it’s about subtly positioning how you have helped people just like them to get the result you are promising in the past. 

It’s demonstrating how your previous experience and knowledge are invaluable and instilling confidence that you are the person who can finally help them break through and get the result that they want.

This phase should be no longer than 5 seconds in duration. 

Facebook® Ad Video Script – Phase 3 – Solution 

(Max 20 Seconds)

In Phase 1 you’ve introduced the problem, now you need to explain the solution to this problem. Ultimately the solution is to sign up for the Lead Magnet or purchase the product on offer but you have to give them some insights into what that solution is.

Having given them insights into your strategies to solve their problem you then link it to the lead magnet or product that you are offering.

Facebook® Ad Video Script – Phase 4 – Call To Action 

(Max 15 Seconds)

And then finally, comes the call to action. You have to give them the exact steps that they need to take to get their hands on the solution to their problem. If possible it is massively powerful to work in a description of the transformation that they could achieve with your Lead Magnet or product and how their life will improve.

Now let’s look at the format of the video. Most videos are based on a 16:9 resolution with the two most common formats being 1280X720 or 1920X1080 

Videos Ads on Facebook® work best in a 1:1 square resolution so 1280X1280 or 1920X1920.

If you record your video in a 16:9 format the best approach is to place the video in the middle of a square background with an attention-grabbing headline at the top and subtitle in the space underneath the video. 

One of the big reasons why this is so effective is because the square shape takes up more space on the Facebook® feed. This is especially true on mobile where the majority of your ad views will come from.

Square video ads take up the majority of a mobile screen when scrolling and you can use the headline above the ad to catch people’s attention as they scroll in a manner that the native Ad headline doesn’t. It’ll take up the whole screen. You want to command that area. 

Experiment with the color of the background for the square ad our goal is to stop the scroll and I have found that brighter colors tend to gain more attention than softer pastel colors. 

And finally, your subtitles. And, I know this can take time, but if you can animate the words by including emojis, underlining specific words, or even just bolding some keywords it makes a huge difference to your ad performance

Copywriting Framework to Look your Facebook® Ads Through

Your Ad Copy will make or break the success of your Facebook® Ad Campaigns. Unfortunately, nobody can tell you what will work best for you. 

What I can tell you however is apply the principles from the earlier sections in this series – Profitable Facebook Ads: Crafting A Knockout Offer and Your Step-By-Step Formula to Landing Page Optimization and Profitable Facebook Ad Campaigns you are going to be 5 steps ahead of your competition.

  1. Connect with your audience through their self-interest. 

  2. Answer the question: What’s in it for me? 

  3. Demonstrate that you can solve a very specific pain point. 

  4. Promise a specific outcome, a highly desirable outcome. 

  5. Painting a compelling future, 

  6. Make a compelling offer, that somebody would feel stupid to turn down

But now I want to dig a little deeper into a framework you can apply when thinking about drafting and optimizing your Facebook® Ad copy. Using this framework will ensure that your ads jump off the timeline and grab your Perfect-Fit Clients by the collar….in a good way.

There are four components to an irresistible offer that make people sit up and pay attention.

These components sit nicely together in an equation described excellently by Alex Hormozi. I like to call this the Shut Up And Take My Money Equation.

This equation can be deployed in paid offers when drafting sales page copy, or they can be deployed in your ad and landing page copy for no-cost offers. 

Remember that the offer of your ad is to get people to take action and visit your opt-in page and prime them for the next step. If your offer is not strong enough to get them to invest the time, effort, and energy to visit your landing page, your ad will fall flat on its face. 

There are two drivers on top of the equation and two drivers on the bottom of the equation. The goal is to increase the two drivers on top of the line and decrease the two drivers below the line.

So What Are The Four Elements of The Equation?

Irresistible Offer Equation – Part 1 – Primary Outcome

This is your main promise. This is what your Perfect-Fit Client wants. It’s the expression and feeling and experiences that your Perfect-Fit Client has envisaged in their mind. This is the gap between their current reality and the life that they want. 

Your job is to help them bridge the gap and to paint a vivid picture of what their life will be like once they achieve their innermost desires. But what is it that people desire? Well, Josh Kaufman explains five core human drivers that influence behavior as follows:

Core Human Driver 1 – Drive To Acquire

This is the drive to acquire, this is the desire to collect material and immaterial things like a car or influence. While it is normally easy to see how this driver applies to our offer we have to ensure that we fully understand what it is that our Perfect-Fit Client wants to “acquire”.

Remember not everyone feels driven to acquire a Ferrari. We have to be extremely careful that the promises we make are fully aligned with (…firstly… what we can deliver) what our Perfect-Fit Client truly desires. 

Core Human Driver 2 – Drive To Bond 

This is the desire to love and to feel valued in your relationships with others. While a driver like, acquire, might be easier to see it applies to our lead magnets and offers, of equal strength could be the drive to bond, either through connecting into your community or helping people connect and bond with others in their life. 

Core Human Driver 3 – Drive To Learn 

This is the desire to satisfy our curiosity. As Course Creators and Membership Site Owners we might get excited at the prospect of seeing the Drive To Learn, but a huge word of warning, most people don’t want to learn more. They want the outcome of what learning will bring about. 

Core Human Driver 4 – Drive To Defend

This is the desire to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our property. The drive to defend is a massive, massive trigger. Remember, people will do more to avoid pain than they will to attain pleasure? How will what you’re offering to prevent future pain for your Perfect-Fit Client?

Core Human Driver 5 – Drive To Feel

And then finally, a drive to feel, which is the desire for emotional experiences like pleasure or excitement. In many ways, the ultimate transformation that you are providing will end up here. Why do people want increased business success? why do they want to make more money? Why do they want to learn more? Why do they want to defend? Well, more often than not it is to secure or protect a future pleasurable state.

You need to weave each of the drivers above through your offer understanding how what you’re describing is triggering one of the above drivers.

The more drivers your offer connects with and the better you communicate with those drivers, the more attractive you will become. You might not necessarily be able to hit on all the core human drivers. 

But the more you hit on, the more that you will connect with people’s innermost desires, and the more that you will move people to take the action that you want.

Irresistible Offer Equation – Part 2 – Perceived Likelihood of Achievement

The second above-the-line element is the perceived likelihood of achievement. The more certainty you can provide as to the likelihood of success, the more chance that they will take the action that you prescribe. 

There are lots of ways you can do this including risk reversals, guarantees, showing how you’ve helped others achieve the promised result building authority, and social proof

One of the strongest ways to reinforce this for people is through sharing success stories of your previous clients as you not just say that you can produce a result but you are demonstrating how you have achieved this for others.

Look through your ad copy and identify where you’ve spoken to the likelihood of achievement. How are you setting them up for success and providing them with the belief that they need? And remember, this is belief in themselves, belief in you, and belief in the process or the methodology that you’re using. 

Part 1 & 2 sit above the line of the Irresistible Offer Equation and to increase the likelihood of someone accepting our offer we want to increase and maximize both of these elements.

Irresistible Offer Equation – Part 3 – Time Delay

How can you guarantee quick wins? We’re all impatient. We all want results right now. What is the very shortest time frame that you can promise some results? 

It doesn’t even need to be the full transformation. It could be just the first stop on your journey. If you can decrease the time delay that somebody will achieve their dream outcome and you can also give them a guaranteed likelihood of achievement, now things are starting to heat up. 

In fact, fast beats free. As in, the monetary cost is not as important as the timelines to achieving the promised transformation. This is one of the reasons why I always say people need to be able to consume and achieve the transformation of a lead magnet within 15 minutes of gaining access to it. 

If it’s any longer than that, people will lose interest. And more importantly, you can’t provide a promise a speedy result.

Irresistible Offer Equation – Part 4 – Effort & Sacrifice

The fourth element, the second below the line, is effort and sacrifice. I said it once and I’ll say it again, people are lazy. They all want results right now without lifting a finger. 

This is where streamlining your process, getting to the core of the issue, and cutting through as much of the clutter as possible is absolutely essential. If you can show people how your process can save them energy and effort and sacrifice, they will love you for it. But remember, this can’t just be empty promises. 

This is one of the reasons why the success of your Facebook® ad campaign is highly dependent not just on your ads and your Facebook ad strategy, but on the overall premise and promise of your funnel. 

You have to make sure that you have thought about the steps that you’re giving people. Cut through all the pain and effort people need to go through to get the result you promise, and package it in an extremely easy, usable, and frictionless process.

The combination of how you verbalize these four elements in your ad, will in a large part, dictate the success of your ad. From an optimization perspective, continuously refining your copy through these lenses is massively powerful. 

You may not be able to bring all four elements into play, and that’s fine, but when you do, your ad copy will take off. And every time you tweak your ad copy, you need to ask yourself the question, have I increased the dream outcome or the perceived likelihood of achievement? Have I decreased the perceived time delay or the effort and sacrifice? 

If you can’t see how you can do any of these, then perhaps you have to find a different angle or approach to your Facebook® ads and what you’re promoting.

And remember…

Optimization is a process. There’s no wrong and right. It’s a massive experiment. I outlined my process for approaching the optimization of your landing page in the last video of this series, and it still applies here. 

An approach to optimization:

  1. Research
  2. Hypothesis
  3. Prioritization
  4. Testing
  5. Learning

Be methodical and always keep an optimization diary. Document your hypothesis, the changes made, and the results, so that once you’ve conducted your experiment, you don’t fall into the trap of repeating the same experiment in the future.

So today we’ve looked at an approach for fine-tuning your Facebook® ads. Remember, this is a skill that you have to develop over time. There’s no one-size-fits-all. The most important thing is that you have a structured approach, you learn to read the data, and act accordingly. 

We started with setting your ads up to facilitate optimization, e looked at some ideas for optimizing your Facebook® ad images and video, and finally, how to think about optimizing your copy. 

So let me know what challenges you face with your Facebook ads, whether you’re just getting started or a seasoned pro looking to scale your ad campaigns.