Today I’m going to show you a simple process to build a Facebook ad campaign for your course that can get 1-10 new students within 30 days, and point you in the direction you need to become profitable (aka ‘Ready-to-Scale’).
Here’s what it looks like:
This is the same process I used to generate 57 conversations that turned $188.10 in ad spend into $2,340 in sales in 1 month.
Most of the revenue was generated through direct invoicing. Here’s a more complete picture of the results of this campaign:
|Total Ad Spend||Cost per Conversation||# of Customers||Cost per Customer||Revenue Generated (Front End)||Revenue Generated (Back End)|
Because this was a new workshop and funnel that I wanted to test, many of the sales happened simply through Facebook Messenger conversations like this:
In the end, this 3x3x3 Method campaign led to 19 x $47 workshop participants and 2 x $747 bar school students = $2,387 in 1 month.
(Plus this was local and in-person which is a harder sell than online courses because of time and location limitations)
Is this crazy revenue? No. But it’s a stark contrast to how many course creators step into the world of online advertising — at a huge loss.
It also proves that this particular funnel WORKS (weekly live workshops that teach a specific discipline with a pitch to sell our higher ticket course at the end of each session).
In other words, this campaign has a very good chance of scaling up profitably.
If you want to build a ‘Ready-to-Scale’ Facebook ad campaign for your course or online training, THIS is the strategy that will help you do it.
Grab my 3x3x3 Method Template with fill-in-the-blanks + an example of a 3x3x3 campaign we made for a client:
Then follow these steps to do it:
- What’s the objective? Conversations, Leads, or Sales.
- The 4 Clarifying Roadmapping Questions
- The Simple 3x3x3 Campaign
- Step 1: 3x 3x Prospecting Audiences
- Step 2: 3x Ad Copy ‘Hooks’ Variations
- Step 3: 3x Low-Hanging Fruit Creative
- Let it run for 4 days
- Optimize Using Signpost Data
And here’s what it looks like, in practice:
What’s The Objective?
Where you’re at in the lifecycle of your course or training program will determine what objective you want to optimize for.
If you’re at the very beginning and have no students, you’ll want to optimize for conversations (that become sales).
This will give you the golden opportunity to mine prospects for insights (i.e. do they want the training you’re offering? If not, what would they like instead?)
Having real conversations with your audience is the best way to learn how you can develop your courses, and enroll them in a journey.
If you’ve had 5 – 50 students through your program, but this is your first time running ads on Facebook and Instagram, you’ll want to optimize for leads (that become sales).
For example, here’s the winning ad that generated the best results for our local workshop campaign:
Simple copy. Strong social proof. Start a conversation.
Once you understand how much it costs you to get a lead (their email address), you can begin to do the backend math to see how long it takes those leads to become students.
Finally, if you’ve had 50+ students go through your program, it’s time to optimize for sales.
Here’s an example of an ad that’s optimized for sales. See if you can spot the differences:
Scarcity. Urgency. Value-stacked benefits. Incentivized to make a purchase.
(The best part about getting a high-performing ad is you can use it again and again. Even if it fatigues, you can pause it, use it in a year or so, and it will likely perform well again!)
|Caveat: Remember this is just one simple, but powerful campaign. You can always have one 3x3x3 campaign going for each objective.|
|Bonus: Get the 3x3x3 Method Template I use to predictably build high-converting Facebook ad campaigns again and again. It’s the simple way to get clear direction on where you want your campaigns to go and how to get there. You can access it for free here.|
The 4 Roadmapping Questions
The truth of paid traffic is that many course creators aren’t ready to profitably run ads to their programs.
At least not at scale.
There’s a leak somewhere in the funnel — whether that’s an unclear offer, poor sales follow-up, or anything in between.
The Roadmapping In Action process is a way to get clear on:
- Where we are now
- Where we want to go
- What ‘leaks’ we need to fix to become profitable
So let’s dive into the 4 Roadmapping Questions…
Ask These Questions To Get Clear On Where We Are + Where We Want To Go (Aka the Roadmap)
Here are the questions you want to ask yourself to get clear on where you are now and where you want to go (as far as paid traffic goes):
Want A ‘Fill-In-The-Blank’ Template of this Strategy?
Click the button below to access the same 3x3x3 Method template I use to build campaigns that generate $11 for every $1 spent.
And here’s how to answer these questions:
- What’s your cost to get an email subscriber?
- What’s your target?
To find your ideal target cost per email subscriber (lead), all you need to do is look at how many email leads you’ve received in the last 60 days, and how many sales you’ve made.
This will give you your close ratio, which will help you determine how much you’ll want to spend on a lead.
Example: 200 emails in the last 60 days. And I’ve acquired 7 students. Therefore my close ratio is 3.5%.
For your Roadmapping In Action campaign, you’ll want to at least break even. So we begin by finding the approximate break-even cost per lead.
Let’s say for every 100 leads you bring in, you should be able to acquire 3 – 4 new students.
Let’s say your training sells for $1,000.
So in theory, 100 leads, could generate $3,000 – $4,000 in revenue.
And let’s go with the low end of $3,000 / 100 leads = $30.00 per lead → This is the amount that gives your campaign the best shot of breaking even.
That said, you obviously want to do better than break even. Let’s say you want to earn a margin of 75%. Then your target cost per lead would be 0.25 x $30.00 = $7.50.
Here’s a real-life example from this 3x3x3 Method campaign built to drive applications to our local bartending school:
- What’s your cost to get a new customer?
- What’s your target?
- What’s the Lifetime Value of a customer?
If you’ve never run ads before, an easy formula to figure this out is:
Last month’s marketing spend / # new customers you acquired last month.
So let’s say you spent $20,000 and 34 new students came into your course.
That’d be 20,000 / 34 = $588.26 cost per acquisition (CPA).
Similar to your target cost per lead, your target CPA comes down to what your margins are.
(The beauty of courses is that they’re often very low margin and very scalable).
The question is really: what cost per acquisition would make this campaign a homerun?
There’s no right or wrong answer — it’s really up to you.
Finally, what’s the lifetime value of a customer?
This isn’t an easy number to know — it takes time. But as you get clearer on your average customer LTV, you’ll become more confident investing in advertising.
Jay Abraham says, “Break even today. Break the bank tomorrow.”
That’s what this is about.
If you know your customer LTV is $12,000, well you’ll pay $1,000 to get a customer (even if the initial sale is at a loss) because you know that it’s worth it to get them in your world.
Example: One of my mentors Roland Frasier runs the EPIC Challenge that helps participants buy a business with no money out of pocket in 5 days.
The challenge costs only $55. His media buying team is perfectly happy with a CPA of $200 or lower because they know that in the back-end their average return is 6x what they spent to get that customer.
In other words, they know that the average lifetime value of a $55 customer is around $1,200.
- What’s the conversion rate of your core offer landing page?
- What’s your target?
This is important because it allows you to make some forecasts about the economics of your ad campaign. Let’s say you have a conversion rate of 2.35% — which is the average conversion rate — for every 100 leads who come into your funnel, you could expect 2 of them to become customers.
- What’s your profit margin on this offer?
- What’s your target?
If you can build an ad campaign that can be profitable on a front-end offer, that’s very promising for your ability to scale.
BTW, you may not know the answer to ANY of these questions and that’s okay. The action part of this process will help you figure it out.
|Caveat: If you’re just getting started running ads, your initial goal should be focused on having more ideal sales conversations and building your audience. If sales happen from the get go (which they often do), think of it as a bonus.|
Now it’s time to build our campaign.
The Simple 3x3x3 Campaign Structure
Step 1: Get Clear On The WHO.
Step 2: Understand what hooks them in.
Step 3: Get them to tell you what creative direction to take.
Many Facebook advertisers struggle because they have too many options. The 3x3x3 campaign structure is an elegant way to give you constraints that simplify your life.
After all, constraints create innovation, focus, and creativity.
Your job with the 3x3x3 campaign is to drive as much performance as possible on a relatively ‘limited canvas.’
(There are many media buyers who have campaigns that have dozens of ad sets, and hundreds of ads. Spoiler Alert: Optimizing a campaign like that is hard to do without living inside of ads manager)
So here’s the 3x3x3 Campaign:
- 3x Prospecting Audiences
- 3x Ad Copy ‘Hook’ Variations
- 3x Low-hanging Fruit Creative
Keep it simple.
Let’s get started by fishing at our feet.
Step 1: 3x Prospecting Audiences: Learning Who This Campaign Is For
One of the most powerful benefits of using Facebook Ads is getting really clear about who resonates with your messages.
These 3x Prospecting audiences will help you mine valuable data about who you’re speaking to with your campaign:
|Open / Broad||Interests||Lookalike|
|No targeting except by country and optionally age / gender.||Stack interests you think make the most sense.||Build a custom lookalike audience ideally from your customer list.|
|Why: We use this audience so that we can find data that’s free of ANY assumptions.||Why: Test assumptions.||Why: Facebook will put your ad in front of more people who are like those who’ve already bought from you.|
Step 2: 3x Ad Hook Variations: Use These Hooks To Reel ‘Em In
Depending on your product or service, your ad copy is what will have the biggest impact on your performance.
And the most important part of your copy is the ad opener, or hook (after all, if you don’t capture their attention, the rest doesn’t really matter, does it?)
|Headlines vs. Ad Openers: Usually in the world of copy the headline is considered most important for capturing your reader’s attention. But in Facebook Ad land, they take a back seat to your ‘Ad Opener’ because this is the first line they’ll see. This might sound like a technicality, but in the history of media, it’s a significant departure from what most people are used to.|
In the 3x3x3 Method, I put 80% of my copy effort into the hook. Here are 3 powerful frameworks you can use for your Ad Openers:
Dog Whistle Opener: Call out a problem, challenge, pain, or desired outcome / solution that your target market wants.
Like a dog whistle, it’ll only resonate with your ideal students (which is what you want).
Example: Are you a course creator who wants to predictably build Facebook Ads campaigns that can get 1-10 new students in the next 30 days?
Twist The Knife Opener: If you’re well aware of a pain point that your ideal customer has, then don’t be afraid to dive right in and twist the knife of that pain.
Example: In 2021, we have more information available to us than ever before YET so many are struggling to actually learn principles that will change their lives. Why is this…?
Objection Opener: If you know the objections that your target audience has to your offer, go right for the jugular and open your copy with an objection.
There are two words that work really well for this: Even if.
Example: Even if you’ve felt nothing but frustration trying to weave your own baskets, I will show you the fun and easy way Basket Weaver Pros 3x their output (in half the time).
Once you’ve got 3 openers, use the following framework for the rest of your ad copy:
- Stoke their interest by backing up the hook telling them what you have for them.
- Get them to want what you have by showing them how it will help them.
- Move them to take action by telling them exactly what to do next.
|A-I-D-A: If this sounds familiar, that’s probably because this follows the classic AIDA formula. Attention, interest, desire, action is a powerful copywriting framework you can use with all your copy.|
Step 3: 3x Low-Hanging Fruit Creative (You’d Be Surprised How Often the “Low-Production” Stuff Actually Performs Best)
In the Roadmapping In Action process, we’re not looking to blow our audience away with hard-hitting ad creative. We’re looking to gather insights. Quickly.
And in most cases, you already have a TON of ad creative that will work perfectly fine.
Once we find ads that show some promise, THEN we can invest in punching them up with better creative.
In the meantime, why waste our budget?
Here are the best places to find low-hanging fruit creative:
- Your iPhone
- Your Google Drive
- Your Instagram account
- Your existing students / clients
For example, here’s an ad that uses an image from Unsplash:
And here are the results:
Without investing significant time and effort in creative, we brought 13 leads into the funnel for $3.79 each.
The point is to intentionally go low-production to begin. Once the data shows promise like this, then you can invest in better creative assets to beat this benchmark.
(And you might actually be surprised how often the ‘low-production’ creative outperforms the fancy stuff).
Now that you have your audiences built, your copy in place, and your low-hanging fruit creative, it’s time to push ‘play’ on the campaign:
Use ad set budget optimization. Run each ad set at $10 – $20 per day. Then go away for 4 days. Leave it alone.
|Bonus: Want an easy-to-use template that guides you through the 3x3x3 method whenever you need to build Ready-to-Scale campaigns? Get the free template here.|
The Data Gives You ‘Signposts’ That Tell You Where To Go Next
Just like a pilot may need to change direction based on data, the same is true for your ads.
For example, here’s a campaign that’s early on in the Roadmapping In Action process broken down by gender:
At a $64.25 cost per lead to acquire a male subscriber, the data clearly tells us that this campaign is not efficient at optimizing for male subscribers.
So what do we do?
Change this campaign so that it targets only women and those who are uncategorised.
While Facebook’s machine learning is becoming more and more powerful — doing a lot of this optimization for you — it will always give you the data you need to optimize your campaigns for greater efficiency.
|Machine Learning: Think of the Facebook algorithm like a dragon you’re training. You have to tell it what you want it to do for you — by optimizing your campaigns — so that it will perform the way you want it to.|
With so many different delivery options, you could go crazy with this optimization stuff:
But I’d recommend keeping it simple to age, gender, location, and placement. Let the machine learning do the rest.
How To Know If You Have A ‘Proof of Concept’ Campaign
Once you’ve let the campaign run for about 4 days, check to see what your cost per lead or cost per sale is.
And before you check in with the data — take a look at your answers to the roadmapping questions. Assess your CPL or CPA in the context of where these metrics are currently at and where you’d like them to be.
At the time of writing this in 2020, a solid CPL for course creators is anywhere from $3 – $7 — though I’ve seen it as low as $0.35 when using quizzes.
(Quizzes are like kindling for lead generation, but sometimes the quality of lead isn’t as high so it can be a tradeoff).
The CPA can be way more variable as it totally depends on your offer. For example, if you’re going straight for the sale from cold traffic and your price point is $1,000+ you can expect to spend significantly more per CPA than the course creator driving cold traffic to an offer with a price point that’s $99.
Whatever you see after these 4 days, the next steps will help you optimize your campaign.
Signpost Data Checklist
Just like signposts along your route will tell you where to go, so too will the data of your campaign (en route to more students).
With so much data available, the problem is knowing:
a) What to look at, and
b) What action it’s telling you to take to get more students in your training program.
The Signpost Data Checklist solves that.
This is the ‘action’ part of the Roadmapping In Action process.
We ask a question of the data, and based on the ‘signposts’ it gives, here are the actions to take:
Get The Signpost Data Checklist
(aka The Simple Way To Optimize Campaigns)
There. Now you should have an optimized campaign that should work profitably for you (at least until your frequency gets to a threshold and you exhaust an audience. When that happens, you’ll need to flow in new creative).
Examples of Signpost Data In Ads Manager:
Signposts Tells You Which Placements To Remove:
Signposts Tells You Which Locations To Remove:
As you remove the poor performing parts of the campaign, Facebook will put your spend into proven winners.
How Will You Use The Roadmapping In Action Process?
Information is useless unless you apply it, and it can be hard to apply it without the right tool. That’s why I made the 3x3x3 Method Template. It’s a fill in the blank template you can use to quickly fill out so that you have ‘campaign clarity.’
You can then use it to either go ahead and build out your campaign or even pass it off to a media buyer to do it for you.
(That’s right, you can build powerful ad campaigns without ever touching Facebook’s ads manager 😁)
Inside the Free template, you’ll find…
- An Objective Statement
- The 4 Clarifying Roadmapping Questions
- Even more resources to help you find low-hanging fruit creative
- Signpost Data Checklist so you can be sure you’re squeezing the juice out of your campaigns through smart optimization
- And much more…
Drop your email here to get instant access to the Roadmapping In Action Template now.