• How to use Facebook and Instagram ads

    How authors can use Facebook and Instagram ads.
    How authors can use Facebook and Instagram ads

    Have you ever tried to run a Facebook or Instagram ad directly to your sales or services page which resulted in little to no sales?

    I’ve seen both writers and editors mention that they didn’t find Facebook ads useful. Others will have had more success. It’s hard to know what went right or wrong without looking at the ads.

    I haven’t used Facebook or Instagram ads myself, but I did learn how they worked when I took the Copy Posse Launch Files course and the FB ads course at Copy School. I’m currently a member of Copy School which is located at Copy Hackers.

    So, what do you need to know about Facebook ads?

    First of all, it’s necessary to back up and look at some basic marketing theories. According to Eugene Schwarz, who wrote the bible of marketing, Breakthrough Advertising, there are five levels of customer awareness. And five levels of market sophistication.

    The five levels of customer awareness

    Let’s start with customer awareness. The prospect is the potential customer you want to target. Eugene Schwartz broke it down as follows:

    • Completely unaware – the prospect has a problem but isn’t aware of it as yet
    • Problem aware – the prospect knows they have a problem, but doesn’t know the solution
    • Solution aware – the prospect knows they have a pain, and knows the solution, but isn’t yet clear about the exact product or supplier
    • Product aware – this person is much more aware of their problem, likely solution, and the products available to them
    • Totally aware – this person knows what they want and they just need an extra push to buy the product. Some people in this group will sit on long waitlists and jump to buy as soon as doors open. They will pre-order books as soon as they hear about them

    To put it into simpler terms, you are really going to struggle to sell anything to the completely unaware group. And they are a big group. Trying to run an ad to a sales page isn’t going to convert this group.

    Neither are you likely to convert the problem-aware group. This is partly because the closer a prospect is to the completely unaware end of the spectrum, the more time it takes to convert them. They need more information. A single ad isn’t going to do it. You need to warm them up.

    The group most likely to convert is the completely aware – they would likely know your name already. Maybe they follow you on social media or they’ve read one of your books before. Maybe they subscribe to your newsletter. A time-limited offer could push this group over the line – for example, a 24-hour sale.

    But they’re the smallest group of all. So, you won’t get many sales from them.

    I remember a tutorial at Copy Hackers where the following breakdown was suggested:

    • Completely unaware – 30%
    • Problem aware – 30%
    • Solution aware – 30%
    • Product aware – 6-7%
    • Completely aware – 3-4%

    I don’t think these figures were meant to be a universal rule, but it’s a good example of what you might be dealing with. The two groups at the bottom are the easiest to convert, but together they might only be around 10%. Unless your market is huge, that isn’t going to convert well to huge sales. 10% of millions of people isn’t bad. 10% of a much smaller number is an entirely different matter.

    How to convert people

    So, how do you convert more people? The answer is quite simple – you need to move people from problem aware to completely aware. In the short to medium term, you can forget the completely unaware group. The effort to convert them is just going to be too much time and money.

    Because the less aware someone is about their own problem and the solution, let alone your product or service, the more they need to be educated. That’s a lot of copy and ads to write.

    It’s not impossible to convert them. But why focus on the bottom 30% when you have the problem- and solution-aware groups instead?

    Market sophistication

    So, what is market sophistication? This concept, also broken into five categories, deals with the spectrum of how new a product is to market versus whether the market is oversaturated.

    Level one is new to market. In the Copy Posse Launch Pad course, Alex Cattoni used the example of the Model T car. It was the first mass-produced family car. There are other examples of something that is the first to market. What’s important to consider here is how to market a product that is the first of its kind. You can’t describe it as being like something else, because there isn’t anything else.

    The consequence of being the first is that prospective customers will need a lot of information to understand what the product is and how it can help them. Because they have no point of comparison.

    At the other end, you have level five – here the market is completely saturated. This is true of the book market. When you’re operating in a saturated market, you are going to struggle to stand out. The competition is huge, prospective customers are overwhelmed by choice, and there are big names that are long established.

    I’m not going to dwell on market-level sophistication here because this post relates more to Facebook ads. If you’re writing in a completely new genre – does such a thing exist?! – then you could possibly be level one. But you still exist within the wider ecosystem of a saturated marketplace. Plus, you’d have the problem of having to explain to people why they should take a chance on your shiny new kind of story that they can’t fit into a pre-existing category.

    Back to customer awareness

    So, how does customer awareness fit into Facebook ads?

    Well, as I’ve pointed out above, your most likely buyers are going to be a small group. If you run the link from your ad straight to a sales page, you might get some purchases. But it takes a lot more effort to get a lot of sales. Because any potential readers stumbling on your ad are being bombarded with other ads too (saturated marketplace).

    The truth is, you shouldn’t run a Facebook or Instagram ad directly to a sales page unless you’re specifically targeting the most aware people, or you’re retargeting people already aware of your brand.

    So, if you don’t run the ad to your sales page, where the heck do you send traffic to?

    And this is where you need to stop and think about your overall sales funnel.

    Because this is what you need to do – funnel people through to the end goal of hopefully buying your book (or service).

    This is where conversion copywriting comes in.

    Conversion copywriting

    Even if you never intend to become a conversion copywriter, it’s really worth understanding the concept. The old direct response copywriting was more hard sell. But in conversion copywriting, the copy isn’t meant to get a sale. It’s meant to get a click. It’s meant to get the reader to take action – which could be clicking on a link, or signing up to a newsletter.

    You are basically funneling a prospective reader or client through a series of clicks. Conversion copywriting is also data-driven, but you don’t need to worry about that too much. You’re not pitching your services to a company. You’re trying to sell your book or service. You can however do some of the research a conversion copywriter would do when it comes to writing your Facebook or Instagram ad. Further down this post I talk about voice of customer data (VOC) and review mining.

    So, where do you send traffic from an FB or IG ad?

    To a landing page. So, what the heck is a landing page? Is it the home page of your website?

    The importance of landing pages

    If you’re intending to publish, you should have a website. But your landing page is not your home page or any page on your site that has a buy button.

    Traditionally, landing pages have one purpose and one purpose only. Usually, it’s to get people to sign up for a freebie/giveaway in exchange for their email address. The freebie must have high value and show your expertise.

    In the case of an author, perhaps you have a novella or juicy story connected to a series you’re writing. You will already know that authors often have one book free to let readers sample their work. It can be a great way to get readers hooked on a series.

    You see these books on Amazon.

    But here’s the problem – if you only make your freebie available on bookstores, you are missing out on an important marketing opportunity. You can’t build a relationship with them if you’re only marketing on other people’s land. Jeff Bezos’ land in this case.

    You should aim to have an author newsletter – and one that’s really interesting enough that people will want to open those emails when they get them. But if you only send traffic to the likes of Amazon, you won’t be able to warm up potential readers. You will be forever relying on the most aware – the smallest group of potential buyers.

    Your marketing strategy has to start earlier in the customer awareness spectrum. If your ad runs to a landing page where you offer a juicy story/novella, then the ad should be about that story, not the novels you’re selling on Amazon. And the copy on the landing page should be about that story/novella too.

    It’s too early to try and get people to buy. Some will, of course. But most won’t.

    As for your landing page, traditionally they don’t have navigation menus because those tempt people to click away from the page. And when it comes to the email sign-up form for the freebie – have as few fields as possible. In fact, at the most, you should only have first name and email address.

    Because the more information you ask someone for, the less likely they’ll sign up.

    Once they’ve signed up you then send them the freebie (known as a lead magnet). Owing to regulations on privacy and email marketing, you should have a double opt-in too. If you are using email marketing, you should definitely familiarise yourself with the rules.

    Your email newsletter as a sales funnel

    They have now entered your email funnel. So, what do you do now?

    Here’s what you don’t do: bombard them with emails saying ‘Buy my book’. That’s guaranteed to get people to unsubscribe. (Especially since your emails should make it easy to unsubscribe because of email marketing rules!)

    When people first sign up to a lead magnet (your freebie), that’s often when they’re most interested. If you’re good at writing emails, you can also build interest over time. But because other people are also sending them emails, you need to make sure yours stand out.

    Here are things to aim for:

    • Use a ‘from name’ they’re likely to remember
    • Write an automated onboarding sequence of emails for new readers to your newsletter. It should introduce you and show the value of being on your newsletter list
    • This onboarding sequence can be nothing more than a few emails before the recipient starts to get your normal newsletters
    • Email marketing is still the strongest form of marketing and because it happens out of sight, that fact often goes unnoticed

    Email marketing is a big subject in itself.

    The most important point about your email marketing here is that it should take up where your FB/IG ad and lead magnet left off. With your emails, you can establish a relationship with readers. This is something you can build on for current and future book releases.

    Voice of customer and review mining

    When you’ve made your decision about where and when you’re going to market your book, you still have to think about the wording of your marketing campaigns, including your Facebook ads. What language should you use to appeal to possible buyers?

    This is where voice of customer (VOC) data and review mining come in.

    Let’s say you write cozy mysteries. The first thing you should do is check out the reviews of competitor titles. Also, any websites that focus on the genre are worth checking out. You can also check out Facebook groups dedicated to fans of your genre. Why? You want to find out exactly how readers feel about this genre. What problems do they have? What are their criticisms? What words and phrases do they tend to use? This will represent voice of customer research.

    Because when you write copy, you need to speak in the language that your ideal customer uses.

    You need to reflect their language back at them.

    It’s not about copying someone’s review, it’s about collecting the words, phrases, and feelings/emotions that come up with this genre. This then gives you a vocabulary you can use to help you write your own original copy.

    Checking out competitor ads

    You can check out any ads your competitors are running on Facebook by going to the left-hand side of the page, scrolling down, and looking for ‘Page Transparency’. Go to Ad Library. Any ads currently running should appear, depending on the location you have chosen. If you opt for ‘Choose All’ you should see any ads running in any part of the world.

    But a word of caution – just because an ad might be running doesn’t mean it’s performing well. Don’t automatically assume it is. But it is certainly worth having a look at other ads in your market, especially from people who are known to be successful or where a product is successful.

    In the case of successful products, their success might depend on earlier ads and not the ones you see now.

    Nevertheless, Facebook’s ad library is worth checking out. But if you don’t see any book ads on many accounts, don’t be surprised. Many writers probably don’t use Facebook ads because of limited budgets or because they’ve heard too many mixed messages about ad success.

    The key though is to understand that ads are part of a funnel and not the magic button that leads to lots of sales.


    If you run a Facebook ad expecting to get direct sales, you will likely be disappointed with the results. Because your Facebook and Instagram ads are only part of a wider marketing ecosystem. They are the beginning of a sales funnel.

    They send people over to the next part of the funnel – your landing page, where you offer a lead magnet.

    You get them signed up to your email marketing newsletter. And in your emails you lay the ground for marketing yourself and your books.

    There is so much more to be written about Facebook and Instagram ads. I didn’t tackle the importance of a good headline hook and other parts of your ad. Or the rules about what you can and can’t post.

    What I’ve written above is the simpler version or the overview. In reality, you can have multiple FB ads targeting different stages of awareness, etc.

    But while complex sales funnels might work for a bigger brand or a business with more money, authors don’t have the same level of funding. Consequently, you are better targeting your funnel towards your email newsletter.

    If you’re still working on your novel and need feedback, I’m available for manuscript critiques, opening chapters developmental edits, and full developmental editing. You can check out my services pages but I also offer custom work, tailored to your needs. If you’re interested in working with me, I offer sample developmental edits of up to 2000 words.