Facebook Lead Ads – The Good, The Bad, and The UGLY

Lets face it – if you haven’t heard about Facebook Lead ads and the awesome list-building results Marketers have been getting since their introduction….it’s time to start thinking about a career change!

But are Lead Ads really that magic bullet that can shoot holes in your competition?

We’ve been using Lead Ads since they were released and the results been amazing – That’s The Good part.  But Lead Ads have some drawbacks – that’s The Bad bit.  And there’s one or two traps with using them that are just plain Ugly    

In this article we discuss all 3, and share our experiences avoiding the Bad and Ugly and focusing on the Good


Lead ads were introduced on the 25th June as an addition to the Facebook suite of marketing tools.

They were never really intended as an alternative to traditional link ads (where a click leads to the Marketers’ Landing page) – They were simply a tool to enable Lead capture from Mobile devices; but in the last 5 months they’ve turned out to be one of the most powerful lead generation tools on the web

But what are they?

At first glance, they look exactly like a normal Link ad – Here’s one that could be related to this post

Theres nothing there to indicate its a Lead ad, right? – it’s identical to a standard Link Ad.  BUT there is a difference, a BIG difference!

When you click on the ad, instead of being directed off to our website, this comes up instead

Facebook automatically pre-fills this form with the customers first name and the email address associated with their Facebook profile.  The user can edit any of those fields if they want.  The Marketer can also add further custom fields if they like.  And after that, the user simply confirms and you have captured their contact!

So… lets take a look at WHY Lead ads are so great.

The Good

Basically – Lead Ads can be an AWESOME way to generate leads from FACEBOOK


  1. The user doesn’t leave Facebook. If a user doesn’t want to interrupt their news feed experience, that’s fine! They stay where they are.
  2. Reduced friction via auto-filled forms. Users no longer need to take the time to enter their name and email through forms. Facebook auto-fills this information for them (though you can also ask custom questions that won’t be auto-filled). This significantly improves the user experience and increases the chances of a lead.
  3. Guaranteed mobile friendliness. You no longer need to worry about the mobile friendliness of your website. Everything is completed within Facebook.
  4. Load times are eliminated. You won’t lose leads now as they wait for your website to load. This continues a trend of Facebook looking to keep users on the platform, following the “Buy” button and Instant Articles.
  5. Gives you the primary email address associated with the user’s Facebook account. While the end user can edit the pre-filled information if they wish, the defaults automatically populated by Facebook almost guarantee that marketers will be receiving an email address that is actually regularly monitored.

All this  makes it far more convenient for those inherently lazy viewers (aren’t we all) to convert into leads.  It’s good for users — even better for marketers!

And it’s getting better

As a (relatively) new development of Facebook, the world of lead ads is changing pretty rapidly – and depending when you’re reading this, will almost certainly have changed again – so heres some recent good news!

Desktop placement.

In the beginning, Lead ads were rolled out with the idea of improving conversion rates from mobile devices.  That was an existing weakness of standard ads in that many devices couldn’t access links to landing pages, or the landing pages were not mobile responsive (a cardinal sin with many marketers unwittingly throwing their mobile leads away).

Lead Ads solves this problem.  In fact they have proven so effective that they are currently being rolled out to desktop applications too.

If you haven’t been able to reach desktop users with lead ads, so far, give it another try!

Video lead ads.

In the old days, you could add a call-to-action button within video ads.  So after a user watches a video, you can instruct them to click a related link that drives them to a page on your website.

Nice addition!  The truth is they weren’t incredibly effective.  While the video received lots of views, there weren’t enough clicks of the link to result in many conversions (in general).  But being able to include a lead form instead of sending users to a landing page does change things.

The conversion rate should increases – and aren’t conversions are what we’re all after?

Lead forms in carousel ads.

Carousel ads allow advertisers to include several inked images within the same ad — Used correctly, they can be incredibly effective.  They multiply the opportunities to drive traffic by including multiple links and images to pick from.

Carousel ads are great for driving traffic — and even for conversions.  But what if you could increase the conversion rate by keeping users on Facebook when they click a link?

Well thanks to lead forms, now you can!  Now when users click those image links, you have the option of having a pre-filled Facebook form pop up and the user just needs to hit the submit button.

Results of Lead Ads

Understand that lead ads are still new – We’ve been using them since they were first available.

We’ve spent spend a few thousand dollars since then – okay…..

We also acquired OVER 9,000 LEADS.  And you know what that means in the long term – Leads become conversions… Conversions become sales… And if your products are right, sales become repeat customers!

Having used Lead ads for a while now, we decided to run a full test on exactly how effective they are (but we’ve got a pretty clear idea – So we’re running a long-term A/B test.  Results are due in on the 4th December, so watch the Blog for final results – but so far:

Lead Ads: $0.52 per lead

Link Ads: $1.13 per lead

You work it out for yourself!  But don’t get too carried away just yet – Lead ads have their downside too….


Whilst we are growing to truly love the potential (and more especially, the RETURNS) from Lead Ads – nothing is perfect.  There are some potential problems, either real or ones we’re anticipating.  Here’s what on our radar:

Lead quality

You’d be foolish not to consider the angles here.

  • First of all, can you be sure that the prefilled information pulled from their Facebook profiles is up-to-date?  Are these primary email addresses?  Writing this blog inspired me to check my personal profile – and I discovered that it’s an old address which I dumped ages ago – partly because I was getting too many FB notifications!
  • Plus, is it possible for this process to be too easy?  A lead is submitted with two easy clicks, no typing necessary.  This makes it more likely that some will submit information by mistake — or they’ll simply forget doing it in the first place.  By not going to your website, their only exposure to you may be the lead ad. Will they recognize you when they get your email?  Will they remember your lead ad and your offer?  Or will they simply assume your message is spam?

Reduced Traffic

Reducing traffic to your primary Landing Page.  Landing page traffic is the most valuable audience you can target.  They’ve made the effort to come and visit (it’s true – a lot of this traffic comes from Facebook anyway).  But lead ads skip sending people to your website.  This is a big issue as it means that you get no value from the people that clicked your ad and then didn’t convert.  For example you can’t create a custom audience of people who clicked the link but didn’t convert to use in subsequent retargeting campaigns where you reframe your offer in the hope that it will lead to conversion the second time round, or the third, etc…

Familiarity and Credibility

Lead building is one of the most critical components of your Sales Funnel – we all know that.  Without Leads you can’t convert, without conversions you don’t make sales.  And without sales, its pretty pointless being in business, isn’t it?

Another failure of Lead Ads is that they don’t develop the same level of familiarity with your leads.  Link Ads take prospects straight to your Landing Page – and while they may not convert immediately, they do hit a branded page and have the opportunity to engage with you and learn who you are – you’re no longer that stranger riding into town.  With lead ads the amount of space you have to make an impression on cold leads is drastically reduced (video lead ads may help here but we don’t have access to these yet and, despite its effectiveness, video marketing is still a major obstacle for many marketers).

Privacy Policies and Disclaimers!?

Yup, nobody liks terms and conditions, but many marketers have been shocked to find out that when setting up their first lead ad they can get nearly all the way through the process only to find that right at the end they are asked for a link to their website privacy policy.

Many small businesses, online retailers, solopreneurs, tradesmen and hundreds of other advertisers simply won’t have this information.  They should, but let’s be real here.  Do you have a link to your website’s privacy policy and disclaimer?

If your website uses WordPress then luckily we’ve got you covered.  You can download the plugin we’ve created here and upload it to your website.  By completing a few simple fields you can have your own privacy policy and terms of service live in just minutes.  Pretty cool hey?


At some point you’re going to need to send your new leads to your website or to a landing page.

You may have heard cries from marketers that landing pages are dead.  That lead ads are now the only thing you need.  But this is simply not true

A common mistake that Marketers make is falling into the trap of endlessly building lists and neglecting the other parts of their funnels.  Even if you’re generating thousands of leads via Lead Ads you’ll still at some point need a great landing page, and a variety of lead capture and funneling tools….

I could give you some appalling screenshots of Landing pages from marketers that have sunk into the addiction of list-building and forgotten everything else… believe me their conversion rates are… NOT exciting.

I’ll just say that i nearly made the same mistake; when we first started using Lead Ads i was so hypnotised by watching my list grow that I woke one day and realised our main landing page was a month out of date!


You still need a landing page to capture leads when they arrive on your site.  You can do this the hard way and spend endless hours manually building an awesome page, or just use Wishloop to make the whole thing effortless.

But thats not enough – leads are so important to the success of any business that why aren’t all of your webpages being used as lead generators.  You could also give Wishloop a try for this (its completely free to test out for 14 days).

And finally….


The one MASSIVE drawback we’ve found is that you cannot connect the leads generated through FB Lead ads directly into your existing Autoresponder.

So Facebook, you’re telling me that that every single day I’ll need to download this list and upload the new leads to my autoresponder?  But what if I want to send an immediate email to every new signup welcoming them to my list and also deliver some instant value, over deliver to the lead and cement a positive first impression of my brand?

This is an incredible oversight by Facebook. We tried to get around it a thousand different ways but there simply is no way to do it without specialist software.



Doubling up on all those mailouts; duplications across lists – unsubscribers because your leads are also getting frustrated….

This is not good for business

Thankfully, after a LOT of searching, we’ve found the solution – We’re still in the early days of using it but the results so far have been awesome – I’ve gone from spending several hours a week simply extracting and sorting the Leads generated from FB Lead ads to never having to worry about this again

And thats really why I wrote this post, because i’m suddenly got some time on my hands!  I suggest you give it a try if you want to cut the ugly part straight out of FB Lead Generation!

So –


1) Lead ads are a brilliant addition to your marketing – they remove a lot of the traditional friction points with FB Ads, especially for mobile users

2) They’re especially useful when used with audiences who already know you – especially your retargeting list.  This helps avoid the branding and familiarity issues mentioned above

3) They need to be used alongside Link ads – which are critical for building authority & trust through content – using Lead Ads alone will result in a drop in traffic to your Landing Page

4) The BIG downside to Lead Ads currently is that you can only export the leads as a CSV file, rather than routing them through your Autoresponder.  We think we’ve got the solution to that though.

Happy List Building!

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