How To Create Facebook Ads That Sell

If you’re reading this blog post, you’ve probably tried Facebook ads and did not get the results you were looking for.

Or maybe you’re just starting out on Facebook Advertising and want to uncover the “secret sauce” to making it work for your business.

While profitable advertising is dependent on various factors in a campaign, one of the most important factors is your ability to craft a compelling ad that sells your idea, brand, product or service.

And this is exactly what I hope to help you with in this massive article. By the end of the post, you’ll find yourself able to craft a high converting ad copy that not only gets you clicks but leads, sales and profits all at the same time.

Here’s What Will I’ll Be Covering…

First, we’ll start off by introducing the different parts of a typical ad. While there are at least a dozen different Facebook Ads types, we’re going to focus exclusively on the link ad because it encompasses most parts of a typical Facebook ad.

Next up I’ll run through the 6 “almost unbreakable” rules when it comes to writing ad copy. These are the same rules that helped 750 business owners in my workshops rake in millions of dollars of sales over the last 2 years.

And they are the same rules my team used to bring in more than $1 million dollars of sales from Facebook in 2016 alone.

Finally, we’ll get to work, and apply what you learned into crafting your first high converting ad copy. I’ll run you through step-by-step what I actually do when I write an ad copy.

This blog post will take you about 30 minutes to read through.

Don’t rush through it.

Take your time to digest the materials and think about how you can apply them to your advertising today.

Now, let’s jump straight into the topic by first introducing you to the…

Link Ad

Like I mentioned earlier, there are about a dozen types of FB ads but if you’re looking at sending traffic to your website directly, you’ll probably use the good old link ad.

Facebook Link Ad Example

It’s by far one of the most useful ads for any business owner who wants to grow their business using Facebook. About 80% of the campaigns we run here at GrowthTribe use the Link Ad.

I’ll break down each part of the link ad based on their relative importance and run you through how you can best use each part of the ad to maximize your success, starting with the…

1. Ad Image

Facebook Ad Image Example

The ad image is by far the most important part of the ad. It’s the part that attracts the market’s attention and get them to stop their scrolling and actually read the rest of your ads.

You’ll notice a few things about the image we used.

For one, we used an image that looks bright. Bright images give people a positive feeling and are proven to be more emotionally arousing. Plus! The human brain notices bright colours first.

Secondly, we used contrast in the image (orange text box on a mostly blue image) to add emphasis on the text in the ad image.

2. Headline

The headline is the second important part of the ad.

Facebook Ad Headline Example

Your headline should stop your market on its tracks and literally force them to continue reading your post or click to the next page.

It works the same way as the headline on the front page of a newspaper or magazine. The idea is to create enough curiosity for them to pick it up and read it. One of the best references for great headlines are tabloids like the one you see below.

Tabloid Headline Example

(Image Credit – The Sun)

The whole idea of a woman eating 4,000 sponges is absurd enough to make you stop and open it up to read it, even if you don’t believe it.

Of course, you have to be careful not to be overly “hypey” when you use this technique.

You need to make sure your headline doesn’t just create curiosity but also includes a strong compelling promise that’s relevant to your business.

In short, a great headline tells your market what to expect and build enough curiosity to read the rest of your copy.

3. Post Text

Facebook Ad Post Text Example

The post text is also known as the body of your ad copy.

It’s where the meat of your content is and where most of the “selling” happens.

When it comes to crafting the post text, I usually follow the AIDA formula.

For those who are new to advertising, AIDA stands for…

  • Attention
  • Interest
  • Desire
  • Action.

Lets’s run through each of them to give you an idea how you should craft your next ad copy… 

You start off the copy with an attention grabbing statement like the one I used in the example above.

I might even use a question such as “Do you want more leads?” as a way to “call out” to the right market and grab their attention.

Another common alternative will be to include a market call-out to the right market. It could something as simple as “Especially for all <your target market” or “Calling all <your target market>”.

Here’s an example of a post text that uses that technique (this time calling out to moms):

Facebook Ad Post Text Example (Totsworld)

In case you are wondering why we do this…

The 1st reason is because no matter how “targeted” you try to get with Facebook, you are not likely to reach your target audience all the time.

Facebook’s targeting works on an algorithm that might not always be accurate or updated. For example, if you’re targeting the interest “Tennis”, you might get everyone from people who play tennis to someone who recently purchased tennis shoe or made a comment about a tennis match.

And you are really still targeting the same pool of people who might have liked Tennis some months back but might no longer be as interested.

Targeting Tennis On Facebook

Note: While Facebook’s targeting is not ultra precise like what many so-called experts claim, it is still one of the best in the industry.

The 2nd reason I use a market call-out is because it helps to make the message and offer more relevant to the right market I’m going for anyway.

It’s a nice copy-writing technique you’ll see used in long form sales copy to make the market feel that the content they are about to read is crafted specifically for them.

Then the next thing you need to is to trigger enough interest for them to keep reading. This is where the first few lines of your ad come in handy. You might share something interesting or unconventional. Say something that will get them to keep reading.

I do that by providing social proof that many people have attended the same workshop and benefited from the workshop.

Facebook Ad Social Proof Example

And finally you jump into building desire by getting your market to imagine what their life will be like if they could enjoy specific benefits or remove specific pains or problems.

In the case of this example, I used a series of benefit bullets to increase desire for my workshop.

Facebook Ad Post Bullets Example

You can do the same for any kind of ad in any niche.

Here’s another example for baby products by one of our students.

Facebook Ad Building Desire Example

(Image Credit – Totsworld Singapore)

And just as you build up enough desire, you “pop the bottle” with a strong call to action to get them to take action immediately.

For the call to action, you want to be as clear and direct as possible. It could be something as simple as asking them to click on the call to action button or on the image.

Here’s the one our student used  for her ad. 

Facebook Ad Call To Action Example

(Image Credit – Totsworld Singapore)

If you are writing a long ad, you can use multiple call-to-actions.

Facebook Ad Multiple Call To Action Example

4. Description

The description usually gets the least attention by most readers. In fact, on the mobile platform, most of the description is hidden by the call to action button.

Facebook Ad Description Example

However, if you do write the description, keep it as straight forward as possible and direct as possible.

You might notice that our description tells you exactly what you’re going to get when you take action.

This is to avoid the scenario where the user clicks on the ad and is brought to a page with little or no relevance to what they were interested in in the first place.

5. Call To Action Buttons

Finally, we look at the call to action button options you can use for your ad.

Facebook Ad Call To Action Button Examples

You can choose to include it and your ad will well… look like an ad. While there is nothing wrong with your ad looking like an ad, some marketers might want to take what we call the “Native Approach”.

Now that you know about the different parts of the Link Ad, I want to dive straight into…

The (Almost) Unbreakable Laws Of Facebook Ad Copywriting

I say “Almost Unbreakable” because these are guidelines, not hard and fast rules for writing great ad copy.

But if you use them right, you’ll dramatically increase your chances of crafting an ad that sells.

That being said, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to follow each and everyone of them. The idea is to use them as a reference or checklist to see if your ad copy’s going to work.

1. The Purpose Of An Ad Is To Get A Click

Here’s one of the biggest mistakes most business owners make when advertising on Facebook.

They jump right into selling mode in their ads, asking their market to purchase something or give them a call without building much desire.

Below is one example of such an ad from a relatively unknown (and difficult to pronounce brand name) 

Facebook Ad Bad Example

(Image Credit – M.Gemi)

What’s the problem?

For one, it’s a relatively unknown brand in an extremely competitive female shoe market. They are asking you to shop for a specific product without actually building up enough interest and desire.

It’s like asking a girl or guy you’re meeting for the first time to marry you before you even introduce yourself.

A direct offer like this might work if you are a well-known female shoe brand that has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars (or even millions) advertising on other channels and/or your product or service is well-known.

But to ask for a sale right from the start is a climb on advertising hell.

Important Tip: Advertising for an established, known brand in the market is very different compared to advertising for a brand that’s relatively unknown or small.

The only exception to this rule is when you’re selling a product or service with an obvious benefit.

In one of our workshops, we ran a campaign for “Glee Studios”, a sing and dance academy. The offer was a $5 workshop for kids during the weekend. We took the direct approach with this ad.

It’s a simple to understand offer with a clear benefit (sing and dance workshops have been around for ages and the popularity of the drama series “Glee” helped). Plus, at $5, it’s a relatively low cost offer for the market.

Facebook Ad Clear Benefit Example

(Image Credit – Sing & Dance For Kids)

In just 2 hours, we got 39 leads for a simple campaign at $1.47 per lead,  In fact, the campaign was so successful we actually managed to get more leads after we switched off the campaign.

The reason is because parents were sharing the ads with other parents.

Facebook Campaign Good Results Example

Now what happens if you’re a small startup with a little known product or service, and you’re competing with bigger, more established players with huge marketing budgets? 

First off, make sure you are very specific about the market you’re going after. Get clear about your ideal customer avatar. Going after everyone is an instant recipe for failure.

Secondly, you need an offer that is actually significantly better than your competitors. An example will be WhizComm. They were able to gain traction in the market simply because they provided a much better offer than the existing competitor.

Facebook Ad Good Offer Example

(Image Credit – WhizComms)

Next up, you need to craft a message about the most desirable part of your product or service and your call to action should be a “small ask” versus the value of your offer.

This is the part of the WhizComms ad that can be improved. 

While they might offer a lower price than other broadband providers, there are other considerations in the purchase of a new broadband service e.g. reliability. They will probably get much better traction by asking the market to click to learn more rather than register right up front.

But all in all, WhizComms did a great job with the ad.

2. All Ads Should Only Have One Core Message

One of the most common mistakes I see business owners and advertisers make is to cram 2-3 messages in one ad. It’s an easy mistake to make, especially when you’re still starting out.

Here’s an example of an ad: 

Facebook Ad No Core Message Example

(Image Credit – Video Game Testers & Designers)

In this ad, the headline says “Become A Game Developer” but the post text starts off with “Ever Thought Of Being A Video Game Tester”. These are clearly 2 different messages.

You want to make sure that everything from your ad image to your headline is congruent and focused on only one message.

Another benefit of doing this is that it makes it easier to test different messaging to see what sticks with the market, especially when you’re running a campaign for the first time.

If you have 2-3 messages in one ad, even if your ad gets conversions, you don’t know which message is the one that resonates with your target market.

My best tip is to have one core message that you want to talk about. Write it down in one sentence and spend the rest of the ad focused on that one core message.

Here’s one example of an ad we created for ThinkersBox, a children brain-development company in Singapore.

Facebook Ad Good Core Message Example

(Image Credit – ThinkersBox)

You’ll notice every sentence in the ad from the image, to the headline to the post text focuses on supporting one key idea, explaining why your child does not have an attention problem.

Anyway, one trick that makes it easier to craft your ad around one message is to keep it…

3. Short & Simple

The 2nd biggest mistake (after cramming tons of messages in one ad) many marketers make is to write long ad copies that don’t convert.

Maybe you notice competitors doing that and you decide to do it too. Maybe you thought the more you say, the more likely you can get your market to click.

While long copy might convert better when done right, majority of the time most advertisers do a very bad job with long copy. They have a tendency to either go out of point or cram too many messages in one ad.

In this case, short copies might actually work better.

Instead of writing a long ad copy, try to clearly explain to users why they should click. Use stories and elements of curiosity to get them to click.

Here’s an example of how we used “drama” and a pitch of curiosity to get clicks to our salesletter for one of our trading workshops:

Facebook Ad Curiosity Example

(Image Credit – Raise Your Wealth)

Offering additional incentives such as discounts and freebies usually helps. However, be careful not to attract too many cheap clicks that don’t convert into leads and sales.

Just another note about long copies… 

Long copies tend to work better for sophisticated audiences that tend to be more skeptical e.g. investing or trading related and highly competitive markets where you need to differentiate your offer more.

You might notice us writing long ads for our workshops. The problem lies in the fact that you need a level of skill and it could be extremely time-consuming for a newbie to start writing longer copy.

My general rule of thumb for newbies is to stick with shorter copy and test different short messages. This is a more effective use of your time, especially if you have a tight timeline for your campaigns. 

4. Write To One Person

I always create an ideal customer avatar before I start any advertising campaign.

One of the key exercises that my team uses when we start a project is called “Deep Diving”.

It’s a series of questions that builds on each other to give you an intimate understanding of the market. The key idea is to get into my market’s head and uncover their hot “buy” buttons.

The end point of the exercise is to create a customer persona like this one…

Facebook Customer Avatar

This powerful exercise gives me a crystal clear idea who I am writing my ad copy for. And one of the things I do when I write an ad copy is to imagine the person right in front of me across the table and my ad copy is what I say to tickle them into a buying frenzy.

When you write your ad copy, always enter the conversation in their head.

Talk about their worries, anxieties, their dreams and aspirations. The things that actually matter to them, not you.

It’s about what your market wants and desires. Your job as an advertiser and marketer is to tap into the desires of your market, stir them and connect those desires to your product and service.

It also helps to speak their language. Use the words they usually use.

Below is one example of an ad we ran recently for real estate agents. We used a little Hokkien because it resonates with Singaporeans, especially the real estate agent crowd. And it worked like magic.

Facebook Ad Using Language

5. Focus On One Emotion

Here’s a pro tip for those who want to take your ad copy up a notch.

It’s no secret that emotions sell. As long as you can get your prospect emotionally fired up, they will look for a reason to justify their purchase.

The problem is that most newbies tend to write their ad copy in a logical way that hardly evokes any strong emotions that pushes the sale forward.

So here’s what you need to do the next time you write an ad copy.

Pick one emotion you want to trigger and focus on crafting a message that stirs those emotions.

Here’s a useful list of emotions you can use for your ads:

  • Anger
  • Acceptance
  • Affection
  • Aggression
  • Ambivalence
  • Apathy
  • Anxiety
  • Boredom
  • Compassion
  • Confusion
  • Contempt
  • Depression
  • Doubt
  • Disgust
  • Ecstasy
  • Empathy
  • Envy
  • Embarrassment
  • Euphoria
  • Fear
  • Forgiveness
  • Frustration
  • Gratitude
  • Grief
  • Guilt
  • Hatred
  • Hope
  • Horror
  • Hostility
  • Happiness
  • Homesickness
  • Hunger
  • Hysteria
  • Interest
  • Loneliness
  • Love
  • Paranoia
  • Pity
  • Pleasure
  • Pride
  • Rage
  • Regret
  • Remorse
  • Shame
  • Suffering
  • Sympathy
  • Sadness
  • Surprise

(Credit: IAmAttila)

One last thing about emotions.

People often ask me whether positive or negative emotions work better for Facebook.

Overall, studies have shown that positively worded ads get better engagement on Facebook.

However, negatively worded ads will “force” your market to pay attention to your ads, though it might not necessarily improve your ad performance.

My take is it depends heavily on your offer and your market.

If you are in a pain-driven market e.g. Insurance, you definitely want to focus on negative consequences, things that might happen if they don’t take a certain action. Below is one example of such an ad:

But if you are in a pleasure-driven market e.g. entertainment, you want to focus on positive emotions and outcomes. However, this doesn’t mean you cannot take advantage of pain.

Here’s an ad from one of our workshop participants, Escape Hunt Experience.

The pain we address here is related to boredom.

It might not be a strong pain but it’s enough to get our target market (students) pay attention and trigger the emotions that they want to avoid.

It also helps that we do not spend too much time dwelling on the pain, making the ad more positive a a whole. 

Note: You want to be very careful not to trigger overly negative emotions in your market as it might lead to backlash. Some audience e.g. young parents might react negatively to your ads and report your ad to Facebook.

Last but not least…

6. Your Ad Should Always Be Congruent With The Landing Page

The more congruent your ad is to your landing page (the page your market’s going to end up on after they click on the ad), the lower the chance they will leave your page immediately and the higher the likelihood that they will convert into a lead or a sale.

Remember, to some extent, your Facebook ads “pre-frame” your prospect and sets out a certain expectation.  If you talk about one thing on your ad and your prospect clicks on the ad only to go to a page that talks about something entirely different, you’re going to lose them.

Here’s an example from another one of the campaigns we ran:

For this campaign, we managed to get 12 leads at just $2.09 each. This is despite the fact that we tell them upfront that the offer is priced at $28.

We even collected 6 phone numbers on the next page so the company can contact them directly for an appointment.

Notice how we use the same colours and the same promise across our ads and landing page.

To ensure congruence, we usually start off by designing the landing page first and deciding on the central message or hook of the landing page copy.

We’ll then write the ads based on variations or ideas related to the main hook. This will ensure that we do not deviate too far from the central message.

Alright, now – I hope these 6 rules give you a good idea of what to do when you’re creating your ad. Here’s a quick summary of the rules.

  1. The Purpose Of An Ad Is To Get A Click
  2. All Ads Should Only Have One Core Message
  3. Keep Your Ads Short & Simple
  4. Write To One Person
  5. Focus On One Emotion
  6. Your Ad Should Always Be Congruent With The Landing Page

Now that you understand the rules…

It’s Time To Start Writing Your Ad Copy! 

All you have to do now is to open up your word processor. I like to use something simple like Notepad in Windows or the Notes app in Mac.

Step 1: Write Down The Core Message

This is usually a one liner or phrase that tells me exactly what my ad will be about.

I usually use a series of “Ad Angle” tools and exercises to brainstorm about 30 ad angles I can use for my ads. This ensures that I never run out of ideas for my ads.

If you do experience the “writers block” when it comes to writing ads, one of the best solutions is to do even more in-depth research into your market, solution and maybe even your competitors.

Step 2: Write The Post Text 

I start off with the post text because the post text is essentially the meat of the ad copy. It sets the tone for the rest of the copy. I use this to build my argument for the whole ad copy. If the argument is weak, I might move on to another ad angle or message.

Step 3: Write The headline.

Usually this summarizes my core message. I put in extra effort to make sure that my headline triggers curiosity and/or have a benefit attached to it.

Step 4: Write The Description.

Like I mentioned, the description is the easy part of the copy. You make it as direct as possible. I usually don’t spend too much time here. I usually copy and paste descriptions across different ads to save time if I’m busy.

Step 5: Find & Edit The Image 

This is probably the most time consuming part of the ad copywriting process.

My preference is to use existing photos we took of our products and services. These usually come across as “real”.

If needed, I’ll look for an image via Pexels.com or Google Images. Sometimes, I do purchase images from stock photo sites like Getty Images.

We prefer to edit the ad image if possible. And the tool we use is Canva, which allows us to create professional looking ad images even if we do not have a design background.

If I’m short of time, I usually go straight to use the free stock images on Facebook. The only downside of doing this is that I don’t get a chance to edit the images and improve the results later.

Once you’re done, you’ll go straight into Ad Manager or Power Editor to set up your ad. Test it out and see what kind of results you can get. If you have an existing ad, you can easily improve them by applying the guidelines I shared in this post.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised how much your ad performance will improve by just applying one or two of the guidelines I covered.

And… that brings us to the end of this step by step guide on how to create Facebook ads that actually sell to your audience, and give you great ROI on your ad spend.

If you’re ready for the next level, and want to level up your online marketing game, be sure to check out GrowthX, our online business growth membership that complies our business growth expertise with trainings from top international digital marketers at the link below.


About the Author:

Adam Teow is a customer acquisition expert who has managed more than $5.5 million dollars of advertising budget over his 7 years of experience in digital marketing for global brands such as SKII and Gillette. He has trained over 1,500 business owners and marketers and helped them generate millions of dollars of additional revenue for their businesses.