Facebook lead ads are here!

Facebook has rolled out a new form of advertising that’s now available to marketers everywhere. Lead ads make the process seamless for marketers to ask for info like emails, names, job titles, and more. The process is smooth and easy for Facebook users, too, as they never need to leave Facebook. (It’s very similar to how a Twitter lead gen card might work.)

I find this pretty exciting for a few reasons:

  1. Generating leads from Facebook may have just got a whole lot simpler.
  2. We can’t wait to try them out ourselves!

As we’re learning tons about how these work and the best way to implement them, we wanted to share a few reflections on Facebook’s latest tool for marketers.

facebook lead ads

First off, what are Facebook lead ads?

TL;DR: Facebook’s lead ads let you generate leads without the person ever needing to leave Facebook.

The lead-generation forms that would normally live on a landing page are automatically prefilled with Facebook user data. Woohoo!

For example, let’s say we wanted to promote our social media strategy email course on Facebook to grow our email list. These new ads make it super simple for people to hop aboard—without ever leaving Facebook.

Here’s how that works:

First, someone in our targeted audience sees the ad. It looks very much like an everyday Facebook advertisement.



But check out that sweet “Sign up” button! If someone’s interested in taking this course, here’s what happens when they click on that button:


Facebook automatically fills in the person’s email address from their Facebook profile! Our friend Marcus didn’t have to leave Facebook or even type in his email address for anything: all he has to do is tap “Submit” at the bottom.

And when he does . . . BOOM! He’s all signed up, just like that.



Why are lead ads such a big deal?

That’s what I wondered at first.

After all, Facebook has allowed interactive ads for a good long time now. We can already run ads that allow people to perform all kinds of cool actions by tapping a button, including:

  • Liking a Facebook business page
  • RSVP-ing for an event
  • Install or open apps
  • Get a special sales offer

But Lead Ads can change the game in a few major, major ways—especially for the small business owners doing their own marketing atop everything else.

4 ways Facebook lead ads change the social media advertising game

The team and I have put together a list of ways this new kind of Facebook advertising might be super helpful.

1. Lead ads pull from data that Facebook has already collected

One thing that’s difficult for me as a marketer is getting “enough” information about leads. A lead is created when someone trades some form of contact information in exchange for something of value. A rather popular lead-generation exchange we see in marketing involves someone trading their email address for an ebook or whitepaper.

But is an email address enough? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

I’ve found that in many cases, an email address is just the starting point, but you need some more bits of information to know if they’re the kind of people you should be targeting your marketing efforts on.

For example,

  • Sometimes you need to know if a lead is a decision-maker at their organization. In this case, you may need their job title.
  • Sometimes you need to know where they’re located, which might involve getting their state or ZIP code info.
  • Sometimes you might even need a phone number.

But asking for more information often makes for a longer form, and longer forms can get abandoned—because not everyone wants to fill them out!

Facebook’s lead ads seem to make a big difference here. Instead of people hitting a form with multiple fields to fill out, Facebook fills out those boxes for them—because they’ve already given Facebook that information on their profile!

2. Lead ads help you capture leads without needing to build landing pages or forms

This might be the most popular aspect of Facebook’s lead ads: now, you don’t need to build any more assets between your offer and your ad. You can just capture those leads straight from Facebook!

Here’s why that’s such a big deal:

Without lead ads, if you wanted to run a lead gen campaign using Facebook ads, one way to do it would have been the traditional lead-gen way:

  1. Create your offer (that piece of content like an ebook or whitepaper that you’d trade to people for their contact information).
  2. Create a form to capture leads’ email addresses (and maybe some other info).
  3. Create a landing page for that form to live on.
  4. Create some ads pointing your target audience to your landing page.

That’s a lot of work. Not only do you have to create that piece of content you’re giving away, but then you need to build landing pages and forms just to make it available to the people you made it for.

And that’s assuming you can create landing pages and forms yourself. I’m not so handy with code, which means if I’m a small business owner, I may have to pay for extra services to help me create those forms and landing pages. (There’s nothing wrong with this of course—it can just get a little pricey!)

But Facebook lead ads don’t need landing pages. They let you set up the ad, and then the ad handles all the work of capturing that information. You don’t need to make a landing page, you don’t need to write AJAX forms, none of that. Woohoo, right? =)

3. Facebook lead ads put fewer steps between your audience and your offer.

Remember those four kinds of marketing assets we listed in the previous section?

  1. Content you’re giving away
  2. Form
  3. Landing page
  4. Ad

If you flip that list upside-down, you see what your audience’s experience would look like. It’s roughly four steps long:

  1. Click an ad
  2. Leave Facebook to go to a landing page
  3. Fill out a form
  4. Get that free content!

There’s nothing wrong with this process. (I’m pretty used to it as a customer!) But Facebook’s lead ads eliminate the need for landing pages and forms . . . which means the user’s experience goes from four steps long to only three:

  1. Click an ad
  2. Confirm my info
  3. Get that free content!

Wow. At first glance, this is already shaving about 25% of the complexity out of this process—which is terrific. But I think it gets even better . . .

4. Facebook lead ads don’t pull people out of Facebook

I feel like this is a golden, golden win for everyone.

We looked at how, with lead ads, your audience doesn’t need to visit a landing page to get to your awesome lead-generation content. It’s a simpler, more straightforward way to get to your offer. (Huzzah!)

But that means your audience gets to stay in Facebook, which can be a huge win for two big reasons:

  1. Your audience feels less interrupted. With lead ads, your audience can see your ad, sign up to get your content, and then smoothly transition right back to browsing their News Feed.
  2. Your audience doesn’t have to wait for a new page to load. Instead, they’re served up that option to confirm info immediately. This can be a HUGE deal for mobile users especially!

A great resource on how Facebook lead ads work

Jon Loomer has written a fantastic summary of how Facebook lead ads work. He’s got a detailed step-by-step tutorial lined up, along with some thoughts on how they have worked for his lead generation campaigns. Thanks so much for the fantastic article, Jon! =D

Over to you

What do you think? Have you taken lead ads for a spin? If so, I’d love to hear how they’ve worked for you!

I’m also curious: We’re running a lead ads campaign right now ourselves—would you be interested in hearing how that goes in a future blog post? 😉

I cannot wait to chat over this with you in the comments!

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Written by Jeffrey Kranz

Jeffrey Kranz is CEO and co-founder of Overthink Group, a content marketing and strategy agency. He gets a kick out of making things “learnable.”

  • Jeff- Excellent post (I’m going to link to it from my newsletter). The mobile aspect that you touched upon is really key. With about 75% of the contacts occurring on mobile devices it has been a challenge to get people to fill out forms.

    Would be great if you could share your experience with a lead ad, in fact, I wish I knew of a live one so that I could catch the experience first hand.

    • Thanks so much for the kind words, and the newsletter nod, Jeff! I suppose we Jeffreys need to stick together, right? 😉

      As a user (someone getting advertised to), I’ve found the lead ads experience to be pretty seamless. However, I’ve only ever clicked on ads that ask for my email address and nothing more, so I’d be curious to see how more complex lead ad forms feel.

      Agreed: a straightforward mobile experience is key!

  • Wahiba Chair

    Thanks for this informative, post, Jeff. With Facebook being the “incumbent” and most attractive social ad platform to date, this does sound like a key feature they have must have thought through carefully. First I thought it was more like Twitter’s lead gen card, but now I understood better the full benefit of the integration and seamless experience – it would be interesting to try it out and look at acquisition costs and conversion rates vs. the “traditional” method of using a landing page on your site (e.g.using FB ad + unbounce). Have you tried it yourself? Do you have any benchmarks so far? You mention small businesses, but do you see this as more of a B2B play?

    • Awesome question, Wahiba! I don’t feel like I can call it as to whether or not it’s going to be better for small businesses or the bigger B2B players—not yet, anyway! 😉

      Lead ads seem to be rocking it for Jon Loomer (he’s pulling in leads at about half the cost!), and Buffer has begun running some lead ads, too—but I’m not sure how the campaign is working for them vis-a-vie the traditional route.

      I’m especially curious to see how this influences marketing to gen Z! =)

  • Great article! Lead Ads will be a game changer for marketers and advertisers. We are already working on the integration into https://syncsumo.com so the leads go right into your CRM ?

  • Sherman Smith

    Hey Jeffrey,

    Wow this is all new to me and it sounds like it’s going to be very convenient for all of us that have small businesses and home businesses. But I do have one question though. Do you still have to bid for a ad like you would for facebook PPC?

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  • Thanks, Jeff!

    • You bet, Jon! Thanks so much (again) for your terrific write-up. =D

  • Great article Jeff! Lead Ads will be a game changer for marketers. We are already working on the integration into https://syncsumo.com so the leads go right into your CRM

    • Hey, hey hey! That’s awesome news! =D

      And thanks for the kind words, BTW. 😉

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  • These are exciting times for small business owners and even boutique agencies! I discovered lead ads a little over a week ago and launched a small test run that same day. Having tried and failed numerous web marketing initiatives to generate leads for this particular client (industry is extremely competitive and dominated by traditional marketing techniques, not to mention that my client is a small fish in that pond), I was excited to see small but significant results from my small test run. This is the most exciting and disruptive release from Facebook that I’ve seen to date!

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  • I feel that successful lead ads are contingent on the quality of the ad itself. Landing pages are great for convincing folks to engage in any desired CTA. With Lead Ads, we lose the opportunity to convince folks (if that’s needed.) Secondly, do we lose the opportunity to retarget the folks who clicked on the button but didn’t actually sign up inside the lead ad form? Or, can we build a custom audience around those folks? I do feel like this will be great for mobile.

    • Thanks so much for the comment, Caleb! Hm, I’m not sure about retargeting—that sounds like it would be awesome if it were the case!

      I agree: for lead ads to work well, I think it’s all about having a very apparently compelling offer, since you have less time/space to “sell” people on it. My guess: it’s probably super effective for people who have already had some exposure to your brand, but it might be a little forward for complete strangers. But that’s just my guess: I think case studies will be the better judges of this! 😉

    • On the flip side, I wonder if the highest quality leads are the ones that need less “jazz hands” to submit their info? Great thought-provoking questions you bring up. My guess is Lead Ads are probably a great addition to the full suite but I wouldn’t want to shift all my resources to them …

  • Thanks Jeff, great post! We’ve just created an infographic about everything there is to know about Lead Ads – curious to hear what you think. See http://connectio.io/facebook-lead-ads-everything-you-need-to-know-in-one-infographic/ 🙂

  • Do you know if we can edit lead forms yet? I want to change up an answer to one of the custom questions I created and rearrange the order in which they’re displayed.

  • Sarah Mahi

    Step-by-Step Guide Facebook Lead Ads into Viral Contests

  • mawy

    Profound article Jeff. I use the free plan on http://snaptiks.com/leadTunnels/ and it is really so simple and free for ever 🙂

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  • Michele

    Very good post Jeff! I was wondering how your Lead ads campaign went and if you did that blog post about it.. 😉 I’m part of the team at LeadsBridge, we sync in real time Facebook data with over 40 CRM/email marketing software. We’ve seen so far that Facebook Lead Ads can be up to 8 times cheaper for lead acquisition compared to other advertising channels. That’s why many of our clients are moving on average 70% of their total Facebook ads budget to the Lead Ads format!
    Here’s an article about 7 unconventional ways tu use Lead ads, hope it can be interesting for the community here at Buffer: https://leadsbridge.com/7-unconventional-ways-to-use-facebook-lead-ads-to-improve-your-business/

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