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Beyond Free Traffic: A Paid Advertising Strategy That Works

Beyond Free Traffic: A Paid Advertising Strategy That Works

By Pat Flynn on

This is a guest post from Rick Mulready of

I met Rick last year when he came down to San Diego for a lunch and it was super easy to get along with him because he’s such a down-to-Earth and friendly kind of guy. But what intrigued me most about him was his 10+ years of experience in the online space, which all had to do with paid traffic.

I’ve dabbled before, and personally my previous experience with paid traffic is pretty much synonymous with that of an ex-girlfriend:

“We gave it a shot, but it just didn’t work out…”

“It started off nicely, but then she turned on me…”

and the classic: “I gave her everything, and got nothing in return…”

[insert your own here]

My only small success with paid ads came when I did a tiny $50 experiment to get more Facebook Fans, but overall, my experience wasn’t good. So when I met Rick, I became extremely interested in his line of work, and as we started talking more and more about it, I became fascinated.

I realized that:

  1. I had no idea what I was doing before.
  2. There’s a TON of potential with paid traffic, especially when it comes to extremely targeted leads and customers.
  3. It’s nothing to be scared of, as long as you’re educated going into it.

I learned a lot from Rick and thought it would be cool to have him write a guest post for SPI specifically about paid traffic—why and when it should be considered an option, what platform is the best, and how to get started.

So, without further delay, here’s Rick!


Paying for traffic to your website gets a bad rap.

I mean, who wants to pay money to get people to their site when there are so many other effective, no-cost ways to build an audience (writing epic content, SEO, social media, guest posting, etc.), right?

Look, I get it. I really do.


I believe Facebook Ads are an exception that should be considered.

Why Facebook ads?

  • When free traffic just isn’t providing the kind of numbers you want to see, Facebook ads are a great way to reach your ideal niche audience/client, and kick it up a notch fast and on a limited budget.
  • When you need more diversified traffic to your site because Google’s Panda updates wrecked your organic search results.
  • When you have an idea for a product, but aren’t sure if there is a market for it, test it on Facebook to see if there is any interest before creating it.
  • If you’re launching a new product, but want to find a name for it that is going to generate the most sales, do a test run on Facebook with a variety of names and see which one gets the most clicks.

There are more than 800 million people (yes 800 MILLION!) on Facebook today.  This lends you an instant opportunity to reach hundreds of millions of potential customers, subscribers or readers that may not know to search for you in Google.

Facebook gives you the ability to set-up extremely specific targeting for your ads so they can be seen by your exact niche audience.

I’m not suggesting that you abandon your SEO efforts or other strategies that are free to do.

Rather, I’m suggesting that the unique form of advertising that Facebook provides can help you in ways that you may not have considered.

What I’d like to show you are some tips and creative ways you can use Facebook advertising to build your audience and grow your online business.

The #1 Thing You MUST DO FIRST

There’s something you can do to increase the chances for a successful ad campaign on Facebook and I can’t tell you how many people DON’T do this.  Well, I can, but that’s a whole other story.

Research your exact target audience before you set-up your campaign.

Unless you know precisely who your target audience is, don’t be one of those people who jumps right into setting up a campaign and skips this step.  You’ll save yourself time and money by taking a few minutes to do it.

There are several ways you can research your target audience:

Google Analytics:

A great place to start is what you know about your existing customers or website visitors.

  • Are they male or female?
  • How old are they?
  • Where do they live?
  • What are their interests?
  • What other websites do they frequently visit?

Know your competitors:

If you don’t know who they are, you should.

Check out their Facebook page and pay close attention to comments people leave, which posts draw the most reactions, what people are “Liking”, etc…

All of this is great intelligence you can use when setting up your own ad campaign.


Ever notice that small graph-looking icon in the right corner underneath a video you’re watching?

When you click on it it gives you some great data about people who have watched the video — viewer age ranges, countries where people are watching the video, etc…

YouTube Screenshot

Also, scan the comments to read what people like and dislike about the video.  There can be valuable insights here.


Quantcast is a free online tool that provides details about audiences for all website owners.  You simply type in a website whose audience you’re interested in learning more about.

The amount of information available from site to site can vary (the smaller the website that you’re searching about the less data there will be) but the insight you can gain from Quantcast is awesome. My favorite bit of data is a breakdown and list of other sites people are likely to visit.

This is GOLD when you’re using “Interest Targeting” on Facebook because you can learn more about the interests of people who go to that site.

You’ll also find standard data here that you would find with Google Analytics, but the demographics go a bit deeper to include things like site visitor income levels and the # of children per household.


Alexa is another free online resource that gives you insights into the visitors of other websites.

You can use it for a number of insights including how popular a competitor’s website is and finding new competitive websites that you may not have realized existed.

BONUS TIP: In addition to using these resources for your Facebook ad campaign research, they’re also great when researching niches that you may want to start working in.

Who Doesn’t Want to Sell More Products? A Case Study hosts large online niche sales once or twice a year.  You may remember Pat talking about it a couple of times last year.

The people behind Only72 bring together the biggest names in a given niche (personal development, for example), compile their best-selling online products (such as guides or courses), and discount them by over 90% for a limited time (72 hours).

Only72 wanted to reach new people who weren’t already on their email list and who wouldn’t have normally heard about the sale.

Facebook’s enormous audience and the ability to uniquely target its users were a natural fit for this campaign.

In addition to pinpoint targeting — images, headlines, ad copy, and landing page were all designed to grab attention and create a sense of urgency.

This campaign worked so well, in fact, there was a 364% return-on-investment.

Here’s one of the ads that performed extremely well:

Facebook Ad 1

Why it works:

  • This ad catches user’s attention right away with the colorful image of the pretty woman.  With all the clutter on Facebook pages these days, the image is the most important part of the ad.
  • The headline stirs an emotion of empowerment and motivation.
  • The ad copy clearly outlines what the product offering is (“22 courses/products”), the value being offered ($1087 worth…for $97) and then further provides further validation by highlighting that courses/products are from the “biggest online personal development bloggers and authors.”
  • Users also explicitly know the price ($97).  Including the price is a great tactic to filter out qualified customers.
  • A sense of urgency is implied — “Only 36 hours left.”

Landing Page:

We all know how important a landing page is when trying to convert website traffic to paying customers.

The landing page used for this campaign prominently displayed exactly what was stated in the copy of the ad – “22 personal development courses from 25 amazing people…”  This was done so the user didn’t experience any surprises when they clicked.

The landing page also clearly listed out each of the courses/products, their authors, and the price they normally sell for individually.

There was a clear call-to-action (a red button with “Get Instant Access”) and a digital clock in the upper right counting down to the end of the sale.  This clock further created a sense of urgency for the person to buy without further delay.


“Precise Interest” targeting was used to reach users who have an interest in things like the following:

  • Personal development
  • Personal growth
  • Productivity
  • The 4-Hour Workweek

“Fans” of people like Tim Ferriss, Tony Robbins, and Gary Vaynerchuk were also targeted because their brands align with the products and courses being offered.

If You Don’t Test, You’ll Hate Yourself Later:

In any kind of online advertising, testing is THE most important thing you can do.

Different images, headlines, ad copy, and landing pages should all be tested to see which performs best.

The 364% ROI was the result of testing all these variables and ultimately only running the ads with the best combinations.

Do yourself a favor…be diligent about testing.

Grow Your Business Page Through Facebook Page Ads

I want to expand on Pat’s advice about building your Facebook audience quickly.

His last tip in that video offers Facebook ads as a viable way to increase your Fan numbers.

I couldn’t agree more!

These ads are called Facebook Page ads or sometimes called “engagement ads.”

A couple of things have changed, though, since he put that video out; a few things I think you’ll find game-changing.

First and foremost, you can now target friends of people who are already Fans of your page.  This is Facebook’s bread and butter — leveraging social proof and word-of-mouth promotion.

After all, you’re more likely to do something at the suggestion of a friend than a total stranger, right?

When setting up your ad, you’ll see this option:

Connections on Facebook

Attract Your Ideal Audience

The other part that has evolved over the past couple of years is the “Interest targeting.”

Hopefully you have a picture in your mind of the ideal person who will benefit most from your niche business. (If you don’t, I’d jump to the “Do this before anything else” portion of this post.)

“Interest targeting” is a great way to put your business in front of your exact target audience.

This targeting has only gotten better because, whether we like it or not, Facebook now takes all of our status updates, “Likes”, personal profile info, what we post on other people’s Walls, groups we belong to, etc… and uses it to target ads to us.

A little scary, but true.

Have a site in the personal finance niche, for example?  You can target your ads to people who work at the Wall Street Journal if you want.  Awesome.

Facebook Interests Targeting

This type of ad is so effective because all your ideal customer has to do is click “Like” within the ad to become a Fan of your business and start getting your updates.

They don’t even leave the page they’re on when they click.

Pretty cool.

Here’s an example:

Facebook Ad Example 2

By clicking “Like” I would automatically register as a Fan and start getting updates from AmEx Open.

Pat has mentioned it several times when he talks about his Facebook strategy but once you get someone to Like your page, you MUST engage with them on a regular basis.

Share great content with them, interact with them and grow your relationship.  This is one way people start to trust you and ultimately become buyers of your product.

Test Product Ideas BEFORE Creation

Have an idea for a niche product but unsure whether there’s a desire for it?

You can test market reaction to a product idea before creating it by using targeted Facebook ads.

Tim Ferriss talked a lot about this kind of testing in The Four-Hour Workweek but he did it with Google AdWords.

As we’ve discussed, set up your targeting so the ideal audience for your product idea will see your ads.

Test different versions of images, headlines and ad copy which all revolve around your product and variations of your idea.  Give your ads some time to run and then see which of your ads perform the best.

I wouldn’t worry too much about the landing page with this kind of test because you’re really only concerned with how many times people are clicking on your ads.

Was the click-through rate high? (the average on Facebook is about 0.04%)

Was there one ad that people interacted with more than another?

This kind of testing can give you invaluable feedback about a niche product idea before you spend the time and resources to create it.

Testing Ebook Titles—A Case Study

Similar to testing niche product ideas, if you’re writing an ebook you can also test different titles to see which most resonates with your target audience.

I did this recently with Scott Dinsmore over at

Scott just released an awesome book/course called “Live Off Your Passion—An Unconventional Guide to Finding Passion and Getting Paid to Do Work You Love.”

He wanted to be sure he was using a title that people were drawn to and ultimately one that drove people to buy the book.

He gave me 10-15 potential titles and sub-titles and I created a bunch of ads with different combinations of these titles.

From what I knew about his brand and audience, I set up the targeting to ensure his ideal customer would see his ads.  (The targeting that performed the best was Fans of Tony Robbins and the book Think and Grow Rich).

Here are a couple examples of the ads:

Facebook Ad Example 3

I kept the image the same because I didn’t want it affecting the click-through.  I was more interested in which headline and ad copy resonated with people.

In some of the ads (like the one on the left) I also included a call-to-action because we also wanted to see if we could collect any email addresses on the landing page.  This was merely a secondary benefit but it was really successful as 12% of those who clicked on the ad ended up subscribing to Scott’s blog.

I let the ads run for a few days before seeing which of the ads had the best click-through rates.

In the end, there was a clear winner and “Live Off Your Passion—An Unconventional Guide to Finding Passion and Getting Paid to Do Work You Love” became the title to Scott’s new book/course.

Gift for SPI Readers: Download my Facebook Ads Guide for FREE!

I’ve only just touched on the possibilities that exist with Facebook ads but hopefully you’ve gotten some actionable tips and ideas that you can take and use for your own niche.

If you’re not yet advertising on Facebook but want to get started, I want to help.  Hell, even if you’re already running ads, I want to help.

I’ve put together a great free guide where I walk you through step-by-step exactly how to set up your own campaign and I explain each step along the way.

Consider it a road-map.

By the time you finish reading it, you’ll be creating and running your own campaigns.

To download the free guide, simply click here: [Editor’s Note: This offer has expired.]

Rick Mulready created I Rock Paid Traffic to help online entrepreneurs and small businesses grow their businesses through Facebook advertising.  He’s been in the online marketing space for the past 11 years, plays rec-league ice hockey every week, is a die-hard Washington Capitals fan and tries to keep up (often unsuccessfully) with the CrossFit workout-of-the-day.

If you have any questions or comment for Rick or about paid traffic in general, please leave them below. Cheers!

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