Case Study: How To Turn $2,165 in Facebook Ads into $25,285 in Online Course Enrollment

paid social social media Mar 04, 2020

Facebook is arguably the most effective marketing platform for reaching cold traffic.

But that’s the caveat there…you’re often targeting cold traffic.

As a result, it’s easy to spend a lot of money on Facebook with little to show for your investment if you don’t have the right strategy in place.

You can’t simply choose a few targeting options and magically watch the money flow in.

You need to be smart because no one likes being sold to. You have to make people know, like and trust you.

That’s why I want to share this case study with you!

You’re about to see how I turned $2,165 in Facebook Ads into over $25,000 in sales for one of my clients.

This client runs an online career school and wanted to generate more leads in order to get prospects to enroll in a certification program.

Here’s how we did it…

Step 1: Build A Warm Audience

Most online businesses just scream “HERE’S OUR SERVICE BUY TODAY” in their advertising.

Please don’t do that… literally no one in the world finds that appealing.

People want to come to their own decisions about what they want to buy.

This is where your content comes into play.

Luckily, this client already had a lot of great content to share, mostly in the form of blog posts and contests.

Here are a few examples:

Sharing this type of content on Facebook (and around the web) does 2 very important things:

  1. It builds branding and goodwill among our target audience. None of these posts are selling anything. They lead with value and get people accustomed to seeing the brand around the web.
  2. It builds our “remarketing” list on Facebook of people who has visited our website and engaged with our content. That builds our “warm audience.”

Here are some other things you can do to build brand awareness and goodwill on Facebook while creating a warm audience:

  • Facebook Live
  • eBooks/ Free Guides /Checklists
  • Customer stories/testimonials
  • Videos / slideshows
  • Infographics


Step 2: Target Audience Research

Most businesses can only describe their target audience at a very high level.

Some examples include:

  • Women who live in Manhattan
  • Young professional making $40,000-$50,000 annually
  • Millennials


If you simply describe your audience as any of the above examples, can you really hone in on their pain points or identify solutions to their problems? Not a chance.

Instead, describe your avatar based on their interests and intent. I like to do this using a grid. Below is an example of how it ended up looking like for this client:

Step 3: Sales Ad Creative & Copy

So before we dive into all the ad details for this case study…

Here’s a quick look at just one of the ads you would have seen in your newsfeed (the school has 3 core programs, but I’m only showing one example here because all the ads shard the same core principles).

Newsfeed ad creative and copy:

Take note of a couple of things here. First, we used a long copy with the ad. That’s because the school sells a $3,000 online program…a significant investment. With that high of a cost, you can’t just have a simple one-liner and expect people to enroll. But we nevertheless tested long-copy versus short-copy and the long-copy version one (confirming our hypothesis that more convincing was required.

Second, notice the copy itself and how it starts with a question and then progresses into a story. This goes back to the principle I stated earlier, people don’t like being sold to. The question at the beginning sparks curiosity…who doesn’t want to turn their passion into a career? And then the story format hooks the user into your message because it’s something that they can relate to.

Lastly, the image itself is critical. It would have been very easy to just show a generic picture of a person smiling with a dog. But it was important for us to show in the outcome here (in this case, a woman training a dog) because people need to be able to look into the future. Marketing is all about transformation, so if you can’t show that then you will lose people’s attention.

Step 4: Ad Details (First month)

Impressions: 205,117

Frequency: 1.86

Unique Link Clicks: 2,587

Cost Per Click: $0.84

Total Cost: $2,165.68

Leads: 1,073

Cost Per Lead: $2.02


  • Custom audience: Website traffic
  • Lookalike audience: Website Traffic
  • Page Fans (and their friends)
  • Fans of: Association of Professional Dog Trainers, Cesar Millan, Clicker Training, Dog Training, Karen Pryor, Victoria Stillwell


For the campaign, we used Facebook’s Lead Gen ads. If you’re not familiar with these, it’s an ad format that allows users to view more information and submit a contact form without ever leaving the Facebook platform. Both the user and Facebook like this because it makes the process more seamless.

The less friction you can create between a person and a desirable action, the better results you will get.  

Here’s what the lead form looks like once you click the ad:

Notice that the user’s first name, last name and email are already pre-filled once the lead form is opened (covered here for privacy). Facebook already knows this information from their profile and the email they signed onto the platform.

It is important to note, however, that lead gen ads are not for every business. Because of the frictionless process, it creates, you tend to get a higher volume of leads than you would if you were to send them to a landing page. Generally, this is a good thing unless you don’t have the systems in place to handle the higher volume. This client did have the system and staff to handle the increased volume, but that’s not the case for everyone.

The moral of the story? Proceed with caution.

Step 5: The Results

So you already saw some of the numbers for the initial month. Pretty good, right? But those numbers are meaningless without something to compare to.

Previously the ad targeting for the client was inefficient, ads were fatigued and the allotted budget was underutilized. Once we took over the account, we obtained greater results in 4 months than the previous 10 months combined!

Imagine if you were able to generate more leads in just 4 months than you did in almost an entire year. How would that impact your business? This is powerful stuff!

And here are some other metrics that saw a nice improvement…

But what about sales? As we all know, a lot of leads mean nothing without a positive return on investment. This client tracks sales from sources very meticulously in various spreadsheets. Below is what they provided me from just the first month of running the ads.

$25,000 in revenue from just $2,100 in spending is a return on ad spend (ROAS) of 1,167%. Not too shabby, especially when you consider that most leads for this client take around 30 days to close. So being able to enroll that many students in the first month alone was a huge win!

This meant that not only were new enrollments already coming in, but a massive pipeline of potential students was being built for the coming months. The campaign was a huge success all around.

Step 6: How To Use These Strategies For Your Online Business

Even if you don’t sell online courses, I’m confident the principles that I laid out here can help almost any online-based business.

Online coaches, consultants, motivational speakers, digital product sellers, web designers, graphic designers, tutors, bloggers, podcasters  and everyone in between!

Here’s how you can apply these strategies in your business:

    • Create content for brand awareness: People want to buy from people/brands they know, like and trust. Helpful content that’s valuable to your target audience and builds credibility before you ask them to make a purchase. If you don’t have any content readily available, just create some basic videos with your phone. No need to get fancy!
    • Know your target customer better than they know themselves: This is the part most people skip because people hate doing research. But it’s the most important part! It’s absolutely important to know the fears, hopes, dreams behaviors and interests of your target audience. When you do this, not only will you be able to speak their language but you’ll be able to offer them the exact solution to their problems.
    • Target “warm audiences” with offers: Earlier we discussed how it’s not a good idea to hit random people over the head with a “buy now” sign. In the same way, you want to show your opt-in offers (like lead magnets, sales offers, events, etc.) to the people who have already engaged with your brand.
    • Follow up with “hot audiences” with offers: This consists of people who engaged with you in the previous step but did not take you up on your offer. There’s no reason to give up on them. We live in a very distracted world and people take time to make decisions. If they don’t take you up on your initial offer, follow up with something else that may interest them.


Summary (Plus, What You Should Do Next…)

Learning what has worked for others is just the first step.

But if you really want to maximize your potential online, you need to have a very clear strategy in place…

That’s why I put together this fun and interactive quiz. It takes less than 90 seconds to complete, and afterward, you’ll get a very clear idea of how strong your online marketing strategy is.


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