How to Use Paid Ads to Generate Leads: 6 Essential Tips for SMBs

7 Min Read

In the right hands, paid ads are like dynamite. A well-structured ad campaign can help you with your lead generation plan. And despite rising PPC costs, many businesses, both large and small, drive a significant return-on-investment from paid ads.

But getting started can feel overwhelming. And you likely have a lot of questions. Which platforms should you begin with, for example? How do you implement a rigorous analytics infrastructure so you can measure results? Are elements of your broader ad funnel, including landing pages and email sequences, up to scratch?

If you feel confused, don’t worry. In this post, we’re going to outline six tips that will help you plan and implement your first successful campaign.

1.  Consider an Agency

Before you dive into the process of building an in-house team and implementing your own campaigns, it’s worth considering an agency. Outsourcing your PPC campaigns may prove far more cost-effective in the long-run than handling everything yourself, especially if you don’t already employ people with the relevant skill-sets and experience. What’s more, good agencies with expertise that’s specific to your industry are easy to find.

Agencies tend to fall into one of two categories. General agencies will handle wide-ranging campaigns over multiple platforms. Alternatively, bespoke services, like Facebook ads agencies, tend to focus on a smaller number of platforms and areas of expertise. It’s worth considering both types. Research your options thoroughly and make sure you ask about past experience with companies similar to your own.

2.  Focus on One Platform Initially

There are lots of platforms to choose from: Facebook, Google Adwords, Instagram, LinkedIn, Bing Ads, to name just a few. Deciding which one to start with can be difficult. Often, companies will opt for newer platforms in the belief that ad prices will be cheaper. Or they may go with a bigger alternative like Facebook because it offers a wider reach. Both of these approaches essentially involve taking a stab in the dark.

Your decision about which ad platform to use should be guided by data. In particular, you should gather demographic and psychographic information about a site or network’s users and see how closely they match your own customers.

3.  Create Compelling Headlines and Graphics

In their eagerness to master the technical aspects of running an ad campaign, many companies forget about the actual ads themselves. It’s common to see well-organized campaigns with uninspiring, poorly-designed visual and textual elements.

You should focus on creating compelling graphics and headlines, based on detailed buyer personas, from the get-go. A variety of inexpensive tools, like Canva and Photoshop, enable you to create professional graphics for a fraction of what a professional will charge.

And if you don’t have the relevant expertise in-house, hire somebody that does. Investing a little now will be far more cost-effective in the long-term than running a campaign with sub-par ads.

4.  Refine Your Whole lead Funnel

Remember that paid ads form just one part of your sales funnel. You might have the most beautifully-designed ads on the planet along with a perfectly-optimized campaign. But if your new leads are landing on poorly-built landing pages or receiving boring follow-up emails, your ad strategy won’t count for much.

Ensure that leads are being nurtured through a tested, well-thought-out funnel that includes dedicated landing pages, email nurturing sequences, free gifts and promotions, phone or in-person follow-up, and retargeting. Many companies become disillusioned after failing to generate results from their ads. But often it’s the surrounding elements, that make up the broader sales funnel, that are at fault.

5.  Test New Platforms

Once you start making headway with a particular platform, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Google Adwords, or any other, don’t be afraid to start branching out. Specifically, pay attention to up-and-coming websites and networks, especially social media sites, that present low-cost opportunities. By taking a diverse approach and testing new services, you can leverage untapped markets before your competitors.

While you shouldn’t focus exclusively on these platforms, it’s usually a good idea to allocate at least some of your budget for trying out potentially lucrative opportunities. The same principle also applies to new features and ad formats on networks that you leverage as part of your existing strategy.

6.  Pay Close Attention to Analytics

If you’re going to drive a positive return-on-investment from your ad spend, you need to test. It’s difficult to overstate this point. Paying close attention to your analytics will allow you to build a profitable first campaign and then tweak your future campaigns for even better results.

Determine which metrics you will use to gauge success. For most companies, achieving a positive customer-lifetime-value and cost-per-lead balance will be the aim. Larger companies may opt for less obvious KPIs like overall engagement or reach. Whatever the case, define your core metrics right from the start.

It’s also worth considering advanced analytics tools. Most platforms include their own analytics dashboards which can provide valuable data. With third-party tools, however, it’s possible to take this information and generate actionable insights that wouldn’t otherwise be available.


While setting up your first campaign might feel daunting, don’t be put off. Millions of companies are leveraging paid ads to drive new leads. And with an adaptable approach, you too can find large numbers of new customers. Just remember to start off with a platform that has a user base that matches your target market, pay attention to analytics, and don’t be afraid to outsource.

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Itai Elizur is the COO at Inbound Junction, a content marketing agency specializing in helping startups and business increase their online visibility. Prior to joining the Inbound Junction team, Itai worked as a Creative Manager at, and as the Director of Marketing at Infolinks, the 3rd largest website network in the world.