Mini-Course: Increase Members with Facebook Ads 

About The Author:

Shiv N

Shiv Narayanan is the Head of Marketing and Sales at WildApricot. An expert in designing sales funnels, customer value optimization and copywriting, he has executed ad campaigns worth hundreds of thousands of dollars on Google AdWords and Facebook focused on converting visitors into paid subscribers.

Message from the Author:

Advertising is about how you can splice the world. People who have advertising “real estate” sell space to advertisers looking to get in front of a particular audience.

For example, radio ads between 4pm and 6pm give you access to people driving home from work. TV ads at 2pm during Young and the Restless episodes may give you access to stay-at-home moms.

Google Adwords takes the concept further — showing ads to people who are already searching for a solution. Google “iPhone 6 case” and you’ll see thousands of people fighting for your business. You see, Google splices the world differently than TV and radio.

Facebook is the new frontier. You can splice the world in an entirely new way with the targeting options available because you can find people based on who they are and what they like.

As an organization, you may have goals you want to achieve like:
  • Getting more members to join
  • Getting more of your members to attend an event
This mini-course will teach you how to do that with advertising on Facebook. By the end, my hope is that you have the fundamentals to consider investing in new forms of advertising as an organization.

I have one request: don’t skip a module. Go through it all in sequential order. It will all connect together in the end for you. Once you’ve gone through the mini-course in its entirety, come back and review specific modules and things will clear up even more.

All the best,


Module One: Understanding Return on Investment

I know what you’re thinking: “We don’t have money to advertise”

Well, hold that thought.

I have no doubt that your organization, like many other small associations and nonprofits, is cash-strapped.

But believe it or not, you’re already investing money into advertising. For example, How many events have you held where non-members could have attended? How much did they cost?

An even deeper question: have you ever bothered to measure your return-on-investment from the dollars you invest into getting 1 new member? Did you at least break even? Did you lose money? Do you not know this number? (It’s okay — not many people do)

Our goal with this mini-course is this: To give you a model for advertising that brings in more money than you spend.

CAC — Customer Acquisition Cost 

How much does it cost you to acquire a member?

This is the holy grail of all marketing & sales. In any business, in any industry, in any association, if you know this number, you’re ahead of most of the market.

Grade 2 math question: If Joe finds a customer who he can sell a candy bar to for $2, what is the maximum amount he can spend to buy said candy bar so that he can turn a profit?

Answer: $1.99

This is the math question you should be doing with your organization’s marketing and sales activities. If a member will pay $100 in membership dues a year, you can spend UP TO $99 on this member over the course of the year.

If your members usually stay for more than 1 year, then you can spend even more. For example, if your average member stays for 5 years, you technically make 5 years * $100/year = $500 ← this number is called Lifetime Value — the total amount of money you make over the entire lifetime of a member. However, small associations are often strapped for cash so it is okay to use your 1-year numbers. Just keep Lifetime Value in mind. If your Lifetime Value is sky high, then you can spend a lot more than $99 to acquire the same member.

Remember this math — understanding this concept will help you as we progress.

How to measure CAC with online advertising

In the advertising world, there are 2 key ways you are “billed” as an advertiser:
  1. Cost Per Impression (CPM) — Remember the radio and TV ads we talked about? Under those formats, eyeballs or “impressions” (the number of people who see or hear your ad) are the units of value. The more people that come across your ad, the more expensive the ad is. This is why Super Bowl commercials cost into the millions. 
  2. Cost Per Click (CPC) — This is the number you need to keep your eye on. This is how it works: If 100 people see your ad, but 10 people click the link on the ad, you only get charged for the 10 people who clicked! Each person costs a certain amount — that amount is what we call CPC.
With Google Adwords and Facebook, CPC is the big advantage. Who cares if 1 million people see a Super Bowl ad about your organization in Little Rock, Arkansas, if only 10 people out of the 1 million actually live in Little Rock and can feasibly join your organization?

Instead, think about this: What if you could show ads only to people in Little Rock?

Let’s take it a step further. Let’s say your organization was a professional association for nurses in Little Rock. What if you could show ads only to Nurses in Little Rock?

And a step even further: What if you had to pay only if a Nurse clicked your ad and landed on your website?

That’s the magic of targeted ads.

Wondering how to calculate your cost of acquiring a member using Cost-Per-Click? Here’s a simple math problem:

If 100 nurses click your ad at a cost of $2/click and 50 of them end up being members, what is your cost of acquisition of 1 member?

100 clicks * $2 per click = $200

50 new members acquired for $200 total = $200/50 members = $4 spent per new member.


Now what if each new member pays $100/year for an annual membership? You just made $96 that you can use to hold better events and provide more benefits for members!

How cool is that?!

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MODULE 2: How to Target Your Existing Members on Facebook 

The Problem

Let’s say you have a paid event coming up for your members. Paid events are important to your organization. Not only are they a source of non-dues revenue, but they also provide your members with the “value” they expected you to deliver when they joined your organization. Sometimes, the paid events also bring in new members.

We will use the St. Louis chapter of the Association for Talent Development as our example:

You want to get members to the event! Common ways in which organizations promote their events to members are below:
Let’s say ATD St. Louis has this problem: They’ve tried many of their traditional marketing channels but registrations for the event are low. 

How can they use Facebook to increase registrations?

Targeting only existing members with Facebook Ads

Did you know you could create a Facebook Ad campaign that only existing members will see?

Here’s how you do it:

*Note: these steps assume that your members are using the same email address on Facebook.

Export your database from WildApricot

Choose the CSV format for your export:

STEP 2: Go to Facebook’s ad page: and click Create Ad:

Choose the Send people to your website objective:

Enter the URL you want to send people to. For our example, we will use ATD St. Louis’ event registration page: 

STEP 3: In Facebook’s ad creation wizard, choose Create a Custom Audience:

NOTE: If do not see the Create a Custom Audience option. Go to your Ad Manager > Tools > Audience > Create Custom Audience. You must have created a custom audience in your ad manager before you will see this option appear.

STEP 4: Choose Customer List on the Custom Audience pop-up:

STEP 5: Choose Upload a file:

STEP 6: Upload the file you exported from your WildApricot members module:

STEP 7: You’ll see a notice like this:

This means you’re ready to advertise to only your membership database! 

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MODULE 3: Tweaking Your Event Registration Form in WildApricot 

Before we get to creating your Facebook ad, there is a key change you have to make in your event registration form.

Remember how we talked about measuring the Cost-Per-Click of your ads?

Well — you must find out the answer to this question: How many of your event registrations came in because of your Facebook ad?

With Google Analytics, answering this question is straightforward (For the purposes of this mini-course, we will not go on a Google Analytics tangent...we will save that for another mini-course).

Quick Tip
Google Analytics is an analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic.

For the time-being, I want to give you an easy way to get the answer to this question within your WildApricot event registration form. One of the things you’ll notice when hearing radio or TV ads is that they ask you to enter a “coupon code” when you go to their website. To a customer, this looks like the company is trying to offer you a deal — and they are. But they also get something big out of this — they get to find out how many people SAW the TV ad and found out about the website FROM the TV ad. This lets them calculate how much they paid for each customer that came from a TV ad.

We are going to do something similar below:

STEP 1: Go to the event you want to edit in your WildApricot admin area and click Edit:

STEP 2: Under Custom Fields click the button that says Add new field:

STEP 3: Choose the Multiple choice option:

STEP 4: In the Field Label area, type in the question: “How did you hear about this event?” and add all possibilities. Make it a Required Field:


STEP 5: Verify the form in your Public View by going through the event registration process:

STEP 6: It works! You are now ready to set up your Facebook ad. Once you finish that, we will show you how this data can be used.

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MODULE 4: Creating Your Facebook Ad

Okay — so you’re done creating your audience and setting up your event registration form. Now for the ad itself.

STEP 1: Go back to Facebook's ad creation wizard and decide how much you want to spend. My advice is to always start small — you want to know if this ad is actually effective. “Small” can mean different things to different people.
Quick Tip

Start Small: I usually recommend starting with a budget of $10/day

Notice how my ad has an end date of August 26, 2015 — this is 1 day before ATD’s actual event. This means no ad dollars will be spent after the event actually happens. 

STEP 2: It’s time to create your ad. Before you do, always start with the end in mind:
  • What is the objective? To get existing members to the event registration page.
  • Is the event registration page complete? Yes.
  • What is the key benefit of attending the event? To develop new skills and perspectives for better communication including: Energetic listening, targeting speaking, creating a common ground connection and utilizing your existing communication skills that already work for you in new ways.
All of the information I needed to answer these questions was found from ATD St. Louis’ event registration page.

Why is this information important? Your ad needs to communicate these key points to get people to click! When they land on your WildApricot event registration page, you don’t want them to be surprised or not have intended to get there — that’s a wasted click (remember CPC?).

Choose a headline for your Ad (25 characters max)
Since we are targeting the Facebook ad to existing ATD members, let’s go with something like: “ATD Event: Communication”

Add a description for the Ad (you have only 90 characters for this)
Here’s an example of a description:
"Dr. David Bennett will help you develop some great new skills for better communication."

Add a News Feed Link Description (200 characters)
Click Show Advanced Options. The text that you enter in the box that says, "Describe why people should visit your website," will appear below the image of your ad. For this, I also took copy from ATD's event description:
"Energetic listening, targeting speaking, creating a common ground connection and utilizing your existing communication skills that already work for you in new ways"

STEP 3: Select an image for your Facebook ad. The recommended image size for a Facebook ad is 1200 x 628 pixels. Use your imagination here. An image beats any long description. Don’t just write out some text on a white background, capture people’s attention. Besides, Facebook doesn't allow any more than 20% text within your image and will reject it if it contains more. For ATD’s event I created something very basic, but you can still see how it stands out:

STEP 4: Choose a call-to-action button. For events, “Sign-up” or “Register” are usually the best texts to choose:

STEP 5: Finalize the ad — look at it in its entirety:

STEP 6: Publish!

Measuring the effectiveness of your Facebook Ad:

This is the hard part. Is your Facebook ad working? Is it delivering a return on the money you are investing? This is why you must always keep track of the performance of your ads.

STEP 1: Go to the your Facebook Ads Manager. You will see a dashboard of numbers with details like this:

STEP 2: Looks like you got 63 clicks on your Ad and they only cost $1.27! That’s success right? Not yet. We need to know how many event registrations ACTUALLY came from the 63 clicks. What if the 63 people got to the page, read the description but weren’t interested anymore? We must track metrics all the way to the end.

STEP 3: Let’s go to our WildApricot dashboard and get the rest of the data. Go to your Event and click Reports, then Registration fields:

Registration fields

STEP 4: Check the box beside “How did you hear about this event?” and Generate the report:

Generate Report
STEP 5: Here you will be able to see how many people found your event through Facebook! This gives you enough information to do your calculation. 
Facebook Registrants
  • If you have 7 people who selected “Facebook Ad”, and you spent a total of $79.95 on your Facebook ad campaign, that means you spent an average of $11.41 per event registrant.

  • If you look at ATD’s event registration page, the lowest registration amount for members is $25. So ATD turned a $14 profit on the Facebook ad per registration!

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BONUS MODULE: How to Find New Members with Facebook Ads

I wanted to keep this course focused on one strategy that you could use and run with today. The above strategy to get your existing members to your events should help you improve your event registrations and attendance.

However, I realize the most common FAQ to this course will be: “Well, Shiv, what I really want to know is how to target Facebook ads to NEW members. How do I do that?”

This module will give you a simple explanation about targeting on Facebook. But my advice to you would be this: walk before you run. If you’ve never done Facebook ads before, the safest place to start is by targeting your current members because they’re ALREADY interested in your organization. Getting new members is a rabbit hole that can suck up a lot of advertising dollars and you have to be very careful. Once you’ve run a couple of successful campaigns to existing members (ones where you’ve turned a profit), only then should you look into going after new members.

With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s begin.

Let’s say you’re an association for professional nurses in Little Rock, Arkansas. How would you create an ad for new members?

Facebook targeting options

STEP 1: The first place you always want to start is with location. We know ours: Little Rock. In your ad audience section, this is how you target by geography:

If you don’t think nurses from neighbouring suburbs will bother joining, choose “No radius”. This would be my default when starting with an ad. First test to see if the ad works in the area where your organization is. IF it is successful, you can always expand the radius.

STEP 2: The next key thing to do is to adjust for Job Title, since we already know we’re looking for nurses. Go to More Demographics > Work > Job Titles:

Try to select all those that apply. Facebook will help you as you search: 

You’ve managed to come up with targeting that will show your ad to less than 1000 people on Facebook. But wait, we’re not finished. We can get even more specific.

STEP 3: Let’s say you want to target nurses from a specific set of hospitals in Little Rock because your organization is close to those people. Again, go to > More Demographics > Work > Employers and put in the names of the hospitals!

Notice how reach stays at “Fewer than 1000 people” on the right hand side — that’s okay! Adding the employer makes a difference that you won’t see in that number. But when you ad goes live, you will see the results in your conversion.

STEP 4: And that’s it. You can follow the same steps in the module for creating the rest of your ad (the images, the text, the call-to-action, the budget etc.). A great way to employ these ads would be to create an ad for non-members to bring them to a free event.

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Here is a summary of all the key points in this mini-course:
  • If you earn more from your ads than you spend, you’ll be fine. So plan a strategy first, advertising budget second.
  • Figure out your Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) — are you spending more than you earn from your members or less? How much can you spend and still turn a profit?
  • Use Cost-Per-Clicks (CPC) in online advertising to measure your Customer Acquisition Cost. Compare it with the total revenue you earn.
  • Facebook can be used to create ads targeted ONLY to your member list because Facebook splices the world by user’s emails. If your members use the same email on Facebook, you can find them.
  • Use Facebook’s Custom Audiences to create such targeted ads. Export the CSV of your members from WildApricot’s members module.
  • This kind of ad campaign can be used to drive event registrations for paid events. The key is to spend less than the registration fee for your event.
  • You also need to set up your event registration form to track how many registrations are coming from your Facebook Ad.
  • Creating your Facebook ad means setting up some basic details like your budget, your images and your text. Use “Sign up” as your call-to-action for the Facebook ad.
  • Always measure the effectiveness of your ads — export event registrants and compare to the Cost-Per-Click and Total Cost of your Facebook ads. Are you turning a profit? If you are, increase your budget.
  • You can apply the same principles to a Facebook ad targeted towards non-members by adding targeting rules in Facebook’s ad creation wizard.

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Final note from the course instructor:

Shiv N That’s it, you’re done! You now know enough to run your first Facebook ad campaign.

There is a lot more to learn on this subject and a lot more to discover. My hope is that you learned some fundamental skills to begin applying today to help your organization.

Best of luck!


P.S. Please offer us some feedback and fill out our survey below.

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