When Should You Invest In Paid Ads and How to Avoid Wasting Money

Brad Bishop
March 28, 2022
5 min read

At some point, almost every brand considers using paid ads. And why not? They can create massive amounts of traffic and revenue in a short amount of time. I once worked with a brand that made $1.5-million in 4 weeks (they only made $150,000 the entire previous year). But, I've also worked with brands that spent $15,000 a month and made NOTHING. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of when you should use paid ads. Every business is different, and each will have its own unique goals and needs. However, there are a few general things to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to invest in paid ads. Today, we'll walk through a few factors you should consider before going down the path of paid ads.

What are paid ads?

Paid ads are online advertisements that appear on search engines, social media platforms, and websites. These ads are usually distinct from organic content (content that appears without being paid for) in that they include a call-to-action (CTA) or some other form of branding. Paid ads can be effective in driving traffic and generating leads, but they can also be expensive. That's why it's important to consider all of your options before investing in paid ads.

What's the difference between Facebook Ads and Google Ads?

The two most common types of paid ads are Facebook Ads and Google Ads. Both platforms offer a variety of ad formats, targeting options, and pricing models. However, there are a few key differences to keep in mind.

Facebook Ads are best for building awareness and creating interest in your product or service. They're also great for retargeting people who have already shown an interest in what you're selling. On the other hand, Google Ads are better for driving traffic to your website and generating leads or sales. This is because people who use Google are typically further along in their buyer's journey than those who use Facebook.

Facebook Ads are considered more "passive" because they're not actively showing up when a user searches for something. It appears in the scroll. Google, however, shows you ads based on your search history, so those are considered more "active."

How much do they cost?

The cost of paid ads depends on a variety of factors, including the platform you're using, the type of ad you're running, your targeting options, and your budget. Generally speaking, Facebook Ads are cheaper than Google Ads. However, Google Ads tend to generate more leads and sales than Facebook Ads.

If you work with an agency to create and manage your ads, there's typically a management fee on top of your monthly spending. This fee can range from 15-30% of your total ad spend. For example, if you're spending $500 a month on ads, you can expect to pay an additional $75-$150 for someone to manage your campaign. But, I've also encountered agencies who charge a flat rate of around $1,500 per month to manage the ads.

Pros of paid ads

The main pro of paid ads is that they can generate a lot of traffic and leads in a short amount of time. Paid ads are also great for building brand awareness and creating interest in your product or service. And, if you're working with an experienced agency, they can be a huge help in managing your campaign and ensuring that you're getting the most out of your ad spend.

Cons of paid ads

The biggest con of paid ads is that they can be expensive. If not managed properly, it's easy to blow through your entire budget without seeing any results. Additionally, paid ads can be time-consuming to set up and manage. And, if you're not careful about who you target, you could end up wasting a lot of money on ads that no one ever sees.

Do paid ads work for online courses?

Paid ads can be a great way to generate leads and sales, but they're not right for every business. There's no easy answer to this question because it depends on a lot of factors, including your course topic, target audience, and ad budget. However, in general, paid ads can be a great way to generate leads for online courses. If you have a limited budget, Facebook Ads tend to be more affordable than Google Ads. And, if you're looking to build brand awareness or create interest in your course, Facebook Ads are typically more effective than Google Ads.

Should I run ads to my course or my lead generator?

If you're looking to generate leads for your course, it's typically best to run ads directly to your lead generator. This could be a landing page on your website or a specific opt-in page. By running ads directly to your lead generator, you can more easily track how many leads are coming from your paid ads and determine whether or not they're effective. Additionally, by sending people directly to your lead generator, you can capture their information and add them to your email list. From there, you can nurture them with valuable content until they're ready to enroll in your course.

When is the best time to use paid ads?

The answer to this question depends on a number of factors, including your goals, budget, and target audience. However, in general, the best time to use paid ads is when you're looking to generate leads or sales in a short amount of time. Paid ads can be a great way to generate leads and sales; however, they are not right for every business type. The best time to use paid ads is when you're looking to achieve one of the following goals:

  • Build brand awareness
  • Create interest in your product or service
  • Generate leads or sales in a short amount of time
  • Nurture your email list with valuable content

But, here's the most important question when determining if it's time to run ads: Are your web traffic and sales aligned? By that I mean, If I plotted a graph of users on your site and your sales, would the two mirror each other? Here's an example:

Notice how the ups and downs of users (in red) are mirrored by the sales (in blue). Now, let's say the traffic looked exactly like it does above, but sales were flat. If that's the case, I'd say - "Don't run ads."


Because traffic isn't your problem. Your funnel is. And more traffic sent via paid ads won't fix that problem. If you chart your users and sales together as I did above, and the sales are flat, I'd go back and solve other problems before paying for ads.

In fact, if you need help diagnosing potential problems, check out our Conversion Flowchart. It will walk through the key pieces of your funnel and show you how to determine what needs to be fixed.


Paid ads can be a great way to generate leads or sales, but they're not right for every business. If you're considering running paid ads, it's important to take the time to understand your goals, target audience, and budget. Additionally, it's important to make sure that your web traffic and sales are aligned before you invest in paid ads.

Brad Bishop
VP of Strategy