How Much Does it Cost to Run Ads in 2024? Setting Realistic Numbers and Expectations with Melissa Litchfield

March 5, 2024



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I'm Kara - the voice behind some of the brands you know and love (I know because I love them too!). I'm results-driven and ambitious, just like YOU.

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This week on the podcast, I brought on Melissa Litchfield of Litchfield Media, who has been spending the past nine years helping online entrepreneurs and small business owners market themselves with paid and organic traffic. She is the absolute expert in paid ads, and I’m so excited to have her on the show answering the question: how much does it cost to run ads in 2024?

She’s also just really cool and manages two rental properties, has a custom clothing apparel brand for babies and toddlers, and honestly – it was such a fun conversation. We’re going to talk about ads first, but definitely listen until the end where she shares about threads, which I have been using to get insane results in my own business!

While I know the buzzwords around ads, I am not aware of how to run ads. So if that’s kind of where you’re sitting too, you’re especially going to love this conversation. I asked her about the SLO funnel (tiny offer funnel), what a good starting budget is, and so much more. She brought receipts, she brought numbers, and she did not hold back on any of my questions. Let’s dive in.

Here for Melissa’s FREE Proven Pixel Permit? Head here!

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Who is Melissa of Litchfield Media?

Melissa is a 36-year-old, southern California native, currently living in Mobile, Alabama. For the past 9 years, she’s been helping online entrepreneurs and small businesses market themselves online with paid and organic traffic.

She owns Litchfield Media Co, a digital marketing company that helps small businesses and entrepreneurs skyrocket their impact and revenue with paid traffic. Melissa also manages two rental properties and a new custom clothing apparel brand for babies and toddlers. She lives with her husband, who serves in the US Coast Guard, and her daughter, Madeline.

As a business owner, how do we know we are ready to run ads?

First, do you have the budget? Because testing an actual ad campaign, even if it’s just lead generation, I always say to be prepared to spend at least a thousand dollars a week, get as much data as you can find and tweak things as you go. Test leads and see how they convert from the landing page throughout the email sequence. That’s kind of like your basic email lead gen funnel. Some gurus out there are still toting the $10 a day thing, while it is sometimes possible depending on your niche and industry, it’s not really going to get you that many results or see how the ad is performing on a day-today basis.

Second, do you have a proven product? Do you have any clients? Have you seen success with other people working with them? It doesn’t have to be a course. It could be any service that you’re providing. Product or offers.

Do you think there is value in trying to DIY your ads, or should people always hire an ads manager?

Some people might have experience already just dabbling with organic social media content. However, there are so many aspects and steps that you need in order to set up your ad account business manager. There are so many steps, all of which can be overwhelming and daunting, and if so, then I strongly recommend hiring a consultant or strategist to set everything up for you. Which is something I do with my clients. 

How much does it cost to run ads in 2024? What do you feel a good starting budget is to make it worth getting started with ads or hiring an ads manager?

Let’s start by reverse engineering goals. Determine how many leads you aim for in a month. For instance, if a client wants 500 leads within the first 30 days, and typically, leads cost between $3 to $6 each, you can base calculations on the higher end, say $6. So, achieving 500 leads at $6 each would require a $3,000 budget. By doing this simple math, you can estimate that your monthly budget could range from $1,000 to $3,000, depending on the cost per lead. However, if you’ve never run ads before, then you don’t have that data, so you really don’t know until you start spending money.

If someone doesn’t have time to test organically, what budget do you think that budget would look like? For example, if they’re considering a self-liquidating offer to grow their audience for free, what budget would you this look like?

SLO funnels were really popular back in 2021 and 2022. I ran many of them for clients. However, market saturation became an issue when everyone started using similar SLO offers. While some people still use them for list building, profitability is now questionable. In the past, SLO funnels were profitable, with returns of two to three times ad spend.

However, in 2024, it’s challenging to break even unless the front sales page converts at least 8%. Managing such offers is time-consuming, especially if you’re unfamiliar with ads. The order bump ideally converts at around 30%, and the one-time offer from 5% to 10%. Given these complexities, I wouldn’t recommend SLO funnels for beginners unless they have established offers and want to experiment or upsell into higher ticket offers.

Are freebies the best option for beginners, or what do you think works best for people who are just starting out?

Not everyone is keen on webinars for their business, but everyone needs to expand their email list. I suggest offering something for free in exchange for their name and email. It’s all about numbers; without an audience to sell to, you won’t make any sales.

Are people still downloading the original PDF freebies, or do we need to get more creative to entice them to opt-in?

A PDF is super valuable but it depends on the content. Nowadays, I prefer to use Google Docs so people can check things off and type things in. I have one like this I converted from PDF to Google Docs. It is like a mini course. However, I don’t love running ads to a mini course because I find people aren’t consuming them as much because you have to log in to a course portal. Whereas, if they click a link and it’s all right there, they are more likely to consume the product.

What do you think the biggest misconception is when we’re all trying to run ads for our business?

Instant gratification. Many people have either a poor mindset or unrealistically high expectations, especially within the first month.

Litchfield Media breaks down how much does it cost to run ads in 2024

When people are looking for an ads manager, what should they look for?

If they insist on running ads through their own business manager account, it’s a red flag. Similarly, if they want to use their own pixel on your website to run ads, that’s another warning sign. Setting up the business manager for you and becoming the admins is also concerning because it means entrusting them with all your data and metrics. Many people I’ve encountered have had bad experiences where they couldn’t access their business manager after parting ways with a freelancer or agency because they didn’t retain control over it.

It’s crucial not to allow anyone to take full ownership of your business manager assets, including your pixel, ad account, and Facebook page. If you end up in a situation where you lose access to your business manager, you’ll have to start over from scratch with a new pixel and ad account, which can be a headache, especially if you have existing data and campaigns.

Additionally, ensure they can explain clearly how they’ll deliver results. Lack of communication or using the wrong campaign objectives can lead to wasted ad spend and ineffective campaigns. Many freelancers default to traffic campaigns, resulting in clicks but unclear outcomes. So, it’s essential to ask the right questions and ensure you retain control over your ad assets to avoid potential headaches down the line.

Do you find most people are seasonally running ads or is it usually once people start, they just keep running ads?

It really varies depending on the business. One client returns every summer during their busy season. I also have clients that come to me just for live launch support, and that’s really just the ads for the live launch, and those are usually a three month retainer. So yeah, I think it depends on your goals. Not everybody wants to continually run ads, but I do feel like if you have a $500,000 revenue business, it’s a good idea to continually run lead gen throughout the year.

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I'm Kara - the voice behind some of the brands you know and love (I know because I love them too!). I'm results-driven and ambitious, just like YOU.

Meet Kara