How to Grow Your Newsletter with FB and TikTok Ads

Wanna grow your newsletter audience using paid social? Here's the step-by-step method from a pro who's doing it for the biggest newsletters on the planet.

Louis Nicholls

Wanna grow your newsletter audience using paid social? 

Good news! We’ve got an exclusive (and totally free) treat for you today from ads expert, Matt McGarry

Having recently left The Hustle to do this stuff independently, Matt now helps (some major!) newsletters grow through Facebook and TikTok ads. And in his exclusive Sparkloop Masterclass, he shared all his secrets for mind-blowing subscriber growth. 

So now, we’re sharing it with you!  

Here's what you’ll discover: 

  • How newsletters should set up Facebook ads (4 KEY steps you can’t miss)
  • 8 Facebook ad creative types you can make in under 10 minutes 
  • #1 Pro Tip: Create your own Swipe File 
  • The major difference between FB and TikTok (and how to get it right) 
  • How to find creators and actors to make TikTok style videos for your newsletter

Beware! This Is Not Like Other Paid Ads Training 

If you're like a lot of people who want to grow their business with ads, this probably isn't the first training you've consumed on the subject. 

And you've probably found a lot of the stuff you've seen on Facebook ads, either: 

  • doesn’t work, 
  • disappoints your expectations, or 
  • doesn’t apply to your situation

Three things that make this training different:

1. Hyper-focus on using Facebook and TikTok ads specifically for newsletter growth  

Not only does it make it more interesting, but also easier to implement immediately. No generic advice allowed! 

2. Real-life examples from world-class clients 

This is not just theory. 

We’re sharing tried and tested techniques for acquiring millions (yes, millions) of subscribers with Facebook and TikTok ads. 

Our ads expert, Matt McGarry, takes you behind the scenes of how these tactics work for his clients, like; 

  • The Hustle, 
  • Milk Road, 
  • the Daily Upside, 
  • Exec Sum, 
  • Contrarian Thinking…and more.

3. No boring stuff! 

Ready to discover tactics you won’t find anywhere else? Great! Stick around 

Looking for a step-by-step walkthrough of setting up your Facebook pixel? You’re in the wrong place. 

This is not a technical tutorial. We’re showing you the high-impact tactics for positioning and producing your ad creative, plus the best (but little-known) practices you need to grow your newsletter fast. 

In other words, we’re covering the “fun” stuff only. 

So, let’s get started.

How newsletters should set up Facebook Ads (4 key steps)

Before we get going, it’s important to note that we’ll be walking you through setting up your ad campaign on Facebook (not Tik Tok). Mostly because: 

“I find Facebook to be the better platform. TikTok is a great new platform, but if you can get your Facebook ads to work in the way that I'm gonna show you, your TikTok ads will work really well too.” — Matt McGarry

There are actually seven steps for running a successful newsletter ad campaign on Facebook; 

  1. Campaign type 
  2. Lead forms
  3. Ad sets and Targeting
  4. Ad creative
  5. UTM tracking 
  6. Analytics
  7. Ads management

But given how important it is to create an attention-grabbing ad creative (and make sure the right eyeballs see it) — we’re focusing on steps one to four today; they have the most impact (and are the most fun!) 

Step 1: Select Your Campaign Type 

First things first, you need to set the intention for your campaign. 

You're trying to get signups for your newsletter, right? 

So you have two options: 

  • Conversion: when someone clicks on your ad, visits your landing page, and signs up for the newsletter there.
  • Lead Generation: when someone clicks on your ad and signs up in-app (Facebook or Instagram) 

When to use a Conversion campaign: 

  • if you have an online course or a paid newsletter, 
  • If you’re able to make money in some way after a user subscribes. 
  • If your landing page conversion rate is 50% or higher

Conversion campaigns are great for getting low-cost subscribers and prompting a paid conversion. 

You gain the advantage of the upsell; by sending traffic to your paid newsletter, your online course, or whatever product you have on sale after people subscribe.

Two things you need to set up a Conversion campaign: 

  1. Make a custom conversion that fires on your Thank You page. When someone signs up for your newsletter, they're redirected to your Thank You page. A Facebook event fires when they reach that page. That's how you track conversions.

  2. Make sure your landing page is excellent. Here are some best practices that should help you double the conversion rate of your landing page (even a few small tweaks can drastically shift results).

When to use a Lead Generation campaign: 

  • If you don't have an online course or paid newsletter that people will be sent to after they subscribe to your newsletter on your landing page.
  • You monetize with newsletter sponsorships 
  • Your landing page sucks… 

Lead-gen campaigns are great for getting the lowest-cost subscribers and readers. And mean you don’t need to do the extra work of making a high-performing landing page before you begin. 

If you’re unsure, we recommend setting up a lead gen campaign first because you can get the lowest cost per subscriber and improve from there. 

Two things you need to set up a Lead Generation Campaign 

  1. Make a lead form that you'll see on Facebook and Instagram (TikTok has this option too, but we'll focus on Facebook for now.) We’ll share what that involves next.
  2. Connect that lead form to your email service (using Zapier or directly through Facebook depending on your email service provider).

Step 2: Create a lead form that converts

If you’re opting for a lead-generation campaign, you won’t need a high-converting landing page. But you will need a lead form. 

Lead forms bypass the need for readers to click through to a form and enter their details manually. Using lead gen ads, they subscribe via the in-app form and their details are automatically populated by Facebook (or Tik Tok).  

Regardless of the platform you use, there are a few things you must have to create a lead form that converts well. 

Three must-have elements for your lead form: 

  1. A benefit-driven headline highlighting what’s in it for them. 
  2. A sub-headline that communicates three things: 
  • What your newsletter covers
  • Social proof or authority (how many people read it or who reads it) 
  • That it’s free 
  1. Your custom image (1200x682) 

Here are some lead form examples:

Hot Tip: When you include Social Proof — be specific. 

“Join hundred 75,000+ Investment Bankers, Investors, and VCs”  is better than “75,000 readers”. 

And if you’re new and don’t have many subscribers (<100) — use your expertise or any prestigious work experience for some authority building instead. But, if you’ve got 100+ subscribers, use that number! 

Step 3: Ad Sets and Targeting 

Below we’ve included Matt’s personal recommendations for each section in your ad set and targeting setup. 

What budget do you set? 

You need fifty conversions per week to exit the learning phase and properly optimize your ads.  So between $30 to $50 per day for each ad set depending on your CPA. 

If your budget is lower than this, you may not get enough conversions for Facebook to find your subscribers.

Who do you target? 

  • Location: The location is up to you. I usually target US and Canada for most of the newsletters I work with. 
  • Age: You wanna leave your age very broad and let Facebook find the subscribers that are best for you. Even if your age range is very specific, leave it open and Facebook will do a better job of an open age range versus a closed one.
  • Gender: The same thing applies. Leave it open 
  • Languages: You don't need to worry about specifying what language you want to target unless you're targeting non-English speaking countries.

What placements do you choose? Where do people actually see your ad?

Select these three:

  1. Facebook and Instagram feeds, 
  2. Instagram Explorer, and 
  3. Stories and Reels (FB and IG)

Why only these three? Matt says:

“I wouldn't bother testing any of the other placements. They just haven't worked for any of the newsletters that I've worked with.“

Remember, once your ads growth machine starts working and you’re generating live results — you can begin testing different placements. But to conserve resources when you begin, limit your spending to the above only. 

How big should your audience size be? 

This is really important because you don't want your audience to be too narrow or too broad— both will cause you problems. 

  • If your audience is too narrow, your ads become very expensive. Your CPM, which means your cost for 1000 impressions, will skyrocket. 
  • If your ads are too broad, then your clickthrough rate will be low. The people you target won’t care about what you have to say. You need to be somewhere in the middle.

10 to 50 million is a good audience size. And if you're a little bit below that, a little bit above that, it's not a big deal. But somewhere around there is the best practice.

Who will see your ad?

Important: The first step (before you do anything here) is to exclude your current subscribers from all of your Facebook ads. 

This might go without saying, but you want to exclude anyone who opts into your form, as well as upload your current email list to the custom audience section and exclude them. You don't want to retarget them and spend your budget on people who are already subscribed. 

Then, you can use the custom audiences and detailed targeting features to get specific about who will see your ad and get to the ideal audience range.

There are many options to choose from when targeting via interests, so stick with these three for the best results:  

1. Select interests that work best for newsletters

Do this by choosing: 

  • Topics that are similar to what you cover, whether it’s personal finance, fitness, business, or beauty. Go broad here. 
  • Other media companies or publications that cover your topic (eg. Wall Street Journal, CNN, Market Beat, Forbes, Vogue.)
  • Influencers in your niche (like Gary V, Maria Forleo, or Rihanna) and then explore the suggestions

2. Create a Look-a-like Audience using your whole list 

Upload your entire email list and test that as the look-a-like audience. 

A lot of people go wild and start segmenting their email list and only want to create an audience from their most engaged subscribers. Forget that. Just upload your entire list, test it, and see how it does. 

3. Get more specific with age and gender

If your newsletter audience is primarily one age or one gender, test this targeting option. 

For example, Milk Road is a crypto newsletter. Most of their audience is men age 25 to 45. So on Facebook, we have assets that are targeting men aged 25 to 45. It’s a super simple tweak if you know that information. 

Step 4: Ad creative (where you should spend most of your effort!)

The most important part of this process is your ad creative. 

The ad you show on the platform will make or break your campaign. If it’s not good, people won’t subscribe. It’s that simple. 

So spend most of your time and effort here. 

The five elements of your ad creative in Facebook (and don't worry, TikTok is similar!): 

  1. Image or video 
  2. Primary text 
  3. Headline 
  4. Description 
  5. CTA 

Let’s take a look at several examples of high-performing ads, and then we’ll share the #1 shortcut there is for making ad creatives that convert. 

7 Facebook Ad Creative Types You Can Make in Under 10 Minutes

1. MEMES: Grab attention and show people why they should, should subscribe

  • You can find memes here: imgflip.com/memetemplates
  • Look for memes that show a benefit of your newsletter 
  • Your meme ads probably won’t be funny, but they’ll grab attention and show a reason why people should subscribe. 

2. FOUNDER IMAGES: Connect a face to the brand

3. NOTES SCREENSHOT: Out of the ordinary and attention-grabbing

Use a screenshot of the notes app, notion, or a picture of a notepad. 

4. CAROUSEL: Use your top stories, posts, or headlines as a carousel ad.

5. PRESS FEATURES: Build credibility and authority with features in well-known publications

6. TESTIMONIAL SCREENSHOTS: Perfect reflection of user-generated content (that adds social proof).


#1 Pro Tip to Boost Your Ad Results: Create Your Own Swipe File

The fastest, easiest, and most effective way to create better ads is to start a collection of excellent examples that you love or know convert well.

Simply create a folder on your phone or your computer and start taking screenshots as you're scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok. 

What to save in your swipe file? 

  • Pay special attention to any ads that get you to convert. These obviously work! So study what made it such an easy click for you.  
  • If you see an ad that has a ton of engagement (likes, comments, shares, or views) then dig into it a bit more. A high view count means a high dollar spend. And smart companies only funnel money into the ads that work well! 

Other tools and websites to use for inspiration and storage of your swipe file:

  • the TikTok Creative Center, 
  • the Facebook ad library, 
  • swipefile.com, and 
  • Swipe.co  
  • SwipeWell

The major difference between FB and TikTok (and how to get it right)

As you can see, we’ve gone in-depth with Facebook ad creation, and havent covered much of Tik Tok. Well, the good thing is, Tik Tok essentially swiped Facebook’s UI for their ads management, so it’s very similar. 

But there is one major difference, can you guess what it is? 

If you guessed “MANDATORY VIDEO” then you get a prize :)  

To run a TikTok ad, you need a video. And what’s awesome is, that TikTok video ads work really well as Facebook ads, too. 

So what we want to quickly cover today, (before we leave you to get creating!) is how to find TikTok creators or actors to make your videos great. 

  • How much do you pay them? 
  • How do you direct or instruct them? 
  • How do you edit everything together? 

Getting your videos right is really important for both ad platforms, so it’s worth taking a look at some answers to these burning creator questions. 

How to find creators and actors to make TikTok style videos for your newsletter

1. Search TikTok first 

Use hashtags in your niche to find people. 

As you scroll through TikTok or reels —  if you find a creator that you think can make a great video ad — save them, and then reach out to them. 

Look for creators in your niche who are not super huge. Because you’re asking them to make an ad, to record a video. You're not actually asking them to make an influencer post, which is significantly more expensive. Find the creators who have between 10,000-100,000 followers.

If they're that small, you can probably afford to pay them to make a video. If they have a million followers, their price for video is going to be out of your budget.

2. Explore Fiverr and other Marketplaces

There are lots of people creating TikTok-style videos on Fivver now that are really good. I use this a lot. Search UGC videos, TikTok video ads, reels, or videos. You'll find a lot of TikTok creators who are offering their services and you can buy videos from them.

Swipe House, Billo, and Trend.io also have some options.

3. Avoid Costly Mistakes: A template to use for your video creators 

“I made a lot of mistakes when I first started making TikTok videos for ads. I didn't give the creators clear instructions and then they would make a mistake and then I have to make a revision, and then it'll wind up costing more or taking more time.”

Here is a template you can download to make it easier to work with and direct your video creators. 

4. Matt’s top tips for editing your video for newsletter ads 

  • Use background music in any talking head or selfie-style videos. Preferable trending background music.
  • Add subtitles and text overlays either with the TikTok or with a video editing tool. 
  • Spice up your video with jump cuts, and zooming in and out.
  • Add screenshots and videos of your newsletter content. 

5. Test your Tik Tok Ad Campaign with Facebook, First

High-performing TikTok ads rely on excellent videos as your ad creative, significantly more than Facebook ads. So test your TikTok videos first on Facebook to see if they work. 

If they're performing well on Facebook, it means they're driving low low-cost subscribers. And they’ll likely work really well for TikTok too. 

If they don't work on Facebook at all. You might want to test more videos on Facebook and Instagram before you test them on TikTok.  

To sum it up...

You can see why Matt McGarry is the pro we look to when it comes to social ads! 

You now know…

  • How newsletters should set up Facebook ads (4 KEY steps you can’t miss)
  • 8 Facebook ad creative types you can make in under 10 minutes 
  • #1 Pro Tip: Create your own Swipe File 
  • The major difference between FB and TikTok (and how to get it right) 
  • How to find creators and actors to make TikTok style videos for your newsletter
  • BONUS TIP (!)

    Before you drive a bunch of paid traffic to your sign-up page, consider applying to join the SparkLoop Partner Network where you can turn on Upscribe—our paid recommendations widget—to help you drive down your CPA even more! 

    Your next read...