The Ultimate Guide to Paid Advertising for Online Coaches

paid advertising

You want more coaching clients – but you’re frustrated with the organic methods.

Your social posts are getting some traction, and people are raising their hands to work with you… but things aren’t moving as quickly as you’d like.

If this feels like you, maybe trying paid advertising is your next best move.

But how does paid advertising work? And what’s the difference between paid social media, display, and video ads? Keep reading to discover:

  • What is paid advertising?
  • The benefits of paid advertising for online coaches
  • Downsides to paid advertising
  • Types of paid advertising
  • When to consider paid ads for your coaching business

What Is Paid Advertising?

Paid advertising is a form of marketing where businesses pay to display their ads on various platforms. These platforms can range from search engines like Google to social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn

Unlike organic marketing efforts like posting on social media or blogging, paid advertisements allow you to reach a larger audience by placing your message directly in front of potential clients. You don’t have to wait for the algorithm to do its thing or try to go viral on TikTok.

Most paid advertising will allow you to display ads to a targeted audience. For coaches, this means you can target people interested in your coaching niche!

The Benefits of Paid Advertising for Online Coaches

paid advertising

So, is paid advertising worth it? Paid advertising has plenty of benefits for coaches looking to grow their businesses and attract more clients. Here are some key advantages.

1. Targeted reach

 With paid advertising, you can precisely target your desired audience based on demographics, interests, and/or online behavior. This lets you focus your efforts on the people most likely interested in your coaching services.

Imagine reaching potential clients actively searching for the exact type of coaching you offer… or who fit the exact demographics of people who typically need your program.

With paid advertising, you can do just that!

By leveraging advanced targeting options, such as age, location, and interests, you can ensure that your ads are seen by the right people at the right time.

For example, if you specialize in career coaching for young professionals, you can target your ads specifically to individuals between the ages of 22-30 actively seeking career development opportunities. This level of precision allows you to maximize your advertising budget and increase the likelihood of attracting high-quality leads.

2. Increase visibility and brand awareness

Placing your ads strategically across different platforms can increase your visibility and create brand recognition. This exposure can result in an influx of new clients and establish your coaching business as an industry authority much faster than organic marketing can.

And because visibility is key for online coaching, paid advertising can shave years off your business growth. As potential clients repeatedly see your ads, they begin to recognize your coaching brand and associate it with expertise and credibility.

As a result, you can build a never-ending pipeline of incoming clients!

3. Measurable results

Paid advertising provides in-depth analytics and reporting tools that enable you to track important metrics such as: 

  • Click-through rates
  • Conversions
  • Return on investment (ROI)

This data allows you to make informed decisions and optimize your campaigns for maximum effectiveness. You know what’s working and what’s not working.

For instance, by tracking metrics like click-through rates, you can determine which ad creatives (images and copy) resonate with your target audience and adjust your messaging accordingly.

You can continually increase your return on ad spend (ROAS) by continuously analyzing and optimizing your campaigns based on real-time data.

4. Flexibility and control

Unlike organic marketing, paid advertising gives you complete control over your campaigns. You can set your budget, adjust your targeting parameters, and pause or stop your ads anytime.

For example, if you notice that a particular ad is not performing as expected, you can quickly adjust or pause it altogether. This level of control allows you to optimize your campaigns in real-time and make sure that your advertising budget is being used effectively.

On the other hand, you can’t quite do that with organic marketing. Sure, you can do more types of content that works well. But you cannot ‘scale’ a winning post or adjust its audience.

Of course, you pay for that privilege. But this ensures your content works double time for your coaching business.

The Downsides of Paid Advertising

While I’m an avid proponent of paid advertising for coaches, it is not a magic bullet. Here are some downsides to take into consideration before you start investing.

1. Cost

Depending on the platform and competitiveness of your industry, paid advertising can be costly. Setting a budget and monitoring your campaigns closely is essential to avoid overspending without seeing the desired results.

However, it’s important to note that paid advertising costs can be seen as an investment. And organic marketing isn’t “free,” strictly speaking. It costs time.

But it’s easy to waste hundreds (and even thousands) of dollars on campaigns that don’t convert. 

2. Competition

As more businesses recognize the value of paid advertising, the competition for ad space increases. This means higher costs per click and a more competitive landscape for coaches trying to reach their target audience.

For instance, the Cost Per Mile (CPM), the cost for 1000 ‘impressions’ of an ad, has gone from $11.2 to $14.9 in 5 years.

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This doesn’t mean all is lost. If you’re able to compete on economics with high-ticket pricing as well as a sales funnel that converts leads effectively, it is still possible to thrive using paid advertising despite the competition. 

3. Ad fatigue

Over time, users may become desensitized to a specific format in ads. This will result in decreased engagement and conversion rates. 

This means you’ll need to refresh your ads from time to time. It also means you need to keep your eyes open for what the rest of the coaching industry is doing.

For example, when Alex Hormozi released his book, $100 Million Offers, in July 2021, thousands of coaches, agencies, service providers, and more started using the same type of offer in their ads. They were all variations of:

“Get x result or you don’t pay!”

But now, people are getting desensitized to these crazy offers. Some businesses have also overpromised and underdelivered, eroding audiences’ trust on these paid ad platforms. 

In short, not only will you need to keep your ads fresh… but you’ll need to stay aware of what everyone else is doing.

4. Learning curve

Paid advertising can be complex, especially for those new to online marketing. Understanding the various platforms, choosing the right targeting options, and optimizing your campaigns for success requires time, patience, and a willingness to learn and adapt.

There is also the option of hiring an ad manager. However, this can cut your margins, especially when you’re just starting.

That said, some ad platforms, including Facebook ads, are simpler to learn than others. There is also plenty of free education on YouTube or blog posts to learn the ins and outs of these platforms! 

Types of Paid Advertising

Paid advertising is more than just Facebook ads. Let’s explore the different types of online paid advertising available to coaches.

1. Search ad

Paid search advertising is one of the most common types of paid ads online. It’s also called pay-per-click advertising, or PPC.

Paid search ads appear at the top or bottom of search engine results pages when users search for specific keywords related to your coaching services. They can help drive targeted traffic to your website or landing page.

Here is an example of a Google Ads search ad for the keyword “coach for anxiety”:

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When it comes to search ads, it’s important to conduct thorough keyword research to ensure that your ads appear for the right search queries. By targeting the right keywords, you can increase the chances of reaching potential clients actively looking for coaching services like yours.

These are some of the most expensive ads on the market. But they’re also targeting people who are actively searching for a solution. 

2. Social media ads

Social media ads are what coaches typically think of when we talk about “paid ads.” They are the ads you’ll see on platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, and more.

These paid advertising campaigns allow you to reach your target audience based on their demographics, interests, and behaviors.

For example, TikTok lets you target users based on interests and behaviors, such as:

  • Interests on the platform
  • Video interactions
  • Creator interactions
  • Hashtag interactions
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The way social ads will show up depends on the platform. Most of these platforms have in-feed ads. For example, you may see a “sponsored post” through Facebook or Instagram.

And as you’re scrolling through TikTok, you’ll find a sponsored video.

But some platforms have additional ad placements. You can also place ads on:

  • Stories
  • Reels
  • Messenger
  • Video feeds
  • Instagram Explore
  • Search results
  • Sponsored messages
  • And more!

In addition to targeting and placement, social media ads also provide various ad formats. Whether it’s image ads, video ads, carousel ads, or lead generation ads, you can select the format that best suits your coaching business and the objective you’re going for.

3. Display ads

Display ads are visual banners or videos that appear on various websites within advertising networks. These ads can help increase brand awareness and reach a wider audience.

Google Ads is one of the networks that showcases display ads. But there are plenty of other networks, like Mediavine or Taboola.

For instance, here’s a display ad from a SaaS coaching program on the Forbes website:

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You’ll find many other paid advertising examples if you browse any non-business blog, media website, and other online publications.

Think of display ads as digital billboards. They can get access to a wide array of audience types. However, it typically requires a bigger budget to test these ads than social media ads.

How I see display ads isn’t necessarily a driving force for coaching businesses. However, they can help support other advertising efforts thanks to retargeting.

For instance, let’s say you’re running a Facebook ad on your website to offer a lead magnet. If you have a retargeting pixel in place, you can retarget website visitors on other ad networks, including display ads.

Quickly, your coaching leads can start seeing you everyone. This helps you gain authority and stay top of mind without consistently churning out content on every single available platform!

4. Video ads

Video ads, often found on platforms like YouTube or TikTok, allow you to engage and captivate your audience with compelling video content.

Video ads are also available on social media. But they are also their own category because they can be powerful.

Most platforms allow you to retarget video viewers, meaning video ads are relatively low-tech compared to other ads. In other words, you can post a video ad and then retarget people who have viewed a certain percentage – all without installing a single line of code on your website.

In fact, you can run an entire video ad funnel without a website at all!

Ad coach Laurel Portié teaches a strategy exactly like this. And she uses the same strategy she preaches about to sell her $7/month coaching membership.

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She even covers this strategy in several of her free YouTube videos!

5. Audio ads

Last but not least, you’ve got audio ads.

Audio ads are a weird blend between video ads and display ads. They are like display ads because you can tap into wide ad networks to access multiple types of audiences. But they’re also like video ads because you can speak directly to your audience.

You’ll most commonly hear audio ads while listening to music or podcasts. Some ads are recorded directly by the podcast hosts, like a sponsorship. But other ads are placed dynamically in ad spots, just like video ads on YouTube.

One example of an audio ad network is Spotify Advertising. According to them, podcasts provide 16% more engagement than other paid ad platforms.

Even though audio ads have a big potential, they also typically require a higher minimum investment than social media ads or search ads. But they can be a great scaling tool for coaches who have figured out their winning messaging and want to start appearing everywhere.

Audio ads are also more difficult to track. If someone is listening to your ad in their car and later visits your website, there’s no way to attribute that website visit to the ad directly. With these types of ads, you have to zoom out and look at overall trends in performance when you launch your campaigns.

When To Consider Paid Ads for Your Coaching Business

Paid advertising can be incredibly effective in growing your coaching business, but it is important to consider the right timing. Here are some indicators that you may be ready to explore paid ads.

1. Established brand and offer – or willingness to test

Before investing in paid ads, make sure that your coaching business has a solid brand identity and a compelling offer that resonates with your target audience. If you have a winning offer and your messaging is dialed in, paid ads can quickly scale your coaching business.

If you don’t have the above, there’s still a chance you’re ready for ads – but you’ll need to change your expectations.

You’ll want to approach ads from a testing perspective when there is no proven offer and brand yet. You’re essentially doing the same thing you’d be doing with organic marketing, such as:

  • Trying different angles and approaches 
  • Dialing in your brand and style
  • Making different offers

But instead of waiting for the organic algorithm to do its thing, you’re putting a budget behind it.

One test I like to perform is the $100 “book a call” offer test. I’ll come up with an offer and then run an ad that goes directly to my calendar. I’ll try another variation instead if I spend $100-$150 and get no calls booked on my calendar.

On the other hand, if you’re selling a lower-ticket coaching program directly (via a webinar or video sales letter), $100 won’t be enough to test. In this case, consider the rule of three:

Spend three times what your offer costs to gather the data you need. Anything less won’t be substantial enough to make a decision about your ads.

For example, you have a $997 introductory coaching offer. This means you’ll need to spend close to $3,000 on ads to gather enough data. Once you’ve spent that much, you’ll have the data you need to decide whether the offer sells.

Yes – this means you must risk losing money. If this isn’t a risk you’re willing to take, I suggest sticking to organic marketing. 

Do not EVER invest a SINGLE PENNY in paid advertising and expect to ever see it back. If investing in ads will cause you to struggle to pay your bills, I strongly advise getting clients using free methods first.

2. Defined target audience

Investing in paid ads works best when you clearly understand your ideal customer. Knowing their demographics, pain points, and preferences will help you create highly targeted ad campaigns.

But, as I mentioned in the section above, it’s possible to approach ads without a defined target audience. The only difference is that you should come in with the mindset that you won’t necessarily get great results just yet.

Instead of using ads to land clients straight away, you can use them to test different audiences and see what works best!

But if you don’t have the budget to perform these tests, you’re probably not ready for paid ads just yet.

3. Conversion-driven website

To make the most of your paid advertising efforts, it helps to have a conversion-driven website or landing page in place… unless you’re running video view ads or similar ad formats that don’t require users to leave the platform (like Facebook Lead Ads).

Make sure that your landing page is optimized for user experience, captures leads effectively, and nurtures them through the sales funnel. I strongly recommend against running paid ads traffic to a website home page that isn’t designed for conversions.

Tips For Maximizing Your Advertising Budget

Want to dip your toes in paid ads for your coaching business? Here’s how to get started and make the most of your budget.

1. Perform thorough keyword research

If you’re going to try search ads, keyword research is a must. Identifying relevant keywords with high search volume and low competition can help ensure your ads are shown to the right audience.

You can use free resources such as:

Doing keyword research will help you go beyond the basic seed terms like “find a coach” or “best anxiety coach.”

2. Create compelling ad copy

Craft engaging and persuasive ad copy that captures the attention of your target audience. This is especially important for social media ads. 

If you don’t know where to start to get better at copywriting, check out this post about copywriting for coaches!

3. Track and analyze metrics

Regularly monitor your campaign metrics and analyze the data to identify areas for improvement. 

Adjust your targeting, messaging, and bidding strategies based on the insights gained.

This comes with one caveat – don’t obsess over your metrics. Most paid ad platforms have some degree of AI that do the heavy lifting. If you obsess too closely and change things up before allowing the AI to test things out, you’ll tank your own ads.

4. Refine your landing pages

Optimize your landing pages for conversions by:

  • Creating a SINGLE clear call-to-action
  • Optimizing for mobile devices
  • Removing distractions (such as menus or random elements)

 A cohesive and seamless journey from the ad to the landing page increases the likelihood of conversions.

5. Test, test, test!

The best way to get high-performing ads is to test new variations consistently. The more variations you test, the more likely you will find a winner.

For example, you can launch a few ad variations that blend 1-2 texts and 2-3 new images weekly. But not every week will get you a “winning” ad. 

As you keep testing over time, you’ll find “winners” that get better results than others. You can spend more on these winners and keep testing new variations. As you find more winners, you can maximize your budget and increase your ROAS!

Master Paid Advertising to Grow Your Coaching Business

There you have it – you’re now properly equipped to try paid ads to grow your coaching business!

Remember that paid ads are only an amplification of your message. Using paid ads won’t fix a broken funnel. On the other hand, it can help you scale the reach of a post that resonated or grow an offer you’ve validated.

If you want to turn paid advertising on, it’s important to have systems in place to be ready when those new leads and coaching clients come in. And that’s where Paperbell comes in.

Paperbell is the crazy, simple way to run an online coaching business. It handles basically everything except the coaching! You can get paid, schedule coaching sessions, manage contracts, organize client notes, and so much more. Grab your free account right here to give it a try!

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By Charlene Boutin
Charlene is an email marketing and content strategy coach for small business owners and freelancers. Over the past 5 years, she has helped and coached 50+ small business owners to increase their traffic with blog content and grow their email subscribers.
November 20, 2023

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