Facebook WCA: How to Create a Sales Funnel Without Email Addresses

Nurture Sequence Without an Email Address

[AUDIO VERSION: I also recorded an audio version of this blog post. Click below to listen. Let me know if this is something you find helpful!]

The end goal for the typical online brand is to get some sort of a conversion. While there are exceptions, that goal is almost always a sale.

One method that has been effective to accomplish this goal is the standard sales funnel, whereby registrants are put through a nurture sequence of email messages and landing pages.

While effective, this method has a major weakness. And that weakness can be solved through Facebook retargeting using Website Custom Audiences.

The Typical Sales Funnel

If you haven’t created an online sales funnel before, you’ve likely been put into one.

Users aren’t typically ready to buy immediately. The goal of a sales funnel using a nurture sequence is to attract users with something that is free and warm them up to the paid product through a series of messages.

An example would include a lead magnet. This is a valuable (otherwise “premium”) piece of content that is offered for free in exchange for an email address. It could be an eBook or a video series on a very specific topic.

Of course, this topic would be directly related to a premium product for sale as well. So it is assumed that anyone interested in the eBook or video series would also be interested in the paid product.

Once opting in, the registrant is placed into a nurture sequence. They will receive a series of emails, likely directing them to various landing pages with more free “premium” content. The brand may choose to start mentioning their paid product (but not requiring a purchase) throughout that sequence.

But when the final message is sent, a hard sales pitch is made. The hope is that the user not only now sees the value for the product, but trusts the brand’s expertise thanks to the content provided in the nurture sequence.

The Weakness of Typical Sales Funnels

While effective, the typical sales funnel with a nurture sequence has one major weakness: It cannot work without first collecting a valid email address.

Some users are more willing to provide an email address than others. And some users may provide an email address they rarely use, thereby limiting the effectiveness of a nurture sequence.

When using this method, you may have a 30% conversion rate. Of the 1,000 people you send to your landing page, 300 will provide an email address and 700 will abandon.

Those 700 people were good, strong leads. They showed interest. They simply didn’t provide an email address, for whatever reason.

In the past, you lost those 700 people. Floated off into space. You may attract them later on, but you’ve lost them for the time being.

About Website Custom Audiences

If you don’t know about Facebook Website Custom Audiences yet, you need to catch up! It’s a targeting feature that allows advertisers to create Facebook ads that reach website visitors — either visitors to any page or to a specific page.

Before we move on, you may want to check out the following posts on this topic:

It’s possibly my favorite advertising feature ever created. Actually, there is no “possibly” about it. It is.

There are limitless things you can do with this feature. One of them is creating a sales funnel without an email address.

The Sales Funnel Without an Email Address

Don’t get me wrong, you should always have the collection of email addresses near the top of your list of goals. I’m not suggesting you should ignore list building. But you also shouldn’t ignore those who aren’t yet comfortable sharing this information.

With Website Custom Audiences, you can target ads at people based on how far along they’ve moved along the funnel. How? Because they are getting cookied and Facebook is tracking it.

1. Decide on a Nurture Sequence of Ads

Let’s go back to the video series example.

In the past, someone would have needed to opt in to your video series by providing an email address. You would then send them a series of emails directing them to different videos over several days or weeks.

Of course, this sequence will consist of different Facebook ads rather than email messages. So imagine what each video of the sequence will need to be and create an ad for each one.

You should think of this as a process. Warm them up, from beginner to expert (or from soft sell to hard sell). You are looking to gain their trust and convince them that a purchase is necessary over a sequence of messages.

This doesn’t need to be complicated. I’ve created a very simple, two-step sequence.

  1. Create an ad driving people to my Insights course landing page
  2. Create an ad targeting those who visited the landing page but didn’t buy

The second ad is targeted only at those who visited that landing page today and didn’t convert. My messaging in that second ad understands that the targeted user knows what my product is, but they may need further convincing. So I prompt them to ask any questions they may have about the product in the comments.

2. Create a Website Custom Audience for Each Page

In order for this to work, you need to create a Website Custom Audience for each page of your sequence. It also helps — though it’s not required — that these pages are specific to your campaign and aren’t linked to anywhere else.

From Power Editor, click the Ad Tools drop-down at the top right and select “Audiences.”

Facebook WCA

Then click the “Create Audience” drop-down at the top left and select “Custom Audience.”

Facebook WCA

Select “Custom Audience from your Website.”

Facebook WCA

Then you’ll get a dialog like this…

Facebook WCA

If you’ve never created a Website Custom Audience before, you’ll need to add your pixel to the HEAD tags of your website template. See my tutorial for that. If you’ve created these before, just click the “Create Audience” button.

Now you get to create the rule for your first WCA…

Facebook WCA

You’ll want to name it something consistent with the name of your lead magnet landing page. It’s the first step of your funnel. Of course, you’ll want to create a list of anyone who visits that page.

Duration is up to you. Clearly, the shorter the duration the greater the relevance. But of course, the shorter the duration the smaller the audience (and smaller the budget you can assign).

Create a WCA for each landing page of your sequence. This way, you can create Ad #2 to reach anyone who saw Landing Page #1, for example; and then Ad #3 to reach anyone who saw Landing Page #2.

3. Run Your Ads

Now you’ll create ads for each step of the sequence. Here is an example…

  1. Lead Magnet: Target fans and all website visitors
  2. Landing Page #2: Target visitors to Lead Magnet
  3. Landing Page #3: Target visitors to Landing Page #2
  4. Landing Page #4: Sell to visitors to Landing Page #3

Your Turn

You can do this in addition to the email sequence campaigns you’ve created. The key, though, is that you are no longer ignoring those who abandoned your landing pages.

What I’ve laid out above are just examples of how you can use Website Custom Audiences to run a nurture sequence without an email address, but there are no hard and fast rules here. Experiment!

Have you tried this? What ideas do you have? Let me know in the comments below!

  • Eric Tipton

    Hey John, do you create some sort of exclusion targeting as well? For example, if somebody converts then they are not shown an ad once returning to Facebook. Or does Facebook automatically understand that if a conversion pixel is fired to not re-target?

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Of course, Eric! So for my example regarding the Insights course, I was only creating a second ad target at those who visited the landing page but didn’t convert.

      • Ashley

        If you have the conversion pixel on the landing page, how do you segment and target those who bought/converted vs those who didn’t?

        My understanding is the conversion pixel is on a page, and the WCA will serve up ads to anyone who visited that (landing) page – whether they converted or not. I’m sure I’m just not understanding something about how the pixel works – thanks!

        (Stellar article, BTW! Thank you!!)

        • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

          Let’s use the example of ad #1 sending people to Landing Page #1. Facebook then generates a list of people who visited Landing Page #1, so I can target them in Ad #2.

          So for that ad…

          Target: Visitors to Landing Page #1 (WCA)
          Exclude: Those Who Converted (WCA), Those Who Converted (Custom Audience)

          Note that I exclude in two ways: 1) Email List (static) and 2) WCA (dynamic, excluding those who visited a specific page only for those who converted.

          • Ashley

            Ah! I understand now. Many thanks!

  • Maria

    I don’t really understand how is it possible to capture those who didn’t leave their email address?

    • Ryne Landers

      There’s a tracking pixel in use. Tracking pixels are widely used. They’re 1 pixel wide by 1 pixel high. Your average display has millions of pixels, so they’re impossible to see unless you find them in the source code and can single them out. Even then, they’re still virtually impossible to see.

      Anyway, they operate like website cookies. Put another way, they operate like those old James Bond GPS car tracking beacons in the movies, but for people visiting websites. In this way, Facebook knows you visited a specific page on Jon’s site. It can also tell you didn’t visit the conversion page.

      Using a simple logic formula, Facebook sorts those who visited the page and converted, from those who visited the landing page and didn’t convert. This is how it ties into your identity on Facebook, and then Facebook serves you ads urging you to go to the next landing page in the sequence.

      Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  • http://www.postplanner.com/ Scott Ayres

    Man that’s pretty intriguing. Do the ads get more expensive as you re-target?

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Potentially, that’s why you should limit your budget. For example, if the final stage of your funnel has 50 people in it and you set a $10/day budget, your oCPM is going to be through the roof to reach those people. If you’re targeting fewer than 1,000 people, you really don’t need more than a $1/day budget.

      So, hypothetically, size of audience in each stage and daily budget…

      1) 100,000 / $100
      2) 10,000 / $10
      3) 1,000 / $1

  • http://forewardsapp.com/blog Jason Dea

    Hi John. This is awesome. Big fan of your blog. It’s so refreshing (and helpful) to read about how to think of Facebook as a more strategic advertising channel than simply “get likes” or a bare bones tutorial on what the buttons in power editor do. Well done. Fingers crossed that I can get it to work too :)

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Thanks Jason!

  • Dan

    Hi Jon, great post. I have a couple of questions:

    1. How much traffic is required for this to work? It seems that if I am driving maybe 50-100 visitors to the initial landing page per day, it might take a while to build up a big enough audience to target the ones who didnt convert? And I imagine that the audiences decrease exponentially as you get to LP #3, LP#4 etc etc

    2. You say you exclude ‘static’ email list later on in the funnel – do you have to upload this revised static list every few days via power editor? And why would you include this static list if the people who land on the thankyou page (s)

    Thanks very much!


    • Dan

      Oh, Jon one more thing. You talk about LP#2,3 and 4 in your sequence. I am presuming that these would have some sort of lead magnet too – ie a giveway and optin form? Otherwise no one would be taking action?

      • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

        There is no right or wrong. The first landing page, the way I envisioned it, would be some sort of lead magnet. They’d then be automatically sent into the funnel. You can request an email address at each stage, but it’s not required. All they need to do is visit those pages to be pushed to the next step.

        • Dan

          Yep, I get it! Brilliant!

          Do you have a traffic figure in mind as a cut off point?

          On another note, a question to ask is if you exclude people from seeing ads further down the funnel – not everyone opens their email and clicks on the link to LP2/3/4 etc

          My head is spinning but kinda makes sense!


    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      1. It depends on your budget, but you are correct. The length of the funnel should be partially based on the traffic you can drive to it. Additionally, the duration you set for your WCAs should be related to the size of these audiences and budget you set. If you get 50-100 visitors to the initial landing page per day, you may want to use a 30 day duration.

  • Frustrated Small Business

    How does a regular person running a small business understand all of this? I’d happily hand over $297 of my hard earned $$ and give you access to my fb page + website if you could magically set it all up. Otherwise, a 45min ‘chat’ with you is going to leave me scratching my head even more than I already do reading these articles. It all seems very ‘marketer’ friendly but not ‘regular small business owner’ friendly. I have a website, limited understanding of SEO but lack the knowledge to make it all work for me. Why? I simply don’t have the time whilst making products to sell to sit and try to understand all these complexities. Sad but true.

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      My content is probably not for you. It’s targeted at those who already get it, have the time commitment or resources to implement it, and just need the few extra tips that can easily be worth that $297 (and then some) because they already invest much more than that in advertising for their business. I’d start by reading beginner-level content on Facebook marketing. You won’t find that here.

  • http://www.captivetouch.com/ Sherry Nouraini

    Awesome article! I often see ads from websites on which I did make a purchase. Basically, they end up serving me an ad for something I just bought! I thought that was a pretty wasteful exercise! Good to know there is a way to exclude, not sure I totally understand how, I know you explained it in a comment below but I am not sure I get it.

  • http://redplatypuscreative.com Red Platypus

    Hi Jon,
    Great article. Never considered creating a sales funnel this way. Great to have a fresh perspective. Now I need to go and implement it!

  • Dennis Fischman

    Jon, I’m curious: do you ever get the reaction from your prospects: “How the hell did you get my email address?” and then, “That’s creepy”? My wife runs a real estate business that works exclusively with buyers and her whole pitch is that she’s on their side. “On their side” and “peering over their shoulder” seem like they’d conflict. What’s your experience been?

  • Mark H

    Hi Jon,

    An unrelated-to-the-post question: I have a WCA that’s set for tracking all visitors.
    According to Analytics, I’ve had over 700 visitors in the same period the pixel was setup. However, Facebook has noted only 80 visitors.

    I assure you, the pixel is tracking all visitors.
    Any suggestions?


  • Mike P

    I run the social for the company that i’m at, and there has been some hesitation with adding Facebook pixels to our pages because we’ve noticed an increase in page load time in the past. Have you experienced anything like this?

    • http://careersreport.com Lisa Roush

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  • Mark H


    These landing page #2, page #3, etc…
    What kind of content is here? Is it all strictly informational or do we put a form as well?

    Would like some examples if you don’t mind

  • http://www.shop.graciousstore.com/ Gracious Store

    Interesting, This idea of using Facebook custom audience is good as many people don’t like to share their emails. I think it is time I step my feet into this Facebook ads and see for myself how much it can bring

  • Refik Berkol

    Hi Jon, I was thinking if I can do this with using custom audience e-mail feature. As the opening rates drop dramatically over the years, people are much more receptive to their Facebook inbox. How about shifting the traditional e-mail sales funnel to custom audience inbox? Have you tried this? Thanks. Refik

  • Muaz Faris

    Do have the example of each step of the sequence?

  • henrymazer

    Wow. Fantastic. How much increased your conversion using this?

  • Mark Tuttle

    John, this is a wonderful idea. I have set it up and seen good success. But I have a problem with whom I need to exclude so that people don’t see the previous posts. How would you recommend setting it up so that people see the step they are on and not any previous posts. (it’s complicated, because if I exclude the previous lists it will exclude everyone that visited the pages, thereby excluding those people.)

  • Mischa Kaufmann Bellazi

    Hey Jon, Thanks for the article !
    Could you please share with us the tools you’re using to create funnels ?