2021 Facebook Ads Martial Arts Marketing

Martial Arts Facebook Ads (Updated For 2021!)

See here for our Core Foundations guide to Martial Arts Marketing covering the marketing strategy and all the essentials and basics you need to know.


Martial Arts Facebook Ads: Why Facebook? 


This is the question that all great martial arts teachers need to ask themselves – why advertise on Facebook anyway? Now we’re not here to tout how amazing Facebook is, we’re here to give you the real information you need to know to make the most informed decisions for your dojo. 


The reason we recommend Facebook Ads as the #1 platform you need to consider is because of its easy of use, its popularity, and its relative inexpensiveness. In fact, we argue that if you are seriously bootstrapping it, you could get by with Facebook Ads alone, without needing other advertising platforms, or without even needing a website, a landing page, hosting or a domain.


If you asked us “what is the simplest, cheapest, fastest way just to get started?” our answer would be straight up “get on Facebook Ads”, and more specifically, get on Facebook Lead Ads – but more on that later. 


In this video Gary Vee breaks down exactly why you need to be considering Facebook Ads as a key component of your Marketing arsenal:



What You Need To Get Started With Martial Arts Facebook Ads


At its most basic, Martial Arts Facebook Ads are essentially made up of 3 components: a photo (to grab attention), ad copy (the words), and an offer (incentive to take action). There is obviously much more complexity than that, but when you’re just getting started, that’s all you really need. 


Facebook Ad Photos


It’s no secret that you need great photos for your Martial Arts Facebook Ads. However, before you start stressing that you need to hire a professional photographer and spend all sorts of money to get photos, I do want to reveal a secret to you – there are a plethora of free, copyright-free, royalty-free stock image sites on the web, our favourites are Pexels and Unsplash


No joke, all of our photos come from there. But shhhh (don’t tell anyone!).


Do some searches for “martial arts”, “karate”, “bjj”, “jiu jitsu”, “mma”, “UFC”, or whatever is most relevant to you. Find your best photos. We recommend grabbing 5-10 different photos so you have some variety in the ads you can run. 


This video by Visme gives you the step-by-step on spicing up your Facebook Ads photo design features to really pop and grab more attention:



Martial Arts Facebook Ad Copy


Please excuse the ‘biz lingo’, but Ad Copy is essentially the words you use in your ads. This can be further broken down by your Description and your Headline. Now something to keep in mind, is that while in a conventional newspaper the headline goes at the top of the page, the Headline in Facebook actually sits at the bottom of the ad below the photo. Not a problem, just more of a technical detail if you’re wondering why your ad headline isn’t showing up at the top. 


There are many schools of thought on Facebook Ad Copy, but my recommendation if you’re just getting started is to keep it simple. Err on the side of shorter (however, once you become more proficient, long form ad copy can and usually does outperform short form – but more on that in future post). 


Start with benefits to the users. Statements like “Our students develop confidence, discipline and a strength to handle hairy situations.” And continue with statements like “Our students used to experience bullying, but have developed the inner-strength to stand up for themselves. 


Then you can list your business details (name, address, phone number), and then we’ll get into the offer (next).


Some Facebook Ad Copy pitfalls to avoid: 

  • Avoid using the work “you” as much as you can. Saying things like “do you want to lose weight” will get your Facebook Ad account banned faster than you can throw that nasty roundhouse kick. 
  • Avoid using personal identifiers – similar to the above, don’t say things like “are you miserable”, “do you get bullied”, “do you feel angry”, “do you feel depressed” – any statements like that that could make the prospect feel “personally identified” can trigger the Facebook Ad Censors. 


This video by Wes McDowell breaks down step-by-step the essentials to writing Facebook Ad copy that converts like crazy:



This video by Foundr Magazine breaks down the 7 Deadly Sins of Facebook Advertising – and how to avoid getting your account banned



The Offer


This is the last essential piece you need in your Facebook Ads – The Offer. What is the purpose of the offer? This is designed specifically to get people to take action. That’s it. Your photo is designed to grab attention, your copy is designed to build interest, and your offer is designed to incentivise action (ie: call you, book a meeting, walk into your dojo). 


Let’s start with a basic one: 30-Day Free Trial. If you’re just getting started, this is the simplest, fastest, best way to get butts into your gym. People love free. But more importantly it let’s people come and check you out, check out your gym, check out your classes and meet other students, without feeling like they have to make a commitment, or feeling pressured to get out their wallets. 


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: relationships take time. Trust takes time. By giving an offer of a 30-Day Free Trial, you’re helping your clients to make the most important step of all: actually walking into your gym. 


Once they’re in your gym, now they’re in your world, and you have the power to show them why your gym is the best, and why they’d be fools to not keep taking classes with you. But unless they actually walk in your doors, they’re just lines of data on your Facebook account. Get clients in your door with an irresistible offer. 


This video by Dan Henry breaks down the essentials to creating an irresistible offer that gets students into your gym:



Pixel (Optional)


Now we’re getting into some optional territory. Setting up the Facebook Pixel is definitely more advanced and does require updating some code in the backend of your site, which could potentially break it (always keep a backup). Alternatively you can use a plugin like Header Footer Injection


If you’re running Facebook Lead Ads (more on that later) you don’t need the Facebook Pixel and can skip it for now. However if you are sending users to your website, we do recommend setting up the Facebook Pixel as a way of tracking their behaviour, and better optimizing for conversions in the future. 


So what does the Facebook Pixel do? Essentially it is a tiny piece of Java Script that loads a 1×1 pixel on your site. This allows it to communicate back to Facebook in terms of user behaviour. So let’s say you’ve got an e-commerce store on your site (you sell gi’s, sparring gloves and other martial arts type gear), by having the Pixel installed, it allows Facebook to better understand exactly the types of people who come and buy from you. 


This allows you to run more effective and targeted ad campaigns, because you’re able to leverage the enormous power of Facebook’s machine learning algorithms on pattern recognition, to better pin-point your exact target audience. Pretty cool right? 


I know this step can be a little intimidating if you’re not a developer or know much about code (I certainly am not a developer). However there are plugins available to make setup easy, and don’t need to stress about breaking your site (we still always recommend having backups of your site!)


This video by Jacob LE gives you the steps to setup the Facebook Pixel on your WordPress site:



This video by Jason Wardrop, breaks down step-by-step exactly how to setup your Facebook Pixel on your Click Funnels site:



Video (Optional)

We’ve put video as an optional item because if you’re bootstrapping things and just need to get started fast, photos are the best option for you. However, once you’ve gotten started and you’re getting some momentum, and you have a bit more time to be creative, Facebook Video Ads are absolutely another weapon you need to include in your Marketing Arsenal.


They say a photos is worth a thousand words, but we believe a video is worth a thousand photos. Video allows to you say a lot more and convey a lot more information than just a photo. 


In a video they can see your face, hear you voice, get a sense of your personality and who you are. They can watch you doing demonstrations, of showing off your class, and possibly of testimonials of you students. Video is way more versatile in terms of what you can communicate, and on top of that, people love watching video.


But initially business owners get tripped up with video because of the extra work. Don’t stress. Your videos can (and should) be simple to start, with little (or no) editing. The trick is just to start. Ask someone to film you or grab a tripod and start talking about your gym and how you help your students to grow and achieve their dreams in life. 


Start slow, keep it simple, but just make it happen. Even if it’s a selfie video on your smartphone – this doesn’t need to be high scale movie studio production. Remember, on social media people want to see realness and authenticity, and no amount of expensive production value can imitate your authentic self. 


This video by Social Media Examiner breaks down exactly how to make Facebook Video Ads that users actually want to watch:



Landing Page (Optional)


The landing page is definitely optional. When you’re just starting out and you’re running your Facebook Lead Ads, there’s no need at all to have a landing page or a website. Also, before I go any further, there is some confusion as to what a landing page even is.


A landing page is simply the page your users land on after clicking an ad (hence: landing page). Now this could simply by your home page, a blog post, or a specifically designed page, OR you could also invest in expensive landing page building softwares like ClickFunnels, Unbounce or LeadPages, however the good news is none of those expensive tools are necessary at this stage.


Ideally you don’t need a landing page at all, but if you’re getting to a more advanced stage, and you definitely need some kind of website or landing page for your ads, then we recommend setting up just some basic pages within your WordPress platform.


This tutorial by Miles Beckler takes you through step-by-step in a comprehensive guide on how exactly to setup your website, setup hosting and develop your own landing pages and funnels, without requiring expensive landing page building softwares:



Martial Arts Facebook Ad Strategy


Alright, now you’ve got all your basic Facebook Ad building blocks covered, it’s now time to talk about what you can do with it, and how you can bring all the pieces together. 


Within the Facebook Ads Platform, which by the way you access through,  there are many (MANY!) different campaign types. There are Awareness Campaigns, Video View Campaigns, Engagement Campaigns, Traffic Campaigns, App Download Campaigns, Conversion Campaigns, Lead Generation Campaigns, Facebook Messenger Campaigns, and Store Traffic Campaigns – so many campaigns! 


We’re going to go through now and break down each one of these campaigns so you understand fundamentally how they work, and how you can use each of them for maximum effectiveness in your Marketing Arsenal. 


The ultimate strategy here is to get as many paying clients into your dojo as possible, but as always, there are many ways to skin a cat. If you’re bootstrapping and you just need some results today, then the Facebook Lead Ads will be your best friend – they require the least amount of setup (don’t need a website or a landing page), and you can instantly (or within a few hours anyway) start collecting names, emails and phone numbers of prospects. 


Facebook Lead Ads are a great way to get started, however, they’re really only just the tip of the iceberg, because they’re only really going to attract those people who were already interested in martial arts anyways. 


What about all the people out there who haven’t fallen in love with martial arts? Who don’t know what you can offer? We say these people are at the top of funnel, and they require more awareness to bring them into your world


Therefore our strategy will consist of initially going after the bottom of funnel (Facebook Lead Ads), then move towards middle of funnel (Facebook Traffic Ads), and finally top of funnel (Facebook Awareness Ads). We’ll get in and explain each in more detai.  


This video by Wes McDowell takes you through exactly how to develop your Facebook Ad Strategy:



Facebook Lead Ads


So what is a Facebook Lead Ads? To a non-marketing person, I’m sure the name looks pretty weird and strange, but let me break it down. Quite simply, a lead is someone who’s raised their hand and indicated they’re interested. By collecting their information (name, email, phone number), you now have a way of getting in contact with this lead. 


So a Facebook Lead Ad, is simply a tool to collect the names, emails and phone numbers of prospects who have raised their hands and indicated that they’re interested. How did they indicate that they’re interested? By giving you their information. 


People do not give out their information willy nilly (maybe emails, but definitely not phone numbers), so if someone trusts you enough to give you their phone number, that is a massive sign of confidence. 


To setup a Facebook Lead Ad, you just need your core assets that we outlined above, and then to create a Lead Gen Form. The Lead Gen Form is the form that captures the users information, and because it’s Facebook (and Facebook knows all), it will auto-populate with the users information, making the whole process super frictionless. In marketing: frictionless = success. 


This video by Wes McDowell takes you through exactly step-by-step on how to setup and optimize your Facebook Lead Ads and how to setup your lead gen form :



Facebook Traffic Ads


The next step is to start running Facebook Traffic Ads. In essence these are ads that are designed to get people to your website. And before I go any further, a quick note:


The Facebook machine learning algorithm is extremely smart, and it groups users into different buckets. There are some people who click the like button on ads (the engagers), there are some people who watch your videos (the video viewers), there are some people who click on your ads (the website visitors) and there are some people who buy your stuff (the converters). 


Facebook is very good at knowing who is who, and when you run a Traffic Ad, Facebook will find as many users as possible to go visit your site, and if you run a Conversion Ad, Facebook will find as many users as possible to go to your site and convert (purchase). 


So why even run a Traffic Campaign at all? This ties into our longer term strategy of running Remarketing Ads (more on that below), and possibly of alternative income sources and selling ad space on your site (the more traffic you have, the more income you’ll earn). But the main goal is to get more users to your site to continue the journey of becoming clients of yours. 


This video by Market & Hustle breaks down exactly the process of building out your traffic ads:



Facebook Awareness Ads


Quite simply, Facebook Awareness Ads, generate more awareness for you. And to anyone who doesn’t work in marketing, I can see your eyes glaze over in confused wonder. I’ll explain. 


Generating ‘awareness’ is simply getting more people to be aware of your Martial Arts Dojo. The more people you reach, the more awareness you have. But why even bother running an awareness campaign? Why not just run a conversion campaign and get lots of conversions?


I’ll let you in on a little secret: the Facebook ‘converters’ are a highly sought after group of users, and as a result, they are (relatively) extremely expensive to reach. Think about it, if these are the people who buy stuff, then every marketer on the planet is trying to reach them. As demand goes up, so does cost.


So the beauty of a Facebook Awareness Campaign is you can reach A LOT of people for very inexpensively. If your goal is to reach the most number of people for the least amount of money, then you want an awareness campaign (and this can also tie into a remarketing campaign, as we’ll discuss in a bit)


This video by Ben Heath, details exactly how to best setup your own Facebook Awareness Ads for maximum reach and engagement:



Facebook Video Ads


Facebook Video Ads are pretty much exactly as they sound, they’re only designed to run videos, and they’re designed to get you as many views as possible. 


With Facebook Video Ads, you do have some options as to your bidding strategy, you can pay per impression, you can pay per 3-sec view, or you can pay per ThruPlay (when the user watches at least 15 seconds). Obviously you’ll pay the most for a ThruPlay, however it is money better spent as you know that the user actually took the time to watch your video. 


Why do you want video views? Video views tie into brand awareness, but also to remarketing (and more on that in a bit). One of the special advertising features that Facebook has opened up, is the concept of Video View Remarketing. This means you can remarket specifically to users who have watched either part or all of your video. 


And why should you care about that? Think about it, people are busy, they whip through their newsfeeds. If they take the time to actually stop and watch your video, then there is a very good chance that they’re actually interested in what you have to say. 


Similar to how when a user gives you their name and phone number they’re indicating interest, by watching 30 seconds of your video, it is a small commitment, but nonetheless is them raising their hands and showing that they’re interested. 


This video by Ben Heath takes you through step-by-step how to setup and maximize your Facebook Video Ads:



Facebook Remarketing Ads


Now before you look at me like I’m medusa, yes remarketing (or retargeting) is a real thing. What is it you ask? In a nutshell Remarketing Ads are a way to get back in front of your customers. 


This can take many forms, they may have visited your website, they may have subscribed to your newsletter, they may have engaged with your Facebook Page, they may have watched one of your videos, they may be a past e-commerce purchaser. If we’re talking about YouTube, they may have subscribed to your channel or liked one of your videos – there are SO many ways to slice up remarketing. 


But to keep things simple for now, let’s look at remarketing from two contexts: users who’ve visited your website, and users who watched your video. 


Let’s start with website visitors. In order to set this up, you will need to have your Facebook Pixel installed (guide up above). Once you have your Facebook Pixel installed, you’ll be able to track (anonymized) users who visit your site. 


In the Facebook Audience Manager, you can then create custom audiences based on all visitors to your website, of if you’d like, you can get even more granular and choose the specific pages that you want to retarget. 


For example, let’s say there is a blog post that has been very popular that has a attracted a specific demographic of people, you could remarket to them. Or let’s say, you have e-commerce on your site, you could remarket to all the people who added items to their cart but never completed checkout, OR remarket to everyone who’s made a purchase from you, and you can remarket to them the next product they should buy. 


The other way to run remarketing is by Video Views. The advantage here is that you don’t technically need the Facebook Pixel setup (however, it is still recommended). When you run a Video View campaign on Facebook, everytime someone watches your video, they get added to your remarketing list. 


Do keep in mind that you need to setup your Custom Video View audience in the Facebook Audience Manager (it is easy to forget this!). Remarketing audiences do not auto-populate – you do need to create them in the first place. Oh! And also keep in mind that audiences need to have at least 1000 users in them before they can be used (for privacy reasons – but a little hack: Google Display Audiences only need 100 users, so you can get started remarketing faster with them).


Now that you’ve got your remarketing populating and filled, then the question is, what do you do with them? Here is the general remarketing strategy:


Start by casting a wide net, you produce an informational video that shows off your Martial Arts Gym. It’s great, it’s funny, it’s educational, it get’s people interested. Great. Now show your video to as many people as possible in your local area by running a Facebook Video View Campaign. It may take a few days or a few weeks depending on your budget, but eventually you’ll have enough people in your remarketing audience. Check. 


Now what? Now you’ve got a list of several thousand users who’ve watched 30 seconds or more of your video – meaning they raised their hand and expressed that they’re interested. The next step is to run a Conversion Campaign (or a Lead Ads Campaign) to your list of hot prospects. 


Why does this work so well? Think about it, instead of advertising out to a cold audience, you’re now actively advertising to users who have expressed a keen interest in your gym and your brand. Guess what? They’re going to be signing up with you. 


For more detail, this video by the Surfside PPC breaks down exactly how to get your Facebook Remarketing Ad campaigns up and running:



And this video by Miles Beckler takes you through the ultimate Facebook Ad Strategy for 2021:



Facebook Engagement Ads


Ah the Facebook Engagement Ads. You know those people who like and comment on your posts? Those are the engagers, and the Facebook Engagement Ad campaign is designed to specifically to attract them. 


Why would you want engagement? Think about it from Facebook’s point of view. Facebook doesn’t exist to serve your business purposes, it exists to serve its loyal users. Or rather, Facebook exists to keep its users actively engaged on the platform, so it can sell more advertising space to you (it goes full circle, Facebook does want you to win too). 


What that means is that Facebook rewards advertisers who can keep its users engaged on the platform. The more users stay engaged, the more advertising Facebook can sell. 


Enter the Facebook Engagement Ad. This ad is designed specifically to get more engagement, to get more likes, comments and shares. So why should you care? Well here’s another secret we haven’t covered yet: that you can mix and match Facebook Ad Campaign types (yes we’re getting advanced now). 


So hypothetically, you could run an engagement campaign, collect a whole bunch of likes and hearts on your post, and then leverage all of those likes (also known as ‘social proof), when you switch to a Conversion Ad Campaign, as those likes and hearts get carried over. 


Effectively, you can make your Conversion Ad Campaigns more effective by paying to get some engagement up front. 


This video by Ben Heath runs you through how to run a Facebook Engagement Ad Campaign to make your Conversion Ad Campaigns more effective:



Facebook Conversion Ads


And here it is, la piece de resistance, the Facebook Conversion Ad. This ad type is kinda the Holy Grail, because this is where the rubber hits the road. If you have your Facebook Pixel and conversion tracking setup on your website, you can now instruct Facebook to go out and find all of those users who are hungry to convert. 


The Facebook platform has over 2 Billion active profiles – and from a machine learning point of view – that is a lot of data! Combine that with all the Facebook Pixels installed on websites all over the web that are linked specifically to e-commerce transactions, now the Facebook machine has a very clear understanding of who is looking to buy stuff. 


And as someone who has run many conversion campaigns, it is shocking to see how good Facebook gets. For example, we’ve run multiple campaigns targeted to the exact same audience, and we’ve included Video View Ads, Engagement Ads, Traffic Ads, Awareness Ads and Conversion Ads – and all the ads do their things as they’re supposed to, but it is the Conversion Ads that really bring home the bacon in terms of delivering purchases, and cash in the pocket. 


This video by Ben Heath takes you through step-by-step on how to setup your Facebook Conversion Ads:


Facebook Messenger Ads


The Facebook Messenger Ad works similarly to the Lead Gen Ads, however sends users direct to Facebook Messenger. This can be a good and easy way to start a conversation – you don’t have to call them, they’re already right there on the platform. 


This can be further enhanced by adding Chatbot features, which allow you to setup automated chat flows. You can specify specific questions to ask the user, and based on their responses to predetermined answers, you can generate a whole user flow within the chatbot. We recommend ManyChat as a great and inexpensive chatbot platform. 


This video by Cereal Entrepreneur takes you through exactly how to setup your Facebook Messenger Ads and how to add Chatbot Automations:



Facebook App Installs Ads


This ad type is specific just for business owners with Apps. Obviously this is more advanced and if you don’t have an app, it doen’t really apply to you. But as always, I want you to be fully aware and have a complete Marketing Arsenal at your disposal. 


This video by Ben Heath details exactly how to make the most of Facebook App Install Ads:



Facebook Store Traffic Ads


The Facebook Store Traffic Ads. It’s one of those ironic concepts, kind of an oxymoron. That we do all this digital work to setup these digital assets and run a digital marketing campaign, and then end up wanting to send people to our physical gym or store location.


But as much as we live in a digital and virtual world, it is still the reality that many people visit physical stores – AND – if you run a Martial Arts Gym, then this is definitely applicable for you. 


I know that COVID has thrown us all for a loop and we’ve started getting used to working from home and running digital, virtual classes, but there will be an end to this, and once we get there, people are going to want to come back to your physical locations. It’s coming, let’s be patient. 


This video by Social Media Examiner gives you a step-by-step tutorial on getting more foot traffic and walk-ins to your physical location:



Mart Arts Facebook Ads Conclusion:


First of all, congratulations – we made it!!!


I know that was a firehose of information. We covered a lot of ground. Obviously, as much as this is intended to be a complete and comprehensive guide, it is impossible to cover literally everything. If there is anything that was unclear, or you have questions, please ask in the comments down below. 


This is a living and breathing post that will be updated at least on a yearly basis to cover the latest and greatest when it comes to Martial Arts Marketing, and specifically Martial Arts Facebook Ads. 


Facebook as a platform is exceptional in terms of growing your business, and there is endless opportunity here. It is also constantly changing and evolving. Facebook is constantly releasing new features, changing old ones, updating policies and upgrading the interface. 


Even as someone who works day in and day out in Marketing, even I sometimes find it difficult to keep up with all the changes Facebook brings out. That is why that even as of this publishings (April 2021), there is already information here that is out of date (sorry!). 


Despite my best efforts to collect the best information out there, even some of the videos are 2 or 3 years old, which in Facebook years, is literally a geriatric. My goal is to keep this as updated and fresh as possible, to ensure that you only have the best information to guide you. It’s a team effort. 


To success on your journey.



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