Building a Lead Generation Native Ad Campaign From Scratch

This is a guest post from Joinative Content Marketer, Adelina Karpenkova. Joinative is a native advertising agency and SaaS for performance-driven advertisers. With its native advertising reporting tool, advertisers can access informative reports and dashboards and get more insights out of their performance data.

What goals do you set for your native advertising campaigns? Do you want to increase sales? Or maybe you aim at building brand awareness? What about lead generation? It’s crucial to understand that your campaign content, settings, and KPIs will highly depend on your goal. 

In this article, we’re going to talk about your lead generation campaigns. Native advertising can be particularly effective for acquiring leads. People aren’t necessarily open to making purchases after seeing your ad for the first time, but non-committal conversions, such as downloads or free sign-ups, usually help marketers lead prospects into the marketing funnel.

So how do you create campaigns that capture leads? How should they differ from your sales campaigns? What are the most effective tactics for lead generation? We know the answers and are ready to share them with you today.

The Difference Between Lead Generation and Sales Campaigns

First, let’s highlight the differences between doing native advertising for driving leads and running sales campaigns. 


While it’s more productive to retarget your website visitors with your sales campaigns, you can go for broader targeting with your lead generation campaigns.

Campaign Content

Your sales landing pages should include your product or service description, its benefits, etc. When attracting leads, you don’t need to talk about your brand too much – your main goal is to make these people want to interact with you so that you can convince them to buy from you with your further sales campaigns. 


Defining a budget and a goal cost per action for campaigns aimed at lead generation is more difficult than for sales campaigns. For example, you want to sell your online course for learning German. You’ll just define your goal cost per sale based on the price of your course and optimize your campaigns to reach it. And what if you’re running a campaign to promote your free learning guide and attract prospects that may become your customers in the future? In this case, you’ll need to start with rough estimates on how many leads might become your customers and your desired cost per lead based on this approximate number. Only after running your campaigns for some time, you can adjust your goals based on your performance data. 

Sometimes it can be tempting to add as many conversion elements to one landing page as possible. You pay per click, so you should make the most of your budget, right? Right, but it doesn’t mean you should bombard your visitors with multiple different offers on one page. 

When offering a paid fitness program, free guide, and a consultation with a personal fitness trainer on one landing page, you not only overwhelm users but also make campaign tracking and optimization more difficult. How do you evaluate where you can improve the performance of your multi-goal landing page? Instead, we recommend that you set 1 clear goal, distinguish your lead generation and sales campaigns, and even develop several landing pages for one goal to identify the best-performing one(s).

How to Acquire Leads with Native Ads

Understanding your goal isn’t enough to run a successful native advertising campaign. 

There are lots of factors that affect whether you’ll reach this goal or not. Your target audience, websites your native ads are served on, campaign content, headlines and images used – these are just a few things that determine your campaign success.

So, how does an effective lead generation campaign look?

Saga Boutique Cruising

This native advertising example illustrates a campaign run by Saga. The company was promoting a cruise package giveaway. All users had to do is watch a video and submit an application. The application form included the participant’s address, phone number, email address. 

For a tour operator, giving away 2 cruise packages isn’t a big deal. In exchange, they get hundreds or thousands of applications of potential clients. Having their contact details, they can send them email newsletters and special offers. Moreover, if one of the applicants decides to take a cruise, they’ll go to the Saga website first.

7 Steps to building a lead generation native ad campaign that works

Now when you know how successful native advertising campaigns look, it’s time to build your own one. Here are 7 tips you should follow to reach your lead generation goals with native advertising.

1. Set Goals

Wait, again? Aren’t we aiming at lead acquisition? Yes, we are. But this goal is too abstract. If you don’t want to waste your time and budget, we recommend that you set SMART goals.

SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. In other words, you need to specify how many leads you want to achieve, how much time it should take, and how much every lead should cost you. 

2. Know Your Audience

Who your ads are intended for? Answer this question before you even select the platform for content distribution.

Do you want to reach the widest possible audience? Does it make sense to narrow down your reach? There’s no single answer to these questions. Your targeting options will highly vary depending on your niche, SMART goals, budget, and a few other factors.

Note: It’s also desirable to have a clear plan for future marketing campaigns that you’ll reach your leads with. This will allow you to understand what kind of leads you want to generate and what type of content you should promote to attract their attention. By aligning your native advertising campaign with your overall marketing strategy, you’ll avoid spending your money on gaining low-quality leads and focus on techniques that deliver the relevant audience.

3. Set Budget

How much are you ready to pay per lead? Do you have enough budget to bring your campaigns to high performance without stopping in the middle of the way?

Mind that your campaigns aren’t likely to start delivering desired results from the first week. Not even from the second week. You’ll need this time to identify the areas of improvement, find the combinations of images and headlines that work, optimize your bids, and adjust your messaging.

That’s why it’s important to set your budget and know what cost per lead you want to achieve. We say ‘reach’ because it’ll take weeks or months before you start getting leads for your goal cost.

4. Pick or Create Relevant Content

How do you acquire leads? You offer something valuable in exchange for clients’ contact details. But how do you select the right assets for lead generation?

Whether you’re going to promote existing marketing assets or you have resources to create dedicated content, make sure it’s aligned with your goals.

There’s no sense in developing engaging content for wide audiences if it has nothing to do with your brand offering. Are you in a specific or micro-niche? Then be specific with your promoted content. 

For example, if you market food supplements for athletes, a ‘30 at-home workouts’ guide won’t be the best lead magnet to go with. Although you’ll drive lots of leads, it’s very likely that none of these people will be interested in your product. 

5. Provide a Clear Structure for Your Landing Page

The structure of your lead generation landing page will be similar to your sales pages. You shouldn’t forget to include an engaging headline, testimonials (if you promote a free guide, mention quotes from people who enjoyed it), use cases, concise paragraphs, and a clear CTA.

Below you can see a landing page Babbel promotes in their native advertising campaigns. To encourage users to try the app for free, they provide evidence of the app’s effectiveness by showcasing how it helped 15 people start to speak Spanish in just 3 weeks. This way, Babbel is attracting more potential customers than they would attract with a page that only highlights the benefits of the app.

6. Test Different Creatives

Just like any other advertising campaign, your lead generation campaign will require a lot of testing. The first thing you’ll want to test will be your creatives.

Your native ads determine whether your campaign content will work or not. It’s not a secret that different ads used for one landing page may deliver completely different click-through rates and conversion rates. To identify the best-performing creatives and focus on them, we recommend that you start by using from 5 to 8 headlines and images for each URL. 

You can find more best practices for ad creation in our interview with RevContent’s expert.

7. Track Your Performance and Optimize

Once your campaigns are live, you need to track their performance regularly. 

When you aim at lead generation, keep track of the following KPIs:

  • Click-through rates (CTR)
  • Conversion rates (CR)
  • The number of conversions
  • Cost per lead (CPL)

You might also want to check behavior metrics, such as bounce rates and time on page to better understand where your campaigns need improvement. 


So, to build effective lead generation campaigns, you’ll need to follow the best practices and adjust your campaigns based on your performance insights. Let’s quickly summarize our recommendations:

  • Go for your goal. Don’t mix different objectives in one campaign.
  • Set SMART goals.
  • Know your target audience.
  • Define your budget.
  • Be ready to adjust your goals and budget when you get some performance data.
  • Select content that appeals to your target audience at this stage.
  • Avoid using too broad topics.
  • Create effective landing pages.
  • Test different ads and campaign content.
  • Keep tracking your performance and optimizing your native ad campaigns.

The quality of incoming leads is more important than their number.

Low click-through rates don’t always mean you should develop more promising or intriguing creatives. However, if you’re getting high volumes of clicks that hardly ever result in conversions, first make sure your native ads reflect your campaign content and then check your landing pages – what can you improve there to turn more visitors into leads?

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