Isobel Burns

Do what you love is a cheesy line, but it makes the difference between a business you run and a job you do. Be true to your gut – it has good instincts!


Isobel Burns runs Digital Marketing Engine, which provides Facebook & Instagram advertising campaigns for coaches & online course providers. Her sales funnels and audience building programmes drive down the cost per lead through affinity & authority campaigns that are bespoke in their design.

Prior to founding Digital Marketing Engine, Isobel worked in B2B business development in London for nearly 20years. After selling her agency in 2017, she took some time to mentor small business owners in the setup and implementation of their own marketing & business development strategies. From here, the opportunity to train with some of the Facebook greats led her to follow her own advice and niche into Facebook Ads & Sales funnels.

Isobel lives in Berkshire, UK, with her husband, two children, Siberian Husky and Main coon cat. For fun, she throws humans around a Ju Jitsu mat and is hoping to stay in one piece long enough to make black belt!

Where did the idea for Digital Marketing Engine come from?

The idea for the company name came from a client. I was previously trading under my own name and had a plan to sort out my brand ‘one day’. Then, I was sitting with one of the coaches we support talking about how the Facebook ads sales funnel works and he blurted out ‘It’s like a Digital Marketing Engine for my business’! That was it; I was hooked. A quick google later and we had the URL locked down and never looked back!

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I love my job because it is rarely typical; sure, there are elements of the same but it is fresh and different. I get up around 6:45 and wake the kids. My husband and I tag-team getting ready, getting the kids ready, walking the dog and sorting through the chaos of any business family morning (this is normal, right!?).

Typically, I take the kids to school around 8 am before logging in to check on the ad campaigns and make sure nothing silly happened overnight.
Then I’ll run errands or take meetings for the morning before settling in to build & optimise campaigns for the afternoon. I tend to block calls for a Monday and reporting for a Friday. I like the top and tail of the week that way.

Around 5 pm I collect the kids, spend a couple of hours hanging out with them and then log back on from 8-10pm to talk with my overseas clients. I try to keep this to just Monday and Thursday evenings so we get family time, too. My whole family is nuts about Ju Jitsu so Wednesday, Friday and Saturday we are dressed in our martial arts pyjama suits throwing people around a mat. It’s fun, but a bit bonkers!

My days are productive because I love what I do. The thrill of finding solutions to complex funnels, cracking the audience, ensuring no one slips through the net. That’s what keeps me on track. Because I find it so interesting, and I’m literally always learning (thanks Facebook for changing every 5 mins!). My family time is important so I protect it by making sure I get things done smartly during the day. I’m aware just how lucky I am to work like this and I don’t want to break it – going back to the full commute and 9-5 (8-7 in my old world!) fills me with dread.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I’m a very analytical person. I go to the data and the process, first. I’ve spent all my career in business development and sales roles. I’d like to think I’m good at pulling information from people and knowing instinctively what makes them tick. Backing this with good data brings it to life. That and an awesome team of creatives whom I couldn’t work without!

What’s one trend that excites you?

I love how much weight Facebook is putting on personal experience. Rather than the billboard posters we used to see, we’re working more and more with hyper-personalised messaging which makes such a difference! This makes niching down and cracking your audience all the more important. Done right it is a super powerful tool to bring in business!

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Is it a habit, a quality or a fault? Not sure, but what makes me productive is the ability to be unrelenting in solving a problem. I am very good at zooming in on the detail from the big picture.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Get on with it! I spent a long time trying to enjoy something because I was good at it. Now, I’m doing something I thoroughly enjoy (to the point of obsession sometimes!) and am also getting some pretty awesome results!

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Wow, that’s a tough one. When I talk to prospective clients I nearly always have to tell them that their customers are on Facebook. People like to place boundaries around business contacts, forgetting that ultimately they are people first and business people second.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Keep learning. Keep your brain-fit. Take time for you.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Finding people who love what they do as much as I do. My team are diverse in their skill set. We fit like puzzle pieces so you get the full-service from a team of experts rather than a team of generalists.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I didn’t say ‘no’ when my gut told me too. I got burned by someone because when we set out to audit their ads account I wanted to work with them more than I wanted to see the issues. I actively ignored the warning flags in the early days and ended up losing money, and face!

I had to rebuild confidence and income following that but it taught me that the process I have in place is there for a reason and not to let my heart rule my head!

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Love this question! Look at what you do really well and zero in on it. That’s advice rather than a business idea but it is applicable to anything;-)! I loved putting people together and I love data. Facebook Ads is my perfect home, for that reason!

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Just bought into a developing ChatBot template for a loyalty programme. It’s going to be huuuuuggggee! That’s definitely my best recently. Although I do have shiny object syndrome (a quirk of the job!) so ask again tomorrow and it might be different!

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Clickfunnels – love it or hate it, it’s the best place to start and has so many templates for you to use. Any business can start on Clickfunnels for less than $100 a month.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Clear Sales Message by James Newell. It is a straight-talking guide to building your brand messaging and getting sales without being cheesy. It’s a cross between a textbook and a great read. It’s on Amazon – go get a copy!

What is your favorite quote?

“But what if I fall? Oh my dear, but what if you fly” it’s like inspiration and courage all at once.

Key Learnings:

  • Do what you love is a cheesy line, but it makes the difference between a business you run and a job you do. Be true to your gut – it has good instincts!
  • Sense-check before you leap. Getting other perspectives is invaluable, especially when you work alone. I have 2 highly supportive (and quick to laugh) online mastermind groups – I would not be here without them.
  • There’s no such thing as work/life balance. There’s a work/life blend that ebbs and flows. Like Facebook Ads, pay attention to the 7-day stats, trying to fix the day to day fluctuations will drive you off course!