10 Facebook Ads mistakes you’re making (and how to fix them)

Think back to the last ad you saw in your Facebook feed. Can you remember what it was? Nope, me neither. The average person is now exposed to thousands of ads every day. We’re bombarded with messages telling us what to buy, how to feel and what to think. And, short of becoming Amish, there’s not a whole lot we can do to escape them.
The good thing to come from all this? Advertising is more accessible to small businesses than ever before.
The problem is that every man and his dog can run a campaign. So, naturally, half the ads on Facebook suck and a quarter are irrelevant. Remember: paying to place an ad doesn’t guarantee that it will be successful. Facebook doesn’t care if you’ve wasted your budget selling cat collars to dog people; they’re too busy laughing all the way to the bank.
Perhaps this is why 62% of small biz owners say FB ads don’t work for them. It’s easier to blame the platform than it is to troubleshoot exactly why it isn’t working.
Here are 10 big Facebook Ads mistakes you’re making.

Before we dive into the big Facebook Ads mistakes you’re making, I’ve put together a free Facebook Ads cheat sheet to help you transform your Facebook Ads. Download it below:

10 Facebook Ads mistakes you’re making (and how to fix them!)

Facebook Ads Mistake #1. You’re sending visitors to the wrong page

The page you send your visitors should be part of your strategy. It should be based on your campaign goal, ad content and audience.
Make life easy for your customer. Don’t force them to spend hours trying to find the product you advertised. If you’re advertising a specific pair of red-soled heels at 20% off and the visitor lands on your homepage, they’re likely to exit straight away. The longer they spend browsing, the more time they have to reconsider their intent to buy.
That said, sending them straight to the product page isn’t always a good idea either. If they’ve never had contact with your brand, consider sending them to a tailored landing page. Use this page to introduce the brand, introduce the product and convince the customer to buy from you.
Even if they are familiar with your brand, a tailored landing page can boost conversions. Google “landing page examples” for some ideas on where to start.
The page you send your ad traffic to should be tested with each ad campaign. Run two identical ads with identical audiences, but send them to two different landing pages. Which one gives you the lowest cost per conversion?
“What’s a cost per conversion?” I hear you say. This brings me to the second FB ads mistake you’re making…

Facebook Ads Mistake #2. You’re not tracking Facebook ad results

It’s all well and good tracking the cost per click or cost per impression of your campaign, but these metrics only show half the picture. The Facebook half.
What do they do once they click out of Facebook and land on your website? Do they purchase? Do they stay on the page for 3 seconds and then exit? Do they sign up for your mailing list? Do they add a product to cart, but exit before checkout?
If you’re not tracking these metrics, you’re leaving money on the proverbial table. Cost per conversion is one such metric that you need to acquaint yourself with, like yesterday.
Spending $50 of your precious advertising budget on each sale of a $20 dog collar, won’t get you anywhere fast. Except, maybe, the bottom of your business cheque account. Perhaps Campaign A is converting customers at $2 per dog collar and Campaign B at $100 per dog collar. Campaign B needs to be adjusted or switched off.
I could go on for days telling you how to track these metrics, but there are already a ton of resources doing just that. You have two options: spend the time learning how to do it, or outsource it. Living in blissful ignorance is the third option, but it’s only an option if you have money to burn.
If it’s all a bit too overwhelming and you want to leave it for later, that’s fine. Please do this one thing today: install the Facebook pixel so you can start tracking and retargeting website visitors.

Facebook Ads Mistake #3. You’re targeting cold traffic with a hard sell

You’re running a Facebook ad promoting a pink, rhinestone-studded collar for small dogs. You set the ad audience to people who like dogs and who live in Australia.
The audience for this ad have never been to your website, and have no idea about your brand. They have no idea who you are. For all they know, you could be a fly-by-night operator who is going to rip them off. Running hard-sell ads to cold traffic are a bit like inviting someone to your hotel room 5 minutes after meeting them in a bar*. Your chances of getting a “yes” are slim.
(*Note: your chances depend on which particular bar we’re talking about)
Besides the fact that you’re propositioning your audience on the first date, how do you know they are even looking for a dog collar? Do you know whether their dog is small enough for this particular collar? Maybe their dog doesn’t like pink. Maybe they don’t even have a dog!
You know nothing about their product preferences, so you’re wasting ad spend by showing them specific products.
How can you fix this? Get a little creative and offer them some free stuff. You could run an ad promoting a competition to win a dog collar. All they have to do to be in the draw is enter their email address, dog breed and preferred colour. You can then create Facebook custom audiences from the email list (segmented by dog size and/or colour preferences) and retarget them with specific products.
The other way to do this is through the Facebook pixel. Once you’ve installed the pixel, you can track which pages visitors have been to. This allows you to create custom audiences for each product or product category.
So, you visited my pink, rhinestone-studded collar page? Lucky you. You’re now going to be seeing ads for pink, rhinestone-studded collars throughout your newsfeed.

Facebook Ads Mistake #4. You haven’t ventured past the “Boost Post” button

Boosted posts are a good starting point. I’ve had some successful campaigns that were boosted posts. It all depends on your definition of success. If you want more people to see, engage with and share your post, then a boosted post is great. However, if you’re wanting to increase conversions on your website (i.e. sell more stuff), then a boosted post isn’t enough. You need to set up your campaign with a conversion objective.
Facebook is a clever platform. They know more about you than you know about yourself. They know if you’re likely to buy, or if you’re averse to online shopping. They know if you’re likely to tag a friend in the post comments, or if you’ll simply keep scrolling. Depending on the campaign objective you set, Facebook will show it to the right people for the intended result.
  • Brand awareness
  • Reach
  • Traffic
  • Engagement
  • App installs
  • Video views
  • Lead generation
  • Conversions
  • Product catalog sales
  • Store visits
Have a play and test different campaign objectives. Note: you should leave the ad for a couple of days to allow Facebook to optimise it.

Facebook Ads Mistake #5. You’re running a campaign for Facebook likes

Running a campaign for Facebook likes may be a great way to stroke your ego, but it’s not going to increase your sales.
Back in the good old days (read: 2013), you could have thousands of Facebook page likes and know that most of these people would see your posts. Four years on, you’d be lucky if a handful saw your post.
Thanks to the Facebook algorithm organic reach has all but kicked the bucket. It’s partly a good thing because our feeds would otherwise be full of rubbish (and not as many puppy videos). But, it means that most people who like your Facebook page will never see your posts in their newsfeed.
This makes Facebook page likes a vanity metric. Sure, it looks good and it sounds cool being able to say you’ve got 10,000 page likes, but it doesn’t mean a whole lot anymore. You’re better off spending your budget achieving a more meaningful goal.

Facebook Ads Mistake #6: You’re targeting the wrong people

Targeting isn’t something you’ll get right straight away. It takes a lot of testing, measuring and adjusting to get it right. When I first started running ads for my first business, I thought my ideal customer was a female, aged 18-30 and living in a major city. After a bit of testing, I found that my ads actually worked better with an older audience living in rural areas.
So, not testing different audiences is one mistake you’re making with your targeting. Choosing an audience that’s too broad is another.
Logically, you’d think that a broad audience is better, right? Reaching more people means more people buy… Right? Wrong.
With a large audience, your ads won’t get shown to everyone – unless you have deep pockets, that is. Facebook is also wasting your budget by showing your ads to people who are never going to buy your product. In part 1, I used the analogy of selling cat collars to dog owners; they’re not going to buy your product (unless, maybe, they have a really large cat… but that’s not the point).
I hear you asking me “Steph, what audience size should I be aiming for?” The short answer: How long is a piece of string?
The long answer: Test it! If Facebook Ad Manager is telling you that your audience is too broad, it probably is. Audience size depends on a lot of factors. Marketing experts in the US often suggest audience sizes in the millions. This might work if you’re targeting a global audience. If you’re targeting Australians only, a few million is usually too broad.
The point is that, if your audience is too narrow, your ads will be shown to the same people over and over again. And your relevancy score will go down, down, and stay down. That said, I’ve worked on some successful campaigns with audiences under 10,000 due to the specific niche they were in. It meant we had to be vigilant with tracking metrics and refreshing the ad content frequently.

Facebook Ads Mistake #7: You’re not keeping an eye on your relevance score

WTAF is a relevance score, you ask? It’s Facebook’s way of telling you whether it thinks your ads will resonate with your audience. For the sake of simplicity, think of it as the “will your audience give a crap?” score.
If people report or hide the ad, its relevance score will be lower. If people interact with the ad, the score goes up. If the ad achieves its objectives (e.g. conversions for a conversion-optimised ad, or clicks on a traffic-optimised ad), the score goes up.
So, why is relevance score so, uh, relevant? Aside from being a great way to tell if you’ve got the right audience and content, it also affects the price you pay to reach people. Facebook wants to show the right ads to the right people, so if your ad has a high relevance score then Facebook shows it to more people. At a lower cost. Simples.
If your relevance score was high but starts to drop, run for the hills. Just kidding. This is most likely a sign that your audience is being shown the same ads again. Try refreshing your images or copy, or test a new audience.
Relevance score isn’t a metric you should look at in isolation. It’s only one part of the picture, but it can give some clues as to why your campaign isn’t giving you the results you want.
That said, it’s not impossible to have a successful campaign with a low(ish) relevance score. I’ve run lead-generation campaigns with relevance scores of 3-4 where we generated high-quality leads at a decent cost.

Facebook Ads Mistake #8: Your images suck

A.k.a. “I don’t care how white that stock photo model’s teeth are, I’m going to keep scrolling because it looks fake”.
This usually goes one of two ways: (a) You have stock photos with fake, airbrushed models or, (b) you’re using your photos taken with your iPhone and it looks like amateur hour.
I’ve been there, starting a business and unable to afford professional photography. But, you know what? Youtube is free. Apps like Pixc will remove the background from your image for free. Everyone knows someone with a DSLR they can borrow, and if you don’t, there are camera hire places that are fairly inexpensive. If you’d rather not take the DIY approach, we offer styled product photography that is perfect for elevating your Facebook ad game.
If you don’t have a tangible product, there are plenty of styled stock photo websites with eye-catching images appropriate for your target audience. Unsplash is an amazing free stock photography website. If you’re a productive procrastinator, like me, I take no responsibility for the hours you’ll lose browsing Unsplash.
When picking your ad imagery, consistency is another important factor. Is the image you’ve picked consistent with your brand? Is it consistent with the landing page you’re sending them to? The last thing you need is for your new website visitor to freak out and think they clicked the wrong link.
Next time you’re scrolling through your Facebook feed, take notice of the images that stand out to you. The images that make you stop and actually take the time to read the ad. What do you like about them? What makes them stand out? How can you apply these concepts to your own ad imagery?

Facebook Ads Mistake #9: Your copy doesn’t have me convinced

Good imagery and a solid headline might catch your audience’s attention, but it’s your copy’s job to keep it.
Facebook is a source of information overwhelm at the moment. I usually read one sentence of each post on my feed and, unless it grabs my attention, I keep scrolling. Scrolling, scrolling, scrolling… Ooh, puppies!
This means you have one sentence, maybe two, to capture your audience’s attention and hook them in. How on earth will you keep them reading?
I usually start the ad with a question or two, that creates intrigue or confronts the audience. For example, “Feeling like a bad parent because you can’t find the time to bake healthy lunchbox snacks?”
Following on from that, you want to show that you understand your audience’s pain points. For example: “We know the feeling. As busy parents, we felt so guilty about feeding our kids supermarket snacks full of sugar and chemicals. That is why we created …”
It also helps to outline a few of the benefits of your product. Not just the product’s features. This is where a lot of businesses go wrong – they can’t articulate the real benefits of what they’re selling. Think really deeply about what your customer gets out of it. If your brain doesn’t hurt, you’re not thinking deeply enough.
Let’s pretend that I’m a swimming instructor. I teach kids how to swim. You’d think that the benefit of my swimming classes is that your kids learn how to swim, right?
Well, yes. But the benefits run deeper than that. Your kids aren’t just learning how to swim; they’re also less likely to drown. I’m not a parent, but I would personally pick a swimming instructor that tells me they’ll stop my kid from drowning, over one that says they’ll teach my kid how to swim.

Facebook Ads Mistake #10: You don’t have product-market fit

This one is a biggie. It’s confronting. Unfortunately, it’s all too common with entrepreneurs. We’re passionate people – we fall in love with our ideas. When we romanticise these ideas, we often forget to ask our audience if they actually need the product. If it actually solves a problem for them.
Sometimes, when our Facebook ads aren’t converting, it’s easy to blame the platform. “Facebook ads don’t work for me” is a common complaint. But, if you haven’t tested your product; if you haven’t actually gone and asked people in your target audience whether they need the product, or even if they want the product, then no amount of advertising will help you.
You can spend a fortune on advertising, but if you don’t have product-market fit, then you’re wasting your time.

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Facebook Ads mistakes you're making

February 5, 2019

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