4 Reasons Your Facebook Ads Aren't Working


Struggling to get your Facebook Ads to convert? No matter how hard you try, you just can't seem to get them to work? You're not alone! According to a survey by Small Business Trends, 62% of business owners say that Facebook Ads don't work for them.  

However, what I can tell you from running thousands of Facebook Ads for clients over the years is that Facebook Ads absolutely work, but ONLY when they're used strategically. 

Believe it or not, Facebook actually wants your business to succeed on their platform. In addition, they're constantly coming up with new tools and updates that are designed to help advertisers achieve better results with their ads. The problem is that most business owners either give up too soon or turn off their ads before taking the time to properly test and diagnose them to figure out what went wrong.

Think of Facebook Ads sort of like learning to golf. You wouldn't just go to the golf course once and expect to start playing like Tiger Woods, right? The same thing goes for Facebook Ads. 

So before you give up or write-off Facebook Ads altogether, I encourage you to dive in and take the time to troubleshoot your campaigns. Sometimes all it takes is one or two tweaks to make your ads work. 

Below we'll look at some of the most common reasons that Facebook Ads end up failing and then discuss tips on how they can be fixed. 


Reason #1 - You don't have a solid Strategy

Running Facebook Ads without a complete strategy is like going on a road trip across the country without a map or GPS. The chances of you actually making it to your end destination are likely slim to none. That's why you must outline your goals, your sales funnel, and how you plan to measure your success before ever creating an ad. 

The other common mistake that I see often is asking people for marriage on the first date. What do I mean by this? Take a minute to think about the Facebook platform and why users are scrolling through their feed in the first place.

People aren't on Facebook to buy things. When people login to the platform they want to connect with friends and family, share updates about their life, and watch videos about cats or other entertaining things. Therefore, when you pop up in someone's news feed asking them to buy something when they have no idea who you are, that's pretty much the equivalent of you sitting down at someone else's dinner table at a restaurant and asking them to pay for your meal. 

So what's the right way to approach someone who doesn't know you in the Facebook newsfeed? Offer them something for free in the form of a guide, checklist, or worksheet. Because let's be real, who doesn't love free value and information? In some cases, depending on your type of business this free offer could be in the form of a lead magnet, a coupon, or a free trial for your service.

The point is, by giving away something for free before ever asking for a sale, you're much more likely to attract your potential customers instead of repelling them away. Facebook Ads should be used to start the conversation and build a relationship with your customers, not just sell your products or services. 


Reason #2 - You're not Targeting the right people

One of the greatest features of Facebook's Advertising platform, and also hardest for people to grasp, is targeting. In fact, I would have to say that poor targeting is the top reason that people end up wasting money on ads that don't work. 

We've all been served a poorly targeted ad before. In fact, just the other day I was served an ad in my newsfeed for a local CrossFit company. After looking into why I was seeing the ad, I found out it was because I had an interest in "physical fitness." However, just because someone is interested in physical fitness does not mean they want to pay for a CrossFit membership.

This company likely could have seen a lot more success if they had targeted people who have an interest in crossfit or other gyms such as Orange Theory Fitness. When targeting by interests, think of where your target customer is already going for a solution and start by targeting those companies or brands. 

As you can see, sometimes interest targeting alone can be a tricky feat. The good news is that Facebook offers a handful of other effective ways to target your audience such as:

Basic targeting:

  • Demographics
  • Location
  • Behaviors

Advanced targeting:

  • Custom Audiences 
  • Lookalike Audiences
  • Custom Audiences From Your Website 


Here's a quick look at how you can utilize each of these targeting options within your ad strategy:

Demographics - This is pretty straightforward, but demographics include anything from age to gender to education level to relationship status. For example, if you are a marriage counselor you could choose to target only people who are married on Facebook. Or let's say that you own a clothing store for middle aged women, you may choose to target only women who are between the ages of 35-55. 

Location - This is a great way to reach customers in specific locations by country, state/province, city or zip code. If you're a local business you'll likely want to use this option.

Behaviors - Behavioral targeting monitors the activities that people do on or off Facebook, their purchasing behavior, and more. Let's say you own a 5-star restaurant, you could target people who have an upcoming anniversary or birthday with a coupon to come celebrate at your restaurant. 

Custom Audiences; This option allows you to target current customers by uploading your email list or targeting people who like or interact with your Facebook page. I recommend using this option to help guide potential customers down the buying journey. 

Website Custom Audiences: If you have the Facebook Pixel installed on your website, this allows you to retarget people on Facebook who have recently visited your site or specific pages on your site. This is an extremely powerful feature and is also best used to further potential customers down the buying journey. 

Lookalike Audiences: This option allows you to find people who are similar to your customers by building a lookalike audience from your email list, website visitors, or Facebook Page fans. I recommend using this targeting option when you are ready to scale your campaigns. 

The old way of advertising was all about reaching as many people as possible with your message, while the new way of advertising is all about reaching as many targeted people as possible. 


reason #3 - Your Ad Creative or Copy doesn't stand out

With over 5 million advertisers on Facebook vying for users attention, it's extremely important that your ad stands out if you want to see results. One of the easiest ways to do this and by having really incredible copy and a great image. 

Before you can understand what goes into creating copy and images that get noticed in the newsfeed, it's important to take a step back and put yourself into the mind of your target customer.

If your customer is a woman 25-35 that lives in Southern California and shops at Nordstrom, you're not going to want to show her the same type of image or copy that you would show to a 50 year old man likes to fish and lives in Alaska. Right? The key is to make your image and message as personalized to your target customer as possible.

Many times advertisers miss the mark by worrying too much about WHAT you should say, instead of focusing on HOW you should be saying it. Or they focus too much on the quality of the image and having it professionally designed, rather than really thinking about how that image will resonate with their customer on a personal and emotional level.

Once you understand this simple principle writing ad copy and finding the right images, connecting with your target customer becomes a whole lot easier. 

other tips on how to create an eye-catching Facebook Ad:

  1. Start with a leading question that applies to your target customer and will get an implied, "Yes." This will automatically pre-qualify the people who see your ad and will weed out the people who aren't right for your product or service. 
  2. Build rapport by bringing up one of their pain points or biggest desires and then clearly explain how you can offer a solution. Remember, you don't have to solve the world's biggest problem with your product or service. You just need to help your target customer move the needle closer to their end goal or desire in a short, attainable amount of time. 
  3. Clearly state what you are giving them. In other words, what's in it for them? This could be a a coupon, a checklist, a cheat sheet, etc. 
  4. Use time sensitive words like "now" or "today." 
  5. Finish with a CTA (Call-To-Action). People are much more likely to do something if you tell them to do it. Funny how that works, right? Some commons CTA's are click here, sign up, grab your copy, save your spot, learn more. 
  6. Remind them where to go by using a shortened hyperlink in the copy. No one likes a long, ugly URL so I recommend using a tool like bit.ly or goo.gl to shorten your link. 
  7. Use an image that elicits emotion, matches your brand, and demonstrates your message. 

Full disclosure: These are just best practices and there is no one-exact ad formula that will work for everyone. No matter what, you're going to have to test different variations of your ad until you figure out what works best. I recommend starting with testing the image because that is the first thing your customer will see when scrolling through the feed. 


Reason #4 - Your Landing Page stinks

Capturing your customers attention and getting the click is only half the battle when it comes to Facebook Advertising. The other half is actually getting your customer to convert once they arrive on your landing page.

It's important to remember that the goal is to make it as EASY as possible for your target customer to give you their email or other information. A big mistake I see when auditing landing pages is too having much content and distraction, which can encourage your site visitors to leave before filling out a form or making a purchase.

Some other elements to consider to create landing pages that convert:

  • Headline that grabs their attention - This should be the first thing your site visitors see when they land on the page
  • Image or video to help illustrate and reinforce what you are offering (We all love visuals)
  • Short list of benefits of what you are offering (Again, what's in it for them?)
  • Call to Action - Be specific with this. Ex: "Click the button below to grab your guide now!" 

One last thing to keep in mind when designing your landing pages is to try and keep them as cohesive as possible with the ad you are running. AKA in the marketing world as your Ad Scent.

Have you ever clicked on an ad with a photo of a cute puppy, only to end up on a landing page trying to sell you supplements or some other random offer? 

I know I have, and it's mostly just frustrating. It doesn't convert visitors into customers either. 

This is because the scent of what was promised in the ad didn't match up with what was delivered on your landing page. To avoid this happening it's best to align your message, branding, and imagery as much as possible between your ad and your landing page.

So let's look at two examples of good ad scent and bad scent.....We'll start with the stinky, bad example first.

Bad Ad Scent

Notice how in the example below, the image and headline of the ad and landing page are completely different? Also, notice how the image they chose for the ad doesn't accurately display what it is they are offering? I see this image and immediately think they must be selling me a vacation rental or flights to the Carribbean. Yet, when I read the text they are actually trying to sell me on Facebook Ad services. At this point I just feel disconnected.


Good Ad Scent

Notice how in this example below how this company used the same image, fonts, and color scheme on both the ad and landing page? The headlines and copy may not be exactly the same, but they are very similar. From the time you see the ad and click over to the landing page, the entire experience is seamless. Bravo, Ship Lab San Diego!

ad scent.png

Just FYI, you don't have to be a tech wizard in order to build really amazing landing pages. You just need a simple landing page builder tool. I happen to love using Leadpages. (aff link) I've found that it not only increases my conversion rate on landing pages, but it saves me hours of time in building out landing pages for both my clients and myself.  


Don't give up on your facebook ads just yet! 

Facebook advertising can be a challenge because it involves so many different variables besides just the ad itself. As you learned in this post – your strategy, targeting, copy, image, and landing page all play a huge role in your success. The good news is....it only takes one really great Facebook ad campaign to completely change the course of your business. (You got this!)


For quicker results and a Free Cheat Sheet on the How To Generate High-Quality Leads Using Facebook Ads, click here