5 reasons your Facebook Ads aren’t working

Are your Facebook Ads producing mediocre results? Columnist and Bitly senior content strategist Blaise Lucey explains why and how you can fix the problem.

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Brands big and small have deployed Facebook Ads. They can come up with an inspirational post to help their fans start their mornings. There are great guides, amazing brand videos and user-generated content that help generate leads and build awareness. Many companies finally have a Facebook strategy in place, and it’s running smoothly.

Except for the ROI part.

Simply Measured’s “State of Social Media Marketing Report” (email registration required) found that 61 percent of marketers still say their top challenge is proving ROI from social.

The report found that just 9.4 percent of marketers can track revenue from social. The scariest part is that most research shows that Facebook is considered the most effective social channel for results. But what results?

The truth is that if you’re running Facebook Ads and you haven’t seen an uptick in actual results, you’re not alone — far from it. But there could be easy fixes to the problem. Here’s why your Facebook Ads might not be working:

1. They’re not targeted

Clicks on Facebook are expensive. Don’t waste your money by putting your ads in front of people who might-could-maybe care. Most brands just set the location, maybe a demographic factor or two like gender or age and roll with the ad.

There are two parts to targeting correctly: really, really targeting on a micro level, and then creating relevant offers and content for that level.

Next time you run a Facebook Ad, try targeting by interest or life event. Match your copy and creative to that very, very specific interest or life event. Then, you can be sure that only prospective customers will be clicking.

2. You’re not cross-referencing Facebook’s numbers

We’ve all heard the story. A beauty company decides to run some Facebook Ads, then loses $600,000 because there were a lot of fake Likes and click counts that didn’t make any sense.

No, okay, it’s not that common. But a story like this still illustrates why you need to use third-party verification when you’re running an ad.

When using Facebook Ads:

  • Drive fans to a specific landing page where you can record conversion events via Google Analytics.
  • Use UTM Parameters.
  • Use Bitly links (Disclosure: I work at Bitly) to track clicks independently of both Google and Facebook analytics.
  • If you’re on WordPress, use the Jetpack plugin or the Stats page to see how much traffic Facebook is referring to your site.
  • Use marketing automation systems like Marketo to create forms and Salesforce drivers to identify where people are coming from and if they fill out the form.

3. You haven’t found the right format yet

Facebook Ads offer a rich variety of different ad formats. If one doesn’t work, another might resonate with your audience much better.

For example, you could try:

  • Page Like Ads
  • Slideshow Ads
  • Website Conversions
  • Click-to-Website Ads
  • Slideshow Ads
  • Offer Claims Ads
  • Local Awareness Ads
  • Canvas Ads
  • The Carousel Format
  • Dynamic Ads
  • Lead Ads
  • Event Response Ads
  • App Installs & Engagement
  • Video Views

That’s not even a complete list. When you consider how many ways you can target — and the content and offers you can promote — the opportunities and combinations here are endless.

Part of this is creating content that can be repurposed and merchandised for other formats.

4. You haven’t tried retargeting

Retargeting is a common tactic among search marketers who want to make sure that they’re serving ads to people who are already familiar with the brand. By adding a tracking pixel to the website, you can make sure that your display ads are served to website visitors.

You can do the same thing on Facebook. If you use retargeting on Facebook, you can make sure your ads are seen by website visitors. By connecting the two experiences, you’re targeting people who are already familiar with your brand and your product, so there’s a higher chance for conversion.

5. The ads don’t feature customers or users

In a lot of cases, your users are better at selling your product than a fancy ad. In fact, 85 percent of users trust content from other users more than content from brands. So try promoting a customer testimonial video or a use case on Facebook and see how it performs.

Or better yet, start crowd-sourcing cool ideas. Starbucks held a contest to see who could create the most creative illustration on a white cup and got 4,000 entries in three weeks. Meanwhile, Target created a scholarship of $500 million and, to promote it, created a crowd-sourced commercial, “Acceptance,” that is a compilation of videos from different students reacting as they open acceptance letters for college.

Making ads that people want to see

If one thing’s for certain, it’s that the digital marketing landscape has never been so saturated. Countless companies are pushing ads across multiple channels, trying to target potential customers. That’s also why so many Facebook Ads are ineffective — Facebook users are jaded and often scroll right through ads without giving them a second glance.

To really get your message out there, you have to target a very specific group with very specific content. By creating micro-targeted messages, your Facebook Ads can stand out from the crowd, and you won’t pay as much per click. This way, your Facebook Ads will finally work, because they’ll be ads that people actually want to see.

Contributing authors are invited to create content for MarTech and are chosen for their expertise and contribution to the martech community. Our contributors work under the oversight of the editorial staff and contributions are checked for quality and relevance to our readers. The opinions they express are their own.

About the author

Blaise Lucey
Blaise Lucey is Head of Global Content at Criteo. Having worked both on the agency and brand side, he has built content programs from the ground up for Fortune 500 companies and start-ups alike and is passionate about bringing great content to life.

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