Cookies are good. Cookie-cutter is not.
No two platforms are the same. So, no two strategies will work the same, either.
Facebook, for example, doesn’t have the same killer intent that AdWords does. Which changes everything. You can’t convert visitors the same way. So, you can’t create ads the same way, either.
Running Facebook ads without confronting this difference can backfire.
It will lead you to decisions that look fine on the surface.
But in reality, are sabotaging your own efforts in a channel where customers behave completely different. Because their expectations are completely different, too.
Find out why that’s a recipe for disaster. Read 10 mistakes it causes, and how you can fix them all.
1. Expecting Facebook to Convert Like Adwords
You’ve got AdWords down.
Except, of course, they do. You’re just not doing it right.
Nowhere else in the world do people search, click, and buy like AdWords. There’s a reason it pulls in over $75 billion (with a B) for Google. Out of all the crazy stuff they do, that still ends up accounting for the vast majority of their revenue.
The intent people show on AdWords makes it an advertising gold mine. Which, even at today’s cost, is still a massive opportunity.
Unfortunately, you don’t have that intent on Facebook. In fact, you typically have the opposite. People are going to Facebook in order to NOT make any decisions for the next ten minutes (except procrastinate a little longer before filling out those TPS forms).
In this scenario, on Facebook, PPC attribution arguably matters even more.
That means on Facebook, you can’t jump ahead to the end of the funnel and scoop up all those showing purchasing intent. Because there largely is not purchasing intent.
Instead, you need to re-create the entire sales funnel inside Facebook.
That means top of the funnel campaigns to help you build new audiences. We’re talking content campaigns, so you can bring people back to your site and track them with a pixel for retargeting.
Now, you’ve got an engaged audience to send targeted offers for eBooks, webinars, checklists, free trials, and all of the other classic middle of the funnel offers.
Targeting is the single biggest factor in Facebook ad success (or lack thereof). So, you have to lay the groundwork, first, building up custom audiences that you can later come back to eventually promote your products and services.
2. Audience + Offer Mismatch
The new audiences you’re building in Facebook add complexity (as if it wasn’t already difficult enough).
You’re now trying to generate new attention, nurture existing people, and converting those who are ready, which creates even more problems for you.
Because there are primarily two factors that dictate conversions on Facebook:
Get those two ingredients wrong, though, and you’ve got a mess on your hands.
AdEspresso ran a test when Facebook first introduced their Relevance Score.
They took the same campaign with the same ad and ran it to two different audiences.
One was ‘well targeted’ (using a custom audience of past website visitors) while the other was a generic, ‘poorly targeted’ one.
The first one performed well, bringing in 1,103 clicks with a CPC of only $0.03.
The other? Only 278 clicks for a $0.142 CPC. That’s about 373% more per click according to a handy little online calculator.
All because of the audience targeting.
A few years ago, Larry Kim analyzed over $3 billion in ad spend to figure out what separated the highest converting AdWords campaigns from everyone else.
It wasn’t an A/B test. It wasn’t a simple button color change. Instead, the single biggest factor was the offer they were using.
TL;DR? Facebook ad success = the right offer + the right audience.
- Top of the sales funnel. These are users who haven’t heard of your company before. Not only would showing them a “Buy Now!” ad be inappropriate at this stage in the game, but it would even seem threatening and scare them off. It’s like that joke about meeting someone new in a bar and asking them to marry you straightaway, which, naturally, would send the other person running for cover. Instead, give them a chance to get to know you first by showing them content-based offers such as blog posts, white papers, videos, or podcasts.
- Middle of the funnel. These are the people who’ve been to your website or interacted with you on Facebook. They know who you are. They know what you talk about. But may not be sure of what you do. Or, they’re not yet convinced that you’re the right man (or woman) for the job. At this stage, they’re ready for low-ticket items such as software trials, consultations, low-dollar purchases, and webinars.
- Ready to buy. These are users who have either bought from you before or have ‘raised their hand’ by opting-in for a consultation or promotion. They’re ready to go. And are finally ready for those fancy, new “Buy Now!” graphics you’ve been itching to promote.
3. Over-Relying on Interest Targeting
We just learned about how custom audiences tend to convert the most, for the least.
It’s like retargeting on steroids, where you’re able to pinpoint exactly what someone wants, when they want it, based on their previous behavior (like adding a product to their cards on your site).
And that’s why the average CTR for retargeting ads is 10X that of regular display ads.
The problem, of course, is that you’re unable to use custom audiences at the ‘top of the funnel’ when reaching out to new people.
Here, you typically have to use interest-based targeting to find these people. So, you drop in a few other Facebook pages these people might follow. Or, you select their job title and industry.
But that still leaves a lot to be desired.
If possible, try to build a custom audience as quickly as possible. For example, you can create a new audience off video views for literally pennies per view.
That means a twenty spot could get you 1,000+ views in the next few minutes.
Of course, you’ll always be forced at some point into using interest-based targeting (whether you like it or not).
The good news, though, is that you can further refine these generic audiences with interest-intersection and exclusions.
Here’s how it works.
Select any two general interests, like Adidas and Nike, and you’ll get a massive audience that likes either one of them.
But select “All of These,” and you’ll get a tiny slice of that audience who has to like BOTH.
That’s not all though. You can also select interests to exclude. For example, let’s say you’re a realtor and want to find new potential buyers.
So, you start with a local community page and geographic area to help you isolate the neighborhood you’re after. But that’s still a big, generic audience.
You might want to exclude certain types of people, like other realtors for example, who will never buy from you. Select these interests, but then None of the Above.
Using interest intersection and exclusions like these have an additional benefit, too.
It helps you whittle down an otherwise massive audience, adding or subtracting interest and exclusions in order to settle on one that’s the perfect size.
4. Audience Is Too Big (or Too Small)
Facebook ad audience size is a catch-22.
- Too big? And you’re sure to waste most of your budget on unqualified prospects.
- Too small? And custom audiences of less than 1,000 won’t work, either.
Instead, look for the ‘sweet spots’ for campaigns at each stage of the funnel to make sure you’re getting (enough) cost-effective results.
So, for example, if you’re creating a brand-new, top-of-funnel audience using interest targeting, shoot for potential reach that’s somewhere between 500,000 and a million. Got a bigger budget? Feel free to move into the 1-2 million range.
The trick is that you’ll need a big enough audience for Facebook to help self-correct or optimize campaigns automatically. Too small and you miss out on that added bonus.
You keep layering on new interest intersections to add more, or using exclusions to reduce the amount until you’re satisfied in that range.
Still too large? Split that group down even further into different personas. Or, use genders, age ranges, and other demographics to segment one giant audience.
And you’ll see anywhere from ~20-70% of emails matched with Facebook users (B2B for the former, B2C for the latter). So, worst case, you might need a decent list (~5,000) to make it worthwhile.
5. Using the Wrong Ad Type in the Wrong Circumstances
There’s no shortage of Facebook ad types. And that’s part of the problem.
For example, here are some of the available options you can select from for your next ad campaign:
- Photo (+ multiple sizes)
- Carousel (use of multiple videos or images in a single ad)
- Slideshow (stitching together existing images to create a video ad)
- Collection (a showcase of your products in a single ad)
Then there are a few placements:
- Right-hand sidebar
And also a few objectives that affect this choice as well:
- Lead ads (for mobile) use pre-populated forms to capture user information.
- Dynamic ads that run off of a single ‘template’ and personalize the creative to products someone viewed on your site.
- Link ads (with a link pointing to your website) can be paired with various CTA buttons: Learn More, Shop Now, Sign Up, Download, and Book Now.
You get the point. But the trick is in knowing which ad type works with which placement or objective.
For example, desktop ads are awesome for conversions. But might be expensive depending on what you’re advertising to whom. You’ve got more competition here. And those costs might be overkill if you’re just trying to drive traffic back to your site.
Mobile ad conversions might be nonexistent in comparison. But they’re cheap for content promotion at the top of your funnel.
Landing page ads (that send someone from click to page) work better on desktop. While Lead Ad units convert better on mobile, according to a test by AdEspresso.
In other words, each ad type has its own pros and cons. So, they should be used accordingly.
Here’s a helpful chart of the different ad types and their uses from iCrossing to simplify this a little bit.
But obviously, there’s no easy answer here. Instead, it takes a careful mix and testing based on your own goals.
6. Yawn-Worthy Ad Creative
That’s A LOT.
Your image is the first thing people will notice. That is if it’s interesting.
Otherwise, they’ll completely miss it. That means bright colors, captivating images, and other visual elements that stand out so they take notice.
For example, I think we can all agree that this Marketo ad is kinda corny. But that’s OK. Because the color contrast is beautiful, and it’s a picture-perfect hero image.
Now, take a look at this sepia-looking one:
It’s kind of old-timey. But the look of disgust on his face is remarkable. That’s because a nonverbal, ‘microexpression’ like this communicates in as little as 1/15th of a second, according to Vanessa Van Edward, author of the excellent blog, Science of People.
Not only do these two images immediately catch your eye, but they also instantly communicate what the ad is about (or the value prop they’re shooting for).
All without using a single word. Here’s why that’s important.
7. Too. Many. Words.
Previously, Facebook had an automated ‘20% rule’ that said you weren’t allowed to have text cover 20%+ of an ad image.
They’ve done away with that automated rule in the past year or so. But generally speaking, fewer words still work better.
Here’s what Facebook says on image-to-text ratio:
In other words, less is more.
Otherwise, you risk diminishing the reach and effectiveness of your campaign.
Facebook’s Text Overlay Tool can help you test this yourself.
For example, Google’s Cloud Platform uses a few words on their ‘virtual machine’ ad below.
But they’re A-OK according to Facebook’s tool:
GaijinPot, on the other hand, is not.
Instead of following Facebook’s direction and including ad copy above or below the image, they’re sticking it front-and-center:
And the Overlay Text Tool gives them a big no-no.
This ‘fewer words’ mantra shouldn’t just apply to ads, though, but also your ad text.
For example, the ideal headline? Five words in length.
When in doubt, turns out you really should leave it out.
8. No Landing Page Tests
People either want to save time or save money. Not both.
That’s why “Save time and money” is lazy ass messaging according to Joanna Wiebe.
It’s a cop-out.
You’re trying to avoid making a hard, definitive decision in one direction. So, you hedge. You avoid the tough call with something that’s watered down and, therefore, ineffective.
We talked earlier about how your offer dictates conversions.
The second piece of the puzzle is your value prop or messaging. It’s the compelling claim that instantly resonates with a new visitors.
And compels them to click (or bounce).
People want to save themselves from threats, fix internal mistakes, or make their life less stressful. Those are compelling value propositions, not “save time and money” or other lazy ass messages.
Generally speaking, headlines are the first step. Something simple and succinct that sums up everything you need to know (and want) from a company.
And if you’re really advanced? The Breadcrumb Technique.
This counterintuitive little tip actually asks people for more information, not less — more commitment, not less.
For example, KlientBoost worked with one company that initially had this simplified, single button CTA:
Instead, the team made things more complicated on purpose.
KlientBoost added a few additional qualifying questions to the form, like so:
And the conversion rate jumped up 74%, while the cost per acquisition dropped 51%.
This is why you need to test.
Best practices? Don’t always work. And sometimes going against the grain actually delivers a better bang for your buck.
9. Falling Victim to Ad Fatigue
The best Facebook ads work for a few weeks until they start declining in performance.
Know this. Expect this. And start subtly tweaking your ‘winning’ ads to refresh results.
Your click-through rate suddenly starts dropping like a rock, frequency increases, and results start trending in the wrong direction.
Start by rotating your ads.
Sequential retargeting lets you showcase different offers every few days. For example, you can start with a discount before progressing into customer service messages and other product benefits.
But you don’t even have to go that far, to be honest.
You can simply start by tweak your ads that already works. That might mean the same basic offer and layout, but different colors, varying backgrounds, or just simplifying what you’re doing.
The point is to be nimble. Stay on your toes. Because that killer ad campaigns you’ve got right now is not gonna last forever.
10. Not Taking Advantage of Optimization Rules
Facebook ads are complex. There’s a ton of variables, a lot of moving pieces.
You can make your life slightly easier by using Facebook’s optimization rules to cut down on the time consuming, day-to-day management.
For example, you can pre-set limits so that your campaigns will automatically adjust bids down to make sure you’re within acceptable cost limits. Or, pause them when things look grim.
But they can also help you capitalize on the upside, too. For example, if it’s finding that average CPC’s are low (or better yet, cost per leads are cheap, too), you can automatically have bids increase to take advantage as quickly as possible.
These time-saving rules can even help you avoid mistakes we’ve already discussed here, like ad fatigue.
For example, as soon as frequency starts creeping up to a certain point, you can turn the ads off to make sure your audience doesn’t become too fatigued, too quickly.
Facebook’s optimization rules take a little experimentation to get up-and-running. But once you get a few in place, your daily time spent monitoring and maintaining will be slashed dramatically.
So, you can get back to worrying about what really matters or affects conversions.
Facebook doesn’t exactly convert like AdWords. So, it doesn’t work like AdWords, either.
That means you may have to do a lot of extra steps above-and-beyond what you’re used to.
For example, you’ll need to recreate an entire sales funnel. You’ll need to balance how you’re targeting new audiences vs. following up with existing ones. The offer for each of those needs to be aligned correctly, too.
We haven’t even gotten to the ads themselves, and yet you’re already overwhelmed. So, keep things simple by using bold, wordless images that immediately convey their meaning. Paired with short, punchy text to drive your point home.
If everything’s done correctly, you can even test landing pages by going against ‘best practices’ and set up automated rules to take over some time-consuming tasks.
None of this is easy. That’s why these mistakes are all so common.
But work on eliminating them one-by-one and your odds of success increase dramatically.
If you found this article helpful, check out another related article on 60 additional Facebook ad mistakes that make you look like a rookie. Continue avoiding the mistakes that will cost you time and money.