I wish that this post could have been based on my observation of our customers’ mistakes. It is not. It’s based on errors I myself have made over the 5 years since Advertising was launched on Facebook in 2010.
By repeatedly committing these 6 deadly sins, I’ve probably lost more than $250,000.
Now that I’m well aware of them, I carefully steer clear of these mistakes but many other advertisers are still making them every single day. The result is millions of dollars burned each month on underperforming Facebook Ad campaigns.
Here they are in all their gory glory… Can you avoid them from now on?
1) Not Doubling Down on What Is Working
Carpe Diem! (Seize the Day!)
In the digital age, everything changes at the speed of light. What works well today might be a complete waste of time in just a month — or less.
When something is generating a great ROI, don’t wait to increase your spending on it because down the line it might not work any more — or not as well. Double down immediately and get the most out of it as soon as possible.
In the early days of Facebook Advertising, I committed this error as CEO of Media Zen, a blog network where we had lots of organic traffic from our Facebook Pages. Back then almost no one was advertising on Facebook, so advertising to get more Likes was very cheap and we used it to reach 100,000 fans at the ridiculously low price of 1¢ per Like.
The problem was we didn’t spend as much as we should have. I presumed that nothing would change and we’d just keep growing at that cost forever. But, of course, I was wrong! Everything changes, especially rates. Pretty soon everyone started advertising on Facebook, our costs went up, and we aborted our campaigns because they were no longer cost effective.
Later when we sold the company, our Facebook Pages were one of the company’s most valuable assets. Had I spent everything I could on them at the right time, I could have increased the Facebook Page and the blog traffic by at least 3x and doubled our profit when selling the company.
2) Ignoring New Features and Ad Types
This error is closely aligned with the previous one. Every now and then, Facebook releases new features or Ad types and it often takes months before most advertisers take a good look at them.
For example, take Multi product ads. They’re pretty cool and, while their main target are eCommerce owners, they can be adapted to many different businesses. They also have a new visual layout that allows featuring multiple products in the same ad with a nice image slider. Have you seen them in your newsfeed? Probably not! I’ve only seen one in the last 3 months.Due to banner blindness, traditional ad formats tend to lose effectiveness over time. Every time a new format is released, I can assure you, it’s going to over-perform in the first few months before users are familiar with it.
Let me give you another example. In 2012, Facebook launched “Sponsored Results Ads.” These are basically ads inserted inside Facebook’s search results. After a few weeks, early case studies showed 10-fold increases in performance compared to standard ads. Less than a year later, however, Facebook got rid of that ad format altogether, likely due to poor performance over the long run. Yet, when it was first launched, performance was stellar!
So stay up-to-date on all of Facebook’s latest releases and try them out as soon as you can. They might not last forever, but you’ll get crazy results by being an early adopter!
3) Not Testing Every Aspect of a Campaign
This is a newbie error that I made at the beginning of our Facebook Ad adventure but luckily we discovered what I was doing wrong quickly.
When working with Facebook Advertising, never assume anything and always test every aspect of your campaigns: Images, Titles, Landing pages, post text, demographic targeting… Test every last thing to see what’s working and what’s not. The differences can be huge.
Check out this split test we ran recently:
Look at the cost per conversion! The picture on the right cost us >100% more than the one on the left! But we’d never have guessed that without split testing them.
I first realized how important testing is in the early days of Media Zen while promoting Facebook Pages related to Books. While the costs were very low, I saw that 83% of our fans were women. So I created an ad targeted just to men and another one just for women. It turned out, however, that women like reading far more than men do and the Cost per Like was 70% lower. We were just pouring money down the drain by advertising to men, who were not reading them.Fun fact: This is actually how I got the idea to create AdEspresso. Testing many elements was (and still is) a pain in the ass for the Facebook Ad Manager and I wanted a solution to easily split test hundreds of different ads in minutes.
By now you probably know about split tests but don’t ever lower your guard. It’s easy to fall back into old habits and start assuming you know something.
4) Putting All Your Eggs in One Basket
While it’s true that you should quickly double down on the campaigns that are driving a great ROI for your business, at the same time you should also prepare for when those campaigns will start underperforming.
Personally, I like a budget allocation like this:
- 80% on performances: Investing in campaigns that are delivering a great ROI
- 20% on discovery: Testing new designs, new advertising tactics, and new audience targets, to discover new potentially profitable opportunities
I’ve already talked about banner blindness and how it degrades performance over time. On top of that, Facebook Ad campaigns tend to perform poorly when you saturate your audience. So at some point, you’re going to have review your advertising strategy.
To keep ahead of your competitors, you must constantly test new ideas to find that next big opportunity!
5) Leaving Campaigns Alone
Coming from the world of Google AdWords, when I began using Facebook Ads I assumed that once my campaign was up and running and delivering solid results, I could forget about it.
And I did just that — literally! The business was growing strong and I forgot about our ad campaigns on Facebook assuming they were performing well also.
Turns out, things were not as good as I thought. Check out this graph:
Our cost per conversion had increased 10 times in just a few months! While, through Split Testing, I had found a great design and an audience that loved our product… it was a very small audience! Throwing a lot of money at this small audience, we soon saturated it after only 2 months, wasting a load of money in the process.
With Facebook Advertising you need to constantly monitor your campaign’s performance (or create automatic rules to do it for you).
One of the most critical metrics you need to monitor to avoid a performance decrease is the Frequency. This value shows how many times, on average, a unique user has seen your ads. As the frequency increases, your performance will decrease.
Think about it. Once you’ve seen an ad 10 times, either you’re interested and you’ve clicked on it already or you’re not and you’ll never click on it.
This is one of the biggest differences between Facebook Advertising and Google AdWords. On Google, you target users WHEN they are searching for your product. Thus, your ads will always be relevant. On Facebook, however, you’re targeting users based on their interests and demographics and they’ll get tired of seeing your ads over and over every day.
By the way, I’m writing a great data-driven post on Facebook Ad Frequency, analyzing more than 1,000 campaigns to study how it impacts results. Subscribe to receive notification of when it’s published, so you don’t miss it!
6) Not Optimizing For The Long Term
We’ve come to my final mistake which, again, cost me big money: I only cared about sales and revenue.
That’s not a bad thing per se, in fact, quite the opposite. I wish more advertisers focused on real revenue rather than vanity metrics like clicks and likes.
But you have to accept reality. While not everyone who clicks on your ads is ready to buy, that does not mean you shouldn’t care about them. They clicked on your Ad so they must have some interest in your product. And you’ve already spent advertising dollars to reach them, so why waste that money?
If you can’t hook them as paying customers, at least try to engage them and get their email address. In my early years, I literally wasted thousands of Facebook Ad clicks by letting people go whenever they did not close a sale right away.
Don’t make the mistake that I did! Follow these two strategies for getting the most out of every advertising click:
- Exit Intent PopUps: There are many ways (SumoMe, OptIn Monster) to display a Lead Generation box to your users when they’re going to close the browser tab or simply have left it open too long. There you can prompt them to subscribe to your Newsletter, or maybe download a free eBook, or even offer them a discount if they buy right now. With this method, we increased our mailing list 3 times and managed to convert 48% of them into AdEspresso users with follow-up emails.
- Retargeting: If you can’t get an email address, hit them again with Advertising using Custom Audiences via your website. Someone who has already shown interest in your product by visiting key pages of your website is much more likely to buy than a brand new user that doesn’t know your company or product at all.
Look what happens when you try to leave the KissMetrics blog:
I hope that sharing my grave errors with you will help you avoid them from now on and become more successful using Facebook Ads than I was at first. While I’m sure there are a few other deadly sins lurking, I’ll be sure to share them with you as soon as I discover them!
What about you? What was the worst mistake you made when advertising on Facebook? Let me know in the comments below!