Facebook Advertising mistakes

7 Common Facebook Ads Mistakes that You’ve Ever Made

October 17, 2017 10:54 am / by

While Facebook is undoubtedly a powerful resource for targeting demographics, advertising on the platform isn’t very welcoming to newcomers. The plethora of ads Facebook options can make it difficult for first timers to make their paid advertisement as effective as possible. The following are 7 common mistakes that you may make when advertising on Facebook:

1. Advertising without Researching Audience Upfront

Facebook is home to a diverse audience and, depending on what you’re selling, your audience could be bigger, smaller, or even completely different from the one you set out to target. You’ll have to test out some audiences in the beginning before you start testing specific stuff like ad copy or format. But that doesn’t mean you can’t give yourself a head-start with some educated guesses.
A good way to look at targeting is to ask yourself if you’d be willing to bet money on the odds that those people would be interested in buying your product (because that’s technically what you’re doing). If you’ve chosen a niche product (e.g. t-shirts for people who own pugs), you’ll have a much easier time than someone whose products don’t have a specific audience.
One of the best ways to find interests you can target is to put yourself in the shoes of whoever you think your customer is:

  • What would they Google?
  • Which pages would they “like” on Facebook?
  • What influencers or celebrities would they follow?
  • Which apps would they use?
  • What publications/blogs do they read?
  • What competitors are they already buying from?
  • Where would they hang out on Reddit?

You can also use Facebook’s Audience Insights tool to help brainstorm additional targeting ideas based on the interests and qualities you have a good feeling about. Using it to get some insight into how that audience behaves, how they spend, and more if you’re curious.

2. Targeting too broad of an audience


Targeting too broad of an audience


A common mistake with paid advertising, regardless of platform, is going too broad with the audiences we choose to target. You might think everyone is a potential customer, but what you’re paying for is the people your ads reach. Why pay to reach the wrong people?
A potential audience that’s between 500K to 1.5 million is often a good size to start with for many e-commerce businesses. If your audience is too big, try narrowing it with interests that your main audience “must also match for”. If it’s too small, try adding interests to create a larger pool of users until you find your sweet spot.

3. Impatience

With any kind of paid advertising, it can feel like you’re losing money if you’re not getting any results right away. Sometimes you may feel compelled to take control of your ads and tweak things to “optimize” them. So they can perform better as soon as possible.
But in the beginning, especially, gathering data and insight is key. That’s why it’s important to have a clear idea of how much you’re actually willing to spend to get one customer. Try not to make any decisions about your ads, like pausing or tweaking them, until you’ve reached 1000 people. At that point, you’ve got enough data to at least learn something from your ads’ performance, even if they don’t get any sales.
The other way that impatience ends up harming your performance is when you don’t give Facebook the opportunity to learn over time. If you haven’t installed your Facebook Pixel (which is super easy to do on your Shopify store), you should definitely do so. Facebook’s advertising platform uses the Pixel to track and learn based on performance data to improve its targeting.

4. Not Isolating What You’re Testing

In marketing, insight is often undervalued in the pursuit of results. And while it’s strongly encouraged that you experiment and test things with your ads, you can only really learn as you go if you test one variable at a time.
Testing different audiences, each presented with different ads, at different times won’t tell you much even if you stumble across something that gets you better results. Was it the audience? Was it the ad? Was it the timing? Was it a combination of a few things?
As much as you can, try to isolate one variable to test so you can go forward after the experiment with the knowledge you can act upon. In the beginning, especially, you should be testing at the Advert Set level with the audiences you’re targeting.
Keep in mind what you can change and test at each level of your Ad Manager account:

  • Campaign: Your objective that Facebook will optimize based on (add to cart, purchases, etc)
  • Advert Set: The audience you’re targeting, placement, and schedule.
  • Ad: Links, format, creative, etc.

5. Not Squeezing the Value Out of Your Ad Spend

Even if your primary goal is to get sales, that’s not the only possible return you can get on your ads. In fact, there’s a lot of additional value you can get from an ad that “failed” to get you any customers.
You can:

  • Collect emails from visitors to your site.
  • Get more likes and comments on your post to build social proof for your ad over time.
  • Engage directly with people who comment on your ads to help them purchase.
  • Retarget visitors to your site as “warm traffic” in the future.
  • Set up an email sequence to recover any abandoned carts you might’ve gotten.
  • Invite people who have liked or reacted to your page post to also like your Facebook Page (simply click on the reactions of the post itself).


invite friends


There’s also the priceless insight you can collect from your paid traffic.
I strongly recommend that you set up Google Analytics and Hot Jar (both are free) and take a look at how your traffic is actually behaving on your website. This will help you identify whether your problem is your audience, your website layout, or some other issue.

6. Ad content is not good enough

  • Too much text:

If you tend to opt for text-heavy ads, you’ve probably faced rejection from Facebook’s ad rule. It’s important to keep the text in your ad copy to a minimum to make sure that it gets maximum distribution. Facebook’s advertising policies states, “Our policies previously prohibited ads with text that covered more than 20% of an ad’s image. We’ve recently implemented a new solution that allows ads with greater than 20% text to run, but with less or no delivery.”

  • Images not optimized for Facebook:

To guarantee that your ad is eligible to show in all of the different formats, it’s important to use Facebook’s recommended ad image size for your objective. If you’re inputting images that aren’t the right size, the resulting ad won’t display as intended. Facebook offers an ad guide to ensure that your images are appearing how you want them to. Make use of this feature so there are no surprises when your ad is displayed.

7. Not Optimizing Your Ad Creative for Attention and Clicks


Not Optimizing Your Ad Creative


Once you’ve figured out your audience, a good creative for your ads can help you improve your results. A lot of different things go into a good ad, but here are some best practices to help:

  • Have a focal point in either the image, copy or video thumbnail that grabs the eye.
  • Consider using emojis to add personality and visual elements in your copy.
  • Collect social proof (likes, comments, shares) each time you run an ad, which makes your ad that much more powerful.
  • Create multiple clickthrough opportunities with links and product tags (you’ll need a Facebook Shop, which you can easily add through Shopify).
  • Experiment with different ad formats within the same Advert Set, especially video as Facebook has been known to favor this format.

When investing in ads, there are many things to consider. It’s always a good idea to do your research beforehand to optimize the distribution platforms in order to gain the maximum value for your ad dollars.

So what have you learned from your own ads? Share them in the comments below!

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