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Facebook First-Aid: 4 Reasons Your Ads Are Failing (and How to Fix Them)

If you’re looking for Facebook ad tips because you’re disillusioned with your results, welcome to the club. 62% of small business owners are fed up with ad failure according to Small Biz Trends.

But that’s not a good reason to throw in the towel.


Because guess where the majority of your customers, future customers, and fans still hang out every day?

That’s right, they’re all on Facebook.

  • Teenagers are there.

  • Millennials are there.

  • Gen X’ers are there.

  • Baby boomers are there.

  • Even little old ladies are there.

As a matter of fact, The Verge reported that ¼ of the world’s population is on Facebook.

So, it doesn’t make sense to stop running Facebook ads at the first sign of trouble. Because more likely than not, the problem isn’t Facebook. The problem is the way you’re creating ads. And that’s totally fixable.

How do I know?

I had a chat with these two to get some actionable Facebook ad tips:

  • Brian Meert, author of The Complete Guide to Facebook Advertising and founder of AdvertiseMint— a Facebook advertising company that helps clients like Coca-Cola and NewEgg rock their ad campaigns.

  • Sarah Sal, a Facebook ads specialist who has helped companies like BetterBack and Strategyzer rise above some serious Facebook ad fails.

They were cool enough to talk with me about the four common mistakes they see — ones you might be making — and give advice on how to fix them.

1. You Don’t Understand How People Use Facebook

All social media platforms have similarities. But they also have subtle differences. And it’s those differences that dictate how people use them. Here’s a great example of how the same subject takes a different angle on each social media channel:

Notice that people are just chilling on Facebook chatting about things they like (and giving them a virtual thumbs-up). They’re sharing comments and emojis and way too much about what they ate for breakfast. And they do all this because it’s blissfully self-gratifying.

Here’s why that’s so important: “A lot of companies start their ads with ‘Here’s who I am. Here’s why I’m great,'” says Meert. “But they don’t focus on the person on the other side of the ad. They don’t think about what the Facebook user wants.”

“No one gets on Facebook to search for products. People get on Facebook to connect with friends and family, read news, and see funny videos. When you show ads in the middle of that, people often think, ‘I don’t care about this.'”

Especially if your ad acts like a rude stranger. You know, like the jerk who hijacks a conversation between friends just to talk about himself.

Blech! Right?

But your ad doesn’t have to be an abrasive outsider. Think about it. We’ve all been standing somewhere in a long line and had a person we didn’t know join our convo. And they weren’t rude at all. They were entertaining and fun to interact with.That should be the goal of your Facebook ads.

Sarah Sal puts it like this: “If you interrupt people in a coffee shop, what type of conversation would make them put their coffee down and listen to you? That’s what you want to put into a Facebook ad.”

A Good vs Bad Ad Example:

Sarah used this tactic to transform a costly ad flop from Strategyzer into a low-cost conversion machine. Can you tell from this side-by-side comparison which ad outperformed the other?

The successful ad is on the left. Yes, the long one.

Here’s why:

  • No exclamation points

  • Zero mentions of the presenter — or his offer — until the fourth paragraph

  • A focus on the Facebook user — and not just any Facebook user, but one that’s been thoughtfully targeted

Which brings us to our next Facebook ad tip from our experts:

2. You Don’t Narrow Your Target Audience

Generally, when someone says, ‘Facebook ads didn’t work for me,’ they’ve created a single ad and targeted it toward everyone. — Brian Meert

That’s like a small-town diner advertising on billboards in every state in America. The audience is too broad. The cost is too high. And the results are poor.

So Meert recommends targeting people at the bottom of your sales funnel first. Those are the people who already know you or have bought from you before. Because stats show that previously satisfied customers will buy from you again and again.

“This small audience is more likely to be interested in your products, and it could cost you only 20 bucks a day to run successful ads to them,” Meert says.

“The power of Facebook lies in re-marketing. You can show your ads to past and current customers, people who have visited your website, and people on your email list.”

Sal also uses this strategy, and she’s had great success by retargeting email lists. For example, if she has a high-performing email with a 20% open rate, she repurposes that email content as a Facebook ad. Then she targets it to the 80% of her list that didn’t open the email.

“Facebook is great at amplifying high-converting content and getting extra out of it,” says Sal.

But you can’t set one great ad and think it will perform well forever.

3. You Don’t Consistently Update Your Ads

You can’t set ads and say, ‘I’m done.’ Then walk away. — Brian Meert

Historically, that’s how advertising worked. You’d create a good TV commercial, newspaper ad, or radio spot and keep it going and going. But Facebook is very different.

Facebook cares about content that’s fresh, and they reward you with lower prices when people comment, like, share, and engage. But you’ll be charged more if people lose interest.

“If people see your ad four times, it’s old. And they scroll quickly past it,” says Meert. “Then Facebook penalizes you and charges you more. The solution is to always update your creatives.”

Here are Meert’s Facebook ad tips for keeping your content fresh:

  • Small businesses should update at least once a month

  • Larger companies should have something new every 1-2 weeks

  • Watch your reports closely to figure out what the best timeframe for content updates

4. You Don’t Watch Your Reports

If you aren’t watching your reports, you’re spending money unnecessarily. If something isn’t working, hit the pause button. Reanalyze and try another campaign. — Brian Meert

Sal ads a bonus Facebook ad tip to that point:

“Too many people make ads too similar to the ones that need changing. The pink picture doesn’t work, so they try a yellow one. Or they want to use the word ‘speed’ instead of ‘hurry.’ But you need to give someone a dramatically different reason to convert.”

Because if you know you’re targeting the right audience, the problem lies in not knowing what that audience wants from you.

Here are a few Facebook ad tips that’ll help you find out what users want from you:

  • Ask them in a survey

  • Use language that your buyers use instead of the language of marketers

  • Make sure your messaging is cohesive from the ad, to the landing page, all the way to your checkout.

  • And pay double attention to your reports when they show an ad is working!

“When an ad is phenomenal and you’re getting leads for 1/5 the price of other platforms, DON’T let it ride!” Meert advises. “Put on the gas. Pause everything else, and put your money behind the ad while Facebook is helping you push. It can snowball in your favor!”

Like It or Not… Facebook Is Still King of Paid Media

People underestimate how big and powerful Facebook ads are. There’s no better way to reach a targeted audience instantly. — Brian Meert

So, don’t give up if your first efforts aren’t as grand as you think they should be. Just figure out what mistakes you’re making and start fixing them.

If the Facebook ad tips in this post weren’t enough help, there are great books and courses out there to help you master your Facebook ad campaigns. And if all this sounds daunting, there’s no harm in bringing in extra help. You can’t DIY every part of your business.

If you decide you’re in over your head with Facebook ads, here’s Meert’s advice on vetting your outside help:

  • Find an individual or agency with a good track record — do your research!

  • Make sure they’re Facebook Blueprint Certified before going any further.

Hopefully these Facebook ad tips provide you with the first-aid you need to get better results than you ever have before!

Which of these Facebook ad tips will you try first? Leave a comment below.

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