Why Your Facebook Ads Aren't Working: It's Not Them, It's You - Circle Social Inc

Why Your Facebook Ads Aren’t Working: It’s Not Them, It’s You

Let me guess, Facebook Ads haven’t worked for you? I hear this all the time. However, the vast majority of the time, this isn’t a Facebook problem. It’s the way the organization is using Facebook Ads that is the problem.

There are a number of all-too-common mistakes that prevent businesses from being successful on Facebook Ads and I’ll outline the 7 most common here in this post.

First though, let’s look at why Facebook Ads are the best answer. Obviously, it can be hard to compare marketing channels, but a common strategy is to compare Cost Per 1,000 Impressions (CPM) as one way to indicate value.

When we look at social media advertising in generally, it is ridiculously cheap compared to other channels. According to a comparison done by Lyfe Marketing Group, the average CPM on social media is around $2.50. Newspaper is $16 and Direct Mail is the highest at $57!

Not only is social media much cheaper than previous traditional methods, it’s far more targeted, which significantly decreases your cost per conversion.

With a newspaper or direct mail campaign, you can’t choose to target only women, living in zip code 45241, with incomes of 100K+, divorced, who like dogs, and have purchased a car in the last year. The level of targeting can only be found through online channels like Facebook.

So if you’re looking to save on cost, reach more people, and reach the right people, digital marketing is the obvious choice. Of course you’re then asking, why can’t I get it to work? Here are the main reasons.

Mistake #1 – Cold Conversions

This is the biggest mistake made by businesses both big and small. In fact, it actually has nothing to do with Facebook. This is a mistake organizations make in all marketing efforts. They assume that marketing to people once will somehow get them to convert. It will almost never happen.

The average touch points needed to get someone to take an action based off of marketing is 7-12 times. That’s right, if you decide to pay the $57 CPM for a direct mail campaign, expect to pay that times 10, because you’re going to have to send them materials over and over to get any kind of significant and consistent results.

At the very least, your campaigns have to span a minimum of one month and build from Awareness, to Engagement, to Action.

Mistake #2 – Being a One-trick Pony

Marketing is hard work. A lot of business leaders have this unfounded assumption that they should just be able to turn marketing on and start to see the leads and sales come pouring in. Yet, do you know a single business where this is the case?

There is no magic formula to create leads and sales. If there was, every business would be rich and successful all the time.

Even if you do find a channel, strategy, or message that works really well, it won’t last. The fact is that we all get bored easily. Not only do we tune out ads that are always the same, we get annoyed with them and start to actually have negative feelings about a brand.

Marketing is about constantly tweaking and running new campaigns to maintain interest. In addition, audiences need to change.

Maybe you run a local business and found that women aged 20-24 with an interest in Hello Kitty love your shoes. Great! You run some related campaigns and your shoes sell like hotcakes.

But what happens once they’ve all bought a pair? You’ve tapped out that market, so now you need to find a new market with new messaging.

Audiences easily become oversaturated or tapped out. So there is simply no such thing as some magic goose that constantly lays golden leads.

To prevent either of those two things from happening, your marketing efforts need to be constantly changing and adapting. You can never run the same campaigns to the same audiences for too long.

Mistake #3 – Thinking Leads=Sales

Yes, yes, there has been a ton of talk about “smarketing”, the combination of sales and marketing. Of course these two departments need to be working together towards common goals, but no matter how you square it, a lead is not a sale.

You might have set up a Facebook campaign that is driving tons of traffic to your website. That doesn’t mean they’re going to buy anything. Especially if your website is not designed for lead capture or sales conversions.

Frankly, if your website isn’t converting, the majority of your online spend is being wasted, whichever methods you’re using.

Remember mistake #1, nobody is going to buy the first time they visit your site anyway. However, the great part is, with the Facebook Pixel installed on your site, we can track and remarket to all website visitors, making it much more likely for them to convert down the line.

Still, websites are not great sales conversion tools unless you’re an e-commerce business. Most websites are best as lead capture tools, which means it is designed in such a way that visitors provide you with their contact information in exchange for something like a white paper or free webinar access.

Then you can get them into an email funnel or your sales team’s follow-up calls, which is where you’ll actually get closed sales that contribute to the bottom line.

Mistake #4 – Targeting Everybody

So many businesses assume that everyone is their potential customer. This is rarely the case. When we take over Facebook ad accounts, we often see previous campaigns just using gender and age to target. Or maybe they run a Local Awareness Ad with no other targeting.

When you target everyone, you’re basically targeting no one. Your message, graphics, videos, whatever, have to speak to a specific customer with a specific pain or desire. When messaging is specific, it really hits home and speaks to people.

Mistake #5 – Not Telling Your Story

We often talk about feature creep in the product marketing world. This is the temptation of companies to highlight all the reasons their product is great. People rarely care. Much more important to them is something greater they’re trying to achieve.

The person buying that new 4K TV is more interested in being one of the first people to buy the new technology than in the actual picture quality. A mom buying a detergent wants to see herself as taking care of her family either by getting the best or by being frugal and saving money. Great marketing speaks to stories, not features.

Facebook makes it super easy to tell stories. You can mix up content, use video or the awesome Canvas Ads. Or you can use a Carousel Ad to visually progress through the story you want to tell.

Mistake #6 – Unrealistic Expectations

I kid you not. I had a meeting with the CEO of a medium-sized business who told me he had recently spoken to a “Facebook Ads Expert” who had told him that he would break even on ad spend at the end of month one and then start turning a profit in month two.

Seriously? If anyone existed who could simply take any business, get it to break even in the first month, and then make a profit month two, that person would be out there building billion dollar businesses left and right, not sitting there talking to a lowly medium-sized business.

Yet, we get this all the time here at Circle Social. People thinking a $2,000 ad spend will turn into $20,000 after one month. If it was so easy, why isn’t everyone doing it and getting filthy rich? As we explained in our post 90% of Your Marketing Will Fail (and That’s OK), it takes a lot of work to determine what will drive growth and revenue.

In case you had any doubts, it doesn’t work that way. There is, of course, the rare case where you hit the low-hanging fruit in the first campaign. But once you exhaust or saturate that audience, then you need to remarket and retarget to the ones that aren’t so easily swayed.

Return on Ad Spend (RoAS) drops and then it’s the marketing team’s job to put their skills back to work and figure out how to build a funnel that sways the average customer rather than the early adopters.

Mistake #7 – Thinking It’s Cheap

As we mentioned in the beginning, digital marketing, including Facebook Ads, is almost always going to be the most cost-effective spend in your marketing budget. But that doesn’t mean it’s cheap.

Let’s give an example. At top of funnel, I’m marketing to a cold audience. If this is a click campaign, a good cost-per-click (CPC) will be $2 per click. According to a fairly standard business model for many verticals, I’ll get 1% of people who click to eventually buy. So I’m paying a minimum $200 for 100 clicks and just 1 customer. Now, in order to actually obtain that customer, I still need to retarget that audience in my separate engagement and conversion campaigns, where I’ll be paying for more clicks. The final form fill will cost me anywhere from $5-$50 per conversion depending on my vertical.

Let’s say, all told, that leaves us with a single customer acquisition cost of at least $400 in ad spend, usually more. If you’re selling widgets at $10 a pop, this is a horrible investment. If you’re selling enrollment to your course or school at $10,000 a year with a lifetime customer value of $40,000, this is an amazing investment.

You have to understand your business model to know what acquisition cost range is acceptable for you and if Facebook ads will be a good fit. If you ask us, they’re the best option out there for most business models, but they’re certainly going to come with a cost.


All in all, marketing is incredibly difficult work, regardless of platform or channel. It’s this fascinating mix of analytics, psychology, and creativity combined to deliver on business goals. It’s a challenge we love, but there are no magic formulas or 7-step systems for success.

It’s a continually changing process that needs to adapt to the market, platform, audience, and resources at your team’s disposal. This is why finding a good marketing team can be the difference between growing a successful business or constantly floundering around searching for your next lead.

I hope this little overview helped you understand what not to do or expect, so that you can build your own Facebook ad funnels that lead to serious success. If you’re thinking that this sounds incredibly complex (it is), and don’t have a couple years to learn it yourself, then give us a call.

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About the Author

Nick Jaworski is the Chief Growth Officer of Circle Social Inc. Seeing a real need for innovative, ethical recovery center marketing and growth, he launched Circle Social to help the best addiction treatment centers connect with people who needed their help the most. He is also the proud father of the most beautiful girl in the world. You can most often find him sharing thoughts on digital marketing and cracking jokes on Twitter or Snapchat as @NBJaworski.