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Why Facebook Ads Are Wasting Your Money

Why Facebook Ads Are Wasting Your Money Blog Feature

Ali Parmelee

Facebook Ads Lead, Paid Media Specialist, Speaker, 15+ years of PPC and Facebook Ads expertise

October 19th, 2017 min read

Facebook is one of the most effective advertising platforms. Between its billions of active users and cutting edge advertising platform, there’s no business in any industry that can’t see a significant return from investing in Facebook ads.

Of course, building a positive return from Facebook advertising depends on making sure that you’re doing it right.

Poor planning and implementation of a Facebook advertising campaign is a surefire way to turn what could be a goldmine into a money pit. Too many marketers end up wasting money on Facebook ads by falling prey to a handful of common mistakes.

Since one of our goals here at IMPACT is to help businesses and marketers make the most of their Facebook campaigns, we’ve laid out some of the most frequent Facebook advertising mistakes we routinely see—and ways to avoid them.

Your Facebook Pixel Is Installed Wrong

The Facebook pixel is a small snippet of code that’s placed in the source code on your website. When the pixel is in place, Facebook’s advertising platform can gather valuable insights about your audience and how they interact with your ads and your site. It's like" cookies"—but better. The rich data it gives you allows you to retarget your audiences in a wide variety of ways so you build better ads and target more effectively.

website retargeting fb ads

But without proper implementation of Facebook’s pixel code, this valuable information won’t be collected or—even worse—won’t be accurate.

For instance, a conversion tracking pixel should only be placed on a confirmation page to be triggered when a specified transaction has taken place—“Thank You for Downloading Our Guide,” or “Your Order Is Now Processing” pages for example.

Due to a misunderstanding of how the pixel works, a clunky Content Management System or plain old mistakes installing, a conversion tracking code might be improperly implemented on every page of the site. This would result in an erroneously reported and uninsightful 100% conversion rate.

Properly implementing your Facebook pixel code can be tricky if you don’t have the proper technical expertise. The process is well documented by Facebook itself in an online guide for advertisers. If much of it goes over your head, the best option is probably to have a member of your marketing or development team place and verify the code (or of course, call us!).

You’re Not Using Audiences Right

People share much of their lives on Facebook, which gives its advertising platform a great deal of potential when it comes to specifically targeting relevant audience niches. Facebook ads can be targeted based on age, location, gender, income, interests, job title, education, political beliefs and more. Failing to take advantage of this targeting potential, or using it improperly, represents a wasted opportunity—and a wasted ad budget.

Common Facebook Audience Targeting Mistakes

  • Audiences Are Too Broad or Too Specific: Facebook audiences are highly customizable and can be either very broad—like anyone over 18 in a particular state—or highly specific, such as women between 21 and 34 who live in a certain metro area and were recently engaged. Depending on your product, your goals and the particular ad set you’re running, skewing too far in one direction or the other could be a big mistake.
  • Not Targeting the Right Demographics: Sometimes a demographic group that seems like a good idea to target is less effective than you might have thought. A discount car insurance carrier might think that young college students would be a great audience to target—when in reality many lack cars or are still on their parents’ insurance policies. Or, coaches may be targeting small business owners and think that appealing to people who 'like' Tony Robbins or Oprah Winfrey is good—but, in reality, this is way too broad without a major emphasis on narrowing their audience.
  • Not Retargeting from Website Visits: The Facebook pixel we just talked about can be used to track visitors to your website and serve them a custom ad campaign that encourages them to come back and re-engage. Previous website visitors are a particularly valuable audience, since they’ve already demonstrated interest in your product or service in the past. Don’t let them slip through the cracks!

Proper audience targeting should be based on your buyer personas, market research and extensive testing. Run parallel ad sets targeting different audiences and record which receives the better response. This simple method alone can provide more actionable insights than a pile of research reports.

“To gain actionable insights, run parallel #FacebookAd sets targeting different audiencesTWEET THIS 

You Don’t Have a Comprehensive Facebook Ads Strategy

Too many marketers take a laissez-faire attitude to their social media and Facebook campaigns. They might have a schedule planned out or a broad goal like “increase sales” in mind, but when it comes down to it they’re really just making it up as they go.

This is a major mistake. Without a comprehensive strategy your Facebook advertising campaign is a blind, uphill battle.

Creating a comprehensive Facebook ads strategy should be based on a couple of basic points:

  • Establishing Goals: Are you trying to increase page likes or conversions? Are you raising awareness of an event or a new product line? The answers to these questions and others like them will help determine what kinds of ads are best suited to helping you succeed, which personas and demographics should be targeted and other crucial strategy details.
  • Contextualizing Your Ad Campaign: It’s likely that Facebook isn’t your only advertising channel. So where does Facebook fit into your overall marketing efforts? Is it at the top of the funnel or the bottom? How does it complement or assist your other marketing efforts?

Using Wrong Placements

In Facebook advertising, placements refer to where your ads appear—the desktop or mobile News Feed, right column sidebar, Instagram feeds, Instant articles or Facebook’s proprietary Audience Network of third-parts apps and publishers.

Depending on your goals, different ad placements may be more or less effective. The Audience Network, for instance, is one of the placements we typically stay away from because we work with so many health, beauty and wellness clients. While the Audience Network may serve up low cost clicks, it's typically going to give you lots of false clicks and a heavy skew towards young males.

Test your ads with different placements to determine where they get the best click-through rates and conversions. Along with audience targeting, this can be one of the most powerful ways to refine and improve your ads moving forward.


BONUS TIP: Make sure you toggle down to deselect platforms when you are selecting placements during your Ad Set creation.

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 11.50.38 PM


You Don’t Have a Facebook Funnel

Like any other marketing funnel, a Facebook sales funnel is a series of ads designed to move users and prospects from interest to conversion. 

Facebook ads shouldn’t be “one and done.” Using Facebook’s robust demographic and engagement targeting, you should be creating a series of complementary ads that appeal to users based on how they’ve already interacted with your website and your ads, moving from the the top of the funnel, through the middle and down to the bottom as they convert to paying customers. We actually create flow charts that sketch out the funnels every step of the way.

Again, this is where having your Facebook pixel installed properly is critical so you can retarget.

How Does It All Add Up?

The threads that run through each of these common mistakes are a lack of planning and a lack of understanding—of the tools and resources Facebook’s advertising platform provides and of how best to utilize them.

Facebook ads are not simply about boosting posts any more. They are now one of the most powerful and most effective elements of your digital marketing plan for generating leads, building awareness and credibility and customer acquisition. The real goal is to get a consistent traffic of buyers headed to your site.

Treating Facebook advertising like a long-term investment, rather than a short-term sprint to boost vanity metrics like page views or followers, is the best single way to ensure a positive return on investment.

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