Avoid These 9 Biggest Mistakes To Not Screw Up Your FB Ads

I’ve audited hundreds of ad campaigns, from huge organisations like Greenpeace to startup dropshippers.

There are 9 areas I pay attention to when doing these audits:

  1. Structure
  2. Objectives
  3. Targeting
  4. Placements
  5. Customer Avatar / Personas
  6. Copywriting
  7. Visuals
  8. Landing Pages
  9. Funnel / Strategy

Here’s the most common mistake I see being made for each one:

1 – Structure

Biggest Mistake: Not using clear naming protocols.

Explanation: This is possibly the least sexy area of FB ads, but if you don’t name your campaigns, ad sets and ads consistently, you end up with unclear names for things and everything takes longer when trying to find your way around your account, look back at results, or compare performance of two campaigns/ad sets.

And not being able to analyse things effectively either leads to things being missed, or so much overwhelm that people don’t even bother.

How to avoid making the same mistake: The naming convention I recommend is as follows:

Campaign:

Stage of Funnel | Objective | description | date

i.e. “TOF | Conversion | NewStock | Mar2021”

Ad Set:

Description | date | testing variable 

i.e.

ad set 1: “NewStock | Mar2021 | LLA3%” 

ad set 2: “NewStock | Mar2021 |Int:Etsy”

(Int = interest targeting)

Ads:

Description | date | testing variable | creative variable

i.e.

ad 1: “NewStock | Mar2021 | LLA3% | H1C1V1“ 

ad 2: “NewStock | Mar2021 | LLA3% | H1C1V2“

(H= headline, C= ad copy, V= visual)


2 – Objectives

Biggest Mistake: Not using the conversion objective

Explanation: I think this comes down to people not quite understanding how Facebook’s targeting and objectives work.

Here’s an (over-simplified for the sake of clarity) overview:

There are two main factors that affect who sees your ads, your targeting and your objective.

By choosing targeting options, you narrow down your potential audience from ‘Everyone who uses Facebook’ down to (for example) ‘people who like pages related to surfing’ or ‘women over 40 within 10 miles of my business’.

Then Facebook takes that group of people, and ranks them in order of ‘most likely to complete the objective you’ve chosen’ based on the huge amount of historical data they have on everyone.

This means that if you’ve selected an audience of 100’000 people, and chosen the ‘traffic’ objective, then Facebook will decide who of those 100’000 people are most likely to click your ad (based on things like how relevant they think this ad is to them, and how often they’ve historically clicked on things like this), and show it to them in rough order, from person 1 to person 100’000.

If you choose the ‘video views’ objective, then Facebook will decide who of those 100’000 people are most likely to watch your video (based on things like how often they watch videos like yours), and show it to them in rough order, from person 1 to person 100’000.

So…

By choosing different objectives – your ads will show to different groups of people within your audience.

This isn’t a big deal if you have an audience of 30’000 because your ad will likely show to all of them in a short timeframe, but if you’ve got an audience of 2 million people, then you want to show it to the people most likely to do the thing you want.

And typically, when you’re sending someone to your website, it’s because you want them to do something when they’re there – i.e. download a guide, or buy a product, or book an appointment.

So by not choosing the ‘conversion’ you are likely getting worse results than you could be.

How to avoid making the same mistake:

Read through the following paragraphs to learn when to use the most common objectives:

Traffic – Use this when you’re sending people to your website but don’t have an action for them to do when they get there, or can’t track what they do when they get there – I.e. a blog post/ press release/ new thing you’re doing, or when promoting third party content (where you don’t have access to a tracking pixel on the end site).

Conversions – Use this when you want to send someone to your website AND have them do an action – i.e. getting them to buy something, sign up for an event, or download your awesome guide.

  • Within conversions – you can set up different objectives. Best practice is to start with the end goal you want, i.e. purchases, and then move back along the customer journey (purchase > initiate checkout > add to basket > view content > view landing page) if you don’t get results.

Page Post Engagement (PPE) (This is the same as boosting a post) – Use this when you want to get comments/likes/shares on a post – i.e. content that doesn’t require an action/ for a competition/ getting people to tag their friends.

These are also great when you have a messenger bot setup, triggered by a comment, or for retargeting ads going to your engaged audiences.

Video views – If you’re building an audience of people to retarget, then video is likely to be the cheapest route, because you can track anyone who watches 3 seconds or more of your video. Also if you want to get cheap awareness of something that doesn’t include a direct action you want someone to take.

Lead Generation (Lead Forms) – These seem undervalued by many advertisers, probably because getting the leads from the form into anywhere useful like your CRM, isn’t as easy as it should be* – but if you want to get people to sign up for something, or give you their details, and they are already qualified, then Lead forms can work great. For local businesses who want leads (i.e. gyms or cleaners), lead forms consistently get me the best results.

 * Use Zapier to easily get the info people fill in sent to your email/phone instantly.

Reach – Using the reach objective is telling Facebook to not worry about any end objective, but rather to just show your ads to everyone in your chosen audience.

This is useful when you’re targeting a small number of people (e.g. retargeting the 2000 people who’ve watched a specific video of yours), or if targeting a small geographical area (e.g the 5km radius around your business) 

Brand Awareness – An underused objective – presumably because it doesn’t produce a very measurable end ‘result’ but brand awareness ads are actually very powerful. Facebook will choose who to show your ads to based on who is likely to remember your brand in a couple of days time. This means it can be very useful for ads going out to a broad cold audience, with a view to retargeting them.

HOWEVER – I’ve also found it to be one of the most profitable objectives to use for retargeting in multi-tiered campaigns (i.e people who’ve visited your website but not signed up for your course yet)


3 – Targeting

This is often one of the biggest areas to address, so I’ve decided to give two answers, one for local businesses (i.e. gyms, car dealerships etc) and one for online businesses (i.e. ecommerce, online courses etc)

Biggest Mistake (Local): Using interests to narrow down their audience.

Explanation: With local businesses, if you’re just targeting a 5/10/20 mile radius around your business, then narrowing that down further often makes audiences that are too small, and you lose out on people who would actually be a good fit.

It seems natural to use the targeting options, but I find that it tends to raise the CPM (cost of showing your ads) and also that with local ads you’ll tend to get local people tagging others even if they’re not a good fit themselves.

How to avoid making the same mistake: I almost always see the best results for local ads from just using a radius around the business, plus age and gender as applicable.

Biggest Mistake (online): Ignoring custom audiences.

Explanation: The following order of targeting options are (broadly speaking) the preferred, because they go from warmest to coldest:

  1. Custom audiences
  2. Lookalike Audiences (LLA’s)
  3. Interest targeting
  4. Location
  5. Age & Gender

And obviously, the warmer the audience, the more likely they are to buy from you.

Yet I see a lot of businesses just constantly pumping out ads to a cold audience, and ignoring the people who have already watched their videos / been to their website / added a product to their cart (OR Just adding hot and cold audiences into one giant ad set with no segmentation) In ecommerce businesses, a retargeting campaign, going out to people who have added something to cart but not bought is the highest ROAS (Return on ad Spend) campaign 9 times out of 10, and it’s the same no matter what you sell.

How to avoid making the same mistake: Plan out a proper customer journey. What are all the different steps that someone goes through between first coming across your business and becoming a long-term customer?

  • Downloading a guide and getting on your email list?
  • Watch a video of you explaining how your process is ideal for them?
  • Browsing your website?
  • Scheduling a call with you personally?

And then create ads for each relevant stage to help guide them along that path.

Remember, as they become more familiar with you, you will also speak to them differently.


4 – Placements

Biggest mistake

Wasting money on the audience network.

Explanation: 

There are over a dozen different places where your ads can show. But not all of them tend to be equally effective, and Facebook will often push a high amount of traffic to the audience network because it is less saturated.

The audience network is a huge number of websites and apps where Facebook also show ads.

There are times and places when the audience network is great – I’ve seen it work well for link clicks to blog posts, and as part of a retargeting campaign, allowing you to ‘be everywhere’, but it’s not ALWAYS the right choice.

In recent times (since early 2020) Facebook’s ability to choose the right placement has seemed to massively improve, to the point where I often leave placements on ‘automatic’ because I end up with a better end ROAS, but the audience network is the most common culprit for wasted spend, especially if you’re looking to get video views from a cold audience.

How to avoid making the same mistake:

Go to the ‘Performance and Clicks’ pulldown menu in ads manager, and then use ‘Placements’ in the ‘Breakdown’ pulldown menu to see if there are any Placements which are performing above or below the average.

If you see that you’re spending lots on the audience network and not getting results, then you might want to turn it off in future.

You do this at the ad set level, select the ‘Edit placements’ radio button instead of ‘Automatic’ and untick the placements you don’t want.

Caveat – As mentioned, this is an area that I am encouraging people to play around with a bit less recently – it’s worth testing, but I’ve seen many examples of CPM’s increasing significantly when you remove too many placements.


Pillar 5 – Customer Avatar/Personas

When it comes to defining their customer clearly (if you don’t know who you’re selling to, it’s hard to speak to them in an appealing way) there are two related/intertwined mistakes I see made most often.

Biggest Mistake: 

  1. They don’t define their target customer at all in the first place, and just use generic language that (sort of) appeals to everyone.
  2. If they have defined an avatar, they’ve lumped everyone in together, to some amalgamation of all their customers.

Explanation:

Generic language speaks to (and disqualifies) nobody.

Buying is first and foremost an emotional decision, and if we don’t trust the person selling to us, we’re not going to buy, so you need to show that you UNDERSTAND THEM, and UNDERSTAND THEIR PROBLEMS.

How to avoid making the same mistake:

First, define all the different groups of people that buy from you, there should be at least 3, but if you’ve got loads, then just identify the biggest few.

Each of these personas will have different opinions/goals/pains etc, so once you’ve done that, ask yourself the following questions for each one:

  1. For each one we want to know the basic demographics that define them: 
    1. age,
    2. gender,
    3. location,
    4. income…
  2. Then the psychographics that relate to what you’re selling:
    1. What do they want?
    2. What do they care about?
    3. Who are their enemies?
    4. What are their dreams?
    5. What do they believe?
    6. What are their suspicions?
    7. How have they failed before?
    8. What are they afraid of?

Then when you create an ad campaign, create it for just one persona at a time, and craft your message and your offer to match them.


6 – Copywriting

Biggest Mistake: 

Copywriting is a huge topic, but you don’t have to be a world-class copywriter to get results from Facebook ads – the biggest mistake I see being made is talking about you, not about your clients.

Explanation:

This follows on from the above customer persona section – because if you don’t have a clear picture of who your ad is for, then you can’t write for them.

But you need to write for them, because talking about yourself is NOT going to appeal to them.

“We are the biggest supplier of…”

“I am a skilled teacher and can do…”

This isn’t interesting to the reader, and will not get them to click.

How to avoid making the same mistake:

WIIFM – Every time you write a sentence, read it back and ask yourself (from your reader’s POV) “What’s In It For Me?” 

If you have a clearly defined picture of who you’re writing for, then you can go through everything you write and make sure that it’s relevant to them, their hopes, dreams, goals, objections, fears…


7 – Visuals

Biggest Mistake: 

Not testing anywhere near enough variations.

Explanation:

The PRIMARY job of the image/video that you use is to get enough attention to stop someone scrolling for a split second, so that they can scan the ad copy to see if it’s relevant/interesting.

If you just chuck up one photo and never try anything else, who knows how much money you’re leaving on the table.

How to avoid making the same mistake:

Effective attention-getting-visuals tend to fit into one of 3 categories:

1. The target market

Show an image/video of the type of person you’re speaking to – they will pay attention because it’s relevant to them.

For example – if you run a food truck, then a photo of your customers eating an awesome looking burger infront of a recognisable place/landmark in your town.

2. The problem/solution/aspirations

Demonstrate either the issue at hand, or your product/service solving that issue – again, people will pay attention because it’s relevant.

For example – If you sell waterproof hiking shoes, you could show someone with wet socks looking miserable.

3. A pattern interrupt.

Something that just seems out of place will get attention (read Purple Cow by Seth Godin), but beware using ‘wacky’ but irrelevant images/videos for the sake of it. these might get people to stop/click, but it’s likely doing nothing to qualify the right people.

For example – I saw a FB ad a while back that was just a picture of a cute dog, with a headline along the line of “Instead of you seeing a boring advert, I’m paying to show you this pup” – it got my attention, but that was that.”

So find (or create) a bunch of images and video that fit those categories and see which gets the best Click-Through-Rates and the most conversions.

Caveat- you can of course, also use the video in your ads to teach/inspire/sell directly, but remember that without getting initial attention, your efforts will be passed over, and you still need to be testing different variations.


8 – Landing pages

Biggest Mistake: 

S L O W loading times.

Explanation:

Your landing page is the page that you send people to if they click on your ad. It could be a simple blog post, a product page on an ecommerce store, a booking page for a cafe, or an opt-in page where someone can give their info in exchange for a download/course/freebie.

Landing pages are consistently given less attention than they need especially compared to the ads sending people there, which is crazy because it can easily increase/decrease the ROI on your ads by 100-500% or more.

and the biggest culprit is loading speed – how long it takes for your website to load for the viewer.

According to Neil Patel “Nearly half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less, and they tend to abandon a site that isn’t loaded within 3 seconds.” 

How to avoid making the same mistake:

Google ‘pagespeed insights’ and click the top link, then enter your website/page.

All those things that appear, they are all costing you money.

‘Eliminate render-blocking resources’ ‘Defer unused CSS’ ‘Properly size images’ – it’s all geeky stuff, and it all counts – so find a website developer and pay them to fix it.

The great thing about speeding up your site is that it’s going to pay for itself over and over and over. If you’re paying money every month to run ads, then it’s worth paying a one-off fee to increase your conversion rate overnight.


9 – Funnel/Strategy

Biggest Mistake: 

Randomness

Explanation:

To put it bluntly – most businesses don’t have a plan when it comes to FB ads.

They tried a couple of ads that worked, but now they aren’t working so well, and they just keep throwing things up without much of a clue.

How to avoid making the same mistake:

It’s not complicated, not groundbreaking. but it is effective.

You find an established business like yours, that’s already running ads, and you ‘model’ what they’re doing.

And the great thing that came from Facebook’s privacy stuff is that all this info is publicly available.

Here’s how to you find it:

– Find known successful companies on FB – OR search keywords for your niche

– Click on the ‘Page Transparency’ box

– And if they’re running ads, Facebook will tell you.

– And there you go, all the ads that they’re currently running.

– You can click on them, follow their funnel, see what they’re doing.

– And model it for your business.

This isn’t perfect, and you ABSOLUTELY CAN’T just copy/paste a funnel from another business, but it gives you a starting point, and if you model what a similar business is doing, adapt it to your own products & clients, then test from there, you’re likely going in the right direction, rather than driving around without a map.


If you found this interesting/useful and you’d like to know the specific mistakes that you’re making with your own ads, then you can apply for an audit here – https://www.healthyleads.co.uk/facebook-ads-audit/

I’ll show you where you’re wasting money, where you’re missing opportunities, and how to take your ads up a level.

Of the 100’s of ad accounts I’ve audited, I’ve never seen a single one that wasn’t either wasting or missing out on a significant amount of money – and I aim to provide a LOT of value with these audits.

Cheers!