9 Reasons Why Your Facebook Ads Aren't Working

Published on May 18, 2019

Facebook ads can be one of the greatest assets for your e-commerce business. However, a common complaint among the clients we’ve worked with has been that their ads never convert. This sentiment is echoed across the internet, with articles and forum posts titled “Facebook Ads are Dead,” or “I’ve spent tons of money on Facebook ads to no avail.”

I’m here to explain a few things.

1. Targeting the Wrong People

The biggest benefit to Facebook ads is your ability to have highly specific targeting to the people you display ads to, but this can often backfire on people inexperienced with the platform.

Obviously this leads to higher adspend, but even worse than that, bad targeting might actually damage your brand image.

Everybody hates getting ads that don’t speak to them. Someone who is allergic to dogs doesn’t want their time and attention to be taken up by ads for your custom leashes.

You want to have your ads provide value to those who see them. Accurate targeting is the only way to do this.

The three major mistakes that people often make with the targeting features of Facebook are: being too broad, not using enough data, and not understanding who your customers are.

Your Target Audience is Too Broad

Targeting the largest audience possible may seem like a good idea, but in actuality, it’s just about the worst way to approach advertising.

Being too broad will make your messaging muddy, and your ads will rank low in relevancy. This will likely raise the cost per click (CPC), and may even cause you to be penalized by Facebook.

Targeting properly will make writing the copy for your advertising a much easier and more enjoyable process. When you know the person you’ll be speaking to, it becomes a conversation between your brand and the customer.

You can provide and demonstrate more value to someone once you understand what their problems actually are.

Think about it this way: would a college-aged man be interested in an ad for maternity clothing? Most likely not.

Take some time to figure who your customers are and what their persona might be, then create a custom audience that’s specific to that persona.

You’re Not Using Enough Data

Facebook ads run on data - data about who likes what, who’s purchased your product in the past, what kind of person is most likely to add a product to their cart, etc.

Without data, the leverage of Facebook is severely limited.

You should be using a Facebook Pixel on your website and on all of the ads that you run for your site.

A Facebook Pixel will allow you to gather information about the people who shop on your site and interact with your ads.

Once you have configured your Facebook Pixel, you will have the ability to make highly targeted ads.

There are a large number of ways that you can improve your targeting using the data collected via the tracking pixels on your site and landing pages. Here are just a small number of examples of what will be possible:

  • Targeting people like those on your mailing list.

  • Targeting people who have previously downloaded an e-book.

  • Targeting people who have already made a purchase.

As you can see, this gives you a lot of power to massage your sales funnel, and figure out how to maximize the effectiveness of your ads.

Not Speaking To Your Audience

You need to tailor what is being said to the reader. This may seem obvious at first, but very few ads successfully do this.

Ad Copy will be the way that most of your potential customers are introduced to your company. You want to ensure that the copy of your ads informs whomever is reading it that you can add value to their lives.

To do this you want to think about who your target audience is, and shape and change your copy and creative to suit their personal tastes and communication style. This can be challenging to get right especially the first time around. Our recommeded strategy is to do smaller campaigns testing various ways of phrasing the same message while still thinking about what your target audience would be looking for in your product and message.

When you test several versions of your message you can start to better understand your audience by seeing in realtime what messages are most appleaing to which demographics. You may start with a hypothesis that younger demographics are interested in the cool factor of your product, but find out they’re really more interested in the price. Older generations you may think are interested in the secuirty your product will allow them, but respond better to messages about freedom or how much time they’ll save.

You’ll never know what messaging will be the most effective until you try it.

3. Selling to a Cold Audience

Nobody wants to buy from a company they’ve never heard of before. This is especially true in the age of the internet, where scams and people trying to get rich at the expense of others lie around every corner.

Facebook is where people go to find pictures of friends and family, and follow their interests. If you disturb that by shoving your product offer in their face, people are likely to look unfavorably upon you.

The trick to avoiding this pitfall is to have a sequence of messaging and advertising meant to warm your audince to your brand.

The more they see you, the more likely they’ll feel comfortable engaging with your advertisements.

Your goal should be to build trust slowly and deliver value early.

This is an example of what a series of campaigns might look like:

  • A simple ad linking to a blog post that they would find interesting.

  • Another ad to establish your brand’s face to the customer.

  • An ad offering a lead magnet of some kind (ebook, video course).

  • The actual offer you want them to take. This could be anything from a free trial to a product discount.

4. Your Ads Don’t Deliver What Was Promised

One thing that is sure to kill your conversion is a mismatch of what was promised in the ad and what was delived on your landing page.

To maintain trust and manage peoples expectations, make sure that the ad’s copy, creativity, colors, and offer are all consistent and in alignment.

If the ad messaging doesn’t align with what the user finds on the other end of the link, the user may become confused or wary of your brand.

Focus on making people comfortable, and delivering on what was promised.

A pattern that I see often is a company using the same landing page for multiple offers in order to save on time and money.

While I understand the urge to do this, resist. Spend the time to create unique landing pages for every ad campaign and offer that you run.

When you invest in your landing pages, you’ll have a clearer message being delivered to your prospective customer. This will reassure them when they’re considering taking whatever offer is being presented to them.

Take for example a hypothetical ad for a new line of rain jackets. In this ad, the headline reads: “Stay Dry in All Conditions.” However, once you follow the ad to the landing page, you’re greeted with the headline: “Our New Jacket is Featured in Over 6 Colors.” The potential customer followed the ad because they were interested in how the jacket could keep them dry, but instead of being informed further, they’re now being diverted to something they may not care about.

This can be distracting and disorienting to a customer. The less comfortable and familiar they feel, the less likely they will be to trust your brand enough to pay you money.

Consistency and Focus are the name of the game here. Pick one key element of your product or service to campaign for and have that be the star of the show. There’s nothing wrong with mentioning other features and benefits later in the copy or as an aside, but if the spotlight is constantly swinging from feature to feature then the person reading the ad will never be sure of any single benefit.

5. No Value is Provided For Your Target Customer

Oftentimes people want to extract value and money from someone seeing an ad as soon as possible. This tactic will usually leave a bad taste in the mouths of your customers as they won’t feel valued.

Nobody likes to be seen as a talking wallet. Respect your customers and give them something valuable without expecting anything in return. This will show them that you do care, and want to help them achieve whatever goals and dreams they may have.

Let’s take a hypothetical company, Marie’s Cosmetics. Marie has just come up with a new line of lip gloss that glows various colors in the dark. Marie begins her ad campaign by running ads telling people they should buy. The problem is that nobody has ever heard of her company, she doesn’t have a relationship that will afford her the option to hard sell right away.

A better, albiet slower, strategy would be to run a series of campaigns that start off by providing say a blog article talking about the makeup styles that are in for the season. This could then lead into a free guide to skin care, and perhaps this leads to a video tutorial. Now having built a relationship and a position of authority with the audience they will be more receptive to offers of your product. This strategy can have the added benefit of allowing you to collect emails from the people that see your ads, which will allow you to advertise for free to their emails.

6. Your Ads Aren’t Compelling

One of the major problems with advertising in general, let alone ads on social media, is that they aren’t compelling. Nobody is going to click on an ad that doesn’t engage them on something that they personally value.

When you create your ad copy you need to be focused on speaking to the wants and desires of the user you are targeting, and the benefits you will be bringing them. Think about what your customers’ pain points are, communicate that you have the solution for them, and they will be far more likely to buy your product.

Creating a connection to your customer will make them feel like your brand represents them. If you begin your relationship by deeply connecting with people, the long-term value of your customer will also increase. As they say, first impressions matter. Introduce your brand in a strong way.

7. People on Facebook Aren’t Looking to Buy

Facebook is a social platform where people go to look at baby pictures of their family members and get into political arguments with their high school teachers. The average user on Facebook isn’t primed to make a purchase. Think about it this way: if you and your friends were out on the town having a nice conversation, and a salesman walked up to you trying to sell some random gizmo, how would you feel?

Shape your messaging and campaigns to contribute to or start a conversation with your potential customer. If they feel like you’re contributing to their experience on Facebook, they’ll be more inclined to engage with your ads and your brand.

Some of the ways that you can do this would be by asking questions, offering something valuable to the person on Facebook for free, or creating content commenting on a recent trend in your niche and sharing that with the people you’re targeting.

Once you’ve gotten people to acclimated to seeing you on their timeline and have built up some trust, you’ll be in a better position to offer what you’re trying to sell. Conversions will increase once people feel you’re not intruding on their newsfeed.

8. You Should be Experimenting More

You’ll never know if something works until you try it. You should be spending enough time and adspend to get a good variety of campaigns, copy, and landing pages tested. Try things that are counter-intuitive, try longer forms, try headlines you normally wouldn’t try - do things that don’t feel like they belong in copy.

If you experiment enough while still trying to remain relevent to the people you’re targeting, you’re more likely to hit campaigns that are golden. Breaking the mold in advertising can be what is needed to grab the readers attention. Everyone has seen the copy, “The Best Widget to Date.” Try something unique, bold, and eye catching.

Creating and running ads has never been cheaper, easier, and faster. It may have been the case in the past that it would have taken many months to run experiments to see what works, but with the power of digital ads in general, it is now posible to run hundreds of test campaigns against many subsections of your audience at once in a short amount of time without spending huge amounts of money per ad.

Open yourself up to more options and stick with it; you’ll eventually start finding extremely powerful campaigns that you can duplicate across all of your customer audiences.

9. The Overall Sales Funnel Isn’t Good Enough

So you’ve got great ads and your landing page is collecting emails, but sales are still stagnating. This might be because your overall sales funnel is lacking. You need to take the time to plan out a great mid funnel and end funnel process that will massage your customer into taking the actions that are most beneficial to both you and them.

If they sign up for your mailing list but you don’t follow up on what was promised when they registered, you’ll soon be forgotten in the fast world of digital marketing. The same thing will happen if you can’t continue to provide value and build your brand repulation with your customer.

Have a plan for drip campaigns that can be fed to your email list based on the actions that they’ve taken so far. For example, if they’ve recently purchased a starter kit from your website, make sure that they start to receive information on how to best use those products. Later down the line, inform them of your more advanced options that will take the value to the next level.

An example of this could be an introductory course for guitar. You would configure an email marketing campaign to check in with them, offering assistance on portions of the course that your customers have mentioned particular difficulty with. After a few months with your course, you can then offer advanced training that will give your customers a pathway to increasing their skill. By this point, you should have built a great brand reputation and will make quick sales from your customer base.


As we’ve covered in this article, there are many reasons that could be hampering the success of your facebook ad campaigns. Through these strategies, and a bit of trial and error you are sure to see positive return on investments from your FaceBook ad campaigns. The biggest thing to remember is that you want to provide value and ease first and foremost.

TreeForge is a digital strategies consultancy specializing in E-Commerce. If you’re interested in having a team behind you to help you grow and develop your online sales contact us and we can help you develop, deploy, and scale digital strategies and meet your goals.

Dameon Smith