5 Rookie Facebook Ad Mistakes To Avoid.


Facebook ads are extremely easy to use – so easy that within a few minutes you can set up your business account and start running ads that have the potential to reach two billion people. While being very easy to set up, running profitable Facebook ads with a measurable ROI is anything but easy.

A single mistake in your objective selection, audience targeting, or ad copy can steamroll your campaign into failure. In this article, I'll reveal the top five rookie mistakes made by businesses when running Facebook ads. If you're making any one of these mistakes, your ads are almost certain to fail.

1. Selecting the Wrong Objective

The first thing you need to understand is that Facebook ads work off an algorithm. Whether you want people to install your mobile app, watch your video, or buy your product, each objective offered by Facebook has its own complex algorithm to reach you your desired goal.

Facebook Ad Campaign

For example, if you want to serve a video ad to new prospects revealing how your business works, you don't want to use a traffic or conversion objective, which focuses on sending users to your website or reaching a desired goal on your website.

As the video will be showing users how your business works, you'd want to use either video views, brand awareness, or the reach objective, as the algorithm for each of these objectives aligns with your goal of reaching new users. If your goal is to drive people to your website, then use the traffic objective. If your goal is to gather email addresses, then use the lead generation objective.

2. Not Using Custom Audiences

When you set up your first ad, after selecting your objective you'll see something like this:

Facebook Ad Custom Audience

This is where you target Facebook users. It is very tempting to target users by age, gender, location, and interests to find new customers, especially since Facebook makes it super easy by using drop-down lists to find interests and behavior habits. However, any good online marketer will tell you that you should first target your customers and website visitors, not new prospects.

You have a 60-70% greater chance of selling to an existing customer than a new one.

Customer Acquisition vs Retention

If you have an email list of customers and receive a healthy amount of website traffic, start running ads to customers and website visitors first. They are already familiar with your business and will require less convincing to convert. You can create custom audiences by uploading your email list and installing the Facebook pixel (discussed in tip #5) to create audiences around website traffic.

3. Using the Wrong Ad Placements

When you come to selecting placements for your Facebook campaign, Facebook sets your placements to automatic by default, which they recommend.

Facebook Ad Automated Placement

Placements: Facebook serves your ads on their platform and third-party sites.

Most rookies will skip this section and go with Facebook's recommendation. Always edit your placements to remove the audience network.

Facebook Ads Edit Placements

The audience network is a list of over one million third-party sites and mobile apps. If you choose the Facebook or Instagram placement, you know exactly where your ad is being shown. If you select the audience network, you don't know which app or website your ads are on, and due to the lack of space, often parts of your creatives are missing.

The audience network is a black hole where ad money goes to die. As ads are run off Facebook, it makes it hard for their algorithm to optimize traffic for this placement. Stick to the Facebook newsfeed only and test your ads. Once you start seeing good results, then start to expand onto Instagram and the audience network.

Don't lump all placements into a single campaign; it will be hard to troubleshoot where problems lie, and because the audience network is cheap ad inventory (low-quality traffic), a lot of your ad spend will be allocated to that placement.

4. The Facebook Ad Itself

There are a lot of things you can and cannot say in your Facebook ad copy. For example, you can't claim that your product does anything like relieves stress, helps people lose weight, increases happiness, or any other claim. Even saying you offer the best service in town isn't allowed. You also cannot use before and after photos or use misleading copy or sexually suggestive content.

In various Facebook marketing groups, I'll often come across messages like this:

Facebook Ad Suspended

Before running an ad, read the Facebook ad policy so you know what you can and cannot include in your copy. If you say the wrong thing or use an inappropriate image, Facebook has been known to suspend accounts. To get ideas on what type of ads are acceptable, check out the Ad Espresso ad library. There are thousands of ads there that you can get ideas from.

5. Facebook Pixel

Facebook pixel is a small block of code that can track almost every action a user makes on your website, from pages visited, buttons clicked, to items bought. While the Facebook Ads Manager provides stats such as click-through rates and impressions that happen on the Facebook website itself, Facebook pixel tracks actions that users make when they are on your website.

Pixel allows you to measure the performance of every campaign, and identifies which ads are working and which are underperforming. If you don't use the Facebook pixel, you'll be flying blind on Facebook. As well as conversion tracking, the Facebook pixel also lets you create website custom audiences.

For example, you can use the Facebook pixel to group users who viewed a specific product, and then you could show anyone who viewed that product an ad on Facebook (known as retargeting). If a prospect added an item to their cart but didn't complete checkout, through retargeting you can bring them back to their cart to complete their order.

Before you launch a single Facebook campaign, set up your Facebook pixel to capture website audiences and create the conversions you're hoping to get. You can learn how to set up your Facebook pixel by clicking here.

Your Turn

If you follow the five tips above, you will see success with your Facebook ads. Customers and website visitors are the easiest people to sell to. As long as you're showing them an ad personalized to their needs, you should achieve your goals. The tricky part comes when you try to scale your ads and find new customers; that's when testing everything from objectives, audiences, placements, budgets, and ads come into play. But before you can get to that stage of your Facebook marketing strategy, you need to drill down on the basics.

How many of these five mistakes are you making?


  1. 1

    Hey Steve,

    Thank you for sharing, this is something that everyone who is using or planning to use facebook ads – should read.

    First things first, we need to clearly define and know who is our target audience. If this step is missed, you will be spending your money in vain.

    Yeah, Facebook became very strict with approvals, it’s very hard for some niches to visually show what’s the subject of Ad, especially when it comes to services.

  2. 2

    Thanks for the good guide on running Ads! But there are other ways to promote on Facebook. You could use some automation tools to add lots of friends, send them messages etc.

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