5 Categories of Common Facebook Ads Mistakes

Daniel Wade

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Daniel Wade

 / 

June 5, 2020

It is an understatement to say that there has been much written about the kinds of mistakes that can befall a novice Facebook advertiser. In fact, this seems to be a favorite topic for digital marketing specialists. To be sure, there is a myriad of pitfalls just waiting to snare the unsuspecting business owner who is trying to capitalize on the power of advertising using Facebook. 

This article will provide a big-picture overview of the types or categories of mistakes that are commonly made, what’s included in those categories, and what you can do to avoid them. 

We have researched and categorized the top 100 Facebook advertising mistakes, as written about by digital marketing specialists over the last two years. We have grouped the content of these articles into 5 easy to understand categories. These categories and their proportional relationship to each other are shown in the chart below.

Table of contents


Problems with Ad Copy or Creatives

Topping the list of common Facebook advertising snafus, at 26% of the total, are mistakes related to creating compelling ad copy and the effective use of ad creatives. Ad copy is the main text used to convey the message of an ad while the ad creative is the image or video component. These two elements, along with the headline, make up all that is presented to the viewer. It is therefore imperative that great consideration is given to these details. 

The top mistakes cited are:

  • Designing a generally ineffective ad
  • Using yawn-worthy ad creatives
  • Using too many words in the ad
  • Disregarding the importance of images
  • Not using video creatives
  • Headlines that miss the mark for the ad
  • Neglecting to refresh the creative
  • Ads that fail to draw attention
  • Forgetting to caption video ads
  • Careless copywriting
  • A poor match between the ad and the content of the landing page
  • Use of confusing, conflicting, or irrelevant ad copy
  • Failure to communicate a compelling value proposition

Writing good ad copy and producing great ad creatives is much more an art than a science. Together these components must be crafted in a manner that will resonate with potential customers and compel them to act with specific intent. Avoiding mistakes related to poor ad copy and creatives requires a high-level of expertise and experience. 

The use of appropriate images is critical. Static photos can be effective, but video ads are now, more than ever before, proving to be the most effective ad type. A novice advertiser should not conserve their budget in the development of ad copy and creatives. Easy to use advertising platforms, like Facebook, provide access to large audiences without professional advertising expertise. This is their primary benefit, but this should not be interpreted as an indication that these platforms can automate the artistic crafting required for ad copy and creatives.

Inadequate Audience Targeting

Second only to ad copy and creatives, at 23% of the total number of common mistakes written about, is inappropriate audience targeting. Audience targeting defines who will see the ad and an error here can cripple the performance of even well-crafted ad copy and creatives.

The top mistakes cited are:

  • Targeting the wrong audience entirely
  • An over-reliance on automatic ad placement
  • Ignoring custom audiences
  • An over-reliance on interest targeting
  • The chosen audience is too small or too large
  • Use of a generally poor targeting strategy
  • Using the wrong ad type for a given audience
  • Not taking advantage of optimization rules
  • Low audience to offer match

Unlike the production of good ad copy and creatives, on-target audience targeting is something that Facebook has automated well. If appropriate time is devoted to understanding the target development tools and setting provided by Facebook, very accurate targeting can certainly be accomplished. However, do not underestimate the importance of good audience targeting and don’t rely entirely on Facebook’s prompts, tools, and settings. Use common sense and an understanding of the product or service being offered. Most importantly use a clear understanding of who the potential customer is, where they live, what interests them, and what they need.

Poor Ad Management

20% of the body of articles written by digital marketing specialists about Facebook Ads mistakes address various ad management shortfalls. Even a well-crafted and accurately targeted ad can fail to produce the desired results if the ad is not managed effectively after the campaign is launched. 

The top mistakes cited are:

  • Launch and forget without follow-up management
  • Creating a new ad rather than managing successful ads
  • Forgetting to exclude past converters
  • Running too many ads without sufficient budget
  • Continuing to serve ads to the same audience without results
  • Making changes too quickly
  • Reckless spending
  • Uninformed ad bidding strategies
  • Leaving ads unattended
  • Pulling ads too quickly

It is important to be intimately involved in ad management on a regular, even daily, basis. Effective ads require nurturing. They must be monitored, tested, adjusted, and tweaked to reach and sustain maximum performance. Care must be given that the relative ease of which ads can be created, and campaigns launched on Facebook’s platform does not lull an advertiser into a state of complacency believing that the ad will not require further management.

Lack of Analyzing and Testing

Even the best ads, once up and running, will invariably require a certain amount of adjustment to produce the best results. 16% of the time, articles written about common Facebook advertising mistakes identify problems with testing and analyzing ads as inhibitors to top performance. 

The top mistakes cited are:

  • The attempt to test multiple interests in a single ad set
  • No landing page tests
  • Failure to test after launching the campaign
  • Trying to test too much at one time
  • Lack of A/B testing
  • Too little, or no, test result documentation
  • Neglecting conversion tracking
  • Not using the Facebook Pixel

Unfortunately, ad testing can sometimes be overlooked because there exists a high level of confidence in the copy, creatives, and targeting. Ad testing is intended to double-check that details were not overlooked in the setup process and that the proposed purpose of the ad is being achieved. Testing is also intended to provide evidence pointing to improvements that can be made. 

When it comes to ad testing, simpler is better. Don’t try and test every aspect of an ad at the same time. Test one ad copy against another. Then test different creatives. Avoid making too many changes between tests. Doing so will increase the danger of coming to an incorrect conclusion about one or more elements. 

No Clear Objective

The very reason for creating and launching an advertising campaign can, in some cases, become fuzzy if no clear objective is defined and used to guide the campaign. Digital marketing specialists identified the lack of a clear objective in 15% of the published pieces we sampled. 

Some of the problems cited include:

  • Selecting the wrong Facebook campaign objective during setup
  • Focusing on cost per lead over earnings per lead
  • Creating ads without a good understanding of campaign settings
  • Lack of a clear, holistic, and overarching strategy
  • Losing sight of the original goal for running an ad
  • Not defining any goals for the campaign
  • Putting off potential customers by focusing solely on sales

A health supplements provider may initially determine that an ad campaign is needed to make potential customers more aware of the benefits of their product. During the creation of the ad copy, the ad creatives, and the target selection, subtle changes to the goal of the ad can inadvertently be introduced. A desire to sell more products immediately or to sell one specific product over another product may creep in and the objective gets diluted. 

To avoid this category of mistake, give adequate thought to the ad campaign’s objective and then stick to it. As other needs or desires that advertising can accommodate are identified, put them on the back burner for consideration with another campaign. Do not intermix the objectives.

As this article makes clear, there are more than enough ways to go astray with Facebook Ads. Even so, sophisticated advertising platforms, like Facebook Ads, have made reaching large audiences easier than was even imaginable a few short decades ago.  With all the automation, easy to use features, flexible settings, and experienced guidance comes the danger of relying too heavily on the platform’s ability to do more than it was ever intended to do. Understanding the customer, who they are, where they are, their needs, and what motivates them to buy cannot be automated. Take the time needed to learn how to identify your best target audience. Test your assumptions over and over. Stay involved in tweaking the process. And, most of all, remember that the results will be well worth the effort in the end.

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