15 Reasons Your Facebook Ads Don't Work (And How To Make Them Profitable)

Last updated


Daniel Wade


July 28, 2022

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Facebook is big and secretive. No one knows what happens in the background of their ads. And if you are just switching from traditional marketing, you are likely not as social media savvy as your competitors. Here is why you might hit a dead end with Facebook ads plus ways to step up the profitability gear.


Table of contents

Issue #1 your goals are not clear

You must have clear metrics when working with Facebook ads. In most cases, when marketers don't see results with Facebook ads, the problem is that they don't have clear goals. Some don't even have goals at all. There are three main objectives when marketing on Facebook, and these include:

  • Awareness - Reach more people and improve the popularity of your business
  • Consideration - Send more people to your website by reminding them of your brand and offerings
  • Conversion - Improve sales by getting many people to sign up for your offers

For these advertising goals on Facebook, you must have clear ways to measure performance. If you are targeting conversion and increased ROI, your campaign KPIs could include lead generation and on-site sales. Other Facebook ads performance metrics include page likes, email sign-ups, website click through and post engagement, among others.

Solution: Choose marketing goals and KPIs that reflect your business needs, then track performance. New businesses, for instance, can focus on improving brand awareness, which is measurable by page likes and the number of new followers.

Issue # 2 Your campaign is not creative

All social media users, including Facebook, have a short attention span. They lose interest too quickly, and as many researchers say, you get only 3 seconds to wow them. Most Facebook ads fail because marketers don't take time to understand their audiences and create an exciting campaign.

Solution: The images you use must be of high quality. Your copy must be engaging as well to appeal to your target audience. Consider outsourcing the graphic design or video creation function to pros to come up with something interesting.

Issue # 3 Uninspiring ad formats

Maybe your ROI for Facebook ads is low because your formats are not engaging. Or perhaps they Are wrong and contradict the Facebook ad format specs and requirements. This problem is common among new Facebook ads users. To improve the ROI from your Facebook ads, you must understand the different ad formats they have, the specifications, and what works well for your audience.

Facebook ad formats include:

  • Video ads: Options such as 360 video help to create an immersive experience for your potential customers
  • Image ads: Images save words. Research also shows that social media users are more attracted to images than text.
  • Collection ads: This ad format helps you combine several of your products/services in one grid-like layout. It is suitable for businesses targeting awareness.
  • Carousel: The carousel Facebook campaign format resembles the collection ad, but in this case, you can separate links to each image or video in the ad set.
  • Slideshow ads: You can turn your advertisement into an exciting slide presentation by working with some high-quality images.
  • Canvas/Instant Experience: The canvas ad format instantly loads in the user's feed. They are great when reaching out to new markets.
  • Lead ads: This Facebook ad format accompanies your ad with a contact information form so you can harvest emails and phone numbers.

Solution: Analyze all these ad formats and their requirements. Choose a format that you feel helps your message stand out more.

Issue #4 Unregimented targeting

By reaching many people on Facebook ads, you earn more money per campaign, right? No. This penny-pinching line of thinking can backfire. Targeting a broad audience loses your ad's specificity and wastes your time and budget. Instead of messaging, people that don't care about your products/ services, use those resources on people that respond positively.

Solution: Narrow down to a specific demographic that describes your type of customers. Work incrementally, adding one targeting criteria at a time, and measuring performance.

Issue # 5 Wrong budgeting

If you are a beginner, you can quickly end up using all your budget and not have any returns to show for it. Facebook ads budgets may also waste away because of wrong targeting and failure to track performance and optimize your campaign. Even so, setting a budget that is too low can throw you behind. It makes it impossible to compete with businesses that are spending substantial sums on the same audiences.

Solution: Start with a low budget and track performance. If the cost per click is impressive, scale it up. If it's high, dial back and direct your energy towards quality optimization.

Issue# 6 Your ad copy is not selling

Too many times, marketers veer off the track. They become entertainers or boast too much about their brand. They end a campaign message without asking for any clear action step. Remember that modern-day consumers can be hard to please; they have many options and are always short on time. So, when you get the chance to capture their attention, make sure to sell.

Remember, though, that Facebook is mostly just a lead generation site for you. You may not make sales right there and then, but you must get the click-throughs. By getting many users on your landing page, you improve the chances of getting a higher conversion.

Solution: Have a clear CTA for your Facebook campaign. Let your copy arouse enough interest so that users follow the link to your site for more.

Issue #7 - Working with a single ad set

Facebook ads are structured in ad sets. These are individual ads grouped and may have varying budgets, running schedules, or targeting criteria. Keeping all ads in a single set makes it simple, but that can negatively impact the performance of your ad. Our analysis reveals that Facebook often only gives most of the reach to a single ad in the set. So if you are working with 20 ads in a set, the budget for 19 ads may go to waste.

Solution: Keep your ads separated. Have no more than five ads in a set.

Issue #8 Too much text in your copy

As mentioned before, Facebook is a place for collecting leads. However, some marketers may end up spilling everything on the campaign copy, going into features and benefits, pros and cons, and so forth. All that make your ad dreary and may kill interest before you even take your customers further in the sales journey.

The best sales process is stepwise. Tell customers about your brand. Introduce the product and build interest. Invite them to learn more and after that to buy. On Facebook ads, keep text to a minimum. Embed a link in your ad copy or image where the interested customer can learn more on your site.

Solution: You can improve the distribution of your ad by reducing text. Use a well-crafted landing page to take your customers further along the buying journey.

Issue #9 You don't test your ads

At SparrowBoost, we know that testing is a big part of every Facebook campaign. Without testing, you end up doing things blindly. Your budgeting, targeting, or ad format and copy design can all be off-track from start to finish. When the campaign ends, you will have very little to show for it in terms of revenue.

A/B testing on Facebook ads can help you determine what works and what doesn't. You try out different ad formats, audiences, or schedules using a small budget first. And when you find a winning formula, you can scale it up with confidence knowing that your money is not going to waste.

Solution: Test your ads before they run. Keep testing in the course of the campaign.

Issue #10 Too much advertising

Most marketers don't know this, but audiences get mentally exhausted from constant marketing messages. Users on Facebook seek a social experience. They log in for relaxation and entertainment, for connections and a good laugh. Now, if you target these people with your different ads every day of the week, many will grow aversive. They might start to unfollow your pages, skip your ads and or even leave negative comments.

Solution: Pause your campaign if your tests reveal stagnated engagement levels. Combine Facebook PPC with an organic strategy. Use paid ads only once in a while and aim to create relationships.

Issue #11 Your offer is drab

If you have not committed any of the above Facebook marketing sins, then the issue is likely not with your ad, but what with your offer. No matter how good a promo is, if the offer is not good, your sales will remain low. One way to diagnose this problem is by testing your click-through and engagement rates. If they are disparately higher than your conversion rates, please consider stopping the campaign and rethinking the offer.

In instances like these, we often advise our clients to re-evaluate the product or service from a client perspective. What problem is it solving? What's in it for me? Why should I get it from you and not company A, B, and C?

Solution: Before launching a Facebook ad, conduct in-depth market research to find out what your customers want.

Issue #12 Not understanding stages in the marketing funnel

Back on targeting and audience segmentation, too many marketers bundle up old customers and potential ones together. This reflects a failure to understand that some audiences may be so far ahead or behind in your buyer journey. Sending a single message to the masses in this manner can waste your budget. A brand awareness message may waste your sales potential when it comes to fans and previous customers. On the other hand, a hard sale could annoy customers that are just getting to know your brand.

Solution 1: Create dedicated ads for the people at each stage of your marketing journey, targeting new customers and old ones differently. Message your fans separately.

Solution 2: Use custom audiences for conversion-centered campaigns. Import your email or phone lists that you have segmented based on response rates.

Issue 13: Copy that is out of touch

Facebook ads don't necessarily need you to have a degree in copywriting to get right. Even so, taking the copy too lightly can cost you. If your competitors are creating compelling advertisements, why would a user navigate to your brand? You waste your budget when you create an uninteresting copy.

  • The best advertising copy establishes a connection between the brand and the customer.
  • The message identifies the buyer's pain points.
  • It establishes the buyer as the hero that deserves better
  • It then concludes by offering the solution to their fears or desires.

Solution: Tell a compelling and logical story. Keep it short and conversational. Keep it simple; avoid jargon, and being too promotional.

Issue #14 Bad timing

For a B2B business, launching a campaign that runs Friday to Monday is a waste. In this case, your target audience is businesses, and these are open during the week. Your weekend campaign will end up producing a lackluster return. If you are a tour company promoting a weekend getaway package, you don't start the campaign on Friday, launch it on Monday. Your campaign must create enough time for decision making and all the other steps in the buyer journey.

Issue #15 Labor intensive marketing

Do you have a whole department focusing on Facebook marketing? Chances are all other channels of advertising are lying unused because of that. Who is handling your Google ads, Bing, or SEO? How are you keeping costs low in terms of labor? Even a successful Facebook campaign could be interpreted as a failure if it busted your budgets in terms of costs and time.

Solution 1: Automate your Facebook marketing activities such as A/B testing and reporting

Solution 2: Outsource your Facebook marketing to a PPC management company to save costs and time

We can help you

At SparrowBoost, we have a whole bag of tricks when it comes to PPC management, whether on Facebook or Google. We have helped many clients meet their marketing goals. Put us to the test. Request a free proposal.

15 Reasons Your Facebook Ads Don't Work (And How To Make Them Profitable)


Daniel Wade

Daniel Wade

After working for multiple digital advertising agencies and managing hundreds of client accounts and spending millions of dollars via Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Native Ads and Direct Media Buying, I took things out on my own and started SparrowBoost. Now, my tight-knit team and I continue to get smarter and more efficient at running our own campaigns and we share our knowledge with you.

Learn more about SparrowBoost