7 Budget-Wasting Facebook Ad Mistakes (+ How to Avoid Them)
The Facebook Ads platform has been around for nearly a decade now and over that time, it’s gone through a number of iterations. Best practices come and go, new features are constantly being added, and it’s easier than ever to make a simple mistake that could cause your ad campaigns to fall short of your goals.
In this post, I’m going to cover seven common mistakes advertisers make when running Facebook ads:
- Letting your ad creative get stale.
- Optimizing for the wrong objective.
- Failing to understand budget controls.
- Over segmenting audiences.
- Not checking audience overlaps.
- Controlling placements rather than customizing.
- Failing to nurture top of funnel audiences to bottom of funnel.
For each mistake, I'll explain how to avoid them and provide resources that can help.
Avoid these 7 Facebook ad mistakes
Some of the best lessons we learn are from mistakes. But who says they have to be your mistakes? Here are the most common ones I've seen that you can learn from.
1. Letting your ad creative get stale
Have you ever been on Facebook and felt like you were seeing the same ads over and over and over again? We all have. It’s not enjoyable for you, so why put your audience through it?
Not only can ad fatigue cause your performance with those assets to decline, but you’re also creating negative mental associations with your brand in your potential customers' minds.
Although making new creative is likely one of the more time-consuming actions for social ads, there are some ways to help cut down on the time it takes to churn out more ad creatives:
Look around for inspiration
Looking at other Facebook ad creatives can be a great way to get ideas for new posts. The ads don’t even have to be from your industry or vertical as you’re mostly looking for layout, tone, and creative ideas. Facebook has its own page aptly named Facebook Ads Inspiration, but there are also lots of blog posts out there from agencies you can find with a simple Google Search.
Use stock images
One misconception I come across is that all creative has to be entirely unique and custom created. Although that certainly is the dream, it’s not the case when there are plenty of sites that curate free or low-cost stock imagery for reuse. Don’t be shy about using stock photography in your creatives because honestly, some of it is really good.
Leverage design tools
If you have the time to create new ads but you have no idea how to use Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator (like me), there are still options out there. Sites like Canva, my personal favorite, allow you to use premade templates to design new Facebook ads in just a few quick clicks. The interface is very user-friendly and can save tons of time.
Look into creative marketplaces
If you simply don’t have the time to churn out new creatives, even with stock photography and easy tools like Canva, it might make sense for you to look into a service like Design Pickle. They offer a number of different tiers that can help you get new creatives on a regular basis at a fairly low cost.
For more ways to get creative with your creative, check out our seven free tools to design Facebook ads like a pro.
2. Optimizing for the wrong objective
Facebook has a number of ways to optimize for your goals, and for some, these options can get confusing.
At the highest level, the campaign objectives each have their own actions they’re optimizing for. Choosing the right campaign objective can be a huge step in the right direction. If you need help choosing a campaign objective, you can check out this video.
In addition to the campaign level actions, there are also Optimization & Delivery adjustments that can be made at the ad set level for nearly all campaigns.
For example, within a Conversions campaign, you’re able to choose from the drop-down above for the ad set level optimization. Based on what you’re looking for, be sure you’re choosing the right actions here as well. The video linked above will also show you each of the options you have available within each campaign type, to help you make sure you have all the right settings in place from top to bottom.
3. Failing to understand the nuances of budget controls
When it comes to budget management, Facebook has some of the widest-ranging options in the digital advertising realm. These different options are great tools for seasoned advertisers, but for those who aren’t as familiar they can be fairly confusing.
Daily budgets, for example, help balance out spend to be consistent day over day, but while your campaigns will still try and gain as many of your conversion objectives as possible, it will also work to spend your entire budget each day regardless of conversion performance.
Lifetime budgets, on the other hand, help to optimize within days for your goals, but don’t always reach the target spend each day, making pacing more difficult.
That’s not to mention using ad scheduling and other tools.
If you’re not seeing the results you want from your Facebook campaigns or feel like you’re not getting the most for your budget, check out this post that covers the nuances of each budgeting type and be sure you’re set up for success.
4. Over-segmenting audiences
If you come from a Search background, odds are you like to have pretty clean campaign structures with highly segmented campaigns and ad groups so you’re able to optimize for what is and isn’t working. I know I do.
But sometimes, having too tight of a hold on your audiences can be a detriment on Facebook. Just like objective optimization, we need to ensure we have enough data for Facebook to go on and see success.
If you’re segmenting your audiences too far and putting them into different ad sets, you’ll likely never get out of Facebook’s learning phase.
This can cause you to miss KPIs and under-serve your audience as a whole.
Additionally, the smaller your audience is on Facebook, the higher CPMs you’ll pay. This means it’s more expensive to reach the same audience if you’ve broken up targeting options into 10 different ad sets rather than 3-4.
Where possible, try to keep your audience mappings logical, but don’t narrow them too far. Depending on the account, I typically shoot for anywhere between 2 and 40 million users in a target audience to keep things focused and give Facebook enough performance data to optimize on.
5. Not checking audience overlaps
Now just because you’re not over-segmenting your audiences doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. You can also err on the other end of the spectrum.
With all of the different targeting options Facebook has, it can be easy to build out tons of different audiences trying to reach the same users. The problem is, sometimes users fall into multiple different targeting options and based on your setup, could be showing up in multiple different groups.
This can cause issues for a few reasons:
- It can be unclear which targeting options are working best. Users with feet in different pools can convert and Facebook will choose the most recent audience they were in to see the conversion, which isn’t always the one that had the greatest impact.
- Ad creative fatigue can set in much quicker if you’re serving ads to users from multiple different ad sets or campaigns. The frequency numbers we see will only correlate to that individual ad set or campaign, so fully understanding saturation across those levels can be difficult.
To help avoid this issue, Facebook has a tool called the Audience Overlap tool which allows you to compare the audience make-ups of saved, lookalike, and custom audiences within your Facebook audience manager. For more on how to do this, check out this post.
6. Controlling placements rather than customizing
The Facebook and Instagram networks are pretty vast and that means your ads can show up in a number of placements around the web.
When users get to the Placements portion of the ad set controls, it can be very tempting to pick and choose which to have your ad show up in. But that’s not always in your best interest.
First of all, the audience you target will always be the same regardless of which placement you’re serving your ads from. All too often I hear people worried that showing ads on the Audience Network means you’ll be targeting new users. That simply isn’t true. The audience will always rely on the same targeting options as any other.
Second, removing placements gives the Facebook algorithm less options to work with to try and get the results you want. Since the audience is the same, Facebook will sometimes serve ads to a user in a lower volume, lower cost placement that can help drive incremental revenue for you. As seen above, although this campaign has low service to this placement, it has great returns that we wouldn’t have seen without it.
Show up in all placements first, and customize from there
The way to overcome this problem is to show up in all placements, at least at first, and leverage Facebook tools that allow you to customize your ads by each placement. This ensures your creatives look good no matter where they show up and will allow you to make a data-driven decision on which placements to keep and which to avoid.
For more on customizing Facebook ads by placement, check out this video.
7. Failing to nurture top of funnel audiences to bottom of funnel
The last mistake I commonly see on Facebook is a lack of follow-through. Facebook has tons of different campaign objectives, each with their own unique focus, but in the best accounts, all of these campaigns work in concert with each other to create a full buyer journey.
If you’re leveraging Reach, Engagement, or Video Views campaigns to gain brand awareness, ideally you’ll be creating remarketing lists of users that engaged with those campaigns and targeting them later with a more mid to bottom-funnel call to action.
This could be as simple as bringing them to your website for ungated content, asking for a lead generation form fill for gated content, or as complex as requesting a demo or making a purchase on a landing page.
When it comes down to it, we’re all using online marketing to get more customers, so if you’re spending the time to build your top-of-funnel marketing, why aren’t you nurturing them through to the stages that actually generate revenue?
Avoid these Facebook ad mistakes and reach your goals
There are quite a number of things you can do on Facebook that can cause issues, but almost invariably there are easy solutions. If you see that your Facebook campaigns aren’t doing as well as you’d like, be sure you’re not making any of these common mistakes before thinking something more nefarious is afoot.
So, instead of making these mistakes, be sure to do the following:
- Use tools to get inspiration for new creative, such as Facebook Ads Inspiration, canvas, or even stock photos.
- Make sure you have a clear understanding of campaign objectives so you can make the appropriate optimizations.
- Make sure you understand the nuances of budget controls.
- Keep your target audiences between 2 and 40 million users to collect enough data.
- Use the Audience Overlap tool to make sure you’re not serving the same ads to the same users multiple times.
- Make sure you start with all placements and then refine once you’ve collected data.
- Set up your campaigns such that each one is a different part of the same buyer journey.
Are there any mistakes you have made or seen? Let us know in the comments!