The 5 Biggest Facebook Ad Mistakes

Love Sports animated GIFWe’ve run more than $1 million in Facebook ad spend for clients of all sizes, with goals ranging from fan growth to selling products and services online. We get sales and leads and engagement for them- whatever their goal is. We test constantly to ensure that the ad costs are as low as possible, and that the ad spend goes to the best performing ads.

Some companies get profits, or super low-cost leads- but other companies fail with Facebook ads. No matter how powerful Facebook ads CAN be, there are some common mistakes that prevent Facebook ads from getting you great results.


You need to get all five of these things right if you want to even have a chance of getting great Facebook ads results.

Mistake #1 Having The Wrong Goals Or No Goals

When you create a Facebook ad, the first thing it asks you is what your objective is:

fbadgoalsEgo Egotistic animated GIFEach ad should have a goal, and you need to know what metric measures your success with that goal.

For example:

  • Website clicks: measure the cost per click (or cost per conversions if you’re tracking that)
  • Website conversions: measure the cost per lead or cost per sale
  • Page Post Engagement: measure the cost per engagement
  • Page Likes: measure the cost per fan

Those are the most common objectives. By focusing on “cost per” metrics, you can improve effectiveness without increasing the ad spend.

SOLUTION: If you can track a lead or sale, definitely test the website conversion ad type. Test that against a website clicks ad, and against promoting a post that has the link to the landing page in it.

Use the Facebook conversion pixel and add parameters to your links with Google URL Builder (or Google Analytics will count many of them as “Direct”).

Mistake #2 Not Creating Enough Ads

A rookie mistake is to go in and create one ad and think you’re done. Nope, far from it. If you only create one, chances are you created one that will underperform.

The only way to find the 20% of ads that get 80% of the results is to create at least five versions of your ad.


SOLUTION: You need to test different objectives, headlines, images and targeting. For every ad idea you have, you need to create five versions.

So, for just one headline and copy idea, you could test five images, and two or three ad objectives- right there that’s 15 ads (1 headline x 1 body copy x 5 images x 3 objectives)

Mistake #3 Putting Everything in One Ad Set

An ad group is where you get to choose your budget, and you can put a ton of ads in each ad group, but Facebook is probably going to give most of the reach in an ad set to just one of your ads. So, you’ve got to “keep them separated”.

If you put 20 ads in an ad set, most of them will not be shown to enough people for you to know if they would work or not.

SOLUTION: Create a different ad set for each test- no more than five ads per ad set.

You can organize ad sets however you want- here are some options:

  • Based on your targeting
  • Based on your goal
  • Based on your creative
  • Based on a combo, e.g. one type of targeting for one goal, vs. another type of targeting for another goal

Watch how much reach each ad gets. If one hasn’t reached more than a few hundred, it probably hasn’t been adequately tested and could be put in its own ad set:

  1. Click on it to expand
  2. Click on “create a similar ad”
  3. Change the ad set to a new ad set
  4. Submit it

Mistake #4 Not Testing Targeting

There are many ways to cut an onion, and there’s more than one way to target the people you want to reach.

Rookies tend to create one ad with a ton of interests in them, which may work, but you also need to test more granularly- just a few interests per ad.

You can also slice and dice by age, gender, workplace and more, so if you want to see how people 25-34 respond vs. 35-44, you need at least two ads for that; maybe two ad sets if you’re also testing different images.

SOLUTION: Test the same creative (image, headline, body) against multiple targets by creating several ads. See which gets you the best results, then test more creative against the best targeting criteria.

For example: Want to reach journalists? You could target

  • The interest of journalism
  • Their educational field of study, or
  • The workplace of specific newspapers and TV stations.

Mistake #5 Crappy Landing Pages

If you don’t know what a “squeeze page is”, we need to talk.

People are more likely to respond if you ask them to do just one thing- This is called a “call to action”. Make sure there’s only one thing they can do on the landing page.

There is only one option on a squeeze page, and we’re trying to “squeeze” most of its visitors through that action into the next segment in the marketing funnel. You get more results when you ask for just one specific thing.

What happens when you don’t squeeze them? Let’s say you send them to your website’s contact page and there are 20 other thing they could click on. Chances are:

  • Fewer people will do what you want (conversion rate goes down)
  • Cost per lead goes up (CPL = CPC/CR).

That’s bad. Our goal is always to lower clients’ cost per sale and cost per lead.

SOLUTION: Optimize your landing pages. Try a service like LeadPages. Do split-tests to see what makes people convert at a higher rate.

Bonus: Mistake #6 Neglect

Apathy David Bowie animated GIFIf you create ads but never check them, you won’t do well. The bad ones may take up all your reach. The good ones will stop working once the finite audience you chose tires of them. Your spend won’t be efficient. You’ll waste money and miss out on profits.

SOLUTION: You must check how your ads are performing at least weekly. If you’re spending more than $500 a day, you might need to check every other day. Create new ads to replace those that burn out.