8 Reasons Your Facebook Ads Aren’t Working

If your Facebook ads aren’t working as well as you want, it’s likely due to several reasons. The Facebook ad platform allows for a lot of flexibility for the individual user. This is good and bad, as the more flexibility we the users have, the more prone we are to running unsuccessful ad campaigns.

If you’re having trouble driving conversions through Facebook advertising, it’s likely due to one of the below reasons.

1. Bad Audience Targeting

Undertargeting and over-targeting are both the enemy. Facebook allows you to target people on the platform based on age, sex, location, interests, job, income level, likely behaviors and much more. The options are seemingly endless.

This is a great feature of Facebook if used correctly.

Before you ever log into Facebook Ad Manager, you should have your target audience defined. Your campaign has to have an over-arching goal; Facebook outlines this into the below categories.

facebook ad audience

What you decide on above will greatly affect the level of targeting you should be doing. If you’re going for brand awareness, starting with a much broader audience is a good approach. However, as you move from awareness to consideration to conversion your ads should be targeted at more specific audiences.

Not Setting Up a Facebook Pixel

Facebook not only lets you target people based on their behavior on the platform but also based on their activity with facets of your business. By installing a Facebook pixel on your website you can begin to track conversions on existing ad efforts, retarget to people who have visited your website.

facebook pixel setup

Once you get here, Facebook will walk you through the rest of the pixel installation process. For more check out our blog on  setting up Facebook Pixels.

Not Leveraging Emails Collected

If you have an email list, you can import this list via .csv file and Facebook will do its best to match emails with existing Facebook users for you to market to, creating a custom audience for you. This lets you leverage your brand exposure via email again within Facebook.

This is important because in marketing, ‘The Rule of Seven,’ is widely spoken on, as the number of times a customer needs to see your brand within an 18-month period for you to be present in their buying decision.

Now, a quick Google search on this will bring up varying responses, ranging from 3 to 21 times as a suggested amount of brand touches before the customer makes a purchase. The truth is there’s no exact science, but there’s a strong correlation between the number of times a customer sees your brand and their willingness to purchase from it.

2. No Real Budget

Spending $50 on Facebook advertising will not drive any reasonable return for your business. This is just the truth.

To make a dent on Facebook (or any advertising) your business has to be committed to the process and with real ad spend to back it up. It’s common for companies to have an ad spend allocated to traditional methods (print) in recurring yearly budgets. If you’re part of a larger organization it would be valuable to argue for the migration of ad spend from older methods into things such as Facebook advertising.

The reason we advocate this is two-fold. (i) The bang for your buck with Facebook is still tremendously high compared to other ad platforms, and (ii) this is where US consumers are spending 40 minutes of their day.

3. Bad Creative

The creative is what stops the consumer, the copy is what pulls them in. Getting consumer attention is no small task, however, there are some tricks to use when it comes to your ad creative.

Facebook gives you options, from single photo ads to carousel to video – there’s a lot of options. In each of these formats, your creative will be very important.

Single Photo Ads

Single photo ads are the most common type of ads put on Facebook. They look like a standard Facebook post, appearing with text, your page name and the photo of your choosing. With photos, you should use text overlays to maximize impact; however, make sure the text is no more than 20% of the image. By doing this, your ad will get better exposure.

spiker ad

The mobile Facebook ad for Spiker above is a good example of creative maximizing their text space within the creative.They emphasize a value proposition and call-to-action without taking up much space on the creative.

Carousel Posts

carousel ads

Carousel ads allow you to string together multiple photos to tell your ads story. These are highly underutilized, and according to Kinetic Social, they perform 10X better than single image photos when it comes to click-through-rate (CTR).

Video Ads

Video ads, undoubtedly, take the most money to create. Whether it’s an animated video or a commercial – it can get pricey with production. That being said, when it comes to ad performance, videos present an interesting option. Video ads automatically play within Facebook, giving you a chance to grab consumers’ attention right away. More importantly, the amount of information you can share with a video is grossly higher than that of a single photo or carousel photo ad.

Video ads are great if you can get over the initial production hurdles.

4. Relevance Score

Like Google Adwords, Facebook gives you a relevance score based on how well your advertisement is resonating with the people seeing it – does your message match the targeting? The higher the relevance, the less it’s going to cost you to get in front of your audience.

Look at this example right from Facebook.


5. Bad Copy

Copy will make or break your Facebook ad. If it’s compelling and concise you’ve got a chance to capture your audience’s attention. Long-winded and unclear text is not good for Facebook. This is partially due to the average human being’s attention span being eight seconds.

Facebook ads have three copy sections: headline, text, and newsfeed link description. All three of these have their own best practices. The screenshot below shows where all three of these are in ads manager and how they affect advertisements. If your Facebook ads aren’t working, take a hard look at changing around these sections

facebook ads arent working


Adespresso  did a study, looking at over 37,000 Facebook advertisements and found the average headline was five words in length. This means advertisers are putting an emphasis on clarity, and so should you. If your ads aren’t performing, make sure your headline is clear and concise.

Let’s breakdown some headlines of ads that came across my Facebook feed.

Bad Headline Example

bad facebook headline

This ad has a plethora of issues but for the sake of this post, we’ll stick to looking at the headline. The copy doesn’t differentiate between the headline and text – this is wasting space with redundancy. The headline takes up three lines of text and is riddled with grammatical errors. I haven’t seen their metrics, but I’d bet these Facebook ads aren’t working too well. A more suitable headline may have been, “Earn More for Designing Websites.”

Good Headline Example

Good Facebook Headline

Simplicity is a thing of beauty. This headline from the University of Syracuse is short but also clearly tells me I can receive a degree online.


The text section allows you to give more information surrounding your advertisement. It’s where you can add additional context to the headline you used. Brevity is key here. If you’re using too much text, it could be a reason your Facebook ads aren’t working.

Good Text Example

facebook ad

Squadlocker has a great advertisement above. Their text is limited to a single line (best practice) with a playful call to action. It sells the audience on how easy it is to start their own store. No confusing text, no long paragraphs, just clarity.

Bad Text Example

bad ad text

This ad from Morris Invest is an interesting one to look at. It has the proper headline structure (short and clear), but lacks format and grammar in the text section. It also points to a website which is not Morris Invest, but third-party landing page generators (these can be masked with your URL for a nominal fee with Lead Pages/Unbounce). Grammar aside, it actually cuts the last word off and asks the user to click to see more.

facebook text

If you can’t get the audience’s attention in a sentence, you won’t be able to do it in a paragraph.

6. Not Testing

Split testing allows for you to run multiple ad variations and make improvements based on your audience’s reaction to each advertisement. In marketing, this commonly referred to as A/B testing, and it’s essential for digital campaigns. As marketers, all we can do is make our best guess on which ads will perform better than others. At the end of the day, the data has to tell the story.

Testing is done with targeting or with copy/creative. The latter is the most common.

Below is an example of a $20 ‘like’ campaign I ran for this article. The top ad performed better, driving home likes for 19 cents cheaper than the other ad.

cave likes


7. Landing Pages Don’t Match the Ads

If your ad doesn’t resemble the landing page you drive the consumer to, you’re lacking a message match. This leads to higher abandonment rates, ultimately hurting your bottom line.

Let’s look at some examples and see why these Facebook ads aren’t working.

Example of a Bad Message Match

message match

The ad above has weak copy, but nonetheless, it says come and view loan options.

However, when the user clicks through they are brought to the homepage for PRMI with “What Will it Cost?” as the primary message. A proper message match would have led the user to a landing page where the messaging said, “View Our Loan Options” with a call-to-action for the user to fill out a form.



Example of Good Message Match

Squarespace’s advertisement is simple and hits on their message, “Make your next website.” Their landing page, as seen below matches the advertisement the consumer saw. So when the consumer clicks through there is familiarity and consistency.

message match


8. Your Product Sucks

This might be a tough pill to swallow, but all of the above tactics mean nothing if your product sucks.

If you’re looking for more Facebook marketing advice, check out this episode of In the Cave.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our channel on YouTube to see all of the latest In The Cave episodes!


Want more marketing tips? Subscribe to our newsletter.

cave social videos to watch
how to start social media
chrome extensions for marketers in the cave
in the cave episode 20 social media predictions