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These 8 Facebook Advertising Mistakes Waste Millions of Dollars Every Year

Want to reach your audience on Facebook, but your page's organic reach is in the single digits? It's time to learn how to advertise, even with a tiny budget.

Remember the good old days… back in 2012? Back when Facebook organic reach was 15%?

Those days are long gone. This is how much organic reach has fallen for the average Facebook page from 2012 to last year:

Facebook organic reach going down

Fast forward to now, when even 2016’s reach is looking like the good old days. According to research from BuzzSumo, Facebook reach fell another 20% just this year. Many experts are now talking about when (not if, but when) we’ll hit the dreaded 0% organic reach.

Some say we’re already there.

You know what all this means, right? It means Facebook is now primarily an advertising platform. It means that if you want your audience to see your posts, it’s time to advertise.

This is not entirely bad news. Sure, for those of us who invested weeks (or years) into our Facebook presence, it stings. But the party’s over. It’s not coming back. What we’re left with is at least a really great advertising platform.

But only if you use it well. These are the most common mistakes preventing people from doing just that:

1. They haven’t set up conversion tracking.

It’s easy to focus on the wrong metrics. Especially if you get rewarded for it. This happens with Facebook ads all the time. We get rewarded for how many clicks an ad gets by paying less for each click.

But it’s not ultimately the clicks that we’re after. It’s conversions. New business, or more business from existing customers. But it’s really easy to get all click-happy and forget about how much actual business each ad generates.

The solution to this is simple. Install Facebook’s Pixel (the new and improved version) on your site on the “thank you” or confirmation page of whatever conversion you want to track and start tracking what really matters. Start optimizing your ads for conversions, not just more clicks.

Facebook conversion tracking

2. They’re creating the wrong type of ads.

Are you just boosting posts and hopes for results? If so, I’ve got good news and bad news. The bad news is that you’re wasting your ad budget. The good news is that if you can pick the right ad type, you’ll start seeing dramatically better results.

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Here’s an example of this from Brian Carter’s website.

How not to waste your Facebook ad budget

3. They’re ignoring their ads’ relevance score.

Research from AdEspresso has found that the cost per click goes down dramatically when ads have a high relevancy score. The click-through rate spikes, too.

Facebook ad relevancy score

So how do you improve your ads’ relevancy score? Basically, create an ad that people really like. This often means you’ll have to create ads that almost seem more like content than ads, or ads that are only loosely related to whatever you’re actually promoting, but that hook into people’s enthusiasms.

The higher the engagement your ad gets, the better its relevancy score will be. But only if it’s positive engagement – negative comments, people hiding your ad – things like that will reduce the relevancy score. Targeting matters, too. You’ll want to be smart about who you choose to show your ads to.

Speaking of which…

4. They’re being sloppy with audience selections.

One of the most powerful features of Facebook advertising is its nearly unrivaled capabilities for selecting audiences. There are a couple of different types of audiences: Core, Custom, and Lookalike.

Core audiences are the simplest. You can pick them based on user demographics, interests, location and other parameters. Here’s what the Audience Insights page in your Facebook account will look like. It’s the starting point for defining a core audience for your ads.

Facebook audiences

The next type of audience is “Custom”. These are more powerful than basic “Core” audiences. If you really want to maximize your ad spend, you should be using Custom Audiences. These can include:

  • Your email subscriber list
  • Your customer list
  • People who have visited your website
  • Anyone who has liked, clicked or shared one of your Facebook posts, or watched one of your Facebook videos

And don’t forget Lookalike audiences, where you basically take the profile of a certain custom audience and try to find clones of those people amongst Facebook’s other users. For instance, you use your email subscriber list to create a Lookalike Audience. Now you’ve got a new group of people to advertise to who are more likely to subscribe to your emails than the average person.

You can define audiences in ad sets. Some Facebook ad experts (like Brian Carter, mentioned above) recommend creating at least three to five different ad sets for each campaign. In other words, picking five different criteria or profiles to target the people you want. It’s more work, but you’re more likely to find that magic profile if you test different approaches.

5. They aren’t split-testing their ads.

Split-testing your ads is smart, wildly cost-effective, but can be a pain in the… URL. Which is why several companies have created tools to make it easier. Just Google “Facebook split-testing tool” and you’ll find them. If your time is precious, they’re almost certainly worth the cost. Managing dozens or even hundreds of Facebook ads can get unwieldy.

But even if you can’t afford a tool like that, or don’t want one, you need to split-test your ads. Otherwise, you’re wasting most of your budget. See Jon Loomer’s post about creative split-testing to get the deep-dive on how to do this.

*Don’t worry about managing the reporting for your different ad creatives. We’ve got that part down.

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6. They never change their ads.

We work so hard to find that one unicorn ad. And so when we do find it, we want to run it for forever.

Alas, it doesn’t work.

There’s a thing called “ad fatigue”, and it can be pronounced on Facebook. Some ads will start to drop in performance after as little as a week. And so you have to keep testing, keep tracking, and keep generating new ads. It’s a bit of work, but the results are worth it.

7. Not optimizing landing pages.

This is a classic advertising mistake, especially for marketers who pay by the click. It’s easy to pour all your energy into setting up the ads and then wimp out in the last step. But your landing pages are critically important.

Never send people directly to your website’s homepage. You’ll probably lose 20-30% of your conversions if you do this, because people don’t expect to have to find what they’re looking for on your site. They don’t want to click around, either – and your ad kind of promised them that they’d get something right after their click.

So take the time to make landing pages. And test those pages nearly as rigorously as you test those ads.

8. They aren’t checking their Facebook advertising reports.

If you don’t look at those reports, you’re really only guessing about what works or not. You’re also probably wasting a lot of money.

Fortunately, this is easy to fix. With a good analytics tool, you can automatically generate and share reports that show exactly what you need to know to improve your ads.

Closing thoughts

We’re not going to lie to you: Facebook advertising is complex. But it’s a platform you almost have to be on, even if you’re in B2B. And as organic reach dwindles to nothing, we really have no choice: Facebook advertising is essential.

That doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. You can set your campaigns to spend as little as $1 a day. And you can get clicks for pennies – if your ads’ relevancy score is high.

Compare that to the crazy-steep $20-30 per click costs for some keywords on AdWords and other platforms. Or the prices for any kind of ad on LinkedIn. Facebook may have taken away a fun market-for-free platform, but it has given us an advertising platform that can work… if you’re willing to work for the results.

Back to you

What do you think is the worst Facebook advertising mistake? Leave a comment and explain why it’s so bad.

Pam Neely
Written By Pam Neely
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