7 Facebook Advertising Mistakes
That Are Burning Your Money

Jacob McMillen

Even those who have done Facebook advertising for awhile can be making mistakes they’re unaware of…

In 2012, 42% of marketers said that Facebook was either CRITICAL or important to their business.

That constitutes a 75% increase from 2009.


facebook advertising

That’s a significant increase – image source

Why are so many businesses invested in Facebook marketing?
It all comes down to leads and conversions.

facebook ads

Time to zone in on those paid Facebook ads image source


The statistics are there.

The revenue is there.

The opportunity is there.

You’re excited to dive in, but like many marketers and business owners, you might be firing blindly, hoping to hit your target.

Perhaps you read a few tips online and are hoping those tips will translate to revenue.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of bad advice out there, and even more common, a lot of bad application of the good advice.


Today, we are looking at some of the worst mistakes Facebook advertisers make.

These bad ideas will drain your capital without producing the results you’re hoping to achieve.

Forget the good, the bad, and the ugly… these are just straight ugly.


Mistake #1: Failing to define a goal

If you didn’t already know this, paid advertising is ALL about specificity.

Certain channels allow you to shoot from the hip and see what drops, but when it comes to investing money into paid Facebook ads, this philosophy essentially amounts to burning cash in a campfire.


facebook advertising

Zero in on those goals – image source


The FIRST step to any successful ad campaign is a strictly defined goal.

What is your target

  • Subscriptions?
  • Donations?
  • Purchases?
  • Likes?
  • Total revenue?
  • Downloads?
  • Phone calls?

If you don’t know what you want, you won’t get any of it whatsoever.

But this is just the beginning.

Now we need to define quantity.

How many of these actions are we hoping to attain?


  • 300 total subscriptions?
  • 40 purchases per week?
  • 25 downloads per day?
  • 15 incoming calls per month?

If you don’t define a quantity, how will know when you’ve reached it?

How will you determine when you campaign is successful?

Once we’ve defined WHAT we want and HOW MUCH of it we want, we need to define what we’re willing to pay for it.


  • $5 per calling lead?
  • $0.50 per subscriber?
  • $15 per purchase?
  • $300 total campaign spending?

Once, and ONLY once, you’ve defined your specific, 3-part goal, you’re ready to continue with your Facebook ad campaign.


Mistake #2: Casting a wide net

Specificity doesn’t just apply to your goals.

It should also be a central tenant of your target audience.

The more narrowly you can define your audience, the more effective you will be at reaching them.

The ideal sales pitch is a 1-to-1 conversation, but since online marketing is all about scale, we want to reach as many people as possible while maintaining the feel of a 1-to-1 pitch.

For example, let’s say you’re a guitarist living in San Francisco.

You see an ad for musicians.


Maybe you’re interested.

There are a large number of focuses covered under “musician” that might have nothing to do with you.

Now you see an ad for San Francisco musicians.

You are probably more likely to click.

After all, this ad is relevant to you on 2 different levels.

It is more specific to you than most advertisements you come across.

Now let’s say you see an ad mentioning a special opportunity for guitarists in San Francisco.

There’s no way you aren’t going to click on this ad.

It’s like someone is talking to YOU.

There may be 10,000 guitarists in San Francisco, but at that level of specificity, you still feel uniquely singled out, and this is precisely the goal of any successful advertising campaign.

Create something that resonates with a narrowly defined target customer.

This specificity is also incredibly important once we start creating the ads themselves.


Mistake #3: Not creating enough ads

One of the biggest mistakes Facebook advertisers make is thinking that creating a few ads and watching them run is good enough.

This post-and-run strategy WILL lose you money – maybe a lot of money.

Successfully Facebook advertising is a process.

You start with 5-10 ads, run them for 1-2 weeks, and then select the top 2-3 performers.

Next, you take the top performers and run them across 5-10 demographic/interest variations within your target customer profile.

Select the top performing 2-3 demographic/interest profiles.

For example, if you are selling small business software to small business owners, you could run ads targeting any number of interest/demographic profiles:


  • Ages 20-25
  • Females, Ages 30-35
  • Males, Interested in SaaS, Apple, & Marketing

Finally, once you’ve identified your top performing demographic profiles, create 5-10 variations of your top performing ads, run them for 2-3 weeks to your target profiles, and again, select the top 2-3 performers.

Facebook advertising is all about testing, analyzing and retesting.

It takes a large number of ad attempts to do this right.

If you want results, you have to be willing to keep up.

You have to be willing to continuously tinker with your ads and monitor your results.


Mistake #4: Failing to test every aspect of your ad

Continuing on our theme of testing and retesting, another big mistake I see marketers making is failing to test every aspect of their Facebook ads.

What many businesses fail to realize is that the highest converting image isn’t always the most obvious choice.

Take a look at the images below.

Which would you pick as the top performer?


good facebook advertising

Take your pick – image source


Personally I’d pick the bottom row as having the best candidates, with #2 and #4 on that row being the highest converters.

… and I’d be dead wrong.

In reality, the best performer, BY FAR, was the somewhat random assortment of decorations.

Who knew, right?


facebook advertising images

Go figure.


I would never have guessed this, and I’m guessing you probably didn’t either, and that’s precisely why testing every aspect of your ad is important.

In addition to images you should be testing:


  • Headline copy
  • Descriptive text for native ads
  • Ad placement
  • CTA
  • Posting time
  • Target demographic
  • Target interests

If it’s part of the ad, it should be tested and re-tested.

If you keep taking the best performers and refining them, you are going to do alright.


Mistake #5: Neglecting your fans

Some companies invest in increasing the like count on their Facebook fan page, and then… that’s it.

They use paid advertising to continue getting more likes.

End of story.

If you aren’t actively marketing to your EXISTING fans, you’re making a massive mistake.

While I really want to say that “fans” aka page likes are worthless, the reality is that this isn’t true.

Facebook fans can be extremely valuable, but ONLY if you actively market to them.

When you target existing page fans with your Facebook ads, you can expect to see a 700% increase in click-throughs.

700%!!! Why?

Because you are advertising to people already interested in your business.

But honestly, how important are click-throughs?

The REAL question is how well do these users convert?

The answer to that is even more impressive.

Existing fans convert as much as 400% more often than non-fans.

Imagine seeing a +400% conversion rate on your ads?

That’s insane.


Loyal fans are worth targeting – image source


While a certain amount of targeting is possible in any Facebook ad campaign, targeting fans allows you to go after users with the most important quality a target consumer can have – interest in your business offer.

Don’t forget your fans!


Mistake #6: No landing page

This may seem like a no brainer, but a lot of businesses run ad campaigns WITHOUT first setting up an optimized landing page.

Instead of sending paid traffic to a highly targeted (aka highly effective) page designed specifically to handle that traffic, they send click-throughs directly to their home page or Facebook fan page.

Failing to set up a dedicated landing page for your Facebook ad campaigns is a HUGE mistake!

If you’ve followed my tips up to this point, you are bringing in highly targeted traffic to your website.

You have invested time and money into creating an ad campaign that is finding and compelling a selection of your ideal consumers to follow the yellow brick road.

Failing to set up a landing page is like paying a taxi to pick up a potential client, and then having the client dropped a block down the street.


If you’re going to bring them all this way, you should have a custom reception waiting for them.

That’s what a landing page is: a custom reception for your ad-acquired traffic.

It’s your number one weapon in converting social media users into customers.

Your home page and fan page can’t get the job done.

You NEED a landing page.


Mistake #7: Letting non-buyers get away

So we’ve put all the pieces together and we are avoiding all the common mistakes, and we are sending targeted traffic to targeted landing pages.

The unfortunate reality is that, even now, it’s still a numbers game.

You will convert at maybe 5%… 10% if you make an epic landing page with the perfect offer.

So what happens to the other 90% of non-buyers who were interested enough to click-through to your site, maybe hang around and read your full pitch, but just weren’t ready to convert?

If the answer is “nothing”, you are making a MONUMENTAL mistake!

You paid for these people.

Their behavior lets you know they are interested in your product.

These folks are a GOLD MINE for your future marketing efforts.

Don’t waste them!

Don’t let them get away!


We’ve come all this way, now it’s time to close the deal! – image source

You might be thinking, “But they didn’t buy. What more can we do?”

There are at least two great ways to take advantage of your non-buying visitors:
1) Make a secondary, low-friction offer.
2) Run a retargeting ad campaign.

Let’s say our primary goal is to get a purchase, but the visitor fails to purchase.

While they might not be ready to buy our primary offer now, we might be able to get them to purchase a lower cost item or subscribe to our email list for future marketing.

This is our secondary offer, and the lower the friction – the easier it is for visitors to say “yes” – the higher our conversion rate will be.

When making a secondary offer, we have a significant psychological advantage.

The principle of reciprocity tells us that people feel obligated to make a concession once they have rejected a request or offer.

If you made a great pitch, and readers felt positively about your brand and offer – but were simply unable to purchase – they will feel psychologically compelled to give you a “yes” afterward, particularly if that “yes’ doesn’t cost them anything more than an email address.
By running this secondary offer, you will have an ever growing list of prime leads to which you can market in the future.

Another option is to run a retargeting campaign, which essentially automates the above process, but at a cost. 

Instead of collecting emails and pitching, retargeting attaches cookies to incoming visitors and then continues to run your ads to them after they leave.

For example, if Joe checks out your home improvement supplies but doesn’t buy, the next retargeting-capable website he visits will display your ads on his screen.

You can continue to advertise to him, giving him more and more reminders about your product which he wasn’t quite ready to buy previously but might consider purchasing in the future.

Whether you implement secondary offers, retargeting ad, or a mixture of both, the important thing is to STOP wasting your ad traffic!

So, here you have it; you never have to make these money-wasting mistakes again!

Always remember that paid marketing is about specificity.

There should always be a goal and a thought-out, intentional funnel to accomplish that goal.

For more on Facebook marketing, check out this Facebook Ads Master List: 20 Tips For EPIC Results!

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