Are your Facebook ad campaigns underperforming? Wondering how to diagnose the problem?

In this article, you’ll discover seven common factors that impede Facebook ad performance and find troubleshooting tips for fixing them.

7 Reasons Your Facebook Ads Do Not Convert by Marie Page on Social Media Examiner.

7 Reasons Your Facebook Ads Do Not Convert by Marie Page on Social Media Examiner.

#1: You’re Targeting Your Facebook Ads to the Wrong People

The Ads Manager wizard guides you step by step in creating ads and part of that process is completing the Detailed Targeting box. You add in a slew of interests and behaviors, and instantly your mindset is focused on new customers—people you’ve never met before but who at least fit the profile of the ideal persona.

This kind of targeting is what we’ve all been taught as marketers: Define your ideal customer, create a persona, and target your ads accordingly.

Browse the Detailed Targeting options for Facebook ads.

However, this targeting is to a cold audience, and your ad copy may well be aimed at people much further down the funnel. Why take the difficult road when there’s an easier path?

How to Fix This: Your targeting priority should be your low-hanging fruit; that is, target people you know are interested in you. I know it’s a cliché but it’s worth revisiting when you’re looking at spending a small fortune on Facebook ads. Who might these people be? Take a look at this list:

  • Your existing customers
  • People who have recently responded to a lead magnet
  • Your mailing list (which you’ve honed and kept warm with lots of informative newsletters)
  • People who have clicked on your Facebook ads or watched your videos
  • People who have been clicking around your website or spending time on a particular page

They might also be your Facebook fans. But be aware that some pages have a legacy of dubious fan acquisitions (buying fans, and those lured by competitions) or simply a fan base that was acquired many years ago and now is pretty stale.

Options for creating a Facebook custom audience

All of the people in the list above know who you are, they like what you do, and they’ll be open to offers.

#2: You’re Targeting the Right People With the Wrong Message

One reason your Facebook ads may not be converting is that you’re targeting people who could be the perfect customer in the future, with the wrong ad for where they are in the customer journey. The ad copy is better suited for people much further down the marketing funnel.

You’re effectively proposing marriage on the first date.

How to Fix This: Use a funnel marketing approach that will segment people by different stages in the customer journey and serve them Facebook ads according to where they are. It may take a series of ads but it’s an approach that works.

Facebook’s campaign objectives support this approach with three distinct categories:

  • Awareness: For a cold audience that probably doesn’t even know who you are or for re-engaging an audience you haven’t talked to in a while
  • Consideration: For a warm audience that’s aware of who you are and might like a little more information before being in a frame of mind to buy
  • Conversion: For a hot audience that’s positively disposed toward you and is ready to buy

Facebook campaign objectives for cold, warm and hot audiences.

The Facebook ads you design for a cold audience will be entirely different from those for a warm or hot audience.

The TOFU (top of the funnel), MOFU (middle of the funnel), and BOFU (bottom of the funnel) models are also relevant. Funnel marketing theory is closely aligned with the customer journey. You take people through the funnel to conversion at the bottom.

Graphic of TOFU (top of the funnel), MOFU (middle of the funnel), and BOFU (bottom of the funnel) models

Top of the Funnel

At this stage, you want the audience to know you exist and have interesting content that addresses their pain points. That content may well be what draws people to find you in the first place. To illustrate, web searches lead them to a blog post, or an interest-targeted ad on Facebook pops up in their news feed at just the right time.

Your content should be educational and entertaining, and emphasize your expertise in the problems your target is facing.

In terms of ads, sell the brand, not a product. Free guides, white papers, checklists, informative articles, and videos work well. Many of these will be delivered via read and lead magnets, which are likely to be found via ads or search.

Facebook ad example top of funnel

Middle of the Funnel

At this stage, you have a solution to your audience’s pain points but you’re not going to hard sell it to them right now. Potential buyers are in evaluation mode, figuring out what to do about their problems. They’re interested in stories about people who share their pain (and have overcome it), and articles that examine the issues they’re wrestling with and teach them how to choose a solution.

Your Facebook ads should drive connection and commitment while building trust in your brand. Content types might include webinars, buying guides, and spec sheets.

Bottom of the Funnel

At the bottom of the funnel, folks are ready to buy and just need that perfect offer such as a free trial, a webinar, or an online chat. This is the point where ads should start to become more salesy and more like, well, ads. Offer discounts wrapped around urgency and scarcity messages to push the conversion. Case studies and testimonials that demonstrate the value of your product work well.

Facebook ad example bottom of funnel

Look at the TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU model and match up your own ad campaigns with it. Have you been plying TOFUs and MOFUs with offers, and wondering why they aren’t converting?

Marketing communications are a process. People rarely convert the first time they see an ad, but the solution is rarely to keep showing them the same ad time and again. The trick is to show them an ad that’s at the right stage of the customer journey for them. Once they’ve engaged with that content (watched the video, viewed the blog post, signed up for the lead magnet), start warming them up with the next set of ads.

#3: You’re Targeting the Right People With the Wrong Types of Facebook Ads

You have some fantastic video content on your website or Facebook page, and people are responding to it. You decide to retarget them with an ad, but you use static images in the ad or a click to website ad.

If you know this target audience has responded to video once, why aren’t you serving them up a video ad? It’s really not rocket science.

Format options for Facebook ads

How to Fix This: Start using the Facebook ad types that your audience has shown a preference for.

#4: Your Targeting Is Too Broad

So, despite the recommendations above to target low-hanging fruit and then retarget from there, you’re still intent on interest and behavioral targeting. I know; it’s tempting.

But at least if you’re doing that, use the Detailed Targeting tool to its full potential.

How to Fix This: Rather than build interest lists that simply grow with each new interest added, use the Detailed Targeting tool to narrow your market. In doing so, you’ll reach fewer people but they’ll be much more likely to convert.

Let’s look at an example of how detailed targeting works. Suppose you want to target women who like a combination of British fashion brands.

Graphic of Facebook detailed targeting example

Facebook’s detailed targeting lets you use Boolean logic to target women who like Joules, Monsoon, or Whitestuff. If you click Narrow Further, you can target women who like Boden, Mint Velvet, or Phase Eight. Set up your targeting to match at least one brand from each list.

Use the Narrow Further option with Facebook detailed targeting

Just like that, you’ve reduced your target market from over a million (these are the people who like any one of those six brands) to just the 99,000 people who like two of them. This audience segment is much more likely to be in the target market you have in mind of women likely to buy classy, fashionable mid-priced clothing.

#5: You’re Pitching Sales to a Cold Audience

Go look at your news feed now and count how many Facebook ads are pushing a sales pitch at you. Many of these ads are likely from brands that you’ve never heard of nor engaged with. Are you responding? Probably not.

How to Fix This: Save your sales pitch for retargeting ads, where you show a very specific ad to a very specific person, such as an ad about one of your products because they’ve visited a web page talking about that product. Or they’ve already clicked on an ad that was profiling that product or a problem associated with it.

Retargeting ads won’t cost you anything like the amount that reaching a cold audience will because the numbers you retarget are so much smaller.

Create a website custom audience for targeting your Facebook ads.

#6: Your Facebook Ads Relevance Scores Are Too Low

Facebook is really keen that your ads are as relevant to your target audience as possible. It rewards advertisers who get it right by showing their ads to more people and charging them less.

You need to aim for high relevance scores. AdEspresso experimented with running identical ads to different audiences and found that they spent:

  • $0.142 per website click for an ad with a score of 2.9.
  • $0.03 per website click for the same ad but targeted to a website custom audience of users who had recently visited their website. This same ad was given a relevance score of 8.0.

How to Fix This: Tighter targeting is a surefire way to improve relevance scores, as are impactful images, clear calls to action in the copy, or a call-to-action button. Lower ad frequency will also help, as will ads that are designed with your target market in mind—Facebook rewards conversions too.

#7: Your Facebook Ads Don’t Align With Your Landing Page

You may have made the perfect ad but if your landing page is off, you’ll lose that conversion. Landing pages need to have considerable congruency with the ad, so the images, copy, look, feel, and tone need to be the same or similar.

How to Fix This: A well-designed landing page should include social proof, counter any objections, use clear and concise headlines that make it easier to skim, and include friendly body copy free from errors.

Landing page example

Also add trust indicators and make the call to action highly visible, repeating it throughout the page. In fact, everything should lead to that action; it’s the sole objective of your page.

It’s also important to minimize links. You want people to click on the call-to-action button rather than be tempted to look elsewhere on your website (or worse still, to another website due to Google ads lurking on the page).


It’s easy to get fixated on the lure of finding brand-new customers with your Facebook ads rather than working with what you’ve got and maximizing the potential of those warm leads. If you’re not happy with your Facebook advertising results, the seven factors above could be negatively impacting your ad performance. Try these troubleshooting tips to see if they make a difference in your campaigns.

What do you think? Which of these factors may be impacting conversions for your Facebook ads? Can you think of any other areas to look at for subpar ad performance? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

More articles about improving Facebook ad performance:

Discover seven common factors that impede Facebook ad performance and find troubleshooting tips for fixing them.

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