November 29, 2017 Last updated on March 15th, 2018
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Ahh Facebook Ads. One of life’s greatest mysteries! When it goes well and you see those conversions coming in, you feel such a buzz. But when those conversions don’t come, and the money seems to be disappearing fast, it’s a different story. Sometimes it seems impossible to figure out why your Facebook ads don’t work like they should, but there’s always a reason! To help you get to the bottom of it, I’ve listed the main reasons your Facebook ads might not be living up to expectations.

5 Reasons Why Your Facebook Ads Don’t Work Like They Should

5 Reasons Why Your Facebook Ads Don't Work Like They Should

1. Your copy isn’t optimized

Let’s start off with an easy one to fix: the copy! When creating Facebook ads, you have to come up with some sharp, snappy copy that will grab users’ attention in an instant. You have to be able to convey what you’re offering in a clear way, while still expressing personality and using your brand tone of voice. Easy, right? 😅

Remember, there are recommended character counts that vary from ad type to ad placement. That means that whilst a longer title and more detailed meta description might look great on a desktop feed preview, the copy will be cut off on mobile preview or when viewed in the Facebook right column. So, make sure that if you’re choosing a variety of placements for your ads that the copy works for every placement you’re selecting. Don’t try to tell a whole story, and don’t be afraid to ruthlessly cut down your character count (even if you think you’ve written a masterpiece).

5 Reasons Why Your Facebook Ads Don’t Work Like They Should

MailChimp know that less is more when it comes to Facebook ads – the copy is short, concise and punchy!

Alternatively, you can create multiple ad sets, each one optimized for a particular placement – but if you want to keep it simple, just try to keep your copy short and punchy and bear in mind the following official recommendations from Facebook for Business.

2. Your images are poor quality

Nobody likes a bad quality photo! And nobody is going to click on a blurry, pixelated Facebook ad. If you’re lucky enough to have a designer who has the time to create personalised visuals for your ads, then make the most of that! However, you can also find good quality stock photos for free on sites like and

When it comes to selecting photos for ads, there are a few best practices to follow to avoid the frustration of your Facebook ads not working properly!

  • Use imagery which reflects the industry/topic of the content behind your ad to make sure your message is clear straight away. Images which are too abstract or misleading will confuse your audience and won’t get you those conversions you’re after
  • Choose light, bright and clean imagery – you want your ad to stand out!
  • Avoid having too much copy on the image itself. Although Facebook has officially done away with the 20% rule, it’s always best to keep copy on images to a minimum. While some copy can reinforce your message, you don’t want to detract from the image itself or create an ad which is too ‘busy’.
  • Always check how your Facebook images look across every placement type (desktop, mobile, right column etc) so that nothing is cut off or distorted. If you’re advertising on Instagram too, remember that the image dimensions for Instagram ads are different to those which feature on Facebook. To be sure your ads are going to be visually optimized, refer to these dimensions:

3. Your budget is too low

Unfortunately, you’ve got to spend money to make money! And if you only have a small budget, it’s going to be difficult to see substantial results. Why? Well, first off, Facebook simply won’t show your ads to your target audience – especially if lots of advertisers are going after that very same audience!

There are a few variables which can make it harder to get your ads seen above those of your competitors, such as how saturated your industry already is with content; having a very broad audience that is hard to narrow down; and how established your competitors are. Having a bigger budget can help you overcome these issues to some extent.

5 Reasons Why Your Facebook Ads Don’t Work Like They Should

But it’s not just about the competition. With a limited budget, you also have less opportunity to test varying designs to find out which is the most successful. Simply put, if you only have enough budget to run an ad for a few days, or you can’t afford to test multiple ads at once, you won’t really be able to learn much about your Facebook advertising strategy. Which leads us nicely on to the next point…

4. You’re not A/B testing

Testing what works and what falls flat is really the only way to ensure you stay on top of the Facebook advertising game. Don’t think you have to test a million different things at once (in fact, I can vouch that this is not the way to do it!). Instead, start off by testing around 3 different images, and two variations of copy. You can do this directly on Facebook Ads Manager by manually creating a variety of ad sets within one campaign. Once they’re running, regularly check the performance of each and disable any ads which aren’t performing. Give it a couple of days to make sure the results are reliable.

If you want to streamline the process, you could also use AdEspresso to run ads. I actually prefer using this as it generates multiple variations of ads for you based on the images and copy you upload. You can see in the dashboard exactly which ads are doing well, and which facebook ads don’t work at all. You can also see what your KPIs look like both for individual ads and on average. It’s easy to keep track of your budget so you don’t overspend, or invest too much in ads with a low conversion rate. This process can seem a bit daunting at first, but A/B testing is so important that you just have to get started. You also have to have a fair bit of patience, but the more you test, the more confident you’ll become in your strategy (and you’ll have the numbers to back it up!).

5 Reasons Why Your Facebook Ads Don’t Work Like They Should

‘Top Ads’ view from the AdEspresso dashboard – easy to see which ads deserve more of your money!

5. You’ve got your audience wrong

Lastly, let’s take a look at your audience. Getting your audience right is hard, and it takes research! One of the most common mistakes made with Facebook advertising is simply guessing who the audience is and what the audience wants to see, without having any data to back it up. It might be that your Facebook ads don’t work because you’re targeting the wrong people, so take another look at your buyer or audience personas, dig into your website analytics, speak to your existing customers – but don’t leave it up to fate!

When it comes to Facebook advertising, your audience should be based on one of the following 3 things:

Detailed targeting
Custom audiences

a) Detailed Targeting

This is the best option if you’re just starting out and don’t yet have a proper mailing list, or you’re still trying to figure out exactly who your existing audience is. You should have a clear persona in mind based on your research, including age, gender, location, interests, and so on. You can select all of these targeting options to recreate your persona on Facebook Ads Manager (or AdEspresso).

5 Reasons Why Your Facebook Ads Don’t Work Like They Should

Facebook Audience Builder for detailed targeting

b) Custom Audiences

Custom audiences are audiences built on information about existing customers or leads who have visited your content via Facebook before. It allows you to retarget people who have already interacted with your business online, or target those with a similar profile to people who have interacted with your business online. But obviously that’s just the simple version! If you want to find out more you can read about building custom audiences with the Facebook tracking pixel here.

5 Reasons Why Your Facebook Ads Don’t Work Like They Should

Facebook Custom Audience tool

c) Connections

You can also target people who are connected to your business on Facebook, such as friends of friends – or you can choose to remove them from the targeting altogether. Whether you use this feature for the former or the latter really depends on whether you already have an active and engaged audience on Facebook. But be wary about only targeting connections, as this could really limit how many people your ads are served to.

So, there we have it: 5 points to think about before creating your next Facebook ad. Hopefully you feel at least a little bit closer to cracking Facebook advertising, and have an idea of what it might be that are causing your ads to keep you up at night with frustration! Remember, though – nobody said it was easy. It really is a case of trial and error, so keep at it, stay patient, remain focused, and those conversions will follow!

Now over to you – do you think we missed any key reasons that explain why sometimes (or too often!) Facebook ads don’t work? Maybe you find these points helpful for going in to your next Facebook marketing campaign? Either way, leave us a comment and let us know!

Still hungry for Facebook tips that will help your grow your page and see higher ROI from your content? Check out our ebook on using Facebook for Business!
Facebook for Business: The Ultimate Guide for Beginners

About the author
Caitlin Hughes

Caitlin Hughes

Caitlin is a Content Marketing expert at Iconosquare, based in Berlin. She’s passionate about creating ROI-driven content strategies and sharing her best tips on social media marketing. She’s also into true crime, loves ‘80’s music, and spends too much time online shopping.

More posts by Caitlin Hughes

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