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Facebook advertising can be highly effective. It’s also relatively easy to get started with this powerful platform. Unfortunately, that low bar to entry means that beginners (and even more experienced advertisers) can find themselves in the middle of an underperforming, poorly run campaign without even knowing where the problem occurred.

Mistakes in how you create, set up and run Facebook ads can wind up costing you a lot more than a potential sale. They can cost you unnecessary expenses in the administration and refinement of your ad campaign. Depending on your budget, that could wind up being a substantial loss.

To plug up the budget leaks, make sure you avoid these seven mistakes in your Facebook ad campaigns.

Mistake #1: Trying to Sell Too Soon

Are you asking for a sale before you’ve really earned it? One of the biggest mistakes new advertisers make is failing to grasp the nuances of the buyer’s journey, both in a general sense and as it applies to the specific brand and products. This can lead to an ad that wildly misses the mark and fails to make any kind of real impression on the targeted audience.

Instead of rushing right into “buy our product!” try addressing earlier stages in your sales funnel with your ads. You can do this with a two-part ad campaign:

  1. In the first ad, show your prospective clients or customers the benefits of the product you want them to buy. Appeal to their fears or pain points, and then send them to your landing page, containing the very best copy you can create or procure to get them to take a small action. Examples could include requesting a demo or a free trial, or signing up for your email list.
  2. Next, use retargeting to present the now-warmer prospects with a second advertisement aimed at completing a bigger conversion—e.g., a sale.

Consider creating separate campaigns for each level of your audience. Some will need brand awareness. Others know who you are, but simply need a little more info about who you are and why they should do business with you, and still others have already purchased from you or are on the verge of doing so. Each of these audiences is at a different place in your funnel, so they need different approaches to coax them to the next level.

Mistake #2: Targeting the Wrong Audience

Who are you trying to reach? Not ensuring that your audience aligns with your targeting options in your campaign is a big mistake that can wind up costing you more. For example, it may be smarter and more effective to target people who have already engaged with your brand or purchased your product than to seek out fresh new faces. If you try to sell to those cold prospects right off the bat, you’re also making mistake #1—“Trying to Sell Too Soon”—as discussed above.

Instead, research your audience demographics. Create user or buyer personas to represent each general segment of your audience. Think about things such as age, gender, economic background, employment, geographic area, and the like.

Also, consider targeting users by interests. You can use Facebook Audience Insights to learn more about the things your prospects are interested in. Use that information to create a more personalized ad that connects with those individuals on a deeper level. Narrowing down your audience in this way helps reduce ad costs.

However, be careful here. Some audiences will cost you a pretty penny to reach effectively via Facebook ads. That’s because they’re simply worth more. Your CPC will increase (sometimes dramatically) with ads targeted to these high-value audience groups, so be careful to define the audience in ways that actually add value to your campaign and set your budget accordingly.

Mistake #3: Giving Short Shrift (or None at All) to Split Testing Your Ads

Split testing is essential if you want to hone your strategy and refine it for maximum success. Not taking full advantage of this process or ignoring it altogether is a costly mistake for advertisers.

Split or A/B testing is the act of taking two otherwise identical ads that differ in one respect only—say, the image, or a call to action wording—and then testing them in real-world conditions to find out which version is more effective. The process of doing this consecutively with the same ad, testing out different elements each time, helps you discern which ad elements are most effective with your specific audience.

Testing AdSets on demographics and targeting, and ads themselves on creative elements such as text, headlines, calls to action and so on, help you make more money not just in the current campaign but in future ones as well. Make sure you include budgeting for this process when you estimate your campaign costs.

Mistake #4: Getting Your Images Wrong

You know your ad images are important to the overall success of your campaign. So it’s probably not a huge surprise that there are a few ways the wrong image can negatively impact your campaign’s success.

One big mistake it not testing your image. We discussed split testing above, but testing your image helps you make the most out of the minuscule amount of time you have to grab your prospect’s visual attention.

Using the wrong kinds of images or image orientations in your ads can also result in unnecessary ad costs. Use landscape orientation to maximize the ad’s utilization of horizontal space available.

By the same token, using a color scheme that fades into the background can also cost you lost clicks and conversions. Remember to use eye-catching, vivid tones that will contrast nicely against the staid blue-and-white of Facebook.

Mistake #5: Failing to Track Ad-Driven Sales Properly

Are your ads worth the cost? The only want to know is to calculate your return on investment (ROI). And you can’t determine your ROI if you’re not accurately tracking sales from your ad campaign.

For Facebook ads, this requires the installation of a tracking pixel, then monitoring your analytics and conversions.

Yet it’s easy to make a mistake here. Making an error in pixel installation can yield a conversion rate that is artificially high. If you’ve designed a sequence that requires multiple clicks to multiple pages, but the pixel is on the first of those pages, you’re credited with a conversion even when the user only hits that first page then clicks out of the sequence altogether.

So make sure you’ve installed the tracking pixel correctly and that the metrics you’re monitoring are the correct ones for your campaign goals. Otherwise, you’re potentially wasting your budget on conversion events that don’t really result in greater revenue for your brand.

Mistake #6: Changing Your Ad Too Frequently or Too Soon

It takes Facebook time to figure out your ad/audience nexus – roughly around two or three days. Don’t go tweaking and changing things before those three days are up. Give it some time before you decide to “fix” things.

Advertisers who fall into this trap may be eschewing formal split testing in favor of a quick glance at metrics that don’t tell the whole story, such as cost per click or cost per conversion. You also need to examine things such as your click-through rate, your ad frequency, and your conversion rate.

Don’t be afraid to dive into your data and pay attention to the results of your tests. Just give each tweak you make to your campaign at least a few days to propagate and gather some useful response data before you make further changes.

Mistake #7: Using the Wrong Ad Type

What is it you’re trying to achieve with your ad campaign? The answer to this question will shape, if not outright dictate, the type of ad campaign you create. That’s true for creative, but it’s also true for your Facebook ad management.

Facebook offers multiple ad formats for you to try. The key is to match the right ad format and type to your specific campaign goals. If you’re interested in capturing mobile traffic, for example, you may want to choose something other than a landing page ad (but that format works well on desktop). Lead generation ads do convert well on mobile, though, so consider that type when you’re focused on more top-of-the-funnel goals.

Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment

The best way to learn Facebook ads—and to get them work extra hard for your brand—is by trial and error. Watch out for these missteps and give each campaign your full attention. Don’t be afraid to try different things and gauge the results, like a scientist performing an experiment. Eventually, you’ll wind up with a tightly refined campaign that performs up to your expectations and your company’s needs.

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