One fall we created and launched a Facebook ad campaign for one of our healthcare clients. The ad promoted their short wait times during weekend hours. Halfway through the weekend my client text to tell me the waiting room was full. We love seeing this happen for our clients. More often than not when we talk to new prospects one of their first comments is, “I tried Facebook ads, but they didn’t work.” So how do you go from wasting money on ads that don’t work to filling up your waiting room?
We start by diagnosing the problem. Take a look at these money-wasting Facebook ad problems we’ve identified.
Poor Audience Targeting
We’ve found for local urgent care medical clinics, most people are willing to drive a maximum of about twenty-five miles in our rural area. It would waste our clients’ money to target people outside of this geographic boundary. Another of our clients will travel up to a ninety-mile radius for home repairs. Outside that area, it costs too much in travel to be profitable.
Look at your customer list. Where do your customers live, work, or go to school? What ages are most of your customers? What gender are most of your customers? It’s easy to think reaching more people is better, but when you target broadly you risk spending money reaching people who aren’t ever going to buy from you.
Even for national companies, ads need to be targeted based on regions or states to provide better analytics. Targeting ads allow companies to show images and graphics that appeal to each region of the country rather than trying to blast everyone with the same ad.
Not using look-a-like audiences
Look-a-like audiences fit into audience targeting but it’s such a different topic we wanted to break it out. These audiences expand your reach to people who are most like your current customers, website visitors, or Facebook page followers. Not using look-a-like audiences limits the number of people to whom you are marketing leaving out an entire segment of people who might be interested in your product or service.
To create a look-a-like audience, go to your business ad manager platform and click the grid in the left-hand column. Choose audiences and set up your look-a-like audience here. When you’re ready to use this audience, choose it during your ad set creation. You can apply other filters such as geography to the audience there.
Reach and brand awareness are the top funnel ad choices. It’s the first place to start with new ads, but don’t stop there. Target people who have shown an interest in your product or service by going to your website or liking your Facebook page. These ads are good places for new products or services or for a stronger call to action. Use traffic or engagement ads to drive your customers to take action such as making an appointment or purchase.
Set it and forget it
In an effort to refresh one of our clients’ Facebook ads, we set up an A/B test to see which creative performed best. A week later when I checked in on the ads, I found we were spending over $30 per thousand people reached. Our normal spend was under $5 per thousand people reached. Because we check on our ads regularly, we noticed the extra spend and were able to make changes to lower our costs. If we hadn’t looked back at the ads until they finished, we would not have noticed and would have wasted a lot of our clients’ budget.
We’re all busy. It’s easy to create your ads and move on to the next thing. Set a reminder on your calendar or your project management tool to check in on your Facebook ads every few days or at least once a week. You can catch problems quickly before you spend more than you should.
Tweaking too soon and too often
On the flip side of “set it and forget it” we have folks who can’t leave their ads alone long enough to see what works. Ads take anywhere from 24-48 hours to process through a “learning phase.” Facebook uses this time to narrow down who will respond best to your ads and to when is the best time to show your ads. By tweaking your ads within hours of creating them, you reset the clock. Digital marketing isn’t a short term solution. We’re playing the long game. Yes, you can see some short term advances, but it’s not always a given. Give your ads time to breathe before you start making changes.
Lack of focus (too many ads too little budget)
We’ve talked about a lot of different types of ads and audiences: remarketing, look-a-like, reach, traffic. They all serve a purpose in your ad strategy. However, you need enough budget to make an ad campaign work in order to be effective.
A lot of large digital agencies want to see clients spend tens of thousands of dollars per month on social media ads. For small and mid-sized companies, those budgets are often not realistic. For rural areas, it’s not always needed. You do need a healthy budget to reach your audience consistently. If you can only spend $500 a month on social media ads, push it into one campaign maybe two if your audiences are small on each. You’re better off saturating one market than trying to make small ripples in a whole lot of markets.
Lack of strategy
This goes along with a lack of focus. Before you start a campaign, know what you want to accomplish. Do you want to get your name in front of people? Or do you want to generate leads? Choose the campaign objective, audience, and ad creative that matches your goal. Think through a full strategy that stretches over a full month or multiple months. Grow your website traffic, then retarget to those visitors for sales. Create engaging videos then retarget to people who watch those videos to generate leads. And when you do generate leads, have a process in place to follow up on those leads. Know who will respond, how quickly, and with what information.
Social media ads can work. They’re an investment into your company’s future. With a little work, you can make the most of your ad budget.