Why your Facebook ads aren’t working

Why your Facebook ads aren’t working

From interviewing entrepreneurs, a number said they had tried using Facebook ads but didn’t get a client. In this post we’d like to go through some of the reasons why your Facebook ad might not be working. The goal of this post is not to explain everything step by step, but to give you a high level overview of some of the things you need to do. For each topic covered you can find plenty of detailed explanations on youtube.

No demand for product or service

The first problem could be there is simply little or no demand for your product or service. It’s important before launching a business you validate your idea in the marketplace. Rather than investing a significant amount of time and money building a product or service, Facebook ads can be useful to test the level of demand. 

If everything is set up correctly but you’re getting low click through rates then there could just be no demand for what you’re trying to sell.

Bad offer

If you are already selling your products and service through other channels then the problem could be with your ad copy and media. The benefits of your product or service are not being communicated clearly to your target audience.  It’s important to have a clear definition of who your target audience is. In your ad you need to focus on their pain points. You need to understand what keeps them up late at night. You also need to know what their needs and wants are.

When selling third level courses to non EU students, some of their biggest fears include not being able to find a job after they graduate, being left with student debt they can’t pay off and going to a university with a bad reputation in the jobs market. Their dreams are of getting a job and perhaps getting permanent residency.

Your ad needs to communicate how you can solve people’s pain points or help them reach their dreams. If you can’t communicate these things your ads will not find you clients on Facebook.


Even if you have the perfect ad copy and images if you’re showing it to the wrong audience you won’t sell anything. As mentioned, it’s important that you are fully aware of who your target market is and you understand how you can reach your audience. 

For example, if you want to reach business owners on Facebook you can target people who are a business page admin and a Facebook page admin. You can also narrow your search by targeting those who have shown an interest in entrepreneurship, accountants, dragons den, shark tank etc. 

One of the best forms of targeting is using lookalike audiences. You can upload to Facebook the email addresses of all your customers and Facebook can then create an audience which best mirrors the profiles of your customers.

If you don’t have enough customers you can also create a lookalike audience based on those people who have visited your website using Facebook’s pixel.

Finally, if you have none of the above, you can hire a freelancer to provide you with a list of emails using Linkedin’s sales navigator tool. This can be very useful if you’re targeting a very specific industry, say for example business owners, accountants or personal trainers in a specific location. 

Not testing a variety of ads

We have run multiple test ads on Facebook for the same service and gotten very different responses. Some very good, some absolutely terrible. It’s important when running ads that you try different ad copy, images and videos. 

Your target client will have multiple fears and dreams. Create an ad for each and test which ones get the best response. 

If you want to get an idea of which Facebook ads are working best for your competitors go to their Facebook page. 

Scroll down to Page Transparency and click on “See All”

Scroll to the bottom and click on “See Ad Library”

Look for the ads which have the oldest “Started running” dates.
This is an indication their ads are getting good results.

Product price too high or risky

Some products may be too expensive or risky to be advertised on Facebook. Often people need time to research what customers have said or time to get to know you and build trust. One entrepreneur Johnny Beirne (Byrne)  put it perfectly when he said: “People buy when they’re ready to buy, not when you’re ready to sell”. 

For expensive or high risk products, email marketing may be the better option as it gives you the opportunity to build an audience. You can then deliver content to that audience which demonstrates your ability and it also helps establish trust. This is something you can not do with a Facebook ad.

We’ll be covering email marketing in our next episode. 

Not Including Client Testimonials

Client testimonials are key to getting new clients. You’ll probably notice this yourself when you are on Amazon looking at a product. People often go straight to the review section to understand what people are saying about the product. It’s really important in your ad to try to include client testimonials.

Video testimonials are the best but unfortunately they are very difficult to get. If you can’t get a video review try getting an audio review and turn it into a video to include in your ad.

Audience Overlap

One thing to be careful of when running multiple ads across multiple audiences is audience overlap. Facebook doesn’t want your ads to be in competition with each other so ads which share the same audience as another ad may be reduced where an overlap occurs.

This may result in some ads performing badly solely because another ad has been given precedence over the audience used. Make sure you check your audience overlap on your Facebook ads to prevent this from happening.

Not setting up the conversions goal

As a small business your goal from running Facebook ads is to get a client. Not to get clicks, likes, comments or traffic to your website. When setting up your ads on Facebook you need to run conversation ads only. Anything else will be a waste of money.

If you select the engagement goal Facebook will show your ads to the clickiest people on Facebook. This is completely useless to you. 

When you select conversation as your objective Facebook will show your ads to those who are mostly likely to buy from you.

There is an extra step of setting up a Facebook pixel but there are plenty of tutorials available on youtube on how to do this.


We hope you found this episode useful. If you did please share on your social media networks and relevant business groups. You can listen to all of our entrepreneur interviews on softintro.com. In the next episode we’ll be talking about why you should consider email marketing and how email marketing can help you find new clients.

If you have an idea for a topic you’d like discussed you can contact us at marketing@soi.ie

If you haven’t already please join our mailing list where we share summaries of our podcasts as well as links to additional resources. 

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