My Facebook ads don’t work – help!

So you’ve started running Facebook and Instagram ads and had high hopes the leads and sales would start pouring in… except they’re not. So you’re probably wondering what the heck is going wrong?

Before you pull out your hair or give up, give this article a quick read. After taking a look at the few things mentioned here, we’re almost certain you’ll be able to identify why your ads aren’t working, and know exactly what to do next to fix them!

PS… if you’re new here, we love data, and our mission is to help you succeed by finding your inner nerd. If you’re into it, be sure to check out our free resources page for all kinds of freebies and helpful tips!


Let’s start with the Facebook ad metrics that matter

When your ads aren’t converting (and even when they are), the metrics that matter most are:

  1. Click Through Rate (CTR)
  2. Visits or Sessions
  3. Bounce Rate
  4. Conversion Rate


To really understand what’s happening with your ads, you need to look at the above metrics by the ad / creative version (assuming you have more than one), along with breaking each metric down by audiences and targeting parameters. When we break things down, we’re able to see what’s working and what isn’t.

To simplify going forward, we will refer to these dimensions as:

  • Creative versions, which can include variations of ad sets, copy/messaging, ad types, ad placements and ad creative
  • Segments, which can include any unique audiences you’ve created, in addition to demographic breakouts provided in the ad platforms.

To keep things focused, we’ll only chat about the above metrics. But if you want to learn more check out our blog, The Most Important Marketing Metrics To Measure.


What is a good CTR for Facebook & Instagram Ads?

Let’s start from the first customer action… they see your ad (this is an impression), and then they click it… or don’t. This is known as your Click Through Rate, and it’s calculated as clicks divided by impressions.

A high CTR is achieved by targeting the right people, with the right message, at the right time, in the right channel. Subsequently, a low CTR typically means you need to adjust your targeting, switch up the benefits messaging and/or the creative, or try a new channel altogether.

The average CTR on Facebook is approximately 0.8%-1.0% but varies by industry, which you can see below. But if you follow this blog, you should easily be above, if not double, the averages!


Average Click Through Rate CTR Facebook Ads Industry Benchmarks

In order to know what’s resonating, you need to look at CTR by the creative versions along with the segments. And it’s even better if you layer the two together because this tells you exactly what benefits and creative versions are speaking to each specific segment or even demos within a segment.


Someone clicked your ad; now what?

Similar to CTR, when you’re looking at Visits, you want to understand what creative versions and segments result in the most Visits or Sessions as Google Analytics calls them. Higher visit volume will typically align with the creative versions with higher CTRs, higher budgets, or lower CPCs (lower cost per click means your budget goes further).

While high CTRs overall should lead to an increase in Visits to your website, you won’t always see Clicks equal Visits. Sometimes people click prematurely or by accident and navigate back before your site loads. In addition, if your site loads slowly, people may not stick around. Google Analytics (and other web analytics tools) typically won’t record a visit until the page has fully loaded, so these scenarios can result in Clicks being greater than Visits.


Next up, how do you convert web traffic into leads?

Once customers get to your site, ideally, they read what’s on your landing page, love what they see, and hand over their email address. But if it was that easy, you wouldn’t have made it this far. 😉

So first, you want to check your Bounce Rate.


So you don’t have to google, how to calculate Bounce Rate…

Bounce Rate measures the percent of people who only see one page of your site before leaving, so it’s measured by taking single page visits divided by total visits. PS… if you only have a one-page site, then this metric won’t be relevant to you.

A high Bounce Rate can mean one (or all) of the below:

  1. Your ad targeting is off
  2. Your ad creative and website messaging are misaligned
  3. Your website has content and/or user flow issues


What’s a good Bounce Rate benchmark?

Bounce Rate will always vary by channel. To get a good sense if your site is organized well and provides relevant information, you should see the lowest Bounce Rate for Direct and Organic traffic. People entering through these channels are seeking you out, so you can expect a good Bounce Rate in the 30-50% range. If the Bounce Rate for Direct and Organic channels is higher than 50%, you have some work to do on the site itself – #3 above.

Bounce Rates for paid channels (Paid Search, Social, Display, etc.) are always going to be higher than Direct and Organic. People entering through these channels are higher in the marketing funnel, so they may not know much about you yet. However, if your Bounce Rate is higher than 65% in Paid Search or Social, you’re likely facing issue #2 or #3 above.

To understand what’s working, check both Bounce Rate and Conversion Rate by your creative versions and segments. This will tell you more about what information is resonating with each segment and help you pinpoint any issues.

It may be that who you thought was your ideal customer perhaps isn’t. Or if you’ve already validated your ideal customer, then perhaps your current website messaging and offer isn’t properly speaking to them. You’ll also be able to identify the pockets of success, which will help you reshape your benefits messaging and targeting strategy.

As a side note, to measure creative versions and segments in Google Analytics, you will need to have UTM Codes or another form of URL tracking in place. If you don’t have these implemented, check out the Campaign URL Builder provided by Google.


Now it’s time to optimize your ads and website content.


Targeting is never a one-and-done effort, so start making some tweaks and testing your way into finding your ideal customer.

  • Where you see pockets of success (high CTR, low Bounce Rate, high Conversion Rate), pinpoint who the segment is, and what benefits and creative you used. If it makes sense, shift more budget into these areas.
  • If you see more/less success with a specific segment or within specific demographic areas, try adjusting your overall audience targeting to zero in on the demographics that are working.
  • Test different interests against each other in separate ad groups.


Creative is never a one-and-done effort, so get used to having at least 2-3 different creative versions running at all times.

  • Check each version weekly to see what works best based on the CTR, and then continue optimizing.
  • Try testing different versions of lead-in copy and captions, ad types (video vs static), ad placements (Instagram stories vs posts), imagery (lifestyle vs selfie), benefits messaging (save time, convert more leads, best price, etc.


If your landing page is part of the problem, try making some updates. Ensure the following are present:

  • Contextual hero image and lead in that states your value proposition, and make sure both are aligned with your ads
  • Benefits section that’s easy to consume through the use of columns or bullets. Also, use a mix of headers, text and images/icons to help convey the message.
  • Clear call to action. This is so important! If the customer doesn’t know what to do, how can they do it? Spell it out for them.
  • Concise lead form. Limit the amount of info you are requesting from someone… you really only need their first name and email, so why bother asking for more if it could be a deterrent.


By following the above steps, we’re sure you’ll figure out where your ads are falling flat and why. Give it a shot, and let us know how it goes in the comments.

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