Let's skip all the pomp and circumstance and get right to the question: Are Facebook Ads a waste of money? By themselves, yes. As part of a larger strategy, no.

If you were Doc Brown, you'd be able to hop into your DeLorean and head back to the year 2008-ish. It's during this period of time that organic was free, algorithms were likely not part of your vocabulary, and you could spend stupid amounts of money on Ads if you felt like it. Unfortunately, this is not Back to the Future, there are no time machines (that I know of), and social media is a heavily saturated place where the name of the game is pay to play. But not all news is bad here.

In order to make sure you are not wasting money on Facebook Ads, consider your overall strategy, your target demographics, and your traffic funnel. Let's break down a couple of issues so that you can start building your business and stop wasting your money.

You don't have a comprehensive strategy with measurable metrics

Facebook Ads are only a small piece of the marketing pie. They don't provide you with the larger picture, only the small window. In order to use Facebook Ads effectively, you need to:

  • Set SMART Goals with measurable metrics
  • Build a comprehensive/holistic marketing strategy (including SEO/Content Marketing, Social Media, Email Marketing, etc).

Your strategy will be the game plan for how you can accomplish your SMART Goals, and since they are SMART—Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound, they will have measurable metrics built within them. How can you evaluate your success if you have nothing to measure it against? The answer is, you can't!

Here's an example of a business SMART Goal:
  • S: Instead of, “I will grow my business,” consider, "I will get 10 online orders in one month."
  • M: 10 orders itself is a measurable metric.
  • A: If you have 0 orders right now, ask yourself, "Is 10 realistic?" If you're unsure, consider your CPC and landed cost and evaluate if you will be operating under a loss or profit within the bounds of this goal. At this point, you may want to set a more achievable goal.
  • R: Ask yourself, “Is my goal tied into my larger business objective?” In this case, yes, because gross profit is essential to your business' viability.
  • T: Understanding that you will evaluate your goal in 30 days is a way to set it into a time-bound framework.

Here's the thing: Facebook Ads should not be your golden ticket, be all, end all. If you've set up your goals properly, you'll understand you need a strategy that includes a variety of pieces (email, SEO, etc.) to actually get those 10 orders.

      Related: Click here to read more about what Facebook Ad Metrics Matter →

You don't understand your traffic funnel

I'll be honest, traffic funnels rule the online world. If you're considering any type of marketing, whether it be SEO or Facebook Ads, ask yourself, "Where in the funnel are my people?"


Click here or the image above to learn more about Facebook Campaign Objectives→

If you need brand exposure to get those new customers, then Facebook may help you. Remember, Facebook may not be the place those new customers close the deal. Consider this:

A new users sees your FB Ad > go to website > exits site (no further action taken)
7 days later: Person googles your brand > go to website > make a purchase

Inside of Google Analytics, that purchase above is attributed to Organic Search. On the surface, you'd look at your Facebook traffic and decide it's a dud. At the same time, you'll note that search for your brand name is up (and converting sales). Seems like magic, but the truth is it's probably Facebook Ad success. If you're using Facebook to increase brand awareness AND your sales are up, it may not have been a waste of money after all.

You're not targeting the right demographic

The first question to ask yourself is, "Who is buying my product?” If you don't know the answer, forget about Facebook Ads. First, you need a target demographic or buyer personas. If you're targeting the wrong people, your Facebook Ads will always be a waste of money.

Once you know who you need to reach—don't be tempted by the idea of casting a wider net since that's another way to drain your $$, create those people in your Facebook Ads interface. During this time, it's also important to ask yourself if the information you pulled for your buyer personas is available in Facebook Ads. In other words, can you actually use this information to target your users? If the answer is no, Facebook may not be the place where people discover your business. Perhaps Facebook is better used as a retarget avenue, and content marketing (SEO) is a better option. This is just another reason WHY you need a comprehensive marketing strategy.

       Related: Click for Facebook Ad Strategy: Why You May Be Seeing Fake Clicks + Bot Traffic →

Additional Common Facebook Ad Target Mistakes:
  • Too broad or too specific
  • Not retargeting website traffic
  • Tempted by the wrong demographic information

Without the proper buyer personas, Facebook Ads will waste your money.

You're not using the proper creative assets

Social media is both a textual and a visual medium. Your buyer likes specific visuals and speaks a specific way. Your Facebook Ads need to have the language and look that will appeal to your target demographic. In other words, it might not be them (Facebook), it might be you (Ad Creative) that's the real reason you aren't hitting your goals.

If you're unsure of what visuals and language appeal to your target demographics, even after you've put together buyer personas, consider split testing. A lot of people miss out on split testing and optimizing their ad, but before you can even do that, ask yourself, “Do I have the skills to properly create and assess ad creative?” If the answer is no, you can affordably hire a graphic designer to whip something up, and oftentimes, you can do it on a budget with tools like Canva.

Photos by Ashley Burns

There are many other elements to Facebook Ads like proper placement, understanding how to evaluate your ads, and more, but this is a great place to start. Slow and steady, my friends. Need an extra hand or set of eyes to make sure you're moving in the right Facebook Ad direction? Shoot me an email or fill out the form below!

Gabrielle Nickas