Updated: Nov 17, 2021
This year, we saw a lot of changes to how facebook ads work, especially in response to the launch of iOS 14. If you’re an experienced Facebook ads user, you might think you know every mistake there is to make, but Facebook ads is a changing environment, and the new updates have brought new pitfalls to be aware of. In this article, we will cover 9 mistakes you could be making with your Facebook ads in 2021, and give easy tips to avoid them.
1: Not Verifying Your Domain and Configuring Your Web Events
2: Not Configuring Your Events With Aggregated Measurement
Another change iOS 14 has brought is that the attribution of events iOS users complete is now limited by aggregated measurement. This means events completed by anyone who has opted out of tracking on an iOS device will not be attributed to your ad campaign. If you haven’t re-configured your events to acknowledge this, your ads won’t be reaching or reporting back on a huge number of Facebook’s users, massively reducing your campaign’s impact. Fortunately, this mistake has a quick fix. Head to events manager, and configure your events under the ‘aggregated event measurement’ option, to keep your settings in line with the new iOS settings.
See the video below for more details on configuring web events:
3: Your Target Audience is Too Small
The importance of getting your audience size right has always been a key element of Facebook ad strategy, but with the iOS updates giving advertisers less visibility on their audience, reaching a large group of people is more important than ever.
Often when making a Facebook ad campaign, it can be tempting to use the targeting features to reach a very niche audience. The logic behind this is sound: only advertise to people you think will be interested in your product and actually take the action you want to provoke. However, the reality is that it is far more effective to target geographically at most, and reach the maximum number of people you can. A good number to aim for if you are targeting a large geographical area, for example, a UK wide audience, would be 250,000 people. In fact, an ideal audience size would be reaching anything above 500,000 people.
If you are a small business and have made a conscious choice to target only in a local region where you operate, then this mistake is not one you’re making, but if your audience size is currently limited by hyper-specific targeting, consider updating for 2021 by going for a broader set of specifications.
too small a target audience
4: Your Sales Funnel is Too Complicated
A sales funnel creates the journey your audience goes through on their way to completing the action you want from them, whether that’s a purchase, a follow, or just a click through to your website. A common mistake with Facebook ads, which now has more of a negative impact than ever, is creating complex sales tunnels just because you can, using all of facebook’s features in linked ads. While it can feel fun and easter egg-y to set a trail for your audience, taking them from an option to opt in to an email list, to a targeted piece of content, to a video ad, you’re actually adding to the effort it takes for your audience to perform your desired action.
If your audience’s journey through your ad campaign is a breadcrumb trail of commitments and rewards, you’re going to lose them. This is especially true now, with iOS14’s data policy sweeping up those breadcrumbs as its users pass them. If you try to target each stage of an ad campaign to the people who interacted with the last step, you will be losing audience members at every stage, as iOS14 hides the data of the actions they took.
The solution is to keep things simple. When you make your ad campaign, make it as easy as possible for those who see it to take the action you’re aiming for, by creating a direct offer set-up, with just one conversion.
5: You Stop Testing Ads Once They Seem Successful
A really common mistake facebook advertisers make is testing a campaign in its initial stages, then leaving it untouched once they see signs of success. However well you have set your targeting for an ad campaign, audiences will eventually grow tired of any one ad.
For your business or brand to continue growing through Facebook ads, it’s crucial to avoid audience fatigue. To keep your ad campaigns fresh, it’s important to keep testing out different advertising approaches and playing around with targeting and settings even as you’re running a successful campaign. It is far easier to maintain growth when you have a bank of new and creative ideas to put into practice when a campaign starts to flag, than to try and regain momentum once growth has slumped because your ad got tired.
So, to maintain growth in 2021, always be innovating in your approach to campaign building by testing out different ad sets.
6: You’re Optimising for the Wrong Goals
One mistake it’s easy to avoid is optimising for the wrong campaign objective. So often when this happens, it’s because an advertiser has overthought their campaign. If you want more sales for your business, you might approach the issue sideways with an ad optimised for audience growth, thinking surely reaching a new audience should lead to more purchases. However, evidence shows that if you want to drive purchases, it is far more effective to target your campaign for conversions.
It makes sense that if you tell Facebook to use its data to optimise your campaign for sales, you would see more sales, but often advertisers try to complicate the process. Remember that when choosing an objective to optimise for, you are selecting an end goal rather than an approach, and don’t add in extra steps.
7: Your Retargeting Audience is Only Based on Website Visitors
Website visitors are definitely a good audience to include in your retargeting data, but they shouldn’t be the only audience you retarget, especially in 2021. With iOS14, you have far less visibility over what people actually do when they move from your Facebook or Instagram to your website. Add to this the fact that iOS14 users can opt out of retargeting completely, and it’s clear you need to expand your approach to retargeting.
You can avoid missing out on retargeting an engaged audience by selecting more custom audiences to retarget in your ad set. Good custom audiences to add include people who have interacted with your Facebook or Instagram content, as this in-app data won’t be affected by the changes to iOS, and those on email lists, as this data was uploaded externally so is also unaffected.
8: You’re Making Too Many Adjustments
This might seem to contrast with our earlier advice to keep testing our ad sets, but while it’s good to keep trying out new approaches, constantly editing the same ad campaign can actually have negative results.
When you launch a new ad campaign on Facebook, it’s great to be able to check in and see how the ad is performing. However, if you aren’t seeing the results you hoped for, don’s immediately start playing around with the settings and making edits. Facebook ads have always had what we call a ‘learning phase’, where data on ad performance is being gathered. When you add the new limits on Facebook’s data collection, and resulting reporting delay, the learning phase for each ad campaign will last at least a few days.
During the first part of the learning phase, Facebook relies heavily on modeled data to give you any feedback, as this is when the reporting delay is affecting the results the site can gather. If you go back to your ad set and make adjustments based on poor ad performance in the first few days (which is a result based on predictions more than evidence), you are trapping your ad campaign in the learning phase, and you will keep getting inaccurate, poor quality data back from it. To avoid this mistake, never make changes to an ad campaign more than once in a week. This way, you get solid, evidence based results on an ad’s performance before deciding to make any edits.
9: Not Delivering a Good Customer Experience
This year, Facebook has begun to take poor customer experiences from businesses who advertise on their site far more seriously. Facebook wants to keep the value of adverts on their platform high by preserving their reputation with their users, and now regularly surveys their users to gather reports of both positive and negative retail experiences with their advertisers.
More than ever, it’s important to make it clear to Facebook that you are a quality business or content provider. Otherwise, you could now risk having your post suppressed and seen by less people, or even having your account banned from advertising on the platform.
It’s also important to remember that word of mouth and customer to customer communication is a form of advertising for you and it is happening through Facebook parallel to the ads you’re constructing. So, creating a high quality customer experience will not only help the Facebook ads you build perform better, but get you informal advertising in the form of a strong reputation amongst Facebook’s users.
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