A frequent question asked to us in the Speccy office is why are my Facebook ads not working?

All too often, we speak to business owners who have tried Facebook ads before and have lost faith, they feel it was a waste of money, they didn’t work for them and they don’t understand why. This makes them reluctant to try again. If this sounds like you, then read on!

Before we can dive into why Facebook Ads might not be performing, we need to define what we mean when we say those words “not working” and we can’t do that without measurable data. So if you are running ads without a Facebook Pixel (and CAPI set up) then you should install it right away to give yourself well rounded data. You can measure data points like clicks, landing page views, likes, follows, engagements and transactions. You and your ads team should agree on the metrics that matter most in order to track the success of your campaigns. You should also report on these metrics on a regular basis. Communication with your advertiser is so important, it ensures that you’re both up to date and have the same goals.

So if you’ve got your tracking set up and you’ve agreed on your metrics for measurement but your Facebook ads are still not working, let’s look at why that might be.

Poor conversion rate

You are sending people to a website or landing page which has a poor conversion rate. In traffic-based campaigns, the job of the ads is to send traffic to a page. After the customer arrives at that page, the ad itself cannot be blamed if that customer doesn’t take further action – e.g. makes a purchase. It is easy to blame the ad for sending the “wrong sort” of customer to your landing page, this is often an easier scapegoat than admitting your website needs work. As long as your audience is well put together, it is unlikely to be the ads fault provided that your click through rate is good.

Uninspiring ad creative

Your ad creative is uninspiring – who wants to engage with a post or ad that is boring? Not me. So invest in your creative (aka pictures and copy). The best campaigns we see are ones with professional photography and/or video content. Creative that doesn’t perform so well are things like stock images and shouty BUY ME types of ads. If you can provide benefits and value in your sponsored posts, people will want to engage with you and will buy from you when they are ready.

Poor audience targeting

Your targeted audience isn’t interested in your product. When you’ve got a well optimised landing page and your ad creative is good, it’s time to look at your targeting. When businesses are new, they often do customer persona exercises where they draft a number of fake people with certain characteristics who they believe are their target audience. Two problems can occur here, first, there may have been little market research and those personas were dreamt out of nowhere, or secondly, the business has evolved since then and this is out of date. So take your target audience back to the drawing board and ask your advertiser for support – often your interest targets don’t align with what we can target on Facebook so create a “Facebook specific customer personas” where you can. Where historical data is available in Google Analytics and from Facebook, advertisers can use this to support their audience building. After this, test different audience characteristics until you hit the sweet spot.

Your budget is too small

You didn’t have enough budget. Anyone who has worked with Speccy will know that we are extremely cautious with our clients budgets and we understand that small businesses have it hard enough. Regardless of compassion and whether our hearts swell for the cause there is such a thing as not enough budget. Facebook Ads optimise best when receiving 50 conversion actions per week so you should put enough budget in to achieve this. In the beginning, it’s hard to estimate what this number will be so we advise starting with what you can afford (no less than £10 per day) and then scaling upwards from there. To work out your spend, you should multiply your cost per acquisition by 50, then multiply that answer by 4.5.

Giving up

You gave up too soon. Facebook ads need time to optimise and time to test. Every change you make resets Facebook’s “learning phase” and this takes 7 days to optimise. With this in mind, you need to run the marathon not the sprint with ads to give the machine learning time to do it’s thing. Closely related to this, is that advertisers need to test test test. Test your creative, test your copy, test your landing pages, test your audience targeting. This can’t be done in a matter of days, or even weeks, this needs to be done strategically over the course of months. We recommend at least 3.

Customer Journey

Other parts of your customer journey need work. Your Facebook ads should be one part of a wider marketing strategy and you shouldn’t expect them to perform alone. For ads to perform well, as a minimum, your website should be easy to use, you should have available and responsive customer service and your organic social media should support your paid advertising campaign. If you want to take this even further, you can also use email marketing to push your ads customers along further. Getting a customer to go from never having heard of you before, to them sending you their money in one swoop can be very tricky.


It’s not the right time due to external factors. Timing can be everything in ads. This is because ads are often used near the end of the customer journey to transition someone who is interested in a product into a paying customer. You need to present the right thing, to the right person, at the right time. Many businesses sell products or services that don’t necessarily suit an “all year round” paid advertising campaign. For example, you wouldn’t want to advertise sun screen in December or Christmas products in June. You should also be cautious of what’s happening in the outside world, during the Covid-19 pandemic this has been crucial as shopping habits have changed rapidly and often, there have been times we weren’t allowed outside, we couldn’t do group activities, we couldn’t book a holiday…the list goes on. This meant the purchase of certain products has been up and down like a rollercoaster. If you fall into this category, you should review your wider marketing strategy and use your ads to supplement it when customer behaviour dictates demand.

Have you done all of these things and you’re still not sure? It happens! We understand that when your Facebook ads are not working, it can be heartbreaking to see your money not working for you. With certain big changes in 2021 like changes to IOS tracking, CAPI integration and a new Facebook Business Manager interface, it’s a tough marketing activity to crack. If you are struggling with your Facebook Ads and you want some support, ask us for advice and we’ll be happy to help.