Why Facebook Ads Don't Work for Everyone

Oct 4, 2018 1:23:00 PM

#Realtalk: If you’ve got fundamental cracks in your business model, there ain’t no Facebook targeting or performance strong enough to build revenue on that foundation.

There are a lot of great e-commerce ideas out there, started by some pretty smart entrepreneurs. It’s tempting to think that Facebook advertising is the silver bullet that can sell anything.


But before you pour your hard-earned resources into Facebook ads, take a step back and ask the hard questions about your business itself.

Could people buy my product, or one almost exactly like it, somewhere else?

If you’re a dropshipper, a reseller, or your product is just fairly common, it’s critical that you know all other outlets where customers could buy your product. You need to have a solid answer to why someone should buy from you, specifically -- particularly if you’re competing against trusted outlets like Amazon Prime or the option to stop at Target on the way home.


All too often, a business will run a great ad campaign, driving eager customers to their website -- only to have most customers open another tab to their Prime account and one-click-purchase, two-day-ship it within seconds. Quality landing pages prominently displaying solid differentiators can go a long way in mitigating this.

If price is the first word out of your mouth, raise an immediate red flag. With price as your primary differentiator, you’re signed up for a road race to the lowest possible dollar, slashing your margins. Matched against huge wholesalers and deep pocket retailers online, it’s a tough race to win.

If people see 88 other websites today, will they really remember mine?

A staggering percentage of Facebook ad failures have nothing to do with the ads. The website users land on is a yawn, and they immediately bounce -- especially if the product isn’t particularly remarkable.

If you’re selling water bottles, your website better make visitors spit water all over the screen in surprise.

Put your creative pants on and make your site the go-to site for products like yours. May we recommend: curated bundles, product reviews, usage videos, comparison charts and anything else to make the buying experience worth those few extra dollars and time in transit.

Is my Unique Value Prop really all that unique?

Can you immediately answer why your product is better than similar products? Don’t expect people to throw money at you if your big UVP is sleeves on coats. However, If you sell coats with secret inner pockets created to sneak Diet Coke and sour patch gummies into the movie theater, you could make some sales.

Even if your product is fairly common, you can be strategic in your marketing. Identify the strongest benefits of your product and broadcast them. Your ads need to quickly get to key differentiators and value-add’s of the product or brand.

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Do your homework and learn what your closest competitors are saying about their similar products -- and stop trying to say the same things. Shake up the product dialog with features and selling points they can’t match.

The best place to start? Think about the problems your potential customers face and show how your product solves those problems.

Is my market really big enough? Do I have enough people to sell to?

There are probably a LOT of left handed people in snowy climates who would be thrilled to buy your glove-installed, left-handed, heavy-duty ice scraper. But you’ve already cut off a huge percentage of people to target. It’ll likely take a lot of testing audiences, creative and placement to arrive at ads that’ll consistently sell something so niche.

(Note: at the time of writing, Facebook has yet to target in which hand the user holds the mobile device.)

Similarly, “shop local” can be a bad thing, if you’re TOO localized. There might be at least a dozen people in your neighborhood interested in your dog-walking service, but until you expand into other neighborhoods, you’re capped from growth.

With hyper-specialization and micro-localization, your digital marketing is in a tough place. You need a broad enough audience to start gaining traffic and driving sales. If your potential audience is too small, you may just spin your tires indefinitely.

Think of diverse ways to use your product or broader groups of people who can benefit. Target auxiliary groups very specifically with messaging zeroed in to reasons why this seemingly esoteric product could benefit them.

Would I scroll past my own creative assets?

Studies show that people see, on average, over 5,000 images a day. Deduct out the cat memes, and that’s still literally thousands of bland stock photos, manufacturer product catalog images and stale advertising. 

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If you want your digital ads to catch scrollers’ attention, provide imagery and creative assets that stop your target audience dead in its track. Think: video, boomerang’s, gif’s, slideshows, lifestyle product photography.

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We can point to countless creative tests and anecdotal examples where interesting creative drove engagement and sales, always beating out boring flat-lay’s and manufacturer-provided model images. Dropshippers, it’s easy to just forward on white background product pics, but trust us: lifestyle or in-use imagery beats this out Every. Single. Time.

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Never lose sight of the story your creative is telling about your brand. What does your imagery say about the business and about the product?

What’s going to stop that finger from clicking Complete Purchase?

People shop online because it’s easy. Facebook ads can drive traffic to your site all day long, but if you’ve created ANY inconvenience for the buyer, you can count on losing sales -- maybe even most.

  • Check site functionality and the shop flow with a fine-tooth comb. Look for lengthy load times, forced logins, clunky checkouts, snags in payment input -- and any copy that makes the flow confusing. ANY friction whatsoever can cost you the sale.
  • Shore up your inventory. If your ads drive to a product that’s out of stock, you’ve got no sale and a sad shopper. A double womp. Forecast carefully and keep your ads up to date.

If the issue is more abstract, like customers would like to try on before they buy or feel the quality first hand before making a big-ticket purchase, brainstorm ways to remove the friction -- and turn the solution into a selling point.

Take Warby Parker, for instance. Many people are insecure about how glasses -- particularly Warby’s bold, trendy frames -- will actually look on their face shape. Warby turns Free Shipping and Free Returns (offered by many retailers) into “Try on before you buy -- without ever having to visit the store!”

Honest answers to tough questions can produce brilliant ideas

After flooding you with reasons businesses fail with Facebook advertising, we want you to know one thing:


No matter where you stand on the spectrum of answers to these questions, brutally honest self-evaluation has the power to deliver up creative solutions that can transform your business from a pretty good idea to a company that customers return to time and again, telling their friends and family about -- a reliable money-maker.


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