Four reasons why your paid ads are not working


Date: 11 December 2019

A frustrated creative team can’t work out why their Facebook ads aren’t getting a better return.

In today’s digital-led world, a huge number of businesses are investing in paid advertising on Facebook and Google. With 2020 approaching, global ad spend is expected to rise by 6% to $656 billion - which is why you need to boost your paid ads now!

At The Good Marketer we believe there are four ways in which your paid ads might be underperforming:

  1. poor click-through rate (CTR);
  2. high ad costs;
  3. high ad frequency;
  4. low conversion rate.

Let’s go through these one by one.

1. Poor click-through rate (CTR)

A low CTR may not initially seem too concerning, because you are not paying for the clicks you aren't receiving - but it’s a bigger problem than you think. If you’re seeing a low CTR, it’s down to the quality score of your ad campaign.

A low quality score is caused by irrelevant keywords being matched to your advertisement. Over time, this will drag your score down, resulting in you paying more per click.

There are two other factors to consider:

  • Meta descriptions - a meta description is a short paragraph that describes your content. A good meta description for an image should read exactly as it looks - just describe what you see. This will help get your content in front of the right audience
  • Poor or non-existent extensions - extensions provide additional information to expand your Google ad, making it stand out better. For more information about extensions, visit Google Ads Help.

What is a good CTR?

The average CTR is specific to your industry, but it tends to be around 1.91%, with anything below 1% considered low.

How do you improve your CTR?

In order to maximize your ad position, first you must meet all the Google Ads guidelines, which will allow your company to be seen as one that abides by the rules.

Once this is done, you are ready to optimise your ad. There are six things to consider when improving your CTR:

  • generate urgency - fear of missing out (FOMO) will compel searchers to click on your ad;
  • use ad extensions to increase visibility - a good example of this would be "Rated #1 Digital Marketing Agency in London";
  • use symbols to get attention - try adding "70% off" or a trademark logo to show your authority;
  • embed your keyword into the URL of your ad - doing so will give your customer an idea to where they are being directed, increasing the likelihood of a click;
  • add a call to action (CTA) - this increases urgency and underlines the FOMO illusion;
  • get to know your audience - so you know what they’re looking for and what motivates them.

2. High ad costs

Facebook is one of the most popular advertising platforms in the world due to its broad demographic and large user base. Its powerful targeting and affordable prices allow you to reach thousands of people for a small cost.

A high ad cost isn't necessarily a bad thing - if you are investing a large sum in your advertisements and receiving an even higher return on investment (ROI), there is no reason to be concerned. However, if you are not seeing a good ROI, here are three steps to reduce your Facebook ad spend:

  1. Choose a specific target audience - filtering your audience and targeting those who match your business best will reduce ad spend, as competition from other companies will decrease.
  2. Use Facebook Pixel - analysing your website data will allow you to understand your customers better, resulting in your ad targeting more specific users.
  3. Try video content - this is more engaging than a simple photo, so get creative.

3. High ad frequency

The frequency of a Facebook ad is the number of times it is seen by an individual(s). Improve your ad frequency on Facebook as follows:

  • Placement - if your ad is high-quality, then it means you are targeting the right people and your ad is being placed correctly, filtering out spam traffic. However, if your ad is receiving a lot of irrelevant traffic, then you should focus on improving its quality score to improve its placement.
  • Length - 71% of marketers say that video content outperforms all other content when looking at conversion rates. The length of a video can be up to 240 minutes, but the video shown in a news feed should be short and sweet (10-15 seconds), with the option for your audience to continue watching.
  • Audience quality - the best way to boost your ad frequency to a high-quality audience is to develop your ad quality.

To ensure your ad frequency remains low, it is important to monitor it. Firstly, on your Facebook ad reports, customize the 'columns ' tab and select 'custom'. Select the 'Frequency' box under the 'Engagement' heading. Then, you can choose when you would like to receive breakdown reports - for example, by day, week or month.

If your ad frequency gets too high, either pause the campaign or consider new creative.

4. Low conversion rate

A low conversion rate across your website and Facebook ads will have a negative effect on your business. At the end of the day, you won't be making the sales that you need.

How do you calculate conversions?

Before trying to calculate your conversion rate, you should look at your current % rate, and figure out what is contributing to it by looking at other metrics such as CTR and impressions.

When you have collected your impressions, you are ready to do the maths:

Conversion rate = (Conversions or goals achieved / Total visitors) x 100

If you have your Google Analytics account set up correctly, it will display your conversion rates. However, Facebook does not have this capability, so you will need to use the Facebook Pixel tool to collect detailed insights into visitor behaviour and website traffic.

What is a low conversion rate, and how do you improve it?

Industry statistics put the average conversion rate at around 2%.

The solution to improving your conversion rate is specific to every business, but here are five steps that will prepare you to confront any issues that you may encounter.

  1. Make a good first impression - if someone is initially put off, they are not going to spend any time processing your ad or filling out a form on your website. It is important to provide your audience with relevant information that can be easily navigated.
  2. Make your target audience specific - this is a recurring theme, so make sure you are targeting the right people.
  3. Use heatmaps - a heatmap is a visual display that shows how web users interact with your digital content, identifying areas that need developing.
  4. Go mobile-friendly - by 2020, estimates suggest that 2.87 billion people are going to be using mobile phones and 40% of all online transactions will be made using mobile devices. Forgetting to create a mobile-friendly website is likely to cost you sales.
  5. Build trust - if your visitors don't trust you, they will skip your ad and leave your site. Stay away from pushy marketing techniques. Include your name, address and phone number (NAP), to prove you are a genuine company that isn't trying to scam visitors.


As emphasised above, one of the best things you can do to grow your business is to optimise your paid ads. A digital marketing agency can help you to improve your quality score and CTR, and lower your cost per acquisition.

Copyright 2019. Featured post made possible by Tom Welbourne of The Good Marketer, a marketing agency in London which drives more traffic, generates conversions and increases sales for small- to medium-sized businesses

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