Why your Facebook ads aren't working for you

At Merchant Mastery, we often see startup merchants struggling to get traction with Facebook advertising. If your store is going to succeed, and sustainably scale, your online advertising is something you will need to master. And while SEO and publicity are great assets to have, they are highly unpredictable and will not produce the same, consistent, bang for the buck as interruptive advertising on social media platforms.

When our Merchant Mastery experts analyze an under-performing ad campaign, we find the problems fall into these major categories.

Your Baby is Ugly - This is perhaps the most difficult news for a merchant to hear; your baby (product) is ugly. In other words, your stores' products do not have product-market-fit or do not readily stand out in a hyper-competitive marketplace. No amount of creative talent or advertising dollars will help you cure this situation. The first step, the absolute very first step, is to ensure your products have a clear product-market-fit. Without product-market-fit, your customer is going to continue scrolling.

Poor Strategy - What is your campaign objective? For example, page-like campaigns will rarely produce conversions, but they might be a component of an overall campaign that reduces your bid pricing in the future. As well, your ads must be purchased at a price to produce a positive return on ad spend (ROAS). Have you determined the proper bid amount to ensure that? Strategy is where you must answer questions like these, and a dozen more, before you do anything else. Here are some examples:

  • Target market demographics
  • Behavioural characteristics
  • Motives
  • Competitive message and your positioning
  • Geography
  • etc.

Hazy Audience Targeting - Simply put, you are not showing your ads to the right people, at the right price. The audience parameters could be too broad, too narrow, or simply not defined well enough to appeal to your real customer’s behaviour and motives.

Incongruent Message to Customer Motive - Your ad is a mini-billboard that, in a very short message, needs to promise a clear solution to the customer’s pain/gain motives. You must also do this while they are rapidly scrolling through their feed. So, the very first thing to be tested is whether the ad’s headline, message angle and copy are capturing the attention of your target audience. Multiple ad sets must be analyzed, prioritized and then monitored to find the winners. Ongoing observation ensures that the ads you are running are not suffering from fatigue.

Funnel Depth - The merchant’s funnel is either incredibly short or far too long. Remember, no one goes to Facebook actively looking for your ad. People go to social platforms for social reasons, and if they do see your ad and click it, the probability that they will buy something immediately upon hitting your landing page is low. The vast majority of the time a prospect must be targeted, nurtured, and re-targeted, to build the trust relationship to a level where they are comfortable enough to initiate a trial purchase with you. The length of this funnel must be customized for each product for a target market; personalization is key.

No-Budget - All of the above must be integrated into a working (preferably automated) system, and then fueled with an appropriate budget? How much is enough? Of course, that depends, but one thing is certain, an ad spend of $50-$100 per month is not going to be sufficient.

Customer Tracking and Analytics - Every year, something happens in the social media ecosystem that affects a marketer’s ability to measure activity to attribute effort, cause, and result. In 2021, the big announcement was Apple’s release of iOS 14, which severely hindered the ability to track customer activity and responsiveness to advertising efforts. But, as with all shocks to any business environment, the survivors will be the ones that adapt. Make sure you are part of a community that shares current information on the latest strategies and tactics that winners are deploying now.


Facebook advertising is as much an art as it is a science. Being educated about its current features, nuances, and quirks, and then deploying “what’s working now” strategies will ensure your ad budgets are delivering high-quality conversions.

Our team LOVES to geek out about Facebook optimization. So much so, that we created a tool we've been using for years and with every store we work on…


Profitability Calculator for ad spend

It helps us set achievable goals, predict profitability if we hit those goals, and ESPECIALLY, to know exactly how we can SUSTAINABLY and PROFITABLY scale ad spend!

Get your very own Profitability Calculator. Just reply “PROFIT” to and we’ll send it your way!