Ways to Improve Ad Performance

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Ever think to yourself, “No one in history has ever created such a compelling ad – I’m going to make a million bucks!”?

But then: Womp, womp.

What happened to your dreams and glory? Your brilliant ad didn’t work. What went wrong?

Why Are My Ads Not Converting?

Maybe your audience just doesn’t realize what kind of genius they’re dealing with, right?

But typically, ads don’t convert because:

  • The audience seeing the ad is not receptive to the message.
  • The audience that would be most receptive to the ad is not seeing it.
  • The ad copy and/or design do not resonate with the user enough to generate an action.
  • The user experience after clicking on the ad is not optimized to lead to a conversion.

Luckily, most ad issues can easily be fixed without Mensa membership. (That’s a society of geniuses, ICYMI.)

In this post we’ll dig deep into reasons your Facebook ads, Google (or other search and display) ads, and landing pages are not converting. We’ll also recommend ways to fix your campaigns.

5 Reasons Your Facebook Ads Are Not Converting

Everyone’s favorite social network for thoughtful and nuanced discussion (*eye roll*) can be really good at finding an audience ready to convert. So when your Facebook ad is not leading to conversions, it can be especially flustering. Recent Facebook updates in response to Apple’s iOS 14 privacy updates have further complicated things – a cluster-fluster, if you will.

In short, Facebook ads may not be converting because:

  1. The iOS update changed the playing field.
  2. The campaign settings need to be updated.
  3. The copy and creative haven’t been tested.
  4. Your audience is too narrow.
  5. Ad frequency is too high.

So if your Facebook ads are not converting like they used to, here are some ways to give them a turbo booster.

Be patient with the iOS update.

Have you recently enabled some ads or noticed long-running ads that stopped performing since iOS 14 was released? If so, then be patient. Facebook’s ad algorithms are going through a punctuated equilibrium and need to evolve new behaviors. But while you wait, check your Facebook resource page, and ensure all tasks are completed.

Speaking of waiting, does Facebook tell you your ads are in a “Learning Phase”? If so, read Facebook’s documentation for getting your Ad Set to exit the Learning Phase.

Adjust campaign settings.

Is your Facebook campaign set up for success? Facebook campaign objectives fall under the categories of Awareness, Consideration, and Conversion. If you want your Facebook ads to convert, then you will most likely be using the Conversions campaign objective. You can’t change the objective of a campaign once it’s on, but you can create a new campaign and copy over your ad sets and ads.

Test ad copy and creative.

Your ads may be brilliant, but that doesn’t mean your users will see it the same way. Try to run three versions of your ad copy and two different images. See which versions perform the best, and then iterate on those winners.

Broaden your audience.

Think about your ad campaign as a tree. The audience settings are like the leaves; you need enough leaves to soak up the sun (i.e., attract the right users). Otherwise, you’ll cause a phototrophic effect, and your campaign will shrivel and perish. Facebook audiences can be created with multiple interest layers, and it may be enticing to prune and prune the layers to get to what you assume is an ideal audience. Yet assumptions are not observations, so the audience you create for your ads may be a mismatch. What to do? Be sure you have an Ad Set in Facebook using a lookalike audience based on previous converters. We’ve found that 2% to 5% Lookalike audiences have historically generated conversions the best.

Also worth noting is a new phenomenon digital marketers are seeing in Facebook since the iOS 14 responses: the “no audience” audience. Basically, this strips away almost all audience targeting layers and lets the Facebook pixel and ad algorithms handle the audience targeting. If you have the budget and appetite for testing this, it is something worth trying as we can confirm that in some circumstances it is a strategy that produces results.

Check the delivery frequency.

What’s the frequency, Kenneth? Don’t forget to look at delivery frequency of your Facebook Ad Sets. Treat this number like after-work cocktails – one may not be enough, but five is way too many. Showing the same ads to the same users over and over will result in frustration and suboptimal results.

4 Reasons Your Google Ads Are Not Converting

Some common reasons for Google ads not converting include:

  1. Ads aren’t being tested thoroughly to optimize for clickthrough.
  2. Campaigns don’t utilize all audience options.
  3. The ad copy lacks keywords.
  4. Campaign settings aren’t fully configured.

However, common campaign problems vary greatly between search network and display network ads – as do conversion rates. This is to be expected with totally different ad formats. Also, display ads are often used to create awareness while search ads are based on intent.  

So look at search and display separately to improve your campaigns.

Here’s what we recommend doing to improve ad performance …

Search Ads

Search ads tend to convert better because they are the response to a search query. If your ad is a good response to that search query, hopefully, it will get clicks. But you have to get that big click energy going first.

How to do that:

Test and optimize for clickthrough.

You can’t get a conversion without a click. Do you have multiple ads running, and does every ad group have two expanded-text ads and one responsive-text ad? Do this, and see which ads have the best clickthrough rates (CTR). Turn off the low-performing ads, and iterate on the winners.

Tip: Use Google Data Studio to connect to your Google Ads account and look at Campaigns and Keywords on a scatter plot with one axis showing CTR and the other axis the CVR. Make the bubble size represent the number of conversions. The elements that show up in the top right quadrant are going to be your top performers. Try to make more ads like these or give those campaigns more money.

Need help making your Google Ads data more understandable?

Create a niche.

How did mammals survive the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event while reptilian dinosaurs did not? They found their niche. For search ad campaigns, you can create a niche by setting a location, demographics, and the often-overlooked audience targeting. For audience targeting, you can use Google’s built-in affinity and in-market audiences or let Google create similar audiences to people who have previously interacted with your domain in some way. When you establish smaller niches for your keywords, you are no longer competing with the rest of the Internet for attention but rather targeting users who are going to be more receptive to your offer.

Be the keymaster.

In your ad copy, are you using the keywords you are bidding on?  If not, then try it. When a user sees terms from their search query in an ad, they will be more likely to click.

Review campaign settings.

Have you set your campaign goals and bidding settings? Campaign goals can be left without a selection, or you can tell Google what you are optimizing for:

Bidding strategies are another signal to Google about how you want to use your money. There are multiple algorithm-based settings you can use, or you can bid on keywords manually

Tip: Try different bidding strategies. This type of experimentation is one of the biggest movers we see, in terms of clicks and conversions. The Google Ads interface has a “Drafts & Experiments” section that makes it easy to A/B test bid strategies. At Oneupweb, we are usually testing at least one campaign per month for each of our paid media clients.

Display Ads

Display ads are most often used to create awareness for what you have to offer, rather than a specific conversion. Yet there will be times when you’re hoping to get a conversion, such as when you’re remarketing. Some of the methods used to improve display campaigns are the same as those used for search campaigns. But there are specific tweaks to make to improve the conversion rate for display ads:

Try responsive display ads.

Our paid media team has observed better CTR and CVR with responsive display ads versus static ads.

Use more remarketing audiences.

The traditional example of “people who visit your website but do not convert” isn’t the only way of retargeting. Other means of retargeting are showing display ads to (1) the people who have spent the most time on your website without a conversion or (2) users who come from a specific channel. For example, Pinterest users may be looking at your pages for ideas and inspiration but are not ready to complete a conversion. Show them display ads later to remind them of your offerings. Get creative with the audiences you make and remarket to, and speak to their mind-set: Why did they come to your site but not convert? How do you address that objection in an ad?

Test variations.

Try to use at least three variations of your display ads with different calls-to-action and other test variables, such as colors and text.

As we approach the end of this resource, let’s talk landing pages!

Reasons Your Landing Pages Are Not Converting

Maybe your ads have good clickthrough rates but the love is gone from your landing page. How do you rekindle that spark? We wrote a guide for best practices to get your landing pages to convert , so that is an obvious place to start. What it comes down to is this: First, acknowledge that there is a problem and you can do better. Then change elements on your landing page, and measure which of these nudges has the desired effect.

Also, don’t forget to always start at the beginning. Prior to getting whacky with hypotheses of why your landing page is not converting, first go through the conversion process yourself. Did it all work from a technical standpoint? Did all the page elements load, did the proper tracking tags fire, does your reporting interface record a conversion, etc.?

Achieve Higher Conversion Rates

Have you noticed a pattern in this blog? How many times are the words “try” and “test” used? You improve your conversion rate by trying and testing ad copy, images, colors, placements, audiences, landing page layout, and more. (See: How to Improve Conversion Rate)

Paid media channels such as Google and Facebook have their own A/B experiment mechanisms. Using Google Optimize is a good way to do conversion rate optimization (CRO) experiments on your landing page. So good, in fact, that we wrote a white paper about it.

The point is, if your conversion rates are disappointing, keep trying! There is always something else to try, and if you need some ideas for what to try next, ask the CRO specialists at Oneupweb. We are steeped in the art of testing, evaluating results, and improving performance – in fact, we’re giddy with it.

Reach out to us online or call (231) 922-9977 to get the party started.

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Ever think to yourself, “No one in history has ever created such a compelling ad – I’m going to make a million bucks!”? But then: Womp, womp. What happened to your dreams and glory? Your brilliant ad didn’t work. What went wrong? Why Are My Ads Not Converting? Maybe your audience just doesn’t realize what...

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