I feel like there are two types of people when it comes to Facebook ads: those who love them and are excited to learn more and improve how they use them, and those who are intimidated by them and would rather go organise their fridge than learn more about them.

There’s been a LOT going on in Meta ad land lately. As a platform, they’ve been rolling out a lot of changes and updates over the last few months, and things have been changing in a pretty significant way. 

What worked with social media advertising a year ago doesn’t work like that anymore.

Does that mean we should all throw up our hands and give up on these platforms in disgust? 

Nah I don’t think so. Love em or hate em, there’s an ENORMOUS potential to get in front of your customers with advertising on Facebook and Instagram, so the business case for sticking with it is definitely there in my opinion. 


You do NOT want to just boost a post or throw up an ad without a proper strategy. And I DEFINITELY see people make a lot of mistakes that hurt the potential of their ad to convert into profitable results. Which basically costs you money, right? 

So in this article, I’m going to explain the top five mistakes I keep seeing eCommerce brands make with their Facebook ads ALL the time.

The 5 Biggest Facebook Ad Mistakes eCommerce Businesses Make

None of the mistakes I’m going to talk about are about specific ad types or campaign setup. For sure, it’s easy enough to make mistakes with how you actually set up your ads in the ads manager. 

But I believe that stuff is easily fixable. Whereas there are some bigger mistakes people make and just don’t realise it’s actually really important to the success of your ads.

That’s what I talk about in this article. Plus I give you step–by–step, tangible strategies for avoiding them, or course correcting if you might be making these mistakes.

Mistake #1: Not setting goals

So the first mistake I see happens before you even get into the ads manager. And this is something I see happen a LOT, with start-ups as well as businesses that are already scaling up.

And that’s: not defining what success means for their marketing. 

So what is your sales goal? What does that look like for the next month, 90 days, and 12 months? 

What marketing strategies will you execute to achieve that sales goal? 

And then, what’s your budget for ads, and how much are you going to make from that ad spend? What cost-of-sale can you afford, profitably?

A lot of times people start ads too late – when they’re already desperate for a fast hit of traffic and sales – and then pull out too fast, and it’s because they’ve gone into it without any specific goal or definition of success. 

Like, “I think I’ll spend $100 dollars and see what happens.” 

What I encourage people to do in order to get the best results from your ad spend is say, “Over the next 90 days, I want to make this many sales, which equals this many dollars”.

And then you work backwards from there to figure out what your investment in ads should be.

Because if you go into ads and you’re kind of just picking a number and then seeing what happens, what will happen is you’ll start running ads and you’ll say things like, “I have no idea if this is working or not, and I have no idea where to put my time and energy to get it to work.” 

Or, I see people who will boost a post thinking it’ll be a magic button that will drive a tonne of traffic and sales, and get super disheartened when it doesn’t work like that.

And so then you end up probably just turning your ads off and waiting a few months before trying again – I’ve seen that scenario play out so many times. 

At this point, you may be thinking, ‘OK Catherine. I know how much money I want to make each month in my online store. But I don’t know yet how much I should budget for ads.” 

Is that a familiar struggle for you?

Let’s break it down a bit more:

As an example, let’s say you want to make $10,000 in a month from your ads. 

Your average order value is $100, which means you need 100 orders. 

An average cost per purchase with your Facebook ads will be about a quarter of that, so $25, times by 100 orders, equals $2,500. So your budget for ads would be $2,500.

Now, before you start to freak out and think you can’t possibly make money in business if it costs you that much…

Keep in mind that you should only be getting around 20% of your traffic and sales from your paid Facebook ads. 

And those ads will help you to grow your email list and to increase your organic search traffic and your referral traffic. 

So the $10,000 revenue from your Facebook ads might cost you $2,500 in ad spend. But your total revenue from all sources should end up being more like $50,000. Which is a pretty damn good result in my books and I would definitely want to scale that business!

So, moral of the story is, before you even start ads, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or advanced advertiser, you need to go into it knowing your sales target, your strategy to achieve that goal and your budget.

That way, when you start running ads, you’ll be able to assess whether you achieved success or not.

Mistake #2: Relying only on one channel

This one is a big one. And I totally get it – this is the path of least resistance. Just getting your head around marketing on one platform is definitely going to feel easier than using multiple platforms. 

But it’s risky. Especially when it’s a platform where you don’t own your own audience and you’re at the whims of whatever changes to that platform are being rolled out.

And it’s also just not going to be as effective either. 

There’s been plenty of research over the decades that proves customers need to see your brand and interact with you multiple times before they’re gonna buy. 

And if they do that in various ways and on various platforms, all the better. 

So you will always have much bigger, better results from your paid Facebook ads if this is only one piece of your marketing puzzle. 

Once you’ve worked out all your marketing messaging and you know who your customers are, you want to be communicating with them with that consistent messaging via multiple channels. 

Website, emails, Google, Facebook, Instagram and wherever else your ideal customers hang out.

I especially advocate for you to be always building your email list. 

100% of our clients who are automatically building their email list and using automated email marketing as part of the mix, achieve much bigger and more profitable results from their paid Facebook ads, compared to the ones who do not use email.

Building other marketing strategies into the mix like email and search engine marketing, can literally double the profitability of your Facebook ads.

Mistake #3: Not testing enough

The next mistake that many people make is they don’t do enough testing, especially of your ad creatives (your ad copy, your images or video). 

In my opinion, when I see someone saying that their ads aren’t working, 85 to 90 percent of the time it’s because the messaging is not hitting the mark with the customer.

It takes a lot of work to really understand who your ideal customer is, what their buyer journey looks like, how to speak to them and how to stand out in the newsfeed. 

Most brands will have multiple segments of ideal customers as well.

For example, our client Babiators kids sunglasses have a segment of customers who are buying the superior sun protection and others who are buying the cute fashion aspect.

The messaging that appeals to one of those segments won’t appeal to the other, but if you don’t test you won’t figure that out and you’ll ultimately leave an enormous pile of cash on the table!

And ever since the Apple iOS 14.5 update that impacted data tracking and privacy, it’s become even more important to go deeper, to take it to the next level with engaging ad creatives that to your ideal customers’ various pain points and desires. 

Just a couple of weeks ago I audited an ad account for a brand that had the most divine products and had experience huge success generating revenue via Facebook ads before that Apple iOS update came into effect.

After the update? It dropped off a cliff. And I could immediately see that the (lack of) ad creatives was hurting the account. They literally had one creative showing to all audiences, cold and warm.

Try to have at least three versions of your ad that you’re testing. Maybe it’s a long form of copy and a short form of copy, and then you have a video and an image.

And before you try and take a shortcut by asking me, “Well, what works better: video or image? long copy or short?”

I’m sorry, but there is no concrete answer, because it’s truly different for every brand and every audience. 

Now, in recent times since Reels became popular I do frequently see video work better, but then in some cases I see a static image with no text work better for somebody. So the more testing you can do and the more deep you can go with your messaging to stand out, the better your ad results will be. 

Just remember, 85 percent of time when your ads aren’t hitting that cost-per-purchase goal or they’re too expensive or they’re not converting, it’s because of your messaging.

Because it takes time for a brand to really, truly know your customer, but the person who knows them the most and can talk to them the best in the newsfeed will always win. 

Mistake #4: Blaming poor results on the ads

And no, I’m not saying that because I’m biased! For sure, there are plenty of situations where I’ve seen some situations where it actually was the ads causing the crappy results. 

One situation quite recently, we audited an ad account for a really awesome creative play product for kids. 

It was one of those really cool brands that you see all over Instagram, producing awesome images and videos showing kids how to come up with imaginative play ideas. They had fantastic images and videos, and the whole brand personality was bright, vibrant, colourful and FUN! 

Yet the ads were sooooooo boring. Like, not even something that would stop you scrolling your newsfeed for long enough to read or look at the ad.

Another scenario we saw recently was for an organic skincare brand that had heaps of amazing social proof with customers giving glowing testimonials and great user generated content on their Instagram feed. 

Their ads were performing poorly as well, but it really wasn’t the fault of the ads, it was the website. 

The website was poorly designed with a confusing navigation, none of the brand personality showing through, and really just did not give website visitors a reason to trust the brand or to purchase.

It would have been an extremely disjointed experience for customers to go from the ad over to the website.

So in the first scenario I described, the ads were the problem, and in the second scenario it was the website.

You really need to use a mix of common sense as well as analytical ability to decipher where the issue is. 

That can be hard sometimes. If you’re the brand owner, you’re really close to your brand and familiar with your own website, so it can be really difficult to be objective about reviewing your marketing or your website. But it’s so important to put yourself in the shoes of your customers and look at it from their perspective. 

And then, obviously you need to learn how to interpret the actual results the ads are telling you and let that data inform your next steps. 

Which leads me to….

Mistake #5: Not paying attention to the numbers

The fifth mistake I want to mention is not paying attention to the numbers. Whether this is because they don’t want to face the reality of what the numbers are telling them, or they just don’t understand the metrics at all. 

Historically, before the advent of digital marketing made it so easy to track results, we used to have to rely on more broadcast style advertising. Like TV, radio, and print advertising in news media and magazines. 

Back then, you’d hear the phrase, “I know 50% of my advertising works. I just don’t know which 50%!”

Which was true because it was so broadly targeted without the tracking capabilities we take for granted on digital platforms these days. 

Nowadays, with digital marketing strategies like Facebook advertising, it’s a whole lot easier to track your results. 

Don’t let that fool you into thinking that you can track results after spending $2 or $10 and assume that’s enough ad spend to extrapolate results out and predict your future success. That’s a scarcity mindset talking.

Like I said earlier, you definitely need to do enough testing to get your messaging and targeting really dialled in and converting. 

But beyond that, you need to monitor your performance metrics.

And you need to monitor them across your website and all your marketing channels, not in isolation. 

The days are very much gone, where you could expect a customer to purchase after seeing one ad. 

Our marketing needs to work as a system, with consistent messaging across multiple channels. 

So if you’re reviewing your performance metrics inside your ad manager and you’re seeing a lot of people clicking over to your website but then leaving, go and review your website.

Or if loads of people are adding to cart and then dropping off, don’t just run an abandoned cart ad. Literally go through your website and see if there’s a sticking point at the add to cart point.

We recently had a client experience this scenario and it turned out there was a weird bug in her website that was preventing Android mobile users from adding to cart and either returning to the shop to continue browsing or proceeding forwards and checking out.

Major bummer when customers can’t check out of your store huh! Good thing was, we were able to identify and fix that issue and her ads started converting immediately. 

By avoiding or overcoming these 5 mistakes, you’ll be able to run profitable social media ads and grow your online store more efficiently and consistently over time.

Work with an eCommerce ad expert to get results faster

If you want to achieve profitable growth for yourself as fast as possible, then why not book a free Strategy Session with my team?

It’s a conversation where we talk goals, hurdles and strategies, and there’s completely no-obligation on you to work with me afterwards.

If you’re looking to supercharge your product sales and boost profits instantly, then I invite you to book your session with us today.

Click here to find out about working with Catherine Langman

The 5 biggest Facebook ad mistakes eCommerce businesses make

Updated: 27th February 2023