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Why Your Facebook Advertising Is Underperforming (And What to Do About It)

You’re doing all the right things to market your e-commerce business. Your website looks amazing. Your online store is ready to go. And you’re running online ads to promote your products.

So why aren’t your Facebook ads bringing in more sales?

In this article, we’ll take a look at why your Facebook advertising is underperforming—and how you can fix it. We also covered this topic in a recent webinar that you can watch on-demand here.

But first…let me tell you a story about a woman named Michelle.

Michelle Matcha
Michelle is a small business owner. As an avid runner, she was looking for a better pair of compression socks — so she created her own. Now, she sells them online.

But as any business owner knows, promoting a new brand in the crowded e-commerce landscape is tricky. And while channels like Facebook make it easier and cheaper to reach the right people, 62% of small business owners say their Facebook ads are missing the mark.

Michelle had the same experience. Her Facebook campaigns ended up driving some sales, but not enough to make it a cost-effective channel for direct response marketing.

Where did Michelle go wrong?

Don’t treat Facebook like Google

Michelle’s biggest problem? She was treating Facebook like Google.

When you go to Google, you’re going there to answer a question. Thai restaurants near me. How to get gum out of hair. What is the best mattress?

Google search screenshot

But when you go to Facebook, you’re there to be social. To be entertained. Maybe even to see what your middle school crush is up to now. (No judgments.)

Product ads for Michelle’s Sox make sense on Google, where consumers are actively searching for compression socks. But Facebook is a different animal entirely.

So, how do you approach Facebook advertising as an e-commerce marketer?

The hard-sell tactics used in paid search won’t work on Facebook

On Facebook, it doesn’t make sense to go for the hard sell right away. You need to build awareness and focus on demand generation first.


  • Assume consumers on Facebook are ready to buy right now
  • Talk only about your brand and your products
  • Expect that people know who you are or why you’re awesome


  • Engage your audience with compelling stories and content
  • Speak to your target audience’s interests, emotions, and problems
  • Build awareness and trust before trying to sell them

To do this, you need to align your Facebook ads to each stage of the sales funnel.

Align your Facebook campaigns to the sales funnel

The basic sales funnel is made up of three stages: awareness, consideration, and conversion. As a marketer, your goal is to move people through each stage, building relationships with them until they’re ready to buy.

Achieve success with a Facebook advertising sales funnel

Let’s dig into each stage and take a look at how Michelle (and you!) can put this strategy into action.

People won’t buy from you if they don’t trust you, and they won’t trust you if they don’t know who you are. That’s why awareness building is so important.

Awareness ad on Facebook

The goal of awareness ads on Facebook is to drive high-quality traffic to your website at the lowest possible price—ideally under $0.30 per click.

But the way to do this isn’t by promoting your products. Instead, you need to deliver content that consumers want to engage with. Speak to their passions. Entertain them. Educate them. Just don’t go for the hard sell quite yet.

“Consumers who read an educational piece of content were 48% more likely to buy one week later.” – Conductor

For example: Michelle can promote blog posts on her website about ‘10 of the Toughest Outdoor Adventures in Alabama’ and ‘How to Go from Couch Potato to Trail Runner in 3 Months.’ These articles will attract very different audiences, but both will bring potential customers to her website.

Now that people are aware of your brand, you want them to consider making a purchase. Instead of using consideration ads to target a broad audience, you should use retargeting and lookalike audiences to reach consumers who are already aware of you. Here, you should be optimizing your ads to get the lowest possible cost per lead (CPL).

For example: Michelle can promote a blog post about ‘10 Things Every Long-Distance Runner Needs.’ And one of those things will be—you guessed it!— Michelle’s Sox. The article isn’t a hard sell, but it does position her products as a must-have for her target audience.

It’s finally time to make that sale! At this point, consumers know who you are, and it’s a great time to promote your products. This is where you want to optimize for cost per acquisition (CPA). In other words, how much are you paying for each new customer that’s coming in through Facebook ads?

To sum it up…

  • Don’t treat Facebook like Google.
  • Consumers buy from people they trust.
  • Build campaigns that span the entire sales funnel.
  • Make your audience fall in love with content they care about.

Now that you have a strategy for turning Facebook into a revenue engine, it’s time put your plan into action. Watch ‘How to Improve Your Facebook Ads in Under an Hour’ to get started.

Feature image provided by Anthony Rosset

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