Some days, scrolling through your Facebook feed can feel more like a ‘choose your own adventure book’ than a chance to catch up with friends.

Think about the last time you stumbled on a weird ‘Sponsored Post,’ and asked, “Why am I seeing this?” Quickly you realize the amount of money wasted on Facebook ads is amazing.

Memory foam mattresses, cameras, website hosting, laundry detergent, new productivity software, and more. You never can be quite sure of what you are going to see as you scroll down the page.

While Facebook ads have made advertising accessible for anyone with a small budget and free afternoon, unfortunately not everyone is using it wisely.

Through my work with small businesses and faith-based organizations on their advertising strategies, I see five areas where ads fail. Get these right, and you will stand out in the sea of sponsored ads, adding value to your audience and not wasting your money.

Here are 5 Things to Keep You From Wasting Money on Facebook Ads:

1) Your Objectives

Knowing what you are trying to accomplish with your ad is the first step. Facebook will ask you “What’s your marketing objective?” but ticking a tab isn’t enough. Getting people to register for an event is very different than watching a video to learn more about your church. The best ads involve outlining your goals and identify the follow-up process before the ad is even created.

Questions to Answer:

  • What is our goal with this ad?
    • Reach more people
    • Get website visits
    • Convert sales
    • Video views
  • What action do we want people to take?
    • Click to watch
    • Learn More
    • Register
  • What occurs when people take that action?
    • They visit your website
    • They get sent a message through FB Messages
    • They get sent an email
  • How will we follow up with them?
    • What additional information can you send
    • What questions can you answer

2) Your Audience

Knowing who you are trying to reach with your ads is key. Making your target too broad is a quick way to burn through your ad dollars without reaching the right people. For example, targeting parents with young children to attend VBS will produce very different results than targeting retired people for a mentoring program. Think through who you want to reach and any identifying characteristics about them.

Questions to Answer:

  • Who are we trying to reach?
    • Age
    • Gender
    • Location (Community Data)
    • County
    • City
    • Neighborhood
  • Life Stage
    • Single
    • Married
    • Parents
    • Retired
  • Demographic info
    • Interests
    • Behaviors
  • When are they most likely to be online?
    • Days
    • Evenings
    • Weekends

3) Your Budget

Knowing what you are able (and willing) to spend on your ad is crucial. If you have $50 to spend, a long-term ad probably isn’t a good choice for you. But a five-day campaign might be exactly what you need. You are better served to run a short term, intentional ad, then a long-term, open-ended one.

It’s important to note, the Facebook ad algorithm takes about three days to fully optimize your ad. Any budget changes you make adjusts the algorithm and restarts the process, so go in with a plan and make budget changes incrementally (25% on average) rather than all at once.

Questions to Answer:

  • What is my total budget for this ad?
    • Per Day
    • Per Campaign
  • What portion will I use to test the ad?
    • Ramp up your spending (example)
      • Days 1–3 = $10 a day
      • Days 4-6 = $12.50 (25% increase)
      • Days 7-10 = $15.60 (25% increase)

4) Your Ad

The content of your ad will make or break your campaign. Take a few minutes and look over your Facebook feed. Notice which sponsored posts make you stop and take notice, and which ones you ignore. This is a good indication of what may work for your church.

Most recently, video ads are getting exceptional traction, and they don’t have to be high dollar, overly produced. A simple video shot and edited with your iPhone and posted with a compelling text intro can be powerful. And remember, people come to social media to build relationships, ads that solve a problem or share a benefit with the reader will do best. (i.e. Working families want to keep their kids occupied during the Summer. VBS is a great, low-cost solution for a safe, fun, learning environment.)

Questions to Answer (Before Creating the Ad):

  • How can we share this info in a compelling, conversational way?
  • How will we visually support it?
    • Graphic
    • Photo
    • Video
  • What ‘call to action’ will we include?
    • Register Now with a link
    • Learn More with a link
    • Download Now with a link
  • What additional information will we deliver on the landing page we are sending them to?

Questions to Answer (After Creating the Ad):

  • Does this ad meet the objectives we set?
  • Does this ad speak to the audience we set?

5) Your Tracking

In the past, there was no way to know if your Yellow Pages, newspaper ad or print promotion had worked until it was too late. Facebook gives you real-time feedback so you can adjust your ads based on performance. If your ad isn’t working like you hoped, don’t be afraid to change it. That’s the beauty of the platform. You remain in control.

Questions to Answer (once it’s running):

  • How many impressions?
    • number of times ad is displayed
  • What is the total reach?
    • number of people who received impressions
  • What is the CPM?
    • costs per 1,000 impressions
  • What is the CPC?
    • cost per click
  • How many clicks on the offer?
  • What is the Ad Relevance score?
    • Higher numbers mean better performance

Is there anything else you would add to this list? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.