Monday, 28 March 2016

60 Facebook Advertising Mistakes that Make You Look like a Rookie

Competition isn’t the greatest Facebook advertising challenge you face.
It’s inertia.
People aren’t on Facebook to shop. So simply getting them to take notice and take action is extremely difficult.
It takes an amazing offer that’s too good to pass up. A compelling value proposition summarized in a headline which can’t be ignored. It needs to be backed up by the perfect hero image and descriptive ad copy. And the CTA needs to be on-point so people know what to expect.
Facebook Advertising Rookie Mistakes
That’s a lot of moving ‘creative’ pieces you need to get right, not to mention the right campaign settings or audience targeting. Even if most of it looks good, missing out on just one or two of these elements can depress click through or conversion rates, costing you tens of thousands in lost revenue.
The last thing you need, is to make simple, dumb mistakes on top of it all.
Here are 60 Facebook advertising mistakes to avoid.

Weak Offer with Poor Execution

The ‘offer’ is everything in an advertisement. If it’s the right one, to the right audience in a particular part of your sales funnel, you get magic. Otherwise, crickets.
It’s also tricky, because your offer needs to be compelling enough to stand out from the crowd, but also valuable enough to support your sales goals. Otherwise, the ads themselves seem to only target Likes.
And as we’ve seen before, that’s a losing proposition. Here are a few examples of what happens when you start with a weak (or nonexistent) offer, and combine it with less than stellar execution.

1. FiveStars

At first blush, this video ad looks good. But two problems quickly pop up.
The first is the opening question asking if the person own’s a restaurant, cafe, or retail boutique. If your targeting is setup properly, you should already know the answer to this question and it should be a foregone conclusion.
But the second, ‘… time to get rid of your punch card’, doesn’t explain why, or what a better solution is. Yes, videos get higher engagement than text. But you can’t assume somebody already has the punchline (pun intended) from the video in the ad copy being used to get their attention in the first place.
Overall, that leaves this ad feeling a little lost. It’s not quite grabbing attention at the top of the funnel, yet it’s not really driving leads either.

2. Costa Sunglasses

Costa Sunglasses, presumably sunglasses for outdoors people like fishermen, uses a fish in mid-flight for their ad. We can pick apart the vague copy, or the fish image which blends in with the background, making it seem like one of those pictures where you have to cross your eyes to know what the hell you’re looking at.
But the real kicker is the objective, or more appropriately, the lack thereof. Using ‘unbranded’ content to get attention is good! But paying for an ad where the only discernable CTA is a ‘Like’,isn’t the best use of resources.

3. Wendy’s

There’s nothing wrong with the video Wendy’s uses.
I mean, you can get Type 2 Diabetes by just watching it. But we’re in a free country, so you can stuff your face with whatever you’d like.
No the problem here is the ad copy. I still have no idea what it means. It sounds like a prophetic Yoda response, or like a bad game of jeopardy where you blurt out the first nonsensical thing that comes to mind. Also, no CTA. So… Liiiiiiike?!

4. Max Life Insurance

Compared to pitching artery-clogging “food” (and I use that term very loosely), advertising life insurance is extremely difficult.
So Max Life almost gets a free pass. Using the value proposition of ‘protecting your family’s future’ is good, although it could get a little more specific.
The big issue here lies in the first ad highlighted, with copy that reads “You lied to your wife when you said…”. I get that we’re trying to drive home that whole ‘unsecured family’s future’ thing, but making your customers feel (a) stupid or (b) ashamed isn’t the best way to go about it. Borderlinefearmongering isn’t a great substitute for a solid offer targeting a specific sales funnel step.

5. Ogilvy & Mather SA

This ad reminds me of the joke: “How do you know someone is vegan/paleo/gluten free? They tell you”.
Apparently, the South African office of Ogilvy & Mather SA won some meaningless ad award. We know that, because of this #humblebrag advert. Promoting your award win and giving ‘thanks’ to others is a good idea, but the entire execution here is a little off.
When the Ogilvy name is on the building, you get held to a higher standard. Maybe we should send them one of the old man’s books. Cmon, at least dig up a few quotes and try to follow those words of wisdom.

6. Affordable Luxury

The video here is good, and the copy is OK. Sure, we can quibble about a few small things here and there.
The only sticking point is the ~$200 price point, which might be a little steep for this medium, depending on who they’re targeting. A custom audience of past customers would be ideal, but if this is a general ad to a general audience, the return might be lackluster. Advertising high-end products, directly with a sales offer, gets exponentially more difficult the more that price point rises.

7. Indian Celebrity Selfies

True to form, this next ad practices what it preaches. Selfies of Indian celebrities. The first thing that jumps out at you (after staring longingly at the beautiful women) is that there’s no headline, no copy, and no CTA. Interesting approach. But the main issue, again, comes down to the fact that theonly objective for this ad is Likes.

8. SOCA on the Seas

This should be quick. The copy is an illegible mess. It gets truncated because, well, who needs punctuation?! There’s no image. And no CTA. Just re-read the last line from above.

9. NCB Jamaica Limited

This last one in the bunch is pretty good! Finally, we’re getting somewhere!
Yes, the man in the image doesn’t look very pleased. However it’s the ad position, Legal Counsel, which raises eyebrows. Facebook advertising is great for many things. But filling the difficult role of Legal Counsel might be tough, unless you just happen to be specifically targeting out of work lawyers in a very specific area. Even then, the medium here might not be a great fit. Surely there’s a recruiting strategy in place better suited to sourcing senior-level people than Facebook?
Ok, that was fun.
Kinda like the first few weeks of American Idol when you can laugh at all the crazy people who can’t sing.
But you didn’t come here just for laughs. Otherwise, we owe you a refund.
Instead, we have more serious business ahead, starting with analyzing how well headlines do (or don’t) convey a perfect value proposition.

Headlines & Value Props

Headlines are the succinct, persuasive outcome of a successful value proposition. Like the tip of the iceberg, but enough to convey the general idea.
Most importantly, good headlines answer one simple question: why should the reader care? What’s in it for them, or is so beneficial, that they can’t do anything else but read and act on your claim.
Effective headlines are part art, part science. You can learn a lot from the best in the business, like swiping Buzzfeed headline tricks.
And you can learn a lot by looking at bad examples. Here are a few.

10. Popslate

Whenever in doubt, err on the side of specificity over cleverness. Bnonn (whose name just blew up my spell check) does an excellent job highlighting the ‘SHINE’ headline acronym on Kissmetrics: ‘S’ stands for specificity while ‘I’ stands for immediacy.
Popslate’s ad here is decent, but the headline falls short on both of those counts. ‘Your New Second Screen’ is like a clever tagline, but it doesn’t really tell people why that’s important, or what they’re going to get from it. There’s also no urgency to act on it, because the value proposition isn’t clear.

11. Live on Kickstarter

Flying robots sound awesome in theory. Males aged 16 – 35 just had nerdgasms everywhere.
But let’s be honest: has anyone ever thought to themselves that a ‘drone’ needs to be reinvented in the first place? Are there any drone historians out there who care deeply about the ‘future of flying robots’?
While attending a start-up event, one drone manufacturer told us about how his were specifically designed to help save the lives of outdoor adventurers (like hikers, etc.) who’d gotten lost or injured and were in peril. He gave harrowing statistics about how first-responders are often too late, which was backed up by a sobbing audience member who lost a friend and wished they had a product like his.
THAT is a value proposition delivering on Specificity and Immediacy.

12. Netflix

From what I can gather, Jessica Jones is a comic book heroine with ‘tude.
Admittedly, I don’t know much about comic books. I’m not a virgin.
The problem here is that the headline assumes you know some backstory or context. Which you probably don’t, because an ‘awareness’ or top of the funnel ad usually targets people who probably aren’t brand aware. As a result, it lacks the entertainment, surprise, or otherpsychological underpinnings of other great headlines.

13. Privacy Pop

Like most of the ads we’ll see from here on out, this is a pretty good one. There’s an exclusive, limited time offer that incorporates urgency. The image is good and you can immediately tell what it is or does. The CTA is correct.
Only problem is… why do you need a Privacy Pop? The headline is direct, but it lacks Bnonn’s ‘H’ or Helpfulness, in explaining to the reader what a Privacy Pop tent will do for them (or their children).
Another thing to clutter the house and get thrown away a month after purchasing? Or an ingenious tool designed to help kids share a room but not wake each other up at night, meaning the parents get to actually sleep through the night?
One of those things is worth paying big bucks for.

14. Veeam Software

Technical, B2B companies are often guilty of ‘talking past their customers’ (as McKinsey puts it). The end result is marketing messaging mistakes that end in confusion or increased price competition.
Veeam is guilty of that here, with an ad loaded in technical jargon and empty business clichés. Their headline might as well be in Chinese.
Jargon works only if the vast majority of your customers know exactly what it means and implies, according to Robert Bly in The Copywriter’s Handbook.
If webinar attendees is the objective, a conversion-tested headline (like these from Joanna Wiebe) might be a better approach.

15. Little Helping Hands

There’s nothing more pathetic than a grown man picking on a nonprofit. So I’ll be nice.
One of the most powerful words in Facebook advertisements was found to be ‘You’ after analyzingalmost 40,000 Facebook ads. The reason, Andrew excellently points out, is because we humans have this funny egocentric point of view.
Therefore ads in general, but especially headlines, need to tell people what’s in it for them. And that’s where this one, while very well-intentioned, falls a bit short. Because it’s all about their needstheir fundraising goals, and supporting them, as opposed to the reader’s own selfish desires.

16. State Farm

Insurance companies, on the other hand, I have no issue making fun of.
Especially the same saints who tried to cheat Katrina victims. A little ironic then, that they’re encouraging people to ‘prepare for the storm’.
Cheap shots aside, this headline fails to answer ‘what’ storm, or ‘why’ people should prepare.Generalized statements like this lack Bnonn’s ‘N’ – Newsworthiness – which means actually having something to report. A stat might work wonders here, to help drive home the exact percentage of homes at risk or the specific dollar amount the average person in that area might stand to lose.

17. Nike Women

The ‘original content’ angle from Nike is inspiring and should be applauded by marketers everywhere. However this trend is still in its infancy, and ‘A Nike Original Series’ might only appeal to the aforementioned ad geeks.
A direct headline like that can only stand on the idea, or concept of an ‘Original Series’, to appeal to viewers. The series itself is more of a lifestyle play, so they’re not specifically advertising a product where you can fall back on the standard statistic, feature, or end result.
While the series itself is undoubtedly creative and speak for itself, it’s still up to this ad to sellpeople on watching it in the first place.
But cleverness alone, as Ogilvy pointed out in the 60’s, doesn’t sell by itself. “In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative, original thinker unless you can also sell what you create.”

18. Celebrity Cruises

Joanna at Copyhackers laid out a five-point headline writing scorecard to help you measure the effectiveness based:
  1. Matches expectations
  2. Grabs attention
  3. Speaks clearly
  4. Gets to the point
  5. Highlights a benefit
‘Our best offer just got BETTER’ is kinda like saying your software is ‘Our software is better/faster/cheaper’. It’s meaningless. It doesn’t explain what the offer was in the first place, how it gets better, or why customers will experience an improvement over the original offer.
Again, specificity could go a long way here.

19. PPI Check Me

PPI Check Me does a good job where Celebrity Cruises falls short, using a specific number to represent the value someone stands to gain. But… that’s about it.
What, explicitly, about that average claim amount should be interesting to people? Now that you’ve gotten some attention at least, what’s the major point or benefit. Are customers saving this amount, or throwing that amount down the drain, or… what?

20. Lower My Bills

The headline in this ad from Lower My Bills isn’t a headline at all. It’s not even a good subhead.
It’s critical to the ad because they need someone specific who fits their criteria, so it’s importance is elevated. But if we’re critically evaluating it’s effectiveness as a headline, it falls short on grabbing attention or highlighting a benefit. It forces you to go back to the big wall of text above the image to see what the point is, and even that is clear as mud.
All of that can be avoided with a simple formula like:
  • “Here’s How [Specific Homeowners] are [Getting/Saving/etc.] [$Dollar]

21. The Brace Orthodonitc Practice

The Brace Ortho practice falls victim to the same mistake we keep seeing over and over again: not explaining why. Sure, most people know what Invisalign is.
Sure, free is always good. But unless someone is specifically looking for Invisalign (which on Facebook, they’re not), this ad won’t resonate. Instead, this line reads more like an AdWords description which works perfectly if someone’s showing intent by searching for related keyphrases.
Using an ‘AdWords’ style strategy is one of the biggest Facebook advertising mistakes you can make.

22. My Top Kickstart Projects

A declarative statement a headline does not make. The image in this picture opens the door for a brilliant, negative-based headline that could talk about avoiding or protecting yourself from inadvertent spills. But instead, the empty, hyperbolic statements fall flat. In addition, themismatch in value propositions between the original description, the headline, image, and ad copy leave this entire ad feeling a little disjointed.

23. Nebraska Youth Summit

This last ad looks pretty good! Short, concise copy (which we’ll dive into next). Nice hero image. Only issue? The (Postponed) in the headline is confusing. Was this event postponed from the advertised date? Or is this making up for a previously postponed event? Even something as simple and small as a single word can throw an otherwise solid ad into disarray.

Ad Copy

Studying 37,259 Facebook ads taught us one thing: simple and straightforward copy works. That means ~14 words for ad post text, and another ~18 for the link description.
Your ad copy is there to sell the click through, not the product or service. So don’t go on a long winded explanation of features, benefits, outcomes. Instead, (a) grab attention and (b) create enough intrigue so people click through for more. That’s it. Nothing less, and nothing more.
Here are A LOT of ads that get this wrong.

24. M.Gemi

This ad is pretty good, except for one thing: ‘Our client’s favorite shoe’.
Nitpicky? Yes. But why the need to add this detail, which only goes to create confusion (are they talking about their customers, like you – the person reading – or some other ‘client’?).
Concision is the most important element of copywriting you’ve never heard of. The point is to say as much as possible in the shortest amount of words. Here, that means lose the extra qualifier and introduce some action to get people to, “Browse these 17 rich new…”.

25. Man Crates

I almost didn’t include an ad from Man Crates. Until I saw a few of them all lined up and a pattern emerged. The images were great. The headline ok, and the CTA on point.
The problem? TOO MUCH damn writing. Seriously. The description is trying to sell you every single product they have. Honestly… count them:
  1. Holiday gift for man (general)
  2. Grills
  3. Gamers
  4. DIY guys
  5. Alcohol
  6. Ammo cans
  7. Cigar boxes
  8. Concrete Bricks
And that’s just ONE ad! Instead, create individual ads around each. We learned in the last section that the key to a strong value proposition is clarity. Now you can test these against each other and pick a winner. Problem solved.


How do you critique an ad you can’t read? It’s easy when the copy is too long, and formatting poor, causing your message to get truncated and cut off the screen. In a ‘display’ style advertisement where you have a few precious milliseconds to get your point across, there’s no room for simple mistakes like this.

27. Sahara Motors

The goal of the first line is to get people to read the second. So goes every lame copywriting article. Then you come across an ad like this, and the cliché comes back to mind.
It’s bad enough that the ad text is so long. But when the first line is a run-on sentence of meaningless features, well there’s no reason to stick around for the rest. When the competition is increasing and business are paying 122% more than a year ago, your ad performance needs to shine to stand out.

28. Marvel’s Jessica Jones

Hey, it’s Jessica Jones again! This new ad from the TV show (as opposed to Netflix earlier) falls into some of the same traps as before, assuming people are character-aware to understand the ad copy tone.
However if, like most people, you aren’t familiar with her character and the show, the ad copy comes off slightly condescending and backfires.
Snarkiness works in longer forms when you have enough time to set the tone, however it’s tough to pull off when people are getting an incomplete version without the context.

29. Times Media Films

The best ad copy and descriptions should support the primary value proposition with extra evidence to boost the credibility of each claim. Easy enough on a B2B ad, but consumer ads for entertainment are a little trickier.
Still, there should be a unified message here to support seeing the new Fifty Shades Black movie beyond ‘it’s been a long week’. The first angle could include piggybacking on Marlon Wayans more, centering the message around how his brand of comedy or past movie examples are the perfect cure for a that stressful week.

30. Victoria’s Property Secrets

This ad from Victoria’s Property Secrets (best name ever BTW) reads exactly like a real estate ad you’d find in a classified or print magazine. Not that those perform well, but on this medium in this context, it’s especially problematic. Again, we see the simple and avoidable mistake of having your ad copy truncated. We also see 22(!) images attached.
Similar to the Man Crates example above, the cure here is to pick one. If the top performing Facebook ads have descriptions within 14-18 words, something’s got to give. Pick on the onefeature to emphasize, like the view that the copy describes and then, oh I dunno, ACTUALLY SHOW A PICTURE OF THE VIEW!!!
People form first impressions in about 1/10th of a second. There’s no way people have time to sift or filter through endless information and images. Help them. If done properly, they’ll click to find out more.

31. N.C.B Foundation

Ugh. Another truncated ad.
The good news, is that this one has a solid value prop! It’s just not explaining it well enough.
This Foundation donated money to a school and now they can buy good stuff with it. They’re also using words like ‘prevent’, which just caused me to start salivating. This must be how Michelangelo felt before carving David from a block of stone. So how about…
“$90,000 helps the St. Mary High School’s farm avoid erosion problems crippling their crops. Here’s how the NCB Foundation made it happen.”
Not quite a masterpiece, but a step in the right direction.

32. Screaming Owl

If you can sift through the 4-5 different value props in yet another truncated ad, you can find gold.
  1. Strike ‘Our Super… is back!’
  2. Strike ‘for one low price’.
  3. Strike ‘Available in 2 sizes… in hair’
  4. Strike ‘Very high quality!”
  5. Strike ‘Don’t miss your chance… every outfit’
And you’re left with:
“Create your little lady’s boutique bow collection instantly, starting at just 90 centers per bow! Only comes around twice a year.”

33. Enfagrow A+ Singapore

People won’t buy something on Facebook if they’re not already familiar with it. That means if you’re sticking with the $25 off sale promotion, listing out nutrients just distracts brand-aware people from the primary objective. In addition, having a short promo window is good to drive urgency. If you only have 1/10th of a second to make a first impression, double down on what’s important.

34. Convergys

Starting with ‘GENIUS WANTED’ in the image is a nice start. Pandering, but good. The first couple lines emphasize ‘you’, which we’ve learned is one of the best words to include in ads.
However, things quickly go off the rails when someone thought it was a good idea to list every single requirement of the job thereafter. The job of this ad is to open the door for people who might be interested, not screen them at the door like a bouncer. More friction = low response rates.

35. League of Conservation Voters

Overall this ad isn’t terrible. However the ad impact is impacted by kicking off with ‘passive voice’ instead of  ‘active voice’.
There are times when passive voice works to add a little dramatic flair. But it can also bury the lead by locating the most important piece of the ad at the end.
We’ll dive into this concept in more detail soon, but I’ve been waiting the last 30+ tips to talk about this next one…

36. Adidas

This entire article is a ruse. A convenient excuse to ‘research’ Karlie Kloss ads and include her here without raising my wife’s suspicions.
Beyond those questionable motives, this ad is pretty good. (See, that was passive voice.) It’s short and catchy. More lifestyle than product focused, which is good for brand awareness campaigns. The only small critique is that the #heretocreate hashtag references the campaign’s tagline, which you wouldn’t really get unless you’ve seen a few of these. Which I, ahem, have.

37. Coldwell Banker Real Estate

Ok, back to that ‘burying the lead’ bit. Using celebrities is a great use of social proof. Incorporating video with spokespeople is obviously ideal.
The problem… WTF is this ad about? The copy makes you wait, all the way until the very end of a wall of text, to see he’s talking about his house.
‘Burying the lead’, or locating the most important information under a bunch of other stuff makes it incredibly difficult to understand what’s going on, or why you should care about watching this video and clicking on that link.

38. Mr Sell Team

Another classified-style Realtor ad, complete with ALL CAPS and HYPERBOLE!!!. Here’s a quick open letter:
Dear Realtors,
Nobody, and I mean nobody, is logging into Facebook looking for the latest MLS listings in their area. Please, stop spamming us with your latest listings.
Your Facebook family and friends.
Try using a sales funnel. It’ll be worth it, and your family and friends will stop blocking you.

39. Fiverr

Design is subjective. Which means it’s value is incredibly difficult to articulate or quantify. And everyone thinks they know what’s best.
But why would people need a logo for their business? What kind of a difference does it make? To a service business, it might mean extra credibility that boosts your image and helps you get larger deals.
The end result, or output, should be your copy’s sweet spot.

40. Virgin Active Red

“My New Years resolution is to take my workouts to the next level.”
Said nobody ever.
Instead, they “want to lose 10 pounds”, “run a marathon”, or “fit in their wedding dress”.
Those are inspirational. Those are motivating.
Those get me to set down the second box of Girl Scout cookies, get off my ass, and go hit the gym.
“Taking my workouts to the next level” makes me want to keep browsing Facebook and open a third box of Thin Mints.


Facebook is a visual medium, so photos are obviously incredibly important.
Buzzumo analyzed over 100 million Facebook updates over three months and found that Facebook posts with images received 2.3X more engagement. They’re also proven to increase conversions as well. On Facebook’s Instagram, photos with faces get 38% more likes compared with those that don’t.
But there’s a right way, and a wrong way to incorporate images into ads to enhance (instead of detract) your results. Here are a few Facebook advertising mistakes that include poor, improper, or underutilized visuals.


Ok, WTF is that smudge. Like when you FaceTime your parents and their finger is covering the camera lens the entire time.
I’m assuming it’s intentional. Something clever that has to do with the song or music video presumably.
But it’s still distracting, monopolizing all of your attention and focus – instead of the pre-order link right above it.
Ad images should support the objective, not be the objective.

42. NewsWhip

Good headline, pretty good ad copy, and good CTA. But people gravitate towards the image first. And in that order, this one doesn’t make any sense.
If we’re using the image to introduce the software, surely there’s a more descriptive way (while minding that whole 20% thing). Otherwise, let’s increase the software screenshot so people can actually see what it is, or what it does. As of now, the two competing elements kinda cancel each other out.

43. Horse Eye

I get it. A horse. Horse eye.
However, it doesn’t make any sense. Relying on a single brand image alone works when you’re, say Starbucks or Red Bull. But when you’re only rocking 90 likes with ~38 people interested in your event, something a little more relevant and obvious would be nice.
The horse image keeps the focus on the brand, instead of showing actual event images which put the focus rightfully back on what attendees are going to get from taking time out of their busy schedule to attend. You know, the objective.

44. Compare Quotes & Save

The negative messaging is grandiose, but in a good direction. The stark, lonely whites contrast beautifully with a worried woman in blue.
But… too much? Showing an attractive, isolated blonde like she’s about to get ambushed in a horror movie is kinda overkill for a health insurance ad. It definitely gets attention, but doesn’t back up the claims being made in the copy (like comparing quotes, wasting money, or their unique online tool).

45. UCLA Anderson School of Management

Sure, the headline could be a little better. And the ad copy a little shorter. But the image is pretty good, and it matches or supports those other elements (e.g. showing someone who’s seemingly an international graduate and talking about their visa program). It also show’s a person’s face, which as we’ve learned, can increase ad performance.
The only issue? Why not actually show some real graduates instead of a stock image? Surely, if this program is as good as they say it is, they have loads of international graduates who could add more realism than fake, blurred out people. After all, people are on Facebook to connect with other real people.

46. Paragon Department Store

There are a few issues with this ad, including the truncated ad copy. There are too many images. Simplicity and focus on a single value proposition would help whittle these options down to the single, best option.
Otherwise, the glaring issue (pun) is that these images appear blurry. This might be taking realisma little too far in the other direction. Even an iPhone 6 would take a more professional looking photo.
Call me crazy, but I believe these issues are systemic. Not prioritizing quality in one area of your business (like advertisement photos) trickles down to accepting subpar quality in other areas as well. The result? You compete on price, as this 60% off sale indicates.

47. Mike Warren

Mike seems like a nice guy. But people don’t want to attend Mike’s events because he’s nice. They want to attend because he’s effective, and they will discover his bu$ine$$ flippin’ skillz.
Selling information is very persona-driven, so I get that highlighting yourself is a ‘thing’. But theninstead of the 90’s style glamor shot with a stock background, sip some Cristal on a yacht or something. Have a little fun with it!

48. Glamour

Ali MacGraw is a 76-year-old, former actress and model who was once married to Steve McQueen. Apparently, Kendall Jenner (you know, those Jenners) is channeling her. OR at least, that’s what the headline is alluding to.
A better way to make a comparison between two seemingly unrelated things (or people, in this case) could be to actually compare them side by side in the image. Otherwise, you’re over-relying on assumptions which don’t always translate in the sub-one second glance your ad is going to get.

49. Custom Ink

The last image example is decent! The headline and copy is a little short and generic, sure. The image they’re using is OK.
But instead of a generic product image, let’s try showing some of those potential use cases in the link text. Better yet, let’s create individual ads, at least one for each – family, schools, teams, businesses – with specific targeting properties and real examples of family hoodies, school hoodies, team hoodies or business hoodies to each of those segments.
You can even take this further! What types of campaigns or promotions would influence each? Family summer vacations? Back to school in the fall? Youth sports in the spring? That big tech conference your past customers keep talking about?
Now you’re taking an isolated, random ad campaign and tying it in with your promotional calendar for the year, piggybacking on other channels so your efforts work together (instead of competing for attention).

Calls to Action

Calls to Action should be the most element on your ad, instruction viewers to do whatever it is you’re paying for. Unfortunately, it’s one of the most overlooked or misused elements of Facebook ads. Here are a few examples of common mistakes that pop up time and time again, so you know how to avoid them on your own campaigns.

50. Car and Driver

CTA’s can be explicit, like using Facebook’s buttons. Or they can simply be in the form of an intrigue-building line instructing the reader what to do next.
For example, what is the primary objective for this content piece? Without one, you’ll get split reactions of visits, likes, comments and shares. However if the purpose of boosting this post is to actually get readers to click and visit the site, tell them to! Even something simple that impliesaction (like ‘Start browsing’ or ‘Check out’) can help people understand what they should be doing, which in turn will help your results.

51. Brilliant Earth

Brilliant Earth has done that, kicking off with action-oriented language like ‘Shop’ with a bitly link. But in this case, why no button? It’s like fumbling on the 1 yard line.

52. FennTech LTD

Just as tech B2B companies talk past their customers, consumer tech companies mistakenly attempt to sell on features, instead of outcomes. The result? You’re forced to compete on price, as FennTech LTD is. We probably shouldn’t be stuffing price data into a tiny ad like this.
But what’s more egregious, is they’re going for a sales message with no CTA. If you absolutely have to stuff too much content in your message so that it gets cut off (which, as we’ve gone over, you still shouldn’t), at least, put the CTA at the beginning so people know what they’re expected to do with this information. Otherwise, it just reads like a billboard or print ad, making it passive instead of leveraging Facebook’s interactive strength.

53. Perry Ellis

Videos of your products in use are a great way to quickly convey value and generate interest. Trouble is, when you use a nonsensical hipster phrase underneath, you kill any momentum. To make matters worse, there’s no CTA of any kind.
Brand awareness campaigns aren’t supposed to be selling products per se, but they should be selling the brand still! A website visit? A like? A share? Bueller?

54. Cadbury Dairy Milk

Same goes for this Bodhti Dosti campaign from Cadbury Dairy Milk. Are we supposed to ‘Like’ friendship? ‘Like’ Cadbury? Talk about our friendships or share with our friends?
The other jarring element is that the ‘print’-style creative here doesn’t match the actual video campaign. Why no video?!

55. Adonit

Good name. Good video. Decent headline. Aaaaaannnddd action?
We can ‘learn’ more, ‘discover’ more, ‘see’, ‘get’, ‘browse’ or some other action to indicate what you want people to do after watching this video.

56. Microsoft Office for Business

It’s refreshing to see good ad copy after the last section. Implying that your taxes are ‘out of control’ is great. The headline is good.
The current ‘Learn More’ CTA is a good idea but kinda conflicts and contradicts the headline which is instructing people to Register. So you could change ‘Learn More’ to ‘Sign Up’. Or you could change the headline to be a softer sell. Or you could add another line under the headline to set the context for the CTA. Or you could A/B test all of these!

Intentionally Misleading

Most of the ads we’ll look at today have execution mistakes that are well intentioned, just misguided.
But some, unfortunately, border on outright lies. These are the most egregious mistakes because they’re often intentionally misleading, disguising their ads in order to drive up click-through rates.
Call us crazy, but using the old bait-and-switch doesn’t sound like the best approach to creating a good first impression with your customers. We’re going to highlight just a few before wrapping up, but Andrew eloquently highlights a few other ways that some unscrupulous Facebook advertisers try to trick you.

57. Insurance.Comparisons.Org

The most common misleading Facebook advertisement is usually disguised as a news story, using a ‘new rule’ or ‘secret’ as the lure.
Look: I’m no choir boy. Negative messaging is right up my alley. This article is case in point. But it’s framed as an opinionated, persuasive argument. Not a faux news story to trick you into clicking through.

58. Knowledge Source

The second example builds on the first, promising untold riches to those brave enough to attend a free investment training. These exaggerative claims are high on hyperbole, less on reality. The ‘too good to be true’ scenario typically is.

59. News Expand

More of the same vein, another ‘secret’ of making money published by a ‘News’ company. Any rational, sane person knows that there aren’t just 7 simple steps to going from getting evicted to becoming a millionaire. Then again, maybe that’s not their target audience?

60. The Times Messenger

Aaaannnnddd another. Complete with the Michael Jackson lookalike. I mean, the face is blurred so it might be him. Michael and 2Pac are sitting on a beach in Australia somewhere with this pile of money.
Also, their logo is kinda a ripoff of TMZ’s, isn’t it?
Sorry, kinda phoning it in on this last one. Point is, if your goal is to truly persuade people to do something (like purchase something eventually instead of just optimizing for clicks on your grandiose ad title), you need to pull back a bit and stay grounded. Like Ross did in opening this excellent traffic article. Trust, if selling, is everything.


Companies obsess over what ads their competition is running, or what creative they’re emphasizing.
But your primary objective isn’t to beat the competition. It’s to get people to sit up, take notice, and take action eventually.
Getting people to do something – anything! – is incredibly difficult. Don’t make your life even more difficult by making simple, avoidable mistakes. Vague headlines, truncated ad copy, confusing images or no calls to action, can kill any credibility or momentum your ads have.
That extra focus has absolutely nothing to do with the competition. And as we’ve seen, many times doesn’t require any crazy ninja marketing skills either.
Instead, it has everything to do with attention to detail. Or lack thereof.
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