The Number One Reason People Fail With Facebook Ads (It’s Not What You Think)

Hey readers, today I want to talk about Facebook advertising and why most people who fail, do it for the same simple reason.

Have you ever noticed people say

‘Facebook ads don’t work’


‘I hate Facebook ads, they suck!’?

To me it seems these are very popular phrases right now. So much so, that I can almost imagine being able to find them in the dictionary under the word ‘Facebook’.

What most people tend to misunderstand (or ignore) is that there is no a magic bullet. And, just like with everything else worth having here in life, it requires work even if you’re a pro.

To be honest, most of your campaigns will fail. It’s part of the game.

Your job is to find those hidden gems that actually work, and generate income for your business.

As Facebook grows, so does your opportunity to scale – once you uncover an ad that delivers conversions at the price you desire.

Once you find the right ad you’ll make back everything you ‘lost’ on the wrong ads, and then some.

I know that doesn’t sound as sexy as being an advertising genius that turns everything he touches into gold, but it’s the truth.

Now let’s take a look at why you fail…

The Number One Reason People Fail

Are you ready? Here goes…


That’s it.

If you go into Facebook thinking you can spend only $50 and make a living, you’ve got the wrong expectations.

It’s possible, but for most people, not realistic.

Particularly if you, like most people (including myself), fail with your first ad or two and get stressed out by the bad results, or act emotionally when you change things. Just like anything else in life, it’s a bad idea to put yourself on the spot. Of having to make it work on too small a budget with too little time. Pressure like that is never good.

That Used To Be Me Too

The reason I know is because I used to be exactly like that.

It used to be me buying ad space for a couple of hundred dollars, thinking I was the exception. The one who could make it work. In hindsight I see how ridiculous and delusional that was. It still makes me laugh.

For several months I tried that strategy without any luck and people kept telling me my expectations were wrong. But I wouldn’t listen.

I kept running new campaigns day after day and just randomly throw stuff on the wall to see what would stick. Naturally, I’d get stressed as I was really hoping it would work each time, which lead to bad days and emotional reactions such as stopping an ad too early or keeping a bad performing running because I ‘believed’ in it, even though the data proved me wrong.

This is something that could easily happen to you too if you don’t have a habit in place specifically to deal with that.

After I learned how to deal with it (you can steal my trick later in this article) my overall results have improved significantly.

It’s amazing. Even the amount of failed campaigns has decreased!

So let’s turn things around for you too!


How To Set Yourself Up For Facebook Success

So how do you set yourself up for success?

How do you even know if you have the right expectations to being with?

And if you don’t, how do you change them?

I’m glad you asked, let’s dive right in!

First You Need The LTV. What Is That You Ask?

First you need to figure out how much you can pay for a customer or lead while still keeping a healthy profit for yourself.

You’ll need to calculate your conversion rate and figure out how much each subscriber is worth to you. You can do this based on what percentage become a customer (on average) and then, how much they buy in their lifetime as your customer.

This is called (obviously) the Lifetime Value of a customer.

It sounds like a scary calculation, I know. But it’s pretty straight forward, especially if you download my ready-made excel sheet at the end of this article.

All you need to do is enter your numbers and it will calculate everything for you.

You’ll need to figure out how much margin you need and then you will know what you can buy conversions for on Facebook. I can’t give you any advice on what a healthy margin is as each and every business is different. However, knowing this beforehand is crucial.

Simply being aware of what a subscriber is worth to you puts you way ahead of the pack. Every time you run a Facebook ad you will immediately know if it’s profitable or not.

That is a great relief I can tell you.  And, it will make everything a lot easier for you too.

How Much Should I Spend To Find A Successful Facebook Ad?

People who know what they are talking about seem to have a consensus that at least $1000 is a good starting budget. You are much more likely to achieve a good result if you set that as your minimum.

In my experience, if you know your lead-magnet is attractive, expect to run about 50-100 ads before finding one that delivers conversions at the cost you need.

Brian Carter has a chart that I borrowed to illustrate my point (thanks Brian!)


Source: Brian Carter Group

In this case they tested 160 ads in total.  Notice how nothing happened for them until their 76th ad. Had they stopped before that, they would have a “bad experience” on Facebook. However, his team had the right expectations, and knew it would take a while to make things work.

And that is something you need to keep in mind to. It’s a learning experience, and it will cost you some money. So factor that in ahead of time if you are serious about making Facebook Ads work for you.

Sorry, But You Are Going To Fail, At First

Remember the ‘trick’ I mentioned earlier?

It’s something that will improve your results A LOT. It’s so important, that if you only take one thing from this post, let it be this.

It’s an idea I learned from Ramit Sethi and his Ultimate Guide on Habits, and adopted to Facebook advertising. It’s called planning for failure.

What do you do if you know that most of your campaigns will fail but you don’t know which ones?

You plan for it!

Basically, you plan for your ads to fail and decide BEFORE you start your campaigns what you are going to do when it happens.

That way you are forced to confront yourself with the fact, and deal with the results. And by planning for it, you will actually never fail.


Because you have planned for it. You simply move on to the next step in your plan when it happens.

How To Plan For Failure

The simplest way to do this is by making a list to go through: when step one fails you just move on to step two.

What you need to do get the best results, is to create a system for yourself, expressing each outcome for your ads.

For example:

  • if I get zero conversions, I will do X
  • if it gets a CTR of 5% or less, I will do Y
  • if it gets above 5% CTR, I will do Z

If you map out these kinds of rules for yourself, you will always know what to do. And, another bonus of this method is that you will avoid acting emotionally, like I usually do.

Do yourself this favor, and don’t make the same mistake I did.

Map out your Facebook Ads plan before you start. It can cost you a lot of money.

I know this can sound overwhelming, but you don’t have to map out hundreds of rules. Start with a couple of them, and then tweak or add more as you go. Just have the main ones down before you start.

Then make it a habit to stick to your system! It doesn’t do any wonders if it’s just lying around collecting dust. Use it!

Pro Tip: 

Want a simple, yet visual tool to keep an overview of your Facebook Ad rules?

Personally, I use a mind-mapping tool called Xmind.

It’s great, and it’s free!

Some Quick Tips, To Apply Today

Something simple I have learned that might help you is to have your campaign ready the day before you want to launch it.

That way you won’t make any rushed mistakes and you’ll have time to go through the funnel again and catch any errors.

The best way I’ve found to do that is to go through the whole funnel on the device you are targeting to get the exact experience the user will have.

For example, if you are targeting mobile traffic:

  • Fire up a preview of the ad on your mobile and see how it looks.
  • Click on it and get a feeling of how the ad connects with the landing page.

Another useful thing to do is make sure you go through the data at the same time each day you do reporting. That way you ensure each ad had the same amount of time and the same time of day to gather data. Then you are comparing apples with apples, and not getting a wrong impression of how things are doing.

Key Take-aways

So there you have it. Some ideas, tips and tricks to help you make the most of your Facebook Ad campaigns.

And below, a quick summary of them again:

  • Having the right expectations will improve your success rate with Facebook ads greatly
  • Expect to spend at least $1000 on 50-100 ads to find the right ad that will bring you conversions and your desired price
  • Calculate if you can grow your email list profitably with Facebook ads (you can easily do it using my cheatsheet below!)
  • Planning for failure is the key to your success
  • Create your own system so you’ll always know what to do when you optimize your campaigns
  • Make it a habit to follow your system!

I’d love to hear what you struggle the most with about Facebook ads! Write me a comment below! You can also download my easy-to-use cheatsheet and calculate you can grow your email list profitably with Facebook advertising. Download it here.

About the Author Aske Christiansen

Aske Christiansen helps new freelancers get their first client. Read more case studies and epic guides at

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