What to do when your Facebook ads stop working

December 12, 2017
 What to do when your Facebook ads stop working

I probably receive one call or email a month from distraught marketers when their Facebook campaigns fall off a cliff. So here's my guide on what to do when the s**t hits the fan!

Firstly, if you're reading this post because everything has exploded, remember that it's very common (in all digital marketing channels), and you are not alone! The silver lining is that once you've fixed it, you'll have learnt more about how your marketing campaigns REALLY work, than a year of tweaking campaigns. You have to go through this pain a few times as a marketer, and your overall marketing strategy will be better because of it.

What I'll run through is how to debug your marketing campaigns, and find the cause - or at least the leavers you can pull to make a difference today. So lets get started!

Steps to debug your Facebook Campaigns

  1. Find a quite, happy place, and put on some headphones. It's time to become one with your marketing data.
  2. Unless you know exactly which Facebook Campaign or Adset has stopped working, then start at the bottom of your marketing funnel and work up, rather than getting lost in the data. This is a good thing to do anyway from time to time.
  3. Firstly try and isolate if it’s a website/app or channel issue, so check conversion rates of channels and see if they all dropped together, or if it was just one channel.
  4. If it’s all your web traffic, then go through Google Analytics or Facebook Analytics, and look at where the funnel has gone wrong, working up from the conversion/purchase first. This means looking at conversion rates from cart to purchase, or lead to sale etc. Look at the past 2 weeks vs a previous 2 weeks worth of data where things were normal.
  5. Firstly, has one marketing source conversion rate or volumes of traffic drastically changed?
  6. What has changed on the website?
  7. Was it a particular day that things nosedived?
  8. Is stock availability ok for your key products or categories?
  9. Look at browsers, mobile devices to see if theres an issue with conversion rate on specific devices?
  10. Also check key customer journeys to see whether there are differences in the top journeys through to purchase.
  11. If it’s a channel issue e.g Facebook, then map out the funnel for Facebook, and repeat the deep dive. Fire up the past 2 weeks, and 2 weeks from a time when things were great. Map out the funnel again, but this time with a channel perspective work top to bottom, rather than up the funnel! 
  12. You might want to export your data and group by similar Adsets, if you create lots duplicates of the same within your 2 week periods (generally I don't recommend this if you can avoid it. It's better to rotate creative, and keep your old campaigns or adsets for quality score history).
  13. Firstly, is it all campaigns, or some campaigns? Is it all adsets, or some adsets? If it's a particular campaign or adset, then it's probably just ad decay. I'l write a separate post on ad decay and how to fix it at some point - But, as a quick fix is just to rotate in some fresh creative!
  14. For dire account-wide issues then keep digging;
  15. CPM changes - You'll then need to look at why e.g Relevancy score.
  16. Reach
  17. Click through rates
  18. Add to basket ratio
  19. Cost per add to basket
  20. Cost per sale
  21. Relevancy scores of ads.
  22. Demographic breakdowns i.e were you getting lots of one age/gender, and now your not?

Failing all that, if you know that it's a Facebook ads issue exclusively, then it might be time to reset and build the campaign(s) up from scratch. It could just be ad decay, so a hard reset will test that.

In absolutely dire situations, you might even want to try a new ad account. But proceed with CAUTION. By reseting everything you lose your ad history, and account history if you go that far. It will take time for the optimisation algorithms to build up again.

Hard Reset on your Facebook Ads

To do a hard reset on your Facebook ads, here's another quick guide.

  1. If it's a specific campaign, you could first try simply duplicating the campaign, and restarting it.
  2. If that doesn't work, start with your best audiences/adsets from before and build up everything again step by step. e.g 1% Lookalikes and another nice prospecting one in a new campaign.
  3. Use some fresh creative (3/4 treatments), perhaps inspired, but not the same as your best performers before.
  4. Remove retargeting for now, so these don’t take pixel conversions from the prospecting campaigns.
  5. Gradually build up your campaigns again, taking inspiration from the ones that worked best before first.

Good luck, and let us know if you think there's anything we've missed, or other tips and tricks for debugging!

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