Facebook Ads Not Working? This Is the One Tweak to Try First

Even with the best Facebook ad training money can buy, you’re going to have some ads that flop. It happens to everyone, even me!

There could be a few different factors at play when your ads don’t perform very well, and it’s important that you learn to read your results in order to figure out what the “problem” really is. 

But in my experience, a LOT of ads that aren’t working can be turned around by doing one thing: trying a different audience. 

Jill Bryan of Creative Oasis Coaching came to me when she wanted grow her list with Facebook ads. She had worked with a business strategist on her messaging and offerings, and was ready to drive traffic to a new opt-in, the Permission to Be Creative 101 guide. 

After teaching Jill about tracking conversions and the ins and outs of the Power Editor, we wrapped up our first coaching session with a campaign that had two ad sets: one that targeted fans of her page, and one that targeted people interested in Big Magic.

Here were her ads:

Facebook ads not working - target audience case study

This is the full text on all three of them:


And here are the results of Jill’s first round of ads:


As you can see, the cold audience that targeted people interested in Big Magic outperformed the audience that targeted her fans. I was definitely surprised! But we concluded that a lot of her fans had probably already signed up for it and therefore weren’t paying much attention to this ad.

The reports told us that people in the Big Magic audience were clicking on her ads at a high rate, but not really converting over on her sign-up page. We worked on improving it that page in our next session; my theory was that Jill had a good audience and just needed a higher conversion rate on her sign up page.

Two days later we looked at the results of the same ad set, only to see that no one else had signed up! More money spent, but no new subscribers. OUCH.

Because Jill’s ads still had a decent click-through rate over to her opt-in page, I was certain that this audience was interested in what she had to offer! There must have been a disconnect between the ad and the opt-in page, something that caused people to fall out of the funnel before even signing up.

We made more changes to the ad itself, and more changes to the landing page. “Don’t give up on this audience yet,” I told Jill.

Panic Mode

After a few more days of running ads to the Big Magic audience, Jill did get more sign-ups for her free guide. Her opt-in page started converting a bit better, but it had only gone from a 10% conversion rate to 15%. Jill’s new subscribers were now costing her more than $4 each, which was definitely too expensive.

At this point I was starting to worry. I can’t guarantee $0.50 leads for everyone I work with, but to be stuck above the $4 mark? Something was just OFF here.

“It’s time to try new audiences, Jill. Let’s see if we can cash in on the adult coloring book craze.”

We brainstormed a lot of different interests she could try that were specifically related to coloring. Here’s the new audience that Jill came up with:


Facebook told us there were 40,000 people in this audience. For context, that’s a pretty small and very specific audience.

I thought Jill might need to try several new audiences before finding one that would really work. “Don’t schedule another session with me until you’ve tried out 3 or more new audiences,” I told her.

The Breakthrough

3 days later, Jill posted this to the Absolute FB Ads Support Group:


$1.80 per lead! A 30% conversion rate on her opt-in page! Compared to Jill’s previous results, this was cause to CELEBRATE.

And all because she took ads and an opt-in page that were doing just OK and tried out a different target audience.

A few weeks later, Jill posted again:


This is exactly the kind of post you want to see less than a month after your clients’ campaigns were, well, bombing.

In the end, this new audience netted Jill 303 new subscribers for an average of $1.66 each.

Was Jill’s Case a One-Time Stroke of Luck?

At the same time that I was coaching Jill, I saw similar results happen for other clients who tested out new audiences with ads that hadn’t done well in the past.

After finding an extremely successful audience over a year ago, business consultant for artists Laura C George was struggling to get the same inexpensive sign ups for a free video training. She tried different images and ad copy, but people in this audience simply weren’t clicking or signing up the way they used to.

Once we landed on a new audience, however, Laura’s leads dropped down from $4.20 to $0.85 each. Despite the fact that this new audience had an extremely limited reach with narrow detailed targeting, it continued to do well across a spend of about $300.

Check out the best-performing ad in this campaign:

Facebook ads not working - target audience case study

This one ad got 70 shares! This ad + audience combo was a knock-it-out-of-the-park success.

Don’t Give Up

I know how confusing, frustrating and downright overwhelming choosing the perfect Facebook ad audience can be. Especially when you know that a LOT is riding on getting your ad in front of the right people . . . that’s a lot of pressure, right?

Probably about 75% of the questions I get from customers and clients revolve around their Facebook ads not working. If you’re staring at your metrics and wondering how you can improve them, start by running existing ads to 3 or 4 brand new audiences (and make sure one of them is a lookalike audience).