I know I always said that great content is what you need in order to succeed as a blogger and bring readers that turn into cash money for your pockets, but sometimes a little bit of a boost doesn’t hurt. At least that’s what I said to myself when I decided to try Facebook ads to promote one of my recent articles: an affiliate article with a revenue potential between $20 and $100 per sign-up. And guess what? My Facebook ad – a simple post boost – was a HUGE success: my article had almost 9,000 reach, 163 likes and 3 shares. I was going to be rich!
…but this is not a success story, unfortunately…
Of course, the first thing that I did after seeing those huge numbers was to rush to the affiliate website and see just how rich I was. ZERO sales. I couldn’t believe it! I was sure that the program was a scam and they were telling lies about my money. Horrible! I mean, see the results of my campaign below and count the tens of sales I should’ve made:
But after the rage went off a little bit, I decided to do some more research: first thing I did was to check the article itself and see if the affiliate links are indeed in place (they were). However, a plugin that counts the views of my articles put a huge exclamation mark: there were just ~29 reported views. That’s impossible with 9,000 reached people and 163 likes!
So I went to Google Analytics, where I was greeted by the same sad truth:
What’s even worse? The Facebook traffic was absolute crap:
Just 10 people visited from Facebook and they all spent an average of ZERO seconds on the article. In other words, I just wasted money. Big time.
Are Facebook Ads really that bad?
Well, I am sure they are not. Although I don’t have a ton of experience with running Facebook ads, I still had a bunch of successful campaigns. None were, actually as bad as this one and I thought I had bad campaigns. Even more, so many other people do this that it’s pretty obvious that it works.
However, I am not 100% upset about the horrendous results of my Facebook campaign with misleading results as it was set up more to test some theories (and I didn’t spend too much, either).
Here is how my plan looked like: boost the post which targeted a relatively cheap country. My budget was $15 for the entire campaign and we can say that it delivered nicely: 164 likes, a few shares and 9,000 reach. Not bad. When I set up the campaign, I made it to get more post likes. My thought was that the more people like the boosted article, the more people see it and, following the snowball effect rule, the reach will skyrocket and the article will become extremely popular. Boy, I was soo wrong (at least for the important part!)
The thing is that I believe that a combination of other factors resulted in these almost unbelievable results. These are:
1. First and most important, I had a poor title. I didn’t think about it when I wrote it, but it was poor. It was something like: “Product X: The best product for niche”. To me, it seemed catchy and nice. But most likely, in the busy world that we live in today, the Facebook users didn’t care to check my article and I guess they took it for granted. Maybe they went on to Google “Product X” and signed up – because I told them what a great service it is.
The title of your article/ad is extremely important
Although it would’ve meant nothing for organic traffic, a title like “This is the best product for niche” would’ve resulted in way more clicks back to my website. Yes, it’s the same crappy technique all click bait articles use, but in my case it wasn’t 100% clickbait – I really had the review for the best product in a particular niche. That should’ve made at least a few people curious and they would’ve clicked the link. Most likely, I would’ve had sign-ups. Or at least this is how I see things.
2. Know what you want from your ads! It seems that so many people hit the like button just from reading the title and because it seems interesting. I am not sure they really remembered the product, googled it or they just hit like because that’s what they usually do. But it’s clear that likes and reach don’t matter as much as getting people to visit your website. And this is exactly what you should optimize your ad for: visits to your website. That’s all that matters. That’s what turns into potential clients.
3. Website speed is important as well. Maybe the zero second visit time means that the few people that actually clicked the link had to spend too much time waiting for the page to load. The blog in question was hosted on a shared server and it was pretty much picture-heavy, so load times might’ve been too much. I really don’t know what else could’ve been…
Results of the Facebook ads can be extremely misleading. Great results don’t mean REAL great results as you can see from my experience above. Likes, unfortunately, mean nothing and nor do shares. All that matters is that people click that link and buy your product or make you some money out of it. This means that you have to keep trying, experiment, find the things that work and repeat.
If I would’ve invested $100 in the ad, I would’ve been extremely upset. But $15 are not that much of a loss, even though I hate to throw money away. But I take it as a learning experience and next time I create an ad, I will choose a lower budget and see if it works. Eventually, I will find the right way to do it and I will make all my money back. But until then, I will make sure not to let myself fooled again by apparent results. I highly recommend you to do the same, and maybe follow a Facebook Ads course in order to improve your chances of not wasting money like I did.