So Your Social Ad Performance Is Declining—How Do You Fix It?

March 27, 2018

Although it’s a great feeling when social ad campaigns are on auto-pilot, functioning automatically, and blasting out to all the audiences we’ve carefully selected, it could happen—we start seeing stunted reach, fewer clicks, and sluggish conversion rates. At these moments, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and investigate the most common culprits for dips in social performance, and make adjustments to address the problems.

Here are a few simple things to examine to ensure your social ad campaigns are performing at their best.


What is it and why does it matter?

Frequency is the average number of times people see your ad. A higher frequency can leave a greater impact on the user, since they’ll be more likely to remember your brand and take action. As a starting point, we recommend planning campaigns for a frequency of 5-8, but with every campaign and creative being different, this can fluctuate depending on a few different variables:

  • Campaign length
  • Daily active users
  • Optimization event
  • Page connections
  • Previous brand exposure
  • The longevity of the decision-making process

What does it mean?

A greater frequency—often combined with a decrease in click-through rate (CTR)—simply means that your ads are reaching the same audience continuously. In turn, a decreased CTR indicates that users are no longer paying attention to your ads or the audience pool is left with users who aren’t interested in your brand or product offering. Either way, the audience isn’t clicking your ads anymore.

How do you improve it?

If ad frequency has reached higher than your usual average, the best solution is to explore new audiences that represent potential new revenue. Try lifetime value audiences, campaign lookalike audiences (available through Marin via API), or Marin’s search intent retargeting and prospecting audiences.

In addition, new creatives can always provide a performance uplift, as they can appeal to audiences that initially didn’t respond to your ads. Consider changing:

  • Theme of the creative
  • Creative format (e.g., video or carousel)
  • Call to action
  • Color palette
  • Offers and text


What is it and why does it matter?

CTR indicates the percentage of clicks that result from the total number of impressions. The higher the CTR, the more people click your ad, and the higher the website traffic that could result in conversions.

What does it mean?

There are four potential reasons for a decrease in CTR.

  1. For audiences that have performed in the past or are very relevant—e.g., 1% lookalike or retargeting audiences—the creative might be the offender. Alternatively, you’d need to check the frequencies of the previously best-performing audiences to avoid audience saturation.
  2. If you’re experimenting with broad audiences such as keyword targeting, it could be that this particular audience is just less engaged with your brand and your investment could have a better return somewhere else.
  3. If your high CTR plummets, it could be that your ads are suffering from creative fatigue, meaning your audience has seen your creative for a while already and is simply tired of it. Make sure you’re following creative best practices.
  4. Lastly, if you’re targeting large audiences, the campaign may have not had enough time or budget spend for Facebook to identify the users who are most likely to convert.

How do you improve it?

Having identified the reason behind the decrease in CTR from the suggestions above, you could try a new approach or a combination of tactics:

  1. Test new creatives using one of the suggestions in the Frequency section.
  2. Make your audience more specific by overlaying your keyword targeting with a lookalike audience or reducing the percentage size.
  3. Don’t pause your campaigns too early, as Facebook’s algorithm requires at least 50 conversions per ad set to get through the learning phase. As the name suggests, during the learning phase the algorithm is learning about your audience and their behaviors and may not produce optimal results. However, having gone through the initial learning phase, Facebook has enough data to deliver your ads to the right audience and therefore produce the results you’re after.


What is it and why does it matter?

Conversion rate (CVR) indicates the conversions (purchases, sign-ups, etc.) resulting from link clicks. It’s one of the most important metrics, as it indicates the quality of the click audience and the relevance of your ad.

What does it mean?

A sudden, significant drop in CVR can indicate a tracking issue such as:

  • Broken tracking links
  • Missing pixels on your website
  • Missing pixels in ad setup

Alternatively, it can be a sign of a technical error on your website such as broken webpages or errors with processing purchase requests.

Other reasons behind a low CVR can be a misleading call to action or irrelevant landing page. It can also indicate the state of the market and competition, which is why we always recommend keeping an eye on competitors’ activity and Facebook offers.

How do you improve it?

If you’ve seen a sudden unexpected drop in conversion rate we recommend reviewing your website, since often it’s related to this.

Double-check your tracking links and ensure that active pixels are on the website and attached to your ads. Install Facebook’s Pixel Helper plugin, and verify whether the pixel fires on each relevant page such as add to cart, register, and purchase.

Additionally, try optimizing the user experience by shortening the conversion journey and providing appealing offers.

Anna-Liisa Toom

Marin Software
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