Why Your Conversion Rate is Dropping on Your Facebook Ads
The conversion rate you see from Facebook ads will vary over time. Sometimes it fluctuates from hour to hour, from day to day, or from ad to ad. It’s really quite tricky to keep it stable, which is why ads churn so frequently.
If your conversion rate is dropping, what’s causing it? What can you do about it? Let’s find out.
Types of Conversion Rate Drops
Before we dig into specific causes for conversion rate drops, let’s talk about the different kinds of drops you might see. There are a few different types of drops you can experience, and they tend to point to different causes.
First, you have to correlate the data with other actions. If your conversion rate dropped, ask yourself one question: did you make a change that could have caused it, or did it drop on its own?
If you made a change and your conversion rate dropped, you can analyze if that change was beneficial or not. A beneficial change with a lower conversion rate typically means that the conversion value is higher; you may get fewer conversions, but those conversions are worth enough that the profit you receive still increases.
If your conversion rate dropped but you didn’t make any changes to your ads, you need to start looking for outside factors. Maybe Facebook made a change to their ads system, or maybe a budget ran out, or something else happened. Most of what I’ve listed below are these kinds of changes.
Another thing to look at is if this is a gradual decrease or a sudden drop. If you’ve been averaging 10 conversions a day and now you’re looking at 7, but last week it was 8 and the week before was 9, it’s an indication of a slow and gradual decline. On the other hand, if you’re used to 10 daily conversions and now you have zero, you have a more serious issue to look into.
You’ll also want to look at the scale of the data. Is your conversion rate dropping for one specific ad, or is it dropping for every ad on your account, or only just some particular campaigns or sets? This can help you narrow down what type of drop you might be seeing.
Now let’s look at specific causes for conversion rate drops.
Scheduling for Some Ads Ended
This one is a very common cause for a dropping conversion rate. Often, when you choose to run ads, you’re choosing a schedule for those ads. Since ads have an expected lifetime, you choose to set an end date for when those ads stop running. Maybe it’s a seasonal sale and you don’t want it to go much beyond the holiday it’s targeting. Maybe it’s a special event that lasts a week. You know, that kind of time-based targeting.
If you’re looking at your ads from a bird’s eye point of view and you see a conversion drop that is sudden but not total, it could be because some ads stopped running. Check to see if any ended their schedules.
Your Ads are Aging
Ads age and decay over time. Once people have seen them for a while, they eventually stop noticing or paying attention to them. Sometimes this is called banner blindness, and sometimes it’s a matter of saturation and frequency. And, of course, Facebook simply likes it when you’re keeping your ads fresh. Fresh content always does better on Facebook, whether it’s paid or not.
Unless you have somehow stumbled upon an immortal evergreen ad, you’re going to want to change up your ads from time to time. This can be a simple refresh of the ad copy, or it can be a complete revision of your ads from the ground up, including copy, targeting, and bidding structure.
Your Targeting is Growing Less Accurate
There can be two reasons why your targeting is growing less accurate. The first is when you’re following a rabbit hole of conversions, like an ore vein in a mountain as you mine, until that ore vein peters out. You start with a broad, high-converting audience. You narrow down your targeting to make it more precise, sacrificing a few conversions while chasing the majority on increasingly narrow but cheaper targeting. Eventually, you saturate that audience and the value of your ads peters out.
The other reason is natural drift in terms of your audience. Maybe you’ve kept some fixed targeting, but the usage of your product has shifted from one audience to another. You typically have to re-examine your audience every six months or so to make sure you’re still on track and still aware of the people who are actually engaged with and buying from your brand.
Your Landing Page or Offer Changed
Ads can decline even when the ads themselves haven’t changed. A sudden or semi-sudden drop over the course of a day or two can indicate that something changed on the other end of the ads.
This typically happens when there’s a disconnect between the people running ads and the people managing landing pages and content. If a landing page changes and you’re not aware of it when you’re looking at the performance of your ads, you’ll have to track down why your performance changed.
Your Budget is Running Out
When your budget nears the end of its rope, performance can drop. Facebook tends to try to average your budget across your schedule, but changes to either can mean performance takes a hit.
Facebook is also pretty flexible with budgetary spending, in an interesting way. If you set a budget cap of $10 per day, Facebook is actually allowed to spend up to 25% more, so $12.50 per day. The $10 per day is simply an average. All this means is that if there’s a day with good performance, they have the flexibility to increase spend within reason to capture it. Conversely, they then have to spend LESS the next day to lower the average back down. This can result in spikes and dips in conversion rate that are otherwise hard to track down.
Your Budget Distribution Has Changed
This issue is called budget appropriation. As ad managers, we’re usually tinkering with ads all day to try to chase higher conversion rates and better conversion values. As such, we tend to move budgets around. Sometimes money comes in, sometimes money goes out, but usually it’s just shifted around.
When you shift from a campaign with a high conversion rate to a campaign with higher value but lower conversions, your conversion rate will drop. When you shift from a tried-and-true ad campaign to an experimental one, you might find your data behaves oddly. This is all natural and to be expected, so don’t be surprised if you make a budget change and find your conversion rate drops afterwards.
Your Ad Pricing Increased
This is a change you typically won’t see unless you’re drilling down into your analytics and looking at the specific costs and trends over time. Sometimes Facebook changes how their ad auction works. Sometimes a new competitor shows up, or an existing competitor decides to increase their bids. In these kinds of situations, you’ll find that the cost for your ads increases.
Except, because you probably have budget caps in place, the actual costs for your ads themselves remains static. What changes is the results of those ads. If you have $10 to spend and a conversion costs $1, you get ten conversions. If the cost of a conversion goes up to $2, you’ll still be spending $10, but your conversions will drop to 5.
The trick here is that you’re probably not actually changing your conversion rates all that much, but just your raw number of conversions. Rates might decrease overall, but it’s harder to spot just looking at rates. You also need to compare cost per conversion on an ongoing basis to spot this kind of problem.
Your Ad Relevance is Dropping
Facebook maintains an ad relevance score, but their score is intentionally used as nothing more than an indicator of several other factors aggregated. The various factors that contribute to relevance score will all affect your ad performance, including your conversion rate. If one of the component factors – like clicks, likes, and engagement in general – drops, then your relevance score will reflect the worse performance. Check your relevance scores and see if they’ve dropped recently.
Your Ad Frequency is Capping Out
I mentioned this a while back, but it’s something that contributes to Facebook ad aging and saturation. Ad frequency is a number that represents how many times the average member of your target audience has seen your ad. So if you have a target audience of 100 people and 50 people have seen the ad, you will have a frequency of .5, indicating that half of the audience has seen the ad. Conversely, if each of those 100 people has seen the ad twice, your ad frequency will be 2, indicating each person has seen it two times.
Ad frequency isn’t as simple as a 1:1 ratio like that, though. One person can see your ad three times before another person sees it once. Facebook still skews showing your ads to the people most active and most likely to complete your ad objective. Thus, an ad frequency of 2 might indicate that 50 of those 100 people have seen your ad four times each, while the other 50 haven’t seen it at all.
Frequency is a contributor to the age-death of ads in that the higher the frequency is, the less likely people are going to respond to the ads. Think about it; the first time you see a billboard near your office, it’s new and interesting and you look at it. If it’s sufficiently interesting, you might even Google the brand it represents. On the 10th time you’ve passed it on your commute, you aren’t even giving it a second passing glance.
When your ad frequency is getting too high – usually above 2-3 – it’s time to change your ads in some way, because your conversion rate, click rate, and other metrics are all going to drop more and more quickly.
Your Ads Account was Suspended
Obviously, your entire account getting suspended is going to have a sudden and dramatic effect on the conversion rate of your ads. If your ads as a whole drop to zero, this is one possible reason. Cancelling your payment method is another, and so is turning off all of your campaigns, so don’t immediately assume something untoward.
Individual ads can also be turned on and off, sometimes due to Facebook reviewing them and choosing to suspend them. This tends to happen if too many people report the ads as being inappropriate somehow. It can also happen if your competition is reporting your ads in bulk to try to hurt you.
Something Technical Has Gone Wrong
There are all manner of technical issues that can cause a decrease in conversion rate for your ads. For example, if you link to a page that redirects to a landing page dynamically, but the script that does the redirect breaks, your conversion rates will drop. If your landing page changes too much and is no longer attractive to your audience – or even representing the same products – your rates will drop. There are any number of technical issues like this that lead to ads that no longer function the way you want them to function.
Have you had a sudden drop in conversion rate, or even a long, gradual decline, that you’ve been able to fix? Tell me about it below, if you please.