The Facebook Ads algorithm is incredibly powerful. It may be one of the best algorithms for conversion optimization.

At times, it can be too good.

What does this mean?

Sometimes, Facebook delivers EXACTLY what you pay for.

Facebook Campaign Optimization – What’s Your Objective?

Most marketers know you need at least 50 conversions per week for the algorithm to effectively optimize your conversion campaigns. Marketers with smaller budgets will optimize for more common conversions in order to work around this.

For example, if you run an e-commerce site, your ultimate goal is sales. 50 sales/week may be hard to achieve, whereas 50 adds to cart may be doable.

In general, this isn’t a bad approach. You’re feeding the Facebook algorithm what it needs to optimize efficiently. That said, sometimes it optimizes too efficiently.

We assume that if a customer takes “Step A” they are likely to take “Step B” but that’s not always the case.

Example + Campaign Results

Check out the example below. This is an example of a campaign pre-profitability, but you should notice something.

Facebook Purchases vs. Add to Cart

The first campaign was optimized for purchases while the second campaign was optimized for adds to cart.

Both campaigns spent about the same amount but the results were much different.

The “adds to cart” campaign had a much lower cost per add to cart but a much higher cost per purchase.

The “purchases” campaign had a much higher cost per add to cart but a much lower cost per purchase. It also had a higher order value.

The Takeaways

I’ve seen this type of behavior across multiple campaigns. Facebook is great at fulfilling your campaign objective – there’s no guarantee on anything else.

This doesn’t mean every campaign should be focused on purchases, as that may not be feasible.

There are two main takeaways from this:

First, make sure to test different campaign objectives. Optimizing for a conversion at the top of the funnel may does not guarantee conversions at the bottom of the funnel. Play around with objectives on different levels.

Second, look for areas of weakness in your funnel. In my example above, the cost per add to cart would have been great for the ATC campaign if everyone completed checkout. If I wanted to make this campaign work, I’d have to focus on why people were adding a product to their carts but not checking out. It could be anything from shipping costs, payment options, or the cart page itself.