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[PDF Download] Troubleshooting Your Traffic Campaigns: What To Do When It’s Just Not Converting

Running paid traffic can be frustrating.

If we create ten ad campaigns… we expect one to two campaigns to succeed (generate a positive ROI).

That means that eight to nine campaigns fail… and we don’t like failing, but…

…it’s something you MUST get used to when buying paid traffic.

You can’t throw away every campaign that doesn’t perform right out of the gate.

You have to have a process for troubleshooting your campaigns.

It’s a constant game of figuring out which aspect of the campaign is actually failing you.

Consider yourself a doctor of your campaigns… you have to make educated guesses on what is causing the issue and test the variables one at a time in isolation to see if you can make a diagnosis.

In this post, I’m going to give you the four-component process we use for troubleshooting traffic campaigns at DigitalMarketer.

[NOTE: We’ve got a fancy flowchart at the bottom of this post that you can use to troubleshoot your traffic problem. You can download it and tack it to the wall next to your workstation.]

So, the next time you have a traffic campaign that isn’t performing as well as you’d hoped (or even if you want to optimize an already successful campaign), you will know how to diagnose the problem…. and most importantly, how to fix it.

When troubleshooting your traffic campaigns, there are four likely culprits:

  1. Your Offer
  2. Your Targeting
  3. Your Ad Copy/Creative
  4. Your Ad Scent

Let’s look at each of these in turn…

1. Troubleshooting Paid Traffic Campaigns:  Your Offer

By “offer,” I mean anything that you’re running paid traffic to. Here are some examples…

  • Blog Posts
  • Social Media Updates
  • Content Videos
  • Case Studies
  • Quiz/Surveys
  • White Papers
  • Webinars
  • Flash Sales
  • Product Demo
  • Branding Videos
  • Book (Free or Paid)
  • Free Trial
  • Event Tickets

(Learn when to make each of these offers via paid traffic by reading this post.)

But, the “medium” of the offer is irrelevant in this discussion.

Here’s the big question…

….are you running traffic to something that the market actually wants, needs, or desires!?

Are you solving a problem for a specific group of people? Are you giving them value? Is there a NEED for what you’re offering?

If your answer is no, then you’ve already found your problem.

This is the most common issue I find when people say their advertising campaigns aren’t performing. They just aren’t offering something that people want.

No matter how compelling your copy is, or how attention grabbing your image may be… the best marketing campaign in the world can’t solve an “offer issue.”


2.Troubleshooting Paid Traffic Campaigns: Your Targeting

If you have a good offer – it’s time to check your targeting.

It doesn’t matter if you have the best offer and marketing message… if you put it in front of the WRONG audience, it will fail. Especially if your offer is niche specific (not a broad offer that everyone can relate to or needs… like toilet paper).

The biggest targeting mistake you can make is to go too BROAD in fear of missing out on potential prospects.

If you have an offer that is appealing to a specific market, you need to use your targeting to get the message in front of that specific audience.

You need to get inside of the head of your target market. I don’t mean just demographic data like age, gender, income… You need to fill in the blanks for statements like…

  • What are their hobbies?
  • What TV shows do they watch?
  • What authority figures do they follow?
  • What books do they read?
  • What websites do they visit?
  • Where do they shop?
  • What clubs, groups, associations are they apart of?
  • What are their specific pain points?

If you’re able to figure out specific information about the market, like the questions above, then you can ensure you’re putting your message and offer in front of the right people – because you’ll be everywhere that they are.

How do we find the answers to these questions?

  1. You are your target market – you can answer the questions yourself.
  2. You know someone who is – you can interview them and ask.
  3. You do research –search around in market specific forums, use Facebook audience insights, search Google!

(Check out this post on Finding Your Market to find out more about researching your market and which traffic source is right for you!)

Let me give you an example…

If we were in the golf market and wanted to target avid golfers (who like and play golf enough to want to buy a product or service) on Facebook… I wouldn’t target interests like “ESPN,” “PGA,” or even “Tiger Woods.”


They aren’t specific enough.

Even though Tiger is one of the most well-known golfers, he’s exactly that… very well known. Tiger is too famous that he attracts people outside of avid golfers.

Troubleshooting Paid Traffic Campaigns - Targeting

The same goes for “ESPN,” it’s too broad. You may be targeting people who hate golf and love football or baseball.

Who would I target? Mid-level golfers that are well known by people who actually PLAY and follow the game of golf. Golf specific magazines… if you like something enough to read and learn about it, you’re probably a great person to target.

I can’t stress how important targeting is. So many people go through the process of creating a big campaign… the offer, awesome ad copy, ad images and then they totally drop the ball because they put it in front of the WRONG people.

(Check out this post for the complete guide to Facebook advertising targeting options.)

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because you built it, people will come. Make sure you’re targeting a big enough audience that you’re able to scale, but specific enough to really hit the specific market you’re speaking to.


3. Troubleshooting Paid Traffic Campaigns: Your Ad Copy/Creative

The ad copy/creative is the segue between your offer and target market.

You can create a compelling offer and put it in front of the right audience, but if you aren’t able to catch their attention and give them a reason to click– your campaign will fail because you aren’t generating TRAFFIC.

Best practices in terms of ad copy/creative depend heavily on the platform where you’re running traffic.

Use your copy/creative to hit a pain point with your audience and then make sure your “offer” is the solution.

Notice how this ad calls out to the audience…


Call out your audience when you can… this is the best way to catch their attention. For example, “ATTENTION, AUSTIN MOMS….”.

For more information on ad copy and creatives, click here.


4. Troubleshooting Paid Traffic Campaigns: Ad Scent 

I can explain ad scent in one word: congruency.

You must maintain the same “scent” from your advertisement to your landing page/offer.

What does this mean?

You don’t want your ad to look strikingly different from your landing page. You don’t want people to land on your offer and realize they’ve left whatever platform they were on when they clicked.

You also don’t want to confuse messaging… if you’re talking about dogs in your ad, you want to continue that conversation on the landing page… you want the process to be seamless.

Bad ad scent is a common problem with advertising campaigns.


Notice the congruence from ad to the landing page in regards to offer, design and messaging in this campaign from Adobe…

You’ve nailed the offer, the targeting, the copy and creative… but once they click, you’re sending them somewhere that just DOESN’T MATCH.

You lose them as soon as you win them over, essentially. A great way to diagnose bad ad scent? A really low time on page… a high bounce rate.

What can you do to make sure you’re ad scent is congruent? Read this: How to Boost Conversions By Providing Consistent “Ad Scent.

Now that you understand the four most common culprits of an underperforming traffic campaign, I want to help you diagnose your issue so that you can FIX it!


Below you’ll find a flow chart. Follow the chart to specific resources that will help you troubleshoot your underperforming traffic campaign.

You’re going to be asked specific questions like… “Is your ad getting impressions.”

Troubleshoot Traffic Campaigns

Download your own Traffic Campaign Flow Chart here.

At DigitalMarketer, we always give ad campaigns at least three to five days to collect data and then we analyze its success. If the campaign isn’t performing as expected, this is the process we follow to diagnose and fix the issues.

Want to put your ads through the ringer before you start buying traffic? Put them through our 5-Point Paid Ad Audit now!

Now get out there and start troubleshooting your campaigns… I bet you can “fix” more campaigns than you think. 🙂



The lovely content team here at DigitalMarketer works hard to make sure you have the best blog posts to read. But some posts require a group effort, and we decided to stop the rock-paper-scissors tournaments that decided the byline so that we had more time to write. Besides, we all graduated from kindergarten: we can share.

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