5 Stupid Reasons You’re Not Getting Sales From Online Ads

Not Getting Sales from online ads
Table of Contents

There’s probably more than 5, but we are going to talk frank. Here are 5 stupid reasons you’re not getting sales from online ads. And some of the most common problems we solve in our CRO agency side.

I spend a lot of time helping out on Reddit’s SEO and Shopify Subreddits and they are great places to help people. Or even better to go if you need a little feedback. But the one thing I find myself saying to every drop shipper under the sun is the ad needs to match the entry point.

This won’t mean a lot right now. But I’ll explain all this and some other common reasons why you’re not getting sales from online ads here.

Why you’re not getting sales from Online Ads

Everything else aside, one of the key reasons you’re not getting sales from online ads is this:


Context is a word you may have heard a lot but didn’t fully get what those ‘Gurus’ were saying. It means, does your advert target the wrong people, or the right people in the wrong way.

You may have the best product for me. You’re confident I need it. It could answer all my problems.

But – if it is framed in a way that I won’t immediately see how it can benefit me personally, I probably won’t click it, or if you get lucky and I do, it may still not be apparent on the landing page.

The advert and the sales copy must be contextually focused on the buyer.

How do you create context that appeals to everyone?

You shouldn’t. You should always think of the ideal buyer and frame your content and your ads to suit that.

You can of course make different pages with different ads to target different types of buyers, but a great marketing mantra is this:

Make something, that means something, to someone

Okay, I say this (David at Deathground)

If you try to be everything to everyone on just one advert and one page, you will fail. It’s as simple as that.

Great advertisers understand that different audiences require different messages and if you land on a page from an advert and the buying page doesn’t match the advert, then you will see a SUPER low conversion rate.

That’s out of the box, something you need to understand. Gary Vaynerchuk a hugely respected online marketer has a fantastic video piece here on Context being God.  [EXPLICIT LANGUAGE IN VIDEO]

Not Getting Sales from Online Ads? Let’s start with exactly why you’re not getting those results.
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Not Getting Sales on your Website | No. 1

Not getting sales on my shopify website

Beyond not having context as to why you’re not getting sales from online ads, the most obvious reason is that you simply aren’t getting any traffic to your website. 

But why? It comes down to copy. 

What’s Copy in online sales?

It is the text you use to draw people in and close them on a sale. It’s actually a lot more than that, but that’s the basis of it. Why do I know your copy sucks? Because you aren’t getting organic traffic. And if your copy sucks and you aren’t getting organic traffic, it means you are probably coming up short when it comes to the sales pages that meet your ads.

Don’t get downbeat though

If you’re worrying about not getting sales on Shopify for example, these stats should make you sit up:

– The average time to first sale for a new Shopify store is 14 days (Oberlo)

– It takes approximately 300 organic unique visitors to make your first Shopify Sale (Shopify)

Now, consider that among those waiting 14 days for their first sale, compared to some (including me) who waited MUCH longer, is that many are using paid ads. And while they may get a sale in 10 days, they may have spent a small fortune on ads trying to get that.

The key to winning in online commerce is that your gross margin can accommodate the amount of ads it takes to make one sale.

Paid ads seem like an easy route to traffic from Day 1 but if you focus on it, in a vacuum and fail to consider organic, or local marketing, you will be missing out on a lot of passive traffic.

If you have no organic traffic and only paid ads, and the ads are set up poorly, then you are unlikely to be getting many, if any sales on your Shopify or other type of store. This is why, not getting any organic traffic speaks volumes about your process at making engaging content. 

This type of missing sauce will mean your ads probably lack that little ‘Je ne sais quoi’ too. It’s vital you care about the quality of your content as it will mean you don’t just get good organic traffic for free, but you also write sales copy that encourages action.

So the reason number 1, why you’re not getting sales is ‘Your copy is poor’ 


Tip 1 | Care About SEO too

If you aren’t taking the time to care about organic content, and the traffic from it, you are not going to care about the engagement factor of the words on the page when your ad customers come to visit. Not caring, means no organic traffic and ad visitors who see content that looks off.

Not Getting Sales from Online Ads | No. 2

Not getting sales from online ads

All Sausage and no Sizzle.

I hate this phrase, I’ve hated it ever since I first heard it. Partly because I never fully understood it. It took me years to get it, but now I do, and you need to as well. 

If you are selling ANYTHING online, or trying to get leads, or sign-ups, or absolutely anything that requires commitment – you need to understand it’s meaning.

What does all sausage and no sizzle mean?

If you imagine your product is the sausage.

But the experience of buying it or the solution it could provide for you is ‘the sizzle’.

The sizzle is the anticipation and the excitement, the smell and the experience of knowing that any minute now, a cooked sausage sandwich, with ketchup and lashings of onions (personally I hate onions) is about to land on a plate in front of you.

When that moment happens, you will no longer be hungry. You will have solved that pressing need to eat something more than just palatable, you will be eating something you love and enjoy.

That my friends is the THE SIZZLE.

Admittedly, you might hate sausage sandwiches, so replace that with something you do like. The intention of the message is the same. Too often, first time retailers and even experienced ones, do not sell the sizzle, they try to sell the sausage. That is where they are going wrong.

If your advert brings someone to your website, and you’re wondering why you are not getting sales from online ads, it’s very likely that there is no attempt to sell the sizzle above the fold*. What you’re trying to do is tell them all about the specifications and not the solution that it will provide for them.

So do I just have to talk about the benefits then?

There’s more to it than that.

Once you have made the conscious effort to look at your ad copy and begun to prioritize the solution over the specification, now you need to frame that solution in a way that has sizzle too.

It’s more than just moving some words around, now you need to change the words up.

Are you using bolder text, pleasant icons to reinforce that text. Are you making the message succinct. 

Here’s a stat:

People read a billboard for six seconds, which means adding large amounts of text can be ineffective. Many billboard experts recommend sticking to six words or less. While not every business can get its message across in just six words, the principle is the same: less is more.

Black Belt Outdoor – 5 Tips to Creating the Perfect Billboard

Now while this is based on billboard advertising, the premise is the same. The job of any good ad is to trigger an emotional response, quickly and succinctly. There’s a reason why Gordon Ramsey in his Kitchen Nightmares show, tells people to make menus smaller; it’s because humans lose interest and also because of decision fatigue, but we are here to talk about capturing minds.

We discovered this problem ourselves on one of our own websites. We would spend time writing long in depth product descriptions, describing how X was the latest model from Y and so on. 

Then we realised, our target customer, doesn’t give a fig, if this is the latest T18-2 model, born from the T-18-1. They wanted to know if it could help them do X at a price they could afford. 

So we changed our product descriptions.

We went from what you see on the left, to what we did on the right.

why am i not getting sales from my online adverts on instagram

Sells the solution Right?

As the image above shows, we  went from fairly organised but a pretty uninspiring text block, to something that conveyed immediately, the solutions, the ratings, a memorable quote and why to buy it.

Plus, doing this, meant we could still see the delivery fear of missing out timer. 

We get higher conversion rates on products we used this approach and A-B tested it with recent products to ensure we weren’t misconstruing new product demand.

This is where most advertisers go wrong.

They sell the sausage NOT the sizzle.

We buy on emotion, we buy on impulse. 

Want more proof of how our mind makes us buy things more than our head?

humans buy on emotion

Tip 2 | Sizzle NOT Sausage

No one cares how great your sausage is, they care how satisfied it will make them….

No sales from Instagram Ads? | No.3

This is a really simple reason why it’s likely you aren’t getting sales from Instagram ads or any online PPC adverts. 

You don’t have a landing page.

Most first time advertisers, in their rush to set up ads, don’t think about doing A-B Tests, to find the best subject line, or the cheapest to engage and convert customers. They certainly don’t then take that extra leap to ensure that what greets the visitor is matching the advert.

How do I know this, because I was that person once.

Your website likely has a range of potential target customers. But your advert, if you have set it up correctly is focused on one type of customer profile. 

Even if you haven’t set it up right, you are already profiling to some degree, by virtue of the advertising medium. If you are running ads on Instagram, it’s a fair chance that the audience is different to those who see it on Snap, Facebook or Google. 

You get my point.

Maybe you sell resistance training bands. Those stretchy, pack in your suitcase exercise accessories. The ideal customer could be a traveler, someone needing to work physio on a damaged joint, or a busy mum who can’t get to the gym.

Either way, there are many potential customers and each will respond to something that most resonates with them. 

So what’s no landing page have to do with no ad sales?

If you use a website like Shopify or Wix for example to sell online, you will have one page for a product. That is one general page, laid out for all purposes. It is not able to be all things to all people. 

It is too general. So if your Instagram ad targets a busy mother with this fitness accessory, with the right context in the ad copy, what they will see is the same product page as the mega gym buff who happens to want something while he is on holiday or backpacking with the lads.

What happens?

You resonate with neither, or you marginalise one.

This means the one you marginalise will result in a super low conversion rate and would have been a wasted ad spend.

So do I just target one customer type for my adverts?

Yes and no. You should only target one customer type per advert, definitely. But, and here’s the kicker, you should target both types if you product can meet both their needs.

Where you can fix this so you don’t exclude contextually, is through the creation of a landing page.

This means, when someone clicks your ad, they are greeted with a page that resonates still and expands on how this item will change their life.

That is the point of a landing page.

It catches a visitor and softly lowers them into the selling zone.

If you got on a plane to go on holiday and it flew straight into the hotel, you wouldn’t be very happy. What you’d rather is a soft touch down and an easy trip to destination party-land.

Consider the same for shoppers who click your ads. The beauty of tools like Shopify, is you can create a buy link button and embed it into a custom landing page software tool like Landingi.

I used to use Instapage, but feel their basic page after being doubled in price, is just not worth the extra cost until you work at scale and effectively.

Take Away Point

Use a custom next page for an ad click visitor that directly relates to the context of what sent them over. This creates more stickability and means you can directly relate the benefits and the solutions of the product to them in a way that means something to them.

Yes – It’s more work. But success isn’t easy.

Tip 3 | Soft Landings

Don’t crash your online ad visitor into your product page, or worse still your homepage and hope ‘they work it out’. Deliver them smoothly to a page that relates to them. A nice soft landing.

Your competition does it better | No.4

competition does better than me from ad sales

Short and sweet for number 4. One of the top reasons why you’re not getting sales from online ads, is you’re under the assumption, that your visitor won’t double check a price.

In the UK 20% of people routinely use price comparison sites. 11 million people each year as of 2018.

Quoted from the Daily Telegraph, it’s a statistic that continues to rise as more people shop online. If you think a shopper is not going to double check they are getting a genuine deal, you are dead wrong.

If your site isn’t competitive, doesn’t have the best photos possible, doesn’t convey the message as well as X or Y, then you will lose. No one owes you a purchase and if you aren’t thoroughly nailing all of the key questions within the buying page, then a shopper will need to check.

If when they check, they see a better price or a quicker and more affordable delivery service, you lose.

You will have paid for ads that create interest and transport a warm lead to a competitor site.

Now, who thinks SEO is not worth it?

How to tackle this?

Simply ensure that you answer every related topical question about that product, in an accordion FAQ box at the foot of the product page. Just above the footer. It doesn’t have to be an accordion, but something visually pleasing and topically deep.

Apple handle this quite well on their own product pages, and while it isn’t a landing page, it does show quite how you can beautifully display a product and a way for all answers to be sought. In the image below, you can see the number one question answered above the page fold – delivery.

You can also see how you can ask more questions.

product page for online ads that work

Scroll down the page and you see a place for Q and A’s compressed in accordion format. It also allows for user generated content to answer these frequently answered questions. There have been some extensive studies done on User Experience for sales conversion optimisation with Apple’s site. 

Another great example of good FAQ sections is UK electronics retail giant PC World.

PC World Sales Pages for better online sales

If you think online sales is just an ad and done, you’re mistaken.

Thinking how you could incorporate some of these features into your product or landing pages, will give you the chance to stop people leaving your site to find more answers.


Tip 4 | Be your best

Give no reason for a visitor to leave your site because you didn’t make it easy for them to find the answers on the page. Give no reason to give them a lack of certainty that you are the place to shop. If you keep that in mind and stay ahead of your opposition, you will go far. 

If you can’t beat them on anything, you have to ask ‘Why AM I doing this?’

Not Getting Sales from Online Ads | No.5

We are here, number 5 in the stupid reasons why you are not getting sales from online ads, be they Facebook, Instagram, Google or Quora. You are not thinking about ‘User Intent’

User Intent is ‘Why is someone asking that question?’

If you advertise New Premium Ovens for sale, to people who use the keyword ‘Cheap second hand ovens for sale’. Are you meeting their need?


Of course you’re not. They are looking for one thing and you are offering another.

Now, that was a really obvious example. But sometimes the difference is a little more nuanced. In that, it’s not always as cut and dry.

We want lots of clicks and cheaply right?

Yes, good clicks that lead to sales.

Clicks alone do not make sales. Sales, makes sales.

You will not get far in life selling to people who are ‘Nos’. You need to find the ‘Yeses’.

Look at your ad keywords again and ask yourself, do the queries that you are targeting relate directly to what the searcher is asking?

If you sell ovens and you have your ad copy as “Everything Ovens you will ever need” and the searcher has  a question about their oven, they may click your ad. But they aren’t a buyer.

They aren’t in the market for a new oven. They wanted some advice.

Instead you have paid for a click and left them dissatisfied about your brand.

Intent. That’s it.

5 and done.

Tip 5 | Search Intent Matters

Don’t try to sell to the No, sell to the Yes. Why someone is searching or clicking your ad matters almost more than what you show them. If they aren’t transactional searches, they will rarely lead to sales. That’s number 5, why you’re not getting sales from online ads on your website

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I have a strong background in offline and online retail and love talking all things 'Start-up'. I've failed more times than most will ever begin. Co-founder of The Skinny Kitchen, Vape & Juice and CBDStar.

I'm not just an SEO guy, I'm a business owner for hire. If you have a problem and no-one else can fix it, contact me here or on Fiverr @seofairy

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