5 Forbidden Phrases You Absolutely Must Avoid in Your Facebook Ad

All caps and too many exclamation points are just the beginning. Facebook is cracking down on ‘pain points’ content and get-rich-quick schemes.


7 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


If you haven’t heard or had this experience yet, Facebook is cracking down on ad copy from businesses around the world. Small businesses and entrepreneurs in particular now need to tread lightly with ads that may seem overly targeted or misleading in any way, as the platform has begun rejecting ads at a far greater rate than ever before.

Related: Here’s How to Master Facebook Advertising and Why You Must

In fact, ads getting rejected is one of the biggest challenges we see with our clients at the Facebook marketing agency I founded. The reasons why that happens apply widely — to relationship coaches, therapists, counselors, institutes and book promotion campaigns being disapproved by the site. Here’s an example of what a non-approval can look like:

Explanation: What happens if you see a message like this? You’ll get a flag in your account from Facebook and your ads will not be allowed to run until you fix them. Receive too many of these warnings and Facebook may shut down your advertising account altogether. (There are work-arounds in that case, but it’s best not to get into this situation in the first place.)

Avoiding these problems is often as simple as following the advice below. Just remember: The advice won’t apply equally to everyone. Some accounts — like those that have more of an advertising history — can get away with more. In fact, you’ll see plenty of them in your newsfeed. But many accounts are having an increasingly tough time getting their ads approved. The trouble usually comes down to one of these five forbidden phrases

1. “Are you a busy mom with no time to make healthy meals for your family?”

What FB doesn’t like: Ads that speak too directly to viewers or pain points. Facebook calls these Personal Attributes.

Just as the Google algorithm knows when you’re keyword-stuffing to push your page higher in the search results, the Facebook algorithm knows when you’re using too much “you” or “your” language to call out directly to viewers online. While a few instances of “you” or “your” are passable, we have emails from Facebook’s reps themselves saying that if your ads are struggling, it’s best to omit the “yous” and “yours.”

Related: What to Do If Your Facebook Ad Account Is Disabled

Remember: Facebook wants your ads to blend into the newsfeed and not look much different from a post you would see from a friend.

The solution: Use stories, testimonials, or your own personal experiences or results. To avoid seeing your ads disapproved, remove as many instances of “you” and “your” from your ad copy as possible. The ad above could benefit from an easy re-work on the copy: “Dinner is ready! Meal delivery for busy families on the go.”

2. “STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING AND CLICK HERE!!!”

What Facebook doesn’t like: Too frequent a use of all capital letters or lots of exclamation marks!!!! (in fact, overuse of punctuation is sometimes flagged by Facebook under Grammar& Profanity.

Remember: You don’t want to “yell” at potential customers. That’s the impression all caps gives, producing the opposite reaction of what you hope to achieve.

The solution: Use caps sparingly and only to emphasize really important words, and avoid the rookie mistake of using to many exclamation points to get your point across. But what if you really want to emphasize your point? That’s easy. Play with emoji instead!

3. “Tired of diets that don’t work? Want to lose weight without counting calories?”

Facebook doesn’t like: Sensitive topics. Health, weight loss, beauty products, anti-aging, supplements … these all fall under “sensitive topics” that are closely monitored by Facebook. It addresses this problem under its Personal Attributes policy, Personal Health policy or Misleading or False Content policy.

Remember: Avoid using pain points or “negative” words like diet, weight loss, fat, depression, anxiety, stress, fear, overwhelm, terrified, etc…

The solution: Use positive language instead. Focus on how you want people to feel after using the product. For example, instead of “Lose 10 pounds this summer!” try, Feel balanced, fit and this summer. Join my free Fitness Challenge!”

4. “Generate $5,000 in the next 30 days! Join my free webinar to find out how.”

Facebook doesn’t like: Get rich quick and “make money” schemes, work-from-home opportunities, and big –or even small– claims that might not be possible for everyone to achieve. Facebook addresses this under its Personal Attributes policy. its Multilevel Marketing policy, its Prohibited Financial Services policy and its Misleading or False Content Policy.

Remember: If a message sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Likewise, if it’s so specific that not everyone will achieve the outcome promised, that’s a problem, too.

The solution: Be very careful using any language around making money, work-from-home opportunities or readers quitting their jobs. That’s an easy way to get your ads flagged or your account shut down. Instead, reframe true income opportunities or business trainings to focus on the benefits of what you’re offering. 

So: “Make 6-figures and fire your employer with this groundbreaking opportunity” isn’t going to go over well. Instead: “Learn the 5 most important habits that every successful entrepreneur needs to master their first year in business (even if they’ve held previous leadership positions and have a strong business background)” not only sounds less scammy but will also very likely play nicely with the algorithm.

5. “&%#%^@%” (i.e., trying to add curse words to your ads)

What Facebook doesn’t like: Profanity. Not even a little. Facebook addresses this under its Grammar & Profanity policy.

Remember: Facebook is always protecting its family-friendly environment. The last thing the platform wants is parents scrolling through content, a child by their side, only to encounter a four-letter curse word on a sponsored post. Along those same lines, a particularly sexy image and overt language around intimacy are nonstarters, as well.

The solution: Keep your ads clean and child-friendly. And as often as we’ve seen people try to get around these rules, remember that Facebook can read between the lines of a bunch of “&%#%^@%#%$&” characters to figure out that you’re trying to swear. They know all the sneaky tricks, and that stuff gets shut down too.

A few more things to understand about Facebook ads

If we’ve learned anything by consulting with hundreds of small business owners on how to fix their ads, it’s that the five simple solutions described here will solve 99 percent of your problems with Facebook.

Just remember, Facebook not only audits your ads but also your landing page (and your  URL for that matter, so your “getrichovernight.com” URL is not going to fly). You may need to do some clean-up work there as well if you’re promoting something a little more sensitive.

And if even after scrubbing your ads and web page of these forbidden phrases leaves you still scratching your head, wondering why your ads draw a “Not Approved” verdict, remember that you can always reach out to your assigned rep (if you have one — most are randomly assigned and not all accounts get a rep).

Alternately, you can find an expert who’ll dive in deep with you to figure out exactly which phrase or word is causing the headache. It’s usually something subtle, so don’t be discouraged if you’re unable to see it yourself.

Related: As Facebook Clamps Down on Advertisers, Email Becomes an Attractive Alternative

Finally, never forget that Facebook is still an incredible lead-generation tool despite these recent changes. Getting the most out of Facebook just requires learning the rules of engagement and playing nice with the system. If you do that, you’ll be very happy with your results advertising on the platform.

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The Facebook Ads Strategy That Can’t Lose

It’s a numbers game.


6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Running a profitable Facebook Ads campaign is simple. Not always easy, but simple.

There is a formula that can guarantee a profitable Facebook Ad campaign. Once you know the formula and the values to plug in, you’ll never sink money into a losing digital ad campaign again. I know it sounds too good to be true, but stick with me…

The Guaranteed Growth Formula

Here’s the entire formula: CPA < AP

Were you expecting coefficients, remainders and dividing by polynomials? Nope, there are only two values that matter when assessing your digital marketing funnel.

1. CPA – Cost Per Acquisition

2. AP – Average Profit Per Client

If your Cost Per Acquisition, the amount you pay to generate a paying customer using Facebook Ads, is less than the Average Profit you make from each new customer you’re guaranteed a profitable campaign.

Related: 5 Critical Marketing Metrics to Follow

Calculating Average Profit

To get average profit per client, sum your total revenue from new clients and subtract what you spent to serve them. Divide the result by the total new clients. For example, if you made $75,000 from 10 new clients over the past year and it cost you $40,000 to serve them, your average profit is:

 ($75,000 – $40,000) / 10 = $3500 Average Profit Per Client

If your average acquisition cost for similar future clients is less than $3500, your campaign will technically be profitable.

Of course most businesses won’t want to spend all of their profit on acquistion. An average business can expect to invest at least 7 percent but no more than 15 percent of revenue in sales and marketing. If Cost of Goods accounts for 60 percent or more of total revenue, your low profit margin may make it difficult to afford successful advertising. Decrease operating costs by increasing efficiency or adjust your margin by raising prices.

Don’t make the mistake of calculating Average Profit based on revenue only from the first sale. Use at least six months of revenue or your lifetime client value as the basis for your calculation, or you risk underfunding your marketing and sales budget.

Related: How Much Did That New Customer Cost You?

Calculating Cost Per Acquisition

Let’s assume you’ve considered all of your marketing and sales costs and determined you can spend $350 per new client on Facebook Ads. Let’s reverse engineer your ad campaign to see if a $350 cost of acquisition is reasonable.

The simplest Facebook ads funnel includes four metrics that build upon each other to determine your acquisition cost. I’ve included standard benchmarks for use as a starting point, but your results may differ:

1. Click-Through Rate (CTR) – Percentage of people clicking on your ad. Your CTR should be near or above 1 percent.

2. Cost Per Click (CPC) – The cost of one website visit. CPC should generally be below $3.

3. Lead Conversion Rate – The percentage of site traffic that becomes qualified leads. This value should be 20 percent or above.

4. Sales Conversion Rate – The percentage of leads that convert to a sale. Aim for sales conversion at or above 5 percent. (Ecommerce companies often skip the Lead Conversion stage and have a Sales Conversion Rate of 1 percent or greater.)

If 10,000 people view your ad at a 1 percent CTR, you’ll get about 100 website visits. At a $3 CPC, you’ve spent $300. Since 20 percent of your traffic will become leads and 5 percent of those leads become closed sales, we can calculate that you’ll generate approximately 60 leads and three new customers.

Your estimated acquisition cost using Facebook Ads is $100 per client, which is well within your budget of $350. This cost may rise as you scale and target less optimal prospects, but as long as your acquisition cost is less than $350 you’ll make an acceptable profit.

Complex funnels can include several ads and conversion points, but the Guaranteed Growth Formula of CPA < AP still applies. There’s no immediate reason for concern if your metrics differ from the benchmarks. You can and should split test ideas for improvement if your numbers are far from what you expect, but don’t mess up a good thing until you’ve got a better one.

Related: How to Calculate the Lifetime Value of a Customer

Optimizing Your Guaranteed Growth Funnel

If unhealthy metrics cause your acquisition to cost more than what you’ve budgeted, start with these adjustments:

Click-Through Rate Too Low or Cost Per Click Too High

If your CTR falls far under 1 percent Facebook may stop showing your ads or show them to second-rate audiences causing your traffic to tank and CPC to increase. To improve your click metrics, adjust your ad copy (headline and body text), ad creative (image or video) and highlight the benefits in your offer.

Refine your audience. Tailor your copy, images and call-to-action to the audience you’ve selected and ensure that your audience has the desire and means to act.

Lead Conversion Too Low

If leads aren’t converting at 20 percent or more, either the promise made by your ad isn’t congruent with your landing page, or the process of moving forward is too difficult. Try using the same image and headline in your ad and reduce the form fields in sign-up forms to the bare minimum. Also try retargeting visitors who don’t sign up with ads stating the benefits of acting now, or with a different offer.

Sales Conversion Too Low

If you’re an Ecommerce brand with sales conversion below 1 percent your shopping cart or sales process may have too much friction. Simplify the sales process to decrease clutter, or increase trust by adding testimonials and trust signals near important calls to action.

Your sales process may need improvement, but that is beyond this article. In the meantime, you can still increase revenue by cross-selling and upselling those who convert. You may also improve client retention with recurring contracts. Yes, that’s why many software companies are switching to cloud-based subscription models.

When used properly, The Guaranteed Growth Formula of CPA < AP makes Facebook Ad marketing an investment, not an expense. Using the formula, the most you should ever risk is a small initial budget to test whether your estimated calculations hold true in practice.

If your net profit is 3X your acquisition cost, your funnel returns $3 for every $1 you invest. Instead of asking “How much should I spend on marketing?” The question becomes, “How much do I want to make?” I’ve built a Facebook Ad Growth Calculator that incorporates the Guaranteed Growth Formula to help execute your growth strategy. Input your revenue goal and it will estimate the Facebook Ad impressions and traffic required to reach it.

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