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You’ll get expert advice on topics to help grow your business today.
If you’re running an Ecommerce store, you can’t ignore Facebook as a source of prospective customers. Nearly eighty percent of internet users are on Facebook. The people who can afford to purchase products online are more than likely on Facebook. The two industries almost go hand-in-hand. Indeed, the well-documented move of users from desktop to mobile has enhanced Facebook’s relationship with the Ecommerce industry.
Ecommerce sales were over $1.5 trillion in 2016 and are expected to reach over $4 trillion in 2018 – which is higher growth than what was anticipated in 2016. It’s safe to say that Ecommerce is booming and will be a big part of the global economy in the foreseeable future.
Facebook’s growth needs no introduction. In 2012, Facebook reached 1 billion active users in a quarter, and this year that number has doubled. Facebook has 2 billion active users daily. That’s over a quarter of the world population!
When you factor in that the majority of the population isn’t buying goods online yet, the number and relevance of Ecommerce customers on Facebook is undeniable. Needless to say, the combination of Facebook and Ecommerce is not only a money-producing pairing, but it is also an inevitable one. Ecommerce marketers obviously need to take heed, and ignore these two trends at their own peril.
Knowing your audience is crucial to online shopping success. There are a plethora of ways to target prospective customers with ads, and Facebook is the leader in the diversity of targeting methods.
For example, a photography company like GoPro might target ads towards photographers that like to snowboard.
Via Sprout Social
However, targeting various relevant audiences isn’t enough in the competitive world of Ecommerce. You need to understand the buyer cycle or the sales funnel of your prospective customers.
While this concept is more strongly correlated with B2B businesses that have a longer buying cycle, the more granularity with which you understand the sales funnel within your Ecommerce audience, the better you’ll be able to match the appropriate ad and offer to the correct bucket of prospective customers.
After you’ve sussed out the relevant segments of your customer sales funnel, you’ll need to create buyer personas for each area of the sales funnel. It may seem like overkill to create buyer personas for each stage of the buyer process, as opposed to one overarching buyer persona that represents your customers.
However, as we have seen with the increased competitiveness of the market, the influx of Ecommerce storefronts shows no signs of slowing down. Ecommerce businesses will continue to get better and better at targeting and showing ultra-precise ads that hit the right persona at the right time.
Via Single Grain
As we’ll see, these targeting methods are only going to improve. Storefronts with even a meager budget will be able to pick and choose exactly where they want to show up, depending on exactly who their prospective customers are. If you have no insight into who your prospective Ecommerce customers are, you’re leaving an opening for newcomers to steal your revenue.
Dismissing this doomsday scenario can be easy if you’re making money hand-over-fist right now, but sitting on your laurels is a death sentence for your business. Are you scared, yet? You should be.
Related to creating buyer personas and understanding your business’ unique sales funnel journey is the concept of audience segmentation.
By matching specific audiences with corresponding offers, you can gain valuable control over the performance of your Ecommerce campaigns on Facebook. Segmentation is a common and valuable concept for marketing in general, and is even more important when applying the concept to Facebook Ecommerce campaigns.
The number of targeting methods combined with the different personas of the various areas of the sales funnel will produce a staggering number of campaigns within Facebook. Organizing them in an orderly fashion will be your best friend.
Segmenting your audiences at a granular level not only helps you get organized, but just like science experiments, each audience or variable you run is like a test. You’ll be able to use the performance of granular audiences to inform your continued testing process – which is the hallmark of all sustainable PPC campaigns.
The sheer number of audience permutations can be overwhelming. The image below hammers that point home. This probably looks familiar if you’ve ever created targeted audiences within Facebook.
Where does one even start in creating Facebook audiences? The answer is: You just start! The most general aspects of targeting are demographic and location.
For the most part, these aspects of your targeting will be constant for all of your campaigns. However, if there is variability in your products and their respective demographics, it makes sense to create separate campaigns for each set of demographics or locations to take advantage of hypertargeted messaging.
Even differentiating campaigns by cities and calling them out in your ad copy can make the difference in halting a user’s attention span just long enough to gain an edge in click-through-rate performance. These are the small edges that you’ll want to seek and capitalize on to beat the heavy competition.
The demographic targeting does not stop there, however.
Via Ad Espresso
As you continue to expand the combinations of targeting options, remember the audience segmentation framework that is absolutely crucial for reference and testing purposes throughout the life of your Facebook Ads endeavor.
After starting with a general characteristic – like location or demographic criteria, such as age or gender – you can slowly expand to other Facebook targeting capabilities. For instance, you can include interest or behavioral targeting based on what you know about your buyer personas and the section of the sales funnel they are in.
Via Ad Espresso
Via Ad Espresso
The custom audiences option within Facebook allows you to upload proprietary lists to target, which can help with loyalty, retention, or upselling efforts.
Via Ad Espresso
These can be super valuable audiences because you already have a ton of useful data points on this audience that you can use to frame your messaging and pinpoint their location in your sales funnel.
Additionally, you can take advantage of Facebook’s machine learning algorithm to create lookalike audiences.
Basically, Facebook has an algorithm that finds patterns in your proprietary lists and comes up with new prospects based on these patterns. They can be an incredible source of new customers or prospects.
Via Ad Espresso
Install the Pixel code on every page of your site, and verify with the help of Google Chrome extension called Pixel Helper.
By installing the Facebook Pixel on your website, you allow Facebook to track user behavior that can then be used as criteria for advanced and customized targeting.
For example, if you know that a person who views a certain product page will have a high probability of being interested in certain complimentary products, the Facebook Pixel will allow you to aggregate that audience and target them with Facebook Ads.
Using the Pixel in combination with your Ecommerce platform, you can and should track standard Ecommerce touchpoints for remarketing and lookalike audience purposes. It will be imperative that you analyze the data aggregating around each touchpoint and understand the meaning of the data. For example, how do users that initiate payment and drop out of the process differ from users that ‘add to wishlist’.
After you describe and explain the behavior of different touchpoints, can you make certain predictions for how these audiences respond to different ad types or offers? Of course, this takes a lot of the usual testing and validation with significant data that PPC professionals are all familiar with, but that is the grind of the game that gets elite Ecommerce sellers to rise above the competition!
Remarketing is standard procedure in the PPC world these days, but the granularity of remarketing campaigns can improve industry-wide.
Remarketing to shopping cart abandoners is a well-known tactic in the Ecommerce world, but there are so many other relevant touchpoints that have value. The key is to track these touchpoints and continue to analyze data and find trends and patterns with the different audiences that begin to aggregate once you start tracking this data.
No doubt this process can get hairy and complex when you talk about the mountains of data that can accumulate when you track so many different levels of the Ecommerce process. Being aware of your resources – and possibly outsourcing your shopping campaign management – based on your inventory of human capital and time could be the best way to maximize your return.
Upselling is a crucial aspect of maximizing the lifetime value and average order value of prospects. Using your remarketing lists, information about the behavior of your audience (using the Facebook Pixel), and the understanding of your prospects’ typical sales funnel journey unlocks the full potential of Facebook advertising for Ecommerce companies.
If you have multiple products, the sheer number of permutations based on the possible variables we’ve discussed can keep you busy for months – if not years – perfecting the process.
As most Ecommerce business owners know, the product page image is one of the most important aspects – if not the most important -of Ecommerce success. This idea extends to your Facebook Ads.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and there is a reason this cliche exists. Whether you show high quality images of your product, or engaging lifestyle images that convey context, it is imperative to capture your prospect’s low attention span and defeat their propensity to quickly scroll through their Facebook.
Because contrasting colors are so important in having your ad stand out, it is preferable to avoid blues and whites so that you don’t blend in with Facebook’s colors.
Making sure your image has the right specs and dimensions to match up with Facebook’s requirements can go a long way in producing a professional image. Images that cut off or appear distorted will be catastrophic for your click-through-rate.
Other image best practices can also go a long way in improving click-through-rate, the same as any other image ad in PPC. Images with women tend to get better CTRs. If your audience is predominantly women, try images of men to see how they perform. Happy people in your images tend to work better than no people or neutral people.
Keep in mind that Facebook only allows up to 20% of your image to be overlaid with text, so they really encourage an image to have the ability to stand on its own. In short, the product and images are the heart and soul of your ads, and if your prospects detect substandard quality, you’ll simply lose out on business and awareness left and right. Prospects can’t touch and feel your product like they can in stores, so put your best foot forward with the image!
Of course, sales and price reductions in the forms of referral programs, loyalty programs, seasonal offers, and volume purchases can drive incremental revenue. You’ll want to be creative, but also check out what your competitors are doing.
Luckily, intellectual property rights for marketing tactics don’t exist. Ecommerce can sometimes come down to simple aspects like pricing, and one way to make lower prices salient is through offers and discounts.
There are even special Facebook Offer Ads that make it easy for you to remarket to top-of-funnel buckets or bottom-of-funnel bucket prospects that are familiar with your brand to encourage them to purchase more – or purchase for the first time.
The urgency of a limited time offer and the additional value of price reductions can be useful for short-term revenue streams.
What is your brand story? While short Ecommerce buying cycles can drive managers to focus on bottom-of-funnel sales activities, it is crucially important to continue to replenish prospects in your top-of-funnel buckets.
This process of brand awareness means promoting content that focuses on impressions and clicks, as opposed to ‘add-to-carts’ and conversions. Playing the long game can pay dividends down the road, and you have to play both the long and short game in Ecommerce – just as you would with other products with long-term buyer cycles.
The more exposure to your brand, the more likely a prospect is to purchase your products.
Video ads, especially the quick six second ads, can be a great way to raise brand awareness while also taking into account declining attention spans. Video ads are also a great opportunity to gauge the level of interest of certain audiences and remarket to them using Facebook’s unique method of segmenting video views by the percentage of the video that is viewed.
By following up video views with this type of targeting, you can tailor ad copy to the amount of engagement a user exhibits.
Canvas ads are a great way to engage with users that are early in the sales funnel journey and who haven’t yet narrowed down the products they’re interested in.
By furthering the conversation with your brand through interactive ads, users are more likely to respond to remarketing ads that are targeted based on their type of interaction.
The different Facebook Ad types can be overwhelming, but Shopify recommends focusing on eight types: domain ads, multi-product ads (carousel ads), offer ads, video ads, lead ads, canvas, and sponsored mentions.
Domain ads keep it simple with one image that takes you to the website for users to do more exploring. Let’s take a look at a few of the other important ad types available to Ecommerce storefronts.
Lead ads are normally associated with B2B lead generation, but they can be great top-of-funnel campaigns that capitalize on brand awareness. This can entice users to act on a micro-conversion, such as giving their emails to be informed of future deals.
Many Ecommerce strategies ignore this step, but slowly taking prospects down the customer buyer journey can be a counter to the hard sell that many product-focused businesses pursue.
This is especially true with Facebook audiences, who may be turned off by the hard sell. Providing a catchy or educational incentive along with a lead ad can gain more engagement and value in the long-run for Ecommerce stores.
Sponsored mentions are a great ad type that makes use of co-branding and social proof to create synergies between users of two brands.
If you can identify ‘influencers’ that speak to audiences highly relevant to your brand – or even better, to your products – you can take advantage of their influence through this unique ad type.
Recommendations from trusted sources are well-known to be a tipping point in producing action in prospective customers. Facebook has found a unique way to facilitate co-branding and empower influencers to market their influence easier.
Just form a ‘handshake’ with the partner on Facebook from your company page and post an ad, and you’re done! Generally, you’ll have made an agreement with the other brand or influencer before you set up your ad, which can entail some negotiation or relationship building.
Multi-product or carousel ads are great for more general audience targeting that exposes audiences to a group of related or similar products.
This ad type can be useful with middle-of-funnel prospects who are familiar with your brand, but are still not well-defined enough to target specific products. Perhaps they haven’t browsed your website deep enough or gone through enough steps in the shopping cart process to allow you to specify certain products.
Multi-product ads can also be great for audiences where there is evidence of an inclination for repeat purchases. This can make it profitable to show an array of complementary products. Many studies show an increased conversion rate from the expanded number of products shown.
By now, dynamic product ads – which were popularized by Google – have become standard practice for Facebook Ads. These are truly the bread and butter of Ecommerce.
For dynamic product ads, uploading your product catalog to Facebook Business Manager is half the battle. After you set up your product feed within Facebook’s ecosystem, you just have to create the the actual dynamic product ads.
Make sure you segment out product types/categories as granularly as you possibly can. Of course, the more segments you have, the higher the level of difficulty there can be to manage and optimize to the level of specificity that such granularity allows. There is always a balance of time and granular control that every digital advertiser has to make.
The last step after choosing the products is choosing the audience to target based on remarketing audiences.
However, if your product offering is fairly static, the heavy work can often be front-loaded in the setup of product ads within Facebook. Once you have your product categories segmented with the corresponding ads, it can just be a matter constantly tweaking ad copy and other settings associated with each individual campaign to maximize ROI.
The really cool thing about dynamic product ads is how automatic they can be after you upload your product feed with the correct keywords and images.
You can not only choose the specific products to display for certain audiences, but the products you do display have the image and text finished for you based on your product feed – hence the aforementioned front-loaded work.
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, Ecommerce merchants that use Shopify will benefit from the integration of this platform within Facebook’s system to create an easier shopping experience. Everything can also be more easily tracked within Facebook’s advertising ecosystem using the Pixel tag.
Selling products directly on Facebook while still maintaining this tracking ability is huge for Ecommerce managers in making their data management easier, and thus, their lives easier.
In the end, PPC is a numbers game. Have an understanding of customer lifetime value, average order value, ROI, ad spend, and conversion rates relevant to your business. Use sophisticated reporting to get the best data for insights to improve performance, and continue to learn and hone the accuracy of these numbers over time.
Facebook has more powerful tools than ever at your fingertips to make this happen. Use the Power Editor to compare campaigns to see what is working and to help you set up A/B tests that will help you continually learn and iterate.
With so many targeting methods, ad types, and messaging angles, it can be easy to rush A/B tests or jump to conclusions quickly.
The short buying cycle of Ecommerce can impel decision-making that favors short-term gains, but hypotheses that are validated with significant data are more meaningful in the long-term.
There are different tools and services out there that can help you achieve statistical significance in your digital marketing tests. The preciseness of Ecommerce tools, and again, the increased competition, make the Ecommerce business a brutally tough game of not inches, but centimeters. Taking the time to suss out each variable and its significance takes ‘attention to detail’ to the next level. This is what it will take to succeed in the next stage of Ecommerce evolution.
Ecommerce Facebook Ads can be a handful because of the multi-layered shopping cart experience combined with the multiple products that typify a standard Ecommerce store. The multiple combinations of audiences and products, the crazy increase in competition, and the variations in ad copy can present managers with a ton of details that can discombobulate any otherwise calm person. However, Facebook is becoming more and more user-friendly with its tools – and especially with its partnership with Shopify.
The diversity of targeting options should excite the curious Ecommerce manager to experiment with all the different options available. Indeed, experimenting and domain knowledge of best practices in the Ecommerce realm can be the differentiator for those that excel and become the big money makers in the future Ecommerce world. We are still in the early stages of Ecommerce, despite the huge volumes of sales that already exist.
With a slow-and-steady attitude that embraces the details, Ecommerce managers can separate themselves from the competition one sale at a time.