Did you notice it?
The ever-decreasing organic reach, which has been plummeting since 2014?
For many brands and marketers, including myself, last year was a tumultuous year as deterioration of trust and slowdown of organic reach forced marketers to dive deeper into paid strategies.
Are paid strategies the only counter-measure?
Being more selective about what and when you publish content are also relatively effective strategies to counteract the changes, but none are effective as putting money behind your posts.
If you’re an e-commerce entrepreneur on a shoestring budget, you probably don’t like that sound. But the truth is harsh, and the truth is that it’s becoming increasingly necessary to pay to play.
The good news is that you can still play with a small budget, and if you play your cards right, you can see a healthy return on ad spending.
Why use Facebook Ads for your e-commerce brand?
With all the other options available to do your marketing and the over-saturation of Facebook Ads compared to other social media platforms, you might think you can get a better ROI by investing in other marketing platforms and activities.
But there’s a reason so many brands use Facebook Ads. There’s a reason savvy marketers are doubling down on their Facebook ad campaigns.
And the reason is it’s effective, simple and powerful.
The Omnipotence of Facebook Ads Manager
The Facebook Ads Manager is a Swiss-army knife that allows you to create & manage ads, study analytics and gain insights into your audience.
Every savvy business owner knows that providing value is the first step in building an audience that engages with your business and trusts your products.
To provide value to a specific audience, you need to understand who your potential customers are and what they value.
How to Research your Audience and Create your Buyers Persona
I see many e-commerce business owners investing heavily in their prospecting before having a solid grasp of their potential customers. With the extensive targeting options on Facebook Ads, it’s easy to fall into the pitfall of targeting the wrong person.
The answer to avoiding this pitfall is simple. Research, research, research. This is where you leverage the power of Facebook’s Audience Insight Tool.
Facebook Ads doesn’t just have the most advanced targeting capabilities compared to all other marketing platforms, and it also allows you to do research into a specific audience.
Why is research so important?
Because it allows you to write more effective copy for your ads, target the right audience and ultimately will enable you to get more bang for your buck (greater return on Ad spend).
Before diving into Facebook’s Audience Insights Tool, it’s important to brainstorm your potential buyer’s personas. A little exercise I like to do is sketch out a few buyer’s personas in Excel. This may seem tedious and time-consuming, but It’s beneficial.
To avoid thinking about your ideal customer persona, create an Excel file and break it down into demographic attributes and customers’ needs and pain points.
Once you’ve done this, you can continue fact-checking your customer persona with actual data from Facebook.
It may seem like you’ll need a substantial amount of data to get something out of this, but this strategy is especially effective for e-commerce business owners with very little data.
I call this method “The Stalker Method.”
Here’s how it works.
The Stalker Method
I understand that the name of this method isn’t precisely very catchy. But it’s called the stalker method for a reason.
The reason is that you’ll be stalking your customer’s digital behaviours to extract useful information about your customer’s interests.
You’ll need a few of your customers’ names or email addresses to do this. Go to Facebook.com and enter your customers’ names or emails in the search bar. Once you’ve found their profile, click “More” and scroll down to “Likes.”
Voila. A list of all your customers’ expressed interests.
Do this with a statistically significant number of your customers. It doesn’t have to be too many, but enough for you to have a reliable representation of your audience.
Cross-reference these with the buyer’s persona you created. Do any of them match up?
If not, create a new column in your Excel file and build a list of common interests.
Facebook’s Audience Insights Tool
Audience Insights allows you to analyze audiences on Facebook and explore targetable interests.
If you have many Page Likes or are familiar with Facebook’s Custom Audiences, you can use those for this strategy. If not, use the interests from the stalker method.
As an e-commerce marketer, you’ll spend most of your time on three main sections of the Audience Insights tool; Demographics, Page Likes and Purchase.
This is where you can see gender, age, habits, lifestyle,
2. Page Likes
This is where you can see which other pages/targetable interests your audience “likes.” A big mistake people make when looking at page likes is not ensuring they are relevant.
To target the pages, you need to ensure that at least 80% of them are directly relevant.
For example, if your niche is Ice Hockey, you must go through the pages and ensure that at least 80% of them are Ice hockey related. You’ll notice that not all the pages are directly related or relevant.
This is where you can see the purchasing behaviour of the selected audience, and it’s relatively straightforward.
Providing Value to your Audience
Once you’ve researched your audience and have a firm grasp of their demographics, interest’s/pain points, and purchasing behaviours you can start investing in boosting content.
This is especially important if you don’t have a following yet because you don’t want to put your potential buyers off by going straight for the sale before you’ve provided any value.
Gary V says you don’t want to go straight for the right hook (offer) before throwing some jabs (providing value). Remember, you must deliver value to build trust with your audience.
The best way to do this is to create content relevant to your audience or solve a particular pain point. Because Facebook’s organic reach has been steadily declining since 2014, you will have to put money behind your posts.
This is known as ‘boosting.’ There’s nothing wrong with paying to get more exposure, and we’re talking about a small financial investment with huge potential upside.
If you’re putting out good content, you’ll start building your audience and brand quickly. You’ll also be generating leads you can target when you start running ads for your offers.
Facebook Ad E-commerce Strategy; the nitty-gritty
A Facebook retargeting campaign is relatively self-explanatory. You’re simply retargeting your ads to people who have had some form of interaction with your store.
Retargeting campaigns are so effective on Facebook because of a little thing called the Facebook Pixel. Suppose you place the string of code on your website. In that case, it collects data that helps you track conversions from Facebook Ads, build targeted audiences, and, most pertinently, remarket to people who have already taken action on your website.
Creating a Pixel is relatively straightforward with this guide from Facebook.
To retarget Ads, you need to have generated significant traffic or interactions with our store. That’s precisely why boosting content is so important.
If you’re targeting the right people with jabs, when you retarget with a right hook, you’re much more likely to convert and see a healthy return on your Ad spend.
You can create custom audiences if you have customer files or any other information on your customers. You can then target ads to the audience you’ve created on Facebook and Instagram.
Jon Loomer, a thought-leader on Facebook Ads, believes (as I do) that targeting is the most important part of your Ads. Custom audiences allow you to create highly targeted Ads.
If you’ve never created a custom audience, I suggest reading Jon Loomer’s guide.
A Lookalike Audience is a neat Facebook Ads feature and probably one of the greatest ways to reach new people who are likely to be interested in your business because they’ve been selected based on how similar they are to your best customers.
You’ll be able to reach cold audiences like your warm ones, but much larger ones. That’s super powerful because you can target cold traffic that behaves like warm traffic.
Moreover, creating a lookalike audience is extremely easy – all you need is a custom audience with at least 100 people.
Expanding to Visual-Oriented Platforms
Once you’ve done your research and have your buyer’s personas, custom audiences and ad creative, you’re ready to start advertising on visual platforms like Instagram and Pinterest.
It’s important not to keep all your eggs in one basket, but it’s equally essential to dominate one platform before expanding on to the next.
The Importance of Visual Platforms for E-commerce Ads
Visual platforms are so important because they are more accessible for the brain to decode than text, drive better engagement, and maximize social impact. There’s nothing like seeing a product being enjoyed by an actual person.
Over the last few years, Instagram has become a disruptive marketing force. Last year, Instagram reached a billion monthly active users. Unlike Facebook and Snapchat, which have stagnated, Instagram is just warming up.
Is Instagram’s organic reach dying? Absolutely!
But Instagram is one of the greatest platforms for marketeers, e-commerce, business owners, and young entrepreneurs. There is serious business behind Instagram, and your business would be missing out on a massive opportunity if you weren’t capitalizing on the current trend.
Because Facebook owns Instagram, you can manage all your ads via the same Ads Manager. This is neat because you can run ads on both platforms with one click and go over your analytics in the same place.
For my fashion e-commerce brand, Instagram was the first visual platform I targeted because I was already running Ads on Facebook. I duplicated my ads and modified the creative to suit the graphic nature of Instagram.
Ultimately, I found that my ads were performing much better on Instagram than on Facebook, so I doubled down on the ads performing best.
Conclusion & Key Takeaways
Are Facebook Ads less valuable than they were a few years ago?
Maybe. All successful platforms eventually become over-saturated with marketers who deter users.
But not many platforms are currently as effective as Facebook Ads Manager. It’s proven highly effective in kick-starting my business by allowing me to build an audience and drive sales rapidly.
All e-commerce business owners will miss out on a serious opportunity if their business is not fully capitalizing on the power of Facebook ads.
Also, don’t forget that your education never really stops. Read these 27 e-commerce books, and you’ll be ahead of your competition.
If you haven’t figured it all out yet, worry not – it doesn’t take much to get on track.