Did you notice it?
The ever-decreasing organic reach which has been plummeting since 2014?
For many brands and marketers, including myself, 2018 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 the sound of that. 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 healthy return on Ad spend.
Why use Facebook Ads for your e-commerce brand?
With all the other options you have available to do your marketing and the over-saturation of Facebook Ads compared to other social media platforms, you might be thinking you can get a better ROI 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 in your products.
In order to provide value to a specific audience, you need to have a good understanding of 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 who invest heavily in their prospecting before having a strong grasp of who their potential customers are. With the extensive targeting options on Facebook Ads, it’s easy to fall in 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, 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 allows you to get more bang for your buck (greater return on Ad spend).
Before diving into Facebook’s Audience 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 like a tedious, time-consuming task, but It’s extremely useful.
In order to avoid sitting there 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 move onto 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 who have very little data to work with.
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 exactly very catchy. But it’s called the stalker method for a reason.
The reason is that you’ll be stalking your customer’s digital behaviors in order to extract useful information about your customer’s interests.
In order to do this, you’ll need a few of your customer’s names or email addresses. Go to Facebook.com and enter your customers’ name or email 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 to 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 a significant amount of Page Likes or you’re 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 be spending 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 that they are relevant.
In order 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 need to go through the pages and make sure 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 behavior of the selected audience, and it’s relatively straightforward.
Providing Value to your Audience
Once you’ve researched your audience and have a strong grasp of their demographics, interest’s/pain points, and purchasing behaviors 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.
In Gary V’s words, you don’t want to go straight for the right hook (offer) before throwing some jabs (providing value). Remember, you need to provide value in order to build trust with your audience.
The best way to do this is to create content which is relevant to your audience or solves a particular pain point. Because Facebook’s organic reach has been steadily declining since 2014, you’re going to 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 your brand at a really fast rate. Plus, you’ll be generating leads that you can target when you start running ads for your offers.
Facebook Ad E-commerce Strategy; the nitty-gritty
A retargeting campaign is rather self-explanatory. You’re simply retargeting your Ads to people who have had some form of interaction with your store.
The reason retargeting campaigns are so effective on Facebook is because of a little thing called the Facebook Pixel. If you place the string of code on your website, it collects data that helps you track conversions from Facebook Ads, build targeted audiences, and most pertinently, remarket to people who have already taken some form of action on your website.
Creating a Pixel is relatively straightforward with this guide from Facebook.
In order to retarget Ads, you need to have generated a significant amount of 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.
If you have customer files or any other information on your customers, you can create custom audiences. You can then target Ads to the audience you’ve created on Facebook and Instagram.
Jon Loomer, who is 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’d suggest reading this guide by Jon Loomer.
A Lookalike Audience is a neat feature 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 on the basis of how similar they are to your best customers.
Essentially, you’ll be able to reach cold audiences that are like your warm audiences, but much larger. That’s super powerful because you’re able to 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 you have your buyer’s personas, your custom audiences and your 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 keep in mind it’s equally important to dominate one platform before expanding on to the next one.
The Importance of Visual Platforms for E-commerce Ads
Visual platforms are so important because they are easier for the brain to decode than text, they drive better engagement and they 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 getting warmed up.
Is Instagram’s organic reach dying? Absolutely!
But Instagram is literally one of the greatest platform for marketeers, e-commerce, business owners, and young entrepreneurs. There is serious business behind Instagram and your business would be missing out on a huge opportunity if you weren’t capitalizing on the current trend.
Because Instagram is owned by Facebook, you can manage all your ads via the same Ads Manager. This is neat because not only can you run ads on both platforms with one click, you can also 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 simply duplicated my ads and modified the creative to suit the visual nature of Instagram.
Ultimately, I found that my ads were performing much better on Instagram than they were on Facebook so I doubled down on the ads that were 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 to be extremely effective in kick-starting my business by allowing me to rapidly build an audience and ultimately drive sales.
All e-commerce business owners would be missing out on a serious opportunity if your 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 way ahead of your competition.
If you haven’t got it all figured out yet, worry not – it doesn’t take much to get yourself on track.