Having had the opportunity to speak to and work with a number of eCommerce websites in the last 3-4 months, I am beginning to notice a common trend, at least among those that I had interacted with.
This article is in no way a scientific study that encompasses all eCommerce websites out there.
What I’ve written here is solely based on my experience and you’re welcome to chip in your ideas or share your refuting evidence with me.
If you own an eCommerce business and you can empathize with what I am saying, please give me a shoutout so I know that this is a prevalent problem and I’d probably do more digging and experimenting to share a couple more tips here on my blog.
The trend that I’m starting to notice has to do with how eCommerce websites often struggle with Facebook Ads in the beginning.
And they often make one of these statements:
- Facebook Ad is all hype – very few people, if any, actually buy after seeing an ad
- Facebook Ad is a complete waste of money
- I don’t get it – why are people not buying?
- What’s more to optimize other than having an attractive image and a cool copy?
Often, after digging further into their Google Analytics data, listening and watching every Hotjar recording, combing through their websites, and analysing their Facebook Ad reports, one of these issues would inadvertently turn up:
- For brand new eCommerce websites, they often face problems with user experience. Users land on the website and either they don’t know what to do next or they get stuck at a certain page
- The eCommerce website is attracting unprofitable customers – customers who don’t buy
- A popular product was out of stock and the product’s sales constituted more than 50% of their revenue (true story)
- They were advertising to the wrong people
- They employed a completely under-optimized Facebook advertising strategy
See, eCommerce websites nowadays turn to Facebook as their first advertising channel and when things don’t work out in the first 2 to 4 weeks, they throw in the towel.
And guess what? Facebook is almost always the scapegoat.
Don’t be like them.
If you do, you’re leaving money on the table.
It’s like having customers walk into your store who didn’t buy and closing your doors just because those who walked into your store didn’t buy! It doesn’t make sense.
If any of these experiences hit you, then you ought to act now and investigate – find out the true problem behind your nonperforming ad campaign before you do anything else.
If you truly believe that the problem lies with Facebook, then read on and see if any of these moves could be useful to you.
In this article, I’m going to share these 5 big opportunities that my clients missed before they started working with me:
- Using an incorrect advertising objective
- Advertising to an unsegmented audience
- Not creating a separate message for people who’ve visited your website but never bought from you
- Not reaching out again after the product consumption cycle
- Not reaching beyond who Facebook limits them to
Selling on Facebook: 5 Big Opportunities ECommerce Websites Miss
1. Using an incorrect advertising objective
It seems almost intuitive today that any business owner or marketer would use the right advertising objective when it comes to advertising on Facebook.
But somehow, eCommerce websites are still hitting the “Boost Post” button ever so often, relying on that one source in order to generate profits from Facebook.
The problem…isn’t so much that eCommerce websites are using the “Boost Post” button but rather, they’re often boosting a post with an image, rather than boosting a link post which directs anyone who clicks on the ad to their online store.
In other words, instead of running a Page Post Engagement Ad, eCommerce websites should really be running a Website Conversion Ad.
The Facebook Pixel that accompanies the Website Conversion Ad also helps the eCommerce Website to optimize their ad campaign to reach the most important audience for their business.
And even if their conversion data are not perfect, Facebook still makes it a great deal better when you use the Website Conversion objective than when you use the Post Engagement objective.
So why are so many eCommerce websites still “placing so much emphasis” on the wrong ad objective, despite the wealth of information out there?
For this problem, I blame it on no one but my fellow marketers, myself included.
Because of the insane amount of resources online, it seems that contradicting and popular but cookie cutter information have left amateurs frustrated as to who to listen to.
Just do a search on Facebook Advertising blogs and you’ll probably find more than a hundred different blogs – few of which are truly of the highest quality.
So I made it a point to filter and only read a few digital publications and blogs today:
2. Advertising to an unsegmented audience
I know for one that majority of eCommerce websites today sell to a large group of people. And these people may not come from a specific age group, gender, or even city.
But it is not good enough to advertise to an entire group that comprises the makeup of every single customer that has bought from you before.
For example, let’s say that you’re selling a particular brand of Shampoo online. These shampoos are not available locally and you are the sole distributor of the product in United States.
Your answer might be “no”, but this is exactly what many of you are doing right now.
Check your campaign – if you’re targeting your entire audience in a single age group, you are one of these people.
So if you aren’t supposed to target all of them in one group…what should you do?
My advice is to break them down into meaningful segments – young vs old, young corporate professionals vs middle management vs senior management vs retirees, just as an example.
Meaningful segments can mean segmentation by gender, location, education, and more.
And one of my favourite segmentation these days especially for clients who target a broad market is age groups.
The thing is…different age groups will have different purchasing powers and demand different products.
Different age groups will also have different needs and preferences – preferences for style over form and for brand over function, just as an example.
The intention here is not to capture every person based on their needs and preferences, although that would be ideal. But it’s impossible to say that you want to reach people who’re only interested in your product – even if the ability to target Facebook users by interest seemed very promising at first.
The intention of segmenting your target audience by age groups is to rank each segment by its profitability and allocate your budget accordingly.
Compared to running your ads to one big segment (and in my example, the entire age group 18 to 65+), breaking down your campaign into smaller meaningful segments can cut your waste and massively increase your ROI.
3. Using a generic message to reach people who’ve visited your website but never bought from you
Another opportunity that I see eCommerce websites miss out on is turning people who aren’t immediately ready to buy into customers somewhere down the road.
Although there are many website visitors who come by and leave without ever coming back again, a segment of those people may fall into 2 groups:
- People who forgot to buy because life somehow got in the way
- People who aren’t ready to buy just yet
If your website visitors forgot to make the purchase, then you could offer a simple reminder like:
“You forgot to buy the [product] – why not get it today and spoil yourself this weekend?”
If you’re more adventurous, you could imitate Ryan Deiss’ sense of humor and write something like:
“Did life get in the way? You forgot to take advantage of this deal?”
And what if they aren’t ready to buy?
In this case, just keep the ad running in the right hand column so when they’re ready to buy, you’re right in front of their eyes and right on top of their mind!
4. Not reaching out again after the product consumption cycle
I’m not sure how true this is, but I find that majority of business owners I’ve spoken to are always fixated on acquiring new customers.
And I can understand why.
See, when you build a business from scratch, you had no customers. So whatever strategies you’ve got were focused on attracting new customers.
And when you build a customer base, you believe that your initial strategies were the reason that got you to where you are, so you continue using whatever strategy that you were using.
Given that, it’s hardly a surprise that you neglect customers who already bought from you!
And past performance is not a reliable indication of future performance.
Here’s the thing. There’re only 3 ways to grow your revenue:
- Increase number of customers
- Increase average order value
- Increase customer lifetime value
You’re effectively shutting down 1 of the 3 potential ways to grow your business!
So what did my clients and I do?
For one, we already have their email addresses. So we didn’t have to rely on Facebook completely.
If you’re a naysayer, try sending out an email every weekend to your customers to promote your products.
If you’re a believer, ReEngager has an almost complete system of emails for your customers.
My clients and I see this as a long-term marketing strategy. As we continue to build our customer base through Facebook advertising, we’re also building, testing, and reiterating on our follow-up email sequence.
For one of my eCommerce clients, 2% of our customers (a few thousand of them) have returned to purchase from us via emails. Considering that the only thing we spent on was $50 a month for the email service provider, we’re getting 17x ROI on our emails. And we haven’t even included the sales we’re getting through our Facebook ad retargeting campaign.
For the same client, we spent $289.90 USD (converted using Google Search) and returned $2133.9 USD in sales, giving a 6.36x ROI.
So when should you start retargeting customers?
My approach is to see it in 3 categories:
- Customers who just bought from you
- Customers who are likely to have finished using your product
- Customers who haven’t bought for a long, long time
1. Customers who just bought from you
Among these customers, I’d focus on giving them the “new buyer welcome” experience – send them interesting nuggets of information that they can use or feel more knowledgeable about your product, ask them to review your product about a week after they bought it, give them an incentive to share with their friends, and help them get to know the people behind the business.
2. Customers who are likely to have finished using your product
This is the stage where I start retargeting them for sales – remind them about the coupon you shipped to their house with the product, write a sales-letter type content where you teach them to differentiate your product from another through identifying and promoting your product’s forte (it’s like killing 2 birds with 1 stone), use a little humor to get them lower their “sales” firewall.
3. Customers who haven’t bought for a long, long time
I read a book called ASK and in this proven survey funnel, one of the surveys they use is titled “Do you hate me?”
It’s basically a GREAT approach to find out exactly why your customers aren’t buying!
Imagine receiving an email that asks you a mildly absurd question – I’d totally crack up!
I’m not saying that you must send a survey to them and ask a list of questions – I don’t even think that you MUST use this approach. But what I’d recommend you NOT to do is to keep sending these people the same email that you send the rest of the customers.
Instead, you should look to re-connect, find out why they stopped buying from you, and offer them something different. I hope this helps to get you thinking about how you can “revive your dead customers”.
5. Not reaching beyond who Facebook limits them to
What I’m about to say may sound a little contentious – but STOP MAKING ASSUMPTIONS!
I know for a fact that 9 in 10 of you optimize your Ads for conversions.
And I absolutely love how Facebook has actually made it so easy to optimize ads these days!
But how do you SCALE your campaign when you already:
- Target non-customers who never visited your website
- Target website visitors who never bought from you
- Target past customers who bought from you relatively recently
- Target past customers who never bought from you again for a long time
- Target fans
If you still run ads to a large group of non-customers without using any precise interest targeting, maybe you have the option of breaking down your audience to find best interests.
But if you have already done that…
Then I want you to know about this.
Imagine every target audience on Facebook looks like this. There’ll be different clusters of people and when you ask Facebook to optimize your ad for conversions, they’ll zoom into a specific cluster of them.
As you can see, unless you have a perfect target audience, there’ll always be clusters that Facebook doesn’t show your ad to. So there’s a limit to the number of customers you can find within each target group.
And for all you know, Facebook’s algorithm may NOT be perfect and hence you’re once again leaving money on the table.
So here’s what I did.
First, I duplicated the same campaign that I used to target non-customers on Facebook.
Next, I switch all of those ad sets to optimize for reach instead of conversions. Doing so stops Facebook from thinking about who to show your ad to and instead, they’ll try to show your ad to as many people as possible. And that’s how I was able to reach people beyond the purple cluster above.
Up till today, we’re breaking even on this campaign. You might ask, “if you’re not making money, then why are you doing this?”
Here’s my answer.
First, you have breached the limits of conventional Facebook advertising strategies. You’ve exhausted every target audience there is and every segmentation possible. Yet, you still need to grow, even if you’re already advertising elsewhere.
Second, the campaign that retargets our website visitors continues to generate 6.73x ROI. This means that among those new people who clicked on our ad but didn’t buy, they were retargeted by another campaign that gets some of them to buy.
Third, if we break even on acquiring new customers, then we’re definitely profitable when they’re happy with our products, share them with their friends, and come back to buy more.
It’s your turn
It’s been a long time since I last wrote an article. But this topic was so compelling that I just had to share.
Unlike marketing info products, eCommerce is a different ball game. And I’m still exploring it. You’re welcome to share your ideas and opinions too!
If you want split test ideas or learn how to come up with ideas, make sure you check out my free 5-part split test video series that’ll give you enough confidence to take the first step and start testing.
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