New Guide: Facebook Ads for Ecommerce Entrepreneurs
Most people who use the Facebook aren’t “searching” for a product that will add more value to their lives; they’re searching for that next funny or emotional status update, a trending piece of news or information, or even just a simple distraction. For you, as an ecommerce store owner, this is your ultimate opportunity.
The power of Facebook ads allows you to evoke the same emotion and curiosity that people crave when they log-in on their computer or phone—except you'll be able to introduce who you are, and the value you can bring to their lives. In this guide, I'll teach everything you need to know in order to successfully—and profitably—use Facebook Ads for your ecommerce business.
Chapter 1: Why Facebook Ads for Your Ecommerce Business — Understand the core value of Facebook Advertising and why it's one of the best ways to get your business moving.
Imagine a life where you casually check your Facebook reports once a week with your Friday morning coffee. You smile at the positive returns and additional profits they’ve earned for your business during the week, and before you even finish your coffee you’ve made the necessary adjustments to your advertising budget, campaigns, and strategy. You put your coffee down, close your ads manager, and move onto more important tasks: business development, nailing out new partnerships, and managing the operations and many moving parts of your ecommerce business.
This guide’s purpose is to provide that lifestyle to you.
Even if you’ve never touched a Facebook ad before, or if you’ve tried your hand and put it on the shelf for when you had “more time,” this guide will walk you step-by-step through the tools and systems you need to have a customized and automated Facebook Ads machine fueling your ecommerce business.
It first begins with an understanding of why Facebook and ecommerce are so compatible, progresses into the technical set-up and implementation, and ends with the strategy and funnels necessary to drive long term sales.
Facebook’s Unique Value Proposition
Facebook is a place where we go to connect with family and friends, and - as much as we’d like to say otherwise - to have a fun distraction. Unlike so many other ad platforms (like AdWords), Facebook is not about demand fulfillment, but instead, about demand generation.
On Facebook, businesses generate curiosity, interest, and - eventually - sales of their product. Most people on the app aren’t “searching” for a product that will add more value to their lives; they’re searching for that next funny or emotional status update.
For you, as an ecommerce store owner, Facebook is your theatre to display your product to the world. It’s an opportunity to showcase the additional value you can bring to someone’s life. It’s a place where you can reconnect with previous customers and a venue where you can start new relationships with people who would have otherwise never even seen your business.
Facebook and Ecommerce: Skyrocketing Growth
In 2015, retail ecommerce sales worldwide amounted to 1.55 trillion US dollars and are projected to grow to 3.4 trillion US dollars by 2019.
In the USA alone, according to the US Census, ecommerce has grown 12% in just Q2 of 2016 alone, and over 24% in the last 2 years. In other words: it shows no signs of slowing down.
Combine that with Facebook’s Q3 2016 results: 1.79 billion monthly active users, and almost 1.2 billion daily active users, and you can begin to see the simultaneous trend of explosive growth.
There’s more people on Facebook than there were alive 100 years ago (source: Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook profile).
So while the growth of both ecommerce and Facebook is undeniable, the real question is this: how can you connect these two platforms together and grow your business?
In this following chapters, you’ll find the answer to that question.
Chapter 2: Setting Up Your Facebook Advertising Account — Facebook Business Manager is your central to your advertising efforts. Learn how to set it up in 10 minutes.
Before we dive into ad types, strategies and funnels, we need to first cover the absolute essentials: setting up your account. Many of those who give up on their Facebook Advertising efforts do so because they setup their foundations incorrectly or become too overwhelmed by Facebook’s myriad of options. So first things first...
What is Business Manager, and Why Do I Need It?
Simply put: Business Manager is a management system for your ad accounts and ad permissions.
If you plan to ever have more than one ad account (in other words, more than one store, brand, or business) or if you will have a team of people that may need access to your ad account/s at some point, then create a Business Manager account. I usually suggest that everyone go ahead and create one for themselves before they get started with Facebook Advertising to remove any pain points down the road.
The only downside to Business Manager is that once you switch to it, there is no turning back. You’ll no longer be able to access your ad account from your personal Facebook page anymore. However, you can easily log into your Business Manager at any point here to manage your Pages and Ads from here: https://business.facebook.com/.
Regardless of the switch, even if you continue to use your personal ad account, you’ll still see the same two options of ad management and creation: Ads Manager and Power Editor.
Ads Manager and Power Editor
Ads Manager and Power Editor are two sides of the same coin; they are Facebook’s ad creation platforms. They’ve become so similar over the past year that it almost seems that they’ll fuse into one another at some point. Nonetheless, to keep it clear, you can use either of these platforms to accomplish your advertising goals.
Starting out, if you’re going to use the default Facebook system, I’d suggest using Ads Manager as it is more user friendly than Power Editor. Once you’ve created a few campaigns with it, feel free to move onto Power Editor to see if you prefer it.
Power Editor has three distinct advantages:
Campaign Import - For people with multiple ecommerce stores, it allows you to import multiple campaigns (i.e. hundreds of ads).
New features are always released in Power Editor first - This may give you a competitive advantage for any new ad types or targeting options.
Manually saving a draft - In Ads Manager, you can’t choose to “Save as a Draft”. Facebook will auto-save this for you, but I’ve had issues in the past where this “auto-saved” draft was nowhere to be found.
Occasionally these platforms can become overwhelming with information and technicality (a huge reason reason why we created AdEspresso), and reporting can be its own hassle-- but we’ll dive more into solutions later in the guide.
In the meantime, let’s move on to what is arguably the most potential Facebook caveat of all: The Facebook Pixel.
Chapter 3: The Facebook Pixel — Everything you need to know about integrating Facebook with your business.
The Facebook Pixel is a snippet of code you place on your store that allows you to track and target visitors to your shop’s website. It allows you to create different audiences based on specific actions of your site’s visitors. Want an audience of all those who initiated the checkout, but didn’t finish? No problem. How about a very targeted audience of those who’ve visited your site multiple times in the last few days? Yup, you’ve got it. I’ll dive more into audiences in Chapters 4 and Chapters 5, but for now, let’s do the essential thing: install it.
How to Install Your Facebook Pixel
Go to your Facebook Pixel Tab in Ads Manager.
Important Note: There can only be ONE Pixel per Ad Account! This is new.
Click Create a Pixel (if you already have a Pixel, you won’t see the “Create a Pixel” button).
Enter a name for your pixel. Since there’s only one pixel per ad account, choose a name that represents your business.
Make sure you’ve checked the box to accept the terms.
Your Facebook Pixel can track multiple events with slight modifications of its code (more on that in a second).
This is where things can get a bit tricky. There’s tiny snippets of code you add to your “base” Pixel code to track specific actions.
You’ll want this extra bit of code to determine when people do certain things like initiate their check out, view a few products, or purchase.
You’ll want to add the Pixel to all pages you want to track with these slight variations called “Standard Events” where necessary.
There are 9 types of Standard Events:
But before you cringe with the thought of coding, you’re in luck.
You’ll want the base Pixel code on every page of your site, along with those necessary Standard Events on certain pages. There’s no need to panic though: I’m going to list the integration tools that mean never seeing a line of code with Facebook Ads again.
Installing the Facebook Pixel with Your Shopify Website
Shopify natively supports the Facebook Pixel along with 6 of its 9 Standard Events: ViewContent, AddToCart, InitiateCheckout, AddPaymentInfo, Purchase, and Search.
Just go to your Admin Dashboard -> (1) Settings -> (2) Online Store -> (3) Preferences
You’ll see Facebook Pixel section, and you can enter your Facebook Pixel ID.
For more in-depth instructions, check out the full tutorial here.
It really can’t get much easier than that, and it’s a huge reason why Shopify is one of the preferred ecommerce platforms.
Installing the Facebook Pixel with WordPress
This plugin, PixelYourSite, allows you an easy integration like Shopify. You just install the plug-in, input your Facebook Pixel ID, and follow the commands that the pixel plug-in provides you.
It’s a paid plug-in, but don’t fret: AdEspresso is releasing a free pixel plugin very soon that can do what it can with the Facebook Pixel - and a whole lot more! Sign up for our newsletter to get first-in on the launch.
Installing the Facebook Pixel Manually
You’re best bet here is to hire a developer, as you’ll need place the Pixel code and it’s “Standard Event” variations between the <head> and </head> tag of each page of your website while modifying the “Standard Event” depending on which page it is (Checkout page, Purchase completed page, Home page, etc.). This can be a lot of work for anyone who isn’t familiar with coding.
How to Check if the Facebook Pixel is Working
If you want to check to make sure your Facebook Pixel is working, download the free Google Chrome Extension, Pixel Helper.
What About the “Facebook” Shopify Shop?
If you don’t have a website and are selling only on your Facebook page, you have a few limitations: you can ONLY sell physical products, Shopify payments must be used, and it must be in the same currency as the user (country-specific).
For ways of utilizing the Facebook Shopify Integration, check Chapter 7 on Dynamic Ads.
By this point, you’re probably aching to get into some ad types and creativity, so let’s dive into your options. You’re probably excited to see all the visual media and ad types you can use, but hold out on creating them just yet. After reading about the ad types, make sure you read Chapter 5 and Chapter 6 to ensure you have your targeting down.
Chapter 4: Facebook Ad Types for Your Ecommerce Store — Discover all the different types of Facebook ads and how you can customize them to fit your business.
In this chapter, we’re going to cover the main ad types that you can use for your ecommerce store. While the types of Facebook ads can get overwhelming, concentrate on these 8 types for your ecommerce store.
Multi-Product Ads (Carousel Ads)
Dynamic Ads (formerly Dynamic Product Ads)
To see different ad and placement types, make sure to check out the Facebook Ad Gallery.
Should You “Boost” Your Posts?
Most ecommerce owners first forays into advertising involves boosting an existing post. This is the most simple type of ad: you advertise an existing organic post on your Facebook Page.
While it might seem initially effective, there’s some issues with boosting posts in Facebook’s default system:
You have to “manually” hit Boost - taking up time.
You can’t control the optimization of the ad. All your budget might go into “engagement” where people just hit “Like” without going over to your post, making your Boost a waste of money
You have very limited targeting abilities: you can only choose demographic data to target and interests.
Note, boosting posts has been quite interesting for Facebook Live Video. You can’t boost it when live, but after it is recorded/uploaded, you can then boost it.
When using Facebook’s in-house system to Boost, my recommendation is to look at the “Boost” as a tool for engagement with your existing Page Fans.
This works for two reasons: a) it’s your existing audience, and it’s a way of reminding them you are still here (for upsells) and b) you can test to see which type of content your audience audience likes the most. Such engagement can be used as a method of market research to fuel more advanced advertising campaigns later on.
If you find the limited targeting - along with the manual button pushing - time consuming, our software enables automated “Boosts." This means you can set more advanced targeting (Chapters 5 and Chapters 6), choose what types of posts get an automatic Boost, and relax. Simply check on it once a week to make sure it’s all still running smoothly.
Domain Ads (Clicks to Website)
This will be either a Desktop or Right-Column ad. These are also known as “Domain Ads” or “Page Post Link Ads,” but all you need to know is that it’s a single image ad, with an optional text description above, and a link description below that links to your website.
This is the most used ad format on Facebook, and for good reason: it works. With your Facebook Pixel installed correctly on your site, every visitor that clicks can be logged and retargeted on Facebook later.
Previously, there was a strict rule that no more than 20% of your image could contain text. While this rule is no longer official, you may still be penalized (by restriction of your reach) should you fill it up with too much text. Here’s an example email I received from Facebook from an almost sneaky inclusion of too much text:
Multi-Product Ads (Carousel Ads)
Multi-Product Ads were rolled out in 2015, and there’s one thing that’s clear: it’s great to see which product your prospective customers are most interested in.
Facebook can automatically optimize your ad to have your “most clicked on” image appear first, thus increasing the likelihood of Facebook users visiting your site after seeing it.
By giving your prospects a wide range of products, there’s also a higher likelihood of them visiting and finding a product that meets their needs.
Offer Ads are a quick and useful tool to target those familiar with your brand like Page Fans and previous website visitors.
While similar in form to Standard Ads, instead of just sending people to your website, an offer ad gives you two option for those that click to receive:
a discount code with an expiration date (online)
a barcode that they can use if you have a pop up shop for your otherwise online-only store (in-store)
In the above example, Wool & Prince sent out a Facebook Ad offer for 1) a special event (Cyber Monday) and 2) a coupon code to redeem only on that day.
The sense of urgency combined with the discount is what makes “offer” ads so unique for flash or short-term sales.
View this video at: https://www.facebook.com/originalgrain/videos/1099367370126469/
Video Ads are great for both brand awareness and retargeting. Of those that watch your video, you can actually retarget them with further ads based on the duration of the video they watched. We’ll get more into that in Chapter 6.
It might seem intimidating, but even an ultra basic video can net you results. For more on how you can create your own video ads - even on a budget- read our full guide to Facebook Video Ads.
Lead Ads allow you to collect information from the user without them having to leave Facebook. Facebook will also automatically fill in all the information it can, including a user’s name, email address, or phone number, so the user doesn’t have to.
It looks like a regular Standard Ad, except when you click on it.
As soon as “Submit” is hit, you now have a lead prospect. Within Facebook, you’ll have to download this manually and then upload it to your CRM. But with lead ads sync, you can have it so that this automatically syncs with your CRM of choice and follows up immediately with an email to their inbox.
To create a Lead Ad, simply choose the “Lead Generation” option as your objective in Ads Manager or Power Editor.
Canvas is an interactive ad. If you’ve been playing around with Facebook’s “3D Images,” you’ll be touching on the arena that Facebook is pursuing here.
To see a video example (as it’s an interactive ad) check this out:
Another great example can be found here.
To create a Canvas, you’ll need to go to the Page the Canvas was created for.
To clarify, creating the Canvas itself is not in Ads Manager.
Click Publishing Tools on your Page.
Create your Canvas.
Once the Canvas is created, you’ll be given a unique link. You’ll then copy this link and then go into your Ads Manager.
Once in Ads Manager:
Create or edit Clicks to Website or Website Conversions as the objective for your campaign.
In the “Enter URL to promote field,” paste the Canvas URL.
Congrats, you have a Canvas ad.
If you’re having trouble creating one, make sure to check out our full beginner’s guide to Canvas ads on AdEspresso’s website.
Facebook’s Dynamic Product Ads provide a way to show single or multi-product ads to people who have visited your website. Based on the visitor’s behavior, you can serve different ads to different groups of people based on what they’re interested in.
Viewed Content: After customers visit a product page on your website, you can then show them the same product through a Facebook ad.
Add to Cart: Cart abandonment happens all too often in ecommerce. Facebook ads can be used to show shoppers products they have added to their cart but haven’t yet purchased. This ad can provide the final step towards the sale.
Product Purchase: Selling doesn’t stop after the first sale. Once the customer has purchased, serve ads for related products, new arrivals and anything else that might fit their tastes.
Dynamic Ads are solely based on the data collected from your website, making them a powerful way to connect with shoppers, personalizing the experience with products they actually want to see.
With a more personalized experience for your customer, you’re increasing chances of conversion as well as saving yourself hundreds of hours of ad setup.
If you’ve ever seen a company apply a “with” tag, then you’ve witnessed Branded Content (or Sponsored Mentions) in action. Essentially this is teaming-up with another ecommerce brand or an “influencer” with complementary products.
To do create a sponsored mentions ad, you’ll go to your Page (not your Ads Manager), and look for the handshake:
A major benefit of this ad type is that both you and the brand you are teaming up with can see the results of the advertising effort.
For more on Facebook’s policy on this type of content, learn more here.
Now with all the ad types in hand, let’s help choose who to target - and how to do it effectively.
Chapter 5: Targeting New Audiences — Get in front of the right people at the right time with an offer that's relevant to them. Here's how.
Targeting New Audiences
Our coaching and campaign review team at AdEspresso commonly gives this analogy to ecommerce advertisers who are just starting out:
When you meet somebody you like at a bar, do you ask them to marry you straight away? No. You have a drink with them first, and if it seems to be going well, you start dating.
We aren’t dating strategists, but this analogy hits the right marks for ecommerce. Targeting a completely new audience and hoping for an immediate sale can leave you feeling let down, rejected, and left with the bill. Sometimes it works, but it’s often a shot in the dark.
For higher end products, it’s an even more unrealistic expectation. The more investment the customer needs to make, the more “touch-points” you’ll need in the relationship. Luckily, Facebook’s retargeting options allow you to keep the relationship going through different mediums. Of course, before you begin, you’ll need to approach someone completely new. That’s what we’ll focus on in this chapter.
Should You Target Broad or Specific New Audiences?
Broad: Also known as “or” targeting, it will target any of the characteristics you select of the audience. So if you want a sports fan to buy your product, your selection would be “baseball” or “football” or “basketball.” The audience grows larger with the more interests you add.
Specific: Also known as “and” targeting. In the “Detailed Targeting” section of your Ad Sets, simply choose “Narrow Targeting” and “Narrow Further” to add further parameters. The audience grows smaller with the more interests you add.
We suggest a minimum audience size of 10,000 people or more.
If you plan on A/B testing (also known as split testing) to see what image or value proposition resonates most, we recommended an audience of 100,000 or more.
In the picture above, you can see that the audience is too narrow. It comes in at under 1000 people total, meaning we’ll tear through our ad budget in a mere day or two.
Interests allow you to target people specifically interested in a subject (or Facebook page) related to your product. For example, you could target people interested in your competitors or your broader market segment, or magazines and blogs covering your market.
Precise Interests: Precise Interest Targeting lets you target your audience based on their profile information. This includes their likes and interests, apps they use, Pages they’ve Liked, and more (you can even target your competitors’ fans!). Start typing an interest and a list of options will appear. You can also click “browse” to see some broad categories suggested by Facebook. Once you’ve added some interests, Facebook will also recommend similar ones. Adding more than one interest will target people with at least one of them so you’ll make your reach broader.
With AdEspresso, we show you the breakdown by interest if you are using “or” targeting (targeting all interests, not a matching combination).
Unlike interest targeting, behaviors allow you to target people by purchase history, intent, and more. This data is gathered from Facebook’s analysis of many factors combined with external data sets. As an example, you can target people currently traveling or planning their next trip, which is priceless if you’re in the travel equipment/backpack market. Check them out and see if they can work for your business.
You can even target people who have made payments using Facebook in the last 90 days, and are therefore more likely to buy from your Facebook Shop.
For more, read our blog post that goes into much higher detail on behavior targeting.
Demographic and Location-Based Targeting
The first set of options to refine your audience is pretty straight forward: Basic demographic information.
Location: From country to zip code, both big brands and local shops can target their potential customers.
Age: Do you want to appeal to teenagers, young families, or retired people? You have the flexibility to choose any age range.
Gender: Target specific genders. Now that Facebook offers over 50 gender options, this is much more useful for some businesses than other ad platforms.
Facebook recently improved these options, giving you much more granularity over who will see your ads. Clicking on the “More Demographics” button will offer you a wide range of options for every need.
Just click one of the targeting topics in the menu and you’ll be able to refine your audience based on many options. As an example, you’ll be able to target people by their political views, life events, job titles, ethnicity, and so on.
When using these advanced options, always keep in mind that some of them only apply to United States citizens and may not work outside of the country.
Whether it’s country, city, or state, always think about the location. The easiest way to throw money away is to offer your product with free shipping without location targeting.
Chapter 6: Retargeting and Custom Audiences — Serve relevant ads to the right audiences based on activity and customer profiles.
Retargeting and Custom Audiences
Retargeting is the ability to target those that have interacted with your business before with ads.
You can target the following people if you’ve been following this guide:
Those that gave you their email address before
Those that visited your website
Those that use your app
Those that engaged with your Facebook posts or ads
The groups above will be your “custom” audiences and they are critical to your return-on-investment with Facebook Ads.
Custom audiences are Facebook's way of sorting your online store visitors so that you can serve highly tailored ads to them.
You can also make custom audiences even more narrow by using exclusions (the “and” targeting with Chapter 4’s suggestions, or “excluding” certain groups of people/other custom audiences). The more specific you get, the more effective your campaign will be.
There’s so much to say on Custom Audiences, our team even wrote a 50-page Facebook custom audiences guide, but here are the basics.
1. Customer List
Customer data such as emails and addresses are great ways to start building your custom audience. As you collect the data in your online store, you can upload the information to Facebook so that Facebook recognizes when these shoppers use the social network. As long as they’re using the same contact information on both platforms, you’ll be able to serve highly targeted ads. Remember though, you need permission to manage their data. Don’t upload random lists of addresses.
2. Website Traffic
2. Website Traffic
It’s here that you can capitalize on all the new traffic you brought in by using the techniques in Chapter 5.
You can also consider timing of a potential customer’s visits. You can advertise to anyone who visited in the past 180 days (at a maximum) - or you can be more selective and only show ads to visitors from the past 30 days, 14 days, 7 days, etc. It’s up to you!
If you feel like diving really into it, you can even target people who visit only certain pages:
Or those who visited a certain number of times within a set time frame:
And even the amount of time someone has spent on your website.
3. App Activity
For merchants who have an app, you can create a Custom Audience based on people who have used your app. For merchants using Shopify’s SDK, this is huge!
For example, you can target people who previously used your app, but have not come back to your app within the last month. Or you can target people who have added an item to their cart on your app, but never went on to purchase it.
After you register your app with Facebook, you'll need to set up app events for iOS or for Android to reach users taking specific actions (called “events”) within your app. Your app will send “events” via Facebook's SDK.
There are a multitude of variations (14 events in total), but here are some common app activity audiences ecommerce apps are using:
Recently Opened your App
Added an Item to their Cart
Recently Completed a Purchase
Completed Large Purchases
You can also combine actions/events taken (or not taken) for some very detailed app activity custom audiences.
This is relatively new (circa September 2016), and it’s for people who engage with your Facebook page posts or ads. Currently (as of November 2016), you can’t target those who Like, Comment, or Share...but we know how fast Facebook moves, so we do expect this to change soon!
Here are some ways you can target based on engagement:
Lead Ads Engagement - if they opened your Lead Ad, but didn’t complete it.
Video Views Engagement - you can target those who watched your video ad based on different durations.
Canvas Engagement - you can target people who opened or clicked links in your canvas ads.
On top of all this, and to tie together Chapters 5 and Chapters 6, you can create new audiences based on all the custom audiences above called “Lookalike Audiences.”
While standard custom audiences are great for re-engaging people who already had an interaction with you, lookalike audiences allow you to find hundred of thousands of users that don’t know you yet, but are very likely to become your customers.
It’s not hard to guess how powerful this feature can be. For example, you could create a Custom Audience with 10,000 of your customers, and get a Lookalike Audience of 2,000,000 people who are very similar to your customers and ready to be targeted with advertising.
The smallest lookalike audience, by default, is 1.9 million. You can create a lookalike audience of:
Website Custom Audiences
Engagement (Video, App, Sharing, etc.)
The minimum number of people you need to create a Lookalike Audience is 100. You’ll often see that Lookalike Audiences far outperform your interests targeting.
Chapter 7: Dynamic Ads - Retargeting on Auto-Pilot — As visitors leave your online store, continue showing them the products they were previously browsing.
Dynamic Ads - Retargeting on Auto-Pilot
While we initially touched on Dynamic Ads in Chapter 4, setting them up takes much more work than other ad types. To help you create your first set of Dynamic Ads, we’ll go through it step-by-step in this chapter.
Upload Your Product Catalog to Facebook
To set up your first Dynamic Ad, you’ll need to upload your online store’s product catalog to Facebook.
A product catalog is a data file that lists all of the items from your store that you would like to display in your Facebook ads.