eCommerce Advertising Strategy Guide From SH1FT (2020)

Sleek eCommerce Advertising Strategy Guide for 2020
A strong eCommerce advertising strategy can make or break your company. This guide can help!

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If you want to advertise your eCommerce brand, it’s important to have a tailored eCommerce advertising strategy. Why? More and more brands are entering the market which means more competition. By not evolving fast enough, you’ll have a hard time being profitable.

How can you evolve fast enough to drive results? Facebook ads, SEO or maybe even email marketing? The answer is a combination of everything. If you want strong results you need to invest time & resources into your eCommerce advertising strategy.

A lot of strong eCommerce brands invest money into paid advertising such as Instagram ads or Facebook ads. Those platforms are extremely powerful if you are able to be profitable because you can increase your budget rapidly.

In short, paid traffic like Facebook ads play an important role in the success of a lot of eCommerce brands. The problem is not using paid ads but rather being profitable. The truth is profitability depends on a lot of factors.

It’s why we created this sleek guide to help brands create a strong eCommerce advertising strategy that will yield results. eCommerce is growing fast and brands need to adapt quickly.

Nowadays, it’s fair to say that you can buy anything you need online. From a piece to repair your computer to lettuce, the world has really adopted eCommerce as a way of life.

With over 2 billion active digital buyers in 2020 (around 25% of the world’s population), it’s fair to say eCommerce is booming.

If you are running an eCommerce brand or consider running one, you are in the right market. People are buying more and more online and it doesn’t seem to slow down at all.

We hope that his guide will help you make a strategy to dominate your market. You might already know that but don’t hesitate to hit get proposal to see if we’re a good fit.

Initial eCommerce set up

There are some pretty important things you need to enable if you run an eCommerce store. For instance, a lot of eCommerce store aren’t even indexed in Google. They miss out a lot of traffic and people searching for their websites might never find them.

It’s also key to have a strong SEO and content marketing strategy. This will enable your brand to be found more often on Google. Getting traffic from search engine is quite powerful because it’s fairly stable.

It can add a strong foundation of revenue for your brand that is slowly growing. While your paid ads fluctuate, your SEO efforts will always be there for you in times of uncertainty.

As you can see, there are a few things we might want to tackle to enable a strong eCommerce advertising strategy.

#1 – Knowing your audience 

Any eCommerce advertising strategy needs to have as much information as possible about the audience in question. In fact, your advertising strategy will be done from the audience and brand perspective.

When we talk about audience, we don’t refer to the age bracket or income level although these can help. We are mostly talking about what’s happening behind the curtains.

  • Why people buy what you sell?
  • Which feature do they love most?
  • Do they encounter problems that you brands solve?
  • Why do some prefer your competitors over you?

By answering these questions, you’ll know better how your advertising should look like. The goal here is to speak directly to your prospect by knowing their motivations.

This phase is often referred to as creating a buyer persona. Hubspot has a great tool to help you create your buyer persona. The reality is that your buyer persona will evolve with time since you’ll have more information about your customers.

Knowing this will be essential to launch ad campaigns that speak to your audience. You might think people buy your product because it’s a low price but they actually buy it because it looks good.

We have two suggestions to help brands find their buyer persona if they feel stuck. Both our strategies leverage data because there’s nothing more reliable. If you have a Facebook page or have installed Google Analytics then you’ll definitely love those strategies.

#1 – Facebook audience insight

You can plug in your Facebook page and see the demographics of your page. There’s a lot of information there, it’s up to you to dig the gold. Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll find:

Facebook Audience Insight
Facebook Audience Insight

#2 – Google Analytics

To do this, you’ll need to have set up correctly your Google Analytics account. We’ve made a great guide on this called “19-Step Google Analytics Audit: Full Performance Enabler“.

From your dashboard, you’ll see tons of relevant information about your users such as their location, language,

Google’s Audience report also gives you information about where your audience comes from, what parts of your site they engage with, and whether they are converting.

eCommerce advertising strategy
Location & language in GA

There is also more information about their age, gender, interests & behaviour if you dig a little deeper into your data. This information can be extremely useful when trying to understand your customers.

#2 – Solid CRO optimization 

At SH1FT, we often see brands completely forgetting that half the battle is on their website. You can bring a million visitors but if your website sucks, you won’t get conversions.

Optimizing a website to generate conversions is called conversion rate optimization. If you want to learn more about it, I suggest this article “What Is CRO And How To Leverage It For Your Business“.

We’ve added a few eCommerce specific recommendations in case you want to take a look right now at your website. Again, these suggestions are the bare minimum and I would recommend you dive deeper into CRO.

  • Multiple payment options

A lot of your customers swear by a certain payment provider. Some won’t buy if Paypal is not accepted and others if you don’t accept Apple Pay. The more payment options you have, the better.

You can use Google’s mobile-friendly test to help you get started on making the right modifications!

  • One CTA focus on pages

Each page of your website should push people towards. thenext step. It’s why we recommend that you only have one button on your product page (Add to cart) or one button on your home page (Shop Now).

  • Mobile optimized

It should be no surprise to you that more and more people shop on their phones. It’s why making sure your website is easy to navigate on mobile is very important.

eCommerce Advertising Strategy x Facebook Ads

With over 2.45 billion active users, it’s fair to say brands should be active on the platform. It’s literally close to 30% of the population’s eyeballs in one place. More and more, customers are buying directly from Facebook ads they see in their feed or elsewhere.

At SH1FT, we’ve helped a lot of eCommerce brands get their initial success. Inside our eCommerce advertising strategy, we always used Facebook ads. In fact, I highly recommend our article with 10 high-growth Facebook ads for eCommerce strategy!

With Facebook ads, you can get amazing reach for any budget size. From $100 to $1,000,000. We’ve also seen way higher conversion rates for eCommerce brands that want to generate a profit compared to similar Google ads budget.

Facebook ads also allow you to reach people internationally with full control. You can choose to target Canada, Europe or even Madagascar if you want.

If you want to know everything on the Facebook ads manager to create amazing ads, I recommend our Facebook ads manager guide!

Back to creating your first, you’ll need to find what your campaign objective, target audience, budget and ad creative. Fear not, we’ll give you a few pointers to get started.

When it comes to Facebook ad objectives, the broad options are the following in order of intent:

  • Awareness
  • Consideration
  • Conversions

As for the Facebook ad creative, you’ll have:

We also recommend brands to set up Facebook ads retargeting as it’s where they’ll see the highest return on investment. You can retarget people who have interacted with your Facebook page, visited your website and even your past customers inside your email list.

We’ve made a super complete guide on Facebook ads retargeting. I recommend you take a look if you are thinking of running retargeting ads as you’ll find more than one super valuable trick.

Here’s how to get started:

  • Make sure you’ve correctly set up your Facebook ads pixel on your website to track conversions. You can verify it with the Facebook pixel helper on Chrome!
  • Find your campaign objective: you can choose between awareness, consideration or conversions. Conversions being the most expensive event to generate.
  • Choose a budget: the possibility to start with $1,000 or even just $100. You can also choose between a daily budget or a lifetime budget with an end date.
  • Select your ad format: there are a few options such as video ads, carousels, collection, instant experience, simple images and so on.
  • Targeting: We recommend targeting people most likely to be interested in what you sell while keeping demographics broad enough. You’ll also eventually be able to set up your retargeting campaign or use what we call lookalike audiences.

With all this information, head over to the Facebook ads manager. Go inside the ads manager, click on create and you’ll be able to enter all the information you carefully chose above.

Don’t worry the options will still be there for you to choose from. We just prefer to decide to make the Facebook ad creation process faster. Trust me, this part of your eCommerce advertising strategy is crucial!

eCommerce Advertising Strategy
Facebook ads optimization

After your ads have been created, it’s just the beginning. The hard work is to analyze your results & optimize them. Launching your ad is the tip of the iceberg but a successful campaign demands a lot of work.

Solid Facebook Ads Practices x eCommerce

  • Create your own Facebook ad creative. It can be images, graphic design, video editing or even motion design.
  • Test all the ideas you have but listen to data. If you see that images are working better for your brand, keep going that route.
  • Always send your traffic to a specific product to shorten the sales cycle
  • Make sure you filter the comments of your page to keep them positive
  • Set up Facebook ads pixel as soon as you can to start gathering audiences for your retargeting.
  • Take inspiration from what other brands are doing with their Facebook ads.

While running your own ads might seem like a bargain, it might not be. If you are starting to spend close to $50,000 per month, I recommend reaching out to an agency like SH1FT Facebook ads agency.

While it’s not always the case, we could take your return from Facebook ads from $100,000 to $125,000 with just a few simple tweaks. By the way, if you are wondering if you should use Google ads or Facebook ads for your eCommerce, read our article. You’ll wonder no more!

eCommerce Advertising x Instagram Ads

Instagram is an amazing platform for eCommerce brands because of the visual aspect and the fast-growing popularity of the platform. It’s also interesting to note that a lot of Instagram users choose to buy products they saw directly on the platform. With the new arrival of the Instagram shop, it’s now super easy for customers to make purchases.

Instagram has 1 billion monthly active users which means they have a lot of eyeballs for eCommerce brands to win. With all these users, it’s a no brainer that your brand needs to be active on the platform.

One thing to keep in mind with Instagram is that you can’t add links everywhere except on your dark posts or story ads. The only way you might be able to do it is either one link in your Instagram bio or installing Instagram shopping. Let’s dive into IG shopping.

Instagram shopping x eCommerce

Instagram shopping is quite awesome for eCommerce brands who want to make more sales. Why? It makes the sales cycle frictionless. You can directly tag your products inside of your pictures to let customers click on them.

Your customers can then buy directly on the platform. Now, no every brand does it because there’s a small processing fee but for most, it’s really worth it. The conversion rates are way higher, this is what we’ve experienced with SH1FT.

Instagram shopping
Instagram Shopping

As you can see, when your customers like a style, it’s pretty awesome to be able to take a look at your product directly. If they want it, they can buy it in a matter of a few minutes without any headaches. By the way, the tags won’t show up until the customer clicks on the image.

How do you create Instagram ads?

You can create your Instagram ads for eCommerce in two ways. Either you do it from Instagram directly or you do it from the Facebook ads manager as shown above in the Facebook ads section. Just make sure you have correctly set up your Instagram business profile.

At SH1FT, we run all our Instagram ads from the Facebook ads manager because there are way more options to deliver strong results to our clients. We still think running Instagram promotions isn’t a bad strategy, it all depends on the time you have and your goal.

Instagram ad example
Instagram Ad Example

Let’s dive into the different Instagram ad creatives options that will show up for your brand.

Photo adsVery simple boost of your Instagram post on your profile. It appears in the feeds of your followers, although you can expand the targeting.
IG story adsA 15-second clip of an image or a video that appears at the top of the user’s feed.
Sponsored adsThese are standard ads: an image, a CTA button below and the text from your Instagram ad copy.
Carousel adsYou can allow people to swipe left to see more images or videos. You can have a CTA and your ad copy appearing as the same for all images.
IGTVThese are video ads that can last up to 60 minutes. It’s a great alternative to Youtube ads if your brand was running some.
IG video adsNormal video ads that can be awesome for your eCommerce advertising strategy!
Instagram ad formats

Refreshing Instagram Ads Practices x eCommerce

  • IG is about aesthetic images or videos, so make sure you invest enough resources to make your content stand out.
  • Find your Instagram ads objective before you launch your campaign: new leads, new customers or more visibility?
  • Leverage hashtags inside your IG posts to reach even more people and get more engagement, but don’t add too many hashtags.
  • Set up IG shopping if possible to bring even more sales for your eCommerce store

If you need some amazing Instagram ad examples, we’ve gathered some of the top Instagram ads we found since the inception of our agency. Take a look here!

eCommerce Advertising x Google Ads

Google Ads were the king of paid advertising for a long time before Facebook & Instagram ever where. Now, it’s not to say it’s a better place for brands to advertise, but it’s definitely something to consider.

If you run an eCommerce business, Google is a platform you need to be on. Why? With 2 trillion searches per year, it’s fair to say that there are a lot of potential buyers waiting for the appearance of your brand.

Of course, the platform doesn’t only come with advantages. Google ads are very competitive, yet traffic is highly qualified. In the end, to be part of your eCommerce advertising strategy, you need to find a way to make Google help you reach your goal.

What are the advantages of Google Ads for eCommerce?

At first, Google Ads allow you to reach tons of people by targeting them inside the search, display, google shopping as well as Gmail. If your brand wants visibility, it’s a great place to be.

Second, you can target people very precisely based on their search query. For instance, you can target people who search sport leggings if you sell leggings. The intent people have when searching this is a pretty high buying signal which brings me to my third point.

The traffic you receive will be of very high quality. The conversion rate on Google ads is fairly high since people already show intent by searching on Google. In general, Google Display ads have a way lower conversion rate than search.

What are the disadvantages of Google Ads for eCommerce?

I must say that the Google Ads interface is way less intuitive than Facebook & Instagram. The learning curve is a bit harder, but definitely possible. Our team of Google Ads expert at SH1FT has mastered the dashboard throughout the year but it wasn’t easy.

Second, budgeting on Google is a tad more complicated. Since they work with bids only, you can often spend more than what you told Google. You could enter that you want to spend $100 a day and you’ll see $140 spent.

Finally, finding the right keywords for your brand might be a very tedious process. There can be a lot of trial and error and budget lost rapidly. It’s why working with a strong Google Ads agency can really save you a lot of time.

In our opinion at SH1FT, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages by far. We’ve seen a lot of our clients increase their revenue rapidly just by leveraging Google Shopping Ads for instance. Let’s dive into the different type of Google Ads so you can know what your brand should start with.

What are Google Search Ads?

The Google Search Ads are some of the most popular Google Ads on the market. They show up right below the search bar after you’ve made a search on Google. For instance, if you search “legging men”, then you’ll see the following.

eCommerce advertising strategy Google Search
Google Search results

The Ad is the second result just below the images. As you’ve probably guessed it, popularity means a lot of brands are competing for these spots. It’s why they are quite expensive for brands. If you are able to convert those website visitors quite well, then you should aim for these spots.

What are Google Display Ads?

Google Display ads are quite different from Google Search Ads. They are the Audience Network of Google if you catch my Facebook ads reference. These ads appear inside Google’s Display network as banner or sidebar ads.

Google Display Ads
Google Display Ad

These Google ads are quite awesome for a strong eCommerce advertising strategy if you want to get cheaper visibility. Their conversion rate is significantly smaller since people show less intent when seeing those ads.

At SH1FT, we recommend using those as retargeting ads because they are amazing at giving you a lot of reach. People who have visited your website already show more intent which is where those ads start to make sense.

What are Google Shopping Ads?

Google Shopping Ads are SH1FT’s favourite eCommerce ads to generate sales. They generate traffic and visibility but above all they bring sales. These ads appear as images right below the search results above the Google Search ads. They can also sometimes appear on the right hand-side.

In these ads, you can see directly the rating, the brand’s name, product name, image and price. Here’s how it looks like:

Google Shopping Ads
Google Shopping Ads

As mentioned above, we love these ads for eCommerce because they bring tangible results. If you are looking to add some fuel to your fire then Google Shopping Ads can deliver amazingly.

Solid Google Ads practices x eCommerce

As mentioned above, Google Ads are quite competitive, but here’s our best advice at SH1FT to deliver results if you decide to do it yourself.

The truth is you’ll always benefit more from Google Ads if you set up retargeting early. Since most of your traffic won’t convert, you should get way more sales with retargeting. We also recommend using Google Display Ads for retargeting although Google Shopping Ads are also quite awesome.

Second, we recommend listening to Google’s recommendations. Google keeps on giving recommendations to improve the results of your ads. We recommend you take the time to read them and see if they fit your brand’s goals.

Third, you should always start your campaigns with automatic bidding if you haven’t run Google ads before. Manual bidding can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Fourth, make sure you set up your Google Analytics correctly. This way you’ll be able to track your results better. Finally, don’t forget to set up your conversion tracking to better optimize your Google Ads.

Facebook ads vs Google ads ⚔️

That is one question that clearly depends on your situation. For instance, maybe you tried Facebook ads for 3 years with zero success but never tried Google ads. In this section, I’ll just try to give you the broad strokes to help you make a better decision for your brand.

If you have a product well-known to people, a product being searched on Google, then Google ads might be interesting to try. For instance, if you sell leggings well people search that.

On the other hand, if you sell a new invention such as a nano isometric t-shirt, then people won’t search that. It’s where Facebook ads might be extremely beneficial to your eCommerce brand.

Apart from that, we generally see a longer learning curve for Google ads before we see great results. Facebook ads give feedback to your eCommerce brand quite rapidly. It allows you to adapt quickly to a small budget.

At SH1FT, we always recommend brands that have a budget of less than $5,000 to focus on Facebook ads initially. Eventually, they should run ads on Google & Facebook. This way you can manage your budget to spend where you get the best return at all times.

The big SH1FT in eCommerce

Let’s just say that a complete eCommerce advertising strategy is never simple. We recommend making tests and being strategic because it’s a very important part of your business.

As a brand, you probably received feedback from people on a certain platform. Maybe people say they found you on Google or Facebook often. We always recommend listening to your past experience when making a decision.

Apart from advertising, there are tons of other strategies such as email marketing & conversion rate optimization that can have a big impact on your results.

At SH1FT, we like working on everything we can to help our client gain results as fast as possible. We always work in terms of priority rather than obsessing over one thing. It’s our little secret to scalability!

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