When I first launched my online store, I generated a lot of sales early on by advertising with Google Adwords. And even today, orders from Google Adwords still represents a significant chunk of our monthly revenues.
But here’s the thing about Google Adwords or any “query based” advertising platform. While your ads can be extremely profitable, the amount of customers you can possibly reach is limited by the number of searches for your targeted keywords.
And for the past several years, we have more or less maxxed out our Adwords reach. Even if we were to increase our budget, our Adwords traffic would not increase.
My First Foray Into Facebook Advertising
Then I discovered Facebook. Facebook makes me salivate because they can reach over a billion people worldwide and the average user spends 40 minutes and checks their Facebook page over 14 times a day. That’s crazy!
As soon as I heard about these stats, I immediately signed up for Facebook ads, designed my first creative and pointed it at my top selling products with a $20/day budget.
Here’s what my first creative looked like (You can click the image below to see the landing page)
Facebook allows you to get very specific with your audience so for this ad, I targeted recently engaged women who lived in our highest performing states in terms of sales. And guess how it performed?
It did horribly! I blew through two hundred bucks in the first 2 weeks without a single sale!
The ad was getting lots of clicks but apparently no one wanted to buy anything and I knew something was grossly wrong.
Now to put things into perspective, it only took a few days before I made my first sale using Google and many of our Adwords ads were profitable almost immediately.
In fact, it was only after doing some further research did I realize that Facebook ads require a completely different approach.
The Difference Between Query And Content Based Advertising
In order to run a Facebook ad properly, you first have to understand the main difference between how a Facebook ad works versus how a Google Adwords search ad works.
When someone does a search on Google, they are looking for something very specific. As a result when they click on your ad, there is a very specific context for their actions.
- Mary does a search for wedding handkerchiefs
- Mary finds a search ad for a handkerchief store
- Mary clicks on the ad and finds a listing of handkerchiefs
- Mary makes a purchase
Now contrast that with Mary’s experience when she’s surfing on Facebook and you’ll see an immediate difference
- Mary goes on Facebook to see what her friends are up to. She’s getting married in a year but hasn’t started wedding planning yet.
- Mary sees a Facebook ad for wedding handkerchiefs and she thinks they look cute
- Mary clicks on the ad and finds a listing of products
- Mary thinks to herself “These look great” and then leaves the store because she’s not ready to buy.
- Mary clicks back to Facebook. Game over!
The primary difference between running Facebook ads and Google search based ads is that with Google, your customer has search based intent.
However when they click on a Facebook ad, they may have no intention of buying anything at all.
With a Facebook ad, the user is only interested in consuming content and understanding this difference is the key to your success with the Facebook ads platform.
My Second Try – Creating A Content Based Landing Page
Once I understood this principle, I immediately changed up my Facebook ad campaign.
First off instead of pointing my ad at a listing of products, I wrote up a super girly post on weddings and made that the landing page for the ad:)
Here’s an excerpt of that post. (Note: The real article is over 1000 words long but you get the gist)
Here are a few things that I want to point out.
- The landing page is a piece of interesting content that a bride to be would genuinely be interested in reading
- Instead of overtly listing my products for sale, I link to specific products that I sell within the content
- My landing page reads like a story and not an advertisement
I let this ad run for a week and finally got my first sale but it ended up costing me almost 3X what the sale was worth.
People were simply not clicking on the links to my store.
So I changed things up a bit by adding “click to shop” buttons on the images as shown below.
Adding calls to action on my store links improved the sales slightly but the ads were still not profitable.
My Third Try – Gathering Email Addresses
Do you remember my earlier example of how Mary uses Facebook?
Mary was definitely interested in my wedding handkerchiefs which made her click on the ad but she was simply not ready to buy.
Now do you think that she’ll remember to come back to my shop 6 months later when she’s finally ready to buy her wedding favors? Probably not!
The key question is how can I get Mary to come back to my store when she’s finally ready to make a purchase?
The solution is to get Mary on my email list and create an email sales funnel.
Once I have Mary on my email list, I can contact her whenever I want and by keeping her engaged with my content, I can send her regular reminders to come back and check out my shop.
Now Mary might not be interested in buying the next day, the next week or even the next month but I can sure as hell make sure that she’s pleasantly reminded of our online store when she’s ready.
With this strategy in mind, I implemented 3 additional features to my landing page.
First off, I had my wife create a lead magnet. In return for a customer’s email address, we offered up a free ebook of arts and crafts tutorials. Inside this book was a variety of DIY crafts that a potential bride would be interested in.
Then, I strategically placed email signup forms all over the landing page post.
- I added a popup signup form
- I added a signup form above the content
- I added a signup form below the content
- I added a signup form in the sidebar
Basically, there was no way in hell that a user could land on this page without seeing an email signup form:)
For more information on my signup form placement strategy, check out this post.
Final Steps – Creating An Email Funnel
There’s no point in grabbing an email address unless you plan on emailing your customers. So my wife created a multi step email autoresponder sequence to automatically send emails to the list on a weekly basis.
While the details of our email sequence is beyond the scope of this post, the point is that you can automate this entire process. And the key is to not come across as overtly salesy in your emails.
Provide the customer with useful content that they actually want to read and occasionally allude to products that you carry in your store.
This will not only create mind share for your ecommerce business but guess what? When they are looking to buy a product you carry, they will most likely look to your store to make a purchase.
This is the holy grail of how to make Facebook advertising effective.
A Summary Of The Process
If you’ve digested all of the above, you’ll soon realize that converting Facebook customers requires a much longer term sales process than a query based advertising medium like Google.
With Facebook, you have to keep your customer engaged until they are ready to buy. And then you have to bring them back to your store when that occurs.
Once we started collecting email addresses and engaging with our customers via an email funnel, we were finally able to make Facebook ads profitable.
Now there are a ton of little details that I left out in this post in the interest of time.
For example, you can also run retargeting campaigns to show ads specifically to customers who have visited your store.
You can upload your email list and have Facebook generate a “lookalike list” of targeted customers who are demographically similar.
You can have Facebook target customers who have already liked your page.
What’s really powerful about Facebook ads compared to Google search ads is that you can potentially reach far more people.
Anyway if you are interested in learning more about the different ways to implement paid advertising, I cover all of these concepts in my ecommerce course.
Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions or consider signing up for the class.
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