Improve E-commerce Sales by Leveraging the Facebook Platform
Updated: Aug 29
How many times have we heard or repeated the famous phrase: "I was not born to sell" but the truth is that we are naturally gifted to do so, in fact, when we are passionate about a particular subject, we can find the most useful words to explain why we like it, why we follow it and even why we think everyone else should do the same.
That is why when our interest is to increase the conversion rate of our products and services, the best strategy is to expand the projection channels so that it reaches the largest possible audience, as we all already know, Facebook is one of the most powerful.
World-class brands frequently raise the percentage of investment that they have destined for this platform and manufacture their marketing campaigns around it. But like any powerful weapon, the katana of a samurai can be incredibly useful to defend himself if he has the necessary skills to handle it; otherwise, it could be devastatingly damaging to his life.
That is why in this article, I share some ideas that will not only serve to improve e-commerce sales by taking advantage of Facebook, but we can also apply it to the rest of our digital media endeavors.
There is no single project that comes to fruition without organization. The necessary bases and adequate information are needed to achieve a goal; even if you already know what I am talking about, I suggest you pay close attention to this section because repetition is the mother of perfection.
Indeed, we can never execute a 100% effective marketing strategy, especially if we're exploring and learning about a new avenue of exposure. But in the world of advertising, the more prepared we are, the more we will minimize the risk of failure, there is something that should be clear from the beginning, and that is that we have to be profitable, no matter the business model.
The objective is to achieve more with less, and when I speak of less, I do not mean to sacrifice quality but to reduce the expenses and time invested.
If we properly optimize our efforts, we can obtain excellent results and more significant benefits.
Here are some points that will be very useful to you.
Before taking action and starting an advertising campaign, take your time and carry out a detailed study of all the points that I will provide below. With the necessary tools, you can take advantage of this incredible platform and not be part of the statistics' negative side.
You will end up saving time and money because as you go through the creative and segmentation process of a marketing campaign, you will find yourself with these doubts sooner or later.
Who is Facebook?
Imagine that you have a physical store and require certain services and labor, so you will have to hire trained personnel to execute it. How do you do it? Well, very simple, you will make sure to place an ad looking for workers and accept job resumes, and then you will interview to learn more about your future employees; this way, you will be sure that they have the required skills to perform the tasks.
Facebook is the digital extension of your brick and mortar store.
Having the right individuals (this includes you) in place to capitalize on the Facebook platform can be the difference between companies that flourish and the others that succumb to an early demise.
We should see Facebook as a global spokesperson for our brand. It will lead the charge in saying who we are and what we do. Better yet, we can tailor and guide our message to reach the right people, but to do so, we must know the weaknesses and strengths of this powerful ally.
Although it may not seem like it, Facebook is still growing, and as of 2020, it is the most used social platform in the world.
It even ranks above behemoth YouTube. Thanks to its intricacies, Facebook can provide you with a wealth of consumer behavior data and the tools needed to capitalize on such information.
Knowing the Formats
Facebook can aid in spreading our brand image like wildfire.
Projections show that Facebook can reach millions of people on their electronic devices but wait, there's a cost. While Facebook is cheaper than its rival Google Adwords, you can still rack up a hefty advertising expense on the platform.
So how do we get the most bang for the buck?
Define clear goals and structure a plan to track your progress in reaching the goals. Lastly, hone in on the creative aspect.
I know it's easier said than done but try to ask yourself a couple of crucial questions. Does the creative fall in line with my campaign aspirations?
Are we looking for awareness or specific conversions? What would a successful campaign look like? Weight your needs and start piecing together your creative approach.
Are we doing stills or video?
Will it cover the whole screen or just part of it?
Does the same ad apply for a FEED as for a STORY?
These and many other uncertainties are common when segmenting our campaign. Although not impossible, it is challenging to cover every one of the ad formats adequately.
The format is the vehicle in which our Ads will be transported, so it is worth dedicating the necessary time to learn and use the tools, many of them free.
An assortment of creative software is available to do much of the work ourselves; many of the tools at the cost of limiting functionality have managed to simplify their interface to eliminate the need for graphic design experience. While these tools are less versatile, they appeal to a broader market and allow for more straightforward tasks to be resolved in-house.
In an ideal world, we would leave the production aspects in the hands of professionals who will make creative decisions while maintaining your brand's vision.
If you are reading this article, you may be seeking a DIY solution. Whether for budgetary constraints or you're simply one of those guys/gals who take the bull by the horns and know what's needed. The truth is that there is a reasonably extensive number of formats available. Although we should not create a campaign based on each of them, we should make adjustments during conceptualization and production to not condition the final result.
Take, for example, a video session for one of your products.
Some useful tips would be:
Execute proper pre-production in which we would set the guidelines to follow in terms of ad formats, which dictates how to make the best use of budget and resources.
Record with different devices at the same time, from professional cameras to smartphones.
Give yourself framing and aspect ratio options, mainly having the landscape and portrait formats covered.
Prepare a script that allows for re-spinning / repurposing, so structure your one minute video in a way that you can splice a 15-second stand alone bumper ad from it. If possible, film extra material to allow for flexibility on ad video variants. Always remember, too much coverage can be bad, but not enough content is worse.
If you're curious about why too much coverage can be bad, it's because it makes the editing process a tedious affair. Imagine trying to weed out mounds of bad footage to find the good ones.
Organic vs. Payment
An ideal scenario would be for your company to benefit from being known by millions of users and enjoy financial health such that it would dispose of enormous advertising budgets. Yet, the initial reality for most entrepreneurs who decide to expand their horizons in the digital landscape is bleaker.
The good news is that hard work makes the uncommon rags to riches fairy tale more likely. Fortune is no longer reserved for just a few; on the contrary, more and more people can now establish their businesses online; this, at least, puts you in the driver's seat. What you do from there is up to you.
There are two possibilities to get the desired exposure most companies want; organic ranking and advertising investment. Combining both strategies have proven to produce superior results.
Most of us have experienced providing a service. Hopefully, the quality of such a service is good because companies rely on good service for recommendations. Referrals from past customers create a slim margin that allows many companies to be profitable; otherwise, each sale or new customer acquisition expense would be disproportionate.
In other words, happy customers become an advocate for your company, and this bleeds into the digital world. How? Simple, satisfied customers are more likely to engage with your brand on the Facebook platform by liking and sharing your post. Post shares and Likes directly leads to improved exposure to your customers' friends and give Facebook a signal that your content is worth showing, leading to more organic exposure on the news feed.
Organic and paid strategies need to coexist since they have very different characteristics that can complement each other.
A very marked characteristic is when they generate results; cultivating a positive return-on-investment (ROI) when employing an organic strategy requires time to achieve.
The paying strategy wether, Pay-Per-Click (PPC) or Cost-Per-Impression (CPM), provides quicker results with which we can generate income during our efforts.
Another well-defined peculiarity is durability. The payment strategy usually works only when we are implementing it. Once we stop, it loses its effectiveness, contrasting from the organic method whose permanence is constant and safe.
To be clear, organic advertising is not free.
Let's talk about monetary viability; it is a mistake to say that organic advertising is free. We invest time and money in generating effective content; therefore, we enjoy the added exposure brought by our efforts, not much different from this very blog post.
Organic advertising usually taps into our resources to use what's available, skills, locations, etc. Still, we must be conscious to not overpay for the visibility, remember your time and resources have a money equivalent. For example, if 1000 impressions have a cost of $5.00 on Facebook, it may not be worth spending 8-hours crafting a blog post to promote a one-time product sale. In this case, a CPM campaign will lead to a superior return-on-investment.
Organic strategies are preferred on long-term plans when, over time, the cost to exhibit a product is higher than the cost of producing the material to promote it organically.
Plan your strategies meticulously, and with little or many resources, you should combine both approaches (paid / organic) into your marketing plan.
Facebook Business Manager
For those who are just starting to advertise on this platform, this is the tool to segment your campaigns; in addition to being free, it is straightforward to access and register for it, only requiring a Facebook account.
Using the Facebook Manager tool, we can create all kinds of campaigns, categorizing our ads, formatting them, and even providing editing options.
The Facebook Manager tool provides an assortment of metrics for the ads we run, so it would be impossible to mention them all in this article since there are many. This topic would be enough for a single blog, but I can assure you that alongside the Facebook pixel, which we will discuss later on, these tools provide a wealth of information on how users reacted to your ads.
By knowing how users respond to your ads, you can make adjustments to improve them.
I would recommend that to be successful and improve Facebook sales, it is vitally important that you learn the Facebook advertising platform's functionalities. Good advertising results depend on knowing how to maximize the reach of each dollar spent.
The Campaign Objectives
As you may already know, a campaign is a group of published ads. It is crucial to have clear goals, the campaign objectives can be varied, but the Facebook business manager divides them into three categories: awareness, consideration, and conversion. Depending on the category we choose, Facebook shows the ads to the customer types we designated and potential customers who share similarities and interests.
Let's again use the physical business example to illustrate a real-world situation.
Generate brand awareness and promote various solutions offered by the company.
The current situation
Nobody knows the company, much less the products.
A limited budget to run the ads.
The strategic approach
Run a general brand awareness ad with limited targeting (this makes it cheaper) to serve as my companies first contact point. The goal should be to get the brand's name out there and start creating some association with our brand.
It isn't very likely for a person to purchase products or services on their first interaction with a company. It's just not how it works. Consumers usually need multiple contact points to identify a problem and find/research a solution, hopefully, yours.
If consumers won't buy the first time they see you, why pay more than you have to for exposure? Exactly, so don't. The 1st ad should concentrate on bringing you awareness, not conversions (again cheaper), so the material you present should be educational. For example, how about running an ad with an infographic illustrating exciting facts related to your product/solution. Heck, If you're up for it, how about a video.
As customers progress down your marketing funnel, you can introduce new ads with an effort centered around conversions. Keep in mind by explicitly targeting customer types, your cost-per-impression (CPM) will be higher; the difference is that now it makes sense to pay more since the chances of conversion are greater now than on the first interaction.
So what does an ad for this conversion-focused stage look like?
Along the lines of running an ad promoting a free webinar or eBook in exchange for their email, at this stage, their aware you exist and possibly have some interest in further engaging with you.
Please don't focus on the sale yet; trust me, your customer is not ready for purchase. Instead, open a communication line with them by making the email the primary (conversion) target.
By organizing our ads and delivery, we maximize the return-on-investment.
We buy cheap ads to get the needed brand association
We buy targeted ads at a time that consumers are primed to engage with us. Yes, these ads are costly, but the returns make them worth it. In our example, money wasn't the line of currency their email was. By having them as a contact, we have our foot in the door.
Understanding the marketing funnel is fundamental. It helps you craft a plan and maximize the value of the ads you run. Rember, not all ads aim for the same goals, nor should day. Knowing where to be frugal and when to spend big can dictate your overall results.
A / B testing
How will we know if our campaign strategy is paying its best dividends if we only run one ad? We would miss comparison points, which is why the A / B Test is so important.
A/B testing has been a secret weapon for many successful marketers. Facebook allows our advertisements to compete head to head. In return, the better performing ad reveals itself that's powerful; why not use it?
Within the same campaign, we show two variants of the same ad, and according to the results, we analyze which one has worked better.
Is Facebook Pixel Useful?
One of the essential tools that Facebook business manager provides is the Pixel, don't be scared; while plenty is happening under the hood, Facebook makes the tool easy to apply and use.
The Facebook Pixel is a piece of code that tracks users' behavior after they click on our ad. The Pixel allows us to identify actions taken on our site, such as possible conversions like buying an item, requesting a service, signing up for a subscription, or simply filling out a form.
It is essential to identify for Facebook what we consider a conversion to be. A conversion can be many things to many people. Remember, it is not just a sale, but any action that a consumer carries out on your site which you deem valuable. If you want to launch a newsletter, your objective would be to get sign-ups; therefore, a conversion in your world would be people providing you with their email.
New audience or existing audience?
While it is vital to expand horizons and introduce our products or services to new audiences, statistics prove that it is easier to sell to a past customer over new ones.
Knowing this, we should consider using Facebook's Pixel to establish a database of existing customers and browsers who have interacted favorably on our site. This way, we can retarget them as they are more likely to purchase related products to ones previously purchased or ones they have shown interest in.
Respect the funnel to improve sales.
We must be aware that there are phases within the sales process. We know ad nauseam that carrying out a conversion of any kind usually involves several contacts with the potential client, so let's use them.
The tools that the Facebook platform offers us are powerful, primarily if we use them responsibly; remember, a well-segmented strategy goes a long way so take advantage of this vast technological conglomerate: Facebook.
We suggest looking into and researching a performance marketing agency to alleviate some of the burden of diving into a marketing campaign solo.