5 Things you need to know before you start with Facebook Ads for eCommerce

Facebook Ads are something I’m getting asked about a LOT at the moment, and after briefly discussing them on the podcast with Sugru’s Linda Muck earlier this month I thought it would be worth writing a little head’s up guide to help you all get started.

When you first login to Facebook Ads it can be a very confusing place, and hear lots of people making the same rookie errors. This blog isn’t about the click-here-do-this side of setting it all up, rather it’s about answering the questions I get asked the most. AND the things I wish someone had told me before I started with Facebook Ads because it would have helped me get great results much faster and with less effort…

Key areas we’re covering:

  • How Facebook ad accounts are structured
  • What targeting methods to start with
  • How to structure your Facebook Ads account for eCommerce
  • Tracking Conversions
  • The whole theory of “interruption” marketing – including your ads

How Facebook Ad Accounts are Structured

facebook ad structure

At first glance this looks pretty similar to Google Adwords. However, in Facebook different things are controlled in different places.

Below is a handy table of where you’ll find everything, this is obviously useful for finding what you need. More importantly it influences how we’re going to structure the whole thing to make optimisation easier (more on that in the next section).

facebook structure item table

Campaign objectives:

Every campaign has a different objective type and you can’t change it after you start. So I recommend these for eCommerce:

  • Website Conversions – allowing Facebook to optimise your campaigns to maximise conversions, tends to work well (requires a tracking pixel to be put on your website)
  • Clicks to website – to get traffic to your website (only if you can’t track conversions)
  • Page Likes – to get more people to Like your Facebook Page

If you have physical stores you might also want to try:

  • Offer Claims – offers people bring in and redeem
  • Local Awareness – to build local visibility
  • Event responses – to get people to sign up to your events (if you run any!)

Your choice of Objective changes the type of ads you’re able to create because Facebook limits you to what works best for that objective.

What targeting methods to start with

Targeting is how we select who sees our advert. In Facebook they are called “audiences”.

For an eCommerce business we have 5 targeting methods we should use on Facebook. I’m listing them here starting with the one most likely to bring a positive ROI (return on investment, aka profit):

  • CRM Retargeting Lists – where you upload your email list file to Facebook and put ads in front of people on that list. (hint – if you have a big list you may well want to segment it in to buyers and enquirers, and then by RFM values)
  • Website Pixel Retargeting Lists – where you’ve put a tracking pixel on the website and “captured” people who’ve gone to the website to market to later. These tend to have a worse response rate than the CRM lists because this includes lots of people who have visited but not interacted with us.
  • Facebook Page Likers retargeting lists – the people who have liked your Facebook page. Depending on how aggressively you’ve grown this the quality can vary
  • Lookalike lists – any list you create on Facebook can be “rolled out” to a Lookalike list. Where Facebook finds lots of people who are similar to the people in your list. (LOADS of potential here!)
  • Interests and Behaviours – this is where you go “cold” to Facebook. You pick people interested in X (for me “eCommerce”) – the ROI here varies depending on how you set it up – but it won’t be as good as the above.

It’s important not to mix up your targeting methods – so we don’t want 0-12m buyers who like “dogs”. Everything gets confusing to manage when you do this, plus you can’t see what is and isn’t working – did it work because we selected dog lovers? Or because we selected our own customers?

How to structure your Facebook Ads account for eCommerce

How to pull all the above together into a structure that’s going to make it easy for you to optimise and improve performance?

I’ve designed this starting structure with 3 things in mind:

  • The restrictions of the Facebook Ads Account structure above
  • We also have the ability to look at the results at each level. So we should build a structure that makes it easy to manage AND easy to report on.
  • Keeping different types of campaign (targeting and objective) separate to make it easier for you to manage the results and optimise. Thus getting you good results faster.

My recommendation would be start at the top and work your way down – testing adverts in the first campaign types then rolling out what works best to the others.

The basic theory is we start with the best lists (the housefile) and work out from there.

You don’t have to set all this up on day – but it’s a good idea to know what your structure is before you start.

For ease of use I’ve split the structure into two sections, one for growing Facebook Page Likes, and one for driving sales.

To drive Sales:

Objective is always Conversions (unless you can’t get the pixel implemented, in which case go to clicks to website)

Work through these Campaign groups one by one. Creating Adsets and Ads as you need them.

  1. CRM Retargeting Lists – If you have multiple lists (eg buyers and enquirers) I recommend a separate campaign for each.
  2. Lookalikes of the CRM Retargeting Lists
  3. Page Likers – those who have previously liked your page – they are down in third because usually there aren’t that many of them
  4. Website Tag Captured Audience
  5. Lookalikes of the Website Tag Captured Audience
  6. Interests and Behaviours Selections – if this works for you, you may end up with multiple Interests and Behaviours campaigns – one for each selection criteria.

It will probably take you 3-9 months to properly test and roll out each of these.

To increase your Page Likes:

Objective is always Page Likes. (strangely enough!)

Work through these Campaign groups one by one. Creating Adsets and Ads as you need them.

  • CRM Retargeting Lists – If you have multiple lists (eg buyers and enquirers) I recommend a separate campaign for each.
  • Lookalikes of the CRM Retargeting Lists
  • Lookalikes of the existing Page Likers
  • Website Tag Captured Audience
  • Lookalikes of the Website Tag Captured Audience
  • Interests and Behaviours Selections

This tends to be a much less important objective for an eCommerce business, and usually takes the back seat. Most businesses I’ve worked with are able to recruit at a good rate for them without needing to roll out more than one or two of these stages.

How to Track the Performance of your Facebook Advertising

Being eCommerce to monitor performance and optimise campaigns for success we care about what happens on our website:

  • The conversion
  • The sign up
  • How engaged the visitors were

There are 2 methods for getting this performance information for your Facebook Ads. The Facebook pixel feeding information back into Facebook, and the URL Builder feeding information into Google analytics.

In an ideal world we’d use both in order to get the full picture of our performance BUT setting up URL builder is very time consuming as you have to put it in place for every single ad separately.

Here’s the details of what each can and can’t do for you:

facebook tracking options

The whole theory of “interruption” marketing – including your ads

When we market ourselves on the Google Search engine – the customer is there looking for us (or what we’re selling / advertising). They decide what to look for, enter in the search term and look for it.

When we market ourselves on Facebook – the customer is there looking to see what their friends / celebrities / a cat is doing. They are not looking for us.

That means on Facebook we have to interrupt them.

We have to create ads that are compelling enough for people to stop looking at the video of the 10 greatest rugby tackles this year, and focus on our products. Making the ads timely and relevant will help.

As well as getting the attention of the customer. We also have to beat the Facebook EdgeRank Algorithm. Just like the Google Algorithm Edge Rank determines what appears in the Facebook newsfeed (where all the magic happens).

There are many great articles out there on EdgeRank if you want to get under the skin of it. Here’s my very quick bullet point guide that will get you started:

  • Video is better than image
  • Image is better than text
  • Text is better than a link
  • People liking and commenting and sharing beats everything

Include an image, and be interesting (putting it in front of people who are interested in what you have to say also helps (surprise surprise) so the targeting method is very important too).

There are lots of different adformats and they are changing all the time (at the moment, very few people are using video – and there is a lot of eCommerce buzz about carosels….).

Because of EdgeRank and Interruption – the great majority of your work on optimising Facebook is going to be about the ads. In order to get the users attention AND beat the algorithm.

What do you wish you’d know before you started on Facebook Advertising? What questions would you like answered right now?