How to start and scale your Shopify Facebook ads for the holidays!

November 5, 2019

facebook-ads-shopify

The busiest, most stressful — and most profitable — time of the year to be an eCommerce business owner is fast approaching.

That's right, we're talking about Black Friday. You probably have your sales planned, but there's more to a good BFCM promo than just lowering prices.

You need to tell as many potential customers as possible about your sales. If you're not actively trying to spread the word about your promotions, don't expect much web traffic when the big weekend rolls around.

In this article we'll show you how to start (or scale) Facebook ads so you can get a horde of shoppers banging on the digital door of your store this Black Friday.

Why Black Friday matters

It might be the most hectic time of year, but that's because it's the most lucrative.

According to RJ Metrics, sales in November and December make up to 20% of the eCommerce industry's annual revenue. That means Black Friday and the holidays, also called peak season, is an opportunity you can't pass up.

Shopify put their stats into a handy holiday shopping infographic. As you can see below, in 2018, sales on Shopify stores alone peaked at $37M per hour!

shopify-black-friday-sales

Shopify's Black Friday 2018 stats Shopify Plus

Now, with all those increases in spending over the holidays, and the corresponding uptick in competition for consumers' attention definitely affects eCommerce marketers.

It means you have to start getting your messaging out there before Black Friday, and an effective and affordable way to do that is with Facebook ads.

Start your Facebook advertising campaigns before the holidays to keep your costs down

Like I mentioned above, increased spending over the holidays means more people to target. But it also means more businesses trying to get your customers' attention with their ads, inevitably increasing your advertising costs.

But even if you're already a week or two out, you still have a chance to buy ads before prices peak.

black-friday-facebook-ad-CPC

The cost per click on Facebook spikes during November. Image source: Shopify Plus

How to create custom audiences

If you're an experienced Facebook advertiser, then you probably already have some custom and lookalike audiences created, so you can skip this part if you'd like.

If you already have customers and people coming to your site but haven't set up custom audiences, this is the place to start.

And if you're not familiar with Facebook ads at all, check out our complete guide on how to use Facebook Business Manager for eCommerce.

Start by logging into your Business Manager account, click on the menu in the top left corner, and select 'Frequently used' from the drop down menu.

If you don't have "Frequently Used" in the dropdown menu, go to "All Tools," then click on "Audiences."  

create-custom-audiences-facebook-business-manager

 

Next, you'll select 'Create Audience.'

create-facebook-custom-audience


And finally you'll see all the custom audience options that you can choose from.

facebook-custom-audience-types

Audience types on Facebook ads

There are three main audience types I generally like to use for eCommerce Facebook ads. 

Type 1: Customer list

This would usually be where you could upload a list of your current customers or your email list to target ads specifically to them, or use this list to create a lookalike audience (more on that later).

You can either upload a CSV file, import from Mailchimp, and even include your customer Lifetime Value (LTV) to create lookalikes even more closely matched to your current customers.

Type 2: Website

To define this audience you'll need Facebook Pixel installed on your store. It uses traffic data from your store to track customers and show them targeted ads.

Note: don't worry, you can still do a lot without Facebook Pixel, but if you want to target even more potential customers we have a post on how to install it!

Facebook Pixel creates audiences based off of people that have previously visited your site. It can be a great way to retarget potential customers who viewed your site but did not purchase anything.

You can target people who have:

  • Visited any page on your site (up to a max of 180 days since the last visit)
  • Visited certain product pages
  • Visited for a specific amount of time
  • Detected by your Facebook Pixel doing this like
    • Viewing pages
    • Adding to carts
    • Initiating check out
    • Adding payment info
    • Purchasing products

Or any other custom Facebook conversions you create.

Type 3: Facebook sources (engagement)

This type of audience retargets profiles that have interacted with your Facebook or Instagram content.

For example, if you create a lot of video content or have a large or engaged social following, then these audience types could be great for you.

A great place to start is to create a list of people who have viewed your videos.

So if you have video content that is getting tens of thousands of views, guess what? You can make an audience of those people and create content specific to what they just saw in the video.

This is great for helping them through the buyers' journey!

create-a-custom-audience-facebook

You can also target Instagram and Facebook followers who have:

  • Engaged with your page
  • Engaged with a post or ad
  • Clicked on a call-to-action
  • Saved your page or post
  • Sent you a message
  • Filled out a lead form
  • Interacted with a Facebook event

And just like website audiences, you can target people that have engaged with your pages from the past one to 365 days.

If you want to learn more about other types of Facebook ads, AdEspresso has an article on everything you need to know about Facebook ad custom audiences.

Lookalike audiences

If you have custom audiences already created, another great way to reach more people is to create lookalike audiences.

In short, Facebook creates new audiences based on behaviours and traits you've already defined in your other audiences — but with added parameters for more specific targeting.

To get started, simply go back to the 'Create Audience' page, then click and select 'Lookalike Audience' from the drop down menu.

how-to-create-facebook-audiences


From there you can select the source of the lookalike audience you want to create.

The source = the custom audience you created that you want to base this lookalike audience from.

You can also choose the desired geographic location and audience size you want.

how-to-create-facebook-lookalike-audiences

Facebook retargeting ads

You just created some Facebook custom audiences and lookalike audiences and you want to start creating ads to get some traction. I get it.

But before we do that, I recommend setting up your Facebook Retargeting ad campaigns. Notice I mentioned campaigns, plural, and NOT just one campaign.

The reason is, if you set them up properly, your highest return on ad spend should come from your retargeting ads. 

facebook-retargeting-ads

As you can see above, this brand (who didn't want to be mentioned by name) is getting a pretty great return on theirs!

One of the keys to getting a high return is to set up retargeting campaigns for different stages of your funnel.

As a marketer, you know people rarely buy from you the first time they see your ad. In fact, a Facebook study found that you need to expose people to your messaging at least once a week to influence their purchase intent. That's why you need Facebook retargeting ads for your Shopify store.

In the example above, the brand had ads running for people who visited any page in the last seven days, visited specific product pages in the last seven to fourteen days, or added items to their cart in the last week.

Over the course of their month-long campaign they generated $24,525.36 just from retargeting ads and only spent $2,104.36, for a Return On Advertising Spend (ROAS) of $11.65 — that means for every $1 they spent on ads, they made $11.65!

ROAS = Purchase conversion value / total amount spent

Note: For this brand, that's a great ROAS, but depending on what the total costs and profit margins are for your own products, you may need a higher ROAS to get a good return on investment.

Which audiences are the best for retargeting?

  • People that visited specific product pages.
  • People that have read blog posts or viewed video content.
  • People that have engaged with your Instagram and Facebook pages.
  • General website visitors.
  • People that have added items to their cart or entered their payment info.
  • Past customers.
  • Email subscribers.

If you're looking to dive deeper into the world of retargeting, check out our step-by-step guide on Facebook retargeting for eCommerce.

If setting up and creating your own dynamic product ads through Facebook feels like a big task, you can also use Shopify apps for Facebook retargeting like Shoelace or Kit.

How to drive new traffic to your website with Facebook ads

Now that you have your custom audiences set up and your retargeting ads ready to roll, you can look at creating campaigns to get more (new!) visitors to your eCommerce store.

What's the best way to drive traffic with Facebook ads?

There are a few different options here, but you'll probably want to start with creating a traffic focused campaign.

You can use the lookalike audiences you've already made and add related interests to the parameters to find new people to bring into your funnel.

To get started, create a new campaign from your Ads Manager page.

facebook-ads-manager-menu

Then select 'Create.' as the campaign objective. Make sure you're in "Guided Creation" mode, and not "Quick Creation" mode. You'll see a button in the upper right corner that switches between those two.

create-facebook-ad-campaign


Next click on "Traffic."

create-facebook-traffic-campaign

Now name your campaign and ad set, then click 'Continue.'

The ad set level of your campaign is where you can set your budget and select the audience you want to target.

how-to-define-facebook-audiences


Once you're there you can either select the lookalike audience that you want to target from the Custom Audiences section, or you can target new people by using the Detailed Targeting option and selecting a demographic, interest, or behaviour that relates to your target demographic.

Next you'll want to choose your ad placement.

By default, Facebook starts you off with Automatic Placements, which will show your ad on all available Facebook ad placements (you can read more about Facebook ad placements here).

I recommend using the Edit Placements option and using primarily the Facebook and Instagram feed options (but only use Instagram stories if they'll look good in that format!). From my experience those options drive more traffic, but feel free to test placements for yourself.

The final part of the ad set section is the Optimization for Ad Delivery. I recommend using the Landing Page Optimization option, that way Facebook will show your ads to people that are more likely to actually follow through after they make it to your landing page.

Create ads specifically designed to bring traffic

We won't get too deep into what you should add in your text, headline, and news feed link description, but for traffic ads, our friends over at AdEspresso cover that with their post about Facebook Ad copy. In general, it's always a good idea to keep the copy short, simple, and direct.

SoFi does a great job in their ad below. First off, the creative is colourful and draws your attention. The copy in the headline begins with an uplifting tone, and then reinforces the main message of the ad four times in the text, creative, headline, and description by using different wording to creatively relay the same message.

get-new-traffic-sofi-facebook-ad

image source: Wordstream blog

This example from Muscle Republic also works well, but in the opposite way as the previous example. It tries to motivate its audience, in this case using the word 'Persistence' to make the viewer feel that if they simply persist towards their fitness goals they can achieve them.

The headline and description are also less direct, enticing the viewer to visit Muscle Republic's site.

muscle-republic-new-traffic-ads


Over the span of seven days, this particular ad resulted in:

  • Over 1,000 landing page views
  • A page view cost of $0.05
  • Reaching just over 10,000 Facebook users
  • A click-through-rate of 14.69%

That's a good amount of new traffic for a low cost, and roughly one-thousand new users to retarget!

Another thing to keep in mind when trying to increase traffic is to continuously test and tweak your ads.

You can test things like CTAs and placements, but if you're just starting out, I'd recommend starting by creating two similar ads and testing either the copy or the creative (images, gifs, videos, etc.). 

Scaling your Shopify store Facebook ads

So by this point you've got:

  1. Business Manager set up
  2. Facebook Pixel set up
  3. Custom audiences created
  4. Lookalike audiences created
  5. Retargeting ads set up
  6. Ways to drive more traffic to your site

So what's next? You'll want to start converting all that new traffic into customers.

Strategy 1: Use discounts to attract new customers

For the visitors you haven't converted into customers, you'll probably need to offer them a discount or a low-commitment product before they commit to a larger purchase.

One strategy I like to use is creating an ad set that promotes only products in a store's outlet or sale section. These offers will only be delivered to users that have gone through the sales funnel without purchasing anything, but have visited the site or specific pages, and added items to their cart.

A discount on a product they were already browsing might be the incentive they need to actually make a purchase. But you're also not showing the offer to shoppers who might still potentially pay full price.

Strategy 2: Test multiple ad sets for conversion campaigns

Another good way to scale your ads to both new and current customers is to use the eCommerce Facebook Ads strategy outlined by Taylor Holiday from Common Thread Collective.

This is a more advanced strategy that their agency used for a client over the holidays in 2017.

But even if you're not at the same level of expertise as their agency is, you can still pick out some good points to apply to your own campaigns.

Some quick points form Taylor's strategy:

  • Test your ad creative for your conversion campaigns (purchase focused) before you start them by running different creative to new and current customers in an engagement objective ad campaign. The ads with the most engagements win. Then use those ads to test during your conversion campaigns.
  • Deciding when to scale or kill an ad set.
  • Working with influencers to reach new audiences and give your products social proof.

Strategy 3: Use Instagram story ads with CTAs

Instagram Stories is a relatively new and underused sales channel. But the opportunity is huge, with 400 million people using Instagram stories every single day.

And if your targeting is good, it can yield great results.

This simple Instagram Story ad yielded 37 sales at a cost per sale of $1.42.

muscle-republic-instagram-story
 

I would suggest only showing these ads to users already in your sales funnel since they work best with customers who are more familiar with your brand.

Some brands are reporting 15-25% click-throughs on their swipe-up CTAs!

In conclusion

There are a lot of options out there for you to focus on for your holiday sales push.

Hopefully this post helps you to start (or scale) your Facebook ads for your eCommerce store, and gives you a little insight as to what it might take to make that happen.

Let me know what you think in the comments below, and feel free to share other campaigns you've used to crush it during the holidays!

Paul Rajotte

Written by Paul Rajotte

Growth Specialist, avid beard grower and President of the Mikey "Two Scoops" Fan Club.

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