In less than a decade, social media’s marquee platform, Facebook, morphed from a fun way to pass time to a primary form of communication connecting friends, family members, and strangers alike. The company claims to have more than 1 billion users worldwide, a phenomenal statistic by any standard.
Facebook has been a material factor in launching careers, selling books, solving crimes, and forming significant, even lifelong partnerships. It’s life in a vacuum.
It also offers a genuine coup for merchants, who increasingly are finding big success through advertising there. As an online merchant, Facebook Ads may be your new best friend.
Online commerce is a natural component of social media. Your next loyal customer may be in a position to quite literally see your ad and make a purchase without standing upright in the interim. In an era where digital replaces print more often than not, think of Facebook as the ad inserts that bulked up Sunday newspapers. Browsing through local and national news, sports, features stories, and crossword puzzles seemed to be a natural segue to pitching goods and services. As consumers of all genres jump ship from print to the internet, those opportunities multiply.
How does it work?
But does marketing really mesh with socializing? Longtime users are familiar with the Facebook’s gradual changes to its “news feed,” or the content they see when they log in to their accounts. Initially, the presence of advertising was met with harsh objections. But the company has spent an enormous amount of time and resources perfecting its delivery strategy, and ads are now minor annoyances at the most.
Is a Facebook ad in your future as you grow your ecommerce business? Perhaps. Here’s why: The prospect of reaching new customers, or retaining existing ones, for a nominal fee is nearly irresistible. To accomplish that, the platform must make adjustments that allow multiple advertisers to reach audiences without overtaking the primary social purpose its users are seeking.
This means your ad is distributed through a process not unlike an auction. Your “bid” represents the amount you are willing to spend. The higher the bid, the more “reach,” or chances of landing on users’ news feeds, you will achieve.
But it’s not a blind reach. Facebook Ads allows for targeted demographics by region, gender, age range, and interests. That last variable may be the most important, as it dispenses with wasted targets who have no desire to use your product.
If your ecommerce site is more appropriate for a local audience, limit it in that way. If you can’t picture a middle-aged man fawning over your custom-made goth earrings, avoid that demographic. The logic is simple, effective, and money-saving.
Dollars and Sense
With Facebook ads, you’re in the driver’s seat from the beginning. You create the ad, name your audience parameters, select run dates, and specify a total ad campaign cost. Recent updates in the Facebook platform offer up-to-date stats on reach, allowing you to make adjustments at any point in the campaign.
There is no way to quantify an exact per-target cost of Facebook ads, but according to this blog post on Shopify, a rough estimate is about 49 cents per click. Compare that with the cost of advertisements in conventional media, and you’ll quickly understand it’s a bargain—particularly considering its impressive process of narrowing down a target audience.
As with everything, the most noteworthy dollar figure comes in results. Adweek estimates a return on investment of 152 percent. It’s an admirable number, and so is $85. That’s the average order value online merchants realize from Facebook Ads campaigns.
This graphic from Buffer offers a decent sampling of just how specific you can be when fishing for new customers:
And it gets better. Thanks to the advent of tracking properties, your business can make reconnections on Facebook that once were unheard of. For a relatively simple platform, Facebook Ads offers critical customization options that can carve a seamless path between your site and Facebook itself. Marketing guru Neil Patel explains how to use those to your advantage in conjunction with a concept he and others have pushed in recent years: retargeting. That means tracking potential customers who have showed interest in your ecommerce site at one time before they left without committing to a purchase. Crafty tools allow you to access many of those customers through their Facebook feeds. Find his invaluable input here.
A discussion of Facebook Ads is incomplete without hyping the importance of maintaining a business page on Facebook. It’s a requirement for placing ads anyway, and it’s a fabulous free marketing tool. As with any other aspect of your marketing plan, your benefits multiply if you create compelling content for prospective customers who choose to add you to their news feed. And while there are cautionary tales about third-party businesses that offer to connect you with high volumes of Facebook users for a fee—users with pages that most often are fictional and a violation of Facebook’s Terms of Service—the site still provides an exceptional opportunity to create organic relationships that flourish and grow.
You’re well advised to waste no time in heading over to the world’s most prolific social media platform and create a business page, or beef up your existing presence. Buy an ad. Monitor its progress. Renew it a few times. Then see if advertising in this unique forum is worth your while. Chances are it will be a big boost for your ecommerce adventure.