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Advertising is one of the best ways to increase sales and get more customers. It’s also one of the most complicated areas of eCommerce marketing. You have a lot of moving pieces - creatives, ad types, different platforms.

Facebook ads are the most popular form of advertising for eCommerce brands and they have become 122% more expensive than they were just a year ago. So brands need to advertise on new channels, diversify and use the right strategies to hit their goals.

In this post, we discuss some of the best time-tested eCommerce advertising strategies that every brand should use to scale this year.

Let’s dive in.

What is eCommerce Advertising?

Ecommerce refers to shops that sell products online. It could include brands selling merchandise on their own sites or on Amazon as well as individuals and mom businesses that use Etsy or eBay to sell homemade goods.

Ecommerce advertising is the practice of displaying paid messages used to sell a product online. The advertiser or brand pays for ad placement, impressions, or clicks on a publisher site like Google, Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram.

How much does eCommerce advertising cost?

The cost of your ads or how big your ad budget depends on your ROI and on your margins. An average return on ad spend (ROAS) for eCommerce advertising is 4. That means brands make $4 for every $1 they spend on ads.

Having a ROAS of 5-10 is every brand’s dream because it means that they become profitable with a 20% product margin. The good news is that advertising ROI improves as you test new strategies and new types of content. The more data you get from your campaigns the more you can improve your ROI.

Here are the best eCommerce advertising strategies to help grow your business this year.

Use lookalike audiences

A lookalike audience is when you create an audience that is similar to an existing list of customers or leads. The recent iOs 14 update has made it harder to retarget and has affected many brands that use Facebook ads. So lookalike audiences provide an alternative way to reach the right users and get more sales.

There are several ways to create a lookalike audience. One way is to download your email segments and upload them as lists to Facebook. This way you could create a lookalike audience for your cart abandonment, browser abandonment, existing customers or repeat customers.

lookalike audiences on Facebook advertising
Source: Exponea

Bid on branded keywords

One of the biggest mistakes brands make is that they start bidding on industry keywords that are too competitive. This can drain their advertising budget pretty quickly. If you are selling goods on places like Amazon or eBay then chances are people are searching for you on Google.

So the best thing you can do is to bid on branded keywords. For example, Nike would bid on terms like “Nike shoes” or “Nike + product name”. This will help you target those users with the highest purchase intent. They may have found you on Amazon and are looking to buy your product directly on your site. Or they want to learn your brand story and see what your products are made out of.

nike branded keyword advertising ad

Video is the way to go

Video content is by far the most engaging type of content out there. You can tell an entire story in a short video. It also has the highest advertising ROI for eCommerce ad campaigns.

Ecommerce brands use video for their ads on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and on marketplaces like Amazon.

There are many different types of videos you can create:

  • Tell your brand story
  • Showcase your brand features
  • Use user-generated photos
  • Use influencer shots
  • Show a recording of your customer using your product
  • Show how your products are made
  • Showcase a cause you donated or contributed to

Here’s a great example of a Facebook ad from Allbirds:

Retarget using UGC and influencer content

The most powerful way to promote your product is through product reviews and recommendations. 55% of consumers trust user-generated images more than any other form of advertising. Also, studies show that 86% of women use social media for shopping recommendations.

Include your user’s photos or videos in your ads. Hire influencers to create videos of themselves using your product. We've seen emerging brands use influencer videos as their ads time and again.

Here’s an example of an influencer video ad from Burrow.

Note: Always make sure that you get permission to use the customer’s or influencer’s content and that there is no copyright infringement.

Launch on new social platforms

While Facebook and Instagram remain the best advertising platforms for eCommerce they are becoming more and more saturated and expensive. Look for newer emerging platforms where your advertising spend can make a much bigger impact.

For example, if you’re not seeing enough sales or a high enough ROAS (return on ad spend) on Facebook then you should test out Instagram. Pinterest might be another option, where the ads can be much more targeted and cheaper.

If you already sell your products on Amazon then paid Amazon advertising can be much cheaper than Facebook or Google and can yield far better results. Amazon ads can also help you with your organic sales on the marketplace.

In short, don’t settle for an average return on advertising spend. Always test the newest ad type or platform that is available and see if it’s a viable advertising channel for your business.

Create campaigns for each part of the marketing funnel

Another major mistake eCommerce brands make is in their campaign setup. Some brands create campaigns sporadically around specific holidays, events, or product launches and they don’t see the results that they are looking for.

The best way to set up your advertising campaigns is according to your marketing funnel. Each campaign should target a different part of the funnel - the top, middle, and bottom.

Let’s break down each one.

Top of the funnel (TOFU) - these are people that are in the early discovery phase. They might be looking at products but they are not actively shopping yet. Use educational campaigns that display your product but focus more on your story. Showcase a larger cause that you’re promoting or do an influencer unboxing.

TOFU keywords: “where to get running shoes” or “running shows that don’t make your feet sweat”

Middle of the funnel (MOFU) - these are people that are actively shopping and comparing different products. Target them with a comparison guide where you showcase your product features. Explain how you’re better than the competition.

MOFU keywords: “Nike vs Adidas running shoes”

Bottom of the funnel (BOFU)- these are the low-hanging fruit, the visitors with the highest intent. They finished comparing products and are looking to buy something. They could even be looking for your brand or have abandoned checkout or cart before on your site.

BOFU keywords: “best price on Nike shoes” or “Nike Air Max 90 best price”

Use contextual advertising

Contextual advertising is when an ad is displayed based on the content of the article that the user is viewing. This is a different approach than behavioral advertising where the user is targeted based on the actions they took on the brand’s site (which products they viewed, what they added to the cart, etc).

Contextual advertising in eCommerce is done through Google’s Display Network where you can select the specific article topics that are related to your product. You then select the keywords that you want to use, including negative keywords, and launch your ad.

The advantage of contextual advertising is that it's not restricted by privacy regulations since there's no user tracking. It also costs less and provides a cheap way to test your creatives and get a lot of data quickly.

Sometimes context is more important than the user’s behavior. For example, you love cooking and are looking up your favorite recipe. You go on a publisher site and you see two ads.

The first ad is based on behavior but is completely out of context:


The second ad is a perfect match.

Source: InstaPage


Ecommerce advertising is super powerful. It provides a great way to supercharge your business. It’s not free and brands often spend way more money than they should on it. Use these proven strategies to improve your eCommerce advertising ROI and grow your brand.


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