Ecommerce Advertising — How to Build a Solid Strategy

  1. Agree clear and measurable objectives
  2. Create customer profiles
  3. Select preferred channels
  4. Construct your funnel
  5. Optimize, optimize, optimize*

Why advertising? Can’t I just do organic SEO?

The beauty of a strategic advertising campaign is that it’s extremely likely to work. Because you haven’t just thrown money at ads. You’ve carefully considered your customer, their biggest pains & priorities, and you’re solving all of that with perfectly-fitting products, all delivered via the most effective channel for them.

#1 — Goals to build your campaign around

How will we define the success of this campaign? Can we measure it?

  • “Become the most popular UK perfume brand this spring”
  • This is nice and aspirational for the company, but it’s not an advertising goal.
  • “Promote our new Chanel perfume in the run up to Valentine’s Day”
  • This is better, but success here would be people knowing about the product, not necessarily buying it.
  • “Sell all 3,000 units of our new Chanel range in the 4 weeks prior to Valentine’s Day, with a minimum gross margin of 35%”
  • This is what you’re looking for.

#2 — The customer that’s desperate for your product

Who are you selling to… and why them?

  1. Looking at the data — Depending on what data you have available from past customers, it’s possible to put together reliable “profiles” based on their buying habits, online activity, and demographic data.
  2. Surveying past customers — But by far the most effective approach is simply to survey and interview your customers. Find out what problem they were having, why they shopped with you, what they were looking for and much more. You’ll soon have a crystal-clear picture of who you should be targeting.

#3 — Choose your advertising channel

When most of us consider where to advertise for eCommerce, we think of Facebook, Instagram, Google, and YouTube. These are by far the biggest and most influential advertising platforms in existence (certainly for Europe and North America) and the de facto choice for most advertisers.

Advertising with Google

Google is the granddaddy of all online advertising. They are omnipresent. In 2019, Google’s revenue from selling ads was $134.81 billion, and that number is growing every year.

  • Search ads — These are the sponsored results you see on Google’s search engine pages.
  • Display ads — Ads appear on targets’ commonly-visited websites, based on demographic data and previous online behaviour.
  • Shopping ads — These can appear above search results, on the Google Shopping tab, on Google images, and even on partner websites.

Advertising with Facebook & Instagram

The reason most companies use Facebook and Instagram is because they work. Facebook has over 1.8 billion daily users and in 2020, took home over $84 billion in ad revenue alone. For Instagram, it was somewhere around $12 billion.

  1. Refine your target audience*: You can select the location, demographics, age, gender, interests, job type, and many other data points. Use these filters to identify your specific customer persona(s).
  2. Prepare your creatives: Make sure you’ve got several different designs and variations for both copy and design, length, and format. You can never predict which will perform best.
  3. Set your ad spend: Our advice is always to start small. Facebook ad costs can quickly spiral, so play small ball until you’re sure you’ve found a good audience with the right copy/designs, then ramp up the budget.

Advertising on YouTube

Like Instagram and Facebook, people spend a LOT of time here. But unlike those platforms (where ads appear intermittently and you can scroll right past) YouTube ads must be watched at least partially before the desired content launches.

Build a robust, consistent funnel

A detailed guide on building out your entire funnel — from ideation to creating ads, landing pages, lead magnets, thank you pages, and follow-up communications — would make this page unmanageably long.

Use personalization — but don’t get creepy

It has long been proven that well-executed personalization is rocket fuel for eCommerce campaigns. But many marketers approach it from the wrong angle. They focus on making everything as personal as possible, rather than as effective as possible…through personalization. This is a critical, if subtle, difference.

  1. “Hi. As a thank you for being a loyal customer, we’ve credited your account with a 50%-off book voucher.”
  2. “Hi John Albrighton. How are you today? Since joining in 2014 you’ve bought 11 books in the ‘fantasy’ genre. Since it’s your 35th birthday tomorrow, here’s a 50%-off voucher for the new Rothfuss release!”

Invest time in post-click optimization

It’s easy to get tunnel vision when building a campaign. You’re so laser-focused on analyzing your audience and how to make them click, building brilliant & gripping ads…that you forget about what happens after they click.

Don’t reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to

This is a minor point worth mentioning: pay attention to your competitors. If they’re doing something and you think it’s working, try it yourself. There’s a line not to cross (i.e. blatant plagiarism) but taking inspiration from high-performing competitors is just part of the game.

Prepare a system for optimization

The great thing about online advertising for eCommerce is that you can directly correlate ad spend with revenue. With good attribution, you can even see which specific ad sets are driving the most revenue. Optimising your ads will be time-consuming, but it will pay massive dividends. In essence, you’ll be doubling down on whatever’s working best, and reallocating budget from the worst performers.



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2Checkout (now Verifone)

2Checkout (now Verifone) is the leading all-in-one monetization platform for global businesses built to help clients drive sales growth across channels.