What I’m going to share with you today is not only an effective process but one that dispels some of the cultural myths about social advertising.
A huge amount of systematic work goes into building and scaling an e-commerce brand, it’s not as simple as, “Just run some Facebook ads and that’s going to be okay, and it’s going to work out and to be a massive success” (which is what a lot of people think!)
At Bolt Digital, we have developed a methodical nine-step process for running our ecommerce campaigns.
The bottom line is when we look at the campaigns of ours that are performing really well, they are all allowing us to methodically do all of these nine stages – and that’s what’s making them work.
Stage 1 – STRATEGY
You need to have a strategy before you start. Where are you going to put your ad? Where are you going to put your ad spend? How are you going to capture the attention your brand needs? For the best result, our brands that are successfully scaling have reached out further than just Facebook, taking ads to Instagram, Google, Youtube and so on.
By utilising these platforms, they’re able to reach and retarget consumers wherever they go online.
Stage 2 – PRODUCT & PRESENTATION
The second stage is all about product and presentation. Products need to look the part. Is your product being presented in an appealing way? Will you attract the ABC1, predominately ecommerce consumer? Focus on photography, your website’s feel, wording, product presentation, professionalism and authenticity to present your product the right way.
Stage 3 – MARKETING FUNNELS
Now, we audit a lot of ad accounts here, and we very rarely see ecommerce funnels that are set up properly. Think about what you’re trying to do. Facebook and Instagram can be really powerful in driving new customers into the funnel, but you’re not going to do that just through putting your ad in front of someone and hoping they buy at first site. That’s where it’s all about running tiered campaigns and, again, using a multichannel strategy, running those campaigns across channels and devices.
Stage 4 – STOP THE SCROLL
We live in a crazy fast scrolling world in which people are just scrolling on their phones – but the aim of your creatives is to stop that scroll. Step four, creative testing and production, is where you assess a) is your creative appealing to people, resonating with them enough to stop the scroll, and b) are they clicking through once you’ve successfully paused their scroll?
You must always be launching new creatives because you never know what will outperform the previous high-performing content. Come up with new ideas, launch them, test them. Some will do well, others less so, but that’s part of the learner curve you’ll see to help scale your e-commerce brand.
Stage 5 – ALGORITHM TRAINING
Algorithm training – teaching Facebook who your customers are, allowing it to gather data for your brand – all takes time. If you think your brand will go from launch to acquiring customers profitable from your campaigns in a few weeks, you’re either very lucky or deluded. If you have patience, Facebook will learn who your customers are and only then, from there, you should expect campaigns to improve and improve again over time.
The only way you can maybe shortcut this process is if you’ve got a really busy website with loads of purchases going through AND you’ve had the Facebook pixel on it for a while, and Facebook has already done the learning before you started running ads. And even then, having lots of data already will usually only oil Facebook’s wheels versus allowing you to acquire customers profitably from day one.
Stage 6 – CONVERSION RATE OPTIMISATION
After following the previous five steps, next on scaling an ecommerce brand is working on your website conversion rate and optimising that. No matter how well your website is converting, it can always convert better.
Make it an easier browsing experience, look out for anything that might distract someone away from purchase, there’s always room for improvement. Conversion rate optimisation on a website is equally as important as the ads – and they work together.
Stage 7 – LOYALTY
Once you’ve acquired customers, you need to make them loyal. This is where email, chat bots and campaigns aimed specifically at generating loyalty help. We have ecommerce websites where the traffic we send from email converts at 10% versus the traffic we sent from social, which might convert at 2 or 3%. I know people are like, “Email is dead,” but I’m an absolute stickler for having all email sequences in place and that is a post-purchase sequence, abandoned cart sequences and more, and I’m a stickler for weekly newsletters. Just keep sending, forget worrying about if people are bored or don’t want to hear from you, they can unsubscribe – just keep sending your weekly newsletters. If you came into our office and looked at our weekly newsletter campaigns and saw the sales they’re driving you would feel the same way.
Stage 8 – ANALYSE, MEASURE AND REFINE
The eighth process is all about analysing, measuring and refining. Be on top of your data, understand what’s working and what isn’t. Are you getting cheaper clicks and conversions from Google? If the answer is yes, good. Put more money into Google, until it’s no longer scalable.
Understand the cost of each channel and make decisions based on hard data and facts, not feelings.
Stage 9 – INTELLIGENT SCALING
Following on from step eight, step nine is about intelligent scaling. Up to step nine, this process is all about getting as far as you can with your ad budget, optimising those results and understanding what works for you. Once you’ve hit a three or four month period of testing and learning from your campaigns, you reach the point of scaling intelligently according to rules that you lay down inside platforms like Facebook, telling it to increase budgets by pre-determined percentages immediately once customer acquisition is profitable. This further fuels algorithm training.
I really hope the nine-step process for building and scaling a successful ecommerce business was helpful to you. We use this holistic process every day at Bolt Digital to support and scale ecommerce brands through repeat profit, conversions and loyalty.