3 BIG Mistakes Ecommerce Companies Make With Facebook Ads

Do you know why so many e-commerce business owners struggle to turn their Facebook ads into profit?

(And if they are making a profit, it’s rarely anywhere near the amount they want to see.)

After spending years in the direct response world, as well as learning from experts like Vincent Nguyen of Growth Ninja and Justin Brooke of AdSkills, I can tell you why.

Failure to turn Facebook Ads into E-Commerce sales always results from making one of the same three mistakes.

Big Mistake Number One: You’re Not Getting In Front Of The RIGHT People

Anyone who has run ads on Facebook knows how powerful the targeting can be.

How powerful? You can target married women working in advertising, aged 20 – 22, who live in Los Angeles and are planning to go to Bali. And that’s just the start.

But despite this ability to fine-tune the targeting of their campaigns, so many e-commerce owners are leaving money on the table when it comes to Facebook advertising.

It turns out that this is for two reasons:

1. You’re Targeting All The Interests At Once, But Individually

“But John”, you say, “aren’t I meant to be layering targeting like you just explained?”

Yes – but only within reason.

When e-commerce owners start running ads towards their stores, they typically get excited to launch their first campaign. Eager for success, they pack it with as many interests as possible.

And that’s where the problem starts. Let’s look out at how this plays out in a real world situation.

Let’s say you own an e-commerce business called Growler’s Toy Outlet. You sell a wide range of dog toys and treats to dog owners around the world, and you’ve found your best customers are over 30.

Excited to launch your first Facebook Ads campaign, you open up the campaign planner and get to work with your targeting:

  • Over 30
  • Lives in America
  • Interested in dogs, pets, Affenpinscher, Afghan Hound, Airedale Terrier, Akita, Alaskan Malamute, American English Coonhound, American Eskimo Dog, American Foxhound, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Water Spaniel, Anatolian Shepherd Dog, Appenzeller Sennenhunde, Australian Cattle Dog, Australian Shepherd, Australian Terrier, Azawakh, Barbet, Basenji, Basset Hound, Beagle, Bearded Collie, Bedlington Terrier, Belgian Malinois, Belgian Sheepdog, Belgian Tervuren, Berger Picard, Bernese Mountain Dog, Bichon Frise, Black and Tan Coonhound, Black Russian Terrier, Bloodhound, Bluetick Coonhound, Bolognese, Border Collie, Border Terrier, Borzoi, Boston Terrier, Bouvier des Flandres, Boxer, Boykin Spaniel, Bracco Italiano, Briard, Brittany, Brussels Griffon, Bull Terrier, Bulldog, Bullmastiff, Cairn Terrier, Canaan Dog, Cane Corso, Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Catahoula Leopard Dog, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Cesky Terrier, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Chihuahua, Chinese Crested, Chinese Shar-Pei, Chinook, Chow Chow, Clumber Spaniel, Cockapoo, Cocker Spaniel, Collie, Coton de Tulear, Curly-Coated Retriever, Dachshund, Dalmatian, Dandie Dinmont Terrier, Doberman Pinscher, Dogue de Bordeaux, English Cocker Spaniel, English Foxhound, English Setter, English Springer Spaniel, English Toy Spaniel, Entlebucher Mountain Dog, Field Spaniel, Finnish Lapphund, Finnish Spitz, Flat-Coated Retriever, Fox Terrier, French Bulldog, German Pinscher, German Shepherd Dog, German Shorthaired Pointer, German Wirehaired Pointer, Giant Schnauzer, Glen of Imaal Terrier, Goldador, Golden Retriever, Goldendoodle, Gordon Setter, Great Dane, Great Pyrenees, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, Greyhound, Harrier, Havanese, Ibizan Hound, Icelandic Sheepdog, Irish Red and White Setter, Irish Setter, Irish Terrier, Irish Water Spaniel, Irish Wolfhound, Italian Greyhound, Jack Russell Terrier, Japanese Chin, Korean Jindo Dog, Keeshond, Kerry Blue Terrier, Komondor, Kooikerhondje, Kuvasz, Labradoodle, Labrador Retriever, Lakeland Terrier, Lancashire Heeler, Leonberger, Lhasa Apso, Lowchen, Maltese, Maltese Shih Tzu, Maltipoo, Manchester Terrier, Mastiff, Miniature Pinscher, Miniature Schnauzer, Mutt, Neapolitan Mastiff, Newfoundland, Norfolk Terrier, Norwegian Buhund, Norwegian Elkhound, Norwegian Lundehund, Norwich Terrier, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Old English Sheepdog, Otterhound, Papillon, Peekapoo, Pekingese, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen, Pharaoh Hound, Plott, Pocket Beagle, Pointer, Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Pomeranian, Poodle, Portuguese Water Dog, Pug, Puggle, Puli, Pyrenean Shepherd, Rat Terrier, Redbone Coonhound, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Rottweiler, Saint Bernard, Saluki, Samoyed, Schipperke, Schnoodle, Scottish Deerhound, Scottish Terrier, Sealyham Terrier, Shetland Sheepdog, Shiba Inu, Shih Tzu, Siberian Husky, Silky Terrier, Skye Terrier, Sloughi, Small Munsterlander Pointer, Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, Stabyhoun, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Standard Schnauzer, Sussex Spaniel, Swedish Vallhund, Tibetan Mastiff, Tibetan Spaniel, Tibetan Terrier, Toy Fox Terrier, Treeing Tennessee Brindle, Treeing Walker Coonhound, Vizsla, Weimaraner, Welsh Springer Spaniel, Welsh Terrier, West Highland White Terrier, Whippet, Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, Xoloitzcuintli, Yorkipoo, Yorkshire Terrier, dog toys, American Dog, Kong, Hide-a-squirrel, Frostbite, Tuffies, Henrietta, Gappay, Squirrel dude, toss-a-lot, the leo, Orijen, ACANA, Eagle Pack, Fromm, Nature’s Logic, Stella & Chewy’s, Wysong, Pinnacle, Primal, Hi-Tek Naturals, Nature’s Variety, Wellness Core, Merrick…. etc

Armed with your thorough list of dog related interests (you’ve got all the breeds, brands, and websites) and an audience in the millions, you’re ready to pull the trigger and make some of that sweet e-commerce cash.

So you write some ad copy, put in a cute photo of a Rhodesian Ridgeback in sunglasses with a ball in its mouth, and take your campaign live.

Three days later you’ve gotten a handful of sales… but nowhere near what you expected from having such incredibly targeted interests.

You let it chug along so that you can focus on the operational aspects of your business, but deep down you just know it could be doing better.

And the truth is that it COULD be.

Here’s why.

Facebook Advertising interest targeting works in two ways:

  1. Target anyone who likes this OR this
  2. Target anyone who likes this AND this

Using the layout above, you’re targeting every person over 30 in the US who likes just one of those things. It’s “OR” targeting.

That might not seem like a problem until you think about the sheer number of people who like “dogs” or “pets” but don’t have one.

So what’s the solution? Use “AND” targeting.

Instead of using a “shotgun approach”, you break down the people you target into smaller, more laser-targeted campaigns.

For example:

  • Over 30
  • Lives in America
  • Likes Affenpinschers
  • AND likes American Dog OR Kong OR Hide-a-squirrel OR Frostbite OR Tuffies OR Henrietta OR Gappay OR Squirrel dude OR toss-a-lot OR the leo
  • AND likes Orijen OR ACANA OR Eagle Pack OR Fromm OR Nature’s Logic OR Stella & Chewy’s OR Wysong OR Pinnacle OR Primal OR Hi-Tek Naturals OR Nature’s Variety OR Wellness Core OR Merrick

What this does is filters your giant audience (over 30, lives in America) into a smaller segment of people who like Affenpinschers AND a dog toy brand AND a dog food brand.

One you’ve got your first Ad-Set set up, you repeat the process for each dog breed variation.

The result? More optimized targeting that you can scale, easily test, and turn into e-commerce sales with ease.

Now yes – this DOES take a lot of time to do correctly.

But hey, if you’re already running a business, how do you actually find the time to both learn the skills you need for this, along with all the usual stuff that comes with running a thriving business?

I mean, sure… it’s possible to figure it out, but do you really want to be stressed up to your eyeballs and rushing from one thing to another?

That’s why I encourage you to work with performance driven Facebook Growth experts like Growth Ninja (click here for details on their results, and how you can work with them).

Now, onto the second problem…

2. You’re Targeting TOO Broadly

I recently heard about an e-commerce store that sold interest related products to horse enthusiasts.

Horse wallets, horse badges, horse shoelaces, horse purses, horse t-shirts – everything you can think of that an irrationally passionate horse enthusiast would buy.

The basic principles of this business were sound. They drop-shipped their products with a solid margin, selling to a customer base with money, and the opportunity for repeat purchases was high.

But their Facebook Ads were performing abysmally compared to their potential.

A Facebook expert I know went through their account and quickly found the reason why. Their Facebook Ads were set up to target people interested in ‘horses’.

That’s it.

To an inexperienced advertiser, this makes sense. You sell horse related products, so target people who like horses, right?

Wrong. Despite the audience size being in the millions, your targeting is all off.

Here’s why…

There’s a wide range of people that Facebook might think have a cursory interests in horses.

For example:

  • Younger teenage girls who really want a horse (right interest, no money)
  • Former horse riders who keep in touch with their friends in the community but no longer ride or own horses (wrong interest, maybe money)
  • People who work with horses every day (professional association, not necessarily enthusiastic, has some money)
  • Veterinarians who treat horses amongst other animals (professional association, not necessarily enthusiastic, has some money)

See the problem?

You’re targeting people who are HIGHLY unlikely to buy by targeting so broadly. And that’s a quick way to burn up your advertising budget – putting your ads in front of people who simply don’t care or can’t afford what you’re selling.

And that is very bad for e-commerce advertising.

Not Too Hot, Not Too Cold: Just Right Facebook Targeting For E-Commerce Advertising

So here’s a rule of thumb –

Whether your Facebook ads are being run by you or by a performance driven expert, you want to make sure that they’re targeting with the right level of focus.

Too many varying interests and you won’t know which granular combination of interests are producing results, and you’ll be throwing money away on irrelevant targeting that you could otherwise optimize.

Too few, broad interests, and you’re flying blind. Not only is your targeting off, but you can’t “cut away the fat” of wasted audiences.

Think of Facebook advertising as being a little bit like cooking.

If you put the right ingredients in, you’ll get great results. If you put in the wrong ingredients, you’ll get terrible results.

This means that it’s in your interest to be clear about what ingredients are going into each batch you’re cooking so that you can test, alternate, and compare your variations.

Ok, phew! Now we’ve covered that, let’s get to the next big mistake….

(Don’t have time to figure this all out yourself? Learn how you can work with a pure performance driven partner here.)

Big Mistake Number Two: You’re Saying The Wrong Thing!

In Direct Response, we have a rule that must be followed at all times – “right message, to the right person, at the right time”.

We’ve already covered getting in front of the right person. Now let’s talk about something I’ve already hinted at – giving the right person the right message.

What’s In A Message?

There’s two things to keep in mind when it comes to your Facebook advertising:

  • WHAT are you trying to say?
  • HOW are you saying it?

There’s only a few ways you can go wrong with answering these two questions.

First, let’s talk about the WHAT.

So many advertising campaigns fail to work because they simply don’t know the number one thing that they’re trying to say.

Before you run any advertising campaign, ask yourself these two questions:

  1. What ONE thing do I want people to do after seeing this ad? Be specific – do you want them to click so you can load your Facebook Pixel, think fondly of your brand, immediately purchase, or something else?
  2. What ONE thing am I trying to communicate that will make them do this thing? Is it that a discount is available, that we have new stock, that our products are superior, or something else?

Until you can answer each of these questions in 10 words or less, do NOT pass go, and do NOT collect $200. Instead, get to work on clearly defining WHAT you’re trying to say.

Second, let’s talk about the HOW.

One of the biggest mistakes e-commerce owners make when it comes to advertising is trying to be clever.

Look, I get it. I’ve been in the marketing world long enough to see all the “use NLP double-bind secret tricks of persuasion to 10x your sales!” and other hype-driven garbage sleazy marketers promote.

The reality is that while those tools work in the marketing world… you rarely need them to succeed in with real customers who are looking to solve a simple problem that you can solve.

Instead of writing manipulative text like “if you’re a dog owner who loves your good doggo and would never leave him out on the street to die, buy one of our limited edition tennis balls (special exclusive discount only available for 13 minutes!)”…

Try “Afghan Hounds love the Kong. It makes them happy and relaxed. Get yours for 50% off by using the coupon DOGGO at the checkout before midnight tonight.”

One is trying to be clever. The other is clear. And I can guarantee that being clear will outperform clever any day of the week.

In fact, write this down: clarity beats clever. Stick it somewhere you’ll see it. Then, enjoy the benefits!

Making Your Ultimate Advertising Message

Here’s a template you can IMMEDIATELY use in your Facebook advertising:

[What I got]. [What it’ll do]. [How to get it].

Look familiar?

  • WHAT I GOT – Afghan Hounds love the Kong.
  • WHAT IT DOES – It makes them happy and relaxed.
  • HOW TO GET IT – Get yours for 50% off by using the coupon DOGGO at the checkout before midnight tonight.”

This works for nearly any product sold through e-commerce:

  • [Sleep on 600 count cotton sheets] [for the most blissful, uninterrupted sleep of your life]. [Click here to get yours while stocks last].
  • [Get your wife flowers] [and be appreciated all week]. [Take 2 minutes to complete your online order here.]
  • [Luxury umbrellas with wooden handles] [to keep you dry and stylish in even the heaviest downpour]. [Choose your color here].

See? Simple and effective. No tricks, just a clear, benefit-driven offer.

But What About The Customer Journey?

Great question.

For the uninitiated, the customer journey shows how someone goes from having never heard of you to being a raving advocate.

And if you’re wondering how you can craft the perfect advertisement for each stage of the customer journey, look at these examples using our template above:

  • Prospect – [Special fetch balls for bulldogs] [to keep your good doggo entertained]. [New customers get 20% off here].
  • Abandoned cart – [Did you accidentally leave your order behind?] [Finish now and get your dog toys by next Monday] [by clicking here].
  • Offer for existing customers – [Special deal for customers of Growler’s!] [Save 30% on your next purchase] [by using coupon LOVEGOODBOY at the checkout before October 31st at midnight!]

Same template. Different stage of the customer journey.

(Before I press on, I want to underscore that these are just the fundamentals. Performance driven Facebook experts like Vincent and the team at Growth Ninja will take your campaigns to the next level – just see the results they’ve generated here.)

Okay, so now you’ve discovered the first two major mistakes made by e-commerce stores when it comes to Facebook Advertising.

Let’s get to the final one so you can stop it from eroding your profits and killing your campaigns.

Big Mistake Number Three: Showing The Right Message To The Right Person… At The Wrong Time

Listen, it doesn’t matter HOW good your advertising campaign is if you’re showing it at the wrong time.

And I don’t mean time of day. I mean time of the customer journey.

Remember that rule of Direct Response I introduced you to earlier? The goal of marketing is to get the right message in front of the right person at the right time (which, naturally, leads them to take action).

Through our Facebook Ads Targeting, we’re making sure you’re targeting the right person for your e-commerce store.

And through our simple templates, we’re making sure you’re getting the right message.

But to be truly effective, you have to work these two elements together at the right time.

Here’s how it shakes out…

What Happens When You Get Timing Wrong

When it comes to e-commerce buying behaviour, there’s three clear stages of the buying process:

  1. A user has not begun a purchase at your store
  2. A user has begun, but not completed, a purchase at your store
  3. A user has completed a purchase at your store

When you fail to acknowledge this in your advertising, here’s what happens.

Don’t Run This Ad To People Who’ve Never Purchased

If someone has never started a purchased at your store, would this ad make sense?

“Did you accidentally leave your order behind? Finish now and get your dog toys by next Monday by clicking here.”

Definitely not. It’s completely irrelevant.

You might think this is obvious, and you might be convinced that you’d never make such a foolish mistake. But the truth is that far too many people try to get clever with their timing and start making silly mistakes like this one.

Instead, Run These Ads To People Who Have Never Purchased

If someone has never purchased from your store, they’re a prospect or lead. That means you have to activate them as a customer.

Before I show you the ads you can run, let’s define the difference between a prospect and a lead for our purposes.

A prospect is someone who has either:

  • Never visited your website, or
  • Never joined your mailing list

In short, they’re someone who would be interested in what you sell, but they’ve never engaged with your business in a meaningful way.

And a lead is someone who has either:

  • Signed up to your mailing list and expressed interest in your products, or
  • Has expressed their interest in your business and its products through some other action (like engaging with your Facebook page, joining your Facebook group, or coming to one of your events)

In short, they’re someone who has metaphorically put their hand up to say “Yes! I am the kind of person who likes what you have!”

Now yes, you can run the same ads to these two groups of people who have never purchased.

But you’ll do even better if you run them with a slight twist.

For prospects, try something like this:

“Special fetch balls for bulldogs to keep your good doggo entertained. New customers get 20% off here.”

And for leads, try something like this:

“Fan of Growler’s Toy Outlet? Special fetch balls for bulldogs to keep your good doggo entertained. New customers get 20% off here.”

The only difference is that in the second ad we’re acknowledging the TIMING of the engagement – that they’ve already engaged with us!

Don’t be Fooled – The Trick With Facebook Advertising For E-Commerce Is To Make It Simple

Right now, it might seem like Facebook Advertising for e-commerce is anything but simple.

The truth is that it’s “simple, not easy” as former SEAL Jocko Willink likes to say.

It takes work to make sure you’re not making silly mistakes with the ads you’re running to your e-commerce store.

Your job is not to be an advertising expert. Your job is to keep things simple.

If This Seems Tough, Here’s Something You’ll Love

You don’t have to do your Facebook advertising yourself.

There. I said it.

The truth is that running your Facebook ads is not the key to your business’ success, and it isn’t your job.

As an entrepreneur, your job is to get the right people doing the right things so that your company will grow.

And if you aren’t a highly trained Facebook expert, and you’re trying to cobble this together, you’re violating this very idea.

So what should you do?

If You Want High Performing Facebook Ads, Do This Immediately

Stop trying to do everything yourself, and work with a partner that looks out for you.

What do I mean by this?

Find yourself a Facebook advertising partner that:

  • Gets paid on performance instead of “percentage of spend” – this ensures their incentives are aligned with yours, making sure that they’ve got skin in the game too
  • Knows how to get results and can prove it to you every month – when it comes to ads, you want to see PROFITS. If someone can’t show you how their work generated a profit, they’re the wrong person to partner with
  • Takes over and manages the campaigns for you – look, getting a consultant or advisor can work… but it’s also a time suck. Find someone who does the work for you – it’s quicker, more effective, and will make your e-commerce store a lot of money, a lot faster.

The Only Partner I Recommend

In the time I’ve spent in the online marketing world, I’ve met, interviewed, and spent time with a LOT of Facebook Advertisers.

The truth is that most of them are out of business as quick as they’re in it.

Why? Because selling Facebook Advertising services doesn’t equal being able to deliver on them. Their clients quickly quit after losing money, and before long these “experts” are on to the next thing.

That’s where Growth Ninja is different.

Since opening their doors two years ago, Growth Ninja have kept things simple. They run Facebook Advertising campaigns for select clients, and their monthly fee is entirely based on results.

No management fees. No extra costs. All you do is count up all the new money they’ve sent you, and then give them a little bit of it.

This model is so successful that clients don’t quit. In fact, their clients have only paused their Growth Ninja campaigns for two reasons:

  1. They’ve been running out of inventory too quickly, and need to re-stock their products
  2. They need time to nurture and close the rush of new customers they’ve secured

So why do their clients stick around for so long?

Because Growth Ninja only works with customers that they like, that they can help, and that they can build a long term relationship with through high ROI campaign management.

If that’s something you’re interested in, fill out this short application form.

But before you do, you probably want to know a little more about them. So here’s one of my favorite case studies.

How Growth Ninja Generated $955,000 In Annual Revenue From A Little Over $10,000 Per Month In Ad Spend For One Client

One client Growth Ninja works with is a well known fitness company (we can’t reveal their name, though).

When this company first reached out to Growth Ninja, they were losing money on their Facebook ads, and struggling to generate a few thousand dollars per year.

They’d tried running the campaigns in house, attempted all the “hacks”, and were even generating sales. But they just couldn’t turn a profit.

Seeing the opportunity to help, Growth Ninja agreed to work with them. And twelve months later it was a very different story.

In the short period they’d been working together, Growth Ninja’s client had gone from losing money every month to:

  • Generating $955,000 in annual gross revenue from their Facebook Advertising from a monthly advertising spend of a little over $10,000.
  • Building their customer base by tens of thousands of customers
  • Securing a 5.2x return on their ad spend (leaving a LOT of profit margin for the company)

Is this the kind of ROI you’d like to see from your Facebook Ads – getting $5.20 back from every $1 you spend?

If so, fill out this short application to see if you would benefit from working with Growth Ninja.

Apply To Work With Growth Ninja Now

If you’ve been running your Facebook ads, failing to see the return you know that others are getting, then it’s time to consider what’s best for your business.

Could your business be generating more revenue and more profits if an expert took over your campaigns?

And would your business benefit from growing in a risk-free way, where your expert was only paid when they delivered results?

If so, Growth Ninja is the company you should work with (the application form is here). If you’re a good match, Growth Ninja will take over your Facebook Advertising campaigns and:

  • Bring in more revenue and greater profit per sale from each advertising campaign by using their proprietary, in-house optimization and scaling process
  • Eliminate the excessive costs that are destroying your advertising profit margins
  • Free up your time so that you can focus on what you’re best at, by taking over all the day-to-day number crunching, tweaking, and fiddling you’ve been doing

Apply to work with Growth Ninja here.

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