Archive for the ‘ecommerce’ Category

Monday, August 12th, 2013

Facebook Ads for eCommerce – How To Combine Custom Audiences, Lookalikes, and Unpublished Posts to Target Customers and Similar Users

How to use unpublished posts as Facebook Ads

I used to be extremely critical of Facebook Ads in the past.  But that’s before Facebook released a boatload of functionality for enhancing your campaigns.  Sure, marketplace ads, or ads running the right sidebar, have seen declining engagement over the years, but that’s just a fraction of what you can do now with Facebook Ads.  And I’m finding many advertisers don’t know about the powerful options available to them.

For example, there’s FBX (or retargeting on Facebook), news feed targeting, mobile-only targeting, promoted posts, custom audiences, lookalike audiences, unpublished posts, etc.  And with this enhanced functionality comes better targeting and performance.  Now, I still think paid search can reach someone who is searching for a specific solution at the exact time they need it, and social advertising can’t do that (yet).  But, using advanced targeting within Facebook can absolutely make an impact, and on multiple levels.

In this post, I’m going to explain one method of using three pieces of functionality in Facebook Ads that might change your view of social advertising.  It has for me, and I’ve been using this technique for some time now.  It leverages unpublished posts, custom audiences, and lookalike audiences to target your current customers, and users similar to your customers, when you are running a specific promotion or sale.  It’s a great way to make the most of your current assets, and at a relatively low cost.

Meet Unpublished Posts
I find many business owners have no idea what unpublished posts are.  If you fit into this category, then today is your lucky day.  Unpublished posts enable page owners to create page updates that don’t get shared with their entire fan base.  In addition, you can run ads based on the unpublished posts and use a wealth of ad targeting to reach the right audience (which can include current customers).  Interesting, right?

Unpublished posts in Facebook

The easiest way to create an unpublished post is to use Power Editor.  And if you’re running Facebook Ads and not using Power Editor, you should start today.  It offers a lot of functionality and targeting options not available in Ads Manager (which is what advertisers use on Facebook’s website).

By clicking “Manage Pages” in Power Editor, you can actually craft a page post.  But since we want an unpublished post, you can create the update and not publish it.  That’s ultra-important, since we want to use the post as an ad, and not an update that’s broadcast to your entire fan base.

Creating an unpublished post in Facebook using Power Editor.

So, if you’re an ecommerce provider running a specific sale, you could create an update focusing on that sale, with an understanding it will reach a very specific audience (and not every fan).  I’ll cover how to target specific parts of your customer list soon, including people that are similar to those users.  Once you create your post, you can click your account ID in the left pane to return to your ads dashboard (in Power Editor).

Now we’re ready to talk about custom audiences and lookalikes.

Meet Custom Audiences and Lookalikes
I wrote a post earlier in the year about custom audiences in Facebook.  You should read that post to learn how to set them up.  You’ll need a custom audience in order to use the method I’m covering in this post (since that’s the audience you will target, and it’s also the list you will use to create a lookalike audience).

Custom audiences enable you to upload a list of current customers, based on your in-house email list.  Then, Facebook will match up the list with users on the social network.  Yes, you read that correctly.  That means you can target your in-house email list (or parts of that list) via Facebook Ads.  Awesome, right?

Using Custom Audiences in Facebook

Once your custom audience is created, you can use that list to target current customers with specific promotions and sales.  And you can use unpublished posts to reach them.  Did you catch that?  I said unpublished posts.  That means getting your targeted promotion in front of your current customers (whether they are fans of your page or not).

Great, but what’s a lookalike?
Lookalike audiences enable you to base a new audience (set of Facebook users) on a custom audience (your current customers).  Facebook reviews a number of characteristics about your custom audience (your current customer base), and then finds people similar to your customers.  Yes, once again, eye-opening targeting opportunity ahead.

Imagine you had five custom audiences set up, all containing specific customers for specific categories of products.  Then you could use lookalikes to find similar people (which you can then target via Facebook Ads).  The old days of Facebook ads seem so caveman-like, right?  :)

How To Set Up Lookalikes
Once you have set up a custom audience (following my tutorial), then you can easily select that audience in Power Editor, and choose “Create Similar Audience”.  Choose “Similarity” in the dialog box and Facebook will find users that are similar to your in-house list (based on a number of criteria).  It could take up to 24 hours to create the list, but I’ve seen it take much less time than that (especially for smaller lists).

Using Lookalike Audiences in Facebook

Combining Unpublished Posts, Custom Audiences, and Lookalikes
OK, we have covered unpublished posts that contain targeted messages about new promotions or sales.  We have also covered custom audiences based on our in-house email list.  And, we have covered lookalike audiences, which enable us to target similar people to our own customers.  Now we are ready to tie them together.

1. Create a New Campaign
In Power Editor, you can create a new campaign and set the campaign parameters like name, budget, etc.

Creating a new Facebook campaign in Power Editor.

2. Create a New Ad
Click the “Ads” tab to create your ad.  Under “Type”, choose “Ad”, and then select the radio button labeled “For a Facebook Page Using a Page Post”.  That will enable you to choose an unpublished post for your ad.

Creating an unpublished post ad in Facebook.

3. Choose a Destination
For “Destination”, choose your Facebook Page.  Note, your page’s image and title will still link users to your page, but the post itself can drive users to the sale landing page on your website.  Your post itself is where you should place the link to your landing page (on your own site).  In addition, you should add tracking parameters to your destination urls for your unpublished post (so you can track each campaign via your analytics package).

Choosing an ad destination for unpublished post ad in Facebook.

4. Select An Unpublished Post
Now, choose your unpublished post to use that post as the actual ad.  Note, you can also create your unpublished post at this stage (using Power Editor).  That’s a nice feature that was recently added.

Selecting a page post for an unpublished post ad in Power Editor.

5. Choose your placement:
OK, how awesome is this?  You get to choose where your unpublished post shows up.  For example, in the News Feed (Desktop and Mobile).  This is the most powerful placement in my opinion.  Your ads will show up directly in someone’s news feed versus along the right side.

Choosing ad placement for unpublished post in Power Editor.

6. Choose Your Targeting
Under “Audience”, you can choose targeting, based on the goals of your campaign.  Note, this is not where you will choose your custom or lookalike audience, although the tab is titled “Audience”.  You can choose location, age, gender, etc. if you want more granular targeting than just the custom audiences we created earlier.

Choosing ad targeting for unpublished post in Power Editor.

7. Choose Your Audience (Yes, this is what we’ve been waiting for.)
Under “Advanced Options”, you’ll notice the first field is titled “Custom Audiences”.  If you start typing in that field, your custom audience should show up (based on what you named the audience when you created it).  Once selected, it should show up in the field.  You can leave the rest of the targeting options located below as-is.

Selecting a custom audience for an unpublished post ad in Power Editor.

Clarification Side Note:
To clarify what we’ve been doing, this ad will target your current customer list.  When you create a second campaign, you can choose your lookalike audience.  Then you can run both campaigns and target both your current customer list and people similar to your current customers.   And since they are in separate campaigns, with separate tracking parameters, you can track performance by audience.  Awesome.

8. Select Your Pricing and Status Options
For this example, let’s choose CPC and enter the desired cost per click.  Facebook will provide a suggested CPC to the right.  Once completed, you’re ready to rock.

How to set pricing for an unpublished post ad in Power Editor.

9. Upload Your Campaign
Click “Upload” in Power Editor and your ad will be uploaded to Facebook, where it will need to be approved.  Once approved, you’ll receive a notification that your unpublished post is live.

Uploading an unpublished post ad using Power Editor.

Why this approach works:

1. Exposure and Sharing
By using this approach, you can get your latest sale or promotion in front of your current customers as they browse Facebook, while also providing a great opportunity for that sale or promotion to get shared.  For example a current customer might like your update, and it could hit their friends’ news feeds, which can provide even more exposure and opportunities to land new customers.

2. Engagement
Even though the unpublished post is technically an ad, it still looks and works like a typical page post update.  That means users can like, share, and comment on the post.  And yes, users often do like and comment on unpublished post ads.  Remember, the unpublished post ad is hitting users’ news feeds (both desktop and mobile), so there is a strong chance they will be exposed to your ad.   And if it’s crafted well, then there’s a chance that a certain percentage of that audience will engage with the post. It’s a great way to engage your current customers, while also engaging similar people (via a lookalike audience).

3. Page Likes
Gaining more page likes is an added benefit to using this approach.  Sure, you want people to click through to your sale landing page and buy, but you probably also want more page likes (so you can reach more people with your organic status updates down the line).  I’ve seen unpublished post ads work extremely well for gaining more page likes (across industries).  For example, a recent campaign I launched increased page likes by 7% during a one week period.  Not bad, when you take into account the other benefits from running the campaign (like exposure, sharing, engagement, and sales – which I’ll cover next).

4. Sales (and other important conversions)
Using this approach can yield a low CPA, high ROAS method for increasing sales for specific promotions.  I’ve run campaigns where the CPC was under $0.40 per click, and depending on the specific campaign, return on ad spend (ROAS) can be extremely strong.  For example, 2000 clicks at $0.40 per click is $800.  A conversion rate of 2.0% and an average order value of $75 would yield $3000 in revenue and 275% ROAS.  That’s just a small and quick example, but unpublished page post ads could yield a shot in the arm pretty quickly.

And from a B2B standpoint, with average order values typically much higher than B2C, the ROAS could be even greater.  Even a handful of sales could generated thousands (or tens of thousands) of dollars in revenue.  For example, a recent campaign I launched for a client focused on items starting at $1000 (and some were up to $5000 per item).  Even one sale at $5K based on the campaign I mentioned before would yield a strong ROAS.

And let’s not forget other important micro-conversions on your website.  For example, newsletter signups, which can be a great driver of revenue for any ecommerce provider, app downloads, requests for more information, etc. all fall under this category and can start forging a relationship between prospective customers and your business.

What’s the Downside?
OK, I love using this approach, but social advertising brings some unique challenges with it.  Since what we’ve covered is an actual page post, and not a straight ad, users can interact with it.  That means both positive and negative interaction can occur.  For example, you might have some unhappy customers post their negative feedback in the unpublished page post ad.  How you deal with that situation is for another post, but I always recommend addressing the problem directly (in the post).  But again, there are several situations that can arise, and I’ll try and address them in a future post.  Just keep in mind that users can comment, and those comments might not always be positive.

The Power of Unpublished Posts, Custom Audiences, and Lookalikes
After reading this post, I hope you better understand the power of using unpublished posts along with custom audiences and lookalike audiences.  Unfortunately, the features and functionality I covered in the post are not readily apparent to many Facebook advertisers.  And that’s a shame, since they can be extremely effective for businesses looking to engage current customers and new audiences, while also increasing sales.  I recommend testing this approach soon to see if it can be effective for your business.

You can start today. Create a custom audience, create a lookalike audience, and use Power Editor to create unpublished post ads.  You may never look back.  :)

GG

 

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

How To Find Keywords Triggering Product Listing Ads Using AdWords and Google Analytics [Includes a Custom Report for PLA’s]

If you’re an ecommerce retailer, then you have probably heard of Product Listing Ads in Google AdWords.  Product Listing Ads (PLA’s) are powerful ad units that enable you to display image thumbnails in the search results for products you sell on your site.  As you can imagine, the visual nature of the ads yield more ad real estate and can greatly help with click-through rate (since the ads are hard to overlook.)  And with the holidays quickly approaching, standing out from your competitors is an important aspect to landing new customers.

Here is a screenshot of product listings ads in action:
Interested in a Keurig Coffee Maker? I bet the ads on the right will catch your eye.
Product Listing Ads for Keurig Coffee Makers


Are you looking for a new golf driver? Again, the PLA’s on the right will probably catch your attention:

Product Listing Ads for Golf Drivers

Google Shopping Goes Commercial
This past spring, Google announced that Google Product Search was moving to a full commercial model and would be called Google Shopping.  No longer would you be able to have your product ads show up for free (blended in the organic search results).  Google originally set a target deadline of October 1st, 2012 for the transition so ecommerce retailers could get familiar with product listings ads (which would be the mechanism for displaying products in the search results).  The ads would be cost per click-based (CPC), like PLA’s have always been.

This was a big move for Google, as many ecommerce retailers relied on shopping results to gain free clicks to their sites from prospective customers searching for products.  Now, in order to have similar results, those ecommerce retailers would need to pay.  Therefore, many ecommerce retailers jumped on board the product listing ads bandwagon (as they should).

Google Shopping Transitions to Commercial Model

Optimization is Important
When you run product listing ads, you don’t bid on keywords.  Instead, Google reviews your merchant center feed and then matches your ads with queries that it believes are relevant.  In my experience, there are times I see Google displaying product listing ads for queries that aren’t directly tied to the product at hand, or that are more category-driven.  This can yield untargeted visitors, higher costs, and lower ROI.  And that’s exactly what you don’t want in SEM.  Therefore, it’s important to optimize your product listing ads campaigns over time in order to increase performance.

It’s Hard to Determine Out of the Box
Given what I listed above, where do you find the keywords triggering your product listing ads?  Unfortunately, they aren’t so easy to find out of the box.  In addition, finding the keywords triggering your ads also depends on how you set up and structured your product listing ads campaigns.  For example, are you using product targets to segment your merchant feed, are you lumping all products in one ad group, etc?

Today, I’m here to help.  I’m going to list two ways to find the keywords triggering your product listing ads and I’ll include a bonus custom report at the end of this post that provides even more information for you to analyze.  Let’s get started.

Two Ways to Find Keywords Triggering Your Product Listing Ads
1. The AdWords UI
The first place you can find the keywords triggering your product listing ads is in the AdWords UI (managing your campaign on the web).  First, click the campaign holding your product listing ads (which should be a campaign that’s separate from your other search or display network campaigns).  Then click the “Keywords” tab.

Keywords Tab in Google AdWords

Next, click “Keyword Details”, and finally “All”.  This will reveal all the raw search queries that have triggered your product listing ads and that drove traffic to your site (by ad group).  Then you can adjust the columns in the report and export the report to Excel.

Matched Search Queries for Product Listing Ads in AdWords


2. AdWords Reporting in Google Analytics (Match Search Queries + Second Dimension)
The second way you can find the queries triggering your product listing ads is to access your AdWords reporting in Google Analytics.  You can click the “AdWords” tab, and then the “Matched Search Queries” link to view all matched search queries for your campaigns.  Then, you can add a second dimension for “Ad Group” to view a list of raw search queries by ad group.  This is extremely powerful if you segmented your merchant feed using product targets (as mentioned earlier).  For example, imagine viewing all raw search queries by major brand, product type, etc.

Viewing Matched Search Queries for Product Listing Ads in Google Analytics

Next, you will need to filter this report based on your naming convention for product listings ads in AdWords.  That’s because the report will initially contain all ad groups and matched search queries (and not just queries for your product listing ads).  You can use the filter box in your reporting to filter your ad groups to isolate the ad groups for your product listing ads.  For example, if your ad groups for product listing ads begin with “PLA”, then you can filter the report to select ad groups that contain “PLA” in the title.  When you do this, you will be left with all of your ad groups for product listing ads and the matched search queries that have driven traffic to your site.  Then you can export this report to Excel for further analysis.

Filtering Product Listing Ads in Google Analytics

 

Bonus: Product Listing Ads Custom Report in Google Analytics
All of what I listed above works well, and can be extremely useful, but there’s a quicker way to drill into this data.  You can use custom reporting in Google Analytics to create a new report that enables you to drill into campaign, ad group, raw search query, and then landing page by query.  Sounds awesome, right?

Well, I’ve built that report and provided a link to it below (so you can use it for your own campaigns).  If you are logged into your Google Analytics account, then clicking the link will launch the report in your account (just the structure, not the data).  Then you will need to tailor the report structure for your own campaigns.  For example, I created the report to isolate a campaign with “PLA” in the name.  You’ll need to identify your own product listing ads campaigns based on your own naming convention.

Once you do, you’ll be able to drill into your campaign, ad groups within that campaign, matched search queries per ad group, and then the landing page from each query.  The report will enable you to quickly identify negatives to use per ad group, and will help you double check landing pages per query.   Note, the landing page (destination URL) is based on your merchant center feed, and depending on the retailer, there can be thousands or tens of thousands of products in a feed.  It’s always good to double check the destination URL’s to make sure the right queries lead to the right product listing ads, which lead to the right product detail pages.  If not, you could be shooting yourself in the foot.

Click the link to access the product listing ads custom report I built.

Summary – Make the Most of Your Product Listing Ads
As I mentioned earlier, product listing ads are a powerful ad unit for ecommerce retailers.  And now with Google Shopping moving to a full commercial model, it’s critically important for retailers to get a handle on their PLA’s.  You can use the methods I provided above to find the search queries triggering your ads and driving prospective customers to your site.  In addition, you can use the custom report I provided to drill into your campaigns, ad groups, keywords, and landing pages.  Then it’s up to you to analyze your newly-found reporting in order to refine your efforts.  And that’s the name of the game in SEM.

Have a killer holiday season.

GG