3-Step eCommerce Advertising Strategy to 10x Your Business With Paid Media

February 2, 2021

A real media buying strategy backed by eCommerce sales data from paid ads. Learn how to get 1,000,000+ traffic, 100,000+ leads, and 20,000+ customers using proven strategies and tactics. This ecommerce advertising strategy is not ideal for all businesses.

It’s designed for eCommerce businesses that want to consistently and profitably scale traffic.

In fact, it’s the exact marketing strategy we used to generate over $400k/mo revenue from Facebook and Google Ads channels for one eCommerce brand:

Total sales

THIS is the paid advertising strategy to 10x your eCommerce business in 2021 and beyond.

Then read on to see how to create your own marketing strategy and scale your eCommerce customers from digital advertising.

The First Spark Digital Media Buying Strategy: Sales Focused eCommerce Advertising (Without SEO)

Waiting for SEO (search engine optimization) traffic to come and pay your bills on its own is not a strategy for growth. You could be waiting a long time for the ROI to realize itself before your store ever starts to appear in Google’s search results.

On the other hand, paid online advertising puts you in control over your traffic flow and gives you actionable data to increase profit

That’s why nothing beats a paid advertising strategy that focuses on sales while reducing acquisition costs. A strategy that works to get consistent traffic with compounding customers day in and day out.

Here’s what that strategy looks like:

paid advertising strategy
Note: These funnels also tend to increase sales from direct traffic and search engine traffic by increasing your brand’s visibility and awareness overall.

Scaling your online store is about using data to find ways to lower or maintain acquisition costs as you increase your Ad spend and expand to new channels.

Your sales and marketing are typically the highest marginal costs and thus your most significant roadblock to scaling.

That’s why you need a clear media buying strategy to create ad campaigns that bring in profitable traffic consistently.

So, with this strategy, you’ll run quicker, more accurate tests and gain a larger customer base from paid traffic.

Then, you’ll use what you learn to optimize your other conversion channels like email, referrals, influencer marketing, AND organic sources like SEO.

Our 3-Step Advertising Strategy to Get eCommerce Traffic That Converts

There are three steps to execute this strategy:

Step 1: Make Your Website A Strong Sales-Closing Hub

Your website’s ability to convert paid traffic directly affects your acquisition cost. It requires continual conversion optimization improvements in your marketing, branding, site design, and offers.

Step 2: Optimize Acquisition on Core Channels

For most eCommerce companies, Facebook/Instagram and Google will be the largest source of potential customers. You’ll want to focus on optimizing your funnels on each of these channels, or whichever channels are driving the most traffic and sales. Keep in mind that social media shoppers often go to Google to make a purchase after seeing an ad in their feed.

Step 3: Expand Reach Through Ads Experiments

Unlock further growth and continue expanding your reach with winning ad campaigns to grow your customer base. First, use ad experiments on the core channels with new demographic and geographic targeting. Then, launch campaigns on additional ad channels like Pinterest,  Snapchat, and TikTok to hit customers on their preferred platform and across their entire journey.

Step 1: Make Your Website A Strong Sales-Closing Hub

Making it so that your website reliably and automatically converts customers is the first step to scaling investment in paid media.

A website with clear messaging that’s built to convert your target customer is the foundation for a successful ad campaign. You need to start where the conversions happen.

Mejuri is a jewelry brand that shows what a sales-closing website with a good customer experience looks like. Their website does a great job pairing a simplistic layout with engaging design elements throughout.

Notice how the grid layout of product images shows the customer exactly what the product looks like on its own and when worn by a model.

Make Your Website A Strong Sales-Closing Hub sample
The minimal design includes a tab for customer reviews and a website “Help” chat in the bottom right to offer further support to shoppers on the site.

They also help guide the customer to purchase with an eye-catching solid black ‘Add To Bag’ button. Another conversion booster on this page is an option to pay in multiple installments with Klarna if the price point is too high for the customer.

Mejuri’s product detail pages also have info about the materials, how to wear, size/dimensions, shipping, product care:

Make Your Website A Strong Sales-Closing Hub sample 2

All of these tell the customer things they’d want to know about the product before buying it. With the additional customer service option if they need more help.

Social proof tends to go a long way toward selling products online. Mejuri has customer reviews and social media proof from Instagram on the product detail page:

customer reviews

Notice how Mejuri manages to provide all this information without making the design look cluttered or overwhelming to the eye? It’s this combination of beautiful branding that also addresses common customer questions and objections that helps to encourage a high conversion rate.

Once a customer adds to the cart, it’s easy and straightforward to check out via a variety of payment methods:

add to cart

Your website is more likely to close sales if it’s user-friendly and provides customers with the answers to all their common questions.

Mejuri’s example shows that you can answer every potential question and concern your target customer would want to know about while still keeping the design simple and engaging.

The bottom line: Tailor each step of the funnel consistently according to the customer persona you’re targeting, in as few steps as possible:

Your Ad > Key Converting Page > Cart > Checkout

The more consistent and customized the journey the better performance you will generally get.

Getting this right can work to your advantage. Many of your competitors will struggle to tailor the experience to their target customers.

The simplicity of your funnel depends on how simple or complex the product is.

For example, you most likely will drop people off at a product page for a simple product like clothing.

However, you may drop people off at a landing page for something like Apple Airpods, which require a bit more consideration as a purchase when compared to clothing, before driving them to the product page.

Here’s the experience for Apple Airpods via Google Paid Ad…

Apple Airpod Landing Page

….which is different than the product page:

Apple Airpod Product Page

So the funnel could be simple (direct to the product page) or include both if the product needs more explanation.

These examples show how an eCommerce website that’s fit to scale through paid traffic (whether your store’s on Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento, Woocommerce, or another platform) needs to meet two simple criteria:

1. Simple conversion path. The number of steps it takes between someone landing on your website and checking out should be as few steps as is possible. The ideal conversion path for e-commerce depends on the product but ideally is between one to two visits. From an ad > key converting page > add to cart > checkout.

2. Optimized conversion path. Optimizing your conversion rate involves simplifying the conversion path, as above, and optimizing the conversion path’s touchpoints. It’s a continual process that helps turn your website into a purchase-driving machine.

1. Create your simplified website conversion path

First, map out your current path (or paths) to conversion. If you can see how the whole system is working, you can pinpoint and fix any bottlenecks.

For eCommerce, this conversion path is usually more direct and more accurate to review as a result:

eCommerce Sales Funnel Example

In contrast, industries like SaaS often have more complex funnels. The problem is that long trial periods and multi-step sales processes at each touchpoint create the potential for a leaky funnel with less accurate data:

Ecommerce SAAS Funnel example

When there are more than a few key indicators along the conversion path, CRO gets a lot trickier.

If you’re at a SaaS company reading this: think about making your website SaaS sales funnel “self-service” like a B2C eCommerce funnel is “self-service.”

One SaaS that’s doing this right is BuddyPunch. Their primary indicator for traffic that goes on to convert is the segment that completed the app’s tutorial Wizard:

BuddyPunch has visibility on who completes a wizard and the channel they came from in their analytics. They saw which channels delivered more qualified leads. Google was better than Bing in this case.

The bottom line: For the best possible results in eCommerce and SaaS alike, make the conversion path as easy to track and analyze as possible.

2. Optimize your website’s conversion rate

The conversion rates on your online storefront and your funnels affect your profitability.

You’ll continue to use your learnings from ads to create messaging, design, and ad creative that converts more traffic.

For instance, Copper Moon Coffee paired their investment in ads with continued investment in conversion rate optimization and web design:

Coppermoon Product Page

By consistently optimizing their design and conversion rates, they raised their overall conversion rate from 200% during 2020:

online store conversion rate 2020

Once you see results from optimizations, it’s easy to justify continuing the process. Copper Moon is still improving, and they increased their conversion rate in 2021 by 57% compared to Q1 the previous year:

The bottom line: By being aligned with your target audience and their behaviors, you will create a more robust sales-closing hub.

That robustness will help to lower your acquisition cost by converting more of your traffic from paid ads.

Step 2: Optimize Acquisition on Core Channels

The challenge with advertising on platforms like Facebook and Google is the harsh competition.

It takes diligence to create, monitor, and test campaigns that lower your acquisition costs. It’s a lot of moving parts.

We do it by analyzing data from metrics, ad creative, audiences, and ad channels. Google Data Studio is the tool we use to track everything and find valuable insights:

Google Data Studio
Our Google Data Studio dashboard: Gathering this level of data is key to see a return from LTV at a sustainable rate.

We track most of the metrics in Google Data Studio, then track LTV through Google Analytics.

While optimizing LTV:CAC is critical, optimizing the payback period for LTV ensures you have the cash to scale up customers through scaling up ad spend continually.

Facebook ads metrics

We call this payback period the “Custom Value” (CV). For instance, the return from LTV after 60 (CV60) days or 90 days (CV90).

1. Establish Metric benchmarks and metric goals

Do you know and understand your core eCommerce business metrics (CAC, COGS, LTV, margins, payback period, etc.)? You need to establish metric benchmarks and metric goals based on those benchmarks.

Assuming you’re already running ads, this data is available to gather from Facebook and Google.

eCommerce Benchmark Metrics:

  1. CPA – average cost per purchase
  2. ROAS – average return on ad spend
  3. AOV – average order value
  4. CAC – average customer acquisition cost
  5. LTV – average long term customer value
  6. CV 60/90 – average value of a customer over a 60 and 90 day period

Stay on top of your numbers and take action to improve them throughout this process. What you’re going to do for this strategy is regulate CPA to improve ROAS. Track how everything is working in a spreadsheet like this one:

organized data sample
Organize your data to set goals, track performance, and find opportunities to create more profit.

Looking at the metrics holistically gives you a clear indication of where to put your ad spend and create real growth.

2. Scale ad creative to optimize CPA

Your audience will surprise you with the ad creative they like best. There’s a natural creative lifecycle before campaigns run out of juice:

The ad creative lifecycle

You’ll develop new ad creative on a rolling basis to find new winners. That’s how you find repeatable, scalable campaigns to build your list and grow your audience.

We regularly analyze campaigns and line up new ad creative based on what we find.

This means testing new ad creative variations each month for different parts of the funnel (the number varies depending on ad spend). We’re testing new designs and copy at least every other month.

We test: Creative Messaging Types

  • Pain Point Driven
  • Benefit Driven
  • Feature Driven
  • Testimonials

Creative Style Types

  • Product shot
  • People’s faces
  • Testimonial Quote
  • Illustration

Creative Format Types

  • Static image
  • Carousel
  • Slideshow/video
  • Story

What you’re doing is testing what type of ad content, offers, and messaging work best to attract new leads to your company.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean what they tested will work best for YOU. To find what works best for you, you’re going to brainstorm and prioritize what ad creative to run using this creative development and testing process:

Ad Creative Production Process

ad creative production process

Here are the barebones of this ad creative production process:

  1. Develop the Concept
  2. Draft the Concept
  3. Produce Creative + Variants
  4. Test the Creative
  5. Deploy and Monitor Creative

It would take too long to detail the above here, download our Ad Creative SOP to see how to execute each week of the production process.

Repeating this process over the course of a year is how you continue to find winners and get closer to your initial metric goals.

3. Get to your channel-specific metric goals

Use your ongoing ad creative iterations in the right campaign structures to bring the right people to your eCommerce store. Nail these marketing strategies and you nail growth.

Many inexperienced eCommerce marketers try Facebook Ads for a while and give up once they see the acquisition costs are too high or they’re not getting enough conversions.

The problem is that they’re going straight for a sale, pitching products to prospects. They should be testing out different ad creative and offers for each step of the funnel. These advertisers are often underutilizing Google Ads to capture the branded searches generated from their Facebook Ads as well.

Typically your biggest early growth from paid ads will be through your Facebook/Instagram and Google ads funnels, as they have the audience numbers and broad markets.

That’s why first, you’ll optimize performance on these two core paid digital marketing channels. Then, you’ll expand to other social media platforms like Pinterest, Snapchat, or whatever marketing channels your customers are on in the next step.

Optimize Your Facebook Ads Funnel

Facebook Ads Funnel

TOFU (Top of Funnel): Awareness Campaigns targeting your Lookalike audience and saved audiences to get new prospects based on targeting interests, demographics, location, and other relevant targeting categories.

In this stage, we’re focusing on increasing awareness of your product, building a retargeting list, and growing traffic and engagement on your site.

TOFU Objectives:

  1. Brand Awareness
  2. Reach
  3. Traffic
  4. Video Views
  5. Messages

TOFU Ad Types:

  1. Video ads
  2. Collection ads
  3. Image ads
  4. Carousel ads
  5. Instant Experience ads

Here’s an example of a Top of Funnel Ad displayed on Instagram Story from the company Rise Brewing Co.

Top of Funnel Ad from Rise Brewing Co

MOFU (Middle of Funnel): Consideration stage retargeting campaigns that feature creative to draw people into the product.

In this stage, we’re looking to nurture the customer by providing a mixture of product benefits, customer testimonials, and features. Retargeting people who might’ve interacted with our ad either through a click, video view, or a page visit (Instagram or Facebook page).

MOFU Objectives:

  • Traffic
  • Engagement
  • Lead Generation
  • Messages
  • Conversions

MOFU Ad Types:

  • Image ads
  • Carousel ads
  • Video ads
  • Paired with lead magnets and landing pages
Example of MIddle of Funnel Ad for Komuso Design

BOFU (Bottom of Funnel): Conversion campaigns that maximize the conversion potential of the audiences we’ve built.

Here we’re trying to close, maximize customer value, and encourage repeat purchases through campaigns that speak to the most aware audience farthest down the conversion path.

BOFU Objectives:

  • Conversions
  • Catalog Sales
  • Store Traffic

BOFU Ad Types:

  • Image ads
  • DPA (Dynamic Product Ads)
  • Carousel ads

In the example below, the customer has most likely visited a PDP (product page) or even added the product to their cart. We’re leveraging a discount at this point to close the sale and help them get over that final hurdle in the purchase process.

Optimize Your Google Ads Funnel

Marketers generally know that Google Search Ads tend to capture users with high purchase intent. Especially users searching for your specific brand.

However, you can use Search Ads with other Google campaign types like Display Ads, Discover, and Shopping Ads to retarget previous website visitors and attract prospects to generate demand.

Not to mention, YouTube is owned by Alphabet/Google and is the 2nd biggest search engine after Google. This makes it another great paid channel to create awareness with YouTube ads.

TOFU Campaigns: Intent-driven campaigns to reach new prospects with engaging content

  • TOFU Display ad campaigns
  • TOFU Video campaigns
  • TOFU Discovery ads
  • TOFU Search campaigns
Tofu ad example

MOFU KW’s: Non-Branded campaigns to edge in against your competitors and capture their demand from warm audiences.

  • MOFU Search campaigns
  • MOFU Remarketing campaigns
  • MOFU Display and Video ads
Tofu Campaigns example

BOFU KW’s:  Campaigns showing high purchase intent.

  • BOFU Search campaigns
  • BOFU Remarketing campaigns
  • RLSA campaigns for the BOFU stage
Bofu Search Campaigns

Note: We’ve seen more than a few eCommerce stores that run Google Shopping Ads for their products without optimizing their product feed. You want to optimize your Google Shopping Feed to take advantage of Shopping Ads.

Optimizing your core target audience on these core channels will take some time. Think in 12-month terms. You’ll drive growth at each step along the way as long as your business numbers and goals make sense.

Step 3: Expand Reach Through Ads Experiments

A framework for eCommerce growth is incomplete without taking opportunities for expansion into account.

Once you create profitable growth through the core channels, it’s time to use some resources to expand your audiences on both those core channels AND new expansion channels.

Use the same ad creative production process to create ad experiments for new audiences on Facebook + Google.

You’ll also drive significant demand from channels like Pinterest, Snapchat, and other channels where the audience for your product hangs out.

You expand by targeting new:

  1. Geography: The same customer personas in new locations
  2. Customer personas: New customer personas or broader customer targeting
  3. Paid ads channels: Ads channels other than Facebook and Google

1. Expand Geography: New Locations

If you’re advertising in an English-speaking market, have you truly exploited every corner of that market?

Once you’ve expanded targeting to local, regional, and country-wide audiences, you can start to target new countries that you’re able to ship your goods to. (For a U.S. company, this means advertising in the UK and Canada too.)

First Spark Results: Adding countries like Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom helped Komuso increase their revenue while seeing significantly lower CPA’s (in some cases they saw a 25% reduction in CPA when compared to identical top of funnel campaigns in the U.S.)

2. Expand Demographics: New Personas

As we mentioned earlier, it works better to fully optimize for your core target customer before moving on to new personas or broader targeting.

When you’ve mastered exposure in your core user base, at this point, you can use customer feedback and the data you’ve gained from advertising to evaluate new personas to expand your targeting.

Take the Solo Stove, for instance. They started as a small packable camping stove going after hardcore trekkers.

Now Solo Stove targets the mass market with specially designed bonfire pits that family households and businesses would be interested in. First Spark Results: Copper Moon Coffee enjoyed a 32% reduction in their cost/conv. and higher conversion rates.

3. Expand Channels: Find Your 20% Ads Channels

The First Spark team has thoroughly tested ad platforms including Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Bing, and more over the years. What we’ve found is that they are still evolving platforms with less competition, and you can often find rich opportunities for acquisition.

The difference between Facebook and Google vs these other channels is identifying whether the channel converts well enough to scale.

eCommerce customers will typically arrive from Facebook and Google 80% of the time, while other advertising channels tend to have more specific personas using them (and different methods of reaching those personas).

For example, Pinterest tends to be where women (although the number of men is growing on the platform) interested in lifestyle topics go to “window shop.” So it’s viewed by our team as a great top of funnel platform for generating brand awareness and initial interest. Alternatively, an office furniture company might try to reach work from home professionals, CEOs, and office managers on LinkedIn.

There’s also value in knowing which additional channels don’t work. There’s no point focusing your effort where they don’t bring a return.

Now You Try It

As a business owner, there’s no need to aim to become a practicing expert with Facebook and Google Ads, let alone the other platforms. Instead, you should learn about the frameworks of how they’re used to grow business directly from a high level.

Rather than doing the legwork and figuring this stuff out yourself, outsourcing to the right agency with a proven methodology leads to more predictable outcomes. It’s not “scalable” for you to try and do this strategy in-house or build your company’s own internal agency before seeing success.

With so many moving pieces you really have to outsource from the beginning.

“Mitch and Adam and their team have been crucial to our growth the past year, helping us do 2x what we expected in revenue.” – Todd S.

Once you outsource to an agency, you can actually go viral in your market, then use the returns in time and money from outsourcing ads and invest it in essential areas of your business. This creates a virtuous cycle and true scaling. To get started, grab the swipe file of funnels and ads examples that we use to do it:

[CTA: Download Our Paid Media Ad Examples]

Then get in touch with us to see if we can execute this strategy for your business.

Want Our Help to Implement This Strategy For Your Online Business?

Finding the right agency partner that’s also a “growth partner” is difficult.

Using this strategy as the framework, we want to make it easy for you to hire us as that growth partner and know how we can help you grow your business online over the next 12 months.

First, we’ll consult to make sure you have a solid sales-closing eCommerce site.

Next, we’ll start running ads and scale them to bring in new customers and lower acquisition costs.

Finally, we’ll continue to expand your customer base by finding new opportunities to promote your eCommerce business to different audience targets and different channels.

What you need to be successful:

1. Already have an online business at an initial scale stage.

2. Be willing to spend at least $10k per month on paid media.

3. A long-term mindset: you need to be willing and have the patience to follow our strategy over the long term, knowing the ad funnels we set up will get you a consistent flow of leads and customers for years to come.

If you meet that criteria and are serious about wanting to become a market-leading business, book a Zoom call below with us or our team, where we’ll discuss your offer, ad budget, and what campaigns we can come up with for you.

Book My Free Strategy Call Now

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