11 Ways to Grow your e-Commerce Store using Facebook
As an online merchant, Facebook is a huge opportunity for you. If you are are not using the platform then you are missing out on a valuable & profitable opportunity for your business. The three main reasons you need to be using Facebook today are:
- It still represents a great growth opportunity - don't ignore the shear scale of 1.2 billion people (and growing).
- Facebook never sleeps & once you have the machine up and running - there is nothing better than waking up in the morning eager to check how many sales occurred overnight.
- It is a place where you can build a loyal and engaged community who are more than happy to share your content and thereby recommend you to their friends.
There are two complementary ways to take advantage of Facebook as a growth opportunity for your e-Commerce business. The first is to use a nurturing and engaging content strategy to build up a community of fans. This will cost you nothing, just time, patience and commitment. The second way is to use Facebook's many paid advertising products to help you fast track that growth. In this blog post I shall be discussing both, providing a few examples of e-commerce stores that are doing it well and hopefully if you follow some or all of the following strategies you will have a positive effect on both your Facebook presence and your stores bottom line.
1. Put the Effort in
If you want to succeed on Facebook then you had better be prepared to put some effort in and create good content. Facebook indirectly rewards those who create really engaging posts because of their news feed algorithm. If someone has not shown any interest in your page for a while then Facebook begins to filter you out from their news feed (the same applies to your friends - not just to business pages). So by sharing great, engaging content you are more likely to get some level of interaction from fans and this will mean that any subsequent posts you make over the coming period is more likely to show up in their news feed and therefore be seen by them.
Check out the two images below. ZBoard are a great e-Commerce store that sell electric skateboards. Their Facebook posts are really engaging. Within 4 days of each other they have a cool Back to the Future themed post followed in quick succession by a great Call of Duty themed post from Italy. Talk about posts that make you want to click 'like'! The only thing I would critique about these two posts is the lack of a call to action. Try and include a link back to your store where possible.
Great content will always be the best way to get people to engage with you on Facebook.
2. Use Compelling Images
According to Hubspot research last year, photos on Facebook generate 53% more likes and 104% more comments than the average post. Take the time to source and find great images for your posts as they will have a big impact on your engagement levels. On top of the staple of Google Images, places like Pinterest or Flickr can be super places to be inspired and find great images. Consider also using something like Google Alerts to keep you informed if someone posts anything online to do with your brand. This can be another great source of highly relevant images. 403x403px is the optimal image size for Facebook page posts. Try if at all possible to use images of this size otherwise they can get cropped. If you need access to a quick free image editing tool then Pixlr is excellent for a quick fix.
3. Ask Questions
Try mixing things up every now and then. Don't always post the same type of posts. A good variation from your typical post is to ask a question. Try asking something either thought provoking, inspiring or another great option is to ask for help / advice. In the example alongside, I love how DODOcase have asked the question about where they should stock their products. They are both encouraging fans to get involved and engage with them but at the same time conducting some valuable research. Other types of great questions you can ask include:Either / Or questions. Yes / No questions. Ask an opinion.
Try and ask a question that is easy to answer. Also, try and always include a relevant image to maximise engagement. The best thing to do is to experiment and see what type of questions your audience responds to.
Encourage engagement AND do some market research at the same time by asking questions.
4. Discuss Current Events
Another great way to organically engage your fan base on Facebook is to be timely and relevant to what is going on in their lives. Most brands do this quite well but it is worth remembering as it is something you can prepare for.
For example, if thanksgiving is approaching why not make the effort to create a great post with that upcoming theme in mind.
They told me to let the Turkey chill before putting it the oven.
5. Showcase your Employees
Make your e-commerce store more personable and more human by showcasing your employees. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, just put them out there to say hello! People like to deal with people and adding that human face to your Facebook page will make fans more engaged. Don't be afraid to put your face on your page!
6. Get Customers Involved
Find ways to either display your customers using your products or to get them posting pictures to your page. This will add an element of social proof to what you are doing. If potential customers are having doubts (maybe due to trust issues) seeing other customers using your products will alleviate those fears. A great way to kickstart this is to run a competition or a giveaway where the only way to enter is to post a picture to your Facebook page. Plant the initial seed and then be sure and nurture it. Any opportunity that arises to ask a customer to send you a picture / post a picture to your Facebook page and you should be seizing it.
7. Use it for Customer Service
Inevitably customers will post customer service issues on your Facebook page. Assuming your customer service is top notch then you should be brave enough to tackle it there and then. Don't always try and divert it off site to an email address. It is important to be personable, timely and responsive. There is a great example of Facebook customer service below where the whole issue was resolved and the customer placed a new order within twenty minutes. You won't always have the luxury of being able to email the customer (you often won't know who it is from their Facebook name) so be prepared to resolve things openly and publicly. Try it, it lets other customers see what great service you provide.
Timely. Responsive. Personable.
All of the suggestions so far have been ways to stimulate organic growth for your page. Facebook is a wonderful platform where you can reach huge amounts of potential customers, however you must realise that if you want to accelerate your growth then it is not free. For maximum reach and exposure you should consider utilising some of their paid ad products. Facebook has a great selection of ads you can utilise and some awesome targeting options that you can take advantage of and I shall quickly outline them below.
8. Promote your Page
You need to have 50 fans before you can use any of the other products so if you have less I would definitely recommend promoting your page to try and get more likes. Don't just promote it to the whole country though, make the extra effort to focus your campaign on people who are likely to have an interest in your business. What's the point in having thousands of fans with no interest in anything you do?
9. Create Ads Targeting your Fans
Targeting your existing fans is a great place to start. The reason to do this is that not all of them see your posts. By paying to reach them you give them an opportunity to interact with your page again and if they take it, then your organic posts will be more likely to reach them again. Another great reason to start with your existing fans is that you create a benchmark response rate. You cannot reasonably expect an unknown to react better to your advertising than someone who is familiar with your brand. If your future ads are getting almost as good a response rate then you should be happy that you are targeting a group of interested people with the potential to become great customers.
If your fan base numbers in the hundreds rather than the thousands, consider changing this to 'friends of fans' to get broader reach.
There are two main ad types to be aware of. They are right hand side ads (smaller & appear only on desktop) and news feed ads (larger & also on mobile). Both have advantages and I could create a whole blogpost discussing them however in brief:
Right hand side ads are good for reaching wide audiences and for testing copy & images. They tend to be cheaper to purchase than news feed ads however have much lower engagement rates.
News feed ads are larger so the image is much more important. They also feature on mobile so be sure the link goes to a mobile friendly page. You also have more room to get your message across so be sure and work on your copy. You can expect to pay considerably more per click from a news feed ad so put the effort into creating a focused target audience. See the image below for optimal image sizes & copy restrictions.
If you can only pick one size, choose 1200x627 as this will work with everything.
10. Use Target Audiences
There are over a billion people on Facebook so be sure and create targeted audiences every time you advertise or you will just be setting light to your ad dollars. The more targeted your adverts are - the more effective they will be. If you target an ad at a million people and they react poorly to it what have you learned? Nothing. That same ad targeted at a highly focused group of around 20-30k Facebook users? When they ignore it you have learned that either you have an issue with your messaging or that they are not interested in your product.
Most e-commerce stores would be better off creating targeted audiences of between 20k and 50k people for their advertising. That way they can easily differentiate what is working and what isn't. When creating an audience be sure and use the 'interests' field. This is probably the most important attribute when it comes to targeting on Facebook and essentially lets you target people who like specific Facebook pages. eg. If you are the electric skateboard company I used as an example at the start then you couldn't go far wrong by targeting people who 'liked' Tony Hawk.
11. Custom & Lookalike Audiences
The final way you can use Facebook to fuel growth of your online store is to take advantage of their custom & lookalike audience options. To create a custom audience you feed in a list of email addresses or phone numbers into Facebook and then they try and find matches on Facebook and then allow you to target that list with an advert. This essentially means you can retarget your past customers with ads. If that custom audience is bigger than 100 people, you then have the option to create a lookalike audience. You choose a country and Facebook then find the 1% of people in that country who are most similar to your customer audience and allow you to target them with ads. This is incredibly effective and a recent Facebook case study showed that people targeted with Lookalike audiences had a 50% higher LTV (lifetime value) than those acquired through standard targeting.
Find more happy faces & watch your business grow.
In my opinion if you set up an advertising campaign correctly there is no such thing as wasted ad spend. You should always be learning something from your advertising - even if that means you are learning that the people who you thought were your potential customers are not interested in your merchandise!
Embedded below is the slide deck I recently used when giving the presentation that inspired this blog post. I hope you find it useful. If you have any other tips or comments please do get involved in the comment field below. Thanks!