Not increasing your bid caps. Not testing more audience interests. Not duplicating ads or ad sets. Not a lookalike stack. Not day-parting. Not excluding the audience network.
The key to running and scaling ecommerce Facebook ads profitably is a …
Consolidated account structure built on campaign budget optimization (CBO) with full-funnel ad creative.
Unlike other guides, this one won’t cover “how to get started” nor how to create new campaigns through prospecting, remarketing, and audience hacks.
Instead, you’ll learn the foundational steps to profitably scaling your Facebook advertising backed by annual spends of …
You’ll also get 27 real-world examples so you can see how those ads work in the wild. Finally, we’ll tackle the one thing that will help your campaigns out-perform competitors — full-funnel creative.
Here’s how we’ll get there …
Even better … we’ve created a Consolidated Ad Account Cheat Sheet and video tutorial, starring your’s truly!
Campaign budget optimization (CBO) should be the de facto, de jure, modus operandi, sine qua non, and any other latin phrases you can think of that means … absolutely non-negotiable foundation of your Facebook advertising.
Instead of recapping, we want to stress one idea:
Each CBO campaign must have a single purpose.
Be intentional and have separate CBOs for either …
Often, you’ll hear well-meaning advice to split up remarketing and prospecting into different campaigns. That structure works great for seasonal events, especially Black Friday social-media campaigns.
Unfortunately, because remarketing performs better than prospecting, Facebook (or, your agency) will allocate spend disproportionately.
If you’re measuring success by single-account ROAS, the fact that you’re re-buying existing customers will get hidden beneath that misleading “success.”
Instead, you want to prospect and remarket in the same campaign. This allows you to experiment and test the effectiveness of selling specific SKUs, offers, and purchase types — i.e., funnels.
Correct set-up also ensures that the majority of your spend takes place outside of Facebook’s Learning Phase; meaning, that you’re putting dollars behind funnels optimized for 50 purchase conversions per week.
Does singularity require one audience or interest stack per campaign? No.
On the contrary, three ad sets — each with three-to-five individual ads — within one CBO campaign gives you room to speak to (1) different interest audiences and (2) stages of that funnel at the ad level.
For example, you could have three ad sets with the following audiences ...
All driving to sell to everyone in one geographic area or pushing a single sale.
The purpose of prospecting is to reach and convert as many qualified people as humanly possible. Or rather, as many qualified people as super-humanly possible.
Enter, the algorithm.
You don’t want to limit the Facebook algorithm when you’re prospecting. Instead, take off as many restraints as possible in your campaigns and let Facebook do what it does best: hunting down purchasers.
If you’ve never heard of a broad audience, it’s basically a lookalike audience (LAL) that trusts Facebook to cast the widest net possible for your target audience.
A broad audience removes limitations on Facebook’s pixel to find customers.
Going broad doesn’t equate to zero targeting. That’s false.
Your Facebook pixel’s job is to go find the right customers for you. (And Facebook’s pixel is really good at its job.) Going broad means you’re taking away any constraint on the pixel’s ability to do what it does best.
If you have a new Facebook pixel but some historical data (past purchasers), it’s likely that you may not find success just going broad.
Instead you should start with a 1-5% LAL of your lifetime customer list.
If your pixel is brand new and you have no historical data, you won’t be able to build a LAL yet. Here, go broad but include an interest stack.
For example, if you sell baby bows in the U.S., try an interest stack like:
Oh, and always check detailed targeting expansion “on.”
Without proper exclusions, you will just be paying to acquire repeat purchasers. With few exceptions, that’s what “owned” channels like email or SMS are for.
Be sure to exclude:
This is a true prospecting audience.
Video ads perform exceptionally well in prospecting. The most compelling video ads instantly get people’s attention, then use storytelling to keep them watching.
In the first three seconds, an effective video ad communicates:
Video ads on Instagram Stories, in particular, often have cheaper CPMs than any other placement. However, this does not mean that you should use Manual Placements for your ads.
Rather, make sure that you select Automatic Placements and include both square (1x1) and vertical (9x16) creatives.
You can upload both aspect ratios into the same ad, and your 9x16 creative will automatically get served in the five Story placements … making your ad native to your consumer’s feed.
If Facebook does its job well, the people viewing your ads should be interested in the stuff you have to sell. Your job is to intrigue potential customers so effectively that they click on your ads.
Just like allowing Facebook to do its thing with broad audiences, use what’s called the Dynamic Ads for Broad Audiences (DABA) strategy — dynamic product ads with automatic placement.
This tells Facebook to automate your creative and product carousels for you. At CTC, we love DABA because a single DPA ad can be dispersed across all ad placements, even Instagram Stories.
The DABA strategy is perfect for products that don’t require a lot of education or stores that have a lot of SKUs. We recommend you try this out if you have a product that gets the message across very effectively in a product online carousel (like fashion or accessories).
Because Facebook’s algorithm cycles through your product catalog, it’s great for gathering data if you’re new to paid ads or getting started with a consolidated ad account structure.
The next piece of your account structure within the overall CBO campaign is Facebook remarketing ads, sometimes called retargeting.
Remarketing ads are served to people who have already visited your website or engaged with your social pages.
With remarketing, you want to answer the questions that are possibly creating a barrier to purchase. Think about why this person is not converting.
Answer those questions and objections in your ad copy and creative.
But don’t answer them on your own. Rather, enlist your current customers to help you (or even your competitors’ customers):
Then, consolidate themes and use these main pain points in your ad text and headlines.
At the same time, once you have their attention, counter those concerns with your creative:
Notice how each brand combines retargeting-buying triggers.
First, Alala: 20% off first purchase, a PR review, and new arrivals to tempt previous visitors. Second, Native: 10% off plus heavy social-proof with 5-star reviews, “2.5 million customers,” and a PR namedrop. Third, APL: a full customer quote and — in place of a discount — “Free 2-Day Shipping & Returns.”
Keep these remarketing ad sets in the same CBO campaign as the broad or prospecting ad set for that specific SKU, creative angle, geography, or offer.
This lets you assess how effective each level of your funnel is for converting a new customer.
Start remarketing within your remarketing window — the “time lag” in which 90% of your consumers are most likely to purchase.
For instance, if the bulk of your purchases happen within the first 30 days of them entering your funnel, then this is your remarketing window.
Your remarketing audience will include:
Be sure to exclude existing customers and all pixel purchasers from the last 180 days. Set up these exclusions within Facebook ads manager at the ad-set level by creating a website custom audience.
Unlike a prospecting ad, by the time a consumer hits the remarketing part of your funnel, they already know about your brand.
Instead of reintroducing them to the brand, your remarketing should go into more detail on value propositions or benefits or your product. Zero in on the one problem your product solves in your customer’s life and why do they need it now.
User generated content can be especially powerful for this.
UGC features your product in the wild. By highlighting the product in an environment that looks exactly like your target customer’s day-to-day, you’re showcasing your product in a highly relatable way.
If you have a hard time soliciting UGC, try sending out an email to your best customers — customers that have purchased from you three times or more. If that doesn’t work, try gift cards in exchange.
Be specific about what you ask for. In fact, you can even send them scripts or briefs to follow so they know the kinds of things they should highlight. Last, make sure they film it vertically on their iphone so that you can use it for 1:1 ads, 4:5 ads, and 9x16 ads.
If you don’t have any customers, incentivize your friends or family with free products or consider hiring an ad creative agency that can do it for you.
(Hint: Common Thread Collective does that, and you can check out some examples as well as pricing on our ad creative page).
For ad creative to be deemed “successful,” ultimately it needs to be hitting your success metric: either cost per acquisition (CPA) or return on ad spend (ROAS).
When launching new ads in new accounts you’re working with an extremely small data set. Therefore, everything is subjective.
The AIDA framework is the only analytical way to measure creative with metrics that are directly correlated to ROAS. AIDA is perhaps the oldest funnel framework in advertising. It stands for ...
As you optimize and iterate on ad parts according to this framework, you improve the overall outcome of your funnel, independent of the performance of a single ad set.
To measure for attention, you want 3-second views. Dividing 3-second views by total impressions will tell you what percent of people your ads are stopping. Of course, you can only measure this for video ads.
Measuring interest is done through average watch time (also only measurable on video ads). Aim for more than three seconds on this one.
Desire is about your outbound click-through rate. You want to know what percent of people are actually clicking through your ad. Typically, anything above 1% is a great starting point. Then, set your sights on beating your best.
Finally action. This is measured by ROAS and answers the question, “Are we actually driving people to the purchase?”
As you create more ads, always kick off the process by pulling your best performing ad copy. You don’t want to introduce multiple new variables when testing ads, otherwise you won’t know which one had the effect on improved performance.
Pro tip: Ad copy taken from customer reviews or PR quotes might be the best-performing copy you’ll ever write.
Dynamic product ads (DPAs) pulled straight from your Shopify Catalog should be a mainstay in your creative arsenal, because they are sweeping up your lowest hanging customers who are closest to purchasing.
Since DPAs are just that — dynamic — Facebook will pull whatever product your customer was eyeing to create a custom-carousel.
Have a separate CBO campaign for your DPA, and have your DPA audience as follows:
For busy ecommerce business owners, a simplified consolidated ad account structure is a godsend.
Using a consolidated ad account with full-funnel creative allows you to see which parts of your sales funnel are or are not working. No more multiple campaigns to target different audiences and a hundred different ad sets to test creative.
And, no more emotional and strategic swings between extremes.
A lot of brands have a hard time getting Facebook ads to work for them. Most treat it like gambling. They either stumble upon a successful formula, get addicted to the high of low CAC, and run with it until it stops working.
At the opposite end, some dip their toes with a one-off campaign around an event with a small budget, make a bit of profit, then cut their losses while they’re winning.
Thanks to CBO, most of your digital marketing strategy can be condensed into a handful of intentional Facebook ad campaigns: organized based on angle, geography, SKU, or offer.
Beyond having a clean account setup, remember … the one thing that will set you and your brand apart is your creative.
Whether you have a brand new ad account or a seasoned pixel, are brand new to Facebook ads or are an advanced level media buyer, this structure is for you.
Use it to milk what Facebook has gotten so good at offering: an algorithm that will constantly outperform our tinkering, guessing, and exhaustive analyzing.
Oh, and if you haven’t already downloaded the Consolidated Ad Account Cheat Sheet and video tutorial, be sure to grab it here!
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Adrianne Austin is Growth Strategist at Common Thread Collective, where she helps some of the most-recognized DTC brands scale profitably. She’s also “mama to Valor boy,” an investor in Our Spare Change — a social enterprise creating jewelry out of high quality metals — and baked sourdough before the pandemic. If you’d like to connect, reach out to her on Twitter.