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The Power of Relevance and Behavior in Ecommerce

July 3, 2019

Hint: Don't feel like reading? Scroll down and hit play to listen to the audio version of this episode instead.

People are more and more skeptical about how their data gets used by various parties online. There's a lot to be said in favor of skepticism, but I stand firmly by the belief that not all data is bad data. 


There's a difference between manipulating people into taking an action they don’t want to take and simply showing your potential customers the right product, at the right time, in the right context.


For instance... say you're selling jewelry - a nice category of products to buy as a gift for someone you care about.


Is it manipulative to target people who have friends with birthdays coming up in your ads? I don't think it is. I think it's just good product placement.


If I have a friend with a birthday coming up, being shown content that's relevant to that event helps me. It saves me the time it takes to look and look until I find something nice to buy. 


It's convenient and helpful. If what I’m shown isn’t relevant, I simply won’t make a buying decision. Or perhaps if I’m shown something particularly irrelevant, I’ll even go one step forward and report that ad for what it is. 


In the context of relevance, I think having access to consumer data is beneficial to both parties (the seller and the buyer). As long as that data does not identify an individual’s private information (which it currently does not in the context of social media ads), but merely behavior-related stats and numbers, I don’t see any line of ethics being crossed. 


So I'm writing this post to talk a little bit about some of the ways in which you can currently use consumer data to drive purchases through what I consider to be a very ethical, common-sense business practice: remarketing. But more specifically, laser-targeted social media remarketing. 


Laser-focused


Back when I first started running Facebook ads, things worked a little differently. It used to be that the more you’d focus on laser-targeted groups of people and interests, the better your performance would be. But Facebook’s algorithm is changing and getting smarter.


Things work a little differently now when you’re targeting cold audiences. Facebook’s system is getting better at figuring out who the best people are to show ads to with less need from you to pick small, laser-focused interest groups. Lookalikes and other features are becoming more and more important. 


That being said, remarketing has a different purpose than “cold campaigns” (campaigns targeting people who’ve never interacted with your business before). It’s a different stage in the buyer’s journey and as such, requires a different set of tactics.


Laser-focus is still very much the way to go with remarketing, and specifically, behavior-based ads can make a huge difference in the number of people who end up buying from you, out of the pool of people who are currently only just “considering” you.


Behaviors and events


First thing’s first. If you want laser-targeted remarketing ads, you need tracking in place to allow that. Facebook is still my favorite venue for advertising just because of the sheer number of options it comes with that enables you to send just the right message, at just the right time.


To that end, you want to track every action you can on your website: content views, adds to cart, checkouts, purchases, purchase value - all of it.


Once all of this is being tracked, we can then go into our Facebook ads dashboard and create any number of event combinations to segment our audience into small, ultra-specific groups.


For instance…


You can target people based on the value of their purchase. So let’s say you have a big store with lots of products, ranging from cheap to expensive. 


You don’t want to advertise cheap products to your premium buyers, so you can create a custom audience of people whose average order value surpasses an amount of your choosing, then show those particular people ads containing only your best products, all while having the confidence that they can probably afford them.


Key message, incentives, social proof and scarcity 


There’s a short list of principles in marketing that I’ve applied again and again and again over the past 6 years - and they’re not getting any older. In fact, they become more and more effective as I get better at applying them.


Among those (and especially relevant to social media ads), we have incentivized actions, social proof, scarcity and story-telling. 


Your key message is essentially your story. There’s a time and place where you can talk about your story in a lengthy article, interview - or even a book. But you can also use aspects of your story in a much, much shorter format to add an extra layer of personality to your ads.


Take a moment and define what those key messages are that you want to send about your business - they are your motto, your leading principles, your reason for being in business, your unique product’s top selling points.


Pair that message with a strong incentive to take action (perhaps a sale or a giveaway), back your offer up with social proof (large fan base, customer testimonials, reviews, case studies etc), add a touch of scarcity to the recipe (limited-time or limited-amount availability) and you may just have yourself an effective advertisement ready to launch.


Add value, be relevant, be honest - and you can be profitable, too.

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