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The Ultimate Guide On Facebook Ads For eCommerce

Devin Zander 5 years and 1 month ago
The Ultimate Guide On Facebook Ads For eCommerce
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Hey friends!

Patricia from SMART Apps here to shed some useful light on a topic that everyone loves to talk about but hates to execute.

The Facebook Ad.

Since its birth at the end of 2007, Facebook’s advertising platform has generated a hair-raising amount of money for companies across the globe.  The exact number is inconceivable based on the multi-billion dollar revenue the platform generates Facebook quarterly.

So along with this great power comes great responsibility … and uncertainty.

There is no doubt that social media has revolutionized eCommerce and marketing; we are now – easily – able to laser target our audiences and speak with them directly.

The downside is that anyone and everyone is taking part and shoving their virtual bulletins down the throats of trillions of consumers.

Meanwhile, those very same consumers are adapting to these marketing tactics and altering their behavior to cut out the constant bombardment.

On top of trying to stay relevant and grab the attention of your dear customers, Facebook is continuously updating their advertising policies.  Advertising techniques and procedures that once worked are now getting flagged and denied.

My job today is to get you up to date with these policies, illuminate the elusive social media mindset, and dissect 4 different successful Facebook ads for you to use as references.

Facebook’s Tight Grip on Ad Surveillance

Facebook is extremely stringent with their policies, and understandably so.

According to their Community Standards, their top priority is to maintain a safe environment for their users.  Facebook doesn’t tolerate anything that may allude or encourage physical, emotional, and even financial harm

In addition to safety, Facebook also believes in being a platform that stands for voice and equity, so they must work out an even balance of all 3 facets when determining what is appropriate and what isn’t.

Their strong belief’s in their core values and standards are the reason for their extensive ad review process, which can last anywhere from 24-72 hours, sometimes longer.

During this process, Facebook assesses the ads images, text, targeting, positioning and even inspection of the landing page associated with the ad. If none of the inspection points adhere to their standards and regulations, the add will not be approved.

The policies are straightforward, and I have listed a summary of 10 key takeaways that should pertain to your eCommerce business.

Although I am briefly covering the policies in the post, I highly recommend taking the time to read through the full terms and policies yourself since I will not be going over everything.

10 Types of Ad Content that are Prohibited

1. Violation of the Community Standards

As mentioned previously, the three pillars that form the foundation of Facebook are safety, voice, and equity.  A breach of any of these standards will guarantee disapproval and the possibility of a ban.

2. Illegal Products or Services

Ads are not allowed to promote illicit products or services, this includes targeting minors for products or services that are inappropriate, unsafe, or mislead the age groups targeted.

3. Tobacco Products

Ads are not allowed to promote tobacco products or related paraphernalia.

4. Unsafe Supplements

Facebook determines the safety of these supplements at its discretion.

5. Weapons, Ammunition, & Explosives

Ads must not promote the use of these items as well as weapon modification products.

6. Adult Products & Services

Ads may not promote the sale of these products unless it is for family planning and contraception and must target people 18 years or older. Avoid any suggestive poses as well as activities that are overly suggestive and provocative.

7. 3rd Party Infringement

I’m just going to go ahead and cite them directly, “Ads must not contain content that infringes upon or violates the rights of any third party, including copyright, trademark, privacy, publicity, or other personal or proprietary rights.”

8. Surveillance Equipment

Ads can’t promote the sale of spy cams, mobile trackers, or other hidden surveillance equipment

9. Poor Grammar and Profanity

Ads can’t contain profanity and poor grammar and punctuation.

10. Low Quality or Disruptive Content

Ads aren’t allowed to contain content that leads to external landing pages that provide an unexpected or disruptive experience. “This includes misleading ad positionings, such as overly sensationalized headlines or prompts for users to interact with the ad inauthentically, and leading people to landing pages that contain minimal original content and a majority of unrelated or low-quality ad content.”

Other key points from their policies that you should note:

  • If you choose to target custom audiences, you must comply with the terms when creating the audience.
  • Excessive text in ad images could result in the ad reaching fewer people or withdraw it altogether.

Embracing the Social Media Mindset

What exactly do I mean by this ‘mindset’?

Well, to adequately explain it, I’ll have to paraphrase Steven M. Edwards perfectly articulated explanation in his article for the Journal of Interactive Advertisement:

In summary, Edwards states that social media outlets allow people to interact with each other and stay informed about products and brands. Each platform also contains its own tools for encouraging ‘buzz’ and facilitating campaigns.

There is a chance for a sale to be made on each of the social platforms, and these platforms should be taken as seriously as any other media outlet, maybe even more so.

The only issue is that the lifecycle of these platforms and the trends of virality are continually changing, so it’s important to understand the basic principles of encouraging word-of-mouth (WOM) that were first introduced by Andy Sernovitz.

These principles must begin and end with an exceptional product or service, but use effective social media marketing to influence consumers.

The 5 Principles for Encouraging WOM:

  • Talkers

Talkers are people that will talk about you. They don’t necessarily have to be your customers, but you must continuously keep them engaged, informed, and entertained.

  • Topics

Topics are simple, interesting messages that should be organic and easily shared. Subjects should also be relevant to your customers and products such as special sales or anything humorous like memes and gifs.

  • Tools

Tools help spread the message.  Social media and email marketing make WOM spread quicker and easier. Encourage sharing by asking your audiences to tag a friend, promoting contests, or offering coupons/discounts.

  • Taking Part

Taking part in interactions is your chance to become a part of the conversation by actively listening and responding to your customers.

  • Tracking

Use search engines to track brand mentions and track online conversations to understand the discussion on social media.

Once you get the hang of the social media mindset and start using and applying it every day, engaging and relating with your audience will go from artificial to second nature.

What it Takes to Make a Great Ad

So far we have gone through what you absolutely can not include in your ads and how to effectively relate to your audience, it’s time to break down what constitutes a converting ad.

I highly recommend using these tips alongside our free Facebook Targeting Checklist to really conquer the ad space!

Get the attention of your audience through unique, vibrant imagery.

Recently, we have seen video ads explosively take off and monopolize the ad medium space.  The reason? They are the most effective at catching your customers attention with their constant frame bursts compared to the typical one framed photo that looks like every other photo on their feed.

The best way to execute the video ad is to keep it at an optimal 2-minute length while placing the best part of the content within the first 5-10 seconds of the video.

As far as the best colors to use, tests have shown that primary colors work the best.  Red and blue induce urgency while yellow provides optimism – the perfect recipe for a sale!

Embrace storytelling

Along with being visual creatures, humans are more adept to remembering something that is in the context of a story.  This form of learning is the reason folklores and cultural stories are continuously passed down and spread through societies today. If you can tell your brands story through your ad, then you have guaranteed yourself some real estate in the mind of your consumers.

The headline

The optimal headline is about 5 words, anything more becomes too wordy and droning.

Within this compact framework, you must be able to state your products or services unique value proposition clearly.  The headline must be clear and concise.

Content to consider while crafting your headlines:

  • If you are using numbers, make sure you place them at the beginning of the headline and use the numerical figure instead of typing out the word.
  • Use urgency with limited time offers.
  • Avoid vagueness.
  • Engage your customers by asking questions that they will want to know the answers to.

Tip: Split test 4 different headlines to see which one gets the most clicks, the one that does should be the one to use.

Ad copy

Just like the headline has an optimal word count, so does the ad copy – 20 words.

In some cases, long-form copy performs really well, but as a general rule of thumb, 20 words is the sweet spot that keeps your customers engaged.

The context of your copy can vary depending on the product or audience, below are 7 copy ideas for you to use.

  • Fit in an element of social proof
    Instead of mulling over the perfect ad copy; you can simply just put an impressive testimonial for the ad text. Companies like Drunk Elephant, Boom! Skincare, and Sol De Janeiro have been following this path and have yielded thumb stopping effects.
  • Utilize link descriptions
    Your link description should include new information aside from what is in the ad itself and take the customer to a specific landing page.  Use bitly.com to shorten long URL’s into consumable sizes to fit the 20-word restriction
  • Avoid Negativity
    Recently, there has been a shift in the type of copy consumers are responding to. Highlighting pain points through negativity is a thing of the past, now highlight pain points through positive language and imagery. Showcase how your product is helpful rather than showcasing your customer’s fears and insecurities. Facebook has now jumped on the bandwagon by flagging ads with shocking imagery and negatively focused copy; if the ad isn’t flagged or removed, it definitely won’t reach the potential it could if it was using positive words.
  • Use active verbs
    That’s right, the use of passive voice in the copy is a thing of the past. It’s boring and too dull.  Use active verbs to engage and excite your customers and create copy that will persuade them to act now with the use of proactive wording – I promise it works.
  • Experiment with incentives
    Don’t be shy to offer free shipping or 20% off; you will get a lot of appreciative clicks.
  • Use pop culture references
    Using pop culture references is a great way to gain the attention of customers by being relatable comically.
  • Utilize hashtags
    Create your own hashtag for your business or any special promotions you have going on. Your unique hashtag will help develop a cult-like following and promote social sharing.

Create a custom call to action (CTA)

Your use your custom CTA as overlay text at the end of the video.  The CTA should incorporate your brand’s voice and avoid using the redundant CTA’s Facebook already provides.

Research your competitors

The best way to stay on top of ad trends is to study your competition and see what companies outside of your niche are doing.

The Chrome extension Turbo Ad Finder will become your best friend

Once activated, it will block out everything except for ads in your Facebook news feed – and it’s free!

Dissecting the Perfect Ad

Lets put all of this new information to good use and distinguish the features that set an excellent ad apart from a mediocre one.


  • Their medium is a video ad.
  • They use vibrant, attention-grabbing colors and add in the element of a strobe-like effect and a randomly placed robot head which is pleasantly unusual.
  • The text is long-form however it includes their unique value proposition of “made with premium materials and a waterproof shell, the Go-Bag is a travel companion for life.”
  • The text also includes an incentive, “lifetime warranty and ships for free.”
  • The headline is 4 words and clearly states the unique value proposition.
  • They use a pop culture reference – the infamous leg lamp from A Christmas Story.
  • They use active verbs to sway the purchase.

Sol de Janeiro

If the cheeky name (no pun intended) of their Bum Bum cream didn’t grab the attention of their customer, so many other aspects of this ad did.

  • They make use of a vibrant, blue color that contrasts nicely from the product and makes it pop.
  • They use a customer testimonial to showcase the benefits of their product.
  • They use positive words in their copy throughout the ad.
  • Their unique value proposition is in the headline, “Now in purse size!”
  • Strong custom CTA, “Don’t leave home without it!”

Splendid Spoon

  • They use vibrant colors and product placements of raw ingredients that perfectly targets the health-conscious foodies.
  • They lure their customers with an incentive of $25 off.
  • The copy includes their unique value proposition of vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, low sugar and delivered to door ready to eat.
  • They create a sense of urgency by stating the offer is available this week only.

Class Pass

  • They use all of the primary colors in transitioning frame bursts.
  • They instill urgency in their copy for the overlay text.
  • They include an incentive in the headline of 1 month of free services.
  • They include their unique value proposition, “Try the best workouts for you.”
  • They use active verbs throughout the copy.
  • Their message is short and to the point.

Now that we have reached the end of our session, I hope you can utilize the key takeaways from this post:

  • Read and follow Facebooks advertising policies
  • Adopt the social media mindset
  • Understand and implement the techniques required to make a great ad

To really nail the role of Greatest Facebook Advertiser, download our free Facebook Targeting Checklist and make sure you use it while creating your ads!