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Sugatan eCommerce Growth Saga: Scaling an eCom 0-7 Figures - Part 1

Irakli Zviadadze | Content Marketer | Sugatan.io 

August 27, 2020

eCommerce Growth Saga: Scaling an eCom 0-7 Figures – Part 1

What if I told you it’s possible to go from 0% to 247.50% (growth rate) in 7 months on a brand new eCommerce business, with a tiny, unknown product?

Because, that’s what we did.

And we’re going to break it down to you, exactly how we did it.

The time scope for this project is from January to July with a 247.50% growth rate (in total) over the course of these 7 months.

We’re going to be splitting it up into 2 articles and this is the first part.

In the first part here, we’re going to be looking at the months of January, February, and March and a growth rate of 193%.

That’s a rate of 136% from January to February and 56.6% February to March. The rest of the months (March to July) we’ll be covering in the next part (keep an eye out!).

maine roast growth graph

We’re going to be covering it all: those bad Facebook days when you feel like someone just stomped on your dreams to bouncing back right on your feet.

And we’re also going to share the exact, specific strategies that worked for us, Facebook creatives, how to optimize your site for conversions, specify your offer, and more.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

As you might have noticed, there’s a lot of focus on creatives here. And guess what? That’s going to be the main thing that’ll take your eCommerce business to the next level. No matter your skill level, we’re going to break down and analyze everything in-depth here. We’ll share the exact creatives worked for us, templates, and angles to test.

This has been the hardest product for us to scale so far. So we really had to put in some serious effort. 

And if you apply the advertising tactics we cover here – you’re gonna see some drastic changes in your business.

For context, before we begin talking about the product, here’s what you need to know about Facebook ads for this article.

Priority number one: focus on the creatives to test as many things as possible.

We will share the exact 5 top-performing ads for this product below and the breakdown as to why these creatives worked so well. 

With that out of the way, we can now start talking about scaling the eCommerce product in this article. 

In short, here’s what we’re dealing with:

  • Product – Maine Roast Protein Coffee
  • Time frame – 3 months (part 1)
  • Growth rate – 0% to 193%

Note: This article will be largely based on a case study from Kris Sugatan in our private Facebook group. If you’re not there yet, join now. We’ll also be sharing some extra eCommerce growth hacks, tips, and some exclusive content in this article.

kris facebook group maine roast post

So, if you prefer audio/video footage, check out the video in our Facebook group.

And if you prefer to read, here’s what you need to know: 

Defining The Audience For this Tiny, Obscure Product That Prevailed Against All Odds

So, what’s the product?

Meet Maine Roast!

maine roast protein coffee product page

We’re going to analyze everything you see on this page below section-by-section too, keep on reading!

Main Roast is a protein coffee that curbs hunger, helps you eat less, and still delivers the perfect (healthy) energy kick.

The audience here is male as well as female – from the 18-year-old male who lives the gym to the 55-year-old female who wants to lose weight.

Pretty broad, right?

To zoom in on the perfect segment, you’ll just have to put out as many tests as possible – to understand what they respond to better.

Then, you can analyze your creative angles in detail.

And that’s what we did here.

Go broad. Test everything. See what performs better and really zoom in on that audience segment.

Priority number two: Go as broad as possible in terms of your creative angles.

For this, we started with a “Catch all angle.

To go broad with this product, we focused on an ‘all-in-one’ angle first. In this case, the protein coffee can be consumed as breakfast, as coffee, and as a protein shake.

The consumer gains the benefit of having breakfast, coffee, and even a quick protein shake before the gym. 

This broad angle works because everyone from the audience wants to save time and the main benefit is convenience.

We started broad and then narrowed down from that angle.

Priority number three: Narrow down your audience.

The first thing you can do to understand your audience is to install a post-purchase survey on your website immediately.

With this account, we used the free Shopify plugin Enquire. That’s a free plugin and the knowledge of understanding your audience is priceless.

We wanted to understand our audience better in this case. And the best way to do this is to directly ask people who purchased the product.

As a bonus, we incentivized them to answer (by saying would refund $1 in their account). So, they’d be getting $1 for just answering 1 question (in a few seconds).

As a business owner, it’s always important to know your audience and stay in touch with your customers. And there’s no better way to figure this out than to just ask them directly.

In this case we wanted to find out their main buying motives. But you can also set up your post-purchase surveys with other questions in mind to learn more about your audience. Such as asking them what they thought of the buying experience or what you can do to improve your site.

Seriously – this is priceless information. You NEED this to grow.

Here’s the post-purchase survey question for this product:

post purchase survey

Once consumers click the checkout button and Shopify asks their purchase information, this questionnaire will be there asking why they bought the product.

As you can see here, weight management was the majority answer here.

What does that tell us?

Well, we started broad. Targeting everyone from the 18-year-old male gymgoer to the 55-year-old female who wants to lose weight.

Based on that, we can make a smart guess and say our target audience here is mostly females who want to lose weight.

The sooner you have a post-purchase survey on your site, the sooner you can understand your target audience – and the sooner you’ll be able to scale everything.

If you haven’t done this yet, stop reading, and go install a post-purchase survey plugin on your site now. It takes only 5 minutes.

Done?

Good!

Now we can move on.

Testing Creatives and Narrowing Down the Audience To Laser Focus on the Users

The first 3 weeks (minimum) will be dedicated to just testing creatives.

Ideally, you should also be breaking even with your ads. 

One way you can do this is to assign your media buying team a certain budget and tell them to go crazy with the spending, as long as they’re breaking even.

This is how you bootstrap successfully – based on data and creatives

Prioritize your creatives and then hone down your audience based on the data.

If you’re breaking even every day, you won’t be losing money and you’ll be gaining extremely valuable and important information on your target market.

Then, you can also narrow down your angles for your ads.

With this product, based on the above survey, the major audience paint point was weight management. So, that’s what we decided to focus on.

And then, to narrow it down even further we wanted to connect it with something that was relatable to most women of all ages – Starbucks (the benefit: It’s sweet, tasty, and refreshing.).

With that, the creative angle we came up with was ‘Competitor Comparison’, which is exactly what it sounds like. This ended up being one of the top-performing creatives with this account too.

Most women in the U.S. love Starbucks, it’s sweet, it’s everywhere, and super tasty. But there’s a downside!

It’s too sugary, can be fattening, and sometimes – unhealthy.

Then comes Maine Roast with the perfect solution and our creative angle was born:

Getting the benefit without sacrificing the pleasure.

This is the secret to all highly-converting sales for ALL products out there.

With Maine Roast here, we’re relating it to Starbucks – without all the negative downsides!

It’s healthy, delicious, includes caffeine, and also works as a protein shake for the gym. AND we can piggyback off the Starbucks comparison to associate it with a product our target audience already knows and loves.

Suddenly, hundreds of creative angles were born. Including:

  • For people with an unhealthy Starbucks addiction.
  • For people trying to lose weight.
  • Convenience factor of healthy coffee + protein shake.

This was much more specific and allowed us to focus on real pain points in our creatives (video, copywriting, messaging, etc.).

It took us about 2 weeks to narrow down our audience demographics – based on the post-purchase survey and following the data.

So, we started targeting all women and on the 4th week – we started reaping the rewards.

During this time, it’s important to test as many angles as possible – fast and cheap.

Our personal tests ran for a day and a half. At about $15 per test. 

Here, you should be using your creatives tests as indicators. Strongest indicators are as follows, in this order:

  • Purchase – Did they get a purchase on that day and a half of testing? 
  • Initiate Checkouts
  • Add to Cart
  • Cost Per Landing View – A combination of CPM (how broad your targeting is, how much Facebook is charging you), and link click-through rate (how strong your creative is and if people are clicking on your ads).

Ideally, your landing page view costs should be less than $1. It also depends on how good your conversion rate on your website is.

If your conversion rate is around 3%, then you’ll be fine with a higher landing page view cost as that means your traffic is converting better.

And vice-versa. If you have a low conversion rate, your landing page view cost should be lower.

To recap, so far, the biggest thing that made a drastic difference to find the winning angle with this account was:

  • Audience testing.
  • Creatives testing.
  • Copywriting testing.

Now, at this point, the ads team was basically on autopilot. They were pumping out as many creative tests as possible to break even and find the winning combinations.

And that about sums up January data collection and analysis, testing creatives, narrowing the audience, and having a strategic approach to ad buying.

Moving forward, for February, we needed to focus on the website.

Let’s do that.

Optimizing the Website and eCommerce Ecosystem

This is THE way to go to increase your ROI and scale up quickly.

Let’s say ads can get you $2 for every $1 you spend. If you optimize your landing page for your business, you could be getting $3 for every $1.

This is extremely crucial and adds up quickly. You’ll want your site to be ready to handle all that traffic and conversions coming in from your ads. You’ll want to have an email opt-in box, a smooth user interface, all the info first time visitors will need regarding your product (FAQ/About page), and more.

So, in this section, we’ll be focusing on optimizing the conversion rate to scale up quickly.

Here’s what the landing page looked like before, in January (we made a lot of changes down the road to experiment with the conversion rate).

maine roast landing page january

Very straightforward and focuses on one main benefit – tastes damn good.

Based on competitor analysis, the taste factor was a crucial aspect for the product. So, the landing page design we went with was super simple. It’s straightforward and focuses on the main benefit – tastes damn good.

As a new product, we continued to focus on the main benefit (taste) and made sure to highlight the social proof too.

maine roast review

Then, you scroll even further and get this interesting offer.

maine roast offer

See what’s happening here?

The default offer is 3 bags of protein coffee, a $19.99 valued shaker for free, and a $4.99 value shipping for free too.

What does this mean?

Basically, this was done to increase the average order value (AOV).

Each of the protein coffee bags would be around $25. But if you’re advertising in the U.S. $25 AOV won’t get you very far in terms of profitability.

According to research by Geckoboard, most online retailers average about $78 per order (but a lot will depend on the company, products, and the niche). To get a general baseline comparison for your comparison, you can either:

  • Track your AOV this month compared to last month (or last year).
  • Find a specific benchmark for your industry or product time.

In short, we had to increase the AOV to be $55. So, we put the above offer as the main one: You get 3 bags and the customer gets to save on the shaker and the shipping (paying $69.99 instead of $105.95).

As a bonus, illustrating your exact offer by the numbers is a great way to get your customer to understand what they’re getting and saving money on. Hence the ‘Awesome! You saved a total of $35.96 on your order.’ line.

Of course, customers could shop for individual flavors and buy just one bag. But by presenting this offer directly as the default option, we’re nudging them to get this instead and managed to increase the AOV.

Here are some other ways to increase your AOV:

  • Add a discounted upsell after order completion.
  • Use a minimum threshold for free shipping.
  • Cross-sell related products during checkout. Once your customers are viewing their cart, add a small section of other recommended products they might be interested in. You can also use scarcity here, sales, and more. You can also use Zipify or ReConvert for upselling.
  • Offer bundle products/discounts.
  • And more.

Now, let’s get back on track.

For the month of January, for the above landing page, the conversion rate was 2.05%

maine roast conversion rate

This is fine, for now.

For most eCommerce businesses, the average conversion rate is around 1%-2%. Even if you are doing everything right, you can still expect to win the sale around 2% of the time (Source: BigCommerce).

But as you’ll see, we went for a conversion rate of 3%-5% with this product.

If your website site is converting at 5%, Facebook can charge you whatever they want and your cost per website visitor would be around $2-$3, and your site would do the job of converting that traffic for you.

As a final touch, we also added a quick sales pop up notification plugin from Shopify. So that whenever someone new makes a purchase, a little notification bar pops up on the main site displaying the recent sales. This helps increase site sales and conversions, makes the store look busy (social proof), and builds trust (when people see someone with a first name and their location who bought the product). For this, you can just use Sales Pop or the Sales Notification plugin from the Shopify app store.maine roast sales pop up

Main takeaway: If you have a conversion rate that’s less than 2%, you really need to work on getting your cost per landing page view (website visitors) as low as possible. Because that means your website isn’t doing a good job of converting your traffic.

Other things to look out for when optimizing your eCommerce website include:

  • Your site speed – Improve your site speed and watch your conversion rate skyrocket. Check out our podcast on top 5 tricks to optimize your landing page and biggest mistakes to avoid here for more info. To start, make sure you’re compressing your images and don’t have any unnecessary apps installed on your site. For some tasks, you’ll need a developer to help you out – but it’s going to be well worth it.
  • Optimize for mobile first – Most people shop and purchase on their phones. Make sure your site is usable for phone users.
  • Use A/B testing tools – There are many A/B testing tools out there and for the most part, you’ll need to have quite a bit of data for your tests to be significant. Small conversion boosts add up – but try to think of the bigger picture when doing tests. You can start with Google Optimize or VWO to start with.
  • Include badges on your site. Are your products sustainable, cruelty-free, and ethically made? Include any certifications that might help your customers make a decision.

Looking for even more ways to boost your eCommerce sales? Check out our full article on 84 hacks to boost your eCommerce sales we used to increase sales of eCommerce stores generating $100M in yearly revenue here.

Now, how did we increase the conversion rate and optimize the website here?

Let’s take a look.

New Landing Page With a 2.52% Conversion Rate: a Breakdown

Here’s the new landing page for the month of February after 4 weeks worth of optimization and tests.

maine roast new landing page

As you might have noticed, we added a lot of text, nutrition values, and facts, how much they’d be saving with the purchase, and the Coronavirus banner on top. 

Looks cluttered?

Maybe. But the conversion rate actually increased!

maine roast cro

And there’s a perfectly valid explanation for this.

So, there’s a lot of information here. Typically, that might scare away visitors and not want to read the whole thing.

But in this case, when we looked at the data and collected information from the website visitors that didn’t purchase, we saw that they wanted to know the nutrition facts behind the product. 

They were health-conscious people and actually cared about what they were purchasing down to the details.

But here’s the issue: Most people are in a hurry. Especially on the internet.

And if they do make a purchase- it’s going to be in 2 minutes or less.

So, whenever someone landed on that page, they wanted all the facts and figures quickly. 

They had objections: Does this product actually work? Is it healthy? I’ve never heard of this brand.

And we had to clear those objections fast.

We made sure to include specific words that answer to those objections (down to the nutrition values). 

So, this new landing page has everything the target audience would want to know about the product.

  • Nutrition facts.
  • Benefits.
  • Social proof.
  • Easier checkout interface to select 1 bag if they wanted to.
  • The exact amount they’d be paying before going to checkout page (no hidden fees), and the exact amount they’d be saving (on shipping, 3 bags discount, etc.).

Then, once they scroll down on the landing page, they see more testimonials from people they look up to and see as authority figures (health coach, personal trainer, sport nutritionist). If they like it and approve it, that must mean it works, right?

maine roast video testimonials

Below that, there’s another section for nutrition info for each flavor protein coffee.

maine roast nutrition info

After that, there’s the Frequently Asked Questions section that’s also based on hard data and information we collected directly from the customers.

maine roast frequently asked questions

Finally, the reviews (aka social proof).

maine roast customer reviews

Main takeaway: If you have multiple products on your eCommerce website and a best seller, you can follow a similar design template as above. This was custom built using Liquid but the flow of the page works.

Another important lesson to keep in mind here is that most traffic from Facebook will be coming in from mobile devices. Make sure your website is optimized for mobile-first.

That’s where we got ~90% of the traffic from. Here’s what it looks like on mobile.

maine roast landing page mobile

As we learned, the main focus is the nutrition info and the main benefit (protein coffee that tastes like your barista made it). This was huge for converting the mobile traffic and having a stellar user-experience.

That’s where the majority of the sales are. 79% of smartphone users have made a purchase online using a mobile device in the last 6 months and the mobile-first trend is likely to continue growing quickly in eCommerce (Source: OuterBox).

Few other ways you can optimize your site for mobile include:

  • Prioritizing content first and color second.
  • Designing for easy navigation.
  • Resizing your images for the mobile screen.
  • Reducing file size with compression (TinyPNG for images).
  • And more.

Eventually, we made some further changes to test with the conversion rate here. Be sure to keep an eye out for chapter 2 of this case study.

So, this was basically it for the month of February

Ads are working on autopilot, we improved the conversion rate, and we’re starting to scale.

Another great way to increase your overall AOV and overall revenue is to implement an email opt-in box to grow your email list. Then, you can convert your subscribers into customers with a discount offer. 

By this point, we have a lot of high-convertive creatives and working ads.

But in March, we introduced one new thing in addition to the January and February creatives that really made a difference in our growth.

And that thing is called advertorials – an advertisement disguised as an editorial. It is an ad that walks, talks, and acts like an editorial. This way, you can reach your consumers more directly with your messages.

In this case, we used it as an email blast.

Let’s take a look:

Email Newsletter Analysis For This Account

These types of creatives usually convert really well across all industries because it’s not a hard sell. Instead, it’s educational and a demonstration. So, people are usually curious to learn more about the product.

Here’s the exact advertorial email blast template we used.

Subject line: Delicious Coffee & Weight Loss? 🤔

maine roast email newsletter

This was during the peak of the COVID 19 crisis – hence the ‘Have Your Coffee At Home’ angle. But this is still relevant and advertorials that focus on education and entertainment usually always perform well.

Here are a couple of other reasons this worked well:

  • Starbucks comparison in a way that makes sense.
  • Nutrition value and info.
  • Not sales-y.
  • Strong copy and CTA.

The aim of the ‘Read More’ CTA was to provide even more content. It’s not a ‘Buy Now’ CTA on purpose.

maine roast newsletter read more

The ‘Read More’ CTA directs the reader to a blog post called ‘How to Make Weight Loss Easy by Sipping on a Delicious Coffee (That Isn’t Starbucks)’ that gives them more information on how to do just that.

maine roast blog post

And these blog posts are actually generating revenue

Here’s the order of the short funnel so far:

  1. Someone lands on the website for the first time. They’re curious but not ready to make a purchase so they sign up for the newsletter.
  2. They gain a discount email and educational content that tells them how to lose weight (major pain point for them).
  3. They’re redirected to a blog – which is even more educational and entertaining, while addressing their main benefits.
  4. Finally, the blog post ends with a purchase-now CTA.

maine roast blog post cta

From here, we created more blog posts and started sending these email advertorials out once every 10 days.

Main takeaway: You need to put out high-quality tests and increase the frequency week over week. On Sundays, you can look at the data from the past 7 days, and on Mondays, you can prepare what tests to focus on for the next week. Though, when doing this, make sure you don’t focus on ‘perfect’. We’ve had numerous ads with typos in them (they actually catch peoples’ attention) that still worked. 

Your biggest threat is to figure out how to drive top-line revenue at a stable rate. 

Facebook ads will do that for you. When starting out, we did auto bids, only started bid/cost capping to optimize results. But in the beginning, it was mostly auto.

With that said, you also need to optimize your website ecosystem and your emails as a lever to stay profitable each week while also scaling.

Another angle we took with the email newsletter was flash sales. Here’s how:

3-day email flash sales series

This is based on flash sales, uses a discount code, and focuses on the scarcity element.

Flash sales require careful planning to be successful and they usually last a day, but can sometimes be several (e.g. until the discount code expires).

Many eCommerce stores send an email one day before the flash sale actually starts to alert subscribers of what’s coming.

For example, you can do a preview email and if you’re focusing on urgency, you can do a morning email and an evening email.

For more email inspiration, check out Really Good Emails to filter emails by industry and use some as inspiration.

And finally, for this flash sale, the 3-day sales series emails we went with are as follows:

Email #1 – the Announcement

maine roast flash sale announcement

Email #2 – the Reminder

flash sale email reminder

Email #3 – the Last Chance

maine roast flash sale announcement

As you can see, all of the above emails focus on scarcity and urgency.

5 Other Highly Converting Creatives and Ads Worth $100K+

You didn’t think we would just let you go without showing the exact creatives and ads we used, did you?

We’re going to show our highly converting Facebook ads, video creatives (that you can implement for any niche/product and see better results), angles, and why they worked so well, and also our email 3-day sales series for Maine Roast.

These angles work for just about any industry or product. A lot of the angles are based on proven marketing or psychological principles.

So, feel free to use them as plug-and-play to dominate your ads.

Looking to improve your overall Facebook video ad and creative skills instead? Check out our article on Facebook video ads to learn from our analysis based on video ads that generated $10M+ (and a breakdown for each ad).

Now, let’s start with the flash sales.

Here are a few other creative angles and ads that ended up being highly successful for the Maine Roast account.

Benefits without the sacrifice

I mentioned this above (“It’s like Starbucks without being unhealthy!”).

Basically, you show what the benefits are of the product, without there being too big of sacrifice in their lives. 

Meaning – the product will seamlessly integrate into their current life without them giving up anything.

In this case, they’re gaining a healthy, and tasty protein coffee, without there being any sacrifices (e.g. unhealthy, too sugary, etc.).

To communicate that in your ads, focus on the benefits of using your product.

The angle we went with was Starbucks. People love Starbucks (especially in this product’s target audience), but it’s unhealthy, sugary, and addictive.

starbucks addiction angle

When we think coffee – we think Starbucks. It’s convenient and everywhere, but unhealthy.

With Maine Roast (and the goal of this ad) is that they’re getting the benefits of Maine Roast without giving up what they like about Starbucks.

Another reason this video ad performed so well is because of its pace. It’s fast-paced and grabs attention within the first 3 seconds (empty cup being filled by whipped cream).

We mentioned the Starbucks angle a few times with this product. Many eCommerce brands don’t like doing the ‘comparison’ angle because they’re afraid of getting sued.

But here’s the thing:

As long as you’re doing a fair comparison, with factual information (e.g. how Starbucks is more sugary than Maine Roast) – you’re going to be in the clear.

Though, it should be noted that you should do your research and make sure you’re doing a fair and accurate comparison.

This ad is directly asking the viewer – ‘What if you could have the same taste (as Starbucks) without all the calories?

Then this protein coffee is for you!

Then we go into the benefits and why it’s the perfect solution.

We’ll share a link to the full ad for this (and others) below – keep on reading!

Testimonials

Testimonials work extremely well across all industries, they’re great for social proof and help clear up any objections your customers might have.

We’ve used this concept over and over in other niches, and it has been successful for other brands as well.

With Maine Roast, testimonials were important because most people aren’t familiar with protein coffee and will have a lot of questions regarding the product (will it taste good? Some protein shakes have clumps, what about this one?).

It’s time to answer those questions in the testimonials.

maine roast testimonial video

For this, we used user-generated content from influencers and micro-influencers. We reached out to them and offered the product for free, in exchange for a video review we could use.

If you can’t reach influencers, you can just put up a Craigslist ad for people to audition and have them taste the product in person.

Make sure they’re not following a script here. It’s important to use genuine reactions from people here. Though, you can give them loose instructions and push them to use some keywords that describe the product (e.g. if there were any clumps in the protein coffee? If it tasted sweet, etc.).

PS – Looking for more information on how to do influencer marketing and outreach the right way? Check out our full influencer marketing process based on generating $350k/Mo for the exact email templates, processes, and tools we use.

How-to demonstration

This is basically a how-to demonstration of the product.

It’s not a hard sell, but rather, a showcase video footage of the product in action.

Everyone loves to watch ‘before and after’ and ‘from nothing to something’ type of videos that show the entire process in an educational, and entertaining way.

So, this creative angle will work well for businesses across other industries as well.

With this ad in particular, we’re demonstrating how to make a caramel frappe in 60 seconds step-by-step – highlighting the nutritional value and the process in a fun editing way.

how-to demonstration ad

For the video, we made sure to isolate shots for each step. As in, each step of making the frappe has its own distinct video shot.

  1. Dump 1 scoop of protein coffee into the shaker.
  2. Pour 6 oz. of cold water or milk of your choice.
  3. Shake.
  4. Pour over ice.
  5. Sip and enjoy.

Finally, end with a CTA.

Five day vlog

This angle is exactly what it sounds like – a person using our product for 5 days straight and giving their thoughts and reactions.

If applicable, this is another great video angle that works for other industries as well.

It took us a few variations of testing this video to find the top-performing one. In our testing, 8/10 times, the video with the “meme bar” above always performed better. And the text we used for that played an important role.

It has to be curiosity-driven and get viewers to click on the video and watch it all the way through.

Here’s the angle and the text we went with here:

maine roast starbucks addiction ad

When working on this angle, it’s essential you do some copymining and research the exact words your target audience uses.

For this ad, the top 3 talking points were health and taste

Same as the how-to demonstration angle, we sent out the products to influencers and micro-influencers here and provided some loose instructions (what words to use, e.g. don’t say “protein shake”, say “protein coffee”).

Just make sure you’re not restricting your influencers. Their 5 days have to be natural. 

People pick up on fake and scripted footage real quick with ads like this. Make sure it’s as natural as possible.

If they usually go to the gym, run errands, or something else, you can have them film their days with the product.

With this ad, some footage is from the gym, some is from them not having eaten lunch, and so on. 

Make sure they’re talking about the features and the benefits of the product in the five day vlog angle, demonstrate it in use, and treat the viewer as a friend peeking into their life.

This particular ad went through a few variations and testing phases (mainly with the first 3-5 seconds), but once we found the winning combination – it ended up being one of the top-performing ads.

Lesson learned!

Graphic GIFs

Yes – GIFs.

This one’s extremely underrated.

It’s new to us, but one thing we’ve learned is that GIFs are making a comeback as Facebook ads.

People are getting number to video ads. And now, GIFs stand out instead.

Something that’s quick, catchy, and colorful can convert extremely well. GIFs are great for this as they’re super straight to the point.

In this case, we’re highlighting the fact that they’re getting a free shaker (great offer) and the actual shaker in the GIF is also highlighted in a different color (and it’s changing colors in a loop).

maine roast gif ad

For this ad, we also tested all sorts of different colors.

Initially, we had a red color background, we tested a blue one, but turns out, a yellow background was the best choice.

Small things like that can have a big impact.

The inspiration behind this was spying on competitors’ ads.

We used AdSpy, filtered for engagement, and looked at other similar GIF facebook ads.

In this case, because protein coffee isn’t a mainstream product and has little competition the research was hard – but definitely worth it.

Main takeaway: When running Facebook ads, your video creatives will make or break your ads. Even if you have an amazing targeting strategy and an offer, your audience won’t convert if your creatives don’t inspire action.

For us, the above creative angles ended up being the best combination, after countless A/B tests.

Now, if you’re looking for more info on the above ads, as well as the actual, live version of the above ads, and a video analysis from Kris be sure to grab the top Facebook video ads here.

You can also use the above ads as inspiration. So, be sure to grab the templates before moving on with this article!

Scaling Your Video Creatives Start to Finish

Another essential step of running Facebook ads (video or not) is finding the perfect audience for them.

Here’s how to do this properly.

1. Do your research

You should have some idea as to who your target market is at this point. But if you want your videos to convert, you need to get really specific about this. 

Make sure you know your Facebook’s Audience Insights tool inside out.

  1. Review the general demographics of your target audience.
  2. Go to Page Likes section and check out other interests your audience might have (e.g. competitors pages.).
  3. Use Facebook Ad Library (or AdSpy and AdEspresso if you can afford it) to spy on your competitors’ ads.
  4. Consider your offer and start analyzing ads. Swiped.co is a great place to start and you can also brush up on your copywriting while there.
  5. Test everything. If you’re running a video ad, consider the first 3-5 seconds of the video as that’s going to be the most important part.

2. Test the audience

This will differ from campaign-to-campaign but nowadays, our approach is as follows:

  1. Once we find audiences that work for the ad, we combine them and put them into one CBO (campaign budget optimization) campaign. LLA (lookalike audiences) into one ad-set, Interest/Behavior into another and have a broad ad-set.
  2. Set a minimum and maximum budget, so that in the first 3 days, they get approximately the same budget.
  3. After 3 days, kill the video ads that aren’t performing well. Increase the maximum budget and start scaling the CBO.

3. Review your creatives

If you’re not sure where to start with your creatives, spy on your competition, to see what type of video creatives work best.

Once you have an angle down for your video, you change some of the elements (e.g. copy, visuals, product, etc.) to create something original and better for your brand.

Then, create a swipe folder (or just grab our top-performing ads from above) and start analyzing what makes those ads great.

4. Test the creatives

Testing your creatives is the single most important thing you can do to scale your video ads and business in general.

Start with testing one thing at a time to find the winning combination. Things such as:

  • Different video first shot or 3-5 seconds.
  • Video ad angle.
  • Different headlines.
  • Video ad CTA (e.g. “Install Now!” vs “Download!”)
  • Ad format (e.g. video ad vs GIFs)
  • Offer, visuals, format, and more.

If you have a lower budget, aim for 2-3 ads on your ad set with a $5 daily budget.

And for a higher budget, use 1 ad per 1 ad set structure.

5. Scale the creatives 

When should you start scaling, exactly?

We tend to look at ROAS, cost per landing page view and cost per ATC (add-to-cart). And from here, every decision should be based on hard data and stats.

If you’re not hitting your KPIs, usually it’s because of one of these things:

  • Creatives – Your image/video should stand out and stop people from scrolling past them. If your video doesn’t have a pattern interrupt, chances are, no one will click on them.
  • Copy – Do you understand your audience’s pain points? Are you using the same words as them? If you’re not sure, you’ll have to test a few different variations to find the best one.
  • Targeting – You could have the best videos in the world, but if the targeting is off – none of this matters, right? 

Once everything checks out, we measure everything on a 1, 3, 7, 14, 30-day window.

In short: test everything, move fast, and break things. And you’ll find the winning ad soon enough.

Looking for more info on setting up your ads start to finish and the rest of the campaign structure?

Creatives That Convert

Let’s face it, there’s only one thing that will scale your store to 6-7 figures – your creatives.

80% of our time goes to creating converting creatives and a whole lot of time on research.

Here’s a quick checklist if you want your creatives to be converting at 2x ROAS minimum at top-of-funnel for your eComm brand:

Research

Cannot stress this enough. 

Spend at least 50% of your time on this step to really understand your customers inside out. 

Start with copy mining and competitor research, and if you really want to understand your audience, integrate a typeform survey and extract as much emotional language as you can. 

Then, use the exact words you found from research in your copy.

As mentioned above, we used a quick post-purchase survey here. But you could also send out a newsletter with a 1-2 question survey and ask your followers directly.

Finally, you can also look up relevant magazines for your niche to gain more creative ideas for your ads. There’s A LOT you can learn about writing headlines and creatives from there.

Look at publications like:

  • Reader’s Digest Magazine.
  • Money Magazine.
  • Psychology today.
  • BuzzFeed.

Ideally, your ad headlines should:

  • Evoke curiosity.
  • Call out main pain points (ideally 1-2 pain points per creative).
  • Promise solutions.
  • Be specific.
  • Be simple.
  • Be credible and address skepticism (to clear up objections).
  • Include time frame to achieve results of promise. 

Stop the scroll

Your first and most important step as an ad creator when it comes to creatives.

For this – test thumbnails, different effects, the first 3-5 seconds, video frames, and more.

What’s worked for us in the past:

  • High contrast thumbnails.
  • People looking directly at the camera (close up shot of their eye). This was a recent discovery for us that’s been incredibly high-converting.
  • Lots of social proof (comments and likes). People tend to stop and look at ads that have a lot of comments/likes. Encourage viewers to like or comment on the ad, and make sure you ask your customer service team to reply to every question in the comments.

Tell a story

Your video needs a narrative hook to grip the reader and storytelling has been proven as an effective marketing tool time and time again.

People love stories and videos tend to tell a better story than other formats of storytelling.

Few tips here:

  • Be authentic – Show off your personality and what makes your brand different.
  • Grab attention – Ideally, as soon as possible. Make sure your thumbnail stands out and the first 3-5 seconds contain action.
  • Include a hero and desire – The hero will be your “protagonist” of your video and should be easy for your viewers to relate to. 

Want people to remember your ad?

Tell a story!

Include pain points, desires, overcoming fears and objections, and other psychological triggers (AIDA) to encourage them to take action.

Don’t brag about your brand

Sounds obvious, right?

But there are far too many ads out there talking about how “we’re the best in the industry” and how “our products help so and so people”.

This doesn’t sound credible.

Instead, your approach could be something like – “This woman was experiencing constant skin breakouts and acne despite trying everything…”

This builds curiosity and then you could introduce your product as a solution naturally.

Who would you listen to for advice? Someone talking about how great their product is? Or an independent person talking about their story, problems they went through, and their journey?

As you might have guessed, user-generated content (UGC) and influencer testimonials work great here.

Use a strong value proposition

For your product as well as your ad.

Your product or service probably caters to at least 2-3 different buyer personas and chances are, they buy for different reasons.

That’s where you start and experiment your offer, CTA, and audience.

People in general love free offers. From free products (free shaker in this case for protein coffee offer) to free trials.facebook ads value proposition

Within your copywriting, you can start with:

  • Problem – “I’m 30 years old and I’ve had skin breakouts almost my whole life. I’ve tried everything. From dermatologist visits (numerous times) different face wash products, different makeup, but nothing worked…”
  • Agitate – “I was miserable, I had no self-confidence and felt like everyone was staring at my skin.”
  • Solution – “Eventually I came across this product randomly from a Facebook ad. All the comments were saying how the product worked for them when nothing else did, so, I thought I’d give it a shot. Ever since I started using this product, I’ve been waking up every morning with my skin glowing and ready to go out and meet my friends again.”

Something like that.

And structure your copy like so:

  • Headline: The big, bold, promise you solve for your customers.
  • Supporting copy: Benefits that add context to your offer – explain how quick, easy, or effective it is.
  • CTA: The action (or verb) someone takes to attain the value you’re promising. According to this analysis based on 752,626 Facebook ads by AdEspresso, the median ad post text is only 14 words long, while the link description is 18 words.

Copy Our Creatives Templates

Looking for more creative templates for your social media ads?

Check out our creatives template slideshow for video styles, examples, and more info here.

Including:

  • Video – BuzzFeed Style Angle – Animated text telling a linear story in 1×1 size.
  • IG Story – No more than 15 seconds. Has to have a SWIPE UP text in the first 3 seconds. Size: 1080×1920
  • Slideshow – At least 7 images. Fast vs slow. Fast = same images, different color. Slow = different images being shown. Size: 1×1
  • Video in-stream – Between 5-15 seconds. Aspect ratio between 4:5 and 16:9. Can be inspired by or taken from previous IG stories.
  • Images close-up – Product close-up shot with no faces. Size: 1×3
  • Naked carousel – Right side info. Conveys how they save money.
  • Single image (product) – Has to be a really high-quality close-up. ‘Apple’ style photography. Size: 1365×2048
  • Testimonial carousel – Include photo of person + their review/quote about the product.

Check out the full slideshow doc for more info and examples!

Main Takeaways

And that’s a wrap for this chapter!

Second part of this eCommerce growth saga will be coming soon.

In it, we’ll mostly focus on the bigger picture:

  • Financial situation overview.
  • Why this account was successful.
  • The team structure and management behind-the-scenes (you’ll get to meet the team!)
  • Most important steps to take for growth.
  • And more.

Liked this article and can’t wait for the next chapter?

Be sure to share your email in our newsletter box below and we’ll update you once it’s live. Or join our private Facebook group for more discussion and eCommerce growth hacks.

See you soon!

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