There are over 4.1 billion active internet users and 3.3 billion social media users and it’s growing. This massive audience presents a considerable opportunity for eCommerce brands to tap into new segments and engage with different types of customers using paid social media. Most brands already use a mix of paid, organic and social. But, there’s enormous value in understanding how eCommerce brands can make the most of paid social media to drive traffic and increase conversions. The digital landscape changes so quickly; what works today is not guaranteed to work tomorrow.


Before launching a new campaign, eCommerce managers and digital teams need to set clear goals and objectives to ensure campaigns are measurable and successful. Here’s what you need to know about planning, launching and testing paid social for eCommerce.

It Pays to Plan

As the influence of organic search loses impact, more eCommerce brands are turning to paid social as a way of reaching new users. Demographic profiling means eCommerce brands have more control over audience targeting, making it easier to test new audiences and A/B test new offerings.

Regardless of whether it’s an organic, paid or social campaign, planning should always be your first port of call. Clear goals and objectives are going to keep your campaigns in check and help you optimise them once live. And while they’re very buzz-word-ish, there’s value in taking them seriously.

Let’s start with the goal. Think of goals as your overarching guide which captures the intent of your campaigns, such as, increasing market share and brand awareness. Objectives, on the other hand, need to be easily measurable and should ideally align with your overall goal. If your goal is to increase brand awareness, the objective could be to increase click-throughs by x% or to achieve an additional 50 sales each month, through social channels.

Take a look at KFC’s Twitter activity as a great example of planning a great social media presence:


KFC twitter followers



This one tweet has over 700K retweets, just from the virility of KFC’s Twitter following.

Whatever your goals and objectives, make sure you have a measurable strategy in place. Knowing what metrics to measure means you’re always on the front foot in managing your paid social campaigns and can redirect your strategy to stay in line with your objectives.


Where to Start

Once you’ve got an idea of what you’re trying to achieve, and have put parameters in place – it’s time to roll out paid campaigns. If you take a look at your personal Facebook feed, you’ll notice that sponsored brand campaigns are competing against status updates and news from your friends. Keep this in mind when thinking about building out campaigns. You’ll need to consider how your campaigns connect with your target audience, resonate with their pain points, and how they tie into the customer journey.


Your Audience

When you think about which platforms best suit your brand, it always comes down to your audience. While Instagram may be winning when it comes to users, it may not be where your users are. Picking the right platform for your paid outreach is not about following trends, but instead, finding and following your users.

When looking for your audience, think about what social platforms they’re using and what sort of media they’re likely to consume. Are they scrolling through Instagram, looking for visual inspiration on Pinterest, reading stories on Facebook, or are they looking for more hard data on LinkedIn. Most platforms have tools to help you better define and refine your audience. But, you can also use social listening tools to help you tap into who your audience is and what they’re talking about.

Here are a few ways to target your audience:

  • By location
  • By demographics like gender and age
  • By using lookalike audiences to target similar customers to your own
  • By using interests they’ve listed or pages they’ve liked
  • By behaviours such as device usage and purchase patterns
  • By custom audience using your CRM data


Your Campaign

This ties back into goal setting and objectives – are you looking for brand awareness, increased exposure, driving direct sales or testing new users or products? Once you know what you want to achieve, work on planning your campaign creative, pick the right platform, choose an ad format and decide how you’ll measure your campaign.

Setting up your campaigns is one thing, managing them is another. Having the flexibility to pause, edit and cancel your campaigns can make or break your strategy.


Measuring What Matters

If you’ve made an effort to plan, produce and promote a paid social campaign, the next logical step is to gauge whether it’s working. This again ties back to your original goals and objectives and whether the metrics align with your expectations. Where marketers tend to come unstuck is in knowing what levers to pull when their campaign falls flat.

For example, if you notice you’ve got a low click-through rate, your creative may be falling short or, you could also try different audiences. If you see your CPM (cost per thousand impressions) is too high, your audiences may be too specific, and you need to broaden your reach to lessen the amount of competing ad sets. If the general quality of the lead is low, your creative may not be hitting the mark, or your post-click landing page might have some conversion issues. A low volume could mean you need to increase your budget, increase your bids and add more campaigns to the mix. It’s about tuning into your data and using analytic tools to give you visibility around whether you’re barking up the wrong tree. If you’ve run successful campaigns in the past, use the data and creative as a framework for your next campaign.


Never Set and Forget

One thing’s for sure, paid social is never guaranteed success. To avoid disappointment or damaging your brand, always set a strategy and know how to refine it. If you don’t have the skills or resources to do it yourself, outsource it to someone that does. Put yourself in your user’s shoes and ask yourself whether your campaigns are adding value or resonating with a pain point. If the answer is no – go back to the drawing board.


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