Six Signs It’s Time to Update Your Facebook Ads

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated with new links and examples for you to use! 

Has your Facebook ads performance dipped? Maybe your ads never achieved your desired outcome like increased eCommerce sales or lead generation. Facebook ads performance can drop off — or never take off at all –– for a variety of factors, but one of the most crucial is your ad creative (copy, images, and video). 

Across our clients, Tuff manages anywhere from $1,500 – $100,000 / month in Facebook ad spend. This article pulls from this experience and outlines six factors we’ve identified that can indicate it’s time to update your Facebook ads creative. 

If you don’t have the time to read these detailed explanations, here’s the tl;dr on when to know it’s time to replace your Facebook ads creative: 

  • Campaigns costs are going up / objective completion
  • Ad frequency is getting high causing dreaded ‘ad fatigue’ 
  • Facebook ‘Ad Diagnostic’ scores are ‘below average’
  • Google Analytics is telling you performance has declined 
  • Facebook makes an update to any part of the user experience
  • You’re not selling more or generating more leads despite an initial bump in performance after the campaign launch 

If your ads just didn’t perform in the first place, check your targeting. Even the best ad creative will tank if you aren’t targeting the right audience.

Before jumping into this read, please note, much of what we discuss is irrelevant if your tracking is out of whack. This article assumes that the Facebook Pixel, Google Analytics, and/or other tracking mechanisms are in place to measure your Facebook Ad performance. Unless otherwise stated, all mentions about measurement and metrics are in reference to data available in the Facebook Ads manager and Google Analytics. 

Campaign costs are going up. Is the cost for your campaign objective going up?

We typically focus on Facebook campaign objectives of traffic, leads (website conversions), or eCommerce website purchases. If you’re seeing the average costs for these objectives go up, it may be time to update your ads. For instance, if your campaign used to average $4 per website conversion, but now averages $6, it may be time for an ad refresh.  

Before you get an update underway, verify that the ad set level learning phase is complete (it takes at least 50 events to exit the learning phase, so depending on your budget and campaign objective, it could take a few weeks to exit the learning phase!), no major edits have been done to the campaign, and that there aren’t external factors at play. For instance, an eCommerce apparel brand might see spikes around the holiday shopping season but then dip at the start of the new year. Or a boot camp designed to help med students study might see huge growth at the beginning of the semester, but then taper off after a few months.

Your ad frequency is getting high (AKA ad fatigue)

Ad frequency is an average of how many times people in your target audience have seen your ads. It’s calculated by dividing the total impressions by the total reach. 

Ad frequency report from Facebook Ads

Although there’s no hard and fast rule to abide by, our team likes to evaluate ads for declines in performance at around a frequency of 2. Ad frequency is more of an art form to evaluate though, because frequencies that trigger declines in performance may vary by industry and audience. We have seen frequencies of over 10 lead to conversions in niche B2B verticals. 

High frequencies often lead to a phenomenon called ‘ad fatigue’ wherein your audience is simply tired of seeing your ad. Unlike paid search where intent is high, social ads are intrusive, and interrupt a user’s feed. High frequency and decreasing performance may mean your audience is tired of your ad, and that you should fire up new copy and creative. 

Facebook Relevance Scores are Average or Below Average

Facebook has assigned a ‘relevancy’ score on ads for years. In summer 2019, they broke out relevancy into three categories outlined below. The relevancy scores are now out of three possible ratings, above average, average, and below average. If your ads are scoring ‘below average’ especially in the ‘conversion rate ranking’ or ‘quality ranking’ category, consider a media and copy update. 

Facebook Ad Relevance Diagnostic Categories 

  • Quality Ranking – does your ad ‘fit’ within your audience’s newsfeed? Your ad will receive the worst rating of ‘below average’ if your audience feels like the ad is salesy, trashy, or spam. 
  • Engagement Rate Ranking – similar to organic post’s engagement metrics, are users liking, commenting, and sharing your ad? If your ad can make these things happen you’ll land best marks of ‘above average’ in this category.  
  • Conversion Rate Ranking – will users take the conversion action you’ve optimized your campaign for? Scoring an ‘above average’ here, means users are more likely to ‘convert’ from your ad than average Facebook ads. 

These Facebook Ad Relevance Diagnostics are scored comparatively across ads on Facebook. The ‘below average’ rating in any category will also tell you if you’re in the bottom 35%, 20%, or 10% of ads overall. Poor marks in ad diagnostics are one of the best indications your ad creative should be updated. 

What does Google Analytics reporting tell you?

Google Analytics can be a great arbiter of truth by offering an unbiased look at your Facebook Ads performance. At Tuff, we’ve made it a practice to gut check Facebook campaign reporting with Google Analytics reporting (don’t be surprised when you see that the analytics differ between the two platforms – we often find our Facebook metrics to be slightly inflated compared to Google Analytics). 

Reviewing Facebook Ads with Google Analytics data.

Using UTM parameters on all Facebook ads allows us to see how the campaign objective, audience and creative perform. In Google Analytics, take a look at your Facebook campaign and individual ad set’s cost per session over time. Look at goal completions. If costs are going up or conversions are going down as reported by Google Analytics, it’s a good indicator that it is time to refresh your ads. 

Facebook makes (another) update

Facebook and Instagram are constantly evolving to improve the user experience, and some of those changes call for updates to your ad creative to stay timely and relevant. For example, TikTok and Instagram Reels have changed the way people watch video. Short, vertical videos edited in a style that matches a particular sound are killing it right now. 

When an update like this happens, it might be time to update your antiquated video creative to stay relevant. Remember, social ads interrupt a user’s feed – make sure you’re interrupting it with content that makes sense. 

How’s your bottom line looking?

Facebook and Google Analytics tracking isn’t perfect for a variety of reasons, so at the end of the day, it’s important to evaluate your own balance sheet. Are more or fewer customers becoming leads or making purchases online? Have increases to Facebook campaigns correlated with upticks in business? 

Because of differences in attribution between the two platforms, we often see goal increases in organic and direct site traffic that correlate with an increase in Facebook spend, even though Facebook has a seemingly negative ROAS. 

Is that uptick starting to wane? Use common sense, if you launched a $10,000/month Facebook campaign and saw an uptick in business, the campaign is likely playing a role. When performance declines, it’s time to reset.


Facebook thrives on novelty. People are on Facebook for a number of reasons, but when they’re in the app or on Facebook.com, it’s rare they’re looking for an advertiser’s product or service specifically. Ads should be optimized to stop someone’s scroll and get them to take action. 

As a rule, it’s often good to start planning your next round of Facebook ads before performance ever dips. This way, you’re not caught on your heels when one of the above factors causes a dip in performance. Though great ads paired with ideal audiences can have a tenure of several months, we like to plan for new Facebook Ads creative every 4-6 weeks.

Facebook shops.

Facebook Just Shook Up Your Ecommerce Strategy With Facebook Shops

How to setup Facebooks Shops and Instagram shopping.

Instagram Shopping and Facebook Shops are here, and they allow businesses to sell physical products directly through the Facebook and Instagram apps. The game-changing aspect is that there is check-out functionality so users can buy after a click on tagged product without ever leaving the apps.

In this article, I’m going to share details on how it works, how to set it up, and pros and cons of this new service. 

Here’s what’s included:  

  • What is Instagram Shopping and Facebook Shops? 
  • Purchase Flow From Post to Check-out
  • How to Set-up Instagram Shopping  
  • How to run a Facebook Ad that Includes a tagged product or catalog. 
  • Strategic Implications for Ecommerce Brands 

What is Facebook Shops and Instagram Shopping? 

On May 19th Facebook announced a new service, Facebook Shops to “…make it easy for businesses to set up a single online store for customers to access on both Facebook and Instagram.” Importantly, they also said, “We’re starting to roll out Facebook Shops today [May 19th, 2020], and it will be more widely available in the coming months.” So if you’re reading this in early summer 2020, there’s a chance this feature hasn’t been enabled for your Facebook Business Manager account yet. 

For people who have been in ecommerce and managed a catalog on Facebook this announcement was a long time coming since Facebook rolled out a Buy on Instagram beta this time last year to brands like Adidas, Uniqlo, Pottery Barn and other major retailers.

Key Features of Facebook Shops 

  • Tag products and collections in posts, stories, and live feeds  
  • ‘View Shop’ button on Instagram Profile 
  • Shop tab on Facebook Profile 
  • Facebook and Instagram Check-out (Requires a Facebook Commerce Manager account) 

From Post to Check-out; Instagram Shop Purchase Flow: 

Posts with products tagged from Facebook Shops will show a small briefcase. 

Example of a post with products tagged from Facebook Shops.

A white dot and view product overlay appears on the post when opened. 

Example post with products tagged from Facebook Shops

When the image is clicked the product name and price appear. Click again and product details open. 

Example post with products tagged from Facebook Shops.

Similar to an ecommerce checkout flow, a click on “Add to Bag”, transitions the user to the shopping cart with the option to proceed to checkout. 

Example of Facebook Shops user flow.
Checkout functions as you would expect on an ecommerce website or Amazon, but here’s where it gets weird: you’ve never left Instagram.

This checkout on Facebook and Instagram approach comes with two downsides.

  • A 5% fee paid to Facebook (Be sure to confirm this amount in the Facebook Commerce Manager in case the fee has changed since this article was published). The 5% transaction fee is considerably lower than Amazon’s 14-17% fee for apparel, though it’s likely Facebook is keeping this fee low to entice sellers to join.
  • Instagram Checkout makes it so users don’t visit your website, which may cause you to lose valuable analytics audience data, and the ability to retarget to users who start, but don’t complete checkout.  

The implications for Facebook and Instagram checkout are profound. Facebook is essentially becoming its own ecommerce platform. It’s likely they have ambitions for Amazon and Shopify’s new Shop app. Layer this ecommerce ambition with Facebook’s own Libra currency, and we could see a day when people around the world are pushed to use Libra rather than their own currency to transact in this environment, but this level of functionality is likely years in the future.

For those who don’t want check-out to take place in Facebook or Instagram either because of web traffic concerns or the Facebook transaction fees, there was an option to list products in Facebook Shops, but with a redirect back to a website as seen below. 

From Dan at Facebook Support, We have updated our checkout experience in order to create a more seamless and safe end-to-end shopping experience on Facebook.

This new feature will no longer allow users to be redirected to a third-party website. The checkout method available has been established within the Facebook site, and it can be managed through your Commerce Manager.

Moreover, you can still create posts promoting your products and your website and redirect users to your website using a URL link…

… the product that has been tagged in your Instagram Shopping will have an ability to redirect to your website, as long as your account has been approved for the Instagram Shopping feature.

Also, you can still tag the products and let the user redirect to your website.

The implication of this statement is that Instagram Posts like the one below will continue to have a ‘View on Website’ option as long as they want it, thus bypassing check-out in Instagram (or Facebook). 

Instagram shopping example.

The Three Steps to Set-up Your Instagram Storefront

Official Facebook Business Instagram Storefront Guide

1. Determine Eligibility (Must answer yes to all five questions)

    • Are you in an eligible market?  
    • Do you sell physical goods? (Facebook has hinted service offering will be available at a later date)
    • Can you comply with commerce policies? You’ll want to review Facebook’s 25 prohibited product categories. 
    • Is your Instagram Account setup as a Business Account? 
      • How to check: go to your Instagram settings, if there’s a settings option that says: “Switch to a Professional Account” then your profile is still a personal account.
    • Is there a Facebook Page connected to your Instagram Account? 

2. Get a Catalog Connected 

  • Option 1: Use the catalogs feature in your Facebook Business Manager account, which includes connecting to an existing catalog.
  • Option 2: Us a partner integration. Instagram Storefront catalog partners include: 

eCommerce integrations with Facebook.

3. Signup in the Instagram App.

  • Go to your business settings and tap ‘Business’ then tap ‘Instagram Shopping. Follow the prompts to set-up your Instagram Shop. 

That’s it! After step three there is an eligibility review period which will likely take 2-7 days depending on Facebook’s review bandwidth. Once approved you may begin product tagging within posts and stories (image only at this time, but additional placements including live feeds are in the works) on Instagram and Facebook. You’ll also have a ‘Instagram Store’ button on your profile.

How to run Instagram Ads with tagged products

Currently, there is no way to tag products when creating an ad in the Facebook Ads manager. What you can do however is use an organic post for your ad. 

When creating an ad in your Facebook Ad Account, use the “Use Existing Post” option. Select an Instagram or Facebook post with a tagged product or collection. 

Steps on how to run Instagram Ads with tagged products

If your account has had shopping enabled, the post will have a ‘Checkout’ toggle. 

Steps on how to run Instagram Ads with tagged products

Turning it on, will allow you to include the tagged product and a check-out in app. 

Strategic Implications and Considerations for Ecommerce Stores Determining if They Should Use Instagram Shopping 

The huge pro for ecommerce retailers moving forward with Instagram Shopping is the ability to reduce friction for shoppers. Clicking a post with a tagged product to ordering it can be done in under a minute. Facebook and Instagram store user billing and shipping info (You’ll now see this info in your own personal Instagram App settings), so there’s no need to add it on a seller’s website. In fact, there’s no need to visit a website at all, which in its current flow, will typically require users add the products to a cart, go to the cart, and check out. 

Another benefit is your listings can be on the Facebook Marketplace. Prior, the Marketplace was more like Facebook’s version of Craigslist for people to sell second hand items locally. The Facebook Marketplace is evolving to include product listings, and promoting products there both organically and in a promoted capacity could increase sales. 

For people interested in attribution, Instagram Shopping is huge. With actual transactions relayed through the Facebook Commerce Manager, there should be no question as to if a sale should be attributed to Facebook. This is huge for advertisers who grapple with website analytics not matching what’s reported by Facebook. 

There are downsides to Instagram Shopping. Facebook will be collecting a 5% transaction fee. This fee will likely rise overtime. There are lost analytics as users no longer interact with your website. This means there’s not an opportunity to build retargeting segments based on how far a user progressed with checkout. Should a company become too dependent on Instagram Shopping as a sales platform, they could face issues with changes to functionality and policies to the platform as is often seen with Amazon. Here’s one example of this (on Amazon) from a seller policy change last year.

As a brand new feature it’s also likely there will be bugs and hiccups along the way. Right now for example, it’s not clear how data from behavior in Instagram Shopping and Facebook Shops will be shared with the Facebook Ads manager data that’s often critical for Facebook Ads optimization. 

There are 120 million Instagram users in the US alone, and one billion users worldwide*. Facebook, Whatsapp, and Oculus have billions more, so leaning into this and allowing users to transact easily will make sense for many brands despite the downsides. 

I’d love to check out your account and see what’s possible for your ecommerce company. If you want to schedule a 30-minute strategy session to learn more, please do! 

A person shopping online.

How To Optimize Your Google Shopping Product Feed

Example of Google shopping ad.

Google shook up the world of eCommerce when it announced earlier this week that it was opening up it’s Shopping search results to free, unpaid listings. The historically paid-only placements will be made available to unpaid product listings, starting next week, as Google ramps up its plans to compete with Amazon to become a primary online shopping destination.

This exciting development will allow eCommerce companies, like Tuff partners Renogy, to unlock more premium placements in Google Shopping results, at no extra cost. Although paid Shopping product ads will take the top & bottom positions on each page of Shopping search results, free products will now make up the bulk of products featured.

What This Means For Your Shopping Strategy

With bidding & targeting out of the picture for most placements on Google Shopping search results, it is now feasible to expect that the majority of your Shopping impressions, and therefore clicks, may come from free Shopping search results as a result of strong product feed optimization. At the very least, it will provide a new source of free, high quality traffic to your products – and how often do those come around?

It’s a new kind of SEOShopping Engine Optimization (trademark pending) – and the opportunities are very exciting.

Veterans of Google Shopping and Merchant Center know that this has always been a deciding factor in winning paid Shopping placements. 

As an example, I recently created a new product feed for a Tuff partner, and set up Shopping campaigns. When I launched the campaign, I kept the product titles and descriptions the same as the Shopify site. I wanted to see how the products would perform with the original titles and descriptions.

The blue line on the chart below shows the impressions the campaign has received since launch. The red arrow indicates the day I made optimizations to the product feed, including updates to the titles and descriptions.

Google shopping feed optimization chart.

Almost immediately after I spent some time digging in and optimizing the product titles and descriptions, the impressions shot up. 🚀

It’s safe to assume similar optimizations will be necessary to rank high organically in the new, unpaid Google Shopping listings. 

How You Can Optimize Your Product Feed

If you’re a Google Shopping veteran, you already know the value of optimizing your product feed to give your product(s) the best chance at appearing on Google search results by matching with sought after search queries. Since you can’t target keywords on Google Shopping like you can with normal Search campaigns, strong product feed optimization has always been the way to effectively target keywords for your products.

However, with the opening of Google Shopping search results to unpaid listings, we can realistically expect a flood of eCommerce companies registering for a Merchant Center account for the first time to take advantage of this free, premium placement. 

This means more competition for the free search result placements as more eCommerce sites rush to link up their products to Merchant Center.

It’s time to dig-in and use product feed optimization to ensure your products climb to the top of the unpaid search results like they deserve to be.

Focusing on the following optimizations will give you a great start.

Product Titles

Sometimes there is no secret, just adhering to best practices to give yourself the best shot. When it comes to Shopping results, this is very true, especially in regards to how you title your products in your product feed.

When optimizing your titles, consider how you search for items on Google when you are actively shopping, and use that as initial guidance. 

You want to keep your product titles simple, yet descriptive, featuring a primary keyword string that will help your product surface for your desired search terms. You also want to make sure your title reads naturally, and you avoid ‘keyword stuffing’ your title.

As time goes on and you collect more data, be sure to evaluate the search terms that are triggering your products to surface. 

  • Are these the keywords you want? Great! 
  • Are you showing up for searches you don’t want? Add those as negative keywords. 
  • Have you found search terms you didn’t think of but are driving desired results? Consider adding them to your product title to trigger more often

Product Descriptions

In addition to your product title, your product descriptions are the only other spot to optimize product feed with text. Oftentimes, product descriptions in Google Shopping are underutilized. 

Google generously gives us 5,000(!) characters to use in this description. This is a lot of real estate to accurately describe your product while effectively including keywords that you want your product to surface for.

To put it another way, we are just now about to hit the 5,000 character count on this post in the next sentence (that wasn’t planned, but is a cool coincidence).

Just like with your product title, it’s important to keep your product description accurate and descriptive, while avoiding unnatural phrasing and ‘keyword stuffing’ that will negatively impact your products’ search results.

But with 5,000 characters to work with, be sure to create a lengthy description that hits a few of your target keywords, but most importantly,  is useful for shoppers and entices them to click.

Product Images

Speaking of enticing shoppers to click on your products, what could entice them to click more than a high-quality product image? 

A crisp, clean, high-quality product image is paramount to your success on Google Shopping. This image should consist of the product centered on a white background with no text over the product. 

Although the image doesn’t contain text, it does send one of the strongest signals to Google that helps determine your ranking in search results – click-through rate. 

The higher your product’s CTR, the more Google’s algorithm learns that this product is intriguing to shoppers who have searched for this particular search term. Because of this, Google’s algorithm will favor your product to surface more often, and in better positions on search results over time.

Over to you!

With free product listings launching on Google Shopping, the competition for unpaid placements will be fierce.

Now, possibly more so than ever, an optimized product feed is paramount to your success on Google Shopping. 

Using these optimization strategies, you’ll be well on your way to an optimized product feed and Google Shopping success.


Advertising brand on Instagram.

A Crash Course in Instagram Audiences for Your Social Media Ads

Advertising brand on Instagram.

With a global following of over one billion active monthly accounts (as of June 2018), it’s no wonder Instagram (IG) advertising is such a popular way for brands to build awareness. But where does one even begin on this beast of a platform?

Like with any platform, finding your ideal audiences will be a good start, and segmentation is a very effective way to do this (and it can be easily done on Instagram!). Once you’ve narrowed these down, you can start to test and segment your audiences to determine the very best ways to target them with social ads. Finally, you’ll want to keep them engaged over the long term so that your brand can continue to thrive, grow, and prosper.

In this post, we’ll talk you through ways to build Instagram audiences for social media ads, plus share ideas of how you can put these audiences to the best use.

How can I narrow down my Instagram audiences for ads?

Most likely you’ve already defined your brand, but if you haven’t already, it’s the first thing you’ll want to do. A solid understanding of your brand or brands will give you key insights into who your demographic is so that you can start narrowing down your Instagram audiences. It’s not rocket science, but you do want to be strategic. Doing so will save you so much time when crafting your content.

By the way, your Instagram audiences ARE your target consumers. On Instagram. That being said, not all of your target consumers are on Instagram, and not all Instagram users are your target audience, so a little IG research is going to go a long way.

Assuming you know the who, the what, and the why behind your product or service, you can start searching Instagram for the brands most similar to yours. For example, if your company makes simple graphic design tools for users, then maybe you’ll want to search for brands like Canva, PicMonkey, and Crella, for example. Dig deep here and figure out how their followers are engaging with them.

During your research, see if you can gauge which users are actual customers of your competitors. It’s really easy for people to like, follow, and even comment on Instagram, but if you can determine which ones spend (or intend to spend) money based on how they’re engaging, this will be really useful data.

Speaking of Canva, here’s an IG post for a current campaign of theirs where they’re donating all proceeds from paid images to Australia emergency bushfire relief and recovery programs.

Instagram ad example.

Check out the user comment on the top right and compare her comment with the user’s comment at the bottom with the clapping emojis. While there’s nothing wrong with claps because they still signify engagement, the user at the top is indicating more interest. Of course, there’s no concrete proof that she’s a Canva user, but it appears she has an affinity for the app. The more intel you can gather on users like her, the better. Take note, as these will be the types of followers you’ll want to go after (in your respective niche, of course).

What are some ways that I can test my audiences on Instagram?

Once you’ve narrowed down your market and gotten that part out of the way, the most daunting part of building up a following is done. The fire is lit, so what’s next?

For starters, you’ll want to determine how your followers are engaging with your Instagram content, and analytics tools are great for this. There are quite a few effective IG analytics tools that are totally free and there are some great ones that you can pay for as well. It really just depends on the types of features you want. There’s nothing wrong with reinvesting a little cold hard cash back into your brand, but it’s also nice to save those dollars from time to time. Try mixing it up.

IG analytics tools can give you actionable insights about your followers’ behavior –– information like when they’re online, what they want to see in their feeds, and what types of products they’re buying. This is going to help you to really target your audience which, in turn, will help you allocate your marketing budget more effectively.

Here are three of our favorite free and paid Instagram analytics tools:

  • Sprout Social: Sprout Social’s data-driven IG analytics tools is one of the most powerful analytics tools out there. It lets you do things like identify top posts during specific times, schedule and streamline your posts, and monitor hashtags. Plus, the reports themselves are very clean and easy to read.
  • Instagram Insights: IG Insights is, of course, a freebie and you definitely don’t want to underestimate its robustness. After all, it’s got the insider’s inside scoop on what’s happening with your audience, and it’s a very user-friendly tool as well. You can analyze your followers and access your precise demographics as well. Like Sprout, the reports are also easy to read, and the metrics it provides are super valuable.
  • Union Metrics: Union Metrics offers a full suite of tools for a fee, but they also have a free Instagram Account Checkup Tool. With the checkup tool, you’ll have access to detailed reports that analyze your most dedicated followers, average post engagement, and show you what your top hashtags are. It allows you to easily understand your metrics so that you can generate more effective campaigns.

Companies like Socialbakers, Iconosquare, and Squarelovin also make great analytics tools. The best way to test your audience is to switch up your ad content as often as possible and to try as many different tools as you can.

Another fantastic way to collect valuable data on your audiences is by taking advantage of the Instagram stories and polls feature to learn more about their likes and interests. The more data you’re gathering in different ways, the more you’ll be able to spot trends with accuracy so that you can really finetune your targeting tactics.

How should I segment my Instagram audiences?

Once you’ve uncovered some key trends within your audience, you can then start showing relevant ads to different segments of your IG followers. The reason why marketing segmentation is so important, in general, is that you can maximize your marketing budget and resources by targeting them more effectively. So, let’s get to segmenting on Instagram, specifically, and show you how to do this effectively.

First, if you’re using IG’s hyperlinked hashtags feature, this can be a great place to start. Presumably, by now, you’ve been doing your homework and testing your audiences, so you know who’s clicking on what. Your hyperlinked hashtags can give you some of the most valuable information you’ll collect on your followers because it tells you precisely which products they’re browsing. It’s also something that brings them one touchpoint closer to a purchase. If certain audience members are clicking repeatedly on specific hashtags, you now have some valuable information you can use to segment.

Generally, segmentation can be broken down into four main categories:

Instagram audience segmentation.

  • Geographic: Geographic segmentation lets you target your customers based on where they live. It’s effective because audience interests, values, trends, and preferences are going to vary in different cities, states, countries, and regions.
  • Behavioral: Through behavioral segmentation, you’re targeting your audience based on things like their purchasing habits, how they go through their decision-making process, and their attitude toward the brand.
  • Demographic: Demographic segmentation is the most popular segmenting strategy among marketers. It involves the process of dividing your followers up based on variables like age, gender, family size, and income, among other things.
  • Psychographic: Psychographic segmentation can be a little more challenging because it’s highly subjective, but it’s also very effective because of this. You’re targeting based on intrinsic traits that have to do with your respective audiences’ values, personalities, interests and opinions, motivators, and lifestyle choices.

If you’ve been in business for a while, but you’re simply trying to get more Instagram engagement (or you’re new to the platform altogether) the good news is that you probably know most of this stuff. Once you’ve figured out how to navigate Instagram and do the things we’ve already covered, like narrow your market and test your audience, you can segment based on what you already know about market segmentation.

After you’ve narrowed down your segments, Instagram lets you easily create custom audiences for your business by going to the “Audience” tab on your insights dashboard.

Custom audiences on Instagram.

Once you select “Audience”, you’ll be given the option to “Create a Custom Audience” from the dropdown menu. Follow the prompts from here to start creating your segments. Once you’ve done this, you can start using your marketing prowess to create ads that appeal to your different segments. Easy-peasy.

When is it time for me to test new audiences?

Finally, if your I.G. marketing strategy just isn’t working anymore, then it might be time to test out new audiences. Something to keep in mind is that demographics are always changing. New trends are constantly emerging, audiences get older, and populations become more racially and ethnically diverse. Remaining nimble and ahead of the curve will be a better tactic than simply waiting until your engagement is dropping, but if it does get to that point, try to act fast. Stay on top of what your followers are doing as well. All of this will help you to regroup and re-segment if and when necessary.

Other good times to test new audiences are in situations where you’re introducing a new product or service, or if you’re going through a company rebrand. If you’re already in the habit of constantly retooling your marketing message and adapting your product or service to suit a wide array of demographics, then an adaptation marketing strategy can also be very effective. When you have a business that experiences steady growth, then it’s a near guarantee that your audience is going to evolve and change, so just be prepared.

Understanding your Instagram audience is the best way to create growth strategies that work. The platform has the highest average engagement rate of all social media platforms, so it really is one powerful tool. Use these tips and tricks to make the most out of it so that you can start segmenting effectively and continue watching your brand soar to new heights.

Got more questions about finding your perfect audience using segmentation? We have answers. Give us a shout at hello@tuffgrowth.com or schedule a 30-minute strategy call with our team here. We’re looking forward to chatting with you and helping you plot your growth.



A Step-by-Step Guide to Scaling Your Ecommerce Business

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated with new links and fresh content. 

Original Publication Date: October 29, 2019

We created this guide to serve as a sort of one-stop-shop for understanding the components necessary to supercharge your existing ecommerce strategy, including how you can grow your sales profitable overtime. From learning how to setup Google Shopping campaigns to more advanced ecommerce SEO tips and tricks, we cover key traffic strategies to help you sell more online. 

Let’s dive in! 

Ecommerce PPC

The basics of PPC (pay-per-click) advertising are fairly simple: Instead of paying a flat rate to place an ad in one spot, you create an ad and then pay the publisher (usually a search engine like Google or Bing) every time someone clicks on it. PPC is essential for ecommerce businesses because it drives traffic directly to your website and, in the case of paid search ads, usually captures an audience that is already looking to make a purchase (aka has high commercial intent!). 

Here are five keys to maximizing the impact of your ecommerce PPC strategy:

1. Understand How Google Shopping and Amazon Advertising Work

Google Shopping has been around in some form or another for nearly 20 years now, but in 2012, it became a more organized and monetized service. It functions much like a marketplace in that it serves up a variety of products from different brands that match a user’s search query. 

However, rather than conducting all business within the platform like Amazon, eBay, or Etsy, Google Shopping merely aggregates options for the searcher. When a user clicks on a product, they’re taken to the retailer’s site to complete their purchase. It’s a way for consumers to shop for an item across multiple brands without the hassle of toggling among a half dozen websites. 

Much like Google Ads, there is a bidding system in place for Shopping that determines your ad’s placement on the SERP (search engine results page). We’ll talk more about how to develop a smart strategy to approach this bidding process a bit later in this article. 

Some of the benefits of advertising on Google Shopping rather than just sticking with paid search ads include: the opportunity for your product to appear multiple times in a given search (as a website result, a text-only PPC result, and a Shopping result); the chance to stand out from the competition with the use of visual imagery in an otherwise text-heavy experience; and the reality that Shopping ads have 30% higher conversion rates than text-only ads. 

Amazon advertising is a bit of a different beast. Chances are you’ve spotted these ads if you’re an avid Amazon shopper. When you input a search query, the results page will have some items that are very subtly marked with “Ad” or “Sponsored” just beneath the product image. 

They can also appear in sidebars and the “related to this item” roundups at the bottom of individual product pages. In addition to these Sponsored Product ads, Amazon also offers Headline Search and Product Display advertising options. They’re all priced using a cost-per-click method, but there is a lot of granularity in how you can manage campaigns for each of them (more on that below).

If you’re selling a product online and don’t have it strategically marketed in these two spots, you’re missing an opportunity. Let’s dive more into how to make these two types of PPC placements work for you and help you close that gap.

2. Set Up and Structure Accounts on Each Platform

To set up an account with Google Shopping, you’ll need to visit their Merchant Center. (Note: you’ll need a Google account of some sort, such as Gmail, to sign up.) From there, you’ll enter your business information and select the programs that fit your specific business goals. 

This is where you’ll select which type of Shopping ads you want to develop. The Product Shopping ad option lets you include an image of one product, a title for it, its price, and your business name. It will appear when people search for a term specific to that product (e.g., red high top sneakers).

A Showcase Shopping ad gives you the chance to share a little more information about your brand, as it allows you to group related products. These tend to pop up when a consumer searches for a broad term that aligns with your business (e.g., sneakers). 

The last option’s utility is a bit more niche. The Local Catalog ad option is a way for brands to highlight store-specific inventory in the searcher’s location. This can be very useful for businesses aiming both to boost ecommerce and to drive traffic to brick and mortar stores. 

From here, you’ll enter product information in your data feed and populate your campaigns. Google has a helpful onboarding guide that will assist you in setting everything up and navigating your dashboard to control your campaigns and manage your account settings.

To set up an account for Amazon advertising, you’ll first need to have a vendor account. If you don’t have one yet, you can check out the pricing options here. Once you have that established, your next step will be to determine what type of ads you want to utilize in your Amazon campaigns.

Sponsored Product ads are keyword-targeted and allow you to control your daily budget and campaign duration. You can also pause campaigns at any time.

Example of Amazon sponsored product ad.


Headline Search ads display in search results as a banner ad and redirect to a branded page. They’re also keyword-targeted, but you can use them to promote multiple products at once. There is a minimum spend of $100 on these campaigns, and you can set them up as much as four months in advance.

Example of Amazon headline search ad.


Lastly, there are Product Display ads. These are not keyword-targeted like the others, but rather interest- or product-targeted. You’ll choose from a long list of interests to target your ad to relevant shoppers.

Example of Amazon product display ad.

3. Navigate Google’s Bid Types

If you know your sales goals and have narrowed down a cost per sale target, when it comes to selecting your bid strategies in Google the question comes down to this: How much control do you want? While there are over a dozen bidding strategies for Google, here are three popular ones to consider at each end of the “control” spectrum: 

Full Control: Manual Cost Per Click (CPC)
Manual CPC bidding gives you control to set the maximum amount that you could pay for each click on your ads – and setting individual bids at the keyword level allows for the highest level of control. If you have the time and resources, we recommend starting here. Manual CPC bidding allows you to closely monitor your performance and make sure that none of your ads are overspending.

Some Control: Maximize Clicks
Maximize clicks is an automated bid strategy that sets your bids to help get as many clicks as possible within your budget. With this strategy, Google will work to get you as many clicks as possible within your daily budget. If you are trying to build your brand or have a website with an incredible conversion rate that holds at scale, try this out. Otherwise, stay clear because the quality is hard to control or regulate. Google is trying to get you as many clicks, not as many quality clicks.

Little Control: Target CPA
With target CPA, Google uses historical information about your campaigns and evaluates the  auction to find an optimal bid for your ad each time it’s eligible to appear. Google has complete control – you can’t leverage bid modifiers, favorite keywords, push spend to mobile, etc. Google will push tCPA hard because it allows them to automate your entire budget. While it seems nice from a management perspective (once you set it up you don’t have to optimize as frequently), we’ve found that CPA bidding is much more effective on display versus search. Either way, one thing to remember even if you’re using fully automated bidding – nothing should ever be set on auto-pilot.

4. Focus on Mobile Speed First

It’s no secret that a huge portion of consumers’ online shopping is taking place on mobile devices. While you can’t ignore desktop optimization, your first priority should be to ensure that your mobile site can keep up. 

If your checkout experience is anything but fluid, customers will leave your site. Remedy this by making sure you’re offering seamlessly integrated payment options like PayPal, Apple Pay, and Amazon Payments, which are all optimized for mobile shopping.

Similarly, if your pages take longer than a few seconds to load, customers will abandon your site. Test your site response times with this handy tool.

Set the speed to 3G and use that as your baseline for improvement. You may think your connection is faster than that, but setting it this low will ensure that no matter how busy or crowded the network is, mobile users can swiftly navigate your site. 

5. Ramp Up Remarketing With Display

The last element of getting the most out of your PPC budget is developing remarketing campaigns. This unique type of advertising allows you to target users who have already visited your site

The obvious benefit here is that you’re marketing to people who have already shown an interest in your brand. Additionally, because they’ve visited your site, you have more data about this audience segment. Which means you can craft campaigns with more specificity and granularity than if you were marketing to someone totally unfamiliar with your products. Google gives you multiple options for how to leverage this type of advertising.

Ecommerce Paid Social

Social media is so ubiquitous these days that nearly every business has established its presence on the major platforms. But is having a presence really enough? Your team probably has a complex strategy and management system for your social media content, which is important, but don’t overlook the impact you can make by including paid social advertising in your budget as well.

1. Conduct User Research and Build Audiences 

One of the biggest benefits of advertising on social media is the goldmine of data it provides. The insights you’ll gain from examining the people who interact with your brand will inform your entire marketing strategy going forward. Dig into the numbers and patterns to find out who your customers really are. 

On top of the valuable research angle, paid social also allows you to build audiences and target segments of your customer base (and potential new customers) more directly. Here’s a breakdown of the most important types of audiences you can build.

Build this audience by matching customers already in your system with their social profiles. You’ll ensure you’re reaching those customers not only through email marketing but also in the social spaces where they’re spending so much of their time. This is how retargeting audiences are built which we’ll get into later on.


This option allows you to create a group of consumers to target whose interests align with your product offerings. It differs from building a custom audience in that it seeks primarily to prospect to users that may not yet be familiar with your brand.

A great first step in determining an interest based audience is to do a Google Analytics behavior analysis to determine key age groups, geographies, genders, interests, and online behavior like type of device used when visiting your site or app. 

Getting too granular can be an issue with interest based audiences. If your audience size is too targeted (typically less than 10,000 users) costs for your social ads can go up as social ads struggle to find enough people to see your ad. People in a small audience may see your ad too many times leading to poorer and poorer results over time.


Lookalike audiences give you the chance to create a profile of your current customers in an effort to reach others like them. These are similar to the interest based audiences, but allow for significantly more granularity. This experiment showcases some of the distinct differences in targeting each group.

Lookalike audiences are especially effective when segments within them can be layered like geography, age groups, and interests. 

Lookalike audiences can be created using either an email list, they can be based on web traffic to your site, or by actions they take on your social media channels like following, or engaging with posts.


Often overlooked on social advertising but critical to success is retargeting. Retargeting will serve social ads to people who have already visited your site, or better yet, taken a key action like initiate checkout, subscribed, or viewed key content, like a product or resource page. 

When traffic to your site is high enough, retargeting can be segmented by date ranges, and actions they took. These users are then served ads that closely reflect the experience they had on your site, and encourages them to return to take action.

Overlap and Exclusions

To squeeze even more efficiency out of your social ads, avoid audience overlap. Audience overlap is when two separate campaigns or ad sets are serving ads to the same users. This means you’re competing for the same users from the same ad account, which will cause your advertising costs to go up. 

Facebook has very graciously provided an audience overlap tool so advertisers can see just how much their audiences overlap. Ideally, there will be no audience overlap, however, that can prove quite challenging. As a rule, always aim be below 10% audience overlap. 

To avoid audience overlap, add exclusions to your ad sets. The audiences anticipated to have the best conversion rates should have the fewest exclusions. For instance, here’s an example of how audience exclusions would look for a Facebook Ads eCommerce account:

  • Cart Abandon Audience 
    • Exclude purchases in last 90 days – this is so people who’ve recently purchased aren’t served ads, considered a best practice. 
  • Retargeting Audience 
    • Exclude purchases in last 90 days
    • Exclude cart abandon audience 
  • Purchase Lookalike Audience 
    • Exclude purchases in last 90 days
    • Exclude cart abandon audience
    • Exclude retargeting audience 
  • Interest Targeting Audience 
    • Exclude purchases in last 90 days
    • Exclude cart abandon audience
    • Exclude retargeting audience
    • Excluded purchase lookalike audience  

You will see here that the interest based audience has the most exclusions because the prior three audiences are anticipated to have the best performance. Done in a vacuum, users would only be seeing ads from one of these audiences, which will essentially eliminate all audience overlap.

2. Optimize for Clicks and Sales 

Even if you’ve built beautifully curated audiences, you still want to make sure what you’re spending on social is providing good ROI, right? You can’t skip out on the important steps of clearly defining your objectives, optimizing your settings, and selecting the right bid strategy. 

Prioritize consideration (clicks) and conversion (sales) above all else to ensure that your ads are being served up in the right ways and at the right times. When it comes to optimization, be very specific about what you consider success for this campaign. 

The algorithm is intelligent, but it’s not human. Make sure your selected objective drives clicks and sales, as the algorithm will ultimately only do what you tell it to do. 

Lastly, take a look at your bidding strategy and budget, as this will tell the algorithm what you’re willing to spend on each impression. Decide what’s more important: giving the algorithm the freedom to reach a much wider audience, or keeping tight control over how much you’re spending per optimization.

3. Creative Copy for eCommerce Social Ads

To sell via social ads on channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, you have to have copy and creative that draws your audience in. You must remember your audience is on social media for personal enjoyment, so your copy and creative will need to coax them out of the comfort of their scroll or swipe, and convince them to act. 

Below we talk about dynamic retargeting, which is one of the most effective ad types on e-commerce because it’s showing a user a product they are already interested in. Your dynamic retargeting ads should have copy that includes an incentive to return ad act. e.g. “Free shipping for a limited time; $10 Off with offer code 10RIGHTNOW; etc., 

Your dynamic retargeting can be dialed, but if your top of funnel prospecting campaigns using lookalike and interest based audiences are not bringing in traffic to feed your dynamic retargeting campaign, then you may never see success. 

Prospecting copy will introduce your audience to your product, a benefit should be expressed early, and the product should be clearly presented in the ad or video imagery. The best practice is to test multiple creatives per audience, turning off any ads with creative that don’t resonate with the audiences you are targeting.

Using Real Photos as Social Proof 

Social proof is a powerful weapon that every marketer should have in their arsenal. The concept behind it is that consumers will alter their behavior based on “proof” from their peers that a product or service is worthwhile. There are lots of different ways to integrate social proof into your paid social, but we find that using actual photos is an especially compelling one. 

It can be tempting to use glossy stock photography in your paid social. After all, you can find some impressive images through those channels. But authenticity and genuine customer connection often don’t come along with them. 

Take the time to create dynamic imagery of your own. This could be of your products, influencers, endorsements, accolades, or behind-the-scenes peeks of your team at work. Prove to consumers that your brand is worth not only investigation but an investment. 

When It’s Time to Update Your Social Ads

Knowing when to update your ad creative is both an art and a science. We write about triggers to watch for to know when it’s time to update your Facebook and Instagram ad creative, here.

In a nutshell, you will be looking at a variety of metrics like costs, results, frequency, and more. Facebook provides trendlines of costs and results for campaigns, ad sets, and ads, in the ads manager, which can be a nice visual indicator of costs going up, and results going down — the key trigger for rethinking eCommerce social ads creative.

4. Ramp Up Remarketing With Dynamic Product Ads

Just as with paid search, remarketing should be an important part of your paid social strategy. Retargeting this unique audience that has already visited your site but failed to convert requires a special approach. On social, we suggest using dynamic product ads to reach them. 

A dynamic product ad will look like any other ad you place on social, but instead of creating unique ads for each item you want to promote, these dynamic ads allow you to build a template. From there, you can drop in product information and imagery that is specific to the audience you’re trying to retarget.

Example of a Facebook dynamic product ad.

When a consumer in this segment views your ad, it will populate with information on the specific products they visited on your site. The intention here is to spark their memory and entice them to come back and complete a transaction with you. 

Ecommerce SEO

Ranking well on the major search engines is a huge part of the battle when it comes to scaling your ecommerce business. That’s why SEO is so incredibly important. Any good ecommerce growth marketing strategy will put considerable effort into fine-tuning your website to optimize this performance metric. There are four main steps you need to undertake when evaluating your SEO approach.

1. Conduct a Site Audit

This is your opportunity to see under the hood of your website’s on-page SEO performance. It will give you a benchmark for where you are now and let you know what is and isn’t working with your current strategy.

There are a number of great audit tools available these days. They’re each priced differently, and they’ll have varying strengths and weaknesses. We suggest choosing the combination of tools that performs best for the metrics you’re looking to evaluate.

2. Research the Best Keywords for Your Ecommerce Site

Keywords are the primary driver of good SEO. You may feel like you have a good idea of what keywords you want to rank for, but just going on that hunch will not help you unlock the kind of growth you’re looking for. You need to dig deeper.

Take every page on your website and research the optimal keywords for each one. Yes, this will take time, but we promise it’s worth it! Prioritize mapping the most important pages on your site first, so pull up your Google Analytics account and figure out which pages are the top sources of revenue for your site.

From here, focus on unearthing the very best head and long-tail keywords for those pages. For head keywords, it can help to figure out what keywords you’re currently ranking highly for and what other sites and pages are ranking highly with you.

This research will give you insight into what consumers are looking for when they search for that term. You want to select a head keyword that you can be competitive for and one that is tangibly driving folks to your site. 

Long-tail keywords, alternately, give you an opportunity to rank for more detailed terms that are likely more specific to your business. They will have significantly less competition than broader terms (think “black dress” versus “black cocktail dress with sequins”) and therefore can be a cost-effective way to get more eyes on your site.

There are a number of keyword explorers you can use to help find these long-tail search terms, but you can also DIY a bit by typing a broader search term into Google and seeing what it auto-suggests for more specific terms. You can also look at the results in the “people also ask” box as well as the “searches related to” area at the bottom of the SERP. 

3. Optimize Your Meta Titles, Descriptions, and H1s

You’ve got your keywords set. Time to update your titles, descriptions, and headings to help support the structure you’ve built and drive visitors to those pages. Writing completely unique copy for these for every single page on your site would take forever, but don’t fall for the claim that it’s okay to use a single template and apply it sitewide.

Instead, approach it like you did your keyword research, and first find the most important pages on your site (those that rank in the top 10 for a particular keyword). For each of those, craft a specific meta title, description, and heading. You can use a loose template for the other pages by grouping them into related categories and assigning a meta title, description, and heading to all the pages under that umbrella. 

When creating the copy here, make sure you’re always using that head keyword you chose, as well as putting in some of those long-tail keywords where they make sense. You also want to make sure you’re using compelling and actionable language (e.g., “buy,” “click,” “sale,” “free”) as well as plugging any unique perks you provide the customer, such as free shipping or free returns.

4. Create Valuable Content and Hub Pages 

Getting eyes on your product pages is the ultimate goal of ecommerce marketing, but it’s also the biggest challenge. If you approach it correctly, though, your content marketing will drive business continually back to those pages, increasing your conversions.

People love clicking on sources that provide them with quality information, especially if they relate to a niche topic. Blog posts are a great way to provide that value and attract visitors to your site. And while they’re there, you have the opportunity to direct them to your product pages—if you play your cards right.

If you create a lot of content around similar themes, consider creating a “hub page” that aggregates all the content you’ve produced about that topic into one place for readers to explore. This also helps improve your search ranking, as it prevents your blog posts from competing against each other in the rankings and, rather, drives all traffic to that hub page, boosting it significantly higher in the rankings.

Strategically putting internal links into your blogs can also help drive sales. Link back to that hub page to reiterate the value of your content and your brand, but also link to product pages within the content to push conversions. When doing so, though, consider your audience, and imagine what someone who is reading this blog would truly need from your product catalog. 

For example, if you sell leather boots and you write a thorough blog post about how to clean and condition them properly, you can safely assume that most of the people reading it already own a pair of leather boots. You’ll want to link, then, to specific items from your line of cleaning and care products, rather than just your main category page for boots. 

Next Step: Growth

If you want to grow your ecommerce business consistently and efficiently, you need to think of online sales not as one or two specific campaigns or tactics but as a process—one that goes beyond the surface of channels and dives further into the sales funnel, using data-driven analysis and experimentation to unlock avenues of growth for your ecommerce business. 

Our team has years of experience navigating the world of ecommerce growth marketing, and we’d love to talk to you about what we’ve learned. If you’re interested in having a conversation about what this would look like for your business, get in touch. We can set up a free 30-minute strategy session for you. 

We’ll take a look at your business’s unique circumstances and goals, put our heads together, and toss around some ideas about directions for sustainable growth. If nothing else, this exercise can help you shake up your thought process and start thinking about where you want to go from here and what you need to do to get there.

We’d love to work with you.

Schedule a call with our team and we’ll analyze your marketing, product, metrics, and business. Then, present a Growth Plan with actionable strategies to find and keep more engaged customers.


Inside Look: How We Use Ecommerce Retargeting to Increase Sales

We’ve all had this experience:

You’re scrolling your Facebook feed or reading an article, only to spot an ad for a website you recently visited. It may be a site you checked out briefly, or you may have gone so far as to put items in your shopping cart before changing your mind about pulling the trigger.

Either way, that company tracked your engagement with them, and they’re now using ecommerce retargeting campaigns to serve you ads to stimulate further interaction and, ultimately, turn you into a lead, sale, or client.

Annoying? Sometimes.

Effective? Yes.

Retargeting is one of the most powerful and effective paid acquisition strategies you can use to drive sales. It also happens to be a strategy most of our clients are curious about.

It’s not uncommon for 95% or more of your site’s visitors to leave without making a purchase.

Ensuring they visit your site more than once is essential if you hope to have any chance of converting them. Retargeting is a direct and purposeful way to increase the chances of someone coming back to your online store.

We’re often asked: How are brands and businesses succeeding with retargeting today? And how do we leverage retargeting to increase ROAS and drive more sales for our online store?

We optimize retargeting campaigns every day and are eager to share what’s working on Facebook and Instagram.

Let’s dive in.

How does ecommerce retargeting work?

The most common type of retargeting ad is pixel-based. This means that when someone visits your site and checks out a page, a bit of JavaScript called a pixel is left in their browser.

This makes their browser “cookied” and allows you to target your advertising to their movements on your site. This type of retargeting can be done immediately upon the user leaving your site and will be ultra-tailored to the content or product they were viewing.

You can also approach retargeting in a list-based fashion, meaning that you can create ads targeted to specific lists of customers for which you already have contact information.

This can be a more customized way to approach retargeting since it considers more than just one instance of customer behavior and allows you to cultivate a particular audience more thoughtfully.

Is retargeting right for my business?

Once you’re regularly clocking 1,000+ monthly visitors to your site, retargeting is a no brainer. It should be a core part of your ecommerce Facebook ad strategy.

It also tends to work best when approached proactively, rather than implemented as a reaction to falling traffic or poor conversion rates. For example, when you build a prospecting campaign to draw in new potential customers, you should already have plans in place to redirect that audience to your site via retargeting ads.

Retargeting has a significant ROAS (an underutilized metric that you should be paying attention to) and, if planned in advance with your initial campaign, can net you 20% more new customers without too much added cost.

Retargeting is an especially useful tool for brands with a multitude of products, as it allows you to tailor ad content to very specific customer segments.

Say you’re a shoe company that sells footwear for a wide variety of athletes. You would set up individual retargeting campaigns for runners, tennis players, basketball players, and more, guaranteeing that the ad content is highly personalized and relevant to the consumer viewing it.

What results can I expect with retargeting?

If you’re wondering if retargeting is really that effective, it might help to see some hard numbers.

In May, Tuff spent $2,161.30 on Facebook for a client of ours. Thirty-five percent of that spend was allocated to retargeting campaigns.

From the retargeting ads specifically, we generated and completed 98 sales for a total sales figure of $2,450. That’s a 362% ROI.

Facebook ads manager with ecommerce campaigns highlighted.

A big part of why retargeting is so effective is that it speaks more directly to potential customers.

When you’re advertising to a totally new audience, your ultimate goal is to spark interest in your brand. With retargeting, you already know the customer is interested, which means your copy and creative can be more specific and personalized to their exact interests.

For this client, we launched their ecommerce retargeting campaigns by driving quality traffic to the site and then retargeting users to bring them back to the product purchase page they had previously visited. Our goal with these ads was to enable people to click on the ad and be taken directly to the next step in the sales funnel.

Every industry is different but here are three main types of retargeting ads, at a minimum, we recommend running:

3-Day Retarget

This can be an opportunity to squash any hesitation they had from making the purchase the first time they were on your site. Maybe the timing was wrong, they were in the middle of something, or maybe they need the social proof of a testimonial to push them to convert.

Facebook ecommerce campaign.

7-Day Retarget

This is a good time to introduce any special offers you might already have running. You don’t necessarily need to create them for retargeting ads but highlight them to help encourage this purchase.

Facebook ecommerce retargeting campaign.

Cart Abandoners

This is an exciting group. They got so far as to select items and add them to their cart so you know they’re interested. A cart abandoner ad is hopefully the final reminder and push they need to commit.

Facebook ecommerce retargeting ad example.

How is retargeting different from traditional Facebook ads?

While retargeting is an essential piece of any ecommerce ppc strategy, you cannot approach it in the same way as traditional ads. There are two key things you must remember when you’re attempting to develop a plan for retargeting.

1. It requires a dedicated strategy.

As tempted as you may be to make your retargeting efforts match up with the rest of your ecommerce Facebook ad strategy for the sake of ease, don’t do it. Retargeting is a very unique type of paid advertising, and it deserves its own individualized plan.

Retargeting ads can become incredibly obnoxious to potential customers, so you have to walk a fine line. You want to be present as they navigate around the web, but you don’t want them to see the ad so much they start to loathe your brand. Oversaturation is a real concern here.

You also want the design, copy, and landing page to be just right. Avoid the type of design and copy that scream “marketing blitz.”

Use this opportunity to tailor the ad to the exact product or page the customer visited on your site. Make the copy fun, quirky, and compelling. Give them a reason to revisit, and make sure the ad sends them to the right place when they do.

Here’s one of our favorite retargeting ads from this year that demonstrates how creative you can get with copy:

Facebook cart abandoner ecommerce retargeting campaign.

2. It should be tested and tested and tested.

The name of the game with retargeting is continuous optimization. The longer your retargeting ad runs, the more familiar people become with your brand.

If you’re on a tight budget, identify which testing elements have the highest ROI before you start tweaking things. We normally recommend a focus on the following elements:

  • Ad visual
  • Ad copy (especially the headline)
  • Ad delivery objectives

Here is how this looks when applied in a real campaign. For the below example, all we wanted to test was the image. The headline, text, and description are all the same. The image on the right received 2x more clicks for $0.10 less than the image on the left.

Facebook ecommerce campaign.

Facebook ecommerce campaign.

How do I get started?

If you’ve not integrated retargeting into your marketing strategy yet, let’s do it. It is hands-down one of the most cost-effective ways to increase your online sales. It’s also easy to get started, even if you haven’t done much paid advertising in the past.

If you’re interested in learning more about retargeting and other tools that can help you increase customer conversion, schedule a free growth strategy session with our team. We’ll learn more about your growth goals and help you think through ideas for growing your business.

We’d love to work with you.

Schedule a call with our team and we’ll analyze your marketing, product, metrics, and business. Then, present a Growth Plan with actionable strategies to find and keep more engaged customers.



How Good is Your Paid Advertising, Really?

How does your paid advertising stack up, compared to your competitors? Where does it fall compared to other businesses where your customers spend money?

Whether you’re doing PPC for the first time or your company has been running campaigns for years, it can be daunting to know whether or not you’re doing a good job. In fact, benchmarking your paid advertising against other companies can be more complicated than measuring the results of your own efforts.

Here’s a simple 3-step process for creating your benchmarking report:

1. Understand the metrics that matter most

Earlier this year, Wordstream dug into their clients PPC data and compiled Google AdWords benchmarks across 20 different industries.

They evaluated their accounts based on the following metrics:

  • Average Click-Through Rate (CTR) in AdWords by industry, for Search and Display
  • Average Cost per Click (CPC) in AdWords by industry, for Search and Display
  • Average Conversion Rate (CVR) in AdWords by industry, for Search and Display
  • Average Cost per Action (CPA) in AdWords by industry, for Search and Display

These metrics vary depending on industry. A useful metric for one industry isn’t necessarily helpful for another. What’s important is that you don’t need to compare every possible metric. With the four metrics above, you’ll have a good sense of what is working and what isn’t and how you can improve.

2. Collect data

Now that you have target metrics for your industries paid advertising, the next step is the execute your campaigns. Once you’ve hit “enable”, your campaigns will start running and the data will begin to populate in your account.

Instead of focusing on a short window of time, we like to focus on at least 30 days. You don’t want to get buried in too much data, but you do need enough data for your evaluation to be statistically relevant.

3. Analyze the results

At this stage, you’ll map your internal scores for the same metrics against your collected data. Where are you doing well? Where are you falling behind? What smart ideas can you quickly implement? How can you improve?

Let’s look at two different Tuff client accounts and walk through different ways you can analyze and understand your results.


Tuff has been partnering with a high-end jeweler in the US for over 2 years. Working closely with their marketing team, we manage their paid advertising for YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Bing, and Adwords, spending around $150,000 per month in media allocations.

In the chart below, we’ve compared their Q1 Search Performance with the industry average. Here’s how our team tackled the assessment:

CTR: We’re only slightly above the average on CTR which made this feel like a key opportunity to improve. Using this info, we sorted our ads from top performing to lowest performing. We kept our top 50% and generated a new set of ads to replace to lower CTR ads. We also layered on two new ad formats: Call Only Ads and Responsive Search Ads.

CPC: Our cost per click is higher than average so we can tackle this in a few ways. We started by asking two fundamental questions: Can we identify keywords that have a high number of impressions and clicks, but zero conversions, orders, or sales? If so, let’s kill them. And can we use more restrictive match types (modified broad and exact) to filter out unqualified traffic? If so, let’s tighten up our match types so we can eliminate waste.

CVR: For now, no action items within the account. We’ll continue to monitor and tackle this next benchmark report.

CTA: This is one of our favorite metrics. How much did it cost you to acquire a lead, sale, conversion? This account has 56 search campaigns with a different CPA for each. We know exactly how many leads we need to convert a sale and what are ROI targets are at each campaign. Compared to the industry we’re $18.57 above average. However, we know that our products, at a higher price point than traditional eCommerce, still have a positive return. Since the campaigns are still very profitable at a $63.84 CPA, this metric isn’t super concerning. That said, one way to get this down would be to consider offering a promotion or deal with our retargeting efforts on display. This won’t lower the Search CPA, but it should help increase post-view conversions from Search.  


Here’s another example from one of our B2B clients. This company is relatively new to the market but growing fast in the small business bookkeeping and accounting space. We manage their paid advertising for both Facebook and Adwords, allocating 20k per month across both channels.

Here’s how our team tackled the assessment:

CTR: Nice! We’re up significantly here. This could mean that our positioning is relevant and unique to our competition in the space. While we didn’t make any adjustments to the ads in this account, we did pull the top performing ads for the entire marketing team so that we could leverage that positioning in other channels such as email, Facebook, Instagram, and landing pages.

CPC: We’re spending 3x more than the industry average on clicks, so it was important to dig in here. The first thing we did was look at our keyword position and the required minimum bid to stay on the first page of results. The keywords in this industry are expensive and in order to stay in the top 3 positions, not the first but an average of 2, we had to bid pretty high. The account quality score is high, so we know that spend is one of the best ways to keep us on page 1. One of the tools we use to see keyword bid trends is Google’s Keyword Planner. We use this before we launch campaigns and during optimization so we know an estimate on what things will cost.

CVR: Wow! Big high five to our client on creating high-converting landing pages. While there were no direct actions to take on this one, we did analyze which campaigns had the highest and lowest conversion rates. For any campaigns that we’re budget capped and converting at a high-rate, we increased budget.

CTA: Over by $5 and working to bring this down. Since this is an average and the account has 31 search campaigns, can we identify any campaigns that are 2x over the CPA average? If so, how do we bring them down? This benchmark was helpful in understanding which campaigns we need to focus on the most to see the most significant change in results.

Key takeaways:

  • Use the data to understand your account metrics but not to shut things down immediately if you don’t hit it out of the park on your first swing. As you can see from our eCommerce example, things look pretty red. The benchmark report gives you a chance to identify focus areas and improve.
  • Understand where you fall on the industry paid advertising spectrum. These benchmarks are averages, and it’s important to know where you fall on the spectrum. In our eCommerce example, the average product price is $10,000. This account sees very different results than a lower price product account.
  • Benchmarks give you a place to focus but aren’t the only indicator of success or failure. We always go back to one key metric: ROI. When you understand which campaigns and channels are actually generating revenue, you’ll know where you’re making or losing money and how to move forward.

Over to you! 

We’re excited to share our strategies, open up conversations on PPC and learn all together. What benchmarking strategies do you lean on when looking to evaluate results?

If you’re short on capacity, you can get some of the benefit of benchmarking with significantly less effort by contacting Tuff for a free growth strategy session. We’ll analyze your paid advertising and present your top growth opportunities in a PDF.

We’d love to work with you.

Schedule a call with our team and we’ll analyze your marketing, product, metrics, and business. Then, present a Growth Plan with actionable strategies to find and keep more engaged customers.