Tag Archive for: ecommerce

holiday ecommerce sales

How We Used Mountain for Tea Drops to Boost Their Holiday eCommerce Sales

holiday ecommerce sales

When it comes to growth through paid acquisition, diversity is the name of the game. Diversity in messaging, diversity in tactics and diversity in channels. In this case study, we’re going to be talking about the last one: Channel Diversification. 

There are so many different channel options out there, it can be difficult to choose what’s best for your company. As part of being an ecommerce growth marketing agency, we’re always on the lookout for new channel options to help our partners hit their revenue targets. It’s important to have a healthy mix of channels to hit users on different platforms at various stages of their buying journey.

Looking to generate very, very high level awareness? Maybe try ads through a programmatic connected TV platform.

Picking up users who have an interest in the types of products you sell? Facebook and Instagram would be a good fit.

Want users who are searching directly for a solution your product provides? Google ads will do the trick there. 

Building a comprehensive growth marketing strategy typically includes a combination of all of the above, with some more channels sprinkled in. This is exactly what Tea Drops, one of our partners, asked us to do for them when they teamed up with Tuff towards the end of Q3 2021. 

Tea Drops and Tuff

Tea Drops is a CPG brand that figured out a new, unique take on one of morning’s most simple pleasures, the cup of tea. Their compressed drops dissolve in hot water, giving you the perfect cup of tea without dealing with the bag. 

“Tuff is an amazing team, extremely organized, and driven to produce results! We have churned through multiple agencies in our lifetime, and have been so impressed by Tuff.” – Sashee Chandran, Founder and CEO at Tea Drops (See all Google Reviews here).

Tea Drops came to us in September looking for help growing their brand and sales online through paid acquisition. They had seen some success in the past but needed a team to bring some stability to their network of acquisition channels, as well as a strategy to make these channels work together. At the time of the partnership starting, we had identified 5 channels we wanted to run ads on for them:

  • Facebook/Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Tik Tok
  • Google
  • Bing

This combination of channels would give us full coverage of the funnel and allow us to hit users at any point of their buying journey. 

As we moved closer to Black Friday/Cyber Monday we saw success across channels but were running into an interesting problem on paid social: We were having trouble converting retargeting traffic. We saw strong results coming in from cold traffic, but when going after users who had already been to the site we didn’t see the same efficiencies. Retargeting is typically an area where you see higher efficiency, so this was clearly a problem that needed addressing. 

At this point we knew that we needed a different solution to convert retargeting traffic that our existing channel mix couldn’t provide, so we turned to Mountain.

How we used Mountain for Tea Drops.

As I mentioned earlier, the team at Tuff is always trying to expand our channel expertise. As we take on different types of partners, programmatic ads have been showing up in our channel mixes more and more. There are a ton of different programmatic channels out there for advertisers, but Tea Drops had an account set up with Mountain already with historical spend, so we started there. 

There are two main offerings from Mountain, connected TV ads and display network ads. Since we’re focused on driving last click conversion for Tea Drops, we stayed away from the connected TV offering and decided to introduce ads on the display network (for more info on how to decide which attribution model is right for you, check out this post.)

We needed a solution for the very bottom of the funnel, so we set up our campaigns to only target users who I’ve added items to their cart, but have not completed a purchase. On the creative side, we used one of Mountain’s dynamic options to set our ad creative to populate with products that that user had either added to their cart or had browsed on the website. This was accomplished by making sure that the link between Shopify and Mountain was populating the product catalog correctly on the ad platform side, and that our Mountain pixel tracking was set up properly.

The dynamic aspects of the ad creative alongside a 15% off offer yielded really strong results f

dynamic ad creative for holiday sales

or us almost immediately after activating this campaign. As we moved past Black Friday and Cyber Monday and into the month 

of December, which can always be a tricky month for e-commerce advertisers, we were able to rely on Mountain to deliver low cost, bottom of funnel purchases where our other paid social channels fell short.

This channel was treated as very much a supplementary channel to our overall mix. Given that we were only targeting users who have added to cart without purchasing, we didn’t need to dedicate a large amount of budget to Mountain. For the month of December, we decided that this channel would take 1.5% of our overall ad budget. We have the benefit of testing it for a couple weeks before moving into this crucial holiday to find where the optimal spend would be for our audience.


Tea Drops did very well advertising on the channels that we outlined earlier during Black Friday and Cyber Monday but there was a big question mark around how we would perform early in the month of December. This is a time of year that people typically associate with increased purchasing but it can be hard to forecast revenue numbers and purchase intent coming off the back of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which is typically a more lucrative time for e-commerce businesses. 

As we moved into early December, Mountain really started to pick up in terms of purchase volume and efficiency where some of our other channels took a step back coming off Black Friday deals that we were advertising. 

For Tea Drops, we have very clear CPA goals for each of our channels we’re running ads on. During the first two weeks of December, Mountain was able to deliver purchases at a cost of $14.14 each, which was more than 50% lower than our target CPA across paid social channels. This is a huge boost for us, especially considering that we were not seeing efficient purchases coming at the bottom of the funnel with our Facebook and Instagram ads, which were taking up the majority of our budget. 

By placing only 1.5% of our ad budget to Mountain, it generated 3.5% of our total attributed purchases for the month of December. This might sound like a small number, but when you’re dealing with larger budgets, this can make a big difference to the bottom line.


If you’ve gotten this far in the post you might be asking yourself “Why is there an entire post dedicated to a tactic that took 1.5% of a partner’s budget?” 

This is really the core of what Growth Marketers and Channel Experts do here at Tuff. If there’s any opportunity to find more efficient results by using different tactics or different channels, it’s pretty much a guarantee that we are going to explore it. This might sound corny, but driving great results for our partners is what gets us out of bed in the morning. It helped us bring great results Tea Drops during a crucial time of year for them and it’s an approach that we take all of our partners.

If you’re interested in seeing what sort of Channel mix our team would recommend for your eCommerce business reach out and set up a call with our team. We’d love to chat.

shoes for an ecommerce case study

Stacking the Top of the Funnel: How We Captured High-Value Email Leads for Canoe Club

ecommerce quiz example

Among our list of eCommerce partners, the central focus of nearly all of their growth marketing strategies is the same: grow revenue. So, in order to do this, channel selection and tactics are primarily focused on driving customers to their websites who convert the most efficiently. That way, we’ll be able to scale their businesses and put marketing dollars towards the channels with the highest return. Winning.

While there are many metrics to keep track of and many ways to measure the success of revenue-driving campaigns, at Tuff, we cut through the noise and hone in on last-click attribution. This is the best way to quickly learn which channels are most effective and deserve the most attention from our paid ad budgets. 

9 times out of 10, last click is a great performance indicator for growing a brand, But what about the other 10% of the time? What’s the right strategic approach for eCommerce brands that have longer customer journeys? We most often see these longer journeys associated with luxury items that are higher priced—here, the customers spend more time in the consideration phase, making sure their decision to buy is right before they pay the high ticket price.

In those scenarios, we still keep last click as our preferred attribution model, but instead of locking in on just revenue as our main goal, we add leads into the equation as well.

Here’s how we do it: 

eCommerce Lead Generation: is it right for me?

For eCommerce lead generation to be a smart tactic for your brand to employ, you need a dedicated email marketing funnel—one that you’re managing relatively hands-on and improving on a regular basis. You also need some sort of sales strategy designed to convert your leads. You also need a way to qualify leads and have a measurable way to determine their value or potential value. Without these two mechanisms, lead generation will not work for your eCommerce brand. 

I have an eCommerce popup, does that count as lead generation?

To get super pointed with a definition: lead generation is defined as the initiation of consumer interest into products or services of a business. 

While eCommerce website popups are one proven way to grab website visitors’ emails in exchange for a free shipping or percentage offer discount, they can limit the consumer experience and hurt your perception (blame this on their overuse in the last decade). 

Our new favorite eCommerce Trend for lead generation is to develop a standout quiz or poll to capture contact information and provide you with the following: 

  • A way to prove your industry expertise.
  • A non-aggressive tactic to grab consumer insight.

Can you show me an example of an eCommerce Lead Generation Strategy?

Why yes, we can!

One of our partners, Canoe Club, is a high-end fashion retailer based in Boulder, CO. 

From a marketing standpoint their products differ from traditional eCommerce brands in two distinct ways: 

  1. Their inventory is ever-changing. Products from their brands are purchased in low quantities so what might be available one day won’t necessarily be available the next day.
  2. They’re a retail brand store, so they are selling other brands’ products. These products are on the higher end and have a higher barrier to entry. 

Due to these distinctions, Canoe Club’s customer lifetime value is higher than average, but finding individuals who meet their criteria doesn’t happen at a mass scale. 

Many people need time to find their Canoe Club fit and often times that won’t be on their first, second, or even third visit to the store. 

Additionally, even if Canoe Club has something a new visitor likes, they might not necessarily have it in their size. Their product lineup is based on buying seasons and quantities are limited per size. 

So instead of paying expensive costs to keep customers in an advertising funnel’s consideration phase, we worked with Canoe Club to develop a lead generation machine that captured leads at a high rate. We originally spotted this opportunity when we noticed the high traffic to email conversion rate

While we drove much of the strategy that laid the foundation for this successful tactic, we couldn’t have done it without the Canoe Club team. They developed a highly addicting, user-friendly quiz that drives prospective customers to sign up with their email. 

Appropriately called the Style Compass Quiz, this interactive quiz uses sophisticated TypeForm logic to assign users one of four style archetypes. 

We fell in love with the Style Compass Quiz the minute we laid eyes on it at Tuff. It’s far from stuffy and spammy, and is so unique that our Growth Marketer, Kristin said:

Slack message about Canoe Club quiz.

And she wasn’t wrong. On Instagram, Facebook, and even Reddit – the quiz has done insanely well at generating leads for Canoe Club. Here are our Campaign Results to date: 

Campaign Results 
Spend $3,191.43
Traffic 8,691
Emails 3,108
Cost Per Email $1.02
Traffic to Email CVR 39%

With this style quiz, we’ve been able to increase Canoe Club’s email list size significantly and provide a way for them to capture people in the awareness and consideration phase at a low cost. 

From here, Canoe Club can do what they do best, which is to provide their subscribers with email marketing updates on their ever-changing lineup of fits and seasonal brand drops.

And we can keep doing what we do best, driving qualified traffic from established and niche ad channels that take action. In this case, the action is subscribing with an email address.

We are currently using Facebook to hone in on luxury audiences that may not convert on the first few website visits, but are great consumers to have in an email marketing flow. 

The other channel we are using is Reddit. Often left out of most Growth Marketing Strategies, Reddit presents a unique opportunity for brands to leverage their extensive collection of niche communities on topics ranging from fashion and style to bitcoin to sports (to name a few). 

Reddit advertising allows you to get in front of these niche communities with an offer. In this case, it’s for our style compass quiz: 

Canoe Clube Reddit Ad

While generating revenue from Redditors isn’t the easiest, we’ve been fairly successful at generating email leads from these communities. 

To conclude, finding a piece of content, quiz, or poll that your potential customers can interact with and leave their contact information is a great way for you to grow your email list, prove your expertise in your industry, and learn about your consumer. 

Finding the right channels and audiences to market this to is the challenge, but when done correctly can diversify your business’s revenue streams and provide an opportunity for you to grow other parts of your business aside from daily revenue. For more eCommerce growth tips, head to our eCommerce Playlist

Typing on slack.

ECommerce Growth Tips From Experts (Tuff Roundup)

If we told you that $1 in every $5 spent in the entire retail industry was spent in online stores, would you believe us? Good news, you don’t have to take our word for it – the U.S. Department of Commerce released figures showing that e-commerce businesses made $245.28 billion in Q4 2020, up 32.1% from the previous year. This was nearly double the growth in 2019 – thanks in part to COVID-19.

It’s not like retail sales struggled in 2020 either. The entire retail industry grew by 9% even in lockdown: which makes the rapid growth of e-commerce sales all that much more impressive. 

What does that mean for Ecommerce business owners? If you’ve got an online store – the competition is growing, and driving traffic is more important now than ever to make sure you’re not falling behind. At Tuff, we’ve worked with over 50+ brands in 4 years to develop and execute eCommerce growth marketing strategies. As such, we’ve learned a thing or two – so we asked the team to share some tips from their experiences. 


 “Buckle up, because the way that performance marketers use and report on Facebook advertising is about to change big time.” 

Since Apple announced iOS 14 and all the privacy updates that come along with it, we’re expecting some major changes to the performance of Facebook ads for e-comm brands, especially when it comes to retargeting and attribution. 

As users begin to opt out of sharing data with apps like Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, and Twitter, the pixels for those channels — the ones that allow us to track and retarget users that visit your site — will be kinda useless on mobile devices. This is going to make our retargeting audiences small, slow to populate, and skew the audience pool towards users on desktop devices.

Having a holistic strategy and diversifying on multiple acquisition channels is going to be more important than ever. How has your ECommerce brand prepared for iOS 14? 


“Your number one focus as an ECommerce Brand should be to generate targeted performance content that search engines will slap on page one.”

Acquisition isn’t solely about paid advertising – ECommerge growth is also influenced by a brand’s organic content marketing strategy. ECommerce content strategies are slightly different than a B2B, or SaaS content strategy, but the principals are mostly the same. Instead of writing white papers, or case studies, ECommerce brands can create product pages, guides, and how-to articles that are stacked with highly optimized content for search engines. 

If you aren’t utilizing performance content to reach potential customers – you’re ignoring a long-term strategy that can reap loads of benefits in the long run. 


“Simply put, product descriptions really do matter.”

Engaging and optimized product copy can enhance the SEO of your ECommerce site, while copied descriptions from manufactures or other websites will make certain that Google’s algorithms keep your pages from ever ranking. 

When you write something you have to consider the SEO value and how Google and other search engines will see it. Additionally, at the end of the day, that 75-100 word product description is what is going to push your customer to convert. This is your chance to differentiate what makes your product better than the other 100 products out there like it – so get to it. 


“When it comes to launching successful Facebook and Instagram ads for ECommerce brands, we take a two-pronged approach with prospecting and retargeting campaigns.” 

Our prospecting campaigns focus on bringing in new customers with interest-based and lookalike audiences. Once we’ve generated enough traffic and/or conversions on the website, we’ll launch a retargeting campaign using Facebook’s conversion tracking pixel to re-target people who have visited or engaged with the ECommerce brand’s website. Retargeting campaigns are crucial for eCommerce brands in order to yield more conversions and sales.

Having a strategy that works users through a funnel helps improve awareness, consideration, and ultimately purchase from customers. Tailoring every campaign we create, testing, and optimizing campaigns to quickly drive ROI is what makes social advertising at Tuff so different. 


“Many brands don’t fully utilize personalization on their websites to its fullest potential. Whether you’re looking to increase average order value by product upsells, or just improve conversion rates – personalization is the hottest trend in ECommerce optimizations right now.”

How many times have you browsed an ecommerce website thinking you were going to buy one thing, and ended up buying another? Seeing content sections such as “Customers Also Viewed”, or “Top Selling Products” utilizes personalization to provide customers the opportunity to make sure they are choosing the best product for their needs. 

Personalization is directly tied to higher average order values, and higher conversion rates. Whether you’re trying to cut down on abandoned carts, increase session time, or just upsell – personalization has a solution for you, so test, test, test!


“For ECommerce brands, Google Shopping is a must. The lower-than-search CPCs coupled with buying intent is a win-win. But, it’s important first to create a well-structured shopping feed and strong negative keyword list to avoid wasted spend and to give your products the best chance at showing in searches for the ideal search terms.” 

Google Shopping is an excellent mid-low funnel placement, that when coupled with Search and Youtube campaign strategy can be highly effective. Because users are reviewing loads of products in their searches, you will have a fair mix of users who click to price-compare, or are doing initial research. Since the CPCs are lower, however, it’s still a very cost-effective platform. 

A major added bonus of Google Shopping is that it occupies valuable real estate in SERPs (search engine result pages). If your product is featured, and you also happen to have a search ad appearing for the same keyword – you’re occupying a lot of space at the top of the page that is very valuable for attracting customers. 

Because Google Shopping utilizes a broad match technique – making sure your product feed is optimized for searches pertinent to your product keywords is essential. Having optimized titles and descriptions is one way to match to better search results and stand out against competitors. Making sure that you’ve also added a negative keyword list can help reduce spend and take full advantage of users browsing Google Shopping ads. 

eCommerce in 2021 and Beyond:

eCommerce is a constantly evolving industry – what is best Ecommerce practices now, may not be effective a year from now. What we can say for certain is this: eCommerce is here to stay, and brands need to pay attention to their eCommerce strategy. It’s an industry that only will get bigger – and with more participants, comes more competition. 

If you’re in need of an eCommerce Growth Expert – look no further than the Tuff team. Download one of our sample growth marketing proposals, and check out how we can take your ECommerce brand to the next level.

Data on eCommerce with YouTube ads.

Effective YouTube Ads For Ecommerce

Data on eCommerce with YouTube ads.

Youtube viewers watch on average 5 billion videos every single day. 

From discovering new music to learning a new skill or brushing up on your trivia knowledge, Youtube has a channel or selection of videos for just about everything. 

With so many topics and consistent, focused views by consumers, Youtube is one of the best platforms for eCommerce marketing experts to put their budget behind to increase revenue and grow. 

While the captive audience you are able to get in front of should be one motivator for investing in an eCommerce Youtube Advertising plan, you should also be happy to know the overall cost-effectiveness compared to other platforms:

  • Average CPV: $0.10 – $0.30, but can be as low as $0.02
  • Average view-rate: 31.9%
  • Average view CTR: 0.514%

For early stage startups and eCommerce brands of all sizes, Youtube is a low cost, low barrier platform to begin advertising your brand, product, or seasonal offer on.
All you need to start making your Youtube Ads Work is a Google Ads Account, strong video creatives, and a testing budget. 

At Tuff, we recommend starting with 5 – 8% of projected revenue for new channel optimization. 

Through strategic testing you can start to explore who your audience is on Youtube, what creative ads resonate best with viewers, and how your brand can grow. 

Youtube eCommerce advertising gives you the ability to scale when you find winning audiences and ads (trust us you’re not going to tap out of available audiences anytime soon).

Building your eCommerce Youtube audience 

The best way we’ve found to profitable audience building for your eCommerce Youtube ads is through leaning on Youtube’s (Google) algorithm to help you through the selection process. 

“One of the really powerful things that I love about Youtube ads is how great the audiences are,” says Jeromy Sonne, Managing Director at Moonshine Marketing. “In-market and custom search intent audiences are incredible because you can target people that are literally searching for your product, but with more visual ads on Youtube.“

One way people tend to think of audiences in YouTube advertising is through the lens of individual channels or specific videos. While this can work in some circumstances, the more efficient approach for eCommerce Youtube audience building is to select specific topics, custom search intent audiences, or in-market audiences that align with your product or brand. 

Youtube audience targeting.

These types of targeting options will show your ads to a much larger set of viewers than individual channel targeting will do. Based on your findings, you can narrow your selection down by channel after you have found a few winning audiences. 

Different types of Youtube Ads for each stage of the funnel

When it comes to developing your eCommerce YouTube Ads Funnel, it’s important to understand how each ad type within Youtube works and where you can find the best results at each stage of the funnel with those ads. 

Top of the funnel

For top of the funnel prospecting, we highly recommend using Trueview Instream and Bumper ads for their cost-effectiveness. However for some brands, Pre-Roll ads might also be a smart choice.

Here’s the difference between the three Youtube ad types:

  1. Trueview Instream: In-stream ads play before or during another video from a YouTube partner. Viewers see five seconds of your video and then have the choice to keep watching or skip it. You pay when a viewer watches for at least 30 seconds or to the end of the video (whichever is shorter) or clicks on a card or other elements of your in-stream creative.
  2. Bumper: These ads are only six seconds each and play before a video.  While they’re not great for telling the full story of your brand, they work great for retargeting to remind people about your product or present them with an offer to entice them to return to their abandoned cart or the product page.
  3. Pre-Roll: Some in-stream ads are non-skippable and can play before or after the main video. These are called Preroll ads, and they can be 15 to 20 seconds in duration.

Example of non-skippable YouTube ad.

For both Trueview Instream and Bumper for effective eCommerce Youtube Advertising, your video creative will need to be methodically designed to showcase and explain your product quickly within the first 5 seconds, then present secondary benefits, social proof, and/or media testimonials for the remainder of the run time. 

Morgan Hennessey, a Search Marketing Manager at Electric Enjin recommends that you, “Keep YouTube ads short, sweet, and engaging… In the first five seconds make sure that at least your brand name and product are showcased.” 

With these Top of the Funnel campaigns, you are not looking for direct clicks to your website (or if you are, change up your strategy). 

Rather you want your creative to leave a great impression on the viewer and drive them to search your eCommerce brand or product later on with quality search terms they can recall. 

Middle Of The Funnel

Within the middle of your eCommerce Youtube Funnel, you’ll want to retarget viewers and website visitors who take specific actions that set them apart from non-qualified leads. 

We recommend testing Trueview Instream and Bumper again in the middle of the funnel as well as another one: Trueview Video Discovery.

  • Trueview Video Discovery: Video discovery ads appear in the right-hand column with other YouTube videos, in YouTube search pages, or on websites on the Google Display Network that match your target audience. You pay when a viewer clicks to watch your video.

The trueview discovery ad type on YouTube.

Video Discovery can really help you to qualify leads as it works more like a display ad and requires the leader to go out of their way to watch it. You will need a catchy or relatable title to make this ad work the best. 

Bottom Of The Funnel

At the bottom of the funnel, we recommend testing the above types of ads. In addition, one type to also try are called Midroll video ads:

  • Midroll video ads: There are also non-skippable ads that appear in the middle of a YouTube video that’s 10 minutes or longer in length.

They can help to pick customers back up who have seemingly fallen out and remind them of your brand. A strong offer creative will be most likely to work in this ad spot. 

If you want more info on YouTube Advertising based on how successful certain campaigns have been for clients, schedule a free growth marketing strategy session with our team today. We’ll analyze your marketing, product, metrics, and business to help you build a video strategy mapped to your goals.


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.