Building an effective eCommerce advertising strategy is no simple task. The issue is that despite the billions of online shoppers, competition is fierce for eCommerce stores.

Where should you start? Social media, Google ads, email? The truth is that eCommerce is pay to play.

If you want to succeed, you need to include paid advertising as a significant part of your eCommerce marketing strategy.

This guide will walk you through the most popular eCommerce advertising platforms and help you determine which strategies will work for you.

The eCommerce world has revolutionized how we shop.

Whether you need groceries, a wedding dress, or a replacement piece for your 20-year-old stove, you can find it online.

In fact, by 2021, nearly 65% of the world will have purchased at least one item online.

If you own an eCommerce site or are considering starting one, this is excellent news! The more people who shop online, the better, right?

So why you came here to learn how to make sales for your eCommerce business?

Two Things To Check Before Starting 

The best ad in the world won’t do you any good if your website is uncrawlable by search engines or customers can’t figure out how to check out.

It is also essential to make sure you’ve got a lock on search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing — marketing strategies that support your advertising efforts.

So, before we dig into how to build a successful eCommerce advertising strategy, there are a few things we need to cover.

#1 – Get to Know Your Target Audience 

Who is your target audience? Not just age and income (though you do need to know that stuff, too), but what matters to them? What motivates them? What problems do they need to solve?

Before you start talking about budgets and ad copy and A/B testing, you need to create a buyer persona.

Doing this will help you create ads that resonate with your audience by speaking directly to their needs, wants, and pain points.

An excellent place to start is your Facebook audience insights or your Google Analytics account audience report.

Facebook provides a ton of demographic information as well as the interests of your audience.

google audience report

Google’s Audience report also gives you information about where your audience comes from, what parts of your site they engage with, and whether they are converting.

eCommerce advertising - screenshot google analytics Audiences report

This report can be filtered in a ton of ways to see, for example, what audiences are bouncing from your website.

#2 Make Sure Your eCommerce Website is Optimized 

Before you start paying to drive traffic to your online store, you need to make sure your website can support the traffic and convert those customers once they land.

Here’s what you need to check before you do any advertising:

  • Check you’re mobile-friendly:

Use Google’s Mobile-friendly testing tool to ensure customers can easily navigate your site on mobile. More than half of all online traffic occurs on mobile devices, so this is critical to eCommerce success.

  • Offer multiple payment options:

More than half of buyers will abandon a purchase if their preferred payment option is not available.

  • KISS (Keep It Super Simple):

Cart abandonment can cost you thousands of dollars in lost sales. Keep the sales process super simple and make it easy for customers to give you money!

Once you’ve got these things covered, you are ready to start building a strong eCommerce marketing and advertising strategy.

eCommerce Advertising With Facebook Ads

As of April 2019, Facebook had more than 2 billion monthly active users. In addition to a broad user base, the average conversion rate for Facebook ads is 9.21%, which is much higher than most Google ads.

If you want to reach the broadest possible audience and get the most band for your advertising buck, Facebook is an obvious choice.

As you can see from the chart below, Facebook reaches folks all over the world, including the US, Canada, Europe, and the rest of the world.

There are two things you need to know before creating a Facebook ad: your objective and the type of ad you want to create. The objective is the goal of your ad includes awareness, consideration, and conversions.

The different Facebook ad types include:

  • Videos
  • Photos
  • Slideshow
  • Carousel (multiple images that rotate)
  • Dynamic Product ads
  • Lead forms

And last but not least, there is Facebook retargeting, which allows you to retarget people who have viewed your website, liked a post, or taken another action with dynamic ads.

Sounds complicated, I know.

Here’s how to get started:

  • Install Facebook Pixel on your website: This helps track conversions from Facebook.
  • Decide what your objective is: Do you want sales now, or do you want to build brand awareness? If you are just getting started and have a bit of an ad budget, focus on awareness first. Otherwise, run a campaign for each objective.
  • Select an ad type: Photos are easy, but videos tend to convert well. Carousel ads hit in the middle with higher conversion rates and require less time investment than a video.
  • Go to Facebook ads manager: Click on the hamburger menu (three lines) in the upper left corner.
  • Under “Create and Manage,” select “Ads Manager.” 
  • Click “Create”: If you want a bit more help, select “Switch to Guided Creation,” which will walk you through everything.

Otherwise, give your campaign a name and an objective.

facebook campaign

  • Select your target audience: You can choose by location, demographics, age, gender, and tons of other features. If you want to retarget users, select “Use info from your pixel or app to create a retargeting audience,” then follow the prompts to select which audience you want to retarget.
  • Set your ad spend: The minimum ad spend is $1 a day, but you may want to start a bit higher. If you have a limited budget, aim for $10 to $20 a day for the first few days.
  • Track and reevaluate: Reevaluate your ad after a week and raise the budget if it is performing well. If not, use Facebook’s A/B testing to find out what your audience will respond to.

I highly recommend using AdEspresso’s advanced split test functionality so you can see what type of ads are effective.

Facebook Ad Best Practices for eCommerce Businesses 

  • Use high-quality photos so people can see what they are purchasing
  • Ads for a specific product should go to a landing page — never a standard shopping page
  • Stay on top of comments in boosted posts so you can respond or remove what “needs to go.”
  • Use the Facebook Pixel and leverage retargeted ads to increase conversions

Anyone running Facebook Ads should absolutely, without a doubt, have the pixel installed.

If you don’t, do yourself a favor, click on the image below and add this incredible resource to your bookmark list. Now!

eCommerce advertising strategy - guide to the Facebook Pixel

Click here, or on the image above, to learn How to Master the Facebook Pixel Like a Pro (in 2020 and beyond).

And if you really want to skyrocket your business results (and your personal Success as top digital marketers), you can’t miss this exclusive FREE Masterclass with AdEspresso Head of Education Paul Fairbrother (AKA The Prince of Facebook Ads).

You know what to do, right? ↪️CLICK HERE ↩️

eCommerce Advertising with Instagram Ads

Instagram is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms right now — and 72% of Instagram users say they have purchased through the social platform.

With more than 1 billion monthly users, a wide range of niche communities, and high engagement, Instagram should definitely be part of your eCommerce marketing strategy.

But there is one major issue with Instagram — you can’t share links wherever you want like you can on Facebook.

Luckily, Instagram Ads do let users share links — and even check out right in the platform.

Pro Tip: Use Instagram Shopping 

Consider using Instagram shopping, which allows you to tag products in photos so folks can tap to buy right in their Instagram feed. There is a small processing fee.

Here’s an example of an Instagram shopping post from Williams Sonoma.

Note that the tags don’t show up until users tap the photo.

There are two ways to create Instagram ads: Using Facebook ads manager or directly on Instagram. Either way, you will need to make sure you have an Instagram business profile.

When it comes to paid ads, you have a few options on Instagram:

  • Photo ads:

Similar to a boosted post on Facebook, these ads are photos that show up in users’ feeds.

  • Sponsored Ads:

These show up directly in users’ feeds and can include links to your store. Here is an example from Pipefy, a project management tool:

instagram ad

  • Instagram story ads:

Ads that appear in the Story feature, located at the top of users’ feed.

Here’s what they look like:

instagram ad

  • Video ads:

Similar to photo ads, but video.

Instagram’s answer to YouTube that allows much longer videos (up to 60 minutes).

  • Carousel ads:

These multiple photo ads can show off multiple colors and styles of similar products or be used to highlight your best selling products.

Instagram Ad Best Practices for eCommerce Businesses

  • Instagram is primarily a photo-sharing app, so make sure you use Instagram-worthy images that are high-quality and well laid out.
  • Use lookalike audiences to create customized audiences with interests similar to your current audience.
  • Use hashtags to improve engagement.
  • Don’t overuse hashtags – stick to four or fewer and avoid banned hashtags.

You can use a hashtag tool or see what tags your competitors are using.

Need a bit more help with your Instagram eCommerce strategy?

Check out the guide above for a more detailed dive into Instagram marketing for eCommerce.

eCommerce Advertising with Google Ads

When it comes to online advertising, Google is one of the most popular platforms out there. But is it the right for your eCommerce business?

Like any other advertising strategy, Google Ads comes with some pros and cons.  Here are a few things to consider:

Pros of Google Ads for Ecommerce:

  • Massive reach — you can advertise in search, display, Google shopping ads, and even Gmail inboxes.
  • Extremely detailed targeting
  • An average conversion rate of 4.4% for search and .57% for display

Cons of Google Ads for Ecommerce:

  • Can feel overwhelming to get started
  • Easy to waste money if you aren’t careful
  • Takes some trial and error

If you are in eCommerce, there’s a darn good chance that Google ads are a highly effective way for you to advertise and sell your eCommerce products.

Before you dive in, make sure you understand the different types of Google ads.

Google Search Ads 

These are ads that show up at the top of the search results when Google users type in a specific phrase, for example, “women’s bathing suits.”

google search

These spots are competitive, but also very effective because your ad shows up above organic search results.

The average conversion rate for these types of ads is around 4%, but that can vary significantly based on what terms you are targeting.

Aim to show up for terms with a high buyer intent — such as “buy women’s bathing suit” versus “bathing suit styles.”

Google Display Ads 

Display ads show up on websites in Google’s Display network. These are banner ads or ads in the sidebar of your favorite websites.

For example, this Instapage ad on

Display ads tend to have a much lower conversion rate, but they are also cheaper.

Use these ads (along with retargeting) to raise brand awareness.

Google Shopping Ads

Google Shopping ads focus on increasing actual purchases, not just traffic or brand awareness.

These ads show up in Google’s shopping tab, Google images, next to search results, and on partner sites, if you enable that feature.

Shopping ads include an image, pricing, and other information:

Google shopping ads can be highly effective at driving sales, especially if your item is lower-priced, higher ratings, or includes add ons like free shipping.

Google Ads Best Practices for eCommerce Businesses

Here’s the thing — 98% of the folks who visit your website will never come back — unless you can draw them back in.

  • Use Retargeting in Google Ads for the Best Results

Retargeting allows you to recapture that traffic by sending them highly targeted ads on a variety of websites across the web. This Google ads retargeting guide will walk you through how to recapture and convert lost traffic.

  • Leverage marketing automation:

Google offers automated bidding features that let you set specific parameters and then take over the heavy lifting of changing bids. It is incredibly effective for both new and experienced eCommerce store owners.

  • Learn how to get started with Google Ads

Start by creating a Google account, adding analytics to your website, then activate your Google Ads account. Then, watch this video and discover how using AdEspresso makes everything easier.

Liked the video?

Now check this Google Ads guide that will walk through how to create an ad, target specific audiences, and set your budget easy as a cake with AdEspresso.

Facebook or Google Ads: Which Is Best for eCommerce Advertising?

It depends on your goals.

The main difference between these two advertising platforms is that Google Ads are generally displayed based on search terms. In contrast, Facebook ads are displayed based on user behavior and demographic information.

Facebook tends to have a lower learning curve, while Google ads tend to have a higher click-through rate.

In general, eCommerce companies looking to drive brand awareness should use Facebook ads, while brands looking to drive sales should use Google Ads.

Moreover, do not forget that Display ads from Google can also help with branding.

Final Thoughts 

Building an effective eCommerce advertising strategy is no simple task.

Driving sales means paying attention to where your audience spends their time, maximizing click-through rates, and leveraging newer strategies like marketing automation and retargeting.

Don’t get overwhelmed by all the options — select one or two of the above platforms, build a campaign, and then start testing.

The ads and platforms that resonate with your audience might surprise you.