How to make a good Facebook ad for ecommerce

When you’re selling physical goods in an ecomm store, and you want to promote products on Facebook in order to generate sales, there are several important points to pay attention to:

1. Start with the whole – GCT (Goals, Content, Targeting)

Facebook maven Dennis Yu keeps harping on GCT for a very good reason.

The thing when you’re planning a Facebook ad is that the GCT need to hang together, or you will not get sales. Here are the components:


The goal is the first thing you select when you make an ad in Facebook Ads Manager. Facebook will use your chosen goal to optimize your ad towards the people most likely to fulfill that goal. The most commonly used goals are engagement, traffic and conversions.

You can choose engagement as a goal, if you want fairly cheap reach aimed at seeing whether the product is at all viable. This also gives you social proof on the post (likes and comments) that will give you traction further on, but only if you make a post on your Facebook page first and then use this as the ad copy.

Alternatively you can choose traffic as a target, and Facebook will show your ad to the people most likely to click. This is better for generating traffic, but will not necessarily give you much in the way of likes and comments on the ad. This may or may not matter. Traffic targeted reach is usually more expensive than engagement targeted reach.

The best optimization/goal is conversions. However, unless you have more than 100-150 conversion (sales) on your ecommerce store every day, Facebook will not be able to build a good enough profile on the people most likely to buy from you. This process is what is known as “training your pixel”; making sure Facebook understands your buyer profiles.

If you do not have more than 100 sales per day, you are usually better off going with traffic targeting to drive sales.


Now the content of your ad is of course of vital importance. As a rule, videos work best, but there are a number of exceptions to this rule. If you want to show off several products, a carousel post can also work well. Even a simple link post or image post can work in some cases.

You can check out all the ad formats with examples in Facebook’s Ads Guide:

The most important thing is that your ad has a clear value proposition. That means that the customer must be able to understand, immediately, why having this product would add value to his or her life.

This often inovolves showing the product in action, rather than just showing the product on a white background, which is why video ads tend to work well.


The third element is targeting. Now, remember, target that ad towards the customer who is potentially most likely to but it. Selling dog food? – Target dog lovers. Selling babywear? – Target baby parents. Selling golf clubs? – Target golfers. It’s all there in the Facebook targeting options. And remember my cardinal rule for Facebook targeting: always use at least three layers of fargeting.

Once you have your GCT in order, there are also a few other things to consider:

2. Will you do a one product ad or a category ad?

Both can work, and it all relates back to your GCT. Just remember to match your ad to your landing page.

The one-product ad

If you do a 1 product page, use the individual product page as the landing page. This tends to work best with one-off products, like a pair of super-stretchy tights or a special pots-and-pans scrubber. The ad will be all about that one, special product, showing off all the ways this product is beneficial to the target user.

Here’s one example:

This video shows off how that very special concealer will cover up tattoos, blemishes, birth marks and more. The fact that it’s a video, means that I can actually see how well it works. I call this the “amazing-wonder-product” formula.

The category ad

If you want to sell the user on a whole category of products, your should use the category page (or “collection” as Shopify calls it) as the landing page.

This ad works really well if you’re selling me on an idea, like tech gadgets, ornamental cushions or horse themed jewellery. The point is that I’ll want to see a selection of items, because which actual product I’ll want to buy will depend on my individual taste.

Here’s one example:

This ad shows a selection of items in the same genre, and the content of the ad is suggesting the user check out the category as a whole.

3. Timing

The final question to answer is when, for how long, and how frequently the ad will run.


Offering the right product at the right time is sometimes the key to success. Seasonal products like Halloween items, christmas decorations, mother’s day presents etc must of course be offered at the right time.

If you are doing drop shipping, remember shipping times can be longer than usual. At the same time you do not want to offer the product too soon, in case the customer hasn’t really started thinking about the occasion yet. That said, there’s an advantage to be had in being the first to offer the relevant product. If the customer has already bought his Halloween costume from you, he will not buy from the competitor who suggests so at a later date.

All in all, my rule of thumb is to give it 1 month lead time. That means promoting Halloween items from the last day of september and promoting mother’s day, fathers’s day, graduation gifts and so on from about 4 weeks before the date in question. The exeption to this rule is Christmas, when you can start promoting from about the 10th of November.

For how long?

You should never let an ad run too long with the same targeting, simply because people tend to get bored with it. Personally, I would hesitate to run an ad for longer than 1 week. Mostly I keep to less than that, often just 2-3 days.

The 1 week max rule is also borne out by this test by Agora Pulse.

The short time strategy allows you to use a high daily budget, which could let you saturate the target audience for the few days the ad is running.

An exception to this rule, is retargeting. When you’re using retargeting ads, you coulf keep reminding the customet about you for a longer period og time. This is especially useful for high-price-point-long-decision-process items like cars or holidays.

At which frequency?

Facebook lets you choose between showing the ad to the maximum number of individual people (low frequency), or alternatively the maximum number of times to the same people (high frequency).

There are no absolute rules for what to choose here, but generally the same factors that indicate high running times (like high-price-point-long-decision-process items) also indicate high frequency. Basically, you keep nagging the same people again and again.

Conversely you can choose to only show the ad once a day to each person. This makes for great reach, as lots of different people will see the ad, but if somebody wants to come back late to check out the ad further, it may no longer be available to them.

You could also just not choose between these two. In that case, Facebook will optimize your frequency according to the goal you set for the ad.

Good luck with your Facebook ads, and do feel free to share your own experiences in the comments.

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