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Meta Ads for eCommerce: Tactics to increase sales

Author Akvile Defazio, accompanied by various marketing-related iconography

 

For eCommerce brands, the quest to attract customers and drive sales is an enduring pursuit. In this competitive environment, the ability to reach out to vast audiences, introduce them to your brand, and drive sales can make or break your online store. If those are the goals you want to achieve, then do not overlook Meta’s ecosystem (most notably on Facebook and Instagram).

 

Let’s dive into the various options that Meta Ads offers for eCommerce brands looking to increase sales as well as the tactics you’ll need to increase your bottom line.


Table of contents:



Why Meta Ads is a mainstay for eCommerce brands


A screenshot of a sponsored Instagram post by Wrensilva. The image shows a turntable and there is a “Shop now” call to action at the bottom of the image.
An example of an ad on Instagram. Source: Wrensilva.

Meta Ads is an advertising platform that serves ads across several platforms under the Meta umbrella, including Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and other partner sites and apps in the Meta Audience Network.


A bar graph showing the most popular social networks worldwide as of January 2024, ranked by monthly active users. Facebook is first, followed by YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram, TikTok, WeChat, and Facebook Messenger.
Source: Statista.

As one of the oldest social media advertising platforms, Meta has significant global usage that benefits brands looking to drive sales and scale their digital marketing. 


It is comparatively more efficient (read: cheaper) than other advertising platforms, leverages advanced targeting capabilities powered by AI, and excels in accomplishing various business goals (i.e., driving website traffic, increasing brand awareness, acquiring leads for your newsletter, and bringing in sales).


Getting started: The Meta Ads Pixel & Conversion API


To use Meta Ads’ full capabilities for your eCommerce brand, it’s vital to implement the Meta Ads Pixel on your website and the Conversions API (CAPI) on your server. While you can run campaigns without it, doing so helps you track and understand which campaign, ad set, and ads your sales are coming from and will allow you to optimize for sales. Without at least one of these, your campaigns will struggle to optimize for sales.


The Meta Ads Pixel and CAPI also aid Meta in more effectively optimizing towards your sales-driven goals and can help create custom audiences for you to target, including retargeting people that visited your website or abandoned shopping carts.

How to set up Meta Ads tracking

If you're a Wix website owner, the process is straightforward—you can read more about it in the section below. If your online store is on a different CMS, refer to Meta's instructions on integrating its Pixel and CAPI.



How to set up Meta Ads tracking on Wix

With Wix, you can seamlessly accomplish both of these tracking set up tasks via the Marketing Integrations section of the Wix dashboard (shown below, accessible by navigating to your dashboard Settings > Marketing Integrations).


The marketing integrations section of the Wix dashboard settings, showing connections for Google Analytics, Meta Pixel & CAPI, and Google Tag Manager.

After you connect the Meta Pixel and CAPI to your Wix website, you’ll be able to track events like product views, add to carts, newsletter signups, and purchases. Next, you can optimize for those events, which tells Meta what goal is most important for you in a given campaign (e.g., purchases).


Create and connect your product catalog


Now that you’ve got your Meta Ads Pixel and CAPI configured for your eCommerce store, you can upload your product catalog for the platform to show your products to users. 


There are several options you can use to upload your products: 


  • Data feed (i.e., a spreadsheet or XML file)

  • A partner platform

  • The Meta Pixel 

  • Meta’s catalog batch API (better for stores with hundreds of thousands of products), 

  • Manually


Again, Wix site owners can use the built-in integration to keep their Facebook Catalog in sync with their website inventory (or you can create your catalog in Meta’s Commerce Manager).


Your product catalog should include all the essential details of the products you sell, such as the product description, materials, dimensions, pricing, etc. 


Establish baseline performance with dynamic product ads

You can then promote your products using highly effective dynamic product ads (DPAs). Meta can serve DPAs showcasing products from your store that it “thinks” have the highest likelihood of purchase from the audience(s) you are targeting. 


When deciding which products to promote in your DPAs, consider setting up these product sets first to determine benchmarks:


  • Bestsellers

  • New arrivals

  • On sale

  • All products


A screenshot of a sponsored Instagram post by Mother Denim. The image shows two images in a carousel ad format of clothing and a shopping bag. There is a “Shop now” call to action at the bottom of each image.
An example of an ad on Instagram. Source: Mother Denim.

If you have seasonal product sets or product themes (e.g. sneakers, boots, sandals), create those product sets and test those out as well. I often see that bestsellers work very well to increase sales volume as new customers are often drawn to popular items. Your best-selling products could be a great entry point to the brand, enticing people to shop. New arrivals also tend to perform well as many consumers want to be one of the first to own something new.


If you have ten or fewer products, running DPAs in a catalog campaign may not yield sales at desirable costs, as there is not enough variety for Meta’s systems to rotate through and optimize for. For eCommerce brands with limited product offerings, consider launching other ad types that don’t require a catalog until you have more products. 


Sales-driven campaign types

A screenshot of a Meta’s campaign objective options focusing on the Sales campaign objective.

There are currently six campaign objectives to select from: 


  • Awareness

  • Traffic

  • Engagement

  • Leads

  • App promotion

  • Sales


Since we’re discussing Meta Ads to increase sales, you’ll use the Sales campaign objective for Conversions or Catalog Sales, then optimize for purchases at the ad set level. Optimizations selected in the ad set level can also be set for other events, such as “add to cart” (but since the primary goal here is to acquire more sales, you’ll optimize for purchases). 


Next, let’s discuss Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns and whether a more automated approach is right for you.

 

Advantage+ shopping campaigns

Advantage+ shopping campaigns (ASC) are a sales-driven campaign type designed for eCommerce brands. They leverage Meta’s AI technology to dynamically deliver ads to people that are most likely to make a purchase. 


Advantage+ shopping campaigns vs. Manual campaigns

While you are still able to set up campaigns via a more manual process, Meta is making a big push to use ASC so it’s possible that manual sales campaigns may disappear in the future (as they may on other platforms, like Google). 


A screenshot of Meta’s ASC and manual campaign options. The image shows the two selections along with written details of each.

ASC uses a more streamlined approach compared to manually configured campaigns and their respective ad sets (where you specify budget, placements, optimizations, and other targeting criteria). This campaign type uses Meta’s technology to more effectively display your ads to the people that are most likely to make purchases (compared to a more human-selected targeting strategy). 


Manual campaigns have historically worked better as advertisers tested their own selection of audiences based on interests, behaviors, and other detailed targeting combinations—until recently. While some of these detailed targeting options remain, Meta has removed many of them over the years due to changes in privacy legislation and technology. 


Manual targeting can still work well, but is decreasingly less effective than it once was—on the other hand, AI-powered targeting continues to prove its potency as it learns and evolves. 

I still recommend that digital marketers invest some time to get familiar with manual targeting, as this can help you better understand how automated targeting systems work and is valuable for determining what combination of automation and manual controls are best for your online store. 


Maximizing sales volume and sales value

“ASC achieves an average of 17% improvement in cost per acquisition,” according to Meta. That’s a pretty flashy statistic, and I, too, have seen positive results since the launch of ASC. But in addition to that, I’ve seen more sales at a lower cost, but also at a higher return on ad spend (ROAS), increasing profitability. Let’s learn about how you can reach that level of campaign performance.


A text infographic that says “Designate your Advantage+ shopping campaigns to maximize for: “Number of purchases, value of purchases, value of purchases (with optional ROAS goal)"

With Advantage+ shopping campaigns, you can tell Meta to optimize ads for the maximum number of conversions or sales, and (as of the end of 2023) there is a new option to optimize for the maximum value of conversions, enabling you to provide an optional ROAS goal. You can find more details about this setting and how to use it at the end of this article.


(Note: The ROAS option is only available when selecting your website as the conversion location. If you choose to maximize the number of conversions, you can alternatively choose for people to make purchases via your website and shop [via Facebook or Instagram], just your website, or website and app.)


A screenshot of Meta Ads conversion location highlighting the website option.

When setting up your first ASC, you can certainly test either optimizing for maximum conversions or sales, but you may be more successful maximizing for the number of conversions so that you can establish a baseline of data. 


Once you begin to drive more sales, see what is performing well (and what is not), and what kind of ROAS you can achieve, test out the other option to optimize for the maximum value of conversions with a ROAS goal. This goal should be slightly higher than what you saw in your initial campaign, so then the system can work towards the improved (yet likely attainable) new goal. In this secondary test, use your top-performing ads in the campaign.

 

If you have already run ads before, add your existing top-performing ads into your ASC as they will likely give you a better chance for success right out of the gate (as opposed to launching ads that have not yet been tested).


Utilizing AI for targeting with Advantage+ audiences


There are a multitude of ways to reach your customers, including targeting by age, location, gender, interest, behaviors, and other demographics, as well as custom audiences that you can set up. 


More recently, though, Meta introduced Advantage+ audiences, a newer option that utilizes artificial intelligence to find your campaign audience. I’ve been using Advantage+ audiences and have also begun seeing more success than with some of the other aforementioned targeting options.


A screenshot of Meta’s Advantage+ audience targeting option. The image depicts two suggested custom audiences to test with Advantage+ audiences.

With Advantage+ Audiences, you can add an audience suggestion to give the system some guidance as to who you want to target before it expands to find more people that are likely to accomplish your campaign goal (e.g., maximizing for sales). 


Meta works best when it has data to work with. You feed it data and, in turn, it brings you more results. After testing a variety of suggested audiences, you may want to begin with these two suggested in-platform custom audiences, as they have been effective for many eCommerce accounts and may be a great starting point for yours as well:

 

  • Facebook – post/ad engagers – over the last 90 (or up to last 365 days)

  • Instagram – post/ad engagers – over the last 90 (or up to last 365 days)

 

The longer lookback window may give Meta more data to better optimize, especially if you are newer to advertising on Meta or have a lower budget. 


To create these audiences for use in your campaigns, go to Meta’s Audience area to create a new audience. Under “Meta Sources,” select “Instagram account” first and then come back to create the second one under “Facebook page” to cover both platforms. 


A screenshot of Meta Ads custom audiences. The image shows the various custom audience sources available from your sources and Meta’s sources.

On the next screen, ensure your account or page is correct under “Source,” then click the drop-down menu to select the “Event” you want, such as “Accounts Center accounts who engaged with any post or ad.” Then, select your lookback time under “Retention.”


A screenshot of an Instagram custom audience set up. The image shows the various fields available for the set up of this custom audience.

Name your audience and add a description so that other people working in your account (i.e., staff or other vendors like contractors and agencies) have some context about your custom audiences. Hit “Create audience” and you can now go apply your Advantage+ audience to your ad sets.


Meta Ads best practices


Next, I’ll help you increase your campaign efficiency with some ad creative best practices, as well as a few tactics to test that can also help you increase your profitability (not just sales volume).


Ad copy

You have several places to compose complementary ad copy: 


  • Headline

  • In the main text

  • Description line


A screenshot of Meta’s ad level text fields. The image shows the primary text, headline, and description fields available for input.

Be concise with your ad copy. Speak to the value of the product, unique benefits, the solution they offer to a particular problem, and add a call to action (CTA), such as “Shop Now” (in addition to selecting the same “Shop Now” CTA button that Meta appends to your ad). 


If you offer free shipping, discounts, or promotions, mention that as well. Craft compelling copy for the text and headline, though you may want to forego description text as it doesn’t display on most ad placements. Many brands add “Free Shipping” copy there but instead, consider adding it to the headline as it’s bold and can be seen across more placements.


Images

When it comes to images, you want to shine a spotlight on your product and eliminate any potential distractions for the audience. 


Aim for bright, bold colors so they stand out on the black or white platform backgrounds. Showcase your product so consumers aren’t wondering what you are advertising: If you’re selling shoes, make sure your models or the creators you are working with don't have distracting backgrounds or other apparel to detract from your product and reduce the chances of a purchase.


A screenshot of a Facebook ad by Alice + Ames The image shows three girls wearing dresses, including a centered bright yellow one. There is a “Shop now” call to action at the bottom of the image.
An example of an ad on Facebook. Source: Alice + Ames.

Video

With video creatives, put your best foot forward in the first three seconds of your video: 


  • Showcase your product.

  • Add overlay text.

  • Include an enticing hook (e.g., by asking a question or sharing something unique about your product, as that will keep people interested and watching more of your video).

  • Add captions so everyone watching can understand what is being said (many people keep their devices on mute and you don’t want to alienate anyone who is hard of hearing). 


If you don’t have video content, there are many free and paid tools that can take your images and turn them into videos by adding some subtle motion, overlay text, transitions, and effects. It’s worth trying out Meta’s free tool (in Ads Manager) that can turn your static images into videos via free templates and effects—this is an excellent way to repurpose existing content and take advantage of automation to create fresh creative on a budget.


Whether it’s video or images, it’s best practice to create two variations so that your ads will show optimally across most of the ad placements. Create a 1:1 (or 4:5) aspect ratio image/video as well as 9:16 version as well to fit in Stories and Reels placements. Refer to Meta Ads’ specs for Facebook and Instagram images and videos. 


Ways to increase profitability for your Meta Ads eCommerce campaigns


As you begin to run Meta Ads and understand what is working, this would be a good time to test out some other tactics to increase profitability (in addition to increasing sales volume). Here are a few tactics to experiment with:


  • Promote higher-margin products in ads by either manually configuring ads or by setting up dedicated catalog product sets for more profitable items in dynamic product ads.


  • Test Advantage+ catalog ads in an ASC to give Meta more control over which products to serve in your dynamic product ads, so you can drive more sales and allow Meta to better optimize and potentially lift your ROAS.


A pop-up in Meta Ads that says “eCommerce businesses saw, on average, 27% higher return on ad spend when adding an Advantage+ catalog ad to an Advantage+ shopping campaign.

  • Try the ad set-level ROAS goal setting, where you can gradually increase your ROAS goal and maximize the value of conversions. Set this up in the ad set with the following selections:


A screenshot of Meta Ads conversion location and performance goal options. The website only option is highlighted to showcase the two performance goal options for maximizing the number or value of conversions, as well as an optional ROAS goal setting.

Leave no eCommerce campaign unoptimized


By using the above strategies (such as setting up a detailed product catalog and deploying dynamic product ads to testing Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns and utilizing a more automated, data-driven approach), experimenting with various optimization settings, and serving ads to Advantage+ audiences, you can fine-tune your advertising efforts to focus on what truly resonates with (and converts) your audience.


As Meta continues to evolve and present new features, embrace testing and crafting compelling ads, as that will solidify the foundation for long-term success in driving eCommerce sales and increasing your profits.


 

Akvile DeFazio

Akvile DeFazio is the president of AKvertise, an award winning social media advertising agency. With 16 years of experience, she works with eCommerce, lead gen, event, and entertainment clients to reach their goals through future-forward strategies. Twitter | Linkedin



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