How to Use Facebook to Grow an E-Commerce Store
Facebook has a staggering 2.38 billion monthly users, which makes it an amazing platform to promote a business. Leveraging the power of this worldwide social network for growing your e-commerce store offers a goldmine of opportunities. It can be a powerful tool that plays a major part in your integrated digital marketing strategy. With a strategic approach, you can use Facebook to:
- Help your SEO efforts by building links to achieve higher rankings.
- Sell products to consumers who might otherwise never discover you.
- Improve your brand recognition and drive qualified leads to your website.
- Build a massive list of engaged email subscribers.
Let’s break these down one-by-one.
Use Facebook for SEO Purposes
Link building is one of the core SEO activities. Most experts and studies show that inbound links are still the most important ranking factor for websites. You can use Facebook to generate high-value links to your site.
Build a Targeted Following
The first step is to build a following of people who are likely to engage with the content you post. Relevant followers are your best organic link opportunities. To get started, you can run a Facebook ad intended to generate relevant followers.
Just visit the Facebook Ads Manager, click “Create Ad,” and follow the prompts to customize your ad. When asked to customize your target audience, be as specific as possible. Who is your core demographic? What is their age group? What are their interests and behaviors?
Tip: Use Facebook’s “Custom Audiences” feature to retarget your Facebook page to people who recently visited your site. You just have to place a small snippet of code on your site, configure your Custom Audiences settings, and Facebook takes care of the rest.
In addition to using ads, there are organic ways to build your audience. For example, make sure to include prominent social media links and social share buttons on every page of your website. If you use a shopping cart platform like Magento, Shopify or BigCommerce, this feature should be built in to the system.
If you don’t see a way to easily add the social buttons and links, visit the app or extension marketplace provided by your platform. There are many third-party plug-ins that can get you set up. Just search “social media” or “social share.”
Facebook contests and giveaways can also help you to generate links. However, make sure to offer something that will be of particular interest to your target audience. Otherwise, you may not attract the most qualified followers. Also, make sure to follow the rules for contests and giveaways. For example:
- “Like and share” contests are not permitted; you cannot require participants to take any specific actions on Facebook; you can, however, lead them to a landing page on your website and have them submit their contest entry outside of Facebook. Rather than forcing people to like or share, make your giveaway enticing enough that people will want to share it on their own Facebook page.
- Always include a disclaimer indicating that your giveaway is not sponsored or endorsed by Facebook.
- You must host the giveaway on your business page; contests are not permitted on personal pages.
- Provide detailed and explicit rules and terms for the giveaway, and use random-winner software to ensure that the outcome is random.
Create Great Blog Content
While this is done outside of Facebook, it helps to ensure that Facebook visitors have something engaging to connect with–-and that leads to organic links.
Getting people to link to your homepage or product pages can be a challenge. However, if you have a blog with high-quality content, you have endless opportunities to promote articles that people will want to link to. More topics result in more link opportunities.
The key is to create content that’s worth sharing. You need to answer important questions or solve a major problem. When brainstorming content ideas, ask yourself the following questions:
- What is your audience passionate about?
- What important, relevant topics haven’t already been covered extensively?
- Where might your expertise be of value?
Tools like Ahrefs and the Google Ads Keyword Planner can help you come up with potentially valuable ideas. Another great tool is Answer the Public, which generates lists of questions based on broad topic suggestions.
If you want to create content that’s amazing, look at what your competitors have already done. Google the topic, look at the top-ranked search results, and try to determine why those pages are considered the best in the eyes of Google. Then take that knowledge and create something even better. When you share the finished product on your Facebook page, your followers will want to link to it.
Make Your Blog Facebook-Friendly
Creating great blog content is only one piece of the puzzle. If you want to get the most value from those carefully crafted articles, you also need to ensure that your posts are Facebook-friendly. If they don’t display correctly, and if they’re not easy to share, they’re going to have less exposure and make less of an impression.
- Make sure that the first or featured image of every post is optimized for Facebook. The dimensions should be 484x252 for optimal formatting and visibility.
- Include a title tag and meta description with each blog post. If someone shares your link, Facebook will populate the layout with relevant information, which often includes the title tag and/or meta description.
- As previously noted, use social share buttons to make it as easy as possible for readers to share your post on Facebook. For best results, include share buttons both above and beneath each post.
Engage With Bloggers on Facebook
By connecting with bloggers on Facebook, you can build relationships that lead to valuable guest blogging opportunities. Guest blogging works like this:
- You write a high-quality article for someone else’s blog
- You include a link to your website in the article
- The blogger posts the article on their website
- They get great content; you get an inbound link
To find these bloggers, you can use a social media monitoring platform like Brand24 or Awario. Just enter your industry and search for authors who have posted content with keywords related to your industry or product. When you find bloggers in your niche, you can engage with them over your shared interests.
Important: If you approach bloggers using your business page, you will usually be dismissed out of hand. For this type of marketing, you want to use your personal account and connect with each blogger as a human being. Once you’ve forged a genuine relationship and provided sincere feedback on their content, then you can discuss guest blogging opportunities.
Aside from using apps, you can find guest blog opportunities by joining Facebook groups. Many Facebook groups focus specifically on guest blog networking, so do a quick search and become active in those communities. Make sure to be an active contributing member, and don’t solicit your content right out of the gate. Finally, make sure you have excellent content to pitch. Don’t assume that your charming personality will be enough, especially if your content is average or subpar.
How to Use Facebook's Marketplace Feature to List Products
If you’re only selling products on your website, you’re selling yourself short. Facebook’s Marketplace now makes it easy to sell right from the social media platform. By listing on Facebook, you raise your brand awareness and gain access to a brand-new audience.
How to Sell on Marketplace
Selling on Marketplace is easy. Just open Facebook.com, click “Marketplace” in the left sidebar, and click the blue “Sell Something” button. Enter the product name, price, location, and category. Then add a detailed description and some high-quality images.
The listing part is easy, but admittedly there’s more to it than just filling in a few fields. If you actually want to land the sale, you’ll need to give people a reason to buy.
Include as Many Details as Possible
The “Description” field is very important; this is where you distinguish your legitimate business from the garage-sale crowd and gain a competitive edge. The narrative should be detailed, polished, and well-composed. If applicable, describe everything from the size to the color to the features. Use headings and bullet points. Triple-check your spelling and grammar.
Your narrative will reflect upon your business and have a major impact on consumer confidence. In addition, the better you describe the product, the more excited people will be to buy. And if customers are really impressed, they may just click on your brand page and see what else you have available.
Optimize Your Images
Much like the description, your images will make or break that all-important first impression. Bear in mind that it’s not enough to simply have high-resolution images. Most Facebook shoppers will be using a mobile phone to browse the Marketplace listings, so images need to be optimized for mobile. Facebook recommends using .jpg or .png images with an image ratio of 9:16 or 16:9. Images should never contain more than 20% text.
Choose the Right Category
Be careful when choosing a category for your Marketplace product. Choosing the wrong category will not only hurt your sales due to lack of relevance but may also get your account flagged for removal.
Much like eBay, Facebook uses a seller rating system to establish credibility within the community and increase buyer confidence. To ensure a stellar rating, always respond promptly and professionally to buyer questions, provide accurate product information, and strive for prompt shipping or delivery. In other words, treat your Facebook listings exactly as you would treat any other business transactions. You can check your seller rating at any time by clicking on your Facebook Marketplace profile.
How to Use Facebook's PPC Platform to Promote Your Brand
We’ve touched upon the value of Facebook advertising for building followers, but the platform offers so much more than just generating likes. You just have to know how to use the service to its full potential.
Don’t Rely on a Single Strategy
Many people give up on paid advertising after a short time because they don’t get the results they want and can’t figure out why. The fact is, there’s no secret formula. Success with Facebook advertising requires constant AB testing -- or, in some cases, ABCDE testing.
Always use multiple strategies. Test ads with different demographics, different headlines, different descriptions, and different geo-targets. You’ll be surprised to learn what actually yields results. The more you learn from these tests, the more you can fine-tune your campaigns for consistent results.
Target Your Competitors’ Followers
While you can’t snipe lists of your competitors’ followers as part of an ad campaign, there are ways to reach your competitors’ followers directly. You do this by targeting prospects based on interest. While creating an ad set, select “Detailed Targeting” and search for key competitors in your industry. Facebook will then target users who have engaged with those pages. It’s an easy way to ensure maximum relevance and may even give you an edge over the competition.
Use Facebook Lead Ads
Lead ads are similar to standard Facebook ads, except that they allow people to download content from you and share their information without leaving Facebook. Your ad may have a “Download” button that provides a free coupon or educational material, potentially leading to greater brand recognition and more conversions. AdEspresso conducted an experiment to test regular ads against lead ads; they found that lead ads do better on mobile devices while traditional ads perform better on desktop.
Create a Facebook Video Ad Campaign
If static ads aren’t generating the sales you hoped for, try a video ad campaign. A report by Kinetic Social concluded that video ads have an average eCPC of just 18 cents, far lower than any other ad type on Facebook. Video is the most effective way to attract people’s attention and engage them in a short amount of time. The video doesn’t have to be professionally produced. Even a simple product demonstration can be powerful.
How to Use Facebook to Build Your Email Subscribers List
Every business needs a good list of email subscribers. It’s the most cost-effective form of advertising at your disposal, all targeted at a demographic that has already expressed an interest in your product. Your website isn’t the only place to solicit email subscribers, though. Facebook can help in this arena as well.
Create an Opt-In Link on Your Facebook Page
Facebook makes it possible to create an email opt-in right on your business page. All you need is a Facebook-verified email client like MailChimp, SendInBlue, or AWeber. If you’re already a member of one of these services, just use the Facebook search bar to look for “mailchimp,” “sendinblue,” or whatever email marketing service you use. When the search results appear, click “Apps” and then download the app for that service.
With the app downloaded, return to your Facebook business page and configure the settings. In most cases, you’ll be able to configure a “Sign Up” link that appears on your page.
Use Facebook Live
Facebook Live allows you to stream up to four hours of video at a time. If you have something to teach, new products to unveil, or valuable tips to offer to buyers, Facebook Live can be an excellent resource. While Facebook Live doesn’t support email opt-ins, it can still be a good opportunity to encourage new subscriptions. That’s because the people who engage with your Facebook Live videos are people who are genuinely interested in learning new information about your products.
All you have to do is provide a valuable live presentation, and periodically make a statement like, “For more tips like this, be sure to visit our website/profile and subscribe to our email list.” For even more of an enticement, you might say something like, “We’ll be providing additional photos and tips in our next email, so be sure to subscribe.”
Facebook Live streams are watched three times longer on average than standard Facebook videos, so this is a great resource. Just make sure to come to the table with valuable information and an engaging presentation.
Use Facebook Ads
Yes, we keep coming back to this topic, but since there are so many different types of ads you can run, it bears repeating. To use Facebook advertising to solicit email subscribers, you want to point people to a landing page with an enticing incentive.
On your website, create a basic landing page with an email opt-in form. The text on the page should clearly highlight your incentive for new subscribers, whether it’s a discount code, an ebook, an informational resource, or a free gift with purchase. After a user subscribes, the form should direct them to a thank-you page that allows you to track the number of new subscribers from your ad.
Your Facebook ad should direct readers to this opt-in landing page; remember to emphasize the incentive in the ad headline and description. Once again, it’s best to run multiple concurrent ads with different settings, headlines, and descriptions. You can even have each ad point to a different identical landing page so you can more easily track which ad yields the most conversions.
Use Facebook Groups
Just as they can be useful for finding guest blog opportunities, Facebook groups can also help you to reach new email subscribers. Again, you have to tread lightly here, because if you march into a group with an obvious focus on sales, you’re going to attract the ire of the members and administrators.
To start, join three to five Facebook groups that are relevant to your business. For example, if your business sells barbecue grills, you would want to join grilling enthusiast groups. Become an active contributing member, make friends, answer questions, and have fun. Make sure to also read the group guidelines to ensure that you don’t break any rules. Again, you want to do this using your personal Facebook account, not your business account.
After becoming an active member and establishing your expertise within the group, you can share the same type of lead magnet discussed in the previous sub-section. If the group’s guidelines permit, post a link to your email opt-in landing page and discuss the incentive that you’re offering to new subscribers. Be polite and courteous about it. Don’t be pushy or persistent. For instance, you might say something like:
Hey, everyone. As some of you know, I run a business that sells scented candles. If anyone’s interested, I recently started a promotion where new email subscribers can get some free wax melts with their first purchase. Seeing as how we’re a group of candle lovers, I thought a few people might be interested. If so, please check it out. Thanks!
Again, this type of message will only work if you’ve already established yourself as a respected member of the group, so don’t rush it -- and don’t overdo it. One promotional post every few months is likely all people will tolerate in these community groups.
Taking Your Business to the Next Level With Facebook
We’ve covered a lot of ground here, but you don’t have to implement all of these steps right out of the gate. If you’re just starting out or short on time, you can start with one objective and build on it as you see results. Just to recap, here are some important takeaways:
- Your first focus should always be on building your audience, but remember: it’s not about the number of likes your page gets; it’s about the relevance of those followers.
- Never rely on just one ad strategy; what works for the next business may not work for yours. Test and experiment until you find the sweet spot.
- Don’t overlook Facebook Marketplace. It not only showcases your products to new people but can also be valuable for building brand recognition and trust.
- Whether it’s for your own blog, a product description, or a guest blog opportunity, always take the time to create amazing content. It will take a bit longer, but it will pay for itself many times over.
- It takes money to make money, and Facebook ads should be a central component of any Facebook e-commerce strategy. Even if your budget is just $5-$10 a day, it can make a big difference.
- When interacting with Facebook groups, be sincere and engage. Overly salesy members develop bad reputations and get banned.
Facebook offers amazing opportunities for e-commerce businesses. All you need are patience, diligence, and a good plan of action. Have you used Facebook to grow your business? Share in the comments below.