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Susie Hood

Facebook ad types that convert best for retail brands | Paid Social I Hitsearch

At Hitsearch, we work with a number of UK and global retail brands, running Facebook ads alongside other marketing activity to achieve their business objectives and increase revenue. There are a variety of different types of Facebook ad types that can be used by retailers, so, in this article, we highlight several types of ad and different creatives that we’ve seen work well in this marketplace with our own clients.

When thinking about what types of ads to use to market your products on Facebook, it’s all about understanding your target audience and,

  1. What appeals to them on a level that will compel them to stop scrolling when they come to your ad
  2. What problem they have that your ad and product can answer – or how you can compel them to click through to find the answer.

With creative assets on Facebook, it is definitely a case of the more you have access to for your campaigns, the more opportunity there is for learning and tweaking for optimal performance. Using multiple messaging permutations enables you to assess which specific ads and text/image/video combinations are most effective for any given audience.

Single image ads

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With any retail advert on Facebook, the ultimate aim is to sell more products, so an ad that engages the audience well is only really useful if it also results in conversions. An

engaging ad and a converting ad are not always mutually exclusive, but they can be.

Example 1: An ad that is highly engaging on a lifestyle level, but is unlikely to sell anything as a direct result because it’s selling a finished ‘dream’ rather than an individual product. Used as part of a carousel, along with individual product visuals too, could be a great way to utilise this aspirational image, but as a standalone, it seems to fall a little short.


fb ads2 Example 2: A single-image ad that has a much more direct approach to selling, along with the nice product visual.





Facebook offers

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Whilst ‘offer’ ads don’t always produce results on the same level as a good single or multiple product ad, you can ‘personalise’ them in a highly engaging way by producing different creative for specific targeted audiences e.g. those with an upcoming birthday, to drive a specific offer or promotion. It’s not as direct as ‘buy now’ but if someone goes to the trouble to ‘get offer’ then their chances of making a purchase are still high.



Carousel ads

Carousels give you the opportunity to tell the audience a story with your ad using a set of stills, videos or a combination of both; if you can compel people to click through all of the images, that is. It might sound simple, but it’s not always that easy to tell a story when your main objective is to sell something.

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If you’re using a content marketing approach to provide the type of content that your audience values when they are much higher up the funnel, this type of ad, with some nice carousel images, could well compel people to click through and read the blog content, but will it result in a sale? It’s unlikely, although may help keep the brand at front of mind for a while.

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However, the carousel ad below shows much more conversion intent, with a focus on how the product looks both off and when worn, and the creative is designed to compel you to click through the images to see more.




Catalogue ads

Catalogue ads are a dynamic format that provide a cost-effective way to capture sales from both acquired and retained users. Typically for retail, you use a variety of audiences against which to serve catalogue ads. At a basic level, retargeting abandoned baskets with this type of ad is logical. However, this can be taken a step further by layering on datapoints for frequency and recency. Look at your analytics data – an abandoned basket from the last 48 hours has a better chance of turning to a sale than an abandoned basket from 25 days ago. Likewise, a consumer who initiated several content events on-site is more likely to convert than a consumer who only initiated one view content event.

fb ads6 What about associated/complementary products? Catalogue ads are a great way to showcase related items to past purchasers. Do you have a pool of customers who have recently bought a certain style of boots or shoes? Why not follow that up with an ad for skinny jeans that would go perfectly with them?


Instant Experiences

Instant experiences offer a full-screen mobile experience within Facebook. Showcase images, videos and product listings within one expandable unit. Tag your images with product listings that direct the consumer to the relevant page on site. This format captures attention through its full-screen layout optimised for mobile. A single ad format with lots of functionality. These ads are a great way to promote new product ranges in a brand-friendly format with maximum creative control.

Products pictured in a lifestyle image vs products alone – which converts better?

It’s a question that doesn’t necessarily have a right answer – the results will depend on your audience. Studies show that sites and content that contain images of actual people tend to perform better than those that don’t, but these things can work differently in different contexts, so it isn’t a given.

The two images showing in this carousel ad perhaps offer the best of both worlds. Firstly, jewellery that is shown in a simple but prettily framed way, then jewellery that is actually being worn, to give the audience a better idea of scale and the way it might look on them if they make a purchase. Both images are aspirational in this example.

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If you have a ‘known’ brand ambassador or celebrity face to the brand, using visuals containing them in your Facebook ads can also really pay off.

Testing with different versions should soon show you which type of ad connects best with your audience and can help shape your future creative assets. For the clearest results, change just one thing in each variation (i.e. don’t change both copy and visual in the same version – just one or the other) so that your learnings can help shape future activity.

Video ads

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Video assets can be expensive and resource intensive to create (although they don’t always have to be) so is it worth it from an ROI point of view? It’s absolutely worth testing a short video clip alongside a static image to see whether video creative is something worth further investment. This can be a series of stills made into a video if you don’t have any video assets ready to go. Asking your customers or influencers that you work with to submit their own videos wearing or using your products could also be an option – something Boohoo use frequently.

Animated gifs could be a halfway house if creating full videos isn’t an option at this stage.


In conclusion

Ultimately, there’s no “one true” ad format for Facebook when you’re trying to sell products. This is a question we get asked a lot and our best advice is to always test multiple creative formats against each other to find out what works best for different audience segments and build from there. In terms of barriers to entry for new advertisers, image ads - both single unit and carousel - are a great first port-of-call. However, for more established advertisers it would be remiss to overlook other formats and make use of the various options on offer to maximise the efficiency of your advertising.

Consider the role of segmentation – look at the various datapoints available to see how performance differs across formats. Perhaps creating age-segmented campaigns or ad sets will allow you to increase performance by serving up ads that are well-received by each age group. For retargeting outside of catalogue ads, if a consumer looks at bracelets, show them ads for bracelets. There’s nothing that screams “we don’t care about our customer” more than blanket retargeting ads that do not take into consideration your prior interactions with a business. Alongside this, make detailed use of negative audiences to control which ads the consumers are exposed to.

If you want more advice on your Facebook advertising strategy, get in touch with our paid media team today.

If you have a business in the financial sector and would like to up your marketing game or receive some expert information about digital marketing for financial services, then get in touch with a member of our team!

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