The best way to target cold traffic on Facebook
The landscape is changing and your ad strategy needs to adapt if you want to come out of the battle with a positive return on ad spend.
The best way to target cold traffic on Facebook
The landscape is changing and your ad strategy needs to adapt if you want to come out of the battle with a positive return on ad spend.
Over the past years, Facebook's advertising costs have been on a dramatic rise as monthly active advertisers continue to increase, without a proportional level of user growth to support the demand. According to statista, in January 2018, Facebook's CPM was up by 122% compared to January 2017.
As Facebook's self-serve advertising platform operates as an auction, this has resulted in more advertisers competing for the same inventory. First of all, this pushes up the CPM you pay Facebook to serve your ads, and secondly, Facebook's users are growing tired of ads - it's now harder than ever to convert impressions while the cost of impressions has increased simultaneously. To overcome the ad fatigue, you need to be creative and adopt strategies that aren't overused.

Unless you're a brand with a very unique value proposition and a huge gap in the market or strong brand awareness, you're not going to find success running those classic direct response ads to cold traffic, which would deliver profitable results for you two years ago. Why? Because the majority of advertisers do the same! The landscape is changing and your ad strategy needs to adapt if you want to come out of the battle with a positive return on ad spend.

In this blog post, I'm going to share the funnel framework and strategy we use to achieve profitable ecommerce results in 2020. But first of all, I'm going to explain the concept of traffic temperature and what I mean by direct response ads.
Understand the difference between cold and warm traffic
To start off, you're going to need to understand the difference between cold and warm traffic and how to tailor your ads to various segments based on their traffic temperature.
Think of your traffic as a funnel - your top of funnel traffic, also known as cold traffic, are people that have never been exposed to your brand or interacted with your content before. And as this traffic navigates through your website and gets closer to your ultimate goal "Purchase", they descend your funnel and become warmer. A typical ecommerce sales funnel goes something like this:

Clicks on ad > lands on product page > adds to cart > Initiates checkout > purchases

Now someone that has landed on your product page without adding to cart has not yet shown any buyer intent, and therefore you need to focus on nurturing this segment before ultimately serving them promotional or sales ads. Testimonial ads or customer reaction ads with emphasis on your unique value proposition works well to this segment. The ATC segment, on the other hand, are more ready to buy and it's not necessarily because they dislike your product that they abandoned the cart (they did add the product to their cart after all). There could be various friction points on the website such as; no clear delivery time, they realised they have to pay shipping (huge no-no), their internet connection broke down, they got interrupted by everyday life, no money-back guarantee (lack of trust) and the list goes on.

Your ads need to be tailored to their behaviour and the objections causing these people to drop off at this stage. So to this segment, you can try to push for the sale, but also ensure your copy addresses or counters their objections for abandoning the cart in the first place. A good tactic to identify their objections is by implementing an exit-intent survey and having it trigger when someone abandons a page with a URL that contains /cart. A tool like Picreel enables you to easily install exit-intent surveys.
Understand Facebook's relevance score ranking
This section explains why pushy sales ads gain low relevance scores and therefore higher CPMs.
Facebook users are sick of ads. They see them all the time. Day after day, from new brands that want to sell them their "amazing" products. As the user base is heavily saturated by generic ad campaigns, people are less engaged with these types of ads and you need to understand how to create ads that deliver value and high relevance scores. You basically want to create ads that feel native to the platform and don't resemble ads.

Before we dive deeper into this, it's important that you understand how Facebook's relevance score algorithm works.

Ad relevance score or relevance diagnostic as it's now called is a score Facebook's delivery algorithm gives your ads based on how they resonate with your audience. If your score is low, your audience is not resonating with your ad/messaging and/or you could be targeting the wrong people.

Facebook explains in more detail how this works here:
Ad relevance diagnostics can help you diagnose whether the ads you ran were relevant to the audience you reached. If your ads aren't meeting your advertising objectives, you can use ad relevance diagnostics to understand whether adjustments to your creative assets, post-click experience or audience targeting could improve performance. Learn more about how to use ad relevance diagnostics.

The diagnostics assess each ad's past performance in the ad auction over the date range you've selected. The diagnostics are:

  • Quality Ranking: How your ad's perceived quality compared to ads competing for the same audience.
  • Engagement Rate Ranking: How your ad's expected engagement rate compared to ads competing for the same audience.
  • Conversion Rate Ranking: How your ad's expected conversion rate compared to ads with the same optimization goal competing for the same audience.

Now that you understand Facebook's relevance diagnostics, what type of ads should you avoid when targeting cold traffic? Pushy sales ads in today's landscape is a huge no-go unless, as mentioned before, you're a massive brand with solid brand awareness.

By pushy sales ads I refer to ads that read a little something like this: "Want to achieve clean and healthy-looking skin? Discover our amazing skincare products and get 10% OFF today. Click to buy now before the offer expires: link "

If you focus on providing value in your ads rather than selling, you will receive a higher relevance score and gain more trust from your target audience.
The bottom line is, focus on creating free value for your audience before pitching your products to them. If you follow this recipe, you will achieve above-average relevance scores, more engagement and an ultimately a higher return on ad spend - provided the rest of your funnel is set up correctly and works hand in hand with your top of funnel ads.
What type of content should I use for cold traffic?
Now you may be thinking - what type of ads or content should I serve to my top of funnel/cold traffic? A few years ago it was possible to drive 5x ROAS or even higher by running direct response ads directly to cold traffic, without any other content aimed at building trust and creating value first. Unfortunately, with higher ad costs and saturation, this isn't the case anymore.

Think of it this way.. If you saw an ad for a skincare product, from an unknown brand, that promises to give you radiant and healthy-looking skin. Would you buy it? Probably not! Why? Because you've never heard of this brand, so why would you trust that they will deliver? Would you ask a girl to marry you on the first date? Probably not either. Advertising works the same way. You need to build a relationship before you can ask for a commitment.

This is exactly how you need to treat cold traffic - people that have never heard of you and probably don't trust you. Unless your brand enjoys massive awareness and strong credibility, you're going to have a hard time converting this traffic by running these so-called direct response ads or sales ads. The solution? Value value value. The first touchpoint needs to deliver value and solve a problem for your audience which is related to the products that you sell. This will help you build the trust you need before asking them to buy from you.
Your ad should not look like this:
But more like this screenshot..
Do you see the difference? The second ad is a blog post that provides value. You can also see by the number of likes and comments that this ad drives high engagement and therefore probably has a good relevance score - this helps you reach more people and lowers your CPM. You can clearly see that the advertiser has defined its persona well (over 50 probably suffering from ageing skin) and they serve a blog post which helps that audience solve their problem (value), which is also related to the products they sell (very important).

This ad achieves two things; the people that read the blog post and hopefully gains some value from it will learn to trust the brand and 2, the brand gains a massive pool of warm traffic they can retarget with sales ads, and because the relevance score is most likely high, they are buying this traffic at a much lower CPM than other advertisers in the same auction.
Find your customer acquisition product. Use GA to analyse conversions for each product.
Now that you understand what type of content to serve your cold traffic, it's important that you understand the term "Customer acquisition product".
This is your highest converting product which will act as your front-end or customer acquisition product. This is because this product will help you acquire new customers at the lowest cost possible and ensure that you maximise your ROAS. Remember, you want to send traffic to a product page to reduce the number of steps to checkout and not your home page. This is how you achieve high conversion rates and low CPAs.

A tool we use to identify this product for our clients is Google Analytic's ecommerce tracking. You can find instructions on how to set it up here

If you're on Shopify it's even easier. Instructions here.

Once you have ecommerce tracking fully integrated and functional, you can simply measure product views for each product, their add to cart and purchase rate. You can sort your view so that your top-converting products appear at the top. You basically want to select the product that has the highest conversion rate from product page views to purchases and use that as your customer acquisition product.
Advertise your customer acquisition product to the warm traffic you acquired in your top of funnel ad.
Now that you have a large pool of warm traffic who are familiar with your brand, and have more trust in you - provided that your content actually created value for them - you can start retargeting this segment with ads promoting your customer acquisition product. You will now almost certainly see much higher conversion rates as opposed to running these sales ads directly to cold traffic.

A good idea is to serve customer testimonial ads a few days after they have read the blog post prior to running the sales ad. This will ensure you build even more trust and convert a higher percentage of the traffic.

Now it's time to try this strategy yourself and get your sales volume and ROI up! In our next blog post, we'll write a little more in-depth about the types of creatives you should apply in each stage of the funnel.
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