The landscape of digital marketing has changed more in the past 6 months than it has in the past 6 years.
April 26th – iOS14.5 drops and completely flips the table on what the industry knew about paid advertising with App Tracking Transparency (ATT)
September 20th – iOS15 drops and further disrupts online marketing by introducing Mail Privacy Protection
To say we’ve had a few sleepless nights is an understatement. But without question, we pivot and we adapt.
Why has an iPhone update created so much disruption?
Whether it’s seeing which video ads on Instagram led to the most people to make a purchase on site, or how many people opened and clicked through on your latest email, being able to identify how your potential customers interact with your marketing material is crucial for getting the best ‘bang for your buck’.
And that’s exactly what the latest string of iOS updates have affected…
What has been the exact effect of iOS14 on media buying?
Reduced interest & behaviour audience sizes
Let’s take the ‘modern design’ as an example of an interest you’re able of targeting with your Facebook ads. 6 months ago the audience size you were capable of reaching was 60M.
Fast forward to today, that same ‘modern design’ audience is only capable of finding 30M. That’s because Facebook iOS users are opting out of app tracking, meaning Facebook is unable to identify as many people with this interest.
Reduced retargeting audiences
The story is the same here as given in the example above. Users that opt out of app tracking become anonymised, meaning if they land on your site, you can’t hit them with a 20% offer and get them back like you could previously. Because of this you might see your retargeting audience pools begin to shrink.
The amount of traffic your site receives likely hasn’t changed. But the amount of those site visitors you can target has.
Reduced and delayed tracking capabilities.
Anyone opted out of tracking is persona non grata in Facebook’s eyes.
They’re pretty much untrackable. Even if they see an ad, click and convert, Facebook will still have a tough time attributing that sale to that particular ad
Advertisers are now having to rely on different reporting methods such as Conversions API (cAPI) and Private Click Measurement (PCM), which can delay attribution up to 72 hours to match a conversion to Facebook.
But what about email marketing?
Apple’s new ‘Hide my email’ feature
This latest feature creates a random and unique email address for when you sign up to services/mailing lists that then forwards directly to your inbox.
This hides a user’s actual email, creating obvious problems for email marketers and brand owners alike.
Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection
This is a particularly large thorn in the side of email marketers. Any emails sent to users with this feature enabled will be displayed as ‘opened’, to the sender, even if the recipient ignores it.
This effectively removes ‘open rates’ as a reliable metric for success with no way of knowing if your numbers can be trusted.
How can brands navigate the new changes?
1. Stay Informed
Keeping on top of industry news will keep you informed and help you make sense of your own numbers and advertising performance changes.
The world of digital advertising is changing by the minute, and taking that into account when reviewing marketing performance is vital.
2. Keep calm… Not all users are impacted
iOS devices make up 47% of all smartphones. Only iOS devices are affected by these changes.
Apple Mail and Apple mobile devices make up 35%* only of the email provider market share globally. No other providers have announced such changes
3. Adjust your goal posts
With email, consider changing your success metric to click-through-rate rather than open-rate. This will provide a much more accurate way of examining performance!
Factor in underreporting. For both email marketers and media buyers alike, mass-underreporting is happening industry-wide.
On platform results are being skewed by our ability to track through them, which leads onto the next point…
4. Utilise UTM tracking
Tracking your performance through Google Analytics using UTM parameters is essential to getting the most unbiased view of your marketing.
While Google Analytics only operates on a last click attribution model, likely discounting delayed attribution of your ad performance, you can be certain your results will be a little more reliable!
The same goes for email marketing. Cover your email links and buttons head to toe in UTM tracking to make sure you can see what’s happening as clearly as possible.
5. Focus on high-level metrics
With on-platform metrics underreporting, metrics such as Media Efficiency Ratio (MER) and overall Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) are far firmer figures to examine.
Being able to calculate the efficiency of your total advertising costs vs revenue should always be the cornerstone metric of any brand
6. Be adaptable
Potentially the most important point you need to take away from this blog.
The ability to pivot and find success is a make or break situation for a brand. If Facebook isn’t working for your brand, moving advertising spend into TikTok, Google ads, Pinterest etc and finding your audience is more important now than ever.
One more thing…
Regardless of what methods you utilise to help your brand survive and thrive the tides of change, being able to embrace that change, and pivoting is what has allowed us to continue to scale and kill it with the brands we work with.
The methods, tricks and tactics we use might change, but the fundamentals remain the same. Having a killer product, great content and reaching the correct audience will do more for your brand than any ‘Facebook Ad Guru Hacks’ you might find on YouTube.
Yesterday, (22nd June 2021) Mark Zuckerberg has announced some fresh new changes coming that will present major opportunity for brands that are quick to act.
In this blog post we will highlight each of these new changes, and, whilst these have been kept brief so far by Zuck, we will be detailing our thoughts on these, and what they could mean specifically for e-commerce brands.
Feature 1: Instagram Visual Search.
“Helps you discover products based on images that inspire you (I’ll use it to find more grey t-shirts)”
In our eyes this is an update which probably solidifies Facebook’s position when it comes to creating a more engaging shopping experience on Instagram. A platform of late which has allowed brands to be uncovered by being fine tuned to a user’s interests, and utilising the ‘explore’ and ‘shop’ areas of the platform.
Zuck hasn’t eluded to much here on exactly how this feature will play out, however if there is an integration whereby users can find products similar to an image they have found, and perhaps a ‘look’ they are seeking to replicate when it comes to fashion, then this could be huge for brand discovery.
Feature 2: Shops on Marketplace: “More than 1 billion people use Marketplace each month, so we’re making it easy for businesses to bring their Shops into Marketplace to reach even more people.”
Again, a great way of developing the current Marketplace feature within Facebook to be more user friendly, whilst also allowing brands to be discovered once again. This has had it’s fair share of negative comments of late, and this still remains an under leveraged area of the platform for both Facebook and brands alike.
Right now, Marketplace is a second hand thrift shop, dominated by users selling their cars, right through to random household items for pennies, so not the right avenue for most when it comes to e-commerce strategy.
For us, this elevated way of curating Shops on Marketplace could allow the smaller brick & mortar, traditional retail outlets to step into the online world in a more seamless fashion if they have found the likes of Shopify and a more strategic play when it comes to e-commerce being too difficult to get traction with. It could allow small companies with low volume stock to do what eBay did with SME’s.
3. Shops on WhatsApp.
“Soon you’ll be able to view a Shop in WhatsApp so you can chat with a business before buying something. Businesses only need to set up their shop once to have it work across Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp.”
Most definitely the update in which we are taking most note of. If this is rolled out ahead of Q4, this could make for a considerable strategy when it comes to customer nurture, and decreasing abandoned carts for the peak buying phase of the year.
If you have an SMS strategy in place already, or better yet have a live chat system in place which works in tandem with this, the WhatsApp Shops feature could elongate this into new levels.
Oh, and this also means something else to us: ADS!
You can bet that this feature will allow your brand to be advertised on the WhatsApp platform, with direct links for consumers to speak with you directly, there and then. If Facebook gets this one right, it could be huge for e-commerce.
This is a general announcement we have sent out to all of our brands today following recent updates from Facebook, and additional learnings we have seen over the past couple of days as we continue to stay at the very forefront of the environment for our brand partnerships benefit
We also thought we should make this a blog post for two reasons..
1. This stuff is killer content and deserves to be put out there, so why not.
2. Navigating ios14 has been a battlefield for everyone these past couple of months. In particular, we want to help the smaller brands that may not be able to afford an expert agency that has access to this type of information, and could really do with it to just stay afloat and survive in such times. We know it can help, and hopefully it does!
There are two main points to raise as an initial FYI:
1. IOS adoption has went up significantly with their latest forced IOS 14.6 update causing a higher opt-out rate causing a decrease in performance.
2. Starting June 30th, Facebook have CONFIRMED a positive update will be taking place. Facebook shall be expanding their use of conversion modelling to include it in their 7 day click default attribution setting. The inclusion of these new modelled conversions may result in a noticeable increase in 7-day click conversions, and overall ad account performance. Facebook are continuing to improve their machine learning models and expand their coverage of these new modelled conversions, in order for the platform to have greater transparency, of which has largely been lost of late, impacting our capabilities to scale budgets effectively.
With point 2, we certainly see a light at the end of the tunnel. The next few weeks will be bumpy but hopefully we’ll see a drastic improvement in July as anticipated since March.
In line with the above, we wanted to share what is working right now and shed light on a case study which could be modelled similarly for your brand..
The clients who are performing significantly well right now are releasing either new offers, promotions, collections/product ranges or re-structuring their offer/landing pages/sales process.
One brand of which has already hit $400k this month, due to some revamping and restructuring of offers.
A lot of this is driven by a sale that finishes end of this month.
They also don’t run sales often so the urgency/desire is very much real, and has caused a stir with their audience who want to fully take advantage of this FOMO inducing campaign.
It’s worth us mentioning that a nice portion of these returns have come from our email campaigns we put in place (money is, has been and always will be in the list long term – this is fully owned by you, and is one of the biggest assets a brand can have when software companies take the control away with such things like ios14). A well nurtured email list will always be a good weapon against change. (Of course with $0 attributed marketing spend to any returns seen here is also a huge plus point)
Here is a separate campaign which went out today for a completely different brand, which goes down a ‘secret sale’ avenue, with added benefits for taking part – something this brand has also never done, so causes high intrigue and uptake.
A lot is changing right now and we need to lean into it in every form we can.
– Borders, the world, physical businesses all opening back up
– Weather globally is getting warmer so less time spent online. General market seasonality always seen at this part of the year.
– Money being spent locally again instead of online.
Therefore, creativity will play a huge level of importance this month…
We suggest to find genuine reasons to run sales, promos or campaigns right now to boost conversion rate and sales:
1. Fathers day
2. Summer sales
3. Revenge travel hype
4. Flash sale (72 hours/1 week only)
Evergreen is 100% taking a hit right now. It’ll only get worse before it gets better, so we are encouraging as above, to get creative with your strategies to make the most out of what we can right now, and drive performance to be as high as it can.
*Photo of brand performance for June thus far – can clearly see when the campaigns went live*
We would encourage you to utilise this information as much as possible, and use it to get creative with how your brand could strategise this period.
Extra point of notice:
We have noticed performance drop offs across accounts on 1st June. Since then there has been over a 40% increase of users updating to IOS14.5. Adoption rates are increasing fast as you can see:
Therefore, this really is a time to be thinking different, rather than sitting around hoping to ride the wave.
Your ROAS will continue to be in a downtrend, your marketing budget will be stretched thin, and ultimately you will be leaving opportunity on the table.
We hope this helps, not only to help your brand survive ios14 and the multiple updates Apple are putting out there onto brands, but ultimately we hope this helps your brand thrive, and outpace your competition in such volatile times.
BFCM. The time of year all brands, customers, and agencies have firmly imprinted in their minds as the cooler months roll in..
The time of year when some brands can accumulate in a SINGLE DAY what they may accumulate in several months leading up to it.
As a consumer, you will be hit from all angles, often by brands you had never even heard of, all vying for your attention, and your hard earned cash.
It’s the time your inbox receives an onslaught of “Our Cyber Monday sale!” emails, sales announcements, and your Instagram turns into a boxing match between your favourite brands.
It’s an epic time of year, absolutely. One of which we absolutely buzz off and get a thrill like no other when we see 6X, 7X, 8X+ ROAS at top of funnel. And then of course, we get all hands on deck to scale the living sh*t out of it as each hour goes by, with us chomping away to try and hit record sales months for our brand partners.
However, there is a flip side.
A big flip side which can be disastrous, and put your brand in a tricky place if not methodically thought out.
Riding on the hype train of Black Friday, Cyber Monday is a potentially disastrous decision if you follow every competitor’s lead without sensitivity to what your audience expects and wants to hear from you, and one of which if not carefully curated ahead of time, can leave you scrambling away with a lacklustre campaign that fails to hit the hype.
It’s a mega traffic time of year, which can lead to endless unsubscribes, unfollows, and potentially even bad feedback scores and ‘spam’ hits on your ads. …We aren’t about that life.
This year, these tactics provided will do exactly that once again, and possibly even to larger effect than what was seen in 2019.
This year, we will provide 3 tips to ensure you don’t get it horribly wrong when it comes to your BFCM strategy..
1. If It Feels Wrong, Don’t Do It.
If you’re planning out your BFCM outreach right now and it feels slightly uneasy as a brand, or you straight up feel like you’re only doing it because it’s BFCM, we would recommend putting on the brakes.
If you have those negative feelings about your outreach, it’s likely that your audience will feel that way too on the receiving end.
There’s nothing cooler than a brand that thoughtfully decides not to follow the herd on a very herd-inducing stretch of days like BFCM.
This is not to say don’t do anything however, because if you do nothing you will undoubtedly miss the moment on what could have been an epic sales busting week for your brand. But rather, what I am trying to get across here is that you can dare to do differently. It doesn’t have to be a blanket site-wide sale (although for the majority, these work a treat) There is no ‘need’ to do high discounts if your brand isn’t totally aligned to that and it feels wrong, would hit the margins way too much, or maybe you just don’t need to do them; this is pretty much only if you are Christian Dior. Most brands reading this however, should be doing something.
Some food for thought here is to think around how creativity can induce larger volumes of sales, such as bundling, or tiered discounts based on amount spent.
If it doesn’t feel right to you to hop on the BFCM train in the way you think it should be played, get creative and think through what your audience does want to receive from you on a day when they’re traditionally asked to give. This brings me to my next point..
2. If You’re Going To Do It, Do It Right.
By this, we mean don’t be stingy.
A measly 10% off or a ‘free shipping for BFCM’ promo is not a promo for BFCM.
This is like turning up to a Halloween party with a scream mask and a bin bag, you may as well not have even turned up.
The discount needs to pack a punch, be ‘wow’ worthy, and something in which will entice a buying rush like when Yeezy drop a new pair.
The trick here, is to do something that will get your audience processing orders faster than they ever normally do, in a FOMO inducing state.
It’s easy to know if you’re winning when it comes to this, because within 15 minutes of you putting the offer live, your jaw will be dropping to the floor with the amount of ‘dings’ you get from Shopify.
If you haven’t experienced this, the chances are your BFCM of last year failed to hit the hype levels required to pack the right punch, and you don’t want to miss the opportunity once again in a year in which e-commerce will hit all time transaction highs.
When thinking through your business’ BFCM plan, I challenge you to backtrack and ask yourself if your audience would debate the offer being strong enough, or something they could easily pass on and move on to a competitor.
As a business, your primary responsibility is to produce income, and so knowing your customer and your demographic is fundamental here to knowing how to play BFCM, and how to get the adrenaline flowing from your customers when they see that glossy ad served up to them on their Insta feed.
Be the business that listens to its audience year round, and you will know what would be the best bet.
3. Don’t overcommit. (Don’t be that brand)
Only produce what you can keep up with.
A lot of email and social media ghosting happens on BFCM; brands that have barely sent any emails, do 1-3 IG stories a day throughout the year all of a sudden bombard you with emails on BFCM and have an IG story that looks like Tetris. As soon as BFCM is over, like a ghost, they disappear from your inbox as quickly as they came and you get little to no value throughout the other months of the year.
Using your email marketing purely as a tool to make announcements is old school, and completely useless for today’s consumer, and one of which will dwindle your subscriber list faster than you brought them in.
There is enough clutter in people’s inboxes – if your emails have no utility to audiences other than as bait for them to spend money, they will sense this, and you’ll lose them. Especially so with this point, you need to ensure that if you are to send a ton of promotional content, you are ready to keep this up to a similar level once the hype settles and the period is over.
As soon as the middle of December rolls around, you need to ensure you keep it up in a way that is true to your brand.
One saying we have at The Normal Company is that LTV is the master metric. Do not jeopardise your long term stature for the short term shiny dollar, ensure you can carry everything out in a moderation that suits you, suits the brand history of marketing, and the future in which you plan to continue the distribution.
If you want to captivate and engage with your audience in a meaningful way, start off by sending useful content in your emails and boosting its intrigue for your audience.
Does your audience want to receive brand updates, funny memes, helpful information about sustainable fashion, a cause in which you back as a brand, or useful advice that suits why people buy your product?
Show up to your customer in a way in which best reflects your brand, the tone of voice in which you wish to be perceived with, and a manner in which you would be proud of seeing when looking at it’s content, context and value to the audience.
Selling your products or services, especially on BFCM requires a nurturing process more often than not. Don’t think that just because you’re giving out a once-in-a-year discount that your audience will let you skip over the fundamentals of what makes them want to buy from you.
Create a vibe, an aesthetic unique to you, a feeling which your customer is a part of, and you will forever have an audience which is actively on the lookout for your discounts, and ready for you to drop that email bomb on them as they not so patiently press refresh every 10 seconds on November 27th. What I have described here, is that high LTV brand which dominates it’s market.
When you have an audience like this, you have what we call a superbrand.
Before BFCM comes around this year, start sending the emails and doing the work now to build an engaging conversation between you and your audience. Well, tbh you should have been doing this way before now, but creating a hyped and engaged audience is the firepower you need which will front-end-load your campaigns before you’re even thinking about them. It’s the surefire way to boost the success of any BFCM play you put out there, in a way in which your competitors could only dream of keeping up with.
Ads on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram are today deemed the most annoying.
This is according to Business Insider Intelligence’s recent Digital Trust Survey.
Well that’s simple.
People don’t like being advertised to, especially when they want to scroll and find new inspiration from their favourite bloggers, escape for 10 minutes on a lunch break, play the latest Justin Bieber music video, or see what those they love have been up to.
It’s irritating, and a primary barrier to what they are on the platform to see, and experience.
The results of this survey should come as a wake-up call to marketers and brand owners alike still unsure about native content, or focussing more on the natural, stripped back approach to marketing vs the glossy magazine cover-esque pieces of creative.
So, what’s the solution?
Based off our recent results across our brand partnerships and client portfolio, the fuel for the most recent ROI experienced has been user generated content.
In the last 3 months especially, this has been the primary driver behind results both on an engagement, organic level, but also on the paid advertising front.
Our ethos is simple, and the types of conversations we have been having recently looks a little like this..
Integrate with content your target customers love to see, and be a part of the reason they are on the platform.
Don’t be a 1990’s yellow pages advert plastered in the middle of an Instagram feed.
You’ll lose out.
If your marketing is in a designated advert, in between your target customer and the content they want to watch, undoubtedly it will be glanced over or not given attention. Your CTR will be sky high, even on the editorial you spent hours on end in a studio developing, tweaking and editing.
Not to mention the cost for producing your glossy ad.
It just won’t generate interest, and your marketing spend will be wasted because you are going against your consumers’ psychology and frame of mind at that given moment.
Integrate your message into user generated content, and become an intrinsic, flowing piece of the platform experience.
Here’s our top reasons why UGC is the way forward for brands that want to scale:
1. It’s the human touch
As above, people don’t want to be advertised to. They don’t want to be bombarded by marketing messages and they most certainly don’t want your ad interfering with their user experience on Instagram, Facebook or YouTube.
User generated content goes against ‘marketing’.
It’s a natural, aesthetically on point piece of content that creates a feeling.
A feeling that is in line with who your customer wants to be, how they want to feel, and the desire they have when it comes to the ‘why’ they would buy from your brand.
Here’s the thing: People trust people.
People want to relate with people.
This has been one of our key mantra’s when it comes to strategy calls of late with our clients, especially those in the fashion space.
Those that have adopted this strategy and nailed in on the UGC space to their advantage, have seen all time high conversion rates and revenues reported for the months of July and August consistently.
Instead of scrolling through websites that only tell you their ‘halo’ version of the product, people now prefer a natural, vibey conversation coming through from what they see from brands.
What they crave, essentially, is the human touch to an otherwise lifeless, staged, over-edited piece of content. UGC content provides precisely that – the human element.
It shows the product for what it is, the brand for the feeling they create with a no holes barred approach, and the customers for the community they generate.
Seeing a similar person to you, or a respected influencer wearing the new line is the best way to demonstrate your product to would-be-buyers. It’s the pairing of valuing perspectives of their fellow customers, hand in hand with an unfiltered view of your product in a real world use, often in a real world environment.
This is what UGC provides your brand: The much needed, and much desired help that prospective customers understand the product inside and out, and they get to know what to expect before they even land on the product page.
2. Customer Experience Is Accentuated
Consider that you have been using the same angles of content for the past 6 months.
Your ads may very much be experiencing ad fatigue, because your product only shows so much.
It shows one angle, repeatedly: Your angle as those behind the brand day to day.
You have yet to mix this up and twist things into the angle you really need to be portraying as priority: Your customer’s view when they have the product.
When this switches up, your intended customer will see something a little like this…
They open up Instagram, scroll along and then get hit with a native ad that speaks the same language as those in which they follow, almost as if the ad they are seeing has been posted by one of their close friends.
Immediately they have minor emotions tied into the creative, and they are getting a sense of feeling with your brand.
The piece of content shows your brand in a native and natural form, and in a way studio content just cannot relay in the same way.
Suddenly, the product has new life to it, a new portrayal, and a new value proposition in the eyes of your consumer.
A different view, creates different reactions.
They are now viewing someone experience the product in real life and validate all its claims, as opposed to just hearing them.
In short, your consumer is already experiencing the product, and in turn they get convinced that it’s as good as you say it is, and it does exactly as what that customer would expect from a product.
User-generated content adds a dash of authenticity and reverberates with the customer in the most natural form.
It’s a buying accelerator like no other.
3. It Converts
User generated content drives sales like no other.
When people see for themselves how a product has impacted the life of someone else, and someone they identify with, they begin to find ways the product can help them, and starting selling the product to themselves.
In turn, this creates a higher CTR and traffic generation from this type of content compared to any other because it’s so identifiable.
The metrics align perfectly for any brand looking to scale, because UGC generates interest and more ‘scroll stopping’ than an ad that doesn’t look like it belongs.
It’s why people skip the adverts immediately when they come on T.V. between their favourite show – they know it’s not going to be relevant or personally tailored to them.
It’s another annoying barrier before they get to what they really want to see, and the reason why they are watching T.V. in the first instance.
However, if those adverts were people you adored and identified with showing off their latest buys in the most natural way, you may just hear them out.
Brands get far more bang for their spend, because their spend isn’t being wasted on people scrolling past, but rather the spend on the content is now getting clicks, and clicks create conversions.
You may end up buying something you do not need at all, or find something you may have passed up on initially, because it directly impacted you on an emotional level – it’s not just another advert.
User-generated content consciously and subconsciously alters buying patterns and increases eCommerce sales twofold with brands who have lacked in that department historically.
Every marketing metric that aligns to sales, rises in all the right areas, and it’s clear to see why.
UK ‘Giant’ clothing store Primark made a grand total of £0 this month on the back of four weeks of closure, and over 60,000 furloughed staff due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Primark’s usual £650m months have plummeted to rock bottom due to their lack of diversified channels, in a world which is changing around them, and one of which they have ignored for many years.
With stores across the world forcibly closing due to the UK lockdown, Primark has been unable to sell any products due to its non existent online presence or diversified channels. In the past, the store has tried to justify this by saying it would not be able to keep prices low if home delivery were an option.
But, this in our eyes is an all too familiar phrase and string of excuses similar to that of brands and stores that we have seen fall at the hands of a digital first world over the past 18 months.
Primark however, like many physical stores have now had the shock which would have been inevitable regardless; adapt to e-commerce, or face a harsh reality check at some point.
Chief executive George Weston said: ‘ABF has been squarely in the path of this pandemic. At Primark we have 68,000 of our people receiving furlough payments from governments across Europe, without which we would have been forced to make most redundant.
‘From making sales of £650m each month, since the last of our stores closed on 22 March, we have sold nothing.’
With this highlighting how George Weston and his board have failed to acknowledge and take action on what it means to have a digital strategy, the company and their staff are now paying the price of an ‘adapt or die’ retail world.
George added: “In time we can rebuild the profits. We can’t replace the people we lose.”
Shortsightedness can prove to be a killer even at the best of times and when business is booming, however at this current time especially, the so-called-giants will face a harsh reality which could see many household names pay the ultimate price.
The value of diversification for brands and stores is becoming apparent, as it always will when it becomes too late, but always pushed aside when times are good.
The question poised on Primark and their Directors is now this: Should we shift to e-commerce as a priority?
The answer, is undoubtedly so, but equally it took a worldwide pandemic for them to emerge out of a cave, and ask what should have been a question they answered with tenacity when they had an opportunity to thrive, rather than merely scrap to survive.
On this Normal case study we are going to go DEEP on the process for achieving multi 6 figure results within a 60 day period directly from Facebook and Instagram advertising. If you have a fashion brand yourself or are in the e-commerce industry in general, you may want to take note…
It goes without saying that 2020 is going to be another tough year for brands that rest on their laurels. We all know that brands are popping up left, right and centre, and the competition is fierce. An edge on your market is forever key, with constant evolution and innovation now a necessity.
In fashion, trends last as long as the sun in the U.K! The needs and wants of customers will change each season, and the desire for top quality products that also meet the financial needs of a customer is a constant moving bar. If you’ve been in the space for a long time, you’ll know that you can be the ‘next big thing’ one month with sales coming in by the bucket load, a PR’s dream and every influencer and her dog wanting your jumpsuit, yet the very next month have cobwebs in the stock room.
For sustainable success in fashion eCommerce you need an overall strategy that complements the Facebook environment, and in this hot topic we are going to break down the scalable and sustainable system we integrate into the fashion brands we partner with closely.
This is what will be covered:
• How to use new collections and new item launches in the most effective way
• How to use sales and flash sales to boost your overall sales and profitability
• How to use ‘signalling’ as part of your overall strategy to boost sales by 10X
• Our proven formula behind selling ‘collections’ instead of singular products
In addition to these points, we will also dive deeper (For the nerds reading this, like us) into the specific points that are Facebook marketing related.
1. THE STRATEGY
Something we noticed is that when most fashion brand owners launch a new collection, they more often than not have the same strategy that simultaneously takes effect in line with every season. It goes a little something like this:
They put their entire new collection on the website, throw up some ads saying ‘AW20 collection launched’ and send people to their site via the usual; Instagram post, Instagram story post, chuck a few influencers in the mix to push it….
…then wait for the sales to come.
This works, to a certain degree. Especially if your collection is good.
By splitting up your collection into multiple parts you can drip feed your audience with several new styles every week or 2 weeks and especially keep your warm audiences engaged and coming back.
We’ve seen this work magically. When collections are drip fed into smaller collections and have a ‘staggered’ approach, you maintain a key behaviour from your customers: Hype.
Besides new items, as a brand owner you always have to deal with items that are not selling or slower weeks when you don’t have any new item launches. You also have to take into account when people are buying, and when they aren’t buying.
Take this part of the year for example; Dry January.
This isn’t just the alcohol free month, ohhhh noooooo. It’s dry AF for the shops, the stores, and of course, most brands just like yours.
So instead of marking down everything at the end of a season or hoping it will sell out at full price, introduce flash sales in the weeks that you don’t have any new item launches or when you anticipate slow sales. A good ‘CLEARANCE’ produces a good amount of FOMO.
By using flash sales and suggesting these to a few of our fashion clients, we were able to generate one week of over $100k in sales at a 10X ROAS, for a brand which has a relatively small following of 40k on Instagram.
Even though we were giving discounts on products, this still brought in more than enough profit which exceeded their break even point, and of course the ripple effect of new customers that did their first ever purchase with the brand, is great for the long term.
2. THE NORMAL COMPANY HACK TO RUNNING SUCCESSFUL FLASH SALES AND NEW LINE LAUNCHES
It’s simple: Just putting your new products on the website and creating an ad saying ‘new products in’ or ‘SALE NOW LIVE’ is not the best action plan. This is also an off the cuff knee jerk reaction often when thing’s aren’t going so well, and it often comes off that way too.
So, with this being said, something we found very successful is the drip feed of these events, and the pre-hype around them.
The way we do this is we build a high amount of anticipation for new item launches and flash sales by notifying everyone in the warm audiences (and some cold) what will happen, ahead of time.
We run ads building up anticipation for new products or for the upcoming sale and what we see is that people engage with these ads extremely well. What we find is a ton of comments tagging their friends to notify them too, a lot of inboxes as to ‘what might be coming’ and the organic reach on posts getting a nice perk up too.
We run a mix of video views, engagement and conversion ads in this stage depending if it’s a new product or a flash-sale. It’s paramount that the creatives and copy is on point for this to be put to best use, so always having this pre-planned and created a month or two in advance is almost essential. Get some sexy content, and be prepared for a blow up!
Now, when the sale starts or the new items come in, we would have in turn built up some hefty audiences to target and put into our ‘sale funnel’.
One of our campaigns saw a 24 hour period reach the same sales volumes as an entire month before we were working with the brand.
Something to keep in mind in fashion overall from an ad and strategy perspective is that you want to try and focus on selling the collection/brand instead of selling a single product. Unless you have massive volume behind the products and can replenish stock at the click of a finger.
When you focus on your specific products it’s easy to get people to buy that product, of course. But, if you don’t have the volume to back the sales you will quickly have to stop scaling. This has happened on occasion with some of our smaller brands who unfortunately didn’t have the capacity to keep the fuel on the fire, and therefore stunted their own growth and capacity for scale.
A secondary note here, is that the average order value will also rise as people are shopping an entire sale and will add a few more things to their basket as they are in a ‘sales frenzy’ state of mind, rather than just going on your site to grab the dress they’ve had their eye on that just got a price slash.
3. NAILING THE FACEBOOK & INSTAGRAM ADS
Firstly, we would like to just raise a little piece of value around how to positively impact your CPM. Of course, when running effective campaigns this is a key metric for any brand, and so the impetus on this is high for us.
What we noticed on this particular brand account before we ran the large campaign, is that when the brand themselves accelerated their posting schedule to 5-7 times a day following a prior conversation we had with them around frequency of social media activity, the CPM came down a TON!
We compared this client (posting multiple times a day for 30 days) to clients posting 3-5 times a week and the CPM compared to them selling in the same niche, same audiences and similar price range was up to 50-60% lower.
The big thing to note about posting multiple times a day is that you’re also engaging a much bigger part of your audience organically. People engage on Facebook and Instagram which feeds the warm audiences in your funnel.
The Normal Company tip: POST, POST, POST. Go H.A.M!
So, what we have identified is that the absolute best practice in the fashion space is to post multiple times a day. Focus on delivering value here too.
Make these posts have the sole focus of building a community around your brand; get people commenting, build relationships, and form a connection between you and them. Get some style files posted, raise some questions and raise some eyebrows.
There’s no right or wrong way here, but more so about making things non-sale related and making sure the frequency is of a very high level.
If you think you’re posting a lot already, post more. Trust us on this.
4. CREATIVE IS THE VARIABLE
This was highlighted a little above, however to go a little deeper here the most important element to being successful on Facebook and Instagram at the moment is the creative. It’s the number 1 variable between success and failure, and rightly so.
…Would you buy from a brand which had poor creative? No.
That’s because a creative has to resonate with you or it won’t get a sale from you.
We see it all the time, the difference in running an account at a 2x return or a 5x return has most of the time nothing to do with audiences, ‘hacking’ the algorithm, manual bidding or anything like that. It’s almost always down to the creative that goes hand in hand with our process.
If you’re on board with us already, you would have definitely have had this conversation with us on a strategy call!
For this particular fashion brands’ account we had a lot of good creative to work with. They were very forthcoming with us and always have been when it comes to giving us a plethora of top quality videos, images, GIF’s and everything in between. Our dropbox is constantly replenished with bountiful content!
Anything we need, they were able to produce it and at a quick turnaround rate.
Speed is king.
With this large volume of content at our disposal we had from the brand, we created different videos for different steps of the funnel, all based around where the buyer was in their customer journey.
If you’re not running effective Facebook funnels at the moment, one key thing we would advise here is to refresh the content every 2-3 weeks if possible, especially on the high performing campaigns! Keep it fuelled, and you’ll keep growing.
The last thing you ever want to see is ad fatigue due to creatives becoming dead.
If you don’t focus on this creative part, you’re not going to be successful with Facebook ads at scale. You NEED creative, and you need it almost on tap.
If you don’t, there’s someone in your space that will be doing this and guess what?
They’ll be bigger than you and take your customers.
This is a big statement, yes.
So, how did we come to this conclusion?
Since dynamic creative appeared we’ve been working on a system of using this in all our creative testing.
The system we used to use was as follows:
• Campaign with 4 ad sets – all ad sets had 1x CPA as minimum budget (around 10% of the account spend for the campaign total)
• The ad set targeted the best performing audience, most of the time a 1% LLA works well for us.
• Every ad set had 3-5 ads and we would split out all of the videos, images, carousels and collections ads in a solid distribution.
5. CREATIVE TESTING THE NORMAL WAY 2.0
We warned you we would go a little nerdy here, and it’s about to be so.
With dynamic creative, we have tried to simplify this process a bit. We now use the following process:
We create a dynamic creative campaign with again the best performing audience (1% LLA or Customer List)
We test this again at minimum 1x CPA and let it run to 3x CPA so we can see what the winning combination is. We then take the winning post ID from the dynamic creative and see how this performs on it’s own. We also turn this winning combination into a collection ad to see how this performs.
At the same time we create a dynamic creative version around the best product or best image/video combination to see if we can optimise this one further.
The winners out of this test we move into the scaling campaign.
If we don’t need new creative in that campaign because performance is good, we put the creative in a PPE campaign for engagement and build out the creative library.
Don’t stop this process, just rinse and repeat, and keep it in an evolution cycle.
The type of creative that worked best for this particular brand were high quality HD video ads (both normal and collection) and carousel ads. (Also note your video ads need to be the right format for Facebook / Instagram placements).
So, with this being said we would clearly recommend you get some epic video content produced. It’s worth doing this, and doing this well, as with the right Facebook strategy in place you can really scale to the moon.
Your investment into content can be paid back 100X over with the likes of our system in place. It’s often the main thing we need from you!
6. A DIFFERENT TACTIC TO PLAY
There are a couple of other things we’ve tested that have produced wild scale for a couple of fashion brands, and this brand in particular reaped the reward by having the following in place:
A simple CBO going out to cold audiences.
We put different products/collections in different CBO’s and used a strong variety of audiences in each separate CBO.
When we found a clear winning audience within a performing campaign we would put this into its own campaign with 6 duplicates to see how it performed on its own.
We saw that big audiences performed better and created a structure where we would spend 40% of our budget on small lookalikes, 40% of budget on bigger lookalikes of up to 10% and audiences of up to around 20 million people, and finally we would allocate 20% of the budget on broad audiences specifically.
We will mention it again in case you missed it: The key for this campaign working so incredibly was the fact that we could cycle through creatives and have a fresh load of files at our fingertips.
For retargeting something we were really successful with in this account is targeting the email list in a separate campaign, split into different audience segments.
Aside from this, what we also did was retargeted the bottom of the funnel audience twice over. We created 2 campaigns targeting the same audience of people that added to cart.
We were getting around $1.50 add to carts so these audiences were massively effective.
Campaign A – Conversion Campaign with DPA ad targeting the add to carts, we kept the segments big enough (3 day and 4-10 days) as we saw performance was best in bigger audiences.
Campaign B – This was a simple reach focussed campaign with strong creative video ads, targeting the exact same audiences as campaign A with a 100% overlap to hit them with a different piece of content. This worked like clockwork.
This strategy worked extremely well and delivered a 10x+ ROI on both campaigns.
If you held on here right until the end, you’re serious about 2020!
We hope this was of value, as these exact strategies and hacks entailed are what we used to grow a fashion brand to $308K in sales on one campaign alone.