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How to Succeed in eCommerce Advertising: 6 Creative Best Practices

Written by: Juliana Casale, Director of Marketing

The future looks bright for eCommerce advertising. According to eMarketer, global B2C eCommerce sales will increase by 20.1% this year to reach $1.500 trillion, spurred by the adoption of mobile devices in emerging markets, the proliferation of online payment options, and more sophisticated shipping methods. Similarly, eMarketer’s US Retail eCommerce Sales Growth by Product Categories chart displays healthy (12-15% YOY) increases in 2015, especially in the books/music/video, apparel & accessories, toys & hobby, furniture & home furnishings verticals. As direct response advertising continues to claim a majority of digital ad dollars, the importance of aligning advanced targeting methods with creative becomes even more crucial.

Shirsten Alm, Nanigans graphic designer
At Nanigans, we’re excited to be a part of the movement toward in-house performance marketing. While we advocate data-driven advertising and the importance of hard numbers, we also recognize the role great creative plays in getting customers to respond to ads and take action — after all, what use is the right audience without the right method of persuasion? In order to prompt mobile user acquisition, attract loyal shoppers, and boost subscriptions, I asked Shirsten Alm, one of our graphic designers, for best practices to keep campaigns fresh and relevant. Here’s her advice:


1. Consider the location

On Facebook mobile, news feed (a lovely method of native advertising) is the name of the game. On desktop, you can also pick to display your ads on the Right Hand Side (RHS). While RHS ads are clustered together, Facebook is working on an update — rolling out later in the summer — to make this ad unit the same size as the news feed so advertisers can use the same images for both.

Because current RHS ads are displayed on a smaller scale, we recommend that you limit image text and use of CTA buttons, which can be hard to read. Instead, focus on large logos, deals like free shipping, savings from sales, and compelling copy.

Facebook RHS ads

2. Relay a sense of urgency

In the news feed, call to action copy is your best weapon. Aside from the default “Shop Now” and “Download Now” CTA buttons Facebook provides, play around with other calls to action in your copy like “Get it now,” “Buy the look,” and “Shop the trend.” Words like “ends today,” “free,” “limited-time,” and “hurry” are also great performers. As for app install ads, “Download free” or “Download today” tend to work well. When you can, provide a persuasive argument in terms of savings or earnings so viewers will feel they’re missing out if they don’t click.


Ad creative copy sense of urgency
As Shirsten covered in our previous eCommerce creative post, tying in ads with seasonality also gives consumers an extra push to browse products or take advantage of deals before a holiday or change in the weather.


3. Color is everything

While you can’t adjust the font or color of your ad’s body copy, you are in absolute control of the image and how it appears to your prospects. Pops of colors are a great way to attract eyeballs, but don’t go overboard — you still want a focal point for consumers to focus on. A colorful product placed over a white background is a crowd-pleaser.


pop of color is a best practice for eCommerce
To mix it up, you can showcase one product and its range of complementary colors — an easy way to stand out in the news feed. The color red is a go-to for attracting attention, but you can also try bright pinks, emerald greens and deep purples; just make sure you’re not straying too far from your company’s approved color palette, because you want to keep your creative and landing pages cohesive.


4. Focus on the product…

lifestyle vs. product creativeWhen you’re marketing electronics or games, it’s good practice to show people enjoying and using your product. When it comes to clothing, it’s often a better idea to focus on the item rather than a model.

To illustrate the reason why, take a look at the model to the left. What’s for sale here? It could be her top, necklace, shrug, watch, jeans, or pumps.

In a recent ad campaign that one of our high-end eCommerce clients ran, an image prominently featuring a purse showed a 37% CTR increase over another image showing a model wearing a necklace (in addition to a swimsuit and wrap).

It’s also important to note that the purse was placed against a neutral background, while the model was seated in front of a pool. As mentioned above, plain white or pale colored backgrounds minimize distractions and keep potential shoppers focused on what’s important.

5. …or a small number of products

As a corollary to #3 and #4, you want to direct attention to a specific location — so it’s best to avoid featuring slews of products in one shot. Stick with a handful of accessories or a few pairs of shoes if you’re showcasing a collection.

creative best practice: focus on a small number of products

6. Go with what works

While it’s tempting for us to dispense one-size-fits-all advice, the truth is that reporting results will vary based on targeting, time of day, day of the week, bid amounts… you name it. And what may work for an auction-style company might not work for a flash sale company, so experimentation and creative refreshes are an eCommerce marketer’s best friend. Approaches to test out within the same Custom Audience or demographic:


  • Lower caps vs. upper caps
  • Dollars amounts vs. percentages off
  • Discount codes vs. BOGO free
  • Products grouped together vs. one product
  • Call to action buttons
Creative ad diversification

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