The 6 Deadly Sins of e-Commerce Advertising

14th October 2019

5 Min Read

With the global e-commerce industry’s rapid expansion expected to hit US$6.5 trillion by 2023, it comes as no surprise that the task of reaching out to, and converting, more customers is getting tougher each year. 

What does this mean for e-commerce brands, then? For starters, it means that with such stiff competition, the stakes are higher for e-commerce brands looking to grab the attention of their prospective customers. It also means that there is an even smaller margin for error when it comes to advertising.

If that’s the case, how can you be sure that your current tactics won’t do more harm than good? By learning from others’ mistakes and not committing one of these six deadly sins of e-commerce advertising, of course.

To “set and forget” an ad

Setting and forgetting an ad is one of the biggest mistakes you can make as an advertiser. If you’ve been serving the same people the same ads for a while now, and they’re not clicking on them, you can be sure that they’re not interested in what you have to offer.

It doesn’t matter if it was your best-performing ad creative ever. Continuing down this path will not only burn a hole in your pocket, it will also probably increase the number of downloads for ad blockers.

Solution: Bump up the number of ads you’re serving. They don’t even have to be completely new concepts, they just have to be different from the creatives you currently have.

Relying solely on intuition, not facts

You can spam hundreds of ads to thousands of people till the cows come home. But if you don’t have a method of monitoring your ad performance, none of that would matter. Having a hunch that works out in the end is great, but these intangible moments have to be quantified.

No one is able to predict how well an ad performs by relying on pure intuition. This has to be backed by facts; or rather, figures. Without any data to support your claims, there is no way for you to know if what you’re doing is working or not. Not sure how to go about doing it? This cheatsheet will help.

Solution: Consistently test out multiple variations of one ad, see which one works best and go with it. If that starts to under-perform, switch it out for a new ad.

Ignoring 98% of your prospective customers

If only 2% of visitors to your website convert on their first visit, what happens to the other 98%? They browse your site for a while, maybe read a few blog posts and check out your products, but disappear into the abyss after that.

Solution: Enter retargeting. Although it sounds stalker-ish, retargeting “follows” your website’s first-time visitors with a non-intrusive cookie that tracks their online behaviour and displays ads to them on other sites within the same ad network.

Play around with your retargeting campaigns by segmenting your audience. In this situation, demographics don’t matter as much as the types of products they’re looking at on your website.

Timing is also a huge factor in the buyer decision process. The breather period before you start retargeting different audience segments will differ greatly. Another thing to keep in mind is to incorporate strong calls-to-action and enticing promotions in your ads.

Living and dying by data

Although big data rules pretty much the entire advertising world, putting everything you have into it without considering other aspects of the industry would be a serious mistake.

Yes, data gives you a bigger picture of the market and helps you target your audience more effectively. But focusing on that alone, without appealing to your audience’s emotions through creatives, will not be as effective.

Solution: Evoke your target audience’s emotions by experimenting with your ad copy, visuals and storytelling. Positive or negative, that’s up to you.

Going all in on a single hand

Instagram may be bringing in the lion’s share of your conversions through ads at the moment, so you go all in and blow your entire media budget on it. Bad idea. As corny as it sounds, putting all your eggs in one basket is not an option when it comes to e-commerce advertising, or any form of advertising for that matter.

Even if the majority of your customers are on Instagram, you’re potentially missing out on an even larger demographic if you ignore other ad platforms.

Solution: In the wise words of every other “investment guru” – diversify, diversify, diversify. Adopt an omni-channel approach to create a seamless message across multiple touchpoints like Facebook or Google.

Speaking of Google. If you’re an e-commerce business and aren’t using Google Shopping. It’s time to get started. Yes, the Google Search network and display network can work wonders for your advertising. But as an e-commerce business, you should not be ignoring what may probably be the most effective platform for e-commerce advertising.

Not improving your website’s loading speed

Your website is the backbone of your e-commerce business, without which no transactions would be possible. Whether visitors to your site convert into customers depends heavily on its loading speed.

If it takes more than a couple of seconds for a page to load, you can bet your potential customers are out of there. Even a one-second delay in your loading speed could result in a 7% loss in conversions. That’s not the worst part, though. It could even affect your Google Search ranking.

Solution: If you haven’t already, compress your website with gzip, enable caching, and get a content distribution network. There are many alternatives, of course. But these are the first things you should do.

With such stiff competition and increasingly higher stakes, are you willing to take the chance and just wing it for your e-commerce business’s advertising? Probably not, you’ve got to have a plan. And if you’re not sure how to go about doing it, a good place to start would be to avoid these six deadly sins.