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During this 3Q Accelerate Week, we are focusing on driving growth for retail and eCommerce companies and exploring challenges/tactics unique to them in the digital world.

We’re starting this week at the top of the funnel: introducing your products to new users.

Generating demand, for retail clients, isn’t just about the audiences you’re going after – though if you have questions there, you should check out the first phase in our eCommerce Accelerator. Beyond audiences, today we’re focusing on how to create a user experience that’s truly centered around your products, in order to stand out from the competition.

First thing to consider is ad units. How do you want these users to interact with your brand for the first time? The standard static unit or carousel units are by no means dead, but they’re more limited in their ability to truly catch someone’s eye during the discovery phase. Have you tried every available option? Facebook options include:

  • Collections ads: No longer a new ad format, but these ads have recently become eligible for the Instagram feed as well! If you’re targeting millennials or the upper-edge of Gen Z-ers, this is a game-changer. Combine a video asset or your most aspirational lifestyle shots with a catalog of products to help users discover and shop simultaneously.
  • Lead ads: These are not just for B2B. If you’re a retailer with significant seasonality, these can be a great tool to engage with new users in the off-season, even if they’re unlikely to purchase at the current time of year. Make your offer enticing with a promise of a discount, exclusive offers, or highly relevant content. But most important: when integrating these emails into your CRM or marketing automation tool, you need a process in place for clearly attributing the source, so you can understand your ROI once the season hits.
  • Offer ads: Don’t forget, if you offer promotions regularly to new customers, an offer ad can be valuable because users who “save” it automatically get a reminder notification before it expires.

Takeaway: test it all!

Instagram Collections ads

Next, tailor your ad content to your target personas. Ask yourself if your creative and messaging explain the value of your offering to this particular person’s lifestyle. If you’re following the recommendations in the eCommerce Accelerator, you’re already segmenting your target audiences by highly distinct personas (and this should be plural! No successful brand applies to only one type of use case.) But even once you’ve segmented your Lookalike seed lists or interest/behavior targets by different attributes, make sure that the value props, creative, CTAs, and tone of your ads matches to that audience exactly. When going up against big competitors, they may have more budgets for photoshoots, videos, and big-name models, but a tailored experience will drive more engagement any day. If you’re not sure yet how to connect with your audience, your testing should be based around high-impact changes. Don’t just try a few CTAs and call it a day – what product categories are you highlighting? Does user-generated content outperform brand-made lifestyle content? Are you staying ahead of the season, giving people time to shop, or not launching your fall content until we’re knee-deep in October?

Takeaway: tailor your ads around your audience.

Last, consider your post-click experience. For users still discovering what your brand is, you need a strong landing destination that showcases your brand in all its breadth and value. For brands with one core product, or a small handful, this is your opportunity to really educate the potential customer about your game-changing offering. Does the content anticipate any questions they have about how the product works, or how/when/where they’d use it? Even if your product isn’t a new “type” (say, clothing and accessories, rather than a new piece of tech), you want to show off the breadth of your collections and categories, and how your products look out in the real world, fitting into your audience’s lifestyle. Are you sending users to these types of pages, or just one product page (often too narrow), or the home page (often too broad)?

Takeaway: test pages that anticipate users’ questions and show off everything you’re bringing to the table.
Trying to stand out against competitors and the other “noise” of user’s feeds will always be a bit of a moving target – more units will always become available, seasons will change, a new product launch might alter/expand your target personas, etc. But your approach should be guided by testing every available option and tailoring the experience around your brand’s value props.