The 12-step guide to using Facebook Ads for Shopify business owners

If you run a business using Shopify, there's gold in them there Facebook hills. Here's our extensive guide to discovering it...

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Having worked with several Shopify business owners to generate leads and sales using the advertising platform on Facebook, there is a distinct pattern that every ecommerce store owner can follow to get great results.

There are certain ad types that need to be set up, certain audiences you need to target and certain metrics that you must watch out for. This article reveals all those tactics and more.

I will walk you through a simple 12-step strategy that will give you the best chance of getting the best results on Facebook for your Shopify business.

1. Create your product feed

For those that don’t know what this is, a product feed is basically a list of your products (think Excel doc) which contains information like your products names, prices, sizes, stock level, stock codes etc.

Here is Facebook’s product feed specification:

Facebook Ads for Shopify 1

You can either have an .xml feed which sits on your website or you can have a manual feed (which is just a .csv file).

My suggestion would be to have a live .xml feed so this always keeps Facebook up to date about any product changes in your Shopify store.

You can use Shopify apps like Pixel Perfect or Flexify to get this setup. If I had to pick between the two my choice would be Pixel Perfect due to its flexibility and ease of use.

You need to setup a product feed so your website can talk to Facebook about which products it has in stock.

Facebook need to know this so that if a customer comes to your website and they look at the new ‘Blue T-Shirt’ you have on your site, Facebook know to then place a picture of that new ‘Blue T-Shirt’ into a re-marketing advert in the customer’s newsfeed (it’s very clever!).

2. Sort out the tracking (this is not optional!)

You won’t know what is working without this and you won’t be able to do any re-marketing if it’s not in place. Don’t set up any ads until you have your tracking in place.

Take that statement very seriously.

You can add your Facebook pixel ID into Shopify’s specified field:

Facebook Ads for Shopify 3

Or you can use Pixel Perfect’s tracking and turn off Shopify’s tracking (if you choose to use this app).

For other e-commerce platforms there would be a few more buttons to click and more detailed stuff to go into, but luckily for us Shopify and Pixel Perfect do all the technical stuff so there is no need for me to get all techie on you.

3. ABR – Always be Re-marketing

This is where we can start to get some ads up and running.

Standard website re-marketing ads. Not re-marketing ads on product pages, but re-marketing ads on other pages of the website. So if a user visits your blog, your about us page or your homepage.

Just to be clear, website re-marketing simply means I have visited your website and I then see your adverts appear in my Facebook newsfeed. You are re-marketing to me.

For this you want a nice little carousel ad (no product images), just lifestyle images introducing people to your business and getting them back into your ecosystem. (Your ecosystem being an asset that you own – get them to like your page, join your email list, visit your website etc).

You can set up timeframes on your re-marketing. Which basically means I can see your ad for X number of days after I leave your website. I would suggest 30 days for this type of standard re-marketing advert.

Your website re-marketing is a really great audience to go after in terms of growing your brand awareness and also sales.

READ MORE: An 8-step marketer’s guide to nailing Facebook ads

4. Dynamic Product Ads

These ads will give you the biggest ROI on your website traffic. These need to be in place before you drive any fresh traffic to your website.

These are like the website re-marketing ads above, however these adverts focus purely on the product pages of your website.

Let me just quickly explain a few things about DPAs. First up, points 1 and 2 above really come into play here. You need the product feed and you need the tracking pixel in place in order to run dynamic ads.

Let’s use Amazon as an example. I go on Amazon, I look at three different products, and those products subsequently appear in my newsfeed in an advert.

That advert was dynamically created for me. You get the point.

The pixel will pick up that I visited the product page on your website, it will then search the product feed for the product I looked at and place those images into an ad creative and put this advert into my Facebook newsfeed.

These will be some of your best performing sales ads. You need them in place.

Here is a template that Facebook use for Dynamic Ads. You can see the images and text get automatically swapped in (by the product feed).

Facebook Ads for Shopify 4

5. Abandon cart ads

These ads will be prominent in getting people to cross the finish line and come on-board as a customer. They simply act as a reminder for people who have left their products in the shopping basket.

Some really good tips with these ads is to have a play around with the timeframes and offer different incentives after a seven-day period.

For example, I come to your website > I add some products to the shopping cart > I leave the website > you show me a reminder ad on Facebook.

If I don’t convert in seven days, you show me another ad with 10% off (or whatever the incentive might be). I wasn’t going to purchase, but I might now.

These ads will definitely boost sales and they are a critical part of our 12-step strategy.

6. Upsell/Cross Sell ads

Let’s suppose you sell men’s shoes and I buy a pair from you. There’s a good chance I may be interested in some socks, some shoe polish or even a different style shoe.

You need to get these products in front of me to give me the option to buy them. You need to let me know you have more products available that relate to what I have purchased already.

This is where upsell/cross sell ads come in.

To get this setup, we once again will be using the product feed. We will need to arrange the products into Product Sets. Then when we set up the ads we can select that anyone who purchases from ‘Product Set 1’ should be shown products from ‘Product Set 2’.

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Easy.

Again, this will sweep up some extra sales and help you maximise the return from your Facebook ads.

READ MORE: 4 inspiring Facebook video marketing case studies

7. Engaged Audiences

Ok, so everything I have mentioned above (told you there would be a lot!) is to do with your actual Shopify website. Everything on your website – tracking pixels, products, re-marketing etc.

Now we need to look at the next best options in terms of adverts and audiences on Facebook that should be set up in order to give us the best chance of winning.

Engaged audiences is where we need to start.

Warm traffic is people who have engaged with your business in some way, but not purchased any products. They may have watched a percentage of one of your videos on Facebook, may have liked your Facebook page, engaged with a post or any of the following list:

Not all of the list above will be appropriate to you, but depending on what resources/assets you have in place you should be able to create some engaged audiences.

Ideally, we want to show ads to these people and drive them back to your website and let them know you have products for sale they may be interested in.

This will drive quality traffic to the website and then your dynamic ads, re-marketing ads and upsell/cross sell ads will pick up any relevant potential sales.

8. Traffic lookalike audience

Almost there. This is where we’re starting to get some serious ads up and running.

Now that you have your pixel on your site, we want to use that pixel to help us find more people who might be interested in your products or services.

Basically, all we do is we say to Facebook, “Please find people who look similar to the people who have visited my website”. This is called a lookalike of website traffic audience.

In the UK it’s usually about 400k in size if it’s a 1% lookalike, and about two million in size for the US.

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This website traffic lookalike audience is usually great for both high-quality traffic and conversions. My suggestion would be to create some nice carousel or slideshow ads and drive these people to your product pages to be swept up by your dynamic ads (if they don’t purchase on the spot).

9. Data lookalike audience

Take a list of your existing customers and upload these details to Facebook. Yes, the data protection side of things is fine.

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As you can see there are a number of ‘identifiers’ that you can upload to help Facebook find your customers on their platform.

With this customer data, Facebook will go out onto their platform and find people who look similar to your existing customers.

This is called a lookalike of customer database audience. It’s a goldmine, and you need to use this audience to drive high-quality traffic to your ecosystem.

READ MORE: 5 outstanding Facebook marketing case studies

10. Carousel Ad Format

This is one of the best ad formats for e-commerce business owners. A carousel ad is basically an advert that you can swipe from left to right using your thumb.

You can display a range of products for people to view in a single sitting. It means potential customers can flick through your range all in one advert.

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Depending on where someone is in the buying process will depend on what images you should use in the carousel ad. For example, if they don’t know who you are (cold traffic), don’t just show them product images. Show them some nice lifestyle images, introduce your brand and get them to visualise themselves connecting/wearing your brands products.

If they have visited a product page and are interested in potentially buying, then just show them straight-up product ads.

11. Video

Video is one of the best performing ad formats on Facebook. You will get more reach, lower CPC, better engagement and more sales if you use video.

That’s quite a statement I know. Read it again, because it’s true!

Videos don’t need to be expensive. You can create simple how-to videos if your product requires explaining, testimonial videos if your product requires social proof, or even show and tell type videos if you want to help your audience visualise themselves with your products.

Videos will have a really great impact on your business so I would suggest you take a good look at this ad type.

You can serve video ads to any of the audience types we have mentioned above. And it’s definitely worth testing the performance will all of them.

12. Reporting and Optimisation

Scaling your Facebook campaigns and really getting the best results is all done through the reporting and optimisation tools that Facebook have to offer. The power is in the data.

Here are some key metrics I think you should look out for:

  • Website purchase conversion value (this will basically tell you how much money each campaign, ad set and ad are making you – very important)
  • ROAS – What the return on ad spend is (again, super important)
  • Website purchases – the number of purchases you are getting on each campaign, ad set and ad
  • Cost per purchase – how much it is costing you to make a purchase

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Using this data, you can then review what’s working and what isn’t inside your campaigns.

This will give you great insight and will allow you to allocate your budget accordingly so you can get better results.

And there we have it!

The 12-step Facebook ads strategy for Shopify business owners. Follow this and you will have a much greater chance of getting success with your ads on Facebook.

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