marc jacobs

Facebook’s $5.841 billion in Q4 revenue (a 51% jump vs. Q4 of ’14) is great for Facebook, but maybe not so great for online merchants.

Even with Facebook filters designed to help you create precise retargeting lists, you still end up paying for thousands of eyeballs that won’t convert.

Before you increase your social media buys to hit the conversion target, simply think about how to get more from your ad dollars by carefully integrating your email and social efforts.

There has been chatter in recent years that social will eclipse email as the prime way to reach customers.

All the social platforms have, or are working on, buy buttons and Facebook offers online shops. The idea was to attract younger customers who are less engaged in email as a communication tool.

The marketing oracles prophesied that email would go the way of the horse and buggy – or at least be reduced in relevance to that of a paper catalog.

It’s just not happening, nor will it happen.

  • The first reason is operational: You still need an email address to open a social account and buy products online.
  • The second is strategic: Email allows you to retain a direct relationship with the customer.A big list of people who “like” you on Facebook is not the same as a list of subscribers for whom you know what (or if) they bought, when, for how much and what types of messages they actually opened.

But just as social has its drawbacks, it also provides rich opportunities to integrate the channels in your ecommerce efforts.

It is a tremendous platform for content marketing and can be an economical way to advertise. It might not always lead to last click revenue, but it will increase overall interest of your (Read more...).

So let’s look at how to synchronize your email and social activities to get the most from both platforms:

Segment and feed

Chris Pirrotta has adopted a hyper-segmentation approach to using Facebook for advertising at Sideshow where he is the Director of Ecommerce.

The company produces high-end, licensed pop culture collectibles. Pirrotta uses his email service provider’s segmentation capabilities to create very specific lists of customers to feed into Facebook.

How specific does Pirrotta get? If you buy a quarter scale replica of Thor from Marvel’s ‘The Avengers’ movie, you’ll get ads for the same size product from the other characters in the series – Iron Man, Captain America, The Hulk and more.


In a similar vein, customers who purchase bad guys from the Star Wars universe will get ads for characters aligned with the Dark Side – Darth Vader, Kylo Ren, etc.

“We didn’t find success with general ad buys on Facebook. When you can get a return of 20:1 or 30:1, why settle for 5:1?,’’ Pirrotta explains. “It’s not rocket science, but it is really, really successful.’’

Give lookalike a try

Another Facebook retargeting option is its Lookalike service. Take the list of people who bought a specific product from your site and map their attributes (age, gender, location) to Facebook fields.

Facebook will then retarget ads only to people with those specific attributes. This might give you a narrower ad list than you could build with their filters – or at least avoid advertising to people who are already loyal to your brand and might not like to see more.

There are lots of other ways to use Facebook.

Fashion retailer JOHNNY WAS is getting ready to experiment with uploading the disengaged customer list into Facebook for ads with the thought that maybe customers aren’t into opening emails, but when they see the fashions related to their most recent purchase on their Facebook feed they’ll re-engage. 

Use your fans to help bring in more subscribers

It’s not new, but it remains very, very useful: Use social to encourage existing customers to draw in new customers on social.

When those new prospects show up at your website, encourage them to join your subscriber list with an opt-in-form.

Check out this delightful Valentine’s Day email that UK-based fashion retailer Oasis sent out.

Susan Wall_Bronto_Feb. Column_Image[1]

They want customers to use #melthearts hash tag to post their Valentine’s Day date outfit, and they also call out their Facebook account, specifically encouraging their subscribers to share Oasis-branded love notes within their social network.

This approach not only sustains their current customers’ interest, but has the potential to lead new prospects to their website.

Another way to get some cross-promotion going is with an old-fashioned competition. You sell costumes? Provide a gift certificate to the scariest goblin or sparkly princess.

Instagram likes

Fashion and beauty retailers love Instagram. The visual site is perfect for engaging customers. One way to benefit is to start a campaign to allow your audience to opt in to alerts that are based on their Instagram activity.

Now, when they like a photo, you can then trigger an email with additional product details and images. This is the best time to really do the selling – allow the Instagram posts to cultivate that interest and let the email get them shopping.

Marc Jacobs Beauty pursued this type of cross-channel marketing and saw awesome results.

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Get competitive

Encourage posts to your Instagram page and provide hash tags for items related to your products. Solicit user-generated content or launch a scavenger hunt.

Select winners based on the ingenuity and creativity of their submission or on the most likes. Whatever the method, contests can be a great way to drive engagement on Instagram.

“Last year we gave away $90,000 in product, but it was worth it,’’ Pirrotta of Sideshow says. “It garnered 160,000 new subscribers and dynamic social reach.’’

Social is no longer just a brand awareness exercise. The money you spend here should drive revenue.

And why not use social as a tool to benefit the one program that gives you keen insight into your customer’s behavior – email? Working on the two together gives you so much more than working with each in isolation.

By: Susan Wall, vice president of marketing at Bronto Software.

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