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E-commerce advertising strategy: how we doubled sales with PPC for ThinSlim foods (with a 3X + ROAS)

ThinSlim Foods is a low-carb product brand that is doing quite well.

In fact, they have grown by 100-150% every year for the past seven years.

When Single Grain started working with them, Thin Slim was a healthy account with around $70K-$80K per month across all accounts on paid ad spend.

And although they were getting a good ROAS, there was a problem…

TSF told us:

We need a better strategy to scale conversions while maintaining healthy ROAS.

TSF was unable to scale paid search and social performance to achieve more conversion volume while maintaining a 3x ROAS performance target.

We were able to increase spend by 2.5 times and scale sales by 1.7 times while maintaining our 3X ROAS performance target.

TSF: Google ad spend

TSF: Google ad spend

TSF - FB adspend

TSF - FB adspend

In this post, I'll show you the biggest strategic changes that have doubled conversions, so you can use them for your brand.

And, if you want a custom strategy for your store, be sure to…

Book your free e-commerce growth consultation


The 9 strategies that doubled the conversion volume of an 8-digit store (with 3X + ROAS)

This is our case study on how we doubled the conversion volume of this ecommerce client from Facebook and Google Ads while increasing ROAS.

If a company is a small business, a market or a medium-sized enterprise, there is a reason why it has such a particular size: they have not yet learned to do something. Internally we have a view of the three stages of each given account and what each one didn't learn to do to grow: SG-3-stages-of-a-account

SG-3-stages-of-a-accountThinSlim was in phase 2: they had found ways to sell profitably and were ready to grow – so our job was to figure out how to rebuild their account structure to scale.

Here's how we did it.

Strategy No. 1: We've rebuilt the Google Account structure to capture more non-brand search requests

Our ad campaign template has four categories of terms: brand core, brand pillars, brand attributes, and long tail:Copy of the SG mature SEM campaign superstructure

Copy of the SG mature SEM campaign superstructure The first thing we did was prioritize where the budgets go for all four of these buckets.

For a limited budget, we won't even make pillars, attributes, or long tail.We're just going to do cores.All we are doing is identifying the most relevant high-converting areas and allocating our spending to those areas first.

TSF only used Google search to promote its trademark terms.This means that every term they were bidding on contained "ThinSlim Foods" in front or another branded product they had.The problem was that it limited the amount of conversion volume they were able to achieve.

To get more conversions for the customer, we first looked at their Google Account.Once we were able to implement our superstructure approach into the account, we were able to increase ad spend by 10x while maintaining the ROAS objective.

SG Google Adspend

SG Google Adspend

Now we're getting them the volume they want.You can even see the conversion volume.

They had 1,600 conversions at $2.5K.We now have 3,100 conversions at $20.4K:Google Conversions SG

Google Conversions SG Since TSF was only capturing 40% of the impression share for search terms, that meant its ads were only showing 40% of the time people searched for their keywords.

To solve this problem, we switched them to a target CPA conversion model, which allows them to automatically increase and decrease bids based on the likelihood that an individual will be able to convert. This increased the percentage of customer impressions from 40% to 95%.

Takeaway:  Try using Target CPA bidding, a smart Google Ads bid strategy that sets bids to get as many conversions as possible below or below your target CPA.

Book your free e-commerce growth consultation


Strategy No. 2: Exaggerated messaging to align with the company's brand archetype instead of a generic tone

ThinSlim Foods used a generic tone in their ads with smiley faces on the pictures and said, essentially, "Hey, we're the number one company in the bread industry."

It could be, but your customer doesn't really care.In this case, they worry about losing weight or that the food tastes good or the quality of the products.They also want social proof so they can see that other people "just like me" are also using the product.

So we honed the archetype of the brand "The Innocent" because this personality values and conveys simplicity, healthiness and honesty: TSF - Facebook Messaging

TSF - Facebook MessagingWe have improved messaging and modified smiley ads with beautiful  photos of food products.

Here's an old ad:Screen Shot 2020 05 26 at 9.36.06

Screen Shot 2020 05 26 at 9.36.06 And here's a new one:Screen Shot 2020 05 29 at 12.16.50 PMScreen Shot 2020 05 29 at 12.16.50 PM We've also added some powerful customer testimonials.

For example: a testimonial from a woman via Instagram saying how much she loved the product or how she was able to save a lot of points on her Weight Watchers thanks to the product.Or this one below, where the client is excited about how TSF promotes "a diet done right!"

Screen Shot 2020 05 29 at 12:20:42 PM

Screen Shot 2020 05 29 at 12:20:42 PM

Takeaway: When it comes to messaging your ads, it needs to speak directly to the customer and not about your brand.If they are interested in weight loss, include it in the copy of the ad.And add high-quality product images that really excited the prospect.

Dive Deeper:* Keyword targeting versus SEO keywords: What should you focus on?

* How a Brand Person Plays Into an Effective ROI* The Ultimate Guide to Buyer People Development (With Templates!)

Strategy No. 3: Budget allocation for the most relevant audience

In the case of TSF, it was not necessary to limit the age range of their audience.We saw that they were duplicating a set of ads multiple times but simply changing the demographic age by one point – so it was essentially the same audience, but from 23 to 24.

We also saw that it was not necessary to exclude men, since they represent 25% of their audience.It is obvious that women convert well, but there has been a missed opportunity to pursue men, if done appropriately.

TSF - Facebook Demographics

TSF - Facebook Demographics

This strategy is used to exploit an audience that is already working without saturating it too much.

For example, let's say you have 25 campaigns that all spend $20 each versus putting those same 25 campaigns in a campaign and spending $800.Now in the $800 campaign, CPCs could get really high because you're asking for a lot of reach in just one audience.If you keep it spread across multiple campaigns, you can get the same level of reach at a much cheaper price.

Screen Shot 2020 05 26 at 9:45:34 AM

Screen Shot 2020 05 26 at 9:45:34 AM

You can see that the age range is quite wide.Why won't you benefit?

TSF - Facebook age

TSF - Facebook age

Takeaway: Have you overlooked other demographics?Try branching out into different age or gender groups, but make sure your messages speak to that audience.

Strategy No. 4: Retargeting open to ALL products

When it came to retargeting, although the account contained retargeting audiences, there were only two, and they were built inefficiently.Bread and pasta were the only products to be retargeted, so we opened up targeting to ALL products.

So if someone saw the ad and didn't convert, they saw a message saying, "Hey, we noticed you didn't convert.Please come back to us.Here is our offer of sample packages", discounted by 25%.

Takeaway: Have you tested visitor retargeting on ALL your products?If not, start a new campaign to double-check.You can often increase ROAS by retargeting all products, not just the top winners.

Dive Deeper:* How to easily set up a high-converting Facebook retargeting campaign* Retargeting 101: Why it's essential for any marketing funnel* How to get 1,000 true fans with Facebook video retargeting

Strategy No. 5: Started with "Dark Posts" among Facebook ad sets to leverage social proof (and increase CTRs)

Facebook has a feature called dark post   (the name was actually changed to "unpublished page posts," but most marketers still use the old name), which essentially allows you to have the same ad in every campaign.

This means that all your ads share the same likes, comments, and shares.

But if you don't show ads in a dark post format, each campaign or ad group literally has a different ad.Therefore, if someone likes it in an ad group, that type doesn't appear in the next ad group.

Depending on how much money you're spending and your demographic, that social proof will make you look better.

It could be the difference between someone saying, "I've never heard of this brand before" and "Oh, this has to be a good product because they're getting a lot of comments and attention."

Takeaway: On Facebook, use dark posts to leverage your social evidence (likes, comments, and shares) across ad sets.This will increase your CTRs, reduce CPCs, and ultimately encourage more people to click and buy.

Book your free e-commerce growth consultation


Strategy No. 6: Dynamic leveraged product ads

In addition, TSF did not use smart tools or new features within Facebook or Google that can be more beneficial when trying to scale and do things at a more efficient level.

Facebook has its own version of commerce campaigns called Dynamic Product Ads, which automatically promotes your inventory to people who have expressed interest in your brand or product. 

Since we started implementing dynamic product ads, we've seen a 200% increase in conversion volume while maintaining our ROAS goal.

TSF's Facebook has an incredible ROAS and never seen before in the customer's account: the goal was 2.5 – we are at 5.3.

Ad spend in December was $82,000 and now (5 months later) it's $71,000:SG Facebook performance

SG Facebook performance Takeaway: Become more efficient by using the latest features on these platforms, which is especially useful when you're looking to scale.

On Facebook, use

dynamic product ads to put your products ahead of people based on their interests, not just if they've visited your website.

Strategy 7: Start with display ads

When we detected the customer's Google Ads account, one of the first things we noticed was that they weren't doing very well with display ads.The biggest red flag was that 42% of their budget went to mobile app placements, known for not being ported well.

After making sure to undo all irrelevant placements, we launched a pay-per-conversion display campaign that quickly reached a ROAS 2.2 and has steadily increased conversion volume since its launch.

Screen Shot 2020 06 05 at 9:53:23 AM

Screen Shot 2020 06 05 at 9:53:23 AMScreen Shot 2020 06 05 at 9:53:13Screen Shot 2020 06 05 at 9:53:13Screen Shot 2020 06 05 at 9:53:07 AMScreen Shot 2020 06 05 at 9:53:07 AM

Takeaway: Display ads done correctly – can be a great channel to use for ecommerce stores looking to scale conversions with cheap CPCs.

As long as you control where your ads appear and take advantage of new features like "pay per conversion," most brands can perform well with display ads.

Dive Deeper:* 5 Facebook Ad Trends You Can't Ignore in 2020* 6 Google Ad Trends You Can't Ignore in 2020* 7 Easy Ways to Optimize Your Facebook Ads

Strategy 8: Start with Dynamic Search Ads

Instead of limiting ourselves to brand terms, which we were already maximizing in terms of impression share, we were able to choose non-branded terms as well.We used a new Google feature called Dynamic Search   Ads and also some of their target ROAS conversion optimization goals to make non-branded keyword research more efficient and productive.

Before, we would have had to do it manually, which makes it very difficult to control CPCs.You have to pay very, very careful and you have to do a lot of negative keyword targeting.Essentially, you might not even get the volume we were getting because we're reacting to historical data.

With Smart campaigns, we are able to bid in real time and not only bid on historical data trends, but also bid on predicted future forecasts using those algorithms.

So, just that more robust level of targeting and bidding optimization, and also a bit of change in the structure and way we were getting these non-branded keywords, allowed us to reach that additional scale.

Screen Shot 2020 06 05 at 10.07.10

Screen Shot 2020 06 05 at 10.07.10

Takeaway: For some businesses that are having trouble getting conversions that don't contain their brand terms, using Dynamic Search Ads can be a great option.Not only are you able to allow the algorithm to generate keywords and queries that are relevant to your business, but you can also have it optimized to reach your performance goal without having to manually manage every single aspect of your campaign.

Strategy No. 9: Implement Diligent A/B Testing in Paid Research Titles 

TSF wasn't doing many split tests with its ads.In most campaigns there weren't just one or two rotating ads, but there were very insignificant differences between the ads.

For example, many ads had the same titles, but the positions were changed.We also noticed misuse of exclamation marks, weak headlines, and no responsive search advertising.

After taking action on those missed opportunities, we implemented a testing framework that would allow us to regularly understand if people were resonating with the copy promoting certain aspects of the product – and then build more in that direction.

Screen Shot 2020 06 05 at 10.17.17

Screen Shot 2020 06 05 at 10.17.17Screen Shot 2020 06 05 at 10:16:39 AMScreen Shot 2020 06 05 at 10:16:39 AMScreen Shot 2020 06 05 at 10.16.06 AMScreen Shot 2020 06 05 at 10.16.06 AM

Takeaway: Don't just guess what works or doesn't work with your ads.Split testing, which should be a key part of any ecommerce paid search account, will help you methodically improve the copy, image, and CTA of your ads, making it easier for more people to convert.

Dive Deeper:
* What is A/B SEO testing?
* How to run A/B tests that actually increase conversions* How to decide which SEO tests to run

With the right strategy, you can scale conversion volume while maintaining healthy ROAS

ThinSlim Foods is easily one of our best performing customers in COVID-19.

Using these nine strategies, we were able to double ThinSlim Foods' conversion volume from Facebook and Google Ads while increasing ROAS.Here, again, are the specific results:

  • Increase Google Search conversion volume by 2.5x
  • 2.5X increase in Google Shopping conversion volume
  • You've achieved the first Google Display campaigns ever profitable in your account history
  • You've achieved the first ever profitable Google Discovery campaigns in your account history
  • Facebook conversion volume increased by 2.5x

Our methodology is not about fanciful tactics.

It is more that we are able to adapt to the strengths of each customer, use the new features within the platforms and competently perform essential data analysis.

You have to be adaptable and you need a good system to be able to adapt to that level – and we have it.

After working with TSF for about a year, here's what they had to say about what they can do now because of our commitment they weren't able to do before: 

The simplest thing is to indicate a strong increase in sales across all the different business silos, which was largely driven by ad spend.What struck me was the fact that spending continued to increase while hitting most ROI targets.

Our main contact then added:

It was meetings with both the Facebook team and the Google [che] team that showed that you guys were deeply connected with their marketing teams, both in terms of being at the forefront of new programs and working with them directly to improve campaigns.