How a Creative Ad Agency Can Grow Your eCommerce Business
March 4, 2020
We took a deep dive into our own creative ad agency work and that of similar marketing shops to review 2019 campaigns, strategies and their results for a handful of eCommerce clients. With the rapid advancements in technology and ongoing changes in consumer preferences, it came as no surprise that our marketing strategies have evolved, too.
Have you been questioning what it’s going to take to kickstart your eCommerce business in 2020? Well, you’re in the right place because we’ve got the answer.
2020 is going to be about more than just your standard Facebook and Instagram advertising or basic email marketing. Overwhelmingly, we’ve found that to thrive in 2020, your business will need to focus on powerful branding and strong creative that converts. You can have the best ads strategy, targeting a highly segmented audience in the right place at the right time, but find those strategies fall flat with the wrong creative.
On its surface, this can sound like common sense, but consumers are becoming more and more influenced by the content of creative they are presented with. They want to connect to a brand on a deep level that goes beyond simply liking their product. And if your creative is tapping into that messaging, look, feel and connection that your audience is craving, then that can mean huge things for your business.
Below, we’ve outlined some of the insights gleaned from our research to help you grow your eCommerce business in 2020.
STRONG CREATIVE TEAM
Before scheduling a three-hour-long brainstorming session to start throwing out ideas for new creative, you’ve got to have this one thing first — the creatives. Strong creative is the goal, but you can’t have strong creative without a strong creative team. Leave it to an experienced creative team to come up with your next hard-hitting campaign idea. Why? Because that’s exactly what they’re trained to do. From copywriters to graphics designers to videographers, these professionals are specialized in their craft and know how to make creative magic.
You might be thinking, what if I don’t have a creative team? The time and resources needed to put one together is daunting, to say the least, but a full service digital marketing agency like Evestar will have a creative team already ready to go and at your service.
While you’re not putting together the creative yourself, as a business owner or head of marketing, it helps to understand the creative process and how you can best support your creative ad agency from the start of a concept to its final execution. The following sections will walk you through that process.
We mentioned earlier how important it is to get your messaging right, and once you have a creative team in place, the next step is to understand your audience. Of course, every brand has done this when first launching their business, but this is an exercise that needs to be revisited on an annual basis at the very least. People are constantly changing and growing, and so it would only make sense that your strategies to reach them should change and grow, too.
In this stage, we need to find out about our audience’s desires as well as their pain points. How do we do this? With extensive audience research using a little tool we like to call copy mining. Take a look at the various copy mining methods we use below.
- Conduct Customer Surveys – Utilize your email list by sending a survey that asks consumers why they buy or have bought from you in the past, what they would recommend for improvement, if they have bought from any of your competitors, what they thought about the competing products, etc. Note: in order to get a good response with this, you may need to offer something in return like a percentage off on their next purchase or free shipping. To regularly receive customer insights, you’ll want to set up a post-purchase email flow in Klaviyo, Mailchimp or any other email service provider.
- Scour User-Generated Content – When it comes to getting into the heads of your audience, dedicated forums and discussion boards are a gold mine. Whether it’s a Facebook Group filled with the audience you’re after or a niche website where those people hang out and share ideas, you can learn A LOT from these conversations. The best part, they don’t know you’re looking. So what they’re sharing here is often honest and unfiltered.
- Read Reviews – Whether on your website, your Amazon listings or any other third-party seller’s page, read through the reviews of your products. When a customer has taken the time out of their busy day to sit down and write something about your product, they probably mean it. Take it one step further and read the reviews your competitors have received, too. Try to determine what they like and don’t like about competitor products.
- Comb Through Relevant Books – Type your industry into the Amazon search bar followed by “books” and just see what comes up. It will be a list of the top things your audience is interested in spending hours and hours reading about. It will be helpful to look at the topics of these books, the breakdown of chapters and what they cover as well as the reviews. This way, you’re leveraging hundreds of hours of research done by the authors while also tapping into the interests of your audience.
Put all the data gleaned from these exercises into one, cohesive spreadsheet where you can analyze the trends. Things to look for include common questions, common words and phrases, common likes/dislikes. All this copy mining research will give you insight into not only what to say, but how to say it. Speak the same language as your audience, and you’ll be surprised how well they respond to it.
In addition to reading user-generated reviews on your competitors’ sites, it pays to take a look at the creative your competitors are running.
Facebook now has an ad transparency tool that allows anyone to view the ads brands are currently running. Go check it out and save the ones you like, don’t like and are curious about in a Swipe File. Then, ask yourself a series of questions while you review your findings:
- Is there a theme in the ads?
- What stands out to me?
- What surprises me?
- What feels overdone?
- What have I done that’s similar?
- What angle am I missing out on?
- How can I set my creative apart?
Now that we have a rich bank of customer data to reference, we pull out our biggest insights and use those to start thinking of creative campaign ideas. What are the main pain points we want to tackle? What are the main product benefits we want to highlight? How can these be turned into a campaign? How many different approaches can we use?
Come up with these ideas as a team, or simply leave it to your creative ad agency, then organize the final concepts in one cohesive document.
We’ve found that the best campaigns start with a video, and the best videos can be broken down into four main concepts which we’ll take a deeper dive into below:
We’ve all seen them. They’re the Buzzfeed-style videos on our Facebook feed. Sometimes, they’re videos that quickly communicate breaking news, but more often, they’re introductions to a new trend or product. Here’s an example created by NowThis — a media company that’s great at putting these together.
You’ll notice how native and natural this type of video feels in a social environment. The way that you would introduce your brand and product before pushing a sale in real life is mimicked in an Introduction video. By positioning your brand as the hottest on the block, we can create excitement and interest using this video format that really draws your audience into the content.
Get some of your real customers, or actors posing as your real customers, to speak in front of a camera. Ask them to talk about their experience with your brand and product. What did they like about it? How did it benefit them? How did their life change after using your product? If you’re using actors, you can base their script on real customer reviews. This type of video feels very personal to your consumers. It gives your audience the opportunity to look at and hear from customers just like them, and that has a lot of power. Note that if using real customers for this, you’ll want to offer them a great free or discounted product incentive.
Put your product to the test against a similar, competing product. Showcase the ways in which yours stands out and the competitor’s falls flat. Being able to demonstrate these unique value propositions can be huge for the positive perception of your product. Because reading about a product’s benefits is one thing, but seeing them in action is another.
Don’t get How-To videos confused with those super-salesy product demonstrations at your local fair. A good How-To video won’t have a hard sell at all. They’ll simply show the product in action in an artful, clever and visually pleasing way. That in itself has major selling power as consumers respond to it and watch the video all the way through.
VIDEO AD CONVERSION TACTICS
We’ve found that some of the best conversions from video ads are thanks to a few tips and tricks we’ll share with you below.
Color – Filling your video with lots of high-contrasting colors draws the eye of your audience and helps hold their attention.
First-Shot Shock – Make your first shot something that your audience “needs-to-see.” Once the first few seconds of your video catches their attention, they’re much more likely to keep watching through to the end.
Close-Ups – Tight shots on your product help keep your audience’s attention on what matters most. If you get too far away, the intention of the video could get lost, but keeping a close-up on your product, and how it works (or in a testimonial video, your logo in the corner at all times), helps keep your brand top-of-mind.
Callout Text – Highlight words that are important, but also, be sure to include words in the first place. You need to be able to get your message across even if your audience watches the video on mute. So, by throwing in keywords and calling out the words and phrases that matter most, you help guide them through the video and its meaning.
Blending In – If your ad looks less like an ad, there’s a greater chance it will get watched. That’s why Testimonials and How-Tos work so well. Even Comparisons can blend in to look like some interested reviewer purchased both products and just wants to show you what they can do.
Low-Quality Works – Believe it or not, your audience is more likely to connect with your video if it looks user-generated. Now, we’re not saying it should be homemade and out of focus. What we are saying is that you don’t need to blow all your budget on the highest quality production. Simple production converts just as well.
While we’re on the topic of production quality, we want to mention that’s something you don’t have to tackle alone. By partnering with a full service digital marketing agency like Evestar, you get access to the means, knowledge and creatives needed for a production shoot. Instead of running with footage your brand already has, we want to excite your audience by creating new content from scratch.
From the initial campaign concepting to storyboarding to writing to shooting, we take care of it all from start to finish. Of course, before we start shooting, we also need props, actors, equipment, etc. Once we’re done shooting, we move into the post-production phase.
This is the stage where we try tons of different things and inject some of our video ad conversion tactics outlined above. Using the storyboard as our foundation, we piece together an engaging video with high-performance potential. On top of our footage, we edit it a mix of motion graphics, animations, transitions, colors and music.
Within the first seconds of the video, we’ll edit in an interesting, eye-catching shot or pull in some must-read callout text to grab our audience’s attention right off the bat. We’ll boost the color contrast to give it extra depth, adjust the speed in certain areas to keep our audience engaged, add in captions so that people watching the video on silent can still follow along, and more!
If you have any questions we didn’t answer about how to give your brand new life with fresh creative, or if you’d like to talk to us about working with our full service digital marketing agency, get in touch with us below. We’ve taken many eCommerce brands to new levels in 2019 and are already on track to the same this year.