“Facebook Advertising has become vital to our business,” said Randall Evenson, the paid search, paid social, and SEO manager at online medical apparel and equipment retailer AllHeart. “We realized you need the right balance of top-of-the-funnel, mid-funnel, and bottom-of-the-funnel marketing for sustained growth, and Facebook can play a role in all three.”
As a Sidecar customer, Randall spoke with us on a recent episode of Retail Uncharted about the integral role Facebook has played in growing AllHeart’s reach, engaging new customers, and spurring sales on Facebook as well as Google, Bing, and YouTube.
It’s no surprise Facebook has become a critical growth engine for retailers like AllHeart. With 1.8 billion daily active users and targeting capabilities that surpass many marketing platforms, Facebook is uniquely situated to prospect new customers and retarget those shoppers throughout their shopping journey. Plus, as retail marketing competition has increased, finding ways to fill the top of the funnel has become more critical, said Randall.
“We realized that if we didn’t reach more people at the beginning of their search for our product, we were giving that sale away to our competitors. We had to be top-of-funnel and Facebook was a huge part of that strategy.”
Randall outlined his team’s Facebook Advertising strategy in a candid conversation with Sidecar’s Mike Perekupka and Mike Farrell. He discussed some of the biggest opportunities and challenges AllHeart faced on the platform and detailed how the pandemic has impacted his company’s approach.
During the podcast we asked Randall:
- What are AllHeart’s goals on Facebook?
- How does Facebook support other marketing channels that AllHeart advertises on?
- When you first started advertising on Facebook, what were some key lessons that you and your team learned?
- How did the pandemic impact AllHeart and how did you adjust your marketing strategy as a result?
- How were you able to maintain growth after the initial pandemic shopping surge?
- How do you approach attribution when it comes to Facebook Advertising and other paid marketing channels?
Top Sound Bites
Why did AllHeart start advertising on Facebook? What was your goal?
Randall Evenson: What we really like about Facebook is the detailed targeting that we can do, which is more expansive than any channel, and also that we can target the full gamut of the funnel. Facebook is very important for our top-of-funnel prospecting efforts, but it also is extremely important in our bottom-of-the-funnel and mid-funnel marketing to make sure we’re showing our products at every touchpoint of the customer journey.
Did you face any challenges when you first started advertising on Facebook?
Randall Evenson: Learning the channel I think was the most difficult part, as well as sustaining growth. We were pitched by our existing paid search agency to try Facebook. We tried it with them, and did okay. We knew we could do better. Several sister companies that our parent company owned had been more successful on Facebook than we were.
We decided to recoup, revamp, and we went with a different agency, and they definitely stepped it up. But again, we plateaued fairly quickly and we weren’t satisfied with that.
We took it back in house, decided to do a deep dive, learn a lot more about how it works, and really began to run it. But we realized, again, even though we have a fairly hefty marketing department, we just didn’t have the staff and expertise internally. We went out looking, and we’ve been talking to Sidecar for several years. They made very impressive audits of our accounts. We decided to go with you, and I can say, we are very happy with it.
What are some of the key benefits to advertising on Facebook for retailers?
Mike Farrell: The reach is a big benefit. There are a lot of eyes out there to put your marketing in front of, and no matter what your business is, there is a cohort out there on Facebook for you. Besides the reach, Facebook is still growing. Its users grew 12% year-over-year. All of that feeds opportunity.
I would also echo what Randall said earlier about targeting. The targeting capabilities within the platform to really slice and dice a wide range of users into smaller cohorts is very valuable, particularly when I think about Sidecar’s clients. Our customers run the gamut between small businesses to large enterprise retailers, and each one of those businesses has different challenges, one of them being budget. Those smaller retailers that don’t have massive marketing budgets need to make every dollar count, and when you think about that, it really comes down to targeting and focusing on the highest value customers with the highest buying intent. Facebook’s platform provides that level of targeting to achieve that.
What are some of the biggest challenges retailers face when advertising on Facebook?
Mike Farrell: I think attribution is a big challenge. Attribution is always a daunting topic, particularly in our industry. Nobody has figured out the best way to take attribution and apply it. You’re basically asking a leadership team to change the data they look at to manage the business, and that is a pretty big shift. There needs to be a compelling reason to do it. I think because the attribution problem hasn’t really been solved, and retailers aren’t adopting it at scale, it presents a challenge when people just look at the data from a Facebook platform to try to understand if their advertising dollars are working.
The second thing is the idea around privacy. There has been an uptick in privacy updates that aren’t just impacting Facebook but also Google and other platforms. With the move toward greater online privacy for shoppers, it’s hard to tell what kind of impact that will have on our ability as marketers to do that advanced targeting and really stretch our budgets.
How is Facebook Advertising impacting growth on other marketing channels?
Randall Evenson: We did an experiment this past February to understand how much impact paid social has on our overall marketing strategy. We pulled back paid social spend, and we saw our sales take a dip even though we were spending the same amount on paid search. We still saw an increase in sales, but we didn’t see the same type of growth as we did last year. So we are reversing course. We are going to boost top-of-funnel spend on Facebook because it’s become vital to our growth.
Why is attribution such an important part of measuring success on Facebook?
Mike Farrell: I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve been in with customers who are frustrated because they’re just not growing but they haven’t really changed the way that they think about advertising. They’re always trying to hammer home at that bottom-of-the-funnel marketing which has historically given the best returns but is also becoming the most competitive and costly space to advertise in. As a result, they’re not filling the top of the funnel anymore with new users.
Attribution models like last click, that only value bottom-of-the-funnel activities, lead businesses to undervalue other channels in the purchase path and chronically underfund them. What you need to be thinking about when you’re a retailer is, “For every dollar I invest in Facebook, I might only get $2 in return. And when I looked down at the bottom of the funnel, Google Shopping is giving me $5 in return.” That level of return in Google Shopping is going to cap out unless you’re filling that funnel with new users.