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Running Paid Ads: 8 Things I’ve Learned Spending $1M+

Written by Cody

Updated: Nov 30, 2023

In recent years, I’ve spent over $1 million of my own money on paid ads for my e-commerce brand. And in that time, I’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t.

In this article, I’ll outline the 8 most important things I’ve taken away from spending over $1 million of my own money on ads. Hopefully, these insights will help you as you consider your own paid marketing efforts.

8 Tips for Running Paid Ads

1. Test a Lot of Creatives

You need to test a lot of creatives to be successful with paid ads. That’s the bottom line.

You can have the best product in the world, but if your ad doesn’t capture attention, you’re not going to make any sales. And even if your ad is good, you need to test different versions to see what works best.

There’s no magic formula for creating winning ads, but there are some things that tend to work well.

For example, creating a video ad with a good scroll stopper is essential. With attention spans becoming shorter and shorter, you need to make sure your ad is captivating from the very beginning.

Do everything from changing the first 3 seconds of the ad to changing the ad copy that you use.

Also, try out different types of ads. A few examples include:

  • Professionally produced video ads
  • User-generated content
  • Image ads (with a background)
  • Image ads (with photoshopped background)
  • Slideshows

In 2023 and beyond, constantly testing new ad creatives is everything. As detailed consumer targeting is getting more and more difficult, you need to create content that reflects what your target audience wants to see.

You should also consider your marketing angles. There are typically many different approaches you can take when marketing most product. For example, if you’re selling face moisturizing you could approach your marketing from the following angles:

  • Health: Better for your skin
  • Ego: Makes you look better
  • Price: Costs less than competitors

Once you land on something that works, try creating variations of that winning creative to see if you can improve your results even further.

2. You Need Marketing Attribution Software

In order for your paid ads to be successful, you need to have a good understanding of which ads are generating revenue. That’s why there are tools to help you track purchases to determine where sales are coming from.

Marketing attribution software solutions do just that.

These tools track web pages a user has visited, outline their customer journey, and can give you greater insight into which ad produced the sale.

This information is essential for optimizing your paid ad campaigns and ensuring that you’re getting the most bang for your buck.

Ever since iOS 14.5, ad platforms haven’t been able to accurately track conversions like they used to.

Without marketing attribution software, you’ll likely be wasting a lot of money on paid ads that aren’t yielding the results you want.

3. Test Different Platforms (Don’t Rely on Just One)

If you’re only relying on one ad platform, you could not only be missing out on a lot of potential customers but you could also be setting yourself up for disaster.

If you’re new to the world of paid advertising then you probably aren’t aware of just how many people have had problems with their Facebook ad accounts being disabled or banned. If you’re experienced in PPC advertising, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.

For those selling on marketplaces like Amazon, using Amazon’s native sponsored ads platform and PPC software will probably return the highest ROI. But, it’s worth testing other ad platforms as well.

That being said, Facebook, or any other ad platform for that matter, has the power to disable your ad account at any given moment.

This can happen whether you were in the right or wrong. Even if you didn’t break any rules it could take months to retrieve access to your ad account.

That’s why it’s important to protect yourself and not put all your eggs in one basket.

What’s more, there might be an audience on a different platform that’s even more engaged and ready to make a purchase.

Building up ad accounts on 2-3 or even more ad platforms should be the goal to minimize risk and reach a broader audience.

Apart from Meta (Facebook and Instagram) the platforms that I’ve personally seen the most success are as follows:

  • Google Ads
  • Pinterest
  • TikTok

You could also venture to advertise on YouTube, Snapchat, and Reddit.

4. Build Connections With Influencers

I know, building connections with influencers isn’t the first thing you think of when building a PPC ad campaign however, influencers can greatly help with content creation.

Influencers can help to promote your products or generate user-generated content (UGC). UGC is more likely to be shared and acted on than traditional advertising, and it can help to build trust and credibility for your brand. In fact, Photoslurp found that UGC is 5x more likely to convert than professional content.

UGC is all the rage lately and there are even dedicated services like Billo or Testimonial Hero to help you generate UGC content.

Read Next: 9 Best UGC Platforms for Brands in 2022: Try These Now

However, the best type of UGC content, in my opinion, comes from influencers who can be your brand ambassadors. Offering exclusive discounts, commissions, and sneak peeks to your ambassadors helps incentivize them to create content for your brand.

Work out a deal to have them not only share that content with their following but also provide you with the right to use it in your paid ads.

I tend to find that UGC works better for retargeting but have also had success in using it for cold (top of funnel) campaigns as well.

To find ambassadors, simply send a short DM or see if their email address is shown in their bio. Once you’ve found someone who is a good fit for your brand, start building a relationship with them.

Not only is this a cost-efficient way of generating content but you’ll have access to a creator who can create content for you time and time again.

5. Prioritize Retargeting

If you’re not already using retargeting as part of your paid advertising strategy, you’re missing out on a key opportunity to increase your ROI.

Retargeting allows you to show ads to people who have already shown an interest in your product or service, which means they’re more likely to convert.

There are a few different ways to retarget your audience. Two of the ones I prefer to use include:

  • Google AdWords’ remarketing
  • Meta’s custom audience retargeting

Whichever method or combination of methods you choose, try to budget for 20-25% of your total ad spend on retargeting.

And don’t forget to keep your ad copy and ad creatives fresh so that people don’t get sick of seeing the same thing over and over again.

If you do it right, retargeting will likely be your highest ROI campaign.

6. Generate Enticing Ad Copy

The importance of ad copy really depends on the niche you’re in and the product/service you’re selling. From what I’ve seen, products or services that are higher ticket require long-form copy.

Whereas products and services on the cheaper side don’t typically require as much explanation and can get away with short-form copy.

There are a few things to keep in mind when creating ad copy.

  • First, focus on creating a strong headline that will grab attention and make people want to learn more. Your headline should be clear and direct, and it should give people a reason to click through to your ad.
  • Second, make sure your ad copy is relevant to your target audience. Your audience should be able to see at a glance that your ad is relevant to their needs or interests.
  • Third, keep your sentences short and to the point. There’s no room for fluff in your ad copy. Don’t clump together large paragraphs that are going to be difficult to read for your potential buyers.
  • Fourth, use strong calls to action that encourage people to take the next step. I like to A/B test “Shop Now” with something else like “Learn More”. These typically perform the best however there’s never one size fits all in PPC advertising.

If you’re having trouble coming up with ad copy that turns visitors into buyers consider working with me.

7. Ensure Your Site Is Optimized for Conversions

If you want to be successful with paid ads, you need to make sure your site is optimized for conversions.

There are a few key things you can do to make sure your site is conversion-friendly:

  • Use compelling images and videos – People are visual creatures and ensuring that your images and video are clear, high quality, and relevant will help to draw them in and keep their attention.
  • Make sure your headline is clear and concise – Your headline should grab attention and explain what the offer on your landing page is.
  • Use social proof – elements like testimonials and customer reviews to build trust and show that others have had success with your offer. Check out this list of best Shopify review apps.
  • Use a high-quality theme – A high-quality, modern theme will help to ensure that your landing page looks professional and trustworthy. I’ve written about the best Shopify themes here.
  • Implement an abandoned cart email sequence – Email sequences are a whole other beast apart from PPC ads and they can definitely help your ad dollars go further. However, besides just monitoring your revenue and sales numbers, you’ll also need to keep an eye on key email deliverability metrics to ensure your emails aren’t going to the spam or junk folder.

These are just a few suggestions, however, there are many other ways to reduce shopping cart abandonment and improve your conversion rates.

8. Engage With Your Customers in the Comments (Have a Brand Personality)

By having a brand personality, you create an emotional connection with your customers that goes beyond simple product promotion. Instead, you build trust and loyalty that can lead to long-term customer relationships.

And, as we all know, happy customers are more likely to buy from you again and recommend you to their friends.

So how can you make sure you’re engaging with your customers in the comments? First, make sure you’re monitoring the comments on your paid ads.

Check these on a daily basis and take the time to respond to each question or comment. Even a simple “Thanks for sharing!” helps let the commenter know that there’s a person behind the brand.

Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through in the comments or even on your social media presence in general. Be friendly, helpful, and add some humor in there.

Just take Triple Whale’s Twitter page for instance:

Image Source

Replying to a comment with a meme is a great way to build brand personality with minimal effort. You’ll likely start getting reactions and more comments on your replies which helps generate engagement and boost your ad reach even more.

Final Thoughts

Getting paid ads right takes time, patience, and a lot of testing. During these uncertain times of high inflation, rising ad costs, and lack of conversion attribution it can sometimes feel like your paid advertising efforts are futile.

However, if you know you’ve got a good product and have the determination to implement the suggestions I’ve listed in this article, your PPC campaigns will eventually pay off.

It’s just a matter of time.

About Cody
I teach others how to start and run online businesses. From scaling a 7-figure e-commerce brand to ranking #1 on Google for various keywords, I can help you do the same.

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