Using Facebook ads for Etsy shop
May 31, 2016 3:12 PM   Subscribe

I recently opened an Etsy shop for my art. On the advice of a handful of folks, I started using Facebook ads to promote it. Now I have a big bill, and the ads did not yield a single sale. Am I doing it wrong or are FB ads just really ineffective for this? More inside.

I read a lot of articles and asked here about promoting my shop, and FB ads came up a few times. I read an article about how even sellers on a budget can use them to great effect, so I started. I will say that I had not done anything like an online ad campaign before and was totally out of my element. I saw increased traffic to my shop, but no sales. I am allowing, of course, for the possibility that my merch is not that great, but I don't think that's the whole problem here.

I did pay attention to metrics and narrow my target audience accordingly (to women 27-34 who were interested in art). I played around a bit with the specifics--can't recall everything I did--and also changed the appearance of my ad to include more photos. I started with a budget on the low end of $5 to $10 a day, but it seemed my ads got turned off very quickly because the budget had already been used up. (I will freely admit that I understand very little about how that works, and I didn't find FB ad support to be helpful at all.)

Despite whatever I tried, including resetting my spending limit on a number of days, I didn't get a single sale that was motivated by a FB ad. It's not too surprising given ad blockers and such, but I'd hope for ONE sale from an effective ad platform. I turned off the ads. Now I owe FB $280 for a month of ads that did nothing. I get that I don't know anything about these ads and could've done more research on the front end. If that's what I have to pay to learn that lesson, I'll suck it up. But I do wonder if the problem is more on my end or theirs.

If there's a way for these ads to be useful and affordable, I'm certainly willing to try again. If anyone has tips on that, please do share that, or any experience you've had using FB ads.

On a related note, I haven't been able to find a way to contact support directly for FB ads. Does anybody know of one?
posted by mermaidcafe to Work & Money (5 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Before you were using Facebook ads, what was the typical ratio of traffic to your store vs. actual sales?

The ads were certainly "working" in the sense that people saw them and were able to use them to get to your store; the question is were those people who arrived at your store more likely, less likely, or about as likely to make a purchase as the traffic you were getting before Facebook. If you would usually have, say, 1000 visits per week and one purchase and the Facebook ads resulted in an increase of fewer than 1000 per week, then it's really not possible to judge their efficacy, except to say that they didn't magically tap into a very spendy group of people.

Conversely, if you had 10,000 new visits per week based on the Facebook ads and no associated purchases, then you might conclude that the people who were targeted through FB ads and then clicked through on your ad were far less likely to actually purchase than your normal clientbase. If that's the case, then you would want to consider modifying your targeting, perhaps changing your creative and/or creating an incentive (e.g. a FB only promo code), or shifting your ad spend toward other sources.
posted by telegraph at 3:57 PM on May 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

...kinda sidestepping the question, but have you tried simply using FB to sell them locally? Particularly as you are not asking big-time prices. There are a lot of little crafters, artisans, hobbyists where I live who periodically post their pieces on FB buy-and-sell groups. Most of them seem to do extremely well; they often sell out and get a lot of "Do you do custom work?" inquiries. Fee-free, no hassles of packaging stuff up for shipping, and repeat customers are not unlikely. You would likely do VERY well in the lead up to Xmas.

(The only thing giving me pause about the FB ads -- other than, who clicks on ads? I have two ad blockers installed and would never click on an internet ad -- if you wouldn't, well, neither do your customers; internet advertising is more suited, I think, to marketing junk to rubes. Click here for this one amazing trick to never see a dentist again, etc -- is...ages 27-34? Seems oddly narrow? Also, I think of paid ads as something suitable for big Etsy shops, not the hobby sort. The return, as you've noticed, doesn't seem to be great for small shops.)
posted by kmennie at 4:01 PM on May 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you saw a significant bump in traffic, a lot of digital marketing people would consider that a "success", even though it didn't meet your expectations.
From the targeting you describe (which is still pretty broad), it sounds like it ended up being more of an awareness tactic than a conversion one. For what it's worth, if conversion is the goal a custom landing page and special offer is helpful to drive more sales. And narrow the targeting as much as possible (ie, if you have a FB page that people can like, focusing on their friends).
posted by dotparker at 4:56 PM on May 31, 2016

Best answer: I've run lots of Facebook ads for various companies, and I have an Etsy shop. Facebook ads suck for conversions - that is anything outside of Facebook. They can be great for reach, likes, events, and growing your page likes. They could maybe be good for articles which you then get ad revenue from...(Which don't even get me started on how you have to pay for something now that used to be organic...)

But yes, Facebook ads are shit for anything that leaves Facebook.

Put your money toward Promoted Listings on Etsy if you're going to put it anywhere to drive sales.
posted by Crystalinne at 4:59 PM on May 31, 2016 [4 favorites]

I feel you. Art is just hard to sell online. With Etsy now flooded with shops, it's even harder because you can't count on people finding your work thanks to the algorithms they use to display hits and the sheer number of items on there. The main traffic you will see has to be driven by a non-Etsy site, but unfortunately, Facebook isn't what it used to be for this either.

Your best best is to set up a website and blog, a tumblr, a Pinterest, and an Instagram that you can update frequently with (good) photos of your work. Make videos showing you doing the painting and post them on Youtube (search 'speedpaint' or 'paint and chat' on Youtube for examples). Do art challenges along with popular Youtube artists and use the hashtag so their fans will see your work too. Livestream your painting process on Twitch. Make how-to videos. Use Twitter to let people know about a new video or piece up for sale. Engage with the online arts community as much as possible and build a following from that.

These days you can't just be an artist :( You have to be a photographer, a videographer and editor, an online personality, a social media brand, and a marketer as well if you want any hope of success.
posted by ananci at 5:48 PM on May 31, 2016 [6 favorites]

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