With 1.86 billion monthly active users on Facebook, retailers are quickly learning that they need to be speaking to and interacting with their customers where they consume media. Facebook display ads are a great way to engage customers and acquire new ones, but it can be difficult to do this in an efficient way. Learn how RightStufAnime.com, the largest distributor and e-retailer of anime specific products, used product, purchase, and customer data to create two product cross-sell campaigns and saw a 13x ROI from one of the ads and made $13k in 10 days, while spending less than $100 on the other. We’ll also walk you through some best practices, tips, and tricks for creating your Facebook display ads today.

At our International Ecommerce Day May 2017 event, we had the great pleasure to welcome Polly Flinch as one of our speakers. She shared super useful insights about how to create predictive Facebook display ads from her experience as Director of Marketing at Windsor Circle, a predictive marketing platform that helps retailers to grow customer lifetime value through omnichannel predictive marketing.

Windsor Circle works with over 300 plus CPG and retail clients and they have 37million plus consumer records. Their clients usually see a +20% lift in revenue after working with them.

In this post you’ll learn about:

  • the state of advertising on Facebook
  • creating effective and efficient display ads
  • how RightStuffAnime.com used FB ads with a 144X ROI

The State of Advertising on Facebook

There are 1.86billion monthly active users on Facebook worldwide, and that is actually a 70% growth year over a year. So while we’re seeing some social media sites facing a downturn or not getting as many subscribers and users, Facebook does not seem to have that problem.

Also, it’s important that Instagram is a part of Facebook so that’s kind of bundled into this number, but it’s one of the fastest-growing social media sites that’s continued to grow.

There are 2 million businesses advertising accounts on Facebook and one in five page views in the United States occurs on Facebook.

So we’ve seen a 26.3% global increase in spending on social media, a 59% increase in ad revenue for Facebook from these ad campaigns that businesses are running. Additionally to that, there has been a $595 million mobile ad revenue which has been through Instagram.

So summing up what all of this is saying, is that having a social display strategy is key to staying competitive. It’s not enough just to have sort of your organic Facebook page and bring people to like it. You really need to be actively finding people to engage with whether that’s your best customers or whether it’s acquiring new ones and finding a way to do this in an efficient and focused manner and cost-effective as well.

Creating effective and efficient Facebook display ads

This process can get pretty overwhelming so let’s take it step by step.

The first step is really identifying your low-hanging fruit by looking at your key segments and campaigns. If you are already running lifecycle marketing campaigns like a best customer campaign or a win back campaign for churn customers or even cart recovery campaigns, you have access to this data. How can you then utilize that data in your social display ads? Maybe you can surface key products to best customers to get them to buy something new or you invite them to a VIP event that’s in your in-store location near them because you have geographical data.

So you need to think about what segments to play with and then even on that end, not even just targeting your best customers but maybe you create a lookalike campaign off of a subset of your clients as well. So you find people who look like your best customers and get them into your acquisition funnel.

Same thing you can do with your campaigns. If there are certain campaigns you’re currently running on email that are doing really well, think about how you can then kind of hit it with a one-two punch of creating a Facebook ad to go along with that campaign. 

When they’re running simultaneously, you’re creating that echo chamber effect to get in front of these customers to remind them of you, remind them you’re part of their life and get them to come back and purchase again because that’s ultimately the whole goal of all of this.

Tips & tricks for creating efficient display ads

The main takeaway from a recent study done by AdEspresso on the current trends in FB ads was: do your best to keeping things simple and clear.

And here are the main findings about the median length of copy on ads.

The median length of the header: five words.

The median length of the main text – which is that top piece underneath the Stitch Fix- was 14 words, and the medium length of the link description was 18 words.  So the call to you as a marketer is to create, and that should be no surprise, something that is simple and clear, to the point, but that grabs attention as well.

The questions you need to ask yourself are:

  • what is the point of your ad?
  • what are you trying to get them to do?


And if you are doing a more narrow and focused advertisement you have more opportunity to create those ads that are going to speak to the person. So instead of just getting a list of 10,000 people and marketing one thing to them, can you break that down maybe by geography or maybe by what they purchased in the past?

And can you start to create ads that are going to create that spark where someone’s just blindly scrolling through their feed, and they go: “Oh, wait! I know that product or I know that name, let me back up and see what that was about.”

So you have to ask yourself how do you get people out of that zombie effect when they are mindlessly scrolling through and grab their attention and get them out of that slump.

Ideas to get you started with creating Facebook display ads

One time campaigns

  • One day sales/Flash sales
  • New product launches targeting people who bought a similar product
  • Holidays


When you have holidays like Christmas, Black Friday, Valentine’s Day, Father’s Day or any other holiday like that look if there is a section of your customer base that you know purchased in that time frame last year, that you want to get in front of again.

The Sync Use Cases

  • Look-a-like campaigns – find people who look like your best customers
  • Cross Channel Messaging 
  • Win-back churning customers
  • First purchase
  • Best customer
  • Replenishment
  • Browse or cart reminders


The sink use cases or automated use cases are interesting because they do a lot of this stuff that you see in the one time campaigns but it’s done automatically. With a direct integration of Facebook what you can do is to create a segment and it will sink into Facebook and pull in a list of clients based on criteria like what they purchased, how long has been since they purchased, a predicted trigger date and others like that. And from there, once someone has made a purchase, they would get removed from the list.

So this is a great way to make sure that you are not reselling the same message to someone once you’ve already sold them the product.

And from there, once someone has made a purchase, they would get removed from the list. So this is a great way to make sure that you are not reselling the same message to someone once you’ve already sold them the product.

So it’s interesting to think of ways that maybe you can find these groups of people who might be a great indicator of someone else who would be a good customer for you.

Other options would be cross-channel messaging.

Winning back your churning customers

If you can pinpoint a segment of people who should have purchased and maybe haven’t in the past three to six months, can you use a predictive churn date on that, and get in front of them before they’ve churned? And you make the message fairly generic but insert a call to action to bring them back. This could be something like free shipping, or maybe just a reminder that they have all of these great perks as part of being a valued customer.

First purchase campaign

We know email can get overcrowded. So you can show a message for anyone who’s made their first purchase and hasn’t made a second one yet, with things like ten percent off the next purchase or with recommended products if they purchase from a certain category using carousel ads.


If you have an e-commerce and brick-and-mortar presence what you could think about doing is maybe targeting people who would come to an in-store event with like a sneak peek campaign through Facebook replenishment. That’s a great one for the consumable goods clients where you can set up predicted replenishment display ads.

So for example, we know that I need to rebuy shampoo every three months or so. Around that two month mark, I might start seeing Facebook ads in in my feed, reminding me to come back and make that second purchase.

So that’s a nice way to kind of plant the seed before someone’s supposed to repurchase. Because the last thing you want is for me to be about to shower one morning and be like “oh man, I’m out of shampoo!” and just run to the store after work that day. So if you get in front of me early, based on my buying pattern, there’s a better chance that I’m going to purchase from you.

Browsing or cart reminders

There’s this situation where people have obviously been interested in a product, they’ve been browsing, they’ve looked at that product multiple times, or they’ve even put it in their cart, but they didn’t buy. So there’s  a way you can create a campaign that highlights that product or category of products and then once they make that purchase they would just be taken out of that segment.

Case Study: Right Stuff Anime

RightStuffAnime is one of the largest distributors and e-retailers of anime specific products in North America, and they are competing with big-box stores like Amazon and Best Buy in this particular niche industry. They were part of the Windsor Circle beta program with the Facebook ad groups, and they ran two campaigns on Facebook just to test out and see how it would work.

They’ve been doing Facebook advertising through Facebook itself before, and they just wanted to see what would happen when they added in this extra data.

Jake, Right Stuff Anime’s digital marketing manager, likes to look for at least a 10x ROI on any digital marketing initiative to make sure it’s a success.

That’s a good point to bring up. When you do new campaigns, it’s good to understand what does success look like for your company. What has been the status quo, what have you been okay with, what we make it a screaming success, what would be ok but we need to tweak it. 

So really understanding your metrics and how to move the needle is important when you’re doing this.

So we’re going to look at both of these advertisements that RightStuffAnime created.

Advertisement 1

This advertisement was a product cross-sell campaign. We did an intentionally small segment; it was like three hundred and something people. They created a segment of people who had purchased one of the videos on this ad on the right-hand side and had not purchased the other one.

Basically, they market people saying “Hey you have this, but you don’t have this video, which is about to be released. It’s the first time it’s being released, pair them together you can save some money.”

They ran this ad for about a week, maybe two weeks. These are the results:

Reach of 149 people, 16 purchases, conversion rate of 9%, ROI 13X.

So it already checked the box of the “Yes, it’s a success”. Interestingly enough the average order value for this particular segment was much higher than you see when people just normally come to their site to purchase.

So what that meant, is customers and people on Facebook were seeing this ad and they were going to their site. They were buying not only the 40% off item, but they were also adding in more stuff so they ended up spending more money than they would have if they just wandered onto the site themselves.

Advertisement 2

This was another product upsell campaign. What Jake was testing with these two campaigns was how will this stuff work with a product release and how can we really move the needle when we get new products in or there’s something happening. 

In this case, there was a movie coming out “Ghost in the shell”. This is based on an older movie, and there’s a remake done very recently, and so they’re capitalizing on that opening.

Again they targeted people based on the products they purchased in the past. So anyone who purchased “Ghost in the shell” in the past was targeted with this. Once they got to their site what they found was 30 items marked down.

What they found again was a really incredible result. They ran this ad for ten days, they spent under a hundred bucks, and they had a ten dollar per day budget on this.

As a result, they had a hundred purchases and a revenue of $13.000 so their ROI was 144 X, which is huge.

Really what you saw here was good timing.

But it was owed to the fact that when you put the right information in front of the right person at the right time, chances are they’re going to be much more willing to click on and buy and do whatever it is you want them to do. Another great way to start communicating with your visitors using the right message at the right time on your own site is by using website overlays.

As a retailer, you know your audience better than anyone else. You’re you’re in there, living and breathing new stuff all day long, so you’re going to know what segments you should be going after with different product releases or even just cross-sell opportunities. And that’s that’s really the key thing to hone in when you’re doing Facebook advertising.

Watch Polly’s entire presentation at the International Ecommerce Day, May 2017 here.