How to use Facebook Carousel Ads for E-Commerce Product Research

By July 15, 2015E-commerce

If you’re running an E-commerce website, or contemplating it, and wondering what products you should stock, here’s a method you can use to test new product ideas.

Recently I headed over to Europe on a business trip and was inclined to invest in some new carry on luggage. Something that would fit my laptop as well as the extra other bits and pieces you take with you on a long flight. My old grubby backpack just wouldn’t provide the protection I wanted for my laptop.

The exercise of finding a suitable carry on bag got my e-commerce juices flowing; could one setup a niche website dedicated to selling carry on luggage and market it via Facebook Ads? From my experience trying to find a decent bag in a short space of time, I could see that the margins could be good.

Hence I decided to test the premise, without setting up a full blown e-commerce store and without spending hundreds of dollars importing products from China.

Here’s what I did, step by step, to test this e-commerce business idea and find products my audience might buy online.

Step 1: Register a domain name & setup hosting

If you don’t already have a e-commerce store or a domain you can use to host a landing page, go register a domain name that’s related to your e-commerce idea. For .com’s I use Godaddy and for local .com.au domains I use CrazyDomains.

Get your domain hosted on some cheap hosting. We’re going to be setting up WordPress, so make sure your hosting provider offers something like cPanels that makes it easy(er) for the non-technical people like you and I to setup WordPress relatively painlessly. Hostgator are cheap and cheerful for this purpose.

For my test I registered the domain carryonbags.com.au.

Step 2: Setup WordPress

Some website hosting providers will offer WordPress installation apps, such as Quickinstall, that make installing WordPress a snap. If you don’t have this, just head over to WordPress.org and follow their 5 minute setup.

Step 3: Install a “Coming Soon” plugin

As I mentioned earlier, we’re not going to setup a full blown e-commerce store, we just want a landing page to tell people our e-commerce store will be opening soon, and to collect an email address should they wish to be notified.

I use a plugin call SeedProd, they have a free and paid version. I used the paid version as it has some tracking features that I’ll go into later.

This is also a responsive coming soon plugin, which means it’s mobile phone friendly. This is important for Facebook Ads traffic as a lot of cheaper clicks come from people using the Facebook app on a mobile phone.

Go ahead and configure your coming soon page. Here’s what mine looks like.

Facebook Ads Landing Page

Step 4: Setup a Facebook Conversion Tracking Pixel

You will need to setup a Facebook Ads account if you don’t already have one, and you will need to setup a Facebook Page to promote your e-commerce concept. I already had a page setup that was in a similar niche, so I used that as the promotion page.

I won’t go into too much detail here as Facebook has good help docs on setting up tracking codes. Once you’ve set one up, you want to have it triggered by the Coming Soon plugin once people have entered their email address. This means that not only can you track signups, you can track sign-ups based on what product people have clicked on. Arguably, this will give you an indication as to the level of interest people have in a particular product.

As I alluded to earlier, you’ll need to be using the paid version of the SeedProd plugin, Coming Soon Pro. In the Advanced Settings area, you’ll find a “Conversion Scripts” field where you can paste your Facebook ads tracking code.

Ad Facebook Tracking to Coming Soon Pro.

Step 5: Source Your Products

By this stage you’ve probably had a good look around for something you want to sell and have an idea of what’s available. I sourced my product images from Aliexpress, but there are plenty of Chinese sites where you can source affordable wholesale products. Banggood and GoodLuckBuy are another two to check out.

Step 6: Create Your Facebook Carousel Ads

Firstly, why have I chosen to use Facebook Ads as the traffic source for this test? No, it’s not because I offer Facebook Ads Consulting services… ok, maybe a little.

Facebook ads can provide traffic that’s perfect for the demographic I’m targeting with this e-commerce store concept. Using Behaviour targeting, I can show my ads to people who travel frequently.

Facebook Ads Frequent Traverlers

You can see there’s almost 500,000 frequent travellers in Australia. A nice size audience to test this concept out on.

Using the 5 products you’ve chosen, setup your Facebook Carousel Ad, pointing people to your landing page.
Setup Facebook Carousel Ad

You will notice in the screenshot above that I’ve also added prices. You may wish to split test an identical version of the same carousel ad without prices to test price sensitivity.

Set you budget and launch. I ran this for a couple of days with a daily budget of $10.

Step 7: Review Your Data

Once your ad has been running for a few days and you’ve collected enough data to make some decisions, run a report that shows performance at a slide-by-slide level.

Facebook Carousel Report

While my results are far from being statistically significant, for all intents and purposes of this blog post, you can see which products were more popular. The travel duffle bag had the highest click through rate (apart from the generic carousel slide that is shown as the 6th slide in the deck). It also received the most number of registrations, which suggests to me that people are keen to find out when this product is launched.

Based on this test, I’d start by purchasing the Travel Duffle Bag, then perhaps even the European Style Waterproof Bag.

What’s Next?

Personally, I wouldn’t want to run this test for too long as you risk disenfranchising your target audience with what is essentially a dead end offer. Should you decide to move forward with your e-commerce idea, then you want to make a decision relatively quickly before you ruin your brand name before you’re even out of the block.

A better way to test products would be to actually build product pages on an e-commerce platform, set the product status as “out of stock” and ask people to leave their email address so they can be notified when you have the stock.

So, there it is, my method for e-commerce product research with Facebook’s Carousel Ads, I hope it gives you some valuable intel before you go buying up big from China 😉