Ecommerce Technology / Enterprise Ecommerce

Optimized Social Media Advertising: The Algorithmic Intelligence Powering Successful Social Sellers

Robyn Foo / 4 min read

Social media advertising is expected to explode over the course of the next three years, which is why Bigcommerce and Boostable partnered to launch an automated and optimized product ads platform for online merchants.

In 2015 alone, advertising revenue from social media networks is estimated to reach $8.4 billion, and more and more marketing professionals are finding social, and its mobile-readiness, crucial to a growing business. Here are just a few highlights from Salesforce’s “State of Marketing” report, which surveyed 5,000 marketers on their plans for 2015 advertising:

  • [inlinetweet prefix=”71% said mobile marketing is core to their business” tweeter=”71% said mobile marketing is core to their business” suffix=””]71% said mobile marketing is core to their business[/inlinetweet]
  • [inlinetweet prefix=”68% have integrated mobile into their larger marketing strategy” tweeter=”68% have integrated mobile into their larger marketing strategy” suffix=””]68% have integrated mobile into their larger marketing strategy[/inlinetweet]
  • [inlinetweet prefix=”58% have a dedicated mobile team” tweeter=”58% have a dedicated mobile team” suffix=””]58% have a dedicated mobile team[/inlinetweet]
  • [inlinetweet prefix=”66% believe social media is core to their business” tweeter=”66% believe social media is core to their business” suffix=””]66% believe social media is core to their business[/inlinetweet]
  • [inlinetweet prefix=”66% have a dedicated social media team” tweeter=”66% have a dedicated social media team” suffix=””]66% have a dedicated social media team[/inlinetweet]

Bigcommerce’s Product Ads integration, powered by Boostable, helps online businesses streamline their social media advertising practices and performance tracking. This application allows Bigcommerce merchants to utilize sophisticated targeting technology that intelligently optimizes reach for the highest possible ROI and net new customer gains. This also eliminates the need for A/B advertising tests, utilizing data-driven optimization algorithms instead of manual testing.

Here is how it works.

Site Retargeting

The first targeting tactic in Boostable’s algorithmic arsenal is what is known as site retargeting. If a customer visits your online store, the algorithm will then show that same customer an ad on Facebook or Twitter. This is an extremely effective retargeting technique: click-through rates from retargeting ads are 3x to 10x higher than typical industry average.

Why is this type of campaign so effective? Simple, because the customer has already shown an interest in your store and the ad serves as a reminder to revisit your site and finalize the conversion process. Facebook calls this “website custom audiences,” and Twitter calls it “tailored audiences.” Learn more about the power of retargeting here.

Lookalike Targeting

Lookalike targeting does something similar to site retargeting, but goes after net new customers rather than those who have already visited your site. This type of targeting utilizes information about who has visited your website and finds potential net new customers with similar interests and browsing habits. This algorithm is based on current customer demographics, interests, behavior and other information that Facebook and Twitter provide via Boostable’s deep partnership with the social media networks. Lookalike targeting is important because it helps merchants expand their addressable audience in a cost-effective, quality-controlled environment.

Plus, it is extremely successful. Facebook spokespeople told Adweek that an online travel site saw 70% lower costs per action using Lookalike Audiences, and an online shopping site experienced 56% lower cost per action (CPA) and 94% lower costs per checkout. In all, lookalike audiences provides net new customers at the lowest possible acquisition rate.

Proprietary Targeting

Together, Bigcommerce and Boostable provide proprietary targeting profiles. This enables
merchants to automatically target prospective customers based on how likely they are to buy something from your store. For clients, this means that even if you don’t have a lot of traffic, you can still spend your advertising effectively by focusing on those net new customers most likely to buy versus having to invest a significant amount just to drive lower quality traffic to your site.

Proprietary targeting, then, is a way for merchants to cast a targeted net toward potential new customers who have previously expressed interest in similar products and brands.


If you have a list of customers that is greater than 100, Boostable makes it easy to advertise to both those customers and similar audiences. You may already know this functionality well, as Custom Audiences on Facebook.

Custom Audiences lets you reach customers you already know with ads on Facebook. You can upload a list of email addresses or phone numbers of at least 100 people and Boostable will then deliver your ad to those people if they’re on Facebook. This is great way to increase returning customer spend as well as customer lifetime value.

“To share one example,” said Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer at Facebook, during an earnings call. “JackThreads, an online shopping site for men, used Custom Audiences to target specific segments on its customer database and target them with ads for products that the company knew were most relevant to them … such as sneakers. As a result, the company achieved a 30% lower cost for acquisition than other platforms and saw a 6x return on advertising spend.”

Is this secure for your customers? Absolutely. When you upload a list to build a Custom Audience, the data gets hashed, so no third-party company can see the information. It then gets matched with Facebook’s hashed data to build the Custom Audience, and neither Facebook nor Boostable will know the original email address or phone number.

Optimizing for Sales

Optimizing ad spend in a multichannel advertising environment is a huge pain point for many SMBs. The process can often be complex, manual and extremely time consuming. Why is this so? Well, because both Facebook and Twitter have advertising auctions, where merchants need to bid in order to place an ad on their platforms. Based on a number of factors including your creative, relevancy to the audiences and more, the bid price at which your ad will be most effective continuously fluctuates throughout the course of your campaign.

To address this issue, Boostable built an advanced optimization engine to immediately adjust to how the target audience is responding to your ad, automatically fine-tuning the bid price to maximize for sales at the lowest possible cost.

Automated Social Media Advertising

All of the above retargeting techniques can be automatically set-up and optimized via Bigcommerce Product Ads for all Bigcommerce merchants. Our algorithms will analyze social ad performance on an ongoing basis to ensure that your ads are reaching the right audience based on your business needs and goals, all at the lowest possible cost for the highest possible performance.


Robyn Foo

Robyn Foo

Robyn Foo is the head of marketing at Boostable. Prior to Boostable, Robyn was a product marketing lead at Facebook and the director of acquisition marketing at Gilt Groupe.

View all posts by Robyn Foo
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