What do subject lines, headlines, and ad creative have in common? Their only job is to get them to take the next action. When you put out an ad on social media, its #1 job is to stop the scroll & get the customer to click on through. Save the selling for your website + your emails.
Not sure what thumb-stopping content is? In this week’s episode, we’re learning all about how to create great ad content, why you should invest in it, and what’s working right now in 2021 with Lauren Schwartz of Loft 325.
Let’s talk about ad creative. When you’re running ads on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, you have a lot of content to compete with. One of your main goals is to stop the scroll and today’s guest is going to teach us how to do just that.
Lauren Schwartz is a thought leader in creating profitable creative strategies for eCommerce brands, and a design professional who has been in the eCommerce game for 15 years. Her passion lies in creating top performing ad creative for Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok and Pinterest, and has personally led the creative strategy for brands such as Love Wellness, AAPL, ColourPop, Our Place and Leaf Shave. When she’s not working for her clients, she’s teaching others her profitable creative methodology.
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How did you get into ad creative?
I had worked in eCommerce for 15 years and I saw the need for it. Previously, I had worked on landing pages and email marketing so when I started working at an agency, focusing on people’s ad creative was very fascinating to me. It’s such a game. With creative, you have to always be testing and always learning. It was fun to figure out what was winning and what was working.
When you work with a client, what’s the process? How do you approach the creative? Are there specific elements that are important?
When I work with a new client, the first step is looking through their asset library.
Strong product photography is a must and user generated content is definitely important. I need assets I can manipulate and pull from.
A lot of businesses, when they start out, they don’t have everything. If they have some of those elements, I can start creating.
In the beginning, I focus a lot on research. I look at their website, product pages, and Instagram to figure out how they talk about their product and portray their product to other people. When I understand how they like to talk to their customers, it makes it a lot easier for me to convey that messaging through their ad creatives.
Someone who knows their customer and has their marketing message dialled in makes it really easy for me to bring that to life.
What’s the most important thing to remember when you’re creating ads in-house?
Grab people’s attention. Show your product and convey its purpose in the first three seconds. Whether that’s a still image, or a user generated video where they’re holding the product and talking about it.
After the fourth, fifth, sixth second, you’re going to lose them. Show your product and pique their interest enough to get them to click through.
That’s important, even for organic content. When you’re thinking about IGTV videos, or lives, you have to hook them so they keep watching. Think of that first three seconds like your email subject line. The goal of the email subject line is to get them to open the email. The goal of the video is to get them to watch.
Do static images or videos perform better?
It depends on the product, how good the creative is and the type of audience you’re talking to.
Unfortunately, there’s no solid answer. I get this question a lot and it’s always hard to pinpoint because I think all those elements work together.
We have a lot of static images that perform really, really well. Don’t underestimate your static imagery. A really nice lay down of your product will, at the end of the day, get a person intrigued enough to click on it.
I have a lot of accounts where static outperforms video. But I also have a lot of accounts where user journey generated content outperforms static.
There’s no real winning formula as far as how to get everything working perfectly. Things change so fast in eCommerce and especially on ad platforms. Once you find a winning creative just make sure you’re constantly iterating off of that to see if you can outperform it.
Test until you find your winner and then use that as your control.
When using video for ad creative, do you find that something more of a TikTok/IG Reel style video works better than something overproduced?
So many people either love TikTok or hate it. The greatest thing that’s come from TikTok really great content creators that know how to grab your attention—fast. Those 100% always outperform any high production content that we have, especially on Facebook and Instagram. I have found that if you are doing YouTube with ads, for instance, that high production does better than user generated content.
Is it in the best interest of the business to invest in the people who can create the content that’s going to convert?
Sometimes it seems outrageous to pay someone such a large of money upfront but in the long run they will get you the return on investment. They know what they’re doing. They know the trends and they know what style works. It’s one of those things that is very important to invest in because it’s going to help your business that much more.
We need to remember that this is a specialized thing they do. You don’t expect everyone to get on stage and belt out a Whitney Houston song as well as she does, right? Not everyone can create really amazing content. We have to give them a bit more credit.
Think of them as if you had someone in-house who was creating this content for you, they would probably be a full-time employee. Come at it from that place and see the value in it.
How do you test your ads?
I test in two different ways:
1. Test the first three seconds
2. Test the first three seconds with copy
My biggest thing is grabbing that person’s attention and then trying to find something that resonates with them.
Usually I do about six pieces of creative and three will be different intros and the other three will have different copy.
I do this so I can figure out what is actually resonating with people. Is it the first three seconds of imagery? Or is it the first three seconds of copy? A lot of time it’s just trying to figure out those different styles of how and what’s going to work.
Once I gather some information, then that’s where I can really take that learning, and really start testing heavily with new copy variations, new mixes of the videos and figuring out what creatives work really well for these accounts.
Sometimes we put creative into the account, and all of them fail. And sometimes you’ll get a clear winner with a best performing ad. You know what works and how it resonates with your audience, and we can continue to build from there. That’s how I like to start testing.
From there, we build upon that testing every week. Test, learn, test, learn. Test as much as you can and learn what is resonating with your customers. Once you find those winning formulas, that’s how you’re going to scale.
Do you use Facebook Dynamic Creative when you test your ads?
Yes, this is where we start when building campaigns. Once we find what’s working, then we can move those into our other ad sets.
If you’re not completely familiar with this, Facebook Dynamic Creative Ads allows you to upload up to five visual creative pieces, five headlines, five pieces of copy and then it mixes and matches them for you. From there, it tells you which one does the best.
There’s some strategy behind how you do this, which we can’t get into today, but just so you know, it exists.
It’s like A/B testing emails, where you test some things against each other and see which one people like better.
What are some of the biggest mistakes that you see people make?
The greatest mistake I see is companies not explaining their product clearly. A lot of companies want to get as much information into their ad creative as possible but sometimes there’s so much information that you lose people.
Make sure that you’re talking to your audience like you’re talking to a child. It might sound bad to say but you need to make it as simple as possible. You’re trying to grab their attention super fast as they’re scrolling through their feed and then you’re also trying to get as much information into an ad. If you’re over explaining it, you’re going to lose them. People will just scroll right past you.
Break it down like you’re talking to a five-year-old because that’s how much time you have in order to get them to even look at your ad creative and click through.
Ultimately, you want people to click through to your website and your landing pages where you can have way more information. From there, they now have enough information to decide whether to purchase your product.
Don’t put everything into an ad, you’re just going to lose people. It’s going to be so confusing for them. They won’t even want to engage in the product.
The goal of the ad creative is to get them to stop the scroll and look at the ad. The goal of the ad is to get them to click.
It’s the same as emails. When you are creating content for your emails, you’re not going for the sale, you’re going for the click. Get them to your website and let your website sell the product.
When you’re thinking about eCommerce in general, no matter what your marketing channels are, look at each step in that customer journey separately because they each mean something different.
If you have a really high click through rate on an ad, but people aren’t buying, likely the breakdown is on your product page or that landing page or somewhere in your checkout process.
Most people are using Shopify, so checkout is not the issue. It’s your landing pages that’s the issue. If people are not clicking on your ad in the first place, then that’s an ad problem. And that’s where you need to start.
Again, it’s the same with email. If people open your emails, your subject line is not the problem. If they are clicking inside of your email, then your content is not the problem. But if they’re not purchasing, then it’s the landing page.
So, I encourage you to always when you’re analyzing your results to make sure that you are looking at each step separately and thinking about what is it that drives this particular metric?
What are some of the biggest ad trends right now?
User generated content, TikTok and IG reel style are all definitely trending.
Ads that look like a Twitter post are also something we’re seeing a lot of at the moment. It’s definitely a trend that is flying under the radar. It looks like a review but in the format of a Twitter post. Those seem to resonate with people because it looks real.
It’s like user generated content, and it’s a static image as opposed to video. The more you can make it look like it’s just part of the feed and not an ad, the better off you will do.
What is your biggest failure?
One of the biggest fails I’ve had in my ad creative career was with a client. At the time I was really big on 3D renderings. I was convinced it was going to work because I had seen the likes of Nike do it. We invested some money into this 3D rendering and did all this stuff—and it failed miserably.
It was just one of those things where I totally steered the client in the wrong direction. It just seemed like such a great idea but we weren’t Nike and it probably wasn’t the right business to experiment doing that with.
We’ve all had shiny object syndrome but you need to consider whether the payoff is going to be worth it? And what would it take? It depends what size business you are.
What’s something that worked really well?
I was working with a feminine care product client and, as with any feminine products, it’s one of those cliche things many people don’t want to talk about. Even though it happens to every woman.
At the time, they were really hesitant with just testing headlines. One of their products was a vaginal cleanser, and I just came up with a clear image of the cleanser, and one headline on a static image that said, “Vaginas aren’t complicated.”
That ad crushed it. It outperformed every other piece of creative. Sometimes it’s just as simple as a clear image with a really killer headline that will resonate with people above everything else.
What’s the #1 thing my audience can take away from this episode?
Use TikTok as your influence and inspiration for user-generated content and ad creative. These content creators really know what they’re doing and they will really help you sell your product.
Take on some of these trends and implement them into your business—or at least try. Even give them a go as a business owner. You might be surprised at how well your business does when you step in front of the camera.