The Best Ways to Promote Products Online and Make Sales

51% of people now prefer to shop when businesses promote products online. 80% of people have purchased something this month.

The people are there. They want online products. You see the opportunities.

But the challenge appears when you try to promote products online. The competition is intense and often global. You have huge names like Amazon to contend with. As the competition heats up, ad costs rise.

Finding the method that’s right for you and your business is the difference between paying unsustainable acquisition costs and making a profit in the ecomm marketplace. The more aligned your digital marketing methods are the better ROI you’ll achieve. That’s regardless of the competition.

Let’s explore the best ways to promote products online and look at which ones will benefit your business.

Social Media Advertising

Social media advertising and ecommerce go hand in hand. 52% of product sales can be attributed back to Facebook. Around 75% of a buyer’s touch points with a brand they buy from take place on social media.

A Nuestar case study showed that Pinterest ads are 30% more effective than other display ads with 5x the sales. It delivered a stunning 28:1 ROI.

But is Facebook, Pinterest or another platform right for your brand, audience and products? Let’s take a look at each.

Facebook Ads

Are you considering Facebook ads? Here’s what you need to know.


A Facebook average cost-per-click (CPC) is about $0.40. With a cost that low, you can promote products online for as little as $10 a day if you have a decent conversion rate.

Your costs can increase depending on certain factors. It’s important to consider them to get the most out of Facebook advertising.

First, the CPC may be higher if you sell in certain countries. This Adespresso chart shows that the average CPC in Japan is $0.73. If you market in Greece, it could be as low as $0.17. This is 2016 data so this has gone up a little bit in the past couple years.

Second, consider the time of year. Just think about how many more ads you see for certain types of products before Valentine’s Day, Halloween or Christmas. If you’re trying to tap into a seasonal market, you can expect costs to be higher.

As a whole, you’ll spend the most money on any social media ads from October to December.

Third, costs are also impacted by the age you’re targeting. Targeting users ages 45-65 actually costs more. That’s not surprising since this age group often has more money to spend.

Fourth, the time your ad appears impacts the price. Costs tend to go up in the early morning when people are checking Facebook before work and then evenings after standard work hours.

But this varies depending on what you’re selling. Some products have a typical time slot. For example, most people are thinking about dinner in the late afternoon.

This is when a time-sensitive ad is most likely to be clicked. It’s the best time to show your ad in terms of conversions. But it’s also the most expensive.

In the example below, the meal service Blue Apron is running their ad at 4:30pm, just before dinner time. This ad is costing them more than it would at 10pm or 6am, but they obviously find the cost to be worth the benefit for that prime-time slot.

Placement of the ad can also drive your cost up. If you want an ad to appear in the news feed or Instagram expect to pay more. That’s because you’re going to get more attention in these locations.

And finally, you typically pay more if your product is primarily purchased by females. As a very broad demographic, it’s simply more competitive to reach women. More businesses are marketing to them.

It’s important to understand what’s driving your CPC up. You’ll find that these and similar factors increase your ad spend on every social media platform. Pay attention to what your analytics tools are telling you to keep costs low while making more sales.

Your expected click-through-rate (CTR) is about .90% but some industries do better than others.

Best Products to Sell on Facebook

Facebook is really good for any kind of legal or uncontroversial product or service. Almost 1.5 billion people log in every day. Their interests and purchase behaviors are broad.

Not surprisingly, tech, retail, apparel, beauty and fitness get the most clicks on Facebook.

Special Rules to Know About

You can sell almost anything on Facebook. But they do draw some limits. They won’t let you sell the following through their ad system:

  • Illegal, Rx, Recreational drugs, tobacco and related paraphernalia
  • Supplements that are considered unsafe
  • Firearms
  • Animals
  • Products/Services that support Piracy
  • Downloadable content
  • Among others

When crafting creatives, keep text under 20% of the ad space. This isn’t just a rule on Facebook. Ads actually perform better on social media with less text.

Facebook wants your ads to perform well. That’s how they get paid.

Your Facebook ads appear in news feeds. Therefore, the more “not like an ad” the ad looks, the better it performs. Less text helps accomplish this.

Instagram Ads

Instagram ads work off the Facebook ad system. So refer to the Facebook section above for most details. And here’s what you need to know specifically about Instagram.


Instagram ads cost more. You might average $1.41 for a click. But in the US, paying close to $4 in some industries isn’t unheard of.

If you opt to pay for cost per 1,000 impressions, that averages around $8. Paying for these views may be beneficial when you’re launching a new brand and need to increase awareness fast, focusing on sales later.

The average click-through-rate on Instagram is 0.52%. That’s much better than most display ads. But less than Facebook. Conversion rates, however, tend to be higher than Facebook. People like to engage and buy on Instagram.

Interestingly, if the person who clicks is on an Apple product, your costs go up. Remember, it’s all about the competition and the potential return.

62% of ecomm purchases are mobile. Apple holds the monster share of this buying behavior with iPhone. On top of that, a Business Insiderreport released just this week stated that owning Apple products is the #1 indicator of personal wealth.

More wealth = more money to spend on your products. That is if they didn’t break the bank buying that $1,000 iPhone.

There’s a secret to getting lower rates on Instagram. January-March the CPC average tanks to under a $1. This is a great time to do a push to increase brand awareness that you can then take into maintenance mode once the costs go back up.

Pinterest Ads

35% of Pinterest users are women making over $75k a year. Nearly 70% are making at least $50K. 10% make over $100K.

This puts most Pinterest users in a solid middle to upper-middle income bracket. This makes Pinterest the place to market higher priced and designer products to this demographic.

62% of users are millennials and younger gen Xers (25-40).

Add to this the fact that 76% of users pin items because they want to purchase it later. And 55% use Pinterest primarily to shop. Pinterest has the potential to drive a lot of traffic to your site.

If you need to promote products online that cost over $80, your brand needs to be on Pinterest.

But unlike Facebook and Instagram, where you target by selecting traits, Pinterest is built around keywords (similar to Google). You’ll need to do some keyword research to advertise on Pinterest.

Know what people are searching for. What phrases do they use?

And recently, Pinterest announced the release of their Shoppable Pins. With this feature, any marketer can upload and convert their products into Shoppable Pins. It was only previously available to selected brands but now it can be accessed by everyone. Now you can turn your product catalogs into Shoppable Pins wherein users can buy your products without leaving the platform.


Pinterest works on a cost-per-click system similar to Facebook and Instagram. You can bid as low as $0.10 and the CPC can vary a lot. Watch your campaign closely and adapt to keep costs low.

When you promote products online using Pinterest, the average traffic increase is 30% with revenue increases of 200% – 300%. If the above-mentioned demographic is your potential customer, Pinterest is the place to promote products online and make sales.

Getting the Most Out of a Social Media Ad Budget

Regardless of which of these social media platforms you decide to use, you need to get the most out of your ad budget. If you don’t they’re not the “best” for you.

So here are some quick tips to help you keep costs low while making more sales through these platforms.

Set a Budget

The cost per click or per impression isn’t the only cost involved. Someone needs to build the creatives, write copy and manage the campaigns, among other tasks.

Social media ads need ongoing maintenance. Get the costs written down so you don’t overspend.

Be Relevant

Instagram and Facebook give your ads a relevance score. It’s like the Quality Score in Google Ads.

If your ads don’t seem relevant to the users who see it, they will start charging you more and showing ads less often.

On average, you’ll pay $0.15 more per click and get 75% fewer clicks when the ad is deemed irrelevant.

To understand relevance, consider this graphic from the automation software company HootSuite. It goes from least to most relevant left to right. Do you see why?

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