How Fowler’s Chocolates Uses Facebook Ads to Boost Holiday Sales

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For more than a century, Fowler’s Chocolates has been known for its sponge candy, a chocolate-coated, meringue-like toffee first brought to Buffalo by Joe Fowler in 1910. It has a devoted following in western New York, and Fowler’s is now taking advantage of new ways to bring their regional specialty to a national audience through their e-commerce store. That’s where Facebook ads come in.

Find the people who look like your best customers

Fowler’s sales cycle is a bit of a roller coaster, with huge peaks leading up to holidays like Valentine’s Day and Easter, followed by off-season valleys, which is when they focus on growing their audience with organic social posts. Heather Palmer, the company’s digital marketing lead, shares exclusive discounts with their email list early in the holiday buying season. Then, she reinforces those promotions with Facebook ads to capture last-minute sales.

This year, she created her first Facebook ad in MailChimp the week before Valentine’s Day, targeting an audience similar to her email contacts. She wanted to find brand-new customers who hadn’t gotten around to their Valentine’s shopping.

“In the past, I would’ve spent hours trying to put the needle on the right target,” Heather says. “The option to show my ads to people who are similar to my contacts is what has made our ads so much more successful.”

Her $150 ad netted $415 in sales—that’s a 176% return on investment (ROI)—but more importantly, it gained her 10 first-time buyers. That meant she could reach back out to those new contacts a few weeks later about Fowler’s Easter packages, whether through an email campaign or a Facebook ad, and turn them into repeat customers.

Fowler's Facebook ad

“Since our Shopify store is connected to MailChimp, all our customers are automatically added to our list,” Heather says. “Now we can show ads to people who have purchased from us but might not have opted into our email marketing during checkout, which has been key for us.”

Turn new contacts into repeat customers

For her second Facebook ad in MailChimp, Heather decided to target her list contacts, since historically Fowler’s has seen an uptick in repeat buyers around Easter.

“Most repeat customers are looking to buy an Easter basket or two,” Heather said. “With the added bonus of free shipping for orders over $40, we saw a good boost in sales early on.”

There’s a good reason behind that $40 threshold. Most Fowler’s baskets fall in the $25 range. That means shoppers end up exploring the online store a little more, adding another item or two to their carts to take advantage of the shipping promo.

That tactic paid off: This time, her ad’s ROI grew to 212%, and it snagged 4 first-time buyers after loyal customers shared it in Facebook’s News Feed.

Fowler’s tips for success with Facebook ads

  • Not sure which products to advertise? Start with your best-sellers. Fowler’s makes 75 different products, but sponge candy is their longtime leading seller. Its passionate fan base virtually guarantees sales.
  • Test your images first. When Heather’s not sure which photo to use for an ad, she uses a few different images in organic social posts and email campaigns to see which ones get the most engagement and click-throughs. That way she knows which visuals resonate with her audience before she puts money behind a Facebook ad. Over time she’s discovered the most popular photos show Fowler’s sponge candy cut in half to reveal the toffee filling.
  • Use discounts and shipping promos wisely. Heather never gives out discounts on candy in her ads, because those are only for her VIP customers from her email list. And she only includes shipping promos when someone spends at least $40 across multiple products in her store to make sure the offer doesn’t cut too far into Fowler’s profit margins.
  • Capture sales with the right landing page. After someone clicks on an ad, Heather knows she only has a few seconds to grab their attention and make a sale. She always drives traffic to the product or collection featured in the ad instead of Fowler’s homepage, which helps customers find what they’re looking for and check out quickly.

If you’re new to creating Facebook ads in MailChimp, get more tips and advice in our Facebook advertising guide or jump in and get started.

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