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What is a Product Feed: How optimized feeds help you sell more on Facebook

Product feeds are the lifeblood for eCommerce businesses like yours. It’s what powers your website, marketing campaigns, and remarketing efforts.

But despite their prevalence, there is a lot of mystery around product feeds, why it really matters, and its actual capabilities.

While we will demystify product feeds, we’ve also got some powerful insights that will leverage your product feed to sell more on Facebook. So stay tuned!

What is a Product Feed? And why everyone needs one

If you’re an online-first business (which is highly likely), you already have a product feed.
A product feed is the actual list of products along with product information. Also known as shopping feeds, these CSV, TXT, or XML files can be used to display information on your website and product marketing channels like Amazon, Google, Facebook to display product listings, run ads, and retarget users.

Each platform and channel has different requirements, but overall, your file will contain:

  • Images
  • Product Titles
  • Product Descriptions
  • Prices
  • Product Availability

Say you only sell one product on your site. Do you need a product feed for shopping channels?

Probably not.

But even if you add different variants of your product - different sizes and colors - you’ll find it cumbersome to import this data. So, for large eCommerce businesses with hundreds of products and their variants, a product feed is crucial.

And even if you’re not planning to run product ads right away, having a product feed is vital. Instead of manually pulling product attributes to build category pages, you can use a filter on your product feed and populate it automatically.

Why are product feeds so important to eCommerce marketers?

In its raw form, product feeds just contain product information. But in the context of eCommerce marketing, you’re using it to transfer product data from one place to another.

You can use product feeds to:

  • Run ads on shopping channels like Facebook, Amazon, Instagram, or Google.
  • Start dynamic remarketing campaigns to target users that have seen your product.
  • Send information to distributors and retailers so they can easily update their site.
  • Sell products on marketplaces so your products are easily searchable.
  • Leverage eCommerce tools to reduce abandoned carts, post-purchase surveys, or enable site search.

Should you optimize product feeds?

Basic, aka unoptimized product data, can only get you so far.

Marketplaces and shopping channels place a massive emphasis on your product feed. Some channels use your product data to determine the campaign quality, ultimately deciding to show your product or not for search queries.

So should you optimize your product feed? YES!

An optimized product feed helps you secure a better ad rank and quality scores, maintain data accuracy, and manipulate your store data to stay on-brand and offer what users want. All of this helps you sell more.

Who benefits from an optimized product feed?

Merchants with many SKUs and fluctuating product listings who wish to conquer multichannel marketing benefit from optimized product feeds.

Optimized product feeds can be built manually or automatically. Automatic optimization can help you scale, freeing up your time to help you do more.

So you have three options to choose from:

  • Create a manual product feed using a spreadsheet
  • Pull your product feed from your store using content API
  • Automate your product feed with an app (We’ll recommend some below👇)

No matter which method you choose, an optimized product feed enables you to leverage campaigns effectively, expand to new channels, build more campaigns and most importantly, create better creatives.

Read: How DexyCo built a custom feed to automate video ads

What is product feed management?

Can you optimize your product feeds yourself? Absolutely.

But should you? Maybe not.

For one, you need different data for each use case. And the format that your product feed is in may not match the platform you’re trying to upload it to. Or, you may want to update your inventory and not spend time updating each version manually.

That’s where product feed management comes in. Product data feed management tools help you automate tasks and create platform-ready versions in no time.

Here are some of the best product feed management tools we recommend:

How do product feeds work on Facebook? (+How to create one)

Depending on the channel you want to use your product feed, the exact steps may vary but largely the platform reads your product data and retrieves the information to help you build your campaign.

We’ll focus on Facebook for this article but you can find information for other channels like Google shopping easily. Some fields like title, description and price are required. Others depend on the type of item you sell.

You have 3 options:

  • Create a product data feed from Facebook’s template
  • Upload your data feed (it should be in the right format)
  • Import items from a partner platform ​​(WooCommerce, Shopify, Magento, etc.)

This will populate your product catalog on Facebook.

What is a product catalog?

"A catalog is a container that holds information about the items that you want to advertise or sell across Facebook and Instagram. You can create catalogs for different types of inventory, such as products (e-commerce), hotels, flights, destinations, home listings or vehicles. The platform to create and manage catalogs is Commerce Manager." (Source)

Different types of Product Feeds on Facebook

Facebook allows you to create catalogs depending on the kind of inventory you sell - eCommerce, hotels, flights, destinations, vehicles or real estate.

G Adventures ad examples
Discover how G Adventures managed to become more relevant

Facebook requires the following mandatory fields regardless of your inventory type:

  • id
  • title
  • description
  • availability
  • condition
  • price
  • link
  • image_link
  • brand

Tip: Navigate to one of these links to find out exactly which fields are relevant for your vertical

But is Facebook enough to run effective ads? Nope.

While diminished by the iOS 14 update, Facebook's targeting capabilities are still robust. They can help you find the right audience, but can they help you convert those users?

Probably not.

Ad fatigue from creatives is a very real problem. If you use your product feed as is, it will pull images from your site.

That’s not going to appeal to your audience, especially if you plan on retargeting them.

The other problem is you’re limited to the fields that Facebook has you use. Say you include the price and availability in your creative. That might pique shopper interest, but it isn’t enough to make them want to buy.

You need a creative automation and production platform like Hunch so you can actually design your ads and not just feature your static product images.

Shoes ad examples

With Hunch Studio, you can stay on-brand on auto-pilot. Want to promote free shipping? Or remind shoppers about their abandoned carts? Or use the weather to compel a purchase? You can do all of that and more!

Why Product Catalog Ads are the secret ingredient to successful campaigns

When times were simpler, you could simply create several formats of the same ad and set conditions to dictate who would see them.

So for every product, you would need to create a different ad and apply this approach.

This is also known as static retargeting.

But unfortunately, you cannot scale this approach.

And that’s where the biggest advantage of the product catalog lies.

You can set up dynamic audiences, i.e., you can tell Facebook to retarget users that viewed a particular product, and Facebook will match the product on your site and catalog with the user.

How to create an ad

Dynamic retargeting creates unique ads for each customer. It analyzes which creative appeals to audiences and uses machine learning to show them the best combination of all the ad elements.

🚨How to sell effectively on Facebook

Even if you run a simple retargeting campaign on Facebook, you’ll notice an uptick in your campaign performance because performance is at the heart of optimization efforts.

But selling effectively on Facebook? It depends on what you’re selling and how. What it boils down to is to use dynamic retargeting capabilities.

With that in your arsenal, you have the ability to design your customer’s journey.

What does that mean exactly?

Say you’re running a campaign to show different menus at a restaurant, and it’s lunchtime. The consideration window for that purchase is tiny - perhaps half an hour.

Delivery ad examples

So you can use dynamic ads to show the right menu and show it at the right time.

Let’s look at another example. Perhaps you sell t-shirts. Based on how your buyers purchase, you know the consideration period is 1-2 days. So you can use that information to retarget users only for 1-2 days and stop if they don’t buy. That helps you lower your spend and increase your ROAS because you’re being picky with your targeting.

Similarly, each industry has a shorter or longer period of consideration, so your retargeting efforts will vary.

So while there is no blanket advice to sell more on Facebook, selling more is within your reach.

Perhaps your target customer lands on your site and is interested in the different brands. You can use that data to show all the brands you carry in your ad. Or, maybe they’ve added something to their cart. You can remind them of their abandoned cart and offer a 10% discount to sweeten the deal.

Pay attention to what your users want, how they purchase, and then use retargeting to maximize returns.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How to create a product feed?

  • Create a manual product feed using a spreadsheet
  • Pull your product feed from your store using content API
  • Automate your product feed with an app

Learn how to turn first-party data into actionable insights and get better returns on your ad spend on paid social with 3 product insights plays.