One of the things e-commerce owners that want to run Facebook ads frequently ask me is “what do we need to do to be ready?”

Half of the time that I audit e-commerce websites and their ad accounts, I can tell that a lot of these companies aren’t “traffic ready.” There’s a distinct difference between being ready to handle traffic and simply wanting traffic. As a result, companies that want more traffic, but aren’t ready to handle it often make the same mistakes:

1) Often times these companies do not have a Facebook pixel installed on their website. Now, if you’re not familiar with a pixel is, it is a piece of code that tracks your website’s traffic and allows you to retarget your website visitors with ads. In addition, a pixel will allow you to segment your website visitors into different audiences depending on the actions that they committed on your website. For example, if you want to target everyone that added one of your products to their cart but never purchased that product, a pixel will allow you to identify and target that audience.

2) Another issue that I regularly come across is a lack of inventory control. This is an enormous issue because if you start running ads that drive sufficient traffic to your site, but you don’t have the inventory to service all of those customers, you effectively have to stop running the ads immediately to make sure that you don’t oversell any of your products. On the other hand, if you leave the ads running and sell products that you don’t actually have in your inventory, it can result in extended wait times for your customers, which is a bad first impression to make and will make them less likely to purchase from you in the future.

3) A lot of e-commerce owners think that Facebook ads, email, or whatever they choose will end up being their “magic pill.” In other words, they think that as soon as their campaigns are running that sales will come flying in and they’ll be scaling the business with no additional effort needed… This results in a lack of understanding around what the “customer-value journey” looks like. Simply put, they don’t know how to take a customer who is unaware of their brand and get them to not only become familiar with their brand but then make a purchase shortly thereafter. There is also a common misconception that driving a purchase from a new customer is the end of the customer-value journey, which is not the case. The end of the journey is the point where the customer becomes an advocate for the brand. In an ideal world, you want to make sure that every customer that purchases from you ends up saying positive things about you on social media, in-person, and anywhere else where they can communicate.

These three issues are what I call “half-built bridges.” To help put this into perspective, let’s pretend that there is a guy standing on a mountain, and he wants to reach another mountain adjacent to the one that he’s currently on. Rather than strategizing and preparing to build a bridge by sourcing all of the right materials and finding the best angle to execute, he impulsively begins building a bridge, but as soon as he doesn’t get the results that he wants and things feel like they are moving too slowly, he restarts and begins building a different bridge. Then, when that second bridge also begins to feel it isn’t making as much progress as he thought it may, he restarts and begins again. This cycle can go on for a while.

This is how e-commerce owners are approaching their marketing, operations, and websites. Rather than strategizing and preparing to execute on a well-thought-out marketing plan by making sure that everything is ready on the backend, they begin testing a bunch of small initiatives and then drop them as soon as they feel like those initiatives are not moving quickly or are not yielding the results that they were anticipating.

With that said, there are a myriad of e-commerce companies that neglect to think about how they can optimize the customer-value journey. A lot of e-commerce companies spend too much time strategizing how they can acquire new customers at the cheapest cost possible when they really need to spend more time figuring out what makes them different and how their brand impacts their consumers, causing them to want to buy again in the future. Once that’s mapped out, creating funnels and driving purchases becomes much easier moving forward. However, in order to get there, you need to ask yourself “what does the journey of your customer really look like?” If you don’t know the answer to that question, that’s where you need to be spending your time.