Choosing a hot-topic or controversial niche in the German market

Niche research

Sometimes niches that divide opinions among people can end up being the best-selling campaigns. In the USA for example, guns are a hot-topic discussion item and a popular choice for t-shirt campaigns. On an international level, a country’s military force could also be a controversial topic. Usually people are either very proud to be part of the army, or they are opposed to it. This kind of controversy tends to encourage passionate opposition and support groups related to the issue. When people are passionate about something they like to speak their mind and share their opinion; for this reason these groups are more likely to purchase a t-shirt that reflects their opinion.

Do some research to see if there are any rivalries within a niche you’re considering for a campaign; in this case study we’ll be looking at military forces in Germany. Go through forums, look up memes, slogans etc. related to this niche to get a better understanding of how your target audience feels; what they like, what they don’t like, popular sayings/expressions, general sentiment on the issue, etc.

Design research

While performing research on Germany’s military forces we noticed a common theme; rivalry between the army and the air force. As a result, this is the niche we decided to target for our campaign. Once you’ve decided on a niche get design inspiration from similar campaigns in other markets such as the US. You can do this by searching online for t-shirt slogans in the army niche for example. If you find a good design, modify it according to your needs and check if the slogan translates well into the language of your target market. Keep in mind that certain graphics featured in your design might vary from country to country as well. For example, the standard German air force plane looks different from the American one. Also, when instructing your designer it’s important to send him/her exact or similar example images of what the graphic (in this case the plane) should look like. You can also take screenshots of a particular font or text style you like; sending specific examples like this gives your designer a clear understanding of what you want…which can save everyone time, effort and money.

Example of instructions to send to designer:

Campaign set-up

Because our target niche (army) is male dominated the Standard Unisex t-shirt is the best choice for the first style (in Autumn/Winter we recommend making hoodies your first style – it allows you to earn a higher profit margin). Choose shirt colors which suit your design and niche. What colors does the German army usually wear? After doing some research we found that black, navy and forest green are the uniform colors. Choose a few more styles, like long-sleeve shirts, sweatshirts or hoodies and also include a women’s item (like women’s t-shirt, tank top, or v-neck) so they aren’t excluded as a potential customer. Since you’re targeting people living in Germany your main currency should be Euros; set the price for tees around EUR 18.99 including VAT and for hoodies around EUR 29.99 including VAT.

(“On the 8th day God created the air force because the army needs heroes too.”)

(“On the 8th day God created the air force because the army needs heroes too.”)

Use a short and catchy campaign description and be sure to keep the amount of text limited; if your campaign description is too long, the BUY NOW button gets pushed down too far on the campaign page. Schedule your campaign duration for 7 – 10 days and launch it (click here for the recommended weekly schedule)!

Ad targeting

Because this niche is very specific we don’t need to bother with a wide range of interests; keep it simple and focused on Air Force related entries. Usually we would suggest targeting 25 year-olds or older (because of their purchasing power), but in this case anyone over the age of 18 can join the Air Force and younger audiences tend to engage with ads more (by liking/sharing), so we will set our target age group to 18 – 54 years old. Young people (18 to 22/25 year olds) are usually excluded in targeting because they don’t have extra money to buy your product or they don’t have a credit card yet. This age group is very engaged, i.e. they tend to like, share and comment on ads a lot, however, they rarely buy the product. The bad thing about this is you pay for their engagement (likes, shares) but don’t achieve sales.

FB page

The Facebook page created for this campaign features a positive and relevant title (“Proud Military Member”), a suitable banner and profile picture icon. The page was pre-populated with some articles and memes before the ads were launched. Particularly for PPE ads you can also already create the post you want to promote with your FB ad later.

Ad text

You’ll want to use short, catchy text for your ads and use a clear call to action (i.e. click here, share with your friends, etc.). For example:

  • Are you proud to be a member of the air force? Click like => Engage people
  • Click here to get yours ⇒ [your link] => Give them the link to buy from
  • Share the post with your buddies => Shares have the highest value (expand audience)

Ad types

If you are unsure about what ad types work best for this audience then perform a few tests. Ad effectiveness can vary from account to account. Facebook assigns a value to every private FB account and thus different ad types may perform differently from person to person. So do some testing and decide for yourself which ad types work best for you. In this case study  we set up a Website Conversion ad as well as a PPE ad. The budget was split up between these two ads and all ad settings (audience, image, ad text etc.) were kept the same.

Website Conversion Ad

With Website Conversion Ads the campaign page URL is embedded in the picture of the ad. When someone clicks on your ad they are immediately directed to the campaign page.

  • Image dimensions: 600×315
  • 614 people engaged with the ad though likes, shares, website clicks etc.
  • Actual website clicks: 249
  • The 3 sales happened within the first 48hrs and 15 GBP spent, then stopped according to FB
  • High relevance score  (10/10) and reasonable CTR (the CTR should be above 3% for Newsfeed ads)

PPE Ad

With PPE ads you need to include the campaign URL in the ad text; people who click on this ad will see an enlarged picture on FB (which counts as a click but not a “website click”). In order for them to see the campaign page they have to click specifically on the link you’ve included in the ad text as shown below.

  • Image dimensions: 1000×1000
  • 2480 people engaged with the ad, they viewed the ad, liked it, shared it etc.
  • Actual website clicks (campaign URL in description): 112
  • 2 sales have derived from this ad according to FB
  • Cost per Engagement: Good (ideally you want to spend between 3 and 10 cents/pence per engagement)
  • High relevance score (10/10) and good CTR
  • (6% is above the average of 4.5%)

Analysis

23 items were sold but Facebook only recorded 5 through the pixels. Keep in mind Facebook doesn’t always show accurate values; when people buy through shares for example, the conversion count gets lost. Ideally use Google Analytics or Variable Tracking when testing different ads as a second source of data (click here to learn more).

This campaign broke even; the amount spent on the ads and the ad testing as well as the design cost were covered by the profit generated by item sales. Even though we did not make a large profit, this campaign can still be considered a success because:

  • You started building a niche (FB page followers & retargeting pool) and found an interested audience you can build on (launch new campaigns in this niche)
  • Even though the campaign didn’t go viral, it’s clear this niche likes the type of design you used; this means we can start exploring more designs that could appeal to this market even more
  • You gained more insight on what this niche likes; what item types are most popular, what colors are most popular, etc.

Extra Tips

When you pick a controversial niche your ads may receive negative comments (i.e. against war and military) ⇒ do not take these comment personally and do not engage with the person who posted it. Hide negative comments as quickly as possible (make sure to “hide” these comments, do not delete them; when you “hide” a comment it is only visible to that person and their friends – if you delete a comment the person can get angry and start posting more!