Attending an event? This is how to get the most out of it
Is your Pinterest marketing taking too much time? Are you ready for a better Pinterest marketing plan? Timesaving Pinterest marketing tactics can deliver more results with less effort. In this article, you’ll discover 6 tactics to help you market on Pinterest in minutes a day. Get Started on Pinterest If you haven’t already done so, […]
This post 6 Tips for Pinterest Marketing in Just Minutes a Day first appeared on Social Media Examiner.
Website hosting seems like such an easy decision.
But not all hosting is created equal.
In this episode of Technology Translated, you’ll learn what you need to know so you can make a better hosting decision for your business.
John P. is the host of GeekBeat.TV and is a former telecom executive and CMO for the data center and hosting company Layered Technologies.
Technology Translated host Scott Ellis has found no one better at explaining the nuances of hosting than John. They’re going to give you a behind-the-scenes look at how website hosts operate and think.
You might rethink your hosting choice after listening to this …
In this 31-minute episode of Technology Translated, host Scott Ellis and John P. discuss:
- The basic types of hosting
- The cost of different types of hosting
- The advantages and disadvantages of different hosting types
- What types of sites to put on what types of hosting
- The SEO impact of hosting and why good hosting drives more traffic
- Where they host their sites
- Why you should avoid cheap dedicated servers
- What to do when your traffic explodes and one server isn’t enough
Technology Translated on iTunes
The post How to Pick the Right Hosting Company for Your Website appeared first on Copyblogger.
Adwords in ‘01.
It was a goldmine – If you knew how to use it.
Twitter Ads have the potential to be the next gold rush for anyone looking to market their business.
But as with Adwords in ‘01, you need to know how to maneuver around and bend the Twitter platform to earn a ROI.
In this article we’ll look at the strategies used by 6 companies who managed to earn an ROI using Twitter Ads.
We’ll look at how their campaigns worked and why they worked. We’ll be pulling examples from all over the web, looking at companies in a variety of niches.
By the end of this article you’ll have a handful of Twitter tactics that you can take away and implement in your own business.
They won’t require you to play big. Even the smallest of takeaways could help you redefine your marketing approach.
1. The bathroom freshener that generated $73,000 in sales (94% of which came from new customers) using Twitter Ads
One thing I want to convey in this post is that you can pretty much market anything (within reason) if you know how to use Twitter Ads.
The first case study we’re going to look at is based on a company called ‘Poo-Pourri’ — a company that essentially sells a bathroom odor neutralizer.
They had already experienced some success with a viral video boosted by some YouTube Ads. The viral effect of their video allowed for them to build an organic following. They wanted to expand their efforts, so they looked into using Twitter and Facebook Ads.
The team at Poo-Pourri loves to instill humor into their ads and branding. They discovered that their Twitter audience resonated best with their comedic style.
Based on what they had found, Poo-Pourri decided that they should run a Twitter Ad campaign over the holidays.
The results were impressive:
- $73,000 in sales
- 93% sales came from new customers
- A 50% increase in basket size
The campaign targeted people who had relevant interests. They also targeted the followers of relevant Twitter accounts.
If you look at an example of a Poo-Pourri ad below, you’ll notice a number of things. Each of which contributed to their success.
- Notice how the image explains how the product works. It’s simple and easy to understand — also a bit funny. The image also makes up for limited character space too.
- Look at the ad copy. There is a little bit of humor in the first line — though you could argue that isn’t really important. What’s more important is that it gives you a reason to consider the product. Poo-Pourri helps fix the problem of knowing what to buy for someone during the holidays.
- The 20% off is also a big help. It entices people to consider the product and maybe even buy it.
If you want success with Twitter Ads, don’t worry about having a small Twitter following. Just target the right audience and consider experimenting with humor and have some fun. It’s always easy to switch to another advertisement if you’re not having luck with your original.
How you can implement the Poo-Pourri strategies into your own campaigns.
Poo-Pourri based their campaign around the holidays. However, you don’t have to wait that long. You can try and promote a campaign around an ‘Awareness day.’
Check out national-awareness-days.com to find out if there is a relevant awareness day coming up.
Piggybacking off of an up and coming awareness day. In doing so, you too might be able to boost your sales in similar fashion to Poo-Pourri.
Creating Twitter Images
If you go to http://sproutsocial.com/insights/free-image-creation-tools/, you’ll be able to view websites related to photo editing and design. The websites listed will allow for you to create some awesome images for your Twitter Ads.
This article too, lists how you can create some images for your Twitter Ads.
If you have the budget, you might even consider using a service such as 99designs, to help you create the perfect image.
When creating images, try and ensure they’re eye catching. Faces are often helpful. Though if you can explain your product in the image, that can also help.
How to create effective copy for your Twitter Ads
This article can help you create the copy for your Twitter Ads. The examples listed use proven principles related to the world of copywriting.
These principles are then condensed so that they fit the Twitter character limit.
Experiment, and see how you can adapt the ideas to your own tweets.
2. The non-profit that managed to save lives using Twitter Ads
Nonprofits are always in need of ideas that help them raise awareness for their cause.
The nature of their business means that creativity is often key. Otherwise, they won’t be able to attract any attention, in what is an already crowded space.
Here is an example of a nonprofit called ‘The British Heart Foundation’ (BHF). They used Twitter Ads to raise awareness.
The BHF wanted to teach people how to administer CPR. Normally they’d go straight to TV. This time, however, they decided to use Twitter in order to promote their video first. Their campaign lead to 1.7 million views.
They also sparked a dialogue that lead to new Twitter trends being created. The trends were based on the BHF’s initial Twitter Ad campaign.
Here’s the video (it’s really well done!):
The most important metric, however, is that they were able to save lives.
So what did they get right?
- Firstly the video itself was very entertaining. Not all companies consider using video in their ads, so that decision alone was a creative move.
- Secondly, the ad copy did a great job at developing curiosity. Upon reading it, you want to learn more.
- The company also took another step to get their message out there. That was the act of creating a promoted trend.
If you’re familiar with Twitter you’ll know that trends refer to popular topics on the platform. A lot of people check out these trends to learn what’s going on in the world. The fact that the campaign was promoted as a trend, meant that it was placed in another location where people would be able to see it.
The trend tag #hardandfast, generated curiosity, compelling people to find out more. A promoted trend, however, can be very, very, expensive. Either way, even if it weren’t for the Twitter promoted trends ad, the campaign would do well.
That is because the key to their success, was that they created an entertaining campaign. As with the ‘Poo-Pourri’ campaign, comedy on Twitter is something that seems to flourish.
How you can implement the BHF strategy into your own campaign.
Creating a Video
It can be hard to create a viral video. This Kissmetrics post gives you some tips on how to create a viral video. Yet, even still you might find it challenging.
As a result you might just search for a company that can produce a great video. You don’t have to focus on this video going viral. You just have to ensure that it does a good job at selling your offer.
A lot of people have found that demoduck.com is a good company for creating video content. Though your video’s might not go viral, you can still experience an ROI if your video does a good job at communicating your message or value proposition.
3. The restaurant chain that created its biggest opening event ever thanks to Twitter Ads
A lot of the examples mentioned in this post relate to sales and conversations taking place online. However, there are going to be some of you who want to know how Twitter Ads can produce offline results.
The next company we’re going to look at is a restaurant chain. They promoted a new opening using Twitter Ads.
Known as Poncho 8, this restaurant is commonly referred to as a burrito bar. They were already active on Twitter. Using Twitter, they mainly focused on engaging existing customers and asking for feedback.
However, when the time came for promotion, they had to take a more active approach. The change led to them using Twitter Ads.
Using the platform, Poncho8 experienced the biggest restaurant opening ever in the company’s history (there are 6 restaurants). Twitter was definitely a big reason as to why this happened.
Let’s take a look at the steps that this company took to produce such results.
Their goal was to promote the launch event. To do this they used promoted tweets and promoted accounts.
Their promoted tweets mentioned special offers and popular menu items. The copy on the ad alluded to a new restaurant opening. This can be seen with the #Paddingtoncomingsoon tag.
To ensure that the people saw their content, the company created a few promoted accounts. These promoted accounts were designed to attract followers . These users would then see more tweets on their timeline – related to the company.
The promoted account copy alludes to a new restaurant opening. The offer of freebies and food is entices people to follow the company.
Being based in London, a lot of their target market is young professionals. As a result, Poncho 8 targeted the followers of companies that had an aligning customer base.
This was done by targeting the followers of publications which were aimed at young professionals. In doing so they were able to build up a relevant audience.
Poncho 8 monitored their results and focused on the twitter accounts that were bringing them the best results. This was in terms of the Twitter accounts that had the followers Poncho 8 wanted. The constant tinkering ensured that they were always maximizing their results.
The campaign produced a 23% increase in engagement rate for their tweets. This was a sign that they were targeting the right people.
All of the effort, led to the company having a huge restaurant opening. On the day, the company experienced one of their busiest lunches ever.
How You Can Implement the Strategies Used by Poncho8
Poncho 8 did a few things to ensure that their campaign went well. Here is how you can follow in their footsteps. Keep in mind that these tips relate to offline and online campaigns.
Creating a Promoted Account
A promoted account is effective in the long run. When you have a bunch of relevant followers you can reach a lot of people without having to spend money.
If you want to create a promoted account, you’ll need to take the following steps.
Go to the Twitter Ads dashboard and click on the “Create new campaign” button.
Then pick ‘Followers.’
Give your campaign a name. In terms of run date, choose immediately. That is unless you have another strategy in mind.
Set up the creative you want, i.e. the tweets. These tweets will need to entice people into following your account. Be benefit rich and include a call to action. You can use an existing Tweet. Though you might not have any Tweets that are designed to attract followers.
Here is some inspiration:
Remember, you can use the formulas mentioned in the Poo-Pourri section. That article will help you create copy that encourages people to take action.
Set a budget for your campaign.
When choosing the price, you have the option of using an automatic bid or a maximum bid. The challenge lies in working out the lifetime value of a follower.
If you know this, you might be able to decide on a maximum bid. If you want to just get started and not worry, an automatic bid is best.
Of course, you are free to enter a very high maximum bid to ensure tweets are shown. However keep in mind that Twitter still takes into account the relevancy, recency and the resonance of a tweet. The more you can improve those metrics, the increased chances of your ad being shown instead of another ads.
How to target a competitor’s Twitter followers
Target Twitter followers that are similar to the followers of other companies.
As seen, one way to find relevant followers is by targeting the followers of relevant companies, or direct competitors.
You can either target people who are similar to the followers of your competitors, or you can target the exact followers of competitors.
If you’re going to target similar followers, this is how you’d do it.
Create a campaign and then click on the add followers tab, underneath the targeting header.
Then enter the usernames of competitors or accounts that have an audience that matches your needs.
Once you’ve entered an account that has similar followers, Twitter will let you know what the estimated audience size is. It will also let you know of other companies you might want to include in your targeting preferences.
Underneath the suggested usernames, you’ll see an option to target users like your followers. Whether or not you click this option depends on what your goals are.
Do you want more people who are like your current followers? Or do you want to attract a completely different crowd?
How to target the exact followers of another Twitter account
If you want to target the exact followers of your competitors or of a relevant company, this is how you’d do it.
You first need to compile a list of followers, based on the company you’re interested in.
You can either go to your competitors account and spend a couple of hours entering their followers into a spreadsheet, or you can use FollowerWonk.
Assuming you use FollowerWonk, this is how you’d go about the process.
To export follower CSV lists, you will need a paid subscription – though there is a free trial of 30 days.
Once you become a member, click on the ‘Analyze’ tab. This is found on the homepage. Then enter the username you want to target. Once done, use the drop down menu and pick ‘analyze their followers’
It takes a little while to create the report.
FollowerWonk struggles in terms of downloading information based on more than 100,000 followers. It will therefore take a sample size.
After a little while click on FollowerWonk reports.
You’ll then see this screen. Pick the report you want to view.
You’ll then see the report.
Click on the icon highlighted to download the data.
It will ask you what format you want.
Pick one and then the report will be created. It will take some time.
Once downloaded, delete every other column in the file apart from the screen names. Be sure to delete the line called ‘Screen names’ too.
Then go about uploading this list to Twitter. Go to the Twitter Ads Dashboard. Then click on ‘Tools’ and choose ‘Audience manager.’
Pick a list name. Then click on usernames and upload your list.
Submit it all and then wait for Twitter to approve everything.
Note that the number generally needs to be over 500. If the audience is too small and you’ll get this message.
It will look like this when complete. Twitter will remove some people from the list you’ve added. The reasons for this vary. Some accounts might be inactive for example.
Once you’re custom audience has been uploaded, create a campaign.
Then go to this section of the page.
Click on ‘Add Tailored audiences.’
You’ll then be able to target the list of followers you uploaded.
Unclick the ‘Expand reach by targeting similar users’ button.
This feature is designed to include people who might be similar to the audience you’re targeting in that list. You most likely do not want this, as it will include other people and reduce the precision of your campaign.
Excluding a List of Twitter accounts
If you look at the text that follows the button, you will notice that it explains how you can exclude the audience that belongs to your list.
That might be helpful if the list you have downloaded, includes existing customers for example. If you want to create a campaign that excludes this audience list, you’d do the following.
Scroll down and click on the ‘Browse your tailored audiences’ button.
Then as before, select your audience list. Once selected, you’ll see that the chosen list of Twitter users are now excluded from your campaign.
From there on, go ahead and create the campaign as you normally would.
Viewing Twitter analytics
If you want to quickly find out some interesting information about your Twitter account, you can head over to analytics.twitter.com.
Even if you’re not running paid Twitter Ads, you can use the page to view some analytics data, based on past tweets.
4. The Twitter Ads technique that became the main source of app downloads for this London startup
If you thought your business was in a crowded market, you might just change your mind after looking at the market for apps.
Tons of apps are coming out each and every week. Yet despite this, a London startup still managed to gain some traction with their app.
Their main source of app downloads? Yep you guessed it – Twitter Ads.
Known as Bizzby (Their story is documented here), the company found that customer value was 20% higher for leads that came through Twitter. Their Twitter leads also produced more quality installs and lead to more returning users.
So what made their Twitter Ads effective?
As with every other company mentioned so far, they first focused on their targeting. They decided to take advantage of the fact that their app relied on local services.
Using Twitter’s ability to target by location, Bizzby focused their ads on specific locations.
When they did this, they were able to convey the precise targeting in the copy. Check out the image below.
Because they were able to target by postcode, they could catch a user’s attention with personalized and relevant copy. This made the ad highly intriguing.
They also made the genius move of customizing their images – based on the device being targeted.
If they were advertising to android users, they would show what their app looks like on an android device. They did the same for an iPhone too. This added level of relevance, improved their ability to resonate with potential customers.
Bizzby continually optimized their campaign. They targeted audiences who had not downloaded their app before. The way that their campaigns were set up, meant that they were reaching new people each and every day.
There’s a lot that Bizzby got right. But by now a lot of it should not be new information. They targeted their ads as much as possible and made the copy appealing.
Something that hasn’t been previously touched upon, is that they picked the right kind of ad when setting up their campaign. The campaign was designed to drive app installs. The big button that says install makes it easy for people to do just that.
How you can implement the strategies used by Bizzby
Precise Location Targeting
Bizzby’s location targeting methods allowed for them to separate themselves from the crowd. If you’d like to try out something similar, this is how to implement that strategy.
Go to the targeting section of the campaign creator.
You have two options here. You can either enter the locations one by one or you can import a list of locations.
This is what happens when you search for locations.
Enter a postal code or a location and you’ll be presented with a drop down menu. Pick the one that is right for you.
If you want to manually import locations, click on the import locations button. You’ll then see the following screen.
When you import the locations you’ll subsequently see a drop down menu. This is allows for you to pick the right option.
Keep in mind that Twitter does not cover all areas just yet, and so there might be some errors on a few locations.
The drop down option is very useful. I’m actually looking to target the Manchester that is based in the UK, not the US one. If I click the drop down menu, I’ll be able to see the UK option of Manchester.
Once done, create your campaign as normal.
How to focus on obtaining new users
If you want to advertise to people who have not installed your app, this is how you would do it.
Click on the ‘Create new campaign’ button and select ‘App installs or engagements’.
Before you can advertise an App, you need to obtain the URL of the app. You can do this by going to the Playstore or App Store page of your app.
Visit the relevant store and copy the URL, as shown in the image below.
Then once you have this URL, go back to Twitter and click on ‘Add new App’.
Note that there is an icon here that relates to conversion tracking. You can set that up now or later. We’re going to focus on setting the app up first.
Once you click ‘Add a new app,’ you’ll be given a choice in terms of the device that you want to target. You can tailor your campaigns towards different devices. This is what the team at Bizzby did.
Ideally you’ll want to create different campaigns for each app. You’ll then have the option of having custom creatives for each app.
To do that choose the device/OS you’re looking to target and enter the URL of your app. If all goes well you should see a logo, based on the app you’re advertising. Click on save.
You’ll then see this. Click on ‘Select’ so that you can start setting up a campaign for this app.
You’ll then see this.
If you do not set up ‘conversion tracking’, Twitter will be doing a lot of guess work.
That means your ad will be shown to people who Twitter ‘thinks’ will like it. Therefore consider setting up conversion tracking on your app, to ensure you’re maximising your chances of drawing in new users.
If you want to activate conversion tracking, click on the blue link called set up conversion tracking.
You’ll then need to go through a process that will implement the tracking process.
Once done, choose the option of targeting ‘People without your app installed.’
The topic of conversion tracking on Twitter Ads can become an essay in itself. Here is a page created by Twitter, that details the concept and how you can implement it.
5. How a dating firm changed their Twitter Ads to boost CPA by 800%
Here is an example of a firm that used the Twitter Ads platform early on, but had little success. However as the platform matured and developed a better interface, the company began to see a return.
Of course they also made a few changes to the ads that they were running too.
Eventually, Twitter Ads started to produce leads that had a 20% higher chance of becoming paid customers.
Twitter’s targeting capacities, once again came to the rescue. That is thanks to the fact that they could target by location and interest.
The big wins started coming, however, when they implemented a tactic similar to the one used by ‘Poo-Pourri.’
Once HowAboutWe decided to advertise a 50% discount using Twitter Ads, the company boosted their CPA by 800%. This was in comparison to other campaigns where no discount was present.
It can be seen, therefore, that if you’re looking to run a campaign on Twitter, a discount might be something to consider.
HowAboutWe also followed a similar approach to Bizzby, in that they called out their target locations in their copy. This was another step that also went on to boost conversions.
How to implement the strategies used by HowAboutWe
If you want to target people by interest, this is how.
Create a campaign as normal. Then scroll down to the ‘additional targeting criteria’ tab.
Enter the relevant interests. You can browse categories if you need some inspiration.
The more interests you tend to add, the larger your reach.
At the moment, it seem as though people will be targeted for their individual interests.
Meaning that if you have ‘Small business’ and ‘Marketing’ – you won’t be necessarily targeting people who like one AND the other. Rather its one OR the other, with maybe some occasional crossover.
That’s how it currently seems – it might be different once you start implementing your ads. You’ll notice that as you add more interests, reach expands. This might therefore dilute your market to message match, when advertising.
Such an effect might lead to more irrelevant clicks, therefore producing lower conversions and increased ad spend.
That is, of course, assuming that ‘Interests’ are you’re only targeting method. It is better to combine this tactic with the other targeting options provided by Twitter. That way you’ll be able to laser focus your ads.
6. The SaaS company that boosted conversion rates by 22% using Twitter Ads
The SaaS world can be an easy one to reach via Twitter. After all a lot of tech savvy people hang out there and readily engage with others on the platform.
Because of this, it’s easy to see why Pingometer (a company that helps minimize website downtime), managed to boost their conversion rates by 22% with the help of Twitter Ads.
When starting out, Pingometer explained here, how they targeted the audiences of similar companies. This kind of targeting shares similarities with the restaurant mentioned earlier.
Such targeting meant that 9/10 new customers after the campaign, first heard of Pingometer because they clicked on a Twitter Ad.
The firm also got into the habit of split testing their ads, so that they could see which variations did best. By testing their own assumptions, they were able to use hard data to improve their campaigns success.
Another thing that Pingometer tested was mobile and non-mobile targeting. They experimented by changing their targeting to non-mobile only. This campaign did much better than the one targeted at mobile users.
If you’re looking to run Twitter Ads, you too should get into the habit of segmenting audiences. There is a lot that you can segment, depending on what your product is and who you’re targeting.
Putting yourself in your customers shoes can really help. Pingometer realized that web developers, for instance, were less likely to go through the sign-up process on a mobile.
When looking to apply this to your own business, you’ll want to consider the product or service you’re offering. Consider whether or not your target market would, or even could, purchase your offering on a mobile device.
In any case, what is to be learned from this campaign?
Firstly, you must figure out how you can reach your target audience.
The easiest way for Pingometer to do this was to target the audiences of similar companies. This is a shortcut used by many firms in a variety of niches.
You must also experiment with different ad variations by adjusting copy and images. A new revelation, however, is that results can be amplified by doing some segmentation, to further improve your targeting.
Targeting Specific devices
If you want to target specific devices, do the following. Go about creating a campaign as normal.
Scroll down until you see ‘Select devices and platforms’. Click on that to expand it and you will see the following.
Pick the devices you want to target and test out your ads.
If you want to be really clever, you can focus on specific devices and connection types.
Relevance is always a good idea when advertising, no matter what the platform.
The options provided, also allow for you to account for human behavior. You may, for instance, only want to advertise an app to those who are connected to WiFi. People might not want to use their data allowance just to download an app.
Consider the points mentioned when creating ads.
Tips for split testing
When split testing it is important to only make one change at a time. That will tell you what lead to a rise or fall in conversions.
Split test the headline, copy and image (if you have one).
Keeping your own swipe file is a great way to come up with brilliant ad and split testing ideas. If you see an ad you like, or you even responded to, screenshot it and store it in your Evernote. Then adapt it to fit your offering and message.
You can also monitor the results of another company or person who used a bit.ly link. To do that, copy the link and then immediately put a plus sign after it. You’ll then be greeted by a dashboard that tells you what results the link attained.
This can be helpful because it can tell you in a sense, how powerful a certain ads call to action was. That is assuming they used a bit.ly link.
Learning more about your customer
When you know more about your existing customers you can then create better ads in the future. That’s because future ads will then resonate with people who share similarities with your existing customer base.
Figure out why people chose you, or what they like best about your service. Do that using a survey tool. Qualaroo is a good tool to use for those who want to learn more about their customers.
With the information you have discovered, make the relevant changes to your ads. Tinker with them so that they appeal to your target market as much as possible. That might include changes to the copy, for instance.
You should know what kinds of problems your potential customers are currently facing. These must be problems that you can solve. You should also know why existing customers choose you instead of everyone else. Once you know that, you can implement that information into your copy.
You can also look at the analytics of your Twitter account. What content resonated the most with your user base? What tweet produced the most customers? How can you emulate pass successes?
Time to Tweet?
So there you have it, 6 companies that managed to create an ROI using Twitter Ads. Looking back at each of the niches, it seems as though a trend is emerging.
Most of the firms who obtain a great ROI with Twitter Ads, found a way to locate their potential customers on Twitter. They put a lot of effort into targeting.
If you want to earn some success with your Twitter Ads you need to know who you’re targeting and how to reach them. If you’re stuck, target the followers of competitors. You can even target companies outside of your niche, that have followers you’d like to engage.
The ad copy and images must be appealing to your target market. This will help build on your targeting efforts. Once you’ve got the targeting down to a tee, you’re free to really experiment with a number of ideas.
You might offer a discount. You could even make use of upcoming events in order to promote your offer. Remember, however, that even though Twitter is a different ad platform, a great CTA is still essential.
Many of the companies that succeeded with Twitter, made their copy entertaining and conversational. This might not apply to all niches, but it’s definitely something to experiment with.
Provided that you’re watching your numbers with an eagle eye, it should all end well. Experiment wisely, and see how you can benefit from some of the strategies mentioned.
If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to mention them in the comments below.
About The Author: Rakesh Kumar is a freelance writer and online marketer. He writes regularly on the topic of online marketing. He can help those in need of content or marketing advice.
Say you write a book and it takes off online. What if it then turned into a mega-hit … say the movie rights were sold to a Hollywood studio and Matt Damon was cast to star in it?
Don’t believe it can happen? Listen to this …
This is Andy Weir’s story, and in this podcast he explains exactly how it happened.
Oh, and you should go read his book, The Martian; it’s really great.
In this episode of Authorpreneur, host Jim Kukral and Andy Weir discuss:
- How in the heck Andy was able to make The Martian into something so big
- How he negotiated his book publishing rights and his film options
- The story of how he first got his writing noticed online
- What it feels like to learn Matt Damon is starring as a character he invented
- His long-term plans for writing more books and living as a full-time author
Authorpreneur on iTunes
The post How Andy Weir Took ‘The Martian’ from Blog to Bestseller to Blockbuster Movie (Starring Matt Damon) appeared first on Copyblogger.
“Display advertising doesn’t work.”
You’ve likely heard this. Especially if you run a SaaS company.
I’ll admit Display Advertising can be a tough nut to crack. It can take a bit longer to achieve a positive ROI depending on the length of your product’s buying cycle. Yet, Display advertising CAN work for B2B SaaS businesses. Many well-known SaaS companies already use Display to drive leads and sales. A few examples are Intuit, Zendesk, and Salesforce.
However, you don’t need to be a big start up like Dropbox with a huge ad budget. You just need to dial in your targeting, consistently A/B test and follow a proven advertising strategy.
This post outlines the 5 key components to designing an effective Display advertising campaign.
Step #1: Find the best traffic sources – Ad Networks
The first step is getting qualified prospects to your landing pages. SaaS companies need high-quality sources of traffic. They tend to target a more sophisticated audience made up of business owners and decision makers. You won’t find many “affiliate” traffic sources that cater to this audience.
Here are the 4 most used networks by SaaS businesses.
Google Display Network
BingAds is the 2nd to Google in traffic volume. Like Google, their publishers are also going to be of higher quality. The downside to BingAds is they have fewer publishers when compared to Google, making it harder to scale your campaigns. However, Bing is a great addition when you’ve already got your Google campaigns up and running.
Native Ad Networks (Outbrain and Taboola)
Native Ad Networks are the latest and greatest ad networks at the moment. They serve the “Recommended” and “Around the Web” ads you see on large publishers like Huffington Post, Business Insider and Forbes. Ads served by Native Ad Networks look like recommended content and news stories. This means the landing pages and creatives advertisers use tend to be in a different format. A few large SaaS advertisers (like Salesforce) use Native Ad Networks to drive traffic to blog posts or white papers.
Native Ad Network ads being served on Forbes.com
Prospects read the content and can opt-in to receive more information. This is a great, non “salesy” way to move prospects into your sales funnel. Some of the largest Native Ad Networks are Outbrain, Taboola, Content.Ad and rev:content.
A Direct Buy is when an advertiser bypasses ad networks and ad exchanges and buys inventory directly from a publisher. This gives you the ability to negotiate prices. You can often get a much better deal with a Direct Buy than on an exchange or network.
Step #2: Find your best customers – Publishers
A “publisher” is the website that you buy ad inventory from. For example, Huffington Post is a publisher. This is one of the most important components and one of the number one reasons why people fail with display advertising. It goes without saying that you need to get your message in front of the right audience.
You’d never sell steaks at a vegan food festival. Yet a lot of advertisers try to sell their enterprise software to prospects on celebrity gossip sites. It sounds crazy, but I see it all the time.
The first place to begin when choosing publishers is to select websites with content related to your product.
Let’s use Quickbooks accounting software as an example. Quickbooks wants to target small business owners, accountants, or anyone who is going to do the books for small businesses. Intuit (the company who created Quickbooks) buys traffic on sites like accountingweb.com and journalofaccountancy.com. Both sites contain content related to accounting. People browsing these sites will have accounting on the brain. They’ll be more receptive to an ad about accounting software.
Example of a Quickbooks ad on AccountingWeb.com
Another example is Yahoo! advertising on Search Engine Land (a website targeted at SEM and SEO professionals) for their webcast. Search Engine Land’s audience will be interested in a webcast that teaches how to write better ad copy.
User Demographic and Mindset
One of the keys to success — and best ways to scale — is to not just target sites based on their content. There are only going to be so many accounting and SEM websites out there. You’ll soon run out of options for converting publishers. However, there are hundreds of news, political and general interest sites out there.
This is where it helps to know the demographic and psychographics of your prospects. There are likely certain political, religious and general interest sites that people who might be interested in your software regularly browse. For example, someone who is republican or democrat might be more likely to be an accountant, small business owner or SEM manager. You’d then want to target sites where these people hang out.
How do you find these sites?
This is where competitive intelligence comes in. You’ll want to browse — or use competitive intelligence software — and find sites that might be relevant to your target market. Take note of who advertises on these publishers. Are you repeatedly seeing ads from other SaaS companies or even general B2B business offers? Then you know this might be a good publisher for your company as well. Keep track of these specific publishers in an excel file. Also take screenshots of their ad creatives. You’ll want to create a “swipe file” with ad creatives that work for other B2B businesses.
Common Publisher Categories For SaaS Businesses
Most SaaS businesses end up selling to other SaaS businesses. This means there are a few common publishers categories that work well for most SaaS advertisers.
- Tech News – Business owners and decision makers want to stay on the pulse of what’s going on in the tech industry. The best place to reach them is through tech news websites. Some of the most common include Mashable.com, VentureBeat.com and TheNextWeb.com.
- SEO/SEM News Sites – Business owners and employees who might use your SaaS tool are likely going to be on internet marketing websites. Specifically, SEO and SEM. You’ll see a lot of SaaS and small internet businesses advertising on publishers like Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and Search Engine Journal.
- Job Sites – Businesses are always looking for a few good men and women. It might be a bit harder to drill down to target only business owners (and not unemployed job seekers) but many SaaS businesses advertise here. One advantage to job sites is that companies with enough cash to hire new employees probably have enough cash to afford your product. A few popular publishers in this space include jobs2careers.com and Monster.com.
- General Business News Sites – Similar to tech news, anyone interested in business might read sites like Business Insider, Business.com, Fortune and Forbes. These publishers are a great place to test out the Native Ad Networks we talked about in step #1.
Step #3: Get them to click your ads – Ad Creatives
The ad creative serves the purpose of cutting through the clutter and picking your prospects out from the crowd. Most B2B SaaS companies will be best served by using straightforward offers in most of their ad creatives. This selects only the most serious customers on a given publisher.
Most B2B SaaS companies rely on two different ad creative + landing page combinations:
The Free Trial Offer and the “Ethical Bribe”.
Free Trial Offer
A simple concept: the user can sign-up for a free trial of your software. It’s can work, but it’s not always the best route to take. Why? Take a look at the usage statistics of your free trial users. The majority login once and then never again.
Examples of Free Trial ads:
You’re unlikely to get many sales or even free trial leads from Display or any other advertising channel. People are going to be hesitant about committing their time or money to anything they’re unsure about. You’ll need to educate them on how your specific solution can solve their problems. You can also show them how other companies have used your solution to solve their issues.
The way to do this is to offer an “ethical bribe”. An ethical bribe usually comes in the form of a white paper, guide or case study. The idea is to present your product in a way that convinces a prospect to at least give it their attention. Most advertisers force users to opt-in with a valid email address (and sometimes phone number) in order to download the ethical bribe. This allows the advertiser to pitch them through email marketing or even call them.
Ensighten creates software to help businesses manage their websites more effectively. This ad leads to an opt-in page to receive their free report, “How Enterprise Data and Tag Management Will Boost Conversions & Revenue Beyond Your Expectations”
The “ethical bribe” is more commonly used than the free trial offer. Most SaaS products require more customer education in order for the prospect to see the value of their software and even consider giving it a test run.
Ad Creative Formula
The best way to design higher converting ad creative is not to reinvent the wheel. The best strategy is to analyze the ad creatives of other SaaS companies (competitors and non-competitors) and “copy” their successful template. You can be sure that a specific “formula” is working well if it’s being used over and over again.
Here’s a basic formula you can follow. It might not be the optimal design for your specific product, but it will do the job 90% of the time.
- Company Colors – Most companies tend to use the colors that are shown on their landing page/logo. This helps the prospect begin to associate those specific colors with your brand. For example, the green in the Quickbooks ad above captures your eye and you begin to associate that color with Quickbooks (green is a great color for them because it’s also the color of money).
- Company Logo – SaaS advertisers also tend to use their logo within the ads to further the effort of brand recognition.
- Product image – Besides the logo, they usually show screenshots of the software being used on a monitor or phone. This instantly signals that they’re going to be led to a page all about a specific piece of software. If you’re doing lead generation with a white paper or guide, you can even put together a picture of an eBook cover or a PDF. Anything that makes it transparent what the user will receive when they click through tends to work very well.
- Benefit Driven Copy – Your copy should be benefit driven. You don’t want to list out what technical features your product includes. You want to list out the benefits your prospects receives by clicking through and signing up for a free trial or by downloading your ethical bribe.
- Call-To-Action Button – No need to get fancy here. All you need to do is tell them what they’ll receive after they click your ad. A simple “Download Your Free Guide” is often all you’re going to need. Buttons in your ad creative tend to work well because people are used to clicking on them. They see a button and they immediately know it’s meant to be clicked. Avoid using just simple text unless you find a way to make it stand out.
Here are a few different ads that follow the above guidelines quite well:
Step #4: Get them to convert – Landing Pages
The success of your Display campaigns has less to do with your ad creative, and more to with what happens after the click.
You can have the best copy. The best images. And the highest quality traffic. Yet, if your landing page isn’t designed for conversions… say goodbye to positive ROI.
The good part about landing pages for SaaS businesses is that simplicity seems to reign supreme here. You won’t need a fancy video sales letter or long-form sales page to get people to convert. You can just follow the formula of what the most successful SaaS Display advertisers are doing.
Ethical Bribe Landing Pages
These landing pages follow up on your offer of some sort of “ethical bribe” in exchange for your prospect’s contact info. These pages tend to be pretty simple and focused on one goal, which is getting their email address. Also a great way to cookie someone for retargeting for a webinar, more free content, free trial or a direct sale.
“Ethical bribe” landing page used by Tableau.
Tableau is data visualization and business intelligence software.
A large graphic right below the header with a headline that calls out what the prospect will get if they opt-in to receive the ethical bribe. In this case that comes in the form of a white paper that gives you five of the best practices for creating an effective dashboard. Below the call-to-action there is a bit more text, which explains what is contained in the whitepaper and why you should download it. Further down the page there is a short testimonial and a brief overview of what Tableau software does.
Free Trial Landing Pages
Offer your prospects a free trial to test out your software. This requires a different style of landing page, albeit very simple to design. Even though the trial is free, you’ll still have to get them excited enough about your product to actually use their free trial, because most people don’t.
One landing page Kissmetrics has tested out to get free trial sign-ups.
Most free trial landing pages (like the Kissmetrics page above) include a few paragraphs of info about the product and what it does. These landing pages usually include the free trial sign-up for directly on the page. Very rarely will an advertiser make their prospect click through to another page to sign-up for a free trial.
So now you’ve got your traffic, your ad creatives and your optimized landing pages. But what happens if the people that come to your site don’t convert? Step #5 could be the most important part of your Display funnel, so read on.
Step #5: Didn’t convert? Follow-up with them.
The vast majority of people who see your landing page will neither sign-up for a free trial, opt-in or directly purchase your product, EVEN if you do steps 1-4 perfectly.
However, not all is lost. There is a way to follow-up with prospects who have already seen your page. This is called “retargeting”. It works like this: a user hits your page and is tagged with a piece of code (called a cookie). That cookie allows you to follow them around and serve them ads on other websites. Some people call them “stalker ads”. It might seem a bit creepy, but it works.
Retargeting works because people are busy. They might want your product, but something might have distracted at the moment of purchase/sign-up and now they’ve moved on. People need to be constantly reminded.
Retargeting is especially important for SaaS businesses with long sales cycles and high price points. Since the user has already seen your site and is familiar with your brand, most SaaS companies hit them with a free trial during their retargeting campaigns, not the initial campaigns.
Retargeting ad creatives lean more towards being “branding” style ads. The prospect has already seen your site and has some familiarity with your brand. You don’t necessarily need to state what you do. You just need to give them a quick reminder of what your software is about (in this case “The #1 Website Optimization Tool”). Most retargeting ad creatives follow the simple formula of having a large headline, the brand’s logo and a big call-to-action.
“Branding” style remarketing ad. Shows the logo, basic text and a large call-to-action
As mentioned in the previous section, MuleSoft sends most cold traffic to a lead generation page where they can download a white paper. Once they’ve downloaded the white paper and are sold on the benefits of using MuleSoft in their business, they’re more likely to sign-up for a free trial.
Optimizely uses a simple free trial landing page that gives the user no other option but to test it out
Although the example of Optimizely is very basic, you can get things advanced very quickly with retargeting. You can show different offers, messages and opt-in opportunities depending on how long it’s been since they’ve visited the page. You can show different messaging to users who hit specific pages (e.g. someone who looks at your “tour” page might receive a different message than someone who just looks at the home page).
All of that is quite advanced and goes beyond the scope of this beginner post. But trust me when I tell you that retargeting is very powerful tool that ALL businesses should be using.
While the strategies in this post will get you started, I can’t emphasize enough that the key to seeing success with paid advertising is patience. Things will often not work on the first go. That’s okay. The key is to do your competitive intelligence and see what other companies are doing successfully and then test that out. Testing and patience are two of the most important aspects of Display, bar none. But trust me when I tell you that the sky is the limit when you get paid advertising converting. It’s one of the best ways to get a steady stream of customers and I highly recommend that any business take advantage of this amazing channel.
About the Author: Mike is the Founder of Adbeat, an advertising intelligence tool that will help you find your competitor’s advertising strategy at a glance on 100,000+ websites – view competitors winning ad copy, best website placements, and landing pages. Learn more about digital media strategy on the Adbeat blog.
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