How We’ve Connected Salary to Both Personal and Company Growth

Comp.

Whether you finish the rest of that word with -ensation or -licated, compensation is an important piece of running a business and hiring a great team. 

We are dedicated to creating a great place to work where team members understand how they can grow and develop at Tuff. Also, as a bootstrapped team, it is important for each of us to understand how our spend impacts our overall profit and ability to help our clients grow. 

To support these behaviors, we compensate our team in two ways: Base Salary tied to a Career Framework and Profit Sharing

Base Salary through a Compensation Formula

We wanted to create a compensation formula that was flexible enough to adjust for factors like experience and location but broad enough that it didn’t require in depth calculations and research every time we bring on a new team member. 

It was also important to us to use a data source and apply structure to our salaries to reduce bias and hold us accountable to paying people fairly. 

We wanted simplicity and objectivity. Enter: a compensation formula.

We share this with the whole team:

We’ll break it all down below.

Role Salary: How do Levels & Steps work?

We’ve created a Career Framework with a system of Levels and Steps for each role to make sure teammates have the opportunity to grow in flexible ways. 

Levels: Levels make up the vertical axis of the career framework. At Tuff, there are 5 levels for individual contributors: Entry, Intermediate, Advanced, Expert, and Principal. Levels are defined for each role at Tuff and mark distinct jumps in terms of area knowledge, role complexity, and scope. 

Steps: Steps make up the horizontal axis of the career framework. At Tuff, there are 5 steps housed within each Level and are meant to mark smaller milestones of growth. Steps are defined at a company level, not specific to your role. Rather, they are defined by increasing amounts of Ownership and Initiative. 

Using this Career Framework, we’ve entered early-stage company salary data at each level of experience for every role at Tuff. 

Here it is in action for our Growth Marketer role:

Cost of Living Multiplier: How do we adjust for remote?

We have been remote from the start and a big piece of that decision was wanting to access talent from anywhere in the world. We chose a high cost of living city as our benchmark so we can keep our salaries competitive. 

We start by understanding the difference in cost of living in the team member’s city compared to San Francisco. Using Numbeo, we calculate the Adjusted Cost of Living + Rent Index to compare two cities. Then, using this number the city falls into a defined Cost of Living Band. 

Adjusted Cost of Living + Rent Index

This compares the Cost of Living + Rent Index between two cities. By starting with a base of $1,000 in San Francisco, we look up how much money we would need to have the same standard of living as the city we’re comparing. 

Cost of Living Bands

By finding the Adjusted Cost of Living + Rent Index, each city falls into one of the following bands:

 

The Cost of Living Multipliers

These calculations help us get to the final number needed for the compensation formula. Once we know what Cost of Living Band a city falls in, we can use the Cost of Living Multiplier to reach our final base salary. 

Putting it all together

As a reminder, here is our compensation formula:

Let’s pretend we’re about to make an offer to a new Growth Marketer on the team who is based out of Portland. We were looking to hire someone who fell into our Level 4 definition of a Growth Marketer and we found someone great! 

We decided to make them an offer at Level 4, Step 2 and pull that Role Salary from our Career Framework.

To dive deeper into our compensation formula, you can view our spreadsheet here →.

Profit Sharing

The other piece to how we compensate Tuff employees is through Profit Sharing. 

Because we’re a small team, everyone works directly with clients and shares responsibility in driving their growth. The more our client’s grow, the more we grow and we wanted that to reflect in our compensation. We don’t offer the traditional stock options that some startups and public companies do but Tuff’s team members are critical to our success on every level.

We distribute profit sharing on a quarterly basis so once you’ve been at Tuff for a quarter, you are eligible. We look at Tuff’s profit balance, your time at Tuff, and your performance to calculate each team member’s share. 

At this point in Tuff’s growth, the amount we offer in profit sharing is quite low. It’s not going to give someone the ability to retire anytime soon! But, it’s important to us to offer profit sharing so early because each team member truly is an owner in our Tuff’s growth. 

Continue Reading

We’ve worked closely as a team to develop our compensation formula and to make the decision to offer profit sharing. 

While building our own version that works for Tuff, we’ve also leaned on some great existing resources. If you’re interested in learning more about compensation formulas and profit sharing, here are some of our favorite reads:

A team of marketers sitting at a table with computers.

Best Growth Marketing Agencies in Nashville in 2020

A team of marketers sitting at a table with computers.

There are a ton of great growth marketing agencies in Nashville and it can be hard to stay on top of them all. Since we have team members throughout the US, I spend time researching agencies in the cities we operate in, including Nashville. 

In this post, I’d love to share 10 growth marketing agencies in Nashville who have been partnering with clients to drive meaningful results. Some of these agencies specialize in specific tactics, like SEO or Google Ads, and others offer more end-to-end solutions. 

  1. Social Link 
  2. Tuff
  3. redpepper 
  4. Spark Marketer 
  5. Speak Creative 
  6. Astute Communications
  7. Dash Two 
  8. Taillight 
  9. Parachute Media
  10. LSM 

Social Link 

Growth marketing agency website in Nashville.

Social Link was founded in 2018 with a mission to connect people with your brand. 

Their primary focus is on digital marketing strategy using inbound marketing. The agency’s expertise includes Brand Strategy, Lead Generation and Nurturing, and HubSpot Developer and Partner. 

Social Link has 11 strong reviews on Google and the team is led by Brady O’Rourke. 

Sample of clients: Remax, Best Western, and North Shore  

Tuff 

Screenshot of marketing website.

Tuff is a plug-in growth marketing agency for hire. The team was founded in 2017 by Ellen Jantsch and hired it’s first Tennesee employee in 2019. Since then, the agency has grown it’s client base in Nashville and surrounding areas.

They are a small, fully remote team that specializes in tactics like: Conversion Rate OptimizationTechnical SEO ImplementationFacebook and Instagram Ads, Google Shopping, Google Search, Display Ads, YouTube Ads, Retargeting, Content Strategy, Link Building, Influencer Marketing and Email.

Sample of clients: Thalamus, CITI Program, and WatchBox 

Case study: Felt 

redpepper 

redpepper is a full-service agency that specializes in branding and creative services. They are experts when it comes to brand design and brand identity. 

The agency was founded 15 years ago and the team now has 60 full-time employees. redpepper was founded by Tim McMullen and they’ve worked on brand projects for some top companies in the US. 

Sample of clients: Slack, Verizon, and Mars 

Case study: Urbane 

Spark Marketer

Spark Marketer is a one-stop-shop for local service and small business owners looking to navigate the world of online marketing and social media. They work with HVACs, Restaurant Owners, Remodeling Contractors, and other local businesses. 

The agency was founded in 2012 by Taylor Hill and Carter Harkins and has 16 full-time employees. If you’re a local business, Spark Marketer could be a great fit. 

Sample of clients: A to Z Window Screen, Winston’s Chimney Service, and Legacy Hill Dentistry

Speak Creative

Jacob Savage founded Speak Creative in 1991. Since then, they’ve partnered with dozens of brands to help them with website development and brand identity. 

The agency describes the team of 42 as “web design company with a passion for all things digital” and they can help you with things like mobile app development, video production, and website design. 

Sample of clients: Ballet Memphis, OKC Zoo, and BROOKS  

Case study: Graceland

Astute Communications

Astute Communications is a digital marketing and web design agency that focuses on developing cohesive brands and comprehensive digital strategies that generate leads and grow businesses. 

The agency was founded in 2013 by Anna Stout, a web designer and developer with a background in business development, the company was built to create harmony between client interests and production realities. It’s a smaller shop, with 9 full-time employees. 

Sample of clients: Nashville recovery center, aerial innovations, and vintage millworks

Case study: Verdi Oncology 

Dash Two  

Dash Two is a digital marketing firm headquartered in Culver City, CA, with a second team and location in Nashville. The agency was founded in 2009 and now has 30+ team members. 

Dash Two specializes in end-to-end digital marketing, with solutions for paid ads, landing pages, conversion rate optimization, and data and analytics. 

One thing that makes Dash Two particularly unique is that they combine the power of online channels with more traditional marketing like billboards, print, and outdoor advertising. 

Sample of clients: Adidas, Puma, and Universal Studios 

Case study: Klarna 

Taillight 

Taillight is a creative video production company based in Nashville. The agency was founded in 2000 by Tom Forrest and has a team of 10 employees that provide video production, branding, and content marketing services.

The team has extensive video production experience and focuses on TV programming for live music specials, comedy specials, awards shows, original series.

Sample of clients: CMT, Glow, and Hallmark 

Case study: Lady Antebellum Global Tour 

Parachute Media 

Parachute Media is a go-to creative agency in Nashville with a passion for brand-storytelling. The agency was founded in 2012 and now has 13 full-time employees. 

The agency’s expertise include photography, web design, data and analytics, reputation management, brand development, and paid ads. 

Parachute Media strive to have their clients view them as their in-house team rather than a distant, third-party agency.

Sample of clients: Kirkland, Alpha Park, and Camping with Dogs 

Case study: Evolve Pet Food 

LSM 

LSM is a 50+ person agency focused on helping local and small businesses succeed with online marketing. The majority of the team is located in Tennessee with support from an Indonesia office. 

The agency was founded in 2006 by Tevor Emerson and has since helped hundreds of business owners build and grow their online presence. This includes services such as local reputation management, local SEO, website design, and more. 

Sample of clients: DMMG, European Wax Center, and YMCA

Case study: Title Boxing

Woman on a video call.

When You Sign Up For a Discovery Call with Tuff

Whether you are curious about our team and how we work, or you’d like to know your growth marketing potential, we’d love to chat with you.

The first step is to schedule a 30-minute discovery call with us.

This is a pressure-free conversation (30-minute discovery call) about what you’re trying to achieve and whether or not our teams could be successful together. 

Here’s what you can expect on the call: 

When you sign up for a discovery call, you can plan for a 30-ish minute conversation with our team to discuss:

  • Practical tips on your existing marketing strategy 
  • Your challenges with and opportunities for your company’s user acquisition 
  • How we plug-in teams with on-demand growth marketing services
  • An honest conversation about whether or not we’re a good fit 

During this call, we’ll ask you questions about your business and what you want from a partner. Things like: 

  • What are your north star goals and core KPIs?
  • What are your existing acquisition channels?
  • How much are you spending on ads currently?
  • Do you have any major roadblocks right now? 
  • What’s an acceptable CAC or CPS? What’s the ideal CAC, CPL, or CPS? 
  • Do you have someone working with you today? 
  • If you’re looking for a partner, what’s your ideal timing? 
  • If you are looking for a marketing and growth partner, what are you looking for with that relationship? 

We’ll also spend a chunk of your time sharing a bit more about Tuff – our team, how we work, what the first 30 days of working together looks like, how we structure our weekly marketing sprints, what tactics we specialize in, and how we get good results. We want you to get to know us, honestly. 

What happens after the discovery call? 

After the discovery call, if everything makes sense and feels good, we’ll get access to your core accounts. This data gives us the insights we need to prepare a custom partnership proposal. 

The accounts we typically get access to include:  

  • Google Analytics 
  • Google Search Console 
  • Facebook Ads Manager
  • Google Ads 

Using this data and insight, we’ll then put together a Partnership Proposal that puts down on paper what working together would look like. 

If it doesn’t feel like a good fit or we don’t think we can help you achieve your goals, we’ll send you over a list of vetted agencies and freelancers we think could help. Our goal is to be as helpful as possible and get you paired with the right growth marketing talent – whether that’s our team or someone else. 

Ready to chat? Let’s talk. 

iPhone scrolling on YouTube.

How to Make YouTube Ads Work For Your Startup

iPhone scrolling on YouTube.

Advertising doesn’t work unless people see it. This obvious piece of analysis guides all aspects of marketing, and explains everything from the cost of ads (those Super Bowl commercials don’t come cheap) to their overall impact. Thankfully, you don’t have to take out a full-page ad in the New York Times to get broad exposure. YouTube advertising has evolved along with the company’s transition into a media megalith, and now offers opportunities for established businesses and startups alike to reach practically any audience. 

As the world’s second-largest search engine, YouTube can not only spark interest in your startup, but also push traffic to your website. Whether your work is B2C or B2B, YouTube advertising can and will provide an engaging avenue to connect with your target audience. Best of all, you can build and nurture an established channel to maintain direct contact with your consumers, and thereby establish the all-important trust you need for startup growth. Before we get into all that, though, let’s consider some statistics.

YouTube by the Numbers

Many people have the impression that YouTube only matters to young people. This simply is not true. Regardless of your target audience, YouTube offers an encompassing platform to reach practically any demographic. Consider the following info YouTube ad stats, with some of our favorites highlighted below: 

In the years since this study, YouTube’s growth has only continued to accelerate. Overall, 73 percent of all adults in the U.S. now utilize YouTube in some fashion. Think about that for a moment. YouTube advertising exists on a platform that reaches almost three-quarters of the population. When you consider that the highest rated television broadcast of all time, the final episode of M*A*S*H, reached only 60 percent of people who owned a television, YouTube’s pervasiveness becomes mind-boggling. No other piece of media, not a television show, billboard, or newspaper ad in the world can approach YouTube’s level of influence.

An additional myth persists that YouTube users are primarily young men. In reality, women are just as likely to utilize the platform as men. As for education level and household makeup,  YouTube users are more likely than non-users to have both a college degree and children. What does this all mean? It shows that, whether your target audience is twenty-something men, 35-year-old women, retired couples, young families, or anyone else, YouTube advertising offers a clear line of communication.

Get in on the Action

Hopefully, these statistics have showcased the value of YouTube advertising for early-stage companies. Numbers aside, you still need a clear strategy to get started. Of course, your ultimate goal is to create a brilliant ad that resonates with your audience and leads them to your website. Before visiting your website, however, many of those target audience members will want to see what other videos you have available. To get the most out of YouTube advertising, make sure you have first developed a channel that offers relevant, compelling content. 

Everyone wants a viral video. The problem is, without an established channel, a viral video acts like a one-hit wonder. It might bring you some notoriety, but it won’t help your brand over the long term. Think of it this way: would you rather your brand be the Rolling Stones, or Vanilla Ice? One of these has an established record of hits over many years, with each new hit driving renewed attention to a back catalog of other hits. The other made a big splash, then disappeared entirely. For sustainable YouTube advertising over the long term, in which you develop an audience alongside your brand, you don’t just need a viral video. You need the strong foundation of an established channel. Here are some of our favorite YouTube ad examples for inspiration. 

How to Build Your YouTube Advertising Channel

The way you build a channel is through the regular education of your audience on issues and topics that matter to them. If you are consistent in the production and quality of your efforts, you will develop the asset that all brands want: an audience you can count on for future growth. Your goal with a YouTube channel is not to generate loads of traffic, but rather to establish a loyal audience. The value of an audience is the creation of a brand relationship. For example, Volvo did an excellent job establishing an audience on its YouTube channel. When a particular video starring Jean-Claude Van Damme went viral, they were able to capitalize on the infrastructure of their established channel. 

To establish a brand, you want to create content that both educates and entertains your audience. To lure viewers back again and again, your content must have utility. For example, BigCommerce, which is an open SaaS e-commerce platform, did an excellent job with this. The company utilizes its YouTube advertising channel to host educational videos in a series branded as BigCommerce University. Some of the videos address valuable topics not directly related to BigCommerce, such as tutorials on keyword research and SEO

Another way to build your channel is to use consistent themes and characters. Nasty Gal, an online fashion retailer, created a series of behind-the-scenes videos that show how its team functions, and gives viewers the opportunity to watch photo shoots and other activities. The result? Almost 12,000 subscribers and 2 million YouTube views. 

Lastly, you want to bolster education with some key elements of entertainment. These could include everything from a short narrative, to a celebrity appearance, how-to video, or provocative elements that spike viewer interest. Also, when it comes to celebrities, you don’t need Taylor Swift. So-called micro-celebrities have generated notoriety not through movies or the music industry, but through Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. In addition to availability, these micro-celebrities will already have their own platform to share your content.

To summarize, keep in mind the following rules for the establishment of a successful YouTube advertising channel:

  • Page views are less important than subscribers.
  • Educate your viewer on things that matter to them.
  • Use consistent characters and themes.
  • Spike interest through entertainment.

Find Your Target Audience

Of course, YouTube advertising won’t do much unless you gain exposure to the right people. There are many ways to accomplish this, and the implementation of more than one strategy will aid your overall effort. 

First of all, you want to make sure that any ads you create appear on videos similar to your own content. Choose topics that fit your niche, and try to get as specific as possible. One beneficial tool is Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords). This helps with your search engine marketing on Google, but can also be linked to your YouTube advertising channel. If you use Google Ads, you can take advantage of topic categories to place your ad within a similar video. Google Ads also lets you target specific YouTube videos. If you do this, however, make sure that the videos you choose have enough traffic to serve your advertising goals.

In addition to these, YouTube offers three options for advertisers to target new customers:

  • Retargeting
  • Affinity Audiences
  • Life Events

Retargeting

Retargeting can mean one of two things. One the one hand, it means you incentivize the return of someone who visited your site but did not convert. When you retarget to this audience through YouTube advertising, they see an ad meant only for them. This ad reminds them about your startup and attempts to bring them back, sometime with an exclusive offer or coupon.

Retargeting can also occur through YouTube when you market to people who viewed your videos. When you retarget a group of people, you have to make sure that you match the message to that particular market. For specific information on how to retarget with YouTube, you can find detailed instructions here

If you use Google Ads, there are many different ways you can reach an audience with a display ad. For example, you can use not only YouTube, but also Gmail, search listings, and Display Network. This last venue is a group comprised of more than 2 million websites, apps, and videos that will run your ads. Display Network has an incredibly broad influence, and reaches more than 90 percent of internet users. 

Retargeting YouTube ad audiences.

Affinity Targeting

Affinity targeting presents another way to aim your ads at the right people. With this, you define exactly who you want to reach. When you factor in a consumer’s most recent and ongoing interests, you can rest assured that your message will reach the right people. YouTube allows you to create custom affinity options for your ideal audience. To define who this is, you will want to use:

  • Keywords that reflect personal interests
  • Where people live, or types of places that interest them
  • Apps they may use

Affinity targeting can accomplish a great deal for certain types of startup marketing efforts. For example, if you are currently engaged with the establishment of your brand, have real-time content you want people to see, and need to increase market reach with incremental conversions, affinity targeting can work wonders.

Life Events

One final YouTube advertising strategy involves the use of Life Events. This option allows you to target specific consumers as they achieve a personal milestone or experience an important life event. If done correctly, the ad you create can trigger a strong emotion. This type of reaction from a viewer can forge an intense personal bond between them and your brand. Life Events you can target include:

  • The creation of a business
  • Colege graduation
  • Changing a job
  • Marriage
  • Moving to a new city
  • Buying a home
  • Retirement

Youtube ad targeting options.

Let’s Get Creative

Once you’ve done all this preparatory work, you can finally get to the creative aspect of your YouTube advertising: choosing which particular type of ad to run. To make the most of your ad, you need to gain the familiarity necessary to develop your chosen format in a dynamic, engaging way.

Example of a YouTube ad.

The main types of YouTube advertising you can run include:

TrueView In-Stream: These ads play before a video. As a marketing tool, they offer a pathway to your website. However, your audience can choose to skip the ad. In-stream YouTube advertising tends to work better in retargeting campaigns, and can result in more subscribers to your channel.

TrueView Discovery: These show up on the right-hand area of the video viewer, on search result pages, and as thumbnails on a person’s homepage within YouTube. The best time to use Discovery YouTube advertising is for traditional search campaigns, prospecting efforts, and retargeting.

Bumper Ads: These short ads come in at less than six seconds. They appear prior to a video, and can create an instantaneously strong impression. Bumper ads are an excellent tool to employ during a retargeting campaign.

When you market your startup through YouTube advertising, it’s important to remember that you’ve entered into an ongoing process. With the analytics provided through tools like Google Ads, you can monitor and continually refine your campaigns. Though marketing a new company in the jungle that’s the internet can feel intimidating, you’ve got a massive platform in YouTube. If you employ the right tools, you will capture the audience you need for long-term success.

Youtube ad platform.

How YouTube Ads Work + 5 YouTube Ad Campaign Examples

YouTube ad example from NBA.

Admit it: we kind of take YouTube for granted. The website that began as a simple nexus for amateur video has become a media titan, to the extent that many people don’t appreciate its enormous influence. Believe it or not, YouTube is the third-most visited site in the world, behind only Facebook and Google. Each and every month, people consume 6 billion hours of video on YouTube. To have such an enormous audience on a single platform is rare, and it makes sense that YouTube ads have become a preferred marketing technique for many businesses.

When it comes to advertising, YouTube provides clear benefits that have made it immensely popular. Consider the following YouTube Ad stats in 2020: 

Clearly, YouTube has a massive reach. It is a unique hybrid of social media site and search engine, and draws in viewers for a host of reasons. As a search engine, YouTube ranks behind only Google, as users use it to find info on everything from World War II, to how to unclog a toilet.

In terms of interaction, YouTube is the third-largest social media network. If you accept Forbes’ claim that all internet users want either information or social interaction, YouTube manages to provide both. Its reach is so encompassing, it actually engages more people between the ages of 18 and 49 than either broadcast or cable TV.  Think about that for a moment, and consider the benefits of advertising on a platform that reaches the widest possible audience. 

How to Advertise on YouTube

Like any advertising tool, the way to garner the most benefits from YouTube ads hinges on your strategy. Aalap Shah is the founded of 1o8, a Chicago-based digital marketing agency. 

“What I find most useful is to treat YouTube ads as you would normal out-of-home ads on TV,” says Shah. “You have a shorter format, a compelling hook at the start, and you use all the targeting features (including banners and re-marketing) to make the ad pop and become memorable.”

Not all YouTube ad campaigns are created equal, and each should grow from a clearly established marketing strategy. For example, before you can create effective YouTube ads, you must identify your target audience. If you want to reach different demographics, you will need to design specialized content for each. Among the top 100 advertisers who utilize YouTube, 56 of them have more than 10 channels, with each targeted on a specific sector. 

To identify a target audience, create distinctions between factors like age, gender, location, level of education, and occupation. For example, let’s say you want to promote weight loss tips. If you search YouTube simply for weight loss, you’ll receive over 175 million results. That’s an ocean of competition, and your carefully crafted advertising will sink without a trace. If you search for “weight loss tips for women”, you suddenly narrow down the results to 23.8 million. If you further refine your search, you might end up with something like “weight loss tips for women over 60”. This brings the number of results down to a relatively lean 871,000. 

This search process is one among many ways you can identify an audience through YouTube. You can also:

  • Survey your present customers
  • Divide the market according to income or education to identify profitable groups
  • Imagine the customer most likely to purchase your product or services
  • Research the volume of specialized keywords (low volume is best, as there is less competition)

Pick the Right YouTube Ads

Once you’ve identified your target audience, you need to settle on which types of YouTube ad campaigns to run. You’ll also want to keep in mind the key difference between advertising on YouTube versus Facebook or Google. With YouTube, you only pay for an ad view if one of two things happens: a viewer passes the 30-second mark, or they watch the whole thing. 

YouTube offers six types of ads for you to choose from.

  1. Non-Skippable Video Ads: A viewer must watch these before they can access a YouTube video. Non-skippable YouTube ads can appear during, before, or after the primary video. Since the viewer has no choice but to watch the ad, you wind up paying every time it appears. Generally speaking, these types of ads are for companies with larger budgets.
  2. Skippable Video Ads: These ads allow the viewer to skip them after 5 seconds. Like non-skippable ads, they can appear before, after, or during the primary video. With these, you will only get charged if a viewer chooses to watch for at least 30 seconds. 
  3. Display Ads: These YouTube ads are placed to the right of the feature video. Display ads can appear anywhere on YouTube, with the exception of the homepage. Ideally, your ad will entice a click from the viewer, at which point you get charged for the advertising.
  4. Overlay Ads: These transparent ads appear on the bottom of videos watched on laptops or desktop computers. They will not appear on mobile devices, and the viewer can close the ad at any time. In reality, these ads tend to generate mis-clicks, in which a viewer attempts to close the ad, but accidentally clicks through to the advertiser’s video.
  5. Midroll Ads: These ads only appear in videos longer than 15 minutes. The ads appear intermittently throughout, in the same manner as commercials on television. Viewers have no choice but to watch them to continue their video. 
  6. Sponsored Cards: These showcase content relevant to the primary video, such as featured products. The viewer sees a teaser for the card, and then can click an icon in the top right corner to browse the sponsored cards.

Know Your Competition

Advertising on YouTube has a major element of competition. In order to make your efforts successful, you must familiarize yourself with your competitors. Locate a competing company’s channel or channels, and watch their YouTube ads yourself. Ask yourself how effective they are, and make note of successful tactics. 

To understand a competitor’s broader YouTube strategy, you can create a spreadsheet that tracks their ads. The spreadsheet can have columns for the company’s name, a screenshot of the video, the product or service offered, the number of views, and the ad’s headline. With this information, you can identify not only the most successful ads, but also the elements that drive them.

YouTube Ads in Practice: Five Successful Campaigns

If you want to be the best, you have to study the best. A consideration of other campaigns is indispensable for someone who wants their own YouTube ads to succeed. Each of the five companies considered below achieved a great deal of success through their efforts on YouTube. Click through to the videos, then read our analysis of how they work.

GoPro

YouTube ad example from GoPro

GoPro became a household name thanks to videos of the camera’s use in extreme sports. The above ad is completely different, however. Instead of the first-person view of a mountain biker flying down a trail, or a skydiver hurling themselves from a plane, it features a firefighter saving a kitten. The overall feel is sweet and cuddly, rather than action-packed and dangerous. You might wonder why GoPro would create marketing materials at odds with their image. Simply put: it makes them appealing to a wider audience. 

When you make your own YouTube ads, don’t shy away from pushing the boundaries of your image. If you vary your format and topics, you can find different ways to showcase your brand’s theme to appeal to a larger audience.

Skullcandy

YouTube ad example from Skullcandy.

Skullcandy is not messing around when it comes to YouTube ads. You’ll notice that they maintain a consistent voice, and do a good job of targeting sports demographics like skateboarders, surfers, and snowboarders. They accomplish this through high-energy videos that appeal to young people. Skullcandy also has a variety of content, from customer reviews and product demonstrations, to a concert series and podcast.

Skullcandy’s YouTube ads foster a sense of community among its customers. If you can do the same, you will develop long-term customers that have a sense of loyalty to your brand.

Artifact Uprising

YouTube ad example from Artifact Uprising.

Artifact Uprising helps customers put together custom photo books, cards, and albums, and also prints photos. The nature of their product encourages sentimentality and emotional connection, characteristics which the company highlights in its YouTube ads. 

Regardless of your type of industry, you can use this approach to forge an emotional connection with customers. Learn how people use your services or products to enhance their lives, and share these stories in your ads. 

Code.org

YouTube ad example from Code.org

This non-profit promotes greater access to computer science instruction in schools. The ad serves as an example of influencer marketing, in which recognizable people create a bond with the viewer through the product. As Bill Gates describes his humble beginnings, the message is clear: if you help Code.org with its mission, more people can succeed like he did.

If you work in an intimidating field like computer science, influencer marketing can humanize your message. Put a face to your company that viewers can either recognize or sympathize with, and you can lower the barrier of entry to your services.

Sun Bum

YouTube ad example from Sun Bum.

Sun Bum has clearly fostered a laid-back, chilled out aesthetic. Its YouTube ads not only highlight the company’s hair care products, sunscreen, and lip balm, but also contain engaging content that has fostered a fanbase. Through multiple videos a week, the company covers a broad range of topics that includes everything from office life vignettes to dyeing tutorials. They also have a channel devoted to musical performances. This allows them to link their brand to appealing musicians as a way to connect with customers. 

One of the best things you can do through an advertisement is cultivate a community of similarly-minded people. If you produce engaging content, these people will actively help your marketing efforts through sharing and discussing your ads.

YouTube offers a platform to place your ads before millions of people. If you can target your audience, settle on an ad type, and create compelling content, you can count on enhanced business. Of course, ads on YouTube require work, as you must keep your content fresh. If done correctly, however, the money and time you put into YouTube ads can represent the best investment you’ll ever make. 

 

YouTube Advertising

28 YouTube Ad Stats to Get You Started Today

YouTube Advertising

Not sure if YouTube Advertising is the right advertising channel for you?

With video content on the rise, YouTube has seen record-breaking numbers that prove the power behind this marketing channel. But is there a reasonably high ROI in it for your brand? Is it worth the investment to create a video ad and start running it?

To find out, it’s important to have a clear picture of who is using YouTube, and what kind of content they’re consuming. The YouTube ad statistics provide powerful insights into the might of this platform, and will clue you in on how you can use it to grow your brand in 2020.

Who Uses YouTube?

How wide is the swath of users on YouTube? To find out, we pulled some statistics on the users. The numbers here may surprise you.

More Adults Use YouTube Than Facebook

Seventy-three percent of American adults use YouTube, topping Facebook users by 4%, and nearly doubling Instagram’s adult user base.

YouTube Isn’t Just for Young People

A surprising number of older adults and seniors consume video content on YouTube:

  • 71% of people ages 26-35
  • 67% of people ages 36-45
  • 66% of people ages 46-55
  • 58% of people ages 56 and older
YouTube Ad Stats by age.

Source: Statista

YouTube Is the Most Popular Platform In America

Topping Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, and, well, everything, YouTube has more users than any other platform in the US.

Most Men Use YouTube

Seventy-eight percent of American men watch video content on YouTube.

Women Use YouTube Slightly Less Than Men

The numbers are still strong, though. Sixty-eight percent of adult American women consume content on YouTube.

Most Young Adults Use YouTube

A whopping 81% of Americans ages 15-25 years old watch videos on YouTube.

YouTube Reaches More Americans Than Every Cable TV Network Combined

For American consumers ages 18-49 years old, YouTube widely outpaces cable TV for video content consumption.

Americans Use YouTube More Than Anyone Else In the World

Fifteen percent of YouTube’s traffic comes from America, with India landing in second place at 8.1%, and Japan coming in third, at 4.6%.

Most of YouTube’s Popular Content Isn’t In English

Interestingly, despite the US making up the majority of YouTube users, only 33% of the content from some of the most popular channels on YouTube is in English.

What People Watch on YouTube

The types of content that most viewers on YouTube consume might surprise you. These data points prove a powerful concept in marketing: that content informs the earliest phases of the buyer decision process.

The YouTube Algorithm Influences 70% of What People Watch

This is a crazy one. As it turns out, most of what people watch on YouTube is heavily influenced by YouTube’s recommendation algorithm. In a Pew study, 81% of people said they watched things recommended by YouTube.

YouTube usage stats.

Source: Pew Research Center

Most Popular Videos Come from the Same Small Percentage of Creators

According to Pew Research, 79% of views on YouTube are on just 10% of the channels, suggesting that most of the popular content on YouTube is created by a very small portion of channels.

Viewers Don’t Care About Famous Actors

Data straight from YouTube shows that the relevance of content to a viewer’s interest is 3x more influential than content featuring celebrities. The moral of the story? You don’t have to pay a famous actor or influencer to get the views.

Influencer Content Dominates the Beauty Sector

About 60% of views of beauty content on YouTube are on influencer content, while 39% goes to brand content, and just 1% to publishers.

Relevant Content Performs Better Than Swanky Content

Here’s the really great news: production values aren’t the end all be all for YouTube viewers. It turns out, interesting content is on average 1.6 times more important than production values to viewers.

More People Than Ever Use YouTube for Product Research

Between 2017 and 2018, views for product review content doubled, implying users being a purchase decision with product research on YouTube.

Most Shoppers Use YouTube at the Beginning of Their Shopping Process

The data supports YouTube’s use as a consumer product research tool. Eighty percent of users say they use YouTube’s product content early in the buying process.

Viewer Engagement Has Increased by 70% On YouTube

This means that viewers are no longer just quietly watching — they’re connecting with creators, commenting on their content, and engaging.

Most Viewers Watch YouTube On Mobile Devices

As is the case for most web traffic, YouTube users on average spend 70% or more of their viewing time using the platform on a mobile device.

Streaming Onto TVs is YouTube’s Fastest Growing Screen Segment

Smart TVs, Roku players, and similar devices now make up over 250 million hours of watch time per day on YouTube. Watching YouTube from a TV screen has increased by over 39% in the last year alone.

YouTube Is Second Only to Netflix for Video Streaming

For Americans ages 18-34 years old, YouTube is the most popular video streaming platform with ads, and is second only to Netflix in video streaming as a whole.

How Ads Are Performing On YouTube

How buyers consume content ultimately impacts what kinds of advertising they respond to. Predictions indicate that by 2022, 82% of global internet traffic will come from video streaming and downloads.

Increasing Video Consumption is Driving YouTube Ads Revenue

With YouTube on track this year to make a record-breaking $5.5 billion in net revenue from advertising alone, the case for YouTube ads has never been stronger.

Growth Compounds Growth On YouTube

According to YouTube, channels that make $10,000 or more per year grow 50% year over year.

Google Preferred Ads On YouTube Increase Purchase Intent By 53%

YouTube’s role as a product research platform may have something to do with this. YouTube reports that their premium ad offering, which targets the top 5% of channels on the platform, is dramatically effective at producing buyers.

They Also Improve Ad Recall By 112%

Even more dramatic is the impact these ads have on ad recall for YouTube advertisers. YouTube’s Google Preferred ad campaigns improve ad recall for views by as much as 112%.

YouTube Is the Third-Best Influencer Marketing Platform

Tailing behind Instagram and Instagram stories, YouTube as an influencer marketing platform will be a force to be reckoned with in 2020.

Most Shoppers Have Discovered a Brand Through YouTube

In a powerful study, Think With Google reported that 90% of shoppers surveyed said they had discovered a new brand through YouTube.

YouTube Ad stats from Google.

Marketers Say YouTube Is the Most Effective Video Advertising Platform

Most marketers will tell you that YouTube is the most effective advertising platform, with a staggering 78.8% of them saying it trumps even Facebook.

Viewer’s Prefer TrueView Ads Over In-Stream

Eight out of 10 YouTube viewers say they prefer skippable TrueView ads over ads that interrupt their streaming.

YouTube Ad Statistics to Fuel Your Strategy

YouTube advertising is a powerful way to engage new buyers with your brand. If your company isn’t getting in front of buyers on this platform, it’s time to start now.

As video consumption data points continue to indicate large-scale growth in video consumption, it’s going to be up to brands to get out there and be seen.

Is your team ready?

Email onboarding flow computer.

Onboarding Emails: Three things that increased clicks by 50%

Email onboarding flow computer.

Installs, sign-ups, trials, and demos mean nothing if you can’t keep your users. Which makes your onboarding email campaign incredibly important. 

It’s your first impression. But, it’s also your opportunity to guide new users to take the action that will increase their lifetime value. 

Before you start working on getting more people to your site, you need to make sure you have an onboarding experience that motivates your users to take that action you care most about. Otherwise, you’re throwing money out the window.

Onboarding Emails In Action

Earlier this year we started partnering with Felt, a company building an app that sends your personal, handwritten cards and photos from your phone. Our goals were to increase reach, installs, and revenue by running data-driven campaigns on different channels. 

 

Felt app screenshot.

While our full strategy was a mix of campaigns and channels (Facebook Ads, Google, YouTube, Apple Search Ads, etc), in this post, we’re going to focus on just one of the tactics: onboarding emails. We were able to increase clicks by 50% through these three steps:

  • Step 1: Mapping out the existing flow and setting benchmarks
  • Step 2: Figuring out the “aha” moment (using data)
  • Step 3: Rewriting, redesigning, and rebuilding each email to focus on that “aha” moment

But, first, we’ll set the stage.

The Results: A look inside the numbers

On average, 600 – 700 people install Felt every day. Each person who downloads the app and doesn’t immediately send a card, gets put into the new user onboarding email flow. 

Here’s what the numbers looked like before and after we made adjustments based on our research, learnings and experience. On the left, you have the original onboarding flow and on the right, you have the updated flow.

Email onboarding flow case study.

With our first round of improvements, we were able to increase the ‘Clicks per unique opens’ from 7.5% to 11.3%. This action (getting people back in the app and sending cards) immediately gave us a sustainable increase in daily revenue.

At this point, we’re only scratching the surface. 

Holistically mapping the user journey 

With every client, we analyze each piece of the conversion puzzle so we can spend our time focused on the areas with the highest impact on revenue.

In the first two months of partnership, we: 

  1. Configured Branch for better campaign analytics 
  2. Produced copy and creative (videos and images) 
  3. Set up Facebook/Instagram ads
  4. Set up Google Ads
  5. Set up Pinterest ads
  6. Built and launched an influencer program 

With the combination of these tactics, install volume skyrocketed. It’s also worth noting that sending handwritten cards from your phone is a helpful resource while the country sheltered in place.

With the spike in users, it was even more important to make sure they were adopting the Felt app, sending cards, and having an awesome experience. 

So we conducted a full funnel analysis. We asked key questions and mapped data to the user journey to identify where we could improve. We started with: 

  1. How does a user get from install to paying subscriber? 
    • For Felt, it’s when the user sends their first card. If a new user sends a card, they 2x their spend in the subsequent 5 day period. 
  1. What’s our “aha” moment? When do users really get the value of Felt? 
    • When the person they sent a card to actually gets it in the mail. Which speaks to the “do good, feel good” aspect of Felt. When people send cards it makes them feel happy. 
  1. What touchpoints can we leverage to guide our users down the funnel? 
    • For us, this came down to triggered emails, retargeting ads, and app-based onboarding cues. The first, and quickest win was email, so we started there. 

Here’s what we did: 

Step 1: Mapping out the existing flow and setting benchmarks

The 5-series email flow for new installs was in good shape. It was already set up in Mailchimp and had been running for months. We liked the timing but wanted to see if we could increase the number of users who click on each email in the sequence. 

We started by mapping out the entire email flow: 

Email onboarding map.

(There are tools to visualize this type of work but I still love good ol’ fashion spreadsheets).  

Step 2: Figuring out the “aha” moment (using data)

When we conducted the full funnel analysis we uncovered one of the most critical moments for a Felt user. The first card in Felt is always free. When a user sends that free card within the first week of downloading the app, they are 4x more likely to become a paying customer. 

So, how do we get someone who downloads the app to send a card quicker?

Step 3: Rewriting, redesigning, and rebuilding each email to focus on that “aha” moment

Now that we were crystal clear on the one action we wanted our users to take (CTA was “send a free card”) we rebuilt the email flow to focus users on taking this action in a few ways:

  • We stripped out extra images (removed 4 total) 
  • We removed any marketing copy that wasn’t about our sole CTA (cut the word count by 505) 
  • We outlined the user journey so it was clear exactly what the next steps with Felt looked like 
  • We acknowledged that they had already done something huge (install the app) and so only had one more thing to do 
  • We linked the “send free card” twice – in the primary CTA and in the text of the email

To put it more directly, we removed anything that would distract the user from sending the free card.

Before and after email examples.

Up Next

We mentioned these adjustments are just scratching the surface. We’re lucky that the Felt team had already been sending onboarding emails, giving us a benchmark to start from. 

As we continue with our goals to increase reach, installs, and revenue we’ll want to continue updating and testing emails so the next post is about how we increased conversion by 50%.

Working on a marketing budget for a startup.

How to Set Your Testing Budget For New Channels

Working on a marketing budget for a startup.

One of the biggest growth challenges startups face is finding the most efficient marketing channels for their specific audience. These are common puzzles that plague every early-stage business working to find traction and scale:

    • Which channels should we test?
    • How long should we let them run
    • What should our test budget be?

One size does not fit all

You don’t want to blow your whole budget all on one channel but you also can’t afford to spread it too thin. You have to start somewhere, and you want data that’s statistically significant to your growth. 

So when it comes to creating the right testing budget for your startup, what is the right amount? How much money do you need in the bank to drive actually helpful learnings? 

There’s no one size fits all number for every single company. You have to look at your specific goals and audience and work from there. That’s why we hear this question so often from founders because there isn’t an ‘ultimate guide’ or copy and paste option. You have to do the work.

Here’s how we do it at Tuff: 

How to budget money to test new channels

The challenge for an early-stage team is creating a marketing budget when your company hasn’t tested many channels yet. At this stage, you might think you don’t have enough historical data to inform expectations around conversions and cost per conversions. 

The good news is, with a little digging, you actually do have a lot of data to work with. This is where we uncover how much money you need to spend and what you can expect in return.  

Step 1: Figure out your starting point 

While there is no set rule to establishing your budget, we get a baseline by setting initial budgets at 8 percent of gross or projected revenue

For example, your estimated gross revenue for the year is $1,000,000. We’d take $80,000 and spread it out over 12 months, making adjustments for seasonality. Theoretically, that’s $6,666.66/month, but, you will put more or less into certain months for seasonality. 

This is to set the foundation for your channel experiments, which can then be scaled up or down once you get data and can start to optimize based on your learnings. We like to start lean with lower budgets and then prioritize and scale up based on results.  If, like most startups, you are cash strapped, you can also start with 5% per month and tie that spending to concrete, measurable deliverables. 

Here’s what we’ve seen work the best for finding a test budget: 

  • Ideal: 5-8% of projected revenue for channel optimization
  • Funded: 5-10k for testing 2-3 channels at once
  • Bootstrapped: 2-3k for testing 1 channel at a time 

This structure isn’t perfect but it will help you understand what you need in the bank to prioritize campaigns to quickly drive key learnings and get data that’s statistically significant to your marketing.

Step 2: Customize your budget based on your specific goals 

You probably have an idea of what realistic projections look like for your business: how long it will take to scale, what growth rate is acceptable, and what profit margins are normal within your industry. 

You can use this information to narrow in on your marketing budget, too. 

B2B: Essentially, what is your acceptable CAC and how many customers do you need to show healthy growth? If your CAC is $1,000 and you need 880 clients by the end of the year, you know, at a minimum, you need $88,000 in your marketing budget to start. 

B2C and Ecommerce: Essentially, what is your acceptable CPS and how many sales do you need to show healthy growth? If your CPS is $25 and you need to sell 3,520 products by December, you need to be in the $80k budget range to start.  

Here’s an example for a budget I worked on this week. 

The details: 

  • I got this message on Slack from one of Tuff’s clients: 

What should our test budget be?

  • Instead of starting with a budget and backing into the numbers, we worked with our team to start with a revenue target. We agreed on $105,000 total revenue for a 10-day stretch in May. This would be a 200% increase in revenue from last year. From there, we were able to calculate a plan.  

The budget and plan: 

Since we’ve been working together for 6 months, we have:

  1. Historical conversion rates (17% from install to purchase)
  2. Data by channel for this company

Starting with revenue targets, we plugged this into a plan to see how much we needed to spend to hit our goals. In this scenario, we know that to hit $105,000 at our current conversion rates, we need to spend $35k across a variety of channels. 

This gives us an initial ROAS of 300% with a much higher return when we calculate LTV. 

Example Budget

Step 3: Set benchmarks by channel 

In the above example, we had historical data from the last 6 months which made it easier to allocate spend. You don’t have to have your own data to build marketing projections though. 

Industry experts and blogs can help you compile accurate benchmark data for the channels you want to test. We use this channel benchmark spreadsheet internally at Tuff to start and make adjustments depending on the industry and what we’ve seen from running hundreds of campaigns. 

Here are some of the best resources to leverage for getting benchmarks to sub for your historical data. 

This data will help you understand what to expect and help you come up with realistic (and smarter!) allocations. 

Make sure you are tracking the right metrics  

One of the most vital parts of growth marketing is assessing data. Having those numbers in front of you helps you make informed decisions about everything from product adjustments to marketing campaigns. Without this data, you’re just guessing.

Before you dive too deep into budget, you have to set up conversion tracking and analytics. Start by identifying and measuring the metrics critical to your company and then make sure you’re set up to track each campaign. 

Focus on collecting actionable data 

When you’re testing new channels and setting your experimentation budget, it’s not about just getting results. We understand that when you look at businesses like Facebook, Uber, and Airbnb, it can be tempting to imagine that they have uncovered some secret sauce for instant success, and you just need to figure out the recipe.

Well, the thing is that you have to start somewhere, and you have to get data that’s significant to your company. Here are the five steps:

  • Start with a testing budget (see figure out your starting point)
  • Experiment with new channels
  • Figure out what works and what doesn’t work
  • Quickly retool your approach
  • Then attack every possible angle to unearth that hidden growth potential

If you want more info on CAC or CPS estimates based on how successful certain channels have been for clients, schedule a free growth marketing strategy session with our team today. We’ll analyze your marketing, product, metrics, and business to help you build a growth marketing strategy mapped to your goals. 

Person working at a computer.

14 Ready-to-Go Growth Marketing Spreadsheets Startups Can Use to Boost Productivity

Person working at a computer.

Note: this post was updated in September 2022 with one new spreadsheets to help with SEO forecasting.

One of our team values at Tuff is to work smarter, not harder. For the work that we do, this often means creating clear and repeatable processes.

We also think dashboards are a little overrated. 

Although they give you a snapshot of important metrics, and they look good, dashboards aren’t great at providing the details or context that effective data-driven decision making requires. 

This is why spreadsheets have been such a staple for our growth marketing agency, helping us to collaborate more efficiently with our startup partners, track budgets and core metrics, see our growth more clearly, organize our experiments, and get more work done

That being said, building the right spreadsheets that are actually helpful and relevant to your startup can be time-consuming. We’d love to help.

We’ve pulled together a list of the essential spreadsheets and templates we have used and improved to help prioritize experiments, run campaigns, and track growth for Tuff and our startup partners.  

Let’s jump in…

For many of the growth marketing spreadsheets linked below, you can download as an .xls file to use and customize in Excel or Google Docs. Google Doc users can also go to “File > Make a Copy …” to add the spreadsheet to their account, then edit.

1. Growth Marketing Framework 

Growth marketing spreadsheet.
Use for: Prioritizing and tracking your growth marketing experiments

Grab a copy of this spreadsheet here >>

We discovered this Growth Marketing Framework spreadsheet after attending Sid Bharath’s talk at the GrowthMentor summit last year. We tested it out on our own and it’s quickly become a go-to for our team when we need to prioritize campaigns, identify new experiments, and find big wins for our partners. We like it so much that we have one for Tuff that we look at weekly as a team. 

In this spreadsheet, you have four core tabs: 

  • Customer Personas 
  • Customer Journey 
  • Tactics Backlog 
  • Experiments 

Our favorite part about this spreadsheet is that your customer personas exist in the same spreadsheet as your ideas. In the past, we built out personas in a word doc or slides with visuals and descriptors, and sometimes we still do. But having your target audience in the same place you go to list ideas and pick experiments is extremely helpful when it comes to prioritization. Before we add any ideas to our backlog, we can revisit our personas, their journey, and then truly assess if they are the right fit for our audience. With this setup, your personas become a driving force for tactics instead of an afterthought. You end up with experiments that hit the mark more often because they’ve passed the persona check. 

2. Channel Projections for Experiments 

Marketing projections spreadsheet.

Use for: Forecasting budget based on historical data and determining projected performance 

Grab a copy of this spreadsheet here >>

We get these two questions a lot: How much should I spend? And, what can I get in return? 

In order to set monthly budgets and projections, we start with core KPIs. What are we trying to achieve? Do we want to book more demos, increase sales, drive more leads? Once we understand these goals, we can forecast budget based on historical data and determine projected performance using this spreadsheet. This isn’t an exact science but it helps us align as a team about what we’re trying to achieve based on specific targets. It also helps you know how much you need in the bank to test and learn. 

For traffic and conversion rate data, we lean on tools like Google Analytics, Shopify, Metorik, Firebase, Salesforce, Facebook, and Google Ads. If you don’t have this data available because you haven’t experimented on these channels, you can still use this spreadsheet, you’ll just need to take bigger leaps with the numbers based on industry averages. 

3. Growth Marketing Scorecard 

Growth marketing scorecard.

Use for: Tracking results daily, weekly, and monthly in one shared spreadsheet

Grab a copy of this spreadsheet here >>

When you’re running experiments and testing new campaigns, we like to have a reporting template that gives us true insight into what’s working and what’s not. We use this spreadsheet to track daily, weekly, and monthly results for our campaigns. 

One of the most important things about this scorecard is that it’s 100% manual. While there are a bunch of automated dashboards out there, after three years and 35 startups, we still think this is the best option for our team and partners in the early stages. It’s simple (no fluff) and sticks to the most important metrics. While pulling the data from various sources takes time (about 10 minutes each morning), it gives you an opportunity to really look at the data, dig into what it’s telling us, and then make smarter optimizations and budget allocations. 

4. UTM Generator for Campaigns (Tracking) 

UTM Generator Spreadsheet.

Use for: Understanding which campaigns are driving meaningful results 

Grab a copy of this spreadsheet here >>

UTM codes are snippets of text added to the end of a URL to help you track where website traffic comes from if users click a link to this URL. If you’re anything like the data-driven campaign managers on the Tuff team, you probably don’t run any campaigns without UTM parameters. By tagging your URLs with UTMs, you can get a good understanding of how your visitors interact with your website, allocate budget more efficiently, and cut out anything that isn’t working. For a full rundown on UTMs, we turn to Niel Patel’s ultimate UTM guide here

So what’s with this spreadsheet? If you’re running multiple campaigns and experimenting quickly, it’s easy to lose track of your URLs. For example, we have a batch of Facebook campaigns active right now, with 23 different audiences, using 23 different URLS. These can add up! This spreadsheet keeps all active URLs organized so anyone on the team can check the URL, review performance in Google Analytics, and then help make smarter marketing decisions at the campaign level.

5. Blog Post Traffic Tracker from Buffer (Content) 

Blog Post Traffic Tracker from Buffer.

Use for: Knowing which posts are gaining the most traffic 

Grab a copy of this spreadsheet here >>

This is one of the best spreadsheets to understand how your content is stacking up. If you don’t have a blog yet, skip this spreadsheet. 

The blog post traffic spreadsheet from Buffer enables you to keep an eye on which posts are hitting your traffic goals and it’s also really great to keep an eye on what topics are performing best, too. While this is easy to see in Google Analytics, pulling the data into a spreadsheet helps you benchmark performance more easily to identify content wins. 

One of the more actionable ways we use this spreadsheet is to help us identify articles we want to update. To increase the effectiveness of your SEO efforts and boost your search engine traffic, you canupdate your old content and give yourself an improved freshness score. 

Buffer has 10 other very helpful social media and content spreadsheets here, in case you want more. 

6. Budget Tracker for PPC Campaigns (Paid) 

Google ads budget tracker.

Use for: Creating an automated monthly budget pacing dashboard for Google Ads

Grab a copy of this spreadsheet here >>

When you build this spreadsheet, you’ll get a quick glimpse at how your budget is pacing for the month on Google Ads. This can be helpful when you have specific monthly targets you want to hit. 

With this spreadsheet you can see how far through the month you are, what percent of spend you’ve used, and how close you are tracking towards your goal. For example, you might be 61% of the way through your budget but only 53% of the way to your revenue goal. 

This works best with larger budgets (below $1,000 per month is less effective) but as you ramp up, it can help you stay more efficient and effective with your spend. 

7. Influencer Marketing Template (Influencer)  

Influencer marketing spreadsheet.

Use for: Managing and tracking your Instagram influencer marketing campaign 

Grab a copy of this spreadsheet here >>

Performance-based influencer campaigns can drive revenue and user growth if you can tap into the right communities. 

The way that this spreadsheet works is simple. Once you’ve defined your niche and set goals for your influencer program, you can start compiling your influencers in this spreadsheet. From here, you can start to calculate each influencer’s engagement rate. This will tell you who has an active audience. 

There are a bunch of different ways to calculate engagement rates and this spreadsheet uses the below formula: 

ER post = Total engagements on a post / Total followers *100.

A higher engagement rate typically spells out a wider reach and stronger influence. 

Again, this is another manual process and it takes time. If you find early traction with your program in the first 90 days, we recommend transitioning to a tool to help manage as you scale. 

8. Email User Onboarding Flow (Email) 

Email user onboarding spreadsheet.

Use for: Building and visualizing your welcome email flow  

Grab a copy of this spreadsheet here >>

Installs, sign ups, and demos mean nothing if you can’t keep your users — which makes your onboarding email campaign incredibly important. 

We use this template to outline our Email user flow from start to finish. For a successful strategy, it helps us: 

  • Set a goal for each email in the series 
  • Set timing for each email 
  • See the entire flow at once 

From here, you can start thinking about copy, CTAs, and design for each email, benchmark performance, and start testing. This structure has helped us get higher retention rates and increase revenue. 

Bonus Template: If you don’t have an onboarding flow for new customers or leads, this email marketing planning template from Hubspot is handy for planning marketing and transactional emails. 

9. Google Ads Keyword Audit (Paid)

Google Ads Keyword Audit Spreadsheet.

Use for: Efficiently auditing your PPC keywords & search queries to identify top performers based on ROAS.

Grab a copy of this spreadsheet here >>

When it comes to optimizing paid search campaigns, keyword optimizations can oftentimes be time-consuming, scattered, or – even worse – ineffective. A keyword with a high CTR and low CPC may be performing well at first glance, but these are surface-level metrics and they don’t necessarily correlate with the most important metrics.

Organizing your keywords and search queries into a format that helps you focus on what really matters the most – in this case, ROAS – will give you a clear picture of which keywords to invest more money into and which keywords to scrap from your campaign(s).

To use this spreadsheet, export your keyword report from Google Analytics for your chosen time period. Be sure to include the following attributes: Keyword, Campaign, Clicks, Cost, CPC, User, Sessions, Ecommerce Conversion Rate (or Goal Conversion Rate), Transactions (or Goals Completions), & Revenue.

The first row in this spreadsheet maps to these attributes. In Column K, you’ll find a ROAS calculation equipped with Conditional Formatting that will provide you with a quick visual representation of your Keyword success.

As a starting point, we’ve got Conditional Formatting set up to turn cells in Column K green when the ROAS is greater than or equal 250% and red when the ROAS is less than or equal to 150%.

With your exported data placed in this sheet, you’ll quickly see which of your keywords are driving the best ROAS.

To help sort, we have a filter placed in row 1 that provides you with endless filtering and sorting options. There’s also a nifty word count formula in Column L which will provide some insight into how your long tail and short tail keyword performance compare.

Run the same report at the Search Query level and compare it with your Keyword list. You may find some standout queries that can be added as Exact Match keywords to your campaigns.

10. CRM Spreadsheet Hack

Housing your website signup leads for b2b and b2c businesses doesn’t have to be complicated and doesn’t mean you automatically need to upgrade to an expensive email service provider (esp) or customer relationship management (CRM) software.

Take it from us at Tuff Growth. We don’t use a CRM or ESP to manage our inbound prospect leads but we also don’t spend time migrating information from lead forms to spreadsheets.

Our solution for a CRM is 100% free and utilizes tools that you likely already know about and some you might already use.

This solution isn’t for everyone. If you have over 100 leads coming in per day and need to send them down specific email drip funnel campaigns or assign them to specific sales managers, then a free CRM solution like Hubspot might be a better option for you.

For us, we have a manageable amount of leads come in through our website form each day and we either reach out to them should they look to be a good fit for our business or we do not. We also don’t have a full-service sales team and don’t plan to for the foreseeable future. All of our leads are 100% inbound generated and referral driven, which speaks to our dedication to SEO Content Strategy and doing great work for our existing clients.

To learn more about how you can create your own free CRM, let’s dive in:

At Tuff, our website is built on WordPress and we use the basic WordPress forms known as WPForms. Once a prospect enters their information into our form, then that person’s contact form information is sent directly to our Website leads Google Spreadsheet that is broken out by month.

The way that we send the form from WordPress Forms to our Google Sheets’ Lead Form is through a tool called Zapier which connects software APIs through no-code integrations.

Indicating a new Google Sheets trigger in Zapier

To set up this particular Zap, you will need to have a Zapier account, access to your WordPress site, and access to your website lead form sheet.

Enter your email to download the process for setting up this Zap:

Step 1:
Select WPForms as your trigger
Select WPForms as your trigger
Step 2: Choose the Trigger Event of New Form Entry
Choose the Trigger Event of New Form Entry
Step 3: Select the WP Account with which the form is associated. You’ll need to connect your WP Account to Zapier with API Keys if you haven’t done this before. Follow the steps to do so.

Step 4: Choose the form that you want to send submitted information from in your zap.

Step 5: Test trigger as instructed by Zapier and make sure information is correct in your test.

Step 6: Choose the action that you want to happen when someone submits a form. In this case, the action is Google Sheets.

Step 7: Choose your action event. For this zap, you’ll want to choose “Create Spreadsheet Row”

Choose your action event. For this zap, you’ll want to choose “Create Spreadsheet Row”
Step 8: Choose the Google Account associated with where your spreadsheet is housed.

Step 9: Choose the Google Drive associated with account that house the spreadsheet.

Step 10: Choose the Google Sheet that you want to send the submission data to.
Choose the Google Sheet that you want to send the submission data to

Step 11 Optional: If there are tabs in your spreadsheet, then choose which tab you want to send the data to.

Step 12: Now that you’re connected to the correct spreadsheet then Zapier will pull in header information and you will need to select what information from the form goes in each header column.

Select what information from the form goes in each header column.

Step 13: Test and review that your Zap is working correctly. This is a live test so Zapier will pull info from your latest submission on your WPForms over to Google Sheets. If it successful then you should see your submission updated in Google Sheets after you click test.

Step 14: Once your test returns a positive result, then click “continue” and turn on your Zap.

Note: You will need to refresh your zap every few weeks. If it stops working for some reason then go back through the steps and re-integrate your accounts to keep everything working smoothly.

11. Value Props Exercise

A spreadsheet listing out all of Tuff's value props
Grab a copy of this spreadsheet here >>

While it’s incredibly important to make sure you’re set up for success with budgets, projections, goals, and reporting, it all falls flat without putting in the legwork to really dig in and create smart, compelling value props. For the data and dollar-sign driven types like founders and growth marketers, this can feel a bit daunting, but sharpening the language around why your customer/client should convert can streamline spend and make all other growth marketing activities work more efficiently.

For the left-brainers in the room (us included!) we created a spreadsheet to help us achieve this right-brain task.

Hot tip: many marketers that jump into value props start in the wrong place. Instead of focusing first on the end goal—a smart value prop—we recommend starting with the problem. Think first about the exact moment in someone’s life where they stumble across a problem, hit a roadblock, or create a workaround that your product directly addresses. Then, work right, circling back to the actual value prop as the last thing you do.

If you’re Uber, here’s how we would approach it.

Problem: I waste my time standing on a street corner trying to flag down an empty taxi.

Implication: I cut into my day by carving out extra time to flag down a taxi and I run the risk of being late.

Solution: A way to connect with an available driver and know exactly when they’ll show up.

Benefit: A guaranteed ride and a predictable timeline.

Value Prop: Get a guaranteed ride on your time.

Note: the most important part of this exercise is to remember that even when you’ve scrutinized it, edited it, and rewritten it, it’s still a living document. Instead of putting it up on a shelf, periodically crack it open, make strategic updates, and use it!

12. Facebook Ad Creative Analysis Spreadsheet 

Facebook ad creative analysis spreadsheet

Grab a copy of this spreadsheet here >>

We’re a revenue and conversion-first agency. But great creative—from ads to emails to landing pages and beyond—is a critical part of the equation.

Because we want to really dig into understanding what ad creative is performing the best, our team uses this spreadsheet to pull the core performance metrics for our paid campaigns on Facebook and Instagram. This helps us, and our clients, understand what’s working, what’s not working, and how we want to test moving forward. 

We left the data in this spreadsheet so that you could see what the final output looks like. If you’re interested in using this spreadsheet to better understand how your Facebook creative is performing, download this and make a copy.

13. Landing Page Testing Plan Timeline

landing page testing spreadsheet

Grab a copy of this spreadsheet here >>

When it comes to increasing the conversion rate for our clients, we’re often focused on implementing impactful changes to the layout, copy, and images used throughout various landing pages to help increase our number of conversions.

For our process, it’s important to isolate as many variables as possible throughout testing so that we’re able to definitively say what improved (or negatively impacted) results. Not all CRO landing page tests go as planned, but with our testing methodology, we can always go back to the previous version of the landing page and start again with a new variable to test. 

That’s why we structure our tests bracket-style using this spreadsheet. We’ll have two almost identical campaigns running in our paid channels, but with the ads pointing to two different landing pages. We’ll take the winner, and pit it against the next iteration of the landing page, keeping all the data organized in this spreadsheet. 

14. SEO Forecasting 

SEO Forecasting

Grab a copy of this spreadsheet here >>

SEO forecasting lets you use data to estimate future organic traffic results and keyword movement. It leverages historical data and assumes traffic patterns are likely to continue and can help you prioritize SEO efforts and allocated resources based on potential impact. 

Forecasting is critical when it comes to prioritization and something we believe every early stage startup and scaleup needs to consider.  

At Tuff, we’ve been using this Google Sheet to forecast organic traffic growth for our clients for the last 6 months, and it’s proven extremely reliable with its predictions.

Happy Spreadsheeting-ing

Thanks for reading! I hope you picked up one or two new tips and tricks for your spreadsheets here.

I’d love to hear what growth marketing spreadsheets your team has been using? What has worked well for you?

 

Advertising brand on Instagram.

A Crash Course in Instagram Audiences for Your Social Media Ads

Advertising brand on Instagram.

With a global following of over one billion active monthly accounts (as of June 2018), it’s no wonder Instagram (IG) advertising is such a popular way for brands to build awareness. But where does one even begin on this beast of a platform?

Like with any platform, finding your ideal audiences will be a good start, and segmentation is a very effective way to do this (and it can be easily done on Instagram!). Once you’ve narrowed these down, you can start to test and segment your audiences to determine the very best ways to target them with social ads. Finally, you’ll want to keep them engaged over the long term so that your brand can continue to thrive, grow, and prosper.

In this post, we’ll talk you through ways to build Instagram audiences for social media ads, plus share ideas of how you can put these audiences to the best use.

How can I narrow down my Instagram audiences for ads?

Most likely you’ve already defined your brand, but if you haven’t already, it’s the first thing you’ll want to do. A solid understanding of your brand or brands will give you key insights into who your demographic is so that you can start narrowing down your Instagram audiences. It’s not rocket science, but you do want to be strategic. Doing so will save you so much time when crafting your content.

By the way, your Instagram audiences ARE your target consumers. On Instagram. That being said, not all of your target consumers are on Instagram, and not all Instagram users are your target audience, so a little IG research is going to go a long way.

Assuming you know the who, the what, and the why behind your product or service, you can start searching Instagram for the brands most similar to yours. For example, if your company makes simple graphic design tools for users, then maybe you’ll want to search for brands like Canva, PicMonkey, and Crella, for example. Dig deep here and figure out how their followers are engaging with them.

During your research, see if you can gauge which users are actual customers of your competitors. It’s really easy for people to like, follow, and even comment on Instagram, but if you can determine which ones spend (or intend to spend) money based on how they’re engaging, this will be really useful data.

Speaking of Canva, here’s an IG post for a current campaign of theirs where they’re donating all proceeds from paid images to Australia emergency bushfire relief and recovery programs.

Instagram ad example.

Check out the user comment on the top right and compare her comment with the user’s comment at the bottom with the clapping emojis. While there’s nothing wrong with claps because they still signify engagement, the user at the top is indicating more interest. Of course, there’s no concrete proof that she’s a Canva user, but it appears she has an affinity for the app. The more intel you can gather on users like her, the better. Take note, as these will be the types of followers you’ll want to go after (in your respective niche, of course).

What are some ways that I can test my audiences on Instagram?

Once you’ve narrowed down your market and gotten that part out of the way, the most daunting part of building up a following is done. The fire is lit, so what’s next?

For starters, you’ll want to determine how your followers are engaging with your Instagram content, and analytics tools are great for this. There are quite a few effective IG analytics tools that are totally free and there are some great ones that you can pay for as well. It really just depends on the types of features you want. There’s nothing wrong with reinvesting a little cold hard cash back into your brand, but it’s also nice to save those dollars from time to time. Try mixing it up.

IG analytics tools can give you actionable insights about your followers’ behavior –– information like when they’re online, what they want to see in their feeds, and what types of products they’re buying. This is going to help you to really target your audience which, in turn, will help you allocate your marketing budget more effectively.

Here are three of our favorite free and paid Instagram analytics tools:

  • Sprout Social: Sprout Social’s data-driven IG analytics tools is one of the most powerful analytics tools out there. It lets you do things like identify top posts during specific times, schedule and streamline your posts, and monitor hashtags. Plus, the reports themselves are very clean and easy to read.
  • Instagram Insights: IG Insights is, of course, a freebie and you definitely don’t want to underestimate its robustness. After all, it’s got the insider’s inside scoop on what’s happening with your audience, and it’s a very user-friendly tool as well. You can analyze your followers and access your precise demographics as well. Like Sprout, the reports are also easy to read, and the metrics it provides are super valuable.
  • Union Metrics: Union Metrics offers a full suite of tools for a fee, but they also have a free Instagram Account Checkup Tool. With the checkup tool, you’ll have access to detailed reports that analyze your most dedicated followers, average post engagement, and show you what your top hashtags are. It allows you to easily understand your metrics so that you can generate more effective campaigns.

Companies like Socialbakers, Iconosquare, and Squarelovin also make great analytics tools. The best way to test your audience is to switch up your ad content as often as possible and to try as many different tools as you can.

Another fantastic way to collect valuable data on your audiences is by taking advantage of the Instagram stories and polls feature to learn more about their likes and interests. The more data you’re gathering in different ways, the more you’ll be able to spot trends with accuracy so that you can really finetune your targeting tactics.

How should I segment my Instagram audiences?

Once you’ve uncovered some key trends within your audience, you can then start showing relevant ads to different segments of your IG followers. The reason why marketing segmentation is so important, in general, is that you can maximize your marketing budget and resources by targeting them more effectively. So, let’s get to segmenting on Instagram, specifically, and show you how to do this effectively.

First, if you’re using IG’s hyperlinked hashtags feature, this can be a great place to start. Presumably, by now, you’ve been doing your homework and testing your audiences, so you know who’s clicking on what. Your hyperlinked hashtags can give you some of the most valuable information you’ll collect on your followers because it tells you precisely which products they’re browsing. It’s also something that brings them one touchpoint closer to a purchase. If certain audience members are clicking repeatedly on specific hashtags, you now have some valuable information you can use to segment.

Generally, segmentation can be broken down into four main categories:

Instagram audience segmentation.

  • Geographic: Geographic segmentation lets you target your customers based on where they live. It’s effective because audience interests, values, trends, and preferences are going to vary in different cities, states, countries, and regions.
  • Behavioral: Through behavioral segmentation, you’re targeting your audience based on things like their purchasing habits, how they go through their decision-making process, and their attitude toward the brand.
  • Demographic: Demographic segmentation is the most popular segmenting strategy among marketers. It involves the process of dividing your followers up based on variables like age, gender, family size, and income, among other things.
  • Psychographic: Psychographic segmentation can be a little more challenging because it’s highly subjective, but it’s also very effective because of this. You’re targeting based on intrinsic traits that have to do with your respective audiences’ values, personalities, interests and opinions, motivators, and lifestyle choices.

If you’ve been in business for a while, but you’re simply trying to get more Instagram engagement (or you’re new to the platform altogether) the good news is that you probably know most of this stuff. Once you’ve figured out how to navigate Instagram and do the things we’ve already covered, like narrow your market and test your audience, you can segment based on what you already know about market segmentation.

After you’ve narrowed down your segments, Instagram lets you easily create custom audiences for your business by going to the “Audience” tab on your insights dashboard.

Custom audiences on Instagram.

Once you select “Audience”, you’ll be given the option to “Create a Custom Audience” from the dropdown menu. Follow the prompts from here to start creating your segments. Once you’ve done this, you can start using your marketing prowess to create ads that appeal to your different segments. Easy-peasy.

When is it time for me to test new audiences?

Finally, if your I.G. marketing strategy just isn’t working anymore, then it might be time to test out new audiences. Something to keep in mind is that demographics are always changing. New trends are constantly emerging, audiences get older, and populations become more racially and ethnically diverse. Remaining nimble and ahead of the curve will be a better tactic than simply waiting until your engagement is dropping, but if it does get to that point, try to act fast. Stay on top of what your followers are doing as well. All of this will help you to regroup and re-segment if and when necessary.

Other good times to test new audiences are in situations where you’re introducing a new product or service, or if you’re going through a company rebrand. If you’re already in the habit of constantly retooling your marketing message and adapting your product or service to suit a wide array of demographics, then an adaptation marketing strategy can also be very effective. When you have a business that experiences steady growth, then it’s a near guarantee that your audience is going to evolve and change, so just be prepared.
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Understanding your Instagram audience is the best way to create growth strategies that work. The platform has the highest average engagement rate of all social media platforms, so it really is one powerful tool. Use these tips and tricks to make the most out of it so that you can start segmenting effectively and continue watching your brand soar to new heights.

Got more questions about finding your perfect audience using segmentation? We have answers. Give us a shout at hello@tuffgrowth.com or schedule a 30-minute strategy call with our team here. We’re looking forward to chatting with you and helping you plot your growth.