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?

Behind the Scenes at Tuff’s First Company Retreat

Before starting Tuff, I was a freelancer.

The way I thought about remote work was pretty simple; it’s great and easy and we should all do this.

Then, when I started Tuff in 2016 and hired my first remote team member that suddenly changed. The more the team grew and the more I leaned into leadership, the more I realized how essential remote team management is.

When you’re separated by thousands of miles, communicating and collaborating with your team can be a challenge. Luckily, there’s a lot of awesome content out there on how to build a remote team and culture. I devoured (and still do!) content from companies like Buffer, Doist, Help Scout, TaxJar, and Remotive.

One of the things on our “someday” list was a company retreat. We love working in our own corners of the world (Portland, Nashville, Boulder, Eagle, Boston, and San Francisco) but we were itching to meet face-to-face.

In February, we had our first in-person get-together in Colorado.

Here are some of the highlights:

We Planned as a Team

We gathered together for 2 and a half days and worked together to design what that would look like. We wanted to take advantage of the time in person and decided to use one day to work together and one day to spend out in the mountains getting to know each other better.

For the work day, we had a few topics we knew we wanted to cover so gathered them together in an agenda to keep us on track. Each team member had a session they would lead:

We Worked 30% of the Time

On Friday, we coworked from The Riveter in Denver. The agenda was loose and flexible. We collaborated on small things but mostly just enjoyed coworking in the same physical location. This was a good time for us all to be heads down on client work so we felt good about our work heading into the weekend.

We also used our time together to get some photos of us as a team. If you click around our website a bit, you might spot them! In the work we do with our clients, we try to serve as close partners. We lean into the human side of being an agency and so we wanted to have actual photos of us on our website. As a remote team, getting these together is obviously a little challenging. So, we went to Soona for our team photos!

After Friday, we spent the rest of the time hanging out and having fun. Here’s a look:

Getting together in Colorado was an awesome experience and a big deal for our small team. But retreats aren’t what make us great. It’s the consistent, every day focus we put on trying to build an awesome place to work.

Our team and the way we work together every day is what matters.

We Build Team Culture Every Day

At Tuff, we have three core goals:

  • Stay in business
  • Be an awesome place to work
  • Deliver meaningful results to our clients

We focus on incredibly small things we can do to work better together and we’re always trying to improve.

Things like:

Weekly Meetings: The Tuff Weekly Standup is a 30-minute all team video chat every Wednesday to check in, share what we’re working on this week, brainstorm with the team, support each other, etc. Loose agenda:

  • What’s everyone working on this week?
  • What do you need help with this week? Any blockers?
  • Any personal goals this week (read X pages, yoga X times, cook at home X times, etc.)?

Bi-Weekly Happy Hour: Every other Thursday we get together (attendance optional) to hang out after work for 30 minutes. Dogs, kids, partners are all invited.

1:1s: We have an internal slide deck of ‘advice on getting the most out of 1:1s’ you can check out, here. 1:1s are helpful to set an intentional time for us to come together and talk about projects, clients, as well as share feedback for each other, talk about higher level growth at Tuff, employee experience, Tuff culture, etc.

Spotify Playlist (aka Tuff Tunes): We love music at Tuff and all have different music tastes and styles. We created a Tuff Tunes playlist on Spotify that has songs from everyone on the team. We listened to this as a team during our team retreat and it was fun to guess who put on what song. I like to queue up this playlist on Fridays at work.

Feel free to crank up the volume on our Tuff Tunes.

Slack
We use Slack as ‘our office’. Slack is great for real time collaborating in channels. We often create channels named after our clients to discuss work specific to their projects. Also, good to grab a team member in a Direct Message to collaborate, ask questions, etc. Because Slack has such a perceived feeling of real time, we try to check in with a quick ‘hey, you have a few minutes?’ or, ‘Is now a good time to chat on X?’ before fully diving in.

We try to have new team members start on Wednesday’s so they get to see a full team call on their first day. We also make sure to send a warm welcome to them in Slack:

#learning
Another way we use Slack is to share what we’re listening to, reading, learning about, etc. While we don’t have explicit company values, learning and self-improvement is definitely an implicit shared value across the team.

In our #learning channel, it’s common for someone to open up a conversation on something they’ve found interesting:

Walk and Talks
One of my favorite things we’ve added this year are “walk and talks”. This is a time for us to take things outside and talk about anything but work. Instead of jumping on zoom, we go on a walk and catch up.

Our dogs are big fans of this one, too.

Over to you!

We were lucky to get this time together before Covid and the need to shelter in place. I’m so grateful for that.

And, as more teams have made the shift to work remotely, I’d love to hear what your team has been doing to stay connected while apart? What has worked well for you?

We’d love to work with you.

Schedule a call with our team and we’ll analyze your marketing, product, metrics, and business. Then, present a Growth Plan with actionable strategies to find and keep more engaged customers.

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.

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

Person working at a computer.

Note: this post was updated in May 2021 with two new spreadsheets.

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 team, 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! 

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.

 

tuff-growth-marketing-metrics

10 Growth Marketing Metrics Every Founder Needs To Know

tuff-increasing-conversion-rate-with-landing-pages

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated with new links and examples for you to use! 

As a founder, owner, or marketer, you know your growth goals for the next few months right? And you have a game plan to get there?

To hit those goals and achieve real, sustainable growth, you need to not only understand how to get there but also how to find your audience and drive constant engagement in a way that positively impacts your bottom line. That’s a lot to focus on all at once, let alone measure. 

If you’re like most founders and teams, identifying the right metrics and figuring out how best to track them can be time-consuming tasks. And the urgency to show and get results can sometimes override your ability to set up the right measurement processes in the first place. 

There are multiple avenues to a good end result, but it’s key that you have at least a foundational understanding of what metrics matter most to your business so you can scale those results. That’s why in this post I’m going to give you the growth marketing metrics we like to track. 

At Tuff, when we partner with a startup to implement growth marketing strategy and execution, we pick three core KPIs from the list below to focus on. From here, we’re able to narrow in on the right tactics, measure our success, internalize the numbers and decide what to do next. 

Ready to get data-driven? Let’s dive in. 

Acquisition

1. Search engines drive 93% of all website traffic

Long-term growth will be easier if you consider SEO from the start. It doesn’t have immediate results or carry the same short term momentum as paid customer acquisition, but the payoff can be 3x greater down the line compared to other acquisition channels. In fact, we think SEO is one of the best early stage investments a founder or startup can make. 

Why? People use search as their main gateway when considering a purchase, so if you set your organic foundation early, you’ll be able to actively work your way up the rankings to drive more non-branded search (and sales, purchases, and leads). At Tuff, organic search growth is one of our most important metrics as a team.

Google Search Console with data.

2. Better content can increase blog traffic by up to 2,000%

When it comes to content, remember that quality is better than straight-up quantity. If you truly understand your user and their unique challenges, you can create content that will provide real value. Quality content paired with smart SEO will help you get found by more prospective customers more often.

3. 50% of PPC visitors are more likely to purchase something than organic visitors

With SEO in place as your long-term investment, paid channels can compliment your strategy and bring quick momentum. The right keywords for your business will have high commercial intent and because of that, those clicks will convert at a high rate. When it comes to PPC channels like Google, Bing, and YouTube, we rally around these five metrics: 

  • Search Volume 
  • Clicks 
  • CPC
  • Conversions 
  • CVR

4. 81% of marketers found that increased traffic occurred with as little as six hours per week invested in social media marketing

Social isn’t going to supercharge your growth overnight but it’s a key player in the growth strategy mix. Don’t over-invest here but don’t ignore it either. Expending even just a bit more effort could net you big results. 

When it comes to Social Advertising, we’ve been focused on running campaigns on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and TikTok. No matter which channel though there’s one common factor that underlies all of their answers: how we define goals. For social, we take a look at social campaigns inside Google Analytics and then hone in on individual ad set’s cost per session over time. We also look at conversion and cost per acquisition.

Engagement

5. Companies with the strongest omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers, as compared to 33% for companies with weak omnichannel strategies

People interact with brands across a wide variety of channels and platforms. Focusing on providing a seamless customer experience, whether someone visiting is chatting with your support team, shopping on your website, or scrolling through your social feeds, is a proven way to retain (and gain) customers. 

Multi-channel attribution is really difficult but not impossible. Using Google Analytics and Mixpanel, you can piece together the user journey and start to answer questions like: 

  • How many times is a user interacting with us before becoming a customer?
  • How much repeat traffic do we get vs new visitors? 
  • What channel is the first-click attribution and is it the same as the last-click attribution? (hint = rarely!)

6. 84% of people expect brands to create content

Your customers want more from you than a single product or service. They want value. They want to connect with your brand in a way that feels authentic and beneficial to them personally. If you can work to create content that inspires, excites, and engages, you’ll be able to increase lead quality while reducing churn.

7. The average yield for email marketing is $44.25 on the dollar

Email provides extraordinary ROI in almost every industry. It takes resources to build your list and craft compelling emails, but people still prefer to get their information this way, and that quality traffic will translate into more sales for your business. How quickly is your list growing and how do they convert?

Retention 

8. Companies that excel at customer experience grow revenues four to eight percent above the market

If you want to grow, you can’t do it alone. You’ll need loyal enthusiasts. If you can provide the kind of experience that keeps customers not only coming back, but gladly telling everyone about you, your revenue will naturally grow. How long does a customer stay with your company? What’s your LTV? How can you make it better?

9. Loyal customers are five times as likely to repurchase, five times as likely to forgive, four times as likely to refer, and seven times as likely to try a new offering

Creating a fanbase of loyal customers means you’ll have consistent business, constant new leads, the freedom to try new things, and the ability to make mistakes. Successful growth is inextricable from customer experience. 

10. 80% of your future profits will come from just 20% of your existing customers

You can cast a wide net when marketing your business, but remember that a core of regular customers will make up the base of your revenue. It’s the responsibility of everyone at the company to complement acquisition with retention strategies

In fact, Bain & Company found that “a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%”.

These ten quick growth marketing metrics are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding the growth marketing game. If you want to know the ultimate secret for skyrocketing overnight growth, we’ll tell you: 

It doesn’t exist. 

That statement might feel a bit controversial coming from a growth marketing team, but we’re tired of people repeating the idea that you can flip a switch and acquire thousands of new customers overnight. Scaling your business is hard, and growth marketing is not a hat trick

Rather, growth marketing is a path to creating intentional and sustainable expansion. It’s balancing high-risk/high-return campaigns with low-risk/low-return campaigns to find the perfect formula for your company.

Growth marketing isn’t just about quickly increasing your numbers, either. It’s investing your money intelligently to create valuable, relevant campaigns that your ideal buyer both wants and needs with the expectation that this will, over time, impact your bottom line. It’s a continual process of learning and self-improvement. 

Rome wasn’t built in a day, so why should your growth marketing strategy be? Trying to do everything at once will likely result in mediocrity across the board.

It can be hard to define and prioritize goals, but that’s the real benefit of working with a  growth marketing team. They’ll help you not only understand what to do, but why you’re doing it. 

They’ll first help you gather and analyze key data for your business. From there, you’ll work together to create hypotheses to identify why certain processes are happening.

Next, they’ll help you prioritize the ideas that have the most potential to spur growth. In implementing those ideas, you’ll be running experiments to confirm or disprove the earlier hypotheses. This cycle repeats until you have a refined and definitive growth marketing strategy that speaks to your company’s unique needs.

We’d love to work with you.

Schedule a call with our team and we’ll analyze your marketing, product, metrics, and business. Then, present a Growth Plan with actionable strategies to find and keep more engaged customers.

Got Funding? 5 Growth Marketing Steps to Take Now

Woman brainstorming on whiteboard

Securing funding for your business is a major step. And it’s something you should rightfully celebrate. But when the champagne runs dry, you’ll probably be feeling the crunch to get things moving.

Receiving financial backing is encouraging for startups because it means that people believe in you and your idea. But it also means that you now have external parties involved. And with those parties comes a lot of associated pressure and expectation (and fun!).

You’ve got money in the bank now, however, so the time has come to move quickly and strategically. The goal should be putting those funds to the best use while showing your stakeholders that they backed the right horse. There are five key steps you need to take after a funding round to capitalize on this exciting and important time in the life of your business.

1. Level up your team

For most companies, once they’ve got some funds to work with, their first thought goes to team.

The first element you’ll need to consider is whether you want to hire someone to be in-house full time, or whether it’s more beneficial to partner with an external team. Whichever direction you choose to go, your focus should be on finding people with a specific and proven track record of success in growing startup revenue.

There are a lot of talented potential hires out there, but you want to make sure you’re prioritizing the candidates that have real-life experience with this kind of growth work. You’ll want to look for people who have clocked five or more years of time scaling brands, and doing it with rock-solid strategy and execution.

If you choose to bring someone in-house, at this early stage, what you need the most are generalists. You want a growth marketer who has a broad knowledge covering a wide range of tactics with in-depth knowledge in one or two specific areas.

If you choose to partner with an external team during this phase of your growth, look for a team that is efficient, decisive, and ready to learn and adapt. Work to integrate them fully into your business, both via processes and communication channels.

Whether you go with internal or external hires, making smart moves and putting together a strong team with proven growth experience will be a clear signal to your investors. It will reassure them that you have the skills within the team to execute on your plan and deliver on your plan.

2. Rally behind shared goals

Having other people’s money in your hands can give you a real sense of urgency to deliver results. But you can’t do that effectively if you haven’t even defined what success looks like.

Everyone should deeply understand the driving force of the company. To do this, you need to identify the growth marketing metrics that matter most to you and make sure everyone on the team is working towards those.

Additionally, you need to make sure there is buy-in from top to bottom. A company’s founder(s) will naturally always be the most invested in the mission of the brand, but if you hire smart and discuss these metrics early on, the entire team can move like one cohesive unit.

And for your existing employees, remember that raising capital is an exciting but stressful time. Once it passes and you’ve secured that money, it can be easy for people to drop the ball or forget what they were working towards in the first place. So rally around your people, and be in constant conversation with them.

At Tuff, we think this step is so critical to success that we hold weekly meetings with our startup clients. We align on goals, see how we’re pacing, and make sure we’re always learning and inching closer to our north star.

3. Refine your processes

Again, it’s totally understandable if you’re eager to move immediately once you receive funding. But if you want to build truly sustainable growth, you have to lay the groundwork first.

To that end, we suggest that you refrain from implementing any new tactics for the first 30 days after securing funding. Focus instead on setting up the right processes before diving into the execution phase of things.

Regardless of whether you hire in-house or bring in a partner like Tuff, your growth marketing team is going to need time to dig deeper on:

  • Mission
  • Business Objectives & Key Metris
  • Unique Selling Point
  • Reviews and Customer Insights
  • Product
  • Business operations
  • Previous market efforts
  • Performance metrics (CPM – CTR – CPA – CAC – LTV)
  • Organic Traction

Then, they’ll need to put on paper a full-funnel roadmap to reach your growth goals. One that outlines tactics, deliverables, testing plan, and spend.

You want to move as quickly as possible in this phase, but you also want to move strategically, with purpose and intention. Doing so will not only provide better results for you but will also show your investors that you are taking a thoughtful and measured approach. Taking the time to do things right shows them that you respect their contributions and intend to utilize them efficiently.

4. Identify what works and scale that

You’re growing, and that’s great, but chances are that if you’re moving smartly, you’re still operating in a pretty lean fashion. Your time, money, and people are limited, and you can’t afford to waste any of that on channels that aren’t profitable.

Let your team do some quick experimenting, document the results, and uncover the channels that provide you with the most generous returns. Then throw all your energy into effectively and smartly scaling those channels to show your investors some timely and reassuring results. This will help you get an early win and increase everyone’s confidence across the board.

5.Test it all, internalize every number, and use those results to inform what you do next

This one is so important. You can hire great people and rally them around your vision, but if you don’t track the details of what is and isn’t working with your strategies, you’ll get stuck once you’re ready to scale.

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 effectively shooting blind.

Leveraging the data you gather to improve your performance is what separates good companies from great companies. Don’t rely on hunches or surface metrics to determine your course of action, either. Dig into the hard numbers, and let them lead you in the right direction. We promise they won’t steer you wrong.

Getting funding for your business is exciting. And we understand how much hard work it takes to get there. To honor all that effort, though, it’s important that you take the right steps after a funding round to get the most out of what you’ve been given.

We’d love to work with you.

Schedule a call with our team and we’ll analyze your marketing, product, metrics, and business. Then, present a Growth Plan with actionable strategies to find and keep more engaged customers.

tuff-lead-gen-strategies

What Really Works with Lead Gen?

B2B businesses face a unique challenge when it comes to growth marketing. Generating consistent demand and keeping your pipeline full of qualified leads is the best way to establish successful growth, but how exactly should you approach making that happen?

Do you focus on targeting specific buyers directly with explicitly account-based marketing tactics? Or do you attempt to appeal to a larger audience in the hopes that the right buyers will find you? In the end, it’s all about balance.

If you want to supercharge your lead pipeline, you’re going to have to embrace a variety of tactics across an array of mediums. We created this guide to help you do that. Read on for actionable steps you can take to tweak your strategy in a way that will increase lead generation and support positive, sustainable growth.

Understanding Your Audience

Underpinning every aspect of your strategy should be an understanding of your ideal customer. Once you have a solid grasp on your audience, you’ll be better able to create effective content and understand which channels and tactics best serve your goals of reaching that audience. There are two important elements to doing that.

User Research

You may think that you already know who your customer is. You probably have data that tells you what industry they’re most likely to be in, their general age range, their title, and what problem your product or service solves for them.

That’s all great information to have, but it’s not enough. The picture it paints is, unfortunately, pretty one-dimensional.

If you really want to unlock growth, you’re going to have to get a lot more cozy with your customers. Go beyond the surface. You need to understand how they think.

What motivates them? What are their most trusted sources for information? What questions are they going to ask your team? What will their objections be when it’s time to close the sale? You have to really dig deep!

To do this, you’ll need to engage with your current and past customers. This could include doing phone or email surveys, sorting through past correspondences to gather data, and having in-depth meetings with your customer service and sales teams. The big key here is listening—and not just for what you want to hear, but what your customers are really saying.

We undertook a wide-scope customer research project for our client, The Buy Guys, and found that meshing both a qualitative and quantitative approach unlocked massive hidden potential. After using this deeper customer understanding to implement some changes in the way they communicated with their audience, their leads went up by 138%!

Effective customer research is a big undertaking, but one that is at the core of any successful growth strategy. Once you really pin down who your customer is and how they behave, you’ll know where to meet them and exactly how to speak to them in a way that will both resonate and spur them to action.

Creating Customer Personas

Now that you’ve completed that all-important user research, you can move on to segmenting your customer base by developing personas for each “type” of customer. Having these unified archetypes in place will help your entire team more deeply understand the customer and how to serve them best.

Operating with these personas in mind will affect your organization from top to bottom. They’ll guide product design, as well as help you more effectively organize your campaigns to determine which initiatives will be the most fruitful use of your time and resources. Having solid personas in place also helps the entire team unite around a customer-focused mission.

You’ll use the data you gathered in the research phase to give your personas real depth. Rather than the persona being, “James is a marketing director aged 30 to 35, married with no children, has a college degree,” it will be something more like, “James is a marketing professional with an advanced degree. He looks primarily to industry influencers for his new product recommendations. He has a lot of creative ideas but struggles with efficiency and implementation. He is heavily active on Twitter and Reddit.”

The most important thing about creating personas is capturing that nuance. You want to make this person as real as possible so that you can run scenarios and get results that unlock the best ways to motivate this person to purchase your product or service. That nuance won’t come from assumptions or “gut feelings” about who your audience is, but rather a significant data set and genuine connection with—and understanding of—your customers.

Content

The kind of content you produce as a B2B company is going to be very different from the content a B2C company puts out there. B2B customers tend to be very focused on how investing in your product or service can result in tangible returns for them. You’re not just selling a product to a customer—you’re selling them the promise of increased profits.

The way you approach content marketing, therefore, has to be different too. There are three main points of focus that you need to zero in on as you position your content strategy for optimal growth.

Keyword Research

When businesses are struggling with a pain point and hunting for a solution, the first place most of them will go is the internet. Having your site and related content rank highly on search engines is the best way to get your product or service in front of them in their time of need.

The best way to do that is to crack the keyword puzzle. Finding the perfect set of keywords for your particular business is not a “hunch” game, but rather an involved process of research and testing. There are multiple tools available to conduct this research.

Not only will these tools help you discover keywords you might never have thought of, but they’ll also help you test and determine what’s really worth your money. For instance, your research might uncover that trying to rank highly for seriously competitive short tail terms (think “technology,” “management,” “software,” etc.) isn’t cost-effective. But there may be some long tail keywords with very little competition that you can incorporate into your content to land yourself on page one of the search engine results.

You also want to consider search intent when it comes to choosing your keywords. Do you want to rank highly for informational searches? If your goal is to increase brand awareness, then probably so. Or are you only interested in ranking for transactional intent keywords (meaning that when people search for those terms, they’re ready to buy)?

Consider your audience and your end goal here. Look at the entire picture before determining which keywords you want to go after.

On-Page Optimizations

Optimizing each page on your site will take some time, yes, but it’s worth it. The first step in this process is auditing your technical SEO—in other words, ensuring that your code is top-notch. Make sure that your site is set up in a way that maximizes every possible opportunity for crawlers to index it.

Next, ensure a flawless user experience. Is your site easy to navigate? Does the site load quickly? Does it function fluidly on mobile devices? If not, you’re going to see visitors abandon your site more often, which means you’ll struggle to rank highly on the SERP.

When people click on your link from a keyword search, are they taken to the correct page? If someone has transactional intent and is ready to purchase, but your link for that keyword sends them to your blog, that’s a missed opportunity. If they’re only looking for information about your brand and you send them directly to a product page, they could be turned off. It’s important to consider the customer’s entire journey when you’re organizing your on-page SEO.

Lastly, if you want to rank highly for your desired keywords, you need to make sure they appear throughout your site. This is why keyword research is so important. You don’t want to choose a set of keywords only to have to go back and attempt to shoe-horn them into your site in a way that doesn’t make sense, which leads to our last point.

Consistent, Quality Content

There is nothing more effective for increasing your SERP positioning than becoming a source of trusted content. The more people click on your content, the more it catches the attention of the search engine algorithm. A great way to do that is to embrace the hub-and-spoke approach to aggregating your content.

In this model, you create a central location to house all of your related content around a certain topic (your “hub”) and, from there, link out to pages that contain anything related to that topic (your “spokes”). This method is great for increasing your site’s ranking, as it focuses on providing customers with a broad and deep base of knowledge while also making great use of internal linking and on-page optimization. Search engines also give you a boost because users will spend more time on your site.

Focusing on high-quality content will take an investment of both time and money, but it’s more than worth it when you consider the returns. Finding a way to differentiate your content from that of your competitors is key, so focus on unique content that is hard to duplicate. You can do this by making sure to include relevant and up-to-date data as well as quotes from industry leaders and input from experts in the field.

PPC

The B2B approach to pay-per-click marketing is naturally going to differ a bit from the B2C approach. You probably already realize that, as your audience has a much narrower scope than that of a business selling apparel or consumer electronics. Understanding those differences upfront will help inform your campaign and make it more successful.

How Is B2B Unique?

Your buyers won’t all look alike. Depending on the company, any number of roles might be in charge of procuring products and services to help the business grow (see the Creating Customer Personas section above for more). You must keep that in mind when creating ad creative and copy.

Your buyers are also more likely to be doing heavy comparison shopping, as the purchase will probably be a large investment or an ongoing relationship. You’ll need to do a lot more in the way of proving the value of your product or service, rather than running “deals” or focusing on flashy imagery. You’ll want your paid search terms to lead to things like white papers and case studies that help the buyer see—in black and white, backed up by numbers—why your product is superior.

Lastly, your sales cycle is going to be a lot longer than a B2C cycle. It can take three to six months to see any ROI for a B2B campaign, so don’t get downtrodden if you don’t see immediate results from PPC. They will come!

Executing PPC for B2B

As with any good PPC campaign, your first step is research. You want to make sure you have a deep understanding of your market and, beyond that, how that market operates in a PPC landscape.

Before you go throwing money at paid search, figure out what people are searching for when they find you. Weed out any terms that are leading people to you for products or services that are related to what you sell but aren’t actually in your offerings.

For example, say you sell software for alarm systems but not the associated hardware. You want to make sure people aren’t finding your site when they search “motion detector sensors,” as those would be fruitless clicks that never translate to sales for you.

As for keywords, figure out which search terms are most used in your industry. With B2B companies, acronyms are far more common than in B2C searches. Also, if you sell something with a unique part or model number, that should definitely be in your keyword bank.

It’s useful to think about the customer relationship when choosing keywords, as well. You’ll probably want to toss “vendor,” “supplier,” “tool,” or “partner” into the mix, depending upon how your internal structure is set up.

Next, you’ll want to group your ads into sections corresponding to your sales funnel. The way you market to someone who is just discovering your brand is going to be very different than how you market to someone who is ready to pull the trigger, after all.

For searchers in those early stages, you’ll want your copy to lean on things like white papers and any awards or distinctions your company has earned. For searchers further down the funnel, you may want to drill down into more specifics about your product or service to help make that final conversion.

The Power of Copy

Your approach to ad copy is also going to be unique. B2B companies don’t have the same types of CTAs that a B2C company would have. There is no “buy now!” or “add to cart” in the B2B world.

Very rarely does anyone impulse purchase your product or service. Typically, your buyer undertakes a significant amount of research and will need to have multiple conversations with you and then internally with their own team before making a purchase. Because of this extended sales cycle, your ad copy should focus on phrases like “download our free white paper” or “set up a free consultation today.”

You also want to communicate value to potential buyers effectively. How you do that will differ depending on their role in the company. Are they the CEO? The CFO?

Use your research to create those personas so that your copy reaches them in a more targeted fashion. A CEO, for example, might love to see that your product is “best in class,” whereas the CFO is going to do a double-take when they spot “cost-effective” in your copy.

You can also utilize your ad copy to prequalify leads. When you’re paying per click, this is super important, as it reduces wasteful ad spend.

Your copy should be as specific as possible when it comes to what you offer, since there are so many niche B2B businesses. By showcasing the exact product/service and maybe even mentioning a price range (e.g., “With packages starting at $250 . . .”), you’re weeding out anyone who isn’t looking for exactly what you’re selling and/or can’t afford what you’re charging. This means that everyone who clicks on that link will be a quality lead.

Set It and Forget It?

The last step to take with your PPC strategy is to make time for regular evaluations of it. Best practices and search algorithms are changing at a rapid pace. Not only do you want to make sure that you’re getting a solid return on the time and effort you’ve spent to build these campaigns, but you want to make sure you’re always using the most current and up-to-date tools at your disposal so that you can get the most bang for your buck!

Paid Social

Social media is a massive sales driver for the B2C business sector, but a lot of B2B companies have avoided really entering the fray. And we understand why: Brands selling skincare or sparkling jewelry likely benefit from a highly visual and enticing medium like social, but if you’re selling group health insurance or wholesale auto parts, it can be hard to imagine how Instagram could help you find new business.

But no matter how unsexy or “boring” your industry might feel, there are people active on social media who would be interested in buying your product or service. Again, it’s about doing the research and finding a way to connect with them.

Goals and Strategy

First, you need to determine what you want to get out of this and how you’ll measure your success in that regard. Do you want to increase awareness? Then you’ll keep an eye on your follower count.

Or maybe what you want is engagement. In that case, keep tabs on how many “likes” and “shares” each post receives. Ultimately, the goal is more conversions, of course, but laying the groundwork for how to get there is vital.

Once you’ve established your goals, you need to commit to a strategy (and write it down!). Identify your target audience, and consider what type of content they would want to see. Even if it’s not 100% specific to purchasing your product or service, if you’re providing them with quality content that is relevant to their daily life, they’re going to engage with your brand more. Don’t forget to take a look at what your competitors are doing on social as well, including what is and isn’t working for them.

Brand Voice

A big part of executing a paid social strategy for B2B companies is not being dry. People log into social media to relax and converse with friends. Being stale or robotic is a great way to get them to scroll right past your ad.

Create a persona for your brand on social, and stick to it. Are you playful and a bit cheeky? Motivational and inspiring? Authentically and genuinely passionate about what you do? Positioning yourself as an industry trendsetter or forward-thinker?

Whatever fits your brand best, embrace that voice, and then use it to engage with other users about things other than your products or services. Provide value for the community by sharing about initiatives you’re undertaking or trends in your industry that you find interesting. Be warm and personable, and show people the humanity behind the keyboard.

Where to Be, What to Do, and Who Should Do It

Determine in the research phase where your strongest following will be and focus your attention on those channels. While for many B2B businesses, this is LinkedIn, don’t discount having a presence on other channels as well.

YouTube and Vimeo can be great channels for video content that showcases your products and tells your brand’s story. And Twitter and Facebook have an astonishing number of users who are active every day.

Look at where your industry’s leaders are present and thriving to get some ideas of where you might be successful. Look at the demographics for the top platforms. But be wary of stretching yourself too thin; only take on what you can effectively manage. It’s better to not be on a channel than to be there and do nothing.

Once you’ve got yourself set up in the right spots, you can begin rolling out your strategy. Encourage your employees to be advocates and share the brand’s posts on their personal social profiles. Connect with other users who are looking for solutions in your wheelhouse.

Don’t just link your products over and over, either. Really engage in conversations with people, and provide resources (both internal and external to your company). This will situate you as an expert and help build a relationship of trust between you and the user, making it more likely that when they go shopping for a solution, they’ll remember your name.

Lastly, you want to make sure the right person in your company is holding the reins on this. While most people these days use social media, that doesn’t mean they can manage a business account effectively. An understanding of the industry does not translate to being able to use this medium to generate new leads.

If no one on your team has experience or is eager to take on social, you may need to make a new hire. If you don’t have it in the budget to hire a social media manager, consider working with an agency or freelancer to help you out. In a world where social media dominates the conversation, it’s essential that your company be present and engaging.

We hope this guide has been helpful to you as you work towards increasing quality lead generation for your B2B business. We know it seems like there are a lot of moving parts. But with proper research, planning, and testing, these tips can really help you elevate your business and put you on a path towards solid growth.

B2B businesses have very different needs when it comes to growth strategy. But don’t let that prevent you from chasing down avenues to expand your business and increase your profits.

We’d love to work with you.

Schedule a call with our team and we’ll analyze your marketing, product, metrics, and business. Then, present a Growth Plan with actionable strategies to find and keep more engaged customers.