tuff-growth-hacking

What The Hack Is Growth Hacking?

Busy highway

In our previous blog post about growth marketing, we dove into the world of growth marketing in an effort to understand how it works, what makes it different from traditional marketing, and why your company needs to embrace it. If you’ve been reading much about how to stimulate business growth, chances are highly likely that you’ve stumbled across the phrase “growth hacking” as well, so we’d be remiss not to address it. 

You may be wondering what the difference is between growth marketing and growth hacking, and if one is preferable to the other. The terms are often used interchangeably, and there certainly exists an overlap in the goals of growth marketers and growth hackers. Ultimately they are both data-driven approaches that are hyper-focused on metrics and hitting KPIs. 

But there is also a lot about growth hacking that is misunderstood or misinterpreted. We want to break down a few of those misconceptions to help you better understand what growth hacking really is (and isn’t).

Myth #1: Growth Hacking Is a New

The term growth hacking may be quite buzzy right now, but the concept itself isn’t really anything new. It was first coined in 2010 in a blog post written by influential entrepreneur and angel investor Sean Ellis. It really blew up a few years later, though, when Andrew Chen (who was working with Uber at the time) boldly declared that “Growth Hacker is the new VP Marketing.” 

But even before these two gave it a name and some viral traction, companies like Facebook and LinkedIn were building their marketing strategies around a scientific approach to rapid growth. This type of innovative and strategic thinking has been around for decades

Myth #2: Growth Hacking Is a Magic Wand

The way growth hacking is hyped up, it’s easy to see why businesses would think it’s an overnight fix. But the sky remains blue, and business remains a long game. There is no wizardry in the world that can provide instant results, and time and effort are still necessary components to success with this approach. 

Both growth marketing and growth hacking are all about intentionality and efficiency. So while there is always a chance you’ll hit on something huge and have a viral campaign on your hands, that shouldn’t be your expectation right out of the gate. 

These methods focus, instead, on constant testing and tweaking to uncover growth opportunities. That can’t happen overnight. Additionally, it might take some serious shifts in the way your business operates to get there. But nothing worth having ever comes without effort, right? 

Myth #3: Growth Hacking Is a One-Man Show

In the early days of growth hacking, there was an unfounded belief that this type of work was the purview of one very specific type of person. The idea that you could hire a growth hacking “guru” who was a marketing genius with crazy coding skills to come in and revitalize your dying business was rampant.

As time has inevitably proven, however, that’s not the case. Growth is literally never a one-person job.

Do you need someone on your growth team who has coding skills? Yes. Someone with extensive marketing experience? Yes. Someone with an intimate working knowledge of your products and services? Yes. Someone who is well-versed in data analysis? Yes.

Can (or should) one person do all those things? Absolutely not.  

While it’s great to look for people with a unique skill set to help propel your business’ growth, don’t fall for the lie that any one person can do all of this for you. Partnering with a growth team or fleshing out your growth team by bringing in contract workers to complement your full-time employees is one thing, but remember that no man is an island. If someone promises you they can deliver astronomical results single-handedly, walk away. 

Myth #4: Growth Hacking Is a One-Size-Fits-All Solution

Just as growth hacking is sometimes considered a magic bullet, there is also the misconception that there is a growth hacking “playbook” that anyone can take a page from and find success. Would that it were that easy, but it’s simply not the case. 

The growth game is all about zeroing in on what works for your brand and your customers. That’s why the approach is based on the scientific method and involves countless rounds of testing and revision. It’s all about individuality, so what works for your business is very unlikely to work for someone else’s, even if you’re in the same industry. 

Each business is going to have a unique path to sustainable growth. While there is a general framework of processes many growth hackers work from, it’s vital that your approach be tailored to your product, audience, industry, etc. Growth hacking is not a copy-and-paste solution any more than traditional marketing is.

Myth #5: Growth Hacking Can Make Up for an Inferior Product

What’s that old saying? Ah, yes: ”You can’t put lipstick on a pig.”

Many businesses have made the mistake of indulging the thought that growth hacking can provide a boost to their bottom line even if they’re selling a subpar product. If you’re running into product quality or customer satisfaction concerns, though, attempting to create a “viral” moment won’t help anything. 

But growth hacking can ultimately help you improve your product. The kind of instant feedback loop this approach creates can help you tweak not only your marketing but your product and service offerings as well.

It can be difficult to admit that your product isn’t everything you wanted it to be, but look at it as an opportunity to work out the bugs and uncover areas for improvement that will ultimately clear the path to sustainable growth. You’ll be better off for it in the long run. 

Forget Hacking and Embrace Processes

At Tuff, we have to admit to having a bit of a knee-jerk reaction to the use of the term “hacking” when it comes to discussing growth. Frankly, you can’t hack together long-term sustainable growth; you have to earn it. Chen himself even spoke out recently saying that in many ways, he regretted his role in the popularization of the term, as it has been co-opted by content marketers trying to sell quick-fixes to businesses that should instead be focusing on overhauling their processes.

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. But our philosophy is that while the concepts behind it are solid, “growth hacking” is largely a buzzword. At its core, it’s really just an attempt to describe how brands find success by embracing non-traditional methods of growth. 

Whether you’re a startup or an established player, growth is always going to be one of your primary challenges. So it’s understandable that businesses are eager to believe it’s possible to “hack” your way into it.

But what you should really be focusing on is refining your processes and optimizing your efforts. At the end of the day, if you’re giving your customers what they want and need, and you’re staying plugged in to the pulse of your business, the byproduct is going to be a kind of natural, organic expansion. 

Rather than looking for tricks or hacks, businesses would ultimately be better served by focusing on developing and deploying their own growth processes. It’s easy to be distracted by exciting, shiny new things that promise instant results, but the reality is that creating sustainable, stable growth is a tall order. And frankly, it can feel boring sometimes. 

But the brands that really nail the growth game aren’t those that experience one instance of rapid explosion. It’s the ones that put in the hard work to find the right catalyst for that explosion point and go in armed with a fully fleshed-out plan for how to capitalize on—and continue—that growth after the initial shine wears off.

The landscape of marketing is constantly changing, so growth initiatives simply can’t be a one-off thing. Growth has to be an integral and ongoing part of your business plan.

Your approach has to be able to evolve. It has to be able to pivot. There are lots of great ideas underpinning growth hacking, but make sure you don’t get caught up in the hype. 

If you want to explore more about how to approach creating a smart and sustainable growth plan for your business, reach out. We’d be happy to set you up with one of our free 30-minute growth strategy sessions. We’ll meet with your team to talk through some ideas for growth that are specific to your brand and your long-term goals; no “hacks” needed! 

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-growth-marketing

Growth Marketing: What It Is and Why You Need It

Person analyzing business growth on laptop & phone

Editor’s note: This content was updated in January 2020.
Original publication date: September 2019

Growth, as it relates to business, is generally defined as, “The process of improving some measure of an enterprise’s success.” When you consider that definition through the lens of marketing, what does “improvement” really mean to you? More sales? More leads? An expansion of your product line or service offerings? All of the above? 

Growth marketing aims to address them all. At its heart, growth marketing is about going beyond the surface of advertising and diving further into the sales funnel, using data-driven analysis and experimentation to unlock avenues of growth for your business. It is a unique approach to marketing that focuses on the use of the scientific method combined with creative tactics to identify the best possible way for your business to attract more engaged customers. 

Growth Marketing versus Traditional Marketing

The marketing industry is full of buzzwords and “growth” has been a big one lately. We can’t blame you if you’re thinking that all marketing is ultimately growth-focused, so why the need for this special designation?

It’s the job of any marketing expert to grow your revenue, right? The difference, though, is all about how they get there. 

Traditional marketing focuses primarily on two goals: awareness and customer acquisition. It seeks to play the long game of creating brand recognition and building reputation. Both of those things are incredibly important, but if you’re just starting out (or your growth is stalled), you may not have the luxury of the time it takes to see results from that type of approach. 

Growth marketing, on the other hand, aims to deliver more rapid results. It uses experimentation and testing to identify ways of maximizing opportunities at every stage of the sales funnel.

It also considers the LTV (life-time value) of each customer. Rather than focusing solely on “getting bodies in the door,” it creates a framework that hones in on the right customers and then engages them throughout the sales cycle, keeping them coming back for more with proven customer retention strategies. 

On its face, growth marketing also looks very different than traditional marketing. A classical approach to marketing usually includes considerable time spent in the stages of planning, strategy, and creative development prior to rolling out a campaign.

The work is mostly frontloaded, and once deployed, the only thing you can really do is hope for the best and wait to see how it shakes out. There may be some audience testing done beforehand to inform the campaign’s general direction, but that’s about the extent of customer feedback involved in the process. 

Growth marketing, conversely, is a real-time game. Don’t get us wrong—there is absolutely creative thought put into strategy, but much of the strength of this approach lies in its ability to pivot quickly and easily based on audience response. Effective growth marketing is all about failing fast, retooling your approach, and attacking every possible angle in order to unearth that hidden growth potential.

Responsibilities of a Growth Marketing Team

This type of marketing can honestly feel radical if you’ve never done it before. But the benefits it brings are more than worth scaling the learning curve. The kind of team you’ll need, and the way they’ll work, will be totally different than a traditional marketing department. 

To be effective in growth marketing, your company must be willing to make major changes to things like onboarding and workflows. There may even be a need for larger organizational and process overhauls if the results of testing show that’s what’s necessary for growth. 

Your team should be well-rounded, with a wide array of skills and an understanding that runs the full gamut of your business operations. While growth marketing is a data-driven approach, a data analyst alone cannot bring you success. You need to marry that scientific approach with innovative creative, an adept understanding of your product/service, and effective project management if you want the execution to be truly fluid. 

You may already have rockstars in your ranks that can fill some of the spots on your new growth team, but don’t be afraid to go a more non-traditional route if that’s what’s necessary to build the best team. Contract employees can help fill in those knowledge gaps while also bringing new energy to the table.

Once you’ve established your dream team, and you’re aligned on the essential growth marketing metrics, there are four main phases of effort that should drive all their work:

1. Identify Areas The Need Testing and Improvement

A growth team needs to understand its customers. Digging into the company’s history and culture can help them paint a more holistic picture of the brand. This will be of vital importance as they work to define the right growth priorities and situate their objectives in the proper context. 

Next, they’ll need to perform an audit of your current marketing strategies. They should be looking at customer metrics, finding your ideal customers, and the performance of each channel you’re currently using, just for starters. An honest accounting of the current atmosphere will help them zero in on both the obvious and not-so-obvious areas where there is room for improvement.

This is also a great time to do a competitive analysis and break down what is and isn’t working for your competitors. You may discover some new growth channels worth exploring during this exercise.

2. Crafting Experiments to Optimize Processes in Those Areas

Once your team has identified the areas where you’re struggling or where you’re leaving something on the table, it’s time for them to put their heads together. They should spend this time brainstorming ideas about how to improve metrics and close gaps. This is an area where having a diverse team really pays off, as they should have a wealth of ideas and thoughts to explore. 

Make sure you don’t inadvertently limit their thinking or confine them to a box; some of the best and most viral growth marketing campaigns have been born of that spirit of “throw everything at the wall and prioritize from there.” Growth marketing initiatives can be edgy. They can be inexpensive or even deceptively “simple.” But what they should always be is scrappy and smart. 

It’s normal to be eager to start a growth campaign, but make sure you give your team ample time and space to come up with plenty of ideas during this phase. Going in fully loaded will mean they’re ready to do extensive experimentation and pivot quickly without having to return entirely to the drawing board before making adjustments.

3. Conducting Experiments to Test Hypothesized Solutions

Now it’s time for organized, smart, and efficient execution. Your team will roll out their first experiments in the hopes of moving the needle on whatever initiative is your top priority. Chances are high that the testing period will be fast and furious.

Growth marketing doesn’t play the game of waiting weeks or months to gauge consumer buy-in on a campaign, so don’t be shocked if your team abandons one avenue just days after they debuted it, or if they A/B test various options in different markets to compare results. The goal here is to amass as much data as possible as quickly as possible.

4. Analyzing Initial Results and Adjusting to Experiment Further If Needed

Once that quick initial testing period is complete, your team will analyze results and determine how to move forward. They may have hit on something golden that they want to continue leaning into, or they may have been surprised by a new area of opportunity they hadn’t expected. Either way, now is the time for adjustments and continued experimentation. 

The tweaks they make may be small, such as changing a headline or a few snippets of ad copy. Or they may introduce entirely new creative, or go in a completely new direction. It can be nerve-wracking to watch it all unfold—especially if you’re used to traditional campaigns that are complex, sprawling, and defined—but you have to trust the process. 

An effective growth marketing team will move very fast in gathering and processing customer data and adjusting their approach accordingly. This is why it’s so important to give them time in the brainstorming phase to stock up on ideas. The process is ultimately one of the continuous small changes until you hit on the perfect combination of creative, copy, channel, and audience. But once you find that sweet spot, you’ll be ready to scale up what works. 

We hope this quick rundown helps you understand a bit more about how growth marketing works and what it could potentially do to energize your company. If you want to learn more about how to leverage this unique marketing approach to generate rapid, sustainable growth for your business, you can check out these top growth marketing experts or give us a shout. We’d love to connect. 

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.

How To Run Paid Acquisition Campaigns For Your Subscription Business

We sometimes get questions about how other clients work with Tuff to reach their growth goals — so we’re sharing some stories to help bring our services to life. Meet Beer Drop.

Beer Drop is an all Colorado beer subscription delivering only the freshest beers from Colorado’s best small breweries you won’t find in stores. 

As a growing business, Beer Drop came to Tuff looking for a growth marketing partner that would help scale customer acquisition leveraging ppc and paid social. With clear goals and an aggressive testing plan, we’ve worked closely with Beer Drop to continually hit our growth goals and customer acquisition targets. The Beer Drop team works strategically on the product while the Tuff team is responsible for executing growth strategies that deliver quality traffic. This combination, so far, has been pure magic. 

  • In the first month, we started slow. We focused on audience research, targeting, and message development. We validated that Facebook and Google were the right fit for Beer Drop and could successfully deliver subscribers. 
  • In the second month, we tripled our budget and went for scale. We expanded our geo-targeting, introduced video, and refined the sign up flow. 

From initial launch to today, as an integrated team, we’ve been able to increase subscriptions by 531% while simultaneously driving down cost per subscription by 61%.  

Building and optimizing a customer acquisition strategy on Facebook and Google to get results like this is not easy. It’s not rocket science either, though. If your execution is data-driven and marketing and product can work as one, you can see results like this, too. 

Talk to your existing customers

When it comes to successful ppc and paid social campaigns, we spend 50% or more of our time understanding what the customers’ needs are. This is so often overlooked but incredibly critical. You have to know who your target audience is, what their problems are, and how they want to interact with you. Having these questions explicitly answered will allow you to build a much stronger customer acquisition strategy on Facebook and Google based on both qualitative and quantitative data.

During this phase, we like to: 

  • Talk to customers 
  • Read customer reviews 
  • Read competitor reviews 
  • Study social channels and followers 
  • Follow Google Analytics flows and analyze heatmaps 
  • Analyze Google Analytics audience data

Test different audiences and messages

When it comes to paid channels, especially Facebook, it’s easy to narrow in on visuals. This is important, absolutely, but don’t get stuck here. It’s more important to test early and often with multiple audiences than to spend weeks on creative development. 

At Tuff, for Facebook audiences, we take the 80/20 rule. We launch campaigns with 8+ audiences, find the top performers early and push spend to them, and then kill the rest. We did this with Beer Drop, too. In month one, we launched with 45 audiences across 5 campaigns. In our second campaign launch, we only launched with the top 30% of audiences in phase one. 

For Beer Drop, “top performing audiences” meant audiences that purchased subscriptions. This isn’t always the case though. When you are evaluating success and making audience optimizations, you have to link back to your campaign objective. Did you optimize for reach? Did you optimize for clicks? Did you optimize for sales? You need to evaluate campaign performance against the action you told Facebook you care the most about. 

Focus on your lowest hanging fruit

If you’re testing the waters with paid social and ppc, if you can focus on the low hanging fruit, do it. With limited time, money, and people, you want to put your best foot forward first. For subscription-based service, that could be: 

  • People who’ve added stuff to cart and have purchased
  • An email list you’re trying to reactivate
  • Retargeting audiences to a specific landing page 

That said, I’ll be honest, for Beer Drop, we ignored this completely. Beer Drop is based in Colorado and has more brand awareness in this market than any other state in the US. Our initial plan was to experiment with campaigns in Colorado because we thought the existing brand presence would help us convert at a higher rate. We changed directions before launch because of our overall business objectives. We needed to find out if paid acquisition would work in cities and states that had never heard of us before. It’s a balancing act really, how do you pair business objectives with the right experiments to give them the best chance to be successful? 

Optimize for subscriptions and not clicks

For Beer Drop, we tested out two types of campaign objectives. We ran a batch of click objective campaigns and a batch of subscription campaigns. This is an important distinction because it influences what optimization and bidding options you have throughout the campaign setup and ultimately how the ads are served. 

Our click objective campaigns, example below, we developed around a “quiz” concept where we wanted to drive as much traffic as possible to the quiz, collect an email, and then retarget. The engagement and click stats were bonkers. To no one’s surprise, people love beer quizzes almost as much as they love beer. Although we had incredible results here, we ultimately killed it because it wasn’t helping with our end to get more subscribers at an efficient cost. 

Our subscription objective campaigns, example of one of the ads below, were setup using custom conversion event tracking. We place code on the subscription confirmation page and tell Facebook to help us get our ads in front of people likely to subscribe. This doesn’t always work for newer brands or startups like Beer Drop but for us, because of our data-driven target and user-specific copy, it worked. 

Using real photos as social proof

Users have become pretty numb to overproduced videos and fancy creative. A few years ago the conversation with paid, especially Facebook, was “how do we stand out enough to get someone to stop scrolling?” but now, it’s “how do we get more real, more authentic, and blend in with our target audience?”. This is exciting for the small budgets and teams who want to test and experiment often. 

Here is a good example. The video below has no editing, took 3 minutes to film, was shot on an iPhone, and ever since launch, has been our best performing ad in almost every campaign: 

124 comments and 43 shares in two weeks? Yup, yup! 💪

To get this right, using real photos to drive results, revisit the “Talk to your existing customers” section of this post. It’s the one consistent thing you have to do all the time!

Learn from your traffic and make user flow optimizations

It’s not just about impressions or clicks, right? It’s about driving actions and subscribers. The customer acquisition equation is only complete when we focus as much on pre-click as post-click (and engagement and retention but let’s stick with acquisition for now!). 

When someone clicks on your Google ad or Instagram ad, what happens next? We like to use tools like Hotjar, Heap, and Optimizely to learn what users are doing when we actually get them to landing page or website. How can we make things more clear on the page, provide the right value, and remove friction? 

Beer Drop’s product team led the charge here. They’ve made small tweaks and adjustments at every stage of the user flow over the course of the last few minutes which has inched our conversion rate up and up. We would never see this type of growth, a 531% increase in MoM subscribers, without a product team committed to user improvements.

When it comes to paid social and ppc, remember that 90% of your traffic from these channels will be on mobile. Review your page in mobile, design in mobile, and make improvements based on mobile behavior. 

Use enough budget to test and get data to make better decisions

There’s no one set budget for starting out on Facebook and Google. When we think about test allocations, we start with the goals: “What do I want to learn from my paid advertising? What is the end goal? 

In the first phase with Beer Drop, we set out to answer:

  • What are my users responding to? 
  • Can I prove market fit on Facebook? 

We’ve seen that in order to answer questions like this, that you need daily budgets in the $200 to $400 a day range to get meaningful data. And be prepared, the early months are often not very profitable. I know everyone wants results, heck I’d be lying if I didn’t say Tuff is driven solely by results, but the trick is to have a smart testing plan to get data that’s statistically significant to your paid social and ppc efforts. What you prove on $100 in spend is not significant enough to say that it’s going to be the same if you spent $10,000. 

Whether you’re just testing the waters or ready to scale, figuring out how to acquire new customers on Facebook and Google is difficult. We’ve spent the past few years working with all kinds of different businesses, with small and large budgets, across a range of industries to help them figure this out. We’re still partnering with Beer Drop closely and will update this post with future results, challenges, success stories, and more. 

In the meantime, if you want to explore more about how to scale your customer acquisition with Tuff, or want a first-hand look at the data showcased above, touch base to set up a free, 30-minute growth strategy session with our team. We’d love to learn more about who you are and what you do so that we can help you find your way to the next level.

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-increasing-mobile-app-installs-tuff-case-study

16,947 App Installs Later: 8 Simple Ways to Grow Your App Installs With Facebook and Google Campaigns

We sometimes get questions about how other clients work with Tuff to reach their growth goals — so we’re sharing some stories to help bring our services to life. 

Your app is live and you’ve been steadily growing users over the last couple months. Now what? How do you scale faster without seeing massive spikes in cost? 

We teamed up with our partners at WatchBox and Rever, two very different companies with very different apps, objectives, and target audiences, to figure out if we could leverage Facebook and Google campaigns to: 

  • Increase mobile app installs by 3x 
  • Maintain Cost Per Install (CPI) targets below the industry average

And the results after 30 days? 

Spend:
$7,886.18

Quality Installs:
5,165

CPI:
$1.53

Industry Average:
$2.07

Focus:
In-App Actions

 

    Spend:
    $12,623.58

    Quality Installs:
    11,782

    CPI:
    $1.07

    Industry Average:
    $1.51

    Focus:
    Install Volume

Based on the data above, we doubled our investment for both accounts and scaled even larger – and we’re still experimenting with ways to improve efficiency. In this post, we’re happy to share what we’ve had success and hope they are helpful as you scale customer acquisition efforts on your own. 

Adopt the 80/20 audience strategy

When it comes to using Facebook campaigns for customer acquisition, app install focused or other, you strategy should be driven by the target audience. Who are you targeting and what do you care about? 

Start by analyzing your existing users and build from there. Where do they spend time online? How do they talk about your app? What other Facebook pages do they follow? What other apps do they use? 

Take this information and jump into your Facebook Audience Panel. Using a mix of lookalike, custom, and saved audiences, build a minimum of 10 separate audiences to target. Give each audience an intuitive name so it’s easy to remember and keep organized. 

You can also leverage Facebook’s audience insights tool. This will analyze the people who already follow your Facebook page and give you insights on the other pages they follow, like, and engage with. Use these insights to build out audiences using interests and behaviors. 

Find your hook

What is going to make someone hit download or subscribe? Finding the answer to this is key for increasing mobile app installs. 

After building out our target segments in Facebook’s audience panel, we create Facebook campaign concepts for each target segment. Both the copy and creative is developed with a particular audience in mind. We want to find the message that resonates the best and kill everything else. For example, we ran all three of these ads below to the same audience with the same creative. The only thing that was different was the copy. The winning ad quickly surfaced to the top and we were able to kill the other variations. 

Facebook mobile app install ad. Facebook mobile app install ad with video. Facebook mobile app install campaign.

Create multiple ads and formats on Facebook

We’ve seen success with single image ads, carousel ads, and video ads. If you have limited funds, a scenario that many startups — and even enterprise companies — face, you don’t need anything fancy. 

You can use the same creative for you single image campaigns as you do for you carousel campaigns. And if you don’t have a video, put it on the list for phase two. More tests give you better insight into which format will deliver better results. 

Facebook mobile app install example. Facebook mobile app install carousel ad.

Upload as many assets as possible for Google campaigns

Before you do anything on Google ads, make sure you configuring conversion tracking for installs. If this isn’t setup, there’s no point in running campaigns. 

Then, when you go to build your app campaigns, make sure you upload as many creative specs as possible. Google takes care of most of the optimizations for these campaigns and since it’s constantly learning, you want to give it as many creative combinations to test for you. Here are the specs you want to upload: 

Text install volume and in-app action campaign types

What’s your focus? Do you want to drive as many installs as possible regardless of the quality? Or do you want to only get downloads from users who are likely to use or purchase your app? When you go to setup your campaigns on Google, you can select from the below options: 

Install volume: campaigns that optimize towards driving app install volume 

In-app actions: campaigns that optimize towards cost for specific in-app event(s) post install (reaching X level, a sign up, etc.). For this you will need conversion tracking set up, either with Firebase or a 3rd party mobile measurement company. 

We start with the Install Volume campaign type to get data back quickly. Then, once we see success there, we integrate Firebase and run in-app campaigns. The Firebase integration can be technically tricky to setup, so if you are short on dev resources or don’t have dev support, skip this. 

Split campaigns by device

iOS and Android campaigns will perform differently. To know where you want to allocate more spend, knowing you CPI by device is extremely helpful. In the example below, you can see what had way better results on Andriod. We were able to identify this after a few days and push spend there. 

Facebook mobile app installs for iOS and Android.

Split campaigns by location

Similar to device, locations will perform very differently. Instead of lumping all your locations into one campaign, consider breaking them out, especially if your customer acquisition goals are international. 

For Rever, we were focused on install volume so allocated 65% of the budget to our best CPI market (EU). In phase two, when we were focused on upgrading free users to paid users, we shifted spend to the US because the market had the best free to premium conversion rate. 

Learn and then scale

If you’re new to Facebook and Google, building the right campaigns for customer acquisition is about traction – not scale. We start out with a max daily budget of $150 and this is spread out across anywhere from 15-25 ads sets (or audiences). That means each of the audiences in the first phase only get $2-3 bucks per day/max. 

Phase one is all about learning so you know exactly where to allocate the big bucks. At the end of two weeks, you want to know: 

  • What are my top three audiences? 
  • What device give us the best CPI? 
  • What message and creative is the best? 

With the answer to these questions, Increasing mobile app installs becomes easier. You can kill 80% of your ad sets and push all your budget into the top 20% to supercharge your customer acquisition results. For example with Rever, we had 12 different ad sets in our initial launch. Each ad set launched with $3/day budget. 

Once they went live, we start to kill low performing ad sets, drop in new ad sets, and push budget to the top performers. The below screenshot is the outcome after 14 days where you can see two audiences eventually received all the spend because they were driving the highest quality results. 

Facebook mobile app install results.

If you want to explore more about how to scale your customer acquisition, or want a first-hand look at the data showcased above, touch base to set up a free, 30-minute growth strategy session with the Tuff team. We’d love to learn more about who you are and what you do so that we can help you find your way to the next level.

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-growth-marketing-experts

9 Growth Marketers You Should Be Following Right Now

Want to learn more about growth marketing?

We rounded up nine of the top growth marketing experts in the industry right now. They’ve got a cross-section of skills and specialties and come from wildly varying backgrounds, showcasing what a complex and nuanced game growth can be.

We love following these master experimenters — and recommend you give them a follow, too.

1. Ana Santos: Master of UX Design and CRO

Ana’s expertise sits beautifully at the intersection of experience and connection and places the user’s needs front and center. Plenty of top growth marketing experts talk about the necessity of cultivating a loyal customer base, but Ana provides tangible instruction on how to actually do it in a way that remains authentic to your brand.

What we love about her work: 

  • Her approach is holistic, beginning with product/service clarity and definition and extending all the way to conversion rate optimization (CRO). 
  • She offers immersive courses on highly technical aspects of marketing, including heuristic evaluations (a method used to identify potential usability issues in software).
  • She really gets how to understand your users, and she conveys that clearly and accessibly through both her resources and her blog.

2. Joanna Vaiou: Queen of SEO

This Greek “SEO Lady Boss” originally launched her career by working on SEO project management for architecture firms. Her ability to optimize SEO for niche industries is formidable, and she’s a master of maximizing what Google has to offer. 

What we love about her work: 

  • She provides in-depth case studies to showcase her results in a data-driven format. 
  • Her Twitter feed is packed with SEO goodies.
  • She’s living the digital nomad lifestyle and sharing all her tips and tricks for working effectively without being tethered to one place.

3. Alicia King Anderson: SEO Strategy via Storytelling

Alicia is such a unique voice in the growth marketing space. Sure, she has impressive SEO chops, but most importantly, she’s a storyteller. She understands the value of captivating an audience and how that can ultimately lead to stronger conversion rates. 

What we love about her work: 

  • She uses her creative writing skills to infuse client SEO with a driving narrative.
  • Since she’s in the process of getting her Ph.D. in Mythological Studies, she approaches her work with an ultimate view to the long-term arc of a client’s story.
  • Her favorite part of SEO is puzzle-solving to approach strategy in a holistic way. 

4. Brian Peters: Critical Thinking + Strategic Leader

Brian’s perspective is especially valuable because of its breadth. He has extensive experience in strategy, partnerships, marketing, startups, and more. He heads up strategic partnerships at Shopify, the world’s leading commerce platform. 

What we love about his work: 

  • He provides his followers with detailed explanations of how to achieve concrete marketing goals. 
  • The focus is not always on hard marketing data, but also includes deeper analysis of the nature of work and how to chart a holistic career path.
  • He has an adorable labradoodle named Dierks.

5. Jordie Black: Content Marketer / Strategist Specializing in B2B & SaaS

This London-based content marketer is an ace copywriter who uses her wit and business savvy to “work smarter, not harder.” She especially enjoys working with entrepreneurs and small business owners. 

What we love about her work: 

  • Her Twitter feed is full of great content—both directly from her and retweeted from fellow content nerds who are making waves in the industry. 
  • She offers a top-to-bottom consulting service that helps clients form a thorough and nuanced approach to their content generation.
  • Her services also include copywriting and a blogging boot camp.

6. Elise Dopson: Growth Content Wizard

Elise specializes in growth marketing via content strategy for B2B SaaS and marketing businesses. Her talent for crafting a compelling and data-rich whitepaper sets her apart from your run-of-the-mill content writer. 

What we love about her work: 

  • She is a renowned content writing expert in the B2B arena, and she’s even been named one of the 30 Women Shaping B2B Tech Marketing
  • Her resumé includes work for major movers and shakers in the growth marketing industry, such as Databox, ConversionXL, Leadfeeder, Single Grain, Smart Insights, and Content Marketing Institute.
  • Her style is a perfect blend of cheekiness and know-how, as evidenced by her Twitter feed, which is equal parts hilarious and informative.

7. Katelyn Bourgoin: Customer Research Pro

Katelyn approaches the growth marketing game through the very powerful lens of having been an entrepreneur herself. Having both reached the peak of the mountain and slogged it out in the trenches, she comes bearing the kind of knowledge only a real warrior would have. 

What we love about her work: 

  • She pulls no punches. Her blog delivers actionable advice for marketers without any sugar coating. 
  • As a “3x founder turned growth geek,” she leads in-person workshops—dubbed Customer Camp—that teach companies how to hack their growth by being customer-obsessed. 
  • She is a customer research ninja, and her self-paced online course allows teams to figure out their target customer and star product before investing a ton of time and money into building the wrong thing for the wrong audience.

8. Dani Hart: Sustainable Growth Leader

Dani’s take on growth marketing focuses on how to make it both successful and sustainable. She works with business leaders not only to develop robust growth strategies but to create resiliency and prevent the dreaded burnout as well.

What we love about her work: 

  • She has a knack for helping companies determining whether or not they’ve achieved the right PMF (product/market fit), which can save you a ton of effort on growth that won’t provide ROI. 
  • Her social media strikes the perfect balance between informing and uplifting content, leaving followers feeling motivated and energized.
  • To go along with her mastery of resilience and a sustainable approach to business growth, she’s an amazing yogi, whose Instagram is full of incredible photos.

9. Asia Matos: Expert Marketing Strategy for Startups

As the founder of DemandMaven, Asia focuses on helping founders of early-stage SaaS companies and startups find avenues to rapid growth. Strategy is her middle name. She can help your company set up a campaign, manage acquisition channels, or even analyze your go-to-market strategy. 

What we love about her work: 

  • Her advice is concrete; she’s all killer, no filler. Between her data-driven blog posts and case studies, you can see that she knows what she’s doing.
  • Her process is thorough and in-depth, so you know if you invest in her services that you’ll walk away with tangible returns.
  • Her Twitter feed is full of great takeaways, as well as retweets from other powerhouse marketers (including many on this list), and is an endless font of insight. 

Don’t let the overwhelming nature of the industry prevent you from diving headfirst into learning about how growth marketing can revitalize your business. These top growth marketing experts are great sources for relevant, compelling content that will help you find new avenues of growth for your brand.

If you want to explore more about how to grow your brand’s reach, influence, and impact, touch base to set up a free, 30-minute growth strategy session with the Tuff team. We’d love to learn more about who you are and what you do so that we can help you find your way to the next level.

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-paid-advertising-campaigns-2019

Every single result from our campaigns in Q1 & Q2 (and learnings for Q3 & Q4)

Finding the right paid acquisition channels is the key to unlocking effective growth for your company. 

But how do you find the perfect mix without wasting money?

Instead of churning out as many ads as possible and hoping for the best, you should be testing and perfecting early on. At Tuff, we partner with clients to learn what’s working and what’s not so we can prioritize the tactics that will help increase reach, leads, and revenue. 

Here’s the process we follow to do this: 

  • Growth starts with identifying your audience, their problem, and how you solve it. 
  • Then, we use data and analytics to benchmark your goals.
  • Next up, we select and prioritize highly targeted marketing tactics. 
  • Then, execute, test, and learn. Repeat, repeat, repeat.   

With that in mind, we analyzed 150 of our clients’ top-performing paid advertising campaigns from Q1 and Q2 of this year to highlight some common trends. 

Here, we share what we learned and how you can find greater success in Q3 and Q4. 

Facebook and Instagram

We all should have some form of a social media strategy. Seven in 10 adults in the US are active on Facebook, and Instagram now enjoys more than one billion monthly users

Whether you’re ready to expand your strategy to include paid social or you want to focus your current paid strategy, there are three tactics you should be using to make the most of your social advertising dollars:

1. Test multiple audiences and then refine

When it comes to success on Facebook and Instagram, we spend the majority of our strategy and execution efforts on the audience builds in Ads Manager. You can’t do anything without the right targeting and it’s something you’ll test often. If you want to effectively use Facebook and Instagram to reach your goals, start with your audience and work to understand their pain points, interests, location, and purchase behaviors. 

Here are three audience segments we’ve seen work incredibly well on Facebook and Instagram: 

Lookalike Audiences: This is a pre-qualified way to draw potential customers into the fold. It works by taking data on your current customers and searching for Facebook members with overlapping interests and connections. It’s a cool bit of matchmaking that can help you uncover a whole new group of potentially loyal new customers. If your website has a decent amount of traffic, start with website Lookalike Audiences of 1-3% and layer on interests or purchase behaviors for more granularity. 

Facebook lookalike audience.

Custom Audiences: If you have an email list of customers or subscribers, upload it to Facebook. From here, you target these matches or create a Lookalike Audience and target people similar to your existing list. With Lookalikes, we like to layer on interests and behaviors and build a collection of audiences that range in sizes narrow through broad. 

Abandoners: Can you think about your user journey and create specific campaigns for people who drop out of your funnel? For example with ecommerce, we target people who almost bought made a purchase but that needed an extra nudge to make it happen.

Facebook retargeting audience.

2. Exclude current customers or users

Just as you can customize an audience on Facebook and Instagram based on who you want to include, you can also intentionally leave people out. There are plenty of reasons you may want to exclude someone from a targeted audience, but you especially don’t want to waste precious ad dollars on customers that you’ve already converted. There is a time, place, and way to re-engage those customers purposefully, so don’t lump them in with your new leads.

Facebook app campaign audiences.

3. Isolate placements using data

Once you’ve zeroed in your audience, meet them where they are. Just as it was in the days of traditional media buying, placement is everything. When results vary drastically by placement, we’ll look to isolate placements if we think we can ramp up performance on one platform or placement more than others or exclude placements if they are dragging down results. Finding the right spot to place your ad (mobile, Instagram, news feed, etc.) will also help you determine how to best design it for optimal results.

Paid facebook campaign placements.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is an especially powerful tool if you’re focused on B2B. 

Ninety-three percent of B2B marketers now consider LinkedIn the most effective site for lead generation. 

There are two strategies to consider if you’re putting money into LinkedIn:

1. Stick with sponsored InMail for lead generation

This ad type allows you to send personalized messages to customized audiences and straddles the line between outbound email and sponsored content. It works like a message in that it’s delivered to the user’s inbox but includes a CTA button that links to your chosen landing page. It’s easy to aggregate an audience, and they’re sure to be primed for engagement, as it’s only delivered to active audiences. When it comes to B2B leads, this is costly but effective. 

LinkedIn sponsored inmail advertising campaign.

2. Use Sponsored Posts for awareness and traffic

Sponsored posts on LinkedIn are a great way to boost your brand’s awareness to a business audience. They are less aggressively “sales-y” than your typical ad, and you can use them to redirect to even more robust content on your company page, encouraging leads to get to know you. You can also edit them easily, which allows for continual optimization through small tweaks based on audience response.

Google and Bing

Moving away from paid social and into paid search, we’ve narrowed in on three key trends to consider when creating your paid search strategy:

1. Tread lightly with fully optimized bidding

If you’re a service or local business, Google may be pushing you in the direction of using tCPA (target cost-per-action). This is a bidding strategy that relies on automated triggers and this type of automation is where most of PPC is headed. For now though, we’ve found that using manual CPC bid strategies still produces higher quality results. If you want to test out tCPA, make sure to target 20% higher, expect to spend higher amounts in the first 30 days, and be prepared to double-check quality. 

2. Understand and leverage device-specific performance

The majority of your traffic is now mobile which means your mobile strategy needs to be core, not an afterthought. It’s key to consider how your ad will appear and behave on certain devices. Tweaking ad scheduling and audience targeting based on specific mobile devices can seriously boost your ad performance. 

Google ads campaign.

3. Get creative with ad copy

In the past, Google Ad copy was all about finding the perfect keyword. You wanted to stick as close as possible to the exact search term. But these days, we’re seeing better results when we take a more editorial approach.

Don’t be afraid of quirky copy. Catching a customer’s eye is more important than stuffing in the maximum amount of keywords. 

Takeaways for ecommerce

The ability to target potential customers so effectively and with such granularity is huge when you are selling your products online. We love creating paid search and social campaigns for ecommerce because there is so much data to learn from. 

Here are three areas we’ve been focusing on for ecommerce businesses: 

1. Get serious about retargeting

There is nothing worse than drawing consumers to your site and then watching them leave without making a purchase. Retargeting is how you get them to come back and take that next step through the sales funnel. Check out our recent ecommerce retargeting blog post for more information on how to leverage this vital tool.

2. Optimize for conversion actions

If your sales figures are stable, focus on optimizing your paid media for sales, rather than just clicks. We’ve had success running traffic-driving campaigns alongside sales-optimized campaigns this year. We fill the funnel with leads from the click campaigns and then close those leads with sales campaigns.

3. Snag that brand traffic

You’re going to reach massive audiences with paid social. Most of these people aren’t looking for you, so you have to work to make an impression on them as they’re scrolling through their feed. Following that, you want them to head to Google and find you at the top of the results.

Your paid acquisition strategy has to work in a combined fashion like this. The platforms should work together rather than in isolation.

Takeaways for B2B

We mentioned LinkedIn as a successful paid channel for B2B but there are a few trends we’ve noticed on a higher level across campaigns for multiple B2B clients.

Here are three tips for B2B paid campaigns:

1. Switch up those CTAs

You’d be surprised how many benefits you’ll get out of freshening up your copy. We recently worked with a client and changed their CTA of “Start Your Free Trial” to “Try 1 Month Free,” and that small edit helped us increase conversion rates by 279%.

2. Use your ad copy to pre-qualify leads

If your product or service is high-end, drop a mention of your price point somewhere in your marketing copy. This will help you both weed out people looking for a cheap solution and tee up exactly the kind of customer you want.

3. Work social proof into your paid campaigns

Let your loyal customers do the talking for you. Using your paid placements to show off the clients who already love you will help draw in users with a similar profile and tendencies.

Facebook remarketing campaign. Facebook remarketing campaign.

Takeaways for B2C

We’re pretty vocal about the fact that rapid growth doesn’t come overnight. It takes intentional, data-informed campaigns that are continuously being optimized. This is always important but even more so with B2C. 

Individuals are constantly seeing ads and to set yourself apart from the pack, consider these three tactics. 

1. Start with value-based campaigns

It might be tempting to go with flashy, hard-sell ads in an attempt to be noticed and cut through the noise. But most consumers will be instantly turned off by this approach.

What they’re really looking for is value. How can you provide that? Try utilizing things like quizzes, giveaways, and helpful resources.

2. Build product or service-specific landing pages

It’s vital that the page your ads lead to is one where a customer can take immediate action. To that end, making your landing pages product- or service-specific is a smart move. Don’t leave the customer wandering; point them to where they need to be to take the next step in the funnel. 

3. Test and improve your creative

Anyone can slap an ad together these days, so it’s vital that you put creative thought behind what you put out. It won’t matter one bit that you’re reaching the perfect audience if your delivery is lackluster. Think high-quality images and videos as well as top-notch design. 

Facebook a/b test results.

Takeaways for apps

With the number of mobile advertising platforms out there, getting started on your app advertising strategy can be overwhelming. The more campaigns we run focused on app installs, the more we learn.  

Consider these three suggestions for increasing paid app installs:

1. Follow the 80/20 rule

Set up as many audience tests as possible. We like to create a campaign for each location and then create multiple ad sets per location. We set very small budgets for each ad set and allow them to run for 14 days, making small optimizations along the way as we add and drop ad sets. At the end of those two weeks, we kill 80% of the audiences and scale up significantly for that top 20%.

2. Don’t exclude placements

Facebook and Google want max control. While you’ll see better results by placement, don’t exclude anything in the initial setup.

3. Build separate campaigns for iOS and Andriod

Make sure you’re approaching your paid acquisition strategies for iOS and Android differently. They’re going to perform very differently, so you want to plan for that.

Analyze the cost-per-install results broken out so that you know where to allocate your spend. Lumping everything together runs the risk of muddying the waters.

What’s next?

Serving multiple clients ranging from B2C, B2B, and Ecommerce gives us the advantage of running diverse campaigns with tailored goals depending on the industry and growth stage of the company we’re partnering with. It also gives us the opportunity to run paid campaigns at scale and understand what is working, why, and how to recreate it for all of our clients. 

Taking what we’ve learned from examining our clients’ best performing campaigns, we’re excited to launch into Q3 with solid strategy and execution. 

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-ecommerce-retargeting-to-increase-sales

Inside Look: How We Use ECommerce Retargeting to Increase Sales

We’ve all had this experience:

You’re scrolling your Facebook feed or reading an article, only to spot an ad for a website you recently visited. It may be a site you checked out briefly, or you may have gone so far as to put items in your shopping cart before changing your mind about pulling the trigger.

Either way, that company tracked your engagement with them, and they’re now using eCommerce retargeting campaigns to serve you ads to stimulate further interaction and, ultimately, turn you into a lead, sale, or client.

Annoying? Sometimes.

Effective? Yes.

Retargeting is one of the most powerful and effective paid acquisition strategies you can use to drive sales. It also happens to be a strategy most of our clients are curious about.

It’s not uncommon for 95% or more of your site’s visitors to leave without making a purchase.

Ensuring they visit your site more than once is essential if you hope to have any chance of converting them. Retargeting is a direct and purposeful way to increase the chances of someone coming back to your online store.

We’re often asked: How are brands and businesses succeeding with retargeting today? And how do we leverage retargeting to increase ROAS and drive more sales for our online store?

We optimize retargeting campaigns every day and are eager to share what’s working on Facebook and Instagram.

Let’s dive in.

How does eCommerce retargeting work?

The most common type of retargeting ad is pixel-based. This means that when someone visits your site and checks out a page, a bit of JavaScript called a pixel is left in their browser.

This makes their browser “cookied” and allows you to target your advertising to their movements on your site. This type of retargeting can be done immediately upon the user leaving your site and will be ultra-tailored to the content or product they were viewing.

You can also approach retargeting in a list-based fashion, meaning that you can create ads targeted to specific lists of customers for which you already have contact information.

This can be a more customized way to approach retargeting since it considers more than just one instance of customer behavior and allows you to cultivate a particular audience more thoughtfully.

Is retargeting right for my business?

Once you’re regularly clocking 1,000+ monthly visitors to your site, retargeting is a no brainer. It should be a core part of your eCommerce Facebook ad strategy.

It also tends to work best when approached proactively, rather than implemented as a reaction to falling traffic or poor conversion rates. For example, when you build a prospecting campaign to draw in new potential customers, you should already have plans in place to redirect that audience to your site via retargeting ads.

Retargeting has a significant ROAS (an underutilized metric that you should be paying attention to) and, if planned in advance with your initial campaign, can net you 20% more new customers without too much added cost.

Retargeting is an especially useful tool for brands with a multitude of products, as it allows you to tailor ad content to very specific customer segments.

Say you’re a shoe company that sells footwear for a wide variety of athletes. You would set up individual retargeting campaigns for runners, tennis players, basketball players, and more, guaranteeing that the ad content is highly personalized and relevant to the consumer viewing it.

What results can I expect with retargeting?

If you’re wondering if retargeting is really that effective, it might help to see some hard numbers.

In May, Tuff spent $2,161.30 on Facebook for a client of ours. Thirty-five percent of that spend was allocated to retargeting campaigns.

From the retargeting ads specifically, we generated and completed 98 sales for a total sales figure of $2,450. That’s a 362% ROI.

Facebook ads manager with ecommerce campaigns highlighted.

A big part of why retargeting is so effective is that it speaks more directly to potential customers.

When you’re advertising to a totally new audience, your ultimate goal is to spark interest in your brand. With retargeting, you already know the customer is interested, which means your copy and creative can be more specific and personalized to their exact interests.

For this client, we launched their eCommerce retargeting campaigns by driving quality traffic to the site and then retargeting users to bring them back to the product purchase page they had previously visited. Our goal with these ads was to enable people to click on the ad and be taken directly to the next step in the sales funnel.

Every industry is different but here are three main types of retargeting ads, at a minimum, we recommend running:

3-Day Retarget

This can be an opportunity to squash any hesitation they had from making the purchase the first time they were on your site. Maybe the timing was wrong, they were in the middle of something, or maybe they need the social proof of a testimonial to push them to convert.

Facebook ecommerce campaign.

7-Day Retarget

This is a good time to introduce any special offers you might already have running. You don’t necessarily need to create them for retargeting ads but highlight them to help encourage this purchase.

Facebook ecommerce retargeting campaign.

Cart Abandoners

This is an exciting group. They got so far as to select items and add them to their cart so you know they’re interested. A cart abandoner ad is hopefully the final reminder and push they need to commit.

Facebook ecommerce retargeting ad example.

How is retargeting different from traditional Facebook ads?

While retargeting is an essential piece of any eCommerce ppc strategy, you cannot approach it in the same way as traditional ads. There are two key things you must remember when you’re attempting to develop a plan for retargeting.

1. It requires a dedicated strategy.

As tempted as you may be to make your retargeting efforts match up with the rest of your eCommerce Facebook ad strategy for the sake of ease, don’t do it. Retargeting is a very unique type of paid advertising, and it deserves its own individualized plan.

Retargeting ads can become incredibly obnoxious to potential customers, so you have to walk a fine line. You want to be present as they navigate around the web, but you don’t want them to see the ad so much they start to loathe your brand. Oversaturation is a real concern here.

You also want the design, copy, and landing page to be just right. Avoid the type of design and copy that scream “marketing blitz.”

Use this opportunity to tailor the ad to the exact product or page the customer visited on your site. Make the copy fun, quirky, and compelling. Give them a reason to revisit, and make sure the ad sends them to the right place when they do.

Here’s one of our favorite retargeting ads from this year that demonstrates how creative you can get with copy:

Facebook cart abandoner ecommerce retargeting campaign.

2. It should be tested and tested and tested.

The name of the game with retargeting is continuous optimization. The longer your retargeting ad runs, the more familiar people become with your brand.

If you’re on a tight budget, identify which testing elements have the highest ROI before you start tweaking things. We normally recommend a focus on the following elements:

  • Ad visual
  • Ad copy (especially the headline)
  • Ad delivery objectives

Here is how this looks when applied in a real campaign. For the below example, all we wanted to test was the image. The headline, text, and description are all the same. The image on the right received 2x more clicks for $0.10 less than the image on the left.

Facebook ecommerce campaign.

Facebook ecommerce campaign.

How do I get started?

If you’ve not integrated retargeting into your marketing strategy yet, let’s do it. It is hands-down one of the most cost-effective ways to increase your online sales. It’s also easy to get started, even if you haven’t done much paid advertising in the past.

If you’re interested in learning more about retargeting and other tools that can help you increase customer conversion, schedule a free growth strategy session with our team. We’ll learn more about your growth goals and help you think through ideas for growing your business.

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.

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tuff-landing-page-or-homepage

Home Page or Landing Page? Where To Send Your Paid Traffic

Think your homepage is good enough to send paid traffic to? Think again.

First of all, what is the difference between a homepage and a landing page?

A homepage is the central focus of your website

It’s used as the front-facing asset for the various forms of traffic coming to your business.  

A homepage is meant to:

  • Clearly align with your audience and their needs
  • Be easy to navigate to other areas of your site
  • Make it obvious how to convert into a lead or take next steps to engage further with your company
  • Be clear and comprehensive about what you do
  • Leave a good impression about your brand and what it stands for

A homepage is important because a lot of the disparate traffic across the web will somehow be pointed to your homepage, including SEO backlinks which are generally pointed towards homepages.

If you’re doing a lot of networking or emailing you could also see a lot of direct traffic typing in your name and going straight to your homepage. In general, more than 50% of your website traffic will go to your homepage.

A lot of companies take great pains to make sure their homepage is optimized to convert. This amount of effort on the homepage can sometimes lead a marketing manager or decision maker to favor the homepage for paid traffic rather than a landing page. The thinking is usually that if you’ve put in the effort to raise conversion rates on the homepage, it should be a strong enough to capture paid traffic as well.

So, in comparison, what is a landing page?  

A landing page is a narrow-focused page. It’s designed to align even more closely with a specific need your audience has. According to Neil Patel, a landing page is developed with One reader in mind, for One big idea.  

A landing page is meant to:

  • Have 100% Ad -> Page consistency with messaging (i.e. your paid ad is about an upcoming webinar and your landing page is all about that specific webinar topic with a form to fill out to save your seat)
  • Leave the audience with one option of what to do next, usually in line with their specific pain point (i.e. you send paid traffic looking for the Keyword ‘Promo Product Samples’ to a page where they can get samples of your Product, not the homepage where they can get samples, mock ups, catalogs, and join the mailing list)
  • Be the solution they’re looking for (i.e. someone is looking for Apple Macbook Pro and you send them to a page all about the Macbook Pro, rather than sending them to a page with various apple products to choose from)
  • Follow the best practices for a homepage like leaving a good brand impression and being easy to convert

A landing page by its customizable nature is a better choice for (increasingly expensive) paid traffic because it aligns more closely with the customer journey. In fact, companies that test their homepage versus landing pages have seen big increases in conversions, up to a 55% lift

The reason is that a landing page speaks directly to a user’s need, which you should have already hyper-focused using your ad targeting and ad copy. By the time the customer gets to your page they should be relieved to have found exactly what they’re looking for.

Homepage vs. landing page

When deciding on sending paid traffic to a homepage versus a landing page, think of the customer and where they’re at in their journey. 

If they are showing any kind of buying intent or product/service specificity within their paid search, think about catering to that with a landing page. Another case for a landing page would be remarketing specific products (Macbook Pro) to specific segments of audience (cart abandoners) that showed interest in that product.  

But my homepage is still good enough, it converts well!

If your traffic is very top of funnel and searching for more vague terms, or if the searcher is simply searching for brand terms, you could get away with a great homepage. Another case for the homepage is remarketing to that top of funnel traffic, the people that aren’t as familiar with your brand.

As always with marketing, think of the customer first and where they are in their journey. Then, test using a landing page versus a homepage, catering your funnel to the user’s needs, and watch your conversions skyrocket.

 

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-increase-landing-page-conversion-rate

How Wireframing Will Improve Your Landing Page Conversion Rate

We sometimes get questions about how other clients work with Tuff to reach their growth goals — so we’re sharing some stories to help bring our services to life. Meet Xendoo.

Xendoo is an online accounting and bookkeeping service partnering with small business owners to take on their business financials and accounting with a dedicated team of CPAs. They give small business owners time back to focus on their business and give them peace of mind by knowing their books are being done correctly. Founded in 2016, Xendoo received an initial round of funding in 2017. We were lucky to start working with them later that year.

“Not only are they a true pleasure to work with, they achieve phenomenal results. Highly recommend the team to people that are committed to growing their business. When you hire TUFF, prepare to hang on for a great ride.” – Lil Robets, CEO, Xendoo (View our reviews on Google & Facebook)

We partnered with Xendoo to improve their landing page conversion rate and as a result, they had their highest client acquisition month ever with:

  • 35% increase in conversions MoM
  • 82% Increase in new clients MoM

Why Xendoo Focused On User Experience

A website is one of the most powerful user acquisition channels for businesses today, and for good reason. If you build it right, your website can be the best and most cost-effective marketing tool you have. Especially when you’ve done the research to know which complimentary user acquisition channels are going to drive the most growth for your audience.

For a fast-growing startup, it’s common to outgrow the early versions of your site. As you scale, your positioning will evolve, your brand identity will become more established, and you’ll hone in on your ideal users.

As this happens, it’s critical that your site also evolves. If you put consistent effort into improving the user experience of your website and everything that goes with it, you can consistently improve your conversion rate and scale your user acquisition.

Xendoo launched their site in late 2017 with two core goals in mind: client acquisition and fundraising. The site needed to serve and secure new clients, but it also needed to attract investors. We launched our paid client acquisition efforts in January of 2018 and immediately started growing a slow, but steady, client base. As Xendoo gained more traction throughout the year, the site data started pouring in and areas of improvement were easily identified.

So, how did we double their conversions (yes, that turned into almost twice as many clients per month!)?

Let’s dive in and take a look.

Xendoo’s Playbook

Customer Research

Designing a great user experience requires understanding the problems different visitors have and then working to solve those problems. Before we worked on the structure of the website, we leveraged Google Analytics, LiveHelpNow (live chat), and CallRail (phone calls) to identify hurdles that stopped people from moving through the conversion funnel.

Three distinct themes surfaced:

What services does Xendoo offer exactly?
Ideal: When someone lands on this page, they should immediately know how it’s going to help them.

What services do you integrate with?
Ideal: This should be quick and easy to understand.

How do I start a free trial?
Ideal: Consistent language and visuals around one primary CTA.

Clear CTA

Leaning on the data we turned our focus to the site structure, designing the primary CTA first. Making the CTA the first element you include in your skeleton layout will ensure that the rest of the website supports the CTA and isn’t buried on the page. When working on user flow, you need to ask yourself “What is the number one thing we want users to do?” and “What value does our service or product fulfill for the user?” The intersection of these answers is your primary call-to-action. For Xendoo, this CTA was a month of bookkeeping for free.

Wireframes

Once we had the CTA’s identified, we built the site wireframes. Wireframes are a blueprint to define the information architecture and layout of your website or product. They allow you to take a step back from the design and develop a clear understanding of all user paths throughout a site. This is one of the most essential, yet overlooked, steps in creating a high-converting website.

Mock Up

The final step in the wireframe process was to develop a sample mock. It’s a common practice for designers to use “Lorem Ipsum” while wireframing and designing mockups. But, when it comes to increasing your conversions your content is equally, if not more important, as your layout and design. Once we had the copy down, we were able to work it into an illustrative mock that set the tone for the entirety of the site design.

Results:

  • Best client acquisition month ever!
  • 35% increase in conversions MoM
  • 82% Increase in new clients MoM

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.

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How to Find Your User Acquisition Channels

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Figuring out which user acquisition channels are going to drive the most growth is key to your business success.

Acquisition channels are diverse and plenty. With many options, how can you create a channel strategy that will really accomplish your goals?

Few companies can afford to actively use more than a handful of channels and, even so, it’s tough to figure out which ones are actually delivering the right customers.

I’ve spent the past few years working with all kinds of businesses across a range of industries to help them figure this out. Instead of sharing a whole list of tactics you can try out yourself, I’m going to share the one consistent strategy I’ve seen add more to the bottom line than any specific channel –  trial and error.

It can seem overwhelming at the start, but testing and optimization should become part of your growth DNA. What might seem like a steep learning curve will turn into a path with long-term payoff when you get it right.

Let’s dive in.

Focus on your users, not your channel

There’s so much out there, it’s often hard to know where to start. As a business owner, you might feel a lot of pressure to continue coming up with new ways to connect with and reach your audience.

However, there’s one fundamental thing you need to focus on and continue focusing on from day one. To successfully manage your tests and increase the chances of success, listen to users and understand their perspective. User research is a priority that should, in some way, find a home within the design of any new channel or tactic strategy.

Whether you have 1,000 customers or 100,000, focus on the already successful users and uncover the user acquisition channels that converted these people. Uncover as much as you can about these people to help your growth team understand what triggers and motivates them to take action. What was their user journey with your product or service and how can you repeat it with future customers? Doing this on a regular basis will give you the right lens to narrow the types of tactics and channels that are most likely to drive a positive response from prospective customers.

Set clear goals

If you’re early in your business, finding growth channels is about traction – not scale. With that in mind, before you start experimenting, make sure you’ve set clear goals you’d like to achieve – even if you don’t have much data to base them on.

Whatever user acquisition channels you attempt, testing and refining campaigns will be a critical part of the process. It’s important to measure the ROI of your efforts by channel so that you know which need a bit of tuning and which need a complete makeover or be dropped.

There’s been a lot written about goal-setting! And, you might already know what works best for you. Here are some of our favorite resources if you’d like to learn more about setting intentional goals:

Create a ridiculously long list of channels and tactics

Have a million and one things rattling around in your head? Good! Just get it all out there.

A brain dump can help you organize your thoughts and feel more in control, especially when you use it to create a growth list like this one.

Get your team together and build your user acquisition channels list – write it down, type it out, drop it into Google Sheets, whatever you want to do. Don’t worry if it’s unorganized or sporadic, you’ll restructure it later.

A chart of possible user acquisition channels

 

Evaluate channel possibility

So you have a big list, now what?

Even lean testing means an entirely new set of processes, resources, and outputs, so it’s important to be intentional with how you and your team spend your time. Attempting to drive growth on too many user acquisition channels at the same time will divide your resources and dilutes your focus.

One way to manage your tests and increase the chances of success is to spend time upfront evaluating emerging channels—the idea is to test and get early access to good opportunities, but you can’t do everything.

Consider the following questions to help you prioritize channels with a “high propensity” to work for your business:

  • Does the channel have an audience that roughly matches your customer personas?
  • Is this channel crowded or emerging? Are your competitors there and will you have to shell out buckets of cash to play?
  • What part of the buyer’s journey do you believe the customer is in when they’re spending time on this platform? How does that align with your business goals?
  • Can you effectively filter your ads to reach only your target audience to better manage your costs and get the best bang for your buck?
  • Is this a compounding loop? Will this channel enable our users to grow the product for us?

Assemble a team to make it happen

We have seen a lot of founders focus on growth strategies. The starting point for that is almost always, “What should the structure for the growth team be?”

As we’ve outlined in the process above, the first step is defining the user acquisition channels that will or have the biggest impact on growth, and working your way backward to the team needed to execute effectively. When you do that, you will quickly realize that to execute on your ideas you need a cross-functional team with a mix of engineering, product, data, design, marketing, and sales skills. The mix will depend on the particular channel you test.

Which is why I love that we are building Tuff not just for our clients, but also with them. We believe the future of growth agencies is in being value drivers, rather than service providers. Sure, we have a number of top-notch services we regularly execute. But, it’s bigger than that.  In order for you to find traction and scale growth for your business, you need a customizable, plug-in growth team.

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.