One of Pooch & Mutt‘s first-ever employees, Rob, who started with us over 10 years ago went on to have an amazing career in online marketing and set up his own agency Highrise, who I highly recommend, even if they do work with our competitors!!!
A few years ago Rob came in to speak to our (then very junior) team about what Highrise does, and to give us some advice on how to run our online marketing campaigns. I recently stumbled across my notes from that meeting and thought they would make a great blog post. The steps below are based on my notes and my take on the subject, they aren’t supposed to be a detailed description of what Highrise offers, which is far more nuanced, detailed and generally impressive.
Things may have moved on a bit in the last few years, but reading through my notes I still think that the 8 steps below are an amazing starting point for anyone looking to set up their first online marketing campaign.
Step 1: Consumer insight
I am assuming at this stage that you have some paying customers. What you need to do is find out what made them become paying customers; why did they decide to part with their hard-earned cash for your product or service? The reasons given by people who have actually paid for your product or service are FAR more important than your assumptions about why people should pay for it.
Depending on your number of customers you can do this by phone, by email or by survey (ie Typeform). I think it’s best to start by phone, have actual conversations with 20-50 people and let their responses dictate what goes in to the survey.
It can be particularly useful to collect some demographic data at this point. Do people over 40 have different reasons for buying than younger people? Do women have different reasons for buying than men? Do city people have different reasons for buying than women? Answers to these questions will be invaluable as you go through the process.
Step 2: Landing pages
You may think that the idea of an online ad is to send someone to the product page of your website and expect them to buy. You would be wrong. Very few products, never mind product pages, are so compelling that you are going to part with money the first time that you see them.
In step 1 we noted that different demographics might have different reasons for buying your product (or service, but I am going to just say product from now on). A single product page cannot effectively have all of these reasons on one page, people will not see the reason that applies to them, just all the reasons that don’t. In my advertising days we used to say “if you throw me a tennis ball I will catch it, if you throw me 3, I will drop all 3”. Landing pages make your messaging clear or the specific demographic that they are targeted at.
If you build multiple landing pages, each one can be targeted to just one of the reasons that customers told you that they buy your product… and this will be the reason why others will buy it.
NOTE: Landing pages should click through to product pages, so that people can buy the products, but don’t judge the success of the ads on if people do. Most people do not buy straight away.
Step 3: Create awareness ads
By now you should have a list of different demographics that buy your products, the reasons that they buy your products, and multiple landing pages that reflect those reasons and demographics.
You can then create a series of ads that reflect the reasons and demographics. And then drive the right ads to the right landing pages.
Let’s say that you are marketing an energy drink. You know from your research that people over 25 think it’s a refreshing way to start the day and get the most done at work, and people under 25 think it’s a great drink to help them stay awake gaming all night. You would create 1 ad with a pic of someone on their way to work chugging the drink, with a headline about how it will help you at work. You create a 2nd ad with someone drinking the drink whilst they are gaming, with a headline about how it will help your gaming.
The 1st ad would go to a landing page that shows how this drink is going to help you be more productive at work. The 2nd ad would go to a landing page all about getting the most from gaming.
You target the 1st ad at 25+ workers and the 2nd ad at under 25 gamers.
This, in old-fashioned marketing-speak is called market segmentation. People have done it for years, online advertising just makes is far easier and more accessible than it has been before.
NOTE: You should refine the messaging, the creative, and the targeting as you go, but that’s beyond the scope of this article.
Step 4: Retargeting ads
Each of the landing pages should be set up so that you can send re-targeting ads to people who have visited the landing pages.
In these ads, you are marketing to people who already know about the product and what it does… to a certain extent, as they have been to the landing page.
They know about the product, but they haven’t purchased it. The role of these ads is not to repeat what they already know, it is to take away the reservations that the customer may have about buying the products. To remove the risk. This could be done with testimonial ads, with UGC content of people like them telling them how good the product is, with guarantees, with discounts or other promotions.
Note: You can also look at putting data collection (ie a free download in exchange for an email address) on the landing page so that you can use email to re-target as well/ instead of retargeting ads.
Step 5: Product ads
Simple product ads, should be targeted at people that you know have visited your site (ideally more than once), who you know have been exposed to (or ideally clicked on) ads that take away their reservations about buying. These ads can go directly to the product page (not the landing page), as people should have enough information by this stage.
These ads are relatively simple and easy to set up.
The most important thing to note here is that this is where a lot of people start. They set up product ads and send them to product pages and expect them to work. They think that this is “the right” thing to do because they see so many product ads around…. but they forget the ads that they have seen and the actions that they have taken, which take have taken them through the process to where they are seeing the product ads.
Step 6: Sale…. woo hooo!!
At step 6 we assume that someone from step 5 (or 4 or 3) has purchased your product.
There are a few important things to note at this stage.
You need to work out how much it has cost you to get to this stage, you need to put a cost to get the sale against the income from the sale. This whole process can get very complicated with attributing the income to a specific ad. Looking at this is beyond the scope of the article (and beyond the scope of my expertise!). This is simply to note that even though it may look like the step 5 ad drives the sale, it doesn’t, they all work together.
Depending on the sector you operate in you might have a high-value one-off sale, or a lower-value, repeat purchase (and many variations in between). If you have a high-value one-off sale then the lifetime value (LTV) of the customer is the value of the first purchase. Your ad costs need to be profitable against that purchase. If you have repeat purchase products and people on average buy every month for 2 years, then your LTV is the product purchase price x24, and your ads need to be profitable against this.
NOTE: There could be a step 5a, which is people who add to cart, but do not end up buying. You need to target these people with abandon cart emails, both to get them to buy and to find out the reasons they abandoned their cart.
Step 7: Repeat & Subscription Sales
Once you have got a customer you want to keep them. You should know how long after the first sale people should be repurchasing, around this time you need to be re-marketing to them.
This can be done in a multitude of ways. Assuming that you collected their email address with the sale you can use this email to market to them (check your GDPR) using a tool like Klayviyo. This should not just be a simple one-off email, but a series of automated emails. Email tools (if used properly) are particularly good at getting customers to convert to subscription customers.
You can look at adding rewards to your site with services like Loyalty Lion to give customers an even better reason to become loyal, repeat customers.
You can use email addresses to build audiences of your customers for paid social media ads, so that they see your ads around the times they should be looking to buy again.
NOTE: Email addresses can also be used to build ‘lookalike’ audiences for your ads, which should fit into step 3 of this process
Step 8: Reviews & Referrals
The value of a customer is not just them buying a product, or repeatedly buying a product from you; It’s also getting them to recommend your products to others.
Potential new customers trust what other customers say more than they trust what the brand itself says. Getting customers to leave reviews on the page, and reviews that you can then use in your marketing helps get other people to buy. Services like Feefo and Trustpilot, which collect independent reviews are more trusted than reviews that you place on your site yourself. They also offer a tried-and-tested way to collect reviews from customers and feed them into your site. What people say in reviews can be built into your marketing at step 4. Reading reviews give you feedback on your product so that you can improve it (reading competitor reviews can give you a marketing angle if you are good at something that people are saying that your competitor is bad at).
Referrals are potentially even stronger than reviews. When someone you know personally takes the time to tell you that they have found a product that you like, you are FAR FAR FAR more likely to buy it, than if you stumble across it online. There are systems like Loyalty Lion (see above) or Referral Candy that you can use to reward customers when they do recommend you to one of their friends.
A few more notes:
This is just one way of setting up your first campaign. There are many many others, but it should be a good guide to get you started.
This is focussed on using primarily paid social, GoogleAds etc is a whole different ballgame.
There are plenty of other strategies that can drive awareness (PR, SEO, influencer etc). These all effectively come into stage 3. The learnings from stage 1 should influence your PR/ SEO/ Influencer strategy.
I haven’t really mentioned data tracking in this (the article would be too long), but I have to mention that when you do get started with your online marketing campaign, make sure that you analyse the data, that you ‘know what success looks like’ and that you are constantly evolving what you do based on the data.
As you grow your online sales things get more complicated. At Pooch & Mutt we now have a big team, with a great Head of E-com, who has an expert team (affliates, e-com, PPC, CRM etc) reporting in to him. These 8 steps are to get you started, so you can start to build the sales, then build the team.
Now you have all the info that you need to get started with your first online marketing campaign. Good luck!!!