Do you ever wish you could start a company, but have no idea where you’d start with getting customers? That’s the role of marketing, right?
Or maybe you’ve taken it 1 step further and percolated that digital ads, say ads on Instagram Feed, are the key, but are absolutely stupefied at where to begin, if you did want to try this as a marketing source?
Well this is the guide for you.
I’ll walk you through the step-by-step process so you’ll leave confident that you can build the entire system, in less than 4 hours. Oh, and with no copy writer. No graphic design. And no developer.
Sound too good to be true?
Well keep on reading. Almost any B2C company with a shopper should be using digital ads.
Whether you’re selling candles online, starting a marketplace for on-demand mechanics and consumers, or driving interested yogis to your 3-day yoga retreat in Colorado Springs, it is possible to build a complete, self-serve paid marketing engine and gain hundreds or thousands of customers, in a matter of months.
If you still don’t believe me, then I might as well be a walking scam, because I do this as my profession and have ran hundreds of ad campaigns, driven hundreds of thousands of customers, and generated millions of dollars of value for fast growing, award-winning startups.
So now that we’re past that, let’s begin.
Let’s start with a history lesson…
The reason why you’re intimidated by advertising is because you have the old system of advertising conditioned in your brain.
The Madmen system, where you hire a boutique ad agency to conceptualize a marketing campaign and they charge you $20K+ to execute the puppy, usually with limited reporting, and an output of a handful of customers and no where near enough revenue. But hey, at least the creative looked cool, right?
And this is fair because before self-serve ad networks, THIS is how paid digital marketing was as well.
Yahoo’s GoTo, the first search advertising keyword auction upheld the traditional ad placement model with $10K minimums that only established companies had the budget for.
That changed in 2000 when Google mic-dropped the digital ad space with Adwords, a soon-to-be self-serve ad network, lowering the barrier to entry through functionality (self-serve) and very low spend minimums (as low as $10).
Now, more than 1 million advertisers use Adwords every year and 6 million use Facebook Ads, a testament to the power of digital ads and how quintessential they are to so many companies marketing mix.
What does it take?
Distilled to its core, every “digital ad system” (AKA lead generation) has 3 ingredients:
- Landing Page
- Lead Generation Funnel
Your customers are your leads, which you reach by placing a) ads with Facebook and Google, companies that have access to billions of people, which drive to a b) landing page where you sell them on the product or service, with the intent of getting them to begin their “customer journey” with their name and email, so to enter your c) lead generation funnel.
What are the key elements?
Thus, these 3 ingredients require 5 key elements:
- A Self-Serve Ad Account
- A Landing Page Builder
- An Acquisition Funnel Builder
Every digital ad campaign needs ads. To start building creative, use free tools like Unsplash or Pexel to find high resolution, royalty-free images and then upload them to Canva to build ads with on-image headlines and your logo.
For testing-sake, make 5 ads, perhaps 5 different images with the same on-image headline and logo. Download them as PNG files to your desktop and poof! You’ve got your ads locked and loaded.
Before you forget, go to the ad specs of Google Ads and Facebook Ads and built your creative to the respective pixel dimensions, otherwise they won’t accept the ads. To keep it simple, grab the specs for the Facebook news feed ad placement and forget about the rest.
2. Self-Serve Ad Account
Go create an ad account with Facebook and Google Ads. Their UI makes this super easy and intuitive (dare I say, addictive?). Create your 1st campaign and make your “objective” conversions. After all, you do want paying customers.
Stop there and let’s move onto the…
3. Landing Page Builder
Your ads are going to drive to a website, but not any old website. They need to go to a landing page you’ve built that clearly sells the opportunity and drives them to 1 objective (to purchase, sign-up, or begin the process).
You intentionally want to make the page single-minded, as in the only link will be a button to sign up or purchase.
Why? Because if you provide a link to other products, an about us page, or even your homepage, you’ll lose the opportunity to sell the customers. Thus, you need to guide them rather than distract them with other shiny links.
Hence, remember these Rules of thumb as you build your page:
- Keep it super focused
- Keep scrolling to minimum
- Include engaging images
- Use the “F” or “Z” pattern for content (common ways eyes scan)
- Maintain consistent branding between ads and landing pages
Go to Launchaco, a free landing-page builder, and build this pooch.
Save yourself some time and reuse 1 of the 5 images you built your ads with (pick one that’s as wide as possible), as well as the messaging you used, for consistency in messaging.
Take no more than 30 minutes (put on a timer) to build your page and make appropriate tweaks.
4. Acquisition Funnel Builder
Head over to Squarespace and open an account (here’s a 14-day free trial). If you want a free option head over to wordpress.com.
What we’re going to do is create a series of unique pages that your landing page will lead to, guiding the user to a purchase (or sign up, whatever you’re selling).
The key is to add a CTA (a button) at the bottom of each page, that leads to the subsequent one.
This will be one of the most technical things you do in this whole project, which is really for each page placing a CTA (Select the page -> Click on the page -> “Page Content” -> “Edit” -> Scroll to “Filters and Lists -> click on “Button”) and under the “Edit Button” window that pops up, copy & paste a link into the “Clickthrough URL”. Wam! You’re done.
Wasn’t that easy?
If you’re wondering what to actually include on these subsequent pages, take a step back and ask yourself “Per what I’m selling, how can I build trust and guide them to a purchase?”
For example, if it’s for a yoga retreat, maybe you want to have the 1st page (after the landing page) be a 3 question survey that qualifies them to learn about their past experience with yoga (“what schools of yoga have you practiced?” “How often do you do practice?” “Have you ever been to a retreat?”).
Depending on their answers to the 3 questions, funnel them to 1 of 3 yoga retreat (beginner, novice, expert).
Your 2nd page might be a short description of your “Recommended Retreat”, explaining where it will be, the agenda, how much it costs, and a testimonial of someone’s experience.
Your 3rd page, the most important page of all is your shopping cart page. This is where the person would do their “checkout” of their yoga retreat and perhaps do a 10% down payment if the thought of paying the full $300+ sticker price is a bit daunting.
In Squarespace you do this by upgrading to Squarespace Ecommerce, which gives you the ability to setup this page, along with process bank card payments.
Assuming they make a purchase, your 4th and final page is your confirmation page. This is simply to confirm that you received their purchase and that they should either save the unique code on the page, and/or the email, as a sort of “receipt” of the transaction.
The great news about these pages is that by defining and titling these “checkpoints”, you can 1) count the amount of people who get to each page, building your conversion funnel of converting customers, and start to understand how many people convert between the 4 pages, and 2) how many people churn (leave). Which leads us to a crucial and often neglected step…
How can you understand how well your sales are doing and how many people are getting to each “checkpoint”, if you don’t have any good way to track this particular data?
This is where a CRM System comes in. CRM means customer relationship management and in this case refers to a system that aggregates customer purchase data, that helps you market smarter.
Since we’re making this on the fly, go grab a free account with Mailchimp (yes, they do more than email) since they have a basic CRM system that will get your started.
This is where you’ll get your basic reports of each customer that lands on your pages or converts from ads, all you need when you’re getting your foundation.
In an ideal future state, you’ll want to pull all data into your own database and then be able to see your conversion funnel there.
I recommend contracting a data engineer for this (will require an Amazon Web Services subscription of <$90 per month, couple with a CRM service layered on top of it) but needed if you get more serious about your company).
An Important Note on Pixels
Digital marketing is near impossible without placing marketing pixels on each of the 4 pages you built. Marketing pixels are little trip wires set across a page, so to track every single person that lands on the pages.
The signal is sent back to the marketing source (in this case, your Facebook & Google ad campaign) which tracks all of this data.
Assuming your objective is still “purchase”, you without-a-doubt want to place a pixel on the “landing” of your confirmation page.
Go to Facebook Ads Manager and click the top left to access Events Manager (more help here). There they’ll hand you the exact code you’ll place in the <head> or <body> section of the page. This is the most technical thing you will do in this entire process, which is fortunately a “copy & paste” action by you.
If you still need help, go download a Chrome Extension called “Facebook Pixel Helper“, which after placing the pixel code, gives you the ability to test it works.
Do a “dummy run” of a customer journey (very important), all the way to purchase, and click the Pixel Helper in the top right corner on the confirmation page. It will tell you whether the Facebook pixel fired or not.
Here are directions for setting your Google Ads tracking pixel, a very similar journey.
3 Key Tips
Before you go off and try this on your own, 3 tips to keep in mind:
- Spend at least $30 per day on your Facebook campaign, $10 per day on your Google Ad campaign, and run for at least 20 days for both. This is the minimum needed in order to hit a “critical mass” for your campaign.
- Things will break and not go as planned. Weather through this, especially early on when there’ll be technical glitches and troubleshooting to do (most likely with your ad campaigns, CRM, and pixels). Remember: the opportunity is must greater than the cost.
- If you have a huge amount of people dropping off between your landing page and confirmation page, you can always action small, incremental improvements to raise conversion rates between your pages. To see if it worked, compare to past time periods. This is called conversion rate optimization (CRO), and can be very fun, in it’s own investigative, clue-collecting Sherlock way.
So what are you waiting for? You do not have to pop up a booth at a farmers market, start a YouTube channel, or god forbid, do cold calling, to get customers.
Right here, this very moment, you can prop up a simple system to get customers buying your product or service, in less than 4 hours.
If you need any help, please don’t be afraid to reach out below. I strive to serve you better, and that only happens with your feedback on what is and is not absolutely valuable. Thank you.