Most marketers use Facebook ads for top-of-the-funnel brand awareness and lead generation, but did you know that they are also an effective way to nurture sales-ready leads and shorten the sales cycle?
Here’s what Rick and I discussed on this week’s show:
Kathleen Booth (Host): Welcome back to the Inbound Success Podcast. My name is Kathleen Booth and this week, my guest is Rick Kranz, the president of OverGo Studio, a North Carolina inbound marketing agency, and top-tier HubSpot gold partner. Rick, tell me a little bit about your agency, and the types of clients you work with.
Rick Kranz (Guest): Hi Kathleen, thanks for having me. I'm really excited to be on your show today.
Kathleen: I'm excited to have you here too. Rick is one of my favorite agency owners. I talk to him all the time to compare notes about how things are going and I love that we can, as agency owners and competitors, have such a great relationship. It's great having you on our podcast.
Rick: And sometimes we cry on each other's shoulders. I'll tell you about OverGo Studio. We're an inbound marketing agency. We began in 2010, and we typically help small businesses that are doing anywhere from $10 million to $100 million in sales. What we do is help them grow their revenue by using inbound marketing. Now, having said that, we also work with smaller business owners through another division called, "Facebook Ad Studio." Here, we specialize in working with small business owners, and even solo entrepreneurs, helping them doing Facebook ads on a budget.
Kathleen: Yeah, you guys are some of the best Facebook ads people I know. I know we've turned to advice from you when we've had challenges with Facebook ads.
You have an inbound marketing campaign that involves Facebook advertising that's gotten some great results, and as we said earlier, you guys do a lot of Facebook advertising. I actually had to laugh, because when I asked you for your bio, you came back with, "Serial entrepreneur, expert on Facebook advertising, tries to play golf." I love that. “Tries” ... is that because you don't have the time, or because you are not sure you're very good at it?
Rick: Well, one of the reasons I moved here to North Carolina is so that I could play more golf, and I do get the opportunity to play twice a week now. But it's a funny sport if you play it. Some days I feel like, "Wow, I got this. I know how to play." Then you come back a week later like, "Who is this guy? Who’s holding these clubs? I don't recognize this." Yeah, so that's what I mean when I say I try to play golf.
Kathleen: Well I'm glad you get out two days a week, because that's what it's all about when you own your own business. It's about being able to do the things you love, and do the job you love as well, so that's great.
Rick: That's why we started this business, so I could move down here and live on the shore.
Rick: Okay, so this is exciting. This is what I call a "low spend, high return Facebook ad campaign." It's something that we teach to a lot of our clients - even our bigger clients - and this campaign that I’m going to talk about is one that we're running for a bigger client, but it applies to any small client. We also run these with smaller businesses and solo entrepreneurs.
I’ll give you a little background on this client. We've been working with them for three years now, doing full inbound marketing. They are a local area, B2C business, and they sell a home improvement product. A typical sale for them is anywhere from $15,000 to $25,000 per home.
Kathleen: I find that companies that have that high transaction value are really well suited to inbound marketing because they can see the ROI fairly quickly if it's done well. Do you find that as well?
Rick: Yes, definitely. Especially because there's the sales cycle. When you have a high transaction value like that, there's a sale cycle. Nobody's clicking a button to buy that online, they're not … There's a sales process. Once you have that sales process involved, that gives the opportunity to do a lot more inbound marketing, create some content, and this whole campaign that we created for this client was designed to assist the sales process with their sales.
Kathleen: Tell me a little bit about what the objectives of the campaign were specifically.
Rick: They have a sales process that lasts about 45 days, from the time that someone first comes to their site, to the time that they close or don't close. It involves a lot of contact with the sales team, and doing estimating, and things like that. The objective was to assist that, to keep their information in front of the potential prospect during the sales process, even when they weren't speaking to the sales people, and not using email. The idea was to keep their information in front of them, using what we call, "re-marketing."
Kathleen: Can you talk a little bit about what re-marketing is?
Rick: Let's say you go to Toyota and look up a car on their site. Then all of a sudden you notice that you're seeing ads for that same car as you go around the internet. In most cases, it could be pretty annoying, so we have a special way of doing this, what we call "Progressive re-marketing." It's not annoying, and it limits the amounts of ads people are seeing, but we stay in front of them.
Kathleen: That's really interesting, are you going to talk a little bit more about exactly what makes it progressive?
Rick: Yes, I’ll get into details. The reason you want to do re-marketing is because as a business, you're spending a lot of resources to get people to your site whether you're doing it organically or through blogs. For this customer, most of the traffic is coming from organic search due to all the blogging we've done over the last three years. They also are doing some AdWords advertising with the help of an outside agency, and then they're using us to run their Facebook advertising.
You have people coming to the site, they're interested, and then they bounce off and leave, and they don't come back. That's why you want to do re-marketing - to remind them, "Hey, you were here" and try to get them back. That’s the purpose of re-marketing.
Rick: It depends. We have a client right now that is strictly B2B, and we're really knocking it out of the ballpark with Facebook. We have some re-marketing going on, but then we also have video ads that we’re targeting at a cold audience. So they're getting bottom-of-the-funnel leads in a B2B environment for $12 per lead.
Kathleen: Wow, that’s great. We might have to have a separate interview about that campaign.
Rick: Yeah, they're getting leads for sales consultations. It's a different campaign and it doesn't work for a lot of B2B. It depends on who they're going after, right?
Kathleen: Who were you going after for this particular campaign?
Rick: For this campaign, they're targeting mid to high income homeowners. But again, this is re-marketing, so this is about squeezing the last bit of juice out of all the people we've been driving to the customer’s website, and converting them into customers.
We created what we call a "Facebook progressive re-marketing campaign." We started by dividing their audience into different segments. In Facebook, you can create custom audiences based on what page someone has seen on your site, and how recently they were on your site.
Think of the campaign like a ladder. There's five steps. So if you came to their website and you looked at something and then you left, the next day, you're going to see an offer. Then that offer will go away after three days. Then on day four, you're going to see a different offer. Then that'll go away, and on day eight, you're going to see another offer. We have these five steps. What we've done is we've broken up the audience into five segments to correspond with their sales cycle.
Kathleen: We'll go back to the example of me. I come to your site, I leave, I go to Facebook, I see that first offer. Then a few days later I see the second offer. Are you doing that by essentially creating lists, and am I moving from your list of, "Here's somebody who has looked at our site in the last two days," and then going to the list of, "Here's somebody who hasn't looked at our site four days." And that's how you're changing those offers?
Rick: Yes. Right inside of Facebook you can build a custom audience. So for example you can build a list of everybody who's been to your site in the last three days, and then build another for everyone that has been to your site in the last seven days, and the last 14 days, last 30 days, last 90 days. Then you have to do a little programming to build another audience that includes the seven day audience, but excludes the three day audience, and another that includes the 14 day audience, but excludes the seven and three day audiences, etc. What you're doing is saying, "I don't want to show this to people who just came in - I want to show it to people who are in the eight to 14 day period."
Kathleen: If I visit your site, I start to see your ads. I'm moving up the ladder, and let's say I'm in the second rung of the ladder, and I go back to your site. Does that kick me out of that, or change anything? Or do I still progress through that progressive re-marketing campaign?
Rick: No, you'll still progress through
Kathleen: Got it. Are you using a tracking pixel to create that list?
Rick: Yes, we're using Facebook's tracking pixel. It's very simple. The first thing we do is create offers. The first offer is a standard discount offer, and because they’re selling an outdoor, home improvement product, we're offering a free leaf blower and $500 off installation.
So that's the first offer and the focus of the first ad on Facebook. From there, we drive people to a landing page where they fill out a form and that enables us to track them inside of HubSpot. That's what they're getting from day one to day three. Now remember that even though you may have requested a consultation on their site, it's probably going to be about 30 days before you actually close and make a decision. So we're keeping this information in front of you.
On day four through day seven, we've created a comparison guide. This guide compares all the different options and competitors in the marketplace for this particular product. And it's an ad on Facebook that you'll see, and it takes you back to their site to another landing page inside HubSpot where you can download the comparison guide.
Kathleen: That's great, I find that comparison guides are one of the most powerful offers.
Rick: Yeah, because that's what people are doing - they go out and say, "Well, can I get it for less? Can I get it elsewhere?" I'm going to have a quiz for you after this.
Kathleen: Oh boy.
Rick: I'm going to ask you to identify which of these steps in the ladder has produced the most sales and leads.
Rick: All right? See if you can guess. On day eight, we've created a Frequently Asked Question sheet, and that pops up as an ad. That takes you to another landing page on HubSpot, and you fill that out, and you get the FAQ sheet, which is a bunch of questions that we've gotten from the sales team. These are the questions that everybody's asking, and we just answer them and create the FAQ sheet.
Then, on day 15 we offer them another guide called, "Eight facts you should know before you buy this product." That lasts from day 15 to day 30. At that point, either most of the prospects have either made a purchase, or moved on.
Then we have step five that runs on day 31 to day 90, and that's a designing guide about how to design your outdoor facility around this product.
We have that five step ladder and these are all static ads. We're not doing any video. If you know anything about Facebook advertising, you know that what you have to worry about is frequency.
Kathleen: Why is that?
Rick: The rule of thumb is that when someone sees your ad four or more times, they start to burn out on it. People start to ignore it, and they'll start to click, "Don't show me this anymore." When that happens, your relevancy score with Facebook drops for that ad. As your relevancy score drops, your cost per click goes up and Facebook will show it less. They want high quality stuff and they want people engaging. The problem when you do Facebook advertising is that you have to frequently change the ads. Now, with this ladder approach, you never have to touch these ads. This campaign is not something new we just launched, it's been running for 12 months solid.
Because of the steps in the ladder and the way we handle the audience, the average frequency for these ads, with the exception of step five (and I'll go into why) is only 3.4, meaning, people on average have seen any one of the ads 3.4 times.
Kathleen: And you know that because Facebook tells you that through the analytics in the ad manager, is that correct?
Rick: Yes. That's right there in the stats. That's one of the important things we look at is frequency, and relevancy scores. The relevancy score is six for these ads, except for step five, which is a three.
Kathleen: How is relevancy calculated?
Rick: I don't know. I'm pretty sure that's a Facebook secret. It's based on how people are interacting with that ad and how it’s being received. We have some ads for some companies where we've got a relevancy score of 10, which is the highest you can get. In that case, it's a very passionate audience. It's in the music industry, and we're posting things like how to improve your fingering on a violin. It's very, very relevant stuff. Our educational videos also tend to get higher relevancy scores. Just for a rule of thumb, a good relevancy score on a Facebook ad is four and above. If you're below four, you really need to look at the ad.
Kathleen: That's great to have that metric in place. This is really interesting to me, and what I love about it is that, at least from my perspective, it sounds like you created all this content, and you've basically matched the content that you're pushing to people to their needs at each stage in the buyers journey. And in doing so, you’re pulling them along that buying journey a little bit more quickly than they otherwise would move because you're able to preempt some of the questions they have, and feed them the answers.
Rick: Exactly, that was the idea. Having worked with the client for two years before we launched this, we had built 15 or 18 content assets. We went inside of HubSpot and did an audit to determine the assets that are most popular with people that become customers. We identified the five top assets or offers, including the free leaf blower, the comparison guide, FAQ sheet, eight facts you should know, and designing guide.
Kathleen: I know a lot of people that have HubSpot who look at things like, "What's my landing page conversion rate? How is this offer doing?" but what they don't do is the kind of forensic analysis that you're talking about to look backwards at somebody who has become a customer and see if they can sniff out patterns that happen across that audience. It's very easy to look at your HubSpot data and say, "Hey, I've had this really high performing landing page." But if you just factor in visitor-to-lead conversions, and not lead to customer, that's not actually going to help you get results.
Kathleen: I like that you guys looked backwards and said, "Let's really look at what produced ROI in the form of sales, and focus in on those offers."
Rick: The other forensic analysis you can do is to look at the amount of time between the first time on site, to first conversion, to first sales call, to closing. That helps you identify the timeline for your sales cycle. We did this and then interviewed the sales team to validate our findings.
So here's the quiz, you ready?
Kathleen: I don't know if I'm ready, but go for it.
Rick: All right, so try to picture this in your mind, because I know you don't have this in front of you. We have step one through five. We have three day, seven day, 14 day, 30 day, and then 90 day steps. Step one was the free leaf blower and the offer. Step two is the comparison guide. Step three is the FAQ sheet. Step four is eight facts you should know, that's after 30 days. Then step five is the designing guide after 90 days.
Which one do you think had the most conversions, and created the most sales?
Kathleen: I'm torn between two of them. I could be completely off base with either of them. But the ones that I would think would be the FAQ and the conversion guide.
Rick: Yep, you nailed it. The FAQ sheet, which we showed them from day eight to day 14, had the most conversions and the most direct sales. The results in terms of conversions for most of the offers were pretty close, with the exception of the 90 day one. By 90 days, people are just done and gone.
Kathleen: And you're only going to convert on that design guide if you're really serious about purchasing. Why do you think the FAQ was the most popular? I have my theory, but I'm curious what yours is.
Rick: It's just answering the questions. It's one sheet, so people actually look at it. A lot of people download these great offers like E-books, but they don't read them.
Kathleen: And a lot of people are getting tired, and aren't downloading them as much anymore because they get them, and then a lot of E-books, pardon my French, they suck. There's E-book fatigue.
Rick: These are quick cheat sheets, fact sheets, FAQ sheets. People will digest anything you do in one sheet. I also think it's in the sweet spot. It's at the 14 day mark, when they’ve just had their sales call. It's answering all the questions that people have previously asked, that addresses where they get stuck in the buying cycle. I think that's why it's doing the best.
Kathleen: If you think about the free leaf blower and discount option, that's the kind of thing where if you fill it out, you think, "There's decent likelihood I'm going to get called by a sales guy" because it's a “tell” that you’re ready to buy, whereas an FAQ sheet is a little bit subtler, and maybe not something that you think somebody's going to call you for.
It's a little less intimidating to trade your information for that FAQ sheet. As you said, it's a great educational offer and something that if you're seriously considering purchasing this product or this service, will probably containing information that you need or want to know. Marketers spend so much time creating these overly complex content offers, writing these long E-books, building these intricate checklists, and assessments, and things. Sometimes it is the simplest things, like an FAQ sheet, that do the best.
Rick: Exactly. The value is in understanding the audience, what they need, and getting that in front of them. The value is not in developing a 24 page E-book.
Here's an interesting fact. What do you think got the most clicks, but not as many conversions? There's one that got twice as many clicks.
Kathleen: I was going to say the free leaf blower.
Rick: No, its the “8 facts you should know” - step 4 and day 30. The biggest loser was the designing guide. We've actually turned off step five. After 30 days, people are getting sick of the ads. The designing guide was getting a relevancy score of three, a frequency of six. It was too high, and it wasn't converting, and it was costing the most. It was crazy.
Kathleen: You know, the other thing that's kind of cool about this whole idea of progressive re-marketing is that because you're creating one campaign and letting it run for a long time, you can really dive into the analytics of it and fine tune it. Whereas if you're creating a whole bunch of different campaigns, and you're constantly changing things, there's a lot you can do and test, but you can't take the deep dive like you've taken into this one, and really optimize performance in the way that you have.
Rick: Right. So what I haven’t shared with you yet is the numbers. I said this is a low spend campaign. This is not the primary driver of their sales. We're only spending $800 a month on this and it's creating 29 bottom-of-the-funnel leads per month at an average cost of about $28 per lead.
Kathleen: And remind me what the average transaction value is.
Rick: It's about $15,000 to $25,000.
Kathleen: So for $28 per lead they can make a $15,000 to $20,000 sale? The ROI on that is astronomical!
Rick: I'll give you a comparison. They're also running a Google AdWords campaign, and the cost per lead for that is about $110. That’s because with AdWords, it's a cold audience.
They had AdWords re-targeting going on, and that was costing $120 a lead, whereas Facebook was costing $28. We went in and created a progressive model inside of AdWords, and got that cost per lead (cost per lead) down to about $60. But still, we can't get anywhere near Facebook's CPL, because Facebook is just a lot more powerful.
Kathleen: You mentioned that they're spending about $28 per lead, tell me about how many customers they've landed from this campaign.
Rick: In the last 12 months, we can directly attribute 12 new customers or about a $230,000 in sales.
Kathleen: Wow, and those are people that really would have truly been lost - out of the sales process.
Rick: We can directly attribute $230,000 in sales. We know that's because their marketing stack consists of HubSpot, Salesforce, Invoca, and Databox, so they're tracking everything.
We also have an estimate of indirect sales, where these ads and content offers have assisted in converting leads to customers. That's about 40 customers, with about $800,000 in sales.
This campaign was originally designed to assist the sales process, not to bring in new sales, but it has succeeded in bringing in almost a quarter million in new sales.
Kathleen: A lot of companies don't track those assists. They look at it as either, "This is a purely inbound lead," or, it's a purely sales driven lead/sale. There’s a whole gray area in the middle where you might have a lead that came to you through a source like a referral, or a networking event, or what have you, but when you start to look back at the lifecycle of that lead and you see how your content marketing assets have facilitated it, it's powerful. There's no saying that you might have closed a sale without that boost that it gives you.
Rick: It's hard to tell. In most cases, you can't single-handedly say, "Okay, this one thing caused the sale." You have to take a more holistic look at it. Everything works together, right? The content works to assist the sales process. As we see people downloading it, we're able to attribute 40 more customers and we know that they represent $800,000 in sales. The annual spend on this campaign is about $9,000. It brought in $230,000 of new sales, and $800,000 of assisted sales.
Kathleen: You've done a great job explaining, from a technical standpoint, how this was put together and why it works. I think a lot of the people that listen tend to be people who are the roll-up-your-sleeves-and-do-the-marketing-work kind of folks. If they wanted to apply some of what you've done here to their campaigns, what do you think the takeaways are? What made this so successful, and what could somebody do to get the same results for either their own marketing, or their clients’ marketing?
Rick: First, look at your buyer's journey. How long does it take them from the first time on the site until they actually close? If there's a significant amount of time between that, say a week or more, then this is a good strategy. Then divide that time up into different audiences based on the type of content you have. I mean, if you only have two or three pieces of content, then divide it into two or three audiences.
That's easy to do in Facebook. The other thing to understand is that you don't use custom audiences for the campaign, you use saved audiences. The saved audience is going to be like ... take my four day audience, and exclude my two day audience. You have to do that math, and then advertise to that.
Kathleen: Are those technically separate campaigns? Or are they separate ads in the same campaign?
Rick: Good question. It's one campaign, and it's separate ad sets. because we have different audiences, the audiences are chosen at the ad set level inside of Facebook. I have one campaign running with five ad sets, and then inside those ad sets they each have three different ads, where we test it for a while, but now they're all down to one ad. We turned the other ones off. We have one campaign with five ad sets. We had 15 ads, but now we're down to just five ads that are performing the best.
Kathleen: Again, it goes back to that idea that because this is an evergreen campaign, you're really able to dive deep into the analytics, and fine tune it to the point of optimal performance. One of the questions I always ask people is, are there things that you're doing differently as a result of what you've learned here? You've already mentioned that you eliminated that 90 day step, because it really wasn't working. Anything else that you either would or would not do again based on what you learned?
Rick: Yes. Do not go more than 15 days beyond your buyer's cycle. We had outliers that were like 90 days in closing. When you look at your buyer's journey, there's always outliers. In this case, there's the bulk of the people that close within 30 days, and then you have these outliers that close by 90 days. Don't address the outliers, because that's just going to drag down your campaign stats. Just leave them alone.
Kathleen: Any other key takeaways?
Rick: We're moving into replacing these with video ads, because video is performing even better on Facebook advertising.
Kathleen: You have some really interesting approaches to inbound, and specifically to Facebook advertising. Where do you look to get inspiration, to get some of your best advice that inspires how you tweak and change your approach to inbound marketing?
Rick: Mostly, I listen to podcasts.
Kathleen: Any particular podcasts that you really like?
Rick: This may sound funny because I'm probably not in her demographic, but my favorite podcaster is Amy Porterfield. I just love her show. She does a great job of teaching things, and she is always teaching new concepts.
Kathleen: Company or individual, who do you think is doing inbound or content marketing really well these days? If our listeners wanted to go out there and see somebody doing it right, who would you point them to?
Rick: I guess I'm just going to state the obvious, it's HubSpot. they're the model for content marketing/inbound marketing.
Kathleen: I love this approach to Facebook advertising that you’ve described today and am definitely going to test it out. Thank you for sharing all of this!
Tell our guests, if they have questions, where can they find you online?