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June 6, 2019

Remarketing Crash Course: Day 3

Should you SELL or NURTURE in your remarketing ads?

We were talking yesterday about what to put in your remarketing ads. I suggested you offer the visitor a suitable next step, rather than creep them out with what they just looked at.

The ‘next step’ could be a number of things. It could be a sales step. It could be an email opt-in incentive. It could simply be a link to a key blog post, audio file or video.

All of these things fall on a spectrum, with ‘selling’ at one end, and ‘nurturing’ at the other. When you nurture you’re looking to entertain and educate, and lay the groundwork for a sales conversation in the future.

This email is an example of remarketing nurture. I’m REmarketing to you because the word remarketing broadly means ‘any kind of follow up’. And I’m nurturing rather than selling. I’m laying the groundwork for a pitch that will come at the end of this email series.

Email is well suited to marketing nurture, because the incremental cost to send an extra email is virtually zero. But when you’re remarketing on Google or Facebook, the incremental click cost is significant. Which really means you can only afford to nurture your hottest prospects with paid ads, otherwise the numbers simply don’t work. Even direct mail is cheaper than a Google remarketing ad click.

(Aside: I’m baffled by the number of people who happily spend thousands a month on Google, but believe direct mail is ‘too expensive’)

Nurture engaged contacts, and proposition cold ones…

It’s counter-intuitive, but nurturing highly engaged contacts usually generates a high ROI. Nurturing cold unengaged contacts usually generates an ROI close to zero. So put more offers (paid or opt-in) in front of colder audiences.

In general, the colder the audience, the more you need to sell in your remarketing ads (i.e. the more direct you need to be), and the less you can afford to nurture. You don’t want to risk nurturing people who in all likelihood are never going to buy.

You need to work out the right balance for your business, but it might be that 80% of your remarketing ads link to a sales step or email opt-in, and 20% link to an education piece like a video or blog post.

Incidentally on email those numbers might be reversed, with 80% of your emails seeking to nurture and 20% attempting to sell. As a rule of thumb I’d suggest that was a reasonable starting point.

On Facebook most of your nurturing ads could well be videos, with ‘engagement’ set as your campaign objective. Video works well on Facebook (especially with captions), so play to the strengths of each medium.

The exact balance between nurturing and propositioning will depend on your business. If you run a business like mine where you need to nurture people for a while, then you might have a higher proportion of nurturing ads (maybe 60% selling / 40% nurture).

We’ll talk tomorrow about how to do all this without going broke, or funding the Google Christmas party.

June 5, 2019

Remarketing Crash Course: Day 2

Don’t tell them what they DID

We were talking yesterday about remarketing being the guy with a flyer outside your shop.

The question is: what should you put on your flyers? Or in other words, what should you say in your ads?

We’ve all been remarketed to badly. We’ve all been haunted around the internet by some website we visited one time. So what’s the right way to do it?

It helps to start by thinking of your marketing as a series of steps. Nobody ends up on your website by accident, so in the previous step something caused the visitor to stop what they were doing and go to your website. Your remarketing ad then needs to show them the next step, which may not be the thing they just looked at.

Most remarketing ads show you what you just looked at. Which is kind of creepy. If a remarketing ad simply repeats what you have already said ‘no’ to, then the ad is likely to be an annoyance, not a service.

We aren’t trying to annoy, follow, stalk, or otherwise creep anyone out. We’re trying to remind and serve. You serve people by putting the next helpful step in front of them, not by reminding them of what they just looked at.

In the words of David Ogilvy, your customer is not a moron. They’ve seen your offer, and for whatever reason they said ‘no’. Repeatedly showing it over and over is not very sensible. Have a think: what would convince them otherwise? How can you sweeten the deal, even if you’re just asking for an email opt-in? Might you need to educate them first?

The next step may not always be a sales step. In some circumstances it can be better to link to a video, or blog post. If the visitor didn’t convert because they don’t understand your topic well enough, you have to educate before you can sell.

Clicks are expensive, so there is some nuance to getting this balance right. More on this tomorrow.

June 4, 2019

Remarketing Crash Course: Day 1

Remarketing is database marketing…

Most business owners I speak to are familiar with the concept of remarketing – but the mechanics are often a mystery. Like the clutch in a car, it’s preferable to assume it works by magic.

If you do study the mechanics, things quickly get technical. You end up installing code on your website. You end up fighting with the Google Ads interface. Terms like audiencepixellookalike can quickly bamboozle you.

When you strip away the technicalities, remarketing is database marketing. You’re renting a list from Google or Facebook or some other media owner on a pay per click basis.

The best part is you get to build the list before you buy it. And actually you don’t really buy it – you only rent it on a per click basis. Or rather a ‘per engagement’ basis, because somebody could watch a video or like a Facebook post rather than click through to your website.

If you know what you’re doing, this makes remarketing a low-risk way to expand your sphere of influence.

As well as database marketing, remarketing is also a form of micro-branding to no more than a few thousand people at a time. Done right, you’re increasing awareness within the window when somebody is likely to still be making a decision.

Remarketing is the guy with the box of flyers…

Just for a moment, think of your website as a bricks and mortar high street store. A potential customer pops in, looking hurried. You acknowledge them and say ‘hi’. Suddenly, the customer glances at her phone, and abruptly leaves.

“I wonder why she left?” you wonder.

But all is not lost. Thirty yards up the road, your employee Chris is handing out flyers. “Spend $20 and get 15% off with this code”, says the flyer. Three hours later, the customer (looking significantly less flustered), returns holding the flyer and buys.

That in short is how remarketing works. Remarketing is the guy with the flyer, standing outside your shop. (He’s actually more intelligent than that, because he can only offer flyers to people who looked at certain things in your shop, or people who stayed for a minimum amount of time. But I am getting ahead of myself…)

The key strategic question is: what should you put on your flyers? Should you make an offer, like offering a discount? Should you try to educate the customer?

Remarketing clicks aren’t necessarily cheap. How do you make the clicks profitable?

More on this tomorrow.

How to build long-term subscribers

Broadly speaking there are two things you can write about when emailing your list:

1. Things that immediately help your reader

2. Things that challenge them, or jolt them awake

You need both types, but they belong in slightly different places. The things that immediately help a reader are what entices them onto your list in the first place. Successfully challenging their thinking is what keeps them subscribed over the long term.

As time passes, I’ve become less interested in the former, and more interested in the latter. Things that immediately help someone are usually tactical, and quickly expire. It’s hard to get to the truth of a situation when you’re outlining a seven step process.

How then, do you jolt someone awake?

You point out the thing they’re not seeing. The thing that’s lurking in their blind spot.

Because as much as we like to believe otherwise, we all DO have a blind spot. Assumptions we’ve made, or things we think we know that actually we don’t.

What’s in your reader’s blind spot? That’s the thing to focus on.

May 2, 2019

When marketing is a waste of time

My work is really about finding and educating potential customers. Which is fine, if you already have a flow of leads.

Once you have leads coming in, you can and should build out remarketing campaigns, email sequences, direct mail sequences and so on. Especially if you’re selling something expensive.

But if you DON’T already have leads coming in, this is not the place to start…

Most likely, you need to narrow down on a group of people who have money and a particular problem. And you need to get a working lead generation offer in front of them.

Otherwise, working on your email sequences and remarketing ads is like colouring in the leaves on a tree, without first putting the tree trunk in place. Or at best, having a fuzzy unclear trunk.

You don’t even need to develop your lead generation offer very much to begin with. Creating a good opt-in incentive is a lot of work, but you should only do the work once somebody has raised their hand and requested it.

As soon as that happens you have work to do.

May 1, 2019

Have assurance in your knowledge​

An important rule of thumb when writing to your list is to never apologise. Ever.

If you say you’re going to email every week and disappear for a while, because you’re busy or whatever, then don’t apologise for it. Just get the next email prepared and carry on.

If you make a mistake in an email or get something wrong, don’t apologise for it.

If you word something badly and offend a bunch of people, don’t apologise for it.

Just yesterday a writer in my writer’s circle was talking about adding a page to his website called “my mistakes.” He intended this as a point of diligence and transparency.

“No no NO!” I replied. “My SUCCESSES,” maybe. “My TESTIMONIALS,” maybe.

Magnetic people do not go around apologising for stuff. It just isn’t attractive to potential customers. We all know that Frank Kern has a lot to apologise for, but funnily enough he never does.

You don’t have to be arrogant or offensive about this. But you need to be assured in your own knowledge and materials. Every time you apologise you undermine that assurance.

So stop doing it.

Sermon over.

April 30, 2019

The copywriting floodgates

I attended a networking and problem solving day last week. The group was a small intimate one; a safe space to open up.

One lady had a start-up venture in commercial property. She wasn’t a big talker, at least initially. We talked a bit about the Easter weekend, the weather and such like. I’m not great at small talk, and neither was she.

As soon as she started talking about commercial property, everything changed. Suddenly she lit up, and the floodgates opened.

Listening to people get really excited about a topic causes a small bell to go off in my head. From a copywriting perspective it’s like striking a vein of silver. The challenge is to capture both the content and the enthusiasm before it evaporates into the atmosphere.

The only way to do this is to record conversations. If you try to write up the conversation later on, you miss too many of the details, and too many small turns of phrase.

I record conversations in a few different ways. I have a recording app on my phone, called ‘Voice Recorder’. You just tap ‘record’ and leave your phone on the table. The file size of the audio is small, but it does drain your phone battery if you’re recording for a long time. (Take a charger).

I also have a call recorder called ACR for recording telephone conversations. Very reliable, good quality recordings and small file sizes.

For online meetings I use Zoom to record calls, which is reliable.

Once you have the recording, you need to get good at listening through at 2X – 3X speed. Once you have a good volume of material, you need to pick it apart quickly. You don’t have time to listen again at regular speed.

It can help to transcribe important calls (I use, but you’ll want to listen through again first before you pay for a transcript. I use the free audio editing software Audacity to chop out only the sections I want transcribing.

April 26, 2019

8 Things to Understand About Facebook

I want to point out a few things that are easy to forget when creating Facebook ads.

1. Facebook has always been a personal medium – a place we go to snoop on and interact with people we know. Or even better, people we used to know…

2. It isn’t your right to appear in anyone’s Facebook newsfeed. It’s a privilege that can very easily be taken away. Viewing it that way changes the way you write your ads.

3. The first question we ask when we scroll past an ad is: “who the hell is this?” If you’re not famous or a friend, you better have something super-compelling to say.

4. There is no secret story formula to write super-compelling ads. People who don’t know you don’t want to hear an epic sob story.

5. Unless your business relates to a hobby or interest (an ACTUAL hobby: not property, marketing or something) it is hard to get traction with people who don’t know you. Often the clicks are just too expensive.

6. Facebook is highly visual, and well-suited to video. You might consider promoting videos to people who don’t know you, and only running conventional ads to people who watch the videos.

7. Your ad image is as important as your ad copy. (Without an effective image, nobody will read the copy).

8. As a starting point, I’d plan on spending 75% of your Facebook ads budget on people who already know you (through retargeting).

April 24, 2019

Converting Google-speak into normal-speak

I’ve been thinking of starting my own ‘Google Translate’ service. Not a language transcription service… but rather a simple way to understand everything Google tells you.

For example (some of these are directly from the Google Ads blog)…

Google says: “You should raise bids on mobile”
Rob says: “Unless you have data to prove otherwise, you should probably lower bids on mobile”

Google says: “We’re enabling a safe digital advertising ecosystem”
Rob says: “We’ll repeatedly disable your ads for no reason”

Google says: “You should optimise ads for clicks”
Rob says: “You should rotate ads indefinitely and optimise for profit”

Google says: “Build a better mobile experience”
Rob says: “Create a fast-loading mobile landing page, you dummy”

Google says: “Disney and Google expand strategic relationship”
Rob says “(Not even gonna comment on that one – breaks translator)”

Google says: “How evolving user patterns drive new ad experiences on YouTube”
Rob says: “We’re gonna change the names of all the YouTube ads formats every seven seconds”

Google says: “An insider’s look at the latest Google Ads innovations”
Rob says: “Watch out! Here’s what we’re about to change in the interface next!”

More translations available on request.

April 18, 2019

How the Maze works in practice

The maze is a model for nurturing customers across multiple media. Today I would like to illustrate how this works, by using that bastion of design, Microsoft Paint…

The maze could also be thought of as your universe of awareness.

Potential customers who are unaware of you are outside of it. Once somebody first encounters you (sees an ad, meets you, sees a video, etc), they’re effectively here, at the edge:

Unless you operate to a very short sales cycle (e.g. you’re a locksmith), you’ll want people to opt-in to a media form you control. This could be an email opt-in, chatbot subscriber, print newsletter subscriber. Once this happens our contact is now further inside the maze, closer to you inner sanctum.

Once they sign up for your service, they’re basically in the middle (or close to it). The absolute centre of the maze is customers who sing your praises, leave glowing testimonials, and make ongoing referrals.

The problem is that as time passes, everyone in your universe of awareness is moving further away, all of the time.

Even customers subscribed to a subscription service move further away. With each day that passes where they DON’T engage with or use the service they’re paying for, they move further out (and become less likely to renew).

Which is a nice theory. But how do you build this in practice?

For somebody who arrived at your website yesterday (and didn’t opt-in), what do you show them next?

What advertising networks do you use? (Facebook / Google Display / YouTube)? How long should you advertise to them for? What percentage of your ads budget should you spend on nurturing vs selling?

These are all questions I address in this month’s edition of my print newsletter, Maze Marketing Insider. This month’s letter outlines two specific ways to nurture new contacts using remarketing.

A good email opt-in rate on a landing page might be 10%. This is a way to nurture the other 90%.

If you’re a subscriber, it’s already in the mail to you.

If you’re not, you can join us risk-free here. The deadline for this month’s print run is today. You’ll get the PDF version after that.

Membership includes my archive of newsletters and webinars going back to 2015 (now organised by topic), and all my books. Money back if you don’t like it.