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It’s a challenge to get traffic to your website. Even after you put in the effort to build traffic, many visitors don’t buy what you’re selling the first time they visit. What you want to do is get your visitors to return so they make that purchase. Today’s guest is Nick Steeves, the chief product officer at Wishpond. He is going to talk to us about retargeting, video ads, and how to measure your digital advertising success. If you want to get more people to come back to your site to buy your product or service, you won’t want to miss today’s show!
Some of the highlights of the show include:
Quotes by Nick:
Nathan: You’ve worked really hard to get traffic to your website but even with all of your effort, a lot of those visitors don’t buy what you’re selling the first time they see it. Wouldn’t it be great if you could get those visitors who already know you to come back and ultimately make that purchase? That’s why we’re chatting with Nick Steeves today on the Actionable Marketing Podcast.
Nick is a Chief Product Officer at Wishpond. He’s been mastering the art of Facebook retargeting ads. You’re about to learn all about retargeting, why video ads tend to perform well for Wishpond and how to measure your digital advertising success. Let’s check this out.
Hey Nick, thank you so much for being on the podcast today.
Nick: No problem. Thanks for having me.
Nathan: I’m excited to have you on the show. Nick, just to kick this off, tell me about Wishpond.
Nick: Sure. Wishpond is a marketing software platform that provides tools for lead generation and marketing automation. We make it super easy for small and medium sized businesses and agencies to create things like mobile responsive landing pages, popups, forms, social contests, email drip campaigns, and behavioural emails.
Nathan: Definitely a lot of things that are needed in marketing.
Nathan: What exactly do you do at Wishpond, Nick?
Nick: I am the Chief Product Officer. I oversee all of our product strategy and design.
Nathan: Nice. It sounds like some of the work that you do there is with retargeting ads on Facebook. Could you just describe to me the basics like what is retargeting?
Nick: Sure. The basic idea with retargeting is you have a retargeting pixel that tracks people, even anonymous people who visit your website. When they visit your website, you can actually display ads to those people on Facebook through the Google Display Network or any other publisher network that you’re pushing your ads to. It’s a really great way to basically bring back the people who visit your website that first time but don’t buy, which of course, as you probably know, is about 98% of those people.
Nathan: Yeah. It gives you a way to see what kind of traffic you have and target them after the fact.
Nathan: Nick, I’m wondering then, why is retargeting important?
Nick: It goes back to what I just said earlier which is that the conversion rate for people buying on the site is so low. Like 2% to 3% if you’re doing a really great job. People are always comparison shopping. No matter what industry you’re in, you have a lot of competitors that people are going to be looking back and forth at.
People might come to your website, check out your product or service maybe before the exact day or moment when they actually want to buy. If they’re thinking of buying maybe a month or two down the road, it’s going to be likely they’re going to forget about you.
Retargeting is a great way to bring those people back or to showcase something about your product or service they may not have found out about on their initial visit to your site.
Nathan: Nice. Just because we’re talking about the very beginnings of this, if you had to describe how to do retargeting in a few simple steps, what would it look like?
Nick: There’s a basic way to do it and there’s the way that we do it which is more advanced. The absolute basic way to do it is somebody visits a page on your website about one of your products or services and then you create a little graphic banner ad and you place that on Facebook or Display Networks that promotes that product that the person saw and that you know they’re interested in.
If you ever go to Amazon, you most likely have been retargeted by Amazon with the exact products that you checked out but didn’t buy. That’s the most basic foundational way for doing retargeting.
Nathan: You mentioned you do something that’s maybe a little bit more advanced. Tell me about that.
Nick: Sure. We use more of a funnel approach, multistep approach to retargeting as we do with all of our marketing. We know that people who are coming to our site have come in to us for a variety of reasons and other variety of stages in the buying cycle.
For example, someone who comes to our blog just searched on Google for how to increase Facebook likes or how to create a landing page. Those people are in a much different mindset than people who come to one of our product pages and maybe read one of our case studies.
We do very specific ad targeting based on the audience and what we think that they’re most interested in at that stage in the buying cycle.
Nathan: That’s super interesting. Something that I want to talk about there is how do you actually come up with those ad ideas for those different stages? What does that process look like for you guys?
Nick: The first step for us is the audience. We look at for example people going to our blog. We write on a host of different topics but we can pretty much box people into maybe four or five different kind of overarching topics that if people read a blog post within that topic, we have a general idea of what they’re interested in, in terms of the kind of marketing they want to be doing, the kind of goal they have, or the specific type of campaign that they’re probably interested in running.
If they read a blog post for how to run a Facebook contest, we’re pretty sure they’re interested in running a Facebook contest. Based on that, we know that a person is interested in that but they’re not actually introduced to the Wishpond product yet or are ready to be sold to yet.
Instead of at that point showing them an ad that talks about our products specifically, we’ll actually retarget them with a video ad on Facebook or YouTube that talks about a case study for someone who’s run a Facebook contest and keep it really focused mostly on content and the steps they used to get their result and then drop them throughout the video ad as well as at the end that hey, they used Wishpond for this.
Nathan: Smart. Something you mentioned is, you can figure out who has read what blog post. How do you know that?
Nick: We use two tools for our retargeting. We use a tool called AdEspresso specifically for our Facebook retargeting because they’re just on the Facebook platform. They give a much broader and deeper analytic and testing tool than the Facebook ads tool itself. That’s what we use which is a fantastic tool.
For all of our display retargeting on the web, we just use Google’s own AdWords remarketing platform.
Nathan: Something I wanted to ask you about, Nick, is the types of retargeting ads that work really well. You use Display and Facebook. Tell me more about that.
Nick: In the Display, there are a few quadrants. Where you’re running your ad isn’t as important as the content of the ad itself. The biggest discrepancy we found is the results we get from video ads versus display just banner ads. Banner ads, a few years ago, used to do really well because they were still pretty noble. Not a lot of people were doing them but now, people are so over saturated with banner ads.
Even the retargeting ones, they used to work really well, they just don’t get people’s attention or the clicks, they used to at least, from what we found in our case, [00:06:52] going forward predominantly my focus is going to be purely on video ads. We’re finding the best success with video ads on Facebook.
You can do video ads through Google Display but their rich text media ads, which I still need to get into, I haven’t done it yet because it’s a bit more complicated. But for us, the two avenues or the two channels we’ve used for video ads are Facebook and YouTube.
We’ve found far more success on Facebook with the video ads than YouTube, I’m assuming because people who are scrolling through Facebook are far more open to watching your video than they are in YouTube because when they see a pre roll ad on YouTube, which is where the ads that come up work for the video you want to watch starts playing, it’s just something in your way and you just want to get past it as fast as possible. But with Facebook, it’s less intrusive. You can scroll past it but you can stop if you want. We’ve had a lot more success with video on Facebook specifically.
Nathan: I find that actually extremely interesting too. I want to dig a little bit deeper into the video. How do you guys shoot those or what sorts of content do you include in your video? What makes them intriguing that you get that conversion out of them?
Nick: There are two things that we find really important. The first is that the video itself begins with an actual person talking. People like to watch people on Facebook. If you just start with a screen share or even like a more high quality, expensive animation type video, we actually haven’t found those perform as well as just the person talking into a camera. People really like to watch people talk. That’s number one for video ads.
The second things is having text on the screen at the beginning, like in the first 5 to 10 seconds, especially for Facebook video ads because as you probably know, videos on Facebook, they will auto play when you scroll down in the newsfeed but they won’t auto play the audio. If you have a video where you’re just talking but there’s no audio, no one has an idea what’s going on on the video until they click that audio button which is actually the easiest button to find in a Facebook post.
If you have text on the screen, big text that’s moving, it’s almost like they’re pre qualifying themselves to watch the video. I like to do a lot of things in my mind that help people pre qualify themselves for doing stuff. They don’t have to click, play, and watch the video which even though it’s a small thing to do, it’s not something everyone wants to do when they can just start watching the video on mute with the text paying. You can read the text and watch the video, and then click audio and start watching it if they want to.
Nathan: That seems really smart, Nick. Something you can do on Facebook is just share videos. I’m wondering what’s your take? Why is it important to pay to play on Facebook then?
Nick: Two things. If you just post a post on Facebook, if you’ve done it five years ago, Facebook’s organic reach for videos is higher than just the static content, or text, or photos. One thing I haven’t gotten into yet and I keep putting it off is doing Facebook Live videos. I don’t know if you notice when you go on your own Facebook feed but Facebook Live videos are always at the top. I really want to get into that. I would totally recommend to anybody to do that and share their success stories or lack, thereof.
That’s something I really want to do, Facebook Live videos. But if you want to retarget people who visit your website, the only way to really do this is with ads, unless they’re already a fan of your page on Facebook, which is at least for us, highly unlikely, they overlap between people who visit our website and like us on Facebook.
It’s going to be small for anybody because people coming to your website for the first time would never have liked you on Facebook. You won’t be able to reach them without a retargeting ad than if you just done a regular post on your page.
Nathan: Let’s just say that I’ve got this idea. I’m going to retarget people, got some of my creative ready. How far ahead do you plan your ad campaigns?
Nick: Not that far ahead. We run generally on two week sprints with our growth team which is what we call our marketing team. A huge amount of what we do is based on testing so we try and do high template testing which is possible. One of the issues is that videos, if you have experience with them, take a long time to create. Something as short as like five minute videos take a very long time.
Those might take from the stage where we have a test running and we say, “Okay, based on this data or information, we want to run a video ad based on that.” It might take anywhere from two to three to four weeks depending on how aggressive we are to go from this is some data we have that we want to act on and test out a video at on and then publishing that video.
Nathan: I am totally going to get us side tracked here. You said that you call your marketing team the growth team. Could you tell me about that?
Nick: Sure. It’s just a different mindset. Because when you say marketing, we try to make everyone at Wishpond as accountable as possible for their role as well as the growth of the company. We’re very open. The hierarchy here is very flat. We take ideas from everyone and everyone is encouraged to share their ideas. I think our CEO recently got the idea from Facebook. They called their team a growth team that was growing their user base.
We made that distinction because this team, they’re not responsible for marketing, they’re not responsible for branding and what the website looks like, they’re responsible for the growth of the company. We found that word really fit for the team.
Nathan: I love that. We recently made a pivot here too where we changed our team names. It’s just fun to hear other people making those similar decisions too.
Nick: Totally. I can get into it all day, about internal business stuff that most people probably find mundane but I love it.
Nathan: No, it’s a good thing. Nick, just to get us back on track, how do you organize all of the content creation process for those ads behind the scenes at Wishpond? What does that workflow look like for you guys?
Nick: I’m a big fan of Spreadsheets. I love Spreadsheets. I find them to be the most flexible, simple to use tool so that’s the thing that I use as my catalogue for cataloguing all the work that needs to be done. We do also use Asana for our designers but I’ll always have a Spreadsheet of my own just to make sure that I can see everything. That makes it easy for me to see.
Generally speaking, what we have is myself or a few of the other members of the growth team will come up with the idea, create the copy and the script for what we want the content to be. And then, we’ll pass it onto one of two people, one of those people being me who will actually go and record the video, make the video and then we’ll work with one of our video editors/designers to do the editing and the text overlay for the video.
Nathan: Nick, let’s just say that I have a couple of different videos. How do you test your ads to know what works best? I would love to know that process.
Nick: Generally speaking, we come up with the hypothesis based on the audience as well as the content of the video itself. We think based on the data we have that, okay, this audience who does this thing visits this page is interested in this or thinking about this. Okay, let’s try and make an ad that is entertaining and informative, and we’ll take them from where they are now, show them something that they’re going to be interested in to take them to the next step.
That’s always the beginning of the testing process and that’s generally speaking how we come up with our hypothesis. For the most part, we use AdEspresso which is our main tool of choice as I mentioned before for running Facebook ads. What we do in there is we test both the creative and the audience itself.
For example, we want to target people who have read about landing pages on our blog. What we can do is we can create two ads that will target all those people who have visited those pages on our blog, and then we can see which one performs best. AdEspresso is really great, Facebook is of course amazing with the amount of data that it knows about people so we get a complete breakdown of all the demographics: age, groups, gender, location, placement of the ad, time of day to see not only how the content itself is performing, but with which audience segments it is performing best with.
We can see for example, one of the recent ads that we were running, we were seeing that for whatever reason, it was performing really well with people aged 18 to 34 but after age 34, then people weren’t converting for whatever reason so we just chopped the audience in half and just targeted and kept running it for that 18 to 34 age group.
Nathan: That seems really smart. Something that I wanted to ask you too, very subjective but how much would you recommend someone spend before pulling the plug on a test? How do you know when a hypothesis has worked or not?
Nick: I think that it’s really dependent on your company’s customer lifetime value as well as what you’re willing to pay for your custom acquisition cost. Say for example, the value of a customer to you is $10. You’re willing to pay $10 for a customer. That means you have to get a cost per conversion of $10. If you go out and you spend $500 and you have no conversions, that’s probably a good point where you can say, “Okay, this isn’t even close to the acquisition cost that I need for this ad to be profitable.” Pause the ad, try something new.
On the other hand, if you sell a much higher priced product or service, maybe that’s worth $10,000 so you can be spending $10,000 in ads to get one customer that’s profitable for you. Well then, you go and you could spend maybe $20,000, $30,000, $40,000 on ads before you’re going to know that hey, this ad isn’t working because it’s going to take that much before you’re going to realize that hey, the people in my audience are just not interested in this. I’m not able to recoup the $10,000 that I need to make this ad work.
Nathan: I love that. It’s super smart, data driven. How do you actually figure out your customer lifetime value? Do you use a tool for that? How do you figure out that number?
Nick: We use it internally. It’s different for every company. We just use basic Spreadsheets with data models. We have Stripe, which is our payment processor and then ChartMogul for our data graph reporting so we can see what our average customer value is and then we can see what our average conversion of free trial to paid is. We break down all the steps from the initial conversion to payments and then toll payment number to tell us basically how much we’re willing to pay for one person to start a free trial.
Nathan: Nick, let’s just say that you’ve figured out a couple of different things. Obviously, you are very big in looking at data and understanding what works and what doesn’t. How do you use what you’ve learned from previous ads to improve your future ones? What does your process look like there?
Nick: For everything that we do in terms of coming up with a hypothesis is going to be based on our past data. We look at the different things that we’ve tried and what we feel has worked. A lot of it is subjective and feel based because you don’t always know why certain creative is always resonating with your audience so that best thing you can do is look at okay, what was this video ad that I was showing to this audience, what was it talking about? How far did people watch the video before they dropped off generally speaking? Just get a sense of how well it has performed and why do you think it performed well.
Based off of the why that we create in our minds, we’re on a new ad that builds and say okay, we think this was working really well in this ad, let’s make that more prominent in this next ad or try the same kind of idea but for a different audience that’s interested in a different topic and see if it resonates with them.
Nathan: That seems really smart. Nick, obviously you’ve mastered this stuff. I was wondering. Let’s just think about someone who’s new or just starting, or looking into doing retargeting, what’s your best advice that you would give them? Where should they start?
Nick: The first thing you have to do is learn a tool that you want to use: AdEspresso or Google remarketing, both fantastic. First, start off with building your audiences and thinking about, “Okay, people who are visiting these pages on my website, they’re reading these kind of topics in the content marketing that I’m pushing out.” Thinking about, “Okay, what are they interested in?” And what’s next likely step that that person could take towards becoming a customer.
The thing I would say, depending on how much traffic you have to your website, you need to have somewhere in the ballpark of at least an audience size of at least 1,000 people for it to really work to be able to get solid data from it.
If you have enough traffic, then the best thing to do is start with what I would consider the lowest hanging fruit which is the people who are getting almost all the way to buying like adding products to their checkout, to their cart, going to the checkout page or going to your buying page and not purchasing because those people are going to be much more likely to buy if you give them that nudge. That’s where you get the best results right away, with those people who are right at the bottom of the funnel and then work your way up from there.
Nathan: Alright Nick, that looks like a really good place to end this. Thank you so much for being on the show and sharing everything you know about retargeting ads. I appreciate it a lot.
Nick: No problem. Thanks for having me.
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