Turning your idea into a real product or business takes real people as users or customers. The goal of this article is to help you validate (or grow) your business by reliably sending relevant visitors to signup for your product or service.
I want to help you do this by evaluating acquisition channels, setting up your first ad campaigns and experimenting with your landing page and ad copy.
I’m expecting you to be an entrepreneur or product owner who has an existing landing page, a target persona/customer and at least $300–500 in advertising budget. If you don’t have these two then this article may be more theory than execution for you but learnings nonetheless.
Landing page or Product setup
Make sure that you have a strong landing page for converting target customers before sending lots of traffic. This means you should have direct and clear copy that will match your ads, a complimenting design, direct and actionable CTA and necessary analytics for measuring.
I’d also put some good thought into what happens when people sign up. You don’t want to be sending lots of traffic to something that cannot keep people engaged or activated. I often use the analogy of pouring water (traffic) into a bucket (your product) to capture value. You suddenly begin to lose value you’ve captured if you have holes in the bucket (your product).
Make sure you follow up with signups or have suitable onboarding for your product. If your product is more mature your leaks are most likely retention or referral based activities (or lack of them).
To make sense of any paid advertising you need to be tracking your efforts against a metric such as signups. For every single ad you create you will want a specific and unique URL that carries UTM parameters.
Having unique UTM parameters helps track down what ad and channel is sending your best performing user. It can be very easy to waste money if you aren’t tracking what ads are driving what actions on your site.
Though, if every ad you have has a unique url it can begin to get very difficult to track them. You can manually create these links using the URL Builder that Google provides.
Testing Different Channels
Getting started can be tricky as there are lots of possible places to advertise your but putting your best foot forward is important. I’ll first start AdWords for 4–5 days before Facebook, Twitter. I do this as you can begin to test ad copy with customers who are searching for a solution.
I’ll then use these learnings for future channels. This definitely does not work for every niche, I’ll often skip AdWords if I find the keywords to be saturated and expensive or if I’m targeting a persona more than a problem.
Thankfully the first time you set up an AdWords account they walk you through a good setup process. For the less savvy they even launched AdWords Express which makes the process even more simple.
You can also expect an advertising rep to reach out to you before and during your campaign. In the past these reps are hit or miss on their helpfulness but if these are your first campaigns take all the help you can get.
Start with the Keyword Planner Tool to search for keywords and phrases related to your product and service. Think about what problems your target customers have and how would they be searching for solutions.
Some early criteria to follow:
Often a great channel depending on your product and service, I’ve found the best success here with look-a-like audiences based on signups I already have on my landing page, and retargeting using AdRoll or Facebook’s Conversion Pixel. If you don’t have any users or visits don’t sweat it, Facebook has some great targeting settings that take some time to investigate.
As you get to creating your campaign but your best foot forward by targeting the ad at your target personas.
Combine all of the audience targetting Facebook provides you to get as close as you can.
Keep your eye on the “Potential Reach” Facebook estimates as well as their Specific / Broad rating as you don’t want to get too specific you’ve eliminated possible customers, but not too broad you’re advertising to irrelevant people.
Depending on the product and niche I’ve had some great successes using Twitter advertising. The trick here is to stand out as Twitter has no shortage of noise and distractions, I’ll spend the biggest chunk of my time designing ads here using a value proposition that matches my landing page.
To get started I usually leverage Twitters basic targeting similar to my Facebook approach but here is based on keywords. Avoid most of the single keywords that Twitter suggests as I will often hone down on problem related tweets or people who follow complimenting or competitor products.
General Acquisition Channel Tips
Where is your target? Determine Desktop Vs. Mobile targeting (most of the times both places doesn’t make sense)
I usually try to collect 10,000 impressions or $100 on a campaign before I can really determine whether the CPC or conversions are poor. As I approach this number I’ll trim out poor performing ads, keywords and targeting.
The key is to continue experimenting with different combinations of copy both in ad and on page. I usually expect to take 2–3 iterations on a channel before I find a good reason to scale.