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The 5 Core Stages Of The Buying Cycle

Identifying and developing the right content for your campaigns is a challenging task. If you push the wrong content to your viewers at the wrong time, you risk sending the wrong message and missing out on potential sales. We’ve helped hundreds of brands grow with paid ads and have developed a simple, go-to list to identify which content is best for each stage of the buying cycle and turning ad viewers into customers.

Before we dive into the best types of content for each stage of the buying cycle, let’s discuss the cycle itself. 

When running ads, your customer flows through what is called a buying cycle. This buying cycle or customer journey is the process of starting as someone that doesn’t know about your brand or product to become a fan or first-time purchaser. 

Understanding the buyer’s journey improves your ability to push the right content to them at the right time, increasing the likelihood of generating a sale. Below is an overview of the five places we should be targeting our customers with ads to drive sales.

  1. Cold Traffic (no engagement with the brand) 
    • People that have never seen or heard about the product/service
  2. Social Engagement (no website action)
    • Liked social page, commented, follows you but has never been to the website
  3. Website Engagement (no attempt to purchase action)
    • Been to the website but hasn’t attempted to purchase or convert
  4. Attempt To Purchase Action (no checkout)
    • A person has attempted to purchase but did not complete 
  5. Post Purchase (value add)
    • People that have made at least one purchase with you

Finding Winning Content for Each Stage

The 5 stages of the buyer’s journey are the foundation for successful campaigns, providing the roadmap for your ad copy and creatives. 

One of the keys to building winning campaigns is to test everything. Once you’ve found that a creative performs well at one stage of the funnel, don’t be afraid to test it at a different stage to see if it succeeds elsewhere.

Middle of Funnel (MOF) and Bottom of Funnel (BOF) creatives should be a mixture of User Generated Content (videos and images from your customers), trust-building content you have created, and for the Bottom of Funnel, essential creatives to encourage users to return and purchase again.

10 Middle of Funnel Content Types You Should Be Using

1. Unboxing Videos

Show how the product gets delivered, showcase the branding experience, and show and discuss the product.

  • Excellent for every stage of the buying cycle
  • For colder audiences, the best performing unboxing content is concise (10-15 seconds). When a customer has a deeper interest and understanding of your brand, longer videos can perform better (30-60 seconds).

2. Reaction Videos

Show people’s reactions to receiving the product themselves or as a gift. Capturing the excitement from these moments is super engaging content.

  • Excellent for every stage of the buying cycle
  • Great if you’re able to source quality user-generated content.
  • When creating reaction video ads, we recommend starting with a clear CTA in the first 3 seconds and not letting the full video exceed 30 seconds.

3. Competitor Review Videos

Compare your product to a competitor’s or discuss why your product is superior.

  • BOF winner (sometimes MOF)
  • An opportunity to demonstrate how your product is better and what makes your brand unique.
  • When developing product comparison videos, ensure you showcase your brand personality to be more relatable and keep the viewer’s attention.
  • Videos of this type are best between 30-90 seconds.

4. Product in Use Videos

Show different angles and features of the product in use.

  • Excellent for every stage of the buying cycle
  • Often 15-30 seconds and identify the core customer problem and how your product solves it.

5. Customer Collage Videos

A video that combines all the different elements above into one video, including short videos and photos from customers using a product.

  • MOF & BOF winner
  • Similar to reaction videos, mixing short clips of customers using the product adds credibility and trust in your brand. This is because a potential buyer sees other people just like them using your product and enjoying its benefits.
  • These types of videos are great at 15-30 seconds, providing enough depth without being too long.

6. Full Product Experience Videos

These videos are from a customer, showing them receiving the item, discussing the brand experience and why they purchased the product, what made them buy it, how it compares to competitors and what they love about it. They also demonstrate the product’s key features and benefits and how it solves their problem.

  • BOF winner
  • These videos work best when a customer has engaged with the brand multiple times. Given that these videos are much more in-depth than all other kinds of creatives, we need a customer to have a high interest in learning more.
  • Full product experience videos have shown to perform best when between 45-2 minutes long. 

7. Customer review videos

Videos from your customers talking about why they purchased your product, why they love it, and why others should buy it.

  • MOF & BOF WINNER
  • This content is the foundation of user-generated content and consistently provides the final encouragement needed to make a purchase.
  • The best review videos are 20-40 seconds.

8. Testimonial Videos

Videos from customers discussing how the product has helped them or made a difference in their lives and how it could benefit others.

  • MOF & BOF winner
  • Testimonial creatives show off your product and add trust in your brand. If your video testimonial is mixed with imagery, this often performs best.

9. Finish Checkout Creatives

Images or videos encouraging users to return to the website and finish checking out.

  • BOF Abandoned Cart winner
  • This is one of the few times being very direct generates a great return. When developing checkout creatives, we’ve found that the more straightforward you are with segmentation, the better it performs. If someone checked out a product but didn’t buy, then call it out and test different creatives to see which converts best.

10. “We miss you” creatives

These videos address in a creative way that we know a user has revisited a website but has not purchased — they encourage the user to return and make a purchase.

  • MOF & BOF winner
  • These creatives focus on the re-engagement of potential customers that have shown a high level of interest but haven’t taken any action in a while. This style of creative works well as an image or 6-10 second video that’s very direct. Since these viewers already understand your brand, you can be direct with creative.

By leveraging our paid advertising insights and strategies in creative development, we aim to provide you with a clear path to creating ads that massively impact your brand. If you’re able to implement a variation of each type of content outlined above, we’re confident that your ad performance will improve. 

How To Choose Audiences For Top Of Funnel

Cold traffic audiences are, without a doubt, the most difficult audiences to profitably convert with paid advertising. However, they’re usually the most important audiences you run ads to, even if your bottom of funnel audiences provide you with the greatest returns. If you’re not bringing new people into your funnel and building your pipeline, then your pool of potential customers at the bottom of the funnel will have diminishing returns.

We spend a lot of time building COLD traffic (i.e. Top of Funnel campaigns). Our Top of Funnel (TOF) campaigns usually spend 65-70% of the total budget on most accounts we manage.

Because so much ad spend is directed to cold traffic, it’s essential to choose the right audiences for your TOF campaigns.

Traffic quality is vital to your ad account’s overall performance. Since this traffic feeds into the Middle Of Funnel (MOF) and Bottom Of Funnel (BOF) campaigns, having the right audiences at the top will give your account the opportunity to perform well.


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To set up your top of funnel, evaluate your options and separate the available assets into 4 main categories:

1. Lookalike audiences (LLA) based on Custom Lists.

Custom Lists are not new. If your Facebook Pixel did not capture purchases, upload a CSV and create a lookalike audience.

PRO TIP: Export your customer list from your ecommerce platform (Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, etc.) and separate your customer data based on the amount of purchases they’ve made. Our favorite starting point is to segment people that have made only one purchase vs the people that have made 2+. We then take this data and upload the lists separately, then our final upload is both of those customer lists combined. This provides three solid audiences for testing and creating Lookalike Audiences from 1%-6%. Make sure not to remove the order value from the list so you can upload the Custom List with Life Time Value included.

Customer List #1 = People that have made only 1 purchase

Customer List #2 = People that have made more than 1 purchase

Customer List #3 = Everyone that has made a purchase

2. Lookalike audiences based on pixel events.

There are countless options and variations when creating lookalike audiences based on pixel events. The most common and available pixel events in ecommerce are PageView, ViewContent, Add to Cart, Initiate Checkout, Added Payment details, and Purchases. Before creating custom audiences based on these events, you’ll always want to check Events Manager for the total number of events fired on your website for each event. These numbers can help predict the potential audience size and whether to use them as lookalikes or not.

Regardless of the total number of events, we recommend creating custom audiences for 3 / 7 / 15 / 30 / 60 / 90 / 180 days. Even if you cannot use them as a source audience for lookalikes, they will come in handy for retargeting later on.

If the number of events on your website is significant or the site has several products or landing pages, it will allow you to create more advanced custom audiences, providing more valuable lookalike audiences. We aim for the custom audience size to be at least 500 (preferably 1000) to create a solid lookalike audience. 

Here are some of our favorite LLA combinations:

  • PageView Last 30 Days Frequency > 4
  • Site Visitor Top 5% Last 90 Days
  • Top 25% Most Engaged By Time On Site
  • Any specific product / category / pixel event –> View Content_url include: Product last 60 days
  • You can also exclude purchase value under a certain amount

PRO TIP: To do an advanced search or crosscheck the potential custom audience size, you can use Facebook Analytics. It will immediately show you the audience number, and you can adjust variables more easily than creating each custom audience in the Audiences tab. If you find a great combination, you can save the filter and build the audience right away.

3. Lookalike audiences based on Engagement.

This category could be called “lookalikes based on MOF audiences”. The source audience, in this case, is from custom audiences based on Facebook Page or Instagram account engagement.

Here are a few examples:

  • FB messages sent in the past 365 days –> LLA for a client where most of their orders came through Messenger
  • FB post engagement in the past 180 days
  • FB video watch time 50%+ last 90 days
  • IG saved post in the past 180 days
  • Facebook Page visitors in the past 60 days
  • FB all Engagement in the past 365 days

Note: We believe you should only use video viewers as a source audience for lookalikes if there is no other option available. The source audience that viewed your ad videos aren’t necessarily valuable customers. Creating a lookalike from these users might not provide much value — unless your objective is to find more engaging video viewers. 

There is, however, one scenario when video viewers can be valuable as a source audience: when you have organic converting traffic with long video viewing times from watching live videos or other content on your Facebook page — such as educational, how-to videos that are connected to your products or services.

4. Interest-based audiences

Even though we think we have a better success rate when starting with lookalike audiences for TOF campaigns, we also see success with interest-based audiences — especially when the product or brand has a precise market segmentation or personas. Aside from the product or niche interest groups, our usual process is to check the Audience Insights tab to find other things page visitors are interested in.

PRO TIP: When creating these audiences, our go-to process is to combine broad audiences with interests. We leave demographic attributes open and select 1-1 main interest only, which usually results in a massive 5M+ audience. 

Example: We target people in the USA with an interest in Crossfit, excluding our website visitors in the last 180 days.

Once you’ve analyzed the four categories above, choose 5-8 audiences you believe are the most valuable for a splash of fresh traffic. There are a couple of things you should keep in mind when creating a TOF campaign with Campaign Budget Optimization (CBO) and choosing audiences:

If the audience sizes between ad sets vary significantly — for instance, one audience has an audience size of 70k and another with 10m — then the algorithms will likely push traffic to the ad set with a bigger audience.

If you choose LLAs based on the same sale funnel events each time, you’ll more than likely find that they overlap. This overlap limits the algorithm’s ability to test fresh traffic and find you more conversions.

Let’s say you create a 1% LLA based on:

  • Add to Cart last 180 days
  • Initiate Checkout last 180 days 
  • Purchase last 180 days 

On paper, these all look like valuable lookalikes — and they are, to a point. However, when you want to give the best chance for a TOF Campaign Budget Optimization (CBO) campaign, you might want to mix up your audience and try new directions.

1% lookalikes are a solid go-to and will likely be more valuable than 2% or 5%. But we’d still recommend testing different percentages on the same source audience, as they might give you surprising results. 

Before you expand to broader percentages, we recommend that the first TOF campaigns only use a 1% audience.

Scaling your brand online is a challenging task, but you can make the path to growth easier by following strategies to affordably reach new customers. By implementing the processes we’ve outlined for finding and targeting cold traffic audiences on Facebook and Instagram, you’ll put yourself well ahead of your competitors.


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Having A Solid Buyer Persona Is The Key To Online Success

You may have the best idea, the best product, and the most organized and seemingly effective business plan out there. But, if you don’t know your buyer’s persona, then none of that really matters. There are quite a few factors that go into a company’s marketing effort, and in addition to having a brand persona, you must also define your buyer’s persona.

Your buyer’s persona will give your company (specifically, your sales team) a very clear idea of who your target audience is, and how to approach them and understand them in a way that will eventually lead to closing a deal. But, there are a number of reasons why knowing your buyer’s persona is essential to your marketing strategy, and unless you internalize those, you may have a hard time moving forward.

It’ll Help Establish Your Brand

If you’re having trouble defining your brand persona — another key ingredient in your overall marketing strategy — then it’s probably because you haven’t yet figured out who you’re catering to.

Every company who sells a product or service must have an idea of what kind of people want to buy those products and services. When you have a better understanding of who your audience is, it makes it easier to create a brand that resonates well with that audience.

Heres a great example of what a solid buyer persona would look like.

You’ll Know Who You’re Targeting

Knowing your buyer persona means you’ll know exactly who you’re targeting. After all, there’s no reason you should be marketing dog products to cat owners. It’s one thing to have a general idea of who your audience is, but it’s another to delve much deeper into that. There are many different factors that go into understanding your audience, whether it’s their demographics (age, location, socio-economic status), interests, behavior, etc.

You may not know all this information up front, but you will certainly learn it over time, especially if you’re actively searching for it (and, you should be). This information is critical to marketing your products and services because you need to be sure you’re reaching the right people, and not wasting time on those who are uninterested.

You’ll Know What Types of Interactions to Look For

Having a buyer’s persona as part of your marketing strategy helps your company to determine what to be looking for as far as your audience’s interaction with your products. For instance, if your audience is primarily seniors, then your main avenue of reaching them is probably not through Facebook (though, there are certainly lots of 65+ on social media these days). Likewise, if you’re planning on reaching out to leads and customers via email marketing, then your buyer persona can help you see if this way of marketing is effective, by tracking inbox opens or internal link clicks.

Once you’ve experimented with the best ways to bring in leads via organic marketing, you can analyze their interactions and engagements to decide how to move forward. Of course, a marketing expert who is familiar with buyer behavior can help you see which engagements you should be focusing on, in order to best shape your marketing campaigns, responses, sale tactics, etc.

You Can Change Your Marketing Strategy Based on Consumer Behavior

Knowing your buyer persona is important because it helps you to fix mistakes, focus on triumphs, and make any necessary changes for the future. Even if you’re sure of your company’s buyer persona, you may find over time that your audience’s behavior slightly changes, or that your audience wants more of one product you’re selling vs. another. Once you know what to look for and you can see whether or not something is clearly leading to sales or fails, then you can appropriately change your marketing strategy or develop other areas of the sales cycle in order to convert leads.

If you don’t know your company’s buyer persona, it’d be really difficult to execute a successful marketing strategy and put in the effort that’s required in growing a business. Therefore, it’s important to keep in mind that hiring an expert to help guide you and break down this information can really make all the difference.

5 Reasons Why You Must Have a Brand Persona

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5 Reasons Why You Must Have a Brand Persona

There are three main pieces that every company must put together in order to put forth their best marketing effort, and one of the most crucial is your brand persona. Most companies know the importance of the role marketing plays in their business.

After all, Mcdonald’s didn’t get to where it is today without those Golden Arches! Companies who, therefore, put more time, money, and overall effort into their brand persona, will have an easier time measuring their success compared to those who don’t.

A brand persona is what’s used to define who you are and to single you out from the competition. If you don’t have a brand, then you can’t move forward with your marketing strategy.

HR Persona
HR Persona

1) A Brand Persona Defines Who You Are

If you want people to be interested in engaging with you as well as buying your products or services, then people need to know who you are. Just like no two personalities are the same, no two brand personas should be the same, either. In order to establish your brand, think of what personality it would have if it were a human being. What would its traits be; its character? What are its values? Think of these questions when you try to formulate your brand persona, and you’ll have no issue coming up with all the other aspects that often coincide with a brand — your story, your logo, your mission, etc.

Example Brand Or Buyer Persona
Example Brand Or Buyer Persona

2) It Tells Your Audience What You Can Provide

If you’ve ever used a brand name to refer to a general product — for instance, calling a tissue a “Kleenex” — then you already have an understanding of how much your brand persona has the ability to influence your audience. Of course, your company may provide more than one product or service, but there’s something about what you’re offering that people should crave and that they can’t go without. For some companies, this might just be one item, and for others, it may be a whole list of items. And, even though people can likely find those items elsewhere, your brand persona tells them why they need to get it from you.

Example Of Either Buyer Or Brand Persona
Example Of Either Buyer Or Brand Persona

3) It Sets the Tone or Voice for Your Company

We’ve mentioned that one way to create your brand persona is by giving it human characteristics. But, behind all that, are the actual human beings who have helped to create and build the company. A brand persona not only tells your audience what you can provide, but it tells them who you are based on your company’s tone or voice. Sometimes when these two things don’t match up well, people can choose to boycott your products (Chick-fil-a can speak to this), especially if they don’t feel that what you’re providing agrees with what your values are.

The tone or voice your possess, therefore, demonstrates to the world what you stand for. Perhaps you have an interesting backstory that inspired the business, or you donate a percentage of your profits to charity. This is all part of your brand persona, and why having this particular piece of your marketing strategy matters. People are much more likely to buy from your company when they feel they can relate to you as a person.

4) It Makes Your Company Unique

Having a brand persona as part of your marketing effort means that you’ve worked to create something that makes you stand out, even if there are many other companies doing something similar.

Think of ice cream companies in the United States. Ben & Jerry’s is known for its unique, yet familiar, flavors, Baskin Robbins is known for traditionally having 31 flavors, Friendly’s is known for creating an atmosphere for friends and family, and newcomers — like Salt & Straw — are known for using local ingredients to create flavors that no one else has ever tried before. These companies are all more or less doing the same thing, but there’s a reason that a customer would gravitate to one more than another. For them, it’s all about your brand.

Example Brand Or Buyer Persona
Example Brand Or Buyer Persona

5) You’ll Become a True Competitor in Your Industry

Despite the fact that your company isn’t the first one out there selling ice cream, travel backpacks, or business consulting (if you are, more power to you for getting there first!), one of the main reasons you must have a brand persona  is because it will lead you to become a true competitor in your industry. We know what you’re thinking — “Who wants competition?” In case you haven’t realized this yet (and, if you haven’t, you’ve probably got some more experience to gain), competition is a GOOD thing. It means you’re playing in the big leagues, and people will notice that.

Developing a strong brand persona as a part of your marketing effort isn’t always easy to do. However, by hiring an expert to help (aka we’d love that to be us), you can be sure that you’re starting off on the right foot so your business can be successful long term.[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

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