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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 Scale Winning Paid Ads Campaigns

Imagine

You’ve been running ad campaigns for your brand for a couple of weeks to test for winning variations: and you’ve found them. Now it’s time to scale — to take your winning campaigns and push them to more people for a greater return. 

But how do you get there? Do you simply add more spend to the budget? Turn off non-performing variations?

What’s our winning process?

Historically, we’ve struggled with this answer. After a lot of trial and error and learning from the best consultants in the media buying space, we’ve developed a framework that helps our partners grow with paid ads.

Before we start scaling, we run our ad sets for 3-5 days for accurate average results — Facebook tends to show better results in the first few days of running ads. While it’s good to see ads converting, don’t let this fool you! This is often where scaling begins and ends for brands; they see initial growth, then watch their campaigns slowly decline or stagnate.

We follow this process:

  1. Increase the ad budget for the Top Of Funnel / Cold Traffic campaign by 20-30% — some suggest as much as 50%, but we wouldn’t go so far. This provides a baseline of data and the highest likelihood of consistent performance during initial growth stages.
  2. After 2-4 days at the new ad spend with consistent results, duplicate the ad set, and push the budget 100% higher than the original.
  3. When implementing higher budgets, leverage manual bidding, and test multiple ad sets with 1x, 2x, 3x, and 4x the target CPA.
  4. Within the campaign, create an ad set with 5-10x the original budget.
  5. Because Facebook auction fluctuates daily, we need to determine what kind of manual bidding works best for our ad sets.
  6. Finally… Test, Test, Test. scaling a winning campaign involves a lot of trial and error! However, with the right mindset and the right team, it is possible.

Ad Budget Breakdown

We’ve tested numerous strategies when it comes to managing the ad spend for maximum results. Over the years we’ve found that splitting the ad spend using a 70/30 model where 70% of the ad spend is directed towards cold traffic and the other 30% is devoted towards re-targeting and engaging our existing audience.

Cold Traffic / Top Of Funnel: 70% Of Ad Spend

Middle Of Funnel: 15 – 20% of Ad Spend

Bottom Of Funnel: 10% – 15% Of Ad Spend

Taking some time to outline a detailed strategy that can maximize your scaling potential is essential when setting up these campaigns. Make an effort to develop a thoughtful strategy rooted in specific goals. This will make your efforts focused, efficient, and set for success.

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.


Tired Your Campaigns Being Unprofitable?

Learn the method we’ve used to help profitably grow and scale e-commerce brands to 6-7 figures online with paid advertising. Save time, money, and countless hours testing by following our scaling method.


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.


Tired Of Unprofitable Campaigns?

Learn the method we’ve used to help profitably grow and scale e-commerce brands to 6-7 figures online with paid advertising. Save time, money, and countless hours testing by following our scaling method.


Fool-Proof Checklist For Paid Ads Success

To successfully run your paid ads campaigns it takes more than the knowledge of how to put everything into the ad platform you’re using.

In fact, that’s the easiest part of running ads!

Once you’re Google or Facebook ad campaigns are up and running its vital that you have a good process in place for managing and optimizing your ads consistently.

To help, we decided to outline the key points of optimization and when to review them. Below is a graphic that you can use a guide for optimizing your campaigns.

We recommend bookmarking the page so you can access it easily in the future!

The 4 Best Paid Campaign Optimization Strategies

How to optimize your campaigns quickly and easily:

One of the hardest things for people to be able to do one the campaigns are up and running is campaign management and optimization. For many marketers and agencies, they create campaigns and watch them run for a while and see what happens. Although we wish marketing was that easy, that is not how to create high performing campaigns that bring the business serious returns. We have an easy four step process that can be followed to improve your campaigns results and push spend toward your best ads and ad groups.

Strategy #1: Audience Targeting

Not knowing how to improve the audience targeting is a common problem among paid advertisers. To remedy this issue, all that’s needed is to make sure you only target one audience per ad group. However, Ad Labs Marketing improves the solution by segmenting based on device type. Once you’ve segmented the ad groups by audience, it’s super easy to remove unprofitable audience segments and see considerable improvements in the campaigns. 

By following this process, you’ll have a campaign that began with 10-20 Ad groups will eventually be optimized down to 3-6 active, highly-effective ad groups.

Note: This optimization strategy works best with higher daily ad spends because you can capture lots of data in a short period. If you are unable to put a decent amount of spend behind your campaigns, then you will have to keep your ad groups on for longer to find clear winners.

Strategy #2: Device Type Targeting

When we created the ad groups, we optimized by device because we categorized the ad groups by device type and audience. Once we have enough data to determine which device and audience converts best, we can turn off the others and start accelerating ad spend to the best device type. This method eliminates wasted ad spend and keep our ads focused on the device where our audience is most engaged.

Strategy #3: Ad Content Optimization

Inside each adgroup of a campaign, we incorporate multiple types of ads. Each ad group should test all ad types, copy length, copy tone, design, and so on. By running numerous ad styles, we can quickly find which works best for a campaign in terms of profitability, conversion rate, total conversions, and user engagement. 

After we have received enough data to see which ad types are not working well within an adgroup, you can turn them off. Then test new variations of the top 2 winning ads and see which does the best.

Strategy #4: Day & Time Narrowing

Every business has peak days and times that users are most active and engaged. With this in mind, we want to look at our ads and see how our existing data correlates with what is happening in our campaigns. If we are seeing that users are interacting with our ads at similar times to our website or page activity, we can narrow our days and times that ads run for optimal performance.

Interested in us helping you crush it with paid advertising? 

We’re always looking to help businesses improve their digital presence and performance. We’d love to talk with you and see if we’d be a good fit. To schedule a free consultation…

2018 Update Of The Latest Innovations From Google

https://www.facebook.com/adlabssocial/videos/285161442217948/

2018 Update Of The Latest Innovations From Google

1. Gmail can now autocomplete entire emails (!) with a new feature called Smart Compose — just keep hitting the tab button, and Google will autocomplete your message. You can switch it on right now as part of the new Gmail experience Google is rolling out.

1. Gmail can now autocomplete entire emails (!) with a new feature called Smart Compose — just keep hitting the tab button, and Google will autocomplete your message. You can switch it on right now as part of the new Gmail experience Google is rolling out.

2. A new Google Photos feature called Suggested Actions can spot friends in your photos and offer to share those photos with those people with the press of a button.

2. A new Google Photos feature called Suggested Actions can spot friends in your photos and offer to share those photos with those people with the press of a button.

3. Google Photos is more powerful now. You can instantly turn photos of documents into PDFs. You can also remove color from your photos — even just in certain areas — or re-colorize your old black-and-white photos of your relatives.

3. Google Photos is more powerful now. You can instantly turn photos of documents into PDFs. You can also remove color from your photos — even just in certain areas — or re-colorize your old black-and-white photos of your relatives.

4. Google Assistant has made a major breakthrough, according to CEO Sundar Pichai. Soon, it will sound much more natural — in fact, the new voice of Google Assistant, coming later this year, is none other than the R&B star John Legend.

4. Google Assistant has made a major breakthrough, according to CEO Sundar Pichai. Soon, it will sound <em>much</em> more natural — in fact, the new voice of Google Assistant, coming later this year, is none other than the R&B star John Legend.”></span></p>
<p class=5. Google Assistant is also much smarter now. Thanks to a feature called Continued Conversations, you don’t need to say “OK Google” every time you want to talk to it — just use the command to get the conversation going, then ask as many questions as you’d like. Google Assistant will also remember your past answers and parse multiple questions in one sentence.

5. Google Assistant is also much smarter now. Thanks to a feature called Continued Conversations, you don't need to say

read more about smart compose

6. Google is rolling out something parents have been craving since the advent of personal assistants: a politeness feature, in which you essentially get credit for saying “please” when you ask Google Assistant for something. It’s designed to teach children to not be bossy when asking for things. When you say “please,” Google will respond in kind — and even compliment you.

6. Google is rolling out something parents have been craving since the advent of personal assistants: a politeness feature, in which you essentially get credit for saying

7. Pichai unveiled a wild experimental Google Assistant feature called Duplex: You can ask Google Assistant to call a business on your behalf, and Google’s AI will schedule an appointment for you. Yes, this is totally real. Google demoed two phone calls on stage to give people a taste.

8. Google’s new version of Android, called Android P, focuses on “digital well-being.” Basically, Google wants you to spend less time on your phone and more time with your loved ones, so Android will give you information about how you use your phone and even create controls to limit screen time, particularly with apps like YouTube.

8. Google's new version of Android, called Android P, focuses on

9. If you subscribe to multiple publications, like newspapers and online magazines, a new feature called Subscribe with Google will let you access all your paid content anywhere, including on Google Search, Google News, and the publishers’ sites.

9. If you subscribe to multiple publications, like newspapers and online magazines, a new feature called Subscribe with Google will let you access all your paid content anywhere, including on Google Search, Google News, and the publishers' sites.

10. Google is preparing for Android phones without buttons. The new Android P has a new navigation system that makes multitasking easier by emphasizing gestures over virtual buttons. It looks very similar to iOS on the buttonless iPhone X, where there’s a swipe icon at the bottom of the phone to help you navigate and multitask.

10. Google is preparing for Android phones without buttons. The new Android P has a new navigation system that makes multitasking easier by emphasizing gestures over virtual buttons. It looks very similar to iOS on the buttonless iPhone X, where there's a swipe icon at the bottom of the phone to help you navigate and multitask.

11. Android P has a “shush” mode. If the feature is turned on and you put your phone facedown on a table, it will automatically activate “do not disturb” mode.

11. Android P has a

12. Another smart feature in Android P: If you’re looking at the screen and rotate the phone, either on purpose or accidentally, a button will pop up to let you also rotate the screen. Otherwise, you can keep the display the way it is.

12. Another smart feature in Android P: If you're looking at the screen and rotate the phone, either on purpose or accidentally, a button will pop up to let you also rotate the screen. Otherwise, you can keep the display the way it is.

13. Google showed off some very cool technology for Google Maps designed to let you use your phone’s camera to navigate around town using Street View. If you waved your phone in front of you, you’d see the Street View version of what you’re seeing. If you needed directions, giant arrows — or even animated characters — could point you where to go next. It’s a lot like “Crazy Taxi,” but in the real world.

13. Google showed off some very cool technology for Google Maps designed to let you use your phone's camera to navigate around town using Street View. If you waved your phone in front of you, you'd see the Street View version of what you're seeing. If you needed directions, giant arrows — or even animated characters — could point you where to go next. It's a lot like

14. Google announced a cool new feature for its futuristic camera software, Google Lens. Now, if you point your phone’s camera at a book, you can highlight the text with your finger and copy it to your phone. Yes, really.

14. Google announced a cool new feature for its futuristic camera software, Google Lens. Now, if you point your phone's camera at a book, you can highlight the text with your finger and copy it to your phone. Yes, really.

15. Google Lens also has a new feature called Style Match. If you point your phone’s camera at an outfit — or accessories or furniture — Google can use its object-recognition and machine-learning prowess to help you buy that item online, and it can even show similar styles you might like.

15. Google Lens also has a new feature called Style Match. If you point your phone's camera at an outfit — or accessories or furniture — Google can use its object-recognition and machine-learning prowess to help you buy that item online, and it can even show similar styles you might like.

 

Resources:

https://www.businessinsider.com/google-io-announcements-highlights-2018-5

https://www.businessinsider.com/google-io-live-blog-updates-coverage-2018-5

https://markets.businessinsider.com/stocks/googl-stock

https://google.com

 

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