Let’s dig in and learn:
🤔 How to approach creative at each stage of the funnel
📲 Why you should make content specific to each platform
🔄 How to shake things up when they don’t seem to be working
Meet the content experts:
- Ryan Fisher is a Senior Growth Marketing Manager at Felix Gray, the eyewear company creating better eyewear for the digital world. His responsibilities include projections & forecasting, attribution & channel measurement, and all tactics related to individual channel management. His core marketing platforms by percent of total include Podcast, Facebook, Google, YouTube, Influencer, Affiliate, OTT.
- Bili Balogun is the founder and CEO of Tribe Beauty Box, a feel-good subscription box that celebrates empowering female-owned beauty brands in every bi-monthly shipment. The selection of products from indie- and female-owned brands is thoughtfully-curated with purpose and intent, focusing on quality over brand name and curation over hype. The company’s customer acquisition platforms include Youtube, affiliate marketing, email marketing, SMS Marketing and paid ads, via Facebook and IG ads.
- Molly Soloff is the head of brand marketing at Stix, a company bringing a peace of mind to your health journey, starting with direct-to-consumer pregnancy and ovulation tests. At Stix, education drives most of the company’s growth, including blog posts, social media and email campaigns, SMS, and partnerships.
How do you approach creative at each different stage of the funnel?
- Ryan: This has been something I’ve spent more time than ever thinking about the past few months. Historically, we’ve had sporadic bandwidth for new ad creatives so I’ve typically used what I had access to when I was launching new ads. With the addition of a Creative Director in the past year, we’ve taken huge strides toward more cohesive campaigns and elevated brand creative. Something that was missing the prior year was truly integrated campaigns. Without integrated brand creative, you’re expecting each individual piece of creative and channel to perform on a tracked direct response basis on a totally independent basis. For example, GDN probably goes a lot further if you’re retargeting with fully integrated creative ad units. At different stages in the funnel, a practice I’ve tried to implement is going back to some basics. Asking: Where is this person currency in their purchase journey? What action have they most recently taken? What action makes the most sense next? How do we serve an experience that is specific and simple to elicit that response. It’s marketing 101 stuff — serving the right message to the right audience at the right time. With the inherent complexity of all the growth tools at our disposal, it’s all too easy to lose sight of the basics. Or if you’re moving too quickly as is constantly demanded from growth marketers in startups. Know your audiences. Learn their objections. Know your funnel. Get clear about what logical action comes next. Then implement creative that directly counters their objections. On Facebook, a good top funnel audience could be engaged with or a video view campaign. These people have shown interest but haven’t clicked to shop. The action? We want them to click and shop. Try product photography, rave customer reviews, or language that inspires a click. Your landing page from here should be broad and introductory for the brand. Teach this audience how to shop and offer opportunities to engage in shopping activity. A mid funnel audience could be page view or site visitor at various ranges. The longer the day range (all site 15 vs 30 vs 60) the colder the audience. Visitors with shopping activity have indicated interest. Use this interest to serve relevant ads. DPA’s are easy if you have a variety of products. If DPA’s don’t make sense for you, segment creative by product lines and offer recommendations. The shopping may have dropped off because the customer was overwhelmed with options or was unsure which product was best for them. Recommend products or product lines based on their activity. Reinforce that recommendation on LP with popular products, testimonials, reaffirm value, clearly message warranties or guarantees. A bottom funnel audience could be anything from Add to Cart or lower. At this point, you should have a really good idea of what the customer is shopping for and how to counter objections. Recommend similar styles or products. Utilize pre-emptive chat functions. Capture email. Offer discounts. At this point in the funnel, you should pull out all the stops to drive this conversion. Returning site visitors convert something like 80% better than new users. The odds are in your favor and your focus should be to do whatever you can to not spend beyond this point to capture the conversion if at all possible. Purchase is the goal. Email capture is a fine alternative. In summary, your ads and landing pages should specifically counter the likely objections for a customer at their point in the journey or their shopping activity and should recommend further shopping opportunities based on their shopping interest.
- Bili: For cold prospecting, our creatives are focused on one of three verticals: Value, Product unboxing, and Customer Testimonials. We keep these 3 verticals in mind, when creating our content, because it covers the top 3 questions consumers ask themselves before purchasing from a new brand: Is this good value for my money? What can I expect in the box? What has been the experience of current and past subscribers, with this brand? For retargeting/re-engaging, we focus heavily on product added value, instead of discounts. This is always a free gift with purchase, which increases the total perceived and retail value the customer is receiving. Our AOV is $43, so we make sure the free gift with purchase is at least $20+, and costs us a maximum of $2, which gives us more budget to retarget the customer a few times over a 30 day-period.
- Molly: Education is immensely important to us for both acquisition and retention. At the top of the funnel, we are educating our consumers that there is a better option for pregnancy and ovulation tests, how to use them, and how they can help their health regardless of if they are trying to get pregnant. Near the bottom of the funnel, education keeps our base engaged with us as we continue to grow our product offerings.
How are you looking at creative differently depending on the platform you are on?
Biggest differences between some platforms?
- Ryan: I fully believe that integrated ad units will outperform individual, unique ad units. Customer journeys are not linear. We know they’ll be exposed to multiple touchpoints before purchase. From that standpoint, you should approach ads under the pretense that they appear cohesive to your brand or campaign but also that the ads feel native to the respective platform. If your ads don’t feel native, you’ve tipped your hand that it’s an ad before you’ve even started trying to sell. Think about the anti-ad culture of reddit. No one loves ads. Don’t make your ad feel so much like an ad. You’re serving content to an engaged audience. A rigid ad unit feels disruptive. A native piece of content that happens to be an ad will garner a far better reception (credit to Nik Sharma on this sentiment).
- Bili: IG stories are our highest converting ads, because we focus on unboxing videos, which immediately catch the eye, are scroll stoppers, and quickly show the value of the product. Our SMS and affiliate marketing creatives are very product focused and are very direct and clear product shots, with an exclusive time-sensitive discount, which incentivizes the customer to convert impulsively. Our email marketing creatives are heavily focused on tips and tricks, on how to use a product.
- Molly: In all social media assets, we think about how to stop you in your scroll. What colors, images, text, icons, movement can we use that will stop you from scrolling to the next image. On email and SMS, we are immensely interested in longform educational content (we call this approach “answering your most googled questions”). We see our value as a brand as our products, our education, and our community.
When things aren’t working, what are some of the bigger creative levers you like to test to improve results?
- Ryan: This is hugely dependent on the metrics that aren’t working! A CTR issue likely means the message isn’t compelling for that audience or perhaps not relevant. Test different copy or new visual storytelling. Test a different selling tactic. If the issues seem to be in the post click experience, audit your funnel. Is the landing page consistent with your ad creative? If they’re totally misaligned, then consider a landing page update that is more integrated to the ad messaging. Does the landing page have working links? That’s a simple one that takes some QC and could drastically impact performance. Is the landing page simplistic in the action you want the user to take? Too many choices can be a detriment. Not even CTA’s for the specific action can also help. I’m very interested in auto rules right now. I haven’t found a reliable way to leverage them quite yet but the idea of putting guard rails on ads to ensure optimized delivery is interesting to me. For instance, if your data suggests CPC is more positively correlated to CPA than any other metric, put some CPC rules on ads to turn off at certain times of the day to force Facebook to push spend to a different ad. If you’re short on bandwidth and leery about total trust in an algorithm, I love the idea of automating rules for daily optimizations. Then run a rule to turn those ads back on at midnight. Very cool in theory! Like a closed loop optimization circuit.
- Bili: When things aren’t working as expected, we run more testimonial creatives/social proof content to help create more trust and brand awareness.
- Molly: At Stix, we have an immensely scrappy approach to creative testing. If something is not working on any channel, we will find five new creative ideas and five tweaks to existing creative that we can make and put up in 24 hours. We believe that all data is good data and that the more we are testing creatively, the better it is for our brand and business. When we find what works with that scrappy approach, we will elevate it creatively. At this stage of our business, we cannot waste time without proof of concept.
How are you effectively getting enough content to scale your ad account profitably?
Are you creating multiple variations of the same creative?
- Ryan: There’s tons of options for this. Our Creative Director has been instrumental in generating integrated, elevated brand creative. That’s the ideal source for all campaign ads. The round this out, or outside of campaigns, leveraging influencers is a great option. If influencers are already a part of your mix, can’t go wrong with this. Something like could be a good move as a self serve option if you have someone with the bandwidth to manage it. You’ll likely have to stomach some upfront cost for integrated campaign creative. Develop that creative for longevity — with the mindset that raw assets should live beyond the campaign duration. If you have high quality raw assets, either your internal team can continue to iterate or someone like QuickFrame or Shuttlerock can supplement with animated or video iterations. Or, if you have the budget, there’s a few AI ad iteration tools you could onboard.
- Bili: We edit the same content, using different captions, descriptions, tones, fonts and illustrations, to different audiences. Each of these edits, give the content a different feel, when shown to the customer, although it is the same creative. In the beauty industry (as it should be across all industries) diversity is the norm, so having visible diversity in “selfie” type content, helps us scale profitably, while leveraging the various demographics we can reach, because of the diversity in looks.
- Molly: Yes! We run DCOs to test creative and structure them in two ways. First, we have DCOs that are 10 completely different ideas and want to see which direction is the most effective. The second is DCOs which are variations of the same theme. When we find what works, we invest time into elevating it creatively. But our goal is to get as much quality creative up and learn about our consumers as quickly as possible.
What’s one thing that has really worked for you, that you think is often overlooked when it comes to creative?
- Ryan: Staying ahead of the marketplace. The best thing you can do is keep a pulse on incumbent activity. In the Blue Light space, we see the same ads on repeat. It’s the story Felix Gray used to launch the blue light market in 2017. Screens are killing your eyes! Screens cause Digital Eye Strain! Blurry vision, headaches, trouble sleeping! And don’t forget the blue light pen. After 4 years, new players are replaying this story. To be a leader in the space, your challenge becomes defining the category. The truth? Blue Light is super important. Our bodies literally need it to regulate our sleep/wake cycle. The problem is actually that Blue Light at the wrong time is bad. Our bodies know that when it’s dark, it should secrete melatonin for sleep. When exposed to blue light at odd times, you’re disrupting this cycle. The other piece? Blue light on the spectrum has a long wavelength. Blue Light from the sun scatters the further away it lands from its source. When you’re 2 feet in front of the source and staring intensely, it’s pretty hard for your eyes. Learn your story. Find the opportunity to challenge the status quo. Continue to differentiate. Challenge your brand to become a category leader — not just in revenue but in category expertise and brand equity.
- Bili: When people think creatives, they think video and still image, but often forget about interactive quizzes. We use lead generation campaigns, through fun quizzes, to funnel very niche demographics in an email flow, which targets them with products and promotions related to the quiz they took.
- Molly: The combination of user generated content and longform testimonials. Consumers are not interested in what we can put together in a studio. They want to know what real people who really use our products experience. Our user generated images and stories almost always outperform any other asset.
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