Growth Hacking Geniuses - Sandra Rand - Visual Summary

Sandra Rand

One thing that I thought was interesting for us to explore a little bit was video advertising on Facebook.

Right now, in the last year or so – actually, it’s been more than a year now – video has been the preferred ad type for Facebook. We’re capitalizing on this in a couple of different ways.

Right now, a lot of people are having a hard time developing video content – almost because they’re getting in their own way. This is sort of beneficial for us as an agency because we know that it actually is a very low barrier to entry in order to produce some video advertising pieces of content for Facebook.

A lot of people think that it takes the TV budget – high resources, high budget, really takes a lot of effort and resources in order to develop something that’s appropriate for Facebook – but, in actuality, there’s a lot of different ways that you can produce a video asset without breaking the bank.

We started out over a year ago developing GIFs and this was at a time where Facebook was pushing video for branding and then they started saying that, with a certain sequence, it could be done for direct response.

Now, my agency just does direct response. We only focus on user and customer acquisition for our clients. And so, that’s always been our focus. And so, we went out the door just testing video advertising with, you know, these really low barrier to entry GIFs. We didn’t want to spend a ton of money. We didn’t want our clients to spend a ton of money on these big branded five-minute videos that we didn’t know if they would move the needle at all.

So, we went out with these GIFs and actually killed it. They were absolutely destroying all of our other ad types – Carousel ads, link ads. It was actually pretty amazing. And so, we immediately started testing it across all the different industries that we served and the response was amazing. You know, we started developing these really sort of low-budget GIFs for a bunch of our different clients – just as a way of testing video – and it was crazy.

Fast forward a year plus and there’s the reason that virtually all of our eCommerce clients are running only video ads on Facebook. I’ll say that again – virtually all of our eCommerce clients are running only video ads on Facebook.

We have clients that are spending a million dollars a month on Facebook advertising and video ads is the only thing that they’re pushing. There’s a reason for that. Basically, because it’s Facebook’s preferred ad type right now, they are able to push video where others might be putting out link ads or your quintessential website link ads. They are pushing video ads because that’s what they see as engaging. That’s what they see people clicking on.

And so, there’s a couple of ways that you can test video with Facebook advertising. You don’t have to immediately spend a ton of money on a big budget production video and create essentially a TV commercial for Facebook advertising.

You can dip a toe in the water by testing Facebook’s slideshow video ad feature. Basically, you go in and it’s about as simple as developing a PowerPoint. You go in, you drop a couple of images in, you can add some overlays, you can add some music, and you create a slideshow. You can do that all within Facebook’s ads manager and you can just go out with a video advertising that way.

Before you test anything, before you spend a lot of money on a big budget TV commercial-type video asset, you can test the slideshow feature and see if that moves the needle for some of your video advertising. Then, you can move on to other things like creating a GIF. Any graphic designer or web designer should be able to create a GIF.

We did a thing for one of our clients where they sold a bunch of the same types of product in one color. And so, all we did was spliced the same images over and over again of the same product but we just changed the color over and over again so it looked like a GIF that was just one product staying in the center and it changed from red to green to blue to yellow. Any designer should be able to do that.

We also took existing video assets from some of our clients who did have, say, a Kickstarter video or they had a TV commercial but it wasn’t sort of by itself really appropriate for Facebook. What we could do is then splice it up into 15-second increments, 10-second increments, and test those as video ads. Just overlay a logo or overlay a call to action and see if that moves the needle at all. You can repurpose any existing video assets you have.

I do have one story about a client of ours that did a longform branding video for themselves. They didn’t have direct response in mind. They weren’t creating this video in order to drive sales of their product. Instead, they wanted to tell their story. This client has very similar to, like, Tom’s or Warby Parker – like, a buy one, donate one sort of thing going on – and so what they wanted to do was tell that story and really hit home what the mission is of the company. They built the company around this mission.

And so, they told the story in a 3.5-minute video. When they posted it on Facebook, they got a lot of organic engagement. There was a lot of people that sort of rallied behind the brand and they were really passionate about it. They found that people’s organic sharing of this video was far and away more than they ever expected and that was a huge signal to us of like, “Let’s put some money behind it. Let’s queue it up in Facebook ads and see if that moves the needle.”

It goes against every direct response best practice that we have – which is to keep things short and sweet, keep things under 30 seconds, make sure that there’s a call to action at the end. We said, “You know what? Throw caution to the wind. Let’s put some money behind this 3-minute branding video and see what happens.”

We did that and the ripple effect of people engaging with this video was driving sales more than anything we could have ever imagined. Even though the video was not like a low-budget asset, it was 3.5 minutes, it tugged on your heartstrings, it made you laugh, it made you feel for the mission of the company, and there was no direct call to action like, “Buy today! Buy now!” There was none of that yet we experienced all of those direct response benefits by engaging people on a really human emotion level. So, that was a really exciting client to work with because it went against everything we knew about direct response for video advertising.

Now, we’re sort of pushing our clients more towards that realm of let’s test things that aren’t typical. Let’s test things that are about your brand and not about direct response and let’s see if we can keep this momentum going. That was definitely something exciting to learn and then bestow across all the rest of our agencies.

Another advertisement that I’d like to talk about is one that was actually the complete opposite. For that example I just told you, it was a client that spent a hefty chunk of change on this branding video – this 3.5-minute branding video. On the flip side, we had a client that came in and they had never run Facebook advertising before. They wanted to test video advertising. At the time, Facebook didn’t have that slideshow effort and they didn’t even really have much in the way of graphic design resources internally.

What happened was the client took his cellphone out and he taped his toddler daughter talking about his product. What he did was he shot his daughter – who was one or two years old at the time – crying for more bacon. As it turned out, it was sort of like, “Don’t let this happen to you. Don’t let yourself run out of bacon.” He shot it with his cellphone in his kitchen. Same as the other story, when he put it up organically on Facebook, people were laughing and loving it and sharing it and engaging with this video asset. He was like, “Huh, there’s something here!”

So, we put some money behind it and – lo and behold – that was like a huge video that we ran for months. I mean, if it has momentum, let it keep going. You don’t have to turn off an ad just because you think it’s sort of run out of steam. You have to look at those metrics and see if it’s still killing it. If it’s still resonating with audiences, let it keep going. So, we did that as well for a client and he literally just took out his cellphone and shot his daughter crying for his product so that was kind of a cool story.

That can be sort of the easy part of running video advertising. You can make it what you want, but just test anything and everything and don’t worry about something being perfect. Don’t worry about your video ad being like TV quality. That’s definitely a lesson learned for advertisers that can’t get out of their own way and are afraid to run video advertising because it’s too hard or requires too many resources. It really doesn’t have to be that way at all.

In terms of video advertising, like I was saying, it’s Facebook’s preferred ad type right now. Obviously, we don’t know how the algorithm works internally within Facebook, but we know that, when we are competing for certain eyeballs and certain impressions, Facebook really prefers putting video in front of their audiences right now because that’s what people are engaging with. And so, we’ve been able to take that ball and run with it across all of our eCommerce clients and push video into their newsfeeds and even on Instagram because that’s what people are engaging with.

We’ve actually benefited from this because there’s sort of lower competition right now for video ad units. We’re able to get in there and lower costs by running video compared to Carousel ads or link ads because there’s more competition for those ad types. Those seem to be a lower barrier to entry for some advertisers but we find that video is really the place to get your most efficient ad spend and really drive sales up by.

In terms of segmenting your targeting, it’s funny – you know, we worked in this field for quite a long time. We work with direct response advertisers specific to Facebook for like four years now. There’s a lot of clients that come to us and they have an idea of who their audiences are. They use demographic information. They use your typical location, age, gender, all that sort of thing to sort of segment their audiences. But there’s literally hundreds of ways that you can slice and dice your audiences.

One of the best ways that we like to segment our audiences for the most relevance is to build lookalike audiences. A lot of our clients come to us and they have email lists or catalogue lists of thousands of people and, by uploading these lists to Facebook, Facebook then takes the information and matches it to people’s accounts and people’s profiles on Facebook.

Now, as an advertiser – full disclosure – we don’t see that information. We don’t see so and so in Wichita, Kansas is this person on Facebook. Like, we don’t get to see that data as an advertiser. Facebook does it on the back end. But, if we have address information, email information, phone information, you can upload that and create a custom audience on Facebook and then build lookalikes.

If you do a one percent lookalike, Facebook will give you one to ten percent to sort of match your audience – to find the audiences to the seed audience that you put up there. If you upload a list of your best customers, your high lifetime value customers or customers that have higher average order value or that are just most valuable to you, you can then build a one percent lookalike and Facebook will match that custom audience with the people that they have on the platform that most look like your custom audience and that most look like your more valuable audiences.

This is one of the first things that we do for a lot of our clients. It’s the best way to get in front of most relevant audiences first and foremost. And then, what you do is you take that one percent and then you can over-qualify them. So, segment them by your demographics – your location, maybe some interest targeting – you know, you just want people that like to travel or go on cruises or you want people that only buy luxury goods.

Facebook has these categories where they’ve been able to identify audiences that have certain purchasing power or certain purchasing behavior or they are searching for a new home or they just got married – all these different categories that you can sort of layer over your own custom audiences to really over-qualify these audiences and you’re more likely to find segments of people that drive your costs down because your advertising then becomes a lot more targeted to them. I think that that’s something that people miss. They sort of just scratch the surface with their targeting but there’s definitely hundreds of layers into targeting on Facebook advertising that involves both things you know about your audiences and things you don’t. It’s important to do any and all of it.

For a business that doesn’t have a lot of qualified clients, a list of a thousand or a few thousands or a few hundreds of people that they know are really good and they want to retarget, create a lookalike audience in Facebook; if they don’t have that already, do you recommend using video ads to figure out who their audience should be?

Yes, I mean, that’s a great way to sort of marry the things we know with the things we don’t. So, we know that video does really well and we know that video resonates and it’s engaging. But, if you’re looking for new audiences and you don’t have a place to start, that’s a good place to start. Particularly, what you’re going to want to do is sort of prime your audience. You can run video advertising and target people for video views.

Even if you have direct response metrics and goals in mind, you might want to start and prime your audience by putting out one video. And then, what you can do is retarget people that have watched 10 seconds, 30 seconds, a minute of that video. Retarget them with another video and then retarget them again with, then a call to action to sort of over-qualify them over the course of a couple of different steps. That’s a good way to sort of build a sequence.

You know, you may get a small audience, but you’ll start to understand the type of things that trigger people to click off and convert. And so, you can do that with video, definitely. You can also do that with Facebook has these partner categories that are sort of self-defined. Even if you might have an idea of your demographic but you don’t have a whole lot of characteristics to go off of, Facebook has hundreds and hundreds of categories in terms of, like I said, college educated, empty-nester, has kids that are teenagers, buys luxury goods, travels and goes on cruises specifically.

Facebook has done a really wonderful job building up these partner categories. And so, I think that’s also a great place to go to if you’re sort of starting from scratch.

Do you have any tips in terms of the actual video content? When you’re doing a video ad, do you prefer if it’s a selfie style, very authentic, raw video? Or is it better to have a planned-out video ad? What do you recommend?

I have to say it’s definitely in one of those “it depends” sort of answers.

There’s sort of a rule of thumb. If something is going to resonate organically, it’s going to resonate in advertising. That’s why, if you’re doing sort of the selfie style iPhone, very sort of low-budget video, if your product or your service can be translated that way and you feel good about the actual content, then there’s no problem running an advertisement that way if you’re just starting out and you want to check it out.

I think, also, if you need to sort of start somewhere, you can dip a toe into that slideshow format that I talked about and just sort of build. Like I said, it’s about as easy as building a PDF. You can plop in some imagery, add some text overlays, add a voiceover or any other sort of music file, and you can test that, too.

I do think, if you have the budget and you can go sort of big TV audience-style advertisement, why not? Try that, too. If you’ve invested some budget in something that’s longer – 3 minutes or 30 seconds or 90 seconds – slice it up into 10 seconds here, 30 seconds there, and just test anything and everything. Like I said before, we’ve been surprised at the performance of some videos. There were some videos that we thought were going to do absolutely amazing and they failed. You really have to test anything and everything to make sure you’ve sort of crossed off everything on your list to find the type of content that works for you and the type of video or ad type that works for your audience.

How many tests are you usually able or do you recommend clients to do within a week or within a sprint of a couple of weeks or a few weeks? Do you recommend doing a high volume of tests?

That depends on your budget, of course.

We have clients that are running a million dollars a month. They set aside 20 percent of their budget just for testing and they can do that sort of higher volume because they have a multitude of audiences to go after. Any given time, we’re running – it obviously depends on the client – we have clients that are very particular who they go after and they have maybe five audiences that they routinely target. Or we may have twenty audiences that we routinely target with two different ad types per audience – I don’t know.

It definitely depends on your budget. I think, if you’re working with a smaller budget, you’re going to want to be really judicious. Maybe find that audience that seems to always really engage with your advertising and test new creative against that high-performing audience – that way, you know the audience is high quality but you just want to see what sort of ad and make sure of the next.

Growth Hacking Geniuses - Arvell Craig - Visual Summary

Arvell Craig

How Did You Start?

I got into marketing and designing and a lot of things back in the late 90’s.

In college, I started messing around with websites. I studied computer science in school. But, before I got done, I was just watching how the internet was growing. I just got right into it. and so, I started out doing design and logos – kind of just straight local business stuff. Through the years, I’ve grown to understand the value.

At the beginning, I started out just doing stuff because it was a skill, it was a talent, it was fun. But, when you start to understand what people want, that a lot of the tools, a lot of the techniques, a lot of the cute stuff are just a means to an end, I learned to discover that people didn’t really care about the design. They wanted results. It was like, year after year, I’m always growing towards figuring out how to get people what they really want.

And so, starting off in Photoshop and then Dreamweaver and HTML. I’d see, over the years, as technology continues to grow, whatever is new, wherever people’s attention are, that’s kind of where I find myself learning and spending time – whatever it takes to get in front of people’s faces – in front of their attention.

How Do You Attract Leads?

There’s a couple of different ways. Depending on the project or the campaign, my bread and butter, the quickest, fastest, easiest way to get leads is going to be through email.

Again, the simplest way is going to be taking an existing database and either warming those leads up and getting them to re-engage existing leads into buying additional purchases. We can take those same leads and, again, depending on how we want to incentivize them, depending on
how you want to throw the pitch or the story, we can initiate some kind of referral or affiliate campaign whereby any of our existing customers or leads will be motivated to send our offer or send our product to somebody they know. If you can formulate the pitch in a certain way, they’re going to benefit from goodwill of sharing a really great offer with someone else.

Email is always the shortest, quickest, easiest way to get some new business in. but, other than that, I’ll do content marketing – whether it’s writing on my own blog or writing on Medium or different places where attention is and then directing the traffic to the site and then doing some lead form there. And then, I’ll do Facebook ads because that’s the hottest social media site right now so that’s always a way to get some new leads in.

What Are the Top 3 Qualities Growth Hackers Should Have?

The top three qualities that I find is valuable is – one – they have to be able to understand their customer. They have to be able to understand the motivations, the psychology, the fears and the desires of whoever they’re going after – whether it’s email, whether it’s paid traffic, whether it’s cold email, whether it’s Facebook, webinars, everything – it’s going to fall based upon understanding the motivations and the desires of who they’re targeting.

The second quality that I’ve learned or discovered in the past couple of years is really kind of more of a self-understanding – understanding your personal strength, your personal skill. There is this test called the Marketing DNA Test by this guy named Perry Marshall. It’s a phenomenal assessment for any person in sales or marketing to understand what is the greatest quality that you have that brings the greatest results for other people.

Whenever I’m working with someone or a business, I always want them to understand and assess their own strengths – their own marketing strengths – because that’s a long-term strategy. You can learn and watch a blog or take anybody else’s tactics for a couple of days or a couple of weeks or a couple of months. You can grind it out by being somebody that you’re not. But I find, if you can leverage your own strengths, you’ll get the greatest results.

And then, number three, a big quality I find in marketing – again, I’m a part of a couple of masterminds here locally and also online – just really
not being independent, not being solo, not being a lone ranger but finding ways to leverage the knowledge of other people live. Interacting one-on-one through a mastermind or maybe hiring a coach or a mentor, but always involving someone else in your game plan is going to be a great win for you.

Who Are Your Role Models for Growth Marketing?

My role models are Perry Marshall. I mentioned the Marketing DNA Test. He also wrote a great book called 80/20 Sales and Marketing. I’m a part of his community. I’ve been following him for years. He wrote the first biggest book on AdWords – I don’t know – ten years ago. So, he’s been around for a long time.

There’s another guy who to me is not as widely known because he’s not active on social media a lot but his name is Dean Jackson. He’s been around ten, fifteen, twenty years. He’s got some simple, very direct, phenomenal strategies. They’re simple and they work. So, Dean Jackson is somebody I love to follow.

And then, I would probably say Gary Vaynerchuk which a lot of people know of. I’ve been really following and listening to what he’s been saying lately and I love that he’s not just about hustle – he also gets into the self-awareness or kind of leveraging your strengths or knowing what makes a difference to you. But he’s great for practicality and for the motivation to grind and to hustle and to get results.

Those are my top three role models.

Which Tools Do You Use to Grow Your Business?

My favorite tools right now for hacking, marketing, growing, there’s a couple of them.

For conversion rate optimization, I like Instapage – that’s my favorite landing page builder that I’m using now that’s getting the best results for split testing landing pages. I use Active Campaign as my marketing automation email system of choice. It’s phenomenally simple and easy. I may have used InfusionSoft – I use that on another site. I use MailChimp. But Active Campaign – plus it’s got a CRM for managing leads and pipeline but for the price point and the features, there’s nothing that compares to it.

I also use Tout – not for my existing emails or my existing customers but Tout is great for cold leads for getting new customers if I want to get them through email. So, Tout at is that site. Those are, like, my favorite three – Instapage, Active Campaign, and Tout are my top three right now.

Growth Hacking Geniuses - Michel Koch - Visual Summary

Michel Koch

1. Can You Tell Us a Bit More About Your Business?

Time Inc. is a very well-known publisher – a leading consumer multi-platform publisher based in the US, leading in the US, but also has a branch in the UK which is the leader in terms of volume share with 23 percent volume share; leading also in terms of advertising with something like 33 percent market share; and with a reach of nearly half of the UK population.

We have 60-odd brands across print, web, mobile, tablet, and events. We reach 8.4 million users which is 17.7% reach of the UK internet population.

2. What Does Growth Hacking Mean for a Magazine Business?

That’s the interesting part, I think. You’re talking about a business of print magazines that has been declining for the last eight to nine years consistently across both newsstand and subscriptions as well as advertising. In many ways, advertising revenues going in a new direction now with more digital advertising than print advertising in terms of business. So, more and more of a shift towards digital. Obviously, magazines being print, they need to reinvent what they’re about.

So, I guess, growth hacking means for us looking at areas where we can grow outside of our traditional business. Rather than acquire new magazines or buy and sell more, it’s really about where else can our brands expand? How can we reach the same customers in different places? That’s really the exciting journey I’m on right now with looking at different ecosystems. But starting with one thing in mind, we’re about passion points with our stories and we can tell those stories in different places and we can go into adjacent markets such as events, eCommerce, marketplaces where the same customers are and where basically our brands can also stand for something.

3. What Are Your Thoughts on Growth Hacking or Growth Marketing?

As I’ve been on that journey for almost a year and a half now, I think the first thing is you need to be in a position where you can look at your business with a new fresh pair of eyes and challenge what you traditionally stand for.

Rather than saying, “We are a print magazine publisher,” we went back to our DNA and we thought, “What we do is actually tell stories.” Regardless of whether the stories are in text, on print, video, pictures, events, it doesn’t matter. It’s about storytelling. That’s what we’re good at and that’s what our brand stands for.

So, there’s an element of growth hacking that has to do with disrupting yourself and challenging your own business and thinking, “If we were to compete with ourselves, what would we do?” I guess you’re more creative when you’re trying to do that than when you’re trying to survive or trying to protect yourself. It’s about really attacking – hacking, in a way – your own business so that you can identify areas where you can move to. So, that’s one thing.

Another thing, I think, around growth hacking is speed. It’s about going fast – failing fast. Test, learn. A/B test all the time and not be afraid to fail in many ways because, otherwise, you just sit still and stand still and, therefore, do nothing.

That’s the key two things that come to my mind in terms of growth hacking – disrupt yourself and do it at pace.

What Are Your Top 3 Pieces of Advice for Growth Marketing?

As I said, if you want to be in a position where you can look at your business with a fresh pair of eyes, you need to think out of the box. The first thing is really there’s no bad idea. Interrogate your partners, your employees, everyone, and really start coming up with ideas that you would think maybe are crazy but actually they may make sense in a couple of years. So, test everything and think out of the box. That’s the first one.

The second one I think is thinking like a customer. Take the view of a customer. If you are passionate about cycling or equestrian or beauty and fashion – any given magazine brands stand for – what would you accept from that brand to tell you in terms of new stories? Would they be able to sell you anything? Think as a customer is the second one.

And then, as I said before, all ideas are okay. Generate ideas from inside the business. You know, there’s some really good people who are in your marketing teams, in your editorial teams, and they will come up with ideas and any idea is good. And then, it’s about having the arguments and the best argument wins.

What Are the Top 3 Mistakes to Avoid when Doing Growth Marketing?

I think the first one – and I see this repeatedly in businesses that want to move through digital, like retailers or catalog businesses that have gone through that transformation and change – it’s about working in silos – creating new silos and not collaborating.

The first mistake is thinking you can do that in isolation. We need the people who know about the business, who know about the brand, who need new skills as well; therefore, you really need to involve your own experts is the one thing. And so, work across metrics, work in  multifunctional teams, and create those new teams that are going to hack growth.

The second thing is it should not be just a top-down approach. Obviously, you need buy-in from top management but that energy and that speed and that envy around growth hacking has to come from the bottom up.

The third one is a lot of people say they want to hack growth and grow and start doing labs and things like that but usually there’s no fund attached. So, you need to fund it and properly. I would say dedicate 15 to 20 percent of your marketing budget to growth. It’s probably the minimum.

What Are Some Resources You Encourage People to Explore? Any Favourite Book?

Rather than books… Well, there’s one I like that I’ve just discovered. It’s called The Growth Director’s Secret. It’s pretty good. I’ve just started reading it and it’s about the connections between consumer behaviour, organization strategies, and boards and so forth. So, it’s joining the dots between all these things that are available. It’s a good read by Andrew Brent.

There’s another thing in terms of resource that is probably more important than any book – your network. I think reaching out to your network, working with LinkedIn, asking questions whenever you have one, that’s the best solution I think in terms of resources.

Another resource is your own common sense. I think these are some of the interesting areas. I’ve also recently listened to a book. I think reading books is great but, if you don’t have time to sit down and relax, when you’re traveling, I think listening to books is also great. I recently listened to a book called Zero to One – it’s about start-ups – from Peter Thiel and that’s really a good book as well. Really, really motivating and eye-opening in terms of how start-ups create themselves and how you can just create roads from zero to one, basically.