Oh I bet you’ll agree:
Growing a startup is exciting.
You’re building a product that’s going to help people live a more fulfilled life; achieve goals, be more productive, grow a business or accomplish anything else they’ve set themselves to.
But it’s tough as h*ll too.
Take marketing for example.
There are so many channels to help you achieve growth: inbound, search, display, social and more.
But unless you have a team of people and decent money behind you, experimenting with all of them can be tricky.
Not to mention that achieving a good ROI even harder.
Lucky for you, we’re going to show you how to use one of them – Facebook Ads to boost your startup’s growth.
Note: We split this guide into 3 sections, each corresponding to a different stage of startup’s growth. This should help you discover new ideas to promote your product, regardless of at what stage it is now.
Stage 1: Idea
It’s actually quite scary:
A typical startup’s odds for success are very low.
According to various sources, as many as 90% of startups fail.
And the no.1 reason for that is making a product no one wants.
After interviewing 101 failed startups, CB insights discovered that 42% cite a lack of market need for their product as the key reason for their demise.
(Image courtesy of Fortune.com)
But does that mean you should throw the towel?
Of course not!
It does however suggest that:
Early on, you should focus all your efforts on gaining customer feedback and achieving product-market match than gaining new users.
You need to discover if your solution truly resolves customer problems. Establish early on if there aren’t better ways to help them. And check if your product needs a different approach to match the market demand.
Otherwise you’re risking releasing a product no one needs.
And Facebook Ads are one of the most effective platforms to achieve it.
To most people Facebook Ads are an acquisition channel.
In reality though, they are one of the best customer research tools available.
And here’s how to use them for that purpose:
Use Facebook Ads to Test If Your Idea Resonates with Users
This strategy is quite simple:
You want to see if your idea attracts potential users and thus, if they have the problem you’re trying to solve.
Here’s how to do it.
Step 1. Create a landing page with one option only – sign up for a private beta invite.
Step 2. Launch a series of Facebook Ads focusing on the key problem you’re trying to solve. Use Interests targeting to ensure you’re reaching out the people who potentially have the problem you’re trying to solve.
Step 3. Monitor your ads’ click-through rate (CTR) and landing page conversions. This should give you an indication how appealing your idea is to the audience.
If users ignore the ad, it might suggest that they don’t find it something of value. If they click the ad but don’t convert, it might suggest that your value proposition is weak but idea is attractive.
Use Facebook Ads to Understand the Audience
Once you establish if customers have the problem you’re solving, it’s time to learn more about them.
To do so, start split testing and segmenting the audience to better understand your ideal customers.
There’s a major benefit of running Facebook ads:
There is no limit to how much you can segment an audience.
If you wanted, you could run the same ad to hundreds of different demographic and psychographic audiences. And then use conversion tracking to see which ones convert at the highest rate.
Here are the ways you could segment people by:
- Demographics: Segmenting the audience by gender and age range.
- Location: Selecting an audience based on where they are.
- Connections on Facebook: You can also target or exclude current Facebook fans.
- Interests:You can also target people activities and things they liked or followed on the social network.
Using this method will help you very quickly verify who your best audience might be.
Stage 2: Launch
I’m sure you’ll agree:
Your product isn’t for everyone.
You’ve built it for a specific audience, the very people you identified to have a problem you’re trying to solve.
And in the Launch stage – those few weeks surrounding the cutting of the ribbon, you need to focus on letting them know about your solution.
But here’s the challenge:
An average person is exposed to approximately 300-700 marketing messages a day.
It’s no surprise that only 8% of Internet users account for 85% of online ad clicks (source). The rest just ignores that marketing noise.
So what’s the only way that could help overcome the clutter and reach the ideal audience?
One word answer – targeting
Targeted ads are, on average, twice as effective as their non-targeted counterparts (source).
That’s because these ads reduce what advertisers call a “wasted advertising” – promoting a product or service to people who are unlikely to buy.
Advertising your solution to the right people:
- Increases the chances of exposure,
- Increase click-through rate (CTR),
- Lowers your advertising costs and,
- Delivers a greater ROI.
Here are some ways to target the right audience on Facebook:
Use Custom Audiences to reach out to your network and subscribers
You probably already know it:
Custom Audiences is a powerful feature that lets you can create a list of target prospects based on their emails, Facebook IDs or phone numbers.
And you can use it to laser-focus your targeting.
Use Linkedin connections to find early adopters
If you’re like most startup owners, you probably already have a quite extensive Linkedin network. These people already know and trust you. What’s more, thy might already have an interest in what you’re doing.
So create a custom audience based on your Linkedin contacts emails (you can export them directly from the network) and target them with an ad.
But remember, these people already know you. Therefore instead of displaying a generic creative, target them with a personalized message. Include your name and picture and try to intrigue your audience.
Use Lookalike Audiences to find relevant users
Custom Audiences have a major limitation:
They allow advertising only to users you already know.
But what about people who’ve never heard of your brand before?
That’s where Lookalike Audiences come in.
Lookalike Audiences allow you to create lists of people based on characteristics of your current connections.
You could target new users by:
- Similarity. By using this option you can reach users who most closely match your current connections.
- Reach. This option uses a lower similarity level and as a result, can find more people but they only loosely match your connections. As a result, this method is ideal if you’re interested more in brand exposure than increasing conversions.
Here’s how to use it to find new potential users:
Step 1. Create a Custom Audience based on your current users.
Step 2. Generate Lookalike Audience based on that Custom Audience.
TIP: In the Launch stage, I would suggest to optimize Lookalike Audience for Similarity. This way you’ll ensure that new users will be as similar as possible to your current users.
Use “Custom Audience from Your Website” option to retarget website visitors
The majority of your website visitors won’t convert on a first visit.
But, according to Wishpond, 26% of them might come back to sign up if you retarget them.
That’s what “Custom Audience from your Website” option helps you achieve.
Simply insert a tracking pixel on your website and create targeted audiences based on pages a user viewed on your site.
TIP: Since you want to target only the most relevant users, set up the pixel to target only those people who visited key pages on your site – pricing or signup but did not complete the signup process.
Stage 3: Growth
I’m sure you’ll agree:
Achieving scale is every startup’s greatest challenge.
At this stage you have achieved a product – market fit. You know your product works and you have attracted a decent user base.
It’s time now to propel growth and start scaling up quickly.
And here’s how to use Facebook Ads to achieve it:
Use Facebook Ads for Lead Generation
In his killer guide to lead generation with Facebook Ads, Massimo defined this marketing strategy as “the generation of consumer interest”.
It’s a cost efficient way to build brand awareness and loyalty.
And it works:
Customers attracted with lead generation tend to have a much longer Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).
Here’s what you’ll need to use Facebook Ads to generate leads for your startup:
- A lead magnet – Something your potential customers would find valuable. This could be an eBook, tool, template, email course or anything else they are willing to download.
- A landing Page where users could fill the form and download the resource. It should be easy to use, with a clear call to action marking what you want the user to do.
- Traffic. And that’s where Facebook Ads come in:
Insert a conversion-tracking pixel to the page users will see after completing a form. The design you ad and display it to the right audience.
Massimo wrote a great guide to the entire process here.
Reactivate Old Users
You’ve probably gained a solid number of early users – private beta invitees, first signups and many others.
And you’ve probably lost a lot of them along the way.
They may have felt that your product wasn’t for them. They lost interest, moved jobs and didn’t need your solution anymore.
Or simply forgot about it.
But if those users were interested in your app in its early days, chances are they might still find it useful. And you could use Custom Audiences to remind them of your product.
Create a Custom Audience from all early stage users and target them with apps aimed at reactivating them. Remind them of the problem you’re solving and attract them to the app again.
Do you promote your startup on Facebook? Do you use any other strategies to raise product awareness and attract new users? Tell us about that in the comments.