Our new four-week experiment into landing pages, lead generation, and a fake business called Inboxly, is over.
As with our previous experiment, the guiding principle here was “fail and learn.”
Winning is great. But it’s a lot harder to learn from your successes than your failures.
In that spirit, let the learning begin.
How Our Ad Evolved
We started out with little more than an idea. We’d build a landing page for a service that didn’t exist, make Facebook ads promoting it, and try to get people to give us their email address.
We went from this:
With this second set of ads, we doubled our click-through rate.
By clarifying our value proposition to our customers, using punchier language, and getting a more powerful visual, we went from a 0.254% click-through rate to 0.524%. We also started generating real leads through our landing page.
Several came directly through the form ad we ran on Facebook, showing us that letting people get to our content directly through Facebook was an effective technique.
After looking at our Google Analytics, however, it’s clear that some of our site traffic originated on Facebook but didn’t go through the ad.
That’s something to watch out for in your own campaigns—make sure you’re looking at your site analytics to see what Facebook’s analytics might be missing. A user who types your website’s name into their omnibar after seeing your ad is just as much a potential customer as someone who clicks on your ad.
How We Got Qualified Leads For $2 A Pop
The leads we acquired through our Facebook form ad only cost us about $2 each.
With a (hypothetical) product operating on a subscription basis, that could be a lever for awesome revenue growth. Imagine if we charged $10 a month for personal use of Inboxly and presumed a customer lifetime of one year:
With each customer producing $120 in revenue over the course of a year and only costing us $2 to acquire, we’d be making $118 off each of them!
Here’s the basic method we used:
Our Facebook lead generation campaign produced some results that would be very encouraging were we to actually build Inboxly into a product.
How We Doubled Our Click-Through Rate To 0.524%… And Could Have Done Even Better
Looking back, however, we could have done even better and Inboxly could have a great future if we focused a little harder on targeting and designing our ads.
Some products are harder to target ads for than others. The way you target your ads has to emerge organically from your ideal buyer persona, which comes out of having a concrete understanding of who really wants your product. So if you don’t really know who’s the ideal user of your product, it’s going to be difficult to know who you should target your ads towards.
Our first campaign was targeted towards:
- People in their 20s-30s
- Who were interested in artificial intelligence trends, email marketing, and productivity
- Who lived in major U.S. cities
When we shifted to our new messaging, we targeted:
- People in their 20s-30s
- In several major countries — America, Canada, Estonia, Italy, India
- Who were interested in Tim Ferris, Neil Patel, Noah Kagan — writers and thinkers we thought aligned with our new value proposition
The first campaign was going to be expensive to produce on a wide scale. One of our ads actually didn’t deliver at all for several days. Our bid was simply set too low. That was when we realized that targeting people who “like” things like AI and email marketing in major cities like New York City and San Francisco was going to be really expensive if we wanted to take it seriously.
Our second campaign still didn’t focus tightly enough on an accessible, core demographic. One interesting trend that emerged was that we had a strong 2.8% click-through rate from people interested in Hubspot — it could have been a very fruitful direction to pursue fans and employees of other marketing/sales-driven organizations where email is a part of everyday life.
Of course, some of our targeting problem was simply due to Inboxly not being a real product 🙂 If we were to build it out, that ideal buyer persona is something that we would develop over time and refine in our ads.
We never nailed down a message that we were 100% onboard with for Inboxly. We went from somewhat boring, business-y copy to a more exciting, vibrant, proactive style—but we never bridged the gap between the two like we would have liked to.
The first ad set didn’t give people a convincing reason to get interested in trying the product. One of the great resources for fixing this kind of problem is the TED Talk “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” by Simon Sinek.
The author imagines a company’s marketing as a series of three concentric circles. The innermost circle represents “why” the product exists, the next is “how” it’s different, and the last is “what” the product actually does.
For Sinek, most businesses have problems with marketing because they focus on the “what” of their product does before the “how,” if they even get to the “why.” Our first ad was like this: it focused on the email automation aspect without actually making it something people should care about.
Apple, he says, does the opposite. They start with “why” they make products—because they believe in rebellion, fighting conformity, standing out, and being unique. The “how” is by making well-designed products. The “what” is computers, phones, monitors, MP3 players, and everything else Apple makes.
That, Sinek says, is how Apple was able to convince people to buy an MP3 player from a computer company when similar efforts by companies like Microsoft and Dell totally fell short. You don’t buy a computer from Apple, you buy the idea of rebellion. You buy into your own uniqueness.
Messaging is very tied into creative design, as you can see from the transition from “what” to “why” present even in our imagery.
We tried to move deeper into the “why” with our second ad set for Inboxly, but not having much related to businesses or offices in our second ad set’s imagery may still have left people confused. It also looked somewhat generic, though we tried to make it stand out with the text and download CTA embedded in the picture.
The improvements that we did see, however, gave us good reason to think that we were moving in the right direction.
The lesson we took here is to use both copy and imagery to drill into the actual emotion or feeling that you want people to associate with your product. You can tell them what it actually does later.
If we had to quickly summarize what we learned from this experiment it would be this:
Getting traction with your pre-product business is very possible to do with Facebook ads.
You may have to tweak your messaging, adjust your creatives, and try at it a little bit, but Facebook ads are a hugely powerful tool for kickstarting growth.
We had a good run, but we’re off now to look for the next amazing experiment we can go after!
What did you find helpful, what did you find not so helpful? How would you have run Inboxly and Inboxly’s ad campaign differently? What kind of messaging would you use? Let us know what you think in the comments below 🙂