BLOG ARTICLE
October 9, 2018

Taking a share advice business to $1m+ annual turnover in less than a year

Equity Story has an awesome business. They provide share advice and tips to investors new to share trading, and it's all done via a membership site. Their service is amazing, but when we first met Trent he was struggling to get new customers. Trent had big plans, he just didn't know how to get there. We loved Equity Story's product - we knew with a smart advertising approach, we could get Equity Story into the millions. Within six months, based on our Cashflow Advertising and a lot of smarts from Trent and his team, we got Equity Story to an annual turnover in the $millions, and that doesn't even take into account the recurring revenue from monthly membership.

Trent and Dave are expanding their offering. They're gonna be offering higher level products. They'll be speaking at events, and all the while, their Advertising Machine will be running in the background keeping the sales ticking over, adding new members and growing revenue.

So how did we do it?

We built an Advertising Machine, one that gets smarter as you go. It uses data to improve performance and it feeds the Facebook and Google algorithm beasts.

1. Laser-targeting audiences

The first thing we did was to do our homework with Trent to work out the exact customer personas we wanted to attract. Then, we used laser targeting to find the right customers in Facebook and Google, but more importantly, we also fed the Facebook and Google algorithms. We fed them the data they needed to get smarter and to deliver better quality leads and at a better price.

We imported existing customers into Facebook, and then created look-alike audiences (LALs) where Facebook goes out and finds audiences similar to your customers. In Google Display, we didn't just target which website to display the ads on - we used Google's knowledge about their customers to layer this with people who are actually in-market for share advice.

What this means is if someone is chatting with their stockbroker in Gmail, or watching investment-focused videos on YouTube, or using a share monitoring app in Android, we target them in Google Display adverts - even when they aren't on stocks topic websites.

What does this mean for your business? It means the advertising networks have an incredibly rich source of information about your potential customers. By pulling the right levers, you can use this rich data to put your Advertising Machine into overdrive.

2. Create Compelling Offers

Secondly, we created compelling offers in advertising messages that were appropriate for their level of warmth, and we did it on the landing pages, as well as in the adverts. We matched the messages to the channels and to the stages in the buying cycle.

So, what's with the guy in the watermelon hat?

Has nothing to do with shares, right? In the Display Network where adverts are surrounded by boring content, we needed to grab attention and we did. Once we had their Attention, we made the message connect with what the audience wants at that point in time. Did we even mention a membership in the advert? No. We offered them top AXS picks - that's something Equity Story actually do deliver on in the membership.

3. Test the Channels

Thirdly, we tested different channels. We tried Facebook, Display, YouTube, Google Search, and we're playing with a few other networks as well. We track not just the Leads but also the Sales. This means we were able to look not just at the Cost Per Acquisition, but also the cost per sale by different channels. Within the channels, we could look at the performance of the different campaigns. This meant we were able to allocate budgets to the right channels and the right campaigns. And then pull the handles and turn the knobs to improve performance.

Finally, we fed all of this back into the Advertising Machine to test, compare, and improve. Over six months, we cut the cost per lead by a whopping 87%. Do you know what that means for the business? For exactly the same advertising budget, they are getting five times the leads. And because the leads are delivering sales, they can reinvest in more advertising, growing the advertising budget every month.

What does testing and improving look like in practice? It means the data on advertising performance is fed back into machine to gain improvements every single day. With careful adjustment of the levers, the machine improves, delivering more leads and sales for the same advertising budgets.

4. Only the strong survive

Firstly, we use conversion pixels from the advertising systems on Landing Pages and key events, like Free Trial opt-ins and Sales pages. And we feed this data back to the systems.

Secondly, we do optimise the advertising messaging and creative. How did we get to the watermelon guy and the headline "Today's Top AXS Picks"? Like Darwin's Evolution where only the strong survive. We tried lots of different messages and ideas. We tested them against each other to find the best performance, and then we moved on and did it again.

Thirdly, we don't just do the testing and advertising. We do it on the Landing Pages. That winning headline and copy is the evolution of improvements in the Landing Page over six months. So far we've tested:

  • different headlines
  • calls to action
  • Layouts
  • two-step forms
  • whether to include the phone number or not

and we haven't stopped.

We're currently testing a no-nonsense short version, which is looking like improving sign ups again by another 10 to 15%.

Fourth, we don't let the dropouts go to waste. We re-target visitors who don't sign up with re-marketing messages in Facebook and Display. These adverts follow the users around and are a cost-effective way to re-engage with people who are already in the right target market.

Once we have the initial leads captured, we work on funnel optimization to better convert to sales.

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