Most businesses build websites to promote their offerings, but for my guest this week, websites are his business.
Anthony Sarandrea is the Founder and CEO of SiteFlood.com and a serial entrepreneur who has successfully built and monetized a portfolio of websites without ever raising outside funds. His secret? Rock solid SEO, user-centric content, and an aggressively optimized Facebook ads strategy.
In this episode, Anthony shares with me how he used this strategy to grow pocketyourdollars.com from zero to over $1 million in less than a year.
Listen to the episode here, or read the transcript (below), to learn more about Anthony's process.
Here’s what Anthony and I discussed on this week’s show:
Kathleen Booth (host): Hi! My name is Kathleen Booth, and you are listening to the Inbound Success Podcast. Today my guest is Anthony Sarandrea, and he is the CEO and founder of SiteFlood. I am so excited to have him here today because he is one of Inc. magazine's top branding and marketing experts to look out for in 2017, as well as Entrepreneur magazine's Five Marketing Trends Business Owners You Should Know in 2016. So, lots of recognition from top marketing publications, top business publications, and Anthony was actually recommended to me by another guest, and I was fascinated to read his bio. I'm going to actually let him tell you a little bit more about himself, so welcome, Anthony, and tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.
Anthony Sarandrea (guest): Thanks, Kathleen. Excited to be here. I run a full-service digital marketing agency, and we specialize in inbound marketing, SEO, and paid ads as well, too. What makes us a little different is, the same people that are working on clients' work also work on my internal brands and internal sites, so they manage my ad dollars, out-of-pockets, they're creating the content for my SEO sites that I actually own with partners of mine as well, too, and work to monetize and drive traffic to the sites, things like that. So, we put the same resources to work for our in brands as we do as clients as well.
Kathleen: And can you talk a little bit about all of the different properties you own? Because one of the things that I think is interesting about you, as opposed to some of the other guests I've had ... I've had people that are agency people, and I've had people that that are in-house marketers, but not many that cross over. As you alluded to just now, you do a lot of work for clients, but you actually have an extremely robust marketing and advertising program for quite a few web properties that you own.
Anthony: This is correct. Thank you for saying that. We own sites in anywhere from the health niche, so secretmenus.com, to the financial niche, which I think is what we wanted to talk about today, which are basically helping people get out of debt, fix their credit. Student loan debt is a huge problem in our country, and it's something we sought out to do with Student Wallet or Scholarships For Students, as well as finding ways to help take people down the buyer's journey. You know, we can dive a little bit deeper there, but I think today, specifically, I'd love to talk about how pocketyourdollars.com is one of our good properties in the financial space that has a great branding community, that drives a lot of inbound success, so would be happy to touch on that more.
Kathleen: Tell me a little bit about that site, and who the audience is, and what the objective is there.
Anthony:Great, great questions. So, pocketyourdollars.com. I think a lot of companies start with what you're selling and then work backwards, or vice versa, and we like to work backwards. So, at the end of the day, is we're connecting people to providers that can help with debt consolidation, debt settlement, or credit repair, which at its surface isn't very sexy, for lack of a better word. So what we did is we worked backwards, and we said, "Okay, well, how can we help these people start saving money today and educating them down the sales cycle?" A lot of content that gets put out today is, "Okay, what is debt consolidation? What is debt settlement?" We asked, how can we get even deeper in that audience or deeper in that individual? Today we provide weekly shopping lists for individuals, so, how they can save money when they go to the store, so, when they're going to Target or something like that, or Walmart, what deals are going on. And what we found is, by gaining that trust, and by driving people to literally bookmark the site for Target's deals for the week, and they get on our email lists, and we start nurturing them and teaching them about finances as a whole, we're able to take them down the buyer's journey of eventually speaking, one day, to a debt consolidation company, and actually signing up for a service. And I think the reason we've had such success with that site in particular, which is less than a year old, and it's already a seven-figure business, is because we've been able to be more integrated and educate them more than just, "Hey, we're a debt consolidation company. Come work with us." I think you see a lot of push marketing that's out there today, a lot of pushed content.
Kathleen:I just want to pause there. You're less than a year old, and you are a seven-figure business.
Kathleen:That's amazing and really impressive. And to take a step back for a sec, one of the things that I think is really interesting, at least my perception, is that you come at business the opposite way, maybe, from the way most entrepreneurs come to it. I feel like most entrepreneurs have a business idea, and then they create the plan around that idea, and then the website is a part of that plan. And it almost sounds like you're the type of entrepreneur for whom you recognize that the website if it's done well, and the marketing, if it's done well, can essentially be the business idea, and then you just focus that around specific niches and kill it. Is that accurate?
Anthony:Yeah, I think so. My background's in sales originally, and marketing, and I learned early on just how much noise there is out there from salesmen, and cold calls, and all this, and even if you take it online, how much content is out there now. People are bombarded with what they get and what they get in front of them, and I think early on, I didn't learn it on my own, but was directed to learn that, the more you can help people accomplish what is really important to them, and what's important to them today, the more you can gain their trust, and you can eventually continue to be with them for the rest of their life in whatever that niche or that vertical is. So, that's kind of where you get the idea, as far as working backwards, we say, okay, how can we help these people today, relevant to what we want tomorrow?
Kathleen:I love that. And it really reminds me of ... I don't know if you're familiar with Marcus Sheridan. He owns The Sales Lion, and I've heard him speak a couple times, and he always says that we're actually all in the same business.
Kathleen:Whether you're McDonald's, or you're Deloitte and Touche, or you're Boeing, we're all selling the same thing. Essentially, we're selling trust, and if you don't have trust, nobody's going to buy from you, and so what you're saying is really in line with that, that you first have to build trust, and once you have that, it's almost like you could sell somebody anything.
Anthony:Yeah. It's true, and I think it's becoming increasingly more difficult, depending on how you look at it, to gain trust today because people's time, like we talked about, that's the currency for most people. I mean, obviously dollars or whatever country is their currency, but their time is really a valuable currency that people don't even realize that they're spending and you're acquiring, so, even if by grabbing someone's time, let's just take, on a website, pertinent to our conversation, they've invested in you. They've bought from you in some way with their time. So, looking at time as a currency before dollars, or before actual money or revenue in the door, I think, is how we're able to get deep-rooted into that trust, like you mentioned.
Kathleen:I couldn't agree more. I think these days, content creation has become sort of commoditized, and so there's a lot of information out there, and it's a buyer's market in the sense that visitors to websites have a lot of other options. And so if you're not delivering, and delivering really quickly, and really easily and painlessly, then we have so many other places we can go, so that makes a lot of sense what you're saying.
Let's talk a little bit more, let's go back to the specific business that you were talking about earlier. So you were looking to target people who wanted to get out of debt, and this started less than a year ago?
Kathleen:What did you do? Start from day zero. You created a site. Did you have a strategy? How did you first start reaching out to that audience?
Anthony:Great question. I think it started with looking at market potential, and what we were passionate about. So I was passionate about helping students get out of debt, and seeing the debt crisis in America. Not just student debt, but credit card debt, and all other types of debt.
When we sought out to go into this market, we realized just how massive it was, and how it's been an increasing problem year to year. The growth in specifically credit card debt, every year has risen, for 20 plus years at this point. And I could get into an hour of talking about how big of an issue that is. But just seeing the market potential out there, and then the opportunity to actually make a social impact, I think is what really drives most people and what drives businesses to be wildly successful and profitable, is not going out to say where can I make the most money, but where can I make the biggest impact, and then a by-product of that is you help a ton of people, you can make a ton of money or you can touch a ton of lives, whatever that is.
So specific to marketing, we looked at the market potential, market size out there. I love taboo, ugly markets too, you know what I mean, that people want to stay away from. I love non-sexy markets because then they tend to be less crowded for lack of better words.
Kathleen:And there's so much potential to innovate, usually, too, because generally, those are the markets where everyone ... that's where they've been doing the same thing the same way for ever.
Anthony:Exactly. So it checked both of those boxes, and how we got into it was exactly how I mentioned. We started off day one, running Facebook ads, video ads on how to save money at target. And what we would do from there is we would then retarget or we would custom audience, individuals based on the length of time they watched the actual video itself, within Facebook. And then we just started an email funnel, started segmenting them differently based on how engaged they were with our content.
Kathleen:When you initially put up those video ads, I assume there was some kind of initial target that you were going after? How did you focus that?
Anthony:Great question. So when we launched Facebook campaign, I think a struggle with a lot of people with Facebook is they get really, really detailed, and Facebook doesn't like that. So if I'm an ice cream shop in Scottsville Arizona, a lot of people will start targeting a two-mile radius around the place.
You have to like ice cream, it has to be parents and grandparents, and your audience size will be like 100 people, and Facebook doesn't like that. So Facebook loves big audiences, and Facebook even a million person audience is considered smaller or right where you want to be.
So in that same example, we'd start with just targeting Scottsville, and we would maybe even just start with some age things. So people, parents that are maybe 45 and up, so it's gonna be grandparents and parents.
And then we make sure we set the pixel correctly for tracking abilities, and then we let Facebook figure it out, when they start saying out of this million plus size of people in Scottsville, who are the best people that are engaging with your content, or whatever the actual ... for us, it's engaging in a phone call or downloading or clicking on something on the actual page that we're driving people to.
But Facebook starts to find those conversion points and then starts to optimize their own ad. So for the debt example, specifically, it targeted nationwide, and it was just people that liked Dave Ramsay for starters. So Dave Ramsay, and then Christians as well too, so we said let's find Christians because debt is something big in the bible to get out of, and it's good for religious people. I'm Catholic, I'm Christian myself too, and that was it. That was really all our targeting, was nationwide.
Kathleen:That is so interesting. I would never have thought about that as a targeting factor. I love that you went after people who like Dave Ramsay because obviously, that's just identifying that somebody else has an audience and that that's the right audience for you. So can you piggy back on it.
So you created the content first, and you started with these videos about how to save money at Target. Did you produce those videos in-house, or do you outsource that?
Anthony:Yeah, outsource it. It's a simple Fiverr video. We put together the script, what we wanted it to look like, and walked it through on a whiteboard. And of course, now the production value's a little bit higher. But initially, that was it. It was a $5 Fiverr video, we put together the script and we were up and running in a day.
Kathleen:I love that. So that's takeaway number one, which we'll come back to. But I think that one of the biggest myths people buy into is that you need to have a large budget to do video. This is a great example of how you've got to be scrappy and for anybody who hasn't heard of Fiverr, it's a fantastic outsourcing platform for all kinds of things. And in this case, you used it for video.
Anthony:We also had one of our content writers in the office literally do a screen share. She was on Camtasia or whatever it was, like a Zoom meeting, and it was recording her screen. It was a "Here's the target site, here's the biggest deals" little two-minute video and it was out. Even easier than hiring someone, you can literally do it in the next five minutes and download that.
Kathleen:Yeah, just capture your screen, I love that.
Anthony:Screen capture, yep.
Kathleen:And that goes back to a point that I really believe strongly, which is that the best marketing isn't always the most slickly produced stuff. If you look on YouTube, some of the most viral videos are things that people did on their cellphones. It's like the baby singing in the backseat of the car, or the cat doing something funny. It isn't about production value, it's about authenticity and it's about sharing really useful information.
Anthony:Well I think it goes back to what you said, it's trust. High production value might seem like a big corporation, where the girl in the office just sharing her screen and stumbling over her words, it's like, that's me. That's how I am every day.
Kathleen: That's great. The video was produced, you decided to do the Facebook ads, did upload the video natively to Facebook? Instead of posting it somewhere else. That's something big for anybody who hasn't done Facebook video advertising, I know my experience has been - and I'd be interested to hear your feedback on this - that Facebook really rewards video that is uploaded directly to it, as opposed to if you post something on YouTube and then share the link. It doesn't like sending people off of Facebook, which makes all the sense in the world when you think about it.
Anthony:Well it's powerful too in the sense that, by doing that, you can track percent, or I should say you can bucket audiences based on how engaged they were with the video. So if they watched a certain percentage, you can bucket them differently into a re-targeting list or into another, then a campaign.
Kathleen:Now when you first began, you said that you were really doing nationwide targeting. I assume the audience was fairly large. What kind of budget did you start with?
Anthony:It was huge. We started with $300 a day. Now we're up to about $15,000 a day.
Kathleen:15 thousand dollars a day?
Kathleen:And ... obviously, to go from $300 to $15,000 a day, I assume number one, you're watching it closely and you know it's working, because you wouldn't be pouring money in if you didn't think that.
And two, that you're somehow adjusting on a regular cadence. Can you talk a little bit more about ... especially in the beginning, I'd love to know, when you first started, how often did you look at it? How often were you in there, tweaking things? Did you A/B test? From a very tactical standpoint, how did you set this thing up, and how do you monitor it?
Anthony:Great question. We use a platform called AdEspresso, that you're familiar with, right? It allows for us to split test a lot of variations very quickly. So I don't think we did more than three or four different ... tones of the ads, if you will. Like "get excited about these deals", versus, "you need these deals or you're gonna die." Not literally, but you know what I mean?
Kathleen:A, B, C and D testing.
Anthony:Right, exactly. What I like about AdEspresso is you get a cap. So for us, we had CPA caps, and what that meant was we were willing to pay a certain amount for a certain action.
So for us, initially, it was for people to actually click through to Target's site. So it meant that they were actually more engaged. Even though we didn't monetize that, or we didn't get paid on that. For us that was an engaged viewer. They read our shopping list and they clicked through to Target's site. Or they downloaded I think it was Target's app or it might have been Wal-mart's app. Whatever it was, we were tracking those and we had a certain threshold where after it crossed, let's say we were willing to pay $10 for every click through to Target. After it crossed $30 and there wasn't any clicks, shut that ad set off. So shut that little segment off.
So a lot of it was actually working, I don't want to say in the background, but there was a ton of set up with it. And then by setting up these rules within AdEspresso, a lot of those were able to just, I don't want to say run in the background like it was super easy to do, and just set it and forget it by any means. But we were watching hour to hour, to answer your question, and still are. I think the second half of your question, or what might be coming is, what do we do now? We're always moving towards localized audiences, as much as we can.
So a look-alike of the highest intent. So for us now, today, the highest intent is someone who's spoken to someone from one of our debt consolidation partners, for 10 plus minutes. So if you've talked for 10 minutes plus, we now have your phone number uploaded to custom audience and now you're a look-alike, a one per cent of anyone who's talked for 10 minutes plus.
So those are the highest quality individuals, and we're just running a one per cent look alike to those individual ad sets.
Kathleen:How are you tracking that?
Anthony:Great question. We run mobile-only traffic on Facebook, and the second someone clicks to call, it fires the pixel that that individual clicked to call. As far as the 10-minute length, so we use CallRail, there's a ton of call tracking software as well.
But basically we just do an export monthly, and it may even have it now that the APIs talk to each other, but it's to stay less technical if you were just starting off. We literally export calls, filtered by anything over 10 minutes, upload that into Facebook, and then we run for that look alike.
Kathleen:So you have to have at least a decent CRM that is capable of tracking call duration?
Anthony:If you were gonna do it how I just said, yeah. So CallRail is super affordable, I think we do like 2,000 calls a day and I don't think our CallRail bill is anything massive, relatively speaking I should say.
Kathleen:What do you think, if you didn't have that sophisticated of a system, and you had a basic marketing automation platform, a CRM, you could probably ... and if you were channeling calls into reps who were manually recording that, you could probably just accomplish the same thing by having a list that you added highly engaged callers to. And it would maybe update less frequently to your Facebook campaign, but it would accomplish the same thing, essentially.
Anthony:A list absolutely, and even easier would be setting the Facebook pixel to fire when someone actually clicks the click to call button. So you could accomplish relatively similar results. We're just trying to get as granular we can, as everyone should eventually. But even early on, we were just tracking if someone clicked the click to call button, it was how we identified those people differently on Facebook.
Kathleen:Now you are running these ads, and you're actually trying to direct the person that sees the ad to one of your partners, not necessarily to your own company, correct?
Anthony:Great question. So they do come to our own company. Think of us as like a ... what's a good example? Like a ... like a news source. I want to say like a Forbes, but obviously not anywhere near that.
If you've heard of Nerdwallet, we're like a mini version of that right now. One day we'll buy that dot com and we'll be the Nerdwallet of the industry where people will reference us, hopefully. But we're really just a financial resource right now.
And we come in as very educational, and I think almost any company can do that for themselves. And today, yes, we send to partners, after they come to our site. So the ad comes to us, they get into our network, we grow trust, we mature them, and then when they hit a call, we then send them to our partner.
But they're still ours, they're still our customer and we're still monetizing them in other ways. So they're talking to partner A, but we're still going to market them after they've talked to partner A, they're gonna talk to partner B, C and D. And very quickly, within the next year, we will be partner A, B, and C, we'll be our own. So we'll do our actual fulfillment ourselves too.
Kathleen:Got it. Now when somebody clicks and calls, do they then get entered into any kind of a nurturing sequence? And if so, what does that look like?
Anthony:Great question. So when someone actually clicks to call, a couple of things happen. So most of these people are filling out a form before they're calling, as well. So we're capturing through a form fill to schedule time to talk with someone. That way we have their email address as well, too.
Kathleen:Sorry to interrupt you, but is that form being filled out on Facebook?
Anthony:Sometimes. So sometimes in lead ads, I'd say probably about 25% of our budget is through lead ads.
Kathleen:Okay, so we'll come back to that, because I know that's a topic that you have a lot of feelings about, and I have a lot of questions about. So they fill out a form, they call ...
Anthony:So they fill out the form and what actually happens is we have a system that automatically dials them right away, and says hey, someone who's ready to speak about your debt is ready to talk, press one to talk with them.
They hit one, then they're connected, the other person's phone rings, and then each of them is talking. They don't, and they're getting a text message automation sequence to get them to get on the phone. So we have an in-house machine running an AI platform that actually will text them and say, hey we just gave you a call, are you free to talk in 5 minutes?
And you might respond back and say, no. And the system will automatically say okay, well when is a good time? And you might say, lunchtime. And the system will automatically reply, like a mini-chat.
Kathleen:Like a chatbot, essentially?
Anthony:It's a chatbot, exactly, it's a chatbot for text. Exactly. And it's moving them to actually make an action to call. But to answer your question, after they talk to partner A, most of the time it's for people in credit card debt, so it's to talk to someone about how to get out of credit card debt.
The nurturing sequence from there is to get them to, in our flow, is to credit repair. So now that you're getting your debt handled, how can we also fix your credit, and then from there, do you also have other types of debt, do you have a student loan, can we re-finance your mortgage, and that's on a number of ways.
That's on the content they're seeing on the site, in their email and then on their Facebook as well, and Google Display artwork is also going to lead to that.
Kathleen:Now do you have a marketing automation system that you're using for this? And is it off the shelf, or did you build it for yourselves?
Anthony:No we didn't build it for ourselves, it's off the shelf. We use InfusionSoft, we've used MailChimp and it accomplishes a lot of what we need from an e-mail perspective.
Kathleen:Yeah, MailChimp has come a long way.
Anthony:Yeah, they have, and a lot of times they have a lot fewer bells and whistles than InfusionSoft, and I think people can digest it a lot easier, depending on what it is.
Kathleen:Now what about CRM, what are you using there?
Kathleen: That's interesting that you use HubSpot and you're using InfusionSoft.
Anthony:Yeah, and I could be misspeaking depending on which site is using what, but I think pocketyourdollars may just be using Infusion Soft.
Kathleen:I was gonna say that's the first time I've ever heard that mix.
Anthony:Right when you said it I thought that didn't sound right.
Kathleen:You do have a lot of different web properties so I'm sure there's a lot to keep track of there. Alright, so let's go back to Facebook now.
You've mentioned lead ads, and it was so funny because, for anyone listening, Anthony and I spoke before this interviews, and this came up briefly in our conversation and he was saying, oh, lots of people don't like lead ads, but I've had great luck with them.
And I know I have a few clients who have tested it out and haven't had a lot of luck, which is not to say they don't work, and so I'm really interested to hear what your experience has been, what you think works, what doesn't and how people should think about using them.
Anthony:Great question. Yeah I love them. I love them, and I love when people say they don't work, like I was telling you, because it makes it a lot less competitive, which is great.
So I love when I hear at these conferences, "don't use lead ads." I'm like "yeah, lessen the competition" even though I'm in the background like "yeah, I'm using them." So anyway, to answer your question, what I love about them is ... so how we use them and just going back to stay on topic to our example is, someone will view a video on shopping lists at Target, let's say something like that.
Then they'll get bucketed depending on how much they engage with that ad. They'll get bucketed to another retargeting sequence, where the lead ad will actually target those individuals and, say we've got a full-on program built up that helps you walk through your finances, how to save money today, how to repair your credit score on your home, how to get out of debt on your home, tips you can do, apps you can download, all that stuff.
And that program actually started off selling. And we were selling it, let's just say, I know you asked for hard numbers, roughly we're selling at 30 bucks, or we were selling it at $50 but it was $30 to drive that sale. And it's an e-book, is really what it was.
And we said, "why don't we give it away for free?" So what we did is, we started giving it away for free, and we're getting these e-book downloads at a dollar, $1.50, $2 a pop, each one. And that e-book, really what it is, is it's a glorified sales letter. It helps people, I don't want to say that it doesn't help people.
But it's moving them further down the sales cycle. So they're reading how to get, how to fix their credit on their own, and by the time they get through that, they go like, "holy crap, I need to talk to a company. This is way too much work."
And what it did is it really just educated them and moved them down to actually make the phone call.
Anthony:Of course, same thing. Email, text message, and then re-targeting as well, so you want Google display and then Facebook.
Kathleen:So let's go back now to content. You talked about the videos, you also alluded to the fact that the site itself has a lot of educational content around getting out of debt. Tell me a little bit more about what content specifically has performed really well for you, both the format and the topics.
Anthony:Great question. So the content that performed best... Let me first start here. When we put out a piece of content, we monitor it like - to use an analogy - like a pay per click ad. So I think a lot of marketers that might be listening when they do a pay per click ad, they'll split test a lot of things, they'll go in and they'll re-optimize headlines, they'll re-optimize description lines, whatever it is.
A lot of people put out content, and they just let it sit. So they do it, and they go "okay great, it's out, let me run traffic to it, it's a great piece of content." We've got our team, you were asking how closely we watch Facebook ads. We watch content equally as closely with heat map and screen recording software.
There's a ton out there - Lucky Orange, HotJar. We'll actually watch where people are engaging with he content, and we will make updates to the content real time. Like within the day that it goes out, we might change our content up three or four times.
So back to the target list. We might have 50 deals, we might only put out 20, and we'll see the top 5 that are performing, cut the other 15, ad another 15 in there, and just keep testing it like that with the content real time.
Kathleen:That's great, I have thought for a long time that we talk a lot about conversion rate optimization and being really agile as far as how we design websites for conversion, but there's not a lot of people talking about what I would refer to as agile content and conversion rate optimizing the content itself. And so I loved to hear you say that. We happen to use HotJar. I know Lucky Orange is another great alternative. Those tools are amazing, in terms of what they can tell you. And I think you're right, a lot of people create content and they let it sit. And what I always find mind-boggling is when you see companies, especially now that more marketers are moving towards creating pillar content, these really, really long form pieces of content on their sites, it takes a lot of work to stage that, to write it, to create it. And then to just let it sit and to not look and see is anybody actually reading, like after the first 10% of it? And if not, let's start to move some pieces around, 'cause a lot of work went into that and nobody's seeing it.
Anthony:Back to your analogy, it would be like building out a Facebook ad campaign, you put all this work into it, and then you set it to go and then you turn your back. It's like okay, great. Let's see how it does.
Kathleen:It's such a waste.
Kathleen:Interesting. So there's a lot there, you've shared a ton, thank you so much. I'm curious to hear more about the results you got. They obviously have to have been good, because you ramped up your Facebook spend, and it sounds like the company is really growing. Tell us a little bit more.
Anthony:Yeah, so, I think specific to your question as far as results as well, too, the best content we have now, we started day one putting out ... I shouldn't say day one, but a lot of the content we produced was educating people on debt consolidation and what's wrong with student loans today, and it was good, but it wasn't great. And what ended up being great was Target deals and Wal-mart shopping deals. And it was like people literally wake up and that's their morning news, to see what the site has to say about ways to save on deals on Amazon and stuff like that. So I'd say in terms of what content performed the best, it was just getting back to the earlier part of our conversation, it was getting more integrated on how we can help people today, not just educate them, how we can actually help them today.
So not just educate them on our actual offering, but what other things around our offering can actually make an immediate impact today. And the good news is, one of the things we say is the savings we help people have paid for tenfold whatever this service actually costs.
So the amount of money we're saving people on their grocery bills or at Target or on their Amazon deals, pays for the debt consolidation 10 times over. So it's just a nice reallocation of their money. But as far as results, as far as that site specifically, like I said, the growth of it, I'm trying to think as far as spend. I'd say week one we were spending I think $300 a day. By the end of the first month we were spending $1,000 a day, by the end of month three, we were probably up to $3K. Six months in we were probably about close to $10K, and now we're hitting a little bit of a plateau on our spend.
A lot of it is audience size limitations, so we're trying to get more creative while trying to expand into other markets, outside of just credit card debt. But yeah, I'd say the content that's performed best has been that stuff that can help people today performed best.
Kathleen:Great. And I imagine there must be a saturation point because I did have another guest on one of my earlier episodes, Rick Kranz, who talked about how he saw a stat that after people see a Facebook ad, I think it's four or five times, you really start to see diminishing returns.
So do you have something built into your process, where you're refreshing the content so that people aren't just starting to tune it out?
Anthony:Absolutely. So they get segmented differently if they've seen the ad after I think it's a frequency of two times. They start getting different language, different angles or different messaging, so instead of ... just back to my example, "this thing will help you live the life you want" versus "use this or you're gonna die," type of feels.
It's taking different angles to see which one resonates best with people. So yes, to answer your question, definitely.
Kathleen: What type of quality scores are you going for with Facebook ads? I've heard a lot of people talk about, everyone seems to have a different threshold, where they wanna be. What's yours?
Anthony:Yeah, we aim for tens, and really the metric we're actually watching more than quality score is our click-through rate. So we're watching to see if that click-through rate is ... I mean, we've got click-through rates upwards of 5 plus per cent on Facebook, which is phenomenal.
And the higher the click-through rate, the more we're telling Facebook's algorithm that we're getting the right messaging for the right person. To me it's the leading KPI that we focus on most, to say whether an ad is performing or not performing is the click-through rate of that actual ad.
Kathleen: Interesting. So shifting gears, we've got a lot of people listening who are practicing marketers, they tend to be marketing director level, they're involved in strategy but they also are involved enough at the tactical level that they're looking for some really concrete takeaways.
I would love to hear from you both the positives and the negatives. What would you say are the things you wouldn't do again, the mistakes you've made that somebody else should learn from, and what are some real positives that you've ... that have come out of this that somebody else could use and takeaway and apply to their own marketing?
Anthony:Great question. Let's see, so negatives, I'll start there ... specifically for marketers, I would say, not understating your audience fully, I'd say something we've admittedly fumbled multiple times, so I'm trying to think of a great example, is people with tax debt. So people that owe money to the IRS on their taxes and have back taxes.
We didn't fully understand that market, or what that looked like, and who those individuals were, and we thought a lot of the time it was the same subprime individuals, so it was the individual that ran up a ton of credit card debt or owes a lot or doesn't have a high income.
Where a lot of times, it is individuals who do have the income, have been divorced or other life instances happening. And we were talking to that audience the exact same way we were talking to the other one. And yeah, at a 10,000 ft level, they both have debt, right, they're the same people? But they're not. They're very different.
And I think hopefully everyone that's listening can find that same takeaway with their audiences, because although you might be a real estate agent, let's say you're a marketer for a real estate agent, you've got a single man, you've got a couple, you've got a newlywed, you know, you've got all these different segments of people that are all looking to buy a home, but they're all in many different places in their lives and they need to be talked to differently, treated differently, showed different homes, different things and stuff.
So I think that's the best analogy I can give for some failures we've had, and what I would spend a lot more time and I like to think we do now too, is to really understand a market, one before we go into it and then two as we start talking to those people.
Because I think we probably turned a lot of people off that otherwise would have been great, loyal customers to us. And we also may have gone in a totally different direction, may have never gotten into that market for that small segment.
Kathleen:So what about the positives? What are your hacks that you've come up with that other people should try? It sounds like lead ads are one. Although maybe not, because you don't want anybody else in that space.
Anthony:No, lead ads are great, segmentation really is the biggest thing I can say. It's making sure that you're bucketing people based on different actions. So getting back to the content, we'll have, like some of those pillar pages you were talking about, those 3,000-word content.
We'll put those in drawers sometimes, so let's just say it's how to get out of debt, you'll have student debt, tax debt, credit card debt, in different drawers. And if someone clicks or even takes an action to open that drawer, they're immediately in a different bucket. So they're immediately now seeing credit card related ads, they're immediately getting credit card content dripped to them, versus student loan or something like that.
And I was gonna say fail fast. I know that's not really a specific tip or hack, but like you were talking about with the video, don't get caught up ... you can get so inundated with gurus and people that are telling you what to do and how to do it, and sounds like a ton of work.
But really, this started with me and my partner at a coffee shop, and we put out an ad within two hours, and it was profitable from day one. So you hear a lot of these stories that it's a ton of work, and I'm not trying to downplay it, but I say fail fast, which was our motto and it's been successful so far.
And sometimes we do fail but at least you do it fast without spending hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Kathleen: Back to segmentation, I think we're all used to segmenting based on explicit data, what people tell us about themselves, in forms. But it's a good reminder that implicit data - which is really behavior, what people do on our websites - is just as, if not sometimes more, valuable as a way to segment them.
Anthony:Yes, I agree completely.
Kathleen:But you have to have the tools in place to track that.
Anthony:Well, a lot of it too though, as far as the tools to track that, if we're talking about just specific to Facebook, a lot of it the Facebook pixel will help you with. You take a Google Analytics, like a tracking code on a button, submit, or something like that. You can do a lot of that with if you're doing a Google display campaign, if you're re-targeting.
I think the easiest thing to think about is how people segment email campaigns, and email marketing campaigns, you can do the same thing with your content, and with ads as well, too.
Kathleen: This has been really interesting, and one thing I've been very excited about in advance of this interview is that you are not necessarily 100% in the HubSpot world. I've had a lot of HubSpot partners on, I've had a lot of HubSpot users on. It's a world that I've lived in for a long time, so that's been part of my network, but I have been dying to get out of that bubble. And you are outside of that bubble.
So being outside of that bubble, where do you get your inspiration for the marketing you do? Where do you look for cutting-edge ideas? What's your source to educate yourself on marketing?
Anthony:Great question. I use Search Engine Land, their other online publications. Other things I do is we do a lot of testing on our own to learn, but if I were to say where do I get a lot of my education, I look in the most competitive markets possible, and I try and learn. So for instance, I'll go to "Plastic Surgeon in Miami Florida," and I'll look at the market of plastic surgeons there because that's where the best marketers are interacting-
Kathleen:So you're basically just googling really competitive terms?
Anthony:Yeah, a dictionary ad for instance. I would look at a dictionary ad, and I know those people would pump in tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in there a day sometimes, into those ads, and I know that there are teams watching this.
And if I can get one takeaway on their landing page, on their ad copy, or their creative, I tend to learn a ton from that, because those are people that are actually, they're not gurus, they're actually doing it. You're actually getting actionable takeaways, that they may not even know they're willing to share.
Kathleen:That is a great idea, and nobody that I have asked that question to has said that yet. But I love it. Instead of going to the places that tell you ... what is that famous saying, those that can't do, teach? And so your example's perfect because you're not going to those who are teaching, you're going to those who are doing. And they do tend to be pretty sharp.
Anthony:Whether they know it or not, they're teaching.
Kathleen:Exactly. They're teaching by doing. So who do you think is doing inbound marketing really well? Company or individual, when you look out there and you say, "man they are killing it, I wish I could be as good as they were."
Anthony:That's a great question. Let me see who I love, just looking at a few. I look a lot in my space. I'm trying to think outside of my space who does-
Kathleen:No, in your space is okay, I just think it's great for people to hear about new examples.
Anthony:Yeah, I love The Penny Hoarder, which is in my space. It's a site and they put out great content, very viral content. And when I say viral, it's not click-bait, it's actually useful, good information and content that drive people through their follow-on and they segment really well. So they got an ad the other day, it was so specific to me, I forget what it was, whatever it was, I loved it. So I'd say Penny Hoarder is a great example.
Kathleen:That's great. Well, thank you. This has been full of really fantastic information, and again, I'm really happy that I was able to interview you because you're really in a different sphere than so many of my other guests. So it's been very interesting for me.
I am gonna include a lot of links to some of the sites you mentioned in the show notes. So if anybody's interested in learning more about the examples that Anthony mentioned, just check out the show notes for the podcast, it'll all be in there. Anthony, if somebody has questions and wants to reach out to you, what's the best way to contact you?
Anthony:Yeah, SiteFlood.com is our service company. Feel free to reach out through there and happy to answer any questions. My direct email too is firstname.lastname@example.org and happy to answer any questions.
Kathleen:Fantastic, well thank you so much, and if you liked this interview, I would love it if you could give us a positive review on iTunes or Stitcher. If you know somebody whose doing really kick ass inbound marketing work and getting great results, tweet me @workmommywork, as I'd love to interview them. That's all for this week!
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