But. That doesn’t mean it’s the only option. Or even the best option.
Two reasons why:
First, your cost per lead tends to be higher than other inbound channels. Chiefly because…
Second, AdWords doesn’t scale as well as other options. So you hit a point of diminishing returns. ‘Cause only 3.4% of search queries results in an AdWords click.
That ain’t a lot. ‘Specially on your ~5-10 niche keywords that actually convert.
The trick is to turn your attention from the bottom of the funnel back to the top.
Here’s why the top of your funnel is almost always more profitable than the bottom.
Closing and scaling BOFU deals isn’t sustainable
AdWords has intent. People search, click, and opt-in or buy.
It’s literally trained people to give you money.
It’s the ‘last touch’ so often that it becomes “easy to track ROI.” So like any self-fulfilling prophecy, the more attention it gets, the more “it works.” The more budget and labor and buy-in.
The problem is scale.
Especially when you’re paying $25 to $50+ per click. (Or more — I see you insurance and law.)
Conversions might be good on AdWords. But in many cases there’s (1) not enough to grow your business past six figures. Or (2) there’s not enough margin to reinvest in other areas.
Bottom-of-the-funnel advertising like this works well because you can throw down a few bucks and see a few more bucks come in not long afterward.
But here’s where more problems crop up.
High-end CPCs dramatically push up your Cost Per Leads. That, in turn, pushes up your minimum monthly ad budget. So it’s not uncommon to see ~$30k/month budgets in competitive niches on the low end (I’ve worked on a few myself).
You need so many leads to turn into customers. So you need to cast the net wide enough to convert a few measly percentage points.
84 long, hard days to transition from a lead to an opportunity, and 18 more days to close the deal.
Now. What are your payment terms? Net 30 or worse?
You’re now looking at not recouping a single dollar from that $30k/month budget until the next quarter (at the earliest).
So in reality, you need like four or five times that budget to sustain you. It’s like working capital in finance. You need enough to keep the lights open until the money, eventually, flows back into your bottom line.
Fortunately, all hope isn’t lost.
There’s a powerful antidote to a sluggish, budget-sabotaging funnel. It goes by the name of: Brand Awareness.
The stuff that big, mega enterprises have invested in for years. But most SMBs and tech geeks shy away because it “doesn’t convert.”
Generating brand awareness is a cheap investment
Brand awareness is typically the goal of any top-of-the-funnel campaign.
You want to start positioning your brand favorably within the minds and hearts of consumers.
On the one hand, ‘branding’ is like a clichéd buzzword that’s lost all meaning. And on the other, it’s only seen as viable for large companies with massive budgets. It’s a “nice to have,” not a “must have.”
To make matters worse, it’s nearly impossible to draw a direct line from brand building activities to sales. So it gets dismissed by all hardcore data geeks (even when data itself lies).
But here’s the thing.
When done correctly, brand building is an investment in future sales.
You’re done with the first step. Next up, it’s time to set up a remarketing audience based on visits to your brand awareness blog post.
First things first, you need to get your Facebook Pixel setup if you haven’t already. Head to the Events Manager and select the Pixels option.
Click to create your Pixel and give it a recognizable name for your site:
Next, install your Pixel code by selecting any of the listed options:
From there, simply follow the directions for each based on your choice to get your code installed.
Now, go back to the audience section and create a new custom audience based on website traffic:
Make sure that you select “People who visited specific web pages” as your criteria, and then enter the blog post you drive traffic to for your brand awareness ads:
If you want to get even more specific, narrow down the traffic by refining the frequency to two or more visits:
Still with me?
Next, hit save, and you’ve generated your second audience.
With this audience, you can bring back users and narrow your list down even further to the most brand-aware visitors.
Lastly, you’ll want to take that new custom audience and turn it into a lookalike audience.
That will allow Facebook to wrangle up more users for you to target who have similar interests and tendencies as your best performers in these campaigns.
Head to the audiences section and create a new lookalike audience. Select the second remarketing audience you just saved as the “Source:”
Next, be sure to choose the 1% audience size to keep it targeted and dirt cheap (See: this study).
Hit save, and you’ve just created a self-sustaining top-of-the-funnel campaign to generate tons of brand awareness.
Phew. You made it.
Now it’s time to sit back and reap the rewards of a well-sown crop.
Yes. You should invest in AdWords.
But invest all you’ve got?
No. Probably not.
Not when you’re looking at ~four * $30k/month to start getting your first few customers. Not unless you’ve got a rich uncle hiding somewhere. Or a private equity firm cutting the checks.
Instead of following the typical playbook, flip the script. Invest in the stuff that’s going to make future sales easier and less expensive.
Invest in branding activities, that you have no way of tracking today, in pursuit of an easier tomorrow.
Brand awareness has the power to drive faster, funnel-skipping sales, at scale. And when done correctly, it can even be a cheap investment that will pay off dividends for years to come.
About the Author: Brad Smith is the founder of Codeless, a B2B content creation company. Frequent contributor to Kissmetrics, Unbounce, WordStream, AdEspresso, Search Engine Journal, Autopilot, and more.
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