Facebook fan acquisition: $1.50 CPA to less than $.50 in 3 days #socialmedia #optimization

2014-05-10 cpf chartWanted to share a quick anecdote from my latest marketing experiment in social media. I’ve been involved in several fan acquisition campaigns, with varying degrees of success. Like any other marketer, I like to seek out case studies, share data and learn as much as possible. With that in mind, here’s some stats from my fan acquisition on Facebook so far.

  • Campaign goal: drive likes for a new brand at a low cost per acquisition.
  • Secondary goal: drive up engagement and overall awareness for the brand.
  • Measurement tool: Facebook Page Insights and Ads manager.

Naturally, any brand wants to attract fans, followers and engagement organically. However, when you’re first starting out with a blank slate, it’s critical to start to seed the campaign with a combination of paid and earned placements. With Twitter, a blog and zero other social media, I’ve been able to attract 33% organic fans, 67% paid for fans to the brand. Let’s skip to the campaign results, shall we?

Ad unit 1: CTR was abysmal, at about 1%, poor targeting (right rail, non desktop) resulted in overall cost per fan of $1.16 – not terrible, but not great.

Ad unit 2: Fixed up targeting, changed creative from a generic image with no text to a more provacative, category centric image. CTR improved to nearly 2% but the cost per fan, or CPF, was still about $.76. Better, but not ideal, based on the category and chatting with other marketers.

Ad unit 3: Same image as ad unit #2, same targeting, however this time the ad unit had a compelling message. A reason to believe, so to speak, and a reason to click. CTR shot up to over 3% and best of all, CPF dropped to $.46 cents (so far). Even better, one actual, bonafide prospect clicked through to the target website AND completed the marketing funnel. At a $30 CPA for a single conversion, it’s far too expensive a strategy to leverage the fan acquisition as a conversion driver.

However, if you look at the goals above, sales and funnel completion were not part of the campaign. Not even as a primary or secondary metric. The fact that I derived, potentially, enough revenue to justify the fan acquisition campaign based on the LTV of prospects is irrelevant. The main objectives: acquire fans, drive down cost over time and learn, have all been reached.

Hopefully this is of some help to anybody who’s starting out on a fan acquisition campaign or is curious about how early metrics should pan out. Happy Saturday.

Time for me to get off the computer and enjoy some sunshine.

PS: No, the numbers in the chart are not actuals. The trend line is right, but the case study happened over a period of less than five days :) I wanted to show a larger picture and bigger trend to make the changes in fan acquisition results more clear in the visual.

The Unexpected Burger: Topped With Guacamole, it’s different yet delicious

Sometimes, you want something different. Something unique. Or maybe, IMG_2311somewhere inside of you, there’s been a feeling. That you’re different, you’re special. The universe seems to move at a different pace, life passes by at a bent angle. When I slathered on the guacamole onto the whole wheat bun of this burger, I knew I was being rebellious. My constant companion, mustard, was nowhere in sight, nor would that fine ingredient get the chance to flavor this particular specimen.

 Have you ever felt like a guacamole burger?

I know. It’s a hard thing to admit sometimes, growing up here, that the staple condiments, mustard, ketchup, mayo, sometimes don’t get to attend the musical composition that is a delicious burger. Sure, the mayo might arrive in the form of a garlic aioli, or the ketchup might be a passenger in the flavored beef patty. But, the ingredients, in their classic form, are nowhere to be found. There’s a reason for the disappearing act.

Sometimes, we all want that new experience. Crave that delightful twist. Movies are all re-runs, right? Because there are only seven basic types of story. The punchline might be the same in many tales, “They lived happily ever after.” But it’s the unexpected surprises along the way that make the story worth hearing, even when you already know the ending.

The unexpected burger could be a product. Something that is unique, different and creative. It stands out. People notice. They talk. “Did you hear what he put on his burger yesterday? OMG!” Ya, I know. People talk and spread rumors all the time. Here’s the clincher: you can make your own rumors, about your own brand, with your own creative.

Ah, one more thing. I’m now booked solid for the next two weeks, and with a vacation at the end of this month coming up, new clients are subject a one month waiting list. Sorry. I’m happy to chat in the interim between now and then, just want to set expectations that work won’t begin for a month.

Oh, wait. Did you want more burger pics? I feel you – check them out.

The story of a burger, JG Publishing, and why I went solo

A homemade burger story

If you, like me, grew up in the US of A, you probably grew up with some amount of barbeque, hamburgers and the like. The difference between fast food and higher end restaurants, and homemade, is always one of those things that’s easy to articulate. Familiar to anybody who eats out, who likes to cook, who has had the opportunity to experience fine dining, you know that the quest to get a fantastic burger is a difficult one. Not unlike starting a business. While burgers come with fries, frequently, it’s incredibly rare to have the experience at home or out where both the fries and the burger are majestic. So, it’s better to focus on one thing, in this case, the burger, and do it exceptionally well.

That brings me to the mission of JG Publishing (note my initials – I’ve never actually done that before). When thinking about it, I love the publishing business. First as a marketer, then as a social network co-founder, then now as a writer, I thoroughly enjoy connecting branded stories with the audience which will appreciate them the most. That’s what I’m doing now, through a combination of consulting and publishing. Back in the day, I was in the media business and focused on advertising revenue. Now it’s about ecommerce and lifetime value.

When I experience that amazing burger, that wonderful story, that exceptional product – I tell my friends. I’m so satisfied, I can’t imagine getting a burger anywhere else. Products that inspire, stories that move, these are the things that personal time and life are made of. Not banal corporate, white washed and toneless tag lines. Real, juicy and filled with variety, the stuff of life is cut from a rainbow colored cloth.

Daring to be different, being bold in the decisions you select, these are the characteristics that more and more define the successful startup stories we read daily. Taking risks, both in product, in experience and in style, leads to incredible business results. Not all brand voices are willing to be different, to be edgy, to be so unique as to be unforgettable.

Those are the kind of companies I’m chatting with and the businesses I’m helping. Daring to be different, to be unique, to stand for something larger than the balance sheet. It’s those voices that have something to say, that have an understanding of the symbiotic nature of company, culture and people, that I enjoy promoting the most. At the end of the day, they have an amazing story, which gets told and retold.

So, business number eleven is a chance for me to do something that matters, something important, to combine my goal of spreading social good for profit. No matter what political party I believe in, the idea of some form of government comes with costs, and services that benefit the whole of society. Companies that take this approach, where by growing, scaling and generating more profit, society overall benefits, are the ones I love. This is my chance to create a business that does so, in a bigger, better way than others I’ve built.

On to the next chapter. If you’re looking for marketing help or somebody that can assist in the growth and spread of your unique story, feel free to get in touch. I’ve only got time to work with a few companies, but I’ve not yet filled my quota, and probably won’t for a week, two at the most.


Armed with mobile experience, scouting my next opportunity

After nearly a year in, “Stealth mode,” and then witnessing the launch of a mobile only Saas solution, I feel like I’ve grounded myself in the modern web. Then reading a statistic from the latest #MWC, I find that 7% of people are, “Mobile only,” which means that they never use a desktop.

Cool beans, dude! But…there’s like 14% or more of US households that don’t have a smartphone OR internet. Close enough to be within a standard margin of error, this is a particularly important bit for anybody who wants to do mobile marketing. In other words, if your target demographic might not be a smartphone hugging hipster, you might still consider, “Desktop first,” instead of, “Mobile first.”

So what do I do with my marketing budget?

Like any good marketer, including me, it’s the same tried and true method that I’ve heard smart people at Intuit and elsewhere re-iterate: Launch, learn & tune. At present, I’m basically rolling up my sleeves and building a brand from, “Scratch.” Sort of, it’s been around since 2011, but never had any real marketing applied. Website? Nope. Social media? Nope. So I’m basically running a month long marketing experiment to see what works, what doesn’t and why.

Give me a holler; the first hour of consulting is free, mostly because I’m figuring out if you quality as a client. Likewise, you’re trying to figure out if I would be a good fit; if we’re not a match, I have an awesome network and will promote you for free, no strings attached. See that? ;) NSA and it’s all business.

Let me put this another way; if I can’t help you make an extra $100, in recurring revenue from our hour long conversation, I’ll be thrilled to provide some advice and consulting until the numbers jump to the next level. Right now, I’m working with one company, other than my own, and I am chatting with a few others to fill up my schedule for this month.

Two standard deviations ahead of the curve is where disruptive innovation starts

A friend of mine (Hi, Ashok) started a business a while ago. At the time, I was wondering, “Who needs X?” Now, as it turns out and the world we live in, I keep thinking, “Dude, you HAVE to win here…I want your product. I want every company that needs your product to buy from you.”

When he got started, it was non obvious that there was a need for X. However, a paradigm shift happened and suddenly, every hot company in Y category is begging for X. In fact, I’d argue fortunes have already been made by technology that’s inferior to what my friend is building. But of course, I haven’t seen it, used it or anything else and I’m guessing. Plus, it’s a friend of mine so my POV is inherently biased.

Back then, I was a newbie entrepreneur, working full time for myself in my first long term, successful venture as a consultant. Despite selling a few businesses before, as those were part time, this was a lot bigger, a lot more influential and a lot more effort overall. There was no day job and I got to witness a lot of very, very interesting companies.

Lala before they sold to Apple (Hi Geoff, and thanks, for both the help at Yahoo and after). Power Reviews (Andy did an awesome job with the remote Powerpoint and I was stunned at the implications of the service). Photobucket, Sidestep, Dotspotter, Maya’s Mom, Kaboodle…I got to see a lot of very interesting companies, close up. Work with the teams, learn how they operated, how they thought about business, hear from some amazing people in technology, product and marketing.

Personally, I’ve always felt that a sustaining innovation is one that enables a small, standard size amount of growth. A disruptive one transforms the way value is created in a category. Mint.com for Finance, POF for online dating, Wave / Outright for accounting, etc. They both delivered on improved product and changed the way value for the company is created, in each case, successfully. Time will tell for Wave but the others achieved exits or sustainable business models.

Then there is the, “Moonshot,” concept from Google – self driving cars, terraforming Mars, automated drone delivery in response to a Google Glass view of an ad served in a heads up display.

Having seen the world over a few times, met presidents and billionaires…it’s hard to think small. When you have family that suffers from incurable, terminal disease, it’s also hard to hold back, to think that tomorrow, I have more time. It’s today that counts, it’s breakthroughs that matter. A base hit is okay for some, but for me, I’m more interested in how people can hit a home run, or better yet, knock the ball so hard it hits the moon.

I can’t talk about work yet because we’ve still got our shields up. The Klingons might get wind of our approach, so the cloaking device is intact and fully powered. ;)

However, what I can talk about is crap. Literal, figurative crap. There was a book I read to my younger son called, “Everybody Poops,” that I think every adult should read, if they haven’t already. It reminds us we’re all human, that we all, in fact, defecate. If not, we should because otherwise, things will get ugly and there will be bigger health issues. Sure, what went into said load might have been a fantastic meal, or a cheap fast food burger, but it all comes out one way in the end.

Are there opportunities in poop? Perhaps. Or it could be I’m just talking sh!t ;)

Happy Wednesday.

Google bought Nest to acquire high value customers: period

next-billion-dollar-purchaseI’ve seen more than a few articles on Nest. Ironically at work, I was explaining to people over lunch the reason why the, “Tweeting fridge,” isn’t a pie in the sky idea. It’s going to happen, whether you or I like it or not. Similarly, Nest getting acquired by Google was inevitable to a degree, just like Zappos getting acquired by Amazon was going to happen whether customers liked it or not.

While I have worked in digital marketing for a long time, it’s my product management hat which makes me stunned at the purchase, and the zillion pundits who’ve gotten the details wrong.

Nest subscribers are the highest value customer segment on the planet

If you live in an environment to make Nest, the adaptive thermostat, work for you…then you’re already one of the world’s 1%. On top of that, if you actually bought one, you own the place you live and the savings, the benefits, from using the *only* product in that category, you’re never, ever going to switch. So what’s the ROI on a customer who buys today and uses your product for the life of their mortgage? Banks look at things from a 30 year perspective. Most digital companies can barely stomach a three year customer lifetime value model (CLTV for those geeky enough).

That heading above and paragraph that followed was the marketing training, the marketing roles, I’ve had over the years shining through. Really, what motivated me to have the tweeting fridge discussion, what drove me to write this, was my product strategy hat. Having invented both AdSense and Delicious, as well as a list of other products, I know a thing or two about digital strategery. (AdRevenue was the product; launched before AdSense and finished with a lawsuit for Trademark infringement with Miva…Delicious was Makunu, in 2001, several years before Delicious came and went – tag based navigation was a great idea a long, long time ago).

Let’s circle back to Nest. The closest write-ups I have seen is one where people said, “Google is a robotics company,” but that’s a gimme. Given the spate of acquisitions in the category the past year, it wasn’t a question if Google needed or wanted robotics or not. It was a no brainer. Kiva Systems, the $750 million dollar Amazon purchase, showed in spades the value of networked robots in the physical world to investors, punters and tech geeks alike.

However…dealing with a network of robots is fundamentally what web search engines have been doing for nearly twenty years. There are scores of academic papers on how networked, autonomous systems work. It wasn’t because Google, somehow, just realized a year ago that a network of robots was even more efficient than robots working in silos. Companies, teams of real people have long realized the benefit of working together, rather than in silos. Isn’t it a cliche to say, “Break down the silos?” ;)

Let’s take the network of robots analogy one step further. What Google needs and drives them is to automate the tasks of everyday life. John Battelle said a while ago, “Google Now is the most strategic project at the company.” There was a cartoon years ago that showed a fictional, real world Googlebot indexing a guys apartment…if you imagine a Roomba crossed with the robot, “Bender,” then you can imagine what that visage. Eric Schmidt, a few years ago, said that Google wants to not just give you information, but know what’s next and suggest, advise, plan your life for you and present you the sequence you’re going to need.

That’s huge. But to help me in the real world, I can’t engage with a screen twenty-four seven. If my home is my most valuable possession, what better way to keep it secure than with Google Fiber running the fastest internet in the US, Google Home Security with motion sensors, Nest Thermostat and Nest Smoke Detector?

While Google is a robotics company (that much, one article had right – but they’ve been a robotics company since the 90’s when they first started with Backrub…), there are limits to the human condition. One fundamental limit is that we can only keep five to seven things in our head at the same time. Whether this limit is because of our five senses or something else, but, Google’s brand can only extend and stretch so far. Google can’t be the system in my house that monitors my temperature, air quality and water usage. That has to be something else, because Google is also the brand that I use when I want to download an app to my janky phone (cough, sorry – Android ICS and below sucks if you’ve only used an iPhone).

It’s Nest that monitors my house, Youtube that delivers my entertainment, Google that drives the car and helps me get to where I need to go. While on the way, Google gives me updates, information and apps that help me with my life.

See? If it was Google monitoring my house, then transitioned to driving my car and helping me at work…it’d be creepy as all hell. By partitioning out the brand (Xbox, hello???), to the various states of my life, it *feels* as if they aren’t taking over. Even if they are, the feeling, as a product in their system consumer of their services, isn’t as nefarious as it might be otherwise.

By the way, having taken a quick look at John’s take on the Nest buy…he has one detail right, but also wrong. Google won’t buy or get into the clothing business. They will end up competing with the quantified self companies, one way or the other. While this is inevitable, they can’t launch a, “Google Clothing,” line because again, that would freak all of us the f–k out. Instead, they’ll do it via acquisition and maintain the brand, same as Nest, Youtube or Adsense.

If you’re curious who Google will buy that gets them into the quantified self game, it’s Athos. Either Google or Nike will scoop up this company. Just don’t look surprised when it happens.

Usually, people who make investments add disclaimers or some statements. I’m not involved in any of these companies, but I know people at Federated Media, have met John Battelle once upon a time (but then, most people have, right?) and know more than one or two current and ex-Google employees.

In the future, everybody will own a personal pick-up drone

800px-Predator_Drone_021While there are a few companies that have talked about having drone based delivery services, it’s in the consumer’s best interest to own a pick-up drone instead of having to rely on the delivery service of another company. Today, we all own cars. Some of us also own bicycles, so we have multiple modes of transportation. Some for their own brand of utility.

We also have multiple computers per person right now, some used for one task, like writing, and others used for phone calls, like my iPhone. Still we have Google Glass and other computers that we might wear elsewhere on our bodies, or sensors. Cheaper, more convenient ways of stitching together a more comfortable, simple existence are part of the evolution of modern society.

The control over our environment first started with thermostats will finish with the kind of background, convenient automated feeds and streams of data that flow into purchase decisions that happen in the background of our lives. Sure, we’ll still customize things but based on those preferences, we’ll save so much time managing our lives…the future will be an awesome place with so many robots at our beck and call.

Where’s my tweeting fridge???

450px-LG_refrigerator-editIt’s CES right now, apparently. What I want to know is, where the bleep is my tweeting fridge? Twitter’s now public, right? So shouldn’t my fridge be tweeting, “Yo, Jeremy needs milk!”

After my Samsung fridge tweets my grocery needs, I want my Samsung car to drive *itself* to the store, pick up my bag, and then drive itself back home. I want my Honda Asimo to pick up the groceries, put them away, and my Roomba to start cleaning my floor.

Then after my Samsung car drives me back home (while I catch up on reading the latest Jay Williams story), I want my Nike Fuelband to start uploading how few calories my desk job burned to the cloud.

Oh, yes. It’s CES and I’m already bored.

Fun fact: the quote about, “The future is here. It’s just unevenly distributed,” is so accurate it’s scary. Ever wonder why it’s becoming so unevenly distributed in the USA? ;)

Another quote. “Those who don’t learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.”

Once my fridge can help me out with those quotes, it’s game over. Call me Neo and plug me in.

Update to this: after more consideration, a scenario that I can easily see happening is the following. I have a personal drone for running errands, after Amazon said that 90% of the items they send are less than five pounds, I was thinking. I could get a lot of shopping done, “One off,” for convenience and always get very fresh items from places around my area if I had a personal pick-up drone. Then I realized, the tweeting fridge was really just sending push notifications to my pick-up drone, which then flew out, armed with a wifi integration into my bank or credit cards, picks up items based on a scan of my fridge and recipes I’ve used.

This picture means that the fridge acts to scan a feed from a Google, Amazon, Walmart, Whole Foods, Sprouts or similar with offers and discounts on things I’ve bought. Each part of my living space would be equipped with sensors, integrated into a new, “Home OS,” that also included a feed from the bathroom to the bedroom. This would ensure you’d be on top of your health, fully quantified, as well as your energy bills and more. Spending would be optimized as you could link multiple stores and the drone pick up done round robin to ensure you spent the least on items you purchase on a regular basis.

Similar to how we have the computer fragmentation today, personal assistant and robots will fragment into a series of specialized machines. The roomba for the floor, the drone for the groceries, the intelligent car for larger items and personal transportation, the Nest for the heating and cooling bill, the crap feed for the bathroom and more. It would be dozens of large corporations with access to various, “Life streams,” of data about each of us. If this sounds creepy, we’re already there with TransUnion, Experian and other data providers. The hope is that you have privacy settings in this future state, where you can control which companies get what access to your data and how it’s shared.


How Microsoft Can Enable Yahoo To Win At Mobile Search & Help Apple

There was a rumor from one of the CEO candidates for Microsoft recently. The idea was floated that, perhaps, they could sell Bing to somebody else and then start to pare down the Microsoft business to enable some growth. To me personally, this is like their strategic decision to invest late into Facebook and forge such a deep relationship. As a company, it was one of their best, long term investments ever. The investment thesis behind grabbing that Facebook stake was the same one that now should prevail them to dislodge the search business.

Yahoo has a history with search (and for a while, I played a tiny role in a much larger play), which Marissa also shares, having been the, “Search girl,” at Google. Microsoft has put their money into the full stack competition on the consumer side and to do that, they’ve made very strategic moves already, from the Barnes & Noble Nook deal to the Surface to the Nokia move, Microsoft is very, very serious about hardware. This ensures that they have a foothold, a front door, to complement their Enterprise position and their other consumer front door, which is the Xbox.

Microsoft has a lot of strong brands and to ensure a better focus on their core business, pushing search back into Yahoo’s hands is a no brainer. Apple would love an alternative that could replace Google, and with that distribution deal plus MIcrosoft, Yahoo would be in a position to own the majority of the mobile search market. The only player without a bone in the hardware game, Samsung, LG and others would have to give the Yahoo deal serious consideration. Firefox OS, too, as well as their desktop business, could follow if the economics were right.

Given so many players would give it real consideration, I predict this is one of the most exciting moves that could happen in the digital space for the next five to ten years. By taking mobile search, Yahoo could fund and fuel the kind of disruptive, future and forward thinking that Google’s, “Ten-x,” projects do. The market has seen this movie a few times, and with better search also comes better logistics.

The future state could see Yahoo algorithms generated from advanced search personalization also enabling, “Same day,” goods transfer for both Craigslist and ebay. This would rival the Amazon, Google, Walmart strategies against the same, “Glue,” between online and offline commerce.

There’s a lot more to write on this topic, but for me personally, I’d love to see the whole corporate theater play out this way. As the only player with search scale that doesn’t have a hardware strategy, Apple, in their, “Thermo-nuclear,” option would certainly want this to succeed. Between those two corporate investments if needed, Yahoo could plow any amount of money, talent and perks to creating the very best discovery engine online. Their China position, coupled with a partnership in Yandex, could give Google a very real, serious global competitor. It might never be that Yahoo owned both mobile and desktop but for any viewing experience, the company would be in a position to own the syntatic glue that put everything together.

After giving this scenario serious thought over the past few weeks, since I first saw the potential Microsoft CEO saying that they’d consider selling Bing, this scenario has been slowly percolating in the back of my mind. I love the ideas and would enjoy seeing a Google competitor for search. Advertisers would also tremendously benefit at the size and scale of the new Yahoo’s reach and return on ad spend.

Offline data, in the form of mobile search, would be a huge asset to the company as they engage in more and more mobile search. After being able to target with such rich meta-data, their capabilities could potentially be first, at least with mobile, of any ad platform.