Our live Zoom Dives bring creative business experts together in conversation with our founder, Carolyn Dailey, to tackle some of the most urgent topics currently affecting entrepreneurs and freelancers as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

For this edition, we were joined by growth marketing expert, Hannah Parvaz, Head of Growth at Curio. Hannah walked us through the key considerations when using advertising on social media and wider digital marketing platforms, including which platforms are the best to use, how best to profile your customers and how to track your data.

Read on to discover the key takeaways.

The best way to profile customers

  • It depends what stage you're at, as you will have different levels of data requiring different services
  • When just starting out:
    • Look at your competitors and at their audiences
    • Consider: what problem is your business trying to solve? How will it do this? What’s your USP? When you have the answers to these questions, you can look into the demographics that coincide with them.
  • If you're further along:
    • You will already know your demographic as you will have already built up an audience. Communicate with them, ask them what they like, find out where they hang out, what services they use etc.
    • Build up their personas as much as possible
    • Use every communication you have with your audience to gather this information. It can be through:
      • Customer support. Listen to their feedback
      • Surveys such as product market fit surveys, surveys to answer specific, targeted questions
      • 1 on 1 conversations with specific groups of people. Ask them directly about their experience with the app/product/website.

Social Media advertising platforms

  • You can have an impact with any platform. How you decide which one to focus on depends on what you’re trying to advertise.
  • Facebook (including Messenger, Marketplace etc.): business have a lot of success advertising products on this platform
  • Google: can be harder to set up but can also be successful – try to use it in tandem with Facebook
  • Twitter: this used to be an effective advertising platform, but people have moved away from it, so businesses haven't been seeing the best results there
  • LinkedIn: has a high Cost Per Reach. It's effective for specific services, such as advertising events, recruiting etc., but doesn't have the same reach as other apps.
  • TikTok: fast growing, good for building brand awareness, but not as wide a demographic as other platforms
  • Snapchat: good for building brand awareness, but not as wide a demographic as other platforms
  • App Store search: this can be used to tap into the people who are already searching for similar products and are ready to download/purchase. There have been good results here if you have good hyper targeting.

What sort of budget should you have when starting out?

  • It's impossible to provide a blanket amount. It really depends on your overall marketing strategy.
  • Start small. Spread your bets across a few different platforms, then once you see where you’re getting return, focus your budget/strategy there.

Top tips for improving acquisition

  • Ideally, you should concentrate heavily on brand presence before you spend on advertising. Focus on your onboarding flow, email communications, sales page etc. so that when interest starts to build, you're more likely to see conversions
  • You can build brand presence online by reaching out to press and influencers, and by starting a blog to publish content about your product. This will help drive people to your site in the short term, and will help you in the long term.
  • In a healthy business structure, you will acquire 20% of customers through paid channels, and 80% organically
    • Once organic acquisition goes up, paid costs will go down
    • Attributable acquisition – you can identify where your customers are coming from, such as through referrals from other websites, links to your website etc.
    • Unattributable - you can't know for sure what's responsible for increases in traffic, but you can make assumptions based on your activity, eg press coverage

How can you tactfully schedule social media content?

  • There's no definitive time to advertise or not to
  • Generally the best results are seen on the weekend, because people are on their phones more, and they're more prepared to engage with your content
  • The platform's algorithm should be able to work out when to post advertisements so that they perform best

What should you focus on when creating content?

  • All content should convey your message in a way that works for your audience – where are people using your content? Why are they using it? Design your content to suit their needs and habits.
  • Make sure your copy is relatable, and something that you would say yourself organically. It should be friendly and approachable, not patronising. If you can, use positive quotes from customers who you’ve had conversations with.
  • Blog content: post content that helps warm up your audience for the main event, such as explaining how you got the idea for the product, or the manufacturing/development process behind the product.

What's the best way to measure/track data?

  • Use existing customer data to build up an audience based on those who have already purchased. Target people who are similar to those customers – these will be higher value people who are more likely to make a purchase.
  • Facebook Analytics is a good way to track people's engagement with your adverts and content - what they're clicking on, sharing etc. - so that you can review what's working and what isn't
  • Mobile measurement platforms: enable you to assess campaign performance on mobile apps. Sync with Facebook, Snapchat etc. and use them to map out your user journeys, analyse how users are interacting with your ads, and monitor how specific ads and campaigns are performing in the long run - what's their lifetime value?
  • With websites, you can collect user data yourself with tools such as Google Analytics, Google Conversion Tags etc.

Common mistakes when it comes to advertising on social media

  • Trying to narrow your audience too much with specific age/gender/interests/location filters
  • Not knowing what your goal is. Don't start to spend money on ads without knowing what you want back from them - what results do you want them to generate?
  • Not tracking. Don't spend money on ads without tracking your website. Tracking is the most important thing when it comes to advertising, as it enables you to measure the performance of your campaigns.
  • With Facebook advertising, having too much text in campaign images. If over 20% of your image is text, Facebook won't post your ad. They want it to look engaging, visual, appealing. Campaigns are more effective when they feature less text.

Tips for planning your paid advertising

  • Users: speak to them. Ask for their feedback on the product. Find out what they like about it. What resonates with them? What appeals to them?
  • Product: know your product inside out. Make sure it works and solves a problem. Find out why someone would use your product. Convey this in your advertising campaigns. Make sure you have a great product that people want and need, and define how you’re measuring that it’s great.
  • Tracking: make sure it’s in place from the start so you can measure your success, use it and optimise it.
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): measures the loyalty of your customers. Aim for the best score by making your audience as happy as possible.

What to do when you start considering paid advertising

  • Always be doing a little paid advertising, even from the start, to try to drive some traffic through so that you can see which channels are funnelling people to you, and where they're dropping off
  • Make your website and landing pages as strong as possible, so that when customers find their way to you, you retain their interest. This will help increase your conversion rate.
  • If your product is an app, go out and ask people in your target demographic what they think of it. See if they understand it, if the message is clear, if they can tell what it is and what it does. Use their feedback to improve it, and then launch your campaign for the improved version.
  • Building an organic following is important. People are more likely to trust your product and try it out if they can see you have a large number of followers.
    • Build your following by Tweeting people, telling them about your product, offering to send it to them for them to test it out.
  • Spend time with your audience. Talk to them 1 on 1. Engage them. They will appreciate the founder taking the time to speak with them.