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How to Go from Zero to 60 in Customer Acquisition

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How to Go from Zero to 60 in Customer Acquisition

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Acquiring customers through online advertising has become an all-out arms race. In this session, hear from a noted digital performance marketing innovator with nine years of experience in ROI-focused digital advertising. Learn tips to acquire more customers – and turn them into lifetime brand advocates – without breaking the bank. Learn to ace media mix modeling, while keeping CPA goals in check.

Acquiring customers through online advertising has become an all-out arms race. In this session, hear from a noted digital performance marketing innovator with nine years of experience in ROI-focused digital advertising. Learn tips to acquire more customers – and turn them into lifetime brand advocates – without breaking the bank. Learn to ace media mix modeling, while keeping CPA goals in check.


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How to Go from Zero to 60 in Customer Acquisition

  2. 2. ©2013 Confidential. Do not distribute. All rights reserved. @julepmaven
  3. 3. Uh…everything’s perfectly all right now We’re fine. We’re all fine here now, thank you.
  4. 4. ZERO TO SIXTY 1. Data comes first 2. Understand your customer 3. Learn the ecosystem 4. Embrace Risk
  5. 5. #1 – Data Comes First “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. It biases the judgment.” -- Sherlock Holmes
  6. 6. Get Your Tracking In Order 1. Get maximum visibility 2. Establish a credible relationship to business results
  7. 7. How To Get The Tracking You Need 1. Pick a platform (ad server, attribution manager) 2. Map out all of the channels 3. Define the activities that matter 4. Partner with engineering on the implementation 5. Partner with Business Intelligence on the financial side
  8. 8. Build A Credible, Meaningful Data Stream • Get as much measured as possible under a single platform • Recognize tech limitations – pick the right source of truth for each key component (site, advertising, brand) • Establish a data connection between front-end activity and business results (ROAS, LTV)
  9. 9. #2 Learn Your Customer • Who she is • What she wants • Why she buys
  10. 10. Who She Is…. BRANDS: Topshop, Nordstrom, Sephora MEDIA: Gmail, Popsugar, Facebook, Pandora, Hulu, MTV, Allure, Vogue AGE: 18-44 GENDER: Female INTERESTS: Music, art, the environment OCCUPATION: Store Manager, Retail, Student, Mom
  11. 11. What She Wants...
  12. 12. Why She Buys “Beauty is about connection, not competition”
  13. 13. Get And Leverage Consumer Insights • Find ad tech partners that can provide audience analysis • Monitor your social feeds and find the common threads that can inform better experiences • Develop creative and offer variations that test theories about what and why they are buying
  14. 14. #3 Understand The Ecosystem
  15. 15. Learn the ecosystem
  16. 16. Understand Where They Fit
  17. 17. Find The Shortest Path To Your Audience
  18. 18. Engage Marketing Partners That Add Real Value • Learn the questions to ask to determine what’s different • Avoid engaging multiple ad partners in the same space unless for the sake of A/B testing • Understand the value that they add for the consumer as well as the advertiser
  19. 19. #4 Embrace Risk
  20. 20. The laws of physics can and do change at the whim of the biggest marketing platforms
  21. 21. Don’t bet 70% of your conversions on the assumption of a stable marketing environment
  22. 22. Manage Risk For Growth “The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that is changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks”
  23. 23. It’s Not About Throwing Money At The Problem Offer Audience Channel Creative Device
  24. 24. Every Impression Is An Opportunity To Test Element Description Learning Objectives Image • Close-up hand/ nail • Close-up nail w/ product shot • Beauty Product shot • Polish product shot • Which image type has the highest CTR (and CVR)? • Which primary image colors have the highest CTR (and CVR)? Copy • Early access • Fashion/ fast fashion • Discovery • Award winner/ brand building • Value • Which copy messaging has the highest CTR (and CVR)? • Does the success of different marketing messages vary by age group? Age • 20-24 • 25-29 • 30-34 • 35-39 • Which age group has the highest CTR? • Which age group has the highest CVR? • Are there ages that click but don’t convert (click-happy, expensive)? Demographic • Keywords around nail polish brands • Keywords around beauty brands • Keywords around fashion brands • Affinity analysis after we determine who’s converting/ what’s effective • How do reach vs. similarity lookalikes compare? • Does branded targeting work? • Does non-branded, more specific keyword targeting work? • Of nail polish, general beauty, cosmetics, and fashion targeting, what is and isn’t working? • How do we scale effective niche audiences? Bidding Strategy • Yield • CPA • Which of yield and CPA optimization works best for Julep ads? • Are there audiences that respond better to the different bidding strategies?
  25. 25. Set An Expectation For Every Test Expected Cost ÷ (Total Visibility * Expected Response Rate ) = Cost Per Engagement
  26. 26. Sometimes You Just Have To Take The Bet
  27. 27. Reduce Dependency Through Diverse Growth
  28. 28. Build And Scale A Diverse Marketing Plan • Enforce testing structures at every level of the planning process • Develop proxies for unknown channels and promotions to see if they make sense • Avoid over-dependency on any one partner / channel
  29. 29. ZERO TO SIXTY 1. Data comes first – TRACK EVERYTHING 2. Understand your customer – WHO AND WHY 3. Learn the ecosystem – AND SIMPLIFY IT 4. Embrace Risk– DIVERSIFY AND EXPAND
  30. 30. Use Code SICJULEP for 25% off next 48 hours at Julep.com ©2013 Confidential. Do not distribute. All rights reserved. @julepmaven

Notas do Editor

  • <who we are>

    Julep is a local startup here in Seattle that is on the way to a $1B full stack beauty brand, launching 300 + products/year, 10X what typical beauty brands are launching. We believe that beauty is about connection, not competition, and we focus a lot of energy on using new technologies and customer engagement to help make the brand better and more social.
    I’ve been at Julep for almost a year and a half, background in media and performance advertising.

    <Intro story>
    What are you doing to do? “
    “What am I going to do about what?” I reply.

    Turns out, we had a problem.

    Then, add on top of that, a major algorithm change on one of the platforms - wiped out a lot of the learnings and insights we’d made. And so we were back to zero.
  • <slide> Now, you can probably guess, we’re all fine, I don’t get to stand up here and tell the story if it doesn’t work out.

    Today we’re going to talk about how Julep got from there to here – from zero customer acquisition, to here, and beyond, and talk about the underlying rules and the aggressive innovation that helped us build back up from zero and enable the phenomenal growth that we’ve been able to achieve since then.

    <poll audience>

    <who from agency, raise your hand>

    <In-house marketer, raise your hand>

    <publisher or media partners? >

  • For those of you who are in customer acquisition or performance marketing, it can probably seem totally chaotic. Performance campaigns don’t follow the same rules that other marketing campaigns follow.

    Whereas a brand campaign has a set timeline, with a flowchart, a set of partners, and a set of activities, which is built out far in advance and executed to the letter, performance marketing plans are only a “plan” until they meet the brutal reality of the marketplace.

    Once you’re in there, you have to change, flex, adjust, and improvise.

    But even in that chaotic environment, there are some rules you can apply to reduce and manage the frenzy and build something that scales.

  • It comes down to four areas:

    Track everything
    Understand your customer
    Learn the ecosystem
    Take and manage risk
  • #1 Data Comes First

    Normally, any marketing conversation starts with the customer.

    But for performance marketing and customer acquisition, the tactical knowledge doesn’t come from a strategic planner or a focus group.

    It comes from the constant feedback loop from your marketing efforts.
  • Two critical reasons to you need to do this

    Visibility – you must be able to see

    Credibility – communicating with the business about the impact of acquisition marketing
  • Running a digital marketing campaign is like being in a submarine
  • you’re driving forward with no real visibility into what’s happening.

    Your website has no windows, no portals to look out of and see what’s coming at you – who your customers are, what they’re doing.

    Are they hanging around on the front page? Are they jumping in to a purchase path, getting annoyed, and leaving? Are they stuck in checkout?
  • The tracking systems give you the pings and patterns that together form a hazy image of consumer behavior –

    their response to your ads,
    their reaction to your landing pages,
    their responses to your Facebook posts,
    Their reactions to your blog posts.

    You need to build that stream of data on the customer and start to parse it into the shapes that give it meaning.
  • Second - Credibility.

    More than any other part of the marketing organization, your credibility with the business hinges on your ability to communicate measurable outcomes

    Put another way: if your company relies at all on performance marketing and customer acquisition to drive business growth, there is going to be scrutiny from the financial side of the house that normal marketing groups don’t have to endure.

    What happens if you don’t have tracking in order?

    Walk into your CFO’s office: 10,000 conversions, reports
  • Here’s how we did it at Julep

    First, pick a platform

    Remember the whole point of tracking: getting as much as possible of your marketing efforts to be measured under one platform.

    It can be an attribution manager; it can be an ad server; Doesn’t matter what you pick, but there is one universally important attribute you’re looking for. It’s about adoption.
    A less perfect solution that has scale and time in market trumps a brand new, shiny solution that few partners have adopted yet.
    Big publishers are leery of platforms that they aren’t familiar with and it can really limit who you work with if you pick a dark horse.


    -mapped out all the key pages and channels
    -defined the activities that matter (email reg, purchase)
    -partnered with engineering to get it done
    - did some education on the ad and tracking tech so that the team understood importance and how to implement
    Started with the basic stack of actions and then augmented it over time
    Err on the side of track more and use less, rather than the other way around
    You may not know what’s important to the purchase path until you’ve built data stream

  • A few final comments on tracking:

    Even the best platforms have their limitations, no single solution will solve for everything
    this is where you will lose the CFO
    make peace with it
    Figure out which platform is best for optimizing which piece of the puzzle
    Site; ad experience; app
    Don’t try to use DoubleClick to optimize your site. I tried. Bad idea.

    Attribution allocation is a whole other topic. It’s advanced. It may not matter. If you’re not sure, it probably doesn’t matter yet
    Don’t overcomplicate it. walk before you run. There are usually bigger opportunities for optimization elsewhere. Exploit those first
    Any self respecting ad server has some level of basic attribution
    Get a grasp on first vs. last touch and use it directionally
  • Who is she? Who is she really?
    Performance marketers usually start same place as brand – with the “target audience” slide;

    This is just the starting place for performance and ACQ; remember, you have measurement.

    Once you’re live, you don’t have to guess (quite as much);

    Now you’ve got the data streams going; let’s answer some questions:

    There are lots of partners that can help you map this out; either with customer append data; or inferred website data; profile information,

    Don’t expect the audience profiles to match your target audience

    We may learn that the customer we’re getting a response from is not the ephemeral “target customer” that was neatly laid out in our campaign brief.
    Common theme: struggle between the customer you have and the customer you “want”
  • What does she want?  

    This is about measuring the thing she wants by putting different options in front of her,

    We can put a nail color out on social media and tell within an hour whether it will be successful.

    And then deriving some hypotheses around why she is picking the options that she is.

  • Performance marketers tend to be pretty good at the first two parts – identifying the customer with the various ad tech options, and identifying what she wants with A/B offer testing.

    But the area where we don’t do a good job is understanding what she really wants or the “why” behind the what, and I’ll put myself in this category. I think this is because being on the pragmatic side of the marketing spectrum, we’re thinking in reasoning terms. we tend to lean on the benefit side a lot.

    Are we giving her something tangible? Is it unique in the marketplace? Does she understand the value?

    We also tend to be very tactically focused. Is the CTA big enough? Is the ad visible? What if we changed the price by a dollar?

    This is where we need to learn from brand marketing.

    It’s become universally understood that people make emotional decisions and then find the justifications for them afterwards. Anyone who has watched a few episodes of Mad Men has probably experienced a pitch scene where Don Draper points out that the physical product – be it cigarettes or razorblades or a Kodak photo carousel – isn’t actually the point.

    For Julep, this has been about understanding the very deep personal connection women have with the brand and with each other around the brand.

    Jane Park; Maven meet-ups; personal stories-> anticipation about receiving their monthly box, calling their mother or their sister to share what they each got.

  • Now, our job as acquisition marketers is to give her a sample of the brand promise with a tangible offer, but that doesn’t mean we ignore the emotional component.

    In terms of how we turn this into powerful creative at Julep, we call this “finding the I want”. It’s a remarkably easy test – if in the first three seconds of seeing a creative concept, or a headline, or an offer idea, we feel the “I want” – that almost indescribable feeling that registers before you read any fine print or maybe even understand what exactly the thing is.

    This is an example of the “I want” from a recent promotion called “Summer Brights.” We can test the exact same nail colors, same offer, and same promotion, but take away the sandy beach and conversion drops like a rock. Why? Because there is a story in that sandy beach layout that helps her say “I want” -> I want “that beach”.

    I liken this to how we feel about music. We know there is something innate and primal about music that makes us respond subconsciously, emotionally - something beyond the rational.

    We need to tap that through both thoughtful consideration in the up front, at the point of creation, and then measurement of how good that song is though our campaigns, to find the thing that resonates with the customer.

  • Another brand that understands the appeal beyond the product. What’s Corona’s Motto?

    Find your Beach. Corona has only vaguely to do with beaches – they want to sell us beer, but they’ve done a phenomenal job of associating themselves with that emotion.
  • Final comment: when evaluating creative and offers, be honest up front. If you don’t feel like you have a winner, you probably don’t. Winners can be iterated and optimized to make them better, but you can’t iterate a losing idea into a winning execution.

  • Understand the Lumascape

    And then forget 90% of it

    At its core, the Lumascape is just a phone book.

    That’s all it is; It’s not a playbook; it’s not a checklist; It’s not a board game where you have to fill in every square and say “yep I worked with that partner!”

    Understand the lumascape for what it is – a list of everyone in the industry who does something related to marketing;

    it’s more for the VC’s than it is for us.

    your challenge is to figure out whether they need to sit between you and the customer.

  • <example from a the video everywhere conference two years ago>

    This is me, trying to get a handle on the different players in the video space, which is, if possible, even more confusing than other parts of the digital landscape.

    Instead of waiting for the pitch, I just drew – very poorly - the lumascape with ADVERTISER and CONSUMER and then handed them the paper. Got some great results. Made the conversation much much easier for both sides.

  • REMEMBER: There are at the end of the day only two organizations that matter – you, and your customer.

    Start with what the customer would do.

    At julep, we sent out a poll to everyone in the company (which is almost all in the target customer group – women who love beauty) – asked them what apps they use every day.

    We took the top 10 from that list and, if we weren’t working with them already, we went out and worked with the partners directly to see how we could put Julep in front of their audience.

  • Learn the questions you need to ask

    Avoid redundancy without a specific reason

    Try to focus on partners who drive actual consumer value; anyone who doesn’t own their audience runs the risk of being a commodity

    Whatever “ecosystem players” are between you and the consumer had better be giving you (and hopefully the customer) real value. Otherwise they’re just taking your money and your time.
  • Began conversation talking about risk… specifically for us, dependency on a single ad platform in a shifting marketing environment.

    There are two kinds of risk

    Dependency risk


    Growth risk

  • First let’s talk about Dependency Risk

    If you take nothing else from this presentation, remember this:

    “We live in a world where the two biggest powers in the consumer experience can effectively change the {advertising} laws of physics at will.”

    The world’s largest social network, can change their policies, and tomorrow the world will change for marketers.

    World’s largest search engine…. Change policies. World changes for marketers.
  • How do you know if you have dependency risk?

    Pie chart. Bigger than 30%? That’s dependency risk. Imagine 30% of your sales conversions just…. going away.

    There are only two ways to solve for dependency risk: Grow or die

  • Fortunately, growth is kind of our thing.

    <point> Quote… anyone know who that is? Zuckerberg.

    The very definition of Acquisition marketing is growth

    Achieving growth and managing dependency is accomplished by testing – taking controlled, known risks

    Your situation determines how much risk you have to take.

    Large growth needs = more risk. Heavy dependency on a single source means you have to risk more because guess what? You already have risk.

  • Example: Testing frameworks ;

    these can and should be built for each layer of the marketing plan –

    they inform both the way you traffic your campaigns and the speed with which you can optimize them.

    Try to do this after the fact, its often too late. Your creative may not be set up right, or your targeting is bundled together. Do this on the upfront
  • Our out of home pilot example; Running now, in SF

    We were hearing good things about OOH but it seemed pretty far afield for us, so we collected as much info as we could about what was working for other advertisers, and then we made some assumptions.

    “Well, 100,000 people are going to see it, maybe half a percent will respond to the SMS offer, maybe half of those will convert.” So then you take that number and map it back to your costs and now you have a basis for a decision.

    This works for a surprising number of tests from GWP and product placement to TV and events.

    Basically asks, “What is the craziest thing that has to be true for this to work?” If the testing CPC is 5X your current CPC then you had better hope for 5X the conversion rate.

    There are limits to quantifiable risks though. And…

  • Third, sometimes you just have to take the bet.

    TV / big digital advertiser / no brand / demanded an ROAS before committing dollars

    Now one caveat: there’s a difference between placing a bet on an unknown channel with no history, and simply not measuring the outcome. You still measure it.

  • This is the goal: low diversity, followed by expansion into new channels and customer approaches, leads to a highly diverse, highly scalable set of acquisition strategies.

  • Each of these could be a session in and of itself. A lot of these things you are probably already doing to some extent, and while some of them are one-and-done, like everything else in this industry,
    most of them are moving targets

    So, figure out where your organization’s strengths are,

    Think about where you can do better.