If you’re like me, you can’t afford to be spending endless amounts of money to attract people to your website. At some point, the economics of your paid advertising is going to catch up with you. It’s generally when you realise that the cost to acquire a new customer is going to send you broke that you start questioning everything.
It’s at this point you wonder to yourself what everyone else is doing to grow their business. There must be a better way, right? A way that reduces your reliance on paid advertising channels and helps you build compounding growth.
“Of course!” you say, “Social media. I’ll get on Instagram!”
Then you spend months posting glamorous pictures of your products to Instagram, building up an audience and investing your time only to realise the same thing you realised about paid advertising: it’s going to catch up with you.
This time you’ve handed over your entire marketing database to a third party, and greedy Mark Zuckerberg is now making money off your hard work. Yes, that’s right. Mark and his gang over at Facebook are now flogging off your competitors' products directly to the audience you helped build on his platform!
So there must be a better way. And trust me there is. I’m going to show you.
It’s all in this hand-drawn diagram below:
Marketers call the main part of this a “lead magnet” and all sorts of creepy words like they are trying to trap a bunch of unsuspecting victims. But this isn’t what you’re going to do at all.
I call it a growth loop. It’s a way of growing your marketing database continuously over time so you can take ownership of your audience, and have a continuous stream of new customers.
How will they find you?
In the example above I’ve used a business that sells affordable, fashion-forward sunglasses online. For the sake of this lesson, we’ll call this business Sunglow. Each year Sunglow produces a yearly “look-book” that covers fashion trends in women's sunglasses. But it’s unlikely their audience is going to directly search for (and find) this content. Instead, they’re going to be searching the web for all sorts of indirectly related queries like “women’s sunglasses trends 2020” or browsing Instagram or Pinterest for the latest styles.
Your main goal is to show up for what people are searching for in the places they are searching. And you’re not going to pay a cent for this privilege. To do this you’re going to produce a lot of content that matches these searches. I’m not talking about junk content here, I’m talking about really useful and engaging content that is inspired by the same motivation you used to start your business.
Don’t ask them to marry you on the first date
Almost every website prompts you with a horrible popover message asking you to subscribe to their newsletter. This is literally like asking someone to marry you on the first date.
In our growth loop, we’re going to have absolutely no goal when they turn up to our website. Nothing. No coupon. No offer. Nothing. All we want them to do is read and enjoy the article on Popular Sunglasses for Women in 2020. If they then go on to browse our website and make a purchase - great! If they don’t, who cares. All we want is a cookie. Yum, yum.
Using cookies, we’re going to grow our anonymous audience. I’d encourage you to use the Facebook ad pixel, the Google remarketing code and the Ortto tracking code. This will allow you to retarget the audience who reads this content on various platforms later.
Next, we’re going to create some compelling retargeting ads which will start showing up after someone reads the article. In these ads we’re not going to peddle our product, we’re going to offer related content that this anonymous audience member is interested in.
This is our 2020 women’s sunglasses lookbook.
(Yes, retargeting ads cost money. But they’re literally 100th of the cost of most direct paid advertising and we can make the economics work!)
These ads will:
build brand recognition;
make sure we’re only paying to get the attention of people interested in our product;
allow us to stay top of mind; and
help us convert our anonymous audience into a known audience so we can send them emails.
Building our audience
When the anonymous audience member clicks on one of our retargeting ads we want to show them content directly related to the ad they just clicked. Our landing page needs to get right to the point and not appear too salesy - and this should be easy because we’re still not trying to sell them anything.
All we’re asking for in exchange for them downloading our look-book is the opportunity to send them more great content by email. It’s this content that we will use to build a relationship.
Converting your audience to customers
Enter Ortto. We now set up a journey that will automatically send them a copy of the look-book by email after they fill in the form on our landing page.
Since we now have permission to email over time we can send a stream of related content. Emails keeping them informed of our latest fashion-forward sunglasses for example.
Over time and with the right content we will convert our subscribers into buyers and our buyers into repeat buyers.
Why it’s called a loop
So why do I call it a growth loop? Because once you have success turning anonymous browsers into buyers you can use lookalike audiences on Facebook and Google to go and find more people just like the people in your audience.
Your growth loops will give you more confidence to use paid advertising wisely knowing that anyone that enters your growth loop will have a high chance of converting into a paying customer.
And you’ll be continuously building your audience. One that you own.
Some final thoughts
I’m not saying you shouldn’t invest and have a presence on a wide variety of channels like Instagram. I’m saying that you should own your audience which still means having a mailing list.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with growing through paid advertising if you can make the economics work. If you are - good on you! Especially if you’re advertising to get more people into your growth loop!
Absolutely nothing I say or write about will make up for a poor product or customer experience so make sure these are absolutely rock-solid before worrying about investing in growth loops.