If you don’t know of Proof, chances are you’ve probably seen it. It’s the website notification that show how many people have recently bought and are currently shopping.
In March 2017, Proof debuted. In less than 12 months, the company is used on over 10,000 websites.
I spoke with the head of marketing at Proof, Austin Distel, on how they did it. He revealed the seven marketing strategies they used to launch their product.
1. Webinar Beta Launch
Before starting Proof, Distel and his partners ran a membership site teaching online marketing. Their members faced a common problem: increasing their website conversions. When the idea for Proof came to them, they built an MVP (minimum viable product) first and gauged demand. After only a few weeks of testing on their own site, their lead page conversions went from 19% to 42% and purchases doubled.
Now they had tangible results to sell, not hopes. Since they already had a warm audience of potential buyers, a live webinar pitch was the easiest way to measure market demand. They promoted their Thursday live webinar to their email list of about 20,000 and had 200 attend live. The pitch: $997 for the “Founders Plan” which gave buyers a year access to the Premier Proof Plan plus a bonus product “Webinar Bootcamp” valued at $2,997.
From those 200 attendees, 23 bought live. Another 15 bought in the 3 day follow up. Scarcity is one of the biggest drivers of action, so having a hard close on the Sunday night pushed people to take action.
Actionable Insights: Before you go to market, have at least one case study. Even if it’s how the product has worked for you. Then do a beta launch and give your first handful of buyers a major discount (50-80% off annual) plus bonus value on top. Some people are incentivized by discounts, others by bonuses. Combined a great offer with scarcity and you have yourself a winning pitch.
2. Paid Facebook Social Engagement Campaign
Facebook advertising is one of the best channels to acquire leads and customers. If done right, it is incredibly profitable and scalable.
Distel explains: “The beauty of Facebook advertising is the advanced audience targeting. Getting warm audiences is easy. Just tell Facebook to show website visitors ‘Ad A’ and email subscribers ‘Ad B’. The real magic is in Facebook’s lookalike audience. You can upload all your current customers to Facebook and it will go find other Facebook users who are similar and are likely to buy too. We did this for our highest lifetime value customers and our MRR (monthly recurring revenue) increased.”
“When you change the ad creative like the copy and image, you lose all the likes, comments and shares,” says Distel. “So we decided to run a test. No more split testing creative, only audiences.”
Facebook ads have led to over 2,000 purchases in the last 12 months alone.
Actionable Insights: If you are new to Facebook advertising, start with just running ads to warm audiences like recent website visitors and leads. Then when you are ready to spend more, create lookalike audiences of those warm audiences and buyers.
3. Lead page that converts at 73% consistently (template breakdown)
Website traffic doesn’t mean anything if no one who visits buys your stuff. That’s why it’s important to have a responsive site and be very clear at directing them to where you want them to go. Distel shared a landing page he used that collected over 6,000 leads with only 8,250 visitors. That’s a 73% conversion rate.
He revealed why the landing page works so well:
- Simple and straightforward. Your only choice is to opt-in or leave. There’s no navigation to get distracted on your website.
- Reaffirm what they are getting and that it’s free. Most people have already forgot why they clicked and are instantly skeptical.
- Within the title describes not only what they get but who it’s for. This is clear it’s a cheatsheet for digital marketers.
- Beneath the title reads the expected result of using this product. “Landing High Ticket Clients”
- In subtext beneath that is a bit of social proof “used by hundreds” which reaffirms the result again.
- All your attention is drawn to the big orange button.
- Then the bottom section stacks even more social proof with logos and a Facebook comment section with over 500 reviews.
Actionable Insights: A page that doesn’t convert is like a leaky bucket. You put water in but nothing stays. Every 10% lift in conversions counts. How do you get a page to convert at 73%? One percent at a time or you could just follow Austin’s template and start there.
4. Cultivating 1,000 raving fans
“When we launched Proof, we had nearly 1,000 members across 45 countries in our online entrepreneur community,” Distel explains. “One of the deepest desires members had was to close the laptop and meet up in person. That’s when we started to host live events in major cities in the U.S.”
Austin shares a few interesting ways he engaged his audience.
“Every Friday I would do Facebook Lives just to talk with our fans. I’d share advice on how to optimize their ads or landing pages. Now for Proof, we mail out trophies to users who get 60% or higher conversions on their pages. We call it the Conversion Club.”
On Proof’s website you can see recipients of this award along with a case study of their pages.
Actionable Insights: The new moat in business today is a loyal fan base. When you have raving fans, they will stay longer, buy more and even go to war for you. Reward your biggest fans with surprise gifts, awards, and whenever possible do live events.
5. Evergreen bonuses to encourage sign ups
People love bonuses. At Proof, Austin shares they give away bonuses for starting a free trial. Every few months they promote a new bonus. Past bonuses have included a course on Facebook Advertising, a series of recorded interviews with influential marketers, and even bobble heads of the users themselves!
“Yep you heard that right. Bobbleheads. It’s so much fun knowing they are going to have a piece of our company bobbling on their desk everyday reminding them of us,” says Distel.
Actionable Insights: In a world full of noise, how do you stand out? Bonuses are one fun way of doing it! You can also give your bonuses a deadline for added scarcity, without ever closing the offer on your actual product. Ideally, bonuses are high value but inexpensive for you to deliver. Digital products and emotionally-tied products are best.
6. Paid Traffic Equation – The numbers you need to know to scale profitably & predictably
Are you scared to spend even $1 in advertising online? If so, why?
Chances are it’s because you would be gambling. You don’t know with absolute certainty how much you need to spend to get a new lead or customer. When you don’t know your numbers, it becomes a game of spray and pray.
Here’s the good news. Austin Distel and his team have spent over half a million on online advertising and have gotten it down to a science.
The numbers you need to find:
- LTV – Average Lifetime Value (LTV)
- Average amount of money a customer spends with in their lifetime
- EPL – Earnings Per Lead
- Campaign Revenue Gain / Campaign Leads Captured
- CPL – Cost Per Lead
- Campaign Advertising Cost / Campaign Leads
- CAC – Cost to Acquire a Customer
- Campaign Advertising Cost / Campaign Customers Acquired
- EPC – Earnings Per Customer
- Total Revenue Earned / Total Customers Acquired
SaaS companies like Proof, spend up to ¼ of LTV to acquire a user. Let’s say your lifetime value is $1,000, then spend up to $250 to get a customer.
Once you can consistently get under ¼ of LTV, now you want to shorten the time to collect profit. Ideally, get profitable within 30 days.
How do you achieve this? Get them to pay more, faster.
The key is in the upsells. McDonalds does this incredibly well. You think you’re going there just for a hamburger but then the cashier asks, “Would you like fries and a drink with that?”
“Discovering this concept was critical for us as we scaled up our advertising. Advertising can quickly get out of hand if you don’t track your numbers correctly. So it’s part of my team’s morning routine to track all our numbers in a spreadsheet and make sure we’re in the green. When ad campaigns don’t stay in KPI, we adjust them or cut them. Stay vigilant. Know your numbers,” says Distel.
Actionable Insights: Be willing to spend on advertising to acquire your customers. Distel suggests spending up to 1/4th of your customer’s LTV. Get acquisition costs below that number, then find ways to shorten the payback period to less than 30 days. One way to do this is through upsells after checkout. When this equation is executed correctly, you can scale profitably and predictably.