Marketing your Website for $99

This is a test. The first of many… and I wanted to share it with you, because the material is valuable.

Recently I revamped this website and found myself in a position where I was ready to start to invest in some marketing to drive traffic and generate leads and subscribers. You see, I work all day at The Hauser Design Group where we focus on premium website development. I also write, and work with a small group of clients in a different capacity: as a consultant that helps website owners turn window shoppers & tire kickers into paying customers.

I’m ready to attract a few new customers that meet certain criteria.

Since I have new goals for the new site, I’ll share how I start to develop a marketing initiative, and then improve it with each subsequent round to make it more and more effective. There are about a billion “courses” on this subject, so we are going to keep it SUPER SIMPLE.

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Prerequisites:

  • We are going to assume that you have a good product or service.

  • We are going to assume that you have some sort of website.

  • We are going to assume that your positioning and messaging are clear.

Note: NONE of these need to be perfect, they just need to be present. We’re going to improve everything with each round that we complete. The most important thing right now is to just get started!

(My product is a 1-hour consulting call for $150. It helps people get on the right path while providing direction and guidance towards fixing their website, their business, or in some cases - both.)

If you have these things, then you need to set some goals. Goals are necessary to measure success or failure. Mine are as follows, but make sure to define your own.

Goals:

  • I want to book 2 consulting calls @ $150/hr

  • Gain 15 email subscribers

  • Test my new homepage and see how it performs

  • Acquire clients and subscribers that are out of state

The consulting calls will cover my cost and generate profit. The new subscribers will allow me to increase my audience (currently at 200 email subscribers) and nurture future work. Since I just revamped my website I want to see if my homepage is actually effective. Oh, and I love meeting with customers in person, but it can be time consuming. If I consult people that are hours away, the expectation for in-person meetings is removed, saving me loads of windshield time. Video conferencing is so much more efficient, and it’s important to sign on new clients that will help me continue to live the life I want.

Next, we’ll want to set some limitations. This, combined with our goals, will help clearly define our first round of ads & testing.

Limitations:

  • The total budget must not exceed $99

  • This round will last 7 days

  • Business from referrals and organic traffic will not count toward goals

  • I will run 3 ads with the same images, but different text

  • This round will remain super simple (no retargeting, no heatmapping, no A/B testing)

  • My price will remain $150/hr

You’re asking the logical question: why were these limitations selected?

The small budget will force me to think very, very carefully about everything I’m doing. It will also make this series accessible to everyone.

The 7 day time frame is a good match for the small budget. Plus, I want to learn more about my site quickly.

Obviously the day-to-day business can’t count towards my new goals.

I want to learn what text resonates best with my audience (we’ll test different images later).

Starting simple is always the best way to get the ball rolling. Just. Start. Evaluate. Improve. Repeat.

I do not want to reduce my rate. Offering an introductory rate could condition new customers into thinking that the rate is negotiable, or reduced periodically. Not the case. Keeping it at $150/hr will also help filter out people that are not ready to invest in themselves or their business. Not to mention pricing says a lot about the value of a product.

Think about it: if you saw two toasters priced at $9 and $99, which toaster would you think is “better”? Which would you guess would last the longest?

Be honest.

The Plan:

The plan is set and we’re ready to begin! Since the budget is so small, it makes sense to try to spend all of it on ads and traffic. This means setting up everything in house. Cool.

I set the goal of selling two 1-hour consulting calls, because this will result in $300 gross profit, giving me a ROAS (Return On Ad Spend) of about 3 to 1, or 300%.

300 / 99 = 3.03 * 100 = 303%

Note that this is different than the calculation for ROI.

ROAS is calculated by taking the amount of money generated and dividing it by the amount of money spent over a given period of time and multiplying by 100. So if your company spends $5,000 on ads in January, and generates $10,000 in revenue, that’s an ROAS of 200%.

10,000 / 5,000 = 2 * 100 = 200%

In this example, for every $1 spent on ads, you would create $2 in revenue.

Marketing is not an expense unless it’s not working. If it costs you $1 to make $2, then you need to do that as many times as you can, to generate as much as you can handle. This is simply the cost of doing business.

The Ads:

  • Design a thumb-stopper - something that grabs attention and causes someone to stop scrolling

  • Use relevant text and images for a high relevance score with Facebook so our ad is favored

  • Present a clear value proposition

  • Present a clear call to action

I decided to use a stock image so we can still use the full $99 to promote the ads. I also want to appeal to people that are frustrated, that are looking for a trusted partner. This image was free on Pixabay, and this gal was clearly not amused…

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I used Photoshop to edit this image so that it had a better chance of being a thumb-stopper, placing our gal on “Facebook Blue” and making her shirt a complimentary orange so that she really popped out. (There are free online tools like Photopea that allow you to make similar edits.) The white icons further indicate frustration and attract attention, and adding a bit of contrast and brightness makes everything more vibrant.

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All ads will use this same image so that we can find the text that resonates best with our audience.

#1 - Frustrated your website isn’t converting?
It could be your design, code, copy or content. I’ll help you 1-on-1. Let’s figure out what the problems are and fix them.

#2 - Embarrassed by your website?
It doesn't have to be this way. I’ll review it with you 1-on-1. Let's discuss how to make it better - fast!

#3 - Want more website sales?
Competition is high. Ads are expensive. You need an experienced partner and 1-on-1 attention to succeed online.

All 3 of these ads focus on wants and emotion, and they use the phrase “1-on-1” to let people know this isn’t some huge corporation where their account will be just a number. I thought about adding a sense of urgency or exclusivity with the phrase “I’m taking on 2 more clients this month”… but… I opted to keep things nice and short for this round.

Overall the text is brief and direct, so I feel good and I’m ready to test.

The Audience:

We’re going to create a new Saved Audience by going into Facebook Ads Manager. We’re looking to find entrepreneurs, people already running a business, or individuals working as a marketing manager for a company that could use some help.

  • I am only targeting men & women in Wisconsin between 30 and 60 years old

  • We’re looking for people that are interested in certain popular website platforms like WordPress, BigCommerce, Shopify, Magento - even Joomla and Drupal, or those that would use them and have job titles like Website Editor

  • We’re EXCLUDING people that are website designers and developers. I feel these people would be less likely to hire a consultant like myself.

EDIT: after creating this audience the size is estimated to be below 1,000. I’m not sure that’s completely accurate, but I’m going to add 4 more neighboring states to be safe. My final audience looks like this:

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My Campaign & Ad Set summary looked like this:

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Here is an example of one of the ads - not bad. You know you would click on that! ;)

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The Results:

I ran my ads from Thursday Aug 8th to Wednesday Aug 14th between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. to try to get in front of people that were either at work, or working on a small business or side hustle before or after hours.

I started them on a Thursday not because it was some clever strategic move - but because I needed to start collecting data before I left for a weekend RV trip with some buddies from high school. Work is important, but man - take time to do stuff!

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I thought I would be getting text messages all weekend and requests for consulting calls. I thought I would be getting all sorts of traffic to my website. I thought that I would be tripling my investment. After all… marketing is only an expense if it isn’t working, right?

Well… this was an expense.

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I am sharing this with you because it was a huge failure, and I can’t stand when people only share the highlights. That’s not real life! I did not hit any of my goals. My ad ranking was terrible, and I quickly realized several things that I did wrong. This is what’s funny though:

In my attempt to keep everything “super simple”, I skipped over so many best practices that I always incorporate for my clients. My results show why we can’t cut corners. They also show that while we can keep things simple, we still need to be thorough.

Major things I did wrong that we can all learn from:

  1. Some people don’t want to click on a link to take them off of Facebook. I should have optimized my Facebook page so that it would have a chance of getting them to contact me.

  2. Even though I did get 42 landing page views, I have no idea what those people did when they got to my website. Did they click on “Book a Call” and then get cold feet because the cost? Did they bounce immediately? Did they read anything on the page? Did they click on any of my blogs articles, or top nav links? I have no idea…

  3. Nothing about my ad was branded to me - so none of those 11,000+ impressions did anything to build brand awareness.

  4. My Quality Ranking and Engagement Rate Ranking were very low. Facebook is saying that my ads are almost at the bottom of the barrel for people competing for similar audiences.

  5. My landing page (which is my homepage) does not match the image that I used in my ad in any way. That gal isn’t present on any of my pages, and this could be jarring when someone hit my site.

Was there anything to gain?

  1. Well absolutely - the first thing that we learned is that while we can keep it simple, we still need to be thorough and do a better job of preparing what we’re showing and saying. We need to properly prepare the places where interested people may land (like a Facebook page or landing page on the website).

  2. Since I have a Facebook pixel installed, there is a chance that we can remarket to the people that at least showed some sort of interest in our ad this time around.

  3. In the past, 45 people landing on my site would typically result in a consulting call request - however, past traffic primarily came from my Shopify Experts listing. Since my positive reviews are so prominent, and since those people associate me with a service they are already using… perhaps there was some level of authority, reassurance or trust that they felt that the cold traffic from my ads did not?

I need to create a better experience that is more tailored for people when they land. This is going to be tricky because our ads will need to be more specific, and our landing page (NOT just a generic homepage moving forward) will need to show a lot in a very small amount of time in a way that is super easy to consume. Yeah, this is big brain time.

Next Steps:

Here’s the deal - I knew this was going to be a process, but like I said in my attempt to keep everything super simple I skipped over a lot of things that I would typically do for customers. So, we’re going to go through those in subsequent articles, videos and tests.

At the very least I now have a baseline and you know what - I’m glad my baseline sucks!

Usually when people contact me it’s because they have seen similar results, so if I had created a simple test like this and got massive traffic and exceeded all of my goals, that just wouldn’t be realistic. This is going to allow me to show you all how I turn this around, and all of the little tools, techniques and steps that we take to get there. I’ll keep sharing successes and failures all along the way.

A new YouTube Playlist for this series of tests can be seen here.

For now, I need to take a step back and figure out what my top priority is.

What’s next? Well… time to think a bit and figure that out, then move on to our next test.

Make sure to sign up for email updates as I continue to build an audience.

🍻  Cheers, - AJ

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Interested in working together? Sounds great!

I help website owners like you turn window shoppers & tire kickers into paying customers. I’m also a partner and Senior Design Lead at The Hauser Design Group where we focus exclusively on premium website development.

AJ Hauser