VIDEO: WordStream’s Larry Kim on Paid Social ‘Super Remarketing’ — #SocialPro Interview
Raise your hand if you’d jump on Larry Kim‘s pyramid scheme if given the chance. I know I would. I wouldn’t even need to know what it was about to trust that it was a gold mine (and that it probably wasn’t all that scheme-y).
It turns out that the WordStream founder’s pyramid scheme is a real thing, and it’s not even shady! It’s just a memorably scandalous name for a cutting-edge social media advertising tactic. And he’s letting all of us search and social PPC advertisers in on it.
I had a chance to interview Kim in advance of his social hacks presentation at the SocialPro conference taking place today and tomorrow. We jump right in to his uber-powerful paid social advertising tactics that boast 20% to 40% click-through and engagement rates. (If you want a little background on social advertising first, check out WordStream’s Social Ads 101 guide and then jump back here.)
This interview is 20 minutes of action-packed insight on how to reach your target market through Facebook and Twitter — where the competition is low, the cost is low and the ROI is high, if done right.
Love this interview? Subscribe to this blog for updates from the SMX Advanced conference this week.
Virginia: SocialPro is coming up, and you have a solo presentation there on paid social hacks. When I first asked you if you’d chat with me a bit, it was based on conversion hacks you shared at Conversion Conference (read my liveblog coverage of Larry’s 10 CRO hacks here). But you have a whole new set of hacks to share at SocialPro.
Larry: We have a lot of these crazy hacks. We like to try to figure out the secrets.
Virginia: Secrets that you’re willing to share! Every time I hear you speak, I pick up a little bit more. I’m excited to absorb some more of your super powers in social paid advertising today.
Larry: I hope you can make it (to my SocialPro presentation). We’re talking a lot about Facebook and Twitter advertising.
I’m as excited about those two as I was about Google advertising 10 or 15 years ago. It’s so powerful, so transformative, so cheap, there’s not that much competition. It’s pretty remarkable in terms of what you can do compared to how you used to do it, which was not as good.
Virginia: You’ve been talking a lot about unicorns lately. What’s a unicorn ad.
Larry: I use the unicorn analogy in a lot of my content when I talk about CRO or AdWords or SEO. The idea of a unicorn is something really remarkable — like the top one or two percent. My point about these unicorns is they’re so rare and so beautiful, they’re not just a little bit better than everything else, they’re ten or 100 times better than everything else. I want to share some secrets on how to create these unicorns for yourself.
Virginia: At Conversion Conference you said you wrote a program for detecting unicorns. So what’s the formula for creating a unicorn ad?
Larry: WordStream has over 10,000 customers — that’s a good amount of ads that I can scan through programmatically and look for really high click-through rate ads. A couple months ago we did a deep dive on why do some ads have 40% click-through rate as opposed to some ads that have .4% click-through rate? That’s a big difference, like two orders of magnitute, or 100 times difference.
Of the things that stood out among these rare and beautiful unicorn ads, one of them had to do with the keywords. Going after keywords with high commercial intent, as opposed to going after keywords that are very informational in nature.
The other idea was the use of emotional triggers instead of dynamic keyword insertion. Dynamic keyword insertion is very safe. It will get you an above-average ad. But it doesn’t translate to being super remarkable. The ones that were remarkable had emotional triggers like fear or anger or happiness or laughter. They were effective in shocking you or scaring you or exciting you into clicking this thing, even if it ad didn’t include the keyword you were searching for in the headline.
Virginia: In your Conversion Conference presentation you crystallize four voices for ad copy. If you write an ad in the voice of the bearer of bad news, the hero/villain, the comedian or the feel-good friend — give that a try.
Larry: So many companies write ads as though the company is speaking to you. So like, some benefit or feature of the product or services they are offering. A far more effective copywriting technique is to come at it from one of those friend or enemy personas as opposed to the company speaking.
Virginia: You shared a preview of your SocialPro presentation with me. One of the slides is “Larry’s Organic & Paid Social Network Sharing/Posting Pyramid Scheme.” Can you share the pyramid scheme with me?
Larry: The pyramid scheme, it’s totally legal, you won’t get put in jail. It just sounds kind of scheme-y. It has to do with this idea of unicorn detection.
You and I, we both do a lot of blogging. We want to believe that every post we write is a unicorn because we’ve put all our time and effort into it. But in reality, only one or two percent will do really well.
The idea here is, how do you figure out which of your pieces of content are those rare unicorns among the average run-of-the-mill stories. Because in Facebook and Twitter, when you’re (paid) promoting content, you really want to go all-in on your best content, just promoting the ones that have 30 or 40 percent engagement rates because you end up getting tons of free clicks and paying very little for that exposure because people love it so much.
The idea is to audition the content by tweeting it. Tweet out your stories. If something, once in a while, is getting 100 retweets in an hour, then those are probably unicorns, and those are the things that, if they did well organically, will also likely do well in a paid way.
Virginia: A mistake that some companies make is boosting every post they have. You’re saying, use organic posting as the audition, and then find out what your top performers are, and those are the unicorns. Those are the ones you want to blast off into space.
Larry: The worst thing you can do is launch a donkey into space. They can’t withstand the rigors of space travel. You want to go all in on your unicorns. If you have $1000 to spend on posts in a month, and ten posts, the worst thing you can do is equally split the spend among all of your posts. You want to go all-in on you top post and you won’t get just double, you might get ten times the engagement, clicks and conversions.
It’s a bit like the Hunger Games, where they auditioned and had to battle each other out and figure out who will be the victor and only the victor was celebrated in the capitol. So maybe you have ten posts this month. You need to find the victor. Which is the one piece of content that will be promoted and celebrated this month? You have to battle them out in some organic way.
For example, posting them on Twitter, or email marketing — maybe you have email statistics from opens if you’re mailing out your blog posts. This might be an indication that content will do well on social media, because if things do well organically, they tend to also do well in a promoted fashion.
Virginia: It’s a good reminder. We all want to believe that everything we write is great, but we have to be self critical.
Larry: I’ve written over 1600 articles in the last six years. That’s a lot of content. But 50 articles of the 1600 articles produce half the traffic of the million-plus visitors to the WordStream blog. That’s three percent of them producing half the traffic. We’re really looking for those gems. No matter how good you are, I define unicorns on a relative basis. It’s going to be your top 1%. So no matter how good you are, only 1 of 100 is going to be your unicorn.
Virginia: Is this pyramid scheme still viable if you don’t have as many followers as you do. If you’re just starting out or you don’t have much of a following, you might not be able to get as much of a statistical significance.
Larry: What you do is you promote everything with very small budgets, like $5. With $5 on Twitter or Facebook you can get 2,000 or 3,000 ad impressions. That’s a good sample. Even if you have no fans organically, so no means to audition the stuff, you can still audition in a paid way by keeping the budget small. I’d argue that if you have 2,000 impressions and it’s not doing well — you don’t have a 20% or 30% engagement rate, if it’s like half that — then it’s probably not going to make it into outer space. Polling organizations can poll the outcome of a U.S. election based on 1,000 calls or something. Once you have 1,000 or 2,000 people seeing this thing, that’s a pretty good sample size. Very small micro-budgets of testing something out, and then tripling-down on the thing that came up on top.
Virginia: You’ve coined a new term: “super remarketing.” Remarketing is getting content shown again to someone who has been to your site, or been cookied, or are in an audience that you’ve preselected. And earlier in this interview you mentioned that social ads are better than search ads and I’m guessing that one of the reasons you say this is probably super remarketing?
Larry: Yes. This is not an official term, and if you’ve never heard it, it’s because we made it up. But basically why remarket when you can do super remarketing? You probably do remarketing; the conversion rate for these ads is probably 2% to 4% — that’s pretty typical for the industry. That still means that 96% to 98% are not clicking. With super remarketing, rather than remarketing to everyone who visited a certain page or section of your website, you can be more picky.
Instead of remarketing to every one of them, we pick certain behaviors and interests that are aligned with our target buyer. So maybe it’s, we only sell to people who work at Fortune 500 companies. You can actually target for that in Facebook Ads by looking at the size of the company where they’re employed. Or maybe they have certain job titles, like I’m only looking for people who are director and above or college degree education or who are super wealthy or who own a boat or who are leaning left in their political leanings or have an anniversary coming up.
If you can figure out who your target market is — and I hope you would have some idea of who the target market is, otherwise how are you still in business — if you can express that in terms of interests, demographics and behaviors, then overlay those characteristics over the remarketing audience, then that’s very powerful.
You’re not only remarketing to everybody who visited your site, you’re requiring multiple things. You had to A) visit the site and B) have a certain job title or certain interests in certain topics or certain purchasing behavior. By being more picky you can get a lot more yield for a lot smaller spend. You tend to get five times higher click-through rates and conversion rates as opposed to remarketing alone. In online marketing, people get excited about 3% increases or 5% increases, but this is like 300% increase or 500% increase. That’s why I’m calling it super remarketing.
Virginia: As an example of the results that this can yield, can you share a success story. On your own articles you have super remarketed to journalists.
Larry: That’s an example of “super duper remarketing” — it’s a custom list where you know the identity of the people you are trying to target, like if you know their Twitter names or their emails. Then you’re not basing it off of job titles, which is pretty good, but if you absolutely know the ten people or 1,000 people you are looking for, then just upload those names and target those thousands. For one thousand names, the most you could possibly spend is like $10 or $20 because it’s cost per impression and maybe $5 to $10 per thousand impressions.
If you’re targeting this very targeted message to people like journalists if you’re trying to get press coverage, this is a powerful way to get in front of these people and they tend to write about the things that they see.
Virginia: They do, and then you get lots of links, which gives you cross-over SEO value, as well as media mentions, and then you’re a columnist for the Huffington Post.
Larry: We’ve created global news cycles using this technology. Seeding stories to people at CNN and Fox Business, we’ve created global news stories with ten thousand or more press pick-ups, internationalized into 27 languages just by spending these very small remarketing budgets towards targeted lists. It’s pretty powerful stuff. You should look into it.
For Larry’s presentation and more decks from SocialPro, keep an eye out on Marketing Land’s SlideShare tag SocialPro.
If you liked this, there’s lots more great digital marketing content where this came from! Subscribe to our blog for updates from the SMX Advanced conference this week and interviews with top experts in digital marketing year-round.