The Global VC

Marketing Hell Week January 2017 – Day 4 Recap

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500 Global Team

500 Global Team







What is Marketing Hell Week?

MHW is Growth Marketing 101 Bootcamp 500Startups puts together for every one of their seed stage cohorts. The event is also livestreamed free.

Join us for Sales Hell on March 1-2, 2017 here:

Below are notes on what’s in the talks and some key takeaways written by Tyler Tate, founder of Crema. If you found the talks useful we would appreciate it if you shared them with your friends!


Adwords with Soso Sazesh  

Soso Sazesh, Founder and CEO at Growth Pilots talks about:

  • How to get LTV > CPA to hold true at scale
  • Predicting challenges your startups will face
  • Different ways to show ads across a dozen channels to test and optimize

Soso Sazesh, founder of Growth Pilots, talked about advertising opportunities across Google’s various properties, including AdWords, Google Display Network, YouTube, and Gmail. He opened with a quick primer to paid acquisition.

The cost of acquisition (CPA) is the one and only variable over which you have immediate control in paid acquisition. LTV and market size (the reach of your target audience) are more or less fixed (in the short term, at least). The goal is to get LTV to be (much) larger than CPA, and for that ratio to hold at scale, which is challenging, because there are diminishing returns. It can be especially tricky for startups: you may not know your LTV, established companies may be placing irrationally high bids on top keywords (to maintain their position of dominance), and your market may be nascent (e.g. there were hardly any searches for “ride sharing” a few years ago).

Use conversion tracking!

A common pitfall for companies using AdWords is to not use conversion tracking, or not use it properly. Conversion tracking is how you (and Google) measure the effectiveness of your ads. Without it, you won’t know what your CPA is. Make sure you get this right.


Here’s how Google AdWords works from a 50k foot view: * Advertisers choose which searches trigger their ads via keywords * Advertisers pay for each click on their ad * There is a finite number of searches for a given keyword * The goal is finding as many keywords as possible that are profitable

A Google AdWords campaign contains multiple ad groups. Each of those ad groups can contain multiple keywords and ads. That said, Soso recommends having just one ad creative per ad group, so that you can have full control over which ad is shown (rather than allow Google to auto-optimize this).


Keywords are words or phrases you choose to bid on, and correspond to what your potential customers are typing into Google. Remember that you choose keywords, but people think and type in search terms. Try to think like a customer when you’re brainstorming keyword themes. You could also use Google Keyword Planner, SEMRush, Spyfu to help. Categorize themes by level of intent (e.g. “what is email marketing” does not carry an intent to buy, whereas “best email marketing software” implies they’re comparing tools and wanting to purchase one). Don’t ignore branded keywords and competitor keywords — you can potentially get a lot of mileage out of these.

Match Types

Match types let you control which search terms map to your keywords. Here are the types: * Broad: email marketing software * Broad modified: +email +marketing +software * Phrase: “email marketing software” * Exact: [email marketing software]

Soso’s pro tip here was to use the broad modified match type to figure out what keyword combinations perform best, then move those high-performing keyword combinations to an exact match and pause the broad modified keywords. The CPC cost will probably be slightly higher, but overall you save because the conversion is higher and you’re not throwing away money on underperforming keyword combinations.

Where to Optimize

You’ll adjust keywords, bids, budgets, and ad copy to control your campaign. The “Search Term Report” will tell you what search terms people actually searched for to trigger your keywords. This is the basis of keyword expansion and how you discover irrelevant keywords that you may want to negate. Use thresholds/rules to determine what you pay attention to (e.g. filter out keywords with few impressions).

Quality Score

Google will assign a quality score of 1-10 to each keyword based on the relevance of a keyword with the associated ad and landing page, and taking into account the expected click through rate. This quality score is a proxy for the quality of the end to end user experience, and it affects ad position and the amount you pay per click.

The Two-Step AdWords Auction

Your ad position for a given query is determined by multiplying your quality score for a given keyword multiplied by the CPC bid. Cost per click, on the other hand, is determined by the bid and quality score of your next best competitor.

Bid & Budget Optimization

You set a max CPC bid per keyword, but that doesn’t mean you pay the full bid each time. It’s an auction system like eBay.

It’s counterintuitive, but you should control your budget for a campaign by optimizing the bid, not by setting a budget cap. If you’re hitting a budget cap, it means you’re bidding too high. Just reduce your bid and you’ll get more conversion for the same price. Relatedly, use accelerated ad delivery to ensure you’re getting every possible impression.

Google Display Network

Publishers show GDN ads on their websites, and there are billions of daily impressions. The traffic from it tends to be cheap, but low quality. Because ads are repeatedly shown to the same people, “ad fatigue” is fairly high — you need to be constantly refreshing your ad creatives, which can take a lot of work.


There are several ways you can advertise on GDN: * Remarketing. You can put a remarking pixel on your website so that GDN knows who has visited your website but not converted. You can then advertise to those people via GDN. * Lookalike. You could also create a lookalike audience based on the people who have visited your website. * Placements. You can also select “placements” — publications on the web — that you’d like your ad to appear on. * Keywords for contextual targeting. You can enter keywords and Google will show your ad on pages relevant to those keywords.

YouTube TrueView

On YouTube you can pay for plays. You only get charged when someone watches at least 30 seconds of the video. There’s no free lunch though — if you have a low watch rate it will just translate into a higher CPM.

Gmail Ads

Gmail Ads offers some unique opportunities, like being able to show an ad that looks deceptively like an email, targeting users who receive emails from certain domains (such as from your competitors), or target a list of email addresses.



Referral Marketing with Rachel Barge

Rachel Barge, Product Marketing at A3 Labs talks about:

  • How to create a referral acquisition strategy
  • The 4 referral motivations your users can have
  • How to create community, test promotions, and empower your users

Rachel Barge, who grew referrals at Yerdle 100x in a year, coached us on how to cultivate customer referrals. Rachel invited us to check out Ivan Kirigin’s talk on 27 Things Your Referral Program Needs To Win, but Rachel’s perspective is driven by her experience at Yerdle.

She grew referrals at Yerdle by building a community. Talking to them, understanding them, and giving them what they want. No bots. No hacks. But actually talking to them.

Do your customers like your product? If your users don’t LOVE your product, don’t bother with a referral program. If you track Net Promoter Score, 50+ is a good threshold.

Referral motivations

Most people automatically assume a transactional motivation, but there can be other motivations, too. Like “pro social,” a desire to help someone else. Or “identity,” a desire to seen as cool. Or “customer journey” – it’s just a core part of the product. The best referral programs probably have all three. Scarcity could also be used as a motivator.

How to getting started

  1. Talk to customers. The first thing we’re going to do is talk to our customer. On the phone. At a coffee shop. You need to become an anthropologist and study your customer species in the wild. Try to figure out what they love about your product and what their motivation is when you share you with friends.
  2. Get an MVP out the door.
  3. Talk to customers AGAIN.
  4. Create a community. Facilitate communication between members. Figure out what they need and make it happen for them.
  5. Find the leaders in the community and empower them.
  6. Test promotions. Figure out what the biggest friction point is for customers, and then offer a promotion that makes a dent in that friction point (free shipping, for example).
  7. Don’t overdo it. It can be overwhelming.


  • It’s probably best to build your referral program in-house, rather than using a third party tool. You have to integrate with your own systems so tightly anyway.
  • Rachel recommends using Delighted for gathering NPS scores — there’s even a Slack bot that will post the responses into Slack, so you can see customer feedback as it comes in.
  • Sean Ellis has a survey template that asks questions similar to NPS, but that can help you figure out what language.
  • Maitre is a tool that can do waitlists.


Remarketing 101 with John Hamilton

John Hamilton, GM at IdentityLink talks about:

– What is re-marketing; why it’s valuable; how to get started/manage/optimize

– Get started: place pixel; GTM; Vendors

– Manage: Define Metrics (CPA, ROAS, Clicks); Customer profile and value/target CPA; Attribution; Timeframe

– Optimization: Frequency; Recency; Bid; Additional Targeting (time of day)

John Hamilton, General Manager at Live Ramp, showed us how to do retargeting campaigns using Facebook. The bottom line: they’re easy and effective. Everyone should be doing them!

“Retargeting” is simply reaching out to people you already know, who have expressed at least a notional interest in your product.

It could be people who have visited your site, searched for your product, downloaded your app, signed up for a newsletter, watched your video on YouTube, or have otherwise raised their hand in some way — they’ve shown intent. It makes sense to keep targeting them, because your clickthrough rate and conversation rate will be much higher for a retargeted audience.

Remember that: 1. Marking is Math. It’s all about knowing your allowable cost per acquisition and backing out your marketing efforts from there. 2. Nearly every company should be using retargeting or remarketing as part of their user acquisition strategy. 3. Retargeting is easy to get rolling — it doesn’t take a lot of effort

There are several venues you could use for retargeting campaigns: Facebook, Twitter, Google Display Network, AdRoll, LiveRamp (John’s company). But by far the easiest is Facebook, so start there.

Getting Started with Facebook Retargeting

A retargeting campaign on Facebook (especially in the newsfeed) will be far better than any other campaign you will run. It’s super easy to get started: 1. Create a custom audience 2. Select “anybody who visits your website” 3. Bam!

Managing the Campaign

  • How long after a person visits your website do you want to advertise to them? The first 7 days since they indicated intent is good — beyond that is less good.
  • Segment your audience into groups that may have different target CPAs (Think about creating multiple campaigns, one for each segment. You could segment by the page(s) on your site they visit, for instance.)
  • Every aspect of the ad creative matters – imagery and copy are super important.
  • How complicated does your campaign need to be? Can it be non-dynamic (i.e. one ad fits all), or should it be dynamic (i.e. adjust the ad creative according to the individual person)? Facebook’s Dynamic Product Ads lets you connect a product feed, which you can use in conjunction with user metadata passed through the Facebook pixel to show personalized ad creatives.
  • Optimize your campaign using these levers: frequency (how many times should a user see your ad), recency (e.g. within first 7 days), bid, other targeting, like time of day (why show ads between 1am – 4am, for instance)


Want to get the most out of your Facebook Ads?  Massimo Chieruzzi from AdEspresso talks about:

  • How to get the most out of your Facebook ads


Influencer Marketing with Hannah Russin and Monica O’Hara

Hannah Russin (Growth Marketing Consultant. Director of Scalability & Growth at Datascore.) and Monica Ohara, (Growth Marketing for Startups. CEO & Co-Founder of DataScore) talks about:

  • The power of Influencers and benefits of working with them
  • How to identify and attract influencers to work with you
  • What to measure and amplify after the influencer promotes your product


Click here for Day 5’s recap!


500 Global Team

500 Global Team