The SaaS Podcast

How to Grow Your SaaS Startup with Facebook Ads – with Aaron Zakowski [214]

How to Grow Your SaaS Startup with Facebook Ads

How to Grow Your SaaS Startup with Facebook Ads

Aaron Zakowski is the founder of Zammo Digital, a marketing agency that specializes in using Facebook ads to help SaaS companies grow and scale their businesses. His clients include companies such as InVision, Digital Ocean and Treehouse.

Have you struggled to make Facebook ads work for your SaaS business?

Maybe you read every blog post you could about Facebook ads. You identified your target audience and put together great copy and images for your ads.

And then when everything looked good, you put the campaign live. Facebook quickly started eating up your advertising budget, but your investment didn't turn into many leads or sales.

If that's happened to you, then you're not alone. A lot of SaaS companies struggle to make Facebook ads work. And many B2B companies dismiss Facebook ads because it's a B2C platform.

But with the right knowledge, mindset and approach you can use Facebook ads to generate leads and sales for your SaaS business.

In this episode, you're going to learn about the SaaS Scaling Framework for Facebook Ads. After spending millions of dollars and generating nearly a million signups and leads for their SaaS clients, Zammo Digital developed this framework to help them consistently deliver the results that their clients were looking for.

We're going to talk about how to test, optimize and scale your Facebook ads. We'll look at how to identify your target audience, how to clarify your message, how to optimize and automate your ad campaigns and how to scale your SaaS business faster.

I hope you enjoy it.

Trancsript

Read Full Transcript

Omer Khan [0:15]
Welcome to another episode of the SaaS podcast. I'm your host Omer Khan and this is the show where I interview proven founders and industry experts who share their stories, strategies and insights to help you build, launch and grow your SaaS business. In this episode, I talked to Aaron Zakowski. He's the founder of Zammo Digital, a marketing agency that specializes in using Facebook ads to help SaaS companies grow and scale their businesses. His clients include companies such as Envision, Digital Ocean and Treehouse.

Omer Khan [0:49]
So have you struggled to make Facebook ads work for your SaaS business? Maybe you read every blog post, you could about Facebook ads, you identified your target audience, and put together great copy and images for your ads. And then when everything looked good, you put the campaign live, and Facebook quickly started eating up your advertising budget, but your investment didn't turn into many leads or sales. What if that's happened to you, then you're not alone. A lot of SaaS companies struggle to make Facebook ads work. And many B2B companies dismiss Facebook ads because Facebook is a B2C platform, right. But with the right knowledge, mindset and approach, you can use Facebook ads to generate leads and sales for your SaaS business. And in this episode, you're going to learn about the SaaS scaling framework for Facebook ads, after spending millions of dollars and generating nearly a million signups and leads for their SaaS clients. Zammo Digital, developed this framework to help them consistently deliver the results that their clients we're looking forward. We're going to talk about how to test optimize and scale. Your Facebook ads will look at how to identify your target audience, how to clarify your message, how to optimize and automate your ad campaigns, and how to scale your SaaS business faster with Facebook ads. So I hope you enjoy it.

Omer Khan [2:14]
Real quick before we get started. Firstly, don't forget to grab a free copy of the SaaS toolkit, which will tell you about the 21 essential tools that every SaaS business needs, you can download your copy by going to theSaaSpodcast.com. Secondly, enrollment for SaaS club plus is now open. Plus is our online membership and community for new and early stage SaaS founders. So if you need help launching and growing your SaaS business, and you want to connect with other founders around the world, and build recurring revenue faster than plus will help you do just that. Just go to SaaSclub.co to learn more. Okay, let's get on with the interview. Aaron, welcome to the show.

Aaron Zakowski [2:56]
Hey, how you doing happy to be here.

Omer Khan [2:58]
Great, nice. Good to have you. Why we stop by you just telling the audience about Zammo Digital marketing. What do you do? What kind of companies do you help?

Aaron Zakowski [3:07]
Yeah, great. So I run a company called Zammo digital. And essentially, we are a Facebook ads agency focused on helping SaaS companies to grow. So what that means is essentially, you know, we're working with primarily performance focused user acquisition campaigns for B2B SaaS companies mean they are I mean, focus over

Omer Khan [3:26]
And you're based in LA, but you work with companies around the country or around the world.

Aaron Zakowski [3:31]
Yeah, really around the world. I mean, we are based in Los Angeles, but you know, we're a fully remote team and our clients are all over the place.

Omer Khan [3:37]
So how did you get into Facebook advertising?

Aaron Zakowski [3:42]
Yeah, great question. So I mean, short story, short version of it is essentially that I used to be a CPA, was an auditor, Deloitte and financial services for a long time, kind of went from there became the CFO of an ecommerce company discovered in internet, you know, this was back around 2006 got excited about it was doing a bunch of, you know, jack of all trades, internet marketing stuff. And early, early years, I think about 2009 got into Facebook ads had some really good success with it, you know, it's a totally different platform than it is now. But kind of from those early successes kind of got pegged as Facebook ads guy, and it's kind of just kind of grown and blossomed from from that point. And, and in terms of getting into SaaS, specifically for Facebook ads, you know, back around, maybe four or five years ago, I got a call it and nowhere from a guy named Clark Valberg found me on LinkedIn and turned out to be the CEO and founder of InVision, you know, one of the big unicorn SaaS companies of our day right now, Clark hired me to run ads for InVision, I did that for a couple of years, we, you know, get tremendous growth over there, when they were really in their biggest growth stage. And from that primary client, you know, that just kind of got me a lot of doors opened into working with some other great SaaS companies, companies like Digital Ocean, Treehouse, a bunch of other, you know, middle growth stage companies as well, and just kind of grown from there.

Omer Khan [4:54]
Awesome. So let's kind of talk about like, why a SaaS company or founder should think about Facebook ads. And quite often, the most common objections I hear are either number one, I've tried Facebook ads, spent a bunch of money on it, and didn't get anywhere or got a really poor return on my investment. Or secondly, they'll say, you know, I'm a SaaS B2B business. And either Facebook, I don't think it makes sense for me, or I've got no idea how I would target kind of B2B customers on Facebook. So we're going to kind of jump into a lot of that and exactly what people should be doing. But what would you say to people who kind of come up with either of those two objections?

Aaron Zakowski [5:46]
Right. So in terms of, you know, the, I guess, the B2B objective, I mean, to be honest, you know, people are people and pretty much everybody's hanging out on on Facebook, it might be that it's not meant to be a B2B platform. But you know, if the people you're targeting are thinking about business as they are, and you put something helpful in front of them, even when they're not kind of in business mode, you know, they will pay attention to it. All of us are thinking about our jobs and our businesses all the time. And if we're, you know, mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, and something grabs our attention, that's related to work, I'm sure we're all we can look at our own personal behaviors, we can see that we will click on those things could be we don't want to convert right away, but we'll click on it. And if it's interesting, you know, we'll we'll email it to ourselves for later, you know, we'll save it for later. But somehow, when we get into work mode, like well remember that thing. And actually, just a little bit of data that we've seen that that supports that is in terms of the Facebook ads that we run for most of our B2B, SaaS clients, even though most of them tend to be desktop apps that don't really work too well, on mobile. And in many cases, we find that mobile ads work really, really well, which implies that people are scrolling on the mobile when they're not necessarily, you know, in work mode. And yet, they're somehow getting over to a desktop further to make the conversion. And most of the conversion events are actually taking place when desktop.

Omer Khan [6:57]
That's really interesting. I had a conversation somebody the other day, who was kind of in that situation saying, I want to run these Facebook ads. And from what I've already seen, the majority of my traffic is coming on mobile, but my app isn't optimized for mobile. So I should go and basically get that fixed before I run these Facebook ads. And you're saying you have data which just says actually, that not necessarily an obstacle to getting leads through Facebook right now?

Aaron Zakowski [7:28]
Correct. We've had that that same concern from clients we've tried to work with, they'll tell us listen, you know, we understand that mobile has a lot more volume. And it's a cheaper CPM, cheaper impressions on the ads. But you know, we're a desktop app, we don't work on mobile. And, you know, I've kind of convinced people to say, well, let's let us just test it out a little bit and see how it goes. And generally, we can get the conversion cost, you know, way down with a much higher volume, it's much more scalable. Partially, the reason for that is that Facebook has so much more volume of mobile impressions and add space to sell that it's cheaper over there. And I think, you know, partially, you know, and in a lot of business don't think they're going to work on mobile so well, so therefore, they don't buy into it. But the fact is, you know that the CPM cost is way cheaper over there. And, you know, we've got the data to prove across, you know, millions of dollars in ad spend at this point, that the mobile traffic will convert cross-device onto desktop, and in many cases, the digital proof so that and I recommend that anybody that's concerned about that, just, you know, test it and see if that works for them.

Omer Khan [8:22]
And for people who say, you know, I've tried Facebook, and I didn't get the ROI, or I just, it wasn't working for me. What are some of the most, you know, common mistakes that you see people making with Facebook ads?

Aaron Zakowski [8:35]
Yeah, so you know, there's a lot of them, I think Facebook definitely can work for most B2B SaaS companies, I think some of the challenges are, you know, a, it's an ever changing platform, and the algorithms are always being updated. And it's really hard to stay on top of, you know, all the developments and knowing what works best because you know, what worked for us six months or a year ago, isn't necessarily working so well today. So so we have the advantage of running multiple clients, that was similar business models. And we get a sense for what's working right now. And so we could apply those learnings from one client or the client and helps us to stay ahead of the curve. You know, when someone's trying to run that in house, it's a little bit harder, because there's just so many distractions and other advertising platforms they might be running on. So definitely, that the changing platform is one of them, there's a lot of challenges and pricing that people might have. So sometimes, you know, if you're a lower priced SaaS platform, you know, kind of going on a volume play, and you need to get a lower price cost per acquisition, generally, most of the clients we're working with are are trying to get a free trial, signup or a freemium sign up, although some of them are doing demos and other things versus it's a little bit different, I think when you're working with, you know, enterprise type sales model, and we could talk about that as well. But most of the clients we work with are trying to get that free trial or equivalent sign up. And what we're doing is trying to just get as many qualified leads, signing up a trial offer as possible. And so if someone comes to me and says, Hey, we need, you know, sign up to $5-10, you know, that makes me a little bit nervous. And if that's the economics is going to make it work for your company, you know, that's going to be a challenge in many cases. But if you come and you say, Hey, 25 to 50, or sometimes, you know, much more than that as our target cost per acquisition there, that, you know, that's often very achievable. The other thing that a lot of people here and come to us with a misconception is they think they need to do a nurturer campaign first. So they'll target their cold audiences with with content or an E book or some kind of lead magnet like that, and then want to re target to actually get the conversion retargeting the people that visited their website or radio converted on the content. In some industries, that makes a lot of sense, I think when you're dealing with a higher price enterprise type of product that might have an LTV of a customer of you know, 10s of thousands of dollars, you know, that can make sense. I think most of the time when you're looking for a lower price cost for acquisition of let's say, under $100. The Economics get hard when you when you expect him to click, so first click on content with second click on retargeting that already is, you know, the double click and the drop off from the initial audience down to the second retargeting audience is going to keep it with a small audience and, and a higher cost per acquisition. So what we do is we usually do flip that around, and we'll do a cold traffic link straight to our office, you're usually to homepage, and that's one things we love about SaaS is that the homepage is are so well optimized for one primary offer, that homepage usually works as a very effective landing page. And then if someone didn't convert the first time on that offer, then we're going to retarget them, you know, partially just to come back for that offer again, but then partially will start to nurture them again, with content and webinars and other things like that.

Omer Khan [8:35]
That's interesting, really interesting. Okay, so you created a great PDF document, which I'm looking at right now is called the SaaS scaling framework for Facebook ads. And in there, you basically describe a framework that you use to help make Facebook ads work for SaaS companies. And so we're going to go through this and sort of there are three main pillars to the framework, test, optimize and scale. And we're going to dig into each one of these and talk about what's involved, some do's and don'ts. And then at the end of the show, we're going to tell people where they can go to get a copy of this PDF themselves as well.

Aaron Zakowski [12:00]
Sounds good.

Omer Khan [12:01]
So let's start by like, how did you come up with this framework?

Aaron Zakowski [12:06]
Yes, so within the agency, you know, one of the most important things that that I've learned is, it's all about process, you know, if every one of my account managers is kind of doing their own thing, and every client is kind of, you know, we come with a little bit differently than that things don't work as well for the client, or as well for us as an agency. So we built our internal processes in terms of the way that we approach every client campaign that we start to run from the early stages when we're launching and testing through optimization and approving all the way to scaling and trying to get that thing as being profitable as it can be. So we created this, you know, framework is process internal. And then a certain point, you know, we realized there's some conversations that this was something that would be helpful to other people as well. And to be honest, also establishes us kind of, you know, as the experts industry, so we decided to put this out here, and to help the industry and kind of explain to people the best way to have success with Facebook ads for SaaS.

Omer Khan [12:53]
Great, well, let's jump into it. And let's see how much we can learn from you in the next half an hour. so fantastic. Let's talk about the first pillar. So that is test. And within that you talk about three things, number one, identifying your audiences, clarifying your messaging, and iterating on your images. So walk me through that.

Aaron Zakowski [13:16]
Yeah, so so essentially, from the testing phase, you know, the first few weeks or month of any campaign is going to be all about testing, although it's important to also point out that the testing phase should never stop the nature of Facebook ads is that you are putting your ads in front of people, and so your ads are going to burn out. So if you think about it, you know, as compared to let's say, Google AdWords search. So in Google, you know, your ads might last a really long time, because people only see them when they search for it. And so they're not going to see it multiple times. And Facebook, though, you know, we're trying to identify who is our target audience, the people that we're trying to sell to, and we're trying to put this in front of them. So what happens is, as you start to push your budget, frequency goes up, people see your ads, they stopped being as effective. So you always need to be testing new ads to make sure you always have new winners, or else things are going to die out pretty quickly. So in terms of these three areas, you know, of audiences, messaging and images, you know, these are kind of the three most important pieces that you kind of got to get nailed down to the beginning. So the way that we approach testing generally is trying to be as scientific and data focused as possible. So what I mean by that is, you know, whichever these three elements were testing, we make sure that all the other variables are held static at the time. So for example, if we're testing images, we're going to have several ads that are all targeting the same audience with the same copy. And the only variable that changes in that situation is image, we know will follow the same process when we're testing messages, obviously, same audience in image, but all the different ads have have different messaging. And what that does is helps us to be confident that any differences within the performance of those ads is attributed to the variable that we're testing at the time. So at the beginning of a new campaign, you know, we'll run that process for images for messaging, our ad copy, and then the audiences that that we think we should be targeting, you know, usually from our experience, we have a pretty good sense of what we think is going to work. So that gives us a leg up of testing things that you know, we already have a pretty strong hypothesis. But after that testing stage, you know, we've identified what are our best performing audiences what our best performing messaging, and what our best performing images, now we come we combined all those winners. And that should usually put us in a situation where we now have a campaign that they can actually start to work and perform properly, because we, we know what the winners are for all those three variables.

Omer Khan [15:23]
So when you talk about identifying audiences, it sounds like you go through and you sort of test everything. So you sort of come up with audiences based on interests and behaviors. And you're looking at retargeting audiences look alikes, you're doing all of these things, to try and figure out which targeting I guess, is going to be most effective and most profitable.

Aaron Zakowski [15:48]
And ultimately, what we want identify is where are the people hanging out that are you're halfway identify the best to target who are most likely to convert for offer without being too narrow either, because we want to make sure we've got somebody that can scale a little bit. So an audience of you know, 10, 1500 thousand people is usually going to be too small, obviously depends on on the realities of your market, and how broad that market actually is. Obviously, we don't want to be coming large, just for large stake, but better to cast a wider net and let the algorithm optimize and find the right people. Because as your ads run longer, and as the pixel learns, who are the people that are converting the algorithm are optimized for you in order to help find the right people to run your offer?

Omer Khan [16:26]
Got it, tell me a little bit about clarifying the messaging. Like, you know, there's sort of different components to this in terms of, you know, the the headline, the sort of the text you put there, is it really about kind of putting the offer right there in terms of his the product, sign up for it? Is it more about talking about the problem or the benefits? And I know, there's probably no click on answer, because if it was that easy with everyone, it would be kind of succeeding with Facebook ads, but things like just generally like water, like some best practices you go through to sort of clarify the message for the ads.

Aaron Zakowski [17:06]
Sure. So usually, when we're starting off, you know, the first thing we'll do is we'll create this, you know, a Google Doc, which is our brainstorming document. And we'll have our team just kind of you know, what we'll we'll analyze, you know, the company's website and literature and their social presence and just kind of look at everything they're saying about themselves. And then we'll take that information, and we'll create this brainstorming doc, and we'll just throw every piece of content that seems like it might work into this document and and just, you know, then we'll start reading from there, we'll optimize from there and and change things, but we come up with ultimately different styles. So we want to test some copy that's, you know, straight up, you know, sign up for a free trial now, or that kind of just direct call to action copy will want some things give you that I kind of call like, you know, a content style ad, where the ad looks more like native content. So the headline might look like, political blog style headline, right. So rather than administrate call to action or benefit statement, it's, you know, five tips for better, you know, whatever your problem solved, for that men are to use that content still and send them straight to a landing page or homepage, you know, even though it's it kind of implies it or gives the impression you're gonna be going to content, but rather, we'll just send them to homepage anyways, because the homepage was still done, we solve the problem that we hinted that most curiosity style, things tend to do better, because it looks like content, people tend to give it click on it more so higher quickly, just and we usually make a lower cost per click, and often can lead to pretty strong conversions as well, we find that bullet pointing in the the text or the copy above the image tends to work well, we bullet points, some of the features and benefits tend to work really pretty well. And, you know, sometimes longer copy, sometimes it's short copy, you know, we really try to test a bunch of different styles. So but as you said, there's no one size fits all answer over there.

Omer Khan [18:46]
Yeah. And then the next part of the sort of the test pillar is around iterating. On images, and you've kind of already touched on this, I see a lot of ads that kind of just use like really like, kind of crappy stock images here, do those work,

Aaron Zakowski [19:01]
Crappy stock images won't work. However, what I'll say is, there's different approaches. So photos of people tend to work really well, especially, you know, happy smiling, you know, semi attractive people, you know, we're always going to stop and look at that, because it just feels Mark Anak. So. There's also a lot of like, illustrations that we see as well as particularly with like, products, right? Yeah, so we see in SaaS, you know, there's, you know, you see a lot of, you know, a picture of a laptop, or a desktop screen, you know, with a screenshot of the product in there with a little text next to it, it works sometimes sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. So as I put forward ideas, like I just want your audience to realize, like, these are ideas to test, sometimes one style works better for one client, and something else works better for another client. But we definitely test illustrated, you know, graphic design type of things. And we definitely, like just photos with people, usually with no text or no editing of them whatsoever. So that brings you back to the question about stock photography, if our client can provide us with a good photos of their employees, or people wearing, you know, their t shirts, or in their right environment that then fantastic, and we'll use that it usually works really, really well. If not, that's when we go to stock photography, we've got our resources they would go to and you know, some of its just, you know, your, your typical, you know, Pexels and, Unsplash and those types, really popular sites, but we're super selective about the stock photography photography that we go through. So we might go through 1000 photos, and tip for that we're going to actually use in the end, and then we'll make sure you know, we run those by the clients and get those proof. But, you know, we want to make sure that the photos we use look authentic, we don't want your typical, you know, generic looking stock photography, you know, I would be pretty upset if anybody on my team ever, ever tried to use anything like that. But you know, there's a lot of good photography out there that's coming out every day that looks authentic, and, and makes you stop scrolling, because ultimately, the way that I think about these, these variables and elements of Facebook ad is you've got your image, and the job of the image is to get somebody who's kind of like thumbing through their newsfeed to get them to stop scrolling, right, just stop scrolling, pay attention, that's going to get them then once you've got to pay attention, they're gonna read the copy the copies, got to pique their interest and kind of get the curiosity going to what's on the other side of the stat, right, and basically has the role of generating the click. And then once they've clicked the link to the landing page, hopefully it's the landing pages job to convert the user over. So photos are really just about getting people's attention.

Omer Khan [21:21]
And what about video, we're seeing more and more video ads? Is that Do you think that's going to be the future and that the vast majority of ads are going to be video? And that's what people should be doing? Or are we still going to continue to see, you know, just straightforward image ads continue to play an important role and, and convert? Well,

Aaron Zakowski [21:40]
I think what I was going to see both and the reason for that, to a large extent is people want variety. You know, if you saw videos only on Facebook, that would kind of get boring. If you saw images are only that would also get boring. So we need a variety of other things going on. Certainly images are easier to produce than a video. So that definitely gives them an advantage over there. In terms of you know, our processes for iterating. And testing as many new creatives as possible if I had to test a new video, as frequently as we test images, our team is tasked with in our Asana projects that we have, you know, our team has to test 5 to 10 new images or creatives every week for every client, if we had to do that for for video, we would not be able to do that too, so quickly. But video certainly can work. So it's you know, like anything else, it's hitting us sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. It's also about having the right video that's going to work well for you know, communicating your value proposition and grabbing attention for your custom audience. And when we say B2B SaaS is it's a very large range of the type of people that we're trying to sell to, you know, it might be graphic designers, it might be accountants, it might be project managers, and each one of those people will have a different type of mentality that will relate to different type of content in different ways. Yeah,

Omer Khan [22:48]
yeah. Okay, let's wrap up on the the testing pillar. And so just to kind of recap this the sort of a three step sort of testing process that you go through with each new client, in terms of like, you know, how many audiences you test and message variations and images? Can you just kind of give us a quick summary of that and it might just help people sort of think about hey, you know, if you sort of test with one audience and one or two ads and you're not getting results well don't be surprised.

Aaron Zakowski [23:16]
Right so usually when we're we're starting off what will run a test campaign and it could be an asset it could be a campaign kind of however you like to structure things but will want to run it and isolated tests for audiences so we'll test you know 5 to 10 different audiences you know, combination of interest look alikes, retargeting etc you retargeting will usually be offered its own thing, because we know that's going to work. And then within each of those tests will make sure we're using the exact same ad creative again. So holding static, whatever variables we're not testing at the time. And so based on that we're using the same ad will know which audience to performing that's based on the data, then we'll do the same thing. As we said before, we'll pick one audience which we are prophesized be the best audience if we haven't tested yet. And then we will have one audience protest a whole bunch of different versions of messaging and all with one image. And if we were at the beginning, we'll have to kind of just guess, what's your best image but but that's okay. Because we'll just be able to look at the the bump in the left from the messaging of which ones working best. And then we'll have a different test that we're running simultaneously or one after the other. For images were, again, we'll use the the same audience, same copy, and then test five or 10 different images to identify where the winner is. And that's, you know, how we start off with every campaign, and then, you know, take all of our winners and put them together, you know, once things start to burn out, you know, we usually find, though, that, that rotating out the image is enough to refresh out. So that's an important point, because once you identify good copy, that copy can last for quite a long time, and quite a few different creative iterations, by just changing the image, as long as the copy was good the first time and converted,

Omer Khan [24:39]
got it. Great. So the next part of the framework, the pillar is optimize. And just kind of explain, like what this involves, at a high level, before we sort of dig into the details. And at what point is somebody ready to move from the test phase to the optimized phase.

Aaron Zakowski [24:55]
But so optimizing is pretty much where we start moving to once we've had some successful tests. And to be honest, you know, there's a lot of overlap between the testing and optimizing stage, neither one of them really ever ends. When we spoke about the testing before, we were kind of alluding to the early stages of testing to figure out what's working. But testing should it should never ended and becomes integrated as part of your optimization. The optimizing stage is really about what we want to have happen when we've got things that are working, and we're ready to kind of take it to the next level. So for example, right now, we spoke about testing, we really want to segment out all the different variables, when it comes time to optimize the way that Facebook has really been working in the last year and where they're moving, going forward, is where we want to consolidate rather than than segment. So consolidating, as much as possible, all of our winning audiences should go into one campaign and one asset, all of our winning ads should be put together in one ad set and bring things together as much as possible. And then, you know, doing whatever we can to bring success to our lower number of campaigns that I'm number one were bad set. So it might have been, you know, a year or two ago, we had a process where we would have, you know, dozens and dozens of ad sets live at any given time, you know, today we'd like to limit that to 5 to 10 ad sets of any given time by bringing these together. So the elements of usually have with an optimizing our consolidation, getting together some type of automation in the campaign. So let's talk about that, then.

Omer Khan [26:17]
So the first step of the optimize pillar is to install automation. You said you started from understand there, like four sort of rules that you apply here, when you're thinking about that automation. So tell us about that.

Aaron Zakowski [26:31]
Yeah, so we've got four automation rules that that we like to apply for, for most of our campaigns were running. And essentially, what you're doing is trying to take out a little bit the human element of decision making. So as we said before, as much as we can rely on a process, and take out our gut feelings, you know, that's usually a good thing. So you know, there's obviously a balanced budget between our emotional our gut, you know, once we have experienced it, and the automation, but essentially, we're setting up rules within Facebook's native automation tools, one that's going to increase budgets for winning ads test. So essentially, we've got something working, we want to be said budget by 20, to 30%, every 24 to 48 hours. And we'll just create a rule that says, you know, if we're hitting our target goal of whatever our CPA goal is, then bump the budget, you know, every 24-48 hours, that'd be the first one that we would run, if something has been a CPA that's a little bit too high than what we're targeting, then we want to decrease the budget automatically every day. So if let's say we've got a $30 cost per acquisition target, and we're getting 30 to $33, it's you know, just a little bit too high, kind of want to turn down that budget a little bit. So we might decrease that budget by 10-20%. You know, every day or two, if it's a little bit high, if we've got an ad set, that's way too expensive, well, then we want to pause it. And so it's you know, we we create a rule that says, if the CPA is above, let's say, you know, that's a 10, 20, 30%, higher than our target will then cause that headset automatically, whether it's the ad set the ad or the campaign at whatever level, you're actually setting up your rules. And then we've got another one, which you know, we call it, you know, reviving, you know, lazy way, essentially, what that means is, you might have a campaign that, you know, it ran for a couple of days, and our cost per acquisition was a little bit too high. So we positively turned it off. Well, if we remember that Facebook uses an activation window of 20 days on a click, and one day of a view, sometimes people will click on that today, and they'll convert in another seven days, 14 days, you know, whatever it might be. And we might have already turned off that campaign or add, set or add, and yet the conversions might come later on. And once those later conversions kind of get factored in, we might look back and say, Hey, this actually was working, it just took a little bit longer for the sales cycle or the conversion cycle to happen for the people to convert. And if we've been a bit more patient, this would have actually been a profitable campaign. So that in those situation, we want to activate based on the CPA, but over a longer window of time, not necessarily looking at it just at the last couple of days.

Omer Khan [28:50]
Yeah, so it kind of really emphasizes the importance of, of really understanding your data to help you make good decisions. And as you sort of started off saying that, you know, you sort of data driven, sort of decision making process in terms of how you operate. One interesting thing was that I kind of realized that you export Facebook data into Excel. And you use that as a way to kind of analyze the data and look for trends. And and actually, that was kind of one of the questions I was going to ask you was like, you know, sometimes it's not always that easy to figure out what's going on in that ads manager in Facebook,

Aaron Zakowski [29:26]
I'm happy you brought up the point about data. So one of the earlier pillars that we probably should have spoken at the beginning is just the idea of kind of knowing what your metrics are and what your data should be. So for example, you know, we need to have a clear target cost per acquisition on the free trial. And a lot of people we speak with don't necessarily know what that should be yet, you know, the more mature growth stage companies usually have a better idea. But it's important to know where your target is by and we usually want to work backwards from, you know, what's our average or expected long term value of a customer? And then what's our expected upgrade rate from a free trial to a paid customer? And then using that math and figure you know, what profit margins? And how quickly do we want to recoup our investment? You know, what should our target cost per acquisition be? So So that's an important piece of the data that everyone should always know from the time they're getting started with an acquisition campaign? And going to your question about themselves. Yeah, you know, it's sometimes very hard to get to nuance with an ad manager. So ad manager will give you a lot of different ways to slice and dice your data, you know, you look at by age, gender placement country, you know, a whole bunch of other things as well. And that's helpful. And you make it a point, every month, we do a data deep dive for every one of our clients, where we just kind of go through there and say, you know, are there any opportunities here and any trends that we're seeing that could help us to make better decisions within our optimization. And part of that, though, is exporting the data as granular as we can in different ways out of Facebook, and then importing it into Excel. And from there, we're running a lot of pivot tables, and it allows us just the ability to, to slice and dice the data in different ways. So for example, you know, one way that we might look at that is, on the ad level, we might have the exact same ad running in some different campaigns, different audiences. So the same ad creative might be running a retargeting campaign, and might be running to a look alike. And it might be running to an interest. And it's, you know, performing, you know, a little bit better in one little bit worse than another, but they're all kind of generally working. And we've got a whole bunch of different ads that had that same situation. So how do you know which one is really your top performing ad? How do you figure out the trends from that? So for that reason, we kind of make sure that we, if the ads are exactly the same, we make sure that for in every audience that we're running them, we use the same name. So essentially, what that then later allows us to do is to run a pivot table and accelerator where we sort everything by ad name, and then it'll consolidate all the data for that particular ad creative across all the different ad sets or campaigns who have been running it. So we'll take all the data from this particular ad from the look alike from the interest in the targeting, etc. And we can see how it using working in aggregate in terms of in terms of the data, we can compare all of our ads that way. And that's something that's a lot harder to do. If you're just working natively within Facebook.

Omer Khan [31:57]
Yeah. And then sort of the last sort of step in the optimized process was about consolidating the ad sets. And you sort of go through this process where you consolidate your ads, the winning ads into what you call like these super ad sets, like, what does that mean? And like, why is it important to do that?

Aaron Zakowski [32:14]
Yeah. So we touched on this earlier about the fact that Facebook is working better with more consolidation these days. So the algorithm is super powerful Facebook's algorithm and their ability to kind of figure out what works and move your budgets around is quite remarkable, we often get into is, you know, as I guess, more beginner marketers, Facebook, we look in there, and we see all these ways to segment our data, and all these different interest groups and all these different things that we could do. And as savvy marketers, we want to start thinking about all the different ways that we can segment. And initially, that sounds like a good idea. But the way that Facebook works better is that if you can bring everything together into one campaign, or even one ad said as much as possible, and let the algorithm determine where should the impressions be delivered. And that's almost always going to outperform because, you know, if I say, you know, I've got to have a whole bunch of different ad sets, each one targeting a slightly different demographic, so one of them is doing Facebook, and one of them is doing Instagram, and one of my ad sets is doing desktop, one is doing mobile, and one is male, and one is female, etc, etc, then I'm forcing Facebook to say where the budget should be allocated in each one of those things. Now, to some extent, now we're moving to a world where Facebook in a couple months is going to start making us use a campaign budget optimization, SEO, where budgets are set at the campaign level, which will allow at the asset level, at least those things to be the budget to be allocated amongst those different ad sets. But the more that we forced Facebook to deliver ad impressions in the ways that we want, the more that we're taking control away from the algorithm, which in many ways just knows better than us. So once we've established in our in our testing, these are the audiences that work these are the age ranges that work, these are the locations, you know, the ads, etc, etc. We want to put all those things together and let the algorithm determine where should those places actions of any given ad be delivered on any given day?

Omer Khan [34:02]
Got it? Great. Okay, so we did testing for at least a couple of weeks to figure out what works, what doesn't work, then we went through this optimization phase, which is really about digging into the data, and deciding where you're going to focus. So spending less on ads are not performing well, maybe turning some ads off, maybe narrowing down your target audience and the ads, consolidating them. Once you've done that with, I guess, with it ready to move to the next step, which is the scaling pod. And with scaling, you sort of talk about three things. Number one is like, you know, increasing the budget. Number two, it's about expanding the audience. And number three, it's about adding platforms. So, again, let's start by maybe just saying like, when is somebody ready to move from the optimization to the scaling phase?

Aaron Zakowski [34:51]
Sure. So similar to what I said about the testing and optimizing, kind of always meshing together, you know, optimizing and scaling kind of go hand in hand as well. So the scaling phase is basically once you have something that's working, and by working, you know, performance-based in, you know, user acquisition environment, you know, we mean, do we have campaigns or ads that are achieving our target cost per acquisition or lower, because if something's working, its profitable than that, then we want more of that. And then that's what scaling is all about. So if we have something working, you know, the first step is we want to increase budgets. Now, we spoke about this a little bit earlier, you know, the easiest way to scale is just, you know, increase your budgets. Now, I want people don't increase too quickly, our experience, and also the information we've kind of gotten from Facebook groups is, you know, you're pretty safe at about 20 to 30%, increasing budget per, you know, generally know that the ad said level, at least, without kind of messing up the learning stage. Remember, the algorithm had to learn, and the learning takes place at that level, if we move our budget too quickly, we could break that and kind of, you know, potentially cause all kinds of havoc for everything that we've achieved so. So increased budgets relatively slowly. 20% 30% is is usually pretty safe. The other way that people scale a little bit that isn't mentioned as much here as sometimes duplicating those winning ad sets. And and you know, if you've got one that's running well at, you know, $100 a day or $500 a day, whatever it is, you know, and you want to scale faster than you can by just increasing the budget, well, then maybe you could duplicate the whole ad set, people were concerned in that situation about audience overlap, and you're competing with yourself in the auction. Unless you do really high budget, we've just found that that isn't really too big of an issue. So that's the first thing is increasing budgets. The next step, we said it is expanding audiences. So let's say we're using a 1% look alike, which is often you know, one of our best performing audiences is usually going to be 1% look alike based on our conversion pixels. So we're telling Facebook to find more people that are as demographically similar as possible to the people who have already converted off of our offer based on the pixel that's working really well. And we're happy with it. And we're scaling and we just kind of feel like we've hit a limit, where then we can consider going from 1% to a 2%. look alike. And what that means that if percentages is that a 1% look like is telling Facebook to go and find the 1% of Facebook users and the target country, let's say in the United States, who most similar to my base audience and the US, that's usually going to come out to about 2 million to you know, 2.2 million people, if you do 2%. Local, like, it's going to go to the 2% of people most similar, which gives you you know, 4 million plus and it goes up to up to a 10% look alike, which is a little bit over 20 million people. So if the 1% look alike was working well for you. So expand up to 2% look alike. If 2% is working for you, you know, expand up a little bit like that, I recommend people don't just jump to the bigger audiences. Because always go for your lowest hanging fruit, your best opportunities, first proof that those things work, and then kind of, you know, move up from there. In addition to using bigger look alikes, you can go from Facebook to Instagram, you know, you can add in more countries, if that's relevant to it to your offer more placements. placements, generally, you want to determine, you know, by placing spending, right, right hand column, Instagram, Facebook stories, Instagram stories, all the different places where Facebook, run the ads, you know, that should happen in the testing phase as well. But if you haven't been running those, those are opportunities to get more impressions, basically, you're trying to reach your more impressions is the way that you scale and spend more money and hopefully generate a lot more revenue.

Omer Khan [38:01]
And then you actually recommend adding platforms like actually going beyond Facebook ads to things like AdWords and Twitter and whatever. And on the one hand, yeah, I mean, that sounds logical, or the maybe I would ask like, if you're scaling on Facebook, why not just double down and keep focusing on that instead of thinking about other platforms? And then the second part of that is not going to have to start from scratch with every platform now. Yes, like in terms of figuring out what works and what doesn't work?

Aaron Zakowski [38:31]
Well, to some extent. So addressing the first question, you know, there is usually a ceiling on Facebook to how much volume you're going to get. And that could be determined on on a company by company basis of how large is your audience, you know, if you've got a smaller potential audience, there's only going to be a limit to how many people you can reach. And not everybody's on Facebook. And there's also a benefit to, you know, having your company be seen more around the web. So if I'm only seen on Facebook, well, then, you know, there's opportunities for me to really be more present somebody's mindshare and awareness by by being present on on AdWords on Twitter and YouTube, the more they see my company, the more the more we're staying top of mind. And ultimately, you know, going to convince people want to do business with us. So that's one part of it. And in terms of more learning, there's certainly more learning by going to more platforms. But if you've proven that that paid acquisition works, then it's very likely can work on other platforms as well. So I'm certainly a big proponent of Facebook. And I think Facebook is a huge opportunity. But, you know, let's say we compared with the with the other, you know, gorilla company of AdWords, you know, they work very differently, especially if you think about, you know, AdWords search. So Facebook is for finding those prospects who aren't necessarily looking for you yet, they haven't done a search for your type of product yet, AdWords works really well for the people who will have intention and are searching. And in addition to that, they've also got their display network. So there are opportunities there. And there's efficiencies that come from, you know, having success with one platform, and then trying to transfer that over to another platform. So you know, if you've got creative, you've got messaging that you figured that work in Facebook, there's a pretty good chance that that might work on Twitter, or LinkedIn, or display ads as well. So there's opportunities there. So usually with us, you know, we're a Facebook and Instagram first agency, but once we've kind of gotten success with some of our clients, you know, using that that's when what kind of increase our engagement with some of our clients and start taking on some other platforms for them, and moving to AdWords or Twitter or some other channels as well.

Omer Khan [40:18]
Got it. That's great. Okay, so to wrap up, I also know you talked about like, Hey, you know, kind of the importance of growth mindset, to really succeeding with Facebook ads. So just kind of quickly can explain to me like, what that means why that's important.

Aaron Zakowski [40:34]
Yeah, so essentially, a minute growth mindset is, you know, just kind of always be testing mentality. So always thinking about, you know, what can we do to grow? What can we do to iterate and always be testing new ads, always think about new audiences always like platforms, and that creativity, and tinkering is always what's going to help the company grow. And you know, the more testing we do, the more success we're going to have, the more ad credits we test, the more when there's we're going to find the more we could scale them farther, and not have to worrying about our ads burning out and you know, frequency getting too high and CPF earn crack climb too high. So the more we focus on growth and testing, the more success we're going to see.

Omer Khan [41:06]
Great, that's awesome. So that kind of wraps up the framework in terms of scaling for Facebook ads. So you walk us through sort of the three pillars in terms of test, optimize, and scale. Thank you for sharing that. I think there was a lot of really interesting stuff that you shared, for example, like, Hey, you know, we kind of the way you approach retargeting, and content and kind of flipping that on its head and driving people to content that was quite interesting in terms of, you know, if you're doing what everybody else is doing, then, you know, I think it kind of becomes harder and harder to get results. And sometimes, I think it's a combination of testing as well as kind of, you know, being a little creative and thinking differently about how you're going to go and get results here. So I love hearing stuff like that. Okay, so number one, let's talk about like, if people want to get a copy of the PDF document, where can get that from?

Aaron Zakowski [42:01]
Yeah, definitely. So you know, anyone can go and download a copy of the SaaS Scaling Framework for Facebook Ads that we put together, just go to the zammodigital.com/saasclub. So it's Z-A-M-M-O-digital.com/saasclub. And you'll be able to download a copy of yourself. Okay, great.

Omer Khan [42:19]
And I'll include a link in the show notes to that as well. And if people want to find out more about Zammo Digital, they can go to zammodigital.com. Yep. And if people want to get in touch with you, what's the best way for them to do that?

Aaron Zakowski [42:34]
Yeah. So I mean, the best way is just kind of grew up with a website, you know, there's some, you know, big buttons to get proposal, you could definitely, you know, click one of those. And that's just basically just kind of sends me an email with a little bit of your information. Those things go directly to me put in the notes. Just you know, you've heard me on the on the podcast, when you let the chat and I'll definitely get back to you. And it's probably the easiest way to get that.

Omer Khan [42:52]
Awesome. Thank you for joining me. Thank you for sharing so much chair, and I wish you all the best.

Aaron Zakowski [42:58]
Yeah, my pleasure was a lot of fun. Thank you.

Omer Khan [43:00]
Cheers. Thanks for listening. I really hope you enjoyed this interview. You can get to the show notes, as usual by going to thesaaspodcast.com, where you'll find a summary of this episode and a link to all the resources we discussed. If you enjoy the episode, then head over to iTunes and subscribe to the podcast. And if you're in a good mood, consider leaving a rating and review to show your support for this show. I want to give a shout out to Ben JJJ6 from the UK, who left the following iTunes review.

Omer Khan [43:27]
“Amazing. The interviews are really a great mix of personal stories and business sense. Omer has a great ability to relate and ask interesting questions. Thank you for creating this resource. I know I'm achieving better things because of the insights and inspiration from the show.”

Omer Khan [43:46]
Thanks for leaving that review. Ben, I really appreciate it. If you'd like to leave a review, send me an email at omer[at]saasclub[dot]io or send me a tweet at @omerkhan. So I can give you a shout out and use your real name instead of your iTunes username which is not always the easiest way to figure out what I should be calling you. So thank you again, hope you enjoyed the interview. Thanks for listening. Until next time, take care!

The Show Notes

Omer Khan

Hi, I'm Omer, the founder of SaaS Club and host of The SaaS Podcast. I help early stage founders and entrepreneurs to build, launch and grow successful SaaS businesses. Join me on this journey.