Dave Rotheroe generated half a million dollars by mailing people grilled cheese sandwiches in the post. He's now the founder and CEO of Grip Advertising, and today he talks to us about how to build your list with viral ads.
We talk about how to be creative, how to split test, and how to make ads that will go viral. You really want to find out what Dave has to say… honestly!
SOME EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS: (3:00) Did Dave really tour the world as a punk rock violinist? (And how awesome is that?!) (4:40) Dave's secret sauce to advertising (yes, he cracked by mailing cheese sandwiches!) (6:46) Ads and creativity (and where people get it a bit wrong). (8:52) How to go about being more creative in your ads. (11:34) The imprtance of split testing in your ads (and how to do it). (13:45) How to go about starting a list building ads campaign. (15:48) The 3 different angles you need when creating your ads. (17:34) How to sell free lead magnets through ads. (19:13) How to sell paid lead magnets through ads. (21:36) Subject line of the week with Dave Rotheroe.
What's the secret sauce to viral ads?
When Dave started a grilled sandwich subscription box, it went globally viral within a week. But Dave knew that virality moves on, just like trends. So he figured the only way to make his business sustainable was to start running ads behind it.
But the key thing is… Dave used ads to amplify what was already working – something that had already gone viral on its own accord. And, in his own words, he became obsessed with trying to figure out how stuff goes viral and what makes people share and then applying it to various fields and industries through the awesome work he does.
Is creativity important in ads?
Creativity is one of those things that's really hard to teach, Dave says. Talking about strategies and best practices is much easier. But at the core of it all, you want to create ads that people want to watch and engage with. Having ads that are built around a funnel – that are targeted specifically to a cold audience and take them through to the consideration phase – is awesome. But if you can come up with a piece of creative ad that strikes a chord with your ideal customer base, then you can see improvements of 10-20x – much more than you could ever achieve with strategies and best practices.
So here are some principles that Dave uses when coming up with ads. And we've seen this in action when we started working with Dave – his work massively elevated our campaigns!
The principle Dave swears by is to use metaphors to describe what you do and to use characters that people know. This helps you create a bridge between what you do (and something that your audience isn't potentially familiar with) and what they know.
So the idea is to create a Trojan Horse where your product is woven throughout a storyline that people can watch. This way it doesn't feel like an ad. It's something people watch, and they feel entertained and endeared by you. And while you're presenting them with a really entertaining ad, you're actually teaching them about who you are and what you do.
How cool is that?! Dave's an actual genius!
Split testing your ads
So now that you know how to create ads that people want to see in their social media feed, let's talk about split testing. An interesting fact Dave shared is that according to Facebook, 1% of the most successful 1% advertisers on the platform split test their creatives 11 times more than the average advertiser. That's a lot!
For example, Dave did some split testing on one of our ads. He used the same video with exactly the same copy, but with different thumbnails. And he found that one outperformed the others by 3x! In other words, the ads were identical (except for the thumbnail), but one was 3 times more profitable and got a higher click-through rate than the others!
This shows that you have to find the traction point first. Find an ad that works first and then split test on that. There's no point in split testing an ad that doesn't work!
Another thing that's always worth split testing, Dave says, is the hook of your video, i.e. the first 3-5 seconds of it, as that can make a really big difference in how your ads perform.
How to use ads for list building
So you've decided to use ads to build your list. How do you go about that? Dave suggests you start with a small budget of approximately $20-30 a day. Then you want to create one core ad to encourage people to opt-in for your lead magnet. Then you split test 2 or 3 different hooks and 2 or 3 different graphic headlines. You want your headline to be around 3 to 5 words but no more than 8-10 words – it's just to capture people's attention. And then you test and see what works best! (Nice little bit of rhyming there!)
Dave also talked about the different angles he uses with his headlines, the key ones covering the “away from pain” and “towards pleasure” angles. This matters because when it comes to social media advertising, you've got to think about the purpose. Your job in creating an ad is not simply to ‘sell a thing'. It's about creating every single element of an ad in a way that fulfills its purpose.
So the purpose of the graphic headline is to get people to stop scrolling. Once they stop scrolling, you want them to read the actual text headline on Facebook. And the purpose of the text headline is to get them to read the main copy of the ad. And the purpose of the ad copy is to sell the click-through. The power of the artist is to sell the click-through – it's not to do the heavy lifting and get the person to buy the product. It's about selling the click-through to get them to the next stage in the process. It's all about micro-commitments and giving people breadcrumbs to move them to the next stage, slowly but surely.
And that‘s how we should be thinking about ads!
How to sell lead magnets through ads
So we can create ads to ask people to opt-in and download our lead magnets. But do we need to do things differently depending on whether we are giving away a free lead magnet or a paid product?
According to Dave, people don't give a lot of value to free products anymore. Because let's face it, a lot of them are rubbish quality, and we all know that's true!
But there's hope.
You can still promote a free lead magnet through ads, as long as you focus on the problem you solve in the actual words your ideal customers use. When people see that, they automatically think you've got the solution for them. But if you focus on the fact that your lead magnet is free, then you're wasting your time. You're better off going after what's more valuable, which is the problem you solve.
When it comes to selling paid products (or self-liquidating offers), Dave believes (and we agree) that you acquire a different and ‘better' customer base by asking for some money in return for your lead magnet. People who opt-in for a paid-for product are better-quality customers who are invested in what you sell. They will actually use it and get results, and probably buy more of your products.
The key to that is to come up with a product that solves a problem that's big enough for your audience to pay money for. And when you do that, then you build yourself a list of buyers, rather than subscribers who won't engage with your products.
Subject line of the week with Dave Rotheroe
Dave's subject line of the week is, “Keep your eyes peeled (graphic content)”. Dave sent this at the back of his corrective laser eye surgery. He sent a story-based email to his subscribers, which led to a specific call to action. This email had a 7% open rate, and Dave puts this down to the power of intrigue and negativity.
Because yes, the bit ‘graphic content' he put in bracket suggested gore content. That, or an actual graphic contained in the email! How you interpret it is completely down to your own personality and preferences. But it worked a treat!
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