It’s tough out there. CACs are high. The barrier to entry to start a brand has never been lower. Consumer wallets are getting tighter and tighter. But don’t worry, I got you.
I sat down with Liam Hooper, Senior Paid Digital Marketing Manager at Finisterre, to discuss his take on low hanging performance fruit.
Describe what you do
I work for a great Cornish brand called Finisterre where I help grow the business through paid marketing, organic and data.
If I had to put it in a sentence it would be: To find and connect with the brand’s target customer through paid marketing.
This includes working closely with our great agency partners to be their soundboard/clarity giver through to measuring daily, weekly, and monthly success in the activity vs business goals.
I tend to spend much of my time outlining the future of the channels, enrolling agencies and brand personnel in the plan and then reporting on the success/failure of said plan.
I have quite a broad remit which is the great thing about working in-house.
CAC seems like a simple equation. But why does it seem difficult for brands to measure?
The issues with CaC measurement come with data accessibility and agreement in the business.
Data accessibility is having a clear view on returns, COGS, and any direct costs. Agreement is then aligning on which costs go into direct costs and which costs go into your CAC calculation.
So, within the marketing channels, what are you classifying as acquisition and retention. For example, Google Ads brand search may be placed into retention costs.
Another agreement area is whether you want/need contribution on acquisition. For subscription, negative contribution (loss on first order) will be part of the game as you expect to make x£ back in the following recurring orders.
In a mattress company, you will need to acquire with a gain on first order as the repeatability is low.
I’d probably add that if you are that low repeat business then you are probably better using acquisition cost of sale (aCOS) instead.
How important are trust signals? Why are they not table stakes when it comes to onsite performance?
In a world of so many brands doing the same thing for often the same customer, your current customer is the biggest lever you have.
Leaning into those trust signals can give a brand a unique message vs the market. It’s the brand pushing the word of mouth.
It doesn’t have to be a review, maybe it’s a creative focused on social comment. That creative could be UGC which mirrors that message.
I’ve been getting into the 0% alcohol market more this year and one place I check out before committing is reviews. I want to hear from the existing customers whether the brand's hype matches the experience.
Although you don’t need trust signals, they are a great support to amplify the hype you are creating via marketing.
In a post-iOS 14 world, what do you think are the best-performing channels? And what are some tactics you’ve seen that mean they work?
Since iOS14, Meta has got their ducks in order which is great. After the initial hit there are many green shoots coming from that platform.
Google Ads is another staple channel and continues to be good for brands. However, the lower incrementality/lack of differentiation via Google typically means brands to lean on social over search.
I’m mostly excited about other channels like YouTube, TikTok and Pinterest. They aren’t the “best” performing when compared to Meta or Google, but that is often due to them being measured like Meta and Google.
In terms of tactics. There are two parts I’d mention. Reduce account bloat and lean on social creativity.
Remove complexity, test creatives, and watch the account thrive.
What do you think makes an excellent eComm site? And who do you think does it particularly well?
The eComm sites I enjoy give a straightforward experience and don’t make me work.
That experience isn’t 2-3 pop ups on landing, give me moment before you offer 10% off.
It’s having the basic site experience from lazy loaded imagery with image sizing in the HTML to reduce site movement when loading. It’s having the core information about the product and clear imagery; it’s showing the proposition (delivery/returns). Really there is so much to it.
However, the overarching summary is clarity in the brand, product, and proposition alongside a good site experience.
Tell me more about Ad Bank
Ad Bank was built to provide storage for creatives I come across in the wild. Instead of having loads of links or a google folder full of screenshots I decided to create Ad Bank.
I created it back in 2021 and started allowing users access to it. Over time, I did some dev bits like allowing users to save posts and share them. However, as I was doing it myself and haven’t kept up with developing the platform like I wanted to.
I do have some plans for it, but it won’t ever be a foreplay or magicbrief type tool. Just a good place for creative inspiration.
You recently suggested that brands should NOT use Shopify Ai to populate their product descriptions. Tell me more.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love generative AI. I use it daily for all sorts. However, I really don’t believe brands who want to have a distinct tone of voice should be using it.
Those brands that have a clear TOV target should be leaning into that instead of trying to find shortcuts through generative AI. If you are a business that just wants to sell products, then utilise the tool.
When you have so many similar brands, it’s the little details like imagery and copy that make the difference outside of price point.
Lean into your brand would be my suggestion.
I get the sense that eCommerce user journeys are often overlooked when brands are thinking about performance. How important are they? And how can brands use them to inform their decision-making?
Brands seem to set out that they expect the user to buy when they first see an ad. It’s like we forget how we buy ourselves.
User journeys should reflect how users discover and then move through to purchase. This can include creating ads which cover brand introductions, category pain points and solutions through to trading tactics to convert a user.
My storybrand by Donald Miller is a great resource. Brands should read and digest the supporting content. It outlines how brands should be the guide for the user through their journey to purchasing.
The goal of this is to think of the user, not the brand.
Do you think brand loyalty can be artificially engineered (e.g. loyalty programmes)? Or are those tactics simply a way to amplify loyalty which can only be attained through the affinity has for a brand?
I’m personally not a believer in loyalty programs as most see it, which is usually point/discount/incentive driven.
You either love the brand or the value it gives you. Value is usually price related and if you stop those discounts then the user will go.
The brands that I generally feel loyal to keep the desire going. This could be through collabs, new drops or limited runs. These brands give the users new things to be excited about and talk about, which then helps in other areas like word of mouth.
They aren’t loyalty programs; they are just great brand moments that bring customers back. I listened to champagne strategy some time last year with Adam Posner as a guest, it was a great conversation around loyalty. I recommend people listen to that pod ep.
LinkedIn is littered with get rich quick growth hackers, who do you suggest people follow (other than yourself) for insightful and useful content?
LinkedIn is a place I really enjoyed getting into in 2023.
Some of the people I really learn off are Ben Dutter (@ben-dutter) who talks all things measurement, Savannah Sanchez (@savannahsanchez) talks all things creative with a TikTok focus, Sarah Levinger (@sarahlevinger) who brings a psychology POV to marketing and a final one would be Jon Evans (@uncensoredcmo) who gives so many amazing insights from the work at system1.
I tend to have quite a mix of people that I follow which I recommend so you don’t end up in an echo chamber.
What brands do you think nail performance marketing?
True Classic are always spoken about. I agree they are nailing it with their clear message and proposition.
Creatively I think Smol is doing amazing things. Their creative is clearly styled for the social world alongside a very clear tone of voice and proposition that makes it easy to buy into.
Thanks, Liam. You’re a legend 🙏