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3 Ways to Growth Hack Your Funnel Into a Conversion-Driving Machine

Video Summary

If you’re like most growth marketers, your funnel could use more leads. A lot more leads. And most importantly, leads that convert - day-in, day-out. Paul Klebanov learned a few hard lessons in funnel optimization - he lost almost 10k once! - but came out of it a better growth marketer. And now he’s ready to pass on his conversion secrets to you - from content marketing and PPC tactics, to more unconventional strategies people are just starting to talk about - so you can start making your ROI dreams a reality.


Paul Klebanov is a marketing educator and sought-after speaker. He takes away the mystery of marketing and replace it with knowledge; those little “a-ha!” moments that gift audiences with crystal-clear clarity. How was he able to do that? He is youngest Americans to build a leading ecommerce retailer - PPL Stores LLC. His goal was to make $1 million in revenue before 30… He actually made $3.1 million by 27. And then he lost it all.

The knowledge gained from years of hardship and experience coupled with his burning desire to get it all back developed into a range of online business specializations and battle-tested digital marketing strategies.

What you will learn?

  • Cut own your PPC costs
  • Create viral ads
  • Improve engagement and conversions through the growth hacks provided

Paul Klebanov:
Hello, everyone. Raise your hand if anyone in this room attended my workshop previously yesterday. All right, so there may be a little bit of overlapping information, but I have some stuff. So for those of you that don’t know me, I’m going to give you a little bit of a backstory so you have a little bit of context of who I am.

So not too long ago, I ran a fairly large e-commerce business and it was in the home decor space. And I was one of the top internet retailers in the United States. Jeremy, I don’t know if Jeremy is in this room. There he is. He actually came up to me, 968, Honest Company. That’s actually Jeremy’s e-commerce store. I haven’t looked, I don’t know if it’s still up but that was in 2011.

So my strategy was rather simple, I would do outreach and I would contact the top internet retailers in the United States. And as soon as I got their brands on my site, I would rank for all the transactional keywords. So in 2015, I had over 30,000 name brand products and I build out for more e-commerce stores, PPL Vanities, PPL Fishing, PPL tile, PPL store, PPL stores, and in late 2015, to make the long story short, I was put on the black list and I got banned from temporarily selling products online. And the reason for that is, there was two reasons. The first is when I launched PPLS vanities, fish and tile and PPL stores, I started selling products that I wasn’t registered to sell. And the second is high chargeback rates. So when Grandma, when she received the chest and the chest was broken, she would get very angry. And so that caused a little bit of tensions.

And so what did I do next? I started looking for a job. And so today, I’m working at SEMrush. I had a few interviews with Marina. I don’t know if Marina’s in this room. There she is. So she took me in and I came into the company as a digital marketing strategist, but then I was begging everyone, annoying everyone to speak on behalf of the company. I started doing webinars. So this is how I’m on this stage in front of everyone today.

Unconventional Growth Hacks

So I always like to say that conventional wisdom is always wrong. So for this keynote presentation in the next 18 minutes, what I want to share with you is three unconventional growth hacks.

Growth hack number one, how do you cut down your PPC costs? Raise your hand if you run, if you plan a media buying calendar or you’re running ads online. Raise your hand. Awesome.

So how do you cut down your PPC cost? So to explain this, you pay more to pay less. You might be thinking pay more to pay less? What are you talking about? This is a little crazy, right? So what do I mean? To explain this, let’s take a step back. Let’s move back to the print media days.

So print media versus digital marketing, right? If L’Oreal, if Sarah, for example, opens up a Vogue magazine, guess what they’re going to do. They’re going to put Cover Girl instead of L’Oreal. It’s not a very sophisticated process. In this case, in print media, whoever has the most bullets wins the war. They don’t have data that shows them how their creatives influence their retention.

But with digital media, it’s different. So if Sarah goes on Facebook, for example, and she hides the L’Oreal ad or rather hides the Cover Girl ad and Facebook continually sensor that ad and Sarah leaves Facebook, Facebook has a problem because they have less users, they have less eyeballs, and in return, they’re making less money.

So Facebook has another problem. Raise your hand last year in quarter 4, Facebook had their annual quarterly report, raise your hand if you listened to that. Anyone in this room? Liz? Okay. So here is the issue with Facebook. Facebook is like Vogue for the digital world. Okay, and the reason for that is is because Facebook cannot replicate Google’s GDN Network. Google’s GDN Network, Google has thousands and thousands of placements. They have a lot of inventory. If you go to forbes.com, all the unsold inventory for that year, they run Google ads. So Google has a lot of inventory that they could sell to everyone in this room. Facebook, however, doesn’t have that much inventory. And so they reached a limit of max ad load. They can’t deliver any more inventory to you. So what happens is like I said if Sarah goes on Facebook and she hides the Cover Girl ad and she leaves Facebook, if she does to Facebook what she did to Vogue, then Facebook’s in big trouble.

So what does this mean for you? So none of us in this room can hack Vogue’s algorithm to position our ads, but what we can do is we can definitely hack Facebook’s algorithm. So, how would we do that?

Step number one. The first thing that you do when you run an ad by the way, this also works for Google on the GDN network, is you do manual bidding. So when you run an ad you see a suggested bid. You take that suggested bid and you multiply it by 3. So you pay more. As soon as you do that you change to manual bidding and you deploy your creative. As soon as you do that, your creative starts getting more awareness. So if you create your creative correctly and I’ll get into the formula in just a second, what you’re going to do is first you’re going to growth hack time, right? If you have a creative and it doesn’t gain any virality, Facebook sees that and looks at it as a non-quality product because nobody’s sharing it, nobody’s liking it, nobody’s commenting on it. So in terms of Facebook, that’s not a quality creative. So you growth hack time.

The second thing that you do which I just talked about is you raise those bids. When you raise those bids, Facebook now on your new ad creative has an incentive to show your ad to more people to a higher audience. So by doing that you automatically growth hack your CTRs. Because if you’re visible to more people, if more people see your ad, there’s a higher probability that you’re going to have a higher click-through rate on your ad. So you just growth hacked your CTR.

Relevance. If more people are clicking on your ad, then you’re now more relevant in the eyes of Google. So you just growth hacked relevance. And you have a good creative and nobody’s hiding your ad. Nobody’s complaining about your ad, closing your ad, then you’re essentially building a good history. Wouldn’t you agree? So essentially, what you just did is you growth hack Facebook algorithm because you checked off every single box.

The last thing that you want to do is you want to increase your budget for your campaigns. Why do I say this? If Facebook sees that instead of having a $5 ad budget, you have a $5,000 ad budget or a $15,000 budget, but, excuse me budget, then essentially, they have their out, their bots are going to optimize your ad. The CPU usage that they allocate to your creatives are going to be greater on a budget of $15,000, on a $15,000 campaign versus a budget on a $5 campaign. So essentially here’s a screenshot why relevance is important but you essentially growth hacked Facebook’s algorithm.

So step number three. All right. So you raised your bids, you did all of the things that I just suggested. What do you do next? You run a per engagement campaign. Per engagement, not per website conversion. You want to get engagements? You’re like Paul, why don’t you get engagements for these? You just growth hack time, you’re getting engagements. So and as soon as you do that, I’m going to get into the final three, you switch it at the end to something else and I’ll get to that in just a moment.

So how do you create the ad? Here’s the formula that I recommend you do. So here’s just an ad I’m showing you that’s not that I found interesting was the Wall Street Journal Will.i.am ad. So your first step whenever you run an ad is to ask yourself one thing. The thing that you want to do is you want to elicit an emotional response from your audience. Those emojis on the bottom of every Facebook ad in every post are emotions. Your ad doesn’t make them. Happiness, anger, hope, inspiration, sadness, nostalgia, laughter, lost, wrath, anger, envy, fear, pride. You want to evoke an emotional response. So whenever you create copy on your ad, whenever you create copy for your landing pages, your sales videos, the first thing that you want to do is you do not want to deliver an exposition. You don’t want to just deliver raw text. You want to tell a story. And the reasons why stories work so well is because they help your visitors. It helps people map your message, map things to the real world. It brings your message to life.
So how do you do that? You open up a document. You open up a document and you write these following things. You want to have a setting. Right? A setting helps them contextualize the thing in the real world, where and when it happened.

The second thing. You want to have a character in your story. The reason why you want to have a character is because the character gives them something to root, gives them someone to root for and to root against. It gives them someone to identify with Even the way that I’m making this presentation right now. I started with a character. In this case, I’m a character. Jeremy is a character in my story. There’s the setting. It helped to contextualize the message in the real world.

The third thing you need which is the meat of your message is you need to have a conflict. And the reason why that is very important because what is the conflict? The conflict is the problem. And the conflict, it creates tension. When you talk about a problem, it creates tension and that creates curiosity for the ending of your story, which is the resolution. And the resolution is your product. That’s the solution that you’re trying to sell.

So whenever you write copy, whenever you make a video, make sure that you’re creating a narrative and deploying that narrative and writing. You’re deploying your ads against that narrative, you’re running your ads.
So here’s this ad for Will.i.am, The Wall Street Journal, Will.i.am. I don’t have time to read The Wall Street Journal, hashtag make time. That’s a good example. You guys could check it out.

Alright, so the meat of the actual story as I said is the conflict, is the problem. And so this is how you think of a problem. You make a list of problems on an Excel spreadsheet that your audience has. The problem is the lock. Okay. So that’s the lock, that’s the problem, and the key is your your product. Your solution. The end of the story. So if you have a problem in a lock and that lock is not clearly defined in the user’s mind, then the key won’t open the lock. And nobody will buy your product. So you want to make sure that that lock is very clear in the users’ mind.

So I had this realization and I didn’t always think of this, that great marketers, great marketers make even greater psychologists. And it’s very easy to lose sight of this in today’s world. Just because a search engine company like, just because Google build a wall that you have to climb to get to the attention of your users does not change that marketing is built on the discipline of consumer psychology, of understanding consumer psychology. The only thing that Google did was they created a new discipline. A discipline that you need in your marketing team so you can get to that attention. So it’s very important to understand that when you’re writing your creatives, when you’re writing your content, when you’re nurturing your prospects from the open to the close of the sale, that you’re talking to people. Not robots, not machines.

Unconventional growth hack number three, so you run a pre-engagement ad and your ad starts getting traction. The virality coefficient of your ad increases, it starts to become viral, what do you do? Remember what you did in the beginning. You had the suggested bid price and you multiply it by 3, right? You’re running, you’re not, you’re manually changing your bids. Leave that. How many directors of marketing are in this room? All right, so don’t worry about this. If your team does this, don’t worry everything will be okay. So this is what you do. If you’re doing this correctly and you’re going in the right direction, your suggested bids will change. You will see lower suggested bids. So if your suggested bid was $10 and you’re running a per engagement campaign, guess what. Those are going to start decreasing. Because Facebook’s algorithm are optimizing your ads under a high-quality creative. So they want to deploy that ad. So then you change it to conversions. So you optimize for conversions. And when you optimize it for conversions, continue the manual bidding, leave the times three multiple on your ad, but when your bill comes, in you’re going to be paying the lower prosper clicks. Now, if your suggested bid is not decreasing, then you’re going in the wrong direction. So it’s this balance that I have between running a per engagement campaign, and then if something’s not working correctly, or the way that I wanted to go, I run a perk run a per engagement campaign. I optimize for engagement and then I throttle between the two.

Quick Funnel Hacks
Alright, so I have five minutes left and just as an added bonus, I’m going to give you something that I talked about on the workshop yesterday.

So with the theme of my e-commerce business, I thought if I had 90 days to save my business, what would I do? All right, some of these things are already talked about.

So high retention is greater than high conversion. What does that mean? If you have a SaaS based application, I had an e-commerce store do all cohort analysis of your site figure out which products. Create the highest retention, create those repeat buyers and take those products and put them on the front end of your funnel because that will allow you to pay more to acquire a customer. Don’t necessarily look at the highest conversion on the front end.

Quick funnel hack number two. Reverse risk. Always reverse risk. When I had my e-commerce business on the checkout page in the beginning, I didn’t even have a money back guarantee. Then I added 30 days. So when a customer was buying on the front end, they knew they could return a product. But how many in this room bought a product and you were thinking well, I have 30 days to return it. That thought was in your mind. You weren’t sure. Raise your hand if that thought was in your mind. Alright, so then what I did is I changed it to 90 days and what happened, that thought wasn’t even in their mind. They bought and it immediately increased conversions. So once it increased conversions, I thought well, maybe it’s going to increase returns, but it didn’t. It was just a psychological trigger.

Quick growth hack number four. Layer your channels. I had an e-commerce store. I ran traffic to the highest, the products that had the most repeat buyers, the highest retention. And so if they didn’t buy, I then had a campaign that pixel them to a newsletter to an opt-in form. If they layer your channels. Quick funnel hack number four.

Okay, so that’s, thank you. That’s Q&A. If you want a free trial of SEMrush, then you go to SEMrush.com/growth marketing, and I’m ready for questions.

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