He was able to retain 80% of his clients, while many of us have not…
Everything went from a 100 to – 20 within the blink of an eye. I’ve had clients pause and cancel projects. While getting multiple requests from clients reacting and wanting to get things done right away (such as implement online stores to have the ability to sell online, websites popups). Every advertising clients have been paused except for one. And we’re afraid we will have a long time to wait to recover from some balance dues on some accounts.
We’re positive we will get through it. However, we’ve been struggling telling clients that they shouldn’t completely just cancel their campaigns and struggling with the influx of request for small updates (banners, popups to inform) which is not really profitable for our agency.
Small Agency Owner, wboitemedia.com
One agency owner I talked to has been able to navigate it successfully. Below is our conversation.
This is an interview of Chris Schutte, founder of Launch Digital, a digital marketing agency based in Johannesburg. Of all the business owners I’ve talked to, he is only one who told me the Corona pandemic isn’t impacting his business negatively. He spills the beans on how he’s been able to do that.
Listen to the full interview
Click on the play button below.
Advertising on Google is not just about the bottom of the funnel.
- Most people focus on the bottom of the funnel where people are ready to buy. It’s high value but there’s fewer people.
- The bottom of the funnel is likely to perform poorly during the lockdowns as purchase power is limited by mobility and uncertainty.
- The top of the funnel still works for most. People continue to research products and educate themselves. Smart advertisers are shifting budgets to this segment where costs are low and volume is high.
Chris from Tenscores (00:00)
Chris, are you there?
(00:05) Chris from LaunchDigital
Yeah, I’m here man.
Chris from Tenscores (00:06)
Good to hear you again. How are you?
Chris from LaunchDigital (00:11)
Good and you?
Chris from Tenscores (00:12)
I’m doing great. I wanted to get you back on a call here because you’re probably one of the few people, if not the only person that I’ve talked to who said that he is navigating this Corona virus situation without a problem. We have a lot of agency customers here at tenscores that have been losing clients and that’s been a problem that you don’t have. How are you doing that?
Changing our minds about how Google Ads and paid search actually works.
Well, I think the first thing that’s important is to break the misconception that Google ads or any PPC advertising for that matter is reserved for the bottom of the funnel marketing.
A lot of people feel that PPC is purely a bottom of the funnel decision making type of activity when actually it’s not.
You can use PPC advertising very successfully, as top of the funnel awareness generating and even middle of the funnel email list building, that’s the first thing.
So, that’s a mindset that needs to change on the agency side as well as the client side. Agencies push this idea that you’ve got to get direct leads and sales on Google ads and the problem is then clients think the same way too. They believe this is the only way to can get leads and sales. Or rather that PPC is is only suited for this bottom of the funnel.
Chris from Tenscores (02:14)
So how do you get clients to change mindset, I mean, it’s one thing to have the mindset, but how do you do that for your clients?
Changing our Clients’ minds about how paid search actually works.
Chris from LaunchDigital (02:21)
We give them real world examples.
That’s really is how we convinced them. we show them examples of campaigns we have run. We will have created awareness for clients where we’ve done both email lists through PPC that have been cheaper than if people were to go buy an email list. You can generate emails from PPC for, 30, 40 cents an email. Whereas if you go buy a list, it’s a lot more.
Chris from Tenscores (03:10)
Do you have an example you could share with us? I would like to learn more about that actually.
Chris from LaunchDigital (03:15)
We ran a a campaign for a pool owner. He runs a pool cleaning and maintenance business. He was struggling to use PPC to drive sales and leads. We created some eBooks for him on simple things like “how to keep your pool clean after rain” and other things that pool owners struggle with. We promoted them on social profiles.
We started to run a Facebook campaign and targeted pool owners on Facebook, just purely with one of his eBooks. So someone just clicked on the advert, it popped up a form in Facebook, they filled out the form and then we used Zapier to integrate that with his CRM system, which is Active Campaign. And then he started building a list and we really started generating email addresses of his target audience.
We started generating email addresses of his target audience for around 5 Rand per an email address, which is about 40 US cents, somewhere around there, which is ridiculously cheap.
Chris from Tenscores (05:56)
So 5 Rand that’s the South African currency, right?
Chris from LaunchDigital (05:58)
Yes, that’s right. Yeah. So you’re looking at about 30, 40 US cents.
Chris from Tenscores (06:02)
I’m taking notes. We might have to make another call where we go into specifics cause if I could get like 50 cents per per email subscriber, that would be awesome.
Chris from LaunchDigital (06:14)
That’s exactly it. And these are accurate. These are people who own pools, so there aren’t just general leads. We built up his email list from, 80 or 90 people and within a couple of weeks we had over 800 email addresses.
The success story is that we were able to use PPC and Facebook ads specifically, to drive middle of the funnel activities and even top of the funnel activities. When we tell clients about that, then they’re like, okay. They start making up examples in their own mind. And I think that is the first thing we normally do with our clients. We just break their mis-conceptions.
Chris from Tenscores (07:32)
Is that something you do at the beginning when you get a contract with the client to let them know what you guys are about, how you think about it, or can you also get somebody who’s already doing some PPC let’s say Google ads and then you tell them: “Hey, I can see what you’re doing there, you’re going for the bottom of the funnel, but here’s a way that you can actually improve your results by targeting (the upper funnel)”. Is that something that you do as well?
Starting the conversation
with your clients.
Chris from LaunchDigital (07:59)
It is part of our sales pitch from the start.
Our methodology is very much inbound. We understand that users exist at any given time in a certain space, in a funnel and depending on where they are is how you’ve got to reach them and it determines what tools you use and the language.
You can use PPC at all three stages, as you use the DISCO model, you could use it in five stages of the funnel successfully.
That blog post you wrote about sous-vide cooking where you can advertise that Anova equipment, which is right at the bottom of the funnel, but then there’s still study and comparison and all these other things that you can create landing pages for.
You can create sous-vide recipe landing page on your website which is very top of the funnel and that might not result in direct sales, but it’s putting people into the top of your funnel, who could either contact you or buy your product later on.
You can apply that methodology to every single business.
If you had the budget, and this is where trying to get to earlier… is that clients, our clients especially, don’t have the budget to be running PPC for all three stages.
And I think a lot of smaller agencies, their clients don’t either have the budget.
So that is why you always end up running ads for only the bottom of the funnel. Cause bottom of the funnel is the low hanging fruit.
But then if you’ve got budget, then you should start doing stuff for the middle of the funnel and the top of the funnel.
But the problem is, and this is what we find is when the bottom of the funnel is working so well, clients don’t always want to spend money on the top or the middle of the funnel or they just want to put more money into the bottom, it’s a lost opportunity.
But now with this whole covid-19 thing, we’re saying “Hey, bottom of the funnel is out of the question because people aren’t buying a lot of services.
In a lot of businesses, people aren’t buying, so you’ve got to now change your strategy”.
I’ve even written this up a little bit for you so I can even send it to you (read it here).
You asked the question of how are you retaining clients who are pausing service. The first thing we did was to break this misconception and show clients that “Hey listen, PPC… you can use it for any stage of the funnel”. The next thing is we’ve given all of our clients a reality check….
We said to them: “Hey listen, it’s not going to be the same as before because of X, Y and Z. People aren’t buying.”
But there is opportunity.
And we’ve had to apply some strategic thinking for each one of our clients to determine what the opportunity is for them.
So for the agency owners that are reading this or listening, I believe all businesses and industries at this point in time fall into two categories.
One is the category of businesses that are completely affected by covid-19 they cannot trade, they cannot provide services.
They are completely tied to a chair in that sense.
Those type of businesses are what they call the BEACH stocks, and BEACH stands for: Bookings, Entertainment, Airlines, Cruises & Casinos,Hospitality.
And any industry that’s related to the above. You are directly affected and your whole strategy has to change. (Yeah. Beach. Yeah. I didn’t make that up by the way.)
The other category is those who are somewhat affected. Those are the people who can still run businesses and still trade and service their clients.
If you look at affiliate marketers, they’ll just carry on.
But for other businesses like let’s call them fitness studios, walk in shops, you know… They’re affected by Covid because obviously people aren’t coming to their premises.
But they can take their business online. So we’ve identified, and that’s another example, is we are helping a fitness studio.
She came over and she told me about how she’s just moved into this really large new premise and fancy office and now she’s jumped down.
So she was basically in tears going like “Man, I’ve invested all this money”. So I said “Well, you know, why don’t you move it online? Why don’t you offer pilates classes online through Zoom? You know, you sell a certain amount of spots that people have to buy”, because her clients still want to do these classes and Pilates yoga, fitness, a lot of coaching type of stuff can still be done online.
And so now we’re helping her set up an online platform. We’re adding some e-commerce to the site, we’ll send people to a booking system. There’s membership.
And from a PPC perspective, what we’ve done is we’ve modified all of the Google ads copy around her new offer, which is online. We’ve really customized the ad copy to be more specific around covid-19, do Pilates online and stay at home.
Chris from Tenscores (16:34)
That’s really interesting. I’ve been talking to agencies and they say, “Chris, my clients have decided to really step aside”. So how do you get into the conversation with current clients who tell you “We want to stop!”.
Reacting to the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic.
Chris from LaunchDigital (17:03)
We pre-empted it.
Chris from LaunchDigital (17:03)
Yeah. So what we did when this thing happened when, well at least when it was announced in South Africa, when our president announced it, he came on air and said, “Hey listen, this is a national state of disaster”.
Then he announced the lockdown.
After he announced the state of disaster, then I saw the lockdown coming.
So I told my team… “Hey, listen guys, contact all your clients and find out what they’re going to be doing”.
If we go into a lockdown in terms of the advertising, are they going to continue?.
And a lot of our clients did say no, they want to pause the ads.
And all of those guys said “We’re happy to carry on”, they saw the benefits of being able to carry on. So that was fine.
And then the clients that did respond negatively, we had to contact them and just say…
“Hey listen, we need to keep doing what we’re doing. We need to pivot our strategy slightly, but we need to keep going in here”.
This leads onto that second question you asked me, which was for those clients that are out there, what should they do with the current ads?
Like you’ve got Google ads running, what the hell now? For those, the tactics that we’ve used are for the businesses that are somewhat effected (not the BEACH stock) so they can still go online and adapt.
The first thing is to acknowledge that your clicks are going to drop guaranteed, I think so.
I think paid traffic is going to take a dip. But conversely I think organic traffic can arise because the more people that are staying at home means more internet traffic, more internet usage, people are going to be concerned.
They’re going to be consuming less traditional media, so less flyers, less billboards, they’re street potheads less radio ads.
They’re going to be consuming less of that and they’re going to be doing more digital media.
So that is going to go up.
I think the next thing then is to pivot your products and services to suit the times.
So if you can offer an online service, move it online, you know you need to do that, then update your ad copy to be relevant to the times.
And I think that’s very important.
If you look at your Maslow hierarchy of needs, people are worried. What matters to people now is very different to what mattered to people a month ago.
So your copy ad copy has to speak to those to those needs. Right.
Chris from Tenscores (20:09)
If I may just add one little quick tip here is that as advertisers are pulling off their ads, this is a great time to get really good cost-per-clicks and actually build an audience.
Chris from LaunchDigital (20:23)
This is the thing, people don’t see that. People just see the bad side.
They go, “Oh man, you know what? No one’s going to buy!”.
What they don’t see is that all of your competitors are thinking exactly the same.
So there is opportunity.
I watched a video today. A seminar with Bob Proctor. One of the things he talks about is Marketing In Bad Times.
A lot of people look at the economy and they go, “Oh man, the company’s down”.
But, during the great depression and all of these recessions we’ve had, there’s been business owners that have made millions from them, because they didn’t buy into the negativity and they looked at the opportunities.
So there is opportunities, as you said here, there’s going to be less people competing on your keywords.
You can’t be pushing the same message as you have been in the last year. You have to update your services slightly. And it’s not that everyone can do it. We understand that.
I also think you need to look at automating your customer acquisition strategies.
Creating more custom forms or more bespoke custom forms on your website using your CRM system, your marketing automation system. It’s creating automation, getting online bookings, and making it easy for people sitting at home on their laptops or their phones to get hold of your services.
And then the last thing, my last piece of advice for those businesses who are only somewhat effected by this is “streamline”, use online tools to streamline sales strategy.
You generate leads through your website, you get a name and a number, you pick up the phone, you find that person, you have a conversation, generally you go out and see the person, people in South Africa love meetings.
So they would go see a customer, go to their offices. You can’t do that now.
You’re going to have to do more Zoom calls, Skype calls.
It’s also about doing things like pre-qualifying sales prospects through online forms.
You’ve got to have those systems in place so that when you start getting customers coming through, you’ve automated as much as possible.
And then finally for the businesses that are completely affected, the guys who feel that their hands are tied and they can’t do much, I think as we’ve spoken about, number one is … they need to change the ad strategy.
need to accept that the bottom of the funnel is not going to work for them.
They’re not going to generate leads or sales anymore.
But there is still opportunity in middle of the funnel and top of the funnel.
So they can still do things like generate email subscribers. They need to look at topics where they can really add value or create valuable content for their audience.
And then they can start promoting those blog articles through Google ads.
I see this is a prime time now for these businesses to build their email lists and South Africa especially is so far behind on marketing.
I mean we’re like 10 years behind in marketing from the rest of the world, I think there’s like maybe 1% of the population who are doing good marketing in this country.
There’s 1% of people who are actually implementing ahead of the curve type of strategies and email marketing is a huge thing overseas, in the States, in the UK, Australia.
I mean I must get at least 2030 emails a day from all of these people that I’m signed up to.
Robert Kiyosaki… I’m getting an email every day from these guys and when you speak with South African business owners and you go, cool, we got to do an email campaign.
They’re hesitant to send the people an email once a week, once a day.
Like they don’t want to do it. They’re like, “No, we don’t want to annoy our people”.
So email marketing is still something we’ve got to get into here, but it’s a prime opportunity to start building email lists because of the people in your market, your target audience aren’t buying, they’re still researching, they’re still studying, they’re still comparing, they’re just not buying.
They’re doing everything else in your funnel. They’re just not ready to pull the trigger.
It’s a rather build up of database of ready to buy customers so that when Covid-19 does end so to speak, we start returning back to normal.
Then you’ve got the huge database of hungry to buy customers that are already to open.
Chris from Tenscores (26:43)
What would you tell to the person who’s on the fence of actually going into actually building an email list and start doing email marketing?
Alot of us are okay with it, but I used to live in Belgium and helping some of my friends. And every time I talked about email marketing, they would say… “Hey, nobody reads emails. This doesn’t work. I never open. Everything goes to the promotion tab and I never look at it.”
What do you tell that person who’s on the fence?
Chris from LaunchDigital (27:10)
I would tell them that email marketing is the most effective marketing methodology out there at the moment today, and there’s stats to prove that.
In terms of conversion rates and cost per conversions, email marketing is still the best way to market.
But that being said, it’s a volume game.
You’re not going to have a successful email marketing strategy with a hundred subscribers.
But with 10,000 subscribers, you’re going to be successful.
You know why?
It’s all mathematics.
All these guys that do all of these email marketing and Robert Kiyosaki, Anik Singal and that other guy. I mean there’s so many.
It’s all mathematics.
They know their conversion rates.
They know that if they send an email out to their daughter, it converts at percentage.
So they spend the entire day just tweaking the system to try and get that conversion rate up or down.
But they know… if I send an email out to my subscriber list of 100,000, 200,000 subscribers, I will generate this much revenue.
And that’s why the email marketing thing is a volume game because you’ve got to get those numbers.
You got to spend the time getting those numbers.
And this is why business owners don’t pull the trigger on email marketing because they don’t have the patience, they don’t see the value in spending a year or two years or three years even building up a profitable marketing, no marketing database.
The thinking, you know, “why should I do this?”.
The proof is out there.
I mean, you can see every single one of these guys that sell these online courses or when marketing or whatever, they are able to do all of that through email marketing.
There’s a guy in Australia, his name is Sabri Suby, he owns an agency in Australia, he’s a bit like hardcore, confident, brash, like in your face, Australian type of guy. But his marketing strategies are so effective.
And one of his core principles, he calls it the the larger market formula.
Chris from Tenscores (29:45)
What is that?
The larger market formula.
Chris from LaunchDigital (29:52)
The larger market formula. So really what that says, is that if you look at your entire target market, right, all 10 of them or 100,000 of them…
Approximately 3% to 10% of that market are at the bottom of the funnel.
So they’re looking to buy, right now they’ve got the means, the money, the know-how, and they’re ready to spend.
It’s only 3%.
It’s sometimes a little bit more, sometimes it’s a little less. Then the other 97% if we were to be extreme or the other 90% of the people are still in your target market, but they’re just not in the 3%, but they’re still in your funnel.
They’re still in the awareness phase. They’re still researching, they’re still studying. They’re still comparing.
There’s all of those people and yes, there will be a percentage that aren’t interested in all because they may have just bought a service such as yours or something like that.
But for the rest of the people, they’re still in your buying cycle somewhere. Comparing researching and stuff.
So they haven’t made a buying decision just yet. And the number one mistake that business owners make hands down, especially in South Africa, is they only focus on their 3%.
They only want to run one Google ad, the only want to find the people that are buying, they don’t want to spend the time or the money building up an audience or building their sales funnel to target those other 97% of people, which includes things like running a good email marketing strategy, creating content, social media, distributing content, organic SEO, it gets all these things and they don’t see the value in that because it’s not as tangible.
The results aren’t as tangible as a PPC campaign where we put in some money today and tomorrow you’re seeing leads and sales coming up.
Chris from Tenscores (32:05)
Exactly. If I can actually expand a bit on the concept here of building an audience, when you’re doing advertising whether it’s Google or Facebook, there is that tracking code that actually builds an audience list for you that you can actually re-target afterwards.
Re-marketing campaigns are a big thing and for people who don’t want to build an email list, it’s okay.
You still can use retargeting. You have other means of building an audience.
Chris from LaunchDigital (32:37)
Yeah. That’s it. I mean, dude, you’ve hit nail on the head there. So even if you don’t want to download emails, you can still on Facebook and on Google, you can create these audiences of people that have visited your site, read blog articles, like have taken certain actions on your sites.
I mean, the analytics goes how far down the rabbit hole do you want to go?
Like some guys will only create an audience if the prospect has read through more blog articles cause they’ve gone and, and looked at the analytics on their site and realized that the people most likely to convert have browsed three or more pages on their site before converting.
So then they’re like, “okay, well let’s just create an audience of those people and then target them with LinkedIn ads, with Facebook ads”.
Chris from Tenscores (33:22)
That’s something I need to do better.
Chris from LaunchDigital (33:25)
Oh yeah. Same. Like we know all these things, but we struggled to implement them.
Chris from Tenscores (33:30)
Chris from LaunchDigital (33:32)
I also think this isn’t a silver of bullet. Google ads is an awesome tool. It’s an awesome tool and it serves a purpose. Definitely. But it’s not the only thing.
You know that you have to marry Google ads with a content strategy, with an SEO strategy.
You have to marry all those things. Because I think a lot of businesses now are learning this the hard way because now they’ve built entire marketing and sales strategies around Google ads or LinkedIn ads or whatever, which is predominantly a bottom bottom of the funnel exercise.
And now they’re suffering because they’re like, “man, no one’s buying”.
So Google ads aren’t working and they want to cut the Google ads.
And you’re like, “Okay, well you know that’s the problem is a way that you’re looking at Google ads, it can serve so many other purposes”.
If you’ve already lost
many of your clients…
Chris from Tenscores (34:42)
Yes, it’s the mindset, thinking about it in a different way and knowing that there is a full funnel there, you don’t have to focus on the bottom only.
So let me ask you a question. So let’s say I’m an agency owner and I have already lost a few of my clients, let’s say one, two, three, four.
If you were in my place, how would you go back and actually try and get those clients back?
Chris from LaunchDigital (35:19)
We’ll look for assets.
For us it’s just a phone call to get the conversation started, that’s how it really started for us.
So we had to have real conversations with our clients and we really had to understand their needs.
We’ve managed to retain 80% of them.
We offer a lot of other services for these guys. So it’s only a very few of our clients that are purely on PPC with us.
For a lot of other guys, we’re doing some social for them. We’re doing content, we’re doing web stuff. We’ve been lucky enough to say, “Okay, well, maybe let’s pause the ads for you guys here, but then let’s ramp up the content over there”.
So from a revenue perspective, we haven’t taken that much of a hit because we’ve been able to rely on other services to balance it.
Chris from Tenscores (36:42)
So why don’t you tell me more about the service that you offer and maybe actually tell our audience where they can find you, if somebody needs some help, with all the good ideas that you’ve given us, all the examples. What do you guys offer and how I can they reach out to you?
Chris from LaunchDigital (36:58)
So yeah, I mean they can, I’m sure you’ll have all of our contact details. They can go to LaunchDigital.agency.
That’s our website address and they can contact me directly using email@example.com and essentially we’re a full service digital agency.
We offer everything from branding and design to general graphic design, website design, right through to PPC and SEO.
We look at the whole spectrum because we believe that successful marketing strategies are not built on one channel alone.
That’s why a lot of our clients are spread across a few of our services because we try and encourage that from the start, that if you’re running PPC, cool, that’s good, but you need to still be producing content, and if you’re only doing content, you still need to be getting some of that low hanging fruit with PPC.
Chris from Tenscores (37:58)
You know, I’ve been getting a lot of … some of our clients, they tell me, “Hey Chris, you haven’t written on the blog for a long time. What’s up? What are you doing?” I should be doing all the things you’ve be talking about. I should be doing that myself. And maybe this is the time to actually get into it.
Chris from LaunchDigital (38:16)
I hear you. The thing is that is the time now, you know, I made a pact to myself that at the start of March, I’d try to write a blog article a day …
… and I failed miserably.
I failed miserably, but I’ve written six blog articles and if I had not set that challenge, I would have not written any blog articles.
Only one of them was really like an authority piece. The rest was SEO fluff.
The point is that we need to start practicing what we preach in terms of content and it’s a case of the shoemaker’s children not having shoes. That’s so easy to do. You’re so busy doing this for the rest of your clients that you can do…
Chris from Tenscores (39:11)
I’ll put everything in the blog, and probably I’m going to spend some time rewriting all the tips that you’re giving us here.
And if somebody’s got a question to ask they may put it in the comments and you’ll probably be also answering with me.
I don’t think we’ve covered everything. I think we could have gone on for more and more, but probably with the feedback that we’re going to receive, then we might have more content and more audio calls to actually share with the audience.
Thank you very much, Chris.
Chris from LaunchDigital (40:12)
Thanks very much for the opportunity. I hope it was informative and I look forward to it if you want to do more calls.
Chris from Tenscores (40:21)
I think we will.
As a final note, I got the following message in my inbox and thought it was worth sharing with you.
The world has seen economic crises before – like the dot com bust and ’08 financial crisis. There are studies looking at what kind of actions by companies led to more success, and what kind of decisions didn’t pay off.
- Learning to love recessions (McKinsey)
This study shows that while most tightened their belts, companies that came out winners from the crisis refocused rather than cut spending. They traded lower short-term profitability for long-term gain.(Obviously that depends on what kind of reserves you have).
- Roaring Out of
This research shows that companies that got the prevention-promotion balance right got the most growth after the recession. They evaluated every aspect of their business model—making near-term changes that reduce costs now and after demand returns (unlike layoffs). Staying closely connected to customer needs was the filter through which to make investment decisions.
- Recession Strategies to Take the Lead (Bain)
This study concluded that companies that struggled post-recession had often “switched to survival mode, making deep cuts and reacting defensively.” Cost-cutting focus had the lowest probability of pulling ahead of the competition when times got better.
Companies that survived the recession best were playing offense: investing in product and market-share leadership.