Paid ads, also known as pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, are a form of online advertising in which businesses pay a fee each time one of their ads is clicked. It is a way of buying visits to your site, rather than earning those visits organically through search engine optimization (SEO) or other methods.
Paid ads are typically displayed on search engine results pages (SERPs), social media platforms, and websites that have signed up to host ads. The most common types of paid ads are search ads, display ads, and social media ads.
Paid ads can be a useful way for businesses to reach specific target audiences and drive traffic to their websites. However, it is important to carefully plan and manage a paid advertising campaign to ensure that it is effective and delivers a good return on investment (ROI). This involves setting clear goals, researching and selecting appropriate keywords and targeting options, creating compelling ad copy and visuals, and regularly analyzing and optimizing the campaign to improve its performance.
Here at UNLMTD agency in the last 7 years, we’ve run thousands of different campaigns and spent more than $20m in the process.
Keep in mind that paid ads will not work magically by themselves if you don’t have a development and creative team that can build the proper foundation to achieve your goals faster using your advertising channels.
Ready to learn?
Awesome, let’s get started.
Ok, let’s go to the first phase, funnel creation:
Sure, we all know at least a dozen definitions for a marketing funnel, the thing is that the proper funnel build for paid ads should be aligned with the algorithms used by advertising platforms (like Facebook and Google).
What do we mean by this?
You can’t just go on Google, type ‘marketing funnel’ and then copy – paste the first image that pops up.
Each funnel is different because it should be based on your website, number of different sales verticals you include and different advertising strategies you want to use.
To demonstrate, here is the example of what you get when you Google or read a specific blog on a marketing funnel subject.
By looking at all the funnel examples you will see terms like Consideration, Intent, Evaluation, Preference, Discovery, etc…
These are general terms that will not be very helpful for your business.
What you need to use as a guideline to build a funnel are your own assets and resources combined with a general paid strategy you apply.
You need to use tangible aspects inside the funnel, with phases you can clearly understand and, most importantly, extract data from so you can calculate the conversion rates, percentages of users moving from stage to stage, short and long term investments and returns and other important metrics for you.
The emotional aspects of a customer’s place in the funnel can’t be optimized properly for your paid campaigns.
Think a TOFU, MOFU, BOFU would be a better model? We had the same thought some 2 years ago, but experience proved us wrong. In reality, while this model can work for E-Commerce brands, even for them, it’s hard to determine when a user is inside MOFU or BOFU – because they often intertwine.
Want to know what has proven to be the best way to create an Ads Funnel?
The fact that we can optimize campaigns for each part of it
It’s quite simple. Start from one or two main goals for your business. And those goals are LEADS and CONVERSIONS.
Everything else is evolving around these goals and is in service of them.
Now when we are talking about the audience segmentation, here is the winning paid ads funnel model that we successfully applied for dozens of our SaaS clients, whether they are spending $5k or $150k per month.
Acquisition / Prospecting – Let’s call this one COLD audience, Interest based and lookalike audiences are used in this part of the funnel.
Lookalike audiences include new people you can reach out to who are likely to be interested in your business because they share similar characteristics to those of your existing followers or users.
Now here we can test and optimize dozens of options, but some of the most profitable ones include.
Infrequent high, mid, or low-value customers (Based on existing customers data)
Frequent high, mid, or low-value customers (Based on existing customers data)
Infrequent website visitors with high, mid, or low intention (intention is based on the time they spent on the website)
Frequent website visitors with high, mid, or low intention
Instagram fans lookalike
Facebook page fans lookalike
Lookalike based on video views
Lookalike of all website leads or customers (based on gathered customer data
Besides the lookalike audiences for prospecting we can use simple interests and demographics to target specific user groups (like females aged 18-25 that listen to Beyonce and Lady Gaga).
Big disclaimer here. What we’ve learned from the process is that most of the time your interest-based targeted audience will not be as efficient as you expect.
Especially when you have a campaign optimized for conversion like sales or lead.
Why is this, you ask? To put it simply – I can like a Ferrari page on Facebook but that does not mean I can afford to buy one. But, Facebook knows what I am purchasing through its channel and how much money I am spending each month so it can easily classify me as a lookalike audience for a specific product that I might never have heard about.
That’s why it is super important to build lookalike audiences as soon as you can and start exploiting them.
Reengagement – This one is self explanatory. The idea is to target users that engaged with the content and re-engage them with a different creative or a different offer.
Here we can break down the audience into
Ads Watchers (Video)
Instagram and Facebook fans
As the name says, the goal here is to reengage existing audiences with a goal to make valuable action – purchase conversion, lead sign up or something else that is an important goal for your company (e.g. webinar lead, comment/review, book a call, click on a specific button…)
Here, we need to create custom audiences through platform campaign management tools like AdWords or FB Business manager.
But that’s not all, again similarly to the Acquisition stage, we can create Lookalike audiences based on the activities mentioned above.
So we can always test custom vs. lookalike audiences, in each phase of the funnel.
Retargeting – The main difference between retargeting and reengagement comes from specific actions that users undertook. Retargeting is reserved for audiences that visited the website / specific pages on the website (Homepage, Product page, Landing page, Checkout page…)
Here we separate the users by following actions:
Website visitors with high, mid, low intent (time spent on the website)
Website visitors in specific timeframe (30,60,90,180 days)
Multiple website visits or multiple website visits in specific timeframe
Specific page or category visitors
Specific button click
Again, these are custom audiences we need to create on platforms and we can include lookalike audiences as well for the purposes of A/B testing.
These audiences are what we call “warm”. They have a higher intent to make a conversion compared to the first two stages of the funnel and we need to serve them with specific creatives for the best results.
Retention – This one includes all customers and how we can upsell, cross sell or reactivate them again using paid ads. So the breakdown is following:
Retention, time based – People who made a purchase in last 30,60,90,180 days
Post Purchase, time based – People who made a purchase in last 3,7,10,14 days
Reactivation – Multiple purchasers that did not purchase for the last 60,90,180 days
Specific category purchasers – Used for cross selling or up selling
This is the most specific stage as we need to have tailor-made creatives for the audiences. Here as well we can introduce lookalike audiences to get better results faster.
In case all this sounds a bit confusing or overwhelming, here is a visual representation of the Ads Funnel:
Now that we covered how specific audiences are placed in each phase of the funnel, let’s talk a bit more about how you can easily build the Ads Funnel for your business.
There are three things to consider for every funnel:
- Website / Landing pages – Where do you want the specific audience in each phase of the funnel to land
- Objectives – In different phases of the funnel you would need to have a different goal / optimization objective (Click Through, Landing Page Views, Purchase conversion). You need to optimize ads for the specific conversion type.
- Ads Distribution – In each phase you need to define different sets of creatives and budgets that will be applied.
Website / Landing Pages
This one is pretty straightforward. If you want to increase conversions, or make sure you have quality testing in place – you need to build landing pages. And you need to test them vs. homepage/website.
Information gathered through the testing phase will greatly increase the chance to be profitable later.
So don’t be afraid to spend a couple of thousands to test out your product hypothesis. You need to understand that with testing you are building yourself a highway to success.
Once you prove your product expectations it will be much easier to scale the business up.
On the other hand, if your concept is already proven and the website has a high quality score, you can save time and money by not investing in new landing pages. Just direct the audience to the existing ones.
Algorithms are powerful tools, but only when you use them in the right way. This means that you need to understand how and when you are optimizing specific campaigns.
If you want to get more visitors to the website, optimizing the campaign for purchase will not get you massive website visits, and vice versa, if you go with traffic optimization don’t expect a bunch of sales coming your way and high ROAs from this campaign.
So make sure to optimize for the right conversion in each part of the funnel.
This one is super important for your strategy. So basically you need to think about the right proportion of ads and creatives you will serve to the different audiences.
Which campaign types and goals should be created for a specific funnel stage, the ad rotation and budget and bidding and how you align it with different goals will help your ads to be more efficient.
👇So here is one example of Ads Distribution document
In this example you can see how to proportionalize each aspect of your paid strategy accordingly and in the most effective way.
All of the specifics like budget and Ad rotation really depend on your product or service, budget available for advertising, creative resources and team structure.
👊Now for the grand finale – the easy to build yourself funnel example.
Bear in mind that this is just a default example.
We’ve based it on a typical SaaS business model that has one product or service with a Free Trial and Subscription models. The subscription model has three different pricing models and they can be used for Upsells. Also, from the contact us page we can track and optimize for leads (users that submitted information upon which they will be further contacted).
👇In this example we run ads only to a homepage of the website.
On the left is an explanation of which color represents which phase in the funnel.
In each of the phase you need to combine different creatives and budgets that are show in the Ads Distribution example and audiences from Ads Funnel representation.
An example of a Retargeting phase would then look like this:
Audiences to use:
– Website visitors with high, mid, low intent (time spent on the website)
– Website visitors in specific timeframe (30,60,90,180 days)
– Multiple website visits or multiple website visits in specific timeframe
– Pricing page and contact us page visitors
– Lookalike audiences
Types of campaigns to use
– Google: Sales and Leads
– Meta: Conversions, Lead Generation
Optimize campaigns for these goals (Lead Gen, Purchase Conversion)
– Submit a lead form
– Start a free trial
Use the following creative directions
– Case study or
– Reviews or
– Promo or sale or
– Comparison, USP
➡And make sure creatives are personalized with a high budget and very frequent rotations.
In an ideal scenario, to boost your results you need to think about building additional sales verticals like email opt-ins, webinars, specific conversions like booking a call or scheduling a training session. In other words, try to have more conversions, especially Leads that you can later use for email marketing or retention marketing models.
With more verticals there is a higher chance users will convert.
Below you can see how we created a funnel for one of our SaaS clients that has different verticals included like webinar leads, booked strategy, calls and email opt-ins.
Ok, we hope you now have a better understanding of how the proper paid ads funnel should look like and how you can maximize the potential of your paid strategy.
If you still don’t understand or you are not sure you will be able to build this on your own you can always contact our team HERE. We will gladly jump on a no commitment, free strategy session with you where we can talk about more details of your business and how to set up a proper funnel.