One of the emails I received yesterday ended with this:
“PS. What sold me was the comments and your responses. I literally read em all. Well worth the time spent. Thanks again.”
There are a lot of amazing questions, and Shawn's responses have been detailed and nuanced. An education right there on the page.
For fun, and because I was curious, I copied out all the comments and pasted into Bear to get a word count.
(To give some perspective, a full-length fiction novel is typically around the 80-100K mark.)
Point is: there is so much gold in the comments, it's worth digging in.
Okay, over to Shawn, who has a lesson to share and an announcement (which was nothing to do with the fact he turns 49 on Tuesday).
SHAWN: Fri, April 3, 2020
Earlier today (April 2) I was reviewing email questions and comments to make sure I hadn't missed any, and I noticed a common theme, asked in slightly different ways.
To paraphrase: how can I use paid traffic to test or improve ideas?
This is an incredibly important topic and it deserves an in-depth explanation (and some additional content in The Traffic Engine course which I'll explain below).
Conventional wisdom says that we should create an offer first, then create messaging to drive prospects to that offer.
However, if you've ever spent much time with people who create offers, you'll know that most offers fail.
The number I've heard consistently in direct response circles is that eight out of ten offers fail.
That doesn't mean eight out of ten products or services fail — but the marketing / sales expression of those products or services — i.e., the offer — fails most of the time.
When we look at those two seemingly unrelated ideas side by side, an interesting insight emerges.
If we know most offers fail, and we know that the way to verify that is by spending time, energy, and dollars to create an offer and then send prospects to it, we're left with the inescapable conclusion that there must be a better way to minimize risk and maximize the probability for success.
Because Facebook allows for (and often rewards) long-copy ads, we can use Facebook advertising to test ideas before investing significant time, energy, and dollars into creating full offer funnels (including multi-page pre-sell sites).
To do that effectively, I think about three elements of a good Facebook ad:
- the lead (first two lines),
- the hook (first 3-5 paragraphs),
- and the theme (the overall idea of the ad).
This can get very complicated very fast.
We did a project recently where there were five themes, each with three hooks, and each hook had five leads — that's seventy-five variants!
Why do all of that work?
To see which combinations of leads, hooks, and themes worked best according to audience response.
Rather than guess, knowing that we're likely to fail, we turned the process around and allowed audiences to show us, with their behavior, the best combinations of ideas to pre-validate the offer.
I know what you're thinking — there's no way you have the time or budget to test that many ideas. You're absolutely right.
But this extreme example, created for a client who had the budget to test that volume of ideas, also works in much more focused situations.
Interestingly, we can't rely on conventional wisdom here either. Let me explain.
The most impactful part of a Facebook ad usually is the first two lines, so the obvious things to test (according to conventional wisdom) are those first two lines.
But, the first two lines of a Facebook ad aren't going to validate an entire idea, so we need to turn conventional wisdom around and test factors that can have the most impact.
That means, when time, energy, and dollars are limited, testing 2-3 overall themes is the most effective approach.
The theme is the bulk of the ad. It's the intellectual / emotional approach, the story, the primary message, the main argument on behalf of your product or service.
Let's look at a very simple example.
Imagine you have an idea for a business coaching offer, and you think the most important benefit you can provide is to increase your clients' overall productivity.
However, you also know that increasing productivity leads your clients to charging higher fees (i.e., making more money), which also gives them opportunities for more time off.
Which benefit from your service is most likely to drive more sales — increasing productivity, charging higher fees, or more time off?
Rather than guess, let your audience tell you which is more important.
To do that, I would write three ads.
- One ad would focus on making the connection between the coaching offer and increased productivity.
- The second ad would make the connection between the coaching offer and making more money.
- The third ad would make the connection to more time off.
Then I'd run all three ads to the exact same audience for some reasonable period of time (5-7 days +/- depending on budget), review the data, and let the audience tell what they liked best based on their engagement with each ad (clicks, like, shares, comments, etc.).
It's possible that all three could perform reasonably well, but, in my experience, there's usually a clear winner.
When you've identified that clear winner, you know what to emphasize in your messaging.
This is an overly simplistic example, but it conveys the underlying idea which is that we don't have to guess what audiences want by investing a lot of time, energy, and dollars before we know if there's interest.
Instead, we can use long-copy Facebook ads to pre-validate ideas, test messaging, and engage with our prospects to know, in advance, what they're most likely to respond to.
I'm just barely scratching the surface of what's possible with testing on the Facebook advertising platform, and I hope it gets you thinking about the possibilities for your idea or offer.
Originally I had planned to include this testing framework with modules five and six in The Traffic Engine, but I'm concerned that might detract from the objectives of those sections of the course.
Instead, I have decided to add a standalone Facebook Offer and Messaging Testing Framework masterclass between modules six and seven.
I'll be able to go into more detail about how to test ideas when no offer exists, how to test different expressions of existing offers to see which messaging resonates most, and how to test high-impact ad elements once you've dialed in your ad messaging.
I'll also review a couple of significant pitfalls I've seen that can undermine the entire testing process.
And I'll include my AB+Z testing methodology that works equally well on Google Ads.
Thanks for all of the great questions. If you're curious about any details of the Facebook Offer and Messaging Testing Framework masterclass, reply to this email or ask your question(s) in the comments.
Finally, quick reminder that the doors close for this first live cohort of The Traffic Engine at 11:59 p.m. PST on April 7, 2020.
To zip-up the idea behind this lesson, I'll share this.
A few years ago Craig Ballantyne shared with me an interview he did with Dr. John Berardi, the founder of Precision Nutrition.
There was one particular part of the discussion that instantly caught my attention. Truth be told, it validated my own workflow, but on a much larger scale.
The thesis being: the QUALITY of ideas is more important than this relentless testing of metrics and numbers (1min 50sec audio except below).
This ties back to the framework Shawn shared in this email, where testing (the smart way) can yield breakthrough insights very quickly.
These insights then inform better decisions downstream, like getting the best possible (minimum viable) version of an offer in place ASAP.
(Or an angle and theme to express in an SOI-style funnel, which then frames an offer or an action to be taken.)
Hope this was helpful.
If all of this resonates with you, and you have time to invest in the next eights weeks to build new traffic engines into your business (or new idea), we'd love to have you on the inside.
Enrollment is open through the weekend.
Tuesday (April 7th) is the final day for this first live cohort of students.
Have a great weekend!