June 27, 2023

The Expert Guide to Paid Advertising for Startups

Paid advertising is a powerful tool that can help startups to reach their target audience and grow their business. However, it can also be a complex and expensive endeavour.

We sat down with Isaac Twidale, a paid advertising expert with over 10 years of industry experience. Isaac has worked with a variety of startups, of all shapes and sizes, helping them to reach their target audience and grow their business, using a model his team call “10x”.

Whether you're a new startup or you're looking to improve your existing paid advertising campaigns, Isaac can give you the information you need to succeed.

Thanks for chatting with us today, Isaac.

My pleasure.

What are some of the key things to consider when running paid advertising campaigns for startup founders?

You have to understand not everyone is ready for advertising. And actually, advertising is not right for every business. Before running ads make sure that you have PMF. This is a proven system for converting organic traffic into paying customers at a high rate (not excluding retention & growth loops, and product-led growth) and you can afford to LOSE £2,000 a month for 3 months. This figure seems arbitrary but it’s the MINIMUM amount working with a proper ads agency will cost you. You have to be prepared for it not to work. If this sounds like a lot of money, try alternative traffic routes.

What are some of the most common mistakes that founders make when running paid ads?

The mistakes most founders make greatly depends on the type of ads that they’re running.

PPC: They usually don't work with a professional. It's very very difficult to do this stuff well and a lot of founders try to do it themselves.

Paid Media: They don't use high-quality creatives, and they can't produce them at a fast enough rate to improve results.

Both: They can't say with certainty that their tracking & attribution work, they don't understand the econometrics of their funnels (i.e. what's a click worth to you?), and they don't spend enough money for a long enough time.

Ultimately there are tonnes of simple beginner mistakes most founders will make along the way. Mastering these skills takes time that busy founders simply don’t have. However, all of these problems will compound at scale.

What are some of the most cost-effective paid advertising strategies startups can use?

Beginning with Google Ads (or any search ads platform, including Amazon) to harvest latent demand in the market. If people are searching for your product/service/brand then bidding for these clicks will be THE most profitable use of ad spend. The issue is the supply of these clicks is limited, and if you're in a new market it's possible there aren't any searches.

If you are running paid media, focus first on split testing which customer avatar is most responsive to your ads & how best to target them. You can then work out what offering generates the most results (still include a great offer when testing avatars). This is your foundation. From there you can begin the never-ending journey of creative optimisation.

Describe the best ways to measure the success of startup campaigns?

Most campaigns are measured by a KPI, which can be different for everyone. So it's impossible to be specific here. What I will say is you should expect to get nowhere near your targets in Month 1 of spending, while aiming to hit satisfactory levels of performance at Month 3. If you can show each month that you're improving your key metrics and moving in the right direction, then a business can define that as success.

What are some of the most common challenges that founders face when running paid ads?

TRACKING. Get this sh*t watertight! Employ a professional & develop some internal understanding of tracking. DO NOT let this catch you off guard. Check your campaigns regularly. There's nothing worse than getting a quarter way through the year to realise your figures were inflated 2x by duplicated tags, or your campaign could have scaled twice as fast if you'd been tracking purchases through GTM.

What advice would you give to startup founders who are considering running paid advertising campaigns?

Just for the love of all things pure and true, wait. Patience. Adverts are like fuel for your marketing engine. You can pump as much fuel as you like, but if the engine is inefficient or broken then you're just pouring expensive clicks down the drain. It's a costly way to find out what's not working properly. Validate your entire funnel on organic traffic, and if you can afford it, seek professional advice on CRO (Conversion Rate Optimisation) to speed this process up. The only caveat is that if you're a well-funded startup prioritising speed, then congrats you can ignore all that. Drop £10,000's on ad spend & even more on CRO, all at the same time.

Ultimately, a true professional will tell you if you're ready or not. That's why my next piece of advice is to work with a trustworthy established gritty agency aligned with your values, run by a handsome founder like We Do Ads!

Get in touch with Isaac Twidale here to book your free consultation

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