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Soso Sazesh- Founder & CEO of Growth Pilots

Growth Pilots partners with high-growth companies to scale their paid social and paid search channels

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Soso Sazesh is the Founder and CEO of Growth Pilots, which is a digital marketing agency that partners with high-growth companies to manage their paid social and paid paid search channels.


Show Notes

Part 1

SOSO’S BACKGROUND AND GROWTH PILOTS (01:26)
I grew up in Northern Minnesota. My father lived in Silicon Valley, so I had the opportunity to come here during summers and knew that's where I wanted to be after high school. I moved out here and went to UC Berkeley. My first job out of college was at a digital marketing agency focused on paid search. That's where I really learned performance marketing.
After that, I started a company called Circl with a friend. We were trying to help offline retailers and merchants bridge the gap between what they were doing online and people walking in the store. Ultimately, we weren’t really successful with that but we learned a lot of valuable lessons and built a strong network of other startup founders.
As we were winding down, I started noticing that a lot of startup founders in my network were struggling to figure out how to leverage paid marketing for their companies. I began consulting for many of them and this is what led me to start Growth Pilots.

THE LANDSCAPE OF PERFORMANCE MARKETING TODAY (06:15)
When I started Growth Pilots, our core focus was on paid search and Facebook was just starting to gain momentum. At that time there was no optimized bidding on Facebook. Facebook also didn’t have a conversion tracking pixel at the time. There was also no lookalike audience targeting. You need to reevaluate your approach constantly because the platforms and strategies change quite often.

DRIVING GROWTH ON MULTIPLE SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS (09:05)
You need to be able to find the right audience on each platform and make sure that it's going to be relevant to what you offer. The second component is creative - the format, dynamics, and what works the best for each channel. The third pillar is optimization and the ability of the marketer to make changes such as bid changes and budget changes.

BEING CREATIVE (17:55)
In the early days on Facebook advertising, everybody was focusing creative on a very heavy direct response looking ads since there was no precedent here. Social networks began evolving and favoring more authentic-looking content. The Facebook algorithm started to recognize the engagement level and give these authentic ads more attention.
Video is very important for performance marketing. If you are using videos, creating a high volume of short content that is changing frequently seems to be the best strategy on Facebook. This also works for Snapchat and Instagram.

Part 2

WHERE FACEBOOK FITS INTO THE LANDSCAPE OF PAID SOCIAL (02:34)
Facebook is the leading indicator and one of the main drivers for any paid social strategy. It consumes roughly 80 to 90% of the paid social budget for clients that we work with.It has the largest reach and most advanced targeting.
We work with high-growth companies who spend a significant amount of money on Facebook ads. There are some companies who might see another channel perform better than Facebook, but in those cases, we run into scaling issues.

PUTTING ADS TOGETHER (08:15)
The Facebook newsfeed should generally be broken out as a placement of its own.
Instagram is more of a lifestyle platform and artistic, aspirational content tends to perform best there.
You need the right mix of authenticity and engagement when creating ads. Whenever a new ad platform rolls out, you can jump on it quickly and benefit from the early efficiencies due to fewer companies driving up costs.

HOW EXPENSIVE IT IS TO ACQUIRE A USER ON FACEBOOK (14:35)
Advertising on Facebook has definitely got more expensive. A lot of new companies popped up on the platform in recent years which caused audience saturation and increased CPMs due to competition.

Facebook’s reach is so large that there is still room for efficiency up to a certain scale, but that level of scale is shrinking due to advertiser competition.

Part 3

Using Paid Social To Drive Conversions for B2B Companies (02:33)

Linkedin is by far the most directly targetable B2B advertising platform. When we think about Linkedin, there are a couple of considerations. We are a performance marketing agency so everything we do is targeted towards some very measurable goal.

If you can afford a very high cost per lead then it makes sense to consider Linkedin as a platform and the targeting options they have.

On the other hand, Facebook and Instagram are not very professional social networks. Very few people will list jobs there.

People started checking Linkedin more regularly than in the past. This represents a big opportunity.

Organic and Paid Traffic on Linkedin (08:00)

Facebook is probably the best rendition of what Linkedin will eventually become. Before, if you could incentivize engagement signals such as likes and comments, you ended up getting an interesting viral effect. Linkedin caught on that and started changing their algorithm in order to drive the maximum amount of revenue.

The Optimization Techniques (10:18)

Linkedin does not optimize towards specific events. That’s where Facebook does its magic. Linked is much more upper funnel optimization in bidding capabilities. That's the big challenge with the Linkedin platform - the fact that you can't optimize towards those down funnel events.

That is why you need to rely heavily on UTM parameters to track what is happening down the funnel.

Advertising on Linkedin (15:31)

Linkedin is trying to monetize its platform around tools like their Sales Navigator. They are engaging the sales community and enabling cold outreach more than they focus on the marketing community for advertising delivery.

Other Channels for B2B Marketing (18:06)

We have never seen that down funnel efficacy on Twitter, whether it’s B2B or otherwise. It's really interesting because there is a very significant number of users and they have a lot of really good targeting data, but for whatever reason, those elements just don't come together and allow for a true performance marketing experience.

Personally, I am really impressed with Quora advertising platform. It's got a lot of Facebook advertising DNA built within it.

Part 4

Reaching Young Generations (02:30)

We've seen a pretty big rise in interest from companies and advertisers in reaching millennials.

Snapchat presents a really interesting case study in terms of developing that first platform that identifies with the younger generation.

If you can make somebody laugh or smile, you can expect to see a high level of engagement. That's were Snapchat did a good job.

Brands that are helping millennials solve their everyday challenges are doing that in a very millennial-friendly format.

The product and user experience also have to be focused on the target audience and not just the creative part.

Best Channels For Reaching Young People (10:00)

Instagram posts and stories. Facebook stories. Snapchat. These channels resonate the most with the younger generations.

Part 5

Why Twitter is not a primary driver for performance marketers? (02:38)

We have tried Twitter so many different times for so many different clients, and we have seen the platform scale or generate the type of ROI that we can get on the other channels.

The audience on Twitter overlaps with the audience on other platforms.

The targeting is very similar to Facebook's which is extremely effective. The bidding can be done in a similar way.

Quora, Reddit, and other niche platforms (06:49)

Pinterest has been around for such a long time and it has a huge audience. Right now, however, Pinterest is trying a lot of different things in order to find out what will stick. They are still figuring out the ways to monetize the platform.

When it comes to our clients, it is a very underrepresented platform. The ROI we get from Pinterest is too small so we don’t give it so much attention yet.

Quora is a unique content hub and they have a fantastic ad platform which is very similar to Facebook’s. It is also often among the top results in Google which gives a real advertising opportunity.

Quora provides answers to specific challenges and solutions. That’s where you will see the best success.

And when it comes to Reddit, it is a fascinating platform because people there hate advertising. They recently announced some pretty cool new functionality and I think that platform is ultimately going to become more of a self-serve performance marketing channel.

The only concern with Reddit is that it is so anti-advertising and it is difficult to see it as a scalable channel. It is worth testing it though!


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