Approach to online marketing


What online marketing strategy do you use if you run site that sells services? Where do you start?

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asked Jan 21 '11 at 12:17
Mat Banik
325 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll
  • +1 for improving the question dramatically – Tim J 13 years ago

3 Answers


My biggest strategy is to budget, and monitor the results. For my SAAS products I budget a minimum of 25% of gross profits into re-marketing.

Sometimes this 25% is paid to affiliates as a recurring commission. In other scenarios, we may place a google adwords campaign, allocating $500 for a set of keywords. If that campaign yields $1000 per month in subscription revenue then we would take 25% ($250) per month and continue to grow the same campaign. The only catch is that sometimes we "borrow" money from one winning campaign to try out another one.

We tried this with facebook ads a while ago. We budgeted $250 for a CPM campaign. For our $250 dollars we got a return of 1 subscriber at $20 per month. So, that gave us a reinvestment budget of $5.00 per month for facebook ads. Based on the results it was a failure. Facebook was just not a good fit for our product.

Our number one result has been aligning ourselves with publishers in the form of our affiliate program. If the publisher is not likely to sign up as our affiliate, or is already in bed in an ad network such as adbrite or google, then we place target ads that we track carefully in buckets. The buckets that do well continually re-invest.

I once read a blog from Bob Parsons about advertising that nailed the concept on the head. Good advertising works instantly. Even advertising tailored at just getting your name out there or building your brand should yield near instant results. If advertising doesnt give you a return on what you spent, then its time to move on. There are too many highly comissioned ad executives which will tell you that advertising takes time, and patience, what they are really saying is that if you continue to throw good money after bad then they will enjoy being your butt buddy and raping you.

Tracking what you spend on advertising is a full time job. You really should plan for tracking visits as you build your application. If you use GA (google analytics), make sure that you take advantage of url strings that track medium, source, campaign, and even split testing (although split testing is highly overrated and tends to be done incorrectly, whereas it should be done on focus groups with detailed feedback rather than just looking at results).

Building your SAAS to track where each subscription comes from, you are only a few db queries away to know where to spend your money. Monitor, graph, and pay close attention to this data. Its very sexy when you can see that continued reinvestment gives you logistical growth. Also keep in mind saturation, spending $500 per day on adwords may work, while spending $15000 may not yet you as high as a return. Break it down into buckets, and detail it down it as often as possible.

answered Jan 21 '11 at 15:01
2,079 points
  • Just a completely off topic comment: I think your comment about Facebook ads (their failure) is especially interesting. I work with advertising campaign tracking, and we've seen this, but no one seems to notice. I recently read this ( blog post from hacker news, and I believe he's spot on. – John Sj√∂lander 13 years ago
  • @John - I think the author of that needs to learn what a Ponzi scheme is. FB ads may be dubious and FB may be deceitful and the ads worthless, but a ponzi scheme is not what he describes. It is ironic that he actually tries to educate people on what a ponzi scheme is and then fails to show how FB ads are anything close to a ponzi scheme. Actually, his post could be slander/libel. It doesn't change the fact that FB ads are useless, but it isn't a ponzi scheme. – Tim J 13 years ago
  • @john, although i dont agree with facebook being a ponzi scheme, facebook is highly overrated, highly ulesless, and will soon be replaced. I remember a few years ago everything was about myspace, we see how well that went. Facebook ads are a failure because most people who are spending time on facebook are doing it to either kill time or not really qualified buyers. I hear the bs, where facebook will be an advertising giant because of the data it collects on its users, the fact is that google does a much better job serving relevant ads all over the net than what facebook does on its site. – Frank 13 years ago
  • ... what is dissapointing for me is that facebook did not use google's ad network to serve ads. The power of this, is that if a facebook visitor went to my site, google would track that through a cookie, then when they are on facebook, i would like them to see my banner ads until they sign up. This is possible with double click. Facebook having its own closed ad enviornment means that the ads you see will be tailored towards a very general audience or for online work at home scams. Bottom line, it never worked for us, or anyone we talked to. As for ponzi schemes, the united states stock – Frank 13 years ago
  • market is your best real life example of a ponzi scheme. In essence, a ponzi scheme is an investment structure where there is less true value than what is precieved. The way ponzi scammers do it is they provide a sense of security by paying out payments, these payments come from what is being collected. The reason that the USA stock market (and probably others) is a ponzi scheme is that if everyone were to pull out, cash out, then there would be a lot of people without a seat to sit on (musical chairs). Another eye opener is to take the amount of stock each company has (its shares) and... – Frank 13 years ago
  • ... just simply multiply them times its current trading price. Ebay is current at $30.02 with a volume of 15,018,261 shares. So based on its volume ebay is worth $450,848,195.22? I dont know about you, but i think i could recreate ebay for 1/10th of that. Including servers, staff, and the whole ebay platform. The reason its share is at 30 instead of 3, is because investors feel that ebay may be able to go up, might go to 33, and while on the ride they could make 3 bucks a share. The bottom line is that most public companies are part of the scam, most will never last. – Frank 13 years ago
  • .. you hear that bill gates is worth 40 billion? According to who? What were to happen if everyone cashed out of MSFT? What would that company cost to re-create. another problem in the USA is that companies are tied to stock options and even healthcare. This intransitives employees to take a seat at the casino, and discourages them for ever leaving for fear of losing their healthcare. One of the reasons we dont have universal healthcare in the USA is that corporations such as ebay, google, and others know that top talent might leave if they were not tied in by these benefits. its all a – Frank 13 years ago
  • .. big scam, all about money, and all a complete waste of time. We have a for profit prison system, we have huge rate of working poor that cannot afford to buy products (even those made in china), and a big corporate ponzi scheme which is in bed with our political system. .... I apologize for this rant, but there is some good news for entrepreneurs and small businesses. If you focus on making a brick and mortar business, invest and re invest into yourself rather than the stock market, you will be far ahead. If you are worried about inflation spread your money around. Buy real property – Frank 13 years ago
  • ..(this is why they call it REAL estate), which will overtime always out perform currencies and even gold. Continue to build your small businesses. Dont put your eggs in one basket. If you can afford to own 3 businesses, try to make them as different (this is your own personal mutual fund). And if can diversify further, make sure that all your investments (mainly property that you purchase) are not just in one country. It takes a while to do it yourself, but its a lot more secure than the Ponzi schemes you are introduced to everyday including almost all companies on the US stock exchanges – Frank 13 years ago
  • @John, et al. - I'm not sure I agree w you on FB. I don't have a profile there (!) but I had run ads for my previous gifts business and I thought the targeting was quite unique to social networks with detailed user profiles. If I recall correctly for $50 I used to get $10 gross profit (yeah, a loss but I thought it was still a good at that stage). This's the now-defunct fb page: – Simpatico 13 years ago


I run - a SaaS based service on screening programmers and I did a few things that helped

  1. 4-months before the launch of the product, I regularly blogged on the issues faced in hiring / recruitment, getting good programmers to work with, etc. This gave me quite a good readership (once we were on the homepage of HN too!) and got around 100+ subscribers. On the beta launch, sent out an invite to all of them. A good percentage liked it and spread the word amongst their network

    1. Google Adwords is effective after a particular amount. It's hard to get into the top 3 ranks within the 1st 6 months of launch, as you work on SEO, it's a good idea to get traffic via Google Adwords. Optimize the keywords and see where from you get the maximum traffic - channel / keywords, etc. This gives an idea on your immediate focus
    2. Social Media channels - IMHO, these would be effective only after getting a little traction by the above methods, nevertheless, you should follow relevant people in your space, engage in conversations, maybe ask for a quick interview, etc. These things would help you get more traction
    3. SEO - Please follow Matt Cutt's blog, there's a lot of junk advice on the net with respect to SEO!
My 2 cents.


answered Jan 21 '11 at 20:17
482 points


Consider the mediums that your typical buyer gravitates to. Launch a blog. Comment on other people's blogs. Do podcasts. Offer webinars. Join LinkedIn, Facebook, Yahoo and Google groups and participate. Create targeted Facebook pages. Launch a twitter campaign.

Neil Patel at opines quite well on how to get links to your website.

Write articles (or having a pro write them for you) that demonstrate your expertise in your field and then distribute them around the web. This is what my company does. You can check my profile if you want to see more information about that.

answered Jan 21 '11 at 13:02
Kenneth Vogt
2,917 points

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