2: Advertising From the Ground Up

intro

Welcome back to the 4 Week Launch Blog on Air Vinyl! In my first post I wrote about a challenge I set for myself to start my first business and generate my first sale in 4 weeks using $500.  At the end of the challenge I had successfully created 3 products and made the first sale in only 3 weeks from having the original idea!  What's to follow in this blog is an in-depth look into how I'm running the business and the decisions I'm making along the way.  As I said in my Intro post, I want my business to be an open book so you can all see just what it takes to run with an idea (and hopefully inspire some of you to just go for it and create something).  So let's jump in and see what's been going on for the last 2 weeks.

Topics to Cover

  1. Social Media Advertising
  2. Getting Noticed by Influencers and Reviewers
  3. Sales Update
 

Where do you even start?

Ok, so I made one sale. That was the result of going on Instagram and liking every picture with #airpods I could find and hoping that someone saw it and said, "hey, that's pretty cool", and bought one.  Finger pain aside, that's not the best way to generate an effective sales strategy.  Over the last 2 weeks, there have been 2 strategies for driving traffic to my site: social media marketing and articles written by reviewers about the product.

 

Social Media

Instagram "Shop Now" Campaign

Instagram "Shop Now" Campaign

We've all seen the sponsored posts on Facebook and Instagram pop up in our news feeds - that's what I wanted for Air Vinyl to try and get some early traction and followers.  Instagram was the first place I went to to start playing around with ads.  The second you open up the promotional options, one of the first things you need answer is, who is your target market?  Male or Female?  What age range?  Location?  Interests? I needed to get answers to all of these.  So what I decided to do was take a guess and play around with some $5 daily promotions to target different groups.  Below are the results of those 5 campaigns. All were $5/day and 2 campaigns ran for a few days to try to see what effect that had (those are the $20 and $35 ads in the graphic below). As a background for those who may not be familiar with the terminology, here's a quick explanation of the names used to look at ad results.

 

Results - The number of times your ad achieved an outcome, based on the objective you selected. (for my case, a result was a button click to my shop page)

Reach - The number of people who saw your ad at least once. 

Cost per Result - The average cost per result from your ad.

 

Let's dive a bit into the results of the most effective ad based on the 'Cost per Result'.  To start, I defined my audience. 

Gender: Male & Female

Age: 16 - 30

Location: California

Interests: Apple, Music, Exercise

This is a very general grouping.  You can tell that I went broad with the audience, and to be honest, all of my initial ads were pretty generic so that I could try to collect info about who may be clicking through to my page.  Here's what Facebook's Ad Manager displays for your results:

So this is useful! I can see that more men are seeing the post (green bar) and have a higher click-through (blue bar).  Out of that, the majority of those people were between the ages of 13-17.  However, a small sample size can be deceiving and that's why you run multiple ads to determine your ideal audience.  Here are the result of the same ad campaign, but ran on Facebook over the course of 7 days.

Now I have a way bigger sample size in terms of the number of people reached and the results are totally different.  Females, 18-24 have the highest click-through even though more men are seeing the ad.  And then on the flip side, Males, 25-34 are also having a high click-through.  So what does this mean? It means I don't know enough about my audience.  That's not to say that the results aren't helpful (because they are!), but I definitely need to know more about who's buying.  So maybe the next step is to learn more about social media advertising in general and figure out a solid plan from someone who does this for a living - thankfully, there's a friend I can call for that! More on this later though.

 

Can you Put Me in your Tech blog?

Social media marketing is great, but an effective way to get yourself noticed by potential customers is to be featured in articles, tech blogs, write-ups, etc.  The cost for this is low as well, since all I have to do is spend some time reaching out and asking if I can send samples to them to review.  Besides, it's super easy to get featured in Engadget and Wired, right? Yea, not so much.  However, I was able to get 2 tech blogs to write about my product and that had dramatic effects on my website traffic and sales.

For 3 days (April 3 - 5), I sent emails to tech news sites.  Most of what I was doing was searching for the sites I knew and sending emails to the generic email addresses they listed, like tips@9to5mac.com.  Here's one of the actual emails I sent:

 
Email Image Attachment
 

Some good things in that email, but mainly just a lot of room for improvement.

Needs Improvement

  • The contact I'm sending to is generic
  • This email looks like I copied and pasted it to dozens of other people and just changed the name (Spoiler: I did.)
  • Like a bad date, I just talked about myself the whole time.

What's Good

  • The picture is good quality and showcases the product well
  • No spelling mistakes (I think I'm reaching for pros...)
 

Maybe expected, but I didn't get any responses from these emails.  But that's why I listen to Podcasts - specifically The Smart Passive Income Podcast by Pat Flynn.  Highly recommended if you're interested in starting your own online business and want to listen to real stories from people who took to their laptops and created something.  One of the guests I listened to on April 5, was Brett Miller.  Brett quit his job to create Brik Book, a MacBook case with a LEGO pattern on the lid.  He was extremely effective in getting his product featured on tech sites and gave a simple tip to get noticed.

I actually went to some of the major tech blogs - Gizmodo, Wired, Engadget - and I found contributors or journalists on those blogs that write about either toys or LEGO or something related to the campaign I was running. Then once you find their name, you just do some digging and stuff on Google to get their email address. Then I sent out maybe only 6 or 8 emails and I got responses from 6 of them and 4 of them ended up writing articles about us, including Gizmodo and we were on the homepage of Wired as well.
— Brett Miller, SPI Podcast Ep. 217

Great timing to be listening to that episode.  I took Brett's advice and started finding the writers and editors of articles written about AirPods and AirPod accessories.  With this list of specific influencers building, I looked to Brett's next piece of advice - the content.

Try to hit on the things you know are going to interest them, but also personalize it. At the beginning of the email, I always mentioned a previous article they’ve written about because I think that that really helps sort of immediately dismiss that it could be this mass email that you’ve sent to 300 or 400 people.
— Brett Miller, SPI Podcast Ep. 217

Not only is this a great piece of advise to get noticed, but step back a little and think about what else you are gaining.  By actually reading these articles and learning from a writer that spent time collecting information and expressing an opinion, you are able to learn a lot about your market and potential customers.  Be genuinely interested in the content that they write! It is your business after all.

So here's take 2 of my email.

 

Ok now we're getting somewhere!  With those emails sent I had 5 responses in less than 24 hours, including an article all about Air Vinyl in The Gadgeteer and a mention and link to Air Vinyl in The Verge!  Let's take a look at what happens to your site traffic when you have articles like that written about your product.

By looking at the analytics on Squarespace of where my site traffic came from (called referrals), 50% were from The Gadgeteer or The Verge.  You can see the big spikes in visits from this on the right side of the graphic. I'd say that's effective!

 

Sales Update

With 1 sale at the end of the 4 Week Launch Challenge, I want to show you how sales have continued into the first 2 week period.  The following chart shows the sales activity by day.  The initial spike in the beginning mainly consisted of very supportive family members and friends, however, there were a few that were the result of the initial Facebook Ads.  Then, after a few static days, sales picked up again.  This time not from my mom! After The Gadgeteer and The Verge wrote their articles and traffic spiked to my site, there were significantly more customer conversions. As of now, Air Vinyl is sitting at about $100 in revenue. Not any staggering results, but hey, you need to start somewhere!


Final Thoughts

All in all, this has been a very successful 2 week period.  I saw a little bit of sales activity pickup and was featured in 2 tech articles.  There were a handful of other editors and writers that responded to my emails and I sent them samples of the product to review, so hopefully this is just the beginning.  In the next update I will be going over some more details around the product itself and talk about how I used customer feedback to make the next product designs.  Thanks for reading and remember to comment, or email me at ryan@airvinyldesign.com, with any feedback you have.  The reason for being so open about my business is to spark conversations and have us all learn throughout this journey.

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Ryan

Founder, Air Vinyl Design and The 4 Week Launch