Last week, it was the 2-year anniversary of UpViral… which I almost forgot 😮 Little did I know that it would end up doing an extra $51,495 in sales just a few days later.
Since this promotion only took me a few hours AND it’s easy to implement, I figured to write up this case-study as a “behind the scenes” to inspire others to run similar promotions in their business.
Statistics of the promotion
Note: I *very much* dislike sharing revenue numbers out in the open… but I realize it’s an effective way to show the effectiveness of a certain strategy. Got your attention, didn’t it? 😉 However, please understand that revenue and profits are NOT the same. Besides obvious expenses such as affiliate commissions and Facebook Ads, we’ve got a team of people (developers, support, HR, marketing, legal, etc) which adds up as well.
So… let’s start at the beginning.
The initial launch of UpViral (August 2015)
Just over 2 years ago, my team and I launched UpViral into the world. It was the first and only viral referral marketing platform that can be integrated into any tool or website. Inspired by Dropbox’s viral success, it allows everyone to easily integrate a viral list building into their business by incentivizing their audience to get their friends to sign up (and share your message all over the internet).
Once we got our first customers through the door, it didn’t take long to get our customer results in the mail:
“We collected over 100,000 new
subscribers in our first month”
– Matthew Longley
“Only a couple of days left with our
promo and we’ve now tipped over
208,000 subscribers using UpViral!”
– Troy Muir
Altogether, the launch was “a success”. We made a name for ourselves, got 2,000+ customers in the process AND our customers are getting the results we promised them. Win-win-win.
All is good, right?
Up to that point, my “superpower” was launching new products into the market.
- Create something that has demand.
- Make a lot of noise around it (create a buzz).
- Enter the market with a bang.
It’s a good skill to have… but it’s risky as well.
Because it’s SOOOO much easier to “make noise” about a new product (compared to an existing product), I see a lot of entrepreneurs being stuck in this “launch cycle”. They launch a product and milk it for a few months, only to move on to the next product launch.
Even though it may seem a typical launch only takes 4-7 days… it actually takes months of preparation. For every product launch, you have to:
1. Create a product
2. Get people to test-drive it (to see how well it works, collect testimonials, etc)
3. Inform affiliates at least 2-3 months in advance
4. Create a campaign to build “momentum” and buzz
5. Create sales pages, videos, Facebook Ads, etc.
6. Do a pre-launch sequence (Jeff Walker style)
(yada yada yada, there’s actually a LOT more to it… but I figured to keep it short ;-)).
Sure, this “launch model” works and there are some good lessons to be learned from that (more on that below)…
… but a LOT of the work you put into a launch will be wasted the moment your launch is over. Obviously, change was needed 🙂
The Evergreen Mindset Shift (aka Post-Launch Strategy)
Once the initial launch was over, I needed to shift my mindset from being “launch focused” to “evergreen focused”. I simply didn’t want to launch new products anymore (I rather focus on just UpViral & Connectio).
Don’t get me wrong, I still believe “launching” is a good strategy to use. It’s definitely the most effective way to generate a lot of buzz & customers in just a few days.
However… I don’t think it should be your main strategy. It’s something to leverage on the side. It’s bonus.
“So what SHOULD be your main strategy”, you ask?
Let’s dive into the “HOW” first. Over the years, I’ve learned to apply the following 3 rules in whatever I do:
Rule of thumb #1: Focus on things that you can use as long-term assets for your business.
Don’t throw away your hard work. My rule of thumb is that 80% of my time, I should work on things that will still have an impact on my business 2 years from now.
“80% of your time should be focused on
things that will still have an impact on
your business 2 years from now”
- When I write email promotions, I turn them into email automations.
- When I create content, I focus on strategies that are not time-sensitive.
- When I shoot pre-launch videos, I don’t mention any dates so I can easily turn them into evergreen video sequences.
This way, my hard work won’t be in vain.
Rule of thumb #2: Turn everything in templates, processes & automations
I’ll admit I’m a bit of a freak on this one… I’m desperately trying to prevent repetitive work.
- Whenever I write something more than twice, I add it into TextExpander.
- Whenever I explain someone on my team how to do something, I turn it into a SOP (standard operating procedure) so it never needs to be explained again.
- Anything that can be automated (for example using Zapier), I automate it right away.
“Give me six hours to chop down
a tree and I will spend the first
four sharpening the axe.”
– Abraham Lincoln
It’s not just a big time-saver, it’s also an important aspect of the $51k promotion I’m revealing below.
Rule of thumb #3: Leverage everything you do in multiple ways
Whenever I can, I try to leverage my work in various ways. For example, I’m using the video below as a video ad, I posted it on my Facebook Page, published it on my podcast and it’s part of my indoctrination email sequence. All that from one video.
“Leverage whatever you’re doing
in multiple ways”
For example, the video above was created for 4 different purposes.
In terms of WHAT kind of evergreen strategies to focus on… It depends… but it should be something that’s both consistent and reliable. Here are some of the strategies I’ve been focusing on to grow UpViral (in no particular order):
- Facebook Ads
- Email Automations (got 118 automations runing at the moment)
- ViralHacking (of course)
- Affiliate marketing
- Content marketing
I’d LOVE to dive into all the strategies we’ve implemented since that time… but that would be the equivalent of writing a book (or 3, lol).
How’s this working out, you ask? Here’s a screenshot of Google Analytics:
Screenshot of Google Analytics (August 2015 – Now)
As you’ll see, we got 64,951 unique visitors on our inital launch in August 2015 (which took months of preperation)…
… which is roughly the same as we’re getting now. Every… Single… Month. In June 2017 we got 67,327 unique visitors, for example.
So yeah… I kinda dig evergreen marketing!Time to dive into the “meat” of this article. The part you’ve been scrolling for 😉
Time to dive into the “meat” of this article. The part you’ve been scrolling for 😉
[LAUNCHING] + [EVERGREEN STRATEGY] = 🎉🎉
What do you when you’re good at product launches but you don’t want to launch new products?
You figure out a way to do mini-launches without new products 😉 Most people tend to believe they need to have a new product in order to do a launch. The case study below will prove those people wrong 😀
As mentioned, it was UpViral’s 2-year anniversary last week! Perfect reason for a mini-launch event, right?
However… I didn’t realize it was coming up until 3 days in advance 😮 Yikes!
One of those days was a weekend (and I typically don’t work on weekends) while the remaining two days were fully packed… leaving me only a couple of hours to work on a promotion / mini-launch.
“Keep reading… you won’t believe what happened next!”
(Oh my gosh, what a clickbait sentence haha – just having fun ;-)).
The 9 Steps To Run Effective Promotions Without Wasting Your Time
Here’s the situation. I had only a few hours to map out a promotion from A to Z and still wanted maximum sales numbers… so what did I do?
I focused on the things that would have the biggest impact.
You’ll find the step-by-step list below.
Step #1: Create templates & pre-created assets
This one happened long before the promotion, but it’s important to point out. I could never have created a sales copy, record a sales video, put together the pages and all of these things in a matter of hours.
For example, the sales page we used was largely created 2 years ago. Only had to make a couple of changes (see below) and it was good to go!
My Trello board where I store a lot of templates & assets.
Step #2: List all occasions your business could celebrate
This is something I didn’t do… but should have. I highly recommend making a list of all potential celebrations and/or promotions in order to map out all promotions in advance.
It’s anniversary, a special occasion, new features being added, Black Friday, etc.
Knowing these dates in advance will give you more time than I had 😉
Step #3: Map out your promotion schedule
Next, you’re going to pick some of these occasions to run a special promotion for your product or service. You could add a discount, add bonuses, or both.
We did both.
Next is the timeline. How long will you run each promotion?
I went for a 3-day promotion, as I believe it works best for a “mini-launch” like this. One day is simply too short (not everyone is online every day), but you also don’t want to drag it on for a week.
“3 days is the perfect length for a
mini-launch or promotion”
Recently added this to the wall to plan things better (= highly recommended)
Step #4: Set the stage by sending value first
Before doing any sending any kind of “pitch” into the world, I like to ‘set the stage’ by sending out value first. Enforce the relationship. This could be an epic blog post, video, case study, etc… as long as it’s being perceived as value.
Unfortunately… I didn’t have time to create good content on short notice so I went for an alternative route.
A few days prior we had released 10 new features to UpViral which I summarized in the video below. The video has nothing “salesy”, pitchy or anything like that – all it’s doing is showing the 10 latest features we’ve added to the platform.
I decided to leverage this video prior to the promotion.
This video would:
- Make people aware of UpViral (most people don’t buy after seeing something once).
- Gets the point across that we’re constantly updating the platform (it’s getting better and better over time).
- Makes them more receptive to the upcoming promotion.
Once I realized I was going to run a promotion, I sent it out to all my email subscribers (I already sent it to part of my list before).
I also spent €100.55 on Facebook Ads to show this video to those who visited upviral.com over the last 180 days.
Stats of the video ad after spending €100.55.
Step #5: Create your sales/offer page
An offer needs a sales page, but when you lack time to create one… you have to be creative.
Here’s what I did:
1. Used a previous sales page
2. Recorded a 90-sec video in which I talk about the 2-year anniversary
3. Edited that 90-sec video in front of the original sales video
4. That’s it!
It’s really that easy. Took me an hour to set up. Here’s the result:
Here’s the script I used for the first part of the sales video:
As you can tell, it's time to celebrate because today is a special day. It's the 2-year anniversary of UpViral and I couldn't be more excited. Just in case we haven't met before, my name is Wilco de Kreij and I'm the founder of UpViral. And 2 years ago, my team and I went on a mission to create the ultimate list building platform lleveraging viral marketing, and it's safe to say we've succeeded. It's been an amazing journey so far. The team has grown from just a few people to a team of 20. And I just checked the latest stats, and we've already generated over 37 million visitors for our customers straight into their lead capture pages, resulting in well over 7 million leads collected - all by getting other people to promote your site for you. Obviously, we want to help more businesses around the world to build a bigger email list AND we didn't want to let our anniversary pass unnoticed, which is why we're doing a massive special anniversary offer for a couple days only. This means that you can get access to UpViral Pro at almost 50% off. If you go to our main page, you'll see that the regular price is $49/month which equals close to $600 year, but if you get in today you'll get it for only $297/year. On top of that, I've decided to add a major bonus package as well, because you'll even get our Viral Hacks Masterclass. It's a course that we usually sell seperately, but you'll get it added into your account for free as well if you get access today. With that having said, let me show you our "regular" video to give you a good idea of what UpViral is all about. Thanks for watching and I'm looking forward seeing you on the inside!
Step #6: Notify affiliates to promote the offer
Whenever I do a launch, I try to invite affiliates at least 2 months ahead of time. Why? Because they got their promotion schedule of their own which means last minute announcements usually don’t cut it.
This time was – once again – different. No heads up, no “buzz”, not even a fancy looking affiliate page.
I quickly put together an Evernote doc (see below) and sent that to affiliates who promoted my product in the past.
My “affiliate page” (aka an Evernote doc)
Due to the late notice, only a couple affiliates were able to promote. Altogether they generated $15,542 in sales during the promotion.
Step #7: Email your subscribers
Once the promotion is live, it’s time to get the word out to your email list. In order to save time, I wrote & scheduled all emails in advance so I could ‘check’ this off my todo-list.
On a 3-day promotion, I usually follow the same formula.
- Day 1: Email that’s about the opportunity and the reason behind the special offer (click here to see the email I sent)
- Day 2: Leverage social proof by sending out testimonials from others (click here to see the email I sent)
- Day 3: Tell them it’s the last day of the special offer (click here to see the email I sent)
(Feel free to use my emails as a source of inspiration, but please don’t copy them 1:1)
As you’ll notice, I start with a story and the WHY of the promotion. On day 2 I usually include one or multiple images with social proof (e.g. a Facebook comment, email I received, etc), and 3 day is always super short.
It’s a formula that works every. single. time.
Step #8: Run Facebook Ads
Not everyone opens their email OR is on my email list for that matter… so obviously I had to run Facebook Ads to get the word out.
Due to the timeframe, I decided to only target people who were already AWARE of UpViral. Why? Because targeting an ice-cold audience takes more time to tweak & test to see what works. I’ll use my evergreen funnels for that 🙂
Facebook Ad 1 (the “main” one)
I walked downstairs, shot a quick 60-second video in my living room and uploaded it to Facebook. Here’s the ad:
The Facebook video ad I ran
I targeted this ad to the following audiences:
- Targeted everyone who opened my emails, but didn’t click (using ConnectAudience)
- Targeted everyone who visited our “pricing” page over the last 180 days.
- Targeted everyone who spent at least 1 minute on upviral.com (using ConnectRetarget)
- Targeted everyone who watched 3 seconds or more of the video mentioned in step 4.
Facebook Ad 2 (Retargeting)
Once people visited the sales page of the special offer but didn’t purchase, I ran the most effective retargeting ad you can run. It’s what I call the “social proof carousel”.
The retargeting ad
Facebook Ad 3 (Scarcity)
The last day is the most important day of the promotion. If you did your job well, people will understand the value of your product… which doesn’t mean they’ve bought it.
By running a time-limited special offer, you’ll “force” them to make a decision, because the next day the special offer will be gone.
For that reason, I always create a set of Facebook Ads to remind people it’s the last day which usually gets the highest ROI across the board.
This time… I even recorded my screen WHILE I was setting up these ads (so you can see exactly what I’m doing).
40 minute video of how I set up my Facebook Ads (in-depth look)
Below you’ll see the two ads I’ve created for this:
Video ad to remind people it’s the last day.
Image ad to remind people it’s the last day
I just made one *ahum* tiny mistake with these last two ads…
… I didn’t create them until it was too late 😮
Uploaded them to Facebook somewhere in the afternoon, and for whatever reason it took them quite a while to get approved… which means they were running for 1 hour before they were shut off again.
Waste of time, haha.
When going through the ads above, you’ll notice a few things:
- Video ads: I mostly use video ads because they’re cheap, effective… and I find them easiest to create (I often just press record on my iPhone and upload without editing).
- Conversational tone: Instead of being overly salesy, I try to use my own “voice” in the ads.
- Using my own name: I’m often using my own name instead of running the ads from UpViral. Seems to convert better.
- Subtitles: I add subtitles to my videos. Many people watch videos muted.
- Emoticons: I use emoticons to grab the attention.
Altogether I spent €187.20 (= ± $220 USD) on Facebook Ads, which resulted in $5,346 in revenue (a healthy 2,330% ROI).
Step #9: Close your offer
It goes without saying, but closing your offer is just as important as opening it up. By making your offer time sensitive, you’ll push people to make a decision during your promotion (instead of delaying their decision and eventually forget about it).
That’s really all there is to it.
Wrapping things up
Altogether I spent roughly 7 hours setting up this promotion from A to Z. No, not “kinda working”… HARD WORK! Nothing comes easy.
Altogether I was able to trace back $51,495 to this promotion, although part of the revenue didn’t get tracked properly meaning the actual revenue number is quite a bit higher… I’ll leave that open to your imagination 😉
Some lessons I learned:
- Keep it LEAN (usually, I try to do things “perfect” which takes a lot more time).
- Be prepared (have assets & templates you can rely on)
- Grab opportunities (would’ve been a waste if I didn’t celebrate the 2-year anniversary)
“Imperfect action is better than
– Harry S Truman
I’m hoping this article inspires you to run frequent promotions for your business as well. With that having said, there’s just one more thing I want to ask…
I’d be SO SO grateful if you’d share this article. Would motivate me to do more write-ups like this one!