How to get your feet wet in online marketing coming from a traditional FMCG background (Part 1)

Moving from traditional marketing to digital marketing was tough for me. I was used to the world of TARPs/GRPs, 3+ frequencies, equity measures, and HHP data. Now that a new distribution channel has emerged, which is the internet, I had to deal with a new whole set of jargon. New terms like PPC, CRO, SEO, A/B Testing, LTV, and Chun started overwhelming my head. For a FMCG marketer who’s used to a supposedly “time-tested” marketing model, I felt that I have become obsolete. I’ve tried testing out some of these new “growth hacking” strategies and yet I’m still left behind.

It took me some time but I’ve finally found out how to organize it all. I’ve been using the same framework to help me organize the “100 ways to growth hack” tactics that are prevalent online. By then, I was able to leverage my time-tested corporate marketing approach to properly strategize and plan my digital marketing efforts.

I’ve also figured out what works and what doesn’t work, which has allowed me to start with a good ground. But I’ve also accepted the experimental approach that’s popular in online marketing, and I’ve built it in my day-to-day marketing planning.

Let’s go through all of these.

How to Structure & Measure Your Online Marketing Strategy

In the FMCG world, we’re familiar with the “Awareness – Relevance – Trial – Repeat” model, where awareness & relevance is tracked through equity measurement models and trial & repeat rates are tracked through Household Panel Data (HHP).

In online marketing, the model is different. The generally accepted framework here is “Acquisition – Activation – Retention – Revenue – Referral” (AARRR), which is coined by Dave McClure, the Founder of 500Startups (seed-stage VC firm).

Here are the definitions and measures:


To note, the measures here are not set in stone. It is up to your judgment (and testing) to determine what is the right metric for your business. Twitter, for example, doesn’t consider their user fully activated unless s/he follows 7 or more users. They’ve discovered through experimentation that if a user has followed 7 or more users, retention rate is far higher than a user who has followed less than 6 followers. So if you try to sign up for Twitter today and not follow more than 6 people, you’ll notice a big wave of notifications and emails from Twitter to get you to follow more people. After you’ve done that, you’ll notice that it will subside.

What Works and What Doesn’t Work

Given the large scope of AARRR, I’ll focus on the first two challenges marketers have: acquisition and activation.

But before I dive into those, as a FMCG marketer, I expect that you have three basic assets as part of your digital marketing efforts:
1. A company site with a page that includes your full product portfolio
2. A link below each product that redirects to a checkout page or to a partner eCommerce site (like Walmart or Costco).
3. A pool of banner ads that you place where you consumer hangs out

Driving Acquisition

Since FMCG marketers are already quite familiar with linking consumer psychographics with the right websites, I will skip that. I think the main question that you have in mind is “what kinds of banner ads work?”

You may have seen or heard multiple studies that contend that “improving contrast” or “simplifying the color scheme” drive click through rates (CTR). They’re wrong. What you need to focus on is nailing the headline.

Traditionally, FMCG marketers craft the headline in terms of the benefit proposition. While this works in the retail context, you need to remind yourself that the banner ad is NOT in the same context. Thus the same model does not apply. Most likely, your consumer is just casually browsing through Facebook or any news site and has little-to-zero tolerance for fancy claims.

Instead, what you need to do is to stir up their current casual mindset by leveraging what we call the “curiosity gap”.

Here are some examples:

“An old couple celebrate their 80-year anniversary in unique fashion!”
“How do smart kids REALLY solve math questions?”
“See how Aimee Song does her day make-up!”

Again, the mindset of people while browsing online is that of curiosity: they stalk other people’s profiles, they slide through pictures in Business Insider, and they just “like” & “share”.

In an FMCG context, how might that look like? It could be:

“Scientists discover a common home item that can cause hairfall! Discover more. (re: Pantene on copper-filled shower heads)”
“Moms: it’s clinically proven that most soaps can only protect 1 out of 3 types of germs! Learn More.(re: Safeguard protecting 3 types of germs vs 1)”

Once you’ve nailed the right headline for your brand, you will disproportionately turn those impressions into click throughs.

Driving Activation

Once the user arrives at your site, the next objective is to drive the user to some sort of action. If your educational headline is linked to an educational article, get them to opt-in to your mailing list. If your promo headline is linked to a “buy now” landing page, then the objective is obviously for them to buy.

Now how should it look like?

Here are the best practices for education-linked headlines:
– Large Pictures
– Write up of 200 words or less
– Slideshow format (ideally)
– An opt-in at the end

Here’s how it’s executed:

Snappy write up with a large picture


Slideshow (yep, big pictures again)


A sample pop up


Here are the best practices for “buy now” pages:
– Anchoring
– Scarcity
– Urgency

I’ve talked about this in detail here.

That’s it for now. I hope you got the basics of acquisition and activation down pat. If not, shoot me a mail at In part 2 of this article, I’ll be talking about how to A/B Test your headlines at a cost optimal way! No coding needed :)

Sign up below so to catch Part II!

1 checklist to increase traffic for consumer products (doggy care! shampoo! gaming! xyz!)

You’re confident in your product but you’re not confident in yourself. You just can’t seem to put your product in front of enough people. Your product is so simple. “It’s just doggy care!” “Just shampoo!” “A game!” You’ve tried what you can do. You’ve set up a website and you got that Facebook page out. And yet you still fail to generate traffic. You might have even forced yourself to ask your Facebook friends to “like” your content. You must felt like an idiot doing that.

And then you hunt for that right marketing approach for your business. You consult message boards and forums for landing page critiques or customer acquisition advice so you can finally get that right tactic or that right strategy for your business to start generating traffic.

And you can get that certainty. I’ve worked with 7 different brands in my life and I’ve figured it out.

Here’s the main advice that I want to share:

There is no right strategy. Nor there is a right tactic that fits your context. Your business is not unique.

Hear me out.

Look around you: why is it that big corporations like Procter & Gamble, L’Oreal, and General Mills have so many different and unique brands and yet they seem to operate well? Wouldn’t the employees get confused when they switch to different brands because they’ll need to change their frameworks?

The answer is… no, they don’t get confused. It doesn’t matter if it’s Iams (pet food), Pantene (shampoo), or Tide (detergent), any business unit within the big corporation hums along very well.

That’s because these brands, specifically consumer brands, are not very different. This is a mindset that you need to lock in your mind.

Okay, enough of that pep talk. Now that you got the mindset right, here’s the checklist to drive more traffic to your business.


Note: yeah, that’s a really long list. But it helps keep you accountable! If you’d like to put it up as a wallpaper as a constant reminder (actually, you should if you want results), I’ll send it over to you for free if you subscribe to my newsletter below-

How to negotiate for a third-party integration to increase your SaaS’ customer base

You know that to grow your customer base, you need to integrate your SaaS with third-party software. This allows you to delegate the work of marketing your product to another SaaS company and in exchange, you deliver upsell opportunities for your partner. But while this delivers you a fair amount of sign ups, a lot of vendors remain uninterested.

So how do you negotiate for a third party integration?

Many developers-turned-entrepreneurs don’t realize it, but this is their first foray into business development. Business development is the process of building partnerships to jointly create more revenue streams. Now let’s get your BD hat on. These are the steps that you need to take:

  1. Build a lead list
  2. Contact the leads, set a meeting
  3. Prospect during the meeting
  4. Pitch
  5. Feed outcomes back to how you’ve filtered the lead list
  6. Repeat

Here they are in detail:


I. Build a Lead List

I’ve touched on a simple, zero-dollar lead generation process earlier; but I’ll be running through it here in more detail. If you’ve done the steps in the link, you may have hit a barrier with regards to search queries. Linkedin only allows a fixed number of searches. To subvert this, you only need to use this specific search query in Google:

“<position>* * * Present” “Location * <location>” OR

There are two specific inputs needed here: the position and the location. See below how it translates to a search query for founders in the New York area.

“Founder * * * Present” “Location * Greater New York City Area” OR

The query should produce something like the photo below: a long, juicy 10-page list of leads.


Once she has accepted your invitation to connect in Linkedin, click on “connections”. Then, click “export connections”. Download your .CSV file.


Open the .CSV file. You’ll see a good, long list of emails that you can contact.



II. Contact the leads, set a meeting

“But that’s sooo spammy!” “It will be bad for my image!” “What if she won’t respond!”

I understand. I felt that too. But the trick is to keep the tone casual and you only need to ask for a referral. It’s only spammy if it’s “professional” and if you’re selling something. You’re not. You’re just looking for the right contact who could be interested. Here’s my template:

Hi [first name],

I hope I’m not bothering you. Could you please refer me to the person in charge of [Something that’s relevant to my product]?

Thanks for your time,


Easy, right? Once you’ve found the right person, set a meeting. Here’s another template:

Hi [first name],

[this other guy] referred me to you.

I’m [your name] and I’m [position] for [company]. We [state your value proposition].

I wanted to book a 20 minute call with you sometime in the next 2 days to discuss a potential partnership. Can you share with me your availability now so we can plan out the meeting?

Thanks for your time,


Apart from the actionability of this email, the fact that it has been referred (ideally by a superior) adds some weight to the email. This increases the chance to get your meeting booked.


III. Prospect During the Meeting

The goal of the meeting is not to sell. Rather, it is to qualify if the person will need your service or not. Think of yourself as a doctor. You don’t prescribe to a patient upfront that they need X, Y, or Z medicine. You diagnose first and then determine if there’s something that needs to be fixed or not. Here’s a starter set of questions:

  1. What are you focused on in your company? As an individual and as a company?
  2. What are the biggest projects of the company now? (ie. dig for incentives)
  3. How are you guys planning to accomplish this?
  4. How do you know that you are successful? What metrics do you use?
  5. Are there specific customer problems that you can’t solve / not a priority?

Once you have the information from these four questions, then you can frame the pitch. If you cannot solve or help their biggest problems, then tell her anyway about your plans. Also share that there’s no synergy. This is better than a “failed sale” because there are no “ill feelings” that come with a failed sale. She continues to be a contact that you can leverage in the future.


IV. Pitch

If there is an alignment between your value proposition and the objectives of your prospect, then it’s time to pitch. Here’s the process:

  1. Create a story about the problem of your prospect’s customer (ie. what your prospect is raring to solve but can’t for some reason)
  2. Tell how your solution removes that problem (ie. the value proposition)
  3. Share an example from an old client (ie. the social proof)
  4. Provide your terms for the deal


V. Feed outcomes back to how you filter your lead list

Once you have experienced an outcome (favorable or unfavorable), feed the insights back to your filter criteria. Play with decision maker type, problem type, pricing tier, etc. Over time, you will arrive at a specific segmentation that will allow you to scale your integration marketing strategy into a repeatable system.

Note: I’ve only scratched the surface here. If you like the content, subscribe to my newsletter now to get more actionable templates, tools, and processes.

1 Free ROI tool to make social media marketing relevant for your cynical boss

You know what I’m talking about: you’re working for this backwards company, with a boss who “kinda knows” marketing is relevant, but doesn’t really invest on it. You think the boss doesn’t understand it at all. You want to move on, probably go to a startup which appreciates marketing and “growth hacking” better instead of thrashing around in your lame traditional business.

Hold up. It doesn’t have to be that way. At the end of the day, what your boss wants are measurable results. Marketing isn’t that fluffy of an activity to be like. What you need to present is clear ROI. X facebook spend generates Y revenue. Z twitter spend generates A revenue. And tell you what: in my experience working for one of the largest advertisers before, social media marketing has superior ROI than offline marketing. I’ll show you a simple and free way to do it.

You only need to gather the following ingredients:

  1. A tool that allows you to do regression analysis (like this online tool)
  2. Spending data across all marketing mediums (eg. TV, radio, print media, social, etc.)

You don’t need to study statistics to understand regression analysis. I’ll take you through the process and I’ll help you explain the results.

Now, when you open up the link, it will show you this:


The number of data points: can either be the number of months or number of weeks. What matters is that you define the length of the campaign and you determine a way to split that campaign into observable pieces

The number of variables: the number of marketing mediums the business uses AND revenue. So if you have TV and Social as mediums then you have 3 variables.

Let’s say you have 10 data points and 3 variables. Once you click “OK”, you should see the table below:


Let’s now fill it up with some sample data:


Click “calculate”, and you should see something like this:


This is how you interpret it:

  • For every unit increase in X1, there is a corresponding ~1.9 unit increase in Y.
    • Translation: 1.9 ROI for TV
  • For every unit increase in X2, there is a corresponding ~5.8 unit increase in Y.
    • Translation: 5.8 ROI for Social

The constant at the end (ie. “4875”) is the margin of error. For example, if we take the ROI numbers in the regression model as is, if we spend $30k on TV and $20k on Social, we get a predicted revenue of $173k +/- $4.8k.

Now that you got multilinear regression down pat (fist bump!), show it to your boss to get extra support for your investment plans!

*Note: all this advice has been for outbound marketing. Do you want to know how I approach calculating the ROI for design changes? Sign up below and I can teach you how!

Strong CTR but weak conversion in your Landing Page? 3 steps for better landing page copywriting

People have more or less figured out Google Adwords but they struggle with landing page conversion. That’s because for Adwords, there’s far less margin of error: you only have to bother with the headline, keywords, and body. But for landing pages, the degree of difficulty increases by an order of magnitude. There are concerns with regards to the design, on whether its too warm to be professional or if the navigational elements make sense. There are also concerns with regards to the overall flow of the page and of the copy.

These can be managed. The great thing is that the art and science of landing pages has existed long enough that there are standards and best practices for color schemes, navigation, flow, and copywriting. If we get any of these elements right, then there’s a guarantee that conversion rate will improve.

We’ve mentioned previously how to figure out color schemes and landing page flow. This time, let’s talk about copywriting.

In my experience, these are the three biggest drivers for conversion (in a copywriting context):

  1. Principle of Anchoring
  2. Principle of Scarcity
  3. Principle of Urgency

*To note, this works best for products with a maximum cash outlay of $45. The higher the price, the more involvement there needs to be on a sales standpoint.

First Principle: Anchoring

  • Anchoring is the psychological bias where if you show the more expensive item first, then other product prices look more ‘reasonable’. The science is best explained in William Poundstone’s book: “Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value”.

Below is an example from Highrise CRM. Given the anchor of the Premium Plan (as people read from left to right), the popular plan looks a lot more reasonable.

highrisecrm price

Second Principle: Scarcity

  • Scarcity is the psychological bias where we attribute more value to things that are rare or limited in quantity.

An example of scarcity in action are ‘limited seats’ for webinars or ‘bonus items’ as part of a package.

Third Principle: Urgency

  • Urgency is the psychological bias where we value things that may become unavailable (due to loss aversion).

An example of urgency in action are ‘early bird’ rates for products.


Those are the key three principles for better copywriting via conversion. You may have heard other things like social proof and association; but if you ask me, these are not as strong drivers as the 3 principles I just shared. The reason being social proof and association are best used to nurture a lead for her to consider the product. It doesn’t push a qualified lead to convert unlike the 3 principles I’ve shared above.

If you’d like a more thorough explanation of what types of copywriting nurtures and what copywriting converts, leave a comment!

[CASE: Personal Care] 1 strategy template to increase the sales of consumer goods products

“I recently started selling personal care products (soaps, scrubs, shampoo, etc…) and would like to attend my 1st trade show. Any tips or advice you can pass on?”

Earlier, we discussed how the U3 strategy template applies to the water purifier industry. Now, let’s see it in action in the personal care category.

In the case above, you’d notice that she’s preparing to sell through a trade show. But there’s a fundamental error here: if she’s selling this to end-consumers, then she’s not in the right channel. To frame ourselves correctly on how we should approach our marketing strategy, let’s review the U3 model:


Given this U3 model, what’s the set of hypotheses we should invalidate in this context? Let’s assume that the person is selling shampoos that reduce hair fall:


In this context, given that the user insight is around stress-induced hairfall, the right question to ask to determine where to distribute and market the product is where does the pain happen? Specifically it’s at work so it makes sense to distribute the product in retail stores near work like convenience stores. If the plan is to distribute samples, the same principle applies.

Now that is settled, when does it make sense to distribute your product in trade shows? In the personal care context, when will it make sense? To me, it will only make sense if the intent is to partner with distributors in the area. If you want to make your product available in areas where you cannot reach (eg. rural areas), then it will make sense to be in trade shows as it allows you to engage distributors who specialize in far-flung rural areas.


As a general rule, trade shows are only for B2B marketing, not for B2C marketing.

Is your landing page too warm and friendly to be professional?

“I’ve designed my landing page to be warm and friendly. Have I gone too far? Does my color scheme look unprofessional?”

There’s a wrong assumption here. Can you tell what it is?

The assumption here is that ‘a professional look’ is a function of the degree of warmth and the degree of coolness of the color scheme. The less warm a color scheme is, the more professional it looks like and vice versa. Not only is this wrong, but you’re pulling yourself into a qualitative loop where you don’t really know whether how much is too much.

The right question to determine whether a color scheme is professional or casual is based on the color scheme type. In other words, is the scheme monochromatic, analogous, complementary, or triadic?

Before we show you the tool, let’s look through what each term means:

scheme guide

Now that you got the basic definitions down, here’s the tool to check if your color scheme has a ‘professional’ tone or a ‘casual’ tone:

tonality guide

To see this expressed in landing pages, see below how each color scheme may look like in various landing pages:

tonality landing page guide

And that’s it! Next time, when you’re determining the design strategy of your landing page, select the type of color scheme first then work from there.


Don’t worry, both are NOT affiliate links :)


4 criteria to make the most out of your landing page value proposition

“I’m nailing my CTR — mine’s above the baseline of 2% — but I can’t convert them in my landing page.”

People spend too much time on landing pages. I’ve mentioned earlier how one even spent months tinkering with it. But the craft of building landing pages has evolved to the point where there are best practices. Despite these best practices, however, some marketers spend a lot of money doing A/B testing. I’ve been there.

But those aren’t really the right questions. The right questions involve asking “do I understand the user’s pain? their unmet needs?” and ” what is my proposition that uniquely solves for that need?”. Once you’ve nailed that, crafting your landing page value proposition right will be easy.

There’s 4 criteria to making the most of your landing page value proposition:

  1. Are you communicating a benefit that solves a specific need?
  2. Are you building in the right design elements (weight, detail, size, contrast) to bring attention to this value proposition?
  3. Have you built-in a one line what’ or ‘how’ that concretizes the value proposition?
  4. Is there a visual hero shot that further conretizes the value proposition?

Kredo is a fantastic example of a landing page value proposition done right.


$0 Lead Generation Process for small B2B online businesses

I got introduced to an owner of a photography business earlier and he was trying to get consultation from me about marketing his business. In a nutshell, he was overwhelmed. He was lurking through a marketing forum day in, day out, taking in the tactical information around Facebook advertising, Google Adwords, and Instagram. Engagement Rate, Impressions, CTR, CPC, CPA, the ‘right hashtag’s, bleh. When he came to me, he has already budgeted $1000 to execute a Facebook ad.

You know what I said?

Please. NO. Don’t,

Noise around tactics doesn’t mean that they’re the right ones. Different types of businesses require different types of tactics (however, you can frame yourself by asking the right questions here). Now for B2B lead generation, none of the tactics that he has seen so far won’t work at all. Facebook, Google, and Instagram are best for B2C companies, not for B2B.

That said, what I advise is to leverage Linkedin + Cold Emails. Here’s the 5 step process on how:

  1. go to linkedin, and search for marketing managers (for ‘videos with websites’) or human resource managers (for everything else)
  2. connect with them
  3. once you’re connected, export their email (it’s in contact info in their profile page)
  4. cold email them about your services (but be casual! being too formal tends to turn people off for some reason)
  5. reply rates are about 5%-15% so aim to get 20 connections per day

Voila! And that’s your lead prospecting process :) Best of all, it’s free and the results are predictable.

I’ve used this methodology in a consulting capacity in a friend’s startup and my results (using replyapp software) were just great. We had 60% opens and 45% response rates. Apart from seeing who I was given my Linkedin profile, I think being a former peer (ie. my targets are also marketing managers) has also helped my response rate as well.

If you used a Facebook ad, you’d be lucky to get a 2% conversion rate.  In Adwords, the rates are much worse (a range of 0.5% – 2%). Cold email feels sleazy, but it converts.


Review of Seraph Science’s 7 Elements of the Best Landing Pages

I’ve written last time about how much pain people give themselves by focusing too much on design like button colors and animations. UX is important but in the nascent stages of your website, you need to focus on driving conversion.

There’s a great write up here on the 7 elements of the best landing pages, and I wanted to share my perspective as well.

#1: Removing Navigation

“We (remove navigation) because when we get our visitor on to our landing pages we want them to take a specific action, not to be directed elsewhere and get distracted. Landing pages are fairly middle-of-funnel, and to direct them up the funnel with links to the home or other pages can harm conversions… Instead, we want to focus on the call to action”

My take: I think they key phrase here is not really ‘removing navigation’ but having just 1 call to action. It is imperative that you are clear on what the user is looking for and give her explicitly that. Are you a government site and a user clicked to you to get some forms? If so, show just 1 button to help them get those forms. Are you a enterprise business and a user clicked to you to assess how you can help? If so, well, you’re product is damn complex and you need to give them a number to call — get your account manager to work! Are you a SaaS and your offer solutions to small businesses? If so, they barely have time, get them to try it out ASAP. User psychology is very important and you need to simplify your site and design the CTAs accordingly.

#2: Hero Shot

“Humans are visual creatures, and when it comes to landing pages it’s sometimes hard to illustrate what the user will be receiving. We need to use a relevant hero shot to fill in the visual void.”

My take: Visualization is a great point (and it’s something that was hammered into my brain in my ~5 years in a top marketing company) but this point is linked with element #3, which is….

#3: Benefit-Driven Value Proposition

“What is it that differentiates you from everyone else, or separates you from the competition? Your value proposition is what will get attention in the first instance and compel a visitor to continue their journey on your landing page.”


My take: I think the real point here is that you get attention because you are proposing a solution to the user’s pain. Why did the user visit your site in the first place? Because it’s looking for the solution to their very painful problem, whatever it may be. If the user has been squiggling on his notebook his retail inventory and stock levels for the past 10 months, an ‘automated inventory tracking for retailers’ will be a welcome message.

 #4: Test with Video

“Video allows people to consume content with very little effort. Thanks to TV, it’s a format we’ve all become used to, and can really help in reducing friction and increasing conversions. Many of the best landing pages are using video to communicate their value propositions and benefits of their offering with great success.”

My take: Personally, I dislike video. Why? Because it’s not testable. You can test a text proposition and you can test certain design elements, but you can never test a video. There’s so much going on in a video that you will have no idea why it worked or why it didn’t work. I believe in tests as it forces you to create a system that you can iterate over time. Videos, unfortunately, are just not testable unless you have $20,000 to spend on qualitative tests that measure reactions and gathers feedback across a pool of 200 people (which is the right sample size to determine patterns).

#5: Limiting Offers & Call-to-Action

“The format of your calls-to-action are therefore very important. Testing button size, colour and the copy used on them are all things you should try to optimise. Using a button colour that contrasts from the rest of your page will help it to stand out.”

My take: No, just no. I’m not saying this isn’t important. Rather, I’m saying people spend waaay too much time on this. Unless your business is big enough to have dedicated UI/UX designer, stick to templates. Focus on conversion, not on design.

#6: Social Proof

“When you see a testimonial that simply reads “Service X is great and I’m very happy with what they’ve done for us”, it can appear as if it was made up or that the person has been paid to give it. However, something such as “Seraph Science generated 7 figures worth of sales pipeline in 8 weeks for our company” it gives specific numbers and time frames on those results.”

My take: Social proof for me has become a throwaway concept. If you get the fundamentals right (ie. target market with a specific, unmet need, and a solution that is specialized in fixing that need), then there’s no need for social proof stamps. If you think about the intent of social proof, it is to quell any skepticism about the product. Skepticism is usually bred by seeing multiple products offering the same damn thing (eg. project management software). But if you’re a category leader or a solution that aims to fix a specific pain, then there’s no need for this at all.

#7: Perfect Form Length

“Too many fields in your form can cause friction, while asking your users for something such as a phone number at the wrong time can cause anxiety. This anxiety is usually because they don’t trust you enough yet, and that sensitive information will get into the wrong hands.”

My take: I agree with the principle of reducing form length. People naturally want quick wins or quick finishes. Prolonging it is not good for conversion. Personally, this can be abstracted further into “Reducing User Actions”, where form length is a subset of the “Total Number of Actions”. Ideally, it should be just a “visit, read value prop, sign up with just an email”, but be mindful that it may be longer due to context (see #1), so be mindful that there’s no “perfect length” or “perfect number of actions”. Rather, stay with the principle that you need to minimize user actions.