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How I Run 600 Different Split Tests in My Ads - Within Minutes

“When you can define the problem better than the end customer can, they will automatically assume you have the solution.” On this episode of Pirate Broadcast, I explain to Russ Johns why I believe digital marketing should be the #1 priority of any business, even a non-digital business.

I share my focus on the fundamentals - the 20% of the effort that gets me 80% of the results - as well as the dangers of chasing shiny things. Often as not, the first guy to have massive success on a channel may have hit a home run at their first at-bat - iin other words, beginner’s luck. It might be very hard to reproduce their success, compared to working with the tried-and-true channels.

We also discuss:

  • The only ad metric that matters.
  • How I run 600 different split-tests in a matter of minutes to target my ads.
  • Why I write ads in such a way that it gets people to not click on them.

About the Show: Russ Johns is the host of the Pirate Broadcast.


Full Transcript

Russ Johns: Welcome, to the “Pirate Broadcast,” where we interview interesting people doing interesting things. Where you can expand your connections, your community, kindness is cool, and smiles are free, and let’s get this party started. It’s a beautiful day for the “Pirate Broadcast,” and it’s always exciting to see new faces, new friends, meet new people, and make new connections. So, Dylan, good morning, how are you? I hope you’re well today.

Dylan Ogline: Hey, good morning to you, Russ. Yeah, I’m doing great, thanks so much for having me here, buddy.

Russ Johns: Yeah, you were talking about the shower earlier, and a couple of things before the show started. And we’re in digital media, digital media is actually not a bad place to be right now with COVID, and 2020, and everything else going on. And talk a little bit about, for those that don’t know you yet, they’ll get to know you in the next 30 minutes.

Dylan Ogline: No pressure.

Russ Johns: Talk a little bit about how you focus your attention on digital media. Because we were talking about how spread out we could get, how many different platforms there are, and how distracted and noisy it could be and how you stay focused on what you’re doing. Share a little bit about that philosophy that you have because I thought it was great.

Dylan Ogline: Sure. So there’s so many distractions, so many different directions you can go in. We were talking about that pre-show. If you’re doing any kind of marketing, any kind of media, you could do TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, you name it, you can go in all these different directions. I prefer to stick to things that I know, things that are tried and true, things that are scalable. We were talking about this before the show. With my business I like to focus on either Facebook or Google ads and that’s it. If you can follow down the trap of wanting to go in so many different directions.

And, for me, the 80/20 reason of why you want to stick to just one or two things is that you get better. If you’re doing ten different things you never really get good at any of them. But if you’re just doing one thing, if you just keep pounding that, and getting better, and better, and better you’re going to eventually build a pretty good skill at it. And it could be anything, it could be a Snapchat, it could be a TikTok, whatever, but really just focus on one single thing, maximum of two.

Russ Johns: Yeah. I appreciate that so much. And the reason I do is because I’m one of those squirrel hunters that I’m always curious about something. And it’s not necessarily because I’m going to use it all the time. It’s more about how does this work and how does this fit in and who could I recommend it to if the opportunity arrives?

Dylan Ogline: Sure.

Russ Johns: So I’m almost like the research that loves to kind of piece things together and pull it together. And it’s just I admire your tenacity and that’s what struck a chord with me. And it’s like, okay, well, cool. That is something I could do. I’m actually listening to a book called “Essentialism.”

Dylan Ogline: And I have it. It’s up there. I haven’t read it yet, I haven’t read it, but I have it. I don’t know which side it’s on. I’m pretty sure it’s on that side of the bookshelf.

Russ Johns: Yeah. And so how long have you been in digital and what prompted you to even think about it, or get into it, or what was your interest?

Dylan Ogline: So I started my first business when I was 14, and shortly thereafter I started playing around. I think the first time they launched it, it was just called Google Adwords. Now I always refer to it as Google Adwords. I don’t even think they use that term anymore. I think it’s just Google Ads. I kind of got into it at the infancy at this kind of trackable, scalable, digital marketing thing. Like it was still this new age-y stuff. So that was 15, 16 years ago.

Russ Johns: Yeah.

Dylan Ogline: And that’s how I got my start in it. And I would add this comment. We were just talking about going in all these different directions. For me, I spent 12, 13 years going the opposite direction, going in all these different directions. TikTok wasn’t a thing back then, but all of these different avenues that you could go in. Having a Facebook page. What was the Google one? Google had a social media. What was that? They still have it?

Russ Johns: No.

Dylan Ogline: Nobody even remembers. That’s all you need to know. Nobody remembers what it was called.

Russ Johns: Don’t get too attached.

Dylan Ogline: Yeah. Going in all those different directions, I wasted so much time, and I got nowhere because I was going in so many different directions. So once I kind of had that epiphany based off of advice from a mentor of mine, I went opposite in the other direction. So just cut everything ruthlessly and just focused on one or two things that I felt I could get better at and that were scalable. And this isn’t like I have some kind of a greater knowledge or something. I made that mistake for a decade of going in so many different directions. And it’s chasing the shiniest object, shiny object syndrome. I had that for sure and I got nowhere because of it.

Russ Johns: Yeah. And then once you focused on Google Ads and Facebook, it turned around, and then you just got really good at that and skilled at that.

Dylan Ogline: Oh, yes.

Russ Johns: That’s what your focus has been since?

Dylan Ogline: Yeah. It was like the end of 2016. The short compressed version of the story is I had like ten different business projects going and each one of them had Google, social media, and just again, so many different directions. And I just was getting absolutely nowhere, I was miserable, and just ruthlessly cut everything, focused on one single business, which was agency work. And then I went further, and it was just one single service, which was digital marketing management services, and that was the end of 2016. And 2017 grew the agency to multiple six figures and then seven figures in 2018. But it was from nothing to very quickly ramped up because I just focused on one thing, and then I got better, and better, and better at it so my clients got better and better results because I was only doing one thing.

Russ Johns: That’s awesome.

Dylan Ogline: It’s that simple.

Russ Johns: That’s awesome. Note to self, note to self. I know that there’s a lot of people are going to appreciate that lesson because, for me right now, I’m focusing on live-streaming, primary LinkedIn, getting leads, generating leads, conversations, and relationships with LinkedIn and live-streaming. And I think it’s appropriate right now. And the thing that I think about or reflect on is how could I start using ads, or how could I start using some lead generation paid streams, and what would that look like? So maybe you could talk a little bit about that and say how you operate or how you think about that as you go forward with a client.

Dylan Ogline: So I don’t particularly know a lot about video. We do some YouTube ad management, but not a lot. And I do think that YouTube ads are still in their infancy. Still have a large upscale.

Russ Johns: So there’s still hope for me.

Dylan Ogline: Yeah. Absolutely. The appeal of doing, say live-streaming, or content creation and trying to get things to go viral is that it’s typically low cost or free. The problem that I have with it is that you don’t have control of the scale. Use Google ads, use Facebook ads as an example, you just add another zero to the budget, and boom, ten times the amount of leads coming in. You just double your budget, and boom, you just doubled your leads coming in.

Sure, you have to make sure it’s profitable to begin with. You have to make sure that you have a profitable ROI. But scaling things up you have a lot of control with paid advertising. What you lose by going kind of these low cost or the free route is that you don’t have control over that level. You have to continue to feed the beast of content creation, which takes a lot of time. So I honestly don’t know this. Do they have like on the LinkedIn platform, do you have the ability to buy more views for your livestreams? Is that a thing?

Russ Johns: Not directly that way. However, you can buy ads to point to your shows or your events, your activities.

Dylan Ogline: Sure.

Russ Johns: So it’s much the same way. It’s much like a Facebook ad. Okay, you advertise the fact that it’s there, and I want to push it in front of this many people in the audience.

Dylan Ogline: Got you.

Russ Johns: And then if they show up they show up. And that’s the challenge a lot of people have with ad spend is getting the right ads, the magical words that drive people to the result. So that’s something that you probably learned how to do and help coach individuals to say, “Well, that ad, that title is not quite going to grab people by the beard and draw the into the crowd here, so.”

Dylan Ogline: Yeah. There’s a lot of that.

Russ Johns: The creativity still exists in ad spend, and so it’s one of those secret sauce methods that you have to kind of, like you said, after the last five, six years you’ve had to really hone that skill in and get much better at it.

Dylan Ogline: Oh, 100%. But I would also say I ruthlessly apply the 80/20 method to like every aspect of my life. So when it comes to writing copy, creating a good ad-- and no matter if it’s Facebook, YouTube, Google, it doesn’t matter-- a lot of people over think it. They want it to be complicated. They’re looking for the advanced strategies. The 80% of actions you’re going to spend a lot of time to get just 20% of the results. Just move the needle and make your ad a little bit more profitable.

Like I had a conversation with someone yesterday they were talking about like on a landing page, if you circled something in red it would automatically people just look at it. So you could draw attention to something on a picture by just circling it in red. And like that’s cool, that’s a strategy, but that’s really not going to move the needle a lot. I focus on the fundamentals and the basics, that 20% of effort that it’s going to give you 80% of the results. And for me, there’s just two blanket strategies that I use. One is to get very niched down and narrow with your ad copy, with your landing page, and all those things. Try to specifically describe one single main problem that the end customer has. Get as specific as you can.

And if somebody sees an ad and it’s, “Oh, we provide all these services, all these products,” that can go in so many different directions. But if you see an ad and it says, “Russ, I specifically help people like you with this specific problem,” and you’re like, “Wow, that’s a problem I am having.” And that’s what services and products do, they solve problems, that’s speaking to you. So and I find that the more specific you can get, when you can define the problem better than the end customer can, they will automatically assume that you have the solution. So get very specific on defining the problem and defining the solution.

The second thing, the second blanket strategy that I use is I write copy, write ads, write landing pages to get people to not click on them. You have the buying pyramid. Like it’s like 3% of people are ready to buy today, 7% are ready to buy within like the next month or whatever. You just want to target those people at the top. And you also want to target the people that can afford whatever your particular solution is. You don’t want everybody clicking on your ad. Those are my two blanket strategies.

Russ Johns: You almost want to eliminate a lot of people from clicking that are just…

Dylan Ogline: Yes.

Russ Johns: …surfing the web thinking something special.

Dylan Ogline: You don’t want tire-kickers.

Russ Johns: Don’t get the tire-kickers. And I want to give a shout out to a few people. Mark from Houston, Mark LaCour, he operates OGGN building a huge empire around podcasts in the oil and gas industry. Awesome individual. We do live-streaming for the network and a lot of community. Good morning, Wendy, I hope you made it to Seattle safe and sound. Taking care of your folks. We were talking about that before the show here, Dylan. We’re all taking care of somebody. And Angie says, “Good morning.” She loves the book as well, “Essentialism,” so we got some fans in the house. Patrick says hello. JD is in the house. And, yes, Angie. Angie’s been encouraging me to get people to sign up for my YouTube channel. Dylan, I’ve got well over 600 videos on YouTube. I mean I’ve just crossed over 300 episodes of this show.

Dylan Ogline: That’s a lot of content.

Russ Johns: That’s a lot of content, and I’m underutilizing it. So when you said that YouTube ads may be some place where I could paly and make some progress there I might have to check that out. I’ll have to talk to you about ad spend and stuff like that. And then Gabriel’s in the house. Thank you so much for Gabriel. He’s another individual that has a great show, a made from scratch podcast. He does it in the evening central time. Awesome individual to connect with. Russ Hedge, out from Oregon, he just launch a book. Thank you for being here, Russ, appreciate you. Loving the vibes. So Dylan’s in Florida, I’m in Arizona, a little bit of sunshine here today, bringing you sunshine. So sign up for my YouTube channel, do all the social thing that we’re telling you not to do. Or you could just do some ad spend and send it to Russ.

Dylan Ogline: Follow Russ on YouTube.

Russ Johns: Follow Russ on YouTube. Love you all, guys. Thank you so much for being here, I appreciate you. Dylan, I want to talk a little bit about the landscape. You started out young, you said, “Hey, this is something I could learn.” You kind of crafted your skills. It sounds like you write a little bit of content, a little bit of copy, crafting that skill. Where do you see the next 12,18 months, two years? Where do you see that working out and changing or how has it changed for you? Is it just a continuation? Talk a little bit about that.

Dylan Ogline: I think it’s mostly going to be a continuation. I don’t see a lot of things changing. And we talked a little bit about YouTube, talked about YouTube ads. I do believe that there’s going to be a lot of explosive growth there. But I would comment I particularly don’t try to guess where things are going. This is an actually interesting question. So I had a conversation with someone yesterday and they were talking about it was some company they were working with had somehow partnered up. I knew nothing about TikTok ads or how you do that at all.

Russ Johns: Yeah.

Dylan Ogline: They had partnered up with somebody on TikTok, two influencers on TikTok, and they were generating about $500,000 in sales. I don’t know what they were spending, I don’t know what the profit margin was or anything, but they were generating about $500,000 in sales per month mostly from these TikTok influencers.

Russ Johns: Wow.

Dylan Ogline: And, I mean, that sounds appealing, right? That sounds pretty good.

Russ Johns: But, like you said, you don’t know what they spent.

Dylan Ogline: Yeah, I don’t know what they spent, how do you scale that? When these new platforms when these new things come out, most of the time what it was is just somebody went at bat and just so happened to hit a homerun their first at bat. The other 999 people struck out.

Russ Johns: Yeah.

Dylan Ogline: But we only hear about the people that hit a homerun. And again it sounds appealing because we don’t know what they were spending, but it’s probably very profitable. But it was probably just they hit a homerun their first at bat. I try to not get caught up in that kind of stuff and try to stick to things that are tried and true.

Russ Johns: Yeah.

Dylan Ogline: Google Ads has been around, for me, 15 years.

Russ Johns: Yeah.

Dylan Ogline: Sure, it’s more expensive, but…

Russ Johns: The track record.

Dylan Ogline: It has a track record, it’s scalable, you can go and you can quickly learn it, and you’re not just hoping to go viral. It’s the same thing with Facebook ads. So because I kind of apply that filter of “I want things that are tried and true,” that kind of keeps me out of thinking about what’s coming next. You go back two years ago everybody was like, “Snapchat’s going to be the next big thing, and everybody’s going to be using Snapchat ads.” I don’t even know how to do a Snapchat ad. I don’t care because it’s probably just people hitting homeruns that are having success. So, yeah, I don’t know where it’s going. But I do think YouTube is getting more established, and I think there’s going to be a lot of growth coming there. But otherwise that’s…

Russ Johns: There’s a lot of activity on YouTube, and it evolves. One of the things that I think is really curious is when you do an ad, testing multiple ads, one of the things that Facebook is really good at is you can actually run multiple tests and see which one, and kind of tweak the demographics a little bit. Do you go through that process with clients and is there a process or a strategy that you use on Facebook?

Dylan Ogline: 100% yes. I literally have a document that we follow. I’m trying to think off the top of my head. So let me back up here. So with Facebook, the power of Facebook is in the algorithm. You can’t possibly understand everything about your potential customers. You can kind of guess maybe they’re male, maybe they’re 25 to 35, whatever, maybe they’re Conservative, Liberal. You can kind of guess these things. Maybe they like country music, maybe they like rap. Maybe they like Tim Ferriss, maybe they like Rachel Ray. I don’t know why I thought of Rachel Ray. You can kind of guess these things, but you don’t know how aggressive they are, or how much time they spend on Facebook. Like people don’t come close to grasping the deeper understanding that Facebook has about our psychology.

So what we do when we’re onboarding a client, we will run its 600 different tests at one time. So, again, I wish I had that document in front of me, but it’s like five different pictures with 30 different audience variations, and then I think five different-- that's still not enough-- but five different actual ad copies. So you’re running all these different variations and you just throw them out there into the market. And what Facebook does is Facebook will figure out which ones are the most efficient.

Russ Johns: Yeah.

Dylan Ogline: You don’t know why they’re the most efficient. It’s deep psychology and human behavior patterns that Facebook figures out. And, listen, I’m making this sound really complicated. But it’s literally just the short answer to what your question was is, yeah, we do a lot of testing, but a lot more than people think. We’re not doing two tests, we’re doing 600 tests at one different time, and just letting the algorithm pick whichever one works.

Russ Johns: And then it’s like, “I’m not going to decide which one works best. I’m just going to throw a lot out there, let the algorithm decide which one’s going to be the best converting ad.”

Dylan Ogline: Absolutely. And there’s no way you can guess which one, but the algorithm can. Not instantly, but give it a couple days, and it’ll figure out which one for some reason got people to click.

Russ Johns: That’s fascinating to me. Mark LaCour asked a great question, maybe you can talk about this, any best practice advice on Facebook ad success measurement? That’s a great question because it’s exactly what you’re saying. It’s like, okay, well yeah, I made $500,000 on this TikTok ad, but I spent $620,000 a year. That’s not a good measurement.

Dylan Ogline: Simply put: is it profitable? That’s kind of the bulletproof. That’s going to tell you is this profitable or not? And I would say the way you do it is you put up 600 different ads, which sounds really complicated, it’s not, it’s not a lot because you could just copy ads and whatnot.

Russ Johns: Yeah.

Dylan Ogline: You put up a bunch of different ads, a bunch of different variations. And maybe one of them’s got like a .9 ROI, so you’re losing a little bit of money. And that’s like your best performers. That’s okay if that’s like your first test.

Russ Johns: Yeah.

Dylan Ogline: And so you delete all the bad ones, and then you copy good ones, and you create another 600 variations. You’re constantly tweaking until you get a positive ROI. And listen, most of the time whenever we put something up, you’re getting like a 1.5 or a 2x ROI. It’s really you don’t want to overthink it. You want to just put out variations into the Facebook marketplace.

Russ Johns: So really it’s content creation for ads.

Dylan Ogline: Well, yes, however when people think 600 different ads…

Russ Johns: It’s like a laser focus that’s all.

Dylan Ogline: That sounds exhausting, but it’s literally just a lot of copying and allowing the algorithm to pick which one’s are profitable. But, yeah, the best metric is, is this ad profitable or not? That’s it.

Russ Johns: Yeah. That’s fantastic. And I have to guess, and I’m less familiar with Google Ads than I am with Facebook ads, but I have to imagine that Google Ads are much the same process or is it…

Dylan Ogline: There’s not as much testing. There’s not even close to the amount of testing. It’s more about just getting really specific with your key words and really specific with your ads. That’s it. Facebook is a little more difficult to figure out because you’re just putting stuff out into the marketplace and allowing the algorithm to figure it out.

Russ Johns: Yeah.

Dylan Ogline: But once you get it, the profitability and the scalability is just massive. Whereas Google is a lot easier to figure out. There’s a lot of scale, certainly, depending on your market, and region, et cetera et cetera. But it’s kind of a tradeoff between the two.

Russ Johns: Wendy’s giving you a shout-out. Dylan speaks with such confidence when you focus on one thing exclusively. You have the ability to go so deep that the results are undeniable, so.

Dylan Ogline: That was heavy.

Russ Johns: That was heavy. She’s an awesome individual that can go deep sometimes. Good morning to all the “Pirate Broadcast.” Thank you, [Kinyata 27:12], she’s doing some great work out there as well. I just find it fascinating. I love these conversations, Dylan, I really appreciate the fact that you dropped by, and share a little bit of knowledge. Because ad spend for the solopreneur or the freelancer or something like that, it seems like dangerous territory. It’s like, okay, well, you wouldn’t hesitate. You’d probably put an ad in the newspaper here or something like that. A lot of business owners don’t understand the complexity or the simplicity of digital. And I got into outdoor advertising back in before you were probably even born, ’85.

Dylan Ogline: It was before my time, yeah.

Russ Johns: Yeah, before your time. And when you’re buying KPI versus your actual results, you’re spending on clicks. And the fact is you’re not spending any money on the people that don’t click, right?

Dylan Ogline: Absolutely.

Russ Johns: And where is as with outdoor advertising or broadcast advertising, you’re spending on a potential click or a follower some interest.

Dylan Ogline: And you can’t track it.

Russ Johns: You can’t track it.

Dylan Ogline: That’s my main. You’re just throwing money out the window and just kind of hoping it comes back.

Russ Johns: Yeah.

Dylan Ogline: With the time we have remaining, I would like to finish by saying that I truly believe if you have-- it doesn’t even have to be an internet-based business-- but I really believe that marketing should be the number one focus. Digital marketing should be the number one focus in your business. And I always like to add a disclaimer when I say something like this. Like, yes, you should deliver a great product or service to your customer, but that’s like me telling you, you have to breathe. I’m not going to say that. When it comes to growth, your number one priority should be digital marketing. And the reason is, is that once you get it, which there’s pretty much for everybody there’s a certain level of tweaking it, and testing, and testing. But once you get it, you literally have the ability to buy growth. You want to double your sales this year? Just double your ad spend. That’s it.

Russ Johns: Yeah.

Dylan Ogline: It removes the question of growth. You literally can just buy it, so, I finish with that I guess.

Russ Johns: That’s awesome. Well, that’s a great place to end up. And I just love the opportunity to have these conversations because I know that it’s going to help someone do something and stay focused.

Dylan Ogline: Absolutely.

Russ Johns: It’s going to help me remove things that are no longer necessary in my life.

Dylan Ogline: [inaudible 30:04] cut all that unnecessary stuff.

Russ Johns: Yeah, I’m just going to cut it off. I’ll check with you in a few months. “Hey, Dylan, I made it!”

Dylan Ogline: Well, good luck to you, Russ. Good luck.

Russ Johns: Let’s do some ad spend. So as always, everyone, thank you so much. I really appreciate you. And I do humbly and ask you to go follow and subscribe to my YouTube channel. I’m going to grow that. I’m going to be expanding that and working that. I may even spend some money on ad spend over there so.

Dylan Ogline: That’s the focus now is all on YouTube.

Russ Johns: That’s the focus. Spend money on marketing. And then also, as always, kindness is cool. Smiles are free. And you, enjoy the day. Thanks, Dylan.

Dylan Ogline: Thank you.

Russ Johns: Stick around. Thank you for joining the “Pirate Broadcast.” If you found this content valuable, please like, comment, and share it across your social media channels. I would love the opportunity to help others grow in their business. The Pirate Syndicate is a platform where you show up, we produce the show, it’s that easy. If you want to be seen, be heard, and be talked about, join the Pirate Syndicate today.