To gain a deeper understanding of the current paid advertising strategies and tactics that Branch is currently implementing.
I decided to break down their current marketing actions and take a step-by-step look at what’s being done on a paid advertising perspective.
You see SaaS companies advertising online all the time, you see some more often than others. Some are early-stage companies, some are mid-to-late stage, and others are unicorns that could dump ad budget in ridiculous amounts and still be profitable.
You may ask when the right time to start running ads is, and the answers will vary, but a good rule of thumb is to start once you’ve found product-market fit and are looking for ways to scale…
Which leads to the question…
Why is Branch not one of the companies you see running ads on all platforms?
They have the capital to do so with around $80M annual run rate, customers that pay $6,600 per month and customers lifetime value of over $1.6 million.
Perhaps Branch Isn’t Calculating Profitability Right?
Calculating the return on investment when it comes to SaaS, specifically subscription models (most of them), you need to understand real Return On Ad Spend (ROAS).
Which is calculated by looking at the average Lifetime Value (LTV) of your customers, not the first sale.
Although we’re not sure what CAC for Branch is, it’s likely well below their $1.6M LTV, so they have some room to work with when it comes to customer acquisition.
So why is it that Branch is not advertising more heavily?
They’re Spending On Google, But Are They Spending Enough?
According to SpyFu, a spyware solution that marketers use to execute keyword research, Branch is currently spending around $2.76K/mo on Google Ads.
Currently, Branch has around 900 customers, each with an annual revenue per user (ARPU) of about $6.6K/mo a monthly revenue of around $5.9M.
They are spending less than .045% of monthly revenue on Google Search ads (this does not include Display or YouTube). The reasons are not clear but there’s definitely search volume to be spending more on Paid Search campaigns.
They could be pushing ads to fairly accurate audiences with Display and YouTube campaigns, which when used correctly can yield massive results.
Is Branch’s Small Ad Spend Being Used Intelligently?
Many SaaS companies send their traffic directly to their home page, the reason being that most (at least the smarter SaaS companies) allocate the necessary resources to conversion rate optimization (CRO) as well as designing good user experience (UX).
However many SaaS companies also create more relevant landing pages. This allows them to remove as many distractions as possible from their visitors so that they can accumulate as many leads as possible.
Branch seems to be simply sending people to their home page, the issue with this is that there are many points of distraction (buttons all over, blog, different calls to action, etc).
Which is why I typically prefer to send traffic to a specific landing page where visitors can only do one thing, give their information, book a demo, sign up, etc.
Below are two screenshots of pages where Branch is sending traffic, one is the home page. The other is to an article that explains more in-depth what “deep linking” is which is one of their keywords.
This is good because they educate people that are searching broad keywords and are still in the “consideration” stage of the funnel.
What Branch should be doing to get the most out of their budget is investing in landing pages that have one purpose – email capture, and remove all other buttons.
Distractions give visitors options to not do the one thing Branch wants them to do – convert.
The reason Branch wants emails is because they can use them in a couple of different ways:
- Lead nurturing to better educate on the reasons why using Branch makes sense
- Leveraging the list to create lookalike audiences in various ad platforms
Are Branch’s Search Ads Up To Par?
Below you’ll see the three main components of a paid search ad – a headline, display URL, and a description – all of which convince users to click.
These ads can also include ad extensions which take up more screen real estate (aka more eyes on you).
Ad #1 – Branded
Here’s an ad that shows up when a user searches the term “Branch.io” (or something similar). Branded campaigns are typically some of the best because of a couple of reasons:
- People already know you by name
- It’s easy to rank on the first position because your quality scores are typically 10/10
- The intent for your product is typically very high (bottom of the funnel)
Branch needs to start using the headlines appropriately. The name appears on there twice (waste of space). There is no call to action, big mistake. People need to be told what to do, and there is no direction as to what I should be doing here if I were to search for their name.
If there is a big content piece being promoted on their site, it would be nice to also see it as one of the extensions. In this case, their “2019 Mobile Growth Handbook” would be a great addition and would entice people to give them their information.
Ad #2 – Non-Branded
A non-branded ad is an ad that’s shown to users that search for any keywords that are not their brand name.
In this case, the words “deep linking” and “mobile attribution” were searched and the following ads appeared:
Again, one thing to note here and something you’ll want to stay away from in your ads is the fact that there are no calls-to-action.
For the first ad where they talk about Deep Linking, Branch is sending people to the article that talks about Deep Linking. So they should say something like “Learn More About Deep Linking” to set a clear expectation on what will happen after somebody clicks.
This also enables you to only get relevant traffic and save ad budget for the people you want to attract. Especially with such a small ad budget.
Branch should do everything possible to get the most out of those $2K…
Maybe Branch Has More Luck On Other Platforms?
Branch is currently also advertising on LinkedIn and Facebook, the amount here is unknown.
Branch seems to be mostly using advertising as a means to generate leads, although mixing content at the same time. The preferred ad format seems to be a LinkedIn Lead Form, similar to a Facebook Lead Ad.
In this format, your information is auto-populated into the form to reduce friction between you and what Branch is offering in exchange for your information.
See the screenshot below as well as the lead form that pops up when you click:
*Notice once again the lack of call-to-action on the ad copy of the ad above. If it wasn’t for LinkedIn automatically adding “Download” there would be no guidance to take action.
On top of that ad, Branch is also promoting several conferences, webinars, and some “meet-ups” where some of the team members appear to be speaking at.
Many companies believe that Facebook is no place for B2B.
But if you’ve been around for a while or if you’re a B2B SaaS company that has invested ad dollars into Facebook you know that’s just not true. Especially when you can spend up to $1.6M per customer acquisition and still manage to at least break even.
Facebook, just like LinkedIn and Google, is able to yield massive results for B2B companies when executed properly.
Is Branch doing it right? Not really…
It seems like Branch is using Facebook as a channel to distribute content, sending people to specific blog articles and that’s really it.
Three different ads, each promoting three different blog posts, unfortunately, we’re not able to see which audiences are being targeted, but take a look at the ads below.
And still, no call-to-action aside from Facebook’s native button is seen (a big no-no).
Is Their Retargeting Also Weak?
Although retargeting can be at times hard to track down because there is no way to identify if it is in-fact a retargeting ad or if we’re just part of their cold audiences.
I will say however that as of today, I’ve not seen any Branch ads.
Does that mean that Branch is not retargeting? Most likely, yes. However, there are many ways to segment retargeting to make the most of it.
For example, you could retarget based on pages visited, time spent on site or specific pages, whether you engaged with content, and more. But from what I’ve seen in regards to Branch paid ads knowledge, the answer is likely no.
Time was spent scrolling on both Facebook and LinkedIn to see if something would show up, but nothing did.
Does Branch Need Help With Their Ads?
Yes. I would say that Branch could be doing better, a lot better. We’re talking about a company that is making $80M ARR, that’s a lot of money.
Certainly enough to have an in-house team take care of some well thought out marketing strategies, retargeting campaigns, and more.
The three main things that stood out the most were the small budgets, lack of calls-to-action throughout all ads and platforms, the lack of retargeting, the lack of video content within the ads.
What Could Branch Execute To Improve Their Ads?
There are a couple of things that should be implemented, I’ll just list them out in bullets.
- Spending a lot more money
- Stronger copywriting
- Use of video, educational preferably on how Branch can help you solve your problems
- Remarketing paired with strong segmentation based on time spent, pages visited, number of visits, etc.
- Using Lookalike audiences on all platforms for more accurate prospecting (if not already doing so)
- Using customer testimonials in ads to create credibility amongst people who don’t know Branch
- Use of Remarketing List Search Ads (RLSAs) in Google
- Use sequential video campaigns that tell a story
- More contextual advertising based on sales cycle (using segmented retargeting)
About The Author
Luis Camacho is the founder of Fantôm Agency. They help many mid-to-late stage SaaS companies just like yours increase lead and subscription volume, penetrate new markets and become recognized brands within their vertical. He’s also the host of the SaaS AdLab Podcast.