In this age, digital marketing is a necessity. Although the limitless possibilities to advertise online can be overwhelming, CuraLife’s B2B Facebook advertising best practices led them to triple in size and maintain profitability even in their early stages.
CuraLife founder and CEO Ron Elul and VP for Marketing Dovi Lipton join us in this episode to talk about their experience heading a direct-to-consumer (D2C) company. They give their blueprint for CuraLife in terms of advertising, marketing, and structuring. They also share their methods for generating, converting, and retaining as many customers as possible.
Tune in to this episode to learn how you can apply CuraLife’s effective Facebook advertising strategies.
Click here to read transcript
[03:45] So for the folks in my audience who aren’t familiar with either of you or your company, let’s very briefly give them an introduction. What is the company name, and basically what’s the main product that it sells?
- Dovi: Sure. So, we’re CuraLife, that’s the company name. And we sell products or we create solutions for people living with chronic conditions that help them live happier, healthier, more fulfilling lives. The main product we sell is called CuraLin, which is a supplement for people with diabetes. And we also help people with supportive communities and with lots of education that really helps them improve their lives.
[04:23] Cool. And when did you start this company?
- Ron: I started it when my father was diagnosed as a type two diabetic. And this is seven years ago, in 2014.
[4:36] Okay, and to give the audience an idea of how much progress you’ve made since then, can you give us a metric that will indicate your size of your company revenue, number of customers, orders processed per month, something like that?
- Ron: As a private company, we don’t go too deep into our numbers, but it’s safe to say that we’ve been fortunate enough to help tens of thousands of diabetics everyday around the world.
[5:02] Okay. And now the revenue, is it coming from brick and mortar, direct-to-consumer website, and Amazon? Is it from all three places? And if so, what’s the rough split?
- Dovi: Yeah, we go a little bit against the grain here, and we’re not on Amazon right now. Maybe in the future, probably in the future. But we really prefer to own the customer experience and the customer relationship. So right now we’re selling a lot of D2C, like direct-to-consumer, through our website, mostly through Facebook ads. We’re also building out a significant professional channel in the United States. So we’re selling through clinics, through retailers, through pharmacies, which is a pretty rare thing that we see with direct-to-consumer supplement companies. A lot of health care companies are struggling to either do direct-to-consumer properly or struggling to do retail and direct-to-professional properly. So this is a strong and competitive advantage of ours.
[06:04] So let’s dive into the direct-to-consumer using digital marketing. You said you’re doing primarily Facebook ads. So you’re spending roughly how much on Facebook ads a month?
- Dovi: Well, it depends on the month, like everyone else will tell you. But we’re definitely always spending in the hundreds of thousands of dollars a month, just on Facebook. We’re also doing other channels as well. So we’re on Google, YouTube, Tabula, Outbrain. But Facebook certainly is our biggest channel today.
[06:35] Okay, so are these campaigns being managed in-house? Or are you partnering up with an agency to manage them for you?
- Dovi: Most of our marketing activity is done by an agency. Occasionally, we do some tests in-house or promote some social media posts in-house. Mostly we use an agency. We find that it’s best to partner with people who are really deep specialists in their field. And we have the best agency.
[07:02] And do you want to give a shout out to the agency?
- Dovi: They’re actually my previous employer. They’re called Quality Score, qualityscore.co. And they have strong specialties in health and wellness.
[07:15] Okay, so help me and the audience understand. So you’ve been advertising on Facebook now for the entire seven years? Or is this something more recent?
- Ron: When we started off with the company, the first three to four years were more into the R&D of the product, the story, like really developing the base so that now we can scale up. And since we launched our online campaigns, we’ve been on Facebook. And Facebook has been on our, we scaled it up in the last few years of commercialization.
[07:45] Okay, and what types of ad or ads are working the best for you at this point in time? Are they video ads, static image ads, carousel, can you speak to that?
- Dovi: We’ve been doing a lot of images. But over the past few months, we’ve really been heavily breaking into videos. We’re talking about on Facebook here, of course. So we’ve been really trying to push videos, and they’re working really well. And I can tell you more about exactly what’s working for us if you’re interested, but right now, I would say, if you’re just looking at the ad format, we probably have an even split between images and videos. And we’re experimenting with some fun formats now like cinemagraphs, things like that.
[08:34] Well, I want to go down the rabbit hole on both. So let’s talk about the images. So give me an idea. I’m scrolling on my phone, and your ad shows up, what does it say?
- Dovi: It depends where you are in the user journey. So if this is the first time you’re seeing the ad…
[08:53] Let’s say top of the funnel, and there’s no retargeting yet.
- Dovi: Yeah, so again we’re experimenting with different formats. Traditionally, we’ve taken a very direct response angle, so you would have probably seen something completely unrelated to diabetes. So something about like, related to carbs, or related to breakfast, or Ayurveda in general—not something specifically related to diabetes or CuraLin. And then the idea would be to create curiosity in a form of clickbait and get people to a long form sales letter or a long form video sales letter. We’ve also lately been experimenting with more direct approaches of creating really beautiful branded ads that explain exactly what we do in one image. And we’re seeing some success there as well. So right now we’re trying both approaches.
[09:47] Okay, so sending the traffic to the long form video sales letter is what you’ve been doing the longest, is that correct?
- Dovi: For the longest, we’ve been sending people to long form sales letters, text-based. And as of a few months ago, we’ve been sending people to video sales letters. Also in long form.
[10:07] When you made the shift from text sales letter to video sales letter, did you see a lift? I’m assuming you saw higher conversions and lower cost to acquire customers.
- Dovi: We’re still experimenting with video. We’ve been seeing really, really great indications, but we’re still playing and trying to really crack it. We are hoping that video sales letters are going to help our account explode. So yes, we’ve seen definite improvements. But we haven’t seen that massive, massive explosion that we know that video sales letters can offer. So we’re going through the whole optimization cycle right now. We’re looking at our metrics on how people are interacting with the video through our Vimeo analytics, through our page tracking, through looking at the data that pixels give us. And we’re actively optimizing that through new intros, new ads, new intros in terms of voiceover, in terms of video, in terms of countdown timers, and all the different ways that we can play with that.
[11:14] Somebody that I interviewed the other day talked to me, he called it a “unicorn ad.” And it was an ad that got incredibly high levels of engagement. Lots of comments in particular. Have you ever had any of your ads get incredible levels of engagement like that? Like he had 15,000—they’ve been using the ad now for years, but 15,000 comments on this particular ad.
- Dovi: Yeah, we actually have… It’s funny that you say unicorn because this takes my mind into two directions. The first is actually the Harmon Brothers. Are you familiar with the Harmon Brothers? They make very famous ads. They made the ad for Poo-Pourri, for Squatty Potty. These are ads that get hundreds of millions of impressions. So we’ve actually started exploring the Harmon Brothers’ ad formats. They go beyond just funny videos; they have formulas for regular Facebook ads. And we’ve actually been seeing incredible success with that. In just a couple of weeks, some of their formats have actually become our controls. These are things we made in-house for almost no money whatsoever.
So it’s funny that you say unicorn because that always brings up the Harmon Brothers. But separate from that we have had what I guess you’re calling “unicorn ads,” which is this little strategy that we do where we start with a testimonial ad. Meaning, an ad that talks about the product and testimonials. And we promote it into our community and we target our page likers. These people then go and comment on the ads, creating a ton of social proof. And then once we have a lot of social proof on the ad itself, we’ll then go and open up the targeting to wider audiences. And then when cold audiences see that ad, there’s tons of social proof on there. And then it just skyrockets.
[13:07] Oh, brilliant. I like that idea. Okay. Anything else significant about your text ads that we haven’t discussed yet before we transition and talk about the newer video ads that you’re trying?
- Dovi: I wouldn’t say there’s something specific about them that I can share with you as some sort of amazing wow factor. We just put in the work to try new things to test all the time. And we recognize that even a small change in copy, even a couple of words, can make a huge difference. So we take the time to test everything from very small variations to really big variations. And we’re willing to put in the time, effort, and budget to test that.
[13:54] Okay, so you’re split testing the heck out of your stuff all the time.
- Ron: Every day, all day.
Dovi: It’s the very foundation of digital marketing.
[14:02] Absolutely it is. It’s one of the things about digital marketing that I love so much. It’s really hard to test offline marketing as easy as it is to test online marketing. All right, I want to transition to talking a little bit about the newer video ads that you’ve started. So how long are the videos and kind of, you know, what are they about? And what’s the call to action?
- Dovi: I come from a very, I don’t know if I can call it traditional advertising background, but a very traditional direct response advertising background. So really traditional internet marketing, long form video sales letters. So our video sales letter right now is 30 minutes.
[14:47] The video in the ad is 30 minutes? Or the video on the landing page is 30 minutes?
- Dovi: On the landing page. If you want to talk specifically about the ad, we try everything from ads that are 15 seconds, 30 seconds, 3 minutes to 5 minute ads. So everything from snapshots about our product to short testimonials on the product to cuts and takes from the VSL itself brought up to the ad level.
[15:15] Have you ever tested putting the 30 minute video right into the ad?
- Dovi: It’s in our pipeline. We haven’t done that yet.
[15:22] Because if you think about the mechanics of that, you’re getting this ad to get someone to click something to go watch a 30 minute video, why not just serve up the 30 minute video right in the ad?
- Dovi: Yeah, and it’s something that we know could potentially be successful. It’s in our pipeline. Right now we’re looking at trying to optimize the first 30 seconds of the video sales letter that are on the landing page. And we get to see some really great analytics through our Vimeo analytics platform by keeping it on our landing page. By moving into Facebook, we’ll get to see certain pieces of data there through what Facebook provides us, but we probably won’t be able to see as much. So we’re really looking to optimize the VSL itself on the landing page, moving it up to the ad level is something that we’re definitely going to try at some point.
[16:12] Okay. So what are some of the lessons that you’ve learned in video ads so far?
- Dovi: Lessons we’ve learned in video ads. Hmm. Well, there’re so many different formats that it’s hard to really focus in on one. But I would say testimonials are a really big one—use testimonials. And make them authentic testimonials. We actually use a review platform called So Tell Us. And this is a review platform that sends a link to a user’s phone and asks them to record a video directly on their phone. So the feel that you get from those videos, super authentic, super rough, and when a user watches that they can’t help but to feel that this is a real, true testimonial, which they are. It’s because no company in the right mind would film someone lying on their pillow with their hands behind their head, you know, filming a testimony. Or we have one guy who left a testimonial where he wants to show his blood sugar numbers on his computer, so he turned his phone sideways and half the testimonial is sideways. No company in the right mind would actually film that. So people really understand that it’s authentic and putting those video testimonials on the ad level is super powerful.
[17:34] In the ads, be they image or video, has your call to action changed much in the last couple of quarters? I mean, is it basically, you know, see the ad, go to the lander, watch the lander video or read the lander text, and are you trying to get them to purchase something at that point in time? Or are you getting, trying to get them to sample or opt in? What’s that call to action look like?
- Dovi: Mostly we’re going right for a sale. And we’re going right for a sale of full units. Back when we started, we were doing samples, we haven’t done that for years. We find that it’s much better to focus on getting a user, someone’s going to pay for your product. And through our product—it’s so good, our retention rates are great. So we find that focusing on just getting the people who will commit to an upfront just helps lower the white noise and helps us with our marketing overall.
Now, our call to action, it depends on where we’re looking at it. Obviously, Facebook has limited call to actions in terms of the button itself. But in the video, we experiment with all sorts of calls to actions on the landing page. We’ve experimented with everything from “Next Step” to “Learn More” to “Yes, I want CuraLin in my life right now.” Everything in between.
So we’re always testing, always trying to optimize. We don’t have one call to action to rule them all. And I don’t think that we will find one call to action to rule them all. There’s different types of ads to different demographics, different mindsets, to different mediums. Each one needs its own testing and we’ll always be optimizing.
[19:18] What is your average order value right now?
- Dovi: Well, it’s, uh, yeah, it depends on which order number we’re looking at. You know, our average order value for a new customer is around $133. For returning customers, it’s obviously significantly higher.
[19:40] And your cost to acquire customers, is it less than $133?
- Dovi: Yeah, we’re profitable on the first purchase.
[19:49] So have you experimented with upsells on the first order like, “Hey, come and buy a bottle of CuraLin for 75 bucks. But if you buy three bottles, or four bottles, or five bottles then will give you discounts.”
- Dovi: It’s something that we’re actually really exploring now. It’s best practice—offering upsells is best practice. And not just in the way that you’re describing, but also offering other products, complimentary products. Yeah, as a company, right now, we have only one product that we charge for, right? We offer tons of free stuff. Our community is free, even though it’s tremendously valuable. Our education is free, even though it’s tremendously valuable. We spend many thousands of dollars developing these assets or developing into content that we post in the community, but it’s free for anyone who wants it. So right now we only have CuraLin that we actually charged for.
So what we do right now is we have an upsell bump. So if someone selects one bottle of CuraLin, we’ll offer to bump them up to a three-pack or a six-pack. Not an additional discount, but there is a built in discount that we always offer to people who order more. So we promote that.
And right now, we’re really exploring partnerships with companies that we can offer their products on the back end of purchase to, yes, increase our average order value, but also deliver a lot of value to our consumer. For example, and I’m not not saying that we’re going to go down this path, but we’re looking at foot creams for diabetics, because diabetics have a lot of issues with their feet, with neuropathy. So if we can offer a product that helps them with that, then we’re delivering value to our consumer at a time when we know that they have their credit cards out. And we can make some additional money off of that as well. Maybe up our target CPA, you know, and it’s good for everyone.
[21:42] So speaking of partnerships, folks, I did a recording which will be published, I think, maybe just before this one. Anyway, it’s episode number 329. We interviewed a fella by the name of Joe Welstead. If you’re interested in learning more about how they’re having success developing partnerships, make sure you check that episode out.
Alright, so we’ve talked about ads to a certain degree. And hopefully the audience is getting some ideas and some value out of this. Before we move on to talking about other forms of traffic generation, if you had to give your younger entrepreneurial self some advice about advertising online, what would that advice be?
- Dovi: Well, it depends on the medium. It’s great if you’re sending out emails to just test and try, same thing if you’re doing social media. But if you’re going to be paying for media, you have to know what you’re doing. There’s no better way to lose money as a company than to pay Google or Facebook to give you traffic that you don’t know how to convert. So I would say the first thing you should do is really understand what makes a good landing page, what makes a good sales funnel, and hire professionals if you need to.
And I wouldn’t say that you have to go for gurus because they are going to charge you an arm and a leg, but definitely hire someone who knows what they’re doing and knows what they’re talking about to build you something that has a good chance of converting. And I would say to do the exact same thing on the media buying side—learn how to run your own traffic, definitely go play with a budget of a few dollars a day, maybe $50 or $100 a day, on your own. But if you’re going to actually start trying to scale your traffic, if you don’t know what you’re doing on a very, very deep level, hire someone who does and don’t go cheap. Hire someone who really knows what they’re doing. Because you’re going to lose—hopefully you’re gonna win—but if you’re going to lose, you’re gonna lose way less with someone who knows what they’re doing than someone who doesn’t. And in a best case scenario, they can scale you to heights you never dreamed of.
[23:53] Yeah, that is the one beauty of advertising. It has the ability to move you forward very, very quickly once you figure it out how to do it.
- Dovi: Yeah, I’ve seen funnels go from brand new accounts to a million and a half in spend in 30 days. And if someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing does that, then you could lose a million and a half in 30 days. And if someone knows what they’re doing, then you could have made tens of millions in that time.
[24:19] Hmm, absolutely. So let’s shift for a moment then and talk a little bit about the organic side of things. Is blogging a big part of your traffic generation strategy?
- Dovi: Yeah, we blog a lot. We see our blog as a central part of the value that we can offer consumers. Remember, we’re in diabetes, we’re in health, chronic health. But let’s just talk about diabetes for a second. It’s a complicated disease. And me personally, I have no scientific background, actually I grew up religious. So I have zero scientific background, I never took a science course in elementary school. In high school, I took maybe one. So when I came to work at CuraLife, I had to catch up on what diabetes is. And I’m trying to read the blogs on diabetes.org, and all of these different resources that are meant to educate me on the condition. And I’m not saying I’m the smartest person out there, but I’m not stupid. And I had a hard time understanding what the condition is and how to wrap my head around it. And if I felt that way, then there’s definitely consumers out there who are newly diagnosed and who don’t understand their condition well enough.
So we put out lots of blog and educational content that really is meant to fill that gap, help people understand their condition. Not only in a way where they can understand it, but in a way where they’re going to take action on the education, where they’re going to easily change their lifestyle in a way that they can wrap their heads around, that they could wrap their lifestyle around, so that they can improve their quality of life while improving their health. So we put out a lot of blog content; we publish a few times a week. Maybe two to four times a week. Just on the consumer side, we also publish on the professional side as well.
[26:15] So I’m looking at one of your recent blog posts right now. And I can see that there’s an ad on the side, obviously, which I’m assuming is on the side of every blog post.
- Dovi: You actually hit a split test. We are just trying that. That test launched today where we put in ads, banner ads, at the top and the side. Our thought process is that we can drive people to action through our blog posts. So we’re going to be testing ads that firstly tell people about CuraLin, tell people about our community, give people free downloads. So for example, infographics that explain what diabetes is in plain English, banners that tell people about our Refer A Friend program. So these are all split tests, and of course, testing a completely blank page just with the content itself.
[27:07] Are you running on WordPress?
- Dovi: Yes.
[27:10] Is this an out of the box theme? Or was this all custom developed the way your content is presented?
- Dovi: The truth is, I don’t know. I send it to our tech lead, and he gets it implemented. I could tell you that we’re testing it with Google Optimize.
[27:25] Okay. So when it comes to creating the content, are you working with internal writers who are employees? Or are you working with an agency? Or are you managing subcontractors on your own to create the content?
- Dovi: Yes. We do all of the above. I write some content from blog posts, landing pages, and funnels. We definitely outsource. We outsource a lot. Other people on our team write content as well, and we have people on our medical advisory board who write content also.
[28:04] Do you want to give a shout out to the agency that you’re working with or agencies that you’re working with?
- Dovi: There’s individual people that we work with as freelancers. And we also use Upwork a lot.
[28:16] Okay, so you’ve had good success finding writers on Upwork?
- Dovi: Yeah. And we test a lot, you know, it takes money. If you want to work with freelancers, you have to try them out. There’s a lot of bad freelancers out there. And there are good ones as well. So if you want to find the good ones, just take some budget, spray it around. What we do is we take a topic, and we give it to three, four, or five freelancers. We ask them to each write basically the same blog posts, and we see what they do. They all do drastically different jobs. Sometimes their content is so different that we can use them as two different blog posts. Sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes they’re similar enough to be one, but then we’ll pick the one we like, the two we like, and we’ll work with them long term.
[29:02] That is almost exactly how we hire all of our freelancers as well. We give them a specific process, we’ll hire five people to do that process according to our workflow template. And whoever does it the fastest with the least number of questions is generally the person who’s going to get the gig on an ongoing basis.
- Dovo: Sometimes we’re surprised by the diversity of what one person can do. Just as an example, we design our emails not through standard templates that you’d find in Mailchimp, but we design it with a designer, and then we have to code it up in HTML. I’ve worked with a number of Upwork freelancers on coding out this HTML, but recently I started working with one who’s just amazing. He’s fast, he knows what he’s doing. And on a whim, I asked him if he also can code CSS and other languages, and he said yes. And we’re seeing now in tests that the landing pages he’s coding, so we’ve moved past email, the landing pages that he’s coding our operating much faster and are getting a much higher score by Google than landing pages that have been coded by landing page specialists. So we can get surprised as well.
[30:11] Yeah, interesting. So with respect to hiring a writer for a topic, how much direction do… Walk me through the process, let’s say that I’m going to be this writer that you’re going to hire and you want me to write about whatever the particular topic is, are you simply going to give me the topic? Are you going to give me a layout of sub headlines? How much direction do you give me?
- Dovi: It depends on what we’re looking for. Right? If we’re looking for someone who can really come up with suggestions on the road and help guide that content, then we’ll probably just give them a topic or a headline at the most. If we’re looking to see writing style, you know, readability, simplicity, then we’ll give them more information. Because at that point, we don’t want that much creativity. We want to see how we can directly compare writers to each other in terms of, for example, readability. And so that will be our one and only focus at that point.
[31:19] Okay. When it comes to hiring and working with writers, biggest lessons learned?
- Dovi: Ohh. Well, this is more for ads, I would say, and landing pages than for blog content. Because blogs are blogs, we’re not spending, you know, spending huge budgets on those. Although we do sometimes boost the blog posts, we’re talking about small budgets. If we’re talking about landing pages, we’re talking about significant amounts of money. My biggest takeaway so far with that is that in the copywriting game, there’s a lot of people who talk a big game. They sell themselves. And I mean, I’ve worked with some people who call themselves “A-list writers” and blah, blah, blah. And then their copy doesn’t necessarily convert. And then I’ve worked with really, really inexpensive people on Upwork who have driven huge amounts of sales for us.
So my biggest takeaway from there is also don’t get starstruck. Definitely work with good copywriters, but give the small people a chance. And I would say, don’t invest tens of thousands of dollars in a writer unless there’s some sort of guarantee of performance, unless they’re willing to work with you in that way. Because they’re not necessarily worth it. They could be worth it. They could be all that standing between you and the expansion that you need, but nothing is guaranteed. And they talk a big game.
[32:57] What are you spending on average for a blog post?
- Dovi: For a blog post, it ranges. It depends on who we’re working with. But let’s just say an average of $100.
[33:11] 100 bucks? Okay. All right. Making sure that you have a really solid understanding of your customer personas is critical to advertising and content creation. Because obviously if you’re sending the wrong message to the wrong person, it doesn’t matter how well the copy is written, it’s not going to work. Obviously, Ron, you know, this was close to home for you because your dad was diagnosed with diabetes seven years ago. Was it easy to figure out your buyer persona? Or over the years has your buyer persona evolved in ways that you didn’t necessarily expect from the get go?
- Ron: I think we spent a lot of time understanding the world of diabetics from the get go. I mean, what are their challenges? What are their fears? What are their hopes? What are their problems? And what do they want to achieve? So the company core personas of diabetics all around there. And there might be an American diabetic patient, or British one, or even an Israeli one. That said, of course, from a data perspective, we have developed our understanding of what drives them to a decision, what are their frustrations before and treatments in the market. And knowing that it’s not only the effectiveness that they’re missing, rather, it’s the safety of the products and their impact on their lifestyle has truly evolved throughout the years.
[34:38] What are some of the tactics that you’ve used to help gain a better understanding of these personas over the years? Has it come from, you know, you’re at trade shows and you’re talking to people? Has it come from running surveys? Has it come from looking at Audience Insights within Facebook, or maybe it’s all three, or maybe there’s other ways?
- Ron: As we said before, yes, we do all of them. We do surveys, we do consumer shows, we talk with our partners. We have partnerships in many countries around the world today to see their perspective of the consumer, receive information from them. But if I try to zero it into the single most important communication channel that we have in order to understand our consumers, it’s actually our community. We have over 50,000 people on our Facebook page, but we have a close community called Winning Type 2 Diabetes Together on Facebook. It has over 12,000 members.
So truly one of the most inspiring for us as a team, for us in CuraLife, in terms of what drives us in the morning and what drives us through good and bad days, we really see a glimpse or we see a window to the impact that we’re having. But what it really enables us, due to this high level of engagement between peer-to-peer engagement that is happening in the group, it gives us a deep understanding for how they talk, what they say, and how they feel about the product. Where did it meet them? What are the challenges they experienced that drove them to make that decision? What are the challenges that prohibit people from making a choice to come into CuraLin? In our community, roughly 70% of the members are not CuraLin users. We have a very, of course, it participates in our acquisition marketing as well, but it gives us a very strong window towards what’s keeping them back. What’s the hurdle we need to still overcome?
[36:36] And is this a Facebook group, this 12,000 people?
- Ron: Yes, it’s called the Winning Type 2 Diabetes Together.
[36:43] Okay. Make sure you send me a link to the show notes in case some of the people in the audience who do have diabetes and they would like to be able to participate in this community. How did you attract 12,000 people into a Facebook group and how long did it take? When did the group start?
- Ron: We launched the group two years ago. We celebrated our two years anniversary on the 19th of June. And we’ve seen steady growth, but it’s really kind of scaled up for us in 2020. We’re experiencing over 12% month-to-month growth. And I’ll say our free main channels drive people to join in the group. And one would be referrals, many members in the group invite their diabetic friends to join. As we said, by DNA, it’s about a commercial, “You have to buy CuraLin.” There are tons of advice, information, knowledge, and peer support that is offered for diabetics from around the world in their journey to health. So that’s been super successful for us. And a big shout out to our consumers that are truly emotionally invested in our success due to the impact that we’ve been able to support in their lives.
And we’ve experimented a lot in the recent months, we’ve boosted our Facebook page to drive users or followers to our Facebook page to the community. That is seen as very strong, it’s been looking really great for the past few months for us. Both for signups as well as conversion to clients from experiencing the group.
[38:16] So when you say boosting, are you just making a mention on your Facebook page that you have this free private community in a group, and then you’ll put a little bit of budget behind that post using just the boost button on your Facebook page?
- Ron: That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right.
[38:33] I like it. Simple, okay.
- Ron: Simple and it works. Super targeted and super relevant. And we’ve seen great success so far with email marketing. So new customers that join the CuraLife, for the new users, it’s part of their email sequences, both from the first purchase to their second, and from the second to the third, they are invited to join the group to experience what it means. And we’ve seen great growth there as well.
[39:59] Okay. Is influencer marketing or partnership marketing played a role in the growth of your company?
- Ron: I have to say not really, until to this day. That’s something we’re examining. Looking at it, it’s hard to crack our demographic. It’s over 55, 60. It’s not the exact, you know, demographic that you will imagine the influencers impact on. But of course we understand it’s part of the game, and it increases awareness. We’re trying to figure out what are the traits that make an influencer relevant for us, for our demographic, to our story, and the value that we’re trying to showcase. More to come.
[39:44] Okay. So now we’ve hung out on the marketing topic for quite a bit. Before we finish up the interview, I want to talk or ask you a little bit about process management and then some of your future plans. So for folks that have been listening to my show for a while they know that I am a massive process geek. I like to have processes for absolutely everything. I like those processes to be documented. And that’s why I’m the founder of a software company called Flowster, which is a workflow and process management application. Are you guys process-focused at all? Do you have a lot of documented processes at this point in time?
- Ron: I will say we have, for sure. We are much into the process, I wouldn’t say yet. I mean, we are growing today. We’re 23 people. We’ve more than tripled in size in the last 18 months. And we would have [unintelligible] in size by the end of next year. So we understand the value in processes, documentation, and procedures as we scale up, as we train more people. So actually, we are focused on it. We have adopted Monday as our project management tool. Bringing a lot of automation into the process, best practices into our day-to-day. While we maintain flexibility, we work under the agile, I’ll call it the methodology of management. But really kind of aligned or implemented in the world of consumer healthcare in kind of our own unique way. So we like that agility, flexibility, a lot of accountability, and ownership on the individual level, working as teams that are kind of project-based rather than a hierarchical base. So we’re still figuring out how to implement our methods into a system or Wi-Fi system. But we’re totally focused on it currently, trying to build the right base for 2021.
[41:43] Okay, so in case the audience is a little foggy on what I mean by a process, let’s use something that we both do. We publish blog posts. So in our shop, we have a very, very detailed process for everything, from how we come up with a topic, how we research the keywords, how we come up with the post outline, how we find the writer, how the post is supposed to be published in WordPress, how it is scheduled, how the social media shares happen afterwards, and on, and on, and on, and on. So that whenever we publish a blog post, we follow this process, this checklist, essentially to the letter.
So regardless of you know, who’s on the team, be they someone who’s been here for a while or be they someone who’s brand new, we know that the process is going to be followed consistently, every single time, because we’ve documented the heck out of it. So have you, with respect to your blog posts, do you follow a process like that? Or is it not quite that refined at this point in time?
- Ron: On our repetitive processes, yes, we work in the same method. Once we got to a best practice kind of this is how we want to do it. This is what works for us, this means lower resources, better quality, shorter time, and shorter quality control, depending on which type of project it is. Then we draft them out, we structure them, we test them, of course, and we staple them as a best practice, and it’s really repetitive. You just copy-paste. And we do the same every time. But a lot of what we’re doing is new, we’re venturing a lot into the unknown. And we’re trying to figure out those best practices before we can staple them in.
[43:30] Yep, same for us. And that’s just part of being an agile, young, fast growing company. There’s always new stuff going on.
- Ron: Big part of the fun.
[43:40] Absolutely. Alright, before we wrap up, let’s talk about future plans. First part of the question is what’s your biggest priority to accomplish by the end of 2020? And the second part of the question is, and they might be related, what’s the biggest bottleneck that you’re working on removing?
- Ron: In the context of digital marketing or in the context of CuraLife as a whole?
[44:04] Anything you would like.
- Ron: So we are really focusing on building our clinical position. As a company, we see ourselves as a consumer healthcare startup. And that means we want to strengthen and deepen our roots in the healthcare markets. We’re doing two double-blind placebo-controlled studies. We’ve done a global real world data study, led by Prof. Itamar Raz, who is one of the most prolific researchers in the world of diabetes all around the world. And we’re heavily focused on it, both from an investment perspective and time spent. We believe once it’s successful, the meaning it will have to both of our digital growth, partnership around the world growth, and the authority that CuraLife brings into the world of supplements, will carry us to new horizons. And it’s something that we’re really focused on by the end of the year.
[44:59] Okay. And then the biggest bottleneck to growth?
- Ron: I would say scale. I mean, we always want to push more. But we’re also thinking about profitability as a startup and especially in these days of uncertainty. So how do we scale and offer up in the right pricing point is always a challenge and always a bottleneck. And it’s something we believe that we will solve and then encounter a new bottleneck, right? Like it’s something that we can move from place to place. We push the envelope, we reach scale, then we need to break something new, create that new funnel, do that optimization process that will carry us to the next stage.
[45:41] Alright, guys, the company is CuraLife. That’s spelled curalife.com. I’ve been joined today by Dovi and Ron, the founders of the company. Gentlemen, it’s been a pleasure to have you on the show. Thank you so very much for making time.
- Ron and Dovi: Thank you for having us.
Dovi Lipton & Ron Elul’s Bright Ideas
- Optimize Your Strategy
- Be Authentic & Gain Social Proof
- Test & Vary Your Ads
- Be Wise in Exploring Partnerships
- Provide Value Outside the Product
Optimize Your Strategy
CuraLife is a D2C company; therefore, it depends on website traffic and social media engagements to sell their product. Their marketing strategies need to cut through the noise to compete for a prospect’s attention. In other words, testing strategies are necessary to figure out how they can dominate a particular platform.
Dovi says, “We’ve been really trying to push videos, and they’re working really well . . . Right now, I would say, if you’re just looking at the ad format, we have an even split between images and videos. And we’re experimenting with some fun formats now, like cinemagraphs.”
They’ve even gone as far as exploring other formats such as clickbait posts on non-diabetes topics to pique the interest of customers.
This proves that finding what format works for your product is vital to ensure efficiency and profitability.
“We’re looking at our metrics on how people are interacting with the video through our Vimeo analytics, through our page tracking, through looking at the data that pixels give us. And we’re actively optimizing that through new intros and new ads—new intros in terms of voice-over, in terms of video, in terms of countdown timers, and all the different ways that we can play with that,” says Dovi.
Be Authentic & Gain Social Proof
A lot of articles and posts compete for our attention. So CuraLife stands by these strategies to stand out:
- Being authentic
- Utilizing humor and entertainment
- Generating organic social proof
They explored Harmon Brothers’ ad formats and saw that being light-hearted was actually effective for their company.
CuraLife also establishes authenticity through organic social proof. They employ testimonial ads and promote them into their community. With this, they can target cold audiences, and the impressions of their posts skyrocket from there.
Dovi says, “The feel that you get from those videos, super authentic, super rough. And when a user watches that, they can’t help but to feel that this is a real true testimonial, which they are.”
Test & Vary Your Ads
Marketing is a numbers game. In other words, the more you experiment, the better you know your market. Thus, testing is an essential aspect of advertising.
“We recognize that even a small change in copy, even a couple of words, can make a huge difference,” Dovi says.
He also says, contrary to popular belief, advertising isn’t about grand launches with “wow factor” but constantly observing how your posts show up.
“We take the time to test everything, from very small variations to really big variations. And we’re willing to put in the time, effort, and budget to test that,” Dovi says.
Be Wise in Exploring Partnerships
Business is all about connections. Having the right network can help you expand.
For CuraLife, partnering with clinics boosted their revenue growth and gave them a competitive advantage in penetrating the market. As a health supplement company, being allies with the healthcare institutions allows them to reach more audiences they wouldn’t have access to otherwise.
Aside from B2B partnerships with clinics, CuraLife plans to work with brands related to theirs. Dovi says, “We’re really exploring partnerships with companies that we can offer their products on the back end of a purchase to, yes, increase our average order value but also deliver a lot of value to our consumer.”
Provide Value Outside the Product
CuraLife believes in providing value to its customers so much that they don’t just offer their product. Integrated into their marketing strategies are educational blog posts that their audience can gain knowledge from.
Aside from content marketing, one of their B2B Facebook advertising best practices is having a Facebook community that acts as a support group for their customers.
Ron says, “Many members in the group invite their diabetic friends to join. As we said, by DNA, it’s not a commercial: ‘You have to buy CuraLin.’ There are tons of advice, information, knowledge, and peer support that is offered for diabetics from around the world in their journey to health. So that’s been super successful for us.”
What Did We Learn from This Episode?
- Constantly optimize your ads to find the format that works best for you.
- Test your marketing strategies to drive traffic to your website.
- Generate social proof to make your ads more authentic.
- Explore partnerships that will give you a competitive advantage.
- Offer more value to your customers by building an educational community for them.
[03:57] — Ron & Dovi explain the mission of CuraLife
- CuraLife creates solutions for people living with chronic conditions to help them lead healthier and happier lives.
- Their main product is CuraLin, a supplement for diabetics.
- The company started when Ron’s father was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
- They help tens of thousands of diabetics with their product.
[05:14] — What are the sales channels of CuraLife?
- CuraLife has a D2C business model, so their website is the main sales channel.
- They are also exploring partnerships with professionals such as clinics and retail pharmacies.
[07:14] — CuraLife’s B2B Facebook advertising best practices
- The company spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on Facebook ads.
- They use a mix of static images and videos.
- They let a specialist agency manage their social media campaigns.
- At first, they focused on the R&D aspect of the product to develop a base they can scale.
[08:57] — How their top funnel works
- The first ads aren’t about diabetes and the product itself.
- They focus on content that will pique curiosity and funnel traffic toward the long-form sales letters.
- Essentially, they perform click-baiting and pay-per-click advertising by writing about unrelated topics that lead you to their product.
- The company is currently experimenting with static one-image ads.
[11:41] — CuraLife’s unicorn ads
- They use Harmon Brothers’ formula for Facebook video ads.
- They are currently looking at metrics to see if video sales letters are effective.
- Testimonial ads create organic engagement and social validation.
- They have seen plenty of success coming from both these B2B Facebook advertising best practices.
[14:26] — Dovi’s lessons on video advertisements
- Their video sales letters last 30 minutes.
- Their ad landing page has only about 30 seconds of video for variety and impact.
- Authenticity and organic testimonials make an ad more powerful.
- Test variations of your content to find the best one.
- Their calls to action focus on people who can commit to an upfront sale, but they don’t have one formula for it.
[19:24] — CuraLife’s sales & order strategy
- Their average order price is $133, and they are profitable on the first purchase.
- CuraLfe wants to improve how they upsell products.
- The company is currently exploring partnerships with related products to generate more sales.
[22:26] — Practical advertising advice for D2C companies
- Know what you are doing; otherwise, you will be wasting money on social media.
- Learn how to generate and convert traffic using advertisements.
- Hire experts instead of doing in-house advertising work.
- Don’t go cheap; the low-quality output will cost you more in the long run.
[24:33] — Content marketing for CuraLife
- Their blogs are a central part of the value they provide their customers.
- Their organic content marketing is mostly educational.
- They advocate for easily applicable lifestyle changes to improve health quality.
- They work with both internal and outsourced writers.
[28:21] — Finding the right freelancers
- Test the freelancers to segregate the good ones from the bad ones.
- Freelancers can surprise you with how effective they are.
- The amount of direction you give to freelance writers depends on what your goals are.
[31:33] — Advice for hiring writers
- Don’t get starstruck with “A-list” copywriters because they might not be worth it.
- Give small writers a chance to prove themselves.
[33:51] — CuraLife’s buyer persona and other marketing strategies
- To create a buyer persona for the company, they had to understand the goals, hopes, challenges, and fears of diabetics.
- If you own a D2C company, ask yourself: “What drives your customers to a decision?”
- CuraLife gathers information from surveys, interviews, and online communities.
- CuraLife currently has 50,000 subscribers on Facebook and 12,000 members in their private community.
- Their group has been experiencing tremendous growth, and they provide information, emotional support, and peer networks for customers to live a healthier life.
[40:28] — CuraLife’s structure & processes
- CuraLife recently tripled in size, so they need more structure to support such rapid scaling.
- They adopted a more project-based structure with agile marketing to provide individual ownership and ensure accountability.
- They automated more processes using business software.
- Figure out the best practices, especially when you’re a start-up.
[44:06] — Future plans for CuraLife
- As a consumer healthcare start-up, they aim to build their clinical position by strengthening their roots in the healthcare markets.
- Their biggest challenge is how to scale and find the right price point for their product.
Ron is an experienced entrepreneur with a track record in leading businesses from inception to commercial success. After ventures in FinTech, AdTech and Solar Energy, he founded CuraLife to help his father after his type 2 diabetes diagnosis. Today, CuraLife’s mission is to help every diabetic in the world enjoy life’s events to the fullest, and they accomplish this with natural supplements, digestible education, and fostering supporting communities.