digital marketing

Level Up Digital Named A Top 2019 San Francisco Agency!

The Bay Area has become the ultimate hub of modern innovation, where the world’s top minds go to change the world. Competition here is fierce, and the market for digital services is no exception. We strive to provide nothing but the best services possible, and although we care about our position in our industry, our whole focus is on how we can drive success for our clients. That said, we are pleased to share that our client-centric approach has set us apart from the competition.

Clutch has named Level Up Digital an industry leader among the top advertising and marketing agencies in San Francisco. Clutch is a ratings and reviews platform for B2B service providers, offering data-driven insights on firms across dozens of industries. Each month, they recognize the top performing firms across various locations and categories. The selection criteria include market presence, quality of work, and most importantly, verified client reviews. Our clients have been incredibly kind in their reviews of our work.

We are pleased to share that we maintain a perfect rating of five out of five stars on Clutch, with our clients noting the quality of our work, our efficient scheduling, and the value of our services. When asked what they thought of Level Up Digital, one of our clients remarked,

“They've been a fantastic partner. The owner understands our business deeply and works closely with us to achieve our goals. He listens to and builds on our suggestions with his expertise and experience. Level Up Digital is committed to our best interests and dedicated to our success.”

Clutch’s sister-site, The Manifest, has also featured us as a top firm, specifically as one of the top social media marketing companies in San Francisco. The Manifest is a business resource that helps small and midsize firms, providing industry insights and how-to guides. We were featured for the quality of our work and our value as a partner. Our inclusion on their platform further speaks to our excellence as a service provider.

Thank you to everyone who has trusted us with the success of your marketing efforts. It means the world to us.


How To Spy on and Sell to Site Abandoners

Recently, we started working with an advertiser who has a great market-leading software tool, but a ton of competition when it comes to Google Ads.

CPC’s for their top keywords are in the $30 - $50 range. Combine that with lower search volumes, and you’ve got a challenging campaign to run.

One thing that we’ve deployed for this particular campaign is a reverse IP lookup tool called Visitor Queue to track who is visiting our campaign landing pages. The tool tells us exactly who has visited our landing pages, and their contact information.

On average, 98% of website visitors leave without converting… leaving a huge missed opportunity. Even if you’ve got the perfect landing page, you’re still never going to convert everyone who visits.

This is only suited for B2B marketing, and in fact Visitor Queue will only return company/corporate email addresses and ignore personal one’s (like Gmail, Hotmail etc.)

Visitor Queue provides:

  • Company Information

  • Website Visit Information

  • Key Contact Information & Emails

  • LinkedIn Contact Information

  • Regular Email Notifications

Once you see someone has visited the landing page without converting - you can send them an email, reach out on LinkedIn, or give them a call directly (to really freak them out).

The setup:

Visitor Queue uses Google Analytics to tag your pages or website. So the setup is super quick and easy.

However, if you want to use this tool only on specific pages, what you can do is set up a specific Google Analytics ‘view’ within your Google Analytics account. This is helpful if you want to find the contact information of people that only visit your landing pages, and not everyone who visits your main website.

If you're interested in setting this up - I can help you through the process. Just shoot me an email.

Should You Do Outbound Advertising on Facebook?

‘Outbound advertising’ or ‘prospecting’ is the type of advertising you do when you are trying to reach a new audience with your ads.

This is a crucial thing to do for any company looking to grow, but these days you don’t have many choices for doing this online, it really boils down to two platforms: Google and Facebook.

While Facebook has incredible reach, and audience targeting capabilities, there are a few things to consider before launching a campaign:

1. Can you reach your audience?

Most smaller companies are going to have a very defined customer base. For one of our clients, Quimbee, this is current law students. For Rentec Direct it’s property managers and landlords with 10 or more units under management.

When setting up your Facebook campaign, you need to input all of the targeting parameters telling Facebook which users you want to serve ads to.

There are many ways to do this, including interest targeting (targeting users based on their page likes, profile etc.) lookalike audiences, demographics and more.

facebook interests .png

While all of these seem to make perfect sense on the surface, there is more to it:

  • Interest targeting is not always accurate.

  • Lookalike audiences are great, but they still are limited by what information Facebook has on its users.

  • Demographic targeting is often too broad for most advertisers and doesn’t lead to any real results.

  • Behavioral targeting is better suited for larger advertisers with a product that appeals to a broad audience.

2. Do you have the right creative?

Consider that the people you are reaching have never heard of your brand before. This is your first impression.

Your creative needs to:

  • Communicate quickly and effectively what your product is and why someone might need it

  • Capture their attention enough to drive them to your site so you can continue marketing to them from there

This is even more challenging given people’s short attention spans these days. On the plus side, it is easy to test creative quickly on Facebook, but you're going to need to spend some budget to do so.

3. Are you set up to continue to marketing to the new audience?

Assume that the audience needs to hear from you again before they convert/register/buy.

You should have methods in place to continue to speak to this audience.

Typically advertisers will follow up via:

  • Social platform likes/follows

  • Email/newsletters

  • Direct outreach from a sales person (if you capture their contact information on the first visit)

  • Paid remarketing via Google, Facebook etc.

4. Are there better ways to bring new customers to your website?

Search should be the foundation of any advertiser's digital marketing.

Since people are already searching for something, and are therefore in-market, these are the people you want to reach. Many software and SaaS companies have been built entirely on search traffic.


Anyone with a Facebook account can use the audience insights tool to research their opportunity before launching a single ad.

The tool will allow you to determine if you can reach your target audience, and also understand the size of that audience.

Another way to really narrow down your targeting is by using boolean logic:


By doing this, you will have a much smaller but more relevant audience that is more likely to respond to your message.

If you're interested in learning more about this, feel free to reach out to me at  

4 Facebook Ad Strategies for Software & SaaS Companies

Facebook is a great place for software and SaaS companies to target their exact audience on a personal level. This level of precise targeting is what is getting Facebook in trouble, but as of right now nothing has changed with the ability to target this way, only with some of the data and insights you have access to.

This level of targeting is available through a free Facebook Ad account to anyone, you just need to know the right way of setting it up.

Here are few ways you can use Facebook ads to bring in new customers and keep the ones you already have:

1. Prospect using 1% lookalike audiences:

Facebook "lookalike audiences" are new audiences that Facebook creates based on a current audience that you have already aggregated.

This could be a list of people that are already customers of your product or if you have the Facebook pixel installed on your website, an audience of your website visitors.

By exporting a list of your current customers from your CRM and loading this to Facebook, you can select the top 1% of users on Facebook that most closely match the users who are on your list.

The tricky thing in marketing to this new audience, is having the right message. The people on the lookalike list are more than likely hearing about your product for the first time, and it’s going to take more than one ad to get them to convert. One highly effective way is to create ads from a popular posts on your website’s blog to bring them to your website for the first time.

The better the quality of the people on the list the more effective your lookalike audience will be. If you have the data, use a source audience of your highest value customers as the seed audience for the lookalike.

2. Retain current customers:

When customers stop using your platform, the more likely they are to churn.

Allocate a small amount of your marketing budget to target current customers to keep them engaged. Provide updates on new features, blog posts, or personality pieces.

Your ads will likely cost less because they will have high engagement. Depending on the size of your audience, a budget of $5-$10 a day might be enough to cover your bases here.

3. Drive traffic to landing pages:

Driving prospects off of Facebook to a landing page is a solid strategy for turning prospects into leads and sending them directly into your CRM.

By using a landing page (not a page on your website) designed entirely around capturing their contact information, you reduce the chance of them losing interest and leaving your site.

Once you have captured their contact information, make sure to follow up with them immediately.

4. Remarket to free trial cancellers:

Not everyone who doesn’t go from free-trial to paid subscriber is a lost opportunity.

They might have gone on vacation or had a busy few weeks at work. If they do lapse and aren’t automatically set up for a paid account you should encourage them to sign up.

Setup a custom audience to reach them again with a specific creative about their free-trial ending.

This might have to be a manual process depending on what CRM you use. Zapier offers the ability to sync  many CRM's with Facebook custom audiences, however some companies will find themselves having to this manually.


These are just a few ways you can use Facebook to market your software or SaaS company. And there are so many more…

the key to Facebook ads is having the right audience targeting and message match. This way you can speak to your prospects and customers depending on who they are and where they are at.

Good luck and let us know if you have any questions!


Understanding Attribution

Attribution in the digital marketing world is about how you tie results to your digital marketing efforts.

Today’s customer buying journey is complicated “like a sightseeing tour with stops, exploration, and discussion along the way—all moments when you need to convince people to pick your brand and stick with it instead of switching to a competitor.”*

Instead of search, click, browse, buy… the journey of a someone interested in a product might go something like this:

  1. Searches on Google for ‘top-rated project management software’

  2. Clicks on a paid search ad

  3. Browses the website, reading the homepage, features, and pricing pages

  4. Opens another browser tab, does another Google search to compare the platform against competitors

  5. Ends up on YouTube, watching a video review about the platform

  6. Gets distracted by a friend on Instagram, abandons the initial search

  7. Several days later is retargeted by the project management software company on Facebook and signs up for a free trial

And while the great thing about digital marketing, is that you can set up conversion tracking and directly measure the results of campaigns… this long and complicated buying process makes the results of a campaign difficult to measure and attribute success accurately.

Advertisers many years ago were not able to do this so simply and directly, and this is part of the appeal of digital marketing. Marketing directors and execs are more than happy to move budget from traditional media like TV and radio, to online channels where the promise of measurable results await.

Sounds awesome, what is the problem then?

Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as you think. There are inherent flaws in the how we measure, and what we are able to measure. And it may be helpful to know that every organization, large and small are dealing with attribution challenges in their marketing.

Here are a few key issues with measurability and attribution:

1. Digital ad platforms don’t communicate with each other

If you are running campaigns on Google, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn at the same time, you will get campaign reporting from each of these platforms. But none of these platforms will communicate with each other so you end up with your data in dreaded ‘silos’.

This means if LinkedIn tells you that you got 50 conversions, and Facebook tells you that you got 50 conversions - you may only have gotten 50 real conversions and not 100. Or you may have gotten 75, 53, or 92...

Without knowing exactly who converted, and what marketing they were exposed to at every step, you can’t truly understand the effectiveness of each channel.

2. Trackability issues

The simple fact is that you won’t be able to track all of the results of your campaigns. There are several reasons for this:

  • Private browsing:

    • Private Browsing protects private information and blocks websites from tracking behavior. It also prevents the ability to remarket to someone.

  • Cookie deletion:

    • Cookies are a small piece of data sent from a website and stored on the user's computer by the user's web browser while the user is browsing. Cookies often get deleted by users and in some cases don’t get accepted by the browser in the first place.

  • Organic search data encryption:

    • Google protects its users by encrypting all of their organic search data and not sharing it with anyone. While this makes it more difficult to track and optimize organic search efforts, you can still get most of this data if you are running paid search campaigns.

  • Device and browser switching:

    • People tend to have more than one device that they access the web on (laptop, desktop computer, mobile phone, e-reader etc.)

    • That creates difficulty in measuring the impact of a user seeing an ad on one device and converting on another.

  • Conversions that happen outside of the measurement window:

    • Some conversions can happen several months later. This will be especially true for purchases that have a long consideration period.


  • Accept that at least for now, you won’t be able to measure everything and that is OK! Focus on running the best campaigns possible, and use what you can measure from the platform data to optimize.

  • Deeply understand your target audience, so that you can target them accurately.

  • Use AdWords quality score and Facebook relevance score to perfect your target audience/message match.

  • Look at your overall results from your sales tracking tool - how are sales performing this year compared to last year?

  • If you can afford it, deploy measurement platforms like Attribution App, or Convertro that give you the ability to track and de-duplicate your marketing efforts across channels (note that event these platforms won’t be able to track everything).



3 Things to Test on Your Landing Pages

Landing pages are ideal when running paid marketing campaigns. By sending the traffic to a page that is created specifically for generating leads, you have an advantage over sending this traffic to a website where the user can easily get lost and leave without converting.

Combining the landing page strategy with ongoing A/B testing, allows you to consistently improve the results you get from your campaigns.

In the digital marketing world, the concept of testing is often thrown around but not executed on very well.

We put together 3 things to test with new landing pages. In general it's a good idea to start with larger tests when first launching a campaign, before you start testing small things like button color.

1. Call to Action/Conversion Goal

Start with the CTA as one of the larger things to test. By testing ‘top-down’ and focusing on big picture things first you can start out with a better performing page right out of the gate.

The CTA should relate directy to the conversion objective of the landing page.

Examples of CTA's are:

  1. Download a white paper or PDF
  2. Request a demonstration of the product

  3. Sign up for a free trial

These should line up with how you respond to the action taken as well. If you are going to go with ‘request demo’, you need to make sure you have marketing automation in place to assign the leads to a product specialist or salesperson that can reach out right away.

2. Social Proof:

Testimonials from current clients are a great way to support the conversion goal of your landing page. Visitors to your landing page will love the internal reinforcement they get when reading these.

Badges, awards, and certifications are also great to highlight as well as # of customers and any other stats you might have. The added trust you get from having social proof elements on a landing page are proven to increase conversion rates.

3. Headline:

The H1 headline is one of the most key elements of your landing page. It’s what the visitor reads first, and can often mean the difference between a bounce and a conversion.

The main principle is having the headline sync up to what was clicked on in the ad. 

For example, Bob clicked a Facebook ad offering a 14-day free trial of a subscription coffee service - the headline needs to match that copy as closely as possible.


These are 3 elements that should be tested right out of the gate with your new landing page. Once you find the (statistically valid) champion, put together a new design to test against the current winner.

Happy testing!

The Importance of a Remarketing Strategy

Average conversion rates for websites these days average around 1-2%.

That is, 1-2% of the visitors to your website will actually become a paying customer. That may seem low, but for most, this is enough to sustain their business.

Average ‘abandoned cart’ rates (someone starting but not completing the purchase/checkout process) are closer to 70-80% depending on the business and the product.

This creates a huge opportunity to get more leads and make more sales, without having to bring additional people to your website - a true low hanging fruit in the world of software subscription and eCommerce businesses.


“Now in all fairness to the e-commerce industry, a large portion of cart abandonments are simply a natural consequence of how users browse e-commerce sites – many users will be doing window shopping, price comparison, saving items for later, exploring gift options, etc. These are largely unavoidable cart and checkout abandonments.”

It may well not be that these potential customers didn’t like your product, many of these customers may have simply not been ready to buy at that time.

For a highly considered purchase, not only does that person need to think about that purchase, they may need to also involve others in their buying decision. This inevitably increases the time it takes for them to make a decision. And the longer they take… the less likely they are to buy.

From Watertight Marketing:

In a considered purchase both emotional and rational appeals need to be met. This is because the buying decision tends to be more important, for one of the following reasons:

  • Expense: there is a high financial outlay involved or an ongoing commitment.

  • Other people: the purchase affects more than one person.

  • Status: a person’s sense of identity or reputation is affected by the purchase.

When these elements come together, the buyer has a lot to lose if they get their decision wrong. They are taking a risk. The job of your marketing is to reduce that risk.

Where remarketing comes in:

There are entire companies built on abandoned cart and remarketing, but you can do pretty much exactly the same things that these companies do directly through a (free) Google AdWords or Facebook Ads account.

Between Google and Facebook, you can reach almost everyone online. On Google, this could be via text ads, display ads, and YouTube video ads. On Facebook, you can reach people in their Facebook News Feed, on Instagram, and on the Facebook Audience network.

Here are a few ways to increase your conversions with remarketing:

1. Create custom remarketing audiences in Google Analytics:

Google Analytics linked to an AdWords account gives you powerful ways to remarket to your potential customers. The audiences you can create in GA can be customized to almost any behavior. For example:

  • Users that visited certain pages on the site

  • Users that spend a certain amount of time on the website

  • Users that viewed a video on your YouTube channel

These audiences can then be imported into AdWords and used for remarketing campaigns using text, display, and YouTube video ads.

2. Install the Facebook pixel on your website:

If you haven’t done this already… do it now. It’s free and the sooner you set it up, the sooner you be collecting audience data for future campaign efforts.

Facebook gives a full walkthrough of that here.

This will allow you to setup custom audiences that you want to remarket to. Same as with Google Analytics audiences, these can be customized to user behavior on a website.

3. Tailor your message to that person with dynamic remarketing

For eCommerce businesses, and businesses that sell a variety of different products - you may want to tailor the message to the last product or products that they were viewing before they abandoned.

You have more than likely seen ‘dynamic remarketing’ ads before where the ad is customized to show the products you were last viewing or put in your shopping cart before you abandoned.

These ads work extremely well because of the relevancy. And there is a good chance that something caused you to leave that product page and not buy. Maybe you got distracted at home by your dog, or the BART train you were on arrived at your stop.

Once you see one of these ads, you would be highly likely to return.

Bonus - If you are a software product, make the bar as low as possible:

Consider removing a credit card requirement until after you have collected their name and email. This way, if they do abandon the checkout process you can follow up with them via email and remarketing.

Remember that it can take at least 7 interactions with a potential customer before they buy. And if you can do that via email and advertising - you are going to have a better chance of winning that person over.

To sum it up:

Remarketing is seriously powerful and cost-effective. If you want to start selling more products, and increase sign ups, you should take steps to implement a remarketing campaign as soon as possible.

Micro-optimization: How to Optimize Your Campaigns Faster and More Effectively

So what is micro-optimizing?

Get ready for some good old fashioned digital marketing nerdsplaining!

Micro-optimizing is using small but statistically significant tests based on micro-conversions to determine what is working best in your campaigns.

It empowers you with the data that you need to optimize your campaigns for better results much faster and more effectively.

What is a micro-conversion?

A micro-conversion is built on Avinash Kaushik’s idea of ‘micro’ and ‘macro’ conversions.

Simply put, a ‘macro’ conversion is going to be whatever is bringing in revenue for your business. Be that software subscriptions, dog training treat sales, or a new client for your agency.

A ‘micro’ conversion is going to be anything that leads up to that macro conversion. I.e someone spending 5 minutes on your site reading your marketing materials. Or someone putting a product in your shopping cart before buying to see what the total cost with tax and shipping would be (tip you should be retargeting these people with abandoned cart ads).

Why do we need it?

Many times, a businesses web analytics measurement model looks something like this:

Image borrowed from Avinash’s  blog post  - full credit to Avinash.

Image borrowed from Avinash’s blog post - full credit to Avinash.

Most websites are going to a macro-conversion rate around 2%. If you only look at your main conversion that means you are essentially ignoring the 98% of website visitors that did not purchase from you on their visit.

Your measurement should look more like this:

Screen Shot 2018-03-09 at 8.40.50 AM.png

It’s plain to see that filling the measurement model with insightful data is going to give you much more information to use in optimizing your campaign and your businesses performance.

In addition to helping you better understand your website audience, micro-optimizing can be used to optimize your paid marketing campaigns to determine the best:

  • Audience
  • Ad copy
  • Keyword
  • Bid strategy
  • Landing page

And more....

 How can I start ‘micro-optimizing’ my campaigns? 

The first step is going to be setting up your measurement model to include micro-conversions. You need to do this in your analytics platform (which is going to be Google Analytics for the vast majority of businesses). Facebook is going to be a little different and we’ll get into that below.

There are many different types of micro-conversions but ultimately the ones you choose should do these 2 things:

  1. Align with real business goals and objectives
  2. Correlate to these business goals and objectives. I.e you should know if someone spends 10 minutes on your site that they are more likely to buy than someone who spends 2 seconds. Or someone who requests a free audit is likely to become a client.

For a small digital marketing and design shop like ours, we would want to data like:

“Users that spend at least 2 minutes on our site” or “Users that viewed at least 2 pages on our site”. These certainly align with our business goals and correlate with potential client behavior.

For a SaaS company that sells to Marketing VP’s at Fortune 500 companies, maybe their micro-conversion is a PDF download, or a request for product demonstration by a salesperson with a cleverly disguised non-salesy sounding title.

AdWords example:
The best way to do this for AdWords campaigns is to set up some sort of goal in Google Analytics and then import it into AdWords. This will give you the data you want down to the campaign, ad group, keyword, ad level.

This is as granular as you can get, but you’ll need to make sure that your AdWords and GA accounts are linked first.

  1. Create the goal in Google Analytics. Kissmetrics gives a good walkthrough here.
  2. Import the goal(s) into your Google AdWords account.
  3. Start optimizing!

Facebook Ads:

Facebook does not play well with Google Analytics at all. There is not a direct integration like there is from AdWords to Google Analytics.

Even when you set up Google Analytics tracking URLS (UTM codes) you will probably only see a fraction of clicks from Facebook actually translate into trackable sessions in Google Analytics.

To ‘micro-optimize’ in Facebook, you will want to set up the relatively new Facebook pixel on all pages of your website or mobile app and then setup event tracking and/or custom conversion tracking.

Your custom conversion or event would align with one of these micro-conversions. I.e if someone downloads one of your PDF’s - track that as an ‘lead’.

How to start micro-optimizing:

Now that you have your micro-conversions setup, and you have campaigns up and running let’s look at an example of how you would micro-optimize.

AdWords Ad Optimization

In AdWords you can ‘segment’ your conversions to see all of the different conversion types that you are tracking and the results tied to your campaign. Note that these are not reported on retroactively so you will only be able to see this data after you complete the steps above.

Here is an example of optimizing ad performance in AdWords using a micro-conversion setup to track users that spend at least 2 minutes on a website.

Ad Testing: Ad “A” Vs Ad “B”

Which ad performs better?


Not using micro-conversion:

Looking at actual purchases of the product there is not enough data to have a statistically significant result. We can either continue to spend budget and wait until there is enough data, or look at another conversion metric with more volume.

Kissmetrics A/B statistical significance calculator.

Screen Shot 2018-03-09 at 8.48.13 AM.png

Using micro-conversion:

Looking at users who spent at least 2 minutes on the website we see that ad “B” is the statistically significant winner of this ad test with a higher conversion rate (73.61% vs 64.93%)

Screen Shot 2018-03-09 at 8.49.41 AM.png

Ad B performs better than ad A by 13% with 98% certainty.

Optimization action - pause ad A and create a new ad based on ad ‘B’. Run another test, rinse and repeat!

Facebook Optimization

In Facebook you will need to customize your reporting columns to pull your micro-conversions into your report. For this test we compared the performance of 2 different retargeting audiences.

Audience Testing: Retargeting audience 1 vs. retarget audience 2

Which retargeting audience performs better?


Not using micro-conversion:

Looking at actual ‘purchases’ of the product.

Screen Shot 2018-03-09 at 8.52.29 AM.png

Not enough data again. Either continue to spend budget until there is a winner, or look at micro-conversion data.

Micro-conversion data - statistically significant results:

Looking at views of the shopping cart page instead of actual purchases.

Screen Shot 2018-03-09 at 8.54.56 AM.png

Audience B converts 61% better than A. Optimzation action - move budget from A to B or shutdown A entirely. Start a new test, rinse and repeat.

As you can see, doing this will get to to statistical relevance faster, without having to spend as much budget. Ultimately this is going to drive much better performance from your digital campaigns and you will need to spend less to get better results. I don’t know what marketer or business owner wouldn’t want that!

Thanks for reading!

If you need help or have questions about how to set any of this up contact us here feel free to shoot me an email at

Design Project Rundown - Start to Finish

People often ask us what our design process is for a new project. Below is a rough outline of the process we follow, which incorporates feedback, testing, and several rounds of revisions.

As design is an organic process that needs to be adapted and transformed to give the best possible outcome, it is built to accommodate the inevitable scope changes and requests that come along.

Here is a basic rundown of how we handle a new design project:


The initial phase involves identifying the:

  1. Design goals
  2. Project constraints
  3. Budget
  4. ‘Best possible outcome’
  5. Target audience
  6. Value to the customer
  7. Identifying the MVP (minimum viable product)
  8. Interviewing end users and stakeholders to gather feedback


The next phase is about brainstorming and sketching out design drafts, creating mock ups and soliciting more feedback from users and stakeholders.

Based on the feedback we create high fidelity wireframes and work with stakeholders to identify the best design solution to move forward.

Depending on what is being designed, we might run an A/B test (in the case of landing pages or ads).

Final Design

The final design is created. If necessary, we go through more feedback and revisions to perfect the final product.


Once satisfied with the design, we box it up, wrap it, tie a bow on it and send it out into the world.

Great design is critical and first impressions are everything. And when it comes to pairing marketing and design (whether it be getting more sign ups, or just a better overall user experience) it is important to be open to testing, getting feedback and making changes even if you disagree. The results will be so much better if you are open to change.