S2E1 – How to run profitable ad campaigns? With Michael Damnjanovic

A profitable ad campaign is a marketing initiative that generates a positive return on investment (ROI) and achieves the desired objectives within a specified budget. In other words, it is an advertising campaign that brings in more revenue or value than the cost of running the campaign. The big question is, how do you run successful and profitable ad campaigns?

The profitability of an ad campaign is typically measured by analyzing key performance indicators (KPIs) such as conversion rates, cost per acquisition (CPA), return on ad spend (ROAS), and overall ROI. If these metrics indicate that the revenue or value generated from the campaign exceeds the costs incurred, then the campaign is considered profitable.

In this episode 1 of season 2, we are talking about how to run revenue-generating ads for your SaaS. Today’s subject matter expert is Michael Damnjanovic, CCO of Adline, an ad SaaS that helps clients make value-driving ads by leveraging artificial intelligence.

Why you should listen to Michael?

 Over the past 3 years, he has been a guest speaker to over 1,000 startups and small, medium size companies about advertising and business growth. His company stands as the go-to place for founders seeking to avoid common mistakes about running ads that drive value.

Minimal requirements for running ads?

 Before launching an advertising campaign, Mike observes that it is necessary to define your objectives clearly. The objectives clearly outline the goal of the ads, for instance, to increase sales. He further explains the need to understand your target audience to craft the messaging for the most impact. The ad should highlight the value proposition of your product or services, showing how it offers a desired solution to the problem the client has. To run ads that drive value, our guest expert underscores the importance of a well-designed website that delivers the message effectively. This website would provide greater value if it is mobile-friendly, user-friendly, and easy for customer conversion. 

Of greater significance also, Mike says that a SaaS should implement conversion tracking, which measures the effectiveness of the ads. As a rule of thumb for startups and small, medium-size companies, Mike advises that they should seek other cost-effective alternatives if they lack sufficient budget allocation for running ads. Such organic alternatives include affiliate marketing and social media marketing. He speaks on the need to establish the personnel that runs ads at an organization, whether it is the founder themselves, marketing professional, or agency. In addition, our subject matter expert says that you should utilize the most suitable platform to run your ads in order to enjoy great visibility among your ideal customer profile. 

Finally, Mike advises creating highly compelling ads by considering the target audience’s needs. He closes his list of minimal requirements for running ads that drive value with the Role of testing and tracking ads. This helps to understand signups and those who converted to paying customers.

What is a profitable ad campaign?

 Mike unpacks a profitable ad campaign as one that generates a positive return on investment. This translates that the revenue generated from the ad should be greater than the cost of running the ad. Often, the Return on Ad Spent (ROAs) should be over 5 times of the investment. It is testing and experimenting on what works and what does not greatly helps to run ads that drive value.

Steps to running a profitable ad

Mike recommends that startups and small/medium-size companies explore organic ways of running ads before committing resources to the campaign. After building sufficient budgetary capabilities, consider outsourcing the professional services of ad agencies or ad software. In Mike’s professional opinion, a must for running ads that drive value is proficiency in AB testing or split testing. This is critical in figuring out the strengths and weaknesses of your ad campaign. He recommends that you should apply what’s working in your ads to your website in order to realize increased conversions.

Role of artificial intelligence in creating effective ads

 Our subject matter expert lauds AI as a consistent, non-tiring worker, unlike humans who tire. As long as you give it a predefined set of rules, AI executes them faithfully around the clock. He further says that generative AI raises the bar in creativity relative to human designers. However, Mike observes that AI is still imperfect and thus needs human input to realize ads that drive value.

Multi-channel marketing strategies

Mike argues that having multi-channel marketing strategies in place, including running ads and affiliate programs simultaneously, is beneficial. They complement each other, with affiliates driving traffic to the website the same as ad visibility. The overall outcome is often increased conversions and sales.

Advice to SaaS founders with 10K MRR

 Mike recommends that early-stage founders conduct sufficient testing and experimentation to realize what works and doesn’t. Also, the startup SaaS should focus more on sales-led growth instead of going viral. This translates that you should conduct a lot of customer engagement to understand the desires and needs of your ICP.

Advice to SaaS founders with 10M ARR

 Our guest expert advises SaaS founders with 10M ARR to allocate sufficient resources to testing and experimentation to explore more growth avenues.

What he wishes he had known a 10years ago

 Mike says that he has learned to trust his own instincts instead of getting deviated by other people who sound convincing. If you believe something in your core, avoid being won over by sophisticated talk. Instead, follow your instinct.

Time Stamps

  • (0:44) Introduction of topic and guest expert
  • (01:21) Why you should listen to Mike
  • (02:40) Minimal requirements for running ads
  • (11:20) What is a profitable ad campaign
  • (12:45) Steps to running a profitable ad
  • (18:06) Role of artificial intelligence in creating effective ads
  •  (20:03) Multi-channel marketing strategies
  • (21:22) Advice to SaaS founders with 10K MRR
  • (23:24) Advice to SaaS founder with 10M ARR
  • (23:58) What he wishes he had known a decade ago
  • (25:13) Mike’s contact information: LinkedIn, podcast, Adline.com


[00:00:00.000] – Intro

Welcome to Growing a B2B SaaS. On this show, you’ll get actionable and usable advice. You’ll hear about all aspects of growing a business to a business software company. Customer success, sales, funding, bootstrapping, exits, scaling, everything you need to know about growing a startup, and you’ll get it from someone who’s going through the same journey. Now your host, Joran Hofman.

[00:00:29.380] – Joran Hofman

Welcome back to another episode of the Grow Your B2B SaaS podcast. This is the first episode of season two as we closed off season one. In the Grow Your B2B SaaS podcast, we discuss all topics on how to grow your B2B SaaS no matter in which stage you’re in. When you’re looking to scale your SaaS, you’re probably also thinking about running ads. When done wrong, it can cost you a lot of money without seeing much result. So how do you run ads which drive revenue? We’re going to talk with Michael Damjervitsch today, the CCO at ad line, and ad line is a SaaS platform which helps you to make profitable ads with the use of AI. Next to being a SaaS leader himself, he knows exactly what is working for their clients when they’re running ads. Welcome to the show, Michael, or do I say Mike?

[00:01:13.480] – Michael Damnjanovic

Yeah, thanks. You can call me Mike. It’s an English thing. We always shorten the names from Michael to Mike.

[00:01:20.500] – Joran Hofman

Exactly. I always like to ask this question at the beginning. I did this intro, of course. If people are not convinced yet, why should people listen to you today?

[00:01:29.080] – Michael Damnjanovic

I think if you are in a startup company or a small company, then you know how important it is to speak to your customers. So over the last almost three years, I’ve spoken not thousands, but well over 1,000 small medium sized businesses all around the world. So I have talked to them about their advertising, about growing their business, and I know their common mistakes, I know what their pains are, I know what their desires are in their dreams. I know how Adline is solving a lot of those problems and those pains. And hopefully today I’ll be able to share some of those mistakes that are commonly and typically made. Actually, it’s really interesting because when a new company is established, pretty much 98 % of the time, they make exactly the same mistakes. And you’re just thinking, But if there was just a go to place where people could just read about that mistake, then they could save themselves with a lot of pain and a lot of unnecessary effort. My experience then over the last few years, speaking with small startup companies in terms of how we can help them actually succeed with their advertising.

[00:02:31.850] – Michael Damnjanovic

So hopefully I have a few things to be said that are of interest.

[00:02:34.810] – Joran Hofman

I know you will. We’re definitely going to make this mission to help people avoid these mistakes. Before we even start running ads, what, in your opinion, should be minimal in place before you can even think about running ads?

[00:02:47.500] – Michael Damnjanovic

There’s a lot of things, but I think you need to define your objectives. I know that sounds a bit funny, but if I ever sit down with a company or a new business and they say, Okay, we want to run ads. I say, Okay, why? We want to get more sales. Okay, that’s a pretty good really clear objective, right? But when you sit down and you’re going to be making your campaign, then you really need to clearly outline what is it that you actually want to achieve with your ads. And once you’ve done that, then I’ve got a few things here that I’m going to say, but if you can clearly outline what it is you want to achieve with your ads, then you can actually look at the entire customer journey thereafterand actually start to tweak and adjust that journey to make it as seamless as possible. So define your objects and then obviously knowing your target audience. I may contradict myself a little bit here, but it is so important that you know who you’re selling to. So for example, let’s say that you’re selling a barbecue, then you don’t really need to go that far to think about who my target audience is.

[00:03:42.950] – Michael Damnjanovic

It’s probably a guy. They probably are very interested in meat. They’re probably very interested in food. If you go along, then what are their interests? They probably like beer, they probably like wine. They like experiences. They like good times, they like good music. If you were to Google or to look up barbecue you’re probably going to find some country style music or rock, something like that. So you’re understanding who your audience is, that’s really important. And then being able to highlight your value proposition. And of course, that’s the way that you communicate the unique benefits of your product or your service. Here, I just want to make the differentiation. If you are an e-commerce store, for example, selling barbecues, then it’s really important that you communicate those unique benefits. Our barbecue has this function or this feature that this barbecue doesn’t have. But when you come to a SaaS product, for example, for a product like the ad line, instead of us saying, Okay, we got the ad creator, we got this and this, then we have to actually show what has been achieved with those features, how those features can actually alleviate someone’s pain or solve their problem.

[00:04:44.720] – Michael Damnjanovic

So that’s the first two things. And then, of course, you need to have a well designed website. And when I say well designed website, I don’t mean a website where you spend hundreds and hundreds of thousands of euros or dollars on it, but it needs to fall in line with what your messaging is. So if you’re pushing out ads, then that messaging in those ads needs to coincide with what’s on your website. And then you need to make it mobile friendly, you need to make it user friendly, and ultimately, you need to make it easy for somebody to become a customer. Don’t make it difficult. So that’s the first few things. And then input complement conversion tracking. We did a survey of Norwegian businesses a little over a year ago. It’s still very relevant today because I’m still speaking to new businesses. But conversion tracking, actually measuring the effectiveness of your ads. This survey showed that there were 33 % of the people that we interviewed. Only 33 % were actually in checking the effectiveness of their ads. So the other 67 %, they basically just made a campaign, clicked Start, and then they went around business.

[00:05:44.860] – Michael Damnjanovic

They didn’t even look at it. So you need to implement conversion tracking. You need to know how effective your ads are. And then I think if you are someone that’s very new to advertising, then it’s who’s actually going to be doing this work. He’s actually going to be sitting down and creating the ad copy, making the creativs. Allocate a budget and your resources. A rule of thumb for a very small company, I would say, and of course, I’m sure there’s people that would disagree with me here, but after running over 3,000 campaigns in the last two and a half years, this is something that I sit again with. And that is that if you’re not prepared to invest €500 at minimum over a period of 6 to 12 months, don’t start advertising yet. Look at different organic ways, maybe looking at an affiliate marketing system, maybe push things organically via LinkedIn or YouTube or Instagram Reels, for example, TikTok. But if you’re not prepared to invest that money over a period of 6 to 12 months, then you’re only going to end up with a lot of heartbreak because advertising is a lot of testing. It’s a culture of testing and experimentation.

[00:06:43.480] – Michael Damnjanovic

And finally, then the last three things I’ve got here is choose the right platform. Facebook and Instagram, for example, great for visibility. Google is obviously very great for conversions. It has been, it still is, and I think it will be for a very long time to come that when I in buying mode, then I will go to Google and I will say, find me the best X, Y, Z, or find me the nearest restaurant, or find me the Google is the place to go when I’m actively trying to buy. And then what I would say, the last two things is this that create compelling ad copy. This is probably the most difficult thing in my view because you want to create ads that actually appeal to your ideal customers. And a lot of business owners, they will start sitting down and they can write and write and write for days. But what they’re writing doesn’t actually appeal to the people that they want to sell to. So you really have to get into the mind of your ideal client. And then like I mentioned now, this setting up tracking and analyzing, you need to foster this culture of testing and investigating to find out what ads are working, what ad copy is working, what creative is working.

[00:07:50.690] – Michael Damnjanovic

So for example, if we were to do some campaign for, let’s say, affiliate marketing, it could very well be that a picture of your ad would work 10 times better than a picture of me. But we wouldn’t know that without testing it. So to be able to foster this culture of testing and experimentation, so monitor your campaign performance. I think that’s the main things I would do if you’re thinking about to start running ads.

[00:08:12.400] – Joran Hofman

Nice. I’m going to try to summarize this. You need to have clear goals. You need to know exactly who you’re selling to, so definitely identify your ICP. I think that’s the most important. Choose the right platform, as you said. So where is your ideal customer profile present? Who’s going to do it? Allocate budget resources and have that minimum budget as you mentioned. Then, of course, create appealing ad copies. Make sure that you show exactly what the value is in this case of your SaaS, what problem you’re fixing. Make sure that your website aligns with the ad copy, so the conversion rate will go up and then basically make sure you track everything. One thing which I would recommend is track the full funnel, so know exactly not just who signed up, but also who actually went to pay it because you might have a lot of sign ups, but then they might not be your ideal customer profile. So it always comes back to that. And what you mentioned, testing and investigating, that’s basically it. So aka, what is working, that’s going to be really important.

[00:09:09.760] – Michael Damnjanovic

Just to add on to that one point about who’s actually going to be doing the work, allocating your resources. This is one of the mistakes that I see almost every small company start with. And that’s why I also came with the recommendation on the budget on what you actually going to invest. But they start out with, Okay, start our company. We’ve got a few customers. That’s really great. That’s really good. And then they say, we need to grow our business now. So what’s the fastest and quickest way to do that? That is ads. That is just the way it is. Okay, I need to do ads. Okay, so what are my options? Okay, I’m in a small company. I’ve got four, maybe 10 employees. Okay, so then I’ve got these options. One, I can do it myself. It’s in the news think, Okay, am I actually going to invest my time into actually doing advertising correctly? And do I actually have any knowledge when it comes to it? Have I actually done, for lack of a better word, what is my competency level when it comes to advertising? And there’s nothing to be ashamed there.

[00:09:58.800] – Michael Damnjanovic

If you haven’t done it before. You need to learn it. But that takes time and it is very complicated. I’m sure you’ve been in Facebook Business Manager, for example, or in Google, it’s difficult to say the least. And especially when they’re adding LinkedIn and TikTok and Snapchat and YouTube and they are, they are complicated. But think about it, one, should I be doing it myself? Two, do I want to then outsource this to a marketing guru or to a marketing agency? Do I then have the budget to actually pay them? So really, I think that’s something that if you’re going to… Don’t just jump into it. Think about, okay, in the next 6 to 12 months, how are we actually going to run ads? We’re going to do it ourselves. We’re going to go that way. And the way that it typically goes, for the people I speak to, they start out trying to do it themselves, and then they find out that they can’t, or they can, but it’s just too time consuming. So then they outsource it to a marketing agency, and they spend $1,000, $2,003 in a retainer, and then they feel that they’ve lost control and they’re not very happy with the conversions or the level of service.

[00:10:53.780] – Michael Damnjanovic

And then they come to ad line, for example, or to another software where they can actually automate a lot of it themselves, but they still have that control. If there was one thing that I wish we could do is that they could just hop over the first two things, but I guess it will never be the case because it’s a natural way to find out what’s working, what’s not working.

[00:11:10.420] – Joran Hofman

Exactly. Because with a tool like yourself, they still keep control, but they get the benefits basically of getting best practices and avoiding the most common pitfalls. Nice. Before I really dive in, you talk about creating profitable ad campaigns. Maybe a really basic question, but what do you consider a profitable ad campaign?

[00:11:31.250] – Michael Damnjanovic

Yeah, it’s something that’s a profitable ad campaign is a campaign that generates a positive return on investment, so return on investment for the advertiser. So in other words, the revenue that you generate from your campaign should exceed the cost of the advertiser. Of running the ads. If you put in €500 for your campaign, then the revenue that you generate from that campaign should exceed that $500. And of course, you can speak to different people that say, Okay, we can get you five, or six, or seven, eight, nine, ten times ROI. In many cases that is the case. But this goes back to this testing. When you’ve not done advertising before, you don’t know what works. And I’m going to be completely honest, if I’ve never seen you before, I’ve never known your company, I don’t know what works. But we can help you have a really great foundation so that you can find out what works. And when you know it works, you can do more of what works, and then you can increase that return on investment. And when you know what doesn’t work, then you can stop doing that and wasting your money.

[00:12:25.780] – Michael Damnjanovic

I think that’s the main thing. Profitable ad campaign is one that generates more revenue so much so that it exceeds what you actually invest into the campaign.

[00:12:34.520] – Joran Hofman

Yeah. And for the people listening, often it’s called ROAS, return on ad spend. And that is a number which people take when they look at ad spend. Am I actually getting my return back? So AeroA r or ROAS. So let’s say I want to start running ads myself right now, which steps would I need to take? So I’m going to skip, I guess, then doing it myself. I’m probably going to skip getting an agency in, but there’s probably still a couple of steps I need to take.

[00:12:59.870] – Michael Damnjanovic

Yeah. So if you’re going to start running ads now, you’ve never run ads before, then I think you need to look at that. How much can I invest in this now? Can I invest, for example, a minimum of 500 US dollars or 500 euros for the next 6 to 12 months? Is that something that I can comfortably invest? The answer is no. Like I said, then do more organic push of a avenues first and then come back to this when you can comfortably say that I can invest this money. I need to look it up who is heading up this work. Like you mentioned just now, is it going to be me now? Okay, then will I outsource it then? Should I be going to a marketing agency or software? And I think here you can say it depends on how much control you want to have yourself. Do you actually want to learn how to do advertising or are you happy to just outsource it? A lot of companies, they’re actually very happy to just outsource it as long as they’re getting that I could return. Once I’ve understood this, then I can actually start looking at what I’ve just been saying just before when you asked the question, what should be in place at a bare minimum before even thinking about running ads.

[00:13:56.600] – Michael Damnjanovic

Those things that I’ve listed up, that’s basically what I would say.

[00:14:00.090] – Joran Hofman

Nice. And is there one thing, like we talked about mistakes, is there one thing you said you should definitely do this when you’re going to run ads? I guess besides all the things you already mentioned.

[00:14:11.140] – Michael Damnjanovic

One thing that you should definitely do when running ads. I think that you need to be proficient in A B testing or split testing. Like I said, the one mistake a lot of people make is insufficient testing and iteration. We did an episode with a Google employee, Christina Persson, and she talked about the importance of experimentation, importance of testing. And she actually gave a really amazing example where she was working, I think, for the Norwegian Tax Association in Norway, and they had to basically collect in some money. And they tested many different headlines and many different texts, and they found out that these specific headlines were detracting people from actually clicking in and actually paying that money. But then they found out that these headlines over here and this body text actually compelled people to actually open up. I get the example as well for Reditus. If we were to do a campaign, if you need to test, you need to find out what is working, what headlines are actually bringing in that traffic and then actually maybe leading to a conversion, what copyright is working. So I think that’s one thing that you should definitely do.

[00:15:13.350] – Michael Damnjanovic

And that takes time and that takes patience and that takes an investment of your money as well. Because after you’ve got that knowledge and you can say, Okay, it cost me $1,000, I didn’t get many customers for that. But what you sit with is that you know exactly what worked and you can do more of what work to get more customers. I think that answers your question.

[00:15:29.980] – Joran Hofman

Yeah, it definitely does. And I think it also brings back to what you said, right, when you open up the money tab with ads, it is a quick channel to get some traffic in, to get good conversions in. But in the end, it does take time to really optimize the channel. I think that’s one thing people often forget. They think we’re just going to invest in ads and then things will work out. And what you say here is take the time to actually test things, whether it’s working.

[00:15:52.390] – Michael Damnjanovic

Or not. If I could just say one more thing, one of the biggest frustrations I have, if I can say it that way, is that if a company runs ads, for example, with ad line, and they get a crazy good CTR, so click through rate. So that means that the ads are finding the right people and they’re clicking on it. And then it goes to their website and it’s on their website that the conversion happens, but they’re not getting many conversions. Then it’s most likely that there’s something that needs to be adjusted on their website. Maybe they should make the button purchase a little bit bigger. Maybe they need to give payment options, for example, like that. I think also data box, if you are familiar with those product data box. Anyway, they’ve done a report about exactly this. Very often, if people just made those changes to their website, they would see their conversions go straight up. So it’s not necessarily a problem with the ad. It’s a problem with the way that you communicate with people on your website. One thing I would do, maybe testing is bit testing, but also make sure that when you find out what has worked on your ad, go to your website and just spend time tweaking that, adjusting it slightly, because you’ll be amazed.

[00:16:49.230] – Michael Damnjanovic

You’ll be shocked with the results, the change in results in a positive way.

[00:16:53.150] – Joran Hofman

Because whatever ad you’re going to run, it has to resonate where people are going to land on. And to give it a really clear example, like we might be running ads really soon ourselves. But what we did to prepare for that is we created competitor landing pages. So if we’re going to run ads on our competitor keyword or brand names, then they are going to land on something which resonates with the ad we’re running. So if we say Redd it is competitor alternative, then they’re going to land on a page where we actually say why we’re better than them with a clear CTA. Make sure everything aligned over there.

[00:17:26.120] – Michael Damnjanovic

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[00:18:06.810] – Joran Hofman

You guys use AI or leverage AI with creating the ads. What is the benefit of it? How does it really help to create better ads?

[00:18:15.150] – Michael Damnjanovic

I think we use AI in a few different ways, but typically AI, it doesn’t sleep. It’s not going to take a glass of red wine on Friday evening. It’s not going to take a mimosa on Sunday morning. Of course, other beverages are available. But when it comes to a set of predefined rules, AI is going to be working faithfully, it’s going to be working consistently and it doesn’t stop. So you’ve got the predefined set of rules, it is going to be working like a machine. And that is something that there’s no human that can actually do that. They can do it maybe for a certain amount of time. But the fact of the matter is humans, we get sick, we double book, we make mistakes, we forget. Ai doesn’t do that. If you put in the predefined set of rules, it’s going to follow those exactly. And then, of course, if you’ve got machine learning there as well, then it has some space. But AI, and for example, ad line, that is optimizing your ad campaign six times every day, Monday through Sunday. It doesn’t take the weekend off. So that’s one thing. But then when it comes to generative AI, the actual generating new ads, then that is short cuts.

[00:19:18.730] – Michael Damnjanovic

That is slightly improving, that’s raising the bar slightly. So you can have your ideas and then you can push in some of your ideas into chatGBT or open AI. And then you can say, Okay, yeah, that’s great. But then also what about this and this? So it’s really a way of raising the bar. But with that said, I think at the moment, AI simplifies and improves, but it’s not perfect yet. So you still very much need the human to be in control of that.

[00:19:42.530] – Joran Hofman

I agree. And for me personally, as in creativity, it takes a lot of time. Where I see AI as well, as you mentioned, you just get a lot of new ideas. You can just give a prompt and then you get, for example, 10 titles back. I always still make changes to it, but at least I didn’t have to think about those 10, which maybe took me half an hour or two hours, and they come up with more creative ideas than I can.

[00:20:02.420] – Michael Damnjanovic

Yeah, absolutely.

[00:20:03.140] – Joran Hofman

Nice. When we go to the next question, as in we’re an affiliate management platform, some companies say we’re not going to run ads if we’re running an affiliate program or vice versa. How do you see the combination between running ads and running an affiliate program at the same time?

[00:20:17.750] – Michael Damnjanovic

I think the big challenge of 2023 and going forward is distribution. It’s getting your company name out there. Of course, there’s a lot of worries and there are some downsides, some negatives, but ultimately the goal is that you want to get customers in. You need that traffic, so you need to have a multi channel strategy. You can’t just be running affiliates. Maybe you can, maybe you disagree with me, but for us, we’ve been running ads and also have our affiliate network going simultaneously. And if anything, I think it complements each other. And I think if there are any downsides, I haven’t personally seen any myself yet, maybe they’re just around the corner, so I’ll let you know. But I think at least if there are any, the positives outweigh those negatives.

[00:20:59.270] – Joran Hofman

I 100 % agree. Because in the end, affiliates are also driving traffic towards the site. And if you retarget that traffic, it’s just going to convert more traffic of the affiliates, which might make them more happy. And then they’re going to.

[00:21:10.300] – Michael Damnjanovic

Drive more traffic. Exactly. The sales that you get via affiliates would not have come in. Maybe they would have, but most likely they would not come in without the help of those affiliates. So it’s a no brainer, really.

[00:21:21.280] – Joran Hofman

Nice. We are coming to the final questions of the podcast. I always like these at the end. So when we talk about running ads, what advice would you give to you have specifically for SaaS founders growing to 10K monthly recurring revenue?

[00:21:34.710] – Michael Damnjanovic

In regards to ads, I think if you’re coming to 10K MRR, then you’re still testing and you’re still finding out what’s working, and therefore you do need to do a lot of testing. I think we were at that stage with pretty much just customers here in Norway, where we’re based, Oslo Norway, and then we started experiment, a testing phase. So we wanted to find out which markets were going to be the next markets for us. I think we started with about 20 different countries, and then very quickly within a month or so, then we found our top five countries. And that was actually at that point, it was the Netherlands. That was actually number one. Sweden, the UK, Australia, funnily enough. And then, of course, the US, because the US is just a giant. My advice is if you do have an international product, then start with that, start with some experimenting. As a side note, what I’ve put here, because obviously, if we’re talking about SaaS, the ultimate goal, I believe for the majority of SaaS companies is that they go viral quicker, sooner rather than later. That’s the dream of ad land. We would love to just go completely viral so that people can be completely self service, no touch, everything’s great.

[00:22:33.790] – Michael Damnjanovic

The reality is that we’re not there yet. We need that sales assist. So my advice is keep that focus on sales. You’re doing sales lead and it is working. Even if you think, okay, we’re getting in a few viral sales, we want to test out more. Okay, do that, but keep that focus on sales lead. Keep those demos coming in, keep that momentum going. And when you start to get that momentum, don’t ease off and start to try to push more to viral. Push it even harder. You’re only going to regret not pushing on that momentum that you get. Because when you do these sales and you get to know your customers, you get to see their needs, you get to see their pains, you’re able to create delight. And it goes back to what I said about knowing your audience, doing that research, me sitting in a meeting on Zoom or Google Meet or whatever it is, that’s our research. That’s our research on people that we want to.

[00:23:17.650] – Joran Hofman

Sell to. Yeah, talk to as many customers as you can, basically, and make sure you do what is working and it doesn’t always have to be scalable. When we go past the 10K monthly recurring revenue, change this question a little bit compared to season one, what advice would you give to somebody who’s going to 10 million annual recurring revenue?

[00:23:35.770] – Michael Damnjanovic

Full disclosure, we don’t work with very many people that have 10 million ARR. I think what I’ve seen with companies that are at that size is that they’re still doing a lot of what they’re doing, but they are allocating more money to testing and experimenting. And that could be then with different channels to find different avenues of growth. I think at this stage, that’s probably the best piece of advice I’ve got for those companies.

[00:23:56.190] – Joran Hofman

Nice. Thanks. One personal question, what if you wish you knew 10 years ago the SaaS founder or is.

[00:24:04.510] – Michael Damnjanovic

It a SaaS leader? Yeah, I think obviously I’ve talked a lot about data now and I stand by what I’ve said. But also I think you need to trust your instinct. Do not settle for less and do not be pushed over by people that maybe think that they know more, but they actually don’t. And they try to manipulate data to push forward a point. I think I’ve learned that the hard way that you can meet individuals that are really convincing, they have such a way of speaking and they’ve got these great ideas, but often tied them to other truths. If you believe something in your core, don’t be won over with sophisticated talk from your gut. If you know that’s not a good idea, then really push and make sure that you follow your instinct. So that’s something that I wish that I knew 10 years ago and that I was stronger on that 10 years ago. That being said, I’ve learned a ton. I’ve learned so much over the last 10 years. It’s embarrassing to look back at yourself. I think everyone that has a bit of self acknowledgement, it’s embarrassing to look back 10 years ago.

[00:24:59.790] – Michael Damnjanovic

But like I say, all those mistakes, they’re learnings and they form who you are today.

[00:25:04.440] – Joran Hofman

Exactly. You need to make mistakes to learn. We’re now trying to at least help people avoid some of them. But in the end, no matter what, you’re going to make mistakes. That’s how you learn. Nice. If people want to get in contact with you, Mike, how can they do that?

[00:25:16.740] – Michael Damnjanovic

What is the best way? I’m very active on LinkedIn. Feel free to connect. I’d love to connect. We’ve got obviously our podcast, which they can follow. I think LinkedIn is probably the best way. Of course, visit adline. Com and read more about us if it’s of interest. I know.

[00:25:29.880] – Joran Hofman

We’re definitely going to check it out once we start running ads. I can let people know how it’s going if they want to know. Thank you very much for coming on the show and sharing your knowledge. Again, if you want to contact Mike, go to LinkedIn, go to adline. Com, or visit his podcast, and we’re definitely going to link everything in the show notes. Thanks again. Thanks.

[00:25:48.430] – Michael Damnjanovic

You’ve been listening to Growing a B2B SaaS. Yooran has been ahead of customer success before founding his own startup. He’s experiencing the same journey as journey you are. We hope you’ve gotten some actionable advice from the show, and we hope you had fun along the way. We know we did. Make sure to like, rate and review the podcast in the meantime. To find out more and to hook up with us on our social media sites, go to www.getreadedus. Com. See you next time on Growing a B2B SaaS. You.

Joran Hofman
Meet the author
Joran Hofman
Back in 2020 I was an affiliate for 80+ SaaS tools and I was generating an average of 30k in organic visits each month with my site. Due to the issues I experienced with the current affiliate management software tools, it never resulted in the passive income I was hoping for. Many clunky affiliate management tools lost me probably more than $20,000+ in affiliate revenue. So I decided to build my own software with a high focus on the affiliates, as in the end, they generate more money for SaaS companies.
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