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Creating a new business on Facebook - Melbourne Vegan Tours

Building a Business on Facebook – An Evolving Case Study

Business: Melbourne Vegan Tours (melbournevegantours.com)
Start date: June, 2018
Product: Walking tours ~$90 and physical product ~$30
Money spent so far: $659
Money made so far: $339

It’s not very often I get to pull the curtain back and go into EVERY detail on what I do for clients when I’m building a Facebook Ad strategy. But, I’ve finally got the opportunity to do just that.

Together with my partner, we’ve started a side project aimed at meeting the demand for the growing Vegan community in one of the most Vegan friendly cities in the world – and our hometown – Melbourne.

Melbourne Vegan Tours will be a project that you get to see evolve and grow (hopefully) over time experiencing riding the highs and lows of starting a business from scratch.

Make no mistake, this is slightly terrifying for me to lay everything out in the public eye and be scrutinised on how I build my strategy and the results I get from it. But, I often have clients that achieve amazing results and due to respecting their privacy I just don’t get a chance to highlight them – so it provides a unique opportunity for us.

Throughout this series I’m going to cover the following:

  1. How I tested and qualified the idea
  2. How I built the Facebook Ads strategy
  3. What other marketing channels I’m focusing on and how they all fit together
  4. What the offer is and how it’s catering to the audience’s needs
  5. What tools I’m using to market the product and track the results
  6. The roadmap – How focusing on one thing at a time is helping us grow
  7. + random thoughts I have along the way

I’ll be documenting the journey on a number of platforms:

  1. The Organik Digital blog
  2. Youtube with recaps, reviews and specific tutorials
  3. Facebook Live with regular updates, no holding back venting, celebrating and everything in between
  4. Instagram – on both @OrganikDigital (check out the stories highlights) and @MelbVeganTours. Follow the hashtag #veganbuildabiz
  5. LinkedIn – the ups and down of personally building a new business
  6. Facebook Messenger (link opens in Messenger) & Email – specific communications to people that opt-in to hear more about the project

A background on the business idea

The association with the word ‘Vegan’ has evolved from the stereotypical hemp wearing hippie with dreadlocks. Don’t get me wrong, they’re still an important part but more people from other communities are getting involved at a rate faster than ever before.

Take me for instance, I’m about as far away from that stereotype as you could get. A business orientated, privileged white male in his early 30’s that surrounds himself with people of a similar ilk. But as communities grow, their message spreads and is fine tuned to connect with new demographics that it never did before. For me, it was the future of my own health and the health of the planet. Even when I first went Vegan over two years ago that has evolved even further to be more heavily focused on animal rights and the scale of factory farming.

When I first went Vegan in 2016, my partner Jess had been Vegetarian for some time before that and had been urging me to try Veganism. I have a part of my brain that always tries to see the entrepreneurial opportunity if I’m going to make a big decision. I’d always wanted to start my own podcast but never had a topic interesting enough, but going Vegan, that’s pretty interesting, right? I created a website and blog overnight and the birth of ‘The Reluctant Vegan’ podcast had begun.

The Reluctant Vegan has had an impact on ours and others lives that we never had expected. Two years on and with over 90,000 downloads, we’ve been overwhelmed by the response. People from all over the world have messaged us on Facebook and Instagram telling us they’ve just binge listened to our podcast. It’s an incredibly humbling experience to think that two people that set out to start a podcast so both their mums could listen to, has now had an impact on people all around the world.

The Reluctant Vegan taught us a number of things

  • That the Vegan community is growing at an enormous rate.
  • That the community is varied and unique in its own right.
  • That people are fascinated in hearing how other people have experience the same things that they have.

It’s the last point that really hit home with us. By no means was our podcast a professional outfit. It was literally Jess and I sitting down in our spare room recording into our phones and having a general discussion on what we’ve gone through recently when we went Vegan. A completely transparent and honest review that clearly resonated with people.

And that’s what lead us to think of the Melbourne Vegan Tours idea. Being able to surround yourself with likeminded people and connect with them both online and in real life is a huge trend for micro-communities of common interests.

Filling a market gap

The idea first came to use when we were searching for things to do such as tours while we were traveling overseas. In places we were visiting like Paris and London there were multiple choices for tours of all types of cuisines. But in our hometown of Melbourne…not so much.

While there were some solo tours on platforms such as Airbnb Experiences and community lead meetup groups, there was nothing formal that had existing partnerships with the growing number of Vegan businesses in Melbourne.

So the natural thing as an entrepreneur looking to make a difference in the world – is to create a solution. And that’s exactly what we did.

1 week later we had a website, I registered the business name and domain before anyone else could and Melbourne Vegan Tours was born…kind of.

Testing the Melbourne Vegan Tours idea

I have a habit of starting ideas without actually wondering if anyone would be interested in them. True story. But the better half of this partnership is very good at keeping my feet on the ground. So before we went all out, we wanted to test the idea.

I took the tactic of setting up some basic Facebook Ads to see if anyone actually clicked on the ad to find out more. I wasn’t necessarily looking for registrations (though that was a bonus) but more to see if the idea resonated.

Put simply. It did.

Here is what I set up:

1. Landing Page with basic email registration for people to hear more once we launch. Here is the link to the landing page.

Coming Soon Landing Page2. Messenger Bot to test registration interest via Messenger.

The flow we set up got people to subscribe to the bot and then the option to leave their email as well. Click here to test the bot and see how it works.

Messenger Bot Flow3. Basic static image Facebook Ad linking to the landing page or the Messenger bot for people to register. Click the image to view the post.

Test Ad Static Image for Melbourne Vegan Tours

The results from testing the idea

Amount spent: $481.82
Email registrations: 79
Messenger registrations: 120
Cost per registration: $2.41

Total link clicks: 882
Cost per click: $0.54

Registration conversion rate: 22.38%

To be honest (I said we’d go into everything didn’t I?), I probably let this ad go on for a bit longer than it should have but overall the results were ok. If I had my time again, I would have only spent about $250 to give me a general idea that yes, the idea is worth doing.

But one added benefit that is often overlooked when you’re doing something like this is 1) The brand awareness, 2) The engagement on the ad.

There were over 700 engagements on some description without even including the link clicks.

The great thing about this, is that I had an engagement custom audience setup to group people that recently interacted with the Facebook page or Instagram account in the past 60 days. So whether they clicked on the link or not, I could still retarget them with an ad once we officially launched.

NB: There is a discrepancy in the link clicks reported in the insights and what is reported in ads manager. Because I updated the link during the campaign, it only recorded the link clicks on this post ID as it created a new post when I made the update.

Annnnddd we’re off.

So with that, the Melbourne Vegan Tours idea started to take shape.

Did we honestly know what we were getting ourselves into? Not really.

More on that in the coming weeks.

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