Social media marketing tips for local business owners

22 Jan

You have a brick and mortar business, but is something missing? You’re chatting up with the locals, hosting events, you’re even posting on Instagram. But you know, you’re missing something. You’re having the case of the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and perhaps the truth is, you’re just not being social enough?

It’s now just a push of a button and a fingertip away from engaging with your ideal customer. Google has now even begun to use the term Mobile Moments in regards to the consumer’s journey across devices. Social media is a 24-hour powerhouse, with users engaged in all hours of the day. There are roughly around 2.1 billion smartphone users.
Mobile Moments

In a recent study, it showed 54% of shoppers are expected to shop in these Mobile Moments (meaning online on their mobile devices). So what can help you target these incredibly tech-savvy consumers? Before we go there, here is a list of how many people are plugged into social media on some of the most popular social media apps, giving you a bird’s eye view of the potential reach that a good social media campaign can have on your business:

Instagram with 300 million + users
WhatsApp with 700 million
Facebook messenger has 600 million users
(All of the above owned by Facebook)

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg

But how will they know you even exist? There are still apps such as the ever-elusive Snap Chat (Which FB tried to buy out at one point), LinkedIn, Twitter, and honestly, the list goes on and on. This can be a bit intimidating if you’re not up to speed with how social media functions and that’s why I put together a list that would help you start off on the right track when it comes to reaching the technologically empowered shopper.

11 Social media marketing tips that can help you connect with your audience & take your small business up a notch.

When it comes to posting on social media remember that it’s not just about captioning off that perfectly captured filtered image, it’s about connection, networking, being socially intelligent and strategic.

1. Brand your Social Media
Stay away from those generic filters. Just because it’s easily available doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with a price. The price of engagement, that is. Branded images allow you to have a distinctive look and appealing brand to those who pop in on your feed. Allowing them to stay a bit longer, convert into a lead and possibly a sale. No one likes murky, dark or blurry vision, why use it on your social feed? A great app to help you edit as easily as pressing a button is the VSCO app which you can download straight to your smartphone. It allows you to make your Instagram pop like it’s never done before. Light and Bright are usually a great starting point.

2. Have a blog
This is something I advise all business owners to have because it allows you to have more online visibility, customer loyalty and set you apart from your competitors. You don’t have to write up a novel, 250 – 350 characters work great. And you don’t have to post every single day! Once a week to every other week is perfectly fine.
How powerful can your blog be?

“Your Google ranking will go up dramatically. Whereas Google and other search engines may take two or three weeks to list your new website in search results, new blog sites and new blog entries are indexed every day. From comments, you will accumulate external links both into and out of your site, and get additional ranking from Google” -via Business Insiders

3. Add Value
Make sure you’re adding content that not only jives with your brand but incorporates value to your readers. Done right a blog curated, branded and socially spread the right way can have you hundreds up-to thousands of visits a month. You can easily set one up through your website hosting provider and if you’re using Squarespace or it is nothing but a phone-call or easy set up away.

4. Use Pinterest
Tailwind is a great app that allows you to schedule posts on Pinterest. Pinterest is like Google with images. It’s a large index of beautiful digital sticky notes that you can’t help but click and read. Pinterest, in a nutshell, is a visual search engine. It’s not just for looking up incredibly tasty Christmas cookie recipes or how to decorate your home for the holidays, it’s a social media beast! Use it wisely my friends.

5. Design your images
Canva – If you’re not already using it you need to. Canva is a graphic designer that you’ve folded up and placed in your back pocket. If you don’t do anything but create pinnable images, it is well worth your time to look into it. Plus canva has a FREE version. With this tool in your back pocket consider making your post pin worthy. Meaning, slap some clickbait on that image!

6. Cross Promote your content
Thank goodness for integration! If cash is King automation in the small business world is Queen. The best way I discovered in cross posting meaning posting one time and it posts just about on every social media channel you are on. Using an app called IFTTT (If This Then That). You can easily cook up recipes that post on Instagram and have your images also showing up on Twitter. Instagram doesn’t play nice with Twitter when it comes to posting images. Instagram also integrates and allows you to post on Facebook and Tumblr, but with IFTTT all you would have to do is share it one time without choosing additional options when posting. Zapier & an FB messenger tool called ManyChat are other apps which allow you to automate and stay connected.

7. Use Strategy
With Facebook constantly changing their algorithms, Instagram no longer being what it once was there is a unique way of posting that can help you drive in more traffic to your business and using Apps such as Social Sprout or Hootsuite that can make your life much easier while your social engagement climb. They allow you to post to your Twitter, Facebook group, Facebook page etc. on a schedule. For Facebook, I recommend scheduling post directly onto Facebook as its algorithms are more in favor of a “genuine” post as opposed to a post, posted from an outside app or bot. While using Twitter, go ahead and schedule out those posts straight from your app. Tailwind (used for Pinterest as stated above) can also point toward your Instagram but I recommend having the traffic drive more towards your website.

8. Using Tags
Hashtags are not just to randomly use in a sentence just to look #cool. Used strategically it can help customers and clients better find you. Make sure to include and use Geotags towards your overall location helping those tech-savvy customers find your business and land on that beautifully curated feed you created, making them want to scroll a bit longer and visit in the future. Don’t have a brick and mortar? Geotag the city you do business from.

9. Giveaways
Allow you to engage with your audience. A great way to truly use the giveaways to your advantage is by asking your audience not just to comment but to tag a friend in order to enter said giveaway. A bonus is hosting giveaways both on your Facebook business page & Instagram Accounts. If you really want to get techy, FB ads are a great way to place new eyes in front of your business. And since you got the branded images, cool looking #hashtag sentences, what prospect wouldn’t you lead towards a very worthy sale. Win-Win.

10. Schedule Posts
In favor of using the latest apps, I recommend building content at least a month in advance, scheduled out around those special moments or promotions you would like your customers or clients to take advantage or be a part of. This allows you to think outside the box, giving you time to be creative and prepare for those amazing turnouts.

11. Be Authentic
People don’t want to connect with a “business”. They want to connect with real people, with a heart and soul behind those beautifully displaying images and perfect captions. Business is about serving people and sometimes the best way to do that is by being authentic & genuine with your audience. By allowing the consumer to get to know a bit more about your brand identity opens up a deeper relationship and brand loyalty with them. An example of this is by posting campaigns that you care about, local events that your business funds or are a part of and why. This can also help build awareness into the heart of your brand because influence in any capacity is powerful.

And a Bonus Tip

Go LIVE – Videos are the new black. Meaning, in the words of Zoolander, Videos are hot right now. If a consumer were to choose between a business that was using video versus the same type of business who wasn’t using video, the consumer would choose the business capitalizing on video visibility hands down. The reason? Brand awareness. There is a deeper connection made with video and a result of higher visibility. In other words, adding a product video on your landing page can increase conversions by 80%. Using tools such as Zoom can help in creating great live videos with just a push of a button.

Alas, if all else fails you can always outsource or hire someone to help you set up your social media the right way for your unique business needs.


3 Basic Social Media Marketing Mistakes to Avoid in 2018

15 Jan

Most companies have social media marketing teams, strategies, and eventual goals. Yet, many don’t understand how these best tie in to existing business goals.

Any company that uses the Internet to drive business will engage in social media marketing. However, many businesses incorporated social media after their businesses reputation and goals were established. This can force a business to reconsider their overall business strategy.

Avoid this in 2018 by dodging these three basic social media marketing mistakes.

1. Social Media Should be a Marketing Focus, not an Add-on

According to Emarketer, almost 90% of U.S. companies are using social media marketing in their business strategies. Despite that, most companies use social media platforms as an add-on to existing marketing strategies. Instead of crafting a strategy for social media marketing in general and for each platform individually, companies often use social media merely as a new medium to spread an existing marketing message.

Many companies then work in reverse to link relevant social strategies to business strategies. This allows them to prove the ROI of the marketing plan with greater clarity.

Nevertheless, a CMO survey shows that nearly half of these businesses’ marketing teams are incapable of detailing the specific returns of their social media marketing investment.

Another way marketers lose focus is by getting trapped in the social-media gratification loop. On a given platform, marketers look to gather large numbers of likes, comments, followers, and shares. These numbers look great during presentations, but what do they actually mean? If you can’t quantify the value of a high number of followers, chances are your social media goals aren’t correlating to specific business goals. In order to understand the ROI of every social media marketing strategy, you have to be sure to connect overarching business strategies to social media marketing strategies from the very beginning.

2. Your Business Needs the Right Tools to Manage and Apply Social Media

Depending on the size and scale of your business, it’s important to create a social media presence across the entire company. These days, each department will need to be aware of social media and its ability to expand the scope of any sector. In order to keep standards across departments, you might even need a dedicated social media management team.

As we’ve included in pretty much every digital marketing post we’ve ever made, you must use a robust analytics platform to gauge, study, and improve your marketing strategies. Google Analytics, for example, can give you web traffic numbers broken down by age and geographical demographics, time of day, conversion statistics, bounce rate, and types of devices used to access your page.

This information gives you the ability to see what’s working and what’s not. It will tell you what domains and social media platforms are bringing you the most intention–a telltale sign of where you need to invest more time and effort.

3. Don’t Just Focus on the top Social Media Platforms

Another common mistake social media marketers make is limiting the brand’s social media real estate to only the most widely used platforms. While having a presence on many social media platforms increases authority, perception of authority, and overall marketing success, only two-thirds of the top companies are using YouTube. The numbers are even lower for fast-growing platforms like Instagram (under 50%). These numbers are from 2016, but from the chart below you can see that not much has changed since then.

Failing to represent your company on every available social media platform could potentially cause you to miss out on business opportunities. Consider this: if your business wants to increase its marketing reach to the Millennial generation, but it’s not using Snapchat, it’s missing the mark.

What social media marketing strategies has your business implemented? Have you ever had to restart a marketing campaign to better understand ROI?

New Year, New Strategy: How To Audit Your Social Media Marketing Campaign

8 Jan

We’re just starting a new year, and for most marketers that means exciting changes and preparing for a successful year of brand promotion and customer interaction on one of the most cost-efficient platforms available to us—social media. There’s no better way to start than to audit and evaluate last year’s efforts, so you can replicate your best strategies, eliminate your worst, and learn from all the experiments you attempted throughout the year.

So what’s the best way to approach this process?

Measure Year Over Year Results

Your first foray into your year-end audit should be a high-level snapshot of how you performed over the previous year. After all, your results—your bottom line—should be the central driving factor in your campaign.

Assuming you had a baseline in 2016, take a look at the following statistics, comparing them against your 2017 results:

  • Follower growth. How many new followers have you gained this year? This is a bit of a vanity metric, but it can still help you track your popularity growth.
  • Click-throughs and traffic. How often do your followers click the links you provide? How much traffic growth is your site seeing?
  • Engagements and mentions. How many conversations are you having with your audience? How involved are they? How often is your brand mentioned by people on social media?
  • Budget. You should also consider how much you spent, one year over the other.

If your growth rates are roughly the same, you know your tactics are on par with the previous year’s; for many marketers, this is a victory, but I consider it a loss. If you aren’t experimenting on a regular basis, you’re depriving yourself of opportunities for near-constant improvement.

If your results are actively better or worse than last year’s, your next job is to isolate the variables responsible for the discrepancy. These are some of the most common:

  • New strategies or tactics. Did you initiate any new strategies, or launch any new tactics? If so, do the changes in your results coincide with the timing of those new strategies? If that’s the case, you can reasonably conclude that these strategies had the positive or negative effect. Look at things like your content quality, your audience targeting, and the type of content you created.
  • Budget and publication frequency. Did you change your budget, or the volume of content you were producing? A dramatic increase or decrease could have a marked effect on how your audience perceives your brand—in either direction.
  • Major brand changes. Though rare, if your brand underwent any significant changes—such as updating your look or targeting a new audience, you should expect some significant changes in your results. You’ll have limited data on the effects of the new direction and the tactics associated with it, but you should be able to discern an initial trend.
  • New competition. Don’t neglect the influence of competition; if you have a new competitor emerge on the scene, or if your existing competitors step up their efforts, your audience might be pulled away from your brand through no fault of your own. This still requires understanding, and a potential change in the future.
  • Support and promotion. What other strategies are you using to support and promote your social channels? For example, do you have a content and/or email campaign to forward new followers to your accounts or provide more content for your ongoing social feeds?

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Once you’ve captured this high-level data, I recommend sorting your high-level strategies into a handful of different categories:

  • Surefire successes. These are changes, tactics, and scenarios that objectively and certainly increased the value of your campaign. Seek to keep them and/or replicate them this year.
  • Near misses. These are strategies that were close to being successful, but missed something important; learn from them, and alter them to get a second chance at success. Make sure they’re not included in your 2018 strategy.
  • Mistakes and losses. Confront the mistakes you made in 2017; did you miss the mark with a certain line of content, or flub an important opportunity? These insights can usually help you avoid damaging strategies and refine your tactics in 2018.
  • Missed opportunities. This is the hardest category to fill, since it requires acknowledging opportunities you may not have known you had. Brainstorm with your team, and try to come up with some new territory to explore in 2018.

Digging Into Specifics

The high-level data should be enough to guide the overall direction of your campaign, but it’s also worth looking at more specific pieces; these tend to be more qualitative analyses, and involve outliers in your dataset, but are useful in helping you learn the strengths and weaknesses of your campaign.

For example, were there any standout posts you had this year, which received more shares and comments than any others? What can you learn from them? Were there any followers who transitioned to becoming brand evangelists? What can you take away from the experience?

Putting It All Together

The real challenge now is taking all this data and making it actionable. You have a clear, high-level understanding of how your social media strategy worked in 2017, so you should be able to use that to chart a better strategy in 2018.

Of course, this is only the first step; you’ll also need to take measurements throughout the year, and be unafraid to make continued changes

7 Social Media Trends That Will Dominate 2018

1 Jan

How do you plan on socializing next year? How do you plan on reaching your target audience, who will be socializing with each other, next year? By default, we underestimate how our lives will change in the future.

We tend to think of next year as ending more or less the same as this year (with the exception of any personal plans you might have). In addition, we tend to underappreciate the progress of technology, at least on a smaller scale.

That’s because our favorite social media apps tend to roll out updates on a nearly constant basis, changing slightly but frequently; just as we don’t notice children getting taller day by day, we don’t always recognize how the social media landscape around us evolves. But it is evolving, constantly, and in 2018, there are going to be a handful of highly important trends dictating how that evolution unfolds.

These are seven of the most important trends I’m predicting will make their presence known in 2018:

1. Augmented reality will finally take off. About five years ago, Google came out with a pair of glasses—Google Glass—that promised to bring augmented reality (AR) to the mainstream and change how we live and interact with each other. It was a flop. But now, multiple companies—including Facebook, Google, and Snap—are competing to enter or re-enter the AR ring. After a handful of highly successful AR apps, rising sales of VR headsets, and greater technological sophistication (including faster internet speeds and better visual rendering), 2018 could finally be the year that AR takes off. If it does, and stays in the mainstream, you can bet that social media will be one of the most popular applications for the technology, bringing people together over vast distances, and providing an entirely new UI for social interactions.

2. Live streaming will continue its explosive rise in popularity. You could make the argument that live streaming dominated 2017; about 80 percent of consumers would rather watch a live video from a brand than read a blog, and 82 percent would prefer live video to written social media updates. Live streaming statistics exploded in 2017, thanks in part to all the social platforms and other companies supporting the format. But 2018 will be an even bigger year, now that both audiences and brands have settled into the format. This is no longer a cool new way to interact with audiences—it’s an expectation for your brand.

3. Privacy and open source will take precedence. The use of social media requires the forfeiture of certain types of privacy. Though Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms have attempted to crack down on users abusing the system, and are trying to keep customers informed about their privacy rights, some users are still hungry for an app that won’t sell their information to advertisers. I think in 2018, we’ll see an increase in the number and popularity of apps that keep user privacy as a top priority, or offer open-source APIs to make users feel more comfortable with using them.

4. Gamification will extend to social media apps. Users love to interact with each other, but they also love game-like experiences—and because many companies have generated significant revenue from microtransactions and immersive gaming experiences, it’s only a matter of time before we see an app that tries to blend social media and gaming more organically. Time will tell what kind of app could result from this hybridization, but it’s likely going to make a significant impact in 2018.

5. Ad growth will accelerate. Early in their development, social media platforms made building a user base their highest priority. Now that they’re more firmly established and have proven their long-term viability, their biggest concern has shifted to revenue. Most major social media brands have already started shifting their focus toward building more advertising, but 2018 will see an even bigger shift in that direction.

6. Brand fatigue will force changes to the current social media formula. In 2017, there were more than 50 million small businesses using social media pages to interact with their customers. Social media is incredibly popular for a reason, but that increased volume of businesses is also leading to an increased presence of brand-written content. This is already leading to some signs of brand fatigue, making consumers less likely to engage with sponsored or branded content than content from independent sources. That’s going to put more pressure on brands to make better, more independently verifiable sources.

7. Local and personal experiences will sharply increase in popularity. Partially as an extension of the brand fatigue, 2018 will be a year for more local and personal experiences. With Google putting a higher emphasis on search results for local companies, and online consumers wanting more local, interpersonal interactions, I expect to see an increase in the number of local business owners reaching out to individuals, and doing more to engage with their respective communities. This is going to be a benefit for both entrepreneurs and consumers, as well as the communities in which they reside.

Are these trends going to completely change how brands and consumers use social media? I doubt it, but we’re in for one interesting year. If you want to remain competitive in the world of social media marketing, and prevent your competitors from getting ahead of you, stay tuned to the latest changes, and don’t hesitate to update your brand strategy to fit new trends, expectations, and opportunities.

The more modern your campaign is, the better chances you’ll have at connecting with your audience, and differentiating yourself from the crowd.

Five Things Pro Facebook Marketers Do Differently

18 Dec

With over 2 billion Facebook monthly users as of September 2017, it’s no wonder the Facebook Ads platform is becoming a staple of every marketer’s social media strategy. Facebook is the world’s most popular social media platform, and ad spend on its network is booming. Instagram ad revenue alone is expected to exceed that of Google this year, with an estimated $2.81 billion spent by Instagram advertisers worldwide.

Although advertising on Facebook may seem like one of the most immediate ways to achieve impact at a low cost, many marketers aren’t seeing the success they’re hoping for when they start experimenting with Facebook. Typically one of two scenarios happens with new Facebook advertisers:

  1. They see low cost-per-click (CPC), but none of these clicks lead to purchases or conversions.
  2. Their CPC ends up being too high.

What gives?

The best Facebook advertisers understand social ≠ search

The key differences between a social media platform such as Facebook and a search engine like Google are what leaves most new Facebook marketers frustrated: They run their Facebook ads similar to how they manage Google AdWords. And they shouldn’t.

With Google, your prospects are searching for you. They know what they need, and they’re actively interested in what you’re offering. With Facebook, users are simply browsing and socializing, and you’re competing with loads of unrelated content. You need ads that are eye-catching and engaging, and ads that drive real value for your potential leads.

How can you achieve that? Let’s walk through each of the five things elite Facebook advertisers do differently that you can adopt to elevate your social media marketing.

1. They carefully choose where their ads appear

Facebook currently offers three major ad placements:

  1. Desktop News Feed
  2. Desktop Right Column
  3. Mobile News Feed

Although other ad placements are available, such as within Groups, those three are the most commonly used. Master their pros and cons with the following tips, and you’ll immediately begin deploying your ads more strategically:

  • Desktop News Feed tends to be the first go-to option for most marketers, and the priority placement can get you a great conversion rate. The problem is that this Facebook ad placement is both competitive and expensive.
  • Desktop Right Column ads tend to take a backseat to News Feed ads because they’re so out of sight, and many marketers don’t optimize for the location, and that can lead to overspend. The Desktop Right Column is great for retargeting, but not initial engagement.
  • Mobile News Feed gives you the most bang for your buck on Facebook, and I highly recommend testing out mobile placements. Just as with other ad platforms, the shift from desktop to mobile is aggressively increasing. According to Statista, in 2016 about 97% of Facebook’s ad revenue came from mobile advertising. Roughly 1.15 billion daily user access the social network on mobile—a huge audience to use your spend on. Plus, brand discovery and initial engagement can often be had for much cheaper on mobile, so it’s definitely in every marketer’s favor to use mobile ads.

2. They carefully choose who sees their ads

Pro Facebook marketers know that campaigns succeed or fail because of audience targeting. In the world of Facebook Ad optimization, it’s critical to know that choosing the right audience is more important than ad creative.

Facebook provides extremely useful advanced targeting options. Master the following three ways to define your audience inside of Facebook Ads Manager, and you’ll start to see why it can make or break your efforts:

  1. Core Audiences: Select your audience manually based on characteristics, such as age, location, interests, and behaviors.
  2. Custom Audiences: Facebook gives you the ability to securely upload a contact list of people you would like to reach. Although there are several data categories you can upload to create these audiences, the most common are email addresses and phone numbers. (Many of the 70,000+ businesses using CallRail for call tracking have had great success with Facebook retargeting by simply uploading their call log to create a custom audience based on caller IDs.)
  3. Lookalike Audiences: Find people who are similar to your current customer base by building a lookalike audience based on your custom audience.

When choosing your audience, it’s critical to keep in mind the ultimate conversion you’re aiming for with your campaign. Deciding which audience to use depends on your advertising goal, and whom you’re looking to speak to:

  • For new leads, core audiences and lookalike audiences will be your best friend. These detailed targeting methods can help you bring in new sales from customers that match your current user base. Be sure to exclude a custom audience created from your current customers so you aren’t using up precious ad spend on people who have already converted.
  • For current customer upsells or feature activation, uploading your customer list and creating a custom audience is ideal.
  • For retargeting campaigns, I recommend looking into adding the Facebook Pixel to your website or application so you can create a custom audience based on people who have already expressed an interest in your business. You can also upload existing leads in your database as a custom audience.

Defining a clear audience for each Facebook campaign or ad set ensures you aren’t wasting your marketing budget on the wrong types of targeting, and help you maximize your ad reach, and conversions.

3. They carefully choose their Ads’ call to action

Your Facebook ad is only as good as its CTA and the user experience that follows. It’s important to plan out not only whom you’re targeting and where,but also how you plan to get them to convert. Every ad you run on Facebook should have a clear CTA, focused on the action you want users to take.

First you will want to decide your marketing objective, then based on that decide what the appropriate CTA is for your campaign or ad set.

Clicks to Website or Website Conversions

With these CTAs, the most important consideration is optimizing the landing page you’re sending customers to. If you’re running a mobile ad, be sure your landing page is tailored for a mobile experience. According to a study from Google, people who have a negative experience with brands on mobile are 62% less likely to purchase from that brand in the future.

‘Call Now’ Buttons

Because so many Facebook users are already on mobile, phone-call CTAs are a great way to drive sales from your social marketing ad spend. Available via Local Awareness Ads, this button allows customers to call you right from the ad within their Facebook News Feed. (Learn more about how to drive more call conversions from Facebook Ads here.)

‘Send Message’ CTA

The new “Send Message” CTA for Local Awareness Ads allows people to initiate private conversations with business Pages from News Feed ads. It gives people a personal way to connect with your business, and it’s convenient for the customer. Just be sure you’re prepared to respond to customers inquiries if you do use this conversion method.

4. They carefully choose how to differentiate their ads

Now that we know who, where, and how the most successful social media marketers set up campaigns on Facebook Ads Manager, it’s time to decide the best way to drive engagement with content from Facebook. Competition is high on the Facebook platform, so it’s crucial your ads rise above the noise.

Facebook ran a study recently on the top- and bottom-performing campaigns on its platform, and this is what it found:

  • For businesses promoting online conversions, the best thing to focus on is your product itself with a clear directive. That means displaying your popular products in the creative, and citing your brand in the copy. Facebook found that if marketers did this well, all other elements were irrelevant to the overall quality score of the ad.
  • Another successful approach was a strong focus on brand. That means linking your ad creative and copy to your brand’s personality by doing things like showcasing your company’s founder or values.

Bottom Line: Rather than showcasing your logos in Facebook ads, spend time creating product-focused images or graphics that help demonstrate your brand’s approachability and accessibility.

Another important ad tip to master in Facebook campaigns is ad frequency. A well-rounded campaign features multiple ads that all contain relevant messaging and effective creative that can be continually rotated to prevent ad fatigue.

The more people see your same ad, the more bored they get. And even worse, the CPC will increase significantly. One way to combat that is to set up an ad campaign with multiple ad sets with different ads, and schedule each ad set to be active on a different day. By doing so, you’ll combat ad fatigue and keep costs per ad low.

5. They continually test and update their ads

As with so many marketing efforts, A/B-testing is your key to success with Facebook ads. Pro Facebook advertisers take this advice to heart and incorporate it into their workflow.

Whether you’re new to Facebook ads or a veteran advertiser, it’s hard to predict the kind of ad designs that work best for your product or which audience will be more likely to buy. That’s why ad experiments with elements such as ad creative, offers, and target audience are used by the best of the best.

If you’re just starting out, my recommendation is to A/B-test macro elements—such as which larger message appeals to which audience—versus micro elements, like CTA copy. Doing that can get you off on the right foot and headed in a good direction. Outside of the Facebook ads themselves, it’s also best to test the landing pages you’re driving ad viewers to.

Then, it’s time to consider A/B-testing more specific elements of your ads, such as images, headlines, and main copies. AdEspresso studied data from over $3 million worth of Facebook ads and found the following elements to have the highest split-testing ROI:

  • Audience by country
  • Audience by precise interest
  • Facebook ad goals
  • Mobile vs. desktop
  • Audience by age ranges
  • Audience by gender
  • Ad designs
  • Titles
  • Audience by relationship status
  • Landing page

The opportunities for Facebook ad testing are limitless, so these tests can sometimes be cumbersome, but the payoff is great. You’ll be able to uncover your most compelling value offer and learn heaps about your audience.

Are you ready to start marketing like a Facebook pro?

Knowledge of Facebook marketing is a great asset to have in any marketer’s toolkit. As the world’s most popular social media platform, Facebook is only going to continue to grow—and the more you know now, the better off you’ll be in the future.

These tips will help you keep your Facebook advertising strategy well-considered and fresh, as you continue to experiment with different audiences, ad types, and creative.

Use these tips and you’ll start thinking and acting like a pro, improve your Facebook ad efforts, and watch as your cost per lead decreases and your conversion rate increases.

Taking Social Media Marketing to the Next Level

11 Dec

Social media is so ingrained in today’s culture that we forget Facebook is already a teenager, while Snapchat has just graduated preschool. Other social media — including LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and WhatsApp — have joined them to gain an impressive user base. In the second quarter of 2017 alone, 110 million people started using social media for the first time, increasing total users to 2.9 billion globally.

Beyond their initial role as vehicles for communication and social expression, however, each social media application has also become a revenue-producing engine. And marketers have been eager to pay for access to a social media audience that is not only growing quickly, but is enriched with data that enables targeting around individuals’ likes and dislikes, demography, affinities, buying behaviors and much more.

Even setting audience growth aside, Facebook could be considered the greatest data management platform ever built, because its users self-declare demographic and psychographic information on a daily basis. Every Facebook “like” and “follow” represents extremely powerful third-party data for brands to harness.

The impact of social media on top line sales is undeniable. A recent study shows that social media is now the primary driver of all website referral traffic. U.S. social commerce sales — purchases made directly from social media posts — grew from $3 billion in 2012 to $14 billion in 2015. The most up-to-date marketers are riding the wave, spending $31 billion on social media ads in 2016 — nearly double what they spent just two years ago. And while Facebook continues to dominate the space, all social media platforms are advancing monetization strategies around their expansive user bases.

Most marketing executives have been scratching their heads as to how to take social media to the next level and show a measurable return on investment in it. Indeed, only 16.3% of CMOs report having the ability to quantitatively show the impact of social media on their business; in a seeming contradiction, they expect to expand social media spend by 89% in the next five years.

We’re now at that Holy Grail point where with social media, marketers can gain a measure of offline return on ad spend by taking sales data and matching it within Facebook to determine whether a product was purchased by someone who had seen an ad. And where POS data isn’t available, geo-based targeting and tracking is an alternative optimization strategy. This scenario drives people toward in-store coupons pages, for example using geo-fencing to measure “directions to the store” page visits.

We’d like to share some additional ways marketers can optimize their return on the investment they make in social media.

An important recent innovation in marketers’ use of social media has been the ability to allow first-party data to be easily and inexpensively ingested in multiple ways. Examples of this capability include Facebook’s Custom Audiences, Twitter’s Tailored Audiences, and Snapchat’s Snap Audience Match. It is possible to align campaign objectives by audience within these platforms, either by using offer ads to reintroduce a brand to audiences who have not made a purchase in the last 6 to 12 months, or by introducing new products and increasing purchase frequency with dynamic product ads. Targeting has thus reached a level of granularity that is producing better results for every dollar spent.

A logical next step for marketers using social media for targeting is lookalike audiences — that is, prospects that have many similar attributes to your top customers. Lookalike targeting isn’t a new concept — all platforms have their own methods of reaching “similar audiences” — but none of them seems to have extrapolated to having insights about the modeling and what is behind it. Rather than relying on one platform, marketers might consider leveraging a social ad-tech solution such as 4C Insights.

There are two reasons why this is a good idea. First, there is no certainty that first-party audiences will match demographically with lookalike audiences, since factors such as age, gender and location may be equally weighted among likes and interests within the algorithms. Second, and more obviously, the platforms will sometimes inflate the cost-per-impressions on their lookalike audiences.

Brands need to make sure that they have the Facebook pixel installed on their website — something that may seem obvious, but in fact many sites don’t have this tracking code properly integrated. Facebook’s remarketing pixel can help target all site visitors for up to 180 days at a granular level, giving brands a leg up in their targeting efforts.

Even with today’s data-driven approach to marketing, many brands are still using outmoded performance measures such as shares and likes, which do not translate into return on investment. Now there are ways to report on actual business goals achieved through social ad spend — typically sales and/or in-store visitors. Measuring offline conversions within the social media platforms is relatively straightforward as long as analytics and tracking have been properly implemented and maintained.

As mentioned above, Facebook and other platforms now allow marketers to connect offline transactions and events to their digital media efforts, providing a more objective measure of offline return on ad spend.

The importance and evolution of the social media platforms is nearly unparalleled in digital marketing. Until very recent years, businesses used social networks only to communicate to audiences that already knew them, or that may have been liked or shared by that audience. With this new ability to ingest first-party data for targeting and measurement, brands can now reach current customers, and find new ones, more often. This, combined with the fact that social media is driving more direct sales, makes it almost a certainty that the power of social platforms will only continue to increase and multiply.

Holiday Marketing Ideas That Won’t Break the Bank

27 Nov

For small businesses, finding new and thrifty ways to stand out during the holiday season can be a little daunting. Competing with the deep discounts and expensive ad campaigns of big-box retailers and large companies may make you feel like you’ve been left with coal in your stocking.

But for businesses willing to think outside the box and do a little legwork, there are tons of creative ways to increase sales, enhance your brand and improve your image in the community without breaking the bank. Here are 10 low-cost marketing tactics you can use to spread holiday cheer while ramping up your sales.

Deck the halls and invite customers, vendors or other business partners to a festive open house at your business. Use this gathering to showcase seasonal merchandise, promote your services, offer discounts or simply say thanks for another year of patronage. Even inexpensive touches, such as offering a mug of hot cocoa and cookies while playing holiday music in the background, can foster goodwill toward your business.

Your most faithful customers are also your best brand ambassadors. To show them your appreciation, you can provide special offers, free shipping, sneak previews of new or seasonal products, or secret sales. By offering certain deals exclusively to your VIP customers, you make them feel special and uniquely connected to your business. This, in turn, may lead to referrals and additional business.

Update your website, email and social media profiles with a festive holiday theme. Then, drive traffic to your site by offering deals and advertising events exclusively to your social media fans. You can also host holiday-themed contests on Twitter and Facebook, or come up with a unique hashtag to engage your customers. Holding themed events such as a “12 days of Christmas” sale allows you to feature a product or service for a limited time, and also creates buzz around your brand.

You can also build a rapport with customers by encouraging user-generated content in a variety of ways, such as requesting customers’ favorite seasonal recipes, asking them to share tips for staying sane during the holidays, or inviting them to post photos of themselves using your product.

In the spirit of the season, consider joining forces with like-minded businesses in your area whose products and services complement your own. You can promote each other’s establishments by offering bundled deals or cross-selling each other’s products. Ideally, you should partner with businesses that attract a similar customer base but are not direct competitors. For example, an art gallery and framer may offer customers a special discount to each other’s businesses, or a wine shop and BYOB restaurant can provide customers with discount cards to each other’s establishments. These strategic partnerships, which can be adapted for online businesses as well, help you market your business with limited effort.

The holiday season is the perfect time to strengthen your community bonds by supporting a nonprofit whose mission and values align with your own – even on a limited budget. Contact a community organization you respect and find out what your business can do to help. You may decide to donate a percentage of your holiday sales to the charity, organize a drive, mobilize your employees to participate in a day of service at its facility, or provide it with equipment, space or pro bono services.

Publicizing that your business offers gift cards may not seem exhilarating, but don’t overlook their value. Most businesses can cheaply and simply provide gift cards, gift certificates and e-certificates to the legions of shopping procrastinators looking for convenient gift options. If you are worried that gift certificates may not seem exciting enough to draw in customers, remember that they’ve remained the most popular items on wish lists for 11 years in a row, according to a recent survey.

While gift card recipients don’t always get around to redeeming their certificates, others end up spending more than the value of the card. Either way, your business ends up on top with very little initial overhead.

There seems to be a holiday gift guide for just about every category or potential occasion – everything from “best gifts for under $20” to “10 items that will simplify your life in the New Year.” If you have products or services that make great gifts, get them in front of editors, bloggers or anyone else with the power to feature your items in one of the many holiday gift guides available to shoppers. If you lack industry contacts, you can always create your own gift lists and feature them on your website and social media outlets.

One simple way to stand out during the holidays is to make sure your brand is always front and center in any setting. For example, wear a tie, scarf or other apparel that has your business logo on it when you attend holiday parties. Similarly, you can add your logo to any holiday baskets or other goodies you may give away to customers or send to vendors.

If you send out holiday cards, make sure they highlight some aspect of your business or feature your staff.  You can even organize a card-writing party with your colleagues so you can include handwritten messages to each of the recipients.

Craft shows and product exhibitions abound this time of year. Rent a booth at one of these shows and get to work creating brand awareness. You can sell your goods or services, give away samples, play games, or offer workshops and demonstrations on topics related to your area of expertise.

Started in 2010 by American Express, Small Business Saturday, which is held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, aims to promote small businesses and encourage people to shop locally. In 2016, 112 million people shopped in their communities and generated an estimated $15.4 billion in business, according to a survey commissioned by American Express. Proactive small businesses can tap into the outreach potential of this movement.

You can reach out to event organizers to solicit advice on how best to recruit customers and make sure your business is included in any promotional materials for the day. Additionally, you can take a leading role in their effort by joining forces with other businesses, trade groups, business associations and your municipality to help plan and promote this event in the broader community.