Retailers: The Top 10 Digital Strategies for Store Visits & Sales in 2020

Are you a retail store owner, manager or marketer?

As you know, retail can be very challenging right now, because you’re competing against:

  • Big Box money, scale and technology in the bricks and mortar world
  • Ecommerce convenience, pricing, ubiquity, data and ad budgets from Amazon, Walmart, Bed Bath and Beyond, Wayfair and others.

I’ve spoken to thousands of franchisees and independent retail store owners over the last several years. In preparing for those keynotes and trainings, I’ve personally met to discuss their problems and solutions with them.

Here are some of the solutions that have worked for them, and we’ll cover each one:

  1. Drive more store visits with Google’s “My Business”
  2. Drive more store visits with Facebook
  3. Drive more store visits with Twitter.
  4. Leverage influencers to find new enthusiastic buyers.
  5. Humanize your store with video content.
  6. Stay top-of-mind with shoppers via Retargeting Ads.
  7. Drive more store visits with retail strategies.
  8. Increase sales and profits per square foot.
  9. Get more sales from your Shopify or other ecommerce store.
  10. Increase sales and profits by selling on Amazon.

Here we go!

Drive more store visits with Google’s “My Business”

There are two major marketing methods online: search and social.

Search strategies on Google and Bing attract customers who are already looking for you, or for what you sell.

Your first job is to make sure you get your free listing on Google My Business. Then you’ll show up on those local map searches with accurate business info, phone number, store hours and website.

  • Google searches with “near me” have grown 2.4X year-over-year (Google).
  • 50% of consumers who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a store within a day (Google).
  • One in three shoppers has purchased from a company or brand other than the one he or she intended to because of information received in the moment (Google).
  • Google Maps has a market reach of more than 90% amongst Android users worldwide (Statista).
  • Mobile searches for ‘where to buy’ have grown 85 % since 2015 (Geo Marketing).

Be careful and make sure you monitor your listing. Over the years, I’ve seen competitors steal people’s local listings, so you need to be aware of how you’re showing up for local searches and get control of your listing.

These days, people look at store listings for hours and they can even tell (because of the data constantly being collected about consumers by their phones and Internet activity) which hours your store is most and least busy.

Here is more about:

You may also want to consider a paid service that will help you manage your local presence on multiple sites. Such services include Brandify and Synup.

Drive more store visits with Facebook.

Social advertising options like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others help you interrupt the right potential customers and tell them why they should come in.

This is a huge opportunity, because after you nail down all your “search-related” strategies on Google and Bing, you have now maxed out on the people already looking for you.

How do you attract more people who don’t even know to look for you?

Interrupting the right potential buyer is the key to social media marketing.

Of course, you want to interrupt them in a relevant and pleasing way, so that they’re happy you told them. Being annoying, insensitive or boring won’t work.

What makes social advertising platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn so powerful is their targeting abilities. You can target people by demographics, interests and even buying habits. You can’t get the right people to come into your store if you never reach them.

Without ads, people don’t get any results from Facebook, because they don’t reach anybody.

A really basic thing to do with your social media- which many people neglect- is just to check how many people it’s reaching.

It doesn’t matter how many fans you have- it matters how many people see your posts and ads. Check the numbers. Without ads, they’re too low.

You need to reach thousands of people just to get hundreds of visitors. That’s how the math works. You have to advertise to get bottom-line results with social media.

One thing you’ll like about Facebook ads, if you’ve already advertised on Google or Bing, is that Facebook can be much more affordable.

And we’ll talk about retargeting separately, which is super powerful for staying in front of your future and past buyers.

Drive more store visits with Twitter.

Twitter is a different animal for retail, because Twitter is nichier than Facebook, for example. Twitter’s users tend to be smarter, geekier bookworms with more money. They’re more likely to be readers than TV viewers. A lot of news and sports outlets use Twitter, so there are definitely some mainstream users, but there are many more mainstream TV viewers and Facebook users who will tell you they “don’t get Twitter.” However, if you’re a tech or computer parts retailer, for example, Twitter could be a great option for your store.

Still, Facebook has six times as many users as Twitter, and people spend 35 minutes a day on Facebook and 15 minutes a day on Instagram, but only 2 minutes a day on Twitter.

To be effective doing retail marketing on Twitter, you have to

  • TARGET: Reach the right potential shoppers on Twitter. For that you need targeting and relevant messaging. Targeting only comes with advertising.
  • ADVERTISING: If you don’t have a lot of Twitter followers, you should use Twitter ads- and even if you do have thousands of followers, Twitter ads can help you target your exact customers, whether that’s geographically, or by their interests, or by whether they’ve visited your website before. Without ads, you may not reach enough people to make much difference, especially if you want to reach a lot of people at once before or during a sale event. Plan to spend $500 or more on Twitter ads during the days of your sale- and do the same with Facebook ads, and this will spike any TV or other media you’re already planning.
  • ADAPT: Make sure you’ve adapted your campaign to the segment of your customers that’s on Twitter, and be quick and get straight to the point. Tweets are short, and people only spend about 2 minutes a day on Twitter on average.

Leverage influencers to find new enthusiastic buyers.

There are bloggers, YouTubers and other social media influencers out there who already have big influence with audiences of people that include your future customers.

Brendan Bauer of Grand Fusion Housewares told me how lucky he was to have found an influencer that has boosted their sales. This blogger had access to 40,000 of his potential customers. They simply donated a product (12 of the same product) as a giveaway and paid the blogger $150, and their Amazon sales went crazy.

If an influencer links to your website, this can help your Google and Bing search rankings.

You can use search tools to find influencers, or use a website like Tomoson that has an influencer marketplace of over 100,000 influencers.

Humanize your store with video content.

If you create video of the inside of your store, you eliminate some of the unknowns that may keep people from visiting.

They’re thinking:

  • What is this store?
  • Will I like it?
  • Are the prices good?

If you’re an unknown, independent store, one of the biggest obstacles you have is that people know what to expect when they go into a chain store.

They don’t know what to expect from you.

If you create appealing videos of your entrance, displays, employees, you can create familiarity and likability that lead to more store visits.

This a huge opportunity most stores fail to act on. Or they create videos that are unappealing. The videos aren’t good enough to have an effect. Or no one sees the videos, because they have no social reach and they fail to advertise.

I get it- video isn’t easy for a lot of people. If you don’t have video talent or skills in your business, and if you don’t set the mood right and get people involved, you won’t be able to pull it off.

So you can either hire someone, or you can learn.

Regardless, you may have to make a mental shift: this is all about connecting with shoppers’ emotions, and it’s not just about the latest sale.

YouTube is so popular now, that many people expect you to be able to put your store manager and salespeople onto video, and see happy, interesting people. Your people are an asset, but if you can’t get that across in video, you may not be as competitive.

Don’t worry about live video. It is rarely useful and helpful. Most people only watch about 15 seconds OR LESS of any video on Facebook. People watch longer videos on YouTube, but they’re not live videos.

Just create good 15 – 60 second videos.

Create at least one video a week.

If you can’t do that, you may need to hire someone to do it for you or to help you get into the swing of things.

Stay top-of-mind with shoppers via Retargeting Ads.

Most people don’t buy the first time they hear about you. Sometimes they don’t even buy the first time they visit your retail store.

Even if you get people’s emails, 80% of people don’t open business emails!

Most ecommerce conversion rates are so low, that 99% of people don’t buy when they visit the online store.

How are you going to stay in front of those people if they’re not buying and not opening emails?

And if you don’t stay in front of them, they might forget about you. People are busy, distracted and have powerful “forgetters.”

Retargeting ads keep you in front of potential buyers so they don’t forget about you and you can continue to market to them with new messages until they’re ready to buy.

Using just Facebook and Google ads, we can stay in front of people who’ve given you their emails, visited your website, interacted with social posts or even watched your videos.

Because of the size of their ad networks, with retargeting, you can show up to these people on Facebook, Instagram, Google, YouTube, thousands of other websites, and even in thousands of smartphone apps.

Retargeting is a best practice.

You should be running it with the Facebook and Google ad platforms at the very least, and it will achieve all of that, and usually with a relatively small ad budget.

Drive more store visits with retail strategies.

You have to give customers a reason to come into your store.

Why shouldn’t they just buy from Amazon, eBay or some other Internet retailer?

Retail strategies that work have changed.

Here are some ideas that work:

  • Limited time sales, like Memorial Day, are one of the first things we think of. Don’t neglect them. But they aren’t the only way.
  • Discounts.
  • Contests.
  • Events- are there are other nearby stores you can partner with who might help? What if you teamed up with a local microbrewery to create a community meet-and-greet?
  • Creating content like videos answering common questions to help people get to know you and your store.
  • Improving signage and window displays.
  • Making shoppers feel welcome. Do something interesting at the entrance: for example, a welcome mat, balloons or a human greeter.
  • Putting signs in your parking lots, on roadways and sandwich signs out front.
  • Impressing shoppers with better landscaping.
  • Offering free smartphone charging stations.
  • Offering free wifi.
  • Setting up areas where shoppers can sit down and relax when tired.

Which of these strategies haven’t you tried yet?

Do something new!

Increase your sales-per-square-foot.

Are you meeting or exceeding the average of $325 per square foot?

How do these brands get such high sales per square foot?

First, make sure shoppers stay in your store long enough to buy!

Here is your biggest vulnerability in bricks and mortar: consumers can easily walk out and just buy it online.

Are your prices competitive with Amazon, Walmart, Wayfair, or the big ecomm site in your niche?

Shoppers can get on their smartphone while in your store and find the reviews for the product and the price from a competitor.

Eighty-two percent of shoppers say they consult their phones on purchases they’re about to make in a store (Google).

This was a problem even for Home Depot until they started putting signs next to their products with info about their website to cue you to go online and look for reviews on homedepot.com… not on Amazon.com.

Dana Hunt of Masterpiece Lighting in Atlanta told me his solution… Before becoming a lighting retailer with Lighting One, Dana had an IT background, which he decided to apply to his new business. He put a QR code on every tag of every product in his showroom. Any customer in his store can connect to his store wifi using their email address (which can be a smart way to build a customer list, if you ask for an opt-in, so that you can continue to market to them!), then find out about size, cost, in-stock info, and price comparisons on Google. This is the kind of info you want to supply your customer with if you want to ensure they buy from your store. Customers are savvy and connected these days, and if you ignore that fact, you will lose business.

If you give customers the info they need to confidently buy from you, you will increase your sales per square foot. But if you continue to operate your store like it’s 1995, you will go out of business.

More great ways to increase sales per square foot include:

  • Improving your store layout, end-caps, orderliness and appeal. Also, consider moving sale items and other high demand items toward the back of the store to increase the number of products shoppers see. This definitely increases sales.
  • Optimize your product assortment. Remove products that don’t sell and try new ones. Keep good data on everything so it’s easy for you to analyze this frequently.
  • Monitor your salespeople’s successes and failures, ask customers about their experience with sales associates in the store (Do customers need more help? What kind? Or do they think your salespeople are too aggressive?) and invest in sales training. Even if you’re only investing time in your sales training, make sure you meet with your sales associates monthly- or at least quarterly- to discuss methods and success rates.
  • Test your pricing: higher or lower, ending in a 9 or a 5. What gets more sales for your store?
  • Cross-sell. Put related items next to each other. Consider creating displays that combine products and help the shopper realize why they need more than one thing.
  • Create a loyalty program.
  • Offer more payment options and terms.

Just implementing one of the seven suggestions in this tip could help boost your sales per square foot.

See how many of these areas you can improve this quarter.

Most retailers know that they have limited space, so they need to maximize their profit per square foot.

You won’t win if you’re using up display space on bulky, low-profit items. You might be tempted to boost the price to make up for it, and consumers will just go find better deals online, and your inventory won’t move.

So, if you’re selling with your own online store or on sites like Amazon, reserve your bulkier, low profit-per-square-foot items for ecommerce. Your storage costs will be a lot lower than retail store rent, so this boosts your profitability.

If you’re not selling online already, you need to seriously consider doing it.

Other ideas include:

  • Ship goods to customers from your store (and manage returns there, as well).
  • Allow pick-ups of online orders.
  • Get a platform or system so that your analytics don’t just show you sales or profits, but correlate it with your current display set-up square footage.
  • Instead of stocking many of the same item in your retail store, make your retail store a showcase so you can show a larger number of different items. Actual delivery comes from your warehouse.

Get more sales from your Shopify or other ecommerce store.

Both in our agency work (directly for retailers) and in my keynote speaking to retail associations (interviewing and speaking with retailers from the audiences), we see some common patterns with their ecommerce websites.

What was initially astounding to me was that:

Most retailers say their own ecommerce website doesn’t do much sales volume and is not a big priority for them.

Many retailers get more sales volume from their bricks and mortar stores or selling through sites like Amazon, Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond.

Amazon is obviously the 500-pound gorilla and many have been forced to join ’em because they can’t beat ’em. Traditional B&M retailers struggle to adapt to what’s necessary to win with their own ecommerce websites.

When you compare your ecommerce site to what you can do selling through Amazon, you’re forced to ask yourself if you can create the level of usability, if you can get enough user data to customize and if you can achieve the conversion rates that Amazon product pages get.

What I hear from retailers is that they can get 12% – 22% conversion rates on Amazon. With Shopify, you’re a rock star if you get a 5% conversion rate, and many struggle to get to 2%. That means your cost per sale is 4-6x higher with a Shopify site than as an Amazon seller.

If you are profiting a lot more doing it yourself, or you can get a higher conversion rate, then investing more into your own ecommerce site makes sense. And even if you don’t do most of your ecommerce volume through your own site, you can still use it as an opportunity to brand yourself and sell to people who can’t or won’t use Amazon and other retailers.

If you want to succeed with your own ecommerce website, you need:

  • To invest in design, usability, copywriting, analysis and optimization. If you don’t have copywriting training, hire someone to write good product text.
  • Get professional photos- they’ll make or break your conversion rate, which makes or breaks your profits.
  • Constantly look at your numbers for places you can improve and try new images and product text. It’s not fire and forget. It’s constantly improve.
  • You need an analyst with a passion for driving better results
  • You need writers and photographers who will get you better and better creative over time, based on what you’re learning from your analytics.
  • If you run ads to your ecommerce website, you need to make sure you’ve properly installed your ad platform pixels. These not only help you measure, but in some cases like Facebook and Google Ads, help the platform itself optimize your targeting for bigger profits. Without these pixels, your ads will cost too much and you may not profit. If your platform doesn’t allow you to place a Facebook pixel, then your vendor is out-of-date and you should switch platforms.

That’s all… and isn’t that enough?

Get to work!

Increase sales and profits by selling on Amazon.

Over 55% of all product searches begin on Amazon. If you aren’t leveraging Amazon, you’re cutting your potential ecommerce sales in half, at least.

Amazon selling is a huge topic, so I’ll just cover the high points.

Whether you go through Amazon vendor central or seller central is the first question, and though vendor central wholesaling may be more convenient for you, you do have more control and options with seller central.

  • Optimize your product listings and use professional photos. Write product descriptions of 1,000 words that contain relevant and appropriate keywords.
  • Use FBA and show up as a Prime option, stop managing customer service and returns on Amazon orders.
  • Get as many reviews as you can. But follow the rules.
  • Your products need to have at least 4 stars. 4.5 and 5 is ideal. If you aren’t doing a good job with meeting shopper expectations with product quality or delivery, they’ll tell you through your star ratings. If you don’t have 4 stars, you won’t sell much.
  • Send follow-up messages to buyers, but not annoying ones! Ask for an honest review (you’re not allowed to ask for a positive one!) several weeks after the purchase.
  • Use Amazon ads (Amazon Marketing Services). The ads that Amazon offers are more effective than anything else, including Facebook or Google ads, for increasing your visibility and sales on Amazon. Max these out first before you consider any other advertising that you might send to Amazon.
  • Watch out for counterfeit products copying yours and get them shut down ASAP.
  • Get a data analyst who looks at all of your ecommerce (your own ecomm site, Amazon, Walmart, etc.) for problems and opportunities.

If that’s not enough, here are more Amazon selling tips.

So, as you can tell, there are more than 10 tips here- there are dozens!

Put some into practice now.

10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Freak Out About What Teenagers Are Doing On Social Media

When we hear that teens are leaving Facebook for Snapchat and Instagram, we tend to jump to conclusions.

We know that children are the future.

We are the world…

But, does that mean that ALL of their habits will become NORMS later on?

Is everyone going to leave Facebook?!

Will middle aged people try to act like teenagers?

Or will teens grow up one day and act more like adults?

Maybe some of both…

Well, here are the facts: recently, Facebook had dominated the social media landscape among America’s youth – but it is no longer the most popular online platform among teens, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

Today, roughly half (51%) of U.S. teens ages 13 to 17 say they use Facebook, notably lower than the shares who use YouTube, Instagram or Snapchat.

As online marketers, what does that mean for us?

Should we be freaking out??

Should we all leave Facebook in a mad rush to stay hip with the teenage trends?

NO.

And here’s why:

10 Reasons Not To Freak Out About What Teenagers Do On Social Media

1. Email survived millennials.

Remember when everyone thought millennials would stop using email?

Well, they didn’t. 

As soon as teens entered college or the workforce, they inevitably began using email.

Same theory may be applied to social media.

The online behavior of today’s teens will change as they adapt to:

– other generations
– the workforce
– mainstream society

Teens become adults in 5-10 years, so don’t stress about the current youth’s habits too much.

(via 99Designs)

2. There are still more teenagers on Facebook than Instagram.

Our data below comes from Facebook Audience Insights and Facebook Ad Manager.

This is freely available, live data on 230 million monthly American users. At should be noted that this data comes from actual online activity, not from a survey with all the usual flaws of market research.

The Facebook Ad Manager data also includes Instagram data, since Facebook owns Instagram and the ad platform allows you to advertise on Instagram.

If we look at ages 13-21, there are:

– 22 million users on Facebook
– 20 million users on Instagram

And ages 18-24:

– 35 million users on Facebook
– 29 million users on Instagram.

This gap continues to widen with age.

Young people may be using Instagram and Snapchat more, but there are still a huge number of teens on Facebook.

If you market to youth segments, you should market and advertise on all three of these platforms.

3. Instagram is awesome!

The younger people are, the more likely they are to be on BOTH Facebook and Instagram, and this is definitely the case with teens.

According to PEW, 72% of teens say they use Instagram, which is great.

If teenagers go to Instagram, as a marketer, it’s no problem. We can still market to them on Instagram itself and via Facebook Ad Manager.

4. Snapchat could become a great place to market in the future.

Snapchat’s disappearing messages have become a primary means of communication for teens.

It was built on the appeal that photos and messages expire and disappear. 

Are these viable places to market? Yes.

Currently, marketing on Snapchat is more expensive than Facebook or Instagram, but it may become a great place to advertise in the future.

(via Business insider)


5. Teens also love online gaming.

A large majority of teens – both boys and girls – play video games.

This creates loads of potential online marketing opportunities.

There’s a whole world of online gaming out there.

It may also become a great place to advertise in the future!

6 Stay in the present. Market now.

Everyone knows the future is imminent and inevitable.

What we know to be true today may not be the case tomorrow because our world is constantly changing.

Instead of worrying every day about the landscape of online behavior, (“What’s going to happen?!”) just be aware of trends.

Stay in the now.

7. Remember, 13-17 year olds don’t live in the real world.

Spend less time worrying about the affairs of teens.

They’re in high school.

They live in a bubble at their parents’ house.

Their lives haven’t been overtaken by jobs, paying bills and responsibilities just yet.

Their habits will change as they begin to interact with other generations.

8. Teens are online all the time.

When did you get your first smartphone? Probably not when you were 13.

According to a the Pew Research Center survey, fully 95% of teens have access to a smartphone, and 45% say they are online ‘almost constantly’.

That percentage has nearly doubled in just a few years! In 2014-2015, only 24% of teens said the same.

Kind of scary, but times are changing.

Are teens part of your target audience?

If so, they’re always connected.

9. Are you even marketing to teenagers?

Are teens a major part of your target audience?

If not, then you REALLY shouldn’t be freaking out.

Give them a decade and they’ll become part of your audience.

Both sides will have adjusted to trends, new technologies, other generations, and best/new marketing practices by then.

Which leads me to my final reason not to freak out…

10. We’ll adapt!

As marketers and humans, we’ll adapt. That’s what we do.

Through print, radio, TV, and now online, we’ve adapted.

So stop stressing! We’ll figure it out together. :)

It’s going to be okay!

Facebook post tips - facebook like thumb

5 Quick Tips To Get More Out of Your Facebook Posts

Are you posting on Facebook, but not getting enough out of it?

Want more brand exposure? More interaction? More website traffic?

Then you’ll enjoy these 5 quick tips!

Facebook Post Tip #1: To Get More of EVERYTHING…

Run ads. And I don’t mean boost posts.

Get into the Facebook Ad Manager and create post promo ads to show your posts to more people.

If no one sees them, no one interacts, no one clicks, nothing else happens!

The main benefit of running post promo ads from Ad Manager is that you’ll learn how to get really affordable exposure and interaction, especially when you do the rest of these tips.

And another benefit is that you’ll be creating cool engagement audiences that you can later retarget to, and retargeting audiences are great for driving lead and sales!

Facebook Post Tip #2: To REACH More People…

Great news! As of September 2020, Facebook has rescinded its 20% text rule, as we originally outlined below. With that said, it’s smart to be judicious about your text-to-image ratio in order to create images that are pleasing to the user’s eye.

If you run ads but your post images have too much text, Facebook won’t show your post to as many people.

Once again, if you don’t reach enough people, not much happens…

Facebook has a thing they call the 20% rule.

The 20% rule is: you can’t have text in more than 5 out of 25 rectangles in a 5×5 grid placed over your image

So follow the 20% rule, reduce text in your images and you’ll reach more people!

Use this tool to check your images before your post.

Facebook Post Tip #3: To Get More ENGAGEMENT…

How do you stop the scroll?

Grab the attention?

Get them to care?

This is a huge topic worthy of at least an entire book.

And it’s not just the concern of social media people- it’s something that musicians, artists, storytellers, advertisers…

All kinds of people want to grab attention and make people care.

But the short answer, based on our landmark Contagious Content study is that

You should have AT LEAST ONE of the following in EVERY post:

  • Humor
  • How-To Advice
  • Amazing Stuff
  • Generosity & Offers
  • Inspiration
  • Warnings

Facebook Post Tip #4: To Get More CLICKS and Website TRAFFIC…

Make sure you have a website link in your post.

If there’s no link, how will they get to your website?

Do you really think they’re going to…

  1. Click on your Facebook page name and
  2. Find your “About us” and
  3. Find the website link and then finally
  4. Click on that?

No way! That’s three or four extra steps you made them do! Most people are already on to something else in their life and you lost them!

So, put a link in every post, if you want traffic!

Also, BONUS TIP: watch your link clickthrough-rate.

Look at your reports (either export your posts from Page Insights or even better, if you’re running post promo ads, look at your Ad Manager data) to see which posts get the highest link-CTR. These are the ones that drive traffic, not just engagement. Learn from this!

Facebook Post Tip #5: To Get More BLOG READERS…

This is an advanced one.

It’s a combination of 3 and 4.

You have to have a website link in your Facebook post, of course, or how will they find the blog post?

And you can’t be boring.

Your post has to grab attention or they’ll never stop long enough to consider reading your blog post.

No matter how interesting you think your blog post is…

And no matter how much time you spent writing it and editing it and making it awesome…

Your work isn’t done yet. Now you have to sell it!

The same way you have to write a good blog post title to get people to care, if you’re posting in social media or creating an ad about a blog post or both, you have to sell the sizzle about that post.

You might have already put some of that sizzle into your blog post title.

But in a Facebook post, you need an image or a video.

So if you just finished your blog post, you might want to take a break, because you need some creative energy now for the Facebook post.

Do you already have an engaging or funny or interesting image or video for it?

Or do you need to find one?

Go back to tip #3 on ENGAGEMENT and think about which of those SIX AWESOME THINGS you can use that fits your blog post.

Then you’re done!

:-)

Jim Carrey from Dumb & Dumber poking head out of limo window

The Biggest Mistake Marketing Strategists Make

The biggest failure of consultants that only do marketing strategy:

If they’ve never done implementation they haven’t seen what works and what doesn’t.
Get someone who’s done it!

If they used to implement and now do strategy, there’s a good chance their ideas are at least several years out of date.
Get someone who does it now!

Marketing strategists don’t have access to companies doing working strategies right now. They attract companies that are doing it wrong, and they only see outlier case studies of strategy that the media and bloggers write about.
Get someone with their own data on their own clients!

Those outlier case studies often have to be “news” to get published. Most people don’t hear about last year’s strategies that are still working for a lot of companies- for example, google ads, webinars and email marketing are still highly profitable. These aren’t exciting enough to write about, so marketing strategists get a skewed idea of which strategies are most likely to work.
Don’t just listen to the news- listen for best practices!

Those outlier case studies are exceptions. Just because it worked for them doesn’t mean it will work for your company. Those strategies were a fit for that company but may not fit yours. Without a way to appraise your company and categorize it, they will apply a one-size-fits-all approach. They may call it customized because they recommend customized messaging, but the prioritization of strategies and budget allocations may be very similar, and may not work for you.
Get someone who customizes!

You need the strategies and tactics that work for most companies not just what worked for random outliers. You need it customized to your company.

Applying to your company only the strategies of outlier companies is like buying a suit for yourself based on the measurements of successful people.

Got it?
Go get em!

Facebook Still Has More Young People Than Instagram… In EVERY Age Group

It seems like every time I talk to someone about Facebook, they talk about how young people are leaving it for Instagram or Snapchat.

That may be true.

If they go to Instagram, as a marketer, I’m fine with it. We can still market to them on Instagram itself and via the Facebook Ad Manager.

But have the YOUTHS really left Facebook?

Who knows.

So, I thought I’d take a look at the data and find out!

The results might shock some of you…

Is Facebook Only For Old People?

Let’s take a look at how many people are on Facebook and Instagram in the U.S. right now.

The Facebook Audience Insights Data

First off, on Facebook- if we look at the Facebook “Audience Insights” tool, which available to anyone- just get a Facebook ad account and you can use it- we see there are 200-250 million monthly active U.S. Facebook users right now (as of June, 2018).

  • If 17% of Facebook users are 18-24, that means 38 million 18-24 year old’s use Facebook monthly.
  • Another 58 million young-ish people between 25-34 use Facebook monthly.
  • That means that 96 million Americans between the ages 18 and 34 use Facebook monthly right now!

The Facebook Ad Manager Data

We can also get numbers from the Facebook ad manager. It can tell you, when you create an ad set, how many people you can easily target on Facebook or Instagram.

  • When I put 18-34 in, Facebook Ad Manager says that there are 90 million 18-34 year old Americans on Facebook. Pretty similar numbers to what I found from the Audience Insights tool.
  • When I add in Instagram, we get 100 million Americans, 18-34 years old, on Facebook and/or Instagram.
  • When I remove Facebook but keep Instagram, we get 69 million 18-34 year olds on Instagram only.

More interesting is this chart I put together from FB Ad Manager’s data…

Number of American Facebook & Instagram Users By Age:

That last row is what percentage of the total (Facebook + Instagram) is in Facebook. Over 50% would mean that there are more people in this age group on Facebook than Instagram.

In every age group, Facebook has more users than Instagram. Even in the youth segments!

So… millions of teenagers still think Facebook is cool? Or at least, cool enough to use, for whatever reason.

Here’s a more graphic comparison of the number of Facebook and Instagram users by age group in June 2018:

  • Even in the 13-17 age group, there are more teens on Facebook than Instagram. That may be changing, but it hasn’t changed yet. There are 12% more 13-17 year olds on Facebook than Instagram.
  • And the gap widens as we look at 18-24 year olds. There are 17% more 18-24 year olds on Facebook than Instagram. It widens again for 25-34 year olds. There are 27% more 25-34 year olds on Facebook than Instagram. And so on.

And before you say, “Yeah, they have accounts, but they don’t use them,” the data above is for ACTIVE monthly users…

And read this article about how Facebook ads are still working WAY better than Instagram ads.

Takeaways

The rumors of Facebook’s death amongst youth have been greatly exaggerated.

Young people may be using Instagram and Snapchat more, but there are still a huge number of them on Facebook.

If you market to youth segments, you should market and advertise on all three of these platforms.

The data I can’t find that would be really great to know is: how much time does each age group spend on each social network? It’s easy to find how many people of each age group use a site. Or how much time users of a site spend on that site, but not how much time each age group uses each site.

How People Are Creating Social Media Sales & Profits

Are you ready to get more from your social media than just awareness and engagement?

Are you dissatisfied with not knowing social media’s impact on your organization’s bottom line?

Do you want to join the organizations and marketers who are developing business with social media marketing?

Then you’ll love this article, which covers how top marketers are driving and tracking sales and profits with social media marketing in 2018.

The State of Social Media Results

Recent surveys of marketers and CMO’s tell us that many companies have not yet solved many basic social media marketing problems:

  • Marketing executives rate their integration of social media with their marketing strategy just 4.1 on a scale of 7 (CMO Survey, 2018, page 48). How can you expect great social marketing results, if your social strategy is out of alignment with your marketing strategy?
  • 56% of 5,700 social marketers surveyed by Social Media Examiner in 2018 are uncertain about their social media profits or were unable to measure it. Only 10% (570 social marketers) strongly agreed they were able to measure their social media profits. 
    These are the professional social marketers- the top of their field. Imagine how difficult and uncertain it is for small business owners who aren’t caught up on the latest tactics and who have to wear seven hats in their businesses. And consider that there are over 2 million small businesses in the U.S., 500 Fortune 500 companies, 5,000 companies in the Inc 5000…. If only 570 social marketers have strong confidence in their ROI measurement, then most companies don’t have someone who’s confident about it.
  • Although marketing executives’ #1 overall goal was customer acquisition, their #1 use of social media was not customer acquisition- it was brand awareness and brand building. Customer acquisition was their #2 purpose for social media (CMO Survey 2018, page 51). This odd priority echoes the above misalignment with their overall marketing strategy. It may be due to a misunderstanding or underestimation of the capabilities of social media marketing, or it may be reflective of the social media freelancers, agencies or employees they’ve had up to this point. When you work with social media personnel whose background is only in PR or branding, their orientation can affect your approach.
  • When marketing executives were asked to what degree social media contributed to their company’s performance (a vague question to be sure, but corporate performance typically is heavily based on revenue and profits), they answered with an average of 3.3 on a scale of 7. That’s not an overwhelming vote.
  • There are older surveys and stats that talk about the challenges of measuring social media, but I’ll stick to recent ones.

Does it surprise to you that marketers are having trouble improving social media profits if they aren’t measuring it well?

It shouldn’t, because as Peter Drucker said, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

In digital and social marketing, you can’t improve what you can’t measure.

And when your social marketing strategies are not aligned with your overall marketing priorities, you have a recipe for social mediocrity.

The solutions to the problems that marketers and executives are surfacing are:

  1. Prioritize the use of social media for business development: customer acquisition, sales and profits. Ask for more from your social marketing. It’s capable of it.
  2. Hold social media accountable for achieving these goals.
  3. Make it a priority to measure social media accurately. Choose KPI’s, sales goals and start to measure profitability tied to your resources, labor, time and costs.
  4. Budget for social advertising, because it’s the most certain way to drive these results in social media.
  5. Get the people, resources, talent, training and tools you need to make this happen.

Easier said than done, right?

But you can do it. Many companies have.

So, let’s dive in!

How Today’s Marketers Are Making Social Media Profitable

How do leading marketers prove the impact of social on their bottom line?

The best marketers have social sales and profits analytics at their fingertips.

Many companies don’t realize their analytics are set up wrong and are inaccurate.

Do you have the tracking, the data and the insights you need to prove how social is driving customer and profits for your business? And to measure and improve it?

What does that look like? In our experience, these are the kinds of things you need:

  • Expertise, or at least competence, at understanding, exporting and analyzing data from the social platforms: Facebook Page Insights, Facebook Ad Manager, Facebook Audience Insights, Twitter Ads, Twitter Insights, Instagram Ads, LinkedIn Ads, etc.
  • Professional implementation of social ad tracking pixels: If you are using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn or similar ads that use conversion code, make sure you either have a professional install and check the code, or hire one to check it. Not only is that code critical and indispensable for tracking, it also it essential to how the ads run. You need it for retargeting and in some networks, it also affects how well or poorly the ads are targeted within your targeting selections. It’s not optional. We’ve heard many IT and programming people who were not professional digital marketers assume that these pixels were only for tracking and that web analytics or a CRM would be enough. They are not. The tracking from the ad platforms must be installed also. If your web or ecommerce platforms are not compatible with the common ad platforms, they need to “get with it”, you need to switch to another platform that is compatible, or you will have to hire programmers to fix it. Or you will be seriously hampered against your competitors in the marketplace. We’ve worked with clients who had to stop marketing socially for 4 months while they had programmers white-label and make their third party scheduling software compatible with Facebook ads. It’s a problem of ignorance in the SaaS industry that will eventually fix itself, but it may take another five years.
  • Google Analytics (or the like) with UTM parameters: you must manually help GA track the source/medium of all website traffic from social, or some will be undercounted. For example, without this, Facebook traffic will be undercounted by as much as 40% and will be placed in the “Direct” category.
  • Google Analytics conversion assist reports: you need to consider both first click and last click, because once you graduate from the search marketing last-click only mentality, you will drive a greater volume of traffic and sales, but without first-click reports, you may cut out some of the first-click sources that ultimately drive your sales. Often, retargeting ads from various networks, and search sources close the sale with a last-click, but they may never have happened without the first click. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn ads can increase your organic search volume dramatically, but you’ll never have evidence of this and you’ll spend in the wrong places without these reports.
  • Professional CRM, and any additional add-ons required to track accurately: You need something like Salesforce, Hubspot, Infusionsoft, Zoho or the like if you are driving leads for salespeople. Your email account isn’t good enough. You need to track the leads in a professional system, and you need marketing attribution. Also, beware of conflicts in attribution reporting. Just as GA can misattribute social traffic, so can CRM’s. For example, if you use Hubspot free, or even paid without buying the Ads Add-on, Hubspot will not track Facebook ad traffic accurately. They admit this in their help screens.

Branding Alone Doesn’t Drive Sales

How do top marketers do social branding in a way that drives new customers?

Savvy marketers drive engagement, sales and profits while leading their categories.

The painful truth many companies discover is that branding alone doesn’t create sales. Just putting your brand out there doesn’t create sales. Just creating engaging posts doesn’t get you new customers. It might drive a few, but not enough to sustain a business. Not enough to call social media a viable business development channel that you’d want to dump more cash into and scale.

Do you have the tracking, ads, posts and optimization strategies in place to cash in on social?

First I’ll give you a list of the things that don’t drive customer growth and sales in social media- and then I’ll give you a list of the things that do drive them:

What doesn’t drive social media many sales and profits, if any:

  • Tweetchats: they’re usually measure in terms of reach, which is not unique reach, so it’s deceptively high. There often aren’t a lot of links included in the chat’s tweets, so you may not even get much website traffic, let alone sales.
  • Facebook posting without ads: Most pages don’t reach very many people when they post, unless they advertise to promote that post. Without reach, you have very little chance of anything else happening… like traffic, leads or sales.
  • Facebook posts boosted on the page: This is the poor cousin of the engagement ad you can create in the Ad Manager, and it doesn’t work as well. It’s often created by someone who’s not really a Facebook ad professional, the targeting isn’t good, and the post itself may not have a high engagement rate. If it doesn’t have a link in it, there’s little chance of traffic, leads or sales. Even with a link, this is one of the worst ad types to try to try traffic, leads or sales with. You’ll probably just gets some engagement, and that’s it. But your costs will be high and your money won’t go as far as with an engagement ad in the Ad Manager.
  • Instagram posts: you can’t add a link- they have to go to your bio link, and you only get one- it’s an extra step, and you may not have that many followers… so you probably won’t get very much traffic, if any… and even less leads or sales. You can promote these posts within the app, but again, these are not as good as creating Instagram as from within the Facebook ad manager.

What drives more social media sales and profits? Let’s move to the next section…

Social Ads Help Drive and Measure Sales & Profits

Why are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn ads the most effective and trackable form of social media marketing?

Why are these ads the main drivers in social media sales and profits?

Because social ads drive not just engagement but also traffic, sales and profits… from 300% to 700% and higher.

Here are a few very short results from some case studies using social ads:

Lead Generation Case Studies

  • HOME GOODS: We helped a home goods company lowered their cost per lead by 84%, getting them 7x the leads. We also more than doubled their new customer acquisition speed across their entire company. They were using an omnichannel approach, and the social ads, used as a swiss army knife for awareness, engagement and lead generation also directly drove some sales. We commissioned a third-party impact study and discovered that the social campaigns had stimulated an increase in organic searches in Google for their brand name. It was a shot in the arm for their entire company. Most of these effects happened within 4 months. The first month wasn’t brilliant, but soon after our measurement abilities enabled us to drop costs and drive performance.
  • IT/CLOUD: We worked with a number of Microsoft’s partners in the cloud hosting business. For one, we created a new whitepaper. They wanted to experiment with Facebook ads rather than LinkedIn ads. We targeted CIO’s, sys admins and IT people. The most affordable leads were $29 each. According to industry stats, average lead in IT costs $370. Our cost was 92% more affordable than that. Facebook’s ad costs are quite low, and its ability to target job titles makes it both powerful and affordable. Sometimes LinkedIn is better, but LinkedIn can also be expensive and lower volume, since people spend an average of 2 minutes a day on LinkedIn and 35 minutes a day on Facebook. This, of course, varies with the audience.
  • RECRUITING/STAFFING: We’ve worked with a number of companies to fill staffing and recruiting gaps applicants. We’ve been able to drive job applicants at 75% lower costs than CareerBuilder. Our social advertising for job candidates drives more traffic for these companies than any other source including Indeed.com.
  • MARKETING: We created a lead-quiz for a marketing agency and drove thousands of leads for just $1.74 each. The average lead cost in this industry is $173. Our cost was 99% more affordable.
  • SAAS: A SaaS company wanted to reach only people who worked at Fortune 1000 companies. We drove traffic to their whitepaper and got them new demos for $26 each. Again, the standard here is $370, and this was similarly about 93% more affordable than average.
  • EDUCATION: We teamed up with an educational bookstore to run multiple lead gen contests. The average email acquisition cost has been around $0.60 apiece. The average lead cost in the Education industry is $60. Our leads were roughly 99% more affordable than average.

Why is the average lead cost so high and were ours so affordable? In part, the average costs are high because they include many traditional offline lead gen sources, which are more expensive. They also may include mark-ups for retail selling of leads. And we always see drastic reduction in costs when we do a lot of testing and discovery online. In traditional marketing, you can’t test a lot of things to find the most effective, compelling offer, wording, video or picture. Online we discover huge advantages through testing, and it saves companies lots of money and increases profits dramatically.

Again, when you can measure it, you can improve it. And we can measure a lot more things a lot more finely online.

When you explore the best in each of these categories, your improvements multiply:

  • Targeting and customer psychology
  • Creative, video, ads, copywriting and persuasion tactics
  • Landing Pages and conversion optimization
  • Lead Magnets, ebooks, whitepapers, quizzes, etc.

Make sure you aren’t lazy about your creative and testing/discovery processes. If you are, you’ll pay more than you need to, and you won’t get the kind of results we’re talking about here.

Ecommerce Case Studies

  • HOME GOODS: With the home goods client above, we achieved a 60% reduction in cost per new customer. We saw over 900% ROI on the social video ad campaigns. 1,000% ROI on post engagement. And overall a 274% ROI on customer acquisition.
  • TRAVEL: We’ve worked for years with a specialty cruise company drive customer bookings for as low as $30 apiece.
  • FOOD & BEV: We drove 22x in revenue for a small pizza chain in Scotland of all places. I’ve been told not to talk about this one because the ROI sounds so high that it’s unbelievable. Oh well… those were the real numbers. Believe what you want. It’s true!
  • HEALTH: We opened up a new revenue channel for a health products business. It was 700% ROI and the first year we drove 6 figures in revenue monthly.
  • FITNESS: We helped a franchise personal training business open up a new marketing channel. Their goal was $700 per customer. We drove new customers at $415 apiece.

Social media driven ecommerce is the most challenging thing we’ve seen in digital marketing, but with enough time, investment and the right people and tools, profits can be found.

Sometimes it’s easy. Sometimes it’s difficult, and there are technical, branding and budget challenges. Every situation is different.

How Do Businesses Make This Happen?

These kinds of successes don’t happen instantly. There’s no magical CASH button in digital marketing. There are plenty of people trying to sell short-lived or fantastic tricks and short-cuts. As in many areas of life, those who can only tolerate easy answers tend to fall for get-rich-quick schemes and lose their shirts.

If you’re smart, responsible and realistic, you have much better chances of success.

Creating profitable social marketing is a process that takes 3-6-12 months. Businesses need to commit $5k in ad spend or more per month. It’s an investment. You’ll see a return on it, but not instantly.

  • Month one is all about set-up. Ads may start running, but you have to get all the pixels and analytics in place, have the right targeting, all the right creative, etc.
  • The first three months tells you what’s going to be profitable and what isn’t. You should have some really effective targeting and ads by the end of month three. That means affordable, high-quality leads if lead-gen, or profitable ads if ecommerce.
  • By the six month mark your entire social campaign should reliably drive efficient results to the extent that it has made up for the costs of the first three months.
  • By 12 months you should have learned so much and be getting such great results that you won’t even recognize your social program. It may have revolutionized your entire marketing program with the insights you’ve gathered.

Who Can Help You Accomplish All This?

We’re not born with kinds of skills you need to do the social advertising and analytics that drive social media profits. Digital natives don’t have them just because they know how to use Snapchat. Experts need business skills, copywriting skills, technical ad platform experience, analytics talents, and marketing experience.

You’re going to need:

  • Social ad expertise: Facebook ads, Instagram ads, Twitter ads, LinkedIn ads. Do you want to have all those options? Do you already have someone who does Google ads for you? You may get some social strategy expertise when you get someone who can do the social ads, but you probably want to ask them about it.
  • Analytics expertise: Website analytics like Google Analytics or Adobe Omniture expertise, CRM analysis, marketing automation analytics if you use Infusionsoft or Marketo or the like.

So how do you add that to your company? These are your real-life choices:

  1. If you’re a small business owner, you may want to do it yourself… sacrifice your own hobbies, free time and families to spend 20-40 hours a week learning for 3 years (why do you think all the job listings for this stuff ask for a minimum amount of experience?)
  2. Hire someone with no experience and wait 3 years for them to have significant experience and expertise. Are they taking online courses to learn? Are you paying for that?
  3. Outsource to someone freelance and part-time via a platform like Upwork. They’ll cost anywhere from $30-$60 per hour.
  4. Hire expert employees, experienced at ad platforms or analytics: $50-80K per year each – you’re going to need several to cover all the areas of expertise you need.
  5. Hire an expert agency: $30-60K per year (we find that the costs our agency are lower than in-house employees because we have multiple experts on staff who can more efficiently cover our various clients)
  6. Do nothing. Keep your social media status quo. Risk falling behind the competition.

Notice- what is not an option is: Do a whole bunch of random things you read on social media blogs… with no experience, no analytics, no skills… You CAN do that, if you don’t want to create any real impact. But if you want to drive new customers, sales and profits, you need expertise.

Conclusion

So, if you want your social to be as profitable as it is for these businesses:

  • Make a commitment to build the program for 6-12 months.
  • Set your goals.
  • Create a budget.
  • Hire the people or the agency.
  • Start using social ads and all the analytics I talked about above.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to measure your social media results.

Now go improve them!

2018 Marketing Director Survey Part 2/2

If you aren’t aware of it, some amazing people have been putting out a great survey for a number of years. It’s called The CMO Survey, and it asks marketing directors, VP’s of marketing and others key questions to figure out what’s going on with marketing and where we’re headed. We wanted to bring more awareness not just to the great work done by Christine Moorman, her team and those at Deloitte, Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, and the American Marketing Association, but also to the trends uncovered by the latest survey.

We, of course, had some of our own opinions and insights to add on the topics in the survey based on our work in digital marketing and social media over the last 19 years… and it took us 2 hours to get through it all! We put the discussion into two videos. We hope to piece them into smaller topic videos soon.

This is part two of two. Go here for part one.

Discussion by the Brian Carter Group. This podcast is not directly affiliated with CMO Survey. All registered copyrights and trademarks remain the property of original owners.

The Only 5 Ways Small Businesses Can Do Digital Marketing and Social Media

Most small business owners want:

  • More publicity
  • More sales
  • More leads and
  • More new customers

Some businesses need them desperately.

Business owners hear you can get these things from social media… or digital marketing… or Facebook ads or Google ads, and they want it NOW.

But many discover the hard way that it’s not that as easy as it sounds.

In my keynotes, I speak to groups of retailers, franchisees and other small business owners , giving tips and advice based on 20 years of digital and social media work, spending millions of advertising and marketing dollars for clients…

I realized last year that I had been making a big mistake.

I had been leaving out a very important piece of information!

99% of business owners can’t do digital marketing and social media themselves.

Not effectively.

Digital marketing and social media, done well, where you get the kinds of bottom-results that business owners want – like sales, store visits, leads, profits and new customers – is a serious and complicated profession that takes years to get good at.

In the meantime, people waste a lot of time and money.

Without thinking about it, I went along with the idea that everyone can learn to be an expert marketer.

The idea that every business owner can quickly become a brilliant digital marketer is a pipe dream sold by salesmen selling online courses and tools to entrepreneurs desperate to get rich quick.

But the truth is…

Business owners need help with digital marketing. But there are a lot of pitfalls.

A lot of people say they’re Facebook ads experts, or Instagram experts, or whatever experts… but aren’t.

They may honestly think they are, or they may just want to sell you something, but they won’t help you.

A lot of young people know how to post on social media but can’t market for a real company- at least not yet.

There’s a reason why most of the digital marketing job descriptions on sites like Indeed.com ask for at least 3 years of experience… because it takes that long to learn how to be effective.

It takes at least 3 years of experience to be good enough to reliably get bottom-line results for businesses. Even that may not be enough time.

So if you’re a small business owner, you really only have 5 options with digital marketing or social media.

Here they are:

THE ONLY 5 OPTIONS FOR DIGITAL & SOCIAL MARKETING

  1. Do nothing.
  2. Do it yourself.
  3. Hire an inexperienced employee.
  4. Hire an experienced employee.
  5. Hire an agency.

That’s it.

Ok, maybe an alien could do it for you. Or magic. Or an alien with magic.

But I didn’t include those.

Let’s go through them in a little more detail:

OPTION #1: Do nothing.

Technically not really an option…

You’d be living in the 1980’s with dot-matrix printers, dial-up modems, and, well, phone books.

And the 80’s weren’t all bad, but…

Your competitors would get ahead, and you’d eventually go out of business.

OPTION #2: Do it yourself.

Like you don’t have better things to do!

…like run your business or do sales or manage people.

To do digital marketing yourself and do it well, you’ll have to sacrifice at least 10-20 hours a week… probably more.

You’ll need to invest in training courses, which are not free.

You’d better like learning and detail-work and writing and testing and math and data and analysis. Sounds like fun, right?

We have a client who is a former rocket scientist who does pretty well at understanding it. He’d agree: digital marketing is not rocket science. It’s worse.

And it will take you one to three years to learn to get reliable results, unless you’re a very lucky outlier.

We have worked with some outlier business owners, like Dr. Eric Berg, who can not only run their own businesses but also create a ton of their own content and even run their own ads for some time- and get results!

But they are the exception. And he is a doctor.

Even with someone like Dr. Berg, when he wanted to find revenue and profits in a new area like Facebook ads, it took our agency’s experience and expertise to help him do that.

So, if you’re not a scientist or a doctor… and even if you are, I wouldn’t recommend it.

OPTION #3: Hire an inexperienced employee.

Maybe you want to go cheap.

Maybe you think “young people” are magical.

Some people have experience posting in social media but don’t have any expertise in marketing businesses for bottom-line results.

They may lack the kind of digital marketing experience where they’ve driven store visits, leads or sales repeatedly.

That means- no matter what other strengths they have- they’re incompetent at digital marketing, at least right now.

You’ll have to train them (paid training courses) and wait 1-3 years to get reliable results.

And of course, as was said before, they had better like learning and detail-work and writing and testing and math and data and analysis.

Or they might be the wrong person for the job.

I can tell you from experience that it’s really hard to hire successfully for digital and social marketing solely on the basis of talent, because these jobs require a rare combination of talents (left and

right brain) and drives (OCD analysis and creativity and diligence).

You’ll find a number of people don’t have what it takes, and you will waste time investing in them, so it’s smarter to get someone who’s already stuck with it for some time and had success.

OPTION #4: Hire an experienced employee.

This is the first viable option so far.

Pay $40,000+ annually for someone with 3+ years of experience.

The only consideration here is that you may need:

  • Google ad expertise
  • Facebook ad expertise
  • Google Analytics expertise
  • E-commerce expertise
  • Content marketing expertise
  • And more…

And each of the above is a separate job descriptions. Each merits at least $40k annually.

So, it may be tough to get everything you need from one person. You may need to grow an entire internal marketing department.

A less committed version of this option is hiring a freelancer from a site like Upwork. Just look at lots of them and vet them thoroughly.

OPTION #5: Hire an agency.

This is the other viable option.

Pay $30,000+ annually for an expert marketing agency.

An agency can be more affordable than hiring employees.

You may get more expertise and access to more people overall. Possibly more experience across more companies and industries. That’s not always true- just make sure find out and compare when considering employees, freelancers and agencies.

CONCLUSION

Now we conclude things…

If you want to be assured you’ll grow your business, revenues and profits, then, as soon as you can afford it, hire a freelancer, employee or agency!

That’s your best insurance against wasting money and time.

Invest in expertise and experience.

Choose results.

2018 Marketing Director Survey Part 1/2

If you aren’t aware of it, some amazing people have been putting out a great survey for a number of years. It’s called The CMO Survey, and it asks marketing directors, VP’s of marketing and others key questions to figure out what’s going on with marketing and where we’re headed. We wanted to bring more awareness not just to the great work done by Christine Moorman, her team and those at Deloitte, Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, and the American Marketing Association, but also to the trends uncovered by the latest survey.

We, of course, had some of our own opinions and insights to add on the topics in the survey based on our work in digital marketing and social media over the last 19 years… and it took us 2 hours to get through it all! We put the discussion into two videos. We hope to piece them into smaller topic videos soon.

For now, here is part one of two. Go here for part two.

Discussion by the Brian Carter Group. This podcast is not directly affiliated with CMO Survey. All registered copyrights and trademarks remain the property of original owners.

Why Do Social Media & Community Building Actually Work?

The Ecommerce Times was recently writing an article on social media community building and reached out to 15-year digital marketing expert and 10-year social marketing expert Brian Carter for an interview. ECT published some of his responses in this article, “5 Ways to Build Community Around Your Brand.”

If you liked that, here are Brian’s complete responses!

Q1. Why is it important to build social or community around a brand?

When we do social for clients, part of that is building engagement and awareness around a brand and its offerings.

In a time where a lot of digital experts have gravitated toward conversion optimization only, I understand that because I grew up doing that with SEO focused on conversions, Google AdWords focused on revenue and ROI, Google Analytics, Omniture and split-testing.

I’m a data guy, a test-discover-learn guy… basically a geek!

So it took me a long time to believe that engagement really had a hard quantitative value beyond all the soft feel-good stuff people seemed to like about it.

When Facebook ads came on the scene, we ran fan growth and engagement ads for companies along with Facebook and Google ads for lead gen, ecommerce and other conversion-oriented campaigns, though I often was skeptical about whether the fans or likes were really helping them grow their customer base, drive sales, or improve profits.

We’d counsel that this was the quickest way to get customer or profits, but customers often wanted to grow fans and get engagement, so we took the challenge…discovered how to drive low cost fans and get high engagement rates for pennies on the dollar.

But I was still skeptical about the business value of fans and social media engagement.

And it’s hard to overcome that skepticism, a skepticism many people have, because:

a. Multi-touchpoint analytics are spotty (not every company has them)
b. The analytics for multi-touchpoint seems complicated or out of the way (not every company wants to dive into this just to examine whether their bias is correct), and
c. Finding out the truth about your social media’s conversion value sometimes requires spending money or even third party studies of your analytics.

Not every company can or will do all of that. But the 20% or so of clients we’ve had who did both engagement and conversions AND looked at their metrics, always saw big benefits to running engagement ads in addition to conversion campaigns:

  1. Engagement ads usually spike organic search traffic and sales: Increased brand awareness from social engagement ads increases search engine searches for your brand name (people notice you more and think, “Oh what was that thing? Oh yeah that company… Let me search for that now…”), which gets you additional organic traffic and sales. When you see an organic traffic and sales spike after starting a new social ad campaign and not changing anything else, you have to be honest: it might have been that social awareness. Sometimes you can track that, if the social ads led to traffic, but if they didn’t, your website analytics can’t even track that, unfortunately.
  2. Engagement ads can pay for themselves: Often you can look at the social engagement ads data and see specific revenue driven from that same ad spend- and often it pays for itself. It may not be a positive ROI, but its breakeven. That means you have to run other ads, of course, to drive profits, but the engagement ads aren’t necessarily a cost- they may pay for themselves. Now, to make that happen, there must be links in your posts… if you aren’t putting links and calls to action in your posts, that’s a whole nother topic- how to create effective engagement ads that also drive traffic…
  3. Engagement ads can improve conversion rates and profits: The brand familiarity you get from this (look up the “mere exposure” effect if you haven’t heard of it) lowers people’s resistance to buying from you, which increases conversion rates, which in turn lowers cost per sale and cost per customer, which of course, increases profits.

Q2. What are some of the most effective ways that e-commerce businesses can build this kind of social media or community? Why do these strategies work?

You have to run Facebook and Instagram ads, create a lot of posts and ads, and see how your customers respond to them.

It’s just like learning how to get along with a real person- you have to get to know them- and online the only way to get to know people is to either look at their data first, or put stuff out there and see how they respond.

Listen to the data- what do they like? What do they share? What do they click on? What don’t they respond to?

You need a repeatable process for constant improvement- we call ours F.I.T. First you find the Facts- that’s data about who are they- then you Invent things, and Test them (discover what works by looking at everything!).

Then look at the Facts again- how did they respond to what you Invented? By Inventing more stuff like what they liked, you create a better and better fit of your marketing materials with their likes. If your marketing fits your customers, they love you more, likability increases, and you know what excites them.

The RARE company’s research on loyalty showed that 86% of customers are loyal because they like the company. So how likable is your brand, and how likable is your marketing? What are you doing to increase that? What process do you use to ensure you win at likability?

This is critical to your survival, and to thriving, because when companies disrupt others, or entire industries, its always because they suddenly make your customers a lot happier than they have been. You can’t afford to just be good enough and maintain, because that’s what companies like Blockbuster and Borders and the Yellow Pages and Yellow Cab did before they got disrupted by Netflix, Amazon, Google and Uber.

Continually strive to become greater and make your customers happier. Make sure you have a process for that. We use F.I.T.

Q3. What are common mistakes that are made by e-commerce companies when trying to build social engagement, and how can these mistakes be avoided?

The biggest mistake marketers make when it comes to engagement is that they approach it as a sales opportunity or by thinking mostly about their brand messaging. They wouldn’t walk into a mixer and talk about themselves for 15 minutes straight. Hopefully… They’re smart enough to know that people like people who focus on them. Not on themselves. They ask others about their lives and family and hobbies, and they make a friend.

But somehow they have a blind spot when it comes to marketing their brand. They show their products a lot…even their “lifestyle” images are about their products, not truly about the customer’s lifestyle.

They don’t think about who the customer is- what their daily life is like, their pains, fears, worries, dreams, goals and obstacles. And when they do it’s only in terms of their products.

You have to go a level beyond your product into the customer’s life and emotions and live with them and talk about other things and have faith that this creates a relationship that makes them love you so much that of course they want to buy your products.

You can’t be afraid to NOT talk about the product for a while. You can’t be so afraid that if you go off topic, you’re wasting time.

Because the truth is: so much of friendship and relationship is about wasting time because you are together.

You have to just be with them- without selling- sometimes, or you’re not building a relationship… you’re just an annoying salesperson… and that’s not a likable approach.