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What Makes a Facebook Ads Expert? Digital Marketing Happy Hour #1

I’m so thrilled to debut a new podcast and youtube channel to you all today!

And that I finally got my wife and partner in our digital marketing agency, Lynda Harvey-Carter, into some content where you can see the kind of thinking and work we do every day for our clients and partner agencies. We have a lot of fun doing the work and getting results- and we just have a lot of fun. Look forward to hearing what you think about it. Hope you enjoy!

We’re calling it The Digital Marketing Happy Hour. It’s fun AND practical.

In this first episode, we talk about what makes a Facebook ads EXPERT vs. someone who’s only been doing it a few years. What’s the difference? We give examples of some of the most critical issues and activities to success and failure.

Here are some of the things we discussed:

  • Facebook ad targeting
  • Facebook ad types
  • Facebook ad metrics and benchmarks
  • Creative assets, design and testing
  • Customer behavior and why it’s often so surprising
  • Mobile (smartphones and tablets) and why it’s the most important thing

Please go subscribe to the channel, and hit that notification bell so you hear about all our future episodes.

For now it’s just the YouTube series, but soon we’ll add the audio podcast as well!

 

10 Keys to Retail Franchise Success Based On 7 Years Working With 21 Franchises

Working with, marketing for and keynote speaking to 21 retail franchises for the last seven years, I’ve had access to executives, franchisees, agencies and others in the industry. I’ve interviewed them, brainstormed with them and helped solve their problems. We’ve worked on marketing, sales, management and leadership, generational issues and more.

These franchises include McDonald’s, Hand and Stone Massage, The Floor Trader, Atlantic Bedding & Furniture, PrideStaff, Retrofitness and more. Based on that experience, I’ve created a list of some of the most important keys to success I’ve heard and seen work in the franchise space.

I’ve divided them by audience- if you’re on the corporate side (franchisor) or if you’re a franchisee.

5 Keys to Franchise Success for CORPORATE

#1 Get your franchisees to follow your franchise model (your business plan and best practices). This is often one of the biggest obstacles to franchise success: when franchisees want to go rogue to one degree or another, or don’t invest adequate time or money. It’s important to screen franchisees well, set the right expectations, and have clear requirements and policies. The arts of motivation, leadership and influence are also indispensable, and it’s critical for corporate leaders who interact with franchisees to have these skills and continue to develop them.

Social media can be an area where franchisees want to do their own thing, and you need to have very clear parameters on how that can happen. We’ve helped franchisees, for example, deal with 100’s of Facebook pages and getting those under the brand, and then with issues that come up if a franchisee violates policies and has their page taken down.

#2 Base your franchise model on clear values. Make sure when you interview new franchisees that they hold these values. And then in the training and all communications, make sure to repeat those values often. For example, McDonald’s tells leaders three major things: be obsessed with customers, we’re better together and commit to leadership.

#3 Hold conferences, meetings and get-togethers for training and motivation. Meet at least annually. Some groups have quarterly meetings. Franchise owners need to get together to share what works and doesn’t, and for camaraderie. Managers need training and motivation. If salespeople are a big part of your model, annual sales kickoffs and quarterly sales meetings are best practices to ensure you’re hitting targets and raising the bar.

Almost all the franchises I’ve keynoted for are in either the Franchise 500 or the Fastest Growing Franchises categories. And you can tell from the ones that hire speakers and trainers that they really care about their franchisees and their success.

#4 Have a clear marketing (including social media) and sales plan, differentiating what HQ does and what franchisees should and can and can’t do. Some franchises are very corporate-driven, and some rely almost entirely on the franchisees to do their own marketing and sales. A balance of shared responsibility for marketing is best, and consistency is critical. You want customers to have a consistent experience, and you want your customer acquisition and loyalty to be predictable. Corporate-controlled or mediated marketing (including social media) is better for the brand.

#5 Stay up-to-date on the latest techniques, technologies and best-practices for leadership, sales, marketing and analytics. Things change. Stay on top of the trends in areas like intergenerational communication, teamwork, analytics, digital marketing, CRM’s and social media. It’s  a good idea to have a continuous training mindset. You can’t keep up without some kind of training, whether it’s online or at live events.

5 Keys to Franchise Success for FRANCHISEES

#1 Have or GET enough funding. It’s so important to be able to invest in your franchise, and there are so many costs. We’ve seen some franchisees skimp on hiring or marketing, for example, and both can be real bottlenecks for growth. For financing, don’t neglect looking at an SBA loan with a Rollover for Business Startups (ROBS), where you can invest your 401(k) without penalties or paying taxes on a distribution. Even if you have adequate funding, make sure you have a backup funding plan in case anything goes wrong!

#2 Follow the franchise model. The corporate branch of your franchise usually has a very good idea of what works and what doesn’t. There may be some regional/localization for you to customize, but what corporate suggests is often the best practice gathered from seeing the biggest successes, and the biggest failures. Keep in mind that some franchisees fail, and corporate usually knows what they did or didn’t do. If you want to succeed, both corporate and the most successful franchisees can tell you what to do! And make sure you follow every part of the system: if you just pick and choose parts, you may only experience partial success- at best. At worst, it won’t be enough.

#3 Talk to Corporate. If you’re just starting, make sure you’ve asked about their support for your Grand Opening. Tell them what you need and where you’re struggling. If you’re doing well, tell them your growth plans. It’s important not just to learn from them, but also to show them where they need to go. If 50% of all their franchisees are struggling with the same issue, but only 10% of them say it, Corporate can’t see how important it is to help you solve it.

#4 Be aggressive. Regardless of how much support your franchisor does or doesn’t give you, at the end of the day, you are responsible for your success or failure. Have a plan. Have goals. Know your metrics. Get data. Watch everything closely. Drive sales and new customers. Make sure all this is happening. You are the #1 person who should care about it, worry about it and make it happen. Your franchise’s destiny is in your hands. Never stop planning, executing and growing. Continually succeeding at business is like trying to walk up an escalator that’s going down. If you stop moving forward, you go backward.

#5 Stay humble and teachable. Success in life and business requires adaptation and learning. A few people tune everyone out, think they know best, and actually succeed. But most successful people are constantly adapting to the environment, even when pursuing an aggressive vision. Keep learning, take training, and keep and open mind.

Get it Done

When the franchisee and franchisor are on the same page, and both execute, success happens!

Take a look at the keys above and see where you need the most work. You can’t do everything at once, but if you prioritize the most important AND urgent things, if you follow a plan and you delegate to others, together, your franchise will succeed.

 

5 Recruiting Tips for 2019: How Find and Hire More Candidates and Employees

For the first time in history, there are more jobs than people to fill those jobs!

Recruiters and HR are struggling because traditional approaches aren’t driving in enough job applicants, or the right job candidates, to solve the problem.

Our marketing agency (BCG) has been working with a variety of brands for the last five years to help them reach and attract more ideal job applicants, and I do keynote speeches on recruiting, corporate culture and generational differences.

The good news is: whether you’re a human resources professional or you’re a recruiter, the latest Internet tools and strategies can help you attract more ideal job candidates and get them to apply.

There are search and social tools that can increase your effectiveness at getting more candidates into the right jobs.

There are also some lessons and takeaways we’ve learned that will help you in HOW you approach sourcing and placing job candidates.

In this article, we’ll give you 5 simple tips to get you bigger results.

#1. Become More Likable and Attract More Candidates

I know, you’re already pretty likable!

But how can you make hiring managers and candidates like you more?

If you’re more likable while working with candidates:

  • More people will respond to you
  • They’ll give you more info
  • That info will be more accurate
  • They’ll be less likely to “ghost” you (ghosting is when they suddenly stop contacting you without explanation)
  • You’ll place more of them in the right jobs that will make them happier long-term

That’s why when you’re networking and phoning, you need to be likable.

So how can you be more likable?

Here are a few of the most important things:

  • Smile and be warm
  • Be positive
  • Be interested in others
  • Be reliable
  • Be generous

Likability improves all your relationships. Some people are naturally likable…

The rest of us find our attractiveness increases when we continuously work on it.

Increase your likability every day and you’ll attract more people!

Are you showing how likable your corporate culture is?

Why should people work there? Strive to answer these questions with text and images of your workplace:

  • What are the teams like? How do people work together? Will they include me?
  • Who works there? Are they like me? Will they like me? Will I like them? How diverse is the workforce?
  • How formal or casual is it? How do they dress? Does it fit my personality and lifestyle?
  • What is the leadership like? How do they manage? Do people like them? How do people feel working for them?
  • What are the mission and values of the organization? Are they for real, or just words? How does that play out in everyday work?
  • How are customers treated? How do employees feel about that?
  • What are the hours, flex time, remote work, vacation and benefits like?

Make your company culture visible and you’ll attract the right people to it!

#2. Grab More Attention With Better Content

If can’t get people’s attention, you can’t get anything done!

If you can’t grab candidates’s attention, you have no chance of them getting interested enough in your opportunity for them to desire to work there.

Hiring managers are busy, too… just like everybody.

We all have all kinds of things pulling at our attention all the time.

There’s a global attention deficit.

If you don’t stand out, you don’t stand a chance.

Boring people and companies get ignored.

So, how do you break through the noise and get the attention of hiring managers and candidates?

Depending on how you get in front of people- phone, in person, LinkedIn, Facebook, advertising, search marketing, email- you have different options.

  • If you can use images, use faces, because they attract the eye like a magnet.
  • If you’re fun, that can a nice change of pace. Fun in the right context is a real differentiator.
  • Use the likability techniques mentioned above.
  • Create authority by developing and displaying: education, degrees, experience, testimonials and references, popularity, media mentions and association or work with famous brands or people. The more your “credibility markers” come from the industry of your target person, the more authority you’ll appear to have.
  • Create content that’s helpful and easy to digest. The most popular format are: blogs, videos and whitepapers.

Do something to stand out more today, and you’ll attract more candidates.

#3. Reach More Candidates With Search Marketing

How do you get in front of more candidates?

There are two major ways to reach people online: search engines and social media. In this tip, we’ll talk about search, and we’ll talk about social in the next one.

Many people automatically SEARCH Google or Bing or Yahoo when looking for things. That includes searching for jobs, recruiters and employment.

Are you showing up in the search engine results when they search for that stuff?

If you’re not, you need SEO (Search Engine Optimization) or you should be placing search engine ads via Google and Bing.

Search engine optimization can be a long, challenging adventure. You should definitely work on it, but it’s a long-term investment. Expect for it to take years to pay off big, even if you’re a rock star at it. Here are some of the things you need to think about for SEO:

  • What keywords are job candidates searching for? Are they on your website? Research the keywords with Google Ads’s Keyword Planner tool.
  • Do you create new, useful content frequently? Do you have a blog? Create one and blog at least weekly.
  • Are authoritative websites linking to your website and increasing your authority in Google’s eyes? Share your blog posts via your social networks, and use HARO to get your opinions in blogs and the media, which will get you new links frequently.

If you can afford to spend money on Google Ads, you should.

Showing up for the keywords your candidates are already searching for is critical.

Google Ads are complicated, and you will need training or you should hire an expert freelancer or agency. Try a site like Upwork if you want to find a freelance advertising expert.

Show up when people search for keywords and you’ll attract more candidates!

#4. Reach More Candidates With Social Recruiting Ads

Not all of your ideal candidates are searching the search engines.

To reach many of them, you’ll need to get in front of them even when they’re not looking.

I think of this as interruptive marketing. You’re showing up for the right people with an important message they need to hear.

Maybe it’s a message that will really help them, but they didn’t think to search for it. You’re helping them out by interrupting them.

Interrupting may sound bad, but it’s ok to interrupt if your message is relevant and helpful. It’s being interrupted by irrelevant things that we really dislike. If you’re solving a career or life problem for them, they may love your ad! They’ll be grateful for it.

One of the best ways to do this is to run ads on social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook that can target people by job titles, education, seniority and industry.

Business-to-business social advertising targeting of this sort is very powerful… because you’re getting in front of your ideal job candidate.

Naturally, you need to interrupt them with a compelling message: what’s so great about your job or your corporate culture? Convince them. Use video if you have to.

When you interrupt the ideal candidates with compelling social ads, you attract more ideal employees! 

#5. Learn and Improve Your Approach By Listening To The Data

We’ve all heard about big data and algorithms. You probably have access to some data.

But are you using data to improve your business results?

These days, data is a powerful way to listen to people’s behavior and preferences.

We can look at data to see if people are responding, and how much.

We can find out if our approaches are good enough and if they need to change.

So, ask yourself: What data do you have? Are you using it?

It’s different for everybody…

In recruiting, we frequently find data insights like:

  • How to get more job applications: Website analytics can tell us which web pages and blog posts drive more job applications, and which ones don’t.
  • How to make your workplace sound more compelling to candidates: Advertising analytics can tell us which things about our workplace culture are more attractive to candidates than others.
  • How to understand your candidates and influence them: Social engagement data that tells us which feelings and problems and desires have the biggest emotional charge for candidates.
  • How to know which recruiters are most effective so you can increase your organizational effectiveness: HR CRM data that tells us which recruiters convert the highest percentage of candidates into placed employees.

When you find insights in the data, you increase your power to attract more candidates and employees!

Wrap Up

We’ve covered the five most important things you can do to solve your workforce resource problems. If you:

  1. Increase your likability to attract more candidates
  2. Grab more attention with better content
  3. Reach more candidates with search marketing
  4. Reach more candidates with social recruiting ads
  5. Learn and improve by listening to the data…

Then you’ll attract more job applicants, more ideal candidates and more people who already like the organizational culture. They’ll come in excited and ready to grow it. And that will empower the entire company achieve its mission and goals.

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!

10 Ways to Avoid Getting Duped By Internet Con-Men

Not all con-men are obvious.

Some of them are quite successful and well-regarded.

But they’re still con-men.

The best con-men… you’d never think of them as one. You’d never consider it. They go by different labels.

Some con-men call themselves authors, teachers, marketers, salespeople and speakers.

I once almost got sucked into a cult.

I’ve wasted thousands of dollars on online courses.

How about you?

Have you ever let someone’s confidence and big promises open your wallet and waste your time and money?

There are a lot of con-men in online marketing

Not surprising, is it?

Marketers love being persuasive and learning more about influence.

Some well-known teachers and authors are actually con-men.

They make big promises, take your money and you don’t end up with much in return.

People who are taken in by con-men feel hopeful and motivated for a while.

Hope can be valuable. Who wants to be depressed?

But the con-man’s promised future never materializes.

His system or tool or strategy doesn’t yield the big changes in your life or business that got you all excited.

Even if the con-man helps you make some progress, it’s not to the degree they promised.

Maybe they said you could become a millionaire but you barely broke even with their plan. In fact, considering what you spent, you’re in the hole!

Maybe they offered you a magical new tool that was supposed to solve all your problems, and then you found out it wasn’t that simple. You needed training, or experience or had to hire someone to help you do it.

Maybe you didn’t take action, plus now you have credit card debt from buying it! You might blame yourself for your inaction. That guilt and fear is why many people don’t ask for refunds. But maybe you didn’t take action because you knew deep down there was something wrong with the training.

So how widespread is the con?

What I discovered

I’m a searcher.

For the last two decades, in order to learn what really works online and what doesn’t, I’ve been…

  • Exploring and trying things
  • Taking courses
  • Reading books
  • Doing experiments, and
  • Analyzing the results.

I always share what I’ve learned with my readers, podcast listeners and keynote audiences.

I naturally love learning and testing things out, and I keep discovering:

There are tons of BS, myths, lies, and things that just simply don’t work.

In fact,

There are more things that don’t work than things that do.

That’s why I keep testing everything to see what really works.

One of the topics that keeps coming up for me is con-men…

I believe that:

Con-men are one of the most destructive forces in the marketing and sales world.

Con-men can be women, too, but what should we call them: “con people?”

Con people? You mean inmates?

They should be inmates!

But more often, many of them continue to steal money from unsuspecting business people without any real consequence.

The con-man can turn their criminal past into a selling point.

Even con-men who’ve been fined by the Federal Trade Commission just get smarter about how to bend the rules. They continue to fool a lot of people.

In fact, your con-man may be totally upfront about their FTC fines and use it to persuade you even more!

People who are aware of a con-man’s shady past make two common mistakes:

Mistake #1: Being too forgiving. “They’ve changed! Let’s give them a chance.”

Mistake #2: Thinking they can get something from the con-man without being the bigger loser. “I’m smart enough to play with fire without getting burned!”

Wrong.

What is a cult of personality?

I know about cons personally, because I almost got sucked into a cult in my early twenties. It was a very disorienting experience.

It led me to study cults and con-men, so that I could understand how I had almost been convinced, and arm myself against that kind of thing repeating in the future.

I thought this experience had totally immunized me against con-men.

I became extremely skeptical about people who have magnetic personalities and are naturally persuasive.

And by the way,  charisma is a gift.

But charisma, likability and influence are powers that can be abused, and often are, by those who have them.

What’s stopping from abusing their power? Everyone is telling them they’re awesome!

A cult of personality is when someone uses things like mass media, propaganda, the big lie, spectacle, and the arts to create an idealized, heroic, and worshipful image of a leader, often through unquestioning flattery and praise.

We have all kinds of heroes. We love heroes.

We want to see people rise. We want to follow great people.

But the “cult” personality and the con-man is a lie.

For me personally, it turned out that the near-cult-experience was not enough to immunize me to con-men.

The online course con.

I ended up buying a couple of those $1,000 online courses when I started my new freelance business in 2010 (what eventually became my agency, BCG).

I was in a vulnerable place, because I had been let go from a great job, and I was afraid I might not make it solo.

I got sucked in by con-man confidence and promises.

It turned out to be a complete waste of money. The teaching wasn’t bad, but the strategies were not nearly as effective as the teachers promised.

Now, don’t get me wrong- there are some super useful courses out there and many teachers with great integrity.

But

Some of the big names in internet marketing courses are con-men who are better at selling the promise of value than actually delivering it.

Still, finding out those two courses were lame was not enough for me to fully learn the lesson.

“I’ll show you how to get what you want- first just compromise your morals a little.”

A year or two later, I bought a course that promised to teach how to get high-paying clients.

Once I got it and started learning, I realized that the guy’s system could plausibly work… if you were ok with lying to people!

I wasn’t comfortable with it at all. I asked for and received a refund.

“Turn your life story into a lie.”

I’ve been in this online marketing world for 18 years now, and I’ve seen a lot of gurus, authors, speakers, marketers and teachers come and go.

And some who should go who, shockingly, continue to stick around.

I’ve actually saw a video where a guy was teaching marketers how to be better liars…

He was a storytelling expert who has great information. I had a ton of respect for his story structure expertise.

But he was recommending that marketers outright LIE about their personal stories to increase the sales impact.

At that point I lost all respect for him.

Why are con-men successful?

I’ve seen con-men

  • Get complained about online,
  • Reported to the Better Business Bureau,
  • Exposed in blog posts…

Yet they keep going, lying and successfully making money because:

Con men leverage our weakness for confidence.

“How could they be so confident if they weren’t genuine?”
They’re super confident and we love confident people.
But the best liars are extremely confident.
Any the mac daddy version of this is the con-man who sells courses to help you become more confident…

There are a lot of gullible rookies.

“There’s a sucker born every minute.”
There are 6 million new small businesses created in the U.S. each year.
These rookie business owners don’t have the experience to avoid getting suckered.

Some people are addicted…

“This time is different.”
Some people just don’t learn from getting suckered over and over again.
Just like gambling addicts, they’re addicted to cults of personality.

The three things are the main reasons con-men keep making money online.

Con-men in the marketing world

I’ve seen con-men get published by the big publishing houses. I’ve seen them get chosen as speakers at big conferences. I’ve seen them claim to make millions.

I had some of my own research and work stolen by a fairly well-respected social media author. He talked about my research in his book without giving me any credit whatsoever. And when I confronted the guy, he had absolutely no remorse. He wasn’t willing to change anything to make it right. And he said that my confronting him about it was “annoying.” I found out later from a friend in the business that this same guy has stolen multiple people’s work. This is his modus operandi. Instead of following the responsible academic method of giving credit where credit is due, he played fast and loose with other people’s work for his own gain. This is a guy that many people respect, and nobody knows his true character. He’s built his reputation up by stealing other people’s work and accomplishments. It’s dishonest and unfair, but he still does well.

Another guy was exposed by multiple bloggers for being a fraud. He said it was a misunderstanding. Of course, they will always say they did nothing wrong. He started several businesses and took their money and never did the work for it. He built his company with workers who were young, insecure, gullible and cheap, if not free. Clearly, he had not changed his stripes. Still, a large conference was charmed by the guy and not only had him speak but recommended him to me as an authority. I felt I couldn’t bad-mouth the guy even though the conference was being suckered by a con-man. It is amazing how our sense of decency keeps us from warning others about bad eggs.

How do you stop a con man?

It’s tough. If you want to be the cranky guy who is calling everybody else out, yeah, try that.

Maybe people won’t dismiss you for just being “negative.”

That might work out. Or you could get sued for libel.

People may not believe you.

Once someone is “big” and respected by a lot of people, we tend to give them the benefit of the doubt. Politicians exploit this all the time. If they are confident and deny all accusations, then the people that want to believe in them will defend them.

It’s he-said-she-said, and you have to choose who to trust, and typically, we trust people who have authority and confidence.

However…

  • Their confidence may come from narcissism. They may be a sociopath. Many sociopaths are charming.
  • Their authority may be a house of lies. Is anyone checking it? And again, we get into a he-said-she-said, and people take sides.

Why do we fall for it?

  • If they’re attractive
  • If they’re rich
  • If they’re successful
  • If they’re tall
  • If they’re likable
  • If we think they will help us reach our dreams
  • If we’ve invested money in them and we’re embarrassed to admit we made a mistake…

…then we stand by our favorite con-men. We’re complicit in their lying and stealing.

That’s why this is such a sticky problem.

Cons work, we get sucked in, and con-men aren’t being stopped.

That’s why I made this list…

10 Ways to Avoid Getting Duped By Internet Con-Men

#1 Google them.

Do your due diligence.

If you’re accepting a teacher or mentor, you’re making a huge decision. Is this person really worthy of your trust and money, or are they just a slick lie?

  • Do they have any criminal history?
  • FTC judgments?
  • Complaints from people in the blogosphere? Look for any review sites you can and read up on them.
  • Use a tool like Moz’s link explorer to see if their main website has any links and authority- or is it totally new?

#2 If they’re an author, read their Amazon book reviews.

Check their reviews of their books on Amazon.

Even if they have 100’s of 5 star reviews, that can be faked.

There are sites like Fiverr where authors can pay people to post book reviews they themselves have written. Do the reviews seem authentic? Would a real person write that? Or do the reviews sound like marketing material?

Read the 1, 2 and 3 star reviews. Do any of these people find the 5-star reviews suspicious?

If previous readers think the 5-star book reviews are a lie, then I would pass on that book and author.

Here’s more about how to spot fake reviews.

#3 Beware the millionaire bait.

Copywriters know that people get more excited by a “millionaire method” than by a system that helps you break 6-figures.

Think big, right?

Wrong.

Most millionaire methods are BS. Most people have a much better chance of making 6-figures in business than becoming a millionaire.

And food for thought: the research says

People don’t get happier after they make more than $105k. In many cases, they get unhappier.

So it might not be smart to strive to be a millionaire anyway.

That’s not a popular sentiment, and that’s why con-men can make so much money promising you millions.

We all want an easy way out of work and into a life where we get everything we want. That’s how con-men hook you.

Becoming a millionaire is not reality for most people, but people don’t want reality.

They want to live their dream. They want positive inspiration.

Odds are, this person has not actually discovered a system that will make everyone a millionaire.

What’s the catch?

What aren’t they telling you?

Where are all these millionaires they’ve created? Can you talk to them?

What percentage of people achieved that?

What percentage failed?

Is the only millionaire the one who made money selling everybody the idea of becoming a millionaire?

#4 Check their case studies and testimonials.

Have they helped any students achieve the things they’re promising you?

Do they have testimonials? Could those testimonials have been faked? Is there any way to verify these people?

Try doing a Google image search of any testimonials from “regular” people. You might find something like this:

Google the people in the testimonials and see if you find real people who’ve achieved things.

If you do find real people, contact them and ask them about the guru, author or teacher you’re considering.

Did these real success story people struggle at all?

Is this testimonial person in their affiliate program and make money on the guru’s stuff? If so, they are incentivized to lie about the guru. Or at least stretch the truth, and gloss over the challenges.

In fact, even though affiliate marketing is a valid strategy, many of the con-men I’ve seen use affiliates, so having an affiliate program may be a red flag.

I know, this is work!

But it will save you a lot of money, time and heartache in the long run.

Please do it.

#5 Check their academic references.

Do they have anything to back up their claims? Research? Studies? Surveys? Click on their references and find out if they’re real.

#6 Do they have the endorsement of trustworthy people?

Almost anybody can put up a landing page with fake testimonials from people you’ve never heard of.

What’s harder is to get positive quotes from real authorities.

Keep in mind, before you decide that a quote from so-and-so is a big deal, some of these con-men go in groups. They all endorse each other, so they all seem to have a lot of authority together. But all of them are lying and cheating to some degree. There are groups of con-men helping each other look more credible so they can all fleece people.

#7 Have they published with a traditional publisher?

Anyone can self-publish. What’s harder to do is to get published by a big, traditional publisher (examples include McGraw-Hill, Pearson and Wiley).

These publishers vet authors pretty thoroughly to make sure they’re for real.

Still, some of the minor con-men slip through- or an author may get traditionally published before they try to con anybody online.

So this one alone is not enough.

#8 Do they teach at an accredited college or university?

Anyone can create their own course.

Few people teach for real universities or colleges where they live.

Again, these institutions will vet their prospective professors.

#9 Do they have mentions or interviews with the big name press and media?

Anyone can blog.

Fewer people are able to get on TV and into the big-name magazines and newspapers.

Editors and producers are skeptical and know that their own credibility can be permanently damaged by trusting the wrong source.

If someone has been in big-name press and media multiple times, there’s a good chance they’ve been checked out by multiple skeptical editors.

#10 Watch your emotions.

There’s really no 100% foolproof way to be sure. But you can watch your own emotions, if you trust them.

If you:

  • Start believing this person and their system or tool is the key to your future.
  • Think, “this is the only way.”
  • Are afraid there’s a limited amount of time, or the seller is using false urgency to get you to act.
  • Are afraid, “If I miss out on this, I’m screwed.”
  • Are afraid they might be lying…

…then take a breath and sleep on it. A lot of these guys motivate through fear and urgency.

If you’re feeling adrenalized and stressed, you won’t make the right decision.

Talk to some people about it. Be careful: con-men isolate you from other influences. They tell you that your friends and family won’t understand because they’re not winners or don’t want you to succeed. This keeps you from hearing any second-opinions on the con-man’s ideas.

You need to be patient, take your time, talk to people and make the right decision.

Ask the seller to give you more time. If they won’t, ask why not. These guys are really good at coming up with plausible reasons. Ask them to make an exception. If they won’t, then they probably aren’t a good partner for you.

Sometimes they say, “I only want to work with decisive people.”

Why is that?

“Because they take action.”

Well, that’s pretty convenient for the seller, since that action is you giving them money.

Don’t let them manipulate you.

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!

Gen Z Jobs, Advertising and Social Media Behavior

Gen Z is coming. Gen Z is here.

Millennials have been a big challenge to employers, just as every new generation is. We are still grappling with that, and now Gen Z is coming right behind them.

Who are they? How are they different?

I don’t want to make the mistake with Gen Z many made with Millennials.

It took a decade to overcome bad Millennial stereotypes and accept that everyone is unique.

Let’s stick to the facts and treat everyone like a real person.

Also, Gen Z is young (anyone born from 1997 on), and when looking at any generation in their youth, we should always consider:

  • How much of what they’re doing is what young people do, and how much is truly characteristic of their generation?
  • How much of their behavior will change as they adapt to other generations, the workforce and mainstream society?
  • How much will change as they age and their priorities change due to work, marriage, children and family?

We can look at Gen Z’s 18-21 year olds, the ones in the workforce.

As you can see from those age ranges, a lot of Gen Z have not even had a chance to finish college yet.

A lot will change for them over the next 5-10 years.

Facebook Insights & Facebook Ad Manager Data on Gen Z

This data comes from the Facebook Audience Insights and the Facebook Ad Manager. The reason I use this is that it’s freely available, live data on 230 million monthly American users.

A lot of it comes from their regular life and online activity, not from an artificial survey with all the usual flaws of market research.

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

Gen Z Job Titles

There are above average numbers of Gen Z working in these job areas:

  • Food and restaurants
  • Sales
  • Farming, fishing and forestry
  • Protective services
  • Military
  • Personal and home care services
  • Transportation and moving
  • Administrative services

There are below average numbers of Gen Z in these job areas:

  • Government
  • Computation and math
  • IT and tech
  • Business and finance
  • Community and social service
  • Architecture and engineering

In this particular list, you see mostly jobs that require a college degree, for which Gen Z is currently too young. These likely will change a lot within 5 years when a they’re out of college.

Gen Z Social Media Behavior

Gen Z share posts at the same rate as other generations. Sharing is a positive action that says, “I accept your lifestyle or attitude or idea and want to affirm and spread it.”

Something that’s interesting about Gen Z social media behavior is that they’re less likely to write text comments on posts than other generations. This may be related to a desire for privacy.

Gen Z and Advertisements

Gen Z like fewer posts and click on fewer ads than previous generations.

It’s possible that advertisers aren’t advertising much to Gen Z and haven’t learned how to do it well.

Advertisers tend to advertise to people with money, or influencers of the sale- there has been hesitation to advertise even to Millennials, since Gen X and Boomers still have most of the money- let alone Gen Z, who is barely entering the workforce. Millennials sometimes say they don’t like to “be targeted,” and Gen Z may feel the same way.

This is going to require clever marketing content and adaptation to a new generation. I doubt this has been addressed yet, because most companies are still struggling to fully adapt their marketing to Millennials, let alone to Gen Z.

Gen Z Device Usage, Smartphone Usage and Computer Usage

In terms of device preferences, as you might expects, they prefer smartphones over computers or iPads. Even more interesting, the Gen Z on Facebook prefer iPhones over Androids.

If we look at Facebook vs Instagram users, we can look at ages 13-21.

  • There are 22 million on Facebook
  • There are 20 million on Instagram
  • So, the numbers are fairly equal, with a slight edge to Facebook. Gen Z is the only generation this close. When you look at 18-24 year olds, there are 35 million on FB and 29 million on IG. There are 55 million 25-34 year olds on FB and 40 million on IG. The gap widens with age.

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

For more on that, read this article.

5 Reasons Facebook Ads Outperform Instagram Ads

Facebook hasn’t had the best year so far, have they?

The Cambridge Analytics data scandal, rumors of youth departing Facebook for Instagram & Snapchat, the fact that Instagram seems new & exciting…

You can’t blame people for wondering if Facebook is over and Instagram might be the new thing, can you?

Is Facebook marketing over or is Instagram marketing better? If so, how should we market on Instagram?

What’s All The Hype About Instagram?

People love the idea of Instagram marketing because:

  • You can advertise on Instagram though the Facebook ad platform, one of the two best ad platforms in the world.
  • There are stats and rumors about young people leaving Facebook for Instagram and Snapchat… but Instagram is easier to market with than Snapchat, so if you’re chasing the youth market, Instagram seems to make sense. However, please keep in mind that for every age group, Facebook still has more users than Instagram.
  • Instagram’s audience is younger than Facebook on average.
  • Instagram posts and ads are much more positive, inspirational and lifestyle-oriented than Facebook’s, which can be political, negative, cranky and salesy at their worst.

Are Instagram Ads More Effective or More Affordable?

This kind of benchmark data hasn’t been released by some of the bigger clearinghouses like Wordstream yet, but that I can give you a sampling of what we’ve see from our campaigns and our clients. This data comes from multiple industries and represents nearly 20 million very recent ad impressions as of June 2018:

Metric definitions:

  • CPM = Cost per impression
  • CPC = Cost per click
  • CTR = Clickthrough Rate
  • CPE = Cost per engagement
  • CP10SVV = Cost per 10-second video view

The normal Facebook video view is only 3 seconds. We believe that these are often merely glances, not true “views,” so we prefer to measure 10-second views.

5 Insights from the Facebook and Instagram Ad Data

Let’s compare some of the data from the chart and see what we can learn.

1. Brand Visibility Costs Less With Facebook Ads Than Instagram Ads 

You’ll get more marketing awareness for your dollar on Facebook than Instagram. Facebook usually gets you more affordable visibility (CPM’s) than Instagram ads.

2. Website Traffic Is More Affordable With Facebook Ads Than Instagram Ads 

Facebook clearly has the better cost per clicks (CPC’s) overall. However, Instagram Stories and Facebook Messenger click costs can rival some of the better Facebook ad CPC’s.

3. People Click At A Higher Rate on Facebook Mobile Ads Than On Instagram Ads (Which Are Always Mobile)

When we look at clickthrough rates, people click about 3x as much in the Facebook mobile news feed (1.58% CTR) as they do in Instagram (0.51% CTR).

People are more interested in clicking (tapping) on Facebook ads from their smartphones than they are in clicking on Instagram ads.

People click 67% less often on Instagram ads than they do on Facebook ads.

This behavior may change over time if Instagram users come to accept ads more, or as advertisers get better at making their Instagram ads fit Instagram’s unique ethos and attitude.

We don’t believe that the lower ad CTR on Instagram is related to the lower average age of Instagram users, because when you look at Facebook Audience Insights data for younger users, even though you do see a lower ad-clicking activity from 18-34 year olds (about 7% less) and even lower from 18-25 year olds (about 20% less), those dips in ad-clicking activity are not nearly as extreme as the 67% difference we’re seeing in this data.

4. People Engage More With Facebook Ads Than With Instagram Ads

Facebook ads are still the king of affordable engagement (CPE).

The Facebook news feed’s ad engagements are 40-70% more affordable than Instagram.

This may surprise you, since there are other public stats showing that Instagram is generally more engaging than Facebook. This is true for individual user accounts, but what we’re looking at here is how engaging ads are on Instagram (or how engaged users are with ads), and not how engaging the average user’s posts are.

5. Video Views Are More Affordable With Facebook Ads Than Instagram Ads

Facebook is also winning at cost per video view.

Again, it could be that Instagram users are not appreciating ads overall, or that the people creating the videos haven’t figured out how to tailor them to the Instagram environment or user.

What About Leads and Sales Performance?

I left conversion data out of the above chart, because it’s harder to compare apples-to-apples on leads and sales across multiple clients in multiple industries. The benchmarks can be so different, not just in B2B vs B2C but in each industry.

However, our anecdotal experience from multiple clients gives us strong indications that:

  • Facebook ads convert at higher rates for leads and sales than Instagram ads.
  • Facebook ads can drive a higher volume of leads and sales than Instagram ads (more impressions and clicks are available on Facebook).
  • Because the CPM’s and CPC’s in Facebook are lower and the conversion rates are higher, your costs-per-lead and costs-per-sale will typically be lower from Facebook ads than from Instagram ads.

We almost always have some ads running on Instagram for clients, unless it’s hurting overall performance. However, the contribution of Instagram ads to leads and sales overall has not been big. The overwhelming majority of results come from Facebook placements, not Instagram ones.

Takeaways

Does the fact that Facebook ads are more effective than Instagram ads mean you shouldn’t market on Instagram?

Not at all!

Instagram is a unique and promising social network for marketers, and likely will grow in value to businesses over time.

And for those who are marketing organically without ads, Instagram may be a very effective option.

However, for advertisers, Facebook is still far and above the more effective network and, for most businesses, should represent a much larger ad spend investment than Facebook.

There are always exceptions- there are certain types of businesses that may find Instagram more effective, and if you “crack the code,” so to speak with a clever ad concept, you may find yourself getting amazing results.

You should absolutely experiment with Instagram ads if you feel it makes sense for you.

And as you read above, Instagram story ads may be a real CPC opportunity for website clicks.

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!