10 Critical Items for Your Next Marketing Plan Audit

When’s the last time you had your marketing plan audited by an outside expert?

You do have a marketing plan, right?

Why would you need an audit?

  • Sometimes an organization’s ideas can get a bit stale, over time
  • A company can develop an echo chamber in their own culture, and convince themselves of things that may or may not be true
  • Not everybody has heard of all the latest greatest best practices

And when you’re out of touch, that’s a recipe for

  • Losing business to the competition
  • Losing the interest of your customers
  • People starting to think you’re no longer relevant

Unfortunately, if you aren’t current, people may question everything else about your business.

“If they’re not doing THIS great idea, what other good things are they not doing?”

The marketing plan audit we did for The Perfect Workout led to them discovering a new source of leads and sales, and a 400% ROI.

So, in the spirit of making sure that your marketing plan is up-to-date, here are 10 things you need to have SOMEBODY from the outside take a look at:

  1. Are you 100% sure that your pixels and tracking are installed correctly and that your data is accurate?
  2. According to your website analytics, what marketing source is driving the most conversions? What landing pages drive the most conversions? Is your organic traffic increasing over time?
  3. Are you aware of all the third party performance benchmark reports (on things like advertising, email and landing pages) out there, and is your performance at least average, if not better?
  4. Are you on the most important social platforms for your target customers? Are you advertising there? In your social advertising, are you creating new ad ideas each month? Have you tested new targeting this quarter?
  5. Are your email open rates hitting industry standard levels? Are you split-testing new subject lines? Have you checked on deliverability and blacklist issues to be sure you’re OK?
  6. Do you have someone who loves writing creative copy and is constantly testing new ideas on your audience through ads, emails, and landing pages?
  7. How many people do you need to reach to achieve your lead gen or sales goals, and are you actually reaching that many people?
  8. Are you using all the advanced Google ad technologies that make sense, like responsive ads, site links and other extensions, and call tracking?
  9. Does your website look and function equally well on every mobile device as it does on desktop, and do your analytics support that answer?
  10. Do you have a content plan that fits your platforms and goals? Is your brand flexible enough to allow the creation of diverse and compelling content? Is your content plan informed by SEO research? If you have a content calendar, is it flexible enough to change based on what your analytics insights tell you? Have you found a way to create at least some kind of new video with some frequency for use in social media and ads?

These are a few of the questions that a good marketing plan audit will answer.

And from there, you can revise and improve your marketing plan, and get better results for your business!

10 Reasons You’re Not Getting More Business

Do you want more new business?

Let’s face it- if you’re not getting new business, you’re at risk. The existing customers could dry up. A recession could hit. Who knows what could happen!

So, if your new business growth is not where you’d like it to be, what’s wrong?

Here are 10 things that could be blocking your organization’s customer growth.

BUSINESS BLOCKER #1: You’re not getting enough attention

If not enough people are giving you money, or buying from you, or inquiring, or coming into your store… do they even know you exist? Do they remember you exist?

You need to get people’s attention, then interest, then desire, and only then will they take action.

How many people’s attention does your business have right now?

  • How many ad impressions do you get a month? How many people do you reach?
  • How many emails from you do people open?
  • How many outbound sales calls does your org make?
  • How many leads do you get?

Even more importantly- how much is enough?

A simple rule is that you need to reach 1,000x as many people as you want customers, and you need to get their attention 5x before you can expect anything from them.

BUSINESS BLOCKER #2: You’re not getting enough traffic

Most businesses rely on website, store or phone activity to get new business.

  • How much website traffic are you getting per day?
  • How many people call a day?
  • How many people are visiting your store daily?

You need 100x as much traffic as however many customers you want.

BUSINESS BLOCKER #3: Your website doesn’t convert people to leads or sales

A lot of people have nice looking but ineffective websites. They don’t even know what their website conversion rate is. That’s like driving without knowing how fast you’re going.

And even worse, if you don’t generate enough traffic, you can’t find out if your website is the problem.

BUSINESS BLOCKER #4: Nobody wants what you offer

For newer businesses, if they’ve never sold at volume, they have an unproven product or service.

The first question to answer is- does anybody want this? Will they pay for it?

Then you can answer WHO will pay for it.

And in order to find out if they want it you have to get in front of them or get people to it.

BUSINESS BLOCKER #5: You’re not aggressive enough about promotion

If you build it, and that’s all, they won’t come.

Marketing and sales are about driving attention, interest and desire.

Some people aren’t aggressive enough- they choose only passive strategies like SEO or content creation.

If you’re not doing something outbound like advertising, networking, or outbound SDR, you’re going nowhere fast.

BUSINESS BLOCKER #6: You’re afraid to spend money

You have to spend money to make money. Why do you think all these new businesses want funding? Making money is expensive.

Attention, traffic and leads cost money. You have to spend it.

That can be hardest at the beginning, but even when times are tight, you have to keep investing. Businesses that pull back on promotion when things are down just end up going down even faster.

BUSINESS BLOCKER #7: You don’t have a creative solution

Content marketing is important for a lot of reasons, but it requires creating that content.

Ads and emails are powerful ways to get attention and traffic, but they require creative copywriting.

Ads, websites and landing pages are compelling ways to get new business, but you need to have an eye for graphic art, and an understanding of how creative affects customer psychology.

Creative skills and resources are critical. And they are often missing from many marketing plans and departments.

As a result, organizations show up in the marketplace looking and sounding mediocre, and fail to impress.

BUSINESS BLOCKER #8: You don’t have a scientific mindset

Business used to be a guessing game. But now we have data, especially online.

We get insights and reports that tell us what works and what doesn’t so that we waste less money and get a bigger response from customers.

If you’re not trying a lot of creative, copy, and new ideas, and learning from what the data says about the customer response, you’re stuck in the old paradigm, you won’t be able to be competitive, and eventually you’ll be replaced by newer companies and people.

BUSINESS BLOCKER #9: You don’t put enough time in

Sometimes we don’t have enough resources to do what needs to be done with sales and marketing.

Sometimes things are going well, so we coast.

The most talented people have drive. The best companies have lots of people who have drive. They are internally motivated to keep doing more and getting better everyday.

BUSINESS BLOCKER #10: You’re not continuously learning

The only constant is change.

Even when digital marketing and sales were young 10 years ago, there was a ton to learn in this space. But it doesn’t stop. Things continue to advance and get more complicated.

What worked 10 years ago may not work now- for example, SEO is much, much harder for new companies as a viable traffic source.

And what wasn’t a good idea 10 years ago might be now- for example, so many companies have gone online with lead gen, that fewer people are cold calling, and sometimes it works better than it did in 2000 or 2010.

You and your marketing and sales people must keep learning- must keep getting training, must keep reading, getting mentored, and going to conferences…

But only if you want to get and stay on top.

camera lens

Which Social Platform Is Right For Your Next Video Marketing Campaign?

Are you thinking about marketing with video in social media, but not sure which platform will get you the best results for your videos? Well, you’re on the right track and asking the right questions because…

Customers LOVE Video:

  • 85% of Americans watch videos online. [comScore]
  • 45% of people watch more than 1 hour of Facebook or YouTube videos per week. [Wordstream]
  • 92 percent of mobile video viewers share videos with others. [Invodo]

And Video Drives Business:

  • Viewers are 85% more likely to purchase a product after watching a product video. [Internet Retailer]
  • 52% of consumers say that watching product videos makes them more confident in their online purchase decisions. [Internet Retailer]

But There Are So Many Video Platforms!

Where should you publish your videos? There are so many platforms to choose from!

Just to name a few:

  • YouTube videos
  • Facebook videos
  • Instagram videos
  • Snapchat videos
  • LinkedIn videos
  • Twitter videos
  • Pinterest videos

Can you really create and post video on all the platforms… especially when they all have different specs and requirements?

All the Specs & Requirements for the Major Video Platforms

Each platform has different requirements for video size, size ratios, lengths… and they each treat audio and captions differently.

Horizontal Video

  • YouTube: 16:9 or 4:3 ratio, 854 x 480 pixels, 12 to 360 seconds, audio on by default.
  • Facebook: 16:9, 600 pixel minimum width, 720p, up to 240 minutes, but average view length is 15 seconds, audio muted by default, so captions are a great idea!
  • LinkedIn: 4:3 or 16:9, up to 30 seconds, but the best are under 15 seconds, audio muted by default.
  • Twitter: 16:9 or 1:1 ratio, 640 x 360 pixels, 140 seconds.

Square Video 

  • Instagram: 1:1, 600 x 315 pixels, 16 second maximum, audio muted by default, captions are a great idea.
  • Twitter can be square too, as you see above…
  • Something to consider- some tests say people respond more to square videos on mobile while horizontal videos perform better on desktop, regardless of platform. https://blog.bufferapp.com/square-video-vs-landscape-video.

Vertical Video

  • Snapchat: canvas fullscreen: 9:16 ratio, 1080 x 1920 pixels, 3-10 seconds, audio on by default; expand to long form with different video.
  • Pinterest: 9:16 ratio, 240 pixels wide min, up to 30 minutes.

For more details, check out this infographic on video specs.

(And I’ll come back to this topic later for the question- is there a way to create one or two videos that work for all of these? There is!)

Can You Get Big Video Exposure & Results Without Ads?

Some marketers may think, “I’ll just post my videos on all the networks! Then we’ll be good, right? I’ll get tons of exposure!”

A good idea, but not always true in practice.

Are you looking at your actual stats to see how many people you do reach with unpaid social video?

Most people are surprised by their actual reach numbers- it’s not as many as they thought!

Is your actual reach anywhere near the number of potential customers you need to reach?

Wait- how many customers do you need to reach?

How many customers are out there for you and how many should you be reaching?

Most businesses haven’t given thought to having actual quantified awareness goals.

When you start to think about the 10,000’s, 100,000’s, or perhaps 1,000,000’s of potential customers you want to reach…

And when you ask yourself: “How often do I want my future customers to hear from me so that I make an impression in their brains and they don’t forget about me?”…

“And how many times do they have to see me before they take me seriously and want to buy from me?”

You begin to realize that serious weekly or monthly reach goals are hard to achieve without advertising.

A few people are lucky enough to strike on some type of content that quickly gets them a lot of exposure, but most businesses have a harder time creating great content that can sustain itself without a little push.

Some businesses choose to only do unpaid social because they don’t have an ad budget or they think they can get away with saving the money, but our experience with the data and case studies of the successes and failures indicates that advertising gives you a much better chance of success because of three major factors…

3 Reasons Video Advertising Rocks

  1. YOU GET IN FRONT OF THE RIGHT PEOPLE: Do you want to be sure you reach your target customer? That can be a challenge when you go unpaid only. There are specific audiences that are very hard to reach that all but require the targeting features of ad networks to get in front of: for example, people outside your brand’s connections, many B2B targets, and the people who are on social media less often or are less active.
  2. YOU REACH ENOUGH PEOPLE: If a YouTube video plays in a forest and no one is around, does it make a sound? If you want to be sure people see your video, ads help out a lot. You can’t control how many people see your video- look at your reach and impressions, and compare that to even a small-spend ad campaign, and you quickly see how limited unpaid reach is in most cases.
  3. YOU GET BUSINESS RESULTS: If you want significant views, traffic and sales from your videos, ads are important. Ad platforms give you an environment to look at multiple creative at the same time and discover which resonates best with your target audience. You’ll know for sure which video is best at achieving your business goals. Overall, this boosts your views, traffic and sales, and puts you ahead of the competition.

So, if you choose to advertise…

How much ad spend do you devote to each channel?

Or should you focus your ad spend all on one platform that best fits your current campaign? And for your campaign goals and your videos, which is best platform for that?

That’s what we’ll answer in this next section…

Video Goals and Metrics

What are the strengths of each network for video?

Every network achieves different results for different goals and with each metric.

The easiest way to illustrate this is to show the range of performance we’ve seen on each networks for a variety of our clients in 2018.

A few notes on the chart: every industry and audience is different, and the more you optimize, the better your metrics will be. Your mileage may vary a bit from our chart, but should be in the same ballpark. Also note, these numbers are for video ads only, not for other types of ads.

Who’s Watching Each Video Platform?

One way to choose a platform for your video is to look at who the users of each network are, and which network is best at reaching which specialized audiences, research from Pew:

  • YouTube- biggest number of users, but 5th in frequency of use.
  • Facebook- second most users, but the most frequently used (51% of users visit multiple times per day), so much so that there are still more 18-29 year olds on FB than Instagram or Snapchat, slightly more female than male.
  • Instagram- younger audience, with Facebook powered targeting, growing faster than Snapchat, third in frequency of use, slightly more female than male.
  • Snapchat- youngest audience, not as good targeting, but second in frequency of use.
  • LinkedIn- professionals, better B2B targeting, but less time on site than other social networks, bigger proportion of college grads than FB or Insta, highest proportion of high income households, evenly male and female.
  • Twitter- like LinkedIn, a bigger proportion of college grads than FB or Insta, evenly male and female, only 26% of users visit multiple times per day.
  • Pinterest- much more female than male.

Yet another great source for checking which platform you should be on is Buzzsumo. You can analyze the content for any keyword and find out on which platforms the most engagement happens. Here’s some analysis on the “staffing and recruiting” industry:

Note that according to Buzzsumo’s data for the staffing and recruiting industry, List posts, How-to’s and Videos do best in that industry…

So if you’re making a video, why not use a list-post format when creating your video, or do a how-to video? 😉

Rules of Thumb for Choosing Your Platform

Next up, I want to give you what I see to be biggest strengths of each network in our experience with clients. If this seems simplistic, understand that my goal here is to give you rules of thumb to start your strategy with, not overgeneralizations to end with!

  • YouTube- Best for getting long video views, if you want to do in-depth content. Harder than other platforms to drive website traffic with.
  • Facebook- Best for website traffic, leads and sales from video.
  • Instagram- Hipper, younger, positive lifestyle audience using FB’s awesome ad platform- so it’s another good source of traffic, leads and sales.
  • Snapchat- New and affordable. Very unproven. Jury is out.
  • LinkedIn- Reach the upscale, smart business people and decision makers. Expensive but high quality for those purposes.
  • Twitter- Reach smart geeky people. If you have customers who prefer books over TV & movies, but want to do video to them, Twitter and LinkedIn make sense.
  • Pinterest- Reach women who like crafts, cosmetics and do-it-yourself projects.

Conclusion: How Many Platforms Does Your Video Really Need to Be On?

Obviously, you can easily post your video organically, without ads, everywhere, as long as you deal with the specs. And it makes sense, if you have time, to get it out in as many places as possible.

But how many platforms should you actually spend money on? If you’re not careful, your spend and time will get divided so much that you won’t have much impact anywhere.

Can you reach the same people on one platform without having to be on five of them?

According to the research from Pew:

  • A lot of the same people use YouTube, Facebook and Instagram…
  • But Twitter users aren’t necessarily LinkedIn users, and
  • LinkedIn users aren’t necessarily Twitter users.

That means that you may only need to be spending on two or three platforms, max!

Takeaway Strategy #1: Focus Your Video Ad Platform Choices Down to One or Two

Based on all the successes, failures, efficiencies and wasted money that I’ve seen in digital marketing over the last 20 years, I’m a big believer in the 80-20 rule.

You’ll get the best ROI by doing the 20% of things that yield 80% of the results.

Focus on the one out 5 video ad platforms that yields 80% of the results… even if you have a lot of resources- get really good at the most popular, most effective networks that have your best customers rather than being a mediocre jack of all networks.

The platform that’s your 20% may vary with your audience and goal, but for most companies these days that want traffic, leads or sales, without a doubt it’s Facebook.

At The Brian Carter Group, we recommend that most businesses run ads on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Google AdWords.

If you have a special audience-related need or goal-related need (not just a personal philosophy) that dictates that Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or another network would be a better fit, then add it on or substitute it.

But unless you have really solid proof (not just opinions) that they’re not good for your industry or goal, all the data and case studies I’ve seen suggest you should first get good at getting results from Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

This rule of thumb frees you to focus on just Facebook and Instagram, or just Facebook and YouTube and get great results. You don’t have to worry about missing out.

So, takeaway #1 is maximize your spend and your focus by only advertising your video on a few platforms:

  • Facebook and Instagram, or
  • Facebook and YouTube, or
  • Instagram and YouTube, or
  • Facebook and LinkedIn, or
  • LinkedIn and YouTube

Takeaway Strategy #2: The Retargeting Add-On to Cover Your Bases

But if you are worried about missing out by being to narrow on your platform choices, just add retargeting on the other networks to make sure you’re present to some degree- it’s not a big time or money investment to do that. That way you’d do something like this combination

  • Cold audiences and retargeting on your main platforms from Takeaway #1 above. For example, you might do Facebook ads, both video view and conversion campaign types for traffic, leads and sales. PLUS
  • Instagram retargeting ads
  • YouTube remarkateting ads
  • Twitter retargeting ads
  • LinkedIn retargeting ads

Now you’ve got your main focus driving a lot of traffic and visibility from both new people and retargeting AND you’re covering your bases by being visible to all these people on multiple networks via retargeting. Because retargeting spends are typically small, and the campaigns are much easier to set up, you’re not wasting time or money, you’re not a jack of all trades master of none. You’re increasing your bang for your buck without having to worry about focusing so much that you’ve left something out.

And that’s the best of both worlds.

7 New Facebook Ad Insights You Need to Know Today

Are you up to date with the most cutting edge practices for Facebook ads?

These are some of our biggest insights in Facebook advertising. These are the things that we’ve learned , having done Facebook ads for over 150 clients.

Some of them are best practices that effective advertisers embrace, and some are new insights and changes you can’t afford to ignore.

The seven most important things that you need to know to be really effective with Facebook ads today based on all our data…

And if you don’t know us from Adam:

  • We’ve been doing Facebook ads for ten years…
  • We’ve done them for over 150 clients…
  • We’ve worked with many types of clients of different sizes from small businesses to medium to famous big brands…
  • Facebook ads are the Swiss Army Knife of ad platforms: there are 12 types of Facebook ads, and we run them all…
  • We analyze the audience, create custom creative, optimize e-commerce performance, create custom lead magnets, split-test landing pages and optimize the ads…
  • We have some pretty cool case studies if you want to read about them…

This is our latest stuff our latest insights to pass on to you guys to get better results… The seven Facebook ad insights you absolutely need to know today answer these important questions:

  1. How Much Do You Need to Create?
  2. What Kind of Ads Should You Run?
  3. Which Posts Should You Promote First?
  4. How Long Should Facebook Videos Be?
  5. How Important is the Pixel and Conversion Tracking?
  6. Which Conversion Window Should You Choose?
  7. What Are Retargeting Best Practices?

Ready? 🙂

Facebook Ad Insight #1: How Much Do You Need to Create?

You have to test a lot of stuff

A lot of audiences and a lot of creative.

I feel like I said it’s a billion times but hey- you may never have heard this and you’ve never heard of me before! So I’ll just say this again and give you some more specifics on it that you may never heard me say this exact way in this level of detail but…

Our most successful ad campaigns are those where we’ve tested anywhere from 10 to 20 different audience settings. 10-20 ad sets, each targeted a different way.

And that is even the case when we’re only targeting one audience persona.

Why?

Because there are many different ways to target the same people in Facebook and there are plenty of other blog post out there that you could read- Andrea Vahl has a really good post about all the different Facebook ad targeting options– there are just a ton of them and that will show you why it’s possible to create so many different ad says different ways to target the same audience.

And if you do that you’re going to get different results.

You’re going to need to find that the ad sets/ the audience targeting that works the best for your purposes regardless of what type of ad you’re running- this is true for every type of ad, ok?

Test a lot of different audiences.

So if you have not tested 10 different ad sets with different audience targeting, then in my opinion you are not being thorough and you will not get great results.

You make get “ok” results. You won’t get great results.

If you’ve only got one ad set in your entire Facebook ad account, then you are a beginner and you need to create more ad sets. And that’s ok! That’s where you start.

But if you want to get the amazing type of results you’ve seen in our case studies, then you need to create 10 to 20 ad sets over time.

NOW… How many ads?

In our best case studies, our best performing clients and students, there are at least a 150 ads in those accounts.

That’s a minimum number.

If you do 10 ad sets, that’s 15 different ads in each one, 15 creative approaches. You have to conceive of different images, headlines, text, calls to action that will really move the prospect to take action.

A really good case study: we were doing website conversion ads for a small pizza chain of pizza delivery stores in Scotland called La Favorita… ecommerce pizza delivery.

We ran 160 ads for them but 76 of those ads didn’t get a single sale.

But overall we got about 2,200% ROI.

One of those ads was an 11,800% ROI, ok?

They made a ton of money compared to what they spent, and that’s because we tested so many different audiences and ad creative, over 160 combinations total…

But because 76 didn’t get any sales, if we’d only created say 70 ads, there’s a chance we might have only created the ones that didn’t get any sales. We wouldn’t have got any results. Zero ROI.

So if you are not thorough, there’s a chance that you’ll not only not get great results- you might get not get any.

I like to think about this way:

If you go out fishing to a big lake, and you don’t know where the fish are, you’ve got to put your line in a lot of different places to find them.

Now, you could take forever and walk around that lake one at a time, or you can get eight fishing rods or eight guys or whatever and put eight rods in at the same time. Now you’ve got a better chance of finding the fish- that is like an audience, right?

You gotta go where the fish are. Where are those fish? Which people are going to buy from me or fill out my lead form or install my app?

You gotta go to a lot of places.

And that’s why it’s important to test. You don’t know where your people are going to be in terms of targeting.

And this is the other way to look at the fishing analogy: What are you going to put on that fishing hook? That’s your bait.

That could be your ad. It could be a lead generation magnet, depending what you’re doing, right?

You can even look at that as your product or your app or whatever depending on what you’re doing, but you need to be able to patch multiple things okay from an ad perspective

We think about these as a different ad creative- the images the headlines and all those kind of things.

We don’t know which ones the fish are going to go for- in this case there are prospects, right? Which one is going to make the customer respond… not just to take action but do it at a high rate that’s going to give us a really low cost?

And you won’t know until you put a lot of different bait on those hooks.

So you got a fish and a lot of different areas of the lake, which is a lot of audiences and put a lot of different bait on those hooks which is a lot of different creative ok?

Test a lot of stuff.

And you gotta test a lot of new stuff all the time, because eventually people have seen your stuff and even if you haven’t reached your entire targeted audience… because Facebook is going to show it to the best people first and you might have shown all your stuff to the best people already and if they were going to respond they would have- so your results start to go down, you start to see that burnout, you need to new creative for a new audience, ok?

So that’s a lot of stuff – test a lot of stuff and keep creating new stuff.

Facebook Ad Insight #2: What Kind of Ads Should You Run?

To get professional level results from Facebook ads, you need to test ads with multiple objectives (goals).

Now if you’re only boosting post from your Facebook page, you’re only creating one out of 12 types of ad, and that’s just start. You need to get into ad manager or power editor.

Ad manager is a great place to star. If you create an ad in there, it’s going to ask you what kind of ad you want to create. So there are different goals and you choose the one that’s closest to your business goal.

If your goal is to get sales or leads, I would recommend you choose website conversions- because you want to get a conversion- assuming you want a lead or a sales on your website or your landing page, then by choosing that you’ve helped Facebook.

If you say you want traffic, that may be all you get.

You should be testing multiple types ads. Use the full Swiss Army knife of Facebook marketing. It does a lot of different things.

A marketing funnel is a complicated thing. It’s not just the sales- the bottom- there’s awareness at the top, there’s engagement, there’s branding, there might be leads in the middle or visits, all kinds of different things.

And if you want people to be aware of your brand or understand it, you might want to do that through a video, or through an image, through engagement on your page…

If so you need to use different types of ads.

Te page promotion ad, which boosts posts, the video view ad, which gets people to watch videos more… every type of ad objective gets different types of people, because different people do different things on Facebook- every user in Facebook is grouped them by what they like to do. They know what everybody does on Facebook. They group them.

You like to do different things, right?

You may like video- you may not.

You may like posts- you may not you may interact with posts- you may not.

You may click on links to go to other sites… you may click on ads. y

You may go over to websites and fill out the forms- you may not.

But whatever you’re doing, Facebook tracks that stuff, so when you target people with your ads, if you want to get people who convert you’ve got to choose the conversion type.

If you want to get video views, you need to choose the video view ad- and so on.

A healthy Facebook marketing campaign is going to use at least three types of ads.

I would recommend you use all three of these:

  1. Website conversion ads
  2. Post promotion ads
  3. Video view ads

Those three are very effective- you’re going to get awareness and branding. You’re going to get conversions.

Those are very powerful.

Some companies cannot do conversions- they can’t track them. They have issues.

Other companies are so focused on conversions and ROI that they can’t see the value of branding and engagement.

It’s almost like two different religious camps- they are so rigid in their viewpoints sometimes… but there’s value to both.

There’s value to awareness and branding and engagement because people know you exist. Nobody can buy from you if they don’t know you exist. You have to get in the customer’s “consideration set.” With the clients and companies we’ve been able to track- and other agencies have done this, too- when you run awareness boosting campaigns, TV ads, Facebook ads, all kinds of things, you’ll see more Google searches for brands and branded AdWords campaigns that have a very high ROI because people are already looking for you…

Well, where does that awareness come from? It doesn’t come out of nowhere. You have to create it with other types of advertising and marketing campaigns and post promotion and video view ads. Those are one way to do that.

So you can test multiple objectives.

Facebook Ad Insight #3: Which Posts Should You Promote First?

The third ad insight is about post promotion.

If you have a Facebook page, hopefully you understood what reachpocalypse was in 2013 and that your posts are not going to reach your fans unless you advertise them.

So, you’re doing post promotion ads if you care about your posts being seen by anybody…

And hopefully you also look at your page insights and you switch up your metrics there and look at the engagement rate.

That will tell you the percentage of people who see the post and like, comment or share on it.

The posts that have the highest engagement rate- they’re really the best bait, to go back to our fishing analogy…

You could put there’s almost anything in the world on your Facebook page, but you want to put the things on there that people are going to like the best, because there’s an opportunity to get people excited. ok going to relate to your brand your product and all those kind of things but also resonate with them stuff they like stuff that relates to their identity who they are all that kind of

It’s a very complicated topic to discuss: how do you come up with the kind of post that resonate with a specific audience?

There’s an art and a science to that.

But you look at your posts’s engagement rate and you figure out what your audience is interacting with, and which ones are high, which ones are low.

What are they not interacting with? And learn from that.

When you promote a lot of those posts, the interesting thing is the lowest cost-per-engagement ads don’t always turn out to be the ones that had the highest engagement rate!

We’re not really sure why that is. It might be a difference in the way that Facebook shows ads vs. the way that they show posts… or it may just be an aspect of the pricing.

But there’s some overlap, so if you’re going to test a limited number of posts, you should choose the ones that have the highest engagement rate.

Facebook Ad Insight #4: How Long Should Videos Be on Facebook?

Across all of our clients – although some are better than others – the average video view length is 15 seconds.

That’s pretty crazy… and we’ve seen that stat from other people as well.

That’s one of the reasons I think that’s crazy is that everybody is talking about how great live video is.

Facebook Live videos are very long. I know Amy Porterfield has done some 5-8 minute FB lives to promote her courses. But if you do 40 minutes or an hour or whatever, you just don’t know how long individuals stay. You don’t get a lot of metrics on them. If you do 45 minutes and the average person was there for 2 minutes… how are you gonna be sure you got your message got across? What part of your message got across? It’s very hard to develop marketing messages that way.

People are effective with webinars because they get people on the webinar and they have ways of keeping them on the webinar the whole time. But with Facebook live, they come in, it’s very informal… it’s more engagement focused, more top of funnel.

We’ve noticed that the videos that cost the least to promote are the ones that got the highest percentage of completion… they’re saying don’t waste anybody’s time, whether the video is 30 seconds long or five minutes long, it’s higher quality if people are finishing it.

In other words, don’t make your videos longer than they need to be!

Keep it interesting. Have a plan. If you’re editing it, edit out the boring and redundant parts.

I don’t know if they’re going to keep that because they’re trying to get TV dollars. They’re probably going to prize video duration, so that’ll be that’ll be an interesting thing to monitor if they start to favor videos that can hold an audience longer amount of time.

Facebook Ad Insight #5: How Important is the Pixel and Conversion Tracking?

Conversions are important- they’re leads and sales.

And that’s my bias because I started out in Google AdWords, helping companies get sales way back in 2004.

We do a lot of lead gen as well. So to me conversion is very important and it’s a lot easier to justify ad spend if you’re getting money back from it.

It’s difficult to quantify the value of branding and awareness and engagement even though we know it has a value… certainly they say that Coca-Cola’s brand itself is worth $78 billion separate from all the factories and other assets- and there are case studies that quantify that…

I don’t think we should ever avoid doing conversion just because it’s hard.

But there are are often significant obstacles. We’ve done a lot of lead gen and sales/ecommerce work with Facebook ads. A lot of our clients have obstacles implementing the tracking… whether it’s that they don’t have a devoted thank you page with its own URL or a confirmation page… or they’re using some kind of third-party software like a scheduling software that doesn’t allow us to put JavaScript into it… some SAAS vendors that don’t understand marketing tracking. Some programmers don’t understand that Facebook and AdWords pixels are not just for tracking- it’s not enough to have the Google Analytics on there- because Facebook and AdWords do conversion optimization algorithms- automated artificial intelligent algorithms to determine who to show ads to and how to optimize ad display based on that pixel information. So if you don’t have the conversion pixel in the setup, you’re just not going to get as many leads or sales at as low a price. Or you might not get any conversions.

It’s just not going to work as well. It’s like a GPS without a transponder. You don’t have a satellite up. You can’t get a signal.

Weird things happen. We’ve noticed some weird things- like ads that perform better the longer they run. That’s the way that Google AdWords and Facebook conversion optimization work.

They have to learn a conversion profile – they’re AI profiling your buyers and they need data to do that, and they can’t get that data from Google Analytics. So that pixel has to be set up properly for them to get that data.

You can’t judge a conversion campaign too quickly, either. We’ve learned to give everything at least 72 hours and sometimes it takes longer than that. If you judge an ad too soon and turn it off, things don’t work well.

There have been situations where we’ve been able to let ads run longer… even ones that weren’t performing at the ROI level we wanted, and they got better because Facebook is homing in on the target and it just needs more time and data.

That data, unfortunately, costs money.  You have to pay to not get results for a while in order to ramp things up.

If you’re getting conversions, you’re feeding information into the algorithm and the performance will improve quite a bit over time. That’s an important thing to understand about the pixel and the algorithm and everything if you’re too quick on the trigger to judge a bad conversion and you may miss out on a lot of opportunity.

Facebook Ad Insight #6: Which Conversion Window Should You Choose?

Another conversion factor is conversion window.

When you choose conversion window, it’s one day or seven days.

You’re basically telling Facebook, “We think that the person is going to convert within one day of clicking… or seven days.”

It’s kind of like a sales cycle. How long do you think it takes the person to decide before they’ll convert, whether that’s a leader of sale?

Sometimes you can have a pretty good idea depending on the business, but it’s just as easy to test both, and in some cases that’s what we do… we’ll test the same ad set where everything is the same but one has a one day conversion window and the other has a seven day conversion window.

The results can be dramatically different- it could mean the different between zero conversions and a lot of conversions.

Facebook Ad Insight #7: What Are Retargeting Best Practices?

The last thing that I want to share with you is retargeting.

Retargeting is essential. You have to do it.

Why is that?

For the same reason we want to do email marketing.

The first time people come to your website, most of them don’t do anything: whether that’s buy or become a lead… most people don’t convert if you look at the percentages.

  • A great e-commerce site converts at maybe 3%.
  • Even Amazon product pages convert at max 20% but that means that 80% percent don’t convert.
  • If your Shopify site converts at 3%, you’re a rockstar. But 97% of people didn’t convert.

You need to be running retargeting ads to stay in front of those people. Whether that’s normal retargeting or dynamic product ads, you’ve got to do it. It’s a best practice to the degree that it’s malpractice not to run them.

You’ve got to stay in front of people.

Now, don’t be stupid about it. You’ve seen the ads when you’ve already bought something but you’re still seeing ads for it? That means they didn’t exclude the buyers, which is not hard to do. You can exclude the buyers. Create another audience based on people who have been to the confirmation page. Exclude those people if you want.

If you’re doing lead gen, a really great lead gen campaign converts at 40-60%, but you’re still losing a ton. Te average lead gen campaign converts 10-20% of people, so 80-90% of people leave, and you need retargeting to stay in front of them.

They didn’t like that lead magnet, so send them to another one.

Create three lead magnets. Find another lead magnet that they’ll go through.

Content marketing has become popular, so the stakes have gone up, the ante for the marketing game has gone up, and if you don’t have multiple articles, multiple videos and multiple lead magnets, then you’re falling behind.

You need to create it or you need to have somebody like us create these so that you can grab prospects.

Retargeting is such a best-practices that it’s malpractice not to do it.

In some cases we have clients that we run AdWords and Facebook ads but they may only get Facebook leads and sales from retargeting

We’ve got other clients that do get lead sales cold from all kinds of target groups with Facebook ads, but for some clients they can only get it through retargeting… so in some ways retargeting is the strongest Facebook ad audience.

Lookalikes and custom audiences are really good too.

We recommend them for post engagement, video views, awareness, engagement…

Your retargeting audience is basically like an email list. You want to constantly show them new stuff: whether that’s new blog posts, videos or whatever… every month you better have something new, or they’re going to get bored.

Look at that frequency number and see how many times your audience is seeing those things. If that feedback number goes over 3-5, they’re start hiding your ads abd the negative feedback goes up. That can be a danger to your account reputation, and if that’s combined with too many ad disapprovals, Facebook can deactivate your account.

If your frequency goes too high, you either need to create more content faster for your retargeting, or you need to lower your retargeting spend. Maybe your retargeting audience isn’t big enough.

Maybe you haven’t made the duration of the audience long enough- are you targeting 180 days? I make it as long as I can, because that’s like saying, “I want people to hear about me for six months.”

If you had an email list, how long would you want them to hear from you? Until they left the list, right? Why wouldn’t you want the same for retargeting?

The last thing about retargeting: sometimes we find what sells is to show customers first one type of ad to cold audiences and another type of ad to retargeted people. It’s like a one-two punch, a cold and retargeting ads. What we’ve seen work is the cold audience gets a pain or a problem oriented message and the retargeting gets the solution oriented message. So, if you’re having trouble converting cold traffic try that badass one-two punch solution. That’s a freebie I should probably sell

Go Do It!

Those are seven Facebook ad insights we’ve gathered that you absolutely need to know.

I hope that you find that useful and look forward to hearing your gigantic results!

chalkboard graph of decreasing costs

Facebook Post Promotion Ads for Lower Conversion Costs? DMMH #4

In this 4th episode of The Digital Marketing Happy Hour, Lynda and Brian discuss how post promotion ads can have direct and indirect effects on your conversion performance, e.g. lowering lead generation costs.

Don’t forget to click through and subscribe to the DMMH channel- and comment on YouTube if you have any questions- or even suggestions for future videos!

Facebook ads experts graphic

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 Simple Instagram Marketing Tips to Attract More Customers (for Free!)

Businesses and marketer who want to gain customers should be on Instagram.

Why?

This summer, Instagram announced it has over 1 billion users.

With numbers like that, there are plenty of potential customers to attract, and Instagram can be a great tool for acquiring these potential customers.

Also…

If you don’t figure out how to capitalize on Instagram, your competitors will.

The problem is, managing an Instagram account can be overwhelming.

  • Where do I begin?
  • Am I too far behind to catch up?
  • Do I have the time/resources to manage an account?
  • Do I have to pay for advertising to get attention?

Don’t panic!

We have some quick and easy advice on how your brand can reach these potential customers without driving you insane.

Scroll down to read our 10 Instagram marketing tips that will help you grow your brand and attract a relevant following — for free.

1. Get Access to More Tools When You Switch to an Instagram Business Account

Don’t have an Instagram business account yet? Switch it over today.

Changing your brand profile page to an Instagram business account is simple.

Just go to your settings and click Switch to Business Profile.

Instagram will guide you through a few more steps to finalize the process. Don’t worry, it’s quick and painless!

A few benefits to having a business account:

  • Utilize Call-to-Action Contact buttons – followers can click right from your Instagram page to get in touch with you (via email, phone, or text message)
  • Create and publish ads without needing to use Facebook’s advertising tools.
  • Access Instagram analytics tools (Instagram Insights) that provide statistics about the impressions and reach of your posts.

2. Update Your Business Bio to Attract More Followers

Your Instagram bio should describe what your business does (quickly inform your audience), what kind of brand you are (are you silly, serious, funny, cute?), and get people to take action.

Make the most of all parts of your bio to attract potential customers –

  • Profile Photo: make sure your photo is relevant to your brand or company.
  • Username and Name: Choose wisely because both are searchable.
  • Bio: You have 150 characters to make a great impression with the content in your bio, so spend some time writing!
  • Website: Choose your best link – you only get one!
  • Call-to-Action Buttons: Take advantage of your Instagram Business account and use the right call to action.

Spending a little time to create a quality business bio will go a long way and make a difference to your Instagram marketing efforts.

3. Create a Content Calendar to Ease Stress

Drafting up a content calendar is a good idea for any social media marketing effort.

It takes the pressure off trying to decide what to post each day, and allows you to be more strategic with your marketing plans.

Creating a content calendar helps you:

  • Utilize your valuable content in the most effective way
  • See the general vibe of your social media account before posting
  • Keep your posts varied, relevant and interesting so your audience will stop scrolling long enough to engage with your posts

4. Use Geotags for Higher Engagement

When you post, always include a geotag!

Instagram posts that tag a location receive 79% higher engagement than posts without one.

Adding a geotag gives users another way to find your content. And the more people who view your content, the more likely you’ll have higher engagement.

It’s that easy.

5. Repurpose Content for a More Interesting Account

Posting regularly can be time consuming and hard work.

Are you finding it hard to come up with enough content to meet the needs of your following?

Do you see other amazing accounts that have audiences you’d like to attract?

Perhaps you should try reposting content from these relevant Instagram accounts. (Just make sure to give sufficient credit by tagging the photo and your caption.)

Some accounts will even return the favor and repost your content!

Many apps are available that download photos from Instagram and save them to your camera roll, so you can easily repost them.

6. Build a Community by Spending Time Attracting Real Followers

Don’t buy fake followers or stress out about acquiring millions of them!

Being too concerned about your vanity metrics won’t help your business long term.

Social media is about building a community, not seeking an arbitrary number that doesn’t care about your brand and will never convert.

Work on building a real community — it will pay off in the long run!

7. Use Instagram Stories to Grab More Attention

Instagram stories are a new and fun tool that can help attract interest in your business.

They sit right at the top of the feed, so they’re flashy, fast and easily noticeable.

Use it to entice customers with sales, giveaways, or a sneak peek at new products.

You can even add links to stories now!

If customers like what they see, they’ll keep coming back for more updates.

8. Keep Content Fresh and Personal with User-Submitted Photos

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a way to create attractive content for your Instagram page without doing any of the hard work?

Through user-submitted photos, there is!

Once you have an engaged audience, you can leverage your following to generate useful content for you.

User-generated content is fresh and personal, so encourage your audience to take photos with your brand by reposting your favorites!

It’s easy for you, and a great ego boost for them. Happy audiences attract more followers.

Win-win!

9. Create Engagement with a Unique, Interactive Hashtag

Interactive hashtags are a great way to create engagement and attract new followers.

Every time someone posts a photo using your hashtag, they’re showing your brand to their personal Instagram community — it’s like free advertising!

Create a hashtag that is unique and makes sense for your business, and encourage followers to use your tag when they post about your brand.

This will continue to build your brand community and also help you quickly search through images that you may want to repost on your page. 😉

If your brand has a popular slogan or phrase, that may make for a perfect branded hashtag!

10. Attract your Audience by Being Bold, Creative, and Human!

What makes you unique? What attracts people to your brand or business?

With over 1 billion users on Instagram, it’s hard to stand out from the crowd. That’s why it’s important to get creative and be human!

  • Post images that you would like to see in your Instagram feed vs. images that look and feel like advertisements
  • Engage with your audience by thanking them for comments, replying to questions, and encouraging interactions
  • Be brave and try new ideas. Let your personality shine!

With some hard work, creativity and a strong vision, you can attract an engaged community that will help your business grow!

20 Powerful Influencer Marketing Tools

There’s no doubt, influencer marketing is a hot topic, and it can get you business results.

Influencer Marketing one of the most searched for types of marketing in Google, behind social marketing and content marketing.

Technically, it’s both social marketing and content marketing, because influencers usually use social and content to connect with their audiences and to market.

So, in case you’re new to this, what IS influencer marketing, exactly?

Influencer marketing is when an organization leverages an influencer and their audience to create new customers.

Gallup’s research has found that companies with highly engaged customers achieve up to:

  • 50% – 51% more sales
  • 27% – 34% higher profitability

[References: 1, 2, 3.]

And the beautiful thing about the audiences of influencers is that they’re often highly engaged.

Influencer marketing lends that engagement to your brand, transferring that sales and profit potential as well.

In this article, we’ll look at a few case studies and cover some of the most effective tools for:

  • Finding and qualifying the influencers who drive conversations in your niche
  • Cultivating one-on-one relationships with them
  • Managing influencer marketing campaigns
  • Measuring and reporting on your results


Click here to register for our
FREE INFLUENCER WEBINAR THURSDAY OCT 11, 2018…

Tools for Finding and Qualifying the Right Influencers for Your Brand

Some of the best tools out there for finding influencers include:

  • Buzzsumo: a geeky but extremely powerful search tool for looking through the web and social media for bloggers, twitterers and even journalists. This is where I’d start if I wanted to find someone unique and create an exclusive relationship with them.
  • Tomoson: search through over 90,000 influencers or just post your opportunity to get micro-influencers to post in social media about your stuff. This is my favorite if you just want a bunch of social media people to try and talk about your product. But it doesn’t have everybody in it, and it’s not going to create a custom exclusive relationship with your brand. These influencers are guns for hire.
  • Famebit: if you want to find video creators and influencers, this one is now owned by YouTube and going strong.
  • Heepsy: similar to Tomoson, but a lower monthly fee.
  • Klear: with an influencer search engine and database, it’s not CLEAR how Klear is different, and they CLEARLY want to sell you at a higher unknown price tag through salespeople… so if you’re a bigger brand, check them out, but if you’re a small business, probably not for you.
  • Upfluence: an all-in-one solution for finding, managing and tracking ROI, Upfluence is also another solution like Klear that requires you go through a salesperson, so expect a hefty price tag.

You’ll see when you review these tools that there are really two major ways to go:

  1. Find a non-exclusive influencer who’s joined a marketplace of influencers and is probably promoting other companies too. You do this with platforms like Tomoson, Famebit, Heepsy, Klear, or Upfluence.
  2. Find an influencer on your own who may not do it very often, and may end up being exclusive to you, whether that’s intentional or not. You do this with tools like Buzzsumo.

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. He found this blogger on his own, outside of an influencer marketplace. She had access to 40,000 of his potential customers. They simply donated a product (12 of the same product) as a giveaway and paid her $150, and their Amazon sales went crazy.

But influencer marketing doesn’t have to be the prototypical expert/microceleb with zero connection to your brand…

When Are Customers The Best Influencers?

Peachdish, an Atlanta-based meal-kit company, has leveraged their own best customers to create their Ambassador program. Peachdish also uses an always-running Instagram contest where you might win a free meal just for posting a picture of your latest Peachdish meal on Instagram using their #peachdishmeal hashtag.

Full disclosure: my wife and I are Peachdish customers, and I’m in their Ambassador program, but Peachdish forbids people us from using any custom links to promote them- so nothing in here is benefiting me. We just love their stuff.

As customer experience and sales manager Michael Milich says, “The Peachdish Ambassador program has been successful as our Ambassadors genuinely love PeachDish. The majority of received over a year’s worth of PeachDish boxes (52+ weeks). So far, we’ve discovered those influencers with a connection to food and/or wellness are the most successful. It’s a bit tricky, because the the goal is to find customers who want a deeper connection with a brand, rather than just a giveaway or first-time discount. Overall, just giving a discount or something for free is not a guaranteed way to create those long-term relationships we want with a subscription business.”

In this case, the best tools they had for finding and qualifying the right influencers were:

  • Their own customer records
  • Instagram activity on their hashtags

I’m really tempted to write a cheezy play on “outside the (meal) box” here, but as you know, I’m better than that. Let’s move on.

Using Facebook Data to Verify That A Celebrity Influencer’s Audience Matches Your Customers

Some tools you might not have thought of for checking out potential influencers are

  • The Facebook ad platform and
  • The Facebook Audience Insights tool.

If the prospective influencer is very popular and/or has a Facebook page, you can find some interesting data out about them there.

A franchised fitness client of ours wanted to pilot a celebrity sponsorship and see if it helped them grow their business.

They considered who their customers were (mainly women over 50 years old) and asked themselves, “Who would be an influential celebrity we could hire that our audience would love?”

When they settled on a British actress (whose name I have to keep private, since the pilot has not even yet begun), we immediately started looking at audience information about her in Facebook.

“Who are this woman’s fans?” we were asking Facebook.

Here’s what we found:

And that was good news:

  • Her audience is 85% women, which matches our client’s customers.
  • She is liked more than average in the 45-54, 55-64 and 65+ age groups, which again matches our client’s customers.

In fact, when we selected some of the states that our client has the most franchise locations in, the match was even stronger.

Facebook Audience Insights will also give you an idea how many active users are fans of that person, and the Facebook ad tool will give you targeting numbers as well (when you go to create an ad targeting that influencer) if you want to double check it.

Tools for Cultivating One-on-One Relationships with Influencers

Creating relationships with influencers doesn’t always require extra tools.

When you do want to build a relationship, it’s really important to not get so lost in tools and technology and forget some of the most basic things about relationship building:

  • You have to connect
  • It takes time
  • You have to personalize to each person
  • You have to listen
  • You have to be empathetic

Tools can’t replace all of those activities. Sometimes you can damage a relationship by trying to use tools instead of creating the intimacy required to build strong relationships.

Not every influencer relationship is going to require hours of one-on-one conversation, but some of the most important relationships will merit at least a few emails or phone calls.

You’re going to need emotionally intelligent people managing that part of the process, or you’ll offend and scare off important influencers.

The tools you’re going to use to cultivate influencer relationships include:

  • The tools above you used to find influencers, if they contain messaging components, or they are all-in-one solutions.
  • Direct messages within social platforms like Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn
  • Email and Phone
  • GoToMeeting, Zoom, Facetime, Skype and other remote video solutions that allow for more personal meetings
  • Google Sheets or any other collaborative documents you use to organize campaigns.

And of course, make sure you have good influencer marketing contracts.

Tools for Managing Influencer Marketing Campaigns

Again, some of what you need for managing the campaigns may be within the same platform you used to find the influencers.

If not, you may want something like AspireIQ (formerly Revfluence), which is an Influencer Relationship Management platform… like a CRM teamed up with an analytics platform.

Tools for Measuring and Reporting on Influencer Marketing Campaign Results

The all-in-one solutions we’ve mentioned will give you some reporting and measurement already.

However, they may or may not have anything for measuring ROI. Some of the platforms are entirely focused on top-of-funnel metrics like reach or engagement.

Again, you may want to add something like AspireIQ to help you automate your tracking, but make sure it’s compatible with the influencer platform you’re using.

You may be able to get the influencer to use a custom analytics URL (e.g. using the Google Analytics URL Builder) that will help you see in your analytics where your results are coming from.

Conclusion: Your Best Toolset

One thing is clear about influencer marketing and the tools: it’s complicated!

Every situation is going to be different, and you’re going to need a slightly different set of tools to accomplish your influencer marketing goals, depending on how you proceed and which platforms you use.

So, if you’re not clear what you need or if you’re covering all your bases (finding all the influencers out there and tracking results accurately), then you may want to reach out to a consultant or agency to to create a plan or review everything before you get started.

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.

Influencer search tools include:

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!