How to get the best results from Instagram as a business.

As of June 2016, Instagram reached a massive milestone of 500 million active users. Instagram has also officially left Twitter in the dust in terms of number of active users. It’s no wonder that brands are flocking to get a piece of this powerful pie.

Is Instagram right for your business?

If you’re a brand that’s thinking about joining Instagram, here’s what you need to ask yourself to decide whether this platform is right for you.

  1. Is your core audience under the age of 34? The majority of Instagram users are 34 and younger.
  2. Is your brand able to create unique, visual content that your audience would find appealing?
  3. Are your competitors on Instagram and how are they performing?

Top 8 tips for Instagram branding success

If you’ve decided to take the Instagram plunge, here are some solid tips that you can implement to increase your chances of achieving the very best results for your brand:

  1. Get behind a hashtag. If you’re running an Instagram campaign around a specific product launch or event, create a hashtag that’s all your own and that people can use in their own posts in order to spread the word about your brand. Another approach would be to research and use trending hashtags that are relevant to your brand.
  2. Make use of social media stats. Once your brand starts posting on Instagram and even running paid advertising, keep a close eye on your stats. Your stats will help you decide which posts are receiving the most engagement and the best time to post too.
  3. Don’t forget the call to action. Running an ad on Instagram? Make use of the fact that you can also insert a clear call to action in your ad that will encourage users to take that next step.
  4. Avoid looking like a sales pitch. Instagram is about getting creative and telling stories that users can relate to. If you’re going to use your Instagram account to purely push posts that look like mobile brochures, your success rate won’t be very high.
  5. Find out what your audience wants. As you start your Instagram journey, take the time to research what your ideal audience is up to on the platform. What are their interests and what other accounts are they following? Now find a way to combine their interests and your offering and turn it into relevant content.
  6. Promote your account. Let your audience know that you’re on Instagram. Place a link to your page on your website and in your email signature.
  7. Partner with influencers. Influencer marketing is one of the quickest ways to grow your following on Instagram. Find out which public figures your audience is following and approach someone who would suite your brand and what it stands for.
  8. Get your audience involved. Not only is user-generated content powerful but it’s one of the best ways to spread the word about your brand without having to put in too much effort.

The best way to measure your website’s success.

As a business owner with a website, it’s imperative to measure your site’s performance on a regular basis if you want to keep evolving and meeting the needs of new and existing customers.

Google Analytics is a pretty powerful tool for tracking and measuring the success of websites and is used by a large number of business owners. Google Analytics gives you free access to a large number of useful statistics but this can become quite overwhelming at times because it can be difficult to decipher which stats are most important to your unique business.

7 Key Google Analytics Stats

Below are the most basic and important metrics to focus on as a website owner.

  1. Traffic Sources. It’s important to know where your website traffic is coming from, and it should be stemming from a variety of sources too. Google Analytics will give you stats on direct, referral, organic and social traffic. If you find that the percentage of traffic coming from one of these sources is not as high as the others, you know where to focus your efforts in the coming months.
  2. Pageviews. This measurement will tell you how many pages are being viewed on your website during a specific period. You of course want your pageviews to be high because that means that users are spending time on your site. Obviously if your website contains more than just a home, about us and contact page, your pageviews will be higher. If you’re looking to boost your pageviews you could consider adding more content to your site in the form of a blog, customer testimonials or unique product pages. This metric will also be very important if you’re thinking about selling advertising on your site as the more pageviews you have every month, the more money you can make through advertising.
  3. Exit Pages. This particular metric will help you improve your website. Your exit pages will tell you where your users are leaving your website. Google Analytics is able to give you a good view of this. If you happen to notice that a large number of users are dropping off on specific pages, it might be worth your while to investigate those particular pages to find out if there are improvements that can be made in order to keep visitors browsing your site.
  4. Bounce Rate. Your bounce rate shows the percentage of people who are landing on your website and then immediately leaving. So why is this important? While a high bounce rate could indicate a problem with your site such as the home page fonts being too difficult to read, it could also be a strong indication that your site is ranking for the wrong keywords. If you happen to have a high bounce rate you might want to perform an SEO audit to establish whether you can make a few improvements.
  5. Pages per Session. This measurement shows how many pages the average visitor is viewing on your site. Again, you of course want this number to be quite decent. If it happens to be on the low side, you could form an internal linking strategy that could boost the chances of online visitors clicking through to more pages on your site and in turn increase the chances of them converting.
  6. Pages. If you have a lot of content on your website, this is a very valuable metric and can be used to build content strategies going forward. Pulling a pages report once a month will give you a good idea of the content that’s performing well and what your audience finds most appealing so that you can build on that.
  7. Conversions. If you want your online users to perform a specific action such as completing a purchase or signing up for a newsletter, you can track these conversion goals using Google Analytics. By tracking the user journey and your conversions you can gage whether there’s something discouraging a visitor from completing a specific task and improve those pages.

Your business needs an integrated strategy if you want to grow and thrive.

The way that businesses are approaching their marketing strategies is changing and if you’re still looking at your marketing channels in isolation, you’ll need to change your approach if you really want to see your business grow.

Creating a cohesive branding experience for your customers is essential but when last did you look at how all of these channels fit together and how you can increase their flow and effectiveness?

The obvious points

Firstly, budgets are a no-brainer. Every business wants to save money and by taking the time to look at the marketing channels that will give you the most reach by them leveraging off of one another will usually save you a lot more money than throwing your entire budget into a splashy TV campaign.

Secondly, an integrated strategy means you can make better use of your staff’s time. By having your marketing team work towards unified branding goals, they have the chance to work on projects that can be used on multiple platforms. For example, you might have a writer who contributes towards a blog on your website but this very content could also be utilized by your social media team who are creating promotional posts and ad campaigns.

A step further

If you feel that you already have quite an integrated strategy in place, there is a way to take things one step further.

It’s time to dive into those stats dashboards and truly take the time to understand your consumers. You need to move past the old way of reporting on your marketing and delve deeper into your target audience’s world. Knowing how your ideal customer spends their time online, how they shop and how they make decisions are all factors that can help you take your advertising up a notch. A brand that gets inside the heads of its target audience is able to connect with them on a whole different level.

And the consumer who feels that a brand truly understands their needs is someone who will go out of their way to not only support that brand but to promote them online and through word-of-mouth.

That’s marketing money can’t buy.

What you need to know about using Snapchat as a business.

You’ve heard about Snapchat and you know that your target audience uses it on a regular basis but how do you use this popular messaging platform as a business?

Snapchat launched in 2011 and now has over 100 million users who access the platform daily. Members can add captions, effects and drawings to their photos and videos before publically or privately posting it online.

Before you get started, you should note that the minimum advertising spend on Snapchat starts at around $50,000 so be sure that this is definitely a worthwhile marketing endeavour before you go ahead. You’ll also need a few killer campaign ideas.

Snapchat is all about telling stories through photos and videos so keep this in mind as you develop your campaigns.

Snapchat ad options

Below are the types of ads Snapchat offers.

Snap Ads: Run a mobile video ad that shows up in between a user’s snaps. There is also the option of adding an interactive element that encourages users to take a specific action. If users choose to swipe up they can access extended content such as long form videos, articles or a mobi-site.

 
Snap Ads
 

Sponsored Geo-Filters: When a user takes a snap in a specific location they’ll be able to see your geo-filter and use it to explain when, where and why they took their snap.

 
Sponsored Geo Filters
 

Sponsored Lenses: This is by far one of the most fun ways to promote your brand. Create an interactive ad that Snapchatters can add to their snaps. You can even ask users to perform a specific action such as sticking out their tongues to activate your lens.

Sponsored Lenses

Ideas for promoting your brand on Snapchat

Run a competition

Get users to create a creative snap that features your product or get them to doodle something in order to enter.

Bring them behind the scenes

Millennials want to connect with brands on a personal level and Snapchat is the perfect way to do this. Post photos and videos that allow fans to step into a day in the life of your brand. Show them what’s happening at your offices or at a company event. Be sure to make the photos and videos really interesting though if you want them to follow you.

Reach out to influencers

Partner with popular Snapchat users to get your brand noticed. Get them to pose with or create a fun video featuring your product. Just be sure to set out some guidelines to prevent any bad or unflattering publicity.

Promote an upcoming event

If your brand happens to be launching a new product or it’s hosting a big event, use Snapchat to promote it. Get creative with your snaps, or if you have the budget, buy a sponsored lens that Snapchatters can use before and during the event.

Get behind a cause

If there’s a cause that’s really important to your brand, you could run a campaign in support of it in order to attract likeminded individuals.

Use events and holidays

If there’s a holiday or event coming up such as Independence Day or Halloween, use it to create some unique snaps to promote your brand. Just make sure that your brand and your campaign suites the holiday or event in question.

The benefits of marketing your brand using mobile apps.

If you’re looking for ways to take your marketing up a notch then you’ve more than likely considered mobile advertising. Mobile advertising is a fantastic platform for reaching your target audience because the majority of consumers have one if not two mobile phones that they use on a daily basis.

While placing your advertising on a variety of mobile platforms will do wonders for brand awareness, have you ever looked into mobile app advertising?

A study done by Jupiter Research found that in-app advertising spend will increase to $16.9 billion by 2018 and at the rate that apps are being developed, this is definitely not hard to believe.

Benefits of in-app advertising

  1. Access an engaged audience. In-app advertising gives you access to an audience that is already engaged. Mobile users who are using an app can’t be distracted by a variety of different links and ads like they would if they were using Google or a content related site. This means that your brand has a better chance of grabbing a user’s attention.
  2. Take advantage of bigger ad sizes. While there are a variety of ad options when it comes to mobile advertising, in-app adverts usually offer you bigger banner sizes and types, which really gives you the chance to get creative. Many apps make use of interstitial ads, which take up the entire screen upon opening or closing an app.
  3. Reach a targeted audience. As a business owner and marketer, you already know exactly who your target audience is. It’s important that you use this data to select apps that enable you to reach your specific target audience. All apps will have data on their users so take the time to review this first so that you know you’re spending your marketing budget correctly.
  4. It’s affordable. In general, mobile and in-app advertising is a lot more affordable than most other marketing options. Over and above that, the fact that it’s so measurable really makes this a no-brainer.
  5. Access additional functionality. In-app advertising also offers a lot more functionality than general mobile advertising. You can take advantage of functions such as geo-location and user targeting to reach the right type of consumer at exactly the right time. An example of this would be pushing a coupon code to an app user when they’re within a five mile radius of your store.

How to make your in-app ads more effective

If you’re going to invest in in-app and mobile advertising, it’s important that you create an eye-catching campaign that appeals to specific types of users.

Here are some tips on how to capture an app’s audience:

  1. Get really creative. You ad really needs to stand out and create a sense of curiosity and intrigue. If you have the budget available, rather take the time to develop a unique banner such as one that requires a user to perform a specific action or that plays a video they would find appealing.
  2. Stay nippy. While getting creative with your banner is fantastic, make sure that it isn’t slowing down the loading time of the app as this will dramatically decrease your click-through rates.
  3. Get involved. If you’re choosing to advertise within a game, look at advertising and banner options that will allow your brand to form part of the game. This is one of the best forms of native advertising.
  4. Offer an incentive. Give users a reason to click on your banner such as a discount, exclusive or limited offers or even credits for the game they’re playing.

A brief overview of Google AdWords.

Google launched AdWords in 2000. Today they have millions of users who are using the platform to reach their unique target audiences. Many businesses swear by the platform but does this necessarily mean it’s the right choice for all businesses?

What is Google AdWords?

The AdWords platform allows business to be found online and connect with their customers. Businesses set an advertising budget and only pay once a user clicks on their ad. Your ads are displayed in various places across the web, including Google search results, Google search partner sites and on websites that are registered on the Google Display Network.

Your ads will only appear in front of an audience that meets your targeting criteria, which is why so many businesses choose to use this platform. Where your ads appear and how often they appear is dependent on your budget and your targeting.

Should you be investing in Google AdWords?

Before you move some of your marketing budget into AdWords, ask yourself the following questions.

  1. Who is your audience? Are you a business that needs to reach a very specific audience? If yes, AdWords is perfect for that. Besides social media, it’s one of the best ways to reach a person with particular interests that ticks specific demographic boxes, and resides in a particular area. Yes, Google has all this data.
  2. How quickly do you want to see results? While SEO is definitely an effective method for being found online, Google AdWords provides you with a much quicker way to do this.
  3. How quickly do you want new leads? The beauty of AdWords is that it’s highly scalable. The more you increase your PPC budget, the faster your leads and profits increase too. There’s no need to put in double the time, effort and budget just to get a handful of leads.
  4. Are you struggling to bring people back to your website? Google AdWords has incredible targeting capabilities. Past visitors can be tracked using cookies so if a user lands on your website, your ads will continue to follow them around the web, which keeps your brand top of mind.
  5. Are you seeing your competitors online? If you’ve recently noticed competitor ads popping up in your search results, on social media or on various websites, it might be sign that this is definitely a platform that’s working for them, so why aren’t you using it too?

If you answered yes to at least two of those questions, Google AdWords might be the ideal way for you to boost your brand online. It’s very easy to setup and their support team is always ready to help.

What are they and should your business be using them?

What is it that makes a consumer purchase a product or service? There are a number of factors at play such as value, price and whether the product or service helps solve a problem they’re currently experiencing. One other factor that greatly affects a consumer’s desire to purchase is whether someone they know also uses the product or has recommended it to them. In fact, 74% of consumers identify word-of-mouth as a key influencer in their purchasing decision.

The power of influencer videos

Video has quickly become one of the most powerful marketing vehicles available to brands today. Pair this with word-of-mouth marketing and you could really place your brand in a strong position in the marketplace and amongst your competitors.

Influencer videos allow you to partner with prominent public figures that your target audience follows or looks up to, and gives your brand the opportunity to benefit from a unique and effective marketing method that will almost certainly boost your business if done right.

Why your brand should use influencer videos

  1. Influencer videos are a unique marketing tool that allows your brand to get creative. It’s also an ad that can be used on multiple platforms such as social media, newsletters, YouTube and your website.
  2. Partnering with a strong influencer will give your brand an instant credit boost in the eyes of consumers.
  3. Influencer videos are great for general marketing but even better for the launch of a new product or service. An influencer will be able to create some real noise around the launch.
  4. If your product or services are somewhat complex in nature, an explainer video that uses an influencer is a fun and effective way to get your branding message across.

What you need to know about partnering with influencers

In order for influencer videos to be effective, they require proper planning and thought before going ahead or you might end up doing more damage than good to your brand.

You need to give some proper thought to who you want to partner with. You should never just base your partnership on the number of followers an influencer has, they need to be the right fit for your brand too.

Ask the following questions before you partner up:

  1. Would your audience listen if this person spoke on behalf of your brand?
  2. Does this person fit in with your brand’s identity and values?
  3. Has this person done anything in the past that could potentially damage your brand in the future?
  4. What are you willing to spend to get this influencer on-board with your brand?
  5. Have they recently partnered with any competitor brands?

Since not every influencer is going to jump at the chance to represent your brand, jot down several different people that you can approach, in order of preference, and approach them accordingly. You should also have a pitch ready because you need to convince the influencer of the benefits of your product before you can go any further.

Before you launch your video, make sure that you can measure its results. It’s important to be able to gauge how well it’s working and whether you perhaps need to change up the content. Most platforms such as social media and YouTube will be able to give you stats on your videos and if you have some form of analytics installed on your website you can track video success rates there too.

Loyalty programs are great but they aren’t right for everyone.

Running an online store can be a pretty tough business to be in but it’s also exciting and brimming with opportunities.

Online retailers constantly need to be on their toes and find ways to not only differentiate their stores but keep customers coming back, and most importantly, checking out.

Let’s face it, customers are loyal to the stores and brands that give them the most value, whether that’s in the form of affordable delivery costs and discounts or simply being to source the products that nobody else can.

While loyalty programs are one of the best ways to bring in new customers and to collect valuable data on your shoppers, it’s not right for everyone.

Here are a few things to consider before taking the leap:

  1. What are you selling? Customer loyalty programs work best with products that are purchased regularly such as cosmetics, vitamins or clothing. It makes more sense to offer loyalty rewards for products that customers will definitely be purchasing every other month.
  2. How saturated is the market? Does your online store sell a product that a lot of other stores sell too? If so, a loyalty program might be a good draw card and motivate new and existing customers to return. If your competitors have a loyalty program, you might want to consider one too if you want to compete.
  3. How will this impact you financially? You should only be implementing a rewards or loyalty program if it won’t leave your finances in the dust. If you’re going to end up making a loss, it might be better to put some additional budget into your marketing and advertising. You should also make sure that you have additional budget to promote your loyalty program should you choose to implement one.
  4. Are you aiming to be the cheapest? If you’re wanting to be seen as the cheapest option in your niche, a loyalty program isn’t for you because there will always be another brand that can offer a lower price. A loyalty program should be implemented in order to upsell customers and keep them coming back to your store.

Types of loyalty rewards

So what are some of the ways that you can reward your customers and keep them loyal to your brand?

  1. Implement a points system that allows shoppers to rack up a few points every time they make a purchase. Once they have accumulated a certain amount of points they can use it as a discount on their next purchase.
  2. Partner with other brands to offer a discount or package deal if the customer is a newsletter subscriber or has made a purchase within the last month.
  3. Gamification is always a fun way to build customer loyalty but this will require some planning and creativity. Make sure that whatever actions you’re asking your shoppers to take or goals you’re asking them to reach are attainable to prevent them from feeling frustrated or annoyed.

Why an integrated strategy is the most effective way to market your brand.

Content has been a part of marketing strategies for several years now, starting with SEO and finding ways to get Google to crawl your site. As Google updated their algorithms however, brands have had to become far more strategic about the content they create, how it’s perceived and also how it’s distributed.

Social media plays an important role in how your website ranks online, making the union of your content marketing and social media strategies a logical next step. Not only is this a step in the right direction but the fact that online users are craving original content on social media platforms makes you wonder why more brands aren’t already using this integrated approach to online marketing.

It’s important to see social media as an extension of your website, which is why it’s essential to make sure that your social media efforts aren’t falling flat while your website stats are soaring.

To gage just how well your social media pages are performing take a look at what percentage of traffic is coming from social media, how much engagement you are receiving from your content and how it compares to what’s happening on your website. While it’s not fair to make a direct comparison between your website and your social media pages, there should at least not be major discrepancies in activity between them.

Quick tips for easily integrating your social and content strategies

Don’t post and leave

Many brands tend to just promote their website content on their social media pages and leave it at that. Combining your strategies means finding a way to engage with your audience around your latest content instead of just hoping they’ll click through to your site.

Optimize

Something that a lot of marketers forget to do is to optimize their social posts just as much as they do their website blogs. Use keywords where appropriate while not stuffing your posts, this won’t work on search engines or your audience.

Work social into your blogs

While having links to your social media profiles on your website is a great first step, find a way to incorporate buttons and even call to actions into your posts. Make it easy for visitors to share your content on multiple platforms and ensure that your social media handles are pulled into the posts too for an extra boost.

Don’t forget the numbers

When it comes to finding out what works best, you need to focus on the numbers for both your website and your social media platforms. Find out what content works best, what fans are willing to share and the best time to post and engage.

Change things up

Your social media posts don’t always have to be links to your content. They can however fit in with your content. While you might want to upload a detailed blog post on your website, you can always use a series of eye catching images and headers to bring your point across on social.