Instagram Ads- It Is Time To Join The Party

InstagramAds

Instagram (Instant Camera + Telegram) has been a real social media darling for the past few years.  A true mobile platform, one which everyone has readily available in their pockets, it has dominated the content sharing landscape and has become the “go-to social network” for everyone from 17 to 70 years old.  It is so simple, yet so powerful as a messaging and communication medium and one which had yet to be ruined by marketers.  That was until the platform rolled out ads earlier this year, right?

When they first came out (only to a select group of massive brand advertisers) it was met with a lot of skepticism.  It was sure to destroy the purity of ‘the gram’ and users would start fleeing right away.  Well that didnt happen, and the platform opened up to the masses, but many didn’t jump in at first (Sircle and our clients included).  As the year went on we began to dabble with the ad units and started to see some real improvement and results, and now we are big buyers of IG Ads. Remember, Instagram is owned by Facebook which has an incredible ads platform with insane targeting capabilities. The ads are integrated right into the same dashboard, making it very intuitive and powerful if you are well-versed in Facebook ads.

Studies have shown that organic reach on IG is down and it is becoming a ‘pay to play’ platform now too.  While others are up in arms over this, we think it is great, because you are able to do some excellent things at very competitive costs.  As an example we took the below creative and ran some tests with it.  Organically this post received 40 likes, but when we put some money behind the same piece of great looking content, we were able to earn 412 and 334 likes (split audiences) with a $3 CPM. Even better, the target was to two different, hyper-local audiences (where the client is available for purchase) and made up of fans of direct competitors.

When we ran the same piece of creative as a dark post on Facebook, (with the same audiences) we had a CPM of $7.68 and very little engagement of any kind.  The Instagram ad was less expensive, earned them many more impressions and 748 likes.  At Sircle, we are all about content, engagement and growth as the foundation of social. Here we created a beautiful piece of content and found a way to cost effectively garner engagement, while seeing a huge uptick in reach. = Winner.

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Why Are Your Website Revenues Not Higher?

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Why are your website revenues not higher you ask?  For many brands, it might not be a traffic issue, but rather a conversion problem. So many companies think you can create a website with a “set it and forget it” mentality, but that just isn’t true. If you want to make money via your website (who doesn’t right?) then you need to be listening and paying attention to how people navigate your site. Furthermore, you need to be prepared to take action when you see something that is clearly not working. This practice is referred to as conversion optimization, and you should be in the game.

We have talked about the need for Google Analytics and custom dashboards here on this blog and the next question should be, then what?  If you are tracking behaviors like bounce rate, duration and page flow, then you will start to see areas that need fixing. There will be negative, actionable information like: Why do so many people go to this category page and leave right away?  Why do they get to the cart and abandon so frequently?  And conversely there will be positives such as: Why do people spend 3+ minutes on this page and why did this particular blog post garner so many views?  If you start asking these questions and diving into the pages, you will find opportunities to remedy and/or double down on the good. You must be doing this on a monthly basis.

Imagery, copy, colors, positioning and clear calls to action, are just some of the things you need to consider as you mold your site to be a better engine for business.  Having a partner to help you both strategize and implement the changes is very important.  Most brands don’t have someone on staff to make the calls and even fewer have a solid webmaster relationship in place to make updates in a cost (financial and opportunity) efficient manner.  As such, they often just don’t do anything, and that is a huge mistake.

Website revenue is a game changer for a business in any vertical, because the margins are typically higher AND you have a one-to-one relationship with the buyer. This should lead to increased frequency of purchases and a greater life time value from that user if you are doing things right. So the question isn’t why aren’t your revenues higher, the question should be – are you doing anything about it?

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Email Capture + WOM Marketing: Kill Two Birds With One Stone

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Are you capturing emails?  You definitely should be.  Emails are such an important component of your online marketing success. This “traditional” online channel allows you to get into your client’s/prospect’s email box which is more accessible than ever before given the proliferation of smartphone usage. This means you have an increased likelihood to get their attention, especially while on the move.

If you have a real content marketing strategy (as you should) then you will have relevant “stuff” to share with them outside of products and sales. You should be sending out content laden and behavior based emails to your various lists on a consistent basis and remain committed to providing value.

To get started, you need to get creative with your method for capturing emails.  Here our client Bombas Socks (who is just awesome all around) is being very smart, because they are capturing emails while also getting consumers to do some marketing for them. This is just sound strategy.

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On their homepage (in the top line navigation) they have an offer to get free socks, (which gets a lot of clicks obviously) that takes you to the image above. Once you enter in your own email address, they then tee up the ability to share in a few ways, which either earns them direct email captures OR some shares across social by the user (peer endorsement).

They then are offering a thing of value, in this case 25% off to the new user and a free pair of socks for the advocate. The brand gets new customers, the new customers get introduced to an awesome product (with a discount offer from a friend) and the referrer gets to be a connector to a great brand AND gets a free pair of dope socks. Everyone wins in this scenario and it really works as we see month in and month out.   Well played boys, well played!

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Google Analytics: Get Accustomed To Custom Dashboards

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Google Analytics provides website owners with so much actionable data to improve their business. The problem is that most companies don’t use them correctly or effectively and as a result they are squandering opportunities to generate online revenue.

For most the data is just overwhelming and/or confusing so they just don’t dive into it.  With some smart organization up front you can create custom dashboards that allow you visibility in a bite sized or even dumbed down fashion, so you can better understand what is going on. If you want actionable information that means something to you specifically, you need to have it served up in a simple way.  This is an important step towards online success.

Of course once the dashboards are setup, you also need to be committed to making the necessary changes based on the data.  If you are serious about your business, then you should be armed and ready to make those moves.

Here we explain custom dashboards a bit further.  Just hit play:

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#SircleSquad Spotify Take Over: Alexis Futoran

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Here at Sircle Media we are all about music and we jam all day long while working hard for our clients.  We have some crowd favorites that get us all singing out loud; think Journey, Billy Joel and we all seem to really dig Ed Sheeran. We also each have our own style and unique tastes, so we thought we would share some of the songs we are really feeling with you our fans and clients.

To do this we are going to have a monthly DJ takeover where a member of The #SircleSquad will share their very own Spotify Playlist.  First up is Alexis Futoran.  Listen, enjoy and critique if you feel so inclined.

Just click on her mug to play:

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Start Getting Serious About Social Media, Or Lose.

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It is mind boggling to me how some brands and businesses are still debating whether or not they need a social strategy.  I hear things like “it doesn’t apply to my industry,” or “it doesn’t sell product or create revenue,” or “my client base doesn’t use this network or that,” etc. People…you are over thinking it. If you have set out to be in business, then you need to define your goals as a company and then layer in a social strategy that is consistent with them…This is fact, not fiction.

Social media is the internet and the various social networks are just a part of the ecosystem.  Look around; are people using computers, tablets and smartphones everywhere you look?  Trust me, you will be interacted with online and to not have a real, make sense strategy in place is detrimental to your business.  Stop the insanity.

Social media helps with branding, partnerships,  improved search rankings, lower marketing costs, better customer service and generating qualified leads and sales. These are just some baseline reasons, as to why you need a social presence and social minded strategy coming from the very top.  It is mission critical to stay the course on your social efforts if you ever plan to reap the benefits listed above.  It does not come over night. It requires time, energy and effort.  It is an undying commitment to be a good company and a provider of positive interactions.  If you are genuine in this approach people will take to it and they will buy.  Marketing costs will go down, sales will go up and your economic model will benefit greatly. Faking it will lead to clean up work, customer service issues and will be counter-productive to your company’s goals.

Each week you need to drive the message and focus on all of the benefits listed. It is not a marketing campaign that you run for 2 weeks and then review ROI’s and KPI’s on a spreadsheet.  Some success will be measured by gut, while some will be in responsiveness.  Some will change on a dime based on pivots in your industry or your business.  You need to define what is important to you (aesthetic? service? troubleshooting? interaction?) and then execute a plan that is consistent with any and all of those.

It is a living and breathing thing and will develop with your brand.  It is not a silver bullet, it is a suit of armor that will allow you to be strong and win online. This social media plan must be planted, and then you must nurture it and let it grow. Then you will be the beneficiary of a business built to last.

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Should You Have A Blog?

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If you own a business and you wish to sell a service or product then the answer is yes.  In order to be found on search engines and have some sort of hook to bring prospects to your site and/or stick around for awhile, a blog is a must have component of your online strategy.

Blogs can be daunting as many people are not great writers and most feel that they don’t really have anything compelling to say.  A blog (web-log) that captures content and makes it available for consumption is a very straightforward proposition.  We believe it is basically just a receptacle for anything OTHER THAN the product or service you want to sell.  You should have static pages on your website (which should be updated from time to time too) but you then need a more dynamic component where you continuously add new content.

You don’t need to be Shakespeare by any means.  You just need to commit to the cause and continue to write things about your business, your brand and perhaps just trends in your industry.  Keep the content short and to the point, but stick to the program and remain committed to consistency above all else.  Adopt a website first philosophy and always ask yourself “how,when and where can I run that piece of content through my domain” and then execute.

Use social and other channels to distribute the blog content and even target people with Facebook Ads who would be specifically interested in a point of view on a specific topic. This is where Facebook’s excellent targeting capabilities can pay real dividends.

Click the video for a little deeper insight:

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