On Instagram Stories data…

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Instagram stories have been adopted by more than 300 million daily users and there have been a number of recent integrations with Facebook, that have made the reach and exposure that much more compelling. I have talked about our POV on stories before and the data just continues to prove out that stories are a place to be if you want to market where people are paying attention.

I recently read Delmondo’s Instagram story analytics report, that reviewed more than 800 active Instagram accounts and there were some key findings.  I pulled them out and highlighted them below along with my quick take:

- User consumption is high and brands are (tentatively) making grabs for their attention- Of the 800, only 16% had posted a story within the last 30 days. 

16% is low, which means many brands are not taking advantage of this medium.  So if you are a marketer at a brand, you should be paying attention and capitalizing where others arent!

- Influencers are right At home- A key performance metric of interest during the analysis was completion rate. Who watched a story from start to finish? Influencers are in the lead for completion rate, given that high post performance is part of the criteria in needed to be an influencer. 

Influencers are leading the charge and seeing excellent consumption rates. When working with an influencer, stories are great and perhaps should be the first choice!

- Keep your storyboard tight- There is a strong correlation between story length and completion rate, with a downward trend synced with an increase in the number of posts per story. 

Think about your message flow and don’t just go on a posting spree. Also, consider front-loading more important brand messages in a storm or collection of stories.

- Leverage early afternoon and late evening key posting times- This is when completion rate was at over 70%.

Be thoughtful about when you post to maximize consumption potential of your content!

Instagram stories have got to be in your marketing mix if you are looking to broadcast messages on social.  If you sit on the sidelines, then the story about you, will be that you blew it. ;)

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On the decreasing value of Instagram followers…

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It seems like all any brand wants to talk about these days, is growing their Instagram follower numbers. So many are caught up in that vanity metric and are losing sight of some of the more important elements such as engagement, reach and the emergence of the platform’s awesome Ad’s platform.

If you are growing a follower base of highly engaged users who want to hear about your brand, that is great. The problem is that most of your followers aren’t even seeing your content these days as Instagram constantly adjusts its algorithm and more and more brands and users are publishing content. It is just very difficult to get your content in front of those user’s eyes.

Many experts predict that the platform is also most likely going to migrate to a real pay to play model next year, (remember, they are owned by Facebook who did the same years back) whereas you will need to pay for content to be seen by targeted audiences. As a marketer who is well versed on their ads platform, I think it is great as they are teeing up very affordable ways to target super specific audiences.

If/when this happens, your follower count will be as irrelevant as your fan count on Facebook. If your metric for success on Instagram is follower numbers then you are swimming against the tide here. You should be focused more on your ability to reach audiences with your messages, and less on aggregating that follower count number on your own account.

We are big fans of Iconosquare here at Sircle and they just released some new tools to help you delve deeper into your Instagram metrics and performance. One standout is their reachability report, which we screenshot and added below:

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This is from a client of ours with over 30,000 followers on Instagram. As you can see, about 45% of their audience is deemed “rarely reachable” or “unreachable”, meaning their content is almost never seen by almost half of their audience.  Upon deeper investigation you can see their average reach per post and average reach rate below:

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The image on the left shows the average number of people who have seen one of their posts in the last 30 days. The image on the right shows the average reach rate per post, which is the number of people who have seen the post divided by their number of followers.  Both are in the 20% neighborhood which means 1 out of every 5 followers.

For this same account, we currently average $4 CPM’s with IG Ad’s.  That means that for $24 we could hit 6000 users and those would be more targeted and valuable than their follower base, which has been collected over the past few years. Also, when we gift and/or collaborate with influencers in the 50-100K follower range, we see similar exposure too.

The bottomline is that while Instagram follower count growth feel nice, it packs much less of a value punch than most think. As brands contemplate the ROI and value of social media and start planning for Q4 and/or 2018, they might want to revisit that as a KPI or at least move it way down in the pecking order.  If it is targeted reach they are after, there are better options and they don’t even need to leave the Instagram platform.

#Facts

 

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On understanding digital, for your business…

Almost every single meeting I go to these days, involves a conversation around brands wanting to grow their own e-commerce, so they have more margin control and customer data that is truly their’s, rather than a partner like Amazon’s. The problem is that most founders, brand managers and even CMO’s lack the digital chops to get it done. That is not an insult, just an observation from the field.

Truth is there are plenty of great branders and marketers out there who never had to learn digital, especially this current landscape we live in. Nowadays many are just a bit outside of their comfort zone. As a result, they either try silo’d tactics with shiny platforms like Curalate, HubSpot, Mixpanel, Bounce Exchange etc., that ultimately fail because they are not part of a bigger, more strategic plan OR just sit on the sidelines and don’t actually do what they know deep down needs to be done.

We created a product called The Digital Deep Dive a couple of years back to help brands change that trajectory and get a handle on their digital footprint. With each passing month the need gets stronger and the ecosystem becomes more diverse and difficult to navigate. You must be looking under the hood to assess if you are doing things the right way and that you are setup to win. It is not a complex concept and the impact is a powerful and meaningful one for any online business.

Ready to get serious about content, analytics, email, marketing and conversions?  Just DIVE in!

 

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Pay to Play on Facebook: Does it Pay?

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Facebook is a beast of a marketing platform, that drives amazing results. Period, end of paragraph.

Brands still struggle to get their head around this for some reason.  Facebook (like most platforms) gave “the goods” away for free at first (and for a long time) and once they grew up and decided it was time to make some money, people freaked out. This is a mistake, because A) of course that was coming, B) you just need to be nimble and adjust and C) if you aren’t taking advantage of this paid platform, then you are leaving a lot of money on the table.

I just think everyone needs a reset of sorts, to help them reassess Facebook in general. There is nothing more powerful in your arsenal and you must incorporate it into your digital plan. Remember, when you pay Facebook, you are unlocking their awesome targeting opportunities and you are guaranteeing delivery of content to a specific audience. Not partaking because you are angry that Facebook transitioned to a pay to play platform is the definition of cutting off your nose to spite your face. DON’T DO IT!

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Take the image to the left for example. This client was running a special on Good Morning America and offering a limited time offer of 50% off, as a way to generate e-commerce sales and acquire new customers. They have a very high retention rate (because their products are awesome) and they wanted to bring in revenue to their site (for a short term $ boost) and to help create some new user profiles, that would likely translate to long term and repeat customers. It is all about Life Time Value (LTV).

To help stoke the flames of this offer, we decided to boost this timeline post to two strategic audiences for $50 each. Fans of the brand (many of whom might not have purchased on the website before) and website visitors, who had not yet purchased on their website. This means they had been to the site, but never consummated a sale.

The results: 22,000+ reached, 378 clicks and (not seen here) $953 in revenue from this one post.

This was a solid investment from an up front ROI point of view, and an excellent way to initiate the life time funnel. Now we can implement some email CRM sequences and engage them in a much deeper conversation with the brand.

Did it pay to play?  Yessir.

 

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$ocial Media

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Social media generates revenue, that is a fact.  I think so many brands cannot get their head around that and are almost looking to prove the opposite to be true.  The same people who tell me how they know they need a social media strategy, constantly say things like it is “a lot of fluff that doesn’t really move the needle.” (an actual quote). They downplay the value of the efforts and think it is all about a bunch millennials in hoodies taking selfies all day.  It is like they need to be in it, just because their competition is, but not because it actually makes money.  Ludicrous!

Now it might be that they are employing a very myopic view of social media.  If they are trying to track how their Facebook post on February 2nd directly lead to a sale, then they are going about it all wrong.  It is much bigger than that. Not only is it a function of a much deeper Facebook strategy, but Facebook (and other social networks for that matter) are just a part of the ecosystem. They need to be looking at onsite content, emails, search, retargeting, display, Ads (of various kinds) and social monitoring and messaging when assessing if their social strategy works. Too many companies have different departments, often with conflicting agendas overseeing these efforts and/or are using different partners for these services.  This silo approach sets them up to fail.

We recommend you have them all “under one roof” and working in sync to glean the most value and results from all of it.  Each little step is part of a bigger journey and it works best when you don’t have too many different agendas and personalities involved.  You need to make a threshold decision to win online, create a roadmap and then get to work.

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Here is a screenshot from an actual report we provided to a client today.  In June of ’15 they fired their AdWords Agency and their “SEO guy” and they turned over all of the social/digital efforts to us.  We handle content creation and strategic distribution through social, email, retargeting and social advertising and we actually paused AdWords efforts (other than a minor spend on their brand name). Not that AdWords don’t work (they do) but because they just weren’t right for them, at least for now.  We worked hard to generate website traffic (check out their sessions) and then convert that traffic through a smart and streamlined follow up strategy, employing all of the tools at our disposal.

The results: we doubled monthly revenue, from $60,000 to $127,000.  Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

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Instagram Ads- It Is Time To Join The Party

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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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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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Remarketing and Retargeting- A Must Do!

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If you are marketing online and have an e-commerce component to your business, then you MUST BE retargeting. There is so much data out there on user behavior and you can/should be marketing to people based on their website visits, email signups, social actions and even search, if you want to get really nasty.

This piece by Kissmetrics is a really solid primer on some of the tools out there to help you with your efforts in this arena. Here is an excerpt from the piece that really dumbs down the premise:

“A customer steps into your shop, inquires about a particular product, and then leaves without buying. You know there’s a potential sale, and there’s every chance that person will be buying a similar product sooner rather than later.

How would you like to send some of your sales people to follow that visitor, reminding them of your business wherever they go? In fact, reminding them to the extent that your business/brand is the first and only name that comes to mind when they are about to make a purchase?

Sounds like an insane idea in the real world. Even if your sales staff doesn’t get beaten up for stalking, the cost alone would make it impossible to pull off.

But that’s exactly what remarketing (a/k/a retargeting) services enable you to do in the online world.”

Retargeting helps assuage some of the biggest ‘areas of concern’ when it comes to social media marketing. Such as:

  • Reduced cost per impression
  • Better conversion rates
  • Improved ROI
  • Precise targeting
  • Cost effective branding

Read up, arm your brain and then get going.

 

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Facebook Marketing- Must Not Be Ignored

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I meet with clients and prospects on the daily, who tell me that they are not advertising on Facebook, because there is no ROI or EVEN WORSE because they don’t want to have to pay to reach an audience they worked so hard to harvest and develop over the years. It’s as if Zucks is the leader of the evil empire and should be boycotted, because his amazing company wants to charge you to access their insane amount of data.  Damn him for being a capitalist and for creating the best targeting platform for marketers on the planet. While others walk away, I will continue to run towards this amazing advertising and targeting tool.

Below is a screenshot from one of our client’s Facebook Ads accounts, that breaks down just one of their awesome and successful Facebook Ads campaigns from September.  Yeah you read that right, $598 spent and $11,033 earned.  I am no math expert, but that sounds pretty good.

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The targeting here was to three different sets: 1) Website visitors from the last 30 days, excluding those who actually did purchase and who are not already fans on Facebook. 2) Facebook fans who hadn’t visited the website in the last 30 days. 3) Website visitors from the last 30 days, who are also fans of the page. I bet you didn’t know those were all options, did you?

It is pretty powerful to target in these ways, while they are on Facebook and bring them back to the site for purchase. Sometimes they just need that extra touchpoint and nudge. Why would any marketer not at least explore this type of approach, before just unilaterally dismissing advertising on Facebook.

If you are ignoring Facebook Ads completely you are compromising your ability to win online. I encourage you at least explore the options before passing.  You will be pleasantly surprised by what you can do, and your ROI argument will start to change a bit.  #getinvolved

 

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