Blogging is one of my favorite ways to drive traffic to your website and engage with your audience.
But for those of you who have been staying up to date about the newest marketing trends, you know that video content has been on the rise.
Blogs that contain videos have triple the amount of inbound links compared to blog posts without videos.
So it's understandable why you might be interested in starting a video blog.
Based on all of these numbers, it's no secret that people love to consume video content. But establishing yourself as a prominent video blogger can be a daunting task, especially if you've never done it before.
There are so many factors to take into consideration.
What kind of equipment should you use? How do you behave in front of the camera? How do you promote your new video blog?
You're not the only one who has recognized these video trends. Research shows that businesses are planning to add more content distribution channels in the next year.
Do you see a common pattern in the top three responses? All of these are platforms for video distribution.
So for those of you that need some pointers for launching a new video blog or improving your existing one, you've come to the right place.
These are the top 12 tips to keep in mind if you want to run a successful video blog.
1. Invest in a high quality microphone
Audio is one of the most important aspects of your video blog. People need to be able to hear what you're saying.
Having a quality microphone can help make sure that you're not wasting any time recording your blog. Sometimes, you're going to have poor video quality. It happens.
But even if your video sucks, you can always salvage the audio and use that for something like a podcast. Or you can use the audio to voiceover a presentation or something else that's not live.
Your computer has a microphone built into it, but you can do better. Even some cheap cameras don't have the best microphones.
If your video blog is something that you want to take seriously and do often, high quality audio needs to be a priority.
So which type of microphone should you get? I'll be honest with you, I'm not an expert when it comes to this type of equipment. You'll need to do some research yourself.
But with that said, you shouldn't have to spend a fortune on this investment. You should be able to find what you need for roughly $100 or less.
Just make sure that you're able to balance your audio levels with the microphone. Test it out each time before you start broadcasting so you don't waste time recording audio that's unusable.
Know your environment. Where do you plan on recording the most?
There are certain microphones that are meant for different things, such as being in a large room with echoes, outdoors with high winds, or in areas with crowds and lots of background noise.
So find a microphone that's suitable for your broadcasts. It's worth the investment.
2. Make sure you have proper lighting
We've all seen videos that look unprofessional. Everything from those low-budget local commercials to your family home videos.
It's unacceptable for your video blog to look like this. So it's important for you to understand the concept of a basic three point lighting setup.
Sure, sometimes you're going to be filming on the go. So it's not always reasonable for you to be carrying around an entire studio worth of lights with you.
But if lots of your video blog content is going to be filmed in your home or apartment, you should definitely have these lights set up like the example above.
Lighting can do so much for the quality of your video. These are the three terms that you need to get familiar with.
Your key light will serve as your primary light. For the most part, it's placed on the right side of the camera and should be roughly three feet higher than your eye level.
The key light will be the brightest of these three lights. Angle it at a downward angle so it replicates the sun and has a natural lighting effect.
Due to the angle of your key light, there will be a shadow. So you'll need to a fill light on the opposite side of the camera to eliminate that darkness.
With two lights placed in front of you, you'll need a back light behind you so that it looks natural. Otherwise, you may have some dark shadows on your shoulders.
The back light should be diffused so it's the least bright of the trio.
You don't need to spend a fortune on your lights, but you should keep in mind that inexpensive lights won't last forever. So if you're in this for the long haul, it may be worth it to invest now and save yourself some money down the road.
Whenever you're shooting outside of your home or office, you need to position yourself properly with natural lighting resources.
Use the sun to your advantage when you're filming outdoors. Try to position your camera so the sun would be at the same angle as your key light.
3. Add captions to your videos
Not everyone will be watching your video with volume. So you'll need to add captions to your content.
You'll have much higher engagement rates if your video blog has captions. Videos with captions have 40% more views. Furthermore, the chances of a viewer watching your entire video increases by 80% if you make closed captions available.
Are you planning to share your video blog on Facebook? Take a look at these numbers.
85% of videos on Facebook are watched on mute. So it makes sense that captions can increase the view time by 12%.
Think about all of the different scenarios when someone will be watching your video blog. They might be at work, at school, or in a room full of people that they don't want to disturb.
Do you watch all videos with the sound on? Probably not. So make sure that you add captions to all of your video blogs.
4. Get yourself a decent camera
Let's get back to talking about your equipment. In addition to a microphone and lights, you'll also need to have a reliable camera.
Again, I'm not saying you need to go spend thousands of dollars on this. Just make sure that you take certain factors into consideration before you make a purchase.
Depending on where you are going to be filming, you won't always have access to a power outlet. So battery life is really important if you're filming on the go.
You should also consider the size of your storage cards. You'd hate to be in the middle of filming great content and run out of space on the camera.
The physical size of your camera should also be at the top of your priority list. Make sure that it's small, easy to hold, and convenient to transport.
If you don't have your camera with you at all times, it's not the end of the world. You can definitely use your computer or smartphone for some videos.
But if you are really serious about becoming a successful video blogger, carrying a high quality camera with you everywhere you go will give you the opportunity to film great content any time you have some inspiration or see something that's cool and worth filming.
You should also know the video format that your camera records.
Popular formats include .mov, .avi, .mp4. This is important to know depending on how you plan to edit, export, and share your videos. You want to make sure that the format can easily be converted.
5. Find the right screen capture software
Sometimes you won't even need a camera to video blog. Well, at least not for all of your posts.
If you want to show your audience how to do things on your computer, you'll need to be able to record your actions with software like ScreenFlow.
You'll have to pay for the software, but it's worth it if you plan to do any screen recordings on your Mac.
For those of you who are PC users, you can use something like Camtasia instead.
There are other options out there too. But these are my top choices for Mac and PC. So you can use them as a reference point in terms of price and features if you're shopping around.
6. Be personal and engaging
Part of being a successful video blogger means that you need to have a great personality. So don't be shy, timid, or boring.
If you've got a sense of humor, let it shine.
Remember, this is your video blog. So there aren't any rules when it comes to the type of content that you're sharing.
Just be aware that anything you say or do could affect your personal and professional brand. So I'd recommend staying away from controversial topics. But go for it if that's a risk you're willing to take.
Mix up your content so it's engaging. Nobody wants to watch the same thing every day, week, or however often you plan to upload a new video.
7. Give your audience a reason to watch
This relates back to our last tip about engaging with your audience. There are some questions that you need to answer about the direction of your video blog.
What is the point of your video? Are you teaching your audience how to do something? What are your qualifications?
Sure, video blogs can be entertaining, informative, or both. But you need to make sure that your audience has an incentive to watch.
Unless you've got one of the best personalities in the world, nobody is going to want to just listen to you talk about your day.
Understand what your audience wants and give it to them.
8. Learn how to edit effectively
You'll need to know how to edit your videos before you publish and upload them. Just make sure you don't go crazy with this.
Lots of cuts and edits don't look professional. If you've got a Mac, you can use basic software like iMovie to get the job done.
It's great if you've got multiple iOS devices that you'll be recording on.
For windows users, Movie Maker is the equivalent free software.
These tools are necessary because they can help you accomplish basic needs like trimming clips and piecing videos together.
You can adjust the audio and things like that as well. Just don't go overboard with too many effects or it will look unprofessional.
9. Encourage users to comment
Another way to keep users engaged is by enticing them to comment on your video blogs. This can be easy if you position your videos accordingly.
Ask for their opinions. Try to spark a discussion or a debate.
If you take a stance on a particular subject, say something like, “Well let me know what you guys think in the comments section.”
Respond to comments as well. This is a great way to keep people coming back to your content even when you haven't uploaded a new video.
If you're handling this effectively, you could be getting new comments on videos that you uploaded months or even years ago.
10. Host an interview
If you think your content is getting stale or you need to spice it up with something new, bring guests onto your video blog.
Sure, people may love you. But seeing the same face over and over again could get old and boring.
So bring in an expert on a particular subject. Do you have any connections to an athlete, movie star, or some other celebrity? Even if they are a D-list actor, a fresh face can help you build hype for your video blog.
If you don't have those kinds of connections, just ask your friends. I'm sure you've got someone in your circle or in your family who is funny and has a great personality.
It's all about keeping your content fresh. So don't think that your video blog needs to be about just you every time.
11. Distribute your content
Once you've recorded a video blog, you've got to get it into the hands of as many people as possible. YouTube is the best platform for video distribution.
All of my video content starts on my YouTube channel.
The great thing about YouTube is that you can always repurpose your videos after you add them to your channel.
Post these videos to social media. Add video blog links to your website. Send video content out to your email subscribers.
If you've got a written blog as well, you should be writing about your video blogs and embedding links in your content to drive more traffic to your videos.
12. Keep recording
You won't use every piece of film that you record. So don't be afraid to tape as much content as you can.
That's why it's important to have a camera with you as often as possible.
You can always filter through the content later and discard it if it's not that great. Or save it to your archives and maybe find a way to use a clip for a later broadcast.
But regardless, it's important that you're always recording so that you don't miss out on any opportunities.
Telling your audience about an experience is one thing, but being able to show them the video to back it up will make your video blog that much better.
With video trends on the rise, it's a great idea to start a video blog. But with so many other people out there doing the same thing, it can be difficult to separate yourself from the crowd.
Take the tips that I've outlined above and apply them to your video blog if you want to be successful.
You need to start off by doing simple things like getting the right equipment and editing software.
After that, it comes down to your personality and marketing ability to get your video content out there for people to see.
Follow these basic concepts and your video blog will rapidly grow in terms of traffic, view time, and engagement.
Which tools, software, and principles have you used to drive more traffic to your video blogs?
Every now and then, the overlords of the Internet decide to change things up in the digital marketing world.
And with how fast things change, it can sometimes be easy to miss a noteworthy tidbit of news.
One such tidbit recently came to light, and it's definitely worth your attention.
Namely, Facebook has started taking steps to change the Organic Reach of pages on their platform.
And that has some implications for everyone.
It doesn't matter if your Facebook Page shares memes, connects a community, or is a landing page for your brand.
You're going to see some changes, and chances are they will come sooner rather than later.
To help cut through the clutter and keep a clear picture of the path ahead, I'm going to lay out what's actually changing.
And at the end, we'll give you some insightful ways to come out ahead.
Hopefully, you'll be able to take action accordingly and still have a healthy Facebook presence.
But first, let's talk a bit more about what Organic Reach actually is, and why it's changing.
What is Facebook Organic Reach?
Organic Reach on Facebook is simply a measurement of how many people can find you on Facebook for free.
It's much like organic rankings on a search engine, although in the case of Facebook it's based on aspects like popularity, post frequency, and other contributing factors.
And when you think about the current state of Facebook, it seems logical that Facebook would be making some big changes.
With more and more content being generated and shared, plus with how the News Feeds curates the content you see, it's natural that Facebook would need to fine-tune their system from time to time.
And so Facebook is making changes.
Specifically, they're changing Organic Reach to look and feel a little more like the Paid Reach measurements.
The newer look really only changes a few minor elements, but the numbers will look bad nonetheless.
Previously, Facebook counted Organic Reach as any time an unpaid post appeared in someone's News Feed.
Now, Organic Reach will only give you a hit if your unpaid post actually enters a person's screen.
The changes don't affect how your post is shown to anyone, nor does it really change anything about how posts are displayed at all.
It just affects how Organic Reach is tallied, but that makes a difference.
The seeming paradox then is that you can expect your Organic Search traffic to take a big hit, but that particular metric should be a lot more accurate.
According to Mark Zuckerberg, there's a good reason for the death of Facebook's Organic Reach:
He goes on to discuss how Facebook will be changing to mitigate this issue.
Specifically, Zuckerberg wants Facebook to be better geared to curate content that builds meaningful relationships.
And it's worth mentioning that Zuckerberg himself lost about $3.3 billion because of this decision.
But what exactly is this “death” in terms anyone can understand?
More importantly for you, how might this affect your business?
To give you an idea, you have to look back a little bit.
Because as of June 2016, the Organic Reach of a Facebook Page had fallen to a mere 2%.
That's a crazy drop from just four years prior, and Facebook and Zuckerberg still think that there's too much Organic Reach for a Page.
So it's pretty clear that if 2% reach is too much, we're nearing the end of an era in terms of Organic Reach being the best viable option for spreading your brand on social media.
And the implication is pretty clear for business owners.
Your page is going to have less Organic Reach.
And with Reach dropping, you can fully expect that engagement is going to go with it.
So at this point, you're probably wondering if there is any hope beyond the doomsday hype?
The answer is yes.
Because Organic Reach is not totally gone, and it probably won't ever be.
The key here is to simply understand the changes taking place in the Organic Reach algorithms.
The consensus is that Facebook waging war against low-quality content, which means there are still avenues you can take that will help your Organic Reach.
You simply need a different strategy than saturation.
So now that you know what's going on, let's look at some ways you can use these changes to your advantage.
Tip #1: Focus on quality, not quantity
First and foremost, you need to understand that Facebook is changing to emphasize quality over quantity.
I'm going to repeat that for emphasis: Quality over quantity is the first place to start.
There's been a long-running misconception that posting more or less on Facebook equates to more reach, but that's as ludicrous as treating a “Like” as a useful metric.
You're just making things worse for yourself if your goal is to post as frequently as possible, especially with the new changes.
And posting infrequently doesn't do you any favors either.
Because the data points to a truth that couldn't be further from a quantity-driven approach.
First of all, studies have shown that a moderate amount of posting seems to edge out posting too much or too little.
So when there are fewer posts, it becomes less likely that a post gets lost in your audience's feed.
Which means your Organic Reach is going to do better with just a few, high-quality posts.
But don't get carried away thinking high-quality posts can still be posted as often as possible.
Because the data still points in the opposite direction.
Buffer conducted some tests that help prove this point beyond any doubt.
They started by evaluating how many posts were being created per day on their Page.
As you can note, over the course of 2016 and into 2017 they say a fairly significant drop in how many times they posted.
To be precise, they were posting at half the peak rate by the middle of 2017.
And oddly enough, this trend helped them increase their Organic Reach:
They went from capping out with an Organic Reach of ~70,000 to a top reach of ~170,000.
That's a 100,000 Reach spike that can be directly related to the frequency with which they posted on their Page.
And what's more, they also saw a boost in direct engagement from this study as well:
This is a powerful illustration of how simply posting less and focusing on quality can improve your overall Organic performance on Facebook.
And this isn't just a fluke.
It starts and ends with original and share-worthy content that will actually engage your audience.
Which means you need to focus less on pumping out content and focus more on crafting something that's truly shareworthy.
You'll see better Organic Reach, and you won't regret it.
Tip #2: Know what your audience is looking for
A high-quality post isn't just going to come from nowhere.
It starts with a more concerted effort to offer higher-quality content around your brand as a whole.
That means finding topics that are meaningful and then generating something that's both shareworthy and relevant.
The more specifically targeted your approach, the better off you'll be.
Small changes go a long way in improving quality, and the ultimate application is up to your unique brand.
The only way to truly know what “quality” means for your Page is to create some, test it, and then start making changes.
But that doesn't mean you don't have any other direction before you just start creating content.
One place you can start is simply by knowing which posts are right on Facebook, such as video.
Sharpie does a great job of creating interesting video that generates views and shares throughout their audience.
Here's a recent example of one of their videos that partners Sharpie with NBA star Chris Paul:
Even if you can't partner with a celebrity, you can use video to help boost your Organic Reach and increase engagement.
And success on Facebook through video isn't just speculation either.
There are plenty of success stories, like this one from Audi:
Even in the highly competitive automotive industry, they were able to boost their lead generation by almost 12%.
And if that doesn't convince you, I highly recommend you go check out more success stories.
It doesn't even have to be long video either, as Facebook recently launched their own Boomerang application.
And whether you use video or not, just remember that high-performing and popular Facebook posts are a mixture of entertaining and educational.
Don't mistake that as an either/or situation.
You need a mix of both if you want to succeed.
Most importantly, I recommend looking into what online audiences are actually consuming these days.
You might love creating and sharing your podcast for a blog post, but you'll get more facetime with a sharp video or even just a simple photo.
And then there's also the problem of engagement baiting, which Facebook has started to crack down on.
You might think it's okay to ask for Likes, Shares, or “votes,” but the dark days of those posts are behind us.
Facebook now filters posts like these and gives them a lower priority than posts with more engaging content and imagery.
So all things considered, you have a lot to consider when you're trying to pin down what your audience wants to see.
But if you put in the effort, you can develop a system that keeps your brand in the spotlight without dipping into your ad budget.
Tip #3: Consider your timing
You may have heard the news already, but there is such a thing as an “optimal time” when you're posting to Facebook.
It just depends on a few essential elements.
The basics are pretty simple though.
Knowing when Facebook tends to be most active overall can help you time your posts accordingly.
Studies show that sharing at different times will affect Likes, Shares, and overall engagement statistics.
You can also try to take advantage of multiple spikes like this, but remember you want quality over quantity.
One or two posts per day will do just fine.
If you post at the right time, it's more likely that your audience will actually be on to see your post.
That by itself could increase your Organic Reach and help you engage with your followers.
But keep in mind that performance can be industry specific as well, so do your homework before you simply start changing all of your posting times.
And once you check your own industry's trends, make sure that the information you uncovered accurately matches your own audience by examining your own Facebook Page's Insights tab.
Your goal here is to simply avoid posting at times when your audience is unlikely to see posts.
If there's a verifiable time when engagement and Reach dips, you might not want to share your best content at those times.
And there are a lot more studies on this topic than just the ones above.
Kissmetrics has put together research that verifies the science of timing posts.
All of this research points to one thing in regard to Organic Reach.
Namely, that it's best for you to let the Facebook algorithm focus on delivering one piece of content to your audience.
This approach mitigates the need for Facebook to filter and select your strongest content.
If you only ever share your best content at the best times, Facebook will still work well for you.
The trick is just to know when to post on Facebook.
Do your own research, and then use the results you find to your advantage.
Tip #4: Variety helps, so start curating
Curation can be a tricky topic.
Why would you want to put another brand's content on your page?
Isn't that counterintuitive?
You may be surprised, but it could actually help.
Recent studies suggest that the curating on Facebook can solve many common issues faced by marketers:
As long as you're mindful of brands and companies that have a strong following or high brand loyalty, you can leverage a strategic tag to increase your own engagement.
So it's a good idea to start sharing more curated content in addition to the content you create.
Curating content is the relatively simple process of finding great content from other sources on the Internet and then sharing it with your own audience.
As long as you know your audience, and find posts that match your target, you can provide supplemental content that still helps your brand's Organic Reach on Facebook.
It's also a good idea to add tags to posts like this when and where it's appropriate.
In essence, this practice “signals” to Facebook that you have interesting content that needs to be shown more often.
As long as you're following your analytics closely with this type of targeting, you'll see good results over time.
Tip #5: Stop selling
One of the biggest toe-stubbing moves that can hurt your Organic Reach is trying to sell too much.
And with Facebook essentially turning the tables on solely commercial content, this is a bigger deal than ever.
But think of it in terms of volume alone.
Even in your own industry, you've likely found that there's an increasingly saturated social media network that you have to wade through.
With Facebook focusing more on engagement, simply trying to route traffic to your website can be a mistake.
That means that Facebook is also evaluating intent when it filters content.
This particular trend isn't exactly in your favor.
And when you tack on that Facebook users are savvy enough to filter out the content that they don't want to see even if it makes it past the News Feed algorithms, you have a recipe for disaster.
That's why understanding where social media fits into the sales funnel and focusing on brand awareness will serve you better for Organic Reach.
Social media is a top-of-the-funnel endeavor, and you have to treat it that way.
Going for a hard sell just isn't going to work, and that type of content is just going to get filtered out by either Facebook or your audience.
There's a greater need now more than ever to engage directly with your community.
That means instead of just posting random articles, you need to find ways to have discussions on your Page.
You need to spend more time being active and replying to comments on posts, even unhelpful ones.
Because your audience craves acknowledgement more than anything.
They just want to be heard.
Real-time engagement can help the Organic Reach of your brand more than a sales-oriented post ever could.
That's why you need to ditch the old sales funnel approach to social media and adopt a more accurate idea of what social funnels look like.
Notice how the elements in the top part of this funnel are more relationship oriented.
That's because your Organic Reach relies on audience building with Facebook, not sales.
And I can't over-emphasize how important this shift is.
Because business are almost always affected by changes to social networks, which is why the idea is to share content users are interested in and will actually engage with.
You need to worry about sales a little later, preferably once your audience is established and loyal to your brand.
Which oddly enough means you need to be smarter about your Facebook Ads budget.
Because that's one of the best ways to invest in building your audience with a longer funnel.
You need to embrace Facebook as a pay-to-play game, because it is for better or worse.
More and more marketers are coming to Facebook, and it's already the top source of paid social media in the world by a long shot.
Which means the only way you can play, or win, is to start investing your money in it wisely.
Try boosting posts that have already proven to be strong performers, not just the posts you think will perform well.
That means you need to post content first, then check your engagement.
Then if your audience engagement is strong, boost that post so that it reaches even more people.
In sum, create and boost great content, not just any content.
Because if recent trends have shown us anything, it's that we're only going to see an increase in spending on paid digital advertising in the coming years.
So learning to couple the pay-to-play element with the other tactics in this post is the best way to move forward.
Since you can't just rest on your laurels and coast off of Organic Reach anymore, you have to take action.
Tip #6: Consider an alternative route
The final piece of advice that I want to leave you with revolves around a rather unsung element of Facebook: Groups.
From a marketing point of view, Facebook Groups have been relatively incognito due to how a sort of risk-reward equation that always tipped more toward risk.
It was just easier to post on your Page, pay for your ads, and ignore Groups.
But now, they're looking more attractive.
And this makes sense. A Group around your brand is one that consumers will have to opt into.
Which means they get notifications and engage with your brand at a deeper level.
Plus, they're free, which can't be beat.
And Facebook has been giving quite a bit of attention to Groups lately:
With more than one billion Facebook users involved in Groups, we may well be looking at a new frontier for social media marketers.
It may take time to lay the groundwork and build your community, but there's no denying the potential power of your own Group.
They could be the ultimate answer to the Organic Search issue.
The truth of the matter is that Facebook Organic Reach is not dead.
It's just different than what you're used to.
Facebook has changed the game, but that doesn't mean you can't still play it well.
You just have to realize that your metrics only look different. In reality, your Organic Reach is more accurate than ever, which is a good thing.
But these changes require that you take a new approach to maintaining and improving your social engagement.
A simple change like focusing on quality over quantity is by far the best places to start.
But more than that, try to find the format that fits your audience. Use blog posts, images, and especially video to engage to the fullest.
Then take strides to post your best content at the right time on the right day of the week.
You can also start to curate content that your audience will be interested in, which tells Facebook that your content is shareworthy.
Overall, just focus on brand building, not sales.
And remember that Facebook is now a pay-to-play system for marketers. If you want to win, bring your checkbook.
Finally, start considering Groups as an alternative for opt-in engagement. You could be suprised by what you find.
At the end of the day, your Organic Reach rises and falls on how well you execute the strategies in this post.
All you have to do now is find a way to stick with these changes.
What methods have worked best for keeping Organic Reach up for your brand?
About the Author: Neil Patel is the cofounder of Neil Patel Digital.
We all want to be “successful” marketers.
But what does success in marketing even mean?
Sure, we can track analytics.
We can count how many social followers we have.
We can watch our number of website visitors grow.
But how do we know what is really successful?
When it comes down to it, there is only one judge for a successful marketing campaign.
There are dozens of “how to” guides and “best practices” marketers can follow.
But the truth of the matter is, if your audience doesn't connect with it, it doesn't matter how successful it was for another company or brand.
To truly develop a “successful” marketing campaign, understanding your customers is the only thing you need to do.
What is a customer-centric marketing approach?
Customer-centric marketing uses personalized messages, products, content, and more to ensure the consumer is getting exactly what they're looking for.
But a customer-centric approach needs to go beyond just your marketing.
It requires creating a “customer-centric organization, not just a customer-centric marketing department,” says IDC research analyst Gerry Murray.
Putting your customers' needs first can help improve relationships with your audience and retain customers.
This is because customers like to feel like they're being given special treatment.
In fact, 90% of consumers found personalization appealing, while 80% said they'd be more likely to do business with a company that offers personalized approaches.
With a customer-centric marketing approach, companies stop trying to tell their shoppers what they need.
This kind of traditional marketing has become unappealing and untrustworthy.
With 2 in 10 consumers stating they don't like online ads, it can be complicated to reach shoppers with traditional marketing.
This is where a customer-centric strategy works a bit differently.
Instead of pushing products and hoping someone will buy, customer-centric businesses craft their messaging, products, and content around the unique needs of their target audience.
Let's take a look at Southwest Airlines.
Airlines notoriously have a reputation for having poor customer service.
Southwest Airlines, however, has been able to remove themselves from this stereotype to provide a customer-centric marketing approach that their customers love.
They don't stuff their planes full of TV screens, big seats, or fancy meals and then demand extreme prices for these unnecessary luxuries.
Instead, they offer affordable pricing and won't charge you ridiculous fees for things like baggage or wanting to change your travel dates.
By giving them what they want – not what marketers think they want – they can gain more attention and see higher conversions.
This has put Southwest Airlines at the front of the airline industry when it comes to customer satisfaction.
Now, compare that to United Airlines – a company who hasn't had the best year.
United Airlines has struggled to put their customer's needs at the forefront of their business – and it's definitely cost them.
Due to their scandals, 67.3% of customers feel at least somewhat negative about the airline with 53.7% feel less willing to purchase a ticket from United Airlines.
Because customers have other options and feel undervalued or even threatened by the company's lack of attention, they'll turn elsewhere.
The importance of knowing your customers well
There are over 82 million blog posts published each month – just on WordPress.
Month after month, more and more companies and individuals are taking advantage of blogging.
However, consumers don't have time to waste on low-quality content they don't connect with.
And they don't have to.
If one article doesn't fit their needs, there are dozens more they can turn to.
The best way to stand out is by creating unique content relevant to the needs of your target audience.
In fact, 58% of content marketers said audience relevance was the biggest contributor to success.
When you can create content that fits the unique needs of your target audience, they can develop trust and familiarity with your brand.
This can make them more loyal to your company and products.
Having loyal customers who make repeat purchases can be a major benefit to your bottom line.
And, there's proof.
Loyal customers end up being worth ten times their original purchase.
This is because loyal customers are easier to sell to.
This dramatically reduces the amount of time that customer needs to spend being nurtured and convinced.
Instead, they can jump right back into the sales funnel.
In fact, past customers have a 65% chance of converting compared to a 13% chance for new prospects.
By paying attention to your customers' needs, you can reduce your marketing costs while bringing in more sales and profit.
Loyal customers are also more likely to support you in getting new business.
When a customer is happy with their brand, they'll want to share their experience with their friends and family.
These recommendations can help boost your trust with new leads and can get you more sales.
In fact, 82% of Americans say they look for recommendations from friends and family when they're considering a purchase.
When you stop trying to guess what your customers are looking for and start listening to what they're telling you, you increase revenue while creating long-term relationships.
It's a win-win.
Take a look at Harley-Davidson.
When you buy a Harley, you're doing more than just buying a motorcycle. You're becoming part of a tribe.
This kind of cult brand goes beyond simple brand loyalty.
Harley-Davidson built its reputation as a brand for individuals who don't play by the rules, but they went beyond that to make it their mission to bring like-minded individuals together.
By introducing their Harley Owners Group chapters, local Harley fanatics could get together for rides, charity events, and more.
At its peak, HOG had over 1 million members.
Harley-Davidson didn't simply create a brand their customers loved.
They created a lifestyle.
How to get to know your customers better
You're not going to get to know your customers overnight.
Your customers are dynamic people.
As their needs change, you change.
Amazon's CEO and Founder, Jeff Bezos, describes his approach to customers like this:
“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It's our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.”
As one of the most customer-centric companies in the world, it's safe to say Amazon knows a thing or two about getting to know their audience.
To help you pull a page from Amazon's book, here are five tips to get to know your customers better.
1. Build out your buyer persona.
A buyer persona is a guide to the individuals you are trying to attract.
Typically, a buyer persona would describe one ideal customer or client in great detail.
Here's a pretty basic buyer persona template from HubSpot.
Within this persona, you can outline some pretty basic information about your target audience.
This includes their basic demographics and background, and some unique identifiers.
However, if you really want to make your customers the focus of your marketing, you're going to want to get much deeper than this.
Compare HubSpot's template to this example from Iron Spring Designs.
While it still covers a lot of the same information as the basic persona, it dives much deeper into who the character really is.
Once you've created your basic buyer persona, think of how you can take it a bit further.
What challenges does your customer face?
What are they scared of?
Who influences their choices and how they live their life?
A lot of this information may not seem relevant to your brand and business, but getting the full picture can allow you to establish deeper connections.
Here's another great example of a persona you can pull from.
However, when creating your buyer personas, you can't simply create a customer from thin air – especially if you already have a loyal customer base.
Think about Gap's 2010 rebrand.
The clothing company, known for their basics and staples, decided to go for a younger, trendier crowd – all while neglecting their current customer base.
And people weren't happy.
While you can use your customer persona to shape the direction you want your business to go, you can't simply drop your old customers in favor of the new ideal clients you've thought up.
Instead, create multiple personas that can coexist.
Remember, creating personas shouldn't be a one-and-done type deal.
To truly understand your target audience and who they are, you need to watch how they evolve.
Come back and revisit your buyer persona every few months, or after a major shift in your industry occurs.
2. Listen to them on social media.
Our customers' social pages are a bit like their journals.
Except that they're willing to display everything in public.
By properly listening to your audience on social, you can learn a lot about what they're looking for and how they feel about your brand.
However, if you're strictly looking at mentions, posts, and comments directed at your business, you're missing out.
Social listening – which differs from simple social monitoring – provides businesses with insights about how they're meeting (or missing) client expectations.
Let's take a look at Chipotle.
The incredibly popular food chain has had a bit of a rough year, with multiple food safety scandals.
So, it's no surprise that food safety is at the center of the majority of conversations about them on Twitter.
However, Chipotle can also see that their customers are just as concerned about things like guac and queso as they are about their food safety.
To get a real idea of who your target audience is and what they expect out of you, you need to go beyond simple mentions to do so.
You can start by simply searching your company name within social platforms.
Here's a simple example of a Domino's customer on Twitter.
Although the user didn't post directly to Domino's account, they can still find this information from the search bar.
However, social listening tools can give you stronger insights and faster results.
Mention, for example, is a great tool for monitoring your brand anywhere online.
The dashboard gives you insights about who is posting about your brand, as well as where they're located and what kind of influence they have.
While it is important to pay close attention to the conversations you're not directly involved with, it's also crucial to connect when your audience comes to you.
42% of customers expect a brand to respond to them on social within an hour.
Actively watching for questions, comments, or feedback can give you insights into your customers while also getting a feel for the problems your audience may be experiencing.
Check out this response from Comcast, given not even a minute after the customer mentioned their problem.
Remember, social can act as a two-way street.
Don't be afraid to get involved in conversations, ask questions, and follow users you think can teach you more about your audience.
3. Create and send out surveys.
If you want to know something from your target audience, why not ask?
Surveys can provide you with direct insights or opinions that you wouldn't have otherwise been able to collect.
However, surveys aren't the easiest things to get your audience to participate in.
Luckily, there are a few things you can do to improve your survey response rate.
First, keep your survey simple.
Check out this example from The Yard.
This survey is about as easy as it can get.
Recipients aren't faced with a long survey that would take a serious time commitment to fill out.
Instead, all they need to do is click one button, and The Yard gets a better understanding of if their members are happy.
These kind of embedded surveys can improve survey engagement dramatically.
Take a look at this case study from Get Feedback.
Get Feedback decided to A/B test two similar email surveys, one containing a link to a web survey and another with embedded responses.
They found that the embedded survey actually increased starting engagement by 210% and saw 125% improvement in survey completion.
The embedded survey also had 66% fewer unsubscribers, indicating that users enjoyed this type of survey much more.
When creating your survey or quiz, you also want to humanize your messaging.
By saying things like “it would really help us” or “we'd love to hear your feedback,” you're showing that there is a real purpose behind the survey results.
You can also improve responses by featuring a progress bar.
Here's another example from SurveyMonkey.
Notice along the bottom how survey participants can see how close they are to being finished.
This progression bar lets them know when the survey will be over, making them more likely to finish it through.
However, Survey Monkey found that a progress bar doesn't always help.
For longer surveys, a bottom visual scale, top number, or bottom percent improved completions while bottom numbers and top perfects hurt.
On the other hand, top percents and top numbers reduced completion for short surveys while all bottom placements helped.
If you're going to use surveys as a way to get to know your target audience, you want to make the process as painless as possible for participants.
Keep questions short and to the point.
Also, be sure to analyze your results from surveys and how participants engage with them.
If you notice that participants are dropping out halfway through, consider what you can do to change this moving forward.
4. Look at the content they're engaging with.
Whether it's blog posts, videos, infographics, or images, customers are engaging with different forms of content consistently throughout the day.
In fact, U.S. adults are spending over 12 hours a day consuming media.
To better understand what they want and need, you need to be paying attention.
First, it's important to see what kind of content of your own they're connecting with.
The best way to do this is with your Google Analytics.
You can find your company's top pages by logging into Google Analytics, selecting “Behavior,” then “Site Content” and “All Pages.”
Here's an example from OptinMonster.
Knowing which pages are your most popular can help you understand what kind of content to create going forward.
Look for any particular patterns showing up in your popular pages.
Also, pay attention to the types of content they're engaging with.
If your audience prefers infographics over blog posts, you may want to work more infographics into your content strategy.
Also, you can head over to a competitor's social media page to see what posts are getting a lot of likes or shares.
Here's an example from Thrive Market.
Using this information, you can include recipe posts into your own strategy.
However, you don't want to copy competitors directly.
Instead, take what they provide and find a way to make it better.
Add new insights, create a better image or video, or go deeper into the subject to provide more value than your competitors did.
However you can, try to find a way to make your content more valuable than what is already out there.
5. Pay attention to the customers not converting.
There is no doubt there is a lot to learn from your customers.
However, there is probably a lot more you can learn from the leads who aren't converting.
This process can be a bit more complicated than just getting to know the customers who do buy.
After all, you don't have as much information on these leads as you do your customers.
To identify where you're losing leads, you want to consider the traditional buyer's journey.
Here's an example from HubSpot.
First, customers become aware of their problem.
They next consider what options are available for solving that problem.
Finally, they decide how they're going to get a solution.
Each buyer, regardless of industry, goes through this journey.
However, if you're getting introduced to buyers in the consideration phase and losing them before they make a decision, you could be doing something wrong.
It isn't likely that every individual that runs into your content is going to purchase from you.
In fact, conversion rates for content marketing are only about 3%.
But you still need to identify the leaks in your sales funnel.
You should be providing content for every stage of the buyer's journey.
By ensuring you're covering all your bases, you can guarantee each individual has the information they need to make it to the end.
You'll also want to consider areas where you see engagements, but not conversions.
Social is a prime example of this.
If you're constantly posting new content and getting hundreds of likes and comments, but don't see any sales, it means there is a serious disconnect going on.
The same is true for your blog posts or videos.
Try to switch up your CTAs, social posts, or even introduce a new form of content.
And you don't need to get too creative about what you add.
Take this dentist from Indiana, for example.
Dr. Sutor uses Facebook Live to talk about common dental problems – and gets thousands of views.
While these numbers aren't extreme, they're an easy way to bring in new potential leads and expand reach.
Make small changes that allow you to properly track how your audience is influenced and make a note of any improvements.
As you begin to learn what your target audience doesn't like, you can give them more of what they do like.
When it comes to marketing, stop assuming you know best.
If you're still trying to tell your audience what they need, you're never going to sell products.
Today's shopper understands their needs and the solutions available to them.
They're well-researched, smart, and unwilling to fall for the traditional sales tactics.
But when you work with them to create and deliver the solutions they want, you can create a loyal following that wants to help you succeed.
How has getting to know your customers improved your sales and marketing?
About the Author: Neil Patel is the cofounder of Neil Patel Digital.
The ecommerce industry has become a very competitive space over the last several years.
In fact, more than half of Internet users across the globe made a purchase online in the last year. Younger generations with a strong purchasing power lead the way in this trend.
In fact, 67% of Millennials would rather shop online as opposed to going to a physical store. This is great news for your ecommerce brand.
Yes, obviously you've got lots of competition when it comes to selling products online. But if you have the right tools and marketing strategy, you can do a lot of things to gain an edge over your competitors.
While all of this is necessary, it's not enough. In addition to your website, you need to be taking advantage of as many platforms as possible to effectively sell your products.
That's because you can't always rely on consumers navigating to your website. You need to make sure your products are readily available for purchase in places where your customers spend lots of time.
Enter social media networks.
Experts predict that this number will reach 3 billion by 2021.
Your ecommerce brand may already have an active presence on social media. It's a crucial marketing strategy, but you can take this approach one step further.
Use social media to sell your products.
If you've never done this before, you may not know where to start. Fortunately, you've come to the right place. I'll tell you everything you need to know about how social commerce can boost the revenue stream of your ecommerce shop.
What is social commerce?
Let's start with the basics.
Social commerce is a relatively new concept. The term was first used in 2005. But since then, its meaning and application have evolved.
With social commerce, you can sell your products through a third-party platform. More specifically, the platform you're selling through is a social media network.
For example, if a Facebook user sees something they want to buy, they can do that directly through Facebook's interface as opposed to having to navigate to the seller's website.
This is great news for your ecommerce store. If you're relying on consumers to visit your website after seeing an ad that promotes your products, it's hurting your conversion rates.
It's too many steps. Sure, you'll still see some conversions. But simplifying the steps in the purchasing process will boost your conversion rates.
Take a look at the impact social media has on buying decisions:
The majority of consumers say they rely on social media to guide their purchasing decisions. When a consumer sees a product on social media, the chances of them buying it go up.
An additional 31% of people say they use social media to browse for products they are interested in buying.
For ecommerce businesses, it's a no-brainer to implement a social commerce strategy.
Make your products available on Facebook
If you're new to social commerce, Facebook is the most logical place to start. Eventually, you'll add this feature to your other social media pages as well, but this is the best place for you to get your feet wet.
As I said earlier, social commerce is still new. Not every consumer has jumped on board with it yet.
But the majority people who have made purchases through social media platforms are doing so via Facebook:
As you can see, roughly 35% of social media users say they have never bought something through social media. But nearly 50% of social media users say they have used Facebook to make a purchase.
This makes sense. Facebook has always been a trendsetter in the social media world.
Their platform is extremely friendly for both everyday users as well as brands.
Facebook business pages have the ability to leverage this platform in several ways to drive sales.
First, they can list products directly on their page.
This feature mimics the appearance of a standard ecommerce shop we've all grown accustomed to.
Second, Facebook also implemented a “Shop Now” button that brings users directly to the brand's website.
Check out this example from the DressLily Facebook page so you can see what I'm referring to:
On their Facebook page, you can see the “Shop” button on the left menu. This brings their customers to the screen you're looking at now.
But if customers click the “Shop Now” button on the top of the screen, they will get brought to the brand's website.
It's important you take advantage of both of these buttons. As we previously saw, not all consumers have adapted to the social commerce trends. You don't want to turn their business away. Some people may not be comfortable yet buying directly through Facebook, so giving them the option to visit your website is necessary.
To set up purchases directly through Facebook, you'll need to associate a Stripe or PayPal account with your page.
Each of these charges 2.9% of the purchase plus an additional $0.30 per transaction.
I realize that these fees may be higher than the credit card fees on your website, but it's just something you'll have to accept.
Even though the payments get processed through third-party companies, you won't need to use those platforms for collections. All your orders can be managed directly from your Facebook shop.
You'll have real-time information and access to your current, pending, and past orders purchased through Facebook.
Sell on Instagram
Facebook purchased Instagram in 2012. It's no surprise Instagram has seen so much success over the past several years.
On an average day, 95 million pictures and videos are published on Instagram. The implementation of their “Shop Now” feature is turning them into a social commerce powerhouse.
Here's an example of how West Elm implemented this feature with a sponsored Instagram advertisement:
Imagine a user scrolling through their timeline. They'll see not only the posts from profiles they're following but some ads as well.
Just like a regular Instagram post, these ads can contain several photos and videos. It's called a carousel ad. If the first image captures the user's attention, they may scroll through the others to see what else this brand is selling.
Either way, the “Shop Now” button remains part of the post the entire time. It's an effective way to increase conversions.
As we discussed earlier, the more steps involved in the purchasing process, the worse your results will be.
If your current Instagram strategy is having a post on your profile with a caption that says “link in bio” to entice purchases, it's probably not a huge success. There's too much friction.
But the “Shop Now” button simplifies the process and makes it easier for users to buy products in just a couple of clicks.
In addition to carousel ads, you can advertise using a single photo, single video, and slideshows. The slideshow creates a video by automatically looping up to 10 photos.
You can also change the CTA button of your ad to “Learn More.” Here's an example from Rumble Boxing:
This button takes users to a landing page where they can get more information about classes and schedules. From here, they're able to make purchases as well.
Selling through Instagram ads is great because you're able to decide which users will see your posts.
You can customize your advertisement based on your goals, such as:
All these options are available when you build your business on Instagram.
Add buyable pins
As an ecommerce shop, you need to have an active presence on Pinterest as well. If you're not familiar with Pinterest, I'll briefly explain how it works.
Many users like to browse through the platform for inspiration, ideas, and products they're interested in.
For example, someone may use Pinterest for ideas on how to decorate a room in their home. When they like something, they can save the post or “pin” it to one of their boards.
When a user sees this table when they're browsing on the platform, they can make a purchase with just a few clicks.
Your customers can pay with their credit cards or Apple Pay. This is great news for shoppers browsing on their mobile devices.
With this feature, buyers can complete the purchase process with just one click, which will increase your conversion rates dramatically.
Recent studies show that 73% of Millennials would like to have the ability to make all their payments from mobile devices.
It's important for you to establish your social commerce strategy on mobile applications that process transactions. In addition to Facebook and Instagram, Pinterest needs to be your priority as well.
Leverage social influencers
No social commerce campaign would be complete without the help of social influencers.
Micro influencers increase your product credibility and boost sales revenue. Once you form relationships with these influencers, you'll have them post content to their personal profiles.
It's a viable marketing strategy. That's why the majority of businesses are increasing spending on influencer marketing over the next year:
This strategy is continuing on an upward trend. In the last 12 months, there has been a 325% increase in searches for “influencer marketing” on Google. If you haven't been researching the topic, it looks like your competitors have.
Another reason why influencer marketing works is because it's profitable.
Research shows that influencer marketing has a return on investment rate that's 11 times higher than that of other content marketing campaigns.
Working with social influencers to promote your products will go hand in hand with your social commerce strategy.
It's tough for ecommerce shops to stay relevant in such a competitive space.
But you should look at these trends as an opportunity as opposed to a struggle. To gain an edge over your competitors and increase sales revenue, make your products available for purchase on as many platforms as possible.
Take advantage of social commerce shops in addition to your traditional ecommerce website.
Start with Facebook. The majority of consumers who have bought products on social commerce platforms have used Facebook to do so.
But you should also leverage other social networks as well, such as Instagram and Pinterest.
Use social influencers in conjunction with your social commerce strategy to maximize your brand exposure.
How is your ecommerce company using social commerce platforms to drive sales?
Promoting on social can feel like a popularity rollercoaster.
One minute, you're on top.
Your post is taking off – skyrocketing through timelines and racking up likes and shares.
But the next time you post?
The likes are trickling in, comprised mainly of your team members and the intern's mom.
It's like everyone forgot about you.
Not knowing how your target audience is going to react can be stressful.
Putting time, money, and effort into creating a social strategy that doesn't get attention can feel like a waste of time.
Unfortunately, that's because it is.
Luckily, when you put a little more planning into the posts you share, you can start seeing stronger results.
To help you make the most of each and every post you create, here is a 7-step checklist you can follow.
Step 1: Find a post purpose
Maintaining a consistent posting schedule is important if you want to stay visible and relevant on social platforms.
This is why we see companies in just about every industry taking advantage of popular weekly hashtags like #MotivationMonday or #ThrowbackThursday.
Here's a tweet from LA Fitness getting in on the Monday Motivation conversation.
Posts like these can help you create some consistency in the way you post online.
It lets your audience know when to expect to hear from you and gets you involved in popular threads.
However, if you're simply posting to post, you're only wasting everyone's time.
Every second, 6,000 Tweets are sent.
If you're throwing posts out there without any clear intent, you're just cluttering up an already diluted space.
Each time you post on social, you want to have a clearly defined purpose.
This largely depends on who your target audience is.
According to Sprout Social, different demographics will engage with brands on social differently.
Knowing how your audience reacts to social promotions can help you refine your tactics to better suit their needs.
Each post doesn't need to sell directly.
In fact, using conversations to get your audience engaged can be more effective than strictly selling.
Consider the 80/20 principle, also known as the Pareto Principle.
This states that just 20% of what you do will bring in 80% of your returns.
In other words, smaller efforts can actually bring you better rewards.
Here's an example from Walmart that involves no selling at all.
After the video of the young boy singing in a Walmart store went viral, Walmart saw this as the perfect opportunity to get into the conversation.
While this post doesn't even contain a link to Walmart's homepage, it still has a purpose.
It lets the company have a bit of fun.
Walmart also frequently uses social media to become a part of a larger conversation about hunger relief.
By partnering with Feeding America, Walmart uses influencers to help raise money for a good cause.
Here's an example from Rosanna Pansino, a YouTube-famous baker.
Again, Walmart isn't using their social media campaigns to sell products directly.
Posts like these can start informal conversations with your customers and help get them engaged with your brand.
Here's another example of a post that goes beyond strictly selling, this time from Bud Light.
While this post doesn't mention their brand or products, it plays off an extremely popular continuous campaign that Bud Light runs – their Dilly Dilly campaign.
Bud Light's Dilly Dilly ads feature humorous stories of medieval knights, kings, peasants and the “Bud Knight.”
Just about every ad includes a story of how Bud Light can bring people together, followed by chants of “Dilly Dilly.”
Soon, Dilly Dilly became an online sensation, getting 175,000 mentions per month across social media and 66,000 hashtag uses just on Instagram.
While this tweet may not attract any new leads, it does appeal to loyal Bud Light fans who are in on the Dilly Dilly joke.
This can strengthen their relationship, remind them of past ads, and gain some engagement.
Before you post anything on social – whether it is as a post or in the comments – think of what you're trying to accomplish.
Is it customer service?
Is it a promotion?
Is it simply creating a conversation with your target audience?
Define your intent before you press that “post” button.
Step 2: Find an engaging headline/quote to share
Knowing the purpose of your posts is a great start.
But it isn't enough to get your audience engaged.
Even if you have the best intentions, if your content is dull or boring, your followers are just going to keep scrolling.
On Facebook, you have 63,206 characters per status update to get creative. (Although, you should be sticking to fewer characters.)
On Twitter, that number has recently doubled to 280-characters.
So, with all this room, there's no reason you should just be posting the title of your article.
Check out this social post from GoPro.
They didn't simply throw the video up with a traditional title.
Instead, they made it conversational.
Followers get a taste of what they can expect in the video, but it's not a overwhelming description.
Quotes are another great way to grab your followers' attention.
A brief snippet of what they can expect from your content can be just what they need to read on.
Here's a great example of an extract from Salesforce.
This quote, which was pulled from the video also featured in the post, was able to get almost 125 retweets and 270 likes.
That's almost 8x as many retweets and over 4x times as many likes as a traditional tweet from Salesforce uploaded the same day.
Who said retail was dead?
According to the National Retail Federation, brick and mortar retail stores had a net increase of over 4000 store openings in 2017.
For each company that closed a store, 2.7 companies opened stores.
Although department stores stayed the same, Superstores thrived.
With e-commerce achieving a sales growth of 24.8% in 2017 compared to the previous year, mark my words, it's booming.
But consumers are still flocking to local stores. The main reasons in-store shoppers prefer local over online stores are the issues they face with online shopping:
Local foot traffic is still a major of part retail.
And one of the biggest trends marketers can't ignore in 2018, is the rise of ROPO.
Research online, purchase offline.
This is the consumer habits of bargain hunters and thrifty shoppers looking for better deals locally.
The purpose of this type of marketing is to drive foot traffic to store and business locations so that they can avail of local promotions or services.
Google AdWords released new innovations that you can incorporate into your campaigns.
These innovations can help you improve your CTR you and make sure your ads are profitable.
Along with the existing features and extensions, I've detailed six Google AdWords hacks that can drive more local foot traffic to your store or business.
Hack #1: Location ad extension
When your physical storefront is the main place where conversions occur, you need to include your store address in your ads.
A location ad extension displays your store's address within the ad.
Here's what showed when I searched for “computer repair seattle.”
By including your address in your AdWords campaigns, people are more likely to trust your company.
Showcasing your store as a physical entity gives customers a sense of comfort buying from a business that feels real.
Here's how to enable location extension in your Google AdWords campaign.
First, go to the Google My Business homepage and click “Start Now.”
Next, you'll need to search for your business, if it already exists and claim it.
If you cannot see your business, make sure you verify your business with Google before actioning this step.
Once your Google My Business account and listing are live, go to your AdWords account to link your accounts.
Find the “Ads & Extension” tab and click on it.
Next select “Extensions.”
Click “create ad extension.”
Select “Location extension” from the drop-down menu.
You'll be then prompted to use your locations from your Google My Business account.
Your location ad extension should now be enabled. And your business location should be now shown in your ads.
This simple hack gives your online ad a physical location.
To get more shoppers in the door, Google has made location extensions and store visit measurement available on YouTube.
The following is a location extension example, from a YouTube ad by IHOP restaurants.
By including location extensions in TrueView in-stream and bumper ads, viewers can engage with your brand and see your store's location, business hours and directions to the store.
Implementing store visit measurement into your YouTube campaigns, you can see what ads and extensions are performing best and driving in-store foot traffic.
Hack #2: Promotion extension
You don't need to invent complex marketing campaigns to drive more foot traffic to your store.
By accommodating the needs of mobile users, you can boost more sales.
You can also increase local foot traffic by implementing promotions in your online advertising campaigns.
A promotion ad extension displays your store's current promotions within the ad.
This will show details of a percentage discount beneath your ad as showcased in the image above.
And it can also show prices on products in-text ads.
You can add additional details to your promotion, e.g., promo codes or minimum order values.
Using promotion extensions in your ads can drive awareness to your deals and promotions. You can also choose what device you'd prefer your ads to show on, e.g., targeting mobile users.
The ability to schedule the promotion for particular times or days during periods of high-volume foot traffic can generate higher click through rates.
Wordstream reported that their clients saw an increase in CTRs of almost 10% from using promotion extensions.
How to add a promotion extension to your AdWords campaign, follow these steps.
First, sign into your Google AdWords account.
Then, follow the steps mentioned in Hack #1, to navigate to the ad extension drop-down menu.
This time you'll want to select “Promotion extension.”
Next, you'll be prompted to set up your promotion.
For this example, I'll set up a Mother's Day promotion on flowers.
Click “Occasion” and select from the drop-down.
Next, enter in details of the promotion.
You can choose the promotion type, whether its a percentage, monetary or “up to _” discount.
Enter the item and your website URL.
Next, select the dates you want to run the promotion for.
In the “advanced options” you can select to target only mobiles or extend your promotion.
And you can also target specific times, to optimize your ads for store open-hours and higher foot traffic times.
More on that later.
Next, you'll want to save your promotion.
Google will then review your ad. Once confirmation is received, your ad will be live.
Running AdWords promotions can also improve your ad's relevance and quality score.
By increasing your CTR, you have a better chance of your ideal customer seeing your promotion.
Creating more awareness of in-store promotions you'll drive more customers to your store.
Promotion extensions are only available in the new AdWords interface. These new innovations were built exclusively for the new AdWords experience.
Google also provides a Best Practices guide to help you get the most out of the new interface and optimize your ads.
Hack #3: Click-to-text message extension
Offering instant communication with potential customers is an excellent way to drive local foot traffic.
According to Google data, 65% of consumers would consider using messaging when scheduling an in-person appointment.
Or when looking for information about a product or service.
Grand View Research forecasts a rise in the use of chatbots.
With the chatbot market value expected to increase to $1.25 billion by 2025, the chatbot industry is expected to witness significant growth.
Innovations in AI and machine-learning technologies will enhance features of chatbots.
A click-to-message extension (or simply, message extension) is an additional link incorporated in your ad. This link connects customers to your business by text message.
Here is an example of message extension in an ad for “car dealers.”
If a customer wants to book an appointment, they can easily click on the link and be brought to their messaging app to text for an appointment.
Or, if your business receives a lot of phone call traffic using this method can convert that traffic into local foot traffic by getting them to arrange an appointment.
It can you save time and eliminate “tire kickers.”
Not everybody likes to make a phone call, and the ability to text instead gives another channel of communication to your customers. Letting them feel in control.
To create a message extension in your campaigns, first, you'll need to sign into your Google AdWords account.
Next, follow the first few steps mentioned in Hack #1 to navigate to the ad extension drop-down menu.
Then, select “Message extension.”
Now, enter your business name and contact number.
Add the message extension text and your desired automated reply that your customers will be prompted with, in their messenger app.
AdWords will automatically create an example of how your ad may look in a campaign.
And also how the automated text may appear in their messaging app.
Click to save your ad, and it'll go through Google's review process.
Creating a message extension that sets-up an appointment or consultation, is a simple yet effective way to get the right people to your store or business.
Message reporting allows you to record the performance insights of a click-to-message campaign.
You can see how often a user will start a chat with you after seeing your ad, also referred to as a “Chat Rate.”
Maisie Harris, Chief Marketing Officer at LeadRival, discovered that their chat rate more than 2x the conversion rate for the online lead form.
That meant routing people through messaging was the best way to help increase lead volume.
Wordstream shows a creative way you use message extensions as a form of lead generation.
The method uses message extensions to get a prospect on the phone rather than answer questions directly.
Career Path Training Corp. added a “Click Here to Text Us.” They saw over 30% of texts received turn into a qualified lead.
By showing click-to-message extensions in AdWords campaigns that target high-intent keywords and/or brand words, you're essentially targeting hotter leads.
This type of campaign should aim to engage the prospective customer and get them on the phone to speak directly.
For lower-intent keywords, you can set up a click-to-message extension that answers their questions automatically.
Hack #4: Optimize ads during store open-hours and high-traffic hours
I've touched on some of the mistakes you can avoid in your AdWords campaigns.
Not linking your ads to the right landing pages, for one. Or not grouping the right keywords and ads, for another.
With your advertising budget on the line, you'll want your ads to show for the customers you actually want to see them.
And during hours that are more effective to those people, e.g., during store open-hours or lunch hours. This is often referred to as day parting.
Here is an example of an AdWords campaign for restaurants targeting consumers with lunch specials, during specific lunch hours.
By using the feature of ad scheduling, you can set which days of the week and time you want to run your ads on.
Ad scheduling is not an exact science. But by implementing it, you can save your ads from underperforming.
Do this by increasing your ad budget, through bid adjustments, for these specific hours.
Bid adjustments allow you to run ads all day, but with an increase in volume for set hours. Plus, there are scripts to help you automate the process.
Here's how it works.
First, you'll need to create an ad campaign that you'll apply the scheduling too.
Check out this article to create a campaign.
Once you've created one, access the campaign you want to adjust in AdWords.
Next, click on the Campaigns tab.
Then, click on your campaign.
Your next step is to click on the “Ad Schedule” tab.
You'll need to focus in on a precise time during the ad week – ”Day,” or even “Hour.”
For this example, I'll select “Hour.”
You'll be given access to the hourly metric data.
Here, you can see how many people are clicking on your ad during your hours of business. You can also determine whether the patterns coincide with higher foot traffic times.
Check patterns to make sure that they're consistent.
Once you've figured out what time is the best to run your ad, you can now set your schedule.
To do this select “Ad schedule” again, and click “Edit Ad Schedule.”
You'll arrive at the following screen where you can manually enter the time of day you'd like to adjust your bids for.
On this page, you can select all days to apply the change to or individual days, by selecting from the drop-down menus.
For this example, I'll apply adjustments to each weekday, between 2 pm and 5 pm.
On the table below you can set bid adjustments for the specific time intervals, you have already stated.
You can increase your bid amount when your ad campaign is showing at its best-performing times.
Click on the box beside the day and time you want to adjust. Then select the dash under the “Bid adj.” column.
Now, you can adjust by increasing or decreasing the percentage of the bid for this day and time.
Best practice is to keep track of how your campaign is performing. Take note of what days and times you receive the highest amount of foot traffic.
And use this information to evaluate whether your campaigns need further tweaking.
Hack #5: Use geo-targeting ads for specific locations
If you're not optimizing your AdWord campaigns for geo-targeting, you're losing out on driving local foot traffic to your store.
Geo-targeting identifies your ideal customer's location depending on their IP, WiFi or GPS data.
BIA/Kelsey estimates, annual U.S. mobile ad spending will grow from $33 billion in 2016 to $72 billion by 2021.
That's a 17% compound annual growth rate.
The location-targeted mobile ad spend is projected to grow from $12.4 billion in 2016 to $32.4 billion in 2021.
That's 38% of overall mobile ad revenues, growing to 45% by 2021.
Geo-targeting also allows companies to record consumer behaviors based on their location.
You can custom your ads to geo-target consumers based on their locations, such as commercial areas and airports.
Acquisio used this to target people who visited clinics or hospitals within a 50-mile radius. It was their most effective AdWords strategy with 0.18% CTR and 6,480,280 impressions.
You can also geo-target consumers by income.
Croud did this for a luxury retail client by applying positive bid modifiers to the top 10% tier.
In the first month, they saw an increase in average order value for the top 10% tier, which is now 101% higher than the account average.
To set up geo-targeting in AdWords:
First, open AdWords and select the campaign that you created earlier.
Next, click the “Settings” tab.
From there, select the “Locations” drop-down menu.
Next, click “Advanced Search.”
Now you can enter the name of the exact postcode or street name you're targeting. You can choose a location which will select the entire postcode.
Or you can select a street and set a radius for your geo-targeting
Initially, your primary focus should be the area that your store is located.
For example, if you want to target West 34th Street in Manhattan.
First click “Radius.”
Next, adjust the radius to “2 miles” and enter the street name.
Then click “Target.”
(If you choose the “Location” option, you'll also notice the “Exclude” button. This allows you to exclude an area from your geo-targeting.)
AdWords will generate a geo-target zone of two miles in my desired location.
Once you're satisfied with the results, click “Save.”
From there, you'll return to the “Settings” page.
Click “Save” once more to save your campaign changes.
With geo-targeting, you can follow the process above, add multiple locations and tweak the radius to suit.
You could have a brand-awareness ad campaign target the whole NYC area, while a different “promotional” campaign could target local foot traffic, within a one-mile radius.
You can also record the performance of each radius through distance reports. These reports record how far customer was from your store or business when they saw your ad.
You can use this information to help find the best radius to target.
Hack #6: Local inventory ads
Google Shopping and text ads grew 20% from 2016 to 2017, while the total revenue increased 64%, from 2016 to 2018.
This means that retailers are still interested in using in Google Shopping as an advertising channel.
Sidecar's 2018 Google Shopping Benchmark Report tells us that one trend to watch for is the bridging of online and in-store experiences.
Consumers want the best of both worlds: E-commerce and brick-and-mortar stores.
Google uses local inventory ads and Google Shopping to help accommodate customers who research online and purchase offline.
When consumers click on your ad, they arrive on a Google-hosted page for your store, called the local storefront.
There, shoppers can view the store's information:
Local inventory ads allow you to synchronize your inventory in real-time, so shoppers know if you have that item they're looking for.
By bringing your local store online, you can target online customers with local ads and drive in-store sales.
Adding local inventory ads to your AdWords is a little more complex than setting up ad campaigns.
It also requires a product feed creation and inventory management skills.
Luckily, Steve Costanza's post on Sidecar simplifies this process.
First, you'll need to enable local inventory ads in your Merchant Centre account.
Go to your Merch Center dashboard and click the 3-dot icon on the top right of your screen.
Next, click “Merchant Center programs.”
Scroll down to Local Inventory Ads and click “Get Started.”
Then, confirm the qualifications are met and click “Enable.”
Next, you'll be brought to configuration to select your store's country.
Click on the large “+” button.
And add your store's country.
You'll be prompted to enter your details, and click “Save.”
If you are based in Europe, you'll need to verify your About Page. If this doesn't apply to you continue to the next step.
Here, you'll need to create a local product inventory feed. This tells Google which products are found at which locations.
This beginners guide from Google will walk you through the process.
(It is essential to keep this feed up-to-date.)
Once this is done, it's time to register you inventory feeds and submit them to your Merchant Center.
To submit your API files. Click here for Google's quick-step tutorial.
Next, you'll need to request inventory verification.
To submit your inventory verification contact, follow these steps:
Click “Local inventory ads” on the left side menu of your Merchant Center dashboard.
Select the country relevant to your store and complete the shipping cost and policy details.
Next, click the “Request Verification” button.
Once you've created and submitted your feeds to Merchant Center, a Google representative will reach out and schedule a store visit to verify your inventory is current and accurate.
Finally, you'll need to enable local inventory ads in Google AdWords.
If you haven't set up a shopping campaign already, you'll need to create one.
Synchronising your inventory feed with your AdWords campaigns can let your potential customers know what products you have in stock.
When they search for a specific product, your ad will show up beside their search. That's if you've optimized your ad to compete with competitor bids.
Putting the physical address of your store alongside these ads is a great way for customers to find out where you are located.
People love the convenience of online shopping, but they're also lured to the more tactile experience of in-store shopping.
Research tells us that 54% of online shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase.
What's more intriguing is that 39% of in-store shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase.
Trends are also telling marketers and store owners that customers enjoy having the choice of buying online, in-store or researching online to purchase in-store.
With this information, it's essential to accommodate these needs in advertising campaigns.
Simple additions to your AdWords campaigns such as adding your physical store address can build trust with shoppers.
Let them know when a promotion is on at no additional cost.
Including click-to-message extensions so your customer can text you directly can eliminate the fear of calling some customers may have.
Optimizing your ads to target consumers within a set-time of a day when they can shop or by targeting them hyper-locally, can have a huge effect on driving local traffic to your store.
Running local inventory ads can showcase what products are available in store when a customer searches for items nearby.
Recording data from your customer's behaviors and using it in your AdWord campaigns will give your store a big advantage in driving local foot traffic.
Especially over competitors who don't.
Bridge the transition from online shopping and browsing to in-store purchases to give your customers options. Let them feel in control of their shopping experience.
What AdWords hacks have you used to drive more local foot traffic?
About the Author: Neil Patel is the cofounder of Neil Patel Digital.
Social media marketing has become one of the most effective ways for businesses to have success in the digital era.
You can see why it's so appealing for brands to have a presence on this platform. I hope your company is on Facebook to.
To have success marketing on Facebook, you need to be active on a daily basis. Post content to your profile. Share photos, videos, and run promotions.
Facebook allows you to broadcast live videos to your followers. You should be taking advantage of that as well.
In fact, live videos are such an effective marketing strategy that it made my list of the top marketing trends to look for in 2018. Lots of these promotional tactics can be done free.
But if you really want to take your social media marketing strategy to the next level, you need to run advertisements on Facebook.
Why Facebook? Well, in addition to having the highest number of active monthly users compared to other social platforms, Facebook ads deliver a high ROI:
Obviously, running these ads isn't free. But knowing that such a high number of marketers say this platform delivers the highest ROI compared to other social media networks should make it worth your while.
That said, nothing is guaranteed. Not all advertisements on Facebook are successful. That's why I created this guide.
If you are new to Facebook ads or need some improvement running your existing ones, this guide is for you. I'll show you how to set them up and generate leads for your business.
Set your goals
First things first. Why are you running this ad? You need to determine your goal ahead of time.
There are a few reasons for this. First, you want to make sure the ad you're creating is aligned with your goals. It's also much easier to measure the success of a campaign if you have a goal in mind.
But another reason why you'll need to set up a goal first is because Facebook will ask you what you're trying to accomplish when you're putting the ad together.
Here's a look at different marketing objectives for you to choose from:
As you can see, there is as an option for lead generation under the consideration column.
This will help you collect information from Facebook users interested in your business.
The cool thing about the lead generation campaign is you can set up a split test when you're running it. I'm a big advocate of using A/B testing to maximize efficiency.
You can run tests of your campaign based on elements such as placement, audience, and delivery optimization. This makes it easier for you to measure your results and make any necessary adjustments. But we'll discuss this concept in greater detail later.
You can also select one of the choices from the awareness column as an alternative method of generating leads.
Selecting the brand awareness option will aim to get your ad exposed to people who are most likely to pay attention to your message. A reach campaign, on the other hand, will expose your ad to the highest number of people possible.
Identify your target market
Next, you'll have to determine who will see your ad.
No matter what type of business you have or what industry you're in, it's important you know your target market. In fact, knowing how to identify the target market of your startup is one of the first steps of creating a business.
Those of you who have been in operation for a while should have done this years ago.
That said, it doesn't mean this selection will be cut and dry. You may have a diverse target market. Is this ad for everyone?
For example, let's say your company sells a wide range of products and services. There's a good chance you sell items intended for men and women of all ages.
Based on the goal you've previously defined, your ad may be geared toward a specific segment or a larger target market.
Here's an example of how you could set this up based on your audience:
As you can see, this ad is targeting men located in California. They are between the ages of 18 to 24 and speak English and Spanish.
Facebook allows you to get specific here. This is great because you can create multiple ads based on different segments of your target market.
Generic ads intended to reach a massive audience won't be as successful. But if you target a specific group of people with your ads, you'll be able to generate more leads.
All the information used is based on what each user puts in their Facebook profile. Keep in mind, this won't be 100% accurate.
You'll get some people who lie on their profiles about their age, gender, location, etc. But this shouldn't be drastic enough to skew your results.
Set your budget
After you select your target market, you'll have to determine how much money you want to spend on the ad.
Facebook makes it easy for you to set this up. Here's what your options will look like:
This example uses a daily amount. But you can also use the total amount you'd like to spend on the lifetime of the ad.
Even though I set the daily budget to $20, it won't always be exact. That's because Facebook automatically shares your ad based on the most opportunities.
Certain days, the ad spend may be higher, but other days, it would be less to keep the daily average at $20. You'll get charged based on each impression.
You can also set start and end dates for your ad. Or you can let it run continuously and stop it manually when it's time.
Choose the format for your ad
Not all ads are the same. Facebook lets you choose which type of advertisement you want to run. Here are your options:
Video and image are both pretty self-explanatory, but I'll explain what the others mean.
A collection is when display different items from your product catalog. It encourages users to shop by looking through a few items. Based on what you're selling and the target market, these items will be customized for each person.
This is a great strategy for sales and conversions-but not necessarily lead generation. You can still use it as a marketing strategy.
Carousels allow you to display up to ten different videos or images within one advertisement. Each one would have its own link.
Slideshows use images, text, and sound to showcase your ad. Canvas ads can be opened as a full-screen display, and they are fully optimized for mobile devices.
Mobile ads are Facebook's highest source of revenue.
That's because businesses recognize how many Facebook users access the platform from their mobile devices.
In fact, as of January 2018, more than 95% of users access this social media network from smartphones.
But let's get back to selecting your format. Each format has certain rules and restrictions. I've highlighted some of the top specifications for each one you need to keep in mind when designing your ads.
Max length: 240 minutes
Ratio: 9:16 to 16:9
Text: 125 characters
Headline: 25 characters
Description: 30 characters
Sound and captions are both optional for your ads; however, it's highly recommended that you include these features. Also, if your video thumbnail has more than 20% text, it may not have high delivery rates.
File: png or jpg
Ratio: 9:16 to 16:9
Text: 125 characters
Resolution recommendation: minimum 1,200 x 628 pixels
Just like with videos, if your images contain more than 20% text, it can negatively impact the delivery rate. Make sure to limit the text on your picture ads.
Minimum image width: 600 pixels
Minimum image height: 600 pixels
Aspect ratio tolerance: 3%
Headline: 25 characters
Text: 90 characters
Minimum cards number: 2
Maximum cards number: 10
Maximum video size: 4GB
Resolution recommendation: minimum 1080 x 1080 pixels
Link description: 20 characters
Text: 125 characters
Minimum video length: 1 second
Maximum video length: 240 minutes
Bitrate limits: No limit for files under 1GB with 2-pass encoding
If you've got a vertical video ad with an aspect ratio taller than 2:3, it needs to be masked to 2:3. It's recommended that you upload the highest possible video resolution based on the file and ratio limits.
Determine the placement and measure your results
Next, you'll decide where you want your ads to be placed. Here's a visual representation to show you what I'm referring to:
You can place your ad on a mobile newsfeed, desktop newsfeed, or right column advertising bar.
Mix this strategy up. This relates back to A/B testing you'd need to run to see which version delivers the best results.
Keep track of everything. See which ads are working and which ones aren't generating enough leads.
It's important that you constantly rotate your ads. You don't want your audience to keep seeing the same ads over and over again.
You should also try to market to different audiences. Just make sure everything always looks professional. Focus on your call to action. Change that as well to see how that changes the results.
Advertise on Instagram
In case you didn't know, Facebook owns Instagram.
It's really easy for you to run Instagram ads from the same place where you're setting up your Facebook campaigns.
Instagram has become such a popular marketing medium that 70% of hashtags on this platform are branded. Furthermore, 71% of businesses in the United States are using Instagram to promote their companies:
They've surpassed Twitter in this department.
If you want to stay competitive, you should be running paid ads on Instagram in addition to running them on Facebook. It's easy to do since you're setting them up through the same platform. You'll just need to make a few extra clicks.
Having an active social media presence is an effective way to promote your brand at little to no cost. But if you want to take your social media marketing strategy to the next level, you should consider running Facebook ads.
These ads are perfect because Facebook offers tools specific for lead generation.
They are easy to set up as well. Just follow this guide as a reference to steer you in the right direction.
Start with your goals. Identify your target market. Set a budget.
After that, you'll have to figure out which type of ad you want to run and where you want to place it. Keep all the ad specifications in mind when you're going through this process.
Measure your results. Rotate your ads and make adjustments based on how successful they are.
You should also consider running ads on Instagram. Since those ads will be controlled from the same platform as your Facebook ads, it will be just as easy for you to set up.
If you follow these tips, you can turn your Facebook marketing strategy into a lead generation machine.
What types of Facebook ads are you running to generate more leads for your brand?
Out of all of the different facets of digital marketing, social media tends to change with the most immediate and drastic results.
There is always a new platform emerging for marketers to look into and master to stay ahead of the trends.
And with algorithms on big platforms like Facebook always evolving, you have to stay on your toes as you figure out how to engage on them.
However, through all the change, there is one thing that remains consistent:
Users want to engage with brands in a personal way.
For this purpose, Instagram stands apart from all other platforms. It's one of the best places for you to promote brand engagement with your users.
It's grown by 1,400% in just the last five years. With growth like that, it's a no-brainer for marketers to implement Instagram into their social strategies.
In particular, Instagram Stories makes easy for marketers to engage with users, humanize their brands, create leads, and generate customers on the platform.
They're a great tool for showing potential customers (and existing ones) why your brand is relatable or interesting.
So, how do you get the most out of Instagram Stories?
That's what this guide is here to help with. It will give you ways to use Instagram Stories to build your brand and convert leads and sales.
1. Show what makes your brand fun and relatable
All marketers know that social media engagement is important. It's one of the best ways to develop trust from prospects.
And the more they trust you, the more likely they are to become loyal customers.
While all social media platforms are great avenues for driving audience engagement and ultimately sales, Instagram is on a whole different level.
Of the 700 million users on Instagram, 500 million users are active on a daily basis.
Instagram also excels in terms of engagement. 68% of users regularly engage with brands on Instagram while only 32% of users regularly engage with brands on Facebook.
Why? Because features like Instagram Stories make it easy for brands to show themselves in a fun and interesting light. It's easier than ever to humanize a brand.
Tarte Cosmetics does this well. The brand regularly travels to exotic places for photo shoots of new products or company bonding trips. And when they travel, they bring their followers along on the adventure.
From showing products that they've staged for shoots in Bora Bora to showing team members on a mother/daughter retreat in Hawaii, Tarte uses Instagram Stories to give followers insight into what it means to be a “Tartlet.”
Lululemon is another great example. Being a popular fitness clothing brand, the Instagram team at lululemon regularly takes followers through their own personal fitness journeys using Stories.
From live yoga practices to cooking healthy meals, the brand gives great insight into how employees are working toward the same goals as their followers.
Just recently, lululemon took viewers on one employee's daily run through Austin, Texas.
You experience the route she took, the music she was listening to, and the trials she had along the way. Instagram Stories like this make it very easy to relate to a brand.
2. Take advantage of Instagram Stories features to interact with your audience
Instagram Stories give marketers a variety of ways to facilitate easy interaction with users.
With features like geographical location tagging, hashtags, polls, gifs, stickers, and more, growing your following and facilitating brand engagement is simple. You just need a little creativity.
Features like hashtags and geotagging make it easy for users to find you based on location and interest.
If you're a local business, geotagging is vital when it comes to your interaction on Instagram Stories.
Each time you enter a city, Instagram aggregates Stories that other users have geotagged in your location.
This is a great opportunity for small businesses and city tourism brands as they can utilize geotagging to show Instagram users exciting things taking place around them.
Carrigan Farms, which is in the small town of Mooresville, North Carolina, takes advantage of geotagging to show users in the area the fun activities visitors can take part in at the farm.
With a huge water quarry on the property, Carrigan Farms visitors can jump off of cliffs into the deep, clean water.
Capturing and sharing videos of these activities on the farm's Story with geotagging brings awareness to others in the area of the fun they could have on the farm.
Hashtags make it easy for users to find your content based on topic.
Many brands or celebrities will have a hashtag that they use across social media so that anyone looking for content about the brand or person can easily find it.
For instance, Justin Timberlake just recently canceled shows up north due to the massive snow storms.
In addition to his publicity team notifying showgoers of the cancellation via email and his website, he posted to his Instagram Story.
Using hashtag #MOTWTOUR, he added another way to notify his fans who have been following along with his tour on social media about the cancellation.
Items like gifs and stickers enable brands to add to images and videos that they share on Instagram Stories.
Lake Norman Surf Co., which is on Lake Norman in North Carolina, offers wakesurfing lessons. The brand regularly uses stickers and gifs to demonstrate their light attitude.
Just recently, Lake Norman Surf Co. shared a video of the lake water and used a sticker to show the temperature. They did this to remind their followers that wakesurfing season is coming.
The poll feature, which Instagram recently rolled out, is a creative way to create easy interactions with followers.
As a marketer, you always want feedback from our prospects and customers.
Polls on Instagram Stories provide a way for you to get that feedback from fans while making your audience feel like your brand is empowering them.
Companies can utilize polls to ask fans anything!
Ask about their opinions on new products, how often they'd like to receive brand emails, their favorite kinds of sales, what kind of content they'd like to see from your brand on social media, and so on.
Perhaps you're a clothing company, and you're wondering if your fans are ready to see summer transitional pieces or if they are still looking for winter/spring clothing. In that case, use a poll.
Or maybe you're an outdoor adventure gear company, and you're wondering if your fans prefer to see behind-the-scenes stories from product shoots of if they prefer to just see the new products.
Ask them in a poll.
This is an interactive way to get followers interested in new product rollouts. They might come in and purchase the color of the item that they chose from the poll.
Some sports teams and leagues will even use polls that ask fans who they think will win the big game.
These are fun ways for followers to engage with a brand and feel important.
3. Host Instagram takeovers with Instagram influencers
Adding Instagram influencers to your social media marketing strategy is an invaluable way to both increase your follower base and drive sales.
You can classify Instagram influencers in the micro (1,000 to 100,000 followers) level or the macro (100,000+ followers) level.
There are two ways that an Instagram Takeover can work: An influencer can take over your account for a day, or your brand can take over their account for the day.
Leading up to a takeover, both the influencer and the brand regularly remind followers when it will be taking place.
This builds the hype and reminds users where to tune in. Here's an example from Kurgo.
Another dog brand that regularly hosts Instagram Takeovers is BarkBox.
The popular dog box subscription brand will allow major dog accounts on Instagram to take over the account for the day.
During the takeover, you get a hilarious inside look at a day in the life of that pup.
Throughout the day, they add plugs for BarkBox products from the BarkShop that users can purchase, and they typically offer a coupon for followers to subscribe with a free starter box.
4. Increase your lead generation and sales by adding links
At the end of the day, we're digital marketers. If our efforts aren't generating leads and sales, we're not impacting the company's bottom line.
So how do all of these visual storytelling and humanizing tactics impact lead generation and sales conversion?
Well, storytelling boosts conversions by 30% when you use it to answer customer questions.
If you're not telling good stories, you need to get on board. As many as 78% of enterprise marketers believe that their team is very or extremely effective when it comes to storytelling.
With the new “Swipe Up” link feature on Stories, Instagram has revolutionized the way brands can convert users through social media.
The “Swipe Up” feature allows brands to add links to pictures and videos that they share on Instagram Stories.
This makes it simple to move a prospect through the sales funnel directly from Instagram. All that a user has to do is swipe up with their finger.
Here are three ways to generate leads and sales using this feature.
1. Share your web content to generate leads and sales.
By now, it's old news that content is king.
And generating remarkable content is important for SEO, lead generation, lead nurturing, customer retention, and lots more.
Instagram gives marketers another great way to get their content in front of new prospects, existing leads, and customers. How?
Brands can share a relevant photo or video with Instagram Stories and link to any piece of content – a blog, a page on the site, a YouTube video, an e-book, and more!
This lets a brand bring users back to their website to interact with the company on a deeper level. And it works.
During March of 2017, over 120 million Instagram users visited a website, got directions, or contacted a business to learn more about them from Instagram. That's a lot of interaction with businesses in one month!
Explore Canada does an excellent job of using links in Instagram Stories to drive users to its blogs.
The tourism company partners with many country-wide travel groups and implements links on Instagram Stories to share travel guides.
The example below uses links in Stories to bring users to a blog post that offers tips for planning a trip to the Great White North. At the end of the blog, they give the reader an opportunity to reach out to a travel agent, thus securing the lead.
These types of tactics are great for getting users to engage with your website and convert to a lead.
You can also use Stories to promote an immediate sale from Instagram.
In fact, at least 30% of Instagram users have purchased a product that they first discovered on Instagram.
Why is that?
Because 62% of consumers use social media when deciding whether or not they want to purchase a product or service.
This makes sense since photos influence purchase decisions even more than videos do.
One of the most valuable features that Instagram Stories gives marketers is the ability to include a link that brings users directly to the purchase page of a product.
This feature eliminates the need to visit a company's website, find the item you saw on Instagram, and then make a purchase.
Instead, it facilitates the impulse buy. It puts the product right in front of a user with the swipe of a finger.
Pottery Barn regularly uses Instagram Stories to drive users to its products.
In this example, Pottery Barn uses Stories to show beautiful pictures of new products from the collection with Jamie Durie, HGTV's beloved Australian landscape artist.
After enticing users with a few behind-the-scenes pictures of the collection, they invite users to 'See More' by clicking the link to browse products.
Target also uses Instagram Stories to promote impulse buys.
2. Utilize Instagram influencer and brand ambassador endorsements.
Let's come back to Instagram influencers. Right now, 95% of influencers report Instagram as their favorite social media platform to work on.
So, how does influencer marketing on Instagram work?
In a nutshell, brands build relationships with Instagram influencers and brand ambassadors by offering them a free or discounted product to promote with Instagram Stories and in their feed.
They also give the influencer a coupon code so that their followers can shop at a discount.
It's relatively easy to attach a dollar amount to enlisting an Instagram influencer, too. You can use digital marketing tactics like custom URLs or give influencers tracking URLs to use in their Stories.
While enlisting Instagram influencers is common throughout all industries, marketers especially use them within the beauty, fashion, and fitness communities.
Past Bachelor and Bachelor in Paradise contestant Jen Saviano is constantly promoting brands as an Instagram influencer through her stories.
Jen has a whopping 203,000 followers on Instagram.
And according to SocialBlade, that number is only going to increase.
She uses her feed and stories to promote a variety of products that range from clothing to makeup, jewelry, vitamins, furniture, food subscription boxes, and more.
She posts a product she loves with a coupon code and a link to shop in her Instagram Story daily.
Fashion blogger Katy Harrell is another example. With 187,000 followers, she is constantly modeling for clothing boutiques, offering clothing reviews, sale updates, and coupon codes.
Boutiques nationwide work with mumuandmacaroons to have her share updates on her Instagram Stories about their businesses and products.
With her Southern drawl and honest reviews, it works.
Plus, rather than seeking out Instagram influencers to promote products and sing praises, some brands hold casting calls for brand ambassadors.
MVMT, the popular jewelry and watch brand, recently held a casting call for brand ambassadors.
In addition to reviewing a candidate's Instagram's influence, the company essentially has an application and interview process.
Since most Instagram influencers rely on companies using them to grow their individual brands, they are always looking for businesses to work with.
3. Implement ads on Instagram Stories.
As the number of users on Instagram continues to grow, so does the number of ads on the platform. In 2017, the number of ads grew by 28% in just six months.
In a year, the number of ad posts doubled. And it's easy to understand why:
Instagram uses Facebook's advertising system, which has unparalleled targeting ability.
You can target ads based on an audience's interests, behaviors, demographics, language, location, and more.
And since Instagram and Facebook share the same ad platform, brands can choose whether they want their ad to run on Instagram Stories, in the Instagram feed, or on Facebook.
When ads run on Stories, users often don't even realize that they're seeing them. The ads flow smoothly as the user transitions from one story to the next.
La Mer, a high-end skin care line uses Instagram ads to reach users of a certain age who have shown interest in similar brands.
The brand uses a short film to express the type of woman who uses La Mer.
The ad includes a link at the bottom that allows viewers to swipe up and shop the skin care line.
4. To implement Instagram Stories well, be prepared to respond to direct messages.
In order to implement Instagram Stories to build your brand and convert more leads and sales, companies have to be prepared to respond to a heightened influx of direct messages (or DMs).
A direct message is a message that a user privately sends to your business account on Instagram.
At the bottom of each Instagram Story that does not include a link, users will see a message bar. This tool enables a viewer to easily DM the brand.
While this is feature is an excellent way to narrow the gap between brands and followers on Instagram, it can be detrimental to a brand if they aren't diligent about responding.
Everything on Instagram is at the touch of a finger for users. It's easy for them to get the content and information they crave on this social platform.
So, if a brand isn't quick to respond to a DM, the user who sent it will go elsewhere to find the answer.
That's why it's important for marketers to be aware of their customer response times on Instagram.
As you begin actively using Instagram Stories, you need to put a strategy in place for responding to direct messages from followers.
Understanding how Instagram Stories works and the benefits marketers can gain from it is half the battle. Now, what you do with the information is what matters.
With its unique visual storytelling ability and strong conversion methods, marketers in any industry and any consumer base can use Instagram Stories.
It's a weapon you need to have in your social media arsenal.
Take advantage of the ease of engaging with fans by using Instagram Stories to build your brand.
Show what makes your brand fun and relatable. Implement the features within Stories to easily engage with your audience and help people find your brand on the platform.
Build relationships with Instagram influencers to expand your brand and gain the stamp of approval from a trusted source on the platform.
Then, grow your leads and sales using the link feature.
Put your web content and products at the fingertips of your prospects and buyers on Instagram Stories.
Utilize relationships with brand ambassadors and Instagram influencers to have them promote your products and services and encourage fans to shop.
Test the waters within Instagram Ads to discover the ROI of putting some of your marketing budget toward Stories.
Don't forget to have quality response times as your brand's Instagram becomes a regular gateway for consumer conversation.
And as you go forth building out your social strategy on Instagram Stories, keep in mind that no marketing action is worth taking if you can't measure the results.
Be sure to utilize tracking URLs, custom coupon codes, and lead/customer sourcing to determine how your use of Instagram Stories is impacting your overall marketing strategy and goals.
How will you use Instagram Stories to grow your brand and increase your leads and sales?
About the Author: Neil Patel is the cofounder of Neil Patel Digital.
How do you convince a person to do something?
When you're having a face-to-face conversation with someone, you know how to persuade them. But you don't have the same luxury of conversation when you're dealing with visitors to your website.
Fortunately, you can utilize online persuasive tactics to close sales and improve your conversion rates.
Many of these factors have to do with the design of your website. The way your current website is designed could be the reason why you're losing sales.
Some of your design choices may actually be putting off visitors and hurting your conversions. Obviously, you're not doing it intentionally. But either way, you'll need to address these mistakes and make the necessary changes.
Since you can't actually talk to people who are visiting your website, you need to show them why they should do something.
That's why I created this guide. I want to show you the top persuasive web design principles that will lead to conversions.
1. Emphasize clarity
What's the purpose of your website?
It should be clear and obvious to anyone visiting your website from the moment they land there. They should be able to tell what you do and what you're offering, even if they've never heard of your company.
Here's a great example of clarity from the Square website:
You can figure out exactly what this company does. They use phrases such as “start selling fast” and “accept credit cards anywhere” to help visitors understand what they're offering.
Even better, they've got a clear picture of their product. The hand that's holding the device is used to show how small it is, which is a huge selling point.
Pictures are a great way to clarify your message on your website. We'll talk about how to use visuals in greater detail shortly.
Analyze your website. Obviously, you know what your company offers, but is it clear to others?
Put yourself in the shoes of somebody who has no prior knowledge of your brand, services, or products. If they can't identify what you're offering on your website, you need to improve the clarity of your message.
Don't use any ambiguous terms. Get right to the point.
I know I've been saying how important this is for new visitors, but it's just as important for your existing customers.
It should be very easy for people to find what they want on your website:
As you can see from the data, 76% of those surveyed feel that being able to find what they're looking for is the most important factor in the design of a website.
Take some time to remove anything from your website that doesn't add to the clarity of your message. Now it will be much easier for you to persuade visitors to buy something.
2. Use visuals
It's easier for people to understand an image than to read text. Obviously, you'll need to have some words on the screen, but you can let pictures do the talking for you.
Recall the earlier example of Square. The words on the screen told visitors if they buy the gadget, they can accept credit payments anywhere and get paid fast, but how can they do it?
Well, the picture was very clear. There's a small device that can be held with your fingertips and that plugs into mobile devices.
Explaining your product isn't the same as showing it.
Here's something else to take into consideration. First impressions matter. You've probably heard it your entire life. But have you applied it to your website?
What's the first impression people get when they land on your homepage?
A clear picture can help focus their attention and ultimately make the page more visually appealing. Too much text without any photos will crush your sales.
Highrise offers CRM software. Their original website had some images, but there was no clear point of focus. It was cluttered, and a visitor could easily get lost on the page, eventually leaving without converting.
Highrise redesigned their website and included a picture of a person.
What does this person have to do with their software? Nothing. But they still saw their conversion rates increase by more than 100%. Largely, it's because the new design was much cleaner.
Using a picture that takes up most of the page forces you to choose your words carefully, which means the words on the screen are much more impactful.
Make sure your page has a simple, clear layout, featuring at least one image as the focal point.
3. Prioritize the most important elements
As I just said, you need to have images on your website. But what if you have multiple images? Your website needs to have a visual hierarchy.
Visuals get attention, so you'll need to make it clear which images are more important. Here are some of the best ways to do this.
First, the size of an image should clearly communicate how important it is. Simply put, the bigger the image, the greater its importance. If you have an ecommerce website, your top selling items should be the biggest on the screen.
You could also draw attention to elements on your website based on their position. Let's say you're running a new promotion you want everyone who visits your site to see.
Don't bury it in small letters on the sidebar or in tiny print at the footer of the page. Make it big, bold, and clear in the middle of your page.
Something that's written in huge letters across the top of the screen is obviously more important than a small icon in the corner.
Let's review the Sony website:
There's a lot going on here. Clearly, this design utilizes lots of visuals.
But it's clear which elements are the most important, according to the visual hierarchy principle. As you can see, I've ranked them first through sixth.
That's how your eyes will move from one element to another, based on the size, placement, and color of these images.
Look at your website, and decide what the most important element is. If it's not the biggest and clearest element on the page, you're not effectively using this persuasion tactic.
4. Use common language
As I said earlier, you'll need to use a combination of both images and text to create a persuasive website.
The way you use this text will have an impact on sales and conversions. You need to make sure everyone reading your website understands what you're saying.
Use short words and phrases to get your message across. Bullet points are great too because while they highlight your most important sales points, they also make it easy for people to scan the information.
You want to avoid large blocks of text. Nobody will read that.
Don't use industry slang or terms people can't understand. For some of you, this will be easy. But for those of you who are in industries like manufacturing or technology, it could be a challenge.
I've got a trick to help you determine whether or not you're using common terminology. Do you have a son, daughter, niece, nephew, cousin, or younger sibling who is in elementary school?
Have them read your website. If there are words on the screen that a 5th-grader can't understand, get rid of them. Don't try to sound like a doctor or a lawyer, even if you are one.
If people can't understand you, they won't buy what you're selling.
5. Use colors to improve conversions
It comes down to psychology. Our minds have certain associations with colors based on how they are used in our daily lives.
For example, green is associated with go, and red is associated with stop. It makes sense to test a green CTA button.
Here's another example. What color is Valentine's Day? Obviously, days can't be a color. But I know that didn't stop you from thinking about red and pink.
Know your customers. Are they male or female? What part of the world are they from?
These questions will help you come up with a color scheme that drives sales.
Here are some colors that men and women like and dislike the most:
Figure out what emotions you want your customers to have when they're visiting your website.
Once you come up with the answer, you can appropriately change your color schemes to influence people's actions.
6. Limit choices
How many products is your company selling?
Some of you might have an extremely limited product line of just a few times. But those of you selling hundreds or potentially even thousands of items on your website need to pay close attention to this section.
Yes, I'm sure all your products are great. But that doesn't mean you should try to cram 100 products onto your home screen.
Be selective. Understand the paradox of choice. It's a simple concept. The more choices someone has, the lower the chances of them making any choice at all:
My recommendation would be to focus on your products that sell the most and have the highest conversion rates and the largest profit margins.
Put these on your website as the focal point. Let your other items be found through a search feature or something like that.
You could potentially even eliminate some items from your product line to make choosing easier.
If people have too many choices, they are also more likely to have buyer's remorse. They'll constantly think about an option they could have bought instead, which gives them a bad feeling.
As a result, they could have a negative association with your company as a whole.
The best way for you to be persuasive is by offering fewer choices.
7. Use only one CTA on each screen
This piggybacks on my last point.
I see too many websites try to add multiple call-to-action buttons all over each screen in an effort to get multiple conversions. But instead, they're missing out on sales.
Too many CTAs will confuse the visitor. Giving them too many choices won't lead to conversions.
I understand you may be trying to accomplish many different goals on your website. But don't overwhelm your visitors.
When you want to drive sales, your CTA should mirror your goals.
Have all the other elements on your page leading toward one CTA.
8. Implement patterns
People get used to patterns.
When you implement patterns on your website, the visitor will know what to expect as they continue.
One of the best examples of this in terms of persuasive web design is the scrolling feature. As the visitor scrolls down the page, they see more information.
Here's what this pattern looks like on the Apple's website:
This is one of the first screens you see when you start scrolling on their website to learn more about Apple Pay.
There is a heading with some text on the left side of the screen and an image on the right side of the screen. As you continue to scroll, this is the next image you see:
It's similar, but not exactly the same.
Instead, the image has flipped to the left side of the screen, while the heading and text have moved to the right.
If the pattern is to continue, what do you expect to see on the page as you scroll down even further?
Exactly. The image is back on the right and the text is on the left.
It's a very simple pattern, but it's effective. People have a greater chance of retaining this information if it's presented this way.
Imagine if they tried to cram all three pictures and all of the text onto one screen. It would be a cluttered mess.
The pattern they used creates a clean design and simple navigation. Visitors don't have to click on anything or navigate to a new landing page. All they need to do is continue scrolling.
This persuasive tactic helps focus the attention of your website visitors. Websites with simple designs have higher conversion rates.
If a company as successful as Apple is using this strategy, I think it's safe to say you can follow their lead.
You might be a persuasive speaker, but that won't help you create sales on your website.
Instead, you need to implement persuasive design principles to convince visitors to buy whatever you're selling.
It starts with clarity. Make it extremely obvious to everyone what you're offering.
Add visuals, and prioritize the most important elements on your page according to the visual hierarchy rules.
You'll need to use text as well. But make sure you're speaking in terms everyone can understand.
Create a color scheme that speaks to your audience. Limit choices, and create patterns.
Stick to one CTA per page.
Follow these persuasive web design tips if you want to improve your sales.
What persuasive design elements have you implemented on your website?
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