- by Alyson Shane
Social distancing is our only option to flatten the curve of the Coronavirus spread. But the impact could be devastating for many businesses, especially those that rely on foot traffic and offer on-site services.
As a result, businesses are looking for easy and efficient ways to promote themselves during the outbreak. Luckily, there are lots of tools at your disposal to stay connected and build awareness about your brand.
Below are 10 ways to keep your customers engaged from a distance:
1. Be active on social media
People are turning to social media to stay connected so make sure your brand is active online.
This is the best time to focus on community engagement. Leaving comments and having conversations with your audience and followers shows your business is tuned-in and humanizes your brand.
If your business can afford to contribute to local food banks or other community services, now is the time to lead by example. Share the news on social media and encourage others to do the same.
2. Connect with your customers through email
More businesses are online than ever before, so cut through the noise and to talk to your customers where they live online: in their inbox.
Use your email newsletter to promote discounts, events like live streams, webinars and online training, and anything your customers might care about.
Depending on your business, this might also be a good time to do something different with your newsletter.
For example, for the next few weeks the Starling Social weekly newsletter is switching to a “Good News” edition where we’re highlighting positive stories from our community and across the globe as a way to spread a little more joy in these uncertain times. If you’re interested, sign up here.
3. Revisit your pay-per-click strategy
With more people performing searches than ever before, now is a great time to invest in pay-per-click (PPC) marketing to help your business get found.
But if your customers need to leave the house to engage with your business, it may be worth hitting “pause” on any PPC campaigns promoting those services.
If you can, focus your ads on services and promotions that customers can access and enjoy from home. Revisit your keyword strategy and consider what new and different searches they might be making from home, and focus your ad dollars on those searches instead.
PPC marketing is also a great way to use any marketing budget that needs to be reallocated due to social distancing, as Google Ads offers an impressive return on investment (ROI) of $8 for every $1 spent.
4. Revisit your SEO strategy
With more people sitting at home browsing the internet than ever before, it’s vital that your business ranks as high as possible on a search engine results page (SERP).
For reference, before the pandemic started Google SERP rankings have a return-on-investment (ROI) of roughly the following:
- 1st Position: 31% click-through rate (CTR)
- 2nd Position 15% CTR
- 3rd Position: 9% CTR
- 4th Position: 7% CTR
- 5th Position: 5% CTR
Organic CTR for positions 7-10 is virtually the same.
As we can see, the CTR drops off dramatically after the first few results, so it’s critical to make sure your website ranks as high as possible.
Looking for more insight on improving your SEO rank? We’ve got some resources that may help:
- SEO Research Tips for Building Your B2B Content
- Here Are the Answers to Your Hottest Local SEO Questions
- How to Use The KonMari Method for SEO
5. Publish content on your blog
People are hungry for content to consume with all this extra time. If your business has a blog, use this opportunity to share posts that inform, amuse, or excite your readers.
Use any SEO and PPC research you've done to inform the topics you discuss on your blog, since searches give you insight into what people are looking for. If you provide answers to the search in your post, your blog has a higher chance of ranking higher on the results page.
Bonus: publishing blog posts regularly gives you extra social media content to share, making this task a little bit easier, and gives your website a natural SEO boost.
6. Highlight gift cards and take-out options
Gift cards give your business an infusion of cash right away and guarantee that the customer will return to your business in the future. In Seattle, customers are going out of their way to buy gift cards from local businesses to keep cash flowing.
To promote social distancing, set up an e-card program and promote take-out as an option if you run a restaurant, cafe or bakery.
7. Host contests and giveaways on social media
Contests are a great way to engage your audience and gain more visibility for your brand, just make sure they’re tasteful. Book publishers can give away audiobooks and e-books to their followers as a way to pass the time indoors, for example.
A great way to support other local businesses is to collaborate on a contest giveaway - just make sure all the prizes are either digital or can be sent through the mail.
8. Promote discounts
Now is a great time to entice long-term purchases by offering discounts. If your business offers memberships, encourage customers to lock into a one-year membership now at a discounted rate. If you run a retail store, consider offering free shipping for online orders.
Depending on your business model, you can also use traditional promotions like “buy one get one” (BOGO) and free incentives.
9. Keep customers engaged with live video
If you have a store opening, product launch, or celebration planned, use Facebook and Instagram Live to stream it to your social media channels.
If you don’t have any announcements planned, use video as a way to go behind the scenes with your business. Share how your team is connecting remotely. Walk viewers through how a product gets made. Offer a live Q&A. The possibilities are endless, just be creative!
Video is a great way to keep customers engaged and put a face to your brand in addition to selling your products and services. Promote your live events and increase attendance by offering a special discount code to the first 50 or 100 people who join.
10. Host webinars and online events
Social isolation is leaving people more time to invest in training and personal development, so now is the ideal time to hone any online offerings your business may have, like webinars or online certifications.
Many businesses rely on in-person events to generate income and leads, so if you have a conference or training event that has recently been cancelled, consider reformatting it into a webcast that attendees can join from home.
How to promote your business during the coronavirus outbreak: conclusion
Nobody knows when things will go back to “normal” or even what that “new normal” will look like, so it’s more important than ever for businesses to connect with their customers online.
Invest in your social media and in content that keeps your customers engaged and excited about supporting you during this crisis. If you need help, drop us a line.
If you want more tips like this (plus good news from our community and elsewhere) sign up for our weekly, hand-picked newsletter.
Above all, stay safe out there.
The Starling Social Team
- by Alyson Shane
Wondering how to successfully work from home while social distancing?
If you said ‘yes’, you’re not alone. It’s only Tuesday, and many people across Canada and in my community here in Winnipeg are struggling with working from home for the first time as businesses close down to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
It’s a weird time, so I wanted to take a break from our typical marketing-focused content to share a few personal tips on staying focused while working from home.
I’ve been working from home for six years and manage the Starling Social team remotely. I love working from home, but I’ll be the first to admit that it isn’t always easy. This is especially true during these strange, trying times.
So if you're new to remote work and want some tips on how to successfully work from home, check out these suggestions to say sane and productive:
1. Establish how you’ll communicate
Before I get into the personal stuff, let’s start by focusing on how you’ll get work done.
In my experience, the biggest time-waster and source of anxiety when working remotely is not having a process to discuss, assign, and manage tasks and projects to completion.
At Starling Social, we use a combination of four tools, listed below:
- Gmail. All formal communication is done by email.
- Zoom. To discuss projects that are too complex for email.
- Trello. Trello is how we keep track of multiple projects, due dates, and deliverables on an ongoing basis.
- Each client has a Board, and each project has a Card that gets assigned, tracked, and completed for all collaborators to see.
- Google Drive. Everything we do - blog post drafts, spreadsheets, strategy documents, all of it - is stored in the cloud.
- We use Google Drive to track edits, changes, and updates to all our documentation. This reduces confusion and keeps email to a minimum.
2. Get into a morning routine ASAP
The act of going to and coming home from the office plays a big part in being able to separate our work and personal lives in healthy ways.
Find something in your morning routine that you can use to transition from waking up to focusing on being productive mentally.
Whether that’s a long shower or slowing down to enjoy making your coffee, find something that you can use to transition from “waking up” to “working” at home.
My morning routine is pretty simple: every morning I brush my teeth, shower, get dressed, and wash my face. I listen to a couple of podcasts (Up First and What a Day) to catch up on the news while I get ready. Each podcast is about 15 minutes, so I work a 30-minute “commute” into my morning. By the time the podcasts are over, I’m sitting at my desk about to start my day.
My office is right next to my bedroom, so I could slob over to my desk in my PJs every day if I wanted to. But the days when I’m most productive are the days when I follow my morning routine.
Trust me on this one!
2. Keep “regular” work hours
Treat your workday as a workday and keep regular work hours. If you usually work 9 - 5, stick to those hours as much as you can.
Being clear on when you’re available sets the expectation you aren’t on-call 24/7. It also has the added benefit of keeping your brain in a familiar pattern, which helps with staying focused.
The team and I keep 9 - 5 hours for our clients, but I like to be at my desk for 8:30 AM so I can get a jump-start on the day - and it usually means I can wrap up early if I get through my to-dos for the day.
3. Create a separate workspace
Working from places where you typically relax and unwind makes it harder to focus and be productive in those same spaces.
I have an office with a door that I close when I’m not working. It helps me separate my professional and personal lives and helps m focus because mentally, I know that if I’m sitting at my desk, I’m working.
Having a "workspace" can also be helpful for communicating with kids about why you're not able to spend time with them even though you're home all day.
If you don’t have the space for a separate office, at least avoid working from your bed. Most people who work in bed tend to do it before falling asleep, which can reduce melatonin and decrease the quality of your sleep.
3. Drink water
Studies have found that staying hydrated can increase your productivity, so don’t slip on staying hydrated while working from home.
When we work in an office, getting up to refill a water bottle is a chance to take a break. We can be social, stretch our legs, and allow our brain to focus on something else for a few minutes as we walk to and from the water cooler or kitchen.
At home, we don’t have the same natural distractions or reasons to wander, so we’re less likely to stay hydrated.
One trick I’ve been using is to add a few slices of cucumber to a water bottle and keep it on my desk. Having it in arm’s reach means I sip more often, and when all that’s left in the bottle is cucumber slices, I refill the bottle.
The idea of cucumber slices languishing in the bottle makes me feel icky, so I naturally refill the container to keep them hydrated right away. This self-hack has helped me drink an average of 4 - 6 glasses of water a day - way more than I used to!
4. Take breaks and stretch
Working from home can easily lead to sitting at your desk for eight hours straight, hunched over your keyboard like Gollum from The Hobbit if you aren’t careful.
I take multiple 5 - 10-minute breaks throughout my day. Sometimes it’s just to go to the bathroom or refill my water, or just to wander through the house to pet the cats and check the mail.
Whatever it is, I’m moving around and away from my desk.
If I have time, I try to work a little yoga into my afternoon. Yoga with Adriene is a great YouTube channel with easy, 10 - 20-minute yoga videos designed to do at home, and in some cases, even at your desk.
Here’s one of my favs for you to try:
5. Manage your time with the ‘Pomodoro Technique’
I use this tactic to stay focused when working on something that isn’t grabbing my attention or when I have to finish something, and I don’t want to get distracted.
The technique uses a timer to break work into intervals of 25 minutes each, separated by short breaks. Each interval is known as a pomodoro, from the Italian word for ‘tomato’.
I like this technique because it encourages breaks, which, as we just talked about, are essential for productivity and your mental well-being. The 25-minute breaks also feel attainable and tend to go by pretty quickly in my experience.
6. Make your workspace somewhere you like to be
Here’s the truth: as long as we’re practicing social distancing, this is where you’re going to be spending a lot of your time. Why not make it an enjoyable place to be?
Here’s an example of what my desk setup looks like at home.
My office is in the basement so unfortunately I can’t grow any plants near my desk, but I make up for it with big pieces of art and extra lighting.
I burn incense, I have photos of my friends on the wall, and I choose desktop wallpapers featuring bright colours that inspire me (my wallpaper is a cenote in Belize - sigh!) All of these things make my desk a positive, inspiring place for me to get work done.
If you have a desktop setup to share, tweet it at me! I'd love to see it.
7. Work when you’re most productive
The key to working from home is to figure out when you’re most productive and do your best to focus on the most important tasks during that time.
If you have kids at home due to school closures, consider when you can get the most done in-between taking care of them.
For example, you know you’re at your best first thing in the morning, try to get up and get as much done as you can. Then, if you have to manage the house, focus on the kids, or if you just need to take a damn break (don’t we all?), then you’ve got the essential things out of the way.
If you can, talk to your employer about working “flex time” so you can be there for your family while also scheduling in the time you need to get work done.
8. Review and plan ahead
If having a morning routine is how I ease into the workday, planning out my next day and reviewing anything I have coming up is how I put work down.
If you don’t already use one, I suggest getting a day planner to use while you work from home. I use a Day Designer and swear by them, but if you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, any daily planner will do.
At the end of my workday, I allot 5 - 10 minutes to reviewing the next day’s meetings and tasks and adding anything I didn’t finish to the next day’s to-do list. I typically have 3 - 8 “high” level tasks that I break down into smaller deliverables.
Here’s an example of what I mean:
- Finalize spring ad campaign development
- Resolve comments in GDoc
- Approve ads / send back edits
- If approved, send to client for final review
Breaking down my high-level to-dos into smaller tasks feels more manageable. I’ve also found that breaking down my thought process this way helps me understand my workflow, which helps me be more productive in the long-term.
This technique helps me "put down" my work mentally so I can focus on other things. It also feels great to sit down at my desk every morning and know what I can expect from my day.
Be gentle with yourself
It’s OK if you don’t feel like you can work at breakneck speed right now.
We’re all going through a strange experience together, and beating ourselves up for “not working hard enough” is the fastest way to tank our productivity and burn ourselves out.
One of the things working from home teaches us is to listen to our bodies. If you feel emotionally overwhelmed and have the time, take a catnap and come back to what you were doing later. (Odds are nobody noticed you were unavailable for that 20 minutes, anyway.)
Learning to be productive while working from home can be challenging at the best of times. If you’re struggling, don’t judge yourself. Be honest with your employer or team and figure out a system that works - we’re all here to support each other right now.
How to Successfully Work From Home While Social Distancing: Final Thoughts
With any luck, the social distancing we’re doing to stop the spread of COVID-19 will be short-lived, and our lives will go back to normal sooner than later.
In the meantime, be kind to yourselves and others. Working from home sounds glamorous until you realize it usually means not leaving your house for days at a time. That lack of social interaction can wear on people.
Please: regularly send messages to friends and loved ones. Schedule FaceTime with people you know who are self-isolating, or at home doing social distancing. Be honest with yourself and others about your mental health.
If you feel overwhelmed, want more advice on working from home, or just need to chat about how you’re feeling, DM me on Twitter. I’m always here if you need someone to talk to.
Stay safe, and don’t forget to wash your hands.
Alyson & the Starling Social team
- by Alyson Shane
Is your business ready to celebrate International Women's Day 2020?
Sunday, March 8 2020 is International Women's Day (or 'IWD'), an annual celebration of the important contributions women make to our businesses and communities, and to reflect on the work that's still needed to build towards a truly equal and equitable society.
As businesses, this is our opportunity to lend our voices to an important discussion. But that doesn't mean we should be happy with just ReTweeting someone else's post, or throwing up a generic "Happy IWD 2020" post and calling it a day.
It's more important than ever for businesses to find ways to tell stories about their brand, and leading the discussion with your own content articulates a strong point of view while also showcasing your brand's core values and purpose across your social media.
Luckily, it's easier than ever to tell thoughtful stories on social media. Here's how you can capitalize on storytelling for International Women's Day 2020:
1. Get Input From Women in Your Company
The first thing you need to do to prepare to celebrate IWD 2020 is to talk to the women in your business about the key challenges they feel need to be addressed to achieve equality in the workplace.
Whether that's not being talked-over by male colleagues, trying to succeed in male-dominated industries, or figuring out how to carve out a career path, the women you work with probably have strong feelings on these topics that you can draw from to create honest and appropriate content for the day.
Remember: "diversity" doesn't just apply to gender. Make a point to talk to women from diverse ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, and across age groups to get as much information and insight as you can.
2. Increase Value by Being Specific
Anyone social media manager knows how easy it is to craft a post that says "Happy International Women's Day! We support diversity in the workplace" and consider the job done.
While this type of post may get you a few likes, but a generic post doesn't add to the larger conversation about equality, women's rights, or addressing diversity in the workplace.
A more generic post also suggests that you haven't taken the time to understand the event besides looking into which hashtag is being used this year.
Consider that International Women's Day has a history that dates back to the early 1900s, and has been highlighting women's rights and achievements since before diversity and inclusion became a priority in many companies.
Considering how long it's been celebrated, it probably comes as no surprise that how we celebrate International Women's Day changes from year to year. This year the theme is "Each for Equal" - here's what their website says:
An equal world is an enabled world.
Individually, we're all responsible for our own thoughts and actions - all day, every day.
We can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women's achievements.
Collectively, each one of us can help create a gender equal world.
Let's all be #EachforEqual.
Your social media strategy should speak directly to how your business is working to create a more equal world for everyone.
That could mean hiring more women, creating a mentorship or peer-networking program, or participating in conferences that focus on women in business, like SHEday here in Manitoba.
You should also consider using the 2020 hashtag #EachforEqual to show that you're speaking specifically to this year's event, as well as ongoing, more general hashtags like #IWD and #IWD2020 to make sure your posts are included in searches for similar kinds of content.
3. Be Creative With Your Creative
One of the keys to being successful this IWD is to do a little pre-planning to help save time (ad sanity) before March 8th.
For example, instead of posting a single image or post, develop a series of posts that can be added to your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram profiles (bonus points if you use Instagram Stories to share your International Women's Day stories!)
While planning your creative, remember that different social networks favour different kinds of content.
For example, while a post featuring short text with an image and a URL leading back to your website is perfect for Twitter, Instagram's layout requires a stronger visual strategy and doesn't let you link to URLs in the body of your posts.
Once you've decided which social platforms to post to, take time to tailor your messages to each platform's requirements so they stand out and shine.
Walk the Walk
This year's theme for International Women's Day 2020 is "Each for Equal," and that doesn't just mean posting about quality for 24 hours and then ignoring these values until the same time next year.
Use International Women's Day as an opportunity to share how your business is addressing diversity issues in the workplace, and keep the conversation going - not just on social media, but around the board room table.
Take the time to listen to the women in your organization are saying, and use International Women's Day 2020 day as an opportunity to show that you're committed to a more balanced, equal future for everyone.
Want help developing a digital marketing strategy that tells your company's story on social media? Drop us a line.
Looking to stay up-to-date with our posts? Subscribe to our newsletter.
**This post was originally published for International Women's Day 2019, and has been updated to include new and relevant info.**
- by Alyson Shane
Do you struggle to understand the marketing jargon you read online?
If so, you’re not alone. Many of the business owners we talk to and work with give us blank stares when we start talking about SERP rankings or keyword proximity.
That’s why we compiled this handy list of 20+ marketing terms to help you grow your business.
These are the expressions that seem to stump people the most often, all listed in one handy place.
If you’re a business owner who wants to develop a deeper understanding of how to market your business online, then keep reading:
20+ Useful Marketing Terms to Help You Grow Your Business
1. Application Programming Interface (API)
APIs are rules in programming that determine how an application extracts information. Essentially, APIs act as windows into a software program that allows other programs to interact with it without accessing the entire code database.
We typically encounter APIs in digital marketing when sharing information on social media. The Facebook API, for example, is the set of rules programmers need to follow when writing their code so that websites can interact with elements of Facebook.
Similarly, there’s the Twitter API, LinkedIn API… you get the idea.
2. Business-to-Business (B2B)
The term used to refer to businesses that sell to other businesses. Examples include Salesforce, Google, and HubSpot.
3. Business-to-Consumer (B2C)
The term used to describe companies that sell to consumers. Examples include Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Spotify.
4. Buyer Personas
Buyer personas are exactly what they sound like: they’re fake people you create in order to develop a better understanding of different customer types.
Many businesses are tempted to say “everyone is our customer,” but that’s an over-simplification. Even if your business serves a variety of demographics, like Amazon or Netflix, there are still specific areas about different customer types you can dig into in order to better understand your customers’ needs, and how they vary depending on the category they fall into.
Ready to start building your own buyer personas? Click here to use our free guide.
5. Call-to-Action (CTA)
A call-to-action (CTA) a web link (text, image, button, etc.) that encourages a website visitor to take a specific action, such as signing up for a newsletter or contacting a sales rep. Some examples include:
- Subscribe now
- Download our free PDF
- Contact us
CTAs are how marketers move potential customers through various stages of the sales funnel by enticing them to take the action we want them to take.
6. Churn Rate
Your “churn” is a metric that measures how many of your customers you retain, and at what value. This metric is especially important for companies that rely on a monthly recurring revenue (MRR) model.
Calculating churn is easy: take the number of customers you lost during a specific time frame, and divide that by the total number of customers that you had at the start of the time frame (don’t include any new sales.)
For example, if a business had 1000 customers at the start of January 2020, but they only have 750 customers by the end of the month (excluding new customers gained), their churn rate would be (1000-250)/1000 = 750/1000 = 25% churn rate.
7. Clickthrough Rate (CTR)
Your clickthrough rate is the percentage of your audience who “clicks through” from one part of your marketing campaign to the next.
To calculate your CTR, just divide the total number of clicks that your page or CTA has received by the number of opportunities people had to click (emails sent, total number of pageviews, etc.)
8. Cost-per-Acquisition (CPA)
CPA is a sales-based measurement that identifies the total marketing spend needed to move a lead (potential customer) from Awareness to Decision stage in the sales funnel.
CPA is useful when applied to marketing because it’s essentially on par with ROI (return on investment) and can be a strong indicator of long-term success in a lead generation campaign. To calculate your cost-per-acquisition, divide the total campaign/channel spend by the number of new customers acquired from that campaign or channel.
By working to lower and optimize your CPA, marketers can respond to challenges in a campaign quickly, which makes their campaigns more cost-efficient in the long term.
9. Cost-per-Click (CPC)
Cost-per-Click (CPC) is an ad model used to drive traffic to websites where a business pays a publisher (usually a search engine or social network) whenever the ad is clicked.
Calculating your CPC is easy: just divide the total cost of your clicks by the total number of clicks.
CPC is sometimes used interchangeably with pay-per-click (PPC) marketing, though most marketers use PPC to refer specifically to marketing through Google Ads, and CPC to refer to the process of calculating a click-through rate.
10. Cost-per-Impression (CPM)
Cost-per-Impression (CPM, or cost-per-mille) is the rate that your business pays per 1000 views of your ad.
If the goal of your ad campaign isn’t to generate click-throughs, but is more about getting as many eyeballs on your ad as possible, then you can select this option and only pay when your ad is displayed in front of someone.
Each time an ad appears in front of a user counts as one impression.
11. Custom Audiences
Custom Audiences are also exactly what they sound like: they’re groups of people who are defined by a series of shared characteristics (geolocation, for example) and served ads based on those characteristics.
12. Evergreen content
Evergreen content is content that can still be useful no matter when someone reads it. For example, a post referencing a specific event or cultural moment can become less relevant over time, whereas a how-to article may stay relevant and useful for years after it’s been published.
One of the biggest benefits to evergreen content is that it’s extremely good SEO material because people keep clicking on the same link for an extended period of time. This tells the search engines that your website has highly valuable content, and will reward your business with a higher SERP rank.
13. Key Performance Indicator (KPI)
KPIs are how marketers track progress towards specific marketing goals, and the best marketers continually review their KPIs in order to understand and evaluate their performance against industry standards.
Examples of KPIs include:
- Website and blog traffic
- Homepage views
14. Keyword Proximity
Keyword proximity is one of the factors that Google’s search algorithms take into consideration when weighing different keywords. It refers to how close two or more keywords are to one another, and you can increase your SERP rankings.
If a website is hoping to rank for the search term “digital marketing agency Winnipeg” you might be tempted to use a heading that reads: “Trust our digital marketing agency to grow your business in Winnipeg.” This phrasing isn’t bad, but a better version would read: “the digital marketing agency Winnipeg businesses trust to grow.”
15. Lookalike Audiences
A Lookalike Audience is an audience created from people who share similar characteristics to another group of users on a social network, but who wouldn’t otherwise be included in more detailed targeting.
Lookalike Audiences are created b analyzing existing customers (or other audiences) and finding commonalities, which allows businesses to find highly-qualified customers who may have been harder to reach.
Though originally pioneered by Facebook, Lookalike Audiences are not available through GoogleAds, LinkedIn Ads.
16. Mobile Optimization
“Optimizing for mobile” is the process of formatting your website so that it’s easy to read and navigate on a mobile device.
Most modern websites are built with mobile optimization in mind, and will generate different layouts depending on the size of the screen being used to view the website. The process of building a website that can detect and react to screen size is called “mobile optimization.”
Google and other search engines reward websites that are mobile-friendly, so if your website isn’t fully optimized for mobile devices, you may rank lower on a search engine results page (called a SERP — more on this below.)
17. Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR)
MRR is the amount of revenue a subscription-based business generates per month. There are several aspects to calculating MRR, including:
- Net new: MRR gained from new users
- Net positive: MRR gained from upsells
- Net negative: MRR lost from downsells
- Net loss: MRR lost from cancellations
18. Pay-per-click (PPC)
Pay-per-click (PPC) is another way of describing cost-per-click (CPC) ad revenue models where businesses get charged whenever someone clicks on their ads.
Within marketing circles, however, PPC is generally used to denote using the GoogleAds advertising platform, whereas CPC is used to discuss the actual cost of the PPC ads.
19. Return on Investment (ROI)
ROI is a performance measure used to assess the profitability of an investment.
It’s measured by measuring the gain from the investment minus the cost of the investment. The results are presented as a percentage that tell us whether a company is losing money on the investment (a negative percentage) or generating revenue (a positive percentage.)
For marketers, we want to measure the ROI of every tactic and channel we use to promote businesses online. Some ROI is easy to track, like cost-per-click (CPCs), while longtail forms of marketing like content marketing are harder to track 1-1.
20. Sales Funnel
A sales funnel is the visual representation of the journey a customer takes from the first time they become aware of your brand, to when they complete a purchase.
The sales funnel is usually broken up into four stages:
1. Awareness. Potential customers are encountering a specific problem and are researching and learning about how to solve it.
Content at this stage should inform and educate, and should be easy to produce like blog posts, quizzes, and videos.
2. Interest. Potential customers are diving deeper into the specifics of their problem. They’ve moved from “why does my back hurt?” to “how do I choose the best mattress for lower back pain.”
3. Discovery. Potential customers are aware of your brand, and are weighing their options.
The content that works best during these two stages are in-depth guides, checklists, pro and con lists, and other pieces that offer insight and guide the purchasing decision.
4. Action. Potential customers are now ready to become actual customers.
The best content for the bottom of the funnel are FAQ pages, videos and product features, competitive analyses, and live demos. These content pieces should serve to reinforce your potential customer’s view of your product or service as the best option to solve their problems.
21. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) + Search Engine Page Ranking (SERP)
SEO is the process of optimizing your website so that search engines like Google can read and index it as quickly as possible.
How quickly your website can be indexed in a search engine depends on a variety of factors, including page load speed, keyword relevance, how many websites link to your website, and many other factors.
Your SERP ranking is where your website ranks among organic (non-paid) search results, and is influenced by your SEO efforts.
22. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)
SaaS businesses are internet companies who host a specific service, like Salesforce or HubSpot, that stores your information in the cloud.
Improve your business’ digital marketing strategy today
If you’re looking for more resources like this one, make sure to subscribe to our newsletter. It’s jam-packed with all the digital marketing resources you need each week.
Ready to level up your business’ digital marketing strategy? Get in touch and let us know how we can help your business reach more customers online.
- by Alyson Shane
Do you wonder how to use hashtags on different social media networks?
Then you've come to the right place! In the second instalment of our "How to Use Hashtags Like a Pro" series, we'll cover:
- How to use hashtags on Instagram
- How to use hashtags on Twitter
- How to use hashtags on LinkedIn
- How to use hashtags on Pinterest
- How to use hashtags on Facebook
How to use hashtags on Instagram
Hashtags may have started on Twitter, but they've become one of the most important ways to find and connect with others on Instagram.
Once you've figured out which hashtags to use (for more info on choosing the right hashtags, click here), keep these tips in mind:
- Add hashtags in your post captions. Type the related hashtags into the caption section of the photo. Add your hashtags below the image caption whenever possible.
- You can also add more hashtags in the comments if you'd like.
The maximum amount of hashtags you can add to an Instagram post is 30, though we don't recommend maxing out your hashtags every time you post.
If you want to use an aggressive hashtag strategy to help more people find and follow your account, go nuts - just don't post 30 hashtags with every post.
Instead, space out the posts with lots of hashtags in-between posts with limited numbers of hashtags. This helps your content feel more authentic overall.
Using blended hashtags on Instagram
Here at Starling Social, we like to use a "blended" hashtag strategy to help our clients' content be seen by the maximum number of people. It works like this:
When choosing which hashtags to post, use a combination of popular and somewhat-popular hashtags (vs. focusing only on high-performing hashtags.)
This tactic helps your posts be seen by a large number of people right away. But because content gets buried quickly in the Timeline, those additional, less-popular hashtags will mean your posts will stick around at the top of those feeds for a lot longer.
For less-popular hashtags, we suggest choosing niche hashtags related to your brand or geo-location. These tend to be less popular by virtue of being more niche, but still allow you to connect your content with people who may be interested in seeing it.
How to use hashtags on Twitter
Twitter is the easiest place to get the hang of using hashtags.
You can get started by checking out the 'Trending' column on the right-hand side of your desktop view. This is a great way to stay on top of the hottest topics and trends.
You can add hashtags to your Tweet as you compose it, and as you write, Twitter will suggest hashtags based on what you've typed, like this:
This makes discovering new hashtags super easy!
As for where you should put your hashtags in your Tweet - the jury's still out on this one. Some brands love to embed hashtags into their Tweet text, like this:
But lately, we've been seeing lots of Tweets that are adding hashtags at the end of the post, which is an interesting way to keep followers focused on the content. Check it out:
Which way do you prefer? Tweet at us and let us know.
How to use hashtags on LinkedIn
Since LinkedIn is a professional network, the best hashtags are the ones that are content focused, or specific to a topic.
When writing an update from your LinkedIn homepage, you can add hashtags to your post by typing # and the combination of words/terms you'd like to use, or you can click on any of the suggested hashtags next to the the 'Add hashtag' button.
Like with other social networks, hashtag suggestions will pop up when you start writing your hashtag.
You can also add hashtags to articles you publish on LinkedIn. Just follow these steps:
- Write your article.
- Click 'Publish' in the top-right corner
- A pop-up window will appear
- In "Tell your network what your article is about" field, add text and hashtags to help readers find your article.
The hashtags you choose won't show up in the article but can be found in the description that shows above your article on users' feeds.
Important: you can't edit, add, or remove hashtags after you've hit 'Publish' - so choose wisely!
How to use hashtags on Pinterest
Hashtags are an essential way for your Pins to be categorized and seen by the right people, so don't leave them out! Make sure to add them to your Pin descriptions whenever possible.
When adding hashtags on Pinterest, be specific and descriptive. Use hashtags that are closely related to the topic of the article you're Pinning, or your brand hashtag.
Related: we covered how to create a brand hashtag in part 1 of this series.
Like Instagram, make sure to add your hashtags at the end of your description. This helps keep your reader's attention focused on your content and prevents them from accidentally clicking away to a hashtag feed before they can click through to your website.
To add a hashtag on Pinterest, follow these steps:
- Create your Pin and type "#" followed by a keyword or phrase in the description.
- If you're Saving a Pin using the Share button, you'll see the suggested hashtags pop up as you're sharing.
Pinterest recommends adding no more than 20 hashtags per pin, but similar to Instagram we want to keep our "spammy" use of hashtags to a minimum.
Ideally, try to use 4-8 high-quality hashtags per Pin.
How to use hashtags on Facebook
Despite being available for use since 2013, hashtags on Facebook have never really exploded in popularity.
One reason is that most Facebook profiles are private, compared to other social networks like Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, which are public by default. People with private accounts can't be involved in public hashtag conversations, so their use is quite limited on the platform.
Another is that Facebook hasn't really promoted their use or published a lot of material on "best practices" to date - clearly it's not a priority.
Do hashtags work on Facebook?
There's a lot of conflicting information about whether or not hashtags increase or decrease your reach on Facebook, but generally they don't seem to have a net positive effect.
If you choose to use hashtags on Facebook, limit yourself to using one or two. Bonus points if one of them is your brand hashtag since this will help users see all the posts about your brand on Face.
How to use hashtags like a pro: conclusion
Hashtags are one of the most important ways to help new users discover your brand, and to engage in relevant and timely interactions with your followers.
If you're just getting started with using hashtags, check out our first post in this two-part series, called How to Use Hashtags Like a Pro Part 1: The Basics for all you need to know.
Do you have a fav way to use hashtags in your social media marketing? Tweet it at us!
Want more useful articles like this one delivered right to your inbox each month? Subscribe to our newsletter! We handpick the best digital marketing news there is to know, so you can stay informed about how to market your business.
- by Alyson Shane
Do you know how to use hashtags in your social media marketing?
Since they were introduced on Twitter in 2007, hashtags (also known as the “pound symbol” or “hash mark” aka # ) have become one of the most effective ways for brands to start, track, and participate in discussions.
If you’re looking for the definitive guide on using these essential marketing tools, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s dive right in:
What are hashtags?
Hashtags are a word, or group of words, preceded by a pound (#) sign that are used on social media to categorize and find conversations around a particular topic.
These symbol/word groupings create clickable links to posts using the same hashtag. For example, if you search for #SocialMediaMarkteing on Twitter, you’ll discover thousands of posts using the hashtag that you can reply to and interact with.
While hashtags originally started on Twitter, nowadays they’re used on every major social network.
Why use hashtags?
Hashtags help brands get discovered online, and help them be a part of broader conversations around topics relevant to their industry.
Hashtags are also a great way to follow breaking news or tune into upcoming trends.
How to find the best hashtags
There are a few ways to start discovering the hottest hashtags, including:
Hands-down one of the easiest ways to do your research. Here are some of our fav tools for the job:
Influencers in your industry
Think about it: if these hashtags work for the most successful brands and personalities in your industry, the chances are that they’ll work for you, too.
Check trending hashtags
Looking up popular hashtags in Twitter is easy: use the trending hashtags section!
If you find a hashtag relevant to your industry, jump on the trend to increase awareness about your brand!
Important: don’t use irrelevant hashtags to get attention; your audience will notice and this may damage your brand reputation.
A branded hashtag is precisely what it sounds like: a hashtag that can “group” your content together and make it easy to find.
Best of all: you can make this one up all by yourself!
Types of branded hashtags to consider using include:
- Your business name
- Your business’ tagline, or mission statement
- Promotion or campaign name
How to use hashtags properly
Remember: hashtags are a single word. There should never be any spaces in-between the words in your hashtag. Punctuation in your hashtag phrase will break the tag:
#Let’sTalkHousing (incorrect) vs. #LetsTalkHousing (correct)
Another good rule of thumb is to limit how many hashtags you use. Don’t #add #hashtags #to #every #word. Use them sparingly and strategically.
Of course, because each social network is different, how we use hashtags in our content will vary, as well. Keep reading for a list of hashtag do’s and don’ts below:
Follow these best practices to make sure you’re always using hashtags correctly:
- Follow and use hashtags related to your industry or business.
- Check out the rules for hashtags on each social network. For example, Twitter focuses more on the topic, while Instagram hashtags are generally used to describe the post.
- Be specific. Choose relevant and niche hashtags overbroad, general ones.
- Don’t use a hashtag without researching it first. Is the hashtag being used? If so, is it being used in the context you want to use it?
- Don’t overdo it. Too many hashtags in a post looks desperate and spammy. Each social network has “best practices” around how many to use, but generally, you don’t want to use more hashtags than words in your post.
- Keep your hashtags short. Overly long hashtags are hard to read, and often not very popular.
Start using hashtags in your social media marketing
Using hashtags in your ongoing social media marketing is an easy (and free!) way to connect with your audience, and help more of your ideal customers find your brand.
Use the tips outlined in this post to start using hashtags as part of your ongoing digital marketing strategy, and stay tuned for part two in this series “How to Use Hashtags on Social Media” where we break down hashtag do’s and don’ts by platform!
Get posts like this delivered right to our inbox each week! Subscribe to our newsletter.
- by Alyson Shane
Are you planning to invest more time and resources into your business’ social media in 2020?
There’s a lot out there about what you should do in the coming year, and the marketing trends to keep in mind… but what about what not to do?
Just in time to start planning your next year’s marketing strategy, we’ve got a list of the top 5 mistakes to avoid.
So dig in, take note, and start preparing for a successful year on social media:
1. Failing to plan your strategy
Here at Starling Social, we put our clients through a rigorous onboarding process that involves creating multiple, brand-specific documents like:
- Audience/buyer personas
- Copywriting style guide
- Affiliates and competitors lists
- Company info sheet
- Content calendar
- Social media master strategy document
- How-to documents per social network and deliverable
This might seem excessive, but going through all this work beforehand means that we have a deep understanding of who our clients are before we begin posting on their behalf.
It also means that we can explain our reasoning to our clients, and refer back to agreed-upon documentation when making decisions or reviewing a process.
2. Not doing audience research
Spoiler alert: your audience isn’t “everyone.”
One of the reasons why we build audience personas is to develop a better understanding of exactly who we need to be talking to online.
This research matters because different demographics of people spend their time in different places online. For example, a B2B salesperson in their mid-40’s is more likely to be spending time on LinkedIn than Instagram. On the other hand, a millennial is much more likely to be spending time on Instagram than LinkedIn.
Audience research also helps you understand the specific pain points felt by different people who might want to buy from you. Having a deep understanding of their pain points and how your business solves them is critical for effective social media marketing.
Use our guide to building effective audience and buyer personas, and make sure you’re marketing to the right people in the right places.
3. Using engagement bots or buying followers
Some brands who feel anxious about their social media following may feel tempted to “invest” in tools that automatically like and comment on Instagram posts, or in purchasing followers to boost these numbers.
If this is something you’ve considered, we strongly suggest you reconsider. Here are two reasons why:
- Fake engagement doesn’t build real relationships with your followers. People want to buy from brands they trust, and that means spending time showing them that you’re paying attention by doing the work of manually engaging with them.
- Fake followers don’t help your business grow. Fake followers aren’t people who genuinely care about what you have to offer, which defeats the purpose of having them. Sure, having 20K followers might look great. Still, those 20K followers don’t have any value because they aren’t genuinely interested in buying what you have to sell.
We talked about how using engagement bots is against our company values in one of our older blog posts, which you can read here.
4. Posting on too many social media networks
The key to staying ahead of the competition on social media in 2020 is to identify the best social networks for your brand and to develop individual marketing strategies based on those platforms.
Spreading yourself too thin across too many social networks stretches your resources. It often leads to poor implementation of your social media marketing strategy.
Doing the audience/buyer persona research, we talked about earlier is critical to determining the best places to spend your time. Once you’ve identified the top 3-4 social networks, focus on developing unique and exciting marketing messaging for each one and hone as you go.
5. Ignoring LinkedIn and Pinterest
We’ve seen a resurgence on LinkedIn throughout 2019, and this momentum appears to be building as we move into 2020.
40% of monthly active users use LinkedIn every day. People using LinkedIn typically use the platform to find new and relevant content, which makes them more receptive to anything you may be sharing.
Pinterest is a unique social network because it acts more like a search engine than other social media networks. Even better: pins on Pinterest can continue to drive traffic to your website for years after your initial pin.
Avoid these social media marketing mistakes in 2020
Building a social media presence that generates awareness about your brand and grows your business takes concerted time and effort.
By keeping these mistakes in mind, you can avoid some of the pitfalls marketers find themselves in, and create a lasting, positive impression about your brand in the minds of your followers.
So what are you waiting for? Start planning and get posting!
Want more articles like this one delivered to your inbox every Tuesday morning along with the hottest industry news and resources? Subscribe to our newsletter.
Want help developing a social media marketing strategy that gets results for your business? Drop us a line and let us know how we can help.
- by Alyson Shane
People don’t just buy online anymore; they now do their shopping online, as well.
To stand out on social media, brands need to understand how to create opportunities for discovery and joy.
Think about how you feel when you find a fancy new cheese at the grocery store, or when you see the perfect outfit hanging in a storefront window. That endorphin rush makes us feel good about our purchase, which leads to a better customer experience.
This shift means brands need to focus on the discovery process, creating online shopping experiences that feel unexpected and exciting.
Make sure your e-commerce and marketing goals align
Many companies have their e-commerce and marketing departments working separately, with little collaboration or communication.
On the surface, this makes sense: marketers measure their success by engagement, and track key performance indicators (KPIs) like reach, link clicks, comments, and reshares.
E-commerce teams, on the other hand, care exclusively about the percentage of visitors who buy something.
By combining efforts, these two teams can learn from each other’s KPIs to understand buyer intent and behaviour.
Collaboration between these two teams can also reveal things like:
- Intent to buy. Did they click on the Shoppable post to buy, or to see the rest of the company’s products?
- Most popular content. There is often a difference between the content that’s hottest on social media, and the items that are viewed/purchased most on the e-commerce store.
- Where to funnel the hype. If an item is selling like crazy on the website, then the marketing team can use that information to promote it on social media and keep the hype going.
Tell stories that help customers discover products
Telling stories that feature your products helps your customers picture themselves using them in their day-to-day lives.
Take a set of new dishes, for example. There’s nothing all that glamorous about plates and bowls, right? But if your customer sees them as part of a beautiful tablescape, or being passed across the table at the holidays, it helps them picture themselves using it in similar situations.
Brands that publish interesting and fun content showing how to use their products have an even better chance at creating a lasting connection with their customers.
For example, the company selling plates and dishes could publish recipes or how-tos on the perfect tabletop presentation. This kind of content helps your customers feel empowered and excited - both emotions that are strongly associated with conversion.
Make community part of the discovery process
Creating real, lasting connections with your customers requires creating a community that they can be a part of.
If you run a retail e-commerce store, for example, encourage your customers to share their purchases online, but also on your website.
Having “real world” examples from other customers creates a sense of community, and confidence in your brand.
By encouraging users to share their photos and engage with one another, you can start to craft your e-commerce website as a place to meet other like-minded people, not just to complete a purchase and click away.
The changing shopping experience
Shifting to a “discovery” focused model of inspirational shopping and aligning your marketing and e-commerce teams allows you to combine content and community to create a seamless shopping experience for your customers.
Creating a seamless shopping experience that transitions from social media to the website is essential, but it’s just as important to foster a sense of community among your customers.
Want more insight on how to grow your e-commerce business? Subscribe to our newsletter for weekly, hand-picked resources.
Looking to work with a team who can help you connect with new customers and grow your business? Drop us a line.
- by Alyson Shane
In a recent workshop with The Kinship Studio, we covered the importance of personalized content and how it can increase leads and sales by making your social media content more engaging.
Today we’re going to expand on some of the tips we shared with the class - let's dive right in:
What is Personalized Marketing?
Personalized marketing is the process of using data and analysis to deliver personalized content that is tailored to specific members of your target audience.
In fact, you’ve probably encountered this form of marketing before: have you ever received a “cart abandon” email encouraging you to complete a purchase? That’s personalized content.
Another form of personalized marketing is dynamic website content.
This type of personalized content will change to reflect the person’s browsing or purchasing behavior, or will change languages and stock items (for example) based on where the person is located.
What Are the Benefits of Personalized Marketing?
Some of the potential benefits of using personalization in your social media marketing include:
- Generate more customers and leads
- Create a sense of trust and familiarity with your customers
- Increased customer engagement
- Encourage content sharing
- Improve social media relevance (and lower ad costs)
- Increase brand awareness
Now that we’ve covered the benefits of personalizing your content, it’s time to dig into where we find all that customer data from in the first place:
Source 1: Review Your Buyer Personas
Buyer personas are an essential part of your marketing strategy because they help you identify specific, unique characteristics of different customer types.
They can help you understand things like:
- Age, gender, and geographic location
- Where they spend their time online
- Which devices they use (mobile, tablet, etc)
- The topics that interest them
- The influencers they follow and engage with
We’ve talked a lot about the importance of having buyer personas in an earlier post. If you’ve never created one, check out our handy guide (with free template!) to start building yours.
Source 2: Twitter Analytics
Twitter Analytics is a treasure trove of information about the people that follow you!
Check out your followers and note the following areas:
- Their interests (broad topics like comedy, weather, and technology)
- The devices they use to sign in and their wireless carrier
- Their household income status and net worth
- Their marital status
By exploring the various tabs (Overview, Demographics, Lifestyle Behaviour, Consumer Behavior, and Mobile Footprint) you can develop a deeper understanding of how your Twitter users behave.
But you’re not done yet. Next up...
Source 3: Facebook Audience Insights
Another great place to get a better understanding of your audience is Facebook Audience Insights.
Find it by opening Ads Manager, then clicking All Tools > Audience Insights.
Facebook will ask you to choose between studying everyone on Facebook, or just people connected to your page. Unless you have a giant following, select ‘Everyone on Facebook.’
Use the information you learned when looking through your Twitter Insights to inform your research. For example, you can look up people with this kind of criteria:
- 30-55 years old
- Located in the U.S.
- All genders
- Interested in Business
- In CEO or President positions
Once you’ve set up your search, Facebook will show you in-depth information about your audience. Here, you can find things like:
- Which Facebook pages this audience likes
- Where they live
- Which devices they use
- Their job titles
- The industry they work in
- And lots more!
Source 4: Look at Your Email List
The key to building an email list that helps you understand your audience is to offer lots of ways for people to subscribe. Some ways to do this include:
- CTA buttons or embedded text encouraging readers to subscribe
- Images that pop-up or slide-in on your landing pages
- Posts about your email newsletter on your social media channels
- Varied gated content (PDFs and resources that can be accessed in exchange for an email)
Different options help you understand people’s motivations for subscribing in more detail.
Once someone has subscribed, you can track the links in the email you sent them, see if they opened your email, and more.
Use a Social Listening Tool
A social listening tool is a must-have for the type of ongoing audience research needed to excel at personalized content.
Social listening tools typically offer multiple filtering options and in-depth analytics, and allow you to stay on top of any brand mentions online.
Some of the best tools out there (depending on your budget) are:
Brand24: 14-day free trial, Pro $49/month, Premium $99/month, Max $399/month
Buzzsumo: Pro $79/mo, Plus $139/mo, Large $239/mo, Enterprise $499/mo
Sprout Social: Standard $99/user/mo, Professional $149/user/mo, Advanced $249/user/mo
Brandwatch: Custom pricing
Hootsuite Insights: Custom pricing
Start Researching Your Personalized Content Today
There’s no better time to start understanding your audience and speaking more directly to how your company solves their problems.
Delivering personalized content to your customers will help you see a higher return on investment (ROI) in your marketing efforts, and creates a more connective experience for your audience.
- by Alyson Shane
Have you ever used a Facebook Carousel Ad?
Carousel Ads have been around since 2014, but many businesses still avoid using them because they're not sure how to use them effectively.
In this article, we'll discuss what a Carousel Ad is, why they work, and how to create your own Facebook Carousel Ads that increase your return on investment (ROI).
What's a Facebook Carousel Ad?
Carousel Ads let you showcase 2-10 images or videos within one ad, which allows you to tell a story and connect with your audience in a more meaningful way.
Carousel Ads are incredibly effective, earning an average of 30-50% lower cost per conversion, 20-30% lower cost-per-click, and much higher engagement rates than the average single-image ad.
The best part? Carousel Ads don't cost extra. So start experimenting!
Why should you use Facebook Carousel Ads?
This ad format is great for a variety of purposes, including:
- Telling your business' story.
- Highlighting multiple products or services.
- Sharing more information about a specific topic.
- Promoting events.
- Explaining benefits or processes.
Facebook Carousel Best Practices
Stuck on how to tell a compelling story in your carousel cards? Use these tips as inspiration:
Focus on the creative
The image or video you use for your carousel will determine how effective it is, so choose images or video that have a similar look and feel to each other.
Creative that doesn't match, or doesn't tell a story, feels especially disjointed in the Carousel Ad format, so spend time developing swipe-worthy creative assets.
Use every part of the ad
Don't neglect elements like your headline, description, and call-to-action.
Make sure your ad copy matches your business' tone, and A/B test different elements so see which combination yields the best results.
Tell a story in your carousel
Carousels are great because they can tell a story.
You can choose to reveal parts of your story as the user swipes through each individual image, reveal something in the second image that was hidden in the first one, create panoramic images that span 4 - 5 images... the options are really limitless!
Creating "stories" is useful to keep users engaged and swiping, and can be a great way to reveal new products, ideas, or services.
The key here is creativity - experiment and don't be afraid to try new things.
Optimize the order of your carousel cards
Facebook offers the option to replace the first image that shows in your carousel with a higher-performing image, which can be a great way to improve your campaign performance.
Important: only try this if you aren't doing a story-style carousel. Otherwise it may mess up the order of your images.
Facebook Carousel Ad Specs
You can create Carousel Ads in two places:
- On your page. If you only have one URL you'd like to use.
- In Ads Manager. If you want each carousel card to link to a different URL.
Before you set up your ad, make sure you have the following assets in place to set up your campaign:
- Minimum # cards: 2
- Max # of cards: 10
- Image file type: jpg or png
- Max video file size: 4GB
- Max video length: 240 minutes
- Video file type: MP4 or MOV are best
- Recommended resolution: 1080 x 1080px at least
- Recommended ratio: 1:1Text: 125 characters
- Headline: 40 characters
- Link description: 20 characters
Important: images with more than 20% text may experience reduced delivery, so keep your images as text-free as you can.
Get started with Carousel Ads
Experimenting with this fun and versatile ad option is a great way to stretch your ad dollars and experiment with different, more engaging forms of brand storytelling in your ads.
Want more articles like this hand-picked and delivered to your inbox each week? Subscribe to our newsletter!