Hear that sound? It’s the sound of Instagram’s value as a marketing channel for businesses increasing. Official as of yesterday, leading brands and retailers will be able to utilize Instagram’s shiny new feature: in-app checkout. Yes, that’s right: your favourite brands will now be able to sell products directly within your feed, making spending money a breeze (which doesn’t bode well for your bank account, but I digress).
This feature provides a tremendous opportunity for online retailers to increase conversion rates via social media marketing initiatives and grow their return on investment on one of the leading social media platforms. The new in-app purchase and payment services are currently active with 20 brands, including Nike, Burberry, Addidas, and Zara as part of a closed beta.
~~Originally published at jbertho.com on June 21, 2018.~~
Relevance is critical in the new digital age, especially in the social media marketing environment. No matter how successful a tech giant’s business model may be, if innovation isn’t at the forefront (or at the very least, acquiring successful operations to absorb fancy features), popular platforms risked being tossed aside like yesterday’s news. For example, how many of you remember Meerkat, Peach, or Jelly?
Well, I do because I’m addicted to social media, but chances are that none of you even remember these three platforms.
Implementing new features is essential to the life-force of major social media platforms. Snapchat’s growth hit a wall when Instagram stole the Stories feature. Let’s be honest: that was a genius AND malevolently ruthless move, which has worked out very well for Instagram, which currently has one billion monthly active users. Twitter increased its character limit to get back into the spotlight last year, which has seen its stock increase steadily over the past year. All major social media platforms made Periscope and Meerkat irrelevant by adopting live streaming capabilities. Peach came and went, bewildering us all for a short period of time. However, one aspect of the social media world has relative remained unchanged: YouTube dominates when it comes to hosting video content.
Facebook live streams. Reddit AMAs. Instagram Stories. Tweetstorms. Teenagers devouring Tide Pods to satisfy their hunger.
The evolution of the social media environment has evolved quite a bit over the past couple of years. Before memes and Donald Trump dominated news feeds, social media marketing consisted of posting text updates to Facebook and Twitter without any real advertising strategy. Life was a lot simpler back then (and some will argue far duller)– if you created intriguing content, it had the opportunity to go viral and propel your brand to new heights.
Years later, the entire structure of the social media landscape has changed. Not only are there new platforms for savvy online marketing professionals to utilize to reach new audiences, but all of the essential social media players have developed sophisticated advertising capabilities that allow you to target niche audiences. Unfortunately, despite all of the tools widely available to all types of businesses, marketing on social media platforms isn’t an easy endeavor if you lack the business experience. Sure, publishing a meme making fun of the New Orleans Saints losing in spectacular fashion is easy, but how does posting on Facebook translate into sales? And does Twittering lead to generating leads for businesses?
The rise of mobile marketing in recent years has led to major platforms implementing new algorithm updates to favour mobile-friendly content ahead of web pages that are not optimized for smartphone device. While it’s well known that Google has taken strong measures to implement ranking adjustments for mobile-friendly web pages, another major platform has jumped on the train: Facebook.
In a recent blog post announcement, the leader of the social media marketing environment has stated that its algorithm will begin to penalize links to slow-loading web pages. Facebook will analyze the loading time of a web page from its mobile application and utilize those specific site speed scores to adjust the rankings of web pages within people’s news feeds. Although Facebook states that this will not affect most brands publishing content on Facebook, a small number of advertisers are likely to feel the impact of this new update. The incentive to promote quick-loading content does not come as a surprise, as Facebook’s ultimate goal is to increase the user experience within its platform, hence the list of enhancements made to its algorithm in recent years to penalize spammy content, “fake news”, and deceptive redirect links. However, there is an ulterior motive at play here from Facebook: increasing the adoption rate of Instant Articles, which is similar to Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages project, otherwise known as AMP.
Navigating the digital environment can be an arduous task for small businesses, especially for companies that have been reliant on traditional marketing tactics. While business classes teach us that there are five main promotional activities in the communications mix – advertising, direct response marketing, sales promotions, personal selling, and public relations – online marketing has quickly evolved into a digital promotional mix on its own.
While traditional marketing practices have certain nuances and skill requirements, online marketing has become a massive endeavor for businesses, where an increasing amount of skill sets are needed to manage campaigns on a large scale successfully. Technical and coding prowess, creative design, astute analytics skills, and copywriting are only a few of the main factors to be considered when deploying promotional activities on the internet. The evolution of social media platforms, periodic algorithm adjustments from search engines, and conception of online advertising exchanges have given digital marketers an arsenal unlike anything that has been seen before in advertising.
However, despite all of the tools readily available at everyone’s disposal, many businesses have been slow in adopting digital marketing practices to capture traffic online. Contrary to popular belief, just creating a website will not lead to hundreds of users hitting your site every day. Whether it’s through social media marketing, search engine optimization, or media buying, you need to develop trust with users and search engines alike to even get the tiniest slice of traffic available on the web.
Before venturing into digital marketing, there are some things a small business must consider before launching any campaigns, which may include:
What is my budget for online marketing? –> Depending on how much you’re willing to invest into digital marketing, the outcomes can either be substantial or minuscule. While we don’t want to hang onto the old saying “to make money, you have to spend money,” you will need to invest a good amount of resources, labor or otherwise, into propelling your brand into the spotlight.
What are my objectives?–> While establishing your goals may seem elementary, this is where a lot of small businesses make mistakes with digital marketing. Although fancy metrics such as likes, shares, and views illustrate one’s popularity, they do not always translate into leads and sales.
Who is my niche audience?–> Better understanding who you want to reach with online marketing will make it easier to develop a strategic plan of action. Media buying platforms, in particular, offer a wide array of targeting options that can help you pinpoint the people most likely to become a customer.
What is my competitive advantage?–> Once again, this may seem like a fundamental element in the planning process, but it can be quite easy to forget if you’re building a new business from scratch. It’s important to define the reason why people should consider your company over a myriad of competitors, especially if what you’re selling isn’t revolutionary or truly distinct from others. Make light of the benefits you provide over competitors and highlight it within your marketing initiatives.
Now that we’ve gone through the preamble, it’s important to know the different tactics and channels that can be employed to promote your brand in a positive light and capture relevant traffic. Here is a list of all the ways you can market your business online: (more…)
The moment social media marketing professionals have been waiting for is finally here (well, those of us that utilize Snapchat for reasons other than posting selfies). Advertising is now available to all businesses on Snapchat.
The new ad manager will present small-to-medium sized companies the opportunity to manage their campaigns without the need of having to through a sales representative or third-party company. Additionally, this gives all types of businesses the chance to test campaigns on smaller budgets rather than investing hundreds of thousands of dollars into brand awareness campaigns that may or may not generate a good return on investment. For those of you venturing through the advertising buying process on Snapchat for the first time, here is what you can expect with regards to the ad formats available.
When Instagram Stories launched last year, news sites lamented the fact that it was derivative of Snapchat’s Stories feature and brought nothing new to the table. However, in only nine short months, it seems like Instagram’s feature has caught lightning with users, surpassing Snapchat when it comes to daily active users. With 200 million active daily users compared to 160 million daily active users for Snapchat, it seems like Instagram’s clone has been a resounding success. While this is certainly not the death knell for Snapchat, it is quite disconcerting that Instagram’s blatantly copied feature is becoming far more popular and widely used than the original. Here are some reasons that may have contributed to Snapchat’s fall from grace in recent month.
If you’re not ‘Yelping’ yet, it might be time to jump on the bandwagon.
According to a brand new consumer survey prepared by Nielsen, it seems like Yelp is quickly becoming a powerful vehicle for local marketing campaigns. In case you have no idea what we’re talking about, Yelp is a popular website that features user reviews for local businesses and restaurants. Of the 2,000 U.S. adults surveyed, 92% indicated that they made a purchase after visiting the site.
Other compelling statistics extracted from the report include:
74% of consumers actively seeking information about a local business will peruse online review websites on a monthly basis.
Yelp was the consensus favourite among survey respondents when it comes to local review websites.
79% of Yelp users are actively looking for local establishments that they can visit more than once.
55% of users will order food for pickup or delivery from local restaurants on Yelp after using the platform to find recommendations.
While these statistics are rather glowing in Yelp’s favour, one must exercise caution and take this report with a grain of salt, because the study was commissioned by Yelp. However, there’s no denying these review-type websites are essential ingredients in any digital marketing initiative for local businesses. Marketing professionals are quick to exhaust advertising budgets on Google AdWords and Facebook Ads, but when it comes to identifying niche platforms that can yield optimal results, Yelp is often ignored or severely underutilized.
How Can You Use Yelp for Local Marketing?
If you’re a business owner and haven’t started using Yelp yet, here are some handy tips on how to effectively utilize the website to achieve your marketing objectives.
1. Claim Your Listing
As with any local marketing initiative, you must be proactive and claim your business listing or create a new profile from scratch. If you do not maintain control over your listing, issues can arise in the long-run, especially if inaccurate information is displayed on the public profile. Make an effort to clean up your business’ information on Yelp and optimize it for your niche audience. If you’re in the restaurant industry, chances are you’re heavily dependent upon public reviews and how your company is represented on this specific platform.
2. Optimize Your Business Information
This may seem pretty obvious, but companies tend to make the simple mistake of inputting inconsistent information on local listings around the web. When it comes to local SEO, search engines are actively scanning your profiles to ensure the name, address, and phone number are consistent across all platforms. Also, make sure to update your listing whenever updates arise. For example, if you alter your hours of operation, be sure to reflect that on your Yelp listing. Otherwise, you may receive harsh criticisms and acerbic feedback from dissatisfied users, making your business look bad in the public eye.
3. Engage with Users and Reply to Customer Reviews
As with all other platforms in the digital marketing environment, popularity plays a significant role with regards to how search results are determined. Listings that garner the most positive feedback and reviews will tend to rank well for relevant searches. However, businesses that have earned a negative reputation are likely to be buried within search results, resulting in little-to-no visibility for pertinent searches. Managing reviews on Yelp can be a burdensome activity on its own, and if you’re new to the platform, it may be difficult to determine where you need to begin. Listing managers have the ability to respond to a review either publicly or privately, which must be determined on a review-by-review basis. Adding a public comment to positive reviews indicates that your business values user feedback. Negative reviews, on the other hand, require far more delicate treatment and can snowball into a disaster if not attended to properly. If users are caustic and flagrantly bash your business, use the private messaging feature to deal with individual complaints. However, if misleading or inaccurate comments are posted, feel free to respond publicly to clear up any misunderstandings.
4. Upload Photos to Your Profile
If an image can say 1,000 words, then 20 photos must represent 20,000 words about your business. There’s no better storytelling than that, right?
When users are seeking out information on Yelp, they want to get an idea of what to expect should they visit your businesses. In the restaurant industry, photos and videos can help convert users because you are giving them a visual representation of appetizing meals. Visual assets can also assist businesses in the hospitality industry to paint an image of the idyllic vacation for intrigued users. Regardless of your target audience, take advantage of the photo upload feature for businesses to establish legitimacy with users and earn their trust. While past studies revealed that users will spend more time on average browsing listings containing photos, conventional wisdom should indicate that more multimedia assets available within your listing equals more opportunities to keep users engaged.
5. Promote Special Offers & Deals
How does Yelp monetize its platform? This is one of two methods in which the local marketing platform makes money. The Deals and Gift Certificates program allows businesses to promote special offers to users on Yelp. For a local restaurant, this could be a special voucher for a meal or a gift certificate to be used at a later date. While there are no upfront costs, Yelp will collect 30% of money spent on deals and 10% on gift certificates, making it an expensive, but potentially worthwhile, marketing endeavor.
6. Advertise on Yelp
Last but not least, Yelp’s advertising platform is the second way the business monetizes its traffic. The targeted local advertising solutions available within the platform can help propel your listing to the top of search results and ensure your brand name is shown on top competitor listings, giving you an opportunity to divert traffic away from other businesses. While feedback is certainly mixed with regards to the effectiveness of Yelp advertising, it can prove to be a worthwhile investment if you’re already generating excellent results organically. Rather than diving head first and allocating thousands of dollars into Yelp advertising, test the waters by spending a couple of hundred dollars to see if you can gain traction with this type of media buying campaign. If the results prove to be unsuccessful, focus your efforts on building your profile organically and cultivating reviews.
Now that you have a better understanding of the effectiveness of Yelp marketing, it’s time to put the pedal to the metal and optimize your presence on this local marketing platform.
Google has clandestinely stopped serving its TrueView discover ads within mobile search results or “related video” results on video watch pages within the YouTube network temporarily. Unfortunately for Google, these ads have been paused until better measures are implemented to prevent videos from being shown next to offensive and extremist content, which is an issue that has been plaguing its video advertising platform for months. As discussed in a previous blog post, the search engine giant is investing time and resources into deploying filters and feedback tools to identify objectionable content within organic search results, which is also known as Project Owl. However, the issue has become quite troublesome within the advertising spectrum, as major brands have scaled back spend, and in some cases, halted campaigns indefinitely with Google until the aforementioned issues are resolved and safeguards are implement to ensure brand protection. (more…)
Self-serve advertising tools are coming to Snapchat. Hallelujah!
When Snapchat’s parent company, Snap Inc., filed its initial public offering earlier this year, it was expected that the company would begin adding more business features to its Snapchat platform to entice small and medium sized businesses into spending money with the growing social media platform. Until now, companies that wanted to promote their products and services on Snapchat had to be willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on Snapchat’s premium ad products or purchase media through one of their preferred advertising partners, causing angst among those of us that wanted to test campaigns on small budgets before ramping up digital spend. However, in a recent announcement, it appears that Snapchat will finally give us media buying wizards our wish by releasing a whole set of fancy new tools geared at onboarding more businesses into the advertising platform….and in the end, making more money to appease Snap Inc. investors.