How To Advertise On Pinterest Effectively

How to Advertise on Pinterest Effectively

Pinterest was launched in 2010 and has grown to at least 200 monthly active users in 2017. The social sharing platform is designed to help people discover information on the internet. Therefore, just creating an account on Pinterest can draw viewers to your brand.

Pinning content from your own website puts it in front of a new audience. Even pinning other people’s content can draw followers to your Pinterest account. You can get more data from your account. Optimizing the SEO of your Pinterest boards can boost their organic search rankings in Google. All of these strategies are free.

The platform began experimenting with monetizing certain pins in 2014, initiating an effective way for companies to advertise. Nowadays, advertisers can create Promoted Pins, which show up alongside all of the other pins on the page. In this image, you can see that the pin that says “Get 500% more traffic” indicates that it’s promoted by Pinterest in the description below it:

In this case, Pinterest is using its platform to advertise tips for businesses. It’s always encouraging to see a company using its own advertising services. That’s one way to know that the system works.

What Is Pinterest?

First, let’s discuss Pinterest and how it works. Some people say that Pinterest is a social network. Others refer to it as a search engine. Through Pinterest, you create a profile and then “pin” visual content onto different “boards.”

It’s like a collection of virtual bulletin boards. Instead of cutting out paper images from magazines, though, you save images that you find on the internet. You can write a description or include a link with those images so that you can refer back to the website from which they came.

You can create several boards and label them however you’d like. Most people set up boards for different categories. For example, you might have boards that are labeled:

  • Home décor
  • Fun summer activities
  • Dessert recipes
  • Knitting and crochet
  • Boho style

If you’re looking for inspiration for a project, a shopping venture or content that falls in line with your interests, you can search for it on Pinterest. Your search results appear as visual pins with short descriptions underneath them. This is what came up when we searched for “watercolor tutorials”:

To find out more about each search result, you can click on it. From here, you can see the full description, the URL from which the image came, when it was published and any comments that other users have left.

Here’s where things get social. You can leave a comment or ask a question. You can also follow the original poster’s account. Therefore, simply pinning items that interest you can drive traffic back to your Pinterest page and potentially to your website.

Emarketer says that there are 2 billion monthly searches on Pinterest. The platform drives about 5 percent of referral traffic to websites.

When you log onto Pinterest, you’ll see your feed, which shows the pins that the platform thinks that you’ll be interested in. You might see pins from people you follow or a combination of content that you might care about, based on other items that you’ve pinned.

However, Pinterest prefers to show content from trusted sources in users’ feeds. Therefore, if you’re using Pinterest for your business without advertising, you need to make sure that you pin high-quality content and that your pins are receiving engagement in the form of click-throughs, saves and comments.

Why Pinterest Advertising Works

While Facebook is the largest social media platform, Pinterest is competitive with Instagram, LinkedIn, Reddit, and Twitter, according to Pew Research. Twenty-six percent of all American adults use Pinterest, and most of them are women. Pinterest reports that 40 percent of people who actively pin have a household income of at least $100K. If you sell products targeted toward women who want to shop, you’re in the right place.

Here are some other statistics about Pinterest users and their purchasing power:

  • Millenials use Pinterest as much as Instagram.
  • People who use Pinterest are ready to make a purchase.
  • 93% of active pinners use the platform to plan future purchases.
  • 73% of pinners say that brand content makes the platform more useful.
  • 61% of pinners have bought something after viewing a promoted pin.
  • 75% of saved pins are initiated by businesses.
  • People who use Pinterest spend 29% more on retail than non-users.

People search the platform for information that they can use to fuel upcoming purchases for things like home renovations, weddings, parties, vacations or having a baby. This is the place where people are looking for new information, ideas and brands. If you can provide these new ideas, you can make connections with a new audience.

Pinterest advertising looks natural. It fits into place with the other pins in your feed, and it doesn’t detract from or interrupt the user experience. Promoting your pins puts you in front of a receptive audience who is looking for products and ideas that will help them make their next move.

Types Of Pinterest Advertising

There are several types of Pinterest ads, including:

  • Promoted pins
  • Promoted video pins
  • One-tap pins
  • Promoted app pins
  • Cinematic pins

Promoted pins look just like a regular pin, except that they have the word “Promoted” at the bottom of the pin. Businesses pay Pinterest to give these priority over non-promoted pins. Once someone saves your promoted pin, it’s considered an organic find, and that person will no longer see the word “Promoted.” Other people who follow these pinners may find and save these pins, bringing you added traffic for free.

If your promoted pin contains a video, it will appear in search results, news feeds and a “More Like This” section that comes up below a clicked pin and shows similar content. The video will play automatically.

One-tap pins bypass the close-up image and “more details” page that normally shows up when you click on a pin in your feed. When a user clicks on these ads, they go straight to a landing page that you designate. You might think that this is a great way to get your audience in your lap, but some users are surprised by the change in the normal process and click off of your website quickly to get back to Pinterest.

If you are promoting an app, you can use a promoted app ad to get people to install it. The ad will include an app icon and install button so that users don’t have to leave Pinterest to sign up for your app.

Cinematic pins contain animation that moves when a user scrolls. This captures users’ attention and makes them feel like they’re in control without missing the end of the video.

5 Things To Do Before Advertising On Pinterest

Paying to promote pins can be an effective marketing strategy. However, there are a few steps that you should take before you set up your first advertisement on Pinterest.

1. Register For A Business Account

If you haven’t used Pinterest before, you’ll need to create a new account. It’s free to set up, and it takes less than a minute. Start by going to Pinterest’s Business Account page and clicking “Sign Up.”

Enter your email address, password and business name, select your business category from the drop-down menu and click “Create account.”

Follow the next steps, which are self-explanatory. These include selecting your language and country, adding your website URL and picking at least five categories in which you’re interested.

If you already have a Pinterest account, log in and click on Settings. It will say “Business Account Basics” on the top left if it’s a business account. If it’s a personal account, you can convert it to a business account by going to this link.

2. Claim Your Website

When you set up your business account, you should have added your business website URL to your profile. If you didn’t do that yet, go to your settings by clicking on the profile image on the top right when you’re logged into your account. Scroll down until you see the “Claim Website” section.

After you claim your website, you can utilize features such as:

  • Website analytics – Track traffic to pins from your site.
  • Featured logo – Add your profile picture to any content that’s pinned from your site.
  • Early access to tools – Be the first to hear about new business tools that Pinterest rolls out.

To claim your website, you’ll need to either add a bit of code to the <head> section of your website’s index.html file or download a file from Pinterest and upload it to your site’s root directory. After you do that, you can submit your website to Pinterest for review.

3. Install A Conversion Tag

You can add another Pinterest code to every page that you want to track on your website. The code is the same for every page, but you can use it to retarget people who have visited specific pages on your website.

To do this, click on “Ads” on the top left of your account, and then select “Conversion Tracking.”

Choose “Generate Pinterest Tag.” You’ll get code that you can insert between the <head> and </head> elements in the HTML of every page on your website for which you want to track visitors.

4. Upload Your List

If you have amassed a list for your newsletter, you can upload it to Pinterest so that you can target the same users with your Pinterest ads**. Just create a .csv file with the email addresses that you’ve collected over the years. Log into your Pinterest account.

**If you go this route – you need to have your audience’s consent. If you are in the EU, because it’s the law. If you are outside the EU, because you need to be cool, not creepy.

Click on Ads > Audiences.

Then, click on “Create Audience.” Choose “A list of customers that you upload” from the window that appears. Name your audience, and include the date so that you can update it a few months from now.

Pinterest will match up the email addresses from your list with those of its users so that you can show ads to the same people. In the future, you can also create “an actalike audience that behaves similarly to the one you already have.” This will choose people with similar demographics and interests as the people on your email list.

5. Pin Some Content

You can’t promote a pin unless you’ve pinned it publicly. Therefore, if you have created a new Pinterest account in hopes of setting up some ads, you should take some time to create boards and pin content for free before you put money into it.

Make sure that all of your pins contain high-quality images. The visuals are going to grab people’s attention before anything else. Therefore, they need to be top-notch.

Vertical Pins

Pinterest displays images vertically. Therefore, you need to use the correct aspect ratio to get the most out of your pins’ appearance. For years, Pinterest has claimed that a 2:3 aspect ratio is ideal. However, some pinners said that posts with these dimensions didn’t perform well. Some people even created extra-long posts to capture people’s attention.

As of June 2018, however, Pinterest said that those “giraffe pins” may be cropped and won’t show up as frequently in people’s feeds. The ideal aspect ratio is 600 pixels wide by 900 pixels high (720 x 1080 works well too). Square images look good, and they are easy to import from Instagram.

An aspect ratio of 600 x 1260 (with 1260 being the height in pixels) won’t be cropped. Anything taller will.

If you’re creating long giraffe pins, make sure that they add value. Infographics and step-by-step tutorials are ideal for these space-hogging pins.

Rich Pins

Creating Rich Pins can help people learn more about your products. Rich pins contain additional information, including:

  • App – Takes viewers to the app store for download
  • Article – Includes a headline, author and story description
  • Product – Includes pricing, availability and purchase location
  • Recipe – Includes title, ingredients, cooking times, serving information and ratings

By adding the metadata directly to the pin, brands can increase engagement. Picture a recipe that contains a gorgeous picture of the food that you’re eating with the recipe itself below it. The pins pull from the metadata on your website.

Creating Rich Pins is a two-step process. First, you must add metadata to the articles, products and recipes on your site. If you have a WordPress site, you can do this easily with a plugin like Yoast. Then, you need to verify your Rich Pins with Pinterest. Once you validate one URL with a Rich Pin on your site, you’re all set. You don’t need to validate all of the URLs with Rich Pins.

Buyable Pins

Pinterest rolled out Buyable Pins in 2015 to make it easier for its audience to shop directly from a pin. These pins list the price in blue and contain a Buy It button so that people can make a purchase right from the app. When someone clicks Buy It, they go directly to the checkout, where they can pay with a credit card or Apple Pay.

If you’re a retailer or sell your own products, you’ll need to have a Shopify store that’s linked with the Pinterest sales channel to take advantage of Buyable Pins. As long as you point a pin’s URL to the product detail page on your Shopify store, it will activate as shoppable.

Pinterest automatically matches your product feed with your pins and generates Buyable Pins for any products that you have already pinned. For any other product, you should create pins from scratch. These can include additional images so that more people can discover your products.

Buyable Pins are similar to Rich Pins in that they display additional information. Rich Pins, however, don’t send you to the checkout when you click on them.

How To Set Up A Pinterest Ad

If you’ve decided to spend money on advertising, you might wonder how to advertise on Pinterest. This is a step-by-step tutorial that teaches you how to do it.

1. Create The Ad

When you’re ready to start advertising, click on the + sign that appears toward the top right, and then select “Create Ad.”

This brings you to your Ads Manager, where you can create your campaign.

2. Set Your Goals

You’ll begin by selecting your campaign objective.

Then, you’ll enter your campaign details. You’ll have to come up with a name for your campaign if it’s new, or you can select an existing campaign from the drop-down menu. You’ll also designate your daily and lifetime budget for the campaign here.

Then, decide on your campaign placement, which includes whether you want to make your ads one-tap. This feature can’t be edited once your campaign starts running.

If you’re creating an app install ad, you will have the option to select whether to optimize the campaign for completed installs or visits to the app download page. Both are charged on a cost-per-click basis. Pinterest also has direct integrations with mobile measurement partners, or MMPs, which help you track the install performance.

Finally, click “Create campaign and continue.”

3. Set Up An Ad Group

An ad group is a set of promoted pins that fall under the same campaign. You can have multiple ad groups for one campaign, which means that you will have a separate budget for your ad groups than you do for the campaign as a whole.

Understanding Ad Groups

Each ad group can have multiple promoted pins within it. You can assign different budgets and targets to each ad group, though. Therefore, you can use ad groups to set up unique budgets for different marketing areas, such as regions, demographics or products. You can also use ad groups to test the design, placement and objectives of your advertisements without building separate campaigns.

For example, you could create separate ad groups with maximum daily budgets to target:

  • Your email list
  • People who have visited related pages on your website
  • Actalike audiences

To keep everything straight, you should name your ad group based on its organizational structure, such as who you’re targeting or what promoted pins are showing up within that group.

4. Create A Target Audience

On the ad group page, you’ll be asked to create a target audience. This helps you get your ads in front of the right people. You can target viewers based on the following criteria:

You’ll need to give this audience a name and description. If you choose to retarget people who have visited your website, you’ll have to create a Pinterest tag to track them. If you choose to target individuals from an email list, you’ll be asked to upload the list.

You’ll be able to further clarify your audience by interests, such as boards and pins that they’ve interacted with in the past, keywords, languages, locations, devices and genders.

5. Create Your Maximum CPC Bid

On the page where you create your ad group, you’ll be asked to set a maximum CPC bid. This is the maximum amount that you want to pay per audience action, whether that’s impressions, clicks, engagement or app download. You won’t be charged the full bid unless it’s necessary to beat out the next-highest bidder.

6. Select Your Promoted Pin

Now, you can select the pin that you want to promote. You can only choose from items that you’ve publicly pinned. The pin doesn’t have to be one that you have initiated through your own website, although it would probably be a good idea to use an image that you’ve created.

Next, you’ll give the promoted pin a name (optional) and set the URL of the landing page that you want visitors to end up on when they click on it.

Consider the URL carefully. Ideally, you’ll send people who click on your ad to a page dedicated to your Pinterest audience. The landing page should have something to do with the pin that led people to it. If you’ve added Pinterest tag code to your website, you’ll be able to track the success of each promoted pin.

Click “Promote Pin” when you’re finished. The ad will go to Pinterest for review, which can take 24 hours. At this time, add your billing details so that you can pay for your ad once it’s approved.

The Quick Way To Promote A Pin

Pinterest also provides a way to promote your pins in about 10 seconds. Go to your profile and hover over a pin that you want to advertise. Click on the Promote button.

A window will open up where you can add all of the promotional details, including the URL, daily budget, campaign duration, target audience and keywords.

Tips And Tricks For Optimizing Your Pinterest Advertising

Just putting yourself out there isn’t always enough to gain an audience. Instead of wasting your dollars by advertising blindly, follow this advice to get the most out of your budget.

Promote The Best Pins

You might wonder what pins to promote when you advertise on Pinterest. Those with strong visuals do best. Making multiple pins for the same product is a good idea. You can show different angles, styles and descriptions to pull in different customers. Adding your brand name or logo to the image improves credibility.

If you sell products, Pinterest says that photographing them in lifestyle shots is more effective than displaying the product on its own. For example, a fashion pin should show someone wearing the clothing in a real-world setting. Home décor pins do better when they concentrate on the product instead of people. Hair and beauty products get great engagement when the items are displayed against a plain, contrasting background.

Most experts recommend promoting pins that are already doing well. Even though you might figure that boosting a low-performing pin could help it get in front of your audience, promoting a high-performing pin is more likely to give you results. Wouldn’t you want to pay for results as opposed to a lackluster reception to your ad?

When you’re picking a pin in step 3 of the ad creation process, you have the option of choosing from all pins, 30-day most clicked pins or 30-day most saved pins. Use this to your advantage to promote your most engaging content.

Add Text To Your Pins

Even though Pinterest relies on photos, it doesn’t hurt to add a little text to your images. The text overlay should clarify what viewers are looking at without detracting from the design as a whole. The words shouldn’t detract from the aesthetic. A simple overlay works wonderfully.

Make sure that you’re using the description wisely too. A call-to-action helps users stay engaged. You can ask people a question or give an instruction, such as “Learn more” or “Buy now.” You might even try having your call-to-action say, “Pin this for later” to remove the urgent sales quality but encourage people to save your pin.

Consistently Monitor And Analyze Your Ads

It’s hard to predict what’s going to resonate with viewers. Pinterest is a visual platform, and some images may capture more attention than others. When you’re just starting out, test everything, including the:

  • Image
  • Description
  • Call-to-action
  • Keywords
  • Bids
  • Audiences

After doing this consistently for a while, you’ll begin to notice which combinations are more effective.

Focus Your Keywords

Although you’re allowed to include up to 150 keywords with a promoted pin, you don’t have to use all of them. If you’re all over the place, you won’t get many click-throughs. Think about the way that your audience interacts with Pinterest.

The keywords should match the way that your target audience uses the platform (similar to how you “theme” keywords for SEO). Make sure that the keywords are also consistent with the information in the pin and the landing page to which they’re directed.

Because Pinterest is a search engine, keywords are crucial to your pins’ visibility. Create your descriptions the way that you would create meta tags for a web page’s title and description. Using trending keywords earlier in the text will help your pins get noticed.

When you place pinnable images on your website, make sure that you include keywords in the alt text. Your boards should contain long-tail keywords. Use Pinterest Analytics to track which pins get the most impressions and experiment with the keywords that you use.

Add Value

The best practices for advertising on some other platforms involve using a call-to-action to send people to a lead page. However, people who search using Pinterest are looking for information. They might get annoyed if they come across your promoted pin, click on it to investigate it further and reach a page that simply asks them for their email address.

An effective way to use Pinterest for advertising is to send people to a landing page where they can explore what you offer. You can certainly include a lead generation form on this page, but don’t make it the only asset at that URL.

Group Boards

Group boards are sometimes referred to as shared, community, collaborative or contributor boards. Using them can lead to significant increases in traffic.

More than one person can add pins to a group board. Therefore, when anyone adds pins to the board, those pins may appear in the home feed of anyone who follows any of the board members. This exponentially increases your reach.

If you focus on sharing your own content to group boards, you’ll gain exposure for your brand. Keep the content relevant, however.

Because Pinterest rewards high-quality pins with exposure, make sure that you join the right group boards. Those that are targeted to a specific theme usually have more traction with an audience and get more engagement. Click on several of the pins on a group board that you’re thinking of joining to make sure that the links aren’t broken or redirect to a spammy or inappropriate site.

Pinterest is an opportune way to expose your brand to a new audience. The platform isn’t just used by crafty people, DIY-ers and foodies. Travel, fashion, design, hobbies, health and beauty, entertainment, accessories and sporting goods are commonly searched categories on Pinterest. Creating a business account for your brand is free, and you can play around with promoting your pins at a low cost to determine whether it works well for your business.

Next Steps

Pinterest holds a lot of opportunity for businesses of all sizes. It’s also straightforward and fairly risk-less to experiment there.

You’ll learn more from running a single experiment than any blog post – so go for it!

If you want to know other ways to use Pinterest for marketing, check out Nate’s post on Pinterest & SEO research in addition to Using Pinterest Analytics.

The post How To Advertise On Pinterest Effectively appeared first on ShivarWeb.

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Harvesting Demand vs. Creating Demand

Creating Demand vs Harvesting Demand

When it comes to most digital channels (think your typical online marketing activities), the focus is often on getting in front of customers who know they need your products/services.

Here’s the catch: eventually, you run into limitations. Why? Because you’re working with existing demand, and existing demand is always limited.

Which means at some point, you’re going to have to create demand for your offering.

But how do you do that? And do you have to choose one versus the other?

Before we dive in too deep, let’s break down the difference between harvesting demand vs. creating demand.

Harvesting Demand vs. Creating Demand

Think of harvesting demand like matchmaking — you’re finding people who are already interested in your product, service, or brand and matching them to whatever you’re offering.

Like I mentioned above, most digital channels focus exclusively on harvesting existing demand. Think about it — both SEO and PPC rely on search volume, which means someone needs to be actively searching for specific terms related to your offering.

There are so many ways to harvest search volume more effectively that the companies that do it well find it to be so cost effective (and generally effective) that they never need to do anything else.

But the truth of the matter is you will always be limited by existing demand — which is where creating demand comes in.

Creating demand is creating new customers who didn’t even know they wanted your product or service. There are infinite possibilities when creating demand… it just happens to be much harder than leveraging existing interest.

At the end of the day, you want to pair them. The key is to know which marketing activities do what and how these two techniques support each other. Let’s break it down a bit further.

How to Harvest Demand

If you’re marketing your business online, chances are you’re already focusing on harvesting demand. That’s because harvesting demand is traditional “inbound” marketing.

Harvesting demand involves two steps – finding where the demand is, and showing up there.

I’ve written dozens of posts about this topic. Here are a few –

  • How To Create an Inbound Marketing Plan for a Local Business.
  • How To Create an Inbound Marketing Plan for Ecommerce.
  • Beginner’s Guide to Keyword Research.
  • How to Find Pre-Qualified Content Ideas.
  • How To Find Trending Social Media Topics.
  • How To Advertise Online Effectively.
  • Here’s an entire podcast on the topic.
  • Most of my newsletter reading recommendations revolve around this theme.

How to Create Demand

Creating demand is a completely different beast. Again, the opportunities are endless. The key is to make people want and need something they didn’t even know they wanted and/or needed.Which, of course, is more difficult than leveraging what people already know they want.

Creating demand can be done in a plethora of ways, but whichever methods you choose, you need two main elements:

A Strong Pitch + Hook

Creating a strong pitch and hook is really a balancing act. If people don’t think there’s a problem, they won’t invest in your solution. But if they don’t think the problem you’re presenting is areal problem, then they also won’t invest in your solution.

And if you can’t make them see theyneed it (which is an emotional response), then they’re definitely not buying.

Take these pet hair removal gloves byPet Ninja. I’m seeing these ads everywhere. Now, as a dog owner, I can appreciate a great grooming tool. But I would never go out of my way to find gloves that would groom my dog as I pet him.

dog hair brush gloves

www.petninja.com

What makes their demand generation strategy so effective is their pitch. Pet Ninja doesn’t craft some imaginary problem (e.g. they don’t try to take a stand against dog brushes). They merely focus on how annoying shedding is, and how their product makes it easy to get rid of it.

They also rope me in with an emotional hook. Look how happy my dog would be without all that extra fur! And he’ll feel like I’m petting him — it’s a win-win!

Another memorable example is the Squatty Potty that went viral in 2017.

Would you ever imagine needing a product to help your toilet posture for better bowel movements? No?

Exactly the point. And yet Squatty Potty created demand out of thin air with a totally new product category that had people going nuts.

The takeaway? A strong pitch outlines a clear problem, but doesn’t over do it. A strong hook adds in emotion. Combine the two, and you won’t just have a new customer… you’ll have a brand advocate.

Urgency / Scarcity

People want what they can’t have. There’s a reason the urgency/scarcity sales tactic has been around forever and is still used: it works!

Something amazing happens you’ve made people realize they need what you’ve haveandyou’ve made them feel emotionally invested, but you tell them they can’t have it yet… people go crazy.

Think about the iPhone — this is essentially the example for creating demand. Before the iPhone, no one gave a thought to needing a smartphone. Now, it’s more necessary than ever.

When Steve Jobs’ first announced this brand new device (that no one knew they wanted or needed), it was a full 6 months before it even launched. Today, Apple is the world’s 2nd largest company because they’ve been able to create their own demand AND add urgency AND create artificial scarcity through constant upgrades. And the best part? They do it over and over and over with each of their products: iPod, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, EarPods.

You can create urgency or scarcity in numerous ways — delaying a launch, creating a reservation system, limiting the number of orders. The goal is to make people take action… but only after you’ve made it so they can’t live without whatever you’ve got.

Putting It All Together (Takeaways and Next Steps)

Harvesting vs. creating demand shouldn’t be a this or that situation. It should be all about theand. These two techniques should work together in your marketing strategy.

For example, say you’re selling wood earrings. Your guest post on a beauty blog that doesn’t feature earrings may be designed to generate demand around your product, but this same guest post may also help you rank for the same term for those who are already searching for it.

Inventing branded terms work well here, too. Let’s stick with the jewelry example. Let’s say you invent the term “Angular Jewelry” to describe a class of jewelry, and you generate a ton of demand for it. If that term takes off, you can then harvest demand from it way more easily than you could a generic term.

So what do you do now? For immediate next steps, take a look at your own marketing activities. Where are you harvesting existing demand, and where can you start generating demand.  Bucket your activities and look for opportunities to create a symbiotic relationship.

The post Harvesting Demand vs. Creating Demand appeared first on ShivarWeb.

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Simple Email Marketing Best Practices Every Merchant Should Know In 2018

At the outset, email marketing can seem like an overwhelming prospect. There are so many things to do — building your subscriber base, designing attractive messages, tracking click-through rates, following anti-spam laws, and more than anything else, writing actual emails for your readers. The good news is that these jobs don’t have to be your responsibility alone. Nearly all email marketing software options available today come with some form of automation, allowing users to create pre-made email campaigns and messages and automatically send them when certain conditions are met.

If your time is being consumed with email work, you aren’t getting the most from your software. There are several email marketing best practices you can employ to make your life easier.

Let’s dive in and explore some ways you can make your email marketing app do the work for you!

Level 1 Automation: Welcome Messages

If you are thinking of email marketing purely as a newsletter service that will send out updates to subscribers, I want to encourage you to expand your thinking a bit. Yes, you can use your email service provider (ESP) to write and send newsletters, but most email marketing software can be and do so much more! To move out of the newsletter comfort zone, let’s take a look at one of the most basic forms of automation that comes standard in nearly every app out there: welcome messages.

The idea here is simple. As soon as an interested person creates an account or joins your mailing list, they get an automatic message from you welcoming them to the group. It’s a great chance to introduce yourself, tell them more about your work, and win them over with general charm. Is this email marketing tactic a bit basic? Sure. But it is also a great opportunity to win the loyalty of customers from the outset. (You can also get pretty creative with your welcome messages if you want to spice things up.)

Automated welcome messages come standard with such industry leaders as MailChimp (read our review) and Emma (read our review), but you can also find it in simpler ESP’s like Mad Mimi (read our review). Basically, in a world dominated by AI and machine learning, it would be a surprise if an email marketing developer did not include this capability in their app. But where do we go from here? Further up and further in!

Level 2 Automation: Abandoned Cart Notifications

The next level of automation in email marketing is conceptually quite similar to the welcome message but involves a bit more set up. This email marketing strategy is only useful if you have an online store. If you do run an online store, you are almost certainly familiar with the frustration of abandoned shopping carts. Most of the time, those customers never return to buy their goods and pay you some hard-earned cash. But this is an area where your ESP can help you out. Automated abandoned cart reminder messages!

The gist of this feature is that your ESP keeps track of all the customer activity in your eCommerce store. When someone on your email list adds an item to their cart and then leaves, it will send a message out reminding them about your product. Some email marketing software providers allow you to set up a whole yes/no chain of possible emails, tracking click-through rates and offering discounts, special offers, and more as an enticement to return. But all operate on the basic principle of keeping a digital eye on your customer and sending tactical pre-determined prompts to (hopefully) bring them back into the fold. As a committed internet shopper myself, I can attest to the effectiveness of this strategy!

Though many ESPs offer this level of automation, I have been most impressed by Emma, which I mentioned earlier, and GetResponse (read our review). Both offer advanced chain-of-event automations designed to bring customers back to your store over the course of several interactions, all of which are handled automatically.

This is pretty advanced stuff, but it’s time to take this thing to the top.

Level 3 Automation: Dynamic Content Creation

The highest level of automation available in email marketing is what several ESPs term “dynamic content.” The idea behind this is that you sit down and create a wide spectrum of content, attach a definition to each type, then allow your ESP to sort out the best way to deliver the content (in the form of emails) to individual subscribers. Obviously, you will need to spend some significant time creating compelling content (and strategic subject lines) for advanced email campaigns in the first place, but the upshot is that your customers and subscribers will get customized, personalized messages tailored just for them. Your open rates will be so much better if the folks on your email list are receiving high-quality, custom content.

The ability to create dynamic content is considerably less common in email marketing software than either of the prior two forms of automation. Notable exceptions include the ever-present Emma, as well as Active Campaign (read our review). Keep in mind, though, that dynamic content is often locked behind a paywall: you need to subscribe to top-tier payment plans in order to get access to it.

Final Thoughts:

When using email marketing software, the goal is to save time, not waste it. Fortunately, most ESPs offer some level of automation. Knowing what your software can do is key to saving as much time as possible. Whether you are starting with simple welcome message emails or working all the way up to dynamic content, a little effort spent on email marketing best practices at the outset will pay off in the end, saving you time while your email software does the work for you.

Want even more advanced email marketing tips? This article explores 40 ways you can write better emails. ESP blogs can also be excellent resources for detailed email marketing tactics. MailChimp has written a comprehensive email marketing field guide, and Constant Contact has written a complete guide to becoming a better email marketer.

Looking for a good ESP for your business? Our independent email marketing software reviews explore the pricing, customer service, features, and integrations of all the top ESPs. For a quick overview of the industry, check out Merchant Maverick’s email marketing software comparison table.

The post Simple Email Marketing Best Practices Every Merchant Should Know In 2018 appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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The Best Free Email Marketing Software Programs

There is a myth making the rounds on the wide world of the internet that email marketing has outlived its usefulness, but that is simply untrue. The data is in, and email marketing campaigns can have a wide variety of positive effects on your business:

Having said that, some of the software providers in the email marketing world charge a crippling price for smaller businesses. Before you hang your heads in defeat, though, take heart. There are a number of free email marketing software apps that might suit your needs without ever costing you a cent. With a free email marketing tool, you’re not going to have access to unlimited emails and templates, and you’ll be restricted to a certain number of email addresses. Marketing automation tools may also be limited or non-existent with a free plan. But if you need to send out a simple email newsletter to your contacts and want basic access to click-through rates and other simple analytics, free email marketing services can be a godsend.

Compiled here for your reading pleasure is Merchant Maverick’s favorites in the free email marketing software world. A quick word about criteria: Each of these apps were evaluated based on their feature set, ease of use, and pros vs cons. With that out of the way, let’s get started!

Benchmark

Serving upwards of 73,000 users around the globe, Benchmark (read our review) has not moved on from its original mission of serving small businesses. With a reputation for great customer service and ease-of-use, this is one of the most widely recommended email marketing apps out there. And, as you might expect since it is on this list, there is a free version!

It should come as no surprise that the free version of Benchmark is less powerful than the versions you actually pay for. With a subscriber cap of 2,000 members and a limitation of 14,000 emails per month, the free version of Benchmark will be best suited to the email campaigns of very small businesses and nonprofits. It is the other features, or, rather, lack of them, that might make the final decision for you. Non-paying users of Benchmark will find that they have access to an email builder and little more. You’ll get the “insanely simple drag-and-drop editor,” a wide library of templates, and an automated signup form, as well as Google analytics, several campaign styles (drip and RSS), and a few other handy items. What you don’t get, however, are unlimited emails, basic features like A/B testing and more advanced tools like cart abandonment automation and other automated behavioral tracking features.

As I mentioned above, Benchmark is generally considered to be extremely easy to use. Most comments in user reviews agree that navigating the app, building emails, and implementing new campaigns are all done with a minimal learning curve. Based on these user reviews, as well as my own test of the product, I have to agree with Benchmark’s marketing claim: “No design experience required.”

Generally speaking, Benchmark has far more pros than cons. Beyond the ease of use I mentioned above, this company also maintain some of the best customer service in the industry, with 24/7 phone, live chat, and email support. As for cons, the major downside for free users will be the limitations placed on free accounts regarding Benchmark’s more advanced features. Some users have also complained that their experience with the app was plagued by bugs, though I should note that those affected seem few and far between.

SendinBlue

SendinBlue (read our review) is best known for the accessibility of its software. With a focus on simplicity in both features and pricing, this is an app that aims to get new users in particular up and running as quickly and efficiently as possible. Generally speaking, SendinBlue is a good choice for anyone looking to get great bang for their buck, especially if you are willing to work with a simplified interface. Indeed, as an ESP (email service provider), SendinBlue is clearly not intended for experienced marketers, but rather for single proprietors and small LLC owners. Appropriately, then, the free version of SendinBlue offers an interesting alternative to the other apps we will discuss here.

Unlike Benchmark, SendinBlue does not limit how many subscribers or contacts their free users can have. Likewise, there is no limit in place for monthly emails. Rather, there is a daily limit of 300 emails. From one perspective, this limitation may seem an opportunity to reach significantly more subscribers than would be possible with Benchmark’s plan. From another perspective, it means someone at your (presumably) small company will be spending at least some time every day working on emails; isn’t that why you wanted an email marketing app anyway? Fortunately, SendinBlue does make it easy to design attractive emails with a nice email editor and template library. Free users also get real-time reporting, phone and email support, and customizable sign-up forms. As with Benchmark, you lose access to many features by choosing to use SendinBlue for free, though since SendinBlue is a simpler app in the first place, the limitations seem less important.

The biggest pro for using SendinBlue is the all-around simplicity of this app, as well as the template library, which is varied and diverse. Like Benchmark, SendinBlue tends to impress customers with their support options as well. In terms of cons, there are only a few integrations available, and some users complain of an outdated interface as well. On the whole, SendinBlue is widely liked by those who use it, though it does not inspire the same superlative-laden user reviews of some of its competitors.

MailChimp

best ecommerce apps

MailChimp (read our review) is pretty much synonymous with email marketing. Maybe it is the quirky name, maybe it is the goofy grin on the face of their mascot, but this app just sticks in the mind, making it one of the first examples I think of when discussing email marketing. Fortunately, if your budget does not have space for an ESP among so many other important expenses, you are in luck. There is a free version of MailChimp, widely regarded as one of the best in the business.

To start things off, if you want to use MailChimp for free, you are looking at a subscriber cap of 2,000 users and an email limit of 12,000 per month. Eagle-eyed readers will note that Benchmark allows more emails per month, but where this email marketing platform sets itself apart is in the features free users gain access to. The standard email editor and template library are in place, as expected, but MailChimp also provides an automated email campaigns features that most of their competitors keep locked behind paywalls. These automations allow you to pre-write messages and determine triggers that will prompt the app to automatically send follow-up emails based on the behavior of individual subscribers. Whether it is a welcome message for new contacts, a notification of an abandoned shopping cart, or even a gentle reminder that your business still exists to customers that have been away awhile, if you are trying to build an ecommerce business, these tools can be invaluable to you.

The pros of using MailChimp should be readily apparent. With powerful features, a user-friendly interface, and a minimal learning curve — for the low monthly cost of $0, it may seem that there is no reason to not set up a MailChimp account this very second. However, unlike the other two apps discussed above, MailChimp does not have a spotless customer service record, with some users finding communication slow and unresponsive. Fortunately, there are more satisfied customers than disgruntled ones, but it remains a concern.

Final Thoughts

Basically, what we have here are three email marketing apps that would leave nearly any subscriber satisfied. Having said that, I think there is a definite winner here: MailChimp. Especially if you are working in e-commerce, the automation tools included in this free email marketing software may prove indispensable to growing your business.

Having said that, I can think of a few reasons for using the other software programs I described above. If your needs exceed the 12,000 emails offered by MailChimp, Benchmark might be the better choice for you. If you need an extra-simplified feature set, SendinBlue’s free plan may be more attractive. On top of that, both these alternatives have higher reputations for customer service, certainly more so than Mailchimp.

In the end, the best way to figure out which free email marketing software app is best for you is to give one or all of them a try. Considering they are free, there is really not much to lose. Your email newsletter is just begging to be sent, and this month is as good a time as any! Start generating contacts, write that opt-in email, create some sign-up forms, and get out there!

If you’re looking for a little more bang for your buck, you might consider doing a free trial of another email marketing platform like AWeber, Constant Contact, Mad Mimi, or Active Campaign, or simply using the paid version of any one of the programs above. With a premium service, you’re going to get more templates, unlimited emails and contacts, advanced marketing automations, social media integration, and better all-around email marketing tools. Read our full selection of email marketing software reviews for more information, or check out our ESP comparison chart.

The post The Best Free Email Marketing Software Programs appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Thank You Page Best Practices, Ideas & Examples

A visitor has taken some sort of action on your site… hurray!

Before you celebrate too much, let’s talk about your Thank You page.

The Thank You page is one of the most underrated pages on a website. We often focus so much on getting someone to take an action (like purchasing a product, signing up for a webinar, downloading a whitepaper) that we forget how valuable a Thank You page can be, or the effort we should put into it.

A Thank You page, when used correctly, can be a crucial part of nurturing your audience.

But before we dive into some best practices, let’s cover the basics.

What is a Thank You Page?

A Thank You page is where a visitor is taken after completing a desired action on your website. It’s also sometimes referred to as a “confirmation” page because it confirms an action was taken.

A Thank You page can follow up any desired action on your site, from filling out a contact form to subscribing to an email newsletter or purchasing a product on your site.

Do I Need a Thank You Page?

If you have some sort of action you want visitors to take (also known as a “conversion” in marketing speak), then you absolutely need a Thank You page on your website.

This page not only serves as a way to confirm the action was taken successfully, but it also allows you to continue to engage your visitors, especially while they’re still “warm” (sales jargon for they’re more likely to want to interact/do business with you).

A visitor who has just taken an action on your site is incredibly valuable because they’re indicating they’re interested in you and what you have to offer. An effective Thank You page is a way to further that relationship and keep that interest growing.

Plus, saying thank you after your audience does something on your site is just plain polite.

Thank You Page vs. Thank You Message

A lot of forms and landing pages include built-in functionality to display a confirmation message once an action is completed. This functionality generally keeps users on the same page and simply replaces the form/download button/purchase area with a thank you message.

While showing this message is enough to confirm the action, in most cases, it doesn’t do much for continuing to engage with your audience. This is where a dedicated Thank You page can do wonders for your post-conversion opportunities.

By leveraging an individual page instead of a message on the existing page, you have more flexibility and opportunities to increase engagement, share relevant content, and provide additional opportunities to convert.

For more about thank you pages vs. thank you messages, check out this article by Hubspot.

Thank You Page Best Practices

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s dive into the details. Here are seven Thank You page best practices you can implement on your own site.

Give Confirmation

The first thing your Thank You page should do is confirm whatever action your visitor just took was completed successfully. For example, if they’ve just subscribed to your weekly newsletter, your page might say something like, “Thank you for subscribing to our weekly newsletter.”

Your Thank You page should also confirm any relevant details relating to the conversion, such as how long it will take you to respond after they’ve filled out a contact form, or when they can expect to receive the whitepaper they’ve opted-in for.

ShivarWeb Thank You Page

Ex: ShivarWeb

Remember, this is someone who has indicated interest in your business. You want them to feel valued right off the bat and to know that the action they took actually worked. The best way to do that is to confirm all of the details as soon as they finish the conversion.

Include Navigation

One of the worst things you can do on your Thank You page is keep your audience stranded there. These are people who have just indicated they’re into what you have to offer, which means this is the perfect time to keep them hanging around your site!

At the very least, your Thank You page should include your website’s navigation to allow your audience to stick around and explore your site some more.

The Skimm thank you page

Ex: The Skimm

Provide Related Content/Actions

Aside from using your navigation to give your audience an opportunity to stick around, your Thank You page is also a great place to provide related content or additional actions your lead may find interesting.

For example, if they’ve just opted-in to a whitepaper, you could provide related content on the same or a similar subject. This is a great way to continue to “warm up” your visitors (AKA make their interest in you grow) without being overly sales-y.

You could also use this opportunity to lead your users further “down the funnel” (the next step closer to purchasing) by offering another relevant action. For example, Hubspot offers a free session to learn more about their software after you opt-in to download one of their guides.

Hubspot Thank You Page

Ex: HubSpot

If your Thank You page shows when a visitor has already taken a purchasing action, you can still use related content to keep them engaged. The easiest way to do so is to display related items they may also be interested in — Amazon is renowned for doing just that!

Amazon Related Items

Ex: Amazon

Add an Offer/Promotion

Did a customer just enter to win a free product? Why not offer a coupon code to encourage them to purchase something sooner?

Adding an offer or promotion can be an excellent way to encourage warm visitors to convert, or to increase the value of a converting customer by enticing them to purchase additional items.

Keep in mind that your offer should be something relevant to their action and worthy of their attention. You don’t want to come across as spammy over overly sales-y. You want to provide something that feels uniquely valuable to your audience and relates to whatever action they just took.

Get Social

Encouraging people to connect with you on social media is a great way to further connect with a warm audience.

Instead of just leaving links to your social profiles, take it a step further and tell visitors why they should follow you. What can they expect to see if on they follow you? News about your business? Tips and tricks related to the action they just took? Spell out the value and make it clear it’s worth it.

katelyn dramis thank you page

Ex: Katelyn Dramis

You can also use your Thank You page as an opportunity to spread the word about your business. This works particularly well for actions like webinar registrations and offer redemptions.

If your Thank You page is confirming an offer redemption or webinar sign-up, include social share buttons to encourage your converters to spread the word on social media with their friends. They obviously think what you have to offer is worth signing up for! There’s a good chance they’ll spread the word for you, too.

Show Off Testimonials

Even if your visitor has just completed a purchase, your Thank You page can still be a place of reassurance that you’re as great as you say you are.

Use your page as an opportunity to show off social proof, whether it be customer testimonials, the number of social media fans you have, or a quick stat or case study.

Your Thank You page should continue to warm your visitors and encourage them either to purchase down the road or to purchase again. Using social proof to help reassure them that you’re the real deal can help this process significantly.

Encourage Opt-Ins & Account Sign-Ups

A Thank You page is the perfect time to ask your audience to become a regular part of your community and an ongoing converter.

For e-commerce businesses, asking your purchases to create an account after converting can yield far more results than asking prior to purchase (and can reduce cart abandonment).

If your business doesn’t include the opportunity for customers to create accounts, you can still invite converters to be regulars by asking them to opt-in to your email newsletter on your Thank You page. Make sure you specify why your audience would want to subscribe to your newsletter — what is it you’ll be offering that makes it worthwhile?

Conclusion & Next Steps

Your Thank You page can be an amazing tool in your sales arsenal if used correctly. Don’t let all of your focus go toward the conversion — spend adequate time on your confirmation page and yield the benefits time and time again.

Start by taking a look at your own Thank You page. Does it confirm the action your visitor took? Does it offer opportunities to stay engaged with your business? If it doesn’t, start by introducing one way for users to continue to interact with you.

Remember, like all pages on your website, your Thank You page isn’t set in stone. Test one approach to adding some meat to your page (like adding related content or a call-to-action to follow you on social media) and see how it works. Then, adapt!

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5 Patreon Alternatives

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patreon alternatives

For a wide array of podcasters, YouTubers, writers, journalists, artists, comedians, and other creatives, Patreon (see our review) has provided a convenient means of monetizing output that was previously unavailable. Patreon’s conception of crowdfunding, based as it is on ongoing donations from patrons in exchange for exclusive content, is well-suited to those who produce works that people enjoy but who previously had no means by which to get compensated for their toil.

However, if you’re on the lookout for an alternative to Patreon (as are many Patreon creators ever since Patreon introduced — and then rescinded — their unpopular new fee policy), there are several other good options. Let look at some of them!

Table of Contents

1. Kickstarter

I’m sure I don’t have to explain to you what Kickstarter is. You’re also likely aware of the fact that Kickstarter (see our review) crowdfunding campaigns do not operate on Patreon’s recurring subscription-like model. However, if you’re a creator whose focus is on putting out, say, a few major works per year — as opposed to a continuous stream of content — Kickstarter may work for you. You can always launch a new Kickstarter campaign after your old one runs its course.

Kickstarter vets crowdfunders fairly strenuously, so not everyone gets in. It’s a more exclusive platform than most of its rewards crowdfunding peers, which is a factor to consider if you’re a small-time creator. But with nearly $3.5 billion in dollars pledged to Kickstarter campaigns — and over 136K successfully-funded projects — Kickstarter’s track record is nothing to sneeze at.

One thing to keep in mind about Kickstarter campaigns is that the funding is all-or-nothing. If you don’t raise your goal amount within the time frame you specify (anywhere from 1 to 60 days), you get nothing — no soup for you. Launching a Kickstarter campaign requires a certain degree of confidence in your ultimate success.

As for fees, Kickstarter and Patreon don’t differ a great deal in this respect. Both Kickstarter and Patreon take a 5% cut of what you earn, with payment processing fees taking upwards of 3% of the rest.

2. Indiegogo

Indiegogo (see our review) is another alternative consider, and while it has a lot in common with Kickstarter, there are some key differences.

Like Kickstarter, Indiegogo crowdfunding campaigns are not continuous and have concrete start and end dates. Unlike Kickstarter, however, Indiegogo doesn’t pre-screen the campaigners who sign up to crowdfund, making it a less exclusive platform for creatives. Indiegogo also gives you the choice of whether you want your campaign to be all-or-nothing or keep-whatever-you-raise in its structure. With the latter, you won’t be left with nothing if your campaign fails to reach its funding goal.

The maximum campaign length with Indiegogo is 60 days. Indiegogo’s fee structure is nearly identical to that of Kickstarter and Patreon — 5% to the platform, ~3% to the payment processor.

Think of Indiegogo as a slightly more relaxed Kickstarter.

3. Donation Buttons

Here’s a crowdfunding solution that ensures you won’t have to pay a 5% platform fee to anybody: You can just directly solicit donations from those who enjoy your work. Payment providers like Stripe (see our review) and PayPal (see our review) have buttons you can place on your site for just this purpose.

These payment providers allow people to make recurring payments, so your fans can sign up to support you on a continuing basis (just as with Patreon). Of course, you won’t be getting any of the extra crowdfunding services you’d get with Patreon (reward distribution, patron management, analytics, etc.), so this funding solution will require more of your time and energy than Patreon. Then again, you’ll get more of every pledge made to you. If you have an existing fanbase motivated to pay up for your content and the ability to manage everything manually, this may be a crowdfunding route worth exploring.

Now, let’s take a look at a few crowdfunding sites that share Patreon’s subscription-based crowdfunding model.

4. Podia

Formerly called Coach, Podia isn’t one of the better-known crowdfunders out there — in fact, they’re new to the crowdfunding game, having just launched their new Patreon-like Membership service a few weeks ago (I’m writing this in December 2017). Prior to this, the site — then known as Coach — was simply a service with which people could sell online courses and digital downloads as standalone purchases.

Podia is keen to invite comparisons between themselves and Patreon — in fact, they’ve put up a page on their site devoted to showcasing themselves as a superior Patreon alternative. Their main selling point is this: Podia charges no fees on the donations your contributors make. Instead, you pay a flat monthly fee to use the service. You’ll have to pay $79 per month for the Membership package and $39/month if you just want to sell online courses/digital downloads and use Podia’s email marketing services. If you can draw a significant monthly income from selling access to your work, you’ll be paying less in fees with Podia than with Patreon. However, if you pull in just a few hundred bucks a month or less, Podia is clearly not a more cost-effective crowdfunding service than Patreon. It all depends on the level of support you get from your followers.

5. Memberful

Memberful is a decidedly different way to make money from your work. It’s not a crowdfunding platform, but rather a plugin you install on your website through which you sign people up for subscriptions to receive exclusive content. You can set up the application to accept subscriptions for different lengths of time (monthly, yearly etc.) and for different subscription plans that give access to varying levels of content.

If you sign up for Memberful’s Starter plan, you won’t pay any monthly fee, but Memberful will take a whopping 10% of what you earn — and that’s before you get to the payment processing fees. Memberful’s Pro and Enterprise plans cost $25 and $100 per month (respectively) while cutting the platform fee down to 2% and 1% (respectively). Both give access to features like coupon codes and newsletter integrations. Memberful isn’t a funding solution for everybody, but for the right sort of creator, it may be worth checking out.

Coming Soon: Drip

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Kickstarter’s new Patreon-like subscription-based crowdfunding platform, Drip. Drip is still invitation-only at this point, so we’re still waiting for a proper release. However, given that it has the weight of Kickstarter behind it and is clearly Kickstarter’s response to Patreon’s popularity, I expect it to become Patreon’s main rival when it becomes open to everybody. Details are scarce at this point, but Drip promises to integrate with Kickstarter so the 13.7 million backers currently on Kickstarter can use their login details and payment info to start backing Drip projects without having to set up a new profile. They also promise that Drip campaigns will feature a “founding membership period” during which backers will be designated “founding members” and get special perks for jumping in early. It’s an intriguing way to get people motivated to support you during your campaign’s early days.

Few details are available, but when Drip is released to the general public, I’m going to try to be the first person to post a review of it. Stay tuned!

Final Thoughts

Monetizing your work online has long been a challenge. Thankfully, platforms like Patreon and its various alternatives have arisen to plug this market inefficiency and help creators make money from the very people who consume and enjoy their content. No single solution is right for everybody, so check out these platforms (heck, check out other ones too if you want!) to determine which funding model makes sense for your particular needs.

Now go forth, create, and get paid!

Jason Vissers

Jason Vissers is a writer, cereal chef and Netflix aficionado from San Diego. A native Californian who enjoys the beach, Jason nonetheless prefers to do his surfing on the World Wide Web, the raddest wave of them all. Jason can’t eat raisins.

Jason Vissers

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Beginner’s Guide To Advertising on Instagram Effectively

How To Advertise On Instagram

Instagram provides an active, visually striking social media community ideal for building your brand awareness. With the help of its parent company, Facebook, you can take advantage of incredible reach to talk directly to your target demographic with minimal networking efforts. Plus, take advantage of a powerful advertising engine to build single image, video and slideshow campaigns within minutes.

During this guide, we’ll walk you through the basic steps of creating an effective Instagram ad campaign to impress, engage, and expand your target audience. Enjoy!

Why Instagram

Instagram is, at its core, a mobile photo-sharing app. The initial goal of the service was to let users snap pictures on their smartphones and share them with others either privately or publicly. Today, it also supports videos up to one minute in length. If you decide to advertise on Instagram, you can choose either medium – photo or video – to spread your message.

As a social networking site, Instagram thrives on word of mouth – friends sharing content with friends, colleagues with colleagues, and so on. That makes the service perfect for spreading your message, since you can accrue a sort snow-ball effect directly contained to your target audience.

Despite being launched in 2010, Instagram has also already amassed over 600 million active users. That ranks Instagram as the seventh most popular social networking site in the world, making it a vibrant ecosystem within which to spread brand awareness.

At the top of the list, meanwhile, is Facebook, with nearly 1.9 billion active users, who acquired Instagram in 2012. The combined user data of both services makes it easier to target individuals more likely to react positively to your ad campaign.

Facebook capitalizes on this advantage by tightly integrating the advertising capabilities of both services into a single advertising platform.

The goal for most advertisers is to create a viral advertising campaign, and Instagram is the perfect vehicle to get that done.

How to Get Started Advertising on Instagram

To advertise on Instagram, you don’t necessarily need to set up an Instagram account. However, we’d recommend you do so, since by immersing yourself in the Instagram ecosystem, you’ll obtain a better idea of what works and what doesn’t, and how people interact. That knowledge, in turn, will help you create more effective Instagram ads.

For example, Instagram is a “mobile-first” ad platform. Ads need to have a certain feel to work well. Additionally, even though Instagram has been evolving in everyday use, people still expect certain types of content on Instagram over traditional direct response ads.

While you don’t need an Instagram account, though, you must set up a Facebook page for your business. Doing so shouldn’t cause any headaches, since Facebook has streamlined the process to only take a few minutes.

You first need to visit Facebook’s business site and click the “create a page” button.

Afterwards, you’ll be asked to select the type of page you want to create. Options include:

  • Local Business or Place
  • Company, Organization or Institution
  • Brand or Product
  • Artist, Band or Public Figure
  • Entertainment
  • Cause or Community

Selecting one option will lead to several more, like picking a business category (i.e., apparel, bar, tour agency) or product category (i.e., app, furniture, jewelry). You’ll also need to input your business, brand or product name.

After that you page appears online and active, although to attract an audience and effectively advertise you’ll need to spruce things up. These include adding a cover image, profile picture, and short page description. Plus, you’ll need to set a username to appear in your page’s URL, which will help customers remember how to get to your page.

We won’t touch on all the tips for creating an attractive Facebook business page here, since this article focuses on Instagram advertising.

Ads Manager vs Power Editor

Before you get started, it’s also helpful to have a general understanding of Facebook’s two advertising tools, Ads Manager and Power Editor.

Ads Manager stands as Facebook’s basic advertising campaign tool. It’s much simpler than Power Editor, which provides capabilities to create multiple campaigns, ad sets and ads. Power Editor also offers more advanced campaign tracking features than Ads Manager.

A good general rule of thumb is that if you’re new to advertising, or have relatively simply advertising needs and are working with small budget, go with Ads Manager. If you’re an experienced advertiser working with multiple brands or campaigns, pick Power Editor.

For the purposes of this article, we’ll focus mainly on Ads Manager. In part, that’s because if you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance you’re new to advertising. Also, you need to set up your payment method through Ads Manager before rolling out a campaign via Power Editor, anyway.

Define Your Advertising Objective

With your Facebook page created, you can turn your attention towards your Instagram ad campaign.

First, you need to define your objective. Facebook categorizes advertising objectives as follows: awareness, consideration, and conversion.

The best way to think about these three objectives is as the path a potential customer follows. First, a potential customer must be aware of your brand. Only then can they seriously consider it. And, only after considering it will they decide to make a purchase, becoming an actual customer (conversion).

For each principal objective, Facebook defines several sub-objectives:

Objective Sub-Objective Description
Awareness Brand Awareness Increase general awareness of your brand
Local Awareness Promote your business to people geographically close
Reach Show your ad to as many people as possible
Consideration Traffic Send more people to another destination (like your ecommerce platform)
Engagement Promote engagement with your business (comments, shares, likes, etc.)
App Installs Send people to the app store
Video Views Promote videos to improve brand awareness
Lead Generation Collective contact information for people interested in your brand, services, product, etc.
Conversion Conversions Get people to take actions like making purchases
Product Catalog Sales Create adds that automatically display products from your product catalog
Store Visits Promote visits to nearby physical store locations

Since you’ll be using Facebook/Instagram to drive your campaign, its useful to think about advertising in their terms. During the ad creation flow that Ads Manager uses, you’ll be asked to select the objective that best applies to you.

Also, these terms that are used generally in online advertising. Knowing the lingo and the theory will help you generate more effective Instagram ad campaigns and improve them over time.

Define Your Target Audience

As mentioned, a huge advantage of using Instagram – or any social media service for that matter – to boost your business, brand or product reach lies in the user data accrued by the platform. Instagram and Facebook knows the sex, age and geographic location of their user base.

They also have extensive knowledge of their interests based on shares, likes, and page views.

Having a clear understanding of who it is that you want to sell to will help you leverage that knowledge. During the ad creation process, based on the objective you define, you’ll also have a chance to select attributes of your target audience.

Doing so improves reach by maximizing your advertising budget to only target those most likely to pay attention to your advertisement and take meaningful action, whether that means liking or sharing your ad, clicking through to visit your website, or initiating a conversion.

So, spend some time thinking about your target demographic, and spend some time researching them online. Take plenty of notes, which, ideally, will lead to a dossier that you can evolve alongside your business.

Create Your Campaign in Ads Manager

Armed with an understanding of your campaign objective and target demographic, you’re ready to create an actual ad.

Facebook Ads Manager segments the process into four stages, each with their own page, or stage:

  • Campaign: set ad objective
  • Ad Account: set currency and time zone
  • Ad Sets: define basic elements, like target audience, placements and budget
  • Ads: create your ad

Note that if you start the ad creation process from Instagram’s business advertising page, you’ll be redirected to Ads Manager on the Facebook site as soon as you click “Create.”

Next, we’ll digest each of the four Ads Manager stages so you can effectively use the process to your advantage.

Ads Manager Campaign Stage

At the top of the Campaign page, input the name of your campaign. Your customer base won’t see this name, as its purely for your management needs. However, it helps to make the title as descriptive as possible so you that if you wind up creating multiple campaigns, you won’t lose sight of what they are.

Next, pick your primary campaign objective. These are the same objectives we discussed earlier. You can only pick one, and each choice has consequences on the third stage of the process, Ad Sets.

Facebook Ads Manager

Don’t worry about getting stuck on this part. You’ll have the chance to change your objective at any time during the ad creation process, by clicking on the “Objective” link found in the Ad Manager’s left margin, under the “Campaign” header.

Once you’ve made your pick, scroll down and click the button that reads, “Create Ad Account.”

Ads Manager Ad Account Stage

The Ad Account page doesn’t require much thought. There are a few basic location fields you’ll need to set, and you’ll be asked to select a currency type.

Don’t rush through it though. Location information will be important if you’re trying to market based on geographic location. Currency impacts the type of payment options available to you, and you can only change your preferred currency once every 60 days, and if your campaign balance is zero.

Make your selections and click “Continue.”

Ad Manager Ad Set Stage

The Ad Set page lets you set elements related to your ad campaign. Elements in this page are broadly called “ad sets.” Which elements are available in the set depends on the objective you’ve defined for your campaign.

Here’s a general look at the ad sets for each objective.

Objective Ad Set
Brand Awareness Audience
Placements
Budget & Schedule
Local Awareness Page
Audience
Placements
Budget & Schedule
Reach Page
Audience
Placements
Budget & Schedule
Traffic Traffic
Offer
Audience
Placements
Budget & Schedule
Engagement Audience
Placements
Budget & Schedule
App Installs App
Audience
Placements
Budget & Schedule
Video Views Audience
Placements
Budget & Schedules
Lead Generation Page
Audience
Placements
Budget & Schedule
Conversions Conversions
Offer
Audience
Placements
Budget & Schedule
Product Catalog Sales Products
Audience
Placements
Budget & Schedule
Store Visits Audience
Placements
Budget & Schedule

One of the key elements that each ad set includes is “Placements.” Placements is where you tell Facebook on what platforms you want to advertise. For this article, that at least includes Instagram.

Facebook Ad Placements

To make sure Instagram makes it into your ad campaign, scroll down to the Placements header on the Ad Set Page and selected “Edit Placements.” By default, Instagram should be selected.

If not, click the radio box associated with Instagram and make sure Instagram Feed is selected.

There’s also an option for Instagram Stories. Stories let users post photo/video slideshows that expire after 24 hours. If you advertise a lot, stories are a good way to make sure your content doesn’t overwhelm the feeds of Instagram users.

No matter what objective you’ve defined for your campaign, you should be able to advertise on the Instagram feed. Not all objectives let you choose Instagram Stories, though.

The Ad Set page happens to be where you’ll define your target demographic, too. All ad sets include the “Audience” element to perform this function.

Facebook Custom Audience

Spend some time playing around with the Ad Sets page before moving on by changing objectives and returning to it. Familiarizing yourself with settings based on objective will help you maximize the effectiveness of your Instagram campaign.

You’ll need to give each ad set a name at the top of the page, too. As with the ad campaign name, make sure that its specific and means something to you. The ad set name shows up in various reports later, and a descriptive name can help you analyze advertising data more quickly.

Ads Manager Ad Stage

With your objective and ad sets defined, it’s time to build your ad. This step is completed on the final Ads Manager page, the Ads page.

At the top of the page, you’ll select the type of ad you want.

AdsManager Ads SelectFormat

The types of ad campaigns are straightforward in their descriptions, although there are a few things you’ll want to be aware of:

  • Single Image Instagram Ad: lets you display up to six single image ads at no extra cost
  • Single Video Instagram Ad: lets you create a single video ad campaign
  • Carousel: lets you create an ad with two or more scrollable images/videos
  • Slideshow: lets you create a looping ad with up to ten images
  • Canvas: combine images and videos to create an immersive story about your brand. This ad format isn’t supported on Instagram feeds, so we won’t discuss it further here.

Since its key to creating an effective Instagram campaign, we’ll cover both required and ideal specifications for images and videos next, before returning to look more closely at creating ads of each type.

Image Requirements for an Instagram Campaign

The Ad Manager tool indicates that the recommended image size for ads is 1200 x 628 pixels. However, this applies only to Facebook. Instagram ad campaigns have different requirements that aren’t always fully detailed on the Ads page.

In general, you should go with a 1:1 images for Instagram ad campaigns, with a recommended image size of 1080 x 1080 pixels.

Instagram was popularized in part thanks to its distinctive square-image format. While landscape images are now supported, square images remain vogue because show up better on mobile devices than landscape images.

You can find exact specifications to design and optimize your ad campaign for Instagram in Facebook’s Ad Guide. These specifications are even listed by objective and platform.

Spend some time reviewing this guide to get an idea of what kind of image requirements your campaign will be restricted by. Having this information in hand will help you substantially if you plan on designing your own images or hiring a freelancer.

That said, here are the recommended specifications for effective photos in Instagram ads:

  • Recommended Image Ratio: 1:1
  • Recommend Image Size: 1080 x 1080 pixels
  • Recommended Caption Length: 125 characters (text only)

Another key restriction you need to be concerned with is that both Instagram restricts how much text an image used in advertisements can contain. Typically, the requirement is that no more than 20% of your image should be composed of text. Ads with too much text may result in decreased distribution, or even no distribution at all.

To help you determine if your image may result in decreased distribution, Facebook provides a tool with which to gauge text content in your images.

Video Requirements for an Instagram Campaign

There’s also a significant length difference for videos used in Instagram ads versus those used in Facebook ads. While Facebook video ads can range up to 120 minutes, Instagram videos can only be 60 seconds long.

Here are the recommended specifications for videos used in Instagram ads, as detailed in the Ad Guide:

  • Recommended Aspect Ratio: 1:1
  • Maximum Length: 60 seconds
  • Recommended Format: .mp4 (full list of supported formats)
  • Audio: Stereo ACC audio compression, 128kbps+ preferred
  • Recommended Caption Length: 125 characters (2,200 max)

Again, familiarize yourself with the requirements outlined in the Ad Guide before logging long hours developing video ad content or paying somebody else to do so.

Single Image and Single Video Ads

The process for creating single image and single video ads is similar on the Ad page, so we’ll examine the process in tandem.

Load Content

Content for single image and single video campaigns is loaded immediately following the campaign-type selection. When selecting images or video for an ad campaign, you’re given the option of picking content already associated with your Facebook page or loading content from your hard drive.

*Make sure you understand the law & licensing rules of commercial photo use.

For images, Facebook also supplies free stock photos courtesy of Shutterstock. You can search the Shutterstock library by keyword to find images most suited to your ad campaign.

AdsManager Stock Image Library

Most images in the Shutterstock library are landscape photographs. The Ads Management tool lets you automatically crop images to a 1:1 ratio to create the more visually effective Instagram ads. Auto-cropping can be performed by clicking on the “crop” icon found on the lower-right side of any loaded image.

Ads Manager Crop Image

There are no stock videos available, so you’ll need to create your own, hire a freelancer, or purchase a stock video directly through Shutterstock Footage or another website.

After you load your video, you can select a video thumbnail automatically generated by Ads Management. Be sure and choose an impactful thumbnail image like an action shot. This will increase the chance people watch.

You can also let Facebook automatically add captions to your video. In addition to using their speech-to-text capabilities to create captions, Facebook will review them for accuracy. Captions are a great way to enhance your video ad by letting people watch it without sound, including deaf people.

Alternatively, you can load you own captions using an SRT file.

Personalize and Preview Content

With your content loaded, it’s time to personalize your ad. Personalization options for single photo and single video ads are found at the bottom of the Ads page, and are identical for either type of campaign.

The first thing you need to do is make your Facebook page and Instagram account settings. You don’t need an Instagram account, though, since you can select your Facebook page to represented your business on Instagram.

Once make these two selections, you can preview your Instagram ad on the right side of the page by selecting “Instagram Feed” from the drop-down menu.

Ads Manager Personalize Ad

For single image ads, you can scroll through previews for however many photographs you selected for the ad (up to six). Single video ads only let you upload one video, so there’s only one preview – although the preview pane will show your video being played.

Above the Instagram ad, your Facebook page name and the words, “sponsored by” are displayed. Users will be able to click on that name to visit your Facebook page, which is why it important to make sure you’ve got a page optimized for your desired customer base and full of useful content.

Back on the left side of the Ad page are a few personalization options you won’t want to overlook. These include a text box to add a caption about your brand, business, or product, and a place to a URL link for your website (if you have one).

*Be sure to set your URL with UTM parameters so that you can track traffic effectively in Google Analytics.

Additionally, you can define a headline and website description, although these don’t appear in Instagram feed ads, just Facebook.

The final crucial personalization element is a call-to-action button. Facebook features a range of buttons to choose from. Be sure and pick one that fits your brand and matches the action you want people to take. For example, if you run a tour company, a “Book Now” call-to-action button makes sense. If you’re marketing an app, go with “Download.”

Carousel Ads

Carousel ads feature multiple images or videos, and let viewers manually scroll through them. They’re ideal for creating interactive ads that tell a visual story about your brand or product.

Load Content

Unlike with single image and single video campaigns, Carousel content is loaded near the bottom of the Ads page.

To load content, find the “Cards” header. Choose either the “Image” or “Video/Slideshow” button, and then click the “Select Image” or “Select Video” button.

You’ll need to load content for however many cards (or slides) your carousel includes. By default, that’s three, but you can have up to eight, or as few as two.

Ads Manager Carousel Cards

Content can come from either your Facebook page’s image library, or your hard drive. Unlike with single video ads, there’s not option to add a Shutterstock photo.

Personalize and Preview Content

Each card enhanced with a separate headline, description, URL, and call-to-action button.

Another useful option to maximize your Instagram campaign’s effectiveness lets you automatically show the best performing cards first.

As with single image and video campaigns, you’ll also need to set Instagram account before you can preview what it looks like on an Instagram Feed. Again though, you can pick your Facebook page as a proxy for an Instagram account.

These settings are made just above the “Cards” section. You’ll know your Instagram account settings are configured correctly because the preview pane for “Instagram Feed” on the right will display a preview of your Instagram Carousel ad.

Slideshow Ad Campaign

Slideshows are a bit like Carousel ads, except that they’re automated and can only use images. They’re ideal for telling an engaging story about your brand through photographs. As such, done properly, slideshow ads are perhaps the most effective Instagram advertising campaign.

Load Content

Slideshows can include up to ten images, which are loaded by clicking the “+” sign below the “Slideshow” header. Doing so opens a work pane.

Ads Manager Slide Show Create

Each image will display for one second during the slideshow by default. You can change the display time if you’d like by using the “Image Duration” drop down. The max delay available is five seconds, so the maximum length a slideshow can run for is 50 seconds.

If you can, go with shorter durations, though. The average person has an eight-second attention span, so there’s a good chance most viewers won’t make through a 50-second slideshow.

You can also a select an aspect ratio to apply to the entire slideshow. Remember that Instagram ad campaigns work best with 1:1 images, so we’d recommend you choose that as your aspect ratio.

A third option lets you add a fade effect to image transitions. This can help catch the eye of your audience, but some find it disruptive and off-putting if you’re using more than two or three images.

The slideshow work panel also has a “Music” tab. Use this to spruce your slideshow ad campaign with a prerecord track supplied by Facebook, or upload your own file. Be sure and only use music you have rights to use, or Facebook might penalize you for a DMCA violation.

Personalize and Preview Content

Once your slideshow has been created, you can personalize the ad further down the Ad page. Options available are identical to those for single image and video campaigns. Definite inclusions for an effective ad are the text box, website URL, and call-to-action button.

Once again, other options, like headline and news feed description, don’t display on Instagram ads. Use them only if you’re also launching a Facebook ad campaign.

To preview your slideshow, as with other ad types you first need to make sure you’ve connected your Instagram account, or assigned your Facebook page as a proxy. Once done, your slideshow will display on the right side of the page.

Launch and Monitor Your Campaign

Once your content has been loaded and personalized, you’re ready to launch your ad.

You can click the “Review Order” button first if you want to go over things one more time. When you’re ready to proceed, click the green “Place Order” button.

Launched, you can monitor the performance of your ad campaign through Ads Manager. Doing so will help you gauge its effectiveness, which in turn will help you create better campaigns later. Ads Manager also lets you compare the performances of multiple campaigns against one another.

With Ads reporting, you can customize the way data displays. That will let you focus on the data you deem most vital to your business’s success, such as shares or conversion rates.

Ads Manager even generates a “relevancy score” for ads once your ad has reached at least 500 impressions. The relevancy score is a measure of how well your target audience perceives your ad. The score is rated 1-10 (10 being good) and is based on activity like positive feedback.

A full accounting of the reporting options available via Ads Manger (and Power Editor, for that matter), would require an article of its own. We encourage you to become an expert in the reports and metrics that are tracked, since they’re key to improving your advertising performance on Instagram.

Facebook covers all the basics, here.

Next Steps & Additional Resources

Launching an Instagram ad campaign will help you grow your brand by letting you take advantage of one of the most popular, dynamic social network ecosystems available today. Instagram receives its fair share of active online consumers, covering a broad range of vital demographics.

However, approaching the task without proper planning and knowledge of the options and tools available will most likely result in your campaign falling flat.

Don’t let yourself get too intimidated, though. As we’ve shown, at its core, Facebook’s primary ad campaign tool, Ads Manager, benefits from a beautifully streamlined design. That design lets you focus on selecting relevant images and videos best designed to market your product or services.

Here are additional resources that have been highlighted in the weekly ShivarWeb newsletter –

  • Getting Started with Instagram Ads
  • 20 Instagram Ads Best Practices That Will Make You an Outstanding Marketer
  • I Spent Two Years Botting on Instagram — Here’s What I Learned

Here are additional resources on PPC advertising –

  • How To Advertise Your Website Online Effectively in 5 Steps
  • How To Improve Your Online Advertising Campaigns
  • Alternative PPC Ad Networks To Find New Audiences for Advertisers

Good luck!

 

The post Beginner’s Guide To Advertising on Instagram Effectively appeared first on ShivarWeb.

“”

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The publish E-newsletter #220 &#8211 Technical XML Bots Edition made an appearance first on ShivarWeb.

“”

LinkedIn Company / Business Page Best Practices w/ Examples

A LinkedIn Company (or business) page is an excellent way to keep people informed about your company, brands, products and services and job opportunities. Creating a page for your business is fairly straightforward. But, like any platform, you’ll be much more effective if you dig into the manual, apply best practices, add your own creative touches, analyze then improve.

Why You Need a Company Page

LinkedIn is the premier social network for business professionals. The platform has over 460 million users throughout the world. Depending on the business your company is in, LinkedIn offers access to a key demographic.

In some ways, LinkedIn is nowhere near as sexy as other social networks. Day to day, it can feel like a haunt for recruiters and weird spammers.

However, it appears that LinkedIn users are more interested in your company, compared to other networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. A study of referral sources found that LinkedIn was responsible for 64% of all homepage referrals from social channels.

And if you are a B2B business, in the market for talent, or simply looking for new partnerships – these visits can be very lucrative. In fact, LinkedIn’s ad rates certainly confirm this idea. If you can generate free, organic traffic – then all the better.

Requirements to Create A Company Page

Creating a LinkedIn page for your company is straightforward. First, you’ll want to make sure that you meet the following criteria.

  • A personal LinkedIn account with your actual first and last name.
  • Your personal LinkedIn account must be at least seven days old.
  • Your profile has several connections on it.
  • You’re a current employee at the company you wish to create a page for.
  • You list the company in the experience section of your profile.
  • You have a company email address listed on your LinkedIn profile.
  • Your company email address is linked to a domain unique to your company (no Gmail, Yahoo, etc. email addresses.)

Unless you are the CEO setting up your page, you will need to set internal policy guidelines for access.

How to Create A Page

Assuming you meet all the requirements above, you can create your page in a few simple steps.

First, log in to your LinkedIn account. Click the link for Work at the top of your page, and then select Create a Company Page.

Create a LinkedIn Company Page

Next, add the name of your company and your company email address. Check the box to verify that you’re an official representative of your company with the right to act on its behalf by creating this page.

Add LinkedIn Company

Once you’ve entered that information, LinkedIn will allow you to begin editing your company page. Fill out every field as accurately and in as much detail as possible. Our goal is to create a dynamic, engaging place for followers of the company to come and interact with the company. The first step in achieving that goal is going to be a solid foundation of information about the company. Keep that in mind as you fill in each field.

LinkedIn Company Page Setup

Optimizing Your Business Page

So, you’ve created an engaging page for your company. Now, let’s look at some LinkedIn company page best practices. These tips will help you develop a rich, full featured LinkedIn page for your company, which will be more likely to generate organic traffic,

Add Images

The first thing you’ll want to do is add some strong imagery to your page, starting with your company logo and banner photo. LinkedIn accepts JPEG, PNG or GIF image files. For the logo, you’ll want a square image. The minimum size for a logo is 300 x 300px, but the image can be much larger than that if you wish. The logo can be up to 4mb in size.

The minimum size for a banner image is 646 x 200 pixels. It can be larger as well, with a maximum size of 2mb.

Take time to make sure that these aspects of your page look great, and that the images you’ve chosen are optimized for display on LinkedIn. Consider recruiting a member of your staff that’s familiar with programs like Photoshop or Illustrator for help creating professional looking imagery for your page. You can also look at online tools like Canva, Stencil or Pixlr.

Add A Keyword Rich Description

When adding your company description, you’ll want to focus on adding relevant keywords to your copy. LinkedIn pages are SEO friendly with permalinks, and Google and other search engines will preview up to 156 characters of your description copy. You’ll want to lead with some relevant keywords, if possible.

Optimizing your LinkedIn page is a great way to grab additional real estate in your brand search results.

You won’t be able to rank #1 for brand term w/ modifiers, but you will be able to consistently appear in the mid-section of search results for most brand + modifier searches. Since you control the content – doing this can be a solid, easy win.

LinkedIn members can search for your company by name, or they can use keywords. So, be sure to include keywords that describe your business, industry and specialties.

Create Showcases Pages Where Appropriate

One useful feature of company pages is the ability to create showcase pages. Showcase pages allow you to highlight individual brands or initiatives that fall under the larger banner of your company. Creating showcase pages for your company is one of the LinkedIn company page best practices.

Let’s use “Company X” as an example. Company X manufactures a wide range of consumer electronics products. So, within the LinkedIn company page for the company, there may be several showcase pages for the individual brands that fall under the larger umbrella of Company X.

Not only do these pages make it easy to shine a light onto the different brands your company offers, but it creates a better experience for LinkedIn users as well. Let’s go back to the Company X example again. Let’s say I’m a LinkedIn user interested in following Company X on LinkedIn. I’m interested in some of the brands Company X manufactures, but I’m not interested in all their brands. With showcase pages, I’m able to select the portions of the company I want to receive updates from. So, I could receive updates about the brands I like, without having to see updates for the brands I don’t.

Creating a Showcase Page is simple. From your company page dashboard, click the Edit icon on the right side of the page. Next, select “Create A Showcase Page” from the drop-down menu. Now, you can begin adding content to your showcase page. Be sure to add a banner image, company logo and as much relevant information as possible about the brand.

Keep in mind that your showcase pages function just like your company page. To keep followers of your company page engaged, you’ll want to share meaningful content with them. The same holds true for your showcase pages. To truly leverage the LinkedIn platform to engage with your followers, you’re going to need to make sure you’re sharing lots of meaningful content.

Go Global

LinkedIn allows you to set up your company and showcase pages in more than 20 different languages. If your business has a global audience, take advantage of this feature so that your page is easily accessible for people in other countries.

If you are testing a new market, this can be a simple way to test responsiveness, especially if you are looking for new employees and/or partners.

Set Goals

Set reasonable goals for the growth of your following on LinkedIn so you can create a plan to achieve those goals. The analytics data LinkedIn provides will make it easier for you to set goals and put your plans into action.

If you want to refer traffic to your website, then define that goal. If you want conversions on LinkedIn (ie, recruit contacts) then define that. If you want engagement from companies in your industry (ie, potential clients or vendors) – then define how you will measure that.

Delegate

If possible, identify the members of your team that are best suited to help with your company page and recruit them to help with the development of your page. Growing your team is probably going to be necessary as you begin producing more content for your page (more on that later).

Again, here is where defined goals are useful. If you can delegate management with explicit goals, then that will naturally define the type of content. You can also quickly judge return on time invested.

Create A Content Calendar

Creating a calendar for your LinkedIn updates is a great way to organize your efforts. It’s another one of the LinkedIn company page best practices. Stick to the timeline as much as possible, but feel free to deviate from it, depending on current events.

A calendar or simple editorial process allows you to have items in the “pipeline” so that they can be improved, revised and approved before a deadline arrives.

Analyze

LinkedIn provides a range of different analytical tools for you to learn more about your audience and the way they engage with your business page. These tools are invaluable when used correctly and will be very helpful to you, especially as your following grows. We’ll discuss these features in greater depth a bit later in this post.

Growing Your Business Page

Now that you’ve created your company page, you’ll want to start connecting with members of the LinkedIn community. The goal is to create a page that encourages people throughout LinkedIn to engage with your company. But, we’re going to be taking baby steps to get there. These tips should help you get your page off the ground as you begin to grow your audience.

Remember that you are more likely to to get engagement with people who use LinkedIn rather than getting your audience to engage with you on LinkedIn. That said, you do need initial traction. To get that – you can of course, pay for ads – or you can use the following groups to find people who are already on LinkedIn and are interested in your company.

Recruit Your Employees

Getting your employees on board is an easy way to get your following started. Encourage them to connect to your business page and interact with it. Beyond interacting with your page, they can also add the link to the page to their email signatures.

Tell Your Customers

Use your other marketing channels to let your customers know you’re on LinkedIn. Create a blog, include the update in a newsletter, even go the old-fashioned route and tell them over the phone that you’d like to connect with them on LinkedIn.

This tactic is not to pull customers to your LinkedIn channel, but instead to find customers in your existing audience who already use LinkedIn.

Add A Follow Button

LinkedIn makes it easy to add a follow button to your website. That way, when LinkedIn members visit your company’s site, they’ll be able to follow you with a single click.

Join LinkedIn Groups

These days, there’s a group on LinkedIn for almost anything. Identify the groups that are relevant to your business and join them. You can search for groups by keywords, which makes it easy to find the ones most important to your business.

Contribute your insight in these groups. Aim to be helpful and supportive of the community. If you’re only using groups on LinkedIn to promote your company page, it will appear transparent, and the members of the group are not likely to engage with you. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to use these groups to promote your page if the members of the group see you as a helpful member of the community.

Like Facebook Groups, these usually have either the most attention or the most spam. Find groups that truly make sense, and add to the conversation rather than viewing it as a promotion opportunity.

Content

Content is going to be the key to growing your audience on LinkedIn beyond the initial connections you make. The more useful and engaging the content on your LinkedIn page is, the easier it will be for you to expand your page far beyond the initial connections you’re able to make.

What Is Content

Content is anything you post on your company’s page. Company updates, infographics, articles and think pieces and even cute cat videos are all examples of content. On LinkedIn, the content that you share will appear on your company page as well as in the timeline of all of your followers.

Sometimes, someone within your company creates the content you’ll be sharing. Other times, you’ll be sharing content that was created by someone else but has value to your company and your followers.

What to Share

When it comes to sharing, you’ll want to make sure that the things you’re sharing make sense for your company as well as your audience. The most successful company pages on LinkedIn share content which seamlessly marries the interests of the company with the interests of their followers.

Of course, you’ll want to add any relevant updates about your company. Beyond that, you’ll want to share things that are useful to your audience. Things that are useful for your audience can include things like articles about your industry, think pieces and current events.

Your ultimate goal is to share content that engages your audience and gets them involved in the conversation. Empower your followers to weigh in on the things you share by asking open-ended questions that encourage a dialogue. When your audience engages with your company in the comments section, be sure to get in on the action!

Share “Top [X]” Lists

If you’ve spent any time on the internet in the last five-plus years, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the huge amount of top 3, top 5, top 10, etc. lists. Believe it or not, there’s calculated reasoning behind these types of posts. Simply put, people love them.

LinkedIn studied company page updated that received 1,000 impressions or more and found that top content lists received 40% more amplification than other posts. So, creating or sharing top content lists is going to be a great way for you to reach new people, and expand your audience.

Share Videos

LinkedIn and Youtube are seamlessly integrated, which means that if you share a video from YouTube, it will play directly in your follower’s feeds when they click the video. LinkedIn found that not only do posts with videos result in more likes, comments, and shares, but they’re also more shareable than other types of content. Posts with videos receive a 75% higher share rate than posts without them. So, sharing videos can be another great way to up your engagement and expand your audience.

Ask Questions

Within your updates, ask your audience open-ended questions. These questions encourage your audience to engage with you. According to LinkedIn, updates that include questions are 50% more likely to receive comments from your followers.

When your posts receive comments, engage with your following. Getting into the comments is an excellent way to develop relationships with your audience, and it’s one of the LinkedIn business page best practices.

When to Share

LinkedIn’s users are on the site primarily in the morning. LinkedIn also says they experience a bump in traffic in the early evening, around the time most people are leaving their offices for the day. LinkedIn users also primarily use the site during the week and less on the weekends.

To give your updates the best chance for success, you’ll want to do most of your posting on weekdays, in the morning or the late afternoon. If you can, avoid posting at other times, especially on the weekend.

Sharing content often will encourage your followers to engage with your content while also fostering familiarity with your company. If you can, share content more often.

Some of the most engaging and well followed LinkedIn business pages post as many as five times each day. Just make sure that what you’re sharing is relevant to both your company and your audience.

Creating Original Content

Creating your own content is one of the best ways to engage with your audience. Often, when you share content from other sources, it’s already been optimized with a lovely image or video, and a clever headline. When you create your own content, you’ll need to do that legwork on your own.

You’ll want to start by creating a clever headline and intro for your content. Be as concise as you can be while still making sure that your headline is informative. Ask thoughtful, open-ended questions that encourage your audience to engage with your post.

Next, add some rich media to your posts, like a photo or video. Posts that include rich media are far more likely to engage your audience. According to LinkedIn, updates that include rich content are 98% more likely to receive comments. Updates that include video are 75% more likely to receive shares from your followers.

Lastly, double check the language you’re using in your post. You want to come off as a friendly company that came to LinkedIn to engage with people who are interested in your business. Sales-y language or promotional messages typically don’t do very well from an engagement perspective.

A final note on creating your own content: More so than any other type of content on the site, LinkedIn users want to see updates that provide industry insight.

Take pride in the content you’re creating. Not only is it useful to your LinkedIn following and essential for your growth on the platform, but it’s also highly useful for your other marketing channels as well.

Repurpose What You Already Have

Chances are, your business has been producing useful content already as part of your other marketing efforts. Don’t be afraid to optimize this content for LinkedIn and use it there as well. You’ll provide the LinkedIn community with valuable industry insights, while also getting the most use out of your existing content.

Use The 4-1-1 Rule

The 4-1-1 rule is an excellent way to make sure that your page is striking a balance between the needs of your company and the needs of your audience. It’s also one of the LinkedIn business page best practices.

For every one piece of content you share which directly relates to your company, you’ll want to share a piece of content from another source and four pieces of content written by others that your audience is likely to be interested in. If you follow the 4-1-1 rule, your page will feature a nice mix of important updates about your company as well as compelling content focused on the needs of your audience.

Again – this is an example of a best practice to start with and revise as you gather your own data.

Tailoring Your Content to Specific Audiences

One useful aspect of LinkedIn company pages is the ability to tailor posts to specific segments of your audience. Sometimes, you’ll find that a particular update only resonates with a portion of your audience as opposed to your entire audience.

By tailoring your posts to specific segments of your audience, you’re able to ensure you’re serving your audience with only the most relevant content. Content that they’re sure to find interesting and engaging.

Pin Your Most Important Content

LinkedIn allows you to pin your most important updates to the top of your page. That way, the most important content on your page receives the spotlight. It will be the first thing people see when they visit your page.

Keep It Short

There’s tons of content vying for your audience’s attention in their LinkedIn feed. You’ll want to keep your intros short and sweet. Pretend you’re working under the same limitations as Twitter; craft an intro that’s packed with value in under 160 characters.

For your intro, try pointing out a key benefit of the content you’re sharing or ask a thought provoking question designed to engage your audience and elicit a response.

Include A Call to Action

Last but certainly not least is your call to action. You could spend time crafting the most thoughtful and engaging piece of content of all time, but it’s all for naught if you don’t include a call to action.

Make sure you’re sharing content with a purpose and that your audience has clear instructions on what to do. Should they click a link? Watch a video? Answer a question in the comments section?

Whatever the purpose may be, make sure you’re communicating that clearly to the audience – and meeting your goals.

Analyze

You’ve created your page, developed an audience and added tons of great content to your page. Next, we’re going to use LinkedIn’s semi-robust set of tracking tools to analyze and refine our posts.

These tools can provide valuable insight into what your audience likes and doesn’t like, as well as what they’re most likely to respond to in the future.

Acting on the data you receive may prove vital to the success of your business page, so careful analysis is one of the LinkedIn business page best practices.

Updates

The first analytics tool LinkedIn provides is the updates section. In the updates section, you’ll see some valuable analytic information related to each of your updates.

LinkedIn Page AnalyticsPreview

This section shows a short preview of each of your posts.

Date

When each of your updates was posted.

Audience

This section shows which segments of your audience saw each update.

Sponsored

LinkedIn offers you the ability to advertise your posts to reach a larger, highly targeted audience. If any of your updates were sponsored, it would display in this section.

Impressions

This is the number of times your post showed up in your follower’s feeds.

Clicks

This metric indicates the number of times your update, company logo or company name was clicked on.

Interactions

LinkedIn defines interactions as likes, comments or shares. Interactions are a vital statistic as they show the amount of people that engaged directly with the content you’ve posted. The interactions metric provides valuable insight into how engaging your content is.

Followers Acquired

This metric shows the number of new followers you’ve acquired as a direct result of updates you’ve posted.

Engagement

LinkedIn displays this metric as a percentage. LinkedIn calculates that number by dividing the number of impressions your post received by the number of interactions your post received. The higher that percentage, the more engagement your post received per impression.

Followers

This section provides valuable analytics data that’s related to the people following your page.

LinkedIn Page Follower Demographics

Type

  • Total – This number displays the total number of followers of your LinkedIn company page.
  • Organic – These are your followers who were acquired organically. Your organic followers are the followers you gained naturally, without advertising.
  • Acquired – These are followers that you’ve gained through LinkedIn advertising campaigns.

And note that like StumbleUpon, Pinterest, Reddit and other social networks – you can often generate organic traffic with engaged acquired traffic. So if you pay to acquire an influential reader, that can lead to organic shares which lead to organic traffic.

Follower Demographics

You’ll find some of the most valuable analytics data LinkedIn collects in the follower demographics section. This area breaks down your total followers based on five types of demographic data.

  • Seniority
  • Industry
  • Job Function
  • Company Size
  • And More

Follower Trends

This graph shows how your number of followers has changed over time. There’s a drop-down menu that allows you to tailor the date range.

How You Compare

This section shows how your page stacks up against similar pages in your industry. This feature is one of the more unique features on LinkedIn.

Visitors Section

The final section of analytics information is the visitors section. In this section, you can garner valuable insight into what the people who are visiting your LinkedIn page are doing once they arrive there.

LinkedIn Company Page Analytics Visitors

Page Views

This graph displays the number of times your page was viewed over the given date range. The drop-down menu at the right allows you to adjust the date range of the graph.

Unique Visitors

Similar to page views, the unique visitors graph shows the number of unique visitors your page has received. This graph targets visitors by IP address and removes visitors who have visited your page before.

Career Page Clicks

Chances are, you won’t see any reporting for this section. LinkedIn gives you the option of creating a career page which can be a valuable recruiting tool for your business. However, the career page is a paid feature, and it’s far from cheap. But, it may be something to consider if a specific goal of your company page is to drive hiring efforts.

If you do have a paid career page, this section will show how many times visitors clicked the different elements of your career page.

Visitor Demographics

Similar to the demographic information provided in the followers section, this graph provides demographic data about all of the visitors of your page, not just the ones that follow you. Be sure to use this data to improve your general personas and marketing strategy.

Using the Data

LinkedIn provides all this valuable insight so that you can analyze, interpret and take action on it. Based on the data your page is returning, you’ll be able to learn more about your audience and their likes, dislikes, and interests. This data will allow you to tailor your posts further to make sure you’re serving your audience with the most engaging content possible.

Consider Advertising

LinkedIn advertising could be a great way to drive even more engagement with your most popular content. Based on the data you receive, your updates that are already receiving lots of engagement organically within the LinkedIn community make great candidates for promotion.

LinkedIn provides several advertising options for company pages. These options include traditional display advertising, sponsored inMail, and sponsored content updates. While display ads and sponsored inMail provide additional opportunities for you to grow your audience, you’ll be focusing on sponsored content updates in this case. If you do decide LinkedIn advertising is a smart option for you, you’ll find other tracking and conversion data at your fingertips to help refine your campaigns.

Tracking Conversions

The development team at LinkedIn makes it easy to integrate code into your website or landing pages. This code will allow you to receive more actionable data about the things that visitors referred by LinkedIn are doing on your site.

Refine and React

Let the data you’ve received from your LinkedIn dashboard, as well as your other tracking efforts, inform the decisions you make moving forward. As networks like LinkedIn continue to grow and evolve, companies wishing to keep up with that growth and continue to reach their audience must evolve as well. Tweak your content, your messaging and your goals as needed to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your presence on LinkedIn, and providing value to the members of LinkedIn who follow your page.

Next Steps

Go to LinkedIn and setup and/or revise your own LinkedIn page!

You might also be interested in –

Every week, I curate the best marketing guides from around the Internet into a single email with no more than 4 links. You can sign up here.

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E-newsletter #219 – The Oops I Missed An Edition, Edition

Why hey all! Prior to getting for this week’s studying, there’s a little bit of housekeeping. In March, I altered a couple of website settings and all messed up my email e-newsletter send triggers. That’s the reason a lot of you didn’t really receive editions #216 and #217.

Well, individuals editions are available. And they’ve some excellent studying. You’ll find E-newsletter #216 here. You’ll find E-newsletter #217 here.

Listed here are this week’s reads…

Do Links Matter in certain Verticals Greater Than Others?

Interesting idea from SiegeMedia. See clearly here…

Takeaway: Some search engine results do not have easily discernible winners from your engagement perspective since the answer requires a lengthy time for you to resolve, or might be balanced between multiple options and user intents. Because of this, links can be a bigger lever. Otherwise, links may matter pretty much with respect to the kind of query and just how brand, CTR Along with other signals enter into plat.

Facebook Ads CTR: 25 Recommendations For Skyrocketing Results

About 50 % of those are “meh” – however the partner are creative. Worth a scan. See clearly here…

Takeaway: Supplying more details in advance in your ads can help increase the right type of CTR (ie, the one which results in conversions).

15+ Suggestions for Using Search Analytics Better

I authored this a week ago as a result of several readers questions about exactly how I personally use Search Console’s tools. See clearly here…

Takeaway: Search Analytics is Search Console’s most in-depth tool. Utilize it like a first pause and identify issues, revise content and discover new ideas.

Calculating Content Success with GTM

Very advanced presentation on the internet Tag Manager. But – super-helpful if you’re interested in the upsides to switching to Google Tag Manager. See clearly here…

Takeaway: Google Tag Manager does not only consolidate your site tags. It makes a completely separate data layer where one can insert and track information – even when it isn’t really in your website.

This Week’s Sponsor

This week’s feature may be the book Smarter Faster Better: The Strategies of Being Productive in Existence and Business by Charles Duhigg. I finished studying it earlier this week – and recommend it. It is definitely probably the most practical books that I’ve read inside a a long time. It leans heavily around the science of performance & expertise, but is well-written with engaging anecdotes which make the concepts stick. Purchase it at Amazon . com.

Peace! You will find E-newsletter #216 here. You’ll find E-newsletter #217 here.

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