Posts by Alyson Shane

How to Use Hashtags Like a Pro Pt 2: How to Use Hashtags on Social Media

- by Alyson Shane

Do you wonder how to use hashtags on different social media networks?

Then you've come to the right place! In the second instalment of our "How to Use Hashtags Like a Pro" series, we'll cover:

  • How to use hashtags on Instagram
  • How to use hashtags on Twitter
  • How to use hashtags on LinkedIn
  • How to use hashtags on Pinterest
  • How to use hashtags on Facebook

How to use hashtags on Instagram

Hashtags may have started on Twitter, but they've become one of the most important ways to find and connect with others on Instagram.

Once you've figured out which hashtags to use (for more info on choosing the right hashtags, click here), keep these tips in mind:

  • Add hashtags in your post captions. Type the related hashtags into the caption section of the photo. Add your hashtags below the image caption whenever possible.
  • You can also add more hashtags in the comments if you'd like.

The maximum amount of hashtags you can add to an Instagram post is 30, though we don't recommend maxing out your hashtags every time you post.

If you want to use an aggressive hashtag strategy to help more people find and follow your account, go nuts - just don't post 30 hashtags with every post. 

Instead, space out the posts with lots of hashtags in-between posts with limited numbers of hashtags. This helps your content feel more authentic overall.

Using blended hashtags on Instagram

Here at Starling Social, we like to use a "blended" hashtag strategy to help our clients' content be seen by the maximum number of people. It works like this:

When choosing which hashtags to post, use a combination of popular and somewhat-popular hashtags (vs. focusing only on high-performing hashtags.)

This tactic helps your posts be seen by a large number of people right away. But because content gets buried quickly in the Timeline, those additional, less-popular hashtags will mean your posts will stick around at the top of those feeds for a lot longer.

For less-popular hashtags, we suggest choosing niche hashtags related to your brand or geo-location. These tend to be less popular by virtue of being more niche, but still allow you to connect your content with people who may be interested in seeing it.

How to use hashtags on Twitter

Twitter is the easiest place to get the hang of using hashtags.

You can get started by checking out the 'Trending' column on the right-hand side of your desktop view. This is a great way to stay on top of the hottest topics and trends.

You can add hashtags to your Tweet as you compose it, and as you write, Twitter will suggest hashtags based on what you've typed, like this:

This makes discovering new hashtags super easy!

As for where you should put your hashtags in your Tweet - the jury's still out on this one. Some brands love to embed hashtags into their Tweet text, like this:

But lately, we've been seeing lots of Tweets that are adding hashtags at the end of the post, which is an interesting way to keep followers focused on the content. Check it out:

Which way do you prefer? Tweet at us and let us know.

How to use hashtags on LinkedIn

Since LinkedIn is a professional network, the best hashtags are the ones that are content focused, or specific to a topic.

When writing an update from your LinkedIn homepage, you can add hashtags to your post by typing # and the combination of words/terms you'd like to use, or you can click on any of the suggested hashtags next to the the 'Add hashtag' button.

Like with other social networks, hashtag suggestions will pop up when you start writing your hashtag.

You can also add hashtags to articles you publish on LinkedIn. Just follow these steps:

  • Write your article.
  • Click 'Publish' in the top-right corner
    • A pop-up window will appear
  • In "Tell your network what your article is about" field, add text and hashtags to help readers find your article. 

The hashtags you choose won't show up in the article but can be found in the description that shows above your article on users' feeds.

Important: you can't edit, add, or remove hashtags after you've hit 'Publish' - so choose wisely!

How to use hashtags on Pinterest

Hashtags are an essential way for your Pins to be categorized and seen by the right people, so don't leave them out! Make sure to add them to your Pin descriptions whenever possible.

When adding hashtags on Pinterest, be specific and descriptive. Use hashtags that are closely related to the topic of the article you're Pinning, or your brand hashtag.

Related: we covered how to create a brand hashtag in part 1 of this series.

Like Instagram, make sure to add your hashtags at the end of your description. This helps keep your reader's attention focused on your content and prevents them from accidentally clicking away to a hashtag feed before they can click through to your website.

To add a hashtag on Pinterest, follow these steps:

  • Create your Pin and type "#" followed by a keyword or phrase in the description.
  • If you're Saving a Pin using the Share button, you'll see the suggested hashtags pop up as you're sharing.

Pinterest recommends adding no more than 20 hashtags per pin, but similar to Instagram we want to keep our "spammy" use of hashtags to a minimum. 

Ideally, try to use 4-8 high-quality hashtags per Pin.

How to use hashtags on Facebook

Despite being available for use since 2013, hashtags on Facebook have never really exploded in popularity. 

One reason is that most Facebook profiles are private, compared to other social networks like Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, which are public by default. People with private accounts can't be involved in public hashtag conversations, so their use is quite limited on the platform.

Another is that Facebook hasn't really promoted their use or published a lot of material on "best practices" to date - clearly it's not a priority.

Do hashtags work on Facebook?

There's a lot of conflicting information about whether or not hashtags increase or decrease your reach on Facebook, but generally they don't seem to have a net positive effect.

If you choose to use hashtags on Facebook, limit yourself to using one or two. Bonus points if one of them is your brand hashtag since this will help users see all the posts about your brand on Face.

How to use hashtags like a pro: conclusion

Hashtags are one of the most important ways to help new users discover your brand, and to engage in relevant and timely interactions with your followers. 

If you're just getting started with using hashtags, check out our first post in this two-part series, called How to Use Hashtags Like a Pro Part 1: The Basics for all you need to know.

Do you have a fav way to use hashtags in your social media marketing? Tweet it at us!

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How to Use Hashtags Like a Pro, Part 1: The Basics

- by Alyson Shane

Do you know how to use hashtags in your social media marketing?

Since they were introduced on Twitter in 2007, hashtags (also known as the “pound symbol” or “hash mark” aka # ) have become one of the most effective ways for brands to start, track, and participate in discussions.

If you’re looking for the definitive guide on using these essential marketing tools, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s dive right in:

What are hashtags?

Hashtags are a word, or group of words, preceded by a pound (#) sign that are used on social media to categorize and find conversations around a particular topic.  

These symbol/word groupings create clickable links to posts using the same hashtag. For example, if you search for #SocialMediaMarkteing on Twitter, you’ll discover thousands of posts using the hashtag that you can reply to and interact with.

While hashtags originally started on Twitter, nowadays they’re used on every major social network.

Why use hashtags?

Hashtags help brands get discovered online, and help them be a part of broader conversations around topics relevant to their industry.

Hashtags are also a great way to follow breaking news or tune into upcoming trends.  

How to find the best hashtags

There are a few ways to start discovering the hottest hashtags, including:

Hashtag tools

Hands-down one of the easiest ways to do your research. Here are some of our fav tools for the job:

Influencers in your industry

Think about it: if these hashtags work for the most successful brands and personalities in your industry, the chances are that they’ll work for you, too.

Check trending hashtags

Looking up popular hashtags in Twitter is easy: use the trending hashtags section!

If you find a hashtag relevant to your industry, jump on the trend to increase awareness about your brand!

Important: don’t use irrelevant hashtags to get attention; your audience will notice and this may damage your brand reputation.

Branded hashtags

A branded hashtag is precisely what it sounds like: a hashtag that can “group” your content together and make it easy to find. 

Best of all: you can make this one up all by yourself!

Types of branded hashtags to consider using include:

  • Your business name
  • Your business’ tagline, or mission statement
  • Promotion or campaign name

How to use hashtags properly

Remember: hashtags are a single word. There should never be any spaces in-between the words in your hashtag. Punctuation in your hashtag phrase will break the tag:

#Let’sTalkHousing (incorrect) vs. #LetsTalkHousing (correct)

Another good rule of thumb is to limit how many hashtags you use. Don’t #add #hashtags #to #every #word. Use them sparingly and strategically.

Of course, because each social network is different, how we use hashtags in our content will vary, as well. Keep reading for a list of hashtag do’s and don’ts below:

Hashtag Do’s

Follow these best practices to make sure you’re always using hashtags correctly: 

  • Follow and use hashtags related to your industry or business.
  • Check out the rules for hashtags on each social network. For example, Twitter focuses more on the topic, while Instagram hashtags are generally used to describe the post.
  • Be specific. Choose relevant and niche hashtags overbroad, general ones.

Hashtag Don’ts

  • Don’t use a hashtag without researching it first. Is the hashtag being used? If so, is it being used in the context you want to use it?
  • Don’t overdo it. Too many hashtags in a post looks desperate and spammy. Each social network has “best practices” around how many to use, but generally, you don’t want to use more hashtags than words in your post.
  • Keep your hashtags short. Overly long hashtags are hard to read, and often not very popular.

Start using hashtags in your social media marketing

Using hashtags in your ongoing social media marketing is an easy (and free!) way to connect with your audience, and help more of your ideal customers find your brand.

Use the tips outlined in this post to start using hashtags as part of your ongoing digital marketing strategy, and stay tuned for part two in this series “How to Use Hashtags on Social Media” where we break down hashtag do’s and don’ts by platform!

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5 Social Media Marketing Mistakes to Avoid in 2020

- by Alyson Shane

Are you planning to invest more time and resources into your business’ social media in 2020?

There’s a lot out there about what you should do in the coming year, and the marketing trends to keep in mind… but what about what not to do?

Just in time to start planning your next year’s marketing strategy, we’ve got a list of the top 5 mistakes to avoid. 

So dig in, take note, and start preparing for a successful year on social media:

1. Failing to plan your strategy

Here at Starling Social, we put our clients through a rigorous onboarding process that involves creating multiple, brand-specific documents like:

  • Audience/buyer personas
  • Copywriting style guide
  • Affiliates and competitors lists
  • Company info sheet
  • Content calendar
  • Social media master strategy document
  • How-to documents per social network and deliverable

This might seem excessive, but going through all this work beforehand means that we have a deep understanding of who our clients are before we begin posting on their behalf.

It also means that we can explain our reasoning to our clients, and refer back to agreed-upon documentation when making decisions or reviewing a process.

2. Not doing audience research

Spoiler alert: your audience isn’t “everyone.”

One of the reasons why we build audience personas is to develop a better understanding of exactly who we need to be talking to online.

This research matters because different demographics of people spend their time in different places online. For example, a B2B salesperson in their mid-40’s is more likely to be spending time on LinkedIn than Instagram. On the other hand, a millennial is much more likely to be spending time on Instagram than LinkedIn.

Audience research also helps you understand the specific pain points felt by different people who might want to buy from you. Having a deep understanding of their pain points and how your business solves them is critical for effective social media marketing.

Use our guide to building effective audience and buyer personas, and make sure you’re marketing to the right people in the right places.

3. Using engagement bots or buying followers

Some brands who feel anxious about their social media following may feel tempted to “invest” in tools that automatically like and comment on Instagram posts, or in purchasing followers to boost these numbers.

If this is something you’ve considered, we strongly suggest you reconsider. Here are two reasons why:

  • Fake engagement doesn’t build real relationships with your followers. People want to buy from brands they trust, and that means spending time showing them that you’re paying attention by doing the work of manually engaging with them.
  • Fake followers don’t help your business grow. Fake followers aren’t people who genuinely care about what you have to offer, which defeats the purpose of having them. Sure, having 20K followers might look great. Still, those 20K followers don’t have any value because they aren’t genuinely interested in buying what you have to sell.

We talked about how using engagement bots is against our company values in one of our older blog posts, which you can read here.

4. Posting on too many social media networks

The key to staying ahead of the competition on social media in 2020 is to identify the best social networks for your brand and to develop individual marketing strategies based on those platforms.

Spreading yourself too thin across too many social networks stretches your resources. It often leads to poor implementation of your social media marketing strategy.

Doing the audience/buyer persona research, we talked about earlier is critical to determining the best places to spend your time. Once you’ve identified the top 3-4 social networks, focus on developing unique and exciting marketing messaging for each one and hone as you go.

5. Ignoring LinkedIn and Pinterest

We’ve seen a resurgence on LinkedIn throughout 2019, and this momentum appears to be building as we move into 2020.

40% of monthly active users use LinkedIn every day. People using LinkedIn typically use the platform to find new and relevant content, which makes them more receptive to anything you may be sharing.

Pinterest is a unique social network because it acts more like a search engine than other social media networks. Even better: pins on Pinterest can continue to drive traffic to your website for years after your initial pin.

Avoid these social media marketing mistakes in 2020

Building a social media presence that generates awareness about your brand and grows your business takes concerted time and effort.

By keeping these mistakes in mind, you can avoid some of the pitfalls marketers find themselves in, and create a lasting, positive impression about your brand in the minds of your followers.

So what are you waiting for? Start planning and get posting!

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Want help developing a social media marketing strategy that gets results for your business? Drop us a line and let us know how we can help.


 

E-Commerce Strategies for in 2020 and Beyond

- by Alyson Shane

People don’t just buy online anymore; they now do their shopping online, as well.

To stand out on social media, brands need to understand how to create opportunities for discovery and joy.

Think about how you feel when you find a fancy new cheese at the grocery store, or when you see the perfect outfit hanging in a storefront window. That endorphin rush makes us feel good about our purchase, which leads to a better customer experience.

This shift means brands need to focus on the discovery process, creating online shopping experiences that feel unexpected and exciting.

Make sure your e-commerce and marketing goals align

Many companies have their e-commerce and marketing departments working separately, with little collaboration or communication.

On the surface, this makes sense: marketers measure their success by engagement, and track key performance indicators (KPIs) like reach, link clicks, comments, and reshares.

E-commerce teams, on the other hand, care exclusively about the percentage of visitors who buy something.

By combining efforts, these two teams can learn from each other’s KPIs to understand buyer intent and behaviour.

Collaboration between these two teams can also reveal things like:

  • Intent to buy. Did they click on the Shoppable post to buy, or to see the rest of the company’s products?
  • Most popular content. There is often a difference between the content that’s hottest on social media, and the items that are viewed/purchased most on the e-commerce store.
  • Where to funnel the hype. If an item is selling like crazy on the website, then the marketing team can use that information to promote it on social media and keep the hype going.

Tell stories that help customers discover products

Telling stories that feature your products helps your customers picture themselves using them in their day-to-day lives.

Take a set of new dishes, for example. There’s nothing all that glamorous about plates and bowls, right? But if your customer sees them as part of a beautiful tablescape, or being passed across the table at the holidays, it helps them picture themselves using it in similar situations.

Brands that publish interesting and fun content showing how to use their products have an even better chance at creating a lasting connection with their customers.

For example, the company selling plates and dishes could publish recipes or how-tos on the perfect tabletop presentation. This kind of content helps your customers feel empowered and excited - both emotions that are strongly associated with conversion.

Make community part of the discovery process

Creating real, lasting connections with your customers requires creating a community that they can be a part of.

If you run a retail e-commerce store, for example, encourage your customers to share their purchases online, but also on your website.

Having “real world” examples from other customers creates a sense of community, and confidence in your brand.

By encouraging users to share their photos and engage with one another, you can start to craft your e-commerce website as a place to meet other like-minded people, not just to complete a purchase and click away.

The changing shopping experience

Shifting to a “discovery” focused model of inspirational shopping and aligning your marketing and e-commerce teams allows you to combine content and community to create a seamless shopping experience for your customers.

Creating a seamless shopping experience that transitions from social media to the website is essential, but it’s just as important to foster a sense of community among your customers.

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Looking to work with a team who can help you connect with new customers and grow your business? Drop us a line.


 

4 Research Tips to Plan and Create Personalized Social Media Content

- by Alyson Shane

In a recent workshop with The Kinship Studio, we covered the importance of personalized content and how it can increase leads and sales by making your social media content more engaging.

Today we’re going to expand on some of the tips we shared with the class - let's dive right in:

What is Personalized Marketing?

Personalized marketing is the process of using data and analysis to deliver personalized content that is tailored to specific members of your target audience.

In fact, you’ve probably encountered this form of marketing before: have you ever received a “cart abandon” email encouraging you to complete a purchase? That’s personalized content.

Another form of personalized marketing is dynamic website content. 

This type of personalized content will change to reflect the person’s browsing or purchasing behavior, or will change languages and stock items (for example) based on where the person is located.

What Are the Benefits of Personalized Marketing?

Some of the potential benefits of using personalization in your social media marketing include:

  • Generate more customers and leads
  • Create a sense of trust and familiarity with your customers
  • Increased customer engagement
  • Encourage content sharing
  • Improve social media relevance (and lower ad costs)
  • Increase brand awareness

Now that we’ve covered the benefits of personalizing your content, it’s time to dig into where we find all that customer data from in the first place:

Source 1: Review Your Buyer Personas

Buyer personas are an essential part of your marketing strategy because they help you identify specific, unique characteristics of different customer types.

They can help you understand things like:

  • Age, gender, and geographic location
  • Where they spend their time online
  • Which devices they use (mobile, tablet, etc)
  • The topics that interest them
  • The influencers they follow and engage with

We’ve talked a lot about the importance of having buyer personas in an earlier post. If you’ve never created one, check out our handy guide (with free template!) to start building yours.

Source 2: Twitter Analytics

Twitter Analytics is a treasure trove of information about the people that follow you!

Check out your followers and note the following areas:

  • Their interests (broad topics like comedy, weather, and technology)
  • The devices they use to sign in and their wireless carrier
  • Their household income status and net worth
  • Their marital status

By exploring the various tabs (Overview, Demographics, Lifestyle Behaviour, Consumer Behavior, and Mobile Footprint) you can develop a deeper understanding of how your Twitter users behave.

But you’re not done yet. Next up...

Source 3: Facebook Audience Insights

Another great place to get a better understanding of your audience is Facebook Audience Insights. 

Find it by opening Ads Manager, then clicking All Tools > Audience Insights.

Facebook will ask you to choose between studying everyone on Facebook, or just people connected to your page. Unless you have a giant following, select ‘Everyone on Facebook.’ 

Use the information you learned when looking through your Twitter Insights to inform your research. For example, you can look up people with this kind of criteria:

  • 30-55 years old
  • Located in the U.S.
  • All genders
  • Interested in Business
  • In CEO or President positions

Once you’ve set up your search, Facebook will show you in-depth information about your audience. Here, you can find things like:

  • Which Facebook pages this audience likes
  • Where they live
  • Which devices they use
  • Their job titles
  • The industry they work in
  • And lots more!

Source 4: Look at Your Email List

The key to building an email list that helps you understand your audience is to offer lots of ways for people to subscribe. Some ways to do this include:

  • CTA buttons or embedded text encouraging readers to subscribe
  • Images that pop-up or slide-in on your landing pages
  • Posts about your email newsletter on your social media channels
  • Varied gated content (PDFs and resources that can be accessed in exchange for an email)

Different options help you understand people’s motivations for subscribing in more detail. 

Once someone has subscribed, you can track the links in the email you sent them, see if they opened your email, and more. 

Use a Social Listening Tool

A social listening tool is a must-have for the type of ongoing audience research needed to excel at personalized content. 

Social listening tools typically offer multiple filtering options and in-depth analytics, and allow you to stay on top of any brand mentions online.

Some of the best tools out there (depending on your budget) are:

Brand24: 14-day free trial, Pro $49/month, Premium $99/month, Max $399/month

Buzzsumo: Pro $79/mo, Plus $139/mo, Large $239/mo, Enterprise $499/mo

Sprout Social: Standard $99/user/mo, Professional $149/user/mo, Advanced $249/user/mo

Brandwatch: Custom pricing

Hootsuite Insights: Custom pricing

Start Researching Your Personalized Content Today

There’s no better time to start understanding your audience and speaking more directly to how your company solves their problems. 

Delivering personalized content to your customers will help you see a higher return on investment (ROI) in your marketing efforts, and creates a more connective experience for your audience.

Do you have research tips to share? Tweet 'em at us! You can also subscribe to our weekly newsletter for news, resources, and the digital marketing news you need by clicking here.


 

How to Use Facebook Carousel Ads to Increase ROI

- by Alyson Shane

Have you ever used a Facebook Carousel Ad?

Carousel Ads have been around since 2014, but many businesses still avoid using them because they're not sure how to use them effectively.

In this article, we'll discuss what a Carousel Ad is, why they work, and how to create your own Facebook Carousel Ads that increase your return on investment (ROI).

What's a Facebook Carousel Ad?

Carousel Ads let you showcase 2-10 images or videos within one ad, which allows you to tell a story and connect with your audience in a more meaningful way.

Carousel Ads are incredibly effective, earning an average of 30-50% lower cost per conversion, 20-30% lower cost-per-click, and much higher engagement rates than the average single-image ad.

The best part? Carousel Ads don't cost extra. So start experimenting!

Why should you use Facebook Carousel Ads?

This ad format is great for a variety of purposes, including:

  • Telling your business' story.
  • Highlighting multiple products or services.
  • Sharing more information about a specific topic.
  • Promoting events.
  • Explaining benefits or processes.

Facebook Carousel Best Practices

Stuck on how to tell a compelling story in your carousel cards? Use these tips as inspiration:

Focus on the creative

The image or video you use for your carousel will determine how effective it is, so choose images or video that have a similar look and feel to each other.

Creative that doesn't match, or doesn't tell a story, feels especially disjointed in the Carousel Ad format, so spend time developing swipe-worthy creative assets.

Use every part of the ad

Don't neglect elements like your headline, description, and call-to-action.

Make sure your ad copy matches your business' tone, and A/B test different elements so see which combination yields the best results.

Tell a story in your carousel

Carousels are great because they can tell a story.

You can choose to reveal parts of your story as the user swipes through each individual image, reveal something in the second image that was hidden in the first one, create panoramic images that span 4 - 5 images... the options are really limitless!

Creating "stories" is useful to keep users engaged and swiping, and can be a great way to reveal new products, ideas, or services.

The key here is creativity - experiment and don't be afraid to try new things.

Optimize the order of your carousel cards

Facebook offers the option to replace the first image that shows in your carousel with a higher-performing image, which can be a great way to improve your campaign performance.

Important: only try this if you aren't doing a story-style carousel. Otherwise it may mess up the order of your images.

Facebook Carousel Ad Specs

You can create Carousel Ads in two places:

  • On your page. If you only have one URL you'd like to use.
  • In Ads Manager. If you want each carousel card to link to a different URL.

Before you set up your ad, make sure you have the following assets in place to set up your campaign:

Design requirements:

  • Minimum # cards: 2
  • Max # of cards: 10
  • Image file type: jpg or png
  • Max video file size: 4GB
  • Max video length: 240 minutes
  • Video file type: MP4 or MOV are best
  • Recommended resolution: 1080 x 1080px at least
  • Recommended ratio: 1:1Text: 125 characters
  • Headline: 40 characters
  • Link description: 20 characters

Important: images with more than 20% text may experience reduced delivery, so keep your images as text-free as you can.

Get started with Carousel Ads

Experimenting with this fun and versatile ad option is a great way to stretch your ad dollars and experiment with different, more engaging forms of brand storytelling in your ads.

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Saying goodbye to Cokie Roberts

- by Alyson Shane

Hey, it's Alyson here.

I'd originally published the text below as a post on our Instagram profile, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted Cokie's importance in my life to be reflected here, on the blog of a company that probably wouldn't exist without her influence.

Below is what I said:


Image via Wikipedia.

Before I got my start in Comms, I wanted to be a journalist. I looked up to female public broadcasters like Cokie Roberts and Nina Totenberg, whose voices and important reporting stood out in a male-dominated industry. ⠀

Hearing them on the radio and seeing them on TV growing up made a lasting impact on what I thought I, as a woman, could achieve professionally. ⠀

Even though I eventually decided journalism wasn't for me, it was the influence of women like Cokie that helped push me to pursue a degree in Rhetoric, Writing & Communications.⠀

I listen to "Up First" on NPR every morning, and the hosts were discussing Cokie's influence in their lives. They shared what a kind, caring friend Cokie was; how she went out of her way to let her colleagues know that she respected and admired the work they did; and how her determination and commitment to her work inspired all of them.⠀

Those are the kinds of qualities I try to embody through my work, and what I do each day.⠀

I'm so lucky to work with powerhouse women like Alicia, Hannah, Joy, Kristen, and Kira, and even though we work remotely I hope they know I appreciate all the hard work they do for Starling Social, and for our clients.

Thank you for setting me down this path, Cokie. I'll always admire your persistence, insight, and sense of humour, and I'll miss hearing you on the radio. NPR just won't be the same without you.⠀

---

If this resonated with you, take a moment to thank someone who's made an impact on your life! They deserve to hear it. Thanks for reading!

Tags: Culture

 

How to Build a High-Converting FAQ Page

- by Alyson Shane

Wondering how to create a high-converting FAQ page for your website? 

It's easier than you think!

This under-valued page can serve as one of the fastest ways to move potential customers through your conversion funnel. After all: anyone who's landed on this page has already shown that they're looking for more information about your business - meaning they've moved to the consideration phase of the purchase process.

Now, your FAQ page can give them the info they need to finalize their buying decision.

Many businesses don't use FAQ pages effectively, or add them as an afterthought to their website as a way of fielding potential customer service calls. 

In this post we'll show you how to build an FAQ page that drives conversions:

What Do FAQ Pages Need?

FAQ pages need to have a purpose.

Don't just add one because you feel like you should have one, or because you're trying to create more pages on your website. Bad FAQ pages can drive visitors away from your website, muddle your marketing messaging, and damage your brand's reputation.

Below are some of the must-haves for your FAQ page:

Relevant Questions

Remember: your FAQ page is where your customers look for answers to their questions, so make this page about them.

Leave information like your company history, how many employees you have, etc. to your About Us page. Irrelevant questions keep readers from finding the answers they're looking for, which can make them frustrated and angry.

How to Find Questions for FAQ Pages

Still not sure how to ask the "right" questions on your FAQ page?

Just take a look at what your customers are saying! Take some time to review comments and questions from:

  • Phone support.
  • Submission forms.
  • Customer emails
  • Social media comments and direct messages.
  • Live chat.
  • Sales meetings.

Use a spreadsheet or a tool like this one HubSpot offers to keep track of all questions and customer feedback. The topics and questions that come up the most often are the ones you should address on your FAQ page.

Simple Navigation

Don't make people hunt for answers on your website. 

Your FAQ page should be where they can have their questions answered. If your visitors can't find the answers they're looking for, then your FAQ page is failing you.

If you have a ton of documentation, like a lot of SaaS (software-as-a-service) companies do, then consider using Buffer's FAQ page as inspiration to keep your answers organized:


Image via Buffer

This page has a simple, basic design that helps direct visitors to a number of topics. It's a really clever way to "silo" lots of information for data-heavy services!

Even if the visitor has lots of questions, they can still easily find the answers they're looking for.

Short Answers

Use the K.I.S.S. methodology: Keep It Simple and Strong.

Keep your FAQ answers short and concise, and avoid in-depth answers and explanations whenever possible. Keep those long-form explanations for blog posts (like this one).

Shopify has a great example of an FAQ page that doesn't use a search bar. There aren't a ton of questions (just 14 total) so visitors probably don't need to search to find a specific answer.

Image via Shopify

All you need to do is click on one of the four left-hand topics, or just scroll down to see all the answers on one page.

Search Bar (When Needed)

The easiest way to help visitors find what they're looking for when your FAQ page has a lot of questions that need to be answered is to install a search bar.

Customers usually come to an FAQ page with a particular question in mind and don't want to scroll through dozens (or even hundreds) of other questions to find what they're looking for.

Installing a search bar empowers visitors to find the answer they're looking for, and has an added advantage of allowing you to track their search queries.

Which brings us to our next point...

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

FAQ pages are a great way to inject a little extra SEO (Search Engine Optimization) into your customer service experience.

Most businesses build FAQ pages with the assumption that a visitor will arrive there after looking around the website and seeing something that leads them to the FAQ page.

However, you can also build your FAQ page to attract traffic directly from search engines.

You can do this by framing your question in a way that isn't exclusive to a product or service you offer. 

Extra Support (When Needed)

Sometimes, your FAQ page just isn't enough.

If it's going to take a little extra work to get some visitors to convert, that's OK. Just make sure that they know the option for more support is available to them. 

We love how Samsung approaches their FAQ page:


Image via Samsung

Samsung is a huge company, so it makes sense that their FAQ page has lots of information available when you first arrive.

But if you don't do anything for a few seconds (maybe you're overwhelmed with the choices) a pop-up window appears promoting a live chat session.

This is a much better approach than expecting the visitor to click around and find the support page they're looking for, or hoping they read multiple articles looking for their solution.

This extra effort of connecting your customer with the information they're looking for will go a long way, trust us.

Conclusion

FAQ pages are important resources for your customers - don't neglect them!

People visiting these pages are on the verge of converting, and sometimes all it takes is the answer to a question to help them decide to buy.

By building FAQ pages that are customer-centric, optimized for SEO, and easy to navigate, and watch your conversions roll in.

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Everything You Need to Know About Podcast Advertising

- by Alyson Shane

Are you trying to figure out if podcast advertising is right for your business?

Podcasts have become insanely popular these last few years. Over 1/2 of all Americans have listened to one, and nearly 1 in 3 people listen to at least one podcast every month.

Last year, it was more like one in four.

As a result, businesses are projected to spend over $500 million on podcast ads by 2020.

Why? Because 75% of podcast listeners actively listen to podcast ads, and are likely to follow a specific call-to-action after hearing it.

In this post, we'll cover the basics of podcasting, and share the key things to consider when planning your podcast advertising strategy.


Podcasting Terminology 101

If you're fresh to the world of podcasting, here are a few key terms you need to know before we dive in:

  • Pre-roll: an ad that plays at the start of the podcast.
  • Mid-roll: an ad that plays in the middle.
  • Outro: an ad that (wait for it) plays a final call to action before the podcast ends.
  • Offer code: a code included in your call-to-action to track where signups, downloads, or purchases come from.
  • Native ads: ads hosts read as part of the natural flow of their shows. 
  • Direct response: URL or offer codes for podcasts that can be tracked. 
  • Cost per Mille (CPM): how to measure the ad expense per 1000 podcast listens.
  • Cost per Acquisition (CPA): how to measure how much it costs you to acquire a new customer through an ad.

How to Find the Right Podcasts for Advertising

Think Like Your Customers

Before you invest in a podcast ad, think about the kinds of people who are most likely to become your customers. This is a great time to break out your buyer personas, but if you don't have any, ask yourself some of these questions:

  • Am I advertising to men, women, or both? What are the demographics of my ideal customer (age, income, spending habits)?
  • What are the demographics of my ideal customer (age, income, spending habits)? 
  • What do the podcast hosts have in common with your customers?

Get Real Endorsements from Podcast Hosts

One of the best things about podcast advertising is you can offer samples of your products or free use of your services to the hosts themselves.

Samples create the opportunity for hosts to give a real, honest testimonial about how your company improved their life. These testimonials sound honest because they are honest.

They're why 38% of people who listen to podcasts have reported buying products or services mentioned on podcasts.

Choose Your Podcast Ad Type

There are two categories of podcast ads, which are:

Dynamically Inserted Ads: Ads inserted into a podcast after recording. These ads change depending on when the podcast is played, among other factors.

Dynamically inserted ads are great for targeting specific listeners with a standalone ad that can be tracked and measured.

Baked In Ads: As the name suggests, a baked in ad is read live by the podcast host and isn't inserted after the podcast has been recorded. Everyone who downloads the podcast hears the same ad.

These ads create a more organic feel, but can be difficult to track due to a lack of targeting.

Dynamic ads are a great way to A/B test two versions of your ad messaging with the same audience. These are also better for time-sensitive specials and offers, since you'll want to swap them out with different ads after.

Deciding How Much to Spend on Podcast Ads

Before you start spending, ask yourself these questions:

  • What's my goal and how will I track it? (eg: signups, downloads, calls) 
  • What is my total budget?

Not sure how to calculate a podcast advertising budget? Think about is this way:

According to AdvertiseCast, and the average industry rates for podcasting are:

  • $22 for a 30-second ad CPM 
  • $26 for a 60-second ad CPM

Your CPM goes up depending on how many people listen to the podcast, so if you're hoping to buy a 60-second spot you can expect to pay around $1500 to advertise on a podcast that has 10,000 listeners.


Though some podcasters charge a flat fee, most use either a CPA or CPM formula to set their rates. 

For example, if a podcaster's CPM is $30, you'll pay $30 for every thousand unique downloads of the episode where your ad plays. If the podcast has 10,000 listens per episode, your CPM will be $300 per episode.

As a result, advertising on smaller, niche podcasts is great if you're just getting started.

Use the formula above as a reference to determine how much you can afford per episode of each podcast you'd like to advertise on.

Measure + Track Ad ROI

There are a few ways to track how well your podcast ad is performing, including:

Custom URLs: Include a custom URL in your ad that's easy to remember, and directs visitors to a custom landing page designed specifically for the ad campaign.

Promo Codes: Include a promo code for listeners can use when they complete a purchase on your website. You can use multiple promo codes to track different ad campaigns at the same time.

Surveys: Ask buyers or subscribers how they heard about you at checkout, or in a capture form.

Start Small and Experiment

The best way to start podcast advertising is by experimenting with modest budgets. Find smaller, niche podcasts about topics your customers care about first.

Begin with a few tests to understand works, and what doesn't, and don't be afraid to try something different. 

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The Starling Social team is growing again!

- by Alyson Shane


Recently (okay, in July, it's been a busy summer) Kira Pearson joined the team as our newest Account Manager.

Kira brings together creativity and business in an impactful way. With her Bachelor of Commerce Degree, experience in digital marketing, and love of social media, she truly brings our clients social media to life.

Please join us in welcoming Kira to the team!


 

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