Tagged: Marketing Basics
- by Alyson Shane
Hey there! This post was originally published on December 2017, but has been updated as recently as September 2020.
Are you looking to connect with more customers and increase leads for your business?
Are you wondering how to use Facebook Audiences to create Custom Lookalike Audiences?
This post will be your guide! In our first post about Facebook Custom Audiences we shared how to choose the right Custom Audiences for your Facebook ads, but this one will go into one of the most powerful tools at your disposal when you use Facebook Ads: Facebook Lookalike Audiences.
What Are Facebook Lookalike Audiences
Lookalike Audiences are audiences created from the profile data you've previously uploaded when creating your Custom Audiences.
Facebook will use the profile data from these audiences to create a new list of Facebook users who share similar demographics and interests. This is a super-reliable way to optimize your campaign targeting and make sure that you're not just re-targeting the same people from previous campaigns.
Lookalike Audiences allow you to take a relatively small sample size (10,000 customers, for example) and create "lookalike" audiences comprised of hundreds of thousands of people.
Before we get started, you'll need to have the following prepared and in-hand:
- Access to your customer lists (emails or phone numbers), usually pulled from a system like MailChimp, or Shopify for our e-commerce friends.
- Facebook Conversion Pixels set up on the pages you want to track results for.
- The visual assets, headline and ad copy that you want to test*.
* We recommend using at least 2-3 of each, which will allow you to test how different combinations of words and text perform with your audience.
Let's get started!
1. Open your Business Manager and click on the "Audiences" option under your Assets column.
2. Select 'Custom Lookalike Audience' from the drop-down "Create Audience" menu.
3. Select the Audience Size you'd like to target. We recommend creating two versions of the same custom audience: one at 1% and 3%, which will allow you to target users who most closely match your original Custom Audience, as well as a broader audience of users who may not be as close a "match" as the 1%.
4. Click "Create Audience" and wait while Facebook matches users and populates your new list.
5. Once this process is complete (it may take a few minutes) open up your Power Editor and begin setting up your Ads as you normally would. When setting up your targeting, just select your new Lookalike Audience from the drop-down menu:
... and that's it! Now you can take your visual and content assets and begin setting up your Facebook Ads like you normally would.
Using Lookalike Audiences to Increase Sales
Now that you've learned how to create your own Facebook Lookalike Audience, it's time to begin using it to drive conversions... starting now!
Here are a few ways you can leverage the power of your audience:
Grow Your Facebook Page
One of the easiest ways to grow your Facebook Page is to target one of your Lookalike audiences. This allows you to save time and takes the guesswork out of targeting new users who may not have interacted with your page before.
Increase Sales for Your E-Commerce Store
If you run an e-commerce store you can set up Facebook Ads that deliver to your Lookalike Audience which sends them directly to your website to start buying.
For example, if you have a women's wear section on your website you can create a Custom Audience of only women, then you can use Lookalike audiences to deliver ads to women who closely match interests or demographics of the women who have completed a purchase.
Increase Subscribers, Signups, and Get Leads
The fastest way to turn a lead into a customer is to increase the amount of interactions they have with your brand. Examples of "interactions" can include:
- Answering a survey
- Filling out a form
- Subscribing to a mailing list
- Downloading a piece of content
This tactic is similar to what an e-commerce website would do: upload a Custom Audience, create the Lookalike Audience, and then send people directly to a landing page on your website specifically set up to encourage them to take the action you want them to take.
Now that you know how to set up and use Facebook Lookalike Audiences, it's time to start implementing them as a routine part of your Facebook Ad strategy. If you still have questions, drop us a line or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram. We're always happy to chat.
- by Alyson Shane
Do you want to learn how to price your services so customers click on your preferred pricing plan? Have you struggled to drive customers towards the option you want them to select?
Then you've come to the right place! This article explores the psychology behind consumer marketing, and uses research and examples to show you how to price your products and services to drive consumer behaviour.
Why is understanding consumer psychology important?
Knowing why consumers choose one option over another helps us make more informed decisions about our pricing.
Being strategic in our pricing doesn't only improve conversions! Understanding the psychology behind pricing allows us to create positive experiences for our customers, which helps them feel happy about their decision to buy.
How can we help our customers feel this way while buying from us? Keep reading to find out:
The Decoy Effect, aka Asymmetric Dominance
"The Decoy Effect" describes our tendency to change our preference between two options when presented with a third, less enticing option.
The third option, known as the “decoy”, uses asymmetric dominance to push customers to choose between one of the two better options.
What is Asymmetric Dominance?
Asymmetric dominance means that the decoy is priced to make one of the other three options more attractive.
The decoy is “dominated” in terms of perceived value (price, quality, quantity, features, etc.) and isn’t actually intended to sell.
The decoy exists only to nudge customers away from the “competitor” and towards the “target” (usually the most profitable option.)
Real-life examples of The Decoy Effect
One of the most popular examples of The Decoy Effect comes from the researcher Dan Ariely. In 2009 he ran a study that analyzed the pricing options for The Economist with 100 MIT students.
In one scenario, he gave students the option between a web-only subscription or a print-only option for twice the price.
Not surprisingly, 68% chose the cheaper, web-only option.
When given a third option - a web-and-print subscription for the same price as the print-only option, just 16% chose the cheaper option.
Instead, 84% opted for the combined version because they perceived it as a better value.
In the second scenario, the print-only option became the decoy and the combined option became the target.
Here's a video of him explaining how the study worked:
Another example of The Decoy Effect is an experiment by National Geographic to see if they could encourage customers to buy a large popcorn over other sizes.
They started with a small bucket of popcorn for $3, and a large bucket for $7.
The initial choice showed that most people bought the bucket of small popcorn.
When they added third, “decoy” option - a medium popcorn for $6.50 - most people chose the large bucket because they viewed it as being a better value.
In their test the medium bucket was asymmetrically dominated by the large one, so customers chose the more expensive option.
The Decoy Effect takeaway
Using decoys takes the guesswork out of selecting the option that has the most value.
Adding a decoy that you don't expect to sell may seem counter-intuitive, but an option that makes the others look better empowers your customers.
Decoys make customers feel like they're getting a "good deal" by choosing the asymmetrically dominant option.
Protip: don’t be afraid to experiment with different decoys to test which comparisons yield the results you’re looking for!
Anchoring Bias describes people’s tendency to use the first piece of information they get as a reference point when comparing related items.
Again, researcher Dan Ariely is one of the leading voices on this subject. In his TEDTalk, he describes research for his book Predictably Irrational, which confirmed that we assess and compare items based on the first piece of information we're exposed to, known as the “anchor.”
Real-life examples of Anchoring Bias
Anchoring Bias in retail pricing
This is one of the oldest tricks in the book: cross out the retail price and show your price beside it. If you make handcrafted items, like jewelry or pottery, provide a range for retail price instead ($150 - $200).
Anchoring Bias in Pricing Services
If your business provides a service, use the same strategy listed above on your pricing page, but list the typical cost of the service instead.
Anchoring Bias in competitor price comparisons
Some businesses may want to consider showing their competitor’s prices for comparison. This tactic only works when
1) your price is actually lower, and
2) the comparison highlights extra benefits so your customer isn’t focused only on the price
But, beware: we don’t advocate pitting yourself against another competing company. Not only could they respond in kind, but aggressive tactics might turn off some customers.
Anchoring Bias in price comparisons
Create strategic price comparisons for your products and services to “anchor” the package you want to be the most popular in the middle.
You probably know what you want your ideal price for your product or service to be, so create a package that includes its features and benefits. Then, set this package in the middle of two other features.
On the left: create a slightly cheaper “base bones” package with very limited features.
On the right: create a much more expensive package with few extra features.
Placing your ideal option in the middle "anchors" it in the center, so anyone looking at it will subconsciously compare the other two options against it.
When done properly, most customers will naturally opt for the middle option because it appears cheap and offers the most value.
Anchoring Bias takeaway
The first thing we see sets the tone for how we assess related items, so set the stage for your ideal price by “anchoring” it against less valuable options.
Use visual tricks like crossing out retail pricing and strategically arranging packages to guide your customers to click on the option you want.
Protip: right-align your prices. Studies have shown that customers perceive a bigger discount when the sale price is positioned to the right of the original price.
The Paradox of Choice
The Paradox of Choice describes the psychological phenomenon that makes us feel overwhelmed by too many choices.
This is why many of us feel "analysis paralysis" when trying to choose between a lot of options.
When we have only a handful of options in front of us, we feel confident and less anxious about our choices.
Real-life examples of The Paradox of Choice
The most famous example of this paradox is the “Famous Jam Study” set up by researchers at Stanford and Columbia University.
Researchers set up two sampling stations at real-life supermarkets, one with 24 jam flavours, and one with six options.
They found that while more people stopped to sample at the station with 24 flavours, only 3% of shoppers made a purchase.
The table with six jams had fewer shoppers stopping to sample, but a whopping 30% of those who did purchase at least one jar of jam - a 900% increase!
The table with fewer options obviously outperformed the table with more options - but why?
The researchers found that the larger selection overwhelmed shoppers to the point where they weren’t able to make a decision they felt confident in… and so they made no decision at all.
The Paradox of Choice takeaway
Fewer choices reduce purchase anxiety and make the buying decision easier, so don’t overwhelm your customers with a bunch of overwhelming options.
Protip: use call-to-action statements like “Best value!” and “Customer Favourite” to help customers feel even more confident in their purchasing decision.
“Three Charms, Four Alarms”
Research shows that repeating a phrase three times makes it seem more true, but repeating it four times or more starts to make people feel skeptical.
To determine this, researchers Shu & Carlson asked participants to read about five items, each with a range of 1-6 positive claims about it. Their results found overwhelmingly that repeating a phrase three times makes it sound more trustworthy and true.
Specifically, the study also found that repeating the same claim four or more times reduced how trustworthy the participants rated the statement, while fewer repetitions “charmed” participants every time.
Real-life examples of “Three Charms, Four Alarms”
Finding examples of this principle in real life is actually pretty easy: most SaaS companies use this tactic to make their customers feel more comfortable and confident in their purchasing decision.
For reference, let’s compare a few different pricing pages:
Buffer’s pricing page has a lot going on, including calls-to-action, highlights text, and extra details to help customers feel more confident in their purchase - but you’ll note that there are only three options, not four.
We can see the same strategy applied to Sprout Social’s pricing options:
Like Buffer, there’s a lot going on here - but it doesn’t feel as overwhelming because we’re only comparing three options.
Now, let’s compare Salesforce’s pricing page:
There are a lot of the same psychological factors at play in these three examples, but according to research the additional option on this Salesforce pricing page actually damages conversions overall by reducing customer confidence.
So why would Salesforce offer four options instead of three? We can’t know exactly why, but a guess would be that they’re testing various pricing decoys in order to promote the $150/month plan.
“Three Charms, Four Alarms” takeaway
Limit the number of choices to three whenever possible. Avoid two, or even one option, as binary choices can feel limiting to potential customers and a single “take it or leave it” option also doesn’t leave them feeling empowered and excited to buy.
Protip: use the “three charms, four alarms” trick in your marketing copy as well. Never miss out on a chance to create a sense of trust with your customers!
How to build your pricing plan
Now that we’ve covered the consumer psychology behind it, putting together a pricing plan that (gently) encourages customers towards our preferred option is easy. Just follow these steps:
- Include a “decoy” option. Use asymmetric dominance to price your decoy option so it makes one of your other options more attractive.
- “Anchor” your customer’s expectations. Use visual tricks like crossing out text and strategically arranging packages on your pricing page.
- Remember the “Paradox of Choice.” Don’t overwhelm customers by offering so many options that they feel too overwhelmed to make a choice.
- Use the “Three Charms, Four Alarms” rule. Research shows that three options build trust, while four or more options decrease trust - so include three pricing options!
Start building your pricing plan today
Using strategy and data to build a pricing plan that drives the sales you want and makes customers feel great about their choice is exactly the kind of thinking that helps businesses grow and thrive.
If you’re ready to start bringing strategy and clarity to your digital marketing, drop us a line and let’s chat.
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- by Alyson Shane
Facebook and Instagram are more popular with advertisers than ever before, which means the marketplace is becoming more crowded and acquisition costs are going up.
Most of our clients run Facebook and Instagram ad campaigns, and even within the past few years we’ve witnessed a steep increase in the cost-per-click: in 2020, the median CPC for Facebook ads is $0.72, up from $0.53 from the same time in 2018.
To stay competitive businesses need to stay up-to-date with the latest strategies, which is what this post is for. Let’s dive right in:
What is Facebook CPC?
CPC stands for Cost-per-Click.
CPC is how much you pay for each click on your Facebook or Instagram ad. Choosing to optimize for CPC with your ads will prioritize getting as much traffic to your website as possible.
Understanding Audience Sizes
As a rule, the smaller and narrower your audience is, the more competitive your bid will need to be. If you’re noticing that your CPCs are really high, check your audience size and see if there are any additional elements you can add to broaden your targeting.
Casting a wider net with your ads help reduce competition for your ads, which means your CPCs will be lower. This is a great tactic for more mature ad accounts who may be struggling to see a continued return on investment (ROI) on their ads.
Understanding Account Structure and Segmentation
Ads run across a variety of locations within Facebook, from the News Feed to Messenger, to Instagram feeds and Stories.
When we add segmentations like geographies or specific placements, the audience pool becomes more restricted and businesses may lose out on the chance to display their ads somewhere that would generate a lot of clicks.
Understanding Campaign Budget Optimization
Facebook recently announced that ad set budgets will be going away in favour of campaign budget optimization, which uses machine learning to automatically serve ads to your target audience based on predictive analysis.
Facebook’s algorithm prioritizes volume (the maximum number of eyeballs it can get on your ad) over conversion, so having larger audiences is ideal.
Combining multiple, smaller audiences with similar size or reach potential helps the campaign budget optimization tool identify more opportunities for conversion.
Increasing CPC Using Smart Creative
How we set up our ads behind-the-scenes can make a big difference in our CPCs, but the key to truly standout advertising is to, well… stand out.
Here are a few strategies to help:
Apply the K.I.S.S. methodology
KISS stands for “Keep It Simple and Strong” and is a great rule of thumb to follow when it comes to marketing in general, but especially with your ad creative.
Use clear and direct language, and keep the text in the images to a minimum. Include keywords that are relevant to your target audience so they clearly understand the benefit of clicking on the ad.
47% of consumers watch video ads most often on Facebook, and 71% of consumers find Facebook video ads relevant or highly relevant.
Not only is video people’s preferred way to watch an ad, but those stats tell us that Facebook’s targeting for video ads is spot-on.
Write Your Copy For the Viewer
Don’t talk about your business in your ad.
Remember: ads are your chance to convey value, and help your audience understand the benefit of clicking on the ad. Focus on them, and what they get out of it.
Keeping your ad copy tied directly tied to the value of what you’re selling builds trust with your brand.
How to Avoid High Facebook CPCs: Conclusion
Businesses need to be adaptive in order to stay competitive with their ads as Facebook and Instagram become increasingly crowded, which means staying on top of the latest strategies and developments.
- by Alyson Shane
By now most businesses realize the importance of having and maintaining social media accounts. With close to 3.5 billion people using social media each month, it’s a way to connect with your customers, boost sales, and increase brand awareness.
If you own or manage a business, posting tweets and engaging with followers on multiple platforms likely isn’t at the top of your to-do list. It’s also not something you can pass off to just anyone.
The person crafting your messages sets the tone of your brand, curates content that will resonate with your followers, and works on a strategy to yield a positive ROI.
It’s not just playing on social media all day. Crafting your content takes time.
Here are some of the factors you need to consider for each platform and how much time they take.
Post image size: 1200 x 630 (ads, cover images, profile pictures, link images, event images are all different sizes).
Character count: The max character count is 63,206, but generally, you shouldn’t be maxing that out. Keep your CTAs strong and put your important information first. The ideal length is 40-80 characters.
Hashtags: Use rarely on Facebook.
Strategic scheduling: Posts published between 1-4 pm have the best click-through and share rates on Facebook. This can vary, so make sure you measure the performance of your posts from Facebook Insights and schedule accordingly.
Tagging: With 1.69 billion Facebook users, it’s important to tag the correct people and companies.
Copywriting: Who are you speaking to? Do you have a strong CTA? Is there a link you can share in this post? Is your target market interested in this post? Is this shareable content? What’s in it for the reader to share this? Is this content timely?
Hashtags research: N/A
Image sourcing: Make sure the image you select reflects the content you are sharing. It’s important to have permission to share the images you select, especially if you plan on branding them. Pexels, Unsplash, Canva, Pixabay, and others offer a selection of free images, but make sure they are free for commercial use before you share them.
Graphic creation: Use a tool like Canva or InDesign to add your logo, copy, and other graphic elements that draw attention to your viewer.
Pin the post: You want your most relevant marketing campaigns to stay at the top of your feed. Your pinned post will likely be one of the first things people see while visiting your Facebook page, so make sure it’s timely!
Other factors: Facebook generally suppresses business posts, so the best way to get your content seen is to have your followers share it on their pages.
Total time: ~ 45 minutes
Post image size: Landscape 1080x608 px, square 1080x1080px or portrait 1080x1350 px. (Instagram stories, Instagram Live, and IGTV are different sizes)
Character count: Max 2,2 00 characters. 138-150 characters is ideal for maximum engagement.
Hashtags: Max 30. The ideal number is 5-10. Too many hashtags can get your account shadow banned.
Strategic scheduling: The general best time to post is between 9 am-11 am, but the best time to post is based on your unique audience. An app like Buffer automatically calculates your best times to post.
Tagging: People and businesses are always looking for content to share. Do you have a pen from a local art store in your photo? What about flowers from your favourite florist? Tag whoever you mention in your post to maximize your chances of being shared on their pages.
Copywriting: It’s a good idea to write both short and long posts. If you are writing a long caption, write a short, engaging summary of what you are posting about first, so your audience doesn’t miss your key message. Make sure your post has value. Is your audience learning something? Will it make them emotional? What’s in it for them when they read this post?
Hashtags research: Did you know that posts with at least one hashtag average 12.6% more engagement than posts without a hashtag? Hashtags work to organize your content and make it easier for people to find. There are community hashtags, branded hashtags, and campaign hashtags. Use these to find your niche audience, collect UGC, or promote your campaign. Look for tags that your audience, industry leaders and competitors are already using.
Image sourcing: Since Instagram is a visual platform, the photos you post are very important. Not only do you need to worry about each image, but you should also consider how your profile looks as a whole.
Do you have a colour scheme? What filters are you using?
Free image sourcing is a great option, but if you want to make sure your brand isn’t being confused for other brands or you want specific quality, try buying images from Stocksy, Twenty20, or Social Squares. They provide quality content, and it still saves your business from costly photoshoots and time spent taking and editing photos.
Graphic creation: Since people are mainly using Instagram on their mobile devices, it’s important to use an image that will quickly draw attention and get your point across. Instagram is not the place for complicated infographics and small text.
Add to highlights: It’s a great idea to share your new posts to your Instagram story and increase the chances of your content being seen. If your post is important enough to keep at the top of your page, add it to your highlights so your viewers can easily find it!
Other factors: Instagram is one of the only platforms that doesn’t allow you to link to a webpage in your caption. Asking people to go to your link in bio and leave the app gives them more steps than people are generally willing to do. Make sure you have all of your important information on Instagram, and if needed, direct them to your link in bio for more information, but you better make sure it’s updated!
Total time: ~ 50 minutes
Image size: Min. 440 x 220 px
Character count: Max 280 characters.
Hashtags: Twitter recommends using no more than two hashtags per tweet for best practice.
Strategic scheduling: The best times to post for B2B are 7 am-8 am, 11 am, 6 pm, and 9 pm. Schedule around peak times, but make sure they are the best for your business. Find an app like Later that will analyze optimal times to post content.
Tagging: Giving an @ mention informs people or businesses you posted about them. Everyone loves to share positive content about themselves or their business. One RT can lead to many more!
Copywriting: Be concise! The ideal Twitter caption is 71-100 characters. Since Twitter moves fast, you only have a few seconds to grab your audience’s attention.
Hashtags research: Give people a reason to use your hashtag. Are you running a contest? Can they participate in a larger conversation this way? Or use your hashtags to get your content discovered. Just use them sparingly!
Image sourcing: Twitter data says people are three times more likely to engage with Tweets that include visual content. Include video, images, and GIFs to your tweets.
Graphic creation: Make your visuals eye-catching, appealing, and informative while using your brand tone and voice. Use your logo to build brand recognition. Try using GIFs to add some humour to your posts.
Pin the post: If your pinned tweet is out of date it looks like you aren’t active on Twitter, or you don’t pay attention to detail. Update your pinned tweet as necessary.
Other factors: Twitter is big for sharing content. Look for opportunities to share content from your audience, affiliates, and industry leaders.
Total time: ~30 minutes
Image size: 1104 x 736 px
Character count: 700 characters (business accounts) 1300 (individual accounts)
Hashtags: LinkedIn recommends 3-5 hashtags per post.
Strategic scheduling: Working professionals and college grads make up the majority of LinkedIn users. The most successful posts on LinkedIn are posted between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. from Tuesday to Thursday.
Tagging: LinkedIn is all about making connections and showcasing your abilities. If you can tag people in your posts, do it! Often they will want to share their involvement with your company on their own pages to show off to their network.
Copywriting: You have 140 characters before LinkedIn will cut off your copy with the “See more” button. Make sure your first sentence in compelling. An interesting first sentence can get more eyes on your profile, and the rest of your content.
Hashtags research: Following hashtags on LinkedIn is a great way to find new content ideas and stay informed on what’s going on in your industry. Go to ‘Hashtags trending in your network’ to find relevant hashtags – choose ‘My Network’ and then ‘See all’ under the ‘Hashtag’ section.
Image sourcing: Many LinkedIn statuses will revolve around less visual topics like leadership, motivation, success, so you have more freedom and creativity with choosing images. Pair your image with a strong caption and you’ll be on your way to getting clicks and shares!
Graphic creation: Always stick to your brand guidelines with the same font, colours, and logo to create a cohesive, curated look.
Other factors: LinkedIn is the place to keep things professional. Make sure your profile is always up to date and offer plenty of opportunities for people to learn about your brand.
Total time: ~ 45 minutes
As you can see, hiring a social media manager is the best way to get your key messages across on each platform and maximize your ROI.
Social media platforms are constantly evolving their algorithms and interfaces. Marketers should be staying updated with the latest information. Starling Social’s high-level approach to digital marketing allows you to focus on your customers with the reassurance of knowing your social media channels are running seamlessly.
Your business needs a marketing plan that aligns with your growth goals. We develop strategies that help you create memorable, lasting connections with your customers and grow your business.
Get in touch if you’re looking for help with growing your business.
- by Alyson Shane
If you want to recession-proof your business and minimize the impact of COVID-19, you’re not alone. Companies across industries are scrambling to keep a recession that could be as bad as the Great Depression from seriously impacting their business.
As a result, we see a lot of short-term, reactionary behaviours in response to the pandemic. We’ve seen businesses furloughing or laying off their marketing teams. Other brands are cancelling advertising campaigns and taking a “wait and see” approach as things unfold.
Just like during the 2008 financial crisis, many businesses are putting their marketing plans on the chopping block to try and stay lean.
But is this the best strategy?
Studies show that companies who protect their marketing budgets during recessions tend to do much better during the recovery period.
In fact, companies that increased their marketing spending during a recession earned an average increase of 4.3% in profit.
The companies that cut back spending during an economic downturn? They saw an average fall in profits of 0.8%.
To put it more simply: companies that cut back on their marketing earned 3.5% less than the companies that increased it.
Now, ask yourself: which business would I rather be?
If your answer is “the profitable business” then it’s time to leave the short-term thinking behind and focus on the big picture.
Here’s why investing in your marketing right now helps recession-proof your brand:
Recessions don’t guarantee lower return-on-investment
We naturally assume that a recession will hurt every business, but brands that are adaptive can emerge stronger than ever, and with a higher return-on-investment (ROI) than before the downturn.
A 2018 report from ROI Genome found that in over 100 cases, more than half the brands studied saw improvements in ROI during the last recession.
Marketing during a downturn creates short and long-term ROI
On average, companies that increased their marketing investment earned an average of 17% growth in incremental sales, and more than half sad year-over-year improvements over the next two years.
Why? Because marketing increases brand equity.
“Brand equity” is a fancy way of saying: the more people who are familiar with your brand, the more they trust in the value of your products and services.
The more your customers see, hear, and interact with your brand - especially during times when they feel anxious, like during a recession - the more they’ll develop positive feelings towards your company, increasing the likelihood that they’ll buy from you in the future.
Cutting marketing guarantees losses during a recession
When you remove yourself from the conversation, people stop talking about you, thinking about you, and ultimately buying from you.
Leaving yourself out of the discussion also makes spaces for the competition to creep in and start converting your customers.
In fact, companies that cut their marketing investment suffer an 18% loss in incremental sales compared to those that didn’t.
Cutting marketing makes losses worse for struggling businesses
If you’re already operating on razor-thin margins, cutting your marketing may seem like a natural choice. But before you do, consider this:
Low consumer demand accounted for one-third of all losses in incremental sales during the last recession, while two-thirds of all losses in incremental sales were due to lower investments and the lack of market share.
It might seem prudent to cut back on marketing right now, but your business will have to make up for the lost time and try to compete in a marketplace that was more crowded than before.
How to recession-proof your brand: final thoughts
When companies allow short-term thinking to guide their decisions, they sacrifice not just brand equity, but also the long-term ROI of consistent marketing.
Agile businesses, on the other hand, take a data-driven approach to their business and develop strategies that balance short and long-term goals.
During times of uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to focus on making data-driven decisions. If you’re looking for a partner to help you make sense of the noise and keep your business top-of-mind for your customers, drop us a line.
- by Alyson Shane
Do you struggle to understand the marketing jargon you read online?
If so, you’re not alone. Many of the business owners we talk to and work with give us blank stares when we start talking about SERP rankings or keyword proximity.
That’s why we compiled this handy list of 20+ marketing terms to help you grow your business.
These are the expressions that seem to stump people the most often, all listed in one handy place.
If you’re a business owner who wants to develop a deeper understanding of how to market your business online, then keep reading:
20+ Useful Marketing Terms to Help You Grow Your Business
1. Application Programming Interface (API)
APIs are rules in programming that determine how an application extracts information. Essentially, APIs act as windows into a software program that allows other programs to interact with it without accessing the entire code database.
We typically encounter APIs in digital marketing when sharing information on social media. The Facebook API, for example, is the set of rules programmers need to follow when writing their code so that websites can interact with elements of Facebook.
Similarly, there’s the Twitter API, LinkedIn API… you get the idea.
2. Business-to-Business (B2B)
The term used to refer to businesses that sell to other businesses. Examples include Salesforce, Google, and HubSpot.
3. Business-to-Consumer (B2C)
The term used to describe companies that sell to consumers. Examples include Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Spotify.
4. Buyer Personas
Buyer personas are exactly what they sound like: they’re fake people you create in order to develop a better understanding of different customer types.
Many businesses are tempted to say “everyone is our customer,” but that’s an over-simplification. Even if your business serves a variety of demographics, like Amazon or Netflix, there are still specific areas about different customer types you can dig into in order to better understand your customers’ needs, and how they vary depending on the category they fall into.
Ready to start building your own buyer personas? Click here to use our free guide.
5. Call-to-Action (CTA)
A call-to-action (CTA) a web link (text, image, button, etc.) that encourages a website visitor to take a specific action, such as signing up for a newsletter or contacting a sales rep. Some examples include:
- Subscribe now
- Download our free PDF
- Contact us
CTAs are how marketers move potential customers through various stages of the sales funnel by enticing them to take the action we want them to take.
6. Churn Rate
Your “churn” is a metric that measures how many of your customers you retain, and at what value. This metric is especially important for companies that rely on a monthly recurring revenue (MRR) model.
Calculating churn is easy: take the number of customers you lost during a specific time frame, and divide that by the total number of customers that you had at the start of the time frame (don’t include any new sales.)
For example, if a business had 1000 customers at the start of January 2020, but they only have 750 customers by the end of the month (excluding new customers gained), their churn rate would be (1000-250)/1000 = 750/1000 = 25% churn rate.
7. Clickthrough Rate (CTR)
Your clickthrough rate is the percentage of your audience who “clicks through” from one part of your marketing campaign to the next.
To calculate your CTR, just divide the total number of clicks that your page or CTA has received by the number of opportunities people had to click (emails sent, total number of pageviews, etc.)
8. Cost-per-Acquisition (CPA)
CPA is a sales-based measurement that identifies the total marketing spend needed to move a lead (potential customer) from Awareness to Decision stage in the sales funnel.
CPA is useful when applied to marketing because it’s essentially on par with ROI (return on investment) and can be a strong indicator of long-term success in a lead generation campaign. To calculate your cost-per-acquisition, divide the total campaign/channel spend by the number of new customers acquired from that campaign or channel.
By working to lower and optimize your CPA, marketers can respond to challenges in a campaign quickly, which makes their campaigns more cost-efficient in the long term.
9. Cost-per-Click (CPC)
Cost-per-Click (CPC) is an ad model used to drive traffic to websites where a business pays a publisher (usually a search engine or social network) whenever the ad is clicked.
Calculating your CPC is easy: just divide the total cost of your clicks by the total number of clicks.
CPC is sometimes used interchangeably with pay-per-click (PPC) marketing, though most marketers use PPC to refer specifically to marketing through Google Ads, and CPC to refer to the process of calculating a click-through rate.
10. Cost-per-Impression (CPM)
Cost-per-Impression (CPM, or cost-per-mille) is the rate that your business pays per 1000 views of your ad.
If the goal of your ad campaign isn’t to generate click-throughs, but is more about getting as many eyeballs on your ad as possible, then you can select this option and only pay when your ad is displayed in front of someone.
Each time an ad appears in front of a user counts as one impression.
11. Custom Audiences
Custom Audiences are also exactly what they sound like: they’re groups of people who are defined by a series of shared characteristics (geolocation, for example) and served ads based on those characteristics.
12. Evergreen content
Evergreen content is content that can still be useful no matter when someone reads it. For example, a post referencing a specific event or cultural moment can become less relevant over time, whereas a how-to article may stay relevant and useful for years after it’s been published.
One of the biggest benefits to evergreen content is that it’s extremely good SEO material because people keep clicking on the same link for an extended period of time. This tells the search engines that your website has highly valuable content, and will reward your business with a higher SERP rank.
13. Key Performance Indicator (KPI)
KPIs are how marketers track progress towards specific marketing goals, and the best marketers continually review their KPIs in order to understand and evaluate their performance against industry standards.
Examples of KPIs include:
- Website and blog traffic
- Homepage views
14. Keyword Proximity
Keyword proximity is one of the factors that Google’s search algorithms take into consideration when weighing different keywords. It refers to how close two or more keywords are to one another, and you can increase your SERP rankings.
If a website is hoping to rank for the search term “digital marketing agency Winnipeg” you might be tempted to use a heading that reads: “Trust our digital marketing agency to grow your business in Winnipeg.” This phrasing isn’t bad, but a better version would read: “the digital marketing agency Winnipeg businesses trust to grow.”
15. Lookalike Audiences
A Lookalike Audience is an audience created from people who share similar characteristics to another group of users on a social network, but who wouldn’t otherwise be included in more detailed targeting.
Lookalike Audiences are created b analyzing existing customers (or other audiences) and finding commonalities, which allows businesses to find highly-qualified customers who may have been harder to reach.
Though originally pioneered by Facebook, Lookalike Audiences are not available through GoogleAds, LinkedIn Ads.
16. Mobile Optimization
“Optimizing for mobile” is the process of formatting your website so that it’s easy to read and navigate on a mobile device.
Most modern websites are built with mobile optimization in mind, and will generate different layouts depending on the size of the screen being used to view the website. The process of building a website that can detect and react to screen size is called “mobile optimization.”
Google and other search engines reward websites that are mobile-friendly, so if your website isn’t fully optimized for mobile devices, you may rank lower on a search engine results page (called a SERP — more on this below.)
17. Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR)
MRR is the amount of revenue a subscription-based business generates per month. There are several aspects to calculating MRR, including:
- Net new: MRR gained from new users
- Net positive: MRR gained from upsells
- Net negative: MRR lost from downsells
- Net loss: MRR lost from cancellations
18. Pay-per-click (PPC)
Pay-per-click (PPC) is another way of describing cost-per-click (CPC) ad revenue models where businesses get charged whenever someone clicks on their ads.
Within marketing circles, however, PPC is generally used to denote using the GoogleAds advertising platform, whereas CPC is used to discuss the actual cost of the PPC ads.
19. Return on Investment (ROI)
ROI is a performance measure used to assess the profitability of an investment.
It’s measured by measuring the gain from the investment minus the cost of the investment. The results are presented as a percentage that tell us whether a company is losing money on the investment (a negative percentage) or generating revenue (a positive percentage.)
For marketers, we want to measure the ROI of every tactic and channel we use to promote businesses online. Some ROI is easy to track, like cost-per-click (CPCs), while longtail forms of marketing like content marketing are harder to track 1-1.
20. Sales Funnel
A sales funnel is the visual representation of the journey a customer takes from the first time they become aware of your brand, to when they complete a purchase.
The sales funnel is usually broken up into four stages:
1. Awareness. Potential customers are encountering a specific problem and are researching and learning about how to solve it.
Content at this stage should inform and educate, and should be easy to produce like blog posts, quizzes, and videos.
2. Interest. Potential customers are diving deeper into the specifics of their problem. They’ve moved from “why does my back hurt?” to “how do I choose the best mattress for lower back pain.”
3. Discovery. Potential customers are aware of your brand, and are weighing their options.
The content that works best during these two stages are in-depth guides, checklists, pro and con lists, and other pieces that offer insight and guide the purchasing decision.
4. Action. Potential customers are now ready to become actual customers.
The best content for the bottom of the funnel are FAQ pages, videos and product features, competitive analyses, and live demos. These content pieces should serve to reinforce your potential customer’s view of your product or service as the best option to solve their problems.
21. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) + Search Engine Page Ranking (SERP)
SEO is the process of optimizing your website so that search engines like Google can read and index it as quickly as possible.
How quickly your website can be indexed in a search engine depends on a variety of factors, including page load speed, keyword relevance, how many websites link to your website, and many other factors.
Your SERP ranking is where your website ranks among organic (non-paid) search results, and is influenced by your SEO efforts.
22. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)
SaaS businesses are internet companies who host a specific service, like Salesforce or HubSpot, that stores your information in the cloud.
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- 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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- by Alyson Shane
Do you know how to use hashtags in your social media marketing?
Since they were introduced on Twitter in 2007, hashtags (also known as the “pound symbol” or “hash mark” aka # ) have become one of the most effective ways for brands to start, track, and participate in discussions.
If you’re looking for the definitive guide on using these essential marketing tools, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s dive right in:
What are hashtags?
Hashtags are a word, or group of words, preceded by a pound (#) sign that are used on social media to categorize and find conversations around a particular topic.
These symbol/word groupings create clickable links to posts using the same hashtag. For example, if you search for #SocialMediaMarkteing on Twitter, you’ll discover thousands of posts using the hashtag that you can reply to and interact with.
While hashtags originally started on Twitter, nowadays they’re used on every major social network.
Why use hashtags?
Hashtags help brands get discovered online, and help them be a part of broader conversations around topics relevant to their industry.
Hashtags are also a great way to follow breaking news or tune into upcoming trends.
How to find the best hashtags
There are a few ways to start discovering the hottest hashtags, including:
Hands-down one of the easiest ways to do your research. Here are some of our fav tools for the job:
Influencers in your industry
Think about it: if these hashtags work for the most successful brands and personalities in your industry, the chances are that they’ll work for you, too.
Check trending hashtags
Looking up popular hashtags in Twitter is easy: use the trending hashtags section!
If you find a hashtag relevant to your industry, jump on the trend to increase awareness about your brand!
Important: don’t use irrelevant hashtags to get attention; your audience will notice and this may damage your brand reputation.
A branded hashtag is precisely what it sounds like: a hashtag that can “group” your content together and make it easy to find.
Best of all: you can make this one up all by yourself!
Types of branded hashtags to consider using include:
- Your business name
- Your business’ tagline, or mission statement
- Promotion or campaign name
How to use hashtags properly
Remember: hashtags are a single word. There should never be any spaces in-between the words in your hashtag. Punctuation in your hashtag phrase will break the tag:
#Let’sTalkHousing (incorrect) vs. #LetsTalkHousing (correct)
Another good rule of thumb is to limit how many hashtags you use. Don’t #add #hashtags #to #every #word. Use them sparingly and strategically.
Of course, because each social network is different, how we use hashtags in our content will vary, as well. Keep reading for a list of hashtag do’s and don’ts below:
Follow these best practices to make sure you’re always using hashtags correctly:
- Follow and use hashtags related to your industry or business.
- Check out the rules for hashtags on each social network. For example, Twitter focuses more on the topic, while Instagram hashtags are generally used to describe the post.
- Be specific. Choose relevant and niche hashtags overbroad, general ones.
- Don’t use a hashtag without researching it first. Is the hashtag being used? If so, is it being used in the context you want to use it?
- Don’t overdo it. Too many hashtags in a post looks desperate and spammy. Each social network has “best practices” around how many to use, but generally, you don’t want to use more hashtags than words in your post.
- Keep your hashtags short. Overly long hashtags are hard to read, and often not very popular.
Start using hashtags in your social media marketing
Using hashtags in your ongoing social media marketing is an easy (and free!) way to connect with your audience, and help more of your ideal customers find your brand.
Use the tips outlined in this post to start using hashtags as part of your ongoing digital marketing strategy, and stay tuned for part two in this series “How to Use Hashtags on Social Media” where we break down hashtag do’s and don’ts by platform!
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- 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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- by Alyson Shane
Have you ever used a Facebook Carousel Ad?
Carousel Ads have been around since 2014, but many businesses still avoid using them because they're not sure how to use them effectively.
In this article, we'll discuss what a Carousel Ad is, why they work, and how to create your own Facebook Carousel Ads that increase your return on investment (ROI).
What's a Facebook Carousel Ad?
Carousel Ads let you showcase 2-10 images or videos within one ad, which allows you to tell a story and connect with your audience in a more meaningful way.
Carousel Ads are incredibly effective, earning an average of 30-50% lower cost per conversion, 20-30% lower cost-per-click, and much higher engagement rates than the average single-image ad.
The best part? Carousel Ads don't cost extra. So start experimenting!
Why should you use Facebook Carousel Ads?
This ad format is great for a variety of purposes, including:
- Telling your business' story.
- Highlighting multiple products or services.
- Sharing more information about a specific topic.
- Promoting events.
- Explaining benefits or processes.
Facebook Carousel Best Practices
Stuck on how to tell a compelling story in your carousel cards? Use these tips as inspiration:
Focus on the creative
The image or video you use for your carousel will determine how effective it is, so choose images or video that have a similar look and feel to each other.
Creative that doesn't match, or doesn't tell a story, feels especially disjointed in the Carousel Ad format, so spend time developing swipe-worthy creative assets.
Use every part of the ad
Don't neglect elements like your headline, description, and call-to-action.
Make sure your ad copy matches your business' tone, and A/B test different elements so see which combination yields the best results.
Tell a story in your carousel
Carousels are great because they can tell a story.
You can choose to reveal parts of your story as the user swipes through each individual image, reveal something in the second image that was hidden in the first one, create panoramic images that span 4 - 5 images... the options are really limitless!
Creating "stories" is useful to keep users engaged and swiping, and can be a great way to reveal new products, ideas, or services.
The key here is creativity - experiment and don't be afraid to try new things.
Optimize the order of your carousel cards
Facebook offers the option to replace the first image that shows in your carousel with a higher-performing image, which can be a great way to improve your campaign performance.
Important: only try this if you aren't doing a story-style carousel. Otherwise it may mess up the order of your images.
Facebook Carousel Ad Specs
You can create Carousel Ads in two places:
- On your page. If you only have one URL you'd like to use.
- In Ads Manager. If you want each carousel card to link to a different URL.
Before you set up your ad, make sure you have the following assets in place to set up your campaign:
- Minimum # cards: 2
- Max # of cards: 10
- Image file type: jpg or png
- Max video file size: 4GB
- Max video length: 240 minutes
- Video file type: MP4 or MOV are best
- Recommended resolution: 1080 x 1080px at least
- Recommended ratio: 1:1Text: 125 characters
- Headline: 40 characters
- Link description: 20 characters
Important: images with more than 20% text may experience reduced delivery, so keep your images as text-free as you can.
Get started with Carousel Ads
Experimenting with this fun and versatile ad option is a great way to stretch your ad dollars and experiment with different, more engaging forms of brand storytelling in your ads.
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