Tagged: marketing basics

20+ Useful Marketing Terms to Help You Grow Your Business

- 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
  • Cost-per-acquisition

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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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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E-Commerce Strategies for 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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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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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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How to Use Customer Data in Your Content

- by Alyson Shane

What are you doing with your customer data these days?

If you're not regularly mining it for details on how to create content that answers their questions and moves them through your sales funnel, you're missing out!

In this post, we'll explore how to use customer data to create marketing copy and content.

How Can You Collect Customer Data?

Analytics tools like Social Report and Zoho Analytics can help you understand what your followers are doing on social media, but these options will help you collect more specific data about who your audience and customers are.

Surveys, Quizzes + Questionnaires

Surveys are a great way to learn more about your audience, and can also be a great lead gen tool! In fact, according to LeadQuizzes, the average quiz has a 31.6% lead capture rate.

You can decide to email your most engaged customers or find out more about prospective customers by creating a quiz on your website. Either way, make sure to keep your surveys and questionnaires short and clear, so your customers stay engaged.

Contests + Giveaways

Contests and surveys are great ways to engage with your community and get them excited about your brand. It's also an excellent way to gather specific data about the people who are interested in what you're giving away.

Because you can set the parameters of your contest or survey, you can get as specific with the data needed to enter as you'd like.

Free Gated Content

"Gated content" refers to content that is free, but only after the reader provides some basic information about themselves; usually their name and email.

Use the data you collect to create case studies, infographics, and info-packed PDFs that demonstrates how you solve your customers' problems, then gate that content.

How Can You Use Customer Data to Create Content?

Create Engaging Content

The most important thing to learn from analyzing this data is understanding what your customer care about. If you see that specific topics, phrases, and keywords tend to rank lower, or not at all, phase them out of your marketing copy and swap in the latest data.

Remember: people's needs change over time, so you need to be regularly generating new customer data to review and introduce into your content marketing plan.

Show How You Solve Their Problems

By understanding more about what your customer's needs and problems are, you can create content that shows them how your business helps them solve it.

For example, if you run an HVAC company, you can use customer data to find out which furnaces are most popular. Then, publish a blog post listing the Pros and Cons of each, with a call-to-action (CTA) to contact a technician for more details.

This kind of content shows you're listening to your customers. It also has the added bonus of being extra SEO-friendly, since you're optimizing to match the text your customers are typing into search engines.

Learn the Type of Content Your Customers Love

There are lots of ways that you can share information about your products and services online: through text, images, video, infographics, webinars, etc.

Make sure to pay attention to the Engagement Rate that your posts receive, and note the type of content that tends to do the best.

Learn the Best Time to Publish Your Content

You want to be publishing content when your audience is online, which means paying attention to when they're most active. Monitor your social media analytics to find out when your audience is spending the most time online, and plan your publishing to occur during those peak times.

Don't forget to make a point to be active on social media during this time to talk to your followers about the new post as well - social media isn't just a soapbox!

Create Content That's Geo-Specific

One of the easiest ways to speaks to a customer's needs is to get specific to where they live. Use your customer data to understand where your customers are coming from and create content that targets them specifically.

Even better: if you advertise through Facebook, the options to get ultra granular are almost limitless.

For example, a retirement community advertising available units would want to target 55+ seniors looking to sell their homes in suburban postal or ZIP codes with ads promoting newly-renovated suites. See? Ultra granular.

Start Using Customer Data in Your Content

When you spend the time to understand your customers, you can craft content that speaks to how you solve their problems. It's really that simple!

Remember to connect with your customers regularly: on social media, through email, on your blog, and wherever they may be online. Use the data you collect to periodically re-evaluate what your audience is saying to you.

Do you have a favorite way to collect customer data? Tweet it at us! Don't forget to smash that "subscribe" button and get posts like this delivered right to your inbox every week.


 

How to Start a Conversation on Social Media and Increase Brand Engagement

- by Alyson Shane

Do you have a hard time figuring out what to say to your followers on social media?

Even for the most outgoing among us, joining conversations on social media in an authentic way can feel daunting for even the most seasoned digital marketer.

We also have to consider other obstacles, including:

  • Ongoing changes to the algorithms on Facebook, Instagram, and other social networks that decreases organic reach.
    Fierce competition for the same audience from within your industry.
    Decreasing attention spans and fatigue among social media users.

In spite of these challenges, having in conversations with your followers on social media is the best way for your brand to show your audience that you're listening.

Social media users are savvy, and will unfollow you (and potential stop buying from you) if they feel like you're too busy talking at them to take the time to listen and speak to them.

That's why today we're sharing our favorite conversation tactics to increase brand engagement. Let's dive right in:

There are three primary ways we can start a discussion on social media: by asking questions, by joining existing conversations, sharing topical news, and asking questions.

Join Existing Conversations

One of the easiest ways to engage with others on social media is to jump right into an existing conversation.

We especially love Twitter for this purpose because we can talk to pretty much anyone about anything, but don't be afraid to jump right into another conversation if you feel your brand has something constructive and useful to share.

Twitter chats are a great opportunity for your brand to get together with members of your audience and/or industry (we recommend doing both), especially since the question-based format a takes the guesswork out of trying to come up with something to say.

Some things you can say include:

  • Great points! What do you think about XYZ?
  • That's an interesting perspective - how did you arrive at your conclusion?

Ask Thought-Provoking Questions

If one of your followers re-shares your article, don't just pat yourself on the back and consider it a job well done; you're not finished yet!

This is your chance to follow up with that community member and increase brand engagement by asking them questions about the piece. By showing an interest in our community, we can help them feel interested in us.

Some things you can ask include:

  • What was your biggest takeaway from the article?
  • What about XYZ in the article resonated most with you?
  • What are your thoughts about the future of XYZ industry?

Share Timely News and Trends

Staying up-to-date with the latest trends in your industry means you'll be able to stay ahead of the curve. It also allows you to hone in on trending conversations as they're happening.

Commonly known as "newsjacking," this tactic allows us to have conversations with our audience about breaking news.

Guiding the conversation helps us understand what our followers' thoughts are on a particular topic while also increasing brand engagement at the same time.

Even better: sharing our thoughts with breaking news allows us to show that we're experts who are tuned-into the latest goings-on in our industry. This helps community members feel like they can trust us to know what we're doing.

Some ideas to get the gears turning in your head include:

  • What are your thoughts on XYZ's latest announcement?
  • How do you think the change to XYZ will impact the industry?
  • Do you think XYZ news will impact how you feel about XYZ topic?

Keep the Conversation Going

There are lots of easy ways to start and continue, conversations with your followers. Some examples include:

  • Posting polls and surveys (Instagram Stories is excellent for this!)
  • Hosting your own Twitter chat (vs. joining existing ones)
  • Host Q&A or AMA sessions to help your community get to know you

Remember: the key here isn't having the best questions or the wittiest answers; it's about showing your community that you're listening and that you care about what they have to say.

For more insights into building a community around your brand, subscribe to our weekly newsletter!


 

The 7 Best Email Newsletter Tools in 2019

- by Alyson Shane

Email marketing is one of the most important aspects of a successful digital marketing strategy, offering as much as a $44 ROI on every $1 spent. 

What makes email marketing so successful is that it allows you to connect with your audience where they live: in their inbox. We've written about how to improve your email marketing results before... but what about the tools you can use to get there?

Today we'll be reviewing some of the best email marketing tools on the market, and giving you an in-depth overview of the differences in pricing, features, and availability, and how deep into the customer journey they can take you.

Using the tool that's best suited to your business' goals is the best way to guarantee success with your email marketing campaigns, so let's eliminate the guesswork and dive right in:

1. HubSpot Email Marketing

Cost: $50 per month

HubSpot is one of the biggest names in digital marketing, and their email management service offers an easy to use drag and drop editor to design eye-catching emails, as well as the ability to review your analytics on a per-send basis.

Arguably the most powerful feature of HubSpot's EMS is how well it integrates with their free form tools (for easy lead gen) and their CRM system, which allows you to connect your email analytics to other parts of your sales cycle. 

Source: Hubspot

2. Benchmark Email

Price: Free up to 2,000 subscribers or up to 14,000 emails a month

Benchmark also offers drag-and-drop functionality, as well as a ton of templates to choose form if you're not comfortable enough designing your own. 

Some of their best features include A/B split testing, detailed analytics on campaign-specific performance,  spam testing, and lots more.

Source: Benchmark

3. GetResponse

Price: Free 30 day trial, $15/month afterward

GetResponse offers features that become available as you need them, ranging from a small set of "starter features" to a full suite of enterprise-level features like landing pages and webinars.

Like other tools in this list, GetResponse also offers drag-and-drop layouts to design your own template, plus a ton of templates to choose from it's easy to A/B test, send to different audience segments, and more.

Source: GetResponse

4. SendInBlue

Price: Free up to 6,000 emails a month, starts at $25/mth for 40,000

Not tech-savvy? Then don't worry: SendInBlue has you covered. This tool offers an HTML editor, drag-and-drop functionality, and a massive template gallery to help you select a pre-built template that grabs readers' attention.

Even better: SendInBlue has the capabilities to build robust automation pipelines that send different emails based on specific actions taken by your contacts.

However, SendInBlue doesn't have a built-in CRM system so if you're a quickly-scaling team you may want to consider another tool.

Source: SendInBlue

5. MailJet

Cost: Free up to 200 emails per day (6,000 emails per month), with prices starting at $8.69 a month for 30,000 emails.

MailJet is an email service that prides itself on being developer-friendly, with an impressive API (application programming interface) that allows developers to build their own email platform.

One of the unique customization features that MailJet offers is the ability to create dynamic content that is personalized for each recipient based on customer data, like their geographic location or their name. 

If your team needs an email service that allows for multiple approvals and seamlessly allows teams to collaborate on the same draft, then MailJet is the tool for you.

Source: MailJet

6. MailChimp

Price: Free up to 12,000 email sends per month to a list size up to 2,000. Pricing starts at $10 per month for 500 subscribers.

MailChimp is a free email marketing service that's great for small to medium-sized businesses looking to start getting into email marketing, or who aren't focusing on a business model that includes a lot of opt-ins and landing pages.

However, as you scale it's likely that you'll start to use other email marketing tools instead, as you'll start butting up against the limits of its automation and segmentation features.

Source: MailChimp

7. Constant Contact

Price: Free trial for 60 days before paying, then prices start at $20 per month for a list size up to 500 contacts.

Constant Contact is great for businesses with larger teams, and has a multi-channel support system that can help onboard and resolve pretty much any problem with ease. 

Constant Contact comes with tons of templates and a powerful email builder than allows you to create newsletters that reflect your brand and tell your story. Unfortunately, like MailChimp it lacks the automation features needed for businesses who are looking to rely on their email list as a growth tool.

Source: Constant Contact

How to Choose the Right Email Service

As you've probably figured out, not all email services are created equal. If you're wondering how to choose the right email service to suit your business' needs, consider these questions:

  • Consider your strategy. Do you need to start implementing list segments that allow you to track subscriber growth based on specific lead gen tools... or do you just need to send an email once a month?
  • Review your budget. Do you have the budget to pay for a service, or can you get by with a free one for now?
  • Rank your needs. Compare the criteria below against the information listed above to figure out which service will give you the most bang for your buck:
  • Templates

  • Tracking

  • Automation

  • Mobile functionality

Not sure where to get started with your email marketing strategy? Drop us a line - we'd love to talk strategy with you! 

Not ready for a chat? That's cool, just subscribe to our weekly newsletter and get hand-picked social media, digital marketing, and content resources and news sent straight to your inbox. 


 

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