Posts Tagged ‘digital marketing’

Shrug icon deciding between organic and paid

Is it Time to Pay to Play with Social Media?

Nearly 20 years into the age of social media, is organic content still enough?

For many people, social media is old hat these days. Oh sure, the kids are still rocking out on TikTok. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook still boast userbases in the millions and billions respectively. But let’s be honest, social seems to have lost some of its luster, prompting many to ask themselves: Is it still worth it for my business? The short answer is, absolutely! An overwhelming number of people in the business community agree with this, with 80 percent of enterprises saying social media is the most important factor in digital marketing success.[i] 

The longer answer is: It’s complicated. Social media still represents an effective, low-cost way to connect with your customer base and position your brand. But the recipe for success has changed in the two decades many of these platforms have existed. In fact, research increasingly confirms that restricting your social media activity to organic posts will only get you so far.

Below, we’ll assess if this is a good option for your agency. 

What do the experts say?

Research shows that people are increasingly deploying paid social media advertising. Eighty six percent of marketers noted in a recent survey, for instance, that they now combine paid and organic tactics.[ii] One reason for this is that some platforms are seeing a dip in organic reach. Organic posts on Facebook reach only 5.5 percent of a brand’s followers on average.[iii] There are multiple reasons for this decline. “For one, the high volume of ads competes with organic content for space on users’ news feeds.”[iv] There is also a widely held impression that algorithmic changes have disincentivized the role of organic social, making its ROI far less impressive than it might have once been. 

So, has organic social’s time passed?

Even though there has been a clear decline in the reach of organic social media, that doesn’t mean that businesses can afford to not be active on these platforms. There are many reasons why companies need a strong social presence, some of which include: 

  • Increased brand recognition
  • More brand loyalty and authority
  • Higher conversion rates
  • Increased inbound traffic
  • Lower marketing costs
  • Richer customer experiences
  • Improved customer insights

Even a cursory look at U.S. social media usage should put doubts to rest about whether it is still worthwhile. As of 2020, for instance, nearly 65 percent of American adults are active social media users, while 42 percent of Twitter users visit the site daily.[v] These are facts you just can’t argue with when considering where to put your marketing time and effort.

What is the best approach today?

Instead of jettisoning organic social media, then, what should savvy business leaders and marketers do? Well, instead of choosing one or the other, marketers have increasingly paired organic and paid strategies. Perhaps one of the best things about social media is that it can serve as an enormously valuable source of data on your audience members. Unsurprisingly, these data-driven insights have come to be seen as a guide for which type of content you should boost and on which platform. 

Basically, if you have a type of organic content that consistently performs well, you should take a hard look at whether you want to expand its reach with an ad buy. People respond to the content they do for a reason. Don’t miss your opportunity to leverage that knowledge to make a well-reasoned, moderately priced ad buy and expand your presence on social.  

Final words on the organic/paid debate 

Like so much in the marketing world, nothing in social media stays the same – at least not for long. Over the course of its lifespan, social has changed dramatically, nowhere more so than in the rise of paid postings. But before you throw out organic social altogether, you should look at it as something that can be paired effectively with paid social. That’s where the magic happens.

Want to learn more about how you can harvest data from your social media feeds? Check out this helpful primer

And if you don’t yet feel confident about using paid advertising tools and running successful ad campaigns, look at this terrific introduction

[i] https://topdogsocialmedia.com/b2b-social-advertising/
[ii] Ibid 
[iii] https://crenshawcomm.com/blogs/how-paid-and-organic-social-media-work-together 
[iv] The Decline of Organic Reach in Social Media Marketing | Local View
[v] Is Social Media Marketing Worth It? 6 Reasons to Use Social – WebFX

Illustration of people in 3 promotional booths.

Event Marketing 101

Participating in events is a shrewd way to promote your business. Here’s how to fully leverage your presence.

Despite the importance of digital marketing in today’s economy, sometimes the old ways are still best. Person-to-person marketing is often the most impactful method for spreading the word about your business. Participating in events or tradeshows is a great way to deploy this type of outreach. Here are a few tips for making the most out of these opportunities – before, during and after the event!

Before the Event

While participating in events is about person-to-person marketing, digital marketing still has an important role to play. Let’s be honest, if you don’t let people know your business will be at an event, people won’t seek you out and you won’t get a chance to have the type of conversations that can drive eventual business gains.

Start promoting your attendance at an event well in advance. First, determine your goals, audience, messages, channels and budget. Then, structure these items around a realistic timeline. Next, establish some effective strategies and tactics to get your message out, such as:

  • Creating a social media campaign communicating where you’ll be located at the event site and a value proposition for why attendees should visit your booth.
  • Putting notices about the event in your newsletter.
  • Establishing an email marketing campaign.
  • Connecting with the hosting organization behind the event to inquire about joint-promotional efforts or opportunities.
  • Writing related content like a blog entry.

As with any other marketing plan, you’ll want to ensure that you also attach evaluation metrics to the campaign to gauge your efforts. It’s difficult to over-emphasize how important this step is. Without metrics, you will be unable to make real-time adjustments to your marketing efforts or fully assess your ROI.

During the Event

One of the most important things to remember is that your marketing efforts don’t end once the event begins. When you’re on-site, you will have three new marketing priorities:

  1. Continue to attract people to your booth
  2. Leverage news from the event
  3. Build prospects

Just because the event has started doesn’t mean you should stop building out and disseminating event-related content. Continue to use social media, blogs or emails to promote your participation in the event and to discuss its highlights to position yourself as a thought leader. Doing this will serve two purposes. In the short term, it will remind people to visit your booth while the event is going on. In the long term, it will enhance your firm’s standing for those who couldn’t attend but may be following via digital channels.  

Once you have people paying attention to your presence at an event, however, there are other steps to take. Ensure your business is represented in a way that is professional and unified by creating a fully branded booth with consistent colors, logos and lettering. Including an interactive element is a great way to deepen the impact of your booth and your overall presence at the event. A photo backdrop is just one example of something you could do. Event attendees will be naturally drawn to your booth to commemorate their experience and may even share their photos on social – further extending your reach.

If you pull all of this off, you can effectively grow your business’s brand awareness. Best of all, if people have a positive experience visiting your booth, they will be more inclined to engage with you and share their contact details.

After the Event

Once an event has come and gone, it can be tempting to rest on your laurels; but you can’t stop just yet. After you’ve put away your booth and left the venue, you still need to do something with the contact information you’ve gained. All the business cards you’ve collected or email addresses you’ve compiled need to be sorted and organized.

The next step is to follow up with your new prospects. But before you start emailing contacts or calling them over the phone, just think for a moment. Is that the right approach? Where do people actually spend most of their time these days? Where do they feel the most comfortable interacting with acquaintances? Social media, that’s where! Seek them out on LinkedIn first and build authentic connections before you start marketing to them more directly. People are much more inclined to buy from you if they have a strong sense of who you are and what you can do for them.

Conclusion

Events require a lot of work, even if you are merely a participant and especially if you look at them as a golden opportunity to promote your business. But by adhering to best practices and solid marketing principles, you can fully leverage the unique platform offered by the event environment.

2 men in a business suite making a video recording

Create High-Quality Video   

Video is the gold standard of modern marketing. Here’s how you can start leveraging it without breaking the bank.

Think about when you browse online or spend time on social media. You see a lot of content, don’t you? What type speaks to you the most? If you said “video,” you are not alone. 78 percent of people watch online videos every week, and 55 percent view them every day.[i] Marketers have unsurprisingly taken note of these preferences, and 86 percent of businesses now use video as a marketing tool.[ii]

Smaller agencies have a lot to gain by incorporating video into their marketing repertoire. For some, this may feel daunting; after all, isn’t video notoriously expensive to produce? The answer: not anymore! In the last few years, the hardware and software you need to create your own marketing videos have become a lot less expensive. Here’s everything you need to produce video content to increase your brand awareness and engagement.

Cameras

First thing’s first, if you want to shoot video, you need a camera. The good news is that you are probably walking around with a high-quality camera right in your pocket. Don’t believe your iPhone is up to the task? Well, what if I told you that filmmakers have already used iPhones to shoot not one, not two but well over 10 feature films? Best of all, the iPhone’s camera keeps getting better and better with each new iteration.

Equipment

The quality of marketing videos also hinges on elements adjacent to the camera, including tripods and/or stabilizers, lighting and sound, which have each become quite affordable in recent years. Let’s look at a few details of each:

  • Tripods: When looking at tripods or stabilizers, ask yourself what type of marketing video you envision making. Will it be a sedentary shoot? Do you need to move around? Will your subject be standing? Sitting? Determine this ahead of time before investing in any equipment. But rest easy in knowing there are many affordable options out there that can meet your needs.
  • Lights: One of the unsung heroes of the filmmaking process is lighting. Think about a shot from a movie that stuck with you; it’s more than likely the lighting had something to do with making that shot special. Now, before you start envisioning your offices filling up with heavy-duty lighting equipment, pause and take a deep breath. There are so many unique, manageable and innovative lighting systems out there – many of which have been built specifically to complement small-scale smartphone videography.
  • Sound: Another critical piece in the filmmaking puzzle is sound. While it’s possible to rely solely on the microphone built into your camera, it is highly recommended to up your game with an additional microphone. Aside from lighting, investing in your sound equipment may be the best thing you can do to improve the production quality of your marketing video and give it a more professional feel.

Editing  

Of course, you must also edit your video footage to remove things like dead air and bad takes. Keep in mind that the ideal length for marketing videos is very short – no longer than two minutes. Many social media platforms confirm this, with Facebook, for example, encouraging users to keep videos to 15 seconds or less.[iii]

But what should you use to edit your video? You could rely on one of the applications that come pre-loaded on different operating systems. For instance, you can make basic video edits in the “Photos” application that comes with Windows. There are other programs out there that offer more functionality for quite a reasonable price, allowing you to add transitions, titles and music much more easily.

Lights, Camera, Action! In our fast-paced, highly competitive market, the adage “give people what they want” has never been more urgent. Internet-savvy consumers want video content. While it’s normal to feel intimidated by the prospect of shooting your own video content, the combination of affordable equipment and potentially massive ROI make it


[i] 135 Video Marketing Statistics You Can’t Ignore in 2022 (invideo.io)

[ii] Ibid

[iii] How Long Should Videos Be? FB, IG, YT & More in 2020 – Animoto

The top of an email being composed with the subject line empty

Optimize Your Subject Lines 

Before you can wow with your email copy, you must first hook your audience. 

Email marketing can be hit or miss. While you can labor over your copy and toil over accompanying graphics, ultimately your message may still go unread. We’re all inundated with email these days. How can you best position your campaigns to break through the noise? Although sometimes treated as an afterthought, your email’s subject line is actually one of the most important tools you have for boosting open percentages and increasing your CTRs (click through rates). Let’s look at some of the ways you can optimize your subject lines to make your email campaigns more widely read and impactful. 

Keep it Simple 

It’s easy to overthink subject lines. Although it’s good to take a strategic approach, always remember simplicity. Generally, subject lines should be short and should not mislead or overpromise anything about your email’s contents. The consequences of not doing this can be dire, as you can annoy your audience or even alienate them from future campaigns. 

Research and Wordsmithing  

Because subject lines should be short, each word you select matters a great deal. You don’t want to leave anything to chance here, which means you’re going to need to do some keyword research. Whenever you write a subject line, use words that are relevant and align with your audience’s needs and intent. There are many different tools out there — both free and paid — to help marketers choose the right words. Find the one that will work for your organization and use it to look closely at several metrics, specifically search volume and search intent. 

Personalization

As the world has gone digital-first over the past couple of decades, it has become ever easier to create and disseminate marketing campaigns. Yet while these changes have brought about an unprecedented level of convenience and productivity, personalization and human connection in marketing has become increasingly difficult. Still, there are ways you can add personalization and warmth to your subject lines:

  • You can insert your recipients’ names into the subject line. 
  • You can refer to other types of personal information – such as the cities in which your recipients live.
  • Flip the focus of your personalization efforts back on yourself by personalizing your sender address. 

Emojis and Numbers 

Sometimes words, however pretty they may be, are simply not enough. To command your readers’ finite attention, you may also want to consider using emojis or numbers to break up text. This does carry a bit of a risk, however, as emojis may be considered inappropriate with certain audiences. That said, if you are writing a fun or celebratory-type email, leveraging emojis can enhance the impact of your email and encourage more people to open it. 

Numbers function differently. If you can naturally weave figures like percentages into your subject lines, you may attract more people to open your emails. Numbers simply stand out more than additional text, and for many audience members, they may help them more quickly understand your email’s contents. Beware, however, of overloading your subject lines with numbers – as this can come off as “spammy.” And never include a misleading figure. Your audience will not appreciate the deceit, and you will appear untrustworthy and unprofessional as a result. 

Follow the Tried-and-True 

There are several tried-and-true marketing methods that you can build your email subject lines around, which, when paired with some of the other tactics here, can be especially powerful. 

  • Scarcity: Few things motivate human beings more than the fear of missing out. By framing your email as containing something like a limited-time offer, you speak directly to that primal fear and can give your recipients the push they need to open your email and engage with your content. 
  • Curiosity: Similarly, you can treat your subject line as a sort of teaser for the email’s contents. Give just enough information to spark interest with your target audience but allude that the truly valuable information lies within the message’s body copy. 
  • Timeliness: Finally, there is always timeliness. By conveying that your email contents are time-sensitive, recipients are less likely to ignore it or tell themselves that they will circle back around later. 

Toward More Effective Email Marketing 

Raising brand awareness and forming valuable customer connections isn’t easy. In a competitive environment, businesses need to ensure they are maximizing the value of all their marketing methods and strategies. As we’ve written before, email marketing is still a viable, low-cost way to promote your products and services. But to gain positive ROI, its essential to optimize every aspect of your messaging. And that includes taking a hard look at your subject lines and doing everything you can to make them memorable.   

business women carrying a heavy box of social media icons

Social Media Marketing for Small Agencies

Committing to social media marketing can be a heavy lift. Read on for tips to make it easier.  

Whether you love it or hate it, social media has permanently changed our world. It has certainly opened new avenues for marketing. Whether you are firing off micro-targeted ads, responding to customer questions or concerns, or using it as a vehicle for branding and thought leadership, social is an essential digital marketing tool. Let’s look at how small agencies can tap into the power of social without becoming overwhelmed.  

Social Media 101

First, determine where your audience is. It can be tempting to create profiles on as many platforms as possible, but if you overextend yourself, you may not be able to keep your profiles consistently updated. This can make you look unprofessional and even harm your brand.

Instead, consider a data-driven approach. In our industry, it likely makes sense to start with Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Facebook, for example, has incredible reach, with 69% of American adults using the platform as of 2019.[i] LinkedIn is an ideal choice for B2B brands, with 80% of leads coming from the platform.[ii] The platform also offers powerful tools for showcasing your company, recruiting workers and even building your company culture. Twitter has significantly less user adoption – 22% circa 2019[iii] – but it is a hotbed for journalists and is perhaps the easiest platform for engaging in the type of one-to-one customer communication that social thrives on.  

Optimized Profile

After you have your platforms, create profiles that are complete and optimized. At the beginning of 2021, we wrote a blog post outlining how to do this on Facebook, and while each social media platform differs, the best practices we covered are largely applicable to other platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn. Just remember to prioritize the use of photos, your “About” section and your business’s contact info, and you’ll already be ahead of the game.

Content Strategy

Next, establish a posting strategy. As you might expect, there is no shortage of opinions on how much to post on each platform. With Twitter, it is suggested that you post three times a day or more, while Facebook and LinkedIn get two times and one time per day respectively.[iv] Yet that cadence is likely not feasible for most agency owners. Posting once per day per platform is sufficient to keep your pages looking fresh and active. Even putting up new content two to three times per week goes a long way toward creating a vibrant social media presence.

Quality Over Quantity

With any content strategy, quality trumps quantity. Focus on thought leadership and educational content over company updates. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should neglect to promote your business or publicize your products, but you want people to see you on social as a helpful resource rather than a pesky salesperson. Here are some great examples of content to post:

  1. Company blog posts
  2. Industry news
  3. Product demos or videos
  4. Customer reviews
  5. Quick tips or advice
  6. Holiday or awareness day posts
  7. Photos of your company culture
  8. Relevant quotes
  9. White papers or reports
  10. Industry research
  11. Infographics
  12. Polls or questions

As long as your posts are visually appealing, educational and inspire engagement, you’re on the right track.

Join the Conversation

Posting your own content is only half the battle on social media. The other half is social listening and fostering conversation. First, establish your community and/or audience on each platform. Friend or follow a few people each day. Depending on the platform, you can also join groups or forums.

Additionally, it’s not a bad idea to track keywords that pertain to your business. That way, you can stay apprised of any chatter where it would make sense for you to join the conversation as a thought leader. Once again, social media is all about two-way communication, community and establishing yourself as a helpful resource. If people start seeing you that way, they may circle back around when they need the product or service your company provides.

To start easily tracking hashtags and keywords, look into a social media listening service. The good news is there are plenty of options out there that offer a free version.

Final Thoughts  Like much of marketing, social media can feel overwhelming, especially if you don’t have a designated staff person handling things. But it doesn’t have to be. By being choosy with your platforms, creating optimized profiles and establishing a solid content strategy, you can leverage these technologies


[i] Which Social Media Platforms Should I Use for My Business? – Wharton Online (upenn.edu)

[ii] Ibid

[iii] Ibid

[iv] How Often Should I Post on Social Media? | Buffer Blog

Let's Connect

Discover more stories and conversations on our social media networks,
or drop us a line on our contact page.


The Independent Underwriter for
the Independent AgentSM