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.
[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
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:
- Continue to attract people to your booth
- Leverage news from the event
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Company blog posts
- Industry news
- Product demos or videos
- Customer reviews
- Quick tips or advice
- Holiday or awareness day posts
- Photos of your company culture
- Relevant quotes
- White papers or reports
- Industry research
- 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)
[iv] How Often Should I Post on Social Media? | Buffer Blog
We test out a lot of things these days. Why not our marketing collateral?
We live in a world of endless trials. Whether it be for streaming services, meal delivery programs or pretty much any software tool, testing something out before committing seems as American as apple pie. So why would we not apply this logic to our marketing content?
A/B testing is the process of testing out various iterations of marketing collateral ahead of fully disseminating it. Also known as “split testing” or “bucket testing,” A/B testing assists businesses in identifying which variation of a piece of content is most successful in achieving the desired outcome with a target audience. The good news is that, due to marketing solutions dropping in cost over the past few years, A/B testing is an increasingly viable practice for smaller firms.
And it couldn’t have come at a better moment. With the market growing increasingly competitive, particularly online, ensuring that your collateral is as optimized as possible is more important than ever. Nobody has time to waste on creating content that has no chance of converting customers. Here’s how you can begin incorporating A/B testing to improve your marketing practices.
A/B Testing: Your Ticket to Better Marketing
Have you ever felt that there is too much subjectivity when preparing a new marketing campaign or initiative? While there are concrete best practices with writing or content strategy, select elements do seem to come down to individual choice. Should a button be lower or higher on the page? Would a different color or CTA (call to action) resonate more deeply for a specific audience? A/B testing brings more scientific rigor to the tweaks and changes that are a typical part of honing campaign material.
It’s also a straightforward process to understand. A/B testing technically harkens back to the 1960s, but its contemporary version is most typically used in the context of email marketing campaigns. Many email software programs today allow you to create multiple versions of a campaign email and then send them to a test audience to gather feedback. Operating similarly to the scientific method, a marketer would create a control email and then a supplemental email that is slightly modified.
Once each version is sent and opened (or not), the system automatically compiles analytics for each variation, allowing you to put real data behind your final writing or design decisions. Users can apply this method to test nearly any element of an email – including subject lines, colors, body copy, font size, font family, imagery, links, video and more.
Perhaps best of all, A/B testing does not require specialized knowledge. It’s easy to get started by viewing any of the many well-produced video tutorials that you can find online.
Emails Are Great, but Where Else Can I Use A/B Testing?
Emails are perhaps the easiest way to use A/B testing, but they are not the only one. A/B testing is a crucial aspect of social media advertising, SEM (search engine marketing) and even landing page development. Social media platforms make it easy to create different versions of an ad and then cycle through them for the campaign’s duration. Each platform will continually update you with fresh data on which version of your ad is performing best, allowing you to reallocate your funds and maximize your marketing dollars in almost real-time.
Conducting A/B testing for landing pages is a little more difficult – but not by much. All that is required is to create two different versions of your landing page, changing elements such as headlines, body copy, CTA buttons and their respective layouts. After you have these established, funnel a similar number of people to each page version and gauge performance.
You can do this by employing Google’s free analytics platform, Google Analytics, although that may involve a learning curve. Happily, many leading CMSs (content management systems) have built-in analytics that are more user-friendly and accessible than Google’s. Some of the main metrics you should look at when assessing the quality of your landing pages include (but are not limited to): views, session duration, conversion rate and bounce rate.
If you’re interested in getting your bearings with Google Analytics, there are a ton of fantastic resources online that can help get you started.
Make Your Marketing Count
Running a business is only possible if someone is buying your products and services. And people cannot buy from you unless they know who you are and what you do. This is a long-winded way to say that marketing matters. But marketing is also time-consuming, and when you’re leading an agency, time is always in short supply. Still, A/B testing is worth the time investment. Whether you are conducting an email campaign, disseminating paid ads or even looking to optimize your landing pages, A/B testing allows you to tweak your collateral more effectively before making a final decision.
Simply put, it increases the prospect that your content will convert, and your hard work be rewarded.
Email campaigns are not dead. Here are some best practices to make the biggest impact.
Since email was invented in the 1970s, tremendous change has occurred in the marketing world. Despite this, the tried-but-true email campaign remains a rock-solid tool to get your message out, spark awareness for your services and grow your customers and prospects. Here are some best practices for putting together an email campaign that will “wow” your audience.
Before you start writing, you first need to dig into the quality and integrity of your list by asking yourself a simple question: Did you organically compile your contacts, or did you purchase a list?
Purchasing a list is rarely smart. For one thing, you cannot assess the validity of the contacts until you send your first campaign. Plus, the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 includes numerous rules for how companies can or cannot market via email. Violating the CAN-SPAM act can result in serious consequences, so you want to be sure you’re compliant.
Subject Lines are Crucial
In a previous blog post, we mentioned that email subject lines are incredibly important. Remember to keep them short, with concise language. Do not use excessive capitals or unnecessary punctuation.
There are a variety of other techniques to build a great subject line around, including urgency, timeliness or special offers. It also never hurts to personalize them by tucking the recipient’s name or other personal information into the text of the subject line.
Prime the Pump
The average person is now exposed to somewhere between 4,000-10,000 ads in any given 24-hour period.[i] Because of this, people are much less likely to respond to a cold email from a business that they do not know.
To overcome this challenge, make your email campaigns part of a larger strategy. Market only to people you know or, at the very least, people who have explicitly agreed to give you their contact information.
You should also use other marketing channels like social media to raise your prospects’ awareness of your brand. Even better, conduct personal outreach! If you have a list of contacts, reach out and connect with them on LinkedIn before sending an email. Do whatever you can to ensure that when your email shows up in their inbox, they are going to be intrigued and excited rather than annoyed and apathetic.
Remember the Buyer’s Journey
A best practice with any marketing campaign, email or not, is to meet people where they are. Not everyone is always in the buying mindset. Instead, prospects need to be guided through the “buyer’s journey,” a multi-step process where people move from being aware that they have a problem, to considering potential solutions, to finally making a purchasing decision.
On a practical level, that means that your initial email should be conversational and helpful, sharing thought leadership or helpful advice that is not related directly to your business. After that, you can gradually transition into discussing your offer, always reinforcing how it will help solve your prospects’ problems.
To prepare for this type of outreach, make sure you have collateral that you can attach to your emails. For example, if you are raising awareness for your agency, you could include a thought leadership piece about the benefits of title insurance, before transitioning to something like a brochure that lists your services in the second or third email. Keep trickling information out and always include a strong call to action encouraging people to get in touch and talk further.
As you might suspect, there are a variety of best practices you’ll want to implement when preparing your email marketing campaigns. In addition to what we’ve discussed here, there are a lot of additional tips that can help you also improve the visual design of your emails. Try to incorporate as many best practices as you can. After that, you’ll be in a great place to capitalize on the power of email marketing and start converting mere recipients into reliable customers.
[i] How Many Advertisements Is a Person Exposed to a Day? (gradschools.com)