The State of Digital Media

The State of Digital Media

We’re in an era where we all agree that social media, SEO, Google Ads, live and fresh websites are essential to all businesses these days. It used to be consumer brands or FMCG brands that needed social media. 

Now we hear ads that do the best on Facebook relate to lawyers, retirement homes and solar power companies. Customers and prospects in all industries use their mobile phone as the start of the buyer’s journey when searching for a new product or service. People check their social media more often than their email. 

Where does this leave us in 2019 trying to resolve and understand all the digital clutter? We believe 2019 is the year of simplifying the digital clutter. In the article below we will cover the various tools and strategies needed to simplify and cover all the necessary bases. 

By simplification, we don’t mean taking away or removing any digital platforms but approaching it from a ‘lean’ point of view. Using tools and strategies will help declutter the digital mess.

Social Media

In the world of social media, we’ve seen a massive rise in bidding for ad space in the customers feed. A lot more businesses are advertising now and this is starting to drive up the costs of campaigns. Facebook reported that they have around 6 million active advertisers using their platform. 

Facebook’s easy to use ‘Boost’ button makes it simple for anyone to advertise. But we recommend never using that ‘Boost’ button. 

The options provided by this simple advertising interface, broadcast your post out to a general non-targeted audience and your ability to customise and test the ads are extremely limited. 

Although prices have gone up, platforms like Facebook and Google still want to show quality ads so they will lower the cost of ads with a high-quality score which is measured by the interaction the advert gets.

Last year, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would be reducing organic reach down to zero, and that every page will need to start paying for ads on their platform. This caused quite a shakeup in the industry and started seeing a dramatic increase in engagement within Facebook Groups. Mark Zuckerberg said they want more person to person communication and interaction and less business to person interaction. Groups are a great example of person to person interaction rather than business to person interaction.

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Last year we also saw Facebook integrating appointments into their business pages, making it easy for people to book appointments to see you. This works particularly well for dentists and doctors.

We also predict WhatsApp ads will soon be with us. 

Last year we also saw the roll-out of WhatsApp for Business which is still in beta version and only available for Android. The platform will be of great value as a live chat system for businesses connecting with customers, ideal for stores and any company which offers support as a service to its customers. 

Best times for posting on Social Media

It appears that there is the best time again to be posting on social media. 

But just some background into how we believe that Facebook works. We believe Facebook places people into pools. Pool A consists of people who always like your content and they will see your content first. Pool B includes people who are somewhat interested in your content, and so on. 

If Pool A engage with your content within the first 5 minutes, Facebook will open the content to Pool B as Facebook have good reason to believe the content is interesting and good quality. You will notice reach will go in batches of people. 

If you see the graphic below, Coschedule have recently analysed posts in each industry to try see if there was a relation to reach, engagement and the time of day.

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Using Hashtags

Hashtags when used well can be very effective, however if aren’t effectively used can reduce interaction as per Buzzsumo’s research in the graphic below. 

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Google is showing that it really wants to keep people in Google with Google Flights tackling Skyscanner, Google My Business tackling platforms like Yelp, Google Hotels tackling hotel directory sites such as SA-Venues. Google has also rolled out position 0 (the top position) in a majority of their search results.  

This aims at answering user questions in a paragraph snippet taken from a website. Sometimes position 0 (top position) will take a website that ranks 4th and places it into this text box at the top of the Google search. 

There are various optimisation techniques to do get to position 0 such as lists and bullet points answering a particular question. If you are writing a blog on top ten restaurants in Joburg, we’d recommend bullet pointing them to help Google index this schema. 

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Mobile first and https have indicated to be a significant ranking factor. It is essential to make sure your website is mobile friendly or responsive and to ensure that your domain is secured with an SSL certificate. 

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Google launched RankBrain, and it’s only getting smarter. RankBrain’s sole purpose is to learn about your website. If your website can answer or provide valuable information to your users, sure RankBrain will also find it valuable.

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Google My Business

Google is fast becoming a competitor to TripAdvisor and Yelp. Already millions of people rely on Google Places in their maps and search results to recommend restaurants, hotels, fuel stations, and retail outlets. It is essential to use this tool and effectively manage it daily with promotions, events or announcements. 

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Digital Data and why it is so important in 2019

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Data intelligence stops you guessing, and helps you steer your marketing in the correct direction. At first, opening up a dashboard full of insights can be quite intimidating, like the data you see on your Facebook page or Google Analytics account, but after committing the time to go through it each day, you’ll quickly identify what to look for and what not to look for. 

2019 is also the year to stop looking at proxy metrics, such as page views or clicks. These don’t mean much anymore. 

With all the data we have now we are able to track sales and conversions. We are able to set up offline conversions. This happens when someone sees your ad on Facebook for example and then comes into your physical shop or venue. This triggers a conversion.

Our phones are always online and connecting through the GPS telling Facebook and Google exactly where we are. 

This is intended to help marketers like us accurately reach the correct target market, instead of spending R100 000s of rands on a campaign in print media. All these platforms are trying their hardest to deliver content that we will be interested in. The microphone, GPS and text conversations on your device all help advertisers deliver the content you will be interested in.  

Using Data for Competitor Analysis

 If we use a platform such as SimilarWeb we can look at our competitors’ websites and see where they might be ranking higher or doing better than us. If we look at Pirates Sports Club, we can see that the majority of their traffic is coming from Google. 

Nothing from social or email. If we look at the keywords used to get to their website they are not very relevant keywords such as ‘cricket logo png’ or ‘dank pirates club’, which is an old and discontinued music event held at the bowls club.

Tools to Create a Lean Strategy

A lean strategy is helped by automation tools. Automation tools give you the peace of mind that a funnel you have set up will work at all hours guaranteed. Machines are there to work for us!

HubSpot is an innovative customer relationship management tool which we believe every company should be using. It helps manage each customer or company you have on your books but most importantly new leads and prospects. Any form that is on your website automatically gets integrated into HubSpot. 

This helps manage all leads that come through your website. You can assign the lead to a particular team member, as well as create an automation process to automatically email to set up an appointment with the appointment URL built into the HubSpot system. The system also now includes a live chat bot which has a conversation with the customer to qualify them and get information from them, which gets passed onto the sales team. 

MailChimp acts as a great and basic CRM too, it is great for sending emails out but also for creating automation tasks. The tasks could include when someone fills out a lead for on the website, it will go straight to MailChimp and it will automatically email them a pricing document and a telephone number or appointment URL to link.

Zapier is the ultimate middle man between all these software platforms. It makes life easy and is one of those essential tools for saving you time. Zapier will take information from a Facebook ad and pass it onto MailChimp, email your sales team and update the information in Google Sheets. It can also be set up to automatically SMS or email the new lead any info you like! 

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Get more resources I recommend here for making your life easier!

Keeping your Advertising Agency Accountable

Keeping your Advertising Agency Accountable

Nowadays it seems common practice for advertising agencies to not fully spend the amount that the client allocates to them for digital advertising.

Advertising agencies have always made a 16.5% commission on placing print adverts. This does not apply to digital adverts. If you as the client have control over your campaign, it will ensure that there is trust, transparency and maximum ROI.

For example, if a client allocates $1 000 to a Google Ads campaign, once the agency completes the necessary research, they will predict, based on the allocated budget, that the campaign will receive for example 200 clicks and 30 000 impressions. But once the campaign reaches these metrics, the agency stops the campaign and pockets the balance. This could represent a significant amount of money for large companies.

The same applies to other online campaigns such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter adverts. These platforms have tools to help you plan your campaign and what to expect from the budget allocated.

Agencies that do not charge an upfront management fee will generally, as mentioned above, take their fee directly from the advertising the budget. Therefore, we suggest that you should ask your agency to provide details of what they spent, based on transactions and invoices they received from the digital platform, such as Facebook etc.

How do you avoid this?

  • Use your own company credit card to monitor the expenditure.
  • Have access to the advertising account to monitor the campaign.
  • Make sure the contract you have with your agency protects you, not just the agency.


Marketing Tips For Wedding Venues

Marketing Tips For Wedding Venues

In this article, we will be exploring a few tips for marketing your wedding venue. Wedding venues boast some of the most beautiful, well-kept venues in the world. The care and investment that goes into getting them established can be extensive and a massive investment in time too.

But without a healthy supply of enquiries, a venue can fall flat. Working with numerous wedding venues on their marketing strategies, we’ve put an article together on generating enquiries and what we’ve found works best for venues and what doesn’t.

Firstly, what sets your venue apart from other venues? Is it the custom packages you offer, the unique location or the historical aspects. Focus on those points and grow them through your marketing efforts.

Social Media
Having a strong online presence is vital today, ensuring you are utilising Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter effectively. People respond to seeing other weddings and like to use them as examples. So ensure you are posting regular pictures from other weddings, congratulating the couple so it doesn’t look like a sales post. Social media is always intended to be fun, engaging and interactive. If posts only sell to people, they will disengage.

Some venues ask photographers to sign a document giving that venue the rights to use all their photography on their website and social media. This is a fantastic way to have a constant supply of quality photographs which can be used for your social media and marketing efforts. Quality photos make the world of difference to your brand and it won’t cost you anything.

By utilising a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) programme it will best help you to manage the leads your venue receives. It assists you to manage visits, invoices, special requests so that your clients will feel like their needs are being met and are receiving special care.

Advertising and website requests can plug into some CRM systems too. This gives you the opportunity to set up a sequence of automated emails to follow up on enquiries. For example, if a prospective bride clicks on an advert on Facebook and submits their information, she can automatically receive an email with details of packages available with a link to set up a visit to the venue. This ensures leads are followed up quickly.

Directory sites / Blogs
Online directory and blogging sites are a great way to get leads for your venue. These include such websites as TripAdvisor. If you Google ‘top wedding venues’ in your area, which are the websites that come up top? Are they mostly blogs and directory websites? These provide value, depending on what they charge of course! However, a fraction of these charges could possibly be used on social media to generate the same amount of leads!

Generating Leads
We use digital methods to generate enquiries that are benefiting our clients. They are carefully targeted and produce quality wedding venue leads that our clients are turning into bookings.

When Should Marketing Be Viewed as an Investment?

When Should Marketing Be Viewed as an Investment?

When one thinks of an investment, one automatically thinks about return on investment. And when you think about an expense, you think of it as a cost where no actual monetary return is gained.

As a result, it is common in a recession or economic downturn that marketing is one of the first ‘expenses’ to be cut. Marketing efforts are often viewed as a flowery, feel-good expense which is often the reason why it is cut first.

Simply put, marketing is communicating a message using research and creativity. Marketing is telling your story to your customer and prospect. To see it purely as an expense can take the creativity and research out of it.

Ditch the allocated budget
When marketing is viewed as an investment, it allows creativity to flourish and for new ideas come to life. Marketing managers are often allocated a marketing budget that they need to spend to show that they are being proactive. This can take the creativity and strategy out of their marketing efforts.

Sometimes their attitude is “let’s spend the marketing budget and then its out of the way”. A series of full-page adverts in a newspaper or bulk spending on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, or on a Likes campaign or boosted posts, could have little or no effect on the target audience and will probably produce minimal benefit.

A proper marketing strategy should focus on the project from all possible angles, before spending. I’ve seen numerous companies spend for the sake of spending because it looks good to their board or directors. As mentioned, marketing managers can be inclined to take the easy way out, and needless to say, with poor results. Especially when they are not experienced with the benefits digital platforms offer.

With all respect, most Exco or board members over 40 years old have little knowledge of digital marketing. The environment changes on a daily basis. When we explain to some people that we can track and remarket to people who visited to their website, there are puzzled looks.

When we say that we can find these people on Facebook and target adverts to them based on the specific products and services they looked at on the website, they usually don’t believe us.

There is disbelief when we give them an indication of the cost, sometimes less than R2 000pm, to create up to 25 qualified leads per month or drive significantly more traffic to their website. Our clients are doing these adverts and are producing quality business.

Unfortunately, there is a huge disconnect between traditional advertising, marketing managers, and digital media. Ten years ago marketing managers would spend R1 million on a few adverts in a Sunday newspaper to ‘brand’ their company. But there was little or no way to measure the success of the adverts.

Today R2000pm can produce 25 leads or bring people to your website. Are traditional advertising agencies and marketing managers providing any benefit? Hopefully, they are by moving with the times and learning what is new on digital platforms. Without this marketing people will be left behind.

Developing an Online Marketing Strategy – Consistency

Developing an Online Marketing Strategy – Consistency

By Christopher Smith, account manager, Sha-Izwe Communications

Part 5 of 5

In Part 5, and the final part of this series, we will look at one of the key elements of a successful marketing strategy, Consistency.

Many times l have seen people start off with enthusiasm, but this quickly dwindles if the correct foundations are not in place. These foundations are what we have covered in the previous four articles. Having a plan will ensure that your marketing efforts will continue, based on a strong foundational strategy.

Consistency Sells

Research has shown that people need to hear something seven times before the message starts setting in. This is why consistent marketing is needed to be effective. Placing an advert once in a magazine or online will do little. Numerous adverts will reinforce the message.

We live in a society where we are continually bombarded with information from all angles, and as a result businesses are looking for ways to better targeted their advertising. Hence the opportunities with social and digital media abound.

Each and every company has a target audience, either small or large. Either way, people are looking for results and value. We need to give our audience reasons to digest and follow the content we show them. This is why we need to be consistent in providing information and content that is not simply reused across platforms. Ideally, content should be created individually for each platform. This is covered in Part Two of our series.

For example, you may want to record a video and upload it to YouTube. Or do a quick video for Instagram, or reuse some highlights on Twitter, and link this content back to your website. Be careful not to duplicate exactly the content on each platform.

There are ways to reuse your content in a way that it doesn’t look like it was automated and that little attention was put into it. Consistency requires effort, and when your audience sees effort, it gives more reason to follow you on social media. Also use a spread of content, covering as many digital platforms as you can handle.

Don’t post to a platform if you can’t manage it

I saw a YouTube video that had numerous views, but the link for people to access the offer was broken. People commented about this but no one from the company followed up. Companies fall short of managing their platforms, and old, static websites, turn people away.

There is a link between Consistency and Content. To ensure Consistency it is important to plan content, even weeks in advance, or even only the topics, to ensure Consistency.

Developing an Online Marketing Strategy – Using Online Adverts

Developing an Online Marketing Strategy – Using Online Adverts

By Christopher Smith, account manager, Sha-Izwe Communications

Part 4 of 5

Using online advertising is a crucial part of an online marketing strategy. Online advertising helps to reach, research and understand your target audience better. In this article we take a look at the different platforms available and why you should use them.

Certain advertising platforms have an easy-to-use interface while others are complex. For example, Facebook’s interface is relatively easy to work with and understand. Google Ads are quite complicated.

Facebook Ads
Facebook ads can be rewarding when you start seeing the results and return from a relatively small ad spend. Facebook offers a number of different advertising products which, if well utilised, can offer great returns.

Boosted posts, when utilised correctly, can be an inexpensive and effective way of promoting a post. When boosting, do not hit the boost button below the post, rather go through your Facebook ads manager. This gives you more control over the targeting. When we ourselves boost, we only boost to people who have either liked our page or visited our website. So we know that the correct audience is being targeted.

‘Likes’ campaigns are purely there to achieve more page likes. The problem is that your audience does not necessarily see the posts on their page, which is why we only boost to people who have liked the page. This helps achieve more interaction on your page likes and hence increase page reach.

It is essential to have a Facebook Pixel installed on your website. It is easy to install. The pixel helps retarget people who have visited your website. You are able to segment people when using the pixel and even determine who visited specific website pages. This helps to finely target your Facebook Ads. For example, if someone is looking to hire a car in Durban during the month of August, you can advertise your August car hire promo to them.

Facebook Lead Ads are a great way for people to quickly submit their information to you with the lead being passed on to a sales agent. The advantage is that Lead Ads keep the user in Facebook, so no slow loading and hard-to-navigate third-party pages.

Another advantage is that Facebook automatically populates a lot of the fields for you from the user’s profile – such as first name, surname, email address and telephone number, making it super quick for the prospect to fill in the form. The user does not required to re-type their Facebook profile information. Lead ads can also sync directly with a CRM package to create an automated sales processes. Studies have shown that Lead Ads should be followed up within five minutes.

Google Search Ads work particularly well for people who are searching for a product or solution. For example, you are able target people who are looking for a plumbing service in Greenside. Google display ads work well for visual products and particularly well for remarketing such as clothing products. Display ads are often shown on third-party websites such as the New York Times

LinkedIn Ads are great for targeting job titles and work well for corporates. The ads offer similar options to Facebook, i.e promoted posts, Lead Ads etc. The only downside is that LinkedIn ads are expensive compared to Facebook. We haven’t seen great returns on them.

Twitter Ads
Twitter offers basic advertising on their platforms. We haven’t seen much value in Twitter unless you are a consumer brand, well recognised in the country. We battle to target effectively on Twitter ads.

Remember that when designing an advert, make sure you design it with your target audience in mind. Think about what their challenges may be. Also keep in mind that people are busy and you have about a second to catch their attention. Use a rapid-fire technique to work on personas and demographics. You can download my template here

rapid fire

The tools we use include AdEspresso which is great for managing your ads. Photoshop and Canva can be used for resizing adverts to fit into the correct dimension for the specific platform. Instagram ads are totally different to desktop Facebook ads and often need to be resized. We use Zapier to create the connection between Facebook and our CRM package. Zapier will also automatically email you when a lead comes through.

The question is: How has your experience with online ads been so far? Have you seen great returns?