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.
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.
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 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!
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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 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
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?
By Christopher Smith, account manager, Sha-Izwe Communications
Part 3 of 5
Finding website and social media content can unexpectedly prove to be one of the most difficult parts of developing a content plan and certainly one of the most crucial. It is easy to start out but becomes a challenge as time goes by and you realise you can’t recycle the content you’ve already posted.
There are a few fundamentals when putting together a content plan for social media. Firstly, social media was never intended to be a billboard. As simple as it sounds, social media is supposed to be social and your content should always point back to that. People are interested in seeing the life of your company behind the scenes, and the interesting and fun aspects of your company.
As we saw in the previous article (Part 2), looking at each social network individually and holistically, we saw that it is important to ask “why is this content important and what messaging does it align to”.
For example, you may want to focus on specific product or service offerings. So make sure your content aligns to this. Once a week, make sure your plan has a social media post centred around services to make sure your audience remembers that you don’t only sell product but also provide services.
When developing a social plan, remember to make sure that the content aligns to your audience. In the first article (Part 1) we discussed researching your audience.
If the majority of your clientele are under 23 years old, they may only just be entering the market and won’t be able to afford high-end items. Alternatively, the products you may be marketing may not be relevant to them.
For example, certain clothing items may not be relevant to your audience. If you started seeing half ripped clothing with diamonds embroidered on the Cape Union Mart Facebook page, it may seem odd and not applicable to their outdoor and camping audience.
The goal is to build an audience that is unique to you, one that views you as a leader in what you specialise in. Ensure that your content communicates this in a subtle but fun way. It may not mean boasting, but posting about achievements and moments you are proud of within your company are important. Communicate the company ethos. For example, if your company prides itself on health & wellness, show some moments relating to this, such as wellness days, blood drives, healthy food initiatives etc.
Social media can be fun and exciting, especially when the entire company is onboard with the social media vision and strategy. You’ll find you won’t be the only one creating content but the rest of the employees will assist in creating fun, behind-the-scenes content. But remember, posts need to be managed centrally where information and content are gathered. Only designated people should be allowed to do posts. This needs to be strictly controlled.
Getting staff and management on board is hugely beneficial. Often statistics can help motivate this. If you can show that x amount of people saw and interacted with content on social media, it will help to get employees and management on board.