If you’re running a small business, it’s understood that you probably don’t have the budget or resources to employ an entire top-notch marketing squad to be at your beck and call when you need them, or even at all. Just because you don’t have the cash to have the biggest team, though, doesn’t mean you can’t make the most and do the best you can with what you’ve got to work with.
Small marketing teams can still churn out great strategies and execute successful sales pitches just like the big dogs can. The key to doing so is simply knowing what you have to work with and utilizing it to the best of your ability. Don’t over or undersell yourself. If your goals are too lofty, it’s very easy to sink. Undervaluing your marketing team can also mean not working at your full potential. This means you’re missing leads, exposure and sales you could have gotten otherwise.
The first step is starting with a nice and sturdy team foundation. Both your content management and marketing team have to know they have a solid backbone in order to be happy and productive, so it’s your job to start setting them up for success.
Reuse and Recycle Resources
Chances are you have a pretty limited budget to work with in terms of your content production, and that’s okay. To start with, try to repurpose as much already existing content as possible. It’s not being cheap; it’s being financially responsible and fiscally smart.
This also allows for a content management team to get creative. There are a wide variety of mediums and platforms to post content on, and this leads to more opportunities to diversify the content you’re pushing out. This kind of repurposing saves time and money. You don’t have to continually pump out more content when you can just refashion content you already have.
The ultimate upside to this comes in when you think of how small your team is. The fewer team members that exist, the more each person has to give their all to support the cause. Recycling content means that a little bit of the pressure is pulled off of the generation of new ideas and into the realm of “how can I make this old idea seem new again,” an effort that many say is easier than starting over completely.
Make the Environment Positive
It’s not just something for feng shui and yoga: positivity in the workplace does lead to more productivity and happier employees. It’s been found time and time again that nurturing employees and team members leads to better quality work that put out at a faster rate.
This sort of dichotomy is especially necessary in smaller teams. Bigger teams have an expectation that a voice will get lost in the crowd. Think like this: you have a team of 50 marketing experts. How long will it take to hear all of their voices and how many will actually be valuable?
If you have five people on your team, each person has the ability to fully voice their opinion and every spare set of eyes and ears is absolutely necessary. When these team members feel heard and important, they don’t feel excluded and downtrodden, leading to a better work output.
You also don’t want to lose any employees on an already small team. If someone, even just one person, on that team feels excluded or like they don’t want to work anymore, their quitting can leave a huge impact on your entire marketing division and content goals. Remember that on small teams, no one is expendable.
As a small business owner, you have a lot on your plate, and so do all your employees. Especially obvious when you’re just getting started, it can be difficult to juggle all of your tasks at once. Think about how this can make life hell for an already underfunded and resource-lacking team.
The answer can sometimes be outsourcing. It’s good to keep a majority of your work in-house and to not let employees fall by the wayside, but sending off some projects to outside sources can help alleviate the stressful load you and your employees are facing.
This can also be a very good strategy based on understanding the skillsets present in your team. A team with a lot of people who are good at content creation but who lack in the management area can be great for content repurposing and producing, but content posting and management can be delegated to someone outside the business.
Hopefully, you’ll find these ideas intriguing and consider exploring them within your own client work.
Building a customer hub
Your client’s growthcomes from creating a great experience for their customers, which can in turn lead them to referrals, increased conversion, and repeat purchases. This experience extends beyond just their website, and spans the entire ‘lifecycle’ of your client’s relationship with their customer.
A lifecycle consists of all the touch-points customers have with a company; it’s the buying journey of discovering a product, making a purchase, receiving the product, and beyond. The best way to create a great experience for customers across this lifecycle is to first better understand them. This can be achieved by building a profile of your client’s customers by looking at all the data touch-points can provide.
Ideally, you have a single tool that is building this centralized profile, something we like to generally refer to as the Customer Hub.
By sourcing data from every touch-point, such as on-site behavior, purchase history, email marketing, support tickets, etc., you begin to form a holistic profile of your client’s customer. As you begin to form these profiles, you can look at them in aggregate and start identifying interesting patterns and groups. These groups – based on factors such as purchase volume, location, and demographics – are often referred to as Segments.
Once established, you can use these Segments to create more personalized marketing and a better customer experience. Suddenly, you can identify which products sell best to which Segments, and create specific offers and messaging to appeal to those unique audiences. The result is a highly personalized customer experience driven entirely by the data you’ve captured in your Customer Hub. I highly recommend looking at Klaviyo, Lumiary, or Sauce as potential Customer Hubs that enable this sort of analysis.
In addition to an aggregate categorization of customers based on Segments, creating a Customer Hub allows for improved one-to-one customer support. Rather than your client handling customer support issues with only the context of a single order, using the enriched profiles created in a Customer Hub allows a more holistic understanding of the customers they’re helping.
Your client will have a better sense of how long they’ve been a customer, their entire order history, how engaged they are with marketing, and whether or not they’re even profitable (someone on their sixth support ticket might not be worth the trouble).
Once extended into a physical retail environment, the power of a Customer Hub grows exponentially, as service representatives are able to both utilize and capture heaps of data on customers. Over time, as more data sources are pulled into a Customer Hub, your client’s understanding will only continue to grow and improve their customer’s experience.
Merchandising over cataloging
Roughly a year ago, I walked into the retail store of a client. We were kicking off the design of their new Shopify website and I figured it would make sense to spend an afternoon at one of their physical locations. What struck me almost immediately was the emphasis on themed displays, located at the entrance of the store. There were several tables set up with products all inspired by similar themes, whether movie-related, season-related, meme-related, etc.
This client certainly was not the first to set up these sort of displays, in fact, it’s an age-old retail technique known as merchandising. Companies such as Macy’s became famous for their themed window displays, spawning an entire industry of agencies that specialized in creating highly-decorative displays. In thinking how we could apply elements of our client’s in-store experience, we gave more thought to this concept of merchandising and its role in ecommerce. Specifically, we started with thinking through their site structure and navigation.
When discussing strategies for site navigation with our clients, the bulk of folks focus on a catalog approach to their structure. This entails attribute-driven navigation, which allows users to browse and filter products by basic attributes, such as gender, type, color, and size. Attribute-driven navigation is effective for users who want an experience focused on finding a specific product, but leaves something to be desired for customers interested in a discovery-driven experience. It doesn’t provide a curated display table that might inspire a wandering customer to dig a little deeper. This is where we saw an opportunity to apply merchandising to the ecommerce world.
Using Shopify’s Collection feature, it’s easy to manually curate groups of products based on any sort of shared theme. Paired with unique imagery and content related to that collection’s theme as a whole, we can create our own online display table. The key is to use this additional imagery and content to build as much of a story around the theme as possible. Customers often purchase products for the story they tell, rather than for its attributes or features. Merchandising allows you to craft this story around products and provide a unique means for customers to discover products they might not have initially searched for.
Designing for accessibility
The concept of optimization is often brought up during the process of designing and developing an ecommerce website. Search Engine Optimization, Load Speed Optimization, and Conversion Optimization are all commonly-discussed strategies in such a project.
One area of optimization that doesn’t get discussed as much is Accessibility Optimization. According to the National Federation of the Blind, it’s estimated that there are more than seven million people affected by blindness within the U.S. alone. This fairly significant population should also get a great website experience, and has money to spend like anyone else visiting your site.
Recently, one of our clients requested we improve the accessibility of their website, and ever since we’ve been paying more attention to this often over-looked aspect of web design.
If you’re open to introducing this practice into your design standards, there are tools and tactics readily available for anyone willing to spend the time improving the accessibility of their websites. The United States Access Board has put together detailed guidelines for ensuring accessibility.
For those looking for a more abridged version, Tech Republic has put together a great article summarizing many of the key points within these standards. In addition, screen reader tools such as Apple VoiceOver and JAWS make the process of testing and optimizing for accessibility easier.
Frankly, many of the tactics suggested for Accessibility Optimization are good practices in general. Many relate directly to Search Engine Optimization, and as new devices and technologies emerge that might rely on accurate text reading, these practices could help the future proofing of your work. Some of these best-practices include adding alt tags and title tags to images, ensuring form fields are properly labeled and tab-ordered, and adding external links to embedded content.
In general, taking a little extra time to make your website more accessible not only opens up your market to a demographic of seven million plus consumers, but also ensures you’re building good technology.
Several years ago, the active lifestyle brand LifeSpan hired my agency to launch its line of treadmill desks. Novelty was on our side. When consumers imagined workplace activity, they didn’t usually think past dusty company gyms and sweaty lunchtime jogs. We had something new and different, but if we were successful launching the line, what would happen after the newness wore off? We created an approach that has driven consistent national media results, year after year, with minimal running tweaks, and could be written on one side of a napkin.
Based on what we learned in the process of earning hundreds of millions of consumer impressions, here are six ways to put together a campaign that’s built to last:
1. Use Every New Study as an Opportunity
“Sitting is the new smoking.” “Your desk job is killing you.” “Get out of your chair.” Those were the headlines as we prepared for launch, and are still the headlines today. We’re very lucky major universities are always publishing research on the negative effects of sedentary lifestyles, linking too much sitting with increased risk for serious diseases. We use each new study as an opportunity to engage our extensive editorial contacts at national health, business and technology media outlets, to remind them why this product matters. But we don’t wait for studies to fall into our laps, and we certainly don’t spend hours checking the health and science sections of CNN, or combing through medical journals. We set up a broad set of monitoring terms covering the downsides of being sedentary. If there’s an issue affecting your customer, which your client’s product was designed to help, monitor for that issue poking its head into stories. It doesn’t even need to be a serious issue. For example, we’ve been toying with the idea of monitoring around the post-lunch food coma.
2. Keep Putting the Customers Out Front
The best stories aren’t about products; they’re about people using the products in interesting ways. Some LifeSpan customers purchase their treadmill desks after suffering the adverse effects of sedentary behavior, like heart attacks and blood clots, following the advice of a doctor. Many of their doctors are treadmill desk advocates, as well. These individuals are a running focal point of our campaign, and sharing their stories helps reporters understand this product isn’t simply a gadget; it’s a potential lifesaver. This is where an open line of communication with the sales and customer service teams comes into play. Sales can alert you of big-name or big-quantity orders as they happen. And customer service can forward you emails from super-fans who’ve had their lives changed by the product and are probably willing to go on the record. A constant influx of fresh success stories is key to a sustained campaign’s longevity.
3. Constantly Mine the Company for Employee Stories
From the head of the company down to the mailroom, people within the organization may have personal stories that fit your communications goals. Nearly a year into the campaign, we learned one LifeSpan executive spent a good portion of his career in the office equipment business, at a time when the goal was to eliminate movement. Rather than skimming over this detail, it’s used to illustrate how a trend has been turned on its head. His front row seat to science influencing the reintroduction of physical activity into the workplace makes him an undeniable trend expert. These stories may come from the oldest company veteran to the newest hire. Ask around.
4. Start With Your Rolodex, and Never Let It Get Stale
In the opening rounds of any PR campaign, any good agency knows who its targets will be: top-shelf reporters with whom we’ve earned trust and respect over time. These relationships remain a large part of why we’re hired. But after you’ve knocked on all the right doors and created your first set of opportunities, it’s time to create new relationships. Daily media monitoring to uncover fresh editorial contacts reporting on the intersection of wellness and technology keeps our LifeSpan connections growing, and ensures efforts stay up to date. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on who’s moderating panels at major industry conferences. Not only are those individuals major influencers, they’re often asked to select their own panelists—which could include your company president.
5. Never Stop Walking the Talk
When starting on a new account, the team should make a commitment to understanding the product by bringing it into their lives. There’s no better way to explain to the media how something works. If it’s a beer, drink the beer. If it’s mouse traps, set them around your house. If it’s a treadmill desk, start walking. LifeSpan sent a treadmill desk to our Boston office near the beginning of the relationship. During pitch calls, I would often tell reporters, “By the way, the entire time we’ve been speaking, I’ve been using the product.” This drove home the ease of walking and working, sparked journalists’ interest and was often a factor in getting them to commit to a story. In three years, I logged more than 3,000 miles on it—the distance from Boston to San Francisco. Firsthand experience with a product also prevents easily-avoided critiques from appearing in stories. For instance, if a reporter complains about a beeping noise when a product’s buttons are pressed, your familiarity will guide them toward the mute option. A commitment to using the product shouldn’t end with the first results report. It should stay current through every product refresh and update.
6. Always Set Up the Product for Success
You can’t be there for every press demo you secure, but your clients’ affiliates can be. When the product you’re working with is large enough to require a crew to deliver it, you’re running a risk, but also creating a golden opportunity. If the crew is well-prepared, not only will they leave the reporter with a demo unit that’s ready for primetime, they’ll be able to give them a one-on-one tutorial. LifeSpan’s sales team and retailer reps are frequently our boots on the ground, delivering and setting up review units at editors’ offices across the country, and breaking them down after each extensive review. If you’re promoting a box of crackers—sure, you could mail the crackers to a food editor and hope for the best. Or you could set up a tasting with an in-house expert who could guide the editor through the range of flavors they’re experiencing. Guess which scenario sets the stage for a more detailed review? Something to consider when repeatedly counting on company personnel is to space out your requests over time. Group them in batches, so you’re not asking non-communications team members to make too many trips on your behalf too often.
Three years later, our media placements are a key piece of LifeSpan’s workplace marketing. Highlights include LIVE with Kelly and Michael, CBS News, BBC World News, Newsweek, BuzzFeed and many more. Our ongoing approach creates a steady flow of media coverage that keeps LifeSpan out front as the category leader. The most significant tweak we’ve made along the way is in the messaging. We initially positioned the product as a way to work out at work. It sounded good, but it wasn’t right for a product that when used correctly, prevents users from getting sweaty or sounding out of breath. We sometimes find ourselves encountering and having to correct that initial messaging in the marketplace—an important lesson for anyone deciding on a launch message. Today, it’s about replacing time spent sitting with time spent moving. Over the long term, the campaign has helped popularize the idea of treadmill desks, educated people on their proper use, helped evolve their perception into accessible, easy-to-use pieces of office equipment and assisted the category’s transition out of a niche and into mainstream corporate America.
The sophistication of the discipline of measurement has grown by leaps and bounds, as everyone in the PR and marketing worlds knows. The thing is, word has gotten out, and it’s not only people in those worlds who know. Those who enlist your services are going to want to see evidence of ROI, and what’s more, they’ll want to see that your practices are up to date, meaningful and impactful. Savvy clients and execs aren’t going to be satisfied by a bullet point that says “We do measurement.” Check! Next item! No, those days are past.
In her article in The Book of PR Measurement Strategies & Tactics, Laura A. Borgstede, CEO of Calysto, suggests that answering questions like “What am I getting for my budget?” with analytics should be a complimentary service to clients. To show clients or senior leaders that you offer the total package in a convincing and thorough way, absorb her five tips for effectively communicating the value of your services.
Pick the right metrics. Map your company’s service offerings to the warranted KPIs. Remember that the objective of your PR and marketing metrics is to drive sales of your services. Therefore, avoid pointing out deficiencies that you are not prepared to address.
Find the right tools. The Internet abounds with marketing metric measurement tools and techniques. They range from free services to paid commercial services to hybrids (so-called “freemiums” that may provide basic features for free with more comprehensive capabilities). Pick one that best fits your needs in terms of KPI measures and budget. Note that in some cases it may be necessary to use more than one platform to cover all the KPIs your client needs to measure.
Get in the habit. Run client analyses on a regular basis. Your clients’ needs (or perhaps budget cycle) may dictate the frequency of each analysis. In any case, analysis should be undertaken often enough so that clients come to expect it as a normal part of their PR or marketing communications process.
Let account teams carry the ball. Running marketing metrics for clients is an excellent way to provide consultative selling opportunities for your teams. To do so, running the reports, meeting with clients to explain the analytics and using results of the analysis to chart next steps in the client’s account plan need to be inherent parts of the process. To empower teams in this manner, they’ll need extensive training in the use of the tools employed as part of your service so they become comfortable using them with clients.
Market, market, market. For marketing analytics to become an integral part of your professional service offerings, it needs to be promoted in the same manner as your other services.
Let’s dig in to what some of the basics are for an effective call to action.
Making an Effective Call to Action: The Basics
While this is something that can be tested, optimized and modified for years depending on your store, it’s good to have a basic understanding of what techniques should be used to make an effective call to action.
Urgency Increases Conversion Rates
When shoppers feel an opportunity is limited, they may be more inclined to purchase.
You see it in retail store displays all the time. Often, you’ll see end of season sales that run for a week. The same can be applied to your ecommerce store.
For instance, if somewhere on your storefront you included a stock level, or something that says “Buy now – only on sale until midnight” then you’re building on the sense of urgency.
A case study by the team at ConversionXL shows that by adding a sense of urgency to their product, they were able to increase their conversion rate by 332%. That’s a huge lift for any business.
Here are a few tips to consider when determining which color to use for your CTA.
Use white space around your CTA to make it clear where to click
Make sure it stands out from the background
Don’t make it too crazy with colors and animations
Use Simple Buttons and Copy
While most Shopify themes already include this feature, it’s good to make sure your CTA appears as a button and not just text. Even if its surrounded with a small border, it’s better than having just a text link.
There is a lot of data and studies that show that buttons work well for directing visitors to the checkout process.
Make sure to keep the text within the button short and sweet as well. A simple “buy now”, “add to cart”, “buy” works well.
Tip: You can cater your button copy to the market you’re selling. If you’re selling something like coffee, try changing the copy on your buy button to “Brew it” and see if that helps with conversions!
Hero Images Are Important on Your Storefront
Hero images can be used to highlight a product or collection – in other words, they can be used as a massive call to action.
One study by Notre Dame University shows that the first image out of five images received 84% of all clicks on stores with rotating slideshows.
Be sure to have your hero image link to a product, or collection to get visitors to checkout faster.
Keep it “Above the Fold”
Try to keep everything above the fold if you can. The “fold” of a storefront is the point on any website that comes after scrolling down. Any content above the fold is what visitors immediately see upon entering your store.
If you can grab a visitors attention above the fold, chances are they’ll continue to click through and navigate through your store.
Let’s take a look at some stores that have achieved success and employ some of these techniques on their store.
By clearly stating that their hoodies in black and gold are limited edition, it immediately adds the notion of urgency and scarcity to the product.
Chances are, if you were looking to buy some Beastmode Apparel after the Superbowl and saw that, you’d be more inclined to complete a purchase.
Secondly, they utilize the idea of encapsulating the call to action button by surrounding the “Shop Now” text with a rectangular border. It stands out from the background, and grabs a visitors attention.
In marketing, you can be too social. Or not social enough. Or social where it doesn’t count — the digital equivalent of showing up at the wrong party. How to know if this applies to you? Here, three signs that you need to fix your strategy — and where you need to double down.
Warning #1: You aren’t seeing any business results.
Solution: “Results” can mean so many things — increasing brand awareness, building authority in your industry, boosting sales or conversions, giving your brand personality, servicing customers or something totally different. There’s no way your social media presence will accomplish all those things at once, so focus on just one or two goals to start. Figure out what your top priority is, and then think about using social media more strategically to accomplish that goal.
Warning #2: You feel like you’re shouting into the ether.
Solution: You may not be using the appropriate social networks. If you’re a company with largely rural customers, for example, what are you doing on Twitter? According to the Pew Research Center, that platform is far more popular with urbanites. There’s no rule that you have to be on every platform, so pick the ones that match your audience. One way to figure that out: Check your website’s Google Analytics to see which networks are most robustly referring traffic. That’s where your audience is. Now go meet them there.
Warning #3: Your followers rarely like, share or comment.
Solution: Are you being too self-promotional? Take a look at MailChimp’s social media. The company sells email services, but its content focuses on making email suck a little less for us all. (Recent tweet: “Our content calendar makes us really happy. Here’s why you should use one,” and a link to read more.) Saddleback Bags sells leather goods, but its social content frequently focuses on the adventurous lives of people who use them. What both have in common: Rather than being self-promotional, they’re creating value for their audience. Think about the ways your products or services can help people and the larger context in which your company operates. That’s what your customers want from you — and if you deliver, they’ll like it (and share and comment).
Mobile is perhaps the biggest change that consumers love. In 2015 mobile search outpaced desktop search for the first time and currently 79 percent of consumers use their devices to conduct local searches. ReachLocal noted that 72 percent of consumers want to visit mobile friendly sites, and 74 percent would revisit mobile friendly sites. Note: it’s important to optimize for mobile, because consumers can be very fickle.
Buy buttons could also shape up to be a huge boon for marketers and for consumers in 2016. On Pinterest, which already has a button, there are 60 million buy pins on the site. Twitter’s buy button lets users purchase directly from a tweet, and Google is integrating buy buttons into ads so users can make purchases directly from search results. Even Facebook doesn’t want to get left behind.
Polls and quizzes are also on the rise. Quizzes were the most shared content type on Facebook last year, and 96 percent of users who take a sponsored BuzzFeed quiz will complete it. Quizzes have shown that providing a simple way for users to relate enables publishers can generate a lot of shares; a key metric many still struggle with.
For more information on live streaming apps, and to see why it’s important to capture local search, view the infographic below.
Most nonprofits are likely aiming to amp up their social media presence this year.
The Global Web Index 2015 report reveals that an average person has five social media accounts and spends 100 minutes browsing them every day. Social media is a very competitive landscape, but also a fine opportunity for nonprofits to tell their story, engage their supporters, and drive donations.
In this post we’ll guide nonprofits through the process of building an effective digital marketing strategy from scratch, with or without the backing of professional design resources. We’ll even invite you to check out Canva’s nonprofit resource page, with a ton of testimonials from leading NGOs.
Without further adieu, let’s get cracking on that social media strategy:
02. Determine Your Key Performance Goals
Before you can execute a successful social media strategy, you must clearly identify what you’re aiming to achieve. As a shortcut, Hubspot’s identified the top 7 reasons nonprofits use social media:
Education about the cause and mission;
Donor recognition; and,
Once you’ve identified what you’ll be using social media to achieve, it’s important to implement measures for success.
Your social media success KPIs should reflect your nonprofit’s success in creating long-term sustained interactions with audiences, so using metrics to accurately measure the conversion and retention of customers along this journey will be most beneficial.
For instance, number of views on a Facebook post might reflect an increase in awareness; number of clicks might reflect interest in your cause and donation dollars capture the conversion of new customers.
03. Decide on Your Target Audience
Before you even write a single post, it’s important to know who you’re writing for.
An established nonprofit may already have a good sense of their key audience demographic, but it’s still a great exercise to develop user personas.
So, how do you discover your user personas?
Conduct surveys and interviews. The best personas are often created by getting out there and talking to your audience. It will give a human face to a collection of abstract data and it will allow you to classify groups for different social media campaigns.
Armed with this knowledge, you may end up writing two posts on the same subject with a different angle for each customer group.
See3 provides a great case study example with Make-A-Wish Foundation.
04. Choose the Channel That’s Right for You
Once your audience is clearly defined, you’ll then need to know where they hang out before you can start communicating with them. It’s not only important to understand where your users are congregating, you also need to know where they’re most active and most vocal.
“You’d never speak at a conference if all the attendees were next door, so why try engage an audience if they’re active on another social platform?” says Anna Guerrero, a member of Canva’s growth marketing team.
Focus on 2-3 active platforms. Too many nonprofits start by creating accounts on multiple platforms, only for them to become inactive in a matter of months. Not responding to your followers damages the brand more than not having a presence on the platform at all.
Use tools like BuzzSumo to better understand where your target market is most active and what content they’re likely to share.
If your campaign includes visual imagery, Canva’s Magic Resize Tool can save you a huge amount of time by easily resizing your design into any format you need at the click of a button.
05. Create Your Content Strategy
You’re already three quarters of the way there: you’ve done your audience research and understood the channels most likely to reach your target audience.
Now it’s time to focus on content.
Without a framework for what to say and a plan for how and when to say it, you risk leaving your audiences confused (best case scenario), or them ignoring you (worst case scenario). Who wants that?
Here are 5 quick tips to help you build a strong content strategy for your nonprofit:
Content Strategy Tip 1: Know your voice
You work at your nonprofit because you’re passionate about its cause, right? So speak that cause. Everything you say in your posts should ‘sound’ like your brand and reflect the image you wish to portray.
Content Strategy Tip 2: Create a pattern of frequency
Creating a calendar that sets out what you’re going to say and when you’re going to say it allows you to plan for when your audience is most likely to listen.
Make sure your content is relevant to where people are in their lives and the season. Automating your content publishing also ensures your nonprofit maintains presence without tying up resources.
Tools like Hootsuite and Buffer help you to manage your social media schedule and listen to your audience’s feedback.
If you’re after a free solution, managing your schedule in daily/weekly/monthly folders (on your computer or in dropbox) works well too.
Content Strategy Tip 3: Understand your audience behaviour
Why would your audience ‘follow’ or ‘like’ you? What kind of person is going to click the ‘donate’ button, add a comment or share your content to their friends? It’s so important to make sure you’re talking to your audience not at them. Ask questions, invite feedback, tell a story, but make it a conversation.
Visual imagery often creates emotional triggers that words sometimes cannot. Use high quality photographs, images, graphics, videos and hashtags. You may be thinking, “But quality is expensive!” It doesn’t have to be. All the stock photos on Canva are only $1 each.
Content Strategy Tip 4: Solve your audience’s problems
Nonprofits are used to asking for things from their audience. Whether it’s to promote a cause, sign a petition, volunteer or give a donation.
Social media can be used to solve people’s problems, but it can also empower people to help achieve your goals. By making useful information easily accessible for others, you can build a reciprocal relationship that builds trust. All of this leads to greater audience retention.
Content Strategy Tip 5: Be True
This is by far the most important tip. The best way to engage with your audience is to be human, just like in the real world. Loud and obnoxious people who trumpet all their achievements at parties never get respect.
Good content isn’t superficial and viewers will pick up on insincerity in a heartbeat, so if you’re honest, relevant and true to your cause, your audience is far more likely to engage with your content and recommend you to their friends.
06. Engagement, Engagement, Engagement!
If there’s one secret to social media, this is it. There’s no ROI without engagement.
Let’s take another real world example. You’re at a dinner party and sitting on either side of you are two people you’ve never met before.
The girl on your right introduces herself and asks you questions about where you grew up, your hobbies and relationships to mutual friends at the dinner. When answering her questions she looks you in the eye, undistracted, and often chimes in with common interests.
The guy on your left introduces himself and immediately tells you why he’s at the party, about his week, and why his friends think he’s so funny. He doesn’t ask you a single question or establish mutual friends or interests.
Who are you going to be more interested in continuing the conversation with and who are you going to escape at your first opportunity?
The same goes with social media. Posting for the sake of posting simply won’t get you the results you’re after. The goal is to capture the attention of your audience and motivate them to listen, relate, respond and, hopefully, share.
Engagement Tip 1: Identify the Trigger Points
The first step to engaging your audience is identifying the types of content they respond to. You’ll need to do a bit of research and testing to achieve this. See how other similar organisations are successfully engaging their audiences.
Using keyword searches and hashtags can help determine the popular topics and content that draws your audience’s attention.
Once you know what they’re looking for, be explorative. Try various content formats, topics and headlines to identify the material that generates attention and creates conversation and clicks.
Engagement Tip 2: Invite Conversation
Just like in the real world example above, people are much more likely to engage when asking questions or inviting feedback. Whether you publish surveys, seek advice, start a dialogue or promote a competition, motivate your audience to get involved.
The very essence of social media is just that, being social. While your tone may be more formal on other channels, social media is a particularly good place to cultivate a personable brand voice that helps your supporters feel connected. Don’t be afraid to use humor here either.
Sharing exposes your content to channels you wouldn’t otherwise be able to penetrate. Make your posts easy to share by using imagery, infographics and shortlinks. Take the time to respond when people share their thoughts with you (you’d be surprised how many people miss out on that.).
Engagement Tip 3: Measure Your Results and Repeat
There’s no point trying out all of these different strategies without tracking your efforts and learning what successfully engaged your audience and what didn’t. Engagement will often be aligned with conversions, but be disciplined in your approach to understanding engaging material.
To encourage their followers to consider the importance of solar power, Greenpeace posted a tweet that simply posed a question. Although one could argue this question is rhetorical, what makes this such a powerful caption is that it’s encouraging others for their opinion and their point of view.
What’s more important than the 136 likes is the level of engagement from users. This post was retweeted 135 times and multiple comments were made. It would have been even better if Greenpeace had replied to some of these comments.
07. Track and Measure Your Results
“There’s nothing difficult about analysis, except the diligence to actually do it” — Andrianes Pinantoan, Growth Marketer at Canva.
So far in this article we’ve discussed that social media can be an extraordinarily effective marketing tool, but it can also be a tremendous time sink for nonprofits that don’t monitor the success/failure of their campaigns.
While keeping an eye on followers, shares and likes gives some insight, there are other metrics that are far more important, but often ignored.
Miss these, and your ability to drive major performance results from your social media campaigns will decline significantly.
So what metrics should you look for?
We’ve identified already that the primary goal of your social media campaign should be boosting customer engagement and brand awareness, so you’ll want to monitor metrics that provide valuable insights into these facets.
It’s also important with each campaign to ask yourself what you’re trying to achieve. Is it to attract donations, signups to your newsletter or perhaps conference attendees?
Tracking performance and demonstrating results will show the leaders of your nonprofit the importance of investing the time and resources into social media.
Metric 1: Brand Sentiment
When it comes to social media, all publicity isn’t good publicity. Negative consumer sentiment can destroy your brand in a short time. Keep an eye on people’s comments and replies as well as how they’re sharing your posts.
Having a plan for how how you’ll respond to negative responses is just as important as avoiding it altogether.
In social psychology, attribution is the process of explaining the causes of behavior and events. Social media is no different, it’s critical to understand how the things you’re saying are causing people to respond.
While followers and mentions can be a good indicator of overall brand awareness, it provides little information about how certain conversations drive particular actions.
Marketo and Convertro do a great job of measuring how many social interactions it takes before one of your prospects becomes a customer (however you choose to define “customer”).
This kind of information helps define what a good campaign looks like to your audience and how to better allocate your marketing resources towards successful social strategies.
Metric 3: Klout Score
Klout has become an increasingly popular tool for measuring social engagement. Klout effectively measures if your marketing efforts are resulting in better brand recognition or higher perceived authority.
It’s also valuable to track other organisations’ scores as an indication of how effectively they’re engaging with their social media followers.
Make sure you consistently monitor your score over time and track it against your campaigns. While Klout claims that 100 million people use its platform, I suspect that many do not actively monitor their score — do not be that person.
Metric 4: Inbound links and tracking codes
When using links in your social media campaigns as a call to action, it’s important to track them through to your website, donation page, or blog post.
After a successful campaign you may notice that hits to your site increase. If you can identify these surges and tie them to specific social activities, you’ll gain significant insight into which of your campaigns have made the biggest difference.
Most quality analytics tools will tell you where your clicks come from, but you can also use tools like Google UTM Tracker or Bitlt’s url shortening tool to track unique campaigns across multiple channels and monitor their overall success.
Metric 5: Brand Search Volume
A 2009 study by GroupM_Next found that customers exposed to a brand on social media are 180 percent more likely to search for that brand on Google. This clearly demonstrates that search volume for your nonprofit is an important metric, yet many brands somehow fail to monitor it.
Research also suggests that social media plays an important role in SEO too, with Quicksprout reporting that 74% of companies and 82% of agencies saying that social media is either somewhat or highly integrated into their SEO strategy.
Ultimately, the web is all about building relationships, fostering audiences, expressing identity and sharing ideas – it’s inherently social, so it’s important not to ignore how your audience is searching for your brand outside of your social channels.
Tools like Google Insights and Google Trends compare changes in search volume for your brand over time and even allow you to track this against other nonprofits in the sector (to see how their social strategies are weighing up against yours).
For a more in-depth list of metrics, Buffer has comprised a comprehensive list of “61 Key Social Media Metrics”, which they have split into different categories, allowing you to identify the metrics most important to your social media goals:
Activity metrics: The output of your social team;
Reach metrics: Your audience and potential audience;
Engagement metrics: Interactions and interest in your brand;
Acquisition metrics: Building a relationship;
Conversion metrics: Action, sales and results; and,
Retention metrics: Happy customers and brand evangelists.
No matter the size of your nonprofit there is no doubt that a well executed social media strategy will effectively increase awareness, engagement and retention for your brand.
Social media is both an art and a science. Whatever phase in your social media marketing journey that you’re on, there’s no doubt it will be beneficial to learn the various tips, tricks and tools discussed in this article.
Over time, you will learn what content gets your community talking and how to fine tune your nonprofit’s social media strategy to get the best possible results.
But most importantly, have fun doing it. Set reasonable expectations and understand that building a sustainable social media strategy is a long-term game. Like any great relationship, it’s all about communication over time, and there’s no better time than now to get started.
Are you constantly trying to catch up with every new social network that comes out?
Do you find yourself juggling with copy and images to make sure to share at least a certain number of social media posts each day?
Everyone seems to be so focused on quantity that we often forget the impact that small, incremental improvements can have in our social media strategy. When was the last time you tried smart variations to see where they took your engagement and conversion numbers?
Granted, experimentation can sound a bit intimidating. I know because I’ve worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs who feel that “social media tests” are some obscure tactics only data scientists can handle. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Given the right tools, and having adopted the right mindset, I strongly believe that anyone can manage a lean social media testing program. I’m writing this article to share seven simple tests that you can run today.
But before we begin testing, you need to lay out some metrics to input your data in for analysis.
Setup Your Metrics for Documentation
To make sure your test results are as clear and informative as possible, decide which metrics matter for the changes you are trying to provoke. For example, if your main social media goal is to increase shares, prioritize metrics like shares, retweets, and repins.
That being said, for each of the following test ideas, I’ll be sharing two alternative social media post versions that you can try. When you think about these different versions, here’s a handy format to collect data:
In the “What’s different about it” column, you can specify the variable you’re testing — say, if you’re experimenting with a black background in one graphic (Social Media Post A) and a green one in another (Social Media Post B).
The second column, “How many people saw it”, would be where we consider each post’s reach when we compare them.
It would be unfair to judge how good or bad the variables did if they each had a different chance of reaching your audience, but were measured according to one fixed metric of effectivity.
For example, if one post resulted in 100 shares and was shown to 1,000 followers, is that comparable to getting 100 shares from a post shown to only 500? Nope.
In the third column, “What’s your success metric?”, insert the measurement that makes sense for your social media goals. For this example, we’ll use the amount of shares.
To come up with a rate that fairly shows each variable’s effectiveness, compute for what percentage of the people who saw this post actually shared it.
This is what our table would look like after a sample test:
Now comes the final and most delicate part of this testing process. How are the two figures you came up with so different that we can be certain that changing a post’s background color ( in this case) will drive better results moving forward?
We can make this as simple or as complicated as we want, but I just want to share a quick tool that helps me figure out if the differences I’m spotting in social media graphics are statistically significant and I can confidently call out a winner.
GetDataDriven’s A/B Significance Test was created to test different versions of a website. Ignore the page wording in here and fill the form’s fields with your posts’ reach and share numbers.
See where it says “your A/B test is statistically significant”? That’s what a successful experiment looks like. Ready to test ideas?
01. Shift Your Images’ Focal Point: Objects VS. People
Try sharing the same post with a different image: one where the main center of attention is a person, and one where you are directing the viewer towards an object.
In a study about imagery in web design, a group of scientists found that human images with facial features induced a user to perceive a site as more appealing, having more warmth or social presence.
On the other hand, using an object as the focal point could help emphasize product features that users are actually interested in previewing before they click. Will this app, item, service be worth my time?
That’s when an object-based approach like displaying a mockup or style photo can draw attention to particular actions that your user will be able to perform if or when they make a purchase.
Think about the last time someone mentioned a mobile app and showed a compelling screenshot: did that trigger your interest to click on that brand’s social media image?
This approach might be a better fit when your social media followers are highly involved in your core product’s technical features.
To try this method, follow these steps:
Share a social media post attaching an image of an inanimate object
Share the same social media post, attaching an image of a human face instead. Try to make this second post go out at a similar/identical time and day of the week to prevent other circumstances from affecting (and potentially confounding) your test’s results.
Measure shares, views and comments to see how you audience reacts to each.
02. Play Around With Your Images’ Design: Color and Typography
Select a single design element, whether that’s color or typography, and create alternative versions of your social media image using a different level of each.
For example, you could share the same social post twice where the only change is the use of a specific color (versus working with black & white) in your palette.
While it might seem like a minor change, modifying a graphic’s main color can notoriously impact its effect on viewers. In 2015, Buffer released a comprehensive roundup on the most effective fonts, colors and templates used in high-converting social images.
They quote a 2009 study from Georgia Tech where over 1 million Pinterest graphics were evaluated to determine which colors were related with the most shared pins.
Researchers concluded that red, purple and pink promote sharing, while green, black, blue and yellow all stop people from sharing.
Considering that fonts can also play an instrumental role in how social media graphics are shared, launch two posts where the only difference is the font used to communicate the message.
03. Play With Your Call to Action and Landing Pages
Are your followers feeling compelled to click whichever link you are sending their way? Experiment with different action verbs (or calls-to-action) to see which one is truly catching their attention.
Also try out different landing pages to test what happens once followers actually click through.
Here are some ideas you can try:
Appeal to humor
Is there any way you can approach the need to check out this product/service with a fun angle? For example: “No more ugly sweaters. This year give them something they’ll actually keep!” — for a Holiday retail campaign.
Appeal to fear
Would anything negative happen if this follower doesn’t use the product/service? For example: “Don’t let allergies catch you off guard. Check out what X can do for you!”
Appeal to happiness or fulfillment
Highlight the positive results obtained by using this product or service in your call to action. For example: “90% of users report increased productivity — are you ready to try X?”
04. Try Animated GIFs
Visuals no longer have to be static on social media. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr and Pinterest now all support animated GIFs, leaving ample space for experimentation. Follow these simple steps to determine how effective GIFs are in comparison to static images:
Go ahead and create a simple animation with a quote or data point that might interest your audience.
Use the same data point or quote to create a static image. Alternatively, grab a still from the animation in step 1.
Take note of how sharing a static image compares to that animated GIF’s performance in terms of clicks, comments and shares.
05. Experiment With Copy and Tone
Sometimes we forget that human conversations vary in tone, length and intensity. As reflections of natural speaking, social media posts can also portray that diversity. Try rephrasing your initial posts in at least 5 different ways:
State your message as a question
For example: “Did you know that there are at least 10 free social media tests you can run today?”
State your message as an exclamation
For example: “Social media tests can be simple and fun! Try these → “
State your message in imperative mode
For example: “Run these simple social media tests and watch your numbers soar:”
State your message in first person
For example: “I’ll give these social media tests to try ASAP → “
State your message in third person
For example: “Here are 10 social media tests that you should try ASAP → “
Similarly, emoji provide an entire spectrum of emotional expressions that you can use to make your message sound more human. See what I mean?
06. Target Different Audiences
Sometimes your message can’t be described as effective or ineffective in absolute terms. Whether a specific type of copy or image appeals to your followers or not may well depend on what that target audience is like. In consumer behavior, we segment different human groups according to two different types of variables: psychographic and demographic. While psychographic variables include lifestyle, attitudes and preferences, demographic ones refer to more “hard line” traits like age, gender or location.
Both Facebook and Twitter allow you to segment the paid ad campaigns that you decide to run. On Twitter, you can target users by psychographic variables like interests and demographic variables like location and gender.
Similarly, Facebook allows you to create a special audience with demographic characteristics like a certain age, and psychographic characteristics like their behaviors.
Examples of social media tests with psychographic segmentation:
Launching one message for Mac users and one for Windows users
Launching one image for design enthusiasts and one for business professionals
Examples of social media tests with demographic segmentation:
Sharing one message with young men 18-30 and one with older men 31-50.
Launching one image for women and one for men.
Testing one version of your (English) copy with Canadians and one with Australians.
07. Try New Time Zones
With social media scheduling tools like Hootsuite and Buffer it has become increasingly easier to send out messages using multiple platforms at off-peak times.
Have you ever tried appealing to a time zone that is radically different from your own? If you are in UTC-5 (New York), it would be interesting to try out a few shares in UTC+1 (Central European Time).
The team behind CoSchedule, an editorial calendar tool, compiled results from 10 different studies on which times/days are best for sharing social content. Check out the article to find effective time slots for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin, Google+, and Instagram.
If you’re having a hard time coming up with original content for those additional time slots, try Edgar — a social scheduling tool that literally recycles your posts so that they get maximum exposure.
08. Optimize Shareables for Each Platform
Are you doing enough to engage users in different social platforms visually? Here are some examples of image sizes that you may want to try in Canva:
Pinterest: Create long, pinnable images
Facebook: Create rectangular images following Open Graph recommended specs.
Twitter: Tweetables + Twitter Cards
Different social platforms indicate a specific image size that adjusts to the way they display information. Optimizing for these various sizes will result in a better experience for your existing and prospective followers.
In my experience, optimizing graphics for Pinterest’s long, vertical approach to images can radically improve engagement metrics. Of course this is subject to how important the Pinterest demographic is for your product/service and how much engagement you currently get in that platform.
Canva makes it easy to design and repurpose social media images for each of these platforms. Make sure you check out the Magic Resize feature in Canva for Work.
To launch a lean experiment with image dimensions, try sharing out a square image on Facebook followed by a rectangular graphic to link to the same article. Compare how the two fare in terms of shares, comments and clicks.
09. Use Hashtags
Hashtags are tools to organize content. They help us navigate through the cluttered interfaces that are most social networks these days and find content related to our specific queries.
Since your audience is probably using these tags to discover content, it is in your best interest to find out which the most popular ones are in your space. Once you do, go ahead and tag your posts to make them even more visible for your audience.
Hashtags also lend themselves to experimentation, since different groups of tags will appeal to different crowds. Explore, for example, what happens when you target #startups vs #femalepreneurs. The results might surprise you. Here’s a simple approach you can get started with:
Select two hashtags that are directed at two different niches
Create and share a social media post using one of them.
Create and share a social media post using the second hashtag. Make sure this second post goes out in similar conditions (day, time, season).
Measure both posts for likes, comments and shares.
10. Experiment With Mosaics
Sometimes readers want more than a simple snapshot that represents the entire piece of content you’re linking to.
Displaying a more elaborate graphic can help give followers a preview of what they will find in the body of your article or landing page by displaying some of the key visuals they’ll be exposed to once they click.
Fortunately, Canva makes building these mosaic graphics incredibly easy. To launch a quick test, share the same piece of content (article, ebook, etc) using a single image and a mosaic of several images compiled into one.
Create your own mosaics and measure how users respond to the visual in terms of clicks, likes, shares and comments.
Whether it’s biting your fingernails, talking with your mouth full, procrastinating, slouching, gossiping or smoking cigarettes, let’s face it: We all have a nasty habit or two we could stand to break in our everyday lives.
The world of public relations is no different—there are nasty habits lurking around the proverbial corner that could trip up and derail even the most meticulous, seasoned and goal-oriented professionals.
1. Prioritizing your own creativity over business results. “Sometimes PR professionals get stuck on all the creative activities and amazing results,” says Reis. “They don’t present [results] in a way that resonates with leaders outside of communications, leaving them wondering how to interpret the impact on the bottom line.”
2. Emphasizing impressions as a valid PR metric. PR pros need to spend more time explaining what impressions really mean for business goals. “We need to stop trying to value PR with advertising metrics,” Reis says. “We need to focus more on ROI and impact. What does it mean to get a great story in a national media outlet or 20,000 engagements? More and more [of] our clients are asking us to show the value of successful PR efforts that can justify budget allocations at the C-suite level.”
3. Sharing the details of PR execution with senior leadership. When having conversations with leadership, start by answering “why and what.” “More often, they don’t want to know the details of execution,” Reis says. “They need the key facts that will help them make a wise decision. Then, our clients typically trust the agency can execute successfully.” PR strategy and activities need to also align with the business objectives. Always ask this question: “How is PR achieving the mission, reaching targeted audiences?”