There are more than 7 billion people on earth. And 1 billion of those people are on Instagram. That means every 7th person uses this visual-based social media network. Launched in 2010, and eventually bought in 2012 by Facebook (with more than 30 million users back then), Instagram offers a huge opportunity to connect with your current and potential customers, as well as, your followers and fans. The growth has been tremendous, which makes Instagram one of the most well-known and most widely-used social media platforms of all.
You already know that you can leverage any platform if you have a clear understanding of the audience you can reach there – and whether or not it aligns with your target audience… To find this out, let's jump into the key stats about Instagram and its users!
You would probably guess that the U.S. is the leading country on Instagram. It indeed is. According to Statista, more than 116 million Americans use Instagram, followed by India with 73 million users and Brazil with 72 million Instagrammers. You may wonder why China is not one of the listed countries. Instagram (as well as other platforms like Google and Facebook) are blocked and instead, users have access to local platforms like WeChat or QQ. On the other hand, Asian countries like Indonesia, Japan and India, represent a strong area where Instagrammers are very active.
Similar to Facebook's stats, the group of 25-34 year-old users is the most active one. There is, nonetheless, a stronger audience base in the range of 18-24 years. Having said that, if your target audience is based on the younger generation, Instagram is a must have in your communication mix! Especially if you're based in the U.S. where the majority of users come from. The only thing you need to keep in mind, is the principle on which this platform is built – visual content. If you can create engaging visual posts, Instagram is a channel for you. If not, rethink your communication channels thoroughly.
When it comes to gender, 48:52 is the ratio between male and female Instagram users, which is fairly equal. Obviously, everyone loves pictures and engaging videos.
“What purchase behaviour can I expect on Instagram?” you may ask. Sure… Your marketing goals can generate more revenue, increase the ROI of your investment or bring new customers. Surprisingly (maybe), every third Instagram user completed a purchase on this platform! And that was back in 2015. Today, Instagram is striving to increase the user experience when it comes to discovering and purchasing products directly on Instagram. Instagram is aware of the fact that many businesses try to sell goods via their platform and they do their best to increase the user experience and give advertisers what they want – more users that are going to buy.
Well, now that we know users DO purchase stuff on Instagram, let's find out how much they make!
The income structure is spread pretty evenly, but it's good to know that this channel is not “just for kids”. You truly can find your customers there and convert them into loyal buyers.
When creating your strategy for Instagram, posting times play a very important role. Make sure to constantly check your results (reach, engagement, purchase activity) based on the times you publish your content. To make your life easier, let's look at the global Instagram stats that reveal the times when users are most active!
Sprout Social has published a report that shows the following:
Do not take this as the Holy Grail – you need to test your best-performing times and optimise according to the data that YOU get. Test, test and test...
Now that you have some insight as to when the best times are to publish, let's dive deeper into how much time users spend on this international platform. In fact, people spend as much time on Instagram as they do on Facebook. That being said, you have 53 minutes a day to get in front of the eyes of an average Instagram user. Now the attention span is divided into Instagram feed, Instagram Stories, IGTV and other placements. For placements like Instastory, you have around 3 seconds to catch users' attention! Make sure to provide users with content they love. Otherwise, they won't spend a second of the 53 minute time span following your brand, those are the hard facts.
Let's look at this comparison of Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat:
Altogether there are more than 25 million business profiles on Instagram. In fact, 71 % of all US businesses use this platform to engage with their audience and they say that engagement rates are the key metrics for them. Instagram is all about engagement through visuals (be it picture, video or carousel). Knowing the fact that organic reach is constantly decreasing – which applies for all major platforms – businesses will be pushed to invest more into staying in touch with their audience. Today, organic reach is still around 30% on Instagram and somewhat less on Facebook. That means that you only reach around 30% of your fan base with each post you publish. The rest simply won't see the new post on their feed. This differs according to industry, but the times when you could reach the majority of your audience is long gone.
“What exactly do users do on Instagram?” you may wonder. Mostly, they engage with other users, communicate with them via Direct Messages, watch longer videos on IGTV, create Instastories, but most importantly, they like and upload pictures! Users hit the like button around 4.2 billion times a day and upload more than 95 million pictures daily! Does that sound insane to you? It may, but it surely represents a great opportunity to get your brand or product in front of the eyes of your potential customers!
Numbers are easy to forget, let's sum it up!
The data pretty much speaks for itself, but the choice as to whether or not Instagram plays an important role in your communication mix is up to you. If you already use Instagram for your business, let us know! We'd be glad to hear from you on how Instagram helps your business grow.
Well, that’s a tricky question – there are so many variables at play. Depending on your situation, the cost of your Facebook ads could be as much as $10 per click, or as little as 40 cents.
The most important factor is efficiency and performance. Your ads might be super cheap, but if they do not bring any results, it's a waste of money. Define the purpose (the goal) of the ad and what is your cost limit to label the ad as efficient. Many businesses measure success by the number of sold products, leads generated, or potential customers engaged.
There is no rule or benchmark for this, each business is different with different needs and circumstances. Someone might be satisfied with a new lead for $45 and another might not go over $10. One person might consider a $3 cost per click as successful and another would not want to pay more than $2. Calculate the revenue you can get from the lead and think about how much you want to spend per action, this way you can always check whether your ads perform well or not.
Before you spend a lot of money, try to set up your daily budget for $5 a day. (We will talk about how to set your budget later). Monitor your results. If the ad performance meets your ideas and you have money to raise the daily budget, do it. And do it again, if the ad is bringing you results.
Remember: If your ad is comical, visually appealing, engaging, or all of these combined, people will like, comment or share it more often than they would with some boring copy with a blurry image. If you really want the most from your paid ads, they have to be great to make the people share them and so the ads will be also spread organically. Deciding how much to spend is a good place to start, but always make sure each dollar goes as far as it possibly can. The key is the visual, the text, as well as targeting. Regarding your content creation, read my article about buyer personas, because you should tailor-make it for your ideal customers and you can also find more helpful info in this article about tools for creating visual content.
So, how can you get an idea of how much Facebook advertising costs before diving in?
A few months ago, I moved to a new flat. Before that, I had been doing thorough research on what part of the city is the most child-friendly in terms of security, what are the prices and how far the flats are from the public transportation. I took many things into consideration before even getting in touch with an agent.
Did I Google things? Of course! Was I keen on reading research on what parts of the city suit my needs? You bet I was! Did I spend some time scrolling on Pinterest for furniture inspiration? Yes, I did.
I was lucky to meet Josh, a real estate agent who has been in the business for some time. We got in touch after I visited his website and read his article about the prediction of real estate prices, plus went through some interesting content on his LinkedIn profile.
I was astonished by the speed of his reaction. Within two days, I had 5 flats to choose from. And a few days after that, I went to see them all.
What I did, nonetheless, within those two days, was thorough research – again. This time, I examined Josh's Instagram profile and checked out the other flats he had to offer. I read the reviews on his Google listings and read more educating articles on LinkedIn. I am a social media freak and I probably use all of them. But Josh was always there… Offering me exactly what I was looking for. At the exact time I needed it.
What I just described, was a perfect user experience and great customer-centric approach. Josh knew his business would grow if he invested in these channels. He also knew what content to serve on each of them. And I engaged, liked, followed – was totally sold! – Successfully ended my buying journey – call it whatever you want. Josh won. So did I.
Do I live in one of these aforementioned flats today? I surely do and I am happy with my decision.
Reach your customers wherever they spend their time. This is a golden rule Josh and other successful businesses completely abide by.
The fact that you are missing out on the chance to speak to your customer or potential customer on any channel can only be leveraged by your competitors… If you don't worship the customer-centric approach, they will.
And by customer-centric I mean going beyond on what YOU want to be doing to what a CUSTOMER wants to do – where she spends time, where she expects to get in touch with your business, where she takes out her wallet and pays for goods or services...
We are not talking solely about social media here. Customers visit your store – interact with you personally, get in touch with someone from support or sales, search for a cheaper substitute on Google or Bing and eventually visit your website. To gain trust, users tend to rely on reviews and customer feedback listed on your social media profiles. One customer – multiple channels. And you'd better be on all of them.
Every touchpoint matters. Everyone builds the complete image of you through your customers' eyes. And everyone determines whether a customer chooses you instead of your competitors.
In 2018, the average time spent daily on social media was 136 minutes. That is more than 2 hours of one's precious time. And more than 2 hours for you to catch their attention with what you have to offer.
What you can count on, is the fact that they will search for products like yours. And if they don't find you, they will buy somewhere else…
I know, I have been there too… You are about to create a piece of content — a nicely done cappuccino in your café or a beautifully pictured house that you want to sell. But how the heck do you begin? With no professional equipment or experience — you want to produce the best content for your social media profiles, business website or email campaign, right?
Well, how do you go about it? The key is you don’t have to be perfect, in fact, that’s part of the magic of this medium! Be natural, be spontaneous, and be active. Your new audience will expect funny, educational, engaging and UNPROFESSIONAL content. In a world where marketing aims for the ideal, your audience wants someone or something that they can relate to. A picturesque cappuccino is nice to look at, but what about a customer savouring their morning drink, only to burst out laughing because they have foam on their upper lip? Capture it and share it! Sometimes less is more. And something is always better than nothing…
In this article, I will show you how you to use a (relatively new) medium that not only allows you to share your unprofessional and spontaneous content, but REQUIRES IT! This medium is called Instagram Stories aka Instastories. As the name says, it can be used on your Instagram profile (both personal and professional). Below see an example of what an Instastory looks like:
Let us first clarify what Instastories are. They are vertically shared pictures, videos, animations that were originally used by Snapchat. After some period of time, Instagram and Facebook implemented them and extended their platforms. Instastories disappear after 24 hours which makes them an instant, spontaneous and engaging piece of content.
But why should you actually care about them? How are they relevant to your business? As we regularly discuss in other articles, webinars and private Facebook groups, ask yourself a question before you get started: Can I reach my audience on this channel? Instagram is used daily by one billion users and Instastories by more than 500 million people. That truly means 500.000.000 people. Every. Single. Day.
Going back to where we began. You are probably asking yourself: “Do I need professional equipment, a best-of-breed creative studio with the best of the best?” Not at all. Be natural, be spontaneous, and certainly, go ahead, and be unprofessional! This platform requires it. Your audience expects you to be natural. They expect to see what’s going on behind the scenes and what your daily updates are — share with them the best moments that can describe you or your business. Tell STORIES! Because that is what this platform is about.
Let’s break the stereotype: You do NOT need to be a professional to create great, engaging content for Instastories.
Let’s get practical. How do you really begin?
You know how to get started. Get inspired before you jump into the content creation. See a series that shows some examples of really nice — BUT STILL UNPROFESSIONAL — Instastories which you can do within a few seconds.
There are plenty of cool features that you can use to make your content visually more appealing. Amongst them, there are live streams (even shared streams with other coworkers, partners, and followers), galleries of Gifs, options such as slow motion or boomerang effects, coloured backgrounds, many text fonts, polls, quizzes and questionnaires (ways to engage with your audience), chat windows and tons of emojis. Again, choose what correlates with your business image (branding). I may be repeating myself, but less is sometimes more…
Marketing strategy is probably the most abused word in the marketing industry. Everyone talks about strategies, but few know what it really represents. It has nothing to do with curating your presence on Facebook nor developing a Chatbot for your website. Trust me, strategy is something completely different.
Being an entrepreneur who is running a small business is already tough itself. Marketing, in most cases, is a process that slows you down as you have to learn it, hire people to execute your vision or deal with an agency (and their high fees). Luckily, with tools like groost life gets a bit better. Prepare a good strategy and automate your marketing efforts. Let's find out how.
Luckily, some tools can guide and educate you without you having to learn. Automation platforms are built to cover the majority of your marketing tasks. Having said this, they search for ways to guide you through the process of a successful onboarding in a simple way.
Before we get started, let's clarify what a marketing strategy means.
A strategy sets a target of where it is we want to be within a certain period of time. Now we are at point A, so where is the point B we want to reach. Marketing strategy, to narrow it down, answers these three core questions:
First, we need to clarify who we're aiming for – our target audience. Our target audience represents our potential customers. Getting to know them as thoroughly as possible will be crucial for the next steps. Secondly, we must focus on positioning – the way our customer sees us, what he thinks of us, what jumps to her mind immediately after the name of our brand or product is pronounced. If you think of Volvo, what jumps to your mind? Is it safety? This is not by mistake. Volvo wants to be considered the safest car, and they do everything they can to be perceived this way. That's positioning. Lastly, we ask ourselves, what goals we want to achieve. Knowing where you want to go and being able to quantify it helps you stay on track at all times!
Of course, you may want to conduct in-depth research on both internal and external factors (SWOT analysis works for internal factors, PESTLE for external) to find out how your business gets both positively and negatively influenced. While analysing, keep an eye on your competitors to know how well they do (and why). These points are, nonetheless, tied to your overall business, not solely marketing. Let's just focus on marketing for now.
Did you answer the three core questions? Great! Now see how automation tools can guide you to not just create, but also execute your strategy – complete the tactical steps.
1. They encourage you to focus on your customer
All tools from the most complicated to the easiest ones focus on a customer. Look at how Hubspot does it – they offer you a CRM to store all your customer data, track the website activity of your customers and segment them for email marketing and social ads. Customers are at the very center of their product features. So that should be the case in all of your marketing activities. In our latest post, we've covered the importance of being where your customers are – be customer-centric. Marketing automation platforms guide you without your assistance, so you can use your energy elsewhere.
We've built a tool for an easy and efficient campaign management. It is so easy that non-marketers run their campaign within minutes. We focus, needless to say, on a customer- first approach. We encourage you to create your marketing persona and center your campaign around this. See how we do this below:
2. They offer you many ways to create content
Content – be it emails, social media ads, website forms or blog posts – is what should give a real value to your customer. There are many types of content (educational, comedic, aesthetically pleasing…), but all of it should be easily recognisable. What I mean by that is that every piece of content shows it's YOU and your business, and does not belong to anybody else. Using your logo in the header of an email or a social media creative helps easily identify your business. Your claim in headlines shows it's you, your brand colors signify it's you, the tone that plays at the beginning of each of your podcasts says it's you… With every piece of content you build the complete picture that pops into a customer's head when someone says the name of your brand or product. Presenting your unique attributes over your competitors and repeatedly identifying yourself with a certain market category helps your target audience discover who you really are – and what makes you unique. Automation platforms not only allow you to create content you need for your business to be successfully present online, but also guide you through these steps, so that you don't do it wrong.
3. They encourage you to analyze results
I can not emphasize this any more – if you can't measure something, you can't improve it. Tools like Keap, Hubspot or Mailchimp give you an in-depth analysis of your campaigns and efforts. They truly show you what's important to track and what isn't. When it comes to measuring results, things can get pretty complicated. Don't look at hundreds of metrics, unless it makes sense to you and you see the dependencies between them. If you run campaigns for 200 USD a month, focus on a few things (key metrics) that are tied to your goal and nothing else. Make sure to update your dashboard and, ideally, let the tools send you regular emails with the metrics you are most interested in. It'll save you a bit of time.
To codify the results of any campaign, it is crucial to tie them to your goals. Any campaign needs to be set up with goal(s). Say you want to increase the engagement for your Facebook post and lead people to your website. The number of people reached and the number of people that interacted with your content is what you'll be looking for –the click through rate will show you the difference between those two (number of people who interacted / number of people reached). Simply put, this metric shows how good and juicy your content is. Did you get a 5% click through rate? Good job! Do you think 5% is too low? I suggest you check the (industry) standards and judge this afterwards. Some metrics seem to be low, but if you dig deeper, you may realize that your campaign rocks.
To wrap it up, focus on three important questions, choose the right tools to help you execute your strategy and always measure your efforts. Being a small business owner is tough itself, don't put in more work. Let automation platforms help you get rid of the routine tasks and, thus, deliver better results. We've mentioned some of the tools here, so make sure to check it out.
A strong community becomes a place where customers interact not only with the brand, but also with each other. This is a great source of positive and authentic reviews and it is also an opportunity to build a relationship with your audience. The best brands have killer community management strategies and this article explains the top 5 tips to help you better manage your community across all channels.
People plan their meetings, their gym sessions, their tasks in general, why not just plan the content, then? Planning weeks or even months in advance gives you the ability to readjust your posts if needed. Set up your content calendar and approval flows. If you are doing the content alone, make sure there are no errors. Stay consistent and relevant. Planning your content ahead will help you to see the overall impression. Try it! It’s satisfying.
2. Represent your brand identity
Are you a real estate agent, owner of a flower shop or a barber? Representing your brand or business does not mean you should be boring. Be entertaining, so your audience feels good as part of your e-company. Give them valuable information, call them to action so they engage with you. Be consistent and you will become memorable. If it is not in your brand identity to behave cheeky, as for example, Netflix does, find another way to communicate in a friendly and engaging way. :)
3. Track important metrics
As mentioned above, the realtor, the barber and the flower shop owner have something in common — they should not be boring. But they can have different social media goals. The realtor might be looking for new leads, because they don’t want to be dependent on one channel like e. g. Zillow. The barber needs more customers and the florist needs to be in the minds of all the guys who live near the shop, so once their special lady has a birthday, they know where to buy the best flowers! It can be difficult to determine how your efforts have contributed to sales and leads directly. Instead, it’s better to determine how you define your own success, depending on your goals.
Think about these points below:
Traffic: Is your community on your website? Do you see growth over time? Where is the traffic coming from?
Engagement: How many people are coming to your page versus those actually engaging? Which topics are they engaging in most often? This may determine your future questions, content and discussion starters.
Members or customers: How many new members do you get every week and how many do you lose? Is this consistent? If there was a drop or growth, find what caused it!
4. Use the data you collected
Analyse your posts, interactions and the feedback you get from your audience. Then OPTIMISE! You are the one who knows the data and your customers best. The value of data cannot be understated — you’ll end up with happier, more loyal customers, as well as more easily converted leads. Use the advantage!
People trust other users experience more than the companies themselves. Did you know that reviewed a product’s chances to be sold are 80% higher than one without any review? Positively reviewed, obviously. Social media is all about interaction, sometimes the best content will come from your audience.
This is User-Generated Content, or UGC. It is amazing because it is authentic, and reflects what your customers think about your brand and… it’s free. It will show your customers’ experiences, and it drives the conversation forward in ways that you won’t be able to do by yourself. It is the gate to engage with people and get closer to them, making your brand feel more personal and approachable. UGC can be anything e.g. posts or tweets mentioning your brand or reviews.
Two examples of UGC campaigns:
Remember: Everybody wants the response. And everybody wants the answers quickly or even instantly. Do care about your response rate and response time. It might seem that people take it for granted, but it really makes the user experience unique and enjoyable.
Have you ever wondered if the journey of your customer is trackable or even viewable? I have good news for you – it is. You can – in many cases – track how many people know about your business, how many of them consider purchasing your goods and, of course, how many already bought and referred your product to a friend. Being able to view the customer journey, optimise its steps and analyze your efforts is crucial for any kind of business. Trust me, the size does not matter (in this case). Every business should do it.
Marketing funnel is a term that resonates with the majority of marketers. They tend to use this model to illustrate the customer journey – from brand discovery to purchase. As stated, measuring every step of the funnel brings you a much better overview of your efforts and, thus, a higher return on investment, which is your goal, isn't it? The more you can get out of every stage of your customer's journey, the better the results are in terms of number count or revenue.
Let's say your customer journey has three main phases:
Please note that in this case we don't cover the scenarios that happen after the purchase is made (retention funnel).
Each stage represents a different behaviour stage of your potential customer. Say she has a problem which she is able to name. She begins to search for a solution – which you offer with your product or service. As soon as she discovers your business – among others – offers the solution she is already in the awareness stage.
Your presentation, product, its price and other factors determine whether she will move further on the journey. The consideration stage, needless to say, is a phase in which a potential customer already considers your product, is comparing it to your competitors and is aware of its pros and cons.
Decision. That's the phase we aim for. We want her to buy our product, right? That's when a decision is made. In this stage, your potential customer has already conducted the research, has chosen you over your competitors and is happy to buy what you have to offer.
We just described (in a very simple way) what a customer journey can look like. Sometimes it takes weeks to guide her through all stages of the journey, sometimes it is a matter of minutes. Imagine yourself buying a coffee in the city center. You probably don't do any thorough research, but you certainly look for coffee quality and price. You don't spend days comparing the product to other cafés or bars. You make the decision according to a few key factors. Your journey is fast and your decision is made pretty quickly. But it does not mean the café owner should not pay attention to the key factors, like what the café window looks like, or if their prices are reasonable, as it influences the customer's journey.
The customer journey can easily be viewed as a funnel. Therefore, marketers use it to analyze their efforts. To explain the basic idea behind the marketing funnel, let's use the widely-known model AIDA which stands for attention, interest, desire and action. Each of these phases represent a stage in which you might find your customers.
Obviously, your ultimate goal is to guide them through the stages without friction and in the shortest time possible.
Let us look at an example of a basic marketing funnel:
People obviously start at the top – marketers call it the top funnel. This represents the awareness stage. As customers move further in the funnel, they know more about you and your offer and start, as well as continue to consider it more and more.
Here is what a perfect marketing funnel would look like:
This would mean that everyone who discovers your product will decide to purchase. Going back to our example, 100% of the people who enter your café will buy a coffee. Of course, that's a seller's utopia. In an ideal world, this would work, not in the real one.
Your task is to carefully measure your funnel and optimize its steps.
Let's finally give a more concrete example of what a marketing funnel can look like in your case. Say you run a real estate business, and aim to attract potential house buyers with your website. That's also where you generate leads that you can then convert. Your main channels would be:
You would try to attract as many people as possible with your marketing budget and lead them to your website to show all the products or services you have. After they land on the website, ideally you want them to fill out a form, in case, they are interested in a particular offer. As soon as they do so, you connect with them via phone or email and find out whether their interest can lead to a conversion.
This is what your funnel would look like:
Let's do some math now. Say your marketing efforts help you reach 10,000 people with your ad. 3% of them interact with your ad and visit your website. That would mean you have 300 people on your website, right?
How many of these people are you able to convert into leads? That depends on how your website attracts its users and how juicy your offer is, doesn't it? Let's say you have a 10% conversion rate (10% of website visitors convert into leads). In this case, you would have 30 leads waiting to be contacted.
How many of them can you convert into sales? Again, factors like your response time, will play their role now. If you made it to 50%, you just made 15 sales. Now go back and think about what can be improved...
You can see that there are more factors that influence the efficiency of your funnel (and your efforts). One bit of advice would be: measure each step of the funnel, focus on the customer and do your best to improve the areas where it falters!
Going back to our example, simply by making your ad more appealing, you can increase your outcome from 3% to 6% which (if other metrics don't change) make 30 sales at the end of the day! Improve your website from 10% conversion rate to 15% and you almost hit the sky… You know where I am heading, right?
You may be wondering where you can get all of this data? Tools like Google Analytics, Google Ads, Facebook Business Manager or our own app that simplifies the process of ad management, can give you great insights into how many people you reached, how many of them interacted with your content, how many made it to the website and finally, how many were converted into leads. There is a plethora of ways to measure your marketing funnel – the customer journey. Even a piece of paper and good data sources can create miracles…
One thing is for sure: if you don't measure your efforts carefully, you may be investing money and energy into something which does not bring you results at all.