How to Drive Sales with Your Instagram Marketing Strategy

It’s crucial for businesses to have an active social media presence to survive in 2018.

No social media marketing strategy is complete without Instagram. It’s become a top platform for brands, advertisers, and consumers alike.

This platform has 800 million monthly active users. And 500 million Instagram profiles are active on a daily basis.

Here’s something else that may surprise you: 70% of Instagram hashtags are branded.

What does that tell you? If you’re not active on Instagram, your competitors definitely are.

Those of you who already have an account set up are on the right track. But just having an Instagram profile doesn’t necessarily translate to sales.

If you want to drive sales and make real money from Instagram, you need to come up with a viable strategy. This guide will steer you in the right direction.

Increase your following

One of the first steps to having a successful Instagram marketing strategy is growing your follower base.

Without lots of followers, you will struggle to get your posts seen. It’s not going to be easy for you to generate sales without followers.

For those of you who just created your Instagram page, it can be intimidating to start with the number zero. But unless you’re a brand new company, you already have customers.

That’s the best place to start looking for followers. Here are the top reasons why users follow brands on social media:

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As you can see from these numbers, more than 73% of users say they follow brands on social media because they are interested in the product or service the brands are offering.

Your existing customers are interested in your brand. Tell them about your profile, and ask them to follow you.

Start by sending out messages to your email subscribers. Just make sure you give them an incentive to follow you.

For example, you may send out emails only a few times per month. Tell your subscribers that if they want to see more frequent discounts and promotions, they will find them on Instagram.

If you use this strategy, be sure to follow through with that promise.

In addition to reaching out to your email subscribers, you can have an Instagram badge on your website. Use your other social media channels to promote your Instagram profile as well.

After you take these steps, another great way to get more followers is by following other people. That said, don’t follow random users.

Find followers that fit within your target audience. That’ll be your best bet when it comes to generating new leads and driving sales.

How do you find people that fit within your target market? It’s a bit tricky, and you’ll need to put in some effort. First, you need to find accounts similar to yours.

I’m not saying you need to steal followers from your competitors, although that can work too.

Instead, you can search for Instagram profiles that post content related to your industry. For example, let’s say your company sells hiking and camping equipment.

Check out this profile. The name of the account is Adventure Enthusiasts:

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They have more than 132,000 followers. All of their content is related to outdoor locations across the world.

You could assume that people who follow this account would be interested in camping and hiking.

It’s time-consuming, but this will work. Once you find an account like this, go through its followers, and start following people.

The users will get a notification and check out your page. If they like what they see on your profile, which we’ll discuss shortly, they’ll be likely to follow you back.

Once you add tons of new followers, it’s going to be much easier for you to drive sales with your Instagram strategy.

Focus on the first impression of your page

First impressions matter. This statement holds true in the real world as well as the virtual world.

As a marketer, you need to recognize that. It’s the same reason why writing an irresistible blog post introduction is vital to your content strategy.

When an Instagram user clicks on your profile, what’s the first thing they see?

They see your profile picture, biography, and your most recent posts. Going back to our last point about following users to grow your own follower base, when a user clicks your profile, they shouldn’t have any questions.

What I mean by that is this. Your profile should say who you are and what you do.

Having your logo as your profile picture makes the most sense. It’s much more recognizable than a random picture of a person or one of your products.

Here’s an example from the Dollar Shave Club Instagram page:

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What is your first impression of this profile?

To me, it’s clear from the beginning who they are. The profile picture is their logo, and their bio explains what they do in greater detail.

They even include a link to a landing page on their website to encourage users to sign up for the service.

Basically, if your brand’s Instagram page doesn’t grab the attention of users, you won’t have much luck getting followers.

For the most part, it’s best to keep everything short, to the point, and professional. Now, you’ll have a greater opportunity to promote your products and ultimately increase your sales.

Post content on a regular basis

If you’re adding a picture or video to your profile only once a month, it’s not an effective strategy. I wouldn’t even call that an active profile.

You want your brand to always be fresh in the minds of your followers.

At the same time, you don’t want to flood user timelines and be perceived as annoying. You need to find a middle ground here.

I wouldn’t recommend posting much more than once per day. If you have lots of content you want to share each day, it’s better to add it to your Instagram story.

If you don’t know how it works, check out my ultimate guide to using Instagram story to promote your business.

How often should you post on Instagram? Research shows that the top brands on Instagram post 1.5 times each day on average. That comes out to about 10 or 11 posts per week.

The timing of these posts is crucial as well. Top brands typically post content during office hours of a standard workweek.

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Well, roughly 90% of employees admit to using social media as a distraction while they’re at work.

You need to recognize this and plan the timing of your posts accordingly. Posting on a regular basis increases your exposure and the likelihood that as many people as possible will see your content.

Don’t be too “salsey “

So, we’ve just established you need to post daily. But we haven’t talked about the content of those posts.

Obviously, you want to drive sales. However, that doesn’t mean that everything you post should be a product promotion.

That’ll annoy your followers and end up having the opposite effect of what you’re looking for. Mix up your content.

Be funny. Post pictures of your employees. Just don’t stray too far from your brand image.

While it’s okay to post content that’s not promoting a product, you want to stay away from controversial topics. I’m referring to subjects such as religion, politics, and race. Offending your followers is not going to help you drive sales.

Again, just avoid too many promotional posts. Posting too many promotions is the number one annoying action businesses take on social media, according to users:

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Furthermore, 46% of users say they’ll unfollow a brand on social media if it posts promotions too frequently.

Whenever you do post a promotion, do it casually. You don’t need to put words in all capitalized letters and include tons of stars and quotation marks around everything.

That’s annoying. Keep it short and to the point.

Go live

Instagram has a live broadcast feature. If you read my top marketing trends of 2018, you’d know I put live video streaming first on this list.

Users love it, and brands are using this information to their advantage.

Live video gives you the opportunity to connect with your audience in real time. While you broadcast, they can comment.

Make sure you respond to these comments, and try your best to acknowledge those users. This will help you increase engagement metrics.

There are endless possibilities with your live streams.

You could demonstrate new products, give a tour of your facility, or even introduce some of your employees. I like the idea of hosting a Q&A segment to give you a more authentic connection with your audience.

Another way to utilize Instagram live story is by working with other brands. Instagram is the top social platform in terms of brand collaborations across the globe:

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You could try to get featured on the live broadcast of another profile in an effort to promote your brand.

As a result, this type of strategy can help you expose your brand to a new audience, increase your followers, and ultimately drive more sales.

Add pictures and videos to your story

As I briefly mentioned earlier, your story is a great place to add daily content.

You can post content to your story multiple times per day because it won’t flood the timelines of users who follow you.

But that doesn’t mean you should go overboard and post 20 different pictures and videos to your story every day.

People won’t look at each one, so it’s a waste of your time and resources. The engagement and views will drop with each additional post to your story.

You also need to make sure the timing of the post on your story is relevant because it will disappear 24 hours after it gets uploaded.

I’d recommend using your story to offer discounts, run contests, or tell people what you’re up to that day in the office.

The whole idea here is having your brand on their minds. If they’re thinking about your brand, they are more likely to make a purchase.

Similarly to your live video strategy, you can even use your Instagram story to partner with another brand for a takeover. You can take over their account, and they can post content to yours as well.

Again, this will make it easier for you to expose your brand to a wider audience.

Partner with social influencers

You don’t need to be the only one promoting your brand on Instagram.

You should work with social influencers to share your content and encourage sales as well. That’s because social influencers have high engagement rates and great relationships with their followers.

If you work with micro influencers, their followers will likely view those people as their peers. Based on this research, 90% of consumers say they trust recommendations made by their peers:

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Plus, working with micro-influencers is much more cost-effective than paying someone with a celebrity status to promote your brand.

Not sure where you can find social influencers?

Check out these top platforms for managing social influencers to get started.

Add hashtags to your captions

Captions are just as important, if not more important, than the images and videos you post.

You’ve got to learn how to write Instagram captions that drive engagement.

Hashtags are definitely necessary. There are lots of different approaches to this.

For starters, you can use one that already exists so that other people can see it. For example, you could pick a hashtag that’s promoting a national event.

Another idea is to create your own hashtag. This would be much more brand-specific.

You could use a hashtag with just your brand name as well as the name of your campaign.

If you’re like to run contests on Instagram, you can have a unique hashtag for each one.

Encourage UGC

UGC is short for user-generated content. This piggybacks on my last point about using hashtags to promote contests.

Promotions of this nature encourage users to post photos and videos related to your brand to their personal profiles.

As a result, your brand gets exposed to all of the followers who are friends with that particular user. This type of content acts as a recommendation, which we just discussed as an effective promotional method.

Besides running contests, the best way to encourage user-generated content is to feature user photos on your profile.

Check out this post from the Thule Instagram page:

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As you can see, this post came from one of their followers.

When other people see this, they’ll be encouraged to share it as well as submit their own photos for the chance to be featured on the page.

Try some sponsored posts

The great thing about promoting your brand on Instagram is that it’s completely free.

It’s not going to cost you anything to create a profile and post content. Lots of the strategies we’ve discussed so far in this guide won’t cost you anything either.

But if that’s just not cutting it for you and you want to be more direct with your strategy, you may want to consider paying for ads.

This is a good idea for newer brands struggling to get new followers.

You’ve got lots of options here:

  • photos
  • videos
  • carousel
  • stories

If you want to find more information about setting these up, check out this resource from the Instagram Business website.

The great thing about these ads is you can include links that drive sales. Here’s an example of a photo ad with a “shop now” CTA:

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It’s also easy to set up these ads while making sure you reach your target audience and stay within your marketing budget.


Your brand needs to have an active Instagram presence.

Always try to increase your followers. Make sure your profile is set up in a way that gives a great first impression.

Post content on a daily basis, but don’t post too much promotional content. Use live video streaming and your Instagram story to your advantage as well.

Partner with social influencers to expose your brand to a new audience.

Use captions with hashtags as a promotional tool. Encourage user-generated content.

If you want to take your Instagram marketing strategy to the next level and you’ve got some extra funds, you may want to consider paying for sponsored posts.

All of these strategies will help you elevate your Instagram presence and increase sales as a result.

What type of content is your brand posting on Instagram to generate sales from your followers?

Quick Sprout

Is Influencer Marketing Dead? A Hard Look at The Newest Data (and What You Can Do Instead)

Is anyone having deja vu?

Every time a new marketing tactic becomes more mainstream, marketers and researchers inevitably wonder if it has peaked and started to lose its effectiveness.

We’ve seen this before with SEO, email marketing, Facebook marketing, and many others.

is seo dead google search

It’s a fair question to ask, though.

After all, each year brings new trends in marketing, and some tactics can go out of style. It’s worth examining different approaches to see if they’re still effective.

The tactic we’ll evaluate today is influencer marketing.

Though influencer marketing has been around for a very long time, it has only become a popular marketing tactic in recent years.

With the influx of social media in 2004, influencer marketing exploded and became a lot more prevalent.

Now, fast forward 14 years later.

Influencer marketing has seen some incredible successes and even a few massive failures.

That’s why we need to take a closer look at influencer marketing in 2018.

Should you continue to invest in influencer marketing, or is it dead?

The answer isn’t exactly a simple “yes” or “no.”

But recent data can help you decide if influencer marketing has staying power and if it is the right tactic for your brand to implement in 2018.

The complex current state of influencer marketing in 2018

Let’s dive right in.

I’m going to address the million-dollar question that everyone is asking:

“Is influencer marketing dead?”

Here’s the answer: not really.

But, I have to admit, its future is uncertain.

At the moment, marketers are continuing to focus on influencer marketing as a viable and essential marketing tactic in 2018.

In fact, in the survey below, marketers picked it as the “fastest-growing online customer-acquisition method” over organic search, email, paid search, and more.

fastest growing customer acquisition method

There’s no questioning the popularity of influencer marketing, especially in recent years.

Marketers seem to be searching for new ways to involve influencers on a variety of campaigns.

And they’re investing in their influencer marketing campaigns, too. The influencer marketing industry is booming.

Projections show that marketers will spend $ 2.38 billion on influencer marketing on Instagram in 2019. That’s more than a $ 700 million increase from 2018!

instagram influencer marketing

But it doesn’t matter if marketers are fans of influencer marketing. We need to look at the data to see if it works.

Is it truly effective? Are you getting a bang for your buck?

The answer to both questions is still “yes.”

Data shows that influencer marketing is still providing marketers with a strong return on investment. Let’s take a look.

revenue per $  1 spent on influencer marketing

The data shows that influencer marketing generates $ 6.50 for every dollar a company invests. Approximately 70% of companies earn $ 2 or more for every dollar, and 13% of companies earn $ 20 or more.

That’s valuable.

But you might not always be so lucky.

If you look closely, you’ll see that 18% of businesses didn’t receive any return on investment at all. When you factor this into how much a campaign can cost, things can get a little pricey.

This is one reason that many marketers (including myself) wonder how long influencer marketing will remain a viable tactic.

Many factors make the future of influencer marketing uncertain, too.

First, the FTC introduced regulations to “improve disclosures” in 2017. This helps consumers understand which posts are promotional, even if they are coming from an influencer.

While the regulations are needed, additional ones may cause some brands to stray away from influencer marketing due to the risk of malpractice.

Plus, influencer marketing campaigns are starting to get more expensive.

cost estimates of influencers

Mid-range influencers with 50,000 – 500,000 followers can charge anywhere from $ 400 to $ 2,500 for a post.

Influencers with a following in the millions can charge between $ 30,000 and $ 187,500 per post.

With such a large investment in a single post, marketers are expecting a huge ROI.

But there’s only one problem:

Many don’t know how to accurately measure the ROI from their influencer marketing campaigns.

An overwhelming majority (76%) of marketers agree that the biggest challenge of influencer marketing is determining the ROI of campaigns.

top influencer marketing challenges

How can you improve something if you don’t measure it? Worse yet, how can you even know if it’s working?

But the problem isn’t just with marketers.

Consumers are evolving, too.

The scale has tipped, and millennials are now trusting influencers less than they were in previous years.

millennial trust in influecers

Can you blame them, though? After all, think back to the Fyre Festival influencer marketing gaffe.

Influencers including Kendall Jenner, Emily Ratajkowski, Whitney Fransway, and many others promoted the event. But it didn’t live up to expectations.

girl sitting in private jet sharing on instagram

As a result of this failure, 94% of marketers stated they were “not likely” or “very unlikely” to seek out big-name influencers for future projects.

All of these factors play into the unstable future of influencer marketing.

As you continue with influencer marketing campaigns for now, you should also begin to test, expand, and optimize other areas of your marketing strategy.

Here are the alternatives to influencer marketing that you should be focusing on in 2018 to help accelerate the growth of your business.

1. Focus on experiential marketing for live events

Sometimes, it’s easy to forget there’s a whole world “out there.”

Your customers aren’t always online.

Live events can provide a unique touchpoint for your customers that influencer marketing can’t.

And they’re effective, too.

According to a recent study, “79% of brand respondents said they would execute more experiential programs this year compared to last.”

Take Clif Bar as an example.

They focused on creating an experiential marketing activation at Pitchfork Music Festival last year. Their activation included a tattoo parlor, photo booth, and more.

tattoo parlor pitchfork festival

At the event, they distributed 26,000 CLIF bars, and one in 20 social posts with the tag #Pitchforkfest also featured the CLIF bar activation.

Live events provide a unique experience in real life, and their impact often expands onto social media.

HBO tapped into its live event playbook when they debuted their interactive Westworld event at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas.

Participants boarded buses and went right outside the city limits for an immersive experience that brought to life the fictional Westworld town from the hit TV series.

The experience was highly detailed and highly personalized. Participants could get their picture printed on a western “Wanted” poster, which aligned well with the brand.

wanted jon woods poster

People constantly shared experience on social media during SXSW. It stole the show and earned 62% of the entertainment brand mentions at SXSW.

Live events are an important marketing tactic to help you connect with your customers in a meaningful and authentic way. Influencers simply can’t do that for you.

2. Invest in video content to share your company’s narrative

Video marketing isn’t just flashy, and it isn’t a fad.

It is here to stay, and it can drive serious growth for your business.

Most importantly, though, is that it is becoming mainstream and responsible for a bulk of Internet traffic.

According to estimates, video will make up more than 80% of all consumer Internet traffic by 2021.

Hopefully, you already use video as a part of your content strategy. If not, you’re going to fall behind soon.

In a recent survey, 49.5% of marketers said that video will be a focal point for their marketing.

video marketing survey

That’s nearly half of all marketers.

Now, I know what you might be thinking: “My influencer campaigns already use video, so I’m all set.”

Unfortunately, you’re wrong.

You’re missing the chance to focus on everyday people and create meaningful, evergreen content that showcases your brand’s values and embodies your mission.

You can’t rely on influencers to create content that resonates with your audience. You have to do it yourself.

After all, brands often miss opportunities to connect with their customers. A study found that 78% of people feel that brands never connect with them emotionally.

But LinkedIn recently did this well in a documentary-style integrated video campaign. They used the hashtag #InItTogether for it.

Campaign Director Stacy Peralta talked about the impact of the campaign. She said, “I knew from the first reading of the boards that this was one of those rare opportunities.”

She added, “They asked us to tell real stories about real people, they wanted it shot in black and white, and they wanted energy, enthusiasm and candor from the people involved.”

That campaign generated great content for LinkedIn to share with their audience.

But where should you share your video content after you finish creating it? Well, consumers watch and engage with branded content in different ways on different platforms.

It’s important to know which works best for your business, but here are some generalizations across all social platforms for consumer viewing and engagement habits:

consumer viewing and engagement habits

As you can see, Facebook has the highest viewership as well as engagement numbers (60% and 49%, respectively), while Twitter has the least (41% and 22%).

The interesting part, though, is that there is only a 2% difference in viewership among the top three platforms: Facebook, Instagram (Video), and Snapchat. YouTube and Twitter fall close behind.

On the engagement side of things, it is much different. Facebook is the clear winner (49%) with YouTube (32%) coming in second. That’s a 17% difference.

So that gives you an idea of where you should be sharing your content. But now, you might be wondering how long your videos should be.

Thankfully, there is data to support the ideal length, and the conclusions are clear as day. Here’s the basic principle:

Make them short.

Approximately 56% of all videos that users shared in 2017 were less than two minutes long.

Viewers will lose interest and likely leave if a video is longer than two minutes.

average engagement vs video length

If you aren’t yet certain that video content can be effective in marketing, look at this experiment from HubSpot. They examined the difference between acquiring customers with video content and non-video content.

They tried switching to video content as opposed to blogs and whitepapers.

As they optimized and emphasized their videos, their views and engagement rates skyrocketed. Here were their engagement rates with their old strategy:

hubspot old engagement rates

Now, here were their engagement rates after they started emphasizing their video content:

hubspot new engagement rates

Before this experiment, their videos averaged 50,000 views per month. But in their first month of optimizing and promoting their video content, they achieved 1 million views. Those are clear results!

Another great example is BakedNYC’s video campaign.

baked nyc facebook

BakedNYC used video to capture emails, and their results were fantastic.

Through this campaign, they achieved a 40% increase in pie sales, a 68% increase in leads, and a 30% decrease in cost per lead.

Video content presents a huge opportunity for your brand. But creating quality videos might feel like a daunting task.

Don’t fret if don’t think that you can do this alone. You don’t have to be Steven Spielberg.

There are plenty of tools that can help you create engaging video content on a low budget in a tight timeframe.

One of them is Promo.

promo homepage 2018

I love Promo because they have over 12.5 million clips that you can customize. You can add music, text, and even your logo to personalize the clips and make them your own.

Magisto is another great tool to use.

magisto homepage in 2018

The cool thing about Magisto is that it has a smart video editor, which makes it incredibly easy to cut and edit your videos online.

These tools can help create great video content that will drive sales on your website.

If you want to get the most out of your marketing efforts in 2018, spend time crafting video promotional campaigns and fine-tuning your video content strategy.

3. Initiate an affiliate marketing program

Not having an effective affiliate marketing program in place is simply leaving money on the table.

Affiliate marketing can bring in a lot of money for your business. To put it in perspective, 15% of the digital media industry’s revenue comes from affiliate marketing.

With affiliate marketing, you’re letting related sites and partners do the work for you.

So, where do you begin?

There are three types of affiliate programs that you can implement:

  • Pay-per-sale: The merchant pays the affiliate in relation to the number of sales that they received from their site.
  • Pay-per-click: The merchant pays the affiliate in relation to the number of clicks that visitors performed while browsing the affiliate’s site.
  • Pay-per-lead: The merchant pays the affiliates in relation to the number of people who sign up.

Affiliate programs succeed in ways that influencer marketing doesn’t. First, it’s usually a win-win for both the affiliate and the merchant because you share the same business goals.

Sites want to send you traffic so that they can earn money. You want the same thing because the affiliate will send you new customers. It’s a win for both of you.

In some cases, influencers don’t share the same mission. They might be just looking for a quick payout, which could lead them to share your campaign in a way that isn’t authentic or true to their brand or yours.

The Points Guy is an example of a company that has a strong affiliate marketing program in place.

He started his site as a place to show people how to travel by using points they’ve amassed from purchases. Now, the site is an affiliate site for credit cards, hotels, and flights.

In his AMA, he confirmed that he receives “2.5 million monthly unique views and gets $ 50-$ 400 per credit card someone signs up for.”

the points guy reviews in 2018

As a business, you can harness the traffic that is already in place for a well-oiled site. By giving them a little kickback, you both win.

They’ll make money, and you’ll acquire a new customer. It’s really a no-brainer.

4. Be responsive on social media and circulate user-generated content

If you’re reading this blog, I’d go out on a limb to say you have, at the very least, a presence on social media.

While influencers typically utilize social media to propel their efforts, sometimes taking matters into your own hands can retain customers and have a more profound impact on your sales.

Social media marketing has been an important part of any marketing strategy over the years, and it only continues to evolve in 2018.

most effective digital marketing tactic for 2018

Your customers are already hanging out on there. New data shows that a majority of Americans are now on Facebook and YouTube.

majority of american now use facebook and youtube

Once again, this fact reinforces your need for video content.

But how else can you use social media to grow your audience and increase sales? One important answer is quite simple:

By being responsive.

Data shows that companies can make a dramatic effect on their bottom lines if they are responsive and engaging on social media.

Consumers say that the best way for a brand to get them to make a purchase is by simply being responsive.

brand actions that promote purchases

If you respond on social media, people will talk about your positive customer service interactions. Studies found that approximately 48% of people tell their friends about a good customer experience on social media.

This creates a powerful form of word-of-mouth marketing. Your customers’ friends can soon become your new customers.

Facebook understand how impatient people are. They’re now labeling pages with badges that designate their response times.

facebook page about

To get the coveted “Very responsive to messages” badge, you need to achieve two things over the course of seven days:

  1. A response rate of 90%
  2. A response time of 15 minutes

But what if you get a lot of inquiries? How should you keep up with all of them?

Mention is a tool that can help you streamline your customer experience operations on social media.

mention homepage in 2018

It can provide assistance and organize your mentions in an easy-to-read way so that you aren’t overwhelmed.

An example of exemplary customer service on social media would be JetBlue.

jetblue interaction with customer on twitter

Before things got out of hand, they moved quickly and efficiently to resolve the situation, resulting in a happy, satisfied customer who might buy again.

But that’s not all. JetBlue cares so much about their customer service that they announced a partnership and investment in the customer service startup Gladly.

Here’s what Bonny Simi, the president of JetBlue’s corporate venture group, said about their customer service strategy:

“People just don’t want to call in anymore, so we are aiming for omnichannel communication that is on at all hours.”

He added, “[This communication should] take advantage of AI to resolve customers’ issues as quickly as possible, and that will work with all of the important messenger apps.”

As you work on being responsive on social media, you’ll want to circulate the incredible content (photos, videos, and comments) and great accolades that your users are sharing. User-generated content is incredibly valuable.

Sponsors generally pay influencers to post about their products or content. User-generated content, on the other hand, has no financial incentive.

It makes your brand more authentic.

which statement do you agree with

And it’s needed now more than ever.

Research shows that “92 percent of consumers trust organic, user-generated content (UGC) more than they trust traditional advertising.”

Currently, Southwest Airlines is running a user-generated campaign that they call 175 Stories. This integrated campaign invites customers to share their seat story using the hashtag #175Stories.

They even launched a microsite to further share the content.

southwest airlines explore the stories

Judging by a quick hashtag search, the campaign seems to be effective.

Encouraging users to act as your own photographers and share their content can have a positive impact on your business’s growth.

An active presence on social media is not only beneficial to your customers. It can also do wonders for your brand awareness and revenue.

5. Leverage social messaging apps to reach more customers and connect with existing ones

Mobile messaging marketing has emerged as a new trend in 2018.

It seems like social messaging apps (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and many others) are all the craze these days.

And honestly, they should be.

Influencer marketing shares one message with many people. By using social messaging apps, you can send numerous highly-personalized messages to many people.

Users and businesses on Facebook send approximately 8 billion messages on Messenger every month.

The best part is that they usually have high open and click-through rates, too.

The growth of these messaging apps has skyrocketed in recent years. In 2017, over 76% of smartphone users worldwide used messaging apps.

mobile phone message app users worldwide

The graph also shows that, according to current projections, there will be 2.48 billion mobile phone messaging app users by 2021.

If you want to be where your customers are, then you should think about how you’re leveraging your messaging app strategy.

But what’s interesting is that not all marketers, for some reason or another, aren’t using this as a marketing tactic.

The State of Social 2018” study found that, despite the increase in interest and adoption of messaging apps, nearly 80% of businesses don’t market through them at all.

has your business used messaging apps for marketing

That’s bad for them, but it’s great for you.

Fewer businesses promoting their messages means a greater chance of yours cutting through the clutter.

Messaging apps are a great place to distribute content and offer promotional deals directly to your customers.

Look at how DigitalMarketer used a chatbot to distribute their “Ending the War Between Sales & Marketing” report.

Those interested in the report could connect their Facebook with just a simple click. Then, an automated message would arrive in their Messenger account with a link to the report.

It’s quick, easy, and even feels a little personal.

digitalmarketer chatbot

But this isn’t just a flashy way to distribute content.

It gets results, too.

For example, look at this retargeting campaign that used a chatbot to allow customers to “unlock a special discount.”

The results were incredible. They achieved a 48.2x ROAS (up from 5.6x) and a 1133% conversion rate increase.

HolidayPirates saw incredible success when they used a chatbot to deliver a promotion code to their customers.

They have over nine million digital followers, and they wanted to interact with them on social messaging platforms and send them a holiday promotion.

They grew their WhatsApp following to 750,000+ and achieved open rates of 50-60% and 90% click-through rates for the campaign.

holidaypirates how we attract subscribers

A 90% click-through rate?

That’s something you don’t see every day.

To get a chatbot set up, you just need to follow a few easy steps.

For this example, I’m going to use

First, visit their homepage and click on “Get Started for Free.”

its alive get started

Then, fill out the information they ask for to register your account.

its alive register

From there, choose your plan and hit “Next.”

its alive choose your plan

Name and describe your bot, and then hit “Create this bot.”

its alive new bot

Click on the pencil icon to edit the test bot that you get by default.

is alive edit bot

Add your trigger and text. Triggers can vary from keywords to events. You can then program what you’d like the bot to do.

You can add as many triggers and texts as you’d like.

In this case, I am setting up the bot to answer FAQs.

is alive bot faq

Then, click the back button and select “Link to Facebook” in the menu.

From there, you’ll want to “Connect to your Facebook account” and select your business page.

Take special note of the test code as well. You will have to add that four-character code when you test your bot.

its alive link to facebook

Then, you can test your bot and see it in action for yourself.

its alive testing bot

Continue to tweak your bot until it accomplishes your business objectives.

Due to the widespread adoption of messaging apps and the generally untapped potential of social messaging marketing, your business could cut directly through the clutter with this tactic.

You should really consider how you can leverage it to reach new customers.

6. Continue to invest in your email marketing strategy

You might be thinking, “Email marketing. That’s so old school.”

While that may be true, it’s still a viable marketing tactic that you should double down on.

One advantage is that you can control and target your audience with email marketing better than you can with influencer marketing.

Emails are part of everyday life, and using them as a marketing medium gets results. After all, users send 149,000+ emails each day.

That might sound like a lot of clutter, and it is. But it’s important that you keep your business top of mind in your customers’ inboxes.

But why?

Email still has the highest ROI when you compare it to any other marketing tactic.

For every $ 1 businesses spend on email marketing, they average a $ 38 return.

email delivers highest roi

Notice how email marketing soars ahead of affiliate marketing, paid search, display ads, videos, social media marketing, and traditional marketing tactics.

If you want to assess the ROI of your email marketing campaigns, I recommend this email marketing ROI tool.

It’s very easy to use and can provide great insights into your current email marketing efforts.

Marketers even collectively agree that email has staying power in 2018.

In one survey, marketing professionals rated the effectiveness of digital marketing channels. Approximately 35% gave email marketing a “good” rating, and 18% rated it as “excellent.”

effectiveness of digital media channels

This put email marketing in the lead as one of the most effective digital marketing channels according to marketers.

In 2018, you need to have an email marketing strategy in place and execute highly-personalized and targeted campaigns.

Customers are expecting this in all marketing tactics, but especially in email. If you haven’t targeted your email, they’ll consider it irrelevant to them. You can bet they’ll delete it.

Even worse, they might not open it.

effects of personalization in the shopping experience

A total of 49% of shoppers said that personalization “has led shoppers to purchase an item that wasn’t planned.”

By personalizing your copy, messaging, design, and even your pricing structure, you can encourage conversions and move customers to buy.

You can do this by segmenting your lists (separating your lists to ensure the correct campaign is going to the right audience) and using dynamic copy or pricing.

segment your list convert

How do you make sure that you’ve personalized your email campaigns and that you’re sending them to the right people?

That’s what the men’s shirt company Twillory had to answer.

The team initiated an email campaign when they moved into a larger warehouse. They sent the below email to their first-tier recipients and achieved a 48.5% open rate and an 8% CTR.


To their less-engaged tier, they stripped the graphic away and took a simpler, personalized, text-based approach.

all text email

This resulted in “a 33% open rate and 11% click-through rate with a group of people who had not engaged in over 270 days.”

That’s a significant impact for their email marketing efforts.

If you want to effectively reach your customers, then deploy smart, personalized, and targeted email marketing campaigns.


Influencer marketing isn’t dead.

At least, it isn’t dead yet.

For now, it still can perform as a viable part of your marketing strategy. The influencer marketing industry is still booming, and it’s still profitable in many cases.

But it may not be around for much longer. It’s becoming increasingly expensive, there’s no guarantee of results, it’s difficult to track the ROI of campaigns, and users are beginning to trust influencers less.

You need to prepare for alternate ways to acquire customers.

Turn to video content to share a compelling narrative about your brand or help put a product on display.

Engage with customers directly on social media. Go out of your way to provide out-of-this-world service experiences that will turn your customers into passionate fans.

Focus on messenger marketing and directly share content, promotions, and solutions through messaging apps.

Finally, double down on email marketing. But as you do so, make sure that you target the right audience and personalize your messages with dynamic content.

If you do all of this, you’ll be ready if the days of influencer marketing come to an end.

What marketing tactics will you use in place of influencer marketing in 2018?

The post Is Influencer Marketing Dead? A Hard Look at The Newest Data (and What You Can Do Instead) appeared first on Neil Patel.

Blog – Neil Patel

Turning statistics into stories: the key to nonprofit marketing

Guest post by Ayla Tezel, Executive Vice President, Communications at Wounded Warrior Project. Originally published here.


The number of nonprofit organizations in the United States has skyrocketed, from more than 630,000 in 1999  to more than 1.5 million by 2016. I expect that number to grow, and public charities will continue competing for limited attention from individuals and corporations around the country.

How does any single organization break through and convince donors their cause is worth attention? How do we drive attention to our programs in an age of “fake news” and plummeting trust in media?

My inspiration in answering these questions comes from Wounded Warrior Project (WWP)’s mission: to connect, serve and empower wounded warriors—the men and women who have served and sacrificed for our country.

But they’re not just warriors; they’re people. They are people who deserve to come home from the battlefield to a welcoming community, people whose experiences have shaped who they are—and people who essentially are a lot like everyone else.

And that gives them powerful stories to share.

Put Relatable People Front and Center

Research shows that around the globe, the public is more likely to trust “a person like yourself” than the leadership of an organization. With that in mind, at WWP, we produce content that’s relatable to people—and that often means video vignettes featuring veterans telling their own stories.

There are no words as powerful as when the spouse of a service member candidly shares how their loved one needed psychological support to recover from PTSD upon returning from duty. Through genuine, and sometimes raw, emotion, video turns a statistic into a story, and stories are what drive action.

Video Creates Emotion

This December at Social Fresh 2017, the longest running social marketing conference, I’ll be speaking about how we produce videos that make an impact without exhausting our budget. We’ve learned to be creative both in how we produce them—sometimes filming on an iPhone—and in how we distribute them, internally and externally.

Video marketing is expected to account for 80 percent of all Internet traffic in the next two years. The key is to use it wisely—to foster personal connections to your mission through storytelling.

Videos like this one draw thousands of visitors and keep them engaged for long periods of time. They’re also more likely to come back to our sites if they’ve seen a particularly moving video there before.

Video Ads = Donations

And in the ultimate test for a nonprofit, we’ve seen video translate into increased donations, which allow us to provide all of our programs free of charge. Last year during “giving season,” we ran several ads on social media. The ads that contained video outperformed all other ad types, garnering 43 percent of all revenue for the social campaigns. But those are just statistics; the real story is how we’ve used those donations to help veterans who have dedicated so much of their lives to this country.

After the Social Fresh conference in December, I’ll report back with more insights about the strategies various organizations have employed to make video storytelling work effectively.

I’m curious—what have you discovered?

Social Fresh

Social Media in Healthcare: A Surgical Guide for Marketing Professionals

A few years ago, the idea of following your doctor on Facebook may have seemed flat-out ridiculous.

Fast-forward to present day and it’s clear that times have changed.

Did you know Darth Vader could help you perform proper CPR? In honor of the release of “Solo: A Star Wars Story,”…

Posted by Florida Hospital on Tuesday, May 29, 2018

According to Deloitte’s 2018 global healthcare outlook, more and more providers are making their presence known on social media.

This migration isn’t due to dollars and cents, though. Instead, the overarching purpose of social media in healthcare is to improve the patient experience and form a “customer-centric relationship” with followers.

Look: it’s no secret healthcare represents a massive, multi-trillion dollar industry and the US’ largest employer.

And just as people are researching products and services via social, they’re doing the same when searching for a doctor.

But the role of social media in healthcare isn’t as simple as attracting new patients. Providers need to not only understand the best practices of using social media, but also the challenges and responsibilities of doing so, too.

Educating the public. Creating communities for patients. Providing stellar customer care. The list goes on and on.

Hashtags provide an opportunity for health communities to come together.

In this guide to social media in healthcare, we’re going to tackle these challenges head-on. Breaking down how healthcare professionals can use social media as a force for good, we’ll highlight what a fine-tuned presence for medical providers looks like in action.

And with that, let’s dive right in!

The Role of Social Media in Healthcare

Healthcare providers are in a unique position when it comes to their social presence.

After all, you’re marketing a service that represents a human necessity rather than a potential impulse buy.

And between rising healthcare premiums and patient anxiety, winning over your target audience is easier said than done.

Social media is a key component of how your practice is perceived by current and prospective patients alike. Practices of all shapes and sizes should therefore prioritize the following to market themselves as a top-tier provider.

Educating the Public

According to a recent Pew Research study, 36% of Americans haven’t visited a doctor within the past year.


This stat signals the need for education among the general public when it comes to check-ups, seasonal wellness and preventative care. The good news? The same Pew study notes that 87% of people hold doctors and their opinions in high regard.

The takeaway?

Educating the public isn’t just as an expectation: it’s a duty. Healthcare marketers actors are therefore tasked with keeping current and prospective patients alike informed year-round about treatments. Topical posts like this one from Florida Hospital represent a much-needed dose of education for their followers.

Chicago White Sox pitcher, Danny Farquhar, recently returned to the mound after collapsing from a subarachnoid hemorrhage. Learn more about the causes and treatment for this type of aneurysm.

Posted by Florida Hospital on Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Making Patients Feel Comfortable

Spoiler alert: not everyone is exactly jazzed about going to the doctor.

Something as seemingly simple as a check-up can be incredibly daunting on a prospective patient. In fact, white coat syndrome impacts approximately 30% of the public.

And so you can imagine the need for practices to display their empathy when it comes to patients dealing with terminal illnesses. Social media represents a great avenue to both show off the measures you take to make patients feel at home in their time of need.

Posts like this one from Northwestern Medicine prove that it’s possible to put on a smiling face regardless of the prognosis.

Signaling Yourself as a Staple in the Community

The concept of competition in the health sector is a touchy one. Even so, any given community is full of providers and it’s only natural for prospective patients to “shop around.”

It only makes sense for healthcare marketers to present their practices as the go-to for their respective communities. From showing off employees in action to local advocacy efforts, social media allows practices to be more transparent and personable to prospective patients.

Posts like this one from Massachusetts General Hospital are a shining example of the much-needed personal touch that patients want to see from their providers.

Today is National Nurses Day! We want to thank all of our nurses for providing expert, compassionate care to our patients every day. Please comment below to thank your favorite Mass General nurse.

Posted by Massachusetts General Hospital on Sunday, May 6, 2018

Understanding the big-picture goals of social media in healthcare is key to honing in on a content strategy, which leads us directly to our next point.

Which Types of Content Should Healthcare Providers Publish?

As highlighted by the examples above, healthcare content on social doesn’t have to be all gloom and doom.

Nor should it be.

A diverse content strategy is a smart move for any type of marketing and healthcare providers are no different. For the sake of diversifying your content calendar and keeping your followers happy, consider the following types of content which are fair game for healthcare marketers:

1. Educational Content

The growing phenomenon of self-diagnosis and letting Google serve as a doctor again signals the need for practices to educate the public.

Whether it’s the tips for the latest bug going around or touching on health-related news, marketers should strive to keep followers in the loop.

Health tips and “Did you know?”-style content is also popular for encouraging interactions and debate among your followers. Whether it’s busting myths or quizzing your followers, posts like Instagram Story from Cleveland Clinic are prime for healthy (pun intended) discussion.

Should you avoid carbs at all costs, or just certain ones? Click 🔗 in bio.

A post shared by Cleveland Clinic (@clevelandclinic) on

And although not related to content directly, educating potential patients about your practice is a vital piece of social customer care. If someone has a question about treatment options or what your practice can do to help, strive to respond in a timely manner.

2. Inspirational Content

Especially in the face of progressive diseases such as cancer, patients and their family members could often use a dose of inspiration and motivation.

As such, you’ll oftentimes find patient success stories sprinkled through any given practice’s feed to provide a much-needed sense of hope. These types of posts are oftentimes the ones that get shared around the most, expanding your reach and telling a compelling tale at the same time.

At 22, college athlete and elite runner Gabriele Grunewald was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Today she continues to run, not only for her health but as a way to support other patients and raise funds for research. In August 2016 — seven years after her initial diagnosis — Gabriele learned her cancer had returned. This time, it metastasized to her liver. She had another surgery, and doctors believed Gabriele was cancer-free. But in March 2017, follow-up tests revealed more tumors in her liver. That’s when doctors recommended she head to Mayo Clinic, where she now has biweekly immunotherapy infusions, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Through it all, Gabriele has continued to run, applying lessons learned on the track to her approach to treatment. “You have to take running one day at a time, and it’s not easy every single day,” she tells us. “Running has served me well in this. Gabriele believes it could serve others well, too. She recently launched a foundation, Brave Like Gabe, in part to encourage cancer survivors to incorporate physical activity into their lives. But the most important goals of the foundation, Gabriele tells us, are raising awareness of rare diseases and funds to support the research that may lead to their cures. “So many things are uncertain for me right now, but one thing I can do is work to make a difference,” Gabriele tells us. “I have been inspired by so many people and organizations, and that made me want to try to inspire others. I’m trying to do as much as I can by sharing my life story. I’m trying to make some good come out of this diagnosis.” Read the full story on . . . #MayoClinic #MayoClinicMN #Cancer #PatientStory #BraveLikeGabe

A post shared by Mayo Clinic (@mayoclinic) on

3. Harnessing Hashtags

Despite popular belief, social media in healthcare isn’t completely divorced from the world of social marketing at large.

For example, you can totally take advantage of clever captions and Instagram hashtags while still being totally tasteful about it. This post from Northwestern Medicine for #NationalDonutDay is a prime example of how to do just that.

Additionally, there are tons of community-specific health hashtags such as #cancersucks and #cancerfree in which patients and providers alike can show their support to each other. Including such tags on your posts helps you expand your reach and likewise show off your practice in action.

4. ‘Behind the Scenes’ Content

Speaking of practices in action, highlighting the “fun” side of your team by taking followers behind the scenes is always a smart move. Posts like this one from Johns Hopkins serve as both wholesome content and the brighter side of working in healthcare.

5. User-Generated Content

Sometimes the best way to highlight your practice is by letting others do the talking. Through user-generated content, you can provide an unfiltered view of what your practice looks like from the eyes of your patients.

This is why geotagging on Instagram and allowing followers to tag your location via social is so important. People are checking in en masse to let their friends and family know what’s going on, and such tags are critical to spotting UGC in the wild.

Check-ins and geotagging are important for social media in healthcare

Don’t Forget Your Practice’s Reputation

Beyond publishing content, we need to briefly touch on reputation management and its place within social media and healthcare.

Social comments and sounding boards such as Facebook reviews provide an avenue for patients to share their experiences both good and bad.

Reputation management is an important aspect of social media in healthcare.

Since these comments are out in the open, it’s crucial that you respond in a timely manner and address any negative feedback with grace. Just as practices are expected to handle patient concerns in-person with extraordinary care, the same rings true online.

The takeaway? Prospective patients will undoubtedly check out comments and reviews prior to checking out your practice, so just keep social reputation management in the back of your mind.

Important: A Note on HIPAA Compliance

By now your head is probably swirling with ideas.


But also, don’t forget about the need to stay compliant with HIPAA in terms of social media and healthcare. This is perhaps one of the biggest challenges of practices which often flies under the radar.

In short, you need to take special care when publishing patient content which would potentially reveal sensitive information or otherwise violate HIPAA. For example, did you know that using your patients as part of your marketing materials requires explicit written consent?

As such, we really urge you to check out our HIPAA and social media cheat sheet to ensure that what you’re doing is on the up and up.

How Does Your Practice Mix Social Media & Healthcare?

Healthcare marketers have a distinct set of challenges when it comes to social media and healthcare. That being said, there are tons of opportunities for educating the public, creating a sense of community and using your social presence as a force for good. Hopefully this guide was helpful in providing both directions in what you should do in terms of your own social media strategy.

We want to hear from you, though! What do you think is the biggest responsibility for healthcare providers via social media? What’s your biggest challenge? Let us know in the comments below.

This post Social Media in Healthcare: A Surgical Guide for Marketing Professionals originally appeared on Sprout Social.

Sprout Social

You Are Doing Your Marketing Wrong (and I Have the Data to Prove It)

marketing wrong

You know what’s interesting about having an ad agency?

It’s that you get to talk to companies of all sizes and learn what causes them to grow.

And I know what you are thinking… “Neil, shouldn’t you be the one telling companies how to grow”?

Technically, yes. And I do.

But at the same time, I need to analyze what a company has done so far to come up with the best marketing strategy for them.

And the sad reality is, most marketers and companies are focusing on the wrong things. (I’ll go over how to fix it later in this post.)

Over the last 7 months, I talked to 208 companies to find out where they are spending their marketing efforts and what’s working. And best of all, I got the approval to share their data with you. 🙂

I talked to companies generating anywhere from one million dollars in yearly revenue to $ 291 million.

I avoided talking to companies less than a million in revenue because most of them weren’t doing much marketing. And I avoided talking to companies generating over a billion in revenue because you wouldn’t be able to replicate what they are doing.

As for the industry, I talked to companies in the B2B space as well as the B2C space. From ecommerce to lead generation to software as a service and everything in-between.

The first question I asked each of these companies was:

Where do you spend your marketing dollars?

In essence, I got a breakdown of marketing spend by channel.

marketing spend by channel

It was obvious that most companies spend their money on Google and Facebook ads.

Even if they didn’t share that data with me, you can tell by just looking at Google and Facebook’s market cap. They are worth $ 790 billion and $ 554 billion respectively because of paid ads.

Now let’s break down the data by company size.

Does marketing spend by channel change by company size?

When talking to these companies, I broke them down into three groups.

The first being under 5 million in yearly revenue (with a minimum of $ 1 million per year). The second group was $ 5 million to $ 100 million, and the third was over $ 100 million.

marketing spend by channel under 5 mil

marketing spend by channel 5 mil to 100 mil

marketing spend by channel over 100 mil

Do you see a trend? No matter what size a company is, the majority of their marketing budget is going towards paid ads.

When I asked why the most common responses were: it’s easy to scale and you can see a direct ROI.

Now let’s look at the conversion rate per channel…

Conversion rate by channel

Before I share with you conversion data, out of the 208 companies I interviewed, only 73 of them had the correct tracking set in place for me to get accurate numbers.

If you want to succeed as a marketer, you need to set up your tracking correctly.

You don’t have to pay for an analytics solution, you can just use Google Analytics and set up goal and conversion tracking. It’s better than nothing.

Here is the average conversion rate per channel:

conversion rate by channel

When looking at the conversion data per channel, you’ll notice that I combined SEO and content marketing because they go hand in hand.

The more content marketing you do, in general, the better you’ll do when it comes to SEO.

The graph clearly shows paid ads convert better. And they usually do because you can control the landing page the traffic goes to. That’s why I love paid advertising!

Just look at these 2 pages below. They are both on page 1 of Google for the term “auto insurance”.

This one takes the top spot through paid ads:


And this one takes the top organic listing:


It’s obvious why the paid one converts better. The design focuses on converting a user into an auto insurance client. The organic listing (the second one) has tons of text because, without the content, it wouldn’t rank high on Google.

But looking at pure conversion rates doesn’t tell the whole story because some marketing channels are more expensive than others.

To get an idea of how effective a marketing channel is, you have to look at return on marketing spend.

return marketing spend

Return on marketing spend doesn’t necessarily mean how profitable a channel is.

All it’s doing is showing the return based on marketing spend.

For example, although Facebook Ads don’t convert as well as Google Ads, they are much cheaper. Out of all the companies we interviewed, on average, they generated $ 3.04 in revenue for every dollar they spent on Facebook ads.

Again, this doesn’t mean profit. But typically, companies won’t keep spending money unless it is profitable.

What’s interesting about this data is that it shows 2 things:

  1. Facebook Ads produce a better return on ad spend over Google Ads – this makes sense because it’s much cheaper to advertise on Facebook and it hasn’t been around as long as Google. Facebook Ads are quickly increasing in cost and over time the return on ad spend will probably even out with Google AdWords.
  2. SEO produces the best returns – assuming you have set up your conversion tracking correctly, SEO is very effective because you can focus on increasing traffic from the right keywords that are causing sales. The only problem with SEO is that it is a long-term play and you won’t see results instantly.

So what’s wrong Neil?

Well, nothing yet, because you don’t have all of the data yet. 🙂

Let’s look at a few more trends and data point points…

The first is that paid ads are just increasing in price, which means you can expect to pay more for them each year.

google revenue

Google generated $ 50 billion in 2012 and $ 109 billion in 2017. Yes, Google generates revenue outside of ads, but ads still make up 90% of their income.

Second, the majority of users don’t click on ads. But still, companies focus their marketing budgets on ads. Did you know that only 2.6% of the searches result on a paid ad click?

That’s crazy!!!

Now, I am not saying the remaining searches cause clicks on organic listings.

34% of searches get no clicks because Google is solving a lot of search queries through their knowledge graph, which means a user won’t have to click. Plus, people are clicking on images, new stories, map listings, and whatever else Google decides to show.

But still, the majority of the remaining clicks are going towards the organic listings.

So why are you focusing all of your efforts on paid ads?

Just think about it. You know ad costs are going to keep going up because they have over time. And users prefer to click on the organic listings, yet you still spend the majority of your budget on paid ads.

And no, I am not saying that you shouldn’t leverage paid ads. Heck, I still think you should spend the largest portion of your marketing budget on paid ads because they are easier to scale, they convert better, and you’ll see an instant return assuming you know what you are doing.

But what you should be doing is maxing out your SEO spend because it produces the best return.

Here are 3 lessons for you when it comes to your marketing efforts and where you should be investing your time and money.

Lesson #1: Get good at SEO

You have no choice!

You’re going to struggle to keep your business profitable as your cost to acquire a customer is going to continually rise.

If you don’t believe me, just look at Google’s revenue graph that I shared above.

And learning on-page SEO and link building isn’t enough. To do well these days you’ll have to incorporate social media marketing and content marketing.

But here’s the beauty: If you get it right, your cost for SEO will continually go down over time compared to how much traffic and sales it’s driving.

Let’s look at

I’ve been doing SEO on my own site for many years now. And when I mean SEO, I’m encompassing social media marketing, content marketing (including podcasts and videos), and crazy experiments.

Here’s my overall traffic excluding any cost per click type of ads for 2015.

2015 traffic

A whopping 868,821 unique visitors. During that year I spent $ 320,301 on SEO related efforts, excluding CPC ads.

And in 2016 I generated 3,448,929 unique visitors and I spent $ 1,430,133 on SEO related efforts, excluding CPC ads.

2016 traffic

Last but not least, I generated 7,442,647 unique visitors in 2017 for a total spend of $ 581,495 on SEO related efforts, excluding CPC ads.

2017 traffic

2018 isn’t over yet, but my costs are even going to be lower than 2017 and my traffic is higher.

Technically if you include how much money I’m spending on building out the Ubersuggest tool it will be higher… but that’s not really considered SEO. 

Here’s a recap…
marketing spend neil patel

In 2015, SEO was really expensive for me when you look at it from a cost per visitor standpoint.

It got worse in 2016 because I really wanted to grow faster, and then in 2017, I started to run out of places to spend my money and naturally, my growth rate slowed down.

If you fast forward to today, my cost per visitor is drastically lower than 2017. But still… I’m able to generate a B2B visitor for less than 8 cents.

That’s ridiculously cheap considering some of the terms I rank for would cost me $ 11 a click.

In other words, SEO is very expensive in the beginning, but it generates one of the highest ROI because you don’t have to keep spending money at the same pace to generate the greater results.

With paid advertising, if you stop spending money, your traffic and sales will stop. And if you want to scale fast, it tends to cost more per visitor instead of less per visitor like SEO.

If you are going to max out your SEO efforts like I’m recommending, make sure you know what is causing an ROI or else you’ll waste time and money acquiring traffic that won’t ever convert into sales.

Lesson #2: Ugly is the new sexy

I asked each of the 208 companies one simple question… which marketing strategy has provided you with your biggest return on investment?

Can you guess what the answer was?

No, it wasn’t SEO.

It was CRO (conversion rate optimization)!

The second runner-up was SEO.

It makes sense though.

If you already have traffic, optimizing for conversions is one of the simplest ways to grow… assuming you can come up with tests that perform better than your control.

But here’s what’s interesting… less than 1.7% of marketing spend was allocated towards CRO when you look at all companies as a whole.

I do understand why companies generating under $ 5 million a year in revenue don’t spend much on CRO because they don’t have as much traffic.

But if your company generates over $ 5 million a year you should consider allocating more of your budget towards CRO.

Yes, it’s not as sexy as SEO or social media marketing, but it works.

Lesson #3: Don’t forget lesson number 2

Most marketers and companies want to be hip and cool. In other words, they want to spend more time and money on cool marketing channels.

When I asked each company, “which marketing channel do you feel has the most potential”, here are the responses I got back:

marketing channel potential

What’s shocking about the chart above is that both B2B and B2C companies almost equally agreed Instagram and YouTube have the most potential.

Although Instagram is cool, ads are really expensive and it’s hard to generate a positive ROI on Instagram.

As for building up your Instagram reach organically, it’s definitely doable, but it’s hard to drive traffic from Instagram to your site unless you are having people swipe up.

As for YouTube, there is huge potential in it as long as marketers are willing to create videos. YouTube SEO isn’t competitive and ads are still affordable.

But here is the thing, you can see from the data above that most of these large companies have been built off of traditional channels like paid ads and SEO.

Yes, these newer channels are sexy, but the old ones still work extremely well.

And here is the kicker… you haven’t even seen the maximum potential of both paid ads and SEO because most you haven’t fine-tuned them.

So why would you want to go after unknown channels that aren’t as proven when you haven’t made the most out of the channels that work for your competition?


Yes, I spend a lot of my time and money on podcasting and videos, as well as leverage all of the cool channels such as Facebook Watch, but I do the fundamentals really well.

If you want to grow your traffic, leads, and sales, here’s how you should prioritize your marketing budget:

  • Spend more on SEO – whether you are a small company or a large one, SEO will produce a better return on your investment than paid ads in the long term. With all of the companies I talked to, less than 3% dominated the organic listings. But before you go all in on SEO, you need to setup tracking correctly so you so aren’t wasting your time driving traffic that doesn’t convert.
  • Keep your SEO budget reasonable – I’m kind of crazy, but most companies should never spend more than a million on SEO. Yes, really big companies will… but when you are maxing out your SEO budget it’s nowhere near as expensive as paid ads. As for what the amount will be, it ranges a lot depending on the industry, how competitive it is, and how fast you want to grow. So sadly I can’t give you an answer on how much, but it should decrease over time.
  • Invest more in CRO – if your company is generating at least 5 million dollars, you should consider spending more money on CRO. I know many of you don’t care for it based on the data above (plus my CRO blog posts aren’t as popular as my SEO ones), but it will help tremendously. It will allow you to spend more on paid ads as costs rise and it will increase your overall profit margin.
  • Avoid the sexy marketing channels – you shouldn’t consider copying me or others when it comes to Facebook, YouTube, etc. if you haven’t figured out the basics yet. Spend more time and energy on what’s proven.
  • When you’re small, test – many of you have businesses that generate less than a million dollars a year in revenue. If this is you, don’t follow the formula above. When you are starting off, it is best to test 4 or 5 marketing strategies out at the same time. Spend very little money on each of them… whichever one produces the best return, that’s what you should focus on in the short-run.

And if you are one of the rare marketers in which you’ve mastered all of the above strategies and already implemented them, the next step for you is to think outside the box and be a bit more creative.

Just like I am doing by creating marketing tools.

So where are you spending your marketing dollars?

The post You Are Doing Your Marketing Wrong (and I Have the Data to Prove It) appeared first on Neil Patel.

Blog – Neil Patel

Announcing Call to Action Conference 2018: A Revolution for Today’s Marketing Evolution

Webster’s Dictionary defines a ‘conference’ as, “An event at which industry professionals talk at other industry professionals who’ve stockpiled seven complimentary croissants in their bag to eat later. See also: Room temperature orange juice.”   

Whether it’s to learn some new tricks, make some new connections or drum up some new business, conferences are a necessary (and sometimes cool) part of being a marketer—but not all of them are worth your time. While your typical marketing conference has morphed from weak coffee and dry PowerPoints to free t-shirts and celebrity thought leaders, it can be tough to leave feeling like you’ve really gotten something out of the event.

We saw a need to change the conference experience. Because the experience of being a marketer has changed. 

Marketing now is harder than ever— it’s hyper-competitive, oversaturated and comprised of tired tactics that used to work. We need new solutions to old problems and actionable solutions to new problems. Especially when we’re forking out hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars on a conference ticket (money we could’ve sacrificed to the AdWords gods).

Enter Call to Action Conference.

Now in its fifth year (only 55 more ’til we get that diamond!), CTAConf 2018 is going to be more exciting, more targeted and more committed to your future success than ever.

Already sold on joining us? Get 10% off Early Bird tickets by using the promo code “CTAConfRevolution” at checkout.

Why this conference is different (we promise)

CTAConf merges carefully curated, usable content with…well, having a great time. It’s single track, allergic to fluff and ensures you’ll walk away with leading-edge tactics, all wrapped up in an amazing experience you’ll truly enjoy.

“CTAConf has set the bar for what a marketing event should be: fun, engaging and insightful. No matter the experience level or skill set, every attendee left with a new set of philosophies and tactics to apply in their marketing practice”

Ray Silva, Strategy Lead at Apply Digital and CTAConf 2017 attendee.

We’re talking hands-on workshops, a concert atmosphere, all-you-can-eat snacks and gourmet food trucks, organic networking, a genuinely friendly team and fun parties in the beautiful setting of Vancouver, B.C. (Credit to Mother Nature for that one.)

Even the sessions themselves, held in the historic and fully immersive Queen Elizabeth Theatre, will make you feel less like you’re at a “work event” and more like you’re at a Broadway show about email marketing called Don’t Spamalot. 

Most importantly, it’s designed to deliver practical know-how and future-proofing strategies from true experts covering every facet of digital marketing.

A glimpse at who’s talking and what you’ll learn

April Dunford, Wind at Your Back: Making your Market Category Work for You

April has spent her career launching innovative tech products and is a seasoned expert at getting traction in increasingly noisy markets. Prior to founding Rocket Launch Marketing, where she works with companies on market strategy and positioning, she was VP of Marketing at a series of successful high-growth startups and an executive at global companies including IBM, Nortel and Siebel Systems. She was also the top-rated speaker at last year’s CTAConf (she happens to be equal parts genius and hilarious).

In her talk, you’ll learn :

  • How to shift to a favourable market category to give your marketing programs added velocity
  • How to completely change the way customers think about your offering to remove friction in your funnel
  • The three steps for shifting market categories, from isolating your differentiators to finding your downstream customers and picking the best market current to ride
Rob Bucci, What Google Serves Up For Local Searches

Rob is the founder and CEO of STAT Search Analytics, a rank tracking and SERP analytics service for SEO experts. A developer and entrepreneur in the SEO space since 2005, Rob especially loves tackling big-data challenges in data mining and analytics.

He’ll be bringing his SEO expertise to the stage to teach us:

  • How Google interprets different levels of local intent and what searchers are seeing most often
  • How to refine your SEO keyword lists by comparing SERPs
  • How to better tailor your content to build more targeted ad campaigns that achieve better results
Hana Abaza, Product Marketing: Inside and Out

Hana is the Head of Marketing for Shopify Plus, a division of Shopify that powers some of the world’s fastest growing and most iconic brands (Rebecca Minkoff, Nestle, The New York Times and FAO Schwartz, to name a few). Prior to joining Shopify, Hana led marketing and growth in a variety of industries and has a proven track record for scaling teams, revenue and customers.

You’ll leave her talk knowing:

  • The guidelines for how and when to invest in product marketing
  • How to develop a go-to-market framework for your company
  • How to set up product marketing as a cross-functional powerhouse
Ross Simmonds, Beyond Google: How To Attract Relevant Traffic Through Diverse Channels

Ross is the founder of Foundation Marketing and creator and co-founder of content curation tool, Crate, and Hustle & Grind, an online store for entrepreneurs.

Over the last several years, he’s worked to help some of the fastest-growing startups and a variety of Fortune 500 brands succeed in their digital marketing efforts. His talk focuses on typically under-used and ignored channels as missed opportunities for quality traffic.

During his talk, you’ll learn:

  • What brands can do to spread their story beyond SEO & SEM
  • How brands can leverage communities and other networks to drive consistent traffic
  • Research and data on the importance of diverse channels
  • Examples of what happens when you embrace a more diverse content approach
Krista Seiden, Measurement for Growth

Currently a Product Manager and Analytics Evangelist for the Google Analytics team, Krista is a leader in the digital analytics industry and co-chair for the San Francisco chapter of the Digital Analytics Association. She has nearly a decade of experience in digital marketing, analytics, and product management, having led analytics and optimization at Adobe and The Apollo Group prior to joining Google.

Her talk will cover:

  • What growth marketing really is, beyond the buzzwords
  • How effective growth marketing is rooted in analytics, experimentation, and product development
  • How to strategically measure and use data for targeted growth
Cyrus Shepard, SEO Success: The One Engagement Metric to Rule Them All

Former Head of SEO and Content Development at Moz, Cyrus now runs Zyppy, a fast-growing SEO company. When he’s not consulting with companies big and small on how to improve their rankings, traffic and profits, he travels the world as a speaker, making complex SEO equations easy to understand.

This August Cyrus will take the stage to teach us:

  • How much speed and rankings matter and steps to improve the right areas
  • What “fuzzy” engagement metrics like bounce rate, time on site, pages per visit really mean and what you need to focus on
  • How to use SEO data to improve conversions
Oli Gardner, Content Marketing is Broken and Only Your M.O.M. Can Save You

Oli is not only an Unbounce co-founder, he’s an expert and international speaker on conversion optimization, data-driven design and landing pages (he claims to have seen more landing pages than anyone on the planet).

He’s often the highest-rated speaker at events around the world, including previous Call to Action Conferences. This year, he’ll be talking:

  • Data and lessons learned from his biggest ever content marketing experiment, and how those lessons have changed his approach to content
  • A context-to-content-to-conversion strategy for big content that converts, based on designing for your customer’s “aha!” moments
  • Advanced methods for creating “choose your own adventure” navigational experiences to build event-based behavioural profiles of your visitors 
  • Innovative ways to productize and market the technology you already have, with use cases your customers had never considered

What’s happening off stage

Learn by doing with Unbounce workshops

Get your hands proverbially dirty with interactive workshops on A/B testing, landing page optimization, PPC, analytics and mastering Unbounce for more conversions across every type of digital campaign. A full-day event prior to the conference, the workshops are a chance to work directly with seasoned pros on solutions to real marketing problems. Workshops have been so popular in previous years they were standing room only.

Make your first (or hundredth!) landing page, popup or sticky bar with us at the workshops, and learn all the insider tips you can take home to your team.  

Eat to your stomach’s content, on us

Call to Action Conference food trucks
When we say free food, we don’t mean “Enjoy these sweaty muffins! If you want lunch, there’s a Chipotle two blocks away.” We mean constantly replenished drinks, foodie-approved snacks and a lunchtime convoy of the city’s finest food trucks delivering everything from truly tasty salads to life-changing mac ‘n’ cheese. All included.

Meet, connect and party with great people

Call to Action Conference hovers around 1,200 attendees for a refreshingly intimate experience with the buzzing energy of a big-time event. Meet fellow passionate marketers from cities all over the world, mingle with industry leaders and see just how stereotypically Canadian the friendly Unbounce crew is.

“CTAConf was amazing! My favourite part? The caliber of attendees and the energy they brought. Met so many remarkable marketers!”

—Jes Kirkwood, Head of Content Marketing at ProsperWorks and 2017 attendee.

Soak up Vancouver at the best time of year

Business and pleasure do mix! Especially in summer. CTAConf 2018 is happening August 27-29, smack dab in the middle of Vancouver’s sunshine season. Take a seawall stroll between sessions, taste-test your way through a diverse food scene, hone your craft beer palate at one of many world-renowned breweries or tack on an extra day and get outside the city to those calling mountains. We turn into human prunes waiting out months of rain for a Vancouver summer and it’s totally worth it. Come see for yourself.

Enjoy champagne hotels at boxed-wine prices

We’ve secured 40-50% discounts on rooms at the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver, Fairmont Hotel Vancouver and Delta Hotels Vancouver Downtown Suites, exclusive to CTAConf 2018 attendees and just steps away from the conference venue. Rooms are at first come, first serve and book up fast so grab yours ASAP and prepare your senses for the fluffiest of robes.

Join the revolution

Call to Action Conference 2018 is coming up fast and early bird prices are ending soon. Get your single, group or customer ticket before May 31, 2018 and come hold us to our promise. You’ll leave feeling inspired, energized and ready for marketing victory with tactics and strategies you can put into action the very next day. In other words, you’ll really get something out of this.

Don’t forget to sweeten that Early Bird deal. Use the promo code “CTAConfRevolution” at checkout to get 10% off all ticket rates. See you in August!

P.S. If you’re joining us from the United States, you’re in luck. Ticket prices are in Canadian dollars. Your boss basically can’t say no (and if you happen to be the boss, you can take your whole team). You’re welcome, eh.


Oracle Named a Leader in The Forrester Wave™: Email Marketing Service Providers, Q2 2018

“Email Marketing: Old salt of your toolkit, and still the most cost-effective promotional channel.” So begins the preamble to this year’s Forrester Wave for Email Marketing Solutions, Q218. Other channels and buzzy topics tend to grab the headlines. The industry press seems to annually predict the death of email. Yet, email persists as the work horse of most digital marketing organizations. Why? Well, it’s the highest ROI channel for most organizations. It’s the preferred commercial channel for most consumers. And, email has been able to adapt to changing consumer tastes—becoming more mobile, more interactive, and more intelligent.

While Oracle has done a lot (more than any other vendor in our opinion) to provide marketing organizations with a true cross-channel marketing platform—we’ve never lost sight of where we came from, or how important email is to our customers. That’s why we are the only vendor who has earned the Leader designation in every Forrester Email Wave for the last thirteen years!

What does it take to lead a category for over 13 years?

Well, for one it takes focus. I trust that few readers have actually reviewed all seven Forrester Waves for Email Marketing since 2005. However, the few of us who have can tell you that one trait that is threaded consistently across all seven reports is: volatility.  Email Marketing is a highly competitive space filled with optimistic venture-backed entrants, competitive technology powerhouses, and opportunistic private equity firms. A Leader one year can quickly lose ground to other vendors, if they take their eye off the ball. In fact, every vendor (or their acquired assets) on this year’s report has been a Leader at some point in the past, except Adobe and IBM.

Thankfully, we have been able to avoid these fluctuations by staying focused on unrivaled customer success and market leading technology.

Not Just Technology

From bringing the first Orchestration Canvas to market in 2009, to introducing email marketers to the first productized Multivariate Testing and Send Time Optimization capabilities in more recent years, Oracle takes pride in being an email technology innovator. However, our many collective years in the email space have taught us that excellent technology is simply not enough to guarantee customer success.

True expertise, proactive customer management, and roadmap guided by marketer needs vs. the latest buzzword feature, are just as, if not more, important than the core technology we provide. After all, marketers and their customers sit in the center of our universe, not the IT department. With this in mind, we thought it appropriate to wrap up with a quote from one of our customers that made it into this report, “The Oracle Platform is more robust [than competitors]. But its creative side is the key to its success.”

If you are a digital marketer looking for a consistent, strategic, and creative leader in Email or Cross Channel Marketing – let us know. We’d be happy to talk to you about all we have to offer.

Oh and also, read the report.

Oracle Blogs | Oracle Marketing Cloud

Business has 2 functions: Marketing and Innovation

I’m launching a new conference on July 18-19 and I want to tell you why.

I’ve produced 18 Social Fresh Conferences over the last 8 years. And don’t worry, Social Fresh isn’t going anywhere. We will host our 19th Social Fresh at the end of 2017, more info announcing in June.

But, a significant number of the questions we are starting to see from the Social Fresh community fall outside of the scope of our existing conference.

We get questions about AI and augmented reality and Alexa, and a ton of other innovation topics that don’t start with an A.

I love these questions.

Companies do not just need to be good at marketing, they need to be good at innovating. At building new stuff. At challenging and disrupting their own assumptions.

French writer Milan Kundera summed this up by saying, “Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation.”

This may feel counterintuitive, but what Milan means is that these are the two sight lines that drive progress. When you look to a horizon and point the way for your business to grow, you need to find a place in the market and you need to find a way to differentiate.

Marketing helps you find your place in the market. Innovation helps you differentiate.

Each is important and each deserves special attention. Their own conversation.

That is why we are introducing Innovation Congress by Social Fresh. Innovation Congress will be July 18-19 in NYC at The New School.

About the Event

Innovation Congress by Social Fresh, in special partnership with Firebrand Group, is July 18-19 at The New School in NYC. Content will focus on helping businesses stay competitive in the next 3-5 years, within the categories of digital trends, technology innovations, and societal shifts.

Innovation touches the marketing, technology, operations and product teams equally. It’s a large conversation to have in a conference format.

We surveyed executives at leading Fortune 500 and INC 5000 companies to zero in on what topics they need help with to stay competitive in the next 3-5 years. We also reached out to the people in charge of building these technologies.

Sessions will include: Augmented Reality, Audio Content Trends and Technology, Virtual Reality, Influencer Marketing, Automation and Chatbots, The Evolution of Ideation, The Future of Talent, 360 Video, The Future of Media + Content, Artificial Intelligence, Live Video, App Marketplaces, Video Ads, Understanding the Social “Story” Trend, Crowd Technologies and the Sharing Economy, and more.

We’re producing Innovation Congress to help you bring substance to these discussions and help you decide which technologies to adopt and at what speed.

Speakers include:

  • Coca-Cola
  • Charity Water
  • BuzzFeed
  • NY Times
  • Patron Tequila
  • Instagram
  • Indiegogo
  • Casper
  • Away
  • Washington Post
  • X.AI
  • Refinery29
  • Breather
  • WNYC
  • DraftKings
  • Bionic
  • Goldman Sachs
  • Cheddar
  • BaubleBar

I’m also really excited to host the conference at The New School’s Tishman Auditorium. The space is aesthetically and technologically impressive. And I can’t wait to fill their stage with amazing content.

Tishman Auditorium, The New School



We’re partnering with a group of amazing folks in NYC for Innovation Congress. From Firebrand Group and their expertise at Future Proofing companies to an incredible speaker lineup and some incredible sponsors.

Head over the event page today and reserve your seat. I can’t wait to see you in New York.



Social Fresh