4 Big Social Media Marketing Trends for 2018

We’re well past the days when a business could create a Facebook Page and call it good. As new social platforms, algorithms, and advertising models have arisen, social media marketing has gotten a lot more complicated. Now, some of the latest trends in social media advertising involve using specialized tools and strategies to reach a highly relevant audience at the right time.

Since we’re approaching the end of 2017, we decided it would be a good time to take stock of some of the rising social media marketing trends for 2018.

Chatbots Get Smarter

Chatbots (those chat boxes that pop up online to ask if you need assistance) are already a common sight on business websites. It’s easy to see the appeal: chatbots can simulate human conversation and help website visitors find what they’re looking for without having to call or email a customer support agent.

57 percent of consumers already say they’re interested in chatbots because of their instantaneous responses. As chatbots become increasingly popular, they’ll also be finely tuned to better meet consumers’ needs. In 2018, we’re anticipating a couple of social media advertising trends related to chatbots:

  1. More chatbots will interact with users across multiple platforms.
  2. Chatbots will get better at using consumers’ data to make personalized recommendations.

We’ve already seen examples of these smarter chatbots this year. Facebook released their Customer Chat plugin, which lets businesses integrate Facebook’s Messenger platform with their own site so that customers can continue chatting with a business any time they’re online. The plugin is currently in closed beta, and several airlines are testing it out.

Meanwhile, Twitter has released a feature that lets users interact with a branded chatbot over their Direct Messages. The tequila brand Patron used this feature to run a “Bot-Tender” campaign where a chatbot gave users personalized recommendations for cocktails based on their answers to a series of questions.

Twitter chatbot example of social media marketing trend for 2018

We’re not going to see chatbots replacing human customer service reps anytime soon—chatbots are best-suited to simple queries and product recommendations. However, as chatbots become more sophisticated, we’ll see growing acceptance of chatbots as a means of communicating with brands on social media and beyond.

Dynamic Ads Get Personal

Chatbots aren’t the only thing getting personal. Marketers are getting better at tailoring their content to the interests of specific consumers, and social media platforms are making it easier for marketers to customize their ads. Dynamic ads are now one of the biggest emerging trends in social media advertising.

This fall, Facebook unveiled a new dynamic creative tool which will show different combinations of ad components (such as images, headlines, and calls to action) to audiences based on their preferences. This dynamic ad tool will put the ‘big’ in ‘big data.’ Advertisers can add up to certain assets to each ad, resulting in up to 6,250 unique combinations. Facebook will analyze which versions perform best with each audience, giving advertisers the insights they need to run more effective social ads.

YouTube also has a new tool, called Director Mix, that lets marketers generate thousands of different variations on one video ad. Marketers supply all the video ad components (including voiceovers, background, and text), and Director Mix puts together different versions to align with different audience segments.

Campbell’s Soup is one brand that has already benefited from YouTube’s Director Mix. They used the tool to directly relate their product to the content their viewers were about to watch. For example, someone who was watching a clip from the show Orange Is the New Black would be served an ad with the copy: “Does your cooking make prison food seem good? We’ve got a soup for that.” Appealing to their audience’s personal interests paid off for Campbell’s: the campaign netted them a 55 percent lift in Simply Soup sales.

Live Video Becomes a Must for Marketers

 

Branded video has been one of the fastest growing social media advertising trends of the last few years, and most businesses are using video marketing in some capacity. According to Hubspot, 85 percent of businesses have staff and resources to produce videos in-house. And even businesses with limited internal resources can benefit from live video streaming on Facebook, Twitter, and other social platforms.

The less polished, more personal nature of live video makes it a good medium for sharing company events, clips of products being built, behind-the-scenes workplace footage, and quick news updates. Live video lets brands break down the typical formality of advertising and interact more authentically with their audience. And, as an added benefit, Facebook’s algorithm pushes live videos to the top of the Newsfeed, increasing a brand’s likelihood of being seen organically.

If your business decides to use live video next year, keep in mind that “less polished” doesn’t have to mean amateur. If you’re streaming a live interview, for example, you should still make sure you have good lighting, a camera on a tripod, and a company representative who is comfortable in front of the camera. If you’re streaming something a little less structured, like your team’s charity event, you should still have a clear understanding of the story you want to tell.

Pressure to Report on Influencer Marketing Increases

Interest in influencer marketing has grown dramatically in the past five years, as evidenced by Google Trends:

Google trends graph influencer marketing

In the (relatively) early days of online influencer marketing, brands with large marketing budgets would pay celebrities to endorse their products on social media. This allowed brands to get their products in front of a celebrity’s large social media following, and many brands saw this visibility alone as a win.

However, as influencer marketing matures, businesses of all sizes are realizing that they need to do a better job of measuring the results of their campaigns. This is especially important as brands increasingly seek to partner with micro-influencers who don’t have the reach of celebrities like Kim Kardashian or DJ Khaled, but who do have engaged followers in their niche and may deliver a higher ROI than bigger-name personalities.

Businesses may be able to get away with only tracking impressions if their sole goal is brand awareness. However, businesses who have engagement and conversion goals must measure:

  • Likes, comments, shares, retweets, and reactions
  • Growth of social media followers
  • Website traffic (businesses need to set up campaign URLs so that they can identify the traffic coming from an influencer campaign)
  • Sales (businesses can attribute sales to influencer campaigns by giving influencers a unique discount code to share with followers, or by using affiliate links and UTM tracking parameters)

Influencer marketing will continue to grow in 2018, but marketers must be able to measure their success to prove to the C-suite that this strategy is worthwhile.


Think we missed one of the biggest social media trends for businesses? Let us know in the comments. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter for more digital marketing news, tips, and predictions.

Biggest User Experience Problems with Ecommerce Sites

This post was originally published in early 2017, but we’ve updated it with new information to reflect current trends in ecommerce user experience design.

Designing an ecommerce user experience that pleases the customer is hard. Besides creating a gratifying ecommerce layout design, you need to craft a seamless experience from landing page to purchase. We’ve created a list some of the common failings ecommerce sites fall into–and your site should attempt to avoid. By focusing on your ecommerce UX and avoiding these pitfalls, you can succeed.

ux problems infographic 2

Limited and Missing Product Info

Website users want straightforward information. They want sufficient details that explain what your product is and how it can help them. Your ecommerce site should have multiple pictures of each of your products from various angles, presented excitingly. Don’t use stock images either; customers prefer images you’ve created or photographs that were taken expressly for your product. Follow this advice, and you can be successful on your site, and have images ready for Google’s Shopping Platform, newsletters, and more.

Lack of Mobile Optimization

It’s impossible to ignore mobile–it’s growing and becoming a larger segment of ecommerce activity each year. People shop from their phones and tablets a significant amount of the time, especially around the holidays. Your ecommerce website should be responsive and easy-to-use on mobile, with large buttons and a simple checkout process. Developing your site for mobile can lead to increased conversions and draw in new customers.

Long or Confusing Checkout Process

A quick check out process is integral to the success of your ecommerce site. If your check out takes too long and isn’t smooth, it can dissuade buyers and lead to abandoned carts. A one-page checkout, with multiple options for payment–including the option to sign in with Google, Amazon, or PayPal can increase your conversion–and success.

Bad Site Search

You hopefully already have a site search function for your ecommerce site–but how well does it work? It should include filters and advanced functionality to help your customers find what they need. Give them options to search by category or feature. Purchasing and enabling quality software will make the search process easy and functional for your customers.

Missing Contact Information

This piece of advice is simple–don’t hide your contact information. You should provide multiple forms of communication: phone, email, chat; the best methods for your ecommerce website. The more expensive the products you’re selling, the more easily reachable you should be. Place this information prominently in your header or footer and include easy links to a contact us page.

Engaging Content: Videos, Etc.

To create a successful ecommerce site, you need to engage your buyers. That means creating exciting content for them to watch or read, including videos, infographics, case studies, and original information about your products. Your content should enhance the user experience, explain your products, and reinforce why your company is the right choice for the customer.

Poor Social Sharing Buttons

Social media is a vital aspect of ecommerce and ignoring it can be the downfall of any ecommerce site. A successful ecommerce site allows customers to share items they wish to or have purchased. Social sharing can result in additional conversions, and by making this process easy, you can increase your web presence as well.

Creating a seamless user experience for your ecommerce customers is one of the keys to your success.  Avoiding these pitfalls and focusing on ecommerce UX design will ensure your product shines and customers return to your site and recommend you to others. By following these ecommerce UX best practices, you can see increased conversions and higher revenue over time.


If you’re looking for some help with the user experience on your ecommerce site, Leverage is here to help you. We have experience working with ecommerce businesses and can tailor an approach to your company. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you.

Enhance Your Ecommerce Marketing Strategy with Leverage Learning

95% of Americans make an online purchase at least once a year, and 80% have made at least one online purchase in the past month. And, as the Washington Post recently put it, about a third of consumers now buy something online at least as often as they take out the trash (once a week). As online shopping becomes increasingly popular, it may seem like there’s never been a better time to own an ecommerce business.

However, growth-focused ecommerce businesses still face plenty of challenges, especially when it comes to attracting shoppers (who may be inclined to start their search on Amazon) and converting those shoppers into paying customers.

Build Your Ecommerce Marketing Knowledge

At Leverage Marketing, we want to help online businesses address these challenges with actionable ecommerce marketing ideas. We’ve been doing this for years with our digital marketing services, and now we’re taking what we’ve learned and sharing it in a free educational email series called Leverage Learning: Ecommerce.

The goal of Leverage Learning: Ecommerce is to help online business owners find digital marketing ideas to reach more customers and increase sales. The series is broken into 11 lessons on the following subjects:

 

content marketing for ecommerce email preview

  1. Branding
  2. Search Engine Optimization
  3. UX Web Design
  4. Content Marketing
  5. Influencer Marketing
  6. Facebook and Instagram Marketing
  7. Paid Search Advertising
  8. Email Marketing
  9. Online Customer Service
  10. Mobile Marketing
  11. Measuring Success in Google Analytics

 

When you subscribe, you’ll receive a new email lesson twice a week until you’ve received the full series. The emails offer best practices for ecommerce marketing, quick tips that business owners can implement right away, and recommendations for free or low-cost tools to streamline marketing efforts.

If you’re ready to use digital marketing to drive sales for your ecommerce business, you can subscribe to our Leverage Learning: Ecommerce series by clicking here.

SEO for ecommerce email preview

And if you enjoy this series, stay tuned: we’ll be releasing our Leverage Learning: Content Marketing series next!


As always, we’d love for you to contact us if you have any questions about our Leverage Learning series or the digital marketing services we offer!

How to Master Online Customer Service

As sales increasingly move online, it’s more vital than ever for your company to have stellar online customer service. Your web presence, including social media, online chat, and even forums, is your customers’ gateway into your brand. At Leverage Marketing, we know how necessary online customer support is, and have the online customer service tips you need for success. These brands go above and beyond when interacting with their clients, creating an accessible and fun web reputation.

Even just a decade or two ago, people would use BBB (the Better Business Bureau) and services like Angie’s List to find the best business for the job. Today, we use Facebook, Twitter, review sites like Yelp, and Google searches to find the best company. A brand with the best online customer service stands out and encourages using them time and time again.

Here are some of our tips for online customer service:

Why is Customer Service Important?

customerserviceattitude

You might be asking why customer service is important in the digital age. After all, we interact face-to-face less than ever before. Customer service is important because it can be a critical step on the way to purchase or as a way to resolve an issue with an order. First impressions are important, and you want to make sure to get it right. Well-educated customer service representatives can help potential customers problem-solve and avoid negative reactions to your company. Most importantly, online customer support provides an easy and convenient way for your customers to interact with you. It goes both ways—you learn from current and potential clients, and they can have their questions and concerns addressed.

How Should My Company Engage with Our Customers?

In today’s constantly-on environment, it’s important to have multiple avenues of customer service for your clients to engage with you. While the basics are important—phone, email, and web chat– going beyond those are essential for creating the best online customer service. Being accessible to your customers and engaging with them helps make your company feel relatable. Determine which social media networks are useful for communicating your brand message, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and even Pinterest. Twitter and Facebook are most commonly used for complaints (and positive reviews), so responding to customer comments can be a key part of your engagement strategy.

Social media is a key part of developing your brand voice: you can decide to be snarky, always positive, or have a specific sense of humor. Wendy’s Twitter account has been making waves with their hilarious and often mean @replies, which can work for some brands, but not for all. Developing your brand identity through social media is key because it’s often your customers’ first look into your product or service. Help make potential clients feel comfortable engaging by responding to comments, using emojis and GIFs to create a casual atmosphere.

Companies Known for Great Customer Service

Here at Leverage, we know about the best online customer service. We work with companies every day that utilize our online customer support tips to help their clients and develop better relationships with their customer base.  These are some outstanding examples of companies with great customer service:

jetblue customer service

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JetBlue- While it’s certainly not the largest U.S. airline, JetBlue knows how to engage with its customers. Their customer service team realizes the importance of interacting not only with satisfied flyers but also with those who had bad experiences. They’re extremely active on Twitter, responding to @mentions as well as brand mentions. JetBlue’s commitment to customers is evident in its Customer Bill of Rights: “JetBlue Airways is dedicated to bringing humanity back to air travel. We strive to make every part of your experience a

s simple and as pleasant as possible.” With many forms of support, including phone, email, an online knowledge base, text updates, and a smartphone app, JetBlue has customer service covered. From in-person to online customer service, JetBlue takes care of its customers, leading to people using the airline again and again.

Zappos- Although Amazon now owns them, Zappos disrupted an industry (shoes) and has some of the best online customer service out there. They offer fast, free shipping and free returns for a year. Zappos puts their customers first—their company motto is that they’re a “service company that happens to sell shoes. And handbags. And more….” This attitude has helped Zappos succeed in a big way. The company puts its representatives through its School of WOW to inspire its leaders and teach them the best customer service philosophy. Most importantly, for an all-online company, Zappos puts its customers first. Whether a customer calls in, chats, or uses social media, Zappos is right there to help them whatever their concern.

How Can My Company Master Online Customer Support?

To become a company known for great customer service, you need to start with a customer-first philosophy. Leverage Marketing offers web design services and social media management services that support your customer service efforts. Contact us today to develop a strategy and get the tips you need for success.

Does B2B Influencer Marketing Make Sense?

Influencer marketing—the practice of partnering with influential individuals to communicate a brand message—is hardly a new concept for B2C companies. In fact, back in the 1760s, the pottery company founder Josiah Wedgwood was using endorsements from painters, architects, and even royalty to promote his products. There’s centuries’ worth of evidence that influencer marketing can be an effective tool for B2C brands, but what about B2B companies?

If you own a B2B company, you might be under the impression that because you’re targeting a narrower audience than your B2C peers, influencer marketing just isn’t worth it. However, B2B influencer marketing can be incredibly effective, as long as you’re working with the niche B2B influencers that your target buyers follow.

How Influencer Marketing Can Benefit B2B Brands

B2B influencer marketing example from American Express

Collaborating with niche influencers—including industry analysts, conference speakers, and other thought leaders—can help you:

Humanize Your Brand

While you may be selling your products or services to businesses, it’s important to remember that it’s still people who are doing the buying. And those people aren’t likely to connect with your brand if you hide behind dry industry jargon and generic lists of product features. B2B influencers give your brand a human face and inject personality into your message, helping you appeal to your target audience and stand out from competitors.

Capture the Attention of Difficult-to-Reach Leads

One of the biggest challenges in B2B marketing is capturing high-quality leads at the right time. Industry influencers who align with your brand can reach a highly-targeted audience at different stages of the buyer’s journey, and with the right message, they can nudge those audience members towards your business.

Build Trust

When you invest in influencer marketing for B2B, you’re making an investment in your brand’s reputation. B2B influencers have dedicated a lot of time and effort to build trust with their audience, and when they make a recommendation, their audience listens. If you find an influencer who believes in your product or services, you’ll earn the trust of their followers.

3 Standout B2B Influencer Marketing Examples

Hopefully, you’re starting to see how powerful B2B influencer marketing can be. If you’re still unconvinced, check out these examples of B2B influencer marketing campaigns that had a major impact:

GE’s Instagram Series Takes Flight

General Electric was ahead of the curb with B2B influencer marketing: way back in 2013, they invited six influential Instagram photographers to tour and document their newest aviation facility. The company also shared an Instagram post inviting six aviation fans to join them on the tour by posting a sentence about why they were the biggest GE #avgeek. In less than 24 hours, the post got over 1,000 likes and over 130 comments.

Since this initial campaign, GE has launched their #GEInstaWalk series on Instagram. They now regularly invite some of Instagram’s best photographers and biggest tech aficionados to tour and take pictures of their cutting-edge facilities.

American Express Shares Design Tips with SMBs

American Express wants to appeal to small business owners, and one way they do this is by teaming up with experts who can address the pain points small business owners often experience. As part of their Love My Store campaign, they partnered with HGTV Design Star winner Emily Henderson to make a series of videos about in-store design. In the videos, Henderson visited different stores and offered the owners advice on using design and signage to attract more customers. American Express also invited small business owners to post photos of their storefront with the hashtag #LoveMyStoreAmexContest for a chance to win a one-on-one consultation with Henderson.

SAP Captures an Online Audience with Influencer Interviews

SAP, an enterprise software company, decided to use B2B influencer marketing to get more mileage out of Sapphire, their annual user conference. The company identified authors, academics, and independent business consultants who could speak on topics that appealed to SAP product users, and then invited those influencers to participate in interviews at the Sapphire conference. SAP used Facebook Live to broadcast these interviews, extending their conference content to over 80,000 people who didn’t attend. In addition to sharing their videos on Facebook, they also leveraged the interviews to create blog content.

Ways Your Company Can Use Influencer Marketing

 

expert roundup influencer marketing example

Example of expert roundup blog post from American Webmasters Association

It’s not just big brands like American Express and GE that can benefit from using B2B influencer marketing. Here are a few ways B2B companies of any size can start working with niche influencers:

  • Collaborate on a whitepaper. You could ask an influencer to co-author a whitepaper or eBook, but if the influencer you want to work with doesn’t have the time for such an extensive project, they could simply contribute several “Expert Tips.”
  • Write an “expert round-up” blog post. These blog posts often pose one question (e.g. How has social media marketing changed your business?) and collect responses from several industry insiders. If you curate this type of piece, ask the experts who contribute to help extend the post’s reach by sharing it with their social networks.
  • Invite an influencer to co-host a webinar. Attract more participants to your next webinar by inviting an influencer your audience respects to co-host. Not only will working with an influencer boost your authority, it will also add an interesting perspective to the webinar that you might not have gotten otherwise.
  • Write a guest post for an influencer’s blog (or vice versa). In some cases, an influencer might be willing to write a guest post for your blog in exchange for you contributing a post to theirs.
  • Conduct an interview with an industry expert. You could conduct the interview over the phone or email if the expert is remote, but if they’re in the same city, see if you can do a video interview. This will give you visually appealing content to share on your site and social media.

Remember, there are many different ways you can work with B2B influencers, but none of these strategies will be fully effective if the influencer’s message doesn’t align with your brand. Do your research: instead of just chasing the influencers with the most fans or followers, look for micro-influencers who resonate with your target audience.

How to Use Instagram to Promote Your Brand

There’s no question that Instagram has become a juggernaut in the social media landscape. Since Facebook acquired the platform for almost $1 billion in 2012, Instagram has surged in popularity, skyrocketing in daily active users and monetizing itself through branded hashtags, integrated ads, and more. Using Instagram as a marketing tool can enhance your brand’s success, connect you with your fans, and bolster your online presence.

Why Instagram?

You may be asking, “Why use Instagram?” If your company or brand is already successful on Facebook or other social media channels, utilizing Instagram may seem redundant or unnecessary. But marketing on Instagram allows you to interact with an age group younger than Facebook and other platforms and provides a personalized experience for your audience. Marketing with Instagram can give your followers and fans a behind-the-scenes look at your business or brand, providing them with easy opportunities to engage.

However, only 36% of online marketers use Instagram, compared to 93% of whom who use Facebook. While Instagram isn’t right for every brand, it’s worth looking into whether using Instagram as a marketing tool could be beneficial for your business.

instagram marketing stats

It only takes a quick look at Instagram’s demographics to see why the service could be essential to your business. Over 25% of Internet users were using the platform in 2015, with over 50% using it in the key demographic of 18-29-year-old people. Instagram users engage with the platform in a way other social media platforms dream about—with 4.2 billion likes on posts daily, as well 95 million photos and videos shared daily. When you use Instagram for brand marketing, you can achieve engagement rates much higher than Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.

While more women than men use Instagram, people of all genders like, share, and post on Instagram—from taking food photos to live videos. Marketing on Instagram means communicating with your followers and understanding what they want. By setting specific goals for your Instagram marketing, such as increasing follower count, improving your images and videos, or deriving additional revenue, you can leverage Instagram for success.

How Can I Succeed on Instagram?

instagram marketing

Using Instagram for marketing effectively requires using the tools available. With the right tools for success, your brand or company can leverage Instagram to increase sales, visibility, and your connection with customers. Here are some of the most crucial elements:

  • Consistency and Frequency- Publish often, but not too often. The rate will depend on your brand, but it may be daily, or even 2-3 times a day. Whatever frequency leads to optimal engagement is what you should aim for—and stick to that. Being consistent with your posting will help establish credibility and allow you to keep to a schedule.
  • Understanding Your Audience/Followers– Know who follows you. You want to develop the right content, be it Instagram Stories, photos, or videos, that appeals to your audience and shows that you get Specificity may require building out buyer personas for Instagram to understand better who your followers are and could be in the future.
  • A Strong Vision and Strategy- Develop a plan for how you want your company Instagram to feel. There should be a distinct vision for your posts—a clear goal for what you’re communicating to your followers, which can be aided by…
  • A Clear Visual Style- Everything from a consistent font to a color palette to filters used for your colors should be defined for your Instagram. Create a simple visual style guide for company images to help yourself and anyone else who manages the account—perhaps go through this process with an in-house graphic designer or consultant.

By using these tools, you’ll be on the right path to success with Instagram. Other useful tools include Instagram scheduling apps, repurposing content from other platforms, and utilizing contests and giveaways to engender additional interaction with your followers.

What Kind of Content Should I Post on Instagram?

So now that you understand why you should use Instagram and how you can succeed on the platform, you might be wondering, “What kind of content I should post?” The easy answer, especially for B2C companies, is to post photos of their product, but that simply won’t get the level of engagement you want. Instagram is all about engagement, so here are some techniques for driving followers to interact with your brand:

  • Behind-the-Scenes Content- Use videos or sets of photos to show your fans what it’s like at your company. Whether your business is B2B or B2C, this helps create trust with customers and can be a fun way to provide an inside look into how your business operates. Like Snapchat, Instagram videos don’t require professional polish—they should look clean but don’t need extensive editing.
  • User-Generated Content and Customer Stories– Utilizing content produced by people who love your product or company—who are as passionate about your brand as you are—can resonate with your audience. Use Instagram to ask for user-generated content, offering a reward in the form of a gift card or another prize.
  • Hashtag Strategy- Develop a hashtag strategy for your content. Use relevant and related hashtags to your company and content for your posts to connect with other Instagram accounts and gain followers. Using Instagram hashtags may seem complicated, but it doesn’t have to be.
  • Be Fun, Light-Hearted, and Educational- Instagram is an exciting platform—there are so many ways to produce and edit content and reach your audience. Experimenting with different media and techniques with A/B testing and educating your followers about your brand will lead you to the right content to produce.

Marketing on Instagram for Your Brand

No matter what type of company you have, Instagram is a viable candidate for marketing today. Companies as diverse as Nike and Ben & Jerry’s have active Instagram presences, utilizing photos and videos to increase their brand visibility and connect with customers. By following Leverage’s Instagram marketing tips, you can develop a strategy for including it in your social media marketing.


Let the social media experts at Leverage help you get started marketing on Instagram today. Contact us to learn about our social media marketing services and what we can do for your company

How to Use Social Media for Ecommerce

For ecommerce businesses, social media is going to become and may already be one of the most formidable arenas for advertising to potential customers. If you’re an ecommerce business owner, you can take advantage of the reach of social media to find potential customers at any part of the sales funnel.

hands holding purple box toward customer for marketing on social mediaUse of social media as an advertising tool for ecommerce businesses is sneaking up on social network addicts as well as the businesses and marketers that advertise to them. The birth and rapid expansion of influencer marketing has also pushed shoppers to start their buyer’s journey on popular social websites like Instagram and Facebook.

In those same places, advertisers are dropping chunks of their advertising budgets on videos that demand viewer attention and get them interested in products about which they didn’t know. Ecommerce sites may still be able to generate significant revenue without social media presence, but they will be missing out on an enormous audience of potential buyers – an audience that their competition may already be targeting.

Not convinced? These facts and statistics about social media for ecommerce businesses may change your mind:

how to use social media for ecommerce facts and statistics infographic

 

Get into Social Media for Your Ecommerce Business Now

Building a social media presence doesn’t happen overnight. You can use social media as one of your main advertising channels for your products, but you have to build an audience first, and if you want to make money, it better be a large audience.

Plus, you’ll need to figure out where your branding fits into your social media persona. Grab your accounts now, and if you already have them, start posting as soon as possible with product descriptions, special offers, and quick graphics and advertisements.

Information and data provided in this article and in the attached infographic were assembled and revised from articles provided by experts at the following websites:

Entrepreneur
Statista
TechCrunch
The Telegraph


 

Your friendly Leverage Marketing team is already hard at work creating social media opportunities for ecommerce businesses. We know how to push product announcements, bring in customers for awesome sales, and find new audiences for your products. Talk to one of us today to learn more, and don’t forget to join our newsletter for invaluable marketing know-how you won’t find anywhere else!

How to Use Snapchat in Content Marketing

Since its initial release in 2011, Snapchat has exploded in growth, becoming the leading image messaging app, known for its disappearing pictures and fun filters. In 2017, Snapchat has 8 billion daily views, reaches 11% of the US digital population, and is worth more than $16 billion. It’s hard to ignore Snapchat for content marketing—it’s an important platform that reaches younger users in substantial numbers. The average Snapchat user spends 30 minutes daily in the application—time that advertisers can use to market to them.

But Snapchat digital marketing isn’t the same as marketing through Facebook or Instagram. Snapchat requires a more personal style—even from branded accounts. Creating connections on Snapchat may mean engaging with individual Snapchat users by directly sharing photos with them. Large branded campaigns are harder on Snapchat. Smaller accounts can’t do traditional ad spending on Snapchat, as the minimum ad spend for CPM (cost per thousand impressions) is $40,000 a month.

However, with Snapchat’s incredibly large user base, a talented advertiser can use Snapchat for marketing to create stories that engage their customers and create a loyal following. We’ll walk you through successful Snapchat marketing campaigns and tips to build your Snapchat account. Count on Leverage to grow your Snapchat prowess.

snapchat marketing phone

How to Improve Your Snapchat Marketing Skills

Snapchat can be a challenge for many marketers attempting to first break into the platform, because it’s markedly different from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or Pinterest. It’s more of an authentic experience, as users (and brands) don’t polish their images or videos the same way they would on other forms of social media. Snapchat is ephemeral, and the content produced for it is therefore not as professional. Users want to find something that feels genuine, a behind-the-scenes look at your company, not a heavily-edited marketing video.

One of the most important things to note about Snapchat is its demographics—more than 60% of its users are in the 13-34 age group, with 37% between 8-24, and 71% between under age 25. Only 2% of those using Snapchat are 55 and older. It’s a young audience—and your best practices and ideas for use should reflect that.

Snapchat Marketing Best Practices—and How to Use It

If you’re embarking on Snapchat marketing for your business, there are some best practices you should take advantage of when creating a campaign:

  • Create Urgency – Snapchat is all about ephemera, images, and videos that only last a certain amount of time. Creating an ad campaign, whether it’s a Snapchat story (a series of videos or images) or just a single video or image that evokes urgency will help in getting your message across.
  • Test Your Content in Private Messages– It’s imperative that you test your Snapchat content before sending it out to hundreds or thousands of followers—create a dummy Snapchat account or connect with a co-worker to gain feedback and see if your campaign works well on various platforms (iOS, Android, etc.)
  • Fit Your Content to the Platform– When developing content for Snapchat, it’s important to remember you can’t just use images you’ve created for Instagram or Facebook. As mentioned previously, Snapchat requires a personalized touch—address your audience like you’re talking to a friend and develop a persona for your Snapchat account and brand.
  • Use Both Images and Video– It’s important to use all forms of available media for Snapchat. With Snapchat Stories, you can combine both pictures and video using available filters and lenses to create a story your followers will love.
  • Tell Your Story­- Your brand or company has a story. Use your Snapchat account to tell your fans a personalized story about what you’re marketing. You can use custom images and still photographs, as well as candid video to tell your company’s story. Polished and perfect won’t work for Snapchat, so develop something that feels core to the brand.

Market to Your Audience

snapchat marketing billboard

With all these best practices, you still need to sell your product to the audience. For advertising to the younger Snapchat demographic, try some of these ideas to convert your followers:

  • Coupon Codes: Limited time coupon codes (ephemera) that expire after a brief time
  • Influencer Marketing: Snapchat celebrities or popular accounts can cross-promote your product
  • Anticipation for an Event: Use a popular event, like the Oscars or Super Bowl, to build hype for your company or product—tying it in with a promotion or offer

Snapchat Campaigns that We Love

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Since Snapchat is a relatively new platform, it can be harder to find successful Snapchat marketing efforts. Nevertheless, here are a few of our favorite Snapchat marketing campaigns:

  • WWF (World Wildlife Fund) used Snapchat to raise awareness about endangered species through its #LastSelfie campaign. This selfie hashtag campaign symbolized the diminished population of many animals in Turkey and Denmark and played on people’s emotions for success. It used Snapchat’s ephemeral format to demonstrate how the animals, without intervention, could be the last of their species on Earth.
  • GrubHub took advantage of Snapchat to find summer interns, using the medium to share the job posting. By considering the average age of Snapchat users, GrubHub took advantage of the platform’s uniqueness. The job posting required “Snapchat Skillz” and included an application link within the Snap itself.
  • Audi partnered with Snapchat and The Onion, a satirical online newspaper, to drive up its Snapchat following during the Super Bowl. Audi gained over 6000 new Snapchat followers, posted dozens of images not necessarily related to their cars, and was talked about throughout the Super Bowl and for days afterward. By using of-the-moment memes and millennial jokes, Audi reached out to the target Snapchat population.

Snapchat as Your Marketing Partner

Snapchat is certainly not a traditional advertising platform: it doesn’t offer CPM for smaller marketers, its demographic is far younger than average, and it traffics in ephemera. However, if you play to Snapchat’s strengths, using less expensive targeted geo-filters, target the younger demographic, and follow the best practices, you can succeed on Snapchat. Remember, Snapchat is a useful social media platform only for some target audience. If your buyer personas are all older millennials, Gen X’ers, or baby boomers, Snapchat may not be the right choice for you. Leverage Marketing can help you decide whether Snapchat can pay off for your company.


Leverage Marketing’s marketing team has the experience with Snapchat you need. Our social media gurus know everything there is to know about Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest—all the platforms you need for your business. Contact us today to learn more about our social media services.

4 Wedding Industry Insiders Share Their Digital Marketing Strategies

As someone who recently got engaged, I’ve realized there’s a lot I have to learn about wedding planning. And as a content marketer, I’ve noticed that wedding businesses are great at reaching me while I’m doing research online. From sponsored posts about wedding day survival kits on Facebook to the promoted wedding dress Pins I keep seeing on Pinterest, brands are everywhere.

To get a better understanding of how wedding businesses are capitalizing on digital marketing, I reached out to the following four wedding industry professionals:

  • Kaleigh Wiese, founder of MéldeenWiese founded luxury stationary company Méldeen in 2009. Méldeen creates custom save-the-dates, wedding invitations, ceremony programs, thank you cards, and more. In 2016, Wiese introduced PIXEL by Méldeen, a custom Snapchat filter design service.
  • Stephanie Padovani, co-founder of Book More BridesPadovani and her husband, Jeff, started Book More Brides as a part-time project that played to their shared interest in marketing. Their consulting business, which helps wedding entrepreneurs increase leads and revenue, now grosses over six figures a year.
  • Ariel Meadow Stallings, founder of Offbeat BrideStallings launched her Offbeat Bride site in 2007 to promote her book about nontraditional weddings. The website gained popularity thanks to its focus on inclusivity and empowerment and now averages more than 1 million visits per month.
  • Jennifer Stein, co-founder and Editor in Chief of Destination I DoStein was inspired to help start Destination I Do in 2004 when she was planning her own destination wedding and realized there weren’t any magazines covering the subject. Destination I Do is now an international magazine with digital components, including a blog and online planning tools.

Méldeen: Using Analytics to Reach Wedding Planners

For Kaleigh Wiese, success in digital marketing is all about focusing on the right audience. Because of Méldeen’s price points and minimums, Wiese has found that wedding planners are her best customers (although she gets some direct inquiries from engaged couples, too).  Wiese has a few major strategies for getting Méldeen in front of wedding planners:

  1. Research the keywords and hashtags wedding planners use when searching for inspiration.

  2. Explore relevant search terms that are getting more volume (e.g. foil, letterpress). Capitalize on those concepts in Pinterest content before they reach peak popularity (and saturation). Use Promoted Pins for high-value, relevant content.

  3. Use Google Analytics to identify where the most traffic is coming from and focus paid campaigns on those geographic locations.

Bonus Tip: Wiese also pointed out that digital marketing strategies can help with networking—something that’s especially important for a wedding business that works with other wedding professionals. When using Instagram, Wiese says that she always tries “to tag all vendors involved in the day-of event.” It’s something that not a lot of wedding vendors think to do, but tagging one another on social media helps to build network connections and leverage credibility with potential customers.

Book More Brides: Capturing Leads with Hot-Button Content

Stephanie Padovani isn’t afraid to speak her mind when it comes to writing content for Book More Brides. She shared the following recipe for attracting clients (in her case, wedding professionals):

  1. Identify a controversial topic your target clients get really worked up about.

  2. Write an article that proves the arguments for your prospects and makes them look good.

  3. Promote the article to your target audience and encourage sharing and republishing.

Padovani explained to me how she did this with one of her blog posts: 10 Things Couples Need to Know About the Wedding Industry That the Media Will Never Tell You. She wrote this post in response to common headlines that talk about “wedding markups” and “getting taken advantage of” when planning a wedding. In her article, she explains why those accusations are mostly false and how much behind-the-scenes work goes into being a wedding professional.

In addition to publishing the post on the Book More Brides blog, Padovani shared it with her email list and social media audience, encouraging readers to republish it and spread the word. In a few days, the post had received 3,000 page views and over 3,500 Facebook engagements and Tweets. To date, the post has received over 24,000 unique page views.

After getting the ideal audience to the site, Padovani recommends using multiple opt-in offers to generate leads. For example, the Book More Brides blog prominently displays an email template that visitors can download after they submit their email address.

Offbeat Bride: Listening to the Online Community

Ariel Meadow Stallings launched the Offbeat Bride website in 2007 as a way to promote her book (Offbeat Bride: Creative Alternatives for Independent Brides), and since then the site has become an active online community and collaborative blog with well over a million readers per month. As the site has grown, the Offbeat Bride brand has evolved to reach a wider audience. In an interview on her site, Ariel said:

“My initial target readership was super weird people planning super weird weddings…It became clear within a year that the majority of my readership was not actually all that weird, nor were they especially tech-savvy. The majority were brides planning what initially appeared to be relatively traditional weddings, looking for creative and unique ideas to make the weddings feel personal.”

Stallings often gets ideas for content that will resonate with her audience by going straight to that community of readers. Until 2015, Offbeat Bride had a private online forum with members who were “super vocal, super engaged, and highly invested.” Stallings sometimes sourced content directly from forum members and followed discussions to get an idea of what issues were most popular with her readership. While the forum is no longer online, Stallings now uses native insights from Facebook and Instagram to listen to the Offbeat Bride community. When she and her staff develop content, the focus generally remains on material “that’s positive but also provocative, relevant to consumers as well as industry readers.”

Destination I Do: Adapting to Changing Landscapes

Destination I Do began as both a print and online magazine, and while the publication still includes both traditional print and online components, its marketing strategy has evolved to meet the needs of today’s readers. Co-founder Jennifer Stein told me that because so many engaged couples rely on online and mobile content when planning their weddings, Destination I Do has invested in increasing visibility and providing a great user experience. Stein noted:

“We invest marketing dollars in Instagram to generate a genuine engagement with our readers as well as leveraging idea inspiration platforms such as Pinterest. We also put our budget in areas like Facebook, Google AdWords, and SEO [strategies] to drive traffic directly to our site. Data is only one piece of the puzzle. Our goal isn’t just to get unique visitors on our site to bring product awareness, it’s to engage with our readers so that they can experience a helpful conversation with us.”

Stein and the rest of the team at Destination I Do are most interested in targeting a niche audience of engaged couples who are planning a destination wedding and honeymoon. Stein said that because a destination wedding is such a big moment (and one that requires a lot of planning), “we do our best to provide partner products, inspiration, and content that will help [couples] with that process and, in the end, make it fun and stress-free.”

Takeaways for the Wedding Industry

Although the four wedding professionals I spoke to are all targeting different audiences, I noticed a few similar strategies:

  • Pay attention to what your target audience is talking about in wedding forums, blog comment sections, and social media posts. This will help you develop content that effectively engages that audience.
  • Use Google Analytics (and other data collection tools) to get a better understanding of your site visitors’ behavior and interests. You may find that your site is appealing to different segments than you originally thought.
  • While search engine optimization is important, it’s equally important to optimize your wedding business website for your visitors. Provide the inspiration and information that will be most useful to your audience, whether they’re planning their wedding or assisting with the planning for someone else.

Are you a wedding business owner with an online presence? Let us know what digital marketing strategies have worked for you in the comments. And if you have any questions about how you can increase your traffic and conversions, don’t hesitate to contact Leverage Marketing directly.

40 Questions To Ask Before Hiring a Digital Marketing Agency

Maybe you’re planning to hire a marketing agency for the first time. Maybe you’ve been burned by a black hat SEO agency and have sworn you’ll be more particular about the next marketing partner you choose. Whatever the case, you know that when hiring a digital marketing agency, you need to do your research and ask all the right questions.

Not sure if you’re covering enough ground with your current list of questions? We can help with that. We’ve come up with a list of 40 questions to ask before hiring a digital marketing agency. Many of them are questions that our clients have asked us—or that we wish would come up more often!

No time to read the list right now? Save it for later:

40 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Digital Marketing Agency

Jump to a section:

SEO

  1. How will you improve our search engine rankings? Get the agency to talk about their process. Watch out for agencies that use black hat techniques (such as buying low-quality links) or promise that they can get your page to rank number one for certain keywords.
  2. What’s your process for earning high-quality links? Does the agency have a database of relevant placement opportunities and a process for reaching out to bloggers?
  3. Do you follow Google Webmaster Guidelines? Your agency should always follow the Webmaster Guidelines to help Google find, index, and rank your site. Following these guidelines will also help your site avoid penalties.
  4. Have you ever helped a site recover from a penalty? Can you tell me about that process? Hopefully, the agency hasn’t gotten any of their clients penalized, but they may have had new clients come to them needing help recovering from a Google algorithm penalty.
  5. How long will it take to see results? The agency won’t be able to give you an exact date, but effective SEO campaigns should start positively affecting your site in about three to six months.
  6. What will I need to do to make the campaign successful? Find out what information you can give the agency to make your SEO campaigns as successful as possible.

Content Marketing

  1. Can you show us some writing samples? Any agency that offers content marketing services should be able to show you examples of their writers’ best work.
  2. How will your writers familiarize themselves with our business and industry? You need to know your agency can handle the amount of research needed to produce authoritative content for your business.
  3. How do you optimize your content for readers and search engines? Learn about the content team’s process for connecting with your target audience. Find out how closely they work with the SEO team and whether they optimize their content for relevant keywords.
  4. What types of content do you produce? Find out if the agency has experience producing not just website copy and blog posts but also infographics, video scripts, short animations, email campaigns, eBooks, and more.
  5. How many internal and external content pieces will you create per month? If your goal is to stay top-of-mind with your audience by publishing a new blog post every day, you’ll need to make sure your agency has enough bandwidth.
  6. Will you be publishing new content on our site? Find out if the agency can add images, format content to appeal to online readers, and publish the final product to your site. If the agency doesn’t handle publication, you’ll have to assign an in-house team member to stay on top of it.
  7. What metrics will you report on? The agency should go beyond just vanity metrics (traffic, social shares, number of comments) and measure how their content assists in conversions.

Paid Search

  1. Do you have a Google Partner Badge? If your agency has a Google Partner Badge, it means they have employees who are certified in Google AdWords, have access to their own Google Agency Team, and keep up with the latest AdWords innovations.
  2. Do you offer services across multiple PPC platforms (not just AdWords)? While Google is the most widely used search platform, it may be worthwhile to find out if your PPC agency also uses Bing Ads (especially since Bing has a 22% share of desktop search traffic).
  3. What tools do you use to optimize your paid search campaigns? The agency you’re interviewing might use paid search tools that would be too expensive for you to bring in-house. They may also have proprietary tools that you can’t get anywhere else.
  4. Will we be able to see actual spend within AdWords? Your agency should be transparent about how they’re spending your ad dollars.
  5. What metrics are included in your standard reports? CPC, CTR, ad positions, conversion rate of keywords and landing pages—your agency should deliver easy-to-read reports that make it clear how your paid search campaigns have been performing.
  6. Do you have experience managing paid campaigns on Facebook and LinkedIn? As organic reach on Facebook and LinkedIn decreases, it’s becoming more valuable to hire a marketing agency with experience in paid social media.

Social Media

  1. What social channels should my company be on? Chances are, you don’t need to be on every social media network in existence. Your agency should be able to recommend the channels that are most relevant to you based on your audience and business goals.
  2. What is your process for community management across platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.)? A good social media team should be prepared to respond to comments and facilitate conversations on all your social channels—and to look for ways to connect with customers across those channels.
  3. How will you ensure our social media presence reflects our brand? Your agency should be thinking of social media strategies that are consistent with your brand rather than just resorting to tactics they’ve used for other clients.
  4. What is your content development strategy? Find out how closely your agency’s social media and content marketing teams work together when it comes to producing social content.
  5. How do you measure ROI on social media efforts? Your agency should be able to describe how they’ll track campaigns and measure the results in relation to your goals (e.g. conversions, revenue, customer acquisition).

Web Design

  1. Can you show us some of the websites you’ve designed? Although your website obviously won’t look exactly like the others your agency has designed, it’s good to get a sense of their aesthetic before you commit.
  2. Do you custom-design websites or use templates? If you have a limited budget and your website isn’t a major source of sales, a template site might be enough. However, if you need a unique site that will generate leads or sales, you should talk to agencies that offer custom design services.
  3. How much input will I have in the design? Find out if you’ll be able to see the website and provide input as it’s being created. You should also find out what the agency’s process will be if you don’t like the initial design.
  4. Will you use responsive design? Any good web design agency knows that websites need to look good on all screen sizes, from smartphones to desktop monitors.
  5. Will my website be able to scale as my business grows? Your agency should design your website so that more products, services, navigation options, and other features can be added as needed without a complete site redesign.
  6. Do you offer ecommerce services? If you have an ecommerce business, you’ll want to work with an agency that can handle shopping carts, support for multiple currencies, updating prices to reflect discounts, and more.
  7. Do you offer ongoing maintenance once the site goes live? Will the agency be able to handle troubleshooting post-launch, or will you have to find another vendor to maintain your website?
  8. What role does SEO play in your site design? Will your web design agency also be able to produce keyword-optimized content, add title and meta tags, implement a crawlable link structure, and use other strategies to make your site SEO-friendly from the start?
  9. Do you set up Analytics tracking when designing a new site? It’s important to get Google Analytics tracking set up with your new site so that you can begin viewing behavior and performance metrics.
  10. What kind of security features do you offer? It’s a good idea to make sure your agency can set up a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate to establish a secure connection for traffic between the web browser and server.

General

  1. How will you help me stand out from my competition? Your agency needs to understand your target audience and what you can deliver to your audience that your competitors can’t.
  2. How will you improve my site’s conversion rate? The agencies you interview may talk about how they can improve your visibility and increase traffic to your site, but they ultimately need to increase conversions/sales to make your investment pay off.
  3. What experience do you have working with businesses in my industry? It’s nice to know if your agency has experience with other businesses in your industry, but it’s not necessarily a deal-breaker if they don’t. You could also ask: What steps will you take to become an expert on my business and industry?
  4. How will we communicate? Find out who you’ll be working with on a regular basis and how often you can expect to talk with them.
  5. How will you report on our progress month-over-month? Will the agency deliver an easy-to-read report and summary every month? Will they walk you through the report in a monthly meeting?
  6. How do your different marketing efforts fit together? Ideally, you’ll find a digital agency that sees all its departments as working together towards big-picture goals, rather than existing in separate silos.

We hope these questions will help you in hiring a digital marketing agency. And don’t forget: Leverage offers all the services described above. Contact us to learn more, and subscribe to our biweekly newsletter to have helpful marketing advice delivered to your inbox.

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