Facebook Icon On Fire

How Facebook Boosted My Newsletter Subscribers

Email or FacebookFacebook hasn’t replaced any newsletter (at least not yet but you never know what Facebook’ll do next). What Facebook has done is equal the amount of traffic driven to our website from our weekly newsletter.  And helped us to recruit new opted-in newsletter subscribers.

Better yet – it’s all free.

Key things to note: Our weekly newsletter has over 4,500 subscribers. Our Facebook page had just 400 (over the course of this experiment we increased this to 550).  Wow – that’s ten times fewer subscribers but they’re visiting and re-visiting the website.

Everyone knows the theory of email newsletters – their open and clickthrough rates so I won’t waste time here. We’re going to tell you how you can drive more traffic to your website from Facebook.  Then invite visitors to join the newsletter.

What we were doing

We posted 3 times a day on Facebook, for Facebook – all of which was shared from other users and pages on Facebook. These posts were backed up by regular blog post entries (one every day) which were automatically fed to our Timeline. Very standard.

So what did we change?

There were 3 major changes.

  1. The first was to do with posting amounts and timing. We increased the frequency of posting and changed what time of day we posted Facebook updates. This was increased to 5-6 times a day (effectively doubling our previous posting frequency).
  2. The second major change is where we post from. We changed all sources of our posts to our website and then linked to them.
  3. Our third major change was where we sourced our content from. It’s important to note here we hardly ever created original content – we either shared others or repurposed our archived content.

To facilitate changing the source of our posts to our website we installed new plugins. People will spend less time on our Facebook page because we are directing them to our website. As a result, many of the plugins we installed were to make sure our content is still shared (which often doesn’t happen once you leave a social media site). As we knew many of our visitors would also be arriving from a mobile device (Facebook’s App is becoming more widely used) we paid particular attention to how our site looks on mobile devices.

Step 1: Smarter Posting Times

Our audience is active at all times of the day. We were initially posting 3 times daily between 9am and 5pm – Not the smartest move when you look at the graph below of our visitor traffic over 24 hours.

When Fans Are Online

Click To Enlarge

For this reason – we opted to post every 4-5 hours. Remember – we don’t want this to take up all our time and we definitely don’t want to be up all night so we chose to schedule our Facebook posts. To enable auto-posting of blog at all times of day we installed new plugins which I’ll discuss below.

Step 2: Make The Website The Destination

We want to drive traffic off Facebook to our website.  This is marketing real estate that we control and manage.  We’re not dependent on Facebook’s grace.  Making most of your posts direct to your website is therefore logical.  And remember our objective is to drive readers from Facebook to becoming opted-in newsletter subscribers.

This of course means publishing content designed for Facebook on your website. Whether you’re sharing an article or a photo, upload it to your site (add a link on the post to credit the photograph if appropriate).  Don’t just link them straight to the original source, ideally you’re seen as the source of the content so they spend longer on your site and less elsewhere.

With our new plugins – photos are uploaded from our website to Facebook automatically. When a user clicks on a photo expecting it to enlarge they are instead redirected to our website (where there is a larger image front and centre). Bingo – we’ve just driven traffic from Facebook to our site. From here you have 2 challenges –

  1. How can they share this with their friends?
  2. What’s going to keep them from leaving your site?

The first challenge is easily answered – plugins which I will discuss later on. The second is to have an attractive website littered with quality content – this is discussed just below.

Step 3: Sourcing Quality, “Original” Content

To ensure our content is appealing, we need it to be socially shareable. While there are no guarantees, using already proven socially shareable content is a start. But you don’t want to appear a copycat. So how do you get proven socially shareable material while still looking “fresh” and “original”? The easiest strategy is to find content from sources other than Facebook. Pinterest was a great resource for me as pictures make the best Facebook posts and most photos came with a short description or piece of information – perfect.

Setting Up Your Website: Plugins Used

Below is a list of the plugins you’ll want to install if you’re on WordPress. I’ve described the types of plugins you want before stating what plugin we used. These plugins are all free and you may have your own preference.

  1. New Automatic Posting To Social Media (Facebook/Twitter).

    • NextScripts: Social Networks Auto-Poster [Hands down the best autoposter plugin. Fully customisable, plenty of social media options and looks like the posts were shared straight from Facebook. 2 great features of this plugin are that you can choose individual posts to be image posts or linked posts etc & Imports Facebook comments so your website appears popular]

  2. A more simple “Like Us” button further up the News main page.

    • Facebook Social Plugin Widgets (This plugin installs widgets to be used wherever – we used them in the sidebar of our blog page [note page and not post])

  3. When someone enters our site (for the first time) a like us on Facebook plugin pops up [This doesn’t interfere with our pre-existing Newsletter signup popup].

  4. Horizontal social sharing toolbar along the top is non intrusive and doesn’t cover any text unlike many vertical floating ones.

  5. Sharing of individual pictures on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest by simply hovering your mouse over the picture.

  6. Floating Sharebar down that follows the user down the side of the post. It allows sharing to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc

    • Digg Digg (Leave a comment if you’d like my custom CSS code so the spacings etc look nice and clean with no borders or ads)

  7. Mobile Plugin so website looks good on every device

 

Results?

Results of Our 1st Change

So what were the results of our changes? The graph below reveals all. With a simple change in the frequency and timing of posts our weekly reach exploded. This is most likely due to reaching more individuals as opposed to reaching the same people multiple times.

Click To Enlarge

Click To Enlarge

 

Results of Our 2nd Change

The screenshot below is of our website’s referrals for the 2 week period before and during our Facebook efforts. As you can see, vast improvements. We basically received 1000 extra page views each week (remember, at the time we only had 400 people liking our page). I’ve highlighted the Twitter referrals as well (t.co) as although we designed this campaign for Facebook – using the NextScript Autoposter plugin we also published the same content to Twitter (although we changed the structure of the titles and links etc from within the plugin’s settings). You’ll notice the amount of referrals we got from Facebook Mobile (m.facebook.com). Good thing we had WPtouch installed so our page would look good on any device.

Click To Enlarge

Click To Enlarge

 

Did Our Plugins Do Their Job?

I was initially skeptical when installing the Facebook Page Promoter Lightbox – no one likes popups. After 2 weeks though, we picked up 50 likes from external “Like” buttons. These buttons were only in 2 places, the first was in the sidebar on the blog page the second was the aforementioned lightbox. I’m almost 100% sure the lightbox is where we picked up all of those likes.

Click To Enlarge

Click To Enlarge

Sling pic and both social sharing bars (vertical and horizontal) picked up a few extra “Likes” and retweets which was nice – nothing to write home about but every little bit counts. WPtouch can be attributed to the 13 mobile likes as although it means people liked our Page from Facebook (on a mobile device), the website must have been attractive enough to have convinced them.

Conclusion

The initial results are all very promising, only time will tell how good a long term strategy this is. The short term gains were an instant increase in likes going from 400 to 550 in 2 weeks, engagement going up and a large increase in unique visitors and page views. There were of course more minor, intricate strategic choices made during this period and still being made now – these will be discussed in a later post.

 

If you’d like any help setting these plugins up or want to discuss how this can apply to your online strategy get in touch by leaving a comment below.

Alternatives to Wildfire as they withdraw pay-as-you-go

Wildfire was one of the first apps we found to do promotions on the Facebook platform.  Founded by cool Kiwi entrepreneur Victoria Ransom, they got bought by Google and have clearly been spending time refocusing their work onto large customers who can afford $2,500 per month fees.  The little people will have to go elsewhere in future.

Here’s a list we curated on List.ly of Wildfire Alternatives. Please add your own favourites.

[listly id=”4KA” layout=”full”]

[read our interview with List.ly c0-founder, Shyam Subramanyan]

Contact Forms: New business development copywriting

Encouaging prospects to reveal their interest in your business is one of the hardest-to-master techniques for online new business development copywriting.  You know you have website visitors, the analytics show the passage of traffic but it’s all anonymous.

You need to get better at contact forms:

Here are the symptoms

  • lots of people visit your website (probably)
  • few get in touch to find out more
  • fewer move up the funnel towards purchase
  • pipeline does not get many new enquiries from the website

How to Copywrite contact forms

  • Be economic with words
  • Only ask for information you NEED
  • Seek originality in your wording

We found a great example from Markitors – they offer a neat free tips service.  Using the one free tip offer encourages action by the reader and recruits an email address to an autoresponder series.

And take a read of our earlier article on Best Practice Email sign up Forms

One Free tip button encourages action

One Free tip button encourages action

markitors freebie

Xero Marketing: a pitch & a critique

Xero is a hugely popular cloud accounts package that has taken much of the Intuit QuickBooks and MYOB business from SMEs worldwide.

Image via CrunchBase
Prompted by an article in Forbes about in-house marketing teams versus external agency use, I remembered a pitch we sent off to Xero.
As a customer of Xero and as a marketer, the things I think are lacking or could be enhanced primarily relate to the ease of re-using content and proactively driving it out to the right audience.
B2B comms for existing customers, in a nutshell.
Since Xero is growing internationally, they increasingly have separate user groups who should be communicated to differently – because they need different things from Xero.

Marketing suggestions – I have lots more….

  1. After signing up, there’s nothing to drive me deeper into using the higher features of your products, unless I search.
  2. Apart from support issues and feature requests, what are the useful things you could be communicating with my business [clues – finding support, accountancy advice, higher level feature uses, plug ins, apps developers, tax questions, work-rounds for bug fixes]
  3. How could Xero be leveraging existing customers to drive improved new business and new trial accounts using member-get-member referrals and other incentives?
  4. Autoresponders – for new users within the trial period and for first few months of use  – Xero could have a ‘guide’ much like Kiwibank‘s “Becky” who is there for the user, who acts as a signpost to helpful information inside your knowledge base, who helps check they’ve got the system set up properly.
  5. Why are you using FeedBurner to distribute your RSS feed from the blog?  It’s unsupported and you could be leveraging the channel for marketing messages to your active users in order to drive deeper brand engagement and possibly sales (see 2,3,4 above).
  6. Split out your blog into separate streams so that articles automatically send to different groups (e.g. developers and accountants, US versus NZ) Each would get articles designed for that audiences.  Create separate news feeds for different audiences, and further use them to drive marcoms to support your business growth goals
  7. The more you blog, the bigger your archive.  Readers rarely dive very deep and yet there’s probably heaps of helpful content which is being ignored.  Could they be created into “tip sheets”, e-books, training manuals and other support material? These content solutions can be supporting 1, 2 and 4 above.

As Forbes says, it’s great to be an in-house agency – but lifting your head above the parapet and seeking input and inspiration from an external agency team can be very beneficial.

All my LinkedIn contacts are 3rd degree – how can I connect?

We got an enquiry from a reader who asked this question “I’m utilizing LinkedIn for meeting clients but currently everyone seems to be a third degree. what are some ice breakers I can use to introduce myself.”

As you know, it’s very difficult to get peoples’ attention as they are busy professionals.

Here are some suggestions for you.

  1. Become the ‘go to’ person for interesting articles online about the topics relevant to your clients’ interests.  Share these using Linked In Groups.  Don’t use these groups to promote jobs you are recruiting for.
  2. EVERY DAY check who looked at your LinkedIn profile.  Send them an invitation to connect saying ‘hey, you looked at my profile, did you notice the articles I’m sharing about XYZ.  If you connect with me you get these sent to you as I publish.  Thanks and best wishes.  Use this article we wrote to find their names for 3rd degree connections 
  3. When they connect with you, you can see their email address; add them to your email list of folks who receive your shared articles, get their permission to mail them, and set up a newsletter outside of LinkedIn (we recommend FeedBlitz.com) to send out these messages, preferably linked to a blog of your own.

If you would like to work with Creative Agency Secrets and let us coach you as you build your skills, organize a skype call with us to give us a fuller brief.

4 Profile raising icon5 Relationship Development icon

Lightbox or New Window?

I’m sure many of you by this stage have either heard of Lightboxes or have already attempted to implement them on your own website. Lightboxes have replaced “tabbed browsing” as the fresh alternative to opening a new window. This post will give a quick pros and cons list of Lightboxes and discuss both the everyday frustrations and pleasures they bring. In my next post I will advise the best times and places to use Lightboxes based on what I have discussed here, because contrary to what you may read further down, there is a place for them.

A word of warning, if you’re an avid fan of Lightboxes you may want to close your eyes now…

The overwhelming number of reasons to not use Lightboxes surely disheartens even the most passionate fans. By my count, Lightboxes are down 2-10 to opening a new window… Not off to the best start then.

Table

Starting off with the cons (so we can end on a sweet note) Lightboxes are both immovable and modal. This means that if a user wants to open multiple links at once to run a comparison as I often do, this is impossible. What often happens to me though, is I do want to open a Lightbox but it blocks out what I want to compare it to on the regular page. “Open a new window” however does not suffer these issues as they can be moved, minimised and often you can interact with the original page.

Probably the biggest issue any SEO-conscious webmaster would have with Lightboxes is that Lightboxes cannot be bookmarked but more critically, have no search engine crawlability. This means that your users will be unable to find any information you have stored in your Lightbox and worse still, on the off chance they do find it, there is no way of directly bookmarking the Lightbox. From personal experience I can tell you how awkward it is to send a link to a friend and have to add “click the link ⅔ of the way down the page” to my email as it’s near-impossible to link directly to the exact part of information located on a Lightbox.

A major issue faced by novice web-users is that Lightboxes operate in a different way to regular web-browsing. For the novice, it means yet another system to learn and navigate. My grandfather recently acquired an iPad (his first steps online) and while he is making good progress he would never figure out a Lightbox (at this stage I haven’t even told him about tabbed browsing – each time I see him I close his 40-50 open tabs…). My point is that novice users struggle enough with regular web browsing.

So while a major issue for novice web-users is the change in operation, for more experienced users there are equal frustrations – the main one being suddenly the ‘back’ button no longer does as it always has. Rather than simply removing the Lightbox as we expect, it actually takes you back to the page before the page which contains the Lightbox. This is a real concern for anyone hoping to keep potential customers/readers on your site and may account for a low ‘average time on website’ figure in your analytics. Imagine someone Google’s your company and from that search enters your site. If a Lightbox appears and the user accidentally pushes ‘back’, they will be taken back to Google’s search results – which for me personally would be reason enough to not return to that site.

Lightboxes further suffer from often being “too” pretty with their animations etc  that it takes an eternity to actually load. Nothing frustrates me more than a slow fade in for every bit of data or picture that I want to see – It’s right up there with the Powerpoint individual letter fly-in animation. It is largely due to this that Lightbox struggles to encourage long-term usage.

Finally, and perhaps an ever-increasing problem are the compatibility issues Lightboxes have. The main one being on mobile devices. Lightboxes just don’t play nice with many mobile devices, obviously a pressing matter as more and more people browse the web on mobile devices. A more minor aspect is that users who disable javascript won’t be able to view your Lightboxes either (however there is a fix – have the link point to a real page, then use javascript to prevent the link from opening and instead open a lightbox). This may also fix some of the issues with mobile devices as well, however it just means more work for you, the webmaster, having to manage content on two locations as opposed to one.

Well, you’ve survived my rant. Just to help even up the score I’ll give the positive comments a larger font.

There really are only two reasons why you’d consider using a Lightbox over opening a new window, however both are critical. The first is Lightboxes offers a cleaner more professional look than opening a new window. Whilst this is purely based on preference, the general consensus is that Lightboxes look better. The second is perhaps the biggest overlooked benefit: it shows the selected content instantly. With many people opening multiple tabs and windows it can often be a decent amount of time before they actually view the selected link. With Lightboxes however there isn’t this problem as the content opens on the same page.

In my next post I’ll discuss How To Use Lightboxes On Your Website. Be sure to leave your own comments on the value of Lightboxes below!

How a creative brand idea becomes a campaign

There is sometimes a bit of ‘black box’ magic that seems to happen when a creative brief turns into an executed campaign.

Some would have you believe there’s ‘secret sauce’ but the reality is that expertise and years of experience are the best predictors of what will be a success and what will fail.

English: Idea for Fundraising 2010 campaign.

Funding appeal by website

 

English: Idea for Fundraising 2010 campaign

English: Idea for Fundraising 2010 campaign.

English: Idea for Fundraising 2010 campaign

I am a Wikipedian Campaign

Take this series of images we found online.

This year, Wikipedia, Row2K and other community funded websites will be running a drive to raise funds.  We have supported Jimmy Wales’ appeal last year and we’ll be doing it again this year.

But compare the lovely, sharable images above with the rather bland appeal text which are on the  Row2K site.  Which would you rather emote and pay out to?
So part of the success depends on creative quality of input.That may be hard to measure, and it’s certainly rarely guaranteed.
But there are inputs that will raise your chances: Starting with using an experienced team for your marketing. Get your agency team members to show you their own work from previous jobs.  Ask how they came up with a campaign and what the “signal moment” was when the core creative idea was articulated.  It’s not rocket science and it’s rarely a single burst of genius – frequently team work and careful development from an initial concept delivers the goods.

Marketing agency structures and business models

There are many different ways to organise your creative agency.  Reading in the news from the Guardian where Lorraine Ruckstuhl thinks small agencies are getting the advantageover larger networks with many service offerings.

Creative daydreaming

Creative daydreaming (Photo credit: HikingArtist.com)

This has to be balanced against what clients and brands want to get from their agency: New research from Avidan gives an assessment of what clients want from agencies – although there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of solutions – but do read the comments at the end where Bob Sanders has some good points.

  • agency roster sizes being reduced
  • agency tenure shortening
  • client demands for ‘agency accountability’

Avi later writes about agency compensation in another article where he links the incentive to come up with a big idea to how we get paid for our work.

This is a topic that will run and run – but for many smaller agencies, the opportunity to get new revenue streams exists from new product development [apologies it’s firewalled for subscribers].

What do you do?  Have you got new income streams from non-traditional work?  Or are your clients still happy to pay percentage media fees?

 

Best Practice email signup form: PSFK

Nice information ask here from trend spotters, PSFK.

They call it ‘need to know’ – I hope they do.

It includes a request for twitter id – first time I’ve seen that on an email newsletter sign up form. Interesting that they choose to put it so high up – under your name – the second field to complete.