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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Fan Engagement – has a real ring to it doesn’t it?

Following up to yesterdays post, I’m now going to look at the top NZ brands on Facebook and compare them to our most engaging brands, our most trusted brands and the most engaging brands on Facebook in the US.

top NZ brands by number of fans  Top NZ brands by average engagement

Interesting side note: The All Blacks were left off this list despite have 1.8 million fans. I guess rugby teams aren’t brands??? More on this later.

As you can see, there are stark differences between the top brands by numbers and the top brands by engagement with only Air New Zealand and Nutella (Aus & NZ) truly engaging with their large number of fans.
What does this tell us? Numbers aren’t everything! Just ask Barack Obama.  If anyone figures out how to engage with fake Twitter and Facebook accounts , let us know.

To add a further factor of interest, not a single brand from New Zealand’s Most Trusted Brands list appears on either of these facebook lists. This shows us you don’t have to be the well known knight in shining armour to engage with people online, you just have to know how to do it right.

So lets focus on the most engaging brands on facebook as the more realist statistic on social media success. In the Top 10 most engaging brands in New Zealand we have four alcoholic drink companies, two foodstuff companies, two communication network providers, one airline and we can’t forget Persil NZ washing detergent.

Compare those brands to the most engaging facebook brands in the United States we see a huge difference. Leading the way are five television networks, followed by one sporting event (non US), one supermarket, one alcoholic drink company, one restaurant and one motorcycle manufacturer. Its safe to say that if Kiwis have a drinking problem then Americans have an even bigger television problem.

So we now know who is engaging the most with their fans. The  next question is, how are they doing it??

Tomorrow we will put two brands from each list head to head in our ‘Battle of the Brands’ feature to showcase different ways to engage with your fan base.  See you then.

Shout! The Marketing Agency Blueprint: Paul Roetzer interview

Paul Roetzer is a striking, energetic man.  We met after I’d read his first book, the Marketing Agency Blueprint which explains how he has founded a PR agency in a 21st century mould.

You worked in a traditional agency – how did they view biz dev?

They didn’t really have it – they were reliant on the traditional networks of the founders. The growth was dependent on that and referrals. Some limited efforts to do DM pieces and promotions.

Is that normal?

Yes I think in a lot of cases – agencies are built that way. We did research in 2010 into PR agencies only a small % were blogging. They were trying to provide social media services but weren’t doing it wll for themselves.

Agencies tend to come last and that’s why they haven’t done good biz dev work. Take care of your own needs after everything else. I find that messaging and websites are often outdated and they rely on reputation and networks and RFPs for new business.

In the book you liken your business plan to a football field – Why?

I tend to see everything in a sports metaphor. Whether we are bringing in entry level talent (the draft) versus free agency. When I was trying to figure out how to explain to clients how the [online] market was evolving and how these strategies were integrated and they rely on each other, I tried a Venn diagram and in my mind I started thinking about watching

Drive Charts – showing progression down the field 10-20 yard line. This was an analogy – we have to do each of the phases systematically to eventually get to the end zone or the goal. I also wanted to represent different things at once – audiences (stadium) the brand (a place).  See Paul’s diagram here.

Inbound Marketing Gameplan

How do you manage the agency website internally?

One of the senior consultants is also the agency’s marketing manager and is also the blog editor. In most cases her role is to keep the editorial calendar up to date and the team of the writers – we try to do 1-2 per week.  We also have a premium content strategy – the book started as a 2010 e book; we did “The marketers guide to web design”. We also have plans to do premium content which isn’t paid for but is just high quality. Gated content = lead form to access.

How does she report and on what?

Same as clients – traffic, organic, lead generation, blog subscriber base, social media and how engaged – followers and likes we have.  We do a monthly scorecard – pull the data out of GA and Hubspot and create a spreadsheet thta shows core numbers, assess it and 3 takeaweays – highlights, learning snad what we’ll do next month.

Tomorrow, read Part 2 of the interview with Paul.

In the meantime, why not buy the book [affiliate link] it’s in hardback or Kindle editions.