With over 300 million Instagram users, I’m not surprised that I’ve been working with more companies to build their brands on digital platforms like this popular photo-sharing social media platform.
Companies are quickly finding out that Instagram users (which mainly consist of 16 – 30 year olds) aren’t interested in corporate advertisements and obvious sales copy. It will take a little more style and creative finessing to ensure their business objectives are met on Instagram.
Using low quality images or not having a consistent photo theme
Instagram is a visual platform that is vital to both telling your story and building your brand.
I completely understand the temptation to take pictures on phones and simply upload, irrespective of lighting or other quality considerations, however, if you’d like to be a giant among midgets, you’ll have to invest a little more time and energy in your photos.
With a number of picture editing applications available for phones and a little bit of photography know-how, you can raise your “insta-game” with these simple principles.
Take multiple pictures of the same object
Believe it or not, for every beautiful image you see (whether it’s in your favourite magazines, billboards, or other) it can take over 50 or more shots to get that perfect shot that comes out looking so good. Trust me, this isn’t a game.
Bloggers (especially street style bloggers), Instagramers, and those whose photos you enjoy online should be well respected and appreciated. From taking the photo, to editing the photo, creating copy and uploading it to dashboards or mobile devices, it can take one to two hours (sometime more) to prep one photo.
Find that Filter
Find a filter and stick with it, or better yet, try not using any at all. As long as you capture your photos using a professional camera (which I highly advise), in appropriate lighting, the natural beauty of your photo will be highlighted.
We recommend: Why I Will Leave Your Website in 7 Seconds
White space laws
Use as much white space as possible (a basic design principle that will never go out of date). It is always aesthetically pleasing and gives the appearance of a clean design (even if there is not design or skill involved).
Choose a theme and stick with it
Have a theme for your overall board and (if you feel saucy enough) each column. I’ll use a recent client, Emmaus Beauty, a natural skincare line for healing skin care line for treating skin disorders as an example.
Column one (from left to right) lays emphasis on a white background, as in column two (middle) is more for free styling and metallic grays, and column three is for plants and nature shots involving her brand or product.
Over-use of #Hashtags
Hashtags are great when used appropriately (like anything meant for good in the world). With all things good, however, comes responsibility. If you use too many hashtags, it is possible for your posts to look spammy (many are guilty of this). Using hashtags without fully understanding the meaning or implications of the particular hashtag is also a major faux pas.
Pop culture has added, and keeps adding, layers of definitions to words and phrases we commonly use or understand. In addition to traditional dictionaries such as Webster’s dictionary (or dictionary.com), take the time to look up phrases (hashtags) in urbandictionary.com.
You’ll be surprised at the meaning that has been added to words like “chill,” as in #netflixandchill. And no, it doesn’t mean relaxing while watching your favourite shows on Netflix. #Stop #It (Note: The last use of hashtag was horrendous and meaningless. Do not try it at home).
Not updating or providing a link in bio
Your Instagram bio is the only place where you can insert an active hyperlink. I cannot tell you how many times I find that people place links in their posts, and yet fail to place the same link in their bio where it is active.
Even worse are those that don’t place any link or maintain the same link for years. Use this opportunity to liven up your page, and update your link to reflect what you’re posting.
Not interacting with anyone
Don’t be that person, who speaks about yourself and never stops to listen and/or include anyone else in the conversation. We all like to be paid a little compliment or gentle attention here and there. Gain disciples and not just followers by encouraging others, reposting photos (always provide credits where due).
Although managing your brand on Instagram sounds like a lot of work, it will be rewarding. After all, the goal of using social is to connect, engage, and promote.
We recommend: 8 Reasons Why Your Marketing Sucks
If a photo is worth 1 000 words, imagine what your entire Instagram profile says about you, your brand, platform and your company. Making the mistakes above could mean, loosing traffic to your site (remember link in bio), lost in potential newsletter subscribers, and even worse- leave potential customers with a bad impression.
Hiring a firm or an individual, to manage your digital presence with the right tools (camera, writing skills, and clear business objectives), could go a long way. Take the time or make the investment.
5 Steps In Adwords Competitor Analysis: A Practical Case Study
In the second part of this article, we’ll be getting practical. What steps to take and what to do in each step.
In PART ONE of this article on the importance of competitor analysis in an Adwords campaign, we demonstrated to you the value that can be uncovered by performing a proper analysis of what your foe is up to on Adwords and how they can actually help you do better.
In the second part of this article, we’ll be getting practical. What steps to take and what to do in each step.
Pens sharpened? Batteries charged? Lets go!
As a case study of a local Adwords campaign, we’ll be taking a look at one of the main spenders on PPC in South Africa, booking.com, and see what information can be gathered about their competition in paid search results.
Step 1. Find out who your client’s true competitors in paid search are
First of all, let’s get on the same page, by stating that your organic and paid search competition is not the same thing. If you know who you share the SERPs with, it doesn’t mean that you’ll share the paid ads section with the same set of companies.
Booking.com knows what we’re talking about.
Here’s the organic part of the SERP for ‘book a hotel’. Booking.com shares it with Trivago, hotels.com and Agoda.
They could have thought: Okay, so these are my competitors, I know what they’re up to, I’ll look into their strategies and I’ll be fine in both organic and paid search. But wait, what is happening there at the top of the SERPs? Who is this dark horse?
It’s Expedia! In organic search it stands further down from booking.com than the rest of the domains from the first page, yet in paid results Booking and Expedia are the closest rivals.
But that is just one keyword. There are many other keywords for which the companies want to advertise in Google, so to know whether you’re actually competing with them, you need to evaluate your competition level.
It’s a simple process of comparing the number of keywords you have in common versus the number that are unique with that competitor.
By estimating this value, you can distinguish your true competitors from big generic brands, niche competition and temporary distractions in the paid search.
Jokes aside, Booking and Expedia share a relatively similar online presence and are, of course, familiar with each other’s PPC strategy. That said, if you’re not a huge domain and know your usual competitors, it is even more frustrating to miss an audacious market newcomer or an organic outsider trying to cut the line and get to the top of the SERPs with an aggressive PPC campaign. So, the analysis of your true competition should be performed regularly. For the agencies that we support, we usually revise the competitors list once every quarter.
Step 2. Estimate your competition PPC budgets
Now that you know who you are rubbing elbows with in paid search, try figuring out how much they spend on PPC. There’s no way to know exactly what their budgets are (except for corporate espionage, but we don’t recommend that), but you can still make use of an estimation.
For that, you need to know how many keywords they target in paid search, what their cost-per-click values are, as well as their estimated search volumes. That is practically impossible to reveal manually, but the competitor analysis tool in SEMrush for example provides you with an estimation of the company’s PPC budget based on the data from their keyword database. Similar tools should be found in whatever quality software you’ve opted for.
Here’s the info we could gather about Booking.com by solely analysing the keywords for which it was showing up in paid search and the CPC values of those keywords.
Though it is a rough estimation, this info is helpful in planning your PPC campaigns in a way that meets with market trends.
Step 3. Find out your competitor’s unique keywords
What’s even better about competitor analysis is that it will help you save time by not needing to do the tough jobs yourself by letting you (legally) steal the best ideas from your competition and dwell on them. Remember, if you’re doing it to them, they’re probably doing it to you as well! All’s fair in love, war and paid advertising!
What’s the practical value of this? Well, your competitor’s unique keywords can be your missed opportunity.
By comparing the keywords that Booking and Expedia are bidding on, we see that there are a lot of keywords related to means of travelling and travelling companies in Expedia’s portfolio, but they are missing in the Booking.com set. It is obviously just another tactic for such a big brand, but for a smaller company, this comparison list could be a golden goose of new ideas.
Step 4. Research your competitor’s ads and banners
If you have ever been online, you know that the SERPs are crowded. The served results in both organic and paid search have to constantly overcome the viewer’s lack of attention, so the message in your ads should be short, clear, and actionable.
Your competitor’s copy can be a great source of information.
Comparing your ads to your competitor’s allows you to see the context and the standards of messaging in your niche and adjust your voice to or diversify from the usual tone.
Also, sometimes you need to develop multiple ad copies with similar content. Whenever creativity abandons you, you can look into your competitor’s copy and borrow a few ideas from them.
Step 5. Check your competitor’s target URLs
Imagine running an online retail business. Summer sales are coming, and you want to promote your goods with an AdWords campaign. Apart from the keywords that you want to bid on and creating appealing ad copy, you also need to think about the page which your ads are going to take your leads to.
Is it common in your client’s niche to have a specific landing page for a promo like this? Or is it enough to have banners on the home page? Take a look at your client’s competitor’s target pages and find out.
The Value Of Competitor Analysis On A South African Adwords Campaign
If you have doubts about the efficiency of an AdWords campaign being run in South Africa, here are some stats about the South African market to convince you.
Running a successful AdWords campaign can sometimes be like trying to understand the maths that Elon Musk is using to put a human being on Mars: you’re pretty sure it will work, but trying to figure how and why burns too many brain cells.
Well, help is at hand! In this TWO PART article, we’re going to demonstrate to you the value of performing a competitor analysis on an Adwords campaign, and show you just how and what you should be looking for.
As a digital marketer of any kind, you’ve probably had a crack at running and managing an AdWords campaign. Let me guess:
- Predicting the results and outcomes was impossible;
- You outsourced to an agency this one time. It cost you a fortune and they kept asking questions you couldn’t possibly have answers to;
- Setting the budget was more complicated than understanding the nature and purpose of Snapchat;
- And speaking of budget…it’s NEVER enough and always runs out too quickly.
Nobody is arguing with the fact that AdWords is one of the most complicated digital marketing efforts that you can undertake on behalf of a client or yourself. However, if done right, it could also be one of the most rewarding, effective and business-altering activities you could do.
If you have doubts about the efficiency of an AdWords campaign being run in South Africa, here are some stats about the South African market to convince you:
South African PPC market in numbers
In 2017 the total spending on Google ads in South Africa across all industries reached $30 million. The market’s thriving!
And these websites were the most generous spenders on Google ads. If only your budgets could compete, right?
However, these were the industry’s spendaholics.
Generally, businesses are way more careful with their PPC budgets: only 3.8% of all the companies spend more than R50 000 monthly, and the majority of 34.1% is just indulging their curiosity with somewhere around 1000 bucks a month.
And if you worry about your ad copy, take a look at the most popular phrases and CTAs used in South African ads:
So, how do you enter that market AND, at the same time, save your money?
Well, that’s like eating an elephant — get help and do it in pieces.
If you thought that running and managing an AdWords campaign was complicated, try getting advice from the pros on best practices to net best results. Just like deciphering that Musk math again.
- Split test your copy
- Use different ad extensions… or all of them
- Try out different calls to action
- Manage and track your budget daily
- Get your targeting on point
But also don’t forget about the foundation of any marketing campaign, digital or not: research your competition.
As wholesalers of digital marketing services to South African digital agencies, by far one of the most important and most advised best practices we suggest to the agencies that we support when running an AdWords digital marketing campaign is to ensure that they practice comprehensive and thorough competitor analysis.
What is competitor analysis for your Adwords campaign and how do you streamline it?
Running a competitor analysis during an AdWords campaign is like having a video camera in your competitions training session. It’ll help you pull back the curtain, see what they’re up to and adjust your efforts accordingly to ensure optimum results from your AdWords campaigns.
In our experience, many companies do not perform PPC competitive research, or don’t do it as often as they should. However, not having the full picture about your PPC competition is risky and can result in running ineffective campaigns. That means wasting your or your client’s budget without netting tangible results or missing the opportunities available to your client by underinvesting.
But recognising the difference that competitor analysis can make in your AdWords campaigns is only the first step. The next step is to find the right tool to help you perform your competitor analysis on a regular basis. The stats and data provided in this article were pulled by our team using SEMrush. It’s a software that we have found invaluable in helping us to provide white label, wholesale digital marketing services to the South African and international digital agencies that we support.
That being said, there are a wealth of similarly effective and powerful digital marketing tracking tools on the market worth investigating. We encourage you to get out there and see what works best for you.
The data that you should drill out of your competitor analysis
On all the levels of digital marketing, there’s a constant rivalry between best practice and revolutionary ideas. The question of whether to follow a well-trodden path or to do things differently in an effort to distinguish the brand you’re working on is always on the table. Or desktop in the case of digital marketing.
However, to make an informed decision you need to know the niche you are playing in as well as its main players. These questions will help you gather that information:
- Who is your true competitor in paid search?
- How much do they spend on PPC?
- What are their most profitable keywords?
- What do their ads and banners look like?
- What URLs should your ads target?
Now you know WHAT to ask. But what do you do with the answers and how do you use them to improve your own Adwords performance.
In PART TWO of this blog, we’ll be diving into just that. CLICK HERE TO READ ON!
There Is No Silencing The ‘Chatter’ Bots
In a world governed by technological advances, it is no surprise that the business world has adopted technology of their own to better their processes.
There has been a strong movement in the business environment towards automated processes through the use of Chatbots, introduced in order to support business teams in their relations with customers.
Chatbots are essentially personal assistants developed to assist you. They are artificial intelligence systems that we can interact via text or even voice interface. In the business world the idea is to automate repetitive tasks in order to lighten the workload for employees, allowing them more time to concentrate on more important tasks at hand.
As futuristic as this all sounds, the reality is that this is something that businesses are already using and the benefits are definitely worth mentioning.
Chatbots in Business
The main aim of any business is to keep the customer happy – that’s where the money comes from after all. In such a fast-paced, technologically advanced world, customers are expecting so much more from businesses in terms of service delivery, so this is where Chatbots come in.
Unlike humans, Chatbots can work 24/7 without a break and without the added expense, two factors that will definitely benefit any business, never mind the improved customer satisfaction that comes with that.
Customers no longer have to wait to be put through to the next available operator; Chatbots are replacing live chat with other forms of contact such as text and emails, ensuring that customers are dealt with faster than was previously possible.
Chatbots can have conversations with thousands of people simultaneously, something that humans just can’t do.
Dealing with difficult customers is also a thing of the past. Chatbots are bound by rules and specific instructions so they will always deal with customers in a polite and professional manner, another positive for customer satisfaction.
In the travel and hospitality industry, dealing with customers that speak other languages is also a possibility with a Chatbot trained in different languages.
The Long-Term Cost Saving
There is major movement in all businesses to keep costs down, especially as the business grows. A major monthly expense for businesses is the paying of salaries. Although it isn’t possible to completely cut out this expense, Chatbots can help businesses reduce the amount of staff needed.
Chatbots can deal with simpler customer queries and only escalate more complex queries to agents. Chatbots can also lighten the workload of a sales team by engaging with customers and gathering information about what the customers want, supplying the sales team with valuable information to help in the sales process.
Chatbots are a one-time investment, and any company with a website can make use of them – simple and cost-effective in the long term.
There are so many benefits to using Chatbots, and as technology continues to advance, who knows what these bots will be capable of in the future.
Start-up Industry Specific2 months ago
How Do I Start A Transport Or Logistics Business?
Snapshots9 years ago
Habari Media: Adrian Hewlett
Snapshots2 months ago
27 Of The Richest People In South Africa
Types of Businesses to Start2 months ago
11 Uniquely South African Business Ideas
Support for Women Entrepreneurs2 months ago
10 Successful SA Women Entrepreneurs’ Top Advice On Balancing Work And Family
Entrepreneur Profiles2 months ago
10 SA Entrepreneurs Who Built Their Businesses From Nothing
Types of Businesses to Start2 months ago
10 Business Ideas Ready To Launch!
Lessons Learnt2 months ago
6 Of The Most Profitable Small Businesses In South Africa