There are an overwhelming amount of tools and resources available to help maintain the active and engaged presence your brand(s) need to have on several social media channels to convert website visitors, customers, and more. Because of this plethora of resources, it’s easy to get caught up in the grind of static results from digital campaigns. This ends up hurting brands, as these channels require continued innovation and experimentation in order to keep producing mass results for your business.
In March 2016, Forbes reported that Facebook had a 50% growth in active advertisers from 2015 to 2016, totalling 3 million. What’s interesting is that at the time Forbes reported this, Facebook had “50 million active business pages on its platform as of December 2015, and active advertisers comprise only 6% of these pages.” While this definitely showed massive growth potential from Facebook’s end, it also reflected the reality of a majority of digital marketers: social ad campaign experiments are nerve-wracking.
It’s daunting to think of allocating a portion of budget and time — no matter how significant — to a digital campaign experiment when there isn’t a 100% guarantee the results desired will produce. What many marketers are beginning to realize, though, is that no campaign is guaranteed to garner the same results every time. With algorithms and user behavior ever-changing among all social channels, there’s no guarantee that a campaign will perform the same or exceedingly better when executed again.
This has brought upon the need for marketing experimentation. All marketers must dedicate a portion of their efforts to experimentation in order to continually innovate and produce better long-term results. So how do marketers best equip themselves to tackle the real-time pivoting, analysis, and execution required to produce positive results? There are several strategies that have worked effectively for many marketers. In this article, we break down a simple marketing experiment to increase conversions through a new channel (Instagram) by diving deeper into Google Analytics. This is an easy experiment that every marketer can perform using a limited budget, backed by intelligent data to promise a profitable return.
Step 1: Dive Deeper Into Your Dashboard
One of the biggest mistakes a marketer can make is not diving deep enough into their digital analytics. This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s a surprising oversight that most marketers can’t afford to prioritize with their time — and understandably! Getting an audience’s attention, keeping it, and nurturing it can be a daily grind; however, doubling down on blog posts alone isn’t going to grow your audience and boost engagement. What most marketers find is that it only maintains it.
One of the biggest challenges with marketing experimentation is that it’s unclear what the best next step is. Say you doubled-down on your content marketing efforts by publishing more blog posts on your website than in the previous month and saw a spike in web traffic. Take a look at the factors that contributed to that: Which social channels saw the most successful conversion rate?
Let’s take a real-life example of this from an experiment done with one of my businesses’ websites. My team and I perform weekly — if not daily — digital campaigns across several social channels to drive traffic to our website. While I may not heavily invest in each of these channels, and my team and I still dedicate time-consuming strategic execution when promoting pieces on these platforms. When evaluating possible experimentation to dedicate similar time to, I first looked at a breakdown of which channels drove the most traffic to my website during the prior week, using my Google Analytics dashboard of social network referrals:
When reviewing weekly activity, we saw that our Instagram account was driving traffic to our website, even though we were investing no time or dollars into that channel. We were having so much more significant success with Facebook and Twitter that we limited our campaigns efforts to those two channels. What we weren’t realizing was the missed opportunity through this other channel.
Step 2: Break Down Data To Determine The Factors of Your Experiment
Diving deeper into the analytics, we took a look at which Instagram posts actually included a link or some sort of CTA (call-to-action) to our website in them. Once we identified which of our followers were most engaged on Instagram — based on likes and comments on specific posts from our account — we came up with a plan for the following month to experiment converting more site visitors from our Instagram account.
Step 3: Execute Experiment
With this seemingly minimal effort of analytical reporting and a next step of more targeted, engaged posts, we saw over a 1000% increase in conversions to our website from Instagram in following two weeks. We did not invest any dollars in promoting the Instagram posts, just simply included links to our website in the targeted posts, or included the link in our Instagram bio with the CTA in the post: “Link in bio.”
An additional tip is to use bit.ly to create your link so it’s shortened. An additional step we took was customize the bit.ly links that we used in posts so it was simple for followers to copy/paste into their browsers, because users can’t click a link to the actual web page when it’s placed in an Instagram post. Instagram followers can only directly click a link to a web page when it’s in an account bio. Here’s an example of a customized bit.ly that’s easier for followers to copy/paste versus the original link:
Original link: http://thenewnewthing.com/digital-marketers-can-learn-chatbot-revolution/
Customized bit.ly: bit.ly/chatbotrevolution2016
We still continued efforts on our main conversion-drivers, Facebook and Twitter, but identified a new outlet with Instagram through our latest experimentation.
Step 4: Use Experiment Results to Determine Where to Re-Invest
Once you’ve established a new channel to drive conversions to your website, landing page, etc., take a look at the conversions per social channel so you can determine an intelligent budget to invest in your campaigns. Marketers can also create a Traffic From Acquisition Social Media Report to track conversion rates per social channel.
Once we saw that Instagram was converting with strategic effort from our team, we determined a budget to invest in targeted posts, with a next step to evaluate those paid conversions per dollar against our other channels we were investing budget into. Holding investments accountable to conversion rates ensures that budget is being spent intelligently, and you aren’t going into your experiments blind.