Instagram Stories: How 18 Brands And Influencers Are Using It (And You Can Too!)

10 billion.

That’s the number of videos people watch on Snapchat every day. The same potential consumption (maybe more) exists for Instagram Stories –  quick videos and photos that disappear after 24 hours, just like Snapchat, but with an audience of 500 million users.

Does that sound like a channel worth exploring?

We believe so! Storytelling has always been a key part of marketing, and features like Instagram Stories are empowering us marketers to tell better and deeper stories about our brands. We’d love to provide you with more resources about Instagram Stories so that you can master this platform and see your voice spread.

In this post, I’d love to share 18 Instagram marketers who have been doing rad things with Stories to give you some inspiration on what you could do for your Instagram Stories too.

Instagram Stories

18 Creative Uses of Instagram Stories (and how you can do it too)

From my research, I discovered several creative ways brands and individuals have been using Instagram Stories. And here’s the great news: most of these strategies do not require huge budget or resources to pull off!

Before we dive into each brand and individual, here’s the full list of rockstar Instagram storytellers with links to their Instagram profiles.

(Note: If you end up following some of these great accounts and wish to see their Instagram stories from a desktop browser, there’s a neat Chrome extension here which lets you do just that.)

  1. NASA
  2. LOFT
  3. Huffington Post
  4. Techcrunch
  5. Gary Vaynerchuk
  6. Chris Burkard
  7. New York University
  8. GoPro
  9. When I Work
  10. Shopify
  11. Remote Year
  12. Black Sheep Cycling
  13. Olympics
  14. Brian Fanzo
  15. Minaal
  16. 9gag
  17. Sean Wes
  18. Track Maven

Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at how each of the following brands and individuals uses Instagram Stories and see how you might take inspiration to adapt their strategies for our own brand!

1. NASA (@nasa)

Supplement your main Instagram content with bonus info via Stories

This is one of my favorite ways of using Instagram Stories: telling a deep story behind each and every Instagram post.

One of the key differences between Instagram and Snapchat is that Instagram provides a public, viewable profile for your main content. On no other social network can you get this type of supplemental information about the posts themselves.

This makes NASA’s use of Stories quite the native strategy. Here’s a great example: Recently, NASA posted about the annual Perseid meteor shower on their Instagram account and used Stories to share more about the meteor shower and the research on it, talking to the scientists involved in the research and showing the equipment used for the research.

NASA Story

How you could do this for your business: 

After you choose a final photo to share on Instagram, snap a couple of extra ones that go behind-the-scenes. This can be as easy as:

  • Flip your camera around to take a photo of the opposite view (example)
  • Share some of the failed drafts of photos (Instagram Stories are ephemeral, thank goodness!)
  • Snap a photo with the team that helped you create your Instagram photo
  • Zoom out and photograph the setup – works great for product shots to show all that goes into getting the photo just right!

2. LOFT (@loft)

Turn Stories into real-time events (and amplify engagement)

LOFT, a women’s clothing brand, invited two best buddies for a style challenge, which was shared as an Instagram Story. The challenge: Find something (in the LOFT store) the other didn’t think she could wear.

Not only did LOFT allow their followers to follow along the fun challenge, LOFT also gave them an opportunity to engage with a recent Instagram post and help spread their brand by asking them to tag their best friends in the post.

LOFT's Instagram Stories

(Hat tip to Amanda Tessier for this one!)

How you could do this for your business: 

Take a look at your event calendar and see if there are any upcoming events and activities that your online community can follow along. It could be:

  1. Challenges like LOFT’s
  2. Company retreats
  3. Meetups, conferences, or roadshows

Otherwise, consider if you could organize fun games around your product or service which your online community could participate in by leaving a comment on one of your recent Instagram posts or sharing a photo with a particular hashtag.

3. Huffington Post (@huffingtonpost)

Use photos with captions to tell your stories

With the help of the text and drawing functionality of Instagram Stories, Huffington Post has been creating interesting short photo summaries of recent news, allowing their followers to consume their content in a more visual and fun manner.

Huffington Post Story 1

Huffington Post Story 2

Huffington Post Story 3

How you could do this for your business: 

Go through all your recent blog posts and challenge yourself to turn one of them into a photo story. Adding captions will tend to make it easier while drawing with the three different Stories markers will bring more personality to your story.

4. TechCrunch (@techcrunch)

Give your followers a quick and easy way to consume your content

Quite similar to Huffington Post, TechCrunch has been using Instagram Stories to share headlines and short text summary of recent tech news.

Techcrunch Story

How you could do this for your business: 

If you publish lots of content regularly like a news or media agency, summarize your articles with a headline and a tagline or sentence. If the news is shareworthy, adding your brand logo, like how TechCrunch did, could help to spread the awareness of your brand.

5. Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee)

Mix high-quality edited content with raw authentic content (and keep in mind the vertical screen size)

Gary Vaynerchuk has been using Instagram Stories for several purposes – promoting his DailyVee videos through high-quality visuals, sharing very authentic glimpses into his daily life, and connecting genuinely with his followers.

Gary Vaynerchuk Story 1

In a recent Story, he mentioned that his followers asked for more wallpapers on his Instagram Stories and so he made more for them.

Gary Vaynerchuk Story 1

How you could do this for your business: 

Gary Vaynerchuk does quite a few things well on Instagram Stories, and here are some of the things you could try:

  • If you produce video content as part of your marketing strategy, consider creating an extra version for the vertical mobile screen or simply add borders at the top and bottom, which Gary Vaynerchuk does sometimes.
  • If you tend to use your Instagram posts to drive traffic to your content on your blog or Medium publication or YouTube channel, create promotional images and mention that the link is in your bio.
  • If you create images for your social media posts, make an additional image for the vertical screen or reuse the one you created for Pinterest.
  • Use Instagram Stories to do research and interact with your community. What types of content do they want from you via Instagram? How can you provide those content to them?

6. Chris Burkard (@chrisburkard)

Show your behind-the-scenes adventures

Chris Burkard is a very talented photographer with almost 2 million followers on Instagram.

He has been using Instagram Stories to take his followers through his adventures where he captures the jaw-dropping photos he shares on his Instagram accounts, including river crossings and camping outdoors with very windy conditions.

Chris Burkard Story

How you could do this for your business: 

While not every business might have such adventurous experiences on a regular basis, your followers might be interested in what your company does on a day-to-day basis. Think about some of the fun aspects you could show them, such as brainstorming sessions, team lunch, company games and more.

7. New York University (@nyuniversity)

Bring your followers on tours

New York University has a very engaged following on Instagram. Each of its posts has thousands of likes and 10–20 comments. Following the theme for its posts, New York University “takes” its followers on tours around the campus and city, enhancing the experience of following the account.

New York University Story

How you could do this for your business: 

This is great if you are a tourist attraction or school or even a retail store with a great physical space and environment!

When you are taking your afternoon break and going out for a walk, snap a few photos of interesting sights or locations and share them with your followers. These raw authentic snaps will give your followers a better sense of the area and might make them want to visit you more.

8. GoPro (@gopro)

Bring your followers on an adventure

GoPro is one of the brands I think of when I think of adventures. When Instagram Stories was launched, GoPro jumped onto the opportunity to share more footage taken with, yep, GoPro.

Recently, while making its GoPro family member’s dream come true of seeing the aurora australis, GoPro shared the adventure with its Instagram followers through incredible video footages of the trip.

GoPro Stories

How you could do this for your business: 

If you are an outdoor activities company, share all the thrilling and breathtaking videos of the outdoors with your followers.

For those who might not have such opportunities on a daily basis, here’s something else you could try. While GoPro’s Instagram Stories alone looks amazing enough, it is part of their #DreamReal marketing campaign of fulfilling their social media advocates’ dreams. You could perhaps:

  1. Use Instagram Stories to promote your company’s hashtag and encourage more people to use it.
  2. Show how happy the winners of your giveaways are or how awesome your giveaway prizes are to attract more people to participate in them in the future.

9. When I Work (@wheniwork)

Feature your customers and share behind the scenes

When I Work is employee scheduling software with over 15,000 happy customers worldwide. Recently, they visited a few of their customers in Canada and featured them in their Instagram Stories.

When I Work Story 1 When I Work Story 2

How you could do this for your business: 

If it is possible, visit your amazing customers and give them a shoutout on your Instagram Stories. This will let your followers know what types of businesses and individuals use your product and might give them the social proof they need in order to convert. Furthermore, this will help you build a stronger relationship with your customers.

10. Shopify (@shopify)

Promote your blog posts creatively

You might not always be able to visit our customers like When I Work so Shopify worked around that by letting merchants, who use Shopify for their business, take over the Shopify Instagram account and share about their business.

Apart from merchant takeovers, Shopify also promotes their blog posts through Instagram Stories.

Shopify Story

How you could do this for your business: 

This is just one of the many ways you could promote your blog posts through Instagram Stories:

  1. With the blog post you want to promote, find 3-5 key points that will grab your followers’ attention. (An easy way could be to look at your H2 headings.)
  2. Turn them into fun Instagram Stories using relevant photos, captions, and drawings.
  3. Create a simple bit.ly link to be used for the last photo.
  4. Post them!
  5. Bonus: It will be great to download each Instagram Stories photo onto your phone as you create them and post them all at once when you are ready. This will help to ensure that your followers see the full set of photos at a go.

11. Remote Year (@remoteyear)

Bring your offline and online communities together

Remote Year is a year-long program where 75 digital nomads travel across the world to work and explore 12 cities together.

Through their Instagram Stories, they share what they do on, I believe, a daily basis, allowing their followers who might not be able to join the trip to still be part of the fun.

Remote Year Story

How you could do this for your business: 

It can be a bit of a bummer for your community when they are unable to attend some of your events. It could be meetups or conferences with a limited number of tickets or an exclusive event for certain customers only or a program for a selected few such as the Remote Year. However, that does not mean they have to miss out on all the fun. Here are some of the things you could do:

  • Interview key personnel briefly about the topic of the event
  • Invite attendees to share their experiences at the event
  • Film interesting and fun moments of the event
  • Appoint a host or two for your Instagram Stories while the event is taking place to talk about what is going to happen during the event, narrate as the activities are happening and interview attendees, like what the Remote Year did for some of their events (as seen in the first photo)

12. Black Sheep Cycling (@blacksheepcycling)

Give sneak previews of your upcoming products or launch them through Instagram Stories

Black Sheep Cycling is a cycling brand that provides innovative and unique cycling apparel.

A few days ago, they launched their ambassador kit for their community. Besides announcing the upcoming launch with an Instagram post, the team also used Instagram Stories to showcase the kit from various angles.

Black Sheep Cycling Story

How you could do this for your business: 

While preparing the marketing materials for your upcoming launch or announcement, create a few more vertical designs for your Instagram Stories. Consider more than one image or design since the ephemeral nature of Instagram Stories allow you to share more photos and videos without cluttering up your Instagram profile. Here are some variations you could think about:

  • Different angles of the product
  • Specific features of the product
  • Different people using your product
  • Various ways of using your product

13. Olympics (@olympics)

Report timely news and wrap-up

When the Rio 2016 Olympics was taking place, the social media team behind the Instagram account took the opportunity to share more about and celebrate the incredible Olympians. Harrison Barnes also took over the account to give a wrap-up for a day and shared his thoughts on the day’s events.

Olympics Story

How you could do this for your business: 

While you might not always be part of huge events like the Olympics, there are likely to be many high-profile events in your respective industry. For example in the tech field, one such event is TechCrunch Disrupt. You could attend such events and provide timely updates to your followers. Here are some possible ways:

  • Create simple images to share cool announcements and important news from the event
  • Share your thoughts about the announcements and news of the event
  • Interview speakers and prominent figures in the industry briefly, if possible
  • Feature partners and customers who happen to be at the same event

14. Brian Fanzo (@isocialfanz)

Give previews of your talks and let others take over your Instagram Stories

Brian Fanzo, popularly known as isocialfanz, is a millennial speaker who is very knowledgeable about community building, social media, livestreaming, influencer marketing, tech and more. In 2016 alone, Brian will keynote at more than 40 events around the world.

He has been using Instagram Stories to give previews for his upcoming talks and events such as the #Cloudtalk. He did the same when he was taking over our Buffer Instagram Stories while Brian, our Social Media Manager, took over his.

Brian Fanzo Story

How you could do this for your business: 

Work with other brands and influencers to take over your Instagram account and ask to take over theirs too. Like Gary Vaynerchuk said, “It’s an easy way to reach new audiences and increase brand awareness.” And it’s great because both parties stand to benefit from the takeovers.

A cool feature of Instagram Stories is that it allows you upload any photos and videos that were added to your phone’s camera roll within the last 24 hours. Simply swipe down while you are in the Instagram Stories camera mode. This allows you to share photos and videos from the brands and influencers without having to share your Instagram account password.

  1. Get them to create Instagram Stories and save them onto their phones without posting them.
  2. Get them to send their draft Stories to you via email, Dropbox or Google Drive.
  3. Download them onto your phone before the time you wish to post them (you will have 24 hours to use them after downloading them onto your phone).
  4. Wait for the right time and voila!

15. Minaal (@minaalofficial)

Share user generated content and showcase your customers

Minaal makes durable, professional travel gear that gets you where you want to be – faster, happier and more productive. (It is a brand many Bufferoos love too!)

In their Stories, they share photos from their community who are traveling all around the world with the amazing travel bags and gear.

Minaal Story

How you could do this for your business: 

Many a time, we love to showcase our users’ photos of them using our products, only to realize that the photo quality might not be on par with those we post on our profile or it might not match the theme of photos we chose for our gallery. Instagram Stories provides a great option to feature your users (and your product) without changing the theme of your Instagram branding or adding too many photos to your gallery.

Invite your users to share photos of themselves using your product and let them know that you will be featuring them on your Instagram Stories. Alternatively,

  1. Look out for photos of your product by your users (if there’s a hashtag that your community uses, that will be very handy)
  2. Reach out to those users and ask if you could feature their photos and them on your Instagram Stories.
  3. Once you have the photos, add their Instagram handle and perhaps add some drawings to the photos to make them more interesting.

16. 9gag (@9gag)

Funny user generated content and stories

I think most of us are quite familiar with 9gag and their hilarious content. With Instagram Stories, they brought their funny storytelling to another level!

9gag Story

How you could do this for your business: 

I believe most businesses aren’t like 9gag in terms of the amount of user generated content they have (thought it’s great if you do!). However, this does not mean we cannot learn anything from 9gag. I think 9gag is a great example of telling the same stories through different formats (on their website, Instagram posts, Instagram Stories and more).

Instagram Stories allow us to quickly click through a series of photos and videos, and that’s a great way to tell stories! It feels a bit like flipping through a photo book. So an idea could be:

  1. When you have a story or message to share with your audience, come up with a storyboard of the photos and videos you need.
  2. Download the materials onto your phone and add captions and drawings to make them more engaging and visually appealing.
  3. When the time is right, publish all of them together according to your storyboard.
  4. Bonus: You could use an Instagram post to briefly talk about the story and direct your audience to check out your Instagram Stories for more information.

17. Sean McCabe (@seanwes)

Give previews of your live events or courses

Sean McCabe used to be a hand lettering artist who charged five-figure rates until he launched a course teaching people how to do what he did and made six figures in the first three days. Since then, he has been teaching a variety of courses on building and growing a sustainable business.

He has been using Instagram Stories to share sneak peeks of his live training and why his followers should sign up for his courses.

Sean McCabe Story

How you could do this for your business: 

Personally, I like to find out as much as I can before I pay for a course, a product, or a service. Quite similar to a trial for a product or service, Instagram Stories could be an interesting way to share just enough to entice your followers into signing up for your paid courses or exclusive content.

Also, sharing a short memorable link makes it easier for your followers to act immediately.

18. Track Maven (@trackmaven)

Share top news in your industry

Track Maven is a marketing analytics software tool that helps marketers make smart decisions through understandable and actionable data. In line with their area of expertise, they share top marketing news every week in their Instagram Stories.

Track Maven Story

How you could do this for your business: 

I imagine most of us are already reading up a lot about our own industry so this just takes a tiny bit more effort:

  1. When reading through all the news, bookmark the top 3 to 5 pieces which are most shareworthy or most useful to the people in the industry or your customers.
  2. On Friday each week (or even every morning), share the news.
  3. Adding your thoughts about the news could help to make you a thought leader in your industry too.

Small plug

I would also love to give a shout out to Brian, our amazing social media manager, who has been rocking our Instagram Stories game too. Our Stories range from social media tips to influencer, brand and team member takeovers. If you are interested in learning more about social media, marketing and behind the scenes of a remote team, we are @buffer on Instagram!

Buffer Story

Over to you

There are definitely many more creative brands and folks out there that I did not come across during my research. I’d love to hear from you in the comments below if you know of any or if you feel that you are creating awesome Instagram Stories, feel free to share your handle below! Thank you!

Math Camp shuttering Shorts and Roll apps on August 30 following Pinterest acquisition

Shorts screenshot


More than a month after it was acquired by Pinterest, Math Camp announced in emails to users that it is shutting down its photo sharing apps Shorts and Roll at 12:01 a.m. on August 30. The company advises that you should download all your photos before then or else they’ll be removed permanently.

You may not have heard of Math Camp, but it’s likely that you’ve heard of the apps that it produced such as Shorts, Roll, and even Highlight, which was talked about at its debut during the South by Southwest interactive conference years ago. The team behind these services were acquired by Pinterest in July, but not the technology. It was said that the apps would be “sunsetted in the coming weeks” and now we have a definitive date.

At the time, Math Camp promised that it would open source many of its libraries and frameworks for developers to work on, but the consumer-facing apps will soon be no more.

The fate of Highlight is currently unknown, but it’s likely that it too will be discontinued on August 30 as the Math Camp team shifts to focus on Pinterest’s mobile discovery products.

Here’s an email users are receiving – the text is basically the same for both the Shorts and Roll announcement:

Last month we announced that we were being acquired by Pinterest and that Shorts would be shutting down.

We wanted to let you know that Shorts will officially be going offline this Tuesday, August 30th at 12:01am. Please make sure you share your final photos before then and download any from friends that you’d like to keep.

We can’t tell you how much we appreciate your using the app, and we hope to build lots of great new things for you down the road.

Thanks for using Shorts!

– The Math Camp team (Paul, Ben, Revant, Kris, Chris, Brian, Brandon, Christina, Alison, Jesse, Nicole, Hitesh and Noah)

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7 things that’ll give you a more productive iPad setup

The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you’ll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we may get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

ipad pro apple pencilMaking the move to an iPad Pro from a MacBook Pro as my primary home computer was the biggest shift in the way I do things since moving to Mac from Windows in 2008. 

Both transitions were very exciting, and I’m happy I made them, but there was a common question I found myself thinking as I started to seriously consider making the move: Will I be less productive?

Switching to a new platform means learning new ways to do things you know how to do perfectly already. Plus, it’s not like I’m unhappy with my MacBook; it’s just that there’s something about working on a tablet that’s really appealing to me.

Apple’s built-in hardware and powerful apps from the App Store have eased the transition greatly, but to get everything I used to do on my MacBook Pro done on the iPad I had to pick up a few accessories. Some of these accessories let me mirror the work I did on my MacBook Pro, and in other cases they let me do things I couldn’t have done before. Regardless, without these accessories I wouldn’t be able to get my day-to-day work done, or make headway into some fun side-projects.

If you’re considering the iPad-first lifestyle, these accessories will definitely come in handy.

 

An iPad stand

Amazon

I’ve written about it before, but I absolutely love this simple stand from TechMatte. It has one job – prop my iPad up so I can see what I’m typing at a comfortable angle – and it does that job perfectly. A lot of stands are just a single piece of plastic or aluminum, but this one actually has a plastic part that you can adjust depending on the circumstances.

When I’m not using it, the back part can be adjusted to sit almost flush with the main aluminum base, making it easy to store in a small backpack pocket. I’ve used this stand to watch movies and get work done on an airplane tray table; its small size and flexibility make it my go-to stand when I need to get work done.

TechMatte iPad Stand, $8.99, available on Amazon

A Bluetooth keyboard

Amazon

It’s no surprise there’s an Anker product on this list given how much I like their stuff in general, but this keyboard is a standout. I need a full-size keyboard when typing because my muscle memory is tied to Apple’s standard keyboard. That’s the main reason why I use an external Bluetooth keyboard and stand instead of a keyboard case, although that may change if I can find one I really like.

Instead, I use this keyboard in conjunction with my stand to type no matter where I am. Home, a cafe, on an airplane, you name it. It’s small and light enough to pack, while still being durable enough to survive an accidental drop on the floor.

This model is a little bigger than their newer keyboard, but I prefer the slightly larger key caps. You’ll need to keep some AA batteries on hand in case you run out of juice, but the battery life on this keyboard is pretty excellent, and I don’t find myself having to change them often.

Anker Bluetooth Keyboard, $13.99, available on Amazon

Apple Camera Connection Kit

Amazon

Bluetooth accessories rock, but if you need to plug an external device into your iPad, you’re going to have to get your hands on an Apple Camera Connection Kit. This dongle lets you hook up different pieces of hardware to your iPad, as long as the device is iOS compatible. The camera connection kit has existed for a long time, but this new version also has a lightning jack built-in, providing power to both your iPad and the external device.

Going forward, this is going to enable even more hardware vendors to make iOS-compatible peripherals, which is a big win for those who want to make the move from a traditional computer.

Apple Camera Connection Kit, $39.99, available at Amazon


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El día que Pepsi haría millonario a quien encontrara el 349… y el número estaba en 800 mil botellas

Era el año 1992 cuando el jefe del departamento de marketing de Pepsi se levanta con una gran idea. Se la traslada al resto de jefes en Pepsi-Cola Philippine Inc. y todos dan el visto bueno. Lanzarán en Filipinas un concurso irrechazable para una sociedad azotada por la pobreza. La posibilidad de hacer millonario a la persona que encuentre el número 349 en una botella. Sin embargo, el día del premio algo no va bien. El jefe del departamento recibe una llamada: “Jefe, hay un error, hemos lanzado 800 mil botellas con el 349”. Lo que ocurrió después se denominó la guerra de la cola.

Read more…

How Much Should You Spend on Paid Ads? Here’s My Data-Driven Formula

A few years back when I first started NeilPatel.com, I spent $66,372.09 on paid advertising through LinkedIn, Google AdWords, Retargeter, Perfect Audience, and StumbleUpon ads.

You might say that’s a lot of money.

It was. But I learned some valuable lessons.

I learned which platforms and networks work best for targeting which audiences with which ads.

Some of my takeaways?

LinkedIn, for example, provided an excellent return on B2B ads, while Google still reigned supreme for B2C. StumbleUpon’s conversion rate for paid products was woefully low.

The top three paid ad spots on Google’s SERPs, for example, get 41% of the clicks. Even the best SEO techniques will only expose you to 59% of the viewing audience, and Google’s knowledge graph and infoboxes are quickly cutting into that as well.

Marketing professionals across the board agree that pay-per-click advertising works. The hard part is getting set up with a solid PPC plan to serve as your foundation.

We need to know how much to spend, when to spend it, where to spend it, and how to spend it correctly.

Those are tough calls to make, especially if you’re a paid advertising newbie. The paid platforms can be complicated and confusing. What do you do with all these options, data, and metrics?

image04

To answer these questions and be successful, instead of playing a guessing game, we need information and cold hard data. 

How PPC works

First, a quick lesson in PPC, which you probably already know. I’m including it for the newbs (and a refresher for the pros-it never hurts!).

Google and other search engines allow you to purchase ad views on their platforms on a pay-per-click pricing model. The actual price is determined by the number of searches and ads running for a particular keyword or phrase.

A popular search term, such as “insurance,” can cost $59 per click to advertise, meaning you’ll have to pay Google $59 for every lead it gets to your website by displaying your ad at the top of the search results for the terms you bid on.

This isn’t your typical example, however, as “insurance” is actually the most expensive PPC keyword by a large margin.

These costs can be mitigated (and conversions improved) by targeting specific demographics, affinity groups, geographic locations, and mobile devices, which are generating more and more search traffic.

image01

Of course, search engines aren’t the only platforms for paid ads. Social networks and video ads are rising in popularity, as explained in this Search Engine Land article by Pauline Jakober.

Video ads in search results aren’t a reality yet, but with Alphabet owning both Google, the world’s largest search engine, and YouTube, the world’s largest video platform, it’s only a matter of time.

Determining CAC and LTV

CPC isn’t the same as your customer acquisition cost (CAC). What ultimately determines your CAC is your website’s conversion rate.

If each web visitor costs $59 to obtain and you’re only converting 50% of your visitors, the customer acquisition cost for your PPC campaign is actually double your CPC, or $118 in the example of insurance.

This doesn’t take into account the rest of the marketing budget either, which also includes radio, print, television, social media, billboard, event marketing, and other customer outreach initiatives.

The CAC is calculated by dividing all marketing expenses by the number of customers acquired in the same period. For example, if a company spent $10,000 on marketing in a year and acquired 10,000 customers as a result, its CAC is $1.00.

Balancing the CAC with the customer’s lifetime value (LTV) is how you create a successful business model.

image06

So long as the LTV is larger than the CAC, your marketing efforts are working, and you have a sustainable business model.

When the CAC rises above the LTV, you’re in trouble.

Because understanding this concept is critical, here’s a graphic to help make the lesson sink in:

image03

To calculate the LTV of a customer, you need to know how much each customer spends in an average purchase, how many purchases the average customer makes in a certain time period (day/week/month/year), and how long the average customer sticks around.

Profit margins, discounts, customer retention rate, and gross margins are all factored in to the final formula, which you can find here.

In the case of an insurance company, if an average policy costs $1,000 ($100 is profit), and the average customer is retained for 3 years, you’re making $300 for every $118 spent on your PPC campaign, which is close to the actual average.

Businesses make an average of $3 for every $1.60 they spend on AdWords.

I’m sure you want to double your money. We all do. But if everyone is advertising for the keyword “insurance,” they’re missing quite a bit of traffic. You need to check associated keywords.

Extending keyword searches

There are millions of searches for insurance every month, but you have no idea whether those people are looking for medical, life, business, home, phone, or auto insurance.

image00

It’s still worthwhile to advertise on a single keyword, but with such a high CPC, you shouldn’t pour all your budget into that one highly competitive keyword.

image07

“Car Insurance,” “insurance quotes,” “auto insurance,” “compare car insurance,” and “car insurance quotes” all have different prices for different search volumes. Spreading your budget across all these keyword phrases increases the chances that your ad is seen by people searching the web in different ways.

At this point, your overall CPC will be determined by the cost and frequency of each individual search term. You can afford to buy some traffic for “insurance” and “auto insurance” so long as it’s balanced out with “compare car insurance,” “insurance quotes,” and “car insurance quotes.”

You now have a potential pool of customers that’s three times the size of your original pool, which maximizes the reach of your ads.

Continue this research into five- and seven-word long-tail searches for the best results. For example, phrases such as “Best car insurance company in Arizona” or “Cheapest car insurance for 2005 Ford Mustang” are great ways to target specific regions or car owners.

The longer a search term, the more specific information a customer is typically looking for. While searches may be lower, bids will also be lower, allowing you to obtain some customers for $5 and others for $50 while still maintaining a low CAC.

Portioning budgets for each keyword is critical as this is one of two places where smart marketers maximize their ROI. The other is targeting specific customers using Remarketing lists for search ads.

Targeting the right customers

A few years ago, Google moved beyond focusing on just keyword searches to looking at contextual information about customers.

The most valuable result from this change was RLSA-remarketing lists for search ads.

RLSA lets you target customers who have visited your website previously.

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Bounce rates are high on websites, but just because a customer leaves doesn’t mean they’re not interested. Shoppers may visit a site 9 times before purchasing, so the more they visit, the further down the conversion funnel they may be.

Take a look at this sales funnel:

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For every 5,000 visitors, only 100 inquiries are received, so why waste ad money on those 100 when you should be focusing on converting the other 4,900?

Using RLSA, you can optimize bids to increase your ROI. Tirendo Tires, for example, increased sales by 22% and conversions by 163% simply by raising their bids on previous homepage visitors.

World Travel Holdings increased ROI by 30% by using RLSA to target previous site visitors for broad search terms (like “insurance” in the example above).

By adding the remarketing tag to your website, you allow Google to further segment your visitors and hyperfocus your PPC ad campaigns.

Of course, the downside to these PPC ad platforms is you can’t determine who is already a paying customer. I constantly receive ads for products and services I’ve already purchased, which I know is wasting the advertiser’s money.

You also have to be wary of disgruntled customers and employees who may purposefully click your ads without making a purchase. (Seriously, people do this in order to drive up the cost of your ad spend.)

Segmenting and targeting ads in any way is an essential step toward optimizing them and getting the most bang for your marketing buck.

Conclusion

PPC is still one of the most popular methods of advertising, with over $500 billion spent annually on it.

It can be exciting to envision massive ROI and all the extra sales you’ll be able to make by simply toggling some ads and letting them run.

Before spending any money on a campaign, however, it’s important to understand what keywords and searches have the best conversions for your site. Targeting these searches with ads moves you to the top of the search results, giving you optimal visibility.

Beyond just search terms, it’s also important to target customers at specific points in the sales funnel.

The actual cost of your PPC campaign isn’t as important as the ratio of CAC to LTV. It’s okay to spend a little more if you are marketing a more expensive product or a company with higher retention rates.

So long as your overall marketing budget doesn’t outweigh the lifetime ROI from customers, you’ve built a sustainable business model.

How much are you spending on paid search? Are you getting a solid ROI?

Why Apple Watch 2 doesn’t need cellular anyway

Many garments were rended and much hair torn last week over a report in Bloomberg that the next version of the Apple Watch would not arrived with cellular networking.

Setting aside some of the questions about the reporting of that story and Apple’s development timelines, allow me to share with you my nuanced, carefully considered, and thoughtful reaction to that news: meh.

Look, I get it: the ability to have your Apple Watch connected no matter where you are and let it function untethered from your iPhone seems like a nice addition. And I’m sure Apple will get there some day, but there are a few reasons why I think this is much ado about nothing.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Why Apple Watch 2 doesn’t need cellular anyway

Many garments were rended and much hair torn last week over a report in Bloomberg that the next version of the Apple Watch would not arrived with cellular networking.

Setting aside some of the questions about the reporting of that story and Apple’s development timelines, allow me to share with you my nuanced, carefully considered, and thoughtful reaction to that news: meh.

Look, I get it: the ability to have your Apple Watch connected no matter where you are and let it function untethered from your iPhone seems like a nice addition. And I’m sure Apple will get there some day, but there are a few reasons why I think this is much ado about nothing.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here