Can You Use Instagram Stories to Increase Sales?

Instagram added Instagram Stories as a way to compete with the app millennials are obsessed with, SnapChat. Now it’s become its own entity and brands are finding unique ways to use it towards their marketing and content efforts, from increasing online traffic to generating foot traffic to offering special deals.

What are Instagram Stories?

First, you may be saying to yourself, “I’ve seen these ‘Instagram Stories’ before but what are they exactly?” Great question. Instagram Stories is a feature that lets you post images, 15 second video clips, or text, that vanish in 24 hours. It also includes a “live” function, which we will only cover briefly today. Why would something so ephemeral be beneficial to your content strategy? Instagram Stories is a great tool to help your brand stay top of mind because they’re shown in real time. This means each time you add a story, your brand pops to the front of the line-up and your followers are more likely to see it. Also, the more often you post content that incentivizes users (i.e. coupon codes, secret sales), the more your followers will be trained to check your stories on a daily basis.

It might seem like a lot to digest, but don’t worry. We’re going to break it into seven very simple steps you can take to use Instagram Stories to increase sales.

1. Polls

If you’ve ever played around with Instagram Stories, you’ve likely come across these delightful, simple polls. As a brand, this is a great way to get immediate feedback about what your customers are interested in. For example, let’s say you run a nail polish company, and you’re having trouble deciding which color to release next. You can post two swatches and poll people on which one they’d be most excited about. You’ll gain instant feedback and you’re also helping to generate buzz for your upcoming product launch.

2. Offer Flash Discounts

Instagram Stories is the perfect place to announce a flash sale because it’ll expire within 24 hours. It’s also a way to reward users that are heavily invested in your brand because it’ll only be seen by customers who are constantly checking in.

3. Use Links In Your Stories

An important thing to note is that Instagram Stories becomes an exponentially more useful tool once you hit 10K followers. Currently, verified accounts or accounts that have over 10K followers have the ability to add links to their Instagram stories, which is huge because it means you’ll be able track traffic and conversions from Instagram Stories campaigns.

4. Influencer Takeovers

Is your brand thinking of working with influencers in your industry? If so, doing an Instagram Story takeover is a great way to get your audience engaged with your content. You can give an influencer free reign to engage with your users, promote particular products, and utilize their social media clout to help you gain new brand loyalists.

5. Behind the Scenes

Nowadays with social media, transparency is the name of the game. Some people DO want to see how the sausage is made. Afraid you don’t have anything interesting to show your customers? You’d be surprised. These behind the scenes Instagram Stories can cover everything from exclusive makeup tutorials to showing the baking process of your world famous cupcakes to revealing what goes into remodeling a storefront for opening. That’s right, you can literally turn watching paint dry into something fascinating.

6. Go Live

Want to explain the merits of a product or service in detail? Want to answer user questions immediately? Go live on Instagram Stories. Rather than limiting you to 15-second video clips, this allows you to live stream to your followers. When you go live, your profile image will appear at the top of follower feeds with an eye-catching, colorful ring around it. Once live, you’ll get real-time comments, likes, and questions from your customers.

7. Launch a New Product

Part of the challenge in marketing a product is building mystique and having control of the product’s story. Instagram Stories can help you build a curated launch campaign for any of your products. Depending on your brand aesthetics, you can upload anything from beautiful HD videos set to music or fun boomerangs that tease the product or service.


We know getting the full Instagram Stories download could be a little intimidating at first, but now you’re raring to go! Let us know how your experience is.

How a Fully Integrated B2B Marketing Campaign Delivered Results

Last September, Anderson & Vreeland prepared for their largest trade show of the year, LabelExpo Americas 2016. Inside their booth was some of the most cutting edge equipment in flexographic printing – the Flint nyloflex Xpress, the Xeikon ThermoflexX, and the AV Flexologic SAMM 800.

But the highlight for the company was the “Great Packaging Starts with a Great Workflow” exhibition. For months leading up to LabelExpo, A&V had unveiled an optimal printing process that began with the Hybrid Packz software, moved to GMG for color precision, and used the Screen Truepress Jet L350UV to print pristine and vibrant labels with a rapid turnaround. To showcase the workflow, the company partnered with Chicago’s Church Street Brewery to re-design the label for their seasonal Helles Bock and print the new label through this new process.

Inside the LabelExpo booth were bottles of freshly brewed and delicious Helles Bock for prospects to enjoy while they learned how the label on the beer they were drinking was developed.
It was the culmination of a five month integrated marketing campaign led by ATAK Interactive that would help the company sell 20% more product than they had at the previous LabelExpo.

Here’s how we built, executed, and delivered this successful campaign from start to finish.


Step One: Strategic Partnerships


The specialists at Anderson & Vreeland created its most efficient workflow using products from Hybrid, GMG, and Screen. Each business understood that to help move products, they needed to engage in a partnership that would highlight a process that was optimal for their equipment.

The next step was finding a brewery to partner with on the project. ATAK found the Church Street Brewery, an up-and-coming craft beer company based in the Chicago suburbs. Lucky for everyone involved, they were in need of a label.

Here’s an overview of each partner:

Hybrid Software

Digital pre-press workflow management solutions

GMG Color

Color management solutions and proofing software

Screen Truepress L350UV

Digital printing press for short- to medium-run label production

Church Street Brewing Every year, Church Street brewing produces an exclusive and limited anniversary beer. Called “Special Helles”. ATAK saw a great opportunity to design an eye-catching label to showcase the high-quality, short run capabilities of the software and digital press workflow.


Step Two: Campaign Creative


Before we could print anything, we needed a new label design.

Knowing the malty, robust quality of the Helles Bock style, ATAK’s Art Director and creative team took the theme of “Special Helles” and ran, creating an indulgent and playful original illustration for the label. Metallic accents provided an opportunity to further showcase the precision and quality of printing available with Anderson & Vreeland’s workflow expertise.


Developing a Core Message


ATAK Interactive developed a messaging and campaign plan that would leverage this campaign for the best possible results, by using both print and digital marketing channels to communicate this message and value.

Integrated Marketing Campaign: Great Packaging Starts With a Great Workflow

The commercial printing industry is full of companies who are always looking to optimize their efficiency. Anderson & Vreeland’s goal was to share the message that “Great Packaging Starts with a Great Workflow.”

This message is the core of what makes Anderson & Vreeland so influential in the flexographic printing industry. They have deep knowledge spanning the entire print process, and help their clients envision their entire printing workflow from start to finish, with the expertise to ensure it works exactly as intended. Their access to suppliers and knowledge of the software and equipment they provide is unparalleled.


Publishing a Whitepaper Content Series


Every step of the label design process was documented in a whitepaper, to be released in three phases over Summer 2016 to build up the campaign and expand its reach.

This whitepaper was accompanied by print collateral and a custom URL directing readers to a custom landing page on the Anderson & Vreeland website at futureoflabels.com, where they could access more information about the campaign by filling out a form that directly integrated with Anderson & Vreeland’s Salesforce CRM.

Each of these elements work together to create a marketing funnel, attracting leads to Anderson & Vreeland’s website. ATAK Interactive’s next move was to build promotions to attract prospects to the funnel campaign. LabelExpo 2016 was the perfect end-cap for this project, a popular industry event to make the brand shine.


Editorial + Print Advertising


In order to increase awareness and curiosity about having the workflow demonstrated on the LabelExpo show floor, we implemented an outreach campaign.

For this campaign, Anderson & Vreeland pinpointed Flexo Magazine and Label and Narrow Web magazines, the most influential publications in the flexographic printing industry.

Through August and September 2016, full-page print ads and belly band cover wrap ads were placed in these publications, including the issue of Flexo Magazine distributed at the LabelExpo event.


Sales Collateral


To support the A&V staff on the show floor, and provide a great take-home for booth visitors to show to management and colleagues, ATAK and Anderson & Vreeland developed a trifold brochure explaining the design, workflow, printing, and sales process to potential new customers. This brochure would be handed to booth visitors as they were watching the beer labels come off the printing press setup in the booth.

Click to see full-size PDF

Click to see full-size PDF


Step Three: Orchestrating an IMC Campaign


Executing an Integrated Marketing Campaign spanning across marketing channels throughout the year takes a project coordinator in touch with all parties to collect assets, execute strategy, and measure the results. ATAK’s project managers are experienced with running integrated marketing campaigns, from concept to execution, and this was no different.

To keep the campaign execution as painless as possible, Basecamp and Dropbox were used to organize assets, delegate roles, and organize deadlines.

The campaign was deployed in concert with Anderson & Vreeland, GMG Color, Screen, Hybrid Software, and Church Street Brewing. Proactive campaign management meant partners were always in the loop on the campaign’s status, and able to deploy the campaign to their own audiences and grow our reach.

Anderson & Vreeland began a content marketing campaign highlighting the capabilities of a digital equipment workflow with a series of blog posts in June, July, and August. Each of these was distributed in email and social media marketing, and boosted to new prospects with paid social media advertising.

  • Spring 2016

    • Anderson & Vreeland and ATAK Interactive pitched the campaign concept to partners Hybrid Software, GMG Color Management, and Screen, all of whom were preparing their marketing for Label Expo.
  • April 2016

    • Identified a brewery to be campaign partners for Label Expo. Church Street Brewing had the right schedule and marketing needs to partner up.
    • ATAK’s art department began developing the illustration for the label, and mocking up the first round of design.

    May 2016

    • The label design for Church Street Brewing’s Special Hell was approved by all partners, and finalized for printing at Label Expo.
    • Once finalized, ATAK’s art department collected visual assets from campaign partners to use in the integrated marketing creative.

    June 2016

    • Fine-tuning label design for metallic printing with campaign partners
    • Campaign landing page was designed, developed and shipped by ATAK’s web team: futureoflabels.com
    • The trifold brochure to be distributed at Label Expo was designed, and served dual purpose as a digital graphic or landing pages and social media.
    • The first whitepaper, “Chasing the Three-Foot Effect”, was completed. This was presented in a blog post and email marketing

    July 2016

    • The second whitepaper, “Chasing the Three-Foot Effect: Episode Two”, was completed. This was also presented in a blog post and through email marketing.

  • August 2016

    • The final whitepaper in the “Chasing the Three-Foot Effect” series is released. It is presented in a blog post and through email marketing.
    • The August issues of Flexo Magazine and Label and Narrow Web contain a full-page Workflow ad, linking to the landing page.

    September 2016

    • The three whitepapers are consolidated into a single document in preparation for Label Expo, and made available in the Future of Labels landing page.
    • Flexo Magazine’s September 2016 belly band advertisement promoting workflow whitepaper, and full-page interior ad.
    • The run-up to Label Expo meant a heavier email promotion schedule:

Step Four: Show Time at LabelExpo


At LabelExpo 2016, the campaign was poised to make a splash. The press workflow was moved in and ran flawlessly for the show’s 3-day run. This meant the eye-catching illustrated labels were being printed live on the show floor, in front of visitors. Anderson & Vreeland’s sales team were able to hand labeled beer bottles to booth visitors as they came off the press, after walking the prospect through the steps of the digital printing workflow on display.

To increase interest and foot traffic during the show, Anderson & Vreeland hosted a happy hour event serving bottles of Special Helles, and hosted on-site product demos with the workflow A&V built using Hybrid, GMG, and Screen’s products.

This was further capitalized with a live stream running the duration of the show, showing audio and video of activity from the booth and product demonstrations.


The Results


Anderson & Vreeland had one of the best performances in their trade show history, making more sales on-site, and collecting more leads to contact in the coming weeks. One sale made on the floor became a continuing marketing opportunity in the form of a case study.

This momentum led to the opportunity to continue this campaign through the end of 2016, with ongoing supporting content, print advertising, and future trade show strategy.

This strong performance also reinforced the relationships built between Anderson & Vreeland and the campaign partners, providing opportunities for bigger, more ambitious cross-promotional partnerships in the future.

In a B2B industry that doesn’t embrace digital marketing strategies as readily as others, the strategies used in Anderson & Vreeland’s campaign made a big impact on customers and competitors alike. ATAK was able to position A&V head and shoulders above the rest with a carefully managed campaign and message.

Thanks to a comprehensive marketing partnership approach, ATAK Interactive and Anderson & Vreeland were able to leverage a unique trade show concept into a business -to-business marketing success case.

Small Changes Lead to Big Numbers: A/B Tests to Run on Your Website’s Homepage

Consider your homepage the entryway to your online business. Here, you have the fleeting opportunity to impress upon your visitors… pretty much everything about your company. From the abstract (your brand personality and values) to the tangible (current promotions), every element on your homepage can stand to be optimized through A/B tests so that potential customers get the most out of their first visit.

In this post, we’ll guide you through some of the options worth implementing on your site’s homepage elements. Keep in mind that since the homepage is far on the sales funnel from the final purchase, the measure of success for a well-optimized homepage isn’t necessarily increased revenue, but lowered bounce rates, increased product page views, increased click-throughs, and so forth — essentially, any additional activity from the homepage onward indicates a win.


Starting From the Top


The header on your homepage is where you’ll find your logo and navigation. Run a few A/B tests on the placement of your logo. Will it go at the top right, center, or left? This may not seem like a change that will garner statistically significant results, but see if these variations make a difference in average time a user spends on your site.

Testing your search bar language is quick and easy so don’t ignore the opportunity to improve your site’s activity. Indicators of the success of this test can include increased product page views and increased average order value (AOV) due to the customer shopping for products that they hadn’t previously considered.

Take this example from Backcountry:

You’ll notice that the tabs go from what’s most profitable (new arrivals), onto serving customers who are looking for something specific (brands, then activities), then by broad categories for those who want to shop around (activities, women, men, kids), and then to the category of products that’s less desired and least profitable (sale).

What pages on your site do you want people to navigate to the most? Dedicate your header navigation to those pages and monitor the traffic you get on them. Based on the data in your findings, you can then move the tabs around to better serve your customers’ interests.

Also on Backcountry’s header is a search bar. If you’re planning to include a search bar in your header, think about the verbiage on it. What you say in your search bar could be the push that a customer needs to keep on shopping. In Backcountry’s case, their search bar language, “Search gear and clothing” tells the customer what type of products they sell thus serving a functional purpose.

However, search bar language can vary. Consider these alternatives:

  • Inspirational
  • Product Specific

    product specific search bar

    (this can be used as an opportunity to suggest some of your current best-sellers!)

Target uses a dropdown in its search bar to showcase its product selection:

A/B testing your search bar language is quick and easy so don’t ignore the opportunity to improve your site’s activity. Indicators of the success of this test can include increased product page views and increased average order value (AOV) due to the customer shopping for products that they hadn’t previously considered.


Above the Fold Content


“Above the fold” refers the space on a webpage that a visitor can see without having to scroll down. This is prime real estate for you to populate with captivating content.

In recent years, we’ve found rotating homepage sliders don’t work. They don’t garner more clicks, they either move too fast or too slow for the user to retain any valuable information, they aren’t compatible with or require too much loading for mobile (loading those huge images takes a lot of data!), or they’re even ignored by users due to their overabundance.

This website’s heat map shows its slider being left in the cold (heat maps show where clicks happen on a page):

So what does work? Run some A/B tests and find out. Take our website for example:

We use a short gif-like video as the background (but a still image works to the same effect) with a few lines of text that communicate our value, and two call-to-actions (CTA) that prompt the user to take the actions that we find most valuable at this point of the sales funnel: reading more about us and looking through our past work.

Test the image and language on your homepage header of your site. Will it be an aspirational image that acts as background to the words, or will it be more direct and promote current best selling products and promotions? Will it feature targeted content based on the customer’s demographic profile (yes, this can be done.)? When testing, reduced bounce rate means it’s working.

Furthermore, what will your call-to-action(s) be and where will it be placed? Test the possibilities to see what gets the most clicks.

You’ll also see that on our homepage, we didn’t devote the entire above-the-fold space to the hero image. Each of those squares underneath the hero image serves a functional purpose by further communicating what we do. They each link to their own page.

Apple cheekily does the same thing, using the space beneath the hero image to highlight their popular products:

If you’re going for a similar set-up, test out what works best occupying that sliver of space. Again, increased click-throughs indicate a win.

For all of these tests, install a heat map tool to see where users are clicking. You may think buttons are clear to find, but often they are not. This heat map is our favorite.


Below the Fold


How else are those boxes underneath the hero image handy? They encourage scrolling. That’s right, showing only the top of those boxes above the fold wasn’t without motive. They’re there to encourage you to scroll down and see what else the homepage has to offer.

Below the fold, test content that’s secondary in importance but still worthy of display. Retail stores often highlight current promotions or featured products.

Target’s immediate “below-the-fold” content is seasonally geared:

 

As you scroll further down, they gear content towards your demographic information:

On our site, we expand on your business’ value.

Evernote alternates the placement of its copy and image from left to right to encourage movement of the eye and scrolling down the page.

evernote 2

In each case, Target, ATAK, and Evernote didn’t miss the opportunity to include a call to action at the bottom of their “below the fold” content and neither should you. “The fold” doesn’t mean that no one sees what’s beneath it. As long as you keep the content interesting, everyone scrolls. If the content is interesting enough, they’ll click.

Here are some other examples of what you can put below the fold:

Testimonials.

 

Blog.

Social Media Feed.


Footer


Content in the footer stays pretty uniform between different websites. The standard features are an email sign-up, contact information including address, social links, site directory, and “fine print” information like privacy and/or store policy information, and copyright.

Other ideas to put in the footer:

  • Security logo for extra reassurance.
  • Awards your company received.
  •  
  • Any associations or affiliations that you’re a part of.

Think from the perspective of someone who can’t find what they’re looking for. The footer should have sufficient information to point them in the right direction. If you’re curious about how far down your visitors scroll on your site, an effective heat map will give you some perspective — the numbers may be greater than you think!

Be sure to add one last call to action in the footer to see what works and what doesn’t.

Remember, first impressions matter and thus, a lot of emphases is placed on the look, feel, and function of your homepage. These A/B test ideas can add up to a whole lot of value for your business. For more guidance on crafting the perfect homepage, contact us for a free website audit.

 

 

Is Your Website an Internet Relic?

Getting a new website live can feel like a gargantuan effort. For many business owners, once a new site is live, it’s something that they no longer concern themselves with. As time passes, website functions and expectations change. If your business website has been left on the shelf, it may have gathered a bit of dust in the meantime.

The Symptoms of an Internet Relic


Can You Edit and Update Your Site?


In 2017, a website needs to be a document that can be easily edited and updated. A content management system is the basis of most websites, but it wasn’t a few years ago. If you can’t easily update the text on the pages of your website yourself, it might be time to have a more modern website to be built.

Our preferred website content management system is WordPress, which is open source and user-friendly. This way, business owners can keep their website up to date, and add their expertise to their website through a blog. It’s a great way to promote events, and changes in your industry, as well as get some search engine traffic benefits.


Does Your Website Support Mobile Phones?


If your website can’t be visited easily from a mobile phone or tablet, you’re in relic territory.  A responsive website is a must-have for modern search traffic and website visitors. If you do only one of these – fix this!


Is Your Website Interactive?


It’s important to decide what an interactive website means for your company. For some, this means that an interested customer can enter their information into a form to send an inquiry to your sales team. Usually for a business-to-business website, this means contact forms, some email automation, and blog commenting.

When it comes to a website with a more social focus, like a retail ecommerce business, interactivity can go to a whole new level. Interactive websites can personalize a visitor’s experience every time they come back to the website. For a clothing site, this may involve the proper seasonal selections, international currency options, and remembering a customer’s clothing sizing preferences.

Basic interactivity is now the expectation for any website – customers want a way to contact your organization, and a way to explore what you offer, sell, or do. If you don’t add interactivity to your website, you may be losing customers to sites that provide it.


Can Your Website Give You Data?


Modern marketing needs information to survive! Google Analytics is a free baseline for collecting website visitor information. Google analytics can be used for SEO, but it can also provide information about the paths visitors take on your website, and how they take the actions that your organization needs for online lead generation.

Website data can be collected beyond google analytics with tools that provide heatmaps, live chat to offer an instant customer contact, as well as advertising tools that can help you understand your digital audience.


What To Do If Your Website is an Antique


So, it turns out you’re holding an aging website in your databases. What’s the next step?

First things first: Think about what you want your website to be able to achieve. Your website can get sales, generate new leads, educate visitors, provide content, and nearly any other goal you can think of – as long as your marketing team can help you communicate that goal to your customers.

Next, do a little competitor research. What is your biggest competition doing with their website?

Don’t get too deep into assuming everything they’re doing on their website is working, but do take note of common features, language, and functionality in these websites.

After that comes a fun step: what website styles fit your company? Look at some popular websites and think about the parts of their design and functionality that you really enjoy. How can you translate that to fit your brand?

Finally, find the right partner to build it. With whichever web design agency you choose, make sure the communication is clear and you know exactly what you are getting. A good web design company will explain what is in the project scope and which opportunities exist outside of it. Lastly, you want to develop a long-term relationship with the company that builds your website, so before moving forward, consider the personalities of the team involved and make sure you want these people in your professional life.


In the Meantime…


A website redesign can also be a great time to refresh your brand identity, your branding materials, and the way you talk about what you do. The right agency can make this part of a new website design, creating merchandising and content marketing opportunities that will connect customers with your new branding.

In the end, an old website isn’t the end of the world – but it could mean that you are missing out on business opportunities to competitors with a more responsive, interactive digital presence. It’s not about following every new trend anymore; having a great website is something nearly any company should be able to do for its customers.


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