Three Effective Email Templates for Dealing with Customer Complaints

Why Do Customers Complain?

Customers complain when they feel frustrated.

That doesn’t mean that customers only complain when they can’t do something. Frustration happens any time the results of an action don’t match the expectation—when you do something and it doesn’t turn out how you thought it would.

These frustrating moments can occur at any point in your customer’s shopping experience.

You need to anticipate and eliminate these opportunities for frustration, so that your customers can discover, purchase, and enjoy your products without hitting any roadblocks (and without sending you a complaint about their less-than-stellar experience).

The Most Common Sources of Frustration for Customers

While complaints can take many forms, there are a few key things that can leave customers dissatisfied if they aren’t handled properly. If you can master these critical issues, your business will start getting less complaints and more happy customers instead.

Keeping your customers happy is all about managing expectations. Most customer complaints are caused by a disconnect between expectation and reality, so you need be able to more accurately align your customers’ expectations with likely outcomes.

Despite your best efforts, you may still get customer complaints from time to time.

It’s important to not let these complaints eat away at you. Instead, see them as a chance to make your store better. Try to look past the negative feedback and uncover the lesson at the core of the complaint.

Remember: If someone is complaining, it means they’re looking for a solution.

They aren’t trying to hurt you. They aren’t out to get you. They’re frustrated and they need help.

As a business owner, it might not be your fault, but it is your responsibility. You need to deal with these complaints and find a solution that works.

It isn’t always easy to come up with the right words, especially if you’re dealing with a particularly emotionally-charged message. But with the right templates, writing a response can be a lot less stressful.

It’s crucial that you don’t just copy and paste these templates verbatim. Customers can spot a canned response from a mile away. Instead, use them as a guide for crafting a helpful and unique email.

Here are three basic email templates that you can use as a jump-off point for responding to complaints.

1. The Proactive Response

If you notice something wrong with a customer’s order, you need to reach out to them to let them know that you’ve corrected it—even if they haven’t complained about it yet.

If you really want to let them know you care, include a discount code to make sure they come back again and that their faith in your store hasn’t been shaken by a minor misstep.

[CUSTOMER NAME],

Thank you for shopping with [YOUR BUSINESS]! Unfortunately, due to [CAUSE OF ERROR], your order was [ERROR WITH ORDER]. We’ve [CREDITED YOUR ACCOUNT/RESHIPPED YOUR ORDER/FIXED THE ISSUE] and you will still receive your order via your selected shipping method.

We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience and we are happy to offer you [DISCOUNT/PROMOTION] for your next purchase. Simply use this code at checkout: [DISCOUNT CODE].

If you have any questions or require additional assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact us at [YOUR PHONE NUMBER] or via email at [YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS].

Thank you,

[YOUR NAME]

 

2. The Yes Response

If a customer complains, you need to be able to resolve their issue quickly and competently.

According to American Express, 60% of customers always share their negative customer service experiences, meaning it sometimes only takes one instance of poor customer service to start a bad reputation for your brand. That’s a risk you can’t take.

Instead, you need to use empathy and a little creativity to come up with a solution that will satisfy your customer and keep them coming back.

Hi [CUSTOMER NAME],

Thank you for reaching out. I am so sorry to hear about your trouble with [ISSUE].

I’ve gone ahead and [SOLUTION] as an apology for any inconvenience you may have experienced. I know that [ISSUE] can be incredibly [FRUSTRATING/ANNOYING/EMOTION] and I do hope that you try ordering from [YOUR BUSINESS] again in the future.

Thank you for giving us a try and if there’s anything else that I can do for you, please let me know!

Best,

[YOUR NAME]

3. The No Response

In some scenarios, there might not be a solution for your customer’s problem.

Sometimes customers will have negative feedback about things like design or product updates that there will be no immediate solution for. However, these can be great opportunities for learning more about how customers use your products and how your business can grow in the future.

As long as you respond thoroughly and with compassion, your customer will know that their opinion has been heard and they may give your business another shot.

Hi [CUSTOMER NAME],

Thank you for reaching out. Sorry for the trouble! / I am so sorry to hear that. Would you mind telling me more about [SUGGESTION]?

At this time, we are unable to offer [SUGGESTION]. However, it does sound like a great idea and I have passed your feedback onto our team. I definitely understand how [FRUSTRATING/ANNOYING/EMOTION] it can be to deal with [ISSUE].

I really appreciate your input and I do hope you’ll give us another try. If there’s anything else I can do for you, please let me know.

Best,

[YOUR NAME]

Create a Better Shopping Experience for Your Customers

Customer complaints aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but a satisfied customer is much better than an upset one.

Now that you understand why your customers complain, it’s time to get out there and give them the best shopping experience possible. After all, your business is here to serve your customers, so their thoughts and opinions need to be at the core of your strategy.

Have any more questions about dealing with customer complaints? Let us know in the comments below!

This article was written by Kevin Donnelly and originally appeared on https://www.shopify.com/blog

How to Build an Email List that Builds Your Ecommerce Business

Picture your website traffic as a big funnel.

At the top of the funnel is all of the raw traffic that comes to your site. The next level down in the funnel is narrower, and these are only those visitors who’ve interacted with your brand in some way (e.g., by reading your blog, following you on social media, or giving you their email address). The bottom level of the funnel, and the smallest, includes those people who’ve taken the plunge from interacting with your brand to making a purchase.

Convincing someone to give you their email address is much easier than convincing them to buy something, since it doesn’t cost anything except the ten seconds it takes to sign up. Once you have someone’s email though, you have the opportunity to follow up with them over time and eventually move them from the middle of your funnel to the bottom where they become a customer.

But how can you get that traffic into your funnel and convince people to give you their email address? And then how can you effectively build a relationship with them until they remember you, want your product, and pull out their credit cards?

Let’s dive into some strategies to first build up an email list and then effectively market to it.

Part 1: How to Build Your Email List

1. Use ads to drive traffic to a landing page

The fastest way to start building your email list is to send quality traffic to a landing page. By quality traffic, I mean that it needs to be people who are likely to be interested in your products. Your marketing budget will be much more effective if you carefully choose who to spend it on.

For example, Facebook allows you to show ads to people who are in your target audience. You can choose what age, gender, relationship status, location, and interests you want to target with your ads.

My online shop sells survival knives, so I set up a Facebook ad targeting men ages 18-50 located in the United States who have expressed interest in survivalism and bushcraft. I was able to send traffic to a landing page for about $0.08 per click. The landing page offered a weekly newsletter containing survival articles and gear reviews, and about 15% of the visitors signed up for my newsletter. Within 4 weeks I went from less than 50 to over 1,000 email subscribers.

It’s important to note that sending traffic to your shop’s homepage is not your only option – you should also consider creating a dedicated landing page with a clearly-defined offer and extremely visible signup form. A good landing page will be free from distractions and focus on asking people to sign up in exchange for a newsletter, downloadable resource, or free course of some kind (more on that later).

Here is the landing page that I used to build my email list for my survival knife shop. You can view the actual page here.

1. Use ads to drive traffic to a landing page

If you’re interested in adding a landing page like this to your Shopify site, I’ve made a video tutorial showing you how.

In addition to Facebook ads, another source of qualified traffic is paid Reddit advertising. Reddit is a popular online community divided into “subreddits,” which are groups centered around different interests. For example, there are subreddits dedicated to talking about survivalism, ecommerce, gaming, woodworking, and pretty much any hobby or interest you can think of.

Reddit allows you to buy ads that show on specific subreddits, so that you’re only paying to show ads to people who are interested in your niche. Campaigns start at $5, so it’s super easy and cheap to test it out and send traffic to a signup landing page.

Fair warning: the Reddit community is unique, and you’ll want to be familiar with “reddiquette,” explore the site, and do some research on how to advertise to Reddit users before jumping in.

2. Offer a discount code in exchange for an email address

An often-used method of getting email subscribers is to have a popup window that offers a discount code in exchange for an email signup. This method is most effective for encouraging people who are already browsing your products or reading your blog to sign up to your email list. In my experience, a lot of people will sign up for the discount code but won’t make a purchase right away, which is why it’s important to nurture that relationship over time.

JustUno is an app that allows you to set this type of offer up, and they have a free plan you can start with to try it out. Simply generate a discount code, then plug that into the JustUno app, customize the text that will appear on the widget, and you’re all set.

WOD Superstore is an ecommerce site that uses JustUno to offer a discount code to their visitors in exchange for an email address. Notice the big kettlebell on the left with a “Save 3% on your order” offer. When that kettlebell is clicked, a window pops up with an email signup form, and it instantly reveals a coupon code upon signup.

2. Offer a discount code in exchange for an email address

3. Hold contests and giveaways on Facebook

ProClip USA, a company who sells smartphone mounts for the inside of your car, holds monthly giveaways of their products on Facebook. Visitors can be entered into the drawings by first liking ProClip’s Facebook page and entering their email, and then can enter more times for a better chance to win by sharing the giveaway with their friends.

3. Hold contests and giveaways on Facebook

Giving away one of your products or a gift card to someone who enters a contest on your Facebook page can be a powerful way to both build your email list and social media following. This tactic can generate buzz about your brand on Facebook and build your social following, in addition to collecting email addresses.

Make sure to use a great photo of the product you are giving away, so that it catches people’s attention in their busy newsfeeds and is shareable. If you’re giving away a gift card, you could make a collage of your best-looking or most popular products to feature on the contest page.

A few tools you can choose from to create Facebook contests are WooBox and Rafflecopter.

4. Have an email signup box in your site footer or sidebar

4. Have an email signup box in your site footer or sidebar

It never hurts to have a regular, old-fashioned email signup box on your website for anyone who wants to subscribe even without being motivated by one of the above options.

This is especially effective if you have a blog with high-quality regular content, as people will be more likely to subscribe in order to be notified when you have fresh content.

Ok, so now that you’re building up a big list of subscribers, how can you nurture those leads and move them toward a purchase?

Part 2: How to Leverage Your Email List to Boost Sales

1. Publish a newsletter

A regular email newsletter is a good way to keep your email list warm without being too “salesy.” You can base the newsletter on your latest blog posts, or even curate content from other sites in your niche.

For example, I send out a weekly newsletter to my survival newsletter subscribers. The newsletter includes the first few paragraphs of my latest blog post, with a link to read the full post on my blog. I also curate several links to survival gear reviews on other websites and a few survival articles from other blogs. Finally, I include a “featured survival knife,” which has a picture of one of my products and a link to view more details (and hopefully make a purchase!).

By regularly sending this type of newsletter, you can build your reputation as an expert in your niche and nurture your relationship with subscribers. Since you’re regularly providing free, quality content, you’ll get subscribers in the habit of opening and reading emails from you, rather than mentally categorizing your emails as junk mail.

Huckberry is an example of a brand with an awesome newsletter. It’s got great writing, a preview of their latest blog posts, and also contains a lot of featured products, but is so well-done that it doesn’t feel like you’re being sold to.

1. Publish a newsletter

2. Send a drip email sequence

Another way you can interact with your email subscriber list is by setting up a drip sequence (a series of autoresponders). An autoresponder is an email that you set up to automatically be sent to new subscribers at a certain time after they initially sign up.

For example, your landing page could offer a free email course on a subject related to your niche. New subscribers would automatically receive this course broken into several emails over the course of a few days, weeks, or months after signing up.

The advantage of an autoresponder series over a newsletter is that it doesn’t require you to constantly create new content–once you write and set up the series, it’s all automated for new subscribers.

For example, rather than my weekly newsletter (or perhaps in addition to it), my email signup landing page could offer a 7-week email course teaching a variety of wilderness survival skills, with emails being sent once a week for a total of 7 emails.

You might want to set up two landing pages – one that offers a weekly newsletter, and one that offers a free course. Then, send traffic to both pages and see which one converts better. Every audience is different, so it’s always a good idea to test and see what works best for your niche.

Autoresponders like this can be easily set up using an email marketing service like MailChimp or Aweber. For an email service that’s especially focused on this type of autoresponder series, check out Drip.

3. Holiday & seasonal promotions

A more traditional form of email marketing is to notify subscribers of special offers based on upcoming holidays or the time of year. You might want to let your subscribers know about a Black Friday sale, an after-Christmas sale, or a spring clearance sale.

You can also remind people about upcoming holidays like Mother’s Day, or even send them a “happy birthday” email with a special discount code.

Here’s an example of a holiday promotional email sent before Christmas by one of my favorite brands using Shopify, Ugmonk.

3. Holiday & seasonal promotions

4. Subscriber-only discounts

Whether you send a regular newsletter, an autoresponder series, or just send emails about special promotions, you can always include discount codes for your subscribers to boost their motivation to make a purchase.

It is possible to generate unique discount codes for each person on your mailing list, but in my experience this is more trouble than it’s worth. I’d recommend instead generating a single discount code that can be used an infinite number of times, but making sure that it is only available for a certain time period. If you do this, make sure to mention in your email copy that the discount code expires on a certain date.

This type of limited-time offer serves two purposes: first, it prevents customers from using the code multiple times at any time in the future that they want to, and second, it creates a sense of urgency that encourages subscribers to purchase something now rather than waiting until later.

5. Notify your list of social media contests & giveaways

An email list can also be leveraged to give a nice boost to your social media presence. Let’s say, for example, that you’ve invested in advertising to drive traffic to a landing page and build up your email list, but you don’t yet have as many social followers as you’d like.

To achieve your goal of increasing your social following, you can hold a giveaway as mentioned above in Part 1. Once the contest is underway, send an email to your subscribers letting them know that they can enter the drawing for a free product or gift card by liking your Facebook page or whatever social platform you’re working on.

This strategy helps to engage your email subscribers in yet another interaction with your brand, which can not only help those subscribers move down the funnel closer to a purchase – it can also help your subscribers spread the word about your products to their own friends and followers. Exposing your brand to the social media networks of your email subscribers can help your brand to reach even more people and draw them into your funnel.

 

This article was posted by Leighton Taylor. He publishes a blog and podcast, Ecommerce Pulse, where he discusses ecommerce strategy, interviews experts, and documents his own journey of building and growing an online store.

The Beginner’s Guide to Facebook Custom Audiences

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Paid advertising is a tricky business. With careful planning and tracking, it can be a lucrative and reliable source of leads and sales. But, it can also be an expensive lesson.

The more you know about the people you’re advertising to, the better your ads will perform. This is why many business owners love advertising on Facebook. There are so many options for audience targeting.

One of my favorite options is Facebook Custom Audiences. With Custom Audiences, you can retarget people who have interacted with your business already. For example, customers and website visitors.

When you market to a Custom Audience, you know exactly who is seeing your ads. Your messaging can be laser-targeted. This will help you increase your conversion rate and get a better return on investment.

Types of Facebook Custom Audiences

There are three types of Custom Audiences. With each type, you can choose smaller segments of your audience. The more specific you get, the more effective your campaign will be.

1. Customer List

Use customer data, such as email addresses and phone numbers, to build a Custom Audience. You can upload your entire list, or smaller sections of it. As long as they use the same contact information with Facebook, you’ll be able to advertise to them. Remember that you must have permission. You can’t just upload any random email address or phone number.

2. Website Traffic

Advertise to anyone who has visited your website in the past 180 days, as long as they’re also logged into Facebook. It’s up to you to choose the time frame and decide exactly which website visitors to target based on the pages they visit. For example, you could target people that only viewed product pages in the last 30 days.

3. App Activity

If you have a mobile app, you can also create a Custom Audience based around app activity. Market to anyone who has engaged with your app in the last 180 days, as long as they’re also on Facebook.

For this post, we’re going to focus on the customer list and website traffic options since they are the most common.

How to Use Facebook Custom Audiences

There are hundreds of ways to use Facebook Custom Audiences. You can select from a variety of parameters to get very specific about who you target. As a result, you can create better, more optimized ads. Here are a few of my favorite uses.

1. Grow Your Facebook Audience

Generally speaking, email should be your preferred contact information for leads and customers. If you have an ecommerce store, getting Facebook likes as a first step is not the goal. Instead, your goal should be to make a sale, or collect leads that you can sell to later. For that reason, encouraging website traffic to connect with you on social media trying to build your social media audience on your website is not a good idea. It distracts from the action you actually want visitors to take.

Build your Facebook audience by retargeting subscribers after they have left your website. At this point, you already have their email address so it’s safe to shift focus to page likes. Plus, because these people are already familiar with your brand, they will be more likely to respond to your ads.

2. Upsell Existing Customers

You can use Custom Audiences to create a list of people who have already purchased something from you. If you have more than one thing to sell, this is a great way to improve your customer lifetime value. According to Marketing Metrics, “The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%. The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%.”

If you have related products or accessories, offer them in an ad targeted at recent shoppers. Using a special, time-sensitive promotion will encourage them to take action right away.

Example of an upsell ad

3. Target People Who Abandoned Their Cart

What about the people who didn’t make a purchase? On average, Only 2% of shoppers convert on their first visit to a store. This targeting option allows you to use ads to follow up with the other 98%. Using your website traffic, you can reach out to people who placed items in their cart but didn’t follow through with the purchase.

There are many reasons why people abandon their carts. Often they just got busy and didn’t get a chance to complete their purchase. But if they added something to their cart, there’s a good chance they want to buy. Followup up with them quickly on Facebook before they forget or, worse, buy it somewhere else.

4. Sell to Active Subscribers

People who have never heard of your business before are the hardest people to sell to. Most of us don’t just visit a website for the first time and buy something. We want to get to know and trust the company first. That’s why it’s hard to sell to strangers on Facebook.

Improve your conversion rate by selling to active subscribers—the people who open your emails. Not only have they heard of your brand, they liked it enough to hop on your list and actually read what you have to say. Use your email service provider to find out who your active subscribers are and add them to a Custom Audience on Facebook. These are great people to target with product ads.

5. Get Feedback from Customers

Feedback is hugely valuable to business owners. The best feedback comes from the people who have given you their money: existing customers. Getting regular feedback will help you make sure your customers are happy. Even better, feedback is a great source of marketing and product ideas.

Use Facebook to follow up with customers after they make a purchase and ask them to fill out a survey. If you want to improve your odds of getting completed surveys, you can run a contest to incentivize it.

6. Facebook Dynamic Product Ads

Most Custom Audiences need manual setup. This is especially true if you want to target website visitors based on the products they looked at. For websites with a lot of pages, this becomes impractical pretty quickly.

Facebook Dynamic Product Ads offer a more automated solution. Website visitors see ads based on the products they looked at, and how close they came to checking out. You only need to set the parameters and create the ad template. After that, it runs automatically.

7. Build Your Email List

Building an email list is a good idea for any online business. It’s the most reliable way to keep in touch with both active and potential customers. While list building generally happens on your website, you can use Facebook to build your list, too.

By targeting people who have visited your website, you’ll get more email subscribers. Website visitors already know you so they’re more likely to sign up than complete strangers.

Don’t Forget Exclusions

One of the things that make Custom Audiences so powerful is the ability to exclude people. For example, if you run an ad to get website visitors on your email list, make sure you exclude current subscribers.

Similarly, if you’re using Facebook to sell to website visitors and you only have one product to sell, people are probably only going to buy from you once. Save money by excluding anyone who has already completed a purchase.

Failing to use exclusions is the number one mistake I see business owners making with Custom Audiences on Facebook. Constantly advertising to people who have already converted is expensive. Always think about how you can segment your audience further by excluding people.

How to Set Up Facebook Custom Audiences

The most common Custom Audiences for online store owners are Email Custom Audiences and Website Custom Audiences. These are the two we’ll focus on today.

Website Custom Audiences

Setting up a Website Custom Audience takes a few steps.

Step 1: Create Your Custom Audience Pixel

The first step is to create your Custom Audience Pixel in the Ad Manager. A Custom Audience Pixel is just a fancy term for a snippet of code you put on your site that talks to Facebook and tracks your visitors. If you’re comfortable using Power Editor, you can also create it there. If you have access to multiple Ad Accounts, make sure you select the right one. Each Ad Account only gets one pixel.

The Ad Manager can be accessed from your business’ Facebook page on the right-hand side where it says “Promote”. You should see “Go to Ads Managers” at the bottom of the dropdown.

Where to find Facebook Ad Manager

Once you’re in the Ad Manager, select “Audiences” from the dropdown menu under “Tools”.

Where to find Audiences in Ad Manager

If you have any Custom Audiences already set up, you’ll see them here. To create a new audience, click on “Create Audience” and “ Custom Audience”.

Where to create Custom Audience in Ads Manager

You should now see a popup with three options. Click on “Website Traffic”.

Select a Custom Audience

If you haven’t created a pixel before, you’ll be prompted to do so now. You’ll be given a few lines of code to place on your website. If you’re not on Shopify, copy the entire code and click “Create Audience”.

If you are on Shopify, scroll through the code and look for a string of 15 numbers. That’s your Pixel ID. Copy this number and click “Create Audience”.

Custom Audience Pixel Code Sample

Step 2: Install the Pixel on Your Website

In order for your pixel to work properly, it needs to be displayed on every page of your website. The best place to put the code is in the <head></head> section of your index page.

If your store is on Shopify, the process is much simpler. In your Shopify Admin, navigate to “Settings”→ “Online Store”.

Shopify admin

Scroll down to the Facebook Pixel section and paste your Pixel ID.

Where to place Facebook Pixel ID

Click “Save” and you’re done! Once you’ve added the code to your website, you can use the Facebook Pixel Helper in Chrome to make sure it’s working properly.

You only have to do this once for each website you want to promote.

Step 3: Create Your Audiences in Facebook

Now that you’ve created and installed your pixel, it’s time to start creating some Custom Audiences. To create your first audience, follow step one again to set your parameters.

For each website custom audience you create, you have five options.

  1. Anyone who visits your website.
  2. People who visit specific pages.
  3. People visiting specific pages but not others.
  4. People haven’t visited in a certain amount of time.

Selecting a Website Audience

Within in each option, you can choose a time frame between 1 and 180 days. Make sure you name your audiences carefully so you remember what they are later. This is especially important if you have multiple websites sharing one pixel.

You’ll likely want to experiment with different audiences as you come up with campaign ideas and publish new content on your website.

In the meantime, there are a few custom audiences I like to set up on every new website.

All Website Traffic – 1 Day
All Website Traffic – 7 Days
All Website Traffic – 30 Days
All Website Traffic – 90 Days
All Website Traffic – 180 Days

For each of the above examples, you only need to add your domain and choose the right time frame, as seen below.

Anyone who visits your website Custom Audience

Let’s go through a a couple more examples.

Get Feedback From Customers

To get feedback from recent customers, create a Custom Audience that targets people who visit your order confirmation page. This should be a page they can only access after placing an order.

Customer feedback audience creation

Website Visitors Who Don’t Convert

You can include an exclusion to target website visitors who don’t convert. To do this, include traffic to your landing page, sales page, product page, or shopping cart, but exclude traffic that made it to your order confirmation or thank you page.

Abandoned cart Custom Audience

Keep in mind the example above is just that: an example. You’ll need to use your own custom URLs to do this.

Email Custom Audiences

Email Custom Audiences are much easier to set up. Before doing anything in Facebook, you’ll need to gather your list of email addresses. If you are using customer phone numbers, the process will be the same.

I recommend uploading your entire customer list right away. However, you can also upload segments of your list such as people who subscribed from a specific form, people who subscribed after a certain date, or people who clicked on a specific link. Segments like these can be created in most email service providers.

You have two options for uploading your customer lists: copying and pasting the data or uploading it as a .csv file. Copying and pasting makes sense for shorter lists, but longer lists should be exported from your email service provider and uploaded as a .csv file. Before uploading, make sure that all the email addresses (or phone numbers) are listed in a single column with no other information.

Creating email custom audience

If you happen to host your email list with MailChimp, you can can connect Facebook directly to your email list instead of uploading or copy and pasting.

Once uploaded, Facebook will try and match the customer data up with real Facebook users. If you have at least 20 people in an audience, you’ll be able to start advertising to it.

Finally, remember to update your email custom audiences from time to time. Facebook does not do this automatically.

Important Notes

There are a couple important details about Facebook Custom Audiences to keep in mind.

  1. Each ad account only gets one pixel. This means that if you run multiple websites, you’ll be using the same pixel for all your websites. Keep this in mind when creating and naming your website custom audiences.
  2. In order to protect the privacy of Facebook users, you can only advertise to an audience of 20 or more people. If your website isn’t getting much traffic yet, you may need to use longer time frames until it grows.
  3. You won’t be able to pull all of your website traffic or customer data into a Custom Audience. Not everyone who visits your website will be logged into Facebook. Similarly, people on your email list may use a different address for their Facebook account.

This article was written by Casandra Campbell

How to Build a Killer Instagram Following and Increase Your Sales

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With over 2 billion active users worldwide, social media has become a terrific channel for businesses to connect with their customers, build brand awareness, and improve their marketing strategy.

And, if your target audience loves visuals, then you cannot afford to ignore the platform that sees 70 million photo updates everyday…

In particular, businesses belonging to the fashion, travel or food industry have a terrific opportunity to engage with their audience on the app you can download for free -Instagram.

Yet, only 30% of businesses are active on social media have an Instagram account. You might think that low business adoption rate will mean that you’ll face lower competition and see higher social engagement and more free Instagram followers.

I’ve put together 5 tips to help you gain more free followers on Instagram, increase your engagement rate with your target audience and drive sales via better brand awareness.

1. Load up your updates with relevant Hashtags

You might already know the effectiveness of popular hashtags in reaching a targeted audience on Twitter.

instagram - hashtags

 

But, how important are they on the Instagram website?

I would say they are more important than all other social media accounts and platforms. Popular hashtags are the language in which free Instagram followers speak. A power user can be found loading even up to 30 hashtags in their update – the hashtag limit per post.

hashtags 2

Note: You won’t need to worry about hashtag fatigue on Instagram. Rather, more popular hashtags equates to more likes on your Instagram photos.

So, how do you find relevant and popular hashtags to add to every Instagram photo?

The process is similar to performing keyword research – Record relevant hashtags that your competitors and brand advocates are using in their updates and use this knowledge to gain followers.

You can also scroll through the 100 most popular hashtags compiled by Webstagram here. I’ve included the top 20 in the screenshot below.

Instagram - top hashtags

 

Adding popular hashtags will expand your post’s reach, but make sure that you use only the ones that are relevant to your products and suit your brand personality.

Otherwise, you’ll only see a short-term increase in your engagement, but your new free Instagram followers won’t convert into additional sales.

Moreover, if you integrate less popular hashtags in your posts, then you’ll appear at the top of the search feeds for them. Scout low-competition Instagram hashtags (much like targeting long-tail keywords in your blog posts).

Insellycom uses a variety of Instagram hashtags in their updates, including popular ones (like #fashion), moderately popular ones (like #fashiondaily) and less popular ones (like #fashiontrend).

hashtags 3

 

You can also scout for relevant popular hashtags by your product and brand categories and then group them in Evernote. Richard runs an eCommerce business and he uses this technique to efficiently derive more engagement from the free Instagram platform.

hashtags 4

Note: If you have not been using hashtags in your previous posts on instagram, simply revisit your older updates and add relevant hashtags in the comments. Your post will start showing up in the Instagram feed for your added hashtags. You’ll see a bump in your engagement as well as plenty more free Instagram followers rolling in.

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2. Host a photo contest to engage your followers and expand your brand’s reach

Broadly there are 3 kinds of Instagram contests. “Like to win” and “email gated” are less participative. I recommend that you to launch the third type, a hashtag UGC (user-generated content) contest.

Inviting your Instagram community and encouraging them to create visual user generated content will deepen your relationship with them, besides significantly increase your brand visibility and gain more followers in the long run.

Deftones conducted a photo contest that resulted in 20,000 new Instagram followers and 1,300 new Instagram posts tagged #deftones within 3 months. People love adding profile pics as it ups their engagement with their own Instagram community – so give them a reason to do this.

So, how do you launch your first contest?

Pick a goal and define the metrics for evaluation of your contest’s performance. It can read like “increasing my free Instagram follower count by 25%” or “create 300 posts with @YourInstagramHandle”.

You can conveniently collect relevant posts around a theme, by requesting submissions with a contest-specific hashtag. Esprit launched this type of photo and profile pic contest, asking their customers to upload their submissions with #everydayamazing.

everyday amazing

Next, pick a subject that will indulge your audience and create a shareable experience for them. For instance, Franworks restaurants launched the ‘Movember’ Mustache campaign for their Instagram account.

They provided mustache coasters and asked each and every free Instagram follower to share their mustache pic with the restaurant’s tags (#statestache, #joesmos, #castlestache).  They offered trips and restaurant gift cards as prizes, which is a great incentive to increase participation across the Instagram community.

mustache

It’s fun to participate in the contest for the Instagram follower and it promotes Franworks in an authentic way.

If you want, you can check out the previous contests launched by your competitors at Iconosquare. Search for popular hashtags like #contest and #photocontest.

iconosquare

Once you’ve finalized the contest details, take ample time to promote it on your social networks. Start with a Facebook event like Buffalo Wings does below.

buffalojordan

You can also pitch guest posts, send email announcements and use Facebook Ads to create a buzz, you can even change your Facebook profile pic to the contest ad to garner more interest.

Once the contest ends, you should announce the winners across your social networks like your Facebook page or in a blog post.

3. Express yourself with the fastest growing language in UK history…the EMOJI

This language can help you in humanizing your communications, thereby increasing your email open rates, social network engagement and conversions, and to gain followers. And, it has seen an unprecedented adoption in UK.

Nearly 50% of all captions and comments on Instagram have at least one emoji. So, it’s a no-brainer to integrate them in your updates to express yourself.

So, what are the emojis that free Instagram followers like the most?

Simply Measured, in its analysis of 2500 Instagram posts, found that “love hearts” receive the maximum engagement per post. “Sparkles” and “artist palette” are the next two most engaging emojis on the list.

Here is the graph with analysis of the top 10 emojis vs. the engagement they get. If you want more followers then turn to emojis and other growing social network trends.

emoji stats

While these emojis should be in your Instagram vocabulary, you should first understand how your audience communicates with them. Even different colored hearts have different meanings.

emoji profiles

If you’re a newbie to emoticons, HubSpot’s Emoji Guide is a good place to start so you can implement them in your Instagram business without standing out for the wrong reasons.

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Once you’re familiar, here are 3 tips to extract maximum value from emojis and increase your free Instagram follower numbers.

  1. Use emoticons in 3 locations on your Instagram account, for getting a massive boost in your engagement.

hashtag - 3 locations

Note: On April 27, 2015 Instagram began allowing its users to hashtag emojis. This means that you can now search for emoticons on the explore page and tap them in your photo captions.

2.  Using emoji in your messages and even your Instagram bio will help you express yourself without many words. You can leverage this universal language to connect deeper with your fans. Here are the top 10 emoji:

top 10 emoji

3. You can always post a normal comment or caption to appreciate cute pictures and profile pics – “A really cute baby”.

But, if you want to grab attention, entertain your audience and keep them coming back for more, then you’ll need to get creative. And, emojis are a terrific visual way of doing that.

You can follow the lead of ps.ny, in Sue’s post below. Her comment reads “How ador:)ble and aw:)some!!!”

emoji sample

Similarly, ArnoldGrape used emoji creatively, in a comment on the crushsocial post below. Instead of the vanilla “awesome”, his comment reads “keep [emoji]’n in the [emoji] [emoji]”.

4. Use the right filters and post high-quality content regularly

As per research done at Georgia Tech and Yahoo Labs, filtered photos are 21% more likely to get viewed and 45% more likely to get comments.

filter 1

So, which filters work the best?

Track Maven found that using “no filter” and “Inkwell” in your photos will drive the most interaction.

filters

 

While the above filters are good starting points for experimentation, your audience might have a different favorite filter. You need to dig into your own account’s performance, using a tool like Iconosquare.

Once you get your own graphs correlating engagement with filters, you’ll be able to judge your audience preferences.  If you are just starting out with Instagram and don’t have a large following, study your competitors to see what’s working for them.

Note:  Do you know that Instagram also allows users to post up to 15 seconds of video content? But, as per April 2015 research by Locowise, only 10.81% of Instagram posts are in video format.  Yet, they get 17.51% of all comments.

This is an untapped opportunity for you to increase engagement by using your Instagram account well. Get started with Instagram video here.

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5. Shell out some dollars on Instagram celebrities for getting sponsored placements

There are two strategies for doing this.

  1. You pay them upwards of $20 per sponsored post (cost is dependent on the influencer’s size of following). Look at how Maxim model Ashley Sky promotes Your Tea in the post below and it gets incredible engagement from her followers.celebrities 1
  2. The more natural (non-salesy) way is sending your product to the user and asking them to review it. Remember authenticity helps in increasing engagement and is more likely to render a positive result when it comes to your follow and unfollow numbers.

Men’s fashion startup, Bachelr paid $50 per image to tastefully promote their products through large men’s fashion Instagram accounts.

The result?

A flood of traffic that crashed their servers.

traffic increase

So, how do you find Instagram celebrities with a massive following?

Take out your list of popular industry hashtags (that you created in strategy 1) and search for them in Webstagram. You’ll find the top Instagram users that feature these keywords.

This strategy is not dependent on a big budget.  You can look lower on the celebrity list and find the ones that might have a smaller following, but are still within your budget to help you gain followers.

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This article was first published on http://neilpatel.com/blog

 

Facebook Marketing Tips For 2017 – What You Must Know

facebook marketing tips

  1. Get Comfortable With Shooting Video

Video on Facebook accounts for just 0.9% of all posts. Here’s the crazy thing about that: these same 0.9% of posts account for 7.15% of all reach on the network. And that number is growing.

Video posts are dominating social media, with Facebook emerging as YouTube’s largest contender for video uploads. If you haven’t started marketing with video on Facebook, now’s the time to begin.

We’re seeing huge reach in industries across the board. You don’t need to be a professional videographer to capitalize on this either – all you need is a smart phone, some good lighting, and maybe a few goodies from Amazon. Here’s a step by step guide to shooting pro quality video on your mobile phone.

  1. Set Up Saved Audiences

Saved Audiences can be extremely useful – especially if you want to target a specific market.

Within Facebook’s Business Manager, you can create custom audiences based on set parameters. This enables you to advertise to specific groups of people, making sure that your niche content meets the right demographic.

For example, we recently wrote an article that was specific to mortgage lenders – not, by any means, the bulk of our Facebook fans. By creating a Saved Audience, we were able to target a group of mortgage lenders within the USA who were also interested in marketing with our niche piece of content. This drew the right audience to our content, drumming up business for our company and eyeballs on our brand.

Test it out for yourself – it’s 100% free to set up, so you can see how large your audience is before you start paying for advertisements.

  1. Try Your Hand at Retargeting

If you own a business and you have a website, you absolutely must start a retargeting campaign – it’s one of the most profitable forms of advertising online.

In a nutshell, retargeting enables you to advertise to people who’ve already visited your website. All you have to do is install Facebook’s tracking pixel on your website, and wait for visitors to roll in.

  1. Add Captioning to Your Videos

Facebook recently announced that they’re expanding access to their automated video captioning tool to all users, but we’re slightly skeptical of this option.

YouTube has similar software, and to be honest, it’s pretty bad.

And here’s the thing: your captioning matters. 90% of viewers on Facebook watch videos without sound, meaning that your captions are going to be read by a majority of your viewers. Either add the captions yourself or do what we do: hire someone on Fiverr to do it for you. For about five bucks you’ll get an accurate SRT file that you can upload to Facebook in a couple of clicks.

  1. Add a Call To Action on Your Page

Facebook added this functionality and every page owner should take advantage.

On your Facebook Business Page, you can add a call to action that sits in the bottom right-hand corner of your cover photo. These buttons make it easy for your fans to get in touch with your business – don’t miss out on some extra site traffic.

  1. Upload Your Email List

If you have a large e-mail list, you need to upload it to Facebook. Once it’s finished loading, you’ll be able to advertise to every single e-mail that’s associated with a Facebook account.

Similar to retargeting, this practice is great because it enables you to utilize multiple touch points with your potential customers. Take advantage of their past interest in your brand, and try running a Like or engagement campaign to encourage them to interact with you on social media.

The more ways you can reach your audience, the better.

  1. Be Responsive To Messages

There’s more and more evidence indicating that Facebook is calculating response time into their algorithm, so be sure to respond to messages. Your response time will also be live on your page, so fans will be able to see how quickly you interact with them.

When I gave my Social Media Predictions for 2017, one of the main points of focus was on the adoption of Messenger for business. At Cave, we’re seeing B2C interaction moving towards social messaging in great numbers this year, so be sure to buck the trend and respond as quickly as possible.

  1. Embed Your Facebook Content

If you see a good fit to sneak your Facebook content into a blog post (or anywhere else online), I highly recommend you take advantage of the opportunity.

Mixing together different forms of content is a great way to create more touch points with your potential customers.

Facebook also makes it easy to embed content – just click in the upper right-hand corner of your post, copy, and paste (you can see a real world example of this tip in point nine below)

  1. Shoot Live Video

Video production is going to be a major theme for social media in 2017, and live video, in particular, is going to grow greatly.

Don’t get us wrong – you need to be able to master staged video first, but once you get the hang of it, stepping in front of the camera and shooting live has a ton of advantages.

The most important reason to test out live video is the increased reach. Live videos get a boost in Facebook’s algorithm, giving you a push into more and more people’s feeds.

Here’s a video we shot on Facebook Live, going over a few tips for using the live feature.

https://www.facebook.com/cavesocial/videos/1008480722601427/

  1. Have Fun

I say this every year, and 2017 will be no exception.

You need to be social on social media. It’s not a soap box, it was built so that individuals around the world could connect with one another.

If you want to increase your reach, commit to being personal – talk about what your know and your experiences, and have some fun with it. There’s a reason we drink beers at the beginning of every episode of In The Cave – we enjoy it. If we’re having fun, there’s a better chance our viewers will be having fun too.

Hopefully this gave you some ideas about how to use Facebook to market your brand online in 2017.

This article originally appeared on Cave Social.