AJ&Smart Has Generated More Than €2 Million in Sales from Social Media: Here’s How

  • Product design and innovation studio AJ&Smart has generated more than €2million from clients who first discovered it on social media.
  • Ninety percent of AJ&Smart’s new clients now come from social media referrals, replacing word-of-mouth as the #1 source of new business.
  • Social media has helped AJ&Smart’s client base to go global.

It was a cold January morning in Berlin, Germany, and Jonathan Courtney was feeling a bit stuck.

Nearly six years had passed since he founded design agency, AJ&Smart. And though the business had been a huge success — winning multiple awards and building a roster of big-name clients — Jonathan felt there was much more to come for his agency and team.

“But what?” he wondered to himself. “How can we take AJ&Smart to the next level?”

After much deliberation, Jonathan made a bold decision.

“Do you really want to do this?,” one advisor asked.

Other CEO friends in Berlin shared similar feelings. “Not only did they not understand it, they thought I was actively damaging the company,” he told me.

So what was it that sparked such impassioned responses from his friends and advisors?

Jonathan wanted to share everything that happened at AJ&Smart on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, giving followers behind-the-scenes access to the agency.

Yet now, 18-months down the line — and despite the initial pushback from advisors — AJ&Smart has generated in excess €2million in revenue from clients who first discovered the agency on social media.

‘We invested almost all of our profits in building our brand’

Whether you love his work or not, Gary Vaynerchuk is hard to ignore in the social media space.

If you’ve ever listened to his podcasts or stumbled upon a few of his tweets, you’ve probably heard some variation of his ‘Document. Don’t create’ blueprint. It was this strategy that encouraged Jonathan to take the plunge into the world of social media.

Trying to create content was always a big issue for Jonathan. He liked the ‘Document. Don’t create’ strategy because it was focused on simply showing people what was happening day-to-day and it didn’t require him or his team to spend hours planning what they’d publish.

“People think that you’re damaging your brand if you’re not being super careful about it. But while other agencies are thinking about what they should post each week and writing their social media guidelines, we’ve produced and published like 20 hours of content in that same amount of time and already have people engaging with it.”

Jonathan Courtney (@jicecream)
CEO & Co-founder, AJ&Smart



Once Jonathan and the AJ&Smart team had decided to embrace social media, they went all in. “We invested almost all of our profits in building our brand,” Jonathan told me.

And though his strategy was a little out there for a creative agency — most agencies keep their cards close to their chest, Jonathan explained during our call — there was a strategic reason behind it.

AJ&Smart helps clients with product design and innovation as well as working closely with the Design Sprint creator (& NY Times Best Selling author), Jake Knapp. But it’s a competitive space.

“We’re in a commodity market,” Jonathan says. “We could compete on price or just rely on the quality of our work. But I didn’t want to do that.”

Jonathan wanted AJ&Smart to stand out alone in the field of design agencies. He wanted the business to have its own brand. “My belief was having a highly engaged audience would benefit us more than simply just focusing on client work,” he explained.

‘Instagram is our social media hub’

AJ&Smart decided to go all in on social media when Instagram launched Stories. “It was a super low friction way to create content and a great way to get started,” Jonathan said.

AJ&Smart uses Stories to be provide an authentic look at what the agency is like day-to-day and tries to show as much of what’s happening in real-time as possible.

For example, in its Stories you might see behind-the-scenes at a client workshop:

Or the team traveling to meetings with clients:

This type of content is super interesting for AJ&Smart’s followers, but it also provides talking points for its clients. “We’ll go into an office of a client and because of Instagram they’ll know the whole journey we’ve gone on to get to them. They always talk about it when we arrive,” Jonathan explained.

When it comes to the Instagram feed, it posts highly curated content that’s focused on design-related hashtags it wants to reach:

Hashtags are important for AJ&Smart to reach its target audience on Instagram. “A huge thing for us is designers following us,” Jonathan explained. “Designers follow us and then when their boss is looking to hire an agency, they recommend AJ&Smart. It’s made sales so much easier for us.”

Instagram has also evolved into a central hub for all of AJ&Smart’s content and it uses the Stories Highlight feature to showcase its content across platforms.

For example, one highlight showcases its podcast:

And another talks about its ‘Innovation Hackers’ Facebook Group:

“We’re big believers in re-purposing and re-packaging content tailored to the platform. We usually find that when someone starts following us on one channel, they’ll very likely soon start following us across our other channels too, which is fantastic. It also keeps us on our toes to always be putting out interesting, fresh content that is specific to the platform.”

Laura Faint (@laurafaint_)
Head of Growth, AJ&Smart

 

‘If you’re just focused on the numbers, you’re not going to succeed’

Social media success rarely, if ever, happens overnight.

After a couple of months of investing heavily in social media marketing, AJ&Smart had only picked up a few hundred followers here and there. And it took about eight-months in total before potential clients would contact the company saying they found it on Instagram, YouTube or any other social channels.

“If I hadn’t have been patient I’d have given up long before we started to see the benefits of social media. If you’re just focused on the numbers, you’re not going to succeed,” Jonathan explained.

The ROI of social media marketing

Just over a year-and-a-half after AJ&Smart went all in on social media, it’s seeing massive return on its investment:

  • 90 percent of its clients first discover the agency on one of their social media channels
  • Social media has been responsible for a minimum of €2 million in revenue
  • Its client base has expanded globally thanks to its social media presence

“If a company interviews us and two other agencies and the work and costs are similar, they tend to book us,” Jonathan says.

“They will choose AJ&Smart because they can get an insight who we are from social media, they feel we’re an authority because of the content we create and sometimes clients even ask for certain team members after seeing them on stories.”

“Having a strong social media presence is massive for us. To the point where almost every customer coming through our door already trusts us, knows who we are and what we stand for. It’s not only how many of our clients find out about us, it’s usually what convinces them to choose us over our competitors.”

Brittni Bowering (@brittnibow)
Head of Media, AJ&Smart

 

How to start grabbing attention and winning clients

AJ&Smart has been incredibly successful on social media by being authentic and sharing what goes on at the agency every day. It doesn’t spend hours planning content or creating elaborate, highly-edited videos. Instead, it just shares the processes its team goes through and the work they’re doing.

To get started all you need to do is pick up a phone, open up Instagram or Facebook and start talking about your work and the things you care about.

As Jonathan said on our call: “There’s little or no reason not to be talking with your audience every single day now.”

Find AJ&Smart on Instagram or learn more about the agency here.

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/bufferapp/~3/nAW7iZqpK1A/how-ajsmart-increases-sales-using-social-media

How to Sell on Instagram: A Stories Strategy That’s Generated ‘Hundreds of Thousands’ in Sales

  • Kettlebell Kings has used educational content to build an audience of over 79,000 fitness enthusiasts on Instagram.
  • It generates 400-600 new leads per week from social media, with half of those leads coming directly from Instagram.
  • ‘Hundreds of thousands of dollars’ in revenue can be directly attributed to leads generated on Instagram.

Read on to get the full story and learn exactly how Kettlebell Kings uses Instagram to grow its revenue.

“We all had what I guess you call ‘real jobs’,” Jay Perkins told me.

Back in 2013, Jay worked at Bigcommerce, an e-commerce software provider where he learned about what it takes to have a successful online business.

But Jay could only hold back his entrepreneurial ambitions for so long.

After kicking around business ideas for a year-or-so, Jay and his two business partners decided to take the plunge and launch an online store of their own.

Fast-forward to 2018 and Kettlebell Kings is a leading kettlebell equipment supplier based in Austin, Texas, generating mid seven-figures per year in revenue — with much of its new business coming directly from leads generated on Instagram.

‘Most of our biggest deals and business development relationships have come through Instagram’

There was a time, when Kettlebell Kings first started out, that Google AdWords campaigns and a compelling free shipping offer — “the first of its kind in the kettlebell space,” Jay said — were its main marketing tactics.

Yet as the company grew, social media took over as the #1 way to generate new business and Instagram is now Kettlebell Kings most successful marketing and acquisition channel.

“On average we get 400-600 leads per week from social media, with half coming from Instagram,” Jay told me over email.

When it comes to revenue generated directly from Instagram “it would be in the hundreds of thousands,” he revealed (Kettlebell Kings uses Hubspot to track its conversions).

But Instagram hasn’t just helped Kettlebell Kings to generate one-off sales to consumers, it’s also an important channel for business development.

Jay explained:

“Most of our biggest deals and business development relationships have come through Instagram — we have even signed deals with national gym chains from leads generated on the platform.”

Instagram didn’t become a lead generation goldmine overnight, though. It took a lot of work.

‘We’re very strict on the posts that go into our feed’

The first step to a successful Instagram marketing strategy is creating content for your Instagram feed that your audience wants to see and engage with.

In the Instagram feed, Kettlebell Kings focuses on sharing educational content and workout examples — this strategy has helped it to amass an audience of over 79,000 followers. It also reposts images and videos from customers and this user-generated content angle has lead to the hashtag #kettlebellkings being used more than 20,000 times on Instagram.

Key takeaway: User-generated content

“Back in 2016, we started to embrace user-generated content for our Buffer Instagram account. In the first year, this strategy helped our account grow by almost 400% – 4,250 to 21,000 followers. Now we have over 40,000 followers.”

Brian Peters
Digital Marketing Strategist

 

“We’re very strict on the posts that go into our feed,” says Jay. For a post to make it to Kettlebell Kings’ Instagram feed, the content must:

  • Feature good use of a Kettlebell Kings product ✅
  • Show good form (when using the kettlebells) ✅
  • Provide a ton of value to the viewer (helping them to learn something new, improve their technique) ✅

But with stories, Jay believes there’s more freedom to post less-polished content at a higher frequency.

Kettlebell Kings can also repost and feature more of its customers using stories than it can within the feed. “We can repost 10-12 customers who tag us on a daily basis through stories,” says Jay. Being reposted by the Kettlebell Kings account is highly engaging and rewarding for those featured and it also encourages more and more customers to share their content on Instagram.

Here’s how that strategy plays out…

Within the Instagram feed, you might see a video of a perfectly-executed kettlebell workout:

Or a shoppable, high-quality image of a Kettlebell Kings product:

Then on Instagram Stories you might see a Kettlebell Kings customer working out:

But how does this all translate into leads and revenue?

Instagram Stories: The lead-gen secret weapon

Now we move onto the conversion focused part of this strategy.

Here’s how Kettlebell Kings drives hundreds of leads per week directly from Instagram.

1. Share engaging content to stories

First, Kettlebell Kings will share content to Instagram Stories. Often these posts will be workout examples or reposts from customers:

On average these stories will be viewed by around 10 percent of Kettlebell Kings’ followers, sometimes up to 15 percent if there’s a CTA in a feed post to ‘check out stories’.

2. Include swipe up CTAs to drive traffic to a landing page

Next, Kettlebell Kings will include a CTA to ‘Swipe Up’ for workout examples or more content within one of its stories posts:

Writer’s note:

The Instagram Stories ‘Swipe Up’ feature is now available to all Instagram business accounts with 10,000 followers or more.

If you don’t quite have 10,000 followers, here are some resources to help you grow your account:

Ash Read
Managing Editor

 

Once a viewer swipes up, they will be taken to a landing page or an article where they can read more about a topic and enter their email address for more exclusive content:

These pages tend to convert visitors to email addresses at around 25-45 percent, depending on the traffic source. So 100 visits would generate between 25 and 45 new leads, on average.

3. Create custom email flows for each landing page

Finally, once the visitor has shared their email address it will be entered into one of many email workflows Kettlebell Kings has designed to serve helpful emails about kettlebell workouts and techniques from experts.

“We have unique workflows depending on how someone has entered our system,” Jay explained. All its workflows are about building value and trust with new leads. Kettlebell Kings purposely includes product photos in its emails but rarely sends offers or tries to make a sale. Instead, providing high quality content is the number one goal.

Due to the work Jay and his team put in ensuring Kettlebell Kings’ Instagram feed is always filled with fresh, engaging content the company constantly has batches of new followers — “about 1,000 new followers per week right now,” Jay says — to check out its Instagram Stories and enter into its email funnels.

Over to you

This strategy has generated ‘hundreds of thousands’ in revenue for Kettlebell Kings and there’s no reason you can’t also implement within your own social media plans.

How does your business use Instagram Stories? Let me know in the comments below.

Feature image: Vibetality / Kettlebell Kings on Instagram

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/bufferapp/~3/Ie-jMP2MQ2E/how-to-sell-on-instagram-case-study

How Car Next Door Use Buffer to Build Trust on Social Media

Car Next Door is a car-sharing platform that enables customers to hire a vehicle from a community of local owners and its long-term objective is huge. In fact, when Kate Trumbull, the company’s communications director, told us their vision, we were kind of stunned:

Our mission is to free people and the planet from the ‘one person, one car’ mentality.

Now that is an audacious goal.

Getting cars off the road, reducing pollution and waste, and building more connected communities might seem like a huge endeavor for a small business of about 40 people, but Car Next Door has already come a long way:

We started out with a small pilot in a few Sydney suburbs. We did a lot of face-to-face local marketing: literally going to markets was actually a big part of our strategy! We would be really excited every time someone booked a car and we knew all of our members by name. We held a bush dance for our community early on – one of our members catered for it.

Now there are more than 80,000 borrowers and 1,500 cars listed on Car Next Door. More than 160,000 trips have been booked on the platform.

Scaling trust and engagement through social media

So, how do you scale such personal service and engagement (like a bush dance)?

To find out, we asked Kate about the role social media plays in their marketing strategy:

Social media serves the dual purposes of creating social proof and ongoing engagement with our audience. Social proof is important for us – peer-to-peer car-sharing is still really new in Australia and people can initially be a little uneasy about it. Being able to show that we have active social media channels with thousands of followers adds to the perception of legitimacy for people who are just discovering us – it shows that we’re established and increases trust.

On a day-to-day level, it also allows us to stay top of mind with our audience. We know that most of our borrowers drive really infrequently (most of them around once every 3 months or less). We want to make sure that when they do need a car, they’re getting one from us rather than somewhere else. Sharing regular content with them helps with ongoing engagement with our brand and, ultimately, our product.

Car Next Door instagram

Engagement is a keyword for Car Next Door, and it isn’t just limited to the marketing team sharing content:

Nearly everyone at the company is involved in social media either directly or indirectly. A lot of our members and prospects also use social media as a customer service channel, so our Member Experience and Sales teams are regularly responding to enquiries. We also have a private Facebook group for our car owners, and every team helps manage that channel – even our CEO regularly jumps in to respond to questions or feature requests.

From time-consuming, manual posting to calm social scheduling

Being keen to learn more about how Buffer has changed the way they work, we asked Shannon, their social media manager, about how they managed their social media before they discovered Buffer:

It’s a bit hard to remember actually … we did it manually. I think I used a spreadsheet at one point. It was too time-consuming, and it was hard to schedule things for out of work hours.

It’s a story we hear quite a lot; time being spent in spreadsheets and navigating between social networks, time that could be better spent when you’re a fast-growing business with a big mission:

Buffer made it really easy to set and forget our social scheduling. Having the posting schedule set up for each channel makes it so easy to add things to the queue – whether it’s content we’ve created or something I’ve seen elsewhere. I like the clear visual of the queue – at a glance, I can easily see what’s being posted when and if anything needs adjusting.

What does a typical day of social media scheduling look like for Car Next Door? Here’s a little insight from Shannon:

Anytime I or someone else in the team publishes a new blog post or another piece of content I’ll add it to the queue in Buffer. If it’s evergreen content (which it almost always is) I’ll schedule it a few times over the next 3-4 months in different formats – a link directly to the post, with a graphic we’ve made in Canva, with a different caption, etc. The rest of the slots I’ll fill up with reposts of photos or videos our members have shared, recent media coverage of Car Next Door, and curated content that will be of interest to our audience.

I also use the analytics features to see our top performing posts from the last few months and re-buffer anything that did well. I often find that our top-performing posts will continue to perform well on a second or even third share. Finally, a couple of times a week I’ll quickly check on the queue and rearrange anything or fill any empty slots.

Handy social media scheduling tips from the Car Next Door team

  • Use a tool like Canva to create channel specific graphics
  • Use analytics to find and reshare your best social media posts
  • Experiment with different content formats
  • Keep an eye on your queue of posts to ensure you have a consistent presence

We were also curious about Shannon’s favorite Buffer features and how they make her life easier:

The flexibility of the posting options is really helpful. I use the Buffer queue as a standard, ongoing schedule that chugs away in the background and I use the ‘share next’, ‘share now’ or ‘schedule post’ options for time-sensitive content. For us, this is usually for a long weekend when we share something designed to encourage bookings, or for specific days like Earth Day or Valentine’s Day when we might want to share something specific. Being able to manage both the regular evergreen content and the date-specific content in one place makes it really easy.

I also love the Chrome extension – when I find something I want to share it just takes a minute to add it to the queue for any of our channels, all without needing to leave the page.

A comprehensive presence with minimal time

Finally, when asked how has Buffer helped Car Next Door to move towards their social media and overall business objective and Kate explained:

Buffer keeps everything in one place and kept things simple. It helps us to maintain a presence across a range of social platforms with minimal time and fuss. It keeps our social media time costs down while allowing us to keep a steady flow of content going out.

About Car Next Door

Car Next Door makes it simple to turn any car into a shared car, empowering people to save money, reduce waste and create cleaner, greener, and better neighborhoods.

Find them on:

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

We hope you found this case study useful! Ready to grow your small business? Getting started with Buffer is easy. Learn more about our plans and try it free.

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/bufferapp/~3/RWqB2CHSFJU/car-next-door-case-study

20 Magicable Takeaways From 5 Social Media Marketing Case Studies

New post on Online Marketing Hub

20 Magicable Takeaways From 5 Social Media Marketing Case Studies at @smbmsp
by christopherjanb

On Friday nearly a dozen members of the TopRank Online Marketing team had the privilege of attending a packed house at 514 Studies downtown Minneapolis for Social Media Breakfast aka #SMBMSP72.

The topic? Social Media Marketing case studies. And gnomes. And bacon. And made-up words like “magicable”.

Featuring case studies about local and national brands including Land O’ Lakes, Thomson Reuters, Axonom and two Fortune 100 technology companies, presentations were given by Jaclyn Grossfield @jaclynanng, Casey Hall @CaseyHall_ and myself.

While the Minneapolis / St. Paul Social Media Breakfast events are always well attended, this one was particularly so because of the insatiable interest in practical social media marketing insights. That and maybe the introduction of the “Social Media Gnome” pictured above. Instead of “Elf on a Shelf” think of him as a “Gnome in Your Zone” watching to make sure you’re following best practices. [Cue laugh track]

To help satisfy the broader interest in social media case studies and tactics, here are 22 takeaways, insights and tips from the presentations captured by the team at TopRank:

Alexis Hall – TopRank Account Manager

Tip 1: Use social media to encourage your audience to participate in and contribute content in a meaningful way. If the content connects with their own experience in a meaningful way, your audience will be more likely to engage with and amplify that content.

Tip 2: Activate subject matter experts within your organization in order to create content which goes beyond product marketing and provides helpful content which will resonate with an expert audience. Provide subject matter experts with quick and easy training on how to create content which works for a blog or social media up front and then empower them to write about the topics which they know most about.

Nick Ehrenberg – TopRank Content Marketing Manager

Tip 3: There is a fine balance between promoting on-domain content and off-domain content. Without the balance, you risk missing potential revenue and/or engagement with the audience. Regardless of the content’s source, it must fulfill the primary goal: driving buyers through the purchasing cycle.

Tip 4: Product promotions belong on product pages — that’s what they are meant for. Your organization’s blog should be the venue for subject matter experts to dive deeper into audience concerns or trends. Make your blog a resource for all people in the target audience — not just your immediate customers.

And if I was able to grow a solid beard, I would totally join the Marketers With Beards Facebook Group. [From Lee: You can do it Nick!!!]

Joel Carlson – TopRank Social Media Lead

Tip 5: Using typography allowed an agency (Exponent) to override the Facebook restriction of 20% or less text for ad images used with Land O Lakes campaigns.

Tip 6: Create a company blog (hybrid site) that is a combination of internal and external content. It will increase interest in the site and make visitors more likely to return.

Tip 7: Products should not be the focus of a blog, but instead, it should provide information that help visitors gain success.

Tip 8: B2B audiences are well informed, so when it comes to blog content, provide expert and technical content for readers.

Evan Prokop – TopRank Digital Marketing Manager

Tip 9: You probably already have subject matter experts in your company who can be grown into public facing thought leaders – with a little guidance and motivation. As marketers, it’s our job to not only help them master content creation tactics such as blogging and social media, but to show them why it’s important.

Tip 10: Appeal to your audience’s emotions. Land O Lake’s Mothers Day Facebook giveaway campaign tapped into a topic most everyone has strong feelings about (and spends a lot of money on apparently), their mom.

Kate Heithoff – TopRank SEO Copywriter

Tip 11: Social media is a great way to spread brand awareness and grab your audience’s attention. Using visual pieces with an enticing calls to action can have substantial results. Know your audience, and use appropriate language to receive engagement on social networks, whether that be likes, shares, comments or retweets. Emotion-evoking visual content and language can go a long way with the appropriate audience.

Tip 12: Whether creating visual or written content, know your audience and who you’re writing for. Provide them with information that is new and relevant. Do not only talk about your company, but rather talk about your audience and target their wants and needs. In your content, let them know that you value their time, and are not there only to press products or sales upon them.

Katie Konrath – TopRank Content Marketing Lead

Tip 13: There is no one “magic formula” for success in content marketing. Every audience has different content and social preferences. To succeed, you need to pay attention to what is working for other marketers, and then run tests to find out what works best for your audience.

Tip 14: To build relationships with influencers on social, you need to first learn about them. Who is their audience? What are their goals for engaging online? What is in it for them when they help you? If you are able to clearly communicate how helping you benefits the influencer, you will have better results when you reach out to them.

Douglas Fehlen – TopRank Copywriter

Tip 15: When it comes to social media marketing, self-promotion and helpfulness is a unique balance for every organization.

Tip 16: Provide content that customers will find valuable, even if they never buy anything.

Tip 17: Look for opportunities to inject storytelling into messaging through social media engagement – even if you’re in an industry not necessarily known for emotion-touched content.

Andy Thomson – TopRank SEO Copywriter

Tip 18: People want meaningful connections, so give the people what they want in an opportunistic way using real-time monitoring and popular platforms.

Tip 19: Efficient training and leveraging subject matter experts for great content can win buy-in from executive leadership, especially when internal resources are scarce.

Tip 20: Don’t be afraid to find loopholes in social network posting rules. For example, Land-o-Lakes achieved this using clever typography in their Mother’s Day photo ads on Facebook to get around the 20% text rule.

Thank you again to Mykl Roventine from the Minneapolis / Saint Paul Social Media Breakfast for the invitation to present at this event and a big thanks to the TopRank team members that worked on the client engagements shared in my presentation: Alexis Hall, Kate Heithoff, Ben Brausen, Emily Bacheller and Renee Whisnant.

20 Magicable Takeaways From 5 Social Media Marketing Case Studies at @smbmsp | http://ift.tt/faSbAI

For more on this article or content marketing in general see:
http://omhub.wordpress.com/2014/11/24/20-magicable-takeaways-from-5-social-media-marketing-case-studies-at-smbmsp/

The 20 Magicable Takeaways From 5 Social Media Marketing Case Studies page was posted “By Mike Armstrong”