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Weekly Agency Spotlight — Bluetrain

This week we are excited to feature Bluetrain in our weekly agency spotlight.

The Background

Founded in 2007 by CEO, Bryan Smith, Bluetrain is a well-established industry leader with over 40 loyal and active clients. Their team is comprised of 15 dedicated and knowledgeable digital marketers, business professionals, and SEO experts.
What we love about Bluetrain is that they are an analytics-driven company. Far too often companies place too much emphasis on the creative side of marketing, without looking into the data of what resonates with the brand’s audience. Bluetrain seamlessly spans this bridge with inspiring creative, which is shaped and continuously assessed by hard data.
Bluetrain also works with a wide range of companies across a myriad of industries. Some of these include real estate development firms, insurance firms, foundations, and a substantial amount of non-profits. Bryan eagerly told us that they work with the UN Refugee Agency, which sounds amazing!  They also work with all different company sizes, in every stage of the market life-cycle.
Bluetrain President, Bryan Smith, brings a breadth of knowledge and a large bank of experience to the Bluetrain team. He has over 18 years of marketing experience, in which he has worked with hundreds of websites managing millions in advertising spend. Without a shadow of a doubt, he is an expert in the field of marketing and was kind enough to provide some fantastic insights on what it really takes to run a social media presence.

The Advice

Question: What is the most common social media goal clients approach Bluetrain with?
Bryan informed us that they are typically approached by companies looking to bolster brand awareness. He did note that part of this stems from their team educating clients that the early value of social media, is in a major way, brand education and awareness. He also informs them that these specific goals are often the best starting point for most. Bryan went on to say that:

“At the end of the day, especially because we are data-driven, we are trying to approach social media with a specific objective and intent in mind. Usually, that’s going to be something related to lead generation and of course more sales. But, it’s important to use a different measuring stick for social media than other channels.”

Question: What can a small to medium-sized business expect to spend on ads per month to run an effective campaign?
As we often hear, Bryan noted that this is a very tough question to answer because of the range of factors which can influence this metric. He went to say that companies need to consider many elements when deciding this number; including the type of audience, audience size, and also the intended geographic reach.  He informed us:

“Often companies will target a single city, and then expand to marketing to an entire country, and expect to spend the same budget. This doesn’t work, you can’t have the same budget for these two things. The geographic piece is a huge factor.”

He also did mention that if you are a company looking to work with a professional marketing agency, such as Bluetrain, you should be looking to spend at least $1,000 per month. Bryan noted that this doesn’t mean you can’t get results for less than that, but in order to have an agency or professional firm manage your budget for you, you may run into some weird ratio situations otherwise.
Lastly, Bryan gave some great insight on how to come up with this number. He said:

“The way I would do it is to go about it backward’s. Ask yourself, what are you trying to achieve, what do those numbers look like, and work back from there. What is your conversion rate, and what does that mean in terms of how many people you need to get to…establish what the cost for this is going to be depending on CPM or CPC, and keep working backward’s.”

He went on to say that these numbers can often surprise people. Bryan explained that many times, marketers know what their goal is, but have not looked into the data of what they can expect to spend to achieve that goal.

Question: How many hours per week can a company expect to spend managing social media, and what are the most time-consuming aspects?
Again, Bryan noted that this is kind of a hard question to give an exact answer to. He did say that on average, their team probably spends a minimum of 5-8 hours per week per brand. However, he added that it can vary wildly. That there is a big difference between going after one audience, and 5 audiences. Or akin to his previous response, there is a big difference between going after one city versus 10 cities. Bryan warned that its imperative to look at your audience and website, in addition to many other factors. He furthered this point by saying:

“It’s all relative. One of the most important things is to look at your marketplace. You have to look at the competition and what their activity level is. Ideally, you want to be at least at that benchmark level if not above that. If your competitor is posting twice a day, it doesn’t mean that is the right decision, but it does mean you need to be aware of that and decide if that’s working for them. If it is, you probably need to be at a similar level.”

As for what is the most time-consuming aspect, he flatly stated that basically everyone would say content generation.  He explained that there is an idea generation component with that, along with writing the copy, then usually an editing process, and then publishing. Bryan went on to say that usually, besides strategy, this is where companies fall down. Companies often fail to stay consistent. They will post really good content for a period of time, and then fall off the rails. Bryan Noted:

“Especially on business to business, but in all marketing, you need to be realistic with yourself on what you can maintain ongoing.  There is no point in doing a one month burst of something and then having it completely fall off. That’s not how marketing works. Especially in today’s world where there is so much noise, you need to be consistent and ongoing to build that presence. I would rather see a client only do two awesome posts a month for a year, than see them do 4 or 5 in one month, and then maybe 0 the next. “


Question: Do you have an anecdotal story or case study to showcase the success of a client? Perhaps one where a particularly creative strategy was used?
Here, Bryan gave us a great story about a small business they have worked with for quite some time.  For context, it is important to note that Edmonton, where the company is located, was experiencing a recession at the time of the story.

“We work with a long time client called ‘First Foundation’, which is a mortgage and insurance brokerage. The reason I like this one is that it’s an example of where strategy really matters. In this case, it was a full blown integrated funnel. They (First Foundation) had a product which was job loss insurance.
A few years ago, many people were at risk of losing their jobs or knew people who lost their jobs. They get this product so if they actually did get terminated, they could cover their mortgage for a period of time… Obviously very timely, we created their product page, wrote a blog post, promoted it through social, and then took a step further and did some press releases.
People often forget about the various aspects of marketing. The article ended up getting printed front page in the newspapers, and the company was even highlighted on TV. We then used screenshots of these headlines and videos in our ad copy, which made it that much more credible.”

Bryan went on to inform us that the ads were so successful, they had to turn off the campaign for a period of time because they were getting too many leads through Facebook. He acknowledged that it’s not an easy case to replicate, but it is something companies should strive for. It involves being timely and thinking through every component of marketing. The webpage, blog posts, social media posts, articles, and remarketing campaigns, were all utilized in this example.

Question: Do you have any tips you would be willing to share with those small to medium sized businesses who are looking to establish or build their online social presence?

“The biggest thing we see is people wanting activity, but not understanding they need to do it in a strategic matter. If you really want to use your time wisely and not waste it, there needs to be some thought into strategy. You need to ask yourself, why am I doing this, who am I doing this for, and what am I trying to get out of this”

The Conclusion

We would really like to thank Bryan for taking the time to speak with us. He was incredibly gracious and knowledgeable and we had a great time on the call. If you are in the market for social media management, we highly recommended you check out Bluetrain. Their data-driven emphasis innately provides a level of transparency all companies should strive for.
You can learn more about Bluetrain Here:

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