As your businesses grows, you’ll inevitably want to explore new marketing channels. One of the most exciting – and potentially lucrative – channels right now is social advertising. We’ve been experimenting with this new avenue over the last few months, and thought we’d share our findings here.

Just before Christmas we decided to experiment with some Twitter advertising – it’s the most lively of our various social presences and we meet new clients on there quite often. We’ve tried Facebook advertising before and weren’t too impressed, however the mechanics of Twitter’s paid products are a little different; of particular interest are Lead Generation Cards, which allow users to click a button to send their information to an advertiser (in exchange for a mailing list subscription, competition entry or, in our case, one of our downloadable guides).

Lead generation cards are totally customisable – here’s one of ours:

Twitter card

(See it in situ here)

Obviously having a definitive lead capture mechanism is much more appealing to an advertiser than just a banner or text ad, so away we went.

We initially put £10 per day into the campaign to test the waters. Twitter targeting allows us to exempt our current followers from the campaign (good news, as most are current clients so shouldn’t be included in our advertising activity) and target by keyword, location and device. For our initial campaign we targeted UK users on any platform with our usual accountancy and small business keywords.

The setup

We use Pure360 for our email activity, and wanted to plug our Twitter card directly into a mailing list for easy storage. After some hacking around (and some help from Pure’s tech support) we got the cards working. For anyone else using Pure360, the fields needed are:

  • Submit URL: https://response.pure360.com/interface/list.php (you’ll have an address like this with your own custom domain – this is just a domain mask and won’t work as it is not HTTPS – hence you need to use the unmasked version)
  • HTTP Method: Post

With the following custom hidden values (all case sensitive):

  • accName (your Pure360 account name)
  • listName (name of the mailing list you wish to add to)
  • fullEmailValidationInd (Y)
  • doubleOptin (false)
  • successUrl (Your “success” page – not actually used by Twitter cards but still required)
  • errorUrl (Same as above, but an error page)

You can add more hidden values to help with tracking etc.

The results

We scheduled our campaign to run every weekday for two weeks in December, with a budget of £10 each day. With this budget and our selected targeting we achieved an average of 1,605 impressions per day, and ended up with 53 leads, equating to £1.88 per lead.

It’s still too early to say whether this is an effective cost per lead for us, but our first impressions were positive – especially compared to the train-wreck that was our Facebook campaign.

A word about Twitter analytics

Many people don’t know about Twitter analytics, but it’s live for all accounts at analytics.twitter.com, and can give you a nice insight into how effective your activity is on the network. It also houses Twitter’s paid services (promoted tweets, promoted accounts, and promoted trends) and allows you to create cards, campaigns and measure traffic Twitter is sending your way.

It’s a rapidly evolving product – we’ve seen four or five new features added since we first got our feet wet – but there are a few problems with it. First and foremost, Twitter can’t make up it’s mind how many leads it’s sent us. On our Cards management page we’re told our £100 netted us 53 –

Twitter card leads

Whereas our Campaign page seems to think it was only 26 –

Twitter campaign leads

It’s also worth noting the first column in the “Engagement” section is called “Clicks” – an obvious metric to track for links, but it’s unclear what, exactly, “Clicks” is measuring for Cards – it’s clearly not a lead. At this point we’re working on the assumption it’s measuring people who idly click on the picture or the text with no actual outcome.

Caveats

People downloading a guide from a company they’ve not necessarily heard of before aren’t particularly likely to convert straight away, so we’re still monitoring the quality of the data we collected. From a raw numbers point of view, though, the campaign performed better than we expected.

Twitter Lead Generation Cards also still have an element of “shiny new toy” about them – not many people are using them so it’s unclear how many people clicked the button purely to see what would happen.

We’re also assuming the proximity to Christmas skewed the results of our campaign somewhat – we’re planning to run a second campaign soon to collect more data.