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Comparing Search and Social Media for Forex Marketers

Boston, MA March 30, 2011

As a technology company, we help many customers launch new businesses. If you own or are launching a new brokerage and are preparing your marketing strategy, here is some information we've gathered from our experience in marketing in the FX industry, leveraging social networks, ads, and search engine optimization (SEO). Few companies are willing to post numbers or results from their search engine and social media engagements. This leaves a ton of forums full of people asking what works, what doesn’t, what kind of results they can expect, etc. and no one is sharing answers. Some numbers can’t be shared for competitive reasons: how much you spent on a campaign, your exact numbers, elements of your strategy, etc., but some can. In the charts below the actual volumes have been removed but there is still some very strong data that I’d like to share with you. 

Data

This data is very specific to Boston Technologies, and some very specific tactics that have been undertaken. So, your results will vary, if so we'd love to hear from you. Boston technologies has a Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn presence. While we Tweet, Facebook, and Link at least once a day, based on some of the earlier numbers we received we decided to run ads on LinkedIn. Leveraging these channels as well as spending a good amount of time creating content and optimizing our website for search engines has led to the following findings:

 Bar charts depicting unique visits and page views

Our Unique Visits from LinkedIn far outweigh traffic from other referring sites. To be clear, these results are outside of direct visits or referring sites like outside blogs, portals, even traffic from our own newsletter. They are merely focused on the traffic from Google, Gmail, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Very often people swill stop investigating here. Focusing on the site sending them the most traffic. But, that traffic isn’t always qualified traffic. In the chart on the right, it’s clear that while our Page Views from LinkedIn users outweigh those from Facebook and Gmail, we get a much larger number of page views from Twitter and Google. To me, this means these sources contain visitors that are much more engaged, qualified and interested in our content.

 Bar charts depicting new visitors and bounce rate

As you can see above, LinkedIn represents our greatest percentage of new users. Gmail may sound a bit strange except that my company uses Gmail as our email tool so any clicked link in our email signatures or included in the body of an email  shows up as a visitor. This is very important since it remains one of our primary sources of communications and sales. Combined with data concerning Unique Visitors we can differentiate which sites give us more repeat traffic versus which sites give us more new traffic. An important distinction when deciding which marketing messages go to which sites. Bounce Rate isn’t a huge concern primarily because our site is information, not ecommerce. This means that our Call to Action (CTA) is for the user to call or email our business intelligence team rather than visit another page. However, when combined with Page Views and Time on Site, it is a good indicator of user interest or qualification.

 

Bar chart depicting the time spent on the page

Time on Site indicates how long a person spend on the site. It’s interesting to note how closely this mimics the number of page views. The first observation is pretty obvious since reading more pages would take more time, but then again, you could take more time reading a single page.

Findings

Initially Twitter looked like a bit of a loss for us. We got a minimal amount of traffic, and to be honest, our audience isn’t really that prolific on Twitter. However, if you look closely, even though visitors from Twitter were minimal, they had the largest amount of page views and a close second for number of pages visited. This means that we’ll continue to cultivate traffic through Twitter hoping for a growth in visits.

I mentioned that we ran a set of 3 ads on LinkedIn for the company. Despite the hype around Facebook ads, based on earlier numbers concerning bounce rate, time on site, pages visited, and contextuality we decided not to run ads on Facebook. LinkedIn ads allowed us to zero in on a highly defined group of users based on industry (we’re a very small niche of the financial industry), countries, states, even gender. LinkedIn best practices says “good ads have a CTR greater than 0.025%“. Our rates were .056%, .074%, and .087%. Our ads worked. We opted for a CPC (Cost Per Click) model rather than a CPM (Cost Per Impression). It’s a good thing, our impressions were 1300 times what our clicks were. Since clicks show interest, and impressions may not even be seen, this made sense to us. In addition our average click cost was actually half of what our click bid was!

Recommendations

Clearly this data is not going to define your strategy. It is unique to our company, not even our industry. We do hope that it will help inform you. You may decide we are nuts not to be advertising on Facebook, or convinced that we’re just not using Twitter effectively enough. All possible. Unfortunately digital strategy, for all of it’s data, still requires much experimentation. I encourage you to experiment, track your numbers (but don’t get wrapped up in daily results, look at trends), and define a respectable schedule to gather data over. Decisions shouldn’t be made over a few days’ worth of data, but over a few months, keeping in mind global events, holidays, etc.

Good luck!

 

Posted March 30, 2011 by Michael Durwin