Over June/July we decided it was a good time to analyse the performance of the key online marketing activities that Board Game Extras (BGE) undertake: Social Media and Internet Advertising. The primary tool we used for this was Google Analytics ; this can track the performance of a website and the online marketing activities that lead to visits to the website (for more on this read our blog here). In addition, we also used the analytics report within Hootsuite and the Facebook Insight stats to further analyse the performance of the Twitter and Facebook posts respectively. The analysis was undertaken on a four month period from March 2011 to June 20011 to compare how this year was progressing and in comparison to the same months last year. This was to enable us to understand whether and how the social media and internet advertising activities were working for BGE and where they could be further improved.
The key social media activities are: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Blogs and YouTube
The key internet marketing activities are: Google Ads, Google Shopping Page, Advertising on Board Game forum site
In addition during this time period, BGE run a stand at the Games Expo consumer show in Birmingham, which for them is their biggest event of the year. The event organisers themselves have recently started using social media and BGE was using this synergy to build interest in them prior to attending the event via their social media platforms. For which, we also analysed the stats that lead to website visits from the Games Expo website to the BGE website.
Here are some of the key conclusions we made:
- Over the 4 month period this year overall visits have gone up by approx. 800 visits/month
- In comparison to end of June 2010 overall visits have gone up by approx. 1600 visits/month
- Social Media by end of June 2011 was driving almost 500 direct visits/month and we would estimate indirectly 300 visits/month to BGE site
- The indirect estimation is based on the increase of Google Organic Visits (i.e. visits from the Google search engine results below the ads that are at the top of the page) increasing by end of Jun 2011 by over 1,000 visits/month, where there was an 139% increase from last year in variations of the BGE name being used in the Google search engine to find the site. From this, we would indicate social media (along with other marketing activities) is helping to build the online brand presence. In addition from Direct Visits (i.e. visitors typing in the website name within a browser) by end of Jun 2011 these had increase by at least 500 visits/month. So we have (we think conservatively) estimated social media has had a 25% impact on this.
- The stats are further impressive as BGE prior to June 2010 actually reduced its budget on advertising on Google and the Board Game forum site, which led to a considerable drop in visitors at the time. Although this had minimal impact on sales, as prior to this the campaign settings were optimised on these sites to minimise that impact and to reduce paying for wasted click-throughs from an Ad to the website.
Internet Marketing Activities
- Google Ads: over the 4 month period this year, BGE almost broke even in profit from the sales to the costs of the ads. We would also think this is having an impact on the Google Organic and Direct Visits stats. Google, themselves, say it can take up for a month for a sale to proceed that first started off from an initial click-through to the website from a Google Ad, where we would presume at this point the person making the purchase would go straight to the website instead. So overall Google Ads is proving benefical in driving sales directly and indirectly.
- Board Game Forum Site Advertising: over the 4 month period this year, it would seem to not be delivering in terms of direct sales. It is the number one worldwide forum site for board games (by a mile) but is heavily used in America which is not BGE's market (UK and Europe only). It may, however, be having an indirect impact on the Google Organic and Direct Visits stats but at the moment we find this difficult to conclude without further analysis.
- GamesExpo event: this did lead to a monthly steady increase in visits to the BGE website from the GamesExpo website, with a slight decrease post the event, which led to sales before and post the event. This further helping to cover the costs of the event as they do make sales on the day. We would say this has had a considerable impact on the Google Organic and Direct Visits stats, where the event helped to increase their brand presence offline and in turn online too.
Social Media Activities
- Social Media Overall: from the stats there is high engagement and high amount of recurring visitors, so the activities that BGE are undertaking are working. In terms of the profits from the sales due to referral visits that came via social media this helped to pay for 50% off the cost in having us assist them on a monthly basis. On top of this, in seeing the overall benefit social media seems to be having in building online brand presence and in increasing the Google Organic & Direct Visits on a month by month basis, the profit return over the long term is much higher than the cost in us assisting them. (Good news for us!)
- Facebook: the number of visits to the website since March 2011 has doubled, from the stats we can see high engagement and a really good conversion rate, which at times outperformed Google Organic, Google Ads and Direct Visits conversion rates. (The conversion rate in Google Analytics is tracking indirect visits from websites like Facebook that led to the sales transaction page).
- Twitter: the number of visits to the website since March 2011 has almost doubled, with the product tweets (that we helped scheduled for them) particularly leading to a high amount of recurring visitors. The conversion rate is ok, perhaps room for further improvement when compared to the conversion rates of other online marketing activities.
- LinkedIN: the impact on visitors to the site is very low, however BGE primarily use this to keep in touch with the manufacturers and game designers, so it is not seen as a major issue at this point.
- Blogs (which is on a separate website): the number of visits from this to the retail website since March 2011 has almost doubled and from the stats there is high engagement with high amount of recurring visitors. From this the blog postings would seem to be engaging the readers and then drawing some of them across to the main retail website. We can also see a high amount of visitors going from the retail site to the blog site, so we can imagine some of those visitors going back to the retail site too. From the blog site stats we can see that there are quite a few visitors coming from Facebook too, where as surprisingly a low amount from Twitter (something to be worked on).
- YouTube: this would seem to be underperforming in very low amount of visits from the YouTube channel site to the website and the amount of visitors to the channel page itself could be considered low, definitely something to be further looked into.
Here are some of the key recommendations we made based on the intrepretation of our analysis:
Online Marketing Activities:
- Google Ads: to increase the monthly budget to drive more direct sales and to increase online brand presence to indirectly drive sales too.
- Board Game Forum Site: to continue for the time being until more is known on whether it is having an indirect impact on brand presence and in turn sales. Further analysis should be undertaken before considering whether to lower the budget or even cease advertising on the site.
- GamesExpo: to continue promoting presence in the build up to the event and post it. To also consider looking at other similar events and whether they have a social media presence that could be capitalised on too.
Social Media Activities:
The next review to take place in 4 to 6 months time, watch this space as we will publish some of those conclusions and recommendation that we will come to then, here too.
- Continue increasing social media presence via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, Blogs and YouTube.
- Facebook: to consider running Facebook Ad campaigns to the key age groups identified in the Facebook Insight stats to aggressively grow the fan base. To then continue tracking whether the conversion rate within Google Analytics continues as impressively as it has done earlier this year.
- Website: to improve the presence of Facebook and Twitter icons (perhaps with latest feeds) to be able to further engage visitors to the site via social media.
- Twitter: to increase postings regarding the Blog site and YouTube channel to see whether Twitter followers could be further engaged via these platforms too.
- LinkedIN: to continue as presently doing so. Then in Nov/Dec to increase the presence on this platform, where most business professionals are consumers over this Christmas period.
- YouTube: to further explore ways to increase visitors to the channel and then in turn across to the website.
- Blogs: to further explore ways to increase visitors to the blog site as this is definitely working in terms of engaging the current visitors and helping to drive sales.
- To look at ways to further drive sales (particularly for the European market) through the use of social media monitoring tools to identify new sales leads, something that we are currently looking into on behalf of BGE.