In August, Board Game Extras (BGE) hit the 50% mark in aiming to double the number of hits to the website within 2 years, this was set mid last year. For us this was very pleasing to see due to the impact that social media has had, now driving directly at least 25% more hits per month and indirectly we estimate a further 15% more hits per month since we started mid last year.
In turn, this target was set to try and double the number of sales as well, at the moment they have achieved approx 30% increase. A bit behind mid-way, but with their social media presence really coming on in the last 6 months there is plenty of time to catch up on this and still look to meet the goal next year.
From the analysis work we did for them over June/July we have now come up with a new 45 step action plan based on the recommendations we gave. This will look to further enhance online presence via Google, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIN, YouTube and the blog site. As well as enhancements to the website based on our suggestions. In further discussions with BGE on this, we then delegated the tasks between us and set timescales to implement them in over the next 4 months, as well as those to be looked at further in the New Year.
It is important to note that when further developing (or even starting of) social media presence it is not about actioning everything at once, but in small controlled steps. In BGE's case, so it does not take over their day job with all the other marketing, sales and admin tasks they have to undertake on a day to day basis.
We will be continuing to update this case study area on a month by month basis on the steps we are helping BGE with.
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.
In May, Board Game Extras (BGE) decided they would like to have their product tweets refreshed due to the wider range of board games and accessories they now sell, partly thanks to social media too. Social Media has helped them meet new suppliers online and some of the new products they now sell is because of this. Almost a year ago now we helped them to automate product tweets to go out 4 times a day every day, with this recurring every 2 to 3 months. This has helped their customer base become more aware of the additional products they sell, it has helped to bring in more sales from existing and new customers. The time slots are chosen to not to interfere too much with peak times that people might want to interact with them for queries they may have, as they find Twitter very effective as an online customer service tool. But at the same time, they're keeping their customer base interested in the products they sell, without trying to give a hard sell, so the product tweets try to be more informative about the games themselves.
In refreshing the product tweets we've introduced #tags where appropriate to help get these tweets seen by a wider audience who may not yet be aware of BGE. Some of the #tags are related to board games like #boardgame and #cardsleeves (one of their best selling products), whereas others are related to popular TV shows or films like #gameofthrones (very popular TV series on Sky Atlantic at the moment) and #starwars (obviously very popular film, where some fans of the film would want to play related games). This will be helping them in particular with their European market as their European customer base often tweet in their own language but refer to the appropriate #tag in English. And with most of them having English as their second language, this helps BGE to reach out and grow their market in Europe online via social media, which otherwise would be a very costly marketing exercise.
In April we looked at ways we could further promote Board Game Extra's (BGE) blog and improve its search engine optimisation by building a few more quality referral links. We had already setup the blog to be in the auto-respond message whenever BGE gain a new follower on Twitter. This is a way of getting their blog out (as well as their company name) to a wider audience by providing free useful info to their customer base and engaging with them, without them feeling pressured to buy or getting the hard sell.
One of the things search engines like Google like is having your site link mentioned on other valid relevant sites, this counts as a referral link and can improve your search engine ranking. This is why social media tools like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIN are so popular with search engines as it helps build valid referral links and activity, which also helps to distinguish you from inactive sites. Note we always advise against signing up to link building farming sites, that just have hundreds of links on them but no real relevant content on them, as search engines don't like this and may mark you down in your search engine ranking.
Online bookmarking sites are very popular in the US and are catching on slowly in the UK. These are like saving websites to your favourites within your browser toolbar menu, however instead you're saving them to a website where they can be accessed wherever you are, providing you have internet connection. There are several out there and we tend to recommend Digg & StumbleUpon as these are ranked the highest by search engines. So we set BGE up with Digg & StumbleUpon, configured their account settings and submitted their blogs, approx dozen. We also set them up with Redditt as this is becoming more popular over time and has a particular section on board games that we thought would particularly benefit BGE. We also gave them training on how to submit new blogs themselves to these sites.
At the moment within these online bookmarking sites they may not be getting many views on their blogs but they're acting as valid quality referral links so are helping their blog site push up the search engine rankings, where the name of the game over the long term is to get on to page one. As most people now tend to search for what they're looking for online within search engines. Then as these sites become more popular in the UK they should be in a good position to benefit from this too. Also they are using the sites as research tools to see what other articles have been submitted so they can keep themselves up to date with what is going on in the Board Game industry.
In March, we decided with Board Game Extras (BGE) it was time to look at a Facebook shop application to enable their Fans on Facebook to be able to buy their products directly from the Fan Page. BGE would then re-look at running Facebook Ad campaigns to see if this would generate new sales via Facebook. There was also a recent change in Facebook where you could post as a business to other Fan pages, whereas previously only as a personal profile. This new feature is ideal for BGE as they are now able to post as the business itself on other board game related Fan page sites to engage and gain new fans on Facebook.
We helped them by:
- Setting up and customising the Facebook Shop
- Advising them how to set up the spreadsheet of their products to bulk import them into the Facebook shop
- Advising them on how best to run new Facebook Ad campaigns regarding products in the shop
- Posting on their behalf onto other Fan pages to kick this new process off for them
- Updating their Facebook strategy, their ongoing tasks and when best for BGE to undertake them
Board Game Extras recent thoughts on our assistance:
"6 months on our social media is really beginning to take off. LinkedIn has linked as in with new suppliers (that we now sell new products for and has led to new sales) and with games designers (who have bought accessories from us to help design their new games). Twitter has allowed us to keep customers up to date with new products, allowed us to provide customer service engagement online and to reach out to new customers through keyword tracking. While our facebook page has generated repeat sales from existing customers. These are just some of the examples in how we have benefitted from social media and we're looking forward to how Q Social Media will be helping us further over the next 6 months".