Episode 7 – The Rude Growth Podcast: today we will be running through our experiences of promoting our CBD website via Instagram over the last 12 months. We will cover what we did, what worked and what didn’t work. You can check out our Instagram page by searching for The CBD Supplier.
Possible ways to promote your CBD brand can seem restrictive due to the fact it is hard to advertise via Facebook Ads or Google Adwords. While this is not impossible and a handful of brands are actively running pay per click campaigns, it is more complex than if you were to sell non-CBD products.
Instagram seems to be the most popular way for people to promote their CBD shop due to its ease of setting up and posting. However creating a loyal following that engages with your content and actively converts to website traffic and ultimately sales is more difficult.
Personally I have found Instagram hard to utilise for our digital marketing agency. While we could post pictures of our previous work, we have not invested the time or the effort to become an authority within the design agency industry, our focus has been on driving traffic via SEO and organic ranking. The reason being is if someone who finds our website via Google they are more than likely to be further down the sales funnel and actively wanting our services rather than someone scrolling through Instagram on their lunch break.
Initial Phase & Testing
However with CBD and Ecommerce, this provided us with a good opportunity to really test Instagram and the benefits of being active on the platform. For the majority of 2020, we tried two different tactics to test the water. Initially we used an agency to schedule 1 post a day over a 2 month period with the aim of growing the account. This did work to some extent but the main method used to grow the account seems to have been, the more you follow, the more followers you get back. This seem disadvantageous as these followers have no interest in purchasing from your website.
There are a lot of people offering these services and I find it hard to see the return on investment. This package was priced at £300 per month. While our account grew to around 300 followers, website traffic didn’t improve and this was typical of what I expected of such a service.
While we didn’t have the budget nor the time to find a suitable person to actively grow our account, we employed a virtual assistant from Upwork to simply post every day using a template we made from the website Canva. The posts were super simple, alternating in colour and promoting a different product each day. This lowered our cost to £200 per month with the sole aim of keeping the account active until we were ready to grow the account.
Targeting & Growth Strategy
Luckily for us, at the turn of the year a close friend was on furlough due to Covid and looking for some part time work. While she didn’t have a professional background of managing an Instagram account, she is in her mid-twenties so well experienced with using social media, hungry and had her own Instagram account promoting restaurants and food throughout London.
This really was a blessing. Initially we were planning to just continue the regular posting however Jessica really took to the role and through her initiative began to grow the account organically and not by simply following other accounts en masse. We continued to post daily but expanded the content to cover our blog posts while also adding Instagram stories. During this time, we narrowed down our target audience to females interested in wellbeing and femcare.
The effort and time spent creating posts and growing our account significantly increased over a four month period costing us around £550 per month. During this period our followers grew from around 450 towards the end of 2020 to around 850 followers in April of 2021. While our followers have increased, interaction is minimal and website traffic directly from Instagram account, according to Google Analytics accounts for 12 website visits in a 4 month period.
While reviewing our Instagram analytics, the majority of our followers are male, this directly contradicts the fact that the main consumer of CBD is in fact female and this leads me to believe the large proportion of our followers are not consumers of CBD but actually other companies selling CBD.
To flip the male to female ratio of followers, one tactic which saw the best uptake in followers and interactions was by running a competition each month with a prize giveaway of CBD. To enter the competition, the entrant had to comment on our post, usually by tagging a friend with the hope they would do the same. They also had to like our Instagram page to enter.
Our first competition was a success with around 100 comments/entrants, our second competition was rather disappointing receiving around only 30 entrants. We posted the second competition on 5+ different Facebook groups but we just couldn’t encourage further entries. It is possible the key difference between the two competitions was the fact the first giveaway was of a national brand while the second giveaway was of a newly launched CBD range.
For our most recent competition, the brand is known as ‘Our Remedy’ and is relatively well known within our target audience with 6000+ Instagram followers. The initial stages of the competition went well with close to 100 entrants within the first week. We then placed advertisements on 3 different competition websites for free, as well as Reddit and this made our post explode! When the competition started, we were stuck at around 800 followers, 2 weeks later with the competition closed, we had 1,128 followers, 267 likes on the competition post and a total of 554 comments!
By specifically running competitions with female led products, we are seeing our account demographic change and have now flipped the male to female demographic from 60/40 to 51/49 in favour of females. Personally I believe that is a great success and the first step to creating a strong audience via Instagram.
We have completely scaled back posting every day as this takes time to create the post and I am not convinced of the return on investment in doing so. Instead we are going to concentrate on 2 – 3 posts per week to ensure we keep the account active and then run a competition once or twice a month targeting our chosen demographic of females.
While the competition was a success in relation to entrants, engagement and increasing followers, there was no significant increase of website traffic, but we did sell one product related to the brand involved in the competition. Hopefully this will improve as our following increases and we work on more ways to encourage sales directly through our website.