In online marketing we’re bombarded with new rules to follow and ways to follow them, but what if the smartest way to spend on Facebook and Google is to stop spending as much?
Enter Kay Kestler, CEO of Strictly Weddings, an online luxury bridal media outlet. She partners with top tier, luxury brands to feature their products and services on her website. However, the most attractive incentive in her partner packages is the complimentary one: brand visibility on social media’s most influential wedding industry page in the world. Strictly Weddings’ Facebook page is closing in on five million engaged followers, and it’s gaining over one hundred thousand fans a week. Posts reach almost ten million viewers a week and they are racking up over seven million clicks a week. The best part? By leveraging her social media influence with her paid partnership packages, she is the one getting checks in the mail, not Facebook.
A post on the Strictly Weddings’ page from an upscale brand like the Trump hotel in Chicago can organically reach hundreds of thousands of fans, and garner upwards of 10 percent click-through rates. How does that rank? Phenomenal when, in advertising terms, the average click-through rate for consumer packaged goods (CPG) was 0.60 percent in Q4 of 2014.
Even by Facebook standards these numbers are off the charts, with the average engagement rate for a post on a business page with over 1 million fans at a mere 0.11 percent in 2014.
So if her click-through and engagement rates aren’t enough of a Facebook-ad-killer, she’s doing it for a fraction of the cost. Facebook’s cost per click for consumer packaged goods averaged $0.66 in Q4 2014. How much does a click cost at Strictly Weddings? If we use her highest tier partner package (since social media cross promotion is a complimentary bonus to her partners), it is astonishingly less than that. Strictly Weddings’ top partners, based on our calculations would theoretically be paying, on average, $0.0045 per click. This is in addition to partner exposure on the Strictly Weddings website, which attracts approximately two hundred fifty thousand page views a month.
How the hell is she doing it?
1. She created her own category. The key here is that the market loathes traditional advertising. The luxury customers know when they’re being fed a sales pitch and have trained themselves to ignore them. She’s not a traditional bridal vendor. She’s not a traditional magazine. She’s not a traditional product placement firm. She’s created a category of Luxury Affiliate Marketing that, as of yet, has no other big players.
2. She is ravaging her competition with her advertising costs. Who are her competitors? Bridal and luxury magazines, Facebook, and Google. No other bridal or luxury magazine can offer a fraction of what Strictly Weddings offers at her price point.
Premier partners on the Strictly Weddings “Luxe List” benefit from a yearly media package that includes 3 SEO-optimized blogs written by her team and a 12-photo listing on the Strictly Weddings website. The social media cross promotion is a free perk; but if we based pricing of Strictly Weddings’ premium package, her top tier wedding vendors are paying much less than one cent per click. No competitor can even come close to this kind of value in the niche market advertising world.
3. She built a new model. The Facebook and Google ad models are exhausting, but many companies have just accepted as fate that they need to keep those ads running to maintain their online presence. Strictly Weddings built a partnership model of Luxury Affiliate Marketing that her partners and fans love. Her posts don’t feel like advertisements or product placements, so Facebook fans feel no guilt in sharing her lavish and awe-inspiring material. Her partners have no regrets and report daily spikes as large as a thousand organic new fans each time she tags them or shares one of their posts.
4. She found a niche market. Luxury products appeal to a niche market. Luxury bridal products appeal to an even smaller market. Strictly Weddings is not the only company to recognize its potential. Take Google: their suggested Adwords bid for “luxury hotel Chicago” is over $10. That’s $10 per click. They know, and fully expect, hotels in Chicago will bid this much to have their website listed in searches for those keywords. Kay Kestler saw an opportunity and ran with it. She is offering companies in this market, like luxury hotels, the opportunity for massive exposure at a fraction of the cost.
5. She raised the bar. Strictly Weddings grew because the material that Kay chooses to post is stunning. She requires the same from partner submissions. Affiliate marketing and online marketing have, unfortunately, waned to the lowest common denominator. We know what banner ads on websites tend to look like: Amazon listings, Groupon deals, and the like. Kay forbids it. Her restrictions and denials have paid off. She leaves her fan’s mouth agape with her inspired ideas and lavish weddings.
So? Try it. Go into your Facebook page and see how much it will be to boost a post to get 2 million clicks or to reach 9.5 million people. One post alone might be your entire marketing budget. Compare that to Strictly Weddings premiere package rates (available upon request), and the value is almost unbelievable. Take Berta, a high-fashion bridal gown designer, whose Facebook page started with six thousand likes before becoming a partner on the Luxe List. With the help of Strictly Weddings, Berta now has close to two hundred thousand Facebook fans, and her gowns are available in fifty-one boutiques across the globe. This is unprecedented growth for a page in the niche of haute-couture bridal.