A more fundamental question we’ve touched on but mostly bypassed is this: Do You Even Need Salespeople at All? I mean, Atlassian sort of, kind of, didn’t have any for a long while. Slack and Dropbox got pretty far before adding true sales teams, as did Stripe.
Can’t I just do that, many founders ask? Can’t I just have Customer Happiness Officers instead of … salespeopple?
Well maybe you can. As long as there is enough momentum in your business to hit your revenue goals without a true sales team, then by definition you don’t need one.
And a lot of founders who haven’t managed the revenue side of a business before are sort of anti-Sales. They see it as a bit slimy if they haven’t done it themselves or really worked with a great sales team. Isn’t sales just a bunch of guys in a virtual boiler room, trying to get people to buy stuff they don’t really need? If my product is so great, shouldn’t it sort of sell itself, so long as I have Happiness Officers answering questions and moving things along?
But the “problem” going Just With Happiness Officers is four-fold:
First, what works at the bottom of the market may not work as you tilt just a smidge upmarket. Self-service and almost-self-service models can work well with Happiness Officers, whose goal in part is to be Customer Support on steroids. I.e., not just be reactive but also proactive. Not just respond to tickets but make sure customers are happy with the product and loyal to it. It’s a great strategy for the bottom of the market.
But while that will still work at slightly higher price points, say $99 or $299/month or even a $5k ACV or so … in many categories, above that, your prospects will be expecting to talk to a true salesperson. At least some of them. A Happiness Officer can probably do a decent job here, but ultimately a salesperson is the best fit for someone that wants to talk to sales …
Second, and perhaps most importantly — Happiness Officers are Great Middlers. But Not Openers or Closers. Smart, engaging people who love a product but have no experience in real sales are Middlers. They don’t know how to pick up a phone or an email and really initiate a sale. And they are ill-equipped, or at least highly suboptimized, to ask for the close. It’s not easy to ask for money. Professionals are much better at it than amateurs. “Amateurs” (i.e., those not classically trained in sales) don’t know how to close. They wait and hope for the close to magically happen on its own. Sometimes it does. But you’ll see that once you have someone that knows how to close managing a prospect … a lot more deals close, and close more quickly.
Third, you’ll probably make more money with a true sales team — much more money. It’s just basic math. First, as noted above, more deals will both open, and close, when you have a trained sales professional working with your prospects. And second, and just as importantly — sales professionals know how to maximize the revenue per lead. How to figure out the maximum number of seats that can be closed now, and later. How to get a customer to buy a more comprehensive edition, or set of services, than they might buy without guidance. You may not care so much in the early days. But you’ll quickly care once you have even $1m or $2m in ARR under your belt. Because leads are precious. If a great sales rep can turn a lead into $40 on average … but a Happiness Officer only turns it into $20 on average … and a sales rep can close 50% more often than a Happiness Officer … then, Dude. Putting true sales professionals on these leads is going to increase your revenue per lead by 300%. At least in the segment of your customer base where it makes sense (e.g., $99-$299 MRR and above) to have sales professionals.
We also backed into this math when we talked about Tilting Just a Smidge Upmarket.
Fourth, not having “sales” breaks down in bigger deals and the enterprise. Even Slack and Dropbox had to add traditional enterprise sales teams once they wanted to break into bigger deals. It’s just what customers need for a $100k+ deal. Sales in a $100k deal doesn’t take orders. In the enterprise, sales learns your problems — and solves your problems. In a way self-service and a happiness officer just can’t do on their own, at least not once the product and workflows get complex.
Now, if you’re still on the fence, because you’re very customer-focused … I get it. Trust me, you don’t want a Used Car-type sales rep leading the charge here. But a great SaaS rep doesn’t sell Used Cars. She sells a beautiful, gleaming Tesla Model Y. Or at least, a shiny new Audi A4. Metaphorically speaking. What I mean is, the customers already love your product. The sales rep’s job isn’t to lie, cheat or steal, or convince you that that’s just “surface rust” on the Impala. Rather, it’s to be a trusted guide, a consultant, helping them through the product evaluation and purchasing process around a great product with very high ROI. It’s about learning, bonding, adding true and real value.
And then … asking for the fullest, largest possible check 😉
(Note: a 2020+ update of a classic SaaStr post)
Generative Media: The Future of Visual Marketing
Every minute, Facebook users upload 147,000 photos, and Instagram users post over 347,000 stories. That’s a tremendous amount of content entering the digital space every day—which may be a problem for digital marketers.
In a world where everyone seems to be creating content, it’s simply not enough to develop everyday content anymore.
You need to produce visually appealing, unique content at a high volume, all without overextending your marketing budget.
Let me introduce you to generative media and all its possibilities.
What is Generative Media?
Generative media is computer-generated art or “photographs” as shown below. In other words, it’s not an artist drawing the pictures or creating the design. It’s all made by artificial intelligence (AI). Here’s how it works:
- The artist “instructs” the machine to create content within specific parameters or algorithms.
- Following these algorithms, the machine generates images.
- The artist can change the parameters for creating content at any point.
You can see it as a collaboration between artists and machines—there’s still a creative process that could benefit from a professional artist’s eye. In this medium, the artist hands over some control (and labor) to a computer.
But if you’re not the artistic type? You can give the machine complete control. Here are some examples from Generated.Photos of AI-generated stock photos of faces:
Think of a conventional artist. They can spend hours, days, or even weeks working on the same piece. While this might be okay for personal endeavors, it may not be great for producing scalable marketing content.
Generative media lets this same artist create hundreds, if not thousands, of quality pieces in this same timeframe. All they need to do is set some rules for the computer to follow. The machine will then keep generating content within those parameters until the artist turns the program off or the program runs out of new possibilities.
This isn’t just a visual technique, either. You can use generative media to create music streams, slogans, dialogue, and marketing videos. Let’s take JustEat as an example.
JustEat is a platform to order food straight to their door from their mobile devices. The company collaborated with Snoop Dogg to launch a new ad campaign, and it wanted to extend this to its Australian subsidiary, MenuLog.
The solution? Use AI technology to switch out the name “JustEat” for “MenuLog” and make Snoop Dogg’s lips move differently.
Remember, generative media isn’t just about art or image creation. You can successfully use these techniques across various media to boost your marketing efforts.
The takeaway? Generative media is extremely diverse and works effectively across various mediums.
Are Companies Currently Using Generative Media?
Yes—and far more than you may think! In fact, the worldwide generative media market is expected to reach almost $398 million by 2025. Here are just a few examples of other companies already deploying generative media:
Yelp’s Use of Generative Media
- Compile vast numbers of images
- Identify textures, colors, and shapes in user-submitted photos and generate lists of places with similar features that might appeal to the same users
- Examples might be users who visit a lot of kid-themed restaurants or relaxing bars
Malaria Must Die and Generative Media
The charity “Malaria Must Die” used generative media to allow David Beckham to speak in nine different languages across its campaign videos. They employed video synthesis technology to dub Beckham and made him appear to be speaking those languages.
How Baidu Uses Generative Media
Baidu, a Chinese search engine, uses a generative technique called “Deep Voice” to create synthetic voices to communicate with audiences. The algorithm “clones” someone’s real voice to be used for everything from marketing videos to campaign slogans.
Where it took an extremely long time for even one voice to be created in the past, now it takes less than 30 minutes of data training for each—and they’re working on thousands.
Other Terms for “Generative Media”
You might see other terms like “generative art” and “code art” around the internet. They are just different names for generative media. Here’s a list of terms currently used for generative media:
- Generative design
- Generative art
- Algorithm art
- Evolutionary art
- Synthetic art
- Code art
- Procedural art
This isn’t an all-inclusive list, but it gives you an idea of how broad and varied generative media can be across different industries.
Why Should Marketers Care About Generative Media?
Generative media is not just about content creation in the strictly artistic sense. It’s about improving the overall user experience visually. Let me give you an example.
Say you’re hosting an event to showcase your brand. Rather than opting for static, unchanging backdrops, you may want eye-catching backdrops to draw crowds. Additionally, you could want people to engage with the display, whether it’s by taking photographs or videos to share on social media or merely immersing themselves in a stunning visual experience.
Generative media makes this possible because you can somewhat easily (and cost-effectively) program algorithms to generate new patterns, images, and videos on-screen.
The best part? There’s no need to draw all these patterns yourself or employ an artist to create them. The algorithm does the work for you.
What can we take from this? Generative media may improve your engagement levels because the technique provides an immersive experience.
Still not entirely convinced it’s worth checking out? Here are some statistics to bear in mind:
- Over 70% of people prefer personalized ads. By combining generative media with other techniques like machine learning, you can customize everything from emails to videos with names and individual preferences, giving users a deeply immersive ad experience.
- On Facebook, over 500 million people watch videos every single day. Customize your videos, use them to showcase your brand personality, and make them engaging to try to capitalize on this high traffic volume.
- Including fresh, interactive content in your email marketing can boost click-to-open rates by 73%.
- Around 72% of people prefer videos and visual content to text marketing, which means visual media should be central to your marketing strategy.
Identifying Opportunities for the Use of Generative Media
Speaking of digital marketing strategies, here are some tips for identifying ways you can use generative media across your business:
- Does your marketing strategy rely on high volume content creation? Integrating AI or generative art can help you produce the quantity of diverse content you need—without compromising on quality.
- Consider customer reach. If you’re trying to reach audiences across the world (for example, if you’re a vlogger or you frequently use videos), generative media may help you communicate in various languages by generating voice scripts, as we saw earlier.
- Are you customer-focused? Using generative media to personalize ads and videos could help you build brand loyalty.
- Use generative media to stand out and boost your brand profile at one-off events. For example, you can deploy algorithm art on jumbotrons or posters.
In other words, generative media may help you build the story behind your brand, expand your customer reach, and increase engagement levels by providing a highly immersive experience.
And it doesn’t matter what kind of company you run. Take Yelp, for example. At first glance, it’s not the kind of brand you’d commonly associate with generative media or machine learning. But that just shows there’s no limit to which companies can adopt generative media into their marketing strategies.
Creating a Generative Media Project
Whether you’re ready to tackle your own generative media project or you plan on outsourcing the work to a freelancer, you have some steps to take. Let’s take a look at both of these options.
Creating Your Own Generative Art
Want to flex your art skills and design your own project? First, you need to get some tools.
You can choose open-source software that lets you create your own coded art or assistive creative apps for building songs and icons. These tools are relatively cost-effective and easy to use if you have some basic coding knowledge.
Once you’ve figured out your way through the new tools, you can either let the computer “decide” what designs to create, or you can set your own parameters. Check out platforms like YouTube for hints and tips. You can also download premade generative art from websites like Generated Photos.
Outsourcing Generative Art Projects
If you’re not artistic, don’t have time to learn the trade, and there are no team members you can use, it may be best to outsource content creation. Hire a freelance artist to work with your team—check out platforms like Creativepool to find talent.
Alternatively, if you’re only looking for one or two pieces, you can buy some premade generative artwork from platforms like Etsy.
Using Generative Art in Your Marketing Strategy
Ready to use generative media in your digital marketing campaigns? Here’s how I’d move forward.
- Be clear about what you’re trying to achieve. How will generative art support your marketing goals? Are you using it for a one-off event, or will it become part of your brand’s story?
- Set a clear budget for how much you can spend. If you plan on distributing posters or creating pamphlets, don’t forget to factor in the cost of printing and materials. You’ll also need to cover artists’ fees or subscriptions to software platforms, if applicable.
- Check out your competitors. What are they working on? How are they using social media?
- Consider how you will promote your use of generative media. Will you take to social media to tell your customers about it? Or will you take it one step further and work on a press campaign?
Don’t forget to set a schedule for reviewing your progress and tracking your metrics, too. What are you looking for?
Marketing aims to convert leads to customers, so you need to know if your generative media is working for you. Consider tracking:
You could also try A/B testing, which lets you compare one version of an ad campaign against another. Does your generative media campaign outperform your other campaigns? My A/B Testing Calculator can help you here.
Popular Generative Artists
If you want to check out generative media for yourself, here are some of the most popular generative creators changing the art scene:
Bradley G. Munkowitz, or “GMUNK,” uses a blend of light projections, artwork, and other visual effects to create programmable displays and adverts for events, conferences, exhibits, and concerts.
With a client list including Dolby, Maserati, and Nike, it’s safe to say GMUNK is a top artist in this field.
Hansmeyer uses generative techniques to create 3D architecture. His exhibits can be found across the world, from Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum to Design Miami/Basel.
He uses generative art to explore the intersection between the unexpected and the expected and believes in the power of AI to speed up and enhance the creative process.
Taryn Southern is best known as the first artist to use AI to compose and produce an entire album. Named one of the Top 20 Women in VR, she’s performed at major events, including Google’s AI Summit and VidCon.
A co-founder of Google’s Artists and Machine Intelligence (AMI) program, Mike Tyka is one of the first artists to “draw” portraits using generative media. They’re created by a neural network trained to “visualize” imaginary people and draw what it “sees.”
How are you finding generative media? Have you tried it out yet?
How Long It Roughly Takes to Close a Deal in SaaS. And Why.
Q: How long does it usually take to close a deal in SaaS?
Ok here’s a really rough set of timelines to how long it takes to close an Opportunity in SaaS:
- A $5k deal, or say $499 a month, can often be closed in a call or two. Certainly the buying decision that can be made in a day, a week, or at least the same month.
- A $20k-$50k deal often takes 2–3 months. At this deal size, there is some real cost to the decision, and often, more work to deploy it internally. A few weeks of discovery of a potential vendor or two, a few demos, internal discussion, and planning. Then a month or so to make the decision, negotiate price, and sign. If there’s a pilot, add that to the timeline. But this deal size isn’t usually large enough to be budgeted in mid-sized and larger companies. There usually is room for at least a handful of discretionary purchases at this deal size, that can happen any time of the year. For example, when I was a VP in a Fortune 500 Tech Company, I had a $400,000 budget for discretionary, additional software purchases a year for my team.
- A $100k+ deal is often budgeted and often takes about 6 months. That means it’s on an annual planning cycle in many cases, and will generally have multiple stakeholders. These often take a few months of discovery and some formal vendor comparison. And importantly, the “deal driver” and project owner often no longer own the actual budget itself. It’s their boss’ budget. So there is further negotiation and discussion with the VP/SVP above them that owns the budget, but often not the problem itself (and solution to it) directly. This adds more time. And then, as the deal size gets bigger — add even more time here for procurement in many cases. This often adds 2-4 weeks at the end of any bigger deal, as procurement negotiates price down once again. That’s their job. Budget for it.
- A $500k-$1m+ deal often bleeds into the next year. This doesn’t mean it always takes 12+ months to close. But the decision, the formal RFP process, the budgeting, all takes more than 1 year. A decision to buy a $500k-$1m+ piece of software this year has usually already been made the prior year, and often discussed the year before that. If you are the clear leader in the space, and drop into the timing of this process right as the “Ok Let’s Finally Go” flag is waved, you can close one of these deals in 3–6 months in many cases. But behind the scenes, there usually was a year or more of work on the customer side getting to that point. And thus, a great enterprise marketer is building those relationships often 2+ years ahead of the lead becoming fully qualified.
A great VP of Sales will pull these timelines forward a bit, sometimes quite a bit. And having the clear #1 brand overall or in a key segment helps shorten things, too. But you can’t change the multiple stakeholders, the RFP processes, and the discovery processes themselves.
In the early days, the longer sales cycles will drive you nuts. But then later, as you cross maybe $5m-$10m in ARR, you’ll have more of these deals in the pipeline. And you’ll start to layer and stagger them on top of each other. And you’ll get a bit more zen about sales cycles themselves, and more focused on shortening them as much as possible, and increasing the odds each bigger deal closes.
A few other ideas that can help:
- Specialize the sales team early. Do this earlier rather than later. Putting the bigger deals in the hands of folks that get good at them shortens sales cycles and increases the odds the deals close. And putting smaller, higher volume deals in the hands of your quick closers also gets more of them closed as well. No, you don’t need to round-robin every lead forever, or even for very long. Almost everyone waits too long to specialize the sales team. You can do it even at $2m ARR. A bit more here.
- Don’t fear the RFP. Get good at it. RFPs are so much work, and sometimes, the game is already rigged against you. But as you specialize the sales team, find a way to get them some help on RFPs. Getting good at them helps a lot in larger deals.
- Don’t fear pilots. Get good at them. If you hate pilots because they often don’t close, maybe instead of avoiding them, you should get better at them. Hire a team to own pilots and deployments, at least 1 to start.
- Embrace SOC 2, Security Audits, etc. Get ahead here — not behind. If you want to go enterprise, stop explaining why you aren’t SOC-2 compliant, or dragging your feet on security audits. Just get compliant, and get good at the related processes. This will materially decrease sales cycles, and increase win rates.
- As CEO, talk to more prospects. Customers love, love, love to talk to the CEO. Try to talk to as many prospects as possible. Give the sales team a quota of how many deals they can bring you into, without feeling like they are “bothering you”.
- Bring Customer Success into bigger deals earlier. Treat larger deals as deals you just have to win, and bring in customer success early, so there’s more help covering more stakeholders, questions, and potential deployment.
- Hire a VP of Sales that is best at your core price point. A VP of Sales with a ton of enterprise experience won’t be great at the high volume of smaller deals. A VP of Sales with a background in transactional sales will get frustrated with the demands of larger deals. No one is great at all of it, but try to hire a VP of Sales who has the most experience with the core ACV you’ll have in say 12 months from now. A bit more on this here.
How to Level up Your Writing Skills for Irresistible PPC Ads
Marketers and business owners alike know the inherent value of PPC ads. With 64.6% of consumers interacting with Google ads when online shopping, it’s no wonder PPC ad creation is growing exponentially.
While you may have aced your keyword research, gotten to know your budget intimately, and A/B tested relentlessly, your PPC campaigns may still be falling short of their desired goal.
How can you craft PPC ads that stand out from the crowd with such a highly saturated market?
Strong, compelling writing skills.These should be nurtured to drive conversions.
The Importance of Good Writing Skills for PPC Ad Copy
Google and Bing both reward superior writing with higher quality scores, earning you increased visibility and decreased cost per ad.
While lowered cost is always a good thing, the real importance of good writing skills for PPC ad copy is audience reach and interaction.
With limited character space at your disposal, you need your PPC ad copy to attract audience attention and hold that attention long enough to result in the desired reaction to your CTA.
Which component of your ad is attracting and holding that vital attraction?
You need to ensure your copy is doing three things: working hard enough to earn that initial attention from your desired audience, speaking toward a specific pain point or need for that audience, and providing a clear, actionable CTA.
Without these three factors at work compellingly on the page, your PPC ad copy will more likely than not be lost to the ether of the internet.
How Can You Identify “Good” Writing in PPC and Ad Copy?
To best learn how to improve your own ad copywriting skills, look no further than existing ads that have achieved their purpose.
Here, the purpose is simple: purchase the Maybelline BB cream.
The writer drives the searcher to this desired action through copy that is clear and concise.
The copy also draws on the emotional promise of “A good skin day, every day,” promising an ideal vision.
From selecting the CTA to the product description to the harnessing of emotion via the value proposition, this PPC ad is a lesson in strong writing skills.
Field Company Example:
On the other end of the product spectrum is an ad for a cast iron skillet from Field Company.
Here, the purpose is also to drive a purchase, but this ad is missing key components to make it successful.
This ad lacks a strong CTA and is not making a clear bid for the searcher’s next step.
While the writer takes a stab at an effective emotional trigger by sharing the organization’s family-owned background, this piece of information is not as compelling as the Maybelline advertisement.
Although these two ads offer customers quite different products, they harness the same writing skills to sell their product, relying on language to attract, hold, and, ideally, convert.
Writing Skills PPC Copywriters Should Have
Above all, the successful PPC copywriter must be deeply familiar with their target audience.
Successful identification of this audience and a deep understanding of their wants and needs is integral to success.
You may be the best writer in the world, but without a clear understanding of who you are speaking to, what you say doesn’t matter at all.
In addition to audience awareness, PPC copywriters should possess:
- Understanding of user experience
- Polished writing skills
- Marketing awareness
These four writing skills support the creation of direct, compelling content. By harnessing all these capabilities, writers can not only reach but also convert their intended audience.
5 Tips for Improving PPC Copywriting Skills
Some of the best ways to improve your writing skills is to make sure your copy speaks to what users are looking for during their buyer journey. Here are some of the top ways to make sure your writing is converting ads into paying customers.
1. Conversational Conversion Writing Skills
While the following tips all address the more technical aspects of honing writing skills for PPC ad creation, the most important factor to keep in mind is your audience.
You are speaking directly to a targeted individual, so you want to ensure all the crafted copy underlines this individual’s interests and challenges and solves the query they were, consciously or subconsciously, seeking.
This can be achieved by using shared language that is specific to your audience.
In this way, the best writers are also the best researchers. You need to truly understand the terminology associated with the product you’re trying to sell.
By incorporating terms specific to your chosen audience, you establish a silent rapport with your audience, building trust and interaction.
2. The Devil Is in the Details
Good writing is in the details. Whether you’re writing a CTA or crafting an ad in response to a history of search queries, you need to be specific and detail-oriented.
When you’re sharpening your writing skills for ad copy, you want to be sure to meet each search at its level of detail.
The more specific the search, the more precise the ad. By the same principle, the less specific the query, the less specific the copy.
Every time a search is queried, a potential customer is identifying what they want.
When you note the level of detail present and respond in kind, you’re infinitely more likely to satisfy that customer’s need.
3. Creating a Call-to-Action
Your CTA needs to do a lot of heavy lifting in your PPC ad copy.
It should be clear, direct, and concise. These conditionals that all rely on strong writing skills.
Remember specifics? They’re important here, too. Your CTA should specifically share what your intended action is for the would-be consumer.
Whether it is “read now” or “enter to win,” the potential customer needs to be clear on their next interaction with the PPC ad.
To sharpen awareness of that next step, be sure to start your CTA with a strong action word.
“Download,” “shop,” and “discover” are just a few examples of many verbs that can encourage your audience to take the intended action.
4. Emotional Charge Writing Skills
In addition to the specificity of action, it’s also important to inspire your audience with the specificity of emotion.
Everyone knows emotions can impact advertising success.
By using words that elicit enthusiasm or emotion, you incite a reaction in your audience, driving them to take the next step.
A Buffer analysis of the IPA dataBANK, which contains 1,400 case studies of ad campaigns, found that campaigns with emotional ad content performed twice as well as their rational counterparts.
Below are the top ten emotions to evoke when you’re writing ad copy:
The best ad campaigns harness this emotional power, so be sure to include emotionally charged language in your copy.
5. The Art of the Arc
Every good writer knows that every good story has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
This tenet shouldn’t only be present in narrative but also should exist in every piece of writing you execute.
Whether you’re crafting a tweet, an Instagram post, or a PPC ad, your copy should have a clear beginning, middle, and end.
As consumers, we’ve been taught this structure since infancy, so it’s a pattern we’re accustomed to recognizing.
When employed in your PPC ad copy, you create a familiar structure for your audience, allowing them to interact with the ad in a known way.
This familiarity is beneficial as it gives the reader an intuitive path to follow, which ends with the action explicitly stated in your expertly crafted CTA.
3 Tools to Improve PPC and Ad Writing Skills
If you’re looking for more guidance on sharpening your writing skills, there are plenty of resources available.
The Hemingway App helps identify clunky or overly complicated sentences, allowing you to be more concise and direct in your copy.
Try the Copyhackers’ Conversion Copywriting 101, a free course that teaches you how to prioritize purpose and conversion in your writing, regardless of medium.
To improve your headline prowess, check out the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer. This tool helps you optimize your blog headlines for maximum performance and can work for ads as well.
The tools and tips highlighted in this post can make your ads outshine those of your competitors and lend you a creative edge in drafting other marketing copy.
As you start getting more comfortable with these writing practices and deploying them in your work, you’ll see your PPC ads start to perform better than ever before.
After all, with practice comes PPC success.
What is the best PPC ad campaign you’ve seen?
How to Create the Best Facebook Cover Photos for Your Business
Thing is, that’s just not supported by the user data. In reality, Facebook has barely seen a slowdown in audience growth at any point in the last 12 years. It’s been super consistent:
With approximately 2.5 billion monthly active users, Facebook is comfortably bigger than Twitter, Snapchat, Reddit, and Instagram combined.
So what does this tell us?
Simply put, if you’re a brand, you can’t afford to ignore Facebook. It might not be your audience’s favorite social platform, but they’ll almost certainly be on there, which means you need to be, too. You should be using it to promote your products, advertise your brand, and generally represent your company.
The starting point for all of those things is your Facebook Business Page. Your current and prospective customers or subscribers will visit it to check you out, see what you’re talking about, and engage with your content.
What’s the first thing they’ll see? Your Facebook cover photo. Read on to learn how to make a Facebook cover photo that shows off your brand in the best possible light.
Steps to Create an Effective Facebook Cover Photo
Ever heard of Hitchcock’s rule? Named for the legendary movie director, it states that the size of an object on-screen should be proportional to its impact on the story at that specific moment.
Well, given that your Facebook cover photo takes up almost half the page on desktop …
… it’s reasonable to say Facebook considers it pretty important! You’ve got a whole lot of digital real estate to play with, so you definitely want to make it count.
Designing a Facebook cover photo for your business page is much more than just choosing an eye-catching picture, cropping it to the right dimensions, and publishing it. Here are five key considerations to creating a cover photo that draws your audience in.
1. Keep Your Facebook Cover Photo Simple
Facebook used to say only 20 percent of your cover photo could be made up of text, but it dropped that rule in 2013.
With all that space to play with, and no limit on the amount of text you can include, it’s tempting to cram in as much information as possible. Don’t do that.
When it comes to creating an impactful Facebook cover photo, simplicity is your friend. Focus on communicating a single message as clearly as possible, so your audience is in no doubt of what you’re trying to say.
Apple does this better than most. While the tech giant famously doesn’t really “do” social, its branding on Facebook is still spot on.
Apple’s Facebook cover photo is an exercise in simplicity: no words, just one clean and instantly recognizable product image showcasing its iconic MacBook. The use of color is super effective, naturally drawing your eyes to the center of the image.
2. Complement Your Brand Through a Facebook Cover Photo
Can you sum up your entire brand in a single image? It’s not as simple as it sounds! But that’s exactly what you need to do with your Facebook cover photo. If it doesn’t complement your brand, you risk confusing your audience.
Adidas is a huge brand that sells everything from skateboarding sneakers to golf attire. It’s pretty tricky to encapsulate such a huge brand in one picture, so Adidas has chosen to combine three separate images for its Facebook cover photo.
This works really well, allowing the brand to speak to three different markets at the same time. In one cover image, Adidas encapsulates men’s and women’s sportswear, plus streetwear.
3. Keep Your Audience Front of Mind
As humans, we find it easier to connect with people than abstract concepts or inanimate objects. That’s why so many of the best Facebook cover photos feature images of people.
Of course, if you’re going to represent and speak to your audience through your cover photo, you first need to understand who they are. Fortunately, Facebook gives you a couple ways to find this out:
Facebook’s Audience Insights tool allows you to deep dive into the demographics, page likes, location, and Facebook activity of people who follow your page, are based in your area, or are interested in brands like yours. For instance, here’s a bunch of demographic information for people who like Major League Baseball:
By visiting your Facebook Business page, you can find out who engages with it most in the Actions on Page section. It shows you who clicked your contact information, call-to-action (CTA) button, or website, and segments the information by age, gender, device, and location.
So what does all this information tell us? Well, say you discover 80 percent of the people who follow your page are men, 75 percent live in Mexico and speak Spanish as their first language, and 90 percent are between the ages of 18 and 25. Your Facebook cover photo should probably incorporate a young Mexican man and maybe some Spanish text.
Here are a couple of examples of how Google targets its various audiences through its cover photos. First off, the brand’s UK Facebook page incorporates a bunch of cartoony imagery featuring recognizably British landscapes and structures like the Angel of the North, Stonehenge, and a red London bus.
Meanwhile, the Google Students cover photo features pictures of young people from diverse backgrounds, often working in teams, and all using technology. In other words, they’re exactly the sort of people you’d expect to be interested in a Google page aimed at students.
4. Pair the Facebook Cover Photo With Your Profile Pic
Just as your Facebook cover photo should complement your brand, it should also go hand in hand with your profile picture.
That’s really important because they sit alongside one another at the top of your Facebook Business Page. If they don’t fit together naturally, the results can be pretty jarring.
Nike is America’s most famous clothing and footwear brand, with 99% audience recognition, so it’s no real surprise that the company gets its Facebook branding perfect.
With just three words, two colors, and the classic “swoosh” logo, Nike somehow manages to encapsulate its whole brand across its cover photo and profile picture.
5. Promote Your Products and Events Through a Facebook Cover Photo
When your cover photo takes up so much space, why wouldn’t you use it to talk about the things you want to promote? Whether that’s a new product, a special offer, a big piece of content, or an event, your cover photo is a fantastic place to show it off.
For example, PlayStation uses its cover image to showcase a high-profile new release for its PS5 console. Notice how the brand combines this with a CTA urging people to play the game, effectively transforming the top half of its business page into an interactive advert.
Taking things in a different direction, Gucci’s Facebook cover photo and profile picture are given over to promoting an online event, Guccifest.
Again, the fashion brand has added some interactivity by including a scannable QR code in its cover photo. The whole image is extremely text-heavy, which isn’t what you’d expect from a brand selling a physical product, but in Gucci’s case, this just makes the cover photo even more striking.
4 Steps to Designing an Impactful Facebook Cover Photo
Now that you understand the theory behind creating a striking Facebook cover photo for your business, it’s time to make it happen for your brand. Follow this simple four-step process to turn your Facebook cover photo vision into reality.
1. Pick a Facebook Cover Photo CTA Technique That Works for You
Take another look at all those Facebook cover photo examples I included above. None of them could appear in all five sections.
The PlayStation example is really effective at promoting a product, but it arguably doesn’t pair up well with the brand’s profile picture. Nike keeps things simple, complements its brand, and matches its profile image, but doesn’t directly feature its audience or showcase a product.
Does that mean they’re all bad cover photos? Far from it. Instead, this demonstrates that your Facebook cover photo shouldn’t be all things to all people. Pick out one or two of those techniques and use them to inform your image. For instance:
- About to launch a high-profile new product? Use your cover photo to promote it.
- Got a really specific audience? Speak directly to them in your cover photo.
- Have a recognizable logo or slogan? Keep your cover photo super simple; let your branding do the talking.
2. Choose a Facebook Cover Photo Editing Tool
You don’t need to be a skilled graphic designer to create an effective Facebook cover photo. There are tons of easy-to-use, free photo editing tools that do all the hard work for you.
Arguably the most popular is Canva. It’s free to sign up and features a bunch of Facebook cover photo templates cropped to the correct dimensions. To find them, create your own Canva profile, select social media imagery, and choose the dedicated Facebook Cover option:
Just one word of caution here: While Canva is free to use, you’ll need to pay for some of the design elements.
There are lots of other options, too. If Canva isn’t working for you, try PicMonkey, Visme, Snappa, Bannersnack, or countless others.
3. Start With a Photo
Again, unless you’re a qualified graphic designer (or have access to one), you’re likely looking for the simplest possible way to create an impactful Facebook cover photo.
In that case, you definitely want to start by finding a suitable image. Something that encapsulates your brand and speaks to your audience.
Just as there are lots of brilliant graphic design tools available online, there are also tons of fantastic free stock image libraries packed with hundreds of thousands of visuals you can use to design your cover photo.
Alternatively, feel free to incorporate your existing website imagery if you’re planning to use your cover photo to showcase a product or service.
4. Remember to Use the Right Facebook Cover Photo Size
Last but not least, you must use the right dimensions for your cover photo. Otherwise, Facebook will crop or stretch it and all your hard work designing a beautiful, eye-catching image will be wasted.
So what are the right dimensions? There’s no easy answer, as frustrating as that sounds. Because 70 percent of Facebook users access the site on their phones, your cover photo has to work across both desktop and mobile. Yet cover photos display differently based on the device you’re using:
- On desktop, the cover photo displays at 820 pixels wide by 312 pixels tall
- On mobile, it displays at 640 pixels wide by 360 pixels tall
If you want to use a single image that works across both formats, Buffer recommends cropping it to 820 pixels wide by 462 pixels tall.
As an absolute minimum, Facebook says your cover photo should be 400 pixels wide and 150 pixels tall. It also advises keeping your image to less than 100 kilobytes for the fastest-possible loading.
Remember that your Facebook cover photo isn’t just a striking image. Choosing the right one for you isn’t necessarily about utilizing the brightest colors or the boldest copy.
It has to tie into your brand, speak to your audience, and effectively communicate your message. Ideally, anyone who knows your brand already should find it instantly recognizable.
If you’re struggling, remember the value of keeping things simple. Don’t try to be too abstract or clever. A basic image that clearly represents who you are and what you do will be much more effective than something complex that leaves people scratching their heads.
How are you using your Facebook Business Page to generate leads or sales?
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