Kickstagrams’ Marketing Automation Success Story
I had an opportunity to speak with the two cofounders at last month’s InfusionCon User Conference (ICON) to learn more about how automation made such a sudden impact on their business, as well as to get a few tips on how to get more traffic from Instagram.
Below is an edited transcript from our conversation. To see the entire interview, click on the embedded video below.
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Small Business Trends: Let’s talk a little bit about how you guys got started. Maybe give us a little bit of your personal backgrounds and how you guys got started with Kickstagram.
Ronan Galvin: After college I went over to China and started sourcing and manufacturing products for clients back in the States, and then Casey and I hooked up because it was too hard to do it just from China. So Casey was in the States, and he would travel back to China and meet up and, visit factories, and whatnot.
As we were starting our business, Kickstarter was also taking off, and social media, Instagram, too, around that time, 2012, 2013, something like that.
We would get a lot of clients. They would be successful with their Kickstarter, then they were like, “now how do we fulfill our products,” whether it’s watches, or a new little tech device or something like that. Friends of friends were like, “Hey, you guys are in China. Can you get this product?” Then we would oversee the manufacturing and the development of that, and then ship it back to them.
Now after we fulfilled on the Kickstarters, we had selfish interests in the fact that the more they sold, the bigger our commission would be, so it was like after the Kickstarter they were like, “Well, now what do we do? Can we go into retail?” They didn’t really have access to a retail distribution chain, so it was obviously eCommerce. One thing with eCommerce was, social media. So 2012, 2013, ’14-ish, it was able to post on Instagram, or Facebook, or Twitter and get traffic back to your website. Once you got the traffic back to your website, you can convert into sales. We found that Instagram was a good solution. Casey was sitting around one night, and …
Casey Mathews: I was working on one of our clients at the time, their Instagram, and I just started liking pictures based off hashtag words that were relevant to their wood and steel watch, people that were into watches, that fit that type of vibe, or different things like that. The next day I was pretty surprised they got a lot of followers back. I was like, “Wow. They were telling me how much they’ve been struggling lately, and yeah, my thumb hurts.” I did about two or three hundred likes, but I was actually really pleased with the results. Obviously I did it for a couple more days just to make sure it was the real deal, it kept working, and then I realized how do I do this without my thumb falling off, more or less, you know.
Initially we looked into automating this process, but we knew when you do something automated you’ve got to be careful because you have to put filters in place, and so we partnered with a developer and made our own software on the back end, and really just being like students of Instagram, and also knowing our clients, I think we did a pretty good job of finding the happy medium of being able to do these 2,000 engagements a day. But at the same time be extremely targeted cause you don’t want to waste that when you have such only a limited amount of engagements.
That was kind of the birth. Initially kind of a hobby. “Liking” and picking up 5, 10 clients at first. We were like, “Wow. This is cool. People are interested. Let’s try to email a hundred people this week or something.” We sent them out of Gmail. Four, five responded. They’re interested. That’s pretty good return. Next week, 200, and then we got to the point we’re like, “Wow. We could actually …” We had 20, 30 clients, and we’re like, “Yeah, we should probably stop the other things we’re doing and focus on this, because we see the potential in this industry.”
Ronan Galvin: It’s kind of, I guess, ironic, we started out doing this automation for social media, and now we’re using this Infusionsoft that automates a lot of our stuff.
Casey Mathews: Automation, automating our automation.
Small Business Trends: What’s been the impact overall … What are some of the results you’re seeing?
Ronan Galvin: One of the biggest stats we like to share is we had a hundred clients and four employees, and everything. There’s a lot slipping through the cracks, and kind of unorganized. Everything was out of Gmail, and just a lot of manual work. We started to implement Infusionsoft, and now we’re sitting at 700 clients with six employees, so the biggest things is for us is we were able to get to 700 and only add two more employees. A lot of it we’re getting sales in now. We brought our whole team here [to ICON]. Everyone who’s signing up now is getting a sequence of automation; they think someone’s sending it, which is cool.
Small Business Trends:How has that been able to enhance the way that you do your work with your customers?
Casey Mathews: I think a big thing we’re starting to get into is providing that extra value that, I guess like you were saying, we didn’t have time to provide or create. Video, we’re doing a lot more in-house video, because the better their Instagram is, our software and our service is going to do better stuff for them.
The better their Instagram account is, the more we’re going to send traffic to them. We create new videos on whatever’s hot or trending on Instagram. Show them that. Send it out to them. That’s something we couldn’t do before. Hand hold them a little bit more on the onboarding, but make sure some of it’s going to be through a personal touch.
Small Business Trends: Give us something that the folks don’t know about Instagram that they should know about it.
Ronan Galvin: Just be consistent with posting each day, and be consistent with the content that you post. Sometimes we have people who will sign up their brand, and they have great jewelry, for example. The jewelry is flawless, but then you go and look at their Instagram, and they’re posting selfies, or a picture of their dog, or what they had for dinner on their brand profile, and no one’s following you because of that. They’re following you because of your jewelry. Show off the lifestyle, the jewelry. Don’t intermix the personal.
Casey Mathews: Unless it’s the most high quality picture and …
Ronan Galvin: There’s a good reason.
Casey Mathews: Yeah, there’s some good reason, but seems like people really co-mingle that personal and brand thing a little bit too much.
Ronan Galvin: Being a smaller business, you probably are the one who is handling the social media, and so it’s probably easier to say, “Oh I’m at this cool event.” Snap a photo.
Casey Mathews: My tip too would be don’t be afraid to emulate other people that are doing it great.
Ronan Galvin: We always say look in your space at the big players. So if I’m starting an athletic shoe brand, I would look at Nike because Nike has the team of 15 social media managers, and they know what content to produce, when to post it. They’re already doing it, just take what you can and tweak it to fit your brand and your voice. That’s the easiest way to do it.
Small Business Trends: Tell folks where they can learn more about what you guys are doing.
Ronan Galvin: You can go to Kickstagram.io, and all the information is right there.
This is part of the One-on-One Interview series with thought leaders. The transcript has been edited for publication. If it's an audio or video interview, click on the embedded player above, or subscribe via iTunes or via Stitcher.