Maximizing Social Media Sharing

What is a better advertisement than the recommendation of a friend? When someone who knows me well endorses a product, or suggests I check out an article or a website, I will almost definitely take a second look. Social media is where most of this kind of sharing takes place these days, so it’s important that you are considering how to maximize your word-of-mouth marketing by encouraging your customers to share their positive experiences on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, blogs, and anywhere else their friends are listening.

Social Media Link recently completed the 2014 Social Media Recommendation Index, an annual survey of 24,000 active users of social media that studies how consumer recommendations and social networks impact purchase decisions. The results showed that Facebook and Instagram were the most popular platforms for sharing purchases, and that trust in recommendations made on Pinterest grew by 12 percent in the past year. Consumers also overwhelmingly said they did not mind if the reviewer had received free products in exchange for the review—88 percent of respondents said they trusted such a review, especially if it came from a friend or family member.

The infographic below details more of the study’s findings and takeaways that can help your brand develop strongMaxer sharing strategies through every stage of the purchase process.

For more on the study, go here.


Laura Leonard is an associate editor, managing this blog as well as,,, and 

Posted in Online Advertising, Social Media

The Print Comeback Continues

Department-store operator J. C. Penney recently announced it would be reviving its print catalog, which it stopped printing in 2010, because data showed that it drove people to shop more online. According to the article, when Penney’s closed the print catalog, they thought that their audience would just switch to online shopping. What they discovered, however, is that the print catalog had led to more online sales. Since I have always been a believer in print, this news brought a smile to my face.

The article connects this decision to a larger trend toward the comeback of print: “In Joe Pulizzi’s thought-provoking 2012 blog post on the 7 reasons to rethink print he quotes a niche publisher who told him—’The web is where we go to get answers but print is where we go to ask questions.’ Joe states that print is still the best medium on the planet for thinking outside the box and asking yourself tough questions based on what you read—it’s a ‘lean back’ versus ‘lean forward’ experience for the reader.”

Of course, we know that many advertisers have limited funds for their various campaigns; however, the information above suggests that this may be the perfect time to reevaluate your options and reconsider the branding capabilities that print magazines can offer. At Christianity Today we work with our clients to offer the best possible overall pricing available for our publications. With over 600,000 subscribers to our print publications, I encourage you to reconsider adding print options to your campaign.

Peggy Gomez is a service-minded account executive with a great sense of humor.

Posted in Advertising Tips, Print Advertising

Introducing “Beautiful Orthodoxy”

About a year ago, at a meeting of Christianity Today executives, the phrase “beautiful orthodoxy” slipped off my tongue at a meeting. We were discussing the challenges we faced as a company, but also the larger challenges faced by the Christian community. We all agree that the classic, centrist orthodox Christian faith is the most faithful way to frame the wonderful truths of the gospel. It’s one reason the orthodox is so important to us. But on first blush, it is not an attractive word to many others. To many, it smacks of nothing but legalism and arcane doctrine. And let’s admit, some Christians have used the word less as an invitation and more as a bludgeon.

“But what if we were to promote a beautiful orthodoxy?” I asked. “What if we were to show people the attractive way, the splendid truth, and the glorious life found in Jesus Christ? What if we were to publish in a way that emphasized the beauty of the gospel?”

This struck a chord with us not because it was a new idea. We recognized that this was in fact what we all had been trying to do, in our ministry at CT and in our lives. Yet we felt it expressed the purpose of Christianity Today in a way that we felt would especially resonate at this time. When Harold Smith, our CEO, asked me to flesh out more the need and meaning of beautiful orthodoxy, I wrote the following. It’s the beginning of our exploration of all this rich little phrase entails. (Read more here.)

Mark Galli is editor-in-chief of Christianity Today and editor of Christianity Today magazine.

Posted in Company News

Top 7 Online Marketing Trends for 2015

With ever-changing technology and continuous advancements in the digital field, it’s hard to stay on top of online marketing best practices. Jayson DeMers, founder and CEO at AudienceBloom, has written a helpful article laying out the Top 7 Online Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2015. Here are the trends he predicts will be front and center throughout the coming year:

1. Mobile-optimization will become more important than ever.
2. Social media ad spend will sharply increase as brands realize the importance of social media marketing.
3. Content marketing will be (even) bigger than ever.
4. Email marketing will receive a renewed focus.
5. The lines between SEO, content marketing, and social media will become more blurred.
6. Brands will scramble to humanize.
7. Marketers will find new ways of making native advertising less promotional and more relevant.

You can read the entire article on Forbes.

Posted in Advertising Tips, Mobile Advertising, Online Advertising

Making Sense of Social Media Metrics

At Christianity Today, we have been gaining a lot of experience in building our brands on social media. In fact, in 2014 we began to realize that more of our audience was discovering and engaging with our content via social media sites than through our traditional homepages. For some, that may seem like a terrifying loss of control, but we have seen it as an opportunity to expand our reach to new audiences. We have even launched a sponsorship program that allows our advertising customers to reach out to our engaged social media community. The consumer has moved the conversation to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest; it’s up to us to follow them, or risk losing them to the brands that will.

The problem we immediately ran into when we started to engage with social media was the data. There was so much data, and so much of it was completely worthless. What we needed was a set of flexible metrics for measuring our social media efforts. Then we discovered four simple metrics, developed by Avinash Kaushik, that help to cut through the noise and find real, useful insights.

Many marketers focus on amassing big numbers on their Facebook profile or Twitter feed. But what does that actually tell you? Does the number of followers I have on Twitter help me determine if my tweets are actually effective at driving people where I want them to go? Or does it simply a measure of my current brand recognition?

As Avinash puts it, “What matters is everything that happens after you post/tweet/participate! Did you grab attention? Did you deliver delight? Did you cause people to want to share? Did you initiate a discussion? Did you cause people to take an action? Did your participation deliver economic value?”

The four metrics below are designed to help you answer those questions, and they can be applied to virtually any social media site or campaign.

1. Conversation Rate: The number of audience comments (or replies) per post.

The conversation rate measures your effectiveness at understanding and reaching your audience. Are you connecting, or just shouting? A lot of marketers approach social media (and, if we’re honest, most of their online campaigns) as though they were using traditional TV or billboard ads: They shout as loudly as possible into the darkness, without even listening for a response. With social media, the response is the entire point of the campaign. Measuring the conversation rate helps you know what engages your audience.

2. Amplification Rate: The number of shares/retweets/repins etc. per post.

This is the magic of social media. Nothing else can spread a campaign faster than the “viral” effect of social media sharing. This tells you what types of content get your followers excited and what connects with them so deeply that they feel like they have to share it with their own network.

3. Applause Rate: The number of likes/favorites/+1s etc. per post.

This one may be the simplest of them all. Like the Conversation and Amplification Rates, Applause helps you gain insights into what drives your audience. They are literally telling you what they like. Interestingly, these rates won’t always coincide. There are certain types of posts that people just feel the need to share with a friend, while others seem to demand a comment. Sometimes the audience just likes what you’ve posted, and that’s a great thing to know. If you can entertain or give free help, you’ll build valuable goodwill and loyalty.

4. Economic/Referral Value: Sum of revenue/goal value from social media segments.

Finally, don’t forget the bottom line! Direct sales shouldn’t be the only reason you engage with social media, but they can still be a factor. Take note of what those social followers do, buy, and subscribe to. Does your site sell products? You can use your website analytics software (Google Analytics is free and easy to use) to segment out traffic from social media sites and see how well your posts drive sales. Don’t have hard sales on your site? Figure out the value of soft conversions: What does increased traffic earn you in onsite advertising or newsletter subscription revenue? What are lead generations worth?

All of these metrics can be pulled together for most social media sites, but there are also analytics tools that can help you. Check out the rest of Avinash’s post for more great tips and tools to help aggregate the data.

To connect with Christianity Today’s own highly engaged audience on social media, take a look at our sponsored posts and contact one of our Account Reps for more details.

As the team’s “stats guy,” Luke Schoenrock is our go-to staff member for analytics and reporting—as well as witty remarks.

Posted in Advertising Tips, Online Advertising, Social Media, Web Analytics