Authentic Online Marketing

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Authentic Online Marketing with Ruthie Gray
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Ep. 21: How to get a solid ROI from Instagram

Today’s show is all about getting your ROI from Instagram. If you’ve ever read our show description, part of it is learning how to deliver your message effectively and receive engagement and investment on your instances. Today’s special guest is client and mentorship member Erica Goode.

Because of the field she’s in, she’s all about getting that ROI on Instagram! And you’re going to hear today how she put that to use with her business on Instagram. Erica is the owner of Erica Goode CPA, a virtual accounting firm for women owned businesses and a former director of finance at Walgreens headquarters. She now helps small business owners wrap their brain around all things business money, and plan financial strategies for the future. Welcome to the show, Erica. 

*This episode contains either affiliate links or links to my products. Should you choose to purchase, the show will go on! Woo hoo!

Click below for show notes!

Ep. 21: How to get a solid ROI from Instagram

Follow Erica on IG here!

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Early stages of getting ROI from Instagram

Erica: Thanks so much for having me Ruthie. 

R: Erica reminds me of important things sometimes, I’ll read one of her posts on Instagram and it’ll be something about quarterly taxes. Then, my neck whips around and my brain goes into a cramp. 

E: I say all the fun things. A lot of things. I don’t know if they’re fun when it comes to that, but they are necessary.

R: I want everybody to know you are such a fun person, so funny. Y’all have got to go follow her on IG, linked in shownotes. I’m always impressed by your right-brain thinking Erica. 

E: I’m so grateful. I have to admit that when I wrote copy for my website, I joke that my business coach wrote copy for my website while I rocked back and forth in the corner. I just put it like, it wasn’t my thing.

So if you go to my website, tell my coach she did a lovely job. 

R: She did, it is really awesome. It’s concise. What you do and who you help. In fact, I think you just took kind of from that and used it in your bio. Am I right about that on Instagram?
E: Yeah I had done all the legwork up front and so when I hit Instagram, I hit it running.
R: Let’s just talk a little bit more about the type of work you do and why you decided to add Instagram into the mix. 

E: I am a CPA by trade. Right now I help small business owners and we do a lot of soup to nuts accounting.

If you need bookkeeping, we provide bookkeeping. We go all the way up to strategic financial planning now. At the time of this recording, it’s the end of 2021. 

We’re knee deep in planning for the entire 2022 year and what that looks like financially for my clients. So we really don’t just look in the past. 

We are looking forward in the future of what your business forecasting which is so important. 

R: I am very thankful to have you here. Let’s talk about your Instagram account. Spoiler alert, Erica is already generating funds from her Instagram account and you started it how long ago? 

Getting a good ROI from Instagram even while your biz is young

E: I started in September, we’re officially three months in.

E: Because you held my hand Ruthie. I think I called you one day and I said, Ruthie, I want to go on Instagram next week. And you were like, oh, okay. And I said, I don’t want to do it. 

When can we set up a meeting? I need somebody to hold my hand and I want you to be the person holding my hand.

R: You know, that’s the kind of clients that I love, they know what they want. Let’s back up just a minute, Erica and I, we have been kind of dancing around each other on the internet, via Instagram on her other account for a couple of years. So we got to know each other.

So if you’re listening to this right now and thinking, I want people to just chase me down, just know that there were a lot of foundational conversations going on in the DM before this ever happened. Right? 

E: Yes, absolutely. I felt like I knew you from your posts, but you were very engaging.

I commented and we sent DMs back and forth. We started having conversations over DMs every once in a while, like not always, but like every few months we’d hear from each other. It was a very slow growth relationship.

Setting attainable goals

E: I think I wound up getting it in 15 days. September 1st on, on a brand new account, zero followers, zero posts, zero, anything. And then a hundred followers came in 15 days. And that was a lot of me advertising that I had a new account on my old account, on my more personal account. It was a lot of me knowing who my, who my target might be.

In my old account, which still exists, I thought, oh, maybe some people would be nice and just want to follow me. Then there was specific people where I would send them a link to my new account in a DM, because I knew that they were my target just from how we had interacted over Instagram in my more personal account.

I specifically said hey, I started this new account. You might be interested. No hard feelings, if not, and they would always come over and follow. So there was definitely a poignant ask.

R: So again this circles, right back to those conversations in the DM. She already had relationships formed and she kind of knew her audience.

So it really does help you to grow a new account if you shout it out on your other account. By the way, we will drop the link in the show notes for the episode that I did with Wren over springtime about how she grew her audience to a hundred that quickly too, so that y’all can hear that later.

It’s all about forming those relationships and then you’re able to just build from there. 

Follower growth and forming relationships

 How many followers do you have now? 

E: I have about 220 right now. That’s 220 real ones. Excluding bots and the like.

R: Okay. I love that. It’s important that you have your ideal potential clients. Now you have 220 targeted potential clients. So in that mix, how quickly did you start bringing in business attracting actual clients from Instagram?

E: I always have a plan about everything. But I actually didn’t have a plan for what I thought revenue generation would look like from Instagram, because it was so new to me. I just wanted to be out there and make people aware of me. So actually let me rewind.

I have a funny story. Back in my back in my Walgreens days I oversaw the marketing budget. Hundreds of millions of dollars that Walgreens was spending on ads and the flyers that you got in your Sunday paper, radio ads, TV commercials, all this.

I oversaw that department and all the money. One time I was sitting in a meeting and the market marketing directors said, oh, we’re going to do an awareness campaign. And I was like, what? I don’t know what that means. I’m not a marketer. I’m the money person in the room. What does awareness campaign mean?

They responded, “Oh, just to make people aware of us.” I kind of chuckled because the first thing you learn when you work at Walgreens is 80% of America lives within five miles of a Walgreens. So, to say we need to make people aware of us sounded funny to me because there’s one on every street corner, people are aware of you already.

Marketing who you really are

But the point is, is that there’s so much noise in the market that you want to be the one that people think of. If I have a sick kid in the middle of the night and I’m like, shoot, I need to go get some Niquil. And my options are my neighbor next door or finding a store open at midnight.Walgreens could be that go-to.

So what I wanted with my ROI from Instagram to be for me, starting out was an awareness campaign of like, “Hey, I’m here. Hey, I do this. Hey, I could help you.” It wasn’t a hard sale. It was just more of like, “Hey, I’m coming across your feed!” Just a reminder, this is what I do. It’s not a hard sale, you know, but when the time comes here I am.

What happened was I had done that for probably two and a half months. The nature with the work I do is that it just so happens that at the end of the year, everybody starts thinking about their money. So literally the week before Thanksgiving, every small business owner starts thinking about their money and I’ll get DM’s out of the blue.

Reaching out in the DM

Saying things like, “Hey, I need somebody to clean up my QuickBooks. Hey, I need somebody to help me with an LLC.” All the sudden everybody needed everything. I was the first person they thought of, because I had been across their feed. I had like built some trust. They liked me enough, you know, and in the same way that when I was ready to kick off Instagram, I thought Ruthie is my girl.

Remembering connections

You were already top of my mind. When the moment was right for my business owners who needed help with their financials, I was the first person they thought of and shot me a DM. It took me two and a half months to generate any revenue.

I would probably say it’s probably a little bit of the nature of the timing in my industry. It’s a slow roll, right? Like I got DMs last week. I got DMs this week and now it’s starting as we’re in the season where my ideal client is thinking about this type of work. 

R: Right! You didn’t just sing the same song that a lot of people do. A lot of marketers out there say “Hey, buy my thing!” Your awareness tactic was different, kind of similar to mine in that you are providing value through education. Like have you done your quarterly taxes? Etc.

I’ve been reading the posts. Those kinds of things, created awareness and also stimulated a need in people who may not have realized they had a need. That is what made the most difference in getting the sales off the ground.

I think part of what started me off on a really good foot with getting an ROI from Instagram is I had done all the legwork upfront before we even talked. I knew who my target market was and I knew what the services I was selling. That was my solid base of knowing what I’m going to say, because I know who I’m aiming at.

I know who I want to help and know who I want to deliver value to. Additionally, make posts where I answer questions that I get a lot, and I know that I’m not selling. I would never sell those answers to anybody. Also, I would never schedule a meeting and charge for answering what an EIN number is, you know, but people need to know that and I want to be able to give that information for free.

Narrow down your biz!

E: How would you advise women to narrow down their content if they want to take their business to industry?

R: I think you have to just, you have to do all the sit down leg work and any person who’s going to give you an avatar sheet of who is your target avatar. You have to sit down and take the time to really spell that out for yourself and work through what you’re selling, what the price of that is.

It took me 18 months, maybe two years to engage you Instagram coaching, which is a really long time, but all that time you were giving me little pieces of free information on Instagram.

E: We had our first meeting. You said well, when do you want to start? I was like, tomorrow, because I was so ready to buy. Send me the invoice, come on. Let’s go. And like, your, your work had been done for the past 18 months! You didn’t have to sell me at that point. I had already bought it. I just needed to give you my credit card number, you know? 

R: That’s the thing, don’t be stingy. I’m not gonna withhold information about how to find your EIN number. Those are things that people can Google. All of this stuff that I teach.

It’s stuff that people can Google about Instagram and those surrounding marketing components. The secret sauce on the inside is the strategy working through your own personal strategy with you. Whoever the customer is. 

What’s obvious to you is gold for someone else

And we just assume, oh, everybody knows that. It’s not true! What comes easily to you is gonna be a complete revelation to someone else. We honestly believe the ROI is high on Instagram. It’s worth it. So share with folks those exact words you said to me that you were so excited about.

E: I was totally geeking out and it was the week of Thanksgiving. When all of these DM started rolling in. I said, “Ruthie, I just booked a couple thousand dollars of revenue. And do you know what the ROI on that was? Zero.

Because you can’t divide by zero because Instagram costs Zero dollars!.

Sorry for all of my math humor. 

R: That was some math humor that I did appreciate though. I got that. I just loved hearing that because it shows that the strategy worked and shows all that you have invested this time on and you know how much time do you think you spend on Instagram?

Finding joy through IG

E: I find a lot of social outlet through social media and I spend time on there because I enjoy it. That has helped benefit my ROI from Instagram. It fulfills me from a business standpoint, I book probably a half hour to an hour every day at the end of every week to plan out next week. But then I spend more than an hour for the following week, obviously like engaging with people for kind of social interaction. 

That time has a qualitative value too. I would tell anybody if you hate being on social media you should probably find another outlet to market yourself.

If social media is where you need to market yourself, then you should hire them. If something in your business is making you miserable, you should not be doing that thing in your business. 

R: That’s that’s just a freebie y’all. What are your top three tips for the woman entrepreneur who wants to monetize on Instagram?

Recapping through steps

 One, know what you’re selling. Two, don’t be afraid to be an expert. Three be social on social media. That’s why I like it. I’ve met so many good people just as friends. Others have turned into clients or potential clients. I just have good relationships on social media.

It’s been such a light going back on the past couple of years where maybe we’ve been a little less social in person, it’s just such a blessing to be able to be social on social media. Don’t just always be selling on it. Like actually engage and just make friends. There’s some good people out there.

R: You find these people by being uniquely you. Let your personality shine through. You do this very well, your own voice. When I see your posts, I know that’s Erica and I just get a kick out of you. I think the feeling is mutual, you know, so your people will come, you need to put a personalized voice on there and for sure engage those three tips.

ROI from Instagram headshot Erica Goode CPA
Erica is the owner of Erica Goode, CPA, a virtual accounting firm for women-owned businesses.  As a former Director of Finance at Walgreens headquarters, she now helps small business owners wrap their brain around all things business-money and plan financial strategies for the future.
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