Brewdog’s original mission was to ‘make other people as passionate about great craft beer‘ as they are.
You could argue that this is still the case, as this article is being written by a non-beer drinker who will always go to BrewDog to get craft beer for people in their life who do enjoy beer.
From an outsider’s perspective, they’ve certainly placed themselves as the craft beer brand in the UK and built a bridge between the average beer-drinker and the craft-beer community.
But how did they achieve this?
This blog will take a look at Brewdog’s Marketing Strategy, and how they’ve placed themselves as the market leaders in the beer industry.
Even if you don’t sell craft beer, these marketing techniques can apply to any business, so keep reading! It may help you see your marketing strategy from a new perspective.
But first, some history.
The History of BrewDog
Brewdog had a speedy start in life, and understanding how they positioned themselves in the market from the very beginning will give us an idea of how they saw and maintained such massive growth.
Launching in 2007, the founders saw success in their second year after releasing Tokyo, the UK’s strongest beer with an alcohol content of 18.2%. It made headlines and was banned fairly swiftly by The Portman Group.
But all that did was bring more publicity to the brand.
So of course, pushing the boundaries became a core part of BrewDog’s brand, with them releasing a 32% strength beer a year later. Calling it the Tactical Nuclear Penguin was certainly a tactical move.
In the same year, they offered online shares and organised more marketing stunts.
And, they grew their business by 200%.
Now, in 2021, they hold multiple world records, have breweries and bars across the world, have run multiple successful crowdfunding drives, had their own TV show, and opened a hotel.
They’ve had quite the journey, with its fair share of highs and lows, though BrewDog does seem to be the type of company who believes, ‘all publicity is good publicity.’
You may be thinking, ‘So how is it possible to replicate this? I don’t want to upset governing bodies, or open a hotel, or put my products in roadkill (Warning- the linked article does include photos of roadkill, BrewDog don’t mess around).
Brewdog’s Marketing Strategy
We’re going to break the Brewdog marketing strategy down into several parts including:
Prefer to dive into BrewDog’s marketing strategy in video format?
BrewDog’s Company Values
Everything Brewdog does is focused on its Mission and Charter.
Its mission statement is ‘to make other people as passionate about great beer as we are‘, which has followed them throughout their entire journey.
Having a mission statement like this, which is succinct, straight to the point, and fits the product offering, gives the brand something to focus on with every product and every marketing campaign.
Its charter is ‘For Better Beer. For a Better Planet. Powered by People. For Us All.‘
This is more of a general statement, less connected to their product. It has a focus on the people behind the brand, and their customers. It shows their audience that they care about more than just beer, and want to leave a positive impact on the planet too.
Throughout this deep dive, we’ll reflect on whether their marketing strategy fits these values.
If you don’t have your own values, now would be a good time to think about what your company stands for and what you want to be known for.
BrewDog’s Mission and Charter
What Marketing Tactics Does BrewDog Use?
Love them or hate them, BrewDog’s marketing campaigns do exactly what they want them to.
They get people talking.
We all know people buy from people, and if your friend says, ‘Did you see that weird ad BrewDog did that just said ADVERT and blasted Meshuggah for 30 seconds?‘ you’re probably more inclined to check it out than if they just released a normal advert.
‘Normal’ being not just one word, a photo of the beer, and heavy metal blasting from your TV screen.
The advert also had some controversy attached to it, especially since one of the founders previously said he’d rather ‘set fire to money’, than spend it on advertising.
Being the First, Best, Strongest, Largest
BrewDog prides itself on being the first, the best, the strongest, or the largest at a lot of things.
Whether those things should have ever been done, is a question all in itself.
Because of this, they made headlines often, especially in their early days.
While you read through these examples, think about how your brand could be positioned as the first or best at something in your field. The ideas don’t need to be as outlandish as these but try to think about what your customers and potential customers would find unique or exciting.
- Strongest UK brewed beer
- World’s strongest beer
- First beer aged on the deck of a fishing boat
- Scotland’s Youngest Entrepreneur of the Year
- World’s most expensive beer, packed in roadkill
- First beer brewed at the bottom of the ocean
- First beer dispensed from a deer’s head (yeah, really)
- Largest equity crowdfunding scheme
- Strongest canned ale in the world
- First craft beer hotel
- World’s first carbon-negative brewery
If you’re unsure as to what your target audience would respond to, work through the questions in this video to get a better idea of your audience as a whole.
Over the past few years, BrewDog has slowed down on the attention-grabbing, headline-worthy campaigns and has instead opted for people-focused campaigns, as seen in their recent advert.
It still has the cheeky tone of voice, but it’s toned down compared to their previous stunts.
The BrewDog Community
BrewDog’s people first, planet first approach aligns with the company values – fostering a community of like-minded people who love beer and care about each other and the planet.
Brewdog cares about its community to such an extent that its website even has a Community tab, including video content, a loyalty scheme, blogs, recipes and more.
The BrewDog Network
Ever wanted a video streaming service full of series focused on beer?
BrewDog has you covered!
They have multiple shows covering everything from travel, to business, to cocktails and of course, beer.
According to SE Ranking*, The BrewDog Network site gets around 16,000 visitors a month from the UK.
Since BrewDog’s mission is to ‘make other people as passionate about great beer as we are‘, this is a great way to connect with their audience and educate them about what makes a beer great, as well as helping them connect with the brand further.
It feels random, but it works as all the content connects back to BrewDog.
MailChimp tried a similar concept and missed the mark by a lot. You can learn more about that in our MailChimp Marketing Deep Dive.
BrewDog’s Loyalty Program
Lots of brands have loyalty schemes, and BrewDog has opted to go for one that supports protecting the environment while also rewarding their customers.
Their charter is focused on protecting the planet, and this loyalty scheme reinforces that with their community and customers.
Customers are encouraged to make climate-conscious choices and then BrewDog rewards them for that.
Win-win all round.
In 2020, BrewDog underwent a brand refresh to mark a new part of their business journey – one with a stronger focus on sustainability and being a force for good.
They used this rebrand as a chance to shine a light on their good causes, with a focus on BrewDog Tomorrow and a reminder of their company values.
By launching a new visual identity alongside announcements about new causes they are supporting, they are combining something their community would be excited about (BrewDog’s new look) with something new that BrewDog wants their community to care about (the environment).
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BrewDog’s Social Media Strategy
Brewdog’s social media strategy is surprising.
Surprising in that, it feels like there isn’t a strategy in place at all.
Let’s go through their social media accounts one by one.
On Instagram, BrewDog has 420,000 followers.
Compared to other beer brands ( Heineken has 626k, Guinness has 272k, Carlsberg has 51k), they’re doing fairly well for themselves.
But could they be doing better?
For a company with such people-first attitudes, there is certainly a lack of people on its Instagram feed.
There’s certainly an opportunity here to boost their engagement by including more of their customers on their Instagram.
The hashtag ‘#brewdog’ on Instagram has over 770,000 posts, meaning there is plenty of user-generated content there that BrewDog could use to add that human element to their own Instagram account.
BrewDog’s Twitter account has 178,000 followers, and an engagement rate of around 0.04%.
The industry average is 0.08%, so there’s room for improvement here.
Taking a look at their posts over the past couple of months, you can see that they aren’t taking advantage of any of the tools within Twitter – including polls and threads.
They could create a stronger bond with their community inviting them to take part in polls, perhaps about their favourite limited-edition beer, or their favourite BrewDog bar, which will also provide them with great data about their customers for future campaigns.
They could use Twitter threads to share step-by-step tutorials or recipes, which they already share on their website and in video format across their socials.
N26 uses threads to add more to a story – they use the initial tweet to share a video, then a thread to provide a link to an article explaining the video further.
— N26 (@n26) April 30, 2019
BrewDog have an opportunity to do this with their BrewDog Network content – they could easily take an interesting clip from one of their shows, use it as the focal point of a tweet, and then link to the full episode in the thread below.
They also regularly do collabs with other brands, and they could use threads to highlight each product in the collaboration.
Have you joined the world’s most sustainable beer club yet?
Each month, we brew exclusive beers you’ve never tried before. Discover a range of exciting beer styles and flavours from us and our friends.
— BrewDog (@BrewDog) November 3, 2021
Here’s an example of how we use Twitter threads on the Exposure Ninja Twitter account.
1/5 4 SEO Best Practices for Blog Content (a #MarketingTwitter thread)
Here’s how you can optimise blogs for top search engine visibility. pic.twitter.com/Kup6LHt6wi
— Exposure Ninja — Free Marketing Review (@ExposureNinja) August 24, 2021
Pressure Drop Brewing uses Twitter polls to get feedback on their beers, meaning they get insights from their audience, and their audience can put their opinions across to the brand.
Seems like you guys have been loving our latest TIPA ‘Breakfast Candles’ 💖
We weren’t too convinced on the TIPA style at first, but it sure is growing on us!
How do you feel about TIPAs?
— Pressure Drop Brewing (@PressureDropBrw) October 12, 2021
They do use Twitter to provide customer service and to reach out to disgruntled customers who are sharing their problems on Twitter.
This is great, as you’re responding to them on their native platform, and it can feel more personal and instant than sending an email.
Much like on Twitter, some customers take to Facebook to share their complaints, sometimes in the comments of Brewdog’s posts.
Unlike their Twitter account, BrewDog doesn’t appear to be acknowledging these comments, which could impact the brand negatively.
Not only are angry customers not getting their complaints responded to, potential customers checking out the BrewDog Facebook page for the first time may end up avoiding the brand if they think they’re going to get bad customer service.
Their posts are very similar to their other social media platforms, but they are sharing some videos from the BrewDog Network which are only being shared to Facebook and not other platforms.
The video quality isn’t great, and on some videos, including the one below, the comments aren’t particularly positive.
It could be that there is a target audience for this type of video, but it’s not the same as their Facebook audience. Based on the comments, it looks like BrewDog’s Facebook page has a British audience, whereas the BrewDog Network videos they are sharing have an American focus.
BrewDog hasn’t done much to enter the TikTok space, with only 358 followers and three videos posted.
It could be that because of the younger audience, BrewDog is figuring out how they can conquer this platform without coming across as promoting drinking to underage TikTok users.
Duck Foot Brewing Company have over 50k followers on TikTok, but by the looks of their views, they have had the most success with behind-the-scenes videos of the production line and packaging beers.
Despite one video with 8.8 million views, they’re struggling to get more than 100 views per video, especially when it isn’t the ‘packing orders’ style of content. They tried to branch out into a wider variety of content when really their audience were there for the warehouse action.
@duckfootbeerCanning a fresh batch of Drink This or The Bees Die! #brewerylife #sandiego #craftbeer♬ original sound – Duck Foot Brewing Company
608 Brewing Company, on the other hand, stuck with the production line videos and have reached 49k followers but consistently get over 15k views per video.
@608brewingcompanyFest bier time #oktoberfest #wisconsin #fyp #craft #beer♬ original sound – 608BrewingCompany
BrewDog could certainly make behind the scenes content of them packing up their beers and other products, which has a good track record of getting views on TikTok based on the two accounts above, as well as testing behind the scenes content of their bars and hotels.
Having a beer hotel is a really unique hook that could draw viewers in – as shown by this video of the Columbus BrewDog hotel by Rachel Mundy (who is actually BrewDog’s head of social) that got 1.3 million views.
It would be nice to see this same type of content replicated on BrewDog’s own social media, not just that of their employees. Some of the same content was shared to the BrewDog USA TikTok but bespoke content would likely perform better.
@rachelmrudyDid someone say shower beers?! 🍻 Come inside the world’s first craft beer hotel. #brewdog #columbusohio #craftbeer♬ Blue Blood – Heinz Kiessling & Various Artists
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BrewDog’s website, like any good website, has evolved over the years.
As the customer base has grown and the brand has developed, the website has changed along with it.
We’ll be focusing on BrewDog’s current website for the remainder of this blog, but here’s a reminder that you don’t have to get things right the first time…
Now onto BrewDog’s current website.
At a first glance, it looks good – the text is easy to read, and if you can take your eyes away from the distracting gif that takes up most of the screen, you’ll see there’s a benefits bar.
Benefits bars are a great way to bring your customer’s attention to reasons they should buy from you as soon as they hit your page.
You can see that BrewDog offers free delivery when you fill a box, a loyalty scheme and an estimated dispatch time from the benefits bar alone.
But, really that’s all that’s good about this ‘above the fold’ section.
On desktop, in particular, this gif looks like the whole webpage – the viewer isn’t enticed to scroll down for more information as the gif takes up so much room.
On mobile, however, you can see that there is more to take a look at on the site.
It’s possible that the website has been optimised for mobile if most of their sales are coming from mobile devices. If that’s the case, they are likely to have invested more in the mobile element of their site, hence why it looks better on mobile.
Globally, in 2020, 68% of all internet traffic came from mobile, whereas only 29% came from desktop, so it’s possible this is the reason why their mobile site looks better than its desktop counterpart.
With the large gif on the Brewdog homepage taking up most of the space, there isn’t much room for a call to action.
There is a call to action, however, which is simply, ‘Up to 25% off. View All Deals‘.
This isn’t very enticing to the customer and is fairly basic. 25% off what?
From the perspective of someone outside of the craft beer community, BrewDog could certainly benefit from adding a quiz or even a ‘beginners’ section to their website.
Rave Coffee have a quiz on their site for anyone looking to get into coffee or coffee lovers who want to try something new.
They ask a variety of questions that are easily accessible to any knowledge level, and they throw in a mailing list signup but do give the option to skip this step.
A quiz like this would be ideal for someone looking to get into craft beer who doesn’t know where to start but does know the name BrewDog.
Without this, they run the risk of potential customers seeking out this information elsewhere, and as a result, these customers may end up ordering from a competitor who does provide them with this info.
Brewdog wouldn’t even need to go as far as making a quiz – they could add something as simple as a ‘Staff Picks’ section, like on competitor Honest Brew’s website, or include a ‘most popular’ section. Some of the BrewDog beers are labelled as ‘most popular’, but you only see this once you’re on the product page.
This ties back heavily into BrewDog’s mission of ‘make other people as passionate about great beer as we are.‘ If new customers who are less experienced with craft beer can’t figure out where to start, this could be an issue.
BrewDog also stock other products, such as cider and spirits, but as this is included in their ‘Shop’ section rather than their ‘Beer’ section (which is right at the front of their navigation bar), it could be missed by customers who are looking for other types of BrewDog products or customers who don’t know they stock these products.
BrewDog’s product pages are fairly standard but they are easy to use and cover all the information you would want to know about the beer.
There are ‘read more’ options so you don’t get bombarded with information right away.
Further down the page, there’s easy to read information about the flavour of the beer and the ingredients.
Identifying that the beer is a ‘best seller’ in a bold colour is a good choice, and will be helpful to those new to craft beer or BrewDog.
Right next to it is the alcohol percentage, so customers know exactly what they are getting and don’t need to hunt for it. The ‘Add to Cart’ button is again a vibrant colour and easy to find.
The products and prices change from white to black when selected so you can see which you are about to add to your cart, although some may argue that this could be bad for the user experience as it might not be fully obvious if the button being black means selected or unselected.
In fact, Twitter recently had to reverse an update to their follow button where it was changed to black and white, causing confusion across the platform.
Shopping Cart and Checkout
BrewDog has multiple bases covered when you add an item to the cart.
Not only does the ‘Add to Cart’ button update to say ‘Added to Cart‘, you also get a notification at the top of the screen to say that you’ve added the product to your cart, with a blue tick. The shopping cart icon in the top corner updates with a notification icon to remind you that you have items to checkout.
Not only that, remember the free delivery when you fill a box from the benefits bar? When you add something to your cart, the amount you have filled in the box appears in the bottom left corner.
This is ideal for showing customers how far they need to go to get free delivery – if they’re close, they may well add another item to their basket to get free delivery.
When you head to the checkout page you get two options – Checkout or Checkout with Paypal. Giving Paypal as an option is useful to many customers who might not want to input all other information, as this is often stored in Paypal already. The usual checkout page also makes it easy to find your address so you can auto-fill most of the information.
According to SE Ranking*, BrewDog is ranking in the number one spot on Google search for several search terms including;
- Beer packs
- Beer variety pack
- Beer school
They would benefit massively from ranking highly for “buy beer” or “buy beer online”,
Using SE Ranking*, we can see that “buy beer” and “buy beer online” are more commonly searched than “beer packs”, meaning these would be ideal search terms for BrewDog to be ranking first for.
Screenshot from SE Ranking
They do rank on page one of Google for these search terms but there is certainly room for improvement.
The search terms they rank highest for and get the most traffic from are branded search terms, such as their beer names.
This shows they have a good brand presence, and would only be a concern if they weren’t ranking for other non-branded searches.
They have backlinks from over 19 million different sites – likely because of their initial newsworthy publicity stunts as well as links from suppliers.
BrewDog also needs to cover long-tail search queries in its SEO strategy.
With Christmas just around the corner, BrewDog has taken this opportunity to rank first on Google for ‘beer gifts uk’ by creating a gift guide.
They highlight their products while being helpful to those who want to buy a beer lover in their life a gift. These people may not be up to speed on craft beer themselves, so including a gift guide is helpful to them.
The ‘Gift Packs‘ page itself is straightforward and does not have loads of products, meaning a potential buyer won’t become as overwhelmed as they could if they were browsing all the products BrewDog have to offer.
They’re also ranking number one for the long tail keyword of ‘craft beer delivered to your door’ but surprisingly, the page that is ranking is their alcohol-free beer page.
They’re also running an ad for this term, which also brings you to the alcohol-free beer page.
Screenshot from SE Ranking
Someone searching for ‘craft beer delivered to your door’ is likely to be searching for alcoholic beer, and if not they likely would have included ‘alcohol-free’ in their search as it’s quite specific.
They may even come to the conclusion that BrewDog only sells alcohol-free beer if they aren’t familiar with the brand.
Although this long tail keyword has a low search volume, if BrewDog is spending the money to advertise on it then they should really be directing that traffic to an appropriate page – either a dedicated landing page or at least their most popular beer page.
The long-tail search term ‘send beer as a gift’, however, does link to the ‘shop beer‘ page, but it would be much better suited to the gift guide page.
The alcohol-free page is actually also ranking for ‘is there a beer with 0 alcohol’, which is an ideal search term for this page.
BrewDog could certainly benefit from a thorough SEO strategy that matches keywords (long and short) to specific, tailor-made content.
Long-tail keywords are a great way to answer questions from your potential customers and can be very effective when used correctly.
If they are trying to find a craft beer delivery service so they can pre-drink for the weekend ahead, they are going to become frustrated when that search takes them to an alcohol-free page.
If the page they land on gives them an overview of the beers available, delivery fees, and how long delivery will take, they will be more likely to convert because the page is actually answering their questions.
The BrewDog Network, mentioned earlier, is obviously having a lot of time and energy put into it. They’re creating multiple shows at once, which you’d hope would bring them a lot of traffic.
According to SE Ranking*, the BrewDog Network website is getting around 16,000 visits per month, compared to BrewDog’s 300,000.
It could be that visitors to the BrewDog Network site are very high-value prospects and convert well, but it seems like a lot of work, and money, for the amount of traffic they are getting.
The keywords the Brewdog Network is ranking for are nearly all branded, so it’s likely visitors to the site are already customers or repeat visitors.
When you exclude ‘Brewdog’ for the keywords, most of the high volume searches are still based on the name of the show they are looking for.
There is so much opportunity here for BrewDog to use the BrewDog Network to reach potential customers at the top of the funnel, especially in the research phase.
They could create gift guides for every occasion in video format, and even bring some humour to it. (Top 10 beers to take to a baby shower, anyone?)
They have two cocktail series and neither of them rank for any high-value cocktail search terms, or even any that have a higher search volume than 10 searches a month.
Not everything in life has to be about making money, but, this is a marketing deep dive after all and it’s important to acknowledge that if this is just a pure labour of love by BrewDog, other brands or small business owners shouldn’t be looking to the BrewDog Network as an example of a great marketing campaign.
As previously mentioned, BrewDog’s founders are notoriously anti-ad but have leapt into the advertising world over the past few years.
According to SE Ranking*, they are spending approximately £235,000 a month on paid traffic.
BrewDog is running multiple ads on Facebook, with a variety of creatives and text copy.
Screenshot from SE Ranking
You can see here that they are testing three different types of ads for their Lone Wolf Gin advent calendar.
They could be seeing which one performs best overall, which performs best with specific demographics, or a combination of the two.
It would be interesting to see how well these ads are performing, as it’s likely the viewer’s eye will be drawn to the white ‘Lone Wolf’ text which is a lesser-known BrewDog brand. The word ‘gin’ also gets lost compared to the bright white writing.
All three ads, especially the one with the black background, could benefit from putting more emphasis on the ‘gin’ aspect of this, as the tiny bottles and the word gin could easily be missed by the viewer.
Adding a large bottle of gin into the ad would help advertise this advent calendar better as it will make it more clear that it’s a gin advent calendar and not another spirit or even a totally different liquid product, like perfume.
Some of their ads have been running since August 2021, and in November 2021 they are still running the same ads, showing that these are likely high performers and are getting a good return on investment.
Each of these ads includes emojis to draw attention to the ads and give that personal feel, as well as using short text copy which covers the key features of the beer.
If you’re unsure how to get started with ad copy, this curated playlist will talk you through Pay Per Click, or PPC, advertising.
What Can We Learn From The Brewdog Marketing Strategy?
BrewDog started off life as a disruptive brand, but over the years they’ve mellowed.
So what if you want to replicate their success? (Maybe without the controversies…)
Stand Up For a Cause
BrewDog wanted to be rebellious from the start, hence the Punk IPA product and tagline.
In the beginning, the company achieved this by standing up to The Portman Group by creating controversial, bannable beers and continued making headlines with their overly strong beers or weird marketing campaigns.
These days, BrewDog are not so outlandish with their marketing stunts and have put more focus on protecting the environment and becoming a carbon-neutral brewery.
They still stand up for a cause, just one that fits the brand better after a decade of existence.
If your company is tied to a cause you genuinely believe in, this could hugely benefit your business from a customer affinity standpoint.
It stops you from being just another brand to them and gives them a reason to support you that isn’t just your products, though of course, good products help!
BrewDog makes sure they stick to what they believe in by setting out a brand mission and charter that they can hold themselves to, and refer back to when making business decisions or working on marketing campaigns.
Other brands that do this well are Patagonia and Lush.
Patagonia regularly highlights the climate crisis in their marketing and advertising, and it’s interwoven into everything they do.
Throughout their history, they have not only backed up their dedication to the planet by creating climate-conscious clothing, but they’ve also taken a stand against other fashion brands who have acted irresponsibly.
Lush stands up for multiple causes – they’ve always pushed for cruelty free cosmetics and have gone about making a stand about the causes they support in a similar way to BrewDog – by making headlines.
Lush completely quit social media on Black Friday 2021, a decision made because of the alleged impact social media has on young people. They expect a £10m loss because of the decision, but they are adamant about taking a stand.
Be The Biggest, Best, First or Strongest
Going back to those outlandish marketing stunts, BrewDog often made news headlines because they made the strongest beer or the first beer brewed somewhere bizarre.
Now, their claim to fame is being the World’s First Carbon Neutral Brewery, in a time where climate and global warming is a widely discussed topic.
If your company can boast about something, then you definitely should. You don’t have to take it to BrewDog extremes, but think about how you could put a unique spin on your products or services that make people pay attention to you.
Foster a Community
BrewDog has nailed building a community. Whether that’s online content or offline content in their various bars, BrewDog has found multiple ways to foster a community and keep them around.
Could you create a video library of entertaining and educational content connected to your business? Could you create a loyalty program that is about more than just collecting stamps and getting free products?
Make Checkout Easy
BrewDog’s ordering and checkout process are very easy to use. Highlights of this are certainly the ‘number of beers to free shipping’ counter in the bottom left corner of the screen, and the multiple signals that appear once you’ve added products to the cart.
If you’re struggling with a good checkout system, platforms like Shopify have a built-in basket, checkout and payment system to make things as easy as possible for you and your customers.
Test Multiple Ads
Even if you have a tight budget, testing multiple ads is a must if you want to get a good return on investment, even if it’s just testing different imagery and text to see how different demographics interact with them.
This way, you’ll have a better idea of what your target customers respond to, and you’ll create consistently better ads in the future.
BrewDog has come a long way since the brand first launched. They are a great example of how your brand can and should evolve over the years.
They use their brand mission and charter as the foundation for everything they do, and each marketing move, product release and community initiative is tied back to these values.
They are proof that even if you have certain views and values in the beginning, for example, not wanting to run paid ads, you can change this in the future as your business grows and develops.
BrewDog still has a bit of a way to go when it comes to their website, but overall they’re a solid brand that sticks by its values and produces a great product.
*Some links within this article are affiliate links which Exposure Ninja receives a fee for promoting (these links are not sponsored). Exposure Ninja only promotes services we already use within our marketing stack