Archive for March, 2010
To filter or not to filter? That is the question. The answer is yes.
There are times when you want to filter and there are times when you don’t want to filter. There are a lot of theories about what you should be doing with your analytics profiles, but I thought I would provide you with some can’t go wrong guidelines to get started.
- Always create a profile that DOES NOT filter traffic.
Why? When you create a filter for a hosted analytics solution, it will not track the traffic. If you don’t capture it the first time, there is no going back. In most hosted analytics solutions, you can create multiple profiles under a single account, so always create a master account with full traffic being tracked.
- You want to see internal traffic.
Believe it or not, there are people at your company who use the website as a tool. Mainly, this group will be customer service, but the best website contains great corporate information that can serve as a repository for every last employee.
- Customers Only!
One of the great benefits of robust analytics is that you can set and measure goals. By creating a profile that does filter out internal IP addresses, you can count the conversions and measure for your customers and not dilute your numbers with internal users. Also, it gives you a place to examine customer behaviors online without being sideswiped by activity of power users from your company.
- Is It In or Is It Out?
There are multiple ways to define a filter. The most common ones are to either include or exclude specific traffic criteria. For example, you can exclude internal traffic or incoming traffic from a specific referring domain. Include filters do the opposite; they only track the criteria you set. Creating an include filter for your paid search or social media program is a great idea. It allows you to more closely track the user behavior of this group.
- Search and Replace
That last part of the puzzle is a filter that is used by Google Analytics. It allows you to make changes to dynamic URLs so that you can easily interpret the data in your reports. For example, you might have a URL that looks like www.optiem.com/products.aspx?id=200. The “id=200” might be a “white paper” or a specific product category. By creating a search and replace filter, you can change the display of the information, making it easier for the marketing team to interpret analytics reports.
There are a lot more things you can do in Google Analytics with filters, but these five will get you moving in the right direction.
One last note about filters. In Google Analytics, filters are applied to the data in the order they were added to the profile. This order can change the result data you get depending on what type of filters you are applying. It is worth doing a gut check to see if you are getting a result set that looks right based on a manual calculation. If it doesn’t seem to be working, don’t worry, you still have the Master Profile to use.
A) Laugh, my competitor just wasted their time because social media is just a fad
B) Nothing, my target market isn’t on Facebook
C) Catch-up, create a Facebook Page, a Twitter Page, a Blog and start posting tomorrow
D) Pause, take a deep breath and plan the attack
If you chose D…Ding, Ding, Ding! Right answer! Let’s go through each.
A) Laugh, my competitor just wasted their time because social media is just a fad
I hate to break it to you, but social media is here to stay. It is funny how many times I have heard
that over the last 5 years. When I first started working with clients on social media marketing, I heard
time and time again clients referencing social media as the latest and greatest and that it would soon
fizzle out. Almost 5 years later, now more than ever, I am still working with clients on social media
marketing and the value and metrics are only getting better. Anyone interested in specific social media
statistics can easily type in to a search engine and get any number of statistics they are looking for
in reference to a specific social media channel, but they tend to trend the same – up.
Combination of Compete.com metrics from:
Though these are only a few social media marketing channels, they consistently show the increase in usage and engagement.
B) Nothing, my target market isn’t on Facebook
There was a time when this type of statement could have been true…4 years ago. Today, every type of
demographic is using some form of social media. The demographic reach of social media continues to
expand everyday and though the audience you are looking to target may not be the majority demographic
today, that doesn’t mean it won’t grow over time and more importantly those that are there aren’t the
high-quality market you are looking for.
C) Catch-up, create a Facebook Page, a Twitter Page, a Blog and start posting tomorrow
This is one of the most common reactions made by companies in response to realizing that their competition
is utilizing Social Media. Just because it may be easy to sign-up for social media accounts and sounds
easy enough to just post what people will want to read doesn’t mean it is. This is a knee-jerk reaction
that often ends up bad for the company. Marketers tend to either try to do it all and realize it is too
time consuming to handle and stop using it all together or they throw up a bunch of “stuff” and don’t
understand why they are not getting fans/retweets/comments. In the end this reaction doesn’t allow you
to truly gage whether social media is a viable and scalable marketing solution.
D) Pause, take a deep breath and plan the attack
Too many times companies react to their competition’s use of social media by either A, B or C.
What many often times overlook is the fact that stopping to assess the situation to allow your
company to choose the right content/interactions and plan out how you will measure is the best
way to approach social media. We often find that many companies are just impatient and don’t
want to take the time to take this approach; however it is better to be 30 minutes late to the
party and show up with the right food, outfit and gift than show up 2 minutes late with nothing to offer.
What many fail to realize is that Social Media is here to stay (it is just constantly evolving),
every demographic is using some form of Social Media, haphazard use of Social Media can dilute a
brand/products trust and the most important – - – Social Media is one of the most powerful influencers,
take the time to do it right; because with the nuances that make social media, you can’t go back.
So you’ve slaved away to create the ideal PPC account structure. Your keyword mix is thorough, ad copy is crafted and aggressive bid strategy is forging ahead. As expected, if you build it they will come. But….now what?
A common mistake in PPC account management is forgetting to look beyond the click. While creating an ideal pre-click structure is important, it’s only half way to your goal. Here are some tips to consider for effective PPC landing pages:
1. Offer a clear call to action
- PPC landing pages often get crowded with a number of different possible actions. Whether it’s to complete and submit a form, watch a video or make a purchase, the best rule of thumb is to minimize choices.
- Another important factor to keep in mind is the placement of your call to action. Make sure it’s easy to identify and is within the reading pane.
2. Follow through on your promise
- If your ad copy offers 25% off your total purchase, make sure you are landing the user on a page where that offer is prominent.
- If your ad copy touts your wide selection of a specific product, land your user on a page with the appropriate product offering. If a category page doesn’t exist, don’t be afraid to leverage your internal site search. Just be sure to proceed with caution.
3. Keep it simple, easily guide the user to your goal
- An intricate design is beautiful, but can distract from the task at hand.
- Leverage text when it makes sense, but keep the length to a minimum and be sure the layout is easy to scan.
4. Evoke Trust
- Why is this product/content/sign-up form relevant to me? Clearly state the benefits without sounding too salesy.
- List any relevant organizations or security services that your site is affiliated with, but be cautious of crowding your page with unnecessary clutter.
5. Offer a secondary goal, where applicable
- If the primary call to action is for a user to download a whitepaper or read information about a specific offering, don’t miss the opportunity to entice them with other relevant services that might be of interest. However, keep numbers one and three in mind!
While this nearly scratches the surface on the innumerable elements for a well-converting PPC landing page, it’s a great place to start and a solid complement to a well built PPC structure.
I thought that making the transition back to an agency and revamping Optiem’s SEO services and approach was by no means going to be an easy task, but I didn’t expect how hard it was going to be to transition clients away from treating rankings as the be all, end all SEO metric. Taking my previous experience at an agency and most recently from the client-side, I wanted to bring this new ROI approach to clients to:
- Improve their SEO efforts
- Alleviate some of the burden of justifying the marketing investment
I think I was definitely naïve to think this transition was going to be easy. There were some clients that were ecstatic to begin seeing these new SEO metrics like forecasting and ROI models with ROI reports added monthly; however others still wanted to look at their ranking reports.
One of the main problems with search rankings being the sole SEO metric is the lack of accurate data. I can’t tell you how many times we have received questions from clients on why they are seeing their company rank 5th and the person down the hall from them are seeing it as 3rd and we reported to them that it was ranked 4th. So when trying to answer this question for clients, along with trying to convince them to transition their SEO success metrics, I try to touch upon some of the discrepancies that can occur on a daily basis in search ranking results and how that can taint their ranking metrics.
Individual Search History
Did you know that your search results can be affected by:
- Whether you are logged into your Gmail account
- What websites you have visited in the past
- Your location
- How many times you have searched for a given keyword phrase
These are some of the most common obstacles I see with clients. All of the examples above can have an effect on your search engine results page (SERPS) and can shuffle your organic listings. Case in point, a major keyword for one of our clients:
Search Engine Algorithm Updates
Everyday search engine algorithms are updated, not once, but MANY times throughout the day! This can have an effect on your websites rankings and can often change your ranking position from one hour to the next. This is generally not drastic fluctuations, but tends to be a shift of 1 or2 positions up or down. These changes aren’t usually major ones, but are most like upgrades that are used to continually refine the weighted scoring system.
If you are doing the bare-minimum SEO or did an SEO update a year ago and haven’t updated it since, which by the way SEO is ongoing and should never a one-time deal, who’s to say that your competition isn’t continually updating their SEO efforts or doing SEO a little better? If your competitors are constantly making updates, adding new content, are actively engaged in linkbuilding campaigns and optimizing their website they will inevitably move around you in the rankings.
You’ve made updates to your website; did you consult with your in-house SEO or SEO agency? Often times website updates can have a major effect (good and bad) on a website’s ranking performance. What may seem like a harmless updates like removing products, adding filters and adding content can actually affect your websites ranking performance. What is even scarier are those companies that make even bigger changes like website redesigns and adding guided-navigation and do not consult with an SEO. These are major changes that should always be brought to the attention of an SEO to ensure the site is still incorporating SEO Best Practices for optimal crawability.
I’m definitely not saying that rankings should not play a part in your SEO strategy and in SEO performance; I am simply suggesting that you primarily measure success in dollars and cents and have the ability to say I spent $X on my site this year and received $Y in return. The transition to this type of SEO metric is by no means easy, but well worth the ROI! Look forward to the next SEO blog post that will explain the benefit of measuring ROI as the major SEO metric.
When thinking about doing an online marketing project, the place to start is with the consumer. By creating an understanding with the consumer, any project can be more directly focused on fulfilling the needs of the audience you want to reach. In order to do this, you need to start with market research. There is often a perception that doing market research can be timely and expensive. While in-depth market research can be both of these, basic market research can be done quickly and cost effectively.
With the growth of online tools, anyone has the ability to do some basic fact finding about their website, their products and their online audience. The first place to start is to take a look at how your website is performing and who is coming to your website. You might think you know your customer, but it might not be the same customer online.
For example, when doing research for COSE, a small business chamber of commerce, we found a marked difference between the person who was the member and the person using the website. The member population was dominantly male, but the online population was much more even. By using the free demographic information in Alexa.com, you can see these gender differences.
There are several sources on the internet that can provide online market research data for free, or for your email address. It might provide limited insight, but by grabbing user information, it will help you create a more complete picture of your audience and how to reach them. Here are a couple of sources worth checking out:
- Nielsen – The Nielsen Company has a large library of research reports that cover a plethora of topics. Most of these are available by providing your contact information.
- Hitwise– a great amount of online data is available from Hitwise. They even have it geographically segmented as well.
- eMarketer– sign up for their newsletters and weekly charts. They are a treasure trove of marketing data.
- Alexa – with user stats, demographics and search analytics, this website can give you a nice picture of the online user for you, and your customers.
- Google Insights– get information about search terms that are important to you and see who and where in the world people are talking about it.
Just remember, there is data out there. Doing online market research will bring an enormous amount of value to what you want to accomplish. There are so many facets of what you can discover.
It became clear that, through organizing an event like this, we would be able to showcase positive, innovative ideas that were being developed in Cleveland both to Clevelanders and the global TED community. So, in a more casual manner than you would expect, we decided, “hey, let’s apply to be TEDx organizers and see what happens.”
With an organization as well-established and prestigious as TED I was nervous that we wouldn’t hear back at all. But we did – and we were accepted. It was a rush of emotions – we were thrilled. This also meant that we had a lot of work to do. Who should speak at Cleveland’s first TEDx? Where would we hold this event? How should we promote it? Thus began our 3-month TEDx research, planning and set up process.
This process concluded in what I feel was a very successful event. 10 speakers came together to share ideas about technology, alternative energy, development, legal matters, medicine and life in general. All of the great ideas can be seen from the TEDxCLE speakers and videos. My employer, Uppercut Motion + Sound and parent company Adcom Communications, was very gracious in offering to sponsor the audio/visual portion of this event. Without their involvement it would not have been possible for Eric and I to make available TEDxCLE videos of all of the speeches following the event. I cannot thank them enough. My team did a fantastic job shooting/recording the event and even found ways to handle this shoot that allowed us to streamline our post-production process (such as feeding audio directly into each camera while shooting), allowing for videos to be edited very quickly and seamlessly. I feel honored that I have the opportunity to manage such a talented group.
One highlight of the event was the speech that Chris Yanc, a co-worker at Optiem, delivered. He spoke about how open-source technology helps to build communities of the brightest minds that go on to foster great ideas and sometimes products. He developed a multi-touch table similar to technology found in Microsoft Surface with the NUI Group, which is an online, open-source community. Chris’ talk was dynamic, insightful, and extremely funny at times. He’s one of the brightest, freshest technology thinkers I’ve come across in a while and Optiem, as well as the city of Cleveland, is lucky to have him as one of our own.
TEDxCLE was an extremely fulfilling experience for both Eric and I. We were able to meet so many amazing Clevelanders in the process and it’s really enriched our lives as we settle in the area. Looking forward to next year’s event!
Email Marketing is an accessible and affordable way to reach your audience. Virtually anyone can launch an email campaign with little to no effort. This approach is often taken by many due to the ability to easily deploy an email, with the thought of creating a strategy pushed to the wayside along with the building blocks of a solid Email Marketing Program.
Whether you’ve been in the game for three months or three years, take the time to assess your Email Marketing strategy using the check list below and help put your current Email Marketing efforts into perspective:
1. Identify Your Goals
- Are you looking to generate leads, acquire new customers, or to sell your product?
2. Analyze the Health of Your House List
- How clean is your data?
- What kind of information are you currently collecting? Should/could you be collecting more?
- Could this information be segmented?
- How frequently are you sending to your current list?
3. Identify Your Target Audience
- Put yourself in their shoes and be sure that you are sending a message that answers the “Why Do I care?” question. Be relevant!
4. Identify the Best Mix of Messaging
- Short-Form Editorial (Tip of the Day)
- Long-Form Editorial (Newsletter)
- Short-Form Promotional (Single Product)
- Long-Form Promotional (Multiple Products)
- Transactional (Event-Triggered)
5. Identify the Ideal Frequency
- Capture this preference during the signup process & send accordingly
- Update your send frequency to behavioral data when available
- Don’t have access to user preferences? Look at industry best practices to identify a good starting point
6. Create Benchmarks to Measure Results
7. Test, Improve, Test
- Continually test, learn, improve & repeat
- Don’t be afraid to try something new, the results may surprise you!
As mentioned in my previous post, Making an Analytics Choice, every marketer needs to be able to measure their online marketing campaigns and website performance in order to improve and succeed.
Using Google Analytics is a great way to get started tracking your web stats. Google provides the tool online at no cost. The web-based tool allows you anytime, anywhere access to your website analytics information. Before you can get started with looking at your stats, you need to create an analytics account and get the tracking working on your website.
First, you will need a Google account. If you don’t have one, it is the first step. After that, you just need to sign into the Google Analytics. Google will ask you a few simple questions to create your account.
Next, you will need to install the tracking code provided by Google at the footer of your website. If you have a website that is a series of standalone HTML pages, you will need to install the script on every page in order for it to be tracked. You just need to copy and paste the script just above the tag. If you have an include that automatically generates information for the footer of every page, you will most likely need to put it in there.
On the tracking code screen, you will notice a lot of options including Advanced and Customer Options. We will cover more advanced configurations of Google analytics and when to use those features. Once you get the script installed, you can come back and check to make sure it is tracking correctly. Once your script is tracking, you can start to use the Google Analytics reports and all of your website visitors.
Now that you have analytics up and running, we will start to focus on the Google Analytics Reporting Interface during the next post. Until then, keep measuring!
P.S . . . If you ever need to back to your account to find your tracking code, it can be a bit tricky to find it. Here is how you do it:
- Log in to Google Analytics
- From the Overview page, select the account that has the profile for the tracking code you’re looking for, as the code is profile-specific.
- Select the profile from the accounts Overview page.
- From that profile’s Actions column, click Edit
- At the top right of the ‘Main Website Profile Information’ box, click Check Status
Your tracking code will be on this page.
Every online marketing activity belongs in one of three categories: Acquisition, Conversion or Retention. Integrated online marketing is a complementary combination of tactics that provide consistent messaging and (hopefully) successful marketing. The key to success is the exact mix of marketing elements that are unique to each individual business.
- Acquisition is simply getting prospects to your website or business. These activities include awareness and direct marketing tactics. Display ads, social media, organic search optimization (SEO), paid search marketing, blogging, webinars and many other tactics are used to drive traffic.
- Conversion actions typically occurring on your website that aim to make a visitor take a specific action. Conversion can be any specific goal such as ecommerce sales, lead form completion, registration, downloading content or even just viewing a page(s).
- Retention is every effort to increase the value of a prospect by encouraging repeat visits, further engagement and additional purchases. Email is the king of retention marketing, but other activities have substantial impact including blog feeds, loyalty programs and online customer service.
Impact of Business Models One of the biggest filters on the effective online marketing mix is the type of business model the company/website represents. BtoB, BtoC vs. Non-Profit is one level of that, but even more important for determining media mix is the purpose of the site: Branding, Education, Lead Generation vs. eCommerce.
- Branding focused websites need a larger mix of awareness campaigns such as online display, content sponsorships and social media marketing. Broad information search campaigns that are focused on 1-2 word phrases can also be effective in this mix. Conversion can be measured online in brand interactions, but capturing an email address and creating more brand interactions with valuable, fresh content will improve results.
- Education is a common goal for many websites, especially ones that rely heavily on advertising revenue. Organic traffic is critical for success. Tactics like SEO and social media marketing need to be built into the site architecture to maximize “free” visits. Conversion may be measured in page views and the site architecture should be designed to maximize those through navigation. Once again capturing emails and driving repeat visits with great free content will be key to growth.
- Lead Generation is often core to most BtoB sites, but can be an important part of consumer and non-profits as well. Typically leads are needed when sales cycles are longer and more complex. Awareness and reach are less important here. Some well placed ads on contextually targeted sites can help, but more important here will be search marketing. Paid search and organic optimization (SEO) can drive traffic to lead generation focused landing pages. It’s important to build lead capture into every aspect of your website to maximize conversion, and setup the critical step of retention. Retention may occur through email, or it could be moved offline to a more direct sales channel through a CRM integration.
- eCommerce sales are one of the most difficult types of sites to market successfully. Competition for valuable traffic is the biggest challenge. The best eCommerce marketers like Amazon.com focus on lifetime value ROI and not cost per acquisition. Here is where tracking all the costs and the results of all online tactics becomes critical in order to measure the true ROI. Many tactics can work successfully here but the key ones include paid and organic search, affiliate marketing and shopping comparison engines for initial acquisition. Onsite conversion will need a strong A/B testing program with dedicated topical landing pages to maximize conversion. Lastly, a strong email program with good segmentation and relevant promotional offers will extend and grow the lifetime value of the customer.
Check back for Part 2 in a couple weeks.
With all the hype around Augmented Reality AR a lot of marketers are ready to jump in head first like a social media junkie signing up for the latest location based social media site. But while the technology certainly has potential and is admittedly very exciting, its practical use in marketing lacks any mass ROI or platform for adoption. To understand this, let’s first look at what AR is.
WHAT IS AUGMENTED REALITY?
Augmented Reality is the effect of enhancing or supplementing a person’s view of the world via an assistive technology. The most easily recognizable example of AR is familiar to many of us during football season on any given Sunday. The yellow first down marker used in football was one of the first examples of AR. It was used to communicate information about the game that was hard for the casual viewer to see in real-time. More recently the concept has been used in science fiction movies such as The Terminator, Minority Report, and The Matrix: Revolutions as well as books like Rainbow’s End, where the characters experience entire CG worlds through wearable computers and contact lenses.
In his recent Ted Talk, Pranav Mistry demonstrated the potential of his Augmented Reality platform, SixthSense. This intriguing talk included examples of newspapers playing video, airline tickets displaying real-time flight status, and combining printed text with digital documents. However, there are a number of mobile Apps for the iPhone and Google’s Android OS that already bring AR to the average person.
- Google Goggles – Take pictures of objects and get information about them, from books to bridges http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgcE_EQRpdA
- TwittARound – Find tweets posted near you http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Vbh7nHalCc
- Layar – AR browser for iPhone and Android phones, showing real-time digital information using your phone’s camera http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9eqcMGqJ-A
DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE
While many of these apps are very interesting, their viable application for marketing initiatives is a novelty at best and snake oil at worst. While launching something on a large scale can help build brand recognition and equity, such as Esquire’s Augment Reality issue featuring Robert Downey Jr, the ROI story is not as rosy of a picture.
Consider Best Buy’s Augmented Reality circular. The circular exceeded Best Buy’s expectations with more than double the number of users participating than expected. However, that number was only 6,500, out of a Sunday circulation of 43 Million. In other words, less than 1/1000 of one percent…
Gartner recently released a report on the “Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2009”. In the report, Augmented Reality is on its way to peak inflated expectations. After that it will spend time in the trough of disillusionment before tracking toward the plateau of productivity.
Some projections for augmented reality include:
- Market projected at $350 to $732 million by 2014
- Sixth Sense development
- Video game integration
- Smart eyewear and heads-up displays
- Augmented advertising
- 5-10 years to mainstream adoption
Right now, Augmented Reality is enjoying a firestorm of hype and the good news is that this should stimulate investment. However, AR has a number of hurdles to overcome before it becomes a viable technology for marketers.