Digital Marketing w/o Analytics is Like Driving w/o a Steering Wheel

Digital Marketing without Analytics is like driving without a steering wheel.

digital marketing without analytics is like driving without a steering wheel

You wouldn’t drive down a windy road through the woods without a steering wheel would you?

Can you image just hoping that you’ll make it through the woods without running off course, or even worse crashing into a tree? Yikes!

So why do so many companies develop digital marketing campaigns without looking at the data they can gain from Analytics? Just think of all the obstacles you could avoid, just by knowing what was happening. Analytics not only tells you what has worked in the past, it can help you steer clear of the obstacles in front of you.

A/B Testing – Online Marketing Term of the Week

A-B TestingA/B Testing

  1. Or A/B Testing is a method of comparing the performance of two sponsored listings, landing pages or other promotional content.
  2. A controlled experiment containing 2 variants, A and B, one as a control and one as a test.  The goal is to identify changes that increase or maximize a set outcome: I.e. clicks, conversions, etc.

4 Steps to Understanding if Facebook & Twitter Ads Really Work for You

I just read an article about a Gallup Poll that claimed Facebook and Twitter ads do not influence people to buy.  In the post they stated:

According to the polling firm’s latest “State of the American Consumer” report, released Monday, just 5% of Americans say social media advertising has a great deal of influence on which products they buy. In fact, 62% of the 18,000 people Gallup surveyed said social media advertising has no effect on their purchase decisions at all.

If you go directly to the Gallup Poll you’ll see the numbers

social media gallup poll

 

social media gallup poll

If you look at the stats 35% said they did influence them. The writers of the poll also tried to trivialize the number of millennials that are influenced. Their poll shows 50% said that social media ads do influence them. That doesn’t sound too bad… if you understand marketing at all.

First of all the Gallup Poll is an outdated non-scientific study that was developed before the digital age and is inherently flawed.  If you really want to know if ads work for you, try a more scientific method.

4 Steps You Need to Take to Really Understand if Facebook & Twitter Ads Work for You

  1. Define what a conversion is for you.
  2. Use social media ads to drive to your site.
  3. Create a proper landing page that drives conversions
  4. Use a third party website analytics tool to track visitor engagement and conversions.

Tracking real metrics will give you the proof one way or another. Data about conversions can’t lie. Either you have enough to make it worth it or you don’t.

return on investment roi

Cyber Monday Deal – Get Your Free Website Audit

Cyber Monday business to business

Cyber Monday isn’t just for consumers! Your business can enjoy the spoils of the day too!

We’re offering businesses a free Website Audit today!

Why do a website audit? Most companies build their website and forget about them. A website audit will check the health of your website to see if it follows today’s SEO and webmaster guidelines. Search engines regularly update the way the view and rank your site. In fact in the last year or two, Google made some of the most drastic changes in its history.

Here are a few points that will be checked in the audit.

  • Does your site follow the latest webmaster guidelines from Google and Bing?
  • Have any changes the search engines made to the way they rank sites, hurt your site?
  • Are there “bad” or “low quality” sites linking to your website?

Read more about website audits check out our post: 5 Reasons Why a Regular SEO Audit is Important to Your Business

Want to see an example summary? Example Audit Summary

When was the last time you checked the health of your website? 

Here’s your chance! Just fill out he form below and we’ll run the the audit and get it out to you right away. 

Why a Regular SEO Audit is Important for Your Website

Regular SEO Audit CycleA website audit or SEO audit is very similar to taking your car to get an oil change. You know you need to do it and it will help extend the life of your car. Your mechanic will change the oil, check the fluids, check the air pressure and more, but sometimes it can be a hassle. After all taking your car to the shop means being without it for a period of time, and who wants that! But it is a necessary process that has benefits in the end.

There are also lots of excuses for why not to do regular a SEO audit; you need to close that sale you’re working, training new hires or staying on top of customer service, whatever the reason, often the website audit gets postponed. Plus, many companies subscribe to the “do it once and forget it” plan, but just like your car an SEO audit is important part of a long-term success plan.

Want to see an example? We have one for you here: Download an SEO Audit summary example

5 Reasons Why a Regular SEO Audit is Important to Your Business

To put it simply an SEO Audit is a check-up for your website.  It means going through your current SEO strategies and measuring what has been successful and what has not. Then figuring out what needs to be fixed or improved.

Here are reasons why you need to complete an audit on a regular basis:

  • Webmaster Guidelines – These are constantly evolving and you need to make sure you are following their recommendations. If you are using webmaster tools from Bing of Google  they will even tell you where there are issues.
  • Algorithm Changes – Search engines periodically update their algorithms to provide better search results. The algorithms are how search engines measure where your site will show up in search results, so you need to make sure you keep up with the latest changes to make sure you are ranking well. In fact Google made 14 updates this year alone!
  • Link Profile – One thing that search engines are still relying on heavily are incoming links to websites. That means other sites that are linking to your site. You need to check this regularly because it can change often and being associated with bad sites can really hurt your ranking.
  • Outdated Content and Website Errors – This is one that many people miss. Outdated content can hurt your site not only for ranking, but visitors will see it is outdated and question if your business is up to date. You’d also be surprised at how often links break. Maybe caused an update to the site or something else. If people are not going to or staying on a page.. Fix it or remove it!
  • Benchmarking – Regular SEO Audits will show you your progress and give you a track record for what works and doesn’t work. Plus, looking at this on a regular basis means it will be easier to go back and undo tactics that didn’t work. Trying to go back several years to when you initially built your website would be much more difficult.

How often is “regularly”? That depends somewhat on your site. If you have a very active site or you have a lot to fix, a monthly SEO Audit might be necessary. The internet and online marketing move fast so you should perform an audit at least every 6 months.

Want to see an example? We have one for you here: Download an SEO Audit summary example

Online Marketing – What’s The Point?

Or better said what’s your goal? What are you trying to achieve with online marketing. Unfortunately too many online marketing campaigns are started with out a clear goal or set of goals in mind. If there are goals in place often they are too vague to be meaningful.

Let’s look at an old favorite.

Our GOAL is to sell more stuff.

That’s great! You and everyone else, but we need to dig deeper to get any meaning out of this.

  • What exactly do you want to sell?
  • Who do you want to sell to?
  • How much is each sale worth?
  • How many sets of eyeballs do you need viewing your products online to get a lead?
  • How many leads do you need before you make a sale?
  • What’s your conversion rate?

These are only a few of the question you need to ask before you start a campaign. Once you start answering these questions, you’ll be able to move through the simple diagram below.

calculating your ROI diagramIf you start from the bottom and move up; What do you need to do to land 10 new clients?:

  1. Determine or define the average value of a new client or sale. (Let’s use $1,000)
  2. Next if you know your typical close rate (We’ll use 50%)
  3. Then you can figure out how many leads you need to get 10 sales. (In this case you need 20 leads)
  4. If you know that 1% of visitors become leads, then you need 2,000 visitors.
  5. So finally, how much do you need to spend to get 2,000 visitors?

As you can see it is quite easy to create a budget and see the return on investment, once you define your goals and you understand the steps you need to take to reach them.

Need help defining your goals or working through the diagram? Let us know and we’ll set up a free first consultation: Contact Us

Close The Loop on Marketing and Sales With Marketing Automation

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” –John Wanamaker

Nearly half a century ago John Wanamaker made this comment. Sadly many businesses still feel this way. However with today’s technology including Marketing Automation and visitor tracking, online marketers have the tools to “close the loop” so they can effectively tie every lead and sale back to the dollar amount to the marketing initiative that produced them.

closed loop marketingAs I often say, “Your website should be the central hub of your online universe.” All your online marketing efforts should be driving traffic to your website: social media, search engine traffic, paid advertising, even your offline campaigns should send visitors to your site. You can see this in an our Online Marketing Flowchart. Once someone has come to your website you can give them a cookie which will track their activity on your site.

As each visitor browses your website you’ll be able to see from which avenue they came. You can see where they entered the site, what pages they viewed as well as where they exited the site. With this knowledge you can begin to shape visitor’s experience on your website, including taking actions to keep visitors engaged with your site.

The next step is to turn visitors into leads and start to close the loop. This is where you begin to monetize website traffic and send qualified leads to your sales team. One way to do this is to drive traffic to landing pages where you make an exchange. An exchange that can be in the form of a piece of your knowledge (a whitepaper, a case study or some other form of information) for more insights about the visitor (name, contact information, company, etc.).

So, not only will you know where your visitors are coming from and what they are doing on your site, but you’ll be able to tie this to actual people. Plus, you’ll be able to contact them!

The last step of the process is to track these leads to see who becomes a customer and how much they purchase. This will give you the ability to tie your sales all the way back to the individual marketing efforts. So now you’ll be able to determine which marketing channels contributed the most sales, which brought in the least and then make informed decisions for where to put your marketing dollars.

Content Marketing: The Evolution of Online Marketing

Content Marketing BillboardWe are at another turning point for online marketing. In the past year Google has reaffirmed the old mantra “Content is King” by updated their algorithm to penalize sites that were using SEO trickery to gain higher placement in search results. Think Panda and Penguin Updates.

The advice coming out of the Googleplex has been “Produce great content to get better rankings.” With this new or renewed idea of producing content, there have been many cries that SEO is dead. If you’re familiar with us, you already know we don’t believe this. It is not dead, but evolving.

Out of all of this the term “Content Marketing” sprang up. What is Content Marketing? Is it some new-fangled way to advertise? It’s more like combination of old techniques all rolled into one plan. Let me break it down for you…

Content marketing is a technique that combines many different aspects of online marketing. This can include all or some of the following aspects:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Blogging
  • Paid Search
  • Website Analytics
  • Lead Tracking

As you can guess because of the name, at the heart of it is your great content. This might include any number of the following things:

  • Blog posts
  • Whitepapers
  • Case studies
  • Videos
  • Webinars
  • Etc.

content marketing wheelUnfortunately many people will stop there, but if you do you miss the underlying reason for creating content: To engage potential new customers as well as clients.

The great thing is there are plenty of tools to track the effectiveness of your campaigns. When visitors come to your site you can track what they do on the site and how engaged they are using tools such as the following:

  • Website analytics
  • Lead capturing
  • Lead tracking tools

Put all these techniques and tools together and you have Content Marketing. It is non-interrupt and instead of preaching to customers, content marketing is giving your potential customers something that can make them smarter or can make their lives better.

Want to learn more about Content Marketing? Fill out the simple form below and we’ll set up a time to talk.

Content Marketing Contact

How to Set Up Google Analytics on Your Website

Last time we looked at your Current Online Presence and discussed some basic questions.

  • Do you have a website?
  • Do you or your organization have full control this site?
  • Do you have access or do you have someone that can quickly update your website?
  • Do you currently track what happens on your site? (i.e. Google Analytics, Omniture, etc.)

Now let’s assume that you answered yes to the first three points, but you’re not currently tracking what happens on your site. There are many different website analytics programs out there, but we recommend Google Analytics to most of our clients. It is cost effective (Who doesn’t like free?!?) and very powerful. In this post I’ll walk you through how to set it up on your website.

Let’s get started!

First thing you need to do is head over to the Google Analytics site: http://www.google.com/analytics/

If you already have a Google Account go ahead and sign in, if not, create an account.

google anaylitics homepage

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Once you’ve created an account or clicked sign in, you’ll be greeted with the following screen.

login to GA

Click on the sign up button.

Next you’ll have to choose what you want to track: “Web site” or “App.”  Choose “Web Site” and fill out the form. *Make sure you choose the correct time zone or your timing will be off. This could affect your reporting later.

Since this is also a new account make sure you set up the account name. This can be the name of the web site, the name of your company or anything else you would like to use. Don’t use your name though this might cause confusion, unless of course this is the name of your company too.

Lastly choose your Data Sharing Settings. We recommend keeping these checked. This way you can link/share data with other services from Google such as Adwords as well as receive benchmark data from other websites in your industry.

Then click “Get Tracking ID” and agree to the terms and conditions.

  GA set up form

Next you’ll be put into the “Tracking Info” section of the Admin Panel. This is where you set up what type of website tracking you would like to use.

  • Subdomains
  • Multiple top-level domains
  • Display Advertiser Support
  • Custom campaign tags (we’ll discuss custom campaigns in a later post)

You can see the full descriptions in the image below.  I you are only using one top level domain (i.e blackbirdesolutions.com) you can leave this section the way it is and go on to the next step. If not chose the appropriate options. Our site uses Subdomains so I clicked on the “Subdomains of blackbirdesolutions” toggle and switched it to “On.” As you do this you’ll notice the code changes in the box under your selection. It adds the line of code:  _gaq.push([‘_setDomainName’, ‘blackbirdesolutions.com’]);

GA website tracking setup page

Once you have your code. Copy and paste it into your site. You can do this manually by adding it to the <head> section of every page right before the closing head tag: </head>

Example:

<head>
<meta http-equiv=”Content-Type” content=”text/html; charset=utf-8″ />
<title>Untitled Document</title>
<script type=”text/javascript”>

var _gaq = _gaq || [];
_gaq.push([‘_setAccount’, ‘UA-xxxxxxxx-1’]);
_gaq.push([‘_setDomainName’, ‘blackbirdesolutions.com’]);
_gaq.push([‘_trackPageview’]);

(function() {
var ga = document.createElement(‘script’); ga.type = ‘text/javascript’; ga.async = true;
ga.src = (‘https:’ == document.location.protocol ? ‘https://ssl’ : ‘http://www’) + ‘.google-
analytics.com/ga.js’;
var s = document.getElementsByTagName(‘script’)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s);
})();

</script>

</head>

In our last post I recommended using a content management system or CMS. Most of them will have a plugin or section in their setup to add Google Analytics code. Our recommendation, WordPress, uses plugins. We use a plugin called Google Analyticator, which allows you to authenticate with your Google login. So there’s no copying and pasting needed.

Once you’ve copy and pasted or linked your account to your CMS, you’re all set!

You can now track what visitors are doing on your site. Later we’ll help you with reporting and understanding the data in Google Analytics.

google analytics report overview

 

Happy tracking!

Ready, Assess, Fire, Aim – Laying the Groundwork for Online Marketing

This is the second post in our series “Killer Online Marketing for 2013

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Many of you have probably heard the popular mantra, “Ready, Fire, Aim.” This is often adopted to keep people or organizations from getting bogged down in the analysis face of making decisions and to promote action. So it can be interpreted as; Take Action, Learn from these actions and then make corrections.

Great! We all need to take action. However, we have a slightly different mantra when it comes to online marketing campaigns.

Ready, Assess, Fire, Aim

Nobody (especially your client or boss) wants to waste money. So the first part of our series is about seeing if you’re ready, by assessing your current situation and ready, assess, fire, aim laying the groundwork for online success. We see too many people that just start firing away without any idea about where they currently are or a plan for what they want to accomplish. Usually they get frustrated quickly and give up with the complaint, “online marketing just doesn’t work for me.”
We don’t want that to happen to you!

Let’s get started.

Current Online Presence

The center of your online universe is your website. Don’t let anyone convince you that you no longer need a website. Facebook, Google+ or whatever other platform may be hot at the time you read this, is not a replacement for your website. Besides a host of other problems, what’s hot now may not be in the future. Remember that thing called MySpace?

Now, we need to figure out if you have the basics to get started. The following is a checklist to help you judge this:

  • Do you have a website?
  • Do you or your organization have full control this site?
  • Do you have access or do you have someone (this could be you, a team, department, consultant or consulting firm, etc.) that can quickly update your website?
  • Do you currently track what happens on your site? (i.e. Google Analytics, Omniture, etc.)

If you answered yes to all of the above, Awesome! You’re ready for the next step. If not don’t fret. We have some recommendations.

Do you have a website?

There are many ways to tackle this one. Of course it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t tell you we can help you with this. We’d be happy to build a custom site for you. If you would like to find out more info about this, website constructionjump over to our Web Development page.

Don’t have the money yet or you’re a do it yourselfer? There are options for this too.

For do it yourselfers that aren’t so technically minded, we love Squarespace. They offer many templates that you can customize without have to know any kind of coding, although they do also offer packages for developers as well. They’ll even help you register a domain. But I’ll let them tell you more about it. Watch the Squarespace Demo.

For do it yourselfers with more technical ability we recommend WordPress. This is a popular blogging platform that has grown into a full website content management system.  It is open source software that is free to download. You can host it yourself or you can sign up for an account at WordPress.com.  For just a blog using their domain (yourname.wordpress.com) it is free, but for a site and domain etc., there is a fee.

Do you or does your organization have full control of your site?

This eliminates Facebook and similar platforms as an option because they can make drastic changes to your presence without warning. Think back to all the changes Facebook has made in the last couple of years. Do you remember what company pages used to look like with tabs along the top? I can’t stress enough your website is the center of your online universe and you need to be in control of it. Below is an example flowchart for how things should be structured online.

oline marketing flowchart

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Do you have access or do you have someone (this could be you, a team, department, consultant or consulting firm, etc.) that can quickly update your website?

This is also very important. To successfully capture leads and prospect you need to have the ability to create/remove landing pages, lead capture forms as well as other pages. (We’ll talk more about this when we get lead generation.) This also includes some form of blogging.

We hear many complaints from people where they had a developer create a site for them, but then it becomes a huge hassle and is costly to make edits or add and remove pages. The best way to alleviate this is to make sure when you build a new site, or if you already have a site, set it up on a content management system or CMS.

A content management system (CMS) is a computer program that allows publishing, editing and modifying content as well as maintenance from a central interface. Definition from Wikepedia

I already mentioned a couple of options: Squarespace and WordPress. Our first choice for web development is WordPress, but there are a few others that are worth mentioning.

  • Joomla Open source and free to download.
  • Drupal Open source and free to download.
  • Expression Engine Core version is free. There is also a pay version that offers more functionality.

Any one of these would be a good and would give you the ability to add and remove pages as well as blog.

Do you currently track what happens on your site? (i.e. Google Analytics, Omniture, etc.)

Website analytics are a key component of any campaign. Without some sort of measurement you have no idea if your campaigns are successful. Plus, how can you improve if you don’t know how you’re doing?

With website analytics you can track simple metrics such as; Visitors, Bounce Rate, Referring Sites, etc. Where it really gets exciting though is when you start looking at more complex reports like Page Efficiency Analysis, Visitor Acquisition Efficiency and Conversion Rates vs. Medium. (We’ll help you create reports like this in the “AIM” portion of our series)

Here are two of the leading website analytics tools that we recommend:

Adobe’s Omniture

This is a pay tool that is very powerful and used by many large well known organizations. It is a very complex tool that can track just about anything you want. The downside is, it can be pricey for many smaller organizations and the complexity can be a bit overwhelming.

Google Analytics

Google offers a free version as well as a pay version. The pay version, like Omniture, is costly and mainly for large organizations. However, the free version is a great tool. This is what we use for our site, and what we recommend to most of our clients. It is very intuitive and easy to configure, as well as very powerful.

Google analytics example

With this simple list you can make sure your foundation is ready.  If you didn’t answer yes to all the questions, then the next step in your action plan is to make sure you turn your “noes” into “yeses.”

Have questions or comments? Let us know in the comments.

In our next posts we’ll talk about how to put some of these tools to work as well as onsite SEO.