I haven’t tested this myself yet, so I don’t have much to add other than my excitement. But I gotta say, I’m pretty giddy. If this service delivers, it has the potential to have the biggest impact in tracking offline conversions/sales this year for small and medium sized businesses. Unique phone number tracking has existed for a while. But those packages are pretty expensive for small companies and not easily integrated with existing analytics packages. Getting to see these results within Google Analytics (with pretty easy integration from what they say) sounds pretty sweet. Here’s the complete story from the GA Blog.

The offline phone call tracking is provided by a company called Mongoose Metrics. I’m looking forward to checking this out for myself. Has anyone else tried it out yet? I’d love to hear your feedback.  Offline conversions are one of the toughest metrics to track. This has the potential to fill in those data gaps.

Here’s what they list as their top four questions (and answers) about their services:

1. How many phone numbers do I need to track my keywords?
We have several methods that help track keywords affordably.

2. Is your phone call tracking service expensive?
No. Our phone call tracking service is extremely affordable with our starter plan beginning at $35 a month with no contracts. We also provide pricing discounts with extremely low rates for customers with higher monthly minutes requirements. See $35 A Month Starter Plan Details

3. Do you offer phone call recording?
Yes. Phone call recoding is provided at no extra cost.

4. What tracking numbers are available?
We offer toll free numbers which provision instantly and over 250,000 local U.S. and Canadian numbers which typically provision in 1 to 2 business days or less.

My favorite Indian restaurant went out of business this past year.  Call me selfish, but I’m tired of my favorite little ethnic (and other unique) restaurants going under. It’s not just the food. It’s the culture. These unique little establishments add some much needed flavor to Spokane, and I’d like to do something to help them survive in this tough economy. So, I’ve decided to teach a free Internet marketing seminar series for indie restaurants. The classes will focus on how to use search engine optimization, social media, and other Internet marketing strategies to find new customers. And yes, it’s free.

So what’s the problem, anyway? Well, it’s often an impulsive choice of where to eat. “Hey Honey, how does Vietnamese sound tonight?” They search online for where to go. Here’s what they find:

Spokane Vietnamese Restaurants

The problem is that these just aren’t good search results. There are bogus listings as well as duplicates. Players & Spectators is a Vietnamese restaurans? I did not know this. My favorite Vietnamese Restaurant, Vina (at the corner of Ash & Northwest BLVD), isn’t even on the complete list of Vietnamese Restaurants on Google Local. However, the Spokane Public Library is. I didn’t know that, either. Books, free WiFi, and spicy Beef Pho,… now we’re cookin’ with gas! Many great restaurants aren’t even found by their own name. You get the idea. Here are a few details about the first class. I look forward to seeing you there.

Class Location: Monterey Cafe’ 9 N. Washington Street (Sprague & Washington)

Date/Time: TBD (We’re shooting for late April)


We’ll discuss many aspects of Internet marketing. Here’s a bit of what you’ll learn to do:

-Create your own Google Local Business Listing (as well as local listings on Yahoo and MSN)
-Add online citations to improve your Internet exposure (even without a web site)
-Add descriptive online listing categories to get targeted traffic for your business
-Take advantage of the 20,000+ searches a month for Spokane Restaurants
-Use social networks to create a following for your restaurant
-Use great Local Search offerings like GetListed.org to streamline the process.

It should be a good time. The Monterey Cafe’ has graciously offered to host the first event and will be providing a tasty selection of light appetizers for the group. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call.

How will your marketing campaigns be judged in 2009?

Yep, the economy is bad.  There is no way to sugarcoat it.  Sure, it has impacted some industries and areas more than others.  But even if it hasn’t caused a serious downturn in your market, geographic area, or your business in particular, I’d argue that fiscal caution reigns supreme at the moment.

But what does that have to do with American Idol?

Every marketing spend out there is currently being judged by the corporate version of American Idol’s Randy Jackson (as VP of Business Development) , Simon Cowel (CEO/CFO), and Paula Abdul (VP of Marketing) and new exec Kara DioGuardia (VP of Technology).  Think of this audience.  They are in your meetings.  They decide whether you live or die (at least from a project standpoint).  In a good economy, Randy (Biz Dev) is given enough rope to risk new products and experiment with new business channels.  “Yo Dawwg, I’m gonna roll with your new Facebook-but-for-lawyers-website-thing.  It could be HUUUGE!” Paula (Marketing) can argue that a new emotionally charged TV campaign will have a big impact. “Honey, it’ll be great.  Soccer Moms all over the country will be calling in to sign-up. “Kara (Technology) will be allowed to pursue the latest and greatest tech solution to save the day.  That’s all fine and dandy in a good economy.  Yes, it’s still evaluated and put to discussion.  But it’s not quite as tough.  In a bad economy, people want a sure thing.  And the final (and sometimes only) vote goes to Simon (CEO/CFO). ÂAnd guess what’s he going to look at?  Yep, the ROI. What would Simon say about your marketing campaign?

Hopefully, he wouldn’t be this harsh

Search Engine Marketing (both SEO & PPC) Continue to Provide ROI

Fortunately, for search engine marketers, ROI can be easy calculate for the Simon’s of the business world.  In fact, a recent article from Enquiro discusses how search engine marketing (primarily from Google’s perspective) is still growing despite poor market conditions.  Here’s an excerpt:

Despite one of the worst economic years in recent memory, Google showed 23% growth in revenues. During the same time period every other economic metric went into free fall. Consumer confidence plunged to its lowest levels ever. Retails sales and online sales both hit the skids. Let’s not even talk about home sales. The Dow Jones is down 40% in the past year. The economy didn’t just slow down. It screeched to a halt. But in this same time, search kept plugging through without a hiccup. Did the astronomical growth continue? No, but 23% is pretty damn good in anyone’s books.

The article then went on to say:

So, when we hit bottom and start climbing out of this economic black hole, Search will have consolidated its position as the most accountable of marketing channels. It will form the basis of a new marketing model: consumer driven, immediate, measurable, effective, interactive.

Search Engine Marketing is consumer driven, measurable, & effective.

A completely non-scientific inquiry search engine marketing professionals (myself and people I know and trust in the industry) has shown that we are busier than we have ever been. A big part is due to our unique ability to prove that we are improving business for our clients.  It’s not a gut-check.  It’s not a demographic guide that says we likely reached 17% of our target audience.  It’s detailed analytics showing how we provide value and increase revenue.  In addition to the obvious, we are also able to make insightful recommendations to help aspects of your business we aren’t even managing.  But don’t take my (somewhat un-objective) word for it:

Marketing Sherpa’s Recent Internet Marketing ROI Survey

Web Pro News’ Top Internet Marketing Strategies

Search Engine Optimization came in first place with 36% of respondents indicating SEO was likely to be the most important online advertising channel. Blogging came a close second at 33% and Pay per Click (PPC) advertising came third with 26%. These three marketing channels, which are the mainstay services offered by search marketing firms, tend to offer the strongest returns on monies invested by the advertiser.

And to give you an idea of the wide variety of options on the table, nearly 500 marketing professionals were polled last November by public relations expert Lee Odden about the Internet marketing strategies and tactics they would be employing in the next six months.  Their responses are quite interesting.

All of this data helps me remain confident in my belief that search engine marketing (SEO & PPC) will make it out of Hollywood week and continue its trek to the finals despite the worst economy in decades. Oh yeah, when we win you (our clients) win, too.  That’s why we’re in business in the first place.

Analytics + Segmentation is the PB&J of web data

Analytics + Segmentation = PP&J

I just love a good PB&J. Tasy, tasty, tasty. At least I loved them before the recall. But I digress. It’s just that they remind me of analytics plus segmentation (or maybe I’m just hungry). But it just never fails me. Each and every time I segment important web analytics data I learn something new and am able to make immediate recommendations that helps my clients save money and grow their relevant search traffic.

So what is analytics segmentation, anyway?

It’s really pretty simple. It’s the process of comparing a set of data against a specific variable. Here’s an example that compares traffic sources of a specific web site against individual bounce rates. A bounce rate is recorded when a visitor gets to your web site and leaves without taking another action, so a lower bounce rate is better than a high one. It means that you have engaged your visitor and they are checking out your web site. It’s important to note, however, that blogs typically have high bounced rates and probably shouldn’t be judged by this metric. Here’s an analytic segmentation example:

referring traffic vs bounce rate

What Can we learn from the data in this example?

In this example, we are comparing the top five referring web sites against the bounce rate average of the web site (22%). In the easy to read chart, green mearures the percent lower than average and red the percentage higher than the average bounce rate (remember, you want low – green = good, red = bad). Let’s find out what we’ve learned that we can immediatelly apply to the web site.

Lesson #1 – Our existing customers are likely a bit bored

Direct traffic comes from visitors that type the web site URL directly and go to the web site (no search or referral). In this example, direct traffic has a 33% higher bounce rate than the web site average. Why is that? We can’t be exactly sure, but we can make some educated guesses. As these are likely returning visitors, maybe they are a bit bored. Maybe they want fresh content. They likely came to the web site, saw that it was exactly the same, and left, thus resulting in a bounce.

Action: Give them some tasty new content!

Lesson #2 – Review your Google CPC campaign conversion rates

Look at that horrible bounce rate for Google CPC! Their Google CPC campaign has a bounce rate that is 87% worse than the web site average. That is a huge waste of money! It’s time to take a look at this pay-per-click campaign and see what keywords have poor bounce rates and throw out the garbage.

Action: Review your paid search campaigs and eliminate poorly performing keywords.

Lesson #3 – Organic search traffic is kicking some serious butt

The organic search traffic has a significantly lower bounce rate than the web site average. The visitors from the search engines are finding their web site and clicking around. Very Nice!

Action: Expand SEO campaign to rank on page one for more long-tail keyword phrases

I hope this helps understand your web analytics a bit more. There are many more ways to segment your data. This is just one example. It’s exciting and powerful stuff. If you have any questions about analytics and what it can do for your business, just let us know. However, for those of you interested in really educating yourselves, I highly recommend checking out Avinash Kaushik’s blog. He’s the man.