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Why Content Measurement is Important

I’ll be teaching a six week in-depth analytics course starting next week, so I thought it would be a good idea to go over a few of the topics we’ll be covering in the class to give a little preview as well as provide some good tips for our blog readers. In this post, I’ll be taking a look at the importance of measuring content.

For the past few years there has been a lot of talk about content strategy and optimization. This is good! For the longest time, we online marketing folks were way too focused on generating junk to get a bunch of crappy inbound links to try to rank better. Google’s recent updates of Panda, Penguin, and now Hummingbird pretty much said bye-bye to this type of content in favor or unique, high-quality content focused on the needs of users. “Nice!”

So What is Good Content?

While the definition of good content is somewhat subjective, thankfully it’s something that can be identified and measured. For the purposes of this post we’ll be defining “good content” as original content that benefits both visitors AND the company’s business goals. But even this definition can be tricky.

We see a lot of companies that view this as a chance to overtly sell their products or services. Others tend to provide a wealth of factual information so that visitors are more likely to make a purchase. Every website is unique: there is no magic formula when it comes to content. But the sooner you get busy understanding your audience and finding out what they crave, the sooner your business will benefit.

Start with the Big Picture

Content_Example_Bloom

Let’s take a look at my wife’s nonprofit, Bloom Spokane, to examine the peaks and valleys of their historic traffic. In their case, these rises and falls are very much tied to their blogging efforts. As a nonprofit, they do not advertise at all. Blogging / outreach is their primary driver of traffic. We see that they had a big spike tied to an awesome blog post that went viral in early 2011 and had sustained growth the following year. Excellent!  But then what happened. We have a drop and a very flat traffic period for the next year. Let’s take a look…

Analyze Content Demand

Bloom_Top_10

I set up a segment to take a look at their top all-time blog posts. They have a lot of good informational posts, but their top two are either edgy / controversial or humorous. The Bloom blog does an amazing job of providing valuable information to expectant mothers, but maybe their audience wants more humor or possibly a more diverse selection of content. But, looking at the last 18 months of blog posts, there hasn’t been anymore break-out blog posts in terms of popularity.

What should they do? In their case, I would not recommend radical change, but a good idea would be to examine what their readers want. I’d recommend continuing to look at their analytics, as well as performing periodic surveys to learn exactly what their audience wants from the site. They definitely have their bases covered in terms of informational content. I would suggest adding more emotionally-driven content that visitors really connect with, in combination with the current informative posts.

Learn What Content Influences

Next, we look at what the content causes the audience to do next. Did they sign up for a class via the form? Did they visit a desired area of the website? In Bloom’s case, one of their main goals is to drive visitors to their provider page. These are professionals who list their services and advertise on the website. With Google Analytics, we are able to see where these blog visitors went next. Awesome!

Blog_Posts_Driving_Provider_Visits

We see that blog posts have driven 6,628 visits to the Bloom Provider Directory. Sweet! Also it is interesting that my humor-ish post, which was the #2 blog post in terms of overall visits, has fallen to 5th for driving visits to the provider directory. Also, the two very popular articles on whether or not to perform a circumcision are not even in the top ten when it comes to driving people to the provider directory. This is not a problem. It’s just something to consider each and every time you publish content.

Have Content-Related Goals

Most of the companies I talk with about content tracking do not have (what I would define as) goals. Their most common goal is to publish on a consistent basis, which is a good place to start. That said, I will be pushing people to define content-specific goals and dashboards to help define content strategy, measure effectiveness, and really help their business thrive.

In my blog post for Bloom Spokane, I used the quote below from Shane Falco aka Keanu Reeves to illustrate what I think advice from  husbands to their wives during labor would be like. Though far from an apples-to-apples comparison, I think it applies to writing as well. Blogging is harrrrd. Writing good content is harrrrd. But it’s worth the effort. Don’t worry. We’ll help make the tracking of it easy for you… with a little help from Keanu.

I hope this has been helpful in understanding the importance of tracking the killer content you’re producing. If you’d like to dive deeper into the analytics side of life, take a look at our upcoming analytics class series.

 

Analytics Class – Thursday, April 25th @ 11:30am

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We’re excited to be offering our Google Analytics class this Thursday, April 25th at 11:30am at The Nectar Tasting Room (corner of Main & Stevens). I get pretty fired up when it comes to teaching people how to utilize the power of data and am excited to be teaching my first analytics class of 2013. Understanding analytics is a game-changer for businesses and we love getting people headed down the path of analytics awesomeness!

This year we’ve changed the format of our classes so the lessons really sink in. We want you to be able to immediately apply what you’ve learned in class to help your business. Take a look at the educational support we’re providing as part of this analytics class offering. You’ll be an analytics ninja before you know it!

  • 90 minute class on Thursday, April 25th
  • 90 minute small group hands-on analytics lab session (dates TBD)
  • Unlimited analytics questions for 30 days in our new analytics forum

Measure & Maximize Your Marketing Efforts with Google Analytics!

Date: Thursday, April 25th
Location: Nectar Tasting Room, 120 North Stevens (corner of Main & Stevens)
Cost: $40
Limit: 25 attendees
Seats Available: 0 (Thanks again for another full class :)

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Here’s what you’ll learn in our 90 minute class:

Goals & KPI’s. What do you want your website to accomplish? We’ll start by showing how to create goals and KPI’s (key performance indicators) for your website. Always start with the end-goal in mind. We’ll measure everything against these business goals. (10 minutes)

The Install. It’s easy to get started with Google Analytics (GA). But there are a few things you’ll need to know to make sure you’re getting started on the right foot. We’ll show you how to install Google Analytics and configure it to your business’s needs. (5 minutes)

A Guided Tour. There have been A LOT of changes in GA recently. We’ll provided a guided tour that shows the wide variety of ways you can  look at your data to fully understand how to use Google Analytics to its fullest potential. (15 minutes)

Understanding Traffic Sources. It’s imperative to understand not just where your traffic is coming from but that traffic is causing. Are your marketing campaigns performing? Should you renew your advertising contract with XYZ company? We’ll show you how to use your Google Analytics data to make more educated decisions about your marketing and advertising efforts. (15 minutes)

Measurement = More Powerful Pages. You’ll learn how to use measurement to improve to your homepage, landing pages, interior pages and blog posts. Content is king. You’ll learn how to identify pages that are under-performing and make them better. (15 minutes)

Conversions. There are many ways to measure conversions on a website. We’ll show several ways to create and track that final step of the conversion (the sale, registration, download, etc.) We’ll also show how to create micro-conversions to create multiple smaller steps to purchase. (10 minutes)

Advanced Awesomeness. We’ll end by showing how to take advantage of advanced segments within Google Analytics. Using segments effectively is one of the most valuable ways GA can help your business. I use advanced segments about 20 times a day for my clients (and you should too). Take advantage of the power. (10 minutes)

Questions. We have ten minutes “officially” set aside for questions. That said, I’ve set aside an hour after our class is over to answer questions for anyone that would like to stay after the class. We realize many of you are coming to the class on your lunch break so we’ll be adhering to our 90 minute schedule. That said, if you can stay after class I’ll be there to answer questions for an extra hour :)

Here’s what you’ll get as a bonus:

This year we’ll be providing 90 minute follow-up lab sessions so you can reinforce your classroom learning experience with hands-on training. What does that mean? I’m glad you asked! We’ll be providing several small group lab sessions where I’ll work with you set up goals, create advanced segments, create dashboards, and much more.

But I want a super-bonus!

You drive a hard bargain, but OK. Here’s your super-bonus. Anyone registered for the class is invited into our new analytics forum for 30 days for free! Ask UNLIMITED QUESTIONS about Google Analytics for a month absolutely free! I’ll even throw in some foosball tips for those interested.

But wait, there’s more!

We’ll also provide an adequate, somewhat nutritious box lunch during your first class session with the choice of a few inexpensive beverages and/or water. Hey, it’s not exactly date-night food. But becoming an analytics ninja for $40 will make you both thrifty and dang sexy!

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      Our goal is make this most valuable
             class you’ve ever attended!

 

Awesome Analytics, Local Search, SEO, Social Media, & Converstion Rate Optimization Info

A big thank you to The Spokane Club and everyone that attended my presentation earlier this week at their Networking Breakfast! I really appreciated your questions, engagement, and enthusiasm. As I mentioned during our session, I want to provide additional resources for you to continue your education in the ways of analytics, SEO, local search, social media, and conversion rate testing. We covered a lot of topics in a short period of time and as a follow-up I wanted to create an awesome resource library for you. Now it’s time for you to choose your own Internet marketing adventure and learn from the best and brightest in the industry.

ANALYTICS, ANALYTICS, ANALYTICS
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As I’m sure you recall from my presentation, I hammered home the importance of understanding analytics. I’m not talking about “reporting” or “monthly reports” for your boss. I’m talkin’ about kick-butt, actionable analytics that teach, provide valuable insight, and inspire action. What’s workin,’ baby? What does the data tell us today? This higher level of attention to your data is not optional… if you want your business to succeed. You must “know thy data.” Here’s how:

Occam’s Razor – Awesome analyics blog from Avinash Kaushik
Web Analytics an Hour a Day – Great introduction to actionable analytics (also from Avinash)
Google Analytics Blog - Resource for understanding Google Analytics (beginner & advanced)
Google Analytics Videos - Educational videos that show how to use Google Analytics
Conversion University – A curriculum of analytics video tutorals
Analytics 2.0 [The Art of Online Accountability & Science of Customer Centricity] (Thanks Avinash!)

MAKE SURE YOUR WEB SITE CONVERTS TRAFFIC

I think it’s great when companies embrace new technologies and ways of thinking. Social media has taken the Internet marketing world by storm and generated all kinds of buzz (much of it well deserved) this year. However, I’m always wary of what I call the “Shiny Penny Syndrome.” It’s a condition where companies throw resources at the latest and greatest marketing techniques without testing and tracking what the shiny penny actually does. I’ve also seen companies completely stop doing what works (like email marketing) just because it doesn’t have that new marketing smell.

Don’t Make Me Think – Great read (really fast, too) about web site usability
Conversion Rate Experts – UK company focused solely on conversion rate optimization
108 Ways to Improve Conversion Rates (from Conversion Rate Experts)
Google Web Site Optimizer Blog (The Official Optimizer Blog)
Always Be Testing - Great book for learning A/B & Multivariate testing
Marketing Experiments – I love these guys. Their webcasts rock!

LOCAL SEARCH = LOW HANGING FRUIT

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As an Internet marketer I’m always looking for the low-hanging fruit–”the best bang-for-the-buck in the shortest period of time. And for most small and medium businesses that’s Local Search. Like I mentioned before, this doesn’t mean you stop doing everything else and go local only. It means that it’s time for a dedicated local search strategy to compliment your existing marketing efforts. Learn more from these experts:

David Mihm – Portland, OR Local Search expert & designer
2009 Local Search Ranking Factors – I’m proud to be a contributor to this research project :)
Mary Bowling – Denver, CO Local Search expert
Understanding Google Maps & Local Search – For those that want details, details, details.
Small Business SEM – Local Search + SMB Advice = Awesome!
Miriam Ellis – San Francisco, CA Local Search expert & designer
Chris Silver Smith – Cartographer & Local Search expert. Again, for folks that want the technical details.

ORGANIC SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO)

There is a lot of information out there about SEO. In fact, there is so much information that it’s tough to know where you should even begin. These folks provide the best information and their content is always up to date.

SEOmoz - Free and premium levels of membership – Both are great!
SEO Book – Again, free and premium levels of membership – Great as well
Search Engine Journal - Free SEO content from a variety of SEO experts – including me starting next month
Search Engine Land - Center of the universe for all things search – Look through the categories
Vanessa Fox – She has an uncanny ability to explain complex details in very simple terms
Rand Fishkin’s HostingCon Preso – Awesome SEO explanation (and motivation for my art project)

BUT WHAT ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA?

Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about social media. Remember, this socia media stuff is new for everybody so the importance of testing and learning from data is paramount. I think this bit of reading will provide good insight for you.

Outspoken Media - More than social media, but they cover it very well. Many good social media posts here.
Copyblogger – Read Copyblogger now! Writing is so freakin’ important. This is one of my favorite blogs!
7 Harsh Realities of Social Media Marketing – Great new post from Copyblogger
Trackur - Cool way to track social media mentions & reputation
Samepoint – See all mentions of your name or company online. A very cool social media monitoring tool.
5 Facebook Case Studies – Yes, 5 real case studies about marketing with FB.
Twitter, Tacos, & Trucks – The Story of Kogi Bar-B-Que

LIKE I SAID,… WHAT MATTERS IS HOW IT HELPS YOUR BUSINESS
Here’s an example from the presentation. I know it’s hard to believe,… but I didn’t even go to art school!
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WANT MORE INFORMATION? HAVE QUESTIONS? COMMENTS? JUST LET ME KNOW.

Please feel from to leave a comment below, send an email, or contact me at my office (509-456-4350).

Phone Call Tracking & Google Analytics

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.