The biggest mistake we see is that (for the most part) businesses have no idea how much traffic is coming to their websites via mobile. And those that do, really don’t know how mobile traffic is impacting their business. Here’s a mobile dashboard you can add to your Google Analytics profile to get started.
I’ve never heard a client mention a “mobile first” strategy. We typically hear how the website will be built and then there is a followup discussion about what needs to be removed / customized to fit for mobile. And for the most part, it’s usually an afterthought. If your business is getting over 50% (the highest percentage in our sample was 63%) of its traffic from mobile devices, doesn’t it make sense to prioritize mobile?
Think Like a Mobile User
We all know what it’s like to try to find information on our phones. It can be pretty rugged. I’m still a bit surprised when I’m able to easily find what I’m looking for via mobile. Think about what your users need to find and where they’ll be when they’re searching. What is their level of urgency at that time? What would make their mobile experience less painful? What would happen if they had actually had a good (maybe even great) experience from their phone?
We live in an ever-changing world. It’s important for your business to stay updated and adapt to whatever comes next. While that can be difficult, there are organizations that help. I’d like to give a shout-out to Ryan Arnold and the entrepreneurial efforts of Greater Spokane Incorporated for expanding the number of technical presentations they’ve been providing at GSI, Share Space Spokane, and The Spokane Club.
I’d also like to mention that I’ll be hosting a free LocalU Hangout focused on best practices and tracking solutions for mobile on June 19th at 8am PST. It’s free to attend and we’ve got some amazing panelists lined up! Just click on the YouTube link to attend and ask questions of our mobile and analytics experts Aaron Weiche, Cindy Krum, Jeff Sauer, and Annie Cushing.
It isn’t affordable for everyone to hire a Conversion Rate Optimizer or hire an agency to do it for them. Especially when it is your startup and no one on your team has the necessary experience. Often times, your small businesses website was created by you, or at least you hired someone as a freelancer to build you a WordPress or Shopify site. You’ve made some initial headway and cranked out what you’re good at, but your website traffic isn’t converting how you’d like. Spending the money to hire someone is expensive, but the web is overwhelmed with UI/UX and CRO best-practices.
We often turn clients away early on in their businesses’ life-cycle because their budget is often better spent elsewhere at that stage. We often direct them to a string of resources available on usability and conversion rate optimization. I decided to compile a series of tools and suggestions to help optimize your website yourself, or at least point you in the right direction.
List your goals and analyze them – Every website has a series of goals and KPI’s (key performance indicators) in mind, that serves as their purpose for having a website. Whether it’s sales for an ecommerce site (duh), newsletter signups, social shares, or phone call inquiries, every page has a mission. Before looking at your website, write down the goal completions your ideal customer accomplishes in a single visit of your page. Now check out every major page of your site. Are these goals clear to the consumer? Can they be accomplished in one or two clicks? Is the copy guiding them to appropriate calls-to-action (signup buttons, add to cart, etc.). Once you have a roadmap for your website, each goal should be clearly outlined on the page. There may be a laundry list of tools out there, but writing down the base goal of each page will really help you pinpoint what is working (and what’s not).
Google Analytics – For most clients, this will be the source of most website decisions from here on out. This powerful tool tracks user data across your entire site and can tell you which functions are working great, and where users are getting lost. Creating accurate goal funnels will see which steps lose the most customers and guide you to pages that need the most help.
Google’s Page-Speed Insights – When it comes to usability, it’s easy to upset a user before they even get to your site with slow load times. It is pretty much the reason I’ve stopped clicking any links from BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, or Business Insider. The amount of ads, size of your images, and consolidation of your code all affect the time it takes your page to load. It all adds up really quickly and tears apart your user experience. Google has a handy tool to tell you exactly what is bogging down your page. Simply type in the URL and they’ll analyze the desktop and mobile versions of your pages resulting in a final score for each. Each analysis has a breakdown of important issues triaged to help you choose what to fix first.
Website Grader by Hubspot – This is a pretty handy tool to get a rough overview of things you should keep an eye on throughout your site. Though the results are mostly suggestions of what Hubspot employees believe to be the best practices, they often point out features that are commonly overlooked. They breakdown your site into Blogging, Social Media, SEO, Lead Gen, and Mobile. Each of these end up with separate breakdown and checklist of your performance in the category. Like I said, a great tool to point out things you might miss, but take it’s suggestions with a grain of salt.
UserTesting.com – A unique tool that allows you to post tasks about your site as live-users share their experience with you. As great as pre-built scanners are for assessing the code of you website and image sizes, nothing truly beats a real person’s experience on your pages. You’ll get feedback from a wide variety of demographics on how easily they accomplished your tasks. Though the service isn’t free, you’re able to cram a lot of value into each test.
Usability shouldn’t be overwhelming, and though there are a lot of factors that go into ensuring your site is easily navigable and geared for conversions, it shouldn’t take away from growing the heart of your business. With a little time (and a few lines of code), you’ll have access to powerful information about how users perform actions and move about your site.
The Beardbrand Way – An Interview with Eric Bandholz
We’ve been working with Beardbrand for about a year-and-a-half. During that time we’ve witnessed their explosive growth and national media attention as well as a cultural shift in how society views beards. It’s one of the most striking examples of the power of community I’ve seen in business. I sat down with Eric Bandholz to better understand how they engage with their audience, earn their trust, and operate their business—the Beardbrand way.
From the beginning, you’ve had an incredibly strong belief that Beardbrand would be successful. How were you able to stick to your guns, even when people told you it was a crazy idea?
Eric: I don’t know any other perspective but mine as an individual. I figured what I’d gone through was likely experienced by other men out there. I knew I wasn’t alone. I knew there had to be a large community of men out there who wanted to grow a beard or didn’t like shaving.
How can I help make that experience better? It really wasn’t thought of from a business standpoint first. It was thought of from my individual standpoint first, followed by connecting with professionals who want to grow facial hair. I wouldn’t necessarily say I was solving a problem, but rather looking into the root reasons for uniting our audience.
You often mention bearded persecution in the workplace. Was that something that was present in the early days of Beardbrand?
The culture has changed in the past few years (at least from my perspective) to be much more accepting of beards. Do you think that’s the case?
Eric: Yeah. Society is definitely shifting to become more tolerant of facial hair. I’d like to say we’ve had a part in helping with that transition, but we’re definitely not exclusively responsible for that. We have inspired a lot of guys to grow beards, though. I can confirm that. I don’t even know the number of emails and letters I’ve received from guys over the past three years who have been thankful for our words, our help, and our products.
One of the many letters of support Beardbrand has received over the past three years
You understand your audience very well. Does that come naturally or is it something that has improved over time? What’s your secret?
Eric: I think I have a good foundation in that I’m passionate about our products and the industry. We do our homework to make sure that we formulate the best products. From there I think it’s about engaging with our audience.
Eric: For me it comes down to expressing my emotions as they come to me, usually related to some kind of talking point of the day. Like today, I was talking about an article referencing the supposedly high concentration of poop in beards. It was important to come out quickly to say that’s a crock of shit. Our article [rebutting the poop in beards theory] was posted yesterday and has already received 400 shares on Facebook, which is a good response for us. With YouTube, it’s mostly listening to the community and providing what they want to know.
From a tactical standpoint, we’ve brought on an editor. That’s helped with both the day-to-day side of things and our long-term strategy in both the type of content we create and the platforms used for distribution.
How is your communication on Reddit different?
Eric: I don’t use Reddit as a way to drive sales at all. I use Reddit to share cool content that we’ve created and to connect with the community. The moment you use Reddit to drive revenue you’ll find the complete opposite result. It’s about being authentic and sharing your passion.
How do you adapt to the quickly evolving social media landscape?
Eric: The platforms have ebbed and flowed for us over time as we’ve grown. Facebook was really good for us in the beginning. Then it became irrelevant for a long time. But lately it’s picked back up. To me it’s being able to react to the trends, measure results, and adapt quickly to get the most impact from your message.
In the year-and-a-half we’ve been working with you, we’ve received very little pushback to our recommendations (perhaps more than any other client). Is that part of a strategy or are you trustworthy by nature?
Eric: Our company is built on trust as one of our pillars. So, we work with vendors that we trust. There is no point in paying a vendor to do something if we thought we could do a better job in-house. If a vendor says we should do something, then we do it. If we think a recommendation is not appropriate, we’ll take the time to help educate them on why it won’t work for us.
We trust the people we work with. We also know that there’s a lot to be lost in moving slow. So I’d rather occasionally get things wrong and move quickly to fix them than move slowly and miss an opportunity.
You’ve put the brakes on us before when we’ve recommended online conversion tactics we’ve seen work well for other clients. Is that (not being too salesy) an important part of establishing trust with your audience?
Eric: Yeah. I mean, it’s a tough line. Ultimately we are a business and want to use our growth to spread the message and change the way society views urban beardsman.
In your opinion, are there online sales tactics that break that trust?
Eric: From my perspective as an online consumer (and as Beardbrand’s #1 avatar), I don’t like pop-ups when I go to a website. It tells me something. It tells me they’re desperate, lack confidence, and are willing to needle and beg me to make a purchase. I’d rather buy from companies who are confident in their products and don’t need to beg.
That’s the strategy we’ve had from the beginning. It’s tough, though. I want to make sure we’re dong the best, but it’s a long-term play. We plan on being in this business for a very long time. We don’t plan on doing this for a couple of years, make a quick buck, and ride around on yachts all day.
How important is customer service in maintaining that trust?
Eric: That’s really important to us. We know that anyone can go to Amazon.com and get something that’s going to be cheaper than our products. Where they can’t beat us is our ability to educate the audience, help them beyond the product purchase, and really provide a first-rate customer service experience. We’re always working to improve and I think we’re getting better all the time. Everyday we get photos from guys that are growing their beards to let us know about their journey. For us, customer service isn’t just about making sure the product gets there on time. It’s about getting to know our customers better, too.
The Beardbrand team is not interested riding around in yachts all day
Eric: We definitely invest in PR. We work with a firm called Pistol PR that has helped with a lot of those connections. But it also goes back to my personal style of trying to build relationships and never burn bridges.
There are stories like that where, as you get older, and grow your network, opportunities present themselves. Like I said, we invest a lot in PR. Some months you get a lot of articles, some months you don’t. But it’s part of a systematic process for us. It’s another example of a long-term play.
Of course we can’t have a Beardbrand interview without at least one Shark Tank question. Your “Ultimate Shark Tank Guide” on Reddit is, well, the ultimate guide to Shark Tank. Can you summarize why you went through the time-consuming process to appear on the show?
Eric: Shark Tank, for us, wasn’t necessarily a solution to take us to the next level. We were going to get there, with or without Shark Tank. But the risk was that another competitor was going to get on Shark Tank first and get that national exposure and awareness.
We obviously knew it was a great opportunity to share what we were building in front of millions of people as well as gain access to very successful, talented and knowledgeable investors. It was a really good opportunity from that standpoint. But we never wanted to ride on the coattails of Shark Tank and have that be the reason for our success. We wanted it to be one of the things that helped us get there.
Anything you’d like to add in closing?
Eric: I think the thing that I’d like to point out is that this isn’t an easy flash-in-the-pan kind of thing. It’s been very purposeful and meticulous work with a lot of time and resources behind it to get where we are today. It’s absolutely been a journey of labor and of love. I’d also like to say that success comes from simply being a member of your community. Imagine going to a bakery and getting to know your local baker. Think of the special items your local baker will create for you over the years and the feeling that relationship creates. We want to do that on a national level with our customers and our products. That’s our goal: to be part of a community and connect with them as best we can on a personal level.
When I created Bloom Spokane—a grassroots nonprofit organization that empowers pregnant and postpartum women with information, resources, and support—it was 2009 and blogs had starting popping up everywhere. Most blogs at the time were personal endeavors, but I could see they were quickly becoming valuable tools for sharing information online. It wouldn’t be long before businesses and nonprofits jumped on board.
Back then, I didn’t know the first thing about blogging, but that didn’t stop me from diving in. It has been a process of trial and error, learning from mistakes, and being pleasantly surprised at some of our successes along the way. I am lucky to have found a team of co-leaders and volunteers for Bloom Spokane who are passionate about our mission and eagerly embraced blogging. Along with analytics analysis and guidance from my husband, Ed Reese, we have figured out a few things over the years that have contributed to our success.
“Blogging is Harrrrrd!”
When Ed speaks at search conferences with his friends from LocalU, he often uses Bloom Spokane’s website analytics to show how our blogging has progressed over time. As he likes to say, “Blogging is harrrrrd!”
Consistently publishing original, relevant, and desired content is demanding work. It is often fun, but it is still work. We have seen our greatest gains in traffic and conversions during the phases when we’ve had a strategic plan, a publishing schedule, and a solid blogging team in place.
Have a Plan
I didn’t have a plan when I started blogging, but in less than a year I’d learned enough to begin putting one together.
Goals: Why are you blogging? Most bloggers have 1 of 3 aims: generating revenue, building a following, or hobby writing. Ours was building a following.
Audience: Who is your target audience? What problems are you solving for them?
Topics: What will you post about?
Schedule: How often will you post?
Call to Action: What action do you want readers to take? Make it desirable and easy for them to take those actions on your blog.
Competition: Who is your competition? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What niche can you fill that isn’t being touched, or done well, by anyone else?
Success Metrics: Define the outcomes that will be used to measure success.
Have a Blogging Team
Business blogging is usually too much to take on by yourself, unless you plan to make it your full-time job (which I didn’t!). Additionally, the diverse talents of a dedicated team can take your blog to the next level.
Blog Manager: The person who will oversee all aspects of the blog, keep the team accountable, and ensure that you’re meeting your goals.
Copy editor: The person who will review every post before publishing to ensure standards of grammar, voice, clarity, and consistency are met.
Writers: The team of people who will regularly create content for the blog. Having a variety of people allows for different points of view and areas of expertise to be explored on the blog.
Guest Writers: Reach out beyond your own team to other industry experts. Ask them to contribute an article and let them know how they will benefit from appearing on your blog.
Write About Controversial Issues… Like Circumcision
Looking at our analytics data, we can see that a few of Bloom’s most popular posts are on the topic of infant circumcision. Whether or not to circumcise a newborn son is a question lots of new parents struggle with and they’re using the internet to gather information and form opinions on the subject. Our 10 most popular blog posts of all-time are listed below (nearly half are controversial in nature). Do you know your best performing blog posts?
The most viewed posts on the Bloom Blog.
In Don’t Run From That Controversial Blog Post, blogger Julie Neidlinger says, “Controversial is not the same as confrontational. Blog posts that are controversial are not unnecessarily argumentative or insulting. Instead, they talk about topics that need to be discussed, but without attacking people. They challenge accepted conclusions and ideas, the reader’s strongly held opinions, or confront something people are generally not willing to talk about.”
Done well, posts about controversial topics benefit readers by allowing them to explore new ideas and challenge status quo thinking. And, of course, these posts benefit your blog by attracting large numbers of visitors and increasing your brand awareness.
Build Relationships to Promote Your Blog
Social Media is a great platform for pushing content out into the world. Particularly with a new blog, you will find it helpful to have seasoned industry allies promoting your posts. They have the followers and can help get more traffic to your content.
Bloom’s post, Birth Advice From Labor & Delivery Nurses, went viral in February 2011 when big names in the birth world started posting about the article on Facebook. Most notably, Jill Arnold of The Unnecessarean, with over 27,000 followers, brought national attention to our blog when this article was given an enthusiastic mention on her Facebook page.
How did The Unnecessarean even know about little ol’ Bloom Spokane? We’d been sharing Jill’s amazing work on Social Media and giving the site link love for a couple of years. I had also been actively commenting on her Facebook page and blog, so my name was likely familiar to her. When we knew we had a great article on our hands, we sent it to her and asked if she would consider sharing it on her page. She did!
Don’t Publish Content You Don’t Own or Have Permission to Use
Despite our best efforts to use only content and images we create or have the rights to use, one of our posts published in 2012 contained a stock image we had neglected to purchase a license for. Whoops!
Just last week, we received an email from the company that owns the image letting us know about the violation and demanding a $119 settlement. We paid the fine and are using this mistake as a reminder to remain vigilant about copyright infringement. Hopefully, you too can learn from us and not make this mistake on your own blog.
Always Be Learning
As with anything in life you want to do well, you will benefit from ongoing education and improvement of your skills. Blogging is no different.
Become a regular reader of other blogs, especially those in your industry.
Ask other writers to review your work and offer construstive criticism.
Sign up for classes that will help you become a better creative thinker, writer, photographer, search engine optimizer, or designer. There are so many online resources for improving your skills, like Skillshare and Udemy.
Use the Right Tools
In addition to finding the right blogging platform for your needs (we love WordPress), there are a few other tools that we’ve found useful.
Google Analytics is a free tool that provides data and insights about user behavior and traffic on your blog. This is a must if you’re measuring the progress of your blogging efforts to meet business ojectives.
Google Alerts is another free tool that keeps you informed of web activity concerning keywords that you select. This is super helpful in managing your online reputation and staying involved in conversations that concern you, your blog, and even your competitors.
Askimet is a service that analyzes the comments on your blog, determining which of those are spam, and saving you the headache of having to deal with them. It is free for non-commercial and personal blogs. Commercial site fees start at $5/month.
Linkstant notifies you via email every time someone links to your blog. Knowing about these links allows you to keep track of them and participate in the conversation on other sites/blogs, thus potentially driving more traffic to yours.
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I wanted to let you know about Artemano, our favorite new client from Montreal. OK, they’re currently our only client from Montreal. Not only are they a great client to work with but their furniture is amazing! They produce unbelievably cool furniture from recycled materials including like this office desk below made from an old fishing boat.
They’ve been growing rapidly over the past few years and are working with Sixth Man Marketing to better understand their analytics to be able to make the best possible decisions based on their website data. We’re helping them measure the performance of their website, track campaigns, and produce actionable reports for their executive management team. This has a large custom training element. It’s essentially a private version of our analytics for marketers class focused on their specific analytics training needs. We’re working with their Chief Marketing Officer to provide training for him as well as their internal team (and future team members). It’s been great to work with them on this project! They’ve taken every lesson and applied it directly to their business after each training session to make immediate improvements to their landing pages, campaigns, and overall online business. I have every confidence based on our interaction with them that their growth will dramatically increase across North America in the coming years. Artemano is selling online in both Canada and the United States. You should check them out! I might need to get this two drawer TV unit to match the desk :)
Mobile has mattered to online marketing folks like us for quite a while. But to be honest, it’s been tough to create a sense of urgency from business owners and executives to do a lot about their poor user experience on mobile devices. Really tough. But all that changes tomorrow (at least from an awareness standpoint) with Google’s algorithm update for mobile. This “mobilegeddon” has received plenty of mentions, including one from NBC Newsearlier this morning. But this post isn’t about the algorithm. It’s a quick message to business owners and executives to show the rapid growth of mobile and provide some help. The sky isn’t falling. But it’s a nudge from Google to provide a better mobile-friendly experience (as they define it).
Bonus: Here are two mobile dashboards you can import into your GA dashboard gallery to easily see the impact of your mobile traffic
Here’s why mobile is such a big deal. Mobile now represents almost half of all traffic for many consumer-facing businesses and is becoming increasingly important for B2B’s as well. Here are a few client examples that show the massive increase in mobile traffic. Though these are only a handful of examples, these traffic increases are pretty consistent consistent among consumer facing websites. While mobile traffic has been rapidly increasing the several years now it really ramped up during the 2nd half of last year. Take some time to better understand your mobile traffic!
Travel / Destination
Import Our Mobile Dashboards
Take a little bit of time to get to know the impact of mobile traffic to your business. Understand the mobile behavior of visitors to your website. Find out how much of an impact tomorrow’s mobile algorithm update from Google is going to have on your business. Here are two mobile dashboards you can import right now (just click the links below to import into your Google Analytics Dashboard Gallery). The first dashboard is a new all-purpose mobile dashboard and the second is a very simple mobile dashboard to assess the impact of tomorrow’s mobile update from Google.
How long has it been since your website was built? You might have built it yourself a decade ago or maybe you hired an agency to re-build it in the last 3-5 years. We hear from a lot of clients who say they “feel” that it’s time to re-launch, re-fresh, or just plain re-do their website. At Sixth Man, we try to take “feelings” out of the equation (though we definitely empathize). We advise our clients to focus on what their website needs to accomplish. Once you’ve established the goals and KPI’s (key performance indicators) there are tried and true techniques to discover how your website can best support those goals. We’ve outline four ways to identify what to update and why.
Here are four ways to prevent headaches, upset customers, and most importantly, sales.
Analytics – What is happening on your current site? Where are users getting stuck? Are goals getting accomplished? These are all questions easily answered by diving into the analytics of your current website. By setting up custom segments and dashboards, you’re able to see the user-behavior of specific visitor groups. What pages are users viewing most before making a purchase? What is convincing them to sign up for your newsletter? Understanding your users is good first-step to analyzing your current site and determine what is working and what isn’t. Installing Google Analytics is fairly painless for basic use and adding additional resources like CrazyEgg and KISSmetrics will provide deeper insight to how your website is being used by your target audience.
User Testing – The amount of people who skip out on this process when building (or re-launching) a website blows my mind. How do users navigate your site? Can they find what they’re looking for easily? User testing addresses these questions directly. Whether it involves extensive live-testing or even just having a few buddies poke around on your dev build to find where people are getting lost will help immensely. BONUS POINTS: Have a prototype built to quickly test your designs without doing any coding! Programs like InVision and Axuregreat for gaining awesome insight and both include mobile versions as well. Handing your developer a prototype to work from is also going to save you a lot of time and money.
Research – If you’re feeling the need to update your website, chances are that a business similar to yours already has. What have others done in your industry? Dig around and pay close attention to page elements, their website placement, and how they likely affect conversions. Don’t be limited to any particular site (and don’t be afraid to look outside of your industry as well) as most competitive companies are actively A/B testing their own websites to improve conversion rates. A great example is the adoption of One-Click shopping across a variety of brands such as Amazon, Dominoes, and Walmart as they try to eliminate cart-abandonment issues. A powerful method of checking into other website’s changes over time is using the Wayback Machine which provides snapshots of former versions of websites.
Ask Your Customers – Adding a survey tool to your site will give your users the opportunity to provide feedback about why they arrived on certain pages, if it was helpful, or what they felt was missing. Take user feedback and criticism with high-regard, as they’re the ones who will be using it (hopefully) regularly. Qualaroo is a great tool to accomplish this with a clean UI that won’t upset your customers with obnoxious pop-ups.
Rebuilding a website is a true test of understanding your customers needs. Do you know what they really want from your website? How can you best provide it that experience for them? Answering these questions before you take the leap will save you a heap of time and cash.
This February I spoke at LocalUpwith my friends from LocalU and the good folks over at Moz. During my visit, we filmed a Whiteboard Friday session where I talked about My Favorite 5 Analytics Dashboards. It was great talking dashboards with people via the comments section of their blog post, talking with friends of mine in the industry, and going over questions people had via email.
But what I didn’t realize was the need to help people get started on their first dashboards. We spent a few sessions going through the specifics of creating dashboards in our Google Analytics for Marketers Class last month. I thought it would be a good idea to share some of the insights from our class to help you get started.
1) Determine the Data Important to Measure
Our class contained marketers from a variety of roles. Your dashboards should contain the data that’s important to you in your role. Our class had quite varied dashboard preferences. About half of the class leaned very heavy on the campaign dashboard side of things, a few preferred a social media slant, while the remainder preferred more executive style dashboards.
2) Understand Google Dashboard Widgets
Dashboards are made of widgets. These widgets help visualize data in different ways in your dashboard. It’s important to think about both the data you want on your dashboard and the best way it should be presented. Here’s a great post from Daniel Waisberg that explains the differences and uses of each widget in the Google Analytics Dashboard.
Yes, you actually have to take a look at your dashboards for them to work. Look for trends, discover problems that need to be fixed, get an idea for a new campaign, stop a campaign that isn’t performing, expand your market, and discover countless insights that can help your business.
I love this Google Analytics in Real-Life video. Unfortunately, it’s funny because we can relate to it all too well. Use dashboards to learn how to sell that loaf of bread!
Are You Making the Most of Your Online Marketing Efforts?
Many businesses struggle with comprehensively planning, executing, and continuously improving their online marketing. Your brand has to be highly visible and provide a superb customer experience to beat the competition. This takes time, is downright hard and can be pretty overwhelming!
How do you know if you’re making the most of your online marketing opportunities? Here are 5 steps to help you get there.
Have a clearly defined online marketing plan
Get executive buy-in and budget
Measure ad campaign effectiveness
Test and optimize your digital destinations
Have a Clearly Defined Online Marketing Plan
Many of our clients initially come to us without a clear plan for improving their online marketing efforts. They are not alone. In 2014, a SmartInsights poll found that “nearly 50% of marketers don’t have a defined digital marketing plan.”
Without a solid online marketing strategy, many businesses suffer these common issues:
No clear vision of what they’re trying to achieve
Not understanding their customers
Insufficient resources allocated to online marketing
Wasting money on things that aren’t working
Failing to achieve their business goals while watching competitors succeed
So, what can you do to get started on a comprehensive strategy if you don’t have one?
SmartInsights provides a very helpful tool for creating online marketing plans. Their Digital Marketing Strategy Planning Template (free basic membership required) will guide you through the process of creating “actionable plans that improve commercial results using integrated digital communications based on marketplace insight and analytics.”
Are you measuring the effectiveness of your online marketing efforts? Many businesses have installed Google Analytics on their websites, but don’t know how to learn from the data and get actionable information. Note: if you’re using the default Analytics dashboard, you have not fully embraced data.
In order to become a data-driven organization, you must methodically analyze your website data and measure the results of your actions (campaigns, SEO efforts, website changes, etc.). This is an ongoing process that should yield continuous improvements in both your digital drivers and destinations.
How can you get a jumpstart in learning to be a data analyst?
If you live in the Spokane area, you can sign up for our Analytics for Mareketers Six Week Course that begins on April 29, 2015. We’ll walk you through the basics of how to use Google Analytics and then teach you the in-the-trenches specifics of how to use it for your current job, business, or the career you’d like to have in the future.
In order to start and sustain a successful, long-term online marketing program for your business, it is critical to have buy-in from top-level executives. If you don’t have this support, your efforts are at risk of not getting enough funding and can easily be derailed by internal politics.
To get executives on board, you’ll need convincing data on how digital marketing can benefit your business and a well-researched strategic plan. This proposal, often referred to as a “Case for Change,” should include:
A review of your business’ current online marketing efforts
We have assisted many our clients, at various stages in their online marketing program development, in getting executive buy-in. The resulting allocation of budget, resources, and staff have positively impacted the effects online marketing has on their businesses. Read about how we helped Avista Utilities create a Case for Change.
Measure Ad Campaign Effectiveness
Tracking campaigns will help you figure out what’s not working, how to cut the fat, and the best ways to reinvest that money in campaigns that are working to meet your goals.
There are multiple components to every online campaign, each of which can be tested and optimized.
Your ad content (visuals and text)
Ad placement & targeting
Your landing pages
The tricky part is identifying the goals, objectives, key performance indicators, and parameters for success by which you will measure your campaigns.
In his article, Digital Marketing and Measurement Model, Avinash Kaushik says, “The root cause of failure in most digital marketing campaigns is not the lack of creativity in the banner ad or TV spot or the sexiness of the website. It is not even (often) the people involved. It is quite simply the lack of structured thinking about what the real purpose of the campaign is and a lack of an objective set of measures with which to identify success or failure.”
Now that you’ve created killer ad campaigns and other drivers (email, SEO efforts, PR, etc.), it’s time to close the deal by sending people to destinations that provide seamless and compelling experiences.
Digital destinations are the places you’re sending people from your drivers. These destinations can include:
Ultimately, these destinations should convince your audience to take an action, such as: make a purchase, download content, or opt in to email. These actions should support the business outcomes you have set as goals.
Test! Test! Test!
At all times, you should be continuously testing your destinations to understand how users are interacting with them and how their behavior impacts conversion rates. You cannot afford to rely on gut instinct and personal opinion—even if the opinion hails from the CEO. KISSmetrics says, “These influential people sometimes are referred to as HiPPOs (highest paid person’s opinion); and, in many instances, they believe they know what is best for their website. Therefore, they don’t feel the need for (or understand the benefits of) running website tests.”
But when you are able to prove that something works or doesn’t work, by reporting on analytics data gathered through testing, it’s difficult for a HiPPO to say, “I want to stop that campaign because I’m sick of it,… Because I can now see that the campaign (that I hate) is performing 30% better than the one I like.”
What to Test
There is no one-size-fits-all answer for testing. To start, your business has unique challenges and issues that need to be identified. Use your analytics data to learn where the issues are (landing pages, product pages, checkout, etc) and then run tests to figure out exactly what is causing problems for users. All testing should be done in search of an answer to a specific question.
There are a variety of tests and survey tools that you can use:
A/B Testing & Multivariate Testing compares alternate design elements and content to see which performs best. We loveOptimizely and use it for our clients!
User Testing will help you learn how people use your site/app and what’s actually causing problems for your users. We conduct remote and in-person user testing in our Spokane office. We also occasionally use UserTesting.com for quick remote tests.
Survey Tools allow you to understand what your customers want and what’s preventing them from achieving it. Qualaroo is a robust survey tool that can be integrated into your website.
“It’s much easier to double your business by doubling your conversion rate than by doubling your traffic.”
I realize this is a lot to take in. But we hear a lot of the same questions from clients and wanted to create a foundation to you get started down the path. Hopefully this provides a good starting point for improving your online marketing efforts in 2015!
The past week, I had the joy of spending the week in Seattle to experience not only my first MozCon, but my first marketing conference. Having spent the majority of my workforce life in hospitality, most conferences were sponsored by food and beverage vendors and were dedicated to eating and drinking the latest and greatest while wandering booths pretending that you hadn’t already tried the meatballs, similar to Costco’s sample day.
Moz went above and beyond anything I could have expected.
There are so many things to mention about the conference, but I’ll recap the top five that really stood out to me.
5. Mike King – API Killah.
This guy blew the crowd away entirely. If you were following the Twitter feed for #mozcon you would have witnessed a plethora of “I’m officially freaked out.”, “Mike King just blew my mind”, and “WTF?” tweets. He kicked things off by describing a user’s unique fingerprint they leave on each website which was interesting in itself. He then threw us down the rabbit hole of linking APIs to take that fingerprint to find out EXACTLY who each user was, their demographic, their location, their habits, etc. It was insane. Unfortunately, he didn’t also blow us away with his rap skills this year, but I’m told they’re pretty epic. You can download his slide deck from the conference here and follow him on Twitter under the handle @iPullRank.
4. Mike Ramsey – Small Town Man, Doing Big Things I had the awesome opportunity to meet Mike Ramsey before his presentation and watch him and Ed Reese clean the shuffleboard house at the Unbounce MozCrawl afterparty. The following day he gave his local search presentation and was nothing short of incredible. He creatively and seamlessly incorporated his hometown of Burley, Idaho into every aspect of his slide deck and polished it with gorgeous photography, strategic humor and even pictures of his kids (who may kick you in the face). His firm, Nifty Marketing, focuses on “making local search sexy” and they do a damn good job. Check out his slide deck here and follow the genuinely nice guy on Twitter at @MikeRamsey. He also loves Weezer. Just saying.
3. Test Driving A Starship I have the pleasure of living a short drive (read: long, but worth it) away from Seattle, but it is usually the best idea to cram as many things into the trip as possible. We decided to take a quick break from the conference to walk over to a little car company named Tesla to take one out for a spin. We fully warned our co-pilot that we weren’t planning on buying one for a while and she reassured us that no one is, because you simply can’t; they’re booked out on production for the next year and a half. That being said, we hopped in, played with every option on the 17″ display and took off into the streets of Seattle. With 100% of the torque going straight to the wheels, my face hurt afterwards from smiling too much.
Note: I did not get paid for this shameless plug.
2. MozCon’s Partner Hub
Moz did a great job in picking several partners for the event who hung out outside and gave demos and information on their products. I had the opportunity to meet a lot of fun people and learn more about some of the partners that we use, or are definitely using in the future. Never once did I feel pressured to purchase anything, they simply wanted to share what they were up to and get to know their potential clients. Had great conversations and a fantastic time hanging out with Paul from Buzzstream, Oli and the Unbounce team, and Taylor from Optimizely! Look forward to seeing all of them at future events!
1. Content I’m not sure the best way to really title this concept that was generated throughout the conference but it is a breath of fresh air. Sure, we can’t game Google search like we used to be able to, but they’re forcing to provide something the internet truly needs: Good Content. We can hate on Google and their 1000s of employed PhDs who tweak and twist their algorithm without anyone knowing the better, skewing our client’s search rankings we’ve pushed so hard to produce. We can get mad every time they name an update after an animal we will soon despise when we see at the zoo, but they’re pushing us to make a better internet. Nearly every presentation held an underlying tone that we can be as technical as we want, but in the end, just make your site better, publish something people will share, write articles readers will love and want to come back to read again. Stop worrying about the little wins and focus on the big picture. The saying I have been throwing around the office lately can sum up the greatest idea from MozCon, “Do the thing”. Time after time, we get caught in the weeds focusing on unimportant projects, or financials, or who knows what, the problem is that we ignore the main idea. #DoTheThing
0. MOZ So I am probably breaking some sort of countdown rule by going all the way to zero, but I owe the biggest shout out to Moz for putting on a seamless conference. The production value was outstanding with incredible and entertaining videos, great music, food, shirts, and even stuffed Roger dolls. We’ll be back next year, Moz. See you all then.