Google Analytics

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.

  1. 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).
  2. Google AnalyticsGoogle 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.
  3. 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. 2015-05-19_1101Google 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.
  4. Untitled-2Website 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.
  5. 2015-05-19_1114UserTesting.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.

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 News earlier 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

Mobile Dashboard
Google-Focused Mobile Dashboard

Why Mobile Matters

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!

Ecommerce
beardbrand1

Travel / Destination
Mobile Blastoff

Hospitality
Silverton-Mobile

Retail
Retail

Medical
medical

B2B
B2B

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.

Mobile Dashboard
Google-Focused Mobile Dashboard

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 Axure great 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.

SWBlogpost

This past weekend Sixth Man Marketing was proud to host Spokane’s Start-up Weekend Bootcamp. This in-the-trenches preparation for Start-up Weekend Spokane brought a passionate and inspirational group looking to flesh-out their business ideas before the upcoming Startup Weekend competition.

Startup Weekend is a national event hosted in cities throughout the year that encourages entrepreneurship and innovation jam-packed into one long weekend. In a mere 54 hours, teams are formed to take ideas as far as possible to be judged and critiqued by a panel of business owners and successful entrepreneurs. Startup Weekend has spawned collaborations that have gone on to form local companies that have raised capital, produced products, and launched companies.  A few recent successes from Startup Weekend Spokane are Beardbrand,  iCpooch, Barters Closet and SavorX. We can’t wait to see what this year’s event produces!

Dan Gayle kicks off the Startup Weekend Bootcamp session

Past winner Dan Gayle kicks off Startup Weekend: Bootcamp with Conner Simpson and two other entrepreneurs

So what is Startup Weekend: Bootcamp? It’s a three-hour training session that provides an experienced peer group to help fine-tune pitches and provide valuable critiques and coaching for participants of the event. Everything was covered; from the 60-second initial pitch that kicks off the weekend to the final 5-minute presentation that seals your fate with the judges. Delicious food and drink was provided by the Stork Market Cafe to lighten the mood and get the ideas flowing.

pitching_250“The attendees will have a huge advantage over their competition at Startup Weekend because they now understand the format and have the insiders tricks and tips provided by previous winners.”  – Dan Gayle, Spokesman Tech Deck

Mock companies were created to get participants thinking about the importance of key elements like finding team members and how to work efficiently at the event. Connor Simpson, another organizer of the event and previous winner from Barters Closet, added, “We had a great time preparing for Startup Weekend by honing our 60 second elevator pitches”, a key part in surviving Startup Weekend.

For more details on Startup Weekend Spokane, check out the site here or click the image below.

SWS_600

A few months ago, Sixth Man moved into our wonderful, open-layout office space in the ILF Media building at 542 W. Cataldo, just East of the Spokane Arena. It needed some work, but toward the end of August, we were finally ready to start making it our own. I had many conversations with my boss, Ed, about the long-term goals for the office. Though I’m “officially” our lead writer / copy editor, I quickly learned that an employee at a very small business has more slashes than an actor that just moved to Hollywood. My business cards don’t say / gardener / contractor / painter / Home Depot courier / Get It Done Girl, but I might update my LinkedIn profile to reflect my new-found experience.

I think that plants make an office look happier, and we have these gorgeous bay windows, so I suggested that we should get some plants. That conversation went like this:

Anna: “What a gorgeous window. It needs some plants.”

Ed: “Okay. Here’s my credit card.”

Anna: “Okay.”

He handed me his credit card. I went to Home Depot and bought some plants and pots and potting soil, then I brought them back. Ed decreed that they were, “Awesome!” Well that was easy enough. Now it was time for something a bit more difficult: paint selection.

We weren’t really sure if we liked the color of the walls, but we knew we needed to work with the desks, which are these cool built-in metal structures with white panels on wheels. So we needed to decide how we were going to work with the metal and the wood, also considering our logo colors of orange, brown and white.

View of the office from the entrance

 

A few times, my conversations with Ed, went like this:

Ed: “Anna, I don’t like the walls.”

Anna: “Okay, what don’t you like about them?”

Ed: “No idea. They just don’t work.”

Anna: “What do you think would help?”

Ed: “Not a clue, a different color maybe? Just test something out and we’ll see how it goes.”

Anna: “Uh… Okay.”

With this “direction,” I went back to Home Depot and bought paint, and painting tools.  I painted some samples. Ed liked the samples, so I painted a wall.

Ed liked the color of the first wall, so I painted a second.  We had conversations about color, and air, and space. We talked about intentionally creating a space that would be bright, and open, and a great place to work.

Eventually, Ed decided that it was a good start, but that the project should be given to a licensed contractor. He painted much faster than I did, while standing on a 12 foot ladder, without a tarp, listening to classic rock. Ed summarily declared that, “since the Stone Ages, the painter has listened to classic rock. Get it? The guy who paints, rocks however they want!”

We also talked with Mountain Dog Sign Company about hanging our shingle on the door and making a sign, so that people would know where we are. They did a great job.

Ed showing off the awesome door

But here’s the thing: for me, putting the paint on the walls gave me time and space to reflect on my place in this business, to put in a little sweat equity, and to feel like I belonged to something. The conversations about the color of the walls gave me an opportunity to shape the place where I work – which made me feel valued and cared about. Pulling up my sleeves and getting my hands dirty added a level of ownership that wasn’t previously there. The wall is something I will see everyday, and I can look at it and say, “I painted that.”

When I was painting the walls of our sweet new office here, I had this revelation: “I’m a part of this.”

As far as revelations go, it didn’t move mountains, or have the patch of sunlight through the clouds feel – it was more of a feeling of belonging, and knowing that I would, in fact, do what it takes to help this business succeed.

Even if it means painting the walls.

A lot of people work in places where they have no say about the color of the walls, or even how much sunlight they get (if they are lucky enough to have a window). I feel fortunate to work in an environment where the office has been viewed as our personal work space canvas. I’ve been part of most of the choices (and many changes) along the way, and it’s been very surprising to me how something as simple as paint choices has left me feeling / fulfilled at work.

What is one thing that you could change about your office space that would make the most difference for you?

P.S. We have an adorable office dog, Camille. She’s a killer.

Please feel free to swing on by and say hello!

Office Mascot, Camille

Catalyst Magazine’s May issue features a discussion highlighting the latest in business trends. It includes an interview with me and our friends Chris Reilly from Unleashed Online Marketing and Frank Swoboda from Corner Booth Media. The article does a really nice job highlighting some of the most recent trends business owners should be aware of when it marketing their business.

Click here to read the article.

It gotta say, I really enjoyed getting back to blogging for the first time in nearly a year. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy it.  I was also quickly reminded of how eagerly I await comments, so thanks for chiming in. I really appreciate your comments, support, and motivation to keep this whole blogging thing going. That said, here are my five observations from week one.

1) It strengthened my online community

I think the most powerful thing I discovered this week was the effectiveness of blogging for connecting or re-connecting with people. I received several blog comments and emails from industry peers and friends welcoming me back to blogging and providing encouragement. This extension of my community makes the world feel just a little bit smaller and reminded me of how cool it was posting to online forums and user groups back in the day. For example, I’ve never met Toronto SEO Dev Basu in person (Although I think we might’ve met at SMX Local in San Francisco – 2008). But I’ve respected his work for a long time and blogging is a great way to keep in touch with industry professionals like Dev and grow your network. I can only imagine how effective regular blogging + conference attendance is to growth in the industry. In fact, it was at SEOmoz Advanced 2009 that (after a little tequila if memory serves correct) I suggested Spokane as the first stop for Get Listed University. I always look forward to great conferences like SMX Advanced, Mozcon, & Searchfest to learn from the best in the industry, connect with my online marketing peeps, and have a great time. Regular blogging will likely help me grow my network so I can see more familiar faces in the crowd. Maybe I’ll even meet Dev at my next conference.

2) My website traffic jumped

There’s a pretty huge caveat here. I have very low traffic. It just hasn’t been a goal of mine. And with my infrequent blogging, let’s just say I haven’t exactly grown a large following. While I don’t put much merit in overall traffic increases, I am pleased with the increase in referral traffic and brand search traffic driven by my recent post. While it hasn’t translated into business this past week, I believe that putting out good content on a regular basis will put me in the right position to earn new business. I had a comment from Matt McGee that sums up this thought very well:

And if this increase in referral traffic (shown in my Google Analytics data below) continues it will likely lead to good things down the road, just like Matt says.

When you examine the referral traffic in detail you can see that this traffic comes from my business network in Spokane (Facebook & Twitter), industry peers (Twitter), my Get Listed University faculty friends, and my Mom.

3) It drove searches for my brand

And while my brand search traffic is low, there is certainly a nice increase compared to the previous week (as seen below). This is probably the biggest take-away for small businesses in my opinion. By providing good content to your audience they’ll be looking for more content from you. And in time, you’ll have the possibility of earning their long-term business.

4) Search isn’t always the big dog

My blogging failure post started ranking quickly for, guess what,… blogging failure.

Within two days it was ranking 2rd on Google for “blogging failure” (4th on Bing/Yahoo). And for a second I was lured into thinking this would be good for business. It won’t (for a variety of reasons). My point is that people tend to place too much emphasis on rankings (myself included at times) and not the bigger picture. For example, here’s a success story I was touting at Get Listed Spokane last February.  My wife’s nonprofit Bloom Spokane has ranked 5th for “birth advice” and 1st for “hospital birth advicesince her blog post was published in February. What has it gotten her? Fame? Fortune? Free t-shirt? Nope. Just thirty four visitors via organic search traffic.

Don’t get me wrong. I love long-tail organic search traffic. It can be really important to a business. But it’s important to see the bigger picture. Three months of searches for all things “birth advice” does not represent a game changer to her nonprofit.

But the 122% increase in overall traffic since her blog post went viral makes a difference. That’s 5,772 more visitors than the previous period. More importantly, those 5,772 visits represent social media influencers, industry experts, potential speaking opportunities, and increased national exposure.

5) There’s Always Some Risk

There’s always some risk when you put your neck out there. You could offend your audience, not research a topic thoroughly enough, or inadvertently drive Twitter traffic to the wrong Ed Reese.

Sorry other Ed Reese. I’ll do my best to keep my business major, marketing frat boy douchebag friends at bay. We’ve got some kegstands to do, anyway.

I was proud to participate in David Mihm’s Local Search Ranking Factors project this year. It has quickly become one of the most anticipated articles in the Local Search industry each year.

David asked 27 Local Search experts to rate the importance of 49 criteria with respect to their influence on rankings in the Google and Yahoo Local “Universal” search algorithms. These are the factors that trigger a local map result from perceived local search queries. Since early 2008 all the major search engines now display a map for locally-focused keywords.

Gain insight into local search drivers and understand how your business can get found in Maps and increase online exposure.

This year one of my brackets was with a group of basketball-lovin’ search engine marketers. While I was pretty optimistic after the first weekend, my bracket melted pretty quickly. Taylor Pratt’s did not, however. Taylor is the Principal at Awesome SEO based in Austin, TX. Congratulations to Taylor for rockin’ his bracket and winning for the second straight year. Here’s a full list of the competition from Yahoo Sports. How did I do? Well, let’s just say I won’t be drafted for my bracketology insight anytime soon. I always seem to take Gonzaga a few picks too far. Oh well, one of these years it’ll happen.

Ed Reese

Company Info


Sixth Man Marketing is a data-driven online marketing firm in beautiful Spokane, Washington. We test landing pages, campaigns, and assumptions.

Our marketing company is not afraid to prove our clients or ourselves wrong in the pursuit of better results. We do this by performing usability research, testing, and detailed measurement to gain insight into how to increase revenue.

Our Services


  • Analytics
  • Conversion Rate Optimization
  • Website Audits
  • A/B & Multivariate Testing
  • Usability Research
  • User Testing
  • Prototype Creation
  • Campaign Analysis
  • Search Strategy & Recommendations

Meet the Team

Ed Reese

Ed Reese

Founder

Ed has been helping companies improve their online marketing efforts for the past ten years. His experience includes advising major brands, agencies, universities, ecommerce companies, and nonprofits. He’s a Faculty Member at LocalU, an Adjunct Professor of Digital Marketing at Gonzaga University and speaks nationally on analytics and online marketing.

Tine Reese

Tine Reese

Co-Founder, Usability & Testing

“Usability is not a luxury—it’s a requirement!” Tine is passionate about thoughtfully integrating good design, clear communication, and user expectations in all facets of the online experience. She has a wicked sixth sense for what motivates people to take action on the web and a measurable track record to prove it.

Darin Herleikson

Darin Herleikson

Director of Client Services

Darin oversees all client work at Sixth Man Marketing. He has successfully bridged his experience providing detailed A/B testing and analytics reporting for our clients with his prior management and client services experience. The result is technical expertise, attention to detail, and a responsive work ethic our clients have grown to value greatly.

Audrey Kaplan

Audrey Kaplan

Usability

Audrey has 10 years of usability experience conducting usability research for the e-commerce group at Oracle and then leading usability teams at Google. Oh, she also has as a Ph.D in Cognitive Psychology. You could say she has a pretty good idea of why people do what they do when it comes to website behavior and actions.

Ash Boodel

Ash Boodel

Programming

Ash is a technical troubleshooter. You can throw him into a tangled web of incoherent, mangled code and five minutes later he’ll emerge with the answer. His experience and expertise in programming advanced database and backend solutions is invaluable when it comes to identifying and diagnosing website issues.

Mary Bowling

Mary Bowling

Search Strategy & Research

Mary has a wealth of experience when it comes to search. She has been helping optimize client websites for over a decade in a wide variety of industries. She is also a Faculty Member of LocalU, Co-Founder of Ignitor Digital and speaks nationally on search engine optimization.

Camille

Camille

Security / Hospitality / Chewing

Camille has been a valued member of the Sixth Man Marketing team since August of 2013. Her expertise includes security, hospitality, and paper chewing. Camille has proven to be a much loved member of the team and enjoys coming to work everyday.