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What Should I Track in Google Analytics?

“What should I track in Google Analytics?” That’s a common question when I help new clients with their Google Analytics accounts. And my reply – which I’m sure is frustrating – is “That depends”. The amount of data available is overwhelming and I encourage people to not track every single number.  Instead I suggest a few metrics that are important for all website owners while also reminding people that they are only numbers. It’s up to us as marketers to decide what to do with those numbers.

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Are Smart Goals and Smart Lists in Google AdWords Really Smart?

Google offers Smart Goals and Smart Lists that can be helpful for advertisers that are new to AdWords. Both are described below along with how they might be helpful. However, they are not recommended for advertisers who are experienced and have conversions set up on their website since advertisers do not have control over these two metrics.

Smart Goals

Smart Goals are admittedly a fuzzy metric in Google Analytics.  According to Google , they measure smart goals by applying “machine learning across thousands of websites that use Google Analytics and have opted in to share anonymized conversion data.  From this information, we can distill dozens of key factors that correlate with likelihood to convert: things like session duration, pages per session, location, device and browser.  We can then apply these key factors to any website. The easiest way to think about Smart Goals is that they reflect your website visits that our model indicates are most likely to lead to conversions.

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6 Ways to Capitalize on Social Media Sales

6 Ways to Captilaize on Social Media SalesSocial media, with its ability to instantly connect you with hundreds, thousands, even millions of people, is a ready-made marketplace. But with so many businesses selling their products on social media, how do you stand out and get recognized? Here are 6 essential steps to take when you’re selling via social media.

1. Find the right channels

There are a lot of different social networks out there, and they can each be used in a different way to help grab attention and drive more traffic to your store. Facebook and Twitter are obviously huge networks, but Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn can all help you spread awareness of your brand, attract more people to your store, and even sell products directly. Since each network has a different audience, you’ll have to do some research to determine which ones are best for your company.

There are plenty of tools to help make the process of selling on social media easier. Facebook Marketplace is a great way to find buyers in your immediate geographic location. This can be fantastic for people who sell homemade goods, such as baked items or crafts, since it targets buyers who live in your immediate vicinity. For businesses that already have an online store, Shopial is a site that connects your store with Facebook or Pinterest, and lets you advertise on those platforms. It’s perfect for people who are too busy to tailor their shops for each social media platform: Shopial will do those for you.

Action Step: Do a twenty-minute research session and figure out which social media channels are most compatible with your brand and product. Make a list of the top three and focus your attention on those.

2) Build your network

Half the struggle of succeeding at social media sales is finding the people who will want to buy what you have to offer. Rather than waiting for customers to come to you, you have to get out there, find where they spend their time, and catch their attention there. Then you have to engage with them and build a relationship. If those people have a good experience with your brand, or like the product you sell them, they’ll likely recommend you to their friends, and studies show that these days people are much more likely to buy something online when it was recommended by someone they know.

Part of building your network is making sure that anytime someone comments on an article you post, or mentions your brand name in a tweet, or sends you a DM, you respond as quickly as possible. This may mean turning on push notifications on your phone, or enabling email notifications, to make sure that you don’t miss a notification while surfing your various social networks. Replying to and engaging with customers can be time-consuming, but it is definitely worth it. And don’t just wait for people to search you out—be proactive and spend some time searching various social media sites for keywords that have to do with what you’re selling. If you find a post or a tweet that you can respond to—for example, a question that you know the answer to, do it! You might be talking to your next customer.

Action step: Begin searching keywords related to your brand on the three social media sites most relevant to you and engage with people using those keywords.

3) Sell Your Expertise

The product you’re selling doesn’t have to be a tangible, physical object. If you’re an expert in your field, you can provide online classes or seminars, e-books, or video courses that teach others what you know. Sharing knowledge online is all the rage right now, and if you can demonstrate expertise in a certain area, there will be people who are willing to pay for it.

Amazon’s free Kindle Direct publishing program allows you to publish your own PDFs or ebooks, making them available worldwide. Kajabi also makes it easy to turn ideas and content into digital products.

Action step: Think about whether you have a special area of knowledge or expertise that could translate into a marketable product.

4) Be Courageous

6 Ways to Captilaize on Social Media Sales2

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t takDon’t be afraid to reach out to people online. Remember, you have something great to offer them. However, don’t jump into a conversation with the attitude “I have something to sell you”—nothing turns people off more than the door-to-door salesman vibe. Instead, leave a thoughtful comment on one of their posts, retweet one of their tweets every now and then. Start building a relationship and becoming familiar to them first. But never avoid reaching out because you’re scared of how they’ll respond.

Action step: Reach out and start a conversation with someone on social media. You never know where a simple connection might take you.

5) Curate Your Content

In order to win people to your business, rather than your competitors, you have to make sure that you’re offering top-notch content and products. This can mean anything from making sure that you’re offering high-quality goods, to choosing the perfect picture to represent those goods, to designing an eye-catching and creative logo.

The social media sales scene is a competitive one, and you’ll want to put your best foot forward in order to differentiate yourself from others in your field. Another important way to make sure you’re offering the best content is by listening to your customers—do they have complaints? Questions? Suggestions for improvements? Showing that you listen to and care about your customers helps them be confident that you’re giving them quality goods.

Action step: Ask yourself the question “How can I improve the product I’m offering?” Write down three concrete answers.

6) Stand out from the crowd

In the past, it was enough to have a working website and checkout feature—businesses didn’t have to spend as much time creating a strategy for social media sales. But today, there are so many different companies online competing for the attention of customers, you have to do more than wait for the crowds to come to you. Luckily, taking the action steps above will help you stand out from your competitors.

By focusing your social media energies on the networks most relevant to your business, building a network of relationships with potential customers, offering your expertise to the world, boldly reaching out, and offering quality content, you will be well equipped to take advantage of the sales opportunities social media provides.

 

Getting to Know Personal Tools and Assets in Google Analytics

Hidden in the Admin area of Google Analytics, you will see a section under Views for Personal Tools & Assets. These features and reasons for exploring them area defined below.

Getting to know1

Segments: If you are not already familiar with segments, please read a previous post about how to use them. You can access them from the regular Reporting view, and they are also stored here in the Admin area of your account.

Annotations: I describe these as “post-it notes” in your account. You can highlight a date in your account when a significant offline event occurred. It could be after you presented to a large in-person audience or distributed a print mailing.  It’s useful for any time-specific event that may influence website behavior. These too are accessible from the reporting section under graphs as seen below or in this Admin area.

Attribution Models:  An attribution model determines how much credit each channel gets for conversions. There are a number of models already built-in to Google Analytics but you might want to create your own when you have a unique perspective on how your channels will work together. You create your model by first deciding which baseline model you want to use as your foundation: First Interaction, Last Interactions, Linear, Time Decay or Position Based. Once this is selected, you decide which rules to apply, such as the percentage of the credit you want to give to each interaction. It is confusing initially, so take advantage of the Import from Gallery option to import custom attribution models created by other users.

Custom Channel Groupings (Beta): The default channels are viewed in your Traffic Sources and include direct, organic, social, email, paid and display. For many people, that’s enough. However, you can drill into that data by creating channel groupings based on traffic source, medium, or campaign, as well as landing pages or AdWords parameters. Let’s say you are promoting a new product line on two specific channels, such as LinkedIn and Facebook. You can create a grouping called New Product, include both of those social sources with a regular expression of linkedin|facebook and include the landing page URL for the New Product page. That way, you are segmenting out your social media data for this New Product campaign.

Custom Alerts: If you are not logging into your Google Analytics account regularly, you can set up alerts to be notified when a significant event occurs on your website. An alert I recommend for everyone is “Traffic = 0”.  In other words, it notifies you if your website is not tracking any website visitors to your site. Sometimes tracking code may break when there is a site redesign or glitch with your site. This notifies you the day it happens so you can get it corrected quickly. You may also want to know when there is a significant decrease in traffic (you have a problem) versus an increase (your new campaign is doing well). You can choose a percentage (such as a 50% change) to trigger that notification.

Scheduled Emails: Like Custom Alerts, this feature is helpful for people who do not log in to Google Analytics regularly. They can receive reports weekly or monthly with key data.  If users no longer want to receive a report, you can go to the Admin section, and delete those email subscriptions.

Getting to know2

Shortcuts: What if you log in regularly but don’t want to constantly drill into your data with secondary dimensions and in-line filters? Once you have a view of your data in Reporting that meets your needs, you can choose the option to “Add Shortcut” which makes it available under Dashboards the next time you log in.

Share Assets: This final option lets you share the configuration of the different customizations you created in the account. It does not share any of your account data. Instead, it shares the skeleton, making it easy for others to benefit from your work.

These different features are found throughout your Google Analytics account in the Reporting screen, which is where users spend most of their time. However, this is a central place in Google Analytics for viewing the different customizations you have made.

Google Mobile-First Indexing Shakes Up SEO

This blog post was originally posted on rso-consulting.com and can be accessed here.

If your SEO game is good, and you want to keep it that way (or it’s not so great and you want to improve it), then this blog post is for you. Because within a few weeks or months,

Google is finally going live with its mobile-first indexing initiative, and you’ll need to be prepared for the main event. Google mobile-first indexing could have a huge impact on your rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs), so let’s dive right in to what you can expect and how to help your website maintain or improve its status.mobile-devices-300x200

What’s this Mobile-First Indexing All About?

Google is about to change the way it indexes web pages. In the past, the search giant analyzed the desktop version

of a website to index it on search engine results pages. Now, with mobile usage dominating desktop, Google will soon be indexing the mobile version of websites instead.

For brands and businesses, this means if your mobile website does not mirror your desktop site (or you don’t have a mobile site), your rankings on the SERPs could drop. Big problem.

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7 Time Saving Social Media Management Tips

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Looking to make the most of your time and social media? Check out these seven tips and tricks that can save you time and energy, so you have more time to develop a killer brand.

1. Plan Ahead and Batch Your Time

If you’re jumping between social media networks throughout the day, trying to find the perfect article or make the perfect post, it’s just simple logic that you will waste a LOT of time. Rather than building your social media presence five minutes at a time, set aside a solid hour or so where you can settle in and do some serious work. The steps below will offer ways for you to best utilize this time by finding content and setting up queues ahead of the time. An hour for crafting your social media presence can do wonders for your productivity.

2. Find the Best Content to Share

The journey to find great relevant content for your Facebook or Twitter page can be a long and time-consuming one. Are you supposed to spend an hour on Facebook, Twitter, and Google, punching in keywords and trying to find articles that will appeal to your target audience? This is where content tools like Buzzsumo comes in handy. You can type in a keyword and the top articles related to that keyword will show up. The best part? It shows you how many times those articles have already been shared on social media and  it ranks them in order of shares. Obviously this tool can be used to find interesting content you know will appeal to your readers.

Another great tool is Social Mention  and one way to use it is by selecting keywords for your own brand, so that if anyone posts something about it, you can retweet or share it. This also saves a lot of time because you don’t have to switch from platform to platform searching for your company’s keywords to see what people are saying about you. Instead, it’s all there in one handy place for you to review, share, and retweet!

3. Save Energy Using a Social Media Post Scheduler

Once you’ve used a tool like Buzzsumo to find content, you can use a post scheduler like HootsuiteBufferSprout Social, or eClincher. They often offer enhanced analytic services so you can better gauge what to share and when.

These post schedulers can also schedule your posts at peak times, when the most people are likely to be online, so that you don’t have to spend time trying to figure out when the best times to post are. You can also schedule out all your posts months in advance. This is also useful if you have an assistant or interns–rather than give them complete control over your company’s social media account, you can give them access to the post scheduler accounts so that you and they can work together to post great content.

4. Use Themes and Hashtags to elp You Decide What to Post

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Take advantage of daily trending hashtags for creative content like #TipTuesday where people share tips related to their industry. Utilizing themes and hashtags can give you ideas for what to post, and since you can use a different hashtag for each day of the week, you’ll never be monotonous or repetitive!

Try to be creative with your hashtags and themes–for example, use #TBT, or “Thowback Thursday” to post a juxtaposition of a 50-year-old picture of the building your company is housed in, compared with the way your office looks now. You can even come up with your own hashtags and themes for particular days of the week that are tailored to your brand.

5. Be Selective About Where You Post

Believe it or not, you don’t need to be posting on every single social network on the internet. In fact, that can lead you to spread yourself too thin and decrease the overall quality of your posts. Think long and hard about which social networks are best suited to promoting your brand. For example, if your company is more visual and heavy on images, Pinterest would probably be a good venue for it. On the other hand, if the emphasis is on professional articles and analyses, it would probably be best to concentrate your energies on LinkedIn.

Nothing says you have to limit yourself to only one social network, but if analytics are showing that your efforts just aren’t effective on a certain site, it’s best to cut your losses and boot it off your social media list. And speaking of analytics…

6. Use Analytics to Improve Your Social Media Strategy

Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter all offer analytics tools so that you can see which posts get the most attention, which ones are liked or shared the most, and a whole host of other insights that will help you streamline your social media activity. Here are a few questions you should be asking. What was my most popular post? What time are people interacting with my posts? What type of post is getting the most engagements – video or blog posts? Are my followers growing each month?

Use the data from your analytics to compose a monthly report so that you can see overall patterns and learn from your mistakes–or successes! Make notes of which posts did well, which ones didn’t, and who your top followers and influencers are. This report will give you tons of information on how your brand is doing, and will save you a lot of time in the end.

7. Turn to An Expert

Sometimes, there really is nothing like someone who’s been tried and tested in the field. If you’re struggling to keep up with the demands of running your brand’s social media accounts, considering hiring a social media consultant (like me!). A consultant can make sure that your social media presence is as good as it can be, while freeing you up to attend to other important aspects of your business.

Do you have a stellar social-media time saving tip? Share them in the comments!

Checklist for Migrating to a New Site Design

Launching a redesign of a website is an exciting time for many companies. Whether it’s freshening up an old look or presenting a new brand, you want to make sure it’s done right! Before you flip the switch on your newly designed site, you need a plan for redirecting your existing URLs.  Having this plan is important so you do not lose your SEO ranking or negatively impact website traffic. Below are nine items to include on your site migration checklist.

Start with a site crawl

Start with a site crawl to understand the architecture of the existing website. Note the different page types on the existing site, such as PDFs and identify which URLs are disallowed in the robots.txt file.

Download the XML sitemap

A sitemap lists the pages a website wants to have indexed with the search engines. If you want index the new pages, then you will want to map them. The sitemap is a good place to start. (more…)

5 Tips for Developing Your Business Social Media Strategy

social mediaImagine you’re on a road trip to visit a friend. You wouldn’t want to start it without some idea of how to get to your friend’s house–at least not if you wanted to do it without getting lost. A social media strategy is like a GPS for your business. It keeps you on the road to success, without timely and costly detours. And even if you get a flat tire or some other catastrophe along the way, at least yu still know where you’re headed and how to get there. This article will show you how to develop a great “road map” to keep your business headed towards social media success.

1. Get Your Goals Down on Paper

The first step in developing a strategy for your business’s social media is to figure out your goal. What do you want this strategy to achieve? Once you figure that out, you’ll already have an idea of what you need to do to reach that goal. Do you want to increase your follower count by 25%? Boost post engagement? Up sales? Whatever your goals are, write them down. But keep it narrow and focused–if you try to achieve too many goals at the same towards, you’ll end up reaching none of them.

Action step: Think about your business’s needs and what you would like to achieve for it. Write down two objectives that you can take concrete steps towards. (more…)

How to Optimize your Remarketing Lists for Search Ad Campaigns

Many visitors leave a website without converting, which is why remarketing campaigns with Google AdWords are valuable.  And since these visitors also visit multiple sites before making a purchase, you want to make sure they do not forget you. As they get closer to that decision point, you want to remind them that they visited your site in the process, and bring them back to your conversion funnel.

To use RLSA (Remarketing Lists for Search Ads), start by creating remarketing lists from segments of your audience based on an attribute, such as their location in your conversion funnel or transactions. This is data you can glean from your Google Analytics account.

In your initial RLSA campaigns, bid based on audience behavior by choosing the “bid only” option rather than “target and bid”. With this strategy, you are bidding based on behaviors that are the most valuable and can adjust bids based on the performance. For example, you would bid differently for home page visitors versus those who viewed a specific product or even abandoned their cart. People who visit on a category page may be one a bucket of users with a moderate bid and a higher bid is given to those who got as far as adding something in the shopping cart. You may even want to have a group specifically for bounced traffic. Your strategy with this type of group would be less aggressive with your ad spend, and you wouldn’t aim for a direct conversion as your goal since they have not yet indicated a strong interest in what you offer.  Instead, with the bounced audience, bid lower and have a different goal, such as driving them to landing pages with a softer CTA that invites them to download a free guide rather than asking them to commit to a purchase.

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With “target and bid”, ads are displayed only if the search is for one of your keywords and the searcher is on your remarketing list. It’s more focused because you are targeting a very specific audience. You bid differently on these users depending on which particular audience list they fell into. This could be the time to include competitor terms, higher funnel search terms and broad match types.  Although broad match can bring in a lot of irrelevant terms in your standard Search Campaigns, in this case, you are able to get in front of an previous visitors again in a broader way.  Once you’ve defined these groups, make sure your messaging speaks to them specifically rather than using one message for all your audiences.

The final step is optimizing and expanding the campaign depending on performance and after you have collected 2-4 weeks of data.  If the CPA on the RLSA list is lower than the regular search, you could be missing out on conversions, so it might help to bid more on those. Try increasing your bid to reach your CPA goal with more conversions.  With keywords that have a 1.5 position or higher, there’s really no need to increase the bid since you are already staying in those top three spots.

Some best practices with RLSA include utilizing different membership durations. You don’t need to stick with the default of 30 days because people may do research for longer than 30 days. When setting bids, look at ROAS, then optimize for that. A mistake with remarketing for Search or Display is oversegmentating – going very niche – rather than broad first and optimizing later. It can cut out too many potential buyers.  And finally, if you are unsure of your usual buying cycle for your site visitors, view the Time Lag to Conversion Report which is available in AdWords under Tools > Attribution  before creating your audiences.

Breaking Down AdWords Demographic Targeting for Search Ads

*This blog was originally posted on rso-consulting.com and can be accessed here.

Reach ideal customers in AdWords with demographic targeting

Reach ideal customers in AdWords with demographic targeting

A few months ago, AdWords demographic targeting for search ads was introduced, including the ability to segment by age and gender. This brought joy to many brands and marketers, because they could better match ads to audiences while gaining more control over who saw their ads.

It was a definitive moment for sure. Yet if your head’s still not in the game, then this quick explanation should help.

Let’s start with an example. Say your software company has a new product and you want to advertise it. In the old days, a user would type in a keyword and, if your keyword matched theirs, it could trigger your ad to appear on the search engine results page. Now, with demographics targeting you can refine who sees the search ad, based on who has the greatest propensity to buy your product. (Careful, your targeting should reflect data on user intent, not who you assume are your buyers.)

Let’s take a look at how AdWords breaks down demographic targets for search ads: (more…)

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