The skills we teach deliver real ROI.

May 2015 archive

Content Marketing Campaign of the Week: Lyft

The ridesharing trend has skyrocketed in the past couple years in the United States. Specifically, Lyft has taken the streets by pink moustache and impressed marketers with their content marketing, earning them this week’s Content Marketing Campaign of the week. While slightly older rival Uber has more social media followers, Lyft outshines its main competitor for one simple reason:  memorable storytelling.

From its home page to the blog, Lyft focuses on people. It only makes sense considering the prime resource and the customer are both people, and each person has a story. Lyft has capitalized on the value of human interactions between drivers and passengers by posting funny and sentimental stories on their blog, and then sharing those stories and more via social media.

The Passengers

People use Lyft for a variety of reasons:  a ride to the airport, a safe way home, Lyft Line is even beginning in some cities as a commuting rideshare program. But we all know there are plenty more unique reasons, and Lyft loves to share them. The weirder, the better – their logo is a pink moustache, would you expect anything else? Here is one favorite:



Custom Dimensions and Metrics in Universal Analytics

Google Analytics has a ton of data in it which is overwhelming for many people. Their built-in dimensions and metrics have enough information to satisfy the reporting needs of most Google Analytics users. In analytics, a dimension is an attribute, or way to describe visitors, and is displayed as a row in Google Analytics data. A metric is a number and is displayed as a column in reports. However, advanced users who need more than what is already provided can define their own variables for data when the built-in dimensions and metrics are not enough.

Some use cases for this customization including reporting website traffic based on the author of a post or its category. Another use case is if you have a website that sells services and products. You can make assumptions about whether someone is a potential service or product buyer based on which sections of the site they visit. However, you can ask them to self-identify as someone looking for services versus products by adding a drop-down box and letting visitors select why they are on the site today. You can then direct the content they see based on how they identify and set a custom dimension for “products” or “services” which is determined by their selection. To learn more about possible metrics and dimensions, you can view Google’s reference guide.

Before setting up custom dimensions or custom metrics, best practices are to lay out what you want in your final report. This can also help with determining if what you need is already built into analytics. Laying out what you need can be as simple as drawing out a simple table on a piece of paper or using an Excel spreadsheet to map out what the final report should look like. Keep in mind that Universal Analytics allows for up to a maximum of 20 custom dimensions and 20 custom metrics, but you may want to start small.


4 Website Fixes with Measurable Results in Google Analytics

This post was originally posted on

If you have an existing website but are not seeing the results that you want in your Google Analytics reports, then it is time to take a good look at what your site is doing – or, more likely, not doing.

This requires looking at your website from an end user perspective, rather than as a site owner. Because you are likely the one who benefits from the online sales, this can be difficult to do, but it is not impossible.

The truth is, the more you can think like a consumer, the better your website will cater to the consumer. The proof of your success can be measured in your Google web analytics reports.

To get you thinking about possible improvements to your site, here are four updates you can make and the corresponding analytics data that will show you whether or not they’re working.


Blogging Tips

Having fresh content on your site is essential to your success if you would like to be effective online. There are many different reasons to have a blog for your business. These days blogs are not just for individuals who want to express themselves. Businesses are using this to show their expertise to get more customers. Not only does this help you build credibility, it also helps your rankings on the search engines. Search engines like having fresh content so they can provide the best content possible to the searcher. This article will help you understand the basics of blogs and how to use them effectively.

Tips for writing a blog post:

  • Write your blog/post offline
  • Find complimentary visuals
  • Share blog post through social media
  • Specify category and add keywords
  • Tag visuals with keywords
  • Turn on “comments”
  • Moderate, respond, engage
  • Be consistent

1. Topics


Content Marketing Campaign of the Week: Sharpie

Sharpie has a multitude of customers, ranging a variety of demographics. The obvious demographic they target is teenagers. But while targeting that demographic, Sharpie has given itself an image of creativity and originality. With a simple product, Sharpie has paid attention to what motivates and interests their customers and has improved their social media reach with content marketing. Throughout all of their social media platforms there are three consistent themes:  imagination and creativity, and customer-generated artwork and fun.



What is Google Plus?

Google Plus can be a bit confusing when you use the platform for the first couple of times. Many people mention they have issues understanding what the difference is between the other social networks and Google Plus. This post will go over three segments of Google Plus that makes the platform different from other sites.

First off Google Plus is an easy way to connect with people who share the same interest as you. If you have a strong interest in photography, then finding like-minded individuals who share many photos to their groups is easy. You are instantly able to connect with people who you want to see and connect with. Other social networks require you to know the person or go through a process in order to connect with them. Google Plus eliminates this issue because remember it is more of a platform.

Quick Tip- You can gain better search results ranking if you add the official Google Plus Button to your site which can be found Here

Below are the three main things that will help you get a better idea of how to use the network.


Ever afraid of posting the wrong thing to the wrong people? Maybe you just don’t want to share everything online because it may mix with your different relationships that you have. Some people have even lost their position at their jobs because they have posted something about their job and the manager ended up seeing the post!

To prevent things like this from happening Google Plus has what is called Circles. Circles enables you to target the people you post to on the platform. Let’s say you want to target your loyal customers vs your general customers. You can do this with Circles. Also if you are traveling and want to announce that you won’t be in town maybe it’s a good idea to send these types of posts to certain friends and family Circles etc. There are many stories on how doing these strategies can protect your privacy.

This tool also helps if you want to be able to communicate with a group of individuals in an organization. Everyone in the organization can be members of the same Circle so that communication can be seen only by members. You can also add the same people to multiple circles. It’s important to note that people will not be able to see what circle you place them in. So when you post be sure to add them accordingly.


Hangouts is another really useful way to use Google Plus. Hangouts are divided between two types, Hangouts and Hangouts On Air. Hangouts serve as a conferencing feature that enables you to talk to up to ten people at once. This feature is very useful for people who work in an office where there are many locations but they do not want to drive to meetings. This also plays a role in some tech companies hiring process as they use this for interviews. Unlike some platforms that offer conferencing features, this one gives you this ability at no cost!

If you are a user of Google Docs (a tool that lets you work on the same documents at once) you may be interested in the feature that lets you use Google Docs while you are using Hangouts with other people. This helps make conferencing features and collaborations much more engaging. Whenever a group is on Google Plus, whoever is talking will be zoomed in for a more up close look at the person. Participants are also able to mute their mic in the case of background noise.

Quick Tip- You should definitely utilize land line internet access whenever doing Hangouts for good use

Hangouts On Air

Hangouts on Air is meant to help you have a wider audience for broadcasting. Instead of just having the ten people, this hangout is broadcasted across the web. This is done by the platform showing your live hangout on YouTube. Many users have used this opportunity to put on cooking classes and many other class ideas. Another way people use this tool is to hold events that cannot be attended. While doing the broadcast you are able to see exactly how many people are viewing the broadcast.


Communities helps you create a group revolving around a niche that your company can relate to. For example Lowes Home Improvement has a community specifically about technology within your home. The group can be formed to be private or a public community that anyone can join. Once people join your group they can begin to post things related to your community. The good thing about Communities is that once enough people join the group many people will be contributing so that the owner just has to manage and maintain everything instead of posting.

This should help you get started with Google Plus and understand how to use the tools!

The Differences between Native Advertising and Sponsored Listing

This post was originally published on

Native advertising and sponsored listing are two terms that you may have come across recently, especially if your company is involved in any form of paid advertising.

But unless you have been paying close attention to how online advertising has evolved over the last couple of years, you may have missed the distinction between the two. (There’s no shame in that; even AOL and Yahoo are playing catch up.)

To get you up to speed on the differences between native advertising and sponsored listings, we offer you a concise explanation that you can just as easily adapt for the next stakeholders meeting or impromptu networking.

Native Advertising

The simplest way to explain native advertising is that it is paid media that takes on the feel and function of the site where it exists, almost always a publisher or platform like Facebook, The Wall Street Journal or Mashable, for example.

Now, because not all sites are the same, how one site integrates native ads may be completely different from another site.

Case in point: Facebook native ads are placed in the newsfeed, whereas Google’s native real estate is within search results – although ads are placed along the top and sidebar.

The reason: it flows more naturally with the rest of the content. Rather than disrupting the user experience, native advertising caters to it.

Native advertising is about how the content looks rather than what it does.

Sponsored Listing

Sponsored listings, on the other hand, are paid ads that are prominently featured on websites in order to drive traffic to specific landing pages.

In many cases, the website that hosts the sponsored listing will place it naturally within existing, non-paid, content so that it mimics the qualities of the site.

If you noticed, we said that the content takes on the characteristics of the website…remind you of anything?

That’s right; sponsored listings can also be a form of native advertising.

The sponsored listing is more about what the content does rather than how it looks, although it can be considered native if the ad is placed accordingly.

Have any questions?

We invite you to ask us any questions about paid advertising in the comments below, or just leave a comment as to your thoughts.

Facebook for Businesses of all sizes.

Being up to date on marketing your business online is essential to your success. Facebook has many different ways in which it chooses what posts are more important than others. Knowing how Facebook works will help you find out what you can do differently in order to succeed.  This article will go over specifically how you can use Facebook to your advantage.

It’s important to be aware that most consumers are on Facebook. Whether your organization is business-to-business or business-to-consumer, your customers are most likely there.  Stats below show that for business-to-consumer companies the platform is even more important.


The reason why practically almost every target market is on there is due to the fact that it is a place for people to socialize with their friends. Whether the person is a professional or not chances are they want to socialize.

1. Personal Account Basics

Before creating business profiles on any social media network you need to make sure you understand the basics of the personal profiles.

  • Import your email addresses
  • Up to 5000 friends
  • Set your Vanity URL for better search results
  • Set your “interests” list
  • “Like” Business Pages of interest
  • Easy to search with new Social Graph Search

The personal profile is one of the main drivers for business advertising on the platform. You can have up to 5,000 friends before having to create a public figure profile. Whenever you set interests or like brands, books, and topics this information is used to target ads to you and to other people. Be sure not to try to create a business profile out of your personal page. Instead, you can create a business page and then asking your friends to like the business page.


2. Business Page Tips

  • Increase your information bandwidth
  • Create custom pages w/cover photos
  • Connect to Twitter to cross-promote
  • Create Social Media tabs: Pinterest, twitter, LinkedIn
  • Talk casually w/other businesses; tag them!
  • Set your Vanity URL for traditional marketing
  • Use Ads/Sponsored Stories to get message out
  • Post good content

Business pages are very important for business. The first step is to fully fill out your business profile.  This means making sure that all the descriptions and location information is filled out with content that involves what your business does. The main reasons that this helps is when people search for your type of business this will show up. Also the search engines pull different information from this section so it is important that all the sections are filled out.


Content Marketing Campaign of the Week – by Adobe

When starting out in content marketing, the answers of how to get content, how much, how often, how to share it and many other factors are daunting. Is it possible to start from scratch and be good at content marketing right away? Unfortunately the answer is no. But that shouldn’t stop you. Success stories such as Hubspot, Buzzfeed and Reddit all started with little recognition and are now known as industry standards of where to go for information. Similar to those is how from Adobe has cultivated its content to become a resource for digital marketers.

Traditionally Adobe is known for its design tools such as Photoshop and Illustrator, but the creative side is only one part of marketing. Strategy and return on investment (ROI) need to be integrated with creativity in order to have successful campaigns. Adobe identified that they wanted to be in the forefront of the mind of “smart marketers,” but knew that pushing their products and sales pitches on chief marketing officers would not succeed. In comes started with curated content and an occasional post by Adobe-employed editors. They had some in-house resources, but not nearly the army or budget it takes to produce GOOD content on a regular, let’s say daily, basis. Once they got a following with site traffic, they started hiring or contracting good writers to create original content for them. One of the regular features they created was having a journalist conduct an interview with a CMO and then transcribe it into a blog post. It’s a simple concept, but it wasn’t being done by other industry outlets. These features are now one of the most popular articles on the site and called their CMO Exclusives.

The other noteworthy concept of is that it’s not heavily branded. People have commented that they didn’t even know it was produced by Adobe. Why wouldn’t Adobe be proud of their new work and put their logo everywhere? It’s not about the brand identity, and they aren’t trying to be sneaky either. If you look for who hosts, it’s easy to find Adobe. However, Adobe knew that if they targeted marketers with the backing of a known brand, a large portion of readers would reject the content they were creating based on the idea that it was biased – even though it wasn’t.

What Adobe accomplished was they created a relationship with potential (and current) customers that went deeper than the B2B sale of software licenses. If you dig around on the site, you won’t see Adobe promotions or product values. It’s all information that resonates with the digital marketer on a strategic and creative side.

So what can we learn from Adobe?

  1. Content marketing takes time to work. Start with what you can do well with curation and then move into original content if that aligns with your business goals.
  2. When trying to provide information to your users, clients, or customers don’t shove a brand down their throat. They don’t respond to it, and you’ll get more long-lasting and returning visitors.

Do you have a great content marketing strategy? Let me know so I can write about it via Twitter @kcothran!

I have 1 hour a day to devote to social media? How do I maximize my return on time?

We’ve all heard the title “Social Media Strategist.” Most of the time we hear it in the context of a large company. One with rather deep pockets allowing them to hire a full time social media person. However, if you work for an SMB (small to medium sized business), you probably don’t have that luxury and are more acquainted with the title “Digital Marketing Specialist” whose responsibilities include not only social media, but email marketing, search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, content marketing, graphic design…should I keep going?

The modern marketer’s universe keeps getting larger and larger and the only way to keep up is to prioritize. Obviously, we’re going to focus on the activities that generate the most return. Although social media does and will generate ROI, it’s not the easiest to prove, and therefore, tends to get the least amount of attention.

So how much time are you really willing to give to social media? If you only have one hour a day to spend on social media, how can you get the most return?

This one-hour web seminar was presented by Traci Taylor on May 12, 2015.

Discussed in this web seminar:
• Setting realistic goals
• Choosing which social networks will work best for you
• Managing your time efficiently
• Tools to Manage Social Media
• Measuring Social Media ROI

Missed this web seminar? Find the slides & recording here.