Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Successful Campaign Analysis Via Tagging Strategies

There can be a lot of unknowns when it comes to marketing campaigns. Who's seeing your ads or print pieces? Of those people, who are they resonating with? Are your strategies working? These are all very important questions, that if answered, can lead to valuable insights into improving these strategies. But how can you gain visibility into these in the first place? If these marketing initiatives are designed to drive traffic to your company's website, you're already headed in the right direction!

If you have advertisements on billboards, print, you likely already have a web analytics platform selected to measure your site. If not, what are you waiting for? If you are using a platform like Google Analytics, you can mark your campaigns for easy analysis via URL tagging. New to manual tagging? Here are a basic outline so you can get the most analysis out of your campaign data.
  1. Identify Advertising Methods & Locations: The first step is to get your ducks in a row by laying out all of our advertising methods. What type of ads will they be? Where will they be placed? What will the call-to-action be? What URL will be featured on the ad? These are all things that should be considered before proceeding.
  2. Evaluate Campaign Flexibility & Constraints: It is a good idea to identify any strengths and weaknesses with the campaign. Are the placements permanent, or is there flexibility to change the ad up periodically? It is good to know whether or not you will need to prepare additional tags for the different ad variations, be it a billboard or a banner ad.
  3. Create Information-Rich Tags: Now that you have all of the information you need, it's time to make sure you carry as much of it over to Google Analytics as possible through information-rich URL tags. What do I mean by this? For Google Analytics URL tagging, you have the option of using several different fields for labeling, including campaign source, medium, and campaign. There are also other fields like term and content which will allow you to differentiate even more. You'll want to make sure you get as much information as you'll need down the line. The more information there is, the deeper you can drill down for analysis in the future.URL tagging strategies for campaign tracking.
  4. Test, Test, Test! This step is pretty self-explanatory, but perhaps one of the most important steps of all. You should the new tags with their URLs to ensure that they send you to the proper page, as well as verify proper data collection within Google Analytics. You don't want to find out after deployment of these tagged links that something isn't right!
  5. Deploy & Analyze: And now, the waiting game! Once enough data has begun populating in your analytics profile, you can begin slicing and dicing for deep analysis!
It is important to understand that this entire process can be time-consuming to start, but will serve to be a wise investment as the data comes rolling in. The insights that will be brought forth will be well worth it, as they'll help you understand how well all of your advertising is performing, regardless of the medium.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

3 Content Questions for Your Next Web Design Project

For any business owner, the company website is one of the most valuable marketing materials. It is often one of the first points of contact for prospects, and as they say, first impressions are everything. A website’s content, when managed effectively, ultimately contributes to higher conversion rates, increased revenue, and better customer service across the entire business. But before the content creation process begins, there’s a few questions to ask yourself that will save you time and aggravation.

Do I Have All The Materials I Need?

I don’t mean cutting down the amount of work you do by reusing the content of your brochures and data sheets. Instead, gathering and utilizing the context, message, or tone from these established materials can give your brand a kind of “time-honored” consistency. In addition, users and potential customers will often respond and more easily relate to content they feel is familiar. That’s the trick—making sure your content is updated and “fresh,” but reinforcing the same message / values that you’ve established your business around.

Do I Know Who I'm Writing For?

The point above, as you might expect, leads to the issue of your audience. To attract, engage, and ultimately convert customers with a website, it’s important to have a firm grasp on who makes up that audience and what they want to see. Choosing your desired segmentation, identifying their interests, needs, and expectations, and finally aligning your content with those attributes makes for a smoother process and a better, more impactful end result.

What About The Future?

When all is said and done, what happens next? Where do you take your content after your project is complete? The good part about pondering this is that there is a wealth of options for your new web content. For example, you can create an optimization plan to ensure it stays fresh and relevant. You can also use your renewed branding efforts to update your marketing materials, brochures, pamphlets, social media pages, etc. The goal here is to form a solid information architecture with a steady stream of relevant content. No matter how you end up using it, understanding the applications of new content is a big step on the path to better marketing.

Now more than ever, great content is at the heart of all marketing, and taking your efforts online doesn’t change that. Investing the time and work into new web content is something that will have a host of benefits in the long run. Overall, thinking about your company’s history, your target audience, and what lies ahead will greatly contribute to that success.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Google Redoes Remarketing

If you have ever set up a Remarketing Group in AdWords, then you know the pain of creating and placing the new code every time you make a change. Recently, Google has released the new Remarketing code which allows one to manage their Remarketing efforts through Google Analytics. This new code is a single snippet that can be placed onto your entire site, instead of needing separate codes for each Remarketing being done.

What is Remarketing?

Before we go too far, let’s make sure everyone understands Remarketing. In simple terms, Remarketing is advertising to people that have previously been to your website. Placing the Remarketing code lets us know who (or which devices) have been to your website and how long ago it was since they have been there. Since this code allows us to know who has revisited a site, as marketers, we can turn these previous visitors into a target market and create tailored ads just for them in attempts to bring them back to your site.

How Does the New Remarketing Code Help?

The new Remarketing code eliminates the need of having a unique code for each Remarketing list. For instance, previously you could create a list of people who came to the site but did not buy, in an attempt to bring them back and still get that sale. On the other hand, you could create a list of people that bought 2 years ago and may now need a replacement, extensions, or upgrade to your product or service. It's easy to see the value of creating these groups and ensuring that these groups are receiving uniquely different messages from your company.

This new Re-Marketing Code enables one to create, modify, and add on to these groups without going through the headache of creating, placing, and double-checking the lines of code for each Remarketing list. Instead, as good marketers, we can focus on the advertisement message, making sure that it is relevant and engaging to the targeted audience.

If you have any questions about Remarketing or the changes that Google has made, please contact DaBrian Marketing Group. We would love to help you grow your Business through PPC.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

5 Lessons for Successful Internet Marketing

Recently, I was reading an article in Advertising Age that highlighted the lessons from their CMO Strategy Summit.  I would have to agree with the eight things that the article mentions, but I’ve created a modified list of 5 lessons that applied to internet marketing or digital advertising.  Below are my 5 lessons that should be applied to internet marketing: 

1. Challenging Internal Think 
We need to challenge the “internal think” within our organization and marketing departments.  In the world of internet marketing, the old ways of thinking need to be modified and must include collaboration.  In order to be successful, many departments can no longer work in solos; otherwise campaigns are destined to fail.  We must work together to identify the best solutions that help to achieve strategic goals & objectives. This shouldn’t just apply to agency clients but advertising agencies as well. Be sure to limit risk and identify opportunities to control them with challenging internal think. 

2. Building Relations with PR, Finance and IT (be inclusive)
Don’t just get to know your CIO but also the heads of Public Relations, Communications, and Finance.  Understand what they think about your approach challenge, and obtain feedback from them.  Include your department heads into strategic discussions because everyone has a role to play with the marketing campaign.  Be prepared to justify cost, forecast, and predict outcomes with Finance, and reinforce the role of IT within the scope of every campaign.

3. Experiment with Failure (Wisely) – A/B & MV Testing
Experiment with failures through A/B & Multivariate testing of all things digital.  Create controlled experiments, develop hypotheses, identify sample sizes for statistical significance, run the test, and don’t stop testing.  It’s not as expensive as it was in the past with the functionality of Content Management Systems (CMS), Google AdWords, Google Analytics, KISSmetrics, and other usability testing sites.  Start gathering information and spend less time talking about it in meetings that don’t generate outcomes to reduce cost and improve marketing.

4. Local, Regional, and then National
It seem like every business thinks they’re a national brand, but they have challenges spending the national budgets. Grow locally, regionally, and then nationally to save money, measure your effectiveness, and apply your finds to new markets. If done effectively, you just might identify competitive advantages and target national markets that grow your business.

5. Measure & Value
Measure the effectiveness of your marketing tactics and provide a value for leads or sales.  This should lead to better marketing, reductions in cost, and the ability to forecast and predict.  Now, you’re speaking the language of the finance department and gaining credibility.  It should also help to reinforce the value of the IT department. 

These lessons should help to position your organization and team for successful internet marketing campaigns.  I would highly recommend that marketing professionals take a look the CMO Strategic Summit’s 8 lessons.  Let us know if you have any lessons that you’d like to share.  Good Luck! 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

3 Roadblocks in Web Analytics and the Ways Around Them

If you're reading this blog, you probably already understand that a great deal of marketing power can come from web analytics. If you're an analyst, then we share the same pride in being able to take those high level metrics from tools like Google Analytics and slice and dice them to reveal tasty morsels we call insights. We've got a wide variety of tricks up our sleeves to help us accomplish this; from cohort analysis to predictive models. But none of that means anything unless you can get the buy-in needed for measurement to even take place.

I've written past blogs about getting the support from the decision-makers on data. This included creating a data-driven culture and developing KPIs that matter to form a solid measurement base. These are great, but only once you've gained the ears of the prospects. What do you do when they start spatting out excuses?

Excuses, Excuses

We've all heard them. In fact, we could all probably write a book with all of the excuses we've heard on why web analytics just aren't a part of an organization's immediate future ranging from budgetary to resource woes. Here are 3 excuses I've come across in the past and ways to help the prospect overcome them:
  1. "We know how many hits our site gets." – Okay, so the first one on the list isn't an excuse….directly. This statement is enough to make any web analyst cringe, though. "Hits" don't even scratch the surface of what web analytics can measure.

    Solution: Flex those analyst muscles! Explain to them that web analytics goes well beyond measuring "hits". Wow them. Tease them. Tie it back to dollar amounts by showing them some examples of ROI analysis. With some persuasion, you can quickly open their eyes to a much larger analytical world than they originally thought they saw.

  2. "We're focused on marketing initiative XYZ right now. We don't have the time." – This one's pretty common to hear, especially for agencies looking for new prospects. Unbeknownst to them, however, holding off on developing measurement strategies could severely impact marketing initiative XYZ.

    Solution: To overcome this kind of scenario, your best bet is to get more information on the initiative they're so focused on. Once you have a better understanding of what they're currently pursuing from a marketing perspective, you can show them how a measurement plan can help save them time and money as well as create efficiencies. We quote the movie Jerry Maguire here in the office a lot. This seems like a good time to do it: "Help us help YOU!"

  3. "We don't have the right talent or skill-sets in-house." – This is a sad truth that exists in today's business world, though it is starting to dissipate. Avinash Kaushik has astutely pointed out in the past that web analytics is in its awkward teenage years. Tools are improving and new strategies are being developed for their uses. Progress in these areas has been completely largely by companies and individuals. It hasn't been until recently that the industry has started to gain the attention of some educational institutions.

    Solution: If you're an agency, hand them your consulting information! If you're not, find an agency! There are countless web analytics agencies out there that will do everything from full blown implementation and analysis to high-level consulting and guidance for your organization. Good insights only come from organizations with data-driven cultures. This has to start somewhere, so make sure it starts the right way!
Keep in mind that these aren't likely end-all solutions to get the right kind of buy-in for web analytics. One thing is certain though: The greatest way to gain widespread support for the discipline is to continue spreading the word! The importance of measurement is already (albeit slowly) gaining traction in the business world.

Have you come across some other interesting roadblocks? Share them in the comments below!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Why Your Social Media Marketing Isn't Working

When it comes to Social Media, many companies know enough to realize that nearly everyone is connected to at least one social network. And if they’ve done their homework, they’ll realize that a great deal of benefits can come from interacting and advertising in the Social space. Thinking they’re already behind the rest of the pack, they hurriedly create social media accounts and, after a fury of liking, friending, re-tweeting, pinning, and posting, not much happens. How is this possible? Isn’t Social Media one of the easiest ways to create visibility and improve customer service? It is, but only if it’s done right from the start.

Problem 1: Timing is Everything

If you gathered anything from the example above, it’s probably that that particular company rushed into marketing with Social Media without any sort of preparation or plan in place. As with anything related to a business, performing research, weighing the options, and planning accordingly are vital to success. Once your business decides that entering the Social Networking realm is viable, have a detailed plan of action. Define goals and objectives, determine which social networks would be most effective for your industry and audience, and implement with a Social Media Management tool (if applicable).

How does this help me?

Not only having a plan, but sticking to it, keeps your company’s Social Media activity consistent, fresh, and (for the most part) automated, saving you time and resources. Also, clearly outlined goals give you a better idea of what future direction your campaign should take to reach its desired outcome.

Problem 2: Finding the Time

Usually a direct result of the first problem above is failing to allocate the appropriate amount of time, resources, & personnel to a new Social Media Marketing plan. Many newcomers to the digital marketing frontier often misinterpret the amount of work that goes into a smoothly running, revenue-generating digital marketing machine. A Social Media strategy cannot be implemented, maintained, and managed by a small handful of people, especially for larger companies. During the initial planning stages, it is essential to take the amount of time and work into consideration and allocate the necessary resources to the project.

How does this help me?

Having the foresight to designate specific tasks to the right individuals eliminates the risk of unexpected budget concerns and scheduling problems that can arise with workers’ other projects.

Problem 3: Where's the Data?

When all is said and done, a marketing campaign of any kind is nothing without analytical proof of its effectiveness at achieving its goal (See Image Below). Without the necessary data to track a campaign’s impact on revenue, leads, or sales, all of the effort put into it will be wasted. Thus, adding social media into a standalone analytics tool (such as Google Analytics) or one that is integrated into a prior solution (such as Hootsuite Analytics) is the best way to make the best decisions regarding your Social campaign.

Social Media Analytics

How does this help me?

Having analytics data at your fingertips allows your business’s Social Media Marketing plan to remain flexible, offers the advanced ability to evaluate whether your goals and objectives are being achieved, and acts as proof of what’s working, what isn’t, and which campaign areas need improvement.

Is your Social Media Marketing campaign guilty in any of the areas above? Is there something you’ve experienced that you’d like to add? Let us know in the comments section!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Keyword Research to Improve Email Marketing Effectiveness

In the internet marketing environment, we have access to a lot of information about our existing customers as well as prospective customers. Keyword research provides information on terms and phrases that are relevant to a specific audience, but demographic and geographic information should also be leveraged to improve effectiveness of email marketing campaigns and promotions. By leveraging and testing keyword research, you can create more targeted campaigns, be more efficient with your message, and improve overall conversion rates.

Segmentation of Email Campaigns based on Keyword Research

The segmentation of email campaigns beyond demographic information can include segmenting by sales process, customer lifecycle, etc. You can use keyword research to align with your segmentation strategy and deliver keywords-rich content to relevant demographics such as Female/Male or by State (See Tables Below). Several keyword research tools such as Ispionage, SpyFu, Ad Intelligence, Google Insights, and Google Keyword Tool can provide valuable insights into keyword trends by age, geographic locations, and other demographic information.

Image 1: An example of demographics information by age & sex.

Image 2: An example of keyword research that is available at the state level. 

Keyword Targeting with Subject Line Testing

Email Marketing is still an effective tactic which should include keywords that are consistent with your SEO campaign. Implementing relevant and targeted keywords that are not only consistent with your products/services, but also with your demographics and geographic locations, will help to improve open rates, click-through rates, sharing of emails, lead generation, lower cost per acquisition, and increase profit margins. The most interesting opportunity for keyword insertion into Email Marketing is within the subject line and content of the email. The ability to implement keywords into the subject line should improve your open rates as long as the keywords are relevant to the desired target audience. In some cases, email software providers can implement subject line testing to improve the open rates and test new keywords within the subject line (as seen in the Image 3 Below).

Image 3: Shows an example of subject line test for email communications.

Content Strategies by Segmentation

Based on the information that’s available for keyword research, you can develop and test content strategies based on keyword research and trends. For example, Table 1 above shows the keyword “home mortgage loan” for females between the ages of 25-34 as being consistent with the audience. By implementing keywords and content, the likelihood of the content being read, as well as its click-through rates, social media sharing, and conversions, will increase.

More Insight into What Works by Segment

If you’re running a SEO or Pay per Click campaign, it’s important to leverage this information and not “reinvent the wheel.” Some of this information is accessible via Google Analytics, WebTrends, Omniture, etc., but you need to differentiate what works and what does not. Don’t just stop at the conversion itself. Look into the segments, subject lines, and content messages that are leading to quotes, leads, and sales. It is recommended that you simplify the reporting to more clearly align the campaigns, keywords, segments, and content strategies with completed actions on the website or within the email campaigns.