Though I shouldn’t be surprised, I still am when I talk to a business about their marketing tracking. John Wanamaker is credited with saying “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” With online marketing, that problem can be easily solved, yet many businesses don’t do it.
I learned early on with this business how critical tracking is. What I do is intangible until it produces results. That doesn’t mean I’m not working and doing things. Reporting gives my clients something tangible to see while the effects of my work build.
A huge challenge I keep running in to is the lack of existing tracking. Every thing you do online can be tracked, yet so many businesses don’t take advantage of it. You can track web traffic, keywords, search rankings. You can track traffic from social media. You can track phone calls. All of this is practically automatic! A little prep work and maybe a little money is all you need. Then you won’t waste half your advertising.
Now I’m going to share three tracking methods you should have in place right now.
Analytics track everything that goes on with your website. From the number of visitors, to the pages visited, analytics tracking software will tell you everything about your website. Google Analytics is robust, easy to install and free. If you don’t have it, get it now.
Some businesses need better software than Google and it’s out there. The most used premium analytics package is Adobe’s SiteCatalyst.
People often ask me how social media can be tracked. Using analytics is one way. You can see which social media channels are providing traffic. The tools within each channel are another way. Likes, comments, re-tweets and follows are all signals of engagement. But if you want to be more specific, you’ll want tracking links. I provided a pretty solid tutorial here.
A tracking link doesn’t even have to go to a page. It can go to an image or a file. You can place specific tracking links for each ad campaign you run. Tracking links are even usable for offline advertising! Do you have any print advertising or billboards? Use a specific URL like http://www.yourdomain/adchannel or a URL shortener that’s customized. You can track every bit of advertising you have!
What about phone calls? I’m glad you asked.
Tracking Phone Numbers
Phone intensive industries should have tracking numbers on all campaigns. If you have a phone number on your website, it should be unique so you know where that call came from. Dynamic Interactive offers customized 800 and local phone numbers for tracking. Their interactive menu allows you to track calls, record calls, offer voice mail and mark inbound calls so even the smallest of businesses can answer professionally. Any advertising you do with a phone number should be tracked in this manner.
Once you have marketing tracking in place, you must have a system to track leads. Otherwise true return on investment can never be calculated. It’s also helpful to figure out if you’re missing sales opportunities due to poor follow-up of leads.
A business really doesn’t know how its marketing is doing unless proper tracking is in place. Website tracking analytics, tracking links, tracking phone numbers and sales tracking are the foundation of measuring your marketing and advertising. You’ll never have to wonder what part of your advertising is being wasted if you prepare with tracking.
The recent announcement of the merger between Zillow and Trulia has a lot of real estate agents concerned. So I did a little research to see if real estate agents could compete post merger. The short answer is they can. You can find the long answer and ways how here.
While I was researching the guide, I decided to do a little test. Could I make a real estate listing post on a Facebook business page and have it show up in a Google search result? My hypothesis was it would get ranked. A few days ago I checked Google to find out. Here’s what I found.
I was a little surprised this site showed up. I have feeds set so when I publish something to Facebook, it also goes to Twitter. My Twitter feed shows up here on my right sidebar.
The entire Twitter post showed up as well. So did another page from this site. That one post on Facebook got three search results on Google.
But I haven’t found the Facebook post itself to be ranked…and it was the source for the content.
My takeaways from this experiment follow-
1. My hypothesis was the Facebook post would get ranked. It didn’t…yet. (I’ll provide an update if that changes.)
2. Social media posts do get ranked. Even if I had no followers on Twitter, a thoughtfully written tweet would get ranked.
3. There is so much power in syndication. I made one post that went multiple places and got ranked at least three times. Every serious online business should be doing this! It’s one of the reasons I said in my guide that every real estate agent should be using an IDX feed.
Despite Google’s never ending algorithm changes…think Hummingbird and Panda…there are still search engine optimization tactics that continue to work. One of these is image optimization through tagging. Taking the small step of naming your images with your keywords used to have enormous benefit.
It still does. If you click on the image in this post, you’ll notice several things. First of all, I found this in reviewing my web stats. The photo is sending me traffic from Pinterest. Pinterest links to my article that contains the photo and it even shows other photos that are found on this blog.
Secondly, the photo was found on Google image search and then posted to Pinterest. What was the reason it was found on Google? I renamed the image with the keyword I was using for the article! So parts of the article title were repeated in the image and even four years later, the image is still ranked in the top five of Google images.
Now this is the part I find really interesting. The searched image was then pinned to Pinterest so it can be found using social media channels as well. I’m entirely convinced social media will decrease the influence search marketing has. However, examples like this show how complementary social and SEO can be. Social is impacting search in a major way. It’s up to online marketers to survey the landscape and make adjustments as necessary.
It seems to me image tagging is still an effective tactic for search and social.
I’ve been feeling guilty about all the changes taking place in social media without throwing in my own thoughts. Here I present the 10 commandments of social media:
1. Thou shalt have no other significant media presence than online – Sure you can throw a few bucks to placate your ad rep, but know real tracking, real engagement and real results are happening online.
2. Thou shalt not communicate drunk – Don’t tweet, blog or Facebook drunk. There will be fewer faux pas and you won’t be slizzerd to your next meeting, update or post.
3. Thou shalt be transparent – Real engagement takes place when people feel a real connection. Faking reality won’t get you anywhere.
4. Thou shalt obey thy client – Never forget your client knows their product, their service and their client better than you. Embrace it as an advantage. Don’t discredit your client.
5. Thou shalt remain professional and not steal successful campaigns – Copy, borrow and perform homages to successful campaigns you didn’t pull off, but to your own self be true. Don’t be derivative…unless it’s clever in a way the world has never seen before!
6. Thou shalt remain on topic – If you’re talking about your client, then talk about them! Not your other clients, not you, not your beefs with the world…
7. Thou shalt not cross promote clients – If client Y is paying you to talk about client Y, why are you actually talking about client Z, temp project B and pet cause J? Unless you have specific permission from all interests mentioned to cross promote, keep things as you contracted. Talk about client Y and Y related subjects on their channel. Form a separate campaign for client Z. Find the proper alliances for temp project B and leave pet cause J to the proper channels.
8. Thou shalt not disparage competitors – Your client may be the greatest iteration of sliced bread since, well, the first iteration of sliced bread, but social media is not the medium to put down chunked bread or torn bread or pre-chewed bread. All are worthy competitors to your client. Let your client’s audience form their own opinion.
9. Thou shalt not lie…about your client – If your client wants to lie about themselves, let that be on them. You’re the social media expert! Lying is not part of your game, or is it? The simple truth is situations thrown into the light will develop their own answers. You can not lie with social media…for long. So don’t do it.
Eventually, you will be found out. That’s what I teach anyway. Hiding things in this age only invites closer scrutiny. My biggest fear is the person that exposes all for a temporary sense of freedom and release.
10. Thou shalt schedule posts for your day off. – I worked retail for many years. One of the best lessons I learned was that of delegation. With social media, it may seem a day off isn’t possible. I suggest delegating to technology what we have to work for now and that is providing content.
Tools like HootSuite and Twitter allow users to schedule posts in advance or retweet other good content that can be made to show up on a blog. If you want to get real creative with syndicating content, use the Posterous bookmarklet to add a comment to an article you’re reading and then publish the quote of the story and your comment to your site as a new post! Posterous even provides a link back to the original source.
I’m sure this is not an all-inclusive list, but it’s certainly a start. Please leave your suggestions in the comments.
People who don’t “get” Twitter often ask me what it’s really good for. Charlie Sheen isn’t the only one getting some mileage out of the microblogging service. I tell people it’s a real-time search engine. If there’s one takeaway from this article for you, I want that to be it.
In the example above, I asked a question about something I didn’t know about. Within minutes I had an answer…from somebody I trust. While I don’t know this person in real life, I do know their expertise and found it to be trustworthy. I also received responses from two other people I didn’t know with a few other suggestions.
My biggest concern was finding a host with easy WordPress installation. I know what’s a competitive price for hosting and Dreamhost was slightly higher than what I’d been paying. I checked out Dreamhost’s site from a link in their Twitter profile and everything looked good. When I went to sign up, it asked for a discount code. I didn’t have one, so I Googled it. Within seconds I found one that discounted the price $97. For $22, I got a year of hosting with a one click WordPress install.
It’s not all the way up yet, but my new SEO website is at least presentable. That is the value of Twitter.
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