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Marketing Analytics and Tracking – Do It Now!

October 13, 2014 Leave a comment

marketing trackingThough 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

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.

Tracking Links

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.

Sales Tracking

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.

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Email Marketing Tactics – 3 Factors

October 8, 2014 2 comments

emailmarketingSome people think email marketing has lost value with the rise of social media. Recent studies show it has better return on investment than social but businesses are still moving away from it. That’s good news for people who still use it. Less competition!

Today I’m going to discuss three factors that influence email marketing results. For this business, I’ve been testing email campaigns to Realtors using different subject lines, offers, content and timing. Let’s look at a few results.

Assumptions – I’m assuming tracking is in place. With anti-spam laws the way they are, it is dangerous and costly to just BCC a campaign from your email client. Using a third party service limits your liability and provides tracking.

Factor 1 – Subject Lines

This is what people see in their inbox. If it’s not catchy or specific, your open rates will suffer. Consider the following example:

 

emailmarketingsubjectline

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I mailed two separate campaigns to the same list. My not so great subject line of “Free Marketing Evaluation – Our Gift to You” got a 2.5% open rate. That’s not very good, especially considering the alternate below it got a nearly 4% open rate. My next campaign to the same list got a 16.47% open rate. In email marketing that’s a home run! The subject line was “Worried About the Zillow/Trulia Merger?” The difference was three fold; it asked a question, it was timely to a recent industry change, it exposed a pain point.

Factor 2 – Design

With that success in the books, I decided to improve. In my haste to get the guide out, I threw together the email. This time I used a better designed template, a different list of my target market and the same subject line.

emailmarketingdesign

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That home run from before just became a grand slam. The open rate improved to 20.22%! Was it the design? No. Design has no impact on the open rate because it’s not seen before the email is opened! It was the list. This was a new list that had never seen anything from me.

Factor 3 – Timing

At this point I was pretty pleased with myself. I had another never mailed to list of my target market and I was really hoping to make a big impact on this mailing. I had considered sending it out on a Saturday afternoon with a different subject line, but I didn’t want to tweak something I didn’t feel needed to be changed.

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Click to enlarge

So I scheduled it to go out first thing Monday morning. The results were alarming! Even though this was an exact duplicate of the “home run” email campaign, the open rate was a disappointing 6.7%. This is still much better than the other campaigns I’d sent, but there was a huge drop off. Both the other campaigns were sent later in the week in the afternoon and evening.

Takeaways

Open rates are just one part of a successful email campaign. Optimizing your open rates improves your chances for branding, leads and sales. Like direct mail, the biggest challenge with email marketing is getting people to see your message. Test and retest your subject lines so you know what works with your target audience. Once you’ve found a successful strategy, build upon it.

Keep refining your email lists. Every campaign you send eliminates dead email addresses and people who don’t want your message. That means your stats will improve, but you have to keep sending mail.

Finally, timing is everything whether it’s social media posts or email. Once you find a good time, target your marketing around it.

Unknown Search Results Make SEO Harder

October 6, 2014 1 comment

unknownresultsGoogle has been encrypting keyword searches for several years now. That makes web searching more private for users, but a lot more complicated for web marketers. In a blog post from 2011, Google claimed,

Over the next few weeks, many of you will find yourselves redirected to https://www.google.com (note the extra “s”) when you’re signed in to your Google Account. This change encrypts your search queries and Google’s results page. This is especially important when you’re using an unsecured Internet connection, such as a WiFi hotspot in an Internet cafe.

Some controversy developed at the time, but as secured browsing has grown, I hardly see search keywords in my reports any more. Part of the controversy has to do with the fact Google continues to display specific keyword searches for its ad program; AdWords. It makes sense to use secured browsing when surfing on a public connection. I’m just not sure I can buy into allowing paid advertisers access when website operators typically keep their organic search reports private.

Unfortunately for small businesses, it’s changes like this where having a professional working for you can be of benefit. There are some pretty complicated solutions detailed here that I won’t go into in this article.

What I will go into are two straightforward workarounds that can still provide the information you’re looking for.

The first is to examine user behavior on your site’s pages. Pages that get traffic are typically ranked. Digging a little will tell you which keywords are on that page and you can have a general idea of which keywords are bringing visitors to your site.

But what if you have a campaign or publicized link out there? Could that skew your results? Yes it could! Which leads me to step two…

ALWAYS use a tracking code for links you promote. What’s a tracking code? It’s a simple bit of php you put on the end of a URL. For example this is the link to the Guide I’m promoting:

http://www.swabymedia.com/downloads/ZTGuide.pdf

This is the same link with tracking code:

http://www.swabymedia.com/downloads/ZTGuide.pdf?src=test

It’s the “?” that initiates the code. You can put whatever you want after that. I use src to indicate a source and test can be anything you want. If I posted this to Facebook I could use –

http://www.swabymedia.com/downloads/ZTGuide.pdf?src=fb

For Twitter –

http://www.swabymedia.com/downloads/ZTGuide.pdf?src=tw

If you use multiple posts to the same source you can track them in more detail by adding a numeric code or date like this –

http://www.swabymedia.com/downloads/ZTGuide.pdf?src=fb1

http://www.swabymedia.com/downloads/ZTGuide.pdf?src=fb100614

BEFORE you publish the tracking code be sure to test it! You don’t want to spend time or money publicizing a link for it to go to your 404 not found page.

I have been an advocate of tracking codes for a very long time. Google’s encryption of keywords is going to force smart marketers to have to use them 100% of the time. Or you can just buy ads…

Blogger Quick Tips – Measuring Your Social Media

October 8, 2009 Leave a comment

blogger quick tipsWhile there is some debate about the effectiveness of social media, there are a ton of different tools and widgets that perform some kind of tracking.  I recently found two that do a good job of measuring social media presence.

Where you’re foundAddictomatic shows an at a glance snapshot of where your website is found.  Whether it’s Twitter or YouTube or Google, this site will show you.  If you’re not listed in certain areas, that’s a target for you to fill in.  When you search on your subject, you’ll also get an Addictomatic page automatically listed in the search engines.  Nice!

What’s being saidSocialMention is a pretty informative site that shows a number of metrics to think about for your site or brand.  It breaks down mentions by blogs, microblogs, news and many other categories too many to name in this short post.  Take a look here for more information.

If you have any other recommendations, leave a comment and tell me about it.

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