Social Media Marketing Keeps on Growing and Growing…

crowd_of_tweeters

Time to Jump on the Social Bandwagon, tweets …er I mean Peeps.

According to the most recent study from the Center for Media Research and InsightExpress,  more than HALF of all marketers next year are planning on incorporating some form of social media marketing into their arsenal.

Social Media and Online Marketing will surpass traditional marketing (print, tv, radio) by almost 15% in 2010 (57 % vs. 43%), based on the answers of more than 1,100 marketers that responded between the last half of July and early August of this year.

Most popular media for 2010:

  • Email, with 56.8% realistically planning to use it
  • Social networks, at 56.3%
  • Keyword search (49.7%)
  • Radio (42.2%)
  • Magazines (42.1%)
  • Online display (40.5%)
  • Event sponsorship (36.9%)
  • Rich media display (35.5%)
  • Direct mail (34.7%)
  • Regional TV (32.8%)
  • Regional newspapers (31.7%)
  • Out-of-home (31.2%)
  • Email sponsorship (29.5%)
  • Online video (26.7%)
  • Mobile SMS text (26.1%)
  • National TV (18.2%)
  • National newspapers (14.8%)

FINAL THOUGHTS

There are some surprises here (for me, at least). Almost 32% of marketers are still choosing regional newspapers to advertise in? Maybe their market is different than mine, but the only ads I see in the paper anymore are for escort services and trash haulers.

I say keep an eye out for DOOH (digital-out-of-home) marketing. I’ve seen them testing some of these displays at restaurants and retail chains – I stop almost every time I see one. Of course, I also get tempted to call and order everything I see on HSN when I watch it my wife is watching it.

A Funny…or Not so Funny Government Screwup. You Decide.

I usually try and stay away from politics, but…

What’s wrong with this picture?

I mean, cmon - it's not like we work with numbers or anything...

I mean, cmon - it's not like we work with numbers or anything...

Maybe it’s just late and I’m tired, but does the legend match the chart? I’m thinking…..no.

No wonder Obama’s ranting about ” out of control ” insurance costs! It looks like the problem was with the GRANT money. Well, glad that problem’s solved.

Oh, you can see the image for yourself in all it’s glory at http://www.usaspending.gov/. And they’re using google’s url chart builder for the chart. I’m thinking someone transposed some numbers somewhere…..good thing they’re not in charge of spending or any…thing.

UPDATE: Sept 3, 2009 –

Who says the government can’t act quickly? I’d like to think that they discovered this problem on their own and corrected it but the conspiratorial side of me thinks that there’s probably some giant ‘wargames’ style room where any blogpost mentioning the us government gets thrown on one of the giant monitor screens and analyzed immediately.  🙂

Google Analytics New Pivot Table Feature Rocks!

Love the Pivot.

I flipped on my computer to give a quick glance at my clients’ analytics when I noticed a new option in the view bar:

The new pivot table icon in Google Analytics

The new pivot table icon in Google Analytics

Well, as soon as I saw that – my heart stopped.

Could it be the new pivot table feature I’ve been waiting on? Only one way to find out….

It keeps getting better.

I want to show you everything, but I also don’t want to be up all night writing this so I’m going to rip through some screenshots and then hopefully you can run along and experiment for yourself (assuming you’ve got access to this as well….)

There's a LOT of information for you to explore.

There's a LOT of information for you to explore.

Have you looked at the map location view by city and wondered ” I wish I could see which source brought the most visitors from that city…” only to realize that you’d have to create some advanced segment report to get that info?  Not anymore you don’t.

Or how about this –

2009-08-31 10-04-59 PM

Which referring source sends the most engaged visitors from your top cities? This is a job for the pivot feature!

2009-08-31 10-04-26 PM

And it works on the goal conversions tabs as well….

Maybe I’m just way more geeky than most people, but I get giddy with this stuff.

2009-08-31 10-11-02 PM2009-08-31 10-05-56 PM

So this is how it works from what I’ve messed with so far:

  • The 2 gray drop-down boxes above the table are the Metrics you can choose from (don’t shoot me if I’m wrong. my brain is a little fuzzy right now…) – both boxes contain the same selections, but it doesn’t really matter too much because…
  • The real attraction here is the pivot box (in blue – above the left column). It populates a row above the metrics you’re displaying – this brings the awesomeness.
  • yes – you can export as well, but it may take a little more tweaking on my side to figure that out properly. Selecting a pivot dropdown for keywords for example, creates a long list of columns- but it appeared that on export I only got the columns visible on the screen. Maybe it’s best to use the API for those type of queries..

…and that’s all I know so far. OH – except that it appears that you have some really cool grouping features in your advanced segments as well. Advanced segments with pivot table features – all without leaving the browser. How could you NOT think this is awesome?

How Many Visitors CAN Your Website Convert?

You’re on top of your game, providing compelling content – researching trending keywords – even running test PPC campaigns before optimizing organically. But chances are that no matter what you do, you’re only converting a small percentage of your visitors. Have you ever stopped and asked yourself…why?

First off, let’s make one thing perfectly clear. No one converts 100% of their website traffic. No one.

With that out of the way, the next logical question to ask would be: How much of my traffic CAN I convert?

50% – 30% -10% – 5%…..?

The question is rhetorical, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t TRY and find out the answer. In Tim Ash’s excellent book, Landing Page Optimization, he discusses the “Myth of Perfect Conversion” based on previous client data.  The basic premise is this: roughly HALF of your visitors will NEVER say yes, regardless of what you do. Even if you are hyper-targeting your audience, it’s very doubtful you’re converting upwards of 50% of your traffic. (unless you only get 10 visits a month, and even then….)

He breaks it down even further, by integrating the no-maybe’s and yes-maybe’s into the mix, as shown in the image below. (click image for larger view.)

visit_to_conversion_ratioMost sites that are converting 0.1 – 2.0% of their visitors are probably only getting those conversions from visitors that would buy their product or service no matter what changes they make on their site. They’re either convinced that you’re the only one that has what they need, don’t have time to go somewhere else, or are strong-willed and feel compelled to do whatever it takes to complete their task – no matter how hard you make it for them. Thank goodness there are people like this out there. Unfortunately, there just aren’t ENOUGH of them.

The no’s on the other hand – well, they’re just like the yes’s, but opposite. NOTHING you do is going to get them to convert. Maybe they just happened to click on your site by accident, maybe they’re from out of town and they’re looking for someone local, or maybe they’re looking for your competitor instead. Segmenting out this portion of your audience is crucial to increasing your conversions for the remaining group.

This leaves the maybes: yes-maybes, maybe-maybes, and no-maybes.  How do you change their minds? There are three things you need to do, and I bet you already know them:

1. Track everything – banner ads, on-site call to actions, transactions, etc.

2. Analyze – where are they coming from, what pages are they landing on, what paths are they taking, which keywords brought them to your site, which keywords convert, etc…

3. Test variations and Optimize – Start simple. change one thing, and analyze results. If you test too many things at once, you make it much more difficult on yourself to try and figure out WHICH of the things you changed made the difference. You can also wreck your current conversion rate in the process, which you DON’T want to happen.

We get push-back sometimes from our clients when we tell them we need to run some test variations – mostly because of the time it takes. So we often start very small and simple, changing an image or a heading font or some text, etc. Once we show them how the small changes can create significant actions with their visitors, they tend to sign on and get more involved – which is the best thing that can happen. Experimentation is key, because the fact is – none of us know for sure which change is going to have the biggest impact.

Anne Holland’s landing page testing site is a great place to test your intuition – I highly recommend it.

SEO help using Google Local Business Center

Aw man, I feel like such a jerk.

I haven’t posted on here in almost a month because I’ve been SLAMMED busy, which I guess is good. Feel free to throw eggs or tomatoes at your monitor, if it makes you feel better. Just clean up your mess when you’re done, children.

On with the goodies :

You may have already heard about Google’s new features in their local business center, but just in case you’ve been as busy as I have, I’m going to show off a little of what I think is pretty darn cool about these new dashboard features.

For the sake of this post, I’m going to ass|u|me that you’ve already claimed or registered your site with Google LBC (if not, please finish reading this post, then go here and do that.)

Before I show you the cool dashboard stuff, I should also give you some tips in the event your client (or you) are not showing up in the google 10-pack (organic search map listings) even though your site is listed in google local business center. I just went through this situation with a client recently, so I might as well share the experience with you…

1. check for multiple listings – remove any listings you won’t be able to verify (old address locations, different business names, etc), making sure to explain in the comments that you’re trying to make everything better – I can’t guarantee this will help, but things went pretty smooth for me, all things considered (I had to eliminate 6 additional listings). As a side note, it may serve you well to identify WHICH remaining identical listings has the best reviews associated with them – before you dump it.

2. make sure you know who your competition is and what you want to rank for BEFORE creating your map listing title – if you change it after verification, you’re going to have to revalidate the listing. If you’re not sure how to optimize your lbc content, or any local search content,  you should also check out this must read post on local search ranking factors by David Mihm.

3. wait it out – It took almost a month from start to finish for me to get everything fixed up for this client; 1 day to fix all the issues, 3-4 weeks waiting time for verification. Within one day of verification, they started popping up for a myriad of search queries related to their business. Way, way more than I had anticipated at the start – which leads me back into the point of this post, how using LBC can also help your SEO efforts.

The first thing I noticed when going back into local business center after they made their updates was this bad boy: (click image to view full)

dashboard_chart

That’s pretty cool right?

Much like Google’s Webmaster Tools service, LBC provides helpful feedback on what search queries your website is showing up in the map section of organic search results. I love that it breaks it down between impression data (which you’ll never know about unless you’re running adwords) and action data. The only bummer there is that you don’t which click-throughs to your site actually came from your lbc listing – unless you’re smart and tagged the url when you created your listing. Of course you’ll need some type of analytics to review that, but I KNOW you’re already doing that, right?

But that’s not all!

search_queryInfo

Aside from the great search query data Google tells you, it also lets you know where requests for driving directions came from, aggregated by zip code for your viewing ease. This could be handy for a variety of marketing purposes – great info prior to sending out a direct mail campaign, or tv ad, etc…of course the data will probably suck if you haven’t optimized your site or listing correctly in the first place. But we’ll save that for another time.

Anyway, get busy with optimizing your local listings people! You’re doing yourself and your client a dis-service if you don’t! And don’t neglect Bing!

Improve Your Analytics Analysis by Defining Users

userDefinedreport

This post will be discussing some of the more advanced reporting features of Google Analytics – be warned!

So you’re digging into your Google Analytics – whipping out custom segments, filtering out your office traffic, creating custom reports – when you notice that elusive, mysterious “user-defined” report staring at you from the visitors menu.

“What IS the User Defined Report?” you ask yourself….so you click it and get to a page that looks like this:

the typical user defined value page in Google Analytics

the typical user defined value page in Google Analytics

…which helps you – not at all.

Don’t feel bad, like you’re the only idiot that’s not using this feature. But also don’t ignore it, because it’s a powerful little feature indeed.

First off, to answer the question -“why would I WANT to use it?”, let’s consider a very common scenario.You’re running a website where you actually sell something, it could be an e-commerce site, a subscription based site, etc…

How are you going to differentiate those visitors that have already purchased from you or subscribed to your site from the typical repeat visitor? Sure, you can track visitors that log in, but what if they don’t log in during their visit?

That’s where our friend,  pageTracker._setVar,  comes in.

Navigate to the page where this visitor would complete their transaction, or registration, etc. Go to where you inserted your analytics tracking code on that page – now simply assign a label, such as “customer”, to the pageTracker._setVar variable, adding it into your existing tracking code, and PRESTO! – you are now able to identify those visitors that have purchased, subscribed, whatever…

Here’s an example from Google’s analytics blog discussing this subject.

<script type=”text/javascript”> var gaJsHost = ((“https:” == document.location.protocol) ? “https://ssl.&#8221; : “http://www.&#8221;); document.write(unescape(“%3Cscript src='” + gaJsHost + “google-analytics.com/ga.js’ type=’text/javascript’%3E%3C/script%3E”)); </script> <script type=”text/javascript”> try { var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker(“UA-XXXXXXX-1”); pageTracker._trackPageview(); pageTracker._setVar(”customers”); } catch(err) {}</script>

The way this works is that you’re telling Google to set an additional cookie on the visitors computer that will report back to Google each time they visit your site – assuming they don’t delete their cookies during browsing sessions – or use a different computer to visit your site – or turn off javascript…( those are issues you have to deal with anyway, so nothing out of the ordinary)

This is an excellent way of segmenting specific user groups without wasting a lot of time.

There are some issues to be aware of though, as Google points out – most importantly the fact that Google Analytics is only capable of storing one custom segment at any one time for one website. They mention the LunaMetrics site, which has code which supports multiple labels, but I think there are still some issues there. Here’s the complete techie explanation on _setVar.

Simple but Useful Calculators for SEOs, Internet Marketers

marketing number crunchingIt’s Wednesday calling. I need a miracle.

How often does this happen?….You’ve got 50 things that need to get done today and now you’ve got : (pick one or many)

  1. a meeting with the CEO in 10 min. to discuss trimming back your traditional marketing dept.
  2. a big potential SEO client that’s interested but is coming in so that you can seal the deal.
  3. an existing client calling to let you know they “think” their new site design is ineffective, even though it JUST went live.
  4. to show the estimated value of all your social media efforts.

What do you do?

No, no, no – even though it sounds bad, you can’t just off yourself.

If you had asked me this question 5 years back though, I would’ve suggested you simply walk out to your car to get something you forgot – and then told you to either trip in the parking lot, making sure to hit your face on the asphalt,  or throw yourself down the escalator – anywhere a good number of people can vouch for the severity of the incident, since you won’t be able to talk, or see straight- hopefully earning you a few days off. Lucky for you, it’s 5 years later, and there are some really helpful tools that can accomplish (or at least assist) many of the above tasks without eating up your entire day.

And you didn’t even have to get out of your chair – or maim yourself – to find them. Let’s get started by listing the appropriate calculator for the job:

Meeting with the CEO in 10 min. to discuss trimming back our marketing dept.

marketing_staff_calc

marketing_staff_results

Marketsmith’s Marketing Staff Calculator will help you determine the number of staff members you need in your marketing department (excluding web-related functions & print buying).

big potential SEO client that’s interested but is coming in so that you can seal the deal

roi_caclulator

Siteposition’s Conversion Rate Calculators lead costs, figures in management and setup costs for SEO and PPC, and provides quick and dirty ROI numbers for those times when you just need some rough numbers to know whether or not going further is even worth the effort.

an existing client calling to let you know they “think” their new site design is ineffective, even though it JUST went live

landingpage_calclandingpage_test

Marketo’s Landing Page Testing Calculator is really handy, offering the “say what?” options as default. In less than 1 minute, it’ll return the recommended testing time and number of versions to test to ensure valid results.Resist the urge to get defensive and argue with them – just say “no problem, let’s test that theory” – and then rip out these numbers off the cuff, making sure to ask them what  confidence level % they require from you to minimize false positives and negatives.  They’ll leave the conversation reassured and smiling. hopefully.

show the estimated value of all your social media efforts.

social_media_calculatorsocial_media_calculator1

Oh crap. If you knew the answer to this, your trouble’s would be over. After all, isn’t it “impossible” to gauge the value of social media efforts, since there are so many unknown, untrackable variables?

Probably, but fortunately for you Dragonsearch created a social networking media ROI calculator anyway. Does it work accurately? I have no idea – but something is better than nothing, which is what you’ve got right now. It does factor in social network account setup time, # of posts, hourly monitoring and activity time – but also leaves it up to you to assign values to fields such as “word of  mouth” and “story value”, so don’t expect your CFO to fall for these numbers. But hey, you’re in marketing – you should be good at making stuff up and getting people to buy in. That’s what you do.