The Importance of Encouragement

Hello dear readers,

discouragedBeen super duper busy (nothing seems to change), but I feel I just have to throw something out – if no other reason than to get myself back on track here. By the way, I’m in the final stages of preparing my self hosted blog, more on that soon. Enough blabber, let’s get on with it.

We Work Hard.

While I certainly don’t speak for everyone, I’d like to think that most of us in this industry work pretty darn hard for our clients – often times going above and beyond scope to make sure our client’s campaigns are as successful as possible. I know for myself, a 50-60+ hour work week is the norm, and my wife has to tell me to stop working more than she should. Even still, I love what I do so much that I find myself researching blogs, reading marketing, copywriting or programming books and running experiments even during my free time. It’s hard to imagine a more exciting, or rewarding career.

Enter: The Jerk.

These people live to ruin your day. They show up around every corner – and their words or actions can cut deeper than any knife. One of the most telling examples of the power that ‘the jerk’ has was described by Muzz Skillings from the band Living Color. After being asked what it felt like to perform in front of 60,000+ screaming concertgoers as the opening act for the Rolling Stones, Muzz said (paraphrased):

All I remember was running across the stage from side to side, taking it all in while we played our songs – it was the greatest feeling in the world – until my eyes landed on someone 10-15 rows out on the stadium floor. He stood there unmoving, his hand raised, with his middle finger pointing straight up at me. Out of all those screaming fans, that’s what’s stuck in my head…

I’m wagering that you’ve been there before, also. Maybe you created a design that you were really proud of, only to have someone tell you it’s crap. Perhaps, despite your best efforts and hard work,  you failed – and then you were told how worthless you are. (geesh, that WOULD suck…I’m getting depressed here.) What I’m trying to say is this: negative comments can consume you and prevent you from trying to be great – if you let them.

What if…

But what if someone you respected came up to you today and told you how much you were appreciated – that they really like what you do, and said keep it up – how would that make you feel? The point is, even though most of us know that we can’t win every battle or please every person, we still WANT to know that someone appreciates us. I don’t care who you are, or what you do – everyone likes to hear some encouraging words. If you’ve ever had someone come along and say just the right thing at exactly the right time, you know exactly what I mean.

So here’s the skinny:

Today, this week, heck – even this month – try and encourage someone. If it’s a design you like, email the designer personally and let them know how great you think it is – if it’s a blogger you read a lot, or maybe just found – let them know something they said helped you, or that you think they’re really great and you just thought you’d tell them.  Even if don’t agree with what they say, instead of putting them down – provide some positive feedback and maybe direct them to some additional resources if their information is wrong. (note: stalking someone and showing up at their home to give them a hug may be going a bit too far, so try and use your best judgement.)

I’ll leave this post with a rather excellent quote from Jesse Jackson – “Never look down on somebody unless you’re helping them up.”

Now go do something wonderful today – I know you’ve got it in you.


Google Analytics Intelligence Feature Insights

google analytics intelligence dashboard menu

Google Analytics new intelligence feature is heaven sent.

The new intelligence option within your analytics account allows you to create non-destructive custom filters which are then immediately applied to both current andhistorical data.

This speeds up the analysis time immeasurably, as you no longer have to fumble through exporting data into separate spreadsheets and workbooks, refresh pivot tables, etc. to find the answers you’re looking for.



Google offers up some template starter alerts, which are fine if you only want to know if something horrible is happening, but creating a custom alert is so easy there really isn’t any excuse for not doing it.

You can only filter on 2 fields –

one dimension field:

dimension alert

dimension alert choices

and one metric field.


google alert metrics

but it does give you some pretty great info, for example:

google analytics custom report

google analytics intelligence report information

This comes in very handy if you’re running multiple campaigns across several different marketing channels, or you want to monitor changes in revenue from day to day from different visitor segments – there really is a lot you can do with this once you dig in.

And while this type of information is very nice, the frosting on top is this handy bar graph –

google analytics importance bar chart

This 'importance' bar graph helps you make sense of it all.

It’s too early for me to say how relevant this actually is, but the idea is solid. Get immediate insight into the data that matters. And you’re not limited to only daily alert views either, you can also choose weekly or monthly views – probably the better choice for analysis for most small to mid size companies running minor ad campaigns.

Gotta give some love to Google on this one.

Social Media Marketing Keeps on Growing and Growing…


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%)


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.

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!

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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.

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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.

Ranking Factors for Local Search – All You Need to Know

Talk about choice paralysis.

Talk about choice paralysis.

Local Search Is Hot.

…which may suck for you, depending on where your or your client’s business is located. We all know by know that Google is returning search results for many queries based on the searchers IP address, regardless of whether or not that search includes a geographic modifier – e.g. spicy pizza, brooklyn.

As diligent marketers or small business owners, we make sure to list our sites in the local business centers for Google, Yahoo and MSN, but is that ALL we need to do, or is there something we’re overlooking? No need to wonder anymore, as we know have an excellent resource to reference – Local Search Ranking Factors for 2009 – courtesy of David Mihm, and the 20 search marketing experts that participated in the report. Besides being beatiful, and very similar in presentation to Rand Fishkin’s Search Ranking Factors Report, it makes a strong case for – or against – all those rumors you constantly hear from different camps.

Without giving away much at all, some factors that most experts agree have positive affects on the “10-pack” of search results include:

  • making sure you only have ONE business listing per address or phone number.
  • associating local business listing with the proper categories
  • getting customer reviews!
  • citations from major data providers and Internet Yellow page-type sites
  • including your city, state in the title tags of your site

On the flip side, some possibly negative factors that won’t help, and may just hurt:

  • using an 800 number for your PRIMARY phone number
  • using a P.O. box for your business without a physical address
  • assuming local search doesn’t matter

This barely scratches the surface – I strongly encourage you to check the full list out, and bookmark it as a resource to reference whenever you start a new SEO/SEM campaign. Nice work guys!

Google Now Shows LINKS, Adwords Ads in Search Suggestion Dropdown!

Just stumbled on this today –

Apparently Google is including actual hyperlinks for SOME websites – directly in the search suggestion box on Google’s homepage. I’ve included some screenshots to show how it appears, in case you’re not seeing it when you search.

I started looking for a cosmetic dentist, when lo and behold....

I started looking for a cosmetic dentist, when lo and behold....

I wonder how much this is costing these advertisers…

Of course CNN should have a link. Not like Google doesn't already love them.

Of course CNN should have a link. Not like Google doesn't already love them.

I wonder if they’ll give a link to Fox as well  –

guess that answers that. Maybe they're not paying enough, or anything at all.

guess that answers that. Maybe they're not paying enough, or anything at all.

But wait, it doesn’t stop there- they’re even shoving in adwords ads.

Because there's just not enough places to cram a text ad already.

Because there's just not enough places to cram a text ad already.

For now, it looks like it’s only happening with big budget advertisers, and only on their brand names, but I didn’t really spend a lot of time researching – so I guess we’ll have to wait and find out.  If you know anything about this rolling out for everyone, please let me know too!