Using Google Analytics in a Few Clicks

On March 22nd, Chicago AMA members and guests gathered at 1871 to hear from Google Analytics expert, Andy Crestodina. In addition to being the Co-Founder and Strategic Director at Orbit Media, he also serves as a mentor at 1871, an Adjunct Professor at Loyola; and was named in the “Top 10 Online Experts I’m Following in 2015” by Forbes Magazine. The night’s topic was “Applied Google Analytics: Insights and Actions,” a presentation that he will be giving as a keynote speaker at an upcoming conference–and we were lucky enough to hear it first!

A well-seasoned speaker, Crestodina breezed through his slides with the ease of a professor teaching his most passionate subject. In fact, he joked that if his soon-to-be-born child could learn one thing, he hoped it would be Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). His over-arching statement is this: Traffic times your Conversion Rate is what will equal success for your website.

Let’s take a look at how he illustrated this throughout the evening. The broad topics covered were:

  • Reporting vs. Analysis: How most marketers get Analytics wrong
  • Turning ideas into questions
  • Analytics Insights
  • Audience Insights: WHO is visiting?
  • Acquisition Insights: WHERE are they coming from?
  • Behavior Insights: WHAT are they doing here?
  • Conversion Insights: WHICH pieces of content are successful?

Before diving into the tips and tricks of Google Analytics, Crestodina ensured that the group was on the same playing field by quizzing the audience on the difference between data (pages of reports) and analytics (words written about those reports).

Analytics are KEY to your business, and he likened them to being the driving wheel of your company–you wouldn’t just hand that over to anyone, would you? He encouraged each of us to take the driver’s wheel and learn to run these reports, perform the analytics and cautioned against outsourcing the analytics 100% to an outside firm.

Additionally, once you have the analytics in front of you, he encouraged the asking of questions, putting the answers into actionable tasks and performing a series of tests to ensure the path taken was helpful, fruitful and profitable to your company.

The reports sections included and discussed in his presentation were: Audience, Aquisition, Behavior and Conversion. These four sections of Google Analytics contain reports that can unlock the mystery of who is visiting your website, where they are coming from, what they are doing once they are there, and which content is getting them to stay. Let’s take a look at a small sample of the reports discussed.

Audience & Acquisition – Mobile vs Not

Within three clicks in Google Analytics, you can discover what percentage of your website traffic is fed from mobile devices. That’s interesting. Take it a step further. Combine Traffic data with a CRO analysis and you can find out if your mobile audience is less or more engaged than your non-mobile audience. Now you have somewhere to start, questions to ask and answers to test.

Behavior – “The Report of Broken Dreams”

Again, with just a few clicks within Google Analytics, you can see the terms that users searched for and then the amount of people that left your website because they couldn’t find what they were searching for. The insight? Write about that topic! Crestodina says to think about your website as if it were a city.  Put your “Billboards” where your “Traffic” is. Know your most popular road (or paths, on your site) and load it up with your best and most searched for content.

Towards the end of his presentation, Crestodina quoted Barry Feldman: “Your website is a mouse trap, your content is the cheese.” He asked the audience: “Are you writing content that your audience desires?” And added, “Strong websites have a conversion rate of 1-3%. Below that, you aren’t going to make any money; over that, you’re going to be a millionaire.”

The message was clear: Traffic times Conversion Rate equals success. Crestodina provided clear steps on how to run a good set of reports that any business owner can start with to help he or she analyze why a piece or a side of that formula is not working for his or her business. The presentation ended a joyful applause and a few whispers of “I wish I could go work on these reports right NOW!”

About the Author

Ms. Ramsey is the owner of Besty Bash, LLC, a creative social media & digital marketing firm in Chicago. In her free time, she enjoys listening to live music and chatting about it on her blog, www.LaurenIgnited.com.

Twitter: @TweetsByBetsy / @LaurenIgnited
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/laureneramsey

Connecting Ideas to Drive Results: A Brandsmart Recap

By Jessica Schaeffer, Director of Marketing, LaSalle Network

A clear theme emerged at 22 West Washington Street on April 28th as some of the biggest minds in marketing gathered to share insights around the brands they manage. The theme: the new wave of marketing: the power of storytelling to build relationships and trust with your consumers and clients.

Chicago American Marketing Associaton’s BrandSmart offered a smattering of perspectives from not-for-profits, ad agencies, big brands and up and coming brands.

Here’s a peek at the day in case you missed it, or just want to compare notes.

Session 1: Marketing for Tomorrow Starting Today – First Session

The day kicked off with a tag team effort by Ron Bess of Havas Worldwide and Zain Raj of Shapiro + Raj. Their message? Great brands (both your personal brand and an organization’s brand) build enduring bonds by fulfilling relationship expectations and sharing brand control.

Raj highlighted eight actionable relationships a consumer has with a brand – the best being a devoted relationship and the worst being a passable relationship. While every brand should strive to achieve devoted relationships with their customers, a mere 12% of customers say they have a devoted relationship with a brand.

So how do you deepen attachment and improve the experience? Raj shared five tips:

  1. Create a new focus: Begin with your most devoted customers to convert your most attractive prospects. Stop going after customers who don’t LOVE your brand.
  2. Try a new approach: Treat customers with respect, trust and loyalty
  3. Adopt a new mindset: Brands need to be perpetually evolving and try to improve
  4. Build a new model: Every company needs to be focused on cutting costs and producing faster
  5. Solve a new equation: Values x Authenticity: The strongest brands know they have to have commendable values, and LIVE those values

Bess closed out the session by drawing parallels between Raj’s presentation and personal branding. Just like a company’s brand, your personal brand is tied to the results you produce and the relationships you build. As a professional, you need to be focused on building trust, respect and loyalty.

Session 2: Transforming the Cubs Brand

Director of Marketing at the Chicago Cubs, Allison Miller, gave attendees a glimpse into the challenges the Cubs’ brand has faced during her tenure. Chief among them understanding and honing in on their target market.

Miller joined the Cubs and realized quickly they were selling a bad product. The Cubs had an aging team, the third highest payroll in the league and amenities that were deteriorating. They had a large, diverse fan base, and yet they knew nothing about them. They were marketing to everyone, without a clear focus of who would really move the needle for the brand.

Miller began the process by segmenting their customers and creating a fan and brand promise. The Cubs took time to understand the different brand personas and talk with these customers. Then, they worked to develop a brand message, campaigns and experiences they wanted these customers to have.

The findings helped the Cubs narrow their marketing, target their messaging around changes within the organization and bridge what the community wanted to do with the stadium with what the Cubs needed to do to advance the organization.

Session 3: Redefining a brand through a cause partnership

Chuck Gitkin, SVP of Brand Marketing at Smithfield Foods gave attendees a glimpse into a strategic partnership with Operation Homefront. Operation Homefront assists military families during difficult financial times by providing food assistance, moving assistance and financial assistance among other things.

If you aren’t familiar with Smithfield Foods, Gitkin says you probably aren’t alone….packaged meats isn’t the sexiest or most well-known industry, and that’s one of the primary reasons behind partnering with Operation Homefront. Not only does Smithfield Foods believe in giving back and supporting those and their families who protect our country, but the partnership helps bring visibility to both organizations.

Gitkin explained that cause marketing has allowed the company, which has a limited marketing budget, to create more exposure for less. They’ve brought in spokespeople to help champion Operation Homefront, and by default, Smithfield Foods. They’ve also created special packaging that a portion of the proceeds is donated directly to Operation Homefront.

Session 4: Panel Discussion: Getting Creative with the B2C agency of the future

Maybe you’ve seen this commercial. What you may not know is that Wrigley and ad agency, Energy BBDO worked collaboratively to create it. The two companies, which have been working together for years, gave us a glimpse into their relationship with John Starkey, VP, Gum, Mints and Media at Wrigley talking with Lianne Sinclair and Andres Ordonez of Energy BBDO.

The trio shared how their relationship has evolved over the years – emphasizing the fact that Energy BBDO is an extension of the Wrigley team, and explaining that now Energy BBDO is brought in earlier in Wrigley’s process. Wrigley is also exposed to Energy BBDO’s “unfinished product” to gauge their temperature and get their input on a project before it’s nearly complete.

Session 5: Hear the Brand: The Rise of Audio Branding: How to get the Most from Your Sound

Colleen Fahey sang, hummed and tapped her way to her main message on Thursday: leave an earprint with every piece of brand communication.

Fahey runs Sixieme Son, an audio branding company that strives to express brand values through sound. The audio brand of a company, Fahey explained, is everything from its on-hold music, to its app sounds, TV and radio spots and sales presentations.

Fahey argued a few key reasons why every company needs to consider its audio DNA.

  1. Music is a language that is universally understood
  2. Music moves behavior
  3. Sounds lead to sales
  4. Sounds speeds search
  5. Audio branding builds brand value

Not convinced? Check out these great examples of audio branding successes Fahey shared: Samsung, Tropicana, and Michelin.

Session 6: Insurance Agents are Rock Stars

Assurance Agency has been recognized by Fortune Magazine as one of the Top 100 Places to Work in the Country. This is one of dozens of awards the company has won throughout its tenure, and VP of Marketing, Steve Handmaker argues it’s been good for business, too….but it hasn’t always been this way.

Assurance wasn’t always a great place to work. In fact, staff was disengaged and profits were suffering as a result. In 1998, Assurance brought on new leadership to right the ship. They decided to focus on people.

Their philosophy was simple. Happy employees = happy clients. Handmaker borrowed from fellow marketer Seth Godin’s theory of purple cows, explaining that Assurance’s culture was their purple cow, the one thing that makes them truly remarkable and sets them apart from competitors in the insurance industry.

Since that decision, not only has Assurance invested in staff to build an incredible culture, they’ve also effectively marketed employee engagement programs to ensure the country knows they are a purple cow.

“Our culture doesn’t automatically mean we win, but its’ getting us to the finish line and helping make us a part of the conversation.” – Steve Handmaker

Session 7: Brand Building and Data Driven Demand Generation

Data paralysis.

Ad resistant.

Craig Greenfield, COO of Performics explained that in today’s world, marketers are overwhelmed by data, and consumers are resistant to our messages and skeptical of our ads.

How do we overcome this? We have to better understand our customers and what they want. We have to identify customer intent before they want express it. As marketers, we can do this by measuring time on site, bounce rates, coupon downloads, the list goes on and on….any piece of content that captures data about our audience.

If you don’t have the data you want, Greenfield says to identify needed data, then create audiences, design experiences and then plan, launch, test and learn.

Session 8: The Impact of Content Creativity with Always on Brands

In typical Leo Burnett fashion, Vincent Geraghty, EVP and Head of Production at Leo Burnett, wowed us showing some incredible campaigns, with one of the most poignant being the Runlikeagirl campaign created for Always.

This was about as conventional as it got though, as Geraghty discussed how his greenhouse team is changing the way Leo Burnett does business. The greenhouse content team is run like a newroom. They’ve adopted a “maker mentality,” where concepting is no longer good enough. They are executers, doers, creators.

This team has allowed Leo Burnett to streamline the approval process, execute on trending ideas quickly and efficiently.

The Greenhouse team is focused on telling great stories that are finely crafted full of human insights. Their goal is to deliver content that entertains, resonates, and weaves the brand into the insight and story.

Session 9: Panel: Getting Creative with the B2B Agency of the Future

According to Linda McGovern, SVP Global Marketing at USG, and Mike Hensley, President at Gyro, the B2B agency of the future is one that understands how to curate brand touchpoints, one that is able to expand and shrink based on the needs of its client, and one that is insanely focused on user experience and content creation.

Like speakers before them, McGovern and Hensley echoed the need to create experiences, not just compelling messages. They touched on the importance emotion plays in the decision making process, and how marketing today needs to connect with the customer.

Session 10: Think Differently: Opportunity Identification or Breakthrough Ideas

After Lindsay Avner stepped off the stage, there may not have been a dry eye in the house. Avner, who founded BrightPink, shared her story of undergoing a risk reducing double mastectomy at the age of 22 to help prevent a future seemingly inevitable diagnosis of breast and ovarian cancer.

As Avner shared her passion for education and getting one step ahead of cancer, it was clear that her powerful message was reaching the right audience because of unique marketing tactics.

Avner explained that she borrows the equity and brand recognition of powerful partners like Arie and Paul Mitchell to communicate BrightPink’s message. The not-for-profit has created highly visible campaigns around Mother’s Day, with the most recent being the #goaskyourmother campaign which urged young women to talk about family history of breast and ovarian cancer.

BrightPink created an online assessment that allows women to assess their risk of breast and ovarian cancer quickly and easily.

Avner’s philosophy is: awareness doesn’t save lives, action does…and all of BrightPink’s marketing efforts are judged based on that simple premise. Has our content, our partnerships caused people to make a change?

Session 11: LUV Lessons: Building a Brand from the Inside Out

He may be retired, but Dave Ridley definitely still has it….the former head of marketing at Southwest Airlines reminded the audience of our biggest brand advocates, our employees.

A few key quotes from his speech sum up his message:

  • “The business of business is people” –Herb Kelleher
  • To develop a great brand, start from the inside out.
  • “I still bleed canyon blue” – as marketers we need more of that diehard marketing. That commitment and dedication to our brands
  • It is a privilege to lead people – you get to invest in the hearts and minds of people
  • Everyone is a CEO…a chief encouragement officer, that’s the number one way to make a difference in people’s lives

Social Media Rules! How Can Higher Ed Marketers Reach Prospective Students?

When trying to reach Generation Z or Millennials, SnapChat, Instagram and Twitter are the “it” social media platforms. Print still serves a purpose — mainly driving the recipient to your digital presence – but social media is the place where engagement and conversion happens. That was the message Michael Mullarkey, chief executive officer of Chicago-based Brickfish, delivered at the Higher Ed SIG gathering that took place April 6.

The SIG meeting, which was held at Troquet North, was a discussion about how to optimize social media for colleges and universities. In keeping with our new format for these gatherings, the meeting was more of a moderated conversation as opposed to a presentation.  It was a huge success!

Brickfish, whose slogan is “Engagement is Everything,” manages the content and social media of large brands like Neiman Marcus and Hertz.  Relevant, fresh content along with a quick response to visitors’ queries is essential to the success of any enterprise. Generation Z and Millennials expect instance responses. Mullarkey believes Facebook is still important, but these cohorts spend most of their time exchanging rapid-fire communiqués with their friends on SnapChat and WhatsApp. Marketers need to become a relevant part of these exchanges.

Mullarkey also spoke about the shrinking reach of Facebook and Instagram. Once brands established their presence on these platforms, these firms monetized their sites.  You now have to boost your post to expand your reach and that requires paying for it. He offered some advice about how to get around having to pay, which includes unique, relevant content, engagement and short video.

Bottom line: For us higher education communicators, it’s new a world. We just need to fasten our seat belts and enjoy the ride.

Betsy Butterworth Dean Petrulakis

Betsy Butterworth and Dean Petrulakis

Co-Chairs, Chicago AMA Higher Education Special Interest Group

10 SEO Strategies for Your Website

You know the value of search ranking in search engines, but what factors do Google, Bing, and Yahoo use in their algorithms to rank these websites? Whether your website is a business or personal hobby, there are many tactics and strategies to achieve search engine optimization that require marketing and technological skills. Depending on your goals, an individual or multiple teams can implement these activities. But Even in a collaboration effort, it’s important to know the features search engines look for to rank your website. While the algorithms of search engines are constantly changing, and it can be overwhelming to keep up with them, the most important thing to keep in mind is the search engine’s goal is to provide users the precise information they’re looking for. As long as SEO teams keep the reader in mind when writing content and setting up their webpages, that’s the biggest step to achieving high ranking.

With that mindset, here’s 10 SEO activities to optimize your website organized in four areas: Technical Set Up, HTML Coding, Content, and Off-Websites Influences.

Technical Set Up


1. Ensure your website is mobile-friendly

Earlier this year, Google and Bing began labeling search results as “mobile-friendly” (see Figure 1). Websites built for a mobile experience are given a boost in mobile search results, but does not impact rankings on a desktop device. But know that content rules. So a clear winner in content will rank higher than just being mobile optimized. Still, a website not optimized for mobile will underperform.

Good tool to help you test if you’re mobile friendly: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

10 SEO website strategies 1

2.  Ensure your webpages have fast loading times

Search engines use this measurement in its algorithm for search ranking. A fast page loading time not only pleases the search engines but gives your visitor a much better experience too. There are a few measures you can take, including uploading images as close to the right size as needed so it doesn’t bog down your page. And careful of embedding too many YouTube videos. Other technical aspects, such as excess HTML coding, can slow it down too.

Google tool to help measure speed: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/

3. Create clear URL structures

URL wording is very important. Having-a-clear-URL-structure-like-this clearly describes what your page is about as, well as giving you additional keyword credit when sharing this link on other webpages. Your webpage will have more credibility and trust to users when the clear and descriptive link.

Good: www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/oven-baked-salmon-recipe.html
Bad: http://litoschickenrecipes.com/public/pages/b82385d4-1d6a-4362

4. Make sure there’s no errors in search engines crawling your website

Search engine crawlers scan everything about your webpages so they can index, or categorize, your website. The robots.txt file on your server will tell search engine crawlers (like the Googlebot) which pages can or cannot be crawled. Use tools like Google Webmaster to tell you if you’re there’s any errors in crawling or indexing your webpage.

Google Webmaster tool: https://www.google.com/intl/en/webmasters/

HTML Coding


5. Write page titles

One of the most important ingredients in SEO, this tells the search engines AND your audience what your page is all about. This will most likely be displayed on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) and be your audience’s FIRST impression of your website. Good writing strategies are to include primary and secondary keywords, and also your brand name.  See Figure 2.

6. Write meta descriptions

While meta descriptions do not factor into the search engine’s technical scanning of your website, they do influence your audience in a couple different ways. First, search engines bold any words in your description that are used in the search query. Secondly, once the user recognizes this and reads your description, this is your opportunity to convince them your page has what they’re looking for. Classic marketing. Best practices include writing a different description for each webpage.  See Figure 2.

10 SEO website strategies pic 2

Content


7. Use the Right Keywords and An Appropriate Amount

First, determine what your webpage is all about. What is the primary question it’s answering? Once you’ve addressed this, now you research terms for ideas on what words your audience uses on a topic. Google Keyword Planner is very helpful (see Figure 3). Remember, you’re writing this with the reader in mind, so make it readable and digestible for them. The better experience your readers have, the better you’ll rank.

Google Keyword Tool: Google Keyword Planner (must have login and an Adwords account)

Free tool if you’re not using Google Adwords: http://keywordtool.io/ and SEMrush. Grab semrush discount coupon here

10 SEO website strategies pic 3

8. Media Content: Images and videos

Media such as images and videos are important content types to engage your audience. For images, search engines scan these and appear in image search results. Google advises to use alt descriptions in your images and to help Google identify a quality image and site. For videos, one good technique is to use a good thumbnail for an appealing view to your audience as well as a compelling and descriptive title.

Off-Website Influences


9. Use social media as best you can

Create a social media plan and leverage these platforms. They have a dominating presence on search engines and can share links to your website. The more active and engaged you are on social media, and sharing your website content, the more traffic you’ll drive. There are many ways these platforms can help with SEO for your website.

10. Eliminate black hat SEO strategies

Gone are the days of putting your link everywhere you possibly can simple to drive traffic. Same with overstuffing your website with keywords just for SEO sake. Google can recognize this and will penalize you for it by dropping your website in search rankings. Any disingenuous traffic will be considered spam. Buy backlinks and All These are all referred to as black hat tactics. As mentioned before, think of your audience and you’ll be in good shape.

These strategies will position you for SEO success, but it’s critical to monitor your SEO performance, and adjust your activities accordingly. Always remember to keep your target audience in mind, and the more fresh and relevant your content can be using these tactics, the better your SEO performance will be.

 

Scott Green is a digital marketing specialist and co-owner of marketing consulting firm DS Marketing.  Scott works with clients on lead generation strategies through SEO, Email, and Social Media and has worked with the education, real estate, and health care industries.

Marketing Insights for the Digital Age: Steve Handmaker

Written by Wendy Lalli

Data. It’s not just about numbers – it’s about building customer relationships.

Steve Handmaker CEO, Assurance

Steve Handmaker
CEO, Assurance

Steve Handmaker, CEO of Assurance knows all about data. In this Chicago AMA leadership interview on the subject, he discusses the role data plays in building customer relationships that are vital to the success of every business.

As James Dodd observed in an article for Brandchannel, “marketing in the 21st Century is not about ROI anymore. It’s about the return on customer, maximizing the lifetime relationship with an individual. It’s about getting that one person who purchases your product once to purchase it again. … until they become something more than a customer. They become an advocate for your brand.”

But how does a marketer make this happen? According to Steve, data is the key. It gives us access to what customers really want and value. And that knowledge allows us to build stronger relationships with them through marketing. It also is essential for directing a company’s sales force on what to say and how to say it both to mass audiences and even to individual customers.

To listen to Steve’s enlightening and insightful interview just click here.

 

Wendy Lalli VP Creative, Crux Creative

Wendy Lalli
VP Creative, Crux Creative

Wendy Lalli is an award-winning writer and marketing strategist who has served clients in a wide range of industries and created communications in every format. She describes herself as “Peggy from ‘Madmen’ grownup.” She’s had her own company, Wendy Lalli, Ltd., since 1997 and is now a VP/Creative Director at Crux Creative, a creative and marketing agency in Milwaukee.

In addition to creating print, direct response and digital communications for clients like GE Healthcare and MB Financial, she has also written articles and blogs for organizations such as the BMA and the Professional Women’s Club of Chicago. Her interest in career development led her to write frequently on job search for the Chicago Tribune and other newspapers, contribute several chapters to college textbooks on marketing communications and facilitate career seminars at colleges, libraries and professional associations throughout Chicago.