Tools that Cover Search Marketing, SEO, Social Media, Conversion Rate, and Content
As a digital marketing lead generation strategist and online media buyer, you just can’t have enough tools to help manage my clients’ online activities. When I am not involved with business development, speaking, and my own social media marketing, I am usually on the computer with some sort of advertising, SEO, social media, or conversion optimization tool. I’m 51, so as a former media buyer in a past life, I remember the days of typewriters, graph paper, Arbitron and Nielsen rating books (I still have an old reach/frequency slide rule!), calculators, and pencil erasers. On the shelf were multiple SRDS books; each one the size of a phone book. Need a radio station in Miami?- look it up. Need to find a prospect? Dial a phone and make friends with a gatekeeper. Luckily my number will be on a pink message pad for the boss. I digress!
So there are thousands of marketing tools; and am sure everyone has their favorites. For this post I just wanted to share some of my favorite media and inbound marketing tools that make my job easier, and provide efficient use of my time, so I can spend more of that time with strategy and consultation. For this post, I decided to avoid Google properties, because obviously Google Adwords, Google Webmaster Tools, and Google Analytics would be at the top of the list.
Acquisio is a pay-per-click management dashboard that allows me to manage Google, Bing, and Facebook Ads all on one –platform. Acquisio has robust automated bid management tools, and does include integrations with Google Analytics, Trade Desk (for display), and Doubleclick
Ok one Google product; Doubleclick is an ad management platform that allows me to plan display campaigns, research demographics of sites, upload banner ads, traffic banners to websites, networks, and exchanges, and measure clicks and conversions.
Trade Desk is a display ad platform that buys sites, exchanges, and networks in real time (called RTB or real time bidding). I use it to buy display, video, social ads, and mobile ads, amny times on a CPA basis. Trade Desk also measures attribution, and partners with DMPs sich as Blue Kai and Datalogix to provide more advanced targeting based on 3rd party data and cookie pools. As mentioned above, Trade Desk integrates with Acquisio, and combined with Doubleclick, my potential Internet reach is almost 100%.
Ad Ready is in essence, a mini Trade Desk, because there is no minimal spend, meaning I can use the platform for display and retargeting for smaller clients of mine. Display is more than performance, it’s also branding. AdReady makes it easy for me to plan regional or targeted campaigns, using behavioral or contextual targeting, as well as site retargeting and 3rd party data overlays for more granular audience targeting.
Millenial Media is the dominant mobile advertising platform. For clients who want to connect with audiences specifically via mobile and tablets, Millenial allows me to target a variety of ways, with a multitude of ad units, including mobile video. Utilizing their proprietary technology, I can target based on real-world actions, from demographics, to behavioral, to local, by device, by context, and by retargeting.
Adroll, like AdReady, has a very small minimal spend, so I use Adroll for localized retargeting campaigns for my mid-size clients. Adroll is a site retargeting specialist, and allows reach of message go beyond the Google Display Network, but partnering with Right Media (Yahoo’s ad network) as well as the Facebook Exchange (Facebook retargeting).
SEMRush is a multitude of keyword research tools that allow me to see what my clients’ sites and their competitors rank on Google, what keywords competitors rank with, and what PPC ads they run. I can also do some long-tail keyword research with it.
Open Site Explorer is a robust link tracker from MOZ, and it gives me insight on how many links my clients have, and how much authority those links have. A sound SEO strategy includes achieving links from high quality sites. Specifically, I can meaure any site’s:
- Page Authority: The quality score of your web pages
- Domain Authority: The quality score of your website (based on a number of link metrics)
- Linking Root Domains: The number of domains linking to your site directly from their website
- Total Links: The total quantity of links points to your website
- Social Signals: Social media metrics that have a positive correlation with rankings. These include Facebook shares, Facebook Likes, Tweets, and Google +1
Buzzstream is a neat tool that helps me find bloggers and engage with influential bloggers, with the goal to get article backlinks as part of the link building process. Building and effectively managing relationships with these influencers is the key to getting found by prospects, and Buzzstream helps me build those relationships, and track my communication.
Screaming Frog is a program that slices and dices a website’s code to find issues with onsite page elements for SEO, presents them in tabs by type and allows you to filter for common SEO problems. The spider allows you to export key onsite SEO elements (url, page title, meta description, headings etc) to Excel so it can easily be used as a base to make SEO recommendations from.
Facebook’s Power Editor makes it easy to manage multiple ad campaigns on Facebook. I can create custom audiences, create specific mobile ads, and test 3rd party data targeting (from Datalogix and Axciom are two data providers).
Once reserved for high budget advertisers, Twitter ads are now available to everyone with no minimal spend. You pay per engagement- for a tweet click, a retweet, a reply, or a favorite. You can target by geography, by interest, by device, and by keyword. Promoted tweets are ideal for more promotional messages. You can also promote your profile if you want to gain new followers.
Social Media Management
There are so many posting and analytics tools, but I discovered Sprout Social years ago, and still find it useful for scheduling posts on Twitter, Facebook, and now Google+. We track engagement with a social inbox, we publish, we analyze and publish sophisticated reports, and we monitor keywords and brands, all from one platform.
I found this free and useful social media analytics tool to measure some social media KPIs like conversation rate, amplification rate, and applause rate. Tracking all the major social sites, the tool helps me analyze the overall effectiveness of content, and which are your most powerful influencers.
If you’re really into Twitter, you will be enamored by this Twitter management tool. Robust tools that allow you to target users, monitor hashtags, track competitors, identify influencers, analyze your performance, and manage followers, plus much more. To me, it’s the ultimate tool to engage and manage your Twitter presence.
Although I have a stable of accomplished writers, sometimes we just need extra content for blogs or articles, purely for SEO purposes. Zerys is a network of 25,000 free-lance writers that I manage by posting article topics on a job board where a writer claims the topic, does research with my input, and provides me with a post, optimized for SEO. Quite a time and money saver when articles and posts are needed in a pinch.
YouTube and website videos are one thing; but adding interactive apps to the videos is another, and Viewbix interactive overlays optimize videos for lead generation or engagement. Imagine adding newsletter sign-ups, Google maps, coupons, and QR codes to your videos. Check it out..
We like testing at NuSpark Marketing. Optimizely is one tool that lets you shift around landing page elements, and test CTA or headlines, without a developer’s or an IT person’s help. I just choose an element; implement a change, and an instant A/B test begins.
Visual Website Optimizer is another landing page A/B and multivariate testing tool. Besides testing, I get to see heatmaps so I can see where users click, and I can get feedback from an Internet user panel on how to improve websites or landing pages. I can even test mobile sites.
I have many clients who focus many of their conversions on phone calls, by promoting loud and clear their phone number on their website. Phone call conversions complete the conversion picture when added to web form conversions. Mongoose Metrics provides unique phone numbers for each digital media source, whereby numbers on websites are dynamically changed if the visitor came from Google, Bing, or any other channel. With Google Analytics integration, phone call conversions are now easily measured.
Sometimes when I run paid search ads, I need to build a quick landing page. Unbounce provides ample landing page templates that can be customized for lead generation. Additionally, A/B tests can be implemented as well.
I am not much of a coder, so if we need to design emails and landing pages, Get Response offers a multitude of email and landing page templates that fit the bill for me. Get Response has multiple integrations making email deployment and tracking a snap.
Marketing automation doesn’t need to be expensive. Act-On is a very moderately priced solution but is quite robust. You get the usual; drip campaign management, visitor monitoring, lead scoring, CRM integration, plus a unique Webex integration for webinars. Of course, you can build webforms (with progressive profiling) and landing pages.
Skyglue takes Google Analytics to the next level. By tracking individual visitors to your website, and seeing how they navigate and convert. I like it for event tracking. With the tool I can see who views videos, downloads PDFs, and engages with other events that exist on a website.
I am always testing tools and platforms but the above are currently favorites that I use for digital media and lead generation management. This is just the tip of the iceberg, and I am sure you have your favorites as well. If there are any comments I would welcome discussion. What tools and platforms have you used that you like?
Conversions and Website Goals; A Primer
There’s sometimes some confusion with regard to conversions and goals, and how they relate to each other, especially when determining campaign success or failure. If you’re running a pay-per-click campaign, you measure conversions. It you’re monitoring Google analytics, you’re measuring goals. Remember this significant difference:
- Pay-per-click and online display is ADVERTISING, and the goal of advertising is to generate leads, sales, and revenue, and that means CONVERSIONS.
- Google analytics measures website activity, with the goal to track visitor behavior. Any behaviors that you want to measure are called GOALS.
Where analytics and Google Adwords intersect is when monitoring “conversions” in the Adwords platform because you have an option of importing certain goals from analytics into Adwords, so you need to make sure you import only certain goals (conversion goals) to the Adwords platform.
What is a Conversion
A conversion is any action on a website or landing page that requires a consumer or prospect to enter personal information in exchange for something that they desire.
- E-commerce: A purchase
- Lead generation: A demo, a trial, a content asset, a quote, a newsletter sign-up, or any other action that requires an email address submitted on a web form. Whatever the action is, the action must be identified as a potential lead and opportunity.
What is a Goal
Goals are specific actions that you feel necessary to track in order to measure the success of your website activity, website content, and website navigational structure. Goals are typically separated into 3 buckets:
- Page URLs:
A page URL is a relevant destination page that represents a complete conversion or a key engagement page.
Conversion Page: This is the page a user sees after completing an action that requires an email address submission, typically called a Thank You page. All websites and landing pages need to include a compelling confirmation page that reminds audiences of the value they are receiving, and is a good place to promote social media pages.
Key Destination Page: This page is a key page on a website that represents either purchase intent or engaging content. For instance, if you’re a retailer or car dealer, you may wish to track visits to the “hours and directions” page. You may wish to track visits to your blog, or content resource section. Many of these pages you can track anyway under the Content section of analytics as well.
A subset of conversion page tracking is creating goal funnels. Funnels on a website are a set of web page URLs that lead to an action. Most commonly used with e-commerce sites, you can set up a funnel that incorporates a cart page, an order page, a confirmation page, and the thank you page. By so doing, you can measure the effectiveness of the checkout process, including cart abandonment, and then look to improve the process if the funnel is not achieving your goals. This is also where the concept of ad retargeting enters the picture.
In a complex B2B sale, you may want to track a steady series of small conversions. By continually engaging audiences with emails and custom landing pages, typically via marketing automation, you can lead score the conversions until the leads are sales-ready.
- Site Engagement Goals:
Google Analytics measures two types of engagement goals.
Visitor Duration: Let’s you measure how many visitors stay on your site a certain amount of time.
Pages per Visit: Let’s you measure how many pages an average visitor sees during a typical session.
I’m not a big fan of measuring engagement goals with analytics. This data can be measured throughout the Google Analytics platform. If you’re measuring a landing page as a profile, then of course engagement metrics do not mean much. Likewise, if your site is hard to navigate, or your purchase funnel from cart to purchase has too many steps, then engagement numbers can be misleading.
- Event Goals
Events are activities on a website that don’t necessarily have page URLs, but give you the ability to measure actions such as video views, PDF downloads, clicks on buttons or links. Requiring some additional code on your website, event tracking can be a valuable way to measure these specific activities. For example, if you’re investing in online videos, it would be nice to measure the video plays to determine the video content effectiveness.
Once your goals are set up properly the fun begins. From a marketing standpoint, you can now measure goals by:
- Traffic source
- Non-paid organic search
- Landing Page
- Ad Content
From a purely website activity standpoint, you can also measure goals by:
- Visitor location
- New vs. Returning Visitors
- Browser and OS
- Mobile Devices
Once trends are occurring, you now get the opportunity to identify successes and failures. When certain goals are not performing as compared to site averages, it gives you the opportunity to test new web pages, update content, update navigation, call-to-action, or a number of other variables that deter audiences from engagement or conversion.
Not all traffic converts when they visit your website the first time. With continued marketing, social media, and lead nurturing efforts, audiences may come back and convert via other channels than the initial visit channel. Therefore the “last click” activity is credited for the conversion or goal in Google Analytics. This is why there are metrics put in place to measure “purchase funnels” with the objective to give some conversion credit to traffic sources that have contributed to the final goal or conversion. This is commonly called attribution, and can give you important clues on how online display banner ads and social media channels contribute to goals and conversions.
Attribution is measured a number of ways in Google Adwords and Google Analytics.
Shows the entire path of search activity that leads up to a conversion. Search funnel reports will show you how “top of funnel” keywords contribute to conversions. Some of the metrics you can measure:
- Conversion Path: Sequence of ad clicks and impressions leading up to a conversion
- Last Clicks: Any search ad click that happened immediately preceding a conversion
- Assist Clicks: Any search ad click that happened prior to the “last click” before a conversion
- Assist Impressions: Any search ad impression that was not clicked and happened prior to a conversion
- Assist Clicks / Last Clicks: The ratio of assist clicks / last clicks for a particular campaign, ad-group, or keyword
- Assist Impressions / Last Clicks: The ratio of assist impressions / last clicks for a particular campaign, ad-group, or keyword
I’ll l review this in detail in a future post, but the real objective is to understand search behavior, and make decisions on this behavior, and not on click metrics.
For Google’s Display Network, (and other display ad networks for that matter) a view-through conversion happens when a customer sees an ad then later returns to your site through a another channel (an organic listing or direct URL) and completes a conversion on your site. Somewhat controversial, because you don’t know if the display ad was actually seen, or how it really contributed to a final conversion. All you know is, an ad was served to a user within 30 days prior to a last-click conversion.
Similar to Adwords search funnels, GA’s Multi-Channel funnel reports gives you insight on how multiple marketing and search channels contribute to last-click goals, sales, and conversions..
The Multi-Channel Funnels reports show what channels customers or leads interacted with during the 30 days before conversion or purchase. Some of the metrics you can measure here are:
- Assisted conversions: Shows how different channels impact a conversion
- Time lag: Helps understand time to conversion
- Path length: Shows you the number of interactions before a conversion
- Top conversion paths: Shows the routes/channels your customers take to conversion
As you have read, there is much more to conversion and goal tracking than just setting it up and watching. By analyzing your business goals, your website goals, and your marketing goals, you can make strategic decisions from the channel/campaign level all the way down to the keyword level, optimize your marketing strategy, update your website strategy, and monitor true campaign ROI. As always, it begins with a conversion plan; and determining what metrics mean most to your business so that outcomes can be analyzed and acted upon.
When you run as many substantial internet marketing and paid search programs as we do, you realize how many new features occur over time, whether it is within Google Adwords, Bing Ad Center, Facebook Ads, or YouTube ads. Every week we review the blogs and releases from the platforms we use, and test new features on ourselves first before recommending them to clients. We love the fact that these platforms continually to update features for more efficiency and better functionality. Sometimes we get reminded of features we haven’t used in awhile, but then might be appropriate for a client.
So then, below is a hodgepodge of newer features and unique opportunities within Google Adwords that you should be taking advantage of if it’s right for your business.
1. You have seen some ads with a small form for email address submissions? This is called Communications extensions, and is still in beta.
NuSpark Marketing is approved to test these with clients. Your ads can have 5 options for lead generation:
- Get offers
- Subscribe to newsletter
- Get updates
- Get alerts
These are certainly unique ways to build a customer list.
2. You’ve seen those Site links at the bottom of Google ads that appear within the top 3 positions? Well, if you have a special offer just for mobile users, you can now set up a site link just for mobile.
3. With the new enhanced Adwords, you can now promote offers within your ads if you are a brick and mortar store. Create and promote your offer, Google creates a landing page coupon, for audiences to redeem in-store, and viola; you can measure in-store offer conversions from Google!
4. You’ve seen seller ratings in ads, and wonder how they got there?
Ratings come from Google Shopping, which aggregates reviews from sources throughout the web. When you reach a certain minimum, ratings appear. Here’s link with more info on seller ratings.
5. Have you seen some e-commerce ads with detailed listings on some of their products like below?
That’s called Product Extensions, but you need to have a Google Merchant account set up with a Google Shopping Feed. By adding specific brand, or other product attributes as a filtered target, you can create increased engagement with your product pay-per-click ads.
6. I’m sure you know about retargeting; where Google (and other platforms) target ads to you, typically within 30 days, of you visiting a website or landing page, and not converting. Retargeting campaigns bring you back to a website and has proven very effective for my clients.
Well, here’s something new, called Similar Audiences. With enough data, Google looks at the browsing history of your retargeted audiences, and attempts to find similar audiences who best match those browsing habits of your website visitors being retargeted. What this means is, the reach of your message can grow significantly, if you utilize this retargeting option.
7. Finally, there is a column within the Adwords management platform called Conversion Value. This is the value of a conversion.
If you’re a lead generation site, you can enter in the set-up (below) what the value of a conversion is, so that you can track ROI. If you’re a simple e-commerce site, you can enter the average cost-per-sale. However, if you are e-commerce, you know your products have various values, so a generic conversion value just won’t do. See below is where I add conversion value.
In this case, if you want to measure dynamically generated conversion values, you’re going to need your developer to add some custom code to your site, depending on the language of your e-commerce platform. Google explains how to set up conversions on a dynamically-generated website here. Platforms like Magento have Adwords conversion integration so that specific conversion values CAN be tracked with Google Adwords.
So this is just a sample of what is available on the Google Adwords platform, covering search and display. The options keep us on our toes as we continually look to optimize campaign performance. What new or unique features do you like, or have questions on?
There are countless factors involved in the conversion of visitors to your website. Leaving a single one unaccounted for can have disastrous results. Such problems must be quickly accounted for when utilizing pay-per-click advertising. Fortunately this means, inversely, that correcting even one of these factors can result in drastic improvements to your ROI.
Text Ad Copy
The perfect landing page means nothing if your initial copy doesn’t generate valuable visitors. Many pay-per-click campaigns fail at this first step by aiming for generic keywords or by aiming for long tail keywords without properly developing copy that targets and entices the people who would make that search. Weeding out low-converting clicks can also greatly improve profit—any campaign that fails to utilize negative keywords is inevitably wasting at least some marketing funds.
Two factors should be considered in generating your ad copy and selecting your keywords:
1. Target Demographic: Word selection and the tone of your ad should take into account the visitors you’re targeting and the nature of your landing page. High energy copy that excites impulse buyers may work wonders when targeting consumers, but that same copy may lose cautious business professions looking for neutral, detailed information. Split testing is vital for feeling out your audience and determining the highest value approach.
2. Buying Cycle: Someone searching for ‘cheap GeneriCamera 60a’ requires a very different approach from someone searching ‘best camera for beginning photographer’. Understanding were in the buying cycle your clicks are coming from plays heavily into how you should approach your copy. There is no point advertising bargain pricing or bonus items if your audience doesn’t know what they want to buy, and there is no point sending someone who wants to buy right this second to a review or introduction to the product.
Once you know you are bringing valuable visitors in and what they are looking for, you can begin to tailor your landing pages for high conversion rates.
There are several things to carefully consider when creating your landing pages:
1. Ad Copy: Targeting demographics and your visitors’ position in the buying cycle are as important in landing pages as they are in your text ads. Medical professionals looking to buy expensive training courses or equipment need hard facts and endorsement from their fellows or trustworthy agencies. Impulse buyers need to be given an endless stream of reasons to be excited and presented with numerous opportunities to buy.
2. Layout: This is perhaps the most frequently overlooked aspect of landing pages. Distracting your visitors with material that doesn’t work to convert them does no good. A visitor late in the buying cycle is likely best targeted with a landing page that offers them only information on the product they’re ready to buy and the opportunity to buy it—removing sidebars and links to other parts of your website can result in greatly improved conversion rates. If, on the other hand, you are looking to convert a repeat customer, you must make sure your website entices returns with by presenting a clean layout and promoting the benefits of converting.
3. Why Should They Convert: If you’re offering a product or service or information available elsewhere, convincing your visitors to take your offer becomes vital. You must offer something competing products, vendors, or information sources cannot—this can be discounted pricing, free additional products, or services unavailable elsewhere.
Determining the ideal copy, layout, and offers for high pay-per-click conversion rates will always require trial and error and careful analysis of statistics. Constant split testing will offer you the most efficient path to success.
I’ve been thinking about all this content marketing we’ve been exposed to lately. Although essential in today’s marketing environment, we may be at the crossroads of too much messaging going across our eyes; many of it not as quality as it should be. This is especially true for a smaller business, or a business that lacks resources, or a poor quality SEO firm. Social media has forced us to write as much content as possible in order to drive website traffic (what CEO’s want to see). SEO has forced us to write as much content as possible to drive backlinks and increase search visibility.
We’ve always had content; back in the day, we called it copy writing We were advertising professionals; not content marketers. Clients wanted emails and phone calls. We were about ads and collateral; with the occasional white paper that publications mailed us (remember BRC cards?) Then came the website and the growth of email along with the World Wide Web.
Think about all we have to write:
- Social Media: blog posts and infographics, social profiles and posts, tweets and updates
- Lead Generation: white papers, case studies, webinars, slideshares, eBooks, landing pages
- On-site SEO: web pages, page titles, meta descriptions
- Off-site SEO: guest blog outreach letters, guest blog articles, online press releases
- Pay-Per-Click: Ads
- Lead Nurturing: emails, more helpful articles and webinars!
- Other content: Video scripts, podcast scripts, powerpoints
The power of the written word is undeniable. Words persuade and convince; they also inform and educate. Like any marketing strategy, you have to have a plan for content; I’m not going to go into content planning (see my ebooks), but your team must have a budget for the quantity AND the quality of the content. Yes it’s a challenge.
I have two new clients that have budgeted content; for SEO and social.
- Client One: 4 website articles, 4 blog posts, 4 guest blog posts (for backlinks), 3 video scripts per month (for site and YouTube)
- Client Two: 8 blog posts, 2 guest blog posts (for SEO), one white paper, all per month
Our goals with content:
- Sound like an expert; write great content (with a passion) and focus on the needs of our audiences
- Be Strategic; have a plan that educates and persuades
- Commitment; great content doesn’t stop; it continually is written, published, and promoted
Every piece of content you write or your firm writes; ask these two questions:
- Why should your audience care
- Why should your audience share
Then proceed. ‘nuff said.
Learn About MindMatrix Marketing Automation; An Interview with Andrew Carlton, Director of Channel Sales at MindMatrix
There are many marketing automation systems out there that can help firms manage and nurture leads into sales. MindMatrix is one the platforms I recommend to SMBs. It has unique features, especially with collateral messaging, that you should pay attention to. I recently caught up with Andy Carlton, Director, Channel Sales and Business Development at MindMatrix. Andy Carlton is a leading expert in digital, Saas, and marketing technologies for over the past 20 years. He is in charge of building a vast channel network and creating a comprehensive partner ecosystem in the marketing automation space.
Paul: Tell me about MindMatrix and what makes you so unique in the marketplace.
Sure, Paul. MindMatrix was developed with the needs of both marketing and sales in mind. At the end of the day, it is marketing’s job to produce the kind of qualified leads that sales people can properly be expected to close. Sales wants leads but more importantly, they want good leads and MindMatrix is set up to deliver them.
In addition to tools to ensure marketing sends only qualified leads to sales, we have established some unique tools for salespeople to be able to communicate with each prospect during the sales process. A sales rep can get access to marketing approved collateral and messaging to be able to have meaningful 1-1 dialogues and deeper engagement during the sales process. One example: being able to produce, on the fly, a customized and personalized sales proposal. Once a proposal is completed, a sales rep can send by email, and then track whether or not the prospect opened the email and/or clicked on the proposal. In fact, our system will track the complete digital footprint. Consequently, the sales rep is armed with valuable information allowing her to effectively measure engagement throughout the sales process and adjust the sales approach at each step. And, marketing is happy because it maintains brand consistency in every piece of collateral.
The uniqueness of our product is combining marketing and sales activities all on one unified platform. We believe this achieves tighter alignment.
Paul: How does this translate to the SMB market? Is this out of reach for them?
The small to medium sized business has much of the same needs that larger ones have and now with the emergence of cloud based software, it has become even more affordable and accessible. They may not need all of the functionality of a robust marketing to sales automation platform but there are some basic elements that can make any SMB successful.
Some of these features include: the ability to do simple email campaigns with drag and drop content, creating a social media page and automating content placement on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, automating blog content, tracking inbound (known and anonymous) site traffic, and measuring the effectiveness of your content. A lot of the tools I’m talking about are very simple to utilize.
I always stress that in any organization, content development should be an ongoing strategy. At MindMatrix, we can leverage our partner network to assist in content creation, among other things. In some cases, SMB’s just don’t want to hire internally for the skill sets that are necessary to be successful. That’s where an outside marketing partner can make all the difference.
Paul: When you talk about marketing and sales alignment, what do you mean?
Let’s first consider the status quo. Most vendors talk about marketing and sales alignment in terms of triggering a sales qualified lead to a CRM system. Clearly, that’s important. But that isn’t “alignment.” Alignment is the effective coordination of the missions of marketing and sales. Consider these numbers. Even with the prevalence of marketing automation, marketing departments are still sending 50% of all leads generated over the fence to sales. It’s an extremely optimistic notion that a majority of those leads will end in a closed deal—at least within any realistic time period! Statistics tell that up to 75% of all leads are not ready to buy. So, marketing has a lot of work to do on the nurturing side. In the meantime, too much time is being squandered unrealistic leads.
On top of time spent on unlikely leads, sales faces an additional problem. Salespeople proceed to spend up to 40% of their time preparing buyer-specific sales materials. Consider this: a sales rep with $1,000,000 in annual sales can theoretically increase their revenue by $170,833 just by recapturing the 17% of “lost” time. So, sales people need to be armed with the right content, messaging, and assets to help them sell. Spending too much time on repurposing –or even asking marketing to produce what they need–is a waste of precious selling time. Companies need to get their sales people selling at maximum efficiency.
Paul: What challenges do you see continuing between sales and marketing teams?
Marketing automation is no magic bullet. It cannot solve the divide between the two unless it is used properly. Sales and marketing teams will need to destroy old walls and come closer together. Revenue is the goal, even though marketing has traditionally not been involved in revenue accountability. I believe that is changing, and we have designed metrics to make accountability possible.
Paul: Lastly, what new things can we expect to see coming down the pike from MindMatrix?
We are excited about the explosive growth and innovation at MindMatrix. Some of the new features we’ll be releasing will center around channel sales enablement, better reporting capabilities and dynamic content delivery.
Our goal is to empower both marketing and sales teams to drive revenue.
I am a reseller of MindMatrix, and together with the content strategy we put together that drives leads and sales via the lead nurturing process, it makes for a nice partnership. If you’d like to learn more about marketing automation, drop me a line.
Google Analytics, Conversions, and Marketing Measurement
Google Analytics is an amazing tool that can track all types of data related to website usage; from visitor metrics to content metrics and conversion metrics. By analyzing the data properly and gathering insights, you can make strategic decisions on your marketing strategy, content strategy, and conversion strategy. This post is not a primer on basic Google analytics, but a look at some key custom reports and metrics that can help you strategize, with a focus on b2b lead generation websites that focus on conversions.
Before we get started, I just wanted to set the record straight regarding definitions, since I am always asked.
This is a pure visit to your site, triggered by the Google Analytics tracking code. Everything visitors do on your site is tracked within that visit, until they leave or the session expires (after 30 minutes of inactivity).
New and Returning Visits
Analytics measures both visits and visitors in your account. Visits represent the number of individual sessions initiated by all the visitors to your site. If a user is inactive on your site for 30 minutes or more, any future activity is attributed to a new session. Users that leave your site and return within 30 minutes are counted as part of the original session. The number of visitors will always be lower than the number of visits to a site; this is because some visitors will visit more than once.
Goals and Conversions
The first thing we’ll review are goals. Goals and conversions mean two different things. A goal is simply a defined metric you’d like to track, whether it be a view of a page, content that is downloaded, or a multi-page interaction such as average time on site or pages per visit. A conversion is the completion of a defined goal or a transaction. For lead generation sites, a conversion is a completed activity that results in a user submitting an email address in exchange for content, trials, demos, quotes, or a request for more information from sales.
Google Analytics allows you to set up 20 goals; 4 groups of 5 goals each. Before getting started, you need to make a list of conversion activity (email submission) on your website, with an accompanying “thank you page” that verifies the form submissions. Each unique conversion should have a unique “thank you” page, so that you can track each specific conversion. These ‘thank you” page URLs are the page URLs you will be tracking on your website (as well as any pay-per-click or online advertising landing page or microsite). Speaking of landing pages; each landing page should be tracked as a separate profile within your analytics account, with its own conversion goals.
So Group One should list the “Thank You pages” for up to 5 of the most important conversion goals, such as:
- Contact Us forms, or general inquiries
- Registration forms (gated content downloads).
- Trial/demo requests
- Webinar/event signups
Again, all of these conversion goals are what brings leads into your funnel, where further marketing and lead nurturing can begin.
Group Two can be for event tracking on your website. An event is a click on your website that doesn’t necessarily lead to another page view. Event tracking allows you to measure content on your website; and decide which kinds of content are more engaging or more useful to your visitors. Types of events you can track are:
- Video plays. If you have a number of videos on your website, you can track which ones are viewed most, and which ones are played all the way through as compared to paused.
- PDF downloads. For any ungated content available as PDFs, you can measure downloads. This is a great way to determine what topics are most popular, and can give you insight to developing future content topics.
- Podcasts. Event tracking allows you to measure podcast listens and downloads
- Text and button Links. If your site includes links to other websites or domains, such as clicks to associations or questionnaires, you can track these outbound links.
Event tracking requires some additional code on each page where the event is. Google has provided a detailed look at how to incorporate event tracking into your website. There are also WordPress analytics plug-ins that can assist here as well. I also use an analytics add-on called SkyGlue that can also measure events as well as site visitors. Check out SkyGlue.
Group Three can be used for general site engagement metrics goals if you wish to track the overall site performance, such as pages per visit or average time per visit.
Now that you have proper goals set up, you’ll want to track those goals along with some key analytics data. Here are some reports that can provide you with some valuable marketing insights:
Traffic Sources Conversion
What Traffic sources and landing pages gave me the most conversions and best conversion rates?
This is a custom report that tracks overall site conversions as well as a specific conversion, called Check Out. For each report I am tracking the number of conversions as well as conversion rate. For dimension, the top level measure is source/medium. For example, “Google” is a source, “organic” and “cpc (cost per click or paid search)” are mediums. A medium is the type of traffic visitors come from; sources are specific websites (Google, Bing, specific websites, email, or general direct URL input via a browser). Once I click on the source/medium in the report, I can see which landing pages generated conversions. Below is an example of a landing page conversion report.
Outcome: Determine which pages perform well; lead to conversions; and which pages need optimization.
What Referring Sites (including social, email, and any website that has my link- a measure of SEO) give me the most conversions and best conversion rates?
This report tracks all those sources minus search engines and direct browser visits (audiences typing in URLs or clicking bookmarked sites). It’s useful to see where traffic and conversions come from. You can measure back links from SEO, guest blog links, social media sites, banner ads on enewsletters or websites, etc. With proper tagging, this data can be sliced and diced further. You may wish to track ad networks, specific websites, videos, pre-roll, etc. It’s all here, as long as links from these sites are tagged using Google’s URL tag builder and you properly tag external links. Programs like Doubleclick can help this task if you’re buying multiple ad networks or DSPs, but you need to manually tag links for more granular referral link analysis.
For the custom report setup as above, notice the filter, denoting that all I want to see in the source report are referral mediums.
So here’s a brief example of a referral conversion report, showing traffic from external website links or ads.
Outcome: Determine what sources drive visits and conversions; analyzing banner ads, email, social media sites, traffic from directories or guest blog activity, and more.
Keyword Conversions- SEO
What organic unbranded keywords give me the most conversions and best conversion rates?
My goal with this report is to show organic keywords, or search engine terms brought traffic to the site. Again I am showing total goal completions and conversion rates, but you can also select specific conversion types from the drop down menus. My filters selected here: I want to show only organic mediums; I want to not show “not provided” and I want to not show a word within my client’s company name, in this case “Perry”. Therefore my report will only show unbranded keywords.
So here’s the report- showing Google/organic as well as the keyword (which you can see either by clicking on Google/organic in the report, or selecting the keyword dimension as a secondary dimension). The term “used process equipment” has the highest conversion rate.
Outcome: Determine which keywords you should focus on for website and ongoing search engine optimization, by reviewing keyword conversion rates.
Is Pay-per-click advertising performing well; and which keywords are most effective?
This sample report measures visits, new visitor percentage, total conversions and conversion rate again, plus also bounce rate to see which terms aren’t relevant. You can select many metrics that are available, but for this report, I chose the above. The dimensions allow 5 drilldowns. So, first I click campaigns to see campaign performance, then ad groups, to match type, to keyword, and finally matches search query. A matched search query is the actual term audiences used to find my pay-per-click ad.
Here’s an example of the final dimension; the matched search query report, which allows me to see which specific terms within my ad groups actually generated conversions. If these terms were profitable, but also competitive, I may consider increasing bids for terms with high conversion rates.
Outcome: Which keywords and terms had best conversion rates. By the way, with this report, you can also add a cost-per-conversion metric, and judge which ad groups and keywords were most cost-efficient.
Are you interested in conversion rate by number of visitor sessions, or how many pages visitors view?
This first custom report, comparing visit counts with conversions, will tell you if multiple site visits affect conversion rates. If you have a loyal blog following, or promote lots of content via social channels, you may see some trends
This second custom report compares conversion rates with how many pages audiences visit on your site. The goal here is to gauge where more engaged audiences convert better.
Here are the results: Page depth ranked by goal completions. The below example shows higher conversion rates when audiences view 7 or more pages. That makes sense, doesn’t it?
Well, you can spend hours configuring, analyzing, and making recommendations that affect marketing, media, and keyword strategy. By creating custom reports with Google Analytics, and analyzing the right data, you can perform true marketing and website optimization. This is just a taste of the kinds of reports you can make, and save them throughout all of your website profiles.
Are you analyzing the right data? Maybe I can help you.
Marketing Strategy: You Still Need to Persuade with Content ; Before Search and Social.
With so much marketing noise out there talking about inbound marketing, social media, and SEO, sometimes we forget one mission-critical component to marketing strategy; advertising. I have recently been engaged with some regional b2b firms, and have been asked to help generate leads and conversions. The two firms have similarities:
- They only wish to target regional markets due to competition and limited sales staff size
- They market very specific services; services that aren’t searched for on Google all that much
- They wish to use content to generate awareness toward audiences not in the purchase mode yet.
Targeting specific industries and specific geography does have its challenges from a scale and efficiency standpoint, but nevertheless if you’re creative enough, and have done thorough research on your target audiences and what mediums they consume, there are opportunities.
Generally, any marketing plan must address two types of audiences:
- Those not currently in the market for your service, but are potential leads if messaging addresses their needs. This process is called Outbound Marketing, and covers advertising, trade shows, and direct marketing.
- Those in the market; This marketing process is called Inbound Marketing, and covers paid search, search engine optimization, and social media. Be there when your prospects are looking; or lose a lead.
For firms that target regionally, SEO and social do bring concerns, because search engine listings and social chatter are national and international marketing strategies. Just something to be aware of if you target Pennsylvania, and get a lead from Michigan…
Lead Generation Overview
A lead generation engine encompasses the following elements.
- Websites and landing pages. However audiences find your website, they need to be convinced of your solutions. Once they are persuaded, visitors become inquiries. Relevant content, a professional look, and easy-to-follow navigation are the key elements to an optimal lead-generation website that converts prospects.
- Content Strategy. At the beginning of any lead generation is the message. Do your solutions embrace the needs of the target audience? Do the words; the tone; and the context of what’s written allow prospects to engage further? Does your brand resonate with your prospects? What is your value proposition and your points of differentiation? These and other issues need to be addressed before a tactical plan is implemented.
- Outbound and Inbound tactics. Development of a sound mix of tactics that encompass both outbound and inbound processes in order to reach the key decision makers.
- Nurture Strategy. Once inquiries enter your “funnel” many are not ready to buy yet. They need more education and evidence before contacting sales and beginning the closing process. Therefore content not just convinces visitors to become inquires, but also those inquiries to become sales opportunities.
From an outbound marketing standpoint, find out all of the print and digital portals that cover your specific industry, and do some homework. Remember, we’re reviewing geo-targeted marketing opportunities. You may find tactics such as these:
- Email blasts: Partner with a publisher to email relevant content or offers towards their email database
- Enewsletter sponsorships: Many times, publishers have regional editions of enewsletters. Find out about banner ad sponsorship availabilities
- Pre-printed inserts or regional ads. Can be pricey- but is an option.
- Geo-targeted banner ads on publication websites or industry portals
- List rental from publishers, giving you the ability to target geography, industries, and titles. Beware of minimal counts and spend however. Snail mail and email options exist.
In summary, I just wanted to give a quick overview on advertising and digital marketing opportunities if you are a local or regional b2b. By combining some of these options with regionally targeted pay-per-click on Google, Bing, or LinkedIn, you are reaching audiences who need you, and audiences who don’t need you yet, until your marketing convinces them. Isn’t that what advertising is all about?