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Date: Wednesday, 08 Oct 2014 15:00

10-years-later-blog
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The year was 2004, and I was unemployed.

So I networked, networked, networked, and then I wanted to thank all those people who took time out to have coffee with me. Often, I heard myself saying, “Why don’t you let me evaluate your web analytics?” Most of those companies had some crummy server-side analytics, and somehow I found insight in all those metrics.

Gradually, I found a business for myself and landed a few gigs. I was an early user of Google Analytics, and I kept trying to figure out how to make this interesting tool more powerful. What is that setVar thing, I kept wondering, and what is so regular about those expressions?

Even though I really didn’t understand why _udn should be equal to none, I still knew more about analytics than I did about SEO. So I hired my first search employee, Taylor Pratt, in 2006. By March 2007, I had written enough about Regular Expressions that Google asked our company – all two of us – to become a Google Analytics Certified Partner. I found out that we had been listed on the Google Analytics Partner page when Sirius/XM called us for GA consulting.

It sounds good, but I had problems. We didn’t have enough revenue; we still didn’t really rank organically. We didn’t have enough cash flow, and the CEO was a control freak (that was me). Then the Great Recession of 2008 hit.

It was an amazing wake-up call.

The process took both work and years, but I learned to change my management style, and with that came other changes. I came to value my employees more than anything. I learned that smart employees like to hang out with each other, and now we try hard to only hire the best, even if that means turning away work while we wait to find the right people.

By having the best players, we gradually made a name for ourselves, and the phone rings with inbound sales.

The potential customer says, “Oh, everyone knows who you are. I’ve been reading your stuff for years.”

Or the customer writes, “Yeah, I met one of your guys at Pubcon years ago. That’s why I’m calling you to talk about Google Analytics Premium.

The best is when the current customer writes, “I love working with {insert any LunaMetrician name here}. I want to do another project with your company, and please be sure that I get to work with the same analyst.

OK, it wasn’t quite that simple. We have amazing discipline when it comes to our blog and content creation. We put an amazing amount of time into training each other and ourselves. I was blessed and cursed to have lots of empathy/anxiety, so if the phone rings and no one answers it, or if the customer doesn’t get white glove service, I get upset.

5000_color stacked-250pxSo here it is, 2014. We’re still a small company – just under twenty people – but we now work with Fortune 1000 companies, with the federal government, and with the United Nations. In 2013, we won the trifecta, but in 2014, we won the Quintifecta (I made up that word).

We made the Pittsburgh 100 list for fastest growing local companies – we were the second fastest growing tech company. We also made the Tech 50 list for innovative technology companies, the Best Places to Work list, and the Diamond List for leadership. Finally, we came in at #1525 on the Inc. 5000 list this year.

Owning your own business does have its risks, but it has rewards as well, and this is a time to celebrate. Many thanks to the crew at Google Analytics Premium, our great customers, and especially to the whole team here at LunaMetrics. You guys rock!

ten-year

Author: "Robbin Steif" Tags: "Miscellaneous"
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Date: Monday, 06 Oct 2014 15:12

blog-stopblogging

The odds are that my company’s marketing manager is scowling at me right now. Heck, the odds are that your company’s marketing manager is scowling at me right now. Why? Content marketing is tough to measure, yet essential to so many businesses. But someone needs to say it: Not every organization should have a blog.

Gasp!

The industry might take away my SEO license for saying that. After all, it is in our job description to be champions of content and all things that lead to more successful digital marketing. Unfortunately, too many people write too many blog posts simply for the sake of blogging, like an offering made without question to the God of Content Marketing.

The God of Content Marketing wants more content!

Sorry, buddy. No free lunch. Every channel, including the cryptic content marketing formula, must earn its spot in the marketing mix. Time is money, and we can’t spend money without a return on it.

Content Marketing ROI Questions

This post provides several questions that you should ask about your current content marketing strategy. Maybe your blog is worth more than you realize. Or maybe the world will have one less underwhelming post to read tomorrow. Either way, everybody wins.

Note: For the sake of consistency, I will often refer to blogs as the home of a content strategy. Surely, content marketing is much broader than yoursite.com/blog but I will leave that for you to determine.

1. Does your content lead to hard ($) conversions?

Create custom segments in Google Analytics that highlight traffic that visits your content assets and traffic that does not. If you are new to custom segments, use this overview from Google then mimic the following screenshot.

Custom segment for blog users

Once pages on domain.com/blog are segregated, you can learn a lot about content marketing’s direct impact on the bottom line. In this example, we can see that the blog plays a huge role in digital conversions.

Home page v. blog ROI

Compare that to the following company, where the blog has a less direct role in the conversion process. For this site, traffic that comes through the home page (a.k.a. front door) has a higher value.

Comparing blog and home page ROI

If your company more closely resembles the latter screenshot, your time might be better spent on an awareness campaign or something else that would drive branded traffic to the home page, which is where nearly half of the conversions begin.

2. What is the value of content marketing traffic?

If you sell $200,000 widgets or homes or consulting, it is unrealistic to expect a blog to directly (or immediately) lead to conversions. It likely has soft (non-$) goals like fostering brand awareness or showing thought leadership. That can be difficult to quantify, but here are three examples to start the process.

Share of corporate voice (as we’ll call it) is how much each marketing channel contributes to a company’s total reach. Digitally speaking, blogs can be a significant component, as is the case with this company.

Company with lots of blog traffic

Content marketing makes up the vast majority of their traffic. Without it, brand exposure (follow by sales) would immediately decrease. That might not be the case for someone like this.

Company without much blog traffic

Perhaps time and money should be invested in the pages that do generate traffic, rather than blog posts that (relatively speaking) do not.

Target market ratio for content marketing measures how many of visitors are members of the brand’s top audience. This is easiest to calculate for organizations with local audiences with a custom segment in Google Analytics.

Blog visits from local people

Compare that to this blog, where only a fraction of the visitors are local. Which would you prefer if you knew your customers came from a specific city or region?

Non-local blog visitors

Link building should be a component of most content marketing strategies. Does your content earn links? We can see that in Google Analytics, too. This custom segment groups non-social referral traffic to the blog.

Non-social blog referrals

Can the blog be thanked for a considerable portion of your digital authority? Although difficult to quantify, domain authority has value, especially if organic search traffic is valuable to your business.

3. What to Do with Benefits that Cannot Be Quantified?

Not all soft (non-$) content marketing goals can be quantified. I asked a wise co-worker about this issue and he referenced three several content marketing benefits that are difficult to calculate.

  • Industry Thought Leadership
  • Examples of Company Expertise
  • Industry Share of Voice

Ok, it’s time pull your weight. What things are difficult for you to measure and how do you do it? Please share in the comments.

Author: "Andrew Garberson" Tags: "Analytics, Conversion, Google Analytics"
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Date: Thursday, 02 Oct 2014 19:42

blog-navigation

The Problem

You just optimized the main navigation on your site to make it easier for users to find the more “popular” pages. But did the changes do the trick? Did they improve the user experience? Your boss is breathing down your neck to get answers to these questions.

The Solution

The Navigation Summary report in Google Analytics. This is a little-known report, tucked away in the Behavior > Site Content > All Pages report.

The Navigation Summary report is perfect for this type of analysis. It lets you choose a page (e.g. the homepage), and will show you the previous page a user was on before getting to that page, and the next page they went to. For example, we can focus on the homepage, and see where our users went next.

Step 1: Go to the Behavior > Site Content > All Pages report

Step 2: Click on the Navigation Summary tab (above the line graph)

Step 3: Choose the homepage (“/”) for the Current Selection

Step 4: Change your date range to begin after the navigation change. Then check the Compare to box to choose a comparison date range before the navigation change. (Be sure to line up the days so you’re comparing Mondays to Mondays, Tuesdays to Tuesdays, etc.)

navigation summary overview

Now your Navigation Summary report has transformed into a quick way to find out if certain pages are receiving a smaller share “clicks” from the homepage and if other pages’ share of “clicks” are increasing. I use “clicks” in quotes because it’s not really reporting clicks on links, but the percentage of pageviews of the page listed in the Next Page Path dimension.

Take a look at the table of data on the right, which shows Next Page Path. Look for any big winners and losers here. Are there any pages which saw an increase? Decrease?

Navigation Summary

In the example above, the old navigation was a static list of links to the main sections of the site, with no drop downs. The new navigation still had the same static links to the main sections, but also revealed drop down menus (when mousing over) that showed the more popular pages within those sections.

By adding the drop down, it let users more quickly and easily get to the pages they were looking for directly from the homepage (1 click). Before, they would have had to click to a main section page, then look for the page from there (2 clicks).

Looking at the above, it’s easy to see that the first page (/academics/schools/programs) and the last two listed (/academics/undergraduatemajors and /academics/graduateprograms) all saw an increase in pageviews from the homepage. Meanwhile, other pages saw less pageviews from the homepage following the navigation update.

CautionThis report will show more than just changes to your navigation. It will reflect any links on the page as well (e.g. if you added a promotional banner on the homepage, you’d likely also see an increase to that page).

Other Considerations

This report is a helpful glance at the data and can be great to look at after the fact. If you know you’re going to be implementing navigation changes in the future – considering adding events to your navigation before and after, so you can measure the changes more clearly.

Author: "Jim Gianoglio" Tags: "Analytics, Google Analytics"
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Date: Thursday, 25 Sep 2014 15:29

smx_panels_2014

I am attending SMX East

 

I’ve got my pass for SMX East 2014 and I’m ready to go to one of the biggest Search Marketing conferences in the country. After scouring the agenda, I thought I’d share my top must-see panels with you, as well as give you this Twitter cheat sheet of key moderators to follow: