Figure It Out With Web Analytics

Web Analytics

Let’s talk web analytics. This is the powerful little tool that is blessing for anyone with a digital footprint looking to optimize their space on the web. What I mean by this is that for marketers and other site owners, these tools allow us to see who is visiting our site, how they are using it, where they’re generally located, what they’re doing on the site. They can tell us what posts are working and what one’s are not. We can see what time of day is best to post on our social media sites. We can see if people are actively engaging with us, or just liking our content and moving along, or worse, not responding at all. Clearly, that’s more information than the average person thinks they’re leaving behind when visiting a website.

So what exactly are web analytics and how can you get them to improve your web presence? Many social media sites will have their own set of analytics; Facebook for example will show page owners how many people are viewing their page, their posts, the reach the posts have had, how many people like their page and so on. Lou Dubois from Inc. has complied a list of the 11 best web analytic tools available. On this list is of course the commonly known Google Analytics. Check out this short video to get an idea of what Google analytics can do for your website.

When you’re viewing these dimensions and metrics to improve the use of your site and ensuring your visitors are getting the most out their time while there. You’ve got all the information your chosen analytic tool has spit out, but how do you decipher what it means and make it easier to digest? You make it into a report of course! Megalytic put together some key elements to make sure your web analytic report is effective and easy to understand so you can pass it along to important stakeholders, potential or current clients, and who ever else has the pleasure of review this work of art.

To better understand the result of your reports, you want to make sure you have clear dates set, whether this is done monthly, quarterly, or annually. Next, you must elaborate on the data given. It’s not enough to just plug a chart or graph on the page. Make sure it’s written so that anyone who picks it up can understand what those number means and what the impact is. Another factor to include, and one that is quite important, is to include the return on investment (ROI), not just the traffic passing through. The ROI will help to put number into perspective as to what’s really working, what’s really not working and needs to be adjusted. From there you can go back to the strategic marketing plan and make the appropriate changes to get your web presence where it needs to be to stay competitive in the online battle field.

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Native Advertising: Innovative or Deceptive?

Native Advertising

As the years go on and our culture becomes more immersed in consumerism, it’s becoming more difficult to advertise in a traditional sense. The digital world has played a large role in this. It seems this online culture is making consumers more cunning to the advertising ways and the more time consumers spend online the less time they spend watching television, reading the newspaper, staring up at billboards. Advertisers now have to figure out way to get in front of their audience, when personal smart devices are monopolizing their audience’s attention. Technology is so advanced now that consumers have the ability to block ads or to skip past them. YouTube videos often offer viewers the opportunity to skip the ad after a few seconds to get to the video they came to watch. Another issue advertisers often face is that consumers have become so desensitized to ads all over the web, they don’t even notice them anymore.

This leads to one of the reasons why consumers often times have a hard time trusting ads. It’s widely known that consumers prefer to take advise from their friends, family, or even a fellow consumer they may not even know, rather than listen to an advertisement. With the growth in popularity of blogs and online editorials, advertisers have found a way to play off the widely consumed platforms and advertise to consumers, sometimes without them even knowing it.

The trend is called Native Advertising. This occurs when a company sponsors an advertorial that looks exactly like a regular blog post or online editorial. Hootsuite noted that popular site Buzzfeed and even Forbes magazine are guilty of this new trend. They state that these platforms are capitalizing on the desperate nature of brands seeking new ways to appeal to their consumers and allow them to publish paid for content among the site original content.

There has been some controversy over native advertising. Some call it despicable as it is hard to tell the difference as the reader is not looking for it, while others say there should be no issue as the work is noted as being sponsored or promoted by an interested brand. This clip from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver is both hilarious and informative, though his points are often exaggerated, he does shed a light on the possible ethical dilemma surrounding the subject.

Native advertising began in print material but was easier to see through. It quickly jumped online with everyone and can be found in online advertorials, online video advertorials, and branded or sponsored content. Though this mode of advertising may catch some heat, it doesn’t always have to be seen that way. Damien Farnworth from Copyblogger compiled a list of examples of native advertisements and why they work. Make sure your content is represented as sponsored or branded, this shows that you’re not trying to be deceptive to your audience. Create content that is honest and is gear toward your intended audience. Make sure your advertising answers to their needs while giving you the actionable goal you set out for. Just like in any other relationship, the best practice is to be open and honest and think about the other person first, this follows true for the brand-consumer advertising relationship too.

Social Media: Your Branding Multi-Tool

Social media is a phenomenon that has taken off and rocked all of us like a hurricane. For some, it may seem like just yesterday the only way to electronically communicate with someone was through email. Today, we have hundreds of different social media outlets to connect with others. Social media has not only provided an abundance of communication outlets but it has created a new language, new behaviour patterns, it has even changed our thought processes, as well as social and business functions. Social media has changed the world.

Shea Bennett of AdWeek found that the average Internet user has 5 different social media networks.

Average Personal Social Accounts

The number of social media sites held by large corporations is a little bit larger at 178 sights.

Average Number of Corporate Social Accounts

Why is there such a large gap between the number of social media sites held by each group? Is it necessary for a company to run such a high number of social media accounts? This, of course, will depend on your target audience and if you have the manpower to make sure all accounts are being used in the intended way. Your company will want to choose social media platforms their target audience is using. There is no reason for your company to have an account on Facebook just because everyone else is on Facebook. In other words, If your target audience isn’t on there, you don’t need to be there either. You want to make sure the social media platforms you choose are going to be of benefit to your audience, and to you. Choose wisely and make sure you have a strategic plan of attack.

You’ve probably noticed a theme so far. Everything comes down to creating content that your audience will be attracted to and having smart, integrated strategic plan. It may seem pretty straight forward and almost like common sense, but as with all other things, we know common sense is not that common. There are occasions where having more than one account on a single social media platform is necessary. For example, if the corporation is large with multiple locations, each one may require their own account to update consumers with location specific information. When all is said and done, the most important details are the content posted and making sure the account is active and relevant for you audience. Social media is a great way to communicate and engage with your consumers and can result in some powerful earned media. So go forth and get social!

Creating Content Your Audience Wants to See

Flow Chart of User Centered Content

So you want to create website. This site may be for your new blog detailing your fitness journey or maybe all the amazing gluten free recipes you’re creating. Maybe it’s detailing the incredible world voyage you’re on to find out who you are. Maybe it’s because you’re an expert in your field and you want a more creative outlet to impart your wisdom. The site maybe for your business, whether it’s new or mature but you realize a web presence is mandatory. You probably have some really great ideas, and, most likely, a really clear vision of how you want. You find yourself almost giddy with excitement just thinking about your digital brain child and how it’s going to be the “best site ever!” because you know how to fix all the things that bother you on other sites. You’ve learned from their mistakes right!?

Wrong! Well, maybe not entirely wrong but not entirely right either. There are a couple different reasons why you feel annoyed about certain aspects of other websites. First, you most likely are not the target audience the site was designed to attract or engage with. Second, the site’s design was most likely created with what the site’s owner had in mind. So why are these an issue? When you design a web presence, don’t you want something you’re proud to show off? The answer my friends, is quite simple. To attract an audience!

Of course you want your site to be something you’re proud of, something you intend to share with other people, consumers, who too think it’s a pleasing virtual place to visit. The important thing to keep in mind here is that you are designing a site for OTHERS to visit, not you. So when creating content on your site, keep them in mind. Of course you want a balance here, something you as the owner likes and holds true to your brand’s image, but do that with you’re consumers and target audience in mind.

An article by TJ McCue suggests that before getting started on your site, ask yourself a few questions. What is it that you want to accomplish? Who is the audience you’re targeting? Do a little research about them and figure out how your business goals best match their characteristics. Next, establish what your site goals are. These will help facilitate your business goals. When doing this, be sure that you have a clear and specific idea of who your target audience is. This will help to understand what they are looking to do in the website, what appeals to them visually, and what content will be of interest to them. Another important factor to remember when creating goals is set timelines on them. Without a finish line in sight, it’s hard to determine if your site is successful or if you’re getting closer to reaching your goals. Some might be on going, but not all of them should be. Don’t worry if you come up short on achieving your goals; that means you have the chance to reevaluate your site and improve it. A nice way to lay all this information out before creating your site is to design a “wireframe” and sketch to get the image and goals clear to all those involved in the process. BootstrapMaster has great advice in this preparation area.

This system of researching, measuring and adapting is an ongoing cycle you will track during the life span of your site. It may sound time consuming but trust me, it’s worth it! The worst thing you could do to your site, the one you’ve put so much work and car into, is to make it live and leave it to waste away in the virtual wayside. Keep your site competitive, keep your site engaging, and keep it adapting to your consumers changing wants and needs.

The Media Trio: Paid, Earned, Owned

paid, owned, earned integrated media

It seems since the dawn of the new Internet, “Web 2.0”, everyone is hopping on the digital footprint train. The Internet has grown and changed the world. As Miley would say, “it came in like a wrecking ball” or Godzilla on steroids, crushing the way we once communicated with one another, the way we lived our lives, even the way we would conduct business. Everyone, and everything, is now online.

Keep in mind, not all media is created the same online. Marketers recognize three online media categories, paid, earned and owned. For the most part, these categories are exactly as the sound. Daniel Newman, Forbes contributor, got it right when he said that a company simply couldn’t choose one of the three media platforms. There are differences between them but they all blend into each other in someway. An online marketing plan cannot succeed with one platform alone; it needs a balanced and integrated plan to do so. When a combination of attractive and clean paid efforts are coupled with desirable consumer focused owned content, positive earned media will follow and strengthen the loyalty from consumers and the reputation of your brand.

So what are these three media categories?

Paid

Paid media is ad space companies purchase on website, search engines, even on social media sites. They are usually easy to spot with a “sponsored” or “ad” mark on them somewhere. They are used to advertise some type of sale occurring or other incentive to get consumers to click on the ad and bring them to their website.

Earned

Earned media occurs when consumers acknowledge a company in some way. This can occur through likes, comments or shares on a social media site or being tagged in a post. It can even happen when consumers check in on their social media sites while at the physical location. It’s word of mouth advertising, only online. Due to its unsolicited nature, this form of media can be both a blessing and a curse. We know word of mouth has the most impact when consumers are making decisions and this is because it’s coming from fellow consumers we can trust because they will generally be unbiased. What do they have to gain from speaking positively about a company? On the flip side, it can also be the most damaging, and for the same reasons. There is high risk, high reward with this media, so be sure to keep a keen eye and handle with care.

Owned

Owned media is all media that the company itself own, runs, and creates itself. From the company’s official Facebook page, verified Twitter account, Pinterest board, to its actual website, these channels are controlled by the company. They decide what is posted, when it’s posted and how consumers can engage with it. Owned media is important to use a media hub for all other sources. It’s where consumers can go directly to get specific information about your company. Owned media does take some time to generate a return on your investment but it can be highly effective due to the control you have. Just make sure you content has been optimized for search engines (SEO) and created with your audience in mind by creating a detailed content marketing strategy.

Check out the infographic below which highlights the differences between paid, earned and owned media on social media and how they work together to share the brands story. Also, stay tuned for my next blog post, “How to Create Content Your Audience Actually WANTS to See” to get some tips and tricks on how to create a successful plan to get your target audience following your owned media.

Paid Earned Owned Social Media