An absolute beginner’s guide to setting up Google Analytics for your website

new account

This article was originally published on our sister site ClickZ, but it’s so helpful we thought we’d share it here too.

Our beginner’s guide to Google Analytics teaches you how to set up an account that is linked to your site and recommends a few basic metrics to look at.

Google Analytics is a free service that tracks and reports website traffic. Providing insight into the demographics of site visitors, the performance of a specific campaign, and how long people are staying on your site for, are just a few of the many things the program is capable of.

This data gives you an all round better view of how your site is doing and allows you to understand what improvements can be made to make sure you’re optimizing different areas for maximum conversion.

In the below tutorial, we will walk you through some basics of Google Analytics and what you need to do in order to get started.

Set up an account

If you have a major Google account such as Gmail or YouTube, you are eligible to create a Google Analytics account by following the below instructions.

This account should be only accessed by YOU. Of course, you can authorize other people to act on your behalf if necessary. However, you will not want them to take full control over your data.

For example, ClickZ has granted me access to the company account, but I cannot change account and property settings. This is done to protect the publication and ensure that if I leave, other admins will still have access to the overall account.

my account

In comparison, I can do whatever I want with my personal Google Analytics.

Add tracking code to your website

Google Analytics cannot work until it is linked to your webpages. When you finish setting up a new account, Google will ask you to “Get Tracking ID.” Click on the button and you will see your code.

tracking code

You can always go back to your tracking information under “Property.”

my account 2

This code needs to be added to every page. How to install it depends on your content type. For instance, some Tumblr templates only require the Universal Analytics (UA) code, as show below.

tumblr tracking code

While some blog platforms like WordPress may ask for full script, if you build a website with HTML files, you can edit HTML and paste the code before “”.

Today many websites like ClickZ are using Google Tag Manager to implement tracking code.

Manage your site search

Once you connect Google Analytics with your website, you can set up site search to know what visitors are looking for on your website.

In “View Settings,” turn on site search tracking and enter your website name and URL. The query parameter is usually “s” or “q.” You can determine yours by searching on your own site.

ClickZ site search - S

For example, if you enter “mobile” into ClickZ‘s search bar, you will see s= (ClickZ‘s query parameters) followed by your query.

Site search - mobile

You can also contact your company’s web development department to identify the query parameter for your site.

After you save all the settings, Google Analytics will be able to track any searches made on your website.

Goal set up

Aside from site search, you should also set up a goal so Google Analytics can track important activities on your site. For example, an e-commerce platform may trigger a confirmation page for every placed order, or a digital publisher may create a “Thank You” page when a reader subscribes to its newsletter.

To set up a goal, go to “Goals,” create “New Goal,” and choose “Custom” under “Goal setup.” Then go to “Next Step” where you can name your goal (“Subscribe Success” for example) and select “Destination” if an activity ends on a “Thank You.” If your conversion goal is one step further and you’d like your visitors to watch a video clip after they have reached the Thank You page, then you can add “Event” tracking to your goal set up in order to measure this.

goal setup 2

Each goal type has its own requirements and can be customized to what your own KPIs are. In the example of “Subscribe Success” below, I decided to forego “Destination” and go straight to “Event” in order to measure conversions.

goal setup 3

Google Analytics will start measuring conversation when a described activity is triggered. You can create up to 20 goals on your website.

Basic Google Analytics metrics

You can customize many Google Analytics reports based on your needs. But in “Audience Overall,” you can find some basic yet useful stats around your website.

Take our sister publication Search Engine Watch (SEW) for instance – you can view positive changes in pageviews and sessions from last September to date. Hovering over the line will show you the number of pageviews and sessions for a particular day. (We’ve erased some of the data below as we don’t want to give away all our secrets!)

search engine watch

Under the graph, Google Analytics tells you more about the number of users, bounce rate, average session duration, as well as the ratio of new visitors to returning visitors.

SEW 2

Beneath those main metrics, Google Analytics also shows demographics of SEW‘s readers, including their countries, languages, and devices where they consume content.

Other more in-depth metrics include audience report, acquisition report, behavior report, and conversions report. For example, once you have linked social media and Google Analytics, you will be able to track a particular social media campaign and get related stats under “Acquisition.”

Acquisitin

We hope you’ve enjoyed our first installment of Google Analytics for beginners. Stay tuned for the next in the series soon!

Which UK sites lost Google visibility in 2015?

01-thefind

We recently looked at the UK sites which made the biggest SEO gains in 2015, and now it’s time to look at the ‘losers’.

The Sistrix visibility index looks at the sites which dropped down. Interestingly, while previous ranking falls have been blamed on Google’s algorithmic changes, there were fewer of these in 2015.

This means that the drops in visibility are more likely to be due to fallout from redesigns and domain name changes. For example, H&M managed to reduce the amount of top ten ranking keywords from 829 to 181 after a redesign.

Here I’ll show some of the losers. Not necessarily the top losers, but interesting cases…

Thefind.com

This is the domain which lost most visibility in 2015.

This shopping engine was bought by Facebook in March 2015 and was subsequently closed down. Its rankings had been very erratic before then though.

Adviceguide.org.uk

This was the third biggest loser, but all is not as it seems.

It looks like its rankings fall off a cliff at the beginning of the year, but it actually rebranded as Citizensadvice.org.uk.

All went well though, and the visibility seems to have been transferred from old domain to new.

03b-adviceguide.org_.uk_

Bankfashion.co.uk

In contrast to the previous example, this shows how badly sites can get it wrong.

The domain was merged into ark.co.uk but, instead of redirecting pages on the Bank site to their equivalent on Ark, all links were just pointed at the Ark homepage.

A big mistake. As the chart shows, most of Bank’s search visibility was lost overnight.

4b-bankfashion.co_.uk_

Last.fm

Last.fm was an excellent music recommendation site but a combination of poorly executed redesigns and the rise of Spotify have seen its search visibility nosedive.

It underwent various product changes and site redesigns during 2012 which didn’t help, before a redesign in August 2015 provoked a massive user backlash.

last.fm_

The background to all of this is the rise of Spotify. The ability to stream a massive range of music on demand (last.fm users couldn’t choose specific songs) turned out to be more popular in the long-term, even though last.fm had some excellent features.

We can see that the decline of last.fm occurs at the same time as Spotify’s growth.

last spotify

Here, while mistakes may have been made with product and redesign, the ranking drops are the result of reduced levels of user interest over time.

For the full list of the 100 domains which lost visibility, see the Sistrix blog.

How to prove your mobile site or app will deliver ROI

app development costs

This article was originally published on our sister site ClickZ, but it’s so helpful we thought we’d share it here too.

No mobile project should get the green light until there has been a thorough economic feasibility assessment to evaluate if the potential benefits will exceed the costs of developing, promoting and running it.

Conducting an economic feasibility study, which determines if your mobile site, web app or native app will deliver return on investment (ROI), is a critical stage of the feasibility assessment process.

Even if the technical, operational and schedule feasibility tests outlined in the previous column deliver favorable results, the board is unlikely to invest until they see the economics of the project are proven.

To be persuasive an economic feasibility report must:

  • Detail, quantify, and justify – in financial terms – the benefits of the project.
  • Detail the total costs over the entire lifetime of the project.
  • Calculate when the project will break even.

This should be done for each of the different options for the project e.g. outsource v build yourself; web based v native app.

Noah Elkin, a mobile marketing veteran and co-author of Mobile Marketing: An Hour a Day?

ROI is a metric that generally catches the attention of the higher-ups. If you clearly establish the benefits you expect your strategy or a specific set of tactics to yield, it will be that much easier to justify investment in your efforts from those who control the cash flow. It’s a matter of thinking about it from their perspective.

Guides to conducting economic feasibility studies for mobile projects are hard to find – though this infographic by Kona is a useful introduction to mobile app ROI.

But you can apply a mobile interpretation to the methodologies for IT projects such as these by the departments of computer science at University of Waterloo and University of Toronto.

How to establish the benefits of your project

There are three steps to establishing benefits:

  • Establish the clearly defined goals for the project – these should have been identified and rationalized through stakeholder interviews, customer research and competitor analysis.
  • Identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) for each goal. These are the metrics against which the success of the project will be measured.
  • Quantify the value to the firm of these in financial terms – this will be difficult some KPIs, but rarely impossible.
  • For a customer-facing site or app the goals, KPIs and financial value might be:

    Improved brand awareness

    KPIs: media mentions; social media mentions.

    Financial measurement of value: estimate how much achieving these KPIs would cost through other activates e.g. public relations or advertising.

    Improved mobile search results

    Increased use of website by mobile devices and reduction in mobile users abandoning site.

    KPIs: use web analytics to track the proportion of mobile users on the site, improved time on site; and conversions (e.g. sign-ups, sales).

    Financial value: estimate how much achieving these KPIs would cost through other activates e.g. search engine marketing, PR or ads.

    Generating footfall instore, to restaurant or event etc.

    KPIs: increased store visits attributable to mobile. Attribution is tricky, but trackable through the redeeming of mobile vouchers instore, use of mobile ticketing, and monitoring the use of stock-checker or store finder tool on the mobile site.

    Financial value: compare footfall attributable to other media and how much it would cost to generate a similar improvement in traffic e.g. via print or TV ads.

    Business leads

    KPIs: sign-ups to email and SMS alerts; client use of click-to-call or click-to-email on mobile site to contact company with questions about product or services.

    Financial value: as above, compare lead generation attributable to other media and how much it would cost to generate a similar improvement in leads e.g. via print or TV ads.

    Sales

    KPIs: direct m-commerce sales made via the mobile site; indirect sales instore or online that can be attributed to mobile.

    Financial value: for m-commerce, calculate the number of sales made by people using mobile devices, track improvement and compare with total sales; calculating mobiles contribution to sales in other channels, e.g. where a product is researched on mobile, but purchased instore, is harder to attribute and quantify, but far from impossible.

    Improved loyalty

    KPIs: customer retention; return visits to mobile or physical store; sign-up for loyalty program, email or SMS alerts; mobile traffic to loyalty program site, download of loyalty app; redeeming of mobile vouchers or using repeat-buy discount codes.

    Financial value: track increases in the proportion of sign-ups to loyalty program etc. attributable to mobile; estimate the cost of boosting loyalty sign-ups via other media.

    The goals and KPIs will be different for an enterprise app. An enterprise app is one that is used internally with a company to “mobilize” its workforce i.e. give them access to corporate applications from the mobile devices.

    These are measured in terms of productivity and cost savings for relevant departments: see Kony for more details.

    It is also important to establish and track the goals and KPIs of the mobile site or app itself. But unless you are a start-up company where your site/app is your entire business, these should not be confused with the business goals above.

    It doesn’t matter how many people use you website or app if it delivers no measurable improvement in brand awareness, loyalty, leads and, most importantly, sales.

    Goals/KPIs of the website/app include:

    • Volume of regular users
    • User retention
    • Time of engagement
    • Conversions – e.g. signups, sales.
    • Revenue generated from paid app downloads or web/app advertising.

    When estimating benefits is important to stay realistic.

    Noah Elkin:

    If you’re a retailer, don’t compare usage frequency with Starbucks or time spent with Facebook, because chances are your customers won’t need to buy something from your store with the same regularity as they get their daily coffee or communicate with their social graph.

    How to establish the costs of your project

    It is critical to calculate the entire cost of the project – that is everything from the conception of the project right through to the cost of decommissioning it at the end of its life.

    It includes the costs of all criteria technical and operational feasibility tests. All the costs of design, build, launch, running and maintenance costs, scheduled updates, all related wages and training and, arguably the most important, marketing. Gartner calls this total cost of ownership (TCO).

    Design and build costs

    The costs will be unique to each project, but – big or small – they will share a similar cost structure.

    Magnus Jern, president DMI International:

    What is the cost of developing a mobile app? This is one of the most common asked questions by clients. The answer is somewhere between zero and $40M. The zero option is using an online app tools such as AppMakr and the $50M could relate to a full enterprise mobility solution.

    How much does it cost to develop a responsive website? Assuming like-for-like functionality, the total cost doesn’t differ that much from a native app, with the website perhaps coming in a bit cheaper.

    How do costs break down? The entire project will usually take up to 5-6 months to the initial release, but this is made up of seven phases. While development will be the largest of these, it terms of time and budget, it will be as little as 40 percent of the cost of the total project.

    The phases are:

  • Discovery and research
  • Service concept design
  • Prototyping and design
  • Technical solution architecture
  • Development of the app, integration, backend development and setup
  • Testing and launching
  • Launch and post launch roadmap.
  • For each of these phases outlined by Jern you need to estimate the time – and thus budget – to complete all the tasks. In the following chart, Jern estimates the time required for each stage, in the development of a quality app or responsive site.

    So what does that mean in cash terms?

    Magnus Jern:

    The rates per category for app development in US or UK are approximately:

    • In-house developer: US$550 / man day (including salary, taxes, insurance, etc.)
    • Contractor: $800 / man day
    • Large system integrator: $800 / man day
    • Premium mobile developer: $1000 / man day

    The cost schedule above does not include the operational and promotional costs, which also need to be budgeted for.

    Operational costs

    Operational costs might include:

    • Appointing and training staff to administer the mobile site or app.
    • Running costs including regular content updates and promotions to keep people coming back.
    • Answering customer queries via email and SMS. Monitoring comments on site and reviews.
    • Maintaining relationships with partners such as content providers.
    • For an internal app, operational costs will include training staff to use the app and help desk.

    Promotional costs

    Mobile sites, web apps and native apps all need a promotional strategy.

    As web properties simply require a user to click a link in search results, email, SMS, social media etc. marketing is less of a challenge for web than native apps, but will still benefit from an investment in search engine optimization (SEO), search advertising, email and social media marketing.

    Native apps require the user to visit an app store to download the app to their smartphone (assuming they have the right type of device) which is likely to require considerably more marketing effort than web would.

    It is not uncommon to see apps advertised on TV, billboards and print, as well as bombarding mobile users with web and in-app advertising.

    Calculate the costs that will be incurred through your go-to-market strategy as you target users through:

    • Owned media – your own website, email and SMS subscribers.
    • Paid media – advertising on search engines, social media, third party websites and apps.
    • Earned media – press, blog and social media coverage.

    It is also imperative take into account expenditure on search engine optimization (to improve where your web site/app appears in search results) and app store optimization (to help improve “discoverability” of you native app).

    Mick Rigby, CEO of London-based mobile media agency Yodel Mobile:

    The majority of mobile app developers reach the end of their development stage, then when they come to deploy the app find they have a huge hole in their marketing budget. The app stores are the most heavily contested marketplaces, so if there is insufficient budget to market and promote the app, it will die without anyone knowing about it.

    If you want it to be discovered than yes, 80% of your overall app budget should go into marketing. This isn’t just about advertising, it also includes app store optimization and on-boarding as well as social, PR and external CRM.

    For mobile websites or web apps you don’t need to spend as much on promotion. There’s a shorter user acquisition journey and a less competitive marketplace to advertise in. I’d recommend 50 percent of the overall budget.

    There is no average spend. It really depends on the category and expectations. For example, to get your native app into the app store top ten for gaming – one of the most competitive categories – you would be looking at investing upwards of £150,000 ($214,000) a month in mobile advertising in the UK and three or four times that investment in the US.

    The go-to-market strategy itself will be looked at in more detail in the next column.

    Estimate the life expectancy

    Over time all projects deliver diminishing benefits, until eventually they become outdated, irrelevant and unused. Constant refreshing of content and a regular schedule of new versions, will stem this decay, but will not arrest it.

    The rate of decay of native applications is particularly severe, due to the intense level of competition from competing apps for the limited amount of space on each user’s smartphone.

    According to Flurry (2014) one half of native apps lose half their peak users within three months. Some app types have a better half-life than others: news (7 months on average), health, business, communication (all 6 months) and tools apps (5.5 months).

    There is no equivalent study for mobile sites and web apps. But assuming a regular flow of new content, a good ranking on search engines and regular enticements to return in emails, SMS, social media and marketing materials, the half-life and thus life-span for a good web site/app should be measured in years as opposed to months.

    Calculating the cost v benefit

    There are several methodologies for calculating the cost/benefit of your project, two of the easier ones to understand are Payback analysis and Return on Investment (ROI).

    Payback analysis

    This method calculates when the project will break even.

    So, for example the total cost of the project including development, operational, promotion and running costs comes to $560,000 and the project delivers financial benefits of $150,000 in year one, $300,000 in year two, $250,000 in year three and $150,000 in year four.

    This project will payback during year three, because by the end of year three the project will have generated $700,000 in cumulate financial benefits, which is greater than $560,000.

    As the project has a life expectancy of more than three years, it is economically feasible. If the life expectancy was less than three years it would not be feasible. When comparing different projects or alternatives for the project, a shorter payback period is preferable.

    To find the precise break-even point follow the methodology outlined by Castro and Mylopoulos.

    Return on investment (ROI)

    This method is useful for comparing the profitability over the lifetime of the project between different alternatives e.g. outsource v build yourself; web based v native app. And between this project and others projects that are competing for the same investment funds.

    So, if the life expectancy of the project is four years and the total costs over the period are $560,000 and the project delivers $850,000 in benefits over four years the ROI is calculated as follows:

    Total benefits – total costs = $850,000 – $560,000 = 52%

    Total costs $560,000

    Repeat this process for the alternatives and compare which version is the most economically viable.

    Note both of the Payback and ROI analysis have been simplified to explain the methodologies. For more in depth studies see Castro and Mylopoulos.

    The following table shows how economic feasibility might be reported on feasibility matrix (numbers are for illustrative purposes only):

    What ratio of cost vs reward is the norm? How fast does a website or an app pay off?

    Magnus Jern:

    Many enterprise apps have a return of investment in as little as three to six months with investments up to $500,000. The reason is simply that the cost savings and productivity increases are huge.

    On the other hand most start-ups take at least 12-18 months before their app will break even and they can pay off the initial investment. 85 percent of all start-ups last less than three years which means that they will probably never pay off the original investment.

    Next steps

    The next stage after completing your economic feasibility assessment is to evaluate your go-to-market strategy.
    These will be covered in the next article.

    This is the seventh part of the ClickZ ‘DNA of mobile-friendly web’ series.

    Here are the others:

  • Six mobile strategy questions.
  • How to identify your mobile audience
  • Why prioritize mobile-friendly websites and apps
  • Web apps: advantages of native apps in a web browser
  • How to test the viability of your mobile project
  • Assessing the technical and operational feasibility of your mobile project
  • Andy Favell is ClickZ columnist on mobile. He is a London-based freelance mobile/digital consultant, journalist and web editor.

    Contact him via Linkedin or Twitter @Andy_Favell.

    Is Google manipulating autocomplete results for UK political parties?

    This is bonkers

    What do the autocomplete results for the UK’s political parties tell us about the the corporate and political world, and how are they corrupting your search results?

    It’s a conspiracy! Political sabotage! Search engine optimisation in the hands of evil puppet-masters!

    If you’ve been on Facebook in the last 12 hours you will probably have seen a few posts similar to the following…

    Searchers have discovered that if you type in “labour are” or “lib dems are” the most popular automatically generated results for completed queries are negative phrases such as “finished”, “a joke” and “scum”.

    However if you type “tories are” or “conservatives are” you get nothing.

    tories are search

    And of all the places this discovery has been revealed (or at least popularised), it’s the Daily Mail.

    As you can imagine, there are many calls of conspiracy. The most popular of which are that Google has wiped the autocomplete suggestions for the Conservatives and ‘bumped up’ negative autocomplete suggestions for their rivals as part of a ‘secret deal’ or a ‘thank you’ for allowing Google to get off its outstanding tax balance so lightly.

    My first reaction when looking at the story is to say “that’s not how Google works! You need to go into an incognito window to see true results that aren’t based on your own search history, profile and preferences.”

    As cynical as I am about Google and the current government, I’m even more cynical about the Daily Mail, and if we cry “sensationalism and lies” about stories that don’t align with our own sentiments, we also have to do the same with their stories which do.

    But then… Google’s autocomplete feature isn’t really about your own search history or preferences. Everyone all over the UK is getting the same results.

    Google states that autocomplete predictions are “generated by an algorithm without any human involvement. [It’s] based on a number of objective factors including how often others have searched for a word.”

    autocomplete

    So autocomplete doesn’t necessarily reflect your views, but it will show results based on questions you’ve asked before.

    What could be going on here? Perhaps large numbers of the Tory party who are spread across the country have been tasked with mass-typing in queries such as “Labour are finished” in order to manipulate the autocomplete? That probably sounds far-fetched.

    But my biggest question here, which does tie-in to the conspiracy thinking, is why aren’t there any Tory autocomplete suggestions at all?

    Google has issued a statement saying, “We do remove offensive or inappropriate content from autocomplete predictions.” Which leads you directly to believing that yes Google has removed results for the Conservatives. However if we remember the inconsolable reaction of Labour voters last year when the Tories won the general election, it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine that the “offensive or inappropriate content” generated by angry non-Tory voters and removed by Google would be far, far worse than “are finished”.

    Then again, why is “Labour/LibDems are scum” allowed to remain? Is that not offensive to the Labour party and its voters?

    If we look at Google trends for “Labour scum” and “Tory scum” you’ll notice the massive difference between search volume between each party, with the Tories rising to the top. Yet this isn’t affecting the autocomplete suggestions.

    Google Trends scum

    I’m writing this not answer these questions myself, as I don’t know what’s going on, instead I’m opening up the floor to our readers, experts and commenters… what do you think is happening here? Something sinister or something easily explainable?

    12 fascinating SEM related stats from January 2016

    Global-Snapshot-Jan-2016

    As it’s now February, let’s take a look back at January’s most interesting online stats that will perhaps point you in the right direction for what to expect for the rest of the year.

    Here we have everything from display ad spend, ‘peak tech’, in-app customer care, data failure, ad blockers to native ads and the true value of brand activity on social.

    Nearly half the world is online

    And almost one-third of the world uses social media, according to We Are Social’s latest global snapshot.

    The key statistics for digital, social, and mobile media in 2016 are:

    • 3.42 billion internet users, equaling 46% global penetration
    • 2.31 billion social media users, delivering 31% global penetration
    • 3.79 billion unique mobile users, representing 51% global penetration
    • 1.97 billion mobile social media users, equating to 27% global penetration

    US display ad spend will overtake search ad spend in 2016

    eMarketer revealed that digital display ad spend will surpass search ad spend in the US for the first time ever in 2016. The categories of video, sponsorships, rich media and “banners and other” will account for the largest share of digital ad spending (47.9% – worth $32.17 billion). Within the display category, one in five dollars budgeted will go to “banners and other”

    You don’t need that new iPhone, we’ve reached ‘peak tech’

    Research from the 2016 Accenture Digital Consumer Survey reveals that consumer demand for new tech is stalling. Sales of smartphones, tablets and laptops are sluggish and demand for internet of things (IoT) enabled devices isn’t growing fast enough to “offset

    Accenture polled more than 28,000 consumers in 28 countries and found that 48% of people are planning to buy a new smartphone in 2016 compared to 57% last year.

    Click here for the full infographic.

    In 2015, 38% of consumers had planned to purchase a new TV or tablet, this has now fallen to 30% for TVs and 29% for tablets.

    As for IoT devices, consumers cite the expense (62%) and privacy fears (47%) as reasons for lack of adoption.

    That being said, a surprising 8% of people plan to purchase a virtual reality headset in 2016. At least you’ll be able to clearly see which 8% of the population to avoid while walking down the street.

    Apps more preferable for customer care

    According to Contact Solutions’ Digital Disconnect report (registration required) a huge 75% of the 1,004 people surveyed said they’d rather use a mobile app for customer service because of their convenience.

    Unfortunately 95% of apps force users to exit and transfer to a ‘live’ channel such as phone or live-chat.

    A key revelation is that 53% of customers would spend more money with a brand if they could switch channels or devices to carry on their conversation and not have to repeat themselves.

    Fewer native ads to run in 2016

    According to a survey by Trusted Media Brands Inc on preferred mobile advertising formats, 45% of marketers say they’re going to use native ads in 2016, a dip of 5% from 2015. Marketers complain that native ads are hard to measure, not easy or quick to produce and the sell through rate for native, even for sites with a stated emphasis on the format can be 5% or less.

    Mobile programmatic is taking off in the UK

    According to the IAB, 50% of UK marketers are using programmatic for buying smartphone inventory.

    • Nearly 3 in 10 (29%) of respondents feel they have an “excellent” understanding of mobile advertising as a whole compared to 22% who said they had a “poor” level of understanding.
    • 79% of the respondents said that mobile advertising is an important part of their organisation’s overall advertising strategy.
    • Location based advertising is seen by 66% of respondents as the most exciting mobile opportunity, whilst 52% agree that wearable technology is an excellent opportunity for the industry.
    • 56% of respondents plan to start advertising on wearables in the next 12 months.

    Brand activity on social leads to meagre sharing

    According to a report published on Warc (registration required) only 7% of consumer actions in response to brand-related content on social takes the form of actually sharing the material.

    Tania Yuki, Founder/CEO of social content analytics firm Shareablee, reported that:

    From January to October 2015, US brands published 35m posts across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, sparking 65bn actions with social audiences (i.e., comments, shares, retweets, etc.) Yet just 7% of these actions involved sharing of a brand’s content… despite what is increasingly recognised as the value of shared content for building brand equity.

    Marketers failing to make the most of data

    CMO Council’s Predicting Routes to Revenue report (registration required) reveals that despite the volume of data at marketers’ disposal, organisations are poorly equipped to offer a more personalised experience.

    • Only 5% of respondents could predict with confidence the customer journey and what actions could achieve maximum value.
    • 23% were able to develop predictive insights into broad customer trends
    • 20% felt they could only predict the next best action and struggled to move beyond that first step
    • 48% of respondents indicated that data is collected and analysed but remains separate and is not well aligned
    • Only 3% said their current data sources were integrated and totally aligned

    Information gathering and deal seeking are the primary online shopping activities

    According to Nielsen, people are “less inclined to simply go to the nearest store [instead] they grab the nearest digital device.

    And what is the primary use of a digital device? Research and bargain hunting, and it’s the travel sector which enjoys the most activity…

    connected commerce

    The report also reveals that 57% of respondents had purchased from an overseas ecommerce retailer in the last six months.

    Google outpacing Facebook in spend growth

    According to IgnitionOne’s Q4 2015 Digital Marketing Report (registration required), Google surpassed Facebook in growth and conversions, seeing an increase of 37% in programmatic display advertising spend and a 34% increase in conversions. Facebook saw an increase of 22% in growth and 17% in conversions.

    The cost of Facebook ads experienced a drop, with eCPMs down -6% YoY. Whereas Google saw an eCPM growth of 16%. The report suggests this is largely down to fewer (but larger) ads being shown to users.

    Technology, media & entertainment and retail industries most vulnerable from digital disruption

    A report from The Global Center for Digital Business Transformation surveyed 941 business leaders around the world in 12 industries and surfaced several “troubling findings” in regard to businesses ability to adapt to digital transformation.

    • Survey respondents believe an average of four out of today’s top 10
      companies (in terms of market share) in each industry will be displaced by digital disruption in the next five years
    • Digital disruption is not seen as worthy of board-level attention in about 45% of companies (on average across industries)
    • 43% of companies either do not acknowledge the risk of digital disruption, or have not addressed it sufficiently.
    • Nearly a third are taking a “wait and see” approach, in hopes of emulating successful competitors
    • Only 25% describe their approach to digital disruption as proactive – willing to disrupt themselves in order to compete

    Ad blocking on the increase

    Data from GlobalWebIndex (GWI) showed a 10 percentage point rise (from 28% to 38%) in the use of adblocking software in Q4 2015, after little movement in the first three quarters of the year.

    rise of ad blocking chart

    Content marketing: understanding its role, value and ROI

    digital-trends-chart

    Over the past few years, content marketing has gone from being an accessory advertising tactic to a focal point of modern marketing.

    According to ClickZ’s 2016 Digital Trends Report, it was reported as one of the most significant trends for brands heading into 2016 – with nearly a quarter of respondents saying that it was the most important trend for them.

    By 2019, content marketing is projected to be a $300 billion industry.

    Although content marketing has seen immense success over the past few years, there have been numerous limiting factors that have prevented companies from taking full advantage of its potential capabilities.

    For example, some chief hindrances have been:

    • A lack of a content strategy
    • Interference from those in management
    • Haphazard approaches in the development of content and a lack of dedicated teams.

    This past year, 2015, however saw incredible growth. There was a massive adoption of content development as a source of marketing success.

    We have also recently seen the birth of RankBrain, the Mobile Update, and Panda is now considered a part of Google’s algorithm. These updates have all pushed marketers towards focusing on creating high-quality content that is user-centered. Content marketing is maturing.

    A crucial part of this maturation process will also be the realization that content has a unique role to play across organizations.

    It is not just a silo that exists next to several different departments, functioning within its own atmosphere. As brands learn to employ the full power of content marketing, they will be able to measure how it impacts the full range of roles within the brand, including the marketing, sales, PR, recruitment and customer service teams.

    The role and value of content throughout an organization

    The value of content marketing stretches across the various departments and helps to create a welcoming, customer-centric experience. Brands and customers are able to interact and collaborate, allowing the organization to learn from customers to drive the development of future products and services.

    Marketing

    Content marketing is the basis of an effective online marketing program. It is the foundation of websites, a social media presence and organic optimization. Content presents the brand as a thought leader while helping customers learn about the industry and the specific products and services offered by the organization.

    Content can also offer brands greater insight into the effectiveness of their marketing efforts. They will be able to see how well they are engaging with their intended audience and if they are appropriately addressing their pain points. This will help guide their future marketing efforts.

    Sales

    Content helps to present products and services to customers in an inviting and engaging format. With enticing descriptions, digestible and persuasive white papers as well as intriguing case studies, content can be an excellent way to draw customers towards the bottom of the funnel and prepare them for a conversation with a sales rep and then a purchase.

    Customers today like to remain in control of their buying process. That is why an estimated 60% of the sales process takes place even before a customer speaks with a brand representative.

    Content, therefore, can help drive revenue by engaging consumers and making it easy for them to see what the brand has to offer.

    Customer service

    Customers service has taken a much more personal turn with modern technology. Consumers expect the brands they interact with to take an individual interest in them and their needs.

    Quality content can help brands do that by providing material that answers questions and provides solutions to the problems of consumers. Well-designed websites – which are easy to navigate – coupled with excellent user-centric content can be a wonderful way to form a reputation for strong customer service. This service can then be continued when the consumer reaches out to a representative.

    The content helps to establish the brand as one concerned primarily with customer satisfaction. It also helps to build relationships with interested potential customers, creating better bonds, which can then boost customer loyalty.

    Recruitment

    Content can also be an excellent vehicle for finding new people to add to the team. Content can build and share the brand culture, which will then help to attract new potential employees with the same attitude and values.

    This process can help companies avoid turnover and maintain a cohesive brand culture. Hiring people that do not fit well with the company culture can be disruptive and damaging to team morale.

    Public Relations

    Content marketing means more than just producing material, it also means building distribution channels that can get that content in front of the right audience. This is a major component of PR.

    PR can use content to get news out about major developments in the company or thought-leadership pieces into the hands of influencers and in front of countless potential customers.

    PR can use media sources and influencers that are trusted by the intended audience to help their content attract more attention and publicity. This can then boost the overall performance of the content marketing efforts by building a larger audience.

    Measurement

    To understand the true value of content for your brand, you will need to use quantifiable metrics that will let you see progress and gauge performance. These metrics can be divided into three main categories: your site metrics, your social metrics and your sales metrics.

    It can also be helpful to review your sales funnel as a whole and measure your success along the different stages.

    From my personal experiences, I have found that people are most successful in their content development efforts when they have access to data pertaining to each of these levels. Each category will offer a unique perspective of your content. Together they will give you a full picture of the success of your efforts and how it impacts each part of your business.

    Site metrics

    These metrics will offer insights about the performance of your site in search and how well it engages visitors.

    • Look at bounce rates to see if the right people finding the content and if they find it interesting and engaging
    • Monitor traffic rates to see how well the organic channel is performing
    • Utilize technology platforms to see how many people are linking to your content and from what sites
    • Measure the time spent on the page to see how engaged people are with the content
    • Track the number of return and unique visitors that come to the page. Return visitors indicate that people view you as an authority and are beginning to have greater trust in what you have to say. Unique visitors show that your content efforts are helping to get the content in front of new people.
    • Understand how people engage and convert on your landing pages and how that correlates with the traffic on your promoted content.
    • Work closely with your PR teams to see how many publications are successfully picked up or promoted by influencers and major media outlets and how that impacts traffic and engagement rates.

    Social metrics

    Social media is the modern water cooler. People use the platforms to connect with friends and family as well as brands that interest them. It is important to note that many of the social metrics can be considered just vanity metrics, but in certain situations, they can offer valuable insight.

    Keeping an eye on your social metrics can help indicate how interesting people find your material and whether or not they see it as worthy of their official acknowledgement through a share or a ‘like’. This will give you insight into how receptive people are to your content.

    These metrics should be used in conjunction with other metrics to see how much influence social media is having on your success.

    Track:

    • The number of likes your content receives
    • The number of comments and other forms of feedback your posts receive
    • Positive vs. negative brand mentions online
    • The number of social shares
    • PR professionals should monitor their success with receiving mentions from industry influencers and how these influences impact brand traffic and perception
    • The number of questions or complaints voiced online and how they are handled

    Sales metrics

    Although sales are not the only goal for content marketing, these metrics are definitely a high priority for most organizations, particularly the people in leadership positions.

    These metrics can shed some light on the direct impact content marketing is having on conversions and revenue.

    • Analyze the number of conversions and the investment that was made by the company in a specific marketing campaign to see the estimated cost per conversion.
    • Look at the number of conversions overall as well as on specific landing pages and analyze this data for insight about how well different aspects of the marketing campaign are performing.

    The conversion funnel

    In addition to the metrics mentioned above, it is also important for brands to carefully track their progress through the sales funnel. A successful funnel will engage prospects and bring a large percentage of them through the funnel to conversion. The funnel is also a company-wide effort and is influenced by every branch of the company.

    Brands should be producing content that matches prospect and customer purchase funnels. You can also track the different types of content you have developed for the various topics and the stages of the funnel to see if you have any gaps.

    Track how well you are performing at each stage of the buying cycle. Monitor how many of your visitors are becoming leads and how many of the leads end up becoming customers. Low percentages at any stage of the funnel should warrant more attention to see where you are losing potential customers and what can be rectified.

    In conclusion

    Content marketing is maturing and early majority adopters are beginning to realize the importance of pursuing quality, as backed by data and best practices, over gut feelings in their marketing strategies. These marketers are running content marketing by the numbers.

    Content has an impact on a number of different departments across any organization. Understanding how it works with these different groups can also help brands streamline their content marketing efforts and take advantage of all that content has to offer.

    Five of the most interesting SEM news stories of the week

    gmail inbox

    Welcome to our weekly round-up of all the latest news and research from around the world of search marketing and beyond.

    This week: Facebook super-takes over the whole digital world, Instagram gets crazy-prolific with its ads and we reveal the internet’s most used phrase. Shockingly it’s not adding “crazy” or “super” to the beginning of verbs and adjectives.

    Facebook reveals Q4 and and full year 2015 results

    Facebook basically crushed it in 2015. Facebook native videos are beginning to rival YouTube, with 8 million videos being watched each day. Facebook ended the year with 50 million small business pages (5 million of which were created in Q4) in its network and it’s daily active users topped 1.04 billion.

    Here are the highlights:

    • Mobile advertising revenue represented approximately 80% of advertising revenue for Q4 2015, up from 69% of advertising revenue in Q4 2014.
    • Revenue for the full year 2015 was $17.93 billion, an increase of 44% year-over-year.
    • Daily active users (DAUs) were 1.04 billion on average for December 2015, an increase of 17% year-over-year.
    • Mobile DAUs were 934 million on average for December 2015, an increase of 25% year-over-year.
    • Monthly active users (MAUs) were 1.59 billion as of December 31, 2015, an increase of 14% year-over-year.
    • Mobile MAUs were 1.44 billion as of December 31, 2015, an increase of 21% year-over-year.

    Gmail’s Inbox now has improved search results

    Google’s email app Inbox can now serve faster results from emails buried deep in your conversations. For example, when you’re searching for a frequent flyer number or shipping status, Inbox will show it at the top of search results so you don’t have to dig through individual emails to find it.

    *drum roll* Introducing our first ever in-article gif…

    Underneath these quick answers you’ll now see a ‘top results’ section that orders emails by relevance, then below you’ll find all the email results, ordered by date.

    Although Google is confident enough to suggest “you won’t have to look there often.” A bold statement.

    Instagram increases the number of ads it shows

    Brand Networks has revealed the reason why you’re seeing more ads in your Instagram feed than ever before. It’s because there’s more of them. Yep.

    Brand Network saw 50 million ad impressions on Instagram in August, which then doubled 100 million ad impressions September, and then grew to a massive 670 million ad impressions in December.

    Increasing demand caused a surge in pricing for the Instagram’s Ads API Partner Program. Video advertising is also rising to prominence quickly. According to Brand Networks, “Over the past six months, we’ve learned that users are willing to increase their time spent interacting with a brand when shown a short video clip.”

    “Thank you” is the most popular phrase used online in the UK

    New research from Feefo highlights that Britiah people are so terribly, terribly polite.

    In the UK, 87% of people reviewing online are twice as likely to give praise than when face-to-face and “thank you” is the most popular phrase used online even when complaining, by 58% of us (oh no! I gave away my nationality!)

    Feefo also revealed the UK’s biggest gripes when it comes to complaining about damaged goods:

    A damaged order (74%)
    An incorrect product delivery (68%)
    Cold food in a restaurant (66%)
    No arrival of delivery (61%)
    Rude service from staff (59%)

    Facebook introduces new Audience Optimization Targeting

    As Contentive’s Head of Search and axe-wielding god of heavy metal Matt Owen wrote here on SEW earlier in the week, “Over the past few years, declining organic reach has become a major issue for publishers using Facebook, [but] it’s good to see the platform launching tools that are specifically designed to combat this.”

    Check out Matt’s detailed guide how to use it by clicking on the link above.

    10 reasons why you should definitely come to Connect

    Courtesy of @iamNigelMorris

    Please excuse the rather self-serving article, but we are running a new search event called Connect on 4th & 5th February that we’re very proud of and we think you should come.

    We’re aware that you have a choice of many different digital marketing events throughout the year, and you may be wondering what makes ours so special… well. I’ll tell you…

    1) It’s in Miami. Look at at Miami, doesn’t it look nice. And it’s almost definitely much warmer than where you are right now…

    Image courtesy of iamNigelMorris

    2) More specifically, Connect is taking place at the Ritz-Carlton. Look at the Ritz-Carlton, doesn’t it look nice? And it’s almost definitely much swankier than where you are right now…

    3) Our focus this year is all about putting the user first. Arguably the most important thing you need to be doing as a marketer in 2016. Connect’s two-track educational agenda has been designed to lead the discussion in the very latest technology, strategy and thinking across paid & organic search, in order to acquire and delight customers.

    4) There’ll be 500+ of your peers attending. Everyone from SEO specialists, digital marketers, webmasters, developers, business leaders and industry professionals, all of whom you can network with until you’re told to leave the building because the Ritz-Carlton carpets can’t withstand another spilled Pina Colada.

    5) It’s difficult to know where to begin with our excellent line-up of speakers. It’s a who’s who of industry leaders and innovators, from brands as diverse as LEGO, Macy’s, MTV, Office Depot, OpenTable and Forrester.

    Speakers Connect by Search Engine Watch

    Speakers at connect sew

    6) I was going to then name all 40+ speakers and call them reasons 8 – 48 but that would be cheating, and you should expect better from us than that.

    7) The first ‘must see’ on your speaker list is Avinash Kaushik, Author of Web Analytics 2.0 and Digital Marketing Evangelist at Google.

    avinash kaushik

    Avinash will be presenting his highly acclaimed See, Think, Do, Care: Driving Innovation from Customer Intent framework during his keynote session on day two, Avinash will be looking beyond search to analyze how ‘Content + Marketing + Measurement’ can transform your campaigns.

    8) It’s SEW’s 20th birthday! You should come help us celebrate. We promise not to get all maudlin like we did at our last birthday party.

    9) Among many other networking opportunities, we’re most excited about our Thursday night beach party sponsored by Bing. This will take place on the Ocean Front Lawn and through a private entrance to the beach from 6pm – 8pm. Bring as many inflatables as you managed to fit in your travel bag.

    Networking Events Connect

    10) I’ll be there (yeah, whoop right?) I’ll be giving the introductory remarks and general house-keeping. In fact I could probably save us all some time and cover a few things here… “Hi, welcome to Connect, the fire-exits are towards the back of the room, use the hashtag #connectsew, please don’t forget to top-up your suncream, hecklers will be ejected, thanks for coming!” Nailed it.

    Convinced? Great! You can register here.

    18 expert quotes from ClickZ’s Digital Trends 2016 Report

    clickz content marketing on mobile

    Our sister site ClickZ has launched its first Intelligence report of 2016 and it’s a firecracker.

    The Digital Trends 2016 report is a comprehensive guide to all the digital-related trends you need to know about in 2016.

    Sure every digitally-focused publisher has its own trends report, but what makes ours stand out from the rest is the sheer weight of expert opinion throughout its 46 pages, with more than 40 specialist contributors giving their insight on the most pressing topics, including: ecommerce, content marketing, customer experience and, of course, search.

    And if all that wasn’t enough, it’s completely free! You just need to fill in a quick registration form.

    To whet your appetite further, I’ve compiled a few of the reports most insightful quotes covering all of the topics…

    Advertising

    Paul Rouke, Founder and Director of Optimisation, PRWD:

    “Data scientist will become one of the hottest and in-demand roles – although the vast majority of people relabelling themselves as one will be years away from having the experience and knowledge to warrant such a title.”

    Jonathan Beeston, Managing Director, Croud UK:

    “It could be a transformative year for brand advertising as YouTube and Facebook go up a gear with video. If Snapchat can find the right model, it could be explosive.”

    Content Marketing

    Andy Betts, chief marketer and consultant:

    “Producing content for content’s sake is a 2015 tactic that will become more redundant in 2016. Last year’s comfort metrics, such as shares and likes, will be re- placed in 2016 with more meaningful measures such as engagement, reach and audience.”

    Kevin Lee, Executive Chariman, Didit:

    “The rise of ad blockers combined with the ‘banner blindness’ caused by 20 years of mind-numbingly off-target banners are forcing a doubling down on true native advertising.”

    Customer Experience

    Helen Colclough, Ecommerce Development Manager, River Island:

    “It doesn’t have to be an ‘either/or’ situation. The mobile website has its purpose, but apps can help retailers to provide a great experience for the most engaged customers.”

    Paul Rouke, Founder and Director of Optimisation, PRWD:

    “[A key trend will be] the slow, quite painful move of brands starting to ‘walk the walk’ when it comes to truly understanding their visitors and customers, and harnessing these in- sights to improve their customer experience through data-driven optimisation.”

    Data and Analytics

    Andrew Hood, Managing Director, Lynchpin:

    “People will become increasingly philosophical about ‘big data’ as technologies mature, the hype starts to subside, and it becomes more a case of ‘cheaper and faster data’. Faster will quickly become the most important factor as demand for data feeds for (up-to-date) personalisation become the critical norm.”

    Benjamin Spiegel, CEO, MMI Agency:

    “The ingestion of streaming data will become a key requirement for digital leaders. With rising competition in the digital advertising space the ability to ingest, analyse and act on data within a minimal time window is a crucial requirement for digital leadership. I expect to see a lot of disruptive technology solutions emerge in the next months in both the open source as well as the VC space.”

    Ecommerce

    James Gurd, Owner, Digital Juggler:

    “Speed and flexibility are both important. The time to consumer is constantly reducing with the introduction of services like Amazon Prime Now. Multichannel retailers like House of Fraser and Argos have ramped up their Buy & Collect offer with later cut off times for next day delivery, and local collection services like Collect+, Amazon Lockers and Doddle have given consumers more choice.”

    Tessa Wegert, Media Strategist and Content Developer:

    “2015 was the experimentation stage, and a time for gathering insight into consumer preferences and behaviour. Now, social sites will get to the business of tweaking their tools, and brands will be better equipped to know what social commerce strategy is most likely to pay off.”

    Email marketing

    Parry Malm, CEO, Phrasee:

    “Email in 2016 is going to be much like email was in 2015, and 2014, and 2013 – insofar as it’s still going to be the highest performing online channel out there. 2015 was the year of ‘email automation’ and most brands either have programmes in place, or are planning them.”

    Tim Watson, Founder, Zettasphere:

    “The idea in some circles that triggered emails replace broadcast is wrong… The future is integrating broadcast and triggered emails. We can expect to see the best email marketing programmes in 2016 use the same type of intelligence for sending triggered email in broadcast email marketing.”

    Mobile

    Greg Stuart, CEO, Mobile Marketing Association:

    “Brands will drastically shift to mobile video, realising that it is hugely underpriced by more than 50 per cent compared to its effectiveness. Mobile audio and ‘sound’ as a strategy is a huge opportunity and mobile brings this to life.”

    Andy Favell, Digital and Mobile Consultant:

    “The majority of mobile development today is still focused on consumer applications and services that are at best nice-to-have and at worst pointless. This is changing because such initiatives often don’t deliver return on investment for businesses – measured either in terms of financial rewards, customer loyalty or brand perception.”

    Search

    Jon Earnshaw, CTO, Pi Datametrics:

    “The kids out there are leading the way – asking questions and refining further questions based on the answers they receive as they engage in something best described as a dialogue that in the not too distant future will see Google exhibiting behaviour capable of passing the Turing test.”

    Mags Sikora, Co-Founder, PeriodBox:

    “Can your customer service affect SEO? Absolutely! A large number of negative complaints may lead to negative reviews and non-flattering mentions across blogs! We really have to delight the customer across the entire brand experience and that doesn’t finish with the moment of purchase. That delight should be the driver behind all our actives.”

    Social Media

    Bob Cargill, Director Of Social Media, Overdrive Communications:

    “Scheduling a series of messages, posts and updates on a regular basis may put you in the game, but the only way to win is to show that you’re alive and kicking, not some robot. Real time is big time on social media.”

    Maggie Malek, Head Of Social And PR, MMI Agency:

    “Brands will only matter if consumers’ needs and desires are central to everything they do. Listening to the consumer— with our data brains as well as our hearts — can help us discover the stories worth telling.”

    Download the full 46-page Digital Trends 2016 report now.

    Are SEOs focusing on the wrong target?

    adobe roadblock graph

    I’ve spent a considerable amount of my life in the SEO world. But I’m here to say that our discipline is led by a false premise. We’re all chasing the wrong rabbit (or hog/unicorn/insert your favorite elusive animal here).

    Take the term ‘SEO’, for instance. Search engine optimization is defined by Wikipedia as “the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s unpaid results, often referred to as ‘natural’, ‘organic’, or ‘earned’ results”. But I propose that the ultimate objective for SEO is not to get engines to recognize our relevance to a searcher’s query but to actually get our audience to value what we’re publishing and become loyal brand advocates.

    To do this, search marketers must continue maturing into integrated digital marketing strategists who understand, and can act on, the key business objectives of your company.

    We spend countless hours examining keywords, traffic volumes, recommended bids, but really what it comes down to is value to the user. And this practically means content – while content components (links, meta tags, length, readability, Open Graph markup, etc.) are important for relevance, they aren’t measured for value to the searcher. What value, you say? The value that our content provides to our audience – and, yes, I realize that value is difficult to measure quantitatively.

    One small way SEO value can be represented is by social sharing metrics. It’s like the old word-of-mouth advertising – if someone likes our brand, they’ll tell someone else. Over the past few years, social factors have become an important correlation for ranking. But to be truly effective at building social presence, hence effectively execute SEO, it’s our content that must do the work.

    It’s about content

    I realize you’ve heard the mantra for years: content is king! But why is it king? Good content doesn’t rule because Google thinks it’s relevant. Content is king because it’s how we appeal to consumers.

    I’m reminded of an SEO joke:

    • Q: Why do SEO professionals date people based on personality instead of looks?
    • A: They know better than anyone that search engines are blind and that content matters most.

    Our content represents our personality; our page rankings represent our looks. This is the true reason content is king. SEO is always changing, but what doesn’t change is our need to deliver helpful, delightful, and rewarding content.

    Data paralysis

    Of course, SEO starts with data. Although we need data analysis to sharpen our focus, sometimes we just have to go for it. We can’t expect to hit it right on every keyword, so why are we spending so much timed deliberating over keywords?

    Today, far beyond being a mere distraction, data and information overload are cited as being negatively impactful on humans and businesses. Reuters conducted a study titled Dying for information, in which 43% of respondents thought that decisions were delayed and otherwise adversely affected by “analysis paralysis” or the existence of too much information, 66% of respondents associated information overload with tension among colleagues and loss of job satisfaction and 42% attributed ill-health to this stress.

    We are immersed in ‘big data’ all the time. So when is the right time to make a decision about our SEO campaigns? Maybe never, if we continue with over-analysis.

    Adobe’s Digital Roadblock survey found that more than half of marketing leaders trust their gut when it comes to directing budgets, including SEO team budgets. Instead of following the data, they choose to move on gut instinct. What? After all that analysis? Well, actually that’s not always a bad thing. Sometimes you’ve just got to take some risks.

    Taking risks

    One of the key takeaways was that digital marketers believe they should take more risks. Well, I think this applies to SEO teams.

    Even if we can calculate a winning formula (boy, I wish I could have done that in the recent Powerball lottery!) we can’t know for certain what our markets will respond to. So take a risk and move forward. When all the analysis is done, we’re still left with the risk that our campaigns will not prove successful. We’ve got to get past the data paralysis and chart a direction for our campaigns.

    Charting a direction

    So, we’ve spent exhaustive hours poring over spreadsheets filled with keywords, data, URLs, and projections and yet we find ourselves at a loss to explain to our brand leaders why our SEO campaigns aren’t scoring well, despite the SEO team’s commendable optimization efforts.

    Poor results are likely not due to selecting the most appropriate keywords, they’re due to the fact that we aren’t clearly focused on the individuals interested in what we have to offer. Remember, we all act in more than one capacity. We are workers, lovers, friends, coaches, volunteers. Our multi-faceted existence represents us as a whole. It’s that whole person who represents our target, not Google.

    Therefore, SEO leaders should spend more time focusing on the overall campaign strategy, getting alignment with business objectives, and thinking about what improving the customer’s experience really means to their organization.