Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Measuring Marketing ROI with Social Media Vanity Metrics and Google Analytics

Measuring Social Media Marketing (SMM) efforts is the most difficult task in Digital Marketing. What the vanity metrics indicate is highly debatable and therefore, the ROI derived from social media is also a point of contention. Often times social media efforts are on the verge of getting culled out completely from the organization's marketing budgets!

To understand the ROI from social media it is important to identify goal-based KPIs and social media metrics before you launch your campaigns. For doing this, it is important that as a digital marketer, you should understand the analytics of social media metrics.

Several experts have provided consolidated interpretations of the vanity metrics. Check two articles here, here, and here.

The problem of nailing down the ROI from social media efforts can be done if you can generate a few reports along with your data from Google Analytics. I have built three cases here to explain how to understand and measure marketing ROI with social media vanity metrics and Google Analytics.

Goal: Position yourself as a “Thought Leader” in the industry
Content type: Whitepapers (ungated asset)
Content purpose: Provide industry trends or solutions point-of-view or provide information that will objectively explore alternative ways to solve a problem, and that the reader understands conclusively that your organization has the knowledge, expertise, and tools required to solve the problem.
Content format: Downloadable document
Channel: Twitter
Twitter Metrics: Number of Favourites/Likes
GA Metrics: % of new sessions from Social, Assisted Conversions Value, Assisted/Last click or Direct conversions ratio value greater than 1

Combined Analytics Explained: Users “Like” or “fav” a tweet for various reasons and these reasons work towards the way a “Thought Leader” would be perceived. In a study published by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence the main reasons highlighted for why people “fav” a tweet are:
  1. Bookmarking for later reference
  2. Silent Approval (when the user agrees with the tweet creator’s opinion)
  3. Tweet is informational
  4. Like because the user can relate to the tweet
  5. Tweet creator is a special person
  6. Tweet resonates at the emotional level

All these reasons conjure up to one thing – a high number of tweet favourites say that the tweet creator is perceived as a thought leader.

So, a number of tweet favourites, with increasing percentage of new sessions from social media, and increasing value in the Assisted Conversion Value will justify that social media has helped you achieve your goal of positioning yourself as a Thought Leader.

Another metric to note is about attribution modeling - Assisted/Last click or Direct Conversions (In Google Analytics, go to Acquisition>Social>Conversions>Click on Assisted vs. Last Interaction Analysis just below the Explorer tab). This ratio should be greater than 1 because if your social media has really built the impact, then it’s role as an assisted conversion channel should be higher.

After putting the above explanations in your reports, use the simple formula for the ROI:

ROI = (Total Conversion Value generated from Social - Total Amount spent on campaigns/Total Amount spent on campaigns

Goal: Brand Awareness
Content type: Story Telling with rich media
Content purpose: Emotive audience engagement & user experience so that the prospective buyers can relate to the benefits of the product or service
Content format: Video & Interactive Research Report
Channel: LinkedIn, Twitter & Google Adwords
LinkedIn Metrics: Engagement Rate
GA Metrics: Overall % of new users, % of new users through social media, % of new sessions from direct channel, goal conversion rate from social channels & AdWords, and Assisted/Last click or Direct Conversions ratio.

Combined analytics explained: Since our goal is to create brand awareness, it makes great sense to capture how “engaged” your prospects were with the content that you shared, and did we add new users to our overall bucket of visitors. This means that you have to strive for ER that is higher than the industry average, and for your selected time-period, the % of new users, % of new users through social media, % of new sessions from direct channel should show steady increase.

Secondly, we need to understand that if we have built awareness for our product/service, then the social conversions should contribute equally in Assisted and Last click capacity. Hence, the “Assisted/Last click or Direct Conversions ratio” should be close to 1.

You can revisit the metrics in Google Analytics 1 month after the campaign has stopped. If your “Brand Awareness” campaign has been impactful, then you should see an increase in “% of Returning Visitors”, “Assisted/Last click or Direct Conversions ratio” value > 1, and increase in % of new sessions from direct channel.

Also, use the following formula:

ROI = (Total Conversion Value generated from Social - Total Amount spent on campaigns) /Total Amount spent on campaigns

Your Turn! Build your explanation for Case 3:

Goal: Lead Generation
Content type: Landing Page/Microsite
Content purpose: Capture contact details
Content format: Microsite with strong CTA/eBook (gated asset)/free 30-day Trail
Channels: Twitter & LinkedIn
Twitter Metrics: Number of Link Clicks
LinkedIn Metrics: CTR
GA Metrics: Number of Last Click Conversions, Last Click Conversion Value & Assisted/Last click or Direct Conversions ratio should be 0.

While the social media metrics capture a lot of qualitative aspects of its user behaviour, and because of which you may find social media as highly elusive, but if you combine it with Google Analytics, you can justify your social media ROI as well.

Are there any other ways of measuring marketing ROI with social media vanity metrics and Google Analytics together? Share your thoughts.

Good day and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 21, 2015

6 Tips to Optimize Social Media Marketing Campaigns for Content Marketing

Social media marketing (SMM) is a process for attracting prospects at the top of your inbound marketing funnel. It acts as a conduit to run campaigns for your content marketing strategy, and digital marketers are much more confident than ever before that social media is important for their business.

With each passing year, digital marketers are getting more confident that they are able to measure their marketing ROI from social media marketing. According to 2015 Social Media Marketing Industry Report by Social Media Examiner, a whopping 92% of marketers said that social media was important for their businesses. Though only 42% agreed they are able to measure their social activities, but this data has also seen an upward trend. In 2014, 37% marketers indicated they could measure ROI and in 2013, it was only 26%.

So, if social media marketing is such an important channel, your efforts should be maximised to optimize your social media campaigns. Here are six simple ways to do it:

1) Build a sound content marketing strategy

Inbound Marketing Funnel
Social media can be used not only for the TOFU but also for MOFU and BOFU. You should first build your buyer persona and understand at what stage of buyers’ journey your prospects are at present. Map the stage of your buyers' journey with the objectives from your inbound marketing funnel. Basis this, do the following:
  • Identify social media channels that you should leverage
  • Build content according to the purpose, and decide on the type & format that will resonate better with your prospects at present.
  • Based on your goals and identified KPIs, decide whether you would like to build an organic campaign or a sponsored one on various social media channels that you have identified.

2) Test the headlines to increase conversion rate
I recently published a blog and shared it on social media which of course generated traffic and the social media post received engagements as well. But I was not happy with the conversion rate. (My goal-based conversion in this case was to get “link-clicks” through the social media efforts). Then I performed a simple split-test (A/B testing) on the headline. I changed it to “5 Google AdWords hacks to improve your conversion rate” from “5 Simple Steps to Optimize Your AdWords Campaign”, and it gave a 10% increase in the conversion rate!

3) Test optimal time and frequency of shares

In order to ensure that your content is giving you optimal conversions, check if the time and frequency of shares is the best that you could choose across different social media channels that you’ve identified for your campaign. Changing the time of share can improve the visibility of your tweets and posts, and therefore bring in higher engagements and conversions.

4) A/B test your snack-able content for engagement

This particular step will be helpful especially if you are running a sponsored social media campaign. Social media channels like Twitter and LinkedIn offer their own analytics dashboards which help you in gauging the performance of your individual posts. If you are not happy with the engagement rate of your posts, then you can perform an A/B test. Pause a post and create another post by changing the snack-able part of the content only and not the creative. After a week, check back if the new version of your post has increased the engagement rate. Gauge the results and repeat.

5) Ensure you are able to track URLs

When setting up a social media campaign, you must ensure that the landing pages that you are going to share are trackable on Google Analytics. For a few situations, you may want to send out a pdf link directly with your social media post or a tweet. Make sure that these pdfs are traceable. The best way to do this is to use the link shortener tools such as bitly.com or Ow.ly. These services allow you to check the number of clicks that your links receive, and where they are coming from.

6) Use Google Analytics to identify optimization opportunities
In Google Analytics, use Acquisition>Social set of reports to understand the performance of your social media campaign. Here are the reports that can help you weigh the areas that need more focus to get higher conversions.

Overview: Here you will immediately be able to see the comparison between the number and monetary value of all goal completions versus those that resulted from social referrals. If you have to report about the impact of your campaign in silo, then you must consider Last Interaction Social Conversion metrics to judge the impact.

Network referral: Check engagement metrics such as pageviews, avg. session duration, pages/session for traffic from each social network. Here you can see which social networks referred the highest quality traffic. With this data you may want to increase your efforts for the social networks that referred fewer sessions but higher quality traffic.

Landing Pages: Here too check engagement for metrics like pageviews, avg. session duration, pages/session for each URL. You can click a URL in this report to see the originating social networks for that URL.

Conversions: This report shows the total number of conversions and the monetary value of conversions that occurred as a result of referrals from each network. Under this report, click Assisted vs. Last Interaction Analysis to see how each network contributed towards conversions and revenue. Since you would want to optimize your goal-based social media campaign, it is better to concentrate on Last Click or Direct Conversions and Last Click or Direct Conversion Value.

This is the number of last click or direct sales and conversions. The higher the numbers, the more important is the social network's role in driving completion of sales and conversions.

Another metric to follow is Assisted/Last Click or Direct Conversions. This ratio summarizes the social network's overall role. A value close to 0 indicates that the social network brought primarily the last click conversions. A value close to 1 indicates that the social network functioned equally in an assist and a last click capacity. The more this value exceeds 1, the more the social network functioned in an assist capacity.

Therefore, if you are getting a value closer to 0, then you can say that your social media campaigns are bringing the desired impact.

Visitor Flow: The Social Visitors Flow shows the initial paths that users from social networks took through your site. This is a good flow chart to show you if the visitors entered your website through the pages that you have used in your campaigns or not. This chart also shows you what the users did after they entered your website – whether they went on to other pages or dropped off after initial click.

Hope this guide helps you in optimizing your social media marketing (SMM) campaigns. If you have any more nuggets, then feel free to share them in the comments section.

Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Digital Marketing Metrics That Matter

As a digital marketer today, you have access to a lot more data and metrics than ever before. The huge chunks of data that your inbound marketing efforts generate, can be overwhelming. That is why as an online marketer you need to know which metrics you should follow and which ones you can ignore.

The thumb rule which I like to use is “follow the goal-based metrics”. This approach is based on the following steps:
  1. Know your online campaign objectives
  2. Identify online marketing channels that you want to leverage
  3. Set the key performance indexes (KPIs) based on what you want to achieve out of your campaigns
  4. Map your KPIs with the channel metrics that can capture & measure your KPIs
  5. Focus your efforts on optimizing these identified metrics

For example, if your objective is to “generate qualified leads”, then you should focus on using Google AdWords and Email as the main channels. First, you need to “acquire” qualified visitors, “capture” their contact details, "nurture" them, and then “convert” them into qualified leads. So, your focus metrics should be the following, for the different stages of the campaign:

In Google AdWords:
  1. Click-through-rate (CTR)
  2. Conversion Rate
  3. Cost per conversion

In your marketing automation tool (for Email campaigns):
  1. Click-through-rate (CTR)
  2. Conversion Rate
  3. Bounce Rate

Make sense?

So, the important aspect is to identify the goal-based metrics, and focus on optimizing those metrics with the help of various sets of reports. It is not necessary that vanity metrics need to be written-off completely. In several situations, vanity metrics may prove to be a better gauge of your performance.

For a better understanding, read how to optimize web presence with Google Analytics.

To further structure this piece on which digital marketing metrics matter, I have identified and split the metrics channel-wise and have put them in the following infographic:

Do you have any more metrics that are not mentioned here and which may be important to measure the impact of online marketing? Please say so in the comments.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

6 Best Practices for Writing Great AdWords Ad Copy

Paid search engine marketing (SEM) should be a critical lever of your overall inbound marketing strategy. It can strongly complement your inbound marketing efforts by helping you to “get found” – the core mantra of inbound marketing – when the prospects are looking out for information. SEM gives you a chance to provide the most relevant information to your prospective customers when they need it the most.

No matter at what stage of buying journey your prospects are, you can build a relevant advert and improve your visibility on SERPs.

But you need to make sure that Google gives you a high Quality score, and this can happen only when your adverts are relevant to the keyword searches. Therefore, you need to write great AdWords ads and link them to relevant landing pages.

Writing great ads is also a critical element of optimizing your AdWords campaigns. So, here are six best practices to writing great Adwords copy.

1) Be relevant

Make sure that your ad copies are relevant to the keywords that you have bucketed for every ad group. For this, you need to ensure that your primary keywords are included in your text ad copies. To make the ad copies relevant further, you should take the semantic approach and try to include synonyms of the primary keywords in the ad description.

Here’s an example. For the search “camping tents”, notice that the ad on the first position has keywords both in headline and the description.

Click on the image for larger view

2) Focus on benefits

While writing ad copies, you must focus on highlighting the benefits. Remember, people always like to come to you for your product or service only if they see the benefits. If you see in the example above, the Walmart’s ad clearly states the benefit – SAVE. Similarly, the ad on the third position also clearly highlights the benefit of saving up to 50%!

It is obvious that if you are searching for camping tents, odds are high that you have planned (or are planning) to go camping and therefore, would like to buy a camping tent; and who does not like the benefit of saving a few dollars?

3) Include a strong call-to-action

Always include a strong call-to-action (CTA). Having strong CTA encourages your viewers/prospects to click on your ad thereby improving your CTR (click through rate). Let us see another example below where you search for “sleeping bags”.

Click on the image for larger view

Check out the ads on the right hand side panel. They have a strong call-to-action and encourage you to “Shop Now” and “Buy Sleeping Bags Now” because there is an offer of free shipping for a limited time period (benefit). These are strong, high quality ads since the advertisers are approaching you with relevancy, a benefit, and they encourage you to act now!

4) Use ad extensions

There are a lot of ways that you can use Ad Extensions feature. You can get a complete understanding of it here. But whatever type of Ad Extension you choose to use, you must ensure that you use it because it gives you more advertising space to make your ads more impactful. This helps to improve your visibility, which further improves the chances of viewers clicking your ad. As Google says, if two competing ads have the same bid and quality, the ad with greater expected impact from extensions will generally appear in a higher ad position than the other. All this happens at no extra cost to you.

Look at the example below. When I search for “Rent a RV”, I get ads with location extension. These ads are highly relevant and impactful for me because they also show me their locations, and therefore, compel me to click.

Click on the image for larger view

5) Add dynamic texts to your ads

Instead of creating several static ad copies, Google provides you the option of creating text ads that automatically update with info you want potential customers to know. To use dynamic text in your text ad, type '{' in any new or existing text ad. Then select from a dropdown menu to select the type of dynamic text that you would want to add to your text ads. Here are full details about creating dynamic text ads.

6) Have more than one version of your ad copy

Once you set up your AdWords campaign, you need to monitor the data and see if you are happy with your KPI metrics such as conversion rate, CTR, etc. If you are not happy with the results, then you have to check if your ads need a fresh copy; or if you need a better landing page.

To perform this A/B testing, you should be ready with at least two versions of your ad copies. Having more than one version will help you improve your ads and optimize your campaign as well. Your ad versions should focus on changing one element at a time, so that when you run the A/B testing, you are able to gauge the results clearly. You will then know what is working, and what is not.

Do you have any best practices for writing great AdWords ad copy? Share it here in the comments section and have a wonderful day!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

5 Google AdWords Hacks to Improve Conversion Rate

Setting up campaigns is so much easier than optimizing them. We all will agree with that. But I would say that optimizing campaigns isn't so difficult or complicated once you are comfortable with large chunks of data and know how to identify optimization opportunities from that data in a structured way.

Having said that, I would also like to point out that often times the campaign optimization techniques are meant to be implemented at the setting-up stage.

So, here is a simple five-step process to optimize your AdWords campaign:

Step 1Tighten-up your AdGroups:

When you make ad groups, tighten them up as much as possible based on various themes and dimensions within each theme. Use very few keywords per ad group. It is highly recommended that you use Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI). The main objective here is to connect keywords toad copy to bring high relevancy to your Keyword-Ad Copy combinations. Well connected Keyword-Ad Copy combinations increase click-through-rate (CTR), which increases your Quality Score, and which in turn reduces your cost-per-click (cpc).

Step 2: Use negative keywords:

Never forget to use negative keywords. For e.g., if you are selling winter jackets for adults, then you would want to avoid showing your ad to someone who is looking for "kids' jackets" or "toddlers' jackets". You don't want to waste your money by allowing someone who is "not" looking for ​adults jackets, to click on your ad! So, you should add "kids jackets" and "toddlers​ jackets" under negative keywords list.

Another example is, if you are selling books and not notebooks and notepads, then add "notepads" and "notebooks" under negative keywords list.

Step 3: Develop a variety of landing pages:

Once you have a tight segmented list of ad groups, you should also build a variety of landing pages. The idea is to have a well connected Keyword-AdCopy-Landing Page combination for highest possible relevancy. If you can, you must follow this fervently to increase your Quality Score and minimize your CPC. Make sure that landing pages have unique header, relevant content, and images for each Keyword-AdCopy-Landing page combination.

Step 4: Do A/B Testing:

This very crucial for any campaign. For AdWords campaigns, make sure that you have at least two versions of ad copies for every ad group. After your campaign has been running for a few days you need to start monitoring the data and start digging into it to find opportunities for optimization. You should be ready to perform A/B testing if you are not happy with the metrics that you see. For e.g., if you are not happy with the CTR, be ready to use other versions of your ads. If you are not happy with your conversion rate, then check the performance of your keywords and analyze landing pages.

Whatever you decide to do under A/B testing, make sure you test one element at a time. Otherwise, it will be very difficult to gauge the results.

Step 5: Bidding Strategy:

Use bidding strategy based on your budget permits. It does not necessarily pay-off to be on the top ranks. In several AdWords campaigns, ads positioned at 7 or 8 have also given high conversion rates!

So here is how you can decide on your bidding strategy. After logging into your AdWords account, go to Tools and click on Keyword Planner. Here, you need to click on "Get traffic forecasts for a list of keywords". Add your list of keywords, and click on "Forecasts". On the forecasts page you can enter a bid and a daily budget and click "Get Detailed Forecasts". In the results you will see the number of clicks that you can get daily, total impressions, total cost and average position. You can change your daily budget and bid to see it's effect on the number of clicks, impressions, and cost. The daily forecasts page shows you a graph which can help you choose the bid that maximizes clicks and impressions, without increasing the cost. In short, you can optimize your bid here to maximize your ROI.

I hope this article was helpful to you. If you have any more strategies that can help improve the AdWords campaigns, please feel free to add them in the comments section.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

How to Optimize Web Presence With Google Analytics

Optimizing your web presence through your website and online campaigns is extremely crucial. While you do your best in following certain best practices to implement SEO, building great content and distributing it, you need to ensure that nothing falls through the crevices. These crevices are your opportunities to optimize your web presence.

But how do you identify these opportunities? Google Analytics (assuming all your tagging is done properly) is a great place to identify optimization opportunities.

Let's start with understanding the types of reports that you can get in Google Analytics. You can generate reports in the following four spheres:
  1. Audience
  2. Acquisition
  3. Behavior
  4. Conversions
In each of the above reporting areas, a keen observation of data will help you to identify Web optimization opportunities. You can generate several reports for identifying optimization opportunities, but here are the most crucial sets of reports which you should use:

Set 1:
Acquisition>All Traffic> Source/Medium – This data from this report will help you to understand whether the traffic is from referral/search/direct/campaign. Your target here should be to ensure that this report shows a balanced portfolio; and if it is not so, then investigate. If you don’t see any data from campaigns (i.e. from other sources like emails, social, or display) that means the campaigns are not tagged. This is obviously not good.

Acquisition>AdWords – This data will give you details about your AdWord Campaigns. More on understanding the performance of AdWords campaign, will come in a separate post.

Acquisition>Campaigns>paid Keywords or organic keywords – This data will help you understand which keywords are performing best for your site.

Set 2:
Audience>Mobile>Devices – In this report you can check which mobile device types are the highest consumers of your website information and make sure that your website is optimized for the visitors from these devices. To get better clarity, select a second dimension metric of "Landing Pages". Now check for high bounce rate pages, analyze them, and fix them.

Audience>Geo>Location – With this report you can see your visitors from different geographical locations. Select the "Goal Conversion Rate" metric to understand the geos that are bringing good traffic to your website. For further drilldown, ask some of the following key questions:
  • Is your targeted geography giving you the highest conversion rate?
  • Are there other locations which are giving good conversion rates, and therefore should your marketing efforts focus on those geos as well?
The answers to these questions will be an opportunity to optimize your web presence. This will lead you to change campaign strategies, content type, content format, social strategies, and your keywords for search engine optimization.

Set 3:
Behaviour>Site Content>Landing Pages AND Behavior>Site Content>Content drilldown – This data will help you understand how the visitors behave once they come to your website. Here, you need to quickly find out those pages that have high bounce rates and examine the possible causes by asking these questions:
  • Is it lack of content?
  • Is the strong CTA missing?
  • Are there any broken links on the page?
  • Is content not relevant to Ads?
These pages need to be fixed quickly for optimizing your online presence.

You can further drilldown the data by adding segments to this set of reports. For e.g. add "Mobile Traffic" or "Paid Traffic" segments, and then check the bounce rates. This will further help you to understand more clearly the causes of high bounce rates.

Behavior>Site Search>Search terms (on your website) – This report can tell you what your visitors are looking out for on your website. Now, this means that they are not able to find these things within 3 seconds! Check back if these search terms are on your SEO list and AdWords list. These terms should be on both these lists. Also, optimize the page content to ensure that the relevant information is available, it is visible and attracts the attention of the visitor. You can do this either with the help of images, bold headlines, or a strong call to action.

Set 4:
Conversions>Goals>Overview – In this report you should see how all your goals are converting. Focus on the goals with low conversions and with the help of other sets of reports here, analyze and optimize to increase those conversion rates.

Conversions>Goals>Reverse Goal Path - This report will help you identify the path that visitors are taking before converting. It is a good place to identify the paths that give you highest conversion rate and analyze those paths that are not generating good goal completions.

Conversions>Goals>Funnel Visualization – This report is especially important if you are selling products also from your website. This view will help you understand where do most visitors drop off? Once you identify that, you can investigate further for reasons why the visitors are dropping off. When do they drop off? Add the traffic segments to this report to understand the behavior of the visitors better.

Conversions>Multi-Channel Funnels>Assisted Conversions AND Conversions>Multi-Channel Funnels>Top Conversions Path – The combination of these two reports ​will help you understand the channels that are driving conversions. In general, here you will be able to understand which channels are “initiating” the conversion process (first attribution – role of first interaction). Similarly, you can understand which channels are helping “close” the conversions (last attribution – role of last interaction). This will be a huge area for optimizing your campaign efforts (social media, AdWords, and Email) because based on attributions, you can change (and optimize) your content, schedule, and channels for content distribution.

With every report, you can create further drilldown on the data captured by adding more metrics and/or segments. This way you can get insights at a granular level and optimize your web presence to a great extent.

Hope this article was helpful to you. If you have any nuggets to share on how to optimize web presence, then please feel free to put them in the comments section.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Introducing Digital Marketing

It is no more only Content Management Services! You can now connect with me for complete Digital Marketing Services. Digital Marketing will include Content Marketing through SMM (Social Media Marketing through Social Media Campaigns), SEM (Search Engine Marketing through AdWord Campaigns), monitoring, optimizing, and measuring campaigns through Google Analytics, presenting comprehensive Reports to draw insights from vanity metrics, metrics from Google Analytics, and providing strategies to improve future digital marketing campaigns for your organization.