5 Must-Have Tools to Help Manage Your Digital Marketing Agency

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/WordStreamBlog/~3/WFdzewQgJg4/agency-tools

The key to running a successful agency is to utilise relevant tools and software to manage and automate as many areas of the business as possible, enabling you to focus on the needs of each of your clients. Having great tools in place to help you and your senior team manage areas such as operations, resourcing, CRM and reporting will free up your team to focus on adding value for your clients.

In this post, I’ve put together a list of tools and technology to help you out in areas that are essential in ensuring your agency runs smoothly, so that you can stay focused on your customers.

1. File Storage: Google Drive & File Stream

There are multiple ways of managing files within an agency, but the priorities for any agency owner must be ease of access, security and simple file syncing options.

With Google Drive, agencies can rely on a cloud-based method of storing files. Google Drive allows staff to easily sync files saved on various machines via Google Drive File Stream.

Google Drive (and Docs) is built for collaboration, which makes it the perfect fit for agency working. Whenever a change is made to a file on Google Drive, the previous version is automatically updated, so everyone is accessing the latest version no matter whether you’re accessing it from your iPhone or PC:

 digital marketing agency tool google drive

With Google Drive, your entire agency can also share folders internally or with external clients or contacts while maintaining administrative control themselves:

 digital marketing agency tool google sheets

Of course, you will want to ensure you consider adding an extra layer of security as there will no doubt be client-sensitive information contained within some of the files. Google has this covered via a range of options including:

2-Step Verification Advanced protection via physical security keys What if something gets changed or deleted by accident?

If you want to revert to a previous version or undelete a file, you can easily do this in Google Drive or in any Google doc:

agency tool google file restore previous versions 

You can also restore deleted files via the Google Drive admin console.

2. CRM & Agency Management: Podio

Customer relationship management is crucial to running a successful agency. As your agency grows, you’ll need a robust system that will help you to manage data relating to previous, existing and potential clients.

As an agency, you should be looking to implement a CRM system that offers the following features:

Ability to easily store and maintain accurate client information Ability to track and manage client communication Tracking billing information, managing invoicing and billing contacts The ability for people across the agency to view up to date client information and information related to client specific projects

At Hallam, we have utilised a project management tool called Podio to build a customised CRM & Project Management workspace that our entire company can access. This space allows us to manage client data, contacts at each organisation we have on record, track client projects, billable and non-billable hours, request resources from multiple areas of the business and create mailing lists from the data we have on record to hook up with Mailchimp.

 agency management software crm podio

 

As a digital agency, you need to keep a close eye on how you and your team spend, bill, and manage time. Podio allows you to build custom apps to track this data and associate it to other apps via the use of relationship fields and automated workflows. For example, all of our client projects link up with apps such as billable hours, non-billable hours and financial forecasts. This ensures we have everything related to each project accessible in a single place:

agency management software podio 

Like a lot of agencies, we started with an Excel spreadsheet to track hours, which can obviously be quite time-consuming (and often painful) to maintain accurate data, especially as we have grown. For anyone still using this approach I would strongly encourage you to test out customisable tools such as Podio which will enable you to mould a system to the needs of your business.

3. Project Management: Basecamp

Every agency needs to manage client projects, and there are a number of simple project management tools that can significantly increase your employees’ ability to get work done quickly.

basecamp agency project management tool 

Basecamp is an excellent project management tool that makes collaboration really easy both internally and with clients. Basecamp revolves around a few simple functions:

To-do lists – These should be time bound and allocated to members of each Basecamp project. Basecamp also allows users to attach files to to-do items and send lists to clients for updates and approval File sharing – Having all files related to a project referenced in a project workspace is hugely useful and avoids having to dig around in file storage platforms to find what you’re looking for. Basecamp allows users to link to files and documents on Google Drive. Chatting (campfire) – This option should be used for informal chats around client projects. Message board – Updates on projects can be posted here instead of being sent via email, keeping an audit trail within the project workspace instead of information being lost within emails. Scheduling – Basecamp has a calendar function which syncs up with most major third-party calendars such as Outlook, iCal and Google Calendar. To-do’s with dates are automatically added to schedules, meaning they can appear in your calendar of choice if synced. Automatic check-in requests – Automatic check-ins allow you to set milestones for each client project and ping reminders to everyone involved at key milestones.

Using Basecamp gives you full transparency, working away from email and in clearly visible workspaces which clients can be added to. That being said, there can be a clear separation between “agency side” and “client side” in Basecamp which enables seamless but safe communication that’s visible to agency managers.

One of the huge benefits of Basecamp is that it’s vastly simpler than most other project management systems. We trialled using Podio for clients by creating individual client workspaces and almost all clients found it hard to understand, including those that are tech savvy. Basecamp essentially means that clients just have to respond to an email for everyone to get visibility over the discussion.

In my experience, it’s an excellent tool for collaborating with clients, getting sign-off on various tasks and tracking client communication. You can even hook Basecamp up with CRM systems (such as Podio) via Zapier, enabling agencies to maintain a single customer view.

4. Resource Planning: Podio & HighCharts

Knowing the capacity of your workforce is at the core of managing your projects and enabling your sales team to successfully bring in new clients.

Beyond just having visibility into projects and their associated billable hours, it’s important for agency owners to understand:

Employee utilisation by individual, team, and department Non-billable hours spent on client projects (over-servicing) Non-billable hours put into pre-sales activity and conversion rate of that activity

Your team and their time are your most important assets, so it’s up to you and your project managers to ensure they’re focusing their attention on the right projects and tasks. Finding software that enables you to have a clear view of staff availability and utilisation can help manage workloads and empower recruitment decisions.

In my opinion this information should be captured in any agency CRM system, which for us means it’s captured within Podio. There are then a number of third-party tools which can help extract and visualise data from most popular CRM or agency management systems.

One tool which I can highly recommend for this purpose is Highcharts. Highcharts allows us to extract data from Podio and visualise it in a range of customisable graphs to report on areas such as utilisation and capacity and split it up by individual, team, department across a variety of date ranges.

 agency tools for planning and reporting

We also use Highcharts to report on our business KPIs in our monthly senior management team meetings, again extracting the data from our CRM system and visualising it using Highcharts.

If you’re already collecting data in these areas then why not give Highcharts a try to see if it could help you better track performance across your agency?

5. Client Reporting: Google Sheets & Data Studio

We have in the past used Google sheets for all of our client reporting by hooking it up to extract and display our client’s Google Analytics data.

 agency client reporting tools google data studio

This solution delivered huge time savings vs. pulling manual reports, while allowing us to set up highly customisable analytics dashboards for each of our clients, providing them with a concise overview of their performance at all times which is automatically updated each month.

You can read more about how to set this up here.

What are Your Favourite Agency Tools?

This post has covered a few essential tools we use to manage our marketing agency. There are of course plenty of other tools that we use as an agency to help our management team keep the business running smoothly.

We’d love to hear from other agency owners and managers about the tools you’re using to help manage your agency – please use the comments section below.

About the author

Ben Wood is Marketing Services Director at Hallam Internet. Ben has worked in digital marketing for over 8 years and gained client side experience at a blue chip corporation before moving to a high growth digital agency in 2012.


Don’t Be Fooled by Data: 4 Data Analysis Pitfalls & How to Avoid Them

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/seomoz/~3/COElfU7-2lM/data-analysis-pitfalls

Posted by Tom.Capper

Digital marketing is a proudly data-driven field. Yet, as SEOs especially, we often have such incomplete or questionable data to work with, that we end up jumping to the wrong conclusions in our attempts to substantiate our arguments or quantify our issues and opportunities.

In this post, I’m going to outline 4 data analysis pitfalls that are endemic in our industry, and how to avoid them.

1. Jumping to conclusions

Earlier this year, I conducted a ranking factor study around brand awareness, and I posted this caveat:

“…the fact that Domain Authority (or branded search volume, or anything else) is positively correlated with rankings could indicate that any or all of the following is likely: Links cause sites to rank well Ranking well causes sites to get links Some third factor (e.g. reputation or age of site) causes sites to get both links and rankings”
~ Me

However, I want to go into this in a bit more depth and give you a framework for analyzing these yourself, because it still comes up a lot. Take, for example, this recent study by Stone Temple, which you may have seen in the Moz Top 10 or Rand’s tweets, or this excellent article discussing SEMRush’s recent direct traffic findings. To be absolutely clear, I’m not criticizing either of the studies, but I do want to draw attention to how we might interpret them.

Firstly, we do tend to suffer a little confirmation bias — we’re all too eager to call out the cliché “correlation vs. causation” distinction when we see successful sites that are keyword-stuffed, but all too approving when we see studies doing the same with something we think is or was effective, like links.

Secondly, we fail to critically analyze the potential mechanisms. The options aren’t just causation or coincidence.

Before you jump to a conclusion based on a correlation, you’re obliged to consider various possibilities:

Complete coincidence Reverse causation Joint causation Linearity Broad applicability

If those don’t make any sense, then that’s fair enough — they’re jargon. Let’s go through an example:

Before I warn you not to eat cheese because you may die in your bedsheets, I’m obliged to check that it isn’t any of the following:

Complete coincidence – Is it possible that so many datasets were compared, that some were bound to be similar? Why, that’s exactly what Tyler Vigen did! Yes, this is possible. Reverse causation – Is it possible that we have this the wrong way around? For example, perhaps your relatives, in mourning for your bedsheet-related death, eat cheese in large quantities to comfort themselves? This seems pretty unlikely, so let’s give it a pass. No, this is very unlikely. Joint causation – Is it possible that some third factor is behind both of these? Maybe increasing affluence makes you healthier (so you don’t die of things like malnutrition), and also causes you to eat more cheese? This seems very plausible. Yes, this is possible. Linearity – Are we comparing two linear trends? A linear trend is a steady rate of growth or decline. Any two statistics which are both roughly linear over time will be very well correlated. In the graph above, both our statistics are trending linearly upwards. If the graph was drawn with different scales, they might look completely unrelated, like this, but because they both have a steady rate, they’d still be very well correlated. Yes, this looks likely. Broad applicability – Is it possible that this relationship only exists in certain niche scenarios, or, at least, not in my niche scenario? Perhaps, for example, cheese does this to some people, and that’s been enough to create this correlation, because there are so few bedsheet-tangling fatalities otherwise? Yes, this seems possible.

So we have 4 “Yes” answers and one “No” answer from those 5 checks.

If your example doesn’t get 5 “No” answers from those 5 checks, it’s a fail, and you don’t get to say that the study has established either a ranking factor or a fatal side effect of cheese consumption.

A similar process should apply to case studies, which are another form of correlation — the correlation between you making a change, and something good (or bad!) happening. For example, ask:

Have I ruled out other factors (e.g. external demand, seasonality, competitors making mistakes)? Did I increase traffic by doing the thing I tried to do, or did I accidentally improve some other factor at the same time? Did this work because of the unique circumstance of the particular client/project?

This is particularly challenging for SEOs, because we rarely have data of this quality, but I’d suggest an additional pair of questions to help you navigate this minefield:

If I were Google, would I do this? If I were Google, could I do this?

Direct traffic as a ranking factor passes the “could” test, but only barely — Google could use data from Chrome, Android, or ISPs, but it’d be sketchy. It doesn’t really pass the “would” test, though — it’d be far easier for Google to use branded search traffic, which would answer the same questions you might try to answer by comparing direct traffic levels (e.g. how popular is this website?).

2. Missing the context

If I told you that my traffic was up 20% week on week today, what would you say? Congratulations?

What if it was up 20% this time last year?

What if I told you it had been up 20% year on year, up until recently?

It’s funny how a little context can completely change this. This is another problem with case studies and their evil inverted twin, traffic drop analyses.

If we really want to understand whether to be surprised at something, positively or negatively, we need to compare it to our expectations, and then figure out what deviation from our expectations is “normal.” If this is starting to sound like statistics, that’s because it is statistics — indeed, I wrote about a statistical approach to measuring change way back in 2015.

If you want to be lazy, though, a good rule of thumb is to zoom out, and add in those previous years. And if someone shows you data that is suspiciously zoomed in, you might want to take it with a pinch of salt.

3. Trusting our tools

Would you make a multi-million dollar business decision based on a number that your competitor could manipulate at will? Well, chances are you do, and the number can be found in Google Analytics. I’ve covered this extensively in other places, but there are some major problems with most analytics platforms around:

How easy they are to manipulate externally How arbitrarily they group hits into sessions How vulnerable they are to ad blockers How they perform under sampling, and how obvious they make this

For example, did you know that the Google Analytics API v3 can heavily sample data whilst telling you that the data is unsampled, above a certain amount of traffic (~500,000 within date range)? Neither did I, until we ran into it whilst building Distilled ODN.

Similar problems exist with many “Search Analytics” tools. My colleague Sam Nemzer has written a bunch about this — did you know that most rank tracking platforms report completely different rankings? Or how about the fact that the keywords grouped by Google (and thus tools like SEMRush and STAT, too) are not equivalent, and don’t necessarily have the volumes quoted?

It’s important to understand the strengths and weaknesses of tools that we use, so that we can at least know when they’re directionally accurate (as in, their insights guide you in the right direction), even if not perfectly accurate. All I can really recommend here is that skilling up in SEO (or any other digital channel) necessarily means understanding the mechanics behind your measurement platforms — which is why all new starts at Distilled end up learning how to do analytics audits.

One of the most common solutions to the root problem is combining multiple data sources, but…

4. Combining data sources

There are numerous platforms out there that will “defeat (not provided)” by bringing together data from two or more of:

Analytics Search Console AdWords Rank tracking

The problems here are that, firstly, these platforms do not have equivalent definitions, and secondly, ironically, (not provided) tends to break them.

Let’s deal with definitions first, with an example — let’s look at a landing page with a channel:

In Search Console, these are reported as clicks, and can be vulnerable to heavy, invisible sampling when multiple dimensions (e.g. keyword and page) or filters are combined. In Google Analytics, these are reported using last non-direct click, meaning that your organic traffic includes a bunch of direct sessions, time-outs that resumed mid-session, etc. That’s without getting into dark traffic, ad blockers, etc. In AdWords, most reporting uses last AdWords click, and conversions may be defined differently. In addition, keyword volumes are bundled, as referenced above. Rank tracking is location specific, and inconsistent, as referenced above.

Fine, though — it may not be precise, but you can at least get to some directionally useful data given these limitations. However, about that “(not provided)”…

Most of your landing pages get traffic from more than one keyword. It’s very likely that some of these keywords convert better than others, particularly if they are branded, meaning that even the most thorough click-through rate model isn’t going to help you. So how do you know which keywords are valuable?

The best answer is to generalize from AdWords data for those keywords, but it’s very unlikely that you have analytics data for all those combinations of keyword and landing page. Essentially, the tools that report on this make the very bold assumption that a given page converts identically for all keywords. Some are more transparent about this than others.

Again, this isn’t to say that those tools aren’t valuable — they just need to be understood carefully. The only way you could reliably fill in these blanks created by “not provided” would be to spend a ton on paid search to get decent volume, conversion rate, and bounce rate estimates for all your keywords, and even then, you’ve not fixed the inconsistent definitions issues.

Bonus peeve: Average rank

I still see this way too often. Three questions:

Do you care more about losing rankings for ten very low volume queries (10 searches a month or less) than for one high volume query (millions plus)? If the answer isn’t “yes, I absolutely care more about the ten low-volume queries”, then this metric isn’t for you, and you should consider a visibility metric based on click through rate estimates. When you start ranking at 100 for a keyword you didn’t rank for before, does this make you unhappy? If the answer isn’t “yes, I hate ranking for new keywords,” then this metric isn’t for you — because that will lower your average rank. You could of course treat all non-ranking keywords as position 100, as some tools allow, but is a drop of 2 average rank positions really the best way to express that 1/50 of your landing pages have been de-indexed? Again, use a visibility metric, please. Do you like comparing your performance with your competitors? If the answer isn’t “no, of course not,” then this metric isn’t for you — your competitors may have more or fewer branded keywords or long-tail rankings, and these will skew the comparison. Again, use a visibility metric. Conclusion

Hopefully, you’ve found this useful. To summarize the main takeaways:

Critically analyse correlations & case studies by seeing if you can explain them as coincidences, as reverse causation, as joint causation, through reference to a third mutually relevant factor, or through niche applicability. Don’t look at changes in traffic without looking at the context — what would you have forecasted for this period, and with what margin of error? Remember that the tools we use have limitations, and do your research on how that impacts the numbers they show. “How has this number been produced?” is an important component in “What does this number mean?” If you end up combining data from multiple tools, remember to work out the relationship between them — treat this information as directional rather than precise.

Let me know what data analysis fallacies bug you, in the comments below.


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The Complete Guide to Direct Traffic in Google Analytics

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/seomoz/~3/IMLT-n7SO4Y/guide-to-direct-traffic-google-analytics

Posted by tombennet

When it comes to direct traffic in Analytics, there are two deeply entrenched misconceptions.

The first is that it’s caused almost exclusively by users typing an address into their browser (or clicking on a bookmark). The second is that it’s a Bad Thing, not because it has any overt negative impact on your site’s performance, but rather because it’s somehow immune to further analysis. The prevailing attitude amongst digital marketers is that direct traffic is an unavoidable inconvenience; as a result, discussion of direct is typically limited to ways of attributing it to other channels, or side-stepping the issues associated with it.

In this article, we’ll be taking a fresh look at direct traffic in modern Google Analytics. As well as exploring the myriad ways in which referrer data can be lost, we’ll look at some tools and tactics you can start using immediately to reduce levels of direct traffic in your reports. Finally, we’ll discover how advanced analysis and segmentation can unlock the mysteries of direct traffic and shed light on what might actually be your most valuable users.

What is direct traffic?

In short, Google Analytics will report a traffic source of “direct” when it has no data on how the session arrived at your website, or when the referring source has been configured to be ignored. You can think of direct as GA’s fall-back option for when its processing logic has failed to attribute a session to a particular source.

To properly understand the causes and fixes for direct traffic, it’s important to understand exactly how GA processes traffic sources. The following flow-chart illustrates how sessions are bucketed — note that direct sits right at the end as a final “catch-all” group.

Broadly speaking, and disregarding user-configured overrides, GA’s processing follows this sequence of checks:

AdWords parameters > Campaign overrides > UTM campaign parameters > Referred by a search engine > Referred by another website > Previous campaign within timeout period > Direct

Note the penultimate processing step (previous campaign within timeout), which has a significant impact on the direct channel. Consider a user who discovers your site via organic search, then returns via direct a week later. Both sessions would be attributed to organic search. In fact, campaign data persists for up to six months by default. The key point here is that Google Analytics is already trying to minimize the impact of direct traffic for you.

What causes direct traffic?

Contrary to popular belief, there are actually many reasons why a session might be missing campaign and traffic source data. Here we will run through some of the most common.

1. Manual address entry and bookmarks

The classic direct-traffic scenario, this one is largely unavoidable. If a user types a URL into their browser’s address bar or clicks on a browser bookmark, that session will appear as direct traffic.

Simple as that.

2. HTTPS > HTTP

When a user follows a link on a secure (HTTPS) page to a non-secure (HTTP) page, no referrer data is passed, meaning the session appears as direct traffic instead of as a referral. Note that this is intended behavior. It’s part of how the secure protocol was designed, and it does not affect other scenarios: HTTP to HTTP, HTTPS to HTTPS, and even HTTP to HTTPS all pass referrer data.

So, if your referral traffic has tanked but direct has spiked, it could be that one of your major referrers has migrated to HTTPS. The inverse is also true: If you’ve migrated to HTTPS and are linking to HTTP websites, the traffic you’re driving to them will appear in their Analytics as direct.

If your referrers have moved to HTTPS and you’re stuck on HTTP, you really ought to consider migrating to HTTPS. Doing so (and updating your backlinks to point to HTTPS URLs) will bring back any referrer data which is being stripped from cross-protocol traffic. SSL certificates can now be obtained for free thanks to automated authorities like LetsEncrypt, but that’s not to say you should neglect to explore the potentially-significant SEO implications of site migrations. Remember, HTTPS and HTTP/2 are the future of the web.

If, on the other hand, you’ve already migrated to HTTPS and are concerned about your users appearing to partner websites as direct traffic, you can implement the meta referrer tag. Cyrus Shepard has written about this on Moz before, so I won’t delve into it now. Suffice to say, it’s a way of telling browsers to pass some referrer data to non-secure sites, and can be implemented as a <meta> element or HTTP header.

3. Missing or broken tracking code

Let’s say you’ve launched a new landing page template and forgotten to include the GA tracking code. Or, to use a scenario I’m encountering more and more frequently, imagine your GTM container is a horrible mess of poorly configured triggers, and your tracking code is simply failing to fire.

Users land on this page without tracking code. They click on a link to a deeper page which does have tracking code. From GA’s perspective, the first hit of the session is the second page visited, meaning that the referrer appears as your own website (i.e. a self-referral). If your domain is on the referral exclusion list (as per default configuration), the session is bucketed as direct. This will happen even if the first URL is tagged with UTM campaign parameters.

As a short-term fix, you can try to repair the damage by simply adding the missing tracking code. To prevent it happening again, carry out a thorough Analytics audit, move to a GTM-based tracking implementation, and promote a culture of data-driven marketing.

4. Improper redirection

This is an easy one. Don’t use meta refreshes or JavaScript-based redirects — these can wipe or replace referrer data, leading to direct traffic in Analytics. You should also be meticulous with your server-side redirects, and — as is often recommended by SEOs — audit your redirect file frequently. Complex chains are more likely to result in a loss of referrer data, and you run the risk of UTM parameters getting stripped out.

Once again, control what you can: use carefully mapped (i.e. non-chained) code 301 server-side redirects to preserve referrer data wherever possible.

5. Non-web documents

Links in Microsoft Word documents, slide decks, or PDFs do not pass referrer information. By default, users who click these links will appear in your reports as direct traffic. Clicks from native mobile apps (particularly those with embedded “in-app” browsers) are similarly prone to stripping out referrer data.

To a degree, this is unavoidable. Much like so-called “dark social” visits (discussed in detail below), non-web links will inevitably result in some quantity of direct traffic. However, you also have an opportunity here to control the controllables.

If you publish whitepapers or offer downloadable PDF guides, for example, you should be tagging the embedded hyperlinks with UTM campaign parameters. You’d never even contemplate launching an email marketing campaign without campaign tracking (I hope), so why would you distribute any other kind of freebie without similarly tracking its success? In some ways this is even more important, since these kinds of downloadables often have a longevity not seen in a single email campaign. Here’s an example of a properly tagged URL which we would embed as a link:

https://builtvisible.com/embedded-whitepaper-url/?…_medium=offline_document&utm_campaign=201711_utm_whitepaper

The same goes for URLs in your offline marketing materials. For major campaigns it’s common practice to select a short, memorable URL (e.g. moz.com/tv/) and design an entirely new landing page. It’s possible to bypass page creation altogether: simply redirect the vanity URL to an existing page URL which is properly tagged with UTM parameters.

So, whether you tag your URLs directly, use redirected vanity URLs, or — if you think UTM parameters are ugly — opt for some crazy-ass hash-fragment solution with GTM (read more here), the takeaway is the same: use campaign parameters wherever it’s appropriate to do so.

6. “Dark social”

This is a big one, and probably the least well understood by marketers.

The term “dark social” was first coined back in 2012 by Alexis Madrigal in an article for The Atlantic. Essentially it refers to methods of social sharing which cannot easily be attributed to a particular source, like email, instant messaging, Skype, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger.

Recent studies have found that upwards of 80% of consumers’ outbound sharing from publishers’ and marketers’ websites now occurs via these private channels. In terms of numbers of active users, messaging apps are outpacing social networking apps. All the activity driven by these thriving platforms is typically bucketed as direct traffic by web analytics software.

People who use the ambiguous phrase “social media marketing” are typically referring to advertising: you broadcast your message and hope people will listen. Even if you overcome consumer indifference with a well-targeted campaign, any subsequent interactions are affected by their very public nature. The privacy of dark social, by contrast, represents a potential goldmine of intimate, targeted, and relevant interactions with high conversion potential. Nebulous and difficult-to-track though it may be, dark social has the potential to let marketers tap into elusive power of word of mouth.

So, how can we minimize the amount of dark social traffic which is bucketed under direct? The unfortunate truth is that there is no magic bullet: proper attribution of dark social requires rigorous campaign tracking. The optimal approach will vary greatly based on your industry, audience, proposition, and so on. For many websites, however, a good first step is to provide convenient and properly configured sharing buttons for private platforms like email, WhatsApp, and Slack, thereby ensuring that users share URLs appended with UTM parameters (or vanity/shortened URLs which redirect to the same). This will go some way towards shining a light on part of your dark social traffic.

Checklist: Minimizing direct traffic

To summarize what we’ve already discussed, here are the steps you can take to minimize the level of unnecessary direct traffic in your reports:

Migrate to HTTPS: Not only is the secure protocol your gateway to HTTP/2 and the future of the web, it will also have an enormously positive effect on your ability to track referral traffic.Manage your use of redirects: Avoid chains and eliminate client-side redirection in favour of carefully-mapped, single-hop, server-side 301s. If you use vanity URLs to redirect to pages with UTM parameters, be meticulous.Get really good at campaign tagging: Even amongst data-driven marketers I encounter the belief that UTM begins and ends with switching on automatic tagging in your email marketing software. Others go to the other extreme, doing silly things like tagging internal links. Control what you can, and your ability to carry out meaningful attribution will markedly improve.Conduct an Analytics audit: Data integrity is vital, so consider this essential when assessing the success of your marketing. It’s not simply a case of checking for missing track code: good audits involve a review of your measurement plan and rigorous testing at page and property-level.

Adhere to these principles, and it’s often possible to achieve a dramatic reduction in the level of direct traffic reported in Analytics. The following example involved an HTTPS migration, GTM migration (as part of an Analytics review), and an overhaul of internal campaign tracking processes over the course of about 6 months:

But the saga of direct traffic doesn’t end there! Once this channel is “clean” — that is, once you’ve minimized the number of avoidable pollutants — what remains might actually be one of your most valuable traffic segments.

Analyze! Or: why direct traffic can actually be pretty cool

For reasons we’ve already discussed, traffic from bookmarks and dark social is an enormously valuable segment to analyze. These are likely to be some of your most loyal and engaged users, and it’s not uncommon to see a notably higher conversion rate for a clean direct channel compared to the site average. You should make the effort to get to know them.

The number of potential avenues to explore is infinite, but here are some good starting points:

Build meaningful custom segments, defining a subset of your direct traffic based on their landing page, location, device, repeat visit or purchase behavior, or even enhanced e-commerce interactions.Track meaningful engagement metrics using modern GTM triggers such as element visibility and native scroll tracking. Measure how your direct users are using and viewing your content.Watch for correlations with your other marketing activities, and use it as an opportunity to refine your tagging practices and segment definitions. Create a custom alert which watches for spikes in direct traffic.Familiarize yourself with flow reports to get an understanding of how your direct traffic is converting. By using Goal Flow and Behavior Flow reports with segmentation, it’s often possible to glean actionable insights which can be applied to the site as a whole.Ask your users for help! If you’ve isolated a valuable segment of traffic which eludes deeper analysis, add a button to the page offering visitors a free downloadable ebook if they tell you how they discovered your page.Start thinking about lifetime value, if you haven’t already — overhauling your attribution model or implementing User ID are good steps towards overcoming the indifference or frustration felt by marketers towards direct traffic.

I hope this guide has been useful. With any luck, you arrived looking for ways to reduce the level of direct traffic in your reports, and left with some new ideas for how to better analyze this valuable segment of users.

Thanks for reading!


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How To Avoid Web Analytics ‘Analysis Paralysis’ & Spend More Time Making Optimization Wins

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/crazyegg/~3/jWafVHLWWrg/

Visualizations are the best place to start It’s much easier to start your website optimization journey from a visual perspective than a strictly numerical one. When you can immediately see where visitors and users are clicking and where they’re not, you’re instantly clued into obvious bottlenecks, blockers, and regions that are completely ignored. Take this Google Analytics data for example… When you start digging through your typical analytics packages, you’ll end up several pages deep, looking at listed data like what is shown above. Not always helpful, right? What happens when I look at visual website analytics? This is a…

The post How To Avoid Web Analytics ‘Analysis Paralysis’ & Spend More Time Making Optimization Wins appeared first on The Daily Egg.


Community Discussion: How Do You Survey Your Readers?

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/ProbloggerHelpingBloggersEarnMoney/~3/HfiFg9x9-0s/

how-to-survey-your-readers.jpg

As the end of the year nears, you might be thinking about plans for your blogging in 2018.

One thing that will help inform that is a reader survey. On both ProBlogger and Digital Photography school I do an annual survey, usually around November.

As we plan our surveys, I thought I’d share some of the types of questions you can ask and give you a chance to share some of the survey techniques that have been successful for you too.

Types of questions you could ask: Demographics: find out your readers’ gender, age, income, and interests. You can compare this with the analytics you get from Google Analytics and Facebook Insights. Content: What types of content do your readers like? Practical, inspirational, case studies? What length of blog post do they prefer, and how often do they like reading? Products: If you’re planning new products you can test out some ideas and price points in your survey. Problems: Some of the most useful information you can find out is the kinds of problems your readers want solved – the keystone to creating engaging content.

Another area you may want to include is any questions that regular advertisers/sponsors may want to know, or information you can use to attract regular advertisers and sponsors.

A good example of this is finding out the intentions of your readers. If you have a travel blog, and know that 50% of your readers are planning international travel in the next three months, you can use that information to show the relevance of your blog to overseas destinations or maybe insurance providers.

Maybe you’re wondering about how to implement a survey. We use SurveyMonkey for our surveys, but you could also use Google Forms. Typeform is another survey tool we’ve checked out. The main thing is to use something that will let you ask succinct questions and get aggregated answers that can easily be viewed and analysed as data and graphs.

If you’ve got some tips on how you run readers surveys, please leave them in the comments below so we can create a more detailed post in the future.

Image Credit: Emily Morter

The post Community Discussion: How Do You Survey Your Readers? appeared first on ProBlogger.

      


How to Create a Reader Avatar for Your Blog

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/ProbloggerHelpingBloggersEarnMoney/~3/POaCUzUrp6E/

How to create a blog reader avatar

For several years, I’ve been using Reader Avatars (also called Reader Profiles or Personas) on my blogs – and I’ve found them very effective and helpful.

To create your first reader avatar, you’ll need to spend some time thinking and writing about a type of reader that you’re either attempting to reach or who is already reading your blog. Describe them in as much detail as you can – who they are, what their interests are, why they might be reading your blog and what their needs are.

(We’ve created a template you can use to help you do this, and I’ll be sharing some examples of my own reader avatars throughout this post.)

The idea is that you end up with a picture of who you’re writing for that you can then use to create posts that will resonate more strongly with your actual readers.

Before I talk about the benefits of doing this and make some suggestions on how to create reader avatars for your own blog, let me show you one that I first created several years ago for my photography site “Grace”
Mom-a-raz-zoGrace Momarazzo Avatar

Grace describes herself as a Mom-a-raz-zo photographer because 90% of her photos are of her young children. She’s 34 years old and lives in London.

She is in the market for an entry level DSLR and lens to help her capture her kids growing up. She studies photography is high school so has a basic understanding of how to use a camera, but until now has been using an entry level point and shoot camera.

Grace reads dPS for two reasons – firstly to help make a decision about which camera to buy. She’s a little nervous about making the choice and is looking for the advice of others. She’s also looking to connect with other Mom-a-raz-zo photographers and to learn how to improve her portrait photography.

Grace is a photography book addict – she subscribes to a photography magazine and has an expanding collection of portrait related photography books.

Grace dreams about one day making a little money from her photography – perhaps using what she learns in photographing her own children – to photograph other families. Her biggest obstacles in achieving this are a lack of confidence (she worries a lot about what others think of her work) and the equipment (which she is saving for).

Grace is on Facebook, is a heavy user of email and has a Flickr account.

The profile above describes one of the types of readers that we have on DPS – people whose main use of their cameras is to photograph their kids.

The profile describes why “Grace” reads DPS, some of her dreams, the type of photography she’s into, how else she uses the web, a little about her demographics, the level she’s at, and so on.

Here’s another one from a different type of reader at DPS:

“Keith”
Grey Nomadkeith grey nomad avatar

Keith is a first time digital camera owner. He’s recently retired and has bought an entry level DSLR to help him record an upcoming trip across the USA.

Keith reads dPS to work out how to get the mosts from his new camera, which to this point, he is using only in Automatic mode.

His needs and challenges are fairly beginner level and include learning about settings like Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO, knowing how to get his images off his camera and to store them safely, as well as basic composition techniques.

Keith dreams of taking great landscapes, macro photography and a little portrait work.

Keith is on a budget, living off his savings. He is willing to spend a little to improve his photography but researches all purchases carefully.

Keith has been online for years, but his preferred way to connect online is email.

Again – I’ve described another type of reader in a similar way to the first.

In each of these cases the reader profile is based upon a reader group already within the Digital Photography School community. If you’re just getting started with your blog, this same exercise could be done with potential readers – or the type of person you want to read your blog.

Why Should You Create Reader Avatars?

Hopefully you can already see some of the benefits of these kinds of reader avatars – but let me list a few of the things I’ve found most useful:

It makes your blogging feel more relevant and personal – I find that having a person (real or pretend) in mind as I write reminds me that there are real people on the other end of my posts. There are people with faces, names and needs – I find it inspiring to visualise them reading what I write, and thinking about them helps me to write in a more personal tone.

It informs your writing – having these kinds of avatars in mind as I write reminds me of some of the problems and questions that readers might have. That leads me to write write more practical posts that focus on real readers’ needs. Often as I write, I visualise the questions and reactions that these different readers might have to my posts – and then try to build answers to those into what I’m writing.

It identifies opportunities – although it was several years ago now, I still remember writing the first profile above (Grace) and realising that quite a few of my readers have mentioned their dreams of one day making some money from their photography. As a result, I created a section of the DPS forum specifically about making money with photography … and later, we published an ebook on “Going Pro”.  (Note the forums are currently closed.)

It can be helpful for recruiting advertisers – potential advertisers will want to know what type of reader you have. You can simply share your reader avatars with them: no need to think through a new answer each time. This also shows that you’ve thought about your readers and run a professional site.

It identifies ways to connect with your readership – you’ll notice I’ve included details in the profiles on what else the reader does online. It’s really useful to know what other sites your reader uses and which social networks they prefer as this can identify opportunities to identify places where potential new readers hang out.

It will identify opportunities to monetize your blog – knowing what your readers currently spend money on, what their needs are, and what kind of income they have at their disposal will give you all kinds of ideas for the types of advertisers you should seek out, the type of affiliate promotions you could do and the type of products you could develop.How to Create a Reader Profile?

There are no real rules – you can see I’ve developed a certain style in my personas above. I added a picture to each of the type of person in the profile to further personalise it. I’d suggest trying to include information in the following areas:

Demographics – basic facts, like age, gender, nationality, and education level. You can use Google Analytics not only to see how many readers are coming from which countries, but also to see how your readers fall into different age categories, and what the balance of genders is. Google’s page on Demographics and Interests explains how this works.  

Financial situation – are your readers well off, secure, or just about managing? This will obviously affect the types of products you choose to promote as an affiliate, or create yourself.

Needs and/or challenges – what are your readers struggling with, or what are they keen to know about? With photography, for instance, readers like Grace will want to know how to capture their children as they grow up.

How they use the web – you might want to think about the other blogs they read, the news sites they visit, the social networks they’re active within, and whether they tend to browse on a computer or on a tablet / mobile (again, Google Analytics can give you insight into this).

Motivations for reading the blog – for instance, are your readers hobbyists or taking their first steps into a career related to your topic? Do they read your blog to be inspired, educated, or entertained?

Level of experience with the topic – are your readers total beginners, highly experienced, or something in between? You may want to create several reader avatars for people at different levels of experience and familiarity with the topic.

Dreams – what do they wish they could accomplish … and how can you help them get there? You might find that the emails you receive and the comments on your posts help you figure out what your readers’ dreams are.

Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list – if you’ve created a reader avatar (or several) before, please feel free to share your suggestions and tips in comments below.

Let me finish this post off with one last persona – again for DPS.

“Gareth”
Going Progareth going pro avatar

Gareth (39 and living in Denver) prides himself on being one of the first people in his friendship group to own a digital camera. He invested heavily in a Sony Mavica that had the ability to take and store 9 images on a floppy disk!

Gareth sold his extensive film camera kit years back and fully converted to a Canon DSLR kit which he regularly updates and adds to whenever a new camera, lens or accessory comes onto the market. He also collects a range of other cameras – Liecas, Holgas and other more obscure models. He has a high disposable income.

Gareth works as a successful freelance designer but had recently put together a portfolio site for his photography and is on the way to going pro as a photographer.

Gareth knows most of what there is to know about photography – he is part of dPS because he loves to show his work and help others improve their photography. He’s also looking to increase his profile and exposure as a photographer.

Gareth photographs everything – he particularly loves live music photography, urban landscapes and anything experimental.

Gareth is an early adopter in many areas of life – he’s prolific in social media circles, has his own blog, Flickr account and is active on Facebook, Twitter and regularly uses Delicious for social bookmarking.


Now it’s over to you. Have a go at writing at least one reader avatar for your blog … and leave a comment below to let us know how you got on.  

Thrive Leads Shortcode could not be rendered, please check it in Thrive Leads Section!

The post How to Create a Reader Avatar for Your Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.

      


The Six Most Misunderstood Metrics in Google Analytics

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/crazyegg/~3/onF2dW-K7L8/

Google Analytics (GA) is capable of generating incredibly detailed and comprehensive data. It provides the insights needed to fine-tune your site, reduce UX friction and ultimately maximize conversions. But there’s a catch. It’s only effective if you actually know how to interpret the data.   Unfortunately, not all users fully understand the core metrics, and there’s uncertainty as to how to decipher them. Here, we’ll take a look at six of the most misunderstood metrics in GA to find out what the data means and how to apply it in order to optimize your site. 1. Direct Traffic At first…

The post The Six Most Misunderstood Metrics in Google Analytics appeared first on The Daily Egg.


7 Ways Email Signatures Can Drive Signups, Follows, and Conversions

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/WordStreamBlog/~3/Kvogh2YwOLk/email-signatures

When you think of email marketing, what comes to mind? Monthly customer newsletters, daily blog RSS feeds, curated drip campaigns…

One thing you probably didn’t think of is employee email signatures.

Email signatures

Image via Email Signature Rescue

Your employees engage with customers, vendors, friends, and family via email. With the right call to action in their email signature, any of those email recipients could turn into new website visitors, customers, or social media followers.

Sure, optimizing your employee email signatures will never be as effective as your other email marketing efforts. You shouldn’t expect to add these to your employee signatures and suddenly meet your sales goal for the year, but they will drive real incremental conversions for your business.

And the best part? This is the rare kind of marketing tactic where you can truly set it and forget it.

Here are seven ways you can get more out of your employee email signatures. Choose one, create a version for your company, and share it with your employees.

1. Drive Website Traffic

Promoting existing content in your email signature drives more web traffic and social shares. If you’ve got the landing page set up with an email newsletter signup form, it could drive more subscriptions, too.

From a high-converting case study to an infographic that went viral on Twitter, choose content that actually delivers. Coordinate with your content team and review conversion data in Google Analytics to discover what content performs especially well for your business. Then link to it in your signature.

Pro tip: Don’t just say “Read our latest blog/whitepaper/ebook!” Hyperlink intriguing anchor text that compels the reader to click, as Yesware does in this example below:

Email signatures call-to-action example

Alternately, you might use a graphic to advertise the content, as in this example from HubSpot:

 Email signatures free downloadable guide call to action

2. Increase Your Following

Want to grow your social media fanbase? You’ve got options.

At a minimum, you should link to your main social media channels in your signature. People like to follow brands they work with and buy from. Link using small icons to your social media channels, rather than including long URLs. Icons are cleaner, instantly recognizable, and simply less exhausting to look at, as demonstrated in this example from Mailbird.

Email signatures cleaner design more info less space 

If you desperately want follows, you could take a more aggressive route like Limehouse Creative did. There’s a lot of information in their email signature below, but your eye is immediately drawn to the graphic, right? If social follows are most important to your marketing strategy, this is a great option. Otherwise, you might be better off using the banner to advertise a content piece or invite demo registrations.

Email signatures to drive Facebook likes social follows 

Image via SmallBusinessSense

3. Generate Leads

Speaking of demos, your email signature is a perfect opportunity for your salespeople to generate leads.

Just like realtors, salespeople know the power of faces, so good ones always include a headshot in their signature. The example also includes a “Request a demo” link to make it easy for leads to connect with the sales rep. The only suggestion we have would be to highlight that anchor text in another color or bolded font.

Email signatures sales rep example with call to action 

Image via Yesware

4. Turn Leads into Customers

Once you’ve got a thread going with a lead, the goal is to push them further down the funnel.

You might take a cue from our first tip, and link your salespeople’s signatures to your top-performing case study. Or you could work with your CRM software to dynamically change your email signatures depending on a lead’s status. For leads that suddenly went cold, or are simply lollygagging, adding a discount offer could be just the thing that wins them over. You can even reuse the banners from your display ads.

Email signatures special offers 

Image via WiseStamp

5. Promote Upcoming Events

Does your company regularly attend trade shows? Drive traffic your way with a banner announcing your booth number that links to the event registration page. You can also hype upcoming product launch parties, local networking happy hours, webinars, and Facebook Live events. Just make sure you update your signature after the event has passed.

 Email signatures promote events

Image via HubSpot

6. Build Trust

Even if you don’t want to push your email recipients to take specific action, your email can still passively work in your favor, building trust, credibility, and brand awareness. Here are a few examples of people doing that well.

Lauren Pawell doesn’t have to ask people if they want to work with her. Showing the types of publications and podcasts she’s been featured on gets people to ask her.

 Email signatures trust signals brand logos

Image via FitSmallBusiness

Similarly, author Aaron Ross links to his book page, while noting that it’s a #1 Amazon Bestseller. He kills two birds with one stone in this email signature, both establishing his authority in the space, while also encouraging people to buy his book.

 Email signatures product links Amazon affiliate links

Image via Yesware

If your company has won awards, your email signature is a wonderful place to show them off. It looks like branding, instead of bragging.

 Email signatures opportunity to display company awards and award logos in email signatures

Image via Mailbird

7. Ask for Reviews

Another great trust signal? Rave reviews and testimonials. Generate a steady supply of these by requesting reviews in your email signature. Even a gentle reminder of “Your Referrals Are Always Welcome!” can help customers remember that their friend was just looking for a service similar to yours.

In the example below, Dr. Brian Fann links “Review Us” text and also includes a social icon for his dental practice’s Google+ page, so there are multiple opportunities for recipients to click and review his business.

 Email signatures user reviews star ratings

Image via Hi5 Practice

Best Practices for Employee Email Signatures

Ready to outfit your employees with stellar email signatures? Follow these best practices to set yourselves up for success.

1. Make it Mandatory

Everyone likes to express their individuality, but your corporate email signature is not the place to do it. Tell employees to leave the artistry to their social media profiles.

Having an unified look across all your employee signatures both elevates the professionalism of your brand and avoids the formatting issues, typos, and rogue color and font choices that can happen when you let employees take it into their own hands.

2. Provide a Template

Ideally, your IT team can code these across your employees’ email settings. If that’s not possible, supply employees with a plug-and-play template they can copy into the signature settings for your email provider. Clear, easy-to-follow instructions should accompany the template.

3. Use UTM Tracking

Track your efforts by adding UTM codes to the links in your email signatures. You can check on your progress in Google Analytics under Acquisition > Campaigns. This also allows you to test different CTAs or types of content over time, or even different placements within the signature (e.g. linking to content above or below your social icons).

4. Test the Design on Mobile

We live in a mobile-first world now. Make sure your email signature adheres to that worldview. Nearly half of people read their emails from a mobile device instead of their desktop computer, so test to make sure your design fits and looks good on different smartphones and tablet devices.

5. Follow Rules of Good Design

Don’t use too many colors or fonts, and make sure that what you do use complements each other. Consider using pipes or other dividers to break up text and make it readable.

If you don’t have access to a designer, try out HubSpot’s email signature generator. Fill out all your info, choose a design, and voila!

Email signatures HubSpot email signature generator templates

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

With exciting announcements like the most recent Google algorithm upgrade, the latest Snapchat feature, or a new iPhone happening on a near-daily basis, it’s easy for marketers to get shiny ball syndrome. As a result, the lowly email signature is an often overlooked part of marketing strategy. However, implementing any of the above tactics is a simple way to generate a sizable number of wins for your business.

About the Author

Michael Quoc is the founder and CEO of Dealspotr, an open social platform connecting emerging brands, lifestyle influencers, and trend-seeking shoppers in exciting new ways. Follow him on Twitter at @michaelquoc.


How to Create a Reader Avatar for Your Blog

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/ProbloggerHelpingBloggersEarnMoney/~3/TggAydWHktQ/

How to create a blog reader avatar

For several years, I’ve been using Reader Avatars (also called Reader Profiles or Personas) on my blogs – and I’ve found them very effective and helpful.

To create your first reader avatar, you’ll need to spend some time thinking and writing about a type of reader that you’re either attempting to reach or who is already reading your blog. Describe them in as much detail as you can – who they are, what their interests are, why they might be reading your blog and what their needs are.

(We’ve created a template you can use to help you do this, and I’ll be sharing some examples of my own reader avatars throughout this post.)

The idea is that you end up with a picture of who you’re writing for that you can then use to create posts that will resonate more strongly with your actual readers.

Before I talk about the benefits of doing this and make some suggestions on how to create reader avatars for your own blog, let me show you one that I first created several years ago for my photography site “Grace”
Mom-a-raz-zoGrace Momarazzo Avatar

Grace describes herself as a Mom-a-raz-zo photographer because 90% of her photos are of her young children. She’s 34 years old and lives in London.

She is in the market for an entry level DSLR and lens to help her capture her kids growing up. She studies photography is high school so has a basic understanding of how to use a camera, but until now has been using an entry level point and shoot camera.

Grace reads dPS for two reasons – firstly to help make a decision about which camera to buy. She’s a little nervous about making the choice and is looking for the advice of others. She’s also looking to connect with other Mom-a-raz-zo photographers and to learn how to improve her portrait photography.

Grace is a photography book addict – she subscribes to a photography magazine and has an expanding collection of portrait related photography books.

Grace dreams about one day making a little money from her photography – perhaps using what she learns in photographing her own children – to photograph other families. Her biggest obstacles in achieving this are a lack of confidence (she worries a lot about what others think of her work) and the equipment (which she is saving for).

Grace is on Facebook, is a heavy user of email and has a Flickr account.

The profile above describes one of the types of readers that we have on DPS – people whose main use of their cameras is to photograph their kids.

The profile describes why “Grace” reads DPS, some of her dreams, the type of photography she’s into, how else she uses the web, a little about her demographics, the level she’s at, and so on.

Here’s another one from a different type of reader at DPS:

“Keith”
Grey Nomadkeith grey nomad avatar

Keith is a first time digital camera owner. He’s recently retired and has bought an entry level DSLR to help him record an upcoming trip across the USA.

Keith reads dPS to work out how to get the mosts from his new camera, which to this point, he is using only in Automatic mode.

His needs and challenges are fairly beginner level and include learning about settings like Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO, knowing how to get his images off his camera and to store them safely, as well as basic composition techniques.

Keith dreams of taking great landscapes, macro photography and a little portrait work.

Keith is on a budget, living off his savings. He is willing to spend a little to improve his photography but researches all purchases carefully.

Keith has been online for years, but his preferred way to connect online is email.

Again – I’ve described another type of reader in a similar way to the first.

In each of these cases the reader profile is based upon a reader group already within the Digital Photography School community. If you’re just getting started with your blog, this same exercise could be done with potential readers – or the type of person you want to read your blog.

Why Should You Create Reader Avatars?

Hopefully you can already see some of the benefits of these kinds of reader avatars – but let me list a few of the things I’ve found most useful:

It makes your blogging feel more relevant and personal – I find that having a person (real or pretend) in mind as I write reminds me that there are real people on the other end of my posts. There are people with faces, names and needs – I find it inspiring to visualise them reading what I write, and thinking about them helps me to write in a more personal tone.

It informs your writing – having these kinds of avatars in mind as I write reminds me of some of the problems and questions that readers might have. That leads me to write write more practical posts that focus on real readers’ needs. Often as I write, I visualise the questions and reactions that these different readers might have to my posts – and then try to build answers to those into what I’m writing.

It identifies opportunities – although it was several years ago now, I still remember writing the first profile above (Grace) and realising that quite a few of my readers have mentioned their dreams of one day making some money from their photography. As a result, I created a section of the DPS forum specifically about making money with photography … and later, we published an ebook on “Going Pro”.  (Note the forums are currently closed.)

It can be helpful for recruiting advertisers – potential advertisers will want to know what type of reader you have. You can simply share your reader avatars with them: no need to think through a new answer each time. This also shows that you’ve thought about your readers and run a professional site.

It identifies ways to connect with your readership – you’ll notice I’ve included details in the profiles on what else the reader does online. It’s really useful to know what other sites your reader uses and which social networks they prefer as this can identify opportunities to identify places where potential new readers hang out.

It will identify opportunities to monetize your blog – knowing what your readers currently spend money on, what their needs are, and what kind of income they have at their disposal will give you all kinds of ideas for the types of advertisers you should seek out, the type of affiliate promotions you could do and the type of products you could develop.How to Create a Reader Profile?

There are no real rules – you can see I’ve developed a certain style in my personas above. I added a picture to each of the type of person in the profile to further personalise it. I’d suggest trying to include information in the following areas:

Demographics – basic facts, like age, gender, nationality, and education level. You can use Google Analytics not only to see how many readers are coming from which countries, but also to see how your readers fall into different age categories, and what the balance of genders is. Google’s page on Demographics and Interests explains how this works.  

Financial situation – are your readers well off, secure, or just about managing? This will obviously affect the types of products you choose to promote as an affiliate, or create yourself.

Needs and/or challenges – what are your readers struggling with, or what are they keen to know about? With photography, for instance, readers like Grace will want to know how to capture their children as they grow up.

How they use the web – you might want to think about the other blogs they read, the news sites they visit, the social networks they’re active within, and whether they tend to browse on a computer or on a tablet / mobile (again, Google Analytics can give you insight into this).

Motivations for reading the blog – for instance, are your readers hobbyists or taking their first steps into a career related to your topic? Do they read your blog to be inspired, educated, or entertained?

Level of experience with the topic – are your readers total beginners, highly experienced, or something in between? You may want to create several reader avatars for people at different levels of experience and familiarity with the topic.

Dreams – what do they wish they could accomplish … and how can you help them get there? You might find that the emails you receive and the comments on your posts help you figure out what your readers’ dreams are.

Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list – if you’ve created a reader avatar (or several) before, please feel free to share your suggestions and tips in comments below.

Let me finish this post off with one last persona – again for DPS.

“Gareth”
Going Progareth going pro avatar

Gareth (39 and living in Denver) prides himself on being one of the first people in his friendship group to own a digital camera. He invested heavily in a Sony Mavica that had the ability to take and store 9 images on a floppy disk!

Gareth sold his extensive film camera kit years back and fully converted to a Canon DSLR kit which he regularly updates and adds to whenever a new camera, lens or accessory comes onto the market. He also collects a range of other cameras – Liecas, Holgas and other more obscure models. He has a high disposable income.

Gareth works as a successful freelance designer but had recently put together a portfolio site for his photography and is on the way to going pro as a photographer.

Gareth knows most of what there is to know about photography – he is part of dPS because he loves to show his work and help others improve their photography. He’s also looking to increase his profile and exposure as a photographer.

Gareth photographs everything – he particularly loves live music photography, urban landscapes and anything experimental.

Gareth is an early adopter in many areas of life – he’s prolific in social media circles, has his own blog, Flickr account and is active on Facebook, Twitter and regularly uses Delicious for social bookmarking.


Now it’s over to you. Have a go at writing at least one reader avatar for your blog … and leave a comment below to let us know how you got on.  

Thrive Leads Shortcode could not be rendered, please check it in Thrive Leads Section!

The post How to Create a Reader Avatar for Your Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.

      


Do iPhone Users Spend More Online Than Android Users?

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/seomoz/~3/HUsGkhGJS7g/apple-vs-android-aov

Posted by MartyMeany

Apple has just launched their latest flagship phones to market and later this year they’ll release their uber-flagship: the iPhone X. The iPhone X is the most expensive iPhone yet, at a cool $999. With so many other smartphones on the market offering similar functionality, it begs the question: Do iPhone users simply spend more money than everyone else?

At Wolfgang Digital, we love a bit of data, so we’ve trawled through a massive dataset of 31 million iPhone and Android sessions to finally answer this question. Of course, we’ve got some actionable nuggets of digital marketing strategy at the end, too!

Why am I asking this question?

Way back when, before joining the online marketing world, I sold mobile phones. I couldn’t get my head around why people bought iPhones. They’re more expensive than their Android counterparts, which usually offer the same, if not increased, functionality (though you could argue the latter is subjective).

When I moved into the e-commerce department of the same phone retailer, my team would regularly grab a coffee and share little nuggets of interesting e-commerce trends we’d found. My personal favorite was a tale about Apple users spending more than desktop users. The story I read talked about how a hotel raised prices for people booking while using an Apple device. Even with the increased prices, conversion rates didn’t budge as the hotel raked in extra cash.

I’ve always said this story was anecdotal because I simply never saw the data to back it up. Still, it fascinated me.

Finding an answer

Fast forward a few years and I’m sitting in Wolfgang Digital behind the huge dataset that powered our 2017 E-Commerce Benchmark KPI Study. It occurred to me that this data could answer some of the great online questions I’d heard over the years. What better place to start than that tale of Apple users spending more money online than others?

The online world has changed a little since I first asked myself this question, so let’s take a fresh 2017 approach.

Do iPhone users spend more than Android users?

When this hypothesis first appeared, people were comparing Mac desktop users and PC desktop users, but the game has changed since then. To give the hypothesis a fresh 2017 look, we’re going to ask whether iPhone users spend more than Android users. Looking through the 31 million sessions on both iOS and Android operating systems, then filtering the data by mobile, it didn’t take long to find the the answer to this question that had followed me around for years. The results were astonishing:

On average, Android users spend $11.54 per transaction. iPhone users, on the other hand, spend a whopping $32.94 per transaction. That means iPhone users will spend almost three times as much as Android users when visiting an e-commerce site.

Slightly smug that I’ve finally answered my question, how do we turn this from being an interesting nugget of information to an actionable insight?

What does this mean for digital marketers?

As soon as you read about iPhone users spending three times more than Android users, I’m sure you started thinking about targeting users specifically based on their operating system. If iOS users are spending more money than their Android counterparts, doesn’t it make sense to shift your spend and targeting towards iOS users?

You’re right. In both Facebook and AdWords, you can use this information to your advantage.

Targeting operating systems within Facebook

Of the “big two” ad platforms, Facebook offers the most direct form of operating system targeting. When creating your ads, Facebook’s Ad Manager will give you the option to target “All Mobile Devices,” “iOS Devices Only,” or “Android Devices Only.” These options mean you can target those high average order value-generating iPhone users.

Targeting operating systems within AdWords

AdWords will allow you to target operating systems for both Display Campaigns and Video Campaigns. When it comes to Search, you can’t target a specific operating system. You can, however, create an OS-based audience using Google Analytics. Once this audience is built, you can remarket to an iOS audience with “iPhone”-oriented ad texts. Speaking at Wolfgang Essentials this year, Wil Reynolds showed clips of people talking through their decision to click in SERPs. It’s incredible to see people skipping over year-old content before clicking an article that mentions “iPhone.” Why? Because that user has an iPhone. That’s the power of relevancy.

You’ll also be able to optimize and personalize your bids in Search, safe in the knowledge that iPhone users are more likely to spend big than Android users.

There you have it. Don’t let those mad stories you hear pass you by. You might just learn something!


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