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Lead Attribution & the Customer Journey (Part 1)

2 May

Use the Data Available to You to See the Whole Picture

Lead Generation

CoreyMorrisGuest Contributor:
Corey Morris, Digital Marketing Director

Lead attribution and the customer journey. Yes, these are two of the most commonly used buzzwords in digital marketing right now. This is not a lazy blog post to latch onto what others are saying and to give you a fluffy, rosy version of how you should be considering both the customer journey and lead attribution to make your digital marketing drive results 10x over what you got last year. This blog is to make sure we’re all on the same page and using the data available to us to help make these topics attainable and realistic before we get too “pie in the sky” with our conceptual thinking.

But first, we must answer this question: what is lead attribution? Lead attribution is the practice of giving credit to the source who provided the lead. For example, if you are running a PPC campaign in Google AdWords and that person comes to a landing page on our site and completes the form, then they are a conversion—consequently, that lead gets attributed to PPC via AdWords.

This example sounds like typical and solid tracking; however, it could also be short-sighted when we’re talking about “last-click attribution.” By counting this lead as a lead specifically for AdWords PPC, we’re potentially not considering the other potential ways the user might have found us—and the other ways they interacted with our content before coming back. In this case, PPC is getting the credit.

The customer journey can be defined as the process a user takes to go from their initial step in researching, all the way to the point of conversion. If we’re using the Google AdWords PPC landing page form completion example noted above, then we’re also talking about how that same individual (yes, they’re a person, despite all of our “persona talk” about site visitors and users) ultimately decides to fill out a form, which is recorded as a conversion.

The challenge in all of this is that we don’t often work to connect the dots to attribute a lead to all the channels that had a role in the conversion— not just the one that received the last click. It can be tricky as it often isn’t linear or very trackable; however, that doesn’t let us off the hook. We have some data at our fingertips that helps us start the process of working toward building a system. If you have Google Analytics, then you have a tool that has two reports you should start looking at as your first step.

The first report in Google Analytics to get familiar with is the Multi-Channel Funnels Overview under the Conversions section. If you have conversion goals set up in your account, then you’ll have data in this report by default.

You can use the checkboxes to update the Venn diagram to mix and match, so you can understand how the different channels were involved in user journeys that ultimately led to a conversion. You can also see how many total assisted conversions there were.

The second report to take a look at is the Assisted Conversions report (also under the Conversions section in Google Analytics).

There’s a lot more you can do in this report. At a basic level, it shows a breakdown of assisted conversions, which are channels that were part of a user journey but didn’t get the last click or direct conversion at the end of the journey. If you have values set for your conversion goals or have eCommerce tracking on in Google Analytics then you also can see dollar values for each channel, which can be incredibly helpful in measuring the cost of your efforts against revenue generated. You can customize the data in this report by changing the number of days in the window prior to conversion as well as look at the value of first interaction versus last click.

Bonus: If you want to take another step and get into more advanced territory, take a look at the Attribution Model Comparison report in Google Analytics. There are some fun ways to compare models and see how the data and your perspective on conversions might change. We’ll get into this and go deeper with the next post in this series.

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SMX West Recap

22 Mar

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 8.33.19 AM

Lessons Learned from One of the Best SEM Conferences in the Industry

CoreyMorris3Guest Contributor:
Corey Morris, Digital Marketing Director

SMX West (Search Marketing Expo) is one of the premier events in the search marketing industry and is hosted yearly in a significant location for the search community—in the heart of Silicon Valley. I’ve been involved with SMX for many years. Last year, I had the opportunity to speak on technical SEO at this event. This year, I was able to catch up with colleagues, absorb as much new information as possible, and even make my first visit to Google HQ in Mountain View.

Coming into the event I anticipated several things, such as:

  • The reintroduction of the Google Dance (more on this below)
  • Industry reaction to the removal of right rail ads on Google
  • Insights and outlook on Google local search (since SMX West focused last year on details regarding the major shake-ups in the local search landscape, with local becoming much more like traditional organic search)
  • Specific details on how to harness added features and functionality in AdWords, including remarketing, customer audiences, and more
  • Seeing how the industry has grown and changed in the past year, as my focus has shifted to an integrated digital marketing model

SMX Google

Starting with the opening evening networking reception hosted by Bruce Clay, Inc., I realized that the buzz was definitely there. I’ve been to many shows in the industry (including West) several times, but this one had a different buzz about it. It seemed bigger and everyone seemed more engaged. Networking was at a different level this year, and while maybe it was just a perception due to the opportunity I had to meet a lot of great new people, I’d like to think that the industry has become more open and focused than ever before.

Key Insights from SMX West 2016

In terms of specific takeaways, I have more insights and perspectives in my notes than I can likely share, but here are some highlights:

  • Consider use of customer match remarketing in AdWords. This was rolled out last year, but most of us took a wait and see approach with this (as we do with many new Google features). Two specific case studies showed an average of 50% conversion rate with this tactic. It has been on my “To Test” list for a while, but has since moved up to a tactic to absolutely work into the remarketing mix and lead nurturing process for my clients. In basic terms, it allows you to upload your email list into AdWords and remarket to users that Google can match to their email address or Google account address.
  • A conversation that I had over a meal (that I can share) included a strong reminder to never forget that while search marketing is more widely accepted than ever before, that there are still skeptics out there (in US, Canada, and Australia…we have similar stories) based on the actions of a small minority and/or those that used shady tactics years ago. Search marketing isn’t in the silo that it used to be. Three of the six of us in our group did not come from search marketing backgrounds and are either new to the space or are working in companies providing the service as a value-add or new component (ex: printing company, PR agency)
  • Another takeaway is a great reminder to not lose sight of the basics in account structure and hierarchy in PPC. Advanced tactics and strategies are great, but you need to cut wasted spend and poor performers before scaling out into other areas.
  • The best slide that I saw in a presentation served as a simple, yet great reminder for PPC accounts:

ad-group-defnition

  • We received several very interesting insights from Google engineer, Paul Haahr, on the final day. I have a new vocab word in “shards.” The best insight from that session is that it’s rare to look at Google search results and not see an experiment. The oft-quoted stat that Google changes their algorithm over 500 times a year and the fun name associated with the Google Dance are strong reminders that nothing is done in a vacuum. We’re way beyond the days where results were somewhat static and we could see absolute ranking positions. Always be mindful that Google is changing—just like our competition is changing—and we’re (hopefully) also changing as we optimize our sites.

Google Dance

Google Dance

You may have started your reading here by scrolling down to see images of what a Google Dance looks like. Let me start with the
history lesson and detail that hopefully wasn’t missed by those that attended who are under 30. The Google Dance was agoogle-dance historical reference to the early days when Google would roll out updates to the algorithm at off-peak hours that would impact rankings and would often roll back the update (or continue a cycle of pushing out and pulling back updates). This garnered the nickname of the Google Dance from the SEO community.

Fast forward—Google started to hold an event for the SEO community (that Google refers to only as “Webmasters”) at the Googleplex in Mountain View. It was a great outreach event and stopped happening before 2010.

Maile OhyeThis was the first year that it was brought back for a VIP audience of 500 attendees at West. The whole experience felt special—food, drinks, trivia, a DJ, and even a cupcake bar. But the highlight for many was the brief return of Matt Cutts. Since he stepped away from the role of being the face of Google to many in the SEO community, it is now considered a treat when he makes an appearance. The night at Google rounded out with a great conversation that I had with Maile Ohye, a lead engineer at Google and a popular speaker at industry events—be sure to attend one of her sessions if you can, as they are very insightful.

Many items on my industry bucket list were checked off at SMX 2016 and I can’t emphasize enough the high quality of people I engaged with and both the validation of my strategies and supplement of new tactics that this event offered.

 

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Don’t Let Words Overpower the Message

21 Jan

Avoid These Marketing Buzzwords in 2016

Buzzwords

When I was at the B2B Marketing Forum this past year, we played a little game called “marketing bingo.” Some of you might be familiar with it. You play by creating a card of marketing lingo, slang, and overused words, and then you work to fill up your board as you hear these words used throughout the conference. And you’d be amazed to learn how quickly those bingo cards fill up.

Towards the end of last year, I wrote a blog post about how marketers need to focus on being classic rather than trendy. Reports show that as marketers are trying more and more to push the envelope to keep up with the latest trends, they’re missing some of the fundamentals of marketing. I believe that a lot of the time, marketers are too focused on who can throw out the most marketing buzzwords in a conversation rather than having a substantive discussion of the deeper issues at hand.

That’s why I was so excited to come across an article from Marketo last week discussing some of the top buzzwords that marketers should retire this year. I’ve picked out a few of my favorites:

  • Email Blast: A shotgun blasts, an email doesn’t. If anything, as marketers we should be looking for more and more ways to personalize our emails—not “blast” them out to the largest group possible.
  • Low Hanging Fruit: Aiming low is always a great way to get results, right? No. If you’re looking for low-hanging fruit, I can almost guarantee that you already have it—and it’s rotten.
  • Thought Leader: This one is tricky, because I use it myself. But the reason for not using it is strong—essentially, any content you produce should come from a place of leadership. Too often, though, this word comes from a promotional place. Aim to help, not sell.

As marketers, it’s easy to get caught up in whatever the latest buzzword is. And it’s not inherently bad to be aware of the concepts, but it is if it comes at the expense of actual deeper thinking. Don’t let the words overpower the message and don’t let fleeting trends override long-term strategy.

If you want to see the full list of marketing buzzwords to avoid in 2016, read the article.

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7 Tips for Effectively Communicating Marketing Results

19 Jan

Results

How You Share Your Results Is Just As Important As the Results Themselves

MattBartlett

Guest Contributor:
Matt Bartlett, Account Manager

A couple of years ago, I was tasked with presenting campaign results to a few C-Suite level contacts by one of my clients. I was extremely excited and wanted to give the best and most detailed presentation they’d ever seen. I included every number I could find. I included every detail offered by the tracking solutions we were using. And then, about halfway through my presentation, everyone in the room was reading email on their phones. I was crushed. How could they not care? What I’ve learned is that I wasted a lot of my time and theirs with that presentation…

We’ve written before about the importance of reporting and analytics when it comes to your marketing tactics. You won’t find many successful marketers arguing that results aren’t important. But the fact is, if you can’t communicate results effectively, you are wasting everyone’s time and money—particularly in the building industry, which has high expectations for ROI.

Your Client Is Not Your Only Audience

There are two audiences to consider when communicating marketing results. The first is obvious: the client (or, if you’re a marketer who works on the corporate side, it may be another department or a member of the executive team).

The second, and one that is often overlooked, is your internal team—the people that actually did the work. It’s just as important for them to regularly hear results (even throughout the campaign) so they know what works and what doesn’t for future projects, or so they can course correct in real-time if performance isn’t meeting expectations.

When Delivering Results, Speak Their Language

Below are some of my tips to make sure both audiences actually understand the results you prepare for them:

1. Include a Summary: And make sure to use common language when you do it. Remember that not everyone is a marketing geek like the rest of us, so dumb down the language and minimize the jargon. Raw stats are great and should be included, but don’t forget to provide a high-level summary for easy, at-a-glance consumption.

2. Focus on the Right Metrics: Does bounce rate matter? What about click-to-open-rate (CTOR)? Does your client care about impressions? All metrics are important in one way or another, but decide early on in the process which metrics tie directly back to the stated goals and only report on those. The rest will only confuse and distract from the point.

3. Define Your Metrics: Not only do you need to worry about which metrics to present, but you also need to make sure that your audience understands what they are. Consider utilizing a standard block of definitions for each of the words that you include in the summary. Make sure the definitions explain not only how the metrics work, but why they matter. Bonus points if you can alter each definition slightly to make it hyper-relevant to the goals of the project.

4. Make It Visual: Different people consume information differently. In addition to the summary and actual stats, consider how you can convert the data into easily digestible graphics. Maybe it’s as simple as creating a bar or line graph, but maybe some information could best be communicated as an infographic. In the case of the latter, you might involve your design team in creating a simple graphic to lend greater clarity to results. Could go a long way in helping all audiences understand.

5. Tie It to the Bottom Line: This can be difficult based on what financial information the client is willing to share, but the best performance reports include ROI and show how the marketing activity in question impacted the client’s bottom line. Understand your client’s overall business, not just their marketing. Your job doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

6. Share It Internally: All departments have skin in the game here. Employees often don’t understand marketing or how it impacts what they do. Make it matter by sharing performance.

7. Time Is of the Essence: In today’s world, waiting two months to report on metrics is pointless. Share performance during and immediately after the campaign. Better yet: if possible, give the client access to real-time metrics so they can monitor progress on their own time.

ROI is only good if everyone involved understands it—your team, your client(s), and the people your client reports to. All too often, you see marketers download a last-minute Excel spreadsheet or print out a screenshot from Google Analytics. But “lost in translation” is unacceptable when it comes to results. As marketers, the core of our work is about clarifying products and services through smart, focused, creative work; why wouldn’t we get just as creative to simplify and clarify those results so we can do even better work in the future?

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The Times, They Are A-Changin’

1 Dec

Keep Your Eyes on Generational Shifts in Key Decision Makers

Decision Makers

I was recently asked to offer some insights for “2016 Trends in B-to-B Marketing,” an article in Marketing Daily. As you might expect from the title, they wanted to know what trends marketers should be planning for in the coming year, and they asked several veteran B2B marketers for their insights.

I went ahead and took it as a compliment to be included in the group—being asked to participate in a trends article means I must be a trendy guy, right? But I also took some time to carefully consider my answer. After all, I’m constantly using Navigate-the-Channel to blog about the latest trends in B2B marketing—everything from sales enablement to content marketing to social listening. There’s no shortage of trends I could have chosen.

But the more I thought about it, one thing really stood out for me. The trend I’m constantly monitoring these days is the generational shift in the key decision/owner role within businesses—especially dealers and lumberyards. As many Baby Boomers worked longer than they had planned due to the recession, they are only just now leaving the workforce—but they are doing so in greater volume than ever before. The new leadership of 30-to-40 year olds is starting to impact their organizations’ view on technology and adoption of new business services. This single change will have major ripple effects that impact the building products industry for years to come.

It’s not just that marketing strategies that may have been previously disregarded will suddenly be back on the table; it’s that the people at the top of the food chain will be looking at new pages on the menu. Hell, they might throw out the menu entirely and ask for online delivery. B2B buying will change (e-commerce is going to be big, guys, I promise); human resources and hiring practices will change (meaning there will be new ways of thinking at all levels); and B2B marketing could very well become a lot less buttoned up and safe (think of how many trade show booths now offer beer compared to a decade ago).

But hey, that’s just my perspective. There are plenty of different ones for you to read from the other contributors, so give the full article a read.

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