Category Archives: Digital Marketing Strategy

Keeping Track with Tag Assistant

One of my favorite extensions for Google Chrome over the years has been Tag Assistant. Though it is labeled as a Developer Tool within the Chrome web store, it is easily usable by anyone.

When I first began putting Google Analytics tags, conversion tags, or re-marketing audience tags on websites, I had to scour the page’s source code to find the specific tag I had added. It became even more difficult when there were multiple tags on a page, especially if they were not placed simultaneously. The bonus to using Tag Assistant, made by Google, is that you don’t have to understand the tag’s code to know that it is working properly. The friendly little blue tag, with its smiling face, is all you need.

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Simply click the tag extension (circled above) in your chrome browser, and watch as it begins to load all the information needed to keep your tags up and running properly!

You will first be asked what types of tags you want Tag Assistant to check for you. With the “Check selected domains” drop down, you can have the Tag Assistant only check certain sites. This way there are no little warnings popping up when you’re on some external site that does not have your tags within. These domains can be added by clicking on the “More options” button.

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When on a page that has one of your tags, click on the Tag Assistant to get a quick update on how the tag is working. At first you will be prompted to always check the domain that you are on, or to check a single page instantly. Once you have decided how to check the page, Tag Assistant will show you how many tags are present on the current page, and how these tags are working.

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The Tag assistant will immediately begin showing you all of the tags that are present on that page. The above example is taken from the AdWords welcome page. As this is a page owned by Google, there are no issues with how the tags are working. The classifications for tag statuses are as follows:

  • Green indicates that the tag is working properly.
  • Blue shows that there is a minor suggestion to make to your script which will improve the use of the tag.
  • Yellow indicates that there is a minor error, and the tag may not be tracking properly.
  • Red means that there is a major error, and the tag is not working for a majority of users.

Tag assistant will show you the changes that it suggests for your page, or tag implementation when you click on the blue Suggestions notice for that page. A new section will appear in the Tag Assistant to show general tag information along with any suggestions.

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Tag Assistant provides you with the specifics of any changes that should be made to the page, or any notices that the user should be made aware of.  From this point, you can either navigate to the source code for this tag, and make adjustments, or send this information to a developer for implementation. Fortunately, the Tag Assistant answers page includes descriptions of what the various responses or notices mean.

It can be difficult to update and maintain all of your marketing tags, if they are not easily view-able. With Tag Assistant by Google, you can expedite the process of adjusting and optimizing your Google tags.

Why Are YouTube Ads Getting Longer?

I’ve noticed something on YouTube lately. The paid ads are getting longer. Have you noticed? For instance, there is one 7 minute commercial from Johnnie Walker with Jude Law. On other channels, there are full 20+ minute episodes of a YouTuber trying to get people to notice and subscribe to a channel.

Johnnie Walker Blue Label YouTube Ad

What should a consumer make of these ads? Should they be taken as just some free content or are they commercial-based entertainment? Obviously the advertiser has a goal. Should we be buy these products? Should we watch the whole video? Should we subscribe to their channel? Are we supposed to click on the video?

Truth be told, I constantly find myself watching an increasing number of ads in the 5+ minute realm. Something about not having too much information crammed in over the course of just 30 seconds. I enjoy a good story. I enjoy being given the opportunity to invest my time in something that could be worthwhile (clarification: Johnnie Walker ads are not necessarily classified as worthwhile).

In one instance, I started getting full episodes from a channel that I keep up-to-date with. I have never subscribed to this channel, but had been checking it multiple times a week to watch new videos. Then suddenly I hear: “Hi! This is … Welcome to my Channel!” starting off the ad between two videos from the playlist I was in. At first I was confused: Did I accidently click on this video? Why am I watching this? What just happened?

Then I realized it was an ad. I skipped it after the allotted five seconds of watch-time and continued on where I was. Is this a sign that I should just subscribe to this channel?

The main thing that caught my attention about these new long-tail ads is that they can be quite captivating. And interesting. And motivating. To me, they are better than 30, 60 or 90 second ads.

I realize that a subconscious process begins in my brain when these ads begin. I feel like the maker of these videos actually took a substantial amount of time and resources to create this – and isn’t just trying to B.S. me into buying something. It’s almost as though the consumer/subscriber in me appreciates the attempt at convincing me to act.

If your customers are anything like me, putting out some of these longer, fun and more appealing ads through YouTube might not be a bad plan. Worth a shot, right?

Just remember YouTube, and subsequently Google, are fickle beasts.

What are your thoughts? Would you try longer ads for your brand on YouTube?

Don’t Be Content With Your Traditional Content

So what is content, anyway?

And I’m not talking about the state of peaceful happiness and satisfaction. Though, I suppose good content should support that.

Content has been the buzzword of the marketing world lately, as the businesses and brands work to better engage with their audience.

Recently I spent the better part of a week with about 2,600 marketers from around the country who are all working to get better at content marketing. Content Marketing World, a conference developed by the Content Marketing Institute, is the largest event of its kind and seeks to educate marketers and continue to advance the industry.

I could have asked each person at the conference to define content and received a different answer. In my eyes, therein lies the key to developing great content.

It comes in many different forms and is consumed in many different forms. And there isn’t one right answer in how to do it well.

Among several quotes that stuck with me from CMWorld came from Scott Stratten, the president of UnMarketing, in his keynote talk: “Sometimes content is just giving a damn.”

Well, duh, right?

As easy as it sounds, it’s really a fundamental switch from brands just talking at their audience. Or toward their audience. Or kindof near their audience. Or, let’s face it, throwing something out there and hoping it sticks with their audience.

Stratten’s keynote drove home the message that good content needs to be a dialogue between a brand and a consumer. It needs to connect with your audience on a personal level and start a meaningful dialogue that isn’t necessarily about selling your product. It comes down to understanding your customer’s needs – and remembering that your product isn’t the solution – what your product does is the solution.

Gone are the days of traditional marketing, where strategies focused on print or broadcast media. Effective marketing now needs to occur across multiple platforms, be customized to your audience and delivered fast. And, above all, it needs to be accurate.

Audiences are looking for a relevant conversation (umm, content!) about your product that means something to them. Great content can allow you to connect with your audience in a way that is practical and engaging without needing to sell them. “Every occasion isn’t a selling occasion,” Stratten said.

With my journalism background, his message particularly resonated with me because it isn’t far from that world. Marketing shouldn’t be about spin and PR. Much like journalists report the most important elements of a news story, as marketers we should report the most important elements of our brand and get that information out in a manner that is timely, effective, honest and real.

It’s as easy (and as difficult) as that.

3 SEO Benefits of Responsive Design

With more and more users accessing the internet on their smartphones and tablets, it has become increasingly important to create websites that work across a variety of devices. Because of its flexible and adaptive qualities, responsive design has quickly become the industry standard for website development.

Responsive design is not only a tool for device adaptability though; there are significant SEO benefits that result from a switch to responsive design. Here are three of the big ones:

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Google likes responsive sites
Google typically favors mobile-optimized sites, especially when those mobile users are searching for local goods and services. Because Google is the world’s largest search engine, and other search engines typically follow Google’s lead, it is a good idea to pay attention to what Google likes.

One website with one URL
From an SEO perspective, responsive sites consistently outperform separate desktop and mobile sites. With a single URL, responsive sites help reduce content duplication issues and improve SEO performance.

Reduces bounce rates
A mobile website can suffer from high bounce rates if users are unable to easily read and interact with the content. Users often get frustrated when sites are not mobile-optimized, so they leave. Responsive designs allow users to enjoy their online experience on any device, which helps reduce bounce rates.

If you would like more information about responsive design, contact the development experts at TKG . And make sure you sign up for our Breakfast Bootcamp on Oct. 16, where we’ll discuss even more SEO benefits of responsive design.

5 Ways to Generate Content Easily

Sometimes even the most experienced writers hit content roadblocks. Authoring new and original content is hard work, and after a while, the inspiration stops coming. So when your well of words dries up, and you’re desperate for new content, try out a few of these painless content generation ideas:

Get your audience to create content for you
Ask your audience to take selfies with your product or tell a story about your brand’s impact on their lives. When they share these moments on social media, it will reach your network and theirs.

Recycle old content into something new
Take an old post and rework it into something that’s relevant today. When you add #TBT to an engaging post from back in the day – voila! – You have a brand new piece of content.

Develop case studies
When you can’t think of anything new to say, go to your customers. Ask them about past experiences, and retell their stories online. Case studies help you build transparency, and are relatively painless to create.

Curate content from other trusted sources
Go to trusted news outlets or trade publications for relevant content that makes sense for your target audience. Curating content from respected sources helps build credibility, and all you have to do is post a link and your take on it.

Respond to your audience
Whether it’s on social media, in comment sections, in blog posts or through contact forms, customers are always reaching out. It takes very little effort to respond to these comments, and personal responses could help you build lasting relationships with your audience.

Trust us, these content generation techniques are painless, and they will offer a lot more value to your customers than a silly meme or cat picture. (But, we like those too. Sometimes.)

Don’t Delete Old News Articles From Your Website

SEO TipWe sometimes get questions from clients who are considering removing old news articles from their websites.

The quick answer: Don’t do it.

Why would someone want to delete an old news article? Here are some situations we’ve heard:

  • It announces an event that has already taken place
  • It mentions a person that no longer works for the company
  • It features a product or service that is no longer available or has changed
  • It features external links that contain broken links
  • It is old and therefore no one cares about it

Here’s why we do not recommend deleting older news content:

Part of the Company History

This is our response to the first three bullets. Just because the tradeshow is over doesn’t mean the article about the show needs to go away. As long as the date of the event is prominently represented in the article, there is no harm keeping the article on your website. If your news archives contain quite a few pages about tradeshows you’ve attended over the years, potential clients/customers will see you attended major industry tradeshows in the past which can help position your company as a major player in the industry.

Regarding articles featuring employees that no longer work for the company; embrace the fact that they were part of the company at the time when the article was originally written. More than likely, they helped your business and may have even interacted with your customers. If they won an award while they were working with your company, it’s okay to leave that accolade on your website. If they were part of a group of employees that volunteered in the community, the overall spirit of the article is still intact whether or not the individual is currently with the company. The exception here, of course, is if the individual left on terrible terms and could be a threat to the business. If you have legal concerns, we always recommend deferring to your legal department for guidance.

Regarding articles containing product announcements or service offerings that are no longer new or available; this is another good piece of your company’s history that should be represented online. Rather than removing the article completely, why not keep the article and add a brief note in the introduction stating that the product is no longer available and has been replaced with a new model? A link could be added to direct users to the current product which ultimately helps satisfy their need.

In research reports we have completed for clients, we’ve seen examples of users searching Google, and even a website’s own internal site search, for older product names that are no longer offered by the company. If search activity is taking place for a branded term that your company developed, your website should be the one ranking first in search engines for related searches. If it’s not your site in the search results, you’re opening the door for your competitors and others sites to occupy these valuable results.

Content Is Important for SEO

As we’ve mentioned time and time again on TKGenius, content is vital to the success of a website. Not just a few good quality landing pages, but lots of pages about a variety of topics relevant to your business. Websites with lots of valuable pages are typically viewed more favorably in search results than similar websites with fewer pages. One of the most logical locations on a website to build up content is the news section.

Let’s look at some basic numbers to further illustrate this point.

If your website contains 500 unique URLs and 200 of them are news articles, making the decision to remove the oldest 100 articles would make your website 20% smaller in terms of total pages. This would effectively reduce your website’s ability to bring organic visits by 20%. Now, we know that not all articles are going to bring in substantial traffic to a website, but a quick look at Google Analytics landing page traffic often shows a surprising number of organic visits landing on particular news articles. A really strong article written several years ago could be responsible for bringing a large amount of traffic year after year.

Content is Hard to Produce

We understand that developing a content calendar and continually writing good content is a lot of work. The best content is unique and often taking lots of planning, research, revisions and approvals to make it onto a website. Deleting an older news article cancels out all that work with the simple click of a button.

This rule expands beyond news article as well. Think long and hard about all the work you put into creating a page on your website before making the decision to delete it. Search engine algorithms are complex and if one of your news articles is relevant enough to rank on the first page of a search engine results page, it would be a shame if one day that page disappeared.

Delivering the Right Message to the Right Person: The Importance of Data Driven Marketing

The concept of data driven marketing is simple – know your customer – and not just the basic demographics either. Knowing and understanding the types of messages that your customers want to receive will greatly enhance your customers’ experience. And research proves that customers will spend more based on a great user experience. Let’s look at two recent examples from my inbox.

Exhibit A – Don’t Advertise Dog Food in Cat Fancy

A few years ago at a carnival, my son won a fish. This was a big deal because it was the closest thing to a pet my son would ever know (as long as he was living under MY roof). So off we went to one of the larger chain pet stores in our area for fish supplies. After spending the better part of a car payment, we were all set. I even joined a rewards program to help us save on things like fish food and tank filters in the future…or so I thought. About a week later I received an email boasting huge savings on dog food. The following week it was cat food, then bird seed, then ferret foot; you get the gist. I attempted to update my email preferences but my only option was to receive weekly, bi-weekly or monthly emails. Because I didn’t want to miss out on a potential gold mine of savings on fish filters, I agreed to keep the emails coming. In the years since, the fish has died, new fish were purchased and new fish have died. Apathetically, I haven’t adjusted my email preferences, mostly because it is easier to delete the email simply based on the sender.

If I had the chance to opt-into emails about fish supplies, I’d be a happy shopper, but as it stands, I am a data marketer’s worst nightmare…or am I?

Exhibit B – Did the Foundmodclothers of ModCloth Just Send ME an Email?

I’m a BIG fan of ModCloth. I love their clothes, I love their culture, and I even love their behavioral retargeting (you know, that ad for a cute dress that follows you around to other sites you tend to visit). ModCloth does such a great job following me around that sometimes I don’t open their emails when they arrive. So when I received a message directly from the co-founders of ModCloth expressing concern for my lack of response to their emails, I was surprised (although as a marketer, I was happy). Has it really been three months since I opened an email, certainly not, but maybe? Initially I selected the “Don’t change a thing” option regarding my preferences, but the curious marketer, who recently sat in on a presentation about data driven marketing, wanted to see the options.

Fortunately for me, my preferences were set just as I wanted them. But I appreciated the options. Frankly, I appreciated the email asking me if I still wanted to receive emails.

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The Importance of Data Driven Marketing

Knowing and understanding the messages your customers want to receive is paramount. Engaged customers are repeat customers.

  • Don’t trap your customers into receiving emails they don’t want.
  • Make updating preferences easy for your customers.
  • Skip the step that requires users to sign into an account with a username and password that was created three years ago.

Learn more about the five steps of data driven marketing or leave us a comment with your questions!

The Five Steps of Data Driven Marketing

data driven marketingYep – I’m eeking out as much as I can about my recent visit to the Interaction Marketing Summit hosted by The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron. We heard from experts in the field of content marketing, creative design, and data. The event was kicked off by marketing super-genius Lisa Arthur, CMO at Teradata one of the largest data warehousing & marketing firms in the country. Arthur not only kicked off the event with a keynote address that inspired attendees to “…lift up marketing to new heights,” she was also the recipient of the event’s Direct Marketer of the Year award. So, long story short, she knows her stuff.

Long ago I had a boss who used to tell us, “Don’t try to sell vinyl siding to a brick house.” The optimist in me says that many brick houses have a small amount of siding, but I knew what he was getting at. His words were spoken to a team dedicated to outbound call campaigns. Fortunately, 12 years later, the message still rings true. Whether you are making phone calls or designing marketing campaigns that cross over multiple mediums, knowing your audience is the key.

During Arthur’s presentation, she provided some insight from her recent book Big Data Marketing, and shared the importance of collecting and using customer data to provide a great customer experience.

The Five Steps of Data Driven Marketing

  1. Get Smart: Get Strategic: Plan your campaigns appropriately. Know your audience and make sure you aren’t wasting your marketing dollars targeting the wrong audience.
  2. Tear Down the Silos: The relationship between Marketing and IT is crucial. Your IT department can help you track and report on important customer data. Your marketing team should have a dedicated IT liaison who can help to communicate the information that is needed to
  3. Untangle the Data Hairball: This sounds gross but it really needs to be done. Only 18% of marketers believe that they have complete and useful data. Don’t be afraid to ask your customers to update their preferences or go a step further by having them request the specific types of messages they want to receive from you. Don’t try to sell vinyl siding to a brick house.
  4. Make Metrics Your Mantra: Find a good method for collecting and categorizing your customer data. Use your CRM system to its fullest potential – use your newly-broken-down silo approach and ask your IT contacts for customizations of your CRM so you are able to report on and use your customer data. Track your open and click through rates. Take advantage of Google Analytics by adding UTM tracking codes to your campaigns.
  5. Process is the New Black: Make a list, check it twice and all that jazz. Create a process for each of your campaigns and stick to them. If you want to be able to respond to your customers in real-time, process is the way to succeed.

Do you have any other advice for data driven marketing? Share it in the comments!

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Improve Your Conversion Rate: Keep Your Eye on the Funnel

conversion rateOnce you have established consistent traffic to your ecommerce store, the conversion rate should become a statistic that you invest to improve.  According to the Monetate Quarterly Ecommerce Report Q1 2014, the average conversion rate for US ecommerce stores is 3.05%, meaning that only 3% of all shoppers that visit an average store will end up making a purchase. I’ve worked with businesses whose stores brought in a large amount of revenue with a 1% conversion rate. What would it look like for these businesses to bring that conversion up to the average 3.05%?  It would immediately TRIPLE their revenue!

So what’s the checkout funnel and what does it have to do with my conversion rate?  Fortunately, Kyle has laid it out for us in his post, Using Google Analytics to Understand Your Site’s Performance. This is the funnel that you should keep your eye on. Sure, a good metric of site performance is the increase of sales from month to month and year to year, but that won’t show you how to make more with what you have.  That’s the beauty of the checkout funnel.  By using and applying the funnel, you can actually generate more business with no increase to traffic.

The checkout funnel allows us to analyze the success of the checkout process and see where you lose shoppers. You can view your overall success rate from Shopping Cart to Order Receipt as well as the success rate between each individual step. With this information, you can quickly see where you’re losing people.  For example, if your average success rate from step-to-step is 85%, but the Delivery step to Payment step is 55%, there’s something significantly wrong with the Delivery step.

Once you have problem steps identified, you can begin to dig into the usability of that page to find loopholes.  Have a friend or family member that’s inexperienced with the site walk through the steps with you and explain what they’re thinking or feeling while going through the process  (You could also get advice from an expert ;) ).  You’ll probably learn things about your shopping experience that you’ve never considered.  Maybe the button isn’t located in a spot that’s easy to see.  Perhaps there’s a form value that everyone misses and the site isn’t doing a good job of telling them what’s missing.  Maybe the phone number field is cumbersome.  There are more business related things that could be contributing to the poor success of the step as well.  Maybe your shipping charges are higher than your competitors, or the payment information step doesn’t appear to be secure.

There are endless possibilities for what subtle things could be turning people away from purchasing, but using the checkout funnel correctly can be an invaluable tool to identify problem areas of your store.  Remember, by the time a customer enters the checkout flow, they WANT to buy the items in their carts.  We need to make that as painless as possible so they don’t change their minds.

What’s your conversion rate?

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Don’t Overlook Great Content in your Website Plans

content_highlighted credit HubSpotSo you are setting out to build your new website or really ramp up your web marketing efforts. What about the content?

At the end of the day, it’s not all about how great the site looks (though, of course, that is great) but it’s more about what the site says and how it says it that equates to online success.

Content writing is an art. Trust me, as I attempt to craft this blog post, I realize that it is a skill that I do not possess. However, we have that talent at TKG in spades – and they tell me it’s like a fine wine that takes practice to perfect.

Simply put, content writing sounds much easier to do than the execution of it can be.

Often, our clients aren’t able to create their own content in-house. Or they start off thinking they can, but end up with material that isn’t well-written or strategized – and that leads us back to pretty websites that don’t produce.

Even worse is what happens when desperate folks think they can grab content from another online source or supplier with the same info. But what happens is this creates duplicate content – a big no-no in the online marketing world.

Not only is it unethical, it often does not read well or suit your audience. And even worse, the Google gods will frown upon you and blow your site off the rankings radar for just about everything. No one wants that.

So what to do? Find a partner (like TKG) that has an awesome copy writing staff in house. Our staff will get to know you and your business and work toward how to best showcase you in the digital space. All while knowing the right way to say it.

You will always know your business the best. It is a pro copywriter’s job to interview and learn your business and the voice you wish to present to your customers online. They will take the pressure off you to create the all of the powerful content that your website and your online web marketing strategy cannot live without! And don’t forget the added benefit of knowing that the content created is original and optimized to specifically target your audience and online goals.

So my advice it to save those content writing skills for thank you notes or a letter to your mom (she’ll appreciate that!). Leave the copy writing to the pros. Your online presence will thank you for it!

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