SearchLeeds 2019 – Women in Digital Panel – Balance

This year at SearchLeeds, a Women in Digital panel was introduced to cover the topics of Balance, Confidence and the Industry. For the first panel discussion, Sarah Beaumont from Edit, hosted a talk on how to have a healthy work-life balance within the Digital industry, and she was joined by three inspirational speakers: Jill Quick, Catherine Shuttleworth & Arnout Hellemans. You can re-watch the panel here, and we have written up some of our notes for you as well.

Sarah outlined the importance of finding a positive/healthy work-life balance, and went on to say that all of us at some point will be affected by this in our careers. In the discussion, the panelists discuss the challenges, what hinders getting a balance and what we need to do as individuals and businesses to help improve this for everybody.

What does work-life balance mean to you?

Sarah started the panel discussion by asking each panelist to share personal insights about who they are, and the challenges they have when trying to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Jill shared her story on how to have a work life balance by describing life as being like a triangle, and how life is made up of 3 points. You have yourself (self-care/self-love), your family (partner and or children), and your work. Although the triangle has been described as the strongest structure to man, when it comes to having a work/life balance, something is always going to be slightly out of sync. Sara then went on to ask Jill what she thought were the biggest things that people don’t talk enough about when trying to find that equilibrium between work and life. Jill went on to say that, for her, it was failing to admit that sometimes her mental health wasn’t okay. But nowadays, Jill has created a safe space to open up to her husband, asked for external help and tried to manage anxiety through meditation.

For Arnout, creating a work-life balance is all about having fun and to do work that gives him energy. He went on to say that it’s important to be fully focused in both work and life, to be fully engaged with work and fully present in your personal life i.e put the phone down when you’re with the kids and being mindful. He also opened up about the importance of talking to our partners, his wife opened the discussion so that he could open up. This allows him to unload, and let go of a lot of stress by communicating and being open and honest. He advised to either open up with with your partner or friends, and that only when we share can we find solutions.

Our third panelist, Catherine, took this point of view as an employer. She talked about how there’s been a huge shift recently in what employers are demanding (and rightly so she adds), about processes within the workplace, and these demands aren’t just coming from people who have children. She enlightened the crowd by saying that employees are coming into the workforce at a great time for equality, flexible working and balance. She went on to say that during life, we will all encounter difficult stages in our work life and that there will be moments when we may feel a bit trapped, feel like we can’t get out of a job or move because our responsibilities are quite significant. She stressed the importance for employees to have an open dialogue with their employees, and that if they’re not willing to listen or make reasonable adjustments, then you should look elsewhere for work.

Catherine went on to share that “success is a personal thing, and only you can make a decision on what that is”. Sharing that her daughters look at her life and probably don’t want the life she has, but that’s okay. Catherine explained that we’re all different, and to think really carefully about what you want, and what success looks like to you, and how you want your life to be balanced. She also stated that “the most balanced employees you’ve got, are the best and are the most effective”, and to embrace this new-age work-life.

What tools or learnings have helped you with balance at work?

Jill believes that there are still some businesses out there that want to do the whole Digital Transformation piece and put all their focus on the customer and be amazing – which is great, but they don’t put the same effort, and consideration into the teams that are meant to be doing the work! From her own personal experience of being a mum, she believes there’s a huge chunk of talent that is abandoned in the workplace because businesses won’t be flexible with shifting work hours, hindering professionals whom may have gone for maternity leave and struggle to find a job to work around daycare and their schedule. Jill went on to say that companies need to show more empathy and take a more humanist approach to work, so that each and every one of us can thrive.

Catherine mentioned that life isn’t like a fairytale, but a number of incidences that we work through with others. She went on to share a personal story and gave some examples of how a ‘typical day’ looks in her household. Despite her success, she wanted to be raw, open, and to share what really happens behind the scenes to help others realise that life really is a juggling act. Catherine is extremely flexible with her employees (think 10am starts and yoga in the office), and spreads the message that “it’s okay not to be okay”.

Sarah asked the panel to share their top tips for a work-life balance. Arnout believes that it’s important to make decisions, and stick to them. He discusses the need to be open and honest with how we’re feeling and not to presume that everyone is always okay. Sometimes just by asking people if they’re okay, even if they’re not ready to talk about it, it lets them know that you’ve created a safe space for them to open up, which is the biggest key.

Jill shared top three tips for a healthy work life balance that have helped both her, and the clients she consults with:

  1. Jill shared the importance of having a community and suggested an email community for a women only network called ADA
  2. Have a look at what other role models are doing in the workplace. There’s a company called Push, Mind and Body who help companies create healthier working environments whilst also helping businesses to support mental health and create a positive and productive work culture
  3. To have confidence in yourself, and with others within your work environment (being able to have the ability to talk to your teammates and/or boss about conversations that can sometimes be quite difficult).

Sarah summarised the discussion by saying to “find your reality, find what’s true for you, find what your values and drivers are and stick to those things” for a work-life balance.

User Experience

SearchLeeds 2019 UX and Marketing, a Tinder Match Made in Heaven

For another year running, Jill went “up north” back to her Northern roots and joined another amazing lineup of digital industry specialists for THE biggest search marketing event in the North of England, SearchLeeds.

Her talk “UX and Marketing: A Match Made in Tinder Heaven” was all on, why Marketing and UX merge a lot more than you think.

In today’s business world, you will find no marketing channel that stands alone, they all merge and bend into each other somehow. Especially when it comes to UX and Marketing. Whilst marketing aims to create value for a business and drive profitable customer interactions, UX aims to improve the quality of a user’s experience with your brands offering.

Below you will find some notes from the video transcript. If you want the super  The Consumer Cross Stich template she mentioned you got it!

Thanks for having The Coloring in Department again SearchLeeds!

We’re going to have a little bit of fun with the love match and the fanciness between these two disciplines. You’ll know who a UXer is because they’re really kind and they’re really sensitive and when they ask you a question they’re going to say why five times every single time they ask you a question. And they really want to get to know you and get to know what’s going on inside of your mind. And then you have your marketeer. A little bit loud, always needs money. Probably recording your conversations, listening to your conversations, hash tagging your conversations. We’re slightly needy as well. But actually these two randomly seeming people have a lot of verve that they can have together.

This talk walked through five love matches. Starting with the 1st Love Match, Personas and Customer Empathy map. Now, personas are something that we all as marketers have got, we all have a persona shoved up our sleeve, haven’t we? Possibly a tad controversial, but we think they’re a bit useless if we’re honest.

One thing that we’ve found with personas is they’re a little bit flat. They’re a little bit one dimensional and they don’t really help us with our marketing. With a persona, you’ve got something that goes a bit like this….

Here is John, he’s 42. He’s got a dog. He likes to read the Telegraph on a Sunday.etc etc

How are we supposed to write creative content and find marketing that’s going to really connect with them when it’s such a flat surface to begin with?

Now match this with an empathy map. This is a user experience tool, and the idea is that you’re trying to get in a little bit deeper into the mindset of your ideal customer. There’s quite a few sections to it, but here’s a quick summary.

The think and feel, this is all that washing machine stuff that you have in your head, all your fears and your thoughts and your dreams, all the stuff that you’re going to be talking about, but it’s all trapped inside of your head.

You’ve then got the see stage. This is your environment, your commute to work. What does it look like? Who am I seeing? Who am I talking to? When it comes to thehearing stage, who’s influencing me? Where’s my advice? Who do I go to? Who am I following on Instagram? And with one tweet I will dump your brand within a heartbeat.

And then we’ve got the say and do, and these are my actions, my final actions and do my thoughts and feelings live up to what I actually say I’m going to do? And one of the things with a customer empathy map is that we really need to start thinking about the language that your customers are using.

So, the first love match is to take your personas and go to another level. Start digging into them, like really get to know them. Ask them why five times before you find out what you want them to do.

The second love match in this talk focused on your now, deeper persona, and the customer journey.

You’ve got a typical customer journey. We’ve got the unaware stage. As an example, “I didn’t know that I wanted some sparkly trainers until I saw somebody on the tube with said sparkly trainers”. You’ve then got pain and problem aware. So this is where you’ve got a problem and an issue and you’re trying to find a solution. So it could be what user experience is your problem. You don’t know what it is. You’re going to go away and Google it. You then move on to your solution stage of awareness. So depending on your problem, what are the solutions available? You can watch a YouTube video, get a book, go on a course. Out of that bundle of solutions, there will be brands and products and services that will match them. So you move on to product aware and might decide you’re going to get a book. You are now most aware.

Now, what we find interesting is when you look at your customer journey and then you start thinking about how keywords actually work, the things that we’re actually typing into the search engines. At the beginning of the stages of awareness, they’re typically non brand focused, aren’t they? They’re questions, what is user experience like? You don’t know what you don’t know yet. And then as you move through there are different phases that you want to be optimizing for.

Which leads us to a model called the consumer cross-stitch. What we found out early on in my career, is if you map the stages of awareness and then have a look at the customer empathy map and then the keyword modifiers, they all fit in really, really nicely. So it means that you’re building your website and your information architecture and your content in a way that fits every single stage of the journey, but you’re really doing it for the cause of the customer.

So we’ll walk you through an example. Stage of awareness, pain and problem aware. “I need a hotel, I’m going to Tokyo”. I don’t know what I want yet. When you’re thinking about the customer empathy bit, this is the thinking and feeling. So all of these are kind of questions and I’m going to be typing them into Google and the search results as a result of that are probably going to be featured snippets, probably going to be questions, and obviously you want to optimize your URLs to make that.

When we move on to the next stage of awareness. we’re like, “oh I could either get an Airbnb, I can get a hotel”. We are playing around with the different things that we could be looking for and because it’s the see stage, this is because we am focusing on looking at campaigns and messaging from brands. It is worth remember at this stage as well,  how is your competition being presented to your customer.  When you start thinking about going on holiday, you’ll start listening to more people talking about holidays, and you’ll notice other brands as a result of it. Question for you, where are you in that positioning side of things? And then search results. In this case it’s probably going to be local packs. It’s probably going to be a lot of reviews.

When we move on to our product stage. We am now starting to think about actual branded keywords. So we’m going to be putting in the Hyatt. We’re going to be putting in the Imperial Hotel. I am seeing what people are saying about you. I’m listening to influencers, I’m reading travel blogs. We’re really getting into it. We’re buying a guide and again, what are the search results? What’s the content format that you want to have to make sure that you are found.

And then when we’re most aware, when we’re ready to hand over our cash, this is us saying “hello, I’m going to go to Tokyo and I’m going to book on this day and this is what I’m going to do and I’m going to tell all my friends. I’m going to post it on Instagram and you’ll all going to hate me”. But that’s essentially marrying that whole customer empathy and the customer journey to make your information architecture and your content just a little bit nicer.

The third love match in the talk. This is about user flows and what we call campaign plumbing!

Now when it comes to user flows,we want you to start thinking about them, not just for a new website or an app that you’re building, but for all of your marketing and how that flow is going to work for the customer.

User flows are essentially made up of lots of different symbols. You’ve got a start point, you’ve got a decision symbol.

Here’s one we made earlier for a company and this was for a triggered email system. One thing that we wanted to make sure with this particular project is we were sick and tired of our customers complaining. I’m sure some of you have done this. We’ll click on an email link and we’ll go to a page that doesn’t exist anymore. It is annoying.

What we did here, is we mapped out for this client for a set of free resources. If people arrived on the page and where thinking about giving us their email address for content, what would happen? What options do they have on the page. Do I click on the link? Yes or no. If I do click on the link, what do I get? And then do I download the pdf? Yes or no?  We hadMailChimp and Salesforce and we wanted to make sure if anybody unsubscribed from one set of marketing, we had to make sure it happened at this end as well. This user flow helped identify what we needed to do to make sure we were compliant.

Anything that was marked as blue were landing pages that we didn’t have yet. So we were able to show this to the board and say, you want this triggered email sequence, then we’re going to need a Purchase Order for this many pages to be created.

When we had an idea of what that page was going to look like, we could think about our SEO. What the URL would be, what’s the content format, and because we didn’t want to miss an opportunity, we started to tag the website with Event Tracking and Google Analytics. So when people did something, but we didn’t quite finish what we wanted them to do, we built a re-targeting list for them with a message specifically to what they were doing. This was maximizing every opportunity of that customer journey, but it also meant that nobody got freaked out, nobody was in an infinite loop. To do this, you don’t need anything more than a piece of paper and some post it notes and you’ll start to see mistakes in your website, or email campaigns, and you can go and fix them. Which is a good thing, and you’ll also find opportunities for you to make more money. Always a good thing.  And that’s our job at the end of the day, isn’t it? Make more cash.

Next love match is our UX Design 101 and copywriting. We all know how a typical web page should be built right? This is how we’ve all learned to read, isn’t it? You’ve got to start thinking about how you layout your content. Start thinking about fonts, something like fonts can make a massive difference to your readers.

The next thing to remember with our copywriting is that if you need to understand and use more user centric copy. Lucky for us all, we leave a digital footprint of sorts with everything that we do.

When I’m writing content, when I’m thinking about my websites, when I’m thinking about doing anything fancy, I do a bit of review mining. There is free information on everything!

Start by putting my product name into things like Amazon. We did this for a charity that was renting out wheelchairs. Go to Amazon then and go through the 343 customer reviews where people have got common themes of pain points and issues and things that they really wish was in that product that you could build in your product and just beat your competition. Yay!

These questions, this user-centric copy, can all be used to build blog posts and start to pick out different themes and there’s information now with tools like Answer The Public, Moz, SemRush.

When you have an idea about your themes, map it into Google trends to see when people are searching for these answers, and you have an editorial calendar that matches your users timing.

The next thing with this is to think about, less about the FAB model. If anybody’s like a classic marketeer – features, advantages, benefits. Customers don’t really like to read features, advantages, benefits, but PAS – problem, agitate, solution works really well, especially if you’ve done review mining and you’re thinking about your customer. Think about how you can structure your content and think about using this as a framework when you’re writing your copy.

Last love match for this talk, wireframes and reporting.  You can use a lot of time doing your dashboards, can’t you?  Start to think about the people that you are reporting too with reporting personas.  Who is getting the report?  What do they are about? Everybody that you’re reporting to has a different need. They have different information points that you should be giving them.

Just like you can wireframe a webpage or an email campaign, I will sit down and think about my reporting persona and I’ll be thinking, what’s the point in this report? For example, Here is the CEO and they want to know what we’re doing with our marketing budget. Ask yourself “How can I make it really easy, thinking about my user experience hat here, to design this report so that they can look at it and not ask me any questions?” That it’s really easy for them to digest that information, and then we start to wireframe it and only then will I go and build it.

We have a free resource on what to report on in Google Analytics that you can check out.


What is Programmatic Marketing?

Hack the Stack – Five Ways to Automate Like A Human from The Coloring In Department

Hack the Stack – Five Ways to Automate Like A Human

I recently had the privilege of taking to the stage at the inimitable Turing Fest to talk about this very subject, and, given the number as well as epic nature of the questions, I thought I’d write the talk up. Save the tennis elbow on the notes front.

To cut a long story short, everyone has a different perception of paid media, and even more so of its bigger, scarier, better sibling, programmatic marketing. We are all guilty of occasionally doing marketing 1.0 in a 3.0 world, a little bit like sticking a five-year-old in a Ferrari. Not that technology in this case should be ignored, like a Ferrari, it should be aspired to.

To drive this estimable vehicle however, we need to be smarter than we’ve been, because if we are not careful we’ll be using new technology in old ways. I hate the word integration, and just because the whole team is using the stack, doesn’t mean they are working together. Brand messaging is one size, repetitive and stuck at the top of the funnel.

Performance messaging is locked into an eternal spiral of “buy now” and “join us” garbage. Basically, everybody is not at their best.

The talk explored how the factors of programmable advertising (automation, data, integration & scale) come together, and hopefully don’t blow your brand and budget to pieces. Maybe then we’d even start to move past leveraging the buying technology and start serving the right messages, in the right way, to the right people.

To a degree though, as much as short talks allow, this is an oversimplification of sorts. If it were easy, we’d in fact be doing it. The fear factor of new, unknown, sometimes impenetrable tech options does, and should, bring pause. Equally, the speed at which is changes take place can be extremely daunting. The panic is inherently warranted but isn’t really that productive.

Productive is driving towards efficiency at speed. Leveraging automation in advertising, both buying and serving, using the audience data available to the best of your ability and measuring the living hell out of the lot. Admittedly, we say we are doing this already, but I have to just drop a little note here and say – we aren’t.

The truth is, if we are advertising centric, we can hit our short terms goals with relevant (hopefully) advertising. We rarely satisfy human needs, we “add value,” sure – but we also get in the way, a lot. On top of that, we have one team force feeding relatively irrelevant advertising to people, or worse, just doing “performance” and stalking people around the moment of purchase. Let’s stop before we drop. Stop and think. A few tips on the thinking front.


In advertising, as we know, the audience is god – and we are tired, and sometimes lazy. That means, we mostly want to identify who they are and what they want, as well as give it to them as quickly as possible. Now, we can do this, between our own data (1st party), media platforms, like Google (2nd & 3rd party), and good other fashioned third-party data providers, from Experian, for instance. Practically, that might look like a few things:

  • Remarketing – around some kind of behavior e.g. shopping cart abandonment
  • Affinity – around some kind of interest e.g. snowboarding
  • Environmental – around some kind of context e.g. a warm day

Don’t get me wrong, getting the right audience from the black box of the stack is hard work, but you’ll know you are nearly there when they start to nail the KPIs you’ve set for yourself.


Great, found them, got them – but what to say to them? We tend to, on the whole, communicate messages that we want to communicate, not those messages that the audience actually want to hear. We need to thing sequentially here, in our story at least – it helps to answer these questions in constructing linear messaging:

  • What will you say that grabs their attention in the first instance?
  • How can you inspire them to want to know more, or better, provide more?
  • What can you say to turn that intent into an action of some sort?
  • How can you create loyalty, and repeat purchase?
  • How can you turn them into advocates?

Lead them down the digital garden path, as it were.


If I’m honest, people get lost here, big time lost – as there are up to a thousand different major ad units at this point in time. The media agency knows some of them from planning, the creative agency only knows what they are told to work with, and the brand – knows very little of anything beyond the position. When’s the last time you sat down and looked at the new, cutting edge formats, I’m going with never.

There isn’t a right or wrong format for you though, there is for a campaign, a customer, and an outcome however. To be both genuinely impactful, as well as helpful, is the name of the game here – and answering these questions might help:

  •  Intent – does this creative match the user’s expectation
  • Digital First – would this be possible in TV or print world?
  • Brand Links – could I swap out your brand for a competitor, and no-one would notice
  • Useful– is this creative genuinely useful, interesting, or informative?

If it’s no to any of those, start again.


Listen, some of the greatest campaigns in the world managed to be all things to all people – but none of them lacked for measurement. You can just pay the money, spray ads everywhere, and pray to gods (old and new) that it all worked. You need to not just measure and track your work, but also validate the effectiveness of your media and creative, which the questions here might help you with.

The People Who Matter

To make all of the above work, we need to work together. Now it’s not my intent to harp on about collaboration here, but it is my intent to encourage you to think about the different skills that make programmatic pop – the business folks, the data nerds, and the creative people. Now, more often than not, these people speak totally different languages, totally. So, you need to hunt out those who can bridge the gap, the integrators, the godsends, the magicians. Magicians make the magic happen.

In the End

If we don’t genuinely appreciate that we have new capacities technologically, new ability and skills, as people – and a whole ton of news processes that we need to get working – we might as well fill a trash can with money, put it on the boardroom table – and light it on fire. We are trying to be environmentally friendly now, sustainable even – don’t burn your budget.

Think fast, think smart, think together – and everything is going to be ok.

I promise.


Why CMOs Need to Be Trained in Tech in Order to Lead

This guest blog post comes from Kayleigh Alexandra at MicroStartups, which is a resource for solopreneurs, startups, and small businesses.  Read on to find out why they believe CMOs need to be trained in tech in order to lead.

The Chief Marketing Officer (or CMO) of today’s world has a very challenging position. While there are more viable possibilities, tools and opportunities for marketing than ever before, this level of choice isn’t always straightforward. With each new option comes new demands, fresh industry terms, and distinct dangers -for instance, just as social media has the power to massively promote, it also has the power to rapidly destroy a brand’s reputation.

And while it’s certainly vital for a CMO to have impressive marketing savvy in the traditional sense (knowing the target audience, understanding how people think, and being able to balance a professional image with a certain degree of transparency and accessibility), it’s also important that they have a strong grasp of technological matters. Without it, they simply cannot productively lead marketing efforts that look to the future.

In this article, we’re going to go into some more detail about why every modern CMO needs a solid level of technical comprehension to lead the way for their company. Let’s get to it.

You can’t Optimize What You Don’t Understand

Since this is the biggest reason, it makes sense to start with it: as the CMO, your job is to bring together all the skills of the marketing team for all the facets of the marketing campaign – everything high-level should meet your approval before proceeding. And if you don’t know anything about tech, then you can’t usefully comment on tech-based marketing.

Given how much of today’s marketing is digital (online or offline), this is a huge problem. When someone on your team pitches a PPC campaign on a new social media network that’s gathering some buzz, you’re going to struggle to meaningfully assess the risk/reward ratio (you need to understand the basic digital marketing metrics). That will leave you far more likely to sign off on bad ideas and reject good ones.

Realistically, the best you can hope for in such a situation is that your staff are aware of your knowledge gaps and take steps to mitigate the damage they cause. This is likely to involve numerous simplifying presentations and a lot of coaching, particularly if you’re dealing with something complex like high-level funnel analysis (once a rarity, but now a core part of everyday business).

But if that’s the case, then not only will you essentially be delegating large chunks of your role, but you will also be requiring employees to spend time and resources helping you that they should be using elsewhere. When the CMO is effectively serving as the biggest client, the business isn’t long for this world.

Managerial Figures are Increasingly Exposed

Back in the pre-internet era, or even in the early days of online growth, there remained a significant disconnect between the public face of the company and the executive staff tier. Upper management could pull strings from behind the scenes and (for the most part) be ignored by the customers – but that’s much less likely today.

Why? Largely because the rise of social media has conditioned us to expect people to have personal brands. Any company that wants to appear relatable must make an effort to be active on social media, and not just through posting business rhetoric but also through demonstrating some element of personality.

Today, a CMO shying away from Twitter and Facebook might be perceived as cold and indifferent, so they need to get involved – and when they do, they’ll inevitably have their knowledge tested by the public. It’s fair to say that it looks bad for a company when one of its top executives seems behind the times.

In fact, even if you do manage to get away with avoiding social media, your online activity (and activity in general) is still readily exposed through basic investigation. You can admit some degree of ignorance in a private conversation only to later discover that it somehow leaked out. The higher your profile becomes, the more scrutiny you’ll be subjected to.

It’s Important to Lead by Example

I talked about a CMO being assisted by their staff, but that isn’t always possible. Particularly in an older company that’s still slowly undergoing modernization, it’s possible to have a major dearth of digital skills in the marketing team. Can those skills be picked up on the job? Absolutely, but they need to be properly valued and incentivized, and neither one of those things will happen if there isn’t a high-level executive ready to fight that battle.

This isn’t to say that you’re unlikely to see low-level employees aspiring to expand their skills and embrace new technologies, of course, because that’s not the case. Instead, the issue is that employees at that level are conditioned to take their cues from management, and if they’re not told that they should be developing their tech skills, they’re going to assume that the company as a whole has decided that they’re not sufficiently valuable to acquire.

Think about the extent to which a good CMO must challenge their team by assigning them new projects to work on and encouraging both personal and group improvement. To further collaboration, you’ll need to set team projects: working together, you could write a digital magazine, or program a chatbot script or you might build a joint venture as a way of learning about ecommerce, picking up coding skills and perhaps making some money along the way.

Accordingly, the fastest way to spread tech skills throughout a business is to have someone in a position of influence acting as a digital evangelist of sorts. Whenever someone new joins the company, perhaps as an apprentice with no tech skills whatever, it will be their influence that steers their learning. Have a tech-savvy CMO in place and you’ll find that their knowledge will slowly filter throughout the tiers below them.

The possibilities of MarTech are astounding, and it’s a field rife with industry terms that are absolutely worth learning — but if the CMO gives the impression that such things aren’t worth their time, it will set a very bad example for everyone else.

Classic offline marketing is never going to disappear entirely, but it’s ever becoming further enhanced with technology. Anyone with behind-the-times tech skills is only going to last so long in a position of influence before they take the company down with them.

MicroStartups is an all-in-one resource for solopreneurs, startups, and small businesses. We love telling the world about hard-working entrepreneurs. Head to our blog for marketing insights from leading experts or follow us on Twitter for more inspiring startup stories @getmicrostarted.

Google Analytics

SEMrush Google Analytics Bootcamp Series One

How much time do you invest in setting up a CRM, SEO or social Media Strategy? Loads right? So why wouldn’t you spend the same amount of time getting your house in order in Google Analytics? We all want to be data driven marketers, but you need to build a solid foundation first! Only then will you will find the road to success. We like to think or Google as a blueprint to a house, you still need to bring in a decorating team to make it look pretty and design it to the way you want it to be for your business. Check out our three part video series that we did for SEMrush below.
Session One: Delve into why the default settings in Google Analytics are never okay for your business. If you don’t learn how to configure your account properly then you are left with a, data rubbish in = data rubbish out kinda situation, leading to lost opportunities and poor business choices!
Series Two: So that you can keep doing super smashing marketing wizardry, we’ll teach you exactly how to track your campaigns and traffic so you know what’s working, what’s not and use this information to justify your budget and resources to the big old boss.
Series Three: Do you know what users are doing on your site? No? Well to find out what’s really going on, you’re going to want to get your teeth stuck into something called Event Tracking. In the last of this three part series we’ll show you how to find out what pages people are looking at on your website, setting up events and goals, and we’ll also share a case study of a company that had no event tracking, what they did with it and how it improved the bottom line.
If you want to check out our templates and explainers you can view our resources page here.
Google Analytics

SEMrush webinar: Mistakes That Can Trash Your Data

We did a webinar for SEMrush on Mistakes in Your Google Analytics Setup That Can Trash Your Data. If you missed it, do not worry, the webinar is ready and waiting for you to watch, and the nice folks at SEMrush did a write up of the transcripts they wrote out (which is super helpful). Slides can be found here, and of course, if you want any templates we reference, head your good self over here


Aiden: Welcome back and happy new year. Jill and I are back now for series two, with SEMrush of course, around all things analytics once again.

We’re going to be talking about how Google Analytics can turn into a little bit of what we would call a dumpster fire if you don’t set it up properly. We’re talking about the human mistakes that make this particular tool, from a technological perspective, not work all that well.

A massive hello to all of you. Now, Jill, you’ve seen, over the hundreds of audits that have kind of crossed our various different desks, mistakes ad infinitum at Google Analytics. I think we agreed that there was one account that we’ve seen that was nearly correct but wasn’t quite. As for the rest, not so much. Can you tell us a bit about that?

Jill: Yeah. With Google Analytics, because it’s a computer program, you can’t always assume that the people that created the account for you have done it correctly, or they understood your business well enough to track the things that matter.

When we’ve done audits, when we’ve trained people in Google Analytics, the same mistakes happen, and that’s the reason for this particular webinar.

Aiden: I’m going to ask the lovely Jill to kick off her extremely interesting talk about some of those mistakes and indeed what you can do about them. Jill, quick, take it away.

Jill: Thank you very much. Okay, let’s do the screen share.

How Mistakes in Google Analytics Setups Can Ruin Your Data

Right. Mistakes in your GA that can trash your data.

Now, why should you care about your GA setup? I’m going to tell you a bit of a story. Some of you may know this story already. The reason that we called our company The Coloring-In Department, is because people had used that almost as a slur, as a mean thing to say to me when I was in the office.

When the budget was getting cut, or things were being moved, my department, my budget was the first one to go, and I’d have people say to me, “Well, we know marketing does stuff, but we don’t always know what the impact is.”

That’s when Google Analytics can really help you, because you’re reporting to people, and you don’t want them shouting at you saying, “I gave you this money and what did I get from it?” You want to be able to turn around and give them a number and show them some data.

Going back to my favorite quote from our data scientist, “Without data, you are just another person with an opinion.” You want to make sure that you can validate what you’re doing. On that thought, you also need to make sure that the data that you are providing is correct, because otherwise you will lose your credibility and people will shout at you, and nobody wants that.

Crap in, crap out. One of the things with any program, including Google Analytics, is that it’s as good as the settings that you have. If you have a bad configuration, if you haven’t turned a certain toggle on, then the data that’s inside those reports, those reporting views that you’re using to give information to your boss, your board, your client, whatever. You’ve got to make sure that the data that you’re presenting is actually valid data.

This messy door, this crap that can be in the back of your admin settings, I’m talking about this, the account settings. You arrive here by looking at the little left-hand cog, which will show your analytics account setup.

Accounts, Properties, and Views in Google Analytics

One of the mistakes that we’re going to talk about, is actually getting your house in order to make sure that you have the right account, properties, and views. We did this in the first webinar in series one, where we talked about analytics being a little bit like a house. You have your account level, and I want you to think of this as the roof of your website, your little house that you have. You’ll get given a UA number, so hypothetically UA1234.

You then have a property, and I want you to think of these properties as a floor, an actual living floor that your visitors are going to come in and sit down on your sofa and do stuff, like buy stuff from you, send a lead form, whatever. You’ve got different reporting windows, which are your view settings. Then to make those windows work you use filters, which is like adding drapes and blinds.

If you have a basic website, so you’ve got like our website, If you just have a single website, you have essentially a bungalow. You’d have a roof setting, UA12345. You have a property, so it’ll be UA12345-1. You should have four windows, four reporting views.

Google recommends that you have a raw window, so if I have a look through this window I see absolutely everything. You have a test view, this is where you play around and check if something’s going to work or not. You check a filter. You check a goal. You check your settings and make sure that you don’t flatline your data. Then when you’re happy with it, you then create your reporting view, which is the one that you go in and use to validate your decisions and your strategies.

Now anything that we do to our settings if I start messing around with my roof if I whack a massive hole in it, it’s going to impact the floors beneath it. If I do something to a window, by adding a filter, it only changes the data to that particular window. You’ve got to make sure you go into all of your settings and audit them, and not assume that if you do something at one end of the house that something’s going to magically happen at the other.

Importance of Cross-domain Tracking

Now if you have a multiple brand scenario, so you have different websites that sit independently from each other. You have a website, maybe you have a separate business, maybe you have an app, but they all sit separate to each other, you’ve essentially got a flat or a multi-story building. They all sit under the same roof, so the company name I’m going to make up a company named

I’ve got several floors for different things that I’m selling because I’ve decided I don’t want to do gin anymore. I want to sell vodka, or I want to sell ice cream or whatever. If they sit separately to each other, they’re separate floors with their own little reporting views, and I can see what is going on for those particular properties.

Now the mistake that I see more commonly these days is something where you have multiple domains for a website, but they’ve built as if they were a flat. I see this a lot in eCommerce sites at the moment. Their domains will change, so you might have where you’re sending all of your beautiful visitors to go and have a look at your products and services.

They decide they want to buy it, so they click on a button and they go to The website still looks the same. The design still looks the same, but the URL has changed. Then when I’ve decided that I’m going to buy from the shop and I’m going to create an account, another domain pops up called account.coloringin, or whatever it is that you’ve got.

Now, the mistake that can really ruin your data is if you set up a multi-domain website where the ecosystem is actually within the same business, and you’ve set them up as separate floors, you are unable then to track the customer journey. Because when I log into my analytics, like a floor, an actual physical floor, I’m on floor four of our building, and Aiden’s on floor seven. I can’t see what’s going on on the floors above me. I can only see what’s going on on this particular floor that I’m on at the moment.

If you have a goal for somebody creating an account, or somebody buying something, if I’m in the reporting view for, but the goal happened on a different floor and you haven’t tied that all together with something called cross-domain tracking, then you are not able to build your goals. You’re not able to see the journey. You can’t see what marketing brought people into that particular sale, so everybody’s having a bit of a hard time.

The first thing that you need to think about when it comes to your analytics setup… double check that your roof and your floor and your windows are correct. Double check that if you do have an ecosystem where you’ve got several domains but they all really need to be packed into one, have you done cross-domain tracking so that you’re essentially treating all of these different domains as one.

Making Sure You Set Goals For Your GA Reporting Views

The next mistake that we see a lot, which seems really obvious but they’re interestingly absent in so, so many audits that I’ve done, is not having any goals on any of your reporting views. Sometimes when I’ve done an audit where there are several windows, there are goals on one, and not on the other. I’ve had so many people come back to me going, “Oh, I thought if I created it in this view they would be created magically in the other.” I’m like, no, it’s a computer program. You’re going to have to go in and build that goal another time. If you’ve got 17 views, then you build that goal 17 times.

For any business, you want to be tracking a significant profitable customer interaction. Now, that can be I signed up to your newsletter, I scrolled down to the bottom of the page, I submitted a contact form, I bought the damn product.

Whatever it is that you’re doing, you have 20 goals available to you per reporting view. 20. What we normally see are either one or two big goals, so these are your macro goals. Think of these as, if these don’t happen, then I’m out of a business. Then your micro goals are the smaller meaningful interactions as people edge ever so close to doing what you want them to do.

Imagine having 20 goals, and being able to understand the role of a particular marketing channel. You might see that Facebook is really good at getting people to watch a video, but they’re not going to convert. Like that was the early awareness stage of the journey, but email was really good at getting them to start a free trial.

By doing this you’re able to give the managed expectations of your marketing channels and how they’re actually performing and the role that they have. Not every single channel in every single campaign is going to be the person that scores the goal, but they have a role. If you have 20 goals, your micro and macro conversions, it gets a lot easier to actually present that information to people.

Verify Your Filters in Test View First

Now onto one of my favorite topics, filters. When we are talking about our reporting views, as I mentioned, we have our little windows where I can look in and see what all of my lovely users are doing and if they’re engaging with my content, if they are buying stuff. Filters have probably been one of the main culprits of the data just being god awful because they are quite powerful. If you haven’t done it in a test view, and you haven’t checked out that they were working, it is very easy to flatline your data.

I’m going to give you some examples of where this has happened. This is an example of a reporting view that was created. Now, this view was meant to only show people from the United States of America. Now, when I went into the reporting view, and I went into audience, I think we can all see quite quickly here, because of the gorgeous heat map, it’s not just showing people from the United States of America.  

This company was saying, “Right, we had 52,000 users in America this month.” That’s wrong because actually, only 48% of this data was from America, the rest came from different countries. When they said to me, “Jill, we have a problem with our data. There’s a data discrepancy. We don’t understand what’s gone wrong.” I was like, let’s have a look at those filters. Let’s see what’s happened.

Essentially they had the right idea but the wrong filter. Now if they did this in the test view, they would have gone, “Hang on a second there Bob. You can see that the traffic is clearly not just showing from a particular country. Let’s go back and see what we’ve done and make some changes.” They didn’t do that. They didn’t do any of the test views, which would have fixed this particular obvious problem.

Another tip here, you have to write the country exactly as it shows in the Google Admin settings. If they put in France with a capital F, then you have to put the filter pattern that exactly matches what is in the Google Analytics settings. Because this is a computer program, there is no empathy here. They won’t look at this and go, “Oh you put the USA there. Did you mean the United States?” No. It’s going to just flatline your data and say, “Computer says no.” You’ve got to have a look at your filters and double check that it’s giving you the information that you want.

That was a nice easy one to get us started. The next set of filter mistakes will show you how you can have real errors in your revenue or your page views, or just generally the data’s not making any sense.

Exclude Staging Environments From Filters

The first mistake that I see with filters is to not exclude your staging environments. This happens quite a lot actually. There was one audit I did for a global company last year, where they had 20 different staging domains, and they didn’t put a filter to say, “Exclude,”

You’ve got to remember when it comes to conversion rates that Google is calculating those conversion rates based on your sessions. If some of the sessions are your dev teams, or your agencies working on stuff, you’re diluting your conversion rate. You might be getting kicked for a conversion rate that looks really bad, and in truth, it’s actually not bad.

You can still, for the reverse, have a view that says, “Only include traffic from” You can see what’s going on, on that staging. That’s fine, but you do not want to include this in your reports, because it’s just going to give you those data discrepancies.

If you have got any staging environments, you want to go into your view settings for each view that you want to do this in. Do it in your test view first, check that it works. You want to go in and say, “Hey Google, please exclude the data from dev.whatever the website name is, or staging.websitename.” Do it in your test view, check that it works, and then roll it over into the reporting views. Then the data is going to be a little bit cleaner, and life will be a little bit better as a result.

Exclude Query Parameters from Filters

Another problem with filters can be down to your content report. When we are going into our behavior reports and we want to understand what people are doing, we can go into our all pages report. This was from a client that we did some work for, and they said, “Our content is amazing. We have 11,416 page views. Go, team.” We went, “That’s fabulous. That’s wonderful.” They didn’t set up their site search correctly, in terms of adding a filter to exclude the query path.

Now you may or may not know this, but Google will record the URL at the time of a user’s session. For this particular website, they had a lot of people using their site search, and I mean a lot. Every time somebody went onto the little search bar and said, “I am looking for insert keyword.” Whatever the keyword is for the content that they were looking, that URL, where it pulls in the query parameters included in that particular search string, gets recorded as a page in your analytics.

When we added a filter to exclude query parameters, those 11,000 and odd pages actually got stripped down to about 3000 pages. That was an uncomfortable conversation to have with them, to say, “Actually people aren’t reading your content. They’re not looking at your pages. You have a usability problem. People can’t find the information, and they are resulting in your search features to try and help them find that information.”

Why You Need Event Tracking

One of the other mistakes that we’ve seen in accounts is not using event tracking. Now event tracking, for me, once you’ve got your house set up and you’re tracking things correctly in your acquisition reports, is to actually understand what people are doing on your website.

Do you know what people are actually doing on your website? Who’s scrolling down the page? Who’s clicking on images? Who’s printing a page, or downloading a PDF, or playing a video, or clicking on an email address?

This does not come pre-baked into Google Analytics. The reason why it doesn’t come pre-baked in is because you’ve got like a million, million, million websites using analytics. Google doesn’t know what you want to track. They don’t know what you want to call it, so you have to do this. You have to set up events.

Now the mistake that I’m going to focus on here is just getting the brief wrong from the offset. You need to think about the things that you want to track, and you have to talk to the computer program the way that it wants to be talked to. They want to have category, actions, and labels. Think of your categories as big, broad buckets for you to organize the things that people could be doing on your website. The action describes the doing, what is it they actually did. The label is going to further describe that action.

You’ve got to go into your event tracking, which will be found in your behavior reports, and I want you to audit what you currently have. This is how not to do it. I did an audit for an eCommerce company, and they said, “We’ve got event tracking, Jill.” I was like, “Fabulous. Let’s have a look at what you’ve got.”

We had one bucket, one bucket, for eCommerce. I’m like, all right, let’s have a look what’s in here. Two actions associated with a category, non-interaction, and interaction. I was like, okay, I’m going to open door number two, to see what the interactions were labeled, and they were all labeled to not set. That doesn’t help anybody. You’ve basically just wasted a load of opportunity here.

When you go in and audit your analytics, which is the fix, you have to go through your pages, your home page, your money pages. Your money pages being the pages that you want people to actually do something. Fill out a form, buy the shoes, buy the bottle of gin, book the holiday, whatever.

You want to go through it and make sure that you have independent categories, and that the actions associated with those categories don’t overlap. This is one of the issues that I’ve seen with event tracking. I might have somebody have an action, so this is the doing, and they’ve called it click. That’s associated with one or more categories. When you look into the report, you’ve overinflated a potential action because you’ve named three different things the same thing, if that makes sense. It’s just really heartbreaking when that happens.

You want to make sure that you don’t duplicate any of the naming conventions for your categories, actions, and labels. Because when it comes to building segments, or it comes to digging into this data if I’ve got three different separate categories. Let’s say it was playing a video, or downloading a PDF, or clicking on an email address, and all the actions for those categories were labeled as a click. When I go into my analytics and say, “Hey, show me all the people that watched the video.” It’s going to count all the other things as well, and that’s going to give you a false number, which you don’t want to have.

Building Remarketing Lists from Segments

Now a tip here, because I’m aware that we’re speaking to people that are going to be using a tool like SEMrush for their ICO and their PPC. If you have event tracking on your Google Analytics account, which I strongly suggest you do, because you’re going to need them to build goals, you need them to build segments. I want you to start building remarketing lists based off of what people nearly did.

Imagine having events firing correctly where somebody goes on a webpage, scrolls down the page, downloads a PDF, plays a video, half filled out the form and added to the basket but didn’t buy. Build a segment, and if you’ve linked up your AdWords to your Google Analytics, and again we go through this in the first webinar that we did in the series, then you can click on that little button called actions and build an audience.

That’s going to build a remarketing list that will sit in your AdWords, which means you can remarket to the people that nearly bought. They would be my first go to people that I would do any remarketing on. Then you can drill down further as you so wish. There’s a nice little bonus point for you there.

As you can see with a lot of these mistakes in analytics, it’s just down to not fully understanding the implications of the features that you have. Namely, a bad account set up in the first instance. You don’t have the right reporting views. You have a flaw, or several flaws, for different sub-domains when you should have done the cross-domain tracking. You don’t test anything, so you don’t see any filters that are making mistakes. If you are doing filters, you want to make sure that you’re at the very least removing your staff. You want to remove any staging environments. If you’re going to be looking at particular markets, then you want to make sure that you have the correct filter to isolate and only see those particular users.

Usefulness of Custom Dimensions & Metrics

I now want to touch on a mistake which is just a mistake by not using them. Custom dimensions, and metrics, and data import. My main point here is that your business is very unique. The insights that you want are also very unique.

Now, creating a custom dimension in your property settings will take you minutes. It will take dev a lot longer to actually get this working for you. The thought process, of thinking about what else can help my data analysis?

Let’s go through these one by one. In Google Analytics there is no dimension for a refund. If you are selling stuff, you can go, right, this month I sold 20 pairs of shoes and I made 1000 pounds. If somebody then decides that they don’t want to keep the shoes anymore and they send them back to your company, Google Analytics doesn’t know that that happened.

For me, I want to understand, how much did I sell? Then what got refunded? Then hopefully tie this together so I can understand the marketing channels. The way that we’re going to stitch this together is with your eCommerce data and your product data. Provided you’ve set that up correctly, you can stitch that together by creating a custom dimension and a metric where you can punch in that refund data. You can either load this up manually through your property settings, or you can just pump it in through your API. When you’ve got this, it’s so, so cool.

When we are looking at things like content, so if you are writing a lot of content, then it would be useful to know if I’ve got a lot of people on staff writing, who gets the sale? Looking at things like the author, because that doesn’t exist as a dimension in analytics. I can tie that to the page URL, so say, “Hey Google, this is the URL, and this is the person that wrote it, and this is the category.”

For anything, if you can build segments, you want to build a segment. You might say, “Show me everybody where the monthly recurring revenue is like 200 pounds.” If your average order value is like 50, who are your best users? Show me all of my users that are the B2B, or the B2C if you’re a two-sided marketplace. You’re able to split out that data. You’re able to split out those different users.

Again, as I mentioned, if you can build a segment, you can build a remarketing list. You can say, “Hey, show me all the users that are the buyers.” They haven’t bought anything for a while, so let’s send them a message around the web, and follow them, and give them a little message to say, “Hey, remember us? Come back.”

Tackling Spam & Undesirable Traffic in GA

Aiden: Jill, there seems to be a lot of chatter around, well actually how do we exclude bots? Is this an issue? What about spam? What if we’re getting traffic from sources that perhaps are undesirable? Things that we might have disallowed, say for instance in search console, are still coming into our Google Analytics reports. How might we address these two relatively synergistic issues, in your opinion?

Jill: Yeah. That’s a very good question. Spam, we’ll tackle that one first. Fake websites sending you traffic, but they’re not actually real visitors. Those visitors are showing up for sessions, and with them showing up for sessions they’re screwing with your data. If you go into your acquisition reports, and you drill into the referrals, so websites sending you traffic. Then I add a secondary dimension to say source, so where does the link live? You can start to find particular users and visitors where the bounce rate is 100% and time on site is set to zero. You’ll see things like You start to pick out common culprits that are basically spamming your site.

If I find a couple of different domains that are rubbish, I will go through the process again, where I’ll go, “Right, let’s have a look at all of these different links.” I add a secondary dimension to show the hostname.

If you find that you’ve got several domains that are all spam, but there’s a mother ship where the host is, I will build a filter to say, “Exclude all traffic from the hostname, the mothership.”

Also, in your view settings, there is a little tick box that doesn’t get ticked by default, which is exclude all known bots and spiders. You want to make sure in your view settings that you tick that little bad boy to make sure that it excludes Google’s kind of nice list.

Aiden: A couple of other things came up. Cross-domain tracking is a bit of a repetitive one. That one came in on Twitter actually.

Cross-domain tracking, thinking about connecting up our various different mother ships, so to speak. Are there issues with that that we need to be aware of? Is the UA code involved in some way? What would you say in a nutshell in making sure cross-domain tracking is set up properly?

Jill: You need to understand which domains do you want to track as a whole ecosystem. We’ll take our example. We’ve got Coloring In Department, and then when you do our online courses it’ll be like teach.coloringin. We want to stitch those two websites together essentially, those two different domains. I want to see the full ecosystem.

Instead of having several floors, where I’ve got different properties with different property numbers, I’m going to say, “Hey Google, we’re going to treat each of these different floors as if it’s one really big floor.” I’m going to use the UA1234-1 on Coloring In Department and teach.coloringindepartment.

If you know that you’ve got an ecosystem that needs to be tracked, then cross-domain tracking is what you need to have set up.

Aiden: Thank you, Jill.  Thank you, everybody, for watching this wonderful webinar on all things GA and mistakes there. Hopefully, you are less terrified, or you feel a little bit more able to troubleshoot maybe some of your own account issues or challenges that you might have.

Social Media

How to create a social media strategy?

If you’re thinking about creating a social media strategy for your business you may be tempted by jumping in straight away, picking all the latest en vogue social media platforms – and you’re done. Before you jump in it’s always worth spending some time to think through your social media strategy.  With that in mind – we created The Talking Model© – which gives you a systematic approach to help you build out your social media strategy.


Define and build your segments and personas

We’re obviously giving a nod to Seth Godin’s reference to people being part of tribes of like minded people, all connected with shared goals and interests. The first step before you dive right into your strategy is to create your persona for your ideal customers.  Find the hooks, the pain points, the problems, that they’ll have and think about how your product or service is going to solve that problem for them. Basically, be empathic, do the human thing.


Understand their social activities and footprints 

Once you have identified your personas and segments you need to have a better understand of what they are actually doing online, if you’ve identified the main social media platforms that your target audiences are using, how are they using those platforms? Does your target audience just simply maintain a profile on network sites? Do they read a lot of content, maybe sometimes repost or share? Do they actively post reviews? Are they doing the content creation?  

Having an understanding of what your audience is doing on social media will help shape the content that you need to create and publish. For example; if your audience are mainly spectators, then running a lot of competitions where you’re asking people to load up images or interact may not be the right path. Be commonsensical, it’s surprisingly not that common.


Taking the time to understand the conversation landscape

When you know where your tribe hang out and you have a confident indication about which social media channels they are using, and how they are using them – you need to start listening! I do mean listening, I don’t mean reporting on all those retweets.

If you jump right in and start talking at people with no thought to what content will hook or engage them you are simply shouting at people who will ignore you and won’t be afraid to publicly tell you that you’ve missed the mark.

Equally, this is the time that you want to find groups and see what the hot topics are, do your homework and find out who the influencers are, who do you need to engage with, and don’t forget to listen to what your competition is saying on these channels. Nothing wrong with a bit of borrowed genius.

An overlooked and inordinately simple tip at this stage, is to use Google Trends to map out the hooks and pain points you identified in your personas and listening activity and plot out a calendar and/or topics for your social media conversations.

If you have social monitoring tools (free or paid) set that up now and monitor the conversations based on your target keywords, brand names, and the issues/ paid points your target audience are interested in, discussing and so on. Keep those ears to the ground.


Key performance indicators measuring your efforts

You need to measure your efforts. Social media can and should be measured and have key performance indicators which demonstrate social media impact on the business and its bottom line.  

Social media can have a bad reputation about being fluffy and not an overly magical value driver for a business- but it can, and should, be measured. In any event, you must demonstrate to your boss, or your investors, or whoever, that your marketing efforts on social media can, and will make a difference to the bottom line.

The only way you can do that is to measure it with the metrics available to you. Both the challenge and the opportunity here is that there are literally hundreds of metrics that you can measure. Start by focusing on the ones that matter for your business, how does social media impact the bottom line? Avoid blowing your trumpet too hard about how many thousands of followers you have on social media, instead tie this into the bigger picture in a meaningful way, how does social support your business objectives?

A very useful thing to do here, and one often neglected, is to get familiar with Google Analytics (GA) and the attribution models therein. The Acquisition report in GA works on the last click model, which means social media can sometimes look a little bit rubbish, as it isn’t necessarily getting its due credit. We have a handy guide on Tracking campaigns in Google Analytics and an explainer on how Attribution works, you should check them out in the resources section.


Identify resources technology and time to implement

Social media might look really easy to some but it is a large group of marketing channels in their own right, and you are going to need to invest in it, both time and budget. Social media platforms may be ‘free’ to set up, but many companies fail in their social media strategy by underestimating the resources needed overall.

Do you have a dedicated person who is going to monitor and reply to your tweets, who is going to write your blog posts? What’s the process if someone posts something bad? What would your social media policy be?  Do members of the team need additional training and development? Will you outsource some campaigns to agencies?


Discover and engage with influencers

Your social media efforts will be improved if you are partnering and working with influencers in your space. You should have an idea of who to work with and follow, or collaborate with from the listening part of this social media journey. 

Use comments and conversation to improve your reputation and brand image. Inspire posts, and create an opportunity to deliver your content and amplify this through influencers. If you have listened well, and invested time in this, it will come across as genuine and not shouting on your soapbox. I’m under no illusion that influencer marketing is considerably more nuanced than this, but you have to walk before you can run.


Set smart goals for your business

Why are you doing this? What, at the end of the day, is the whole point of this social media strategy? Is it for awareness, sales, loyalty, retention?

Google Analytics provides a number of reports to help you analyse how much your social media efforts are impacting your goals and bottom line. They are not necessarily off the shelf and ready to go however.

That said, if you want to get some idea of the impact of social media, there are some musings here.

Social Media

What is the impact of social media?

It’s been an ongoing battle for years now; that social media doesn’t demonstrate a return on investment. Ever more important that we reflect upon it as the year comes to a close; and strategies for a shiny new year come to the fore.

A friend and client recently asked me what she should ask her engagement team (read social media team) to report on as she couldn’t fathom why tracking a #hashtag was notable. Indeed, social media users are sharing more than ever – which is great news. But why is that meaningful for brands? What questions should we seek answers to?


Engagement orientated:

  • Is there a correlation between engagement and content type?
  • No. of tweets and similar
  • No. views and source
  • Are there certain photos or creative assets that do better than others?
  • No. of contributors
  • Timeline deliveries (number of impressions – and reach is the same thing – e.g number of impressions)
  • Hashtag usage – #socialmediaroi
  • Additional followers – across channel
  • How many times has someone marked a specific post as spam?
  • What types of engagements are the most popular (Hint: it’s probably going to be the lightest commitment – ex. a like or a RT)
  • What was going on in the user’s world at the time a post was made? I’d be wanting context here

Conversion orientated (I know right!):

  • If there was a call-to-action (CTA) on a post, did users respond in the desired manner? o Did they click the link to view my content?
  •  Answer the question?
  • Sign up for your newsletter?
  • Play the video?
  • Buy something?
  • If not, what did they do instead (if anything)?
  • How are social channels driving traffic to the brand’s website?
  • Where on the site did they land; are we tracking site entries and exits?
  • How about form completion?
  • Are we using conversion ads? What is the impact of them?
  • What amount of income generated is attributable to social media – even if non; exclusively?

Sentiment orientated:

  • What is the nature of the content-based comments posts receive?
  • What is the nature of the messages and feedback communities provide unrelated to content? Testimonials or praise? Complaints? Neutral items (like questions)? • What is the nature of the conversation about the brand (this requires social listening)? • Are there key phrases that we can pull out for consideration? Exposure (overlaps with engagement):
  • How many people saw my content compared to the number of people in my fan base? (not current followers etc)
  • What’s the average reach, per platform?
  • Is there a trend (like time of day, or day of the week, a particular show is on tv) where things are higher or lower than the average?


So, in a not so short response, social media return on investment is quantified by asking the right questions. Not, demanding it drive sales or engagement alone.


How to Turn Data into Insights

How do you turn data into insights?

We all know that we should be data driven, heck, it is a buzzword these days!

Yet so many of us are ‘data rich, insight poor’.

But when you are looking into the abyss of what can look like data vomit, how do you turn these data points into insights for your company’s growth?

This post is a starting point before you dive into the deep dark woods of analytics. You know the phrase “If all you have is a hammer then everything you see is a nail.” Abraham Maslow. So you need to focus.

In this data insight post we’ll cover how to set your goals.

Establish Goals and Tracking

For starters you need to have, at a minimum, your objectives and goals set up. You can’t manage what you can’t measure, so what is it that you want to achieve? What are your companies long and short term goals? Think about your goals from a macro and micro level.

Why? Because setting clear goals and objectives help your company to reach its goals. Say for example you had a site converting at 4%. Say for every 100 people, 4 parted with their cash, what did the other 96 people do? Knowing what these micro moments are helps you to understand your audiences behaviour. By tracking their behaviour, it gives you insights into what triggers and activates your visitors. Example Goals Could Be:

  • Visit duration goals
  • Pages/visits goals
  • Event goals
  • Engagement
  • URL destination goals
  • Track leads
  • Track file downloads
  • Highest driving social media channel
  • Open and click through rates for email
  • ROI on PPC campaigns

You need to make sure that your business and marketing programmes are designed to be measurable. Make every effort to track everything that is critical. For example campaigns that are tagged correctly, make sure that your analytics are setup on your marketing machines for things like your email, ppc campaigns, paid social right through to your  apps and/ or websites. Bottom line: every business with a digital presence should have analytics set-up for maximum data insights. Once you have all of these set up, you will have lots of juicy metrics looking back at you! We’ve created a bloody awesome goals template to help you get startedYou’re welcome. You Need Solid Facts, not Fluff! A useful exercise from the  Lean Analytics book by Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz is to map out your business on 1 page aka a ‘1 pager’

Know the difference between your numbers

  • Lagging metrics are historical, things that have already happened, such as sales last month.
  • Leading metrics are forward looking, the metrics that help predict tomorrow, such as number of marketing qualified leads, or free trials of your product in your pipeline.
  • Correlated are two variables that are related but may be dependent on something else, for example, the number of people drowning and ice cream sales.  You wouldn’t look at a correlated graph and conclude that we should ban ice cream sales to save lives.

Causal is an independent variable that directly impacts a dependent one, for example, summertime. It is summer that is the causal effect in our case example here for sales of ice creams and number of drownings.

Now, if you find a leading, causal metric, you have found something that can drive growth and know what causes it, now you can grow your company at will. None of this is possible though if you do not have a solid set of objectives, a fully tracked analytics suite, and looking at the data points that matter. Se those objectives marketers!

Post it Not Reporting You should have your big business data available for the entire team to dig into, ideally on some form of shared drive like Google Drive.

But to avoid the data vomit we talked about at the start of this article, can you put the company’s top level metrics on a post it note?

Post it note reporting

Task for you: Write down your companies top-level metrics on what we like to call, ‘post it note reporting’ Why? To keep you focused on the metrics that really matter for your business. You should look at this high level pulse point of data and use it to make changes to your business and remember If a metric does not change the way you behave it is a bad metric. Not all reports are created equal Not all metrics are equal to the same person, so my final tip is to make a list of who are you reporting to? What do they care about? Yes you will have a high level business report for the state of the business, but what do the rest want on their post it note? What metrics matter to them? For example: Your VP of marketing may want.

  • Unique Visitors
  • Number of Free Trials
  • Return on Investment
  • Churn Rate of Paying customers

Your CFO may want

  • Cost per Visitor
  • Cost per Acquisition
  • ROI
  • Monthly Recurring Revenue

If you want to report like a boss you can download our Reporting Template Here. 

If you want to dive into the nitty-gritty process of building fantastic dashboards, we have a module in our online Google Analytics course. Head over here to get the full details, but short version, learn our process (with a handy word doc template) and see how to use Data Studio to make it look all shiny and glossy.


How Can You Measure Content Marketing ROI

How do you measure content marketing and validate that your work is bringing in the big bucks?

We all want more bang for our content buck, but unfortunately we’re not mind readers (sigh). Making your life as a marketer that little bit harder. You need to be able to tell what content is driving ROI. So how do you measure content marketing?

To improve your content and the channels you’re using to publish your content on, focus on these three key things:

  1. Event Tracking
  2. Segmentation
  3. Testing

1: Event Tracking

If you are not tracking your content assets and your business objectives via website goals then you can’t measure its performance and define its ROI.

Are you using event tracking on your website or app? No? Then you’re missing a massive trick! We have a handy guide on Events for you, using a chicken analogy.

What is Event Tracking?

Event tracking, according to Conversioner is:

“A method that is available in Google Analytics. It lets you record user interactions with various web elements like a menu system driven by Flash. You can do this by attaching a piece of code to an element in the website. When you do so, all activity on that element will be displayed and calculated as Events in the interface for the Analytics report”

As event tracking can track all your users interactions, from a content perspective that would be things like:

  • video plays
  • flicking through gallery images
  • downloading ungated content
  • sharing on social media
  • or scroll reach (i.e reading your long form content)

How to set up event tracking?

For a more detailed description, check out the Event Tracking page on the Google Analytics developers page here: Event Tracking

When you have set up the tracking you will find all this lovely information in Behaviour/Events>Overview

event tracking

One of the best things about having Event Tracking set up is that some of them will be goals  for you, BUT, you can not create an Event Goal until you have the Event data inside your GA account. So you really, really need to have this set up. Those PDF downloads, video plays, and scrolling down the pages will not track themselves.

As we are on the topic of goals, split them into Macro Conversions eg the big hitting goals such as making a purchase or a lead from downloading content via a web form, and Micro Conversions eg the smaller interactions that lead up to the big goals such as reading your blog, watching a video, interacting with your live chat etc. we have written about this topic What Marketing Metrics Matter.

2: Advanced Segments in Google Analytics

If you have created events and goals you can find out how well your content marketing is impacting your bottom line. To really see the impact of your content, get familiar and start building Advanced Segments in Google Analytics.

  • Does downloading un-gated content (eg PDF downloads) trigger goal completions?
  • Do customers spend more money with you if they watch a video?
  • If visitors read the blog, are they more engaged and more likely to return to your site?
  • Do more women or men flick through my images? Etc etc

content segments

How do you make data insightful? Context!

How do you get context? By comparing your data sets over at least 2 of these time comparisons

date range context

So instead of saying 10 people downloaded content this month you could say 10 people downloaded content this month, compared to 8 people last month and 4 people from the same period last year. Those that downloaded the content completed x goals with a value of y.

3: Testing (testing and more testing!)

With solid data to measure progress, you should have an always test mindset.

You can test anything!

Words – little things can make a big difference. Do people convert more when you used the words “kids” or “children”.

Images – what style and placement of images work best for your customers and prospects?

There really are a million things you could test, but how do you work where you should test and in what order? Use Chris Goward’s PIE framework!

Potential: How much improvement can be made on the pages?

Importance: How valuable is the traffic to these pages and do they cost you a lot of money to get there?

Ease: How complicated will the test be to implement form both a technical and political viewpoint?

When you have your order, form a clear hypothesis to test. Your hypothesis should be measurable, have a goal of solving a conversion issues, and you are looking to gain some insights on how to improve moving forward.

Does changing the call to action from “Watch the video” to “See the solution” get more people to view your content? Does adding images to your blog engage users? Never stop testing folks!

Now it’s your turn!

What techniques are you going to use from this post first?

Will you set up event tracking to track your users interactions with your website?

Or are you ready to dive right into advanced segments?

Whatever technique you choose, there are a few free tools we’ve created to help you along the way here.