Subscribe: The Direct Approach
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade B rated
Language: English
analytics  campaign  click  data  email  google  make  media  number  people  site  social media  social  time  tracking 
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: The Direct Approach

The Direct Approach

Opinionated discussions, tips, tricks and advice for those interested in interactive marketing, or learning more about the online space.

Updated: 2018-03-06T06:06:55.402-05:00


Learn To Trust Your Instincts


(image) Recent personal and professsional experiences have inspired this post, which may slightly resemble a rant.

One of my dogs underwent knee surgery a couple of weeks ago to repair a torn cruciate ligament; when my husband and I picked him up, we knew right away something wasn't right and he shouldn't have been released from the vet's. But it was a weekend, and we were told that everything we were concerned about could also be normal in a recovering pooch. Our guts kept telling us something was wrong, and sure enough when we finally saw the surgeon again several days later, he took one look at our dog and agreed with us. Our poor guy had to have a second surgery and ended up suffering needlessly for several days.

On the professional front, I've been comparing some advertising results for a client for several different sites. While I've previously discussed the difference between clicks and click-throughs and why you will see discrepancies, sometimes the discrepancies jump out at you enough to question them.

This is the case with one particular site. The client's tracking system and the vendor's show very different numbers for clicks and click-throughs, as high as 150% or more when you start to break down the data week by week. A discrepancy of this size immediately set off alarm bells in my head... and my client's.

We've been back and forth with the vendor numerous times, and after iniitally discounting us, they are now taking us seriously. Given this is the only site of many we're on showing this discrepancy, it's clear that something isn't working. Whether it's the client's or vendor's tracking system remains to be seen, but both parties now agree that this must get resolved because something is amiss.

The moral of this story? Trust your judgment. You have good instincts when it comes to things you know - like your website. If something doesn't feel right, question it. Keep on doing so until you feel satisfied with the answers you're receiving. My husband and I should have pushed more (and sooner) with our dog, but we were out of our element - we didn't know enough about the subject, so just trusted what others said. At the end of the day, he's our dog, we know him best, and while we may not have known what exactly was wrong, we knew something was, and it turns out we were right.

The same can be said for my client who knows the number of click-throughs they normally get from advertising campaigns, and the types of discrepancies they normally see between their tracking system and a vendor one. They aren't giving up until this is sorted out because the discrepancy is large enough to make or break this campaign (on this one site) for them. It will determine whether or not they advertise with them again in the future. So until we know for sure, we're going to keep digging and keep questioning.

As G.I. Joe says.. "Knowing is half the battle."

Photo Credit: Stuant63; Flickr

Why Shorter Newsletters are a Win-Win for Everyone


(image) Skimming a new site that launched today - Association Jam - which basically is a niche Digg-style website for associations and non-profits (a brilliant idea from the folks at Wild Apricot!) - I found a favourited post discussing three trends that beg for shorter emails.

While the post is geared towards non-profits, the points raised really are transferrable across almost every industry.

In this age of information overload, microblogging (i.e Twitter) and other social media tools, email newsletters need to be freshened up. Gone are the days of creating long-winded newsletters with all the articles and information right there in the body.

Newsletters should be short and provide clear direction for what action you want people to take. They should also provide options; while you can segment your audience and send targeted newsletters to certain groups (clients vs. prospects, etc.), it doesn't mean everyone is still interested in the same articles or information.

Writing your newsletter topics like Twitter posts or Facebook statuses - giving a description in small chunks with a link to view more for those interested - is a way to not overwhelm your audience.

As Kivi pointed out in her post, "everyone has a desire to achieve inbox 0 these days," so the less overwhelming you can make an email, the better. The easier it is for people to click through on a link and then take some sort of action (like bookmarking or sharing the story) brings your newsletter in the social media age and provides valuable insight.

If you're tracking your newsletters, links, word of mouth mentions (using alerts and searches and so on) you'll be able to see how far and wide some of your newsletter articles go. This will help you get a better sense of what kinds of articles you should be including in your newsletter and ultimately make your newsletter even more attuned to your subscribers.

How to Optimize Your Online Ad Campaign On a Budget


Often when the topic of optimizing your online advertising campaign comes up, you might think of it in terms of changing or tweaking the actual ad creative which can sometimes be costly. Here's three tips for campaign optimization that don't involve creative changes to help keep things fresh and your budget in check.Using your Analytics systems, check click and conversion metrics for:1. Best performing sizesSometimes certin sizes or types of ads may perform differently than you expect. For example, box ads may be placed at the top, middle or bottom of the page on the site. If you know your ads are on the bottom, there's a chance that the box ad may not perform as well for you as another ad unit (or vice versa). Shift impressions to the ad unit that performs the best from a combined click-through and conversion standpoint. Keep in mind not all ads units will cost the same price, so you will need to weigh that in your decision but if you notice a signficant enough difference in response rates, fewer impressions with more conversions wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. 2. Best performing placementWhile Run of Site or homepage placements may be cheaper, perhaps they get lost in the noise and don't get the kind of click-through (or conversion) rates you're seeing for more targeted placements (on the same site). Really review each placement to see if there is a difference. The more targeted the placement, the more it often costs. Maybe your ad gets great response rates without the targeting - shifting those impressions to ROS would end up stretching your dollar and your campaign as you could potentially run your ad longer. But you'll never know unless you're tracking individual placement responses for both click and conversion rates.3. Frequency capsUnless you're sponsoring a placement, running a roadblock or have 100% share of voice, you may want to consider capping the number of times a user can see your ads. This can be particularly effective when you have ROS placements or are running on sites that get a lot of repeat visitors. Working with your agency or the site, get them to place a cap between 3-5 views per user on your ads. Over time, compare the click-through rates and see if they increase, you might be surprised at what you find. I've had clients who have suddenly seen their click-through rates jump enough to continue running advertisements with the site in question. You'll want to use your analytics system to review results and you may need to play with that 3-5 range to find the number that works best for you. Frequency capping shouldn't cost any extra money and it's a way to improve the life span of your campaign, and potentially reach more unique eyeballs.Some of the above mentioned optimizations are difficult to do if you have just sent one creative tag for tracking purposes. It's important to think about all the different ad placements and sizes on each site up front and to create separate ad tags for each one before the ads are trafficked to the website. While this creates more work up front, it will allow you to track your campaign accurtely and really learn which site, placement, size or execution is working for you. Relying only on site reporting may not give you the most accurate results as every site and ad server may track things differently. You'll want to make sure you're using one tool to benchmark and compare the data equally.You'll often notice that when looking at the data, the results vary by site. This is to be expected and as a result of minute differences in visitor profiles and behaviour. You should make sure that before making any blanket decisions you have looked at the data by site as well to make sure any performance generalizing statements you make aren't the result of one or two sites in particular.Understanding what works well for each site will help you run the right kind of ads to the right kind of audiences, thus increasing your clicks and your conversions, without spending huge sums of money.Photo Credit: Woodsy Stock.Xchng[...]

How To Use Filters In Google Analytics To Remove Your Own Data


The following guest post is from Rajeev Edmonds, also known as mintblogger. His blog was one of my favourites long before I got to know him through the Authority Blogger Forum. His vast technical knowledge of what you can do with Google Blogger and Google Analytics definitely surpasses my own. Today he discusses how to properly use filters in GA to exclude your own internal data (among other things). Enjoy!************************************Are you happy you've met the traffic goals at the end of the month? Hold on, the data displayed on your Analytics dashboard also includes the internal traffic (visits from staff/internal office network) on your web site. You may have hired some web developers living on the other side of the globe working on your web site. What about their visits while they work on your site? Their visits are also counted in your traffic. So, are you getting the true picture of actual number of genuine visitors coming to your site?Here comes the role of filters that can be used to exclude visits from specific sources on your web site. Power users are able to harness the true power of filters with the help of custom regular expressions. In our case, we will see how to exclude visits from selective sources so that they do not count in our traffic statistics.Excluding visits from a networkLet's assume your company has two offices in different locations. One network has the IP range of to and the other has the IP range of to Now you want to exclude all visits from these two networks to get a better estimate about the actual number of visitors coming to your web site.To achieve this, simply create a filter as shown below. I'm assuming you are currently in your Analytics dashboard.1. Go to Analytics Settings -> Filter Manager -> Add Filter.2. Give an appropriate name to the filter (for exp: ABC Inc Internal Traffic).3. Select 'Exclude all traffic from an IP address' from the drop down list of Filter type option.4. Now for first IP range our regular expression will be:^3\.67\.232\.([1-9][1-9][0-9]1([0-8][0-9]))$For second IP range, the regular expression will be:^10\.17\.115\.([1-9][1-9][0-9]1([0-2][0-9]3[0-7]))$For specifying more than one range, we have to separate both expressions with a '' pipe symbol. So the final expression becomes:^3\.67\.232\.([1-9][1-9][0-9]1([0-8][0-9]))$^10\.17\.115\.([1-9][1-9][0-9]1([0-2][0-9]3[0-7]))$Write this regular expression in the IP address field. If you find it difficult to create these expressions for your IP range, here is a handy tool to create regular expressions for a given IP range.Note: In Google Analytics, the maximum allowable length of a regular expression is 255 characters. If your company has large number of networks, you have may have to create several filters to accommodate all IP ranges.5. Next, you have to select the web site profiles on which this filter should be applied. Select the sites from the left side table and click Add >>. Click Save Changes to complete the filter creation process.Now all visits from these networks will not be counted in your traffic and you will be able to get a better and clearer picture about the actual performance of your web site.Excluding visit from a single IPTo reduce the complexity, I'm not discussing about excluding traffic from dynamic IP addresses. The process of excluding traffic from a single IP is same as shown above. All the steps are the same except the regular expression. Suppose, you want to exclude all traffic from IP address regular expression for this IP will be 10\.31\.119\.45Regular Expression PrimerThe table shown below will help you in experimenting and creating your own regular expressions.? -match zero or one of the previous item. (dot) -match any single character() -remember contents of parenthesis as item- -create a range in a list* -match zero or more of the previous item -or^ -match to the beginning of the field$ -match to the end of the field[] -ma[...]

Omniture to Add Twitter Tracking Options to SiteCatalyst


I'm probably a little late to the party on posting this news, but because I've not always been kind to Omniture, and since I think this could be a great new tracking tool, I've got to share it.

A recent article in Internet Marketing News states that Omniture is going to start tracking Twitter conversations for their customers.

From what I gather, it will work similarily to something like Google alerts, allowing you to create a report alerting you to talk of simple words and phrases. It can be set up to send real-time alerts to email or SMS services so that you can be well aware as to what people are saying about your brand as it happens.

What I like about this is that it can be incorporated into their reporting, allowing you the user the ability to take it all in context. You can compare the number of conversations (good or bad) that occured on a given day or time, against the number of traffic you get from the Twitter site.

Not only are you now beginning to get a one-stop shop for all your tracking and monitoring needs, as the article further points out, users will have an unlimited number of keywords to track, which means besides your brand, you could track your competitors as well. Gathering almost real-time intelligence and being ready to jump on any kind of feedback that occurs is vital in such a competitive market, and kudos to Omniture for being the (one of - if not the) first to attempt it in this capacity.

What an Ultrasound Can Teach You About Your Data


As per my last post, yup, I'm pregnant, and it's funny how going for something as simple as an ultrasound can trigger an idea for a blog post.

You see, I'm 21 weeks now and already had my second-trimester ultrasound at around 19 weeks. Unfortunately, the baby played shy and they didn't get a good enough view of all the things they needed to, so I had to go back for another ultrasound. What a difference a couple of weeks make! The baby was much more developed, and thankfully much more cooperative.

Now you might be wondering what redoing an ultrasound has to do with your data - but I promise you there is method to my madness.

You see, perhaps you've just launched your site, or a new campaign, and you eagerly go in to your analytics system and check your data. Perhaps the early results you look at suggest things are going swimmingly - or pehaps they suggest the opposite.

Just like my first ultrasound was a little too early to get really good pictures, sometimes a first look at your data can be too early to know the full story. The first data check can give you an indicaition of how things are going, but maybe you haven't given the data enough time to mature and tell you that story.

If you're doing an advertising campaign, then chances are you will get a good sense of how things are progressing sooner rather than later, but if you've just launched a site and perhaps don't have a huge marketing budget to promote it, you might need to wait a little longer. You might find the first check shows minimal results, but then a mention somewhere gives you an unanticipated traffic boost.

Here are five simple tips to better analyze your data:

1. Set timeframes for data checks (daily/weekly/monthly - depends on what it is you're doing and how much traffic you anticipate) and create benchmarks or goals for each data check.

2. Don't be afraid to adjust the set goals once you've got some results under your belt.

3. Loweing your goals isn't a bad thing if that's what it calls for - but try to find the answers as to why you need to do so (too aggressive, unrealistic, smaller niche, not getting as many ad impressions as originally thought, etc.)

4. Look for a story - Data always has a story to tell, good or bad. You just need to look hard enough to figure out what that story is and how it is relevant to your site or business.

5. Learn from the results. Don't just look at them and leave them alone, optimize where you can, or if you can't optimize currently, write out points for the future of what you will do differently (or keep the same) based on the results.

Photo Credit: Konr4d; Stock.Xchng

Analytics Explained for Mom Bloggers


For those of you who don't yet know, I'm actually expecting my first child this July. Which means that I'll soon be a part of another community, the powerful network of mom bloggers.

I've already started dipping my toe into the waters of mom blogging by being a bi-weekly contributor to the Baby Bargainista Column on Eden Spodek's Bargainista Blog.

And last week I was interviewed by Mom Blogger extraordinaire and co-host of the Profitable Mommy Blogging podcast, April Tara

We discussed the basics of web analytics, everything from defining what a visitor is to how to understand your stats and evaluating traffic to your blog.

While aimed at mom bloggers, it really is applicable to anyone trying to understand the world of analytics, especially those relatively new to blogging or web analytics.

You can hear the whole 40 minute show here and because we ran out of time, be sure to check the site in the next few days for my follow up guest post, giving my thoughts on Google PageRank and Alexa.

Clicks vs. Click Throughs and Why You Need to Understand the Difference


If you run advertising campaigns, you should be receiving reports from the publisher's ad serving software/company showing you the number of impressions your ad received, as well as the number of clicks.This information can be valuable to you as you decide whether or not to proceed with additional ad campaigns with said vendors. But what is a click, really? For vendors and ad-serving comapnies, a click can include the following:1. People who click through to your website2. Spiders/bots/webcrawlers trolling the net to index information and links3. People who clicked on your ad (by accident) and realized that wasn't the action they wanted to take and closed things down before actually visiting your site4. Fraudulent click activities - which end up being a combination of automated clicking devices/ip addresses who never make it to your siteAs you can see there are a lot of instances where a click may not be an actual click and may be inflatign your results. This is where the click-through comes in.A click-through is exactly what it sounds like - someone has clicked on your ad and landed on your (campaign landing) page.It can be kind of tricky to get this information, as it requires you to have your own tracking system in place that allows you to place your own click tags in your ads (as well as those from the ad serving company/publisher.) It also requires you to have the ability to place tracking code on your site to tell when someone has clicked through from an ad.Generally speaking, if you sit down with your IT and marketing teams, you should be able to figure out a way to do this - especially if you are using some sort of paid tracking software/system.Did you know that the variance between clicks and click-throughs can differ as much as 30-50% in some cases? Every tracking system will be different and there will always be discrepancies between data sources, but normally you look for a less than 10% differnce.Paid Search advertisers seem to have the lowest data discrepancies, and that is because they have long since instituted double tracking and didn't stand for the difference between clicks and click-throughs, especially because paid search is billed on a cost-per-click basis. This forced serving companies/software systems to pay attention and fix the discrepancies quickly in order to avoid losing money.However, in banner advertising, most programs run on a Cost per Thousand (CPM) impressions basis, so it's advantageous to the publisher to show lots of clicks and not worry about fixing any potential discrepancies. For anyone who is running banner advertising campaigns on a CPC basis, I strongly recommend you ensure there is a second tracking option in place for you to compare the numbers.Perhaps it's time to stop and take a second look at your advertising campaign and see how it's really doing. Photo Credit: iamwahid; Stock.XchngDiggIt![...]

A Recap of Tweetdeck's Latest Update: Version 0.21.5b


(image) I'm a huge fan of the Twitter application Tweetdeck . Tweetdeck essentiatlly helps organize the often chaotic social networking site to save you time. It does this by allowing you to keep track of your followers by putting their tweets into digestable groups, among other things. One of the biggest challenges of Tweetdeck was the amount of API it sometimes sucked up if you tried to do too much in the interface and weren't managing the number of API calls you asked the application to make in an hour.

The latest version 0.21.5b not only provides measures to address these API concerns, but adds an entire other layer to the time-saving features offered. Included below is a list of the major enhancements that I've been able to notice with this version. To see these in action, check out this great video tutorial by non-proft social media consultant John Haydon .

Besides the Direct Message, Reply and Retweet options, the biggest, most notable change is that when you mouse over someone's avatar, the 'fourth icon' is now named Other Actions. If you choose this icon, a fly-out navigation menu appears giving you the ability to:

* Email a tweet to somone (Using the default Microsoft email of course)
* Translate the tweet (I clicked on this and nothing happened - so assume it's for non-English tweets)
* Untranslate a tweet (Again nothing happend when I clicked this - but to assume again, I imagine it's to undo what you translated)

Other items in the Other Actions drop down include the ability to follow or unfollow someone, Search, View the tweeter's profile, Mark as Read, Delete, Favourite and Add to a Group.

Being able to view the profile and add to a group without the extra clicks should save a few API calls and in general makes the interface that much easier and faster to use. What will save even more of those API calls comes from some new options in the Settings tab. You now have the ability to open profiles in web pages vs. in Tweetdeck - again to save API calls. I think this is really quite brilliant.

Other new setting options include:
* Choose how many tweets to keep in a column (automatically set at 500)
* The ability to hide direct messages after you've sent them or tweets you've marked (when you restart the system)

The other big news that hashtag users will love, is that when you reply to someone who used a hashtag, Tweetdeck now automatically picks up the hashtag and puts in the reply for you. This is just another wonderful time saving measure (and will avoid some typos I'm sure).

I'm thinking there are a least a couple of other new items, so feel free to let me know what I might have missed in this list.

More Omniture News - A partnership with WPP


Without turning this into an Omniture only blog, it's hard to ignroe additional events/news happening at the company these days.

An article in DM News talks about the recent announcement of a parternship between Omniture and the WPP Group.

Besides WPP investing 25 million into Omniture - which in my opinion is a much-needed investment if Omniture hopes to try and keep up with Google, or shake the recent troubles it's had with unhappy customers and latency issues - there will be an integration of several WPP/ 24/7 Real Media products, like Open AdStream.

This merger recognizes that neither company can afford to let the likes of Google take away their business. It also helps eliminate some of the clutter and duplication amongst web analytics platforms and companies.

It means more sharing and collaboration of tools and technology, which in the long run only benefit those using those applications. It's much better than what either Omniture or Google was doing in terms of buying up companies and technology as it means there are two companies each with their own stakes and reputations on the line if this doesn't work. I think it means everyone will try harder to please the other and again, means those using any of the products should win in the long run.

Of course, I'm sure there will be some interesting techinical glitches along the way, but I find this a very positive annoumcent all around.

Tracking Systems Are Only As Good As The Data They Capture


Being able to know what visitors to site are doing, and how they behave are really quite important statistics for major companies. Especially if they are able to make changes on the fly and boost conversion rates based on the (near) real-time information that's available.

In fact, most companies pay big bucks for that. Being able to get this real-time data is one reason why free systems like Google can't compete. But what if those systems you pay big bucks for suddenly stop spitting out real-time data? What if it takes a couple days (or longer) for that data to appear? That would make daily optimization nearly impossible.

Well, this is what is happening to those customers of Omniture at present. And as a user of Omniture for a client of mine, I can attest to the fact that data sometimes disappears, or doesn't exist for several days, and then suddenly does as though it was there all along and you just didn't look hard enough.

It makes testing campaigns very difficult, especially when you're trying to give the go-ahead for an ad to go live.

An article in Forbes last week shows that my client isn't the only one facing this challenge. Which is good and bad news. It's good news because we've usually been made to feel like we are the only ones with these issues. The bad news? Poor Omniture; they are really heading up the creek without a paddle.

In a time where Google is heavily ramping up their free systems, and companies are looking to tighten their belts, Omniture can't afford to be losing or misplacing data - even for short periods of time. It doesn't give them much of a leg to stand on when clients ask why they have to pay so much for their services.

I also feel like it raises a few more questions including:

1. Are we expecting too much from data systems?
2. Makes me wonder about those who pay for tracking systems - especially huge sums of money. These troubles kind of make free look good... Don't they?

What the CRTC Can Learn From Email Marketers


Back in September when Canada's Do Not Call List was announced, I wrote a post outlining some of the major issues that I (and other marketers) saw with it, including the vagueness of the wording itself.What has actually happened though is probably the biggest backfire in the history of Backfires. Many news outlets, including the Globe and Mail, have reported that those on the list - myself included - have actually had our names and numbers sold to scammers.You see, it's rather easy to get the list. All marketers have to do is register online and pay a small fee. When they register, as long as they know the format for a business number and the other information they ask, they are immediately accepted. There's NO cross checking that takes place. No confirmation before the list is downloaded.This means anyone, including those who aren't Canadian - and can't be processed since this is a Canadian law, that applies to Canadians - can get the list and use it to call people.Which is, unfortuntely, exactly what's taking place. If you take a look in the hundred or so comments you see with the article, you'll notice that most of these calls are ones we all get, the fog-horn cruise and those with call-display numbers of 1234567890.The problem? It's obvious the CRTC didn't put any checks and balances in place to stop this kind of thing from happening. Again, if you read through the comments, you'll notice several people mention things like seed numbers, data checks and data cleansing - without releasing the information.This last idea is really the way things should have been handled in the first place. It's the way respectable email marketing is run, so there's no excuse as to why it couldn't work here.The way it works is that (after all the non-disclosure agreements are signed), the mareketer sends their list to the CRTC, who then 'scrubs' it against their Do Not Call list and sends back the 'cleaned' file. Now, this is the most rudimentary way of doing this. Technology has advanced so much that many of the email companies (and some major computer companies with giant lists) allow online data scrubbing to occur in a secure environment where humans don't actually touch/see the data.GASP what a concept! If the CRTC had done their homework, or talked with vendors who offer this service, they would see how easily this could be done and is currently done here and in the U.S., where it's the law to have an email DNC and for suppressions to take place when renting lists.Now Canadians who were told to register in good faith for this list, have no choice but to continue suffering the fate of illegimate marketers phoning them whenever they please. Photo Credit: Jazza Stock.XchngDiggIt![...]

Knowing When to Admit You're Wrong


(image) It's not often that someone will come right out and say - "You know what? I goofed, I made a mistake, I'm sorry and here's what I'm going to do to fix it."

Yet Vicki Flaugher of did just that recently. She sent out an email to her newsletter subscribers that was quite honest, sincere and very apologetic.
The sad news, unfortunately, is I quite apparently stink at newsletters. I have had numerous technical difficulties that have made many of you not receive the newsletters or for them to arrive jumbled. Perhaps you never got one. The problems have been overwhelmingly disappointing to me.

Being a SmartWoman sometimes require you to recognize when you've been whipped. So, it's official - I give up. I am temporarily suspending publication of the SmartWoman Newsletter.
She then went on to outline a plan of how she planned on fixing things, and how a subscriber could continue to get their SmartWoman 'fix' by following Vicki on Twitter or tuning into her radio show on Blog Talk Radio.

Full disclosure: Vicki is a client of mine and I am helping her revamp the newsletter. We talked about setting expectations and about the fact that anyone subscribing to her newsletter was probably wondering what had happened to it. However, we're just in the beginning stages of working together and I didn't tell her to send out that note. Vicki did it all on her own and I was truly impressed when it showed up in my inbox.

I think Vicki's note went a long way to earning credibility with subscribers. It let them know she was aware there was a problem and that her standards wouldn't let it continue any longer. She made a commitment to her subscribers to no longer send out the newsletters until she was confident in them again.

That showed her subscribers she cared about what material is sent to them, and ultimately about the content they received. Being someone who wants to empower the female entrepreneur, Vicki recognized that she could share this learning experience with her readers, and everyone would end up walking away more fulfilled.

Photo Credit: mai05; StockXchng

Holiday Stats Reveal More Than You Realize


(image) If you're a non-retailer who is not paying attention to your December traffic, then this post is for you. It will tell you why this is the most important time to pay attention to your stats.

Unless you are a retailer, many companies/sites don't often look at their website stats/usage in December as they might find it slightly depressing because numbers are down. Now, this is a big generalization, but is usually the case for non-retailers (if you're a non-profit you're counted with the retailers for the sake of this post since gifts often include charitable donations).

The question is, who comes to your site if you don't have something to sell as a gift (online)? Your loyal customer/reader. The people who come to your site during the holiday season are doing so for one of several reasons.

1. Perhaps they don't celebrate the holidays for religious reasons

2. Perhaps they are tired of looking at Christmas things and want to take a break

3. Perhaps they visit your site often and are the types of customers/readers/visitors you try to attract all throughout the year

Didn't think about that did you? People who come to your site over the holidays are likely the people you are trying to reach all year long. So without the clutter of accidental visitors, take some time and study the paths they take on your site.

What content interests them the most? Are there any patterns or trends you can see from this period and then what about year over year during the same holiday season? You can even compare it to the rest of the year to see how/if that differs and if there are any interesting conclusions you can reach.

Looking at this data just may give you some information to use to base the website decisions for 2009 you're probably fine-tuning at this very moment.

Photo Credit: Kitsos13; Stock.xchng

Why Campaign Visitors Need Their Own Path


(image) When a prospect lands on your website from an advertising campaign, do you send them on the same path as any other visitor to your website? If you do, you need to think again.

Visitors to your site (especially) from online advertising programs have different mindsets than visitors who come to your site because they are regulars, or took the time to search for something they were interested in which brought them to your website.

Here's what you need to know about (online ad) campaign visitors.

They were in the middle of doing something else first. It was great you caught their attention with your ad and they landed on your site, but remember this: They didn't start out looking for your ad.

Your ad was a distraction from the original task they wanted to complete.

They want to go back to whatever it was they were doing previously, as fast as possible.

You need to understand and accept that.

You do this by making it as easy and painless as possible for them to complete the task you want them to do.

If you were to compare stats between someone who came to your site from an online ad campaign vs. someone who didn't, chances are you would quickly come to see the following:

Campaign visitors are unlikely to go more than 1-2 pages deep on your site, whereas non-campaign visitors are more likely to explore your site and its pages.

Keep this in mind, you need to determine the single-most important action you want an ad campaign visitor to take and focus on helping that user complete that task. Giving them too many options complicates the process and makes it easy for them to bail before getting past step two, so they can get back to what they were doing before.

Anything you can do to speed up the process of completing the step you want them to take (say subscribe to your newsletter) and help them get back to their previous task, will be well received. Chances are they will come back to explore later when you're not just a distraction.

Photo Credit: CanadaKick; Stock.xchng

Twitter Tips Are Like Cottage Cheese


I’m very excited to announce the first guest post on (image) The Direct Approach – especially when it’s none other than non-profit social media guru John Haydon. John’s a long-time Social Media Consultant and the publisher of CorporateDollar.Org
Twitter tips are like cottage cheese - they should always come with an expiration date. (image)

The viral nature Twitter makes any attempt to differentiate your organization - whether you are a non-profit or a fortune 500 company - with the latest tip obsolete in a matter of days.

So, instead of seeking to differentiate your organization with tactics, go back to your strategy. Understanding the difference between tactics and strategies can unlock a wealth of ideas about using social media.

Here are five ideas from my recent discussions:

1. Use, a voice-test translation service to post tweets with your cell phone. It will allow you to stay in the conversation while you pick up your kids from school.
2. Buy a cheap graphic design tool and make your avatar “pop”. I use photoshop elements because it's easy to use and only cost me $49.
3. Include an "interesting fact" on your background - not one about your non-profit, but about you. The folks you converse with will want proof that you’re human. Don’t be scared.
4. If you choose to use an autoresponder (using, make it human, useful and about the person following you.
5. Create a second Twitter account, to use as a broadcaster about your non-profit.

The take away?

Make up your own Twitter Tips - remember, success depends on who leads, not who follows :-)

Web Analytics - A Few Key Definitions


I spend a lot of my day focused on data and analytics, and trying to determine the "why" behind actions taken in an online environment. I often forget that not everyone spends their time the same way I do, so I thought I'd take a moment to define a few key analytics measurements and describe when/how they are used or calculated. Bounce or Exit Rate: The percentage of people who your website from a particular page. They may or may not have completed any actions (or visited other web pages).Single Access Rate: The percentage of people who visited a particular page and left from that same page and did not complete any actions. This is most useful when looking at campaign landing pages or your home page.Click Through Rate: Usually used with ad campaigns, a statistic that helps identify the number of people who clicked on a particular link, divided by the number of people who saw it. For ads, it's usually clicks on the ad or link, divided by the number of impressions (or eyeballs). It can also be used on a page to determine the number of people who clicked on links on a particular page divided by the number of total page views of that page. Can be confused or often interchanged with conversion rate.Conversion Rate: The number of people who completed a desired action based on the total potential audience that could take such an action. For example, if you had 100 people come to your homepage where you really wanted them to register for your newsletter, and 10 people did, your conversion rate would be 10 per cent. This metric often gets confused with click through rate or can be interchanged. In my honest opinion, a conversion rate has to do with actions, or task completion, not just clicking on a link on your campaign landing page. However, if you don't have a newsletter, or perhaps your product is not one people can buy online, this is where many people may use clicks on a specific link also as their conversion rate.What you might consider in that case is a specific path or journey that you want visitors to take. Ideally, you want them to visit more than one page on your site. Using a path analysis report, you can input the pages that you want people to visit and you will be able to know how many people took that specific journey. To get your conversion rate in this instance, you take the total number of people who took that journey and divide it by the number of people who viewed the page where your journey would start.Are there any specific metrics that you're not too sure how they are collected, what they showcase or when best to use them? Let me know and I'll be happy to explain them as best I can.Photo Credit: scataudo; DiggIt![...]

It's Not Your Brand They Hate - It's Your Actions


(image) A good friend and I got into a conversation a while back about actions and people. It's not people we like or dislike, it's their actions. It really got me thinking how that can be extended across to brands and products too. If consumers say they don't like you - it's often not your product or brand (unless you really do have a lousy product), but the actions taken on behalf of that product or brand by marketing and advertising campaigns, or people associated with the company.

Let's look at this whole Motrin kerfuffle as a shining example. Motrin is the same product it always was, however, now there are swarms of mothers out there who say they will not use the product again. It has nothing to do with how good or bad the product is; it has to do with a choice that was made to run a specific advertising campaign. Because of this action, it has changed the perception people have of the brand and their feelings towards it.

If you think of the traditional marketing/advertising brief, there's usually some sort of question around, "What do we want the consumer to think/believe after seeing our ad/product?"

And then there are questions around brand perception, asking what people currently tend to think of the brand or product.

If the folks at Motrin were to fill this out now vs. before the campaign, the answers to those questions would look a whole lot different, and if I lived under a rock, I wouldn't know why a good many people have the perception of the brand it now seems they do.

Wouldn't it be interesting to understand why people think the way they do? What "action" took place to put those thoughts in someone's head?

What would happen if you broke down the actions that your company has taken over the last two to five years and started writing down the perceptions of your brand, company or product that people had before and after each action? Yes, I know there are focus groups and brand perception studies that do this now - but do they go to the next level?

What if you began tracking the perceptions against more than ad campaigns - anything you've done (donations, social media presence, etc.) - and began looking for patterns to understand what kinds of actions generally changed consumer's perceptions - whether it be for good or bad... or indifferent.

You could suddenly start making a case for doing - or not doing - any number of things because of how your consumers *should* react (Note: no such thing as a sure thing).

It's not just about asking why, it's about understanding how and why your actions affect others.

Photo Credit: Ralph Atkinson

Get Clicky - Web Analytics Software


There's been a lot of talk of Google lately and how their Web Analytics is (IMHO) going to take over the world one day. However, I know many people who don't find it very intuitive or user friendly.Here's an alternative that's deemed great for bloggers and small sites: ClickyClicky is a web analyzer that works great with any web site, even Ajax and Flash sites. It was originally targeted towards smaller web sites and blogs because it tracks a high level of detail on every visitor, and these types of sites find this information very interesting. With many of the same reports as Google, what Clicky offers is a good user experience - especially for those not all that savvy with web analytics. The reports are easy to navigate and use language and terms that are recognizable to all, no matter the level of web analytics knowledge you have. A gutsy move is that they seem to use a lot of Google tools - such as Google Maps to overlay and show their visitor data, making it apparent that they know where their limits are.One Clicky feature lets you "track custom data on a per session basis for your visitors. The most common example of this is to automatically name each visitor to your site so that they are identified in your stats by more than just an IP address."You can then begin to understand what certain visitors are doing on your site. This is something that could be useful to bloggers and small sites, but definitely not plausible for large companies who have a lot of visitors coming to their site.To be honest, I find it a little Big Brother-esque and I'm not entirely sure what our privacy commissioner up here in Canada would think of this. It seems a little intrusive to me when it's done on an ip address level. I guess it's no different than cookie tracking, though.They say you can also use it to track ad campaigns, which could be very powerful, but again would only be manageable if you had a small campaign and lots of manpower time.The downside before you rush out there, Wordpress bloggers, is that Clicky currently isn't recognized as a trusted provider to Wordpress, so the customized tracking is not available as an option if your site is hosted there.While Clicky has a free service, most of these options are not available with that package, and in fact require you to sign up for the pro level, which is the third level up. It's only $11.99 per month though, so when you compare it to something like Omniture, that's a drop in the bucket.Personally, I'm a Google gal; that's just my preference when it comes to free tracking tools, although there are other really good ones out there too like Quantcast, and PMetrics to name a couple.If you find Google Analytics is not for you and you're willing to pay a small monthly fee, Clicky just might be for you. See a short tutorial posted by a Clicky user on youtube below, or just for yourself.DiggIt![...]

Why You should avoid using CSS in Your Emails


Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are great to use when builing websites or blogs, but no matter how much you want your email newsletter to look like its own mini-website, you shouldn't use CSS in your email design.

Just like every browser is different and contributes to general wonkiness of how things look or function sometimes, every email client is different too.

Popularilty of Blog software that provides you a do-it-yourself approach means that sometimes designers aren't creating email newsletters any more. Don't get me wrong; it's great to see that we've come far enough that this a simple newsletter isn't so scary anymore. It's just time to give a friendly reminder on the difference of website and email design.

While many email clients are beginning to see the light and make alterations to provide CSS (especially inline) support, there are many high-profile ones that don't yet seem to offer this capability (Outlook 2007, Gmail, etc).

Currently, avoiding CSS use in your email newsletters (and many deployment companies won't accept creative with CSS) is the recommended approach. However, there's a group that is hoping to change this one day.
The Email Standards Project is about working with email client developers and the design community to improve web standards support and accessibility in email. The project was formed out of frustration with the inconsistent rendering of HTML emails in major email clients.
Don't believe that CSS shouldn't work in email? This organiation has kindly tested a sample across a variety of email clients to show what works and doesn't work as expected. You can view the screenshots here.

This is one reason why it becomes important to have test accounts and send out test emails with each and every one of the email clients on your newsletter list. Once your newsletter is designed, send out test emails and see how it looks to each client. Determine if you can live with some of the strange nuances that are inevitably going to show up, or whether you should try something else instead.

How to Measure Reach and Quantify Your Social Media Campaigns - Part Four


This is the last post in my series – How to Measure Reach and Quantify Social Media Campaigns. It’s essentially a listing of tools that you can use to help you monitor and manage all the different streams.These tools are all free, and it is noted that there are some services out there that you can pay for who will do this for you. This list is intended to help out those folks who either don’t have a budget to pay for monitoring, or for those who still need to convince the budget holders in their organization that social media does/can work and that you need to be more involved.I’ve tried to also stick with sites that for the most part you don’t need to be heavily involved with/active to and can easily grab the info you need without spending a lot of time there.Tweetburner: Shortens urls and tells you the number of times a url you shortened was clicked on.Twitt(url)y: Twitturly is a service for tracking what urls people are talking about as they talk about them on Twitter.Twitter Search: Lets you search for any conversations taking place based on urls, keywords, or Twitter handles.BUDurl: This service takes Tweetburner one step further, it allows you to shorten urls and track them across any media.Google Analytics: Use it to tell what social media sites people are coming from and use the Grease Monkey Plug in to understand what people are doing on your site to promote it outside.AideRSS: Enter the url of your feed (if you have a blog) and it will return information about the posts, including which how many times they are shared on a variety of social networking sites.AddThis: If you have an account with AddThis, they will tell you how many times someone used the AddThis feature.Xinureturns: lets you find out how your (campaign for example) micro/website is doing. Just type in the url and you’ll get tons of stats ranging from search engine optimization (SEO) to social bookmarking and more. Good to look at how your competitors sites are doing too!Feedburner: Allows you to see how many people are subscribing on average to your feed if you have a blog or podcast. It also allows some simple tracking to understand what people are clicking on and where visitors are coming from and going to.Technorati: Allows you to see who’s talking about you in their blogs, or find out who is linking to your blog.Google Blog Search: As above, but I find more comprehensive.Blog Catalog: As above, but has additional features for sharing and rating.Blogscope: is an analysis and visualization tool for the blog world, developed by the University of Toronto, allows you to search on keywords to find out what’s happening in the blog world (great for product searches) and when activity spiked.Google Alert: Create alerts for your name, company, product, campaign and keep track of what’s being aid where.TweetBeep: The Google Alerts for twitter : Keep track of conversations that mention you, your products, your company, anything! You can even keep track of who's tweeting your website or blog, even if they use a shortened URL (like This is a bit more personal and kind of big brother like. Spokeo monitors 41 different social media sites (and growing) and reports what your friends are doing on each), I’m not sure how to use this effectively for companies yet.I’m sure I’ve missed a few, so I’d love to hear what other tools you use to help you keep track of what’s going on in the social media space when it comes to your company, product or campaign.UPDATE: @jowyang tweeted thi[...]

How to Measure Reach and Quantify Your Social Media Campaigns - Part Three


Over the course of the last two posts I've established what should be measured and how to go about getting the data. But now you're likely overwhelmed at the ton of numbers you’re left with.Let's look at your total Reach number, which is the total number of conversations, shares and site visits. For the sake of this post, we'll use the following numbers:Conversations: 200; Sharing: 300; Site visits 1,500;Total Reach: 2,000Remember, this doesn't include any banner-ad visitors or any other measures, just the three identified groups.Now, what did you spend on your social-media campaign? Well, let's see. What's the social-media campaign? What kinds of things are included?Direct Costs for media (such as Facebook; not banner-ad related, but would include any costs for blogger pitches) - Agency costs- Creative costs (Facebook, Twitter profile, website, video, etc.)- Cost of internal hours for coordination- Cost of hours for Facebook, Twittering and media monitoring- Cost of hours for report analysis- Cost of hours for responding and interaction- Percentage of product-sample cost (Yes, some of the offline samples should be included as you want people to go online and talk about their sample. You'll have to gauge accordingly based on online product-sample costs for blogger pitches, but I've used 60% here.) Let's say we're looking at $100,000 as our total cost of these items. Take your total cost and divide that by the total number of people you Reached. It cost you $50 per person you Reached. Keep in mind this number may be a little bit higher as your total Reach number may not be a unique number since we can't confirm if someone conversed, shared and visited the site. If you want to look at it from an overly cautious way, you can then take the 2,000 Reached and divide that by three (which gives you about 667 or something else if you believe in superstitions). Your cost per person Reached would now be $150. These are two very different numbers, but it's a range that you can begin to use for budgeting. You'll need to work something out that's right for you based on what you think people are doing or what the numbers tell you. If you have more people sharing than visitors to your website, I'm going to guess that you can safely assume people are doing at least two of the three items.The point of the matter is that the Reach Formula should be defined campaign to campaign, and that it should evolve depending on the social nature of what is actually taking place. Eventually, you as a company should be able to benchmark and create your own personal average, and perhaps as an industry if this were tracked. There are some hard numbers that you can put beside it, but for right now, each campaign is different.If you can go a step further and determine the number of people who took an action that you wanted as a result of getting to the page, you would have your total conversion number. Perhaps you also had a way for people to purchase offline if they quoted a specific code that was only given out in a video... Say you have a conversion rate of 20% of those who landing on the landing page - that gives us 300 conversions and a cost of $334 for each person who converted.Now, how does that compare to what your company pays for each new customer acquisition (i.e. what is your customer worth in the long run, and therefore what are you willing to spend to get that customer in the first place?)And how does this compare to what you would normally pay per person to see your message? W[...]

How to Measure Reach and Quantify Your Social Media Campaigns - Part Two


Part One of this post identified the three main elements that are required to create a Reach formula. I’ll now discuss how to get at each of these numbers.Conversations/MetricsThis needs to be done through the use of tools and alerts, a lot of searching and a lot of man-hours, at least until someone can automate it. Pick a timeframe to start from, like around a campaign launch, for example.a. Twitter Search allows you to create a feed for a particular name/comment/word, etc. Don't just think about your Twitter handle here; think about your brand and how customers and clients refer to you, including the name of your campaign or product.b. Google Alerts Rinse. Repeat as above. Except I find you need to be more specific with this one. *NoteOnce the first two are set up, it should be a little easier to get that information. For the next two, you will need to pick a timeframe to start from, otherwise you can search a few years back in some cases. Make sure you also copy down the links of the blogs on a separate worksheet. c. Blog Searches. There's a variety of tools such as Google Blog Search, Blog Search Engine and the Blog Catalog are good examples to start with. You can also use Technorati, but personally I don't find it picks up a lot of things, though it should make the list.d. Facebook and Myspace: Search for your company or key products. Look for groups listed that have to do with your company or product (and omit internal ones).Open your spreadsheet and start adding up numbers for each of the four areas within this metric. Include everything in that timeframe and/or related to that campaign or product - even if it's negative, it's still conversation. You can make notes somewhere of the negative stuff and go back to it later to determine how best to address it.Now that conversation is out of the way, let's look at: SharingAdd This is the most simplistic of measurement tools to track where your users are sharing your articles, but it requires the people sharing to use those buttons on your site.A much more complete option that doesn't rely on people using the share buttons on your site is my new favourite plug in for Google Analytics - GreaseMonkey. Yes the downside is you must have GA and Firefox. I can't sum it up any better than this: "Not only will it pull the social media metrics right into Google Analytics Content Detail reports automatically, but the icons are interactive." Depending on which analytic system you use, there may be a plug in for that, or one not too far on the horizon - because you can't beat this in my humble opinion...Again, grab the information for the entire time frame and total up the number of shares and enter that into your spreadsheet.Now it's time to play with your Analytics some more. Visits to your site from a social media site Make a list of all the social media sites - or sites you consider to be social media.Then make another list of words found back in the conversation phase that are outside of your traditional SEM budget (this part will get harder as you should be adding in any keywords that your customers use to your SEM campaigns). Now lastly, take your blog list and go through the spreadsheet with all the blog links.Once you have all that in front of you, it's time to do some digging and report pulling in your analytics system.a. Find out how many visitors came to your site from each of the social media sites you listedb. Find out how many people came to your site as a result of the no[...]

How to Measure Reach and Quantify Your Social Media Campaigns - Part One


(image) This is part one in a series of posts on how to effectively measure Reach and begin to quantify your social-media campaigns. It sounds complicated, looks long and a lot of work. It is. But it's also not as hard as you think because the key here is around social-media campaigns; a time frame, not forever, so theoretically you shouldn't have mounds of data to go through - and if you do, the short answer is your campaign was an overwhelming success.

A special h/t to @JeanAnnVK who asked me this question and forced me to put to paper what I’d been thinking about for a while.

In short, Reach is a term often used by marketing folk to understand how many people saw their campaign. Media planners use a measure of Reach/Frequency to let clients know what they will get for their marketing dollar.

I think it's time that Reach came to play at the social-media table.

Reach as a Formula

The way I see it, there are three main parts to Reach in social media
1. Conversations/Mentions
2. Sharing
3. Visits to your site from a social-media site

A brick and mortar visit is great, but as most in the offline world will tell you, that's really hard to gauge without coupons and promotions, and you can't count on it being reliable.

So how do you get this magic number?

Part Two of this series will discuss and detail the three pieces of the puzzle in determining what your Reach is.

Photo Credit: JuliaF;

New Website Launch:


Hot off the Twitter presses and described as HGTV meets TechTV, is not for techies - it's for the average person who has an interest in technology but doesn't quite get the uber-geek terminology we all use.
" is aimed at moms, dads and children who love technology but sometimes think it's too techie. We're here to help people who buy the latest gadgets and then scratch their heads over how to use them to their full potential." - Andy Walker, Executive Producer,
.With social networking sites like Twitter, going mainstream, it's clear that even your grandma is (going to be) wanting to understand a little more about this stuff.

With a team of individuals on board including Amber MacArthur, I don't see how this can be anything but a brilliant success.

Check out the first episode of "On Deck 1", What is below: