The Importance of Pairing Analytics with Engagement

When was the last time you took a look at your analytics dashboard? I mean a truly in-depth look?

Sure, all those high-performing landing pages and conversion numbers are great — but there’s something your analytics isn’t showing you —

Engagement.

“Well, that’s not true”, you insist. “I can see how many users clicked on this link or bought that product and ultimately converted into paying customers — isn’t that a form of engagement?”

The problem with analytics is the more we know, the more we realize we don’t know — and “engagement” is one of those elusive quasi-metrics marketers keep chasing after, as if to hold it up as the ultimate measure of a site’s success.

We can tie it to different data-backed metrics, but they don’t really give us the full picture. They tell us that the customer clicked on this, or bought that, but they don’t tell us anything about the customer experience that we’re all so keen to improve upon.

Avinash Kaushik, Digital Marketing Evangelist at Google, explains it this way:

“The reason engagement has not caught on like wild fire (except in white papers and analyst reports and pundit posts) is that it is a “heart” metric we are trying to measure with “head” data, and engagement is such a[n] utterly unique feeling for each website that it will almost always have a unique definition for each and every website.”

Analytics are Meaningless, Unless…

Unless you tie them to something that matters. You can think of analytics like the “Check Engine” light on your car. It tells you that something is wrong, but it’s up to you to fix the problem. Analytics give you raw numbers for different touch-points and informs you, but they won’t adjust for you if, for example, you see a drop off in your conversion funnel. That’s all on you.

No pressure, right?

Of course, by the same token, you can’t have engagement without the data to back it up. Otherwise you’ll never know which channel delivers the best ROI or which landing page is converting the highest. Analytics and engagement are not standalone silos that are independent of each other. They need to be able to mesh together in a way that not only gives you workable data, but makes that data actionable.

How to Correctly Measure Engagement

So if analytics give you the raw numbers, how do you actually measure engagement? As every site has a different purpose and different end goal, there is no “one size fits all” blanket metric that engagement can substitute for.

You can’t tie it to click-throughs because they don’t tell you what happened after the click. And you can’t pin engagement on conversions either because you’ll be continually moving the goalposts as to what a conversion actually is as the customer progresses through your funnel.

As Kaushik advises, you need to boil down “engagement” into what it truly is — by asking why your website exists. At its core, your website has a unique purpose, and properly defining that purpose and then defining which metrics lend themselves to it are going to make your marketing life a whole lot easier (and more measurable!)

You can look at key analytics data to help you get a better, data-backed picture of your customer engagement, using things like customer retention, number of unique visits and how recent they are, as well as regular customer surveys and market research. But again, you’re trying to apply quantitative data to a very qualitative metric, so you’ll still be getting pieces of the puzzle rather than seeing the full picture.

Fortunately, you can have both your analytics and your engagement metrics working together to provide you with the kinds of findings you need to optimize your business growth even further.

Kissmetrics: The Best of Both Worlds

There are three key parts to Kissmetrics that helps marketing and product teams engage and grow their customer base.

  1. Analyze: This contains reporting tools like Funnel, Cohort, A/B testing, and the soon-to-be-released Activity Report. Use these tools to track and analyze user behavior.
  2. Populations: Keep track of your user base by viewing how many users are in a “Population“. Quickly and easily know if signups are increasing, if more users are engaged than 90 days ago, and much more. Check out this video to learn more:
  3. Campaigns: Where the rubber meets the road. After tracking behavior in Analyze and Populations, send behavior-based messages to users to nudge them towards conversion.

We call our platform Customer Engagement Automation, or CEA if you’re into acronyms.

With CEA you’ll be able to measure, track and act upon customer-based behaviors. See what a customer or user is doing with our reporting tools, and provide a “nudge” with behavior-based messaging.

There’s no need to export your data into a third party tool to analyze it — the platform handles all of that for you. You get the data you need in order to make confident marketing decisions, along with the measurable customer engagement tools that move your business forward — all in one streamlined, highly efficient package.

What’s more, you don’t even need any third party integrations to make Campaigns and our other suite of tools work for you. But Kissmetrics does play nice with others, by integrating with all your favorite tools including Woocommerce, Salesforce, Shopify, Optimizely, and more.

So stop digging through your analytics trying to find those elusive nuggets of “customer engagement” and start focusing on the metrics that matter. Because your data lives within the Kissmetrics platform, you’ll discover all kinds of powerful insights that analytics alone can’t provide. And when analytics and engagement are both working together like a finely oiled machine, there’s nothing stopping you from taking your business to the next level — full speed ahead.

Have you used Kissmetrics in your own business? We’d love to hear about your experience with the platform. Which engagement metrics have you found best reflect your business goals and objectives? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

About the Authors: Sherice Jacob helps businesses improve website design and increase conversions with user-focused design, compelling copywriting and smart analytics. Learn more at iElectrify and get your free conversion checklist and web copy tune-up.

Zach Bulygo (Twitter) is the Blog Manager for Kissmetrics.

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[FIRST LOOK] MarTech agenda is live!

I’m excited to share the MarTech agenda, featuring more than 30 sessions and presentations from 40 marketing leaders. If you’re passionate about marketing, technology and management practices that deliver business results, then you won’t want to miss this event, October 2-4 in Boston. The...

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.
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7 Ways to Find Readers and Subscribers When No One Knows You Yet

"You don't have to just wait for your audience to stumble across you." – Sonia Simone

The early days of a new blog, podcast, or video channel are actually a sort of magical time.

It’s quiet. No one has shown up yet. You can say or do nearly anything. You have the opportunity to experiment and play without fear.

And, let’s face it … we all want to get past it as quickly as humanly possible.

While I truly would encourage you to stop and smell those roses, I also appreciate that we start websites because we want to build and serve audiences.

If you have something cooking and you’d like to accelerate the process of pulling your audience together, here are seven things I’ve found useful for my own projects.

Before we start on that, though, you must absolutely understand who you want to serve. What they believe, what they fear, what they know, what they don’t know. Keep digging and keep researching until you have someone in mind who feels like a genuine individual person.

Once you have a vibrant Who in mind, let’s get to work building an audience of them.

#1: Be ready for the traffic you get

At the beginning, when we’re squeaking along with just a few site visitors, it’s particularly important to capture every little scrap of attention we can.

So before you start trying tactics to get more new visitors, make sure that:

  • You have at least a few interesting other bits of content for visitors to look at
  • Your site doesn’t look like a dog’s breakfast
  • You have a good way to capture visitor email addresses

If you’re making something interesting, you may well find that those first subscribers go on to become some of your most loyal fans. Give them a way to stay in touch by offering a smart email subscription that delivers plenty of value.

You’re not going to get a zillion visitors in the early days. But if you can spark and maintain solid relationships with the ones you do get, you’ll start to pick up momentum.

#2: Answer the right questions

Once you (truly, madly, deeply) understand your Who, you’re ready to think about how to best serve them.

One time-honored tactic comes from sales consultant Marcus Sheridan — answer every question you’ve ever seen, received, or heard of in your topic.

The idea isn’t to write a 150,000-word manual. Instead, make each answer a single blog post — and keep the answers simple and useful.

This does a few things for you:

  • It gets you past that dread of the “blank page.” Answering questions is pretty straightforward.
  • It reveals any knowledge gaps that you need to work on.
  • It spurs you to head out into the digital world and start hunting for those questions. That’s a great way to learn a lot about your audience.
  • It creates a steady stream of fresh content. This is helpful for search engine optimization, but, more importantly, it makes your site interesting for human beings.

Figure out a calendar you can stick to for these. Since they’re fairly easy to create, you might publish two of them a week for six months or more. Every other week, swap in a more in-depth article that’s got more meat to it.

You may want to have a few of these done in advance, because I promise you’ll have days when even a 10-minute post is going to be tough to get created and published.

This is also a great way for you to start developing good publishing habits.

I refer folks all the time to Pamela Wilson’s post on publishing one strong piece of content a week, as a model for the steps you want to go through. These quick Q&A posts don’t need as much promotion, but it’s still a good opportunity to practice your process on lower-risk content.

#3: Do one epic thing

If you want influencers to link to you, social media darlings to share you, and potential customers to connect with you, you have to do something to deserve all of that attention.

You have to do something epic.

You might be epically good at what you do. You might be able to pull off some kind of epic stunt.

But most likely, your venture into the realm of epic is going to involve creating a seriously good piece of content.

Boring blog posts, weak videos, or copycat podcast episodes won’t cut it. (We already knew that, right?)

Not every piece of content is going to be a home run. But, at least once in a while, you need to swing for the fences.

Make time regularly to create and publish content that’s more thorough, or more creative — or maybe more innovative, empathetic, or far-reaching.

You’ll create a few near-misses before you come up with one that’s genuinely epic. So you should probably get started on those early attempts. Maybe today.

#4: Be a social butterfly

You might love social media, or you might avoid it like the zombie apocalypse. Either way, it’s a good place to look for new connections.

When you’re growing your audience, schedule one or two short sessions on one relevant social platform every day.

Most likely, it will be a combination of those.

If you’re trying to get a site off the ground, you don’t have hours every day to waste on Facebook. But two well-planned, 10-minute sessions every day can do you a world of good.

Facebook is the biggest dog at the moment, but it isn’t the only option. Instagram has been showing a lot of promise lately, and for the right business, Pinterest can be a winner. And for those with B2B products and services, LinkedIn is refreshingly drama-free — and a place where people expect to do business.

If you have trouble with keeping yourself to short sessions, consider a productivity app to help out.

And don’t fall into the trap of building a giant community on a social platform — and neglecting your own site. Your time is typically better spent optimizing your content to get more shares and building up a good volume of high-value content.

#5: Take one controversial stand

We all know that one person on social media who flips the table over every irritation or slight.

That’s exhausting and counterproductive.

But there’s a word for people who never take a difficult stand, never ruffle any feathers, and never speak out:

Boring.

Whether or not you overtly address politics is up to you. But, as Brian Clark likes to say, “This is the internet — there’s potential for controversy in any strong statement.”

Whether your niche is fitness, dog training, finance, parenting, or knitting — there are fiercely passionate camps around certain topics.

Do some real research. Question your own biases. Weigh the evidence and consider other points of view. Be willing to be swayed by reliable evidence that contradicts your assumptions.

And once you feel confident that your position is grounded with solid evidence, take your stand in the camp you believe is right.

You can literally enrage some people by asserting that the earth is round.

Trying to placate the ignorant doesn’t change the roundness of the earth.

Speak up.

(By the way, if you click the link above, how cool would it be to have a Science Emergency Defense Plan with NdGT on tap.)

#6: Buy a little traffic with money

So if you have a steady, consistent stream of useful material (your question and answer content), along with a few epic pieces, and you’ve taken a stand in your topic … is there anything else to do to get the ball rolling?

You can always try buying a bit of traffic with social media ads.

This is a game with rules that change almost daily, but it’s a game worth playing. Pick the most financially viable platform of the moment (right now it’s Facebook) and buy a little bit of traffic.

“A little bit” is not $1,000 worth of traffic. It’s not $100. Maybe spend $10 this week. And, if budget permits, $10 next week.

Think “risking your Frappuccino,” not “risking your mortgage.”

Learning to buy small amounts of traffic will give your momentum a bit of a push. It will also teach you all kinds of useful things that you’ll be glad you understand when you get more successful or have an offer you’d like to promote.

#7: Buy a little more traffic with time

The other way to “buy” some traffic is to put time and energy into writing guest post content for other sites. You may also find it valuable to appear on other people’s podcasts.

Like #6, this makes sense once you’ve got something worth checking out on your own site.

Guest posting broadens your audience and gives you a great opportunity to form relationships with other web publishers. It can also have nice SEO benefits … but that typically comes down the line, when your site’s a little more mature.

Remember to only submit excellent material for guest posts. It just isn’t smart to show less-than-great work on a larger stage.

Where are you on your journey?

Do you have all the traffic and subscribers you want? Still working on it? Found any great strategies for building an audience in the early days?

Let us know in the comments! :)

The post 7 Ways to Find Readers and Subscribers When No One Knows You Yet appeared first on Copyblogger.

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Small business SEO: Your questions answered

Are you a small business owner looking to get started with SEO? Columnist Marcus Miller has written up this starter guide for beginners outlining what you need to know.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.
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SMX Advanced: A paid search roundup

What are today's cutting-edge PPC strategies? Columnist Andreas Reiffen summarizes a couple of illuminating sessions from the recent SMX Advanced conference.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.
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The Power of Email + The Psychology of Social Proof = The Social Email

Out with the old, and in with the new. That’s the expression. The old? Email marketing. It’s just so 2010. The new? Social…media, proof, marketing.

Just look at the proliferation and popularity of social media platforms – Facebook alone has 1.94 billion monthly active users – and the increasing use of social ads. Facebook again leads the charge, earning $7.857 billion in the first quarter of 2017 from advertising revenue.

So, goodbye email. Hello all things social. That’s the way of the future.

But the thing is, no one told email that it’s past its prime. In fact, it continues to run circles around all other marketing tactics. Email marketing alone drives as much revenue as all other digital channels combined according to a survey of US marketing execs.

The most recent research says there are roughly 3.7 billion email users worldwide (makes Facebook look puny by comparison, no?). We send a collective 269 billion emails each day, and that’s predicted to hit just under 320 billion by 2021.

Email is far from obsolete. It’s far-reaching. It’s effective. And it’s still growing.

email marketing acquisition and retentionImage Source

consumers prefer at least monthly promotional emailImage Source

Email is where it’s at. Still. It’s affordable. It’s easy. It’s fast. It checks all the boxes. It absolutely must be part of your marketing plan.

“If you’re not building an email list, you’re an idiot.” ~ Derek Halpern, Founder of Social Triggers

Harsh, but so very true.

But here’s the kicker: you can make your email marketing – a wonderful tactic all by itself – even better. In the email vs social debate, it’s not an either/or choice.

Use both. Together. Ladies and gentlemen, the social email.

The Power of Social Proof

This is not an article on email marketing best practices, per se. There are plenty of those out there. Instead, we’re going to look at just one tactic. Just one often overlooked strategy you should be using with your email marketing.

Social proof. And it’s a lot more than just social media.

Together, it combines the power and effectiveness of email with the popularity and psychology of social proof. That’s a dynamic duo.

What is Social Proof?

Ever choose a restaurant because of how many rave reviews it had on Yelp, or decided to subscribe to an online business because of the number of fans, likes, or followers they have? That’s social proof in action.

Put simply, people trust people, not ads or self-promotion. We want to see or hear or read about others using, enjoying, and succeeding with a product or service before committing to it ourselves. Safety in numbers.

social proof starsImage Source

It plays off our basic human need to belong. Our behavior is influenced by what the majority is already doing. We want in that group.

Social proof is so compelling that Robert Cialdini made it one of his six “weapons” of persuasion in his landmark book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.

You want that kind of strength in your email campaigns. And you can get it.

Email + Social Proof = The Social Email

Adding a dose of social proof to your emails is easy, and there are many ways you could do it. Finding the right one is a combination of research and testing on your audience.

Ratings, reviews, media logos, testimonials, endorsements, trust badges, shares, social counts, case studies, user-generated content, and more.

To get started, try these 4 workhorses and build from there.

Show Them the Numbers

Everyone gets numbers. Simple. Straightforward. If you have 207,000 subscribers, mention it. If 87% of first-time buyers become repeat customers, tell them. If users save an average of $73/week using your service, highlight it. If you have 22,000 clients, include it in your headline or subject line.

Impressive numbers establish trust, increase your credibility, and appeal to our sense of wanting to belong. Use it.

While you’re at it, make it easy for them to share your email content by including social sharing buttons. Just keep it reasonable: 2-3 seems to be the sweet spot. Too much choice and they won’t bother. Neil Patel saw a 29% decrease in sharing when he went from 3 to 5 sharing buttons.

What’s the Word?

Reviews, ratings, and testimonials are the simplest and most effective way to leverage social proof.

Nearly 70% of Americans turn to review sites when making a purchase decision, while 82% look for recommendations. Remarkably, 84% trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

So include them at the bottom of your email. Use real photos of real people whenever possible. Link to favorable review sites.

You can even feed this machine by using a “Review This Item” link in confirmation and receipt emails. 70% will leave a review if asked according to BrightLocal.

The Halo Effect

By including the names and logos of well-known brands that you work with or have used your product, media outlets that have featured you or your brand, or awards you’ve won, you can harness the power of the halo effect.

kissmetrics social proof on homepage

Because people already know and trust recognizable brand names and logos, they tend to have a higher, more positive opinion of you by association. And that typically means more conversions.

It’s best to use logos that link directly to the corresponding article, press release, or website. Quicksprout saw their CVR dip by 9.9% when they removed logos from their site.

The more famous and favorable the logo or award, the stronger the halo effect for you. An “As Featured In” or “Awarded/Certified” blurb in your email signature shows them you’re legit and can be trusted.

The Case Study Nudge

For more expensive purchases or lengthier commitments, you may want to include a case study to give them an extra little push.

Case studies are social proof to the nth degree, your greatest hits, your best side to the camera and best foot forward. It shows exactly how real people or businesses are using your product to wild success in the real world.

Necessary for a one-time purchase of $25? Probably not. But a recurring monthly fee of $399? It provides the extra proof they might need to pull that trigger.

Entice them with a brief headline – “See how I increased ROI by 348% for John Doe” – and link to the case study in your email signature.

Getting It Done

Most email marketing solutions like MailChimp, SmartMail, Kissmetrics Campaigns, and AWeber have tools and integration to make it easy. That’s your best bet.

Plugins can help with social counters, reviews, ratings, and social sharing.

Analytics can provide conversion and traffic numbers.

An email signature generator like these from Hubspot or Exclaimer can simplify including everything you want.

Use screen capture services like Skitch.

The tools are available. It’s up to you to find and use them in these and other ways. Make it a core strategy on your email channel. Look to others for inspiration.

Exceedingly effective and incredibly irresistible. That’s the end result of email and social proof.

About the Author: Daniel Kohn is the CEO and co-founder of SmartMail, a company that helps E-commerce stores and online retailers increase sales, average order value, and lifetime customer value through email. Download SmartMail’s 4 highest converting email templates to help jumpstart your E-commerce email marketing program.

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How to Build a Better WordPress Website … One Week at a Time

"It can be scary to put your story out there on the web. It’s also empowering." – Jerod Morris

What is the key to building a better website?

Well, you first need an idea. And it needs to be useful.

Next, you need to start with the right stuff, the right raw materials. You clicked on the headline of this post, so perhaps you’re already using WordPress or strongly considering it. Good choice. Continue down that path.

After that, you have to be willing to hit Publish. Whether you’re starting your own food blog, marketing your copywriting business, or building an audience for your coaching services … you have to put your story out there on the web for all to see. That can be scary. It’s also empowering.

What comes next?

Find a path for continuous improvement

A few years ago, I wrote an article on Copyblogger titled How to Immediately Become a More Productive (and Better) Writer. A book I had just read called One Small Step Can Change Your Life by Robert Maurer inspired that post.

The book takes its cue from the Japanese concept of kaizen, which means continuous improvement — or, to be more specific, the process of achieving sustained success through small, steady steps.

This concept spoke to me then. It continues to speak to me now.

It’s so easy, especially in today’s environment of ubiquitous distraction, to get lost in big ideas and forget about the inevitable series of small steps it takes to achieve them.

I am easily prone to this. I’ve learned this about myself. I have to be intentional about pulling myself down out of the clouds so that I can actually plant my feet firmly on the ground and put one foot in front of the other … then the other … then the other.

Steps.

One at a time.

That is the only way to achieve continuous improvement — the only way to take a big, grand idea and bring it to fruition.

Now, with that as our foundation, let’s talk about your website …

The four pillars of a successful WordPress website

Building a powerful website that does everything a website should do — help you earn authority, build an audience, and drive business — is a big task.

There is a lot that goes into a successful WordPress website.

Some of the choices you have to make are big decisions, like where to host your site and what theme to use.

Other choices are smaller, more subtle, like what color to use for your call-to-action buttons and whether you should use “How to …” in two consecutive blog post headlines or change one for the sake of variety.

All of your decisions, big and small, can be categorized in one of the following four buckets:

  • Content
  • Design
  • Technology
  • Strategy

They are the four pillars of a successful WordPress website.

If your website lacks any one of these elements, it might be okay, but it’s probably not optimized to help you achieve your goals. You could also be wasting time, effort, and money.

Think about it this way:

If you have useful content, a good design, and a strong technology foundation, but no strategy … your website’s “success” might actually be misaligned with your business goals. You’re not maximizing your efforts.

And if your website lacks two of these elements, it might fail altogether.

Consider a website with useful content that adheres to a smart, cohesive strategy. That’s a good start. But if the design is ill-fitting, and if the technology is lacking (think: poor hosting and security warnings), then visitors are unlikely to stay long … if they ever reach your site at all.

The rub in this example, of course, is that you can’t really have a smart, cohesive strategy with design and technology lagging far behind. And given how intertwined content and design are, content with poor design won’t be nearly as useful as it could be.

Point being: they all fit together.

Now let’s marry together the two big ideas we’ve explored so far in this post …

How to apply kaizen to the four pillars of your website’s success

You can’t build a successful website with one inspired 48-hour work binge over a weekend.

You can’t even do it by taking an entire month, or even three or four, to focus on nothing but your website. Not if you want your success to sustain beyond those three or four months.

Sure, through evergreen content, autoresponders, and the power of digital products, you can (and should) do a lot to earn ongoing, recurring, some might say “passive” revenue … but you’ll also experience diminishing returns if you aren’t:

  • Marketing your ideas
  • Tweaking or reworking your design to keep it fresh
  • Updating WordPress and plugins to keep them secure
  • Staying vigilant about your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats

In other words, you can’t just set-and-forget your content, design, technology, and strategy.

You develop, build, and launch your website in incremental steps … and then you continue taking incremental steps to avoid stagnation and drive your site toward continuous improvement.

If that sounds like a lot of time and effort, good. Because it is.

But it’s worth it.

If you are intentional about avoiding the myopia that so many people approach online business with, then the time and effort, along with the money, that you invest into your website will not be an expense. It will be an investment. And the investment will pay off.

That said, it’s still smart to save yourself little bits of time and effort where you can. 😉

Which is why we created a new podcast.

Introducing the Sites podcast

We want to help you make continuous improvements to your WordPress site while saving you the time and effort it requires to find all the best tips, techniques, and important developments that are out there. It can be overwhelming trying to keep up, and you already have enough work to do.

So let us curate the information, and then you decide what’s relevant to your situation, how you want to apply it, and when.

One tip at a time. One step at a time.

Continuous improvement.

Sites is a podcast that delivers timely insight on the four pillars of a successful WordPress website that I described above: content, design, technology, strategy.

New episodes publish on Tuesdays. They are short and get straight to the point, with each episode focusing on an individual pillar. And they all include one hyper-specific call to action to help you take that kaizen-inspired next step.

Click here to subscribe to Sites on Apple Podcasts

You can also view the first four episode pages here:

And if podcasts aren’t your thing, we also have Sites Weekly — a curated email newsletter delivered to your inbox on Wednesdays. Each edition delivers four links, one focused on each pillar of a successful website. Click here to subscribe for free.

Together, let’s create better websites … one week at a time.

Keep building.

The post How to Build a Better WordPress Website … One Week at a Time appeared first on Copyblogger.

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