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5-minute video introduction to Google Analytics

For those of you who are more than Google Analytics beginners, you can skip this blog post. But if you’re either unfamiliar or just beginning to learn, start here. In the video below, you’ll get a quick, top-level look at what this free online tool offers for measuring your website’s performance. Topics include visitor statistics, traffic sources and keyword data.

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Measure twice, cut once

Pardon the shoptalk, but when brainstorming headlines for this post, I couldn’t help but come back to this adage. I guess it could be all the blue-collar marketing stuff on my plate right now. More than likely though, it’s just the raw power of such a short, memorable line.

In fact, I’d bet my right-handed hammer on it that that’s the reason.

We all know this idea, measuring twice and cutting once, applies when working in the shop, when one needs precise measurements for a plank that needs to be an exact size. But what about other aspects of life and business…like marketing your brand online? How important is measurement amidst the endeavor of effectively marketing a brand on the worldwide interweb?

For the first time in marketing history, we can effectively and efficiently measure just how hard our dollars, and ideas, are working. Google Analytics, awe.sm, Campaign Monitor, firsthand evidence (personally seeing 30 comments on a Facebook post), etc. are just a few cost-effective (if not free) tools that can help us measure our brand’s footprint on the web. Such insights will then act as brand blueprints for marketing moving forward. It’ll help you with decisions like channels, frequency and messaging.

Today, simply being on the web or having your brand online doesn’t get the job done. It might have five or ten years ago. But it doesn’t now. Almost everyone at this point can say their brand is online. It’s the marketers who act as students, constantly learning from what their measurement tools are telling them, that makes for successful case studies. Sadly, there are many that don’t pay attention to the metrics that are sitting there right in front of them. Talk about low-hanging fruit! It really doesn’t get much easier than this. But, more than likely, marketers who aren’t taking advantage of such trends have a good reason. Like they’re just not sure this web stuff is for them or their brand. They’re simply too busy during the day to worry about such trends. They’re a B2B company and the web isn’t a professional-enough approach for them. I say to them, what measurement can you provide on that monthly $2K golf budget? Think about that while sitting in front of your typewriter. Discuss that over your two-martini lunch.

Good measurement drives good content. Good measurement drives steady success. You can either listen to what your consumers are saying, adjusting your message and delivery methods as you evaluate again and again, or you can just keep feeding the monster with your earplugs in. I recommend embarking with the former as revealing successes and failures will help you communicate fancy stuff like ROI at that Monday marketing meeting. This will likely get you a raise which will likely land you in the corner office which will likely get you more vacation days which will likely provide you time to search for endangered sea turtles AND build that nonprofit you’ve been thinking about which will…you get the point. From the get go, with good measurement, you’ll look, and you’ll be marketing, really smart. You really can’t take your brand digital without it.

 

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Incredible PlanetTran gets unbelievably digital

I know it’s awfully early to be checking the odometer of their success, but green transportation company PlanetTran gets a Facebook thumbs up from this guy (that’s me for those confused). Sure, they’ve proven themselves over the past few years with their basic level stuff, but it’s their recent focus on building their brand digitally that gets an upward pointing digit (get your head out of the gutter) from yours truly.

This was all detailed in a recent story from one of my favorite pubs – good ‘ol Fast Company.

Things I love about what they’re doing? Hmmm…let’s see.

There’s the Wi-Fi ready hybrids which are cool. And the easy online booking that’s, well, easy. And then there’s the Tweet-a-ride functionality that lets clients tweet their location and destination for immediate service.

But that’s not what gets me excited.

Instead, I love their reasoning and strategy behind it all. I love that they saw a need and nailed the solution. I love that they’ve architected a brand that is flexible enough to take advantage of emerging channels and opportunities of engagement. I love that they know their audience, they know their goals and that they’ve implemented a business strategy using tools we all have, online tools available to everyone, to deliver an absolute, kick-ass experience for their clients.

Fast Company says it best. Would you rather hail a cab in the rain or order one more drink while you wait for your cab to wait for you? Because that’s a choice you have now. We’re in an eerily Darwinian era of customer service. The smart brands are recognizing this. The smart brands are adjusting. The smart brands will survive.

PlanetTran will be making headlines for years to come – I’d bet my cab fare on it. Three honks for them. Keep on toolin’ on.

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Selling digital to the boss man

“I just don’t think it’s relevant,” says CEO Phil N. Thablank. Well, if it’s digital marketing you’re talking about Mr. Thablank, you’re wrong. Dead friggin’ wrong. It’s relevant. And millions of web users a day say so. But, that might not be enough to convince the shrewd Mr. Thablank when it comes to best building […]

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Design your website for engagement and conversions


The days of the informational, brochure-style website have come and gone. You site is unlikely to bring you success if it fails to give your audience valuable content that matches exactly what they’re seeking. And that content better be delivered quickly. Furthermore, the modern website visitor wants and expects to have a voice online. So if your site is nothing more than a one-way communication channel through which you’re speaking to your audience and not listening back, your visitor is probably gone in 10 seconds, digesting better information on your top competitor’s site.

So what does it take to create an engaging, conversion-oriented website? Here are a few smart places to start:

  • Well-branded
  • Balance brand voice and SEO
  • Engaging content
  • Simple and intuitive navigation
  • Calls to action
I’m going to illustrate each of these points with examples from a site we launched earlier this year for a network of physicians in Florida – Baptist Medical Group.

Well-branded

The basic principals of design always apply. Being “well-branded” doesn’t just mean slapping your logo on the corner of every page. It means integrating your site with all of your other marketing communications. It means consistency in visual presentation, messaging and calls to action. If you removed your logo from the piece, would your audience still know it’s you? If the answer is no, it probably means you have some more work to do. With Baptist Medical Group, we focused on creating a strong and consistent brand image across all media, from print ads to billboards to their website.

well-branded website

Balance brand voice and SEO

Copywriters today have a whole new responsibility. In fact, their job is twice as tough as it was a few years ago. Writing great copy for digital media now requires not only the ability to learn the ins and out of a company and to communicate that efficiently, but also an understanding of search engine optimization best practices. Google wants to serve up the best possible results when you search, and as a result, those keywords and phrases need to be in your website’s content. But Google is also smart, and always getting smarter. Google recognizes when sites are intentionally over-stuffed with keywords and less valuable to searchers. So those sites get penalized in search results. Brand voice is as important as ever, but search engine optimizing your site is really important too. The best digital copywriters know that a balance must exist, and are skilled in creating content that fills both needs. See how we created a balance of Google-friendly (yellow highlight) and branded (green highlight) material below.

balance brand voice and seo

Engaging content

You can keyword-stuff your site all you want, write paragraphs of mission statement material, and fill pages with propaganda about how great you are. But in the end, you have to ask yourself one fundamental question: DOES MY AUDIENCE CARE? If you’re not giving them information that’s designed to help them solve a problem or fill a need, why are you putting it there at all? Put yourself in their shoes and decide what content has real value. Then weed out the fluff.

And in regard to authoring content, you don’t have to be alone. Consider granting your audience a voice. Not only does it show them you value their feedback and opinions, but it builds new, authentic material on your site. For Baptist Medical group, we gave patients a chance to review their doctors right there on the doctors’ profile pages. The overwhelmingly positive response has provided validation in the public eye for the organization.

engaging website content

Simple and intuitive navigation

Your website’s navigation should be organized and displayed with a well-planned hierarchy in mind. If your site is 10 pages in size, that doesn’t mean you have to list those 10 page names side-by-side across the top of the page. Instead, your navigation should be intuitively organized to both help your visitor quickly find what they’re looking for, and to direct them where you want them to go.

Early in the development process, our client communicated to us the importance of helping their patients find doctors and practices, as well as helping them make appointments online. Below, you’ll see how along the top of the page we made these items priority. And once the website visitor arrives on a doctor office page, they’re given links to related content, including patient paperwork for that office and profiles of the physicians who work there.

simple and intuitive website navigation

Calls to action

If you’ve made it this far and your visitor is engaged, why not ask them to do something before they leave? What are you trying to accomplish with your website? In the case of Baptist Medical Group, we used action statements like “request an appointment”, “get our e-newsletter” and “download new-patient paperwork” to guide the visitor toward actions that would lead to key goal conversions.

website calls to action

Your website should be one of your strongest business tools. Make sure it’s designed accordingly.

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