Tag Archive | "Track"

How To Track Your Customer Journeys in Real-Time to Empower Your Sales Team

The four pillars of measuring marketing ROI are key to improving sales says Jonathan Rowe, Chief Marketing Officer at nCino. “It’s really understanding your costs specific to the activities you are doing in marketing, tying those activities to your sales opportunities, and then measuring results.”

Rowe says that taking in data on sales prospects and making it available to salespeople can drive results: “When you are bringing all of the data into one real-time place, then you can start empowering salespeople to use the data. You can track your customer journeys in real-time.”

Jonathan Rowe, Chief Marketing Officer at nCino, discusses how to use data to track and improve marketing ROI in an interview with James Carbary, the founder of Sweet Fish Media on the B2B Growth Podcast:

The Four Pillars of Measuring Marketing ROI

Knowing Your Costs

There are four variables that we use to measure ROI that have proven very successful for us. It starts with your costs. Whether it’s headcount costs where you are investing in people, whether it’s the cost of investing in PR, whether you are doing webinars or podcasts, whether you are advertising, etc., it’s really making sure that you have a good understanding of here’s where I’m actually spending my money and how much. So it starts with your costs.

Identifying Marketing Activities

The next step from there is here are all the different activities that we are spending money on. It’s advertising, attending conferences, or doing podcasts. Here are the activities. You have your costs and you have your activities.

Connecting Activities to Sales Opportunities

Then the next big step is connecting those activities to actual sales opportunities. As a B2B marketing organization at nCino, we are selling and marketing to banks. Whenever we initiate a conversation with a financial institution it often takes us 9-12 months from that initial interaction to hopefully when they become a nCino customer.

Over that 12 months, there are hopefully going to be a lot of different marketing activities where that bank and different individuals at the bank interact with nCino. We want to be able to capture that information. So we take the activities that we are doing and we actually connect them to a specific sales opportunity at the financial institution and the individual at the financial institution.

ROI: Measuring Results

The fourth pillar is the results, where we actually turn that prospect into a nCino customer. Then we can say that marketing played this role. At the end of the day, we are in a business where it’s more than marketing. We have sales groups and others involved.

When we sign a financial institution to become a nCino customer I’m always very proud to say here are all the different marketing activities (that led to the sale). Whether it’s white papers and thought leadership or press releases or attending a conference in a booth, how all those activities played an influential role.

It’s really understanding your costs specific to the activities you are doing in marketing, tying those activities to your sales opportunities, and then measuring results.

You Have to Be Committed to Data Analytics

One, you have to really be committed to data analytics. You want to have that marketing driven organization knowing it’s going to take time and costs to get there. Then two, you want to make smart decisions around the technology you use because connecting all of the dots around your data is probably the most important thing. I want to be able to go onto two or three systems which are what we have at nCino and be able to look and see all that data together.

I can see, for example, that Mary who works at a financial institution that we are talking to was on our website yesterday, that she looked at all of these different pages, that she spent seven or eight minutes on each page, and she actually downloaded one of our whitepapers. Then I find out that we are going to see Mary at a banking conference that we are going to in a few weeks.

With all of that automation, I know that the salesperson will log in and see all of that information on the financial institution and Mary.

Track You Customer Journeys in Real-Time

That sales rep will have literally on their phone before they have that face to face conversation at the conference all of Mary’s interactions. Some things you probably don’t want to tell Mary, which is hey, by the way, we’ve been tracking all of your website activity on the nCino website. But what you can have is a conversation around the fact that she downloaded our artificial intelligence whitepaper around banking and you can talk about that.

When you have fewer systems and you’ve made the commitment and you’ve gotten to the place where you are bringing all of the data into one real-time place, then you can start empowering people to use the data. You can track your customer journeys in real-time.

>> Listen to the complete B2B Growth podcast interview.

The post How To Track Your Customer Journeys in Real-Time to Empower Your Sales Team appeared first on WebProNews.

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Geomodified Searches, Localized Results, and How to Track the Right Keywords and Locations for Your Business – Next Level

Posted by jocameron

Welcome to the newest installment of our educational Next Level series! In our last episode, our fearless writer Jo Cameron shared how to uncover low-value content that could hurt your rankings and turn it into something valuable. Today, she’s returned to share how to do effective keyword research and targeting for local queries. Read on and level up!


All around the world, people are searching: X sits at a computer high above the city and searches dreamily for the best beaches in Ko Samui. Y strides down a puddle-drenched street and hastily types good Japanese noodles into an expensive handheld computer. K takes up way too much space and bandwidth on the free wireless network in a chain coffee house, which could be located just about anywhere in the world, and hunts for the best price on a gadgety thing.

As we search, the engines are working hard to churn out relevant results based on what we’re searching, our location, personalized results, and just about anything else that can be jammed into an algorithm about our complex human lives. As a business owner or SEO, you’ll want to be able to identify the best opportunities for your online presence. Even if your business doesn’t have a physical location and you don’t have the pleasure of sweeping leaves off your welcome mat, understanding the local landscape can help you hone in on keywords with more opportunity for your business.

In this Next Level post, we’ll go through the different types of geo-targeted searches, how to track the right keywords and locations for your business in Moz Pro, and how to distribute your physical local business details with Moz Local. If you’d like to follow along with this tutorial, get started with a free 30-day trial of Moz Pro:

Follow along with a free trial

Whether your customer is two streets away or gliding peacefully above us on the International Space Station, you must consider how the intertwining worlds of local and national search impact your online presence.


Geomodified searches vs. geolocated searches

First, so you can confidently stride into your next marketing meeting and effortlessly contribute to a related conversation on Slack, let’s take a quick look at the lingo.

Geomodified searches include the city/neighborhood in the search term itself to target the searcher’s area of interest.

You may have searched some of these examples yourself in a moment of escapism: “beaches in Ko Samui,” “ramen noodles in Seattle,” “solid state drive London,” or “life drawing classes London.”

Geomodified searches state explicit local intent for results related to a particular location. As a marketer or business owner, tracking geomodified keywords gives you insight into how you’re ranking for those searches specifically.

Geolocated searches are searches made while the searcher is physically located in a specific area — generally a city. You may hear the term “location targeting” thrown about, often in the high-roller realm of paid marketing. Rather than looking at keywords that contain certain areas, this type of geotargeting focuses on searches made within an area.

Examples might include: “Japanese noodles,” “Ramen,” “solid state drive,” or “coffee,” searched from the city of Seattle, or the city of London, or the city of Tokyo.

Of course, the above ways of searching and tracking are often intertwined with each other. Our speedy fingers type demands, algorithms buzz, and content providers hit publish and bite their collective nails as analytics charts populate displaying our progress. Smart SEOs will likely have a keyword strategy that accounts for both geomodified and geolocated searches.

Researching local keywords

The more specific your keywords and the location you’re targeting, generally, the less data you’ll find. Check your favorite keyword research tool, like Keyword Explorer, and you’ll see what I’m talking about. In this example, I’m looking at search volume data for “japanese noodles” vs. “japanese noodles london.”

“Japanese noodles”

“Japanese noodles London”

So, do I toss this geomodified keyword? Hold on, buddy — while the Monthly Volume decreases, take a look at that Difficulty score — it increases. It’s an easy search term to dismiss, since the search volume is so low, but what this tells me is that there’s more to the story.

A search for “japanese noodles” is too broad to divine much of the searcher’s intent — do they want to make Japanese noodles? Learn what Japanese noodles are? Find an appetizing image?… and so on and so forth. The term itself doesn’t give us much context to work with.

So, while the search volume may be lower, a search for “japanese noodles london” means so much more — now we have some idea of the searcher’s intent. If your site’s content matches up with the searcher’s intent, and you can beat your competition in the SERPs, you could find that the lower search volume equates to a higher conversion rate, and you could be setting yourself up for a great return on investment.

Digging into hyperlocal niches is a challenge. We’ve got some handy tips for investigating hyperlocal keywords, including using similar but slightly larger regions, digging into auto-suggest to gather keyword ideas, and using the grouping function in Keyword Explorer.

Testing will be your friend here. Build a lovely list, create some content, and then test, analyze, and as the shampoo bottle recommends, rinse and repeat.


Localized ranking signals and results

When search engines impress us all by displaying a gazillion results per point whatever of a second, they aren’t just looking inwards at their index. They’re looking outwards at the searcher, figuring out the ideal pairing of humans and results.

Local rankings factors take into consideration things like proximity between the searcher and the business, consistency of citations, and reviews, to name just a few. These are jumbled together with all the other signals we’re used to, like authority and relevancy. The full and glorious report is available here: https://moz.com/local-search-ranking-factors

I often find myself returning to the local search ranking factors report because there’s just so much to digest. So go ahead bookmark it in a folder called “Local SEO” for easy reference, and delight in how organized you are.

While you may expect a search for “life drawing” to turn up mostly organic results, you can see the Local Pack is elbowing its way in there to serve up classes near me:

And likewise, you may expect a search for “life drawing london” to show only local results, but lookie here: we’ve also got some top organic results that have targeted “life drawing london” and the local results creep ever closer to the top:

From these examples you can see that localized results can have a big impact on your SEO strategy, particularly if you’re competing with Local Pack-heavy results. So let’s go ahead and assemble a good strategy into a format that you can follow for your business.


Tracking what’s right for your business

With your mind brimming with local lingo, let’s take a look at how you can track the right types of keywords and locations for your business using Moz Pro. I’ll also touch on Moz Local for the brick-and-mortar types.

1. Your business is rocking the online world

Quest: Track your target keywords nationally and keep your eye on keywords dominated by SERP features you can’t win, like Local Packs.

Hey there, w-w-w dot Your Great Site dot com! You’re the owner of a sweet, shiny website. You’re a member of the digital revolution, a content creator, a message deliverer, a gadgety thingy provider. Your customers are primarily online. I mean, they exist in real life too, but they are also totally and completely immersed in the online world. (Aren’t we all?)

Start by setting up a brand-new Moz Pro Campaign for your target location.

Select one of each search engine to track for your location. This is what I like to call the full deck:

Another personal favorite is what I call the “Google Special.” Select Google desktop and Google Mobile for two locations. This is especially handy if you want to track two national locations in a single Campaign. Here I’ve gone with the US and Canada:

I like to track Google Mobile along with Google desktop results. Ideally you want to be performing consistently in both. If the results are hugely disparate, you may need to check that your site is mobile friendly.

Pour all your lovely keywords into the Campaign creation wizard. Turn that keyword bucket upside-down and give the bottom a satisfying tap like a drum:

Where have we found all these lovely keywords? Don’t tell me you don’t know!

Head over to Keyword Explorer and enter your website. Yes, friend, that’s right. We can show you the keywords your site is already ranking for:

I’m going to leave you to have some fun with that, but when you’re done frolicking in keywords you’re ranking for, keywords your competitors are ranking for, and keywords your Mum’s blog is ranking for, pop back and we’ll continue on our quest.

Next: Onward to the SERP features!

SERP features are both a blessing and a curse. Yes, you could zip to the top of page 1 if you’re lucky enough to be present in those SERP features, but they’re also a minefield, as they squeeze out the organic results you’ve worked so hard to secure.

Luckily for you, we’ve got the map to this dastardly minefield. Keep your eye out for Local Packs and Local Teasers; these are your main threats.

If you have an online business and you’re seeing too many local-type SERP features, this may be an indication that you’re tracking the wrong keywords. You can also start to identify features that do apply to your business, like Image Packs and Featured Snippets.

When you’re done with your local quest, you can come back and try to own some of these features, just like we explored in a previous Next Level blog post: Hunting Down SERP Features to Understand Intent & Drive Traffic

2. Your business rocks customers in the real world

Quest: Track keywords locally and nationally and hone in on local SERP features + the wonderful world of NAP.

What if you run a cozy little cupcake shop in your cozy little city?

Use the same search engine setup from above, and sprinkle locally tracked keywords into the mix.

If you’re setting up a new Campaign, you can add both national and local keywords like a boss.

You can see I’ve added a mouthwatering selection of keywords in both the National Keywords section and in the Local Keywords field. This is because I want to see if one of my cupcake shop’s landing pages is ranking in Google Desktop, Google Mobile, and Yahoo and Bing, both nationally and locally, in my immediate vicinity of Seattle. Along with gathering comparative national and local ranking data, the other reason to track keywords nationally is so you can see how you’re doing in terms of on-page optimization.

Your path to cupcake domination doesn’t stop there! You’re also going to want to be the big player rocking the Local Pack.

Filter by Local Pack or Local Teaser to see if your site is featured. Keep your eye out for any results marked with a red circle, as these are being dominated by your competitors.

The wonderful world of NAP

As a local business owner, you’ll probably have hours of operation, and maybe even one of those signs that you turn around to indicate whether you’re open or closed. You also have something that blogs and e-commerce sites don’t have: NAP, baby!

As a lingo learner, your lingo learning days are never over, especially in the world of digital marketing (actually, just make that digital anything). NAP is the acronym for business name, address, and phone number. In local SEO you’ll see this term float by more often than a crunchy brown leaf on a cold November morning.

NAP details are your lifeblood: You want people to know them, you want them to be correct, and you want them to be correct everywhere — for the very simple reason that humans and Google will trust you if your data is consistent.

If you manage a single location and decide to go down the manual listing management route, kudos to you, my friend. I’m going to offer some resources to guide you:

3. You manage multiple local businesses with multiple locations

Quest: Bulk-distribute business NAP, fix consistency issues, and stamp out duplicates.

If you are juggling a bunch of locations for your own business, or a client’s, you’ll know that in the world of citation building things can get out of hand pretty gosh-darn quick. Any number of acts can result in your business listing details splitting into multiple fragments, whether you moved locations, inherited a phone number that has an online past, or someone in-house set up your listings incorrectly.

While a single business operating out of a single location may have the choice to manually manage their listing distribution, with every location you add to your list your task becomes exponentially more complex.

Remember earlier, when we talked about those all-important local search ranking factors? The factors that determine local results, like proximity, citation signals, reviews, and so on? Well, now you’ll be really glad you bookmarked that link.

You can do all sorts of things to send appealing local signals to Google. While there isn’t a great deal we can do about proximity right now — people have a tendency to travel where they want to — the foundational act of consistently distributing your NAP details is within your power.

That’s where Moz Local steps in. The main purpose of Moz Local is to help you publish and maintain NAP consistency in bulk.

First, enter your business name and postcode in the free Check Listing tool. Bounce, bounce…

After a few bounces, you’ll get the results:

Moz Local will only manage listings that have been “verified” to prevent spam submissions.

If you’re not seeing what you’d expect in the Check Listing tool, you’ll want to dig up your Google Maps and Facebook Places pages and check them against these requirements on our Help Hub.

When you’re ready to start distributing your business details to our partners, you can select and purchase your listing. You can find out more about purchasing your listing, again on our Help Hub.

Pro Tip: If you have lots of local clients, you’ll probably want to purchase via CSV upload. Follow our documentation to get your CSV all spruced up and formatted correctly.

If tracking your visibility and reputation is high on your to-do list, then you’ll want to look at purchasing your listings at the Professional or Premium level.

We’ll track your local and organic rankings for your Google My Business categories by default, but you can enter your own group of target keywords here. We account for the geographic location of your listings, so be sure to add keywords without any geomodifiers!

If you want to track more keywords, we’ve got you covered. Hop on over to Moz Pro and set up a Campaign like we did in the section above.

4. You’re a dog trainer who services your local area without a storefront

Quest: Help owners of aspiring good dogs find your awesome training skills, even though you don’t have a brick-and-mortar storefront.

At Moz HQ, we love our pooches: they are the sunshine of our lives (as our Instagram feed delightfully confirms). While they’re all good doggos, well-trained pooches have a special place in our hearts.

But back to business. If you train dogs, or run another location-specific business without a shop front, this is called a service-area business (or SAB, another term to add to the new lingo pile).

Start by tracking searches for “dog trainer seattle,” and all the other keywords you discovered in your research, both nationally and locally.

I’ve got my Campaign pulled up, so I’m going to add some keywords and track them nationally and locally.

You may find that some keywords on a national level are just too competitive for your local business. That’s okay! You can refine your list as you go. If you’re happy with your local tracking, then you can remove the nationally tracked keywords from your Campaign and just track your keywords at the local level.

Pro Tip: Remember that if you want to improve your Page Optimization with Moz Pro, you’ll have to have the keyword tracked nationally in your Campaign.

In terms of Moz Local, since accuracy, completeness, and consistency are key factors, the tool pushes your complete address to our partners in order to improve your search ranking. It’s possible to use Moz Local with a service-area business (SAB), but it’s worth noting that some partners do not support hidden addresses. Miriam Ellis describes how Moz Local works with service-area businesses (SABs) in her recent blog post.

Basically, if your business is okay with your address being visible in multiple places, then we can work with your Facebook page, provided it’s showing your address. You won’t achieve a 100% visibility score, but chances are your direct local competitors are in the same boat.


Wrapping up

Whether you’re reaching every corner of the globe with your online presence, or putting cupcakes into the hands of Seattleites, the local SEO landscape has an impact on how your site is represented in search results.

The key is identifying the right opportunities for your business and delivering the most accurate and consistent information to search engines, directories, and your human visitors, too.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


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How to Track Your Local SEO & SEM

Posted by nickpierno

If you asked me, I’d tell you that proper tracking is the single most important element in your local business digital marketing stack. I’d also tell you that even if you didn’t ask, apparently.

A decent tracking setup allows you to answer the most important questions about your marketing efforts. What’s working and what isn’t?

Many digital marketing strategies today still focus on traffic. Lots of agencies/developers/marketers will slap an Analytics tracking code on your site and call it a day. For most local businesses, though, traffic isn’t all that meaningful of a metric. And in many cases (e.g. Adwords & Facebook), more traffic just means more spending, without any real relationship to results.

What you really need your tracking setup to tell you is how many leads (AKA conversions) you’re getting, and from where. It also needs to do so quickly and easily, without you having to log into multiple accounts to piece everything together.

If you’re spending money or energy on SEO, Adwords, Facebook, or any other kind of digital traffic stream and you’re not measuring how many leads you get from each source, stop what you’re doing right now and make setting up a solid tracking plan your next priority.

This guide is intended to fill you in on all the basic elements you’ll need to assemble a simple, yet flexible and robust tracking setup.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is at the center of virtually every good web tracking setup. There are other supplemental ways to collect web analytics (like Heap, Hotjar, Facebook Pixels, etc), but Google Analytics is the free, powerful, and omnipresent tool that virtually every website should use. It will be the foundation of our approach in this guide.

Analytics setup tips

Analytics is super easy to set up. Create (or sign into) a Google account, add your Account and Property (website), and install the tracking code in your website’s template.

Whatever happens, don’t let your agency or developer set up your Analytics property on their own Account. Agencies and developers: STOP DOING THIS! Create a separate Google/Gmail account and let this be the “owner” of a new Analytics Account, then share permission with the agency/developer’s account, the client’s personal Google account, and so on.

The “All Website Data” view will be created by default for a new property. If you’re going to add filters or make any other advanced changes, be sure to create and use a separate View, keeping the default view clean and pure.

Also be sure to set the appropriate currency and time zone in the “View Settings.” If you ever use Adwords, using the wrong currency setting will result in a major disagreement between Adwords and Analytics.

Goals

Once your basic Analytics setup is in place, you should add some goals. This is where the magic happens. Ideally, every business objective your website can achieve should be represented as a goal conversion. Conversions can come in many forms, but here are some of the most common ones:

  • Contact form submission
  • Quote request form submission
  • Phone call
  • Text message
  • Chat
  • Appointment booking
  • Newsletter signup
  • E-commerce purchase

How you slice up your goals will vary with your needs, but I generally try to group similar “types” of conversions into a single goal. If I have several different contact forms on a site (like a quick contact form in the sidebar, and a heftier one on the contact page), I might group those as a single goal. You can always dig deeper to see the specific breakdown, but it’s nice to keep goals as neat and tidy as possible.

To create a goal in Analytics:

  1. Navigate to the Admin screen.
  2. Under the appropriate View, select Goals and then + New Goal.
  3. You can either choose between a goal Template, or Custom. Most goals are easiest to set up choosing Custom.
  4. Give your goal a name (ex. Contact Form Submission) and choose a type. Most goals for local businesses will either be a Destination or an Event.

Pro tip: Analytics allows you to associate a dollar value to your goal conversions. If you can tie your goals to their actual value, it can be a powerful metric to measure performance with. A common way to determine the value of a goal is to take the average value of a sale and multiply it by the average closing rate of Internet leads. For example, if your average sale is worth $ 1,000, and you typically close 1/10 of leads, your goal value would be $ 100.

Form tracking

The simplest way to track form fills is to have the form redirect to a “Thank You” page upon submission. This is usually my preferred setup; it’s easy to configure, and I can use the Thank You page to recommend other services, articles, etc. on the site and potentially keep the user around. I also find a dedicated Thank You page to provide the best affirmation that the form submission actually went through.

Different forms can all use the same Thank You page, and pass along variables in the URL to distinguish themselves from each other so you don’t have to create a hundred different Thank You pages to track different forms or goals. Most decent form plugins for WordPress are capable of this. My favorite is Gravityforms. Contact Form 7 and Ninja Forms are also very popular (and free).

Another option is using event tracking. Event tracking allows you to track the click of a button or link (the submit button, in the case of a web form). This would circumvent the need for a thank you page if you don’t want to (or can’t) send the user elsewhere when they submit a form. It’s also handy for other, more advanced forms of tracking.

Here’s a handy plugin for Gravityforms that makes setting up event tracking a snap.

Once you’ve got your form redirecting to a Thank You page or generating an event, you just need to create a goal in Analytics with the corresponding value.

You can use Thank You pages or events in a similar manner to track appointment booking, web chats, newsletter signups, etc.

Call tracking

Many businesses and marketers have adopted form tracking, since it’s easy and free. That’s great. But for most businesses, it leaves a huge volume of web conversions untracked.

If you’re spending cash to generate traffic to your site, you could be hemorrhaging budget if you’re not collecting and attributing the phone call conversions from your website.

There are several solutions and approaches to call tracking. I use and recommend CallRail, which also seems to have emerged as the darling of the digital marketing community over the past few years thanks to its ease of use, great support, fair pricing, and focus on integration. Another option (so I don’t come across as completely biased) is CallTrackingMetrics.

You’ll want to make sure your call tracking platform allows for integration with Google Analytics and offers something called “dynamic number insertion.”

Dynamic number insertion uses JavaScript to detect your actual local phone number on your website and replace it with a tracking number when a user loads your page.

Dynamic insertion is especially important in the context of local SEO, since it allows you to keep your real, local number on your site, and maintain NAP consistency with the rest of your business’s citations. Assuming it’s implemented properly, Google will still see your real number when it crawls your site, but users will get a tracked number.

Basically, magic.

There are a few ways to implement dynamic number insertion. For most businesses, one of these two approaches should fit the bill.

Number per source

With this approach, you’ll create a tracking number for each source you wish to track calls for. These sources might be:

  • Organic search traffic
  • Paid search traffic
  • Facebook referral traffic
  • Yelp referral traffic
  • Direct traffic
  • Vanity URL traffic (for visitors coming from an offline TV or radio ad, for example)

When someone arrives at your website from one of these predefined sources, the corresponding number will show in place of your real number, wherever it’s visible. If someone calls that number, an event will be passed to Analytics along with the source.

This approach isn’t perfect, but it’s a solid solution if your site gets large amounts of traffic (5k+ visits/day) and you want to keep call tracking costs low. It will do a solid job of answering the basic questions of how many calls your site generates and where they came from, but it comes with a few minor caveats:

  • Calls originating from sources you didn’t predefine will be missed.
  • Events sent to Analytics will create artificial sessions not tied to actual user sessions.
  • Call conversions coming from Adwords clicks won’t be attached to campaigns, ad groups, or keywords.

Some of these issues have more advanced workarounds. None of them are deal breakers… but you can avoid them completely with number pools — the awesomest call tracking method.

Number pools

“Keyword Pools,” as CallRail refers to them, are the killer app for call tracking. As long as your traffic doesn’t make this option prohibitively expensive (which won’t be a problem for most local business websites), this is the way to go.

In this approach, you create a pool with several numbers (8+ with CallRail). Each concurrent visitor on your site is assigned a different number, and if they call it, the conversion is attached to their session in Analytics, as well as their click in Adwords (if applicable). No more artificial sessions or disconnected conversions, and as long as you have enough numbers in your pool to cover your site’s traffic, you’ll capture all calls from your site, regardless of source. It’s also much quicker to set up than a number per source, and will even make you more attractive and better at sports!

You generally have to pay your call tracking provider for additional numbers, and you’ll need a number for each concurrent visitor to keep things running smoothly, so this is where massive amounts of traffic can start to get expensive. CallRail recommends you look at your average hourly traffic during peak times and include ¼ the tally as numbers in your pool. So if you have 30 visitors per hour on average, you might want ~8 numbers.

Implementation

Once you’ve got your call tracking platform configured, you’ll need to implement some code on your site to allow the dynamic number insertion to work its magic. Most platforms will provide you with a code snippet and instructions for installation. If you use CallRail and WordPress, there’s a handy plugin to make things even simpler. Just install, connect, and go.

To get your calls recorded in Analytics, you’ll just need to enable that option from your call tracking service. With CallRail you simply enable the integration, add your domain, and calls will be sent to your Analytics account as Events. Just like with your form submissions, you can add these events as a goal. Usually it makes sense to add a single goal called “Phone Calls” and set your event conditions according to the output from your call tracking service. If you’re using CallRail, it will look like this:

Google Search Console

It’s easy to forget to set up Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools), because most of the time it plays a backseat role in your digital marketing measurement. But miss it, and you’ll forego some fundamental technical SEO basics (country setting, XML sitemaps, robots.txt verification, crawl reports, etc.), and you’ll miss out on some handy keyword click data in the Search Analytics section. Search Console data can also be indispensable for diagnosing penalties and other problems down the road, should they ever pop up.

Make sure to connect your Search Console with your Analytics property, as well as your Adwords account.

With all the basics of your tracking setup in place, the next step is to bring your paid advertising data into the mix.

Google Adwords

Adwords is probably the single most convincing reason to get proper tracking in place. Without it, you can spend a lot of money on clicks without really knowing what you get out of it. Conversion data in Adwords is also absolutely critical in making informed optimizations to your campaign settings, ad text, keywords, and so on.

If you’d like some more of my rantings on conversions in Adwords and some other ways to get more out of your campaigns, check out this recent article :)

Getting your data flowing in all the right directions is simple, but often overlooked.

Linking with Analytics

First, make sure your Adwords and Analytics accounts are linked. Always make sure you have auto-tagging enabled on your Adwords account. Now all your Adwords data will show up in the Acquisition > Adwords area of Analytics. This is a good time to double-check that you have the currency correctly set in Analytics (Admin > View Settings); otherwise, your Adwords spend will be converted to the currency set in Analytics and record the wrong dollar values (and you can’t change data that’s already been imported).

Next, you’ll want to get those call and form conversions from Analytics into Adwords.

Importing conversions in Adwords

Some Adwords management companies/consultants might disagree, but I strongly advocate an Analytics-first approach to conversion tracking. You can get call and form conversions pulled directly into Adwords by installing a tracking code on your site. But don’t.

Instead, make sure all your conversions are set up as goals in Analytics, and then import them into Adwords. This allows Analytics to act as your one-stop-shop for reviewing your conversion data, while providing all the same access to that data inside Adwords.

Call extensions & call-only ads

This can throw some folks off. You will want to track call extensions natively within Adwords. These conversions are set up automatically when you create a call extension in Adwords and elect to use a Google call forwarding number with the default settings.

Don’t worry though, you can still get these conversions tracked in Analytics if you want to (I could make an argument either for or against). Simply create a single “offline” tracking number in your call tracking platform, and use that number as the destination for the Google forwarding number.

This also helps counteract one of the oddities of Google’s call forwarding system. Google will actually only start showing the forwarding number on desktop ads after they have received a certain (seemingly arbitrary) minimum number of clicks per week. As a result, some calls are tracked and some aren’t — especially on smaller campaigns. With this little trick, Analytics will show all the calls originating from your ads — not just ones that take place once you’ve paid Google enough each week.

Adwords might give you a hard time for using a number in your call extensions that isn’t on your website. If you encounter issues with getting your number verified for use as a call extension, just make sure you have linked your Search Console to your Adwords account (as indicated above).

Now you’ve got Analytics and Adwords all synced up, and your tracking regimen is looking pretty gnarly! There are a few other cool tools you can use to take full advantage of your sweet setup.

Google Tag Manager

If you’re finding yourself putting a lot of code snippets on your site (web chat, Analytics, call tracking, Adwords, Facebook Pixels, etc), Google Tag Manager is a fantastic tool for managing them all from one spot. You can also do all sorts of advanced slicing and dicing.

GTM is basically a container that you put all your snippets in, and then you put a single GTM snippet on your site. Once installed, you never need to go back to your site’s code to make changes to your snippets. You can manage them all from the GTM interface in a user-friendly, version-controlled environment.

Don’t bother if you just need Analytics on your site (and are using the CallRail plugin). But for more robust needs, it’s well worth considering for its sheer power and simplicity.

Here’s a great primer on making use of Google Tag Manager.

UTM tracking URLs & Google Campaign URL Builder

Once you’ve got conversion data occupying all your waking thoughts, you might want to take things a step further. Perhaps you want to track traffic and leads that come from an offline advertisement, a business card, an email signature, etc. You can build tracking URLs that include UTM parameters (campaign, source, and medium), so that when visitors come to your site from a certain place, you can tell where that place was!

Once you know how to build these URLs, you don’t really need a tool, but Google’s Campaign URL Builder makes quick enough work of it that it’s bound to earn a spot in your browser’s bookmarks bar.

Pro tip: Use a tracking URL on your Google My Business listing to help distinguish traffic/conversions coming in from your listing vs traffic coming in from the organic search results. I’d recommend using:

Source: google
Medium: organic
Campaign name: gmb-listing (or something)

This way your GMB traffic still shows up in Analytics as normal organic traffic, but you can drill down to the gmb-listing campaign to see its specific performance.

Bonus pro tip: Use a vanity domain or a short URL on print materials or offline ads, and point it to a tracking URL to measure their performance in Analytics.

Rank tracking

Whaaat? Rank tracking is a dirty word to conversion tracking purists, isn’t it?

Nah. It’s true that rank tracking is a poor primary metric for your digital marketing efforts, but it can be very helpful as a supplemental metric and for helping to diagnose changes in traffic, as Darren Shaw explored here.

For local businesses, we think our Local Rank Tracker is a pretty darn good tool for the job.

Google My Business Insights

Your GMB listing is a foundational piece of your local SEO infrastructure, and GMB Insights offer some meaningful data (impressions and clicks for your listing, mostly). It also tries to tell you how many calls your listing generates for you, but it comes up a bit short since it relies on “tel:” links instead of tracking numbers. It will tell you how many people clicked on your phone number, but not how many actually made the call. It also won’t give you any insights into calls coming from desktop users.

There’s a great workaround though! It just might freak you out a bit…

Fire up your call tracking platform once more, create an “offline” number, and use it as your “primary number” on your GMB listing. Don’t panic. You can preserve your NAP consistency by demoting your real local number to an “additional number” slot on your GMB listing.

I don’t consider this a necessary step, because you’re probably not pointing your paid clicks to your GMB listing. However, combined with a tracking URL pointing to your website, you can now fully measure the performance of Google My Business for your business!

Disclaimer: I believe that this method is totally safe, and I’m using it myself in several instances, but I can’t say with absolute certainty that it won’t impact your rankings. Whitespark is currently testing this out on a larger scale, and we’ll share our findings once they’re assembled!

Taking it all in

So now you’ve assembled a lean, mean tracking machine. You’re already feeling 10 years younger, and everyone pays attention when you enter the room. But what can you do with all this power?

Here are a few ways I like to soak up this beautiful data.

Pop into Analytics

Since we’ve centralized all our tracking in Analytics, we can answer pretty much any performance questions we have within a few simple clicks.

  • How many calls and form fills did we get last month from our organic rankings?
  • How does that compare to the month before? Last year?
  • How many paid conversions are we getting? How much are we paying on average for them?
  • Are we doing anything expensive that isn’t generating many leads?
  • Does our Facebook page generate any leads on our website?

There are a billion and seven ways to look at your Analytics data, but I do most of my ogling from Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels. Here you get a great overview of your traffic and conversions sliced up by channels (Organic Search, Paid Search, Direct, Referral, etc). You can obviously adjust date ranges, compare to past date ranges, and view conversion metrics individually or as a whole. For me, this is Analytics home base.

Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium can be equally interesting, especially if you’ve made good use of tracking URLs.

Make some sweet SEO reports

I can populate almost my entire standard SEO client report from the Acquisition section of Analytics. Making conversions the star of the show really helps to keep clients engaged in their monthly reporting.

Google Analytics dashboards

Google’s Dashboards inside Analytics provide a great way to put the most important metrics together on a single screen. They’re easy to use, but I’ve always found them a bit limiting. Fortunately for data junkies, Google has recently released its next generation data visualization product…

Google Data Studio

This is pretty awesome. It’s very flexible, powerful, and user-friendly. I’d recommend skipping the Analytics Dashboards and going straight to Data Studio.

It will allow to you to beautifully dashboard-ify your data from Analytics, Adwords, Youtube, DoubleClick, and even custom databases or spreadsheets. All the data is “live” and dynamic. Users can even change data sources and date ranges on the fly! Bosses love it, clients love it, and marketers love it… provided everything is performing really well ;)

Supermetrics

If you want to get really fancy, and build your own fully custom dashboard, develop some truly bespoke analysis tools, or automate your reporting regimen, check out Supermetrics. It allows you to pull data from just about any source into Google Sheets or Excel. From there, your only limitation is your mastery of spreadsheet-fu and your imagination.

TL;DR

So that’s a lot of stuff. If you’d like to skip the more nuanced explanations, pro tips, and bad jokes, here’s the gist in point form:

  • Tracking your digital marketing is super important.
  • Don’t just track traffic. Tracking conversions is critical.
  • Use Google Analytics. Don’t let your agency use their own account.
  • Set up goals for every type of lead (forms, calls, chats, bookings, etc).
  • Track forms with destinations (thank you pages) or events.
  • Track your calls, probably using CallRail.
  • Use “number per source” if you have a huge volume of traffic; otherwise, use number pools (AKA keyword pools). Pools are better.
  • Set up Search Console and link it to your Analytics and Adwords accounts.
  • Link Adwords with Analytics.
  • Import Analytics conversions into Adwords instead of using Adwords’ native conversion tracking snippet…
  • …except for call extensions. Track those within and Adwords AND in Analytics (if you want to) by using an “offline” tracking number as the destination for your Google forwarding numbers.
  • Use Google Tag Manager if you have more than a couple third-party scripts to run on your site (web chat, Analytics, call tracking, Facebook Pixels etc).
  • Use Google Campaign URL Builder to create tracked URLs for tracking visitors from various sources like offline advertising, email signatures, etc.
  • Use a tracked URL on your GMB listing.
  • Use a tracked number as your “primary” GMB listing number (if you do this, make sure you put your real local number as a “secondary” number). Note: We think this is safe, but we don’t have quite enough data to say so unequivocally. YMMV.
  • Use vanity domains or short URLs that point to your tracking URLs to put on print materials, TV spots, etc.
  • Track your rankings like a boss.
  • Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels is your new Analytics home base.
  • Consider making some Google Analytics Dashboards… and then don’t, because Google Data Studio is way better. So use that.
  • Check out Supermetrics if you want to get really hardcore.
  • Don’t let your dreams be dreams.

If you’re new to tracking your digital marketing, I hope this provides a helpful starting point, and helps cut through some of the confusion and uncertainty about how to best get set up.

If you’re a conversion veteran, I hope there are a few new or alternative ideas here that you can use to improve your setup.

If you’ve got anything to add, correct, or ask, leave a comment!

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Should SEOs and Marketers Continue to Track and Report on Keyword Rankings? – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Is the practice of tracking keywords truly dying? There’s been a great deal of industry discussion around the topic of late, and some key points have been made. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand speaks to the biggest challenges keyword rank tracking faces today and how to solve for them.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about keyword ranking reports. There have been a few articles that have come out recently on a number of big industry sites around whether SEOs should still be tracking their keyword rankings.

I want to be clear: Moz has a little bit of a vested interest here. And so the question is: Can you actually trust me, who obviously I’m a big shareholder in Moz and I’m the founder, and so I care a lot about how Moz does as a software business. We help people track rankings. Does that mean I’m biased? I’m going to do my best not to be. So rather than saying you absolutely should track rankings, I’m instead going to address what most of these articles have brought up as the problems of rank tracking and then talk about some solutions by which you can do this.

My suspicion is you should probably be rank tracking. I think that if you turn it off and you don’t do it, it’s very hard to get a lot of the value that we need as SEOs, a lot of the intelligence. It’s true there are challenges with keyword ranking reports, but not true enough to avoid doing it entirely. We still get too much value from them.

The case against — and solutions for — keyword ranking data

A. People, places, and things

So let’s start with the case against keyword ranking data. First off, “keyword ranking reports are inaccurate.” There’s personalization, localization, and device type, and that biases and has removed what is the “one true ranking.” We’ve done a bunch of analyses of these, and this is absolutely the case.

Personalization, turns out, doesn’t change ranking that much on average. For an individual it can change rankings dramatically. If they visited your website before, they could be historically biased to you. Or if they visited your competitor’s, they could be biased. Their previous search history might have biased them in a single session, those kinds of things. But with the removal of Google+ from search results, personalization is actually not as dramatically changing as it used to be. Localization, though, still huge, absolutely, and device differences, still huge.

Solution

But we can address this, and the way to do that is by tracking these things separately. So here you can see I’ve got a ranking report that shows me my mobile rankings versus my desktop rankings. I think this is absolutely essential. Especially if you’re getting a lot of traffic from both mobile and desktop search, you need to be tracking those separately. Super smart. Of course we should do that.

We can do the same thing on the local side as well. So I can say, “Here, look. This is how I rank in Seattle. Here’s how I rank in Minneapolis. Here’s how I rank in the U.S. with no geographic personalization,” if Google were to do that. Those types of rankings can also be pretty good.

It is true that local ranked tracking has gotten a little more challenging, but we’ve seen that folks like, well Moz itself, but folks like STAT (GetStat), SERPs.com, Search Metrics, they have all adjusted their rank tracking methodologies in order to have accurate local rank tracking. It’s pretty good. Same with device type, pretty darn good.

B. Keyword value estimation

Another big problem that is expressed by a number of folks here is we no longer know how much traffic an individual keyword sends. Because we don’t know how much an individual keyword sends, we can’t really say, “What’s the value of ranking for that keyword?” Therefore, why bother to even track keyword rankings?

I think this is a little bit of spurious logic. The leap there doesn’t quite make sense to me. But I will say this. If you don’t know which keywords are sending you traffic specifically, you still know which pages are receiving search traffic. That is reported. You can get it in your Google Analytics, your Omniture report, whatever you’re using, and then you can tie that back to keyword ranking reports showing which pages are receiving traffic from which keywords.

Most all of the ranked tracking platforms, Moz included, has a report that shows you something like this. It says, “Here are the keywords that we believe are likely to have sent these percentages of traffic to this page based on the keywords that you’re tracking, based on the pages that are ranking for them, and how much search traffic those pages receive.”

Solution

So let’s track that. We can look at pages receiving visits from search, and we can look at which keywords they rank for. Then we can tie those together, which gives us the ability to then make not only a report like this, but a report that estimates the value contributed by content and by pages rather than by individual keywords.

In a lot of ways, this is almost superior to our previous methodology of tracking by keyword. Keyword can still be estimated through AdWords, through paid search, but this can be estimated on a content basis, which means you get credit for how much value the page has created, based on all the search traffic that’s flowed to it, and where that’s at in your attribution lifecycle of people visiting those pages.

C. Tracking rankings and keyword relevancy

Pages often rank for keywords that they aren’t specifically targeting, because Google has gotten way better with user intent. So it can be hard or even impossible to track those rankings, because we don’t know what to look for.

Well, okay, I hear you. That is a challenge. This means basically what we have to do is broaden the set of keywords that we look at and deal with the fact that we’re going to have to do sampling. We can’t track every possible keyword, unless you have a crazy budget, in which case go talk to Rob Bucci up at STAT, and he will set you up with a huge campaign to track all your millions of keywords.

Solution

If you have a smaller budget, what you have to do is sample, and you sample by sets of keywords. Like these are my high conversion keywords — I’m going to assume I have a flower delivery business — so flower delivery and floral gifts and flower arrangements for offices. My long tail keywords, like artisan rose varieties and floral alternatives for special occasions, and my branded keywords, like Rand’s Flowers or Flowers by Rand.

I can create a bunch of different buckets like this, sample the keywords that are in them, and then I can track each of these separately. Now I can see, ah, these are sets of keywords where I’ve generally been moving up and receiving more traffic. These are sets of keywords where I’ve generally been moving down. These are sets of keywords that perform better or worse on mobile or desktop, or better or worse in these geographic areas. Right now I can really start to get true intelligence from there.

Don’t let your keyword targeting — your keyword targeting meaning what keywords you’re targeting on which pages — determine what you rank track. Don’t let it do that exclusively. Sure, go ahead and take that list and put that in there, but then also do some more expansive keyword research to find those broad sets of search terms and phrases that you should be monitoring. Now we can really solve this issue.

D. Keyword rank tracking with a purpose

This one I think is a pretty insidious problem. But for many organizations ranking reports are more of a historical artifact. We’re not tracking them for a particular reason. We’re tracking them because that’s what we’ve always tracked and/or because we think we’re supposed to track them. Those are terrible reasons to track things. You should be looking for reasons of real value and actionability. Let’s give some examples here.

Solution

What I want you to do is identify the goals of rank tracking first, like: What do I want to solve? What would I do differently based on whether this data came back to me in one way or another?

If you don’t have a great answer to that question, definitely don’t bother tracking that thing. That should be the rule of all analytics.

So if your goal is to say, “Hey, I want to be able to attribute a search traffic gain or a search traffic loss to what I’ve done on my site or what Google has changed out there,” that is crucially important. I think that’s core to SEO. If you don’t have that, I’m not sure how we can possibly do our jobs.

We attribute search traffic gains and losses by tracking broadly, a broad enough set of keywords, hopefully in enough buckets, to be able to get a good sample set; by tracking the pages that receive that traffic so we can see if a page goes way down in its search visits. We can look at, “Oh, what was that page ranking for? Oh, it was ranking for these keywords. Oh, they dropped.” Or, “No, they didn’t drop. But you know what? We looked in Google Trends, and the traffic demand for those keywords dropped,” and so we know that this is a seasonality thing, or a fluctuation in demand, or those types of things.

And we can track by geography and device, so that we can say, “Hey, we lost a bunch of traffic. Oh, we’re no longer mobile-friendly.” That is a problem. Or, “Hey, we’re tracking and, hey, we’re no longer ranking in this geography. Oh, that’s because these two competitors came in and they took over that market from us.”

We could look at would be something like identify pages that are in need of work, but they only require a small amount of work to have a big change in traffic. So we could do things like track pages that rank on page two for given keywords. If we have a bunch of those, we can say, “Hey, maybe just a few on-page tweaks, a few links to these pages, and we could move up substantially.” We had a Whiteboard Friday where we talked about how you could do that with internal linking previously and have seen some remarkable results there.

We can track keywords that rank in position four to seven on average. Those are your big wins, because if you can move up from position four, five, six, seven to one, two, three, you can double or triple your search traffic that you’re receiving from keywords like that.

You should also track long tail, untargeted keywords. If you’ve got a long tail bucket, like we’ve got up here, I can then say, “Aha, I don’t have a page that’s even targeting any of these keywords. I should make one. I could probably rank very easily because I have an authoritative website and some good content,” and that’s really all you might need.

We might look at some up-and-coming competitors. I want to track who’s in my space, who might be creeping up there. So I should track the most common domains that rank on page one or two across my keyword sets.

I can track specific competitors. I might say, “Hey, Joel’s Flower Delivery Service looks like it’s doing really well. I’m going to set them up as a competitor, and I’m going to track their rankings specifically, or I’m going to see…” You could use something like SEMrush and see specifically: What are all the keywords they rank for that you don’t rank for?

This type of data, in my view, is still tremendously important to SEO, no matter what platform you’re using. But if you’re having these problems or if these problems are being expressed to you, now you have some solutions.

I look forward to your comments. We’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Semantic Analytics: How to Track Performance and ROI of Structured Data

Posted by Mike_Arnesen

If you’re interested in tracking the ROI of adding semantic markup to your website, while simultaneously improving your web analytics, this post is for you! Join me, friend.

Semantic markup and structured data: Can I get a heck yes?!

If you haven’t heard of semantic markup and the SEO implications of applying said markup, you may have been living in a dark cave with no WiFi for the past few years. Or perhaps you’re new to this whole search marketing thing. In the later case, I won’t fault you, but you should really check this stuff out, because
it’s the future.

That said, I’d wager most people reading this post are well acquainted with semantic markup and the idea of structured data. More than likely, you have some of this markup on your site already and you probably have some really awesome rich snippets showing up in search.

Organic snippets like these are why most SEOs are implementing semantic markup. I don’t think we need to debate that. Everyone wants to get those beautiful, attractive, CTR-boosting rich snippets and, in some cases, you’re at a competitive disadvantage simply by not having them.

If you’re like me, you
love seeing your sites earn rich snippets in Google’s search results. I loved it so much that I let myself believe that this was the end goal of semantic markup: landing the rich snippet. When I implemented markup for various entities on the sites I worked on, I’d get the markup added to the site’s code, verify that it was successfully crawled, watch the rich snippet show up, and then call it a victory! Hooray!

Tracking the ROI of semantic markup

Well, I’ve come to the realization that
this simply can’t be the measure of success for your semantic SEO strategy! What difference does that rich snippet really make? C’mon, be honest. Do you know what the
real impact was? Can you speak to your boss or your client about how pages with a specific type of markup are performing compared to their non-marked up counterparts? Another question to ask: Are you leveraging that semantic data for as much value as you can?

Is there a way to more effectively track the ROI of semantic markup implementation while simultaneously giving us a deeper level of insight regarding how our site is performing?

The answer is yes! How? It’s (relatively) easy, because we’ve already done the hard work. Through applying semantic markup to our site, we’ve embedded an incredibly rich layer of meaningful data in our code. Too often, SEOs like us forget that the idea of the semantic web extends far beyond search engines. It’s easy to add schema.org entity markup to our pages and and think that it ends when search engines pick up on it. But that can’t be the end of the story! Don’t let the search engines have all the fun; we can use that data, too.

By looking at the semantic markup on any given page, we can see what type of “entity” we’re looking at (be it an “Event,” “Person,” “Product,” “Article,” or anything else) and we can also see what attributes or properties that entity has. If we could gather that information and pump it into an analytics platform, we’d really have something great. So let’s do that!

Using Google Tag Manager to record structured data

Google Tag Manager was the game changer I didn’t know I needed. There are a few great posts that provide nice overviews of GTM, so I won’t get too deep into that here, but the key capability of Google Tag Manager that is going to allow us to do amazing things is its inherent ability to be awesome.

Okay, let me explain.

The value of any tag management platform lies in its ability to fire off tags dynamically based off of Rules and Macros. This is incredible for anyone doing advanced analytics tracking because you can attach granular tracking elements to various sections of your site without (theoretically) ever having to touch your code. Need to track a click on an image banner in your sidebar? Just set up a Tag in Google Tag Manager that fires based on a Rule that uses a Macro to identify that image banner in the code of your site!

So what I’m ultimately trying to share with you through this post is a methodology for using GTM to bring your semantic markup in to your analytics platform so you can not just track the ROI of adding semantic markup to your site, but leverage that markup for a deeper level of insight into your data. I’ve taken to calling this “semantic analytics.”

Tags, rules, and macros

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of how this all works, let’s go over
Tags, Rules, and Macros in Google Tag Manager.

  • Tags: In the context of analytics, a Tag is any piece of tracking code that is going to send information back to Google Analytics (or your analytics platform of choice). Nearly every site on the web is going to have a basic pageview tracking Tag on every page; every time you load a page, that Tag is fired and sends information about that pageview to an analytics platform (e.g. Google Analytics). But we can get even better intelligence by having additional tags send other information into Google, like “event” tags which can send information for things that happen on the site (clicks, scrolling, non-click interactions, video plays, etc.). Google Tag Manager lets you configure any Tag you want, which will fire based on a Rule.
  • Rules: A
    Rule in Google Tag Manager tells a Tag when to fire. Without a Rule attached to a Tag, it will never fire (i.e. send info to Google Analytics) so the most basic Rule is one that is triggered on every page. However, you could set up a thank-you page conversion event tag for AdWords, for example, that only fires on a page with a URL matching /contact-form/thank-you/.
  • Macros:
    Macros are by far the most powerful features in Google Tag Manager. Their power seems almost limitless, but the key thing we’ll be looking at here is the ability to create a JavaScript Macro that will look in the DOM (Document Object Model) for specific elements. This allows you to look for specific elements in the HTML and fire events based on what you find.

What we’ll want to do in Google Tag Manger is create a
Macro that looks for semantic markup in the code of a page. We can then use a Rule to fire a Tag every time someone views a page that has semantic markup on it and include event labels that record what type of entity that person looked at. Ultimately, this will let us drill down into analytics and view reports to see how marked up pages perform against their non-marked up counterparts. We can even pull out granular properties of entities and analyze based on those (for example, pull the “performer” item property out of all “Event” entities and see which “performers” got more traffic and/or led to more conversion events).

Setting up semantic analytics

So let’s walk though the whole semantic analytics process using a website that lists industry events as an example. Since I’m familiar with it, let’s use SwellPath.com as our example since we list
all the events we present at in our Resources section.

For each industry event on our site, we have semantic markup that specifies the Event schema.org itemtype and defines various associated itemprops, including the speaker (itemprop=”performer”), venue (itemprop=”eventVenue”), event name (itemprop=”name”), and time (itemprop=”startTime”). At the most basic level, I want to be able to track all the pages that have Event markup. If I wanted to get ambitious (which I do!), I want to pull the speaker name, event name, and venue name, too.

To do this, we’ll want to set up a
Macro, which is the condition for a Rule, which then fires a Tag. However, we’re going to dive into that progression in reverse order. Yeah, we’re going full Tarantino.

Setting up the Tag

The
Tag we want to set up in Google Tag Manager will look like this:

The category for all of our semantic events will be “Semantic Markup,” so we can use it to group together any page with markup on it. The event action will be “Semantic – Event Markup On-Page” (even though it’s not much of an “action,” per se). Finally, we’ll want to make the label pretty specific the individual item we’re talking about, so we’ll pull in the speaker’s name and combine it with the even name so we have plenty of context. We’ll use a
Macro for that, but more on that below.

Configuring the Rule

Without a
Rule though, our Tag won’t ever fire. We can’t just set it up to fire on every page, though; we need to have a Rule that says “only fire this tag if semantic markup is on the page.” Our Rule will include two conditions.

  1. The first condition looks for an event that is equal to “gtm.dom”. This is an event that Google Tag Manager can pick up out-of-the-box and it means the that Document Object Model (DOM) finished loading (in simple terms, the page finished downloading). The reason we need this is because we need to tell Google Tag Manager to look in our code to find semantic markup; it doesn’t make sense to do that before the page has finished loading.
  2. The second condition for our Rule is a Macro that’s going to look for specific markup on the page.

Building the Macro

The
Macro is the really cool part! To get it set up, we’ll create a Macro that uses “Custom JavaScript.” Inside of the Macro, we essentially want to create a function that looks for our itemtype tag from schema.org on the page and returns either “true” or “false”. The screenshot that follows shows what it looks like when you set it up in Google Tag Manager, but I’ve provided the text of the Macro as well so you can cut and paste.

function () {
   var SemElem = document.querySelectorAll('[itemtype*="Event"]');
   SemElem = SemElem.length > 0 ? true : false;
   return SemElem;
}

Keep in mind that I’m using jQuery here to make sure it works across most browsers. Make sure that whatever site you implement this on also has jQuery installed, or this Macro won’t work.

While we’re here, we’ll also create a
Macro to pull out specific itemprops that we want to use later. Specifically, the event name and the performer name. We can then combine those two variables in our Macro function to form a sentence that we’ll use as an event label later on. I also added an If statement so that it returns “No semantic data” if any important events are missing.

function () {
   var venue = $  ('[itemtype*="Event"] [itemprop*="name"]') [0];
   var performer = $  ('[itemtype*="Event"] [itemprop*="performer"]') .text();

   venue = $  (venue).text();

   label = performer + " at " + venue + " (Semantic Event)";

   check = venue.length > 0 ? true : false;
   if (check === false) {
      label = "No semantic data";
      return label;
   }
   else {
      return label;
   }
}

Putting it all together

To actually set this up in Google Tag Manager, you’ll set up all the elements we just discussed in reverse order (do you get my previous Tarantino joke now?). First, create your
Macros in GTM. Then create your Rule using the Macro you just created as one of the criterium. Finally, create your Tag that fires based on the Rule.

From there, you can push the new version of your GTM Container Tag live. If you’re smart, though, you’ll run it in Debug Mode first and make sure that you have it set up correctly.

Naming Conventions

What good is a standardized vocabulary for your web data if you don’t have a standardized naming convention for your Google Tag Manager and Google Analtyics set up? Here’s what I use, but feel free to use what works for you:

  • Macros: Semantic – {Item Type} Markup Detection
  • Macros: Semantic – {Item Type} Markup Properties
  • Rule: Semantic – Has {Item Type} Markup Rule
  • Tag: Semantic – {Item Type} Markup Analytics Event

Making it even easier

Thanks to Google Tag Manager’s amazing new API and Import/Export feature, you can speed up this whole process by importing a GTM Container Tag to your existing account. That way, you don’t have to set up any of the above; you can just import it.

All you have to do is download this JSON file called ”
Semantic Analytics Headstart” (DropBox link) and then use the Import option in your Google Tag Manager account.

Within GTM, just select the Semantic Analytics Headstart JSON file you saved as your file to import, select Merge, and choose Overwrite. The only thing that this Container Tag has in it is the Semantic Macros, Rules, and Tags, so Merge and Overwrite will simply add these special features to your existing configuration. Just note that the Semantic Tags reference a Macro that contains your Universal Analytics tracking ID (i.e., make sure to edit the Macro called “Universal Anatlyics UA-ID” and put in your own tracking).

Semantic data in Google Analytics

Congratulations! You now have all the pieces in place to start receiving semantic data in Google Analytics. Go ahead, go check your Real Time Events report. I’ll hang here.

Okay, seriously, how cool was that?

There’s something incredibly special about giving your data meaning. Whether you get that by having an intimate relationship with your data platform, having super-advanced tagging in place, or making your analytics truly semantic by applying the principles of the semantic web to your data collection, you’re doing something amazing. Now that you have semantic data in your analytics, you can drill down into specific categories and get some really cool information.

Another path

I feel like passing in semantic data as Events in Google Analytics is fairly straightforward, and the step-by-step process makes it fairly easy to grasp, but there’s another (perhaps even better) way to add semantic data to your analytics. In analytics speak, a “dimension” is a descriptive attribute of a data object. Sounds pretty similar to itemprops on the semantic web, eh? So, why not set up Custom Dimensions in Google Analytics and use those to enhance our semantic analytics? Let’s do it!

Fortunately, we’ve already put a lot of the pieces in place to access our semantic data, so we just have to create the Custom Dimension in Google Analytics and shoot data to it by adding a field in GTM. First, go to the Admin panel in you Google Analytics account and go to “Custom Definitions” > “Custom Dimensions”. From there you’ll want to create a new Custom Dimension called “Semantic Markup” with the “Scope” of “Hit” and set it to be active.

Make a mental note of what the index is; you’ll need to specify it in Google Tag Manager. With the Semantic Event tag that we set up in GTM, we created an entirely new tag that would fire something on pages with semantic markup. For Custom Dimensions, we’ll want to add something to our general analytics.js tag (the basic pageview tracking for Google Analytics). Once you find your main analytics tracking code in the list of tags, open it up and scross down to Custom Dimensions (under More Settings). Click the button to “Add Custom Dimension” and use the same index that you made a note of and, for the Dimension field, we’ll use the same Macro we used for our Event label: Semantic – Event Markup Propertites.

Once you have this set up, you’ll be able to bring in a “Semantic Markup” dimension to almost any Google Analytics report. Here’s an example All Pages report that now displays Semantic Markup in addition to the Page URL.

I introduced this Custom Dimension approach as “another path,” but really, I like to use it as a supplement and work both angles. Having both semantic events and semantic dimensions set up in Google Tag Manager won’t cause any issues; it will just give you more meaningful data. Who doesn’t love that?

Looking forward with semantic analytics

What can you accomplish by a applying semantic values to your data? That’s what I’m most excited to find out.

I’m working on getting this up and running on sites that publish tons of content (Article markup), process thousands of eCommerce transactions (Product markup), and have lists of experts (Person markup). I’d love to see what semantic analytics could do for local business directories (Yelp), movie sites (IMDB), car dealerships, and recipe sites (my buddy
Sam Edwards is already looking to implement this idea for Duncan Hines).

One of the biggest “mind blown moments” of my career was when I discovered that there was a whole semantic web community out there that wasn’t just concerned with marking up content to get better looking snippets in the SERPs; they wanted to use semantic markup to make data more accessible and meaningful and to make the web a better place to be. I’m hoping that amazing folks like
Aaron Bradley and Jarno van Driel will be able to help evolve this concept and inspire widespread adoption of semantic analytics.

If you have any questions, ideas for how this could be applied, or ways to extend this concept, let me know in the comments! Happy optimizing.

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How to Track the Online ROI of Offline Advertising

Posted by GeoffKenyon

While I love online marketing and often times think that is a much better marketing investment than offline marketing and advertising, offline ads are important and add value. While we are going to see budget shift significantly from offline efforts to online campaigns, there is still going to be a ton of money going into offline ads.

Much of the value from offline advertising is actually online and is typically attributed to the direct channel. If an ad gives out a website URL, they almost always send visitors to their homepage. When ads don’t give users a website to go to, typically one of the search channels will receive credit for the value created by the ad. The KTM ad below is a prime example of a print ad that will create value, but the value will be attributed to either the search channel or direct channel if the user is already aware of (or simply searches for) the URL for KTM.

As you can see below, in 2012 82% of ad-spend was offline; that is a lot of visitors and conversions that aren’t being properly attributed.

This isn’t just a problem for companies with big ad budgets. In fact, this is more important for small businesses with smaller budgets because often times these expenses come out of the owner’s pockets. Real estate agents are probably the best example of why this is so important. If my friend Hailey is a real estate agent and if she wants to market her self and her properties, she has a lot of options. She could advertise on a big real estate site like Zillow, a niche site, through SEO or PPC, and it’s easy for her to track leads from these. It gets harder, though, when she invests in offline efforts like signs, door hangers, print ads, or any other form of offline advertising. Hailey, and almost all real estate agents, are doing their marketing campaigns on a tight budget, so it is critical for real estate agents (and professionals in many other industries) to understand exactly what is producing value and what isn’t.

The good news is that it’s actually pretty easy to figure out which offline ads are helping you and which ones aren’t doing anything.

Create a custom URL for your ads

The first step is to either buy a vanity domain or to create a unique landing page for each offline effort.

Depending on your niche and ad, it can be important to incentivize the user typing in the full URL (and not just stopping once they type in the homepage) if you are not going to use a vanity domain. This can mean offering the user a special promotion or gift. You would want to reinforce the offer with the URL as well, using something like /free-gift or /special-promo.

Set up redirects and campaign parameters

Once you’ve created your vanity domain or landing page, you’ll need to set up a 301 redirect to the page you want visitors to land on (your home page or a specific landing page) AND include Google Analytics campaign parameters (shown below by ?utm=*)

Adding Campaign Tracking Parameters

If you’re not super familiar with Google Analytics, this guide is a good starting point. If you need help creating the campaign URL, the Google URL Builder and GA Config are really useful tools. Keep in mind, while there are five different parameters you can use, the following three are required at minimum:

  • Source – This should be the specific source of the ad and referral such as “Seattle Times,” “For Sale Sign,” “Flier,” etc. The source parameter will allow you to assign conversions to a specific source.
  • Medium – The medium is simply the high-level channel that your effort is part of. Some examples of good mediums would be radio, magazine ad, or TV. When you consistently use the medium attribution parameter, over time, you will be able to see what high-level channels produce the best ROI for you.
  • Campaign name – The campaign name should refer to specific campaign you are running. You can use this to pull together ads across mediums and sources that are part of a larger campaign, or you can differentiate between different campaigns within the same source.

Track your ROI

At this point, you’ve done all the hard work and have everything set up for Google Analytics to be able to track visitors coming to the site from your ads as well as how many people convert in some form. You will be able to find the number of visitors from your ads under the campaigns tab in Google Analytics, and the number of conversions in the Ecommerce, Goals, or Events tab depending on how you are tracking your conversions.

The campaign view in Google Analytics is where you’ll monitor the success of your offline campaigns.

With this in place you will be able to better invest your offline marketing budget knowing that the channels and campaigns are going to give you the best online ROI.

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It’s clear that each product, service or campaign — whether on your site’s landing page or Facebook page — should have multiple ads created to test what appeals to your audience. So, whether the goal action of your customer is a lead or purchase, follow these five easy steps to start measuring your ads’ performance today.
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