October 2015

Marketing Analytics Q&A: What You Need to Know About Flash and Ad Blockers

Exploring the Analytics Behind Email Marketing (1)

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What’s the big deal about Flash

What’s the big deal about Flash? What do I need to know that affects my business?

Honestly, probably not a lot. When I first read the articles that resurfaced this week regarding the need for websites and applications using Flash to stop doing so, I had a sense of Deja vu. For a regular business owner or professional working in digital marketing, you may still be using a Flash website or have some flash banners. Flash is used by various designers and digital agencies because it has allowed different levels of interactivity for a long time, and these professionals have become used to the framework. As the web has evolved other standards such as HTML 5, have emerged which provide alternatives to Flash.

With many bugs and vulnerabilities, it concern Flash powers many applications, websites, and systems of government and other important organisations. However, for your average small to medium business, it’s unlikely that this will affect your business much. Sure, you will encounter Flash in your everyday browsing as a consumer, but unless you’ve got quoted to build your new website in Flash in 2015, I wouldn’t be too concerned.

As some best case practice, look to:

  • Use standard frameworks/platforms such as WordPress to develop websites and nothing too custom
  • Remember that an excellent animation/video might look cool and sound great when pitched, but will likely slow down/break the user experience for your website visitors
  • Focus on being minimal but functional
  • Design for different devices in mind, as Flash doesn’t work on iOS devices, websites built using Flash usually just break on these devices
  • As a consumer, get a flash blocker in your browser, this will speed things up in general browsing, and you can selectively unblock certain websites, I use “Flash Block” in Chrome
  • Otherwise, just relax, the technology wars will take care of themselves 😉

I’ve read that ad blocking is becoming standard on certain browsers and mobile devices, should I be concerned?

With web giants like Google reaping a lot of money through search and display advertising, there are lots of different voices, conflicts, and opinions in this space. Apple recently released “content blocking” with iOS9 which brought about a slew of as well as ad blockers as apps which actually can block out ads. Browser add-ons that block ads are becoming popular and standard in many implementations.

If you’re relying on display ads to drive your digital marketing strategy, then you’re at least a couple of years out of date. Display can be useful for targeting very specific lists/segments and for remarketing. Outside of “site takeovers” for major news and other favourite websites, you’re unlikely to get much of a click through rate from it (the average is 0.06% Globally which translates to 6 people every 10,000 views).

Doing display well in 2015 involves micro targeting to very specific cookie profiles, retargeting contextual specific ads, dynamic eCommerce retargeting and targeting similar audiences by accessing same cookie pools, such as through Customer Match.

Advertising has moved towards content marketing, or “native” as some pundits have called it and targeted display. News feed style ads on Facebook & LinkedIn – plus sponsored tweets, Instagram posts, etc. have all taken off and are providing results for advertisers. Personally, I think this makes sense. While we’re still having a relatively rough time in consistently consuming some actual valuable content on these platforms, as a society we’re moving away from “classified” type advertising and responding much better to messages which are more relevant to us personally.

So you shouldn’t worry too much that you’ll be seeing fewer banners. It’ll be good for consumption, and at least make your browsing experience cleaner and faster. However, if you’re still relying on display to drive people to your website, look into other platforms, and have a think about how you can provide value as an organisation to your prospective customers.

Marketing Analytics Q&A: Measuring Marketing Performance and ROI

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Exploring the Analytics Behind Email Marketing (2)

I’m unsure on how I can measure revenue and return on investment accurately for my website. We get leads and make sales from multiple marketing channels (online and offline) Do you have any strategies to improve measurement and our marketing performance?

I run into this question often. For most small to medium businesses, there is a mix of legacy CRM systems, company process, and sometimes no system at all to measure marketing performance and incoming leads. The traditional view is often that “we allocate $X per month to marketing, and we feel good about the campaigns when the revenue seems to increase compared to previous months”. This approach originated in a time when there wasn’t the ability to track marketing campaigns with the precision we can track digital campaigns today.

As most businesses exist in the real world where it’s unlikely that you’re able to invest in all the latest and greatest systems, nor have your team always attributing enquiries to exactly the right source, we need to improvise and cut a bit of slack in the process. Below, are two approaches I’ve shopped with clients that work to improve this understanding and data available. Keep in mind; your organisation may be several steps from being able to implement something like this, but it helps to have a plan on how you might move forward in the future.

This is a standard approach that seems to work with organisations with a centralised admin/reception team. All incoming leads are marked with their source, and this information is consolidated and communicated on a regular (daily or weekly basis). Ideally, this information is used to understand which channels are contributing to bringing us business and bringing performance into the mindset of stakeholders.

The problems with this approach are:

a) The website inquiry could be from any channel really (Organic, Paid, Referral, Direct), etc.
b) Phone calls tend to get lost in this process, as they can originate from anywhere and further information isn’t collected at the time of the call.
c) It’s only possible to examine overall digital investment to results. Usually this is based on a low cost per lead calculation which doesn’t take into account varying revenue amounts.
d) Revenue can only actually be calculated as an overall number and not per lead or transaction.
e) There are usually multiple stages to sales and customer information can be lost or become inconsistent between stages.

This could be improved by:

– Noting specific digital campaigns when the lead is captured and retaining this information in a CRM
– Using APIs to pass all digital leads to the CRM software – saving admin time and reducing manual mistakes
– Using a call tracking number for calls from the website and having a standard method to survey the lead

2) All web inquiries are sent to our CRM automatically and are tagged with enhanced digital analytics variables. Analysis and data consolidation is a regular process

Under this approach, we are using a CRM system, and we are sending extra data such as Google Analytics campaign variables to our CRM. This method allows us to record and remember exactly which campaigns that our leads/sales come from. Phone leads are added to the CRM system manually. Assuming proper implementation of the CRM process, this will enable us to perform analysis on a regular basis to discover such things as:

– Which marketing campaigns brought us revenue and which didn’t
– Compare our marketing investment to revenue
– Compare the ratio of Lead > Sale conversion rate for each marketing channel
– Optimise our online campaigns based on these numbers
– Compare our offline and online marketing channels

This is the preferred approach but requires:

– A CRM that talks to our website
– Extra information collected from customers about how they found out about us
– Following a CRM process and maintaining information about customers consistently
– Having someone in-house or outsourced that can complete the data analysis for us
– Having a feedback process for marketing campaigns with our internal marketing team or marketing agency/consultants
– Implementing recommendations from analysis

Why bother?

Only when we know how marketing campaigns/channels are contributing to our revenue can we:

– Boost those campaigns that are doing well
– Improve/cut campaigns that are not doing so well
– Test ideas and improve our marketing performance overall

What do I need to get started?

– Ideally, you need to be using or planning to use a CRM system
– You will need to integrate your website with this software or a similar system
– Regularly consolidate the data into a usable format
– Have the in-house or outsourced capability to undertake the data analysis to gain useful insights

As always, get in touch with me if you’d like to discuss your particular setup and opportunity.

Marketing Analytics Q&A: Discovering Customer Match

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Discovering Customer Match

What is Customer Match and how will I use it?


Customer Match enables you to upload a list of email addresses that will then be matched to any Google log-ins that share the same email address. For example, you might upload your customer list to Google. When you upload a list, Google looks to match it with log-ins that it recognises, and then bundles that list under a targetable audience.

Customer Match will be useful for:

1) Retargeting offers at existing customers
2) Excluding existing customers from your other advertising campaigns
3) Introducing related products or services to your customers
4) Create Look-Alike models to find similar customers. 

#4, Look-Alike models, is one of the most exciting purposes of this. Google will create a statistically similar audience to target based on the list that you upload. So for example, if you have a database of 10,000 people, you might choose to upload the most profitable 2,000 and create a lookalike audience based on that. You can then opt to target this new audience with an offer and test the response through Search, YouTube or Gmail.

How can I get ready for this change?

Ensure for any databases that you own; you’re able to segment them properly. Look for common characteristics that will be useful in targeting later, such as demographics, location, product type, etc. When the feature is launched live, you’ll be ready to upload an audience and begin exploring targeting criteria right away.

If you don’t own a database, consider collecting one as part of your ongoing marketing activities. As personalisation is becoming essential to advertising that has high ROI, focus on building up assets such as customer or lead databases and ensure that the data is valid and valuable. After all, these are assets you can use to target advertising, and drive conversions through email marketing and other marketing activities.

What about Facebook & Twitter? Don’t they already do custom audiences?

Yes, they certainly do. Facebook & Twitter both have the functionality to upload a list of email addresses to identify users on the platform. In trials on Facebook that I’ve done, we’ve been able to match 60-70% of email addresses from customer databases of 5,000-15,000 people.

Targeting custom audiences and creating look-alike audience from custom audiences can be very successful. For example, if you were collecting details from an industry specific event, you might be able to create follow-up marketing for further events using this list and create look-alike audiences based on it.

So if you’ve already got the customer list, you can jump right in.

The problem that I have is that Facebook & Twitter are focused on consuming updates from other people, not so much searching for a particular product or service like using Google is. Browsing your friends’ photos and status updates does not put you in the mindset to buy something. However, a smart, value-focused prolonged exposure on social networks can certainly lead to website visitors and sales when executed strategically.

Get in touch if you’d like to talk about optimising your setup =)