Category: Traffic Training

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My Secret Playbook: 28 Hacks Guaranteed to Grow Your Traffic and Sales

sourced from: https://neilpatel.com/blog/marketing-hacks/

Are you tired of algorithm updates?

Well, who isn’t?

From Facebook to Google, marketing is continually changing and getting harder. Even if you are willing to give these platforms money, it still doesn’t guarantee success.

You can experiment, run tests, but digital marketing isn’t as easy as it used to be. Years ago, when I started as an online entrepreneur, companies used to raise money to hire engineers and build infrastructure.

But nowadays, technology has become easy to build and companies like Amazon Web Services save you millions on infrastructure costs.

So, these days companies raise money for one main thing… can you guess what it is?

Marketing!

It’s become so much easier and cheaper to build companies that the majority of the money is spent on customer acquisition.

This is why marketing has become so competitive. But that shouldn’t stop you from succeeding, it just means you need to get creative in this ultra-competitive landscape.

So, to start you off… here are 28 digital marketing hacks that I still use and still work in today’s marketing landscape.

Hack #1: Video remarketing

The highest converting marketing tactic I have ever leveraged is to remarket everyone who visits my checkout page but does not convert. I then show them a video of what it would be like to be a customer… these videos appear on Facebook and YouTube.

For every dollar I spend, I typically am able to get a 17-20x return on my ad spend. If you are going to take away one thing from this post, start using this tactic.

Whether you are in B2B or B2C, this tactic works extremely well. Just keep your video to under 5 minutes in length.

Hack #2: Do the opposite

Most remarketing campaigns don’t work well because you are driving people back to the same page that they didn’t convert in the first place. So instead of doing that, when you are remarketing users, send them to a page that has the opposite pitch.

For example, if your original sales pitch was logical, try a landing page that leverages emotions instead of logic.

Just think of it this way, that person didn’t buy from you the first time for a reason. You need to show them something different if you want them to convert into a customer.

Hack #3: 2-step checkouts beat one step

From my experience, I am usually able to get a 9 to 11% lift by making my checkout pages 2 steps.

Whether it is an e-commerce site or a B2B lead generation site, 2 steps typically beat out 1 step.

It’s counter-intuitive but once someone gives you their name and email, they are more likely to give you the rest of their information because they’ve already started the process. You can also email everyone who didn’t complete the registration process and convert some of those people.

If you have a strong brand like Nike or Amazon, this doesn’t matter as much. But if you don’t, which is more likely your case, use a 2-step checkout page. Whether it is a lead generation page or an e-commerce checkout page, use a 2-step.

Hack #4: Don’t forget sidebar links

Within your blog, link to your cornerstone content within your sidebar on every page. And I literally mean every page of your blog.

You don’t have to make the links rich in anchor text… but this one little thing will give more juice to your cornerstone content.

And within a year of doing this, those pages will shoot up to the top of Google for competitive terms. This is how I rank for terms like “Google AdWords” on page 1.

Hack #5: Blend in keywords from Google Suggest

If you are already ranking for popular terms, take them and put them into Ubersuggest.

It will provide a list of long-tail phrases that people search for. Integrate those keywords (at least the ones that are related) into the same page that ranks for the main head phrase.

This one little hack will increase the traffic to your most popular pages within 30 to 60 days.

Just be careful when using this tactic because you can’t keyword stuff. You need to adjust the content to also be relevant to the long-tail phrases if you want this hack to work.

Hack #6: Don’t stop with email

Email marketing is something that most blogs and sites leverage. If you add in push notifications and you add in chatbots, however, you’ll double up the traffic you were getting from email.

In other words, if emails drive you 1,000 visitors a month, push and chatbots combined should also drive you at least another 1,000 visitors a month.

You also find that push notifications and chatbot notifications generate higher click-through rates than email, but they also receive substantially more unsubscribes.

So, the next time you are sending out an email, don’t forget to also send out that same message to your push notification and chatbot list.

Hack #7: Brand queries is the fastest way to increase rankings

No matter which industry you are going after, the more people that type in your brand name into Google and click on your site, the faster your rankings will climb.

And not just your rankings for brand related terms, more so for all of your terms.

If you want to boost your brand queries, you have to do crazy PR stunts. Companies like PRserve do them on a performance basis.

You can also monitor if the PR stunts are working by typing your brand name into Google Trends. This one trick helped me rank on page 1 for the term “online marketing.”

If you are successful with this strategy, you should see results within 2 or 3 months.

Hack #8: YouTube only cares about the first 24 hours

If you want to do well on YouTube, your video needs to do well in the first 24 hours. It’s the opposite of traditional SEO. On YouTube, you’ll rank right away and get tons of traffic if you can make sure the first 24 hours are successful.

Every time you release a video, promote it to your email list, push notification list, and messenger bot list. It’s a great way to ensure your video does well.

Hack #9: Facebook loves comments

One of the largest parts about Facebook’s algorithm is how many comments you generate. The more comments you generate the more views your videos will get and the more reach your status updates and posts will get.

Asking people to leave a simple comment helps more than a like or share.

For example, in a video, I may ask the question of… “Do you use voice search? If you do, leave a comment with yes and if you don’t, leave a comment with no.” It doesn’t matter what people type as their comment, but this is the easiest way to ensure you get 2 to 3 times more reach from Facebook’s algorithm.

I’ve tested this a handful of times and the key is to make it easy for your fans to leave a comment. If you ask them to type up a sentence or a paragraph, you’ll get fewer comments.

Hack #10: Adding the year to your title tag increases CTR

If a lot of your traffic is generating from your blog, the easiest way to boost your rankings is by getting a better click-through-rate than all of the other listings.

Adding the year in your title tag lets people know your content is up to date and relevant and typically it helps get more clicks than anything else.

For example, the title “The Complete List of SEO Tools (Updated in 2018)” would do better than “The Complete List of SEO Tools”.

Another example that worked well was, “How to Start a Blog in 2019.” That generated way more clicks as people want to know how to start a blog in today’s competitive environment.

On the flip side, if you add a year to your title tag and your content is old and outdated, you will get a lot of bounce backs, which means your rankings will go down. So be careful when using this hack.

Hack #11: Don’t put dates in your URL

A lot of bloggers and site owners put dates in their URL in hopes that news sites will crawl them.

Don’t do this!

I removed the dates in my URLs and my search traffic went up 58%. It was the easiest and dumbest marketing win I ever got. When I removed the date in my URLs, it took 30 days to see the results.

And if you leverage this hack, make sure you use 301 redirects and you update all of your internal links to the new URL.

Hack #12: Subdirectories over subdomains

People love using subdomains, but Google passes more juice to subfolders. When I changed blog.crazyegg.com to crazyegg.com/blog, I saw an instant 11% increase in search traffic.

Now, it didn’t happen overnight, but it was close enough… I saw the results within 7 days. Same when I moved the blog on TimothySykes.com into a subfolder.

If you are going to use this hack, you also need to change your internal links to the new URL and, of course, 301 redirect the old URLs to the new ones.

Hack #13: Hreflang works better with subdomains

I know above I said subdirectories work better than subdomains, but that is not true when you are translating your content into different languages.

For example, if you are expanding your website into Portuguese for Brazil you are better off creating URL structure that is br.yourdomain.com than youdomain.com/br/.

I need to fix this on NeilPatel.com still, but when I tested this on 2 other sites that focused on the global market, one saw a 17% increase in international search traffic within 3 months and the other saw a 23% increase in international search traffic within 3 months.

Hack #14: Start with the Link Intersect

Links still matter when it comes to SEO. And it will for a very long time because it is becoming harder to build them.

The easiest way to build them is by using the Link Intersect feature by Ahrefs. What this Ahrefs feature does is it shows you everyone who links to your competitors but not you.

If someone is linking to 3 or 4 of your competitors, this tells you that they don’t mind linking out and there is a good chance you can get them to link to you.

Hack #15: It’s easier to build up a personal brand

From social profiles to blog traffic, people relate more to personal brands than they relate to corporate brands.

If you want more followers on your social profiles and you want to quickly grow your traffic fast, make everything around a personal brand.

But keep in mind, a personal brand is harder to sell and grow into a multi-billion dollar company.

Hack #16: The best way to get podcast listeners is through an exit popup

If you want more listeners for your podcast, the best way is to add an exit popup to your mobile site.

And on your mobile exit popup, ask people to subscribe to your podcast. Don’t use the same exit popup for all mobile devices, you should be sending people who use iPhones to the iTunes Store and people using Android to their version of the iTunes store.

Keep in mind that showing an exit popup on mobile devices is irritating, so wait at least 30 seconds before you show mobile users an exit popup.

Hack #17: LinkedIn prefers video

If you want to get the most attention from LinkedIn, upload videos instead of text-based content. Videos on LinkedIn get 2 to 3 times more engagement than text.

So, if you want more traffic from LinkedIn, upload videos.

And if you want more traffic from any social network, look to see what type of content they are lacking. If you provide them with that type of content, you’ll notice that your traffic will go up.

Hack #18: Journeys and courses convert better than ebooks

Typically, most people offer ebooks in exchange for an email. And although it is more effective to give away an ebook in exchange for an email address than it is to ask people to opt into your newsletter, it still isn’t the best strategy.

If you offer a 30-day course or if you offer a journey, you’ll generate more email subscribers.

A good example of a 30-day course is, “30-Day Free Course: Double Your Traffic in 30 Days.” A good example of a journey is, “Follow My Journey to $100,000, I Am Learning a Lot and So Will You.”

Hack #19: Buying sites is cheaper than buying traffic

If you know certain pay-per-click terms convert extremely well, why not just buy a site that already ranks for all of those terms.

That’s what I did when I recently spent $500,000. I bought a website that already has traffic.

If you buy a site that already has the traffic, keep in mind that the traffic won’t convert as well as paid traffic.

With paid traffic, you are able to control your landing page more, limit the amount of text, and optimize for conversions. Nonetheless, it is still worth buying sites who already have your audience.

Hack #20: Quizzes collect more leads than lead forms

Most people collect leads by asking people to fill out lead forms. It’s not as effective as collecting leads through quizzes.

Here is a good example of this.

When I converted my lead form pages into a quiz, I increased my lead count by 281%.

If you don’t know how to create a lead generation quiz, you can always use tools like Lead Quizzes.

Hack #21: Tools generate more traffic than content marketing

The upfront cost is higher, but the long-term cost is significantly less.

For example, when I created the SEO Analyzer I put in around $25,000 in money and another $1,800 each month for hosting, but it consistently brings in 73,201 visitors a month.

Ubersuggest costs me more, but it brings in 492,394 visitors a month.

In general, tools are easier to maintain and are more affordable in the long run for how many visitors they generate.

Hack #22: Send paid traffic to content first

Marketing is like dating. You can’t expect to send cold traffic to a product or service and expect people to buy a high-ticket item.

You’ll find that paid advertising is much more effective and affordable for selling high ticket items if you send people to an educational piece of content such as a blog post. And then remarketing those visitors and then driving them to your product or service.

In the long run, this is cheaper if you are selling products for above $500 and it is more effective as paid ads to content are cheaper than paid ads to landing pages.

Hack #23: Facebook Info and Ads

Are you struggling to run Facebook Ads that convert and are profitable when you know your competitors are crushing it on Facebook? Well, struggle no more.

Go to your competitor’s fan page and in the left navigation bar click on “info and ads.” This will show you all of the ads that your competition is currently running.

Now when you create Facebook ads, start off by running similar ads to your competition. This will give you the best shot at success.

Hack #24: Respond to comments with a question

As I broke down in hack number 9, Facebook loves comments.

Another simple hack, which works for Facebook and every other social network, is to respond to comments answering their question and of course also asking another question.

This keeps the momentum going and it causes a portion of the people who left a comment to come back and leave another comment.

By doing this on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn, you will find yourself getting more reach for every single thing you share on each of those networks.

I know this hack sounds dumb, but it works really well and no one leverages it.

Hack #25: Don’t forget about the AMP framework

No one talks about Google’s AMP framework, but it is a simple way to get more mobile traffic.

If you are targeting traffic from the United States or even most parts of Europe like the UK or Germany, the AMP framework won’t give you a lift in traffic.

But if you are also targeting international markets where their infrastructure isn’t as great, AMP framework will give you a boost in search traffic.

For example, when I rolled out the AMP pages in Brazil, I got a 28% increase in mobile search traffic.

For markets where their infrastructure isn’t as developed and people rely on mobile devices, enabling the AMP framework will typically give you a 20 to 30% boost in mobile search traffic for those regions.

Hack #26: Webinars are the best way to sell ebooks and courses

If you want to monetize your blog, the best way is usually selling ebooks and courses. But driving people to a sales page to sell an ebook isn’t too effective.

Instead, if you create a webinar and then sell a $497 or $997 ebook/course, it is much more effective.

It’s so effective, in fact, that I am able to get 3.6 sales for every 100 webinar registrations. This video will teach you how to do it step-by-step.

Hack #27: Order bumps don’t hurt conversions, they help increase revenue

On your checkout page, you don’t just want people to buy, you want them to spend more money.

The easiest way to generate more revenue from each customer, without reducing your conversion rate, is order bumps.

As long as you make your order bump a really good deal, it can typically add $5 to $15 to every purchase on average.

If you don’t have an order bump, you should create one right away.

Hack #28: Share your content over and over again

You spend all of this time writing content, but then you spend very little time promoting it.

What most people do is write content and then share it on all of their social profiles. A few people send out email blasts notifying people about their content, which you should also do.

But if you want to double your social traffic, what I do is share the same piece of content 6 times throughout the next 12 months. In other words, retweet that content 6 times. Share the same post on LinkedIn a few times over the next 12 months.

As for Facebook, sharing the same URL over and over again doesn’t work, but the other social networks are fine with this.

This one simple hack has doubled the amount of traffic I get from social sites on a monthly basis. Best of all, no one really complains as the majority of your social connects won’t see the content the first time you post it.

Conclusion

I know some of the hacks I mentioned above seem simple, but they work. And if I had to bet you a dollar, you don’t do most of those “simple” hacks.

No matter what vertical you are marketing in, it’s competitive. You aren’t going to find one hack that’ll drastically increase your traffic. You’ll find that you need to do a lot of little things.

But don’t take them for granted because all of those little things add up to a massive amount of traffic over time.

What other hacks do you leverage to increase traffic and sales?

The post My Secret Playbook: 28 Hacks Guaranteed to Grow Your Traffic and Sales appeared first on Neil Patel.

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Google Analytics 360: The Features Worth $150k a Year

sourced from: https://conversionxl.com/blog/google-analytics-360/

For many, Google Analytics 360 is a black box. Marketing and sales collateral from Google is spartan, and common refrains about key features—like unsampled data—seem unworthy of a six-figure bill for most sites.

That disconnect exists because many, myself included, have understood Google Analytics 360 primarily as an expansion of the data caps we encounter with the free version. As it turns out, those caps represent a fraction of overall value—like differentiating a presidential suite from a standard room based on square footage.

Charles Farina of Analytics Pros, who has used Google Analytics 360 for years, gave me an hour-long walkthrough of the platform to highlight the most meaningful differences: those that drive ROI.

Google Analytics 360 overview

Google Analytics 360 (GA360) is one of seven components of the Google Marketing Platform. With paid access to GA360—$150,000 per year, billed monthly at $12,500 with an annual contract—users also get access to 360 versions of other products:

The announcement of the Google Marketing Platform, in June 2018, combined paid ad platforms and the Google Analytics 360 Suite. (Image source)

The GA360 license is all-inclusive: There are no tiers or additional features to unlock. (Users get credits toward BigQuery; extensive querying of GA data in BigQuery could generate added costs.)

Some differences in functionality between 360 versions and their free counterparts are limited. Tag Manager 360, for example, touts “enterprise level support” as the primary benefit.

This post focuses on Analytics 360 and the integrations with other platform products that occur within the Google Analytics UI.

Google Analytics 360 vs Google Analytics

Dry lists of feature comparisons are available in other posts, like this one from Blast Analytics or this one from Google. I won’t replicate those resources here, but a few oft-cited, quantitative differences are worth mentioning:

Sampling. The free version of GA begins sampling data for non-default reports that exceed 500,000 sessions. GA360 doesn’t begin sampling data until reports exceed 100 million sessions. The free version also stops recording data at 10 million hits per month compared to 2 billion for GA360.
Time lag. GA360 pushes all data into its reporting interface within four hours and often does so in a matter of minutes. That near-real-time data entry is faster than the free version, which usually takes a full day to process data.
Export size. GA360 allows 3 million rows; the free version offers 50,000.
Custom dimensions and metrics. GA360 offers 200 of each compared to the free version, which provides 20.

And yet, most businesses are not another custom dimension (or 50) away from actionable data; few make different decisions because their data is based on 87% of all sessions. (As Farina noted, “if you have 50% sampling, it’s still very likely that the data is directional.”)

Other well-known differences focus less on raw numbers and more on enterprise business needs:

Roll-up reporting. GA360 allows users to roll up reporting from multiple properties efficiently with capabilities not available in the free version—deduplicating users, stitching sessions, inheriting custom dimensions and metrics, etc.
Data-driven attribution modeling. GA360 moves beyond the standard attribution models available in the free version and—using machine learning—creates custom attribution models with data from GA and connected accounts, including TV ad buys.

A report showing weighted attribution in Attribution 360, which allows users to create custom attribution models for GA data.

Each of the above features enables the collection of more data, improves the quality of data, or increases the accuracy of calculations from it. Still, those differences only hint at the bottom-line benefits of GA360, which center on:

Connections between Google Analytics data and personally identifiable information.
Integrations with a wider range of ad networks.
Granular, actionable data visualizations.

Farina walked me through each.

The Google Analytics 360 benefits that generate ROI
1. Connections between Google Analytics data and personally identifiable information

In a previous agency job, I’d seen clients switch from Google Analytics to Adobe Analytics for one reason—to connect anonymous analytics data to specific users. Google Analytics has unambiguous warnings about collecting personally identifiable information (PII), which chases some to Adobe:

(Image source)

A platform change for that reason, it turns out, is unwarranted—if you take your GA data to the international waters of BigQuery.

BigQuery

BigQuery, part of the Google Cloud Platform, is a fully managed data warehouse. Integrating GA data with BigQuery is possible only with GA360. BigQuery starts with 13 months of historical GA data, collecting new data indefinitely moving forward.

“At the end of the day,” Farina explained, “if you can get data into BigQuery and you have a question you can write to that data, BigQuery will go out and answer that question without you having to worry about storage or compute or memory.”

BigQuery bridges the gap between anonymous GA IDs and CRM data.

It is possible to export data from the free version of GA into another platform, but the process is incomplete and doesn’t scale: It relies on the GA API—a source of report data but not raw data—or a plugin, like the one for Google Sheets.

Because it has different Terms of Service, BigQuery can join GA data with PII—from your CRM or anything else you choose to connect. Once data is in BigQuery, SQL scripts return a user-by-user table with the requested data:

BigQuery can join data in GA to a CRM via, for example, a hidden field in a contact form that passes the anonymous GA ID into a field tied to an individual ID in a CRM.

As Farina detailed, some companies use BigQuery as their primary data warehouse; others treat BigQuery as a way station before passing data on (via export) to a preferred cloud storage system.

(BigQuery is HIPPA compliant, making it a viable repository for medical data or, consequently, any other type of personal data.)

GA360 and Salesforce integration

In 2017, Google announced a partnership with Salesforce; the two companies deepened that partnership in 2018. (Salesforce is now a reseller of GA360.) The collaboration yielded several integrations. Those with access to both products can:

Move Salesforce data from Sales Cloud into GA360 for attribution reports, bid optimization, and audience creation.
Push GA360 data into the Salesforce Marketing Cloud reporting UI.
Connect GA360 audiences to Salesforce Marketing Cloud for inclusion in Salesforce campaigns (e.g. email, SMS).
Create audience lists from customer interactions in the Salesforce Marketing Cloud.
Import Salesforce Sales Cloud user attributes, Einstein Lead Scoring, and ecommerce metrics into GA360.

Those integrations enable the creation of funnels like the one below, which draws on data from both platforms:

The Salesforce integration lets users create funnels with GA and Salesforce data. (Image source)

In another use case Farina suggested, companies could customize email content based on browsing behavior. If you manage a daily digest for The Seattle Times, for example, you could include more sports stories for sports junkies and more political headlines for partisans.

I asked Farina if the Salesforce integration was likely the first of many GA–CRM connections. But the Google–Salesforce partnership, Farina speculated, is unique: “Google doesn’t have a strong martech—no email tool, CRM, CMS; Salesforce doesn’t have enterprise analytics.”

The decision to integrate Salesforce with GA360, he continued, arose from the ongoing consolidation of martech stacks by Adobe: Adobe purchased Marketo in 2018, pressuring Google and Salesforce to offer a competitive alternative.

2. Integrations with a wider range of ad networks

Ad spend, rather than total traffic, may be the easiest way to justify a GA360 investment. If you’re currently spending $100,000 per month in Google Ads, Farina postulated, how much more efficient could you be with GA360? A 10% increase in efficiency would nearly cover the cost of GA360.

Not surprisingly, Google has case studies detailing strong improvements:

Panasonic used GA360 to increase the return on advertising spend (ROAS) by 30%.
Moncler’s GA360 investment delivered a 35% improvement to their ROAS.

The free version of Google Analytics already includes robust (yet underused) integrations with Google Ads. As Farina highlighted, you can build segments based on a combination of conditions, then export that audience to Google Ads for remarketing.

GA360 extends the capabilities available for Google Ads to other platforms and networks, like Campaign Manager, as well as non-Google networks, like Index Exchange, in Display & Video 360.

Display & Video 360
Display & Video 360 extends GA functionality for Google Ads to more ad networks.

Display & Video 360 pulls click- and view-through data from display and video ads into Google Analytics. The ability to include display view-throughs in Multi-Channel Funnels strengthens attribution models. In the example below, the eye icon represents display impressions:

View-through data sheds light on potential catalysts for conversions from direct or organic sessions. Adding a secondary dimension, like Campaign, identifies instances when display impressions for a particular campaign were not the first brand interaction (and, therefore, deserve less credit in any attribution model):

Because the data exists in BigQuery as well, audiences transition fluidly between anonymous Google Analytics users and known leads or customers in a CRM.

Thus, the value of GA360 is not merely getting more granular data on ad impressions but attaching that data to real users for smarter retargeting or tailored email campaigns.

3. Granular, actionable data visualizations

Two high-value data visualizations are unique to GA360: Custom Funnels and Advanced Analysis.

Custom Funnels

Building a useful funnel in the free version of Google Analytics, Farina conceded, is nearly impossible. In GA360, it’s simple—agonizingly so for those who have labored through funnel creation or analysis in the standard version.

Farina demonstrated how GA360 translates any combination of variables into a funnel in seconds:

Custom Funnels are easy to create and simple to export as an audience or segment.

Like other GA360 features, the primary benefit of Custom Funnels is not only visualizing user behavior but translating that visualization into action through export to a marketing automation platform.

Advanced Analysis

Advanced Analysis, still in Google’s beta purgatory, “sits very closely between Data Studio and Analytics,” according to Farina.

Its drag-and-drop interface offers several report types, including a Segment Overlap that identifies users who share characteristics. That visualization, in turn, is available for export back into Analytics, where you can drill down from the audience level to the individual user:

Advanced Analysis combines elegant visualization with granular user information.
Product-market fit and alternative solutions

A common refrain from Farina was that GA360 is an enterprise product—most users fail to max out the capabilities of the free version and wrongly assume that an unsampled report or limited export holds back analysis and growth.

Companies that are a good product-market fit for GA360 likely fall into one of three categories:

Extremely high-traffic sites. According to Quantcast, about 600 U.S. sites generate more than 1 million monthly visitors—enough so that a month’s worth of data is sampled below the 50% threshold. For those sites (and many with less traffic), an enterprise analytics tool is essential.
Large B2B companies that already use Salesforce. The managed integration of Google Analytics and Salesforce data would likely cover the costs for any independent effort to bind analytics and CRM data.
Companies with high ad spend. As noted earlier, a $100,000 monthly ad spend requires a 12.5% increase in efficiency to cover the cost of GA360.

What about alternative analytics platforms like Heap, Segment, or similar options? Where do they fit into the analytics conversation?

To Farina, they’re good options for “advanced businesses with small data sets that don’t have the ad spend, volume, or are not yet at a level where $12,500 per month is something that they can allocate.”

A potential challenge of a patchwork system, Farina continued, is aligning all teams on the same data:

Even if you use Heap, it’s likely that Google Analytics is still a primary tool that marketing uses, where Heap might be something that the data science team starts to use more.

And the challenge that we’ve seen again and again is that, at that point, you have two different data sets and two different implementations and two different sets of metrics and conversions.

That can be a real challenge, especially when the data is not directional between platforms, and you get into this area where no one trusts it, no one is using it, and you’re not getting value out of either side.

I asked Farina a final question: If Google is worried about competition from Adobe, why not just give away other 360 features for free? Or charge $100 per month?

Some aspects of Google Analytics 360 are a clear drain on server resources, but others, like the ability to connect GA data to a CRM, could quickly undermine a primary selling point for Adobe.

“There’s a user journey,” Farina argued. “We already have great solutions for mid-market. You can use something like Google Analytics and add Segment or Heap if you’re not at the level of being able to benefit from a Google Analytics 360 or Adobe.”

Conclusion

If you continually bump up against the data caps of the free version of Google Analytics, a switch to Google Analytics 360 may be necessary—even though the business case might remain murky. You’ll get more complete data, but how will you drive more revenue with it?

The key benefits of GA360, then, are about putting data to work:

Using BigQuery to connect on-site behavior with individual users for targeting via marketing automation platforms.
Exporting tailored audiences in Google Analytics back into ad platforms for smarter remarketing.
Using integrated ad spend data to create more reliable attribution models that, in turn, dictate ad spend.

Ultimately, Farina’s reference to the “user journey” applies to more than the analytics platform. It also includes overall marketing maturity: Even user-specific data or actionable attribution modeling will fail to deliver ROI unless those insights direct marketing efforts beyond analytics.

The post Google Analytics 360: The Features Worth $150k a Year appeared first on CXL.

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The 2018 State of Conversion Optimization Report

sourced from: https://conversionxl.com/blog/2018-conversion-optimization-report/

To assess the State of the Conversion Optimization Industry in 2018, we gave a 26 question survey to 701 people who work in the optimization space.

This year we partnered with VWO, the all-in-one platform that helps you conduct visitor research, build an optimization roadmap, and run continuous experimentation. This partnership resulted in a great success as we were able to reach more than double respondents compared to last year (701 vs. 333).

This is the third issue of our report (the first was published in 2016) and—with three datasets available—we begin to see some trends.

This post outlines some of our findings. You can download the full report for free here.

Some major findings this year:

Global trends for prioritizing and investing in CRO;
Which industry (Ecommerce, Lead Gen, SaaS, Agencies) is investing more in CRO;
The biggest struggles of CROs;
How much CROs make (by industry and work experience).

Let’s begin…

Demographics: The profile of an optimizer
Gender

CRO professionals are mostly male. The imbalance was evident in 2016, and the trend seems to be continuing (at least in our sample population). The female CRO population decreased from 27.6% (2016) to 17.3% (2018).

Age group

Concerning age, there is no big change from the previous year. Almost 50% of the CRO population is in the 30–40 age group.

Female CROs seem to be younger; they’re equally distributed in the age groups 20–30 and 30–40.

Location

While a plurality of survey responses came from the United States (30.6%), we received responses from 68 Countries.

Four countries—United States, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, and Canada (ordered by number of respondents)—account for 54% of all responses.

Company type

The proportion of CRO professionals working in-house and those working at an agency (or freelance) has remained stable throughout the three years of the survey. This year, 56.7% reported working in-house; 43.3% work with clients.

Most CROs work at an agency (or as freelancers) or in ecommerce. All other industries combined—SaaS, Lead Gen, Publishing/Media, Non-profit/Government) make up just 34.9% of the total.

We spotted one trend: The percentage of professionals working in ecommerce is decreasing while the percentage of those working in agencies (or freelancing) is increasing.

Note: We still do not have enough data on the Publishing/Media or Non-Profit/Government sectors, so we will not focus on those when comparing industry trends.

Most respondents (51.9%) work exclusively on optimization of desktop and mobile websites. As in previous years, very few optimize mobile applications.

Salary

In 2018, the average salary of CROs is $69,238 ($64,984 in 2017, $71,340 in 2016).

In 2016, the United States had the highest average salary at $87,926; in 2017, Australia took the prize with an average salary of $88,676. This year, the United States wins the crown with a whopping $95,431.

Among the top four countries (by number of respondents), the lowest salaries were in The Netherlands, where a CRO professional makes an average of $56,847.

By industry, SaaS companies pay more than others. CROs working in SaaS make an average of $84,294; no other industry reaches the $70k mark. The Publishing/Media industry has the lowest average pay, with a salary of just $48,750.

So, if you want to make big money as a CRO expert, should you be based in the United States and work in the SaaS industry? Yes! Survey data backs this up (brilliant), with 47 (wealthy) respondents in this very situation who make an average of $109,680 per year.

On the other side of the spectrum, you probably don’t want to live in The Netherlands and work in the Publishing/Media Industry: You would have just $49,166 to show for one year of CRO efforts.

But before you pack your things to move to the United States: Salary correlates strongly with experience:

You need several years of CRO experience before you can score big numbers.

(If you want to expedite that personal development—and earn the commensurate salary—you need to know your stuff. At CXL Institute, we teach CROs the strategies and tactics of top practitioners.)

Work Experience

Speaking of experience, 62.4% of respondents have been working in the CRO space for less than 4 years and 81.7% for less than 6 years. CRO is still a very young industry.

The CRO process

A company is only as good as its processes. Processes achieve consistent, long-term results. But do you know what CROs reported as their biggest struggle in 2018?

The lack of a well-defined, efficient process.

Here are the relevant questions we asked:

Who does optimization in your organization?
How often do you meet with others on your optimization team to discuss CRO?
Does your team have a conversion optimization process that you follow?
Do you have a formal conversion/user-research process you use for extracting insights?
Do you have a test prioritization framework that you follow?
Approximately how many online experiments (tests) does your team run every month?

CRO and teamwork

Companies take CRO seriously: In over 60% of cases, CRO is in the hands of a specific person or a dedicated team.

Across all industries, only 15.8% of respondents stated that “Optimization is nobody’s primary job.”

Ecommerce, SaaS, and Lead Gen companies are investing in CRO. Over 30% of respondents working in these industries report working on a CRO team (with 25% working independently on CRO).

Not surprisingly, agencies are the most likely to have a CRO team (40%).

CRO meetings

CRO meetings are most often held weekly..or not at all. Some 30.6% of respondents report weekly meetings, while 29.2% report meeting “only when necessary.”

Among those having at least one CRO meeting per week (daily or weekly), three industries stand out: Ecommerce (51.7%), Lead Gen (46.6%), Agencies/Freelancers (45.1%). All the other industries scored below average.

The CRO process in detail

When it comes to a CRO process, the SaaS industry lags behind. While 23.7% of companies have no structured process, the percentage of SaaS Companies with no process is 31.7%.

Ecommerce and Agencies are the most structured, beating the average of 37.6% that have a “documented/structured” process with 44.1% and 41.0%, respectively.

In 2018, the percentage of Companies without a formal research approach is almost the same as in 2017 (38–39%). There is an increase in the percentage of those who created their own process and a decrease of those using borrowed process, including ResearchXL.

We see this as a positive sign that indicates an increasing level of commitment to CRO activities.

Among companies with their own research process (39.4%), Agencies/Freelancers (43.5%) and Lead Gen (41.9%) stand out. Ecommerce is on par with the average, and SaaS lags behind (33.7%).

Another important component of the overall CRO process is the system used for the prioritization of tests. While most companies use a test prioritization framework, 43.6% just wing it. Things are getting better—it was 47.1% in 2017.

Ecommerce companies and Agencies beat the average when it comes to investing in an “in-house” tool.

CRO execution

Most companies (68.2%) do not execute more than four tests per month. SaaS and Leag Gen companies are equally “slow” while Agencies are leading the way, with 39% executing more than four tests per month.

A slow rate of testing by in-house teams is one reason why companies outsource CRO work to agencies (like our own CXL Agency).

Agencies live and die by the ROI they deliver to clients, motivating investments in better systems and teamwork, which return higher execution speed—and greater ROI (more on that below).

Tracking results and ROI

A good process should be self-improving; there should be procedures in place to learn from experience and modify the process as necessary. This is possible only if results are handled and evaluated properly and shared across the CRO team.

To get a good idea of what’s going on in the CRO Industry, we asked the following binary questions:

Is the percentage of winning tests tracked?
Is the average lift per test tracked?
Are CRO test results shared across your team?

Lead Gen companies scored “Yes” most often, followed closely by Ecommerce organizations.

When we asked, “How are CRO test results typically archived?”, we found a gradual trend towards better results handling. Only 20.7% of respondents fail to archive results, an improvement from the 24.1% we measured in 2016.

Most companies still export and archive full data with screenshots, but more than a third (a 36.6% cross-industry average) opt for specific archiving tools or testing tools with built-in archives.

Proving the ROI

As we learned from this survey, proving the ROI of CRO activities is one of the top six struggles of CROs. (You don’t have to guess the other struggles—just keep reading.) If your leadership doesn’t believe that conversion optimization will yield returns, that’s a big problem when you have to get buy-in.

Does CRO work?

In the survey, we asked participants to rate the results of their CRO efforts. Most respondents (56.4%) reported better results compared to the previous year, while 37% declared they achieved the same results.

The Lead Gen industry stands out, with 65.9% achieving better results than in 2017. But of course, “better” results don’t necessarily mean “very profitable” results.

To understand the perception of the ROI within organizations, let’s see how they’ve changed their CRO budget and priorities in 2018. Some 60.8% report that, in their organizations, CRO activities are given more priority than in 2017.

Again, professionals in the LeadGen Industry paint the best picture, scoring 65.9%. (Same percentage, same industry: It seems that getting results pays off.)

Only 7.8% of Companies are making CRO less of a priority in 2018.

But money is the final (and definitive) indicator of the effectiveness of conversion optimization, and only 45.0% of respondents report a bigger CRO budget than last year. Even in Lead Gen companies, a budget came in only 54.6% of cases.

This means that, although the perceived effectiveness of conversion optimization has made it more of a priority, that effectiveness has not driven a majority of organizations to put more money into CRO.

In most cases (over 90%), CRO still does not have a dedicated budget but is part of the overall budget or marketing budget. However, in 2018, 57.9% of companies specifically mention CRO in the budget. (It was 53% in 2017.)

Trends in testing

Here it comes the fun part: tests!

In the survey, we asked participants to rate the usefulness of different testing methods. Here is the list, ordered by the average score each method totaled:

Digital Analytics
A/B Testing
UX/Design
Copywriting
Psychology/Persuasion
User Testing
Customer Surveys
Personalization
Click Maps/Scroll Maps/Mouse Hover Maps
Website Polls
Eye Tracking
Biometric Research

The ranking is exactly the same as in 2107.

Some 97.6% of participants report running A/B/n tests, and 65.4% run exclusively A/B/n tests.

Compared to 2017, A/B/n increased in popularity; MVT is stable in the 31–32% range, although it has increased 25% increase compared to 2016.

Bandit tests are the least common, run by just 8.4% of our sample population.

Some 52.8% of CROs responding to our survey do not have a standardized stopping point for A/B testing—no change compared to 2017.

The biggest struggles

This year we asked an open-ended question: “In one sentence or phrase, what is your biggest CRO/Optimization challenge today?”

We collected 580 responses on this one, with a length ranging from 4 to 328 characters. (And, yes, the four-character answers were meaningful: “time.”) We analyzed each answer and identified 39 recurring topics.

After that, we created a scoring system based on the length of the answer (as suggested by Ryan Levesque in his book Ask), and we scored the topics. This method allowed us to sort topics (struggles) and assign a weight to the pain they cause.

According to this scoring system, 50% of the pain is caused by just six struggles:

Establishing a process
Learning/training
Educating clients
Proving ROI
Time and budget constraints
Integrating CRO into the business

Establish a sound process for CRO is by far the most common struggle—and the one that got the longest answers.

Almost all of the struggles mentioned above are internal struggles, meaning they arise not from external circumstances but from within the organization. This means that they can largely be fixed within the organization, too.

That brings us to the next batch of struggles, the ones that take our pain coverage from 50% to 80%:

Getting management onboard
Getting clients
Wrong expectations
Traffic
Building a CRO team
Client participation
Technical skills
Cooperation between development units

In this second batch, only two struggles are external: traffic and client participation. Everyone in the CRO space has experienced at least a few of the 14 struggles above. Curious about the other 15 struggles? Download the full report here.

Conclusion

Overall, there are largely positive changes compared to 2017, and we were able to dive deeper on how different industries are investing in CRO: Lead Gen has taken the lead, followed closely by Ecommerce and Agencies. SaaS still lags a bit behind, but not by far.

We are thrilled for what is coming in 2019 and we can’t wait to launch a new survey!

Wanna be in the 2019 Survey?

Over the three years that we’ve conducted this survey, we’ve noticed that CRO specialists tend to go by different job titles. This makes it hard to identify them correctly and to get in touch with them for a survey like this one.

Here are some job titles a CRO expert might go by:

Analyst
Conversion Optimizer
Conversion Specialist/Consultant/Strategist
CRO Specialist
Director of Optimization
Director of Marketing
Ecommerce Manager
Digital Marketing Analyst
Growth Hacker / Head of Growth
Digital Marketing Manager
Growth Marketing Manager
UX Analyst
Product Manager
Web Analyst
And so many more…

If you are a CRO specialist and want to participate in the 2019 Survey, leave us your email in this form. We’ll get in touch with you when the time comes to collect new data.

Download the full report—with more charts and data—here.

The post The 2018 State of Conversion Optimization Report appeared first on CXL.

0

How to Dominate Google in 2019

sourced from: https://neilpatel.com/blog/google-ranking/

You’ve already experienced it… SEO is becoming harder and harder.

As time goes on, it takes longer to rank and you have to spend more money to get the results you want.

But the reality is, you can’t wait forever to get results. And you have no choice but to leverage SEO as a tactic because everyone else is doing it.

So, what should you do?

Well, the first thing you need to do is adjust how you think about SEO. SEO isn’t only about rankings. To be honest, I don’t even track them for my own site. It’s about getting the right kind of traffic.

You know, the visitors who are ready to buy.

So, instead of teaching you how to rank for competitive head terms, which is going to be even more difficult in 2019, I’m going to break down a formula that will give you much faster results and sales in this ultra-competitive environment.

And best of all, I am going to break it down into 4 steps as I know you don’t have the time to do everything.

Here’s the 4-step SEO strategy you should follow in 2019:

Step #1: Attract customers before they are ready to buy

The most expensive keywords to go after are buyer intent keywords. You know, the ones where someone types in a keyword and is ready to spend money right then and there.

And that will always be the case. Not just from an SEO standpoint, but even a pay per click standpoint.

So, what should you do… not go after these lucrative keywords?

Of course not. More so, you have to go after them no matter how long it takes to rank. You just have to be patient.

But in the short run, there are other keywords you can go after that aren’t as competitive and don’t cause a sale right away. But they do cause a sale to happen… it just takes a few weeks from when that person first lands on your site to when they buy.

So how do you find the keywords that aren’t as competitive and cause people to buy (as long as you are willing to be patient)?

You use Google Correlate.

Here’s how it works…

Let’s say you are selling beard oil but you know the term is competitive and will take you a lot longer to rank for than you have.

So what do you do?

With Google Correlate, it will show you all of the terms people search for in Google before they search for the term “beard oil.”

In other words, these are the same people who buy beard oil products… but now you are going to attract them to your site before they are even ready to buy.

Type in “beard oil” or the term you want to rank for in Google Correlate. Then, shift series to -2 weeks, which means you will be given a list of terms people search for 2 weeks before they are likely to type in “beard oil.”

And then you will get a list of terms:

As you can see from the image above, people type in terms like beard products, best beard oil, beard balm, what is beard oil, and how to make beard oil.

If you write blog content that is super in depth about those phrases, you’ll appeal to people who also search for beard oil.

The cool part about Google Correlate is it works differently than Google Suggest or any other keyword tool because they are showing you what people search for before they are ready to buy.

And similar to how you put in -2 weeks as the shift series, you can turn it into a positive number and see what people search for weeks after looking up beard oil:

You’ll notice a lot of people who search for beard oil search for oils related to coughs.

Most people who sell beard oil probably don’t think about offering oils for coughing, but it is a similar audience and it’s a great way for you to generate extra revenue from the customer base you already have.

Step #2: Land and expand

Everyone focuses on ranking for new terms. But there is an issue, it’s hard to rank for new terms.

Even though SEO has a huge ROI, it’s a strategy that requires patience.

But here is the thing, you can get results faster if you use the land and expand strategy.

Here’s how it works. Log into Google Search Console. Next, click on “performance” and you will see a list of terms that you currently rank for:

Then I want you to click on one of the most popular terms you already rank for and then click on pages. You should see a report that shows you the URL that ranks for the term on Google. You need this URL because you will be modifying this page.

Now I want you to take that term and put it into Ubersuggest. Once the report loads, click on “Keyword Ideas” in the navigation. You’ll see a report that will look something like this:

You’ll see a laundry list of long tail phrases… I want you to take the ones that are buyer intent related and add them to the page that already ranks for the head term.

When adding the long tail phrases, make sure you adjust your content to be relevant to those keywords. And pick the ones that are highly related to your product or service. Just stuffing them into your page without adjusting the content is spammy and won’t provide a good user experience to searchers.

What you will find is that because you are already ranking for the head term, typically you will shoot to page one within 30 to 60 days for the long-tail variation by adjusting your content. It’s a quick win!

But the key to this strategy is to pick the right longtail keywords. Don’t just look at traffic numbers, focus on terms that you know will cause a sale or a lead.

Step #3: Build a brand

Google has been placing more emphasis on brands. In other words, if you have a strong brand, you’ll rank faster.

When I really started focusing on brand building, my traffic went from 240,839 in June 2016:

To 454,382 in August 2016:

As the Ex-CEO of Google said:

Brands are the solution, not the problem. Brands are how you sort out the cesspool.

In other words, if you want to succeed on Google in the long run, you have to build a brand. As your brand grows, your search traffic will as well.

The way to monitor your brand growth is Google Trends. Type in your brand name into Google Trends as well as a few of your competitors to see how you are stacking up.

Sadly, there isn’t a quick hack to skyrocket your brand. There is, however, a formula that works for both personal and corporate brands.

So, what is the formula?

You do something that is bold!

Sure people can tell you to blog, speak at conferences, run ads… but none of that helps you build a brand that has a loyal following because everyone else is already doing the same things (or trying at least).

But what your competition isn’t doing is being bold. If you want a brand like Tony Robbins or Apple, bold is the way to go.

So how do you do something that is bold?

Well, lets first start with a personal brand (although I recommend that you build a corporate one instead).

Do the opposite

When it comes to building a personal brand, you’ll have to take the opposite approach of most people in your space. Whatever is working for them won’t work for you.

No one cares for the copycat, especially when they are satisfied with the original solution.

In other words, if you do exactly what your competitor is doing no one will care to follow you.

Let me give you examples of how to do the opposite of your competition:

Genuinely help people – a lot of people blog and participate on the social web, but how many people take the time to respond to their community? As far as I can tell, less than 1%. Just look at me. For years, I’ve responded to comments on my blog, Facebook, and even YouTube. I am so engaged with my community on LinkedIn that they honored me as one of their Top Voices of 2018! Most people are too lazy to do this… doing the opposite has helped me build a connection with you. And if you are wondering why I do this it’s because when I started out I had no money and people helped me. I’m just trying to do the same.
Writing 10x content – when I got into blogging, everyone was doing it. So I had to find a way to separate myself. I did this by writing in-depth guides… not those 5,000-word blog posts, I am talking about 30,000-word guides. On top of that, I spent money on the design so they would look beautiful.
Creating video content – when I got into the digital marketing community, there were already large conferences that had thousands of attendees. I thought speaking at all of them would help my brand… and they did to some extent, but I was just another speaker. But very few people in my space were creating video content… so now instead of giving speeches at conferences, I give them on YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn. I’m able to reach more people without having to travel and the content lives on forever (and is available for free to everyone!).

That’s how I stood out from my competition and built a personal brand. And then I did it for years as brands aren’t built overnight.

If you aren’t sure on how to do the opposite of your competition when it comes to your personal brand leave a comment and I’ll try and give you some ideas.

Now let’s go into building a brand for your company… It all comes down to one thing…

Be bold

No matter what you are selling online you have competition. It doesn’t matter if you are a B2B or a B2C business… you have competition, which means it is going to be hard for your brand to stand out.

So, how do you differentiate yourself?

You do so by being bold.

Let me give you an example. In the United States, there are tons of options when it comes to cell phone carriers. So how do you stand out when everyone offers the same phone and competitive pricing?

Well, T-Mobile separated themselves by offering free Netflix, unlimited data, and free roaming.

And you don’t have to be a big company to do something bold. When Zappos started selling shoes they decided to do a few things different. First, they offered a refund policy that lasted 1 year. Just think about that… if you return a shoe to them 12 months later, the chances are it’s out of style and they won’t be able to resell it.

Then they decided to randomly upgrade their shipping. So instead of ground shipping, they would randomly upgrade you to 2-day or next-day air.

And Amazon crushed their competition the moment they rolled out their Prime program. When it first came out, you would get free 2-day shipping on all Prime products for just $99 a year. What a ridiculously amazing offer.

Now that’s being bold!

Being bold doesn’t have to break your bank account. You don’t have to do something like Amazon and T-Mobile… it can be as simple as providing amazing customer service when you are in an industry that’s known for terrible support.

If you are unsure of how you can be bold with your business, leave a comment and I will try and give you some ideas. Make sure you provide an overview of your business so I can give you halfway decent ideas. 😉

And of course, being bold won’t build your brand overnight (it takes years) but you should see growth each quarter. If you aren’t, that means you aren’t being bold enough.

Step #4: Build a better mousetrap

A mousetrap? Why would you want to build a mousetrap?

Link building is still important. Sure, Google is looking at many other factors now, but link building still helps with rankings.

But it is harder to build links than it used to be back in the day. Everyone is blogging… heck, there are over 440 million blogs and over a billion if you count Tumblr, Medium, and WordPress.com.

Yes, that means there are more sites to hit up and ask for a link but everyone is doing that.

So how do you build links when everyone is getting those spammy emails asking for a link, such as the one below?

You have to build a better mousetrap. Something so amazing that everyone wants to link to it without you asking for a link.

It used to be detailed guides but seeing 10,000-word guides that have fancy designs are more common these days than when I started creating them.

They still work, especially when it comes to brand building, but they just aren’t as effective when it comes to link building.

Same with infographics, they used to get tons of social shares and links (they still do to some extent), but they aren’t as effective as they used to be.

So what kind of mousetrap do you need to build? You could start off with something that people are used to paying for.

For example, the consulting firm Price Intelligently released a free analytics software called ProfitWell.

With very little marketing, they were able to generate 943 backlinks from 187 domains.

I also did this with Ubersuggest.

I put in more effort into marketing, so I was able to generate 10,667 unique backlinks.

A great example in the consumer space (this would do wonders for e-commerce sites as well) is animated infographics. Everyone has seen infographics, so Aminagraffs decided to make their infographics animated, which caused them to go viral.

Here’s part of their infographic that breaks down how a car motor works.

Best of all, the Amimagraphs founder didn’t do any marketing… the graphic just spread. Even with no marketing, it generated 751 backlinks from 136 domains and over 200,000 visitors.

If you want to use old-school link building tactics, you can, they just won’t help you as much in 2019. So, get creative and build a better mousetrap.

When you build a good mousetrap, you may be worried about cost. But there is a different way to think about it…

How much would you be spending on marketing to get the same results?

People make fun of me for what I am doing with Ubersuggest and think it is silly that I can “lose” $150,000 or so a month. But if I had to buy the traffic that I get because of Ubersuggest it would cost me much more than $150,000. Even though my mousetrap is expensive, it is still cheaper than paid ads.

And you don’t have to go as far as me. Doing what Animagraffs is affordable. I paid them $750 to create an animated infographic for me. I’m not sure what they charge these days, but I bet you can find someone on the web who will do it for a few hundred bucks.

Conclusion

Instead of thinking of SEO in the traditional sense, I want you to shift your strategy.

SEO is only going to get harder, Google is going to continually change their algorithm in ways you may not like, but the one thing that is certain is the old way of doing SEO will get you results, just not in the timeframe you want.

So, follow the 4 steps above. They are unconventional, but the industry is so competitive and saturated that you have no choice but to think outside of the box.

So what other unique strategies are you going to leverage in 2019?

The post How to Dominate Google in 2019 appeared first on Neil Patel.

0

Optimizing Mobile Forms for More Conversions—and a Competitive Advantage

sourced from: https://conversionxl.com/blog/mobile-forms/

Done right, optimized mobile forms can deliver more than an increased conversion rate: They can become a competitive advantage—a reason users choose to fill out a form on your site.

It’s not hyperbole. Consider the number of interactions it takes to book a room on Hotel Tonight compared to its competitors, something Luke Wroblewski highlighted in his talk on mobile design:

“Booking a hotel happens in 3 taps and a swipe. This is a competitive advantage,” claimed Sam Shank, the CEO of Hotel Tonight.

For Hotel Tonight, the solution to mobile-form optimization was to “ruthlessly edit. Even when you have the slimmest funnel, cut again.”

Reducing form fields usually works, but, like every “best practice,” it’s not a guarantee. (Indeed, there may be times when increasing form fields boosts conversion rates.)

What follows is a mobile-specific framework for form optimization:

Key differences between the mobile and desktop UI
Form-wide considerations
Field-specific considerations
Tools to measure form performance

(If you’re new to form optimization, start here. If you really want to get into the weeds, consider Tom New’s course at CXL Institute.)

1. Key differences between the mobile and desktop UI

Three key UI differences create challenges for mobile-form design:

1. Aspect ratio. About 80–90% of smartphone use occurs in portrait orientation, which makes width a precious commodity: There’s more vertical space, and vertical scrolling is more intuitive.

In addition, of course, the screen size is smaller compared to tablets and desktops, making it less likely that your entire form will fit on the screen without scrolling.

2. Touchscreen navigation. There’s no mouse, and smartphone users with a stylus are in the minority. A touchscreen places added demands on the size and spacing of elements. It also means that there’s no hover state in which to add helpful information.

3. Limited keyboard. Smartphones have a limited keyboard—and an inconsistent one. Those factors justify careful consideration of which keyboard to show for which field and whether to enable (or disable) automated functions, like auto-capitalize.

These UI differences add to existing challenges—mobile users already represent a hurried, less-tolerant segment of users. Mobile conversion rates still lag behind those on desktop devices, though the conversion gap continues to close on segments of traffic, like email.

2. Form-wide considerations
Single-column design

In a previous research study, we found that single-column forms enabled faster completion compared to multi-column ones:

In our internal study, survey participants completed the linear, single-column form an average of 15.4 seconds faster than the multi-column form.

That gap in time-to-completion is almost certainly greater on mobile devices, which prioritize vertical scrolling.

Multi-step forms

Multi-step forms have the potential to eliminate scrolling entirely by fitting each form section within the smartphone window. They have added benefits for long forms:

Information can be saved after each step, making follow-up easier for form-abandoners and avoiding potential user frustration from a total loss of input caused by an accidental click or loss of connectivity.
They chunk segments of the form to reduce the cognitive load. For long forms, this can make the process seem less intimidating.

Image source

Multi-step forms come at a cost, however: Every step requires another page load—and load times may lag if your visitor doesn’t have a great connection (whether they live on a farm or pass through a subway tunnel).

Font size

A 16px font size is standard for body copy on mobile devices. Smaller (or larger) font sizes may cause issues, especially for those with visual impairments.

An NNGroup report on sizes, based on research from MIT, offers caveats for text elements that require only a brief “glance”—one to two words in isolation, like “Phone number” or “Street address.”

The MIT study, which measured reading speed, compared two font sizes (10px and 8px) as well as different cases and letter widths. Their findings offer baseline recommendations for smaller-than-average text:

Don’t use a font size below 10px.
Use all caps.
Maintain standard lettering width.

An MIT study on font sizes found that all-caps, standard-width letters were easier to read. (Image source)
Touch-target size

Small buttons risk imprecision on the part of the user or the device. Touch-targets for mobile devices have minimum size recommendations. Per Steven Hoober, the minimum size grows larger as the target moves away from the center of the screen, where user taps are most accurate:

7 mm in the center of the screen.
9 mm along the edges.
12 mm in the corners.

Material Design Accessibility guidelines offer a similar recommendation: 7–10mm for touch targets. (Convert to other units here.)

Touch-target sizes should increase with the button’s distance from the center of the screen. (Image source)

Notably, visible buttons or icons may be smaller than the touch targets, but the size of the touch targets should cover the minimum area, even if the icon or button doesn’t fill the space.

As far as padding between touch targets—again, not the visible buttons but the invisible touch targets surrounding them—Material Design guidelines recommend a minimum of 1.3 mm.

Total form fields

As noted earlier, conventional form wisdom suggests that fewer form fields yield more conversions because each field increases friction.

Since filling out a form is less convenient on a mobile device—keyboards are smaller and partial, touch is less precise than a mouse click—the reasons that removing form fields usually works on any device are, presumably, more true for smartphones. (That logic won’t bail you out of testing.)

Some pre-conversion form fields can be moved rather removed:

Account creation. Account creation is a common source of friction that is unnecessary for purchase. “Thank you” pages can help solve that challenge by:

Moving form fields from a checkout process to a post-purchase phase.
Asking only past purchasers to create an account that eases repeat purchasing.
Prepopulating fields with information from the just-completed sale.

CAPTCHA. Consider replacing a CAPTCHA with email confirmation; the semi-scrutable lettering may be wholly inscrutable on mobile, and an email confirmation may be equally effective at ignoring spam entries.

Form deployment

In 2017, Google began demoting “pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results.” These pages blocked their “main” content with pop-ups, or interstitials, which are often lead-generation forms:

Image source

Google defines three acceptable types of interstitials:

Those that inform users of cookie usage.
Those that require age verification.
Those that use “a reasonable amount of screen space.”

Any form optimization effort that ignores Google’s guidelines risks cutting off a supply of users to fill those forms, irrespective of their conversion rate.

3. Field-specific considerations
Automation

The automated features of smartphones offer risk and reward. HTML tags toggle automated features on and off based on the input field:

Autocorrect. Autocorrect may mistakenly correct information in fields with proper nouns (e.g. name, address).
Auto-capitalize. Auto-capitalize saves users effort for name and address fields but should be disabled for password fields.
Autocomplete or autofill. Autocomplete may be useful for finishing a known email address, but it may erroneously try to complete an order number with a phone number, or vice versa. You can offer hints in the code (e.g. autocomplete=”address-line1″) to increase the accuracy of autofill. (A zip code can also autofill the city and state—as long as users retain the ability to edit the occasional error.)

Autofill can save users time if deployed correctly. (Image source)

Autodetection. Asking for the credit card type is unnecessary; autodetection identifies the credit card based on the first four numbers, requiring form fillers to complete one less task.
Location detection. Location detection can identify the user’s country (at a minimum) or, using Google’s Places API or another geolocation API, a more specific place, like the nearest airport. Time your request for location information carefully—if you request access before users see the relevance, they may decline.

An option to use the current location or enter information manually offers users choice. (Image source)
Drop-downs

Luke Wroblewski refers to dropdowns as a “UI of last resort;” research shows that mobile forms with dropdowns take longer to complete. That’s because mobile dropdowns:

Require more interactions.
Obscure user choices.

There are other options:

Steppers. A +/– set of controls can be grouped together or separated by the element label. Steppers work well for quantities that have a reasonable upper bound, like hotel or airline reservations. (Site visitors rarely book rooms or flights for more than a few people.)

Image source

Segments. When the options are limited, a segmented control allows a user to see all available choices at once:

Image source

Sliders. Sliders can be used for large ranges or those with a Min-Max variable:

Date pickers. A calendar picker, rather than a drop-down list of days, months, and years, can reduce the total number of taps. (Unless you’re asking for a date of birth—clicking back decades in a calendar would be an ordeal.)

The same research study that found that dropdowns slowed form completion also found that a single date picker—despite requiring fewer total interactions—slowed form completion, too. Two separate date pickers (for start and end dates) resulted in faster task completion:

Image source

Notably, Luke Wroblewski’s study found the opposite effect—a single date picker worked better. (Takeaways: Not all date pickers are created equal; users vary; a single study is not immutable truth; the better option is the one that wins a test on your site.)

For added post-selection clarity, consider displaying the total time and days of the week the user has selected:

Image source

For large ranges that are a bad fit for the aforementioned alternatives—like a U.S. user’s state—predictive input fields (a form of autocomplete) can quickly narrow down a long list after a user enters the first letter or two.

Field masks

Field masks can help reduce errors and speed up form completion by displaying the proper format for a response that could have many formats, like a telephone or credit card number:

The field mask displays the proper format as soon as the user enters the field. (Image source)

Masks can also ignore invalid inputs (e.g. a slash in a credit-card number) and reduce the urge to split fields for the sake of data validation (e.g. making a phone number three separate fields). Moving between fields, especially ones with small touch targets, is cumbersome on mobile devices.

As Luke Wroblewski argues, masks should also:

Be visible from the start. If the mask reveals gradually, users are still guessing from input to input if they’re on the right track.
Not include placeholder text. Doing so may cause users to skip over a field because it appears pre-filled. An outline of the expected input, such as “(     )      –          ” can set expectations while also clearly looking incomplete. If you use placeholder text, an obviously incorrect response “(XXX) XXX-XXXX” may cause fewer users to skip over it.

Placeholder text is not a replacement for a form label since it disappears once a user starts typing, forcing them to rely on their short-term memory for form-field identification, which becomes more challenging if the field later returns an error.

Field labels

The condensed space on a mobile device makes easy-to-read field labels essential. The aspect ratio alone (portrait instead of landscape) effectively mandates labels above rather than beside form fields. Otherwise, almost any entry would require horizontal scrolling to see the label and entry field at the same time.

One solution is a floating label, implemented via CSS or JavaScript. The form label initially appears inside the field in larger type (increasing readability while saving space), then migrates above the field (in smaller type) as soon as the user taps it:

The solution preserves screen space while also maintaining a persistent field label.

Field-specific keyboards

Since its release in 2014, HTML5 has allowed developers to define the input type (e.g. “email,” “tel,” “datetime,” etc.) to return an appropriate mobile keyboard when a user taps into the field.

Keyboard types offer obvious (a number pad for phone numbers) and subtle (the inclusion of the “@” symbol for email addresses) conveniences.

Default keyboard types for “tel” and “email” inputs, respectively. Note the inclusion of the “@” symbol for email inputs.
In-line validation

On most mobile forms, users can’t see the entire form; vertical scrolling is necessary to see all fields. That makes real-time, in-line validation—a best practice for forms on any device—more important.

Descriptive text—instead of simple green or red highlighting—helps users correct the error quickly and ensures accessibility for visually impaired users.

If users need to scroll to the top of the form to see errors, then scroll back down to the specific field, they may get lost or frustrated and give up.

Other optimizations

Form autofocus. Autofocus, another HTML5 attribute, highlights the current input field, making it easier for users to see which field they’re working in.

Suggestive field sizing. Sizing fields relative to the length of the anticipated input (e.g. a longer field for a street address compared to a zip code) offers a subtle reminder to users about input expectations.

Disabling the submit button. After a user taps to submit a form or complete a purchase, disabling buttons prevents an accidental click that may cause resubmission or navigate the user offsite before the conversion completes.

4. Tools to measure form performance

Granular measurement helps identify trouble spots within forms:

Which parts of the form take users the longest to complete?
At which point do users most often abandon the form?

Those trouble spots, in turn, allow for smarter testing. Google Tag Manager (GTM) is capable of tracking many aspects of form submissions through six built-in form variables:

Form Classes: gtm.elementClasses
Form Element: gtm.element
Form ID: gtm.elementId
Form Target: gtm.elementTarget
Form Text: gtm.elementText

Simo Ahava has published several guides on how to track form submissions through GTM, including:

User input entries for radio buttons, drop-down selections, checkboxes, etc.
Time to completion for an entire form or on a field-by-field basis.
Form abandonment.

During a recent (statistically insignificant) discussion on form analytics in our Facebook group, Formisimo was the preferred paid option, with an entry point of around $500 per month. Formisimo also has a higher-priced enterprise counterpart, Zuko.

Additional tools that track a more limited set of form analytics include Clicktale and Hotjar, among others.

Conclusion

Mobile forms restrict user interactions—there’s no mouse, an incomplete keyword, and a smaller, vertical screen. Those limitations make an intuitive and efficient user experience more important and, at times, more challenging to deliver.

But they also make some choices easier; not every form “optimization” needs to be tested. Delivering the appropriate keyboard for the appropriate field is a clear win. So, too, is a reasonably sized touch target or the use of a field mask to reject invalid inputs. Those UX improvements are an immediate opportunity for all sites, not just high-traffic ones.

Like all online efforts, form optimization is not a static discipline. Newer features like Touch ID, facial recognition, or photo scans of credit cards promise streamlined interactions at a critical juncture that, every year, occurs more frequently on mobile devices.

The post Optimizing Mobile Forms for More Conversions—and a Competitive Advantage appeared first on CXL.

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PPC Automation: Is the Future of Paid Search Already Here?

sourced from: https://conversionxl.com/blog/ppc-automation/

Will PPC look like this in 2020?

Probably not. Nonetheless, there are some amazing automation opportunities that make the life of Marketing Managers, CMOs, and PPC experts quicker and more efficient—especially for fast-growing companies that need to scale their campaigns.

PPC automation is a massive topic. In this post, I focus on automation within Google Ads. Google dominates the search market, with about two-thirds market share (roughly 90% if you include image and YouTube searches). So, if you’re looking for new business and easy scalability, the search network is one of your quickest routes.

In this post, I’ll show which PPC tasks can and can’t be automated—and share insider tips on how we automate PPC management at KlientBoost.

I’ll break this down into four major strategies within a search account:

Bidding
Ad Testing
Finding New Keywords
Negative Keyword Refinement

Automating different functions and processes in these four strategies will save time, resources, and even ad spend.

1. Automating Bidding Strategies

So what can you do with the automated bidding strategies rolling down the Google Ads pipeline? Don’t get too excited just yet. The algorithm that Google uses has not beat, in bulk, human-optimized campaigns that are running on manual CPC.

So the simple answer? Start with manual bidding. Start low and conservative, then work your way up as you collect data—it’s the easiest way to make sure you aren’t getting caught with the highest CPC in your industry.

Google has made rapid improvements to their automated bidding strategies, like Max Conversions and Target CPA. (I’ve seen some wins with this that I’ll talk about later.) However, when I tested the automated bidding betas for over 150 of my clients, manual CPC still won out.

One of the most frequent questions I’m asked about automated bidding is which strategy to pick when. I’ve put together a quick “Use Case” table to help you. These use cases are not only backed by Google, but they’ve also been confirmed by tests in our accounts:

Manual CPC may be the starting point, but let’s not forget the goal: automating PPC performance.

Running bidding experiments in Google Ads

I’m in love with A/B testing (like, in love). But with A/B testing, you need to minimize variables.

Typically, when people decide to test a new bidding strategy, they switch an entire campaign or even account over to their new bid model. That throws another major variable into the mix—time. How Manual Bidding performed in November versus how Maximize Conversions performed in December is not a fair test.

That’s why Google Ads has the best tool: experiments! Use the experiments tool to duplicate your original campaign and change whatever you’d like without touching your legacy campaign.

So, if you’re trying to find out whether an automated bidding strategy would improve your campaign, just experiment with one before adjusting your ad spend budget. Here’s how to set up an experiment in under 2 minutes:

The steps to create your draft in Google Ads.
The steps to create your experiment.
The finished experiment.

As you can see above, using Maximize Conversions beat out Manual CPC by 426% percent. And the best part? If your experiment wins, you can convert it to the main campaign without losing algorithmic learnings.

Third-party software to automate bidding

For most marketers, products like Kenshoo are too expensive. Kenshoo’s system integration and automation usually run around $10,000, with packages ranging between $2,500 (up to two ad platforms) and $25,000 (more than five systems) per month.

Eventually, Google will figure out how to beat manual bidding from the start. But it’s not there yet, and I’m not the only one who thinks so. As Adam Hallas from Mindstream Media confirms, “Going to manual bidding on your typical in-house business account is usually the best long-term solution.”

Still, within the four elements of PPC automation, bidding is the only piece that could be fully automated. Ad testing, finding new keywords, and negative keyword refinement take manual work.

Here’s how to speed those up with automation—while increasing the quality of the work, too.

2. Automating Ad Testing

A couple of tools within Google Ads can speed up your ad testing. If your account is small and has under 30–50 ads, you can pause the losing ad manually and begin a new test. But for accounts with hundreds of simultaneous ads, this process won’t work.

Thankfully, with Google Ads editor, Microsoft Excel, and the use of labels, you can A/B test any element across an entire campaign in under 90 seconds:

Open up a campaign within the Ads Editor and navigate to the “ads” tab.
Scroll up to the “Accounts” bar at the top and select Export > Export current view, and then open up the Excel document.
Sort by the A/B test you would like to make. In my case, the “Try for Free Today” H2 lost. I’m going to replace the H2 with a new CTA.
Change your test cells and label accordingly.
Copy the new cells, reopen Ads Editor, and click “Make multiple changes.” (Make sure that the “My data includes columns for campaigns and/or ad groups” is checked.)
Paste copied excel cells into Ads Editor. Review to make sure everything copied over correctly.
Post changes to Excel and voila…you’re done!

You can view a silent walkthrough of the above seven steps in the video below:

[This post contains video, click to play]

Note: To declare a winner, track Cost per Acquisition (CPA), not click-through-rate. Anyone can place “FREE” in their ad copy and get tons of clicks, but we want to find ads that lead to quality clicks (i.e. from people who actually become customers).

But wait: What about Responsive Search Ads (RSAs)? If you aren’t aware of this new feature within Google Ads, here’s what it looks like:

The main benefit to these ads is the ability to test quickly—including multivariate testing. In the earlier example, you change only one element of the ad, which gives clarity as to what improved performance but slows overall testing.

Responsive ads allow simultaneous testing of up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions. Google uses machine learning to test various combinations, find the best one, and show it more often.

My suggestion is to run manual and responsive testing side by side until your RSAs start to beat your manual format. Then, you can make the full switch and test RSA vs. RSA.

As with any test, make sure you

Have enough traffic.
Let the test run long enough.

You can use an A/B test calculator to help determine thresholds for statistical significance.

Since RSAs just rolled out to all accounts weeks ago, we don’t have enough data to promise that they’ll work better than manual testing. But they are another step in the right direction by Google to speed up the testing process.

3. Automating New Keyword Opportunities

Ads are important, but if you’re not maximizing the quality of traffic coming through, ads become somewhat irrelevant. So let’s focus on how to speed up the process of finding new keywords and putting them into what we call SKAGs (single-keyword ad groups).

Once campaigns are up and running, you’ll be able to identify which ones are converting. When you find search terms that are converting and have a substantial amount of impression/click volume, it’s probably worth breaking them out into their own SKAGs.

The main reason that we like breaking high-volume, high-converting keywords into their own ad groups is for bidding purposes. If the search term that’s consistently converting is coming through a broader keyword with a lower bid, you may not be reaching the full potential of that exact search.

By extracting the high-converting search term into its own SKAG, you’re able to bid more aggressively and maximize Impression Share. (For a more in-depth explanation on why we break high-converting search terms into their own SKAGs, check out this post.)

You can also download our free automated SKAG creation tool here. All the steps are within the Google Sheets template. Here’s a quick demo:

Step 1: Navigate to the “Master Exact” tab and enter new SKAG search terms into the “keyword” column.

Step 2: Navigate to the “FOR IMPORT” tab. Copy and paste all columns into Google Ads Editor under the “Keyword” section.

Note: The next steps make changes in two “Ads” tabs because we test two ads per ad group. If you only want to do one ad, change only one “Ads” tab.

Step 3: Fix H1s in both “Ads 1” and “Ads 2” tabs. (They’re currently programmed to spit out the SKAG.) Cells will highlight red if they’re over the character count limit.

Step 4: Add your H2, H3, Description, Path 1, Path 2, and Final URL in both “Ads” tabs.

Step 5: Navigate to the “ADS IMPORT” tab. Copy and Paste all columns into Google Ads Editor under the “Ads” section.

If you’ve ever had to do this work manually, it can take hours to add 30 SKAGS. Now you can do 400 in 5 minutes.

4. Automating Negative Keyword Curation

Finally, the last—and most useful—automation tool for Google Ads is the N-Gram script. This script helps find junk keywords in your campaigns that drive up unnecessary costs.

An N-gram is a phrase made of “n” number of words: a 1-gram is a single word, a 2-gram is a phrase of two words, and so on. For example, “this four word phrase” contains three 2-grams (“this four,” “four word,” “word phrase”) and two 3-grams (“this four word” and “four word phrase”).

With the N-gram script, you can parse your entire account’s search-term list into chains of 1–5 N-grams by account, campaign, and ad group. You’ll come away with stats on how each N-gram has performed.

After you’ve added the script to your account, you need to change a couple of things within the script itself:

The startDate and endDate. Set the time frame for which you want to pull search-term data.
currencySymbol. Make sure that you are in the correct currency.
spreadsheetUrl. For each account, add a new spreadsheet for this script to dump its data into. Be sure to add a new Google Sheets link to each N-gram script you use.

Once you’ve set up and run the script, go to your Google Sheet. It should look like this:

Based on your target CPA, you can identify all the N-grams that don’t meet the goal for the time frame you established. The N-gram script will populate all keywords in your campaigns (within your start and end date) into a single sheet.

In this sheet, you can filter by conversions to check which grams are generating zero conversions. Then, you can filter those failing to generate conversions by their CPA to see which are costing you the most. These are the terms you’ll add to your negative keyword list.

Without this script, you could be going through hundreds or thousands of keywords one at a time—manually checking each for conversion volume and CPA, then cross-comparing them. The N-gram script groups every common “gram” under one roof and identifies its performance across multiple keywords.

Be careful: Some search terms that exceed your CPA target may do so because your landing page experience is terrible, or because they’re in a bad ad group with high a bid. Make sure you manually review poorly performing N-grams before dumping them into a negative keyword list.

Conclusion

What’s the outcome of implementing these PPC automation techniques? Better performance and less time spent doing the work.

And the more time you save on your PPC wins now, the more time you have to spend on bigger wins—PPC or otherwise—in the future.

The post PPC Automation: Is the Future of Paid Search Already Here? appeared first on CXL.

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6 Ways to Set Up Funnels in Google Analytics

sourced from: https://conversionxl.com/blog/funnels-google-analytics/

Analyzing the customer journey is pivotal to conversion optimization. But how do you track user journeys in a way that is digestible, visual, and useful?

With funnels, of course! Funnel tracking in Google Analytics is one of the best ways to identify—in detail—where you’re going wrong.

I’ll show you six funnel features in Google Analytics to boost your conversions by understanding where prospects falter in their journey.

But first, let’s define a Google Analytics funnel and explain why it matters.

What are Google Analytics funnels, and why are they important?

Website users take specific paths from start to finish, and every site has a goal for its visitors. Google Analytics funnels track this journey so that you can optimize your website and ensure visitors hit your goals.

For example, when prospects land on your homepage, you may want them to:

Navigate to the category page.
Visit a specific product page.
Add an item to their cart.
View their cart.
Make a purchase.
See the confirmation page.

By analyzing how visitors browse your site, you can optimize their experience. For example, a funnel analysis that shows a high exit rate on product category pages suggests that visitors aren’t finding what they want, which could be because product filtering is clunky or unhelpful.

Ultimately, your goal is to increase conversions. Analytics funnels help you home in on the exact stage in the journey that’s causing the most dropouts.

Before we proceed to the types of Google Analytics funnels, we need to understand the difference between strict and flexible funnels.

Strict funnels vs. flexible funnels

In a strict funnel, a user follows an exact sequence of linear steps—they cannot skip or add steps. An example of a strict funnel is:

Homepage  > Category Page  > Cart > Checkout

However, a strict funnel is useful mainly as a model to highlight likely drop-off points in an idealized journey. In the real world, the user path inevitably varies. (Harvard Business Review has talked about the “death of the linear funnel.”) To account for this reality, you can use a flexible funnel model.

In a flexible funnel, the customer journey is fluid. Not everyone follows the same path before they become a lead or purchase a product. Some users may find the cheapest product they can and immediately place an order; others may review multiple product pages or the About page before purchasing.

Flexible funnels account for these variations. Users aren’t restricted to specific pages or a specific order. In that sense, flexible funnels are better equipped for the real-world user journey.

A visitor may still satisfy a flexible funnel’s criteria in their journey as long as they hit defined pages on the site. For example, consider this path:

Homepage  >  Story Page  > Product Page  > Category Page  > Product Page  >  Cart  > Checkout

At some point in their journey, users must visit the steps in bold, but they can still fulfill funnel requirements no matter which pages they visit in between.

When should you use a strict or flexible funnel?

Prospects at the top of the marketing funnel are just learning about you. Don’t worry if they fail to follow a specific path. After all, you can’t expect each person to visit the same pages (in the same order) during an initial research phase.

But once a prospect has decided to buy—when they near the bottom of the funnel—you can expect them to follow a more specific sequence of steps to completion.

If they’re visiting a miscellaneous page when they’ve already started the checkout process, you should consider it a dropout (even if they end up purchasing). A page or other site element is likely distracting the prospect from the end goal.

Identifying the drop-out points lets you start work on solutions. A funnel won’t give you the “why” behind the dropout, but you can get that answer from polls, surveys, and other qualitative analyses.

You may find that people are more likely to buy after reading the Brand page, so you’ll incorporate that content into the funnel. Or you may find that a miscellaneous Instagram link distracts users from taking the desired action.

Google Analytics funnel visualization reports

We’ve covered what Analytics funnels are, why they matter, and strict versus flexible funnels. Now, I’ll introduce six Google Analytics funnel features that track prospects’ journeys to show how to improve conversion optimization.

1. Goal funnels

Why choose this funnel type? This funnel feature is great for beginners who want an accurate report that they can expand to make more granular.

To use a Goal funnel, you must set up a goal in Google Analytics and specify the funnel path.

To do so, follow these short steps:

Go to Admin  > Goals > +New Goal  > Choose a Goal (e.g. Place an order).
Select “Destination” Goal  > Goal Details.
Turn on the “Funnel” switch.
Name each step of the funnel and add a URL. You can also specify whether a step is optional (flexible) or required (strict).

Once you enter the necessary information, you’ll see the results under “Conversions” in Google Analytics. Under the “Goals” section, you can access many reports to learn about user behavior, like “Goal Flow.”

There’s one major limitation: You cannot apply segments to Goal funnel reports. Goal funnels include all site visits from that view. If you want to measure performance by traffic source, device, or any other segment, you’ll need to create a custom horizontal funnel (detailed below).

2. Reverse Goal Path funnels

Why choose this funnel type? This funnel is a unique way to reverse engineer conversion problems and opportunities.

Simply put, reverse goal funnels trace a user’s path backward through your site—from conversion back to entrance. This unique pathway identifies common steps to conversion and highlights undesired steps along the way.

Once you have at least one Goal set up, go to:

Conversions  > Goals > Reverse Goal Path

You’ll see a count of Goal Completions and the pages that users visited leading up to that Goal.

Currently, Reverse Goal Path lets you go back only three steps. You can export the data as a CSV and use a pivot table to find common paths or dissect the data in other ways.

Reverse Goal Path isn’t the best tool to identify common drop-offs. But it will help you check if the most common paths are the desired ones.

You may find, for example, that most visitors arrive at a goal through a long-neglected page. You can then identify a strategy to get more traffic to that page.

3. Ecommerce Shopping Behavior Report

Why choose this funnel type? This funnel type delivers specialized data for ecommerce sites.

This funnel is only for ecommerce and requires you to turn on Enhanced Ecommerce. To see the data from the funnel, go to:

Conversions  > Ecommerce >  Shopping Behavior

This Google Analytics feature counts the number of user sessions for each step in the funnel. It also gives a visual display of the percentage of visitors who arrived at the current step from the previous one.

You can also drill down to specific metrics or pages. To illustrate, you can see how many sessions turned into transactions by clicking:

All sessions  > Product Views  > Add to cart > Check-Out  > Transactions

Focus on optimizing the page with the highest percentage drop-off. One fashion accessory client of ours had a huge drop off between the homepage and a product page.

With this insight, we found a great opportunity to improve their navigation menu. The navigation menu was too small and tucked away; it didn’t showcase the products and product categories we had to offer, especially on mobile.

The Ecommerce Shopping Behavior report is great for analyzing your funnel’s performance at a macro level. Shopping Behavior shows how many people view each product and indicates which pages are least persuasive—a great starting point for optimization efforts.

4. Checkout Behavior

Why choose this funnel type? This funnel delivers granular, sophisticated data for checkout form fields.

This Google funnel visualization feature is a funnel within a funnel. (Funnelception!)

Also within the Ecommerce section, Checkout Behavior shows where users drop off within a checkout process, grouped by form field (e.g. email, phone, address, credit card number). You can figure out which field causes the most friction.

For instance, a user may start the checkout process and enter their email (which usually isn’t a drop-off point) but abandon the page on the payment info fields (which usually is a common drop-off point).

If that’s the case, you can explore more convenient alternatives, like adding a Paypal button or a one-click purchase button.

(Image source)
5. Horizontal funnels via custom reports

Why choose this funnel type? This funnel allows you to apply advanced segments to compare conversion paths for different types of visitors.

Horizontal funnels are a great way to compare drop-off points by segment. As the name suggests, funnel steps are visualized horizontally instead of vertically. The funnel tells you the abandonment rate between funnel steps (rather than the completion rate, like Goal funnels) and the number of visits for each step.

Horizontal funnels are also more accurate than Goal funnels because they don’t backfill steps. As Google explains, a Goal funnel visualization “backfills any skipped steps between the step at which the user entered the funnel and the step at which the user exited the funnel.”

To create a horizontal funnel, set each funnel step as a Goal (e.g. a product page visit). For every Goal you create after the first Goal, turn on the Funnel option and add the destination URL of the previous Goal as a single funnel step.

Once you create your Goals, select Custom Reports under the Customization section of Google Analytics and click +New Custom Report.

Add each Goal Completion to the Metric Groups section in chronological order, with the Abandonment Rate metric between each Goal Completion:

Goal 1 Completions
Goal 2 Abandonment Rate
Goal 2 Completions
Goal 3 Abandonment Rate
Goal 3 Completions…

You can sort your data by any custom dimension (Landing page, City, Browser, etc.) by adding dimensions to the Dimension Drilldowns section when building your Custom Report:

Once you’ve created the report, you can add multiple segments to the same report to see how different visitors interact with parts of your funnel, which a standard Goal funnel doesn’t allow.

Importantly, you’ll be able to identify segments that behave the same except for one drop-off point. That’s how you identify key opportunities to improve the user journey. We recommend looking at prospect, returning customers, and cart abandonment segments.

The drawback to Horizontal funnels is that they can consume many of the 20 Goal slots that Google Analytics offers.

6. Custom Funnels in Google Analytics 360

Why choose this funnel type? This funnel offers robust customization to splice data by almost any variable.

Available only for Google Analytics 360 users, Custom Funnels let you create a funnel for any trackable user action or behavior. For instance, you can use pageviews and events as stages of a funnel—the possibilities are endless.

To create a Custom Funnel, go to:

Customization  > Custom Reports  > +New Custom Report

Then, select the “Funnel” option in the “Type” section. Below that is a “Funnel Rules” section where you can define funnel stages by Google Analytics Dimensions, including custom and ecommerce dimensions.

The beauty of this feature is that it allows you to track funnels based on specific events, like filling out form fields, which you can’t do with other funnel reports that depend on URLs. You can define funnel stages by Event Label, Action, and/or Category.

The report also lets you decide if users:

Can enter at any stage.
Must enter at a certain stage.
Complete the funnel in one session.
Complete the funnel in multiple sessions.

The Custom Funnels report also lets you use remarketing to engage users who drop off during a specific step. (You can also create an advanced segment for that same audience.)

Using custom segments to get more granular with your funnels

Add custom segments to any funnel to splice data even further. There are endless ways to divide the data, including by geography, gender, browser, and landing page.

For instance, you can view funnel data filtered by mobile traffic only or compare mobile data side-by-side with desktop data:

Those insights can help you prioritize areas of your site for optimization. For example, if the mobile version of your site is doing poorly, you can identify the most frustrating parts of the user experience.

Conclusion

Patching the holes in your user journey offers a huge opportunity to increase sales. But to patch those holes, you need to know where they are. A strict funnel is an outline you can use to create a flexible funnel—the type that users actually follow.

The six Google Analytics funnels covered in this post identify drop-off points at a macro and micro level.  Finding the right one for your site depends on the type of site you manage (e.g. ecommerce vs. lead gen) and the level of detail you want in your reports (e.g. segmented vs. not).

Drop-off points help you identify which pages or page elements merit testing to improve performance. That testing, in turn, reveals why potential customers are dropping off—and what to do about it.

The post 6 Ways to Set Up Funnels in Google Analytics appeared first on CXL.

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Move Over SEO: How Developers Can Generate You More Traffic

sourced from: https://neilpatel.com/blog/developers-generate-traffic/

I’m a marketer. I know more about traffic generation than most others, and I surely know more about marketing than developers.

But what if I told you that developers can generate you more traffic than an SEO or any other type of marketer?

And no, it’s not because the developer implements changes to your site… they are just able to produce more traffic.

What’s crazy about this is that it’s cheaper in the long run than paying marketers.

Most of you know that I have an ad agency, Neil Patel Digital. And although I always want more big companies to pay us, typically a developer can generate you more traf… Read More

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Write Compelling Email Copy: 4 Questions to Ask Before You Write Your Next Email

sourced from: https://www.digitalmarketer.com/blog/write-compelling-email-copy/

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but…

No one, especially not your ideal customer, is sitting around wondering why they haven’t gotten your promotional email today.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to you. Your prospects are busy people, and they’ve got important things going on in their lives.

Oh and they probably receive at least twenty emails from other companies each day, all wanting the same thing you want, their attention (and maybe their money too, but that comes second).

When you send an email out to your list, you have only a few seconds to grab their attention before they delete it and move on with their day.

So how can you make the MOST of those precious seconds and start to bridge the gap from interruption…

…to attention…

…to transaction?

The answer is simple but not easy.

(Wrap your mind around that for a second…)

Here at DigitalMarketer, we’ve come up with 4 simple questions we ask ourselves before we write every email. I’m betting that if you answer the same 4 questions, your emails will be more relevant, compelling, and engaging to your audience.

Oh, and you’ll probably generate more sales too…

Let’s get started with the first question!

Question 1: “Why Now?”

Email by nature is interruptive. So when you interrupt someone, you’d better be able to quickly explain why… and it had better be good.

That being said, maybe a better way to ask this question is:

“Why should your subscriber stop what they’re doing and give you their attention NOW?”

Keep in mind there are probably 2 very different answers to this question: there’s your answer, that ultimately benefits YOU, and there’s what you say to your subscriber… and it better benefit them (or you shouldn’t be interrupting them in the first place).

Your answer might be:

“I’m sending you this email now to increase sales.”  

Or,

“Because I spent money to get you on this email list and my boss is insisting that I need to show a profit on that advertising spend.”

While this may be an honest answer to the question for you, it can’t be the answer you tell the person receiving the email.

Imagine receiving an email like that yourself…

“Sorry to interrupt but I’m about to miss my quota so could you please stop what you’re doing and buy this real quickly? Thanks!”

While that email would probably grab your intention, and likely even move you to action… it probably would not be a purchasing action.

Instead of focusing on your why, the answer needs to focus on your customer. Ask the question “Why now?” from their point of view.

Instead of focusing on your why, the answer needs to focus on your customer.

In some cases the answer will be straightforward, because your offer will be…

Because it’s new…
Because it’s on sale
Because it’s time-limited or time-sensitive…
Because it’s exclusive

Here’s a great example from Kate Spade. They answer the question “Why now?” right in the subject line of their email:

Why is Kate Spade emailing you now? The answer is clear:

Because there’s a $99 sale going on, and you have only 1 day to take advantage of it!

But what if none of those things are true? What if your email isn’t new, promoting a sale, time-limited, exclusive, or timely? Then how do you answer this question?

Start by thinking about some of the resources you have available. You may not have a sale or a time-limited offer to promote, but do you have customer reviews or testimonials? Case studies? Valuable content?

Are any of those resources relevant to your prospect’s situation right now?

Let’s say that you have a testimonial from a customer who was skeptical at first, but then purchased your product and experienced great results.

In that case, you could say something like this in an email to prospects who have not yet converted:

Hey [Name],

I got this in my inbox last night and it made me think of you.

I know you said you wanted to achieve [desired end result], and thought it might be helpful for you to hear how someone else did it using our product or service.

See what we’re doing here?

First of all, we start out by telling the prospect that we were thinking about them. This triggers a  powerful emotional reaction..

Most people are only thought about by their parents, their spouse, their kids maybe a few close friends.

So telling someone “I was thinking about you last night…” is a great way of grabbing their attention—because it’s not something most of us hear very often.

Psychologically, it’s a powerful thing to say because it makes them FEEL thought of.

It also answers the first question. Why am I emailing you now? Well, in this case, because I saw something that made me think of you.

This is a great way of grabbing the prospect’s attention… and then focusing that attention on one of your customer stories or testimonials that addresses their current objections from a credible third-party source, someone just like them.

Question 2: “Who Cares?”

Now that you’ve cleared up why you’re emailing the person NOW, the next thing you need to figure out is…

“Who cares?”

In other words, who would be most affected, positively or negatively, by having or not having your product or service?

This question is important because it tells your ideal customer that you understand who they are and what they want… you’re a friend who listens when they talk and is here to help.

In traditional direct response, this was often done with pre-headlines that read something like this:

“Attention: Sales people who need more leads”

“Attention: Ecommerce sellers who need more sales”

“Attention: Anyone who wants to get a better night’s sleep”

I’m not saying you need to go that far in your emails. But the idea of calling out your audience is definitely a shortcut that will grab their attention by letting them know right away that you’re speaking to them or at least speaking about something that they’re interested in.

This is an effective strategy that we used in our emails at DigitalMarketer quite often. Here’s an example of an email calling out a specific audience (marketing agencies):

If you use this technique in your emails, just make sure that you’re being specific enough without being too specific.

For example, if you begin your email:

“Dear VP of Marketing…”

That’s a really specific opening. It’s probably going to turn off anyone who doesn’t fit that exact title.

What if your audience could include Directors or Marketing, Marketing Managers, and so on?

The trick here is to be specific enough to include everyone in your target market… without being so broad that you aren’t really speaking to anyone in particular.

You want your prospect to open your email and instantly think:

“Oh, they’re talking to ME here.”

(NOTE: Tired of your email marketing being mostly guess work? Use this FREE plug and play guide and tracking sheet to track, analyze, and optimize your email marketing strategy. Download it here!)

Question 3: “Why Should They Care?”

Now that you’ve clarified “who,” it’s your job to paint a clear picture of “why.”

“Why should they care??”

Why should your subscriber or prospect care about the message in your email?

If you’re promoting a product or service, how is that product or service going to benefit them?

What does their life look like before and after they start using your product or service?

How will you make their average day better or easier?

This is a crucial question to ask, and answer, because it’s so easy to spend the entire email talking about yourself…

“We’re the #1…”

“Our product is…”

“For years we’ve been…”

The truth is that none of your prospects care about you, your company, or your product.

They care about themselves. And the only way they’re going to become interested in your product is if they can see how it benefits them.

One of the oldest and easiest ways of demonstrating this is with a good old before and after (B&A) picture. These images are extremely persuasive for weight-loss products because they show you, at a glance, how dramatically the product can benefit the reader.

Here’s an example of a B&A pic from a BioTrust email:

If you can portray the benefit of your product or service in a visual way like this, that’s a powerful way of communicating value and convincing people to care about what you have to say.

Communicating benefits like this might sound fairly straightforward. And often, it is. But let me make a caveat:

Sometimes you will need to take extra steps to make sure to explain how your product or service is going to benefit your prospect—because this is not always self-evident to your readers the way it seems self-evident to you.

Just what do I mean by that?

As marketers and salespeople, we have to deal with the curse of knowledge.

We’re so close to our own business that we know it inside and out… and sometimes it’s hard to forget what we know and see things from our customer’s point of view.

And because of this curse of knowledge, sometimes we assume that our audience is going to connect the dots when they really aren’t.

Here’s a snippet of copy from an email I received:

This copy is good and it points out some great features that probably really resonate and call out to their ideal customer. BUT, I’d be willing to bet that it would have worked even better if it would have FIRST focused on the desired end result or ideal day, something like this:

“Imagine standing up from your desk 20 minutes after 5,000 words just flowed fluidly on to the page… your work was automatically saved and backed up safely so you don’t even have to press save before you take a quick walk as a reward for a job well done.”

This bridges the gap between what you know about the benefits of your product and the features that lead to your prospect experiencing them.

Think about it, the original copy asks a lot of the person reading the email.

They have to:

Know the benefit of setting session goals
Know the pain of losing work because it didn’t automatically save (and connect that pain to this product as a solution)
Acknowledge that distractions are a big reason that they’re not getting their writing done

What does their life look like before and after they start using your product or service?

In a nutshell, this paragraph tells you what the product does… but it doesn’t tell you why you should care. Just adding my copy before their copy changes everything because the reader understands that the end result is finishing their writing and then rewarding themselves.

They have to say, “I want to experience that” before they can ask “how”…

Let’s go through another example. Imagine we’re sending an email to promote an offer—let’s say it’s a Facebook ads course.

Now because we’re marketing experts, and we’re thoroughly familiar with this course (not to mention Facebook advertising in general), it’s easy for us to assume that the person reading this email will instantly grasp how this offer can benefit them by bringing traffic to their website, retargeting website visitors who didn’t convert, and so on.

But maybe they won’t.

Maybe they don’t know much about Facebook advertising. They might assume that it is only for companies with a huge social media following, or B2C companies, etc. They might not realize how much this FB ads course could help their business.

When that happens, your reader is often left wondering: “Is this relevant to my situation? Will this work for MY company?”

And the odds are pretty high that they’re going to close out of your email without ever really listening to what you have to say—because they didn’t understand WHY they should care about your message.

That’s why we, as marketers, sometimes need to make that connection for them. Here’s an example of how we accomplished this using bullet points in an email for our Customer Acquisition Specialist Masterclass & Certification:

Here, as you can see, we’re telling people exactly why they should care about this mastery course. Because it will help you build an automated traffic system that generates leads and sales for your business 24 hours a day. Because you’ll learn how to analyze the metrics that actually matter to help you scale your campaigns. And so on.

Here’s another thing to keep in mind. The more evocative you can be when you’re communicating these benefits, the better.

For example, if you’re in the golf industry then your ideal customer is obviously a golfer but you wouldn’t just say “Hey, want to golf better? Or even “Want to shoot a lower score?”

It’s not specific enough… no one knows exactly what it feels like to “shoot a lower score.”

If you wanted to speak to their language, you’d say something like:

“This will add 50 yards to your drive”

That gets the message across, technically, but it doesn’t help the person to FEEL that benefit.

Now if you can paint a picture and evoke an emotional response, your message will make a much bigger impact on the reader. Notice how much more powerful this feels:

“Imagine you walk up to the first tee and hit it on your first swing…  your ball flies 280 yards and lands just over the furthest bunker, right in the middle of the fairway. You turn around and see your buddy’s jaw hanging open, and you know he just died a little inside watching you hit a shot like that.”

You see how much more evocative that is? How it describes the prospect’s life after they’ve used your product or service? How it hits on the real hot-button emotional triggers like vanity and social status?

Copywriters call this “future pacing,” and it’s an extremely powerful way to pull readers into your emails.

Heroes & Vehicles

When you’re thinking about question #3, remember this:

Imagine your prospect as they are right now as being at “point A.”

Then understand that what they want to be, their desired end result, is “point B.” This describes your prospect the way they WANT to be: thinner, richer, more popular, getting that raise at work, and so on.

Your prospect wants to go from A to B. Ryan talks about this a lot in his “Before & After Grid”:

But here’s an important thing to keep in mind (and a lot of marketers get this wrong):

You can NEVER be the hero in your ideal customers story… that’s their job. You’re the guide and your product or service is the vehicle.

Many companies try to position their product as the hero. But again, your product is NEVER the hero! The prospect is the hero. Your product or service is more like the vehicle, the guide, or the mentor who helps them to achieve whatever it is that they want.

Remember that everyone wants to be the hero of their own life, and the job of your product or service is not to be the hero for them… but to be the vehicle that helps them shine.

So if your prospect is King Arthur, then your product is Excalibur and you’re Merlin. If your prospect is Luke Skywalker, then your product is the force and you’re Yoda.

I could keep going, but I’m sure you get the idea.

(RELATED: Perpetual Traffic Episode 64: Donald Miller Shares 7 Proven Story Formulas for Sharpening Your Marketing Message)

Question 4: “How Can You Prove It?”

In question #3 you explored WHY your prospect should care about your message, by communicating how it can act as the vehicle that delivers them to their desired end result.

But just because you tell them what your product or service can do, doesn’t mean they’ll believe you.

And that’s why the fourth and final question you need to ask yourself has to do with proof. Credibility. Believability.

“How can you prove it?”

Now that you’ve explained what your product can do, you have to prove that you really can do it… and that THEY can do it, too.

Interestingly enough, most people will believe that YOU can do what you say you can do. They’ll even believe that others have done it too.

Where people get stuck is believing that THEY can do it.

And if you don’t address this limiting belief, I guarantee you it will cost you sales.

This is where it becomes critical to include proof points where you show your prospect real-life examples of how other people—people just like them—have used your product or service to achieve their desired end result.

This includes things like…

Testimonials

People are more likely to trust other customers than they are to trust you. So any time you can showcase somebody else saying good things about your product, service, or company, you should take advantage of it—like this email from reMarkable:

Customer Stories

Customer stories can go beyond testimonials and add a human touch to your company. In this email, 23andMe does a great job of showing how their rather technical-sounding product (at-home DNA kits) can have a very human effect on their customers:

Case Studies

Particularly for B2B companies, case studies are a great way to showcase the previous results you’ve achieved. This is a powerful form of credibility-building that Conversion Rate Experts leverage very well in this email:

Reviews

We all know the power of reviews in today’s online economy. Anytime you can slip a positive review into your email, you should do it—even if you’re just remembering to add 4 or 5 stars underneath a product photo the way Kayak does here:

And if you really want to inject some serious customer credibility into your emails, you can show a customer’s entire review along with the 5 stars (or 5 tacos, in AppSumo’s case):

News Stories 

Media coverage is another form of third-party credibility that you should definitely take advantage of in your emails. If your product or service has received favorable press, for example, that’s marketing gold you should not hesitate to share with your prospects:

Now what if you don’t have any of these resources yet?

In that case, it becomes important to leverage third-party credibility. In other words, find examples of times when other reputable sources have said things that validate what you’re saying. Even though that source isn’t endorsing your product or service per se, the fact that they said something supporting your message makes it look like they are validating your message.

And in the meantime, get to work writing those case studies and gathering more reviews (try www.getbravo.com for an easy way to generate authentic video reviews from your customers).

2 Bonus Email-Writing Tips

Now that we’ve covered the 4 questions we ask ourselves every time we write an email, here are 2 bonus tips to help you create a positive experience and get a better reaction from prospects in your emails.

Tip #1: Only Reference the Previous Positive Action

If you’re emailing a prospect and they didn’t do something—say they didn’t purchase your product or show up for your webinar—do NOT acknowledge that.

Bringing up something negative will only create an awkward experience. Instead, go back to the most recent positive action and reference that instead.

So let’s say you’re writing to a prospect who opted in to your email list but didn’t purchase your product.

Do NOT say: “I’m sending you this email because you didn’t buy my product…”

Instead, say this: “I’m sending you this email because you opted in to learn more about…”

It’s a subtle difference, but the first example will make people feel weirded out. The second one will remind them of why they signed up with you in the first place, bringing back good feelings instead of awkward ones.

Tip #2: Give People an “Out”

Whenever someone didn’t take the action you wanted them to take, give them an easy, ready-made excuse:

It’s important to make sure that all your communications should be sending the same, consistent message.

“Did life get in the way?”

“This probably went in your spam box.”

“Hey, I’m sorry I didn’t follow up with you…” (Even though you did.)

This is what I mean when I say you should always give your prospect or customer an “out.”

By giving them an easy out, you’re wiping away any guilt that they might feel about not taking action… which helps to avoid awkward or negative feelings and clears the way for them to take action NOW.

Tape These Questions to Your Monitor

If you send a lot of emails, you should write these questions down on a Post-It note and stick it to your monitor.

They’re that important.

And don’t keep them to yourselves. Share these questions with your team members, too! Even if they aren’t writing emails, your coworkers can also benefit from thinking about these important questions.

While this post was geared toward writing better emails, remember that you are communicating with your customers and prospects through multiple channels. These channels include your emails, your blog, social media, outbound sales people, and so on.

And it’s important to make sure that all your communications should be sending the same, consistent message.

If the messages coming out of your company aren’t congruent with one another, your customers will get confused. They’ll be unclear on the value you deliver, the promises you’re making, and this can make it hard for them to trust you.

(This happens a lot in siloed companies, where different departments are responsible for different areas of the business.)

But if you (and your teammates) ask yourselves these 4 questions on a regular basis, it will help make sure you are delivering a consistent message that is relevant and compelling to your audience.

Who knows—they might even start looking forward to your emails.

(NOTE: Tired of your email marketing being mostly guess work? Use this FREE plug and play guide and tracking sheet to track, analyze, and optimize your email marketing strategy. Download it here!)

The post Write Compelling Email Copy: 4 Questions to Ask Before You Write Your Next Email appeared first on DigitalMarketer.

0

Mixpanel vs. Google Analytics: The 2018 Guide

sourced from: https://conversionxl.com/blog/mixpanel-vs-google-analytics/

This post is not a dry feature-by-feature comparison, nor does it include a winner-take-all verdict. Your business won’t benefit from either of those things.

Instead, we’re comparing Mixpanel and Google Analytics in the terms that drive business growth—identifying the core use cases for each tool and the business problems they solve, while highlighting the features that make it possible.

Anything else is merely a list of data points. That’s as useful as analytics without analysts: troves of data but no actionable insights.

The core use cases

Google Analytics is the standard for measuring acquisition—identifying the sources of traffic to your website or app. Google Analytics also tracks on-site behavior through events and goals. It does not, however, de-anonymize data. User ID tracking allows you to track the behavior of individual users, but their identities remain unknown.
Mixpanel, in many ways, picks up where Google Analytics leaves off. It has robust, user-centered tracking that connects company CRMs to the online behaviors of real people—and enables you to send targeted messages to them, at a group or individual level. Mixpanel’s event-based tracking is fundamentally different than the Google Analytics pageview model.

Google Analytics switched its default metric from “sessions” to “users” in 2018, mirroring Mixpanel’s emphasis on users over pageviews.

Most businesses, even Mixpanel’s paying customers, retain Google Analytics. It’s free, after all, and, at the very least, offers the chance to corroborate data across two platforms.

When Google Analytics makes the most sense: If your business relies on its website solely for marketing purposes—to attract visitors and generate leads—Google Analytics provides most of your actionable data. You’ll be able to see which channels (paid, organic, social, etc.) have the highest conversion rate and identify the content that earns the most interest from your target audience.
When Mixpanel makes the most sense: If your website or app is your product, however, Mixpanel offers the granular detail that’s essential for monitoring user behavior. You’ll be able to see which acquisition channels are best for long-term retention or lifetime value, not simply those that drive initial conversions.
When it could go either way: Other companies—like ecommerce sites selling physical products—may straddle the use-case gap. The size of their business, the number of products, the length of the buying cycle, and other variables may determine whether Mixpanel can deliver a strong ROI.

In the end, the more user data you have to push into Mixpanel—and the more that data shapes your business decisions—the more value you’ll extract from it.

The business problems that Google Analytics and Mixpanel solve
Hundreds of user reviews of both platforms on G2 Crowd reveal the key benefits—and shortcomings—of each. (Image source)
Acquisition
1. “We don’t know where our traffic is coming from.”

G2 Crowd, a business technology review site, has almost 3,000 reviews of Google Analytics. When we analyzed all of them, the patterns were easy to spot, one phrase above all others: “…traffic is coming from.”

That phrase alone—there were other, similar ones, too—appeared 53 times. Google Analytics excels at revealing your traffic sources. In the words of hundreds of reviewers, Google Analytics was essential to “identify channels,” “track campaigns,” and monitor “traffic flow.”

“Google Analytics is definitely better at measuring traffic,” noted Dan McGaw, the founder and CMO of Effin Amazing. Other digital marketing experts I asked seconded his opinion. Google’s dominance of the ad market has bolstered its primacy for acquisition metrics—integrations with Google Ads (search and display) are comprehensive and seamless.

Mixpanel also tracks acquisition sources but, in its tracking and reporting, emphasizes what those users do, not the raw visibility of web pages. As Mixpanel’s Aaron Krivitzky explained:

[Cost per Acquisition] and [Cost per Click] are important, but they tell you nothing about user retention, they tell you nothing about lifetime value, and they tell you nothing about the actual end-user sentiment, behaviors, or experience.

For high-traffic sites or short-lived apps, the need to understand real-time acquisition paths and performance offers a point of separation between the two tools.

2. “We need to know how our site (or app) is performing right now.”

A small subset of businesses may have unique acquisition strategies that depend on real-time adjustments to copy, design, or resource allocation. All Mixpanel reporting is real-time; Google Analytics has real-time reports that, after a few hours, filter into core reports.

Fully integrated, real-time access to data has potential benefits for large media sites:

The Huffington Post tests multiple headlines for articles. After a few minutes of data—a meaningful amount, given the site’s traffic volume—they discard the less-popular headline.
Real-time analytics help streaming video services shift resources based on demand. If, say, a season finale or critical moment in a sporting event risks overwhelming servers, real-time analytics can tip off technical teams to the need before issues affect users.

Real-time reporting can also help large ecommerce companies manage their products. “Mainly it’s an inventory issue,” according to Steve Kurniawan of Nine Peaks Media, “although it can also help other things like tracking product deliveries and negative reviews.”

There are other use cases, too, such as app developers seeking to maximize the value of users for a viral game with a lifespan of days or weeks. Real-time data can validate near-constant changes to keep users engaged.

Still, the use-cases for real-time reporting are limited. For most Mixpanel users, the platform’s most meaningful feature is its ability to tie actual prospect and customer data to online behavior, providing greater insight into the experiences that affect engagement, conversion, and retention.

Engagement, conversion, and retention
3. “We can’t connect analytics data to our real-life customers.”

“Mixpanel is a great tool for tracking user behavior and acting on it,” affirmed McGaw. Realizing those core benefits—tracking and acting—requires stitching together online actions at two levels:

From device to device. Google Analytics has cross-device tracking. However, its system relies on cookies and User IDs, and includes only those “who have opted in to personalized advertising.” For companies with a SaaS platform or app, that system may not be enough. In McGaw’s experience, “If you have a web app and mobile app, Google Analytics is pretty shitty at tying those users together.”
From user to human. Google Analytics’ User ID policy prevents this second connection, providing the sharpest break between its capabilities and those of Mixpanel. By connecting companies’ user data to its analytics, Mixpanel can build analytics cohorts based on CRM data and push messages to high-value segments.

What do these differences look like in the real world? Saas consultant Sid Bharath gave an example:

Let’s say Google Analytics shows that paid search has the highest conversion rate. With this data alone, it seems like you should double down on paid search.

However, if you had Mixpanel in there, you could see how those converters interacted with your software. So you could filter by paid traffic, and it may show that these customers actually churn at a much higher rate, or they’re not as engaged as organic customers.

At Mixpanel, Krivitzky has seen potential clients come to him with similar business needs: “How do my end-users use my app? Which features are sticky? How common is X use case versus Y?”

In addition to identifying high-value cohorts, Mixpanel also lets businesses send targeted messages to those same users—a benefit noted regularly across more than 200 product reviews from G2 Crowd. “With Mixpanel’s cross-device marketing automation suite,” noted McGaw, “You can email, text, push, and pop up across devices to provide a pretty amazing experience.”

Mixpanel allows businesses to send messages to real people based on online behaviors.
4. “We don’t understand our customer journey well.”

Both Google Analytics and Mixpanel offer conversion funnels. Mixpanel funnels—based on feedback from experts and hundreds of reviews—are more user-friendly to create and more granular in their segmentation. (Notably, Mixpanel funnels also apply retroactively to data.)

Google Analytics funnels and Behavior Flow visualizations lack the customization of Mixpanel funnels, which allow segmentation by user characteristics.

Creating segmented user groups based on broad demographic data is possible in Google Analytics; however, it requires applying a segment to the Funnel Visualization, rather than embedding that segment in the funnel itself.

Mixpanel users can set up custom funnels by selecting any series of user behaviors.

The customization and comparative intuitiveness of Mixpanel funnels—which can be set up simply by defining a series of steps—were a common highlight in user reviews:

“Easy ability to create funnels”

“Easy to set up events and funnels”

“Easy to set up powerful user funnels”

“Easy to understand user interface for funneling”

In contrast, Funnel Visualizations and Behavior Flows in Google Analytics were a frequent frustration: “Trying to set up goal funnels is an exercise in mania.”

Google Analytics funnels are notoriously difficult to set up and interpret.

The difference between technical capacity and ease of implementation is not trivial. It speaks to the importance of actually using analytics tools—not just having access to the data within them—and hints at some of the data-centric problems the C-suite often looks to solve.

C-suite level
5. “We don’t know the impact of each marketing channel.”

Cross-channel attribution extends beyond first and last clicks. For large organizations, stronger attribution can help demonstrate the ROI—or lack thereof—for multi-million-dollar television campaigns or in-store promotions.

The Google Analytics 360 Suite offers extensive attribution tracking. “Some clients ask us to design and implement marketing attribution models for them,” recounted Kurniawan. “In these cases, we use Google Analytics 360 Suite, which offers an amazing custom marketing attribution feature.”

In contrast to standard Google Analytics, which uses a last non-direct click attribution—thereby attributing 100% of the conversion to some online source—Google Analytics 360 accounts for television ads’ impact on online behavior and also folds in-store purchases into conversion data (crediting online sources for offline purchases).

That benefit comes at a cost—starting at $150,000 per year. For many organizations, no matter how accurate the insights, the ROI simply isn’t there. (Mixpanel, whose paid version starts at $999 per year, charges by the number of data points tracked; costs can quickly scale into a four-figure monthly fee, especially for SaaS or app companies that offer freemium models.)

6. “We need to make data collection more efficient.”

In some cases, the technical capacities of Google Analytics and Mixpanel are similar. The value of one tool over the other depends on the technical abilities of those using the platform.

Several Mixpanel users—in in-house and agency settings—viewed the user-friendly components of its analysis as true cost savings because they reduced the amount of human labor necessary to create and interpret reports.

Nishank Khanna, the CMO of Clarify Capital, explained why they added Mixpanel to their analytics suite:

We were using Google Analytics for years, until it became a chore to track custom event-driven data. As our business needs for analytics grew more sophisticated, we needed to easily define events to track, ensuring a flexibility that promotes focused and meaningful analytics.

We found that in Mixpanel, and the time saved was day and night.

Khanna’s experience wasn’t unique. As Kurniawan confirmed, the ease of implementation is, at times, more important than the technical differences:

Technically, for event tracking versus pageview tracking, both Mixpanel and Google Analytics can do them very well given enough effort. So it’s a matter of ease of use: Setting up event tracking is significantly easier on Mixpanel opposed to Google Analytics.

In our case, since we set up marketing systems including analytics for clients, some (well, most) of them are not tech savvy. Ease of implementation is very important so we don’t have to go back and forth often.

Throughout user reviews for both products, definitions of “easy” and “hard” varied. Complicating matters, an “easy” setup often meant easy data collection—not easy interpretation.

The paradox was clear. Some Mixpanel reviewers lauded its easy setup; others lamented its challenges. Google Analytics was “great if you have no experience” but also only useful “if you have experience.” Just because you can gather data quickly doesn’t mean you’ll know what to do with it.

No product feature or technical capability can replace human interpretation, at least not yet. Both Google Analytics and Mixpanel have rolled out systems to automatically push alerts or pull insights from their platforms.

Mixpanel (left) and Google Analytics (right) have both rolled out automated alerts to make data more accessible.
Conclusion

“Mixpanel is most valuable for companies who need to track revenue over a long period of time, or really know how their users use their product,” summarized McGaw.

In other words, What percentage of your business decisions are driven by things that happen after a website visit or form fill?

If the stopping point in Google Analytics is only the midpoint (or less) for your customers’ online experience, Mixpanel can extend and deepen the analytics portrait—tracing individual users or cohorts all the way back to their initial interaction.

Still, the question of which analytics platform to use doesn’t hinge on these two alone. Others, like Amplitude, Kissmetrics, and Heap, also gather and aggregate user and product data.

All require an investment beyond the tool itself—one in human capital—to translate data into the product improvements and user satisfaction that make analytics meaningful.

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