Category: Traffic Training

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Bootstrapping Relevance: Making Web Conversions Meaningful for Long Sales Cycles

sourced from: https://conversionxl.com/blog/analytics-long-sales-cycles/

Most hurricanes that reach the United States start off the coast of West Africa. Those storms join and split with other minor systems as they move across the Atlantic. Some dissipate into a mild breeze; others devastate coastal areas along the Eastern seaboard.

So what does an afternoon rainshower over Cape Verde tell you about the next Category 5 hurricane? Often, little more than a form fill tells you about the potential for a five-figure sale months down the road.       

Google Analytics insights frequently end with raw counts of goal completions, leaving a yawning gap between on-site behavior and sales for companies with long sales cycles.

More challenging still, the space between marketers’ realities and solutions is equally vast: Seamless integration of marketing and sales data or a Google Analytics 360 subscription is aspirational.

This post details four steps that any organization can follow to estimate the value of on-site conversions more accurately:

Identify every potential touchpoint.Organize existing data into an idealized customer journey.Integrate data into goal completions.Analyze and act on that data.

No solution is perfect, but incremental progress is possible—and worthwhile.

Why bother? Analytics incentivize behavior

The data-related challenges of long sales cycles are well known: Between a form fill and a sale, there may be dozens of touchpoints spanning weeks or months. Those interactions occur across teams (marketing, sales, customer support) and platforms (analytics, CRM, email).

The challenge of joining those datasets resigns many marketers to limited measurement: We know our data is incomplete, so we might as well just count form fills.

Yet analytics incentivize behavior, and if marketing teams can’t see past total goal completions (euphemistically, “leads”), they’ll devote resources to those efforts—even if a painfully low percentage ever become sales-qualified leads.

The limits of attribution

A common focus for companies with long sales cycles is attribution. But even data-driven attribution, robust as it may be, usually improves attribution of form fills or PDF downloads—marketing metrics that may be weak indicators of sales.

Goal completions can become stronger predictors of sales by pushing data about the relative value of each goal completion back into analytics.

Attribution’s relevance depends on the known value of the conversion.

Regardless of how much data you have, you will make decisions on how to allocate marketing resources. Partial data—or even anecdotal data—can, at the bare minimum, form the basis for experimentation and a means to test your assumptions.

It starts with a survey of all known customer data.

Step 1: Identify every potential touchpoint.

“Long lead time before the sale is an opportunity to do more data collection,” offered Snowplow Analytics’ Anthony Mandelli, “which will ultimately help you in the long run.”

Compare the number of touchpoints in a year-long sales process to the purchase of novelty socks (Mandelli’s example). The latter is a single image, the former a feature-film—a complete narrative with deep insight into what influences consumer behavior.

“It’s a long sales cycle for a reason,” Mandelli continued. “Leads are conducting online and offline research.” The starting point, then, is to “get all your data together somewhere—start with the first interaction, then all the way to purchase.”

That data may include:

Form fillsPDF downloadsPhone callsEmail opens/clicksWebinar signups/viewsDemo requestsFree trial signups, etc.

It may also include reports from your sales team, estimates by executives, or other offline sources. At the outset, you simply want to know all the potential sources of data (regardless of whether you’re able to gather them into a Customer Data Platform that curates “a single source of truth“).

You may be missing key data or may not be able to integrate it in future steps, but knowing what exists—and what is or isn’t accessible—helps establish the immediate path forward and guides future improvements.

Step 2: Organize existing data into an idealized customer journey.

Sketching an idealized user journey—or reviewing one already created—is not about forcing users into a linear funnel but about creating a structure to help organize your data.

A customer journey map, Hull’s Ed Fry explains, “highlights the macro-conversions that many teams in the company optimize for (like a new user signing up) vs. micro-conversions that concern few other people.” Each stage in the journey, in turn, is delineated by a conversion:

In a customer journey, the step-by-step progress of a user usually includes a measurable conversion in a digital channel. (Image source)

In an example Mandelli shared, a flooring company had no visibility into what happened between a potential buyer’s $10 sample purchase and a $10,000 sale. Building an idealized user journey—based on data from a real customer—helped the company organize the data they had by the steps the customer took:

Web ad (Google AdWords or Bing)Visit the websiteOrder a sample from the websiteReview samplesReceive drip email marketing campaignPurchase flooring (through the web or on the phone

With existing data points plotted along the idealized user journey, ask yourself: “Where are the biggest gaps between touches?” (In the above example, it’s Step 4.) “The goal is not to sink under analysis paralysis,” writes Fry. “It is to simply understand the backbone of your customer journeys.”

A data gap does not invalidate conversion values for long sales cycles. Charles Farina of Analytics Pros explained:

If you are able to qualify a lead quickly, work to connect your metrics to center on qualified leads. From there, try and work further down the funnel.

In other words, if a form fill can be qualified with a second interaction (say, responding to a phone call), that data—the percentage of form fills who become qualified leads—can guide conversion valuation, even if months pass before those qualified leads become sales.

Even with complete data, Farina suggested, you’ll rarely optimize based on close-of-sale metrics: It simply takes too long. If you make changes to service pages today, would you put everything on hold for months while you waited to see how many leads from the updated pages became customers?

What you really need, Farina suggested, is a two-stage optimization process:

Focus on bringing more quality into your funnel, then use the fully connected journey to make additional optimizations on top.

For many, the perspective is liberating: Data points from one or two steps post–form fill can make conversion data vastly more relevant, no matter how long the sales cycle stretches past the initial conversion.

Step 3: Integrate data into goal completions.

There are elegant solutions for integrating Analytics data with CRM data and similar sources:

Google Analytics 360 connects anonymous user data with CRM data in BigQuery (as well as Salesforce data within the Google Analytics UI).Data collection platforms like Snowplow Analytics or Hull integrate data from various sources.

The potential value of an integration—like pulling Salesforce data into Google Analytics—is clear, but securing the budget is, for most, unrealistic. (Image source)

In the prior example of the flooring company, Snowplow joined the data from web analytics and marketing automation tools to provide ongoing visibility about how users progressed through the journey. But that ongoing portrait—while closer to the ideal—isn’t mandatory.

If you don’t have a sizeable analytics budget or an in-house team of developers to manage multiple connections, use a snapshot of your post-conversion data to adjust Goal Values in Google Analytics.

1. Make periodic calculations for Google Analytics Goal Values

Goal Values assign dollar values to conversions—replacing the faulty “a conversion is a conversion” logic with estimated revenue from on-site actions.

To set Goal Values, you need to calculate the value of a lead on a goal-by-goal basis. In its simplest form, the process divides the total number of goal completions by the revenue from those conversions.

100 form fills5 form fills convert to salesEach sale generates $10,000 in revenue

Thus, a form fill is worth $500. The calculation requires two data points outside Google Analytics: The number of web leads who became customers, and the value of each sale. (If you don’t have access to both, skip to the second option.)

In a perfect world, the calculations are exact enough to establish ROI for marketing efforts. However, for long sales cycles, obtaining that degree of accuracy is almost impossible—but that shouldn’t keep you from using Goal Values.

Goal Values Are fixed numbers…with relative value

When it comes to long sales cycles, setting the Goal Value of a form fill is less about ROI and more about weighting the impact of on-site behavior. Relative differences in dollar values, as detailed in the fourth step, allow for better comparisons of how each page or channel performs.

For example, if a lead who initiates an engagement with a phone call—tracked via CallRail or Marchex—closes at twice the rate of a form fill, that difference will be reflected in the Goal Value. Likewise, a newsletter signup from a blog post will probably be weighted less (by using sales data from newsletter subscribers).

To think of it another way, not assigning Goal Values gives every goal the same value: $0. If your Goal Values aren’t accurate enough to determine ROI—whether left as $0 or calculated based on sales data—you might as go with the calculated estimate that at least has a chance of being directional.

Note: If seeing “inaccurate” Goal Value figures will ruffle feathers in other departments, create a new View with the same Goals and add estimated Goal Values.

Use Lookup Tables to generate dynamic Goal Values

Not all form fillers—even of the same form—are equal. A Lookup Table in Google Tag Manager (GTM), as Bounteous details, can set dynamic Goal Values based on form inputs.

So, for example, if a form question includes the size of the company, you can adjust the Goal Value based on the likelihood of conversion, average order value, or lifetime value of that demographic.

Set a different Output (Goal Value) for each based on Input (the form-field options):

The Default Value is used if none of the other criteria is met.

Create a Data Layer variable to capture the business category data (the Input field) upon submission. Then, create an Event that pulls in the business category information and the associated lead value from the Lookup Table.

Finally, use the Event value as the Goal Value for the that conversion:

Even if you don’t know the value of a given type of lead—or any lead at all—you still have another option.

2. Estimate the relative value of online touchpoints

If quantitative data on lead conversion rates and order value isn’t available, you can add relative values. Branko Kral of Orbit Media detailed the process for a stem-cell clinic with a long sales cycle and limited data.

They identified the primary touchpoints, then assigned relative values from $100 to $10—the actual dollar values were irrelevant—to gauge the impact of campaigns that spurred a range of micro- and macro-conversions:

First-time calls – lead to most new businessRepeating calls – also highly valuableCall-back requests – capture contact info and explicitly ask to be contactedBlog subscriptions – capture contact info and indicate trustVideo views > 50% of the video length – patients who book often mention they’ve watched the patient testimonial videosEmail link clicks – typical for inquiries higher up the funnelSocial share clicks – spread the wordViews of a Contact Us page – a subtle but valuable indicator of interest

It’s easy to poke holes in the process: How do you know that a social share click is worth say, half that of a video view? You don’t. However, that initial, heuristic estimate is a baseline for hypothesis development and testing.

After all, if you don’t assign Goal Values, you’re still allocating resources based on which actions you perceive to be most valuable. Adding relative Goal Values to on-site conversions makes it easy to visualize the implications of your assumptions throughout your site.

Step 4: Analyze and act on that data.

Adding calculated or relative Goal Values to conversions populates one metric (Page Value) and makes others—even basic channel grouping reports—more instructive.

Page Value   

The Page Value metric provides URL-by-URL valuations of every page. (Image source)

In Google Analytics, Page Value “is the average value for a page that a user visited before landing on the goal page or completing an Ecommerce transaction (or both).” As Effin Amazing notes:

Goals are a Session dimension metric, which means that you cannot use them in a Hit dimension report like Pages report, Event reports, or any type of Custom report built around a Hit dimension.

Page Value bridges the gap between these Session dimensions and Hit dimensions by tying a specific page URL to a monetary value when users complete a goal or transaction.

It’s one way to see the value of content at a URL level. With a Goal Value calculated from actual sales data, the Page Value metric may (roughly) estimate revenue; without it, it still offers a weighted estimate of importance for pages in the conversion process.

That URL-by-URL view can break down further into:

Mediums (e.g. organic vs. direct visits to the same page or group of pages)Website sections (e.g. /case-studies/ vs. /whitepapers/)Anything else you can think to add as a secondary dimension.

A caveat on taking action

A one-time estimate of close rates or average order value is good for only so long. The more often (monthly, quarterly) those calculations can be reworked—and Goal Values adjusted—the more reliable that data will be. (Goal Values are not assigned retroactively.)

Further, if an initial estimate suggests that email visitors are more lucrative than those from other channels, that may justify a push to acquire more email addresses—only to capture the addresses of less-relevant, less ready-to-buy visitors.

Every update of your Goal Values, then, is an opportunity to spot diminishing returns and shift marketing resources to another channel or site section. Disappointing as it may be to realize that you’ve exhausted a strategy, you’ll never notice unless you rerun the numbers—all you’ll see is conversions trending up, a vanity metric reaching ever-higher to nowhere.

Conclusion

When it comes to long sales cycles and web conversions, “perfect” is often the enemy of anything. But just because you don’t have uninterrupted lead-to-sale data doesn’t mean you can’t make your web analytics more meaningful.

Indeed, the second and third interactions after an on-site conversion—those you’re most likely to have on hand—may be the most influential metrics no matter how much data you accumulate.

Importing calculated Goal Values based on those metrics back into Google Analytics offers a more accurate valuation of the actions that take place on your website.

Even if those values are relative, you gain visibility into the assumptions you have about your site. Whether or not they hold true, the outcome will improve your marketing.

The post Bootstrapping Relevance: Making Web Conversions Meaningful for Long Sales Cycles appeared first on CXL.

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How to Drive Traffic to a Brand-New Site with Little to No Money

sourced from: https://neilpatel.com/blog/traffic-brand-new-site/

I know what you are going through.

You were excited to launch your brand-new site until you realized no one is coming to it.

So, you head to all of the marketing blogs to learn how to fix this, but for the life of you, your traffic won’t go up no matter which tactic you leverage.

What you’re feeling right now is very common. Not only have I experienced it, but when I was starting out, I even took the small life savings that I made from cleaning restrooms and sweeping up trash to pay a marketing firm to help me out.

And can you guess what happened?

They took my money and provided no results.

See, what most marketers aren’t telling you is that there are two main reasons why you aren’t getting traffic to your brand-new site (other than the fact that you don’t have much money to spend on ads):

Marketing is a long-term game – almost all of the tactics marketers, including me, talk about are long-term tactics. They take 6 months or even longer to see any results.
Your execution needs to be flawless – if you don’t implement the tactics correctly, you won’t see results.

Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t see short-term results or sales. More so you have to change up your strategy.

So, I thought I would do something a bit different today. I am going to break down what you should be doing during the first 12 weeks after launching your site.

I’ll be sharing a tactic for you to follow each week and, if you follow it, you’ll notice that your traffic will start going up right away. From there, you’ll start to see sales coming in.

Before I dive into the 12 tactics, note that you won’t have to spend much money, if any at all. I am also not going to give you advice that is extremely time-consuming, like writing blog posts, as you’ll also be running your business at the same time.

And of course, the tactics work for both B2B and B2C sites. It doesn’t matter if you are an ecommerce site or a SaaS company. Follow the steps below exactly.

Week #1: Respond to comments on other people’s blog without spamming

Have you heard of a popular site called Mashable? It was founded by Pete Cashmore.

When he launched his competing site to TechCrunch, no one knew about him and no one cared to listen to him as he was based in Scotland instead of Silicon Valley.

But do you think that stopped him? Of course not!

So, what did he do? He went out there and commented on every competing tech blog. And not only did he comment, but he always tried to be the first commenter.

See, when you leave a comment on a blog, most ask you to put in your name, URL, and comment.

Assuming you are leaving valuable comments and nothing spammy, you’ll notice that you’ll get referral traffic in your Google Analytics.

This will be because a very small percentage of people are clicking on your name when you leave a comment.

And considering some of the most popular blogs on the web receive millions of visitors each week, it’s not that hard to drive a fraction of a percent of their traffic back to your site.

The key with this strategy is to be one of the first commenters as that ensures your comment is at the top. The other key, of course, is that your comment must add value.

For example, if you own a marketing related product or service, marketing blogs would be a great place to comment. But what do you think will happen if you leave this kind of standard comment:

Nice post! Keep up the good work!

Nothing. On the flip side, if you put in some effort to write something that benefited the reader, you’ll have a chance at getting some traffic.

An example could be something like this…

Neil, I love the actionable tips on generating traffic for a brand-new site within the first 3 months of launching it. But I know you didn’t discuss much if any about SEO.

I know SEO is a long-term strategy, but people should get a head start right away or else it will take that much longer to get loved by Google.

One thing that I recommend every site to start off with is simple keyword research. You can use any free keyword research tool like Google Keyword Planner and type in your competitor URL. Google Keyword Planner will then suggest keywords and even show you the cost per click.

By going after keywords that aren’t competitive and have a higher cost per click, you’ll find that you can generate search traffic at a much faster pace and these keywords will drive sales. As keywords with a high cost per click tend to mean that they convert.

Do you see what I mean by writing thoughtful comments that help people?

This tactic works!

Jared, who runs Skincare by Alana, still leverages this tactic today. When he and his wife launched their ecommerce store they commented on other popular blogs and social sites when it came to all things skin related.

This helped them generate 931 visitors during their first week and 12 sales.

I know it’s not a lot, but you have to start somewhere and grow from there.

I also have leveraged this tactic for years. Instead of focusing just on blogs, I commented on relevant social sites too.

As you can see from the screenshot above, I’ve generated over 1.9 million views on my Quora responses.

Here’s an example of one of my responses:

You’ll notice that in my response I also link out to my own site which drives traffic back to me.

Yes, the response looks very long, and you may think I put in tons of work, but I literally copied and pasted a blog post I had already written and added it to Quora.

Google doesn’t penalize for duplicate content. 😉

If you are going to use this strategy during week one, try to leave at least 10 solid comments per day. I would try to leave 20 as it shouldn’t take you more than two hours per day… assuming you haven’t done this before.

I can typically leave 15 comments in less than 50 minutes. So, throughout the first week try to speed things up and spend no more than an hour on this tactic per day.

Week #2: Be helpful on Twitter and you’ll get tweets

Before I go into week 2, keep in mind you’ll still want to maintain the tactics I share in the previous week.

By week 12, you’ll want to be following all 12 tactics each week.

Of course, you won’t be able to put in the same number of hours into each tactic and that’s fine, but you can still do them a bit. For example, you can still leave 5 comments a day instead of leaving 20.

So, let’s dive into week 2, which is all about Twitter.

This tactic I learned from my brother-in-law Hiten Shah. He used to leverage this tactic for every one of our startups… Crazy Egg, KISSmetrics, and he now leverages it for his newest company FYI.

If you look at Hiten, he built up his personal brand and influence in the tech space because of Twitter. Sure, people like me may have a bigger brand or more Twitter followers, but he has much, much, much more authority on Twitter than I do.

As you can see influential people on Twitter are tweeting about Hiten’s latest company.

He even tweets and connects with well-known entrepreneurs like the founder of HubSpot and Drift because of Twitter.

So how is Hiten getting all of these people to show him some Twitter love? Well, he has a 3-step formula…

Help people
Help people
Help people

And no, I am not joking, that is his formula. He doesn’t care to promote his business, he just helps people.

Let’s look at his Twitter profile to dive deeper into his strategy.

If you look at the tweets above, you’ll notice that Hiten continually pushes out advice on his Twitter profile. He rarely mentions his own company, but instead just tries to help people.

And when people ask questions or need help, he constantly responds to people’s tweets.

Not everyone takes his advice, but his mentality is to just be helpful no matter what. Just look at how he responds to people’s tweets.

Lastly, he retweets stuff that he likes. Whether you are an influencer or an average joe, he doesn’t care. He just wants to share the best information out there.

This is why so many people tweet about his product FYI. It’s because he is super helpful, so people naturally want to help him out without him even asking them to.

Now I know this strategy that Hiten uses seems like it is going to take forever to get results, and it does. But there is a hack that he uses to get immediate results.

Every day you should search Twitter for people talking about your competitor. When people have questions about your competitors’ products or services (or they have complaints), try and help them.

Don’t pitch them on your company, just try and help them.

What you’ll find is people will be shocked that you are helping a competitor. And if you are this kind and helpful, then what kind of service would they get if they took their business to you…

In other words, being helpful wins you goodwill and it will cause people to switch from your competitor over to you.

And if you go above and beyond like Hiten, people who haven’t even used your product or service will help promote you. Just like how one of his followers tweeted about FYI and he hasn’t even used it yet.

His strategy to help, help, and help some more has made Twitter one of FYI’s biggest traffic source. It accounts for roughly 25% of their weekly traffic.

Week #3: Go after small affiliates

No matter what industry you are in, there are affiliates. If you aren’t familiar with affiliate marketing, check out this post.

When you are starting out you probably haven’t created an affiliate program yet in which pay other marketers every time they drive you a sale or a lead.

You can always use software like Hasoffers to set one up or go through a network. There are literally hundreds of options and with a few quick Google searches, you can find one which is the right fit for you.

Now, what most people will tell you is that no one is going to promote your affiliate offer because it is unproven and new.

Although it’s true that your offer is unproven, it doesn’t mean all hope is lost.

During your third week, I want you to copy the strategy ConvertKit used when they first launched.

The strategy I am about to break down helped them grow from a few thousand dollars a month in revenue to over a million a month.

What ConvertKit did was they went to all of their competitors’ sites and looked to see which ones had an affiliate program. One of those competitors happens to be Aweber.

Then once they had a list of competitors with affiliate programs, they performed a Google search for “competitor name vs.” An example would be “Aweber vs”…

From there they would email each of those site owners asking them to include ConvertKit in the article or even write a unique article about ConvertKit. Just like this one.

Just think of it this way, if someone is willing to be an affiliate for one company, they won’t mind throwing in a few extra competitors. All it does is give them the potential to make more money.

When leveraging this tactic, consider sending out 10 emails a day. It shouldn’t take long and people typically don’t mind adjusting their web pages to add in another link that could potentially earn them extra money.

Now compared to most tactics, this one will drive the least amount of visitors.

But the traffic will be very qualified and more likely to convert as you are going after “versus” articles. When someone types in “Company X VS Company Y” into Google, they are researching which solution is ideal for them. These posts rank well and they tend to drive sales.

Week #4: Hire guest writers

Now the strategy I am about to break down for you in week 4 is my favorite strategy.

This is what I used in my last startup KISSmetrics to grow our blog traffic to over a million visitors a month.

If you head to the KISSmetrics site you’ll notice that it now redirects to NeilPatel.com as I bought the site.

So how much traffic did the KISSmetrics blog get from this strategy?

As you can see from the image above, we peaked at 1,260,681 unique visitors a month.

Our strategy was simple… hire writers who had a social following.

We went to the Problogger Job Board and posted a job looking for writers.

The job description looked something like this…

Are you a marketing expert? Do you know marketing like the back of your hand?

That’s great because I have an opportunity for you.

KISSmetrics is a leader in the web analytics space and we are looking to work with expert writers who know marketing and analytics.

We’re currently looking to expand our team of writers with passionate enthusiasts for digital marketing and with expertise and passion for writing.  We are hiring individuals for each of the following categories:

SEO
Content marketing
Social media
Web analytics
Conversion optimization
Paid advertising
Web design
Branding
Email marketing

Please go to our blog for examples of content we’re looking to create. [insert URL of your blog]

We would like to build a long-term relationship with you that is on a project basis. Initially, we will have you submit a list of topic ideas you would love to blog on, then we will pick one, have you outline it… and of course, you’ll then be off to the races.

The articles will be anywhere from 1,000 words to 3,000. Our goal isn’t to enforce a word count, we are more interested in high-quality content.

We’re looking for someone who is:

Looking for a long-term working relationship
Has 1 year of working experience as a writer
Has a good level of knowledge of digital marketing
Is willing to research and learn more about marketing
Has great grammar and spelling skills as well as proficiency in English
Likes working with deadlines and structure
Has a social following and doesn’t mind promoting the content you are writing as it will be published under your name

How to apply

Send an email to [insert your email] with – Applying For Writer Position in the subject line. Your email should include:

A bit about you as well as links to your social profiles
Why you’re a good fit for this position
Links to 2 -3 articles you have written
Your rate per 500 words.

The way we scaled up to over a million visitors a month was by publishing 5 blog posts a week. And every time a writer wrote a blog post for us, they didn’t mind promoting it to their social following as their name was on the article.

Once we got over 50,000 visitors a month, we noticed that we started to get inbound inquires of people willing to write for us for free. So eventually we slowly transitioned to a model where people wrote for us for free and we didn’t need to hire or pay writers.

You’ll notice that this will happen with your blog as it gets more popular.

What’s great about this strategy is the more writers you get, the more people that will find out about your company as each writer has different people following them on the social web.

Week #5: Create a podcast and interview guests

Have you listened to my podcast Marketing School? If you haven’t listened to it yet, check it out.

My co-host Eric Siu and I give marketing advice each day in under 5 minutes.

But don’t worry, the strategy I want you to implement isn’t to copy Marketing School or even listen to it (although I would be honored if you did listen to it).

Instead, it’s to copy my co-host, Eric Siu. He has another popular podcast called Growth Everywhere where he interviews someone new each and every single week.

You don’t have to do a weekly podcast, but I want you to interview someone in your space at least once a month.

And instead of making a separate site for your podcast, just pop it onto your main site.

Now when you publish each of these interviews, ask the guest to share it with their audience. From their social profiles to posting it on their own blog to even emailing their own list.

Although Eric has built a brand in the marketing space, he wasn’t well known when he started Growth Everywhere.

Just look at his stats from leveraging this tactic:

Eric’s generating over 15,300 unique visitors a month. That’s a lot of traffic considering Eric hasn’t even tried to grow the traffic to Growth Everywhere.

Best of all, you can generate similar results to Eric. But the key to doing this is interviewing people within your space so that way the traffic that comes to your site is relevant and over time those visitors will convert into customers.

If you don’t know how to start a podcast, watch this:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIJpOcFf5h4?feature=oembed&w=700&h=394]

You could buy fancy equipment, but I would just use whatever’s built into your computer until you start seeing results from this tactic.

And if you really want to make your podcast popular, check this out.

Week #6: Become a rising star

Do you want to be a rising star? Well of course you do… who doesn’t?

Now you probably wondering, what the heck is a “rising star?”

Well, let me first start off with, Facebook groups.

Whatever industry you are in, whoever your ideal customers are… you can find them in a Facebook group.

Look for niche groups on Facebook related to the product or service you are selling. You want to join these groups as long as they have over 1,000 members.

You may also find groups that have over a million members. You’ll want to avoid these groups.

Focus on groups that are between 1,000 members and 17,000 members. Those groups are big enough to where you can generate traffic and small enough where you’ll be noticed.

What you’ll want to do is join a handful of groups and post 4 to 5 times in the group during your first month.

Assuming you are creating posts that are engaging in which people are responding and interacting with you, then you’ll get a rising star badge.

That means people are interacting with your posts. So then when you mention your product or service, you’ll find that not only will people see it, but they are going to head on over to your site.

The key with posting to Facebook groups is to create a high amount of comments and replies. If you just link out to your site you’ll get very few clicks and you will look like a spammer. Posting links and nothing more will get you banned from the group.

But if you link out within context or answer someone’s question with a link to your site or share something from your site that will help group members, you are much more likely to get clicks.

But if the content isn’t engaging and people don’t care to leave comments, you won’t see much traffic from your Facebook group.

I have a private Facebook group with 2,616 members.

When you post something that is engaging, you’ll get featured as a “top recent post” and I’ve found with my 2,616 members I can generate 119 to 184 visitors when I post something that is super engaging that links to my site.

But instead of creating a group as I did, just join other popular groups. You’ll save a ton of time.

Week #7: Co-publish content

Have you ever thought about co-publishing content with other site owners? Even if you don’t have a huge audience, people will still love co-publishing content with you.

Why you may ask?

Well, they may have the audience, but they may be too busy to continually create new content.

Just look at me… I co-published so many guides with other writers.

And…

And…

These writers got tons of exposure and did the majority of the work.

Over time, these guides have generated well over a million visitors. But I know they are time-consuming to create, and I’m not asking you to create guides.

Instead, you can co-publish blog posts together, record a webinar together, create a white paper, or anything else that you feel could be a good fit.

A good example of this is how my team co-published content together with a company called Hotmart in Brazil.

They wrote about Ubersuggest. They even co-published a video about SEO and, of course, my team mentioned Ubersuggest.

That helped make Brazil the most popular country when it comes to usage for Ubersuggest.

If you are going to try and co-publish content with others, make sure you are willing to do the majority of the work.

Hit up other sites within your space and make your offer. Let them know how they won’t have to do much work and, of course, mention what they’ll get out of it.

When you co-publish content, you can’t just talk about your company, you also have to talk about theirs.

Week #8: Product launches

Have you heard of Drift?

It’s a chatbot tool that a lot of people in sales and marketing use.

What I love about Drift is their Product Hunt strategy. Every time they release a new feature, they push it hard on Product Hunt.

You probably don’t have a ton of new feature releases as you have a brand new site but every time you have one you should consider pushing it out on Product Hunt or even a Sub-Reddit.

But for now, why can’t you launch your site on Product Hunt or on a Sub-Reddit?

Sure you site maybe live for a few weeks, but you haven’t announced it to the world yet. 🙂

Product Hunt is super effective when it comes to traffic generation. When FYI launched via Product Hunt they got over 1,000 votes. It was so successful, the HubSpot co-founder even offered them funding.

I did something similar with Ubersuggest. Every time I release a new feature, I announce it on Product Hunt. So far it has driven me 12,319 visitors.

The key with doing well on Product Hunt is:

Get as many votes right when you release it… ideally within the first hour (so ask your friends and co-workers to vote)
Participate in the community before you submit your own site. Ideally, you want someone else to submit, but if you don’t know any active Product Hunt users, participate for a bit before you submit your own site.
Make sure you respond to every single comment as this helps with engagement.
Submit your site very early in the morning Pacific Standard Time. Product Hunt resets every night, so consider submitting it around 4 am Pacific Standard Time.

I know self-promotion might be a bit difficult for you when you are starting off but you need to embrace it. There is nothing wrong with pushing your own company… if you don’t, no one else will.

Week #9: The gram

Honestly, what do you think of Instagram?

Well, whether you like it or hate it, it is one of the most popular social networks out there. And influencer marketing is becoming one of the most effective promotion channels.

Anytime a Kardashian talks about a product, it flies right off the shelves.

That’s how companies like FitTea came out of nowhere and grew to 7 figures in revenue overnight.

I know what you are thinking: It’s going to be too expensive to pay Kim Kardashian to talk about your business. And you are right, it will be too expensive.

Heck, anyone who has over a million followers will try and charge you too much. Anyone with over 100,000 will also probably charge you too much.

Instead, I want you to look for micro-influencers who have at least 10,000 followers. Find people within your vertical who aren’t too popular but whose followers would be your ideal customer.

Now I want you to reach out to these influencers and offer them a bit of money to promote your product or service.

When it comes to making your offer, don’t pay them money for a post because it will be too expensive, pay them to create an Instagram story.

See, the moment someone hits 10,000 followers, Instagram enables the “swipe up” feature. This means they can tell their followers to swipe up to head over to any website. And in this case, they will be telling their followers to swipe up and head over to your website.

You’ll find that influencers will create a story for pennies on the dollar as it expires within 24 hours.

Typically, if someone has 10,000 to 20,000 followers, I am able to pay them a few hundred bucks for 3 stories over a 2 week period.

I prefer this over a post because this drives traffic to your site and you can track the number of sales you are generating from each campaign.

You can also leverage sites like Influence to find influencers.

A friend of mine, Timothy Sykes, does this often. He goes crazy and pays influencers with over a million followers to do this because he has been able to make each campaign profitable.

Typically, you find that 1% to 2% of the person’s followers will swipe up and head to your site, assuming the story is good. With this strategy, you won’t get a ton of visitors, but the visitors you do get are more likely to convert into customers as they’ve already been pitched during the story.

Week #10: Wikipedia

Have you ever thought about Wikipedia as a traffic source? I know I didn’t until I attended a marketing conference years ago and heard someone from Comedy Central speak.

This marketer was breaking down how Comedy Central gets millions of visitors a month, which isn’t shocking because it’s a popular television channel.

But what was shocking is how they broke down how they generate over 100,000 visitors a month from Wikipedia.

You heard me right, they get well over 100,000 visitors a month just from Wikipedia.

How’s that possible?

Well, they go in and modify Wikipedia articles and mention Comedy Central whenever it is relevant.

But before you go off and modify hundreds of Wikipedia articles, know that you won’t get the same result as Comedy Central.

It’s more realistic for you to generate a few hundred visitors a month… and maybe even work your way up to a few thousand visitors a month over time.

The key with editing Wikipedia articles is to first adjust tons of pages that aren’t about your website. It’s not just about linking to your site, it’s more so about providing value to the community.

So, during this week, I want you to adjust 12 to 15 articles. Once you do that you can then adjust any relevant ones to your business and include your own company when it makes sense.

Again you won’t get a ton of traffic from this, but you can easily get a few hundred visitors.

Here are the steps you need to follow if you want to edit articles on Wikipedia.

Week #11: Speak at a virtual summit

By now you should have some traffic coming to your site. It may not be a lot, but if you followed all of the steps above, your visitors should be highly qualified.

And now I want you to leverage those visitors to get you a speaking spot at a virtual summit.

Search Google for a virtual summit in your industry. You should be able to easily find one.

It doesn’t matter if they are charging people to attend the virtual summit or if they are giving tickets away for free. Offer yourself to speak and promote the event.

You’ll be shocked at how many people will say yes if you are willing to promote their event.

Remember, unlike a physical conference it doesn’t cost them much to add hundreds of speakers and keep the summit going for an extra day or two.

When speaking, be sure you can promote your company during your speech and you’ll notice that you’ll be able to generate some visitors and sales. But that’s not why I want you to speak at the virtual summit.

Instead, I want you to ask the host of the summit to share the attendee list with you. Assuming they have the right terms of service and privacy policies this shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

You’ll also have to make sure they aren’t breaking any GDPR rules.

What you’ll find is this is a common practice with most virtual events in which the speakers will promote the event and the virtual summit will share the attendee list with the speakers.

This will give you a list of super qualified people that you can promote your blog posts to or even your product and services.

Week #12: Scripts and tools

You know I love SEO and it’s an amazing long-term strategy. But to do well with SEO you need backlinks.

The more relevant sites linking to you, the better off you are going to be.

And as you get more backlinks, in the short run it will provide referral traffic. In the long run, it will cause your search traffic to skyrocket.

Just to show you how powerful referral traffic is, just look at my referral traffic:

Over time, all of those sites linking to you will start driving thousands of visitors.

So, what’s the best way to get more backlinks?

Well, you don’t want to buy them. And manual link building takes a long time and isn’t as effective as it used to be.

Instead, what you should do is release free tools, like how I released the SEO Analyzer years ago. And over time, it’s naturally produced 2,369 backlinks from 450 referring domains.

Now, I know what you are thinking: building a free tool is expensive and time-consuming. But it doesn’t have to be. You can buy existing tools and put them on your website for pennies on the dollar. And over time, they will naturally get backlinks without you needing to do anything more.

For example, if you have a real estate website, you can always add a mortgage calculator to your website. And can you guess how much it would cost for you to add one to your site?

$13. That’s right, it only costs 13 bucks! How crazy is that!?

There’s a site called Code Canyon where you can buy tools for almost any industry.

You can use these tools as your own and put them on your site with a few clicks of a button.

Just head over to Code Canyon and perform some searches. You’ll quickly find some tools that can work for you.

Keep in mind that these tools won’t be 100% perfect compared to building your own tool. But that’s ok, you have to start somewhere. Plus, people will still link to your tool even if it isn’t perfect.

Conclusion

I know some of the tactics I mentioned above won’t drive you thousands of visitors right away but they can drive you hundreds. And hundreds of visitors is a great place to start!

And when you combine them over time, it will help you get thousands of visitors. You just have to be willing to perform all of the steps in each week… no matter how silly the tactic may appear.

More importantly, the tactics I broke down above will drive you visitors that convert into customers and leads. All you have to do is take the next 12 weeks and follow them.

It may seem like a lot of work at first, but you’ll get faster at them as time goes on.

So, what do you think about the tactics above? Are you already using them?

The post How to Drive Traffic to a Brand-New Site with Little to No Money appeared first on Neil Patel.

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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.

0

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.

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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