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A/B testing for startups

July 14, 2020
📓 Article

Generally, we tell clients that they need 1,000 conversions for a reliable A/B test, for each variation they’re going to test. (There are actual calculators you can use, too, but this is a rule of thumb.)

That means if you have, for example:

  • A landing page with 50,000 visitors every month, and a 5% conversion rate (= 2,500 conversions)
  • Or an ad with 250,000 impressions per month, and a 1% click-through rate (= 2,500 conversions)

You’re going to be able to run 1 reliable test each month. Of course, there’s a lot more to the story, and we recommend using a calculator like this one to know for sure. One other big factor is the size of the uplift; if you have larger differences between the test group (say they have a 10% conversion rate) and the control group (say they have a 1% conversion rate), the difference is also easier to detect. There are other parameters you can play with as well.

But the overall point is that it takes a lot of traffic. As you grow larger, you can run more tests! A million views of your homepage every month, with a 5% conversion rate, means 50 tests a month – and you can really get into things like buttons, form fields, copy, and more.

But what if you don’t have that much traffic? Is an A/B test still worthwhile, and how can you make it count?

Maximizing the usefulness of A/B testing

Given how few reliable A/B tests most marketers can run at a time, we suggest a few important practices to make sure they’re effective.

1) Test big. Testing slightly different landing page copy, or button size, or font color, is interesting! But ultimately, these tests often yield smaller improvements that take a long time to show up. Worse, by the time you’ve completed the test, or shortly thereafter, you’re embarking on a redesign or a new campaign that means you have to throw out your test and start again.

Instead, test an entirely different landing page design across all of your landing pages simultaneously. Try a completely different value prop on your homepage. Hide or show pricing in your nav bar. Hide or show live chat. Try to make big changes, see what happens, and use the results as evidence not just for marginal improvements in performance, but for significant changes in how you talk about, position, or promote your product.

2) Test all the way through. Your ads are a great place to test – super-easy to try different languages, instant learning about what resonates, and usually, something like click-through rate is a faster test than form conversions.

But in addition to testing click-through rates, you probably have a goal of converting your visitor. So you need to test conversions as well to see if your ad copy is simply drawing in lower-intent visitors more efficiently, or if it’s truly doing a better job at positioning you to prospects who would be interested. (You don’t have to A/B test your landing page in addition to your ad, though testing an ad in combination with a landing page might give you a more powerful signal.)

(If you’re an ecommerce business, this is a lot simpler, of course – and effective e-commerce tests do generally track all the way through to revenue. This point is directed mostly at B2B companies with a more complex sales cycle.)

3) Get the fundamentals in place before you test. A/B testing is useful, but talking directly to customers – and perhaps even showing them a landing page and soliciting their feedback – might be worth prioritizing. (And that approach will definitely give you more useful feedback.) There may be other fundamentals you need to work on first, too. How’s your design? Is your page showing up in search? Does it have a clear value proposition?

4) If you are going to A/B test, do it as a program, instead of as a one-off. Bake it into your process to always test your email subject lines, for example, and then choose the winner as the final send. By doing this, you’ll get better at testing, you’ll learn more, and your ultimate results will be a lot better.

5) Don’t hack your own test. Choose a timeline or an endpoint for the test – let’s say 1,000 actions – and then stop the test there. And don’t stop the test until you reach that point. Ending tests prematurely when a desirable outcome has been reached, even if that outcome is mathematically significant, is a major reason why marketers get false results from their A/B testing program.

6) Track your test. We don’t just mean keeping track of the results of the test, though of course that’s important! We also mean – what did you learn from each test? Why did you run it? What did you expect to see (your hypothesis), and what actually happened? This can add another layer of learning, since you don’t just learn from the test, you see how it compared with your thought process before you ran the test.

What kinds of A/B tests are useful?

In general, A/B tests should focus where learning will be most beneficial – and that isn’t necessary where you have the most conversions.

  • For example, if you have a page that lets users sign up for a demo, test 2 different versions of the page, with different value propositions, perhaps a description of what happens during the demo, social proof, and so on.
  • Consider A/B testing different page templates, not just individual blog posts or landing pages.
  • Make A/B testing part of an ongoing program, particularly for marketing emails, email outreach, and, if you have enough conversions, for paid advertising.

Conclusion

A/B testing is a powerful method for improving performance, but if you have less data, there are techniques you can use to really make your A/B tests count. In addition to ensuring a statistically valid test, make your tests bigger – more significant changes, a more thorough view of the entire sales funnel, and more consistent testing as part of the work you do every day.

Programs, not campaigns

July 13, 2020
📓 Article

Many marketers think in terms of campaigns. A campaign is a one-off marketing push around a specific initiative, or idea, or theme, or product release – and it usually has a pretty specific goal to drive a certain number of conversions, or a certain amount of engagement1.

If a campaign is successful, you see an increase in interest in your brand, at least for a while. But often, most of that boost is temporary. That’s particularly true in the case of campaigns that have a significant paid component, where the exposure goes away as soon as you stop spending money.

With a few exceptions (launches), we’re not big fans of campaign-driven marketing. Instead, we urge clients to think in terms of programs, rather than campaigns. Programs are:

  • Ongoing, both in execution and in the results they provide.
  • Iterative, meaning that you’re constantly learning from the results and improving them.
  • Value-focused, meaning that you achieve marketing success by constantly increasing the value you provide to people who come into contact with you.

Why programs work

There are a few reasons programs are more reliable:

1. Data is key to effective marketing

For any program to work well, you need lots of data. Click-through rates, visits, time on site, email open rates, conversions and so on. (Ideally, we also get data about revenue, to make sure that the campaign led to increased sales.)

All of this data, particularly revenue data, can only be built over time. Which makes it really hard to learn from one-off campaigns.

2. Evergreen content rules

If you consider everything that goes into producing an asset — strategy, copy, graphics, production, and so on, it’s a significant investment. Rather than thinking about a whitepaper or a blog post as something you work on once and put away, think about your content as something you can improve over time, so you’re constantly making incremental investments in something that might already be working, rather than brand new investments in things that are untested.

And meanwhile, since most website visits come from organic search, your content can be much more effective if it has time to accumulate backlinks and traffic. One compounding post creates as much traffic as six decaying posts.

3. Iteration is key

In the days of direct mail or print ads, you had to launch a campaign, and you couldn’t change it. People still think this way about digital content. But digital allows (and requires) constant iteration and responsiveness. You can always:

  • Update an instructional post with new features of your product that support what you’re explaining in the post
  • Consolidate posts that aren’t performing well with other posts that are getting traction
  • Make adjustments to a post as you improve your knowledge of what you’re customers are looking for, and what problems you solve for them

4. The scale of modern marketing requires a systems approach

This is a little more philosophical, but: today, your content can reach billions of people. It can reach everyone on the planet! It can (and does) reach all of your target prospects, at the same time.

In order to interact with everyone at the same time, you have to create assets that don’t require lots of intervention from you in order to encourage conversion. You have to create assets that are always present, always reachable, and that stand on their own with your prospect.

If you think about your content library as a product, everything you add to it has the potential to make everything else in the library more valuable. And if it’s valuable, it’s out there, working all the time, but you have to think about your content as a system that requires constant maintenance rather than as a bunch of stuff you write.

Conclusion

In general, think of your marketing as a system for building trust with your prospects and customers. That means one-off campaigns are not what you rely on – high-quality information, consistently produced and delivered – is. And you should think about that content as a system that works together, where everything that gets added improves the value of the content library as a whole.

  1. (We at Ercule are not super-enthusiastic about using military metaphors in marketing, of which “campaign” is one, but we’ll come back to that in another post.) 

The 5-minute SEO audit

July 13, 2020
📓 Article

There are lots of really complex technical, on-page and other audits out there – with dozens (hundreds!) of things you can look at to button up your site.

While it’s all valuable, in our opinion most marketers should be focused on the fundamentals – valuable content demonstrating your brand’s unique expertise, together with high-quality user experience. That’s better for performance overall, and, in our experience, it’s better for SEO in particular.

Following these rules, there’s a 5-minute audit we do the very first time we look at a new client’s site.

Does the site load fast?

Speed is a feature. Slow loading hurts you in search and in conversion rate optimization, it’s true. And slow site speed is often an indicator of a bunch of other, deeper problems that we can’t see from the outside:

Lack of focus on user experience on the site. Site speed is important for user experience, and yet it’s one of the easiest things to deprioritize because it requires a long-term, systematic approach to your site.

A poorly-maintained CMS. If the CMS isn’t well-maintained, content editors will also find it a chore to post content. That usually means less of it, and less time to focus on high-quality content.

An unclear analytics strategy. A major cause of slow loading is lots of Javascript, and often, lots of Javascript means lots of tracking tools.

An unclear conversion strategy. Another major cause of slow (perceived) loading is lots of popups and site widgets. Usually, this is an indicator that many things are being tried to inflate conversion numbers.

Does it look good?

To be fair, this can be subjective. But there are a few design problems we look for in particular. Bad design tends to degrade users’ experiences, which creates friction in the buying process. It also indicates a focus on short-term metrics rather than a high-quality content experience.

Inconsistency in design. too many fonts, too many colors, inconsistent standards applied across the site, unnecessary animations. These sorts of problems create a drag on users’ experiences, and often hurt conversion by causing visitors to wonder about your attention to detail in other areas of your business.

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Generic stock photos. These don’t help visitors understand your content. And they look, well, generic, particularly if they’re on core pages like the homepage or product pages. Stock photos often mean that interest in producing relevant content is low. On core pages, we hope to see custom illustrations, diagrams, or demos. For blogs, illustrations or screenshots are best. It’s also totally OK to not have images in a blog post, or to have some tasteful decorative elements instead.

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Lots of popups and widgets that aim to increase conversion – these usually degrade the site experience for visitors even if they’re successful. If they go off too early (for example, when a visitor lands on the site, instead of after they’ve engaged with the content), that’s a bad sign.

Can we tell what it’s about?

It’s hard to be successful in SEO if it isn’t clear what your product does, and what your content is trying to say. A couple of things we look for here are:

Is it clear from the front page what your product does? For a lot of companies, it’s very hard to tell. But clarity is an important driver of interest and conversions. Here’s a somewhat more blunt formulation of this idea. (Side note: Sometimes a muddy value prop means that the company itself doesn’t know what it does!)

The second part of the headline is the more compelling part, but it’s there.

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Is there a clear topic strategy on the blog? We often see large numbers of tags or topics, but the best way to generate inbound traffic – and be helpful to your customers – is to focus on a manageable number of ideas and areas where you can tell a complete story and deliver a useful body of expertise.

Conclusion

To recap, there are just 3 things that we look at in our 5-minute SEO audit:

  • Does the site load fast?
  • Does it look good?
  • Can we tell what it’s about?

Of course, there are many other things that are worth looking at. And of course, some technical aspects are super-important. But checking off these fundamentals is the key to content performance, and a big opportunity for most businesses to distinguish themselves from their competitors.

Help your customers unsubscribe

June 18, 2020
📓 Article

Once you go to the effort of getting someone on your email list, of course you want them to stay there.

And in most cases, you’re emailing when you have something interesting to say, and you’re producing compelling content that means that your subscribers will never, ever, want to leave.

But there are a bunch of reasons why you should make it really easy for them to do that, anyway.

1) Some subscribers will mark you as spam instead of unsubscribing.

The more people who mark you as spam, the higher risk that GMail (for example) will mark your email as spam for all of its users. Avoid this by letting people tell you, with very little effort, when they’re not interested.

2) It looks good.

Even if I’m not planning to unsubscribe from your email, providing the option shows respect and consideration for your users. It also prevents them from complaining on social media.

3) The difficulty of your unsubscribe process shouldn’t be what keeps people on your list.

Amazon offers its warehouse associates $5,000 every year to quit the company. Why? They don’t want people onboard who don’t want to be there.

In the same way, in most cases you don’t want email subscribers who don’t want to be there. Yes, there’s room for convincing people, but your marketing process at every other step of the funnel is about generating the right leads, not just leads in general.

If someone tells you they’re not the right person, take their word for it.

4) It lets you focus your efforts better.

Database segmentation can be tricky, but at least part of the “people who are very unlikely to buy from you” segment can be delineated very quickly. Your understanding of your database, and your marketing efforts, will be much better if you can reduce that segment to zero or almost zero members.

Also, allowing people to unsubscribe easily, especially if you provide the option to tell you why they unsubscribed, can give you valuable data to increase your emails’ effectiveness.

Marketing without Google Analytics

June 17, 2020
📓 Article

Google Analytics is incredibly popular software. According to BuiltWith, 90% of the top 100,000 websites use it. And if you’re a marketer, I pretty much guarantee that stat doesn’t surprise you and that you’re using GA to make significant decisions about your website and content strategy.

And yet, Google Analytics has always been hugely more complex than most marketers need or understand. Its data is fairly reliable, but it’s really easy to misconfigure, and more and more users are blocking analytics tools. And for anything beyond standard reporting, Google Analytics reports use sampled data, which makes these reports unsuitable if you’re looking for high precision. If you’re not looking for high precision, you should also know that Google Analytics’ standard reporting is offered by lots of other tools, about which more below.

Do we still recommend Google Analytics? Of course – but we think responsible marketers should offer their customers a way to opt out of GA tracking, and we think it’s an interesting experiment, and useful, to think about marketing without Google Analytics.

Why you should make it easy for users to opt out of Google Analytics

Of course, in many countries, letting users opt out of tracking is a legal obligation – and visitors from those countries should see a cookie consent notice when they visit your site. For example, if you intend to provide services to people in the EU, you’ll need to comply with the ePrivacy Directive.

But there are a few more important reasons.

Anecdotally, we’re seeing more people object to excessive data collection, especially from Google. Users who care can easily block your tracking anyway, but by providing them a straightforward, easy way to do this, you send a signal that their privacy is important to you.

Over the long run, we think you won’t need Google Analytics, and you certainly don’t need Google Analytics data from all of your visitors. The functionality and data that GA provides is far more than is actually needed. The result is that it’s easy to spend a lot of time setting up complex reports that don’t help you make better decisions, that may not even be accurate, and that distract you from other important sources of information – like other people in your company, or customers.

We also think that Google Analytics will, over time, assume much less importance for web analytics. Already, tools that are privacy-focused (e.g. Simple Analytics, Matomo, Plausible, and Fathom) are starting to gain more traction.

Because these tools are also simpler, they’re easier to use, and in many cases they rely on underlying metrics that are easier to understand, and more reliable to collect. Now is a good time to start thinking about a post Google Analytics world, and considering what you really need from your web analytics.

Javascript to easily let your visitors opt out

We’ve written some JavaScript to make it easy to allow your visitors to opt-out of Google Analytics tracking. This code:

  • Provides a text link that, when clicked, disables Google Analytics tracking on your site, for the visitor who clicked the link
  • Stores that preference in a cookie so that when a visitor returns, Google Analytics stays disabled
  • Allows your user to turn Google Analytics back on, if they want

Conclusion

For the moment, Google Analytics is still an important part of the marketing toolkit for most marketers. But its downsides should be recognized – in addition to data privacy issues, Google Analytics makes it easy to get lost in complex reporting that doesn’t add value to your marketing efforts. Give your users a way to easily opt out, and we recommend giving some thought to how you’ll market in a post-Google-Analytics world, too.

Less data, more context

June 16, 2020
📓 Article

Here are just a few pieces of data that content marketers have to incorporate into their strategies:

  • Search volume and competition for every topic you might want to cover
  • Engagement, clickthrough, and conversion rates for every piece of content you produce
  • Opportunity creation and close rates for the leads that your content delivers to reps

And that data isn’t even segmented – you could probably take each one of these bullets, and break it down further by device type, by geography, by where a visitor came from, by date, and so on.

And even if you spent time with all the data that’s available, some questions are still really hard to answer. Is our new home page definitely better?

  • If you’re migrating from something your CEO drew on a napkin in 2004, probably.
  • If you’re seeing bounce rates come down and organic traffic go up, almost certainly.
  • But a lot of times you won’t ever get a cut-and-dried answer.

Your bounce rate went from 60% to 55% – that’s good! But who knows what other effects your new site has downstream. If the bounce rate went down, but conversion rates also went down, that’s neutral or bad. Even if all of those measures are going in the right direction, if your reps are closing fewer opportunities from your site, that’s bad, too.

On the other hand, you probably can’t use changes in revenue to determine whether a site redesign is good – it takes way too long for that number to change, and there are lots of other variables.

Instead, to figure out whether your content is working, we suggest a different approach: less data, more context.

Less data, more context

A common mistake marketers make is to see an unclear indication in their lead funnel or in their web engagement measurements, and try to get clarity by looking for more data from those same sources.

The result is an increase in data complexity and time spent on reporting, where what’s really needed is to build more context around the simple data that’s readily available.

Modern marketing is less about finding clear answers and more about finding clues. As a marketer, you need to tell a story to your customers, but you also need to tell a story to your colleagues about what you’re doing and why. Following up on the example above, some other context for your site relaunch might include knowing that:

  • Your reps have included your homepage in their demos because it’s so clear.
  • Recruiting has gotten easier.
  • The exercise of building a new homepage entailed a messaging overhaul.

These things are the context into which your content fits. Measures are important, but understanding how your content fits into the rest of your organization is important, too. Data has a way of isolating marketers, but it should be a way of starting more conversations.

Making connections with your customers and colleagues about your content can help your content perform better, too. Imagine if your reps knew about everything you’re creating, and could send it out to prospects. Tools like Bamboo make it easy for people at your organization to promote your content to their own networks. Your promotion strategy can involve everyone at your company.

What data should you look at?

By the way, we’re not saying you shouldn’t look at anything. At a minimum, check out users, sessions, and pageviews, and of course you’ll want to measure entrances, bounce rates, and retained sessions. We wrote about what specific data you should look at here.

Conclusion

Less data, more context! Marketers should be on the phone with colleagues, prospects, and customers as much as possible. Take that information and put it together with some simple to understand data to get a fuller picture of how marketing is performing.

404 page checklist

June 14, 2020
📓 Article

Here are the few things we’ve seen that are (relatively) easy to do, and most likely to have a positive effect on your visitors’ experience.

First of all, make it really clear that your visitor has landed on a 404 page. A simple message like “we can’t find that page, sorry!” is great.

Next, consider adding a few things that will help your visitor get to where they’re trying to go:

Simple sitemap. Yes, you’ll have a navigation bar at the top of your 404 page, as you do for every other page on your site. But a list of common destinations is helpful, too. (A common mistake is to have a fun graphic or other branding that takes up the whole page and makes it an obstacle to your visitor finding what they want.)

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Live chat. If you’re using this, make sure it pops up on your 404 page with a helpful message – “Looks like this page went away, can we help you find what you’re looking for?”

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Search bar. If your CMS allows visitors to search your site, put a search bar on your 404 page.

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Popular content. If you have introductory content that appeals to a wide range of visitors, consider putting that on your 404 page, as well.

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Finally, a couple of other considerations that are helpful to keep in mind:

  • Periodically, you should check to see how often visitors 404 on your site. You can do this through Google Search Console, or using Google Analytics by searching for pages with a title matching your 404 page title. This is a great way to find pages that visitors are still interested in that may have been taken down or moved. Redirect the 404 URL appropriately.

  • 404 pages are a great place for your design team to be let loose to do something interesting. You Need A Budget has a whole playlist! (Which is barely visible because the main graphic is so large. But still!)

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A fun 404 page probably won’t help you stand out since they’re so common, but your design team might appreciate the chance to play around with a page that a lot of visitors will experience.

Alternatively, a really boring 404 page might be a little disappointing and off-brand.

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Conclusion

404 pages are not critical to your site’s performance, but if you’re looking to be buttoned-up and have as good an experience as possible for your visitors, they’re a great place to add some simple utilities and a little bit of branding.

Google Analytics visitor opt-out Javascript

June 12, 2020
📓 Article

As we discussed in our post about skipping Google Analytics altogether – we’ve written some JavaScript to make it easy for your visitors to opt-out of GA tracking. This post explains in more detail exactly what the code does and how to install.

Our intent with this code is to offer a useful utility – but it has some downsides that we list below, and will probably need a bit of customization for your use case.

But more importantly, we want to get marketers thinking: Do you really need Google Analytics to run an effective marketing department?

Quick overview of the opt-out code

Google Analytics lets web developers make a simple Javascript call to disable tracking. But Google doesn’t provide an easy way for site visitors to trigger it, so we added that. In addition, as far as we can tell, this value isn’t stored between visits to your site, and perhaps not even between pageviews, so we’ve added functionality to make this selection persistent. Lastly, we’ve added functionality to allow users to turn GA tracking back on if they’d like.

Main functions

The key line of this code is Google’s functionality to turn off tracking:

window['ga-disable-' + gaProperty] = true;

Every other line of the code provides the additional functionality described above. For example, readCookie() and setCookie() are fairly standard cookie functions to save and read whether your users has disable GA tracking. The checkCookie() function uses readCookie() to see if an option for disabling tracking has been set; checkCookie() also manages toggling the link text to switch between opted-in and opted-out states.

Setup

To use this, you can drop the code more or less unchanged into any page on your site; that’s what we’ve done with our blog post. The <a> element will work anywhere you place it, and if you have access to a web developer, they can attach this behavior to a button or some other element, instead.

Caveats and warnings

  • Ideally, you should have this code run before your Google Analytics code runs. If Google Analytics is implemented via Google Tag Manager on your site, the easiest way to do that is to take the code between the <script> tags and add it to a new GTM tag that fires before Google Analytics.
  • Another good reason to use Google Tag Manager: This code needs to run on every page of your site where Google Analytics runs.
  • If you’re subject to the requirements of GDPR or any similar legislation – this code isn’t going to be enough to cover those requirements. We don’t offer legal advice, but there are plenty of Cookie Consent companies out there that offer a full solution to this problem.
  • This code sets its own cookie. The irony isn’t lost on us! It’s just a few letters – optedin or optedout – and we tend to think that simpler cookies, that you control directly, are better. But still.
  • This only works for a single Google Analytics tracker, so if you’re using more than one, you’ll need to modify the code to account for that.

Conclusions

This short script makes it relatively straightforward to allow your users to disable Google Analytics. We’ll continue to develop this code, but mostly we hope this sparks a conversation for you about whether, and how, you want to continue using Google’s tool. Questions? Feel free to chat with us, or open an issue in the GitHub repo.

What data do content marketers actually need?

June 4, 2020
📓 Article

Google Analytics – and most other analytics tools – give you so! much! data! Almost anything you want to measure, you probably can. A quick look at the Dimensions and Metrics Explorer for GA, for example, will show you literally hundreds of:

  • Metrics, which are specific measures of actions taken on your site, like pageviews or sessions
  • Dimensions, which are specific ways of breaking down these measures, like geography, language, device, and so on.

Not to mention segments, filters, date ranges, etc.

But most people – and most content marketers – just don’t need this much data. In fact, looking at too much data can be distracting from your real goals, in addition to being time-consuming to set up and hard to understand and explain.

A few basic measures for content marketing

We think you can do really well with just a few things.

Pageviews, users and sessions. These are slightly different measures of engagement with your site.

Pageviews tell you how many times people looked at your pages, which can be useful for measuring the depth of engagement of a particular visitor, and the popularity of your content overall.

Users tell you how many people engaged with your site, which ultimately ties to lead generation and purchase goals.

And sessions are an important measure that’s kind of in the middle – how many engaged visits are you getting to the site? Of course, you want these numbers to increase.

Entrances. How many times did people enter your site for a certain piece of content? This is important to track so that you understand how much work your content is doing in attracting people to your site in the first place.

Bounce rate and retained sessions.

Bounce rate tells you how often someone came to your site, viewed just one page, then left. Sometimes this means that a visitor found what they were looking for, which is great – but ideally, you’re able to present other content to them, so they’ll stay.

And if a page generates lots of entrances, that’s good, but if they don’t stay, that’s much less helpful. So we calculate retained sessions by taking the number of sessions, and subtracting the percentage of sessions that bounced.

You’ll want to segment all of these measures, of course, by where visitors came from, with organic search being a key dimension to pay attention to.

Beyond the basics

We usually recommend a pretty focused set of measurements, but there are a few more things you can add if you’re doing a deep dive on your content or traffic strategy.

Heatmapping can be helpful as an infrequent exercise to see where visitors are engaging with your menu bar or other key pages on your site (e.g. the homepage). Most people shouldn’t run heatmapping tools all the time, since they slow down your site. When you’ve finished gathering data, turn the heatmapping tool off.

It can also be helpful to track a measure we call conversion contribution. For any conversion, what page on your site did that visitor first visit? If you’re knowledgeable about Google Analytics, you can track this by using the existing Converters segment, but you’ll need to make sure that conversions on your site are tracked. (We’re happy to chat about this, hit the chat button below if you want advice on your specific situation.)

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Getting account-based marketing metrics from your content

If you’re using account-based marketing, there are a lot of tools you can also use to tag your visitors in Google Analytics as being part of your target accounts, then segment to see the behavior of just those visitors.

All of these engagement metrics, and particularly metrics from specific companies, should be folded into reports that your reps can use when they’re calling in.

Conclusion

Google Analytics (and other analytics tools) give you a lot of data. But usually, you can focus on just a few numbers to build content that performs really well – use the basics, like users, sessions, and pageviews, and of course you’ll want to measure entrances, bounce rates, and retained sessions.

Finding and using customer language

June 3, 2020
📓 Article

When you’re creating content for your customers and prospects, we always recommend that you use the words your customers say. Using customer language means that:

  • You are addressing the problems they say they have (instead of the problems you think they have)
  • The language you use is the language they use, which makes it easier for search engines and social media to match your content to their questions
  • When your customers and prospects arrive on your site, you have instant credibility with them because you’re speaking their language

While customer interviews are ideal sources of this language, not every company has an ongoing interview program. But there are plenty of places you can find this language if you know where to look.

Customer review sites. Places like G2Crowd are goldmines of customer language, since they catalog thousands of reviews written by real customers. Here are a couple of good examples of useful reviews:

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We’ve underlined in red the specific language that a real customer is using to describe how they use this product (in this case, Drift.)

Live chat. Live chat can be really helpful for your entire content marketing strategy. In brief, it’s literally a source to ask visitors to your website about what they’re experiencing, and what problems they’re trying to solve. (And here’s more about how live chat can improve your overall strategy.)

Interviews. Not every company has an ongoing interview program with customers, but maybe you can start one if you don’t! Some important questions to ask:

  • What problems does our product solve for you?
  • How would you describe our product to someone else?
  • If our product disappeared tomorrow, what would you do instead?

These interviews are also great for learning about how your customers make decisions, and where they hear about solutions. “How did you hear about us?” or even “Where do you go to get information about products you’re going to use?”

Keyword suggestions. These are your favorite search engine’s suggestions for what else searchers are looking for.

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Conclusion

Finding the language that your customers use to describe you and their problems is key to successful content strategy and promotion. There are lots of sources you can use, and the highest value is talking to customers. These conversations will dramatically improve the ability of your content to speak to the people you need to speak with.