Little Data

In the Internet world, Big Data is a big buzz word. With the right tools huge volumes of data can be digested, analyzed, and summarized with amazing speed. Technology like this is what is driving technical inroads in an array of industries from understanding the human genome to making digital currency like Bitcoin to understanding shopping patterns of given demographic segments.

But what about Little Data? Your little website. It may not be as big as Facebook or have as many visitors as Amazon or Walmart but there is still an incredible amount of data that is available from your slice of the Internet. So how can you turn little data into a big benefit?

  • Email tracking
    Every mass emailer (aWeber, iContact, MailChimp, Robly , etc) has a variety of tools that can help you track the effectiveness of your email campaigns. Some of the key metrics you should look for include Total Opens, Unique Opens, Unique Clicks, Click to Open Rate, and Device type (responsive)
  • Social Media tracking
    You can track just about everything with social media. Some of the key things that will be of value to you though include: how many visitors to your website you got from social media, how many friends, followers or fans you have on your profile or your company profile, how many shares or views your posts or articles got and so much more
  • Site analytics (Google Analytics or some other analytics package)
    What started off as a way to track the number of visitors has now become a very sophisticated way to track any number of activities both on your website and prior to arriving – and even after leaving for that matter. You can learn what your visitors do, what devices they use, how fast your site is, create funnels and track actions
  • Call Tracking
    There are a variety of services that you can set up that will help you to track where your calls are coming from – from a specific landing page for a specific campaign, from a social media campaign or even from a print campaign
  • Campaign tracking (with specific landing pages or domains)
    You can create custom urls or even custom domains to run and track specific campaigns. Running an end of the year campaign to boost sales? You could have a special url (sometimes called a purl for personalized url) like http:// <your-domain>/christmas and track all the clicks to that link.

So even with Little Data (the data that you have available to you on your little slice of the internet) you can harness the power of Big Data and get a much clearer picture of what is actually happening. You can then design a specific plan to get that traffic to take the action(s) that you want them to – whether it be make a purchase, fill out a form, make a phone call, sign up for a seminar or some other factor that is part of your conversion process.

Need help figuring out how to do this for your site? Call us at 303-268-2245 ext 4.

 

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Is Page Speed Important?

Not long ago I wrote an article on Page Speed. Since then, page speed has continued to climb in importance.  How Google’s algorithm for ranking pages works is the secret sauce that makes them who they are. But we do know that pages that load fast are moving up in importance in the algorithm.

So what can be done?

There are a few things you can do that can have a dramatic impact on your web page loading time.

  • Optimize your images. Nearly every site we test has images that can be better optimized for display on the web. Remember, more and more people are using mobile devices as their sole connection to the internet. So having big images will slow them down and often not display as well as images that are optimized for mobile.
  • Tell your site to use browser caching. While there are different ways of doing this from the technical – like manually editing your .htaccess file – to much simpler – like installing  a caching plugin, this one change can score you points with page speed and ultimately provide a better user experience.
  • Make sure you are displaying the proper size of images. Together with point # 1, you can become the ace of images by making sure that you are displaying an image at 300 pixels wide by 400 pixels tall, that your image is 300 pixels X 400 pixels. If you’re loading an image that is 600 X 800 and then displaying it at 300 X 400, you can get a 50% reduction by resizing that image. This is pretty easy to do. I sometimes do this in Windows using the Paint program and it can be done in seconds, not minutes.
  • Deliver your files with compression. Windows users will be familiar with zipped files. That is pretty much the same concept here. Telling your web server to deliver files using gzip usually improves your page speed a bit.

Why do you want to have a fast site? There are two main reasons. First comes the user experience. If people visiting your site are met with spinning icons as your page slowly loads, they’ll likely feel like they’re spinning their wheels and go elsewhere.  Second is search engines. Having a fast-loading web page is one of the “search signals”. A search signal is a factor that Google or other search engine uses to determine how to rank a page for different key words.  While it is but one of many signals, since it also fits with a better user experience, we HIGHLY recommend optimizing your site for speed using one of the tools in the previous article

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What is a Near Me Search and Why Should I Care?

You have all seen it. It is an integral part of search these days. You are out and about. You decide to look for a good place for lunch. Searching for “restaurants” works but if you want to be clear with your search, you can say “restaurants near me” and up comes the list. This is “near me” search and you need this for your listing.

While this makes a lot of sense for local sensitive places like restaurants, coffee shops or (my favorite) brew pubs, it is important for businesses all across the spectrum.

A mantra we often hear in business is “Shop Local” because by supporting local businesses we support local jobs. I know several people who will not go for coffee at Starbucks and will not have lunch at whatever the convenient big chain is. Instead they go out of their way to find the local coffee shop and independently owned restaurant to do business at.

In the same way people go out of their way to select the independent hair stylist, the local plumber, the local cpa and yes a local (or at least domestic) web design firm.

Still not convinced it matters to you? Let’s dig in a bit deeper. From 2014 to 2015 the traffic from “near me” searches doubled. At the same time, Google’s organic listings are LESS likely to have the magic 10 on the first page or results, opting instead for, on average, 8.5 listings. So being ranked 9 or 10 in the “organic” listings can bump you from the first page but being near where someone searches for you can pull your site or business up.

How do you optimize your local business listing for near me searches? Here is a high level overview of what you need to do:

  • Claim your business if you haven’t already: www.google.com/business for Google or www.bingplaces.com for Bing (we recommend avoiding the Yext and YP type services that will do this for you – you’ll pay a lot for an ongoing service that usually just needs done once)
  • Make sure your address is IDENTICAL everywhere – on Google and Bing, on your web site, on any other sites or groups that might list you. This leaves no room for ambiguity as to whether it is the same business or same address. No ambiguity is a very good thing when it comes to search.
  • Complete the business profile as much as you can. Put in your hours. Put in all of the information that is asked for, including photos. Make the images be real photos of you and your office and your team.
  • Encourage happy customers to give reviews for you. If you Google your business, you should see it on the right. From there your customer can click on Write a Review and tell the world how happy they are with you.
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Running the Wrong Race

This last week I had an email conversation that went something like this:

Potential Customer: I’m interested in what you do – how much does it cost?
Me: Well, we build websites to meet our customers’ needs and business goals. What are yours?
PC: I already have a web site, how could you help me grow and become more visible?

And that was when I knew this guy was running the wrong race.  If you have a VW and you think you’re going to race it in NASCAR. . .  well you only win that race in Disney movies.  We still had a good conversation and he is considering his options but that conversation surfaces the biggest issue we see in the digital marketing arena today.

If you have built your website to display your wares like the ancient markets where, on market day people would walk by and some would stop and buy from you and you want a powerful, inbound campaign that brings people to you, you need to start with your web presence in general and your website specifically.

How do you gain a new customer now? What is the decision point when you know “I just got a new customer!” If that isn’t built into your website, how will it help you grow? Take some time to ponder this. It really is the crux of the matter and key to winning the race.

Understanding the key decision point(s) your customers face and then putting that into your site shows your customers you understand their pain. Why does every mortgage lender have a mortgage calculator on their site? That is the issue or pain their customers face – “How much will I be paying?” While that is important, everyone (all mortgage lenders) do that. So what is the decision point that comes up when your customers choose you? That is the issue to build into your website.

Once you have your site optimized to help you attract and capture new leads or more business, then you’re ready to run the race – whether it be Search Engine Optimization, Paid Advertising, Social Media Marketing, email marketing or some combination thereof.

Whatever you decide, if you think we might be able to help you, give us a call today at 303-268-2245 and ask for Brian.

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Web site – Marketing Vehicle or Sales Tool?

“Our web site is just a brochure” , “We don’t get any business from our web site – it is just there to help close the deal”, “We want our website to help generate more leads”, “Our new donation portion of the website generated a 350% return on our investment in one year”. These are just a few of the many quotes we hear from customers.  Often the focus is on web site marketing. But the first question you should ask yourself is, How does our site fit in to our business?

Notice that the question is not “How does your site fit in to your marketing plan?” For for-profit businesses the customer cycle is generally:

Attract -> Engage -> Convert -> Retain

And non-profit organizations have a similar but slightly different cycle:

Attract -> Connect -> Engage -> Inspire

In both cases the first step in the cycle is attract. And for most web design firms and web customers, that is, unfortunately, as far as the conversation goes. The web site is seen purely as a marketing vehicle to attract eyeballs. But that is missing a lot of opportunity.

A well-planned and well-designed website can and should help with every step of the customer cycle. Sure it should help attract new people. That is marketing 101 and careful planning needs to go into how your website fits into your marketing so you can get the most from it for the marketing perspective. But what is the next step?

Once you have attracted someone to your site, what do you do with them? This is one of the biggest problems with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns. You drive a lot of people to your site but have given little to no thought of what to do with them once you’re there.

This is where you want to engage them with your offerings or connect them with opportunities. But only a little at a time.  If you give people too many choices, they will likely select “None of the above” and go to a different site.

Of course, for an ecommerce site it is easy to measure conversions. The same thing applies to a non-profit with online donations. But what other opportunities might you be missing if that is all you are measuring? A newsletter sign up, for example, could be more valuable over the long term than getting that first time visitor to buy or donate.  Regular contact can turn into a bigger customer or a major donor.

Whether you acquired the customer through your website or through other means, have you considered how your website can serve to retain and even inspire? Creating an account and interacting, either with your organization or other users can be a fantastic retention tool.

When choosing a firm to assist with your web site, look beyond the glitz and fancy moving parts. Are they taking the time to understand your organization and how they can help you grow? If so, congratulations! If not, contact EduCyber at 303 268-2245 – Brian is at extension 4.

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Channeling your Efforts

How can you stand out in an increasingly cluttered advertising space like the Internet? Paid search campaigns like AdWords can generate great, qualified traffic to your website. But because it works, the competition can be fierce and expensive.

Ads on other sites might seem like a good idea but the increasing frustration of users with ads, and these users increasing sophistication with web use, is leading to an increase in the use and sophistication of ad blockers. What if your precisely targeted market is blocking the very ad you created just for them?

Newsletters can be a great way to get in front of folks. And if you have existing customers, simply by the fact of them being your customer, you can add them to your email list. But you can’t necessarily keep them! We have a newsletter that goes out just to our hosting clients. This newsletter tells them about our service and any changes / additions / or maintenance they should be aware of. But several have unsubscribed. Even when you consciously opt in to a newsletter, do you read each one thoroughly? Yet each time I send a newsletter, I get feedback from happy customers. So it is a valuable channel.

So is it a lost cause? Should you throw in the towel and accept defeat?

NO.

But as technology matures and becomes more sophisticated, you need to as well. First, remember that nothing beats old-fashioned marketing. It takes more time but that is what makes it more effective. Visit your leads. Or give them a call. Or send a note via the United States Postal Service.

But of course you can use new media and use it effectively. Now you need to consider and use the right channels for your business. A brief overview of some of the main channels available and how you might use them:

Website: This is the channel you have the most control over. Make it the centerpiece of your marketing. I might click a link from LinkedIn or Facebook that takes me to your site where I learn that you not only do what the link was about but that you also provide another service or product I need.

Facebook: We recommend this for all kinds of businesses but it is essential if you are in the B2C world. Have an active account. Provide useful information AND links back to your site with further details on the issue.

Twitter: Lots of folks tell us gruffly “We don’t tweet” or “We don’t twitter” as a matter of pride. That is not a particularly helpful approach to marketing though. Do you know if your client base is on Twitter? If they are then you ought to be. Even if they aren’t, having an active Twitter account can help in myriads of ways, foremost of which is providing additional links regarding your brand – useful for SEO purposes.

LinkedIn: If you are in the B2B world, a fully built out LI profile and regularly updating , connecting with others is critical. More and more, when I talk with people and especially when I meet with them, they check out my profile and I check out theirs prior to meeting. Finding useful connections is a great way to grow.

Instagram: If what you do is visual, you should have an Instagram account and update it. This is particularly true of B2C companies. It is just another great way to get your product in front of people. Using Instagram purposefully can be immensely beneficial.

YouTube: Whether you are in the B2B or B2C realm, a video can go a long way towards getting you more sales. If a picture is worth a 1000 words, just imagine what a video is worth. Demonstrate a technique, show how to use a product, have a customer give a video testimonial, show people interacting with you, your product, or your service.

We have, over the years, repeatedly heard “We tried <Enter your favorite channel or social media> and it didn’t work.” When I counter that with “What was your strategy?” I ALWAYS get a blank stare. The key is to use these channels with a strategy. Understand how you want each channel to interact. Done well, it will get you more customers; show a better, more unified brand to the world; and get your better search rankings.

If you need help getting your digital channels lined up, we can help. If you need help getting your whole marketing plan going, give us a call as well. We partner with some of the best firms in Colorado to get your message out there.

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Stuck in a Rut?

Stuck in a rut? Seem like 2016 just started but you can’t get moving? Make 2016 the year your website starts working for you. It should be an investment, not an expense. If your website isn’t driving sales or generating leads or sealing the deal, what is it doing? Do you even know?

Here are three steps you can take to get your site moving for you:

  • Evaluate – first take the time to understand what your site is doing for you currently. How many visitors are you getting? How many of those visitors are turning into contacts or leads or sales? What pages are getting visited? Are most of your visitors starting on the home page or is Google or some other site directing them to a page deeper within you site?
    Answering these questions will both help you understand what is happening on your site and get the juices flowing for you to begin considering what you want to have happening.
  • Plan – We ask every new client what their goals are for their website. A goal is something clear and measureable. “Be more informative” is not a goal. Neither is “Be more visual”. Both of these can be incorporated into a new site but a goal is something like “generate two solid leads a week” or “get two prospects per quarter to fill out our online intake”. Notice the time frame is clearly noted and the actions are detailed enough that they can be measured.
  • Change – Whether you are doing a complete site redesign or just making incremental changes, make the changes! You have heard that nature abhors a vacuum. The Internet abhors staleness. A fresh look or fresh content or both tells the world you are paying attention. That you know your site is your 24/7 portal to the world. Don’t let it go!

Evaluate – Plan – Change! It really is that simple.

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Begin with the End

Some of the complaints we’ve heard over the years:

  1. I tried a Facebook campaign. It didn’t work.
  2. Our website doesn’t really generate any business for us, it is just a brochure.
  3. I don’t’ know whether our website brings any business or not.
  4. My clients don’t have time to read blogs so I’m not going to blog.

And every one of these complaints were voiced during a client interview (to see if we would work together).

The problem in each case is that these potential clients started with where they were at currently instead of where they wanted to be. So though you may think it goes without saying, it doesn’t.

You should start your internet marketing with the end in mind. In every case, yes every case, people want to grow their business. But what that means for marketing and how their website fits in to the bigger marketing campaign is never the same.

Think about how you get new customers. If you are a non-profit organization, how do you get more donors? More volunteers? If you a service based organization, how do you generate more leads? At what point in the sales process do you usually close the deal? If you are a product-based organization,  the question is easier – how do you sell more stuff? But it isn’t necessarily an easier answer. Instead of asking themselves “How can we sell more iPads and iPhones” Apple asked themselves, what else can we sell to people that are already buying our stuff? And they came up with the Apple Watch.  So you really need to ask yourself the hard questions – Are we selling everything to our customers that we can? Are there other needs that we can meet? Are there other markets that we can create? Many of us didn’t know until a month or so ago that we needed a fancy watch. Now we do.

Once you have the outcome determined, building a website that works is much easier. Suddenly your “just a brochure” site becomes a lead generating machine. Your “validation of who we are” site becomes a “scheduling follow up meetings” engine that keeps your sales schedule full. Your “we don’t know if our site generates business” site becomes a “we closed a record number of deals thanks to our site” tool that sets you above your competition. Your “unplanned social media campaign” suddenly begins to send people to your site to schedule meetings or buy stuff.

Did you end up with a website that doesn’t know where it is going? Contact us today!

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Top Five Reports to View in Google Analytics

Actually just about all the reports are useful and can give you great insight into how visitors are interacting with your website. The list below is intended for beginners to help direct your attention and get into the basics.

  1. Audience Overview (default view)
    View the number of sessions and users over the last month. See pageviews, pages per session, average session duration, bounce rate and percent of sessions that are new (not repeat).  While all the info helps, the numbers of users and pageviews are great information for beginners to begin to digest how their site is being used and even more importantly, WHETHER it is being used.
  2. Audience -> Mobile -> Overview
    See the break down on how many are using desktop, how many using mobile and how many using tablet. Since Google began requiring sites to be Mobile Responsive and then to define what it means, it has become even more important to understand how folks view your site. You should definitely check your site to see how it looks on the different devices. And seeing how much actual traffic you get on each can help you determine how many resources you need to focus on each view.
  3. Audience -> Users Flow
    Shows what country visitors come from, what page they visit first and what page(s) they visit after the first page. This is critical to understanding if your visitors are making the decisions you want them to. If you have created a sales funnel and no one is getting through the funnel, monitoring the flow will help you understand where people are getting hung up and then you can begin to examine why they are getting stuck.
  4. Acquistion -> Overview
    Shows how visitors got to your site. Referral: Links from other web sites to yours. Direct: People who typed your url in the location field on the browser. Organic Search: people who searched for something related to you and came to your site. Social: people who clicked a link in social media to get to your site. There are ways to create campaigns to track even more but these four groups are a great way to get the big picture about how people are getting to your site.
  5. Acquisition -> Search Console -> Queries
    This is where the really cool stuff is. Queries shows you what queries people made at Google, how many times your site actually showed up  (Impressions) on the page and how many times someone clicked on the Google results that showed your site. It also shows your average position for those key words and the Click Through Rate or CTR. The higher the CTR, the better you are doing.
  6. BONUS: Acquisition -> Search Console -> Landing Pages
    This shows you what pages people see when they first get to your site. Search engines do NOT just link to your home page. This helps you understand what pages Google (and the folks who use Google) likes most about your site. For example, we do a lot of work with non-profit organizations. Over the last month, this page https://www.educyber.com/who-we-work-with/non-profits/ showed up 200 times in search results and got 5 clicks which means that we had a CTR of 2.50% which makes us pretty happy.

NOTES:

You can change the date range at any time but changing the information in the top right corner. You can also do comparisons of ranges, comparing one month to the previous month, for example. The default range when you login and bring up the reports is for the last month.

Bounce Rate refers to the percentage of visitors who enter your site but then leave without visiting more pages. Most folks view a high bounce rate as a bad thing but you have to make sure you are interpreting what is actually happening. For example, if your contact page has a high bounce rate, it is likely because I have visited the page and either called you or emailed you. So I don’t need to be on your site anymore. But it would be for a good reason.

SEO Landing Pages – requires Google Webmaster Tools be enabled. If you don’t have Webmaster tools setup, you ought to. It too is free and it only takes a few minutes to link them up. Then you have even more data at your disposal.

If you don’t have GA enabled or if you have it enabled but aren’t looking at it, why not? This is the kind of marketing data you should have at your disposal. Need help with it? Give us a call at 303 268-2245.

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Web Site Development: A Case Study

In 2010 EduCyber began meeting with representatives from the Lariat Loop regarding a redesign of their web site. We sat down with them for a 90 minute discussion on what their goals were and how the web site could help them meet their goals.

During the discussion, as we brainstormed ways to make the web site more “sticky” – getting people to visit for longer periods of time and, more importantly, how to make the Loop itself more sticky, we realized that a trip planner would be useful.

Background – the Lariat Loop is a 46 mile scenic byway that winds through the communities of Golden, Evergreen and Morrison. Some of the coolest sites in Colorado can be found on the loop – Lookout Mountain, Coors Brewery, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Dinosaur Ridge, Evergreen Lake House, Boettcher Mansion and Buffalo Bill’s Grave and Museum to name just a few.

Each of these attractions has their own web site and we also want to drive visitors from the Lariat Loop web site to the various attractions. The thing that sets lariatloop.org apart from the rest though is the trip planner. You can visit the site, add as many different locations as you want to your trip, change the order you’ll visit them and then get turn by turn instructions on how to get to each location.

With sophisticated mapping, the opportunity for each location to have its own page and to link back to their site, along with ways to release press releases and showcase events, lariatloop.org has literally taken off.

In the last six months the site has experienced a 94% increase in unique visitors and more than 250% increase in visits from search engines.

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