If you’re using Mark Edmonson’s fantastic googleAnalyticsR package, you may be relying on package defaults to pull data via the GA API. With so many users now using this package, API limits are quickly being hit, because it uses a single set of oAuth Credentials for a default Google Project which Mark has provided. This means that you and other users in the R community may not be able to make calls via the API when daily limits are hit.
The good news is, there’s an easy way around this – you just need to create a project in Google Cloud console and generate an oAuth client ID and client secret. These credentials can be set in your googleAnalyticsR configuration and provide you with your very own quota of API calls.
If you’re like me, you might hesitate on doing this, unsure how easy it will be. The answer is very easy, as long as you know the steps.
Here’s a video showing how you can create a project + credentials, then pass these on to googleAnalyticsR for authentication.
“Semantic search” is a means of making machines better able to understand a searcher’s intent and match it appropriately with knowledge on the web – making search engines better at providing answers.
Understanding Semantic search means understanding that search engine ranking algorithms are now harder to “game” than ever before, because the ranking signals being used are t – and as a result, the only sensible search strategy should revolve around the production and sharing of high-quality, valuable and unique content.This content should drive user engagement, be as discoverable as possible to engines and should reflect your authority on the subject matter. As author David Amerland states:
…content production, once an SEO necessity that ticked a requirements box, suddenly became the axis around which now revolve all your marketing efforts.
Developments in semantic search are an opportunity in disguise to be truly awesome at what you do best.
Search engines are now better able to understand meaning, having improved their ability to:
Read text and extract “entities” (subjects, objects) from within that text
Understand relationships between entities
Define the nature of entities and publishers using methods such as Trust Rank, Knowledge graph and authority.
Improve indexing and retrieval capabilities to find more and more helpful answers.
Let’s take a look at the major moving parts of semantic search and what they mean for you.
Entity Extraction: use metadata
This is the ability of a search program to read running text and analyse the subjects being discussed. “Extraction” means that, whilst analysing linguistic patterns, the program has identified matches for specific subjects and objects within the text, and builds a machine-readable understanding of these entities for future reference.
Consider the following example text:
Greek voters have decisively rejected the terms of an international bailout. The final result in the referendum, published by the interior ministry, was 61.3% “No”, against 38.7% who voted “Yes”. Greece’s governing Syriza party had campaigned for a “No”, saying the bailout terms were humiliating. Their opponents warned that this could see Greece ejected from the eurozone, and a summit of eurozone heads of state has now been called for Tuesday. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said late on Sunday that Greeks had voted for a “Europe of solidarity and democracy”.
Entity extraction on this text could yield the following information:
Entities / entity type
Greece / Country
Syriza Party / Political Party
Alexis Tsipras / Person
All of which can be stored within a search index for future reference.
Why does this matter? If you’re consistent in your content terminology and references, machines are more easily able to identify common entities within your text, and accurately associate your content with specific subjects which users may search for.
For some serious bonus points, take a look at the very helpful documentation at Schema.org, and learn about how you can apply microformats to your content, making it extra-easy for search engine spiders to understand the entities featured in your content.
Knowledge Graph: give good answers
Knowledge graph is the representation which a search engine builds on any given subject (or entity). It is a high-level mapping of the various entities within a larger entity, and how they relate to one another.
The image above shows the example knowledge graph for a search on “Thomas Jefferson” in Google. On the right side of the SERP, users can see rich, related information within the search results page, all of which is available because Google has built a knowledge graph of the entity “Thomas Jefferson” – associating his date of birth, spouse, and even similar “related searches” based on previous search behaviour related to this entity.
The sum of all of these information inputs (DOB, spouse, etc) yield the knowledge graph – a single knowledge base for the given subject.
Let a user’s search query be forever in your mind when you create and publish content.
Marketers who provide rich and thorough information about a given subject will be feeding the knowledge graph for a given subject and better able to help their audience find the answers they seek. Take some time to think about the type of questions you can provide answers to for the people you want to communicate with, and have a plan to publish content which answers these questions.
To get you started, consider the following definitions, which capture the various types of queries a search user may have:
Factual: e.g. “What is the population of Japan.”
Problem solving: e.g. “How to jetwash a patio”
Lists: e.g. “Online CRM software providers”
Location Information: e.g. “Delicious curry houses in Farringdon”
Trust Rank: spark conversations
Trust Rank is Google’s means of scoring the trustworthiness of a given content publisher. Google’s search algorithms look at a myriad of factors to determine this rank, but among the more influential signals are:
The number of user comments on a publisher site
The number of replies to publisher / commenters
The number of times content from a publisher is shared
The number of links to/from other content
The average time spent on pages from users arriving via search engines
Publishers with a higher Trust Rank are more likely to appear in search results and will be better able to reach a wide audience.
To help search engines understand your trustworthiness, post content which gets people talking. Ask difficult questions, which get your audience talking, and whenever possible, share content which they can use. Be bold – put a stake in the ground for what you believe in, and generate intelligent debate among your audience.
Sparking interesting conversations online and encouraging others to comment on your content is good for your audience and good for search engines – it sends a clear message that your content is worth reading.
Authority: build your networks
One of the harder-to-decipher assessments performed by search engines, authority is essentially a function of:
The number of other sources linking to you
The availability of verifiable information about you as a person, publisher or company (e.g. your address, affiliations and other data)
The more able you are to confirm this information to search engines, the easier it is for search engines to infer your authority within a given domain.
To help demonstrate your authority, be an online networker. Form meaningful relationships with online publishers in your sphere of influence and interest, and share ideas with them. Link to content from their sites, and encourage them to link back to you. This will help justify your relevance and authority, and drive your online reputation for a given subject.
Check your technical boxes
Finally, there are some technical considerations which qualify as no-brainers, but are so often overlooked.
Short summaries: for every content page you publish, have you provided a page <title> and <h1> heading which clearly describes your content in <70 characters? (70 characters are available within Google’s results page).
Meta description: Make sure that you use a tag and set the description attribute to give a succinct, <150 character description of each piece of content which you publish. Done correctly, your meta description can entice readers to view your content by giving a clear indication on what they can expect to see on your page.
Give good images: be sure that your images used are high-quality, optimised for the web and make sure that you use the alt attribute to tell search engines what content your image contains, as well as to help any visually impaired readers who may rely on screen readers to describe the content on your site.
To succeed in the age of semantic search:
Be relevant, current and true to your brand position- publish content which will generate debate and interaction with your users, as this will increase your relevance in the eyes of google.
Use everything you know about your users to think carefully about what answers they will be seeking, then publish and share these answers.
Tick all the technical boxes: meta description, title, images and get your bonus points by reading up on schema.org.
Marketers who succeed in the ever-changing, exciting world of digital embody insatiable curiosity, a sincere interest in people and an optimistic appetite for adventure.
Curiosity keeps them in touch with the latest trends
Sincere interest in others enables genuine connections
A sense of adventure gives them the courage to explore new channels and take the necessary risks to succeed.
Here’s a look at each trait, why it matters and how it works in practice.
1. Insatiable curiosity
A hunger for learning is what keeps us competitive and in touch with a rapidly-changing environment. In a world where consumer eyes and ears are bombarded by more marketing messages than ever before, standing out means shaping and sharing a remarkable idea in the right place.
Creating something remarkable happens when an inquisitive mind can draw on an awareness of current channels and tools. When everything we know and learn whirls and collides inside our brain, new connections are made and a new idea is born. Curious marketers feed themselves on broad subjects and diverse platforms, so that their ideas combine the best of each. The more new information you feed yourself, the more likely you are to create something different.
“What if?” thinking
Curiosity isn’t just about reading widely, though. Thinking ‘What if?’ – poking the box to see what can be improved – is the other piece of the puzzle.
Digital marketers are always exploring and always spotting potential. We’re the annoying people who are never satisfied with a project, even when it has launched. We continuously check course with analytics and explore new avenues with A/B tests as we try to improve.
Pay with a tweet is a web service for anyone who wants free publicity for their product or content. In exchange for tweeting to their network about you, users get free access to your product. It’s a win-win situation, and it came from being curious about how to incentivise people to share on social networks.
Guardian Witness gives anyone, anywhere the power to tell their stories by submitting videos, pictures and text to the platform. Crowdsourcing the news is nothing new – but the Witness app team were inquisitive enough to ask “What if storytellers had a common platform, and the power to get themselves heard?”
Uber, a disruptive taxi & ridesharing application, was founded in 2009 as a result of the a question: “what if there was a better, faster way to connect passengers with drivers?”. Built on the founders’ knowledge of web applications, and harnessing their willingness to try something new, the app now boasts roughly half a million active users each month, with some placing the company’s worth at $3.5B.
Find ideas in strange places
What works in one area of your life might work in another. Move ideas and concepts from your hobbies and see if they work at the office, and vice versa. Look at your interests, and see what ideas can be transferred elsewhere.
Poke the box with data
Think up some questions, then dive into the ridiculous oversupply of data we’re surrounded by. Don’t come up for air until you have actionable answers. Amazon, with their “Culture of Metrics” do this brilliantly to drive product recommendations and encourage upsells.
Make the technology work for you
The pace of change in digital can be daunting. Platforms like IFTTT, Feedly and Google Alerts make it easy to automate tasks and aggregate information. They can help you be the first to know about new developments in your industry.
2. Sincere interest in others
Digital natives can sniff out inauthenticity in a heartbeat. By contrast, a sincere interest in others comes across loud and clear, and can endear you to your audience. In short – everything you share should be about them, not you. Every post should add something to the conversation, not seek to exploit it.
The transparent nature of digital media forces us to express ourselves and our brands in human values and to ask why we do what we do. What’s the dent we’re trying to make in the universe, for better or worse? What do we really, truly believe? What kind of people should join our cause?
Companies like Innocent Smoothies, the Walt Disney Company, Apple; all have a clearly communicated sense of who they are. These companies, who can confidently, authentically express themselves will come through loud and clear, and can be a magnet for like-minded potential customers and advocates.
The Fun Theory by Volkswagen had a clear vision – to bring more fun into the world and to make it a better place. It demonstrated this authentically with a series of experiments ( like this one to encourage people to take the stairs at a tube station) designed to make mundane tasks more fun.People engaged and shared willingly because they detected a genuine commitment from Volkswagen.
You are blind – built to raise awareness about blindness, this website not only shows sympathy with the blind due to its purpose, but instills empathy in the participant by having them experience a day in the life of a blind person.The subject matter is handled sensitively and leaves you thinking about how our environment can be improved to benefit the blind.
Knowing where to find your kindred spirits has a huge impact on your ability to talk openly.When I first started using Twitter, I’d tweet away incessantly on subjects I thought were interesting, to the entire world. The world didn’t tweet back. I lost confidence and my motivation to tweet soon disappeared.
A few months ago, I started browsing and posting on Reddit, and was amazed at how many like-minded individuals you can find if you know where to look. Reddit organises itself into subreddits – each named and built around a particular interest, so identifying users with common interests was easy. Suddenly I was reassured, felt welcomed and was able to converse with people who shared many common interests – from gaming to cooking to marketing.
Returning to Twitter, I realised hashtags served exactly the same purpose. With the SquaredOnline course, I can use a hashtag which unites me with people who have common interests, and we can all babble away merrily and share ideas.
Knowing how and where to find your kindred spirits on digital has a huge impact on your enjoyment and success. It can give you the confidence to be who you are.
3. A sense of adventure
Digital marketers need guts to get the glory. Testing, accepting failures and learning from it are daily occurrences for them. If you want to be the first person in your company to try a snapchat campaign, don’t expect your colleagues to volunteer their help. They’re more likely to stand back and spectate your rise or demise. Digital marketers are the pioneers; the spirit of adventure takes us to exciting new places where we set a stake in the ground for others to follow. Optimism and a love of adventure are what carry us through.
The strength of character to try out new ideas (planning)
The commitment and attention to detail to observe what happens (measure with analytics)
The humility to learn from the results and look honestly at how it performed (conducting analysis and starting a new test)
The good news is that with powerful analytics packages now now free and accessible, trying something and tracking results is easier than ever. The cost of entry to new channels has lowered, too. Analytics allow us to observe interactions in real time, to quickly set up split tests to optimise everything from the colour of your webpage to the position of a call-out button.
Volvo ‘the hook’
Volvo’s president showed his own sense of adventure with this real-life demonstration of the reliability of volvo parts. He staked his reputation and well-being on the quality of Volvo trucks by dangling precariously from a crane in Gothenburg harbour.
Lynx trialed a new campaign using Snapchat, sharing exclusive behind-the-scences pictures and encouraging users to submit their own. They even had a strategy for any risqué photos, responding with pictures of a cold shower and suggesting the user take a minute to clean up.
Analytics keep you grounded
Having a list of questions which relate to your objectives is the first requirement before delving into analytics. Then get analytics into your site, your app, or your service. Once analytics are in place give yourself permission to fail, provided that you learn from each failure.
Choose your own adventures
I love to disappear into the unknown on hikes, wild camps, adventure races and climbing whenever I can. Find an adventure that works for you, keep your appetite alive and remember to dare greatly whenever you can!
I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.
Curiosity, sincere interest in others and a sense of adventure are three important parts of a digital marketer’s DNA.
In a busy, disruptive environment, these traits help us navigate new territories and leap bravely into the unknown. Cultivating each trait and keeping our eyes open for new opportunities is what will keep us competitive.
As digital continues to evolve, what important traits do you think a digital marketer needs? What will keep us afloat as the pace of change increases?
In the Squared Online course which I recently took, our final assignment was to create an infographic and engage in a little future-gazing. So, for this final blog post for the course, rather than kill myself agonising over another post, I decided to kill myself creating an infographic for the digital planning process. I drew heavily on what I learnt from this course and from Dave Chaffey & Fiona Ellis-Chadwick’s excellent textbook “Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice“.
Here’s the infographic I created. Click on the image to launch a larger, legible version.
What did I miss? Where did I get it wrong. I’d love to know how this can be improved.
Understanding customer-centric thinking means appreciating the dynamic framework for need recognition & product selection and practical skills on how to make use of search.
Central to understanding consumer purchase behaviour is the buyer’s journey, including Google’s concepts of the Zero and Ultimate moments of truth. Just what is a moment of truth? Let’s delve into the origins of these fancy-sounding phrases.
First moment: Around 2005, Procter & Gamble coined the term “First moment of Truth” – the 3-7 seconds after a consumer sees a product on a shelf, during which they decide whether or not they will buy it.
Second moment: The consumer’s experience (positive or negative) in using the product after purchase.
Zero moment: Jump forward to 2012 and Google suggested a Zero moment to precede the first moment. This zero moment describes the process of problem recognition, search and discovery for a solution which the consumer undertakes. It’s important to note that the information accessed during this stage is largely in the control of the consumer – it will typically involve a combination of online searches and querying a network of friends & colleagues for ideas and suggestions.
Ultimate moment: “that moment where people who convert an experience into discoverable content” (from thought leader Brian Solis). This could be a product review, blog post, video – any shareable content which affects the perception of your product.
The upshot of this model is that consumers control the information flow – they choose when and where they learn. According to our expert video speaker Eric Shimoda, 94% of consumers research products online before purchase. If you want your product to reach the consideration set, be there to help them decide. Share or solve, don’t shill.
How can you be sure to turn up in the right places at the right time? Search is the most impactful place to start. Here’s a handy process to refer to when thinking about search campaigns:
Organise the keywords according to your customer segments & where you expect customers to be in their purchase journey, then look at the current results for each group. Suggested ‘buckets’ for organisation:
Awareness: shorter tail keywords
Consideration: longer tail keywords
Purchase: brand-related keywords <— You’d better be winning here.
Determine bid levels. Instead of spending blindly, calculate an allowable cost. Figure out how much each site visitor is worth to your business, then limit your bids to ensure you’re able to profit from new visitors. The Google Conversion Optimiser can help with these calculations.
So, if I do one thing as a result of module 3, it will be to put customers at the forefront of my thinking, to breathe their oxygen. When starting any campaign, I’ll need to be asking questions like – “What information will help my customer here?”. “If I wasn’t selling a product and a friend asked me for advice about this, what would I tell them? Which sources would I send them to?”. Building content around questions like these means adding value for customers and earning trust for the future.
1) Learn Finance 101 and the terms outlined in the slide titled “Profit The Ultimate Client Need”.
Why? Starting with these terms means that business objectives are top of your mind for the entire process which follows.
2) Meet with your Management team (or the senior most Marketing person) and identify which strategies outlined in “What Matter’s Most” the company is executing (/wants to execute).
Why? Getting buy-in from your stakeholders is critical. Select your metrics in the dark and you’ll hear the echo when it’s time to share them.
3) For each strategy identified in step 2, identify the Web Metrics / KPI’s with a clear line of sight to the 4 beloved levers.
Why? This step forces you to think carefully and make sure your metrics can tell a story which relates to genuine business problems. See the section below on BFFs for a good way to add depth to the story your data tells.
Finally, a summary of the tactial tips I took away from this module on analytics:
Fun places to get started: Run a report on the top 25 landing pages on your site (by volume of traffic) and pick the 3 with the highest bounce rate. Using a build-test-learn approach, see what you can do to improve the bounce rate.
Avinash suggests matching your critical metrics with a BFF metric, to add depth to your insight. The brilliance of this approach is that it adds valuable context and meaning to each metric you use. Here’s the list of metrics & their BFFs from the post.
CTR – Bounce rate
Visits – Visitors
Time on site – page views per visit
Conversion rate – Average Order Value
Conversion Rate – Task completion rate
Revenue – Profitability
Video views – subscribers
Mobile installs – 30 day active
Conversions – assisted conversions
You can see how each of the metrics above can combine to give meaning which is greater than the sum of the individual metrics. If I know an ad has a high CTR but the bounce rate is awful, this tells me a lot about where to focus my efforts – possibly on being more selective with my ad audience.
Perspective on your metrics
Finally, some things to think about when you’re looking at your metrics – to give you another perspective on what matters and should be measured:
How should we prioritise owned, earned, paid?
Where are we spending most of our efforts?
Behaviour: when people arrive
What do we expect?
What pages should they see?
What vids should they watch?
Should they visit repeatedly?
What actions should they take?
Outcomes: Which outcomes signify value to the bottom line?
I love seeing the results of delving into data and surfacing with unexpected insights. Next up I have a ton of reading to do, having ordered both Web Analytics 2.0 and Web Analytics, an hour a day. I have a lot to get through!
My favourite thing about digital is that it interrupts previously-established patterns and forces us to think differently. People and companies who succeed in this new market environment are doing it by embracing honesty and sharing a genuine desire to create abundance and foster connections. Here’s my take on the difference between the old ways of working and the new.
The static organisation
The static organisation is the natural result of a market environment previously based on acquiring and growing by any means, at any cost. But the tools, behaviours and organisations which worked for the past are now a liability, not an asset. Here are some characteristics of the static organisation:
Rigid and insular
Static organisations see their world through filters like “them” and “us” – the organisation, competitors and customers. This frames strategic objectives around conflict and acquisition instead of cooperation and abundance. Meaning is given or taken, not shared. The boundary of the organisation becomes a facade and a barrier to authenticity.
Intended meaning is distorted in a serial game of chinese whispers, as messages toss and tumble through complex internal routines. A complaint is sent to a sales rep by email, who tells their manager, who fills out a form to add the issue to a helpdesk, who respond with heartless boilerplate. By the time a response is made, genuine customer needs have been trampled by departmental agendas and bias, yielding unsympathetic robo-speak.
The static organisation is motivated by the operating imperatives of commerce: growth, scale and profit. Human beings aren’t inspired by growth, scale and profit – we want to unite and create experiences of delight, wonder and love. But individuals are gradually worn down by routines, our natural motivations are displaced and we forget why we got out of bed in the first place. To see this de-humanisation in action, look no further than Automatic Call Distributors (ACDs) the robotic voiceovers who duplicitously assure you that “Your call is important to us”, all the while keeping you far removed from a real person, piping Rick Astley into your desperate brain.
What has changed to unseat this static organisation? Digital technologies connect people at speeds and with a richness which was previously impossible. We can now enjoy all the benefits of scale with the intimacy of genuine communication. How does digital help?
Digital touchpoints pervade our daily lives. Smartphones are the perfect example – an always-available entry point to the world’s data and communication infrastructure. We can now share information, intent and individual location any time, and from pretty much any place.
Everest summit no 9! 1st tweet from the top of the world thanks to a weak 3G signal & the awesome Samsung Galaxy S2 handset! @samsunguk
Human beings love to congregate around bonfires – to share stories, meet with like-minded individuals and celebrate a natural inclination for company. Digital allows us to find like-minded souls and create online meeting spaces with ease – our virtual bonfires. Forums, Reddit, Hangouts, Hashtags and Groups are all examples of human beings congregating digitally.
We’re cultivating these digital meeting places every day. Developments in technology like haptic feedback, Google Glass and Oculus Rift mean our online experiences are getting richer and closer to real-life encounters with each day.
And as we seek connections with like-minded people, we generate a new critical mass of like minds with a shared purpose. This gives us unprecedented collaborative and creative capabilities through scale. Eurekas are being cried and light bulbs are going on at an incredible pace, in new ways every moment, as we share, explore and build on each others’ ideas.
The digital organisation
Organisations which recognise and understand the nature of this digital environment can harvest resources which have become naturally available.
Where the old organisation is rigid and individualistic, the digital organisation is an eco-system – fluid and agile, built on cycles and continuous evolution. Projects are cyclical, with feedback & data flowing continuously in and out. This feedback shapes and moulds the company structure, mission and interactions.
Suddenly, human voices can be heard again. Ideas and creative brilliance flood in and out of the organisation, colliding with other ideas and revealing exciting paths forward through uncharted territory.
The digital organisation exists to participate and share, not to give and take. Digital disruption brings with it the chance to work closely and create together more intimately than before.