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3/12 What I can do for you as your digital marketer

Well, here we are, the last blog of digimark 3.1. This quarter went by so freaking fast, I can’t believe it’s almost spring break already. Graduation is right around the corner as well, and as I look back at my time spent at WWU I can’t help but think of all the classes I’ve taken here, and after switching majors (3 times) that’s a lot of classes. I can easily say that out of all those classes, Digital marketing provided me with the most applicable skills, ones that I will carry with me and use continuously throughout my career.

It seems to me that, up until digimark, most marketing classes didn’t actually prepare me for an actual job. They just taught me the framework that made marketing what it is, and while there was some valuable information provided by those classes, digimark was the only class that forced me to do the work of a modern marketer. I think my favorite part of this course was the certifications that took the place of tests, they provided me with easily applicable skills and knowledge of the major tools that marketers use today.

Here’s a quick rundown of just some of the things I can do for you as your digital marketer.

  • Manage multiple social media accounts and campaigns, and provide analytic insight about them via hootsuite
  • Provide valuable analytical insight via Google Analytics
  • Run A/B testing on marketing efforts such as ad campaigns, landing pages and website design.
  • Leverage content marketing to bring additional leads and customers.
  • Help you reach and connect to a wider audience through proper social media techniques.
  • Utilize email marketing to expand your reach and acquire leads
  • Help your marketing and sales teams to work better together.
  • Optimize your website to get better organic search results
  • Utilize sponsored ads to reach customers who are looking for what you offer.

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Thursday 3/5 Google Analytics Individual Qualification Practice Exam

I can’t believe how fast this quarter has gone by, it seems like just yesterday we took the Hootsuite certification. And now here we are, one week left and the Google Analytics Individual Qualification is right around the corner.

Now I will admit that I had been sort of ignoring this certification for the past few weeks, it just always seemed so far away, but now the end is nigh. The GAIQ is easily the most important certification offered by this class, and from what I’ve seen so far, it’s the most difficult of the three. There is much more to learn about Google analytics than Hootsuite or Hubspot.

So in order to be more prepared for the exam, I will take a practice GAIQ exam. This one was found by a classmate and seems to be pretty comprehensive. In order to get a rough, I mean really rough baseline, I will be taking the practice test with only having watched a few of the first lessons, and the GA platform principles. For the sake of time I will be going with my gut feeling on most questions, and try to answer questions as quick as possible. Results will follow below.

http://waytoexam.com/analytics/google-analytics-individual-qualification-exam-practice-test/

The practice exam took me about 30 minutes to complete, which isn’t truly representative of the actual exam, since I would not rush through it like I did with this practice one. I scored 58 out of 72 (~77%) but due to the nature of this practice exam and its use of partial credit, my actual score was closer to 55%. I pretty much expected to get a score close to that, because I still have much more studying to do.

This practice exam gave me a good idea of what to expect from the GAIQ, and opened my eyes to the types of questions it would feature. Almost half of the questions on this practice exam were true/false while the rest were multiple-choice questions, most of which had more than one correct response. One thing I didn’t expect to be so prevalent was the requirement to know the code snippets of GA. For example, one question gave you four options of what the correct tracking code should look like, and each one looked similar with only a few minor differences. There were two correct answers, differentiated by the placement of a number within the code.

The practice exam pretty much confirmed what I expected; I am not quite ready for the actual exam and need to study intensely. I plan on creating a study guide to use during the exam, to help for the really tough questions.

3/3 Mobile Marketing

It’s pretty obvious to me that the days of the desktop computer are limited. Sure they will still find a use in office situations, but personal computing is shifting towards a purely mobile landscape. But this shouldn’t be a surprise to you, as you can’t go anywhere these days without practically running into someone who is too busy looking at their phone to be concerned with where they are walking.

Part of mobile computing’s rising significance could be attributed to Moore’s law, with each generation of smartphones becoming more powerful and capable. Most smartphones on today’s market could outright replace the average laptop, with the only downside being the smaller screen and lack of keyboard. It’s gotten to the point now where my smartphone has more processing power than my laptop and tablet combined.

As if it wasn’t bad enough already, as smartphones’ capability increases we will see mankind further attached to their phones. But this is good news for marketers, as it will help us to further understand the mobile consumer. Since everyone is on their phone at some point, no matter where they go, marketers are able to gather data on various consumer scenarios. For example, a marketer will be able to determine which mobile advertisements perform better when people are out shopping for groceries, and then tailor future ads to these standards.

The rise of mobile computing is beneficial to non-marketers as well. Since the iOS market is so heavily controlled and regulated, it’s easy for webmasters to create mobile versions of their sites to perform well on iphones. But due to the fragmented nature of the largest mobile operating system, Google’s Android, it is more difficult to make a site that performs well across all mobile platforms. To help create a more engaging experience with their customers, most websites feature a mobile app specific to either operating system.

These apps may sometimes be stripped of features but usually they still perform better than a universal site would on a smartphone’s mobile browser. They also allow the developers to create a more visually engaging experience for the consumer because apps allow for animations, graphics and other features that would otherwise be taxing on a mobile browser.

The mobile computing market is still growing, and with the advent of smartwatches and soon, augmented reality glasses, there is no telling where mobile computing will take us in the future, and the advantages it will provide marketers.

2/26 Programmatic Ad Buying

Even after reading various articles concerning the nature of Programmatic Ad Buying, it can be somewhat difficult to pin down exactly what it is. Perhaps that is due to marketers using it as sort of an umbrella term for targeted ad buying. While the definition of Programmatic Ad buying is kind of hazy, the direction it’s headed is very clear.

The most agreed upon definition of Programmatic Ad buying pegs it as a way of using automation to bring your ad to the right audience at the right time, using behavioral and intent-based targeting, while also incorporating a real time bidding system much like Google’s Adwords.

Perhaps the biggest push towards this new system of Ad buying is due to the efficiency it would provide marketers. All Programmatic Ad Buying would be carried out by software that ensures your ad is getting to the right person, at the right time, in the right place. This new system would increase marketing productivity far past what a human marketer could achieve, while freeing up that marketer’s time for more traditional marketing efforts, more suited for a human being. In the future we could potentially see this system used to handle nearly all digital marketing efforts.

So where is Programmatic Ad buying headed? In the future, this system might track your digital activity using an automated profile creation system. Instead of cookies on each browser you use, this would essentially follow you to each device you use, meaning no matter what form of digital advertisements you are subjected to, they are relevant to your interests based on your online activity and behavior. So instead of seeing an ad during a YouTube video for some medicine you won’t need for another 40 years, you might see an ad for that car you recently showed interest in.

Programmatic Ad buying has the most potential for media rich advertisements, such as video ads during streaming media. Currently these types of ads are not tailored to the audience whatsoever, they are presented from a preset bank of ads based on whoever is paying that media source at the moment.

While it is not exactly Programmatic Ad Buying, I would like to use this blog to address an advertising patent owned by Sony.

sonyadverpatentjtjtedut-1345811442

The patent is for a new method of skipping through streaming media advertisements, such as those found on YouTube. Say you are watching a video on whatever device, and an ad for McDonald’s starts playing. Instead of the usual click here in 5 seconds to skip the ad, this patent wants you to stand up and literally shout “McDonalds!” at your screen to skip the ad. Sure you get to skip the ad fairly quickly this way, but the marketers win in the end, by getting you to verbally acknowledge the ad.

2/24 Coding

Pretty much anything in our day-to-day lives that displays information to us, is built upon countless lines of code. Whether we are shooting off an email to the boss, or checking the latest celebrity tweets when we should have been working, code is the backbone of our modern, technological world. It is this prevalence that leads me to believe that maybe this is something we should start teaching our children in school. Coding can be a valuable asset to anyone, as it provides a core understanding of just how all this information is displayed to us,

Digital marketers of any experience level would benefit greatly from even a basic understanding of common Internet coding formats. Even just basic HTML and CSS knowledge will help the marketer to see how webpages and advertisements are presented to their audience. That same knowledge can help the marketer to make their page or ad more visually appealing, increasing their effectiveness. Marketers who are code-savvy could also more easily integrate analytic tools into their websites or ads. Perhaps even A/B testing could be incorporated into a webpage using some code that delivers different versions of your page, based on developer determined factors such as geographic location or the page the visitor came from.

Codeacademy

Prior to being prompted to use Codeacademy.com for this class, I had a little bit of coding experience thanks to the days of myspace and more recently via online forums. However the code I used on forums was aided greatly by the forum software, so for the most part I am still a coding beginner. I had always been interested in learning how to code, and I have known about Codeacademy for a while, but I never took the plunge and actually started to learn. I’m glad this class forced me to actually take that first step.

I spent a couple hours on Codeacademy, dipping my toes into the world of HTML and CSS, and in that time I was able complete HTML Basics I & II, Build Your Own Webpage and Social Networking Profile. The time flew by because CA makes the courses very easy to follow and learn from, with plenty of reinforcement of what you are learning through repetition, but not so much that it became tedious. The topics, pictures and examples they use in the tutorial are also pretty entertaining which helps to keep your interest. They also allow you to write whatever you want for your code, which also helps to keep you interested because you are coding about something you care about.

Overall I greatly enjoyed the time I spent on Codeacademy, and I plan on continuing through the lessons as I was left with a longing to keep going. I’m sure coding gets much more intense the further you get into it but I’m not really worried because Codeacademy makes it so easy to learn code.

Chemical and Wetware computing

With Moore’s law still holding strong after over 30 years, computer engineers are looking for a viable alternative to traditional silicone chips. The Nautilus article listed some possible alternatives derived from nature such as chemical and wetware computing.

To me, neither seems like they are quick or efficient enough to outright replace our current computer chips, but I can see some potential uses for both in conjunction with our current chips. Chemical computing could be useful in the field of chemistry as it uses chemical reactions to carry out its processes. I could see this being used in a machine that takes in chemical samples, processes them based on several factors, and outputs several situations based on the reactions that took place.

Wetware computing could be useful in the medical field, perhaps in a machine that takes in a single blood sample and checks it for various different attributes. Allowing patients to have less blood drawn at a time, and give doctors a faster way to diagnose blood borne illnesses.

Thursday 2/19: Paid Search: a.k.a. PPC or Search Engine Marketing

Sponsored ads, you’ve seen them before, usually lingering to the side of a webpage or sometimes disguising themselves as the top hit for whatever you just searched for. Paid advertisements are usually tailored to what you are searching for at that moment or have searched for recently, and from time to time can feel like an invasion of privacy. (But then again, privacy is a loose term in this day and age)

In the past, I had often ignored these paid ads, especially if they were on a webpage other than Google search results. I simply thought that since any old ad could be placed there, why would one that is displaying what I just searched for be worth a click? After all, they were just feeding off my browser’s cookies. I often chose to ignore the paid ads that show up at the top of search results as well. Even if the ad took me to the very same place as the top result. I guess it was just my way of fighting the establishment.

Now, as I dive deeper into the world of digital marketing, I can see the error of my ways. It turns out that companies actually pay good money to put those ads out there, and by not clicking on them, I was actually robbing my fellow digital marketers from not only clicks, but valuable analytical data as well.

Paid advertisements are a great way for businesses to reach a greater number of consumers, especially if that business isn’t exactly performing well with organic searches. A business should engineer their paid ads to reflect what the majority of their customers are searching for. So that when an organic search is made using those keywords, your ad will rank highly and be one of the first things the searcher will see, even if organic searches usually exclude you.

Even though paid advertisements are a great way to increase traffic and conversions to your business, they aren’t exactly the most popular things amongst Internet searchers. In fact, according to Hubspot only about 30% of people are likely to click on paid advertisements. So it would appear to me that many people feel the same way that I used to. They likely see these ads as slightly invasive and almost to perfect to be worth a click, but perhaps if more people realize that these ads likely take them to where they want to go, we can increase just how effective they are.

Tuesday 2/17 Search Engine Optimization

Now at this point in the digital marketing journey, your website should be performing quite nicely. Your social media efforts are attracting new customers and your landing pages are converting them into leads, while your ongoing email marketing allows you to foster long lasting relationships, and convert those customers into repeat customers. But this is not enough for your now-expanding business; there are always opportunities you might not be realizing.

One area where you should be focusing a great amount of attention towards is Search Engine Optimization. Sure you may already be optimized for people who know they are looking for your business, but there is always the opportunity to inform a new audience to your product or service, especially to someone who doesn’t know they need it. SEO allows you to inform the internet audience that you provide a solution to their problem, that they might not have considered until it showed up in their search results.

One way this can be accomplished is by incorporating a few of these SEO tips:

Google:

  • Don’t create your webpages with the search engine in mind, create it for your customers so that what is presented by your webpage, is the same as what the search engine sees.
  • Make every page on your site reachable by at least one static link
  • Make sure that pages are written in a way that clearly and accurately describes your content. Ensure your title and ALT elements are descriptive and accurate in order to create an information-rich site.
  • Use keywords to make your URL’s more descriptive and human-friendly.

Bing:

  • Use a URL structure that is clean yet keyword-rich.
  • Don’t bury content within rich media such as Flash or Java
  • Produce fresh content regularly and match keywords to what people search for.
  • Don’t hide indexable text within images, such as text for an address instead of a logo.

Tuesday 2/10 Inbound Sales & Smarketing

In the past, salesmen and marketers have been separate entities. With each one standing on their own island, looking out across the water at the other one and wondering just exactly what their purpose is, what are they scheming? Sales people and marketers often use mostly negative words when describing the job of one another. Where a marketer would describe a sales person as lazy or incompetent, the salesman would describe the marketer as overly academic and even irrelevant. This type of mindset can be toxic to business in today’s highly cooperative workplace.

While marketing and sales are completely different continents in the world of business, it is important that both realize they are equally responsible for the performance of their company. This could be achieved by aligning sales and marketing so that they become the highly cooperative Pangea of “Smarketing.”

Sales and marketing should realize that ultimately they are on the same team, and in the end they are working towards the same goal of generating business for their company. Both departments should be aligned around the same or related goals, and should have transparency into each other’s goals and progress towards them. They should also allow each other access to the various buyer personas that each has developed, while at the same time providing each other with insight on them. Alignment around specific personas helps the company to solve the specific problem of that persona.

Hubspot has identified five steps for integrating Smarketing:

  1.  Speak the Same Language: In order for sales and marketing to align around the same goal, they must use a similar metric. Sales is a good metric for both departments because it can be boiled down to leads needed for marketing and sales needed for the sales department. Equally important is the alignment of the definition of a sales-ready lead; a potential customer that shows a high level of fit and interest.
  2. Set Up Closed-Loop Reporting: Proper reporting between departments can help marketers determine if the leads they gather are any good, and can also provide insight into the effect of your marketing efforts. Sales can see which leads are worth pursuing, which aren’t worth pursuing, and helps to eliminate duplicate leads.
  3. Implement a Service Level Agreement: An SLA defines what sales and marketing commits to accomplishing a common goal, in order to support each other. Agreements such as marketing delivering a minimum number of leads to sales per month, or Sales making a certain number of attempts to engage a potential customer in a set period of time.
  4. Maintain Open Communication: Holding a smarketing meeting in which both sales and marketing attend to discuss team successes, educate each other about personas and to address potential issues regarding service level agreements. Management meetings should also be held so that key managers can discuss these topics in depth and to resolve any potential issues.
  5. Rely on Data: You can create a common dashboard for both sales and marketing to use, through which they can share reports aligned with their common goal, and measure progress towards service level agreements. A common dashboard can also help to measure the volume of quality leads against the monthly goal, and to adjust accordingly. This dashboard would also help to track your various efforts and determine which are the most successful.

Thursday 2/5 Email Marketing

So at this point in the digital marketing evolution, your website should be pretty solid. It is optimized for search engines, has attention-grabbing landing pages that beg the customer for their next click, and you bring in a constant flow of customers through your expansive social media strategy. But there is always room for improvement, there are always more potential customers out there that you might not be engaging.

One way to expand your reach is to utilize proper email marketing, and that doesn’t mean simply bombarding every one of your email leads with promotions and coupons. That’s a good way to get lost in the clutter that is your client’s inbox, but you can avoid this dilemma by incorporating a few of these email marketing tips:

  • Prove your Value to the Customer: Don’t keep sending them coupons they probably won’t use. Instead send content they will want to read and share among their friends, content such as industry insight through an article or even just sending them a free e-book will show them you are thinking about more than just sales.
  • Give your Customers Options: Don’t just blanket your customers with emails about anything and everything, let them choose the topics they are interested in, and the frequency at which they receive those emails. This makes your emails seem less harassing, and lets your customers hear from you on a schedule that works for them.
  • Treat your Email Contacts as People: When people sign up for your email list, it shows that they want to hear more from you, and what you have to offer. Instead of treating them as simply a name on a list, use this opportunity to nurture a relationship with that customer. Prove to them that they matter to your business. This can be done by educating new customers about your business and focusing on repeat sales and rewards for long-time customers.

Tuesday 2/3 — Landing Pages

OK, so we’ve covered some pretty good ways to attract customers to your website through various means of inbound marketing, search engine optimization and building a strong presence on social media. Let’s say all of your time and hard work has paid off and you are now getting a considerable amount of traffic to your website, but how do you turn that traffic into revenue?

The first step in converting your website patrons from viewers to purchasers is to have an attractive landing page, one that will grab their attention and garner more interest in your business, product or cause. Your landing page is the first thing that customers will see, so you want it to make a good impression.

Here are some tips and practices that any good business should incorporate into their landing page:

  • Keep it Simple: Your landing page should be very straight forward, and reflect the overall theme or image that your brand is trying to accomplish. Too much clutter can distract customers and drive away potential sales.
  • Catch their eye: The design of your landing page should be attractive and garner interest from the customer wherever they look. Using animations to demonstrate your product or open up to more information can help the customer learn more about you or your product without leaving the page.
  • Call to Action: Have an obvious next step on your landing page, whether it be purchasing or learning more about your brand. There should be a clearly defined option, begging for that next click.
  • Product Demo: Having a video on your landing page to demonstrate your product or inform about your company is a surefire way to increase conversions. It offers the page viewer a chance to learn more about your product without any additional clicks.
  • Targeted Ads: In order to get past the usual “banner blindness” of the everyday online consumer, use targeted advertisements that will make the customer feel like they were designed specifically for them. Using geo-specific ads to present promotions to the customer can help drive sales.

These are just a few of the various tactics to employ on your landing page to help drive sales. A properly optimized landing page will do most of the sales work for you, allowing customers to develop interest in the product at their own pace