5 Facebook Marketing Mistakes

In a recent post we discussed 5 Steps to improve your Facebook presence.  In this post we will discuss 5 things to avoid.

1) Hurting the brand

Your a professional buisness and your Facebook posts should reflect that.  While you may find office snapshots fun, your potential customers see that as childish.  Only post images that

2) Promoting Personal Causes

Your customers like you because you make the best blue widgets in the world, not because of your personal preferences, particularly in politics and hot-button issues.  There is no issue with messages supporting universally accepted causes such as community blood drives or the like, but keep politics and other controversial topics for the break room (or better yet home!).

Alienating customers that you fought so hard to get can be extremely counter productive, particularly in today’s single-issue political world.

3) Too many posts

If one is good, two is better right? Maybe, but 10 is too many!  There is no optimal amount of posts per day/week/month.  What is more important is value of the posts.  A single well engaged post can trump all posts from a prior month.

Think the value proposition here.  If you post 5 posts a week, will they all have value?  What if you posted 10? 20?  Find the number that works for you and stick to it.  Nothing frustrates people more than the Facebook equivalent of SPAM.  Worse yet, Facebook now implements filtering on posts and all your posts may never be seen.  Save you time and energy and focus on quality, not quantity.

Some guidelines.  Minimum 1 post per week and at most 4 posts per day.  Certainly you have a few minutes each week for a post (schedule it!).  On the other hand it is doubtful that you have enough genuine things to say that require (on average) more than 5 posts a day.  If you have various business components overwhelming a single account, consider setting up multiple accounts and cross-promoting the important posts.

4) Typos and grammar

Occasional issues are okay, but steer clear of the:

  • Abbreviations — lol, wut (“what”), idk (“I don’t know”), etc. — You might use them for texting, but they are very unprofessional.
  • Grammar — “contrats gr8 work” — Younger generations are more tolerant of poor grammar (or is that ignorant of it?), but do your best to get it right.  That said, do not fret the occasional slip.
  • Spelling — Browsers now have in-line spell check by default, so no excuses!

5) Inactivity!

People notice gaps of posts, particularly if you posts in bursts, followed by months of downtime.  There is no perfect amount of posts per week, but you should by consistent.  If you cannot manage one post per week, delete your business’ account…really delete it. It will do more harm than good.  An account that has 6 months since the last post is like an old boarded up building, except you can demolish for free!

If you are having trouble being consistent, then schedule time into your week and use tools like HootSuite to schedule out the posts for the next week or two.

If you have not read it, check out 5 Steps to improve your Facebook presence.

Posted in Uncategorized

Facebook Marketing in 5 steps

So you want to reach more people with Facebook?  Let’s breakdown what you can do to make yourself successful.

1) Identify Goals

Most clients I see have a social presence, but it is in complete disarray.  When asked what they are doing, the typical response is “we put a few things up every week”.  The follow up question is how is it working and the response is usually: “uhhh…well….I do not really know.”

The reason for this is that each post is a last minute idea, often when you are busy with other tasks, and the rationale is that it just seemed right.  While the event may be worth posting about, it is usually done poorly and falls flat where it matters…your customers.  You need to create a value proposition where you give something to your customers (info, entertainment, a personal connection, discounts, etc.) and in return the customer gives you her attention and hopefully eventually converts into a sale.

Typical goals include (in most effective to least effective):

  • Increase brand recognition
  • Highlight a product/event
  • Create personal connections to customers
  • Drive traffic to a webpage
  • Convert a sale

These goals can be combined, but remember there must be a value proposition.   Why should a customer “like” your page?  What do THEY get out of it?  You are essentially joining the customer’s group of friends.  What are returning to them.

2) Create a plan

What we have found works well for clients is to create a realistic plan for every month and then follow through on it.  While this sounds hard at first, let’s walk though a quick example.  Let’s assume you are a locally orientated eatery trying to connect with your customers.  An outline could be:

  • Sundays: List the weekly special or interesting product
  • Wednesday: Highlight staff member (personal connection)
  • Friday: Local-relevant events during the upcoming weekend
  • Anytime: Spotlight milestones (eg. anniversary of business, employee milestones, etc.)
  • Anytime: Engaging images, thoughts or ideas

3) Prepare

With the plan in hand, prepare all that can be done ahead of time.  Use HootSuite or a similar scheduling service to prepare the months posts.  Write all the text beforehand if possible, even if you are lacking images or other necessary info prior to your post.

4) Engage

The number one source of failure on Facebook is the failure to connect at a personal level.  The value proposition is critical here. What are you providing to others?  Too many businesses have a spray and pray methodology…put it all out there and hope people will ‘like’ it.

Look at the prepared posts and ask: “Why would someone ‘like’ this?”  What am I giving to them?  Answers can fall in various categories:

  • Information: Local events, New products, etc.
  • Humor/Entertainment: Short funny stories or images are always a hit.
  • Personal Connection: People gravitate towards people, not businesses.  Highlighting employees accomplishments or customer spotlights is always a good idea.
  • Discounts/Freebies: You do not need to give away anything to have a solid following, but if you do, create a value proposition.  A Facebook connection in exchange for a discount.

If the answer is not clear, then rework it to make it attractive.

Ask for feedback.  All too often a chance for dialog is missed because a post simply does not request any.  If you are truly providing an even exchange people are happy to reply with comments.  An simple example might be: “Today is Julie’s 5 year anniversary at Blue Widgets” vs. “Today is Julie’s 5 year anniversary at Blue Widgets.  Say congratulations!”  The invitation for comments will open the floodgates, and once a few people say congratulations, the rest will follow.

Some simple rules to keep in mind when creating posts.

  • People like to talk, especially about their own opinion.
  • People like to congratulate others, even if they barely know them.
  • Most do NOT want to be the first to comment, but are happy to be #3, #4 or after.

5) Do it!

I like the mentality of “Doing it wrong quickly”.  You do not need to follow these steps in order or all at once.  Take what you can and implement it TODAY!  Procrastination and inaction is the biggest enemy here.  Learn from your mistakes.  As long as tomorrow’s post is better than today’s post, your on the right track.

In addition, you should constantly be looking to experiment with your audience.  What posts do they like, which do they ignore.  Constantly adjust your posts to incorporate new ideas.

A final caution.  Now that you are on the track to success, I will leave you with a word of caution.  Once you have created a following, it is like a living organism.  It needs to be cared for.  That means feeding it new, relevant material.  Refrain from questionable posts, particularly that will draw a negative retaliation or hurt the brand.  One bad post does not out-weight 100 good ones. Remember, there are people on the other side who have let you into their circle, respect it.

Posted in Uncategorized

Google Analytics: Admin and User Permissions Finally Here!

Long overdue, admin and user permissions changes have been implemented.  No you do not have to worry about someone deleting or hijacking your Google Analytics account.

Why the Change?

Prior to this change, there was only two options for users:

  • Admin – Full control of everything, including changing property ownership, removing users and deleting properties and profiles
  • User – Read only access.  These users could not setup goals or perform normal actions that a medium-level user would complete

This meant that most users would require Admin access, a typical account could easily have more than ten admins.  One disgruntled employee or consultant could easily delete or hold hostage all your data, and with GA there is no getting your data back once lost.

What’s New?

Now there are four user levels:

  • Manage Users: Can manage account users (add/delete users, assign permissions). Does not include Edit or Collaborate. This should be only one or two people, including a high-level internal person within company and perhaps the account manager from a consultancy.
  • Edit: Can perform administrative and report-related functions (e.g., add/edit/delete accounts, properties, views, filters, goals, etc., but not manage users), and see report data. Includes Collaborate.  This is where level where many older admins should be.  (note – accounts can still be deleted)
  • Collaborate: Can create personal assets, and share them. Can collaborate on shared assets, for example, edit a dashboard or annotation. Includes Read & Analyze.  This one where many of your users should be, they can view all data and perform minor changes.
  • Read & Analyze: Can see report and configuration data; can manipulate data within reports (e.g., filter a table, add a secondary dimension, create a segment); can create personal assets, and share them, and see shared assets. Consider this read-only.  Perfect for users where less-is-more…less buttons, less options and hopefully less confusion.

Account, Property and Profile levels

Permissions can be set at the all three levels:

  • Account – The Company Level – Allow other users to have access at the company-wide level.  Useful if you have multiple related websites.
  • Property – A single website – Allow other users to have control of all data related to a single website (single ID Number).  This is typically what you would give to a mid-level marketer or consultant.  These people would typically be responsible for advanced actions.
  • Profile – A single view of website data – This level would be given to users who need to have access to only a subset of data, for example mobile only or desktop only.  Also useful for providing simplicity to low-level users.

What to do from here?

Go though all your analytics accounts and make sure permissions are correct.  Particularly ensure that there is only one or two “Manage Users” and remaining users are properly set.

Posted in Google Analytics

Email Marketing: Remove “via” and “on behalf of”

Trust is a very important part of the web and a big trust-crusher is when you receive an email from a business, but it uses an unknown domain name or with “via” in the return address.  See the email below from WhichTestWon, a A/B testing mailing list I’m signed up for, but hesitate because there is “via aweber.com” after it. What does this mean? Is it safe to read? Will you get a virus clicking on a link?

Email from WhichTestWon showing "via aweber.com".

Email from WhichTestWon showing “via aweber.com”.

It is more of a problem than you think…

Out of curiosity I did a quick run through of the email mailing lists that I am signed up for.  The first group of five have non-branded domains in their email, definitely a no-no.  If this is you, immediately perform the fixes at the bottom of this article.

  • creativeLive: courses@creativelive.com via mail49.wdc03.rsgsv.net
  • WhichTestWon: has: justinr@whichtestwon.com via aweber.com
  • Michael Port: questions@michaelport.com via infusionmail.com
  • Syracuse Sports Association: syracusesportsleagues@leaguelab.com via syracusesportsassociation.com
  • Google Analytics Tip of the das: admin@gatipoftheday.com via mail73.atl11.rsgsv.net

While looking for the above emails I found another category that I thought I would include.  These do not have the “via” problems, but do utilize different domains in the email address from the main site.  From a technology point of view this can make sense it makes things easier for a marketing company, since it allows different servers for employee email and bulk-mail email, but usually this is not usually necessary for small to mid-sized businesses.  Examples include:

  • TheLadders – marc@technologyladder.com
    • This is a different domain name, a tactic used by email scammers.
  • UPS Communications <ups@upsemail.com>
    • The first time I received email from this address I though it was a scam.  It did not contain any personal information of mine, except my account number.  I didn’t know I had an account, so I dismissed it.  Turns out ebay signed me up for an account and this was a legitimate email.
  • Gander Mountain <ganderdirect@reply.bronto.com>
    • Breaking both rules here, this is a subdomain and a non-branded domain.

The above are some major players in email-marketing, so is anyone doing this right?  Yes.  Examples of good configurations included:

  •  Web Analytics Professionals Group Members <group-digests@linkedin.com>
  •  eBay <ebay@ebay.com>
  • West Marine <westmarine@e.westmarine.com>
    • This is a subdomain.  Fully branded, but can confuse people who are not use to emails with subdomains.  This can pass if there is a necessary reason for separating employee and bulk-mail servers.  For large corporations this makes sense, but if you have fewer than 10,000 email addresses on your list, this does not mean you.  About 50% of large corporations used this method, which is a necessary evil for them.

How to fix your issues:

There are really two issues here:

  1. Emails from non-branded URLs  (eg. mail49.wdc03.rsgsv.net)
  2. Emails from unrecognized senders (eg. the “via” or “on behalf of” issue)

Let’s discuss each in turn.

Fixing non-branded email addresses

This one is easy, stop using the non-branded domain name!  Set up another email address, as if it were another employee (for small list-sizes), and send all mail from this email address.  If you use an external email marketing provided, the should be a way to utilize your own email.  If not, find a new company.

If you are a big corporation, with a list in the 100,000s of thousands, you should probably setup another email service utilizing a sub-domain.  This will make sure your bulk-mail sending does not impact your day-to-day emails, particularly if you were to get gray- or black-listed.

Fixing the “via” problem

Let’s first understand why this happens.  An email address originates from a an email client (or bulk-mail program), is then sent to various middle-man SMTP servers before being delivered to the final destination SMTP server.  One of the ways that hackers exploit people via email is to pretend to be “admin@google.com”.  After-all there is nothing is stopping you from typing it into your email marketing client and pretending to be the Google Admin.

One way to detect if an email is valid is if it originates from a “trusted” server.  A trusted server here means a server with a known IP address or domain name.  This is done via your DNS records by adding a Sender Policy Framework (SPF) record as a text or SPF (if supported) entry.

The Bottom line…

  1. Do not use non-branded domain names
  2. Make sure your bulk-email program is trusted, otherwise your emails will display “via” and your customers will be unnecessarily skeptical of your message and links within.
Posted in General Tagged with:

Google Analytics: Profiles and Views

Confused about the terminology of profile and view within Google Analytics?  First, they are the same thing!  In June 2013, the Google Analytics team renamed profiles into views.  You should begin using “view” exclusively, though you will see “profile” everywhere and if you are like me, its hard not .  The terminology change was to better emphasize what profiles actually are, a view of the data.

Where did Profile Come from?

The title profile once made more sense that it does today.  Originally profiles were developed such that the web developer team and the advertising team can both gather insights about a website, but customizing the experience to each team.  In essence, each had their own user profile.

Fast forward a few years and this is still true, but with the advances in segmentation profiles are being used for much more.  A best-practice installation would out of the box have a unfiltered segment and three segments filtering internal traffic: a mobile segment, desktop segment and a desktop/mobile segment.  Add to that a paid advertising segment and others as applicable, you have one user accessing many profiles.  The word does not fit anymore.  Hence, the new word view.

How Does a View fit into the Google Analytics Hierarchy?

A view (formerly profile) is one of the four components of the GA Hierarchy.  There are accounts, properties, views and users.  Each master account can have multiple properties (tyipically multiple unrelated websites), and each property can have mulitple views.  Finally, users can be attached to any of the above levels (Account administrators, property administrators and view viewers).

This hierarchy leads to a great deal of flexibility and security.  For more information see the Google Analytics Hierarchy Tutorial.

Where Does the Word View Come From?

In databases, such as MySQL, tables contain all the data.  Sometimes though, you want to combine tables or filter within a table.   Enter the view.  The view is a virtual table that you can use to filter, segment, and combine various tables into a simple to use interface.  GA is uses this same approach, which is a great thing!

Have a question, go ahead and ask below.  If you are not sure about how a view differs from a property (or account), be sure to read the Google Analytics Hierarchy Tutorial.

Posted in Google Analytics

Analytics 101: Hits, Pageviews & Visits

What is a hit? How is different than a page view? What constitutes a visit? Let’s will explore the definition of these basic building blocks of web analytics, and also explore how these basic metrics misbehave, causing misleading data and reports.

Definitions

Hit – A hit is a request from a viewer for a file from the server.  For example, when a webpage loads it typically include numerous requests for files such as index.html, style.css, script.js, logo.jpg, image1.jpg, image2.jpg and image3.jpg.  Each request is a hit, for a total of 7 hits just loading your homepage!

Page view – A page view is one of the top five metrics and measures the number  of times web pages are loaded. This metric corresponds to a recording each item a customer picks up while in a department store.

Visit – A visit (or visitor) is a sequence of page views by a single customer.  This metric corresponds to a a customer walking into a department store.

How to use these metrics

Hits, page views and visits are seemingly straightforward metrics, but an analytics guru knows to take each of these metrics with a grain of salt.

First and foremost, forget about hits!  Hits are a holdover metric from the early days of the internet.  At that time, webpages were a single page, with no images, style sheets, javascript or other files.  At that time, a hit measured the number of page views.  In today’s world, if you hear someone talking about hits, RUN AWAY! (okay, they may server one purpose when defining server specifications, but if you ever need to worry about this, you will surely know it).

 Second is page views, these are a top-five metric because it tells what legitimate pages (as opposed to hits) your customers viewed.   There are many things you can do with page views:

  • Look at a total count for the past few days, weeks, months and years to see how you are trending.  This is a report (vs actionable analysis) but it puts things in perspective.
  • Segment by page and see what pages are popular and which are not.  This is still a report, but knowing what is popular and unpopular means that you can focus your efforts.
  • Segment pages by entrance source such as external search engines (Google), pay-per-click campaigns, and links from external pages.  Is the page views rather uniform across the various segments, or to search users prefer certain pages while link users prefer others? Using this, you can begin to understand your audience.  Should you be promoting certain pages?  Search engines are good ad finding deep pages, but your other users may not be able to understand your complicated layout?  Unless you can rationalize discrepancies, assume that something can be improved.

Third is visits, which is provides a glimpse into your reach. How many different people are interacting with you?  With this information, you can determine:

  • Similar to page views, create charts showing total visitor counts for the past few days, weeks, months and years.  These reports show your general trajectory.  Sadly alone, it does not provide much actionable insights, but it puts more advanced metrics in perspective.
  • Segments by source again.  Where are your users coming from?  Search engines, pay-per-click (PPC), social sites, links, direct access?  While you may have alot of users, if they are coming from PPC, then they are somewhat costly/artificial.  If they are all from search engines, great (free!), but perhaps you should expand into social.  This view of your users provides an actionable insight.  Is what is happening what you want to happen?  Percentages for each industry vary considerably, but you should never have all your incoming costomers from one stream.  Diversify.

Common misrepresentations

Hits, page views and visits are seemingly straightforward metrics, but an analytics guru knows to take each of these metrics with a grain of salt.

Hits – Hits are an great way to over estimate your true customer base.  Sine each page view can easily consist of up to 50 hits, saying your “site received 100,000 hits” sure beats “2,000 visitors” to the unknowing listener.  Don’t use them and if your someone else using the metric, stay away from them like the plague.

Page views – Two common mis-representions here are counting unqualified pages as a view (like a pop-up ad or error message).  With today complex webpages, some people confuse a pageview with an event, and there certainly is a grey area.  Another issue is improperly tracked pages (typically not on purpose), where each page registers twice, thus doubling your page view count!  All in all, this is a rather standard metric that you can use reliably.

Visits – Like page views, visits are generally well represented, with one exception.  If customers are viewing without cookies enabled (eg. using private browsing), then most common analytics tools are unable to know when a user is new vs coming from another page within the site.  This means that some visits are recorded as a series of single page visits, and not one visit of multiple page views.  Expect this probem to get worse before it gets better as privacy issues becomes more and more popular.

Summary

In all, ignore hits and focus your efforts on page views and visits.  These latter two metrics form the basis for powerful actionable insights.

Have a questions? Ask it below and I will respond.

Posted in Uncategorized

Installing Basic Google Analytics Tags

Installing Basic Google Analytics on your site takes only a few minutes. Lets take a look at what is involved.

Create an account

If you have yet to create an account, read Creating a Google Analytics Account. It is worth reiterating, if you already have a Google Account, and could become separated from your website (leave company or sell website) in the future, create a new account since you cannot transfer the account.

Create a website profile

Posted in Uncategorized

Creating a Google Analytics Account

So you have decided upon Google Analytics. Good choice! The first step is to create a Google Account. Even if you already have a Google Account, be sure to read about account caveats.

Read more ›

Posted in Analytics 101, Google Analytics, Reporting Tool

Reporting vs Actionable Analysis

Are you looking for a reporting tool or actionable user analysis?  Here we will take a look at both and see why you need both!

When most people think of website analytics, they think of the reporting side of analytics which benchmark historic and real-time trends and changes. For instance this is provided from a page view report from Google Analytics. If this is where you stop, your missing the proverbial boat! The issue with reports and simple metrics like page views is that they only tell what happened in the past, not why or how to improve it. To truly empower your website you need to analyze users with advanced techniques such as with segmented user stories, website optimization, and ROI.

The difference is simple, you can passively collect and report data, then generates simple reports of traffic, page views and sources. On the other hand, power users actively analyze behavior and revenue by tracking additional data and segmenting results, maximizing the power of analytics. Reporting and analysis have their place, and most everyone typically start with reporting and then begin to analyze as the need arises. Below we discuss the differences and how moving beyond just reports can increase you goals.

Read more ›

Posted in Actionable Analysis, Analytics 101, Reporting Tool
Gregory Moore, founder of Uptick Analytics, is a data scientist and analytics guru. With a Ph.D. in the fields of optimization and data mining, he is passionate about finding actionable insights for better performance.

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