Measuring Custom Campaigns With UTM Codes

Custom Campaigns give you the ability to add campaign parameters to the destination URLs of your blog posts, online marketing ads, social media content, etc. That way, you’re able to collect data about those campaigns and understand where the campaigns are performing the best.

Google Analytics logoWhat are Custom Campaigns?

Custom Campaigns give you the ability to add campaign parameters to the destination URLs of your blog posts, online marketing ads, social media content, etc. That way, you’re able to collect data about those campaigns and understand where the campaigns are performing the best.

In this post, I’ll walk through how to build URL parameters to measure the effectiveness of Custom Campaigns in Google Analytics.

Kia blog post main image

Best Practices for Building URLs

What are URL Parameters?

Parameters are snippets that you can add to the end of your URLs. There are five main parameters that must be paired with a value that you assign. Each parameter-value pair is what contains the information you want to track that’s related to your campaign.

The table below outlines the name and definition of each parameter you’ll find within common URL builder tools such as the Campaign URL Builder by Google.

Kia's blog post chart

How to Identify URL Parameters

For example, let’s take a recent blog post of mine, “Hacking the New Google Drive Features,” and add URL parameters to it. In order to measure the traffic to the post that comes from our branded Twitter account, we identify the following parameters:

  • utm_source: twitter
  • utm_medium: social
  • utm_campaign: branded
  • utm_term: n/a
  • utm_content: n/a

Our destination URL is now https://st-tech.blog/new-google-drive-features-2017/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=branded. You’ll notice we didn’t include utm_term or utm_content. That’s because we reserve utilizing those snippets for PPC campaigns.

Why Use URL Parameters?

These parameters will allow us to effectively measure the traffic received from the specified criteria. When a user clicks on a custom URL, the parameters are sent to Google Analytics, and the data made available in the Campaigns report under the Acquisition tab.

Kia's blog post example

This gives us tons of more freedom in terms of our analysis. We’ll be able to drill down in Google Analytics and pivot this data to tell our user’s journey to the post. This type of data is actionable and can have a significant impact on the bottom line: ROI.

When NOT to Tag URLs …

Remember, though, as tempting as it may be to try and measure everything about where your traffic comes from, remember to tag only what you need for effective analysis.

Why? Because the more parameters you add to URLs, the more complicated you can make it in the end. Google Analytics automatically tracks the majority of these parameters and spending time on tagging for the sake of tagging isn’t the point.

The goal of tagging destination URLs is to differentiate traffic with more specificity than Google Analytics already does.

Do you use Custom Campaigns in Google Analytics? How has tagging helped you measure your campaigns more effectively? If not, give the Campaign URL Builder a try and follow my tips for more detailed analysis of traffic sources to your site or blog.

Cool Tech for Content Curation, Project Management

When assessing the best tools for content curation and project management, it’s important to identify what your needs are before diving into possible solutions.

When assessing the best tools for content curation and project management, it’s important to identify what your needs are before diving into possible solutions.

Need to share reliable social media content, quickly? Try Buffer. Want to keep better tabs on your editorial and social media calendars? Experiment with Trello. Looking for a marketing automation tool to synchronize your messaging across platforms? Go for IFTTT. These tools not only enhance workflow, they help streamline team communication and collaboration.

content curation, project management

Content Curation, Social Media Scheduling Tool: Buffer

buffer-connectBuffer is useful for those with small blogs (like this) who are managing social media calendars on-the-go. One of the best features is “Content Inbox,” a source for curated content tailored to the interests of your followers. You can easily push this content to your Twitter, Google+, Facebook and Instagram accounts to keep your audiences engaged throughout the day and your messaging consistent. Visit the “Analytics” tab for more on how your posts performed and even schedule top performers to Re-Buffer at a later date.

twitter-analytics1Buffer is also useful for social media scheduling with its built-in queue. You can either set your own post schedule or let Buffer choose for you based on past user engagement data.

buffer-schedule

There’s no doubt that Buffer is essential for social media marketers, content creators and anyone else looking to take control of their many social media accounts. Give Buffer a try to keep your curated content flowing without any hiccups.

Editorial Calendar, Project Management Tool: Trello

Trello is by far the most intuitive, visual and powerful tool out there for small blog creators to keep tabs on their editorial calendar. Trello is incredibly easy to learn for any type of user (whether beginner or advanced). Create lists and then drag-and-drop cards within them to supercharge the publishing process.

Trello

Label cards, add team members and use Power-Ups to integrate with Google Drive, Twitter, Slack and more. This is incredibly important for small bloggers, as content should be strictly managed and shared with the team throughout the conceptualization process.

Trello scheduling Kia Street

We use Trello for just about everything at st-tech — including our own personal to-dos. The platform’s versatility and usability make it a must-try.

Marketing Automation Tool: IFTTT

IFTTT is a fascinating automation tool in which you can create recipes that allow communication between your devices, apps and systems via the Internet of Things (IoT). This tool is heavily used for marketing automation, as well as boosting personal productivity. The interface is simple and designing recipes is even easier now, thanks to IFTTT applets.

How to Use IFTTT

IFTTT Kia blog post tech

If This, Then That is best for those who utilize a ton of Web apps and services on a daily basis. So, how does IFTTT work? You start by selecting a recipe and turning it on. Recipes are easily programmable to fit your needs as you’re able to use “ingredients” that add custom specifications.

IFTTT Kia blog post

Crafting your own recipe is perfect for those who wish to have more targeted control over their relationship with the IoT. However, there are also tons of preset applets from IFTTT’s collections that are widely beneficial, as well.

Here are three recommendations for small bloggers using IFTTT:

  1. Use Google Calendar to keep track of your Buffer posting schedule
  2. When you create a new Trello card, add an event to Google Calendar
  3. Archive every time you’re @mentioned on Twitter to a Google spreadsheet

Whether you’re a content contributor, small blogger or community manager — these tools will help you take your content to the next level.

Which tool is your favorite? Let me know in the comments section below.

Does Your Content Work? Advanced KPIs for Google Analytics

You spend tons of time making sure every word in your blog posts is perfect, but are you measuring the performance of these posts effectively?

Google Cabinet MCheck out even more about personalization and artificial intelligence with FUSE Enterprise.

You spend tons of time making sure every word in your blog posts is perfect, but are you measuring the performance of these posts effectively?

Whether you’re a Google Analytics magician or a certified beginner, GA is integral when evaluating the performance of any website (including small blogs).

For many just starting out in Google Analytics, digging through your plethora of data to unearth actionable insights is no small feat. To save your soul (and your time!) this post will walk you through how to create my go-to advanced segment: Engagement/Post.

This GA segment is simple, quick and applicable to any type of blog or business with content-focused KPIs.

Without further ado, here’s how you can take advantage of the unique segment I created to measure user engagement on my blog.

Kia blog post GA segment

What Is Google Analytics Advanced Segmentation?

Google Analytics Advanced Segments isolate specific types of traffic within your reporting views for deeper analysis. Segments essentially allow you to view GA data that follows your specified criteria. There are five ways to customize segments; by:

  • Demographics
  • Technology
  • User Behavior
  • Date of First Visit
  • Traffic Source

In addition to this list, GA provides the ability to program your parameters with conditions and/or sequences under the “Advanced” tab within the segment editor. This gives you the added flexibility of setting multiple conditions (which we’ll explore later) for your segments.

Using Advanced and Custom Segments in Google Analytics

In any view, segments can be found at the top of the screen underneath the header that contains the report’s name, your selected date range and the options for sharing. To remove/edit/share segments, toggle its settings by clicking the arrow next to each box.

kia blog post GA view

GA offers pre-set segments, such as:

  • Converters
  • Non-converters
  • Direct Traffic
  • Mobile Traffic
  • Etc.

Take a look at these later on, if you’re interested in using Google’s system segments.

Creating the ‘Engagement/Post’ Segment

My go-to segment, Engagement/Post, is unique because it gives you a refined look at the performance of specific content rather than an overall peek at website traffic.

Kia blog post Engagement/Post segment
Here’s how I define Engagement when creating the Engagement/Post segment

Next, you’ll create a condition that excludes traffic from your categorical website pages (example: home page, about us, etc.). Because it’s super-important to analyze these separately. This is because user intent and behavior varies, depending on where they are on your site. Bundling all activity without distinguishing between the pages that matter most is a sure-fire way to fudge up a good GA analysis.

Of course, this can all be done in a variety of ways without using advanced segments (think: filters, views, content groupings, etc.). But segmentation in GA is a foolproof way of validating this type of traffic data without getting your hands too dirty.

Kia blog post Engagement segment detail
Your GA segment should look something like this now

This advanced segment will allow you to better understand which content drives the most engaged users on your site. Compare it against other segments for best results.

Explore the Solutions Gallery

Kia blog post GA gallery

The GA Solutions Gallery is for those interested in importing dashboards, custom reports and segments into their own GA accounts. Essentially, this platform serves as a forum for sharing user-generated GA solutions.

The Solutions Gallery is perfect for beginners, because there aren’t any major commitments or heavy setup involved with importing. For pros, check out the GA Solutions Gallery if you’re looking for specific, detailed segments that align with common KPIs.

Feeling lucky? Upload or create your own solution to share publicly for reuse in the gallery.

Recommended Dashboards for Content Marketers

  • The Content Analysis Dashboard provides you with insights that help evaluate the efficiency of your content. The dashboard widgets show the pages that are underperforming or overperforming so you can adjust your strategy accordingly.
  • The Engagement and Loyalty Dashboard helps you analyze traffic growth over time to improve loyalty and engagement with your content.

You can also create your own dashboard in Google Analytics under the “Customization” tab. The tab is great for everyday GA users who wish to make shortcuts, craft custom reports and receive alerts.

Marketers, what’s your opinion on my Engagement/Post segment? Did you implement it, or did you find another segment that matched your needs in the Solutions Gallery?

Learn even more about the convergence of technology and branded content at the FUSE Enterprise summit. Artificial intelligence and personalization will be featured among many other techniques and technologies.

How Google’s Paid Search Layout Affects Organic Search Results

Changes to Google’s paid search results are making it harder for SEO experts to get traffic to their websites the old-fashioned way. As always, though, online marketers are finding ways to adapt — but with less real estate available, it isn’t easy. The big change came earlier this year, when Google stopped showing paid search results on the right side of its search engine result pages (SERPs).

search-engine-76519_640 googleChanges to Google’s paid search results are making it harder for SEO experts to get traffic to their websites the old-fashioned way. But as always, online marketers are finding ways to adapt — but with less real estate available, it isn’t easy.

The big change came earlier this year when Google stopped showing paid search results on the right side of its search engine result pages (SERPs). Google made the change to streamline the user experiences for mobile and desktop, following the announcement that mobile searches now outnumber desktop searches worldwide. But all changes have consequences. To make up for losing side-rail ad placements, Google added extra ad space to the top of some SERPs. Organic search results had already been forced down the page by videos, images, news listings and the Knowledge Graph. The additional ad listing is enough to force organic results completely below the fold, requiring users to scroll down to find them.

Obviously, the change is a huge win for marketers who invest heavily in AdWords. The prices for those top-ranked positions have increased, but suddenly you can buy your way to what used to be the top organic search result.

What does this mean for marketers who focus on organic results? The short answer is “it depends.” The full answer is a bit more complicated, and it starts with understanding Google’s goal of delivering the best possible experiences for people that use its search engine.

Imagine that it’s the dead of winter and your furnace stops working. If you don’t know much about furnaces, you might immediately grab your smartphone and search Google for “furnace repair” or “emergency furnace repair.” Try this now, and you’ll likely see four above-the-fold ad placements above a map with nearby companies beneath it. You’ve got to scroll pretty far down to find your first organic listing.

On the other hand, folks who are handy around the house might do their own troubleshooting before finding a repairman. They might end up making search queries such as “Bryant furnace blower won’t turn on.” They’re not actively seeking help; rather, they’re looking for answers for a DIY fix. Try that search query, and you’ll probably see a full page of organic search results without a single ad in sight.

Starting to see the big picture?

Organic SEO definitely took a hit when Google reshaped its ad layout, but only for buyer-oriented search queries. By showing more ads with these queries, Google realized it could increase its profits while still providing a high-quality user experience. Meanwhile, Google users in search of product details, research materials or other types of information are more likely to value organic results.

This leaves online marketers with several approaches to the change, and we’ll consider each one below.

Solution No. 1: Invest in AdWords

If you’re not already using Google AdWords, now is a great time to get started. Getting a top placement in the paid results can be much easier than organic SEO. In fact, savvy advertisers with compelling ads, strong landing pages and high bids can instantly get top-ranking placements.

Of course, paid search results have an obvious downside: They cost money. The days of converting tons of free traffic directly into sales are long gone. That said, don’t be intimidated by the thought of paying for traffic. With help from Google Analytics and tools offered within AdWords, it’s easy to monitor your advertising accounts and determine which campaigns are boosting your bottom line.

Get Off the Content Hamster Wheel

Content is king, to be sure. But how did we end up on this crazy treadwheel, cranking out B-to-B content for content’s sake? Daily blog posts. Three tweets a day. Monthly whitepapers. Infinite infographics. We’re sacrificing quality for quantity. We’re becoming irrelevant. We’re knee deep in Content Spam. This has got to stop.

Hamsters in a Wheel
Are you spinning the content, or is the content spinning you?

Content is king, to be sure. But how did we end up on this crazy content hamster wheel, cranking out B-to-B content for content’s sake? Daily blog posts. Three tweets a day. Monthly whitepapers. Infinite infographics. Videos everywhere. Podcasts, e-books. We’re sacrificing quality for quantity. We’re becoming irrelevant. We’re knee deep in Content Spam. This has got to stop.

Check out these stats from IDG. They brilliantly ran a study of IT buyers in the US and UK that directly connects irrelevant content with sales results. Of US tech buyers, 66 percent said that digital content needs to be “more aligned with organizational objectives and relevant to the decision-making process.” It could be that IT buyers are more demanding than those in other job functions — but I doubt it.

Wait, it gets worse: 79 percent of the buyers told IDG that the level of content relevance affects the vendor’s “likelihood to make the short list.” Now, that hurts. But here’s the zinger: A vendor is 25 percent more likely to be actually dropped from the shortlist if its content does not meet a minimum level of relevance. Uh-oh. This is the opposite of customer relationship management.

In the SEO world, the notion of “content spam” has been around for a couple of years. Search professionals decry the practice of loading up websites with keyword-stuffed crap designed to fool search engines into thinking they are informative and popular. But what I am talking about is customers and prospects, not search engines. We are loading up our customers with crap.

To keep your content relevant, here are five principles to live by:

  • Tailor your content to the market need, by analyzing your customer’s buying process and buying roles, and developing a library of content assets to help them solve their problems.
  • Be disciplined about new content quantity. Do you need this item? Will it fill a gaping hole in your asset library? Stand up against the pressure to generate content for content’s sake.
  • To feed the SEO beast, repurpose existing content instead of relentlessly creating new. There are zillions of options for clever reuse. Good quality content is likely to have an evergreen capability to serve incoming prospects over time.
  • Cull your content regularly. It’s hard, I know. We all fall in love with our creations. It might be a good idea to bring in a third party to assess your library, and give an objective opinion on what can stay and what needs to go.
  • Choose your content distribution channels carefully. Joe Pulizzi — who should know — makes a compelling case for limiting yourself to a few key communications vehicles, and doing them really well.

Let’s go for relevant, top quality content. Less is more.

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.