Political Marketing That’s Fooling Some of the People, Some (or All) of the Time

Increasingly unable to escape the deluge of hysterical ill-directed political marketing that is overflowing my inbox, I’ve jealously started wondering what Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are guiding these communications consultants to justify their million-dollar fees.

Increasingly unable to escape the deluge of hysterical ill-directed political marketing that is overflowing my inbox, I’ve jealously started wondering what Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are guiding these communications consultants to justify their million-dollar fees.

Are their efforts fooling all of the people all of the time? Or just some of the people some of the time?

In product marketing initiatives, there can be lots of bottom-line winners — all of the brands whose clickthrough numbers exceed the company’s KPI targets and show the kinds of bottom-line sales results that bring smiles to shareholders’ faces and money to their pockets. But political marketing is a zero-sum game.

The ultimate KPI is winning or losing, becoming Senator, Governor or even White House occupant. Along the way, political marketers, like all fundraisers, especially those seeking campaign funding contributions, are no doubt watching to see all the obvious KPI metrics. They’re looking for percentages contributing, range of contribution amounts and average contributions, first-time or multiple “givers.” One can’t help but wonder: In the last analysis, do they really want to see more than the KPI which says “WIN” or “LOSE”?

I don’t know about you (and given our growing desires for privacy, I’m not sure I have any right to know about you) but I’ll bet my inbox gets more political fundraising and petition-gathering mail than yours does. Every day, mine displays a stunning collection that sorely tempts me to invoke the Spam solution.

But I hesitate, because I guess I’m a political junkie. Otherwise, I’d figure out a way never to hear any word that rhymes with “rump” again. (All readers’ entries will be gratefully considered, published and/or deleted.) You can’t fool all of the people all of the time.

Way back in early 2017, I wrote a column here venting my frustration with the tsunami of inviting, pleading, and threatening emails I was receiving daily from the Democratic party’s octopus of units, the DCCC, the Democratic National Committee, Maggie for NH, National Democratic Training Committee (the worst and most outrageous), Progressive Turnout Project and the imperious commands from House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi: “Not Asking for Money“ (which always end up asking for money) and the order, “READ NOW” “(don’t delete)”.  Here are some others:

  • URGENT — 20K SIGNATURES NEEDED: Women’s reproductive rights on the line
  • Add your name to hold Big Pharma accountable
  • Fwd: ? NOT asking for money
  • Sign this petition re: Trump’s golf course
  • Need Peter’s signature to STOP TRUMP
  • You have been selected to represent voters in your area

It appears that fooling the prospect into believing he/she is one of a very select group and asking for the target to complete a survey or a petition is this year’s most effective political marketing and, dare I say it, fundraising tool. I guess we all want to feel special; even if deep-down, we know that everyone has been “selected.”

Can I be the only person offended when assaulted by a subject line: “Peter is committed to vote for Donald Trump!?” Only after having voiced a few favorite expletives do I notice that “?”. But by then, I’m hooked on the rest of the message.

If the KPIs must first, be the number of surveys or petitions completed and the number abandoned and second, the contribution generation from the pitch at the end of the survey, I must be screwing up the political marketers’ dashboards. Given the number of headline changes, you’d think that either nothing works or everything does.

Can the almost daily surveys do anything more than fool a certain number of people into believing their voices reach the ears of anyone? Especially anyone who really cares what they think, more than whether they will pony up some money?

The hardly impartial rhetorical questions: “Donald Trump recently lied by claiming millions of voters cast their ballots illegally this year. Do you think he will use this lie to try to further suppress minority voters in future elections?” are always quite reasonably followed by, “Will you make a $3 contribution right now to help us advance our data-driven strategies to help Democrats win?”

What Data-Driven Marketing 101 teaches must be true, or they wouldn’t keep using the technique. And as pointed out recently in Forbes:

The amount of money invested will be in the billions of dollars — all spent within roughly a calendar year. The degree of sophistication, customization, micro-targeting, and proliferation across media channels is unprecedented. The goal is to create a lot of content that is both pushed to people — who then share it with others — and made available so that people find it on their own. What this means is that the authority of TV ads has diminished. At POOLHOUSE [an agency serving the Republican Party] we have to approach getting a candidate’s message out to voters in a much more complex manner, and that makes political marketing more challenging. But more interesting, as well.

The old way of marketing political candidates no longer works, as the exponential increase in information leads to higher consumer/voter intelligence.

How to develop KPIs to follow the complexity and drive strategic changes depends to a great extent on political judgement calls as much as traditional brand marketing experience, and may actually justify those sky-high consultant fees.

Perhaps I’m being overly cynical and should signal that at least some surveys have a grander purpose. Sky Croeser, writing in The Conversation opined:

Online petitions are often seen as a form of “slacktivism” — small acts that don’t require much commitment and are more about helping us feel good than effective activism. But the impacts of online petitions can stretch beyond immediate results.

Whether they work to create legislative change, or just raise awareness of an issue, there’s some merit to signing them. Even if nothing happens immediately, petitions are one of many ways we can help build long-term change.

The possibility of building “long-term” change is not without its merits; although, building the KPIs to measure the change is a daunting task.

Now imagine if that change means that political and general marketers could no longer fool all or even some of the people, all or even some of the time. But hold on a sec. Then we need to consider how many of us might have to change our ways or be out of the game.

Why KPIs Lack Insight and What Marketers Can Do About It

I have a love-hate relationship with KPIs. When done right, they are mission-critical to defining success and can focus the organization on the right priorities. When chosen poorly, KPIs can be disconnected with ground realities and be a constant source of frustration for team members trying to impact them.

I have a love-hate relationship with KPIs (key performance indicators). When done right, they are mission-critical to defining success and can focus the organization on the right priorities. When chosen poorly, KPIs can be disconnected with ground realities and be a constant source of frustration for team members trying to impact them.

However, poorly designed KPIs are not my primary gripe, at least not in this post. My main concern is that even well-designed KPIs are simply not deeply insightful, but they are often used as if they are.

Well-designed KPIs are full of contradictions. On the one hand, they are expected to be simple, easy to communicate, and intuitive. On the other hand, they’re expected to provide actionable information and be a reliable measure of important success criteria.

Anyone who has worked on developing KPIs knows that it is a game of balance and compromise, based on business objectives. The need for actionable information battles with the desire for simple metrics. The desire for intuitive metrics battles metrics that push status quo thinking or properly reflect the diversity of business interactions.

After many years working with and helping clients identify KPIs, I have found ways to manage their dichotomous nature, but never overcome it. If there is a brilliant mind out there who has solved for this, I would love to hear about it. For now, I will assume that this dichotomous struggle is a law of nature.

This leads me back to my main point. Marketers need to stop viewing KPIs as major source of insights. They are, as the name illustrates, only “indicators.” While this seems like an obvious statement, it is surprising how often KPIs have become the primary source of insights for most companies.

Take digital analytics, for example. Most companies using the web analytics platform use default metrics, such as clickthrough and page views, as their primary measures to understand web activity. While these metrics may indicate increased interest in content, they rarely tell you how satisfied the visitor was with the content or how valuable it was in decision-making. It is rare for companies to set up custom metrics and reporting, which might provide better insights. It is even rarer for companies to download raw web data into a data management tool and truly analyze visitor interaction with content, even though these solutions exist. Instead, most companies use the default web KPIs to derive custom insights into behavior on their website.

Another example can be found about how companies use social channel data. There are some great social analytics tools out there. When I come across most implementations, however, they are mostly set to track high-level sentiment analysis and rarely deliver deep insights. However, the underlying data is often volumes of highly informative, unprompted, free-form feedback. It has the added benefit of being free of interviewer bias or agenda-setting.

Recently, I was working on a project for a client that viewed their products as very innovative. Yet, when mining nearly 1,000 instances of social data, we found only one unprompted mention of innovation. Upon further investigation, we found that innovation was meaningless to the consumer. Instead, it was performance, excitement, and fun that consumers talked about most often. The customer was conveying what innovation really meant to them, while the company was still thinking in terms of engineering sophistication. This insight was un-minable from the standard social KPIs. Even traditional survey-based market research may not have captured this insight, as it would have relied on coming up with the right questions to uncover this disconnect between the company and its customers.

These examples demonstrate the need to dig deeper for better insights and I risk the label of “Captain Obvious” by making this assertion.

So, let me add to this. Well-designed KPIs, because of their simplicity and action orientation, often lull us into overestimating their insightfulness. This link is unconscious and habitual.

When I have asked marketers “What is your (Social, Web or Customer) data telling you?” A common response is, the (relevant) tracker is telling us [fill in the blank].

In reality, the answer to the question is rarely found in the tracker or KPIs. Even if they can point to a KPI that is helpful, the underlying explanation is still often conjecture or a hypothesis. In fact, the better aligned the KPI story is with commonly accepted wisdom, the more likely it is to be seen as data-driven thinking.

In other words, we find an interesting KPI trend and create a believable story around this trend and that becomes data-driven thinking when it is still just conjecture. It takes great discipline to put on the brakes and look for deeper and corroborating evidence and that is what KPIs really calls for.

I want to make clear that this post is not advocating for the elimination of KPIs. They are very helpful tools for aligning the organization and most of us understand that they are only indicators. When done well, however, they are insidiously brilliant at creating the illusion of deep insight; especially if the resulting story is a good one. Truly data-driven marketers should be aware of this and be ready to dig deeper before letting a KPI drive strategic decisions.

Important Key Performance Indicators for SEO

Tracking success in SEO depends on certain performance indicators. If you’re not sure what you should be tracking to ensure your marketing efforts are taking you in the right direction, review these KPIs and start tracking them this month.

Success online depends on how well you are optimizing your website and marketing your brand off-site. Times have changed, so have key performance indicators for SEO, and it’s no longer easy to rank a website for whatever keywords you believe people are searching for on Google. A lot goes into the process, and because there is an extensive process, you need to find a way to track the results of it to see if what you’re doing is successful. Here are the new, important KPIs.

How to Track SEO Success

Tracking success in SEO depends on certain performance indicators. If you’re not sure what you should be tracking to ensure your marketing efforts are taking you in the right direction, review these KPIs and start tracking them this month.

KPI 1: Traffic

The first KPI to monitor your SEO is website traffic from organic search. To track this KPI, use Google Analytics. Analytics is free and easy to install on nearly every website platform. Once installed, go to the “Channels” report within the “Acquisition” section. By default, the Channels report will show you how much traffic is coming from organic search (AKA, your SEO traffic).

KPI 2: Leads

The next KPI you should track is leads from organic search. Conversions are obviously your goal, so knowing how many leads you’re generating is critical for monitoring your SEO performance.

To measure leads, you’ll need to set up “Google Analytics Goals.” A Goal can be a website form submission (ex: a quote request, a demo request, appointment request, etc.) or a phone call. Tracking phone calls within Analytics requires a phone call tracking tool, like Dialogtech or Convirza.

KPI 3: Rankings

The third KPI is your keyword rankings. Contrary to popular belief, ranking your website high in the search engines is not the No. 1 goal of search engine optimization. The No. 1 goal is to drive more leads and sales, which is why traffic and leads are the first two KPIs listed above.

Of course, keyword rankings are important, and you want to monitor trends to spot opportunities to drive more traffic and leads or to spot potential problems that could decrease your traffic and leads.

To track your keyword rankings, use a paid tool, such as RankRanger and/or a free tool like Google Analytics. By default Google Analytics, does not show keyword rankings until you connect your account to “Search Console.”

KPI 4: Website Bounce Rate

Website bounce rate is the percentage of people who visit the site and then leave without visiting another page. A high bounce rate indicates that visitors couldn’t find what they were looking for when they clicked through to your site. A low bounce rate means that visitors found something on the page they were interested in, and then navigated to other pages of the site.

Bounce rate has a lot to do with conversions. Many times, a page with a low bounce rate has a high percentage of conversions. In other words, people who visit the page are interested in the content and because of that, they act on it. When the bounce rate is high, conversions are lower, because the people going to it are not interested in the content.

Paying attention to bounce rate helps you know how well you’re targeting the right audience. If you see that a particular page has a high bounce rate from Google Search, then your message is not matching the market. Adjusting that content to better match the intent of the searcher will not only reduce the bounce rate; but in turn, you’ll improve the rankings and leads!

Stop Stabbing in the Dark and Track KPIs for Success

If you don’t track your KPIs, you’re simply stabbing in the dark when trying to be successful with your SEO. Start tracking your SEO traffic, leads, rankings, and bounce rate, and then adjust your marketing plan based on the results. When you do this, you’ll likely end up seeing much more success.

Want more tips on improving your SEO? Grab a copy of our “Ultimate SEO Checklist.” (Link requires email registration.)

Analyzing the Marketing Value of Onsite Resources

As a business, your primary marketing priority is, of course, your products. Those sales keep you afloat and fulfill key user needs. As you establish a core customer base, however, how do you keep them coming back? This is where your onsite resources come into the picture.

As a business, your primary marketing priority is, of course, your products. Those sales keep you afloat and fulfill key user needs. As you establish a core customer base, however, how do you keep them coming back? Businesses need to offer something new or supplementary to build customer loyalty, sustain site traffic and further develop your reputation as a high-value brand. And this is where your onsite resources come into the picture.

Your onsite resources are a valuable tool for keeping the line of communication open with clients and maintaining your reputation during lulls in the formal business process. If you’re going to make the most of these tools, however, you can’t just create them and hope for the best. No, you need to set goals and measure the performance of those supplementary materials if they’re going to benefit your entire operation.

These three KPIs pair with different design styles and can help you assess how well your add-ons are performing.

Time on Page

Time on page is a common KPI, described by the marketers at Vertical Measures as a key way of measuring user engagement. Historically, sites have used this measure to determine if their blog content was interesting, if people were reading sales offers, or even to measure the value of news-style content. Similar principles apply when using time on page to measure the effectiveness of supplemental resources.

At IncFile, a company whose primary business is helping small businesses incorporate, supplemental material both attracts new customers and assists current ones — and time on page is a vital measure in both cases. For example, their page on forming an LLC in Florida provides a step-by-step breakdown explaining the process, followed by an array of links to added resources. IncFile, then, has the ability to measure both time on page for the initial post and clickthrough and bounce rates for the resources that follow — and that information can be used to measure conversion rates.

Counting on Downloads

For many companies, supplementary resources are designed to go beyond the page and into the real world — users are encouraged to download them. Downloadable resources are a powerful format for customers because it’s very easy to measure how many users select the file. And unlike some measures — including time on page, which may count false-positives because a user left the page open on their computer, for example — downloads are targets of intention. In both cases, though, the user activity is a measure of overall engagement.

Scholastic, the publisher of such well-known books as “Clifford the Big Red Dog” and “The Magic School Bus,” is recognized for their educational resources, but at first glance, their Teacher’s Tool Kit page appears to consist largely of blog posts.

Look further, though, and you’ll find countless downloadable lesson plans. These individual files allow Scholastic to measure the efficacy of individual lessons, teaching styles, and topics, as well as what age group’s lessons are downloaded most frequently. That’s a lot of data packed into each interaction.

Measure by Media Type

Though the majority of content marketing focuses on written materials, modern outreach demands a multimedia approach. Videos, infographics, and other visually enticing content hold user attention longer and can convey a greater amount of information with fewer words. They can be harder to measure, however.

When it comes to developing KPIs for non-standard content types, you may need to combine several different data points. For example, you might try launching video via both website and social media platforms and comparing engagement rates. Social media analytics can provide greater real-time feedback and direct user commentary than onsite variants of the same material. With video, you should also measure the length of video watched and determine when viewers tend to bounce out so that you can maximize content within the limited view time.

Don’t undercut your supplementary resources by ignoring the resultant data — you invested time and money into creating those tools for your customers. Now, take the time to apply the same key metric you would use to measure activity on the rest of your site to assess this content and then use it to enhance your monetized offerings. There’s a lot you can learn from those add-ons if you take the time to read more deeply.

Is Data-Driven Decision-Making (3D) at the Heart of Your Marketing Organization?

This dissonance between the realities of reporting and the expectation of P&L accountability led my colleague Justin Yopp and I to develop a straightforward process to transform the marketing department at The Pedowitz Group into a data-driven, decision-making organization.

In last month’s blog post we discussed the first of the five core marketing processes essential to effective and efficient marketing operations — the lead management process. This was a great lead-in (no pun intended) for this month’s post on the reporting and analytics processes. Most firms, when they first dip their toes into the results reporting waters, look to report on their funnel results which depend entirely on having a functioning lead management process.

But, before we start, let’s agree on two definitions.

  • Activities Reports: opens, clicks, visits, CTRs, visitors, duration, bounce, deliverability, etc.
  • Results Reports: New leads, MQLs, SQLs, opportunities, renewals, new customers, bookings, Revenue, CLV

We are here to discuss the processes around producing regular, accurate, useful results reports that enable an organization to make better marketing decisions and evolve into a data-driven decision making organization.

As a CMO, I don’t have much time for activities reports; I need to understand how my department is impacting revenue on a regular basis.

Our learned colleagues at Gartner tell us that 76 percent of marketing organizations are accountable, or share accountability, for a P&L. But Aberdeen tells us that in reality only 19 percent of marketers have comprehensive tracking and reporting practices in place. Wow! There can only be one outcome if this significant gap between expectation of accountability and reality of reporting is not quickly eliminated — CEOs will be calling in United Airlines to accommodate marketing executives.

6 Steps to Build a Results Reporting Function in Marketing Operations

This dissonance between the realities of reporting and the expectation of P&L accountability led my colleague Justin Yopp and I to develop a straightforward process to transform the marketing department at The Pedowitz Group into a data-driven, decision-making organization.

Justin shared that “far too often, we see firms rush out and buy the latest in reporting software as if it were a panacea for all their reporting ailments.” We also see CMOs pursuing vanity metrics – metrics that “prove” the value of marketing instead of empowering better decisions for better performance. If you take nothing else away from this blog, please avoid being fascinated by the latest shiny software object, and do not focus on producing vanity metrics first.

Here is the process we developed for creating a results reporting function.

Recognizing the need for data-driven decision making.
Recognizing the need for data-driven decision making.

Step 1. Decide what you want to measure.

This is not as straight forward as you might imagine. You need to engage with the marketing team, determine their key performance indicators (KPIs), and find out what decisions they want to inform with these metrics. Are they trying to become more efficient, more effective, and redirect resources and budget? Are you going to measure marketing influence, and is there an attribution model for that?

Now prioritize these metrics and KPIs based on impact to the business. Notice we did NOT discuss how to measure them; where to measure them; and broader data, process and system requirements. That comes later!

Step 2. Determine what reports you will need to measure the KPIs and metrics you selected.

With the metrics and KPI requirements in hand, determine what set of reports are required to effectively provide that data. What are the parameters and dimensions that define these reports? In what systems will the reports be generated?

Step 3: Identify the data, processes, and systems that you need to create the reports.

Are the fields present and collecting data currently in the systems you wish to run the reports in? Are new integrations or file transfers required? Do your teams currently update the data in a reliable way? What data import processes need to be redesigned to support these reports? Will your existing technology stack support the reporting you need for effective decision-making? Will you use Excel, a marketing automation platform, a CRM, or some combination of all of these to produce the reports?

Step 4: Commission someone to build the reports.

Don’t send the initial reports to a wide audience because it is highly likely you will uncover unknown data issues and process issues. Also, there is a risk that the reports won’t conform to a widely held view of how things are, and you need to be pretty sure the data and the reports are spot on before you start that battle. You don’t want to lose reporting credibility just as you are getting started.

Step 5: Determine how to interpret the reports to generate meaningful insights.

Reports alone will not provide the answers and insights necessary to make better decisions. You need these reports visualized and contextualized to facilitate analysis. What dimensions should be used to slice the data into something meaningful? What time series should be used to present the data to unveil trends — week over week, month over month, quarter over quarter? Which metrics and KPIs should be presented together? In this step you’re doing the critical work of making your data consumable.

Step 6: Drive the change to becoming a data-driven decision making organization.

Start the cadence of daily, weekly and monthly reporting. Push your teams to provide data evidence to support their claims and decisions. Model this same behavior yourself. Also, be prepared to adapt the reports to what the teams really wanted in order to make decisions (there’s nothing like seeing the report you asked for to help you really understand what you wanted). This regular distribution and consumption of the reports is critical to truly embedding data-driven-decision making into your marketing organization.

Executive Leadership and Support for the Change

Getting teams to the point of analyzing the data and making data-based decisions on a daily basis will not happen just organically. Leadership has to lead in this practice and drive it down into the organization. Provide the training and resources necessary to bring the team up to speed. And allow time for the organization to acclimate to these new expectations.

It is a satisfying experience to attend a marketing status meeting and hear the broader team excitedly talking about changing their immediate plans based on last week’s or last month’s significant shift in a trendline.

Components of Your Results Reporting Process

  • Metrics/KPI requirements — What decisions do they want to make based on the data?
    • What is the right frequency for updating those decisions?
    • What is the context for the data to support a good decision (comparison data?)
  • Data Sources: what data is needed to support those decisions and metrics?
  • Reporting technology: Where are the reports run? Do these systems support the output desired, subscription and distribution, have access to all the data required? Does your data architecture support running the reports you want in specific systems or was reporting a forgotten afterthought?
  • Roles: Who owns, maintains and modifies the reports? Don’t assume that the report author is the same person who is familiar with the data — the data czar. Also the person who interprets the report might be yet a third person — a marketing business analyst. All 3 roles may need to be in the room when an important data-driven decision is being made.
  • Standards: If your report creation is centralized it may not be as big an issue, but if you are global, and want to be able to roll up marketing reports from each of the regions, you have to drive standards for data collection, report building, naming, and presentation. The same business rules (think filters on the data) need to be applied and visible on the printed reports so people know they are comparing apples to apples.
  • Media: What media will you use for delivering which reports? Are they online, emailed, PDF, Excel, Business Intelligence (BI) system, or MAP/CRM?
  • Distribution: How can individuals subscribe and unsubscribe. How can you secure confidential reports? Restrict access and printing?
  • Archival: Many firms don’t have a BI system and as a result some reports, which are snapshots of the results at an instant in time, are the only record of the data at that instant. Ie the same report cannot be re-run a month later, showing the exact results at that prior time for comparison to the current run. As a result there may be a need to archive all “runs” of a report, for comparison purposes in the future. How is this done without a BI? Build your own SQL database or use Excel? Obviously this can be laborious so it deserves attention and planning to keep it manageable.

Guiding Principles for Data-Driven Decision (3D) making

Data-driven decision making requires a set of guiding principles to be effective.

  • The driving purpose of reporting is to enable data-driven-decisions.
  • Do not succumb to ego/vanity reporting.
  • Create reports that empower better decisions at the lowest levels – democratize decision making.
  • Engender an inquisitive and investigative nature in your organization.
  • Leave room for exploration and discovery of patterns.

The 4 foundation pillars of Data-Driven Decision MakingNext Steps

You are probably already getting results reports. So ask yourself:

  • Which of my teams are using these reports, how often, to make better decisions?
  • What decisions are the reports informing?
  • Are they vanity reports or reports for helping improve marketing performance?

If the reports aren’t driving any decisions or monitoring the health of a process, toss them and go to step 1 above! Audit all the reports in this way. Stop creating reports that no one uses for making decisions or confirming normal operation. My colleague Justin Yopp, who originated many of the ideas in this post also coined the phrase “Become a 3D marketing organization” – meaning Data-Driven Decision making. Are you a 3D organization? How did you do it? What were the biggest hurdles? Here are several examples of marketing dashboards that illustrate 3D thinking.

In step three above, we observed that the data and systems had to support our desired reports. This is a perfect segue to the next post on our Revenue Marketing Journey. Next month we will discuss the various parts to a data operations function within marketing operations and the associated processes.

Please feel free to share your experiences becoming a 3D marketing organization and other insights on the above topics in the comments section below or email me at kevin@pedowitzgroup.com.

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.

Small Blog, Big Strategy

It’s incredibly tough for even the biggest brands to master content marketing. So what about small blogs? How are they staying relevant today? Microtargeting and interest-based awareness have changed digital strategy and these tactics are now home to small bloggers.

Kia Street blogIt’s incredibly tough for even the biggest brands to master content marketing. So what about small blogs? How are they staying relevant today? Microtargeting and interest-based awareness have changed digital strategy and these tactics are now home to small bloggers.

Let’s call “small” any blog with more than five active content contributors and at least a few published posts. Sound like you? Keep reading for more of my take on how to amplify your blog’s online presence. If you site has yet to be born, refer to this easy-to-digest explanation on the first steps of getting a website — securing a domain name.

kia street blog graphicDevelop Reasonable KPIs

No matter how big or small the budget, there are plenty of ways to get your content out there. For example:

  • Be at the top of results when users search for you on Google
  • Maximize reach and awareness of new posts immediately after release
  • Drive and sustain website traffic via Twitter and referrals
  • Focus on what is most important to your business: such as user acquisition, overall awareness and user engagement.

This allows you to divide and conquer with paid search, native advertising, social media and affiliate marketing. Consider this perspective when developing your own KPIs.

Aggregate Your Audience Data

What does your audience like on each channel? What do they care about?

Ask your audience data a lot of questions to help you dive further into who your readers are, how they use the chosen platform and what type of content they respond to most. Now see if you can match your blog’s content to the trends found within your audience data. This can help you understand if you’re offering the right content for your audience.

Think of your analysis as instant market research. Your audience data allows you to truly map out your customer’s journey. Some marketers are innovating this concept entirely by creating content paths to match their content marketing goals.

Identify a Content Strategy

Once you’ve solidified your goals and target audience, examine your strategy. Nix any initiatives that don’t contribute to your ultimate mission. What is it that you ultimately want your audience to do? The answer to this question should drive your content marketing strategy.

Experiment With Social Tactics

Experiment with targeted content that is engaging and personalized. Be transparent and interesting to your users. Here are a few simple ideas to make this happen:

  • Host a live Q&A panel on Periscope featuring your editorial staff;
  • Let the audience choose the topic of your next blog post via Twitter polling;
  • Find, attend and capture industry events with Instagram Stories.

Depending on your audience and the theme of your blog, there are many ways of standing out to both followers and non-followers, alike. Play with and test different tactics for best results!

kia blog post chartLearn, Try, Repeat

The best piece of advice for any small blogger is to learn, try, repeat. Here are three principles for riding the trend waves of your industry:

There are tons of sources that can provide you with the training you need to be successful in content marketing. Use them!

You can never go wrong with experimentation, but you can definitely go wrong without it. Don’t be hesitant toward failure.

Digital changes by the second — and so do the needs of your audience. Remember to periodically optimize content to fit the needs of your users.

Learn, try, repeat: It’s the most effective way for small blogs to sustain authority and relevancy in 2017 (and beyond!)