If you’re like us sometimes you just want to play around with your data a bit more than Google Analytics provides. Maybe you want a different type of chart or simply want to combine your data with some other source. While Google Data Studio is a super useful tool for this type of task, there can be a learning curve in order to get the exact type of data you seek. Enter the Google Analytics Add on for Google Sheets.
What can you do with this data?
If there’s data in your GA account you can pull it into Google Sheets with this plugin. Dates, goals, users, sessions; it’s all there for the taking. What we like to do with this plugin is to leverage this data to create better dashboards than what GA provides as the Sheets plugin allows you to schedule this data to be pulled automatically and thus you can send your team a link that they can access at any time to see fresh data in the format you wish. While the Sheets charts have a long way to go in order to be as useful as Excel, there is still plenty of visualization options at your fingertips.
Take a look at Google’s documentation and tutorial to see what is possible. Then, start putting questions on a white board that your Google Analytics data can provide answers to. Once you know what you’re asking from your data you can begin to query the vast Google Analytics API easily using the Dimensions & Metrics Explorer. As you click on different dimensions or metrics others will gray out if no correlations are available. This Add on is a simple way to start seeing your data in a whole new light and providing better visual insight into new opportunities!
As a myriad of items swirl around the economy these days and idea is beginning to surface in many company boardrooms. Zero Based Budgeting is essentially the review of budgeting line items to ensure viability and efficiency. There’s obviously more to it than that and you can read a great article from McKinsey about the 5th myths of zero-based budgeting to learn more. However, for our intent and purpose we want to leverage this methodology to ensure you’re thinking through your digital marketing expenditures. We’ve written a lot of about budgeting recently and the reasoning is that as we approach the end of the year it is imperative that the budgets you create for 2019 are accurate and viable.
How to Apply Zero-Based Budgeting to Digital Marketing
What is your goal? We ask that a lot, I know. But it is a fundamental question that often is never fully fleshed out. Zero-Based Budgeting forces organizations to think through their goals and revenue targets so that each dollar that goes out is accounted for. It all starts with the organization understanding and agreeing on specific targets, then each department is forced to be accountable to those targets. So to begin, ensure that you understand the revenue goals set by the executive leadership. Secondly, work backwards from your revenue goals (ensuring margin is calculated) by estimating conversion rates and click through rates to determine your overall cost threshold. Lastly, track to these goals by evaluating your return on ad spend on a week-to-week basis. If you’re not on target then evaluate which tactics are throwing things off course. Is it Pay Per Click Advertising? Perhaps it’s particular keywords driving up your cost? Knowing your revenue targets and budgeting to them is job number one as marketers and can ensure that you become a leading voice in the zero-based budgeting game!
Digital Strategists & Zero-Based Budgeting
As any digital strategist worth their salt will tell you, we’ve been doing this for years. The ability to track costs and follow that through to conversion is the cornerstone to any digital marketing plan. More importantly, digital marketers have always had a clear understanding of the full conversion funnel and ensuring that each step along the way is tracked. This gives us a unique opportunity to become leaders within a zero-based budgeting organization and ensure the entire organization accounts for each and every dollar that goes out the door!
At a recent breakfast event several of us got to talking about how many businesses focus on tactics versus actually thinking through their business goals. Additionally, it came up that many businesses do not really stand for anything other than making money. Hey, don’t get me wrong, making money is great. However the truly successful businesses focus on their values and don’t often stray from their mission. After all, if you don’t stand for something you stand for nothing.
Start With Goals & Work Backwards
We have always started engagements by asking an organization defining their business goals, but so many businesses come to us wanting to implement a specific tactic or two. Our process starts by sitting down and helping our partners really think through A) What do we stand for as a business B) What are our goals as an organization (e.g Why are we here?) and C) How does our unique position in the market help solve the pain points people are suffering from? Then (and only then) can you decide what tactics to use to target your audience. Take the time to go through this process and I assure you success will follow!
Are you willing to buy a $10 bill for $50? Probably not. But if so please email me. Unfortunately many businesses do this transaction every single day by not understanding their true Cost Per Acquisition. It is a very simple task to undertake and ensures that your paid media strategy maintains profitability.
How to Calculate Revenue per Lead
You may have to do some ballparking here, but basically you have to look at your customer base. How much revenue on average does a customer bring to your business? Let’s say that number is $1,000. Next, what is our business margin, meaning; how much can we afford to spend and still stay profitable. Let’s say that number is $250 (eg: a 25% margin). Now, on average how many leads turn into clients? (Leads being calls, form fill outs, etc) Let’s say we average about 75%. The math is pretty simple from here: (Revenue Per Client * Margin) * Lead Conversion = Cost Threshold (for our example; $187.50)
How to Calculate Cost Per Acquisition
Now that we have a Cost Threshold we can work backwards to understand how much we can spend to acquire new leads. We need to review the analytics a bit here to determine our website’s Conversion Rate. Then we can do the math to determine how much we can spend per Conversion; Cost Threshold / Conversion Rate = Cost per Acquisition (for our example $18.75)
As summer begins to draw to a close and it starts getting “not so hot” outside we have begun to do a bit of reflecting. If you’re an avid reader of our blog, which most of your are I’m sure, you’ll note several articles noting the digital agency business as a whole. It’s all about tactics this, theory that, cool new buzzword there. It’s hard for any marketing department to keep up. This is why we are making a change!
Changing the Digital Agency Landscape
The tough thing about purchasing digital strategy services is that you often don’t get a tangible item in return. Even worse, how many times has the agency set the success metrics for you when it comes to the tactics they are handling? These things bother us and we have decided to change the way we operate. So starting in the very near future you will see our website morph from being ‘all about tactics’ to being focused on strategy and processes. You’ll clearly see our values as a company, our vision, and our process we implement for every engagement. Our goal is to be a trusted advisor, a part of your team, an expert at your disposal. We are there to guide you through the rough waters and help you come out on the other side with a bounty of fish!
So stay tuned and see how Bluefin Strategy will be changing the digital marketing agency relationship for good!
Not long ago I wanted to rock six-pack abs for beach season. Like many people do I got a gym membership and hired a personal trainer. My trainer gave me a list of things to do, including exercises, what to eat, when to eat, and even had the audacity to tell me I couldn’t drink alcohol. When beach season rolled around I simply rocked my dad-bod, cancelled my gym membership and broke up with my trainer.
Why Digital Agency Relationships Fail
My rock hard abs are your conversions. An elusive goal that seems far-fetched, but you know one day you can achieve it. The problem is that it requires work and we just aren’t good at that. Just like the personal trainer, an agency will give you a set of recommendations and strategies around achieving your goal. That is expected by both parties, but where the expectations differ is who is responsible for implementing them?
Is It Your Responsibility or Theirs?
The answer is that it depends. Many agencies out there do a great job at implementation, others are great at developing strategies, and some claim to do both well. However, rarely is it the case that a client can simply be hands off and things just get done. I would also argue that even if it were to work that you’d be implementing your digital strategy in a vacuum with no cohesion with the rest of your team.
How to Make Sure Your Agency Relationship Rocks
Set expectations up front. Who will handle tactical implementation? How many meetings will there be? How many of those meetings will be on-site? Most importantly, set clearly defined goals at the time of contract negotiations. We’ve always shied away from defining goals in our contracts, but now we welcome them in every proposal. It doesn’t mean payment is null and void, it simply means that we are both on the same page as to where we are trying to go. Sometimes we’ll miss the mark, and that’s ok, but at least everyone has a clear understanding of who is doing what, where we’re going, and what happens when we get there.
Until then, I’m off to the gym… then maybe the wine store.
Not long ago I was doing some analysis on an Ecommerce website in order to determine how visitors navigated through to checkout. The hardest part of this effort was pulling the all pages report out of Google Analytics and conducting some Excel wizardry to filter out just the Product Pages vs. the Product Category Pages. It was time consuming and incredibly monotonous.
Another client was confident about the fact that their Photo Gallery was a top viewed page because it was constantly in the top ten on Google Analytics’ all pages report. They made the usability decision to feature this page front and center on nearly every page on the website. What they overlooked was the fact that they had hundreds of Events Pages and Business Detail Pages that were getting small numbers individually, but in aggregate were the top page types viewed on the site.
What Are Content Groupings?
Google Analytics’ Content Groupings are a way to group similar pages into buckets in order to see user behavior at a more aggregate level. In our Ecommerce example above it allowed us to group all of the Product Pages together in order to see how visitors navigated after seeing any product page. In our second example we were able to determine that the most desirable content was not Photos, but instead Events and Businesses.
How to Set Up Content Groupings
It is super simple to create content groupings. Head on over to your Google Analytics Admin and select the appropriate View. Then select Content Groupings and start creating up to five different content grouping sets. Note that you have three ways to target different content groups:
- Tracking Code
- Rule Definitions
More information on these groups can be found here, but I find that Rule Definitions are pretty robust and fairly easy to implement. Just target pages using Include and Exclude filters the same way that you do when you create Advanced Segments.
You do need to consider the different groupings you may wish to create and also note that groupings don’t talk to each other, so you’ll need to define all pages in each content grouping you create. Below are a few different types of groups we have created fro clients:
- Products Grouping that identifies Downloadable vs. Hard Copy products
- Site Sections Grouping that shows us how visitors navigate between Main section pages vs. Sub section pages
- Listing Pages vs. Detail Pages to see how visitors interact with the main Listing Pages and flow through to the particular Detail Pages
We could list several more, but it really depends on your website. Ask yourself, do you have a lot of a particular type of page (eg: maybe Blog Articles) that individually are very difficult to report on but in aggregate it would make your life easier? If you have any questions about how you might set up content gropings send us an email and lets chat about it!
On July 4th, 1776 delegates from the 13 original colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, signifying the birth of American independence. This important date in history allows us to reflect on how the United States of America came to be, but also reminds us of the value of freedom.
Freedom of Cost Data
Any data, whether it be cost, impression, click or otherwise, should be available to you at any time. There are several agencies out there that conduct paid media efforts for their clients but hide vital information such as Return on Ad Spend at a keyword or creative level. This is wrong in our opinion as transparency is what makes us all better partners. The only reason to hide cost data at a granular level is to mask the margin an agency is making on your spend. Request your cost data by keyword, by creative, or by location of ad so that you can review (along with your agency) where optimizations can occur. If your agency won’t release this information then it is time to declare your independence!
Freedom of Segmentation
Not all site visitors are the same as they all have different needs and wants. They will also navigate differently and expect to be spoken to in different ways. By sitting down and thinking through these segments you can then figure out a way to track them more effectively on your website, whether it be through event tracking or custom dimensions, and start learning how different groups interact with your brand differently. Advanced segments in Google Analytics are a great way to track audiences differently so that you can pinpoint different areas where optimization can occur. If you or your agency partner is unable to track visitors separately, then it is time to declare your independence!
You should have full control over your data and all of your marketing accounts. Don’t let your agency partners hide crucial data behind a wall. It is time to declare your data independence and work with true partners that value data transparency with the goal of optimizing your digital marketing strategy!
In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.
-Dwight D. Eisenhower
Over the years we have worked with companies of all shapes and sizes all with vastly different marketing budgets. One thing seems to remain fairly constant among them all, a lack of planning time! A while back I read 7 Habits for Highly Effective People and one of the big takeaways was yearly goal setting. This exercise allows you to focus and head in a particular direction, although it doesn’t mean you must always achieve the goal. That’s why I felt the Eisenhower quote was so appropriate here, as we all need to take the time to do the planning, but the plan may go out the window quick.
Questions to Ask About Your Digital Strategy
First, start by identifying your business goals. Who are you, what do you believe in, and what would you like to offer you customers? Second, define your audience. Although some might argue this should be step 1, we’ll assume you’re already in business to fill a need of some kind. Never the less, ask yourself why your customers are in need of your services. What are their pain points and how can you alleviate them? Third, where are these customers and how do they like to be messaged? Fourth, what message delivery vehicles make the most sense in order to effectively target this audience? Fifth, does your website convey the pain point solutions and is it free of road blocks for your audience to achieve their ultimate goal? And finally, how will you plan to track success? Are you collecting the right data points and have a means to distribute them?
How to Conduct a Digital Marketing Strategy Session
So now that you have all the questions, you’ll need to answer them. This is where many companies fall flat. We recommend carving out a full week to delve into all of this as a collaborative team. A week of lost productivity is worth 10-times that in marketing effectiveness. Reserve a room with comfy chairs, stock it full of coffee and snacks, and make sure lunch is on order. Your team should be laser focused on answering the questions above and coming out with a cohesive plan of action.
Still sound like a lot? That’s ok, because it is a lot. This is why many companies don’t take the time to conduct these sessions. However the ones that do will be far more successful and while the plans may get thrown out, the planning will have been indispensable!
Want some help conducting your own digital strategy planning session? Contact us and then make sure the snacks are ordered!!