Google Analytics has launched a new report (still in beta) called the ‘User Explorer‘. You can find this report by navigating to Audience menu > User Explorer in your GA view:

user explorer beta

As the name suggest, this report provides detailed insight into individual user’s activity on your website.

 

Quick recap of Client ID

For Google Analytics, (by default) a user is a combination of unique random number and the first time stamp. This combination is called the ‘Client ID‘.

Following is an example of a Client ID: 14525672358.86738999

Here, ‘14525672358’ is unique random number and ‘86738999’ is the first time stamp.

Client ID is assigned to each unique user of your website/app.

The client Id is set by _ga cookie (which is the Universal Analytics Cookie).

To learn more about client ID, read this article: Understanding Users in Google Analytics

 

Introduction to the new ‘Client id’ dimension

The user explorer report, show website usage data (sessions, average session duration, bounce rate, revenue etc) for each user, via the new ‘Client ID‘ dimension :

user explorer2

At present, the ‘Client ID’ dimension is available only in the ‘user explorer’ report. You can not use this dimension in a custom report, yet.

In the mean time, if you wish to use ‘client ID’ in a custom report, then you need to create your own custom dimension which can retrieve the client IDs.

The ‘client ID’ dimension is a high cardinality dimension. What that means, this dimension can have tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of unique values assigned to it.

Google Analytics reports which contain high cardinality dimensions are usually sampled.

Whenever a report includes high cardinality dimension, Google Analytics will notify you by following yellow colour notification message at the top of the report:

high cardinality dimension

If you have got considerable data sampling issues, then the ‘user explorer’ report won’t be very accurate.

Also worth noting that, the client ID exist only on the device/browser where it has been set up. Because of this reason,

The ‘User explorer’ report of a non-user ID view, will show user’s activities, only for a single device and browser.

If the user changes his device/browser while interacting with your website, then that user activity won’t be reported in the ‘User explorer’ report of a non-user ID view.

Thus you may not always get the complete picture of a user’s journey on your website.

Consequently, if you do multi channel marketing and/or get considerable amount of traffic and conversions from different devices, then this report may in fact provide, muddy insight.

 

Quick recap of User ID

User id is a unique set of alphanumeric characters (like dfrgdKer5535925) assigned to a user, so that he can be identified across devices/ browsers.

Google Analytics cannot generate unique IDs for you, that can be used as user ids. You need to generate your own unique ids and assign these IDs to new and returning users through your user authentication system (like website login).

Example of a user ID is a login ID.

Any website which lets user login, can use the user ID feature.
User id view is the GA view which collects only the data related to user ID session.

In the case of user id views, GA calculates unique users by counting the number of unique users IDs assigned, instead of counting the number of unique clients IDs assigned to users.

To learn more about the user ID and user ID view, read this article: Guide to Cross device tracking with User Id in Google Analytics

 

Introduction to the new ‘User id’ dimension

If you have implemented User ID tracking, the ‘user explorer’ report in your ‘user ID’ view will include user IDs’ instead of the client IDs:

user id user explorer

The user explorer report in a user id view, show website usage data (sessions, average session duration, bounce rate, revenue etc) for each user, via the new ‘User ID‘ dimension :

At present, the ‘User ID’ dimension is available only in the ‘user explorer’ report of a user ID view. You can not use this dimension in a custom report, yet.

In the mean time, if you wish to use ‘User ID’ in a custom report, then you need to create your own custom dimension which can retrieve the User IDs.

The ‘User ID’ dimension can also be a high cardinality dimension and can thus create data sampling issues in the ‘user explorer’ report.

Also worth noting that, the user id can exist accross devices/browsers. Because of this reason,

The ‘User explorer’ report of a user ID view, can show user’s activities, across devices and browsers.

You get a better picture of a user’s journey on your website through ‘user explorer’ report of a user ID view.

 

User Explorer report in Mobile App Views

The ‘user explorer’ report is also available in mobile app views.

user explorer app view

This report is similar to the ‘user explorer’ report available in a non-user ID view.

However, it shows mobile app usage data (sessions, average session duration, bounce rate, revenue etc) instead of website usage data for each user, via the new ‘Client ID’ dimension.

This report provides detailed insight into individual user’s activity on your mobile app (instead of your website).

 

User Explorer report in a AMP View

Though ‘user explorer’ report would be available in any GA view, you create, the one in the AMP view is worth mentioning.

AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Page‘.

It is an open source mobile page format which is used to build mobile web pages with static content that loads instantly on mobile devices.

To learn more about AMP, read this article: Setting up & Tracking AMP Pages in Google Analytics

AMP view is that GA view which includes only the AMP traffic.

The ‘User explorer’ report in AMP view is similar to the ‘user explorer’ report available in a non-user ID view. However it, shows website usage data for each mobile user, via the new ‘Client ID’ dimension.

Also worth noting is that the format of the client ID is quite different:

amp client id

By default, a client ID is a combination of unique random number and the first time stamp.

But in case of AMP, client ID is a string which starts with the word ‘amp-‘ and contains alphanumeric characters.

What does that mean, if your website has got mixture of regular mobile pages and AMP pages, then same mobile user can be counted as two different users. This is because when a user navigate from a non-AMP page to a AMP page (either in same or different sessions), he will be assigned a new client ID.

This new client ID will make him a new unique user.

To fix this issue, do not mix AMP pages with non-AMP pages.

 

Introduction to ‘User Report’

The ‘user explorer’ report is made up of several individual ‘user reports’. To access a user report, click on one of the client IDs in user explorer report:

access user report

You will now see the ‘user report’. Pay special attention to the highlighted components of this report:

user report

From this report, we can conclude following:

#1 The report is about a user whose client ID is: 1155437348.1457350989

#2 This user was first acquired on Jan 07, 2016. See the ‘Acquisition Date‘ column on the left hand side of the report.

#3 The user was first acquired through social media. See the ‘Acquisition Channel‘ column on the left hand side of the report.

#4 The user was first acquired through a desktop device. See the ‘Device Category‘ column on the left hand side of the report.

#5 The user has generated total of 168 sessions, on the website so far.

#6 The user has spent 20 hours, 25 minutes and 45 seconds in total, on the website so far.

#7 The user has generated zero revenue on the website (as the website is not an ecommerce website).

#8 The user last visited the website on April 10, 2016.

#9 On April 10, 2016, the user had total of 18 interactions (pageviews, goal completions, purchase and/or events) with the website.

#10 At 4:36 pm (my local time and not the user’s local time), the user triggered an event called ‘reading’ on the article page titled ‘Beginners guide to Google Analytics Debugging‘:

event

Before 4:36 pm, the user triggered the ‘reading’ event at 4.28 pm but on a different article page, titled ‘Google and Universal Analytics Cookies – Complete Guide

On a side note, the ‘Reading’ event is triggered when a user is actually reading an article and not just skimming it.

In order to see more details for a particular user’s interaction, just click on it:

more details

more details2

You can scroll down further to see the user’s activities for older dates:

older user activities

That’s how you can read the ‘user report’.

 

Interactions in user report

In the user report, all of the users’ interactions are grouped into following 5 categories:

#1 Pageview

#2 Appview (available only in mobile app views)

#3 Goal

#4 Ecommerce

#5 Event

To see these categories, click on the ‘Filtered by’ drop down menu:

filter by

As the name suggest, through this menu, you can filter out particular type of user’s interactions like events.

Note:

Eye symbol denotes pageview or appview

Star symbol denotes goal conversion

Shopping cart symbol denotes purchase

Bell symbol denotes event

interaction categories

With ecommerce tracking enabled, the ‘user report’ becomes super useful in understanding the purchase journey.

 

Read the User report in Ascending order

Before you read the ‘user report’, sort it in ascending order (by default the report is sorted in descending order) by using the ‘Sort by‘ drop down menu:

ascending order

By reading the ‘user report’ in ascending order, you can see the user activities from the start to finish in your selected time period.

When you read the ‘user report’ in descending order, you are then forced to read the report backwards, from finish to the beginning.

I am not sure, why Google choose to sort the user report in descending order, by default. It should be sorted in ‘ascending order’ by default.

 

Creating advanced segments in User report

You can also create advanced segment through user report. To do this, follow the steps below:

Step-1: Select the user’s interactions you want to use as conditions for your advanced segment:

select interactions

Step-2: Once you select one or more user’s interactions, the ‘create segment’ (shown above) will become enabled.

Click on this button. This will open the ‘create segment’ dialog box:

create segment dialog box

Step-3: Name your segment, select the GA view, where you want this segment to be available, click on the checkbox ‘Apply the segment to user explorer report after saving’, if you want to apply this segment to the ‘user explorer’ report.

 

How to use the ‘User Explorer’ report

Analyse the journey of people who are making a purchase or completing a goal conversion, to better understand their conversion path.

Analysing the user journey of random people is pointless and this is very true in case of ‘user explorer’ report, where you are more likely to see tens of thousands of ‘users’ report, one for each unique client/user ID. 

So sort the user explorer report by revenue, transactions or goal conversion rate before you read it or access a particular ‘user report’.

sort useful data

The post Understanding User Explorer report in Google Analytics appeared first on Optimize Smart.

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Google announced they’ve launched their new mobile friendly testing tool at http://ift.tt/1WCtHEO.

In fact, the other week we noticed this was coming and reported it back then.

The new tool seems cleaner, more spacious and faster than the previous tool. The first mobile friendly testing tool from Google launched in November 2014, this is the largest looking update to the tool since.

Here is the new look:

google-mobile-friendly-test-tool-new

Here is the old look:

google-mobile-friendly-test-tool-sel

Yaniv Loewenstein from the Google Search Console Team wrote:

The updated tool provides us with room to continue to improve on its functionality, and over time, we expect it to replace the previous Mobile Friendly Test. Additionally, of course this tool also works well on your smartphone, if you need to double-check something there!

Here is a screen shot of the alerts you might see:

google-mobile-friendly-test-tool-alerts


(Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)

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build-backlinks-for-seo.jpeg

There’s no question that building great inbound links to your site is hard work. While many site owners resort to spamming blog comment sections to get their backlinks, that’s neither necessary, nor effective for your SEO efforts.

But it’s probably just a last ditch effort since, although there’s much talk about generating inbound links, the nitty-gritty ways to actually do that are rarely discussed. Download our free SEO ebook here for more tips from experts on increasing your search rankings. 

But link building doesn’t need to be as tough as most people make it. Think of it like social media — if you’re a source of great content and you get it in front of the right people, they’re going to share it. With that in mind, we’ll get you started with 33 ideas to help you build legitimate inbound links.

What Are Backlinks / Inbound Links?

A backlink, or inbound link, is a link coming from another site to your own website.

The person receiving the link is one the who refers to a link as a backlink. For example, here’s a backlink to our co-founder Dharmesh Shah’s blog. Shah could say, "I received a backlink from HubSpot."

Backlinks (i.e., inbound links) are different from outbound links (links from your website to another website) and internal links (links from one website to another page on that same website). You can learn more about the differences between all three link types here.

The right backlinks can do two great things for your website:

  • They can drive traffic to your website. If someone posts a backlink to your website on their website or blog, their readers might click on it — and you’ll benefit from that referral traffic. For example, many of you who clicked the link to Shah’s blog up there may not have visited his blog otherwise.
  • They can help you rank higher in search. Backlinks tell search engines that your website is an authority on a certain subject — so the more backlinks you have from high quality, high authority sites, the better your website will rank in search engine results pages (SERPs).

A good inbound link comes from an authoritative website, and uses natural anchor text. Anchor text is simply the text copy that’s hyperlinked, like this. (The anchor text there is "like this.") Natural anchor text means you’re not just hyperlinking keywords left and right. Google understands the context of a link, so more generic "learn more" and "click here" anchor text can be just as valuable as keyword-optimized anchor text.

33 Ways to Get Free Backlinks to Boost Your Search Rankings

1) Maintain a steady blog with great content.

Consistently creating great blog content that people naturally want to link to is one of the most tried and true ways to organically generate inbound links.

2) Link to other blogs on your blog.

A blog is meant to be a social tool. The more you link to others — especially when you do it in a consistent, opportunity-driven way — the greater likelihood one of those bloggers will return the favor.

Plus, you can’t cover everything about everything on your blog. It makes sense to leverage the wealth of resources on the web to make your blog’s experience better and more rewarding for your readers.

3) Write guest blog posts.

Write a great blog post, and shop it around to blogs it’d be a good fit for. If one accepts, they should be willing to give you an inbound link in the post.

Don’t know whom to write for? Most media outlets allow people to submit original articles on topics relevant to their readership. Here are guest blogging instructions and guidelines for 11 top media outlets, including The New York Times, Business Insider, HBR.org, Mashable, and more.

4) Curate and publish helpful resource lists.

Resource lists are both great link bait and helpful content for your readers. If you create a comprehensive resource list, it’ll be easy for other bloggers to link to it in their own posts instead of rehashing and curating all that content themselves. To give you an idea of what one might look like, here’s an example of a list we curated for free content creation tools and resources.

5) Do expert roundups to build relationships.

Expert roundups can be a great tool for building relationships with influencers. While these roundups may not get you a lot of links or leads right away, building relationships with influencers will help you get solid backlinks from authoritative sources down the line.

After they contribute to your roundup, you can reach out to them later to ask about a guest post opportunity or something else — while thanking them again for contributing to the previous expert roundup.

Here’s an example of an expert roundup we did, where we reached out to successful marketers and asked them how they got started.

6) Write newsjack posts.

Newsjacking is when you capitalize on the popularity of a news story to amplify your own sales and marketing success. If you’re the first blogger to comment on a news event, you’ll rise to the top of the SERPs due to the "freshness" component of Google’s algorithm, and others will link to your content in their own accounts of the story. Read this blog post for four newsjack formulas to get you started.

7) Create case studies about your most impressive clients.

If you make your clients look good in case studies about their business, you can bet they’ll be linking to your site. But you’ve got to make them good. This means choosing companies that have seen the best results, are enthusiastic, and know your product or service well. It also means asking the right questions and laying out the case study in an attractive, comprehensive way. Here’s a free case study template to get you started.

8) Volunteer to be the subject of a case study.

Why not get on the other side of the case study link love? We’re always looking for customers who are willing to be the subject of a case study. Volunteer your time for one of your major vendors, and get a backlink from the case study once it’s published.

9) Administer surveys.

… And promise to share the data with others. If you do the data collection and crunching and give some high authority sites access to the findings afterwards, you can bet they’ll do some promotion and inbound linking for you to make sure you have a great sample size. Download this free guide for how to use online surveys in your marketing.

10) Write book reviews.

If you provide a comprehensive review about another author’s content, there’s a good chance they (and others) will link to it. Here’s an example of a book review from InsightSquared’s blog, which sums up The Challenger Sale in what they promise is an eight-minute read or less.

11) Conduct free webinars, and post archived copies online.

If it’s informative, your attendees will absolutely share it. One easy way to do this is to turn your PowerPoint presentation slides into a SlideShare presentation, and then embed that presentation into a blog post. You can also embed it into the webinar’s landing page so that anyone looking to sign up for a webinar that’s already over can check out the presentation.

For an even better shot at backlinks to these archived webinar pages, partner up with another company, brand, or influencer for the webinar in the first place. Not only do two well-aligned brands make for a powerful presentation, but it’ll widen the audience — even after the webinar is over. (Learn tips on creating a webinar in this blog post.)

12) Create free tools.

Remember when I talked about curating and publishing resource lists for your blog in #4? What do you think people include and link to on those resource lists? Free tools are a big one. You can get on the other side of those resource lists by creating free tools that are really helpful for your target customers.

Here at HubSpot, for example, we created Website Grader, a tool to which many agencies, partners, and others in our industry link. 

13) Create shareable templates.

Like free tools, templates are another thing people will find useful enough to link to. Before you create a template, think about what kind of templates would make people’s jobs easier. A designer, for example, might create a library of downloadable business card templates to which others could link over and over. Bookmarkable content is often the kind of content that gets tons of inbound links.

14) Create compelling infographics.

People absolutely love to share infographics. If you create an original infographic yourself, people will link back to you as the original source. To increase the likelihood of an inbound link, you might also share your design with the sources you cited, and make the embed code for your infographic easily accessible.

Not a designer? Anyone can create professional-looking, high-quality infographics — and quickly with templates like these 15 free infographic templates. If you want to learn how to create an infographic in under an hour using those templates, read this blog post.

15) Create other forms of visual content.

Remember that cartoons, content visualizations, charts and graphs, and the like are extremely popular as people become more and more visual. Plus, they take a little time and money to make, so if you’ve done the legwork, others will probably skip the fuss of creating their own visual content and link to yours instead. Here’s a list of 29 free online design tools so you can create your own graphics, regardless of how tech-savvy you are.

16) Create SlideShare presentations.

Slice one of your infographics into pieces, or repurpose one from your last speaking gig. You can put these up on your blog, in your website’s resource center, or even on a SlideShare account for more links.

Keep in mind that the most shareable presentations are the ones that are the most compelling. That means great content and great design. Read this blog post for a start-to-finish guide on nailing your next PowerPoint presentation.

17) Do something funny.

Funny things spread like wildfire. Think about the funny inside jokes in your industry, and capitalize on it with some humorous content that’s linkable. Even boring industries can find the humor in something here are seven examples to prove it. (Just be careful that you understand your audience and how they’re likely to respond so that nothing is taken offensively.)

18) Write press releases about interesting company news.

By turning your PR strategy into an inbound one, you create opportunities that weren’t there before and carve out a place for your company, building meaningful mindshare in the process with your target audiences. Once you write a great press release, post it up on your website and then push out your releases to one of the big newswires to get more coverage.

19) Send out a joint press release when your news involves another company.

This can help reach thousands of other related sites that, in a press release about just your company, may not have linked to your site.

20) Do some outreach when you have big news or a great piece of content.

Gaining attention from the press and getting published in industry publications can help you build your brand, increase your visible expertise, improve your credibility, and, of course, get backlinks from authoritative sources.

First, create a dedicated page about the story on your website for them to link to as a resource. Then, reach out to a handful of journalists and/or publications that you can see really valuing your story. Be sure you give context to your request, you follow their rules, you write a compelling subject line to your pitch email, and that you’re helpful, not boastful. Read this blog post to learn more about pitching your story to journalists (which includes two email templates right in the post).

21) Set up press requests alerts and look for opportunities to send quotes.

Press request alerts are requests for sources of information from journalists. These journalists are constantly looking for quotes from specific people to feature in their article, and there are several mediums they use to send requests and find those quotes.

Here’s a list from HubSpot’s Global Head of Growth & SEO Matthew Barby of services you can sign up for and receive alerts from journalists to your inbox:

Because of the high volume of requests you’ll receive, he also recommends creating email filters or folders to keep yourself organized. (Learn how to create filters in Gmail here.)

22) Write and pitch op-ed articles.

If you have an interesting opinion to share and can express it clearly and persuasively in an op-ed article, you could have the opportunity to reach a lot of people, earn recognition for yourself and your organization, and get authoritative backlinks to your website. I find the most effective op-ed articles make a single point, embrace the author’s personal voice, and then offer specific recommendations.

Once you write the article, target online versions of big newspaper and magazine publications for an extremely valuable inbound link. Here are guest publication instructions and guidelines for 11 top media outlets.

23) Partner with companies in complementary industries.

It’s common practice for corporate channel partners to link to each other’s great content, because they have a vested interest in one another’s success.

You might consider assessing how much traffic a partner can drive to your website by taking a look at their overall web presence on Alexa and SimilarWeb. These sites can help get a rough idea of traffic, bounce rates, keywords, and sources people are using to find that site, as well as the next action they take after visiting. Read this blog post for more ways to seek out the best brand partnerships.

24) Do some co-marketing.

You can also go a step further and build co-marketing partnerships. This means partnering up with another company to promote a piece of content or product, and then sharing the results of that promotion. When you leverage the relationship and reach of a partner, you’ll get more links and more buzz with less work.

Effective co-marketing doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, either. For example, the folks at a rescue animal shelter called Fur Baby Rescue wanted to leverage BuzzFeed’s hundreds of millions of readers. To do this, they partnered with the folks at BuzzFeed to set up and publish an article called, "We Gave Drunk Girls a Bunch of Puppies and There Were Lots of Tears," which you can read here. The article is exactly what it sounds like: A few ladies had a few drinks, and then were surprised with adorable (and adoptable) puppies from Fur Baby Rescue. (Here are more examples of great partnerships to inspire you.)

25) Ask for reviews.

You can ask users of your product and industry experts or analysts to review new features you’re rolling out, for example. Not only will you receive an inbound link, but you’ll also get great feedback and strengthen your relationship with those you asked to write reviews.

Don’t know where to ask for reviews? Check out our list of the best product review websites for B2B and B2C companies.

26) Make friends with other webmasters in real life.

Strengthening your relationship with other webmasters will open the door for relevant inbound link requests when future opportunities arise, and make it more likely those requests don’t fall on deaf ears. 

Networking is an unparalleled skill to have. The wider and more open your network, the more opportunities could be unlocked that you didn’t even know existed. Here are 10 helpful tips on networking like a pro to get you started.

27) Search for and monitor mentions of your brand.

Contact webmasters about turning those mentions into inbound links, but only when it’s warranted — like when they’re citing data of yours, for example. This is a tactic called "link reclamation."

Monitor brand mentions by setting up alerts using tools like Mention or BuzzSumo, and adding keywords related to your brand or products. Just make sure you exclude any mentions from your own website within the alert, which you can do in these tools’ settings.

Here’s an email template for reaching out to ask for a link from Barby:

link-reclamation-email-template.png

Image Credit: Matthew Barby

28) Search for and monitor your competitors’ backlinks.

Then, find opportunities where you can get similar links. This is a great way to find high-value link opportunities fairly easily. Barby suggests running competitor research like this weekly or monthly to find new opportunities you can take advantage of while they’re still fresh. 

Use a link analysis tool like Ahrefs, Majestic, or Moz’s Open Site Explorer to get a list of the backlinks for one of your competitors. Then, check out what types of posts are getting backlinks.

For example, if one of your competitors is writing guest posts for certain publications, there’s a high likelihood those publications would be interested in guest posts from you on similar topics. (See #3.)

29) Incorporate "Tweet This" links into your content.

Part of getting inbound links is getting your content out to the masses. Including "Tweet This" or "Click to Tweet!" links for tweetable nuggets in your content will get people sharing your content socially more often.

The result? Greater visibility in search engines, news feeds, Twitter streams, etc. — and thus more opportunity for your data to be referenced in other people’s content.

Here’s what one of these links looks like, from this stats roundup post:

Researchers found that colored visuals increase people’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80%. [Tweet this stat!]

You can easily create tweetable links using the ClickToTweet service — without having to learn any custom code. Click here to learn how to generate ClickToTweet links.

30) Install social sharing widgets.

Just like "Tweet This" links get your content out there, so do social sharing buttons and widgets. Put them on your marketing content like case studies, whitepapers, ebooks, and blog posts.

31) Sponsor or speak at an event.

Events usually give their speakers and sponsors great website publicity. You can also negotiate inbound links into your terms to be sure your time and resources yield a beneficial inbound link.

If you’re speaking at an event, make a really awesome, shareable presentation that people will want to find, share, and even link to later. Read this blog post for a start-to-finish guide on nailing your next presentation.

32) Help another webmaster fix an error on their site.

Remember when I said you should get to know other webmasters? This is another time those connections will come in handy. When you find broken links on others’ sites, let them know (politely, of course), and provide them with a piece of your own content that would be a suitable replacement for that broken link. Be personal, friendly, and helpful, and this could be an opportunity to start building a relationship with that webmaster, too.

33) Give away free trials and sneak peeks of your product.

When people get to see your product beforehand, they will want the world to know they’re part of the VIP crowd, and might write a review with a link back to your site about it.

There are a few ways to give away free trials. You could create some call-to-action buttons for your website or blog. (Here are 50 free, customizable CTA templates to help you out.) You could also send a new product announcement email to folks who you think might be interested, like current customers. For an example of what a good product announcement email looks like, see #1 in this blog post about marketing emails.

What are some other white hat methods you’ve used to generate more inbound links? Share with us in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2012 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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The majority of enterprise content marketers don’t have a documented strategy, according to recent research. The CMI found that almost two thirds of professional content folk haven’t yet bothered to write down their strategy.

In some circles that’s akin to not having a strategy at all, but I don’t find it particularly surprising. Plenty of experienced, established teams seem to work without documentation in place, but it seems to me that content marketing has evolved to the point where it’s really easy to lose focus.

I’m currently going through the process of establishing a content strategy from scratch and thought I’d share what I’m doing, which I’ve summarised in the visualisation below. I guess each of these areas could be a chapter heading in a handy reference guide for the team.

Content marketing strategy document map

All pretty top level, you understand, but I’ll explain a bit about each area below.

What do we mean by ‘document’?

There’s no standard template for this, so far as I know. In any event, what’s right for me might be wrong for you. But I would say that your ‘documentation’ should amount to more than a simple mission statement.

Big picture strategy slogans are one thing, but to actually make things happen, you need a lot of detail. Your team needs to know where to look – or who to look to – when they want something.

If you don’t have proper documentation in place, then they will look to you, and you will turn into a repetitive answer machine. Heavy bummer.

It might be that a lot of the supporting documentation already exists, in some shape or form. It’s just that it is unfinished, or out of date, or unstructured, and very possibly unshared. Why not put some time aside to get things together?

Assembling a collection of useful documents – alongside a goal-orientated series of targets – will help you to keep things on track. Your team will thank you for it, especially newcomers.

Let’s go through the four key areas to think about (Goals, Tactics, People, Processes), and the three others that are loosely filed under productivity (Assets, Tools and Tech).

In business, everything revolves around goals, unless you’re batshit crazy, so I’ll start there.

Goals

Content marketing teams exist to support all kinds of businesses goals. Some are more important than others. Goals can be strategic, tactical or based around task completion. Macro, micro, nano. Company, department, team member. Or mission, campaign, task.

Goals should be written down and ideally visible across teams, since you rarely work in a vacuum. Performance stats should be visible too, because transparency is a winning ticket.

Note that you always, always, always need a feedback loop, to measure what works and what doesn’t. Without that you cannot hope to function properly, nor maximise your chances of success. Nor, for that matter, demonstrate ROI (or the lack of it).

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 11.06.21

When it comes to goals, there are three main things to sort out…

Mission statement. This is your elevator pitch, and can probably be condensed into a sentence or so. You want to cram as much meaning and clarity in these few words as possible, to quickly answer questions such as “why are we investing in content marketing?”

Targets. You can use tools to set, assign and monitor goals, or just put something together in Google Docs and share it with whoever needs to see it.

Metrics. Once clearly defined goals and targets have been set you can take some measurements and track metrics as you move forwards. Set up your analytics reports and monitor performance as you progress.

Tactics

Once you know what your goals are, you can figure out how to go about achieving them. This is where tactics come into play.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 11.06.48

Research. Gut feel is a fine place to start, but tactics should be based around insight, rather than opinions. This calls for some research. Use whatever sources of data and information you can to build up a picture of the world according to your target audience.

Audience research. Figure out needs, where they like to hang out, what makes them tick, what they respond to, which competitors they talk about, who their friends are, who they respect… that kind of stuff.

Customer research. You need to know who your existing customers are before finding similar people. How do customers interact with your brand? What works?

Competitor research. It’s worth having a sniff around but there’s no need to obsess over competitor activity. Worry about your own game. Planning is a natural extension of worrying.

Personas and user journeys. Put together some personas, user stories, customer journeys, and make sure everybody is aware of the paths you want visitors to take.

Keyword research. This is rather more audience-centric than the foundational technical SEO basics, such as making your site fast. Search queries reflect consumer intent, and it is your job to create the kind of content that ranks well for target phrases.

Keyword research works best when it is truly strategic, with content mapped to specific business goals. Your content comes only after you have defined and prioritised your keyword wishlist. Or you’re doing it wrong.

Incidentally, I pretty much live by Dan Shure’s brilliant article on using the Keyword Planner in a creative way.

Funnel. How do your customers actually become customers? Understand the various journeys through the funnel. See what’s working, and think about how your content can play a role at each stage.

Content mapping. Great, you’ve mapped content throughout the funnel, but happens after somebody has become a customer? Increasing retention and customer advocacy are two of the best things you can do in business, and your content can go a long way in supporting these primary business goals. Take ownership, if necessary.

Content mapping - funnel

Formats. After you’ve done your homework, you can start to think about the actual content. Thoughts will turn to the type of content you might create, and the formats you can use. What is possible, given your team, your budget and your platforms?

Distribution. Hold up, cowboy. Don’t let the tail wag the dog. In this case the tail is content. And the dog, well, that’s distribution. Simply put, why are you making a video when you haven’t given a moment’s thought to YouTube? And what feeds YouTube? Ah yeah, reddit does.

These channels are potentially going to be the difference between a small win in local circles and a global viral. Why wouldn’t you want to optimise your distribution channel strategy?

How will people find your article? What’s your social strategy? Are you going to do any paid distribution? How are you going to nail down some excellent Google placements?

Figure out how to get the best out of your main channels, and you’ll get way more bang for your buck from each piece of content.

SEO. The devs probably need to be informed about your preferred search setup. Right?

Once you’ve got this together it becomes much easier to direct your efforts, and change tack if necessary.

The main success factor will be linked to the quality of content you create, and that’s something that you can also provide documented guidance on. Share internal and external knowledge, and make it easily accessible across teams.

People

You may know who everybody is and why they matter, but does the rest of your team? Think about the various people who stand to benefit from your success, and always remember the ones who took on some risk when you started out.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 11.06.03

Stakeholders. Not just the boss, but heads of other teams that will be affected by your efforts. Who are they? What do they need to be effective in their jobs? How can content marketing support their primary goals? Also, what have you promised? Make the business case readily available to your team so they know what is expected of them. Share presentations and team goals.

Content team. Who’s in the dream team? Who is your star player? What is everybody focusing on? How does everybody communicate? That might be as straightforward as sharing a simple organogram and a bunch of invitations to Slack.

Other teams. Who do you ask for a new button to be designed? Where do the company mugshots live? Is there a shared Dropbox folder? What are the guidelines around using this stuff?

External talent. Maybe you hired a PR agency, who should be kept in the loop about major content campaigns on the horizon. Maybe you have three freelance writers who don’t work in our office. And that weird guy who makes kickass videos from a shady basement. How will these people work together and where do their contact details live for when somebody needs something?

Influencers. This is really important: know who you want to get friendly with. These community-annointed leaders of tribes can help you in a big way. What can you do to attract their attention? I tend to store influencers (including media lists) in a spreadsheet. Other people’s Twitter Lists can be a goldmine.

Processes

This is where the action happens. What are the things to do before and after publication? What do you need to do to get a piece of content over the line?

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 11.05.28

Brainstorming. Where do we store our ideas? How often do we get together? What tools do we use? What’s the formula for deciding what kind of content to create? Whiteboard sessions and mindmaps all play their part.

Workflow. How do we operate as a team, and as team members? How should we work with other teams? What is the process for submitting work?

What tools do we use? I’ve played around with Trello to Basecamp to Google Docs but have never settled on one goal-orientated platform (so I’m actually building one). People use tools differently and there is often some kind of protocol to follow, otherwise your world looks like to-do list spaghetti.

Taxonomy. What’s that you say about metadata? What is the common vocabulary for labels, tags and categorisation? Should I write Ecommerce or ecommerce or e-commerce or E-commerce or eCommerce? How does the tech work to support this kind of thing? If you have some rules in place, then you should police them.

Checklists. What needs to be done prior to publication? Or sign off? What boxes need to be ticked? Did you sense check everything?

Sign Off. Is there a sign off process? Who has final say? Do we really need to run everything past the PR agency? Who has publishing rights? Who is allowed to edit?

The Other Stuff

Assets, tech and tools pretty much sit between the three key areas and the goals. I see these things as being very much in the heart of the practical, and used, referenced and updated during the production phase.

Assets are things like brand guidelines, which should cover all of the dos and don’ts you need to know before publishing even the smallest status update. Authors must know your brand inside out before they represent it, right?

You’ll also need a house style guide, for content creators and editors. And ideally some pointers about things like when to publish, or how to write amazing headlines.

You’ll also be primed for success if you go to the trouble of creating (and maintaining) a schedule, be a that a shared calendar or loose, spreadsheet-based plan of action. Put some dates in the diary, get some targets in place, and watch out for the things on the verge of falling off the radar (or worse, the dreaded blockers).

Tech covers off the various platforms you will use (owned, earned, rented, paid, etc). That might mean a blog, a YouTube channel or a paid media channel. It’s probably all three.

Tech also points to your kit, and how the tech team can help improve efficiency and performance. For example, if you’re blogging, what are your CMS needs? How could the editing interface be improved? How should you report bugs? This might mean JIRA tickets, or something similar, so let your team know about how best to wave flags.

Platforms and technology can be optimised, which is where UX comes into play. Content lives at the heart of UX, but there are obviously factors outside of the content team’s control. Be sure to bang the drum if your site is slow, or if something is broken.

UX also covers persuasion, which is something of an artform among switched-on content marketers.

Then we have Tools, which primarily sit between people and process, and should help you to get things done. Pretty self-explanatory.

In summary

It’s worth pausing for thought if you are part of an existing team and you don’t have the right documentation in place. Where should I look for that style guide? Exactly what kind of person am I writing for, and why? Who should sign this off? These are questions that no right-minded team leader wants to answer on a daily basis.

Or maybe, like me, you’re starting something up, or you have a new client and a blank page. It’s tempting to jump straight into content creation, but in the long run it’s going to be way better to put a well-documented plan of attack in place, with goals and supporting assets all neatly lined up.

Either way, it’s worth regularly reviewing your strategy and updating your documentation, especially when adjusting course. To that end, I created The Content Strategy Canvas to help you get together a top level picture of what you have going on (click the pic for a big, hi-res version).

Content Strategy Canvas - half

The canvas appears overly simplistic, but it is meant to be that way. It is a visual tool to help quickly communicate the key aspects of strategy on one page. No fluff required. The other documentation you might assemble having read this post will fill in the gaps.

And lo, you will become a cherished hero.

Anyway, that’s where I’m at. I’ll share a few specific content marketing templates in the future. I’d certainly love to hear any feedback and other approaches, so do leave a comment below or get in touch.

Related reading

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Facebook announced several updates to its dynamic ads (formerly dynamic product ads), including the expansion of the ad unit to Instagram, as well as updates to custom audiences for websites.

The social network announced Tuesday that dynamic ads are now available on Instagram, and that travel brands can now take advantage of dimensions, location and time specifically tailored for their industry.

Facebook added that brands using custom audiences for websites can now better target users who demonstrated “stronger intent,” such as by visiting sites repeatedly or spending long periods of time on those sites.

The social network offered more details on the expansion of dynamic ads to Instagram in a Facebook for Business post:

Dynamic ads automate product advertising by showing people ads featuring items they’ve expressed interest in—either by viewing it or adding it to their cart—or items related to ones they’ve shown interest in or purchased. And now businesses using dynamic ads can easily connect with more potential customers on mobile.

To date, more than 2.5 billion unique products have been uploaded to Facebook. Now, by extending dynamic ads to Instagram, advertisers can promote relevant products to shoppers who have browsed their website or mobile app across two platforms where people spend much of their time—Facebook and Instagram. While many advertisers already use Instagram to promote their products, manually tailoring ad creative and targeting for every product in their catalog is time-consuming. Now, with dynamic ads, advertisers can showcase every one of their products automatically with dynamic creative and targeting, so they can show the right product to the right person every time.

The new feature was also described in an Instagram for Business blog post:

While many advertisers already use Instagram to promote their products, customizing creative with the right targeting for each and every product takes time—but it is important for driving performance. Dynamic ads on Instagram let you promote the right products to the right person at the right time. When someone visits your website or mobile app, and then later looks at Instagram, they’ll be served an ad featuring multiple, related products from ones they were browsing on your site or app. Because of this, dynamic ads are highly relevant for our community—allowing users to explore and engage with the products they care about. And since dynamic ads are always active, they’ll continually reach customers with the right product on Instagram.

People come to Instagram to discover things they’re passionate about, and that includes content from businesses. In fact, 60 percent of users learn about products and services on Instagram, and 75 percent say they take action after being inspired by a post. With its bold, mobile format, Instagram is an ideal channel to drive discovery and help shoppers experience your products. Using the carousel ad format, dynamic ads showcase multiple products so consumers can easily browse products in-application.

You can create dynamic ads on Instagram the same way you do with dynamic ads on Facebook. To start, upload your entire product catalog into Business Manager. From there, you can buy, manage and report on dynamic ads through Power Editor. You can also work with an Instagram Partner Program company or Facebook Marketing Partner to get started. Once dynamic ads are set up, products will automatically populate based on a person’s action on your website or mobile app. That means there’s no need to configure thousands of individual ads for each product. You can also control the products you want advertised to make sure the ads pull in products that are in stock with their latest pricing. For additional reach, you can even extend your dynamic ads to Facebook and Facebook Audience Network.

InstagramDynamicAdJewlr InstagramDynamicAdJewlr2 InstagramDynamicAdJewlr3

The Facebook for Business post also discussed the new dynamic ads options for travel brands:

Dynamic ads for travel empower travel advertisers to offer hotel options to people who have shown interest in taking a trip, either by browsing hotels or searching and purchasing a flight. For example, a travel business can connect with people who viewed a hotel on their website by showing them an ad featuring the hotel they viewed, along with similar hotels in the area. Advertisers can now also help people complete their trips by showing relevant hotels to people who have purchased flights on their website or in their app. And to help advertisers offer people the best experience, the hotel options shown include dynamic availability and pricing, so people always see the most up-to-date information.

Dynamic ads for travel are currently in testing with several advertisers. We’ll provide updates when dynamic ads for travel are more widely available across Facebook, Instagram and Facebook Audience Network.

FacebookDynamicAdMarriottInternational FacebookDynamicAdMarriottInternational2 FacebookDynamicAdTrivago

Finally, the social network announced the following new targeting options for custom audiences for websites:

  • Frequency: How many times someone does a certain thing, like visit a page?
  • Time spent: How much time someone spent doing a certain thing, like exploring a website or viewing a specific page.
  • Dynamic date: a range of dates the person has shown interest in, like for a flight or a hotel reservation.
  • Aggregated values: total amount a person has spent.
  • Devices: including Android, iOS devices, desktop and other mobile devices.

Facebook added in the Facebook for Business post:

These advanced behavior criteria enable advertisers to move beyond creating audiences based solely on web page visits and events to being able to segment their audience by the intensity of their interest. Creating audience segments in this way also helps advertisers understand and bid the true value of an action from a person, so they can drive conversions more efficiently across devices.

Advertisers: What do you think of the new features announced by Facebook Tuesday?

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Ranking your site for competitive keywords can be exciting – a real ego boost. But sometimes we get so focused on bringing down the big game that we neglect the easy, low-hanging fruit. Here’s what I mean…

I have a client with a 38-year old business who advertises locally on TV, radio and in the newspaper. As a result of referrals and advertising, his site gets about 100 searches for variations of his business name each month.

For one reason or another, potential customers are considering what he has to offer. These people just need some good compelling reasons to take action.


Searching on my client’s company name returns a search that looks like this…

Using Review Videos to Improve SERP Click-Throughs

See that “rating” of 2.9?

Does it matter that the website hosting that review is nothing more than an AdSense site, and that a review can be left simply by running your mouse over some stars, without even having to register?

Not to the uninformed person searching for validation to use this school, it doesn’t. All they see is that mediocre 2.9 star rating.

They don’t see the number of 5 star reviews on his Facebook page, or the binder filled with printed emails and letters received from past students, praising his company for its greatness.

This “warm” traffic is low-hanging fruit that could mean thousands…or tens of thousands…of dollars for his business. He just has to pick it.

But how?

Yes, he could, should, and is, encouraging more reviews on Google (as per screenshot below:)

Using Review Videos to Improve SERP Click-Throughs

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However, there’s a fruit-picking tool that will work quickly, affordably, and has a variety of uses. And that tool is a…

Get a “Raving Fans” Review Video

We know that creating a video optimized for a very specific location and business name will rank quickly on YouTube – often in a matter of hours. And if the video contains your business name, it should rank on the first page of results for your company name, right out of the gate.

So, what I’ve advised this client, and every client, is to create a short video featuring 6-10 of their best testimonials and reviews, and post it to YouTube.

It can be quickly and easily created using any one of a number of editing programs such as Camtasia, Screenflow, iMovie, just to name a few. Or, to save time, outsource the work.

To create this video, I simply went on Upwork and hired a person with the video editing skills I needed. I then sent them a text file with the testimonials, and their source. In a day, I had a great looking video.

The real magic of course is in the title and description. Both need to contain your company name, the word “reviews”, and even the city where your business is located.

When it’s all done, you should have something that looks like this…

Using Review Videos to Improve SERP Click-Throughs


Own the Eye-Catching Click-Throughs

What I love about these video search results is the thumbnail. That thumbnail image really grabs your attention, doesn’t it?

In fact, these thumbnails draw the eye so well that they’re 41% more likely to be clicked on than text-only results, even if they aren’t at the top of the page.

Not only does this mean people are more likely to see your reviews, but as importantly, they won’t be focused on blemishes such as the 2.9 rating shown in the search results for my client.

Own the eye-catching SERP click-throughs by creating Review Videos

 

 

 

 

For the little amount of time and money you spend to create one of these great review videos, they represent great value if all you do is get them ranked as described.

But why stop there?


Use the Swiss Army Knife of Videos

Once your review video is uploaded, why not put it to work on your website, on the front page, the “about” page…heck, why not on every page?

And then, upload it to your Facebook page and pin it to the top of the newsfeed. You could even edit a shorter version to put on Instagram. Also be sure to link to it on Twitter.

Don’t forget to include a link to it in your email communications with prospects and customers alike. I often encourage clients to put it directly in their auto-signature so that everyone email they send becomes a tiny advertisement for the quality of service they provide.

For the money, these review videos deliver big value.


It’s Not Just For Local

The review video works great for local businesses. But it can help internet-based business just as well. Take, for example, another client of mine, Dave Smith. He runs an online fitness and weight-loss program called Make Your Body Work and is a fitness coach at TotalCoaching.

Is there any other area where testimonials plays such a crucial role as weight-loss or fitness. Hardly.

I don’t know about you, but anytime I consider buying an online learning or coaching program, I do my research. And that starts with a search for reviews. Sadly, here’s what people see when they search “make your body work reviews”…

Using Review Videos to Improve SERP Click-Throughs

No fanfare.

No raving fans shouting about his skills as a coach and motivator.

Nothing but crickets chirping here.

But if someone were to search for “Dave Smith the personal trainer”, you’d see one of those eye-catching thumbnails of him receiving the “personal trainer of the year award” …

Using Review Videos to Improve SERP Click-Throughs

It’s the same story. Dave gets emails and Facebook reviews gushing about his programs, but if a person shouts out a testimonial in the middle of the forest, and there’s no one there to hear it, does it really make a sound?

In this case, I advised Dave to rework the title and description of this video to include the name of his program, as well as work in the word “review”. As an example…


Title: Make Your Body Work – Dave Smith – The Ultimate Review

Description: Dave Smith, founder of Make Your Body Work receives the ultimate review by his peers and is awarded Personal Trainer of The Year.


Reviews + Video = Bushels of Fruit

80% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendations, and about the same number of people – 9 out of 10 – look to online reviews to help make their buying decision.

Combine your reviews with the power of video to engage and influence your prospects

 

 

 

 

Combine those numbers with the power that video has to engage and influence your prospects, and you have the potential for a bountiful harvest.

Let me know what you think. Do you see value in review videos? Have any suggestions on how to amp up their power? Please leave a comment.


Curtis Penner is owner of Backstage Marketing, which helps non-internet, independently owned businesses harness the power of content marketing to generate more web traffic, more leads and sell more stuff.

The post Using Review Videos to Improve SERP Click-Throughs appeared first on BrightLocal.

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social media how toLooking for ways to improve your Pinterest marketing?

Do you want to make your pins more clickable?

To generate leads, conversions, and sales from Pinterest, your pins need to do more than move people to like and repin.

In this article you’ll discover how to create pins that encourage people to click through to your site.

pins that encourage click through to website

Discover how to use Pinterest to drive traffic to your website.

#1: Combine Cropped Images to Hint at a Story

Stories evoke a combined sense of emotion in us: curiosity, arousal, intrigue, and so on. Images help convey those stories which is why advertising professional David Ogilvy advocated for the use of photographs, and why you should use them in the pins you create to promote your content.

The right images can make the viewer ask, “What’s going on in this picture?” Once you’ve captured their attention, you’ve likely induced them to click through to your site and learn the rest of the story.

All pins use images but many include stock photography and overlaid text; these elements are so common that it’s become easy for viewers to skim over them. To stand out, you will want to choose images that are much more than mere graphic representations or photos of products; you want to use images that support the thread of the story you’re telling.

For example, in the pin below your attention is drawn to the various tiles and, because they share a common feeling and share similar colors, your brain begins to establish a connection among them. There’s a connected story going on and you’re wondering what that story is.

pinterest storytelling example

The separate but similar tiles in this pin make you want to click through to find the common thread they share.

A pin that tells the viewer there’s a story being told makes people stop and look at it. The longer they view, the greater the chance of a click-through.

#2: Support Calls to Action With Visual Design

Websites with clickable buttons that contain calls to action (or CTAs) have been around for a few decades now. As we’ve become regular users of websites to buy products, our brains are now wired to expect CTA buttons on websites as well as in social media content. Pins are no exception.

In the pin below, you can see the phrase “Go For It” stands out clearly despite the other elements in this pin.

pinterest call to action example

The call to action in this graphic is “Go For It” but it stands out because it looks like a button.

To incorporate this approach in your own Pinterest marketing, create a pinnable image that combines a clear text-based call to action with an element that resembles a button. The urge to click on the button translates to a click on your pin.

#3: Pique Curiosity With the Promise to Reveal More

One thing that makes people click through from a pin to a website is something popularly known as a curiosity gap. There are a few ways to introduce the curiosity gap into your pins; you can use the title, the description, or a text overlay on your pin image.

Whether you use one or all three of the options available, use them to deliver a promise of vital information that will improve the lives of people who view your pin. People will click on your pin with the expectation that you’ll provide that information on the page your pin links to.

In the pin below, Brilliant Business Moms promises to help people get more done in a day, but doesn’t tell them how. The curiosity gap is born.

pinterest pique curiosity example

You won’t know what the 8-minute secret is until you click this pin.

Creating a curiosity gap between the information you promise through the pin and the information you deliver on your website helps your followers decide to click more quickly.

#4: Capitalize on the Fear of Missing Out

People are driven to check out offers that create a sense of urgency; offers that expire in a short time, products that are limited-edition or about to go out of stock, or information that the rest of the world knows about. The sense of urgency creates FOMO, or the fear of missing out.

FOMO is what makes people grab the opportunity to use a discount, knowing that the offer will be gone in 24 hours. FOMO is why you click and buy something immediately because it’s almost out of stock.

The pin below makes viewers nervous that they’ll miss out on a product that will no longer be available to them if they don’t click-through now and buy it.

pinterest fomo example

Using FOMO, or the Fear of Missing Out, is a powerful way to encourage viewers to click on your pin.

As in this example, you can play subtly (but clearly) on the fear that there is something the reader will miss if they don’t click and act immediately. Use it to get people to make your pins click-worthy.

Conclusion

Pinterest is one of the best sources of traffic for many websites and blogs. This is especially true for online shops and thus a lot of small businesses want to find out more about how Pinterest works. Here’s the catch, however: Pinterest is a very saturated market space where businesses clamor for attention.

Most studies on Pinterest talk about getting more repins, shares, and likes, all of which are great, but don’t really matter to a business that needs traffic, leads, conversions, and sales.

If you want real growth and are looking toward Pinterest as a viable channel, you have to design pins that get people to click on them. With the help of the tips discussed in this article, you can optimize your pins for clicks and drive more traffic to your website or blog.

What do you think? Have you used any of these psychological triggers to get more Pinterest users to click your pins? What tactics have worked well for your business? Please let us know in the comments below!

use pinterest to drive traffic to your site

Tips on how to create pins that encourage people to click through to your site.

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