Monthly Archives: May 2013

9 Ways to Use Google Analytics to Improve Your Business

Google AnalyticsThe odds are good that if you are a regular reader of these pages that you know what Google Analytics is. If you don’t, you are either very new to the Internet marketing world or you have been running your business from a cave somewhere for the past 10 years or so.

The thing is, while most of us know about Google Analytics and many of us even have an account with them (some even go so far as to join Bing Analytics though it’s still a very distant second to the Google behemoth), few of us really know how to use the service to our advantage from a business perspective. Most of us just glance at the statistics once in a long while (if at all) then shrug.

Here are 9 ways to make Google Analytics work harder for your business so that you can do what you set out to do – make more money online:

Set Some Goals

In essence, goals are designed to allow you to track whether or not your website is doing what you want it to do. So for example, you might set up a goal which allows you to track for a specific number of visits or a specific duration of visits to your site.

Your goals can have four basic types of criteria. You can simply choose that you want a specific number of people to visit a specific portion of your site (so for example if you run an online store, a goal might be a specific number of people visiting the checkout page).

You can also choose to track visit duration. This is important because it will tell you how long people spent visiting your website. Typically, the longer the average visit, the better you are communicating to your customers.

Bounce rate is another important goal option. This is how often someone drops by, reads what you have there and then leaves to go elsewhere. I found for example by setting up goals that while I’m getting customers to stay engaged with my site (they spent a significant amount of time there), they also tend to read the one article they found through a search and then move on to somewhere else.

Finally, you can track events, for example how often they clicked on a particular link on your site.

While you can of course track all this on your own, the fact that Google allows you to track it automatically means that it’s easier to visually see whether or not you are getting where you want to get with your site.

Link to Webmaster Tools

Another oft forgotten feature of Google Analytics is that it can also display information from your Google Webmaster Tools account. To be totally honest, I’ve never understood why exactly Analytics and Webmaster Tools are separate. Webmaster Tools allows you to check information about how well your site is doing in the search results on Google.

You can find information there about the number of times your site shows up in search results, where in the results it shows up and even diagnostic information that Google’s web crawler prepares when it searches your site for additional content.

Another nice feature at Webmaster Tools is the ability to check how many people have +1ned your website. Finally, you will also be able to see some additional search engine optimization reports offered directly by Google. For example, you can find out:

Which keywords are getting lots of impressions of your site but not that many clicks so that you can try to tweak your descriptions to get people to click them more often.

Which pages have great click through rates but poor rankings in Google, meaning that you need to do more link building to push them up in the SERPs.

Get Your Site Speed Reports

Site Speed is another great feature that is offered by the kind folks at Google. In essence, site speed tests how long it takes your website to load up with a variety of different popular browsers. The faster your site loads, the more likely people are to stick around and actually see what you have to tell them.

I found out when I glanced at Site Speed for example that IE users are having a very bad experience when visiting my website while Chrome users see it load up reasonably fast. I’ll need to do some investigations to figure out why the speed is so different between different browsers but armed with this knowledge, I can potentially improve the user experience and as a result increase the number of customers.

A look at the Map Overlay section of the Site Speed Report can also tell you how long it’s taking your customers in various parts of the world to access your site and how many customers are in fact doing so from each country.

Check Site Search

One of the many nice features offered by Google to site owners is a custom search engine which allows people to search through your website to find information they need on it. This can be especially important when you have an ecommerce site but even an ordinary blog can benefit greatly from this kind of feature.

You can set up a custom search bar on your site relatively easily by inserting a bit of code into the header or sidebar of your website. This allows you to potentially keep many more visitors engaged with your site and as such, hopefully purchasing whatever it is that you sell there. By tracking how many people used your site’s search bar in Google Analytics, you can see how engaged your visitors actually are.

Event Tracking

You may recall that I mentioned in the goals section that it is possible to track events in Google Analytics. In essence, events can be anything your customers do on your website. You can track how often they visit the checkout page, how often they download your free guide, how often specific ads are clicked and even how often and how a video gets looked at.

In short, event tracking allows you to see pretty much everything that your customers do as they interact with your website and see how often it happens. This is very valuable information because it can allow you to tweak your site and see if you can improve the numbers for specific events (i.e. for the number of times people get to your checkout page or even finish checking out).

It is also possible to track how often they get an error message when they get to your checkout page by the way which is vital to ensuring that you get the maximum number of possible customers for your products. You can find instructions for event tracking on Google’s website.

It’s really not that difficult so don’t let the bit of coding required get you too nervous. However, if you feel you can’t do it, try hiring a pro to handle it. Since this is a very simple job, you could likely even post a gig request on Fiverr to have the job done.

Multiple Sources for Referrals

Google refers to this as “multi-channel funnels” but I think that’s a bit of a confusing name for this feature. Regardless of what they call it though, this is a very awesome tool which you should be using to track your customers. In essence, the multi-channel funnels feature allows you to see all the different ways that a particular visitor was referred to your website.

Say for example that you have a customer whom you know was referred to your website from your Twitter feed. From there, they proceeded to purchase whatever product you have for sale.  Okay, so you know that the Twitter feed got you a sale. However, in reality, it’s not so simple. Most people don’t make a purchase the first time they visit your website.

I have seen various estimates but often it takes as many as seven visits before a potential customer will make a purchase. This is one reason that AdWords allows you to track a visitor – by tracking them and allowing them to be reminded of what they previously looked at, you are likely to get repeat visits and ultimately, a sale.

The multi-channel funnels feature (and again, I think multiple source referrals is a better term but whatever) allows you to see the entire progression that a customer took in order to make their purchase from you. So you might then learn that they first found you in a search. Then they decided to subscribe to your Twitter feed, then made a purchase. Heck, they might even have a few other steps in between.

By seeing the entire sales funnel instead of just the final piece of the puzzle, you are better able to evaluate which features are more valuable (and thus worth investing in) and which ones are not so valuable (and thus worth dropping or at least cutting down on).  Google has an excellent YouTube video which explains how this works and how to implement it.

Check Your AdWords Stats

Yet another great feature in Google Analytics is the ability to break out information based on where people came from when they visited your website. This means for example that it is possible to track what happened when people visited from a search engine or when they visited from an AdWords campaign.

This is especially valuable information because you want to ensure that the people coming from Adwords are more likely to be those making actual purchases instead of just dropping by for freebies (you do pay for Adwords after all). You will need to link up your Adwords and Analytics accounts to make this happen.

To be honest by the way, I often wonder why Google insists on asking you to manually link up all these different accounts. They can all run under a single user name (I have all my Google services under my personal Gmail account even though some are purely business and some are personal use only) but I guess one could create multiple accounts for tracking purposes…

Real-time Reporting

Real time reporting on Google Analytics is great because you can see from moment to moment what’s happening on your website. You’ll be able to see how many people are visiting, from where they are visiting, which page they are looking at and how long they spend on the site.

While you could of course see all this information by checking past statistics, seeing it in real time means being able to better gauge how your customers interact with your site and what they are doing on it at any given time. You can find real time reports by clicking on the Real time reporting link on the left side of your Google Analytics dashboard.

Speaking of Dashboards

Finally, speaking of dashboards, they can be customized with whatever information you feel is most relevant to your own needs. This means for example that you can see your real time statistics alongside the stats for the past month, year or since the site was created. You can add up to 20 different custom dashboards to Analytics by clicking on customize dashboard.

You can then choose from either a totally customized dashboard or using one of the presets that Google offers and then tweaking it to your own needs.

Bottom Line

Google Analytics is one of the most powerful tools that any Internet marketer has at his or her disposal. It is an absolutely vital tool and one that too few of us fully utilize (I include myself in that category by the way). Feel free to share below your own tips and tricks for making the most of Analytics.

10 Ways to Boost Your E-mail Signups

boosting e-mail list signupsBoosting your e-mail signups should be a priority if you are determined to make real money online. The old saying about how the “money is in the list” is just as true today as it was years ago. In fact, it’s probably more so than ever. In spite of all the fancy ways we can do marketing, by getting messages out through social media and other means, sending good old fashioned e-mail is still the single best way to do things.

Of course, e-mail has changed over the years. I’ve had an e-mail address since I was around 12 years old (I’m going to be 40 next year – yeah, I feel old but they say that 40 is the new 30 so who knows?). Back then, I had multiple e-mail addresses because there really was no such thing as interoperability between different addresses. I had a CompuServe address and a GENie address and even at one time, a Prodigy address.

Today, simply sending out any old e-mail to your customers isn’t going to cut it. Your e-mails need to be sophisticated and worth looking at. But let’s say that you have that covered – you know to send out slick e-mails with good material which is actually useful to your customers.

Now what? After all, the old adage about building a better mousetrap isn’t true in the Internet age. Today, it’s who builds a better marketing campaign around their mousetrap. I’ve been doing some research and found 10 really great ideas to share with you on how to make your e-mail lists pop and get more people signing up. Here’s what you need to know:

Don’t Offer a Newsletter. Offer a Magazine

Ever notice how every guy and his brother has an “info packed newsletter” they are just dying to offer you for free? Some of them may even be pretty good (the one we send out here at QuantumSEO Labs for example). The trouble is, too many people see this and groan – another waste of time e-mail list where I’ll get “newsletters” about the latest junk product they want to sell me.

But what if instead of offering yet another “newsletter,” you offered a “magazine?” It’s not nearly as hard as it may sound by the way. Your “magazine” doesn’t have to be 50 pages with original stories and images. You could easily put together a magazine once a month with one or two original articles, maybe one or two good PLR pieces and then a couple of pieces from article directories.

You can even find pictures to include in your magazine by using a free service on EveryStockPhoto. Oh and as for layout, it’s relatively easy to do it using Microsoft Word. Or you can hire a pro to do the job for you (by the way, I offer this service for anyone interested).

Now, is this more work than just sending out a single item e-mail once a week? You bet it is. But is it worth it? You bet it is. Ultimately, if you can boost both your e-mail signups and your retention of clients by a significant number through this, the extra work is worth it. Plus, there’s no reason that you can’t do your magazine as a monthly instead of weekly publication. When it looks slick, people will look forward to getting it each month.

Offer a Free Tool or Software

E-mail signups are so blasé. They’re old fashioned and everybody has them. However, there are other ways to grab people to sign up for your e-mail list. One of my favorite methods for doing is to use a tool or piece of software which will allow you to grab people’s e-mail address. In essence, people will download the software and then, built right into the software, it requires you to sign up to use it.

This kind of method actually grabs thousands more e-mail addresses than anything else simply because people are conditioned to actually provide their e-mail when setting up a piece of software. It’s the perfect way to grab people’s e-mail addresses. Of course, you do need to ensure that you have some kind of software program or tool which people actually would want to give away their e-mail address to use.

Also, it’s important that you ask for the e-mail address after people download and start setting up the software. Don’t ask them to give their e-mail address in order to get the software. That’s no different than giving away a free gift.

By actually embedding the request in the software, you are much more likely to grab signups. Plus, you can also spread the software far and wide to download services in order to increase still further the number of people who will sign up to your mailing list.

Now as far as getting the software made, you can either buy any number of commercially available tools or you can just go to a site like Elance in order to hire someone to make something for you at a relatively low cost.

Use a Custom QR Code

The odds are that you’ve seen them somewhere – advertisements on billboards often have QR codes which are designed to allow people to download some free item or get a coupon in exchange for signing up. However, as with many things, these tend to be a bit blasé. Everyone has QR codes and they are so 2008.

Instead, consider using a custom QR code. In essence, these kinds of codes embed a graphic image inside of the QR code in order to attract more attention. The way they work is by taking advantage of QR codes’ error redundancy.

The design for QR codes means that even if they are not complete, they’ll often work just fine. This allows skillful graphic artists to create a QR code, change the color of it and then embed some kind of a cool graphic (your logo for example) in the code. Instantly, your QR code becomes unique and interesting, allowing you to improve the odds of getting e-mail signups for your list.

You can find software programs which will make these automatically but I suggest that if you want one that really looks good, you get a pro to make them for you. A professional graphic artist can make the difference in a custom QR code which just looks nice or one that truly pops.

Keep Asking

First of all, do not put a sign up sheet which pops up the second you visit the site. Let people visit for a bit and then ask them to sign up for your e-mail list with one of those pop ups. This will ensure that you aren’t annoying people who just dropped by before they ever get to see what it is that you have for sale at your website.

However, at the same time, you should have sign up options in several places. Include a sign up box on the sidebar as well as having a pop up which lets people sign up. Don’t be “in your face” about them but do keep them in lots of different places. This will allow you to grab people who are interested but who didn’t want to be bothered by your opening pop up just then.

By the way, you may also want to stick a sign up form into your articles themselves so that they get noticed. People do tend to be somewhat ad blind which means that you need to put your ads into places where people are much more likely to notice them in order to grab some more e-mail addresses.

Oh and don’t be afraid to make your sign up noticeable without being flashy. In other words, some graphics are fine but for the love of all that’s holy, don’t go putting in flashing text or something like that. You’ll just annoy people and they’ll want to run in the opposite direction from your website,

Be Careful about Your Signup Button

I’ve written about this in various places in the past but it’s always worth repeating because so many people make the same mistake over and over again. Too many people leave the signup button with the word “submit” on it. If you take a quick gander at the dictionary though you can see why this is such a horrible idea:

I mean seriously, do you want your customers to associate you with something that sounds like slavery? Instead, consider changing the text of your signup button to something fun like “give me free stuff.” Or even “sign up.” But never put down something like submit which just has some terrible connotations even if not everyone knows what it is.

By the way, even though some people may not realize that the word submit is in fact something very negative, it doesn’t really make a difference. The fact remains that you want to stand out from the crowd. By having something a little more interesting for your signup button, you are more likely to grab customers who are interested in signing up.

Don’t be Too Nosy

This is another thing I’ve written about before but it’s definitely worth mentioning it again. I get wanting to gather as much information as you possibly can from your customers so that you can better target your e-mails. The thing is, people see these kinds of requests as being very intrusive. This means that you are less likely to grab good signups for your list.

Remember that you don’t need to know someone’s birthday in order to send them your free newsletter (or magazine as I mentioned above). On the other hand, if you want to grab more information, make your offer something that does require that information. For example, if you want a physical address, offer something that needs to be mailed.

Even better, consider offering something which you charge a token amount for. Even just 50 cents or a dollar works. By doing this, you’ll avoid the freebie seekers and also get that extra information without sounding like you are trying too hard to grab extra information which you don’t really “need.”

Let Your Customers Tell Their Friends

When you send out a thank you e-mail (and by the way, you are sending out a thank you e-mail right? If not, you should be doing so and it should actually include their name instead of just being a total form letter), consider sending out a note allowing your customers to tell their friends on social media.

You can for example include plenty of buttons which can be used to share what your customers just signed up for by sharing on Twitter, Facebook and others. It also helps to offer these customers something extra in exchange for agreeing to share your deal with their friends. Even a 10% off coupon can often be a good inducement to get people to share what you have to offer with their friends.

Don’t Make People Jump through Hoops

You know what I’m talking about – instead of putting your signup page on a separate page and including a link to it, have the actual signup form directly on the front page or in the pop up. The fact is that the more steps you make your customers jump through in order to sign up for ypur e-mail list, the more likely they are to simply give up and walk away. Make it as simple and painless as possible and they’ll be much more likely to sign up.

Tell People Their Privacy Will Be Respected

Be sure to put up a privacy statement which everyone can easily access on your site. Don’t be afraid to use a form letter and ensure that you tell people exactly what you intend to do with their information. The more detail you go into, the more likely you are to get people to sign up. Quite honestly, if you are honest that you may sell the list, you’re still more likely to get signups than if you were to simply forget about your privacy statement and or if you try to hide that fact in dense legalese.

Keep Testing

Finally, split testing is the single best way to ensure that you get the maximum number of signups. There are WordPress plugins which will allow you to split test by putting different versions of your squeeze page or pop up page onto the same site. This will allow you to track who is signing up with which squeeze page and fine tune it to maximize your signups.

12 Tips for Making the Most of Your Pinterest Account

pinterest logoThe odds are very good that you have at least heard of Pinterest. If you haven’t then I’ll include a brief explanation below. For the rest of us, Pinterest is the newest sensation and the thing that everyone seems to feel they need to master. I know I need to master it too and so I’ve been doing a ton of research to find all the best tips and tricks on how to use Pinterest effectively. Here’s what you need to know:

About Pinterest

Folks who know what Pinterest is and how it works can skip this section. For those who are new to online marketing or who just haven’t been paying attention for the past couple of years, Pinterest is in essence a pin board. It’s a place for people to share pictures they found elsewhere on the web or that they uploaded to the site.

Why would you care about this? Well to put it simply, if you want to drive traffic to your site, having a great Pinterest account is the way to do it. Pinterest allows you to either grab images from an existing website (be careful here because there are questions of copyright on the images) or to upload images of your own.

There are currently millions of pin boards dedicated to all manner of different things, from the zany to the mundane.  Many people actually run multiple Pinterest boards in order to showcase their specific interests. The big advantage for you as an Internet marketer is that Pinterest will allow you to sell to new potential customers by driving more traffic to your website.

That’s the very brief intro to Pinterest. You can find lots of tutorials online telling you what it is and why it’s so popular but let’s get into some specific tips I’ve gleaned on how to make this social network shine for you.

Remember that Content is Still King

No matter how often I mention this to folks, it seems they think there is some magic trick they can use to get away with ignoring it. Fact: nobody is going to care about your Pinterest board if you don’t have something interesting to share on it.

This means that if all you plan to do is grab images from Amazon.com and then hope people will click them and buy from you, you’re wasting your time.

In fact, it is best to ensure that the content you post onto your Pinterest board is not always exclusively about your business. There is actually nothing wrong with posting some photos from your own family and making your Pinterest board more personal.

Be Careful on Descriptions

Neither Google nor any other service can search exclusively based on a picture. Even though there are some services which can compare photographs, the fact is that you still need great descriptions with good keyword usage if you want to get people to notice your Pinterest board.

Be sure to make the descriptions interesting as well as relevant to whatever it is that you are putting up on the site. Don’t be afraid to get descriptive but at the same time, don’t use the keyword over and over again. That will just get you labeled as a spammer. Finally, be sure that you keep your descriptions to around 200-300 characters (although 500 characters are allowed, shorter descriptions will show up complete in search results).

Consider Building Your Board in Secret

Pinterest has a pretty cool feature available which allows you to build an entire board without allowing anyone to see it as you are adding content to the board. The big advantage of this is that you can add things in over time and then spring it on the world so that it appears as if it’s a huge, well thought out board instead of something with very little to look at.

Oh and on the same subject, consider the fact that Pinterest boards do take time to mature. Often, it’s best to use the secret feature to build up a board but not to add everything you ever expect to want to add to it. This way, you can use it to build things up slowly but surely so that you have something substantial to show while at the same time, you can build an audience by continuing to add content to the board.

Be Specific

If you look around on Pinterest, you’ll find plenty of pin boards devoted to things like personal finance, Internet marketing, SEO, even recipes. The thing is, these boards are so general that unless they have some kind of major name recognition, nobody is going to pay attention because they simply don’t have the kind of focus they need.

Instead, consider creating pin boards which are highly specific. Instead of just writing about Internet marketing in general, consider doing a board which deals with how to create infographics. Or instead of creating a generalized recipe pin board, try creating a pin board dedicated to making all kinds of great cookies.

Bottom line, try to make your pin board something which actually will develop a niche following as opposed to one which will gather a broader audience.

Keep in Mind Who Your Audience Is

For all that Pinterest has become incredibly popular with a whole lot of people, mostly because it seems to be the kind of website which can make some serious money for people, it still is dominated by women. This means that you need to think carefully about each of your potential pins and make them appropriate for the audience you are targeting.

Mind you, it’s possible to go after other demographics using Pinterest. However, it is important to keep in mind that your potential audience is going to be smaller because the number of potential visitors to your boards will be smaller. But do keep an eye on the demographics at Pinterest as they are changing and it’s useful to know where they are now so you know which audience you need to target.

Don’t Be In a Rush to Post

On Pinterest, quality is much more important than quantity. You want to ensure that you put up really good content which actually grabs people’s attention and gets them to want more as opposed to lots and lots of junk which you post just because you want to post something. It’s kind of like where you don’t need to post every random though on Twitter but want to put up plenty of quality tweets.

Of course, you also do need to make sure that you post plenty of quality pins on Pinterest. Bottom line, strike a balance between trying to post good quality material and posting lots of pins just for the same of posting. Get it right and your pin board will continue to get more popular. Get it wrong and you’ll be wasting your time.

Make a Pin Contest

Another great way to build up your Pinterest board is to create a pin contest. The way this works is that you offer some kind of prize to folks who make the most interesting pin on a specific topic, usually related to whatever your niche happens to be. The beauty of this is that not only do you not have to create the content but the people who post pins on your board will also promote it to their friends.

Of course, you do need to make sure to promote the contest properly so as to get enough people to come by. You should also have a reasonably good prize for the best pin along with a few second and third prizes so that you encourage people to really try to win the prize.  A $25 gift card is not likely to grab the number of people you want to get onto your pin board.

Include Prices

Pinterest actually has a section where their visitors can browse the products available on the site so that they can buy presents for their friends. In order to get listed in this section, you need to include pricing information. Pinterest will automatically find the pricing information and put your products into the appropriate section.

Of course, it also pays to ensure that you have excellent photos of whatever it is that you are selling along with great descriptions which actually sell the product. If you don’t do that, you’ll find that even though you get listed, you may as well be invisible amongst the hundreds of thousands of other products available as gifts on the site.

Don’t Be Afraid to Curate Someone Else’s Content

Pinterest is a lot like many other social networks. It’s much more about being helpful to your fellow Pinterest users than it is about simply giving your customers a look at whatever it is that you happen to have for sale. This means that you should never be afraid to gather up useful pins from your competitors or even from other general sites so that you can help your customers.

Remember – Pinterest is a social network and those who treat it as such are the ones who are by far the most likely to get plenty of traffic to their pin boards. Of course at the same time, do make sure that you get plenty of your own content onto you board and always make sure that you have the legal right to repin whatever it is that you are pinning.

Be Sure to Fill Out Your Profile

Pinterest offers you the opportunity to fill out a profile explaining to the world what your business is about and what you have to offer. The profile will often be read by your potential customers and will also help in getting your boards into the search results. For example, if you run an SEO company, making good use of keywords such as SEO, search engines and the like will help you get noticed.

It is also important to ensure that you keep your profile fun and personal looking. While you do want to be a professional about things, you also want to make yourself sound like a real person. People tend to buy from actual people as opposed to companies which seem more impersonal. So keep a balance between the two and you’ll find that your Pinterest profile can be incredibly important to you.

Say Hello to the Neighbors

Probably the single best way to ensure that you get your pin boards noticed on Pinterest is to show an interest in pin boards owned by others who also share your interests. Drop by pin boards from other people and leave comments on the photos they’ve put up on their boards. Be sure to leave insightful comments as well so it doesn’t look like you’re just trolling for visitors.

You can do a search on Pinterest to find appropriate pictures to comment on but don’t discount the idea of simply dropping by random images as well. These kinds of images are often going to be the ones that get you the best kinds of visitors – to the ones who would never have found your pin board otherwise. So be sure to comment on whatever you find interesting and don’t worry so much if you don’t always comment on things that are related to your own niche.

Consider Using Analytics

Finally, consider using one of the many analytics programs available for use on Pinterest. There are three that I have found, Piqora, Pin League and PinReach. All three services offer largely the same kind of information — who is dropping by your pin boards and how much time they are actually spending there. This kind of information can be invaluable to you when you are trying to figure out which of the photos you’ve pinned seems to resonate the best and which ones have been a waste of time for you.

Bottom Line

The bottom line with all these things though is that you need to be involved. You should actively use Pinterest and participate in the community. If you do it regularly, you are much more likely to get some good results from the service.

by EricHammer, on       Comments are off for this post