All posts in ROI

Measuring Tape

Search Engine Optimization is a big, never-ending undertaking.  If it doesn’t result in a strong ROI, then the worth is questionable.  Rather than giving up entirely, it is better to learn from the data and alter efforts as needed.  There are several parts of the SEO puzzle that can be monitored.

Keyword Stats It is important to track the traffic to your website, but that hardly paints the full picture.  Success with branded keywords (which are those that include your specific brand name) simply suggests that people already familiar with the brand are searching for it.  The real picture of new growth is seen by examining success with non-branded keywords.  Follow the path below to see which keywords are working for you:

Google Analytics  > Acquisition > Keywords > Organic

Here, the keywords will be listed with their individual statistics.  You can exclude terms with your brand using the advanced search filters available at the top of the screen.

Inbound Link Count There are a number of tools available on the web that will give you a read out on the number of inbound links there are leading to your website.  Successful SEO depends a great deal on others linking to your site.  So, it is a very good idea to regularly check this count and to change tactics if the number is not climbing.  Small SEO Tools’ Backlink Checker is one example of the free services available for this purpose.

Visitor Quality You got them there, but that doesn’t mean that they saw any value in your site and if a person is coming and leaving in less than a minute, it doesn’t bode well for your ROI.  Fortunately, Google Analytics provides a great deal of information about the visitors to your site.  The Behavior report includes stats on the number of Unique Visitors (people seeing it for the first time), the Bounce Rate (the percentage of people who didn’t bother delving beyond the first page they saw), and the Average Visit Duration.  These can really paint a clear picture of what is happening when someone logs onto the site.  It can also point to a need for changes to content or design.

Keeping track of these SEO statistics is a great way to see how well your efforts are drawing in potential customers, but ultimately the ROI will come down to have the sales figures are impacted.  You might consider tracking your conversions with Google Analytics’ Multi-Channel Funnels

Optical Microscope 1A/B testing is an invaluable tool for website owners. If you don’t test it, you can improve. Do your visitors respond to this type of graphic or that? Does the red CTA generate for click-throughs than the green? Does integrating social prove increase CTRs? If you have it on your site, you can – and should – test it! Google’s Content Experiments is a tool that allows you to do just that.

What is Content Experiments?

This Google tool allows you to test up to 10 versions of a landing page to determine which specific changes yield the biggest improvements in conversion rates. It’s not straight A/B, then, which compares two versions, and it’s not multivariate, in which you test various combinations of different onpage elements. Instead, you can test up to 10 versions with separate URLs.

Improving Conversion Rates

The following tips will help you use Content Experiments to boost your conversion rates:

  • Focus on a goal. Do you want to increase opt-ins for newsletter subscriptions by 10%? Do you want to increase sales by 15% Whatever your goal, clearly define it. Make sure it is reasonable and achievable, or testing will only frustrate you.
  • Even though you can test up to 10 versions of your landing pages, target one feature at a time. Why? Because you won’t know which specific element is the one either attracting visitors or increasing bounce rates. You could, for instance, test your CTA. The versions remain much the same except for the CTAs. Test the call to action copy, the color, the style of the button. When you have your data, move on to the next critical element.
  • Analyze your traffic and decide on a timeframe. In general, the lower your daily traffic, the longer you should run your tests. Say you have a few hundred hits per day: take a week or so to collect data. Send the majority of your traffic to the test site to accelerate the process.
  • Optimise Ads. Google now allows AdSense users to use Content Experiments to optimise ads. You can experiment with placement and size to determine where you’re getting the most bang for your advertising buck.

Google provides a host of free tools for webmasters; this is one you definitely want to take advantage of.

Server Concept 3

Site speed is critical for optimal performance. Studies show that the average user will wait 6-10 seconds for a page to load – but they’re not going to be happy about it, and many bounce when they encounter even a second or two of delay. One of the ways that you can shave off some time is to opt for a content delivery network, or CDN? How does this work, and is it a good choice for your business and website?

What is a CDN?

Don’t be intimidated: it’s just a network! Typically, when a visitor comes to your site, he is redirected to your webhost server, which could be next door or a half a continent away. When a high volume of visitors sends requests to the server at the same time, it can lead to sluggish load times. CDNs solve tackle this problem on two fronts:

  • CDNs utilize a network of server, reducing the chances that you’ll overload any one server with high volume requests.
  • Visitors are redirected to servers closest to their geographical location, which speeds up the entire process.

Other benefits include:

  • Improved user experience and decreasing bounce rates.
  • Customer retention.
  • Greater network security and reduced risk of crashes.
  • Seamless delivery of content, including video streaming.
  • Removal of global barriers and expansion of reach.
  • Cachable files for reduced load times.

Is there any reason why a CDN is not an optimal solution? Cost is a major issue. It may not be useful for a small business, for instance, to invest in a CDN given the startup costs and maintenance fees. While large companies can save money by serving faster content, the same may not apply to smaller entities.

Another issue is that you’re sharing resources; if other customers within your particular CDN are experience high volumes of traffic, it could impact your load times. And, as always when you introduce more moving parts, there is a risk that there could be failures somewhere along the delivery line. Now, this is true no matter what server option you choose, but it’s something to consider.

Is a CDN right for you? Weigh the increased speed against the cost. Will it provide a solid ROI, or can you get by with a centralised web server? There is no right answer – just the one that will benefit your business most.

Measurement

Content marketing moves away from a hard sell and focuses on the story. Instead of badgering customers to buy, the goal is to provide them information, to address their concerns, to answer their questions, to position yourself as the trusted, credible authority. (And then, sell them some stuff. Well, business is business!.) Establishing a relationship is critical: Are you connecting with the audience? Are they connecting with you? Paying attention to engagement metrics is one of the most important steps in effective content marketing.

Some key metrics to look at:

  • Start with the usual suspects. How many retweets, likes,+1s, pins, etc.? What type of comments are people leaving? Reviews, ratings? Start here, but don’t end here!
  • Unique visitors. How many distinct visitors came to your site? Give it parameters so you can track and compare more easily. For instance, how many unique visitors did you get this week vs. last week? This month vs. last month? This quarter and year vs. last quarter and year? Now, remember, someone could visit your site 1000 times in a day, but he or she is just one unique visitor. So this metric tells you a part of the story.
  • Page views. This tells you another part. If a visitor clicks through to different pages, each page loaded is a page view. This is an important number to look at, particularly if you do paid ads. Again, put parameters around it to track and compare, and use this to determine which pages are getting the click-throughs.
  • Average stay. How long are people camping out on your site? Are they bouncing from the landing page, or are they taking the time to get to know you? This is where good content marketing shines: the goal is to get people interested and to encourage them to dig deeper into your content and website. This also makes the common problem of developing enough solid content more pressing! You’ve got to give them something to dig into! (But that’s a story for another day!)
  • Bounce rate. High=bad. Low=good.
  • Return visits. High=good!
  • Conversions. Use a CRM to track visitors and their progress through the sales funnel. Some good options include SugarCRM, Salesforce, or InfusionSoft.

Connect with your audience with great content, and then make looking at these reports a regular part of your strategy.

Think social media is taking up a bit more of your time than you’d like? It’s certainly possible, especially when you start to break things down by the numbers. Understanding exactly what your social media ROI looks like could help you sculpt your efforts in the upcoming year.

A good place to start is with metrics tools. There are lots of them floating around out there. HootSuite has come good ones, as does Social Mention and Clout. Facebook Insights is another great choice. This level of data is likely to get overwhelming fast, so you may want to understand a bit more about what you’re looking for before you dive in.

Simply evaluating your interactions can also be a solid way to measure your ROI. Look at what customers are saying, what they’re posting, which videos they’re linking to. It can help you understand what you’re doing right, what you’re doing wrong, and how people respond to your overall efforts.

One final way to track your social media ROI is to look at the site analytics themselves. Look at how many people end up on your site thanks to your various social media channels. If necessary, you may want to contrast that data against the information you get from your PPC campaign.

The best way to measure your ROI in the world of social media may be a combination of techniques. There aren’t any comprehensive tools that are going to do everything for you, but developing your own methodology over time can help you look at how much you’re getting out of these platforms that you pour so much time and effort into.

You want your site to be at the top of the listings no matter what, right? Many throw off the chains of optimisation in favor of ads for a variety of reasons. Before you make a move one way or the other, there are several things you may want to consider.

The Benefits of Ads

Paid ads offer you several benefits over organic optimisation. For starters, they pay off at a far faster rate than their counterpart. They can also work well with your other efforts. Google has published information that suggests paid ads offer an 89% lift in site visitors, even over your own SEO efforts. Ads also offer you instant access to a level of trackability that you don’t always find with organic optimisation.

Organic Optimisation

Before you start to cancel your SEO service, though, you may want to look at what natural SEO has to offer. A 2012 survey published by eConsultancy suggested that search engine users click on organic results at a rate of 94 percent while they click on ads at a rate of just 6 percent. What’s more, though, is that those who organically rank at the top end up with far higher click through rates than advertisers do.

The Verdict: It’s optimisation by a long shot, but if you simply can’t make it work or you don’t have time for it to move forward, go with the ads. You’ll get at least some semblance of results then.

WritingGoogle rolled out its authorship tag a few years back, but 2013 has really been the year of the rel-author. It can have a substantial effect on your visibility, authority, and credibility. Those who implement Google authorship see higher click-through rates and begin to build a name for themselves, which in the blogging world, is crucial. One study found that when authors added this snippet, they increased clicks by 150 percent. That’s worth taking the nominal time and effort to put it into action.

Here’s the lowdown on setting up your authorship snippet:

  1. Log into your Google+ account. If you don’t have one – why not! Sign up and verify your email address. Make sure you use an email address with the same domain as your blog.
  2. To verify your authorship, you have to have a rel=”author” tag on your content page, which points back to your Google profile. Make sure this is not visible by site visitors.
  3. In the Profile section, select Edit Profile > Contributor to. Here, you will be able to list the sites to which you contribute. Simply label the site or blog and paste the URL in the box.
  4. Select who will see the Author Rank. Public is best, but you can restrict it to those within your circles or extended circles.
  5. Save, and repeat if you have multiple sites to list.
  6. Scroll up to Other Profiles. If you have pages that are about you, such as a YouTube channel or social media profiles. Add and save.
  7. Now you can select Finish Editing and View As to get a preview of how your snippet will appear.
  8. Use Google’s Rich Snippet Testing Tool to see if you’ve done everything correctly.

Using the authorship tag will highlight you in search results and increase your authority. It’s a relatively quick process, and a free one, at that, which delivers a great ROI.

History has a funny way of repeating itself. The good old days when the grocer knew every customer’s name, culinary preferences and marital escapades were quickly replaced by the detachment and stiffness of the industrial era. Big scales, automation, and the commercial marketing techniques brutally cut the warm-hearted connection between the retailer and its customers.

eCommerce

Today, the eRetailers are making significant efforts to re-enact that special bond with their clients, as part of their odyssey to gain trust, loyalty, appreciation, and naturally, bigger sales.

The advent of the Social Media turned the wheel in favour of the consumers. Its exponential growth over the last few years triggered the frenetic chase for eCustomers, right where they like to hang out the most: on the social networks.

By now, pretty much all online and offline retailers know they cannot continue treating customers as masses. And those who don’t … are probably learning it the hard way. People’s voluntary submission to social media made it possible for everything to become personalised. And thus, companies and brands came to learn their names, culinary preferences and, if they don’t cover their online traces well, even their marital escapades.

Oh well!

 

Make Social Media Matter to your Business

Let’s say you are an Online Communications Manager. As the one responsible for Social Media in your company, you have a hot potato in your hands. If you still think in terms of B2C, switch to P2P! Person to person, that is.

You get a carte blanche to dodge the rigid corporate identity rules and to connect in a more friendly, more direct and more entertaining manner. But does it mean you should be experimenting with rhetoric and hope for the best? We don’t think your CEO would like it. And you might give a bad name to all those content editors out there.

Instead, make Social Media “matter”, and by this I mean make it contribute to the company’s objectives.  One way to demonstrate its efficiency is to keep track of the business metric ‘return on investment’, or ROI.

Let’s go through the ROI formula:

Return on investment calculation

Here are three things you need to check on your list in order to make sure your Social Media activity is influent and you are actually bringing revenue in for your company.

 

1.    Tie Social Media to Business Performance

It all starts with defining your objectives clearly. Now, having fuzzy goals is pretty much one of the most common mistakes in business. People invest a lot of time and money in their companies, but when the time comes to measuring their results, everything becomes uncertain. It’s like throwing darts into a white wall.

Reaching business goals

“We want to increase our number of clients” is the perfect example of fuzzy goal. Does it mean that one more client would do? Or maybe ten thousand? The correct formulation would be, for instance: “We want to increase our number of clients by 20%”. Thank you, this is much clearer!

When it comes to Social Media objectives, things get even more complicated. Contrary to popular belief, Social Media does not have self-standing objectives. Remember! Being popular on web is not a business objective.

Social Media activities offer support to other business functions of the company, which already have their own goals. So you just have to plug in!

Voilà!

 

Basically, your task is to translate into company revenues your recently acquired, let’s say, ten thousand followers on Facebook. If 20% of them make an acquisition on your website, than you contributed to the sales objectives. If the customer support costs are reduced by 20% because more clients benefit from largely broadcasted online support, then you’re doing great here.

With LinkedIn, you can help the HR team to hire top professionals without having to pay a fortune in head-hunters fee’s. Checking out your competitors’ Social Media pages can give you instant access to valuable business intelligence. For Marketing and PR, Social Media input is the most obvious: instant direct dissemination and online reputation management. The golden rule stays the same:

Marketing golden rule

2.    Measuring the true cost of Social Media

You know there is no such thing as a free lunch, right? Then you know very well that Social Media, even if it runs on free online platforms, is not really free. In fact, there are a lot of costs involved.

Time. Ask yourself how much time you spend on Social Media. Is it worth it? Do you find yourself spending many hours every day posting updates, making comments, responding to messages, checking out competition and answering everyone’s comment and remarks? Try to find equilibrium between giving followers a close, personalised approach and managing your time efficiently. Put a time limit on every activity and stick to it, no matter what!

Time management

Human resources. If your company is bigger, you need to grow and manage a team of communication specialists. That means your department has to budget salaries for these people, taxes, benefits, and whatever HR costs it may imply.

Specialists. Whether you do it for a single project or for ongoing support, you most likely benefit from the input of SEO specialised agencies, web designers, advertising professionals and all those people that can make you look good online. Some of them may have substantial fees. However, nowadays competition is quite tough, which gives you a good hand to negotiate costs in your favour. And since they are good at what they’re doing, the return can be generous.

Equipment. There are countless gadgets that are launched ever so often, and you have to keep up with the technology, right? Laptops, tablets, smart phones … who can work without them? And they don’t come cheap. To these, you can add, of course, connection fees.

Productions costs. There has been a rampant increase in the visual content on Social Media in the last few years. Quite frankly, if you don’t have good quality photos, video, presentations, animations, applications and other such visual materials, your message gets washed out in the see of colourfulness and effervescence that Social Media has become.

Subscription web tools. In order to monitor and manage your workload, you probably use several web tools that offer a free or paid version. You may want to upgrade your HubSpot, Batchbook, Earlyimpact, MailChimp, HootSuite, NetVibes, or any other solution you embraced, to the Pro version. They usually offer valuable analytics for a reasonable fee and they help tremendously with time management.

 

3.    Measuring the effect of your campaign

Remember, if you can’t count it, it’s fuzzy. That’s why, when it comes to measuring performance, business professionals use the Key Performance Indicators, or KPI’s. Basically, it relates to hitting a specific target and it depends, naturally, on what you want to measure. Clicks, visits, fans, likes, followers, tweets, registrations to webinars, newsletter subscriptions, they are all potential Social Media KPIs.

Key Performance Indicator

So, as a direct consequence of our first two recommendations, you know by now that you should measure only what is relevant to your activity objectives. Otherwise, there are so many internet measuring tools out there, that you can spend the rest of your life measuring things that are neither critical, nor relevant to your campaign.

Let’s say your company sells shoes. And the Sales goal is to increase the volume by 20%. That translates into selling 1,000 pairs of shoes from the Spring – Summer ‘13 collection, known as “La Vampe”.

What would be the Social Media KPIs in regards to the sales objectives, for the period?

For example, something like this:

  • 10 000 likes on Facebook on the “La Vampe” fan page
  • 500 re-Pins of the shoes picture on Pinterest
  • 10 000 new click-throughs of links leading to “La Vampe” web content
  • 100 redeemed discount codes for “La Vampe” on the eStore.

It is important that you establish before you begin a Social Media campaign what data you want to track. It is equally important to have the means to correctly correlate it with the respective sales statistics. Now, this could be quite tricky if you don’t have access to data, which, depending on the company, can fall under the task of Sales, IT or Accounting departments.

In order to establish your Social Media activity contribution to Sales, here are some important numbers you should be able to track:

  • transactions per month
  • new customers
  • number of customers returns
  • amount spent per transaction
  • use of promo codes, vouchers
  • data from the same period in the past, to compare against.

Sales represent the most tangible business function, therefore the most obvious one to measure. But don’t let other functions, such as HR, Customer Support, Marketing & PR, go off your radar. Your activity can have a positive impact and you want to add it to your achievements. Make sure you collect and compare data from these departments and measure the difference your campaign makes.

 

Can you think of anything else I may have missed when measuring the effect of a social media campaign?