Posts in Intermediate: 201
A Look at Google AdWords' Call Metrics

Last Tuesday, Google announced Call Metrics would be rolled out to all AdWords advertisers.  If you're like us, you're always looking for better ways to track what's happening with your AdWords and Analytics data.  Google's Call Metrics provides a missing piece of the puzzle that allows advertisers to track when someone manually dials the phone number listed under an ad without clicking on it.

While Call Extensions data (visible from the Ad Extensions tab) can show you when someone clicks-to-call from a mobile device, Call Metrics tracks phone calls by "assigning and placing a toll-free forwarding number" next to your Google AdWords ads that forwards to the number of your choice.  Each of these manually-dialed calls cost $1 each, while clicks-to-call using Call Extensions relies on your bid.

To enable Call Metrics, you'll need to set up a new Call Extension and check the box to enable Call Metrics.  Once you've enabled Call Metrics for one or more of your campaigns, you can view the data from the Dimensions tab.  Make sure you've selected "Call Details" from the drop-down View menu.

As you can see from one of our accounts below, Call Metrics tracks the start time and end time of the call, status, duration and caller area code.  Based on your lead and sales tracking processes, advertisers now have the ability to attribute specific phone calls to an AdWords campaign in their account.  Being able to attribute these calls to AdWords will be valuable when trying to calculate the most accurate ROI for your ad spend.  For more information about Call Metrics and how to enable it on your current campaigns, read the AdWords help section for step-by-step instructions.

Tagging Your Emails for Google Analytics Tracking
In my last post I discussed the basics of campaign tagging and how it can help you track the performance of your inbound links. In my next few posts I’m going to focus on tagging specific mediums starting today with email. In my opinion, email is the most important medium to tag. My reasoning is threefold.

Mail - All Traffic Sources   Google Analytics

First, your analytics will be terribly skewed if you just send out email campaigns and fail to tag them. People using offline mail applications like Microsoft Outlook will click on your links which will open their default browser and go to your site. This will register as a direct visit which is far from the case. Even worse can be online mail providers like Yahoo which will show up as any number of random referral sources like "us.mg1.mail.yahoo.com" and "36ohk6dgmcd.yom.mail.yahoo.net" that would take a lifetime to sort through, consolidate and make any sense out of.

The second reason tagging your emails is important is that your mail provider’s stats only tell part of the story. Typically a mail provider will tell you your email campaign’s open rate, unsubscribe rate, and maybe your click through rate but it stops there. These basic stats are great but what happens after the open, and the click? If you tag the URLs in your email then you can tell what those visitors who clicked through did on your site, and compare it to the other mediums you are using to drive traffic.

Third, if you can’t accurately track visits from your emails how do you plan to measure ROI? Your costs could include mail provider’s fees, design costs, content costs, the cost of your mailing list and at the very least somebody’s valuable time. Tagging your emails allows you to associate visits from email to your ecommerce or conversion events on your website that, if configured correctly in Google Analytics, will have $ values associated with them allowing for some basic return on investment numbers.

So how do you accurately tag your emails using the URL Builder? Before diving in remember that your data in Google Analytics will only be as good as the data you put into your tagging, so be descriptive.

Using the URL Builder, here is how I suggest tagging your email URLs:

Campaign Source:

The source will indicate who sent out your email. If you’re sending it out, use your company name. If your vendor or partner is sending it out for you to their list, use theirs.

Campaign Medium:

This should be “email”. As with every field, make this lower case to keep things consistent.

Campaign Term:

Term doesn't have a great fit for emails but you can always add extra info here if needed (e.g. sending the same email out with 4 subject line variations.)

Campaign Content:

Content will be used to describe the link in the email and help differentiate between multiple links that point to the same page on your site. You might have your homepage linked to from the logo in the header, a text link in the body and again in the footer. For those I would use “header company name logo”, “body company name”, and “footer company name”.

Campaign Name:

This is the name of your email campaign. It could be “june newsletter” or “10 percent off offer” or “widget x product announcement”.

Once you have tagged your links you simply point the actual links in the email (e.g. your logo or text link) to go to your tagged link. After sending out your tagged email you will be able to find your new data under Traffic Sources > Campaigns. Once there, you can drill down on a specific campaign or toggle the secondary column between “Source”, Medium”, or any of the other components of your tagged link to gain insights on what is working and what isn’t in your emails. With Goals and/or Ecommerce properly configured in Google Analytics you can track the conversion rate and revenue of your visitors from your email campaigns and do a quick ROI calculation to compare to other mediums. Overall, tracking the success of email campaigns is an important task for any online marketer and Google Analytics offers a free and relatively easy way of doing so (note that MailChimp is now offering to auto-tag your emails.)

Longtail Geo-Targeting Your Content and Keywords or, Why It’s Good to Be “Chattanooga SEO Experts” instead of “SEO Experts.”

Many of our clients came to us at first because they had become frustrated trying to do their own SEO copywriting. The big terms they wanted to rank for, like “personal injury lawyer” or “office furniture” just weren’t seeing much traction on the Google results page, no matter how hard they tried and no matter how much content they wrote. They came to Delegator wanting to know why - and, if we were so smart, how could we fix it? For a large percentage of these clients, the answer was very simple. They were going after keywords that were much too competitive for their budget. For instance, the term “personal injury lawyer” gets 368,000 searches per month and a competition ranking of “High,” according to Google, which has over 12 million indexed pages for that single term. For small to medium sized law firms that can be a tall mountain to climb with a limited budget. In cases like this we often recommend that our clients employ geo-targeted long tail keywords. Which is a fancy way of saying, “Put the name of your city, state or region in front of the term you want to rank for.”

Geo Targeting Keywords

“Personal injury lawyer” then becomes “Tennessee personal injury lawyer.” The second term, as you might imagine, gets fewer searches per month than the first (1,600). However, because there are fewer searches, and often less competition, there is more opportunity for small to mid-sized businesses and firms. Yes, you will be fishing in a smaller pond with less fish - but because you won’t be competing with 12 million other fisherman, you’ll be more likely to bring in a great catch.

But that’s not the only advantage of geo-targeted long tails. Not only is there less competition, the people who are performing searches for your new keyword are more likely to click and convert. Why? Because the use of a longer, more specific keyword has filtered your results. Instead of getting calls from Montana and Ottawa, where you might not be willing or able to do business, you’re only going to get hits from local, interested searchers who have self-selected for their viability and availability as clients.

Less work and administrative headaches, more interested and viable searchers, and a higher ranking--that’s the beauty of a geo-targeted longtail keyword. You can trust us - we’re “Chattanooga SEO Experts!”

Campaign Tagging with Google Analytics

“Half of our marketing is working...we just don’t know which half.”

Those of you using Google Analytics can probably point to some basic reports that explain at a high level which half of your internet marketing is working, but why stop there? Why not pin point much of your online (and even some offline) efforts more specifically to gain better understanding of how each part of each campaign contributes to your online marketing success?

With Google’s Campaign Tagging, you can do just that by adding valuable information to the inbound links that you have the ability to control. This data can be found in Google Analytics under Traffic Sources then Campaigns.

Google Analytics Campaigns You may already be familiar with the Campaigns section under Traffic Sources if you’re using Google AdWords. While your AdWords data will also show up in the newer “AdWords” section of the Traffic Sources, AdWords campaigns will continue to show in the Campaigns section as long as you have auto-tagging turned on in the Analytics Settings.

So AdWords is auto-tagged, but what about other inbound links? Enter Google’s URL Builder. This is the tool that makes custom campaign tagging a breeze.

Google Analytics URL Builder

Over my next few posts I’ll explain how to use the URL Builder to tag various links including links in emails, cost-per-click links, banner ads, press releases, Facebook posts, Tweets, shortened URLs, and even some offline efforts.

Goals in Analytics: Does Your Site Measure Up?

Recently, I wrote about Google Analytics and claimed that it is a must-have for any serious website. Hopefully some of you took heed and installed Analytics on your own site. With Analytics in place, you can now rest assured that a lot of important information is being tracked. The trick now is making that vast amount of information useful for your business. The easiest way to do this is through Goals. Goals provide a simple, intuitive way to get a lot out of your web data. After all, every webmaster  has goals for their website. Why not track them? In Analytics, we can even go a step further by assigning relative values to multiple goals. Say a blog subscription is worth half as much to you as a lead form submission, but it is worth twice as much as an order form download. Use these numbers as your goal inputs, keeping in mind that they should reflect some economic value to your business.

Goals in Analytics

This opens up a new stream of data in Analytics - and one that should be quite useful for your marketing efforts. Now you will be able to see what kind of value you are getting from your organic search marketing, paid search, and social media. If you notice you get $50 of value for every $20 you spend on AdWords, then consider spending more on AdWords. If you only get $10 of value, then you may need to optimize your paid search strategy.

Analytics Goal Values

For more information on how to set up goals, check out a primer from the Official Analytics blog. And it will be worth your while to read the Godfather of Analytics, Avinash Kaushik, detail his obsession with economic goal values.

3 Reasons to Stop Worrying and Love Display Advertising

Who says Google AdWords is just about search? Sure it takes a search background to properly manage an AdWords account, but if you are ignoring the creative display opportunities with Google, then you are missing a large part of your market. There are plenty of reasons why advertising in general and the Display Network more specifically can be advantageous for your business or blog. Here are our top 3:

1. The Network

The size and reach of Google’s Display Network are unmatched by any other ad exchange. Google’s network serves 6 billion ad impressions each day on hundreds of thousands of websites. In fact, a recent study determined that the network reaches about 80% of all internet users globally.

Most companies will not have a global target market, but if you are trying to reach any audience, you’ll want to start with Google.

2. The Pricing

Display advertising has long been a part of most businesses’ marketing plans, but Google has done a great job of streamlining everything - and lowering costs in the process. Besides the vast network, the main feature that sets Google apart from the display norm is CPC bidding instead of a flat CPM. CPC, or cost-per-click, advertising means you pay only when a user clicks through to your website.The CPM standard is to pay per thousand impressions, or whenever your ad appears on a page.

This means you can gain free brand equity in the form of impressions. For example, say someone sees your ad, doesn’t click on it, and goes to your site later. This costs you nothing. AdWords even has a nifty metric called View-Through Conversions that captures the value added by these visitors.

3. The Tools

This is the icing on the top of Google’s Display cake. You can have all the market share in the world (or 80% in this case), but it won’t resonate with advertisers unless you give them the tools and the data to properly target their customers. Google comes through here with a host of tools including Site Exclusion, Demographic Targeting, and Display Ad Builder, that will guide you through the process of creating an ad and choosing proper (while excluding improper) placements.

And of course you'll have access to the entire suite of general AdWords tools and reports that can assist you with keyword research and experimental testing.

So if you're not advertising with Google yet, start. If you're search advertising, but haven't made the leap to display yet, now is your time.

4 Ways Google Instant Affects SEM

Google Instant LaunchGoogle’s new search update, Google Instant, launched on September 8th and has everyone in the SEM (Search Engine Marketing) world talking. While the full effects of Instant have yet to materialize, I wanted to give my early ideas on its implications for the future of search and how it could affect your site. 1. User Behavior Will Change

The most interesting thing to keep an eye on with Google Instant will be how it affects user behavior. The consensus is that it will change the way people search, but because the technology is so new, no one knows exactly how it will make that change. My instinct is that it will create "lazier" search queries, as people rely on the Google suggestion to complete their thought. This could mean less long-tail searches and will almost certainly mean less click-throughs to the second page of results.

What we should see from an SEO perspective is a greater premium placed on ranking on the first page, and in the Top 3 more specifically. If this holds true, it would hardly be an unintended consequence. Google’s SEO guru Matt Cutts has stated that “a key insight behind Google Instant is that we want to get people answers and solve their problems faster”.

2. Big Brands Will Gain an Edge

Another side effect I’ve noticed in the Google Instant debut is a visibility boost for top brands. This applies to both the paid and organic listings. I cannot help but notice when I type A, I get Amazon, E is eBay, and W is Walmart. Instead of serving a hybrid distribution of results for the letter E (ESPN, E-Trade, Expedia, etc.), Google gives me a full page of eBay results and ads.

The cynic in me wants to say Google is trying to boost some of their top spenders on AdWords such as the aforementioned Amazon, eBay, and Walmart. The line of thought here is that these top advertisers will accrue residual impressions and clicks, increasing Google’s take from AdWords, their cash cow. The reality is likely less sinister than that, but there is no denying that big brands are afforded an advantage in Instant.

Google Instant - eBay

3. Long-Tail Searches Will Change

Long-tail searches ("green eggs and ham" vs "breakfast") are more focused and have less volume than a general one or two word search, but they often lead to more precise results and, thus, strong conversions. Some people have jumped to the conclusion that Google Instant effectively kills the long-tail and will hurt sites that have focused their efforts there. I think that is a bit extreme, and I would encourage anyone to watch their analytics as I think there are potential positive and negative effects.

Because Google Instant results are displayed as you type, users can easily bail from typing a long phrase and settle for what is shown with their partial search. If you do not rank well for the shorter phrase, you will likely see a decrease in traffic. Also, analytics might show keywords that do not make as much sense because they are only part of the searcher’s true search intention. On the other side, Google Instant could also increase your long-tail traffic in some cases because search refinements seem to be easier with the new feature.

4. Data Will Fluctuate

Web analytics and data are key drivers of search marketing strategies, whether paid or organic. Google Analytics and other packages offer detailed data on a user’s intent by showing the search query he or she typed to reach a given website.

Or at least they did.

With Google Instant, and its built-in suggestion feature, Analytics packages will now display the suggested query that led to the eventual click. This is not meaningless, - it will certainly be valuable to see how searchers are reaching your website - but it is not as powerful as it was previously. Search queries as they were previously reported served as a direct line to your customers’ minds. Now, they are a truncated version of a searcher’s question with a little Google suggestion sprinkled on top.

On the PPC side of things, Google has warned advertisers and managers of AdWords accounts to monitor their accounts for increased impression numbers and click volumes. To date, we have not noticed any major impression fluctuations from any of our AdWords clients, but there is evidence that Instant has been responsible for this with at least some percentage of AdWords users.

Overall Google Instant is not going to negate the value of Search Engine Optimization or even change it drastically, but I would recommend staying vigilant. As always, monitoring analytics, watching your Adwords stats, and reviewing your search engine rankings will ensure that your site does not go quietly into the night.