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Understanding the Basics of Google Analytics

Understanding the Basics of Google Analytics

Posted on May 09, 2017 by Emily Ballard

Google Analytics is a potent tool for leveraging data to gain insight into your current audience, as well as develop a deeper understanding of how to reach your target audience. Top marketing professionals analyze data obtained through Google Analytics to identify how, and from where, website visitors are arriving (we’ll dig into this in a little bit). If you aren’t already utilizing this incredibly powerful service, here’s an overview on how you can make smarter, data-driven decisions that better your chances for more conversions and higher return on investment (ROI). Oh, and it’s free.

Audience

So the first thing you need to do is look at who has already been visiting your website. Google Analytics tells you almost everything about each visitor including their demographics, interests, location, behavior on the site, and what device they used to visit your site. From this, it generates relevant comparisons, using the copious amounts of data collected on each user. With access to such an extensive amount of data, Google Analytics allows you to get a clear picture of who is viewing your site and whether you should alter marketing initiatives in order to cater to your target audience.

Acquisition

Now that you’ve determined the makeup of your audience, the next step is discovering how users got to your site. The overview section (under acquisition) breaks down incoming site traffic into general sources: social media, email, direct visitors, organic searches, referrals from other websites, paid search and other. The information is then further digested into graphs to illustrate the percentage of users from each category, their session time, bounce rate and conversion rate. If the right people are already visiting your website, this feature of Google Analytics can help identify where and how to reach others like them.

Behavior

The “Behavior Flow” chart that Google Analytics creates according to time period is the easiest tool, in my opinion, to analyze each user journey. This chart offers the ability to walk through the steps of each user journey, and possibly determine what drove them to each page. This feature provides in-depth data on the most and least visited pages of your website. Such specific data is beneficial to improving the less-viewed portions of your site, and maintaining those more frequently viewed. Considering this data within Google Analytics helps to identify the popular sections of your site, and thus point you in the right direction for which aspects need extra attention.

Conversions

Now for the good stuff. Once you’ve identified your target audience, optimized your marketing initiatives and increased traffic to your website—you can sit back and watch the conversions roll in. Conversions tie in directly with your goals. For example, if your goal is for people to fill out a “Let’s Talk” form, Google Analytics can track how many visitors were served the form, and compare that to the number that completed it. Ecommerce businesses can track key performance indicators (KPI) like product performance, sales performance, transactions and time to purchase.

Knowing and understanding how each element of Google Analytics functions helps the tool to behave as a messenger, that keeps you informed about which areas of your website are successful and which are under-performing. What do you think is the most important aspect of Google Analytics? Be sure to let us know in the comments!

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Knock Your Block Off

Knock Your Block Off

Posted on Apr 27, 2017 by Ian Wilson

Few things are more frightening to a creative than the blank page used to begin every project. It can be unnerving, and you may lock up. Then after jotting down a handful of ideas, you face a new challenge. This time your subconscious is trying to break your stride by sowing the seeds of fear, self-doubt, and temptation.

As I’ve long maintained: Creativity is kinetic. In other words, keep your pencil moving or you’ll end up stuck in the mud. If you do (and you will) find yourself at a standstill, being able to recognize what’s happening can help you to break yourself out of that unproductive mindset, which is the first step to getting back on track. For this reason, I’ve compiled a short list of a few common obstacles you’ll likely face.

  • Stop waiting for the winners

Think of your mind as a jar full of jelly beans, where the blue beans are the brilliant ideas you’re after. If you’re only allowing the blue beans to leave the jar, then your overall yield will suffer. A better plan would be to first pour everything out, then follow that up by sorting the great from mediocre. Getting the subpar ideas out of your head also has its benefits, because it frees up mental resources, clearing the way for fresh ideas to move in.

  • Don’t puppy-love your ideas

We get it, you’re clever. However, your role at this point is to catch as many of the ideas spilling out of you as you can. Just because you think you’ve hit pay dirt is no reason to jump the gun and begin refining. If you feel this way about a recent idea, chances are that you’re harboring a bias toward an idea that it is probably too cute or grandiose to make the final cut anyway. It may be that it only sparkles in contrast to the string of lackluster ideas that led up to it. Plus, creativity usually happens in bursts, so it would be a titanic mistake to stop upon reaching the tip of the iceberg.

  • Stick to the plan

Strategy is the anchor for your campaign. It’s purpose is to ensure that your work aligns with all other work in order to maintain a cohesive and uniform message. The further you try to stretch the leash that tethers you to your strategy, the more work your audience will have to do to make sense of what you are trying to get across. If you make them do too much work, they’ll likely give up and move on.

  • Safety third

Creativity occupies the shared space on the venn diagram between a problem’s solution and novelty. Just as you stick to the strategy, you must also find new ways to approach it. This is the time to take some risks and see what happens. Think of it as shoplifting from the candy store in your mind. When your ideas begin to feel robotic and manufactured, try pushing them to a frightening extreme. Then walk them back to find the breaking point.

  • Physical needs take mental energy

Whether you’re hungry, restless, tired or just plain hungover, your body is trying to get your attention. Working through these distractions can be tough, and your work will likely suffer due to divided focus. Conversely, the endorphin boost from taking a walk, or getting up every so often to stretch, can be great for productivity. Physical activity also doesn’t need to be exercise, it can be as simple as arranging your lunch in an eye-appealing way or giving yourself time to get enough sleep. Find out what works for you, and incorporate it into your process.

Ultimately the solution to getting stuck is always to get back to work. You could wax intellectual about process, or stall for time setting up your environment, but it’s never going to give you the same satisfaction as real progress. Instead, do what the pros do—roll up your sleeves and do the work. Taking a page from one of the United Kingdom’s most renowned prime ministers:

“When you’re going through hell, keep going.”—Winston Churchill

Now, don’t you have some work to do?

 

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Why Your Business Needs a Blog

Why Your Business Needs a Blog

Posted on Aug 27, 2013 by Emily Weeks

Nowadays, it’s rare to find a company without a website. And if you do, how annoying is it to scroll through Google and Yelp just to find their contact information? Having an online presence is necessary in today’s technologically centric world – just read our previous blog post about the importance of having a good web presence to see why.

What’s becoming increasingly important as well, though, is having a blog. Blogging has become a staple for businesses both big and small. It provides companies an outlet to show off their personalities, industry knowledge, and to engage their audiences with stimulating content. Nevertheless, blogging is a time commitment, so the big question still remains:

Continue Reading →

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SEO – The Myths, the Facts, and the Secrets

Posted on Mar 25, 2013 by John Wagner

If you have a website or use a search engine on a regular basis, it’s likely that you’ve heard of SEO Sydney or PPC. These two common acronyms are mentioned and preached every day. However, does everyone really know what they mean, or how they work? If you don’t, you’re not alone.

Let’s answer any lingering questions, settle myths, and clear the air of this Edmonton SEO madness! I’ve compiled the most common myths, most important facts, and the most exciting secrets in this post! I know what you’re thinking, “Whew! it’s about time!”

So let’s start from the top…

Define:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – An algorithm designed to impact visibility of web content (pages) through organic search results. Commonly used as a free alternative to PPC (pay per click) advertising.

Purpose:
Direct targeted traffic to your website without buying ads and clicks.

Myths:

…Your site will or can be optimized overnight
…Repetitive words and content will increase ranking
…Always use the most competitive words and phrases
…High page rankings are set in stone
…Organic “tastes” different

Facts:

  • Organic search results is a natural method for locating a webpage. This process will match search terms with relevant content on competing webpages. The stepbrother of organic search results is “non-organic”, or paying per click. “Paying per click” are ads that allow a company to blindly bid on highly competitive key search terms.
  • Relevant content is the fuel for your page ranking.  The more industry specific content your website holds, the more your website will be found, organically.
  • New content is the maintenance that will keep your page ranked. The most effective way is blogging and tagging with search terms. Google, and other leading search engines will reward your website for publishing relevant information. Since you know your business, show off and show off often!
  • Unique content is the muscle that carries web searchers directly to your website. Unique content can distinguish your brand and website from companies with the same industry focus and target.

Secrets:

  • Content is king. Keep relevant and new content flowing like a river! Adding content is important for your ongoing ranking; the most effective way is with a blog attached to your website. All blog content should follow the relevancy rules while it gives you space to display content that your website does not have room for.
  • Play to win. Similar to Monopoly night with your Grandmother, the SEO game is never ending. Compete, and compete often to maintain and most importantly to increase your ranking.
  • Leverage Google AdWords/Analytics.  Stay updated on monthly searches for keywords and phrases by using Google Analytics to view what keywords visitors used to find your site. Competition will change just as fast as your ranking does, so stay on top of your words!
  • Duplicate and be dumped. Search engines (especially Google) are smart enough to detect fluff and manipulation; so think of these algorithms as more of an art than a science.
  • By the numbers. If you’re more of a numbers person; you can make SEO a science project by using the KEI (keyword effectiveness index) equation. This will give specific words a rating based on the number of times a word is searched over the number of webpages displaying the word or phrase. Using this approach will show you what words and phrases can give you the best chance of winning the keyword game.

The internet can be the most rewarding source of marketing if used properly. Website optimization best practices are ever evolving and will only become more competitive as time passes. Adopting this process now can completely change the way your business operates in a positive way for years to come.

 

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On the Second Day of Christmas, HMG Gave to Me: Two Tutorials

Posted on Dec 14, 2012 by Johnny Jeffers

Our second day of Christmas will celebrate, or should I say educate, you on two dynamic tools in today’s social world: HootSuite and WordPress. If you’re not already familiar with the two, check out the links below to see just how easy it is to get started. If you’re already a pro, take a look anyway and brush up on those skills or discover a hidden feature!

HOOT SUITE TUTORIAL
Hoot Suite is a social media management tool that allows you to control various platforms in one place.  Here at HMG Creative, we use one HootSuite account to allow all of our social media managers to post and schedule content to our various platforms.

WORD PRESS TUTORIAL
WordPress is web software almost anyone can use to create a beautiful website or blog.  The program began in 2003 with a single bit of code and since then it has grown to be the largest, self-hosted blogging tool in the world. Check it out!

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Woot Woot for HootSuite!

Posted on Dec 14, 2012 by Stacey Donelan

 

If you’ve never heard of this odd application before, never fear (I was just introduced to it a few months ago)!  Once you get started, it’s a piece of cake.  For those of you that love organization, it’s a wonderful tool for you to manage all of your social media platforms in one easy place.  Although there are a few different types of HootSuite accounts, the version we will be investigating will be the basic account.

So let’s start with the basics.  All you need to do is go to hootsuite.com and create an account.  This doesn’t require much but an email, name and password.

Once you’re logged in, you’ll start by adding a social network.  As you can see, the three networks you are initially offered are Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.  By clicking on “add a different social network”, you are given many more options, such as: Google+, foursquare, WordPress, MySpace and mixi.

Choose the account you wish to sync first, allow HootSuite permission to that account and voila!  You should see something like this:

You can either compose or schedule a message by clicking in the “Compose message” box.  You will need to select your account by searching in the box which is right next to message composition.  To schedule, choose the calendar icon and pick your desired date and time.

If you would like to make any changes or view your scheduled items, choose the arrow icon located on the far left Dashboard.

To add on additional accounts.  Select the “+” tab at the top of the page.  You will then see the option to “Add Stream.” With the basic account, you are allowed up to FIVE different streams.  (Other accounts will allow for more streams depending on the price.)

You should now be able to complete the basic functions of HootSuite!  Can I get a woot, woot?!  If you’d like to learn more, you can always check out the free online tutorial they offer every member or contact us and we’d be happy to help.  Good luck!