Why Use Marketing Automation

Why use automation and email marketing?

Standing out in today’s email landscape has never been more difficult — or more rewarding.

In 2019 293.6 billion emails were sent each day. And that number is expected to rise to 347.3 billion daily emails by 2022.
With the average user receiving 121 emails a day, you might be tempted to think that all the work it takes to cut through the noise isn’t worth it.

But, in 2019, the Direct Marketing Association reported a 4200% return on spend among 197 surveyed marketers. That’s $42 return on every $1 spent. This wasn’t accomplished by just sending more emails and seeing what sticks. Fewer emails than ever are reaching the recipient’s inbox. This incredible return was accomplished by sending smarter, more strategic emails and using the best marketing automation strategies.

Don’t leave money on the table.

What is marketing automation?

Marketing automation is the use of a software platform to automate repetitive marketing tasks. These platforms are typically associated with email marketing but can also automate tasks within lead segmentation, lead scoring, and sales processes.

As you visit sites and engage with companies online, your actions are most often recorded and segmented so the company can help you along the buying process effectively. If you visit pricing pages, download eBooks, subscribe to newsletters, and more, you’re helping the company understand who you are and how they might earn you as a customer.

Using these platforms and segment information, a business can send valuable, relevant information to customers at the right time in their customer journey.

What are the benefits of marketing automation?

Marketing automation is an incredibly versatile tool that can help your business accomplish a variety of goals. Automation can help you optimize and shorten sales cycles, lose fewer leads, deliver segmented content to unique audiences, and more. Below are some of the most common benefits that businesses can see from an effective marketing automation strategy.

What email marketing can accomplish:

  • Attract and build a list of leads and potential customers
  • Automate repetitive tasks like rescheduling and abandoned carts
  • Automate CRM tasks like lead status, customer type, and buyer stage
  • Provide timely updates and promotions directly to interested buyers
  • Nurture and propel leads through the buyer’s journey
  • Build and nurture customer relationships through timely and helpful content


  • Customer Relationships and Automation

    Customers today have a variety of choices for every product and service, and it’s never been easier to share customer experiences online. 84% of customers state that they trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Considering how much rests upon your customer reputation, it’s more important than ever that you manage that relationship proactively and effectively.

    Marketing automation software can help you build a quality reputation online by serving your customers in a timely and efficient manner.

    Some of the ways automation can help manage customer relationships:

  • Sending thank you and confirmation emails after subscriptions and purchases
  • Sending customers relevant FAQ content after they’ve made a purchase
  • Reminding customers promptly about scheduled maintenance or other time-centric concerns they might have
  • Emailing customers review invites at a specific point in the buyer’s journey
  • Emailing customers if they visit critical pages such as cancelation or complaint pages


  • What are marketing automation platforms?

    Choosing a marketing automation platform can be overwhelming. There’s a significant variety of choices with different features and prices. Some platforms are all-in-one and can host your entire marketing and sales automation strategy. Some are small and will help you manage essential email campaigns and tasks. What’s more important than any one specific service is that you choose one that fits with your company’s short and medium-term goals.

    Switching from platform to platform is an incredibly time-consuming task. We strongly recommend choosing a platform that will meet your needs not only today but years down the road.

    Popular Automation Platforms

  • HubSpot
  • Marketo
  • ActiveCampaign
  • Drip
  • ConvertKit
  • Infusionsoft


  • How do you get started with marketing automation?

    If you’d like to learn more about how marketing automation can help you and your business, and how to get started, you can read more from our eBook on the marketing automation fundamentals.

    If you’d like to speak with an Epic Marketing representative about what we could do for you, fill out the form at the bottom of the page, and we’ll get in touch!

    Why SEO Shouldn’t Be An Afterthought

    Have you ever questioned whether or not you need to invest in SEO now, or if you can simply hold off until your company scales? This is a common question that I hear all too often when talking with business owners. In this post, my goal is to share with you a few reasons why it’s critical that you start investing in SEO today and not wait. Out of respect for the privacy of our clients, I have altered the names and company information associated with any specific examples that I’ve included in this post.

    Before we dive in, I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Chayden Young and I’m the Accounts Director here at Epic Marketing. You’re likely wondering why Epic’s Accounts Director is writing an article on SEO. That’s a great question! In addition to managing our account management team, I also spend a portion of my day talking with prospective clients and am typically their first point of contact with Epic. Being on the front lines, I get the opportunity to learn so much about what companies are already doing to market themselves and can quickly see many of the opportunities in front of them.

    I recently had a new client meeting with John, a business owner looking to expand his company. John had been working incredibly hard to establish his brand and a reputation for quality work and great service. I asked John what he was doing from an SEO side to promote his services. His response, while not so unusual, is representative of a widespread and all too common concern. John responded, “I’m not really doing a lot with SEO. I’m not really big enough to worry about it and have heard it’s a waste of money.”

    After listening to John’s perspective on SEO, I realized that there are businesses out there that still don’t truly understand the value of SEO. Search traffic can be one of the most valuable marketing avenues a company can pursue. While the size and scale of these search campaigns can vary greatly, you should be investing in a base SEO strategy for your site. Your competition isn’t stopping SEO efforts and you can’t afford to ignore the value of search traffic to your site.

    “you need to be investing in SEO today”

    John and I continued talking and discussed why he hadn’t been doing SEO. He said, “when I first started my business, I was under the impression that SEO was something only large companies did. I didn’t really see the value in it. I’ve got a couple of friends that got burned by one of those $250 SEO packages.” A warning to those who might be tempted to go with the ultra-cheap SEO companies out there, It’s not worth the risk. Companies charging extremely low rates keep their prices low by providing a low-quality service that can harm your site. After being on the subject for a while, we came to the conclusion that John needed more information on SEO and specifically how it should play into his mix of customer acquisition channels.

    Now I was on a mission to prove to John the value of SEO and how a quality SEO service can elevate his business to a new level. Returning to John’s point on how he believed only large companies focus on SEO, I knew that I needed to start there. Why does it seem like SEO is something that big successful companies focus on? It’s because it works! Aligning your website content with people searching for your products and services is one of the best ways to capture high-quality leads or direct sales. These people are looking for you, why not make it easy for them to find you? The value derived from this strategy can be immense and in the long run, cost significantly less than a paid advertising approach. SEO is an investment in your web presence, not a flash in the pan that builds no sustained value over time.

    At our next meeting, I came a little more prepared. This time I brought an in-depth search report of people that were looking for his services on a monthly basis. It finally hit him how important it was for him to try and capture a small portion of this search market. He decided that he couldn’t wait any longer, because the longer he waited, the more he fell behind his competition.

    We helped John build a new site that was optimized for SEO from the start. After his site was launched, he started to receive not only an uptick in organic traffic but a noticeable increase in leads from his site.

    This story has an awesome ending for John. Unfortunately, there are a lot of companies out there that still let SEO be an afterthought. I don’t care if you just invented a brand new technology that nobody has heard of or your industry is as old as the dinosaurs, you need to be investing in SEO today, and if you don’t know where to start, you need to partner with someone who can generate the right results for you.

    How to Know If You’re Reaching the Right Audience on Social Media

    When it comes to marketing, one of the biggest mistakes I see businesses make is creating a target audience that is broader than they can effectively reach. Let me explain. A friend of mine has a small business. In requesting some marketing help I asked them, “Now, who is your target audience?” Their response, “everyone.” That answer is a marketer’s worst nightmare. I hate to break it to you, but “everyone” isn’t a target audience.” In fact, when you target everyone, you’re targeting no one.

    In this blog I’m going to walk you through the different audiences you can expect to reach on some of the major social platforms.

    Determine Your Target Audience

    Once you have established your business you need to think about future clients. Who will want your product? How will you reach them? The fact of the matter is, in order to sell your product effectively, you need to clearly identify who you want to buy your product while considering why they need your product in their lives.

    Each social channel is going to have a different audience, which is to your advantage. A different audience type, with some overlap to be considered, will be on each platform. Depending on your business, it’s important to know who and how to target the correct audience.

    facebook logo audience

    Having over 2 billion monthly active users, there’s a lot of data regarding who is on Facebook. There’s a good chance that the audience you’re looking for is going to be found here. According to 2018 statistics:

    • 88% of people from ages 13-17 use Facebook
    • 84% of people from ages 18-29 use Facebook
    • 72% of people from ages 30-49 use Facebook
    • 62% of people from ages 50-64 use Facebook
    • 62% of people from ages 65+ use Facebook

    There is a wide array of users, making Facebook one of the most ideal places to find and target your audience. Throughout the years, Facebook has added features, allowing people to optimize their profiles which gives businesses even more information to target.

    instagram audience logo

    I might go as far as to say that Instagram is the young man’s game. The audience on this app is generally younger, emphasizing photos and videos. Smartphones are common amongst the younger generation, making this social platform perfect for those with 24/7 access to the internet and high-quality phone photos. Statistics show that:

    72% of people from ages 13-17 use Instagram
    64% of people from ages 18-29 use Instagram
    40% of people from ages 30-49 use Instagram
    21% of people from ages 50-64 use Instagram
    10% of people from ages 65+ use Instagram

    Facebook has a gradual decrease as the age of the user increases whereas Instagram is a significant decrease once the age of users hits about 30. Part of the reasoning behind this is because Instagram isn’t designed for desktop – Facebook is. In order to drive more traffic towards their app, they’ve made their desktop version much less user-friendly.

    If you want to find a young, visual audience, Instagram is a great platform to utilize.

    twitter audience logo

    Though a significantly fewer number of people use Twitter, it’s still a great social platform to use. Currently growing, I’d say that one of the best uses for Twitter as of now is to create brand awareness. Running ads on it and targeting an audience might not be useful though due to how few people use it regularly. It is one of the last social platforms to use a chronological feed (a tweet’s shelf-life is around 15-minutes or so). The largest audience on Twitter comes from 18-29 year olds, and stats say that 40% of the people in that age group use Twitter.

    snapchat audience logo

    With 69% of 13-17 year-olds and 68% of 18-29 year-olds on Snapchat, this social platform is another great way to reach a younger audience. The percentage of people aged 30+ on Snapchat is significantly less, making it less effective at targeting that specific age group. Snapchat is yet another platform based solely on photos and videos so pay attention to the content you’re sharing. It should be captivating and fast-paced.

    linkedin audience logo

    Another growing platform, LinkedIn, is specifically marketed towards professionals, which makes it unique. The platform’s purpose is different than others. LinkedIn is designed for professional networking. Those looking to grow their personal networks utilize this platform for professional purposes. Resumes, work experience, articles, etc. are all options for content to be posted. Though it may have few users right now, it’s a platform with some of the most potential for growth. It’s starved for content, making the shelf-life of posts longer than any other social platform.

    As of 2018, here are the percentages of users that are on LinkedIn:

    • 29% of people from ages 18-29 use LinkedIn
    • 33% of people from ages 30-49 use LinkedIn
    • 24% of people from ages 50-64 use LinkedIn
    • 9% of people from ages 65+ use LinkedIn

    The user percentages are low, but I see LinkedIn as an opportunity to create a presence before there is a presence. Building your network now and establishing your business or yourself is one of the things that will benefit you in the future when others hop on board the bandwagon.

    Social media targeting isn’t a “one size fits all” strategy. It must be intelligently determined and then optimized. The goal is to create, optimize, gather information, optimize and repeat over and over until you get your desired results. By utilizing the different audiences on each social platform, you can reach your target market with ease. Our social experts at Epic Marketing can answer any question you have about finding your perfect audience.

    Three Reasons Why Every Business Should Use Google Optimize

    Google has so many products and platforms it can be difficult to keep them all straight. Daydream View, Tilt Brush, Google Duo, and Google Expedition just to name a few of the more obscure ones. One of my personal favorites (aside from Google Ads of course,) is Google Optimize.

    Google Optimize is a free CRO tool that allows you to create different versions of your site to run experiments on. There is a premium version of Optimize, but the free version can add value to any business, regardless of size or industry. Here are three reasons why every business should be using Google Optimize.

    It’s Easy to Set Up

    Although most CRO tools aren’t too difficult to set up, the free version of Google Optimize was never meant to be an enterprise-level tool so it is incredibly easy to set up. You can install it using the Global Site Tag (gtag.js), Google Tag Manager, or even Universal Analytics. For more information on any of those methods, click on the hyperlinks.

    It’s Free, What More Could You Want?

    CRO tools typically cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars a month, but Google doesn’t charge you anything to use their tool. Despite this, you have access to A/B testing, multivariate tests, redirect tests, and personalization. And have I mentioned it’s free?

    You Can Do a Lot With It

    I’m going to repeat what I said before: this free tool lets you run A/B tests, multivariate tests, redirect tests, and personalization. That is incredible. Let’s dive a little deeper into the different options.

    A/B Tests

    A/B tests are perhaps the easiest to understand. Will you get more sales if the buy button is blue? Or maybe red? Does this headline lead to more phone calls than this other headline? These are classic examples of A/B tests. Typically, it’s best to test one change at a time so you can easily determine what led to the improvement. You can make as many changes as you want, but if you make 30 changes and end up with more conversions you won’t be able to know which of your changes led to the increase conversion rate.

    Multivariate Tests

    Instead of just testing two different versions of a page, multivariate tests allow you to mix and match different changes. This image from the Google Optimize Resource Hub should help illustrate this:

    Redirect Tests

    Unlike classic A/B tests or multivariate tests, you are not making changes to an existing page with a redirect test. Instead, you are directing traffic to two completely different web pages. This is useful when you have two, very different pages on your site and you want to know what page will perform best. This applies to both URLs and subdomains.

    Personalization

    Unlike the other three capabilities, when you create personalized experiences you’re not trying to determine what will perform best. By this point in time, you should have run experiments and know that certain changes will work better for certain segments. You can personalize your website based on:

    Device category
    Desktop
    Mobile
    Tablet

    Behavior
    New vs. returning visitors
    People coming from specific channels or sources

    Geography
    City
    Region
    Metro
    Country

    Technology
    Browser (Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari)
    Operating system (Android, Chrome OS, iOS, Linux, Macintosh, Windows, Windows Phone)
    Mobile device info

    There are also more advanced rules you can create using query parameters, data layer variables, JavaScript variables, first-party cookies, and custom JavaScript.

    Yeah, that’s a lot of targeting options. Google Optimize is a powerful tool.

    Conclusion

    I am a big fan of Google Optimize. The fact that it’s easy to set up, has a free version, and is still incredibly powerful means that every business should at least try it. If it still seems too daunting, reach out to Epic Marketing and I’d be happy to set it up for you. 

    What’s the Difference Between Data, Analytics, Insights and Why Should I Care?

    I’ve spoken at and have attended quite a few conferences during my career. One major theme that speakers and conference goers continually talk about is analytics, data and generating insights from both. It’s not uncommon to hear speakers lecture on the need to focus on data and how data is going to be the future of marketing.

    While they are not wrong, many times speakers and leaders confuse data, analytics, and insights and use them interchangeably. This happens so frequently that we often forget that these three topics are very different and how we go about thinking about them within our businesses needs to be different as well.

    So let’s explain the differences and how that information will help you propel your business forward.

    Defining Data, Analytics, and Insights. What’s the Difference?

    Data

    Data is, simply put,  the points along the road. Data by itself is relatively useless without context. It doesn’t really help with our understanding of what is going on when we only look at a singular data point but collectively, it can help us see patterns we would have never seen otherwise.

    You can’t optimize or extract knowledge from something that you’re not measuring. Every business is going to collect data differently because they all have different needs and will be focused on different objectives. Asking the question “what is important to our business” is a starting point that will help guide you in trying to figure out what data to collect.

    Another thing to pay attention to is the context of the data that you are gathering. Data without context can easily lead to bad decisions because it won’t reflect the reality of what’s going on with your business.

    Analytics

    Analytics is the process of discovering patterns and trends from the data. Business Dictionary states the goal of analytics is to help a company by “gaining knowledge which can be used to make improvements or changes.”

    Individuals and businesses can’t really do anything without analytics. Useful analytics almost always comes from ratios. Single data points don’t provide much actionable information but when combined into a series of data points or ratios, trends become much easier to see and understand.

    If your website receives 30,000 page views a month, is that good? Is it bad? Are you improving or do you need a website overhaul? Just looking at that single data point does little to help you understand almost anything about your website performance. But if you look and see that you have improved your monthly site traffic by 25% year over year or 10% month over month? That helps you understand a little bit more about whether or not your efforts have been effective.

    Segmentation

    Once you start looking at your analytics, make sure to start segmenting your analytics. As you start to put like-minded customers/visitors together, it will help you with the next section that we are going to go into which is insights.

    The purpose of segmentation is to better understand your customers and individuals who interact with your company. Segmentation allows you to reduce the number of variables when it comes to your data so that you have a better context to understand the analytics.

    A few examples of possible segments that you can do for your business are:

    • Visits originating only from direct traffic and utilizing Chrome as their browser
    • Customers who have the highest CLV (customer lifetime value)
    • Visitors who remained on your site for longer than “x” minutes.

    Insights

    The most difficult part of dealing with data and analytics is simply just trying to understand what it is that you are observing. How are your customers actually behaving? What do they really want to know more about? How do they actually interact with your business? Analytics could be telling you a million different stories but insights is the process of understanding the true story of what is going on with your business and your customers.

    Another way of framing this, every business can be viewed as a complicated mesh of different systems. While we love to think that we all understand exactly how everything works, no one actually knows how everything works 100% of the time. Not the founder, not the CEO…no one understands it completely.

    Because of this, there is a gap in an employee’s understanding of the business and how it actually works. With this framework in mind, insights helps individuals to bridge this gap between their understanding of how the system works and how it actually works.

    Insights is the “ah-ha” moment when data and analytics come together into a cohesive story that allows you to better see the reality of what’s going on with your business.

    Remember, reporting does not equal insights. Reporting is the process of organizing data into summaries. Insights is the result of exploring data and reports in order to extract meaningful information to improve business performance. Reporting translates raw data into information. Analysis transforms data and information into insights.

    Investigating the “that’s funny…”
    Isaac Asimov captured the spirit of discovering insights perfectly when he said: “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ but ‘That’s funny…’”

    As I mentioned earlier, the biggest issue businesses face when it comes to data and analytics is the gap between how they think the business runs and how it actually runs. These ‘that’s funny’ moments allows us to see areas where we are blinded by our own assumptions or previous experiences that we have had with the business. They allow us to step back and say to ourselves “we really need to look at this process because clearly something is going on here.”

    How to turn Data into Insights

    So now that we have all of the definitions out of the way, how do I actually pull insights from the data that we are collecting? Here are some useful tips to help you accomplish this goal.

    • Ask yourself “what questions do we need to answer in order to succeed?”
    • Create a specific hypothesis prior to running an analyse.
    • Start with small data, filter and segment those data to build larger segments.
    • Work on a single problem at a time.
    • Break complex systems into smaller pieces.
    • Ask specific questions. Generic questions will produce generic answers.
    • Measure loss/gain caused by your findings.

    Hopefully you found these tips on the difference between data, analytics and insights helpful.

    Need help finding insights for your business? Want us to help? Request a free Digital Marketing Audit from us by filling out the form.

    Understanding Facebook Analytics

    “Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” -Sun Tzu

    Most intermediate to advanced marketers love diving into tactics. It’s sexy and it brings this sense of “ah…that’s what I have been missing all along” feeling that also makes you feel like you have stumbled on some “holy grail” of marketing that will catapult your marketing efforts into the next stratosphere.

    The problem is that most of your marketing issues have nothing to do with your tactics, but your lack of a cohesive strategy in implementing those tactics. So the question then remains, how do you put together a cohesive strategy?

    Analytics and Facebook analytics specifically will help you better understand the user experience as they interact with your brand both online and off. How do new users find about your business/product/service? How do your existing customers become loyal, repeat customers?

    Every business, especially if they have a heavy online presence, needs to refine their critical path for their new customers. What user flow is the most optimal for your business? Is it to hear about you online, go to a physical store and then ultimately find you again online when you have a promotion? Do they search for you on Google, fill out an interactive form on your website and then add your product to a cart and finish the checkout process?

    Most businesses have several “critical paths” that their customers follow and your overall strategy should be to 1) figure out that path and 2) learn to optimize the path from the edges of the flow instead of rebuilding it every couple of months and having to restart your Facebook experiments from scratch..

    So where does Facebook Analytics fall into this learning process?

    Facebook Analytics will help you understand how your customers are actually behaving and which behaviors are most beneficial to your business. As you gain a better understanding of what behaviors you want to replicate, you’ll be able to create user flows that promote behaviors that you want to see in your customers and on the flip side, create flows that discourages behaviors that you want your potential customers to avoid.

    Facebook Analytics and Google Analytics are not the same. Google Analytics is a comprehensive tool that enables you to look at more data than Facebook Analytics and allows you to do deeper dives into specific pages. On the other hand, Facebook Analytics is tied to a user, not a cookie and thus is best at showing you interactions among events so you can see opportunities to better cater your website/product offering that you maybe didn’t know were happening to specific individuals.

    Event groups within Facebook Analytics allows you to look at omnichannel interactions. Many will argue that Google Analytics already provides this information but Facebook Analytics allows you to dive a bit deeper because it allows you to see post interactions in addition to page and website behaviors. You also can track offline data like in-store purchases and link them to your Facebook campaigns to see how your Facebook ads influenced those purchasing decisions.

    There are three major reports that you can pull from Facebook Analytics: Funnels, Revenue and Customer Lifetime Value reports.

    Funnels:

    One of the best parts of the Facebook Analytics funnel reports is that they are able to tell you what actions individuals took on your Facebook page/ad prior to them converting into a customer. You can figure out of the individuals who “liked” this post, how many of them when to the website? Of those individuals how many of them ultimately ultimately lead to a sale? Understanding where along the funnels your customers are dropping out is one of the most invaluable pieces of information that Facebook funnels can provide.

    Revenue:

    Think of Revenue as a dashboard for purchase-related information. Let’s say you want to find out how many purchases were made through your app in a given time period. You could find this information in Revenue and examine it more closely by applying filters then create a funnel out of those insights as mentioned above.

    Customer Lifetime Value:

    Conventional reports in Business Manager merely look at the cost per conversion and revenue for each individual purchase. By looking at CLV, instead, we can see how much a customer is worth to us over the course of several months. You can break it down into a few factors:

    • How often a customer makes a purchase within a typical purchase cycle
    • How much a customer spends each time they make a purchase
    • How much you project a customer will spend over the duration of your relationship with them
    • The potential length of a customer’s relationship with you

    As Facebook has stated “You shouldn’t use your prediction for any one of these factors alone as a representation of a given customer’s lifetime value. You should combine each relevant estimation into a formula appropriate for your business goals and use the result it produces.”

    Facebook Analytics is just such an awesome tool to help individuals and companies understand how their Facebook efforts are working and where along the way they are dropping out.

    Bonus freebie:

    A lot of individuals ask us in addition to the reports above, what are some other Facebook specific metrics that we like to track. I have listed some of the most insightful metrics that provide the most amount of insights.

    MAU (Monthly Active Users)
    (# of Monthly Active Users/# of People Reached)

    Audience Growth Rate
    (# of new Facebook Fans/# of total fans on Facebook)

    Engagement Rate
    (# of engagements/# of posts)

    Organic vs. Paid Traffic Rate

    Average Revenue Per MAU
    (MRR/Total Number of Customers)

    Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
    (Total Cost of Sales & Marketing/# of Sales)

    Need a hand in understanding the constantly changing Facebook landscape? Contact us or call us and let our team of Facebook experts talk to you about your current Facebook marketing needs.

    Google’s Demo Analytics Account: How to Gain Access and Why You Want to

    Google Analytics can be a labyrinth. From simple session tracking to the User Explorer report, Analytics can do a lot and it can be overwhelming to try to learn all of its tools and capabilities. Luckily, Google created a demo Analytics account based on traffic to their merchandise store that anyone can get access to and learn from. In this blog, I’m going to walk you through gaining access to this demo account and give you three reasons why it’s beneficial to learn from it.

    How to Gain Access

    This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but in order to use this Analytics account you have to have an account yourself. Google made it pretty easy to gain access to their demo account, all you have to do is visit this Google support page, scroll about halfway down the page and click on “ACCESS DEMO ACCOUNT”. And… that’s it! You now have access.

    Google Analytics Demo Account

    And now, three reasons you can learn a lot from this account.

    Reason 1: They get Thousands of Visitors a Day

    Google knows that sample size matters so instead of trying to learn from your own website (which may not get very much traffic), you can use their demo account that gets thousands of sessions per day. I cannot state how useful this is. One thing I consider on a daily basis is sample size. All things equal, the more data you have the more you can do with it. With the amount of traffic this account gets, you can determine with a decent amount of certainty which source has the highest conversation rate, which region visits the most pages on average, etc.

    Reason 2: You can Experiment without Breaking Things

    One of the risks of playing around with Google Analytics before you know what you’re doing is altering or erasing historical data. Well, you don’t have to worry about that here! You have enough access to learn, but not enough to mess things up for everyone else. So have fun, try new things!

    Reason 3: Many Features are Already Set Up

    Many advanced features have already been set up in this sample account. Things such as enhanced ecommerce, Google Ads (formerly AdWords) linking, dashboards, custom reports, etc., are already in place. This saves you the trouble of trying to figure out the implementation on your own. You can look at how they set things up and replicate their settings modify them based on your needs.

    So there you have it. If you followed these instructions you should now be able to view the Google merchandise Analytics account and you know three reasons why it will be beneficial to you to learn from it.  This won’t magically make Google Analytics easier to navigate, but it should help you and provide you with a ball of yarn to escape the labyrinth.

    Google Analytics User Explorer: What It Is and When to Use It

    The numbers vary by source, but something like 90% of websites use Google Analytics in one form or another. Wow. I’m having a hard time thinking of any other service or product that has achieved that level of market penetration. Despite the fact that tens of millions of website are using Analytics, I bet there are sections within the Analytics interface that 90% of business owners have never used, seen, or even heard of. One of these sections is User Explorer.

    Unveiled in the spring of 2016, this report does something that was previously next to impossible to do – track an individual’s journey on your website. User Explorer is found in the Audience section of Analytics. It lets you view data for individuals such as how they ended up on your site (referral, organic, social, etc.), what pages they visited, what events they triggered, and more. Of course, this is completely anonymized and no personal data is recorded *cough GDPR compliant cough*.

    That’s all fine and dandy, but how would a marketer benefit from this information? In general, you should view aggregate data so you can make informed decisions (see my previous blog for an explanation of why sample size matters), so at first glance viewing individual data may seem ineffective. However, here are three examples of when it may be valuable to view the data for individual users.

    Example One – One Audience Segment Outperforms Another

    How people interact with your website will be affected by their age, gender, device, and a host of other factors. By segmenting your Analytics data, you can dive deeper into these user categories. Do a lot of mobile users drop off when they visit a certain page? Do 18-34 year old males make it past your product page? These are things that are definitely worth looking into and you might not know about without User Explorer.

    Example Two – Understand Your Customer Profiles

    You may have some idea how different audience segments engage with your site, but let’s take that a step further. Every business should create customer profiles to get inside the head of their target market. User Explorer can help with that. By incorporating User Explorer with the more commonly used sections of the Audience tab in Analytics you can further develop, expand, and learn about your customer personas.

    Example Three – Upsell Higher Priced Products or Services

    Why do some people buy your $1,000 product while others only opt for the $150 product? Through User Explorer you could learn that people who buy your higher-end product all visited a few key pages on your site that other people missed. If this is the case you can adjust your marketing strategy accordingly. Not all of the lower tier purchasers will buy the more expensive product, but some undoubtedly will.

    Should I Use User Explorer?

    Not all businesses will benefit from User Explorer. If your business is in a very particular niche and all of your website visitors are similar, you won’t get much value from it. If you only get a few conversions a month and don’t have a lot of people visiting your site you likely won’t benefit from User Explorer. If you have a product or service that appeals to all ages, genders, etc. then looking at the individual level may not add give you any insight.

    User Explorer can be very valuable but like many advanced Google Analytics functions it’s not necessary for every business. If you want help understanding how people interact with your website or want to take your marketing to the next level contact us today!

    When Should You Change an Ad?

    “How long should I leave my ads running?”

    “How often should you change your ad copy or image?”

    “Has my ad been running long enough to know if it’s a good ad?”

    These are questions I get asked frequently and, perhaps surprisingly, they all have the same answer.

    Are you ready for it?

    Answer: It depends.

    I know, I know, that’s the kind of answer you’d expect from a marketer, but hear me out.

    An ad should only be changed when you’ve reached statistical significance. Said another way, when you’ve reached a P-Value of .05 you should change your ads. Said again, when you’re 95% confident that one ad will outperform another ad you should pause the underperforming ad. Final time without any statistical jargon, when an ad will outperform another ad 19 out of 20 times you should pause the other ad. Only then can you pause the ineffective ad, duplicate the winner, and create a new variation to start the A/B test all over again.

    Statistical significance, confidence levels, P-values … You may be wondering when this became a lesson on statistics. You can’t know when to change an ad without understanding some basic statistic concepts. Changing an ad for the sake of change is inefficient and ultimately won’t lead to better results. Hopefully these examples will help you understand the importance of statistical significance.

    Example One

    You have two ads running. Ad One has had 5 impressions and 1 click. Ad Two has had 5 impressions and 2 clicks.

    Impressions Clicks Clickthrough Rate
    Ad One 5 1 20%
    Ad Two 5 2 40%

    40% compared to 20% may seem significant, but is that enough data to determine which ad is more effective? At first glance you may think so, but let’s take a deeper look.

    What happens if in the next 5 impressions Ad One gets 5 more clicks while Ad Two doesn’t get any more clicks?

    Impressions Clicks Clickthrough Rate
    Ad One 10 6 60%
    Ad Two 10 2 20%

    Now Ad One seems to be outperforming Ad Two. 5 more impressions could swing the balance again though, your sample size isn’t large enough and you need to let your ads run longer.

    Example Two

    Let’s try that again using similar, but larger, starting numbers.

    Impressions Clicks Clickthrough Rate
    Ad One 500 100 20%
    Ad Two 500 200 40%

    Ad Two is winning, but what happens when both ads get 5 more impressions and Ad One gets 5 more clicks while Ad Two doesn’t get any?

    Impressions Clicks Clickthrough Rate
    Ad One 505 105 20.8%
    Ad Two 505 200 39.6%

    The clickthrough rates barely change and Ad Two remains the top-performer.

    Because the sample size (impressions in this case) in Example One was so small, you couldn’t with any confidence say which ad will outperform the other. Even 5 more impressions drastically changed the success rates (i.e. clickthrough rates). In Example Two though, 5 more impressions barely changed the success rate and Ad Two was still the winner.

    General Rules of Thumb

    Optimize based off of conversion rate when possible, otherwise use clickthrough rate.

    When your success rates are similar you’ll need a much larger sample size.

    When your success rates differ by a large margin you can get away with a smaller sample size.

    The more traffic your ads get, the sooner you can reach statistical significance.

    The less traffic you get, the longer your ads have to run before you can make a change.

    Statistical Significance Calculators

    Say you have a large sample size and the success rates seem to differ enough… Is it statistically significant? Unless the difference is drastic enough, there’s no way to look at a set of numbers and know if you’ve reached the 95% confidence level. Even then you shouldn’t trust your “gut”. This is where technology comes to the rescue. There are a number of statistical significance calculators out there, but I prefer House of Kaizen’s A/B/n split test significance calculator.

    I like this calculator because it makes things simple. Going back to the first example, I’ll put the impressions under #Visitors and the clicks under Conversions. When I hit the calculate button the calculator tells me what confidence level I’ve reached. It even reminds me to wait for a 95% confidence level.

    Statistical Significance Calculator

    How Will This Affect My Campaign?

    I don’t change ads for the sake of change. I only make changes when I’m 95% confident that one ad will outperform the other. By waiting to reach statistical significance I ensure I don’t pause an ad that will end up leading to more conversions or clicks. I duplicate the winner, make additional changes, and then start the process all over again. What this does is lead to an increase month over month in conversion rates or clickthrough rates. The increases aren’t always monumental (especially when I’ve been making these incremental improvements for a while), but they prove the system works. This is a screenshot from our AdWords manager account that shows the increase in clickthrough rate (in blue) and conversion rate (in red) since Epic Marketing implemented this optimization strategy.

    AdWords Performance

    As you can see, waiting for statistical significance before changing an ad has led to massive increases in both clickthrough rates and conversions rates in the last two years. This is a trend we expect to continue.

    Final Thoughts

    All things being equal, the longer your ads have been running or the larger your sample size the more likely you can determine a winner. You should wait until you reach statistical significance before changing an ad and there are many calculators that can help you know if you’ve reached it. By only changing an ad when you’re certain it’s the winner, you can achieve consistent month-over-month increases in conversion rates and clickthrough rates.

    So back to our original questions:

    “How long should I leave my ads running?”

    “How often should you change up your ad copy or image?”

    “Has my ad been running long enough to know if it’s working?”

    Answer: It depends.

    And now you know why.