Twitter Engagement

Twitter Strategies for Engagement

Don’t work hard, work smart. I see a lot of small businesses marketing on social media. That’s great!

It’s important to have a presence on as many relevant online channels as you can, because there are many users who primarily consume one channel over others. Increasing activity on any channel gives you the opportunity to put your business or services in front of potential clients that you might not be able to reach any other way.

But the real challenge on social media channels like Twitter is utilizing the platform in a way that really engages potential customers.   A lot of brands can cover the basics – you have an account set up, you’re regularly publishing original content from your blog, you have a couple of hundred people following you. You’ve analyzed your competition. But this is where a lot of brands stop.

Now what?   Engagement!


The basics of engagement are:

  • When you are posting content from your site, make sure to write an original lead – don’t just use the title of your post.
  • Comment on other people’s tweets – an interaction is the only way to build a relationship.
  • Twitter is about people. It’s great that you have a branded account for your business – that’s essential. But beyond that, people on Twitter trust other people on Twitter.
  • Identify key members of your staff who can be brand advocates. You will gain more community members and your message will reach more people in aggregate when you have more team members active online.
  • Retweet! (RT) Again, when you retweet a message, add a note that builds a conversation.
  • Not sure what to write? Ask questions – it encourages people to respond to your messages.
  • Use #hashtags – words to describe the topic of the content that you are posting. You can try a number of advanced strategies for your hashtags, like creating branded ones for your company campaigns, tapping into trending topics or engaging highly targeted demographics.

Twitter Engagement

Don’t forget to measure your success with Analytics. There are a number of good analytics tools out there for social media, but this is an area where there is also a lot of market opportunity. I often find that I have to gather information from varied analytics programs in order to get a good picture of how my social media accounts are performing, and often the measurements don’t really mean anything.

Google Analytics Campaign Tracking

How to Implement Campaign Tracking & What to Use it For

Google Analytics Campaign Tracking
Campaign Tracking – it’s so easy once you figure out how to do it. And if you can’t figure it out, don’t worry there are several tools to help do it for you.

My favorite use of campaign tracking is to attribute inbound traffic from email sources – which would otherwise show up as undefined or a bunch of random referrals from email clients. I like to split up my emails according to type – Member, Trial Member, NonMember – with separate campaigns for our different email marketing campaigns: newsletters, events, promotions, direct sales contact points.

You can also use campaign tracking with vanity urls on your direct marketing mail, to help measure the success rate. For example, an event invite could contain the unique url: with a 301 redirect to a url with the campaign tracking. There will still be some anomalies with this method, but it does help with some attribution from direct mail efforts.

Campaign Tracking is also a great way to register Bing ppc traffic and properly attribute social traffic from your social media campaigns.

A few points of warning:

Don’t forget that the destination url must have Google Analytics installed on it in order to capture the visit from the campaign tracking. This means that you can’t use Campaign Tracking on links that go to a pdf on your website. Well, you can, but the visit will not be recorded. In order to record these visits, set up a 301 redirect that brings the visitor to a webpage before loading the pdf.

Don’t confuse Campaign Tracking with Event Tracking. Campaign Tracking uses url parameters to register arrivals to a page, while Event Tracking uses javascript to record an event that happens on a page like a button click or a download.

Given the previous explanations and warnings, these are the parameters for campaign tracking:

Here is an example tagged URL (split across several lines):

For Email marketing the parameters recommended are:

* utm_medium – medium used for marketing, i.e. email
* utm_campaign – campaign name, e.g. EnewsNovember
* utm_source – This is usually the media owner, but for email marketing can be used to specify the source of email list, e.g. HouseList or the name of external list providers/Newsletter ads
* * utm_term – In AdWords used to identify the keyword used to trigger the ad, can be used in email marketing to identify individual links (optional), e.g. Offer1, can be based on click text summary
* * utm_content – Used to track an individual or segments response (optional), this could be based on any field in database, e.g. user-id, user email, etc.

If you’re having trouble, check this tool out:
Google Analytics URL Builder:

SEO Best Practices

SEO Best Practices

SEO Best Practices
At the core, on page SEO best practices haven’t changed very much even though the Google search algorithm has had such a major overhaul over the past few years.

Here are a few things you should make sure you are doing right:

1. Title Tag – the title tag is a very important on page ranking factor. The title should be 70 characters or less, and keyword rich. Include your brand name in the title tag if you need to – you do want your website to rank for your brand. The title tag should also be readable. This is the title that is displayed along with your url in the search results. Sometimes Google will make up it’s own title, scraped from the page content based on the user’s keyword search. Don’t be surprised if you see this – there’s probably nothing wrong with your code (although you should check it anyway).

*Should you use piping or dashes to separate your keywords? In the past, most people used piping. Now dashes are more popular. In reality, it doesn’t affect your ranking to use one or the other. Dashes are slightly more readable. In coding the pipes are used to indicate that one phrase has the same meaning as the other, so technically speaking the pipes make more sense.

2. Meta Description – this isn’t a ranking factor, but it is important to improving your click through rate (CTR). The meta description should be 150-160 characters, and keyword rich. This is the description that shows up along with your website in the search results. It’s your call to action to get people to click on your link, so make it a good one. It should reflect the content of the pages that follow it. Sometimes the search engines will create a unique meta description for the web page, especially if you haven’t designated a meta description. This can be good, so use this tactic when it is relevant.

3. Keyword Tag – the keyword tag is actually deprecated. There’s no reason to use it. Please stop. Bing might use it as a ranking signal, but Google definitely doesn’t. It can even be a spam signal to Google if you’re not using it properly. So, if you must use it stick to 1 or 2 keywords. The meta description is the sentence that shows up to describe your url in the search results.

4. H1 tag – this is the “title” of your page that the visitors see. This should also be keyword rich. I’ve read conflicting reports that it may or may not affect the on page SEO results, but in my experience it is a ranking factor. It should be no more than 70 characters as well.

5. Keyword rich content – this is the most important part (and the hardest to make sound natural)! The content should be at least 400-600 words, and for every 100 words you can have about 2 keyword links. Each link should go to a different page on your website. Bold or underlined phrases are also good ranking signals for search engines.

6. Alt Tags on images – make sure to put alt tags on your images! These should also be keyword rich. While this is a weaker ranking signal, it can help bring in traffic from Google Image Search – which has different ranking criteria than the regular Google search traffic. In my experience it has been really easy to get images to rank.

7. URL string – it’s really important to have keyword rich url strings. You can separate the words with dashes. If you have to redo the urls on your website, make sure to set up 301 permanent redirects for the old urls in the .htaccess file (this is really easy). If your site is in dynamic code, make sure to fix the permalinks if you can. A lot of CMS out there like WordPress are great at offering options to fix the permalinks, but beware of funky plugins that break your links (My site is a great example of this). Right now Google search places more emphasis on exact match keyword url rather than broad, but in the past it was a different story.



How do you find the right keywords for your website? That’s another post.


Additional Resources:
Visual Guide to On Page Optimization
Google Friendly Sites
Visual Guide to On Page Optimization

Dark Social & Campaign Tracking

Dark Social – the name always reminds me of the Dark Crystal.Dark Social

If you’re not as familiar with the term as you are with the movie, “Dark Social” is important because it is probably throwing off your idea of your brand strength metric.

In most analytics tracking tools, like Google Analytics, “Direct” visitors are also grouped together with “undefined” visitors. “Direct” visitors actually type your url into their web browser; “Undefined”/none visitors are the ones that come to your site from some other source that the analytics program can’t identify.

There are many reasons for “Undefined” – these links could be shared in emails, through chat windows, through social media messages etc. This basically includes all inbound traffic that didn’t come from public referring websites or public social media posts. This traffic is also referred to in internet marketing as “Dark Social”.

To find the dark social in Google Analytics, navigate to “Acquisition” > “All Traffic”. Click on “Direct/(none)” and select Secondary Dimension: Landing Page from the dropdown. Now for some “Advanced” tab search magic – exclude Landing Page Containing Regex for the main pages on your site. Basically, the main pages would refer to any urls people would type into the browser. If you don’t know regex, that’s another post. But here is a link to a really great regex generator tool tool – the “Regexinator” – from Lunametrics that can help you now.

The landing page links that should be left after the filter should probably be really long. This is the mystical dark social.

Where did these people come from? Who are they? What do they want (to buy) from you? There’s no real way to know – you can only guess.

To minimize the dark traffic in the future, improve or check the Campaign Tracking on your email links, or add tracking to links that are posted on private sites and social accounts. If you work at a business with multiple customer contact points, make sure to talk to the sales guys about campaign tracking and train them on it. It’s important to be able to properly attribute any online transactions to the channel they came from – you can even track down to the exact email that was sent.

If you go back in to Google Analytics and reverse the filter, you should be looking at your actual Direct traffic – this is a closer representation of your brand strength. The percentage of your traffic that should be coming from Direct, Search, Email, Referral or Social varies greatly by industry. For oil and gas, it should be about 30% for Direct.

If you’re feeling more adventurous, try this implementation for Dark Social by Lunametrics.

For more info about Dark Social, check out this link on Dark Social: We Have the Whole History of the Web Wrong.


Email Marketing Campaign Tips

Email Marketing Campaign Tips

Email Marketing Campaign Tips
Email Marketing is easy once you get the hang of it. But first, you have to get the basics right. These are the top email marketing tips that you have to tend to:

1. Engaging Subject Line – This is what makes people click. If your subject line isn’t compelling enough, they won’t even make it to the content.

2. Personalization - One of the main reasons people don’t respond to an email is because it isn’t personal enough. If possible, make sure that you include some kind of dynamic content to pique their interest – even if it’s just their name in the content or greeting.

3. Strong Call to Action – If you want people to respond to your email, make it very clear what you want them to do. This could be anything from downloading an e-book, subscribing online, calling, etc. The biggest mistake I see here is giving people too many options to choose from (or links to click on that don’t lead to sales). Or – even worse – telling them you know there are a lot of other great products on the market and that you will follow up with them “later.” Lol.

4. Don’t include too many links or images in the email – this can lead servers to identify you as spam.

5. Pay attention to email open rates and optimize your campaigns to lead to more clicks.

6. Segment your email lists as much as possible to make sure clients or potential clients are getting the emails they would be interested in reading.

7. Design for mobile – Many people open their emails on mobile devices these days.

8. Include Social Share links in your emails – this is the easiest click that you are missing out on.

I hope this list helps you out. If you have any questions or need help with your email marketing, please contact me through my contact page.

Search Operators

How To Use Search Operators to Expand Your Search

Search OperatorsKnowing Search Operator terms can be invaluable for digging into big data to find what you need. You can use these search terms to analyze a site – client or competitor – in search engines. Simply type them into Google or Bing.

Search fields in many other applications also comply with these operator terms, so don’t be afraid to try them out on websites other than the mega big search engines. I use them all the time!

Matches phrase exactly: ” ”
Includes all: (space),AND
Includes any: OR
Excludes: -
Links to page: url:
Links to subdomain: sd:
Links to a root domain: rd:
Results from a site: site:
Exclude results from a site: -site:

How to Optimize Your Shopping Cart

Optimizing your shopping cart is one of the most important things you can do to increase sales on your ecommerce site and bring up your conversion rate.

Here’s a website that I see pretty often, that has been doing shopping cart optimization well for a long time: Forever21

Let’s break this down first, and at the bottom of the post is the full website screenshot.


1. Breadcrumb Trail - A breadcrumb trail increases buyer confidence and helps ease their anxiety about the checkout process by managing their expectations of what the next step is. There are steps built in for final review, too.



2. Easy to Edit -


3. Customer Support Line Clearly Indicated and 4. Clear Return Policy - One of the keys to a successful shopping cart is eliminating as much of the online shopper’s anxiety as possible, and answering all of their questions. It’s essential to have a customer support line available to help answer questions and solve problems completing the transaction. Most of the time people won’t even use this function – but it makes them feel more at ease to have it there.


5. Promo Code & Discounts Prominently Displayed - Make it really obvious early on where your customers need to enter in discount codes, and market the promos on the checkout page. If the customer is this far along in the marketing funnel, they’ve already done their research and they know what discount codes they want to apply. Make sure they don’t have to hunt for the promo code box, or – even worse – leave the cart to find the promo code elsewhere on the site. Keep moving them along to process the payment!


6. Shows Credit Card Payment Options - Let the customer know as soon as possible what payment options you accept.


7. Security Certificates Placed by Credit Card Options - Increase buyer confidence in your website’s security by displaying the security certificates right next to payment information – especially where they are going to enter in the credit card information. Online shoppers don’t want to dish out their credit card info to just anyone! Make it clear they will avoid identity theft on your website.


8. Sign In or Don’t -Make the sign in process as painless as possible, but also offer guest checkout to expedite the process. Don’t require a customer password in order to process a payment – you’re just creating extra steps that can ward off ready buyers.

Here’s the final shopping cart result – very clean and easy to read. The only thing I would change is to take off the menu bar at the shopping cart. At this part in the shopping funnel a marketer wants to remove as much information as possible that can divert the buyer from completing the process.

Forever 21 used to do this – maybe they A/B tested their way out of the practice. I remember thinking it was annoying in the past, and navigating back to the main site anyway. But, it’s still a best practice.