Category Archives: ThinkSmart

How to Sell More with AI

The Future Of Sales : Artificial Intelligence (AI ) IN DIGITAL MARKETING
The Future Of Sales : Artificial Intelligence (AI ) IN DIGITAL MARKETING

Artificial intelligence (AI) is here to stay and is rapidly becoming part of your everyday life. For example, you can find AI in cellphones, websites, televisions, and cars. So from a marketing perspective, it’s time to ask: “How can I sell more with AI?”

Purpose

First, it’s important to know the purpose of AI. This can be summed up as follows:

  • To make life simpler
  • To make calculations that humans find difficult or impossible
  • To make business transactions easier and more successful

The last point is what interests us here. But how, in practical terms, can AI achieve this for you?

Leads

AI can use a vast amount of data to propose sales solutions, products, and potential customers. In other words, AI can identify your most promising leads and what they need. Such a process saves you time. It also enables you to focus your marketing efforts with greater success.

Personal and Accurate

To be more specific: AI can provide you with data about customers that is personal and accurate. You then use it to sell your products and services.

Take almost any major sales website. When you visit, the site makes personalized suggestions for purchases, based on your prior purchase data. This is an example of AI at work.

Website

If you use AI for online sales, you can:

  • Give each visitor individual attention
  • Target your potential customers with your ads when they are surfing the internet
  • Improve your search engine optimization (SEO) and ensure more people come to your site

Emails

AI can also improve email sales campaigns.

By analyzing data, AI can help you send custom messages to specific consumer segments. In this way, you target your sales campaign more effectively.

AI Sales Assistants

You may well have experienced AI sales assistants, or chatbots. They appear on a website, engaging a customer in conversation, answering questions, and providing help. This process, in turn, improves your potential to sell.

Your Brand

Your brand is important to you and your customers. Your customers need to respect and trust it.

When you use AI to give your customers individual suggestions and help, their respect and trust in you grows. For example, they know that you are not targeting them with emails and ads randomly and thoughtlessly. Thus, AI can become an integral part of your brand development.

Competitors and Technology

It’s clear that AI can give you a marketing edge. But you need to stay abreast of the technology- it is developing fast. As it does so, cost-effective AI for different business solutions is becoming available. Ensure that you know what’s out there and what you can expect.

Analysis and Strategy

AI is an analytical tool. What’s more, it’s better than humans. And since sales analysis is a critical part of any marketing strategy, AI helps you to identify your opportunities.

Just as important, AI can provide data about your strengths and weaknesses. It enables you to improve sales and reduce wasted time and effort. So why not take a look at what others are doing with AI? Then think about the benefits that it can bring to your business.

 

The Complete Guide to Direct Traffic in Google Analytics

Posted by tombennet

When it comes to direct traffic in Analytics, there are two deeply entrenched misconceptions.

The first is that it’s caused almost exclusively by users typing an address into their browser (or clicking on a bookmark). The second is that it’s a Bad Thing, not because it has any overt negative impact on your site’s performance, but rather because it’s somehow immune to further analysis. The prevailing attitude amongst digital marketers is that direct traffic is an unavoidable inconvenience; as a result, discussion of direct is typically limited to ways of attributing it to other channels, or side-stepping the issues associated with it.

In this article, we’ll be taking a fresh look at direct traffic in modern Google Analytics. As well as exploring the myriad ways in which referrer data can be lost, we’ll look at some tools and tactics you can start using immediately to reduce levels of direct traffic in your reports. Finally, we’ll discover how advanced analysis and segmentation can unlock the mysteries of direct traffic and shed light on what might actually be your most valuable users.

What is direct traffic?

In short, Google Analytics will report a traffic source of "direct" when it has no data on how the session arrived at your website, or when the referring source has been configured to be ignored. You can think of direct as GA’s fall-back option for when its processing logic has failed to attribute a session to a particular source.

To properly understand the causes and fixes for direct traffic, it’s important to understand exactly how GA processes traffic sources. The following flow-chart illustrates how sessions are bucketed — note that direct sits right at the end as a final "catch-all" group.

Broadly speaking, and disregarding user-configured overrides, GA’s processing follows this sequence of checks:

AdWords parameters > Campaign overrides > UTM campaign parameters > Referred by a search engine > Referred by another website > Previous campaign within timeout period > Direct

Note the penultimate processing step (previous campaign within timeout), which has a significant impact on the direct channel. Consider a user who discovers your site via organic search, then returns via direct a week later. Both sessions would be attributed to organic search. In fact, campaign data persists for up to six months by default. The key point here is that Google Analytics is already trying to minimize the impact of direct traffic for you.

What causes direct traffic?

Contrary to popular belief, there are actually many reasons why a session might be missing campaign and traffic source data. Here we will run through some of the most common.

1. Manual address entry and bookmarks

The classic direct-traffic scenario, this one is largely unavoidable. If a user types a URL into their browser’s address bar or clicks on a browser bookmark, that session will appear as direct traffic.

Simple as that.

2. HTTPS > HTTP

When a user follows a link on a secure (HTTPS) page to a non-secure (HTTP) page, no referrer data is passed, meaning the session appears as direct traffic instead of as a referral. Note that this is intended behavior. It’s part of how the secure protocol was designed, and it does not affect other scenarios: HTTP to HTTP, HTTPS to HTTPS, and even HTTP to HTTPS all pass referrer data.

So, if your referral traffic has tanked but direct has spiked, it could be that one of your major referrers has migrated to HTTPS. The inverse is also true: If you’ve migrated to HTTPS and are linking to HTTP websites, the traffic you’re driving to them will appear in their Analytics as direct.

If your referrers have moved to HTTPS and you’re stuck on HTTP, you really ought to consider migrating to HTTPS. Doing so (and updating your backlinks to point to HTTPS URLs) will bring back any referrer data which is being stripped from cross-protocol traffic. SSL certificates can now be obtained for free thanks to automated authorities like LetsEncrypt, but that’s not to say you should neglect to explore the potentially-significant SEO implications of site migrations. Remember, HTTPS and HTTP/2 are the future of the web.

If, on the other hand, you’ve already migrated to HTTPS and are concerned about your users appearing to partner websites as direct traffic, you can implement the meta referrer tag. Cyrus Shepard has written about this on Moz before, so I won’t delve into it now. Suffice to say, it’s a way of telling browsers to pass some referrer data to non-secure sites, and can be implemented as a <meta> element or HTTP header.

3. Missing or broken tracking code

Let’s say you’ve launched a new landing page template and forgotten to include the GA tracking code. Or, to use a scenario I’m encountering more and more frequently, imagine your GTM container is a horrible mess of poorly configured triggers, and your tracking code is simply failing to fire.

Users land on this page without tracking code. They click on a link to a deeper page which does have tracking code. From GA’s perspective, the first hit of the session is the second page visited, meaning that the referrer appears as your own website (i.e. a self-referral). If your domain is on the referral exclusion list (as per default configuration), the session is bucketed as direct. This will happen even if the first URL is tagged with UTM campaign parameters.

As a short-term fix, you can try to repair the damage by simply adding the missing tracking code. To prevent it happening again, carry out a thorough Analytics audit, move to a GTM-based tracking implementation, and promote a culture of data-driven marketing.

4. Improper redirection

This is an easy one. Don’t use meta refreshes or JavaScript-based redirects — these can wipe or replace referrer data, leading to direct traffic in Analytics. You should also be meticulous with your server-side redirects, and — as is often recommended by SEOs — audit your redirect file frequently. Complex chains are more likely to result in a loss of referrer data, and you run the risk of UTM parameters getting stripped out.

Once again, control what you can: use carefully mapped (i.e. non-chained) code 301 server-side redirects to preserve referrer data wherever possible.

5. Non-web documents

Links in Microsoft Word documents, slide decks, or PDFs do not pass referrer information. By default, users who click these links will appear in your reports as direct traffic. Clicks from native mobile apps (particularly those with embedded "in-app" browsers) are similarly prone to stripping out referrer data.

To a degree, this is unavoidable. Much like so-called “dark social” visits (discussed in detail below), non-web links will inevitably result in some quantity of direct traffic. However, you also have an opportunity here to control the controllables.

If you publish whitepapers or offer downloadable PDF guides, for example, you should be tagging the embedded hyperlinks with UTM campaign parameters. You’d never even contemplate launching an email marketing campaign without campaign tracking (I hope), so why would you distribute any other kind of freebie without similarly tracking its success? In some ways this is even more important, since these kinds of downloadables often have a longevity not seen in a single email campaign. Here’s an example of a properly tagged URL which we would embed as a link:

https://builtvisible.com/embedded-whitepaper-url/?…_medium=offline_document&utm_campaign=201711_utm_whitepaper

The same goes for URLs in your offline marketing materials. For major campaigns it’s common practice to select a short, memorable URL (e.g. moz.com/tv/) and design an entirely new landing page. It’s possible to bypass page creation altogether: simply redirect the vanity URL to an existing page URL which is properly tagged with UTM parameters.

So, whether you tag your URLs directly, use redirected vanity URLs, or — if you think UTM parameters are ugly — opt for some crazy-ass hash-fragment solution with GTM (read more here), the takeaway is the same: use campaign parameters wherever it’s appropriate to do so.

6. “Dark social”

This is a big one, and probably the least well understood by marketers.

The term “dark social” was first coined back in 2012 by Alexis Madrigal in an article for The Atlantic. Essentially it refers to methods of social sharing which cannot easily be attributed to a particular source, like email, instant messaging, Skype, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger.

Recent studies have found that upwards of 80% of consumers’ outbound sharing from publishers’ and marketers’ websites now occurs via these private channels. In terms of numbers of active users, messaging apps are outpacing social networking apps. All the activity driven by these thriving platforms is typically bucketed as direct traffic by web analytics software.

People who use the ambiguous phrase “social media marketing” are typically referring to advertising: you broadcast your message and hope people will listen. Even if you overcome consumer indifference with a well-targeted campaign, any subsequent interactions are affected by their very public nature. The privacy of dark social, by contrast, represents a potential goldmine of intimate, targeted, and relevant interactions with high conversion potential. Nebulous and difficult-to-track though it may be, dark social has the potential to let marketers tap into elusive power of word of mouth.

So, how can we minimize the amount of dark social traffic which is bucketed under direct? The unfortunate truth is that there is no magic bullet: proper attribution of dark social requires rigorous campaign tracking. The optimal approach will vary greatly based on your industry, audience, proposition, and so on. For many websites, however, a good first step is to provide convenient and properly configured sharing buttons for private platforms like email, WhatsApp, and Slack, thereby ensuring that users share URLs appended with UTM parameters (or vanity/shortened URLs which redirect to the same). This will go some way towards shining a light on part of your dark social traffic.

Checklist: Minimizing direct traffic

To summarize what we’ve already discussed, here are the steps you can take to minimize the level of unnecessary direct traffic in your reports:

  1. Migrate to HTTPS: Not only is the secure protocol your gateway to HTTP/2 and the future of the web, it will also have an enormously positive effect on your ability to track referral traffic.
  2. Manage your use of redirects: Avoid chains and eliminate client-side redirection in favour of carefully-mapped, single-hop, server-side 301s. If you use vanity URLs to redirect to pages with UTM parameters, be meticulous.
  3. Get really good at campaign tagging: Even amongst data-driven marketers I encounter the belief that UTM begins and ends with switching on automatic tagging in your email marketing software. Others go to the other extreme, doing silly things like tagging internal links. Control what you can, and your ability to carry out meaningful attribution will markedly improve.
  4. Conduct an Analytics audit: Data integrity is vital, so consider this essential when assessing the success of your marketing. It’s not simply a case of checking for missing track code: good audits involve a review of your measurement plan and rigorous testing at page and property-level.

Adhere to these principles, and it’s often possible to achieve a dramatic reduction in the level of direct traffic reported in Analytics. The following example involved an HTTPS migration, GTM migration (as part of an Analytics review), and an overhaul of internal campaign tracking processes over the course of about 6 months:

But the saga of direct traffic doesn’t end there! Once this channel is “clean” — that is, once you’ve minimized the number of avoidable pollutants — what remains might actually be one of your most valuable traffic segments.

Analyze! Or: why direct traffic can actually be pretty cool

For reasons we’ve already discussed, traffic from bookmarks and dark social is an enormously valuable segment to analyze. These are likely to be some of your most loyal and engaged users, and it’s not uncommon to see a notably higher conversion rate for a clean direct channel compared to the site average. You should make the effort to get to know them.

The number of potential avenues to explore is infinite, but here are some good starting points:

  • Build meaningful custom segments, defining a subset of your direct traffic based on their landing page, location, device, repeat visit or purchase behavior, or even enhanced e-commerce interactions.
  • Track meaningful engagement metrics using modern GTM triggers such as element visibility and native scroll tracking. Measure how your direct users are using and viewing your content.
  • Watch for correlations with your other marketing activities, and use it as an opportunity to refine your tagging practices and segment definitions. Create a custom alert which watches for spikes in direct traffic.
  • Familiarize yourself with flow reports to get an understanding of how your direct traffic is converting. By using Goal Flow and Behavior Flow reports with segmentation, it’s often possible to glean actionable insights which can be applied to the site as a whole.
  • Ask your users for help! If you’ve isolated a valuable segment of traffic which eludes deeper analysis, add a button to the page offering visitors a free downloadable ebook if they tell you how they discovered your page.
  • Start thinking about lifetime value, if you haven’t already — overhauling your attribution model or implementing User ID are good steps towards overcoming the indifference or frustration felt by marketers towards direct traffic.

I hope this guide has been useful. With any luck, you arrived looking for ways to reduce the level of direct traffic in your reports, and left with some new ideas for how to better analyze this valuable segment of users.

Thanks for reading!

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

Posted by tombennet

When it comes to direct traffic in Analytics, there are two deeply entrenched misconceptions.

The first is that it’s caused almost exclusively by users typing an address into their browser (or clicking on a bookmark). The second is that it’s a Bad Thing, not because it has any overt negative impact on your site’s performance, but rather because it’s somehow immune to further analysis. The prevailing attitude amongst digital marketers is that direct traffic is an unavoidable inconvenience; as a result, discussion of direct is typically limited to ways of attributing it to other channels, or side-stepping the issues associated with it.

In this article, we’ll be taking a fresh look at direct traffic in modern Google Analytics. As well as exploring the myriad ways in which referrer data can be lost, we’ll look at some tools and tactics you can start using immediately to reduce levels of direct traffic in your reports. Finally, we’ll discover how advanced analysis and segmentation can unlock the mysteries of direct traffic and shed light on what might actually be your most valuable users.

What is direct traffic?

In short, Google Analytics will report a traffic source of "direct" when it has no data on how the session arrived at your website, or when the referring source has been configured to be ignored. You can think of direct as GA’s fall-back option for when its processing logic has failed to attribute a session to a particular source.

To properly understand the causes and fixes for direct traffic, it’s important to understand exactly how GA processes traffic sources. The following flow-chart illustrates how sessions are bucketed — note that direct sits right at the end as a final "catch-all" group.

Broadly speaking, and disregarding user-configured overrides, GA’s processing follows this sequence of checks:

AdWords parameters > Campaign overrides > UTM campaign parameters > Referred by a search engine > Referred by another website > Previous campaign within timeout period > Direct

Note the penultimate processing step (previous campaign within timeout), which has a significant impact on the direct channel. Consider a user who discovers your site via organic search, then returns via direct a week later. Both sessions would be attributed to organic search. In fact, campaign data persists for up to six months by default. The key point here is that Google Analytics is already trying to minimize the impact of direct traffic for you.

What causes direct traffic?

Contrary to popular belief, there are actually many reasons why a session might be missing campaign and traffic source data. Here we will run through some of the most common.

1. Manual address entry and bookmarks

The classic direct-traffic scenario, this one is largely unavoidable. If a user types a URL into their browser’s address bar or clicks on a browser bookmark, that session will appear as direct traffic.

Simple as that.

2. HTTPS > HTTP

When a user follows a link on a secure (HTTPS) page to a non-secure (HTTP) page, no referrer data is passed, meaning the session appears as direct traffic instead of as a referral. Note that this is intended behavior. It’s part of how the secure protocol was designed, and it does not affect other scenarios: HTTP to HTTP, HTTPS to HTTPS, and even HTTP to HTTPS all pass referrer data.

So, if your referral traffic has tanked but direct has spiked, it could be that one of your major referrers has migrated to HTTPS. The inverse is also true: If you’ve migrated to HTTPS and are linking to HTTP websites, the traffic you’re driving to them will appear in their Analytics as direct.

If your referrers have moved to HTTPS and you’re stuck on HTTP, you really ought to consider migrating to HTTPS. Doing so (and updating your backlinks to point to HTTPS URLs) will bring back any referrer data which is being stripped from cross-protocol traffic. SSL certificates can now be obtained for free thanks to automated authorities like LetsEncrypt, but that’s not to say you should neglect to explore the potentially-significant SEO implications of site migrations. Remember, HTTPS and HTTP/2 are the future of the web.

If, on the other hand, you’ve already migrated to HTTPS and are concerned about your users appearing to partner websites as direct traffic, you can implement the meta referrer tag. Cyrus Shepard has written about this on Moz before, so I won’t delve into it now. Suffice to say, it’s a way of telling browsers to pass some referrer data to non-secure sites, and can be implemented as a <meta> element or HTTP header.

3. Missing or broken tracking code

Let’s say you’ve launched a new landing page template and forgotten to include the GA tracking code. Or, to use a scenario I’m encountering more and more frequently, imagine your GTM container is a horrible mess of poorly configured triggers, and your tracking code is simply failing to fire.

Users land on this page without tracking code. They click on a link to a deeper page which does have tracking code. From GA’s perspective, the first hit of the session is the second page visited, meaning that the referrer appears as your own website (i.e. a self-referral). If your domain is on the referral exclusion list (as per default configuration), the session is bucketed as direct. This will happen even if the first URL is tagged with UTM campaign parameters.

As a short-term fix, you can try to repair the damage by simply adding the missing tracking code. To prevent it happening again, carry out a thorough Analytics audit, move to a GTM-based tracking implementation, and promote a culture of data-driven marketing.

4. Improper redirection

This is an easy one. Don’t use meta refreshes or JavaScript-based redirects — these can wipe or replace referrer data, leading to direct traffic in Analytics. You should also be meticulous with your server-side redirects, and — as is often recommended by SEOs — audit your redirect file frequently. Complex chains are more likely to result in a loss of referrer data, and you run the risk of UTM parameters getting stripped out.

Once again, control what you can: use carefully mapped (i.e. non-chained) code 301 server-side redirects to preserve referrer data wherever possible.

5. Non-web documents

Links in Microsoft Word documents, slide decks, or PDFs do not pass referrer information. By default, users who click these links will appear in your reports as direct traffic. Clicks from native mobile apps (particularly those with embedded "in-app" browsers) are similarly prone to stripping out referrer data.

To a degree, this is unavoidable. Much like so-called “dark social” visits (discussed in detail below), non-web links will inevitably result in some quantity of direct traffic. However, you also have an opportunity here to control the controllables.

If you publish whitepapers or offer downloadable PDF guides, for example, you should be tagging the embedded hyperlinks with UTM campaign parameters. You’d never even contemplate launching an email marketing campaign without campaign tracking (I hope), so why would you distribute any other kind of freebie without similarly tracking its success? In some ways this is even more important, since these kinds of downloadables often have a longevity not seen in a single email campaign. Here’s an example of a properly tagged URL which we would embed as a link:

https://builtvisible.com/embedded-whitepaper-url/?…_medium=offline_document&utm_campaign=201711_utm_whitepaper

The same goes for URLs in your offline marketing materials. For major campaigns it’s common practice to select a short, memorable URL (e.g. moz.com/tv/) and design an entirely new landing page. It’s possible to bypass page creation altogether: simply redirect the vanity URL to an existing page URL which is properly tagged with UTM parameters.

So, whether you tag your URLs directly, use redirected vanity URLs, or — if you think UTM parameters are ugly — opt for some crazy-ass hash-fragment solution with GTM (read more here), the takeaway is the same: use campaign parameters wherever it’s appropriate to do so.

6. “Dark social”

This is a big one, and probably the least well understood by marketers.

The term “dark social” was first coined back in 2012 by Alexis Madrigal in an article for The Atlantic. Essentially it refers to methods of social sharing which cannot easily be attributed to a particular source, like email, instant messaging, Skype, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger.

Recent studies have found that upwards of 80% of consumers’ outbound sharing from publishers’ and marketers’ websites now occurs via these private channels. In terms of numbers of active users, messaging apps are outpacing social networking apps. All the activity driven by these thriving platforms is typically bucketed as direct traffic by web analytics software.

People who use the ambiguous phrase “social media marketing” are typically referring to advertising: you broadcast your message and hope people will listen. Even if you overcome consumer indifference with a well-targeted campaign, any subsequent interactions are affected by their very public nature. The privacy of dark social, by contrast, represents a potential goldmine of intimate, targeted, and relevant interactions with high conversion potential. Nebulous and difficult-to-track though it may be, dark social has the potential to let marketers tap into elusive power of word of mouth.

So, how can we minimize the amount of dark social traffic which is bucketed under direct? The unfortunate truth is that there is no magic bullet: proper attribution of dark social requires rigorous campaign tracking. The optimal approach will vary greatly based on your industry, audience, proposition, and so on. For many websites, however, a good first step is to provide convenient and properly configured sharing buttons for private platforms like email, WhatsApp, and Slack, thereby ensuring that users share URLs appended with UTM parameters (or vanity/shortened URLs which redirect to the same). This will go some way towards shining a light on part of your dark social traffic.

Checklist: Minimizing direct traffic

To summarize what we’ve already discussed, here are the steps you can take to minimize the level of unnecessary direct traffic in your reports:

  1. Migrate to HTTPS: Not only is the secure protocol your gateway to HTTP/2 and the future of the web, it will also have an enormously positive effect on your ability to track referral traffic.
  2. Manage your use of redirects: Avoid chains and eliminate client-side redirection in favour of carefully-mapped, single-hop, server-side 301s. If you use vanity URLs to redirect to pages with UTM parameters, be meticulous.
  3. Get really good at campaign tagging: Even amongst data-driven marketers I encounter the belief that UTM begins and ends with switching on automatic tagging in your email marketing software. Others go to the other extreme, doing silly things like tagging internal links. Control what you can, and your ability to carry out meaningful attribution will markedly improve.
  4. Conduct an Analytics audit: Data integrity is vital, so consider this essential when assessing the success of your marketing. It’s not simply a case of checking for missing track code: good audits involve a review of your measurement plan and rigorous testing at page and property-level.

Adhere to these principles, and it’s often possible to achieve a dramatic reduction in the level of direct traffic reported in Analytics. The following example involved an HTTPS migration, GTM migration (as part of an Analytics review), and an overhaul of internal campaign tracking processes over the course of about 6 months:

But the saga of direct traffic doesn’t end there! Once this channel is “clean” — that is, once you’ve minimized the number of avoidable pollutants — what remains might actually be one of your most valuable traffic segments.

Analyze! Or: why direct traffic can actually be pretty cool

For reasons we’ve already discussed, traffic from bookmarks and dark social is an enormously valuable segment to analyze. These are likely to be some of your most loyal and engaged users, and it’s not uncommon to see a notably higher conversion rate for a clean direct channel compared to the site average. You should make the effort to get to know them.

The number of potential avenues to explore is infinite, but here are some good starting points:

  • Build meaningful custom segments, defining a subset of your direct traffic based on their landing page, location, device, repeat visit or purchase behavior, or even enhanced e-commerce interactions.
  • Track meaningful engagement metrics using modern GTM triggers such as element visibility and native scroll tracking. Measure how your direct users are using and viewing your content.
  • Watch for correlations with your other marketing activities, and use it as an opportunity to refine your tagging practices and segment definitions. Create a custom alert which watches for spikes in direct traffic.
  • Familiarize yourself with flow reports to get an understanding of how your direct traffic is converting. By using Goal Flow and Behavior Flow reports with segmentation, it’s often possible to glean actionable insights which can be applied to the site as a whole.
  • Ask your users for help! If you’ve isolated a valuable segment of traffic which eludes deeper analysis, add a button to the page offering visitors a free downloadable ebook if they tell you how they discovered your page.
  • Start thinking about lifetime value, if you haven’t already — overhauling your attribution model or implementing User ID are good steps towards overcoming the indifference or frustration felt by marketers towards direct traffic.

I hope this guide has been useful. With any luck, you arrived looking for ways to reduce the level of direct traffic in your reports, and left with some new ideas for how to better analyze this valuable segment of users.

Thanks for reading!

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

Why Mobile-First Is the Wrong Approach

IMG_4069_1In April last year, Google launched their mobile-friendly update, which favoured mobile-friendly websites in search results delivered on mobile devices. Much further back, in 2010, Apple’s Steve Jobs claimed that the post-PC era had arrived. In accordance with such claims, desktop and laptop computer sales have steadily been dropping ever since as more and more consumers turn to the small screen to fulfil their everyday computing needs.

Today, it’s not uncommon for the smartphone to be the most powerful computer in a household, and there’s also been an unprecedented rise of the mobile-only user who exclusively uses a smartphone and/or tablet to access the Internet. Particularly among millennials, the small screen has proven very pervasive in everyday life. Perhaps, given the current trends in the market place, it’s no wonder that the mobile-first approach for digital marketing strategies has been so hyped up in recent years.

A mobile-first approach only considers users of small, touch-screen devices such as smartphones and tablets. Marketers who use this approach don’t give any thought to things like keyboards, mice and large displays, apparently thinking that they’ve gone the way of the dodo. In reality, however, it can be argued that the mobile-first approach is the wrong one. What matters are screens rather than devices. There isn’t ever going to be a mobile-only world, just a world with more options.

There are now more ways to connect to the Internet than ever before, but different devices are designed to do different things. Almost no one conducts intensive research online on the small screen, just as no student is going to type out an entire dissertation on one. On the other hand, people aren’t going to be using the large screen while they’re out and about looking for a place to eat or a particular shop in the high street. Mobile might be primary, but only for certain tasks.

When it comes to everyday consumer services, mobile usage is undoubtedly much higher. As such, the mobile-first approach can work, to a degree, in cases where the vast majority of a brand’s target audience predominantly uses the small screen. At the same time, you’ll likely still end up alienating a lot of potential customers if your website provides a sub-par experience on the larger screen. For example, even predominantly mobile users are more likely to use the large screen while at work.

These days, the average person spends more than two hours per day using their smartphones and a bit over an hour and a half in front of a desktop or laptop computer. Since desktop computers continue to dominate in the workplace, those with typical office jobs will likely spend much more time in front of the big screen than anything else. The TV also remains a major part of many people’s lives, and many consumers even use their TVs for browsing the Web.

Ultimately, the mobile-first approach is doomed to fail in all but a handful of niche industries with very specific target demographics. In other industries, the approach might enjoy some limited success for the time being, but again, this very much depends on your target demographic. Instead, your primary focus should be on developing scalable websites and apps that offer an optimal experience on all devices.

Hot technology trends and predictions for 2018

Present technological innovations can just as easily be deemed obsolete relics in a year or so. Therefore, keeping abreast of evolving technologies, most especially those implicated in the digital web based sphere, can be pretty challenging.
2018 is going to carry the distinctive flourish of a digital and mobile multimedia information era that began somethime 2016 and 2017. From the rise of counterfeit reality, whose most notable form is fake news, to a gradual shifting away from traditional mobile apps, 2018 has these top technological trends to offer.

coming soon

Measure ROI with Call Tracking

Don’t underestimate your marketing ROI. Use call tracking to get accurate ROI numbers.  In marketing, you are always on stage. People read your emails, watch your advertisements, see your billboards, keep your brochures, follow your social media posts, explore your…

The post Measure ROI with Call Tracking appeared first on Convirza.

Don’t underestimate your marketing ROI. Use call tracking to get accurate ROI numbers. 

In marketing, you are always on stage. People read your emails, watch your advertisements, see your billboards, keep your brochures, follow your social media posts, explore your blogs, visit your websites, and the list goes on.

However, at the end of the day, the businesses you support want to know what you have done for them lately and, of course, how much it cost. Sometimes it feels like your world hinges on ROI. 

After all your creative energy and non-stop production schedules, it boils down to leads and their cost. Thus, we have the recent explosion of marketing software and tools. 

Phone calls are the most valuable form of incoming leads

All of these are great, but they have a huge gap — offline leads. In other words, what happens when a person moves from online to offline interactions, such as a phone call?

For instance, what if your great website persuades visitors to call

If you cannot link your website with phone calls you miss attribution and ROI. Plus, you may not justify the cost of some online efforts without tracing their effectiveness.

Call tracking to the rescue.

What is call tracking?

Call tracking uses technology to capture and analyze consumers’ behavior BEFORE and DURING phone calls. Unique tracking phone numbers are assigned to customer contact points, such as websites, newspaper ads, and PPC campaigns. Whenever a person dials a tracking number, the call is directed to the call tracking software and routed to its destination.

How Does Call Tracking Work

Call tracking attributes the phone calls and leads to specific customer touch points. The customer touch points that generate the best phone calls are the most effective.

With call analytics, the best call tracking companies know if the caller is a strong lead. The very best call tracking companies go one step further and send an alert if you missed an opportunity to convert a caller.  

missed opportunity

You have powerful data and insights that only call tracking provides. ROI becomes simple, and phone calls are attributed accurately to specific marketing efforts.   

Even better, Convirza’s call tracking metrics are available in near real time. Thus, you can adjust and pull marketing that’s not generating results. Redirect the money saved into the areas that are the most effective. This shift directly increases your ROI.

Sales and Marketing ROI you should track

Convirza is an ideal solution to track all online and offline marketing designed to drive phone calls.

Digital Sales and Marketing

Dynamic Number Insertion (DNI) links digital leads to phone calls. The Convirza whitepaper, The Authoritative Guide to Call Tracking and Local SEO is a comprehensive and informative guide for marketers who want to use DNI. 

Mobile conversions make sure your website is mobile optimized

Traditional Advertising

  • Print call tracking 
  • Include call tracking numbers on in newspaper, magazine, and mailers ads
  • TV and radio call tracking
  • Billboard call tracking

Call tracking is a crucial marketing tool. Without it, your ROI is skewed and incomplete. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of leads driven by marketing efforts are not attributed. If you want an immediate ROI boost, start call tracking today.

ROI Give me a Demo!

 

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What Call Analytics Method Should You Choose?

Call analytics give businesses and marketers detailed phone call information. The data can show what happens BEFORE a phone call. You see caller and company representative behavior DURING phone calls. And even know actions AFTER a phone call. But call…

The post What Call Analytics Method Should You Choose? appeared first on Convirza.

Call analytics give businesses and marketers detailed phone call information. The data can show what happens BEFORE a phone call. You see caller and company representative behavior DURING phone calls. And even know actions AFTER a phone call. But call analytics that only uses keyword spotting simply do not work.

What is call analytics?

Call analytics take keywords and phrases and then deciphers consumer behavior. More advanced call analytics produce valuable call metrics and indicators. Reports consolidate call data that smart marketers and businesses use to optimize call conversions and save missed opportunities.

What is keyword spotting?

After a phone conversation, a software program reviews the recording and searches for specific keywords. Often call tracking users can designate the exact words they want to hear. A dentist’s office wants to hear “appointment.” An HVAC company wants to hear “deposit” or “credit card.” These keywords signify the caller is converting into a customer. Right?

While on the surface both systems appear to be similar; but comparing call analytics to keyword spotting is like comparing apples to oranges.

The flaw with most call analytic methods

Keyword spotting identifies keywords and phrases within a call transcript and then categorizes them for automation. The basic premise is that call tracking based on keyword spotting provides analysis of phone calls through metrics like call length and the types of words used within the conversation. From there you can understand with greater accuracy what customers need. Plus, it cuts down the time spent analyzing actual phone recordings by only targeting certain words.

For example, if an agent at a car dealership wants to know how many times callers ask for the newest model of a car they are selling, the marketing agent might use keyword spotting to determine how many times a certain make, model, and manufacturer are mentioned in a phone conversation.

Keyword spotting can also help determine brand awareness. Say a company has a certain motto or slogan and they are trying to embed it into the heads of its customers or potential customers. This method can help the company determine if callers mention the slogan during a phone conversation. Keyword spotting can also monitor the performance of individual sales representatives and their phone skills.

But there are many pitfalls to keyword spotting. Words can easily be taken out of context. If the marketer set “buy” as one of its keywords, you can imagine how many different uses for that word could be found in a common sales conversation.

Some are positive and lead to sales. But some also can be negative. “This weekend I am going to buy a Model X” and “I would never buy Model X” both have the keyword embedded.

call analytics method

This system can ultimately lead to poor assumptions and a lot of misinformation. When it comes to keeping clients happy, this type of information doesn’t really help them achieve their bottom line.

Conversation Analytics®

Convirza’s Conversation Analytics®services, however, takes a much different approach, which effectively provides greater accuracy and more valuable call insights. Convirza uses the industry’s largest set of indicators and extendible indicators to provide dependable, accurate call analytics.

Conversation Analytics® services are immediately usable and require no setup to be accurate. On the other hand, keyword spotting relies completely on users to specify keywords.

The company spent more than 40,000 hours of data science research analyzing calls. Literally, thousands of phrases, not just words, are built into our call analytics.  Our sophisticated software analyzes for word and word phrase proximity, repetition, word count, logic queues, pauses, and more. These are all bundled into the Convirza algorithm. Each call then receives a score in 45 key areas that indicate call success.

Let’s revisit the same two statements mentioned earlier. Both used the keyword “buy;” however, they would be scored differently.

Conversation Analytics® is specifically engineered to automate listening to and responding to call behavior, not merely highlighting which words come up in a conversation. The key to closing deals is a better understanding of call behavior. Phone calls literally are unlocked with detailed insights that can then be linked to specific campaigns and channels.

Comparing the two systems side by side, it’s easy to see which of the two will ultimately provide the most accurate and insightful information for you and your clients. Keyword spotting, which is effective in some instances, misses the mark in most cases.

If your objective is to understand call behavior, and how that can produce greater leads and conversions, the obvious choice is Convirza’s call analytics.

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