Archive for the ‘direction’ tag
This article is by Dan Norris of Web Control Room.
As an active blogger, I’m always looking at various stats to help me understand how well I’m doing. I’m not particularly fond of the idea of blogging for years without knowing whether things are going in the right direction. I’d rather know as I go whether my posts are having an impact and whether things are travelling in the right direction.
Luckily, one of the best things about being a blogger is that pretty much every stat you want to look at is available online and not stuck in outdated offline software programs. And better still, most of the tools are free!
The challenge is that, with all of the information out there, it’s difficult to know what stats to keep your eye on. In this article we’ll look at the top ten ways bloggers can measure their efforts.
1. Revenue and profit
While writing is fun, I’ll assume you are trying to earn some money at the same time. One of the best ways to have easy access to your financial data is to use an online accounting program like Xero, Saasu, or Wave Accounting—I use Xero, and it rocks.
These programs make it very easy to capture all of your financial data in the one place.
In addition to that you can look at the various ways you monetize your blog by reviewing the information available from these sources (PayPal, Adsense, Clickbank, etc.). The best part of having a central system for the accounts is that you can aggregate all of the revenue streams in the once place, to give you a whole picture.
2. RSS subscribers
Hopefully you’re using Feedburner to manage your RSS feeds—if so, you’ll have a clear idea of how many people are subscribing to your blog via RSS.
I like to keep an eye on these stats particularly after I release a post, publish a guest post on another blog, or have a guest poster on my blog. Often, their sharing of the post and the content reaching a new audience will cause a bump in subscribers. Showing the number of RSS subscribers on your blog can also be great social proof of your blogging chops.
3. What are others talking about?
One of the most important strategies for bloggers is engaging with other people (bloggers and others) online. This is a measure of performance, because if you are doing the right things then people will be talking about you. There are four ways I do this.
- Comments: An excellent way to see if you are having an impact is to look at the comments on your site. Are they genuine? How many comments are posts getting? This gives you a good idea of what is hitting the mark and what isn’t.
- Trackbacks: If these are turned on in WordPress, any time someone links to one of your blog posts (i.e. not to your homepage) you will see the link in your comments list—and then go back to their sites and engage with them.
- Google Alerts: With Alerts, Google will email you every time someone mentions your brand, product, website, and so on. I like to get them via RSS instead of email, so I check them in Google reader each morning.
- Twilert: This service does the same thing as Google Alerts but for Twitter. You get a daily email that lists every time someone mentions your site or brand or your Twitter handle you’ll get an email.
All of these are great ways to engage with your audience, but also to measure the impact you’re having, and which posts are having more impact than others.
It’s a good idea to monitor both your monthly rolling traffic (last 30 days) against the previous month, as well as traffic peaks around the release dates of your posts. The former figure will give you a good idea of overall recent trends, and the latter will give you immediate feedback on specific posts.
For this I, like most others, use Google Analytics. If you do notice changes that you didn’t expect, it’s time to delve further into the tool to see what has caused those changes—it may be something related to search rankings or referring sites (which we’ll look at separately in a moment).
5. Google ranking for keywords
Most of the time, bloggers get a significant amount of traffic from Google. You can either sit back and hope for the best or you can actively try to rank for different keywords.
Unfortunately, visiting Google and searching for your keywords doesn’t work! Google knows which websites you have visited and puts them higher up the list just for you, so this won’t give you an accurate rank for your keywords. This is a mistake made by almost everyone with a website at one time or another (including me).
Particularly if you are trying to rank for certain keywords, it’s a great idea to use a tool to monitor where you are ranking on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Using the new incognito window in Chrome will also provide a more accurate ranking, but rank-tracking tools will show you rack-tracking from different countries, for instance, and many keywords at once.
6. Other referring sites
In Google Analytics, you can also check out your top referring sites. This can give you great information about a number of things. For example, if you are active in social media or a particular forum you can see if these efforts are resulting in extra traffic to the site.
Similarly, guest posts on other sites would be expected to bring some traffic, so you can monitor whether these sites make it into your top referring sites list.
Pretty much every marketing push you make online should show up in your top sites list, so it’s a good place to look particularly for things you aren’t specifically tracking as campaigns in Analytics.
There are two types of keywords to look at in Analytics. You can look at your top keywords—these would generally be big-ticket keywords that you are trying actively to rank for. If they are ranking in Google and your keyword research was sound, then it will be validated with traffic.
It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on how many keywords are bringing you traffic. This is a simple measure of how effectively you are targeting the long tail. The more you write, particularly if you deliberately target long tail keywords in your posts, the more keywords will bring you traffic. Looking at the number of keywords is a quick way to get some sort of idea of how well it’s working.
8. Email newsletter info
Getting an email opt-in is still one of the main ways bloggers engage with their audience. Tools like Mail Chimp and AWeber will give you some great information on things like how effective your site is being in converting visitors to opt-ins, how big your audience is and how engaged they are with your newsletters (unsubscribe rates, opens, clicks etc).
It’s also a good idea to measure opt-ins as goals in Analytics so you can look at more information about the origins of those opting into your list.
9. Server uptime
Having your server go down is kind of like having a power outage at a traditional business. You can’t do business without your website, and all of the effort you have put in to generating traffic is wasted every time there is an outage. For this reason, make sure you are notified whenever there is an outage and you monitor it each month to ensure uptime is reasonable.
Unfortunately hosting companies often don’t provide this service, however Pingdom.com does, and it’s free. Once you sign up, the site will notify you of any outages, and provide reports on monthly uptime percentages and so on.
10. Social media measures
For bloggers more so than any business, social media is critical. A lot of relationships with readers and other bloggers, guest blogging opportunities, JVs etc come through relationships facilitated by social media. A few things I like to keep an eye on are:
- Klout.com, which gives you an overall idea of how you are influencing others via Twitter, Facebook, and so on. You can also use Klout to give you an overall summary of figures from the major social networks (Likes, shares, +1′s etc).
- If you are active on Twitter, you can keep an eye on your number of followers, your ratio of followers to people that you follow and the number of interactions.
- For Facebook pages, Facebook insights are there to provide useful information on likes, reach, who’s talking about the page and more.
So how are you progressing—and how do you know? I’d be interested in knowing what you like to keep an eye on to track how you’re going. Let me know in the comments.
Dan Norris is the founder of Web Control Room a free tool that enables bloggers to understand their data and make better decisions. By talking to the sources you love (MailChimp, Xero, Analytics, PayPal etc) it provides a scannable 1 page chart showing what is going well and what isn’t so you can understand your performance in seconds.
Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Education degrees earned at online universities now dwarf those of traditional universities. USA Today analyzed recent Department of Education data and found that online education behemoth, the University of Phoenix, awarded more than twice as many education degrees as its closest traditional competitor, Arizona State University (5,976 vs. 2,075).
“We shouldn’t be surprised because the whole industry is moving in that direction,” said dean of the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education, Robert Pianta. “The thing I would be interested in knowing is the degree to which they are simply pushing these things out in order to generate dollars or whether there’s some real innovation in there.”
While ASU still awards the most bachelor degrees, the other top 4 online universities, 3 of which are for-profit, hand out far more advanced degrees, which are increasingly important for hiring and promotion. This, of course, says nothing about the quality of online degrees. Senator Tom Harkin’s office released a blistering report, noting that though only 10% of enrolled students are with online schools, they account for roughly 50% of student loan defaults.
Unfortunately, there’s no good way to compare the quality of offline to online degrees. Schools and unions are still in a heated debate over how to measure the quality of existing teachers, largely because we still don’t know how to measure learning. “Children are educated and learn over a period of time, but we have this notion that children are to make a year’s growth for every year they’re in school,” said Paul Heckman, UC Davis’ Associate Dean of Education, “This is … a problem, because children do not develop in nine-month chunks except during gestation.”
Still, the convenience factor for online education is a major appeal. Meredith Curley, dean of the University of Phoenix College of Education, said that the average age of the student is 33, and many come back after starting families. Do you think it makes a difference whether a teacher was trained online or at a traditional college?
[Image Credit: Flickr User CollegeDegrees360]
Business Insider reported this weekend that Apple is possibly angling to sink their hooks into The Fancy, a Pinterest-like site that focuses on tying image sharing to e-commerce. This would be a step for Apple into the world of web commerce outside their walled iTunes garden, and could mark a new direction for the company famous for the iPod and iPad. So just what is The Fancy and how useful would it be to the world’s largest tech company?
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.
Looks like those free lunches are already starting to pay off. Yahoo has moved its popular email service forward with the addition of a calendar tab and made it possible to reply to calendar invites inside mail, the company announced today in a blog post.
Under new CEO Marissa Mayer, Yahoo hopes to shake off the dust it has accumulated over the years, and it very well could take on a product-focused direction with bigger and better applications. Since email is one of Yahoo’s most popular products, it makes sense that Yahoo wants to make it work better. The company needs to keep people from fleeing to rival services like Google’s Gmail or Microsoft’s new Outlook.com service.
Funny enough, the new integration of Calendar and Mail actually one-ups Google because you can access the Calendar without opening a new tab like you have to in Gmail. Yahoo Senior Product Manager Ashish Parnami, writes:
Currently, users access the Calendar by clicking on the Calendar link under the “Applications” section in the left panel. The Calendar would then open in a new browser window/tab. To simplify the process (who wants more tabs open on their browser!?), we’re now making Calendar a permanent tab within Yahoo! Mail. So, as soon as you login to your Yahoo! Mail account, you will see a ‘Calendar’ tab right next to the ‘Contacts’ tab. This tab will remain there even as you navigate around to other tabs within Yahoo! Mail.
Not only is Calendar now accessible without opening a new tab, but users can search for events inside the “Calendar” tab. Additionally, when you receive a calendar invite from someone, you can respond with “Attending/Not Attending/Maybe,” add comments, or add it directly to your Calendar.
It’s a relatively small step, but it’s still a good sign for the company that’s been beaten down so much. We can’t wait to see what else Mayer does in the next year.
Filed under: cloud
When the Artspotter app and site first appeared last year we noted it was a more of an art map that lets you discover and publish art around you, whether it be galleries, street art, you name it. It was billed as a sort of art discovery app for the iPhone [iTunes link]. But now it’s evolving in a more social direction and this can only be a good thing. Indeed, we might even go so far as to say that it could be the ‘Foursquare for art lovers’. The problems they hope to solve for users is allowing them to find more art outside of the obvious museums and galleries. The eventual business model? Think Google Analytics for cultural venues. But it’s early days yet – right now they are product-focused on making an app art lovers will, well, love.
Prior to the new iteration Artspotter was about discovery with some social interaction. The new focus is about discovering art through the people and places you follow. That’s the social pivot I was hoping Artspotter would make, and they’ve done it.
It’s now all about what hat’s happening now in realtime, and around you. It’s more social aspect means it’s therefore more personalised. In addition, the new iPhone app is blisteringly fast compared to the old one make ‘art spotting’ much more fun.
There’s a activity feed, nice map integration, but the big deal is the Spot button. This is automatically tags your location when you want to ‘spot’ a gallery, venue or street art. You can also say you are at a venue not just at a specific exhibition. So far they have 10,000 venues in over 40 countries.
In terms of funding, the small team lead by passionate art lover and fonder Raphaelle Heaf has had a convertible note from the Ignite 100 accelerator but is now in the process of raising a Series A funding round.
Heaf tell me she wants to build a “massive platform for a connected art world.”
“It’s not just about what’s going on but how everyone is moving around it, how the dynamics of the art world work and how that data can inform users of even more exciting discoveries.
“The art world is naturally a cool, exciting place to be, we just want to use art to bring “social” back to the real world,” she says.
On this showing, art lovers are likely to warm to the app, and it’s clear that there is real no-one doing what Artspotter does right now.
Affine Systems first came to market several years ago with a product that helped advertisers deliver video ads with some pretty impressive brand safety features. Using a semantic video technology, Affine could scan videos frame-by-frame and group them together by relevance, enabling advertisers and agencies to build their own channels or content to run campaigns against. The only problem? No one could pronounce “Affine.”
So the company is rebranding to the more easily pronounceable and memorable name “SET.” It’s also rolled out a whole new dashboard that will let advertisers to create custom video ad campaigns, and receive very granular reports around where those ads ran.
I got to sit down with SET VP of Product Marketing Matt Tillman, who told us a little about what SET does and what new features are available through the platform. He also gave us a demo of how advertisers can create campaigns based on a number of different categories and subcategories, with ads delivered in real-time. Check out the video above for more on SET’s new brand and direction.
“If you want something you’ve never had, then you’ve got to do something you’ve never done.” — Drina Reed
This quote is Pinterest porn but, in marketing, it can also be a bit of a paradox. When an industry succeeds moving in one direction, it can be hard to justify diverting from their path. Yet more than one CMO takes this quote to heart and unveils a plan that goes against the current.
Their goal may be to re-establish the brand or to reach aggressively beyond incremental results. And the trades use words like bold, visionary and innovative to describe these CMOs — until some of their plans don’t succeed.
The trades then suggest that, when an entire industry goes in one direction, wasn’t it obvious to the brand it was wandering off the path?
Auto Insurance’s Character Nation
Take the auto insurance category for example. The image above shows spokespeople from (top to bottom, left to right): Geico, Progressive, Farmer’s Insurance, State Farm, Allstate, Nationwide and SafeAuto. To be fair, at least three of the above spokespeople have been retired.
From the old to the new, each spokesperson’s narrative has been entertaining at one point or another, in aggregate like this it looks like a sea of sameness. In an industry where price can commoditize your product, it makes it even more critical to differentiate the brand through advertising.
So why are some of the brand’s with the highest awareness in the category mirroring its competitors approach to advertising? We can assume it sells policies.
But Liberty Mutual has taken an altogether different direction, focusing on content marketing to broaden the conversation with its audience to create a more sustainable, long-term relationship.
The Responsibility Project
Liberty Mutual’s Responsibility Project doesn’t follow a “character-focused” narrative — like the bulk of its competitors. These characters, and their back stories, can be entertaining, but it takes more than a brand’s latest ad campaign to create, and sustain, ongoing consumer engagement. No matter how popular the campaign, consumers will eventually lose interest.
Liberty Mutual’s content focuses on “what it means to do the right thing.” The site quickly notes the right thing isn’t always black and white. This statement helps humanize Liberty Mutual. It’s a path beyond using a spokesperson to create the emotional connection — and it helps prompt a discussion.
It may take some time to weigh in on whether or not Liberty Mutual’s efforts make a business impact. But I’ll argue that when a brand swims against the current, it takes longer to make progress.
Written by Bob Ruffolo at Impact Branding and Design.
When we think of marketers and market research, we tend to think of two-way mirrors and focus groups. We think about extensive planning. We think “expensive”. But thanks to the Internet, no matter what your budget may be, you can still conduct great market research online without the need for expensive marketers or marketing teams.
Conducting your own marketing research is important for a number of reasons:
- It helps you define your target niche/potential leads
- It helps you change and improve your marketing message
- It helps you decide which direction you want to take your marketing in
- It helps establish you and your company as a credible and reliable source of industry information
See on www.impactbnd.com
Clearing The Air On Skype: Most Of What You Read Was Not Accurate, But There Are Still Reasons To Worry
Google has been in ongoing discussions (some might say a war of words) with The UK’s Information Commissioner. If you remember, Google’s street cars captured all sorts of information other than just pictures, like WiFi nodes and even IP traffic, when they drove around. Google is dealing with multiple cases across Europe with various public bodies about this.
Today Google confirmed that it had located additional payload data collected by its Street View cars prior to May 2010 and the ICO, which has repeatedly asked Google to delete the extra data, has thrown a few choice words in Google’s direction.
While the ICO’s head of enforcement Steve Eckersley wrote in his reply to Google that he was “grateful” for the information about the data, and noted Google’s “commitment to continued cooperation with the ICO on this matter,” it’s not all hearts and roses.
The ICO says this data was supposed to have been deleted in December 2010. The fact that some of this information still exists appears to breach the undertaking to the ICO signed by Google in November 2010, according to the ICO.
In their letter to the ICO today, Google said they wanted to delete the remaining data and asked for instructions on how to proceed. A copy of the letter received this morning by the ICO from Google can be downloaded here. Here’s the response.
Effectively, the ICO has demanded that Google must supply the data to the ICO immediately, so that “we can subject it to forensic analysis before deciding on the necessary course of action.”
The ICO says “this should never have happened in the first place and the company’s failure to secure its deletion as promised is cause for concern.” That’s a pretty big slap on the wrist for Google.
The ICO says it is also in touch with other data protection authorities in the EU and elsewhere through the Article 29 Working Party and the GPEN network to coordinate the response to this development.
As they say, this story will run and run.
Peter Fleisher, Google’s Global Privacy Counsel, tells us: “Google has recently confirmed that it still has in its possession a small portion of payload data collected by our Street View vehicles in the UK. Google apologizes for this error.”