Point blank: data regulation guidelines are sweeping across the world.
AMA Iowa's website sponsor, feels that it is their responsibility to educate people on the implications of the General Data Protect Regulations put into effect in the EU, and how they directly (and indirectly) impact businesses in the U.S.
Read up on the GDPR low down here!
Content provided by... Margaret Zehr is an Internet Marketing Specialist at Global Reach Internet Productions. On a daily basis, she works with Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Strategies for clients. She is also a key contributor to the Global Reach blog and newsletter and assists with many other Global Reach endeavors.
Global Reach was founded in 1995 and since then, it has become a leader in content management solutions and custom web development. In addition, Global Reach provides a number of interrelated services such as internet marketing, graphic design, hosting and IT support.
If you’re a marketer, analyzing the psychology behind how prospective customers make purchase decisions probably isn’t new to you. Whether it’s to increase contact form completions or online purchases, all strategic digital marketing efforts are working toward a goal or conversion. Once on your website, it’s critical that your website visitors can easily convert. This is where user experience (UX) research comes into play. When you conduct UX research, you can discover improvements to boost your marketing efforts!
What is user experience research?
UX research refers to the analysis of the behavior of website visitors when they are on a website or application. Once marketing efforts send high-quality leads to the website, the experience is what will turn those website visitors into customers.
Website visitors want their tasks to be simple, so it’s essential to make the experience as seamless and enjoyable as possible. If there are pain points while using your website, it’s important to know about them so you have the opportunity to improve before spending your marketing budget. This will give you the best chance for success, and UX research will give you direction.
Why All Marketers Should Be Doing User Research
Marketing and UX are working toward the same goals. Through marketing you want to create memorable experiences, and through UX you want an easy experience. It’s crucial marketers understand who their customers are and what they’re looking for, and UX takes the guesswork out of marketing decisions.
UX and marketing are a team - marketing drives people to the website, while UX should engage people and help them convert.
How to Conduct User Research
If you’re a marketer who is brand new to UX research, it can be intimidating to decide where to start. Fortunately, there are several tools and user research methods available to let you start collecting behavioral data today.
User Research Methods
Heatmapping and Mouse Tracking
Heatmapping and mouse tracking technology allows researchers to see where potential customers are clicking on a web page. If there are calls-to-action (CTAs) being overlooked, you’ll be able to develop a plan of action to improve them.
UX experts recommend tests to learn if website visitors can easily complete critical tasks. During a user test, participants in your target demographic are asked to complete tasks and rate their difficulty. This is another UX research method that will help you understand how well visitors convert on your site.
Surveys and Focus Groups
Sometimes the most valuable insight you receive is from simply asking your users. Through surveys and focus groups, you can get a sense of pain points on your website. You don’t need hundreds of people to hold an effective focus group; by talking to even a small portion of your customers, you can start to develop a plan for areas to improve.
Applying User Research to Your Marketing Campaigns
Now that you’ve collected the data, it’s time to put it to use! Here are a few common ways marketers leverage user data to improve future marketing initiatives.
- Match Your Target Demographics, Their Interests and Their Behaviors. User research will reveal valuable information about your target audience. You’ll learn the demographic breakdown of the top converters on your site as well as how different groups of people behave on your website. With this information, you can tailor your marketing efforts to reach the right people with the most effective content.. For example, you might learn that leads from Facebook are more likely to browse multiple articles before converting, while a potential customer from a search ad is more likely to be task-driven, converting on the page they enter on.
- Align Efforts With the Top User Tasks & Paths. User research will help you understand what website visitors are trying to accomplish on your website and the paths they are taking to convert, allowing you to connect this with your own marketing objectives. Through UX testing and research, you might learn that people who enter your website on your homepage are more apt to learn more about your company, while those who visit an interior page are more likely to complete a form. Knowing this information, you’ll be able to create marketing campaigns and landing pages that line up with what users are trying to accomplish at each point along the customer journey.
- Reduce Pain Points and Points of Friction. One of the most valuable outputs of user research for marketers is the discovery of pain points in the conversion process. If there is a specific part of the online conversion process causing potential customers to drop off, you need to be able to identify it. User research will reveal where visitors are getting stuck, giving you the opportunity to make it easier for them to convert. You’ll learn if the CTA is ineffective, if the form is too intimidating and difficult to finish, if navigation labels aren’t matching expectations and more.
UX Research Provides Strategic Direction for Marketing Campaigns
While marketing efforts convince potential customers to consider purchasing, the user experience will lead them to convert. UX research will add valuable data about what website visitors want, ensuring the marketing campaign is a success. If you have additional questions about collecting user data to drive your marketing campaigns, the UX analysts at Blue Compass can help! Learn more about what you can learn about your potential customers.
Author bio: Brady Rebhuhn is a Digital Marketing Analyst at Blue Compass. Brady regularly combines user experience research with digital marketing tactics to develop strategies for clients that increase conversions and revenue.
Cassandra is an Account Manager at Lessing-Flynn. She first joined the American Marketing Association while attending the University of Northern Iowa where she served as the collegiate chapter president. Upon moving to Des Moines, she got involved by volunteering for the NOVA Awards and joined the Board of Directors in 2012. During her tenure on the Board, she has served on the treasury, programming and communications teams before moving into the leadership track.
Why do you love AMA?
I’ve been involved in AMA for over 10 years, and for me, it has always been about the relationships made through the organization, whether at UNI, in Iowa or at a national level. The marketing industry in Iowa, and specifically in Des Moines, is small once you get engaged and connected. I love that AMA Iowa is a hub for this community of marketers to bounce ideas off of each other, share challenges, celebrate successes, continue to learn and just have a good time. I’ve gained the best friends and mentors through my involvement and have AMA to thank!
What has been your favorite part of serving on the AMA Iowa Board of Directors?
The AMA Iowa Board of Directors is unique in that most of what we are doing is marketing – event planning, social media, email communication, fundraising, marketing strategy, etc. Essentially, we are marketers, doing marketing for other marketers. Fun, right?! What that means for our board is that we have this great platform for expanding skills in areas that we may not typically work in at our day jobs. Plus, we have the support and expertise of each other to learn from. I’ve learned a TON from fellow board members, and as President, I love seeing our board members trying new things.
What is your leadership philosophy?
My leadership philosophy is similar to the “platinum rule” – lead others how they like to be led. This is a bit different for everyone and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all leadership style, so I try to adjust how I lead based on the person’s preferences and needs. As President, I’m making sure everyone has the resources they need to accomplish their goals, getting out of their way and being available for assistance/support as needed.
What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader and marketer?
With young kids my time is fairly fragmented, so articles and videos are my go-to these days, although I would love to read more books. I utilize enewsletters to provide relevant content and keep me in-tune to trends and news within marketing, leadership and client industries. I also try to be diligent about carving out time on my calendar each month to attend workshops and speakers.
What motivates you?
I’m motivated by being able to be a resource for others. Whether it is helping a client find a solution to a marketing problem, assisting someone on their job search or answering questions about AMA Iowa, I love helping out. It’s not about knowing everything or having all the answers, but being able to connect people with the tools, resources or others that can assist. This is where I get my motivation, and I love that AMA Iowa helps foster those relationships and resources through being the go-to community for marketers.
What do you do outside of work and AMA?
I have a two-year-old boy and newborn baby girl so my husband and I stay pretty busy with the kiddos. We love taking advantage of all the events/activities Des Moines has to offer, and it has been fun (and challenging) to experience those with kids in tow. Additionally, volunteering has always been a passion of mine. Beyond AMA Iowa, I also serve as Chair of the Young Alumni Advisory Board for UNI’s College of Business, on the Board of Directors for the Des Moines Social Club and on the Angel Tree committee at my church.
Have a question for Cassandra? Drop her a note!
We all know that communication is key, right? In some situations, there may be certain ways to communicate that will help you save time and, by association, money. If you’d like to make the most out of your website’s development, read on for some tips and tricks on communication efficiency!
Read on to find out a local expert has to say about how to navigate the web development process.
Content provided by...Margaret Zehr is an Internet Marketing Specialist at Global Reach Internet Productions. On a daily basis, she works with Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Strategies for clients. She is also a key contributor to the Global Reach blog and newsletter and assists with many other Global Reach endeavors. Visit the Global Reach website to learn more about their products and services.
About Global Reach Internet Productions Global Reach was founded in 1995 and since then, it has become a leader in content management solutions and custom web development. In addition, Global Reach provides a number of interrelated services such as internet marketing, graphic design, hosting and IT support.
Good morning, evening, day, night - whenever you’re reading this! I’m happy to be back chatting with you about your marketing analytics journey. If you’re thinking, “Who the heck is this lady?” check out my first two blogs in my digital marketing landscape series: Why You Need Marketing Analytics and Marketing Analytics Basics.
We’ve talked at a high level about what your organization can do with marketing analytics and how to get started, but now, let’s dig deeper in. How can you use your marketing data to set goals? At Zirous, we recommend looking mostly to your Google Analytics acquisition reports. Once you have an understanding of how people are coming to your site, you can use attribution models to give credit to each source appropriately.
To navigate to acquisition reports in GA, go to your desired view, and find “Acquisition” in the left-hand column. Here, you’ll find an overview and five sub-reports: All Traffic, AdWords, Search Console, Social, and Campaigns.
The overview will give you a high-level look at your site’s performance and acquisition. This includes things like top channels, sessions, pageviews, bounce rate, etc. Most of these are “vanity” metrics as we’ve discussed in the past; they aren’t useful on their own. You’ll likely find more value in some of the other acquisition sub-reports.
All Traffic. This report is broken up into Channels, Treemaps, Source/Medium, and Referrals. These reports show you exactly their namesake: all of the traffic that’s coming to your site. This information is very valuable. In fact, I could write an entire blog just on these reports alone, but I’ll keep it short for you. My two favorites here are Channels and Source/Medium.
Channels breaks down traffic by GA’s default channel groupings, such as direct, social, email, etc. You can take it to the next level by creating your own custom channel grouping to make your data work best for you. These insights give you a quick, easy way to see which sources are actually driving traffic to your site - and where you may want to spend more or less money. A great planning tool, indeed.
Source/Medium gives a slightly more granular level of data than Channels and is a fantastic way to customize your data easily. By using UTM parameters, you can easily lay out if traffic came from Facebook, an email newsletter, a traditional ad, etc. And by using the optional ad content feature in UTMs, you can drill down within each source/medium in GA to see which ad, email, post, link, etc. brought that traffic in.
Not only do these reports give you insight into how users are getting to your website, they’ll also tell you which channels and sources brought in the most conversions - the ultimate goal, and therefore, the ultimate goal-setting tool. If you have a dollar amount assigned to your conversions, you can quickly and easily see which channels are most profitable (and to what degree) and deserve the most your resources.
AdWords. I’d bet good money you already know what this report is all about. This report has a dozen categories, so I won’t go into all of them, but like All Traffic, let’s look at a couple that may be most useful.
Campaigns will give you clicks, budget information, conversation rates, and more for specific AdWords campaigns and ads. (To drill down to the ad level, use the “secondary dimension” tool and select “ad content.”) You can find great insight into which AdWords ads may need to be improved, which you should spend even more budget on, etc.
Keywords is useful in a similar way to Campaigns. Knowing which of your keywords are driving the most traffic to your site will tell you where to place your bids more strategically. It can also tell you how successful your keywords are, but you’ll have to look at more than clicks. If you have a keyword with high clicks, but a high bounce rate, those users were probably looking for something else.
Search Console. Google Search Console is a great tool designed to help you optimize your site’s SEO. Its reporting is very extensive, but GA has included a few summarized reports for you to use without having to leave the GA platform.
One of the most interesting of these is the Queries report, of which there is a summarized version in GA. This report tells you what words people searched before arriving to your website. (In the full version of the report within Search Console, you can also see to which page the search term lead them.)
This report may not be as directly related to high-level goal setting as some of the other acquisition reports, but it’s a very valuable report when setting targeted goals for your SEO and website strategy. I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the entire Search Console tool.
Social. These reports indicate the success of your social as it relates to your website. It gives you some more insights into social than the Channels report (from All Traffic) does within the social channel. In addition to the overview, there are five sub-reports here: Network Referrals, Landing Pages, Conversions, Plugins, and Users Flow.
The Network Referrals, Landing Pages, and Conversions reports, in particular, are good for goal setting. Network Referrals will tell you from which networks visitors came, which Channels can tell you, but it will also tell you the average session duration from each network, which is great information to know which social sites provide the highest quality audience. Landing Pages indicates the same metrics, but for the pages upon which your social audience entered. At the end of the day, though, we want conversions. The Conversions report will tell you how many conversions were completed from audience members of each social platform you have. If you’ve set up a conversion value, you’ll also see how much revenue these conversions brought in.
Campaigns. Finally, the Campaigns sub-reports (All Campaigns, Paid Keywords, Organic Keywords, and Cost Analysis) will give you greater insights into your campaign performance. The All Campaigns report in particular is neat because it shows the entire campaign - AdWords and UTM-tagged items alike - and is a great way to view a campaign’s overall success. Some of this information can be found in other reports, especially in All Traffic. This is a great way to view the success of a campaign in a more centralized location; however, when breaking down these reports for the purpose of goal setting, you may find that some of the other reports are more valuable simply because the campaigns are broken into separate chunks to which you can delegate credit - and therefore budget.
So, now you know how people are getting to your site. Again, this information is so valuable because it can tell you which channels and strategies are most effective at driving traffic, and therefore are most worthy of extra attention in your marketing plan and budget.
But for many organizations, getting someone to your website is only half the battle. Then what? If they convert, do you assign that credit to the most recent acquisition? What if they’ve been to your site multiple times and have come from multiple different sources? This is an entirely other piece of the puzzle, but a very important one that fits perfectly with understanding your acquisitions.
Check out the different attribution models within the Conversions report by going to Conversion - Attribution - Model Comparison Tool. The seven different attribution models - Last Interaction, Last Non-Direct Click, Last AdWords Click, First Interaction, Linear, Time Decay, and Position Based - all distribute credit for conversions to different channels in different ways.
You and your organization’s management should determine which model makes the most sense for you. This really varies for each organization and their strategy, but Google has some pointers as to which model may make sense for you. It’s also possible to create your own custom attribution model.
By using this information, you can set some really smart goals for your organization. You know which channels are driving the most traffic to your site, which areas of your site are most successful, and where your greatest amount of conversions are coming from. With this, you can create a marketing plan and budget that ensures you boost those areas of your plan in the best possible way to get the greatest return on investment. And bonus, now that you have a solid understanding of these reports, you can track that ROI even more successfully, bringing more value to the table for you and your team.
Remember: this blog is just scraping the surface, and I didn’t have time to dig into every report. Some that I didn’t mention may actually be very useful for your organization; every company and strategy is different. For any of the reports I didn’t delve into, check out Google’s Analytics Support Center as a resource for how to use each report, or contact an analytics professional to give you an objective, third-party opinion on where your money should go.
About the author: Kelsey Cervantes is the marketing manager at Zirous in West Des Moines and is certified in Google Analytics, Google AdWords, and Google Tag Manager. After studying marketing at Drake University, Kelsey spent a few years in the traditional marketing management world before going into digital marketing and analytics, which has given her great insights into how to tie the two worlds together.