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Measuring for Success: A check-up for your website

This article is the first in the “Measuring Your Success with Online Marketing” series reviewing key marketing metrics for you online platforms (website, newsletters and social media) to gauge where you are, where you are going and how best to get you there.

How healthy is your website?  If you have a blog, e-commerce and/or a contact form on your website, you might have a general sense of how active or engaged visitors are with your website.  However, most people who basically use their website as an online marketing brochure (is this you?) don’t really have a sense of how well their website is performing and what they could do to improve its “health and vitality.”

To review the basic website metrics, you will need to have Google Analytics installed on you site, so that you can then log into the Google Analytics dashboard for your site (if you don’t know how to do this, ask your web developer or go here).



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Google Analytics Dashboard

 

Now let’s dig in to the numbers – (which I recommend you do at least monthly) and understand what they mean.

Number of sessions – This is defined as each time a visitor initiates a session.  Ideally, you would like to see this number grow each month or at least remain constant.   Adding new, consistent and valuable content to your site on a frequent basis will help grow your audience.  If there are big fluctuations from month to month, it is important to figure out what or who is helping to spike your traffic (see Referrals via Acquisition below).

Number of users – This is the number of  visitors who are coming to your site for a specified period of time (by default 30 days).  A 50/50 balance of new and returning visitors shows a healthy engagement with fans who are returning to learn more from you and a new audience who is interested to find out more.

** Note- Don’t get lost in the numbers and forget about engagement.  It’s important to be consider quantity AND quality of your audience.  For example, in trying to raise awareness for your site and business, you will be much better served by 500 enthusiastic visitors who return to your website on a regular basis, read your blog posts, leave comments, refer traffic and contact you, than you will by having 1,000 visitors who visit once and never come back. **

Time on site (Avg Session Duration) – Obviously, the more time spent on your site the better, but don’t forget we have short attention spans, so don’t be surprised to see an average of under 2 minutes.  To get people to stay on your site, make it “sticky” by including easy navigation and discoverability throughout your site.  In other words, make it easy for them to get wherever it is you want them to go on your site.  Don’t lead them to dead ends.

Bounce rate – This percentage reflects how much of your audience is landing on your site and bouncing off quickly.  Ideally you don’t want to see a bounce rate higher than 60%.  If it is hovering closer to 45% or 50%, that’s better, but not ideal.  Try to keep it trending downward using the same engaging tactics (mentioned above) for getting them to spend more time on your site.

Sources and referrals via the Acquisition Channel  – Where is your traffic coming from?  Are they coming by searching? Or via email? Or social media? Another website?  Who is your top “referrer”?  Be sure to be developing relationships (online and off) with your most valuable referral sources.

Most popular pages via the Behavior Channel – Once visitors are on your site, what do they do there? What page do they come to first, and then where to they go?  Which are the most popular pages on your site for a given period?  Is it your services, about, portfolio or do they head to the blog?  Does this change or does is stay the same?  Understanding your visitors’ behavior and interest will help you better update and refresh your site with content they are seeking.

In reviewing these key stats on a monthly basis, you will soon get a clear picture about how healthy and effective your website is.   It will also give you valuable insight about how well your other online marketing efforts (social media, newsletters, online advertising, adwords, etc.) are performing.

Stay tuned for more about online marketing measurement and metrics, when we look at social media and email newsletter marketing in upcoming posts. 

In the meantime, let me know in the comments, what did you learn or discover about the health of your website when you dug into Google Analytics.   I look forward to hearing from you!  Thanks.

6 Ways to Grow Your Business or Your Brand This Month

Whether you are interested in social media success, online branding, networking or business development, there is something for everyone over the next few weeks of November.  Most of these events – if not free – are a great value, worth your investment of time and money and some don’t even require you to leave your desk!   So if you are feeling like you need a bit of jump start this month, don’t miss these great opportunities.

Personal Branding 21 Day Challenge –  Nov. 1st – 30th,  Online
When you sign up, personal branding megastar Jill Celeste offers 80 personal branding activities, challenging participants to complete 21 of them by the end of the month. It’s perfect for any entrepreneur who wants to attract more clients to his/her business.
$39.99; Register here 

The Half Day Solution – Nov. 5th, 8:30am – Stamford, CT
A free introductory event with Fabienne Fredrickson leader of Client Attraction Business School focused on strategies and solutions for overcoming entrepreneurial challenges.  (There other events in VA and WA – check the site).
Free; Register here

Launching “Disruptive” Brands And Loving It  – Nov. 7th,  9am – Rye, NY
The fantastic monthly Women Entrepreneurs’ Network meet-up will learn from Jason Dorf CEO of The Goodnight Family LLC about  innovative growth strategies for start-ups.
$20 donation; Register here

“Understanding Google Analytics” – Nov. 14th, 8am – Darien, CT
This month 341U will host Google guru Kate Hamilton Miller who will share how to use Google Analytics for actionable insights, custom reports and conversion tracking.
$25; Register here

“The Art of Success!”  – Nov. 14th,  1pm – Online
A free webinar to teach you how to design a Brand that will make you look GREAT…online, in print and in person!  Hosted by Robin Dann of Studio G Creative Design & Brand Development.
Free; Register here

“Online Marketing Masterminds” – Nov. 18th, 5:30 – Stamford, CT
Internet marketing veterans Ryan Lee and Mary Agnes Antonopoulos will be sharing their step by step strategies for building and monetizing an audience online through blogging and social media. All proceeds from the event will go towards Operation Hope.
$35; Register here

With all of these opportunities, I either personally know the host , speaker or sponsor or I will be attending the event or BOTH!   So please feel free to contact me or leave a comment if you have any questions about any of these events.

Are there other events this month on your do-not-miss list?  Please share!


Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Google+

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Good news: Google is everywhere and offers a myriad of opportunities for you and your business to be found.  Bad news: If you are not effectively utilizing Google you are missing the chance to connect with your target audience and customers.  So let’s take a look at the basic social networking components you can utilize in the Googlesphere for optimal social media marketing.

Google+ is Google’s native social network.  Like Twitter and Facebook, you establish a profile, you can post updates and you connect with people.   There are some differences, however.  With Google, instead of “liking” something, you “+1” it.  And instead of followers and friends, you have Google “circles” which is a great way to segment and target your Google connections.


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A Google+ Profile page is for individuals and personalities.  As noted above, you can create circles of peers and they can add you to their circles.  You can also make your profile as public or private as you want with the control settings.

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A Google+ Business Page is a must for your business if nothing else for its SEO (search engine optimization) benefits.  Taking ownership of your business page with Google allows you control over what others are seeing about you on Google and creates another opportunity to drive people to your website.  So even if you don’t plan to actively utilize it in your social media marketing, at least take ownership of your Business page.

Another advantage of the Business page are you can assign other team members to help you manage your Business page and many third party social media apps (like Hootsuite) work with Google+ Pages for effective social media management, scheduling and analytics.

(*Note: Don’t be surprised to find you that you already have to Google+ account created that you didn’t even know about.  Google has a propensity to automatically create and attach Google+ accounts to their other Google products.  In other words, if you have created a Gmail email account or a YouTube (it’s owned by Google!) account, it is highly likely that there is a Google+ account waiting for you to put your name on it and own it.)


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Google Local (formerly Google Places)
If you have a brick and mortar business or a physical retail store or office, it is imperative that you claim your Google Local spot.   Identifying your business with Google Local (formerly Google Places) gets your company literally on the map with Google Maps and Google Search.  It also allows you to have directions and reviews as well as photos and videos and other Google+ Page features.

If you haven’t created any Google Pages for your business yet, it’s best to start with Google Local (now found within the Google My Business Apps) to get your page verified by Google and then this will also become your Google Business Page for social networking.

If you have already created a Business Page, it will depend on what type of Business Page you created as to whether or not you can merge the two pages together.   Check with Google to find out more about merging.


All of this can seem overwhelming and you may feel it is easy just to skip this one out, but before you do, remember EVERYONE USES GOOGLE.   These robust (and FREE!) Google tools exist to help you grow your discover-ability and audience reach.  So dig in to Google+.  See what accounts may already be established.  At a minimum, get started with a personal Google+ profile and start growing your circles.

For more information about using Google+, here are some of my favorite resources:

Are you already on Google+?  What’s your favorite (or least favorite thing) about using it?  Please share in the comments.

4 Online Business Tools That Will Make You More Productive

With all of the technology available today, it is easier than ever to start a business.   You can be the CEO, CFO, CMO and COO all at the same time with the help of several online applications.  But it can also be overwhelming with too many choices and too much information and not a clear understanding about what is right for your needs.

With all of the technology available today, it is easier than ever to start a business.   You can be the CEO, CFO, CMO and COO all at the same time with the help of several online applications.  But it can also be overwhelming with too many choices and too much information and not a clear understanding about what is right for your needs.

There are several programs or software packages that I find are key to running my business that help with productivity, project management, and accounting.  Whether you are a solopreneur or working with a team, each of these tools offers automation and organization that will help you feel in better control of your business.

Also, if you are just starting out, many of these applications offer free versions so that you can test drive them before upgrading or buying enterprise versions.   Let’s take a look at my favorites:

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Evernote – I consider Evernote my online notebook and file cabinet. It keeps “notes” that can be tagged and organized in different notebooks.  You can share notebooks with other people and you can email information into and out of Evernote.  It’s great for keeping track of client files, idea files and notes, household information and keeping track of odd bits of information that you don’t know what else to do with.

  •  Cost: Free or get the Premium version for $5/month or $5/year which offers more storage, advanced search and upgraded sharing capabilities.
  • The Evernote app is key for adding or updating notes on the go as well as retrieving information no matter where you are.

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Google Drive / Docs – Whether you need to share files with others or you just want to be able to access your own files and information from anywhere, Google Drive offers a free online file storage system.  You can install Google Drive onto your computer, so that saving files within Google Drive is as easy saving them into any other file folder on your computer.  Once saved or created within Google Drive, files can be shared with others via email or sharing a link to the file and you have control over whether people can see or edit your shared files too.

  • Cost: Free up to 15GB
  • The Google Drive app is helpful for accessing information on your smartphone or tablet, when you can’t get to a computer.
  • Alternative:  If you are not a fan of all things, Google, DropBox is another option for storing files in the cloud and is particularly good for sharing images or large media files and you don’t have to log into DropBox to access anything that has been shared with you.

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Basecamp – I recently started using Basecamp as a project management tool that is fantastic for working with virtual teams on managing numerous projects and to-do lists.  (Thanks to Kate Schell of KTS Business Support for getting me started on this program!) Basecamp cleverly integrates unlimited projects and related to-do lists into a calendar and also automatically emails you updates and deadlines and discussions.

  • Cost: Starts at $20/month for 10 projects and 3 GB space
  • The Basecamp app allows you to add and check off items while on the go.

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Quickbooks
:  I feel really official now that I am using an accounting software program and it beats the heck out of trying to run my business with a mess of Excel spreadsheets.  The biggest bonus is the ability to accurately track your income and expenses and have real-time financial picture.  When your business grows, Quickbooks can handle payroll taxes and reporting too.

  • Cost:  Software package runs approx. $175 and the online version starts at $6.95/month.
  • The app is available only if you are using online version.
  • Alternative:  If your are freelancer or consultant and accounting is not your thing, you might take a look at Freshbooks which is simpler to set up, has a user -friendly time tracker feature and creates a turn-key online payment system.

So that’s the list of the top tools in my productivity toolbox.   Next post, we’ll look specifically at  “3 Essential Tools to Rock Your Online Marketing Platform.”

In the meantime, I would love to hear from you in the comments about your favorite productivity tools or what your experiences have been with Evernote, Google Drive, Basecamp or Quickbooks. Thanks.