Online Marketing

 


 


 


How to Make Your Website Faster and Keep More Visitors [Infographic]

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Editor's Note: Kara Whitaker is an author with Ghergich & Co. She joins us today to discuss the dangers of page latency, and what you can do to fix a slow website. A version of this article first appeared at AppDynamics.

 

The internet is a tremendous resource with lots of competition. Unless you have the right combination of search terms, appealing graphics and interesting information, it's easy to get passed by with nary a click. But once you have all of these elements, there's still a simple danger that webmasters and marketers tend to overlook: poor loading time.

According to statistics, the first few seconds can be the most important factor in your website's visitor retention and bounce rate:

  • Decreasing your load time by 1 second can increase conversion rates by 27%
  • More than 50% of visitors with mobile browsers will abandon pages that take more than three seconds to load
  • 1 in 5 users who leave your website will never come back

The moments that pass after a prospect hits enter and before your website appears are absolutely invaluable, and as a result, optimizing pages so they load faster is imperative for any viable web presence.

Why Visitors Leave (And Never Return!)

Think about the last time you abandoned a web page; more than likely you were underwhelmed by how quickly the page loaded. Your patience tested, you decided to leave and spend your precious time somewhere else.

Almost every time this happens, one culprit is to blame: too much page weight. Page weight is a measure of all the elements required to render a webpage in a browser. A client's computer, phone or tablet has to download images, scripts, custom fonts, text and more before everything is correctly loaded.

As we have shown, the more seconds you make visitors wait, the more you risk them leaving your site for good. By following bad design methods or hiring a developer on the cheap, it's easy to fill your site with bloat that it doesn't need. If you don’t fix your page weight, you might enter the pantheon of sites that consumers abandon by a rate of one in five.

In order to evaluate where your page weight should be and how it can be improved, you should evaluate where you currently are. There are a number of different tools that can help you do that before taking steps to fixing the problem.

To help you along the way, we have prepared a simple infographic for reference. Here are the main points first:

Fix Hefty Images

Audio-visual content is usually the most hefty element of any website in terms of bandwidth and filesize. When uploading images to your site, make sure of the following:

  • Don't use larger images than you need to; a button that appears as 100 x 100 pixels doesn't need to be stored as 500 x 500. If you are worried about losing resolution when you need it down the road, store larger images locally, and keep the smaller ones on your site.
  • Use good compression methods to cut down the filesize of images by orders of magnitude. Most modern photo editing software - including Photoshop - has a way to do this, and there are also free tools like Image Optimizer.
  • Compression can even be built into your website so that files can be sent in a smaller size, and expanded on the client side of things. Enable gzip on your server if you haven't already.

Reduce HTTP Requests

Every time a client's browser has to download a new resource with a new link, this adds loading time. Over the long run, the lag can build to unacceptable levels - there are a few ways to mitigate this problem:

  • Avoid pages with redirects; keep links on your website up to date so clients can access any page - especially the landing page - directly. If their browser has to jump somewhere else, this doubles the time it takes for the final page to load.
  • Concatenate CSS files - CSS is the code your website uses to load styles and formatting. Many websites have multiple CSS files for different purposes, but this is poor practice since it adds more elements that a browser has to access before a page loads. By concatenating CSS scripts, your website will only need one large CSS file to load all your style elements.
  • Use image sprites - much like CSS, many websites store separate images when they can actually be included in one file. This generally won't work for large, important images; but by using a single sprite that includes all of your web icons, you can cut down on the number of files a browser has to load.

Optimize Your Network

Sometimes loading times are bad for the simple reason that your clients are separated from your website by thousands of miles, and their devices just aren't good enough to access your site quickly. There are some simple fixes -

  • Use a content delivery system that will stripe your website's heaviest elements across servers around the world. This will ensure that clients are always close enough to load them quickly, without the added burden of latency.
  • Trim page weight for mobile users - a very important market segment - by using responsive web design; make sure that your website has a mobile version at the very least so visitors with smaller, weaker devices are not hampered by a website designed for desktops computers.
  • Use browser caching so that when visitors navigate to different parts of your site, they will not have to reload the same elements again. This will also ensure that repeat visitors have a much faster load time, depending on how long their browser cache lasts.

With that said, here's a simple infographic with the most important information and resources you need to get started. Feel free to download and share with colleagues or friends -

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

Convert More Website Visitors into Customers: Best Practices for Usability and Analytics

Landing Page Optimization for B2B Marketing

Engaging with Mobile Marketing: Create Responsive Designs

 

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media market

 


Social Media Marketing For a Millennial Audience

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Editor's Note: Luisa Brenton is a former brand developer, and currently works as an educational blogger. Today she joins us to discuss how brands can more effectively tailor their social media marketing strategies to a millennial demographic.

 

Whenever developing a marketing strategy, brands should spend time considering their target demographic. Unsurprisingly, selling products and services to millennials requires a very different approach than launching a generic social marketing strategy and waiting for results.

While every individual is different, two rules generally apply to millennials: first, they want to feel your brand has a vested interest in them before they commit to any services that you might provide. Second, they differentiate themselves from other consumer generations with high interactivity and an open nature towards new technology and customer engagement.

From these two facts, it's obvious that catering to the needs of a millennial target audience through social media is important. And while this can sometimes be a difficult task, it's not impossible, and not nearly as hard as some commentators pretend. In this article, we'll look at some important aspects of consumer psychology with millennials in mind, and how they can be applied to your social media marketing strategy. Let's get started -

Digital shopping

Millennials are known for shopping online instead of using retail stores for their needs. They would prefer to order a product with a few easy clicks than wait for it to arrive in the mail. This means that an e-commerce website for your company is a must if you hope to target millennials as your primary customer base.

The generation in question values interactivity and versatility, and pushing that message on social media is a great way to attract them. For example, consider including direct links to your online store in any published content on your blog (you do have one, don’t you?). Similarly, including content that promotes digital shopping and featuring a blog on your website which showcases the possibilities of digital shopping will make your brand stand out in the eyes of your customer base.

New feature adoption

The millennial generation is defined by the adoption of new technologies. They were born at the dawn of a technological revolution, and this is a motif to reference in your social marketing outreach. 

The truth is that most of us carry smartphones wherever we go. Use that to your advantage and focus on new, unexplored marketing strategies that will attract a new generation of consumers to your brand. While you might have detractors in the form of an older demographic and people who are accustomed to more traditional means of marketing, the millennial generation will embrace it wholeheartedly.

Platform doesn’t dictate information

Information should be the same no matter what platform you publish it on. This is a stance that millennials have largely taken when it comes to receiving marketing messages and consuming content online in general.

This means that the information in your Facebook ads shouldn't be different from that in your Instagram posts, and video commercials shouldn’t have fundamentally different content than email marketing messages. Any form of marketing that you employ should focus around the same key message that you have developed before your campaign started. If you aren't sure how to develop an effective message, hiring a writer can be helpful.

A unified message - whether it is published to LinkedIn or Tumblr - should sound and feel genuinely the same. This is one way to attract the millennial generation with your social media marketing and ensure that your credibility stays high and safe from any doubts.

Social media engagement

Posting content on social media and hoping for the best won’t be enough if you want millennials to buy and use your products. Customer engagement is still a fairly new subject on the digital marketing playground, but it certainly makes a difference.

For example, responding to customers via private messages, live Q&A, and comments on posts will publicly will raise the awareness of your brand by allowing you to discuss products and questions that your audience might have. Best of all, millennials around the world will be more willing to accept your product as adequate for their needs and ways of thinking.

Even something as simple as using emoticons on social media to answer a customer query can help you to establish a friendly tone with your audience and ensure that you are seen as positive and communicative. Showing a level of interactivity and willingness to treat people like equals is crucial to the millennial generation, and something that shouldn’t be overlooked in your social media marketing.

Simpler is usually better

You might think that detailed and complex marketing content with huge amounts of data can help you win over new customers. But as a matter of fact, the more irrelevant content you include in your content, the more likely you are to divert your audience to a different brand. This is because customers - especially millennials - want simplicity and directness without any sales pitches that might sound forced or generalized.

Simplifying your marketing message and including any detailed content behind a click barrier is always a smarter way to promote new content. This will ensure that people who want to know more do so by clicking on a link, leaving others with an overview of the content you are trying to promote, but not forcing anything on them.

Paid marketing content

Contrary to common opinion, millennials are open to both advertisement and paid, promotional content. In fact, relying too much on organically marketed content can backfire if it is not upfront about its intention to bring in business. Paid content ensures a level of curation from your side, and anything they see will look professional and properly targeted.

Hiring a marketing expert and creating original content may not be in your predicted budget, but if you want to attract millennials, this is an aspect of marketing to consider seriously. Facebook and Instagram ads use demographic data to ensure the maximum effectiveness of any content that reaches users, meaning that they can be used to easily target millennials and give them the content they would prefer to see in their feeds.

Conclusion

Best practices for reaching the millennial generation will continue to evolve just like the generation itself. But while newer generations will always have different worldviews than the ones that came before, some basic rules of social media marketing will always stay the same.

Make sure to include test groups in your marketing strategy and try pushing new content to controlled groups of millennials before publishing them to anyone else. By acting on informed strategy rather than assumptions, you will save money in the process and ensure that your brand gets even more recognition from the people you want to reach most.

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

 

How to Market to Millennials, a Practical Guide to Instagram and Snapchat: How Grubhub Rocks the Apps for Millennials

Fundamentals of Business Blogging

Testing, Behavioral Analytics & Metrics Best Practices

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media market

 


 


Automation vs Personalization in Your Marketing Campaigns

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Editor's Note: Dario Supan is a content marketer and editor at Point Visible. Today he joins us to discuss the twin paradigms of automation and personalization, and how to balance them in your marketing campaigns.

 

With advances in technology and especially in Artificial Intelligence, marketers today are faced with an ever-increasing list of tools and algorithms that exist to speed up daily operations. The goal of this article isn’t to argue whether automation is required; it's usually obvious to anyone that has ever worked on a larger marketing campaign that some level of automation must be employed.

But there is a question worth asking: should marketers automate everything they can, just because they have the ability to do so? This practice tends to come with a compromise - the more automated your campaigns, the less personal they become. As a result, the level of automation you should use depends on how personal you want your campaigns to be.

Automation in Marketing

Automation has made its way into the marketing world because it brings a tremendous number of benefits. Not only is automation a chance to free up internal resources and minimize costs, but it’s also a highly effective method for preventing human error. Furthermore, consumers want automation: a recent report by research company Forrester confirms that many consumers want self-service options available to them, so that they do not need to interact or engage with a brand if they don't have to.

There are also many ways in which automated marketing processes can benefit a business. Perhaps the most obvious advantage comes in the form of big data and predictive analysis, utilizing information captured from consumers and prospective customers to predict spending habits, interests, and future needs. With automation, this sort of analysis is without question quicker and more accurate than depending on human guesses.

Similarly, lead nurturing can also benefit from automation. A prime example includes email marketing campaigns where information and offers are sent automatically to a predefined list. Automation in marketing is so advantageous that email marketing firm Emailmonday reports half of all companies now make use of automated marketing in one form or another.

Automation Limitations

While there are many areas of marketing in which automation can be beneficial, there are issues surrounding the notion of fully automated processes. It is important to consider the idea of marketing evolution, and how processes that are effective in one context may fail to work well in another.

By default, automation results in a loss of personalization. Automation means you're working with scripted responses to resonate with individuals on a deeper level, using technology that is unable to deviate from linear, programmed processes. This doesn't always work out.

Interestingly, although many consumers are seeking self-service options in some areas, they are also looking for personalization in others. Adweek reports that more than half of all consumers want a customized experience.

The reason?

Customized experiences make customers feel valued, and may result in improved brand loyalty.

Personalization in Marketing

There are specific areas of marketing where fully automated processes are limited in their overall impact, including social media management and outreach campaigns.

Social Media Management

Let’s dive a little deeper into social media, because it's a large part of marketing nowadays. There are many tools that can be used to automate everything that happens on your social media pages from tracking, scheduling, and publishing your content, to automated message responses. 

One real-world example to look at is Oreo, who sent an automated Twitter reply to a user with an offensive username; a username which was then quickly plastered across Oreo’s feed. This was a silly and probably costly mistake which could have easily been avoided through human action.

Getting it right, on the other hand, is Smart Car USA, who made headlines for correcting a Twitter user who claimed that a single bird poop would total a Smart Car. Smart provided a detailed mathematical response showing the actual number of birds required to wreck a car, and the original poster confirmed that Smart did a great job.

Human Limits

As we can see, “human touch” can never be replaced. However, as your business grows, you obviously can’t reply to everyone. Sooner or later, you will have to use some sort of automation. 

As using tools to automate parts of your processes is unavoidable, the real dilemma is what level of automation you should use.

Take scheduling and promoting posts on social media for example: do you want to use the same featured image across all social channels? Are you reaching out to everyone with the same message? Are you sharing posts at the same time of day?

You can automate the whole process and not make a single change, but this may have a negative impact on your engagement levels and CTR as your target audience often consists of different groups of people that have different interests and needs.

How far should you take personalization then? Answering this question really depends on the niche you are in, your brand authority, quality of content and so on.

Luckily, this is where A/B testing can help tremendouslyTake some time to test how personalization affects the metrics you are focused on, and adjust your workflow to meet the preferences of your audience.

Outreach Campaigns

Moving onto outreach campaigns, it is essential to remember that this form of marketing relies almost entirely upon human interaction, rather than automation.

Smart Insights highlights this fact with their published outreach email open rate statistics. As anticipated, outreach emails addressed to both a first and last name are statistically more likely to be opened than those addressed to the first name only or last name only, showing the power of personalization within this specific area of marketing.

Chances are, you're using some of the available outreach tools already; finding opportunities and managing a high volume of email traffic is close to impossible without one.

The fastest (and laziest) approach is just to make a list of blogs/people you want to contact, and reach out to everyone with the same message.

Or you can put some effort in, and personalize your outreach template with things like:

  • Name of the person you are reaching out too
  • Name of the blog you want to be featured on
  • Adjusting the topics/areas you can cover depending on the content they usually cover
  • Adjusting the pitch if you know for sure they are accepting guest contributions
  • Adjusting the tone depending on the level of the authority the site you are reaching out to has
  • Referring to some of their previous work you liked
  • Scheduling the time of day when the pitch is going to be sent

What it comes down to is this: do you want to send 100 generic pitches in 20 minutes or 20 personalized ones in an hour?

You are still using a tool to automate your outreach efforts, but you are also in control of the level of personalization that will be included. The second approach can often end up being more time-efficient, especially when you want to connect with high-authority sites.

Remember not to take this too far. Researching every site to find a post you can refer to often isn’t worth your time but many other things on the list are.

Again, test and update your workflow according to the results you are getting. There is no perfect recipe that works for across every niche.

Finding the Right Balance

There are arguably some areas of marketing where personalization isn’t required, and by steering clear of available automated processes, businesses could be preventing themselves from further growth and development opportunities.

In terms of prediction and data analysis, technology is often the preferred choice. However, in terms of B2C interactions, some degree of personalization is essential. It’s all about finding the right balance and learning how automated processes and personalization can both be used together to create the most effective and efficient marketing strategy.

Businesses may want to think of automation and personalization as two parts of the same unit, rather than as separate and distinct aspects. Automation can be very beneficial in learning what a customer wants; it’s a support system that enables us to offer the best personalized marketing through all stages of the sales funnel.

At the end of the day, to find the best solution, testing is key. All the research and statistics provided by companies and firms won't help you to meet the unique needs of your own audience - but understanding the general rule will help to find the specific one.

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

Marketing Automation Strategy for Full Lifecycle Management

Social Media Strategy for Business

Testing, Behavioral Analytics & Metrics Best Practices

 

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 

 


Why Your Next Marketing Hire Should Be A Chatbot

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Editor's Note: Josh R Jackson is a contributing editor at BestMarketingDegrees.org. To compliment the new Emerging Media classes in our updated catalog, he joins us today to explain the way chatbots are changing CRM, and how companies can benefit.

 

Because the chatbot is associated with a long history of frustrating and sometimes humorous responses to human questions, many Internet users roll their eyes when they hear the word chatbot.

And while some searchers ignore chatbox pop-ups habitually, many users fight the urge to close a window or end a phone call when they know a chatbot is on the other side.  

Nowadays, some of those users are pleasantly surprised to find that chatbot technology has come a long way in only a few short years. In fact, marketing teams might go so far as to say that chatbot technology has matured into the full-fledged industry called conversational commerce.

Why?

Because conversational commerce technology has emerged from its novelty phase when chatbots like Microsoft's Office Assistant and AIM's SmarterChild were cutting edge, and now it's —and it's riding a new wave of interest.

Source: Google Trends

In no small part, this chatbot renaissance is due to the proliferation and popularity of messaging apps which - along with brand name chatbots and personal assistants like Google Now and Amazon Alexa - have seen the marketing and AI potential of chatbots grow immensely.

Source: BI Intelligence

In addition, the modern marketing team's demand for 24/7 brand messaging and the ability to deliver a message when no one's available to take a call has worked double time to generate big waves of chatbot interest in platforms like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

Source: Google Trends

This means that the modern marketing team's demand for constant messaging has made the online environment ripe for innovation in chatbot marketing technology.

And while the most obvious function of chatbots may be in the realm of customer relationship management (i.e., attraction and retention of customers) the role of chatbots is expanding to include other realms for innovation in marketing: most notably, corporate productivity.

Here's why your marketing team's next hire should be a chatbot.

Big Customer Service Potential

Customer service, and specifically customer retention, is arguably the biggest, best, and most time-tested reason to invest in chatbot technology for your marketing team.

Over the years, customers have grown begrudgingly accustomed to going through the menu-items listed by interactive voice response systems (IVR), the ancient ancestors of the chatbot, that direct customers to the appropriate party via telephone keypad.

Source: Rob Guilfoyle, CEO Abe AI (LinkedIn)

Ask almost any customer what they think of interactive voice response, however, and you'll find that it's not a very good tool for retaining customers, much less maintaining customer satisfaction.

Today, free-flowing chatbot technology enables customers to interact with an AI system that - like a real employee - creates a conversational experience and learns a customer's preferences. Fostering such a natural language exchange rather than forcing a rote, numerical interaction is much more likely to meet modern consumer expectations, which increasingly depend on our ability to query interfaces like we would Google.

This is why adopting chatbot technologies early, and especially those that can handle customers' natural language queries, is likely to pay off in the long run—or in the words of Rob Guilfoyle, CEO of Abe AI, "likely [to] see quick and demonstrable ROI by getting ahead of the adoption curve."

Even Bigger Corporate Productivity Potential

Perhaps for the obvious reason that chatbots can avoid the complications that arise from human error, chatbot technologies have the potential not only to revolutionize the way we think about corporate productivity (i.e., as a means to the end of "the bottom line"), but also the very fabric of corporate productivity itself.

After all, if chatbots can take care of all our customers' service needs, could it become more productive for marketing teams to channel their energy into higher order, less tangible concerns, like accomplishing acts of social good? Could productivity become less defined as a measure of quantity than of quality?

Barring immediate answers to immaterial questions such as these, the prospect of a non-human future where someday, somehow, chatbots could replace human marketers is both frightening and exciting.

This prospect is frightening because chatbots really are beginning to spell a monumental change in the marketing profession for customer relationship managers. It is exciting because chatbots have the potential to more easily automate a processes that annoys customers at the same time as they develop more productive relationships with them.

All that is to say, good chatbots with good AI will make good customers, giving users and consumers the cutting-edge experience they crave with a company that is future-oriented.

And what better way to retain customers than to impress on them that you always have their interests (and their future) in mind?

Need more reasons why your marketing team's next hire should be a chatbot? Take OMI's newest classes on Emerging Media to see how chatbots are changing online marketing.

 


3 Ways Virtual Reality is Changing Brand Messaging

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Editor's Note: Josh R Jackson is a contributing editor at BestMarketingDegrees.org. To complement the brand new Emerging Media classes in our updated catalog, he joins us to discuss three ways the Virtual Reality is changing brand messaging today.

Right now, virtual reality is on its way to become the most disruptive trend in the media marketplace.

How do we know this? Because in 2016, virtual reality became the first and foremost emerging technology on Gartner's Hype Cycle, meaning it has passed the point of no return and reached the slope of viability. This is the same slope surpassed by innovative technologies like ephemeral messaging (Snapchat), which became one of the most popular marketing tools to emerge in the last five years.

So what does all of this mean?

In short, we can conclude that the immersive media experience called virtual reality is about to become a marketing technology that's not only viable for heavy hitters like Google and Facebook, but also sustainable, productive, and accessible for mainstream audiences.

And when virtual reality reaches this point, it will fundamentally alter the way marketers distribute and target brand messaging.

Just think about the possibility of a VR platform that could offer a more engaging social networking experience than Facebook!

But reaching the next phase in Gartner's Hype Cycle can be a long and arduous process, especially if new questions arise about expanding scales and climbing costs. In other words, it's still too early to say who's ahead in the race for peak VR productivity - innovators and investors will have to take a backseat to the free market, and patiently watch what happens.

In the meantime, mass market potential for virtual reality and immersive media has approached its most lucrative phase. Now is the time for marketers to use every spare second they have to observe key developments in the VR marketplace.

This is all the more true given that VR has already begun to change brand messaging as we speak.

Here are the three biggest ways virtual reality is doing that -

1. Virtual Reality is Changing How Marketers Sell Experience

Because virtual reality is a rich media format that sells an immersive experience, the technology is already revolutionizing the marketplace for experiential marketing.

Most theme parks have already caught onto this use of virtual reality, as many now furnish VR headsets to enhance their guests' experience.

Source: Mirror Online (2017)

SeaWorld, for instance, recently installed wraparound headsets to give riders of their Kraken roller coaster an experience they will never forget.

When the practice of selling people an experience has become the secret ingredient for tapping consumer markets—and particularly the Millennial consumer market that is so large, expansive, and accepting of new technologies—marketers cannot afford to underestimate the power that virtual reality has to reach new levels of engagement with global audiences.

The question is whether or not this method of delivery for virtual reality can be sustained and scaled to fit smaller media for less cost, but still deliver an unforgettable experience.

Right now, interactive designers and VR enthusiasts are at work bridging that gap with headsets that can browse the entire Internet in 3D.

When you consider the possibility of being able to see every video on the web in three dimensions, you open up a new world of possibilities for thinking about engagement with brand messaging -

That brings us to our second point -

2. Virtual Reality Is Disrupting How Marketers Track Attention and Engagement

When the practice of using a mouse or smartphone declines in the face of VR adoption, what happens to metrics like click rate? How do we measure user attention span and engagement with brand messaging if people aren't using their hands to interact with applications?

Part of the answer may lie in the startup potential of an emerging technology called Virtual Reality Eye Tracking.

Source: DTG Technology Readiness Levels (2016)

According to a method used by world militaries to measure an emerging technology's usability—the Technology Readiness Level (TRL)—Virtual Reality Eye Tracking has reached its full potential: enabling full gameplay for disabled persons.

As a result, it has become possible to measure engagement in virtual reality simply by tracking where a user is looking at a screen, and the technology which makes this possible is more than halfway to mass marketability.

What this could mean for brand messengers is that VR headsets have the potential to render taps and clicks obsolete in the near and distant future, especially if eye recognition technology becomes viable for larger screens.

It also means that attention—arguably the most important metric for determining user interest—is well on its way to becoming the next big metric for measuring a brand's success at attracting and retaining an audience.

3. Virtual Reality Is Disrupting How Marketers Sponsor Social Good

What if I told you that VR revenues are much more likely to come from markets of professionals who are undergoing vocational training for careers in computer science, engineering, and medicine rather than movies and passive forms of entertainment?

Source: Oculus - VR for Good

Of course, virtual reality is good for gaming - Eye Tracking technology can testify to that fact. But because this feature is primarily being developed so that disabled and handicapped users can play games without the use of their hands, the technology can also be thought of as virtual reality that sponsors a social good.

There are many developing uses for virtual reality technology that might accomplish something similar. For example, Oculus sponsors a challenge for aspiring filmmakers in high school to use 360-degree video technology to produce content that can inspire a change in their communities. Medical doctors and interactive designers are currently at work on developing applications for virtual reality that provide pain relief to children.

Today's marketers can likely think of many applications for this type of content as the viewer market for it grows. There already are opportunities for 360-degree video ads (and ad networks) that might be used to convey brand messaging that is socially moving. The next question for online marketers might be how can we use virtual reality for brand messaging to tell even more compelling stories than we are already telling?

Conclusion

However you look at it, virtual reality is on the cusp of changing the brand messaging landscape for marketers everywhere. Will you be one of the pioneers creating change, or a reactionary on the sidelines?

To learn how you can be one of the pioneers, take OMI's newest classes on Emerging Media.

 


How Google Analytics Can Build Your Web Presence

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Editor's Note: April Davis is a content producer at Webfirm, and joins us today to explain how Google Analytics can boost your online presence, and how to get started.

Have you ever heard the phrase, "a billboard in the middle of a desert?" It sounds like a ridiculous idea. Nobody would put a billboard in a desert because there's nobody in the desert to see it.

However, many businesses create "billboards in the desert" when they build a website and do nothing to bring visitors in.

One reason new webmasters face this problem is because they don't understand the tools bundled with their own website. This failure is especially true for Web analytics; while it may seem like a website is doing its job whether a human is paying attention or not, nothing is really that simple.

No digital marketing strategy is complete without effective reporting, because without transparency, how do you know what’s working and what’s not?

This is where tools like Google Analytics come in.   

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a free tool from Google that allows you to measure - among many other variables - your website traffic. At first glance, this might not seem overly important or impressive. However, data from Google Analytics can help answer a number of key questions for website owners, including:

  • How many people are visiting the website
  • Where these visitors are located geographically
  • Whether the site is effectively converting mobile customers
  • What digital marketing tactics are driving the most web traffic (for example, PPC campaigns or social media marketing)
  • Which web pages attract the most visitors
  • How many web visitors have converted into an actual lead or sale
  • What digital channels users are coming from
  • Whether the website is fast enough, or takes too long to load
  • If it has a blog, the type of content that brings in the most visitors?

In answering these questions, website owners are able to establish what does and doesn’t work, and what they can do to improve the effectiveness of both their website design and their digital marketing strategy.

There are a lot of online tools and content from Google that can help you to understand Google Analytics, but to really learn the ins and outs of this effective web analytics tool and similar applications, a Web Analytics Certification can prove invaluable.

How Can You Use Google Analytics Data to Improve Your Business's Online Presence?  

So now that we know how important Google Analytics is in determining the objective of a website and targeting SEO efforts into the most effective channels, what are the benefits of applying it in everyday settings?

At its most basic level, Google Analytics provides the empirical data you need to make smart business decisions. You wouldn’t buy a car without doing research, so why would you invest in an AdWords campaign without first knowing which channels your web visitors are coming from?

When you dig a little deeper, you’ll quickly realize that Google Analytics comes with a host of other benefits.   

Tracking the Movement of Your Users

Google Analytics allows you to track exactly what people are doing when they visit your website. For instance, you can see what pages they visit, how long they stay there and the total bounce rate. You’ll also be able to see how they navigate through your site.

This will help you understand what pages on your site that visitors engage with the most, and which ones they’re not really interested in. This consequently means that once again, you can shift your attention to what’s not working and fix whatever makes them lose interest. It might be that the bulk of your visitors are coming from mobile devices and your site isn’t mobile optimized, or it might mean the content on your website isn’t appealing to your target audience.

In addition to these points, Google Analytics’ data will also provide insights into the usability of your site and whether it’s quick to load and easy to navigate, or whether it’s taking too long to load and is difficult to navigate.

Gauging Your Target Audience Perception

What’s your target audience?

Let’s say you’re a wedding dress designer who is targeting women between the ages of 25-35. You’re also targeting women within your local area. You can determine the accuracy of your target audience perception by using the audience reports that can be found within Google Analytics. These reports include everything from user locations and age, to gender and even interests.

After looking at these metrics, you might realize that your target audience is actually a little different from what you thought it was. For example, you might have a lot of mature-aged brides in their 40s shopping for your gowns, or perhaps you have customers from outside your local area who are interested in your designs.

Thanks to Google Analytics, you’ll be able to learn as much as you possibly can about your target audience, so you can ensure your ads and campaigns encompass the interests of your audience, while also making sure you’re targeting the correct locations, devices and etc.  

Better Allocation of Your Budget

Naturally enough, one of the biggest interests when it comes to analyzing website performance is determining how good return on investment (ROI) is. But how do you determine this, and how can you better allocate your budget to improve your ROI?

With Google Analytics, of course!

You’ll already be on track to improving your budget allocation when you nail steps listed in this article, but there are also reports available through Google Analytics that will offer you a percentage increase/decrease on your budget that’s dependent on the specific model of attribution you choose to use.

Once again, understanding your audience will also influence your budget allocation, as you might realise you need to be targeting users from different areas or with different interests.

How Can You Get Started with Google Analytics?

Getting started is easy; as there are no initial start-up costs and you can get started easily from the Google Analytics website. All you need to sign up is an existing or new Gmail account, and of course, a website to track. Then, you simply follow the provided steps.

For more in depth information on getting started with Google Analytics, consider a certification in Web Analytics. Our professionally guided classes will teach you everything you need to know to raise boost sales and raise ROI.