Why You Need to Advertise Online

Here at Out-Smarts, we’re big fans of online advertising. We like the fact that it’s affordable, traceable and tailored to your target audience – meaning you’re not spending important advertising dollars to get your ad in front of people who don’t have a need or want for your product.

Advertising online is highly targeted and beneficial because it relies on keywords that people use to search for content online with Google Adwords, and topics people have indicated an interest in on their Facebook profiles with Facebook Ads.

When you advertise offline, such as putting up a billboard downtown, it’s hard to know how effective that billboard was at driving traffic to your business. The nice thing about including online advertising in your overall marketing strategy is that it’s highly traceable. You know exactly who visited your website or interacted with your Facebook page as a result of your advertising efforts  – and, as a bonus, online ads generally won’t break the bank.

The two biggest ways to advertise online are through Google Adwords and Facebook Ads. We discuss both in detail below.

Google Adwords

Google Adwords is a cost effective way to rank highly in Google search results for highly targeted keywords that describe your business. We recommend using Adwords to augment your SEO efforts such as targeted website copy, completed META titles, tags and descriptions, directory submissions, link building, etc. If you’ve completed all of the above, or you’re in a highly competitive industry, and you’re still not ranking at the top of first page search results, then Adwords is for you. Very few people go beyond first page search results, meaning if you don’t have some sort presence there, your website may never be found by potential clients.

Adwords is great because you can target by geographic area and language, and it’s tailored to your budget. You can spend as little or as much as your budget allows each day on advertising. There are also extensive built-in metrics that track how well your ads are doing including; clicks, impressions, click through rate (number of clicks on your ad compared to how often it appeared to your target audience), average cost per click, total cost, as well as your best and worst performing keywords and ad campaigns. The sheer amount of data and metrics available through Adwords can be overwhelming at first but, trust us, it can quickly become addicting to tweak your keywords and campaigns, and watch the effect it has on your ability to reach your target audience.

Adwords also gives you the option of your ads appearing in search results, on their content network, or both. Search results are pretty self-explanatory – your ads may appear when someone executes a Google search using keywords you’ve bid on. Advertising on the Google content network means your ads may appear on websites that Google has determined are related to the keywords that you have bid on.

Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads are great because of how highly targeted you can make each ad. For example, if you’re a Vancouver based fitness centre, you can get as granular as targeting women, between 30-40 years old, that are married, living in Vancouver, with a university education, that have expressed an interest in fitness and healthy living. It’s easy to see how beneficial this can be for your business.

Another nice thing about Facebook Ads is that they are completely tailored to your budget. You can pay as little as $1 a day, or as much as your budget allows for advertising. As well, you can direct your ad to land on either your Facebook business page or your website, depending on whether your goal is to build your Facebook presence and engagement, or drive more traffic to your website.

Once you’ve run a Facebook Ad campaign, you can see how effective your ad was using built-in metrics such as campaign reach, frequency, social reach, actions (people that connected with your page after viewing your ad), clicks (people that clicked on your ad but didn’t connect with your page), as well as your click through rate and ad spend.

You do need to provide Facebook with your credit card information before you can set up Facebook Ads, but this is a simple process and allows for easy billing once you start generating clicks on your ads. Speaking of which, we always recommend choosing the ‘pay per click’ option – meaning you only pay if someone clicks on your ad versus the ‘impressions’ option – meaning you pay whenever someone sees your ad.

If we’ve convinced you about the important of online advertising, and we hope we have, contact us and we can help you get started.


Tumblr: The Easiest Way to Blog

There’s an updated version of this blog post. To read it go here.

This week Yahoo agreed to buy Tumblr, the hugely popular blog site. Tumblr is a blog platform that is simple and easy to use but how does it stack up against other blog tools and is it right for your business. Read on!

What is Tumblr

Tumblr is a microblogging platform that allows users to share just about anything via their personal Tumblelog. You can quickly and easily post whatever you want – text, photos, videos, music, quotes, and links, from wherever you want – your web browser, phone, desktop computer, or email. The service prides itself on its ease of use, as well as the ability to customize everything including the colors of your Tumblelog and the HTML code of your Tumblr theme.

More blogs use Tumblr as their underlying technology that WordPress: in total there are around 109 million blogs using Tumblr and a whopping 51 billion plus blog posts ( 74,935,213 posts so far today alone). The service also boasts a retention rate of 85% versus Twitter’s 40% – once users sign up for Tumblr they are very likely to continue using it. When you compare Tumblr’s retention rate with traditional blogging you can see that they must be doing something right!

From a business perspective, there’s a lot of contention surrounding Tumblr – some swear by it and some hate it but if you are trying to determine which of the two to use, here is a simple, general rule of thumb – if your audience is under thirty five and your service or product is very visual and you’re strapped for time then Tumblr is the way to go, if your audience is older and you want to do more than blog (and more with your blog) then use WordPress.   I use both – WordPress is the underlying technology for this blog and Tumblr is the one I use for fun posts on my personal blog.

Tumblr

Benefits of Tumblr

Tumblr is doing to blogging what texting did to email, ie. not rendering it obsolete, but certainly giving it a run for its money.

With Tumblr, you spend less time writing content, and yet readers of your Tumblelog tend to get a better picture of who/what you are as a person or company. As founder David Karp said, “Tumblelogs don’t need all the context of written post. The context is the blog itself, or the person writing it.” Reading one post in someone’s Tumblelog doesn’t tell you much, but browsing through their posts gives you a remarkably accurate picture of who/what they are, without all the reading associated with a traditional blog. Also, Tumbelogs are likely to appeal to a wider audience, as some will prefer the assortment of photos, video files, and links that a traditional blog may be lacking.

Tumblr’s API allows Tumblelogs to be extensively modified; users can delete all the basic formatting and start from scratch to design the look, feel and layout. If you can imagine it, chances are you can do it with Tumblr. The outcome for bloggers is huge; connect more deeply with your readers, in less time, and on your customized, easy to use microblog. No wonder Tumblr is exploding in popularity!

To find out more about why everyone loves Tumblr, click here to see the many features available to you via your Tumblelog.



Facebook Insights Explained

Last year, Facebook overhauled their Insights, aka the metrics they use to track your page’s success. There’s a lot of new data there, but it can be confusing to find what you’re looking for with the new layout. Our guide will demystify the new layout and show you how to delve deeper into the data about your business page.

Metrics

Total Likes. This one is pretty obvious, but there’s a twist. The number displayed on the Facebook Insights homepage tells you the total number of people that have liked you business page. If you want to know the absolute total like count for your page, you’ll have to do a bit more searching. Click on the ‘likes’ tab at the top of the page, and on the right hand side you’ll see a hyperlink called ‘see likes’. When you click this, a box pops up with everyone who has liked your page, and if you click on ‘people’ on the left, you can switch between people, pages, admins and people you’ve banned from your page. From this box you can also make people admins, or revoke their admin status.

Friends of Fans. This is the total number of friends of all of your fans; which is also the potential number of people your posts could reach.

People Talking About This. The number of unique people that have interacted with your page during the last week. An interaction includes a fan liking your page, posting something to your wall, liking, commenting or sharing one of your page’s posts, answering a question, responding to an event, mentioning your page, tagging your page in a photo, checking in at your page’s place, or recommending your page’s place. In short, this a tally of the amount of recent interaction your page has received.

Weekly Total Reach. The total amount of people who have recently seen any of your page’s content. This number includes people that have seen your Facebook ads or sponsored stories –  if you’re currently running them.  This metric is further broken down into individual users lower down on the page.

Page Posts. As we just mentioned, weekly total reach is further broken down into individual page posts. This chart displays all your recent posts, along with how many people they reached (who’s seen your posts), engaged users (who clicked on your post), who’s talking about your post (see ‘people talking about this’ explanation above), as well as the virality of your post (the percentage of people who interacted with your post vs. the total number of people who have seen your posts). If you click on the engaged users number, another chart pops up that tells you what action each of the engaged users took with your posts, as well as if anyone gave it negative feedback – ie, whether someone hid that particular post or unfriended your page as a result of seeing that post.

Diving deeper into Facebook Insights

Along with the key metrics available on the homepage of Facebook Insights, there are also tabs across the top of the page that offer you even more information.

Likes. This tab provides demographic data about your page including; a breakdown of males vs females by age that have liked your page, and a list of countries and cities your fans live in as well as languages they speak. You can also find information about new likes and unlikes, as well as where they were on Facebook when they liked your page – where they actually on your page? Did they find your page through a friend? Did they like your page via a post that appeared on their newsfeed?

Reach. Information about who you reached – again, broken down by age and gender, where they were located, how you reached them, and a breakdown of overall visits to your page. We find the information on the lower half of this page especially useful – how you reach people, and visits to your page.

  • How you reached people provides information about how many people saw any content related to your page and whether they were reached organically, through paid advertising, or virally. There’s also a handy chart that shares how often you reached unique users by frequency which helps further determine how many people are seeing your content.
  • Visits to your page shows both the number of times your page was viewed and how many of those page views were made by unique visitors (as opposed to the same person frequently returning to your page). There’s also a list of your page’s most popular tabs, as well as which external websites referred traffic to your Facebook page.

Talking about this. This tab details how many unique people have interacted with your page recently by age, gender, country, city, and language. The catch is that it only shows data if more than 30 people have talked about your page in the past 7 days preceding your selected date range. The two charts at the bottom on the page show who’s been talking about your page as well as your viral reach, and they can be manipulated to show information about all stories, page likes, stories from your posts, mentions and photo tags, posts by others, questions and check-ins.

Check-Ins. A pretty self-explanatory tab. Information on who’s recently checked into your page by age, gender, location and language. Again, this data is only available if more than 30 people have checked into your page in the 7 days preceding your selected date range.

Looking for some more insight (get it?) into Facebook Insights and your Facebook page? We offer both coaching and training sessions on social media and how to best leverage it for your business. Contact us for more information.


8 Reasons You Should Use Hootsuite

A social media dashboard is an essential tool for any digital marketer. We’re partial to Hootsuite, ‘the leading social media dashboard to manage and measure your social networks’, and a local Vancouver-based success story. Here’s why we’re head over heels for Hootsuite:

1. Schedule posts. This is probably right up there as one of our favourite Hootsuite features. Social media newsfeeds move quickly and what you post at 8 am might not be seen by the potential client that logs into Facebook or Twitter at 2 pm. Besides sitting at your computer posting constantly, how can you be sure your updates are appearing in front of important consumer eyes? You schedule your posts. Hootsuite makes this easy with their scheduler; you can schedule one post at a time, mass upload posts via CVS using the bulk message uploader, and see all your scheduled posts in the Publisher calendar.

hootsuite scheduler

2. Team management. If you’re more than a one man (or woman) show, you probably have multiple people managing your various social media accounts. Hootsuite is great for keeping track of who’s replied to comments, answered questions, posted to various accounts, and it also tracks what time everything was done – to better spread out your postings throughout the day or week. Another perk is that you can give multiple users access to your various social media accounts without having to reveal private information, such as passwords.

hootsuite team management

3. Analytics. Hootsuite has its own built-in metrics and analytics. We blogged about it last April when they revamped their offering. Check it out, there’s lots of analysing power built into the dashboard.

4. No logging into multiple accounts. Having everything in one place is a huge time saver. Without Hootsuite, we’d be logging in and out of social media accounts for clients all day long. We can imagine you feel the same way trying to manage your time with social media because let’s be honest, it can be a full-time job. We can testify to that too; it’s how we make our living! From your Hootsuite dashboard you can send, schedule, track, like, comment, reply, and view photos on multiple accounts on Facebook – personal and business timelines, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.

5. Hard to miss comments. This ties into number 4, sometimes things get lost in the shuffle when you’re logging in and out of multiple accounts. Using Hootsuite, you can see everything all in one place. It’s easy to see whether someone has commented on your Facebook post, or sent you a direct message on Twitter. It’s also easy to see if a team member has already replied, or whether you need to get on that right away.

6. In the cloud. There’s nothing to download with Hootsuite, it’s entirely online which is great for business owners and employees that are frequently out and about throughout the workday. You can log in, check the status of your social media accounts and post updates from anywhere with an internet connection.

7. Inexpensive. Hootsuite offers users an impressive package for the affordable price of $5.99 a month for the Pro version. For a smidge under $6, you can link unlimited social profiles, add 1 free team member, you get a free analytics report, Google Analytics and Facebook Insights integration and more. If you want to add additional team members, it’s $15 a month each – which is still an excellent deal.

8. Add RSS feeds. If you blog, you can add your feed and your posts will automatically be posted to your various social media accounts. You can add unlimited RSS feeds with the Pro version ($5.99 a month).

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, here’s an article on why you should not use Hootsuite.

We’ll let you be the judge – do you think Hootsuite is a reasonable investment for your business? If so, you can sign up here or give us a shout. We’re a Hootsuite Pro Partner and have been helping clients get the most out of Hootsuite for years – would love to help you too.


Reasons to Use Google Analytics

We like Google Analytics because it reveals a ton of useful information about your website, and did we mention it’s free? A frequently asked question regarding social media is, what’s the ROI? Installing Google Analytics on your website makes it much easier to track the ROI of online marketing than its offline counterpart. You can see where your traffic is coming from, whether or not your recent Facebook campaign caused a spike in traffic to your website, what pages people visit most often and spend the most time on, and much more.

For advice and tips on setting up Google Analytics on your website, check out our earlier blog post.

Why you should be using Google Analytics

1. Measuring your website performance over time. Using Google Analytics, you can easily compare your site’s performance with its past performance over a specific time period. We like to compare both this month versus last month, and how we’re performing this year versus the same time last year.

2. Visitor loyalty. It’s great if your website is getting tons of hits, but if those people visit once and never return then something isn’t resonating with your target audience. Analytics tracks all visitors to your website and determines how many are first time visitors versus returning visitors.

3. Integrate your adwords account. If you already have a Google AdWords account, you can integrate it with analytics to collect campaign, ad group or keyword specific data. The data collected includes cost, conversions, impressions, clicks and whether the ad resulted in a sale. You can even see your profit margin for each ad that led to a sale.

4. Dashboard customization. The basic Analytics dashboard comes with all kinds of useful tidbits of data; including, most popular pages on your site, visitors, bounce rate, time on site, traffic sources, etc. But, there’s a lot more to Google Analytics than the dashboard. These other metrics, such as the Adwords overview, top landing pages, goals, and the keywords entered into internal search must be accessed manually from the left hand navigation bar. If you find you use manually accessible features often, you can add them to your dashboard using the ‘add to dashboard’ button at the top of the page. Once you’ve added something to your dashboard, it will stay there until you choose to remove it. It’s also possible to rearrange your dashboard to your preferred layout.

5. Internal search. If you have an internal search bar on your website, Analytics tracks exactly what people are typing into that field to find things on your website. It also tracks what page they were on when they made the search, and where they ended up after completing the search.

6. Assign access to your account. You can give people two types of access to your Analytics account. Administrator access gives key people full access to your account, whereas read-only privileges allow people to run reports, but they are unable to make any changes or access your website specific Analytics code.

7. Set goals. It’s easy to set up a goal for almost anything you would like users to do on your website; including, visiting a certain page, making a purchase, signing up for your newsletter, ad conversions, etc. This will give you a clear idea of whether people are taking the steps on your website that you would like them to follow.

8. Scheduled reports and easy exportation. If you can never remember to check your Google Analytics account, it’s possible to set it up so that regular reports get emailed to your inbox. Or, you can schedule reports to regularly be emailed to key employees, in a variety of handy formats. It’s also possible to export your data in a CSV file where you can view and manipulate it in Excel.

9. Funnel visualization. This is a great tool that allows you to see when visitors are backing out of the conversion process on your website. For example, it lets you know if most people quit trying to buy your product at the shopping cart step, or if people stop signing up for your newsletter when they realize how much personal information they have to divulge. This information lets you know what it is about your conversion processes that are deterring your customers.

10. Bounce rates. The bounce rate is the number of people that immediately leave your site after landing on it. You can look at the bounce rate for each individual page to determine which ones are ‘sticky’. If the majority of people land on a page of your website and leave right away, you may want to rethink the copy or layout of that particular page.

Need help installing Google Analytics on your website? Contact us; this is one of the many services we provide our clients.


The Google+ Project

It’s been a couple weeks since giant Google launched their latest effort in social, Google+. The search giant has had a couple false starts in their attempt to go social with both Google Wave and Google Buzz failing to catch users’ attention. However, from the buzz around the web, Google+ might just have the potential to rival the leader of social, Facebook.

What is Google+?

In short, Google+ is Google’s latest attempt at a social network. The official Google blog stated that,

“Today, the connections between people increasingly happen online. Yet the subtlety and substance of real-world interactions are lost in the rigidness of our online tools. In this basic, human way, online sharing is awkward. Even broken. And we aim to fix it.”

 

To facilitate ease of sharing, Google is integrating many of their current features and products into Google+ in the form of Circles, Sparks, Hangouts, and Mobile. They’ve also included a ‘Stream’, analogous to Facebook’s newsfeed or the Twitter stream – something social savvy users will find familiar. The constantly updating stream will aggregate updates and postings from all your friends in one place.

Circles

Circles are similar to Facebook lists, but easier and more intuitive. The premise behind circles is that people don’t want to share everything with everyone. For example, you most likely share different things with your friends than you do with you family, and you probably want to keep your weekend escapades separate from the information you share with your work contacts. You can easily do this by separating your contacts into different circles, such as ‘friends’, ‘family’, ‘work’ or a customized circle. To do this, simply click on a contact and drag them into the appropriate circle where they will only see the information you want them to see.

 

Sparks

Sparks brings content to you automatically based on whatever ‘sparks’ your interest. Maybe you’re interested in cycling, dogs, cooking, or you’re a car enthusiast – sparks collects interesting content from across the internet and brings it right to you, on a separate page for each topic. It’s easy get started with Sparks, you type a topic of interest, such as ‘social media’ into the search box and, if you like the content that appears, you can click ‘Add Interest’ and social media will be added to your Sparks.

If you later decide you don’t want to follow a certain topic, it’s easy to delete it from your Sparks – simply hover over the topic you wish to delete and click the X.

Hangouts

This is basically video chat, with an added twist of being able to have a multi-person video chat. You can choose which friends, or even entire circles, you wish to video chat with, and anyone in the Hangout can invite their own contacts to join as well.

Mobile

Huddle

If you remember group messaging from the days of msn messenger, you’ll quickly understand the Huddle feature. Instead of having multiple similar conversations, you can instead start a Huddle where everyone can chat together. This feature could be incredibly useful for trying to make plans to get any group of people to meet all at one place at one time.

Instant Upload

Photos taken on your mobile phone will be automatically added, with your permission, to a private photo album in the Google cloud. This way, you can share them straight from Google+, without the hassle of traditionally uploading them. Many users fear only having a copy of their photos in the cloud, which is why it’s easy to backup your online images to your home computer using Google Takeout.

Location

You can easily add your location to every post you make in Google+. Or not, the choice is up to you.

Privacy

Social networks, most notably Facebook, have been notorious for their privacy issues. Google has tackled users’ privacy concerns by making it easy to customize your Google+ profile’s visibility. Your name and photo (if you upload one) are the only things that are public on your profile, everything else can be customized to private. Or, you can assign different levels of profile visibility to different circles. Furthermore, the names of your circles won’t be disclosed, not even to the people that are in them. So, feel free to put someone in the acquaintance circle without worrying about insulting them!

As with Facebook, you can block people you don’t want to interact with, and choose whether or not your profile is indexed by search engines.

How to join Google+

Currently Google+ is in Beta testing stage and  can only be accessed through invitation from a current Google+ user. If you have a friend already on Google+, ask them to invite you! Or, you can sign-up here with your Google ID and be notified when Google is allowing more users access to the testing stage.

If, once you’re a Google+ member, you decide it isn’t for you; you can downgrade your account by following the steps in this guide. Deleting just your Google+ account will leave your other Google accounts unaffected, or you have the option to delete your entire Google Account and all associated services.

Have you tried Google+? What do you think of it? Let us know below in the comments section.