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The BirdPlot Social Media Blog

Social media is a huge part of inbound marketing. Simply creating your social media accounts, putting content out there and seeing how many visitors you get is just the tip of the iceberg. You'll have access to a lot of data, but knowing how to effectively read and understand that data is what really matters. If you don't take certain simple steps to properly filter you analytical data, you'll be left with a big jumble of stats that don't really mean anything on their own, but when you piece things together you can find a very clear picture of how your visitors are finding you, what they're looking for, what they're doing once they find you and how you can better tailor the experience to meet their needs. Let's take a look at why it's important to track these key data points, how to dig even deeper, and finally a couple of quick case studies that you will hopefully be able to relate to your own business for ideas and inspiration.

Take Advantage Of All The Data You Have Available

Every social media platform has their own statistics that you can use to measure the effectiveness of what you're doing. For example, on Facebook, you're able to see how many people have viewed each of the posts on your Facebook Page and what your potential reach is. On Twitter, you can measure how many retweets and @ replies you're getting. On Pinterest, you can gauge the interest of your audience based on how many repins you are getting.

Also, using the analytics platform that you have chosen to run on your website (The most popular option being Google Analytics, but Clicky is another great choice), you can determine the approximate value of each of those social metrics in terms of website visitors. For example, if you get an average of 20 repins when you post to twitter, and those 20 repins typically result in 100 visitors, you can assume that 1 repin is worth approximately 5 website visitors. To take it a step further, if your conversion rate on your website is a mere 1%, you can assume that one post to Pinterest will generate one sale or customer. Regardless of which platform you're using, you can figure out these statistics using the built-in metrics and however you track visitors to your website, but you can also take things a step further...

How To Dig Deeper And Uncover Even More Data

Beyond using the default metrics that each social network provides, there are many services that can help you dig a lot deeper and to paint a much more complete picture. This is important because while the above example using repins helps to get an understanding, it really doesn't tell the full story. To really paint a complete picture of how effective your social media strategies and campaigns are, you will need to analyze data on your webpages as well. We'll also take a look at a useful service that helps you do so.

Twitter Analytics: In June of 2013, Twitter released an analytics platform which can be found in their Ads section. It's not as in-depth as some of the other social and inbound marketing analytics platforms we'll be looking at in a moment, and of course it only gives you data for your twitter account, but it's free and does offer some useful insights to help track the performance of the leads you generate using Twitter.

Simply Measured: Simply Measured is a very robust platform that will give you in-depth data across a number of social media channels. Primarily designed for corporate clients, individuals and small businesses can still take advantage of their free reports.

Moz Analytics: Moz, the recent re-branding of SeoMOZ, is going far beyond the search engine optimization they became known for and is now offering complete analytics for inbound marketing. Moz Analytics works across a plethora of social networking platforms to help you easily determine the ROI of your social media efforts quickly, at a glance, without having to do any of the aforementioned calculations.

Crazyegg: Crazyegg is a small piece of code that you insert onto your site, and it tracks what visitors do on your pages. This is essential because once a lead is drawn in via social media and other types of inbound marketing, you need to analyze their behavior on your website in order to tailor your site to meet their needs. You may notice that visitors from StumbleUpon tend to have a lower bounce rate, or that Twitter visitors are mostly using mobile devices and aren't able to scroll down on your page properly... There are a lot of discoveries you can make using Crazyegg, and they will all help you to better serve your visitors and customers, which in turn leads to more sales and more money in your pocket.

Putting Your Data To Work For You

At the end of the day, the goal is to help measure what type of an ROI you're getting with inbound marketing and the above mentioned tools can all help however there are certain things that can't really be measured. How do you put a dollar value on the brand awareness that comes from having 10,000 likes on Facebook? You can calculate the average sales you make per like, of course, but there are still certain intangible elements that can't really be measured effectively. That being said, there is so much data just waiting for you to explore it, to take advantage of it, and to provide the best possible experience for all of your inbound website and social media visitors.

Even your old school CEO will recognize the importance of split testing when it comes to traditional outbound marketing on the internet such as pay-per-click ads, but when it comes to inbound marketing this useful tool is often neglected. Every inbound marketing effort has a goal, whether it's to add a new fan, a newsletter subscriber, or even to make the sale right there on the spot. In any case, common sense tells us that if you have yet to optimize your inbound marketing materials to achieve those goals, you'll have a much easier time improving your conversion rate from 1% to 2% than you will doubling the amount of people who see your content. As a rule of thumb, it's easier and a lot less expensive to improve conversion rates than it is to increase traffic so before you pump more cash into your inbound marketing campaigns, make sure you have at least a basic optimization plan in place.

Here's a no-nonsense look at how you can drastically improve the return on investment for your inbound marketing by split testing all the way to the bank.

Step #1 - Identify A Goal

Before you can split test and compare the results, you've got to have a clear goal in mind. Do you want to improve the bounce rate of people reading your content? Do you want to improve time on page? Do you want to increase the CTR from your articles to your landing pages? If you can't identify a goal for any given piece of content, should you even bother to create and publish it in the first place? We'll be mentioning conversion rates several times, and it's important to point out that this can be applied to whatever your particular goal is - not only for newsletter signups or sales.

Step #2 - Establish A Baseline

Do you know how well you are currently converting visitors towards that goal? If not, you'll have to establish a baseline. Think of this as a starting point which you'll aim to improve upon. If you don't know where you're starting off, how will you know if you've improved or not? If you haven't been keeping track of this, and don't have the past analytics data to reference, wait a month or so to collect data before you start with step number three.

Step #3 - Make The Small Changes

Once you know how well you are currently converting, you will be able to make some initial tweaks to your pages. Start with small things. For example, try adding a call to action to the end of all of your articles and see if it increases the likelihood of accomplishing your goal for each visitor. If so, you can start to split test different wordings for your call to action. If you're looking to gather email addresses, you can try different images, different calls to action, even different color "Submit" buttons. There are countless little tweaks you can make, and case studies have shown that even small changes can improve conversions by a huge margin. If you can find 5 little things that can each increase your conversion rate by 20%, your inbound marketing is now 100% more effective.

Suggestions of small changes to test:

  • Photo of a male vs photo of a female
  • Different color headline text
  • Numerous headlines highlighting different benefits
  • Different colors for your call to action buttons or text
  • Different sizes, locations and frequencies of CTAs

Step #4 - Make The Big Changes

Once you have your current landing page or article layout (or whatever type of content you're trying to optimize) performing at a satisfactory level, it's time to turn the boat around and try something completely different. If you were previously using a long form sales latter, for example, this is when you would try a quick and clean page, with a video, without a video intro, and so on and so forth. Once you've made a big change to your page's style, go back to number 3 and optimize the little things again. Now you'll have two separate styles that are each converting at their best, and you can compare them to one another.

Suggestions of big changes to test

  • Short form vs long form
  • Layout style, overall color schemes
  • Videos
  • Exit popups
  • Professional social media tone vs friendlier tone

Things To Consider

Keep in mind that each traffic source will perform differently depending on the style of page you're using and what your goals are. For example, you will generally have a better conversion rate trying to get follows and likes from social media traffic, whereas you'll be more likely to make a sale from highly targeted search engine traffic or paid media.

There are countless moving parts, and it's near impossible to get something absolutely perfect. There's always another tweak or major overhaul for you to try, and a different traffic source for you to optimize your pages for. Don't treat split testing as something that has a clear beginning and an end because it's an ongoing process. The good news is that you can always find something to improve upon and new ways to do better, and in turn you'll always be coming up with more effective ways to manage your inbound marketing traffic.

It doesn't need us to tell you how important conversion optimization techniques are. Some of the best ideas are the old ones - a great search engine, compelling design, specific usp's, clear navigation. Here are a few of the best techniques which we are using - so check out whether they can be useful in optimizing visitor to sales ratios on YOUR site.

Of course you know that you have to test, but are you thinking about the right things when you are testing? Use a tool like Qualaroo to ask your customers a few simple questions, and devise tests based on their responses. Don't play guessing games based on your own likes and dislikes - you probably aren't a typical customer.

To really find out what bugs customers about your site, use a tool like Olark to enable online chat. Study the conversations, which you can store for later perusal, and man the online chat lines yourself from time to time. You will find this completely invaluable (and perhaps a bit humiliating if you were the web designer). The things that you thought were so easy to use, the design ideas which looked so great, may be the very things which are preventing people from buying.

If you have a good customer base, try sending out a survey. Don't overwork this, as many people find surveys irritating. Decide what you really truly need to discover from your customer base, and have an expert devise the questions to ensure you get the most accurate response. Analyze the responses carefully and survey again if you need to. Use the survey results to improve your site, and don't forget to test - the numbers do not lie!

A sure fire conversion optimization technique is to have a video on your home page. Many products need explanation, many services need a lot of visualization to get over the quality of the service. But don't just think that just any old video will work. A five minute video of a beer bellied redneck standing in a yard operating a chicken plucker won't even sell chicken pluckers to beer bellied rednecks. The video has to be well produced, demonstrating our true marketing friends, features and benefits in an attractive and engaging manner. And of course, test it before you use it, right?

Finally in this brief survey of just some of the current thinking on conversion optimization techniques, customer country identification is becoming a must have for web vendors selling internationally. This identifies your customer's country by IP when he arrives on your site, and displays a comforting message - "Yes, we do deliver to New Zealand". Your site can also be programmed to convert prices into the visitor's own currency - this can have a huge positive impact on international sales.

SEO is an acronym that stands for search engine optimization. SEO is one of the most effective forms of inbound marketing on the internet. It's constantly changing and evolving, yesterday's best practices could very well be tomorrow's faux pas. There's a fine line between search engine optimization and search engine manipulation; the former being an essential tool to help your site rank higher in search results and the latter being a very fine line that you don't want to be on the wrong side of. In this article, we'll provide a brief introduction to SEO along with highlighting some key areas to focus on.

Why SEO Matters For Your Reputation

Whether you run a blog, a small business or a giant corporation, SEO is a key component of inbound marketing. When somebody is looking for your brand online, you want to dominate the first page of the search results. Ideally, you want control of all the pages filling up the first two or three pages of search results, if not more. Otherwise, that leaves room for somebody else to fill those spaces. This is called online reputation management, and it's a very important component of SEO that many companies overlook. If a competitor starts an online smear campaign against you and you don't have proper SEO to protect your brand, it can be a real headache to make those negative search results disappear. It's much more cost effective to be proactive when it comes to online reputation management through SEO, rather than reactive.

Generating Leads And Sales Through SEO

Now that you know how important it is to show up in the search results for terms relating to your brand name, let's talk about generating leads and sales through the use of SEO. As an example, let's say you own a business called Paul's Widget Shop. You would, undoubtedly, want to show up in the top results when somebody searches your business' name, and that really doesn't take much effort since it's not a competitive term. Showing up for your own name ties into online reputation management. To take things a step further, you'll also want to show up in the search results for terms like "red widgets", "yellow widgets", "where to buy red widgets", "best purple widgets" and so on and so forth. The more relevant terms you're able to rank for, the more effective your inbound marketing strategy will be and the more sales and leads you will be able to generate via your website.

Basic Best Practices For SEO In 2013

SEO is primarily about links. When other sites link to you, think of it as those sites vouching for you. The better the sites are that vouch for you, the higher you'll rank in the search results. That's a drastic oversimplification, but it gives a rough idea how things work. As we mentioned in the introduction to this article, SEO is always changing. There are certain things you can do that have stayed consistent, and some tips are more recent. Here's a quick run down of some things to keep in mind.

  • Don't over-optimize for your target keywords.
  • It's always better to look natural that to over-do it with unnatural links.
  • Having a blog on your website is a great way to naturally integrate new keywords into your inbound marketing strategy on a regular basis.
  • Have patience. If you don't see results right away, don't worry - it can take weeks or even months.
  • Don't fall for hype. If someone is trying to sell you SEO services, and they're offering the moon - be weary.
  • There are no guarantees in the SEO game, but patience and hard work often pay off over time.
  • Avoid using spam and automated links to improve your rank. It may work in the short term, but these types of strategies often fall apart after a couple of weeks leaving you with nothing.

SEO Moving Forward

SEO is always changing, but one trend that's remained the same is that search engines are always trying to weed out the fakes, and to give more credit to legitimate and natural efforts. As tempting as it may be to step across the line towards search engine manipulation, it's only a matter of time until the tides change and you're left high and dry with no rankings, or even worse - completely deindexed from the search engines all together.

If you're performing SEO for your business, or any long term project, take a lesson from the tortoise. Slow and steady wins the race.

The proliferation of social media networking sites has linked in a number of people in ways they never could have imagined. Naturally, marketers from many corners of the business world have seized on this trend and geared their ads towards this segment of the population. No matter what kind of website you operate, odds are good that you too could be capitalizing off of social media inbound marketing. Read through this guide to get a sense of how you may be able to co-opt many proven strategies for utilizing social media like this. You may find that you can rapidly increase the number of visitors that you receive on a regular basis.

One proven social media tactic is to simply create fan pages for your sites. This is a modern twist on building up the brand name for your website. When you first create a website, it can take some time to generate fan interest in what you post. If you rely solely on word of mouth to spread the news about your website, it may take even longer. These days, you can simply create a Facebook page or Twitter account for the content that you generate in your blog. This will give your plans a place to congregate and post messages about how they love your content. They may even link back to their friends, who may themselves become fans of your page.

If you have your own Facebook account, you may even opt to regularly share your content via your own page. Whenever you create a new page for your website, you can create a post on Facebook announcing it to your friends and family. Odds are good that they will want to check out what you have made. If they like what they see, they will probably come back and respond with messages to your post. They may also link your site to their own set of friends, which will create a chain reaction of social networking. All of this will generate unique visitors who are headed to see your site.

You will also want to incorporate a little bit of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) content in each page of your website. This is a time tested strategy of working with the formula used by search engine rankings to boost the profile of your web page. You may want to know why you should bother with this if you are using social media inbound marketing. The reason is that many people may latch on to a few buzzwords related to your site. When they heard about your page, they may only reference an abbreviated version of your title or content. They and their friends will use these shortened keywords to perform a search and see what comes up. You will want to conduct regular SEO updates of the content that you create. This way, you will be more likely to stay on top of the page rankings when these keywords are entered.

Another proven technique is to use social media to collaborate with other website owners out there. Many people may be looking for someone to write a guest blog for them or share their content. You can often create these deals by using social media to foster a business relationship. This happens quite often among many different kinds of web owners. If you work with someone you like, you may even want to continually post guest blogs. This will have the added benefit of linking all of these sites in to new and untapped networks within social media sites.

Finally, be sure that you are continually creating top quality content on your page. You can use all of these inbound marketing techniques via social media to boost your profile. But this won't do any good if you can't produce content that will draw in a committed following of fans. Keep an eye out on what type of content generates the most amount of buzz on social media networking sites. This can let you know what kind of content you will want to create in the future to generate the most amount of inbound traffic.

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