In the first episode of our podcast, we have our co-founder, Chris Mechanic, on as a guest. He explains how to set up your web analytics, traffic acquisition, and conversion optimization in an organized way for the new year, and why it’s important to do so.
Many businesses have a minimum, inaccurate set-up, and their “house” isn’t clean. By organizing your “house” for the new year, you’ll benefit in various ways.
So the whole idea of this is just to go in, to familiarize yourself with everything that’s happening, to identify gaps so that you can just have this really nice, crystal clear vision that you can pursue in 2019 as you’re starting nice and clean.
Welcome back to another episode of More Than Marketing. I’m Arsham Mirshah, host. This is Chris Mechanic. We’re the co-founders of WebMechanix, and today, Chris, actually, this is a impromptu episode. No script. Chris said, “Hey, New Year’s coming up. “We have this onboarding process for new clients, “here at WebMechanix.” That onboarding process will be really valuable for any company who does digital marketing, digital marketing is in their mix of marketing, right?
So you said, “Hey, that’d probably be valuable “to the world, so let’s talk about it.”
Here we are.
Who is this for, though? I want to make sure we get that right, ’cause who is this for in your mind?
I think that this is for any hands-on digital marketers. If you’re a marketer that’s just hands-on in platform for most of the day, marketing managers, and really, marketing executives. The whole idea, so when we get a new client, we do a series of activities, essentially, to get the house in order, and our onboarding process is something that has just evolved over the years into what it is, but I’ve been getting a lot of compliments on it recently. I’ll describe for people what we’re doing. They’re like, wow, you do all that in the first month? And I’m like, yeah, and so.
And so, when we were talking, so just to frame this up, so we were talking about, hey, the new year’s coming up, New Year’s coming up, we do all these activities for the business at large. Get our contracts in order, look at our, whatever, tax scenario, so we like to say, we like to start clean in 2019. Not only what-
That’s good.[Arsham] And it only works, obviously, with the teen years so one year for another 20s. 2020 is not gonna work, so we want to start clean in 2019 and you said, “Yeah, our onboarding process “would be really helpful.”
Yeah, yeah, absolutely, and so the way that I think of it, to make a metaphor, is so I’ve got a baby on the way. I know you do, too.
So I’ve been spending a lot of time putting stuff together at the house, and when I’m-
When I start to put something together, if the room’s a mess, I’ll first take the time to clean up the room and to create some space. I’ll go and basically get a toolbox, and I’ll get everything ready, so that it’s easily accessible and it makes the job a lot easier.
Oh, down the road, down the line, so you’re setting yourself up for success. Otherwise, you’ll be tripping over yourself, trying to put together crap or whatever.
Getting the house in order.
Getting the house in order, okay, I like that.
So as we move into 2019, everybody’s thinking about their strategies and their plans and their personnel and their budgeting and all these things, which is great, you should be doing those things.
And resolutions and goals and-
But it feels so good to do that with a nice, clean house, you know what I mean?
Oh, yeah, cleaning, cleaning the plate. Someone just, yeah.
Yeah, and so-
Spring cleaning, whatever.
So in the context of digital, there’s a few pillars that I kind of think of in my mind. A major one is analytics. Your analytics data, so as you’re planning and strategizing, how confident are you in the data that you’re looking at and how conf-
And in the data you’re-
Are the gaps.[Arsham] Or in the data that you’re collecting. Are you collecting all the data you need to be collecting? Are you confident that it’s even working? And then also, well, we can go deep into this, but another, what’s another pillar? So analytics is pillar number one.
Analytics is a big pillar and then, that splits out into quantitative, which largely lives in analytics versus qualitative, which is a lot of voice of customer, more of the qualitative side.
Yeah, heat maps, yeah, user testing would fall under qualitative. So can I throw another bucket out there then?
So I would say that keywords, both from an SEO and a paid media or paid search, in this case, standpoint.
Yeah, so I would call that organic.
Okay, you want to go with organic?
Yeah, I would go.
And then, yes, so I would go with organic there.
So analytics, then we got organic.
And organic is basically-
Let’s talk about organic a little better.
Your content inventory, your keyword research, a nice rank check, maybe a backlink analysis.
Back, I was gonna say competitor, so.
Yeah, the competitive research, a little different, and you may have done these things already, but in our world-
But when is the last time?
Yeah, those are living and breathing documents. Things change over time.
They sure do.
But if you’ve not done those things and it’s a perfect time to do them, because as you do these things, suppose, just take keyword research, as you’re doing keyword research, if you’ve never done it, you’re gonna find a whole bunch of new keywords.
And that’s like business intelligence.
When, I remember, so a long time ago, do you remember this? Long time ago, someone was like, your keyword research is so interesting. We were like, really, it’s kind of just, it’s boring to us but you know, and we’re like, why? They said, “This is business intelligence.” This shows me what people are looking for in my industry and I was like, wow, that was nine years ago that and that stuck with me, it’s true.
It’s absolutely true.
Showed you trends and-
It’s market research at the end of the day, and keyword research is very near and dear to my heart. I absolutely love it. I don’t think it’s boring at all. I think it’s kind of fun.
I think it’s boring. Programmer thinks it’s boring.
But you can see exactly what people are searching for with the search volume, so you can, you might pay a big consulting firm to say, “Hey, what’s the market demand for roof repair services in Minnesota?” They’ll charge you 10, 50, a hundred thousand bucks just-
Right, to tell you that.
Do this thing.
Or you can go to Google-
Or I can tell you in 30 seconds.
Right, or I can go to Google or a myriad of other tools that we use and get that answer, and also see how it’s trending, too, oh by the way.
Right, okay, I take it back. It’s not boring. It’s actually really, really cool when done right, and when applied correctly.
But so here’s categories for the audience, just so they don’t get confused.
So you’ve got analytics. Now I take back what I said earlier about organic because that’s too narrow. Let’s just call it traffic.
So we’ve got analytics, then we’ve got traffic, and then the third bucket is gonna be-
Yeah, you know how I feel about your buckets and what-have-you. I’ll break my own buckets out later. But, well that’s fine, but hold on, I like this, I like staying to what I would deem are our service lines, so I like analytics, I really like, makes sense. Gotta get your data clean, gotta get it in order, make sure you’re getting all the data that you need, and that it’s, and also in that closed-loop data is the marketing data going to your CRM. This will be a good time to get that in order, so you have a full year in 2019 of integrated data, okay? So that’s analytics. Then, we talked about organic or search engine optimization, where we talked about keywords, rank checking, backlink analysis. Can we move on to paid media?
We can, yeah, we absolutely can.
You got more to say in the other ones, don’t you?
Yeah, I mean this is just the overview part. We’re gonna dive into them, right?
If you want. It depends how much time we have.
But then, so I would say analytics, quantitative, qualitative under that. Traffic. Earned, organic, paid, referral or social, which I guess you could call earned, and then there’s also owned. Owned is email.
Email, okay, yes, so-
So, and that’s why I kind of like to bucket it at a high level ’cause they have-
Yeah, ’cause they branch out, branch out, right. Okay, that’s fair.
And then on the conversion side of the house, it’s taking a look at your content, your offers, any other conversion mechanisms that you have. That’s where your email workflows live. That’s where it gets into CRM if you wanna-
That’s where your info assets live.
Your downloadables and what-have-you. That’s where, yeah, your nurturing lives. That’s where your salespeople can come in and help with some content and some engagement touch points in there, yeah. Yeah, so, analytics, traffic, conversion.
Three high level buckets for you to start clean in 2019, to kinda think about your marketing activities, or in this case, digital marketing activities. Put them in those buckets, where are they today? What’s the status of them today, and where, what should the status of them be in 2019?
Status, status, tomato, tomato.
Yeah, and you can just imagine, most of you watching this right now are probably thinking like, “We have Google Analytics on the site.” “I’m not quite sure what you’re talking about with regard” “to qualitative analytics and traffic-wise,” “yeah, we have somebody that does”-
“Some stuff and”-
“Some search and some content marketing and things.”
“We’re paying for some keywords and Facebook ads.”
So you have an idea, if you’re like most people that I talk to, you have an idea, you know that you’re doing stuff in these different categories, but it’s a bit fuzzy in your mind, so the whole idea of this is just to go in, to familiarize yourself with everything that’s happening, to identify gaps, so that you can just have this really nice, crystal clear vision of what’s happening today, and then also where some high-potential opportunities are that you can pursue in 2019 as you’re starting nice and clean.
Start nice and clean. Clean, clear, clear your workbench. I do like it, obviously. I’ve been saying start clean since, I think, 2017, and still-
Never goes out of style.
It never goes out of style, til 2020, yeah, unfortunately. I remember also, we were, I was like, all right, guys, I want to clean the office. That was my start clean, that’s where it came from, and it didn’t happen, and that’s okay. I think what would be valuable is to list off some more examples. I mean we started doing this, and maybe we just go through and list off some more examples in maybe the top one thing to do, thing to check in each of our buckets, and we can go a little bit deeper than just analytics, traffic, and conversion, so I’ll start it out. Analytics, Google Analytics, are your forms, are all of your forms being tracked in analytics, in Google Analytics or whatever analytics platform you use, and are they done so in an organized fashion? Why does that matter? So that you can segment later on. Okay, so, I took that one. If you want to go for qualitative analytics, you’re welcome to.
Sure, yes, so on analytics, most times, when I talk to people, they’re like, “Oh yeah, yeah, we’ve got Google Analytics, we’re using it.”
All set up.
A lot of times, they’ll say, “Oh, well, we’re using, also, HubSpot,” “and that’s where we’re tracking our forms,” or “We’re using Marketa, so yeah, we’ve got that.” What I always tell people when they say that is that, that’s great that you’re tracking it in marketing automation, but it’s really important also that you’re tracking and marketing automation mirrors what’s going on in Google Analytics.
Here’s why. We’re on the same wavelength.
Well, if you didn’t say it, I was gonna say it, so.
Well, there’s a few different reasons. One is that, generally, reporting in those systems is one of their weakest areas. Google Analytics is free currently and it’s extremely robust. It allows you to splice and dice data by all types of different metrics and different dimensions. You can even create custom reports, you can even pull the data down and-
And you can integrate it to other places and report very cleanly with Data Studio.
And you can even upload other data.
And you can upload other data like-
You can upload cost data-
Cost data from your other platforms,
It’s this really robust service and God bless Google for putting it out for free. I’m sure that they’re probably winning on that in the long term.
Don’t tell them it’s free, they’re listening.
Only 99% listen of the Internet-
All right, what’s the other reason to get that data, ’cause I know it, but I want you to say it.
Really, it’s for advanced custom segments that, and now the ability to create remarketing audiences based around your custom segments, so for instance-
It’s huge, yeah, it’s massive. So remarketing is another thing that’s near and dear to my heart. That goes into the traffic category, but when the idea of remarketing is you visit a certain page, let’s say that you’re looking for a watch on Amazon, but you don’t purchase that watch right then and there, and then you go to a different website and you start seeing ads for that very same watch. So that’s called remarketing. It’s been around for years. You probably know about it, you’re probably doing it to some extent, but if you’re not tracking those conversions appropriately within analytics, there’s no way to prevent converters from seeing your ads on an ongoing basis, and so-
So now I bought the watch, but I’m still seeing your ad for the same watch, or a different watch or whatever, and it’s like, dude, I just bought, I bought your watch. Why are you
So that’s sloppy re-target.
It’s sloppy and you’re wasting money. I mean if you’re doing a CPM basis, you’re wasting money.
Now what’s slick, which you’re able to do if you have it, is, hey, you just bought a watch.
Now you need an accessory.
Maybe now you want a pair of cuff links.
Yes, sir. Now you need to cross-sell.
Whatever it is.
Yeah, and so that’s why you need to get that data. Hey, yeah, we’re doing it in HubSpot or Marketo and that’s where we check the forms on, but that’s why we want that data in, particularly, in this case, Google Analytics because with Google, you can create those segments and upload those segments right over to Google Ads, and do some dynamic retargeting.
Yeah, and also some deeper analysis with that same custom segment feature. If you want to see, okay, my most valuable web form, how many people filled that out in Minnesota last month?
Yeah, I think that’s fair. I think what we’re talking about, I think you and I, were like, yeah, we got to get all the data and we gotta make sure the events are firing and all that, and we don’t, we never say why. Obviously, the reason why, not obviously, I think, obviously, the reason why is for that deep data analysis, is to be able to, is to dig in and slice and dice and say, wow, we see that Vietnam is buying our watches at a crazy rate. Let’s give them an offer or let’s personalize, when someone from Vietnam comes, let’s personalize their homepage and, right, so it’s for that data analysis. We don’t come out and say that, but here we are saying that.
Right, all right, so start clean, 2019. I want to move on to traffic.
Yeah, so make sure your forms are being tracked. Now, one quick thing I do want to talk on, qualitative.
Yeah, qualitative. We skipped qualitative.
Yeah, so qualitative analytics are things such as heat maps, user session recordings, and importantly, voice of customer data via polls or surveys-
Or recorded phone calls, or tracking-
Recorded phone calls, oh yeah, we didn’t even talk about call tracking.
There’s too much going on. There’s too much to do.
But at the end of the day-
No, I know.
Most marketers were saying, “Hey, here’s a cool strategy, here’s a cool idea.”
Or tactic, yeah.
But it’s difficult to validate that directly one-to-one with actual users or with actual customers, and so there’s now on the market, very inexpensive, very lightweight, very easy tools which enable you to throw up random surveys that says if you’re sitting in, it’s literally as if you’re sitting in the room, wouldn’t you love to-
To ask your prospect, yeah.
“Hey, do you like this page? Does this page make you really want to buy this watch?”
“What else you need to know before you buy this watch?”
Are there any questions? Yeah, “Do you have any questions that you can’t find the answers to?”
Right, exactly, yeah. “What’s frustrating you right now?”
Or even something as simple as, “Hey, what’s the purpose of your visit today? Why did you come to this site?” And granted, most people are going to X it out, most people are gonna ignore it, but it doesn’t take-
But you’d be surprised. You’d be surprised as to, most people do, and I’m sure many of the listeners and watchers, I ignore those, I never get feedback, but you’d be surprised, and it’s the angry people who give you that feedback, and they typically have the best stuff to say.
So qualitative analytics, heat maps, polling, call recording, anything user voice that you can get, direct access to their, to their brain.
The chat transcripts, gee, there’s so many.
If you’re running live chat, those chat transcripts are worth their weight in gold, man, it’s invaluable.
And maybe that’s something you start clean in 2019 with, right?
It’s live chat. It’s free from HubSpot now. Give them a quick, little plug there, ’cause it’s kind of nice that they’re doing that.
Everybody likes a-
Sort of strategy to get people.
Likes new tools so I’ll drop one real quick. If you’ve not used Hotjar, Hotjar is my go-to for the qualitative side of things. We’ve used other tools in the past, like Crazy Egg or Click Density, which do similar things but they’re more expensive. Hotjar is, in my view, like a best of breed product and they, it’s reasonably priced. They could double their prices and I would still think it’s a good price.
Well, don’t say it. What are you doing, man? You’re just giving it all away. All the prices are going up.
Scratch that from the record.
Yeah, we’re gonna cut that out. Also Lucky Orange. Let’s give them a plug.
Lucky Orange is good, too.
Lucky Orange is good, too.[Chris] Lucky Orange is real nice.
They definitely helped us up early on and we got a lot of good stuff from them, too, so Lucky Orange, Hotjar, check those out.
Can we move on?
Cool, it’s all good. I knew you’re, see, I get it, man. You’re excited.
I like this stuff.
I like this stuff.
Okay, it shows, it’s cool. I like it, too.
And just that feeling. After we implement an analytics hookup, and people are like, wow, this is, it’s a good feeling, it’s like having a nice, clean room.
Chris, in the intro to this podcast, the episode zero, I said like, how will I know that this is successful? Some may say like, okay, the KPI is oh, we get more clients because they’re like, “Oh, we found you in a podcast, we like what you have to say and now we want to be your client.” Okay, sure, let’s keep, yeah, but really, you know what, honestly, will move the needle for me the most is someone saying, that was awesome, thank you so much, I learned this, I implemented that, it changed my life. That MOVES me, you know what I mean? You know me, man. I’m for the people and I think that I got, get you on here, you’re gonna take up the entire, you’re gonna go four hours if we had that much.
Talking about event tracking.
Our SD card is not gonna work. It’s gonna be burnt out by the time I’m done with you. We got to move on.
We can do other episodes, I promise.
So top tool, where are we? So we’re in analytics, qualitative, not top tools, top, yeah, so we’re in traffic now. Let’s do earned and paid, at least, and we can do owned also.
Yeah, so just to give you a sense of my view of the world, every marketer, every web site in the world either has a traffic problem or a conversion problem.
I know you have a different framework which is equally cool, but in my world, it’s basically traffic or conversion, so either you’re getting a lot of traffic and nobody is buying or nobody’s raising their hand, or you’re really not getting much traffic and maybe the, if you’re not really getting much traffic, it makes no sense to focus-
To focus there, exactly I was gonna say, yeah. Or you have problems in both, right?
Couldn’t that be the case? ‘Cause there’s no way to know if there’s no traffic, so.
Yeah, so then being, so I got my start largely in search, but I’m very much like “the world is a traffic store” kind of a thinker. I just look out at the world and I’m constantly looking for new ad platforms or looking to otherwise purchase traffic or just grow traffic organically.
Yeah, niche ad platforms or direct buys.
Sure, yeah, all of the above. Sponsoring emails-
I was just about, dang, you read my mind. I was gonna say sponsored email.
We got a wave going.
Yeah, man, sponsored email, that’s literally the next
So traffic starts with hey, answering the questions, what are my most useful traffic sources currently, and not just in terms of page views or visitors, but also now that we’ve got the analytics in place, and now we can see conversion.
Yeah, and then that’s where the, that’s where the marketing automation level tracking comes in ’cause then you can look at the individual conversion-
Through CRM and such, right, exactly, yeah.
But traffic is all about what’s most useful today, and then what are the top opportunities, and the pros and cons or costs and benefits associated with each that we ought to then focus on?
Sure, okay, so I’m starting clean in 2019, Chris. I have traffic, well, earned traffic, SEO, content inventory, or refresh my keyword research, or what should I do?
Yep, I would do both, but primarily, the keyword research. So I would, and-
For what we were talking about earlier, it’s market research. Anytime you can get to the voice of the customer and you don’t have to really guess, ’cause there’s the whole blind blogging issue. Everybody knows that they ought to be blogging and creating content, but they’re going about it in a pretty non-scientific way, so I really like keyword research because it adds a bit of science, and if you’re already spending time blogging and creating content, it’s not that much extra work to add a scientific component to it and it will-
Give it that much more legs.
Yeah, and it’ll virtually guarantee, not every post is gonna be a winner, but if you add some degree of science to the process and they’re virtually guaranteed success over time.
So I would start with refreshing or even setting up a keyword universe document, where you identify, say, your top 50 or your top 100 dream come true keywords.
Yeah, that you want to rank organically, number one, on Google for.
Yes, exactly, and I’d pull the search volume down for each one of those keywords and then I would pull a competitive metric, whether that’s a keyword difficulty score that’s generated by some tool.
Yeah, like SEMRush or Moz or to give some more tool names while we’re out on that but I don’t want to go too deep into the how-to’s, right? So we can do a whole episode on keyword research, I’m pretty sure. So keyword research, earned, got it. That’s going to help us with our publishing schedule, it’s gonna help us look at our content inventory and say, “Hey, where do we have gaps against what people are actually looking for?” All right, let’s go to paid media, so paid media, so I’m running some, I’m on different networks, okay. I’m sponsoring emails, or I’m not, doing some page search, I’m doing some display, or I’m not. Pick one, Google Ads.
Yeah, Google Ads, that’s-
Okay, Google Ads, let’s just do one. Just Google Ads, what’s your top recommendation, starting clean in 2019?
So assuming that you have connected Analytics with Google Ads so that it’s talking, we’re gonna assume that that part’s already done. I would do an account audit looking primarily, so the 80/20 rule applies. So 20% of your keywords are typically driving 80% of your traffic, so do an account audit to try to identify the 80% or so of keywords that are less productive, and most specifically, you’ll typically find that anywhere from 10 or 20, maybe even upwards of 30 or 40% of spend is going toward keywords that have never produced a conversion. So I would basically run this report, and we have a template for this that I’ll be happy to share, just in the name of impact and-
Yeah, helping people out, sure, yeah. You gotta ask for it, though, ’cause.
You can essentially download your entire, all of your campaign data and it spits it all out into the spreadsheet. You can upload it into this spreadsheet template that we’ve developed, and it literally will give you a list of a bunch of things but one of them is keywords that have spent and have never converted.
Never converted, exactly.
So I would, any keyword that has had more than 50 clicks over any period of time with no conversions, I would just pause immediately.
Yeah, yep. At least look deeply into and say, “Why is this happening?” Is it, are they too high funnel or are they landing on the page that is not congruent to that keyword, if they’re looking for pricing and they’re landing on a page that has no pricing or something like that, so yeah, 50 clicks, on a keyword with no conversion, just cut it.
Yeah, I got you.
And that’ll save you, typically, 20, 10, 20, 30% or more, so if you’re spending 10 grand a month, and it’s 20%, that’s 2,000, or yeah, 2,000 bucks a month, for all of eternity.
So that’s 25 grand a year.
Let me do this, man. We can go on –
No, we’re getting there, we’re-
I know, I know, but I also know, I also know, looking at the clock, that we’re getting to a point where I don’t know, yeah, if people are listening at this point or not, so let’s do this. So we can go deeper into, let’s go deeper in other episodes. Let’s do that. Let’s leave conversion out. Let’s just leave conversion out, but let’s wrap this up here and then, let’s promise to go deeper, especially if the viewership or listenership wants us to go deeper. If they don’t, then I got, I can go home to the wife, and so could you, you know what I mean? But so let’s wrap this up, so starting clean in 2019. The metaphor that Chris used, I really like. When you go to set something new up, you’re gonna set up your goals, you got all these resolutions, and you’re all pumped up about the new year and all that. Well, don’t go into the new year with a cluttered room. Clean your room first, donate some stuff, sell some stuff, just trash some stuff. So we want to clean up our digital marketing landscape or our tool set, our documents, we wanna get our bookmarks in order and such. And it’s akin to us taking on a new client. What do we do? We clean up the analytics.
Get the data type.
Get the data type. Get the tools installed.
Get the tool, yup, get the tech stack set up.
Get them configured.
Benchmark, what’s working, what’s not.
Yep, keyword research, content inventory, rank check.
I think, and then going over to paid, an audit of all of our channels, especially Google Ads. Cut the fat. I think, there, we can also do a competitive analysis, too, using like a SpyFu or an SEMRush to see what are our competitors doing? Are they ramping up spend? Are they diminishing spend? Are they, what are they doing? So starting clean in 2019. Act like you’re brand new to the company, and get a lay of the land, and start cutting the stuff that’s not working and organizing yourself to start clean in 2019. How many times did we say start clean in 2019?
At least 10.
Sounds good. Until next time, thank you for listening. Cheers.