Monday, August 29, 2016

Leaking Leads? Here’s How to Plug Your Analytics Gaps

Full funnel attribution is the dream.

A pipe dream.

In most cases.

Because a majority of the time, you’re nowhere close.

Campaigns are tagged. Sometimes.

You track incoming calls. Like 5% of the time.

You’ve got lead reports. Which go up-and-to-the-right at least.

It ain’t your fault. Our tools are limited. Cross-department assistance tricky. And marketing channels are exploding.

So here’s a simple process to help you take back control, hopefully eliminating all of those little gaps where leads commonly leak out of your funnel and mess up your reporting efforts.

The Great Analytics Gap: Where Exactly are Your Paying Customers Coming From?

How many leads did you get this month from Twitter?

How about email?

Most likely, those numbers are wrong.

Not because you made a mistake. But because your analytics platform did.

See, most basic analytics programs like Google Analytics are good. But not smart. (They’re also free, so we can’t complain too much.)

For example, your Email and Social leads this month are probably understated (only getting credit for a fraction of their overall performance), while your Direct ones are overstated (getting more credit than they really deserve).

Sometimes the swing can be 60%!

If campaigns aren’t tagged properly (and let’s be honest, who tags Tweets with any regularity), analytics programs will have a tough time picking up the referral source. Especially if these visits originate from desktop programs like Tweetdeck (does that still exist?) or Outlook (which you’re probably forced against your will to use).

These are tiny examples, but the problem persists.

Even when you’re tracking conversions, with monthly reports going to bosses and clients highlighting Goals with the sources that drove them, you might only be seeing a tiny slice of the overall pie.

Just recently, I’ve seen multiple clients spending tens of thousands of dollars on ads each month, going off of surface level information.

The phone rings, which is great. But why those calls are coming in is anyone’s guess. And nobody has a clue how many paying customers or revenue is tied back to the initial spending efforts.

Think about that. Organizations spending a majority of their marketing budgets on a single channel with tracking… kinda, sorta, setup. But not really.

Couple this with the fact that most smaller organizations use ‘niche, industry’ tools like legacy proprietary CRM’s that offer ZERO API’s and absolutely no integration possibilities.

So they’re forced to cobble this stuff together, manually.

If this stuff was being tracked properly, you’d almost instantly be able to:

  1. Save money on the losing campaigns that aren’t performing.
  2. Increase revenue by spending more on those that are.

And then you get a promotion. Or a raise, at least.

Fortunately there are a few techniques you can use to help shed more transparency and accuracy into your analytics. They’re not all encompassing, but they’re relatively easy adjustments to set up to help you practically solve this problem once and for all.

Click Tracking: The Basics of Campaign (or UTM) Tagging

I already know what you’re thinking.

UTM codes blah blah blah. Use any number of builders like the Google URL Builder to drop your URL in and idiot-proof your results.

Obvious.

But here’s the thing.

Many times UTM codes aren’t used properly. Or aren’t used holistically as a way to measure channel performance for conversions.

So let’s look at it more practically, organizing campaigns properly to make sure we’re tracking almost every single possible use case that might not get picked up by our analytics programs.

The easiest way to accomplish this campaign-wide approach is through inbound traffic segmentation. Which is shorthand* for, “Create a ton of landing page versions & funnels for each traffic source so you’re able to clearly see how and where click-conversions are coming from, thereby making analytics and reporting simple”. (*Not really.)

And while there are no shortage of tools to do this stuff for you, we still like to manage client campaigns in a simple, collaborative Google doc so everyone can quickly edit and update.

marketing-campaigns-spreadsheet

You can also do the same thing for social channels too, breaking it down even further into the primary ones you choose to plan your campaign’s content and messaging strategy ahead of time.

social-campaigns-spreadsheet

All of this time-consuming, upfront work will eventually pay dividends by making funnel analysis a breeze.

(Brilliant segue coming…) You know what also makes funnel analysis a breeze?

Kissmetrics does this with a visualized funnel reporting tool that can help you analyze all of this raw data and make faster (not to mention, more accurate) marketing decisions.

ecommerce-email-funnel-segmented-campaign-name

Call Tracking: Gain Insight into Inbound Lead Sessions

Any lead-based company will tell you that good, old fashioned inbound phone calls are still the best.

Invoca analyzed more than 30 million phone calls and found that they have 30-50% conversion rates (compared to only 1-2% for clicks).

That same study found that 70% of calls are coming from digital channels. And yet, we don’t know where.

Or why. As in, what did you do to drive those people to call in the first place? (So you can easily do more of it and take home a nice bonus this year.)

Setting up unique phone numbers on each advertisement or sales collateral is an obvious first step. Duh – your AdWords campaigns are undoubtedly already using phone call tracking.

But…

What happens when those people click to your website instead of calling right away?

Especially if we’re talking any type of consultative sale, they’re going to click around your site for a bit. Maybe even leave, and come back, several times before pulling the proverbial trigger on someone to work with.

The first step towards limiting the amount of information you don’t know is to setup dynamic call tracking that focuses on individual customers.

This way, your accounting for the multi-device, multi-event, and multi-channel journey (that already happens over half the time).

CallRail is one of my new favorites to do this. You’re able to create a pool of phone numbers based on the average amount of real-time website visitors you get.

callrail-dynamic-number-insertion

These dynamic phone numbers will substitute the primary one already on your website pages, and automatically stick with one website visitor while they browse around all of your pages.

Not only can you then see a complete web session history, but also start tracking multiple sessions over time from the same customers.

callrail-customer-profile

That extra insight gets you one tiny step closer to being able to close out the big black hole that is your offline phone conversions.

There’s also a CallRail and Kissmetrics integration to help you better understand how offline phone calls fit into the customer’s website and app activity, email engagement and more. You’ll also be able to analyze how phone calls play a broader role in lifetime value of a customer (comparing with those who don’t call) and see which specific activities they complete immediately before or just after each call.

But before we can run off to implement, there’s still one last thing to figure out.

How to match all of this stuff up with your lead and customer data to see where buyers (not leads) are coming from.

Lead Tracking: Determining Which Leads Are Converting

It’s time to bring it home.

You’ve got basic campaign tagging properly organized, to limit the number of sessions that slip through your analytics cracks. And you’ve set-up dynamic call tracking to monitor people who may visit your site or call your offices multiple times prior to purchase.

Now we need to line that data up with your lead database.

My completely biased opinion is that HubSpot is one of the best solutions for this problem. Which is no surprise, given my company is a HubSpot partner who receives a nice bonus check every time we sign you up.🙂

But what if you didn’t appreciate the blatant, selfish sales pitch? Or have the extra budget available? Or you just use some other CRM?

Another (albeit, more manual) solution is to use the excellent (and free) LeadIn to begin turning form submissions into actual people.

Once setup, you can integrate this with a few basic email marketing services to go freaking nuts on hacking your marketing stack.

leadin-hubspot-on-wordpress

You can also begin exporting this data (I know, who the F-exports manual data anymore) and matching it up with whatever lead-based CRM you use – no matter whether they provide integrations or not.

Ideally, you need to know that John Smith just signed up with your company for $X. And John Smith came from a phone call, through AdWords, targeting the term Y.

In aggregate, a tool like Kissmetrics (surprise!) can then connect all of these dots, finally aligning paying customers (and revenue) back to the marketing channels (and decisions) which generated each.

revenue-report-segmented-data

Conclusion

Most of us are making decisions based on incomplete information.

That’s life.

The analytics gap problem is only made worse when companies commonly have their own legacy tools that don’t play nice with whatever marketing ones you’re using.

But when clients and bosses are putting LOTS of money on the line, it’s up to us to make bold decisions on how or where to best spend it.

That becomes exponentially easier once you set up proper click tracking for the common online channels people are using once they see, hear or read about your latest campaign. And buttoning-up offline conversions like phone calls can help you finally see how many of those leads you’re collecting are transforming into paying customers.

The tips here might not be a perfect solution.

But they can get you significantly closer than where you probably are now.

About the Author: Brad Smith is a founding partner at Codeless Interactive, a digital agency specializing in creating personalized customer experiences. Brad’s blog also features more marketing thoughts, opinions and the occasional insight.

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Essential design trends, August 2016

Color and layers. This pair of design elements has been the driving force behind many of the year’s trends. While we haven’t seen anything take over, like flat design a few years ago or more recently Material Design, elements of both styles are pushing designers to explore new things.

Both color choices and layering seem to have roots in those bigger trends and are being used in design schemes even without totally flat or material aesthetics. Here’s what’s trending in design this month:

1. Lots of layered elements

Layered elements and three-dimensional effects are the must-have technique in the 2D web space. Thanks to the fun techniques, and even better how-tos, introduced primarily by Material Design, layered elements are popping up in projects of all types.

What’s particularly nice is it gives a website a more realistic feel. The user can almost reach out and grab the elements on the screen. (And that’s a good thing!) The trick is that every layer should look real and light, and layers look natural.

Here are a couple of ways to start experimenting with layers in your design projects:

  • “Lift” elements off the background with a simple shadow or animation. Olle does this with multiple elements on different planes, but they all pull together and look natural.
  • Allow elements to intersect. Text can crossover into the space occupied by an image.
  • Parallax scrolling features are an interesting way to create layered elements (a foreground moving over a background) without being too overwhelming.
  • Use geometric shapes, animation and color variation to mimic depth in the design. Users should feel like they can almost fall into the visuals, such as the experience established by Delete Agency.
  • Create layers by going outside of the canvas, with elements that go beyond the background or edge of the screen.
  • Allow elements to rest on top of a textured background to create separation between the top layer (which users can imagine actually touching) and background layer.

2. Dark color schemes

For a while it seemed like every website was a minimalist ideal, including a stark white background. That trend has shifted as more dark color schemes are emerging as the design favorite.

And for good reason. A nice dark color scheme can be attention-grabbing and isn’t as harsh on the eyes of some users as bright white. On the flip side, dark aesthetics can be a little more troublesome if text is small or on smaller screens (so make sure to pay particular care to how elements render on mobile devices).

Elements that really stand out on dark color schemes include the use of cool video and animation, even if it is hardly recognizable; bold white typography, pops of bright color to accent calls-to-action or important information and the appropriate overall mood.

Remember as well, that dark doesn’t always mean black. Dark color schemes can be rooted in a variety of hues from reds to blues to greens. While black options are the most common, it is important to choose a rich black that is made from various color combinations. A flat black (or “K black” as print designers call it) will leave something to be desired in website design.

When working with dark color schemes take special care to make sure there is proper contrast between elements and that colors and images don’t get lost inside the dark nature of the design. White can be a good option as well as other primary colors with a lot of brightness or saturation. Remember to think of size contrast as well. Consider bumping up the size of all text elements by 10 to 20 percent when working with a dark framework to ensure readability.

 

3. Gradients make a comeback

The gradient—one of the techniques shunned by flat design—is making a comeback. (And it’s even being used in mostly flat design patterns.)

Gradients work because they do something that many people thought flat design lacked, which is to help create and establish depth. What’s new about gradients this time around is that they are not used to mimic textures or without purpose. Today’s trend focuses on bright-colored gradients that emphasize the content. From full-screen gradient overlays to backgrounds, almost anything goes when it comes to the technique… as long as it is bold.

Designers are making the most of the gradient comeback in a few distinct ways:

  • Gradient-“flat color” pairs mix both design ideas for a bold look, such as the website for WPcrew.
  • Two-tone gradients are a fun color overlay to add interest to a photo that might be somewhat lacking or to add depth to a background.
  • While many of these gradients seem to be on a more grand scale, they are being used for smaller elements as well, such as buttons or to bring attention to specific content.

There are still a few gradient don’ts to consider as well. (Since you don’t want that design to looking like it jumped right out of 2012!)

  • Be wary of small gradients. Use in icons is still not recommended.
  • Don’t overwhelm the content. A gradient overlay on a photo can be nice (just think of some of the cool effects that Spotify features regularly), but the photo still needs to be discernable.
  • Bold color gradients tend to have a light, cheery feel. Make sure this meshes with your content.
  • Pay attention to color combinations and contrast when it comes to readability. Some gradients can get light and white text can present a problem. Make sure to test readability against color, different responsive breakpoint and on multiple size devices. (With gradients, readability issues can sometimes pop up in places you wouldn’t expect.)

Conclusion

There’s nothing more fun than color when it comes to design. Trends in color are nice because they are elements that you can add to almost any style of design without a full-scale overhaul. The same is true of layered elements. This is a technique that can be added to an existing design to give it a more modern feel.

What trends are you loving (or hating) right now? I’d love to see some of the websites that you are fascinated with. Drop me a link on Twitter; I’d love to hear from you.

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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Popular design news of the week: August 22, 2016 – August 28, 2016

Every week users submit a lot of interesting stuff on our sister site Webdesigner News, highlighting great content from around the web that can be of interest to web designers. 

The best way to keep track of all the great stories and news being posted is simply to check out the Webdesigner News site, however, in case you missed some here’s a quick and useful compilation of the most popular designer news that we curated from the past week.

Note that this is only a very small selection of the links that were posted, so don’t miss out and subscribe to our newsletter and follow the site daily for all the news.

20 Amazing CSS Text Effects

 

Designing a Website Ten Years Ago

 

How Spotify’s UX Changed Over a Decade

 

Better Web Images

 

Designers Should Learn Marketing

 

Site Design: Android.com

 

Why is Health Care Design so Terrible?

 

CodeDammit: Learn Coding by Looking at Real Examples

 

All your UX are Belong to us

 

Landing: Free UI Kit for Sketch and Photoshop

 

What I Learned Working with Jony Ive’s Team on the Apple Watch

 

Apply Pixels: Industry Standard Design Tools

 

The Internet of Poorly Working Things

 

Canvas for iOS: In Realtime, Using Markdown, Instantly Shareable

 

Site Design: Wtfshouldidowithmylife.com

 

Design.blog

 

LinkedIn ProFinder Expands Nationwide to Help You Hire Freelancers

 

Stranger Things Type Generator

 

Linux Took Over the Web. Now, It’s Taking Over the World

 

Clever App Brings the Food Label into the Modern Age

 

AI to Help You Write Emails People will Actually Read

 

TeamMood: Track the Well-being of your Team, Easily

 

Lydia 6.0: The Payment App, Redesigned

 

Why AI Consolidation will Create the Worst Monopoly in US history

 

Apple Zero-days Mark a New Era of Mobile hacking

 

Want more? No problem! Keep track of top design news from around the web with Webdesigner News.

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