What is a content upgrade and how can it impact your conversion rates?

What is a content upgrade and why does it help you increase your conversion rates more than a lead magnet? Kevin McGrath from Beacon will explain you this and how you can create it with Beacon tips and tricks.

But before delving into the topic, let me start introducing you, Kevin McGrath.

About Kevin McGrath

Content Upgrade

Kevin is from Belfast, Northern Ireland. He is the Co-Founder and CEO of Beacon, a plugin that can be used with WordPress to help you generate more leads.

He has a background in Design and initially ran a web design agency called Starfish for about 6 years. But he is now more focused on Marketing and Growth.

Through his webinar, he talks about:

Lead Generation

  • Every marketer looks for more leads to gain more clients. However, most people don’t buy on their first interaction.

Indeed, people like to do research before they make a purchase (web price comparisons, shipping rates..). If people spend a big budget, they will want to make sure they get it right. When you do your research, you want to find out things like: How does this company work like another business like mine? Can this company offer a solution to the problem that I’m facing?

  • As marketers, we want to help you with your research and also available and stay in touch with you through the course of that research.

We want leads and email addresses from people who are likely to buy from us in the future.

  • Better Leads.

Avoid having an email list of poor leads not interested in your products. This will be a waste of your time to target these people.

So, in order to get email addresses, marketers have been doing this for decades. If you give somebody something of value in exchange for their email address, they are more likely to give it to you. We can give something like an eBook in exchange for an email address.

Generally, when people offer eBooks, they do so on a dedicated landing page to offer the prospect a lead magnet. A lead magnet is essentially a downloadable piece of content like an eBook, or a whitepaper or something that is basically information-based that you are giving your prospects to help nurture to become your customer.

Now, there are two points in this strategy:

1. Landing Page

2. Lead Magnet.

content upgrade

The Problem with lead magnet strategy

The strategy is flawed. Basically, if you are putting a lead magnet up on a landing page, you are going to have to spend a lot of time preparing the content for that lead magnet.

  • Large lead magnet.

The lead magnet will have to be impressive and well package (100 pages long).

  • Another page to drive traffic to.

That’s a new page in your website. You are not having the benefit of, say, a blog post, that is already gaining lots of organic traffic. You are going to have to come up with a new traffic acquisition strategy, in order to drive customers to the page.

  • Visitors need to be ‘warmed up’.

Once your visitors get to the page, you are going to have to warm them up to get them to download an eBook and see its benefits. You are essentially starting from scratch.

  • Trying to appeal to everyone is another issue with this lead magnet strategy.

I’m sure, guys, to have familiar with various customers’ personas, various stages in the buying cycle. Say, you have 2 or 3 personas with their individual needs and problems that they want to resolve, each may be at a different stage of the buying cycle. Some may not know you at all and others may know you well and just need a gentle reminder note.

  • eBooks aren’t anymore the new kids on the block.

They have been around for a while and as marketers tend to overdo these strategies with this as soon as we see some success with that. People have become jaded with the overall eBook strategy and do not take the time reading a lengthy book.

But don’t worry, there is a solution to that.

the SOLUTION WITH content upgrade system strategy

content upgrade

A content upgrade is a targeted resource for individual blog posts.

So, instead of having a dedicated landing page for a big eBook type of resource, it’s just a bonus offered as part of a blog post. You will place this free bonus just after the introduction of the blog post in a centred embedded box for better results. If you click on the box, you will get a pop-up asking for your details. It will bring you to a checklist or short 1-3 pages long content.

  • So, a content upgrade is a short actionable download like a checklist or resource guide.
  • It will build on the subject of the blog post.

So, the blog post is the theory and the free bonus is the practical application of that theory. So, you are educating people with the blog post. They are already interested in and read it and you are helping them to implement the advice in the blog post with your download.

  • It’s just a simple strategy and that’s why it’s so effective. You basically capitalise on that existing blog traffic.
  • It is also very targeted as related to a blog post for a specific persona at a specific stage in the buying cycle.

After anyone downloaded that targeted content, you can segment them as, for example, ‘a copyrighter who is interested in SEO’ if that’s the blog topic.

  • When you have that extra information, you are more likely to sell and market to them more appropriately in the future.

So, they are more likely to purchase his premium products from him.

  • But most importantly, this content upgrade system strategy results in high conversion rates.

Your conversion rate is essentially the percentage of people that come to your blog post and give you their email address. For eg, if you have 100 people visiting your page and 10 people downloading your content, you have a conversion rate of 10 %, The higher conversion rate is, the more efficiently you are using your traffic. It means the fewer resources, i.e time and money, you will have to spend driving traffic to your blog posts. So optimising for conversion rates is important. You can generate between 5 and 16 times more leads for your business. It’s a life-long evergreen strategy.

So, why is it working? You are offering something is short.

  • It’s a short article. Most people are more likely to download something short as they have a short attention span.
  • It’s useful. It is directly related to the blog post to help implement tactical and practical advice. It helps reader getting closer to the goals they want to achieve.
  • Because this is part of a blog post, readers are already engaged. The next part is to convince them that you can help them further by doing the content upgrade. People are more likely to opt-in when they are already engaged.

People tend to ignore pop-ups when they scroll down the page. So, if you can include your call-to-action within the main flow of the blog post, you will see better results. I would say to use the in-line forms.

Actually, LeadPages did some research into the number of clicks required to opt-in. They said that the two-staged call-to-action is more effective/ than the single stage one and perform better in terms of conversions. So, if you show an email box with an input form straightaway, people will try to avoid it.

So, before we move on, I’d like to recap.

What is the difference between a content upgrade and a lead magnet?

Content Upgrade Lead Magnet
 

  • Embedded within a blog post
  • Builds on the content of a blog post
  • Is short
  • Is actionable
  • Uses existing traffic
  • Prospect is nurtured by the blog post (more qualified traffic)
  • Has high conversion rates
 

  • Has a dedicated landing page
  • Lies on a standalone content
  • Is long
  • Is educational
  • Has new traffic required
  • Prospect needs to be convinced by the landing page
  • Has lower conversion rates

 

Content upgrades should be part of your blogging routine and go along with it.

So, your blogging strategy probably looks like this:

Content Upgrade

What I’m proposing is that you add an extra step to that process:

Content Upgrade

I want to show you how you can create these content upgrades.

Beacon can help to speed up the content upgrade strategy for you. I want to show you time-saving tips to implement these content upgrades into your blog posts quickly.

Beacon Time-Saving Tips and Tricks

  • Set up brand colours. This is quickest overly most overlooked feature within Beacon.
  • Create a re-usable content library, so that you can drop in any pieces of content into any content upgrades you create in the future.
  • Create a re-usable template so that you can create your branding and keep re-using it, instead of having to work from scratch every time.

So, in Beacon’s normal interface, I create a workbook with one of our standard templates. The template contains a cover page, a short introduction, a worksheet with some questions to answer. This kind of school-like exercise helps people think about strategic things by working through the process on their own. The content upgrade finishes with a call-to-action.

  • If you choose that template, go through each page to see what you can customise for your business. First thing, you are going to have to change that logo. You will need to pick your brand colour on all pages to get the colour scheme in line with my brand. I would advise a more sullen kind of colour but there is no colour to avoid.

Obviously, that’s not ideal. So I want to show you this trick. It is buried a little bit under the document settings (4th icon down the left-hand side). Once you click on it, it will open this ‘default styles’ panel. You will notice that the colour template is set up for you. This means that if you set up your template colours, this will be updated throughout the document.

  • What you are going to find in content upgrades is that you may be re-using certain types of content in every single content upgrade that you make.

One example of that would be an ‘about the author’ page to give readers context about who prepared the content upgrade. Why should they trust you? The purpose is to nurture prospects into qualified leads.

Let’s create an ‘about the author page’. Underneath the first ‘pages’ tab, I’m going to click on the ‘Add New Page’ button. I’ll look for a text focused page template. I’ll filter that. I’m going to choose the two columns layout. I’ll include an image. It’s always good to add an image of the author. I’ll also add some information from social media in a headline box/card at the bottom.

Every time I make a content upgrade, I don’t want to go through all those steps each time. Instead, I’m going to go to ‘Pages’ tab, then click on the 3rd button down ‘Page settings’. Then I’ll click on the ‘Convert’ button under ‘Convert this page into a template’. I’ll save that template and refresh the page. So, next time you click on ‘Add New Page’, you will have your template saved if you scroll down the templates.

  • How to convert an entire publication into a reusable template. I want to show you how to convert a document into a template.

Let’s create a re-usable template as a starting point. We are not going to have a worksheet in each template, so let’s delete that. You can your logo/image. You will be able in a week time to save image library as well.

To convert this into a reusable template, I’m going to click on ‘Document Settings’ tab on the left-hand side and click on the ‘Convert’ button. I’ll give this template a name and save it. Then I’ll leave the editor, go back to the ‘Dashboard’. When you go and click on the ‘Create New’ button, then ‘New Editor’. This will lead you to the ‘Pick your Magnet’ screen to choose a template. Let’s say we create a ‘Checklist’, select ‘No’ to import content. Then, on the next screen for ‘Choose a theme’, scroll down to the bottom and you’ll find your re-usable template. Then, you’ll click on ‘Add New Page’, filter for the checklist and add what you saved.

Note: Some of the features that I did show you are Premium Features. The part where I showed you the convert templates (page and document), you need a paid account to use that feature. However, the brands and colours are available for free. To justify going for a paid account, you will get exclusive bonuses.

EXCLUSIVE BONUSES

These will be available to you if you upgrade to a paid account after this webinar (Kevin will be notified once you do so). For that, just shoot an email to Kevin so that he can send them to you.

  1. Lead Magnet Learning Pack is a swipe file of 13 content upgrades used on our blog to help Beacon grow to 25000 users. This is a good source of inspiration for a content upgrade to make. They are all different in design.
  2. Expert Audio Interview with Laura Roader, founder of MeetEdgar. Laura has grown to 7 figures business. She developed a software product that uses content marketing, content upgrades and lead magnets to grow her business. I’ll be sharing with you some of the strategies she uses.
  3. Free Beacon Template Design that I will personally design for to your business worth $1000. I’ll have a consultation with you to understand your needs (2-3 days work).

If you have any questions, drop an email to Kevin@beacon.by and he will be more than happy to follow-up with you individually.

To finish off with this talk, you want to watch its demo and presentation:

Finally, if you are interested in, you may explore these 30 Content Upgrade Ideas to Grow Your Email List (Updated).

How to Create a Stunning Short and Long Film with any Skills Levels

This is a guide for anyone who wants to improve their filmmaking skills regardless of their professions and levels.  You will not only learn how to create a stunning short or long film but also how to succeed in the filmmaking industry! 

This talk comes from a 1h webinar. I have transcribed its content in his own words.

The agenda points are as follow:

1. How do I get started?

2. Top 10 secrets to cinematic film shots

3. My 6 steps to making money.

About the presenter @parkerwalbeck

How to Create a Stunning Short and Long Film

First of all, I am 28 years old based out of Salt Lake City, Utah and I spent about 3 years working with a YouTuber named Devin Super Tramp. I had the opportunity to travel all over the world creating content for top name brands.

Some of the brands I work for during those travels include Ford, Champion, CityBank, Mattel, Turkish Airlines, Ubisoft, and many more…

On these high budget projects, I worked as a cinematographer, editor and even director at times. So, if you take nothing from this training, at least take away the confidence of knowing that the things I’m teaching you today, if applied, will give you the know-how to produce high-end video content for big names companies like these.

More recently I branched off and started my own production company working with some big names like Sean Johnson, Tony Hawk, and I grew my own YouTube channel to over 200 000 subscribers in just the first year. Creating content on my own channel for some big brand names such as LG, Canon and receiving sponsorship from companies like Glidecam, Zhiyun and Wescott and many more.

In a nutshell, I have learnt what it takes to create high-quality videos in a tracked high paying clients. I am super excited to share with you my insights right now. So let’s dive in.

1- How did I get started?

Secondly, I’m going to share with you my story and steps I took to get where I am today without going to film school.

So let’s rewind. Five years ago, I was knocking doors, selling network tv in the hot weather of Texas. I was absolutely hating my job and dreading getting up every morning to get to work. But I needed the money to figure out what I really wanted to do for a career. One night, I came across a quote by Steve Jobs that completely inspired me and changed my life. It reads: ‘Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.’

So, I quit my job the next day, drove back to Utah and started searching for my real passion. That’s when I came across a video on Youtube by a guy named Devin Super Tramp and I immediately fell in love with his style. He had these perfectly smooth shots, vibrant colours and moving music. This is it, that’s exactly what I want to do with my life.

I used my life savings to buy my first camera to buy a used Canon T3i, a Tokina 11-16mm and Glidecam HD 2000, totally $1,300. You need to be willing to spend money in good professional gears if you want to be treated as a professional.

But as soon as my fancy new gears arrived, I realised I had no idea how to use it. So, I spent the summer watching frustrating Youtube tutorials trying to teach myself how to do everything. I’m sure a lot of you have been in the same scenario where you spend an hour looking for a tutorial. Finally finding one that looks promising but it’s 20 minutes long and you are lucky if you get 30 seconds of useful information out of it. Huge waste of time!

But after 3 or 4 months of tutorial watching and learning by trial and error, I took my limited knowledge down to Southern Utah University attending school at the time. That’s when I had my first opportunity to create a name for myself.

The first event of this school year was that awesome Pink Dancing. While dancing with my friends, I noticed that nobody was filming the event. I immediately recognised this opportunity to pose myself as a professional filmmaker on campus. I pretended to know what I was doing and like I was the one hired to film the event. And this is a huge principle to my success, be confident! Take the opportunities that present themselves to you. Because that’s the only way to grow and get better. I often refer to this principle as ‘Fake it until you make it’.

I then took that footage home, editing together a video, posted it on Youtube the next day. Everybody started sharing it like crazy. Everybody loved the video including the administration who saw the video and pulled me in the office. They said ‘we love this video you just made, we’d like to offer you a scholarship to film the rest of our events for the rest of the year’.

Within a couple of months, I was able to make a return on my initial investment by landing a full scholarship and paid gigs around campus. But I didn’t stop there. A huge part of my success was continually learning and growing. So, instead of being content with my new found success, I pushed myself to the next level by upgrading my camera set with a Canon 5D M3, Canon lenses of 16-35 mm and 70-200 mm and a Glidecam HD 2000, totalling of $6500.

This new set up was a huge key to being able to take my next opportunity. About a month after buying my new gear, I saw a Facebook post by Devin Super Tramp needing somebody for shootings. I replied to it. He responded back ‘Perfect, see you tomorrow’. So I spent the rest of that weekend doubling as Devin’s arm model for his far cry treat video on Youtube. While I was working on the set with him, I started picking his brain and said ‘Devin, who is doing all these videos?’. He replied ‘You know what? I’m actually looking for somebody right now. I have been doing all this by myself until now’.

So I’ve sent him all my work and said ‘Look, I don’t have the most experience but I can promise you that I will be more passionate and hard-working anybody else can’. He asked ‘What camera do you shoot with?’ And for me being able to reply ‘the exact same gear you do’, it gave him a lot of confidence to hire me. But it wasn’t easy.

Following this, I started working for him for a couple of months working for him for free just to add value to his business. And that’s another principle I live by is ‘Add value first’.  After he saw the value I added, he hired me full-time and I was able to pay back my debts for my equipment purchase.

However, after working for him for 3 years, I left the job because I wanted to continue learning and growing. I then broke up, started my own production company and ‘full-time filmmaker’ class.

After that, I asked all my Youtube followers ‘What do you want to learn from me?’ I received two hundred replies, which I ordered them chronologically from beginning to end. Then, I set up a plan to reply to what people needed to know to become a filmmaker, even if they were complete beginners. For this, I spent the next 6 months to create this full-time filmmaker programme, 20 hours of content.

2-  My top 10 secrets to cinematic FILM shots

Thirdly, let me share with you my cinematic shot secrets.

  • Buying the right gear: what camera should I buy?

Well, it completely depends on what you want to shoot and what your budget is.

a) First budget range

If you don’t have any budget, just use your phone. Most smartphones have decent cameras integrated. I can assure you that you can get similar results to that of high budget cameras. If you are using your phone, make sure to use of a manual camera app like FiLMicPRO. It only costs $10 (17 Euros)  that allows you to manually control your image for best results. Also, to get smooth shots, I recommend using a stabiliser. The Zhiyun (Smooth Q) is a good option.

b) Second price range

You can get a DSLR for $600. The best beginner camera I recommend is the Canon SL2. There are other great options like the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 Mirrorless with 14-42 mm lens. But I prefer Canon cameras for their amazing in-camera colours, the superior auto-focus and great lens options. However, every camera manufacturer will have pros and cons.

c) Third budget range

If you have around $1000, I’d say look into a nicer lens and stabiliser for your DSLR. Lenses are just as important as the camera bodies. Depending on what you shoot, I’d recommend either getting a wider lens like the Tokina 11-16 mm for Canon cameras, a Canon EF 50 mm f/1.8 or a standard lens like the Sigma 17-50 f/2.8 zoom lens for Canon.

As for the stabiliser, I’d recommend a Glidecam HD-2000 hand-held stabiliser that helps incorporate cinematic movements. You can also get the Zhiyun Crane 2 for a similar price as the Glidecam.

d)  Fourth price range

For around $1000 just for the camera body, you can get a Panasonic Lumix GH4, Canon EOS 80D or the Sony Alpha a6300 Mirrorless. Each grade for different reasons like the sensor size, resolution, frame rate.

At around $2000, I’d say the Panasonic Lumix GH5 is probably the best for a quality image for the price. Or the Panasonic Lumix GH5s for 500$ more and few extra features.  For around $3000, I’d say your best options are the Sony a7S II, which is amazing in low-light for shooting events like weddings, or the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. Both these cameras are full framed sensors, which give you a more shallow depth of field compared to smaller sensor cameras like the Panasonic GH5.

e) Jumping into $5500 mark, the Canon EOS-1DX Mark II shoots 4K at 60 frames per second (FPS) and has the most amazing in-video auto-focus tracking system on the market. Now if you have outgrown the DSLR world and are looking into getting into the higher grade cinema cameras, a couple of good options would be the Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Pro, the Panasonic AU-EVA-1 and the Canon EOS C200 EF. They are all sitting around $6000-7500. The next one up would be the Red Raven for $6000 body only, a type of camera used to film Hollywood films, like Pirates of the Caribbean.

However, keep in mind that it’s not the camera that makes the most difference but rather the skills and creativity behind the camera. So, I always tell people it is pointless to buy expensive cameras if you have no idea how to use them.

  • Choose the right settings: how to get a cinematic look?

  1. Shoot at 24 frames per second (fps)

This is what they shoot Hollywood films at and this is what your eyes are used to seeing when it comes to high-quality films. The reason is that it gives a certain motion blur that is easy on the eyes and makes it feel more like a film. If you shoot at 30 frames per second (fps), it looks smoother but it will make it look like more like a soap opera or a news broadcast. They shoot at this speed to make it feel more ‘live’ and less like a film. If you shoot at 60 fps you will convert that to 24 fps in the editing room if you want to create a slow-motion effect.

2. Picture profile settings

A standard profile with sharpness down to zero, your contrast turned down 1, saturation up 1 and colour tone up 1. These settings will give you a super vibrant saturated happy look.

How to Create a Stunning Short and Long Film

3. Auto White Balance

I highly discourage you from anything auto on your camera. Instead, learn how to use your manual settings. Every light source has a colour temperate. The temperature of the sun during sunrise is 2500 Kelvin-3500 Kelvin. In the auto balance, everything except the sun will look blue. To change this, go and set it manually to 6000K. It will warm everything up and make it look like a true sunset. As a rule of thumb, if you are shooting outdoors with direct sunlight, I’d recommend shooting between 5600 and 6000 Kelvin and if you are indoors, you usually want to be between 3200 and 4000 Kelvin.

4. Auto ISO

Furthermore, avoid using it auto. With this auto setting, you will either expose for the sky and under-expose the subject or under-expose the darkest part of the subject and expose-expose the sky. While choosing the exposure, use this histogram graph. It will tell you if under-exposed (left) or over-exposed (right). If well exposed, it will be spread out evenly throughout the diagram.

  • Get smooth shots: how can I get smooth shots?

  1. Good balance
  2. Lens choice
  3. The off hand
  4. The way you walk.

1. Good balance

First and foremost, focus on getting a good balance and smooth shots with your Glidecam stabiliser. There are 3 points of balance with your Glidecam: left/right, front/back, top/bottom. The top to bottom is the one people are struggling the most. The way to correct that is by having a drop time between 2 and 3 seconds (not too fast). The drop time is the amount of time it takes for the glide to come from horizontally to vertically. This will prevent the glidecam from swinging back to forth as you walk.

2. The off-hand

Secondly, the off-hand is the biggest key next to your balance. I personally recommend holding the glidecam with your least coordinated hand and stirring the glidecam with your best hand. Do not touch too much the shaft of your Glidecam, the less you will stir the glidecam, the smoother the shots will be.

3. Using the right lens

For starters, I will recommend you use a wider lens (16 mm). This will give you a wider view making less apparent when there’s a camera. As you improve, you can upgrade to a narrower lens (70 mm).

4. The way you walk

Pretend you are carrying a hot cup of coffee across a room and bend your knees to absorb your foot sets.

  • Create Movement: how do you make your shots look so dynamic?

So, here are my top 10 Glidecam moves:

  1. Push-in shot. This is the most commonly used for establishing shots like real estate, landscape. This is a great alternative to static shots.
  2. Pull-out shot. This is something to re-build something in the image.
  3. Parallax shot. This is the one I used the most and is my favourite. I move my body in one direction while panning the camera in the opposite direction. This makes you look like the subject stays in the same spot on the frame while everything else around them is moving in the background. It creates movement while focusing on a subject.
  4. Rise up shot. This is just going straight up.
  5. Reveal shot. That’s when I find something in the foreground to reveal something else in the background.
  6. Tilt-down shot. This is when there is something interesting above me. I use it to glide up against to reveal something else below me.
  7. Tilt-up shot. I like to use this for intro shots to establish a location in a video or to reveal a character to open up the scene.
  8. Change of focus shot. This is when I set up close to my subject. I start further away from my subject (out of focus) and move closer to focus on it (into focus).
  9. Tracking shot. Lead tracking, follow-tracking, sidetracking.
  10. Transition move shot. This is where I use two different objects from two different scenes. I match the two shots together creating a cool transition making seem like I’ve been from one place to another by using something in my frame.
  11. Low mode shot. I turn my camera upside-down, stir my subject up against the sky and giving a fresh new perspective.
  • Create depth: what aperture should I shoot at?

In this regard, I personally like filming at aperture 2.8 or lower for most things. The reason being is when you use a low aperture; it knocks the background out of focus and gives a shallow depth of field. This helps the viewer focus better on the subject as the background is blurred. It also looks more cinematic because that shallow depth of field is creating layers and depth to the image.

But, depth can also be created using foreground. When filming, I’m always looking for some foreground to glide up against to make my image feel more 3 dimensional.

Other than that, another tip for creating depth is finding natural leading lines, whatever it is around you, to help you lead your eye to the centre of the image.

  • Camera angles: what camera angles should I cover?

  1. Let’s start with the 5 angles they will teach you in school:

a) Wide angle for establishing shot

b) Long/full body: a wide shot that covers your subject from head to to

c) Medium shot

d) Tight/close-up which is usually just a face

e) Detail/extreme close-up shot which focuses in on a particular detail.

Of course, you can mix up those angles by doing low angles to show more power or dominance or high angles to show more vulnerability or weakness.

2. 5 shot rule covers 5 angles of the important action

  1. Wide shot to establish a location
  2. Front using a GoPro
  3. Top to give more perspective
  4. Side right in the action
  5. Back using a GoPro.

Then in the editing room, I can cut between the different angles and piece them together to show the viewer different perspectives. This adds life to your story. You can add some music to make your video look the same scene more dynamic and action-packed.

  • Perspective (lens choice): which lens should I use and when?

By far, my favourite one is the widening angle lens (16 mm) for wide group shots, landscapes, real estate to give an impressive look and close-up to action feeling.

The second one is the narrow-angle lens (70-100 mm) to create a better face-tight shot as it’s more flattering and doesn’t destroy facial features. So, when I’m shooting a wedding or a portrait, I always pop up on my standard 24-70 mm lens, as it allows me to get either the wider group in the image (24 mm) or the close-up spouses (70 mm).

My next lens is the 70-200 mm telephoto lens for the times when I can’t get physically close to the subject. I can use the zoom at up to 200-yard distance to focus on the subject (200 mm).

Now, as far as prime lenses go, I go for Sigma Arts series 20-85 mm costing between $800 and 1200 mm.

  • Focus: how do you keep subjects in focus while moving?

These are the 4 tips to stay in focus:

  1. Get a camera with a good auto-focus tracking like Canon for any predictable moving subject (interview/wedding)
  2. Set focus and maintain the same distance to my subject
  3. Handheld continuous focus pulling. I will help the glide shaft while moving away or closer to my subject.
  4. Use a high aperture between 16 and 22 mm so that everything stays in focus.
  • Polarisers: what filters do you use?

I rarely use filters and I’d rather use polarisers. Polarisers make your colours look more vibrant. This gives you the appearance of better dynamic range as it softens those highlights from the sun reflection for outdoor shoots.

At present, the polariser I use is B+W 82 mm HTC Kaesemann circular polarizer with multi-resistant coating costing about $140 depending on the size of your lens.

  • Lighting: how do you get the most out of natural light?

3 factors:

  1. Time of day.

Indeed, the best time of day to film is during the ‘Golden Hour’. The golden hour is the first hour of the day (sunrise) and last hour of the day (sunset) when the sun is low in the sky. If you shoot at noon when the sun is overhead, it’s much less flattering. The colours outside are less saturated. The harsh sunlight creates hard shadows.

2. Camera direction

Besides, I love shooting in the sun because when you use the sun as your backlight (golden hour), it gives you those beautiful sun flares coming in and out of your image creating a cinematic look. It also creates even more light on the subject faces (no squinting eyes and unflattering faces).

Now and then, I like to have the sun as a frontline source, it’s for landscapes. It gives vibrant colours.

3. Nonetheless, If you can’t wait for the sun to come out and it’s cloudy, don’t just put your camera away

For instance, for weddings, the clouds act as a giant diffuser, which softens the light and creates a more flattering look on people’s faces. So, just figure out to utilise the weather patterns to your advantage. For me, I use the rain and the snow in slow motion creating movement and epic look to my film.

  • Bonus secret: editing. What software? Editing tips?

The editing software I use is Adobe Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro X. But I’m sure you want to know how to use them.

Hence, here are my post-production tips:

  1. Audio is equally important to display a good quality film.

Yet, do not neglect audio. Make sure you are getting close enough to the subject to make sure you are capturing a good quality sound. Also, the sound design added on top of what you recorded that will help everything come to life. You can use stock sounds. Throwing as many layers (sound effects) as you can to help your viewer feels it’s actually there.

2. Choosing the right music

My four go-to music licensing websites:

  • Premiumbeat.com
  • Audiojungle
  • Soundstripe
  • Artlist.

Moreover, be patient with finding your piece of music and picks one that helps tell your story best. Additionally, you can also use a list of independent artists.

3. Colour correction and colour grading

– Colour correction:

Within Adobe Premiere Pro, I use a ‘lumitri colour’ in colour effects. Next, I will adjust my white balance using my temperature selector, then adjust exposure if needed, add some contrast and saturation. And last, I’ll go to my RGB curve and create an ‘S’ curve to bring highlights up and shadows down. It helps colours and image pop.

– Colour grading

This will give your footage a specific look or feel. You can do so again within the ‘creative lumitri colours’. These are basically colour grading presets you can choose from to give a look that fits your story. One of the most popular colours grading out there are:

The Orange and Teal look or the Blockbuster look or the Flat Profile or Brown Aqua RMN, Brown Aqua RMN.

Though,  remember, practice makes perfect!

Now, I’d like to talk about how to make money within the film industry.

3- My 6 steps to making money

a) Video Revolution for brands to promote their products:

– Youtube/ Webcam/ Drones…

– Digital Ad Revenue: $9 billion in 2016.

b) Furthermore,  you can set up into any of these film industries. Likewise, there is plenty of variety.

– Events

– Corporate

– Travel

– Independent films

– Luxury Real Estate

– Weddings

– Actions/Sports

– Documentaries

– Business Commercials.

Consequently, don’t give out your dreams because you feel you are too late in the game and the market is over-saturated. There is plenty of work to go around for everybody!

c) Last but not least, here are my 6 steps to making money:

– Invest in yourself: gear, education and time

– Master your skills: what separates you?

– Build a portfolio

– Market yourself

– Build relationships

– Add value first/free to fee: start working for free and then get charged for your work. Do negotiate to be paid at the right price.

Finally, for those who prefer watching a video over reading, please find his webinar below.

To close the topic, do you have any questions? Is there anything you would like me to clarify?

Tips on how to build the perfect Social Media Strategy

I recently attended a really interesting webinar about how to build the perfect Social Media Strategy.

Although some of the information in this post may not surprise you, you will definitely learn a thing or two!

So, let’s start with the Social Media Strategy agenda points. You can then decide to deep dive into what you feel you lack information about.

 

The first presentation was delivered by Tilo Kmieckowiack from @quintly who talked about:

Social Media Strategy

  • What excellent social posts have in common in terms of length, content type and hashtags
  • How to write the perfect Social Media post.

The second presentation was delivered by Patrick Whatman from @Mention who dived into Social Media Strategy:

  • How to and Why focus on engagement
  • Learn from your competitors
  • Monitor your campaigns.

1. Let me share with you a bit about Tilo’s background

Tilo is the Brand/Product and Communications Manager of Quintly for the German-speaking markets, i.e Germany, Austria and Switzerland. He works from Cologne, Germany.

His daily job is to create Social Media Campaign analysis and case studies to optimise the company’s social media strategy. One of the perks of being part of this company is the access to a big database. Indeed, the Quintly Marketing team analyses over 10 million posts from Facebook and Instagram per month. In this presentation, he shares his findings of how the perfect social media post looks like.

Social Media Strategy

2. So, let’s start with the Facebook Analysis

a) Data Range analysed

  • January 2018
  • 239,327 pages
  • 11,472,559 posts

b) Analysed Dimensions

  • Message length
  • Message type
  • Date
  • Tag Social Media Strategy
  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Shares
  • Interactions
  • Reactions
  • Emojis Social Media Strategy
  • Hashtags #⃣

c) Means of Success: Average Interaction per Post

Results:

  • Users most commonly post links, however, videos and also photos receive much more interactions on average
  • The Post volume is highest during the week but posts on weekends get more interactions
  • Most posts contain either 0 or 30-150 characters. According to the findings, a text of 1-50 characters receives the most interactions
  • A large number of posts does not contain emojis. Nonetheless, moderate emoji usage of 1-8 shows higher interactions
  • Hashtags are seldom used on Facebook, besides posts without hashtags receive more interactions.

Consequently, what does the ‘perfect’ Facebook post looks like? It looks like this:

  • Limits to 50 characters in length
  • Uses emojis moderately
  • Doesn’t use hashtags
  • Is posted at weekends
  • Uses videos and images wisely

⚠ Bear in mind that content quality is important, too! This analysis only covers objective technical factors. Analyse your own performance and compare it to the presented results, in order to optimise your own strategy.

3. Now let’s move on to Instagram Analysis

a) Data Range analysed

  • January 2018
  • 41,389 Instagram profiles
  • 1,019,978 posts.

b) Analysed Dimensions

  • Message length
  • Message type
  • Date
  • Tag
  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Interactions
  • Emojis
  • Hashtags

c) Means of Success: Average Interaction per Post

Results:

  • Users post images most often, yet videos get the most interactions
  • Most posts are published during weekdays. However, posts on weekends receive more interactions
  • Most posts contain between 0 and 150 characters, but posts with up to 50 characters get the most interactions
  • Many profiles don’t use emojis, yet posts with 1-3 emojis show most interactions
  • Most posts contain no or few hashtags. Posts with 1-3 hashtags receive most interactions. Note that with Instagram, you can up to 10 hashtags but you need to ensure that they are relevant to the post.

So, what does the ‘perfect’ post on Instagram looks like? It looks like this:

  • Limits to 50 characters in length
  • Uses emojis moderately
  • Reduces hashtags to max 10
  • Is posted mostly at weekends
  • Uses videos and carousel wisely

Additionally, you can also check his presentation with graphs on Quintly’s Website.

All in all, Social Media Analytics can help you benchmark your content performance against our analysis.

The second presentation was delivered by Patrick Whatman from @Mention.

Social Media Strategy

1. Now let’s move on to Patrick’s background

Patrick is from New Zealand and works in Paris, France. He is the Digital Content Marketer of Mention. His presentation focuses on Social Media Strategy around the following topics:

  • Engagement
  • Social Listening 
  • Influencer Marketing
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Data Tracking.

Patrick started off his talk with a fun quiz to make a point about engagement.

2. Do you know the answer to this quiz question?

Q: Who is the most re-tweeted musical artist of all time?

A: BT K-Pop Group with:

  • 252 000+ re-tweets
  • Winner Billboard for ‘Best Social Artist’ in 2017-2018
  • More than 10 million followers
  • Performed at 2017 American Music Awards.

3. EVEN SO, why should you care?

This data proves that social media success is closely linked to engagement.

Mention’s Twitter Report 2018 -Top 5 hashtags (for engagement):

  1. #Love_Yourself
  2. #Jimin
  3. #BTS
  4. #DNA
  5. #THELASTJEDI

Amongst these hashtags, the top 4 are coming from this K-Pop band.

4. YET, how do they do this?

It’s all about engagement. They engage with their fans by:

  • Holding contests. They ask their fans to draw, respond, and tell stories about their faves
  • Rewarding fans for their re-tweets. They send personal ‘Thank you’ messages
  • Creating their own emojis.

Their success lies in the creation of online communities, mainly on Twitter, but also a bit on Instagram and a lot of forums, where fans do all the stuff for them.

5. then, why engagement matters?

It is important to emphasise engagement in your social media campaign because of:

a) The Snowball effect

Indeed, Social Media is all about connections: your followers, their followers…Your message reaches much further if shared with all these connections

b) Platforms reward engagement

Organic Reach is about winning in ‘the feed’. The more likes, shares and comments, the more likely Facebook, Twitter, etc will promote your post for you.

c) Respond early and often to foster a community. This is valid for viral campaigns or simple customer support

  • When a social media user gets in touch, you need to be there to help
  • Build momentum for key posts and campaigns
  • Catch issues before they get out of hand.

d) Social Listening comes in handy

Social Media Strategy

Here are the reasons:

  • You can’t respond to messages you don’t know exist
  • You may not be able to stay glued to all your social media account at all times
  • Social Listening tools tell you when you (or your keywords) have been mentioned and let you respond directly.

A good Social Listening tool such as Mention saves you time and efforts. It also lets you focus on creating winning campaigns.

6. SINCE SOCIAL MEDIA IS CONSTAnTLY EVOLVING, WOULD YOU CONSIDER a Bot AS PART OF A SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY?

In short, the answer is ‘No’ for Social Media and here is why. On Social Media, bots aren’t necessary or advisable. Unless you are a very big brand, you are not going to miss too many things. However, Social Listening will help you not miss all these little things and details.

Still, if you build or use a bot for your website, make sure you set it up with narrow parameters, it can be a good thing. Though, don’t show too obvious automated responses.

7. CONSECUTIVELY, The next step of YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY success is to work with influencers

Social-power users help build the brand by:

  • Expanding your reach (because their customer/fan base is engaged)
  • Increasing buying decisions for your products/services through their audiences thanks to their advice
  • Making you look good! When you hang out with the cool guys, it makes you look cool, too!

8. NOW, How to get started?

  • Find influential users relevant to your business (similar brands/topics within your network). They can be macro-influencers or micro-influencers. This article will help you find cost-free micro-influencers
  • Figure out what you can offer: free product, exposure, money
  • Reach out to influencers and kindly suggest to work together. Many will say ‘no’ but not everyone.

9. AFTER ALL, Why should you care about what your competitors do?

Social Media Strategy

Because a competitive analysis helps you solve your problems, understand and learn from your prospects and customers.

It will allow you to easily find out:

  • What your customers are interested in
  • What content or marketing strategies might be effective
  • Possibly even find new customers this way by interacting with them.

10. BESIDES, How can you track campaigns? And why would you bother?

Simply because you need to evaluate with tracking tools the success of your campaign.

Indeed, the best campaigns are data-driven:

  • Learn from your last campaign to optimise the next
  • Influential people and outlets talk about you (eg on public holidays when your business may be closed)
  • Find out key events in the campaign that affected your performance
  • Assess the overall response to the campaign based on factual evidence to build engagement (eg top 10 content pieces per month or year).

11. Last but not least, Patrick shares his top tips

  • Use unique and branded hashtags for brand awareness and engagement. Why? Because non-popular branded hashtags are easier to track
  • Watch for sudden changes (spikes and dips) and understand why
  • Identify your most and least effective content
  • Measure key metrics such as volume, reach, countries, languages…

Finally, the SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY presentations were wrapped up with Questions and Answers.

Social Media Strategy

Q: Can 15-30 hashtags work?

A: No. You need to concentrate on using relevant hashtags. Bear in mind as well that some hashtags are banned, temporarily or permanently. Let me give you one piece of advice: relevant hashtags in Instagram captions (descriptions). You may add some other hashtags after the description following blank spaces but they may not be as relevant.

Q: Do you think it’s good practice to post the same content on multiple platforms?

A: No. Every platform is different. Cross-posting isn’t recommended. Besides, consider that Twitter has recently changed its rules. They do not allow anymore the same content posted on different Twitter accounts or similar channels. Furthermore, hashtags aren’t been used on Facebook. As for the message length, Twitter restricts messages to 240 characters, which is lower than most other Social Media Networks.

Q: How to better utilise Instagram for stories?

A: Keep an eye on trends and news and be aware of the new features and tools. As discussed previously, stay engaged with an informative or funny content. Another important news recently surfaced on Later, the exclusively Instagram scheduling app. They said that algorithm prioritises people’s different content. Indeed, Instagram can tell and promote brands and people who use all of its features and have varied content (not only the same format or type of content over and over). Thus, they will bring further up your content into the feed. An interesting feature that has been rolled out is the Instagram ‘highlights’ on your profile page. You can highlight a particular story to be viewed over and over again without any time limitations.

Q:  What channels do you advise to focus on?

A: That depends on the market(s) you are working for. You need to adjust your strategy to the country/market specifics. For eg, in Germany, there are very few people using Twitter, while there are 30 million users on Facebook.  Twitter is quasi-exclusively used by journalists and politicians. However, journalists can pick up topics to write about, which will be brought to the mass media. So, Twitter shouldn’t be completely written off.

Personalised customer experience through Artificial Intelligence

LET’S START WITH THE FIRST Presentation by Paul Sweeny from Webio, An ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE VOICE BOT APP company

Artificial Intelligence

1. Conversational Interfaces have started to shift

  • First of all, people live inside their Messaging Apps. Can you prove it? I surely can!
    • 2 billion messages a month are exchanged between customers and businesses
    • 60 billion businesses are on Facebook Messenger
    • Children are on: Snapchat, Kik, Telegram, Instagram
    • And Apple Business Chat just launched!

Yet, why is the Artificial Intelligence getting so popular?

That’s because Artificial Intelligence picks up customers/users’ moods. Some places like Melbourne, Australia have already developed a strong Chatbot community.

However, can you provide me with a relevant example of Artificial Intelligence use and success?

Moreover, Artifical Intelligence tools (AI) such as Alexa, the smart speaker, enable companies to increase their sales.

Indeed, in the USA alone, 57% of the population has ordered an item through their Smart Speaker.

Additionally, 37% say that they spend more money on Amazon and Google since getting their Smart Speaker.

On top of that, it also creates opportunities for technology-driven services such as Alexa programmes designed for children costing $2 a month that can be embedded into the TV.

2. SO, WHAT ARE The top 3 categories of items ordered most through Alexa?

They are:

  • Smart Home
  • Games, Trivia and Accessories
  • Music and Audio.

3. THEN, The REcepTionist/Triage Bot will determine if the issue can be processed by the bot or BY HUMAN BEING

The bot will follow these 3 stages:

  1. HLP (Help) = What is the intent of the sentence?
  2. Triage = Who/what division is it for?
  3. Rules = Best Route… Human, Bot or both.

Besides Alexa, are there any other current applications of bots?

Of course! Some other examples of Bot usage are:

  • the ‘Uber’ taxi app linking drivers directly with customers
  • hotel booking sites allowing smarter offers for customers searching for accommodation on the sites…

4. CONSEQUENTLY, WHAT MUST A Today’s Check-out DO?

It must:

  • understand and manage customer intents
  • hold context
  • reinvent a new dynamic when it comes to SEO, Words, Sentences’ choices
  • create continuous conversations without interruptions
  • enable direct digital conversations. Why not have platforms for these?
  • Finally, it must cater for markets and conversations. Indeed, markets are conversations and conversations are about markets.

NOW, LET’S MOVE ON TO THE SECOND Presentation by Niamh Parkless (on the right) from Shopless.ie, AN ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE SHOPPING AND DELIVERY APP company

Artificial Intelligence

1. FIRST OF ALL, WHAT IS Shopless.ie? IT is A new commitment personal shopping and delivery app DESIGNED for:

  • Fashion
  • Health and Beauty
  • Groceries

Secondly, what is the aim of this app?

Its goal is to attract local brands to deliver within 2-3 hours to your home. If you are a non-local brand, the aim is to reduce the shopping and delivery times. In other terms, it is a one-stop personalised application working with Artificial Intelligence to assist you with your shopping needs.

But, why do you think it will help my brand/business?

2. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE and Personalisation

  • According to a recent report from Accenture, 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer that:
    • recognises them by name
    • recommends options based on past purchases
    • or knows their preferences.
  • Research suggests that brands with strong omnichannel engagement have an average retention rate of 89% versus 33% for brands with weak engagement.

However, what are your recommendations for a successful implementation of Artificial Intelligence?

3. THERE ARE TO FOLLOW THESE Five Easy Steps for Better Personalisation via Artificial intelligence:

  1. Don’t involve third-party software, just start small. Just amend a small part of your site to show customers’ location
  2. Personalise your shoppers’ mass marketing campaigns as your customers’ questions. You can ask simple questions like age, gender and brand interest
  3. Use on-site development to automate personalisation
  4. Real-Time marketing personalisation. This involves customising ad content based on individual users
  5. Last but not least, focus on achieving a seamless personalisation across web and marketing channels. That is to say that your Marketing messages must be created for your clients based on what you already know about the person’s integrations with your company.

4. Finally, how is it going to meet my business goals?

  • Well, when it comes down to it, personalisation comes back to improving the customer journey and their experience
  • In conclusion, it’s a way for stores to:
    • differentiate their service,
    • reward loyal customers
    • build a more sustainable business.

FINALLY, LET’S FINISH UP WITH THE THIRD Presentation BY Emma Boylan from outside the box

At last, Emma talked about branding and personal branding to market yourself effectively. For this purpose, I will refer you to this previous article for more information.

 

How to optimise your website performance for marketers and developers

WEBSITE PERFORMANCE

I signed up for a Learn Inbound Marketing event a few months ago and I must say the content of the Website Performance – A marketing priority presentation was outstanding! It also complements very well my previous blog post on how to understand your website traffic data with Google Tag Manager.

Website performance

This presentation delivered by Emily Grossman is divided into 6 topics:

  1. Definition and importance of web performance to marketers

2. Why might it be valuable for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)?

3. Why do we suck at this?

4. Measuring performance

5. Auditing performance through Lab tests and Real User Metrics tests (RUM)

6. Optimising your site, your UX (user experience) and your Business.

If you prefer listening to a podcast than reading, please find the presentation recording below.

If you have a more visual memory, you will find the podcast transcript and PDF presentation further in this article.

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

1.Definition and importance of web performance to marketers

  • Definition

What is web performance? Performance is the speed in which web pages are downloaded and displayed on the user’s web browser. Web Performance Optimisation (WPO) or website optimisation is the field of knowledge about increasing web performance.

  • Why is that important to marketers?

Let’s go back to Maslow’s modernised hierarchy of needs with Wifi access added to the pyramid. People feel that slow wifi is worse than no wifi at all. Waiting for something to load is stressful and annoying. And as marketers in general, we try not to piss off the people, who make us money. So you can see why this might be a problem.

But even if we look at it quantitatively, this could be a really big problem, like 10% of your audience lost. Luckily, the flipside of this is that when we do well with delivering great experiences to our customers at a fast pace, they also reward us. We get:

  • an increase in our conversion rate and engagement
  • a decrease in bounce rates in orders on the e-commerce site
  • an increase in conversions amongst new customers.

This can translate to real money. It can an increase in revenue and in customer spending.  So performance can really be valuable for marketers.

2. Why might it be valuable for SEO?

In terms of SEO, earlier this year, people announced something called the ‘speed update‘. Basically, it is a new update to the algorithm that adds a ranking impact to sites based on the site’s speed in mobile search results for the first time.

However, this update only impacted slow sites. The idea was that if you were really slow, you might get demoted. If you were super fast, it wouldn’t impact you. Actually, I would say, the speed of your site performance is critical for searches because it impacts their experience in an interesting way when viewing a search contact.

If you imagine that all the sites in Google are like products in a grocery shop, you’ll know that your competitors are right next to you in breathing. If your product is broken and busted, leaking all over the place, nobody wants to deal with it. Not only will you lose that customer but they will probably put money right into the pocket of your competitors who are lurking there.

So, there are tons of reasons to care about performance. As marketers, you would think that the web would be blazingly fast but that’s not true. In fact, Nicola did this incredibly intensive study in the UK. She looked at 1000 of the top UK domains and found that a lot of them were really struggling.

They were struggling to provide an interactive experience to the users in less than 10 seconds. Irish websites can be on this struggle bus, too, at getting a navigation up to users in a reasonable amount of time on different networks.

3. Why do we suck at this?

It’s hard. A developer evangelist posted a blog post detailing all the challenges that the developers are going through right now in 2018. A huge section is about optimising a website for performance.

I’d like to focus on 2 main issues:

  • Developers don’t know what the goals they need to aim for are.

Indeed, developers do not have all the information about their user base and the impact their decisions have on them. But marketers love user base data collection and impacts.

  • How do we fix slow web performance?

Today, I would like to talk about involving marketing in this conversation around measuring performance, auditing performance and optimising performance.

4. Measuring WEBSITE performance

Measurements are just actually a proxy for feelings. But how do we know what a fast experience feels like? Can we associate that with something else?

Google has done a good job at labelling what kinds of things users might be looking for, indicators that things are moving along quickly and fastly from experience.

They want to know: ‘Is it happening? Is it useful? Is it usable?’ If we understand that these are our users’ expectations, we can start to associate various measurements with those feelings. Those measurements might have interesting different names, things like ‘First Contentful Paint’, ‘First Meaningful Paint’, ‘Time to Interactive’.

But what we are really trying to figure out for these users is: ‘Do they know that it is happening? Do they know that it is useful? Do they know that it’s usable?’

As marketers, getting involved in these conversations allows us to make our measurements truly meaningful to us when we get them back to our engineers. It also helps engineers to know:

‘What matters at the marketing level? Does this content need a picture loaded for it to feel meaningful or is that image irrelevant?’ These are the kinds of decisions we have to make hand-in-hand with our developers.

5. AUDITING WEBSITE PERFORMANCE

We know what we want to measure but how do we do that? This is very tricky and in general in-performance optimisation tasks. For this, we are looking at and going to do two different kinds of measurements:

  • Lab tests or simulated tests
  • Real User Metrics tests (RUM).
  • Lab tests sometimes referred to as ‘simulated tests’.

There are lots of different tools that will allow you to do these lab tests. Basically, what you are doing is inputting a URL. Then, you are getting out some information from a simulated test environment. There’s a machine somewhere that says:

‘We are going to try and simulate what a user might experience over various different connections or the connection that you set yourself. We will give you back some results.’

You might get back something like this from a Lab test. It’s a set of ‘timings’ that are going to indicate some of the measurement that we talked about before. You can certainly set those up yourself as well.

You might also get what looks like a film strip. The ‘film strip’ shows you what is visually happening while those calculations are made. In the case of webpage test, which is the tool I’m using to show you information.

Another alternative is to get ‘waterfall‘. It allows you to view large sites/pages. Those little bars show you the requests you made. You can see that in a lot of cases, there’s a lot of Javascript, some CSS and some images. These are the building blocks that make up your site. These tools can help you segment each individual request so that you know how long each request is taking.

So, there is a benefit in running lab test. There’s almost no set up required. You can input a URL and go, which means it’s also very easy to track your competitors.

Because you can test pages before they launch, you can see how certain pages are going to run ahead of time. You can also do interesting tasks with the controlled ‘variables‘.  So, if you want to test something before it goes live like adding or removing something, you can see what happens.

You don’t have to deal with other variables in the real world. You can also test for things on multiple networks and compare how things changed when you moved to, say, a 4G network connection to a 3G network connection.

However, the problem with these lab tests is that they can be hard to scale and keep current. We are doing everything at the URL level. They can be automated but it takes some manual labour. You often have to run multiple tests to get some real results.

So, in webpage test, for eg, we’ll run 3 tests and take the median results, to get rid of our data layers. Because there are no variables, we have issues understanding the real impact on our users. If we are testing on 4G but 75% of our users access the internet through a 3G connection, how much is that telling us?

It can also be really difficult to measure these pages when they are dynamic. When they are having ads changing sizes, we are also not getting an understanding of how things look like for users. What we are testing with our users is their experience. It’s actually what we were talking about with Google Tag Manager (GTM) before. We want to track how far our user gets down our page with GTM.

  • Real User Metrics tests (RUM)

With Real-User Performance Monitoring, we want to check how far along the loading process our users are getting. So, the deal you get back gets a little bit different.

Suddenly, your performance metrics are not a single number but a widespread of numbers. You can break these down by dividers but there’s no real way around it. You are going to get a lot bigger spread of numbers when you look at real users.

Sometimes it’s easier to break down this data into a table. For eg, in this table, we can see that 10% of our users are struggling to get time to interact in less than 12.6 seconds. This is the kind of information we can use to truly understand what is going on with our user base in a real-world context.

There are pros and cons to this table.

  • Pros:

The pros are the inverse of the lab tests. It’s very scalable. It’s great for seeing the customer pains in real-time. We don’t have to run the test every so often, it just comes in as our users do.

  • Cons:

This is going to require a lot more engineering support to set up. You have to load some software, put some ‘event tracking‘ to understand what’s happening. You also have to deal with the ‘survivorship bias‘. This is an issue, where for us to understand how long it took somebody to get time to interact, you actually have to get to ‘time to interactive’.

If your webpage is so slow that people are willing to weed it out, you are not going to get these data points as they are waiting for the page to load. This is important to understand and measure against your lab tests as well. There are also some issues with variables. There are a lot more processes involved with this data in your marketing procedure.

But if you are thinking it may be nice to look at this RUM data and the lab testing together, then you would be right. In fact, most organisations that do some sort of ongoing performance optimisation will involve a cycle like this. Where they will write code, test it in the lab to make sure that it meets their standards. Then they’ll deliver it to their users, validate that data with RUM to make sure that users are experiencing the lift they predicted in the lab.

I also think it’s important to combine your lab and RUM test when it comes to auditing. And here is why.

When you think about what your developers can do right now, they can add it to a lab test data. They can understand what are the real users’ pains but also what we do think this website could be. Where are the potential issues that we are seeing in our lab tests? Remember that the developers could potentially do that and what they really need is information from ourselves about who our users are, what our user base looks like and the impact of their potential changes.

So, if you can, later on, look for the analytics information about:

  • the traffic to your site or maybe more specifically
  • the search traffic to your site
  • your conversion rates and maybe even your click-through-rate (CTR) from your search console.

You would then start understanding what’s important and start helping developers to prioritise. You could also develop with them an ‘efforts’ squad. This made-up squad will help you understand how much work it will take to improve your performance on those various pages.

Then, at the end of your audit, you have an understanding of how bad shit sucks, but also what are the most important pieces of content/page templates/URLs for you to try and fix first.

Today, I hope that you are able to understand that performance isn’t just about improving your site speed. This is only part of the performance optimisation process.

6. Optimising your  website – actual speed

I also want to open your mind to the idea that site optimisation can be about optimising your business and its processes. this will ensure that over time you develop a culture that is going to prioritise improving your performance metrics.

Now, when you are working on optimising your performance in your organisation, most of you are not going to be coding these improvements yourself. You are going to be working with a development team.

How to not motivate your developers:

The number one thing not to do with developers is just giving them tasks, assignments and they’ll resent you forever.

How to motivate your developers:

Remember that developers are problem-solvers. So, if you frame your request as a problem statement instead of a command, you have much more success with your development team. Let them in on your goals, give them access to your users’ information. That’s what they want and need to be empowered and successful.

But if you are worried about what they are going to do when they get their hands on the site and start working on this goal of improved performance:

‘it mostly boils down to ship less stuff to your customers and what you do ship, try and deliver it in an optimal order.’

I love this quote by Patrick Meenan, creator of webpagetest.org because you go and read decades-old books on performance optimisation, so much of them still hold true.

I also want to spend some time talking about some of the noddy requests that, we, as marketers, will make to our development teams. Because I want to make sure we are aware of the performance impact of those requests so that when we are making those requests, we understand what we are asking them to do.

Images are still the number one cause of bloat on the web because we love images. If you would like to know what it is like to optimise images on your site, please read this extensive guide. We read it all through and find all the different ways the developers have had to clean up after us in our giant image requests. It’s really interesting.

But let’s move to something called ‘Third-Party Scripts‘. They are translated as things like ads, analytics, widgets, things that can be embedded into any sites that come from a 3rd party source. We, marketers, love to pop things into a website.

But remember that asking developers to do this is like asking them to put a loudspeaker on a finely tuned car. You can optimise the car as much as you like. It’s not going to fix the fact that there’s a loudspeaker on top. So, the real question we need to ask ourselves as marketers is: ‘Do we really need the loudspeaker?’ Before we go and make supplementary requests, we need to be aware that developers can’t always control what it will do on the other end.

Now, a few days ago, someone in the SEO space made a great post about how we can go into the development tour’s part of Chrome and check how many requests from our site are actually coming from third-party scripts.  Through Chrome Dev, you can also run a site speed. You can see on a simulated test how much site speed improvement do we get from turning those off. When you do this, you’ll probably figure out just how much pain your users are feeling, not because of these extra scripts you keep adding to your site.

This is something you can also do on webpage test. You can see in side-by-side ‘film strip views’ how fast your site might get without your scripts. You can then go back and look out all the things you’ve requested on your site and clean them up.

The other thing that can be sometimes an issue with third-party scripts is when they are rendered blocking. ‘Render Blocking Scripts‘ are special. They prevent the webpage from being displayed until they are downloaded and processed themselves. They are like roadblocks that come in and say ‘Wait for me, I’m important’.  You might actually want your CSS to be rendered blocking because you don’t want your users to see a flash of unstyled text. You want them to see it the way it’s supposed to look.

But there are some other scripts we sometimes add to our sites that shouldn’t be render blocking, as they cause huge delays. Some of those are ‘A/B Testing Scripts‘.  Most A/B Testing tools will default to being rendered on the client’s side. What this means is your website says’ Hey, there’s a user here we want us to send the website test’. And then they go and get the website from the server. Then, the server comes into the browser and says ‘Hey, I’ve got the website’. The browser then edits the site. It inserts the Javascript it’s using to make changes to the site and then renders it for the user. This part can take some time to be executed.

The other option that you might have is something called ‘Server-Side Experimentation’. If you are doing A/B Testing, you want to see if this is an option for you because it can cut down substantially on load times. In this case, the experiment decisions are made. Then, when it gets sent back to the browser, the browser doesn’t have to submit extra processing time making that decision.

Another thing I want to briefly mention is that Google Tag Manager can also sometimes be rendered blocking. If you want to make sure that the decisions you are making in your GTM aren’t going to cause delays to your site, you need to make sure that not only is the Tag Manager loaded asynchronously (not render blocking) but also that all the things it’s doing aren’t  going to block render as well.

The other thing that you might come across as a marketer are these very interesting new websites entirely built with Javascript frameworks. They have fun names such as React, Angular, Amber, Preact… You might consider working with your developing team to figure out whether they should do something called ‘Client-Side Rendering‘ (CSR) or ‘Server-Side Rendering‘ (SSR).

  • Client-Side Rendering

I’d like to talk about the impact this has on loading. In a CRS situation, the servers are responsible for the browser. The browser downloads the Javascript and executes it. The whole page is now viewable and interactive.

  • Server-Side Rendering

SSR can be a little bit different.in this instance, the server is already sending some rendered HTML to the browser. The browser can then render. The browser downloads the Javascript executes it and now the page in interactive. It’s important to think about how you might perceive the SSR approach to be faster (image shows up sooner). But we have to remember that there is a potentially a delay between when the content is viewable and when the page is interactive. This means that you can get something that looks like a visually ready page but when you tap on a button, it’s actually not responding to you.

This is the problem we sometimes run into with SSR content. To solve this, we need to do something called ‘Code splitting‘, which essentially breaks out that Javascript into small pieces. This will focus on executing one piece of inactivity at a time so that we can load something much faster than that whole Javascript file.

The other things you can do are optimising for that ‘Repeat Views‘. So, if someone hits your website for the first time, there’s not a lot of things you can do to serve them. But what if they are coming back for the second time? It is possible for us to change things so that we don’t actually have to go back to the Internet every single time we want to get ‘assets‘? can we actually save that information on their device?

There’s a new technology called ‘Service Worker‘ API.  It is about to be supported in Safari and allows us to do just that. With the ‘Service Worker’, you can actually intercept those requests and store some items in your Service Worker cache. Then, if the user needs them again, we can just go to the cache. This can save a lot of repeated load time.

The last thing I want to leave with you in this section is a process called ‘Resource Hinting‘. It is using our users’ downtime to start downloading assets we know they are going to need for the next page.

So, imagine you own a business that sells cat toys and you have a giant page of cat toys. You know that at the end of that page, the user is probably going to click on your check-out page that contains a giff image. You like that image and don’t want to sacrifice it. But you think nobody is getting to my check-out page from anywhere else. They have to be on the resale cat toys page first. So, while the user is spending time browsing back, can I start to download that cat giff for the next page and just save it until they click that button? Yes, you can and that’s through something called ‘Resource Hint‘. If you can predict where the user is going to go next, you can actually start downloading assets for that next page ahead of time and save them.

7. Optimising UX – user perception

I talked about how measurements are proxy for feelings and in some cases, we may have difficulty influencing those metrics. But if we can impact the user’s feelings, that’s still ok. We may bypass the proxy but we can still read the end results., the improved conversions and engagement…

So, I want you to think about two different kinds of queues you have been in your life. There’s a queue that moves really slow and another one that moves really fast. I think about two processes.  I think about when I am at Dublin airport and have to wait for an hour and a half. There’s a painfully long process versus when I go to a restaurant in London. In fact, the quoted waiting time is the exact same in the airport and in the restaurant.

The difference is that at the restaurant they shuffle you in different places: outside, sitting down in a place inside, then going to the bar to have a drink. Then they send you to a different bar before sitting you at a table. By the time you are done, you think ‘Hey, that is really fast’. but isn’t. It’s just that you are constantly in an active state. Things are still happening. If you are still walking and moving into that queue, you feel like it gets fast, even if you are waiting just as long. You can use this same tactic when it comes to your users.

So, the next time you log into Slack, think about what Slacks does when they shuffle you through different states. When they put you in an active state, they are making you forget how long it’s actually taking for their product to load.

This is also the same principle behind skeleton screen, you get this kind of flash of something that looks like content and it changes our mind. You start thinking ‘Hey, maybe I’m ready for content now’. It gives you just that extra to time to get users into a state to make them feel they are not waiting that long. But on an even more practical level, your standard progress bars can feel slower or faster depending on how they are designed. There’s a great study with stylised different progress bars. They track users ‘ perception based on those progress bars. They found out when they animated backwards bars on the progress bars, they felt faster to users than the standard progress bars.

8. Optimising your business – priorities and process

The last thing I want to touch on is how to optimise your business for future success. It’s really important for your business that you rally everyone behind this effort.

So, that means you have to simplify your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). You must understand everything you want to measure. But what are the two KPIs that really affect your bottom line? When you associate them with money, to make sure that everybody in your organisation understands how important 200 milliseconds really means. Once you have this culture of everybody in the organisation knowing how important these 200 milliseconds are, you will find that people will start asking questions like ‘Can we afford it?

When the marketing team wants a script implemented, everybody wants to know ‘What does that do to our load time? How much is that going to cost us in users?’

When you have those situations where you can’t compromise, you have to compromise on something that isn’t performance. That can be really challenging. But ultimately when you are able to tie your performance decisions back to your bottom line, that’s something you can do. Even the BBC says that in peak use times when their servers are overloaded and things are getting incredibly slow, they are willing to sacrifice a lot of marketing features on their site for the sake of performance. Tha’s because they know that one second added is 10% of their audience.

So, I hope you can start thinking about what time can mean to you. Does it mean 300 000 $ in revenue? Does it mean 800 million £ every year in increased customer spending? How much are you leaving on the table by not investing in performance?

Finally, for those who would like to download the PDF document containing more visuals and her contact details, click on the link below:

Web performance PDF presentation

How to understand your website traffic data with Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager

I signed up for a Learn Inbound Marketing event a few months ago on Google Tag Manager data insights!

The presentation delivered by Tom Bennett is divided into 5 topics:

  1. Understand and invest in your data
  2. The challenges of engagement traffic
  3. Google Tag Manager can help us improve our data collection
  4. Smarter segmentation
  5. Work with your developers.

Since it is quite technical, I recommend you to sign up for Google Tag Manager and follow the process he is talking us through.

If you have a more audio or visual memory, you will find the podcast transcript and powerpoint presentation further in this article.

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

1. Understand and invest in your data

Google Tag Manager helps you measure success in Google Analytics.

If you take away only one thing from this evening, it’s understanding and investing in your data.

Google Analytics is designed to work well. Out of the box implementation with zero customisation, it’s very easy to set up.

But let’s be honest, ‘the one size fits all’ approach to marketing is rarely the best. Indeed, the needs of your business and the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)  of your website are unique.

Consequently, data collection is crucial for the entirety of the analysis process. It doesn’t matter:

  • how many segments you build
  • or how  many goals you define,

if you mess up your data collection, it will screw up every other stage, too. So, what the value of the insights your analytics software will give you is directly tied back to the investment you have made in data collection at first stage of the whole process.

So, today I’m going to run through few examples of how a smart implementation of Google Tag Manager (GTM) can dramatically improve the relevance and quality of the available data in Google Analytics.

There are no magic bullets, but I hope everyone here will be able to take away at least one technique they weren’t previously aware of and get some of the value from it.

2. The challenges of engagement traffic 

So, we are going to start with engagement tactics, specifically content engagement, because so many organisations are stuck trying to answer meaningless questions like ‘why is that Bounce Rate so high?’

The problem with that is that you see reports saying things like ‘Our content is really good because our sitewide’s average bounce rate is down to 10%’. But this statement is worse than misleading and is often inaccurate.

in fact, many people who use Bounce Rate as the primary KPI don’t actually understand what Bounce Rate is measuring. The effect of this is that the individuals are encouraged to fix the metric rather than the underlying problems, which are of course unique to your site.

So, let’s refresh ourselves with the definition of a Bounce Rate.

Google finds a single page session calculated as only being a single request through the analytics server. What that typically means is that a user arrives and leaves your site via a single page without doing anything on any other pages in-between.

It’s important to remember that sessions are really these fictional constructs Analytics come up with when it processes your data.

Analytics doesn’t know how long a user spends looking at a particular page. It doesn’t set any kind of timer to measure when a session started and when it ended. All it has is this raw hit data:

  • pageviews
  • events
  • transactions.

From this data, it extrapolates and builds this arbitrary notion of a session, which starts and ends after 30 minutes of inactivity (a time gap between hits, midnight or a campaign change).

Now, incidentally, this is why if you commit the sin of tagging your internal links with UTM parameters, you generally see a very high Bounce Rate on most pages. Navigation via those links will result in a new session starting.

So, in order to calculate, divide as the ‘average time on page’, it actually measures how long it takes until the next page is received. To get the session duration, it just measures the time between the first and the last ‘hit‘ in that session.

So, when it uses ‘Bounces’, GA doesn’t have enough data to generate all those metrics it reports such as average time on page, for example.

Indeed, there is no second hit it can measure against to calculate ‘time on page’, which is why it’s not a really good metric to use as your sole KPI, especially when used in aggregate. It becomes meaningless because the questions we can’t answer are substantial.

We don’t know what the user did on the page, how valuable they are to us as potential customers. We don’t even know either if:

  • the website functions properly on that device
  • they read every single word of that content and
  • they bookmarked it to come back later.

Ultimately we lack data.

3. Google Tag Manager can help us improve our data collection

A smart implementation of Google Tag Manager (GTA) is necessary.

  • CONTROLLING AND TWEAKING THE BOUNCE RATE

So, we will stick to the ‘Bounce Rate’ for a while because it demonstrates some good points. You do have control over the bounce rate calculation.

Indeed, you can control which hits will affect Bounce Rate(BR) and which don’t. To illustrate this point, this is an example of a client I recently on-boarded. They received a 0% BR on most of their pages and couldn’t figure out why.

Ultimately, what happened is the development team, which configured not just the standard page but also an ‘Event‘ that fired when all the dependent resources on the page were ready (images, skyscrapers…).

Consequently, it was impossible to have a single hit session because every page viewed was firing two hits. That’s the same principle why really bad WordPress implementations will often see low Bounce Rate because you get duplicate tracking code, i.e two hits per page.

But don’t worry, you can control which ‘events’ effect the Bounce Rate by using the ‘Non-Interaction Hit‘ Flag. You can set this very easily in GTM when you are configuring your ‘event’ tag to  ‘Non-Interaction Hit’ to ‘True’. The BR for the page, on which this ‘event’ fires will be calculated as if the event wasn’t there.

So, for example, if you absolutely have to fire an event when an auto-playing video starts, just set ‘Non-Interaction Hit’ to ‘True’ and the BR will be calculated as if our second hit wasn’t there and would be more accurate.

This idea of using ‘events’ to control our BR plays nicely into the whole idea of ‘On-page Engagement Tracking‘, in a single page new session for eg.

A lot of people started using some of GTM built-in triggers to try and manipulate the BR. For example, GTM has a ‘Timer‘ trigger and by using that, you can avoid relying on GTM arbitrary ‘time-on-page’ calculations.

But one trigger I’m really fond of is the new ‘Element Visibility‘ trigger. To illustrate my point, I picked random examples from the Learn Inbound website. Let’s say you have strategically distributed throughout your longer pieces of content ‘Calls-to-Action‘ like this email sign-up widget.

You may be interested in who is getting to that position in your content or preventing people who got that far through your guides from being counted as Bounces.

If you strategically position these kinds of elements at different positions throughout your various page types, then the ‘element visibility’ trigger can be a powerful way to take advantage of this.

So, we’ll set up a trigger now. As you can see, it lets us define an ‘event’ based on either an ID or a CSS selector. We have control over when this trigger will fire. We can set it to fire when the element is on-screen for a certain duration as your user scrolls through your content. Or it has to be visible for a certain percentage of the element in the ‘View post’. You can even control how many times it will fire if the element appears multiple times per page.

So, in this example, we use this trigger and other triggers to fire an ‘event’ when someone starts scrolling through our content. Obviously, that would be a ‘Non-Interaction Hit’ trigger, when they view the ‘call-to-action’ and then when they reach the footer.

So, by drilling down to a particular page and then viewing this kind of ‘event’ data, it can be very powerful in allowing us to get a sense of who is actually reading our content versus just bouncing immediately.

It can also be segmented by audience types and page to give us insight. This way, we can actually stir our internal linking or content strategy, based on what we learnt about which pages people are engaging with. It can be specific to your other page types. So, needless to say, it goes much further than tweaking the Bounce Rate.

  • TAILORING YOUR DATA COLLECTION METHOD AROUND THE PAGE TYPES

Your data collection method needs to be tailored not just to your business but to that different page types, the different page types of content on your site.

As an example, we are going to look at ‘Interactive Content‘. It’s an interactive piece of content marketing which lets you calculate the heating costs for their home. You can select your ‘Room Types’, ‘Sizes’ and ‘Glazing’. Then it will give you an approximate cost for heating.

Now, in a classic example of ineffective communication between marketing and developing teams, this was pushed out of the door with very little consideration given to its tracking requirements.

It is a shame because GTM is really good at letting us track high relevant interactions that would be taking place on a piece of content like this. Interactions which are very relevant to the kind of audience we are trying to appeal to with this content.

One of the best ways that allow us to do that is with the ‘Custom Event‘ trigger type. In practice, you will ask your developers to implement a piece of Javascript code into your Application. This will push an ‘Event’ to the ‘Data Layer’. All it does is provide us with something that we can listen for at the other end in GTM.

In this instance, we have touched the ‘Data Layer’.push’ in the ‘Event’  and we have pulled ‘CalculatorGo’.  To listen for this as a trigger in GTM, all we do is set up a ‘Custom Event’ trigger. Then, name the ‘Event’ that will appear in ‘Data Layer’ ‘CalculatorGo’.  We can use this to fire a Google Analytics Event Tag, so we know how many people are using interactive.

  • USING CUSTOM VARIABLES TO GET MORE GRANULAR

We want to know how people are using this content. The purpose of it is to appeal a wide audience and drive more revenue. Ultimately we want to know how people are engaging with this content we built.

So, let’s say, for example, we want to know which option uses our selecting when they use our calculator. We can supplement our ‘Data Layer’ Event with two data variables. We’ve gone from ‘Room Type’ to ‘Glazing Type’. These simply populate the ‘Data Layer’ with variables reflecting the user choices at the moment. At the moment, they hit ‘Go’.

Then, we set these as data layer variables in GTM. This means they are now available for us to use in our tags, in our Google Analytics ‘Event’ Tag, for eg.

So, here we have referenced down variables as the ‘Event’ action label respectively. This will give us relevant data about:

  • our audience
  • what they are using our interactive content for
  • and what they are looking for.

We can use this to iterate not just the layout, the functionality of the page, but also use it as the basis for guiding our content strategy or improving our lead nurturing process.

You can extend this approach a long way by using our ‘Goals’. By segmenting to a particular campaign for eg., we can then see how people are engaging with this content and analyse that in isolation.

Thanks to native ‘variable types’, we can get quite creative.

So, to keep the same example, we could set up an ‘Event’ value which fires when someone engages with our piece of content and we can set the value based on what we know about them as users.

We could come up with systems using ‘Lookup Tables’  or even ‘Custom Job Description’ running in GTM, which will assign an arbitrary value to them based on how valuable they are to us as ‘leads’. Then set this as the ‘Goal’ value in GA.

This will give us a sense of how valuable that traffic is as potential customers. So, we can see the absolute number of conversion, but also an approximation of the fair value to us as customers.

And of course, when segmented based on a particular campaign, we can start to gauge the content value of our marketing content efforts.

4. SMARTer SEGMENTATION

The last area I want to explore is using GTM to better group our content.

  • CONTENT GROUPING

For example, if we wish to segment our content strategy into different groups based on the offer, we can do that with the ‘Content Grouping’. It’s very easy to implement.

We can create the ‘Content Grouping’ at a ‘View’ Level. Then, we enable a content tracking code based implementation, and give it an ‘Index Number’ of ‘1’. Afterwards, we can set up the actual author using a ‘Data Layer’Variable’.

By using the ‘Data Layer’, you can work much more smartly. We get our development team to implement the ‘Blog Author‘ as a ‘Data Layer Variable’.

Same principle as we did earlier for our interactive content and then we can reference that in our ‘Pageview’ Tag.  Under ‘More Settings’, we can reference the ‘Data Layer Variable’ in there, so that every page you hit will fetch the account of the author from the ‘Data Layer’. Then it will fire that as the value for that ‘Content Grouping’.

As a result of this, you can view an aggregate performance of pages by particular authors and get a sense of how they perform as a whole. That’s very useful data when it comes to assessing how well your content strategy is performing.

  • CUSTOM DIMENSIONS

To segment further users, let’s look at particular groups of our audience like ‘Behaviours‘.

For example, we might decide to track users who comment on our blog. Then, view that ‘Audience’ group as a separate segment of traffic with ‘Custom Dimensions‘.

Whereas ‘Content Grouping’ allows us to organise our pages into logical groups, ‘Custom Dimensions’ let us record extra like non-standing data on top of GA standard dimensions. They are very flexible in how they let us do this as well.

Remember that every hit which goes to GA has a different scope. For eg, the ‘Pageview Hit’ has a scope limited to that page view. But ‘Landing Page‘ has a scope which applies to the whole session.

 Now, it’s the ‘User Level Scope‘ we are interested in because it lets us apply the data from that hit from the user and all of their subsequent interactions on that website.

So we set it up at the ‘Property Level’, giving 20 ‘Dimensions’ per ‘Property’. We’ll give an ‘Index number’ of ‘1’ and set the ‘Scope’ as ‘User’. So, back in GTM, we are going to fire these ‘Custom Dimensions’ as part of an ‘Event’ hit that will be launched when someone is coming on our blog.

Then under ‘More Settings’, we can set the ‘Custom Dimensions’. We will put an ‘Index number’ of ‘1’ and a ‘Dimension Value’ of ‘Commenter.

In terms of trigger, we can once again use a ‘Data Layer Event’. To run through what happened in the back of this, I user a ‘User Submitted Content’. That action will push an ‘Event’ to the ‘Data Layer’, which we are listening for in GTM.  GTM fires out a normal GA Tag ‘Event’. That hit goes on and includes a ‘Custom Dimension’, which defines the user as a commenter and that will apply to all his subsequent actions on the site as well.

As a result, we can now view the behaviour of our engaged users as a segment in GA. We can also see how they differ from our wider readership. We can use that as the primary dimension in a report to analyse the results in our funnel.

5. Work with your developers

It is important to collaborate with your development team when it comes to data collection.

It is really vital that you understand how these technologies work so that you can communicate effectively with your development team.

Google Tag Manager is kind of unique in it’s an inextricable tool for both marketers and developers. They are about tracking what users do, how valuable they are for us as customers. But Google Tag Manager is also a complex Javascript Application. You need to have a familiarity with Javascript in order to work properly with it.

The ‘Data Layer’, which kind of underpins a lot of the techniques that run today, is in international waters. If you look at the kind of data encoded into the ‘Data Layer’, its semantic information about:

  • our audience and our customers,
  • what they are doing

enforces a shared language.

A well defined and maintained ‘Data Layer’ means the data about your content and interaction that take place are accessible in a format independent of any platforms or technology. You are not reliant on scraping your HTML. You can instead make the data points you are interested in available to use.

However, you need to get your development team to implement it. Indeed, it is a very powerful tool that can easily break your website. The ‘Data Layer‘ should be regarded as a pre-requisite for good measurement.

I will give you a gift for your developers. It is the ‘Javascript Error‘ trigger tag. All it does is fire an ‘Event’ tag when the browser encounters an unquoted Javascript error.  This is normally the information only available in Javascript Console on your developers’ machine. It lets you fire an ‘Event’ whenever a user’s browser encounters an error in GA.

Thanks to the built-in variables of error messages, error URL, error line, information which the user wouldn’t be seeing, we can the fire the information to GA on real-world usability issues. Don’t forget to set that ‘Non-Interaction Hit’ to ‘True’. This will take no more than 5 minutes to implement. It will get real-world testing of your data about:

  • what’s breaking on your website
  • where
  • and for who.

You can cross-reference it with the other built-in dimensions as well, like upgrading system and browser. You can give that information to your developers, segment it by page. And you will make your website more accessible, functional. The value of the insight you can get from your analytics software is tied to the investment you make in data collection.

By demonstrating success and by unlocking the kind of actionable insights that you need, you can justify whatever it is that you are looking for:

  • bigger budgets
  • more innovative projects
  • more development time for your team
  • and ultimately whatever you need to do your job better.

For those who would like to download the Powerpoint slides containing more visuals and his contact details, click on the link below:

Google Tag Manager Insights Powerpoint presentation

How to generate business growth through Facebook advertising funnel

Facebook advertising funnel

I signed up for a Learn Inbound Marketing event a few months ago and I must say the content of the Facebook Advertising funnel presentation was outstanding! It also complements very well my previous blog post on Instagram organic and advertising growth.

Facebook Advertising funnel

This presentation delivered by Susan Wenograd is divided into 4 topics:

  1. Mistakes advertisers do with Facebook Advertising
  2. Facebook Advertising funnel
  3. Creative Ads
  4. Beyond selling: messenger and bots in a new era of service & growth.

If you prefer listening to a podcast than reading, please find the presentation recording below.

If you have a more visual memory, you will find the podcast transcript and powerpoint presentation further in this article.

PODCAST transcript

1. ADVERTISERS MISTAKES WITH FACEBOOK ADVERTISING

  • The first error advertisers do is to open an account and go straight into the conversion campaign.
  • Then, the target population told by Facebook is probably more than what you are trying to reach. I’ll explain to you what I mean. When you pick the actual targeting, for eg 1.4 million people, in reality in that pool of target audience they are not all likely to convert. Indeed, some may prefer watching videos, others engaging with your posts and a portion will convert into customers. Consequently, when you select that ‘conversion campaign’ target, you are actually selecting a very small subset of that 1.4 million people.
  • Besides, the conversion rate has the highest Cost Per Mille (see this article for more information on C.P.M). Indeed, they are the most expensive adverts you can run on Facebook.
  • Furthermore, by selecting the conversion campaign, you are trying to optimise towards the very high-value action, for which Facebook wants you to have 50 conversion events firing per ad set per week. That’s a lot!
  • In addition to the expensive adverts with limited audience data, people usually need more than one experience to buy and convert.

Remember that on Facebook, people have no idea who you are, why they should buy your stuff. So you have to convince them like pretty much in any other sales cycles. It’s different from Paid Search (SEO), where people are looking for you.

2. FACEBOOK ADVERTISING FUNNEL

Why an advertising funnel? Funnels are used in marketing and advertising to think about the long sales cycle.

The funnel follows 3 stages:

  • Awareness:
  • Consideration
  • Conversion.

So, you need to complete one stage before moving to the next when you get started with Facebook Advertising. Make sure to run one campaign at the time.

  1. Awareness: this is the lowest cost phase of them all. You use cheaper campaign types to cast a wide net and identify interested users through:
  • Video views
  • Reach
  • Website Clicks
  • Post Engagement

2. Consideration: this is when your audience is warm, has started to know you. You can use campaign types such as:

  • Website Clicks
  • Reach
  • Conversion

This time, you will measure more their reaction to your advertisement such as users who:

  • watched 10 seconds of your video
  • interacted with posts
  • submitted lead ad.

3. Conversion: this is when the audience is accustomed to you and ready to convert. During this phase, you will use retargeting strategies.

To manage complex funnel cycles, let’s use a good methodology.

3. CREATIVE AUDIT

A creative audit starts with the brainstorming of ideas for posts. For this:

  • make a list of things to offer or sell to your audience. Think about the content to repurpose. Go through the list from top to bottom. Now you have enough of content to get you started.

Facebook Advertising funnel

4. Campaign types

Let’s talk about them. Pick an asset and find a good and cheap way to run it.

  • Got videos:  Video view campaigns
  • Downloadable content: Lead ad campaigns
  • Healthy conversion data: Conversion campaigns.

5. AUDIENCES

Aligning with audiences, email list and website traffic are generally the two main ways for people to create custom audiences.  You can do so by, for eg, uploading your email list, specifying certain URLs…)., like in any other types of remarketing.

In the last year and a half or so, Facebook released ‘Engagement Audiences’. This is meant to get people to stay on Facebook and consume content within the platform. Most people don’t want to click and be re-directed to another site.

Consequently, Facebook created ways to retarget these people based on what they did on Facebook like:

  • video watching time, i.e engagement
  • lead form fill out
  • interaction with/on your page…

When you create a custom audience, you tell Facebook ‘I want you to find more people like these’, which Facebook calls ‘look alike’.

When you do that, consider how much percentage of the population you want to match to the audience you specified. If you are on a restricted budget, select a small percentage. Contrarily, if you have a large budget, pick 5+ % or more of look alike.

Then, start testing:

  • exclude people/interests or include others
  • Facebook feed or Instagram
  • mobile vs desktop

Think about what you are optimising for, so don’t pick a conversion campaign unless you have 1.5 million followers or more.

5. Return on Ad Spend (ROAS

Auto-bidding does most of the time a better job because Facebook has more data than we do and bid more strategically.

There’s a new feature rollout for e-commerce, the optimisation to value, i.e optimising return on spend. It works very well.

Don’t generalise too much about creatives. Follow these tips to get a better ROAS:

  • Video: high engagement, low conversion
  • Static image: cheap, still has a decent conversion
  • Slideshows: generally don’t do great
  • Carousels: generally get great results from them, high interaction. However, testing is crucial (ensure it picks the correct images)
  • Canvas: expensive and can be difficult to get results.

Why creative matter to your media cost?

It is because it’s highly related to ‘relevancy scores’. A relevance score measures how relevant you are to people you are targeting to. You can add it to your campaign. The higher relevance score rewards you with low media cost/spend.

Relevance scores are based on social interactions (likes, comments, shares, loves…), in other terms to the virality of your posts.

6. PRO TIPS TO GET INTERACTIONS

Start A/B test ads assigned to post IDs. If you duplicate that ID, it gives another ID number but it’s the same ad. You can cumulate social proof by ID. Stack that proof in a split test with two IDs/posts having different types of interactions.

When you create an ad. follow these steps:

  • Click on that ‘preview’ arrow and then view your Facebook post with comments.
  • Look for a URL at the top, that’s the ID you want.
  • Copy that ID to your other ad.
  • For that, you go to your other Ad set B, select ‘create an ad’
  • Click on the button for ‘use existing post’ in the post ID
  • Paste that ID there.

Now everything that cumulates on that ID will show up in every ad set that you put that ID into. It makes your social media proof stack up way faster than having to run several ads in silos. You only have to do it once. You can do the same with another ad by adding your ID.

Warning: A/B testing is hard on Facebook because:

  • you can’t have multiple ad units in the same. They will always add more relevance to video campaigns than any others. It will only select that type of campaign
  • Rotation 50/50 picks the campaign with the highest social media proof because Facebook doesn’t want people to leave their platform.

7. SOLUTIONS TO A/B TESTING ISSUE

  1. Create a split test with two different targets that do not overlap. Choose what you want to split test. The issue with split testing are:
  • it must remain within a set budget
  • the ad has to end, it can’t run continuously with your winning test ad.

2. Facebook recently invested in ‘dynamic creative’. You can add up to 5:

  • headlines
  • text
  • line ads
  • calls to action
  • videos…

It will automatically test and rotate all that for you.

Warning: It won’t tell you which is the best picture, it will only provide you with the best combination. So, you won’t know what’s the ad winner.

8. The FUTURE OF FACEBOOK ADVERTISING FEATURES

Facebook is currently running out of Advertising space in the newsfeed.

So, here are few solutions to remedy this issue:

  • Place ads in Messenger. That’s a better way to monetise.
  • The chatbot is becoming a thing for e-commerce with its automatic responses walking customers through all the way to purchase. Its virtual assistant also guides and advises people and offer a free shipping voucher at the end. Facebook, with its chatbot, is leveraging itself as a customer service platform.
  • You can also buy and sell in the ‘Marketplace’. It has a lower reach. Nonetheless, it is less crowdy and competitive. But most importantly, it’s a very cheap way to advertise as it costs only 1$ per CPM (1$ per 1000 impressions).

Keep an eye on new features as there are new things rolled out every month. I would deter you from using third-party. Indeed, the can’t keep up with what is going on.

For those who would like to download the Powerpoint slides containing more visuals and her contact details, click on the link below:

Facebook Advertising funnel Powerpoint presentation

 

How to use videos and hashtags to market your business on Instagram

As you may know, Instagram has become a strong social media network player with up to today the highest reach and engagement rate. Video marketing is also getting bigger and bigger and also shows a  high level of engagement.

So, let’s start with the different video formats and features within the application.

Instagram story

An Instagram story is an ephemeral video you share with your followers live or for a 24 hours period. Although it’s temporary, you can save your video in the app or in your mobile phone photo library to share it as a post later.

Why do Instagram stories work?

Your followers crave for new content and most importantly want to get them right away, live! So, want to give it a try and publish your live recording into your story?

To do so, let’s start setting up your story settings so that you can keep or delete them once published.

How can you set up your Instagram story, in order to save your video(s)?
  1. You need to log into Instagram and go to your profile page.
  2. Then click on the 3 little dots () at the top right-hand corner of your profile.

3. In the ‘Options’ menu, click on ‘Story settings‘ under ‘Account’.

4. You will get these options as per below screenshot. To activate an option, swipe the button next to it to right. It will create a blue button indicating you activated that option.

You will have to decide whether you want people to comment on your video(s) or disable comments. For that, you will need to tap into your chosen option to activate it. This will create a rounded-framed tick as the example below.

You may share your story on your personal Facebook account timeline as well. If you select that option, it will redirect you to log into your Facebook account app to authorise this.

Wondering where the Instagram posts are archived?

It will be archived on the app. To access these, you will need to click on the anti-clockwise quadrant at the top right-hand corner of your Instagram profile next to your profile account name.

Instagram video marketing

Are there any of your archived pictures or videos you would like to save as (semi-) permanent posts in your ‘Highlights’ section of your Instagram profile?

If so, all you need to do is:

  • click on the 3 little dots () at the top right-hand corner
  • tap the image or video you want to highlight. It will create a tick at the bottom of it.
  • Then click on ‘Next‘ at the top right-hand corner of the page.

  • After that, click on ‘Create Highlight‘.

  • Create a name for your highlight (not mandatory. Then, click on ‘Add‘ at the top right-hand corner to have it added to your profile.

Don’t like anymore your highlight?

Don’t worry, you can remove it. Just go to your profile, tap on the highlight you want to remove, click on ‘More‘ at the bottom of the screen.

Then you will have these options pop up. Click on ‘Remove Highlight‘. Et voilà!

Now that we reviewed the Story settings, let me explain to you how to create stories.
  1. Click on your profile picture to open the story option to film or take pictures.

2. You will be then presented with these options.

  • Live: if you click on this option, it will create a live video that will disappear once you end the ‘live’, unless otherwise set. Live videos can be as long as you want them to be!
  • Normal: it will create a story post which will be available to view for 24 hours. These posts will not last more than 30 seconds
  • Type: you will create a textual post viewable for 24 hours
  • Boomerang is a fast-forwarded video but will require you to download an additional application
Now, what are symbols related to?
  • The picture on the far left is representing whatever picture or video you have saved in your mobile phone photo library. If you select a video, it will only show 15 seconds of it.
  • The left-hand side flash symbol next to the rounded button is to switch on the flash
  • The arrows in a circle shape right next to the rounded button are here to decide where your camera will be pointed towards, ie either yourself or something/someone else.
  • The far-right picture of a face is to set up any embellishments, add masks, emojis or the likes
  • The big rounded button is the one you will click on to take a picture and hold onto to record a video when you select a ‘Normal’ story.
once you have recorded your picture or video in ‘NORMAL Story’, you will get these options.

At the top:

  • Sticker: you can add funny stickers to your video
  • Loudspeaker: you can adjust the volume of your video
  • Highlighting pen: you can highlight a text you added in the picture or video
  • ‘Aa’ letters: you can add text to your video or picture.

At the bottom:

  • Save: if you want to save the picture or video in your mobile phone photo library (also called camera roll) to re-post it later on Instagram or another social media site
  • Your Story: you can send your picture or video to your story to be viewed for 24 hours
  • Send to>: you can send your recording individually to any of your followers you will select

If you select ‘Live‘ story, you will get this next screen. To start your ‘live’ story, click on ‘Start Live Video’. For embellishments, you may click on the face symbol before you start your video. You also have again this setting for where to point your camera.

Once your ‘live’ story has started, you may invite someone to be part of the video by clicking on the ‘two faces’ symbol.

You can also invite one or several specific followers to watch your ‘live’ by clicking on the ‘paper plane’ symbol. Once you have finished, click on ‘End‘ at the top right-hand corner.

When your video has ended, you will be prompted to select one of these options:
  • Save: to save in your mobile phone photo library
  • Share: you can share your live video for the next 24 hours. For this, please activate the sharing option by swiping the button towards the right until it gets blue. Then click on the ‘Share‘ button.

Not happy with your live video? don’t want to share or keep it?

No problem, you can discard it! You only need to disable the sharing option by swiping the button onto the left until it is greyed out. Then click on the ‘Discard‘ button.

That’s it for the ‘live’ stories!

Instagram posts

Now, let’s move on to sharing videos and pictures as ordinary posts.
  1. To create a post, go again to your profile page and click on the rectangular framed ‘+’ button at the very bottom of your screen (centre button).

2. Then, select the photo(s) or video(s) from your camera roll (mobile phone library). Click on the relevant option. You will see other options below the preview image.

What are these optional symbols for?
  • The far left symbol representing ‘two opposite arrows’ is to select how you want the video(s) or photo(s) to appear, ie in square/portrait mode or in a landscape mode. To activate the landscape option, click on that symbol.

Normal square/portrait mode:

Landscape mode:

  • The far right symbol ‘Select Multiples’  can be used if you want to share several videos or photos in one post.
  • The other two symbols require you to download other applications. You will then tap on the videos or photos you want to share.
When you share normal posts, you need to:
  1. add a description 
  2. add hashtags in ‘caption‘ for your videos or pictures to be found by other users.

Note: you can add stickers and a hashtag to a ‘normal story’ as well.

To add a description, you just have to type your text in the ‘caption‘ area of the post. It should describe what is in the picture(s) or video(s). Keep the most important part of your description in the two first rows. The rest of the text will only appear if your reader clicks on ‘more‘.

To mention someone in the video(s) or picture(s) and this person is on Instagram, you simply type their account name in your ‘caption‘ and add a ‘@‘ sign before it.

Instagram hashtags

  1. Then in that ‘caption‘ area, type hash ‘#‘ and whatever hashtags you want your post to be found and ranked for.
  2. Unlike on Twitter, with Instagram, you can have up to 30 hashtags. The more hashtags you select, the more your posts will be viewed. However, you must ensure that you select relevant hashtags for your post. Otherwise, you will get the wrong kind of followers
  3. Keep in mind that some hashtags are banned by Instagram community guidelines, so don’t select these ones. It is often because they violate Instagram policies. Selecting them will result in your posts getting removed or worse your account suspended.
  4. When you start typing your hashtag, you will get a list of tags and the number of time the hashtags have been used. I recommend you to choose both relevant highly popular and moderately popular tags for your posts to get found. You may also create branded hashtags.

Both your description and hashtags will appear under the video(s) or image(s) you have shared. You will also see the number of views on your videos right below your video/picture.

I hope all these tips will be useful for you. Would you like to share further tips on this topic?