Ty Downing Interview

Ty Downing is one guy who walks the walk when it comes to nearly every aspect of social media.  That’s because he runs a business that manages it all.  With that in his back pocket, his involvement in Social Fresh Tampa will be one of the highlights for me.


Your Background

Ty Dowing
Mark Regan: Tell me a little about your background and how you came into your current role as CEO of SayItSocial.

Ty Downing: Well, I have been involved with internet marketing, and digital advertising going on 8 years now. I cut my teeth on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) obsessing over Google’s algorithms by sitting at the feet of Matt Cutts, and Danny Sullivan (Creator of SMX), thus slowly developing my other company “Perspective Internet Marketing” into a full-service internet marketing agency focusing on SEO, PPC,
local search, analytics & measuring site behaviors.

You could say I was an early adopter of social media in a field that mostly despised, or didn’t believe in social media (SEO’s), but I forged ahead, and in 2009 I co-founded SayItSocial, a social media consulting firm focused on corporate social media education & training, Facebook applications, social media strategy, conversation monitoring, and reputation management.

Early Adopter

Mark Regan: Your time at events/conferences must expose you to ideas and trends long before they hit the mainstream. How have you taken advantage of that?

Ty Downing: I utilize what I gain at these events by implementing them with our clients.  The only way I can keep my clients as well as SayItSocial’s reputation as a leader, we must act fast with implementation. Our field and client needs change rapidly as well as, so we take full advantage of these events.

Additionally, our team are thought leaders in social media, so we also bring new ideas to these events, for example in advance of Social Fresh, we are unveiling version 1.2 of Epicenter, a Facebook marketing CMS designed to create engaging custom Facebook landing pages with contests, lead generation, viral marketing, and loyalty programs. It’s a complete Facebook application with cutting edge technology and simplicity. We want to totally get this into mainstream quickly, it’s such an awesome tool that can help business leverage social media so much better, and measure ROI much easier.

Mark Regan: What new topic has become more frequent over the past 2-3 months?

Ty Downing: Facebook custom applications and Facebook consulting.

Personal Brand

Mark Regan: How has your experience in the business world helped you master your own personal brand marketing?

Ty Downing: That’s a good question. I think for me it’s been opposite? I say this because social media has empowered personal brands exponentially. Because of being an early adopter in social media, I mean one of the first subscribers to Twitter even, I was extremely active in marketing my personal brand with social networks, and personal videos that enabled people to “see the CEO”.

When people think of “Ty Downing” they think of SayItSocial & SEO. Obviously this is my own opinion, but I do feel this has been my personal experience.

Break It Down

Mark Regan: How do respond to clients who are jazzed about setting up their social media presence, but haven’t done some of the basics in online marketing well or at all?

Ty Downing: It’s like a golf swing. I tell them we will be “re-training” their swing, but not let them worry, that’s why they came to us in the first place. I (we) teach them simple basics before a strategy and profile building. Which tools should I use? Do I have staff & resources to have an active social media presence? So basically I ask a lot of questions, and then listen a lot!

Bonus Questions

Mark Regan: What is your favorite online marketing/social media toy of the day?

Ty Downing: Epicenter custom Facebook applications tool!

Mark Regan: Bonus: Any fun plans while you’re here in Tampa?

Ty Downing: Mark, please…please tell me the good places to eat? Any of your readers, please tell me what to see in Tampa!

UPDATE: OK Ty, here you go.

Don’t forget to invite me.

Contact

Mark Regan: Thanks Ty! I’m excited to welcome you to Tampa on February 22nd as part of Social Fresh Tampa. How can people find out more you and connect with you?

Ty Downing: You bet, lets connect on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn!

Get Paid to Drink Beer

31 Days of WOBtoberfestHERE’S AN IDEA!

Create a project where you get to drink beer every day, write it off as a company expense and have everyone think you are some smart internet guy.

Well I did just that.

In mid-September I came up with the idea to embark on a social media experiment during October.

World of Beer - WestchaseUsing a local bar, World of Beer – Westchase, and its annual beer and music festival, WOBtoberfest, as my target I created my version of a flash mob, the 31 Days of WOBtoberfest.

I went to it every day in October, sampling two different beers and blogging about it.

And no I have/had no affiliation with the bar.  I paid full price for everyone one of my beers!

THE EXPERIMENT

But the experiment was more than 2 beer reviews a day.  I extended the website with Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Vimeo, allowing me to reach different audiences in whatever manner they preferred.

The highlights were interesting and contrary to what I thought they would have been:

  • Very few people found out about it through organic search.  Those that did, quickly bounced off of the site.
  • Business Cards

    Business Cards

  • It appears the offline activities played the biggest role.  Things like talking it up, leaving business cards everywhere and working the bar and its staff played the biggest role in attracting new visitors.
  • David Meerman Scott Tweet

    David Meerman Scott Tweet

  • Even with mentions by David Meerman Scott [PHOTO] and ads on Facebook, [PHOTO] they provided little in terms of repeat visitors, email subscriptions or RSS subscriptions.
  • 31WOB Facebook Ad

    31WOB Facebook Ad

  • The two online bumps we had were tied directly to WOB’s rabid fan base.  Early on they put out a Facebook status update that spiked visitors and subscribers.  Also there were two articles in their weekly email newsletter that drove new traffic.
  • 31WOB Email Preview

    31WOB Email Preview

  • The repeat visitors were largely due to a daily email update.  With an open rate of over 54% and a click-through rate of over 30%, I would consider that a major success.

They always say “the money’s in the list”.  This was no different.  Email played the most significant role is connecting with the fans of 31 WOB!

WHAT ELSE?

  • What else should I pick apart and expose to you?
  • How do you think I should measure success?
  • Would the results have been different if there was more time in advance to build up anticipation?
  • Was the experiment just too short to achieve anything greater?

Check out some of the hard numbers from the experiments Day 31 post for a more humorous look at its success.

Visitor Insight with Site Search and Google Analytics

Site Search Google AnalyticsI don’t know about you, but I rarely use the site search box on any website.  If I’m searching, it’s on Google.

But I’m the exception.  Or if I’m in the majority, there are plenty of users who do use a website’s site search feature.

So let’s see how you can tie your site search into Google Analytics to derive some visitor insight.

Making the Connection

Site Search Configuration Options

Site Search Configuration Options - Click To Enlarge

Connecting the two is quite easy.  Presuming your site search produces a results page with the search string in the address (e.g. http://www.citrusparkdrive.com/?s=construction) you just identify that parameter (‘s’ in the previous example) to Google Analytics.

To do this go into your Analytics profile settings, edit the profile and select ‘Do Track Site Search’ and enter your search parameter.

Site Search Menu Options

Site Search Menu Options - Click to Enlarge

From then on Google Analytics will track and report on your visitors’ site searches.  That’s where the gold comes out.  From your main Google Analytics report menu on the left, choose ‘Content’, then ‘Site Search’.

The Golden Ticket

You can now track:

  • How popular is your site search feature?  [Usage Report]
    • This could be a good or bad number depending on how important you consider site search.
  • How many people were not satisfied with their first results page and did a 2nd search (refined)? [Search Terms Report]
    • What terms did these visitors have in common?
  • Which search terms caused people to leave your site? Or stay much longer than the average visitor? [Search Terms Report]
  • Which search terms result in conversions? Which resulting pages result in conversions? [Search Terms Report]
  • Which internal page prompted the most searches? [Start Pages Report]
  • What were they really looking for? [Destination Pages Report]

No Search?

If you don’t have a search tool already integrated into your website, take a look at Google’s Site Search.  It’s simple, free and easily integrated with Google Analytics

3 Powerful Conversion Rate Analyses, Courtesy of Your Web Analytics

Persuasion

Let’s pick apart three powerful conversion rates that I have been using web analytics to do deep dives with one of my customers.

Avinish Kaushik, years ago, shared his views on how to consider conversion rates and what not to do.  From his position these metrics may be too granular, but for my customer and me they are invaluable in learning more about how the website is used and what works for the visitors.

You are more than welcome to disagree, but that’s doesn’t mean they aren’t valuable!

Assumption: You have goals defined in your web analytics tool.  I use Google Analytics for this customer because they weren’t able to invest in Omniture’s SiteCatalyst.

I have micro-goals (7.0 Pages per Visit and 4.0 Minutes per Visit) as well as harder, more traditional goals (Form completions and Dynamic Phone Number Tracking) since my customer works in a B2C lead generation model where the sale is completed over the phone.

So here they are.  My 3 Powerful Conversion Rates

Blog visitor conversion rates

Using Google Analytics’ Advanced Segmentation I pulled out those visitors whose first page on their visit to our website (Content – Landing Pages in the Google Analytics world) was within our website’s blog section.   I’m showing their source/medium here for additional insight since many readers do not often get to peak into any firm’s web analytics data.

Blog Visitors Conversion Rates

These folks are interesting because the content of the blog is not lead generation material, but rather thought leadership and subject matter expertise in nature.

And as you might expect, they’ve done well on the soft goals over the past 3 months, but their conversion rate on the more important hard goals of form completions are near zero.

Keyword conversion rates

Here we are back to looking at the entire visitor population at large via web analytics.

Keyword Conversion Rates

What’s interesting here is the comparison of the soft goal conversion rates compared with the earlier example of blog visitors. You’ll notice the blog visitors were much more inclined to visit more pages and spend more time on the site than some of the search-based keyword visitors.  Note that we had no paid search going on during this window, so we are only considering organic searchers.

But you will notice that the hard conversion rates jump significantly for a handful of keywords.    It’s worth noting that 3 of the top keywords that have been blurred out are branded keywords and have higher conversion rates as expected.

That would be worth another look to see how your branded keywords perform against your non-branded keywords.  Through segmentation you could easily put those two groups side-by-side.

Mobile device conversion rates

With the recent launch of the iPad I personally like to track this conversion rate to see how it measures up against the others.

Mobile Visitors Conversion Rates

Since this customer’s site has not yet been converted/adapted for the mobile devices you can see that overall it is performing miserably with them.  Aside from the iPad and Samsung, our soft goals are near zero.

An interesting side note on these data points, those two operating systems had screen resolutions of 768×1024 and 231×264, respectively.  I find it odd that such a small resolution on the Samsung would generate high soft conversion rates.  To investigate another day.

The Missing Power Conversion Rates

I, personally, dissect conversion rates many different ways with a majority of them proving useless.  It’s not until you find that handful of enlightening views, which always differ by customer, that you take a leap forward in improving their visitor experience while also providing that conversion rate lift that your customer is constantly seeking.

But if you’re into that level of detail, combined with knowing what affects the business, you’ll get closer to that elusive title of digital strategist, marketing technologist or just plain online marketing fanatic.

Advanced Segments in Google Analytics – Examples to Get Started

Advanced Segments in Google Analytics solve a problem for me!

For all of my forward thinking in designing and tagging a client’s website to track and report on key performance indicators, inevitably there will come a need to dissect historical data prior to custom variable or profiles being implemented.

Advanced Segments Pulldown

That’s where the beauty of advanced segments (released by Google Analytics in late 2008) comes in to save the day.  This feature allows users to pull out subsets of their visitor data and view them as though they were the only data within all reports of Google Analytics.

For example, you already know from your default dashboard (shame on you for not customizing it yet for your needs, not those of the masses) what percentage of your visitors comes in directly (or through search or through referrals).  But wouldn’t it be nice to have many of the reporting tools available to you for just that advanced segment?

Google Analytics has useful predefined segments:

  • All Visits (the default  – what you’ve been viewing since Day One)
  • New Visitors
  • Returning Visitors
  • Paid Search Visitors
  • Non-paid Search Visitors
  • Search Traffic
  • Direct Traffic
  • Referral Traffic
  • Visits with Conversions
  • Mobile Traffic
  • Non-bounce traffic

These are some great advanced segments to get you started.  But the real value comes when you define your own segments tailored and personalized in a way no package could predict.

Examples from clients

Some were used one time to track down an issue or answer a single question; others are used regularly as part of my key performance indicator (KPI) strategy:

Here’s my shorthand: (Advanced Segment Friendly Name) = (syntax of the advanced segment definition)

  • Google Analytics Segments ListBlog Pages = Page starts with /blog
  • Indian Visitors = Country/Territory Matches exactly India
  • Non-Indian Visitors = Country/Territory Does not match exactly India
  • ABCkeyword = Keyword contains ABC
  • Keyword is DEF = Keyword Matches exactly DEF
  • Keyword is not DEF = Keyword Does contain DEF
  • Google Searchers = Source Matches exactly google
  • GHI LP = Landing Page Matches exactly /GHI
  • JKL conversions = Goal4 Completions Equal to 1
  • Campaign MNO = Campaign Matches exactly MNO
  • 404 Page Not Found Advanced Segment404 Reports = Page Contains /404.html
  • Visits With Site Search = Site Search Status  Matches exactly Visits With Site Search
  • Non-Customers = Page Does not match exactly /AAA/BBB
  • Non-Customers Non-Paid = Page Does not match exactly /AAA/BBB AND Medium Does not match exactly cpc
  • Firefox Browsers = Browser Matches exactly Firefox
  • Goal Completions = Goal1 Completions Greater than 0 AND Goal2 Completions…
  • Goal Starts = Goal1 Starts Greater than 0 …

BOLD ITALICS LETTERS are client-specific terms.

Each of these advanced segments can be turned on and combined with others to compare and contrast.  The power of this level of reporting is huge and should be exploited.

Once you’ve mastered Advanced Segments you’ll move to Custom Reports, Intelligence and then really get into the tagging of your visitors, events and conditions during their visits.  This will allow you to perform deep forensics and pull data and information that will drive fundamental business decisions.

Twitter Referrals and Web Analytics – A Broken Referral Link

Broken Twitter Referral Link

If you are obsessed about your web analytics or your customer’s web analytics as I am, then you may have noticed a problem where Twitter referral traffic is being recorded as direct entry traffic rather than referral traffic.

Don’t mess with my numbers, man!

I work hard to keep my numbers clean.  I do it for my sites, my employer’s sites and my customer’s sites.  Without this anal retentive attitude you cannot make higher level business decisions.  The supporting data is flawed so your assumptions are broken.

But that’s a rant for another day.  Just suffice it say that you need to constantly test your data to make sure it’s legit.


Who Can I Blame?

Web Analytics Referrals From Twitter

Here’s the problem in a nutshell. When you click from one web page to another the browser usually passes referral data to the receiving page.  That data is then recorded by your web analytics program so you can report on where your visitors arrive from.

In Google Analytics they break it down into 3 buckets initially, Direct, Search and Referral.  Now, if I tweet this blog post’s URL through Twitter, I want those click-throughs back to the site to be recorded as referrals from Twitter. Likewise when others retweet me I want them to also be recorded as referrals, not direct entries.

But the Twitter model has introduced a new presentation screen different from browsers.  HootSuite and TweetDeck are popular applications used to “dashboard” Twitter activity (along with Facebook and LinkedIn).  These applications and their tight relationship to URL shorteners, do not always pass the referral data (needed by web analytics tools) you would normally see if they had come from the twitter.com domain via a browser.

If you want the down and dirty details behind it visit Danny Sullivan’s forensic work on it.


Make The Numbers Match!

Connecting Twitter Visitors In Web Analytics

Fine.  It’s a problem.  But you need to solve it, right?

Again in a nutshell: force the referral information to be preserved as visitors click through Twitter to your website.  This is done with link tagging.

  • Using Google Analytics, we can go to their URL builder and force-tag our link before we put it into our tweet.
    • Of course that gets really painful if you tweet more than once a week.  So check out Snip-N-Tag for an inline method of adding link tagging for Google Analytics.  Pain relieved!
  • Using Omniture’s SiteCatalyst, you can create a campaign in your report suite for all of your Twitter postings.  Then append the campaign id (e.g. s_cid) to every one of your tweets.  You’ll also need to further manipulate some of your variables to ensure they’re attributed to referral traffic, but that’s beyond this post.

I always try to include link tagging on every link I place out there.  Even ones that are not destined for one of my sites.  Nothing speaks to an analytics guy or gal more than looking in their report and seeing your traffic to their site jumping off the screen with campaigns names.

I should really share that treat here!  Next week.

New Google Analytics Tag – Faster, Better, Stronger

Google AnalyticsYesterday, Google announced their new Google Analytics tag to speed up page loads that will become the default code snippet provided for profiles.  This is right in line with Google’s new obsession with page speed.

Google Analytics New Asynchronous Code Snippet

While the new Google Analytics tag is very light, if you start to add a lot of scripts to a site like I do, they start to add up.  Allowing for the asynchronous loading (separate processing) of the tag your webpages will load that much faster and therefore the code snippet will not penalize your site speed nor your visitor’s experience.

I recommend you go back to all of your Google Analytics-tagged pages and change them out to this new snippet.  Likewise, you really need to look into the load times of your webpages.  It could be hurting your rankings.

Tracking web analytics goals on all of your websites

Do you have Google Analytics installed? I really don’t want to talk to you until you have it installed!

Install Web Analytics Now

That’s what I tell my friends and family before I’ll even entertain answering a question.  And now I’m telling you that.  If you were a potential customer or a professional acquaintance maybe I’d say it a little more nicely, but I really don’t want to talk to you until you do.

You’re going to ask me why your website isn’t bringing in new business, how to better use Facebook or Twitter, how much to spend on Google AdWords or how do you get to the #1 position on Google for the term “refinance”.

Are you watching them?

Look, if you don’t have any idea how people currently using your website, what could you possibly want me to do to help you?  Anything I did would be credited to some other marketing activity and you’d feel like I wasted your time and possibly your money.

So unless you and I both know where we are starting from, then we’ll never know if anything we’re doing is working.

By the way, if you don’t know what web analytics is, then we’re even worse off.  Go read some good sources and get back to me.  It’s not that hard, but you need to understand it at a high level.

OK, now you have your analytics installed.  I now want to know if people are doing (or not doing) what you want them to do on your website.

Web Analytics GoalsI’m talking about tracking goals

Goals that you have defined as valuable to you and your website.  I’m talking about:

  • Some magical time on your website. For example: 4 minutes looking around your website.
  • Viewing at least 8 pages of your website.
  • Filling out a contact form.
  • Buying a product.
  • Signing up for your newsletter.
  • Subscribing to your website’s RSS feed.
  • Viewed your “About Me” page.

Sure, web analytics track some great metrics out of the box like:

  • unique visitors
  • pageviews
  • bounce rates
  • keywords people used to find you
  • and a whole lot more

This brings me to goal of this post: set up goals on your website now. They’re free and can always be deleted later, but you will never be able to recreate them looking back.

In Google Analytics, you can set up 20 goals in each profile and create unlimited profiles.

So create your goals now

  • If you want to measure how many visitors spent at least 4 minutes on your website, then choose a goal type of “Time on Site”google analytics goal time on site
  • If you want to measure how many people viewed at least 8 pages of your website, then choose a goal type of “Pages/Visit”google analytics goal pages per visit
  • If your visitors fill out a form, then you should have (if not, change your form tool or add the redirect) a “Thank You” page.  That page is your URL destination in the goal page of Google Analyticsgoogle analytics goal form completion
  • If you sell a product, again you have a “Confirmation” page.  Use that as your URL destination.
  • If they sign up for a newsletter, then have use the confirmation page as your URL destination.
  • If you just consider it a success to view your “About” page (who wouldn’t, right?), then use that as your URL destination.
  • If you want to track those who subscribe, it gets a little hairier.  Ideally your feed supplier will have tracking capabilities linked into that support your web analytics tool.  If not, you could create a goal around those that click on the subscribe button (knowing they may never complete the subscription) using onclick=”pageTracker._trackPageview(‘/trackrss’); Check this out for more detail.

We can talk now

Now you’re tracking not just visits to your website, but interactions with your website.  But more importantly you are creating a baseline that will allow you to measure the impact of future changes.

If you don’t know where you are today, you’ll never know if you have moved tomorrow.

OK, so now we can talk.  Now I’ll take a look around and help you with your goals.

Reputation Monitoring – 3 Levels Of Complexity

Don’t you care what people are saying about you?

Whether it’s your company name or your personal name you need to care online.  In the old world people could speak highly or poorly of you without you ever knowing.  You would  just see sales drop or friends would stop calling.  Now, though, customers and friends are making those remarks online.
You need to start listening!

Level 1: Google Alerts

This everyone’s introduction to reputation monitoring – Google Alerts.  With no cost and no maintenance, you can easily track all types of keywords and phrases real-time (soft of) as they join to noise of the Internet.  One disadvantage is its lack of filtering.  For example I have an alert set for “coast dental” where I work.  But I continually get alerts for “east coast dental”, “west coast dental” and “gold coast dental”.  That’s noise to me.

Level 2: RSS/Subscribes/Feeds

While Google tries to be all encompassing with Alerts, it just doesn’t hit them all currently.  When you’re ready to track Twitter and blogs more thoroughly, then monitoring pre-defined RSS feeds is your next step. By searching various properties you can then subscribe to the search results.  Using Microsoft Outlook or Google Reader you can then receive an update each time there is a new result for that search query.  For example, I have RSS feed searches on search.twitter.com and blogsearch.google.com.

Level 3: Dedicated Services

While you could deploy the first two levels with no cash outlay, Level 3 may require money.  Using free services like Trackur.com or pay services like Radian 6 you gain tools that are dedicated and designed for not only reputation monitoring, but also reputation management.  For example, Radian 6 provides a workflow solution for tracking issues as you hand them off within your company.

Get Started – It’s Free!

No matter where you want to jump into the monitoring ring, just don’t waste any time.  Level 1’s Google Alerts should be done by everyone.  Heck, you should at least have an alert on your name.

While we’re on the topic of monitoring our name, maybe you could help me out in my mission to capture the #1 position for Mark Regan

Once you’ve mastered reputation monitoring you’ll be ready for the next step: reputation management.