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Passive Consumption + Active Engagement FTW!

passive_consumption

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Today something complex, advanced, that is most applicable to those who are at the edges of spending money, and thus have an intricate web of internal and external teams to deliver customer engagement and business success.

The Marketing Industrial Empire is made up of number of components.

If you consider the largest pieces, there is the internal (you, the company) and the external (agencies, consultants).

If you consider entities, you’ve got your media agency, your creative agency, your various advertising agencies, your website and retail store teams, your analysts, marketers, advertising experts, the UX teams, campaign analysts, fulfillment folks, the data analysts who are scattered throughout the aforementioned entities, the CMO, CFO, and hopefully your CEO. And I’m only talking about the small portion of your existence that is your marketing and analytics.

Whether you consider the large, simplistic perspective (internal – external) or the more complex entity view, it’s really easy to see how things can become siloed very quickly.

It’s so easy for each little piece (you!) to solve for your little piece and optimize for a local maxima. You win (bonus/promotion/award). It is rare that your company wins in these siloed existence.

That’s simply because silos don’t promote consideration of all the variables at play for the business. They don’t result in taking the entire business strategy or the complete customer journey. Mining a cubic zirconia is celebrated as if it is a diamond.

Heartbreakingly, this is very common at large and extra-large sized companies. (This happens a lot less at small companies because of how easily death comes with a local maxima focus.)

So how can you avoid this? How do you encourage broader, more out-of-the-box thinking?

This might seem simplistic, but sometimes it helps to give things names. Naming things clarifies, frames, and when done well it exposes the gaps in our thinking.

Today, I want to name two of the most common silos in large and extra-large companies, in the hope that it’ll force you to see them and subsequently abandon siloed thinking and solve for a global maxima.

Name abstract ideas, draw pictures, deepen appreciation, take action.

Could not be simpler, right? 🙂

Let’s go!

The Advertising Ecosystem: Passive Consumption.

I’m randomly going to use Geico as an illustrative example because the frequency at which they are buying ads means that every human, animal, and potted plant in the United States has seen a Geico commercial at least once in the last 6 hours (contributing to Geico’s business success).

Typically the ads we see are the result of the external creative and media agencies, and their partners in the internal company team/s.

Geico purchases every kind of ad: TV spots, radio ads, billboards (OOH), digital displays (video, online,– social media), print (magazines, newspaper, your cousin’s Christmas letter), and so much more.

The teams naturally gravitate towards optimization and measurement that spans their individual mini-universes.

Was that a great ad? Can we test different spending levels in that market? What is the best way to get people to remember the delightful gecko? Can we automate the placement of display ads based on desired psychographics?

Did we get the TRPs that we were shooting for? What was the change in awareness and consideration? What was the reach/frequency for the Washington Post? How many impressions did our Twitter ads get, and how many people were exposed to our billboards?

These are important questions facets of, and delivery optimization of, the advertising. Questions like these, and adjacent others, tend to drive the entire lives of creative and media agencies/teams. For entirely understandable reasons. Siloed incentives delivering siloed local maxima results.

I cannot stress enough that these results can be positive (for the ad business and, in this case, the sales of insurance products). And yet, as a global maxima person it does not take a whole lot of effort to see a whole lot of opportunity if both the siloed incentives can siloed execution implied by the above questions can be changed.

Here’s an incredible simple way that every human seeking global maxima can look beyond the silo: “So, what happens after?

As in, what happens after the finite confines that are the scope of my responsibility/view?

To see that, the first step is to paint a picture that illustrates the current purpose (your silo), and then give it a name.

Here’s that picture for the example we are using, and the name I gave it is “passive consumption.”

passive_consumption

Over 90% of advertising is passive consumption. This means that the ad is in front of the human and they may see it or not see it.

Even on the platforms where interactivity is at its very core (Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, etc.), almost all of the advertising does not elicit any sort of interactivity. If you look at the percentages, almost no one clicks on banner ads, a small percentage on search ads, and you need only speak with a few people around you to see how many people actively engage with TV ads vs. run to the bathroom or pull out their mobile phone the moment forced-watch TV ads come on.

Keep in mind, this is not a ding against passive consumption or the hard work done by Geico’s agency and internal teams. Blasting ads on TV does cause a teeny tiny micro percentage to buy insurance – a fact provable via Matched Market Tests, Media Mix Models. The teeny tiny micro infinitesimally small number of views of brand display ads will cause outcomes. (Hold this thought, we’ll come back to that in a moment.)

So, what is the passive consumption challenge?

First, how far the vision of the creative and media agencies/teams will see (thus limiting success – global maxima). Second, trapped in the silo the vision for what will be measured and deemed as success.

The first is heartbreaking. The second ensures the death of any long-term impact.

Let me explain.

With over 90% passive consumption…. Well, passive… Smart media and advertising agencies/teams will primarily use post-exposure surveys to measure awareness (what companies provide car insurance) and consideration (which brands you would consider).

The brilliant agencies will also measure elements such as purchase intent (how likely it is that you’ll consider Geico as your next car insurance provider) and likelihood to recommend (how likely is it that you’ll recommend Geico to your family and friends).

All of these metrics will cause surveys to be sent via various mediums to people who’ve seen the TV ads, the banners on Facebook, and the video ads on YouTube. And a subset of users who were not exposed to the ads. Usually, there is anywhere between a few hundred to a thousand survey responses that will end up providing a statistically significant sample.

The scores from these responses are presented in weekly, monthly, or quarterly meetings. Segmented by marketing activity, they are the end-all be-all justification for media spending. Snapchat increased aided awareness by +23%, let us spend more there. Or, billboards in Georgetown and Austin shifted purchase intent by +2%, we should triple our spend in Chicago.

Every measurement and optimization initiative is based on this cocktail of metrics. Thus delivering a positive, but local, maxima.

Even the next best innovation in media will be based on results from the same metrics cocktail. Thus delivering a little more positive, but still local, maxima.

Why not global maxima?

Because success is determined by, innovation is driven by, measurement that is self-reported feelings.

That name captures the actual thing that is being measured (feelings) by the metrics above, and where the data comes from (self-reported) after being exposed to our advertising.

This will help your company, your agencies, understand limits. Limits in terms of what’s happening (mostly, passive consumption) and what data we are looking at (all post-exposure and self-reported).

Limits in measurement that incentivize solving for a local maxima.

Let me repeat one more time. Passive consumption measured by self-reported feelings does drive some success – else Geico would not be the financial success it is. In the short-term some campaigns are trying to drive long-term brand influence or causing a shift in public opinion or simply to remind people your brand still exists as a choice. All good. Self-reported feelings are wonderful. Appreciate that even in those cases where you are not trying to drive short-term sales, if all you have are feelings converted into metrics… You are limiting imagination.

An obsession with just passive consumption by your agencies and internal teams delivers 18 points of success. I’m saying if you think global maxima, remove limits, you can do 88 points!

The Business Ecosystem: Active Engagement.

Getting those additional 70 points success requires breaking the self-imposed creative/media/advertising silo and caring about the human behavior if people lean-in instead of passive consumption – when they take an action (a click, a phone call, a store visit).

Time to draw another picture, and give this behavior a name.

I call it… drum roll please… Active Engagement!

active_engagement

Some people, between 0.01% to 10% (so rare!), who see Geico’s online ads will visit a Geico retail store or Geico’s website.

People are actually doing something. They are walking into your store, talking to an agent, picking up the literature, calling you on the phone, clicking on to your site, watching videos, comparison shopping, and more. This is all human behavior that your tools can report for you.

A small percentage will end up buying insurance – mazel tov! –, providing perhaps the most valuable data.

The lucky thing about active engagement is that, in addition to self-reported feelings, you also get tons of highly-useful quantitative data representing human behavior.

I call this type of data: Observed Human Behavior.

If you are a part of an creative, media, or an internal company team, you have two powerful issues you can solve for: passive consumption (happens most of the time) AND active engagement (happens some of the time).

Likewise, you can seek to understand performance using self-reported data where the people reflect on how they feel, along with behavior data that represents what they actually do.

The combination of these two factors deliver the much needed Global Maxima perspective.

That is how you shatter silos. The creative agency has to care about how ads perform in their labs, in the real world, and what kind of online and offline behavior the creative is driving (end-to-end baby!). The media agency has to care about the creative and where it needs to get delivered (recency, frequency FTW!), and the bounce rate (70% ouch, 30% hurray!) and profit from each campaign. The retail experience team, the call center delight team, and the site experience team will break their silo and reach back into understanding the self-reported feelings data from the media agencies and the ideas that lead to the creative that delivered a human to them.

Everyone cares about the before and after, solving for the overall business rather than their little silo. Passive consumption plus active engagement equals global maxima. Or, self-reported feelings plus observed human behavior equals global maxima.

: )

Here’s a massively underappreciated benefit: It also encourages every employee – internal and external – to take full credit for their impact on the short and long-term effects of their effort.

It is rare to see this happen in real life, even at top American and European companies.

What’s usual is to see the three silos between creative agencies, media agencies, and company internal team. There is usually further sub-segmentation into passive consumption teams (also lovingly referred as brand agencies/advertisers) and active engagement teams (performance agencies/advertisers). The further sub-sub-segmentation into products and services (depending on the company).

They then quickly fall into their respective measurement silos, solving for the local maxima.

Change starts with naming things and drawing pictures. Gather the key leaders at your company and agency partners. Show them passive consumption and self-reported feelings along with active engagement and observed human behavior. Talk through the implications of each picture. Ask this influential audience: What can you contribute to when it comes to breaking silos?

I have yet to meet a single company where simply drawing the picture did not result in a dramatic rethinking of focus areas, responsibilities, and ultimately priorities.

Accelerating Success: Five Quick Changes.

Once you have that discussion, what should you do to truly cause a significant change in behavior?

Five Es form the core of the strategies that I end up using (please share your’s via comments below). They are:

1. Expand the scope of data your employees use.

For the people who buy your television ads, include both store and website traffic data. Break the shackles of GRPs and Frequency.

For people buying your display ads on Facebook, include page depth, bounce rate, as well as micro-conversion rates for those campaigns. Break the shackles Awareness and Views.

For people buying your videos ads on Hulu, complement Hulu’s self-reported feelings metrics with user behavior and conversion rates.

And continue going in this fashion.

2. Expand the incentives structures for your employees.

Most marketing employees, both internal and external, undertaking passive consumption initiatives are rewarded for cost per TRP, effective reach, awareness and consideration increases, etc. Whatever this bucket as an employee incentive, it can stay.

Consider adding one or two KPIs from active engagement. For example: Store visits, phone calls (as a result of that increase in consideration). Website visits, loyalty, micro-outcomes, and 25 other easily-available observed human behavior metrics are available to you pretty much in real-time.

For people who own responsibility for your stores, call center and website, take a metric or two from passive consumption and make it a small part of their incentive structure.

People respond to what they are compensated with, or promoted for. Use it to solve for a global maxima in the company and its customers.

3. Expand the time horizon for success.

This is really hard.

You buy 100 TRPs, it’s expensive, and the executives tend to start badgering you for immediate results.

The problem is that self-reported feelings data takes time, and since at least 90% of passive consumption leads to no immediate active engagement, all this does is incentivize bad behavior by your agencies and employees. Long-term objectives are thrown onto the chopping block and long-term strategies are judged on short-term success – which immediately ruins the campaign’s measurement. Oh and the audience being bombarded by your ads that are trying to deliver short-term outcomes from long-term creative and campaigns… They despise you because you are sucking, they can see that, and they instantly realize your are wasting their time.

No matter how much your wish, a Chicken won’t birth a Lion’s cub.

If you want short-term success, define the clearly as a goal, pick the right short-term self-reported feelings metric and observed behavior metric, now unleash your creative agency and their ideas (on that short-term horizon), then plead with your media agency to buy optimal placements, and ensure the retail/phone/web experience is not some soft and fuzzy experience, rather it is tied to that clear goal and success metrics. Sit back. Win.

If you want long-term success… Same as above, replace short with long. How amazing is that?

4. Expand the datasets that teach your smart algorithms.

If you’ve only visited this blog once in the last 12 months, or read just one edition of my truly amazing newsletter 🙂, Marketing <> Analytics Intersect, it is quite likely I have infected you with the passion to start investing in machine learning in order to bring smart automation to your marketing and user-experience initiatives.

If you are following my advice, make absolutely sure that you are not training your algorithms based solely on passive consumption, self-reported feelings data. It is necessary, but not sufficient.

Rich observed behavior data will provide your algorithm the same broad view of success as we are trying to provide the humans in #2 above. In fact, the algorithms can ingest way more data and complexity. Thus allowing them to solve for a super-global maxima compared to our humble abilities.

Every algorithm is only as smart as the data you use to educate it. Don’t short-change the algorithm.

5. Expand leadership comfort level with ambiguity.

For your TV efforts, there are limits to what you can measure. You have self-reported feelings data, and usually that’s about it. If you have a sophisticated world-class measurement team, you may be running some controlled experiments to measure one or two elements of active engagement observed human behavior data.

For YouTube or Hulu on the other hand, you’ll have additional self-reported feelings data, and if you follow my advice today, plenty of directly-causal observed human behavior data at your disposal.

Get very comfortable with this reality, and execute accordingly.

When some executives are not comfortable with this reality, they typically end up gravitating towards the lowest common denominator. Even in regards to strategies where more is possible (digital), they just end up using self-reported feelings data for everything.

I do understand why this is; executives are pressed for time, so the executive dashboard needs only one metric they can compare across initiatives. This instantly dumbs-down the intelligence that could help contribute to smarter decisions.

Kindly explain this to your executives, share with them the value of being comfortable with a little ambiguity that comes from using the best metric for each initiative type.

We can achieve smarter global maxima decisions if we just use different metrics in some instances.

Closing Thoughts.

The larger the company, the harder it is to solve for a global maxima. Companies need command and control. Companies worry that people are going to run wild in 15 different directions. Companies need to reward an individual, that means creating a finite role that can be defined and measured at a small level. Companies add layers upon layers to manage. Companies create org clusters (divisions). And, more.

Every one of these actions forces a local maxima. Every human can see their few pixels and have no idea what the image looks like.

Even if then the company progresses little by little, they’ll run out of luck one day. Worse some nimble small company – that does not yet have to worry about all of the above – will come eat your breakfast first, then dinner and then lunch.

The lesson in this post applies across the entire business, even if in this instance it is applied to marketing and advertising.

Paint a picture of what the local maxima execution looks like in your division – or better still company. Give these pieces a name. Then, figure out, like I’ve done above, what the connective tissue is that’ll incentivize global maxima thinking and execution.

Carpe diem!

As always, it is your turn now.

In your specific role, are you solving for the global maxima or a local maxima? How about your creative and media agencies? Your internal marketing or product teams? Has your company done something special to ensure that teams are considering both self-reported feelings and observed human behavior? Is there a magic metric you feel that’ll encourage each piece of the business success puzzle to solve for a global maxima?

Please share your wisdom, tips and secrets to success via comments below.

Thank you.



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The Secret to Making Employee Advocacy Work

The Secret to Making Employee Advocacy Work

Does your company empower its employees to act as brand ambassadors on social media? Isn’t it about time?

The movement, known widely as “employee advocacy,” has gained great momentum in recent years. Companies that choose not to embrace it miss out on tremendous opportunities to amplify their messages, increase the authenticity of those messages, and better rally their employees around the pursuit of the brand’s vision.

Roope Heinilä is a respected industry leader who’s been spreading the “employee advocacy” gospel for years. He’s the CEO of Smarp, an app that powers employee communication, advocacy, and engagement programs. Roope agreed to talk to me about employee advocacy and offer tips for making it work. You’ll learn a lot about this important topic in the 10-minute interview below and a transcribed version of the interview that follows.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RA9cZXtlxU0?rel=0&showinfo=0]

What Employee Advocacy Means in 2017

Barry: What is employee advocacy?

Roope: Employee advocacy at its core is about employees promoting the brand that they work for. It’s pretty much about turning employees into brand ambassadors for their employers.

Of course, employee advocacy as a concept has been around for ages, but with the advent of social media, employees’ ability to affect a large amount of people has really gone up quite a bit. Now they’re able to affect hundreds, if not thousands.

Barry: I’ve gathered that a marketing department taking up social media all by itself is often too small of an effort. Is employee advocacy a way to amplify the company’s messages?

Roope:  If you think about social media—any of the networks, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.—they’ve all really been built with the relationship between people at its core.

Facebook was not built to connect companies and people to each other—it was built to connect people. What employee advocacy does is it allows companies to tap into that connection that people have and to actually humanize their brands that way and really utilize the core elements of the social network for both the personal benefit of the employee and for a business benefit.

Barry: Making the company’s voice louder and increasing reach is one benefit, but are there others?

Roope: Yeah, it definitely shouldn’t be just about increasing our reach. More important than reach is the authenticity.

If you think about it from a personal perspective, which one do you trust more: a message coming from a friend or a message coming from a brand? In addition to just getting the authenticity there, you’re also able to engage your employees and really make them be part of the brand, so that brand is shaped by the employees, not the other way around.

This is very much a core part of employee advocacy. It’s about getting your employees to be your brand. And that impacts not only marketing, but it impacts communications—even HR—through better employer branding, recruiting, and, most importantly, it impacts the engagement that your employees actually have with the brand. Through an employee advocacy program, they become more engaged through engaging with branded content—actually understanding what the company stands for, understanding its mission, its vision, its future.

Barry: That’s interesting. It’s sort of a morale builder.

Roope: Yeah. Today’s companies are pretty much people and laptops. The only thing of value is the people in the company. If you think about it that way, you should really be getting those people to be your brand. No matter what you do, they will be a part of it.


A brand should be shaped by its employees, not the other way around.
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Barry: So I buy in. I have, let’s say, a mid-sized company, and I love the idea of having advocates across the company. What are my challenges for getting started?

Roope: First off, you’ve got to rethink the whole concept. Instead of thinking about what I was just talking about from brand perspective, think about it from an individual employee’s perspective.

Why would you, as an employee, want to take part in employee advocacy? That’s where your own professional branding, personal branding, increasing your awareness in your networks, as well as furthering your own career comes in.

The first challenge and the biggest challenge is always getting employees on board. The way you do that is by actually making the whole employee advocacy program be employees-first, which means that from a company’s perspective, first off think about, how does this help my employees become better at what they do, and how does this help their careers?

Barry: The people that you are trying to onboard—are they bound to be 100 percent willing?

Roope: You should only aim for the willing ones. There are many ways of doing it. We’ve seen companies start with large amounts of people, and we’ve seen companies start small. Both of those have their ups and downs, but the key thing in both of them is that it has to be completely voluntary participation. Otherwise, when you’re trying to boost engagement, when you’re trying to turn your employees into brand ambassadors, you might be doing the exact opposite.

Barry: No twisting arms?

Roope: That doesn’t work. You might get some short-term benefits, but in the long term, you’re just going to be hurting your company. You should still provide everybody the opportunity to become advocates, provide the training that’s needed, and also, probably most important from the company’s perspective, recognize the people who choose to be advocates.

Barry: It makes me think of an ironic mind shift, because here management is making some decisions to put a program in place and train people and onboard people, whereas just a few years back, it seemed like the executive suite would have walked up and down “cubicle row” going, “What are you doing on Facebook? Get back to work.” So is there a mind shift taking place in terms of attitudes about social media?

Roope: When we started out in 2011 and we went to pitch companies talking about employees and social, the usual response we got it was, “Yes, will you be able to provide us with the software that blocks social media completely?”

Luckily, a shift has happened over the last five years, where companies are now seeing social and their own employees much more as an opportunity than a threat. To me, it’s very weird that companies have been willing to hand their brands over to celebrities, to brand ambassadors, to customers, but not to their own employees before. How can you trust your customers, trust professional advocators, trust athletes, etc., with your brand if you’re not going to trust the people who created that?

Sustaining Employee Advocacy

Barry: I’ve asked you some questions about how to get started. What happens next in an employee advocacy program?

Roope: Hopefully you will have been able to engage your employees in the program. You’ll have a lot of employees sharing, creating your messages, really staying up-to-date on all the latest company news. I believe the next stage is that, instead of just providing them the news, providing them the content, that we engage our employees in curating that content.

I believe the knowledge in companies does not just come from the communications department or the marketing department. It comes from the actual employees working in product development, working in sales, working in any of the core functions in your company. If companies are truly shaped by their employees, that shaping should not be limited to employees just “parroting” your marketing messages, but becoming a part of creating them.

Recommended Marketing Podcasts: Week of October 23rd

Recommended Marketing Podcasts Week of October 23rd

Podcasts are a great way to educate yourself. Whether you’re on the train, in the car, at your desk, or anywhere in between, this medium is an incredible vehicle for supplementing your industry knowledge. Every week, I’ll be sharing with you a round-up of some of the best marketing podcast episodes you can find, spanning the entirety of the marketing landscape.

Whether you’re new to podcasts or you’re a seasoned listener, I know you’ll find value in each weekly round-up. Let’s get listening, shall we?

Duct Tape Marketing PodcastDuct Tape Marketing Podcast: Traditional PR is Still a Fabulous Way to Stand Out

In a world dominated by social media, PR is often misunderstood and therefore underutilized. Small business marketing expert John Jantsch recognizes this and wants to make sure his listeners know how to take advantage of valuable press coverage. In this episode, Media Maven founder Christina Nicholson walks John and the rest of us through the wild world of press pitching and what steps are needed to be successful—all in under 20 minutes!

Takeaway: Reporting staffs are stretched thin and don’t have the bandwidth to chase stories like they once did. Christina recommends providing everything a reporter could ever dream of on a silver platter, including video and photography. The more complete the pitch, the more likely your story will be published. One of the best takeaways from this episode is to always position yourself (or your client) as an expert. Reporters are far more likely to contact experts for a story they’re writing than other professionals in the industry they might know, so market yourself appropriately!


When pitching reporters, always position yourself (or your client) as an expert.
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Marketing Over CoffeeMarketing Over Coffee: Now with More Animojis!

If you haven’t heard, Apple released the iPhone 8 a few weeks ago and no one really cares. Well, that’s an exaggeration, but the hype is more for the iPhone X, the other device that was announced last month. In their latest episode, authors, speakers, and marketing leaders John Wall (EventHero) and Christopher Penn (SHIFT Communications) discuss the new capabilities phones like the X will usher in for the marketplace, including an interesting take on how parents can encourage their children to use Animojis when communicating online.

Takeaways: Outside of the animal faces, Wall and Penn talk about IKEA’s new VR initiative to “show” how products would look in your home, Amazon’s brilliant Polly Text to Speech tool (which apparently is advanced enough for podcast-level audio!), and the ramifications of Facebook’s crackdown on hate speech. These two gentlemen have been partners on Marketing Over Coffee for a long time, and if you aren’t already subscribed to the show, it’s 100 percent worthy of the precious space on your phone. Christopher Penn is one of the smartest people, let alone marketers, I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, while John Wall owns one of the best podcasting voices you’ll ever hear. This duo brings information and insights you’ll only find here, so it’s definitely in your best interest to pay attention when these two publish.

AskPatAskPat 0973: How Do I Generate Leads in a Saturated Market?

Creating leads is a tough job. Not only do you need to generate traffic to your site, but you then need to convince visitors to convert by sharing additional information. That’s a lot of commitment from someone who just might not be ready! Fortunately, we know that Smart Passive Income’s Pat Flynn is one of the best in the biz to ask when it comes to executing against consumer behavior. In this short, seven-minute episode of AskPat, we learn exactly how Flynn works his magic and succeeds in even heavily crowded markets.

Takeaways: Pat suggests leveraging the ACE formula (Access, Convenience, Exclusivity) for getting people to take the action you’re seeking. Access means offering access to you, whether it’s through hosting a webinar, holding office hours, or simply being more transparent via specific social channels. Convenience means saving people time, whether it’s through compiling an ebook of all your blog posts or some other relevant content aggregation, or offering value by saving your audience the hassle of trying to navigate your entire website for the info they want. Finally, Exclusivity is content that is reserved only for those who provide additional value (i.e. your customer receives meatier information and you receive their email). Armed with the ACE formula, we now have no excuses for generating qualified leads—let the good times begin!

That’s all for this edition! I’ll be back with a new batch next week. In the meantime, share any podcasts you think I should know about in the comments!

How to Build and Retain the Perfect Project Team

How to Build and Retain the Perfect Project Team

As the owner of a consulting company, one of my favorite things to talk about is how to navigate from, “I need a team” to, “I just hired my dream candidate” to, “Let’s get this relationship built” to, “Time to get some work started!” to, “Let’s keep this machine running well.”

That’s because, in professional services, your people are your product, meaning your people are also your profit. Building the right team and retaining top talent are two of the most important aspects of running a profitable consulting company.

After years of experience building powerhouse teams, this is the process I have discovered to be the most successful at finding the right players and setting them up for success.

Build the Strongest Team Possible

In an industry where your people are your product, there is nothing more important than having the strongest team possible. I always put the emphasis on the word “possible” because we would all love to hire the best of the best, but we don’t always have the financial or creative means to do so.

We have to focus on hiring the best we can afford at the time, and sometimes building the perfect roster can be more difficult than it seems.

The market is flooded with qualified (and unqualified) candidates, and finding the right one can feel a lot like finding a needle in a haystack. So instead of the traditional method of one-on-one interviews with a checklist, I have found success in building my teams by looking beyond the resume.

Anyone can copy and paste a job description, so focus on things like how they will fit into the company culture, how they will interact with your established team, if they understand your leadership model, and what motivates them. Take candidates out of their comfort zone with group interviews, have multiple team members interview them, ask for their track record or examples of previous work, and don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions. A qualified candidate will be able to fit in well, articulate their skill sets, and clearly demonstrate the value they would bring to your company, even under pressure.

I always advocate for focusing on three primary areas when hiring new staff. One is your interview process. It will evolve over time—you just need to have one. It doesn’t have to be great, but I do recommend you spend a little time thinking through it. A good interview process can save you time, money, and a lot of headaches. We have refined our interview process over the years and will continue to do so. Right now, we have a three-step interview process that is designed to narrow down the candidate pool at each step.

An interviewee’s first interaction is with an administrative person, who conducts a short, 30-minute or less phone interview asking the interviewee a prescribed set of questions. These questions are designed to eliminate interviewees that have not done any research on our company or the job position. This step also establishes a cultural fit baseline through some fun and pointed questions.

If the interviewee gets through the first step, they move on to a virtual/video interview (or in-office, pending location) with a technical team member. This step in the process tests the candidate’s technical knowledge and their ability to solve real problems with little time. It also involves another set of cultural questions. This process has taken 60 minutes in the past, and we continue to refine it with the intention of capping it at 45 minutes.

The last step in the process, pending the candidate gets that far, is a face-to-face interview with me. In most cases, I have a pretty good idea as to who I am talking to and what a few of the team members think about the interviewee. It’s my job to determine a few things, including cultural fit, long-term expectations, and whether or not I can work with them day in and day out. Overall, this process has done very, very well for us.

Interview questions are the second area you will want to focus on. You can search online for interview questions all day and find the same boring, overused questions. I tend to shake things up a bit and really find out who I’m talking to. In our interview process, we ask a lot of open-ended questions, the type of questions the interviewee doesn’t necessarily practice.

We also ask the salary question first. This helps set the stage for the rest of the interview. In my experience, one of two things will happen: Either the interviewee has thought about it and has a number and some sort of justification or they are afraid to talk about it upfront.

Personally, I prefer the interviewee that knows what they want and has at least put the time into understanding their justification. This is not to say they will get what they ask for, but just the awareness and preparedness is key for me. Also, by asking this question first, you will get a good understanding of their personality and whether or not they are even in the ballpark of what you have to offer.

Here are a few of our interview questions:

  • Why are you leaving your current company?
  • What does it mean to be coachable?
  • Give me an example of something you weren’t sure about or didn’t agree with. (Note: The key component is to try on something they didn’t know and give it a real chance.)
  • What does teamwork mean to you? What does that look like?
  • Why do you think you want to work here?
  • Are you familiar with the characters in Winnie the Pooh? Which character most likely depicts your attitude/nature?

Last, but certainly not least, is interview scoring. I was introduced to interview scoring some time ago and think it can be the key to truly effective hiring. We try to measure everything that matters, including the quality and fit of potential new hires.

For every new job opening, we create a decision model with categories and scores. I find this is the most efficient way of evaluating the things that matter when it comes to our culture. With each category comes questions which determine the interviewee’s score. I usually have a minimum of two current employees score each candidate, and we take the average of the internal scores.

At the end of the day, we end up with numbers and not opinions, and it really creates a sense of community and communication among the current team.

Here are a few of the categories we use:

  • Coachable
  • Attitude
  • Sense of humor
  • How are they motivated
  • Capable of multiple roles
  • Think on their feet
  • Awareness of strengths/weaknesses

Once you’ve built your project team, it’s time to bring them together and get them established, grounded, and ready to rock-and-roll. Below are some tips to guarantee a well-prepared team.

Iron Out All Wrinkles in Your Onboarding System

Consider onboarding as the foundation for a house: You can’t expect it to be sturdy and reliable if it doesn’t have a solid base. It’s the same for an employee: An untrained and poorly onboarded employee is being set up to let you down.

For the smoothest onboarding process, offer a good amount of training on how your business operates internally (what tools you use, how you collaborate, what happens when someone needs help), set clear standards for the work environment (dress code, usual working hours, times when they should be focused on internal activities rather than billable client work), establish benchmarks for regular evaluation (I don’t believe in semi-annual or annual review—too much happens in between—and prefer a checkpoint at 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days, then every 90 days after that), keep the door for questions, and most importantly, be direct with expectations and have patience as they learn your ways.

And always remember, you can’t reprimand someone for crossing a boundary that you never set.

Have three checklists already created, one for each checkpoint. The 30-day checkpoint will look different than the 60, and the 60-day will look different from the 90-day. Make sure to show the new employee the checklist so they know what is expected of them. There are no right or wrong items to put on the checklist; it just needs to be visible and appropriate for the time period.

By creating this checklist, you may also find that your process and information sharing needs a bit of work. That’s a good thing; that means this part of your process is evolving and maturing!

Educate and Empower Your Project Manager

The billable resources that compose a great amount of your team are the power behind the project. Without them, nothing would get done, but they can also take up a lot of time. Inevitably they will require some management and support, and that’s where your project manager steps in.

I was responsible for managing projects before opening my own company, and I know that it is crucial your project manager is educated on the requirements of the project and the needs of the client. The project manager needs total visibility into resource and project progress and needs to feel in complete control.

Here are a few ways we empower project managers:

  • All project managers approve billable resource time and are accountable for having that time be submitted and approved on time.
  • Each project manager has insight into invoicing and are accountable for ensuring accuracy and timeliness.
  • All project managers also meet with leadership once a week, for no more than 60 minutes, where they have an open forum to talk about project issues and risks and ask for help solving project- or resource-related problems.

Integrate Every Department of the Team

Whether it be uniting your sales and project leaders, your IT and marketing leaders, or your marketing and sales leaders, integration of departments is a great way to ensure fluidity among team members and reduce the chance of errors caused by improper communication. When a team is integrated, not only does the team’s strength grow, but company culture expands as well.

In order to accomplish this internally, we have daily checkpoint meetings at 8 a.m. where each team gives an update that consists of three things: First they let everyone know what they worked on yesterday, then what they plan to work on today, and finally if they have or know of any project-related issues. When I start to feel like these meetings are getting stale, or attention and focus are waning, I will put everyone into cross-functional pairs, and they will have to give each other’s updates for a week.

Focus on Retention and Keep Them Motivated

If your average employee lifespan is six months, chances are morale around the office is not so great. The longer the employees stay with you, and the longer the team works together as a unit, the higher the quality of work. A huge part of retaining your talent is keeping them happy and motivated.

A study by The University of Warwick found that happy employees are 12 percent more productive, and when your people are your profit, that 12 percent can make a huge difference. Here are a few ways I keep my teams engaged.

Open the Conversation Around Failed Projects

For some reason, there is a stigma in the industry about project failure. The stigma has become so great, it’s like when someone is diagnosed with a fatal disease. Almost everyone knows it’s happening but refuses to talk about it because they either (a) don’t know how or (b) feel incredibly awkward doing so.

But in order to avoid another failure, this behavior has to stop. A project team can learn just as much, if not more, from failed projects. In fact, nearly 50 percent of unsuccessful projects are impacted by poor decision making, which means identifying and discussing these decisions is crucial to continued project success.


A project team can learn just as much, if not more, from failed projects.
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Listen to Their Needs

Even the most powerful, experienced business leaders can fail to respond properly to the needs of their team, and this can be detrimental. A team member who feels ignored will become disengaged. Performance drops, and the likeliness of turnover increases.

I try to remind myself that the problem is not the problem—meaning the issue they bring up is usually not the root cause but rather the pointy end that is poking them. Dig deeper until you feel you’ve found the real cause of the issue. Your staff might not love the deeper dive, but if you solve the root cause and prevent the issue from surfacing again, they’ll appreciate it. Plus, this process will help your staff understand how to re-think problems, and hopefully, they’ll actively look for the root cause of the issue next time.

Provide Regular Training and Growth Opportunities

When it is clear that you care about the success and future of your employees, they work harder to prove they are worth a spot on your team. Offer to send them to a seminar or conference once a year, or just reimburse them for a certain budget for educational materials each quarter. Nothing makes a team more powerful than staying well-educated and motivated.

To get the best bang for my buck, I may ask an employee to give a presentation on what they learned and (almost more importantly) how we can incorporate this new learning into our people, process, or tools. This holds the employee accountable for not only attending with intent but also the ability to retain the knowledge and understand how to apply it where it matters most: the company.

Place an Emphasis on Closing Profitable Projects

Oftentimes, we can get so caught up in starting a project and managing all its tasks and deliverables that by the time the project comes to an end, the profit margin has taken a hit. Maybe a resource took longer than expected, or a mistake was made that slowed everything down, but the team was so busy trying to complete the project that they forgot to complete it with the most amount of profit possible.

To encourage more awareness of profit margin, set a goal based on margin percentage on completion, and track your progress toward this goal from start to finish. Review this goal every week after time cards are submitted and approved, and provide a space for an open dialog around how the team could make adjustments if/when needed.

Hiring, training, and maintaining the best team isn’t something you can set and forget. But I hope that if you use these practices, you’ll be able to build a happier and more productive team that fits your company’s needs. Let me know how you’ve recruited your own perfect project team in the comments below.

Recommended Marketing Podcasts: Week of October 16th

This Weeks Recommended Marketing Podcasts Oct 20

Podcasts are a great way to educate yourself. Whether you’re on the train, in the car, at your desk, or anywhere in between, this medium is an incredible vehicle for supplementing your industry knowledge. Every two weeks, I’ll be sharing with you a round-up of some of the best marketing podcast episodes you can find, spanning the entirety of the marketing landscape. Whether you’re new to podcasts or a seasoned listener, I know you’ll find value in each weekly round-up. Let’s get listening, shall we?

Social Media Marketing PodcastSocial Media Marketing Podcast: Creating Short, Snackable Videos for Instagram and Beyond

Michael Stelzner, founder of Social Media Examiner, runs one of the most consistently useful podcasts around. In this episode, Michael interviews Lindsay Ostrom, founder of PinchofYum.com and author of the Tasty Food Photography ebook, on the topic of short video creation for Instagram and other social sites. Her success stems not only from putting in years of work with her core audience and sharing portions of her own life but also through finding the secret sauce that is creating short-form, fast-moving video.

Takeaway: Video is not going anywhere, and attention spans aren’t expanding. Understand where your audience wants to “eat,” and optimize content for those channels. As Lindsay shares, she knows her audience is most likely to engage and take action on Instagram, while YouTube is not her bread and butter. You might not have a team to help you create these videos, but fortunately, as Michael shares early in the episode, there are tools available that can make video creation easier. Continue to test different styles of video and text-on-image options until you find the perfect recipe for your own success (Wow, there are a lot of food metaphors here!).


Understand where your audience wants to ‘eat,’ and optimize content for those channels.
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This Old MarketingThis Old Marketing with Pulizzi & Rose PNR 203: Google and Amazon Prepare for Internet War

Anything that Google and Amazon do is big news. Anything that directly involves the two of them is massive. Google will no longer allow YouTube to be part of Amazon’s Echo Show, their new Alexa tablet, and there will definitely be some interesting changes on the horizon because of it. Outside of this power struggle, Robert Rose and Joe Pulizzi of The Content Marketing Institute discuss Twitter experimentation with 280 characters and some of the habits we can learn from the top content marketers in the industry.

Takeaways: It’s common to see the big boys play not-so-nice with each other, especially when it comes to new markets like the Smart Home space. As a marketer, moves like this make our jobs much harder, while also creating new opportunities. It creates additional wrinkles to sift through when determining where we need to invest our time and budgets. Whenever tech giants don’t want to cooperate, everyone else pays the price. Ultimately, it’s about finding and servicing our audiences where they want to be reached.

Masters of ScaleMasters of Scale Episode 4: Imperfect Is Perfect

Any episode of The Masters of Scale podcast is worth a listen, considering LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman is the host of the show. Add in Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and you have yourself an episode for the ages. In this episode, we learn about Mark’s beginnings as a young developer and how he practiced being “imperfect.” It’s a philosophy he shares and preaches to all of Facebook’s employees, and one any Facebook user knows well—just think about the last time a new feature was introduced that left you and your friends saying, “This is stupid!”

Takeaways: Much like Nike’s famous slogan says, just do it, whatever that it may be. If you have an idea for a product or service, it’s better to go forward with it in a bare-bones (functioning) state than it is to let it simmer until it’s too late. While it might be hard for some of us (like myself) to accept something less than perfect from ourselves at the start, we’ll be better for it in the long-term if we get to work and push our ideas into the world.

That’s all for this edition! I’ll be back with a new batch next week. In the meantime, share any podcasts you think I should know about in the comments!

Digital Analytics + Marketing Career Advice: Your Now, Next, Long Plan

The rapid pace of innovation and the constantly exploding collection of possibilities is a major contributor to the fun we all have in digital jobs. There is never a boring moment, there is never time when you can’t do something faster or smarter.

The tiny downside of this is that our parents likely never had to invest as much in constant education, experimentation and self-driven investment in core skills. They never had to worry that they have to be in a persistent forward motion… sometimes just to stay current.

This reality powers my impostor syndrome, and (yet?) it is the reason that I love working in every dimension of digital. We are at an inflection point in humanity’s evolution where in small and big ways, we can actually change the world.

With that context, this post is all about career management in the digital space. Like this blog, it will be particularly relevant for those who are in digital analytics and digital marketing. I would offer that the higher-order-bits in each of the three sections will provide valuable food-for-thought for anyone in a digital role.

The post has three clusters of advice. The first two are from editions of my newsletter, The Marketing – Analytics Intersect (it goes out weekly, and is now my primary publishing channel, sign up!). The third section was sparked by a question a friend who works at a digital agency asked: Will I lose my job to automation soon? (The answer was, yes.)

The Now section provides advice on how investing in growing your Analytical Thinking will contribute to greater success in the role you are in. The Next section provides advice on what you should be doing to invest in yourself to get ready for the depth and breadth change Artificial Intelligence is going to bestow upon us (regardless of your business role). The Long section shares a thought experiment I want you to undertake to figure out your career three years from now.

One more change reflective of the times we live in… Your employer used to be responsible for your career, this is for the most part no longer true. Your employer would send you to trainings to help push your career forward, this is for the most part no longer true. Your employer/manager would help you figure out the skills you can develop, this is for the most part no longer true. It is now all on you. Hence… Take control.

Ready?

The Now Career Plan: Analytics Experience vs. Analytical Thinking

Check the requirements listed in any digital analytics job and you’ll notice a long laundry list looking for analytics experience.

Years of having used tool x. Years and years of practice with R or “Big Data.” Years of proficiency in analyzing m campaigns for n channels resulting in production of z reports.

When you go to the interview, the hiring company will proceed to ask questions that test your competency in the listed job requirements.

This is normal.

Reflecting on my experience, it is not sufficient.

Test for analytics experience AND explore the level of analytical thinking the job candidate possesses.

Analytical thinking is 6,451 times more crucial in the long-term success of the candidate and the value they’ll add to your company.

Analytical Thinking: Skills, Interviewing, Value.

Analytical thinking is a collection of skills.

It is creative problem solving. It is working systematically and logically when dealing with complex tasks. It is exploring alternatives from multiple angles to find a solution. It is a brilliant evaluation of pros and cons, and achieving the balance that is right for that specific moment. It is always knowing that the answer to what’s two plus two is always in what context? It is being able to recognize patterns. It is knowing that every worthy life decision is a multivariate regression equation (hence the quest to identify all the variables in that equation and their weights). It is the possession of critical thinking abilities. And, most of all it is being able to seek and see the higher order bits.

Beautiful, right?

If I have the immense privilege of interviewing you, expect us to spend a lot of time on the elements mentioned above.

One sample strategy: Expect that I’ll ask open-ended questions (If a company has 90% Reach on TV, why the heck do they need digital?). Then, regardless of what you say I’ll politely but forcefully push back, to explore the depth and breadth of analytical thinking you bring to the table.

If you hire strong analytical thinkers, of any background, you are hiring people who will be adaptable, who’ll grow and flex with your organization and needs. They’ll have the mental agility to think smart and move fast. They’ll ask child-like simple questions that’ll lay bare your complex strategic challenges. Hire them. And, if they don’t know tool x… You can teach them which buttons to press.

Caring and Feeding Your Analytical Thinking.

If you are an analytical thinker, there are many ways in which you can keep feeding and stretching the synapses in your brain. There is always more you can learn.

In a business context, request an hour to talk to people three levels above you in the organization. Ask them what they worry about, ask them what they are solving for, ask them how they measure success, ask them what are two things on the horizon that they are excited about. So on and so forth. You’ll see things very differently, and you’ll think very differently when you go back to work.

I’d mentioned being able to look at every situation from multiple angles. (Think of the famous bullet time scene in the Matrix.) Hence, a personal strategy of mine is to look well outside my area of expertise to help me improve my analytical thinking capabilities.

I’m love reading decisions of the US Supreme Court. SCOTUSblog FTW!

The Supreme Court deals with situations that are insanely complex – even when they appear to be stunningly simple on the surface. There are so many lessons to be learned.

My favorites are the ones I massively disagree with. Citizens United is one such example. I could not possibly disagree with it more. Yet reading through the deep details helped me see the multiple facets being explored, the reasoning used by the other side. I learned a lot.

I go in open-minded, and at times have my mind changed. A good example of this Justice Scalia’s opinion in Gonzales v. Raich and the use of the Commerce Clause. And, he was not a man with whom I have overlapping views on anything. I appreciate him stretching my mind in this case.

Optimal Starting SCOTUS Starting Points.

If you would like to pursue my personal strategy, here are a collection of cases to use as starting points.

Some cases are very dear to me, I truly love them, there is a lot to learn from them as you explore the back and forth of the debate, the majority opinion and the dissenting one (or ones).

Loving v. Virginia is close to my heart, it is the reason I can legally marry my wife. It was just 50 years go!

Obergefell v. Hodges brought immense to our family as we celebrated the right of all Americans to marry. Justice Kennedy’s opinion is a thing of beauty. And, it is also useful to read Justices Scalia and Thomas’ strong and powerful dissents.

Texas v. Johnson said that prohibition on desecration of the American flag was a violation of the right to free speech. Of the many wonderful things about America, the First Amendment is at the top and distinctly unique. The court looked beyond the jingoistic distractions the flag always attracts, and protected what’s critical.

As I’d mentioned above, there is much to learn from cases that are heartbreaking

Dred Scott v. Sandford held that African Americans, free or slaves, could not be considered American citizens and undid the Missouri Compromise. It contained the infamous quote “[black men] had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”

Buck v. Bell is perhaps the one that is a deep, deep source of pain for me, it a decision that still stands. The court upheld forced sterilizations for those with “intellectual disabilities” and contained the despicable phrase “three generations of imbeciles are enough.”

Korematsu v. United States, legalized the shameful internment of American citizens with any Japanese ancestry. It is still on the books, and places extraordinary power in the President of the US to do what they want to people who might not look like “Americans.” People like me.

Each case, regardless of if I agree with the opinion or disagree, helps push my thinking. It makes me a better analyst, a better employee, a better start-up founder.

I’ve added a differentiated collection of links above to take you to sources, I hope they’ll help feed your analytical thinking.

For the Busy Human On The Go, An Alternative.

Given everything above, I absolutely LOVE the More Perfect podcast.

Jad Abumrad and his team are magnificent storytellers. For each episode, they take one case and explore it from multiple directions. They are entertaining, engaging and deeply informative.

Season one covered seven scintillating cases. I found the episodes that shared how SCOTUS was formed and got its power amazing.

Season two kicked of with… Korematsu! I thought I knew all angles of this case. Yet, towards the end you’ll hear two loud silences in a conversation with Judge Richard Posner. Make sure you hear what he says. I have profound respect for Judge Posner, he is brilliant. And, in those two moments, he both made me deeply uncomfortable and appreciate complexity.

More Perfect on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play.

Bringing It All Back To Analytics.

The latest episode (as of Oct 11th) is “Who’s Gerry and Why Is He So Bad At Drawing Maps.

The problem is simple. In Wisconsin Republicans in power massively gerrymandered voting districts (something the Democrats also do when in power). Unlike the past where little sophistication was applied, this time sophisticated algorithms and computers were brought into play. Resulting in more effective gerrymandering.

End result: Democrats won 53% of the votes but only 39% of the seats.

You might think: OMG! CRAZY BEANS! What happened to one person one vote!

Well, the case was heard by the Supreme Court last week. And, everything’s quite complicated (analytical thinking!). Listen to the episode for that.

What’s even more material for us is that Justice Kennedy wants to know how can he figure out that a district has been “too” gerrymandered. There is no real standard, nothing the Justices can use.

Math to the rescue!

Nicholas Stephanopoulos and Eric McGhee created an Efficiency Gap formula to assess how bad the gerrymandering was. (More here, PDF.)

I won’t spoil it for you, let Professor Moon Duchin explain it to in the podcast. It is a thing of beauty.

You’ll learn how to create smarter formulas in your job, how to solve complicated and ambiguous challenges with simple assumptions, and how to not to grow too close to your formulas – rather evolve them over time to be smarter.

In 23 mins, it will make you a better Analyst.

If you follow the overall guidance in this section, you’ll continue to invest and grow the one skill you’ll need in every digital career: Sophisticated analytical thinking.

The Next Career Plan: Prepping For An AI-First World

Even with all the hype related to all things Artificial Intelligence, I feel people are not taking the topic seriously enough. That the big, broad implications for the very near future are not causing us to sit up, take notice, and change our strategies (personal and professional).

Or, maybe I’m just too deep into this stuff. 🙂

I had two big ah-ha moments that have changed my view if humans can be competitive in any field compared to what technology will spring forth. I call the two elementsl Collective Continuous Learning and Complete Day One Knowledge, they are harbingers of exciting possibilities for what we can do with AI (and it to us).

For more detail on that, and if humans are doomed (yes, no, yes totally) please read: The Artificial Intelligence Opportunity: A Camel to Cars Moment

The topic of AI is vast, and I’m not even including all the layers and flavors. The more I learn, the more I realize how little I know. My heartfelt recommendation is that every professional should be curious about AI and try to stay abreast with as many new dimensions as they can. After the first few months, you’ll find your own sweetspot that’ll catch your fancy.

Here are the collection of books, videos, people and learning opportunities from my sweetspot…

Books.

I want to recommend three books. None focusses on digital marketing or analytics. Each tackles humans and the possibilities for humans. Hence they’ve had a profound impact on my thinking about humanity’s future (and via that route, my career plans).

1. Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari.

The span of Mr. Harari’s thinking is truly grand, and he’s a great storyteller. I am less pessimistic than Mr. Harari about the 300 year outcome (as you’ll read in my post above on AI), but he’s influenced my thinking deeply.

2. Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick Bostrom.

AI will birth numerous incredible solutions for humanity, but the most magical bits will come from Artificial General Intelligence. Some people think of it as Superintelligence. Mr. Bostrom does a fantastic job of exploring the possibilities. Let me know if you get scared or excited by the end. 🙂

3. Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by Max Tegmark

I love the way Mr. Tegmark writes, and there is something magical about his ability to distill all living things, you, me, watermelons, to up quarks, down quarks and nand gates! I was so inspired by his writing that I wrote to him my personal prediction for humanity looking 300 years out.

Videos.

Current development of Intelligence is in silos, I’m glad when someone pulls all the experts from around the world in an attempt to guide humanity’s efforts.

The Future of Life Institute hosted a conference in Asilomar in Jan 2017 with just such a purpose. The entire list of videos is well worth watching, prioritize the individual ones: Beneficial AI 2017

If you can only watch one…

1. Science or Fiction?

The content is great and it is pretty amazing to see these crazy brilliant group on one stage.

There is one other video I want you to watch, from the 2015 edition.

2. Robotics, AI, and the Macro-Economy

There is mostly a negative vibe about the combination of robotics and AI. The brilliant Jeffrey Sachs systematically presents context you’ll be glad you’ve heard.

There is a ton of video content on YouTube. A go to source for me is whoever is curating the Artificial Intelligence AI channel.

People.

In any space that is having the kind of exponential growth like AI, your best bet is to find people who trust and listen to what they are saying/doing.

We are blessed with a ton of experts, practitioners and futurists. I encourage you to curate your own list.

Here are the ones I follow as closely as I can: Sebastian Thrun, Jürgen Schmidhuber, Demis Hassabis, and Andrew Ng.

I watch videos of all their talks on YouTube or tune in to livestreams of their presentations. I read articles they write. I have alerts for them. Luckily they are so darn busy, they pace their public speaking/writing. 🙂

You can follow their work using strategies you currently use for others you stay in touch with.

Learning.

If you are slightly technically oriented and would like to start your journey of acquiring technical knowledge in the space, Udacity is a great place to go.

All three of these courses are free:

If you are deeply technically oriented, you already know where to go and don’t need my pointers!

I’m sure you’ll notice I’ve not given you specific advice for your next career move. One reason: We are in a moment where each of us has to know all the changes coming, all the possibilities arising, and then figure out that answer for ourselves.

The above books, videos, people and lessons will help you discover the right answer for yourself.

The Long Career Plan: Automation & Your Value To A Company

People are scared of automation.

It is logical. The AI revolution will bring a ton of automation that will eliminate current white-collar jobs in large numbers.

Yet, by the end of this thought experiment, you might see that looking out over the nest 25-30 years, we can deal with automation (/elimination of our current jobs).

This thought experiment is for both Marketers and Analysts.

Get in front of a whiteboard. Draw a decent size square box on it.

Today, almost all the work you do is inside that box.

For Digital Marketers, it is finding keywords or websites, setting targeting parameters, building ads, setting bids, adding rules, building landing pages etc. etc.

For Digital Analysts, it is creating data collection mechanisms, writing queries, creating reports, doing segmentation, creating rules, identifying business focus areas based on data etc. etc.

Here’s the thought: If tomorrow everything you currently do, inside that box, is completely automated… What’s your value?

Pause.

Think about it carefully in terms of personal implications.

For the bravest among you, think of what’s the value of your Agency/Company.

If you are anything like me, you are super-scared. Some of you are likely super-excited as well.

Don’t be scared. Take action.

It is not as crazy as you think to envision that you could be completely automated out. In small pieces this has already happened.

Media example: Campaigns to create, target and deliver results for driving app downloads is now almost entirely automated.

Analytics example: There are already buttons in your tools that automate finding of anomalies in your data that your leaders most need to pay attention to. Eliminating the need for the known knowns and automatically providing the known unknowns and unknown unknowns.

An example that combines the both for even more effective automation: With smart creative, smart bidding, and smart targeting there is no need for any human to touch AdWords or soon a whole lot of your Display campaigns. The results of Data Driven Attribution modeling, which use data from *all* digital campaigns, can now be directly plugged into AdWords which means without any reporting/analysis the platform will automatically optimize for the highest profit for your business – with no human involvement. This is not the future, it is Nov 2017.

Back to the whiteboard.

On top of the box with the stuff you do, write the word Automated.

Ponder now what’s your value.

You’ll see there are two areas where you can add value. The area before the box, the area after the box.

If you are a Marketer…

You can shift to taking more ownership of the inputs that go into your current job (which remember is now automated). Shift to a responsibility that requires a deeper understanding of your Prospects and Customers at a human level. Now, because of that beautiful knowledge, take ownership of the entire process of identifying the optimal creative assets required for any great Marketing campaign. Then, step up and move to the other side of the box… Own the use and deployment of large scale machine learning services to understand every human, which results in creating the simplest most meaningful experience across all digital touch-points. And then… I’m taking you so far away from your current box… expand the outcomes you own from just the transactional to building deeper years-long beyond-pimpy relationships with your customers.

And suddenly…

You hate the freaking box you are in as a Marketer today. You want to expand your responsibility to own these deeply meaningful things that Machine Learning and our Deep Neural Networks won’t touch for a while. You want to feel the true joy that comes from doing meaningful things like figuring out how to build relationships or unleash the full and beautiful power of amazing creative (in ads, in apps, on sites, in products), and so many more exciting things that you were born to do.

Now, you are not scared about automated. You can’t wait for your current job to be automated away.

🙂

I have the above scenario and the wonderful possibilities for Analysts as well. It is also very exciting, as you’ll discover when you do the whiteboarding exercise for yourself.

Now. I totally get that your entire job is not getting automated tomorrow. But, I suspect you’ll be surprised though how fast that is coming. For Nurses. For Truck drivers. For Baristas. For… Everyone. Collect a handful of the smartest people you know, draw a box on a whiteboard, have a discussion.

This thought experiment is just one way to think through the implications of what’s ahead of us. In my blog post on the artificial intelligence opportunity, you’ll see another way I framed how to think this through…

The above framing is a bit more in the higher-order-bit spirit.

I recommend the thought experiment. When you’re done: Step one, have a plan. Step two, execute. Step three, joy. Step four, follow the advice in section one (Now) and section two (Next) of this blog post and start investing in the personal growth you’ll need to move to these new more joy-inducing meaningful jobs.

Your career is in your hands, and I deeply believe it is going to be bright. Seize the moment!

As always, it is your turn now.

Considering the Now moment, is there something unique you do to invest in growing your analytical thinking capabilities? How are you preparing for the Next moment, who are you reading, who are you listening to? Considering the next 25 years in our space, how far do you think automation will go? How are you approaching your personal evolution with the Long moment horizon in mind? How about your company’s?

Please share your unique perspective, challenges, and solutions via comments below.

Thanks.

P.S. I’ve touched on the topic of career paths and career management in earlier posts. Here are a couple you’ll find to be of value:

Digital Analytics + Marketing Career Advice: Your Now, Next, Long Plan is a post from: Occam’s Razor by Avinash Kaushik


Source: Avinash

Stop All Social Media Activity (Organic) | Solve For A Profitable Reality

Life is short.

It is time to point out an ugly truth, and to be the brave person that you are, the intelligent rational assessor of reality that you are, and kill all the organic social media activity by your company.

All of it.

Seems radical, but let’s take it one step at a time.

To give you a sense of the depth and breadth of ideas I’ll cover today, here are the sections in this post:

I urge you to have an open mind. My plan is to challenge your critical thinking skills, and share lessons that will apply broadly across the professional effort you put day in and day out. Most of all, I’m excited to frame an important problem, and present solutions that will transform an important part of your marketing strategy.

Let’s go!

The Promise of Marketing Utopia. 

I hate pimping (what marketing has come to be). I adore building meaningful relationships – the kind of long-term connections where a brand truly gives a f about their customers, and gives something of value in exchange for their attention. I LOVE brands that can pull this off, and support them with my un-asked-for evangelism and precious $$$s.

Hence, you can imagine how gosh darn excited I was at the advent of Facebook and Twitter (first real social networks). There were a billion people there, spending a meaningful amount of time on these wonderful platforms. Excitedly, brands could have a presence (a “page”) where they could contribute meaningful updates (info-snacks) in order to be a part of the organic conversations people were already having by the tens of millions.

Daily meaningful brand connections would be converted into brand familiarity, shifts in brand perception, feeding brand loyalty. #orgasmic

If you were a travel company, meaningful would now translate into helping feed wanderlust. The company could contribute info-snacks about where people should go, exposing the coolest places in the world, helping people travel better via tips, pictures, videos… you know… communicating travel love. The one thing a travel company would have in common with travel customers. The most imaginative travel marketers could even extend this opportunity to helping connect the purpose of their existence, selling tickets and hotel rooms, to helping people create moments of happy by crafting day/s of escape from the rough and tumble of life.

Glorious, right? If you work at Expedia or Cathay Pacific, does that not make you want to come to work and, for at least a part of your employment, create meaning? How rare is that!

If you were Cisco, meaningful would mean sharing info-snacks whose entire purpose could be to get Engineers promoted. Share tips, ideas, schematics, usage shortcuts, creative implementations, solutions to top problems that hold Engineers back… you know… understanding your audience deeply and give them something of value in exchange for their attention. The most imaginative B2B marketers could even figure out how to be a part of solving some of the deepest entrenched problems in the industry (STEM education, equal opportunity, + +) and in turn add an entire value-system to their brands.

Amazing, right?

Marketing based on something real, rather than a coupon or company brochure.

The Broken Promise of Marketing Utopia, Implications. 

None of the above transpired on Social platforms.

Businesses of all types, including Google (SMB, Main), got on amazing platforms like Facebook (and Weibo, Instagram, Pintrest etc.) and started pimping. All that their collective imagination could manifest in a Utopia-possible environment was: LOOK ME I AM SO PRETTY!! BUY NOW!!!

Stuff that is a turn off.

Consider the Google’s first FB page above, it is a complete disaster with not a single post in the last six months being of even five seconds of value to any small business. That page, or the main one, is not an overt Buy Now, but if you think critically like the tough Marketer I want you to be you’ll have a hard time finding a single post that’s solving for Google’s human customers. Almost every single one is pimping Google (or pimping random research Google has commissioned – to pimp Google!). The non-value is so transparent, yet they post every single day something that basically is solving for Google (although only God knows what that is). If someone bothers to interact with the post, the posted comment is a spam or totally useless. Yet. They keep posting. Polluting utopia.

Google is not unique in not understanding the promise, checkout your company’s FB page.

This strategy by businesses lead to what I now call the Zuck Death Spiral. ZDS.

Real humans on Social platforms quickly got turned off by these low-grade Social contributions/posts by companies. That meant humans (us!) refused to engage with them. This was noticed by Team Zuck, who started to slowly turn down the presence of company posts in User feeds. This lead to less Reach for brands. Which in turn lead to even fewer customer interactions for content posted by brands. Which was duly noted once more by Team Zuck. Which… you know where this is going, tightened the screws on organic Reach even more. And, here we are in a barren desert for brands on FB.

Most brands get less than 1% Reach via their organic contributions on social platforms. And, less than 1% engagement of any kind from that less than 1% reached (identified using the best social media metrics: Conversation Rate, Amplification Rate, Applause Rate).

ZDS is solving for FB, as FB should, and it is an attempt to solve for FB’s users.

So… If all you can do is overtly or covertly pimp… And, pimping is not cheap (that Google page, and your company’s page, has pictures, videos, an agency deployed, internal company employees with a “social media execution checklist”, senior leadership time committed, and more)… And, all it does is get you 1% Reach, max, with almost no engagement… Why do you still have an active (organic) social media effort?

Why is this reality not smacking some sense into your marketing strategy?

The Broken Promise of Marketing Utopia: Examples. 

Is it difficult to check if your brand is caught up in the Zuck Death Spiral? No.

Do you have access to any data to measure how deeply non-impactful your organic Social Media efforts are? OMG, yes.

Everything you need, data and information, to do an audit is public.

All you have to do is visit your company’s Facebook page (or Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. presence).

Let me show you what to look for. Let’s start with Expedia. They have 6.4 million Likes as of today. Go look at any post on the page if you are an Expedia employee.

expedia_facebook

First thing you’ll look at is the Applause Rate (likes, other emotions, you’ll see it right under the photo). That number is 75. Divide that by 6,462,977 (potential audience size today).

0.00113%. That’s a painful stab in your heart.

Next Conversation Rate (comments, you’ll see a total at the end of your posts). 7. Divide that by 6,462,977. A sad 0.00011%.

Finally, my favorite sign that you truly added value to a human rather than pimp, Amplification Rate (shares). 3/6,462,977. At this point you are weeping with me: 0.00005%.

To give you some context as to how insanely lame these numbers are, Expedia.com received 59,400,000 Visits in May 2017. This post accomplished 75+7+3. More people walk into the Expedia lobby in Bellevue, WA, every second of every minute.

You might be screaming that is not fair Avinash, the Zuck Death Spiral ensures that a tiny fraction of 6,462,977 are seeing Expedia’s posts! Very fair point. But, is the Social Media Budget at Expedia not justified based on the potential from 6,462,977? Would Expedia commit it’s multi-million-dollar budget to Social Media based on the potential to engage 75+7+3 people on Planet Earth?

One final point. Brand destruction.

Pretty much every single comment on pretty much every single Expedia post is a complaint about how horrible Expedia is (from personal experience I know this is not true). If your Facebook presence is solely to inspire people (see Trish Sayler above) to create clever rhymes about how bad you are… Why are you on Social Media?

Ignore the active smearing of the Expedia brand, let’s go back to data: Is it worth have 75 | 7 | 3 as the value delivered from an organic Social Media strategy for a company with 54,900,000 Visits?

My answer is an emphatic no. Expedia should immediately cease 100% of its organic Social activity.

1/100th of the Social Media budget could be spent on any other random digital strategy to get 75+7+3, and have zero brand destruction!

Oh. And while I’m focusing on Facebook for the sake of simplicity, everything in this post applies to all other Social Media channels. The Utopia failures. The lack of imagination. The small numbers. The uselessness.

Here for example is a post on Twitter by Expedia:

expedia_twitter

The numbers: 9 | 2 | 2. Divided by 391,000 (followers).

You can do the math and assess dent in the universe this content contribution from Expedia is making.

Almost nothing. Technically, perhaps less than nothing.

I hate making recommendations based on outliers, please know that Expedia is the norm. Hence, the title of this blog post.

Here’s a B2B example, a company I think well of… Cisco.

cisco_facebook

Go through the same analysis.

Your numbers are 31 | 1 | 3. Divided by 845,921.

Would you spend a single hard-earned Cisco router and switches dollar to get this as the return from a multi-million dollar Social Media budget?

Like my company, your company, and Expedia, Cisco gets no value from their organic Social Media efforts. Technically, Cisco is getting negative returns once you account for the people, process, tools, agency, leadership investments.

Let’s switch gears and look at a B2C company with a massively positive opportunity to leverage the word Social in every way on these platforms… Chick-fil-A.

chick-fil-a_facebook

Better numbers, as you might expect.

1k | 89 | 73. Divided by 7,775,155.

Consider it. Chick-fil-A could buy the most remnant TV inventory on a channel least watched by humans during the middle of the night and get better Reach. And they can also measure how many of them walked into a Chick-fil-A in the next 12 hours.

Does the above number justify custom videos, images, active posting by Click-fil-A on Facebook?

One final example to bring this home.

ProjectManager.com is a lovely tool. It is wonderful that they use folks like Jennifer Bridges, Susanne Madsen and others to create very helpful Project Management videos on YouTube. It seems they are a medium-sized business.

Here’s their Facebook page:

project_manager_facebook

69 | 0 | 25. Divided by 62,951.

Pound for pound, better performance than all three (four including Google) companies above. Shame on them.

Still. Are the resulting Applause Rate, Conversation Rate and Amplification Rate enough for a smaller business to use it’s precious marketing dollars on this Social Media strategy/impact?

Consider this as well for all brands… There is no native discovery model on these Social channels. Your content will live for 20 minutes and then it is dead. Not just because of ZDS, but also because there is no Search behavior by users or a method that would deliver Serendipitous Discovery of content you post.

Unlike say on YouTube, or your Blog, where your Subscribers will see the content right away, and then through Bing and Yandex and YouTube itself people will find your content when relevant and keep viewing it. Your content there has a live beyond 20 minutes.

Win Big: Stop Posting Content for Organic Reach On Social Channels. 

Given the numbers above, and be sure to check any other Social Media channel your company is actively investing in, I hope you have the input you need to apply your critical thinking skills.

Let me give you one final push: You have better alternatives to drive short and long-term Profitability for your company (rather than investing in organic Social Media).

Here’s an example.

I write an insightful newsletter with the singular aim of improving your salary. The Marketing < > Analytics Intersect. You should sign up. It is a companion to this blog, I write once a week there and once a month here.

One year into it’s existence, TMAI has 21,246 Subscribers.

Measuring Open Rates for email is difficult (the tiny pixel ESPs use to track opens are not executed by default for most email programs). Even with that flaw in reporting, TMAI has Open Rates of around 9,000 (9,895 precisely for the last one).  Around 1,000 people (912 for the last one) take an action that is of value to me.

A random person, me, can get 9,000 opens of my content, at least a thousand active engagements with my brand whenever I want. I have over 1,000,000 Social Media followers across the five platforms (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram). I can’t even get 1/100th the impact.

My simple unsexy email newsletter strategy crushes the on paper potential of one million Social Media followers.

And, beyond the impact… I also directly own the relationships with my 21,246 Subscribers, I own the data, the relationship exists on my platform, and I can use it as creatively I want to use it with no limitation on type of content (text or video or dancing penguin gifs).

Why should your company be on Social Media 5x per day to get a lousy 20 interactions with your brand? How is that acceptable ROI from your investment in a 5 person Social Media team, a Social Media Agency, a Social Media analytics tool, a Social Media auto-posting tool and more?

Could you not get 100x ROI from the 0.25 person that’s running your email newsletter?

Could you not just take all that Team, Agency, Tool, money, throw it into AdWords or AOL Display Ads and not get massively higher ROI, of any kind, in 10 minutes?

Could you not get better ROI taking all that money and buying remnant inventory on your local Television channel?

Could you not get better ROI if you just took that money and bought free lunch for the employees in your building every other day?

OMG, you most definitely can.

So. Why are you on Social Media?

Is it fun to shout in a vacuum?

Why does it not feel dirty to go waste your shareholder’s money?

Stop it then.

Welcome to the world of higher standards for impact delivered. Feel cleaner and prouder coming to work every day as a Marketer/CMO.

Is the Huge Audience on Social Media Platforms Completely Useless? 

NO!

There are a couple of billion people on Facebook (and billions or hundreds of millions on other Social channels). From an advertising perspective, that’s still an audience that might be of value to your business.

Kill your organic Social strategy completely, switch to a paid Social Media strategy.

Buy advertising from Facebook. I’ll make it easy, click this link!

Buy advertising from Twitter. From Snapchat. LinkedIn. Oh and WeChat and Line.

This simple switch from the fuzzy Organic goals to concrete Paid goals will give the one thing your Social Media Marketing strategy was missing: Purpose.

It is now easy to define why the heck are you spending money on Social Media? To drive short and medium-term brand and performance outcomes.

Fabulous.

Set aside the useless metrics like Impressions and 3-second Video Views. Set aside hard to judge and equally useless Like and Follow counts. Measure the hard stuff that you can show a direct line to company profit.

Define a purpose for the money you are spending.

For the clients I’ve worked with across the world, expressed behavior of the users suggests that the largest cluster of intent is See. There is a little bit of Think and a little bit of Care. (This is why Social marketing strategies that target Do intent yield extremely poor results.)

[Bonus Read: See-Think-Do-Care Business Framework]

If the purpose is to execute See and Care intent marketing strategies (in the old world sometimes incompletely referred to as brand marketing), you can use the following amongst my favorite metrics to deliver accountability:

1. Unaided Brand Recall
2. Likelihood to Recommend
3. Lift in Purchase Intent
4. Shift in Brand Perception (negative to neutral, neutral to positive, positive to proactive evangelism)
5. Lifetime Value

Humans have measured these using primary and secondary research methods for 3,500 years. Quite easy to do the same for your newly focused paid Social advertising efforts.

[Bonus Read: Brand Measurement: Analytics & Metrics for Branding Campaigns]

If on the other hand the purpose of your paid Social advertising is to target Think and/or Do intent, you should measure the impact using the following across your digital – and pan-digital presence:

1. Recency & Frequency
2. Loyalty
3. Task Completion Rate
4. Assisted Conversions
5. Macro-Outcomes Rate
6. Economic Value

We have measured these for a long time on the web. You can use your quantitative tools to measure most of these (Google Analytics, Adobe, True Social Metrics). And. You can measure these for your ecommerce, non-ecommerce, B2B, B2C, pure content, non-profit, or whatever else kind of delicious business you are running.

Now, you’ll hold your agency and employees accountable for delivering business profitability for your Social efforts just as you do for any other advertising effort – Search or TV or Email.

Just as you would do in all those other cases, do more paid Social advertising if the metrics show a business impact and improve/eliminate your paid Social efforts if they don’t.

It will mean a different Social content strategy, different targeting strategy (leveraging rich Social signals), and a different landing page/app strategy. Proper end-to-end user and business optimization. Nirvana, delivered by that magical word… Purpose.

The path to your salary and job promotion is also now crystal-clear. Right?

Is the Idea of Marketing Utopia Permanently Dead? 

I’ve seen the near-future, and I believe we’ll get to Utopia Marketing.

The fact that companies don’t know how to be human, how to take even 20% of their people plus budget and invest optimally in understanding humans and deliver something of value to those humans is deeply heartbreaking.

Yes, I can blame the short-term quarterly focus of the CMOs and the SELL, SELL, SELL MORE incentives they create for you to earn your bonus. But still, how heartbreaking is it that not even 1% of us could convince our CMOs to allow us to do what Social was actually good at? How sad is it that we have such little influence? I blame us.

Still. I am optimistic that Marketing Utopia, as I’ve imagined it at the top of this post, is not dead. I think the solution will be to get rid of the humans from the process!

What? Human marketing by getting rid of humans?

Yes. Hear me out.

I think AI/Machine Learning will solve this problem.

Today, humans and their limited ability to process data, and the finite incentives in place, are the reason we burned Utopia to the ground. We simply can’t process billions of signals across tens of millions of touch points across millions of people, and figure out the best message at every moment and its short, medium, and long-term business value.

Current advances in ML already give me hope that algorithms will understand intent a billion trillion times better than your current employees AND these algorithms will have the inherent capabilities to process billions of data points to truly understand complex patterns of user behavior and a robust understanding across all that to know exactly what delivers business profit.

Companies can then take the equivalent of their Brand and Social budgets and allow smarter algorithms to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time across all clusters of intent. All the while, optimizing for long-term business profitability.

It will help that Machine Learning is not embolden to trivial company politics. 🙂

[Bonus Read: Artificial Intelligence: Implications On Marketing, Analytics, And You]

Bottom-line.

While I’m recommending you stop doing something, hearing no is not super-inspiring, I hope you’ll see that my goal is help you think more critically about where you spend your personal time and your company’s money.

I also hope you’ll see how the shift in strategy I’m recommending brings Social in line with your other advertising efforts, allowing for a ton more focus on your Social efforts and a billion times more accountability.

Finally, I hope you feel optimistic that around the horizon lurk technological solutions that will allow for the manifestation of the beautiful humanity that exists in your company (even if we have to take human employees out of the equation to get there – don’t worry, they’ll still, for now, be responsible for the novel elements required).

Demand more from Social, because Social can deliver more. It just happens to be paid Social.

Oh… And if you’ve chosen to define your professional career as a Social Media Analyst or a Social Media Guru or a Social Media Marketer, I respectfully offer that you should rethink your strategy. You likely already see deep pressure on the possibilities in front of you, and on your compensation growth. This will only get more severe. Figure out how to expand your skill-set, and then scope of influence/impact, so that you can delete the first two words from each of those titles and retain the last one. If you are remotely good at what you do, you’ll be in a recession-proof digital career. The opportunity is there, your career trajectory and compensation growth will be up and to the right.

As always, it is your turn now.

If you’ve achieved sustained success from your organic Social Media content strategy, would you please share your example? If you disagree and believe Marketers should invest in organic Social despite poor Reach, ApR, CoR, and AmR, would you please share how you see value/impact? If you’ve successfully dumped organic and pivoted to paid Social, please share stories of your victory. Are you as optimistic as I am that Machine Learning based intelligence will solve optimally for the Utopia opportunity?

I look forward to hearing your smart perspectives and cogent challenges.

Thank you.

Stop All Social Media Activity (Organic) | Solve For A Profitable Reality is a post from: Occam’s Razor by Avinash Kaushik


Source: Avinash

The Very Best Digital Metrics For 15 Different Companies!

Colors The very best analysts distill, rather than dilute. The very best analysts focus, when most tend to scatter. The very best analysts display critical thinking, rather than giving into just what’s asked of them. The very best analysts are comfortable operating with ambiguity and incompleteness, while all others chase perfection in implementation / processing / reports. The very best analysts know what matter’s the most are not the insights from big data but clear actions and compelling business impact communicated simply.

The very best analysts practice the above principles every day in every dimension of their jobs. When I interview candidates, tt is that practice that I try to discern carefully. When I see evidence of these qualities in any candidate, my heart is filled with joy (and the candidate’s inbox is filled with a delightful job offer).

This post shares one application of the above skills.

People ask me this seemingly simple question all the time: What Key Performance Indicators should we use for our business? I usually ask in return: What are you trying to get done with your digital strategies?

From experience, I know that there is no one golden metric for everyone. We are all unique snowflakes! 🙂 Hence the optimal answer to the question comes from following a five-step process to build out the Digital Marketing and Measurement Model.

But, what if we did not have that opportunity? What if I was pushed to answer that question with just a cursory glance at their digital existence?

While it is a million times less than ideal, I can still come up with something good based on my distillation skills, application of critical thinking, comfort in operating in ambiguity and prioritizing what will likely help drive big actions. It won’t be perfect, but that is the entire point of this post. It is important, even critical, that we know how to operate in such a environment.

To impress you with the breadth and depth of possibilities, I’m going to take 15 completely different digital companies and share what are the very best key performance indicators (metrics) for each. I don’t know these companies intimately, just like you all I have is access to their digital existence. That’s what makes it such a great exercise of the aforementioned skills.

Prologue.

In the past I’ve shared a cluster of metrics that small, medium and large businesses can use as a springboard…

These are great starting points, but there is an assumption that based on your expertise and business knowledge that you’ll be able to personalize these.

The challenge I want to take on is to be specific in my recommendations, and to share how we can be very nimble and agile.

You’ll see three consistent patterns in the thinking expressed below (I encourage you to consider adopting them as well).

1. You’ll notice that I ask the five questions that help me identify the higher order bits related to the company. This is critical. They are from my post The Biggest Mistake Web Analysts Make… And How To Avoid It!

2. I am a passionate believer in focusing on the Macro AND Micro-Outcomes. It is the only way to ensure your leadership is not trapped in the let’s solve for only 2% of our business success thinking.

3. It pains me how quickly silos emerge in every company. There are Search people and Content people and Landing Page Optimizers and Cart fixers and Attribution Specialists and more. Everyone solves for their own silo, and IF everyone delivers you get to a local maxima. #tearsofpain One way of removing silos and focusing on the entire business is to leverage Acquisition, Behavior and Outcome metrics. This will allow, nay force, our senior business leaders to see the complete picture, see more of cause and effect, and create incentives for the disparate teams to work together.

A small change I’ll make in this post is that when I recommend the metrics, I’ll follow the Outcomes | Behavior | Acquisition structure. I’m reversing the order because when you talk to Senior Executives, they first, sadly sometimes only, care about all the moolah. We bend to this reality.

Hold me accountable to the above three patterns, if you see a mistake… please let me know via the comment form below.

Also, it is unlikely that I’ll have perfect answers for all 15 businesses below. Please chime and let me know what you would use instead or simply how would you improve the collection of metrics for each type of company.

Ready?

Let’s look at 15 completely different business, and pick just six metrics (two each for A, B and O) that would be the very best ones to measure their digital success. The goal is for each company’s Google Data Studio to not look like a CDP (customized data puke), but to be a focused strategic dashboard with an emphasis on IABI.

If you want to play along. Don’t read what I’ve chosen. Click on the site link, go browse around, go to their social pages, checkout the mobile app, then write down the six metrics you would choose. Then, read on to see what I picked. You’ll discover immense learnings in the gaps between each set of choices (and share yours with me in comments below!).

Ecommerce: Betabrand

I love Betabrand. Their clothes and accessories are eclectic. The brand has a joy that is infectious. And, I’ve been impressed at how they’ve innovated when it comes to what business they really are in.

Here are six O, B, A metrics I would recommend for Betabrand’s strategic dashboard:

Outcomes: Revenue | Ideas Funded
Behavior: Path Length | Cart Abandonment Rate
Acquisition: Assisted Conversions | Share of Search

Every ecommerce site has to obsess about Revenue, hence I use that as the Macro-Outcome. After a consideration of their business evolution, I picked Ideas Funded as the important micro-outcome.

I love driving strategic emphasis on Path Length for larger ecommerce sites as it encourages an obsession away from one-night stands which is the standard operating model for most sites. The implications of Path Length will force a broader analysis of the business, which is harder and hence you’ll hire smarter analysts (#awesome). I feel Cart Abandonment is such an overlooked metric, it has tentacles into everything you are doing!

No decent ecommerce entity can live without a hard core focus on acquisition strategies that are powered by out-of-sights from Assisted Conversions data. Finally, Search (organic and paid) continues to be one of the largest contributor of traffic on mobile and desktop. Analyzing your Share of Search, from context you can glean from competitive intelligence tools), is extremely valuable.

Six simple insanely powerful metrics, simple business booming strategic dashboard.

What’s most important above is the thinking on display, the approach to identifying what’s absolutely essential, and an obsession with the higher-order bits. You swap out Ideas Funded for something relevant, and the above six can be used by any large ecommerce business.

A quick best practice.

You’ll also segment these metrics by your most important priorities.

For example, your company is shifting aggressively into leveraging Machine-Learning in your marketing strategies and hence have made a shift to Smart Display Campaigns a huge priority. Wonderful. You would segment the Assisted Conversions report by your Smart Display Campaigns to validate the power of Machine Learning. Remember: All data in aggregate is crap, segment or suck.

For the rest of this post, I’m going to try really hard to stay with the non-segmented metrics as it is much harder to pull that off. But on occasion I’ll mention the segment that would need more analytical focus as I believe it would yield a higher percentage of out-of-sights. You’ll see that on display in parenthesis (for example below).

Small Business Ecommerce: Lefty’s Sports Cards & Collectibles 

What if you are a tiny local business in a narrow niche, should you use the same approach as Betabrand? No. Always adapt to what’s most important and sensible for you (every measurement decision you make has a cost!).

Within a few minutes of visiting Lefty’s site – put on your sunglasses first – it will be clear that Lefty’s does not really care about their website. You can still put together a quick dashboard that will allow Jim and Bob to make smarter decisions by understanding the importance of their digital presence. Here’s how they could invest their limited budget smartly:

Outcomes: Autograph Pre-orders | Email Signups
Behavior: Unique Page Views (Gallery) | Bounce Rate (Mobile)
Acquisition: Visits | Click-to-delivery Rate

When my kids and I go meet their baseball heroes for autographs, we always book online. Hence the macro-outcome. Additionally, it is pretty clear from their site that email is a very big deal for them – and an ideal cheap marketing / acquisition strategy for them – hence the micro-outcome is Email signups.

Lefty’s stinks when it comes to user experience, even more so on mobile. Hence, I elevated Bounce Rate to a KPI (something I advice against). With the assumption that Galleries drive a lot of people to sign up, the value of UPVs rise in stature.

For a small business Visits are an important metric, even 500 more Visits a week can be huge. Since email is so important as an acquisition channel (and since likely nothing else works for them), I choose one of my three favorite email marketing metrics, CTDR.

Though we have looked at only a couple businesses, I hope you are starting to see common patterns in the approach to identify KPIs. Focus on what’s actually important from a strategy perspective. Macro and Micro-Outcomes. A focus on getting a sense for what the business is actually doing to make the hard choices needed to get to the perfect A, B, O metrics.

A quick best practice.

The metrics you elevate to Key Performance Indicators rarely stay there forever – that would be suicide. You’ll go through the normal metrics lifecycle

If you truly create strategic dashboards, follow the complete process above every six months. On the other hand, if your dashboards are CDPs (customized data pukes), be honest with yourself, I recommend doing this every three months.

B2B / Enterprise Sales: Salesforce

Very little B2B selling is data driven, this gives me profound grief. Mostly because in a B2B context we can deliver such an amazing impact! We as in digital marketers, salespeople, support people, analysts. Let me come back to that thought in a moment, here’s what I would recommend we measure for Salesforce:

Outcomes: Lead Conversion Rate (Visitor) | Trailheads Certified
Behavior: Page Value | Session Quality 
Acquisition: Visitors (Mobile) | Click-thru Rate (Paid)

Since every SINGLE thing of customer value at Salesforce.com ends with the same gosh darn lead gen form, we measure Leads. 🙂 We focus on the better conversion rate definition, divide it by Visitors (or Users in GA). It creates an incentive to focus on people, and give each individual visitor the breathing room they need to convert (the burden then shifts to the company to be able to think smarter when it comes to the experience and incentives). I choose Trailhead Certified as the micro-outcome as there are multiple points of value from the Trailheads program (lower support costs, higher retention, faster time to value for clients etc.).

The site has tons and tons of content, almost haphazardly so. Hence for behavior the magical Page Value metric. It will help Salesforce hold every piece of content accountable for delivering business impact (macro or/and micro). Session Quality leverages machine learning to provide Salesforce with behavioral analysis to help personalize the user experience and customize off-site marketing experience. It is a cool KPI you should explore for businesses of any kind.

Mobile is massively undervalued by most B2B companies (including SF), hence the acquisition emphasis there. CTR puts the emphasis on right message to the right person at the right time.

B2B analytics are insanely sexy and exciting. Yes. Really. Please be creative in your analytics efforts, and don’t take no for an answer when it comes to the value of analytics. Don’t accept the excuse oh but all the sales come via phone or I convert at industry events or our buyers are old school! 

A quick best practice.

Push. But, be picky, focus on big important pieces. For example, Salesforce spends tons of people/money on social media posting/activity and you can see this on display on their Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social platforms. A cursory review will demonstrate that a low double digit number of humans engage with this massive amount of content Salesforce publishes. Almost all that investment is wasted (and don’t even get me started on the opportunity cost!).

Yet, you won’t notice it in my KPIs. Yes, their current social strategy not great use of time or money, but we have bigger fish to fry. Make tough choices.

Newspapers: Tampa Bay Times

I am a huge political junkie and it truly breaks my heart that newspapers are dying. I pay monthly subscriptions for the Guardian, New York Times, Washington Post, The New Yorker and National Geographic. We are a better humanity thanks to the work of journalists, I hope the industry finds a sustainable business model.

You’ll see my pet peeves about what media entities don’t measure currently in my recommendations:

Outcomes: New Subscriptions | My Edition Signups 
Behavior: Recency | Unique Page Views (Content Groups)
Acquisition: Visits (Referrals) | % New Visits

With advertising revenue in a tailspin, New Subscriptions are more important than ever and hence that’s our macro-outcome KPI. I have a massive bias against the current click-bait, let’s go viral, “hot story of the moment” traffic. I humbly believe the answer is to solve for loyalty, which if we don’t suck at it, will drive New Subs. Hence, the micro-outcome choice is My Edition Signups. It forces TBT to assess if people find the site valuable enough to open an account, and is TBT then personalizing the experience enough to drive loyalty.

Continuing the obsession with deeper relationships… TBT is a newspaper that’s updated 80k times a day, how does the Recency distribution look like? I visit the New Yorker 8 times each day on average (closer relationship, higher perception of value, and as a result I’m a paying subscriber). Our second behavior metric, Unique Page Views, helps quantify content consumption.

Here’s a lovely graph, from one of my older posts, that would be immensely valuable in trying to find the balance between content production and content consumption.

I would tweak it a bit. For each section of the site, Unique Page Views vs. Amount of Content published in that section. It provides critical food for thought in trying to balance what content and people does it need more of and less of.

In picking acquisition metrics I’m trying to counterbalance my bias to have deeper individual relationships over time. Visits – with an emphasis on referrals, with a deeper segmentation of social and mobile because of how humans get content these days – and % New Visits to grow.

A quick best practice.

You are always going to have biases. It is ok. Invest in becoming aware of them. And, when you catch yourself taking actions due to those biases, correct for them in the best way possible. In the above case, I counterbalanced for my bias in Behavior and Outcomes by choosing against my bias in the Acquisition section.

Charity/Non-Profits: The Smile Train

As some of you know, 100% of the proceeds from both of my books are donated to charity. Thus far, well over $100,000 each to The Smile Train, Doctors Without Borders and Ekal Vidyalaya. Thanks for buying my books.

Digital is a valuable component of The Smile Train’s strategy, here’s how we can measure effectiveness…

Outcomes: Donations (Online, Tracked phone calls) | Cause Related Clicks
Behavior: Amplification Rate | Completed Views (Videos, Stories)
Acquisition: Visitors (Geo) | Clicks (Social)

Donations, straightforward. Of all the micro-outcomes the one that was really innovative (and trackable!) was the Cause Related Marketing effort. So clever of them to become a part of people’s lives to raise money rather than the usual annual donation.

Charities can only market themselves so much, they have to figure out how to get the rest of us to do it for them. They have great content, if we believe in them then ST has to get us to amplify it for them. I love the stories they have, there is the obligatory collection of social links on the top, but they don’t overtly ask you to amplify. How about if I scroll through most of the story then a subtle pop-up from the bottom-right asking me to amplify via my social channels? I can get them to more people like me, more donations. Hence, Amplification Rate is my first behavior metric (to incentivize both ST and site visitors). Smile Train has precious resources, leverage event tracking to measure completed views of all the content is a fabulous way to drive a persistent focus on content optimization.

Charities have opinions about where their donors come from, I recommend a Geo segmentation strategy to understand Visitors to the site to broaden the leadership’s horizons (literally!). You can of course segment this by other elements. Social is a big part for every charity. To avoid Smile Train peanut-buttering their social strategy, measuring Social Clicks is a really sound way to understand where to put more/less effort.

A quick best practice.

Digital strategy for nonprofits should be more innovative than what you currently see. For example, for me the coolest lesson of Bernie 2016 is the mobile fundraising innovation. So, so, so many clever things done that charities should learn from and implement when it comes to their mobile strategy (to complement their 1961 strategy of text Red Cross to 12347 to donate $10).

Pharmaceutical: Humira 

There are some restrictions on selling prescription drugs in the US. This places some limits in terms of what we can track in web analytics tools. Not just PII, which we can’t track anyway, but the ability to use anonymous cookies for remarketing so on and so forth. Still, we can provide transformative KPIs in our Pharma practice:

Outcomes: Humira Complete Signups | Doctor Lookups 
Behavior: Unique Page Views (Condition) | Visitor Status (Login)
Acquisition: Visits (TV) | Click-Share (Search)

You can get tons of enticing stuff if you sign up for Humira Complete, including a Savings Card, and clearly the brand gets a lot out of it. Hence that’ll be our macro-outcome. There are lots of micro-outcomes, in this case given most Pharma companies are still in the early stages of savvy, I choose something close to making money, Doctor Lookups. I know Pharma companies also value prospective patients downloading the Discussion Guides which could also be a micro-outcome (in this case you get that after you do the Lookup).

The Humira site solves for 10 different conditions. That makes UPVs a great KPI to get deep visibility into what content is being consumed. The site hopes to drive a beyond the prescription connection with patients, with loads of resources behind the login. Hence, we use custom variables to track logged in status and we can analyze a whole host of valuable behavior and optimize our investments.

Humira does not believe in digital (ok, I’m just teasing them) but they love, love, love TV. Analysis that leverages their complete media plan in conjunction with site traffic will help provide one important measure of TV effectiveness. Ditto for any other major offline blitzes that Abbvie is running. Our last piece of the puzzle is AdWords Click-Share. There were 1,592,527 searches for Ankylosing Spondylitis, how many those clicks did you get? 1.2%. Great. Now shoot for 20% if you actually believe your drug is effective!

A quick best practice.

There is only one channel where our ability to discern intent is super-strong: Search. On Yandex. On Baidu. On Google. On Seznam. It is a little silly to think of Search in archaic terms like “Brand” and “Category.”

Think in terms of clusters of intent that you can solve for. See. Think. Do. Care. Search will solve for Think and Do. Sometimes your “Brand” terms will have weak commercial intent – in that case you should have Think Targeting and Think Content marketing strategies. Likewise your “Category” terms might reflect strong commercial intent, in that case Do marketing strategies will allow you to win bigger.

Let your competition be lame and play by a 1997 worldview. You take advantage of them by living in 2017!

As the post is getting long, understatement of the decade, let me just make recommendations for metrics for rest of teh businesses, and let you explore the site to figure out why they make the most sense in each case.

Government: California Department of Motor Vehicles

I love governments!

Outcomes: Online Applications/Renewals | Downloads
Behavior: Visits with Search | Customer Satisfaction (by Primary Purpose)
Acquisition: Visitors (Channels) | Visitors (City)

Task Completion by Primary Purpose is my absolute favorite metric for any website (all the ones above). It made most sense here. It is a part of my simple three questions that make the greatest survey questions ever.

A quick best practice.

A much more detailed collection of recommendations I’d written for the Government of Belgium a little while back: Web Analytics Success Measurement For Government Websites.

Stock Photography: Shutterstock

I spend hours looking for inspiration for the stock photos that end up on my LinkedIn Influencer channel posts.

Outcomes: Lifetime Value (Revenue Per User) |  Contributor Signups
Behavior: Cohort Analysis | Top Event (by Category) 
Acquisition: Visitors | Assisted Conversions

For someone as savvy as Shutterstock, Cohort Analysis at the intersection of incredible behavior analysis and optimizing acquisition across media channels.

Movie Studio: The Fate of the Furious

I hear it is Oscar-worthy. : )

Outcomes: Ticket Purchases | Completed Trailers 
Behavior: Unique Page Views | Outbound Clicks (All Access+) 
Acquisition: Visits | CTR (Paid)

One shift in movie sites is that the metrics and strategy have distinct phases, per-release, post-release, off-theaters (DVD, digital sales). You’ll have to have three sets of metrics as outcomes and marketing strategies change.

Mobile Gaming: Jam City 

Raise your hands if you love mobile games!

Outcomes: Downloads (by Store) |  Support Requests
Behavior: Videos Watched | Goal Flow (Source)
Acquisition: Click-Share (Mobile Search) | Visitors (Similar Audiences)

We are only measuring the value the website (mobile and desktop). If we had to measure the Apps itself, there would be an entire new cluster of metrics including 30-day MAUs, Lifetime Value, Sessions/User, so and and so forth.

Automotive Dealer: Nissan Sunnyvale 

Electric cars FTW!

Outcomes: No Brainer Price Requests | Service Appointments 
Behavior: Unique Page Views (Purpose Type) | Sessions With Search 
Acquisition: Visitors | Paid Clicks (by Media)

I have to admit I’m usually pretty torn between tracking online leads (no brainer request in this case) vs. leads via Chat (very prominent on most dealer sites) or Phone (very common). Often Chat and Phone can be more valuable (and numerous) than the online leads.

Food / Beverages: McCormick 

If there is an industry stuck in 1920s, it is the food companies (of all types). Their core value proposition from digital is still recipes – a marketing strategy as old as packed food. And not even interactive digital-first recipes – the same boring presentation and text as you’ll find on the back of the box!

There is so, so, so, so much more that food, beverages and restaurant companies can do. Digital is all pervasive in our lives, food is something we love and adore (and a top five category in content consumption on YouTube!), mobile allows these brands to be ever closer to us… all that’s needed is a pinch of imagination. PopChips and Chobani are two that show imagination with their content strategies, hopefully they inspire others.

Let’s see what we can measure if we had to do it for a great old brand McCormick.

Outcomes: Shopping Lists Created | Reviews Submitted
Behavior: Frequency | Events (Content Type)
Acquisition: Visitors (Referrals) | Clicks (Remarketing)

I came close to using Login Status for behavior, it would provide fascinating insight into the ability of McCormick to create loyalty, even brand evangelists. But, a quick peek at the competitive intelligence data shows that it is seems it is not all that important (barely any people login). If I were at McCormick I would look at the GA data and double-validate that. If it seems to be a big enough number, we can use Login Status as a segmentation strategy.

Tech Support: Dell US

Digital analytics for a tech support site tends to be a lot of fun, primarily because you can directly drive costs down and increase repurchase rate (loyalty) – thus hitting both sides of the balance sheet causing your CFO to give you a thousand kisses. 

Outcomes: Task Completion Rate (split by Primary Purpose, and Direct vs. Community support) | System Updates (Drivers, Diagnostics etc.)
Behavior: Page Views per Visit | Visits to Resolution 
Acquisition: Visits | Search Click-Share

A long, long time ago, when I was but a youth, I had a view on this topic… Measuring Success for a Support Website.

Social | YouTube: Prudential

In case your primary digital existence consists of a YouTube channel (I hope that is not the case, you want to have a solid owned AND rent platform strategies).

Outcomes: Subscribers | Brand Consideration
Behavior: Views (by Content Type) | Conversation Rate 
Acquisition: Views | Sources

I have a detailed primer on comprehensive YouTube success. It has more metrics you can use, if indeed you are a YouTube only existence.

Social | Facebook: Priceline

Priceline is a typical brand, and their page illustrates why an organic strategy is worth almost nothing on Facebook. You can easily validate that statement. Go ahead and click on the link above. As you scroll, you’ll notice that the numbers you see for each post are less than tiny. This applies for all companies, not just Priceline.

Facebook is an important strategy for your company, just let your focus be on a Paid Media strategy and measure success as you would any paid strategy.

But, if like Priceline you continue to have your organic content strategy on Facebook (or Twitter)…

Outcomes: Page Likes | Brand Consideration 
Behavior: Amplification Rate | Conversation Rate 
Acquisition: Visits | Paid Likes

You can do a lot more of course, if Facebook is your only digital outpost (though, again, I hope that is not the case as you need to have an owned and rented platform strategy)…

More here: Facebook Advertising / Marketing: Best Metrics, ROI, Business Value.

There you are. Fifteen completely different types of digital businesses that we can measure immensely effectively, usually uniquely, with the rich collection of data we have in any free/paid digital analytics solution.

I hope that you discovered new valuable metrics that will become KPIs to measure your Acquisition, Behavior and Outcome efforts. But, what I hope you’ll take away more is the application of critical thinking, to be more comfortable operating in ambiguity and bring ruthless focus and prioritization what is most likely to drive big action. You don’t have to get it all right the first time. Implement. Evaluate. Kill/Keep. Improve. Rinse. Repeat.

Carpe diem!

As always, it is your turn now.

If you picked six metrics (two each for A, B, O) for any site above, will you please share them via comments below? Is there a metric above that you particularly love/hate, why? Is there a metric you would use instead of something I used? Is there a type of site you have had a hard time picking metrics that matter the most? You’ve surely noticed some patterns in what I tend to like and don’t (notice, no time metrics above!), will you share your thoughts if you feel there is a sub-optimal bias there?

I look forward to your guidance to improve what I know, fill in gaps in my knowledge and the wisdom you have that I completely overlooked. Please share via comments.

Thank you.

The Very Best Digital Metrics For 15 Different Companies! is a post from: Occam’s Razor by Avinash Kaushik


Source: Avinash

Suck Less | A Plea For User-Centric Design: Powered By You!

SlicesAnalysts, honestly, make the world go round when it comes to any successful business – yes, data is that important. As you might expect from any role, they also make a handful of important mistakes. I’ve written about the biggest mistake web analysts make.

Today’s post is an adjacent mistake: The cardinal sin of spending too much time with data and in reports!</p

Wait. What?

Yes, I worry that Analysts, and Marketers, are spending too much time with their head buried in custom reports and advance segments and smart calculated metrics and strategic or tactical dashboards. Yes. They are all things I love and have repeatedly asked you to care for. But, perhaps I’m at fault for creating the problem of you spending all your time with data. Additionally, you are spending your day in the warm embrace of Adobe or Google Analytics because your job is set up as “data people.”

In the biggest mistake post above, I’d encouraged you to spend time with the business, with the site (mobile or desktop) and dig from a non-data point of view. Today, I want you to do the same… Spend less time with data and a bit more time with your website. Specifically, the most key elements of the website.

The higher order bit is simple. In the second post on this blog (one million words ago), I’d shared the value of qualitative analysis because it is the only way to get context you need to answer the question why something was happening, rather than just relying on data which only answers the question what happened. Lab usability testing and online surveys both provide great strategies to obsess about user centric design. My love for heuristic evaluations is sourced in the fact that they are relatively straightforward, require the best possible cost – almost free -, and rely on you and your team.

My idea today is even simpler. The four-point self-driven path-to-business-glory:

1. Find the most critical experiences in your digital existence.

2. Try them yourself as if you were the actual user.

3. Cry.

4. Now that you have the why, use the what to highlight the importance of improving the experience.

You must be freaking out, you have a huge website and 25 mobile apps.

While I do think it is a great idea for you to carve out 30 mins each week to execute the four-point approach above, I want you to start with places where your for-profit or non-profit entity is most likely to make money. Then, because this will be so addictively sexy, you should make time every week (might I suggest 1330 – 1400 hrs each Friday).

The initial focus of the above four steps will be the last-mile (core) experiences on your website. The starting point will be as simple as it can possibly be so that everyone in your company will care tons: Are we fabulous at the things most important to us making money as a company?

It does not matter if you are are B2B or B2C. Neither does it matter if you are a for-profit or a non-profit (it takes capital – human and financial – to change the world, right?).

My advice for you how to execute this massively important process is broken into the following sections, using delicious real-world examples:

Intrigued? Ready to learn from three wonderful companies, and their real-world reality, how be a one-woman/man user-centric design revolutionary?

Let’s go!

HTC Does Not Check-out

Let’s look at one example of the four step process above in action. It comes courtesy of a personal experience.

We all know HTC is in trouble. I’ve always thought they pushed the edge and took risks. I have had three HTC phones, and I loved HTC One. They have an approach to simplicity in software that is closer to a pure Google experience (when compared to the nails scratching a blackboard irritation that is personified in the Samsung phones).

I was in the market for a new phone recently (turns our tripping on oneself and falling into a swimming pool for a quick ten seconds is enough to fry a Nexus 5X). The announcement of an HTC 10 was that very day. A quick review of the even simpler approach by HTC to software (very close to pure Google, most default apps are Google) and pictures of the HTC 10 and I was sold.

Within ten seconds of getting the available for order email from HTC, I was on the Buy Now page.

And then… I was stumped…

HTC Checkout

Select Carrier was pre-selected as unlocked, exactly what I was looking for.

I could not figure out how to Select Color, which presumably would ungray the PRE-ORDER button.

#ARRRRRHHHHAAA

I reloaded. No dice. Opened the page in the Edge browser – sometimes Microsoft is all you need to do the trick. No dice.

Extremely frustrating.

I am a usability expert after all, I did figure it out.

Turns out you have to click on the Unlocked green icon. It does absolutely NOTHING when you click on it. But, that click opens up Step 2 for you to Select Color. That in turn opens up the PRE-ORDER button.

#doh

Now consider this. Here is a company in deep financial trouble. They desperately need early order like mine (at full price!), a full month before they’ll ship the phone. They really need to know if their marketing, and last hope the HTC 10, is going to be received well. Yet, no one bothered to try the web experience to check how much it sucked. AND, it was the only way to submit a pre-order!

The insanity of it all makes my blood boil. And, I don’t even work for HTC. As someone who loves the web, who is passionate about digital experiences, it makes me bat-crap cray-cray when I see this level of staggering incompetence.

It should upset you too. This is happening on your website.

When was the last time you submitted a product review on your site? Or, tried to submit a lead? Or, unsubscribe for your company mailing lists? Or, download a piece of software? Or, customize the layout of the car (boo BMW boo!)? Or, tried to return a product? Or…. or anything else that is directly connected to you making money?

Just do it.

My recommendation will yield two great outcomes:

1. You will get insights you can use for your data/campaigns. The why for your what .

2. You are going to become stark-raving mad at the incompetence you’ll see from your own company.

Thing 2 is priceless. And, your career will really, really take off.

United Breaks Hearts.

To prove that these experiences come in many different shapes and sizes, let’s look at another example.

united wifi

I humbly believe the worst checkout experience in the known universe is buying Wi-Fi on United planes. It does not work with password managers like Dashlane (which would greatly reduce the nightmare). The form has a crazy captcha that will require prayers to Buddha and the layer of magma in the middle of planet Earth. Drop-downs in the form related to credit card expiry date or other elements are terribly organized. It is missing primitive intelligence, like the city does not get auto-filled after you type in the Zip Code. It does not remember that I’m a United 1k member, and that they have all my credit card, underwear size etc. info already, and let me press one button to buy.

I would keep going on, and this is a one-page experience, but let me stop.

It honestly is the worst. I challenge you to submit an experience worse than this via comments below.

Oh, and one more thing. Set everything above. United is experimenting with pricing, you can buy Wi-Fi by the hour.

How about making it easy for me to figure out how much to buy…

United Wi-Fi Checkout

I’m flying from SFO to ORD.

It is not an 81 hour flight.

Not wanting to pay too much, I had to buy Wi-Fi twice because I guessed wrong the first time. Frustrating.

Why is something so gosh darn easy so very, very hard? I understand times are tough at United-Continental, but don’t United employees buy wi-fi on United planes? Or, even better, tried to buy Wi-Fi on competitor planes and realized how much better they are? Why do they put up with this atrocious horribleness? Don’t they love their company?

While I’m being a bit more passionate than you might expect me to…. consider that, literally, hundreds of thousands of people each day sit on a United flight – which is already frustrating for reasons that have nothing to do with United – and the very first thing they have to deal with is avoidable pain.

Patagonia Returns No Love.

Here’s a story of unrequited love.

There is perhaps no brand I love as much as Patagonia. I love, love, love Patagonia. I love the clothes, the quality, the fit and all that normal stuff. The reason I love, love, love Patagonia is the depth and breadth of their corporate responsibility and the fact that as a B Corps company doing good for the world is in their legal charter.

Patagonia though refuses to return my deep love for it because of how difficult it makes the most basic thing an ecommerce company should be good at: returning products.

Let me explain.

If you see me out and about, anywhere in the world, I’ll be wearing my well worn scratched blue nano puff jacket. I love them so much, I buy them for others. Recently though, my aunt did not like the green color and I had to return it.

It is easy to start a return…

patagonia returns step1

When you click continue you land on the Shipping & Billing Page. The Shipping Cost is described as “flat rate repair shipping cost.” I don’t actually want to repair anything, I just want to return the jacket. I don’t know if that is what Patagonia will charge me to return the jacket, or returns are free as I’m not sending anything for repair.

patagonia returns step2

What is also a tad bit confusing is that they are asking for a shipping address.

My mind goes back to the multitude of returns we have made via Amazon Prime, and I can’t recall having to confirm my shipping address.

Is the assumption of the Patagonia digital user experience team (if they have one) that most of their customers move after they buy Patagonia products?

Worse is yet to come.

When I scroll down on the above page, I see this… REVIEW ORDER.

patagonia returns step3

REVIEW ORDER?

What order?

Order to return a jacket?

Is Patagonia so short of buttons that they could not make a separate one for the return process and call it PROCESS RETURN?

I genuinely pause at this moment not sure how much the return costs, and what I’m ordering. Perhaps an address label?

But remember, I love, love, love this company. So, I persist.

Here’s the next page…. It is called Shipping & Billing. What the hell happened to REVIEW ORDER!

patagonia returns step4

I would have assumed at the minimum the above step would happen when they asked me if I had moved homes after ordering the jackets.

I persist of course and give them my credit card, which will be charged for $5 or $0. I’m not quite sure.

Then I have to go to two pop-up windows to separately print a page I have to include in the package and the page I have to stick outside the package.

The whole experience is so bad, it hurts my feelings. Especially because I really do love this brand and I can’t believe they suck so much.

I don’t understand what the problem is. Is this so bad because Patagonia run out of money having created a order submission process that they had to re-use it for processing returns? Is this so bad because no human at Patagonia has experienced returning anything they’ve purchased on the internet? Is this so bad because I am the only person who has ever purchased anything at patagonia.com and hence honestly they don’t need to give a crap for one person?

As an outsider to United, HTC and Patagonia, it is hard to understand why companies that put so much money into trying to provide a service seem to run out of money, or love, at the last-mile.

Fix that for your company. Fix the last-mile.

Oh, and remember my beloved blue nano puff jacket? Don’t bother searching for it using the search box on any patagonia.com webpage. You get zero product results. Zero. For a jacket that costs $199 list. Zero results via search. Patagonia is making me cry, I don’t know how I’m going to fall asleep tonight.

Your Turn | Ideas To Impact Your Bottom-line Today.

If you are a part of an ecommerce company, order something right now (in a different tab, keep this one open to read the rest of this post!). Make note of what frustrates you. Email it to the CMO. Then tomorrow. Try to cancel the order. Take notes. Email them to the CMO. If it won’t let you cancel the order, try to return the order after you get it. Take notes. Email them to the CMO.

That is what it takes to drive change.

If you work at Salesforce, submit an online lead, experience your company in all its frustrating glory that your potential customers do.

If you work at Unilever, go to any brand’s active Facebook page and submit a problem using the comment system. See what happens.

If you work at AT&T, try to review the current month’s bill to understand the charges on a family plan before you use the online bill pay feature. Then, get really, really mad. (Or, ask me to send you a video of my pain as I try to do that each month.)

If you work at the Lutheran World Relief, try the funky box that opens up when you hover over the red Donate Now, see how it feels. (Then fix it please.)

I hope you’ll be the bright star whose obsession with true digital simplicity and glory will infect others in your company. Imagine how many problems will be found, how much improvement can be driven…. all without Google or Adobe Analytics.

Oh. And, before I forget. Try all of the above on your mobile websites and mobile apps. I would post screenshots, but I fear the pain it would cause you. So. Be sure to have a friend or lover hold your hand before your dive into your company’s mobile experiences. It is going to suck a lot, but consider the fact that you are going to be doing God’s work and making the world a better place.

Bonus | Download: The team at Google has already spent loads of money on research to identify the mobile best practices, with loads of cool examples. Why not benefit from Google’s spend and improve your mobile experience? PDF Here: 25 Principles of Mobile Site Design.

[sidebar] I’m writing a weekly newsletter that shares tips on how to make sense of data, my favourite data visualizations, marketing strategies and things to avoid in your quest to be a smarter digital person. No advertising, just amazing advice. You can sign up here: The Marketing-Analytics Intersect. Thanks. [/sidebar]

BUT I Want Data-First!

For some in our audience here, it is hard to leave analytics and data behind no matter how desperately I want you to. I understand the pain of trying to let go of years of accumulated comfort from never having to experience your business, and only living through data. I’ve done it.

You can use data as a starting point, if you really want to.

It is possible that the HTC team could have found their heartbreaking Pre-Order page via the fabulous Shopping Behavior Analysis report that is part of the magnificent Enhanced Ecommerce Reporting in Google Analytics.

shopping behavior analysis google analytics

The above data does not belong to HTC (15% also might be a bit too high!). But, the first column is what we would be looking for. That could trigger a visit to the website to try the user experience.

I do want to caution that not everything broken will be so easy to find, hence I want you to complement your data skills and analysis efforts with just going to the site/app and trying to emulate a normal person (you!).

Another source of starting points, if you insist on using the data, is to leverage the Behavior Flow report that automatically helps you unpack the complexity of the user experience on your website or mobile app.

behavior flow report google analytics

I am not a huge fan of path analysis, so do know that you have some of those issues here. But, the GA team has done a wonderful job of trying to avoid some of the issues. Besides, you will likely be most intrigued by the red bars above and any really dark gray bars that are ending up in odd places.

By reflecting the actual behavior, GA is trying to get make this a productive use of your time and when it comes to trying to walk in the shoes of the user this report does a pretty decent job.

There are other reports you can use as well. I hesitate to give you a complete list because my core ask of you is to skip the whole data bit and just use your site/app.

Everything’s Fine. Our Digital Experience Rocks!

It does not.

If you want me to prove it to you, reach out with your URL. It won’t take too long to find the issues. 🙂

I do not believe in the everything’s fine mantra. Stay hungry, stay foolish. If my four step process outlined at the start of this post does not yield anything meaningful, I take it as an indicator that I’ve become assimilated.

In these cases, my strategy is to use the blessings of the multitude of online usability testing tools to identify problems my beloved users might be facing that I’ve become blind to.

Steps One and Two are the same as I’ve recommended for when conducting Heuristic Evaluations.

Then, you’ll pick a unmoderated usability (or moderated if you insist) tool you like, from UserTesting to UserZoom to Loop11 to UX Recorder (for mobile) to the many others out there. Conduct your studies, wait for the result to roll in, reflect on how much there is to do (a good thing!) and get stuff fixed.

Testing Kills/Delays Good Ideas.

If you have read either one of my books, or even bits of this blog, you would have learned of my extreme stress on experimentation in terms of fixing the user experience. And, I do stand by it. Most Analysts and Marketers are less than ideal proxies for actual users (you are too close to your own company).

There is a class of fixes, everything above, where you should not recommend testing anything. First, stop the bleeding. Just fix the primitive problems.

(I’m not sure there is one, but if there is one…) What should the United digital user-experience team to first? See what two of it’s main competitors are doing, take the simplest things, implement them right away.

No testing.

HTC team? Patagonia?

Ditto!

Or, just copy Bonobos or Amazon or someone who has already figured it out.

In these cases, testing becomes another boondoggle that will continue for another trillion years while the bleeding continues. You can even quantify the bleeding if you use any of the above report. It is very expensive.

Once the core is fixed, then use experimentation and testing to elevate yourself beyond your direct competitors, beyond how great your customers thing you could ever be.

Closing Thoughts.

I really did write this post for you, the person whose job description does not have one word about user experience or user-centric design. No matter what your title, dogfood your own digital experiences. You’ll find valuable insights that give context (why) to your data (what). Besides, you’ll get mad and pity your customers, and, because you are awesome, you’ll get things fixed.

And, once you fix all the last-mile (core) issues, don’t stop there. Most Analysts, Marketers, rarely search for their own brands on Bing or Google or Baidu and follow the experiences that come up to the end. Rarely do they click on their display ads and see what happens (remarketing to death!). Most don’t follow their brands on social media and are self-tortured by the embarrassment that is their social media presence. Most… You catch my drift.

User-centric design powered by you can transform your company. You can get a ton of enriching insights if you set aside 30 mins every week to use your mobile and desktop website, your mobile app, your Search ads and your social channels. So… make time, solve for world peace.

As always, it is your turn now.

Does your company have an existing user-centric design practice? If yes, are all the last-mile user experience problems solved in your digital experiences? Is there a cultural incentive in your company to do what I’m recommending above, even if your job is not UX? What is the most embarrassing thing you’ve discovered about your company? What is the most delightful phone buying, wi-fi ordering, order returning experience you’ve seen? Is there a painful experience you want to share, perhaps we can get it fixed (!)?

Please share your tips, best practices, painful experiences, joyous clicks, and masterful guidance via comments below.

Thank you.

Suck Less | A Plea For User-Centric Design: Powered By You! is a post from: Occam’s Razor by Avinash Kaushik


Source: Avinash

Ad Block Tracking With Google Analytics: Code, Metrics, Reports

PartialYou don’t use an ad blocker, right? Of course not! You would never want to take away the opportunity a content creator has online to monetize their work via ads.

I know that at least some of you think I’m being sarcastic. I am not, and this post is all about getting the data to show you that I am indeed not being sarcastic.

I am insanely excited that we can track ad blocking behavior in Google Analytics, so easily. This post covers these key elements:

Here’s how this post unfolds…

While you could call on your favorite IT BFF to do this for you, let me encourage you by saying that if I can do this all by myself…. You can do it too! Honestly, it is that easy.

Excited? Let’s go!

1. Ad block: #wth

The reason you might think I was being sarcastic above is that there is such venom in the media (of course the media!) about people who use ad blockers, and an incredible amount of hoopla around how the only reason media is dying is the awful people using ad blockers in their web browsers.

The reality is not quite that cut and dry.

First, plant me firmly in the column of people who believe that using an ad blocker is a personal choice, each person makes the moral decision they are most comfortable with. Second, I believe that the let me make cheap money by spraying and praying some of the most awful intelligent-deficient ads in large numbers is a contributing factors to users wanting to use ad blockers. Third, the profound lack of empathy for the user experience, especially on mobile, is another huge contributing factor.

If you are getting the feeling that I’m holding publishers, large and medium companies with large people, platforms and budgets to do more in this debate, you would be right. I am not excusing the users (see above, and more below).

Let me make this real for you, by looking at two specific examples.

Here’s a tweet by my wonderful friend Mitch Joel.

mitch joel adblocking tweet

Can you blame him for wanting to install an ad blocker?

And, now, whose fault is it? Both the non-intelligent advertiser and the non-intelligent publisher. Neither wants to grow up and consider using the data available for Mitch to be smarter about advertising. Both simply want cheap let me not work all that hard for it money.

Take thi second example from Forbes magazine on mobile… They are absolutely well within their rights to create a firewall around their site for people who use ad blockers…

Forbes Ad-Light

But think about their text in green for a moment.

On a mobile platform should Forbes not have pity on its users and load the unwanted ads as fast as it can? On a mobile device, which we use more often in deeply private (beds) and openly public (subway) situations should they not auto-play videos?

They should. They can block their site, they can ask everyone to pay for content, they can ask people to pay for no-ads. It is their right. But, the above is close to a ransom note from a corporation to exhibit basic human decency.

In all the discussions for inherent awfulness of users of ad blocking solutions, this perspective never gets as much play. After all the people with the ink are the ones with the non-intelligent cheap money seeking existences.

I hope in the discussion of ad blocking, this gets some play. Relevance in advertising is possible, it is even exciting. Consider the See-Think-Do-Care business framework, discern the intent of your audience and ensure that you ad content, ad targeting and ad landing page are aligned with your audience’s intent. You will be rich. They will be happier.

Speaking for me. I simply pay to get rid of advertising wherever I find it is awful (including at my employer, or powered by my employer’s platforms). I love YouTube Red (and get Google Play Music for free!!). I’m happy to pay for Google Contributor. I’m curious to see the evolution of Optimal, a startup working on a similar solution. I actively control my Google Ads (sadly other platforms are not this kind), I spend a lot of time on The New York Times and The New Yorker, pay for both. And, of course I would not be as smart about digital marketing as I am without paying for Baekdal Plus.

You see different models people use to make money there. You can make money with content. You just need to create something incredible of value and want to make intelligent money.

Conversely if your strategy is to not change, not think about the value exchange carefully enough, not innovate, then blocking off access to content of an entire country will still fail. I give you Sweden.

Let me get off my high horse, and let’s get some tracking going!

2. Technical how-to implement enhanced code guidance (Google Tag Manager or direct)

Tracking ad blocking behavior is quite simple.

If you have implemented analytics.js, via the standard recommended approaches, you can use the strategy below to simply update the code on your website manually. The code defines a simple plugin and then requires that plugin, passing it the custom dimension index that you’ll create to capture ad blocking status.

All you need to do is make sure you replace the two bits in the red…

adblock analyticsjs tracking avinash

I don’t trust WordPress to render code cleanly, always mucks something up. Please right click and save this text file: adblock_analyticsjs_tracking_avinash.txt

If you want to see a working example of this, just do View Source in your browser and check out my implementation of the above code. You’ll notice my UA id as well as the fact that I’ve set the dimensionIndex as 1 (which will also be true for you if you are not using Custom Dimensions yet).

So, what’s the code above doing? For security reasons, JavaScript code is not allowed to know what extensions are running on a user’s browser. This means we can’t be 100% sure if the user has an ad blocker installed, but we can make a pretty good guess. The way this code works is it creates an HTML element with the class name “AdSense” and temporarily adds it to the page. If the user has an ad blocker installed, the element will be invisible, so if that’s true after the code inspects the element, then we can be reasonably sure the user has some sort of ad blocker installed.

If you’re using GTM and the Universal Analytics tag, you can configure the tag to set the custom dimension via a user-defined custom JavaScript variable. The following function can be passed as that JavaScript and it will share whether ad block is enabled in the browser…

adblock gtm tracking avinash

Please right click and save this text file for your use: adblock_gtm_tracking_avinash.txt

Honestly, that is all you need to do when it comes to things that touch your site.

Let now go and configure the Google Analytics front-end.

3. Setting Google Analytics front end elements (custom dimensions, segments)

Reporting for the ad blocking behavior of your users won’t automatically show up in Google Analytics. We’ll have to do two things to get set up.

Setup the custom dimension.

You need to have Admin privileges to do this step (if you don’t have it, beg someone for it! :)).

Click on the Admin link in the top navigation.

On the resulting page, in the middle pane, called PROPERTY, you’ll see a link called Custom Definitions (weirdly marked with a Dd), click on it.

Then, click on Custom Dimensions.

Then, the beautiful red button called + New Custom Dimension.

Here’s the configuration…

ads blocked custom dimension

Hit Save, and you are done with this part.

ads blocked custom dimension final

Now you also know where the ZZ value of 1 in {dimensionIndex: ZZ} came from. Above.

Setup an advanced segment.

Go to any report in Google Analytics. On top of the main graph, you’ll see a button called + Add Segment, click on it.

Now, click on the red button named + New Segment.

On the left-side of the create segment window, you’ll see a list of choices, under Advanced click on Conditions.

In the box named Filter, in all likelihood the first button you’ll see will read Ad Content, click on it.

You’ll see a search box, type in Ads (of whatever you named your custom dimension above) and you’ll see a Custom Dimension called Ads Blocked. Click. If your boss prohibits you from searching, you can also scroll to the Custom Dimensions category and choose from there.

The next choice you’ll make is to change Contains to Exactly Matches, and finally in the box just type in 1. And, here’s the end result…

ads blocked advanced segment

With this quick step… you are ready to rock and roll with data.

Before we go further, want to guess how many users of this blog, a self-described tech-savvy audience, use ad blockers?

Do I hear 80%?

Do I hear a 70%?

The answer will surprise you, it surprised me!

4. Five Reports and KPIs that deliver critical insights from ad blocking behavior

One caveat… This blog does not have any advertising on it. My books and my startup have links in the right nav, but most people won’t think of them as pimpy ads as they are both mine and the books are inspired by the content from this blog. Hence, when I analyze the data below I might not find the type of insights between folks who use ad blocker and people who don’t use ad blockers because on this site…. there is no advertising.

I’m going to teach you what types of reports and things to look for once you implement the above code. You are going to find fantastic insights from this analysis (like I do when I do this on sites that have lots of ads). But, you might not necessarily see them in the pictures I’m going to show you below – the pictures are just to teach you.

The very first simplest thing you’ll do is figure out:

Q1. How many Users are blocking ads?

You can go to the first report you see when you log into Google and choose your Ads Blocked advanced segment (from above), and you’ll be in business.

I LOVE custom reports [Five Smart Downloadable Custom Reports ]. I used one of my simpler acquisition custom report, and after I apply the segment, this is what it looks like…

google analytics ad block reporting overview

Roughly 14% is the answer.

I have to admit I was pretty darn shocked. Most of my experience suggested that the minimum would be 50%, and perhaps even as high as 75% because of the attributes of the audience that reads this blog.

So much for experience!

This the the fun part about data. It beats experience / opinion / hot air / gut feelings etc.

Go get your own data. Don’t wait for a newspaper, guru, pontificator-in-chief give you a “best practice.”

Also above, you can see bounce rates (I expect that it will be much more different on your site, remember I have no ads here so it would not really dirve big differences). And, you can see the all important metric of Conversion Rate.

Nice report right? Acquisition, behavior, outcomes!

Q2. What is the difference in content consumption between people who block ads and those that don’t?

Simple. Go to the Behavior folder, click on Overview, and bada bing, bada boom…

ads blocked content consumption

There seems to be slight difference between the time that people stay on the site if they use ad blockers. On your site, if you have loads of ads, I suspect you’ll see a much larger difference.

Also look at the contrasts between Pageviews and Unique Pageviews.

Q3. Given the difference in privacy concerns across countries, is the ads blocking rate materially different across the world?

Go to Audience, Geo, Location…. In the bread crumbs on top of the table in this report, I choose Continent (simply to show you the whole world in a small table in the space I have available here)…

google analytics ads blocked location

As you might have expected, Europe is the highest (but not by all that much). This was really fascinating for me because regardless of if I have ads on my site or note, this data is unaffected by the behavior things I was concerned about above. I would have expected Europe or Germany to have way, way higher than ad blocking then I saw in my blog’s data.

Q4. Money! Do I have higher Per Session Goal Value from people who block ads?

Here’s the theory behind this question: If the users are blocking ads they are having a better experience. And, if they are having a better experience, then it is more likely they deliver more goal value per session.

I created a quick and simple custom report for this (standard Google Analytics reports are so cluttered!).

Here’s the main graph that allows me to reflect on long term trends…

ads blocked acquisition overview

For me at least, I would call it a wash.

Your mileage might wary because you’ll actually have ads.

I consider this metric, Per Session Goal Value, to be critical for publishers and hence likely the best one you can use to measure the various implications on you from people’s use of ad blockers.

Next, you’ll look at the scorecard in the table, it gives you three simple metrics that will give context to PSGV…

ads blocked acquisition scorecard

And, finally of course you’ll look to see if our KPI, PSGV, is influenced by the traffic source…

ads blocked acquisition detail

You can see the obvious differences above, it will give you a peek into the heads of the people coming to your site and it will also help you optimize your ad targeting and ad content strategies for Paid Media and even your Earned Media.

Q5. Do people who use ad blocking technologies end up being more loyal customers?

This is a very intriguing question to ask if you are a publisher. Does the recency and frequency change for people who use ad blockers?

Again, that is based on the hypothesis that if you are using ad blockers then supposedly you are having the best experience on the site, it should make your recency and frequency have a different (better!) profile.

I end up using this data to figure out, if the difference is material, to figure out how to consider monetizing these folks (“$5 for an ad-free experience, and you support us and keep us alive!”).

There are other reports you can look at as well, but the collection of KPIs and reports above help you get pointed in the right direction.

And, that’s a wrap!

As always, it is your turn now.

Do you track ad blocking behavior on your website today? If you use a different coding strategy, would you care to share it with us? How many people use ad blockers website, and what type of site is it? Do you see material differences in how people with ad blockers behave (bounce rates, depth of visit, per session goal value etc.) when compared to people who don’t use ad blockers? Loaded question, do you block ads in your default browser?

Please share your strategies, successes, failures, lessons and advice via comments below.

Thank you.

PS: If you have not signed up for my pithy and insightful newsletter, I would love to have you as a subscriber. Sign up here: The Marketing-Analytics Intersect.

Ad Block Tracking With Google Analytics: Code, Metrics, Reports is a post from: Occam’s Razor by Avinash Kaushik


Source: Avinash