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May

18

2017

5 Helpful Insights You Can Find Using Twitter Analytics

Published by in category analytics, Daily, Social Meda | Comments are closed

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When it launched in 2014, Twitter Analytics marked a solid (if long overdue) move towards greater transparency and measurement abilities for all users. And since then, Twitter has continued to make upgrades to the tool, most recently by creating a standalone analytics app called Engage, and launching analytics for Twitter Moments.

Though users now have more insight into their Twitter account metrics, they might not be using them to their full potential.

They’ve poked around the Twitter Analytics homepage and figured out they can track impressions and metrics by promoted or organic activity … and that’s about it.

The good news is there’s much more you can discover in your Tweet activity dashboard — you’ve just got to know where to look. Beyond the basic metrics, here are some incredibly important things you can discover about your Twitter account and audience using Tweet Analytics.

How to Use Twitter Analytics

You can access Twitter Analytics by tapping your profile and selecting “Analytics” from the dropdown menu:

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1) See Which Content Resonates With Your Audience

Understanding which types of content and topics your audience members most enjoy can help drive your social marketing and content strategy. What’s the point in sharing content no one cares about or enjoys?

On the “Tweets” tab, you can see Impressions, Engagements and Engagement Rate (Engagements divided by Impressions) for each tweet, for paid and organic posts. Engagements include all activity on the tweet: retweets, follows, replies, favorites, and all clicks on the tweet, link, hashtag, etc.

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For a more granular view of the volume of each type of engagement, you can click on the specific tweet:

twitter-analytics-dashboard.png

Understanding which content items get the most engagement on Twitter is huge. If you can even commit 10 minutes a week to recording your top five or ten tweets by engagement so you can start seeing trends over time — and then applying those insights to future tweets — you’ll be able to better connect with your audience.

2) Understand How People Interact With Your Tweets Over Time

This is a really common question among social media marketers and brands: What made my tweet take off?

Some tools can analyze your Twitter followers and recommend the best day of the week for you to tweet. There’s also research out there showing when people are most likely to be active on Twitter. But of course, the best way to get to know your own audience is from your own account data.

On the Tweets dashboard, you can customize the date range you want to analyze to see when you published your highest-performing tweets:

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Twitter used to offer the ability to view a tweet’s engagement over the course of a day, and I think it was a mistake to remove that feature. I hope they bring it back in an update soon so users can analyze the best time of day to tweet from their account.

3) Get to Know Your Followers

Twitter’s audience data in the “Followers” tab contains a ton of valuable and useful insights. This is where you can really get to know the people who follow you.

You’ll find answers to questions like: Are your audience members more likely to be male or female? Which countries and cities are the majority from? What are their top interests? You can also see who your followers follow as well as your follower’s top five most unique interests. Answering these questions can help you better identify what content to create and share on Twitter — and when to share it.

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You can also compare your Twitter followers to different segments — for example, to all Twitter users total:

twitter-analytics-follower-comparison.png

4) See Whether Your Follower Base Is Growing (or Shrinking)

I’d call myself a Twitter power user now, but it wasn’t always so. For several years, I slowly grew my following up to about 8,000 followers. In the past few years that I’ve really focused on my Twitter presence, I’ve picked up another 704,000.

Now, Twitter allows you to track your follower growth. Twitter Analytics shows you how many followers you had on any given day with the interactive timeline pictured below. Hovering over various points on the timeline will show you the exact follow count on that day. It spans back to the day your account was started.

twitter-analytics-follower-count.png

If you’re seeing blips in your follower count over time, it’s important to revisit your activity in those periods and see if you can learn from it. How often were you posting then — and what were you posting about? Were you taking the time to reply to folks, too? Answering questions like these can help you explain these blips — and avoid the same mistakes in the future.

5) Determine If Your Twitter Ads Are Worth the Money

I’ve been experimenting recently with paid promotions on Twitter. After reviewing my own data in Twitter Analytics, I realized my ads weren’t as effective as I thought they would be.

In the Tweets tab, right at the top, there’s a chart that gives an overview of your paid and organic tweet performance. Like other Twitter Analytics charts, this one is interactive, so hovering over specific parts will show you more precise numbers, as in the example below. Keep in mind that the data only goes back 91 days, so take advantage of the ability to export it regularly. You can make comparisons over longer periods of time in another program.

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I’m not spending a ton on paid promotions — around $100 a day when I use them — but at a glance, I can see that compared to organic posts, they’re not having a huge effect. If I were running specific promotions, I’d be interested in the Conversions information available in Twitter Analytics. But for getting more impressions on my content, it doesn’t seem worth it because I could get that exposure for free by just tweeting a few extra times per day.

Obviously, this will vary for every user, but this panel in Twitter Analytics is a pretty simple way to see what you need to make that decision.

Just below that chart, you can click “Promoted” to see all of your paid promotions in chronological order. This shows you how many engagements and impressions each one earned, helping you pinpoint which paid promotions are working (and which ones aren’t).

Exporting Data: How to Discover Even More Trends in Twitter Analytics

Twitter Analytics is great as an interactive dashboard for accessing increasingly granular data about your Twitter account performance.

The most useful feature I’ve found is the ability to export data from the Twitter API as a CSV file. Even power users with a ton of account activity can fairly quickly export their Analytics data.

To export your data, select the timeframe you’d like to use, and click the “Export Data” button in the top right corner of your Twitter Analytics Dashboard.

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You can then sort through your exported data using Excel in ways not possible within the platform itself. For example, I extracted the time of day of my last 2500 tweets and plotted the tweet engagement rate vs. time of day, as shown here:

time-of-day-vs-engagement-rate

What I found was that the engagement rate (i.e. the # of engagements/impressions) held steady (on average) regardless of the time of day — possibly because I have a ton of international followers. It got me thinking that I really ought to be scheduling my content for all hours of the day, not just during business hours in my local time zone. Sure, fewer people will see my updates at 2 a.m. local time, but those who do are just as likely to engage with the content as those who see it during business hours.

There are so many other columns of data in the CSV export, including the number of favorites, retweets, link clicks, replies, URL clicks, follows, etc. So you can do this kind of customized analysis on whatever metrics you care most about.

Ultimately, the best data is your own, so make time to check out Twitter Analytics and see what you can learn and do with it. Figure out which tweets resonate and why. Then, work those insights into your social media marketing strategy for a more successful way forward. For more ideas, download HubSpot’s guide to getting more Twitter followers.

What are your must-know tips for using Twitter Analytics? Share with us in the comments below.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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Apr

18

2017

An Introduction to Data Visualization: How to Create Compelling Charts & Graphs [Ebook]

Published by in category analytics, Daily, Design, Leadership | Comments are closed

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Your data is only as good as your ability to understand and communicate it. Effective marketers aren’t only able to understand and analyze the numbers, but also to effecticely communicate the story behind those numbers.

The best way to tell a story with your data is by visualizing it using a chart or graph. Visualizing your data helps you uncover patterns, correlations, and outliers, communicate insights to your boss, your team, or your company, and make smart, data-backed decisions.

Designing charts and graphs may seem intimidating — especially to folks who aren’t designers by trade. But the good news is, you don’t need a PhD in statistics to crack the data visualization code. We’ve created a new guide to help you: An Introduction to Data Visualization: How to Design Compelling Charts & Graphs That Are Easy to Understand.

This guide will walk through:

  • What data visualization is and why it’s important;
  • When to use the different data types, data relationships, and chart types;
  • How to visualize your data effectively;
  • The best data visualization tools.

Ready to learn how to analyze, visualize, and communicate your data better? Download our free introductory ebook on data visualization and use what you learned to run better experiments, create better presentations, and make better business decisions.

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Apr

12

2017

The Beginner's Guide to Email Marketing [Free Ebook]

Published by in category analytics, Daily, email marketing | Comments are closed

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Companies often list email as one of their most powerful marketing channels. With email usage worldwide projected to reach 3 billion users by 2020, businesses simply have to continue using email marketing to reach their audiences if they want to scale quickly.

But anyone who’s tried email marketing knows it’s not as simple as quickly drafting a message and hitting the “send” button. You have to build a healthy email list, make sure you’re complying with CAN-SPAM regulations, segment your lists so you’re delivering the right messages to the right people, create different types of emails for all different situations, design attractive and on-brand emails, analyze results … is your head spinning yet?

Yes, effective email marketing takes time, effort, and strategy, but it’s something you can learn and implement quickly. We’ve creating a new guide to help you do just that: The Beginner’s Guide to Email Marketing.

This email marketing beginner’s guide will take you step-by-step through how to get started with email marketing, starting at the very beginning. It covers:

  • Email marketing best practices;
  • How to grow a healthy email list;
  • How to save time using email automation;
  • The different types of marketing emails (with examples);
  • The most important email metrics to measure (with formulas);
  • An email A/B testing checklist.

This guide will give you all the information you need to start a successful email campaign on your own. So download our free ebook,The Beginner’s Guide to Email Marketing, and you’ll find that you don’t need to be a seasoned email marketing expert to see a positive ROI in a short amount of time.

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Apr

8

2017

What Is Bounce Rate? (And How Can I Fix Mine?)

Published by in category analytics, Daily | Comments are closed

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Outside of the marketing context, the word “bounce” is actually kind of fun. It reminds us of childhood hours passed in an inflated bounce house, of a basketball game, or maybe even a game of jacks.

But when it comes to your website’s analytics, it’s part of a metric that can be really confusing when you first stumble upon it: The bounce rate.

A lot of questions pop into your head. Is a bounce rate close to 100% good, or bad? Is it at all like a bounced email? Is it a fluffy metric that I should ignore? And if I want to fix it, what should I do? New Call-to-action

Luckily, you’re not alone. Many marketers have asked those questions and might not have found a solid answer yet. We’re here to shed some light on the elusive bounce rate. We’ve put together a quick overview of what constitutes a bounce rate — and what doesn’t — and help you find some ways to fix it.

What Is Bounce Rate?

To answer what is perhaps the most important of these questions: No, your website bounce rate is not the same as your email bounce rate. Your website’s bounce rate is the percentage of people who land on a page on your website, then leave. They don’t click on anything else. They just get to one of your pages, hang out for a bit, then leave.

Keep in mind that bounce rate is different than an exit rate. Bounce rates only measure “one-and-done” visits — the ones in which people arrive and leave your website without navigating away from a single page. Here’s what they look like in your HubSpot Web Analytics Dashboard, for example:

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Exit rates, on the other hand, are a little more complicated. They include the percentage of people who leave your website from a certain page — but, that’s not necessarily the only page they’ve visited on your website. The page from which they exited could be the last in a long sequence of page visits. That’s why the exit rate isn’t always as troubling as bounce rates.

Comparing Bounce Rates and Exit Rates

Let’s say you were comparing bounce rates and exit rates for a thank-you page. A high bounce rate on that page would be kind of alarming, because that means people are only viewing that page alone, then clicking away. Even worse, they didn’t fill out a form to get to it, which means you’re losing out on conversions.

But a high exit rate, on the other hand, wouldn’t be cause for concern. It would mean that this page was the last in a chain of visits — people exiting from that page probably arrived from its preceding landing page, downloaded the offer on the thank-you page, and left to go make use of the content they just downloaded.

Keep in mind that this scenario is hypothetical, and these takeaways can differ based on other page metrics — but it serves as a simple illustration of the difference between bounce and exit rates.

How to Reduce High Bounce Rates

Now you know what a bounce rate is. But what can you actually do about it?

In general, high bounce rates might indicate that the page is irrelevant or confusing to site visitors. But don’t jump into drastic actions like deleting a page or undertaking a redesign right away. There are some important steps you need to take before you figure out which action to take.

Remember: Bounce rates really only tell you that someone landed on a web page and left it without visiting any other page on your website. It doesn’t tell you how someone interacted with your page. That’s why it’s important, says HubSpot’s Principal Product Marketing Manager Jeffrey Vocell, to take “practical steps” to examine other metrics and pieces of your web presence to see what might be behind the bounce rates. We’ve outlined these steps below.

1) Ensure your website is mobile-friendly.

There are now more searches and traffic coming from mobile devices than desktops. That makes it crucial, says Vocell, “to not only provide a mobile-ready experience,” but to make sure that experience is engaging. How annoying is it when you arrive at a mobile site, only to have to zoom-in to read its content? Having a responsive site is no longer enough — engagement with the mobile version has to be user-friendly and interactive.

Video is one particularly engaging type of content. It can often explain complex topics more concisely than text, which might be why 4X as many customers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it. But when it comes to mobile usage, long videos require a significant amount of data and might therefore slow the user experience — causing the visitor to bounce. For that reason, Vocell suggests eliminating these longer videos from your mobile site, or creating more concise versions that still address the most important points.

This kind of improvement, however, isn’t limited to video. Take a holistic approach to evaluating your mobile experience, and consider how you’ll address contingencies like these.

2) Look at your bounce rate based on different sources.

Sometimes, the sources directing traffic to a given page might have something to do with its bounce rate. That’s why the HubSpot Web Analytics Dashboard allows you to break down the bounce rate according to source:

Bounceratebyselectedsource

Let’s say your bounce rate is particularly high for visitors coming from social media — take a close look at the message you’re using to accompany the content you’re distributing.

“Does it truly match what the content is about?” Vocell challenges marketers to ask. “Would a visitor clicking on that link in Twitter, or Facebook expect to see the headline, and initial image?” If the answer to either of those questions is “no,” your promotion strategy might need some work.

When you’re distributing your website’s content, make sure the messaging actually matches the page to which you’re directing visitors. You have to clearly meet the expectations of the visitor — regardless of source.

3) Avoid other disruptions that might hurt the user experience.

We’ve already discussed the importance of a good mobile user experience — but that actually goes for all platforms. Things like full-screen pop-ups, for example, are not only annoying, but given Google’s recent algorithm update, they can also result in search penalties.

But the key thing to consider is the user. “You want visitors to be drawn into your page and stay for as long as needed to convert,” says Vocell, and while “some pop-ups are good,” — like well-crafted inbound messages that add context to a site — avoid any that significantly disrupt the user experience in a way that might cause visitors to leave.

4) Determine which keywords this page ranks for — and if your content sufficiently covers those topics.

Remember how we cautioned against misleading visitors about your site’s content in social distribution? The same goes for keyword rankings. “Matching keyword intent to your content is important to ensure organic visitors get the content they expect,” explains Vocell.

Let’s say someone is searching for “marketing automation software solutions” — it’s likely that this person is looking for software to help nurture leads into customers. But if someone is using the query, “What is marketing automation?”, she’s probably not at a stage where she’s looking to buy a product. Rather, this person is looking for content that’s more informative than anything else.

So when you evaluate the keywords for which you’re page is ranking, make sure they’re aligned with the actual content. Once you’ve done that, try looking at a topic-cluster framework — the kind that groups your site’s pages into clusters according to subject — to help attract organic traffic to the right pages.

Let’s Bounce

When you’re investigating bounce rates, make sure you’re looking at the full picture. Take a look at the time people spend on your site, where they’re coming from, and what device they’re using — and if your content and experience are aligned with all of those factors. You might uncover patterns that show how you can fix the bounce rate problem.

Think of bounce rates like your car’s “check engine” light. When it goes on, you know there might be a problem — but you need to check all of the car’s systems to accurately diagnose the issue. There’s no one-size-fits-all fix for bounce rates, but knowing what they are and how they can inform your marketing strategy can help ensure your website’s success.

What have you done to address your bounce rates? Let us know in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2014 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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Mar

24

2017

The 10 Digital Fundraising KPIs Your Non-Profit Must Track

Published by in category analytics, Non-Profit, non-profit marketing, Nonprofit | Comments are closed

SpyGlass_NP_KPI.jpgInbound marketing has flooded us with information and data. Some of us data geeks have never been happier. For others, the volume of metrics and KPIs (key performance indicators) can be overwhelming.

If you’re a non-profit focused on increasing donations and donors, here’s a list of the 10 KPIs, put together by Network for Good, of digital fundraising KPI’s you must have a handle on.

New donor acquisition rate

This KPI is a simple and as broad as it seems. You can look at by time frame: How many new donors come on by month, each year? You can also look at it by channel and by campaign. You can also look at new donor acquisition growth as percentage over similar timeframes or campaigns.

Donor renewal rate

The most immediate donor renewal rate is year-over-year. Get the number of donors from last year (LYD) and determine how many of those same donors gave again this year (TYD). Then divide TYD/LYD to get your donor renewal rate. So if you had 100 donors last year and 80 of them donated again this year, your donor renewal rate is 80%. The challenge here is how far back do you go to consider a donor a “renewal” or “lapsed.”

Net new donors

Net new donors looks at your new donors and renewed donors to reveal if you’re treading water, falling behind, or gathering force. Your donor acquisition rate is usually a raw number. If 100 people donated this year who’d never donated before, that’s 100 new donors. But what if your donor renewal rate is only 50% (50 people who donated last year didn’t donate again)? The low donor renewal rate undercuts the value of your newly acquired donors. Calculating your net new donors highlights this critical gap and adds context to your new donor acquisition rate. This KPI is also important for gauging the engagement level of your donor base.

While new donor acquisition rates are important, relying on them too much to fund your organization puts a lot of pressure on your development team. You’ll see when we talk about metrics such as cost to acquire donor and average donation. Repeat donations are vital to a strong, consistent flow of donations.

Time to first/second gift

This is a measure of time elapsed between a first and second gift. In essence, making sure your new donor is retained, and doesn’t become a net new donor casualty. According to the Fundraising Effectiveness Project’s 2015 report, only 19% of first time donors donate are retained, whereas 63% of repeat donors are retained. This argues strongly in favor of keeping the time lapse between first and second gifts as short as possible. The earlier you get a donor into a habit of giving to your organization, the higher that donor’s lifetime value is likely to be.

Donor reactivation rate

Let’s say you consider any donor who hasn’t donated in the past five years to be lapsed. This is the pool you’ll use to calculate how many you’ve reactivated. If you’ve run any donor reactivation campaigns targeting them (and you should!), you can also look at reactivation rates for each one to determine which are most effective.

Cost to acquire a donor (by channel)

This formula will tell whether a fundraising campaign or channel is worth the cost of operation. Take the cost of a campaign, e.g. you spent $8,000 on a PPC ad campaign driving traffic to your donations’ landing page. Then divide that cost by the number of people who arrived at the landing page via the ads and donated. If that campaign brought in 100 new donors, the acquisition cost for each of those donors was $80.

Average gift (by channel)

Now, if the average gift from that PPC campaign was $50, that might not seem like such a great campaign. Slow down. We’ll get to those metrics touching on the life time value of a donor. But now you can also see why knowing your donor retention and reactivation rates are so important. The cost to acquire a new donor will almost inevitably be higher than that first gift.

You can calculate average gift amounts by campaign and channel. The channel average is particularly important so you know where to focus your efforts, especially when you look at the average compared to the cost. For example, you may find that people donating through a dedicated donation landing page have a higher average gift than those who donate via the “donate” button on your organization’s website.

Revenue per donor (by channel)

The raw dollars donated via each channel over a fixed time or campaign divided by number of donors. These include your different digital donation avenues, such as email and social media solicitations, as well as traditional direct marketing or ad campaigns. So if $100,000 is donated by 500 people from email solicitations last year, the revenue per donor for this channel is $200.

Gross/net revenue

Put simply, this calculation shows your donation totals less the costs to generate those donations. You can look at this by channel, such as how much you raise via Facebook less how much you spend to maintain that channel. You can also calculate this by campaign and by donor type. When you calculate this by donor type, you’ll have better insight into the different costs of acquiring new donors versus retaining or reactivating donors.

Lifetime value (by channel)

Finally! I’ve been talking about it, but here we are. The lifetime value of a donor is critical to understanding if you’re attracting the right kinds of donors. That’s why you also want to look at lifetime value by channel. Some channels may attract higher value donors than others.

To calculate LTV (lifetime value) you need some underlying metrics. To calculate a donor’s LTV, you need their total donation amount, less the cost to acquire and retain that donor. The cost number will be less precise than total amount donated. If you calculate how much you spend per year on retention donation campaigns, you can add that average to the acquisition cost for that donor.

More valuable is the LTV by channel. To calculate LTV by channel, you need to know the average lifespan of that channel’s donors, its average donation amount, the total number of the channel’s donors and number of donations. Let’s work this out with an example, say donors acquired through Facebook.

5 (average lifespan in years) x 100 (average donation amount) x [1000 (# of donations)/ 500 (# of donors)] = $1000 in LTV per donor for the channel.

Now if you know that your cost to acquire a new donor via Facebook is $100, that’s $900 in mission money. Compare that to the $80 in cost to acquire a new donor via the PPC campaign, which has a LTV of $500. The PPC-acquired donors cost less to acquire, but have only half the LTV of your Facebook-acquired donors.

Conclusion

As you can see, no single KPI is an island. Individually they offer interesting snapshots. To get a more holistic view of how your fundraising is going and whether you’re spending your development and marketing budgets to maximize ROI, you need look at the complete story these KPIs tell together. Use this as your starting point how to analyze these KPIs in context of each other.

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Nov

17

2016

Facebook’s Miscalculated Metrics: What Marketers Need to Know

Over the past couple of months, you may have heard some things about Facebook’s metrics.

There was talk of numbers — lots of them. Things were overestimated. Others were underestimated. People were kind of upset. But mostly, they were confused. What the heck happened? How was Facebook going to respond? And at the end of the day, what did it mean for marketers? Breathe, and don’t panic — we’re here to answer all of that.But before we dive in, let’s make one thing clear — none of it is the end of the world. Download our free guide for more data-backed tips on creating the optimal Facebook Ad. In fact, most of the issues have already been addressed and repaired; at this point, the most important item on our agenda is to clarify what’s actually going on.

What Happened?

It started with video

The drama began in September 2016, when Facebook revealed that there was a problem with its video viewership metrics — the average time that users spent watching videos was being largely overestimated.

Mathematically, Facebook wrote in a statement, that metric should have been the resulting figure from dividing the total time spent watching a video by the total number of people who played it. Instead, the total viewing time was divided by the number of times the video was watched for three seconds or more.

So, let’s say a video received a total viewing time of five hours, or 300 minutes, and it was watched by a total of 1,000 people, 700 of whom watched it for at least three seconds. The viewership metric should be 30%. Instead, Facebook was dividing those 300 minutes by 700, resulting in a larger metric of nearly 43%. And, says the Wall Street Journal [WSJ], that went on for nearly two years.

For a social media platform that boasts how effective its video tools are for marketers, the announcement was an embarrassment. The advertising world was especially unhappy about it — Publicis Media, an ad-buying agency, told its clients that Facebook indicated viewing time overestimates of up to 80%. There were calls for third-party metric verification protocols to be put in place, and while Facebook said that it fixed the error and would be looking into such improvements, the metric misfortune didn’t end there.

A bit of a bug

In fact, just yesterday, Facebook announced that it discovered a bug in its Pages Insights that’s been lurking since May. The summary displaying seven- or 28-day organic page reach was incorrectly added up as the sum of daily reach over that period. That means duplicate visitors were being counted in every instance, leading to a number that was 33% higher than it should have been for seven-day summaries, and 55% for the 28-day ones. Facebook clarified that this error would not impact paid ads.

Here’s how Facebook visually represented the error — the red circle indicates where the duplicate viewership would have appeared.

Facebook Page Insights

Source: Facebook

But you’ll notice that there are green circles in that image, too. Those indicate the insights that were unaffected by the bug — which was the “vast majority” of them — and includes the following measurements:

  • All graphs
  • Daily and historical reach
  • Per-post reach
  • Exported and API reach data
  • All data on the Reach tab

What else was impacted?

In addition to the Page Insights, the bug really only impacted a total of four out of Facebook’s 220 measured metrics, according to WSJ. The remainder included:

More video miscalculations.

This time, the “video views at 100%” — which has been renamed to “video watches at 100%” — metric was impacted, thanks to a glitch that sometimes causes a video’s audio and visual components to be unsynced.

That means that even though the visual is played to completion, the audio may continue after the visual stops. But since about 85% of Facebook video is consumed without sound, viewers are likely to stop watching the video before this latent audio completes. As a result, “video watches at 100%” metrics might now increase by an estimated 35%.

Instant articles.

Here’s another case of Facebook’s overestimations. The average time spent reading Instant Articles — a method by which Facebook displays news articles at a rate 10X faster than a typical mobile web browser — was reported to be 7-8% higher than the actual length of time per article.

Referrals.

In Facebook’s Analytics for Apps dashboard, “referrals” are intended to measure the number of clicks on a post that were directed to an app or website. But it turns out that the “referrals” metric was counting more than that, and inaccurately also included clicks on the same post to view media, like photo or video. That led to an overestimate of referrals by about 6%.

Facebook’s Response

In Facebook’s defense, significant measures have been taken to resolve all of the above issues.

For some, the errors pertaining to ads seem to be the most pressing, which could be why the social media platform has dedicated an entire page to the updates around ads reporting alone. Most of those changes are intended to provide clarification over what exactly is being measured and how — mostly in the interest of “fairness and transparency,” Mark Rabkin, Facebook’s VP of core ads, told WSJ.

Plus, Facebook claims to be taking the feedback to implement third-party measuring protocols seriously, and aims to further clarify how it’s going to calculate ad viewership, as well as the source of that data. Some of it will be coming from Moat and Integral Ad Science — platforms that are used to measure ad and content engagement — which will be used to measure display ad campaigns (previously, those platforms were only available to measure video campaigns).

But Facebook is also enlisting the help of a true viewership pioneer: Nielsen.

Nielsen has its own Digital Content Ratings metric, which Facebook will be implementing to count video viewership — both on-demand and live. That comes with Nielsen’s Total Audience Measurement, which helps marketers compare digital metrics to those from TV.

There’s also a new blogging property launching — Facebook’s Metrics FYI — which will contain regular updates about any and all changes to the platform’s metrics henceforth.

These efforts are all compounded by the formation of a Measurement Council — or, as we like to call it, Facebook’s jury of peers. The Council will be comprised of “business and measurement executives,” and is a bit of an extension of Facebook’s existing Client Council, which helped to develop the tools that help businesses measure ROI.

What It All Means for Marketers

So just how seriously should we be taking it? Well, in short, marketers have reason to be happy about the improvements that Facebook is making, but shouldn’t freak out over the miscalculations.

Why is that? According to Daria Marmer, HubSpot’s social product manager, “Most of the metrics in question are what we’d call vanity metrics. Views and impressions are important, but don’t have a huge impact on your business at the end of the day.”

And while Marmer echoes the benefits of Facebook’s measures to fix these discrepancies, “We really encourage marketers to tie their social efforts to more concrete metrics,” she said, “such as website visits, downloads, new leads.”

She adds, “The social data from Facebook in HubSpot customers’ portals won’t change based on these updates.”

We’ve got you covered. And, we’ll continue to bring you updates to all things social as they emerge.

What do you think of Facebook’s latest announcements, and what sort of action are you taking? Let us know in the comments.

free ebook: future of Facebook advertising

free guide to using facebook for business and marketing

Nov

17

2016

Facebook’s Miscalculated Metrics: What Marketers Need to Know

Facebook Metrics.png

Over the past couple of months, you may have heard some things about Facebook’s metrics.

There was talk of numbers — lots of them. Things were overestimated. Others were underestimated. People were kind of upset. But mostly, they were confused. What the heck happened? How was Facebook going to respond? And at the end of the day, what did it mean for marketers? Breathe, and don’t panic — we’re here to answer all of that. But before we dive in, let’s make one thing clear — none of it is the end of the world. Download our free guide for more data-backed tips on creating the optimal  Facebook Ad. In fact, most of the issues have already been addressed and repaired; at this point, the most important item on our agenda is to clarify what’s actually going on.

What Happened?

It started with video

The drama began in September 2016, when Facebook revealed that there was a problem with its video viewership metrics — the average time that users spent watching videos was being largely overestimated.

Mathematically, Facebook wrote in a statement, that metric should have been the resulting figure from dividing the total time spent watching a video by the total number of people who played it. Instead, the total viewing time was divided by the number of times the video was watched for three seconds or more.

So, let’s say a video received a total viewing time of five hours, or 300 minutes, and it was watched by a total of 1,000 people, 700 of whom watched it for at least three seconds. The viewership metric should be 30%. Instead, Facebook was dividing those 300 minutes by 700, resulting in a larger metric of nearly 43%. And, says the Wall Street Journal [WSJ], that went on for nearly two years.

For a social media platform that boasts how effective its video tools are for marketers, the announcement was an embarrassment. The advertising world was especially unhappy about it — Publicis Media, an ad-buying agency, told its clients that Facebook indicated viewing time overestimates of up to 80%. There were calls for third-party metric verification protocols to be put in place, and while Facebook said that it fixed the error and would be looking into such improvements, the metric misfortune didn’t end there.

A bit of a bug

In fact, just yesterday, Facebook announced that it discovered a bug in its Pages Insights that’s been lurking since May. The summary displaying seven- or 28-day organic page reach was incorrectly added up as the sum of daily reach over that period. That means duplicate visitors were being counted in every instance, leading to a number that was 33% higher than it should have been for seven-day summaries, and 55% for the 28-day ones. Facebook clarified that this error would not impact paid ads.

Here’s how Facebook visually represented the error — the red circle indicates where the duplicate viewership would have appeared.

Facebook Page Insights

Source: Facebook

But you’ll notice that there are green circles in that image, too. Those indicate the insights that were unaffected by the bug — which was the “vast majority” of them — and includes the following measurements:

  • All graphs
  • Daily and historical reach
  • Per-post reach
  • Exported and API reach data
  • All data on the Reach tab

What else was impacted?

In addition to the Page Insights, the bug really only impacted a total of four out of Facebook’s 220 measured metrics, according to WSJ. The remainder included:

More video miscalculations.

This time, the “video views at 100%” — which has been renamed to “video watches at 100%” — metric was impacted, thanks to a glitch that sometimes causes a video’s audio and visual components to be unsynced.

That means that even though the visual is played to completion, the audio may continue after the visual stops. But since about 85% of Facebook video is consumed without sound, viewers are likely to stop watching the video before this latent audio completes. As a result, “video watches at 100%” metrics might now increase by an estimated 35%.

Instant articles.

Here’s another case of Facebook’s overestimations. The average time spent reading Instant Articles — a method by which Facebook displays news articles at a rate 10X faster than a typical mobile web browser — was reported to be 7-8% higher than the actual length of time per article.

Referrals.

In Facebook’s Analytics for Apps dashboard, “referrals” are intended to measure the number of clicks on a post that were directed to an app or website. But it turns out that the “referrals” metric was counting more than that, and inaccurately also included clicks on the same post to view media, like photo or video. That led to an overestimate of referrals by about 6%.

Facebook’s Response

In Facebook’s defense, significant measures have been taken to resolve all of the above issues.

For some, the errors pertaining to ads seem to be the most pressing, which could be why the social media platform has dedicated an entire page to the updates around ads reporting alone. Most of those changes are intended to provide clarification over what exactly is being measured and how — mostly in the interest of “fairness and transparency,” Mark Rabkin, Facebook’s VP of core ads, told WSJ.

Plus, Facebook claims to be taking the feedback to implement third-party measuring protocols seriously, and aims to further clarify how it’s going to calculate ad viewership, as well as the source of that data. Some of it will be coming from Moat and Integral Ad Science — platforms that are used to measure ad and content engagement — which will be used to measure display ad campaigns (previously, those platforms were only available to measure video campaigns).

But Facebook is also enlisting the help of a true viewership pioneer: Nielsen.

Nielsen has its own Digital Content Ratings metric, which Facebook will be implementing to count video viewership — both on-demand and live. That comes with Nielsen’s Total Audience Measurement, which helps marketers compare digital metrics to those from TV.

There’s also a new blogging property launching — Facebook’s Metrics FYI — which will contain regular updates about any and all changes to the platform’s metrics henceforth.

These efforts are all compounded by the formation of a Measurement Council — or, as we like to call it, Facebook’s jury of peers. The Council will be comprised of “business and measurement executives,” and is a bit of an extension of Facebook’s existing Client Council, which helped to develop the tools that help businesses measure ROI.

What It All Means for Marketers

So just how seriously should we be taking it? Well, in short, marketers have reason to be happy about the improvements that Facebook is making, but shouldn’t freak out over the miscalculations.

Why is that? According to Daria Marmer, HubSpot’s social product manager, “Most of the metrics in question are what we’d call vanity metrics. Views and impressions are important, but don’t have a huge impact on your business at the end of the day.”

And while Marmer echoes the benefits of Facebook’s measures to fix these discrepancies, “We really encourage marketers to tie their social efforts to more concrete metrics,” she said, “such as website visits, downloads, new leads.”

She adds, “The social data from Facebook in HubSpot customers’ portals won’t change based on these updates.”

We’ve got you covered. And, we’ll continue to bring you updates to all things social as they emerge.

What do you think of Facebook’s latest announcements, and what sort of action are you taking? Let us know in the comments.

free ebook: future of Facebook advertising


free guide to using facebook for business and marketing

Oct

13

2016

How to Create an Excel Pivot Table With Medians

excel_featured_photo.jpg

As a marketer, you already know that Microsoft Excel is a powerful tool for sorting, analyzing, and sharing data. Trouble is, some of the most beneficial formulas are really tough to figure out — even for us data-crunchers. 

For example, we’ve walked through the steps of how to create a pivot table before, but unfortunately pivot tables don’t compute median values, which can be highly useful information with which organizations can analyze their growth.

Luckily, there is a workaround in Excel called the array, where you can use formulas to calculate the median of a data set. We’ll walk you through how to do that in the example below, which features a list of customers along with their company size and sales cycle length. For context, the two tables (average vs. median) look at the typical sales cycle length for each company size. Download our free Excel guide here for more tutorials to help you master the  essential Excel skills.

Ready to see how it works? Download the file here to follow along with the instructions below.

The Excel Pivot Table Alternative for Calculating Median

Excel_screen_grab-1.png

The “Average of Sales Cycle (Days)” table was created with a pivot table. The “Median of Sales Cycle (Days)” table was created by doing the following:

1) Create a column with the six possible “employees” options: 1 to 5, 6 to 10, 11 to 15, etc.

EXstep1.png

2) In the cell to the right of the “1 to 5” value, type the following:  =MEDIAN(IF($A$2:$A$20=D2, $B$2:$B$20))

ex2.png

3) When you’ve closed the final parenthesis and while you’re still in the cell, type Control+Shift+Enter (on a PC) or Command+Shift+Enter (on a Mac) to populate the median. This is how you tell Excel that you want to create an array.

Note: Once you do this, you will see curly brackets { } appear around your formula. If you type in the curly brackets yourself or copy/paste the formula above into the cell, Excel won’t understand what they mean.

ex3.png

4) Copy the median amount in the first cell (G2 in the example) into the rest of the empty cells in the table (G3-G7 in the example).

ex4.png

Here is a breakdown of what these formula inputs mean: 

median_formula.png
  1. This is the column of values for “# of Employees” in Column A
  2. This is the contents of cell D2: “1 to 5”
  3. This is the column of values for “Sales Cycle (Days)” in Column B

Translation: First, the IF statement finds all rows where the # of Employees = “1 to 5”; it then stores all of the corresponding “sales cycle” values in an array. The MEDIAN function then pulls the median out of that array of sales cycles for the “1 to 5” customers.

When to Use Median to Analyze Data

Average (or mean) and median are common measures of data, but generally speaking average is more commonly used than median.

While average is a helpful way to determine what a typical member of a data set looks like, in some cases, median actually provides a fuller picture of a data set within its context.

In fact, average can actually be misleading if the data set is highly skewed and a large set of the population is similar with several far-away outliers. In such cases, the median is a better indicator of what a typical member of the data set looks like.

For example, in the United States, household income is commonly measured and referred to in terms of the median. This could be due to the fact that high-income inequality nationwide would make the average a poor representation of a typical American household’s income. 

Here’s another scenario: If a business were analyzing sales, it would be important for them to consider the types of data in the sets they were analyzing. For example, calculating the average amount of total monthly sales would be a good indicator of performance because each month has roughly the same number of days and opportunities to sell, so the average would show what a baseline expectation of productivity would be.

However, the average may not be the best measure to analyze each sale’s size that year. If the organization sold products varying in price from $10 to $25,000, then the average sale size might be skewed by the lowest and highest prices. Instead, the median would give the organization an idea of if sales were typically higher or lower in price. See the difference?

Ultimately, analyzing both the average and the median will provide the most full picture possible of your organization’s raw data, and pivot tables in Excel, such as the ones above, can help you analyze both data sets.

What formulas do you use most frequently in Excel to analyze your organization’s data? Share with us in the comments below. 

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2011 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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free guide: how to use excel

Sep

13

2016

Why You’re Thinking About Digital Marketing Analytics All Wrong

digital-marketing-analytics

Measuring the effectiveness of digital marketing is one of the greatest challenges facing organizations. According to HubSpot’s 2016 State of Inbound report, 46% of marketers cited “proving the ROI of our marketing activities” as one of the biggest challenge they face within their company.

The trouble is, when most marketers hear ‘digital marketing analytics,’ they tend to think of the metrics you’d typically associate with a web analytics tool like Google Analytics — traffic, bounce rate, unique visitors, etc.

While web analytics can provide you with a wealth of insight and data into the performance of your website, marketers really need much richer data to understand the impact of their marketing campaigns on conversion rates and a person’s journey through the marketing and sales funnel. Looking at top-level web analytics metrics like traffic is only part of the puzzle.

Enter digital marketing analytics, which offers a much more comprehensive view of what’s working, and what isn’t.

Why Digital Marketing Analytics Matter More Than Web Analytics

So why exactly do digital marketing analytics matter? Quite simply, because web analytics (like traffic and website performance) just isn’t enough. The data web analytics provides just don’t cut it for marketers who need to understand how their work makes an impact throughout the entire marketing and sales funnel.

Let’s face it: Today’s marketing goes well beyond the bounds of your website. It’s the intersection of what happens between your marketing channels and the outcome on the other side that provides the most marketing insight, and your reporting needs to reflect this.

Web analytics measure things a webmaster or technical SEO specialist cares about, like page load speed, page views per visit, and time on site. Digital marketing analytics, on the other hand, measure business metrics like traffic, leads, and sales, and which online events influence whether leads become customers. Digital marketing analytics includes data not only from your website, but also from other sources like email, social media, and online PR.

With digital marketing analytics, marketers can understand the effectiveness of their marketing, not just the effectiveness of their website. Using marketing analytics allows marketers to identify how each of their marketing initiatives (e.g., social media vs. blogging vs. email marketing, etc.) stack up against one another, determine the true ROI of their activities, and understand how well they’re achieving their business goals.

As a result of the information they can gather from full-stack digital marketing analytics, marketers can also diagnose deficiencies in specific channels in their marketing mix, and make adjustments to strategies and tactics to improve their overall marketing activity.

You can spend hours and hours slicing and dicing data in web analytics tools, comparing new vs. repeat visitors month over month, but when it comes down to it, you’ll never have a comprehensive understanding of how your marketing is doing. Marketers have known this for a long time (check out the explosion of people searching for the term ‘digital marketing analytics’ taken from Google Trends below).

digital_marketing_analytics_trend

There’s no doubt that marketers are aware there’s a deficiency in how they’re able to measure the effectiveness of what they do; here’s how full-stack digital marketing analytics makes up for that deficiency.

Why Digital Marketing Analytics Gives You the ‘Full Picture’

There are lots of things that digital marketing analytics achieves where basic website analytics falls short. Let’s highlight three of the main differentiators:

1. Integration across different marketing channels.

With digital marketing analytics, you have a good, solid look into the direct relationships between your marketing channels. It’s great to be able to see how each of your individual channels (e.g., social media, blogging, email marketing, SEO, etc.) are performing, but the true power of analytics comes into play when you can easily tie the effect of multiple channels’ performances together.

For instance, let’s say you did an email send to a segment of your database. Digital marketing analytics not only tells you how many people clicked through from your email to your website, but also how many of those people actually converted into leads for your business when they got there. Furthermore, you can compare the impact of that individual email send with other marketing initiatives. Did that email generate more leads than the blog post you published yesterday? Or was the content you shared via Twitter more effective?

2. People-centric data on the buyer’s journey.

As we mentioned earlier, a key differentiator between web analytics and digital marketing analytics is that the latter uses the person — not the page view — as the focal point.

This enables you to track how your individual prospects and leads are interacting with your various marketing initiatives and channels over time. How did an individual lead first come to find your website? From Google? Via Facebook? From direct traffic? Is that lead an active part of your email subscriber base, often clicking and converting on marketing offers presented via email? Do they read your blog?

Full-stack digital marketing analytics can tell you all of this and more, providing you with extremely valuable lead intelligence that can help inform the direction of your future campaigns.

hubspot_lead_intelligence

Looking at all of this information in aggregate can help you understand trends among your prospects and leads and which marketing activities are valuable at different stages in the buyer’s journey.

Perhaps you find that many customers’ last point of conversion was on a certain ebook or whitepaper. Having this data makes it possible to implement an effective lead management process, enabling you to score and prioritize your leads and identify which activities contribute to a marketing qualified lead for your business.

3. Closed-loop data.

One of the most useful functions of marketing analytics is its ability to tie marketing activities to sales. Sure, your blog may be effective in generating leads, but are those leads actually turning into customers and making your business money? Closed-loop marketing analytics can tell you.

The only dependency here is that your digital marketing analytics system is hooked up with your customer relationship management (CRM) platform like the free HubSpot CRM, for example.

hubspot_crm

Having this closed-loop data can help you determine whether your individual marketing initiatives are actually contributing to your business’ bottom line. Through it, you can determine which channels are most critical for driving sales. Perhaps you find that your blog is your most effective channel for generating customers, or conversely, you find that social media is really only powerful as an engagement mechanism, not a source of sales.

The Digital Marketer’s Measurement Challenge

Most marketers know they need to be looking at more than just traffic and website performance to get the insights we’ve talked about so far, but why do so many of us still struggle to measure the impact and prove the ROI of our online marketing activities?

Probably because:

  • A) We don’t have solid goals in place for our campaigns.
  • B) We don’t have the means to successfully measure our success.

Quite often, you’ll find it’s a combination of the two.

The fact is, most marketers need to have a number of different digital marketing analytics platforms in place in order to get all the insights they need to understand their marketing performance and make sound decisions. They gather data about their email marketing through the analytics provided by their email service provider, information about their social media performance through their social media monitoring tool, blog analytics from their blogging platform, and the list goes on.

This fragmented approach to reporting makes it really difficult to connect the dots and make informed decisions about the future of your strategy. The ideal solution is to implement an all-in-one marketing and reporting platform that offers end-to-end visibility on your marketing activities, allowing you to measure everything in one place.

How Digital Marketing Analytics Impacts Your Business

All of the insights, information, and data you can gather from your digital marketing analytics tool(s) is really only useful if you do something with it. The true value of analytics isn’t just to prove the value of marketing to your boss; it’s also to help you improve and optimize your marketing performance — on both an individual channel-by-channel basis as well as an overall, cross-channel machine.

As mentioned above, you’ll also be able to implement closed-loop reporting, making it easier to prove how your marketing efforts are positively impacting your sales team, who are being fed much higher quality leads.

The important thing to realize here is, if you’re relying solely on top-level web analytics, you’re missing out on a lot of powerful data that can help inform your marketing strategy. So when evaluating digital marketing analytics tools for your business, be sure you’re looking for evidence of digital marketing analytics, not just website analytics.

How are you faring in terms of digital marketing measurement? Are your analytics sophisticated enough to effectively measure your marketing performance?

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Aug

25

2016

Google is Cracking Down on Intrusive Mobile Pop-Ups: Here’s What Marketers Need to Know

Google_Mobile_Pop-Ups.jpg

Google is no stranger to algorithmic change. And usually, those changes are made for the sake of the user. Looking at a history of Google’s product announcements, usability is usually at the heart of the modification.

So when Google announced its impending smackdown on mobile pop-up ads earlier this week, it came as no surprise that the major reason behind it was to enhance the user
experience.

For many businesses, the announcement carries major implications. Those that rely on advertisements as a primary source of revenue, for example, will be some of the hardest hit. To help you navigate this change, we put together everything you need to know below, from what the update entails to how to prepare accordingly.

What’s New in Mobile Search Results

Back in 2014, Google added a “mobile-friendly” label for search results that were optimized for such platforms — where text is readable without zooming or horizontal scrolling, and links are spaced well enough so that there’s a reduced chance of mis-tapping.

But two years later, Google has found that 85% of mobile search results are optimized that way. As a result, the search engine is doing away with that label, and introducing new mobile-specific ranking criteria.

And now, pages with mobile pop-ups — or what Google is calling “interstitials” — probably won’t be ranking as highly when these algorithmic changes take effect on January 10, 2017.

“Pages that show intrusive interstitials provide a poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible,” Google’s official announcement states. “This can be problematic on mobile devices where screens are often smaller.”

Not all pop-ups are created equal, though, so there are some specifics around which types of interstitials Google considers to be disruptive to the user experience. Some are legally required — like ones used by liquor companies that verify the user’s age — so they won’t impact the page’s rank.

According to the official statement, interstitials affected by Google’s crackdown include the following:

  • “Showing a popup that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page.
  • Displaying a standalone interstitial that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content.
  • Using a layout where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone interstitial, but the original content has been inlined underneath the fold.”

Screen_Shot_2016-08-24_at_11.16.46_AM.png
Source: Google

What Does It Mean For Marketers?

As we mentioned before, the companies that rely on these interstitials for income will be especially impacted by this change. They’re the ones who, as Emma Hinchliffe of Mashable points out, need that ad revenue to survive. Now, these businesses face a difficult choice: Rank, or profit.

But losing SEO traffic can “crush” these companies, says HubSpot’s Senior Product Marketing Manager, Marcus Andrews. And that makes sense — 51% percent of digital media is consumed via mobile, compared to a lagging 42% on desktop.

Andrews suggests that, if they haven’t done so already, marketers solve for mobile SEO first. The pain that comes with changing a revenue model is inevitable, but shorter-term — and businesses that rely on advertiser dollars, he says, should figure out ways “to make money that don’t totally disrupt the mobile user experience.”

“Google is very focused on the user,” Andrews continues. “Marketers are always looking for hacky ways to increase traffic and conversion rates, and every once in a while, Google needs to make a correction to improve the user experience.”

That actually creates a great opportunity for marketers to think more about the user — both the experience, and what that person is offered. It’s what HubSpot’s Director of Product Development, Nicholas Holland, calls a “forcing function.” It makes marketers seriously consider the increasing overtaking of mobile technology, and what the implications will be on their overall business operations.

Basically, these developments from Google are a giant wake-up call to those who “create a bad viewer experience,” Holland says — especially those who might not even realize it. Now, they absolute must “think through alternative revenue methods.”

But what are those methods, exactly?

First — if it isn’t obvious by now — remove any pop-ups you’ve been using.

“As inbound marketers, we rely on driving relevant visitors to content,” says HubSpot’s Principal Product Marketing Manager, Jeffrey Vocell. “Interstitials, especially interruptive ones, do not provide a good experience, and in many cases actually block or limit the content that can be seen.”

That’s why your best option might be to create valuable content that draws the visitors that Vocell is alluding to. When you do that, Holland advises, you can focus on driving revenue — or at least leads — using calls to action and embedded forms. (And to learn more about converting those leads, check out our free ebook on optimizing landing pages.)

Replacing intrusive interstitials with valuable content is a double-edged SEO sword. Not only are you giving the user what he or she is searching for — and improving your rank accordingly — but you’re also getting rid of the invasive pop-ups that, come January, would be lowering it.

What You Can Do Now to Prepare

If you’re freaking out about Google’s announcement, that’s okay — but please, don’t be. As we mentioned, these changes actually provide a great opportunity to use inbound marketing to generally enhance your marketing presence — on mobile, or otherwise.

Here’s what you can do to get ready for the rollout:

  • Ditch your interstitials — unless they’re required by law. Those include age verification displays, as noted above, and pop-ups that let your user know you use cookies.
  • If you relied on interstitials for ad revenue, figure out where that money is going to come from now.
  • Find ways to generate revenue without obstructing the user experience, and in a way that optimizes your page for mobile. Both of those factors will likely remain crucial to search engine rank.
  • Know that those solutions often exist in the content you create. Make something valuable for the user. By gating it behind a landing page, you’re generating leads — and eventually sales — in a much less intrusive way that brings visitors to you.

What do you think about Google’s latest announcement, and what are you doing to prepare for it? Let us know in the comments.

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May

27

2016

Creating a New Dashboard for Your Reports? Ask These 26 Questions First

Marketing_Dashboard_Reporting_Questions.jpg

As marketers, it’s pivotal that we measure our work.

How many leads are we generating? What are our best channels? How quickly are our leads closing? And perhaps most importantly, how much revenue are our leads bringing in?

There are lots of metrics that matter. While we all wish otherwise, there’s no silver bullet report — no single metric that sums up all of our efforts. That’s where dashboards come in. Download our free introductory guide to A/B testing here. 

The basic concept of a dashboard? Take a series of reports and put them next to each other. Sounds simple enough. Creating a dashboard is easy. However, creating a great audience-aware dashboard that can be easily iterated on over time is not so easy. In fact, dynamic marketing dashboards take a lot of planning and forethought.

Not sure where to start? It’s all about asking the right questions.

26 Questions to Ask Before Creating Your Next Marketing Dashboard

1) Why is the dashboard being created?

If you’re a fan of Simon Sinek, you’re familiar with the concept of “starting with why.” (If you’re not, check out his TED talk, then come right back.)

Make sure you’re creating a dashboard for the right reasons. For example, are you creating a dashboard when a single report would do the trick?

2) Who is the dashboard for?

Will you be presenting to your CEO? The VP of Sales? The Board of Trustees? Your Social Media team? In marketing, we construct our content with our buyer personas in mind. When creating a dashboard, keep your audience in mind.

3) What questions do they need answered?

The CEO is on the hook for the company’s bottom line. She likely cares less about your inputs (how many hours you put in, how you titled your blog posts) and more about your outcomes and big-picture results. Other members of your organization value other components of your reports.

Before creating your dashboard, write down a few of the questions your audience needs to answer — chances are, they’ll be asking them come presentation time.

4) How much time do they have to review the numbers?

Will they review the numbers for fifteen minutes? Or spend an entire three-hour meeting poring over them? The answer to this question determines how many reports your dashboard should include. If your audience won’t spend much time with the data, only include the two or three most impactful reports.

5) What language do they speak?

We’re not talking about English, Spanish, or Arabic. Think about what type of vocabulary they’re familiar with. More importantly, which words don’t they know? Do they know what a Marketing Qualified is? How familiar are they with the concept of Organic Search?

If you don’t ask this question, you run the risk of presenting data that will go over the head of your audience. Not sure where to start? Read through emails your audience has sent you in the past, or ask your teammates.

6) How data-savvy are they?

As marketers, many of us geek out over web analytics. Does your audience? If you’re speaking to someone who doesn’t love data as much as you do, stick to simpler reports.

7) Do they need to know the story behind the data?

If so, be ready to tell it.

8) How nitpicky do they get?

Make sure you can explain any data inaccuracies or outliers. If “No value” or “Encrypted Keywords” appears in the data, be ready to discuss.

9) What tools do you have at your disposal?

Does your company use a marketing analytics tool? Google Analytics? Excel? A whiteboard?

10) How much time can you block off?

Hold yourself accountable for building the dashboard. Don’t save it until the last minute.

11) What format should it be in?

Should the dashboard be housed in an online tool? Should it live in Excel? Does it need to be presented as a slideshow at the next board meeting?

12) What other members of the organization do you need on your team?

Do you have a business operations team that controls certain tools? Does the sales team hold the keys to revenue data? Align yourself with internal stakeholders, and set proper expectations on what you need and when you need it.

13) Which metrics should the dashboard include?

Every organization values different KPIs. Use your answers to questions three and five to get going in the right direction. If you’re not sure where to begin, raw data and conversion rates on visits, leads, and customers are a great starting point.

14) What should the dashboard not include?

When we set goals at HubSpot, we identify both positive and negative aspects — things we’ll commit to accomplishing, and others that we’ll intentionally exclude from focus. Are there certain metrics that you’re deprioritizing?

15) Does the dashboard need more than just visuals?

Will every member of your audience be presented the information on your dashboard in a live session? Often, it’s constructive to add additional context to your dashboards with help text.

dashboard_notes_1.png

16) What time frame makes the most sense?

For some organizations, monthly check-ins work best; for others, quarterly works better. Think back to question two. For the questions your audience is asking, how often do they need answers?

17) Which report is most important?

Prioritize the report with the biggest impact — make it the biggest, and place it front and center on your dashboard.

front_and_center.png

18) What types of graphs fit the data best?

If you’re plotting trends over time, use line and area charts. If you’re comparing values, try a bar or column visual instead.

Here’s a quick example. Take a look at the two charts below. The same data is presented, but notice how the second graph shows a more compelling trend in MQL growth over time.

Before:CHART_TYPE_before.png

After:

CHART_TYPE_after.png

Not sure how to choose chart types? Here’s a great resource to get you started.

19) Do you have benchmarks or goals to include?

Does it make sense to plot your data compared to a previous time period, or to a goal you set in the past? Do you have competitive data to use as a benchmark?

20) Does the dashboard need to be segmented?

Reporting on all your data is valuable, but it often doesn’t tell the full story. For example, if your marketing team is divided into personas or countries, find a way to present each segment’s unique data.

21) What actions do you want to drive out of each report?

Never run a report just for the sake of it — for each data point you highlight, make sure you have a tangible strategic takeaway to share with your team. Don’t walk away from the report with nothing at all.

22) Do you need more than one version of the dashboard?

If you have more than one audience, create unique variations that speak to each one’s most pressing questions.

23) Who owns the dashboard?

Are you charged with creating the dashboard every month? If you win a free trip to Hawaii next month and are out of the office, who will create the dashboard?

24) Who can access it?

Make sure that every member of the team who needs to see the dashboard has the correct level of access within your tool of choice. On the flipside, keep unwanted sets of eyes out of the data by customizing permissions.

25) How will you distribute it?

If your system allows, set up an automated email at your chosen frequency to save yourself the manual send each time. At HubSpot, the marketing team receives a lead generation dashboard at noon each day with month-to-date data. Depending on the time frame your team chose in question 16, pick the cadence that makes the most sense.

26) Does your process need to be repeatable? How will you iterate on it?

If you need to recreate your dashboard in the future, make it easy on yourself by documenting the process in a Google doc or internal Wiki page. Note the parts that were trickiest and jot down specific instructions for next time.

What else do you keep in mind when creating marketing dashboards? Share your thoughts in the comments.

free marketing reporting templates

May

25

2016

How to Design and Validate CRO Experiments [Free Template + Calculator]

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Creating new content on a regular basis isn’t always easy — especially when you’re on a small team. That’s why conversion rate optimization (CRO) is such a valuable practice for marketers to master. Because with the help of CRO, you can optimize the content and pages you already have to generate new leads.

Just how powerful is it? During the 2008 presidential election, the Obama campaign website saw an improvement of over 40% in sign-up rate after running a few conversion experiments. By the numbers, this optimization led to over 2.8 million additional sign-ups and $60 million in additional donations. That’s a huge impact.

While experimentation can seem like a big project to take on, learning how to get it right can pay off in big ways. That’s why Leadin partnered up with SnapApp to bring you the tools you need to start optimizing your website for more conversions.

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First, use our experiment template to map out your experiment and start gathering data. Then, plug the results into the simple statistical significance calculator to determine if your experiment has yielded significant results. If it has, finish up the experiment template with your learnings and conclusions, and share the results with your team.

Ready to tackle CRO? You can check out the experiment template here. And the statistical significance calculator here.

If you have great results, tweet at @HubSpot and @Snap_App with your winning experiments!

join a Google Hangout With CRO experts

May

17

2016

The A/B Testing Checklist You’ll Want to Bookmark

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When marketers like us create landing pages, write email copy, or design call-to-action buttons, it can be tempting to use our intuition to predict what will make people click and convert.

But basing marketing decisions off of a “feeling” can be pretty detrimental to results. Rather than relying on guesses or assumptions to make these decisions, you’re much better off running conversion rate optimization (CRO) tests.

CRO testing can be valuable because different audiences behave, well, differently. Something that works for one company may not necessarily work for another. In fact, CRO experts hate the term “best practices” because it may not actually be the best practice for you.

But these tests can also be complex. If you’re not careful, you could make incorrect assumptions about what people like and what makes them click — decisions that could easily misinform other parts of your strategy.

One of the easier (and most common) types of CRO tests is called an A/B test. An A/B test simply tests one variable in a piece of marketing content against another, like a green call-to-action button versus a red one, to see which performs better. Download our free introductory guide to A/B testing here. 

So, what does it take to run an A/B test, exactly? Keep reading to learn what an A/B test is in a little more detail, followed by a full checklist for what marketers should do before, during, and after these tests. You’ll want to bookmark this for your next one.

How A/B Tests Work

To run an A/B test, you need to create two different versions of one piece of content with changes to a single variable. Then, you’ll show these two versions to two similarly sized audiences, and analyze which one performed better.

For example, let’s say you want to see if moving a certain call-to-action button to the top of your homepage instead of keeping it in the sidebar will improve its conversion rate.

To A/B test this change, you’d create another, alternative web page that reflected that CTA placement change. The existing design — or the “control” — is Version A. Version B is the “challenger.”

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Image Credit: ConversionXL

Then, you’d test these two versions by showing each of them to a predetermined percentage of site visitors. (To learn more about A/B testing, download our free introductory guide here.)

Now, let’s walk through the checklist for setting up, running, and measuring an A/B test.

Checklist for Running an A/B Test

Before the A/B Test

1) Pick one variable to test.

As you optimize your web pages and emails, you might find there are a number of variables you want to test. But to evaluate how effective a change is, you’ll want to isolate one, single variable and measure its performance — otherwise, you can’t be sure which one was responsible for changes in performance. You can test more than one variable for a single web page or email — just be sure you’re testing them one at a time.

Look at the various elements in your marketing resources and their possible alternatives for design, wording, and layout. Other things you might test include email subject lines, sender names, and different ways to personalize your emails.

Keep in mind that even simple changes, like changing the image in your email or the words on your call-to-action button, can drive big improvements. In fact, these sorts of changes are usually easier to measure than the bigger ones.

Note: There are some times when it makes more sense to test multiple variables rather than a single variable. This is a process called multivariate testing. If you’re wondering whether you should run an A/B test versus a multivariate test, here’s a helpful article from Optimizely that compares the two.

2) Choose your goal.

Although you’ll measure a number of metrics for every one test, choose a primary metric to focus on — before you run the test. In fact, do it before you even set up the second variation. If you wait until afterward to think about which metrics are important to you, what your goals are, and how the changes you’re proposing might affect user behavior, then you might not set up the test in the most effective way.

3) Set up your “control” and your “challenger.”

Set up your unaltered version of whatever you’re testing as your “control.” If you’re testing a web page, this is the unaltered web page as it exists already. If you’re testing a landing page, this would be the landing page design and copy you would normally use. 

From there, build a variation, or a “challenger” — the website, landing page, or email you’ll test against your control. For example, if you’re wondering whether including a testimonial on a landing page would make a difference, set up your control page with no testimonials. Then, create your variation with a testimonial.

4) Split your sample groups equally and randomly.

For tests where you have more control over the audience — like with emails — you need to test with two or more audiences that are equal in order to have conclusive results.

How you do this will vary depending on the A/B testing tool you use. If you’re a HubSpot Enterprise customer conducting an A/B test on an email, for example, HubSpot will automatically split traffic to your variations so that each variation gets a random sampling of visitors.

5) Determine your sample size (if applicable).

How you determine your sample size will also vary depending on your A/B testing tool, as well as the type of A/B test you’re running.

If you’re A/B testing an email, you’ll probably want to send an A/B test to a smaller portion of your list to get statistically significant results. Eventually, you’ll pick a winner and send the winning variation on to the rest of the list. (Read this blog post for a more detailed guide on calculating an email A/B test’s sample size.)

If you’re a HubSpot Enterprise customer, you’ll have some help determining the size of your sample group using a slider. It’ll let you do a 50/50 A/B test of any sample size — although all other sample splits require a list of at least 1,000 recipients.

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If you’re testing something that doesn’t have a finite audience, like a web page, then how long you keep your test running will directly affect your sample size. You’ll need to let your test run long enough to obtain a substantial number of views, otherwise it’ll be hard to tell whether there was a statistically significant difference between the two variations.

6) Decide how significant your results need to be.

Once you’ve picked your goal metric, think about how significant your results need to be to justify choosing one variation over another. Statistical significance is a super important part of A/B testing process that’s often misunderstood. If you need a refresher on statistical significance from a marketing standpoint, I recommend reading this blog post.

The higher the percentage of your confidence level, the more sure you can be about your results. In most cases, you’ll want a confidence level of 95% minimum — preferably even 98% — especially if it was a time-intensive experiment to set up. However, sometimes it might make sense to use a lower confidence rate if you don’t need the test to be as stringent.

Matt Rheault, a senior software engineer at HubSpot, likes to think of statistical significance like placing a bet. What odds are you comfortable placing a bet on? Saying “I’m 80% sure this is the right design and I’m willing to bet everything on it” is similar to running an A/B test to 80% significance and then declaring a winner.

Rheault also says you’ll likely want a higher confidence threshold when testing for something that only slightly improves conversation rate. Why? Because random variance is more likely to play a bigger role.

An example where we could feel safer lowering our confidence threshold is an experiment that will likely improve conversion rate by 10% or more, such as a redesigned hero section,” he explained. “The takeaway here is that the more radical the change, the less scientific we need to be process-wise. The more uber-specific the change (button color, micro copy, etc.), the more scientific we should be because the change is less likely to have a large and noticeable impact on conversion rate.”

7) Make sure you’re only running one test at a time on any campaign.

Testing more than one thing for a single campaign — even if it’s not on the same exact asset — can do a number on your results. For example, if you A/B test an email campaign that directs to a landing page at the same time that you’re A/B testing that landing page … how can you know which change caused the increase in leads? 

During the A/B Test

8) Use an A/B testing tool.

To run an A/B test on your website or in an email, you’ll need to use an A/B testing tool. If you’re a HubSpot Enterprise customer, the HubSpot software has features that let you A/B test emails (learn how here), calls-to-action (learn how here), and landing pages (learn how here).

For non-HubSpot Enterprise customers, other options include Google Analytics’ Experiments, which lets you A/B test up to 10 full versions of a single web page and compare their performance using a random sample of users.

9) Test both variations simultaneously.

Timing plays a significant role in your marketing campaign’s results, whether it’s time of day, day of the week, or month of the year. If you were to run Version A during one month and Version B a month later, how would you know whether the performance change was caused by the different design or the different month?

When you run A/B tests, you’ll need to run the two variations at the same time, otherwise you may be left second-guessing your results.

The only exception here is if you’re testing timing itself, like finding the optimal times for sending out emails. This is a great thing to test because depending on what your business offers and who your subscribers are, the optimal time for subscriber engagement can vary significantly by industry and target market.

10) Run the test long enough to get substantial results.

Again, you’ll want to make sure that you let your test run long enough in order to obtain a substantial sample size. Otherwise, it’ll be hard to tell whether there was a statistically significant difference between the two variations.

How long is long enough? Depending on your company and how you execute the A/B test, getting statistically significant results could happen in hours … or days … or weeks. A big part of how long it takes to get statistically significant results is how much traffic you get — so if your business doesn’t get a lot of traffic to your website, then it’ll take much longer for you to run an A/B test. In theory, you shouldn’t restrict the time in which you’re gathering results. (Read this blog post to learn more about sample size and timing.)

11) Ask for feedback from real users.

A/B testing has a lot to do with quantitative data … but that won’t necessarily help you understand why people take certain actions over others. While you’re running your A/B test, why not collect qualitative feedback from real users?

One of the best ways to ask people for their opinions is through a survey or poll. You might add an exit survey on your site that asks visitors why they didn’t click on a certain CTA, or one on your thank-you pages that asks visitors why they clicked a button or filled out a form.

You might find, for example, that a lot of people clicked on a call-to-action leading them to an ebook, but once they saw the price, they didn’t convert. That kind of information will give you a lot of insight into why your users are behaving in certain ways.

After the A/B Test

12) Focus on your goal metric.

Again, although you’ll be measuring multiple metrics, keep your focus on that primary goal metric when you do your analysis.

For example, if you tested two variations of an email and chose leads as your primary metric, don’t get caught up on open rate or clickthrough rate. You might see a high clickthrough rate and poor conversion rates, in which case you might end up choosing the variation that had a lower clickthrough rate in the end.

13) Measure the significance of your results using our A/B testing calculator.

Now that you’ve determined which variation performs the best, it’s time to determine whether or not your results statistically significant. In other words, are they enough to justify a change?

To find out, you’ll need to conduct a test of statistical significance. You could do that manually … or you could just plug in the results from your experiment to our free A/B testing calculator. For each variation you tested, you’ll be prompted to input the total number of tries, like emails sent or impressions seen. Then, enter the number of goals it completed — generally you’ll look at clicks, but this could also be other types of conversions.

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The calculator will spit out the confidence level your data produces for the winning variation. Then, measure that number against the value you chose to determine statistical significance 

14) Take action based on your results.

If one variation is statistically better than the other, then you have a winner. Complete your test by disabling the losing variation in your A/B testing tool.

If neither variation is statistically better, then you’ve just learned that the variable you tested didn’t impact results, and you’ll have to mark the test as inconclusive. In this case, stick with the original variation — or run another test. You can use the failed data to help you figure out a new iteration on your new test.

While A/B tests help you impact results on a case-by-case basis, you can also apply the lessons you learn from each test and apply it to future efforts. For example, if you’ve conducted A/B tests in your email marketing and have repeatedly found that using numbers in email subject lines generates better clickthrough rates, then you might want to consider using that tactic in more of your emails.

15) Plan your next test.

The A/B test you just finished may have helped you discover a new way to make your marketing content more effective — but don’t stop there. There’s always room for more optimization.

You can even try conducting an A/B test on another feature of the same web page or email you just did a test on. For example, if you just tested a headline on a landing page, why not do a new test on body copy? Or color scheme? Or images? Always keep an eye out for opportunities to increase conversion rates and leads.

What else would you add to this checklist for running an A/B test? Share with us in the comments. 

free guide to a/b testing

May

9

2016

7 Useful Reporting Hacks to Try in Google Sheets

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While it might not be as powerful as the industry standard, Microsoft Excel, Google’s online spreadsheet tool, Google Sheets, provides several other advantages. From offering more collaboration capabilities, to having a more attractive price point (re: free), it’s no wonder that more and more marketers are turning to Google Sheets for their reporting.

Whether you’re just getting started with Google Sheets, or you’ve already played around with it a bit, there are several “hacks” you can use to make the reporting process easier. Let’s walk through them.

(Want to uncover some useful Google Doc tricks while you’re at it? Check out this post for 15 Google Doc features you probably didn’t know existed.)

7 Google Sheets Hacks to Make Reporting Much Easier

1) Use keyboard shortcuts.

Want to undo that change you just made in your report? There’s a shortcut for that (Command + Z on a Mac / Control + Z on a PC). Want to quickly find a particular word or figure in your report? There’s a shortcut for that, too (Command + F on a Mac / Control + F on a PC). And the list goes on, and on, and on.

The most important shortcut to remember for Google Sheets, however, is Command + / on a Mac, or Control + / on a PC. That’s the shortcut for pulling up the master list of Google Sheets keyboard shortcuts. In the screenshot below, you can see some of the most popular shortcuts on the list.

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2) Create a heat map with conditional formatting.

Setting up a heat map in Google Sheets is a great way to make trends and important data points easily identifiable. At its most basic, a heat map can show the highest values in your report in one color, and show the lowest values in a different color. All the values in between, meanwhile, will appear as a mix of both colors.

Confused? Don’t worry, it will all make sense after we walk though the steps. Step 1: Select your data, navigate to the “Format” menu in the top nav, and choose “Conditional formatting.”

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Next, you’ll want to select the “Color scale” tab from the menu that pops up. Once you do that, Google Sheets will automatically apply some default colors, and you’ll be able to see your heat map.

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At this point, you could simply hit that blue “Done” button and call it a day. Alternatively, you could spend some time fine-tuning your settings. For example, by clicking those paint bucket icons, you can customize your heat map colors (see example below).

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3) Easily add an image to a cell.

If you need to add a logo, screenshot, or other image to a report in Google Sheets, the standard protocol is to navigate to “Insert” on the top nav, choose “Image,” and then upload an image from your computer. However, there is a much quicker solution available. Here’s how you do it:

First, select the cell you want to insert the image into and type “=image.”

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Next, add an open parentheses, followed by an open quotation mark, and paste in the URL of the image you want to insert. You’ll then need to close the quotation marks and close the parentheses.

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Hit enter, and voilà: your image will appear.

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4) Add international currencies.

If your company does business internationally, being able to work with international currencies in your reports is essential. Fortunately, Google Sheets has got you covered.

To access Google Sheets’ massive A-to-Z list of currencies — from the Afghan Afghani to the Zimbabwean Dollar — you first need to click that “123” icon in the top nav.

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From there, head down to “More formats” and select “More currencies.”

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You can now choose a currency from the list and click the blue “Apply” button to set it.

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5) Set up email notifications.

Want to know when a coworker makes changes to your report? Or are you looking for a way to get daily progress updates from a report a coworker is working on? If you answered ‘yes’ to either of those questions, then this is the hack for you.

To set up email notifications in Google Sheets, first head to “Tools” in the top nav and select “Notification rules.”

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Next, select what notification rules you want to put in place and click the blue “Save” button. 

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(Note: Notifications can be triggered based on changes made to your spreadsheet as well as form submissions. To add a form to your spreadsheet, simply navigate up to “Tools,” then select “Create a form.”)

6) Validate Emails & URLs

Sorting through and making sense of hundreds (if not thousands) of email addresses and website URLs is no easy feat. And in some cases, this task can get even more complicated when, late in the game, you discover that some of those emails and URLs are invalid.

Once again, Google Sheets has got your back. Using the ISURL and ISEMAIL functions, you can quickly check whether email addresses and URLs are valid or not. For example, if you wanted to check if “hubspot.com” was a valid URL, you could select an empty cell, type in “=ISURL” and then put “hubspot.com” between parentheses like you see in the screenshot below. Even before you hit enter, Google Sheets will return a “TRUE” (valid) or “FALSE” (invalid) message.

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You can follow the same instructions for the ISEMAIL function, just use an email address instead of a URL. Here’s a screenshot of what that looks like:

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For a full list of Google Sheets functions, check out this Google support webpage.

7) Unlock a ton of additional features with add-ons.

Did you know that you can sync Google Sheets with your Google Analytics account? Or that you can use Google Sheets to plot data onto a Google Map? These features — and many, many more — don’t come standard with Google Sheets. However, you can easily add them by heading up to “Add-ons” in the top nav and selecting “Get add-ons.”

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From there, you’ll be able to choose from tons of free features. You can use the dropdown at the top left to narrow down the category of add-on your looking for, or you can search for it directly using the search field at the top left. For example, if you wanted to find that maps add-on I mentioned (which is called “Mapping Sheets,” FYI) you could do a search for “maps.”

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Know any other tips or tricks for making reporting easier in Google Sheets? Share them below.

free marketing reporting templates

Mar

16

2016

How the HubSpot Marketing Blog Actually Generates Leads (Hint: It’s Not How You Think)

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Business blogging “best practices” instruct bloggers to include a relevant call-to-action at the bottom of every blog post. This is nothing groundbreaking — it’s how you convert visitors to your blog into valuable inbound leads for your business.

But are those end-of-post calls-to-action (CTAs) really the best option? After all, any conversion rate optimization expert worth their salt knows to take industry “best practices” with, well, a grain of salt.

Over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time analyzing HubSpot’s Marketing Blog. While I’ve been able to identify which individual blog posts generate the most leads, I’d never dug any deeper to understand which specific calls-to-action within those blog posts people were actually converting on.

Until now.

When we introduced a new type of CTA to our blog posts as part of the historical optimization project last year, we ultimately doubled the conversion rates of the posts we added it to. So it got me wondering: Are end-of-post CTAs really the best way to generate leads from our blog? How do different types of CTAs within a post compare?

To get a better understanding of where our blog leads are coming from on the post level, I analyzed a cohort of 11 posts on the blog that generate an above average number of leads every month

To do so, I created unique tracking URLs (using HubSpot) for the CTAs used within each blog post. Essentially, any individual link within a blog post that led to a landing page got its own tracking URL. So for a post with 10 different CTAs, I created 10 unique tracking URLs. Then I replaced the links within those posts using my unique tracking URLs, and waited four weeks to collect data. 

Here’s what I found …

End-of-post banner CTAs contributed an average of just 6% of posts’ total leads.

Crazy, huh? Actually, when you think about it, it’s really not that surprising that these CTAs get very little play. We’ll talk about the reasons why in just a minute.

Here’s how an end-of-post banner CTA might look on our blog. It’s essentially a full-width banner CTA at the very bottom of the post, and it typically includes some copy, an image, and a “download” button.

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So, if our leads aren’t coming from the CTAs at the bottom of our blog posts, where are they coming from … and why?

Anchor text CTAs are responsible for the majority of our blog leads.

I know what you’re thinking: “What the heck is an ‘anchor text CTA’?”

An anchor text CTA is the term I’ve given to a specific kind of text-based call-to-action. It’s a standalone line of text linked to a landing page, and it’s styled as an H3 or an H4 to make it stand out from the rest of the post’s body copy. On HubSpot’s Marketing Blog, we mainly use these between the post’s first few introductory paragraphs, but we may also add them throughout the post in cases like this.

Here’s an example of an anchor text CTA within one of our blog posts:

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In every single post we tracked, the anchor text CTA was responsible for the largest percentage of that post’s leads (by far).

In fact, between 47% and 93% of a post’s leads came from the anchor text CTA alone.

And the data gets even more compelling when you factor in the anchor text CTA’s cousin — the internal link CTA. 

An ‘internal link CTA’ is my term for what is essentially an anchor text CTA, but rather than being styled as an H3 or an H3 in a separate line of text, it’s positioned within a paragraph block, making it blend in more with the content around it. It could be something as discrete as hyperlinking a keyword to a landing page like you see in image A below, or something more direct like you see in image B (which we found to be the most successful type of internal link CTA).

Image A:

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Image B:

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Now here’s what’s interesting about this …

Between 83% and 93% of each post’s leads came from anchor text CTAs and internal link CTAs.

Why Anchor Text CTAs Outperform End-of-Post CTAs

Here are some theories we have about why anchor text CTAs are our silver bullet for blog lead gen … 

1) People tend to develop “banner blindness,” and these text-based CTAs don’t look like ads.

The fact that these anchor text CTAs blend in more with the rest of the post may be one of the reasons they perform well. Like I mentioned earlier, because people are so accustomed to seeing and ignoring ads, they’re more likely to ignore CTAs that resemble them. I’d say this is especially true for marketers — and marketers are the target audience for this blog. 

And aside from the fact that anchor text CTAs are slightly larger than the rest of the blog’s body copy, there are really no bells and whistles or gimmicks associated with this type of CTA. Because they’re so straightforward, people may also perceive them as being more genuine than the typical image-based, banner CTA. 

2) Readers rarely make it to the end of a blog post, so showing relevant CTAs sooner is more effective.

There are quite a few studies out there that show that most people don’t read articles in their entirety. In fact, scroll map tracking we’ve done on this very blog supports this data, too. We recently tracked a bunch of blog posts in Crazy Egg, and the scroll maps all show that our readers rarely see the CTA at the bottom of posts because few of them even make it to the bottom.

And those who do make it to the end seem to bounce as soon as they read the last line of text, completely avoiding the image-based CTA at the bottom — which supports our first theory about banner blindness. 

3) Relevant anchor text CTAs give visitors exactly what they were searching for right off the bat.

Many of our top lead generating posts have highly relevant anchor text CTAs that include the exact keywords visitors were searching for when they found the post. This is one of the main goals of our historical optimization project: Knowing that the majority of the blog’s new traffic and leads comes from organic search, we’ve optimized our highest traffic posts using the keywords they rank for.

To explain using an example, let’s say you search for “press release template” in Google, and you click on the first organic result, which is currently our blog post about how to write a press release. As a searcher, the next thing you’d probably do is quickly scan the post to see if it satisfies your search. Now, if one of the first things that catches your eye is an anchor text CTA that reads, “Download our free press release template here” — which happens to be exactly what you were looking for when you searched “press release template” — then there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to click on it.

In other words, the anchor text CTA works really well in this case because it satisfies the visitor’s need right away — within the first few paragraphs of the blog post. What’s important to emphasize here is relevancy. The more relevant the anchor text CTA is to what the visitor is looking for, the better it performs. 

This means that simply adding an anchor text CTA near the top of every blog post won’t necessarily mean it will generate a ton more leads; the relevancy of the CTA to the content of the blog post is a critical factor in its success.

In analyzing the varying lead gen effectiveness of different posts that include anchor text CTAs, it’s easy to identify why some perform better than others, and it all boils down to how relevant the anchor text CTA (and thus the offer it promotes) is to the content of the blog post.

What About Slide-In CTAs?

A slide-in CTA is a CTA that slides into the page as the reader scrolls down. Ours typically include copy, an image, and a “download” button, like you see here … 

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Based on my analysis, slide-in CTAs do seem to perform better than end-of-post CTAs. This makes sense since visitors see them sooner (they slide in at about 25%-50% of the way down the post), and they’re more interactive (they slide out at the visitor and catch their eye). That said, they still don’t come close to matching the effectiveness of text-based CTAs. 

Putting Anchor Text CTAs to the Test 

Once we knew how valuable anchor text CTAs were for generating leads from our blog, we doubled down and added them to about 80 other old, high-traffic blog posts that didn’t already have them.

The increase in conversion rates we witnessed is only proof that these CTA are the silver bullet for our blog …

The view-to-lead conversion rate of posts that didn’t previously have an anchor text CTA increased by an average of 121% when anchor text CTAs were added.

Jackpot. 

But With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility … 

While we now know how valuable anchor text CTAs are, our team is still very selective about which posts we add them to. We mainly target old posts that rank in search because it allows us to identify which keywords searchers are using to find those posts and match that intent with a highly relevant offer/anchor text CTA. 

We also know that the majority (68%) of traffic we get to our blog comes from organic search, and the majority of that organic search traffic (74%) is made up of brand new site visitors who can’t possibly be leads in our database. This means our older posts, which pull in all that organic search traffic, have the highest potential to generate new leads. 

On the flip side, we know that the majority (60%-70%) of initial traffic we generate to a brand new post we publish comes from our email subscribers. We also know that 80% of the email traffic to the blog is made up of returning visitors, and 79% of our email subscribers are already leads in our database. In other words, our brand new content doesn’t have as much potential to generate leads because of the type of traffic it attracts.

As a result, we purposely limit our use of anchor text CTAs on brand new posts, because most of the traffic we get to those posts are A) already leads, and B) some of the biggest fans of our content, whom we want to have the best possible user experience.

One Final Note About “Best Practices”

Remember, while we’ve found that end-of-post banner CTAs don’t perform very well for our particular blog, that doesn’t mean they won’t for yours. Each blog is unique, attracting different types of audiences and publishing different types of content — among a slew of other variables. 

In a perfect world, every blog manager would run this CTA study and conduct a lot of testing themselves to determine the best conversion strategy for their individual blog. But it’s also important to understand that not every blog has access to the resources necessary — like a dedicated optimization team and a high volume of traffic — to do a lot of in-depth testing.  

So while conversion rate optimization experts warn against relying on “best practices,” taking direction from them isn’t a bad approach when you’re just getting started with a new tactic or you don’t have a lot of resources, time, or traffic to test things out for yourself.  

At the very least, maybe we’ve opened your eyes to a promising type of call-to-action (which just so happens to be very easy to create) you can try on your own blog 🙂 

free guide to historical blog optimization

Mar

15

2016

How to Create a Pivot Table in Excel: A Step-by-Step Tutorial (With Video)

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The pivot table is one of Excel’s most powerful — and intimidating — functions. Powerful, because it can help you summarize and make sense of large data sets. Intimidating, because you’re not exactly an Excel expert, and pivot tables have always had a reputation for being complicated.

Download our complete guide to using Excel here for more step-by-step Excel tutorials.

The good news: Learning how to create a pivot table in Excel is much, much easier than you’ve likely been led to believe. But before we walk you through process of creating one, let’s take a step back and make sure you understand exactly what a pivot table is, and why you might need to use one.

What Is a Pivot Table?

To quote Microsoft, a pivot table is a report that lets you, “summarize, analyze, explore, and present a summary” of your data. And it is particularly useful “when you have a long list of figures to sum, and aggregated data or subtotals would help you look at the data from different perspectives and compare figures of similar data.”

In other words, a pivot table lets you extract meaning from that seemingly endless jumble of numbers on your screen. And more specifically, it lets you group your data together in different ways so you can more easily make comparisons.

The “pivot” part of a pivot table stems from the fact that you can rotate (or pivot) the data in the table in order to view it from a different perspective. To be clear, you’re not adding to, subtracting from, or otherwise changing your data when you make a pivot. Instead, you’re simply reorganizing the data so you can extract useful information from it.

Use Cases for Pivot Tables

If you are still feeling a bit confused about what a pivot table actually does, don’t worry. This is one of those technologies that’s much easier to understand once you’ve seen it in action. So, here are two hypothetical scenarios where you’d want to use a pivot table.

Scenario #1: Comparing Sales Totals of Different Products

Say you have a worksheet that contains monthly sales data for three different products — product 1, product 2, and product 3 — and you want to figure out which of the three has been bringing in the most bucks. You could, of course, look through the worksheet and manually add the corresponding sales figure to a running total every time product 1 appears. You could then do the same for product 2, and product 3, until you have totals for all of them. Piece of cake, right?

Now, imagine that monthly sales worksheet of yours has thousands and thousands of rows. Manually sorting through them all could take a lifetime. Using a pivot table, you can automatically aggregate all of the sales figures for product 1, product 2, and product 3 — and calculate their respective sums — in less than a minute.

Scenario #2: Combining Duplicate Data

In this scenario, you’ve just completed a blog redesign and had to update a bunch of URLs. Unfortunately, your blog reporting software didn’t handle it very well, and ended up splitting the “view” metrics for single posts between two different URLs. So in your spreadsheet, you have two separate instances of each individual blog post. In order to get accurate data, you need to combine the view totals for each of these duplicates.

That’s where the pivot table comes into play. Instead of having to manually search for and combine all the metrics from the duplicates, you can summarize your data (via pivot table) by blog post title, and voilà: the view metrics from those duplicate posts will be aggregated automatically.

How to Create Excel Pivot Tables

Now that you have a better sense of what pivot tables can be used for, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of how to actually create one.

Step 1: Click a cell to create the table. 

If you’re using a Mac, click anywhere inside your data array, navigate to the Tables tab, and click New. (Alternatively, you can go to Insert > Table via the top navigation). Then, select the Summarize with PivotTable option from the Tables tab and click OK on the pop-up menu.

If you’re using a PC, this process is a little bit simpler: Just click anywhere inside your data array and navigate to the Insert tab. Next, select the “PivotTable” option and click “OK” on the pop-up menu.

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Step 2: Drag and drop a field into the “Row Labels” area.

After you’ve completed Step 1, Excel will create a blank pivot table for you. Your next step is to drag and drop a field — labeled according to the names of the columns in your spreadsheet — into the “Row Labels” area. This will determine what unique identifier — blog post title, product name, and so on — the pivot table will organize your data by.

For example, let’s say you want to organize a bunch of blogging data by post title. To do that, you’d simply click and drag the “Title” field to the “Row Labels” area.

pivot-table-step-2.png

Note: Your pivot table may look different depending on which version of Excel you’re working with. However, the general principles remain the same.

Step 3: Drag and drop a field into the “Values” area.

Once you’ve established what you’re going to organize your data by, your next step is to add in some values by dragging a field into the “Values” area.

Sticking with the blogging data example, let’s say you want to summarize blog post views by title. To do this, you’d simply drag the “Views” field into the Values area.

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Step 4: Fine-tune your calculations.

The sum of a particular value will be calculated by default, but you can easily change this to something like average, maximum, or minimum depending on what you want to calculate.

On a Mac, you can do this by clicking on the small “i” next to a value in the “Values” area, selecting the option you want, and clicking “OK.” Once you’ve made your selection, your pivot table will be updated accordingly.

If you’re using a PC, you’ll need to click on the small upside-down triangle next to your value and select “Value Field Settings” in order to access the menu.

pivot-table-step-4.png

Digging Deeper

You’ve now learned the basics of pivot table creation in Excel. But depending on what you need your pivot table for, you might not be done.

For example, you may notice that the data in your pivot table isn’t sorted the way you’d like. If were the case, Excel’s Sort function can help you out. Alternatively, you may need to incorporate data from another source into your reporting, in which case the VLOOKUP function could come in handy.

To take a deeper dive into the world of Excel and learn about its various functions, download our comprehensive guide, How to Use Excel.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2013 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

free guide: how to use excel

 
free guide: how to use excel

Mar

3

2016

How to Use Excel: A Marketer’s Must-Have Guide [Free Ebook]

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These days, knowing how to use Microsoft Excel is so expected that it hardly warrants a line on our resumes. But, let’s be honest here: How well do you really know how to use it?

You may know how to plug in numbers and add up cells in a column, but that’s not going to get you far when it comes to reporting on your metrics.

Gone are the days when marketers could rely on their gut for important business decisions. More than likely, you’ve already been tasked with identifying trends within customer survey results, performing content topic analyses, or pulling in sales data to calculate return on investment. What do all these things have in common? They require a bit more Excel knowledge than what we learned in grade school. 

Here’s where our handy new guide How to Use Excel: Essential Training for Data-Driven Marketing comes in. Whether you’d like to create prettier charts (and faster), finally understand what pivot tables are, or complete your first VLOOKUP (I promise it’s not as scary as it sounds), this guide will teach you everything you need to make more informed marketing decisions, in less time.

Since we all know that reading about Excel may not be the most captivating topic, we’ve catered this ebook to your unique learning style. Inside, you’ll find:

  • Short videos on each topic to help orient you — and for those in search of quick answers
  • Deep dives into topics like basic functions, INDEX MATCH, pivot tables, conditional formatting, VLOOKUP, IF functions, data visualization, and more
  • Tips, tricks, and advice about using Excel to build reports
  • Practice questions at the close of each chapter

So don’t push off mastering Excel another day.

Download How to Use Excel: Essential Training for Data-Driven Marketing.

free guide: how to use excel

Jan

12

2016

Google Gives Road Map to Retailers With New Analytics

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The more information a business has about its customers, the better that business can sell, right? It’s why marketers work so hard to develop buyer personas and then segment contact lists a million different ways—everything is designed to reach the customer exactly where they are and exactly when they’re ready to make a purchase.

The problem, until now, is that data takes a long time to aggregate. You can’t know everything you need to know about a particular buyer the very first time he or she visits your ecommerce website. You need several visits, some onsite searches, a social media interaction, and maybe even an abandoned cart to really know what your buyers are looking for, right?

Google Knows Best

Who knows more about what consumers are looking for than Google? Whether those buyers want to order something online or head out to the closest retailer, one thing remains: they tell Google exactly what they’re looking for. That means Google has known way more about your buyers than you have. All they’d tell you was what you found in your Google Analytics report.

All that has changed. Google added a new feature to their analytics. Now, retailers and etailers can determine who’s searching for what…and where they’re searching. Not only can brands now identify where the majority of their buyers live and what products they’re searching for, Google also tells those companies what type of device their customers are most likely to use.

Make the Most of Your Analytics

There’s a sense of immediacy that’s removed when you track data over a long period of time, isn’t there? How many potential buyers did you miss out on because they were actually ready to make a purchase upon their first visit to your website? With the added convenience the latest technology has provided, buyers make snap decisions based on their current emotions and wants.

The latest analytics from Google will allow you to recognize those “I want to buy…” moments so you can act quickly. When you know where your buyers are and what they’re buying, you can create new marketing strategies that reach across all channels—search, social, display, content, video—to snag those buyers as their making a choice.

Your messaging will be more relevant when you know what is being searched, the terms used in those searches, and what questions the buyers are asking. And since 69% of online shoppers say that message quality, timing, and relevance influence their purchases, understanding who your buyers are also makes providing purchase opportunities easier than ever.

Learn to grow your ecommerce business with these guides.

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Dec

1

2015

How to Reduce Your Website’s HTTP Requests

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Every time you surf the web, there’s a whole world of technical stuff going on behind the scenes. Developers and engineers are usually the ones living and operating in that world, while some marketers — especially those who aren’t super confident in their technical expertise — tend to shy away from it.

But marketers need to have, at minimum, a general understanding of what’s going on behind the scenes of their website.

Why? For one, metrics marketers tend to be responsible for can depend heavily on the back-end development of a website. For example, the number of HTTP requests your webpage requires affects page load time, which ultimately influences user experience, bounce rate, and other key metrics. 

What is an HTTP request? How does it affect user experience? And what can a marketer do to reduce their website’s HTTP requests? Let’s go through each of these questions one by one. By the end, you’ll have a better grasp on why these response protocols matter, and what you can do to give your website visitors a better experience.

To see how strong your website is, check out our Website Grader tool for a detailed report of your website’s overall performance. 

What is an HTTP Request?

Each time someone visits a webpage, here’s what typically happens: That person’s web browser (Chrome, Firefox, etc.) pings the web server that hosts the webpage they’re trying to visit — in this case, a webpage on your website. It requests that the server send it the files containing the content for that site. These files contain any text, images, and multimedia that exist on that webpage.

That request is called an HTTP request. HTTP stands for “Hypertext Transfer Protocol,” which is just a fancy name for a web browser sending a request for a file, and the server sending (or “transferring”) that file to the browser.

Once your server receives an HTTP request from a user’s browser, your server then responds and delivers the files to that user’s browser. The user’s browser then renders the webpage.

Here’s the thing: The browser needs to make a separate HTTP request for every single file on your website. If your website doesn’t have many files, then it won’t take very long to request and download the content on your site. But most good websites do have a lot of files. Large, high definition images are usually the culprit.

How HTTP Requests Affect User Experience

In a nutshell, the more files on your website, the more HTTP requests your user’s browser will need to make. The more HTTP requests, the longer your site takes to load. And larger files will take even longer to transfer.

A long load time can be a disruptive and frustrating experience for your users. Mobile users will have a particularly bad experience, as most of them will have to wait until every asset on a webpage is downloaded before the page will even begin to appear in their mobile browser.

And research shows load time matters when it comes to website performance. According to KISSmetrics, 47% of consumers expect a webpage to load in two seconds or less, and 40% abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load.

So, what’s the magic number of HTTP requests a website should aim for? The answer is not “one.” Some people think they can solve the problem by only using one JavaScript file to control their entire website. But remember: File size affects load time, too. For complex websites, that one file will be insanely long.

While there isn’t necessarily an optimal number of files your webpage should be reduced to, HubSpot’s principal product marketing manager Jeffrey Vocell suggests aiming for between 10–30 files. For most top-performing websites, getting there is difficult and generally requires dedicated engineering resources. Steve Souders, an internet performance expert formerly at Yahoo! and Google, tweeted last year that the average number of page requests is actually 99+ per page.

How to Reduce Your Website’s HTTP Requests

1) Check how many HTTP requests your site currently makes.

Google Chrome’s Network panel makes it easy for anyone to check how many HTTP requests a site makes. It’s a really cool way of seeing what’s on your page and what’s taking a long time to load.

Basically, it shows you all the files that a browser had to request and transfer in order to download the page — and it also shows a timeline of when this happened. For example, the API can tell you precisely when the HTTP request for an image started, and when the image’s final byte was received. It’s a really cool way of seeing what’s on your page and what’s taking a long time to load.

To see the Network panel for a given webpage, open the webpage in Google Chrome. In the main Chrome menu at the top of your screen, go to View > Developer > Developer Tools. 

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The Network panel will open in your browser. Since it records all network activity while DevTools is open, the panel may be empty when you first open it. Reload the page to start recording, or just wait for network activity to occur in your application.

Here’s an overview of what everything in the Network panel means:

network-overview.png

Image Credit: Google

Curious how many requests your website requires? The Network panel will tell you that, too. Take a look at the very bottom left of the screenshot above and you’ll see the total number of requests; in this case, 25 requests.

To learn how to read the panel and evaluate your network performance in more detail, read through this Google Chrome resource.

2) Remove unnecessary images.

At this point, you should have an idea of which files are taking longest to load, including image files. The easiest way to reduce the number of requested files? Eliminate unnecessary images.

Images are a valuable webpage asset because they make for a strong visual experience on your webpages. However, if you have images on your page that aren’t contributing much value, it’s best to just cut them out altogether — especially the ones that are really large.

3) Reduce the file size for remaining images.

For the images you do keep, use high-quality photos that have a compressed file size. This will help reduce the time it takes to make a HTTP request, thereby reducing load time.

If you’re a HubSpot user, you don’t have to worry about compressing images — the HubSpot COS will automatically resize and compress your images. Otherwise, use a tool like TinyPNG or Compressor.io to reduce file size.

4) Evaluate other parts of your page that are contributing to page load time.

Cutting and compressing images are a great first step to reducing HTTP requests and page load time. But what else did you see on the Network panel that’s adding requests? For example, you might find that a video or Twitter integration adds an entire second or two to your load time. That’s good to know. From there, you and your team can decide whether those assets are worth keeping.

5) Make JavaScript asynchronous.

If you have JavaScript on your page that’s not asynchronous then you’ll want to take it to your developer to make it asynchronous — or remove it from the webpage altogether, if possible.

Why? It all comes down to user experience. When a person’s browser loads a webpage, it loads the page’s assets from top to bottom. When it hits a JavaScript file and wants to load it, if that JavaScript is not asynchronous, then the browser will stop loading everything else on the page until it loads that JavaScript file in its entirely.

If that JavaScript is asynchronous, then the browser will load it at the same time as it continues loading other elements on the page. Asynchronous JavaScript files make for a better user experience.

To learn more about making JavaScript code asynchronous, I recommend checking out this presentation by Steve Souders and this blog post by Visual Website Optimizer.

6) Combine CSS files together.

Every CSS file you use for your website adds to the number of HTTP requests your website requires, thereby adding time to your page load speed. While this is sometimes unavoidable, in most cases, you can actually combine two or more CSS files together. (You may have to get help from a developer for this.)

Why? Because CSS code can be anywhere on your site or in any number of files, and it’ll still works just as well. In fact, often the only reason a site has multiple CSS files in the first place is because the site’s designer found it easier to work with separate files. (To learn about combining CSS files in more detail, take a look at this front-end website performance guide.)

If you want a more detailed report of your website’s overall performance, check out HubSpot’s newly redesigned Website Grader. You’ll receive a free, personalized report that grades your site on key metrics including performance, mobile readiness, SEO, and security.

evaluate your website's performance for free

Nov

22

2015

How to Improve Your Website Experience: 10 User Testing Tools to Try

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This post originally appeared on Agency Post. To read more content like this, subscribe to Agency Post.

When our jeans no longer fit, we buy new ones. When our coffee pot starts to make a funny noise, we beeline it to Bed Bath & Beyond to pick up a replacement. Seems reasonable, right?

So what makes your website any different? When performance declines, will you settle for the same results month after month? Or will you make a change?

Your website should be viewed as a constant work in progress. Your designs are not intended to be permanent, but rather, they should evolve to fit the needs of users over time. 

So to get you started on the path of continuous improvement, we’ve collected a list of helpful user testing tools and resources that will have you analyzing your website in an entirely new way. 

10 Usability Testing & Research Tools

1) CrazyEgg

CrazyEgg is a heat mapping software that enables users to gain a better understanding of how visitors are interacting with their website. With this tool, you can track multiple domains under one account and uncover insights about your site’s performance using four different intelligence tools:

  • Heat map: Uncover where people are clicking on your site to determine what elements are converting and which aren’t.
  • Scroll map: Identify how far down users are scrolling so you can optimize the content above the fold. 
  • Overlay: See the number of clicks different elements on your page are receiving to evaluate performance.
  • Confetti: Distinguish clicks from different referral sources, search terms, and more to see where you should be focusing your efforts. 

Pricing: CrazyEgg offers four different pricing packages that range from $9 per month to $99.

2) Loop11

Loop11 is an easy-to-use tool that allows users to create a new usability test by entering a few simple details. Once created, it allows you to customize your test template, assign tasks and objectives, and ask usability questions such as “how would you describe this website?” or “what features stuck out most to you?”

Once you finalize the details, you’ll be able to source participants through a number of different avenues. For example, you can create a pop-up for your website and recruit testers using a service like Ethnio

Pricing: Loop11 offers three pricing packages based on the size of your company: Micro ($158 per month), SMB ($410 per month), and Enterprise ($825 per month). Users also have the option to pay as they go, starting at $350 per project.

3) Mouseflow

Missing out on conversions? It could be your form design … but how can you know for sure?

Mouseflow is an analytics tool that gives users the ability to record their visitors experience with their website to identify patterns and trends in terms of mouse movements, clicks, scrolls, keystrokes, and form fills. The tool also offers heat maps to help users visualize what aspects of the page visitors are viewing and interacting with most. 

The best part? Mouseflow makes it easy for agencies to keep their clients informed by enabling multi-user accounts, session-based page support, as well as an easy way for users to download and share reports. 

With access to these insights, you can optimize your website based on user behavior to create more meaningful interactions. 

Pricing: Mouseflow offers four different set packages ranging from $19 per month to $399 based on the number of recorded sessions you want. 

4) Attensee

When a visitor lands on your site, they’ll decide in moments whether or not it aligns with what they’re in search of. This makes determining how to position your website content to ensure that it speaks to the right audience and in the right way a priority. Rather than guess-and-check, the Attensee software mimics eye-tracking — without the extra hardware and cost — to generate data that helps users understand which content is drawing and holding the attention of their visitors. 

Pricing: $49 per month

5) HotJar

HotJar is an all-in-one analytics and feedback software that helps users identify opportunities for improvement using a number of tools including:

  • Heatmaps
  • Visitor recordings
  • Conversion funnels
  • Form analytics
  • Feedback polls
  • Surveys
  • User tests 

Using the insights generated from these tools, users can then improve the usability of their navigation, remove ignored content, identify confusing areas, adjust page copy, etc. 

Pricing: Hotjar offers three different packages that range from free to $89 per month based on the page view count your site sees each day. 

6) The User Is Drunk 

Richard Littauer is a UX professional and developer. Outside of his regular day job, Littauer developed The User is Drunk to provide users with an alternative view of the traditional user test. 

You see, the difference between Littauer’s service and almost all the others on the market is that he performs each test under the influence. He writes: “One of the core tenets of UX is that you’ve got to design like ‘the user is drunk.’ Any feature of your site has to be able to be used by someone who could be drunk — because, invariably, the user will mess it up otherwise. Wonderful idea. The thing is, it is hard to test. I and a lot of beer will test this for you.

Littauer sends each website owner a document outlining the problems of the website and a screencast of him reviewing the site. 

Sound offbeat? That’s because it is … but we tried it anyway. Here’s what Littauer had to say about HubSpot’s website. 

Pricing: $250 per site 

7) The User Is My Mom

Organized by The User Is Drunk’s Richard Littauer and entrepreneur and developer Scotty Allen, The User Is Your Mom employs Allen’s mom to review your website. 

While it may sound a little silly, the review is designed to uncover barriers and distractions that well-seasoned web users are often blind to. 

“My mom tutors high school students and likes quilting and hiking. She yells at her computer, doesn’t know what a Twitter is, and struggles to find windows she’s minimized. You should design with your mother in mind. If she can’t understand your site, others will struggle as well,” states the website.

Pricing: $100 per site

8) Morae

Morae — one of the leading usability software tools on the market — offers a sophisticated suite of tools to help users collect data that can be used to inform their optimization strategy.

  • Recorder captures audio, video, on-screen activity, and keyboard or mouse input.
  • Observer allows users to observe a tester’s website engagement in real time.
  • Manager makes it easy for users to bring their tests full circle by calculating metrics, generating graphs, and creating highlight videos.

Pricing: The software suite is priced at $1,995.

9) Userfeel

Userfeel is an online usability testing service that provides users with a way to quickly understand how visitors are responding to a website or specific landing page. 

A key element of this platform is its multilingual network of testers, which will be useful for those with global clients and campaigns. 

To give you a better idea of what you can expect from your investment, check out this sample results page which includes a usability video as well as written responses to user questions. 

Pricing: Each online test is priced at $39.

10) Peek

Looking to get a “peek” into the mind of your users?

Peek from UserTesting is designed to give you just that by making it easy for you to connect with a real person to uncover real insights about your website’s usability. 

The tool is both fast and free, making it the perfect solution for marketers who are looking for a quick turnaround. All that’s required is your website URL, name, number, and email address, and you’re on your way to receiving a five-minute video of input that can be easily shared with your colleagues. 

Pricing: While Peek offers an entirely free version of its service, users can upgrade for more features starting at $49 per video. 

What are your favorite using testing tools? Let us know in the comments section below. 

50 examples of beautiful website design