12 posts categorized " Content Marketing"

11/19/2018

Introducing the Wild Apricot Text Manager

Wild Apricot Text Manager logo
Wild Apricot Text Manager

 Wild Apricot allows any content gadgets to be edited by a website administrator. When placing your cursor over a content gadget you can see the option to edit, like below:

Content editor

However, many gadgets in the System Pages are marked as (System) and do not allow editing whatsoever:

System gadget

Now it is possible to change the text on form labels and buttons inside these System gadgets. You can also publish Wild Apricot websites in 2 languages!

The Wild Apricot Text Manager (WATM) is a simple to configure JavaScript library that levers the jQuery library already included with every Wild Apricot website. WATM will help any administrator manage and replace nearly every piece of system text in Wild Apricot. You can also use it to change CSS for any class or ID. WATM can be used optionally to enable 2 language Wild Apricot websites without needing to create any additional site pages or page templates. A list of replaceable elements is included in the easy-to-edit Excel configuration file. You can make a variety of changes such as global search and replace, modifying form labels and buttons, changing CSS properties on any class or ID and hiding certain labels or buttons altogether.

The configuration for the Wild Apricot Text manager is made inside a comma separated configuration file which can be edited in Microsoft Excel or another text editor. To activate WATM, a few lines need to be added to Wild Apricot’s Global Javascript. You will also need  to edit and upload  the WATM configuration file which includes the text edits and translations. The full WATM package is added to your site using Wild Apricot’s website Files manager.

Support for WATM is available by getting in touch.

 Download Wild Apricot Text Manager

 

Version History

0.1 - Initial Release 11/19/18

0.2 - Added support for many more system flags, added French translation into CSV configuration file, changed testing button toggle label 11/27/18

0.3 - Added support for adding a style, added several more system labels, added support for limiting the language toggle display "flicker" 12/5/18

0.4 - Added support for effective primary menu design changes, added support to override any CSS class or ID 12/13/18

01/17/2018

The 5 Core Business Capabilities Every Business Must Master

Business owners wear many hats and feel a lot of pressure to be good at everything they’re trying to juggle. Relax! Even though we’re about to tell you about five essential areas you need to cover in your business, you don’t need to be amazing at all of them.

In our experience, though, you must at least have a good handle on the first two. We’ve seen firsthand the struggle of business owners who don’t know their basic business objectives or marketing strategy.

In our interactive guidebook How to Get Ahead in 2018, we take you through 15 simple, concrete steps for becoming a digital workplace, and link you to our favourite cloud-enabled technologies for each tip. We outline exactly what to do, and the tools you need to do it. But if you’re not quite ready to adopt new technologies or processes, we suggest you start with the five business basics we’re covering today.

While we love to talk tech, here at NewPath we see these essential concepts not as technologies but as drivers to the appropriate technology. This knowledge set will sustain your business through 2018.

There will always be overlap between these five areas. For example, content marketing leverages the internet and several systems covered in the implementation area. Market is understanding your market and the basics of marketing, while content marketing is a specific form of marketing. With that in mind, here are the five core business capabilities that we at NewPath believe are fundamental to any successful business:

Core Capabilites High Level

  1. Business

This capability involves clarifying your business model and business objectives, and your professional ethics and legal practices such as contracting and intellectual property. It’s understanding what business you’re in so you can set objectives for where you want to be, such as your goals for revenue generation and profit.

Nailing down the way you get new customers and how you serve them defines where you should invest. Are you a high-value business, a widget seller, a retail store? Every value proposition leads to specific investment priorities.  

Of the five basic capabilities, we think what’s most important is for every business owner to know their business objectives and business model. The rest you can hire or outsource.

The Business Model Canvas approach we recommend to outline your objectives offers a simplified approach. This exercise uses one page to identify your business model today and what it could be in the future. Start now with this interactive online version we’ve created for you, and be sure to regularly review and improve on your objectives and model.  

‘Business’ also implies an ability to focus on particular set of things you’re really good at and maximize those capabilities or value propositions. One of the things I notice about small business owners is they depend on one contract or customer coming in after another without knowing or investigating why they came specifically to them. Therefore they don’t hit an engine of growth by continuing to attract new customers without depending on existing word of mouth only.

At NewPath Consulting one thing that seems to be working for us is building partnerships with the vendors whose products we sell. Once we’ve built intellectual property around using that software service (blog post articles, videos, white papers, etc.), we go to them and ask if we can partner. We use that content as a strategy to make a connection. So setting up referral partnerships is one example of an objective we are using to meet our business goals.

Other objectives might involve legal and contracting practices or ethical considerations, such as a master services agreement template. Putting this in place with the help of a small business lawyer has definitely helped us bring on larger customers.

  1. Market

This capability is about understanding the customer and what motivates them to engage, defining your value proposition, and the 4 Ps of marketing -- product, price, promotion and place

Your product is, quite simply, what you're offering and the inherent value proposition, while price is what you will charge for your product or service. Will you have rock bottom pricing or premium pricing? At NewPath we don’t charge premium pricing. We offer reasonable pricing for our target customers of small and medium sized businesses, with primarily fixed cost contracts rather than variable contracts where we would charge by the hour.

The third P is promotion. Knowing how to promote your business is one of most essential skills. Too many small businesses don’t invest in marketing because they’re unsure of what marketing investment will work for them. Radio, TV and print cost too much; flyers become junk-mail; Google Ads can be easily blocked. But if you never channel your profits back into the right mix of marketing, you may never grow into being a well-known leader in your field.

As we mentioned above, one way NewPath gets great marketing traction is to approach vendors and arrange for them to promote our business through content marketing or simply by recommending us with ‘backlinks.’ (As a bonus, having links to your site from a larger site is one of the best ways to rank higher in search engine results!) We connect with our partners and provide interesting content on a regular basis and found this method to be so successful that we will continue to do this even more in 2018.

For service businesses, word of mouth is extremely important. Make sure you’re monitoring social media about your business to address any negative sentiment and to highlight any positive recommendations, referrals and comments to build the quality of your brand online. However, don’t expect your core customers and vendors to do all your advertising for you.

You must also actively promote yourself through marketing and potentially advertising. It’s important that your promotion is aligned with what it is you’re trying to do (your value proposition). In a digital workplace, promotion should be primarily online. You can use other marketing channels to promote or distribute your value proposition but the best ROI for your marketing buck is definitely online.

The fourth P is place, or the context of your workplace. Where are you interacting with your customers? Is this on social media or by email marketing? Have you set up your business virtually? Do you have a local business where foot traffic makes a big difference?

In a digital workplace, office space doesn’t matter as much - your place becomes however and wherever you put yourself in front of your customers when they need you. This ties again into the idea of partnerships. For example, one of our most valued vendors is Wild Apricot, and NewPath is listed in the Wild Apricot partner network.

The partner network is one place current Wild Apricot customers go to select a vendor to help them implement, and ranking highly in this directory brings us a steady stream of referral customers. Being in the right place at the right time makes a huge difference for us. It may for you as well!

By being in the right place when customers need service from a business like yours you’ll be more likely to be chosen. SEO (search engine optimization) plays a role in that, as does high-quality content and vendors who recommend you as partners.  

The next three capabilities are ones that may not come naturally, but that small businesses should be building all the time either through internal staff or outsourcing.

  1. Design and usability

This capability is about creating the necessary online environment to deliver value to customers, which includes branding, graphic design, security and privacy. This represents how your business interacts with its customers online.

It’s the brand people associate with you and your company, from what kind of kind of graphic design you use to your policies around security and privacy. The design and usability of your services and support is how you build a first and lasting impression on your customers.

When you’re using digital products and representing yourself online, your personality has to be reflected in the design of your online presence since that’s often how customers interact with your business.

Design may not be something you’ve put a lot of thought into until now, but if you want to grow your business, you need a professional presence you can feel proud of. That’s why the most successful companies like Amazon and Apple put so much effort into design and making sure their design is consistent across every touchpoint of their customers’ journeys.  

Amazon’s investment in design values helped them emerge as one of today’s market leaders (even though they lost money for years). Investing in the design and usability of your online operations is just as important for you to be able to prosper in 2018 and beyond.  

Usability and security are equally as important as visual design. You need to do a good job of explaining to people how you will store and use the personal information they’re entering into your site or as they subscribe to your newsletter.

This area is the most expensive to get right, and it’s not easily accomplished. In most cases you have to outsource this responsibility unless you are a professional graphic and web designer or choose a professional website theme or template. Keep in mind that you don’t have to figure this out all at once. It can steadily improved all the time, especially when you incorporate testing and analytics to track and measure how people are responding to your changes.

At NewPath we’ve chosen to work with vendors and organizations who also value design and usability, so we can bring this forward to our customers without having to reinvent the wheel. These capabilities are built right into the services and products we offer.

  1. Implementation

This capability is about developing or acquiring the technical knowledge and fundamental capabilities of digital workplace software tools and services, in order to accomplish your business goals.

Implementation tools includes things like standards and protocols, hosting and server technologies, content management systems, programming and markup languages, databases, change and project managements, and eCommerce.

You can divide these tools into the broader categories of operations, sales, and marketing. At NewPath we specialize in all three, and in helping you implement these tools and services. You can click here to read more about the technology stack we use and recommend.  

  1. Content marketing

Content marketing represents a new way to market, in an industry where there really hasn’t been much innovation for a long time. As Queen’s University’s Ken Wong points out in this 2014 article about ‘the incredible shrinking marketer,’ “Our response to change has been tactical. Instead of trying to find better things to do, we simply try to do the old things a little better.” NewPath presents a better option for your marketing investments.

Content marketing enables you to combine the first four capabilities and present them to your target audience. By understanding your business, knowing your value proposition, applying good design and usability principles, and implementing right technology solutions, you can create content that expresses your value proposition.

Customers and business partners will be able to quickly find you, read more about you, and be confident that you know what you’re doing. You’ll be building a reputation and an online following.

The articles we publish on our blog and newsletter are just the tip of the iceberg of our knowledge of sales, marketing, and the business technologies that we recommend. We've found that when you consistently publish high-quality content, you’re regularly reminding your audience that you exist, that you have value to share, and that you’re the best at what you do. It is one of the best ways we’ve found to grow traffic to our website, and get referrals from visitors on our website. You need to do this for your small business as well.

Content marketing is an art and a science, for sure, whether you’re passing along industry information or writing your own piece to distribute. Necessary skills include writing for an online audience, having a strategic view of writing things your audience is interested in, and measuring and understanding your analytics so you know what’s working and what’s not working.

Most importantly, your content marketing efforts must be aligned to your knowledge of your business objectives and business model. This is why the business core competency is so critical - it drives your content marketing efforts.

Content marketing may sound challenging, but you can start small with posts on one social media network, or a monthly email newsletter. What you cannot do is just have a nice, beautiful website; the time has passed for an ‘online brochure.’ You need to grow an audience to your site and your brand. This is why it’s essential to reach out and ensure an ever-widening market in your target audience is reading your stuff and forwarding it to their network. Try to leverage the larger sites of your partners and vendors for further outreach as well.   

What you may not realize about content marketing is that there’s a much smaller investment than advertising and yet the return can be a lot higher. But you can’t do it as a side hobby or on an irregular basis. You won’t see that return unless you invest your time learning to write well or pay a writer, display and distribute your information effectively on social media and via email, and ensure your partners and network are sharing your work.

There is a learning curve for achieving mastery in any of these areas. The Web Management Institute outlines the different skills you should focus on as you advance from apprentice to master digital business owner. In future articles we’ll drill down on some of these additional capabilities.

In the meantime, there are many online resources that can help, and here are a few to start: Coursera, Lynda.com, American Marketing Association, Wharton School of Business, and Santa Clara University (Starting a Business and Business Expansion).

We at NewPath Consulting are here to offer support, plans and advice to any SMB embarking on this digital journey. Please contact us for no-cost advice.

01/11/2017

2016 Traffic Update: Content Marketing Works!

For small businesses, investing in content marketing is a judgement call. When we launched NewPath Consulting in 2010, we made a call to invest in ads to build awareness. This is sometimes called the “spray and pray” approach, where you’re trying to spray your message to as many people as possible, while you pray that some of them may eventually turn into customers.

In many ways, it’s easy to determine the ROI of buying ads. You spend a certain amount of money to get access to a certain amount of viewers. With content marketing, on the other hand, you’re won’t know upfront how many viewers you will get. Content marketing builds relationships with your target audience over a long period of time.

Content marketing relationships

Your target audience is also reading content on other websites - those of your partners, potential partners, and even your competitors. So part of your content marketing strategy must be to collaborate with these partners to co-create, share and promote content.

Building these relationships is really the most valuable way that a small business can build a community and stand out from the crowd. There are two key reasons for this.

First of all, when you have trusted partners that value you, and they share your content with their audience, that creates an implied endorsement that creates trust with potential customers.

As well, when you write content about your vendors and other partners, that becomes a new way for prospective customers to find you. When people search for information about those other companies, they may discover your content and find their their way to your website as a result.

Content marketing relationship example - NewPath Consulting and Formstack

You can see this in action in one of our most popular blog posts. Formstack is an online form builder and one of the preferred vendors we recommend to our customers. To explain why, we partnered with Formstack to present a case study of how of our clients used the application to generate substantial revenue and sustain their business.

The webinar was a huge success with more than 450 participants, and we created an additional post-event article featuring the questions and answers from the Formstack webinar. Since both NewPath and Formstack promoted the post on social media, we were both able to benefit from this mutual effort. A win-win situation like this is one of the most powerful strategies to building quality traffic to your services or products.

2016 content marketing results

Here are the actual results from our content marketing efforts last year. We’ll compare this to our earlier practice of buying ads. Breaking out the blog and website stats separately illustrates a much clearer picture of how the blog traffic leads to increased traffic on the rest of the website. (See Part I and Part II of our Google Analytics articles to learn how to do this for your own site.)

Overall NPC Website Traffic Trend

As we started blogging regularly and sent regular monthly email newsletters in 2016 our traffic jumped from the previous year (see below). We discovered that instead of investing in ads as we did in 2010, moving our efforts into content marketing yielded much better results. Not only did our blog traffic jump, but much more importantly that translated to the highest amount of traffic we had even compared to when we bought ads in 2010!

Essentially, investing roughly the same amount of money per year as we did for ads yielded more traffic, which was much better targeted to our audience. By investing in content marketing I mean quality writing, along with ensuring good channels for distribution with quality partners, such as the Formstack webinar recap we mentioned above.

Traffic-overview

Notice that almost all the metrics are performing better year over year. % of New Sessions is down, but in our case we want more return visitors - more traffic and more return visitors means people are checking us out more often.

When we looked more closely at the types of traffic, we discovered that the biggest jump in year-over-year traffic was from mobile viewers, versus those on a desktop computer or tablet. The 60%+ jump in mobile optimization is critical in today's world. We hope some of these visitors check us out on mobile and return on a desktop.

Device-category

Social media amplifies the message

How did visitors find their way to our site in 2016, and how did that compare to the previous year? There was a big jump in social media traffic from our own social media channels or from our technology partners.

There is also a jump in direct traffic - people who went directly to the NewPath Consulting website on their own. This is a great sign that people are learning and remembering our business name and website link. And look at email year over year - regular monthly sends really establishes a pattern for our audiences and drives traffic reliably.

One constant snag is monitoring valid referral traffic. "Ghost" traffic coming from shady websites still continues to get through the Google Analytics filter. We are working hard to generate a lot more high-quality referral traffic from partner websites.

Channel-grouping

We have worked hard to become listed on partner directories in 2016 and will continue to do that in 2017. Take a look at the traffic patterns generated year over year, that has led directly to new customers!

Visits-from-partners

Another way to measure our efforts is to look at how much traffic came from each social media platform. Here we see a big jump in Twitter referrals (marked by t.co), which is a direct result of using Hootsuite’s Bulk Composer to re-share our most popular posts on a regular basis. This handy tool helped us deliver an arsenal of quality social media-ready content that we knew was popular, based on the analytics of our content.

Social-source

How will you invest your time and money in 2017?

For B2B small businesses, buying ads is an expensive proposition. Our experience shows that it’s best to spend money elsewhere, such as on professional writers and editors, and social media resources. Once your brand is established, then you might consider buying ads to further leverage your brand awareness. We believe service companies can build customers without having to invest in ads, particularly in super competitive market spaces.

Now that we’ve opened up our business and results to you, take a look at your own results. What do your Google Analytics tell you about your website traffic this year compared to last? How is content marketing working in your business? Do you buy ads? What ROI have you seen with those?

Please comment below or on our Facebook page to join the conversation.

10/11/2016

How Effective Use of Analytics Increases Your Traffic - A Scientific Experiment Part II

As small business owners we have limited resources and we must make them count. That includes the time, money and effort put into creating content.

In a previous post we introduced our Average Pageviews Per Month spreadsheet report, which measures how well your content performs. The more pageviews per month over time, the more that content is resonating with your audience.

In this blog post, we will document how to configure and use the Average Pageviews per Month metric and a few other interesting reports we will build.

One of our most powerful reports is called “All Posts.” It automatically generates a snapshot of all traffic to your blog, from the beginning of when you started reporting to the current day (=today). You can then use formulas in your spreadsheet to control what data is displayed, and how.

Google Analytics has its limits

Why do this reporting outside of Google Analytics, when it is such a robust platform? When you go to Google Analytics your starting points are almost always different - the date/time parameters and other elements of your dashboard are always set to  what you looked at last. If you’re always resetting parameters, you can lose track. It’s like you’re always starting from scratch; you’re getting a scattered point of view and it’s hard to focus on a few metrics and measure how things are changing.

Filtering on certain parameters is also not intuitive and difficult to do on the fly while doing analysis. The filter parameters have to be set up each and every time you run a report, or you must set up “segments” - an advanced feature of Google Analytics.

A customized Google spreadsheet, like the one we showed you to set up in the last post, is always reflective of the same date parameters and filters. You get what you expect - every time. Plus most small business owners are already comfortable with reading a spreadsheet, while Google Analytics reports can take some getting used to. Also, when you use Google Analytics without a filter, you get all web pages and blog posts, instead of focusing on just the blog posts, which is what we’re trying to do here.

Another bonus of spreadsheet reports is that if you want to make changes to the data, you can always add new reports and run them using a new report configuration. Since all reports can automatically update every day, this is a powerful alternative to the Google Analytics system, configured exactly how you want.

A closer look at the All Posts report

Here are the metrics we want to capture in the All Posts report:

  • Pageviews (number of pageviews of that post)
  • Unique pageviews (factors out if a person loaded the page more than once; doesn’t count the multiple page views during the same session)
  • Average time on page (amount of time reading before clicking away)
  • Entrances (# of times someone actually started their web visit on that page)
  • Bounce rate (# of times started at that page but didn’t continue to any other pages on the site; the article didn’t engage them)
  • Exit rate (# of times this was the last page someone visited before leaving the site)

In Part One of this post we introduced the pattern matching language known as regular expression (also known as a regex). Here we’ll use regex again to filter for these dimensions:

  • Sort by descending order on number of pageviews using the directive  -GA;pageviews
  • Page path - the text that appears after the domain name of your site, i.e., /myblogpost.html

The page path filter includes the regex code that identifies  which of your website pages are actually blog posts. For example, the blog posts on our website uses a URL pattern of /YYYY/MM/blog-postname-html, so our regex will filter all page URLs that start with with /YYYY/MM. You can look at the URL of any of your blog posts to find out how your blog’s URLs (ie “permalinks”) are structured.

Common permalink patterns

The two most common WordPress permalink patterns are nicknamed “ugly” and “pretty” (click here for more information about permalink structures). There are several other possibilities as well, which is why this filter will be fairly unique to every website.

For the purposes of our All Posts report, the most important elements to have in your permalink are the name of the blog post, and the year and month it was published. If that’s not your situation, get in touch about a function that allows you to grab metadata such as the publication date from the blog post itself.

This filter will include URLs that have year and month, and exclude ones that have the week in them, or other noise data and index pages that aren’t actually blog posts.

Now that we’ve finished that, we can run a report and populate a separate tab of our spreadsheet of raw data called All Posts report.

Here is a Google Spreadsheet template you can use to try this yourself. In Google Sheets you can also make a graph of your data very quickly, e.g., all articles with higher average pageviews than 1.

Average-pageviews-per-month-for-blog-posts

In the Google Sheets template, you’ll see that these two key columns are highlighted: D - Post Age Months, and E - Average Pageviews Per Month

Assuming that your permalink format is the one we talked about, we’ll use this Google spreadsheet formula:

The age of the post in months is calculated with
=(YEAR(TODAY())-MID(B7,2,4))*12+(MONTH(TODAY())-MID(B7,7,2))

This formula extracts and calculates the age of the post in months.

The average pageviews per month formula depends on the age of the posts in months and is:
=if(D2<>0,C2/D2,C2/(D2+1))

So when you’re done, you get these two handy columns of data, and once you’ve filled down the remaining rows, you can sort on the data. Use the menu option Data-->Sort Range-->Data has a header row, and sort by average pageviews in descending order.

Once you do that, your most popular blog posts that are consistently getting traffic every month will float to the top. Now you can see which articles are generating traffic to your site and resonating with your audience consistently, and which ones are not.

The older articles that consistently have a large amount of page views will probably continue to drive traffic to your blog and the rest of your website. People are interested in what you’re talking about; the chart above follows a long tail. The goal is to push more articles to the head of the long tail, thus increasing your overall traffic while resonating with your target audience.

Near the bottom of the report you’ll see the posts that get less than one page view a month on average. The likelihood that anyone will read those articles is low. They may continue to drive traffic to your site, but there is no point is doing anything to promote them.

The Netflix phenomenon

These articles may be well-written and interesting, but they’re just not hitting the mark. In fact, you’ll probably find that if your traffic to the blog follows a long tail, you have a small set of articles that are generating any real traffic, and a large number that are generating none at all.

And it should be obvious by now that as long as you generate more articles you will continue to build traffic, but once you stop it is unlikely traffic to your site will increase. Here’s an automatically updating chart of the traffic to this blog. You’ll notice the marked increase in September 2016 over September 2015 as we continue to write new articles and actively promote the existing popular blog articles in social media and through Google:

NPC traffic sep 2016

Click to see a full image of updated monthly blog traffic.

You can liken this to what happens on Netflix, the popular movie and TV streaming platform, where only a small number of videos out of their huge catalog of content are viewed the most. No one would suggest that Netflix - or you - delete the rest of the content that doesn’t rank, but that you focus on investing your resources - especially if limited - to create and promote popular, high-quality content.

You can’t just rattle 500 words off the top of your head and throw it up on your website with no editing, contemplation, or understanding of your audience. Google Analytics and customized reports like the All Posts spreadsheet give you all the feedback you need about whether you’re going in the right direction with your content or not. Because if you want your overall traffic to increase, your blog traffic must increase. That’s the power of blogging, if you’re doing it right.

09/07/2016

How Effective Use of Analytics Increases Your Traffic - A Scientific Experiment

Small business owners know they should create content, but often produce that content willy-nilly, with no plan in mind. They suspect there is some science behind search engine optimization, but don’t know how to balance that with the artistry of writing.

Why people come to your site

A website generates traffic when its environment changes, i.e. new blog posts are added that people discover and want to read, or new inbound links are created that lead from other sites to yours, such as social media networks, or your referral partner websites (inbound link data is found in your Google Analytics Acquisition reports).

If you stop changing the environment (adding new blog posts, also known as content marketing), your traffic will level off or decline. We saw a stark example of that on our own site.

We blogged at least 1-2 times per month in 2014, and even hired writers to help us formulate our ideas. In 2015 we stopped doing that in favour of timed events to more opportunistic articles (webinars, for example) and while that generated traffic, it never really created the steady traffic that connects with long tail keywords (the highly specific search terms that potential customers actually use). We also didn't get as many inbound links as a result.

Sometimes you can get lucky when there is flurry of new interest in a topic you’ve previously written about, and that can bring new traffic to those posts. However, the best way to get new eyes on old content - whether previously published blog posts or static pages like About, Events or Services - is to add new content such as blog posts. That’s because when people visit your site to read the new content, they’ll most likely also click on other pages.

Likewise, if you stop adding new content to your site, you’ll not only lose the traffic you would have gained to those new pages, but your existing pages won’t get the secondary exposure they would have enjoyed.

Before you can analyze your content’s sustainability and increase your site traffic, you need some baseline information, so the sooner you set up Google Analytics to start collecting data, the better. You want to understand who your audience is and what information they’re searching for.

You may think you know the answer, but the data may surprise you. In Google Analytics you’ll find this information in the Audience and Behaviour reports (if you don’t have Google Analytics set up on your site, follow these steps or get in touch and we can show you how to use this free resource!).

Behaviour reports tell you what people do when they visit your site - the first page they land on, the last page the view before leave leave, and everything they do in between. That also includes the words and phrases they type into your site’s search box, i.e., what content they’re looking for on your website.

You’ll want to look at Behavior reports for your site’s most popular pages and most popular blog posts, so you can compare these results with the data for the new content you’re going to create, and how that new content affects views of your existing pages.

 

The Average Page Views Per Month report - Making Google Analytics work for you

Google Analytics produces an extraordinary amount of data, which can be intimidating. It may look and seem complicated, but it’s simply a set of dimensions and metrics that can be portrayed any way you wish. Here is a full list of what can be measured by Google Analytics.

As Lukas Oldenburg explains on Quora, a metric is usually something you can count, while a dimension is what you are applying the metric to. So for example, the dimension 'Page Title' can be analyzed via the metrics 'Pageviews', 'Unique Pageviews', 'Time on Page', 'Exit Rate' and so on.

If you want to know how effective your content is, I propose that the only relevant analytic is overall traffic trends, and page-level traffic trends. At NewPath Consulting we’ve come up with a report called Average Page Views Per Month, which is a customized dashboard that measures how well your content performs. It harnesses the most relevant content-related data collected by Google Analytics, so businesses can use that data to drive their content decisions.

Here is the formula:

Average Pageviews Per Month = Pageviews Age of Post (in Months)

 

The average pageviews per month tells you the content that has the most consistent views over the longest period of time. You’ll see how a high-quality, evergreen piece of content resonates with your audience over a long period.

To create a piece of quality content that generates traffic takes a lot of deliberation, thought and effort. For example, our team spent two months preparing the content of a recent webinar about how to run your small business with online forms, and another five hours to create, edit and distribute the follow up blog post.

This effort pays off, because creating new content will increase your overall high-quality traffic. Some posts endure and some posts decay. Analytics can help you predict these results and ensure you’re creating the right kind of content.

 

How to set up an Average Page Views Per Month report for your own website

Assuming you have already set up the Google Analytics add-on in your Google Sheets (here are instructions), now you’ll have to configure your report to get the information we’re looking for.

Here are the configuration options (click on the image for full size):

Google Analytics Configuration Options
Google Analytics Add On Configuration Options

Let’s go through each of these fields:

The Profile ID is provided by Google Sheet add on. Your start date should be when you started collecting analytics, and your end date should be the current date (use the =today() Google Sheet function to automatically fill in the end date).

Beyond the reports dashboard, Google Analytics is a data warehouse of all the metrics and dimensions that are collected and summarized all the time. The dictionary of dimensions and metrics are available for easy searching in the handy Dimensions & Metrics Explorer.

The metrics we will select for each blog post are pageviews, unique pageviews, average time on page, entrances, bounce rates, and exit rate.

The dimensions is the page URL (without the domain name), sorted by pageviews in descending order, denoted by the - sign before ga:pageviews.

The next is part is key: to filter out the blog posts from the static pages on your site (such as About, Services, etc.). How do we do this?

Have you ever filled out a form and received an error message such as, “this is not a valid email address,” or “passwords do not match”? Did you ever wonder how the form knew that? The web developers who created these forms used a pattern matching language known as a regular expression (also known as regex).

In order to filter out your website’s static pages and analyze only your blog posts, we’re going to use a regex to configure the filter row of our Google Analytics spreadsheet. If you were to leave this row empty, you would get results from all the pages on your site.

You have to establish a pattern that tells Google Analytics how to identify your blog posts and differentiate between the static pages and blog posts on your site. The blog posts on our website uses a URL pattern of sitename.com/YYYY/MM/blog-postname-html, so our regex filters all page URLs that start with with /YYYY/MM.  You can look at the URL of any of your blog posts to find out how your blog’s permalinks are structured.

You have to establish a pattern that tells Google Analytics how to identify your blog posts and differentiate between the static pages and blog posts on your site. The blog posts on our website use a URL pattern of sitename.com/YYYY/MM/blog-postname-html, so our regex filters all page URLs that start with with /YYYY/MM. You can look at the URL of any of your blog posts to find out how your blog’s permalinks are structured.

You’ll need to experiment. See what results are returned with the set of regular expressions you used, and then tweak them as needed. If you need more help, get in touch!

Now that we’ve created the filter, we want to set up an automatically-generated analysis page that will show you, at a glance, what we’re measuring

Here is our finished report configuration, where you can see the highlighted column showing the average pageviews per month (click for a larger view):

Google Analytics URL Report in Google Sheets 

When you have this kind of history of content and its performance, you can make smarter decisions about what to write more about and what to write less about or not at all.

In next month’s article we will document how to configure and use the Average Pageviews per Month metric and a few other interesting reports we can generate.

01/15/2015

Our first webcast with Mad Mimi

We were honoured to be part of Mad Mimi's regular Wednesday afternoon webcast. If you missed it you can read up and watch the whole interview on the Mad Mimi YouTube channel. Or just check it out below.

 

 

01/05/2015

Using Google Analytics To Create A TypePad Featured Posts Carousel

The Challenge

Post carousels (aka "sliders") are attractive and interactive website features that bring attention to new, popular or valuable content. TypePad recently announced an easy way to create post carousels, without one line of code. So how do you put a post carousel together and how do you decide what posts or pages get displayed in a post carousel?

Why post carousels?

When someone visits a website they usually are either looking for something specific or just browsing. Most visitors start on the home page of a website and this is where most designers place a carousel. The top 10 pages usually make up 90% or more of the traffic on a website, even websites that have thousands of pages. In order to attract visitors to the most popular content or to bring attention to the most recent or to timely posts or pages, a slider is a terrific way to call out certain content an attractive way.

Content is usually somewhat hidden behind navigation menus on the top, left, right or even bottom of  website. On a mobile device such a smartphone or a tablet a carousel also encourages visits to continue after the home page. A slider or carousel is an alternative way to navigate 3-5 pieces of content. It's not only visually attractive but also takes up a good chunk of prime real estate on a website. If you want people to visit pages other than the home page, carousels encourage visits to continue.

Statistics on carousel use are sparse but available (updated for 2018!). You must include compelling content on a carousel that entices visitors to click and get attention in the first place. We suggest keeping the number of post carousel features to a maximum of five, but ideally 3 or 4, as it appears that as the number of features increases, the click-through rates on everything but the first featured post decreases dramatically.

And the subject of the post can make a big difference -- breaking news, announcements or brand new content deserves a feature.  This is why it is critical to mine Google Analytics to identify which posts or pages should be featured. We go over how to do this below in the step-by-step solution.

How to make an effective post carousel?

There are lots of best practices when it comes to post carousels. Having a post carousel with 44 features is probably not a great idea -- they are meant as a way to feature just a few pieces of content. Switching out content and introducing new posts into the carousel is an effective way to manage the carousel.

I'm from Missouri. Show me an example!

The home page of www.resaspieces.org features a TypePad post carousel. It was implemented based on the most popular pages over the past year, collected from Google Analytics. When the organization announces their gala concert ticket and sponsorship sales, that page gets first billing on the post carousel.

And here's the step-by-step solution

Check out the solution below by clicking through the jump. We have screen shots describing designing a post carousel in TypePad with Google Analytics as guidance for which posts to use. The estimated time to completion is about 45-90 minutes once you have developed the content you wish to feature.

Are you interested in more ideas? Subscribe to the NewPath Consulting newsletter or get in touch via email.

Download Using Google Analytics To Create A TypePad Featured Posts Carousel (10 pages) in PDF Format

Continue reading "Using Google Analytics To Create A TypePad Featured Posts Carousel" »

11/24/2014

Introducing Content Marketing

15 Smart, Fast and Inexpensive Ways to Help You Find and Retain Customers

Content marketing:

  1. reaches your clients through the mediums they love: text, audio, video.

  2. is delivered through a variety of formats: blogs, ebooks, newsletters, podcasts, videos, infographics.

  3. helps your message become valuable to your audience. You create content that helps customers with their concerns, challenges, questions, needs.

  4. acknowledges the fact that customers are becoming better informed when buying products, and empowering them to make informed choices.

  5. takes advantage of the fact that nearly 60% of the purchasing decision is made before their first interaction with a salesperson, thanks to the ocean of information on Internet.

  6. establishes your business and yourself as a trusted, credible authority in the marketplace.

  7. improves your marketing even if you don’t have the money for advertising.

  8. makes it easy for your audience to remember your brand for a long time.

  9. builds your own media channels so that you don’t have to rely on existing often expensive existing channels (eg Google ads).

  10. communicates to your audience at different awareness levels: most-aware, product-aware, solution-aware, problem-aware, completely-unaware.

  11. is critical in our online, social, mobile world where customers make decisions based on the content they consume and share.

  12. is becoming crucial to stay competitive in business, whether online or offline.

  13. can benefit businesses in all industries and of all sizes.

  14. helps your website get better visibility on search engines.

  15. is a great way you build your brand online.

Content Marketing: What benefits can you expect, really?

Content marketing is a new way of marketing. Thousands of businesses live by its core values of utility, entertainment, timeliness and relevancy. When businesses market with content by adhering to these core values, their ability to exercise the following business goals increases significantly.

  1. Generate more, targeted and quantifiably better prospects (leads)

  2. Shorten the sales cycle

  3. Talk to prospects in various buying stages more effectively

  4. Keep selling 24/7 as prospects search for your solutions and services

  5. Dominate your marketplace by becoming a better expert than your competitors

  6. Show your audience that you care about their needs

  7. Build your own media channel (print, audio, video) and cut your advertising costs

  8. Create a brand loyalty with customers so that they refer others to you

Content marketing educates your audience. It provides a wealth of information they need to know, when they need to know it. It helps them become a best version of themselves. It gets published in formats they love. It positions you as a valuable and friendly business – worthy of your customers’ money.

Let’s look at the various aspects of content marketing and the benefits that come along with it.

Like I said, content marketing is at its core all about providing value and enriching the life your audience. You teach your customer about the various aspects of evaluating, buying, using, maintaining, even recycling your products and services. You educate them without holding anything back – and you come out ahead of your competition. And this will…

generate more, targeted, better prospects for you.

The traditional sales process looks something like this:

Your well-written and relevant content has already answered prospects’ concerns and helped them decide whether your solution could help them: for example, the options, the price, details about alternatives, case studies, etc. When they contact you they will not have as many concerns. You have put your best version forward. This

shortens your sales cycle.

(According to a study by Google and CEB, customers reported to being nearly 60 percent through the sales process before engaging a sales rep, regardless of price point.)

Prospects usually arrive at different stages of buying, usually much further down the sales process. Their questions at each stage needs to be answered persuasively so that they move to the next stage. The format in which the answers are provided also varies with the stage - articles, testimonials, FAQs, white papers, demos, case studies, analyst reports, data sheets, pricing guides and so on. Content marketing can help you do all of this so that you

talk to buyers in different stages of buying effectively.

All of your best arguments for your product, comprehensive information, buyer testimonials, case studies are online. They generate the website traffic for you and qualify your prospects for you. When prospects search on Google, if you answer questions and insights through content, your prospects should be directed to you. It’s like having your best salesman on the job who

keeps selling automatically 24/7.

Because you provide entertaining, useful, relevant and engaging content regularly, your audience follows you all the time. They don’t want to miss anything. They share your best stuff to their friends, family, colleagues. They talk about you when they meet. You become part of their thought process, front of mind - both online and offline. All of this allows you to

dominate your marketplace and be better than your competitors.

Why are you doing all this? For just money and fame? I doubt it. Not everyone can do what you do on a daily basis, generating high quality content that enriches the life of your audience. It takes a big heart and talent to do it consistently. You’re able to do it because you want to…

show you care about your audience.

By building a loyal audience who cheers for you – with their insightful comments, encouragement, ideas, valuable advice – you’ve created something no money can buy: a strong community. This community lives in YouTube, subscribes to your podcasts, visits and shares your website, forwards your newsletters. Offer useful products and services to your community and they’ll grab them in the blink of an eye. Ka-ching! You’ve done something that was impossible 10 years ago:

build your own media channels and cut your advertising costs.

As you put out content for your audience and interact with them, you’ll become keenly aware of their desires, perceptions, concerns and limitations. You move your brand closer to them. In time, you’d have

created a thriving brand that your audience just can’t live without.

Please think about the possibilities with content marketing. Get started with content marketing today. It is a proven brand-builder and money-maker. If you have a question or two, feel free to send it to us. We’ll get back to you in no time. After all, you’ve just experienced content marketing. Isn’t it great? 

The Five Most Important Content Marketing Methods, With Examples

Examples make it easier to quickly grasp a new method or an idea. We have collected several case studies of small businesses who have used content marketing successfully. They had initiative, they took the effort and got amazing results. We hope their stories inspire you to greater success.

There are about a dozen popular ways you can do content marketing. Among those, five methods stand above the rest in terms of effectiveness and ubiquity. They are social media, article/blog marketing, email newsletters, blogs and videos.

Let’s see how a small business succeeded with each of these.

How Plaza Automotive Center Boosted Its Website Traffic by 91% With a Short Article Marketing Campaign

Based in San Pedro, California, Plaza Automotive Center is a comprehensive auto repair and service center.

They aspired for more local web traffic, leads and a strong web presence. They used article marketing, one our five effective content marketing approaches for this.

Their copywriting agency launched a article marketing campaign with nine articles; three for each of their main service offerings.

This got them to the first page of Google for every auto repair and service in the city in which operates. The campaign increased the total number of website visitors by 91%. Their website got to the first page of Google search results for five pages which didn’t show up at all and increased page views by 83%.

Sweetgreen Restaurants Channels Social Media

Sweetgreen Restaurants offers salads, vegetarian and gluten-free food. This small regional chain enjoys a strong online presence owing to their smart approach to social media. They tapped into the power of trending hashtags on social media like #behindthegreens and #farmtotable to bring attention to their own content. This approach has yielded them 26,000 Facebook fans, in addition to over 17,000 followers on Twitter and 40,000 followers on Instagram.

Yale Appliance and Lighting Glows With Blogging

Yale Appliance and Lighting in Boston has taken to blogging quite well recently. With a focused and dedicated blogging strategy, Steve Sheinkopf answers questions customers regularly ask and indirectly helping them take informed purchase decisions. This has reduced in-person selling time as customers come to the showroom after making most of their product research online. This approach has been working for Yale quite well. They have boosted their online sales by 40% since 2009, and tripled their web traffic over the past year.  

On a Tight Budget? Let’s Danny’s Success Guide You

Danny’s Meats, a Rancin-based local business, wanted to develop their business, but did not have money to pay for traditional advertising: TV, print, radio. What would you do?

Danny’s Meats turned to email marketing, attracted by its affordability and effectiveness. To attract new and old customers, the company offered a free steak on their birthday if they signed up for the newsletter. Email marketing is an  effective tool to automatically bring back inactive customers and be top of the mind on regular customers. Danny’s simple email marketing strategy bagged them 2,400 new subscribers in 6 months, while increasing sales by 15%.

Lauren Beats Her Goliath With Self-made Videos

Lauren Luke used to sell make-up products on eBay. This was her side income to supplement her day job as a taxi dispatcher. Lauren wanted to boost sales, so she started recording original make-up application videos and posted them on YouTube. This has brought her unimagined success to her that now she her own brand of make-up products. She has an enviable following on Youtube with more than 560,000 people, larger even than the make-up giant Estee Lauder.

Let’s wrap up this article with some key takeaways. The 2014 B2B Content Marketing and 2014 B2C Content Marketing surveys by the Content Marketing Institute give us the following findings:

  • 94% of B2B small business marketers use content marketing

  • B2C marketers have rated many tactics higher in effectiveness this year; in-person events and email newsletters top the list of effective tactics.

  • 90% of B2C marketers use content marketing

  • Top 5 methods both B2B and B2B small businesses use in their content marketing: social media (other than blogs), articles on your website, email newsletters, blogs, videos

  • Top organization goals with content marketing: brand awareness (for both B2B and B2C), customer acquisition (for both B2B and B2C), customer retention / loyalty (B2C), lead generation (B2B)

We hope this inspires you to take your business to the next level with content marketing.

Please comment or contact us directly if you have any question on implementing a content marketing program in your organization.