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Tracking Social Media Campaigns in Google Analytics

Measuring social campaignsBeing active in social media as a business isn’t just about having a flashy profile and driving up the number of followers you have. It’s about making money. Sure, there may be other goals, but ultimately, businesses do things to make more money. It’s known that you can do that on any social media account, but how do you track your progress? Check out our tips for tracking social media campaigns using Google Analytics.

 

URL Tagging Your Campaign

 

You can always see referral traffic from social media websites in your Analytics reports, but you won’t be able to determine what links traffic came from. For instance, you may share links to blog posts on Facebook every week, and you may see traffic from Facebook in your reports, but you have no way of knowing which links (blog posts) generated more interest in your website. The same is true if you share links to pages on your website that contain special offers or any other links that you share leading to your website.

URL tagging works by allowing you to assign parameters to URLs from your website resulting in a new URL to use for your campaign. When visits occur as a result of that URL, the parameters that you define show up in reports and are much easier to track to conversions. Note that you must have Google Analytics installed on your site in order to utilize URL tagging.

Google provides a URL builder that makes it easy to insert parameters into your URLs. You can find it here.

You must enter values for at least the campaign source, medium and name. Keep in mind that these can be anything that you want them to be, but use values that will be both descriptive and easily recognizable in reports later on when you are analyzing data.

Google URL Builder

 

Setting up Goals and Events

Viewing goals in Google Analytics reports screenshot

 

Instead of tagging URLs, you can use goals and campaign-specific landing pages to track social media marketing success. Once you get people to your site, you have to set up a way to track what they are doing. In Google Analytics, you can see referrals and visitors if you have the tracking code installed; however, when you are tracking specific campaigns, you need a way to filter out the data you don’t need.

Goals

You can track both pageviews and events using goals in analytics. It used to be that events were not a feature of goals and had to be tracked separately.  Now that they are, there is no need to look at different reports to find out if visitors took a specific action on your website. 

We’ve covered setting up goals before, so we won’t do it here, but there are a variety of benefits to tracking your campaigns in this manner. You can learn about setting up event tracking here.

  • Only data related to your campaign is aggregated in a report
  • You can specify rules for your goals so that visitors who come in through some other path are not counted
  • You can make a URL destination a goal or something that doesn’t generate a pageview, like a video playing or the click-on-a-button that goes to an external shopping cart
  • You can easily determine the ROI of a campaign using goals

That last point is possibly the most important. You can make the confirmation page of a product purchase, a service signup, a quote generated or a button-clicked the trigger for your goal. You then know without a doubt that someone who clicked on a link you shared on Facebook, landed on the page that begins your conversion funnel, and eventually made it through the process to buy.

Social Sources

Social SourcesSocial traffic sources reports in Google Analytics shows you data related to the social web and how it impacts your website. Here you can view a broader picture of how social networks are contributing to your overall website traffic.

For example, you can see what networks are already sending you a lot of traffic, which ones assisted or directly contributed to conversions, what landing pages received the most referral traffic from social websites and a lot of other data.

Using these reports, you can see which networks are of high value to your business. Perhaps there is a network you weren’t active on before that is sending you a lot of traffic. Maybe you see that out of all the networks you are active on, only a couple of them bring any real value to your business.

You can view social sources reports under traffic sources -> social.

It’s super easy to track social campaigns using Google Analytics. You can either tag URLs so that you can easily see how traffic is being referred and where it is going on your website, or you can set up goals. Tracking social campaigns is the first step to determining the ROI of your social efforts.

What methods do you use to track social media campaigns? Let us know by dropping a line or leaving a comment below.

 

Essential Advice on Naming Your Blog

When you start a blog, you’ve got to start from the top. If you’ve been following along with our series so far, you already have a great roadmap for where you should be going.Naming Your Blog Blocks But like the journey of a thousand miles, this one starts with one step. Before you can get your blog up and running, you’ve got to start by naming your blog.

While it’s lovely to think that your blog is going to be judged solely by its content, reality dictates that your title is going to be just as important. The average Internet user takes less than a twentieth of a second to figure out whether or not the content is relevant to his or her needs – that’s just enough time for your title to be read. If you can’t master that first .2 seconds, you might as well hang up your blog. Fortunately, you can follow a few basic tips to get yourself on the right track.

 

What’s in a Name?

 

Before we get into the actual process of constructing a name, let’s take a moment to look at what the professionals have already done. Below is a chart of Technorati’s top five blogs.

Title
Address
Content

The Huffington Post
www.huffingtonpost.com
Politics
Buzzfeed
www.buzzfeed.com
Entertainment
Business Insider
www.businessinsider.com
Business
Mashable
www.mashable.com
Entertainment
The Verge
www.theverge.com
Entertainment

If we take a moment, we can learn quite a bit about blog naming from these five blogs. First and foremost, we can easily see that all five blogs share their names with their domain name – that means that customers don’t have to remember anything but the name of the blog to get to the site. We can also notice that the names are relatively short. While it might seem clever to name your blog after a famous quote, you should notice that the vast majority of the top 100 sites have a name that is two words or less – and even then, every blog in the top thirty matches its domain name with its title.

So we know that a name has to be short and sweet, and we know that it is going to match its domain name. What else can we glean from the list above? Pay attention to how those blogs are named – each one carefully matches its content. Huffington Post and Business Insider have serious, respectable names – perfectly fitting the political and business worlds. Buzzfeed, Mashable and The Verge, on the other hand, are quick, irreverent and catchy. This helps users to know that the site’s entertainment coverage is going to be slightly edgy and fun, just like the site’s name.

 

Do Your HomeworkDo Your Homework

 

Once you have the building blocks of what you should name your blog set, you have to figure out what you can name your blog. The top three blog hosts in the world currently report a combined total of about two-hundred and fifty MILLION blogs. That’s quite a few titles that are already in use, even taking into account that many of those blogs are in languages other than English. Fortunately, there’s still plenty of hope for left for those searching for a blog’s name.

Before you buy a domain name, do a quick search for the name you want. While the odds slightly favor those who are looking for a domain name that matches the name of a business, you might be surprised by the sheer number of empty websites out there. If your name is already taken, don’t despair – just get creative.

A good path to naming might be something like this:

  1. Decide on your content.
  2. Choose a name (short and relevant to your content).
  3. Check to see if the domain name is already taken.
    1. If it isn’t taken, relax.
    2. If it is taken, look for close alternatives – AllAboutDogs.com instead of DogFacts.com, for example. Make sure any choice sticks to rule 2, though.
  4. Buy the relevant domain name.

Always try to remember that process of naming your blog really is important. It is far better to come up with a name that works now than to change it in the future – especially if you manage to gather a following. Take a few deep breaths, jot down a few ideas and start searching to see if any of the relevant domain names are still open. If you do the legwork, you can come up with a great name that is not already taken. Once you’re done naming your blog, you’ll be ready for the next step – getting the blog hosted.

 

Do you have any other ideas about naming your blog? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below or dropping us a line. We’d love to hear from you!

Is Now The Right Time to Hire Content Writers?

The Internet is like an engine that is fueled by content.an engine that is fueled by content Without new content, people would lose interest in their favorite blogs and news sites, web marketers would be largely out of work and whole industries would collapse. Fortunately, new content will always be created, even though keeping up with the content demands of the Internet can seem impossible, at times. That’s why it’s important for businesses and individuals who depend on the web to hire content writers.

Generally speaking, you’ll find that there are two groups of people who need to hire content writers.

  1. Professionals and business owners who want to promote themselves online, but might not be skilled at producing high-quality written content
  2. Internet marketers and SEO professionals who need more written content than they could possibly produce themselves

 

Why Should Professionals Hire Content Writers?

 

Let’s say you’re a dentist with a modest practice in a mid sized city. Perhaps you’ve been practicing dentistry for about a decade, and you have a solid roster of patients who trust you and the services you provide. However, you feel like you’re losing ground to other dentists who use the Internet as a tool to attract new business.Why Should Professionals Hire Content Writers?

You might be able to carve out some time to post to a blog on occasion, and you might be able to promote your practice somewhat effectively through social media. Unfortunately, there are some problems with this scenario:

  • You’re an excellent dentist, but you’re not a skilled writer
  • When somebody mentions Search Engine Optimization, or “SEO,” it sounds like Klingon to you
  • You simply don’t have the time to update your website or blog with new content on a regular basis

If you’re a professional who can relate to this scenario, it’s probably a good time to hire content writers. Depending upon the quality of the writing you require and the amount of content that you need, you could farm out your content-creation for less than $200 per month. Obviously, you’ll need to budget for more money if you require dozens of blog posts each month that are written at the highest standards of quality, but the investment for good, solid content that can keep a blog or website current is quite minimal, especially when compared with other costs of doing business.

Most importantly, professional content writers are able to deliver content that is search-engine optimized. This means that the content targets specially-chosen key words and phrases with the goal of making your blog or website one of the top search-engine results. SEO is what will make you stand out when people search for a new dentist in your city, or if they are looking for a professional who can perform a certain procedure. If you’re a professional who takes his or her work seriously, you probably don’t have a lot of time to learn about SEO as you polish your writing skills. Instead, it’s much easier and cost-effective to hire writers to do the job.

 

Why Should Marketers Hire Content Writers?

 

Why Should Marketers Hire Content Writers?When it comes to Internet marketing, Google is God. The company is more than just a search engine; it defines what is popular on the web, and it serves as a sort of clearinghouse for every piece of information that can be found online. If you’re an Internet marketer and you want to experience success, you need to know how to please Google with your content, and you also have to produce enough of it for the search giant to take notice.

Content marketing is a great way to earn income from the Internet, but Google has made it next to impossible for some marketers to use their bags of SEO tricks. Sure, there are some best practices that have been shown to improve search results, but quality content has become the most important factor when it comes to being an authority in the eyes of Google.

By hiring content writers, marketers can ensure that they have access to high-quality, well-written content at all times. Even those marketers who are especially skilled at writing will find value in hiring content writers because they can increase their output significantly, and for a very small investment.

 

How to Find Content Writers to Hire

 

Now that you’ve decided that it’s time to hire content writers, you have some options when it comes to securing their services. You can always post a classified ad in the newspaper or roll the dice with Craigslist. Others have suggested hitting up college campuses for talented writers who will work on the cheap.

How to Find Content Writers to HireYour best bet is to hire content writers through an agency. Here’s why:

  • Agency writers are held to solid editorial standards
  • Hiring writers through an agency allows you to use many different “voices”
  • Agencies provide incredibly quick turnaround times
  • Agency support personnel can connect you with the perfect writers for special projects (eBooks, press releases, product reviews, etc.)
  • The costs associated with using a content agency are dwarfed by the associated benefits

 

How Will You Satisfy Your Content-Creation Needs?

 

Now that you’ve decided to employ other writers to help you with your content-creation needs, it’s up to you to determine how you move forward. Hiring content writers can save you time and money, plus they can ensure that your content is optimized for to be favored by Google’s super-secret search algorithm.

Whether you decide to find a local individual to help you, or you choose to use the services of an agency, there’s no doubt that posting high-quality content more regularly on the Internet will help you reach your goals.

 

Have you had experiences hiring content writers? What have you learned from the process? Let us know what you think by joining the conversation below.

How to Boost Your Visitors’ Time on Site

If you’re in the SEO business, the biggest key to your success is impressing Google. There are many ways to do this, and most of them are probably deeply ingrained into your psyche and your workflow after years of studying page rankings and other data. However, time on site is a metric that many SEO professionals fail to consider. That’s why I’d like to show you some tips that will help you create pages that are “sticky” enough to keep people from clicking elsewhere.

Why is Time On Site So Important?

  • Google sees your site as an authoritative resource if you have higher-than-average time-on-site numbers. Accordingly, your overall ranking will rise if you can improve this number
  • High-quality websites are habit-forming, and people keep coming back to sites where they know they can find useful, engaging content. Just look at Facebook, which destroys all of its competition when it comes to average time on site
  • Time on site simply leads to a greater conversion rate, and that’s what this is all about, right?

Here are four tips that can help you improve your time-on-site stats and watch your pages rise in the eyes of the Google algorithm:

  1. Post a VideoAdd a Video

    Video content rules the Internet, especially when it’s really good video content. Also, the reality of web surfing is that people will give more of their attention to a video clip than they will to a paragraph of written content. When two to three minutes is considered to be a great time-on-site number, a two- to three-minute video can boost your rankings considerably. There is some disagreement among experts when it comes to the proper placement of video content on a page, but most of them agree that it should be at or near the top. Remember not to bore your readers, though – a great two-minute video with its best points made early will keep people glued to your page.

  2. Add Internal Links

    Once you’ve got a visitor on your site, you need to keep them there with more relevant information and content. Otherwise, they will probably leave your page and go back to the Google search bar to find what they’re looking for. Wouldn’t you rather click on a link within a website rather than perform a new search? Adding internal links helps with time-on-site stats because people tend to open links in new tabs or windows, which gives your rankings a super boost in the eyes of Google.

  3. Point Readers to Related Articles

    Once a reader has finished engaging with the content on one of your site’s pages, they might be hungry for more information. That’s why you should offer links to related articles at the bottom of your piece. Doing so gives a great benefit to your readers because it gives them more great content options for information that they’ve searched for. Obviously, this can increase time on site, but it also shows that you’re an authority who can provide multiple pieces of useful content on a given subject. What’s more, people often scroll to the bottom of an article or postings before reading, which means that you can really impress them with some relevant, related links.

  4. Improve Your Loading TimesTime on site 1

    If a website isn’t giving you what you want seconds after you’ve clicked on its link, you know that it only takes a moment to search elsewhere. If your site is slow, it doesn’t matter if you’ve got the world’s most informative content; people just don’t have the patience to sit through an excruciatingly long (by modern standards) load time. Work with your webmaster to ensure that your site is optimized properly for quick loading of your excellent content.

There are many other factors that can influence time on site. Great content is essential, of course, and an engaging design will always entice visitors to stay a little longer. However, if you implement these four tips, you will almost certainly see your time-on-site numbers improve as you inspect your Google Analytics reports.

How do you keep visitors on your website? Do you have any other tips to improve time on site? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

How to Create the Ultimate Social Media Editorial Calendar

Social media marketing is overwhelming. Unfortunately, that’s no excuse for a poorly executed strategy. These days, businesses can’t afford to randomly fire off tweets and Facebook posts with the hope that something will stick. You need a social media editorial calendar that’s not only going to keep you focused, but that’s also going to help you maximize your social media investment. Follow along as we explain how to develop a calendar designed to meet your business needs.

The Basic StructureSocial Media Editorial Calendar

While every social media editorial calendar has a slightly different structure, there are common elements you’ll find in each of them. When developing yours, consider adding row or column headings for the following:

  • The day or date on which you intend to update your feeds, post content to your business blog, or engage in forum activity. Depending on the intensity of your strategy, you may even want to break down your calendar hour by hour.
  • The category or theme you want to follow for a particular day, week, or month. Creating and curating content based on a topic can make social media marketing easy for you and your team.
  • Profile updates. Many business owners forget they need to maintain their social properties when things change. If you plan to move premises, add new products or services to your offering, or change your phone number, you’ll want to ensure you take time to update your profile information to reflect those new details.
  • The social media platforms you use to market your business and communicate with your followers. Whether you communicate through one platform or many, it’s important to create an editorial calendar that keeps you focused and on track to achieving your company’s goals. Keep in mind that if you engage your target audience on industry-related forums, you can add them to your calendar and schedule time for interaction.
  • The responsibilities of each social media team member. When you have more than one person managing various areas of your strategy or campaigns, you should outline the profiles or updates for which they are responsible.
  • The important reminders you want your team to take note of during the calendar period. These can include things like campaign launches and promotions.

Types of Content to Include

Social Media Editorial Calendar LegendThere’s almost no limit to the type of content you can share via social media platforms, which means you can keep your feeds fresh and interesting for higher engagement levels. Common content examples include blog posts, videos, news articles, polls, tutorials, questions, infographics, promotional materials, repurposed content, quotes, podcasts, reviews, and images. Consider using a color-coded legend to ensure you post a good range of material across the day, week, and month.

Tips for Filling in Your Calendar

Tip 1: Keep your marketing goals in mind. Social Media Editorial SchedulingThe objectives you outlined when developing your social media strategy should drive the amount of content you share and the time you take to interact with your audience on each platform.

Tip 2: Pay attention to optimal posting times. If you’re tracking your social campaigns properly, you should be able to pinpoint the best times to update your networks for maximum engagement. When filling in your calendar, make a note of those times next to each planned update.

Tip 3: Integrate social media with your other marketing activities. Your social media platforms should support your other promotional initiatives. Therefore, you should construct relevant snippets that can be scheduled for release at appropriate times via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and any other platform you leverage.

Tip 4: Don’t forget your keywords and buyer personas. Integrating your search marketing strategy into your social media efforts will boost discoverability, while a customer-focused message will ensure you appeal to your ideal buyer. If you like, you can add additional rows to outline the keywords and buyer personas you’re focusing on at any given time.

Tip 5: Keep it simple. A social media editorial calendar can become complex and confusing very quickly. This is especially true if you’re posting multiple times per platform each day. Make sure your entries are concise and that your calendar is well-organized.

Tip 6: Be consistent. If you’re a one-person operation, you may want to take a break every now and then. While there’s no problem with that, you shouldn’t leave huge gaps in your communications. The great thing is there are plenty of social media management tools you can use to schedule posts weeks in advance. These tools can automatically distribute your content when you decide to go off the grid for a few days.

Ultimately, the most effective social media editorial calendar is going to keep you and your team accountable and consistent. It’s going to help you maintain an ongoing stream of interesting and enticing content designed to achieve your overall business objectives. Create your calendar today and start planning for success.

 

Have you created a social media editorial calendar for your business? Share your tips, struggles, and successes with us. If you have a question, feel free to pop it in the comment section below…

How to Publish on NOOK Press: A 5 Step Guide for Indie Authors

In early April, Barnes & Noble announced the launch of NOOK Press, a self-publishing platform created to replace PubIt! How to Publish with NOOK PressThis new channel promises enhanced functionality with content and collaboration tools designed to improve the eBook creation and publishing process.

If you’re a new Indie author who wants to distribute eBooks through B&N, this easy-to-follow post will show you how to self-publish on NOOK Press in five simple steps.

Before you get started, it’s important to note:

  • NOOK Press is not available to publishers based outside of the U.S. You’ll need a U.S. Tax ID and bank account connected to a U.S. address if you plan to sell through B&N.
  • There is no exclusivity clause, which means you can publish your titles elsewhere.

Step 1: Create a NOOK Press Account

Before you can start your self-publishing journey with Barnes & Noble, you’ll need to sign up for a NOOK Press account.

Navigate your way to the NOOK Press home page, click the “Get Started Now” button, and then fill in the relevant fields. If you’re a B&N member already, you can sign in using the email address and password of your existing account. Make sure you read and agree to their Terms and Conditions for self-publishers before you click the “Create an Account” button.

Step 2: Upload Your ManuscriptNOOK Press Manuscript

Once you’re logged in, you’ll notice you have two options under the “Projects” tab: upload a file or start writing. Click the “Upload Manuscript File” link, choose the correct document on your computer, and then click “Create Project.” Depending on the size of your file, it may take a while to upload.

Step 3: Fill in Your eBook’s Details

After completing step 2, you’ll gain access to a panel of tabs on the left-hand side of your screen. You can use these tabs to perform a variety of tasks including editing your manuscript, uploading a cover image, and adding your eBook’s details.

Here’s an overview:

Manuscript Tab: In this tab, you can preview your eBook, invite collaborators to work with you on your project, replace your manuscript with another version, and access the Manuscript Editor. The editing tool is a fantastic option for authors and publishers who want to use NOOK Press’s features to format an eBook correctly. Besides basic formatting functions, the tool allows you to create a clickable table of contents, include comments for collaborators, add front matter to your eBook, and arrange or change your chapters.

Cover Image Tab: Here, you have the opportunity to add a striking cover image that entices buyers. While this image will display on the product page of your eBook, you’ll also have the option to include it in the front of your manuscript. Once you upload the file, you can crop it for a better fit, if necessary.

NOOK Book Details Tab: This tab has several subcategories, including:

  • Title & Description – Add your eBook’s title, publisher, contributor, description, and author information. You can also add an ISBN if you have one.
  • Categories – In this section, you’ll select your book’s primary and secondary categories, add relevant keywords to help potential readers find your book, include details about the audience your content suits, and choose the book’s language.
  • Rights & Pricing – Here, you’ll state whether you hold worldwide sales rights or can only sell in the U.S. You’ll also include pricing information and opt into DRM if you so choose. When you add the price of your eBook, the system will automatically calculate your estimated royalty payout for the book.
  • Other Information – Under this tab, you can state whether your book is public domain, part of a series, or available in print.
  • Editorial Reviews – Many buyers base their purchasing decisions on the information they find in reviews, so you’ll want to add them here if you have any.

As you work through each of these subcategories, you’ll need to click the “Save” or “Save & Next” button at the top of the page. A green circle with a white check will display next to each tab as you complete the relevant forms.

Step 4: Set Up a Vendor Account

Nook Press Vendor Account Approval

NOOK Press won’t publish your eBook until you create an approved vendor account. At the top of your page, you’ll see a notice to this effect along with a link. You can click the relevant link, or you can click the down arrow next to your name and select “Vendor Account” from the menu.

Again, you’ll need to use the relevant tabs on the left-hand side of your page to fill in your contact, publisher, payment, and tax information. NOOK Press will then send you a welcome message via email. Once B&N approves your account, your Vendor Account page will show as being active and you’ll receive a confirmation email to the same effect. This may take a day or two, so you’ll need to be patient as you wait.

Step 5: Publish Your Book

If you’re not logged in to your NOOK Press account, log in and navigate your way to the “Projects” tab where you can see a list of your projects. Under the “Publish Actions” column, click the “Publish” link next to your eBook. There will then be a 24–72 hour waiting period before your book is available via B&N’s online store.

Congratulations! You’re now a NOOK Press self-published author!

Use your NOOK Press account to manage your projects, update your profile, and view your sales numbers. If you’d prefer to send your book to multiple distributors, then consider self-publishing your eBook through Smashwords. You’ll only need to sign up once, and they’ll automatically send your book to B&N if it qualifies for the Smashwords Premium Catalog.

Do you have questions about the NOOK Press self-publishing platform? Drop us a line below. If you find this post helpful, consider sharing it with Indie authors like yourself.

HubSpot vs Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a sweet platform and I often forget that there are a lot of other tracking programs out there. Recently, I was given the chance to check out what HubSpot has to offer, and I was pleasantly surprised at some of the strengths it has over Google.

HubSpot vs Google Analytics

To be fair and avoid comparing apples to oranges, HubSpot’s product is a paid solution (where Google’s is free), and they have a much different objective for their customers. Some features can be compared, but others can’t because Google simply isn’t marketing their tool to perform the same kinds of tasks. For example, HubSpot provides a lot of tools to help marketers accomplish conversions and engagement, whereas Google Analytics does not have those features. Ecommerce features in HubSpot focus on managing contact lists and gathering data on contacts that sign up through forms. Google does not have these features; however, they don’t market the tool as being able to perform these tasks.

With that out of the way, both platforms do offer website tracking features. Here are some of the things that I noticed:

The first thing that strikes me with the HubSpot interface is the focus on accomplishing end goals. Data is displayed in a way that gives marketers an idea of how the activity on their website is helping them accomplish their marketing goals. With Google Analytics, the data is sort of just, well, there. It’s up  to the user to interpret it or to apply it to a business goal.

Case in Point…

The Conversion Assists Report in HubSpot Analytics

HubSpot has the conversion assists report, which shows you which pages assisted in creating a conversion. This is set up by default, and requires no configuration on the user’s part. This is also a common metric that business owners want to see. We want to know which pages caused people to buy our products or sign up for something.

Hubspot Google Analytics

In Google Analytics, you can see this information, too, but you have to configure goals or just dig through reports to see the visitors flow through the website. That latter strategy is almost impossible, sometimes. At any rate, it requires a lot of extra effort.

A Friendlier Interface

The HubSpot interface is a little easier to digest than Google’s. If you aren’t a heavy Analytics user like me, reports in Google’s program can be a bit dizzying. There are a lot of numbers and graphs and fewer images and buttons.

If you look at the sources report, for example, in HubSpot, it’s very clean and dumbed down a little compared with the information in Google Analytics. All of the navigation is up and out of the way at the top of the screen so you don’t get confused. Color-coded icons make the different sources easy to remember, and overall, there is just not too much going on. The export feature is super easy to find (hello big, blue button!), and the chart is also much more appealing.

Hubspot Analytics

Conversely, the Google Analytics report is very busy. On the plus side, there are far more metrics related to traffic, but from a usability standpoint, it is easy to lose yourself. Google Analytics, however, has far more options for tracking; they include filtering in reports, adding secondary metrics, advanced segments, and the ability to compare current and past data. In a nutshell, the data is harder to interpret in Google Analytics, but far more comprehensive.

Google Analytics Source report

Competitors Report

A notable feature in HubSpot reports is the competitor analysis. It allows users to enter in names and other information on competitors, and then generates useful information about them. For instance, you can see SEO-related information like number of indexed pages, how many domains are linked to them and their number of social media followers — all features not available in Google Analytics.

Page Performance – SEO Reports

Analytics gives some SEO-related reports; however, there are some caveats to this. In the sources reports in Analytics, you can view keywords that people are using to find your pages, but default metrics are related to time on site, bounce rate, pages per visit and other basic metrics.

HubSpot, however, has some pretty cool SEO reports. In the Page Performance reports, you can click on metrics related to keywords and find average search volume, on-page SEO ratings, number of inbound links and average rank in SERPs. There is a cool tutorial from Justin Cutroni on how to install custom code to learn the average rank of your pages in SERPs, but it takes a level of technical knowledge to install and interpret.

There is obviously much more to each of these platforms. Some features can’t really be compared from an overall perspective. Google Analytics is highly scalable and flexible with tons of documentation for adding functionality to tracking. HubSpot is geared toward measuring marketing activities related to promoting a website through content and engagement (which Analytics isn’t). I guess if you had to make a decision about how to track your website and you were interested in HubSpot, I would use both. The HubSpot platform gives you much more comprehensive and easy-to-read information related directly to content marketing. The data is also presented in a much more refined way.

In terms of reporting on visitor behavior, Google has HubSpot beat hands-down. They simply provide a very detailed level of information and many opportunities to manipulate data to find out what you need to know. The data from Hubspot is somewhat limited, and what you see is pretty much what you get. Analytics aside, if you are serious about tracking your social media and content initiatives, HubSpot is the way to go.

Have you ever used HubSpot or Google Analytics? What are the strengths you have found in one over the other? Let us know by dropping a line or leaving a comment below.

How to Publish On Amazon Kindle

Last week, we provided a step-by-step guide to self-publishing on Smashwords. This week, we look at industry giant Amazon and the company’s wildly popular Kindle Direct Publishing platform.

Whether you’re a newbie author with an eBook that’s ready for public consumption, or a publisher who simply hasn’t used KDP before, this guide will show you how to publish on Amazon Kindle the right way.

Step 1: Prepare your eBook for Publishing

As with most publishing and distribution platforms, you’ll need to ensure your book meets Kindle’s publishing criteria. Thankfully, Amazon makes it easy on self-publishers by providing a variety of tools and resources to build, preview, and convert an eBook document prior to its upload.

Right now, Amazon accepts eBooks in Word, ePub, PDF, Plain Text, HTML, and Rich Text format. You can use the company’s Simplified Formatting Guide to ensure the presentation of your book is top-notch. Following their guidelines right from the start will save you plenty of hassle in the future.

Step 2: Create a Kindle Direct Publishing Account

Amazon Kindle Sign Up

When your eBook is ready for publishing, navigate your way over to the Kindle Direct Publishing home page and sign up for a new account. If you’re an Amazon.com member already, you can sign in with your current username and password.

It is crucial to read and agree to the KDP Terms and Conditions before you choose Amazon.com as your distribution channel. While wading your way through the legalese may seem like a daunting task, you shouldn’t let it scare you off self-publishing through their platform.

Step 3: Update Your Account Information

Before you can publish a book, Amazon requires you to complete your account information. In the top right-hand corner of your dashboard, you’ll see a warning sign to that effect, along with an “Update Now” link. Click on the link to access the correct form and then fill in your publisher, tax, and payment details. It’s important to note that EFT payments are only available to authors in certain countries, so you’ll need to check whether it’s an option for you. If it’s not, Amazon will simply send a royalty check to the address you provide.

For future reference, you can find your publisher code under the FAQs box on the right-hand side of the page. Make certain your details are accurate and then click the “Save” button. When you’re ready to add your new title, hit the “Bookshelf” tab at the top of the page.

Step 4: Decide if You’ll Opt for KDP Select

Amazon KDP SelectThe most important decision you’ll make after you choose Amazon.com as your distributor is whether you’re going to enroll your title in the company’s KDP Select program. If you’ve heard about this option, you probably know there are those who vehemently defend it and those who believe its exclusivity clause is harming authors. These opposing opinions can cause plenty of confusion for writers and publishers who have yet to use the system.

Here are the basics:

  • The program is active for 90 days at a time. If you fail to opt out before the 3-month period ends, Amazon will renew your title’s enrollment automatically.
  • During this time, you give Amazon exclusive rights to sell and distribute your digital book. This means you cannot publish or distribute through another channel.
  • You receive five days for free promotions. This can be a highly effective tactic when used strategically.
  • Amazon will automatically include your title in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library Program. This means you can potentially earn revenue from the KDP Select Fund when users borrow your book.

Does KDP Select work as a strategy? Absolutely. Will it work for you? There is no definitive answer and you shouldn’t trust anyone who says there is. Unfortunately, you’ll have to weigh up the pros and cons, assess your eBook marketing plan, and then decide whether it’s worth the risk. Whatever you do, make certain you read the relevant section in the Terms and Conditions so that there are no nasty surprises along the way.

Step 5: Upload your eBook File

As you’ll see in this easy-to-follow instructional video, adding your title to KDP is pretty simple.

Things to pay attention to when uploading your book:

  • Do not enroll your book in the KDP Select program unless you’re absolutely certain it’s the route you want to take. Once you click the “Save and Publish” button, you’ll be subject to the Terms and Conditions of the program for a 90-day period. If you’re unsure, you can always publish your book and enroll later.
  • If you’re using other distributors, such as Smashwords or B&N, be sure to use the same book details and description you’ve used on their platforms.
  • Once you upload your document and KPD converts it into the Kindle format, make sure you use the preview function to check the contents of your book. If it doesn’t look the way it should, you’ll need to fix any formatting issues and upload the document again.

Step 6: Create an Interesting Author Page

One of the most powerful tools Amazon.com offers writers is an Author Page. It’s a little piece of property you can add to your marketing arsenal and leverage as you develop and implement your promotional campaigns. To claim yours, you’ll need to sign up to Amazon’s Author Central program.

Besides a compelling author bio, you can add blog feeds, relevant videos and photos, links to your social media profiles, upcoming events, and a complete list of your books. It may take a few days for your Author Page to appear on the Amazon.com website so you’ll need to be patient. Once it’s live, you can start promoting your unique, customized URL.

Okay, so you were a published Amazon Kindle author back at step 5. It doesn’t hurt to have another marketing tool at your disposal though. Take that extra step because it might just pay off when you least expect it.

Did you have any Amazon Kindle self-publishing questions? You know where to drop us a line. Happy publishing!

Drupal vs WordPress – A Guide for Beginning Bloggers

Drupal vs WordPress – A Guide for Beginning BloggersAre you planning on building a blog in the near future to help you share your thoughts and opinions with the rest of the world? You’ll need to choose a CMS, or Content Management System, to help you get your screeds to the masses. In case you’re not familiar, content management systems are computer programs that allow you to publish, edit and modify content for Internet consumption. These software platforms have been around since the late 1990s, and they are essential for anyone who wants to use the web as a platform for content. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective), there are literally hundreds of CMS platforms available. However, I’m going to focus on two of the most popular platforms for purposes of comparison. For many bloggers, the choice of CMS platform comes down to Drupal vs WordPress. How do the two platforms match up?

About WordPress

Drupal vs WordPress – A Guide for Beginning BloggersEven if you’ve been living under a rock for the past several years, it’s likely that you’ve heard of WordPress. Simply put, WordPress sets the standard for open-source blogging software that can be used free of charge. More than 30-million sites have been built using the platform, making it the most popular CMS on the planet. Everyone from basement bloggers to corporate giants use WordPress, but there are limits to its usefulness when it comes to the needs of large, scalable corporate websites. That being said, WordPress is perfect for many users who simply want to start and maintain a great-looking blog with full, modern functionality.

Some Interesting WordPress Facts: 

  • Released on May 27, 2003
  • WordPress has received 164 updates since its release
  • Updates occur once every 17.8 days, on average
  • More than 14,000 plugins/modules/extensions are available
  • Nearly 1,400 themes are available
  • 14.3% of the top million websites use WordPress

About Drupal

Drupal vs WordPress – A Guide for Beginning BloggersLike WordPress, Drupal is an open-source CMS. More than 650,000 websites run on the Drupal software, and the platform is supported by an enthusiastic team of developers. With Drupal, users can build great blogs, but they can also take advantage of its ability to craft other types of sites and applications. Web developers love Drupal because it is much more scalable than WordPress and other popular options. It shares many similarities with WordPress, such as an easy-to-use WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor and database data storage. Additionally, it also uses PHP to call up data. However, Drupal is probably better suited to developers and web designers who want to do more than simply set up a blog.

Some Interesting Drupal Facts: 

  • Released on January 15, 2001
  • Drupal has received 77 updates since its release
  • Updates have occurred once every 36 days since version 4.3 was released in 2003
  • More than 8,000 plugins/modules/extensions are available
  • Nearly 900 different themes are available
  • 1.6% of the top million websites use Drupal

Drupal vs WordPress for Bloggers

If you’re starting a blog, you might not be thinking about your long-term plan. You may simply want to get something off your chest, and you need to find the easiest way to make that happen. That being said, you should take some time to consider what you want your web presence to look like in the future. This will be a major factor in determining whether Drupal or WordPress will be the most appropriate platform for your needs.

If you can see yourself building a sophisticated website that will require massive scalability in addition to maintaining your blog, Drupal is probably better suited to your needs. It contains everything that you will need to post and edit your blog, plus it allows you to grow your web presence significantly beyond blogging. Unfortunately, Drupal is not nearly as user-friendly as WordPress.

Since WordPress is easier to install and operate, it might be a better solution for you if you don’t have the time, energy or requirement to grow and expand your site rapidly. If blogging is your primary objective, it’s hard to recommend against WordPress because it is so popular and easy to use. Additionally, it offers more themes and plugins to help you craft your blog in a way that contains a unique, personal touch. What’s more, WordPress is terrific for the budget blogger.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to making a decision between Drupal vs WordPress, both platforms are winners. At the end of the day, you can create a terrific blog using either WordPress or Drupal. Both platforms offer tremendous functionality, and they are quite similar in terms of their basic ease of use for blogging. However, I would recommend Drupal if you have big plans for your website and your overall online presence. If you simply want to keep a great-looking space on the Internet for your blog without the need to expand rapidly, I would recommend WordPress.

 

What CMS do you use for blogging? Are there any important differences between Drupal and WordPress that I may have missed? Let us know what you think by dropping us a line or leaving a comment below.

The Top Ten Marketing Automation Tools

In a previous post, we covered the basics about marketing automation and why you need it. Basically, marketing automation tools give you the chance to take greater control over your marketing plan by putting all of your data, contacts and other tools in one easy-to-manage place. Marketing automation exists mostly in the form of web-based software platforms that can be accessed from virtually any location where Internet access is available, and it has transformed the lives of marketers around the world.

We discussed a few of the most popular marketing automation solutions in the previous post, but we barely scratched the surface of the options that are currently available. In this post, we’ll go over the consensus picks for the top ten marketing automation tools. Some of these software platforms will be familiar from your research and exposure to the web, but others will not. Additionally, there may be some platforms that are left out of the list. That doesn’t mean that they are necessarily any worse than the picks highlighted here; it just means that they do not combine functionality, usability, price and popularity in a way that would give them a space on this list. So, without further ado, here are the top ten marketing automation platforms on the web today:

Hubspot

Hubspot is well-known around the web thanks to the company’s excellent marketing of its own products. The platform’s software is comprehensive and incredibly easy to use, plus there are numerous training and educational modules available for registered users. The company was launched in 2006, making it one of the more recent entrants into the marketing automation landscape. However, Hubspot has grown quickly. Currently, the company boasts more than 6,000 active clients and more than 100 employees. For a reasonably priced, comprehensive solution for your marketing automation needs, it’s hard to argue against Hubspot.

Eloqua

When it comes to sheer popularity in the realm of marketing automation, there’s Eloqua, and then there’s everyone else. Eloqua was able to get a head start on other companies, though, which is why it can boast more than 50,000 users. It has existed since the earliest days of marketing automation as a concept, and it has continued to attract users with its friendly interface as well as its ability to make the job of marketing as simple or as complex as end users desire. As a completely comprehensive platform, it is able to help you with everything from lead capture to completing final deals. Although it can be used in businesses of any size, Eloqua is best suited for medium-sized organizations.

InfusionSoft

When looking at a matrix that includes factors such as the number of customers, number of users, total company revenue, Google searches, Twitter followers and other ranking data, InfusionSoft is thought to be the second most popular marketing automation platform after Eloqua. The company specializes in offering solutions for smaller companies, and its price is more affordable than some of the industry’s behemoths. However, InfusionSoft does not provide management or hosting of websites. If you are in charge of a smaller business, and you are looking for software to help you enter the realm of marketing automation, InfusionSoft might be an ideal choice.

Marketo

Fans of Marketo’s automation platform are very vocal about their love for the software. A favorite of technology companies, Marketo offers software that is straightforward and easy to use. The company offers a couple of different solutions for marketing automation. Its flagship platform is ideal for medium-sized to larger companies, while its Spark platform is perfect for businesses that are just starting out. Although Marketo offers tremendous functionality and it is a major player in the industry, some users feel that the company charges too much for its services. Regardless, Marketo’s software is a viable solution for any company that requires more streamlined management of its marketing.

Pardot

If your focus is on B2B sales, you should consider Pardot seriously. Its software is designed to help businesses over the long term with sophisticated capabilities that help marketers capture, nurture and convert leads. Interestingly, the company requires no contractual term for its users and customers. However, it retains 96% of its customers in spite of that fact. Pardot was founded in Atlanta, Georgia in 2007, and it was ranked as one of the city’s fastest-growing companies in 2008. The software platform has a client retention rate of 90%, plus it scores points for its quick implementation time. If you are looking for a contract-free solution and you don’t have extensive time to learn a new software platform, Pardot could be the ideal choice for you.

Optify

Optify is often compared favorably with Hubspot, and one look at its friendly, easy-to-use interface helps you understand why this is so. One of the more appealing aspects of Optify is the fact that it has a highly manageable learning curve, unlike some of its competitors. Many marketers are reluctant to start using marketing automation software because they don’t want to let leads and other business slip away while they learn new software. Optify soothes these fears by allowing users to jump in immediately and start using the platform in a meaningful way.

Net-Results

Net-Results might not be one of the more notably popular names on this list, but the company has established itself as a major player in the industry by providing exceptional service and results. The platform often finds itself at the top of various customer satisfaction surveys and lists, and it has an excellent client retention rate of 95%. Net-Results, which was founded in 2003, is a comprehensive solution for any marketer’s needs, and it scores highly when it comes to the ease of implementation.

Genius

This company chose wisely when it decided to call itself Genius. The company’s software platform is perfect for small businesses, particularly if they are just starting. The Genius software is incredibly easy to learn, and its interface makes marketing look easy. The best part about this software is that the basic version is completely free. Unfortunately, the free version does not include email marketing or website hosting. However, users can always upgrade to a “Pro” account for greater functionality and a larger set of tools.

LoopFuse

Like Genius, LoopFuse offers its basic software package free of charge. LoopFuse is not the best-known marketing automation platform, but it is growing quickly as an increasing number of small businesses and entrepreneurs turn to it for solutions. Although LoopFuse does not offer website hosting, SEO or landing page creation, it gives users the opportunity to import 500 contacts. It also allows for 1,000 emails and 10,000 page views. Additionally, the software features excellent lead capture capabilities and fantastic marketing analytics. If more contacts are required, you can pay $450 per month for up to 10,000 contacts. If you do not deal with a high volume of clients, LoopFuse might be the ideal solution for you.

Act-On

Act-On provides a simple, cloud-based platform for its users, and the software is notable for its no-nonsense approach. While many people love the software for its simple, utilitarian aesthetic, others find that it is not as easy to use as some other platforms. That being said, if you prefer a simple, yet comprehensive solution for your marketing automation needs, Act-On could be the perfect platform for your needs and the requirements of your organization. Pricing plans are also quite simple, with the basic package starting at $500 per month. This package covers up to 1,000 active contacts. Prices rise with additional contacts, and there are no hidden costs.

 

These ten marketing automation solutions represent the best that the industry has to offer. If you perform a bit of research on your own to determine your specific needs, you should be able to find a winner from among these choices. Of course, you can always try a platform for a month free of charge to determine if it will work for you and your organization. As long as you are attuned to your needs and goals, you should be able to find the perfect match when it comes to the marketing automation platform that will help you streamline your work and make you more successful.

 

We’ve covered ten of the top marketing automation tools in this blog post. What are your favorites? Are there platforms that you feel should have been included in this list? Please let us know what you think by posting a comment below. We’d love to hear from you.