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The Quest for Quanlitative Measurement

Getting to the Good Stuff – Mack Web’s Year in Review

By | Building Community, Business Stuff, Data and Analytics, Mack's Musings, The Quest for Quanlitative Measurement | No Comments

I remember reading some advice on Mark Suster’s blog at some point a year or so back about how important it is to record the stuff you’re doing in your company on your blog — good or bad — so that it becomes a historical record.

That way, some day you can look back and uncover key turning points and gateways of your journey, and also see how extremely far you’ve come.

Initially this post was going to be a curation of the best stuff on our blog this year. But as I looked back at the posts that would fill the list, I realized the story of what we really learned this year was living behind them. Mack Web has made some big leaps over the last 12 months. Here’s a look at the discoveries that surfaced for our company this year (with blog posts in tow).

The Start of Changing the Way Companies Build Their Brands

At the very beginning of 2014, Mack Web was enjoying the success of our Community Building Guide, a guide we had launched in October of 2013 documenting a community-building process we had developed and were testing both on Mack Web and with our clients.

The guide was 147 pages and although we were receiving extremely positive feedback, it was a lot to digest. So I kicked off the year with the Essentials of Community Building, a webinar and accompanying slide deck that aligned with the key takeaways in the guide (page numbers and all) so that we could offer a more truncated version.

Essentials of community building Mack Web

I didn’t see it at the time, but looking back after all that has transpired this year, our guide was not only full of tips and suggestions for building community (and effectively building relationships with social media), but it was also the start of a fully integrated marketing approach that, by the end of the year, would evolve into our core method for helping companies change the way they build their brands.

It’s hard for me to believe that in just one year, we would go from here:

then

to here:

now

So although Mack Web started the year out with a strong focus on community and how to get started building one, there was a much bigger mission that we would end up pursuing.

And it all began with measurement.


The Start of Changing the Way Marketing is Measured

In the first quarter of 2014, our entire team resolved to change the way marketing is measured. Here we were: a highly dedicated team who was taking so much pride in all of the little pieces we were putting into place to grow our clients’ companies. The problem was, we weren’t just helping these companies build communities. We were helping them build the solid foundation of their brand. We were helping them set goals for their entire organization. We we were digging deep into the core of their companies and revealing weaknesses that we would then help them address and conquer. We were helping them transform their businesses from the inside out and even forge the right relationships one by one.

We were doing great things. But we were doing a terrible job of communicating the return on their investment.

Our work was highly qualitative and our clients wanted to see the results in quantitative metrics. They wanted to see their ROI in numbers, in black and white. And we had a whole lot of work to do in order to make that happen.

Ayelet started the conversation with Social Media Engagement Metrics: Taming the Elusive Beast in an attempt to reveal some relevant and useful qualitative metrics to complement the quantitative ones we had already been working with. At the time, we thought this disconnect and gap in communication with our clients was social media related. That our clients didn’t fully understand the value of social media and how it supported the building of their brand and ultimately their community.

In an attempt to bridge the gap, I wrote the slide deck Why Follower Count is Bullshit to shed some light on social media metrics that communicated real value. Turns out the deck struck a chord (it hit the front-page of SlideShare and was picked up by Hubspot) and had a lot of people looking at social media metrics differently. The thing was, this was just one part of the equation. We had so much further to go.

why follower count is BS

By May, our clarity in terms of how to effectively measure and then better communicate the value of our efforts was starting to get stronger and when I spoke at WistiaFest I was able to talk about the importance of an integrated strategy and how Mack Web had been using that, plus some scrappy low-budget videos (with eggs and fairy wings), to build our brand and community.

wistiafest

At this point, we were still testing a ton of the metrics I was talking about (take a look at slides 67-80) but it was a solid start. This time I wasn’t just focusing on social media metrics. We had started identifying and conveying the difference between metrics that showed how effectively we were building the brand and metrics that showed how our efforts were affecting bottom line revenue.

Each time I speak at a conference it gives me a chance to really digest what we’re doing as a company and also to see where we need to go next. A few weeks after I returned from WistiaFest, the team started working on the hurdle of reporting. We hadn’t yet found all of the metrics we needed to communicate both qualitative and quantitative efforts, but at the time, some of our reports were 16 pages long. The narrative of our efforts was way too much for our clients to take in and although we were making progress on the metrics front, we were gaining no ground on how we were communicating them.

Over the summer months, slow progress would continue to be made with the way we were measuring marketing and how we were reporting, but the most important growth would be made with our team.


The Turning Point

In September, we hired Mike to be our Director of Client Strategy. This meant that we would have someone in our company who was solely focused on the growth of our existing clients so that I could focus more on driving the vision of the company (as well as speaking and blogging which are a huge passion).

It was a gift to have Mike join our team when he did. After months of struggling with balance, I was elated to have someone sharing the load, but I also knew that we were on the cusp of making some significant gains with our two big goals: changing the way companies build their brands and also the way marketing is measured.

Having Mike on our team would provide me with the space to find clarity, give the team a fresh perspective, and supply us with some long overdue feedback that would catapult us ahead.

At the time that Mike started, I was preparing for two important conferences: one for Conductor in New York City and one for Distilled in London. Simultaneously, he was getting his feet wet. He was observing. Asking questions. Collecting data. Lucky for us, all the work the team had done all year (and the years preceding), Mike’s external insight, and the effort I put into these talks, would bring the long-awaited clarity that would define who were as a company.

In October, Moz launched a post on their blog that I collaboratively wrote with Mathew Sweezey. 4 Ways to Build Trust and Humanize Your Brand talked about many of the things we were helping our clients do. We were asking them to be real companies. To care about their customers. To live up to their customers’ expectations. To focus on reaching big goals for their business (not just their marketing). To do the shit that doesn’t scale.

Then I gave the talk in New York — Playing the Long Game: Growing Your Business Through Community and Integrated Marketing — which provided a step-by-step walk through the integrated process (formerly our “community building” process) that we had been evolving (by leaps and bounds) at Mack Web ever since the beginning of the year.

C32014-MACK FOGELSON.001

Two weeks after New York, I took a plane across the big blue ocean to speak at SearchLove London. The talk I gave in London — The Measurement Behind Your Integrated Marketing Strategy — was a continuation of the conversation I started in the States.

In NYC, I talked through all of the detailed steps of our integrated process. In London, I dug deep into our approach and metrics side with how to actually communicate the value of integrated marketing — telling the story of progression over time. The story of those valuable and essential building blocks that we were working so hard to put into place — one stone at a time. The story of the long game. The story of all these integrated pieces and channels working together to drive success in order to show both qualitative and quantitative value for both the business and the brand.

Measurement-Behind-Integrated-Strategy-SearchLove.001


Definitely Something of Historical Record

When I got back from London and had a chance to breathe, I had a big realization.

It was the culmination of everything the team had been struggling through and learning. Everything that all of us had worked to communicate all year on our blog and to our clients. From the process we had unveiled in our community building guide last October, to the evolution it made for WistiaFest, and then finally coming together for my talks in New York and London.

What I finally realized was this: Mack Web isn’t just a community building company.

We’re a full-blown integrated marketing team who wants to build great brands and communities full of loyal advocates who truly love the companies they so selectively choose to support.

And it’s kind of funny that we did this almost backwards. That we came at our USPs, the core meaning of Mack Web almost by accident, at the end of a very natural (though somewhat painful) course of evolution.

Because, as you know if you’ve read any of the posts that led us here, the very first thing we do in this integrated marketing approach we’ve created is to sit down with our clients and ask them who they are and who they want to be. What do their products and services add to their customers’ lives? What do they care about, beyond making money? What sits right at the heart of their company?

From those answers, we’re able to help them articulate multi-level goals for their brand and their business. Everything else — the metrics and the social media and the content and the ROI and even the reports — springboards from there. We can’t tell you if you’re succeeding until we know exactly what you’re aiming for and who you really want to become.

These are questions Mack Web has struggled to answer for ourselves. Not because we didn’t take the time to ask. Not because we didn’t care. But because we started all of this during the evolution of an ever-changing industry that sits on the shifting sands of Google’s algorithm. Our company, among so many others in our industry, has been growing and redirecting so rapidly that we’ve been reaching half-blind. We’ve been running on all the knowledge we could get our hands on, as well as sheer intuition, to anticipate the changes.

So we answered the questions as best as we could at the time, with what we understood, and each time it was enough to carry us just a little bit farther, a little bit closer.

And then, in the midst of all the hard days, the disconnects, the gaps in ROI communication, the speaking engagements and slide deck creation, without anyone noticing it was happening, all the pieces slid into place. It had nothing to do with Google (and everything to do with sustainability). And we were looking at the whole picture of what Mack Web had always wanted to become all along, and it felt like home.

After nearly three years of effort, we were able to articulate — with clear examples and case studies — not only how our approach was different, but why it mattered. Why all the things we’d learned along the way were important and how they fit together.

Community building led us to authenticity. Authenticity led us to brand. Brand led us back over to goals and meaning. Goals and meaning led to progress and measurement. And everything together put a spotlight on all the channels, pointing back to community and relationships.

With all of those parts and pieces we finally had an approach that worked and that drove success. And, most importantly, it’s an approach that makes us proud to call this our work.

There’s More in Store

It’s been one hell of a year and I’m so incredibly proud of this team for what we’ve accomplished. We’ve been pushing really hard which means we don’t always post on our blog as much as I’d prefer. It’s really important to me that we’re not just putting something up to meet a designated frequency.

What’s important is that we’re sharing our journey and making your lives easier in the process. That everything on our blog is a window into the struggles and victories of this responsive company who is using integrated marketing and communities as a way to transform businesses.

This year has truly been a gateway. It took us 11 years to get here, but I finally feel like we’re getting to the good stuff. It’s not like it’s all rainbows and ice cream every day, but the mountain we’re climbing doesn’t seem so steep. We intentionally said no to new clients for nearly 9 months. And now we’re ready. We’ve selected some new clients and now it’s time to grow this team again.

We can’t wait for what’s coming in 2015. Thank you so much for your unconditional support of Mack Web. We hope you’ll stick around for the next part of this ride.

Integrated Marketing Measurement: The Story That Proves Your Value

By | Data and Analytics, The Quest for Quanlitative Measurement, Web Marketing | No Comments

Another day, another deck

To the envy of the rest of our Anglophile team, Mack was recently honored with an invitation to speak at SearchLove London.

Which of course, meant it was time to create another spectacular slide deck. (And, y’know, put together a talk to go along with it.)

Mack’s talk addressed one of the pressing difficulties of implementing an integrated marketing strategy: measuring the right things not just to correctly assess your progress but to keep your clients satisfied with that progress and engaged with your strategy. It’s less about what you measure and more how you convey the data: telling the story of how the short-term wins move you down the road toward your longer-term goals.

The result was this deck, as ever a splendid joint creation of Mack, our designer Nat, and the eagle eyes of the rest of the team.

We recommend giving it a gander and, in case you missed Mack’s presentation on  integrated marketing measurement or if you’re in a hurry, keep reading for the highlights.


Key Takeaways

Just because it takes 2-3 years to spiral up the Mountain of Success doesn’t mean that your clients will wait that long for results.

Often the first obstacle we encounter with our clients is convincing them to do their marketing right. They want to parkour their way up the quickest path, taking whatever expedient and dodgy measures necessary to get quick results. Convincing them to take the long-view, spiraling our way up the proper footpath – with brand building and authenticity and putting in the work to build a better business – can be a hard sell.

Slide 5 - The Mountain of Success

And even if they’re willing to do the foundational work that can take 2-3 years to complete, they’re not going to wait that long for results. You have to prove your value long before the 2-3 year mark.

Slide 8 - Prove Value to Build a Brand

And that’s where integrated marketing measurement comes in.


 A side note: The best marketing works from the inside out.

If you’re curious about that 2-3 year span, well…you obviously missed Mack’s presentation at C3 2014, where she went through all the steps and pieces of an integrated marketing strategy and why it works.

The very, very short version is this: the best marketing, the marketing that pulls people in and turns them into brand evangelists, starts by identifying your business’ meaning beyond money, building an entire brand experience around that meaning with every available channel working together, and forging relationships through your authenticity.

Slide 18 - Community and Revenue

 

The slightly longer version can be found in the key takeaways from Mack’s C3 2014 talk, Playing the Long Game: Growing Your Business Through Community and Integrated Marketing.


 Prove your value to your client by telling them the story your data is creating about the progress you’re making toward their goals.

Tracing the path of customer conversions is tricky with an integrated approach. The whole point is to have all the channels working together, giving each customer a multi-channel experience and many levels of persuasion.

Slide 43 - The Path to Conversion

Knowing exactly which piece was the tipping point and how to weigh the value of each piece of the experience is pretty much impossible. So you can’t just use conversions to prove your value to the client. Instead, as Vizzini advises, you have to go back to the beginning.

The first thing you’re going to do when you follow that integrated marketing approach is to identify your clients goals: their overarching vision, the benchmarks for their brand and business along the way, and then the individual campaigns that will push you toward those benchmarks.

Slide 71 - Focus on Goal Progress

Instead of giving them the number of clicks and forms and sessions and all the other KPIs, use the goals as focal points and tell them how much progress you’ve made toward them. They don’t need to know all the number stuff. To the clients, the metrics only mean what you tell them they mean. Distilling all the work and effort that went into earning those numbers into a statistic only diminishes the perceived value of your efforts. So cut that out.

Instead you read the metrics and craft that into a narrative of progress to communicate your value to your client.


 The story is for them, the metrics are for you. Seize opportunities for progress.

But just because you’re not sharing all the nitty-gritty numbers with them doesn’t mean you’re not avidly watching them yourself. Measure the right things, the numbers that actually mean something. When you see something interesting, do something about it. Take note of trends and spikes and patterns and then make a plan of action for further testing or taking advantage of what you’ve noticed.

But here’s the trick, with clients and with an integrated approach: you can’t jump on every little blip, every little opportunity as you see it.

Slide 93 - Not the Shiny Things

When you see and interesting trend or your clients come to you with a brilliant new idea or direction stop and ask: Does this align with our goals? If so, is it urgent? Or can it wait until the next strategy iteration?

If it’s urgent, it’s urgent. If not, keep a running list that will guide your next set of campaigns.


 The nature of integrated marketing makes it difficult to parse the progress for your clients.

Integrated marketing, by its very nature, is difficult to measure. So many pieces working together make it difficult to determine what’s working and what isn’t.

Slide 99 - Nothing works in isolation

So when you get frustrated, here are the things to remember:

  • Everything goes back to your goals.
  • Prove your value with the story your data is telling, not the data itself. (A story about what? That’s right, your goals.)
  • Don’t rest on your laurels: try new tactics and new KPIs. You’ll never see so clearly what works until it’s set next to something that doesn’t.

 Just getting started

As we hinted in our post digesting the C3 2014 slide deck, this topic – of integrated marketing and integrated marketing measurement and integrated marketing with meaning – is our passion.

We will absolutely be talking more about this in days to come. You should probably sign up for our email below, just to make sure you don’t miss anything.

That would be so sad for you.

Better than Hawaii: Mack Web’s Best Summer Blog Posts

By | Creativity, Miscellany, Social Media, The Quest for Quanlitative Measurement, Web Marketing | No Comments

Because why gloat over your vacation pictures when you could be catching up on the genius you missed?

Summer is a time for many wondrous things: swimming lessons and blockbuster movies, amazing thunderstorms and vacations to exotic locations, backyard barbeques and entirely more ice cream than can possibly be healthy.

Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 5.23.07 PM

You know what summer is not a great time for? Reading anything other than ridiculously fluffy beach-worthy books, with titles like Cream Puffs by Starlight or The Undead Llamas Ride at Dawn.

Which is why, with the crisp hints of fall just around the corner and the kids shuffled back to school, we decided to make your lives a little easier. You don’t have to go back and catch up on everything the Mack Web team wrote this summer (though we wouldn’t blame you if you did; we are just that amazing).

Instead, we’ve put together the list of Mack Web best summer blog posts, the ones you absolutely shouldn’t miss.

You’re welcome.

We’ve also provided a quick word on why we think each of these posts is emblematic of what Mack Web stands for, why they’re important in the general scheme of things.

And hey, if you think we missed a crucial read, let us know. We’ll add it to the list.


Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 4.16.01 PMHow To Design A Stellar Slide Deck (the Mack Web Way)

Our favorite post of the summer was this contribution from our designer extraordinaire. Natalie Touchberry is brilliant with all things design and this post gives you some amazing insight into her tricks of the trade.

We think this is an important one to share not only because it’s a wonderful, practical creative process from a master of her art but also for of its place in the broader spectrum of the Mack Web belief system. (Yep. Slide decks are part of our corporate religion, along with heart, passion, desire, excellence, and llamas.)

Our devotion to slide decks is twofold. First, we are firm believers in using different formats to convey our messages. And here’s the thing about slide decks: a slide deck devoid of meaning stands out a lot more than a fluffy blog post. In other words, to do the slide deck format well, you really have to know what you want to say and why you want to say it. We are all about the intentional content.

The second reason we love slide decks is because they are symbolic of a key part of digital marketing that is often overlooked: offline efforts. Frequently used as a visual aid for public speaking, slide decks are a great reminder that building relationships and reputation in the real world is a huge part of an integrated marketing strategy.


Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 4.15.48 PM Hashtag Series: Ally or Enemy? (Pt. 1) & A How-To for Success (Pt. 2)

We were really pleased with this collaboration by our Social & Community Management Strategist Ayelet Golz and our Account Coordinator Rebecca Gilmore. It’s not only a fantastic walk through of how, when, and why you should use hashtags in your social media marketing but also a practical guide to creating meaningful hashtags, based on what you’re trying to accomplish.

We’re featuring these posts because, while not overt, they so deeply express one of Mack Web’s most fundamental principles of digital marketing: everything starts from goals.

So we say ‘Don’t use a hashtag unless it serves your purpose in creating the social media campaign in the first place.’ And then Ayelet tells you when that might be. ‘Choose or create a hashtag that actually achieves what you want to achieve.’ And then Rebecca gives you a process for doing just that.

That’s Mack Web to the core.

Also, there are frolicking hashbrowns and Gandalf jokes. So, you won’t want to miss that.


Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 4.15.55 PMHow to Dominate Google+ Hangouts on Air

Our shining star of the summer, our Team Member of the Season was, apparently, Ayelet.  This post of hers was a big favorite for its sheer practicality as she tells you everything – and we do mean everything – about Google+ Hangouts.

Google+ Hangouts are a fantastic way to convey valuable information, host a gathering of experts, and build relationships with your peers and audience alike. (Mack Web is big on the personal touch.)

We’re also big on sharing what we know. Sometimes that’s theory: the why behind the methods we use. But sometimes that’s application: the methods themselves.

Because, hey, you’re going to have plenty of work to do figuring out the topic, the guest list, the promotion, the follow-up of your Hangout. We can make the actual, manual steps a little easier. Why would we make you suffer?


Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 4.15.41 PMConversion Rate Isn’t Everything in Digital Marketing

Yep, that’s right, our final Not-To-Be-Missed post of the summer is another Ayelet classic. This one uses our Truly Monumental Guide to Building Online Communities as a mini case study for the varying definitions of content success in digital marketing.

We chose this one for a couple of reasons. First of all, it’s a part of our Quest for Quanlitative Measurement: our ongoing journey to fully exploring, understanding, and optimizing the various ways to measure integrated marketing efforts. The Quest weighed heavy on our minds this summer and we didn’t want the season to pass without a mention of it.

Second, well, we love that guide. Arthur, as we call him. So figuring out how other people felt about him was important to us.

Third, we work hard to prove the value of our efforts to our clients. We know you do, too. Our experience with Arthur just proved to us that the narrow focus on conversion rate discounts so much great stuff that goes on in the background. So, in true Mack Web spirit, we provide you with some practical alternatives.

And finally…well…we had to include this post. Otherwise Disappointed Turtle might have scowled at us. And that’s not a fate lightly to be borne.


Alright, so it’s not quite Hawaii…

So we may not have been strictly factual when we said Mack Web’s Best Summer Blog Posts were better than Hawaii. But we figure you would only know that if you actually went to Hawaii. In which case, you got both, so why are you complaining?

If you, like us, didn’t spend the summer sipping Mai Tais and enjoying the crystal blue waters, we want to know: what did you learn this summer? What made your Best Reads of the Summer List?

Quest-Post

Conversion Rate Isn’t Everything in Digital Marketing

By | Building Community, Data and Analytics, The Quest for Quanlitative Measurement, Web Marketing | 5 Comments

I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve sat in where it’s immediately obvious that the only thing the client cares about is leads, conversions, or sales. Hey, I get that. They want to improve their business. We want to help them build a better business. We’re on the same page there.

But focusing on conversions – and conversions alone – isn’t helping a business get any better for a few reasons. First, focusing on the number of conversions ignores a lot of the work that goes into setting the stage for those conversions, drawing people to the brand. Like integrated marketing. Using all the channels together to keep your strategy in sync and make sure the right people are becoming aware of you. These efforts aren’t as easy to express as conversions, but they are worthwhile. Without these efforts, conversion rate suffers… a lot.

diasppointed turtle

Second, the conversion-only focus means you (or more likely your staff, under pressure to perform for conversions alone) neglect your higher level goals (you know, the ones that move you toward a better business and not just a better income). Again, those higher level goals might not come wrapped up in one simple number, which can be presented to superiors. However, they are just as important to moving your business forward.

If we had only focused on how many conversions (in this case, how many clients we signed) we received from our Truly Monumental Guide to Building Online Communities and neglected to look at our integrated marketing efforts and all they accomplished along the way, we would have felt like we failed.

If we only looked at new client conversions alone, we would be missing the more important, bigger picture of everything we achieved. When we took the time to analyze our efforts, we realized we accomplished so much more than signing on new clients. And we saw our success in a whole lot of different places. Read on for our very own study on measuring integrated marketing efforts.

The What, Why, & How of Our Community Building Guide

The What

Over 10 months ago, we released our Community Building Guide. We affectionately nicknamed this 147-page guide Arthur. The guide itself is an ode to why and how to build communities online.

The Why

Arthur sprang up out of our need to talk about the benefits of online community building to anyone who would listen. No, really, we are passionate about building communities (it worked so well for us) and we wanted to share this love with the world (it can work well for others, too).

In addition to our desire to share our community-building knowledge with the world, we had goals for the company. As a brand, we wanted to continue to earn and enhance our reputation for thought leadership in our community and the industry it serves. As a benchmark for that, we set the goal of 8,000 downloads of the guide by the end of 2014. We also set a business goal of increasing leads. We had no idea that launching this guide would do so much more than that.

The How

Here’s the first twist in measuring the results of a single piece of content when you’re Mack Web. We’re strong proponents of integrated marketing so nothing exists in a vacuum. We know our goals are better met if we put all available outreach channels to their best use.

Now to go back to Arthur specifically: take a look at all of our community building guide efforts in visual form first so you can be truly and properly overwhelmed. Then, we’ll get into the bits & pieces.

all the things for the guide

Pre-Guide Release

Here’s everything we did before the guide was even released:

  • We created a signup page for people if they wanted to get the guide right when it came out.  We used Launchrock to collect the email addresses and we highly recommend it.
  • We organized a Google+ Hangout with some excellent community building panelists in our industry two weeks prior to the guide’s launch.
  • We made five videos to promote the guide before it came out and to build some momentum. The videos provided lots of good tidbits about building community. We structured them as bite-sized teasers to the guide to inform and inspire people thinking about building online communities.
  • We sent out six pre-launch emails that shared value with our community and were related to our other efforts.
  • We wrote seven blog posts related to the guide and efforts surrounding it.
  • On social media, we made sure everyone and their brother knew that we had a guide coming out. And then we told everyone again.
During Release

And here’s what we did (mostly on the day of the release):

  • We released news about the guide on the blog, on our site, and via email to those who had signed up ahead of time and those already on our email list.
  • We contacted friends and peers in the industry to help spread the word about the release.
  • We promoted the guide on social media and to our community.
  • We celebrated and worked together that morning (our war room was filled to the brim with fruit, breakfast burritos, other delights, and snacks). This was a very important part of our launch.
Post-Guide Release

We didn’t leave it at that – here’s what we’ve done since the guide was released:

  • We asked for feedback about the guide via email and on social media.
  • Mack did a webinar based on the guide .
  • Mack spoke at WistiaFest and State of Search about the video series we did for Arthur.
  • Mack also wrote on Moz about 5 strategic steps to big content, stemming from our experience with the community building guide.
  • We promoted these spawn of Arthur via email, on the blog, and on social media.
  • And we’ve got a secret project in the works related to Arthur. No, you can’t bribe us for more information with gummy bears. We’ve got morals, people.

Now that you’ve got a bit of background about the tactics we used, you’ve probably reached two conclusions. First, we must have gotten a million new customers. Second, figuring out how many of those millions was a direct result of the guide would be pretty much impossible. Well, you’re right about the second one (coming up soon). As for the first conclusion… yeah, not so much.

The Results of Arthur Alone

Conversions

We can count the number of conversions of new clients we received off of our guide on one finger. Approximately 3 months after Arthur launched, we signed a client because they had read our guide.

You read that right. One. Single. Client. Un cliente. Ein Client. Great result for all that work, right?

But here’s where I’m going to blow your mind. That’s only an embarrassing result if all we cared about was the conversion rate of clients. Lucky for us (and our egos), we had a ton of other results from this guide that we’re proud of.

Inbound Links

The guide received 373 total inbound links since it launched in October 2013. Influential sites like Moz, Inbound, Conductor, and Wistia all linked to the guide, substantially increasing its reach. Most of those links were thanks to friendships we had made in the industry waaaaaayyyyyyy before the guide was even a twinkle in the Mack Web team’s collective eye. That’s the kind of groundwork that’s hard to measure and hard to do, but gives indisputable value.

And then, because the guide was full of so much good stuff, it earned even more links all by itself. That’s value we can’t even begin to attach a number to.

Guide Downloads & Pre-Guide Signups

Before the guide was launched, we had 350 signups from people who wanted to receive word when the guide launched. Within 30 days of launch, we had 1,250 downloads. As of July 2014, we’d reached  more than 5,500 guide downloads (just 9 months). We’re well on our way to reach 8,000 downloads by December 31st (I wouldn’t bet against us if I were you).

The number of downloads is a valuable metric for us. Each time a person downloads our guide and reads it, that’s one chance for us to convince someone of the value in building an online community. And once they’re convinced of that value, they often share the guide with their friends,  which expands the reach of our brand. As a bonus, the social proof offered by their willingness to share the guide builds trust in our brand as people come to know us as the folks who know what they’re talking about in terms of building communities.

The Results of Arthur as an Integrated Marketing Campaign

Those results above are just the ones directly related to the guide. We look at the community building guide as just one part of our march towards inevitable integrated and digital marketing greatness. And in the time since launching Arthur, we’ve made great strides forward.

The Full Story on Conversions

Let me go back real quick to the conversion. The best part about signing on a client because of the guide was that the client fully understood who we were and the value we bring to the table. Our guide did all of the work and we are now basking in the glory of a client who is in sync with our community building passion.

Leads

In March 2013, right around when we started the earliest pre-launch promotion efforts for Arthur, we were averaging 3-5 leads/month. Arthur was launched in October 2013. As of July 2014, we’re averaging approximately 20-25 leads/month. Conservatively speaking, that’s a 300% increase in leads.

arthur leads pre and post guide

Email Marketing

Our email list increased by 50% year over year (2012 vs. 2013). Once the community building guide was released, we started to see all kinds of organic email subscriptions.

Social Media & Community Building

Conversation, Amplification, & Applause

We’ve made solid growth on social media in our amplification, conversation, and follower count.

total applause amplification conversation fans_pre and post guide

Sessions & Pageviews from Social Media Referral Traffic

I like looking at how Arthur affected social media referral traffic. We saw awesome growth in our referral traffic sessions (what Google Analytics now calls visits) and pageviews from Twitter.

pageview referrals from Twitter

session referrals twitter

The other social channels also performed really well.

linkedin slideshare youtube referral sessions

Speaking & Blogging Gigs

In the 3 months after the launch of the guide, Mack was invited to speak at SearchFest and Conductor’s C3 conference. The guide helped give Mack a little bit of extra awesomeness (like she needs it).

mack

Site Traffic

New vs. Returning Visits

These metrics show us that not only are more people who’ve never heard of us coming to our site, but also that people who have heard about us are coming back for more.

new and returning visitors

Organic Search Traffic

We saw a 145% increase in organic search traffic in the 3 months after the guide launch (compared to the 3 months before the launch). And at the time of the launch, that meant more people were coming to our site than ever before. Woo hoo!

organic search traffic change 3 months pre and post arthur

Session (or Visit) Duration & Total Sessions

Session duration increased 8% (comparing 9 months pre- and post-Arthur) and we had 55% more sessions after the guide was launched (same time period). So not only are we getting more traffic to our site, but now they’re staying longer, too.

total sessions pre and post arthur updated

The Mitigating Factors

Are you thoroughly and undeniably impressed? All of that was a huge boost to our presence on the web, the awareness of our brand, and the respect in which our knowledge is held. We also want to acknowledge that a) just because we only signed one client directly from Arthur doesn’t mean we didn’t sign other clients in the intervening months and b) we are insanely selective about our clients, which is why more of those leads haven’t turned into clients.

And yet, Arthur was not the impetus for all those results. Because as the guide launched and lived on, we did not sit idle.

We launched a new website that more effectively communicated what we actually did. We started to get more qualified leads for our business. We became more strategic about our blog posts.

And as is fitting in a company that believes in building communities, we made more connections on social media and offline. We experimented with our email marketing and email subscription efforts. Mack keeps getting more speaking and blogging opportunities. Our processes are becoming tighter and even more integrated. We’ve found more llama images than when we wrote the guide. Sure, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing, but our team is in better shape than ever.

All of which is to say that, though Arthur undoubtedly played a huge role in the results of the year here at Mack Web, we don’t actually know how huge that role was (because of all the things). Which leads to one natural conclusion.

My Conclusion: Measuring the Effects of Truly Integrated Marketing is Hard

When you do a lot of things, it isn’t always clear what results can be attributed to what action. Arthur achieved a lot, but so did all our other integrated marketing efforts in the year. Because all these efforts played off each other as well, the data becomes even more entangled, harder to attribute, and skewed.

The important thing is that we’re reaching our goals, and not just with Arthur. With everything we do now, have done in the past, and will do in the future.

The Solution

If I told you I had the solution right now on how to best measure integrated marketing efforts, you’d probably give me a million bucks. Sorry, I have no such thing.

However, here are a few things that I advise you to remember and remind your clients or superiors along the way:

1. Assign specific KPIS to your goals, meaning all goals, not just business goals.

Conversion rate will only get you so far (and mainly it just works to make marketing look like a total loser. Which it isn’t. Anyone tells you otherwise, you send them to us. We’ll straighten them out.)

Think through key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics thoroughly, and take baseline measurements before you start your efforts. It’ll make your life infinitely easier in the long run, but it still won’t make it a cakewalk (mmm, cake).

2. Look at the long-term data.

So what if your campaign only lasted 3 months? You should still look at year over year data because it gives you an excellent baseline to show how much progress you’re making. Sure, it’s difficult to directly attribute specific successes to specific campaigns, but long-term data makes the results of all your efforts wonderfully obvious.

3. Educate your clients/higher ups on the the importance of meaningful goals (beyond conversion rate).

Remind them you can’t increase conversions without increasing brand awareness, establishing an online and social media presence, and building community.  Integrated marketing efforts are more than just stepping stones to more sales or leads. The broad-reaching and foundational goals they achieve – such as brand awareness and online community – are both vital to higher conversion rates for your digital marketing and valuable in their own right.

Questions, comments, suggestions, congratulations? We’ll accept all of those things (but especially the latter) in the comments below.

Quest-Post

Talkin’ ’bout the Rep-volution (er, Reporting Evolution)

By | Data and Analytics, The Quest for Quanlitative Measurement | 4 Comments

A necessary evil

Reporting is one of the unfortunate necessities of the marketing industry. Monthly (or weekly or quarterly or however you like to do it) reports are a time-honored way to communicate progress to the clients we serve.

Done correctly, they prove to those clients that we are accomplishing valuable things on their behalf, thus building and banking trust for future endeavors. (A little more substantive a tactic than getting together and doing trust falls, although perhaps not less nerve-wracking).

Now, as you may have noticed, here at Mack Web, we’ve gotten a little obsessed this year with conquering, er, completing with valor and perseverance our journey to integrating quantitative and qualitative measurement. Measurement is always a hot issue with digital marketers and for good reason. We measure the results of our efforts so we know what works and what to do about it. It’s a big deal.

But because it is so inextricably intertwined with measurement, reporting often gets short shrift, overlooked like the red-headed stepchild it is. (As a once-strawberry-blonde stepchild, I get to use that phrase without taking any guff, okay guys?).

The sad truth is that, though measurement is what drives our forward movement, if we can’t get the hang of reporting, it’s time to hang it all up and go home. Because reporting – though a royal pain in the neck – is not only how we convince the clients to keep paying us, but how we justify the decisions we make based on what we’ve measured.

It’s a simple equation: bad reporting = no trust = no forward movement = unemployed marketers = no rent, no loan payments, no gummy bear budget.

So, while mastering measurement is important, mastering the art of the report cannot be overlooked.

Which is why, as part of our Quest for Quanlitative Measurement, Mack Web has undertaken the Rep-volution: a long, painstaking, patience-testing evolutionary approach to our reports.

The Rep-volution of Mack Web

Yep. That’s right. Little black bars. I’ve been watching too much Alias on Netflix. I went a little nuts with the redacting. Deal with it.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

We won’t try your patience by going back too far. Not all the way to the long-dead days when rank in the SERPs was the all-in-all and Mack Web branding involved use of the color lavender. (You’re welcome).

Instead we’ll pick up right before we started to buckle down on this reporting thing. Jump in your time machine, grab the hand of the Ghost of Christmas (uh…Halloween?) Past, rev up the DeLorean. Do whatever you gotta do to join us in a little journey back to yesteryear.

It is October 2013. Mack Web has just completed another reporting cycle. We think we’ve got the process down but look upon the product with an eye of disfavor.

The early days of the Rep-volution

Our reports range from 11 to 16 pages. We use screenshots from Google Analytics to display the data. We have long-since dispensed with the lavender hue.

Our metrics are these:

  • Unique visitors for the last 5 months
  • Traffic, year over year
  • Traffic trends (visitors from search and social), over the last 5 months
  • Top traffic sources
  • Social media followers, clicks, shares
  • Social media engagement (as evidenced by retweets/comments left by influencers or peers)
  • Top performing blog posts for the month

The data is presented and unpacked with spartan words. Though we conclude with our intentions moving forward, we do not explicitly connect the metrics to the actions that will follow.

The result? Constant battles for buy-in from the client. The natives are restless and something is clearly rotten in the state of Denmark.


From amoeba to…something more advanced than an amoeba

Jump forward in time to November 2013. A few key things have changed in the Mack Web universe.

We’ve finally published Arthur, our long-suffering Truly Monumental Guide to Building Online Communities, giving us a boost in confidence and motivation.

We’ve also undergone a Strat Ops scrub, a time for company self-reflection in which we concluded both that we needed our reports to work and that they were dismally failing to do so.

We discovered Avinash Kaushik’s famous See, Think, Do framework and decided to model our reports accordingly.

The result? This bad boy:

Rep-volution: The Avinash Days

The report still clocks in at an unwieldy 12 pages, but at least we equate the metrics to specific intent and audience behavior.

See Metrics, indicating brand interest and the beginnings of engagement, include:

  • Applause, Amplification, and Conversion on social media and blog posts
  • New visitors
  • Organic Search results

Think Metrics, reflecting an audience almost ready to commit, include:

  • Bounce rate
  • Page depth
  • Social clickthroughs
  • Branded SEO traffic
  • Visit duration & pages visited
  • Conversation quality

Do Metrics, indicating the visitors who had bought in, whole hog, are:

  • Visitor loyalty (indicated by returning visitors)
  • Conversion rate
  • Form submissions

We are cautiously optimistic about the result.


Minor tweaks (and a change in tense, ‘cuz that was getting weird)

Over the next few months, we kept the framework and started tinkering with it to make it more accessible and valuable. We added a little more analysis and an ‘In a Nutshell’ recap with the unique visitors over time.

Eventually, we prettied it up, matching the sleeker style we were beginning to favor.

We stopped using strictly screenshots and started tentatively creating some of our own charts and graphs:

Graphing it up with the Rep-volution

The unfortunate upshot of these additions was that the reports kept lengthening and, consequently, our clients’ patience with the reporting process was shortening.

We knew they weren’t reading them all the way through.

Alas. What were we to do?


Getting closer

The next evolution fell after yet another Strat Ops scrub in which we realized something mind-boggling:

It’s more important to create a report that the client will actually read than a report that includes every relevant metric.

That doesn’t mean that we weren’t going to make sure that our clients got the most important info. But we were going to make darn sure that they couldn’t ignore it when they got it.

It was a revelation. The next report was cut in half. Clocking in at 6 pages,and leading with the Do Metrics first, it was designed to grab the client’s eye and say:

Look! We accomplished stuff you care about! Now, here’s how we did it.

We added new, visually-oriented charts and then pulled all those charts together into a one-page dashboard:

An early Dashboard of the Rep-volution

It was a thing of beauty and we were justifiably proud of it.

Which explains, of course, why we discarded the whole format the next month.


One small step for man…

In retrospect, it seems so obvious now. In the last year or so, Mack Web has grown famous (in our own eyes, at least) for our ‘Goals not Tools’ approach. We were telling everyone we met (seriously, friends, family, strangers on the street) that a sustainable marketing approach had to start with Goals.

Which is why it’s a little embarrassing to admit that it took us so long to get get around to building our reports around the goals we were trying to accomplish.

Suddenly, the ideal framework became so beautifully clear: the metrics reflecting the performance of each campaign across all channels, organized under the goal they were meant to accomplish.

The Rep-volution has Goals

Of course, nothing is that easy. There was still the matter of choosing the right metrics and visualizing them in a way that our clients would see. It meant ensuring that the performance of each campaign was clearly connected to the strategy behind upcoming campaigns.

It also meant greater customization for each client.

Clients are not uniform. Their reports shouldn’t be either.

The client pictured above cared about form submissions as an indicator of success in…uh, increasing form submissions and branded mentions and site metrics as indicators of progress in the realm of thought leadership; other clients cared about other things.

Things like the individual breakdown of engagement on each social network to indicate progress toward identifying and engaging the ideal audience.

The Rep-volution Tweets

Some were more worried about their competitors than others.

A Competitive Rep-volution

If you’re serious about communicating value to your clients…be sure you’re talking to your clients. Not to some anonymized client generalization.

Side Note: To meet or not to meet

While we’re talking about talking to the clients, here’s a thing we’ve gone back and forth on: do we send the report or present the report? Ideally, the report should stand on its own. But how can we be sure they’re really reading and understanding if we aren’t walking them through it?

For now, we meet if there are pressing issues that need to be discussed. We certainly don’t want to waste our time or theirs by reading the report out loud to them. So, if we do in fact have a meeting, we focus on the three most important things that we want them to hear. Sometimes that means an action they need to take, something we want to experiment with, or helping them understand the bigger picture of year-over-year growth instead of just the results of the most current quarter.


Not quite there yet

All told, we’ve come a long way in the field of reporting. Of course, we’re still refining our presentation. For example: charts or line graphs? line graphs or bar graphs?

Graph crazy in the Rep-volution

We’ve continued to streamline the dashboards (Natalie just keeps making them prettier and prettier) so that they quickly and easily communicate progress and keep the focus on the things that are important to the client (and also coupled with the things that we really want them to hear).

The Rep-volution Streamlines

And as we hone in on the best quanlitative metrics to be found, our reports will continue evolving to reflect them.

But an incomplete quest is not a wasted endeavor. Rep-volution is all about learning: what causes us to thrive and what leads to a quiet extinction in the grass.  And, boy, have we learned.

One lesson is that our drive for perfection, though necessary in some ways, may have also hurt us in others.

Clients like consistency. Too many major reporting overhauls can be disruptive.

Oops.

Of course, the nature of evolution dictates that there will changes and improvements going forward – new metrics to use, new clarity to share. The only constant is change, etc. But we’ve already decided that we will be more deliberate about it. We’ll try changing one variable at a time.

This is a double win for us. We ease the client into the changes, giving them the consistency they crave. And we also get to collect specific feedback on how they receive each change without muddying the waters. No muddy waters means an easy fix if it turns out the change wasn’t for the better. Fail fast, right?

No movie is complete without a few explosions

But here is possibly the most important lesson, driven home over and over again:

The best reports in the world aren’t going to build the trust you need if you never act on what you report.

We’ve hinted at this throughout our trip down memory lane, but now we’re saying it plainly: the ultimate point of reporting is to gain trust. But unless you’re prepared to take action as a result of what you’ve reported – to ride any momentum forward, to reinvigorate or give a swift death to flagging tactics, to apply gained insights into user behavior and audience triggers – you’re going to snuff out whatever trust your beautiful reports may have earned.

At Mack Web, we’ve created a regular meeting we call Catapult.

Mack Web Team Catapults the Rep-volution

In these meetings, we check out any red flags (or green flags or gold stars or skywriting) that turned up in the reporting cycle. (To be clear: this is not the only time we monitor or respond to progress or regress. We deal with things in the moment. Catapult is to make sure the whole team is keeping an eye out for long term trends or patterns.)

We discuss the issue and decide on a response. We walk away from Catapult with a clearly defined list of action items or continued monitoring to be done.

This is the song that never ends…

Yes, it goes on and on, my friends. Metrics and KPIs are refined. Reports are tweaked. We cannot yet crown ourselves Imperial Highness of the Reporting Cycle. But we’re creeping up on that throne. And on that blessed day, we will remember the little people who aided our ascension.

Vive le Rep-volution!

Whaddya say, little people? What have you learned about reporting? What comes next in the Rep-volution?

Quest-Post

Why Follower Count is Bullshit

By | Data and Analytics, Mack's Musings, Social Media, The Quest for Quanlitative Measurement, Web Marketing | 7 Comments

Quest-PostIt’s impossible to communicate the value of social media efforts when you’re using a metric like follower count. It’s easy to measure, but it doesn’t mean anything.

You’ve got to put in the work to measure the right things so that you can determine whether your efforts are actually making a difference.

I’ve got a whole lot of reasons for (and proof of) why you should be measuring social media success differently. In an effort to provide a few suggestions on how to do that, I’ve put together this case study. A slide deck that tells the story of my own two-year, follower-building effort.

Enjoy.

Social Media Engagement Metrics: Taming the Elusive Beast

By | Data and Analytics, Social Media, The Quest for Quanlitative Measurement | No Comments

Quest-Post

Mack Web is now Genuinely. Learn more.

– –

Meaningful social media metrics are like an elusive mystical animal (for the sake of having a good metaphor: a unicorn). You go searching for what you want, and you find metrics that are close, but not quite right (um, a donkey). Or you realize that there’s no way to get exactly what you want (just grow a horn already, donkey).

That’s been my life for the last couple months. As part of our quanlitative quest, I’ve been obsessed with finding the most relevant and useful qualitative metrics to complement our already great quantitative social media metrics list. Given that we use different metrics based on each client’s strategy, it’s been a complex undertaking.

However, there are some social media engagement metrics that show promise – they more effectively communicate the true value of social media efforts and show whether your community is actually engaging with your brand.  I wanted to share those with you so that you can benefit, too.

Calculating True Engagement on Facebook

[Editorial note: Facebook moved this metric since I first reported on it so I’ve updated this blog post to include new screenshots and stats.]

Let’s set aside all the backlash Facebook’s received recently with its steep decline in organic traffic to brand pages because they are doing one engagement metric right. I’m going to start with that one.

Facebook’s Talking About This metric has been around for a while, but we’ve only really started paying attention to it recently. This metric is a great, public equalizer: great, because it bypasses taking fan numbers at their face value and puts it into perspective of how many people are actually engaging on that page; a public equalizer, because you can see this metric for any page.

Here, on Mack Web’s own Facebook page, is where to find the information you need to figure out the Talking About This metric:

How to Find Facebook Talking about This number

Facebook Talking About This Number second screen

The Talking About This metric counts “stories”, meaning everything from liking a page to posting on the wall or a post, sharing a post, mentioning a page in a post, or checking in at a location. That’s a whole lotta engagement in one little metric. That’s why it’s a good overall number to look at for Facebook.

I look at the Talking About This number divided by the number of fans, and multiply by 100 to get the percentage of engagement. This tells me the percentage of fans who are actually, actively engaging with the brand. I watch to see if it rises or falls, month to month, and what inspires those trends.

Here’s the formula if you want to take it for a spin:

Formula for the percentage of fans who are actually actively engaging

And this is how I keep track of it in a spreadsheet:

Calculating Facebook's People Talking About This Percentage
*Note on date: measure consistently on the same day every week or month, and note the date in your spreadsheet.

This percentage can unlock the reality of how a page is performing. If a brand has a lot of fans, but a low Talking About This percentage, then you know no one’s really engaging with the brand. All they have is a higher fan count, but they don’t have the attention of those fans.

Let me give an example.

NY Times vs. The Huffington Post. Which would you think has the higher Talking About This score? Don’t look below or sneak a peek at their Facebook pages. Just take a guess.

Actually, The Huffington Post is the big winner here (at least according to Facebook’s Talking About This metric).

Huffington Post Facebook Talking About This Number

The NY Times Talking About This Percentage

Here it is in action in spreadsheet format with the above example:

Comparing Huffington Post vs NY Times with Talking About This number
Not only is this metric helpful in truly understanding engagement on a page, it’s useful when we’re trying to educate clients who are fixated on fan count.

Calculating Engagement on Other Social Networks

Which other big social media channel takes engagement metrics to the level that Facebook has? Right now, none of them. Not Twitter, not LinkedIn, not Google+.

Publicly, these channels all focus on follower or fan count and hardly anything else. You can find your own engagement metrics in their analytics platforms, but you can’t often find your competitor’s unless you love counting and simple addition. Also, more often than not, the engagement metrics that these social networks provide for your own pages or profiles are either not great or are hard to pull together. And yet most channels have the capacity to provide us with that engagement data we crave. They just don’t. (Don’t even get me started on this).

For example, here’s the Impressions graph you can see on your LinkedIn Analytics page (but you can’t see for any other profile). In order to see total impressions for a month, you’ve got to add all the impressions up.

So what’s a marketer to do when it comes time to analyze engagement efforts on social networks other than Facebook? I’ve got a list of engagement metrics I’ve either 1) been using for a while or 2) recently found and think are worthwhile. Lucky for you, I’m going to share those, too.

Applause, Amplification, and Conversation

We are big Avinash fans over here at Mack Web so it’s no surprise that the basis of our engagement metrics is seated in Avinash’s Applause, Amplification, and Conversation metrics. We talk about these metrics a lot, and for good reason. You can find them (and calculate them) on all social networks in one form or another. Plus, they give you meaningful information about the health of your social media channels by showing you how well your fans are engaging with your brand on social media. These are our foundational social media engagement metrics – you have to watch these metrics in your analytics to fully understand your brand’s social media engagement.

In case you’re learning about these engagement metrics for the first time, here’s a quick breakdown of what they indicate:

Applause: This metric shows whether people like what you’re posting. If they’re not liking/favoriting/+1ing your stuff, it may mean they don’t like what you’re putting out there.

Amplification: Amplification shows that people like your posts enough to take action and share them.

Conversation: Conversation indicates whether people are actually interacting with you. Here you’ll be looking at @mentions, replies, comments, etc. on your posts.

Some other metrics that are good indicators of engagement and action are:

  • social media referral traffic and
  • how social media traffic effects micro-conversions or goals on your site.

Both of these metrics could make up a blog post by themselves so I’ll skip over them for now. (But stay tuned for more on these in future posts).

Additional Engagement Metrics I’m Experimenting with

I haven’t yet had a chance to put these metrics into full effect, but with the little experimentation I’ve had, they’re proving to be really promising:

Average Engagement Rate on Other Networks

Okay, yes, I know I just said that Facebook is the only network with easy, public engagement metrics. The most important word in that last sentence is easy. The Talking About This feature makes pulling this engagement metric simple. It’s in the same place on every brand’s page and publicly available. 

You’ll notice that I also said you can find engagement metrics on Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. It’s just harder. They have all the data, but they don’t share them yet and also won’t give you a lot of information about your competitors. (Which always makes me think that the social networks must be hiding something, but maybe that’s just the conspiracy theorist in me).

Fortunately, there are wonderful people in the world, like our friends over at Raven, who have already figured some of this out. Here’s how you can calculate engagement rates for the other networks (and their competitors if you really love counting likes, +1s, shares, and the like).

Essentially, what you’ll be doing is adding together all the small indications of engagement (Applause, Amplification, and Conversation metrics) to build your own Talking About This metric for each social network. This allows you to track how many of your fans and followers are actively engaging with your brand, both in the moment and over time.

Average engagement metric forumla - 2

Twitter
Add the total number of retweets, mentions, and replies together (Sprout Social is my friend here). Divide that number by your follower count and turn it into a percent. I like to look at this metric over a longer period of time to see a trend.

LinkedIn
Much like Twitter, add up all likes, comments, and shares for the month on your company page and divide by total followers. Make that a percentage and look at the trend over time.

Side metrics rant: LinkedIn analytics is really special in my book because they don’t give you a total number for the month, as I mentioned before. Plus, its API doesn’t play nice with other analytics platforms. I hope you enjoy adding because you’ll be getting a good workout between LinkedIn and Google+ below. If you figure out a workaround, please leave it in the comments below – I will send happy thoughts your way as a sign of my gratitude.

Google+
Google+ is super fun because most pages (unless it’s a local page) don’t have easy numbers on the backend for shares, comments, and +1s. I have to count them on the actual page – suffice to say, that my simple addition muscles are real strong.

Click-Through Rate: The Content that “Clicks” with the Fans

This metric is a combination of two metrics: clicks on content and reach (a big thanks to Steve Webb for this tip). When you divide clicks on content by the reach of the content, you get this magical percentage that tells you how many of the audience who saw your post actually clicked on it.

Click through rate equation - 2

What can Click-Through Rate tell you?
I’m just getting started with this metric, but my favorite use thus far is as a barometer of whether people are liking the content we’re sharing and creating. Think of it as a way to measure an even fainter sign of interest than applause metrics. Your follower isn’t willing to commit publicly to liking you, but they are willing to see what you have to say beyond your 140 character message. Click-through rate can also be a great indicator of whether the wording of your updates entices them to click.

How to use Click-Through Rate
I see a few good ways to use click-through rate. You can use it to compare campaign to campaign on the macro level. On the micro level, you can use it to compare how specific pieces of content or content topics or themes perform. You can even use click-through rate to compare how different updates for the same link did.

You also can look at the level of interest from network to network for certain types of content. For example, you might find that Twitter followers like reading about case studies more than your LinkedIn followers. Or that your LinkedIn followers really like reading about ROI of social media.

How to Calculate Click-Through Rate on Various Social Networks

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty here. Currently, click-through rate data is only available on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

Sometimes, I think G+ is floating off in left field somewhere, picking dandelions. I hope it’s having a good time, at least.

Twitter
In order to calculate click-through rate on Twitter, I use Sprout Social and you’ll also need to use bit.ly links for your clicks to be counted. Unfortunately, you can’t get this data on Twitter Analytics. On Sprout Social, go to Reports, then Sent Messages, then Twitter. Here’s where you get the info you need to calculate click-through rate:

So now you want to take the number of clicks (249) and divide by the reach number (750) and multiply the result (.33) by 100. This update had a 33% click-through rate. Not too shabby.

LinkedIn
On LinkedIn, you’ll find click-through rate under the Analytics tab. Divide number of clicks by impressions and multiply by 100. Here the click-through rate would be 9%.

Facebook
Facebook’s click-through rate can be found in Insights under the Posts tab. Look down at All Posts Published. In the example below, if you divide number of clicks by people reached and multiply by 100, you’ll get click-through rate for this post (2% click-through rate).

A Note on Sample Size when Using Click-Through Rate
Let me address the elephant in the room when you’re looking at click-through rate: sample size. Obviously, working with 249 clicks and a 750 reach (as in the example above) is not going to provide definitive answers. This means that you want to be careful about drawing conclusions from click-through rates taken with a small sample size.

Use click-through rate to guide your experiments on social media, not as a final judgment of what you must do. With a small sample size, click-through rate can only give you so much information about what’s going on on your social media pages. To draw an accurate conclusion, you’ll need to test a lot of theories and analyze loads of data. I never said this all was easy.

Taking Advantage of Engagement Metrics

Finding these types of metrics that show the value of our social and community work is our number one goal this year. It’s our Quest. Stick around for the ride – in the end, we want to swap out that donkey sporting the paper maiche horn for the real deal: a beautiful unicorn.

Have I missed your favorite engagement metric? Share in the comments below.

Quest-Post

The Quest for Quanlitative Measurement

By | Building Community, Business Stuff, Data and Analytics, Social Media, The Quest for Quanlitative Measurement, Web Marketing | No Comments

Quest-PostIn which Mack Web shoots for the moon and and hopefully lands among the stars (since we’re pretty sure the moon is dusty and barren and impact would be both painful and messy)

Let’s just be clear up front: we think we’re pretty great.

We’re proud of the work that Mack Web does, we’re proud of the growth and knowing-stuff-ness that have centered on our community building goals of the last few years. We’ve made tons of new friends, published an Arthur, been invited to some nifty conferences, told a lot (a lot) of llama jokes, and discovered/developed/adopted/hybridized/stumbled-accidentally-over-in-the-night our beloved ‘Goals Not Tools’ approach to web marketing and brand building.

That’s some good stuff.

But you know what else was some good stuff? Uniting all of Britain under one benevolent rule and establishing a prosperous meritocracy of virtue, chivalry, and the rule of law.

But did Knights of the Round Table stop with Camelot?

Camelot is a silly place

No. No, they did not. They set out on a new holy mission rather than resting on their laurels.

(Or so Monty Python would have us believe, anyway).

How could we, the noble denizens of Mack Web, do any less?

And so begins our great journey of 2014 and beyond: The Quest for Quanlitative Measurement! (Trumpet fanfare, please).

(Curious? Be patient. You’re going to be hearing that fanfare a lot this year).


In which Mack Web makes up a word and undertakes a vital task

Do not adjust your screens: you are seeing that word correctly: Quanlitative.

We made it up because there wasn’t a single word that adequately described what our deep thinking and praiseworthy insight identified as the principal challenge we (as a company and an industry) are currently facing: proving the value of what we do.

These are common dilemmas for the circles in which we run: how to demonstrate the ROI for social media and this community building stuff, how to get buy-in from the C-Suite, tracking the indirect connections between online campaigns, offline campaigns, and legitimate leads. And so forth. You get the picture.

Lots of people are taking a crack at this in their own ways and we are definitely borrowing inspiration and sitting on the shoulders of giants and the like. But – as far as we can tell – nobody has gotten it quite right yet.

Which leads to our grand adventure and the birth of a brand new word.

As we framed it for ourselves, what we’d like to solve is this: how do you wholly and adequately marry quantitative measurements (number of sales or leads, volume of downloads, increase in signups, etc.) and qualitative measurements (brand reach and awareness, follower vitality, thought leadership, and all that stuff)?

So that’s what we’re going to try to do.

And to kick it off, we decided we needed the right term for it. It wasn’t hard for our own ingenious Mack Fogelson to portmanteau it up. (Hey, if the paparazzi can do it, so can we. Brangelina, anyone?)

quanlitative etymology

So let it be written. So let it be done.


In which Mack Web reveals their deepest hopes and fears (appreciate this moment of vulnerability, please)

We’ve got our sights set slightly lower than the Chalice of Christ and its consequent immortality (but really only slightly).

What we hope to have in hand, at the end of all the questing and dragon-slaying and sage-seeking and trail-blazing and trap-evading and riddle-decoding, is this: a method of measurement that puts the integrated back into integrated marketing. After all, if we’re pulling in all the channels and trying to accomplish both intermediate and company-wide goals, we need to be able to measure and report that in a quanlitative manner. If it just so happens to be fully scalable, aesthetically pleasing, and both convincing and comprehensible to the layperson/C-suite type audience? Well, won’t we be happy little clams? (That’s the Grail).

That’s what we hope to find/create. But here’s what we actually want, the big party when the triumphant questers return home: more trust from our clients. We want to be able to quench that ever-present uncertainty, to prove that our methods have value and thereby gain a little breathing room to try new things, to get off the defensive and go on the offensive. (That’s the Immortality).

We’re not so naive to think it’s going to be easy.  There’s a reason nobody’s quite nailed this down yet.

Neither do we think we’re going to hit the mark in just a year. It takes time to summit Everest. For 2014, we’re just aiming to get out of Kathmandu to the Base Camp.

We’re going to take it one challenge at a time.

trials of the grail


In which Mack Web unveils some of the expected milestones of the journey

Though this is our first formal Quest fanfare, we’ve already started laying in the groundwork. We’ve been spending some quality time with Avinash Kaushik’s now-famous See, Think, Do framework.

Plus our own Mack gave her first talk of the year at SearchFest 2014 on integrated marketing KPIs (specifically in relation to video) that’s going to give you some hints on our starting point.

(Like this one: it’s not really integrated marketing if you don’t look at both the individual channels and what they come together to form. ‘Cuz that’s kinda the definition of integrated. Dictionaries are a always a good point of origin).

Along the way, we expect to be picking up knowledge on a lot of subjects including (but most assuredly NOT limited to):

  • All sorts of analytics
    There’s Google Analytics and there are all kinds of social analytics and then there’s the offline stuff that’s even.more.difficult.to measure, but by golly, by gum, we’re going to tap into whatever it takes to get the job done.
  • Psychology of the C-Suite types
    We’re going to be getting up close and personal with the Myer Briggs DISC personality model, probably. Good times.
  • Automating for scalability
    ‘Cuz if these reports each take 70 bajillion (wo)man-hours to put together? Dude, we quit. Let’s go home and eat Red Vines.
  • Learning to learn from ourselves
    We’re working on getting better at identifying our blindspots and spotting opportunities for growth.
  • And undoubtedly much, much more
    Every accomplishment will be communicated on our blog for your viewing pleasure and lauded with gifts and gold stars and probably chocolate.

achievement_unlocked


In which Mack Web shamelessly pleads for questing companions and wayside support

So here’s the deal: we are going to be reporting the progress on this quest throughout the year. It’s going to be our focus project so expect to hear about all the cool things we learn and resources we develop along the way. (We love sharing questing bounty with our boon companions).

But it is a truth universally acknowledged that solo questers don’t do as well as the ones who have partners and sidekicks and the occasional Rivendell rest stops. (There’s a reason the Fellowship of the Ring was nine, you know).

So we’re asking you to take part in this ongoing quest conversation of ours. Share examples, ask difficult and annoying questions, point out when we’ve gone astray, give us cryptic hints to get back on track.

We value your contributions, no matter what form they may take.

the fellowship