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Web Marketing

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

 

 

 

The Integrated Marketing KPIs of Using Video to Build Your Brand

By | Building Community, Data and Analytics, SEO, Social Media, Web Marketing | No Comments

Sum-of-the-parts.png

Using video to build your brand is powerful. It’s the closest thing to real, human interaction and it’s what helps to connect people to the authenticity and personality behind your company.

But if you’re simply using video to build your brand, you’re leaving opportunity on the table. There is so much in your video efforts that can be leveraged in other channels like social, search, email, and offline. Integrating these channels will accelerate the growth of your community and your brand. It’s the sum of all the parts that leads to your true value and return on investment (ROI).

Measuring The Success of Your Efforts

There’s two things to consider when you’re measuring the success of your efforts with something like video (and other types of content): you’ve got The Parts, and The Sum of The Parts. With The Parts, you want to consider how the individual pieces of your efforts, like video, are performing.

What value are they providing? Are those videos furthering the reach of your brand? Are they helping people to feel more connected? Are they garnering more leads? The same thing applies to other “parts” like social media, email marketing, other types of content, search, and offline efforts. Analyze how those parts are individually contributing to your success.

And then, more importantly, be sure you’re taking a look at The Sum of The Parts. This is your 30,000 foot view. When you add up all of the integrated pieces of your efforts like video, social, search, email, and offline, what effect have they had on your business as a whole?  It is the sum of all of these parts that provides the true ROI and that work together to build your brand and your community.

KPIs for The Parts and The Sum of The Parts

Depending on your project, and goals, there are many key performance indicators (KPIs) that will help you determine the success of your efforts and the impact they have on your business. This slide deck includes some suggested KPIs for both The Parts (video) and The Sum of The Parts (video, social, search, email, offline) communicating success indicators for integrated marketing efforts.

Remember that it isn’t just video, or social, or search, or email, or offline efforts alone that make a difference in your business. It’s the integration and sum of the parts that add up to a greater whole. And that’s what it takes to build a community.

 

 

Arthur reading

Nuggets of Knowledge, From Our Team to Yours

By | Building Community, Nuggets of Knowledge, Web Marketing | 2 Comments

If you hadn’t picked up on it already, the Mack Web Team is pretty crazy about the book-learnin’.

(Please refrain from any jokes on other ways in which we are crazy or about how, yes, we can read, thank you. Not because we’re easily offended but…frankly, we’ve already made them all and we can’t spare the time for redundancy).

Each member of the team spends a pretty big portion of the week reading and absorbing knowledge and trying things out. We’ve decided to let you in on just a few of the things that we’ve learned this month (‘cuz we’re all about the edumacating, too).

So, here. Read some stuff. Learn some stuff. Get smarter.

And hey, let us know: what was your favorite article this month?


Ayelet’s Pick

Social Engagement Metrics That Matter – Measuring, Tracking, and Reporting FTW

by Jennifer Sable Lopez

Ayelet-Golz

Ayelet’s pick of the month

In the daily list of things I think about, social media engagement metrics appears easily at least once, frequently more. Lately, I’ve been sorting through the tangle that is qualitative metrics in the quantitative-heavy world of social media metrics. Reading this post gave me relief in knowing others are fighting this same mental battle and that I have much to learn from them.

Jennifer Sable Lopez offers a real-life view into how Moz uses social media metrics to show engagement, without making it seem like they have everything all figured out. She doesn’t leave anything out, talking about everything from the Moz’s important engagement metrics to how they track and report them to how they communicate the progress to their stakeholders (aka the rest of the team).

The inside peek into how Moz is measuring and tracking social engagement metrics alone makes this post well worth the read.

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Courtney’s Pick

The Complete Guide to Working with Copywriters

by Joel Klettke

courtney-brown

Courtney’s pick of the month

This is by no means a new addition to the vasty deeps of Web Marketing Know-How (check out that dateline: September 2013, an excellent vintage). That said, it has been a huge influence and resource in my life this month as I work on figuring out the needs and processes and gaps and other necessary paraphernalia for expanding, scaling, and – honestly? – kinda creating (not quite from whole cloth, but maybe…half cloth?) the Mack Web Content Department.

This fella is chock-full not only of the tips and tricks and resources suggested by the title (though those are there) but really for building a content department. (See why I like it?). I’m particularly fond of the Style Guide idea which not only makes introducing your writers to the clients they’ll be serving but also gives you a great mechanism for distilling and articulating some pretty important stuff about them clients themselves.

Multi-tasking. It is the poor man’s personal assistant.

So, yes. It’s a long(ish) sucker but not needlessly so and well-worth the time in any case. A great read for the exhausted content strategist, the bemused client (why is it so hard for them to find a writer?), and the eager copywriter (but hey, use it as a guideline not a cheatsheet. Nobody likes a cheater).

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Mack’s Pick

Are You Winning the Attention Auction

by AJ Kohn

mackenzie-fogelson

Mack’s pick of the month

Content marketing has hit the mainstream which means many companies are using content to build their businesses, their communities, and their brands. Many of these companies are approaching content marketing without a higher purpose, goals, or even a strategy. This leads to poor content creation which is essentially causing a saturation problem. Which will, eventually, make it a whole lot harder to earn the attention and trust from the readers and brand advocates you’re seeking.

Now more than ever, it’s imperative that your content comes with intention. How will it stand above the growing noise? How can it be relevant today and also serve as a resource tomorrow? Who is it helping? Is it uniquely you? How will it foster relationships or even tell the story of your company’s personality and prowess?

Your content must pave a path in your reader’s brain, making a meaningful impact so that it is not only remembered but shared. I highly recommend this long read from the brilliant AJ Kohn.

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Nat’s Pick

GoodUI

by Jakub Linowski

natalie-touchberry

Nat’s pick of the month

Good UI is a key ingredient to conversion rates and branding. Get this right and you’re gonna have people staying on your site and enjoying the experience.

That’s why I’ve chosen to highlight goodui.org. (Seriously, this website is going to get you excited about user interface, of all things). The website is chock full of tips and ideas like: trying a one column layout instead of multicolumn, using social proof instead of talking about yourself, using benefit buttons instead of task based ones, etc. If you have a UI conundrum or simply want to test some new things out, I highly recommend taking a look at this ever growing list of ideas. Plus, if you’re a visual learner (like me) you’ll really appreciate the wireframe examples that come with each tip.

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Rebecca’s Pick

82% of Women Think Social Media Drives the Definition of Beauty 

by Samantha Murphy Kelly

rebecca_frame2

Rebecca’s pick of the month

As a pre-teen in the pre-social media days, my sense of beauty was mainly defined by images in Seventeen magazine and 80s romantic comedies (cue Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away”). Now that I’m 30-uh-something, I’d like to think that I’m no longer shackled to those unrealistic standards.

But let’s face it: there’s a reason why I can still remember every word to Return of the Jedi. It’s because at that age, you’re a human sponge. And at that age, I was also absorbing what it meant to be (unrealistically) beautiful.

Enter social media.

For those who say social media is the next television (you know, that thing that will eat away at the brains of our youth), listen up. Thanks in part to various social platforms, we may be witnessing a turning of the tide, in which women are starting to define beauty for themselves. Dove’s beauty study also suggests more good news: the effects may be retroactive, impacting daughter and then mother.

This article, while not purely academic, is a great reminder that social media offers us all (especially teens) access to multiple points of view not easily available to us in recent history – and it can be used as a medium for positive social change. I’d give that a +1.

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Q&A: Building a Community Without Content

By | Building Community, Social Media, Web Marketing | One Comment

The Essentials of Community Building

Many companies want to better understand how they can start building their communities. What are the first steps? How long does it take? Can I do this on my own?

A few weeks ago at the OpenView Webinar, we talked a whole lot about the Essentials of Community Building and a related question was posed:

Q: How do you start building a community if you don’t have a ton of content and a full strategy in place yet?

A: It would be incredibly misleading to tell you that 1) it’s easy to build a community, and 2) that you can do it without content. Communities don’t build themselves. They manifest from great companies who invest a tremendous amount of time in their brand, improving their product, and actually listening to their customers in the process.

Apart from content, community takes a ton of hard work, consistency, and heart. But it most certainly can be done whether you’re a one person company just starting out, or a large organization who has been building a following for years but hasn’t really done much to foster those followers into brand advocates.

Much of what you do to build a community begins with goals, strategy, and ultimately, content. That content can come in many forms: the carefully generated content on your website and your blog, the stuff you share on social media, the prose you choose for your packaging and products, and certainly the words your team speaks online and offline when they’re interacting not only with their peers but with your customers.

So how do you build a community without content?

You don’t.

But what you can do is get a head start on building your community with other people’s content. And that, in itself, is an integral component to building your audience. Sharing other valuable content isn’t the only way to build a community, but it does make a statement about your knowledge (reflected in what you’re reading) and builds relationships and connections with people who may eventually become part of your community.

So, if you don’t yet have a ton of content, but you really want to build that community, give some of this a try:

1) Set some goals

Even if you don’t have a bunch of content, a strategy, or much in terms of company resources, you still want to start with goals. Setting these goals (and we’d recommend that you make them SMART) will help keep you focused on where you can add the most value and make the biggest difference in your business.


2) Identify your community and share other people’s (good) stuff

As I mentioned, if you don’t have much of your own content to share, you can share other people’s valuable content to get the momentum going. Sharing other people’s content adds a ton of value to your own customers and community and it also helps you to begin building relationships with the people and companies who may end up being part of your engaged audience.

Start by identifying the people, blogs, and knowledge sources that may be a match for your community and then share their content.

There’s a detailed breakdown of how to do this on the Moz blog, but we like to start with questions like these:

1. Who is your target demographic?
2. What specific industries do you cater to?
3. Who are your partners and colleagues?
4. Who are your competitors?
5. Who do you respect in the industry (people and companies)?
6. What organizations are you a part of?
7. What industry blogs do you currently read?
8. Who do you follow on social media (people, companies)?
9. What events do you attend?

Identifying the possible sources for building your community will help you to determine who to begin building those relationships with. But remember, don’t do this with a “what’s in it for me?” mentality. You’re certainly looking to be strategic about who you’re building relationships with, but be sure to keep your customer (and your future community) in mind.

As you read the content from these sources, determine what’s a match for them. Look at this process as an opportunity to learn new things and become exposed to new people who you may actually enjoy becoming friends with. If you genuinely come from a place of authenticity, this community building thing becomes a whole lot more effective and valuable. So if you don’t have a ton of content, start building your base by curating other people’s valuable content.


3) Don’t just broadcast, engage

Let me put it to you straight. For a long, long, long, long, long time, you may have absolutely no engagement (did I mention this could be for a long time?). You will go through a stage in your community building efforts, especially in the beginning, where you’re being extremely diligent and consistent in your efforts, you’re sticking to your established routine, and you’re sharing all kinds of great stuff. But that doesn’t mean that anyone will talk to you, care, or be motivated to engage with you.

The thing to remember about building your community is that it’s all about people. Just because social media is digital and seems so convenient, doesn’t mean that these relationships will build overnight. Keep in mind that you’re connecting with real humans and that requires you to actually be a person yourself.

So make an effort to engage. Don’t just share other people’s content. Get out there. Talk to people (both on and offline). Read stuff. Learn some things. Don’t make it about you. And look for opportunities to connect with people (and not just because you want their business). It’s those connections that will eventually help you to build a community full of brand advocates who love your company and want to tell their friends about your product.


4) Be worthy of your community

So this whole sharing other people’s content thing will only take you so far before your followers will start wondering why they would follow (or keep following) you. Why would they tell other people all about your company?

At some point you’ll hit a wall and need your own stellar content (and strategy) that exudes personality and communicates the story of your brand (and not just on social media). You’ve got to eventually have something of value that will attract people to your community. This plateau will come quickly. So get the ball rolling with other people’s content but all the while be sure you’ve got a plan to generate your own.


So while you’re working behind the scenes to set your goals and build your own something of value, identify the higher purpose of your company. That’s what you’re going to actually build your community around, and that’s what your content should be about.

In addition to this question, I also addressed a question about increasing engagement and content sharing. Have another question about community that we haven’t yet answered? It may be in our community building guide, but please reach out. We’d love to hear from you.

 

The Super Awesome (and a little stalkerish) Email and Social Media Account Matcher

By | Building Community, Data and Analytics, SEO, Social Media, Web Marketing | 10 Comments

Mack Web is  now Genuinely. Learn more.

– –

Back in August, there was quite a rush of excitement around the office when our friends over at SEO Gadget wrote a blog post about using the FullContact API to mine user data.

We’re nerds. We admit it.

The one thing that really caught our eye was the ability to find social networks based upon a user’s email address. Say for example you have an email list that you collected at a conference. Now you’d like to follow up with those users via email, but you’d also like to find them on Twitter to see if any of them are professionally active or influential.

Traditionally, you’d have to enter all the email addresses (or names) manually into Google search to see what you can find. If you’re really clever, you may try to use a gmail plug-in like Rapportive to try and match the email addresses. But that’s all a lot of work because you have to look at email addresses one-by-one. If you picked up 200 business cards at a conference, you can easily burn a day or two trying to match all the profiles.

Enter FullContact

They have a great system that allows you to run queries against their massive database of users. Even cooler, they allow you to find up to 250 matches a month for free. Although you couldn’t run an entire marketing email list for a large company with these few queries, it’s great for those conferences or small batch lists you need to try and match up. Searching for social accounts tied to 250 emails manually would take quite a while.

Since this service is set-up as an API, it’s not incredibly user friendly for us non-programmer types. Thus the Microsoft Excel macro that FullContact gives away was great because it suddenly gave non-programmers access to the FullContact database.

But we ran into a couple problems.

1. It’s really slow. It can take 5-10 minutes to run less than a hundred names. That’s lame.

2. It only works on Windows and Excel. I use a Mac. We had one of our interns run it this summer, but he is back at school. And I’m not buying a computer, a copy of Windows, and a copy of Excel just to run this.

3. Macros are a pain. You have to install them to make sure they are operating correctly. Sometimes they don’t work. Sometimes they don’t run with your version of Excel. There are literally hundreds of reasons why one might not work. They are just a major inconvenience.

From Microsoft to Google

So one day, I decided I’d try to build a Google Spreadsheet that would query the API. At first I thought about trying to create a script. But I’m not that great of a programmer plus scripts require you to authorize and install them within your spreadsheet. I really wanted a plug-and-play solution. I wanted something I could give to someone who had zero background in Excel that would allow them to run the queries without any kind of training or help.

Thus after hours of trial and error, endless frustrations, and dozens of Google searches (like 6 hours of work straight…seriously), I was able to create a spreadsheet that pulls in social profiles from FullContact using only the built-in ImportXML function within Google Spreadsheets. I then managed to use a mess of CONCATENATE, Xpath, SEARCH, and other random functions(in other words, I did fancy spreadsheet things) to display each of the main social media profiles: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Plus.

The Spreadsheet

So enough talking about it, let’s see how it works. First off, let me say it’s really simple. It’s literally copy and paste. I’ll include the link at the end, but here’s quick walk-through:

1. Open the spreadsheet by clicking the link. Make a copy of the spreadsheet for your own use. This document not editable, and I will not share it with you. So don’t ask. Just make your own copy. 🙂 It’s as easy as going to File>Make a Copy

Make a Copy in Google Docs

2. Next, set up a developer account with FullContact. It’s simple and easy. Just give them the info they want, and they’ll get you setup with the account.

3. Get your API key. Once you have your account created, go to the FullContact dashboard. Your API key is big and red and right in the middle of the page. You can see the screen here, but we blacked out our API code so you don’t steal it. Thief.
image01

4. Enter the API key into your new copy of the spreadsheet. It goes in the red box labeled: API Key (clever, right?). As a rule of thumb, in this document you should edit the red cells. You should not edit the blue cells.

FullContact API Google Docs

5. Finally, open the document or spreadsheet where you have your email list saved (you do have the email addresses in some sort of list, right?). Copy only 50 emails on that list and paste them into the spreadsheet in the red cells in Column A, Rows 3-52. Within seconds, you should see social media links begin to appear as they are found by the FullContact API. All 50 ImportXML functions run at once, so you shouldn’t have to wait more than a few seconds for data to appear. Cool, huh?

6. In order to make this data accessible later, you need to copy the results into a new document (or a new sheet within this document). Once this sheet returns the data, select all the cells that you want to save, then go to a new spreadsheet, right click, and select Paste Values. If you just try to do a normal Paste, it will only copy the formulas, and that isn’t going to help you very much. Paste Values will actually paste the results (the links to social profiles) into your new sheet.

You should also know…

There are a few limits and things you should know about this document before you dig in.

FullContact API only counts successful matches. The successful match rate according to FullContact is around 60% – meaning you can probably run close to 400 emails before you run out of queries since many will be returned empty. If you don’t get anything back on a query, it won’t count as an API call. That said, if the person has other information within the FullContact database (such as another social network login, an address, or job title) that data won’t get returned to this spreadsheet, but it will still count as a positive match. You get 250 matches with the free plan and paid plans start at $99/month.

Currently, Google Spreadsheets limits the total number of ImportXML calls to 50 per document. So you can’t run more than 50 emails at a time. That said, you can paste the emails into the document, then copy the social data out into a new spreadsheet, then replace the old emails with 50 new ones. It’s still WAY faster than doing it by hand. If you upgrade to a paid plan and need to run hundreds or thousands of emails, try the Excel macro or have a developer build you a custom solution as running 50 at a time will take a while.

There is no “run” button! The ImportXML function runs automatically, which is usually a good thing. However, if you exit the spreadsheet and then reopen it later with the emails saved inside it, the sheet will immediately make those same 50 API calls. Any successful matches will count against your total. So when you’re finished with the document, you should DELETE all the emails (or your API key) so as to not waste calls every time you open the sheet.

OK, here is the link. Knock yourself out: Spreadsheet

Also, once you make a copy, you’ll be able to see the crazy long formulas I used on the back end. (For what it’s worth, this is probably the most intense spreadsheet I’ve ever made…and I have a graduate business degree). Feel free to customize the formulas to meet your data needs. I only ask that if you find other useful data to call, please share an updated copy of this sheet with me. I’m sure there are hundreds of pieces of data and requests you could pull into it. I’d love to see what y’all come up with. You can find me on Twitter: @tyler_brooks.

Hope this helps!

Q&A: Increase Engagement and Content Sharing

By | Building Community, Social Media, Web Marketing | No Comments

The Essentials of Community Building - Mack Web Solutions

During the Essentials of Community Building Webinar last week with OpenView Labs, we had a few questions that I was not able to answer. I’m going to provide some of those answers here over the next few weeks:

Q: Once you get your following, how do you get them to really start engaging and sharing your content?

A: My recommendation would be to make it all about them. Figure out what your community really wants. You’ll know you’ve hit it right when you’ve accomplished the goals you’ve set forth: more engagement and more sharing of your content.

If you’re wondering how exactly to better engage your community and discover the content they would love to read and share, ask them. Try doing some surveys to determine what’s on their mind. If you’ve got a large community like you’re suggesting, you should get some really good data.

There are a few companies that I’ve seen do the survey thing really well.

Wistia’s Take Our Survey Video

Wistia put together a video that asked their community what they wanted to learn. Not only was the survey conducted in a manner that fits perfectly with Wistia’s culture and values, but it provided them with some really important data about their community.

Wistia received more than 780 responses in just 1 week. The video was so successful that Wistia had to take the survey part down so that it didn’t collect any more responses (and just allow people to link to the video). It was a really creative way to connect with their community and figure out how to get them what they want.

Moz’s 2013 Blog Survey

You certainly don’t have to create a video to administer a survey. Moz put together a survey to ask their community what they thought of their blog and then they published the results.

Moz Survey Results

This survey helped Moz figure out what their community really wants, and it also lets their community know they’ve been heard. What’s great about that is, in the coming months as the Moz blog fills with all of the content that they know their community wants, they should receive more engagement, more shares, and many other indicators of success that they’re tracking.

As with everything in your marketing (and your community building), it’s all about experimentation. You’ve got to try some things out and see how it works (or doesn’t). Start by really listening to your community and let them help you determine your direction.

More Questions?

If you have more community building questions that you’d like answered, reach out to us at @mackwebteam or contact us here.

The Essentials of Community Building (with Guide, Webinar & Slidedeck in Tow)

By | Building Community, Social Media, Web Marketing | 3 Comments

Community building is not about social media. It’s about people. Building a community is not about how many followers you acquire on social media. It’s about becoming a valuable brand and then building an engaged audience around it.

All of this community building stuff requires a shift in perspective. It’s a focus on accomplishing goals for your whole business and really paying attention to your customer’s needs. But lucky for you, everything you do to build a community will naturally build a better business and help you weather Google’s ever-changing algorithms.

Over the past few years I’ve been blogging, speaking, and, as a company, we’ve been doing a whole lot of community guiding. As a result, I’ve got some resources that will help lead you through three of the biggest building blocks of community: the tools, the process, and the measurement.

I’ve broken these resources down for you in three simple steps:

Step One: Download this Sucker

If you haven’t yet downloaded our free guide to building online communities, now’s your chance. This 147 page guide is packed full of all the gory details of community building. From the benefits to the tools, to the process—and even how to make adaptations as a company, an agency, or an in-house person tasked with the role of community building—this guide has it.

And the best part about it is you won’t want to stick a fork in your leg when you’re reading it, either (which we feel is a pretty large incentive).


Step Two: Watch this Webinar

After you’ve downloaded our 147 page guide (we don’t call it Truly Monumental for nothing) you may want someone to hold your hand as you read it. And because that might get a little weird, you can watch this Webinar instead (thanks to OpenView Labs). It’s the 45 minute run down of our 147 page guide and it walks through the key takeaways of community building including the tools, the process, and the measurement.


Step Three: Download this Slide Deck

In addition to the guide and Webinar above, this slidedeck is the play-by-play of the key takeaways in our guide (and it’s what I walk through in the Webinar). Throughout the deck you’ll notice some references to pages in the guide where you can get additional details and information.

This deck also has a few new things in it that are not in our guide like how to use the SMART framework to define goals (starting on slide 35) and an approach we’ve been using for buy-in (starting on slide 84) that can help better communicate the expectations that come along with the phases of community.


Send Us Your Questions

We spend a lot of time testing and determining what really helps businesses build their brands and communities online. We’d love to answer any specific questions or help you solve any unique challenges you’ve been facing. Please feel free to reach out to me or the Mack Web team on Twitter, or certainly contact us here. We look forward to having you in our community.

 

Social Meta Tags on WordPress for Regular People

By | Miscellany, Social Media, Web Marketing | 3 Comments

Mack Web is now Genuinely. Learn more.

– –

I’m no expert at SEO, but I do know enough about the subject to not make a fool of myself. So when I read Cyrus Shepard’s recent post about incorporating meta tags to optimize content for social media, I had conflicting reactions. On one hand, I knew we had to put that into practice for ourselves and all of our clients. On the other, I felt anxious because it looked like alien speak to me. I didn’t even know where to start with putting the code templates into place on our own site using WordPress.

The first thing I did was seek the advice and help of someone who was much more knowledgeable about SEO: Mack Web’s own Tyler Brooks. If he hadn’t helped, I probably would have been stuck in the “crying and pulling out my hair” phase.

If you’re anything like me, keep reading – this post will help you immensely by giving you a step-by-step guide to implementing social media meta tags into your WordPress site. If you’re a full-fledged SEO, go and read Cyrus’s post instead. 


Why are social media meta tags so important?

Social media meta tags make your content look better on social media. You can control how your post or update shows up in news feeds. And handsome social media updates make your content more appealing.

[box]

Before:

Mack Web Tweet - Before

After:

Mack Web Tweet - After[/box]

Meta data allows you to tell social media platforms how titles, images, and more should show up in the newsfeeds on those sites. Rel=publisher and rel=author also are on this list because those two tell Google+ to link your site to your company page and your posts to your profile, respectively. Using meta data on social media (which also shows up in searches) shows potential readers more information such as author byline, description, and images so they are more apt to click on your content.

Another example of social media tags in the wild.

Another example of social media tags in the wild.


What you need

The first thing is to download the Yoast plugin – this plugin made everything easier. Also, I’m talking here about doing this with a WordPress backend (so you’ll need admin access). Without this plugin or WordPress, you’ll need to go to Cyrus’s post, with its assumed coding knowledge, to do any of this.


How-to: rel=publisher

First a word on why having Google+ links to your site are important. These links will help you get indexed more quickly and establish your company’s online authority. This can only help boost reach and search rankings for your company.

Now on to the actual tutorial:

  1. Go to SEO in the left-hand navigation on your WordPress site’s backend.
  2. Click Social under SEO.
  3. Go to the Google+ tab and you’ll see where you can put in the right information.

There is another way to add the rel=publisher code by adding it directly into the site theme. Yoast should work fine, but in our case, the plugin didn’t work. If Yoast works for you, do it that way because it will be loads easier.

This is the rel=publisher code you need to put in in your site’s header if you’re doing it manually:

[box]<a href=”https://plus.google.com/yourpageID” rel=”publisher”></a>[/box]

Now you need to point your Google+ company page to your site as well. This one is decidedly easier than adding code:

  1. Go to your G+ page. Click the Manage Page button if you’re logged in on your personal account.
  2. Go to Edit Page, then About.
  3. Go down to Add Your Website and put in your website URL there.

Once you’ve added the code in and updated your G+ page, test it with Google’s structured data testing tool. You should see the magic words, “Publisher markup is verified for this page” if it worked. If it didn’t work, the best advice I can give you is to remove all the code and start again.

[box][/box]

How-to: rel=author

Before I get too far into rel=author, I must mention there’s been threat of an authorshipocalypse recently. More data needs to be reviewed before anything conclusive can be said about whether it’s related to authors themselves or is site-specific. For now, I’d recommend adding authorship to your content, as like rel=publisher, it also adds to your social authority and reach.

[box][/box]

To connect the individual G+ pages of your contributors (e.g. your employees) to their content on your site, here’s what you do:

    1. Go to the backend of WordPress.
    2. Find Users in the left-hand navigation and select that.[box]wordpress-users tab[/box]
    3. Click on each individual user and scroll down to the Contact Info section.
[box][/box] 4. Copy the person’s G+ profile page link – it’ll look like this example link: http://plus.google.com/+AyeletGolz.
5. Paste the link into the Contact Info’s Google+ line on WordPress. [box]

[/box] 6. Save and you’re done with that part.
[box]

[/box]7. Make sure to test it with Google’s testing tool again, but this time plug in the link to one of your blog posts and then your Google+ page link in the author verification box. This is what success looks like:


How-to: social media meta tags

Yoast will be your best friend for this next part. To add the rest of the social media meta tags, you can either watch this handy video or follow the written instructions below the video:

1. Go to the left navigation and click on SEO and then Social under that.

[box] [/box]2. In the Facebook tab, check the checkbox “Add Open Graph meta data.”

[box][/box]

3. Select Save Changes.
4. Now move on to the Twitter tab and check the checkbox “Add Twitter card meta data” and save changes.
5. You will already have updated the Google+ tab with the rel=publisher information.


How-to: Twitter Cards

Twitter cards allow you to add media (such as images or video) to your content links and those bits of media show up then on Twitter.

[box][/box]

Now that you’ve got the social meta tags up on your site, you have a few final steps to do:

1. Go to the Twitter validator site and validate the meta tags you placed on your site.
2. First log in with the Twitter profile connected to your site.

[box][/box]

3. Decide on which Twitter card you’d like to validate. You can pick more than one, but you’ll have to go through this process each time to validate the different type of cards. Here are the cards you can validate:

  • Summary: This is what you’ll want to validate first, especially if you have a blog or lots of written content on your site that you plan to share. This card offers readers a preview of your content before they click on the link.
  • Product: This card is specifically for highlighting products and providing details about those products.
  • Photo: This gives a preview of an image.
  • Summary Large Image: This is a mix of the Summary and Photo card – it shows a summary and a large image (see screenshot to get an idea of what this will look like).
  • Player: This is for video and audio playback within the tweet.
  • App: This card is relevant for mobile apps.

In this example, I’ll show you how to validate a Summary Twitter card. Once you’ve selected the Twitter card you want to validate, click on the Validate & Apply tab.

[box][/box]

1. You’ll be asked to enter your URL – pick any random post from your blog and enter that URL into the field.

[box][/box]

2. On the next screen, select the Request Approval button.
3. All done!

Your approval should be done quickly and an approval confirmation will be sent to the email associated with that Twitter account. If you get a screen that says you’ve timed out, go back to the Validate & Apply screen and apply again. Sometimes it’s just finicky.


How-to: Pinterest Rich Pins

If you use Pinterest a lot, you need to validate your rich pins. Here’s how you do it:

1. Go to the rich pin validator page.
2. Grab a link to a random blog post on your site and plug that in the field on the validator screen.

[box][/box]

Validate your rich pins on Pinterest.

3.Click the Validate button.
4. On the next screen, click Apply Now.
5. You’ll get a screen that shows you your URL – you’ll want to make sure you select HTML tags here.
6. Click Apply again.
7. Pinterest also will send you an email to the Pinterest account holder’s email when your application has been approved, which should be in a few days.


Test, Test, Test

The last thing you’ll want to do once you have all of your applications approved is test. The different platforms have different testing sites.

For Facebook, test using the Facebook debugger. It’ll look like this when it’s integrated successfully:

[box][/box]

On Twitter, you’ll want to go to the validator site and use the Try Cards tab. It’ll look like this when you’ve done everything right:

[box][/box]

And lastly, you can test Google+ with the rich snippets tester. Plug in a link from a random blog post on your blog and see what happens. At the very least, it’ll show you if authorship and publisher status are working for the blog. Plus, it’s preview feature is nice to see how your post will look like on Google search results. Tweak as needed.

[box][/box]

You now have all the tools to rock social media meta tags (without touching coding at all) and make sure your content looks amazing on social media.

Are you ready to put social media meta tags into play on your site? Let us know your thoughts on social media meta tags in the comments below.

Onwards and Upwards – 2013 in Review

By | Building Community, Data and Analytics, Miscellany, SEO, Social Media, Web Marketing | No Comments

onlywayoutisthrough

One of the best things about having a blog is that it becomes a natural archive of everything you’ve ever written. Better yet, it holds the story of the transformation and evolution of your company.

I am tremendously grateful for the prosperity and lessons that 2013 brought. We saw tremendous growth not just in our team, but in our reach. We continued to hone our focus, seek our passion, and experience first hand the rewards that come when you invest in your own brand and community.

What follows are some of our most visited posts of 2013 and the story that they tell of our growth over the past 12 months.

Measuring Community: KPIs and Social Media Metrics for Community Building

We’ve had many pivotal moments in this company over the last couple of years and this post was one of them. Tyler wrote  Measuring Community: KPIs and Social Media Metrics for Community Building as a start on our quest to answer the recurring question of return on investment (ROI) earned from social media. Tyler continued this conversation with Our Experience With See, Think, Do – A Reporting Framework and you can look forward to more in the days to come. This topic will be a priority on our blog as we continue to add value to the discussion throughout 2014.


This Job (as an Entrepreneur)

I am inherently an extremely positive person. I constantly exude energy and passion. I dwell in possibility. And normally that’s what I write about when I share my experiences of growing this company.

2013 was a test of my optimism. It challenged my endurance, my commitment, and my spirit. This Job (as an Entrepreneur) divulges the personal and mental struggle I sometimes face as a mom and CEO of a growing company. This was a risky one for me to write, and I’m glad I did.


More than you Ever Wanted to Know About Building Online Communities

2013 began with my very first post on building community. Over the course of the year I continued with 5 more posts that provided all kinds of details and goodness to help businesses understand the benefits of and grow their very own online communities. In order to make those posts easily accessible, I put together More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Building Online Communities, a curated post of every community building resource I’ve written on the Moz blog.


Our Guide to Building Online Communities is Finally Here

The biggest milestone we’ve ever had in the history of our company’s existence was when we launched our community building guide. I’m really proud that we were able to mark our 10th year with this achievement. We knew people needed it and we knew it would be awesome but we had no idea how well received it would be (more than 3,100 downloads to date).

Our Guide to Building Online Communities was the final post in a video promotion series we had put together to promote the guide (or ‘Arthur’ as we so fondly refer to it). Certainly the guide was a huge accomplishment and so was the fact that we were finally experimenting with video. Sort of a buy one, get one free of achievement.


4 Flat Design Takeaways and How You Should Use Them

What I love most about the fact that 4 Flat Design Takeaways and How You Should Use Them made the list of our most visited posts from 2013 is that it was written by Nat. By the middle of the year we had all agreed to contribute to the blog, but of all of us, Nat was the most reluctant. As a designer, she didn’t recognize the strength she had in writing.

It has been incredibly refreshing to have Nat’s design knowledge on our blog. She too has had a remarkable journey this past year with starting grad school, embracing flexible work hours, and stepping up her illustrating skills. Everything that Nat writes is definitely worth a read.


Our Experience with See, Think, Do – A Reporting Framework

In 2013 we did a whole lot of testing. Throughout the year we had iterated many different versions of reporting with our clients in an attempt to effectively communicate the value of what we do. Our Experience With See, Think, Do – A Reporting Framework was a big victory for us. Adapting Avinash’s framework for use at Mack Web was a breakthrough in our approach and certainly in effectively presenting how our efforts (heavily weighted in content and social media) affect the entire brand, revenue and all.


How We Accomplished (big) Goals with Content & Social Media Marketing (in just 10 months)

I wrote How We Accomplished (big) Goals with Content & Social Media Marketing (in just 10 months) in 2012 when we first began seeing the positive results of making ourselves a client. With the use of content, social, and email marketing along with SEO and concerted offline efforts, Mack Web was quickly gaining traction and momentum in the industry. It’s neat to see that this post was one of our most visited in 2013 as we are still making Mack Web a priority and it continues to pay off.


Make Friends not Followers: Targeting the Right People on Social Media

One of the biggest contributors to our growth in the latter part of 2013 was when we pushed toward that T-shaped specialization and invited an experienced Social & Community Strategist to join our team. Ayelet spearheaded a bunch of valuable efforts for our community and industry last year.  Make Friends not Followers: Targeting the Right People on Social Media was a delightful collaboration of interviews with several community managers from some of the best companies in the industry to determine their best approach for making proactive  friends instead of just passive followers.


On Processes and Predictability

I’ve always had a strength in systems and process development. I think it comes from the many years of teaching I endured. Because of this, I continually work with the team to develop systems and processes that will make our work more enjoyable, efficient, and certainly pave the way for the team to come.

In 2012, we threw out a whole lot of systems and processes. By the end of the year, I felt like giving up as nothing seemed to stick. Then finally, toward the end of  2013, something changed and our systems and processes started working.

Tyler is our minimalist. He’s always asking why and looking for ways to reduce effort and maximize efficiency. When he  wrote On Processes and Predictability to provide his take on the need and importance of process, I knew we were making progress.


Not Remotely as Expected

It’s quite fitting that we end our year in review with Not Remotely as Expected.  In 2013, Courtney, our beloved Content Strategist and voice of the Mack Web brand, decided to move to Chicago. At first we discussed keeping her on as a contractor, thinking that her relocation meant she couldn’t contribute as a full-time member of our team. As her move got closer, I realized I had overlooked the possibility of her remaining on our team, fully in-tact, remotely.

The way we work is changing. Everything from productivity to balance and how work is ingrained in our lives. We’ve been learning to adapt and evolve in a lot of ways here at Mack Web, and allowing for a flexible work environment this year has been such a benefit. We are passionate about the work we do and diligent about the people we work with. There’s no denying that our work lives are part of our lives as a whole and so learning to blend and balance the different parts is a natural part of caring for our incredible team as we grow.


What a journey running this company continues to be. Always so much to do and even more to learn. Maybe it’s the fresh taste of the New Year, but I’ve got a feeling that 2014 is going to be a great one. We wish you all of the abundance, joy, and satisfaction you can possibly handle.

Our Experience with See, Think, Do – A Reporting Framework

By | Building Community, Data and Analytics, Social Media, Web Marketing | No Comments

This report, by its very length, defends itself against the risk of being read. – Winston Churchill

Ahhh… reports. Those things that come at the beginning of every month when we look to see what worked, what didn’t, and what needs to be changed.

I’ve always struggled with creating reports. Because it’s so easy to get so complicated so quickly. Many of our clients don’t need all the figures (or have their own logins to the analytics accounts) so our reports need to actually be helpful and not just a collection of numbers. Poorly constructed reports can easily get too long or raise questions that are entirely irrelevant to the conversation.

Thus we set out on a quest to find the best format and framework which allows us to show our value, give the client an accurate picture of their current and past situations, and to make the data both easy to understand and actionable.

We tried a variety of formats over the past several months – usually with a focus on dividing each of the metrics up by channel. For example, we’d group visits from social, goal completions from social, and ecommerce values for social. Then we’d do the same thing for organic traffic, paid search, and email. And although this seemed to be the logical way to break things out, we were missing a lot of the picture.

After all, we usually don’t see tons of conversions via social. Did that mean that our time was being wasted on social media? We don’t think so, but it was hard to show any value with those kind of numbers. Plus, if you compared social to something focused on direct sales (like PPC), the conversion rate was so far off we’d just get depressed. But we knew that fundamentally, social media is a different animal than PPC.

PPC should always be converting quickly. Social media on the other hand is much more interactive. Although you want users to convert eventually, judging social by conversions alone isn’t exactly fair. If most businesses honestly used this metric, there would be virtually no brands on social media.

Thus we faced our challenge. We needed to find a framework or system that allowed us to break out our value by more than just mere conversions. Mack Web is as much a branding agency as we are a marketing agency. Although we don’t do branding in the traditional sense (logo design, taglines, etc.), we help companies translate their brands online to create a unified presence that builds trust, inspires confidence, and develops community. How do we measure that?

Branding vs. Direct Selling

The first step in the journey was to differentiate our efforts. Virtually all marketing efforts fall into one of two categories – either they are a branding effort or a direct selling effort. Branding efforts help build you a reputation. They make a deposit of trust with your customers and potential customers. GoPro, Red Bull, and Chipotle are all examples of companies who have taken their brand seriously over the past few years and worked to develop a strong following and reputation.

On the other hand, you have direct selling efforts. These efforts aren’t focused on impacting the brand, but instead make a play straight for the customer’s wallet. Most of the time direct selling is the goal of paid ads (online and offline) as well as a majority of traditional SEO efforts. Because direct selling has received a bad rap over the years, many modern firms have basically relabeled this term growth hacking. Regardless of what you call it, the goal is the same: get people to give you money as quickly as possible.

The Problem:

Our problem was that, while we were doing some “growth hacking” (direct selling) for our clients, most of our time was spent building a brand. We’re in this for the long game, not just the immediate gains. But our reporting and key performance indicators (KPIs) only reflected the direct selling mentality. As a result, we were shortchanging ourselves and our clients. In the words of Avinash, we were trying to judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree. And we wondered why we were not getting the desired results?

The Solution: See, Think, Do

In the middle of this problem, I stumbled upon a podcast where Avinash breaks down his See, Think, Do Framework (Ok, seriously…go back and click that link. And then read it. All of it. You’ll be glad you did).

see_think_do_current_marketing_focus-1

This framework is fundamentally different in that it acknowledges that sometimes people aren’t willing to buy. Sometimes they are just shopping, looking, investigating their options, and figuring out what brands they’re interested in working with. As a marketer, you have the opportunity to engage with these people long before (and long after) they make their first purchase. However, using typical reporting and conversion based metrics, you don’t count any of these interactions. Most sites typically convert less than 2% of overall visits, so you’re judging your entire marketing effort on those 2% of people who may convert at any given time.

What about all the rest of the efforts? What about the brand and community building pieces? What about the interactions on social media? How do you measure all of those “non-conversion” endeavors?

The best solution we found is the See, Think, Do framework. We’re beginning to implement it company wide. This framework puts people who are not yet customers into one of the three categories: See, Think, or Do.

See:

The See category is for people who may at some point in the future be interested in purchasing your product. For a consumer product, this could be a huge potential audience. For more niche markets, the pool can shrink significantly, but this is still generally the broadest category that you’ll target. Almost all of the KPIs (which we’ll break down in detail later in the post) reflect branding. They are simply getting your brand in front of consumers without expecting them to purchase anything right now.

Think:

The Think category is a little harder to define because it is a hybrid of both branding and selling. People in the Think category are likely to buy a product soon and are actively looking, but may not quite be ready to purchase. This is the investigating category. They are researching, digging, and looking into options. For low priced products (like groceries) the Think phase may literally last for seconds while standing in a store aisle or while shopping on your site. For larger purchases (such as an automobile), this category can last for months. Users are comparing your product with competitors and trying to find the best option.

Although the Think category is harder to define than the See or Do categories, much of the opportunity lies here. This is where product focused marketing can really be valuable. They are thinking about purchasing something specific, but may need some more information before making a decision. Sometimes they don’t just need information on your product, but they want to find out the kind of company you are and whether you stand behind your offering.

Do:

The Do category is what traditional conversion-based reporting measures. The Do category is full of people who are ready and willing to make a purchase. Most site optimizations and ad campaigns are focused on people in this category. When marketers use A/B testing or other site optimization techniques, they are trying to maximize the number of users in the Do category who actually make that purchase. These efforts are both valuable and important, but to be truly effective (especially for larger brands) they should be part of the overall marketing strategy, not stand-alone efforts.

Metrics and KPIs:

Instead of choosing one key metric (like conversions) to obsess over, we made a list of the key metrics we wished to track that we feel best reflect our efforts in each of the three categories. Although many of these aren’t perfect metrics, they are a great way for us to attempt to communicate how our efforts are impacting each of the three categories.

See

  • Conversation
  • Amplification
  • Applause
  • Natural social shares
  • % of non-branded SEO traffic
  • Number of new visits (% of new visits)

Think

  • Bounce Rate
  • Page Depth
  • Per Visit Goal Value (Client specific, depends on micro conversions that they have)
  • Click-through rate for social sources
  • Branded SEO traffic

Do

  • Visitor Loyalty
  • Funnel Abandonment Rate
  • Conversion Rate
  • Revenue!
  • Form Submissions
  • Phone Calls

Inside and Outside:

Since we’re using these metrics to track our efforts internally, we’re also starting to format our reports to fit this framework. By utilizing this framework, we take the focus off of one metric (conversions) and instead use the data to paint a whole picture of how our efforts are improving (or not improving) engagement in each of these categories.

Putting these types of metrics in our reports is also a subtle way of helping us change our client’s perspectives. By helping them understand how we are impacting the business as a whole, we can begin to help them think in the holistic context of marketing for their business rather than an obsessive focus on the bottom line.

So far I feel that our reports more accurately reflect our efforts and our desires for our clients. Furthermore, I believe they will help build trust between our clients as we focus on a few key metrics in each category and allow us to not be distracted by the overwhelming amount of data modern analytics programs offer. Only time will tell.