Measuring Content Marketing: Don’t Wind Up Someplace Else

Content marketing

Image credit: celebquote.com

Opening season is around the corner so we decided to turn to one of baseball’s greats for a little Yogi-ism. As we mentioned in our previous article, it’s important to avoid being one of those businesses that is blogging, email blasting and using social media just to follow the crowd. You really must be looking at metrics or some means of tracking your efforts. There is much to gain by understanding how your investment is performing, or not. And as Yogi so succinctly puts it “if you don’t know where you are going…”

Measurement does require effort on your part to establish your business goals then create a content marketing plan that supports them. We’ve come up with few questions to get you started building your plan and measuring the return on your investment.

What are we trying to achieve?

Being clear about your business goals is the best place to start. Establish a goal such as to generate more leads, sell new products or services, or build your email list. However, as we mentioned in our previous post about vanity metrics, be careful not to mistake ‘increase Facebook Likes’ for a business goal. Focus instead on the next level up like increasing conversions from your Facebook traffic. And always follow the SMART method of establishing any goal.

Who is going to care?

If you can’t answer this question easily and definitively then stop right here. Lack of a thorough understanding of your audience is probably the number one mistake that businesses make in content marketing.  Research is required in order to know your audience well.  Most business skip this step. Throwing something, like content, against the wall to see if it sticks constitutes a grand experiment and even grander waste of your time.  Research the characteristics that make up their segment, look at what they are commenting on, and base your content on their interests and demographics.

How will we know when we get there?

This is the point where focusing on the details really matters.  First, determine your channels of distribution such as social media, blog, email or PPC.  And remember, not all distribution channels are right for every business or industry. Then select your tools for measuring each channel such as Google Analytics or tools that are inherent to the channel itself.  Finally, by combining the available data with your goals, define the key performance indicator for the channel such as how you define a conversion, lead, etc.

Whew.  That’s a lot to determine and measure.  But not to worry, it’s what we do.  If you want to avoid “winding up someplace else” give us a call.

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Content Marketing Without Measuring? Big Mistake

content marketing metricsPutting effort into content marketing without taking time to measure your results is, well, a waste of time.  Please don’t be one of those businesses that is blogging, email blasting and using social media just to follow the crowd. You really should be looking at metrics or some means of tracking your efforts.  There is so much to gain by understanding how your investment is performing, or not.  It really is about ROI and it really isn’t that difficult to track.  Check out these methods for understanding your content marketing performance.

Vanity metrics

Although not the best way to measure, vanity metrics will give you a base level understanding of your content marketing ROI.  What are vanity metrics? They are as the name implies somewhat shallow way to measure response. Below are a couple of popular vanity metrics and why they are only partially effective measurement tools.

Traffic Good to know: the number of visitors to your site. Not as good: Unless you know what they did once they got there this number tells only part of the story.

Social shares Good to know: this number indicates that a visitor passed your information on to their network.  Not as good: still don’t know if you actually got anything out of that action relative to leads, sales, etc.

Search ranking Good to know: important to understanding that your site is being ranked above other sites or resources.  Not as good: still don’t know if your business actually benefited from that ranking.

Business metrics

Aligning your content marketing efforts to support your business goals is a more effect way to realize ROI. Below are a couple of examples of business metrics that can be tied to your content marketing.

Number of leads Good to know: define your daily, weekly or monthly goals. Better: now that traffic number means more when you see an increase.

Revenue generated Good to know: look for a connection between leads and actual sales.  Better: now you know that your visitors took action.

Customer lifetime value Good to know: understand how much your customer is worth to your business.  Better: connect content marketing to repeat business to see if it’s part of what is bringing them back.

Measurement does require effort on your part to establish your business goals then create a content marketing plan that supports them.  In our next post we’ll have a list of things to consider as you build your content marketing plan.  Need some help with both the plan and its execution?  That’s what we are here for – give us a call today.

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Spring Cleaning: 7 Must-do Website Content Updates

Ahh, spring.  March 20th marks the vernal equinox signaling the official start of website content clean upspring. Time to clean out, reorganize, and refresh your environment. And that includes your website content. Even if you’ve recently updated your website, an annual ‘spring cleaning’ of the content can have a significant impact on your business.  You may not need a full-blown audit but we recommend the following seven updates to breathe some fresh air into your website.

  1. Review for uniqueness.  Make sure all your pages contain as much unique, valuable content as possible. There’s a lot of competition out there for the search engine bots’ attention.  Make the best use of what you already have.
  2. Update to engage.  A well-maintained site will make your visitor’s experience better by removing outdated or repetitive information.  Remember: visitors want fast,  accurate and easy to navigate.
  3. Update to stay fresh.  Last March we discussed the importance of keeping your website updated.  Search engines and visitors notice when information is outdated which hurts your business from both directions.
  4. Confirm your links.  Nothing is more annoying than to click on a live link that leads to nowhere.  Review every link on every page to ensure functionality and relevance. Broken links impact traffic.  Remember: visitors want fast, accurate and easy to navigate.
  5. Clean up the details. Sales or promotions that have ended, products or services that you no longer offer, employees that have moved on and job postings that have been filled all need to be cleaned up.  The best option is to redirect your visitor to a new page, other than your home page, whenever possible.
  6. Make sure your news is new.  Many websites have a company news or events page. If your most recent article or post is more than three months old it’s stale and no longer earns the right to be called ‘news’. Nor does it earn the attention of the search engine bots.  If you are short on company news look for industry updates or local business news to add to your mix.
  7. Improve, improve, improve.  Virtually every business website can be improved through a fresh look at the content. Look at old, neglected pages, blogs or content and ask: how can we make it better? Whether a minor touch up or a major overhaul is required, your efforts will be rewarded.

So be honest…how long has it been since your website got a little well deserved TLC?  Six months? Or maybe more like six years?  It’s ok.  We’ve seen worse.  Just get your spring cleaning scheduled with us today.  Let us help you improve, improve, improve your website, your traffic and your business.

 

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EMV and Liability Shift: What Every Merchant Needs To Know

Smart Credit cardThe conversion to EMV chip or smart card technology is barreling down on the U.S. who is admittedly a bit behind the rest of the world. We touched on that in our last post on EMV and the global perspective.  But the biggest implication for banks and merchants by far is the liability shift.  With the impending ‘shift’ taking effect in October of this year it’s important to understand the potential it has to affect your business and you.

What is Liability Shift?

Bottom line: the issue is with the equipment. The issuer (bank, credit union or other financial institution) or merchant who does not support EMV assumes liability for counterfeit card transactions.  So when October comes, if you are still using non-EMV compliant devices and accept transactions made with EMV-compliant cards you assume liability for all transactions that are found to be fraudulent. If you have the new chip and PIN technology but the bank hasn’t issued your customer the EMV chip card, the bank is liable. If both merchant and customer have EMV chip technology then the credit card company bears the liability, as it is today. Whew. Got it?

What about card not present transactions?

Credit card transactions processed by phone or online, or card not present transactions, are now at the highest risk of fraud. In fact, the reduction in fraudulent card transactions with a card present has dropped significantly but seems to have driven up the incidence of CNP fraud. And unfortunately, merchants currently bear the costs of CNP fraudulent transactions through chargebacks. Today, however, with increased merchant enrollment in 3D Secure protocol programs and the evolution of technology such as tokenization, fraud and CNP chargebacks are being significantly reduced.  At this point, EMV standards and deadlines appear to apply only to POS transactions.

Don’t wait for the looming frenzy

Your current point of sale technology will require upgrade to an EMV capable device for reading the microchip embedded on the EMV cards.  If you have multiple POS devices your best option is to create a conversion plan and include training for your team. With the exception of a few major brands including Walmart, Target and Sam’s Club, most retailers seem to lack a sense of urgency to convert.  Our advice: don’t get caught in the inevitable frenzy later this year. Get started right now. The new devices are capable of reading both microchip and magnetic stripe so no need to worry about missing a sale.

The details are complex but the conversion is simple. And processing a transaction is simple as well.  So don’t let the details get in your way.  Call us today to discuss your POS system and your options to beat the deadline.

 

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EMV Chip Cards: A Global Perspective

The discussion around EMV technology has been going on for several years.  We posted our thoughts last year about the October 2015 deadline and the larger issue of server compromise.  Any steps we take globally to curb identity and credit card theft are good steps.  The upward trends and supporting data seems to indicate a need to push forward. Take a few minutes to read the statistics in this article and let us know where you think the focus should be placed in order to keep pace.

The U.S. is lagging behind

An article on EMV in Payments Leader gets right to the heart of the matter:

There are an estimated 1.24 billion payment cards and 15.4 million POS terminals currently in use, most of them in other countries. Making global financial transactions work across many cards and devices are smart chips embedded within new EMV-compliant credit and debit cards. These chips make interfacing with the various POS terminals possible. However, the EMVCo standard has yet to be adopted globally, a situation that the Payment Networks’ EMV migration roadmap for the US intends to correct. To date, Europe, Canada, Latin America, and the Asia/Pacific region are all well on their way with migrating from the legacy magstripe standard to EMV chip card technology. The U.S., the world’s single largest user of payment cards, has just begun the process. However, the potential impacts of being the last bastion of magstripe technology is forcing U.S. financial entities to take the idea seriously.

Courtesy of EMVco

As with any global initiative, it takes time, plenty of cooperation and of course, money.

Card fraud is on the rise

In the U.S. alone card fraud related costs are estimated at $8.6 billion annually. Experts believe that figure will exceed $10 billion in 2015. And this increase can be directly linked back to the U.S. not making significant progress with chip card adoption.  Dramatic increases in mobile payments can also be linked to this continued upward trend.  Again, from Payments Leader:

In 2010, the total gross dollar volume of mobile payments in the U.S. alone was $16 billion; some experts expect this volume to rise to $214 billion by 2015. If ever there was a time to ensure compliance with a global chip-compatibility strategy that reduces fraud, it’s now. This is especially true in light of the fact that many countries are now considering banning traditional magnetic stripe cards, a technology standard in use for over 40 years.

Ready or not, here it comes

We wanted to emphasize the last line of the previous quote: “countries are now considering banning traditional magnetic stripe cards.”  Ready or not, the technology we’ve used for 40 years is being eliminated.  Card issuers are scrambling to get dual technology cards into the consumer wallets right now.  You may have already received a replacement card with both magnetic stripe and microchip. Now it’s the merchants turn to get ready.

In our next article, we’ll take a closer look at how this new chip card technology is impacting what has been termed ‘liability shift’ for card issuers and merchants alike.

Stay tuned.

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