Near the end of the year, I was invited to attend the Grow Your Business With Digital Marketing event, arranged by the Northumbria Enterprise and Business Support (NEBS) and held at the Northern Design Centre. This event focussed on the effective use of Google‘s AdWords and Analytics products, as well as business support opportunities offered by NEBS, such as their graduate internship program.
Introduction to the event was handled by none other than my start-up mentor, Graham Baty, Enterprise Manager at the Northumbria Business Start-up Hatchery. Also in attendance were Cissie Tsang, our Enterprise Officer – who I got to speak to briefly during the intermission – as well as Victor Ottaway, the Graduate Internship Manager at Northumbria University.
Wow – full house at our 'Grow your business with digital marketing' event! pic.twitter.com/cWdtMSTVCP
— Northumbria Uni Student and Graduate Enterprise (@NUEnterprise) December 12, 2016
Victor gave a brief but interesting talk about the support NEBS had given 126 small-medium enterprises (SMEs), by providing quality student interns and a salary subsidy of £4000 for up to 6 months (26 weeks) work. Impressively two-thirds of their graduates stay employed by the SMEs who choose to provide their internship, which proves the value and worth of such a scheme for both the employers and employees. Information on registering interest for the programme was given and I jumped at the chance to add my name to the list. While I don’t have full-time employees at present I do feel strongly about the importance of acquiring new talent, and I definitely intend to use this option in future if the opportunity arises.
The main event was, of course, Chris Simpson, founder of Karma Computing, Northumbria University graduate and example of a successful startup from the same hatchery I currently inhabit.
For the first half of the evening, Chris spoke about the importance of developing a measurable digital marketing strategy and setting up Google Analytics properly, so you can track your goals effectively. For example, if you make blog content to boost your exposure to potential clients, you can find out if the blog post you just spend hours crafting is bringing in any business for you.
The importance of targeted and measured campaigns was not new to me, as I had thoroughly enjoyed reading into this during the New Media Marketing module on my course. Memories of Gattiker, Jobber and Kotler, bubble in my mind. However, Chris added another, Aninashs Kaushik, author of the Digital Marketing Measure Model. Chris suggested reading it first to figure out your D.U.M.B. objectives; Doable; Understandable; Manageable;
Start with just one goal and focus on configuring it correctly said Chris, e.g. set a goal to track enquiry forms to completion. We do this by defining the goal in Google Analytics, setting a key performance indicator (KPI) for it and, most importantly, setting a target you can measure it against. Then, using the various tools, such as the live preview function or a plugin for Google Chrome, we can then test that the analytics are triggered when we visit the website ourselves. This means we can follow the customer journey and see how our analytics are collected as users browse our site.
For the second half of the evening, Chris dug deep on tracking. He explained that by linking Analytics and AdWords together we can send our goals and conversion data from Analytics into AdWords automatically. This would be the crux to better estimating the types of customers Google is going to target in our AdWords campaign. You can even track online clicks and attach them to enquiries (leads generated, meetings set up, etc.) in order to account for offline conversions. Say for example you have a contact form to generate leads; when you meet this client you should update your Analytics data to reflect a successful conversion, giving you better data for your future campaign.
Chris also wanted to clear up any confusion over keywords and explain how to use them effectively. His first tip, be as descriptive and specific with your keywords.
- SPECIFIC – exactly what you’re providing (service/product)
- HELPFUL -e.g. prices from £12.99 (transparent pricing)
- ACTION DRIVEN – e.g. “before they’re all gone” (scarcity principle)
Utilise the ‘Negative Keyword‘ list. This prevents AdWords from placing ads on keyword searches that you wish to avoid. The example he gave was rather amusing, involving a jewellery shop in Yorkshire that kept getting visitors who had been searching for Yorkshire cheeses. A quick look at the ‘Keyword Search Report’ and he figured out how people are wrongly arriving at the site. It only required him to add “cheese” to the negative keyword search for Google to know not to waste the advertising budget on the wrong audience.
He also stressed the importance of making sure you take the time to correctly target your audience through individual campaigns for each of your customer segments. Separate your business and consumer campaigns. Tie the call to action in your ad to the landing page for that campaign e.g. ads that state “contact us to find out”, should bring the customer straight to a contact us button or form. Don’t have a one size fits all advertisement. Be clear and concise.
At the end of the night, Chris took questions and one of the best answers he gave was on budgeting. His final advice:
- Budget at least £6 a day. By doing so you can call google associate to guide you through the setup, to give you pointers on your ad campaign.
- Be conversion focused – bid for conversions, not clicks or bids on keywords.
- Plan, budget, forecast and drive down the cost of acquisition over time.
As I mentioned, this event really got me thinking about digital marketing once again. It was good to see the powerful tools that were available to help me measure my goals, and all of it was free of charge! So the first thing I had to do when I got home was following Chris’ advice.
I opened up accounts for both Analytics and AdWords. I drafted an ad, just to get the feel for it and then took to implementing the analytics tool for my domain.
What was immediately apparent was how powerful these tools really were. Immediately I was overwhelmed with options, jargon and a list of other, compatible Google services that I should deploy to improve my Analytics account.
In honesty, I struggled at points, trying to wrap my head around utilising Google Tag Manager in conjunction with Analytics, in order to track the custom goals I had created using Kaushik’s measurement model.
However, I persisted in figuring it out and made decent progress the next day. This wasn’t something I alone had experienced. As I discussed this with others from the hatchery who had attended the event, it became apparent that most people opt to get someone to do this for them.
After a day’s work reading the documentation, following Chris Mercer‘s guide – over at Digital Marketer – and using the Tag Manager tools, I reached a point where I was near giving up. The tags I had created to measure my goals were firing, but no data was reaching my Analytics account. So, I left it. Two days later I checked the account and there it was. Data!
Attending this event and implementing Chris’s advice proved invaluable. It helped me understand how to implement these tools to my benefit and guided me to a digital marketing strategy that I can control. As a result, my understanding of SEO improved and I have a clearer understanding of online marketing techniques that are relevant to me.
Despite the time and effort required to get to grips with it all, this was easily one of the most immediate results I have gotten from a conference.