Sandstorm Blog

Nick
Analytics, Analytics Strategy, Nick Meshes, Clickstream data, SEM

Analytics are now a standard piece to any project. Our society has evolved into a data-rich environment, allowing for greater consumer insights and in turn smarter analytics strategies. However, some businesses are approaching analytics as an afterthought and as a "nice to have" option. They put a great deal of work into setting up sites, landing pages, campaigns, etc, but are then only looking at analytics as simple measurements of success/failure and not the dynamic journey it should be.

Often times when setting up reporting tools, people take a “set it and forget it” approach. They establish an idea of what data they need, set up a dashboard and some notifications and then it is managed as time allows by someone whose main responsibilities are elsewhere in IT or Marketing. Worse, they don’t even configure the reporting tools and just go with the default settings. They essentially put it on autopilot, and it fails to take into account feedback and doesn’t allow room for shifting strategy due to changing goals.

An effective analytics strategy is a dynamic journey built around the analytical data where the strategy is adjusted accordingly to drive goals and conversions. It is a very agile process of frequent measurement, discovery, strategy, and course adjustment.

Recently, we worked with a client in their higher education industry who ran frequent email, SEM, display, and offline campaigns. As part of the project to help them redefine marketing strategy, we reviewed their analytics for clickstream (Google Analytics), search engine (AdWords), and member data (their CRM system). They were very concerned with increasing new leads, as well as monitoring the established leads down the funnel to drive sales conversions. They had a small marketing team with a wide variety of responsibilities and were looking for ways to measure success without requiring too much time from their team.

We did two things for them: provided analytics training and automated as much of the process as possible. In the training we gave them tools to eliminate unneeded information from their data stream and to track goals accordingly. With automatization we set up message reporting around goals and added attribution and valuation to maximize the mix of offline and online channels. Both of these tactics streamline the process allowing the team to spend less time pulling reports and more time to strategize around the results.

We acknowledge that people will be at different comfort levels with their analytics and data stream, but analytics will only work as hard as you do. Like other parts of business, you need to build an analytics strategy that not only defines goals but continually informs them. Once you have the strategy it is easy to set up a process to track, monitor and adjust your analytics strategy.
If you need help turning your analytics strategy into a dynamic journey, contact Nick at nick@sandtormdesign.com

 

This blog was posted by Nick on September 14, 2016.
Nick Meshes

About the Author

Nick Meshes

Nick is Sandstorm’s Director of Analytics and Technology. He’s boosting our quantitative focus. He’s busy increasing our capabilities in web analytics, website optimization testing, SEO, SEM, display advertising, business intelligence, and personalization.

THIS FILE WAS POSTED UNDER: 
this file was posted under: 
Bill Kurland
Digital Marketing Personalization, remarketing, retargeting, digital marketing stragety

I’d been browsing through Stephen King books on a popular e-commerce website. When I clicked over to a news article, an ad for The Gunslinger followed. I barely gave it a second thought when the same ad appeared in my Facebook feed. Then the emails started. For days after, the same ad haunted me everywhere I turned: no social network, email service provider or website was safe. Leave me alone, I shouted at my monitor, the room spiraling out of control. Leave me alone!

I’m being dramatic, but when marketing personalization goes wrong, the user experience gets creepy. When done right, personalized ads and emails provide a near one-to-one conversation between brand and customer. But get it wrong and “personalization” feels intrusive, alienating and leaves customers wondering who’s watching them.  

Relevance, not omnipresence

Consumers overwhelmingly desire—and expect—personalized ads.

  • More than 70 percent of consumers prefer ads tailored to shopping habits and their interests, according to an Adlucent study.
  • The same study found that three-quarters of consumers want more relevant ads that align with their needs and wants.
  • Marketers see 20 percent increases in sales on average when utilizing personalized ad journeys.
  • Conversions increase by 10 percent with personalized email messages, based on research conducted by Aberdeen.

The same studies show that consumers are willing to provide their private information, but expect relevant content in return. Unfortunately, digital marketers are doing a poor job of delivering on their side of the bargain. A Yahoo survey showed that only 37 percent of respondents found desktop ads relevant. Those numbers were even smaller for mobile and in-app advertising—30 percent and 27 percent, respectively.

Consumers also want a voice in the conversation: over 65 percent want the option of privacy controls, and almost 60 percent want ads based on information they proactively provide.

So, how do you develop unique, actionable messaging without crossing the line? Use these tips to create engaging conversations and avoid the creep factor.

1. Respect your audience

You want to show consumers that you understand their desires—not that you’re following them at every turn. Be implicit instead of explicit: imagery or copy that confirms a customer’s DMA is great, while creative that confirms you have their address information is too much.  

2. Know your channel

A personalized salutation is almost expected in email these days, but a digital ad is probably the wrong place to address your customers by name. Only 29 percent of consumers who completed a recent study said they would engage with ads containing personal information like their name. Go where your customers are engaging and give them the power to start a conversation.

3. Humanize your brand

Whether you’re B2B or B2C, there’s room for some personality in your brand communications. The goal of personalized marketing is to have a one-to-one conversation, and who wants to talk to someone without a personality? Whether you’re a Joker, a Dreamer, a Rebel or a Hero, let customers feel your personality.

4. Test and optimize

Even if you start with strong creative, its effectiveness will diminish as time goes on. A study conducted by ReTargeter found that clickthrough rates decrease by nearly 50 percent after five months. An A/B test can be a simple way to find the most effective creative and power optimization. Dynamic optimization can help achieve significant uplifts in conversions.

Sandstorm® is ready to help you develop a digital marketing personalization strategy that engages your customers, without creeping them out.

This blog was posted by Bill Kurland on July 11, 2016.
Bill Kurland, Copywriter

About the Author

Bill Kurland

Copywriter Extraordinaire

Nick
Analytics driving business

 

Enter the Clickstream

Web analytics tends to start with collecting and analyzing “clickstream” data - the information that can be collected directly from visitors to your webpages using javascript, cookies, images, or other tags that act as tracking codes. Here are 15 questions regarding your visitors (clickstream data) you can answer, examine, and visualize through website analytics tools like Google Analytics: 

  1. Where are visitors entering and exiting your site?
  2. How many people visit specific pages? What content is drawing the most attention?
  3. How many people immediately leave? Which content is failing to retain them?
  4. How many people are first-time or return visitors?
  5. How long do people stay on your site?
  6. Where are your visitors geographically located?
  7. What browsers, operating systems, devices, and screen sizes are they using?
  8. What keywords are driving people to your site through search? What pages are delivering search traffic? 
  9. How do visitors flow through your site? Are they efficient and inefficient paths? Do they see your intended message or offering?
  10. How much response does each call to action get?
  11. What referrers are directing visitors to your site? From which search engines (organic results or marketing campaign), social networks, blogs, web pages, etc? What content are they being directed to?
  12. How fast do your pages load? When and where are the peaks and lows?
  13. How are the specific goals you’ve defined in the analytics tools being met?
  14. How are your pay-per-click campaigns working?
  15. What additional demographic data is available for each of the questions above? 
     

That's great - But What Do I Do with It?

The answer to each of these questions can help you optimize the user experience, raise your search engines rankings, tailor your message expand your audience or focus on a specific segment, and build data-driven personalized relationships online.

The answers to these questions are often quite valuable to your business. Some are immediately apparent, such as the answer to “How much response does each call to action get?” Others, however, may seem to have less business value, at least at face value. For example, “why do I care where my web visitors are geographically located?”

To use an example, one of our clients has offices in three states. After reviewing their traffic sources, we identified a great deal of traffic from two states where they did not have offices. The visitors from these two states matched their target demographic too. So, analytics helped our client identify potential locations to expand their business. 
 

Building a Better Business

When it comes to data analytics, clickstream sources are often the most available to business owners. You can use these 15 questions to adjust your business strategy in an informed and insightful manner.

For a more comprehensive view of how you can use analytics, data-driven website optimization, and search engine, Sandstorm offers full consulting and implementation services that support and improve your marketing strategy.

This blog was posted by Nick on February 19, 2016.
Nick Meshes

About the Author

Nick Meshes

Nick is Sandstorm’s Director of Analytics and Technology. He’s boosting our quantitative focus. He’s busy increasing our capabilities in web analytics, website optimization testing, SEO, SEM, display advertising, business intelligence, and personalization.

THIS FILE WAS POSTED UNDER: 
this file was posted under: 
Brill Street Chicago Top Gen Y Employer Sandstorm Design

We are so excited to announce that — for the 3rd year in a row! — our UX agency is one of Brill Street's Top Chicago Gen Y Employers for 2012.

Here at Sandstorm, a Gen Y employee has the opportunity to shine doing what they do best and to be proud of it whether it be interactive marketing strategy, UX design or Drupal web development!

Our Warrior Spirit drives us to create compelling online experiences and cutting edge work — all while having loads of fun!

Inspired by the idea of giving back, this year the team came together to create an interactive holiday card inviting users to choose a charity for Sandstorm to donate towards. We were encouraged to make the card fun and, most importantly, to make it our own.

Sandstormers have the platform to do great work, to learn and grow, and to become part of a forward-thinking UX agency. It's a great place to work for everyone: generations X,Y, and the eventual (hopefully awesomely futuristic) Z!

This blog was posted by on January 29, 2013.
John Lombard

About the Author

John Lombard

John is an intern at Sandstorm.

this file was posted under: 
Karen

Sandstorm Design recently launched a health care web application for a large insurance company. The interactive experience educates users on Medicare health care coverage options. To offer this helpful tool to an even broader audience, the application has now launched in Spanish!

This blog was posted by Karen on April 22, 2011.
Karen Boehl

About the Author

Karen Boehl

Karen does a little bit of everything – webmaster, social media manager and search engine optimizer. She can most often be found on Twitter, in the Usability Lab, or happily buried in the Drupal admin menu.

Karen

Back in September, Kevin Thau, Twitter’s VP for business and corporate development, announced that Twitter is not a social network. This got a lot of buzz in the blog (and micro-blog) community, but clearing up the labeling of Twitter is most relevant for people not familiar with it. They're the ones who don't know what it is. And if you come into it with a social network/Facebook mindset, you’ll only get frustrated and feel disappointed. Only Facebook can do Facebook. You have to approach this part of your social media strategy with a Twitter mindset.

So, what is the Twitter mindset? What do you DO on Twitter? It's very simple:

  1. Share – Facebook is about sharing who you are, Twitter is about sharing what you’ve found. Use bitly, tinyurl or any of the other little link web sites to share the articles, blogs and web sites you like, and add a little comment about why.
  2. Reply – While it might not be a social network, Twitter is a social place. Engage in conversation. It’s fun and easy!
  3. Retweet – If you simply want to pass along a tweet you found interesting without adding a comment, click the retweet option. You can also retweet the traditional way, by copying and pasting it, and adding “RT @(insert author’s username)” in front. In the few characters that are left, add your own commentary.

The best advice is to just dive in. Once you see how others are tweeting, you’ll get it. And don’t forget to follow our Chicago marketing firm @SandstormDesign!

This blog was posted by Karen on January 26, 2011.
Karen Boehl

About the Author

Karen Boehl

Karen does a little bit of everything – webmaster, social media manager and search engine optimizer. She can most often be found on Twitter, in the Usability Lab, or happily buried in the Drupal admin menu.

Karen

It’s easy to love your job when you work for Sandstorm Design, and it’s even easier when the projects that come your way are for organizations that are working to make the world a better place – like The Cradle, an open adoption agency in Chicago. Along with giving them a fresh, new look, we also made their site easy to update by completing development in Drupal so that they can change their content regularly with current news, new waiting families, and new stories of success.

We loved working with The Cradle and being a part of helping birthparents, adoptive families, and adopted children come together to create their own unique family stories. We are so proud to launch this web site!

This blog was posted by Karen on .
Karen Boehl

About the Author

Karen Boehl

Karen does a little bit of everything – webmaster, social media manager and search engine optimizer. She can most often be found on Twitter, in the Usability Lab, or happily buried in the Drupal admin menu.

Karen

Sandstorm Design is proud to announce the launch of our second interactive health care web application. Federal employees have the opportunity to answer a series of questions and get a customized recommendation to help them find the right insurance plan. Along the way, learning moments are integrated throughout the experience, educating the user to make better decisions.

We love working with our clients as much as we love creating interactive tools to make people’s lives a little easier, and that’s why we’re so excited to launch this quick and easy-to-use web application to help Federal employees!

This blog was posted by Karen on October 22, 2010.
Karen Boehl

About the Author

Karen Boehl

Karen does a little bit of everything – webmaster, social media manager and search engine optimizer. She can most often be found on Twitter, in the Usability Lab, or happily buried in the Drupal admin menu.

Sandy
Medicare Application

After months of collaboration, health care education, Medicare explanation, web application development, voice over talent selection and a bit of instructional design, we are proud to announce the launch of an interactive health care web application to help users understand Medicare health care coverage options from a large insurance company. After going through the application, I feel confident I can help my parents through the Medicare process and explain the difference between A, B, D, gap and advantage. If you can't, and you know someone who is around 65 years old, you should send them to check it out. (There's closed captioning as well as the ability to increase the type, too.)

This blog was posted by Sandy on August 18, 2010.
Sandy Marsico, Founder & CEO

About the Author

Sandy Marsico

Sandy Marsico is the Founder & CEO of Sandstorm®, a next-generation brand experience agency that turns customer insights into engaging user experiences through our unique blend of strategy, UX design, user research, marketing technology and analytics.

Sandy

I love taking tests. Sounds weird, I know, but I love learning, and tests are a quick way for me to discover what I don't know and immediately pinpoints an area or two that I can improve on. And I found a website SEO tool that tests your website and gives you a grade. Sandstorm Design got 99/100!

When it comes to SEO and marketing your website, the high level concepts don't often change (write strong original content, continue to add to that content, attract quality links, etc). What does change are all the new things you can do to increase your odds that people will come back to your website and promote your content, which in turn drives more traffic. Of all the website SEO tools, I like Website Grader. (and no, they didn't pay for that link).

When I find a tool I like, I share it. And what I like most is that Website Grader put together in a very organized fashion what they look for in the analysis, what you can do to improve your website, and if you want more help, where to go. And it's free.

This blog was posted by Sandy on March 5, 2010.
Sandy Marsico, Founder & CEO

About the Author

Sandy Marsico

Sandy Marsico is the Founder & CEO of Sandstorm®, a next-generation brand experience agency that turns customer insights into engaging user experiences through our unique blend of strategy, UX design, user research, marketing technology and analytics.