Wow, it’s January 2014 already! If you’re like me, 2013 was a fast-moving combination of wins, near-misses, regrets, accomplishments, failures and fun. Amongst it all, I hope you can look back and count 2013 as a pivotal year for your online strategy. Before we dive into 2014, I’m thinking of seven ways you could have, no make that should have, advanced your digital strategy.
1) Implemented a Tag Management System
I’ll start with this one; it’s a no-brainer. If you don’t have a Tag Management System in place yet, forget the other six items on this list and immediately go sign up for Google Tag Manager. It’s free, and it will save you countless hours and headaches in the future. It’s not the only good solution out there, but it’s a good place to start for 95% of businesses or organizations.
For more on Tag Management, check out these great posts: http://www.webanalyticsworld.net/category/tag-management
2) Planned a Migration to Universal Analytics
If you are using Google Analytics, you’ve undoubtedly heard about Google’s next generation framework dubbed Universal Analytics. It’s the first fundamental overhaul to the Google Analytics measurement model since Google purchased Urchin in 2005, and it will open the door for tons of great features in the future. Unfortunately, for many users, the value of Universal Analytics has not been made clear enough. While at the moment there are still some features missing that some GA users depend on (remarketing support, DFA integration, etc.), an upgrade already makes sense for many businesses. The simplified codebase, server-side options and ability to define and use custom metrics and dimensions make Universal Analytics appealing already.
Google has made transitioning to UA fairly easy, but there are still some coding changes required. If you’ve taken my advice on #1 and are utilizing a TMS, this shouldn’t be so bad. Go ahead and put a migration plan together for Q1 of 2013 and make it a priority to switch to UA. You’ll be able to quickly implement new features and functionality, including the oft-cited promise of tracking users across devices with the UserID override capabilities.
3) Executed a Smart PLA Strategy
It’s not much of a stretch to say that PLAs took over the SERPs in 2013. If you sell products online, but aren’t in the mix of Product Listing Ads, you missed the boat. PLAs offered merchants low CPCs and high conversion rates, but lately CPCs have been climbing fairly dramatically (53% increase since last year).
There is a difference, however, in having PLAs and having a smart PLA strategy. The default way of adding products to an AdWords account is actually very dumb, and it produces a lot of bad results for merchants. At this point, without a granular, product-specific PLA strategy, you may be underwhelmed with PLA performance. Smart merchants are using 3rd party tools and services to bid efficiently by inventory, category, profit margin and other key data points. Breaking out products efficiently into campaign and ad groups allows for greater control and precision bidding – just what SEMs are used to.
4) Advanced Your Remarketing Campaigns
You do have a remarketing program, right? OK, good. But how sophisticated is it? The best remarketing campaigns are built with highly dynamic designs, reach audiences across multiple platforms and are based on specific visitor behavior and time. If you are still throwing all visitors into one bucket called “All Audiences,” it’s time to take it to the next level.
5) Cursed Google for Taking Away Keyword Data
Ok, this won’t exactly “advance” your strategy, but it needs to be done, am I right? Moving on…
6) Developed a Custom Attribution Model
Attribution modeling used to be only for the elite: the 1-percenters. Not anymore. Many folks don’t even realize that there’s a pretty nifty Attribution Modeling Tool just waiting to be used in their own Google Analytics account! Yep, and it comes with seven built in models and the ability to create all kinds of exciting custom models. Further, in 2013 Google added the ability to integrate GDN display data to spice up those attribution models (see my earlier post about this here).
If you are still using Last Click, prepare to have coal in your stocking this year.
7) Invested in Conversion Rate Optimization
Acquiring traffic to a website has never been more difficult or expensive. On the SEO front, techniques that used to work don’t work as well anymore, and Google is methodically pushing organic results farther and farther down the page. On the paid side, CPC costs continue to rise and competition is fiercer than ever. As traffic acquisition becomes harder and harder, it’s surprising that more businesses aren’t focusing their attention to Conversion Rate Optimization. For most organizations, it is much more affordable to increase their conversion rate by 20% than it is to increase their total traffic by 20%. But did you know that for every $92 we spend on acquiring traffic, only $1 is spent helping that traffic convert to a lead or a sale?
Our clients are finding CRO drives tremendous value across all of their online channels, and at a fraction of the cost it would take to produce similar gains through acquisition alone. If you missed this opportunity in 2013, let next year be the year you start a Conversion Rate Optimization journey.