Social media has come a long way from its early days of MySpace and “Top 10” friends. Today, there are dozens of social platforms to engage with and nearly 4 billion active social media users worldwide. No platform has made as drastic of a transformation as Facebook, which has evolved from a public diary for friends and family to one of the largest online advertising platforms and home to 50 million company pages.

Today, we share some of the latest and greatest Facebook and Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) features in 2021 that no marketer can afford to miss out on. 

Facebook Bulletin

Example of Facebook’s new feature, Facebook Bulletin

Example of Facebook’s new feature, Facebook Bulletin

Announced in June 2021, Facebook Bulletin is a new app from Facebook that allows creators to publish and share original content – and monetize said exclusive content to paying Facebook subscribers. With an elevated look and feel, Facebook Bulletin is meant to provide creators the opportunity to build a close-knit community and share their thoughts and expertise candidly. Bulletin content will be shared throughout the Facebook site, but each Creator page will live on a separate Bulletin app.

Not only will creators be able to write and share newsletters, articles, and other exclusive content, but they’ll have premier community capabilities through Bulletin as well. Using a combination of free or subscriber-only groups, livestreams, and live audio rooms, Facebook is looking to become the one-stop shop for building a brand.

Who can use Facebook Bulletin? Facebook defines creators as “individual journalists or subject matter experts not contractually bound to write exclusively for a platform or publisher.”

With the creation of Facebook Bulletin comes a host of opportunities for artists, writers, and influencers, but brands should still begin investigating business use cases as well. While you may not be able to own a branded company Bulletin, this new feature presents new avenues to explore in influencer marketing. Consider enlisting a creator as a brand ambassador for inclusion of your brand in their work. You can also begin to build relationships with creators to be one of the first to secure advertising or sponsorship opportunities in their content.

Alternatively, look internally for subject matter experts with interesting ideas to share. Bulletin could be the “next big thing” to send your thought leadership program to the next level.

Advertise on Instagram Reels

In late June 2021, Instagram announced that brands can now advertise on Instagram Reels. In case you missed it, Reels are Instagram’s attempt to compete for TikTok’s audience, allowing users to create short videos with a variety of fun add-ons such as transitions, sounds, and effects. Instagram has seen great success with Reels to date and is making a concerted effort to grow its Reels content and viewership, making advertising a natural extension.

Example of an Instagram Reel advertisement featuring a static image of model wearing jewelry

Example of an Instagram Reel advertisement featuring a jewelry brand

Example of an Instagram Reel advertisement for a cleaning and organization business

Example of an Instagram Reel advertisement for a service oriented business

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The great news is that creating Instagram Reels advertisements is attainable for any brand, of any size, in any industry thanks to its short length and flexibility. You can create Reel advertisements that are as simple as a static image. Brands can also repurpose existing materials, such as promoting content garnered from an influencer partnership, showing how a user might use your product in real life.

Why should marketers pay attention to Reels advertising? It has the potential to greatly influence your reach. Not only will these ads appear in the Explore page (similar to other ads on Instagram), but also when viewing Reels in the Reels tab or a user’s feed. With Reels being one of the most popular forms of content on Instagram currently, marketers would be remiss to not experiment with advertising on Reels.

Building Your Facebook Community – Now Easier

Screenshots detailing Facebook’s new Facebook Groups features for admins

Screenshots detailing Facebook’s new Facebook Groups features for admins

Facebook Groups are one of the few original Facebook features that has stood the test of time. And for good reason, it’s a great way to build and nurture a community on a highly saturated platform. Many brands can benefit from creating Facebook Groups to help build their community by offering more intimate discussions and sharing exclusive content such as articles, promotional offers, and livestreams. While Facebook Groups has the power to create brand super fans, the management of said communities is time intensive and difficult.

But now, Facebook has just introduced a new suite of tools to make Facebook Group management easier. Today, admins and moderators will have access to:

  • A full dashboard for an overview of your group and all the tools available
  • An “Admin Assist” tool that can automatically moderate conversations based on set rules, such as users who have had a Facebook account less than 6 months or any comments that contain explicit language.
  • A Conflict Alerts system, powered by machine learning, that notifies admins of potentially contentious or unhealthy conversations taking place.
  • A tool to slow down conversations, allowing admins to set time parameters on how often users can comment. The idea with this feature is to encourage users to think before they “speak”.
  • Member Summaries so that admins and moderators can track each user’s activity in the group, allowing you to identify both brand superfans and trouble makers.

Social media is constantly evolving, with new features, tools and trends emerging every day. If you need help staying up to date on what’s working in social media or are looking for fresh, creative social media strategy and execution, contact us.

Reporting is one of the most essential stages of any campaign — but only if you’re asking the right questions. Too often, we see reports that focus solely on “what happened?” without answering the questions “so what?” or “what’s next?” 

The goal of reporting is to use the data you’ve collected to make decisions

Data-driven reports should:

  • Focus on KPIs. Use secondary metrics to support your narrative, but don’t lose sight of your most important goals.
  • Help you understand the multichannel customer experience. Customers are using multiple channels to interact with your business, so your reports should help you parse out the impact of each channel.
  • Include insights and recommendations. If something is performing well, how can you double down on that tactic? If you’re not hitting your KPIs, what do you need to change? Stakeholders should walk away from the report ready to make decisions.

At CBC, we create actionable, data-driven marketing and PR reports for our clients using one of our favorite tools, Google Data Studio. 

What is Google Data Studio? 

Google Data Studio is a free web-based software program that allows users to create customizable reports and dashboards. Users can pull data from a wide variety of data sources with little to no coding skills required. Visualization of the data is made easy through tables, graphs, and scorecards that can be filtered and customized to fit your specific needs.

Monthly web analytics report in Google Data Studio

Monthly web analytics report in Google Data Studio

Why use Google Data Studio?

  • Easily connect to your data

One of the top benefits of Google Data Studio is that it automatically pulls in data from your connected data sources. You can spend less time entering data and taking screenshots of dashboards, and more time analyzing the data. 

  • Merge data sources

Google Data Studio allows you to take data sources and combine them to create cross-platform reporting. This is a powerful ability that allows you to take data from multiple systems to tell a story.  

For example, you can take data from Google Search Console + data from Google Analytics + data from a CRM and connect those with URL as the merge key (as they all have URL in their data sets):

  • Google Search Console – URL associated with search queries and search volume
  • Google Analytics – Traffic associated with a URL
  • CRM – Acquisition and sales data from a source URL

The merger of these 3 sources can tell you what terms generated traffic that ultimately drove sales.

  • Reusable templates

Create a template and use the date range controls to automatically populate your report with data from the timeframe you need. You can also easily duplicate the report, swap out data sources, and create new reports for other campaigns or clients.

  • Wide range of data sources

Google Data Studio integrates with a wealth of connectors, allowing you to centralize reports on various campaigns all in one place. Data Studio is highly compatible with Google data, so it’s easy to report on what users are doing on your website (Google Analytics), what users are searching for (Google Search Console), how your paid search campaigns are performing (Google Ads), and so on.

Data sources and connectors available in Google Data Studio

Data sources and connectors available in Google Data Studio

There are also a number of third-party connectors, as well as the option to build out your own data set in Google Sheets. This opens up the ability to bring in data from social media channels, marketing automation software, customer or membership management tools, PR coverage, or any other data set you have access to!

Caption/Alt text: Social media data source using Google Sheets connector in Google Data Studio

Caption/Alt text: Social media data source using Google Sheets connector in Google Data Studio.

 

Bottom line: Google Data Studio streamlines the reporting process, moving the focus away from merely compiling data to using that data to tell a story. Done right, data-driven reports are a tool for proactively finding opportunities to improve performance and drive higher ROI.

Boston, Massachusetts — July 8, 2021 — Cercone Brown has been recognized as one of the top digital marketing companies in 2021 by DesignRush.

DesignRush is a B2B marketplace that connects brands with professional full-service agencies, web design companies, digital marketing firms, and top technology companies.  Their platform lists over 9,300 agencies from over 50 different countries and is consulted by thousands of decision-makers looking to start a project.

Cercone Brown is a PR and Digital Marketing agency in Boston and New York. Our strength is creating experiences that bring brands to life, and drive consumers to action. Our heritage is in public relations and brand positioning, but today our programs are an integrated mix of social media and influencer marketing, content development and distribution, media relations and very smart, succinct paid media. Check out our HOUSE Programs, which bring the country’s top media together to experience brands in natural, beautiful settings.

screenshot depicting new Facebook advertising settings for marketers

What are Apple’s new privacy changes?

Apple is launching a new privacy feature that requires all apps to ask for explicit permission to track users. This feature, called App Tracking Transparency, will be included in an iOS 14 update in spring 2021.

From an iPhone user’s perspective, this means you’ll receive a pop-up notification in every app asking if you want to allow tracking. If you opt in, then the app can track you and use the collected data to deliver personalized ads.

What is Apple IDFA?

IDFA, or Identifier for Advertisers, is the system that Apple uses to track and identify iOS users across apps and websites, all without revealing personal information. IDFAs are critical for marketers, because they allow us to accurately track users and use data to deliver relevant ads.

Currently, iOS users can opt out of IDFA by turning on a privacy setting called Limit Ad Tracking (LAT). This setting does not stop users from receiving ads, but the ads will no longer be personalized. As of 2020, 31.5% of American iOS users have enabled LAT. With the upcoming shift to an opt-in model, marketers are concerned that even more iPhone users will opt out of tracking.

screenshot example of LAT tracking

How will the iOS 14 update affect Facebook?

If users do not opt in to tracking, the effectiveness of Facebook’s tracking pixel will decrease. What does this mean for your Facebook ads?

  1. Targeting options will be hindered. You will not be able to target users as accurately or with the same level of hyper-personalization.
  2. Conversion reporting will be less accurate, since you cannot track the user’s behavior after viewing your ad.
  3. Remarketing campaigns will be less effective, since you cannot remarket based on the user’s previous behavior.
  4. Lookalike audiences will be less accurate, since these audiences are generated based on user behavior.

With all of these factors combined, advertisers may begin to see weaker results on their Facebook ad campaigns. Note that this will disproportionately affect Audience Network ads (ie. ads in third-party mobile apps), rather than ads delivered on Facebook itself.

Facebook is fiercely contesting Apple’s new iOS policy, but they will still be required to display Apple’s pop-up consent prompt, or else the Facebook app would be blocked from the App Store. 

What does this mean for digital marketers?

The increasing focus on privacy puts users’ interests at heart, but will cause a major shake-up in the digital advertising world. 

Marketers have come to rely on tracking data to deliver highly personalized, targeted ads to users. As access to this type of data becomes more limited, marketers will need to start using other strategies to ensure ads find the right audiences. 

  1. Track conversions with UTMs. The Facebook algorithm will not be able to optimize for conversion goals as effectively if iOS users don’t opt in to tracking. To get the most out of Facebook’s built-in optimization, try running campaigns with other objectives (ie. website traffic) and rely on your own tracking to measure conversions. If you use campaign URLs and Google Analytics, your UTMs will help you understand which ads drove conversions.

    screenshot showing what a UTM url looks like

  2. Cast a wider net. Focus on ad creative with wide, general appeal, rather than a hyper-specific message that would only appeal to a narrow audience. In some cases, advertisers may find broad targeting more effective because it helps you expand beyond your core audience.

  3. Use context-based ad placements. In our increasingly privacy-conscious world, context may start to be a better bet than audience targeting, and Facebook may no longer be the best place for your ads. Consider doing a digital ad buy where you can control which sites display your ad. For example, a health food brand might choose to advertise on health and wellness sites, where they can expect to reach like-minded consumers.

Privacy has become a top concern for consumers and marketers alike. Apple’s privacy updates are not the first to impact digital marketers (hello, GDPR!) and they won’t be the last, so it’s on us as marketers to adapt.

 

If you have questions about how to get the most out of your marketing budget amidst this changing landscape, let’s talk.

In a digital world where influencers often hold more trust, authority, and followers than the average brand, it’s critical that senior leaders and executives work to build their own personal brand and position themselves as a thought leader in their field.

What is a Thought Leader? 

Thought leaders are trusted experts, the “go-to” people, in their field of expertise. They are authorities in their realm that regularly inspire, motivate, teach, and share their prowess with others, helping fans and followers increase their knowledge and enhance their skill set. Thought leaders can be anyone from an Instagram fashion icon to a business CEO, or even your average marketing enthusiast. What separates a thought leader from an expert is trust, influence, and a following.

Some business thought leaders you might already know of include Mark Cuban, Neil Patel, Arianna Huffington, Gary Vaynerchuk, Brené Brown and Amy Porterfield.

Why Become a Thought Leader?

A 2018 survey by Edelman and LinkedIn found that 55% of respondents use thought leadership to vet organizations they may hire. Additionally, a study by Marketing Insider Group found similar results with 81% of respondents saying their trust increases after engaging with thought leadership content. In a world where everything and everyone is “Google-able,” creating a personal brand is paramount to building trust with potential clients.

Furthermore, influencer marketing is a highly profitable and growing industry estimated to be worth $13.8 billion in 2021. Influencers are successful in promoting and selling products because of the high trust they have with consumers. For many companies, the CEO is often the personification of the brand. Rather than spend thousands paying other influencers to promote your product or service, why not build your own “influencer” internally and save your marketing budget while building trust with customers?

How to Become a Thought Leader

If you’ve never given much thought to your personal brand as a professional, it can feel overwhelming to start – especially when you think about how saturated the online space already is. However, as big as the digital thought leadership space is, the internet is even bigger. There is room for everyone willing to make the effort to grow, stand out, and bring in business using their personal brand. Here are five tips for getting started:

1. Identify Your Niche

Niche market. Concept of selecting specific target instead of mass all segment in marketing strategy.

Before you share anything, understand what you want to be known for and who you’re trying to reach. What are your strengths? What makes you unique? Make a list of topics you are most passionate about and have expertise on, then make a separate list of qualities that differentiate you from your peers.

These topics and qualities are the foundation of your thought leadership strategy and should inform everything you do in building your brand as a thought leader, from the content you share to the tone in which you write.

Remember, the online space is crowded. It doesn’t mean there isn’t room for you, but it does mean you need focus and clarity on what “space” you want to own. Identifying a niche focus area will also benefit you and your organization from an SEO perspective, where Google will be able to more easily identify and link together the topics you provide commentary for.

  1. Consistently Provide Value on Social Media

A graphic showing a pale watering social media tree

If you want to be seen as an expert, or a thought leader, you need to demonstrate your expertise. Look back to the list you made in step one (identify your niche,) and start building a steady stream of content related to those topics, weaving your unique differentiators into each post.

Your posts could be anything from your response to an industry trend, a checklist, blog (like this one!), video tutorial, or even a discussion starter. Get creative! The key is to provide value. Give users a reason to follow you, subscribe to your emails, and read your articles. Your content should be informative, useful, and different from what is traditionally shared.

It’s worth underlining again that the content you share must provide exceptional value. At CBC, we encourage clients to give it all away. Don’t be afraid to share your expertise for fear of copycats or worry that prospective clients may not “need” your services. People can rip off your work, but they’ll never be able to execute quite like you. Clients may read your content, but they’ll pay you to do the work for them or to tell your advice to them. The more you give, the more trust and loyalty you build.

Which channel should you be focusing your efforts on? We recommend all clients establish a presence on LinkedIn but, depending on your industry and niche, other platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and the rising Clubhouse app may be appropriate too.

  1. Bring Your Expertise to the Media

A screenshot of Leonard Cercone's thought leader profile on Forbes

A large part of building your personal brand as a thought leader includes building authority and credibility amongst your peers. You can, of course, accomplish this by sharing your expertise on your owned channels (social media, email, website.) However, you can expedite the brand-building process by sharing your expertise with the media.

How can you start working with the media? There’s a plethora of ways:

  • Write and publish bylines for trade publications
  • Provide commentary to journalists on your niche topics
  • Apply for exclusive panels, such as the Forbes Council
  • Partner with publications to host webinars
  • Submit yourself for awards (and win!)
  • Speak at conferences and events

Start pitching your brand and expertise to the media, focusing on adding value and building meaningful relationships. Or, work with an agency like CBC to help get you in front of the press.

  1. Network, Network, Network

Attaining followers is all about providing value and trust. An easy and impactful way you can do this is by highlighting other great thought leaders in your network. If you see a fellow thought leader share content that would be valuable to your audience, it would be wise to share it amongst your connections as well. Trust and transparency breed loyalty, prove that you’re here to serve – not gain notoriety – and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a true authority in your realm.

This means that networking with fellow leaders in your industry is crucial. Reach out to those you feel are providing valuable content or have unique expertise and build bridges. Plus, you would both be served well by sharing each other’s content and networks with each other.

When you have a strong niche and consistently provide value-add content, there is no need to worry about “competition.”

  1. Peel Back the Curtain and Be Human

illustration of pratfall effect

Ever hear the phrase “Nobody likes a know-it-all”? It’s true; even as you’re trying to position yourself as a thought leader, it’s important to share the things that make you a human, too.

To become a thought leader that’s in demand, users have to not only know that you’re smart, but they have to like, know, and trust you, too. Who wouldn’t want to work with someone they know, like, and trust?

This concept is known as the Pratfall Effect, and it’s been used by sales and marketing teams for decades to create relationships and generate business. The Pratfall Effect, in short, explains that people held in high esteem are even more likeable when they make a mistake and/or show their imperfections. A common story about the Pratfall Effect that demonstrates the impact of this strategy is:

A Sales Executive gives the same presentation to two different groups. In the first group, he is articulate, smart, and friendly as he shares his pitch. In the second group, he is still articulate, smart, and friendly…but he also has a coffee stain on his shirt. For the second group, he opens up the presentation by talking about how he spilled coffee on himself on his way to work. Researchers measured the likeability of the Sales Executive after each presentation and found the Pratfall Effect to be true: the second group, even though it was the exact same presentation, found him to be more likeable.

You don’t need to share your deepest secrets or embarrassing stories, but you do need to show that you’re a flawed human like everyone else to garner more trust. Pull back the curtain and let your audience get to know the real you.

 

As the online marketplace becomes increasingly saturated, clients are looking to us more and more for help in maximizing the visibility of their team and company. Need help creating your thought leader brand? Contact us.

As brands continue to compete for users’ attention on social media, the space is getting more and more crowded, and social platforms have become increasingly selective as to what content they will serve up to their users.

One way to jump in front of the line is to go the route of paid social. In most platforms, there are multiple ways to get exposure. Today, we’re highlighting the differences of  “boosting” or “sponsoring” organic content versus a straight-up paid social ad.

What’s the difference between a “boosted post” and paid advertising?

The difference between boosted post and paid ads infographic

The term for “boosting” will vary by platform. For example, Facebook calls it “boosting” a post, whereas LinkedIn calls it “sponsoring” a post. There’s really no difference in how it works.  Simply put, “boosting” or “sponsoring” ensures more people will see the post by putting a little money behind it.  What many people don’t realize is that simply posting on your channels does not guarantee your followers will see it in their feed.  Boosting a post does.

Boosting takes an organic post (no money behind it) that you have created, hopefully with excellent, tailored content created by you or your team, and increases the chances that your audience (and the people you promote it to) see it by paying for that privilege.

Boosted posts are easier to manage than paid ads, as they are typically a one-off post and aren’t normally part of a larger campaign. Content you may boost include a timely blog post, press release or media mention.

The drawback? Your options for audience targeting, scheduling, budgeting, and ad formats are limited. For example, boosted posts only allow you to promote the post as it organically appears on your page, whereas advertisements allow you to use formats such as carousels, or collection ads for ecommerce.

Paid Social Advertising

Paid Advertising is a larger beast to tame.  As opposed to simply putting money behind a post already in your feed, these are ads created specifically for an ad objective.  As such, paid ads are part of a larger campaign with multiple copy and graphic/video variations for testing. Think of these as fractional print ads that at one point you may have run in a magazine (although, it’s important to note that paid ads can be much more than a static image with some copy.) 

Paid ads are best when pushing a set goal or objective. These have a strong call-to-action (CTA)  and are about getting an audience to click through to your website or landing page.  Paid ads are typically one of the first layers in an integrated sales funnel.

Some instances where you may want to consider running an ad campaign instead of a simple “boost” include: 

  • Highlighting a promotional offer or a direct eCommerce push.
  • Drive registrants, downloads or leads
  • Promoting a product or service with a long decision timeline (so that we can continue to nurture them by retargeting users through other ads)

Boosting Social Posts: Best Practices

A great boosted post should feel natural in users’ feeds. If they aren’t paying close attention, they won’t know it’s an ad. Here are a few tips for getting it right:

  • Start by boosting content that is already performing well organically. This is a good indicator of what will work well on a larger scale.
  • The content should focus on engagement or awareness to widen your social media following. Content where you’re calling for leads, sign-ups, or purchase are typically best served in a traditional ad campaign.
  • Don’t spend a fortune. Spend a small amount, like $10-25. See how it performs and scale from there.
  • Be careful! With most of these platforms, once you take an organic post and promote it, you cannot modify it. Double-check that the copy provided is suitable to push to the masses.

Social Media Advertising: Best Practices

Besides boosting organic content, most social platforms have multiple ways to advertise – everything from display ads and retargeting to direct messaging. These are generally more expensive and rely on an ROI-centric objective. 

With paid ads, you can run variations of a single ad and test each to see which copy, image, and call-to-action (or combination thereof) work best. Paid ads also allow for retargeting and offer the opportunity to experiment with multiple ad formats such as display, text, video, etc. On some platforms, an ad campaign provides more granular targeting options.

If you’re new to social media advertising, here are some of our best tips:

  • Keep the copy short and sweet. Users may not be familiar with your brand quite yet, making their attention span for your content even shorter.
  • Run multiple variations of your ads. Test different headlines, body copy, calls-to-action, graphics, images and videos.  Unlike print or TV, digital ad buys can be turned on, up or off in midstream. Once you’ve gotten some results, narrow your ad set down to the best performers and put money behind these.
  • Leverage both graphics and video for best results. While video is favored by many platforms and consumers, it’s still worth testing both.
  • Be thoughtful and clear on your objective. Social media platforms design their ad algorithms to place your content in front of users likely to take a specific action. Selecting the wrong objective, like selecting a video views objective when your end goal is really to get people to visit your site, will lead to disappointing results.
  • Install the social media platform’s pixel on your site, where applicable. Not only do these pixels provide you with conversion data, you can also use them to create remarketing lists to fine-tune your social marketing efforts.

Ultimately, whether you choose to boost a post or run an advertising campaign depends on your goals. If you are trying to build brand awareness or drive engagement on a particular post, sticking with boosted posts would be advised. If you’re looking to drive conversions, then paid ads are your best solution.

 Need help? Get in touch.

Google is in the process of launching Google Analytics 4 (or GA4), which is the largest leap in how Google is presenting website traffic in years.  

The old way of presenting data was very siloed. It looked at the Who / What / When / Where / and How of analytics. For example, here is the legacy hierarchy of how they categorized data:

  • Audience = Who are your users?
  • Acquisition = How did they find you?
  • Behavior = Where did they interact with you?
  • Conversion = What were the results?
  • Date Selector = When did they come to your site?

In the classic version of Google Analytics, you had to define the events and engagements. You also had to define your funnel, and you were restricted to the limitations of the technology.  

Ok, ok, what makes this nerd so excited about GA4?

The new way takes a look at the cross-section of Who / What / When / Where / and How and centers it on the WHAT (aka the conversion). The new navigation looks like this:

Life Cycle

GA4 takes the entire funnel and places it into the Life Cycle section. In this section, you see the Who / What / When / Where / and How of the users, but Google expands upon it. You get to see how those steps interact with each other. This allows the new Google Analytics platform to get straight to the point of analytic reporting.

User 

The User section of GA4 allows content creators to get an understanding of user demographics to inform the content creation process. It covers devices and locality to help you understand where your users are from and how they access your site.

Event 

GA4 Events are a new, semi-automated approach to providing deeper insights into how users interact with your site. Although at this time Google has not yet defined what events will be standard, we have seen the following events already pre-configured without the need for Google Tag Manager or custom code:

  • Clicks (Raw click counts)
  • First Visits (How many users are visiting for the first time)
  • Page Views (Raw page views)
  • Scroll (How many people scrolled)
  • Session Starts (How many times users began interacting with your site)

You can also mark events as conversions, allowing you to focus your reporting on the most important actions that users are taking on your site.

Explore 

Here you will find nerdy analysis tools to throw fuel into your marketing and PR efforts. The Explore section provides a level of research analyst depth unmatched by anything in the classic Google Analytics reports. It is a collection of some familiar tools such as Path Analysis and new tools such as Exploration and Funnel Analysis.  

Exploration is quickly becoming one of my most utilized tools, as it takes what I like about Google Analytics and merges it with the power of Google Data Studio. It effectively allows an analyst to build out custom tables on the fly to analyze data. No longer will we be stuck with stock reports and views.

What can GA4 mean for your business?

GA4 is the single largest evolution of Google Analytics. It will allow analysts easier access to the depth of data and allow business owners to quickly focus on the goals of their website with minimal configuration.

If you are interested in upgrading, you can follow the instructions provided by Google. Upgrading will not impact your current reports or data. Your new GA4 property will run in parallel to what you have now, so we recommend setting it up sooner rather than later so you can start collecting data and familiarizing yourself with the new user interface.

At CBC, we use GA4 to increase conversions as it provides us a more complete and integrated picture of how users interact with our clients’ websites. If you need a hand, contact us

Domain authority is a value placed on your website by Google that illustrates how relevant your website is on the internet. Higher domain authority means you’ll rank higher in search results, bringing in more traffic to your website. While many marketers have a firm grasp of how to increase their website’s SEO through strategic content, often overlooked is the search weight public relations tactics can bring. In today’s digital world, nearly everything is tracked by Google!

How PR Can Increase Domain Authority

Most traditional PR tactics will help increase the volume of authoritative links to your website, which is the largest factor that impacts your domain authority score. Don’t overlook the double-benefits PR can bring to your brand!

Public relations tactics that go the extra mile for your business include:


magazine press coverage1. Pitching for Coverage
– Creating great content is not always enough to boost SEO. Try pitching yourgreatest stories to the press before posting them to your blog – you can always re-share them to your site at a later date! And, nothing could be better for your domain authority than a reputable site sharing a link back to your site. Whenever possible, push for coverage to include links back to your site and/or products.

2.Create byline articles to generate a link back to your website. PR is a powerful tool when developing exposure. If you can get great content published by the press, that’ll go much further in increasing your domain authority than a blog post.
typing out a guest blog

3. Guest blogging. When trying to reach more niche audiences or tap into an influencer’s following, guest blogging can prove to be superior in driving both brand awareness and domain authority. Additionally, when you’re working with an industry peer, adding links back to your site is often much easier than doing so through traditional press. It’s a win-win for you both; your brand benefits from an increase in domain authority, and your partner benefits from providing their audience with useful content.

4. Increase your social media presence. Every brand should be on social media for the simple reason that it’s the number one destination users go to when looking for information on your company. But it won’t just help get more eyes on your business and boost conversions, it can increase your domain authority too. Especially on YouTube — Google owns YouTube so video content shared to this channel holds significant SEO weight.

instagram influencer

5. Leverage authoritative figures and influencers to gain more traction. But try to gain exposure on their“shoulder” as organically as possible. Contacting them, cultivating a relationship, and trying to build a good rapport can go further than pursuing short-term arrangements. When influencers and authoritative figures within a niche give your brand attention, they will generally provide a link to your social media profile or your website. This increases your authority, especially if the source is credible within their niche.

6. Publish Press Releases. You control the content, so you should always include links back to your site to give your domain authority an easy lift.  If your press release gains traction, you could find new backlinks on sites that syndicate your press release.

7. Video Interviews. Video by itself is a powerful medium. By getting yourself on a video interview (either by vlog, TV, or YouTube), you increase your exposure that Google may be able to detect. It can be tricky to control what links, if any, publishers will include but it can’t hurt to give them the option and provide them with relevant links.

8. Awards. Apply and earn recognition for your work. Not only does this showcase your fantastic team and achievements, but it usually generates a backlink to boot! If you’re sponsoring an award gala, make sure to negotiate a link to your site as part of your sponsorship package.

presenting on stage

9. Speak at an Event –More often than not, when you present at an event such as a conference, webinar, or fireside chat the organization behind the event will include a link for people to learn more about you and your company. Those materials generally have links to your profile and/or website. If they don’t, ask for it! Remember, you’re helping them create a great experience by presenting. You have the power to influence how you are promoted. These events also have the added benefit of potential online buzz and conversations about your appearance, increasing your public exposure that Google may detect.

 

PR is an incredibly powerful tool to increase your exposure and accomplish your business goals. With a strategic approach, PR and digital marketing can work together to increase your exposure and authority both online and with the greater public.

Need help implementing a public relations or digital strategy for your organization? We can help.

Since March, virtual has become our “new normal” when it comes to hosting experiential brand activations. When the pandemic hit, we immediately shifted our House Program model to virtual in order to continue doing what we do best – help brands connect with media on a personal level through face-to-face interaction and authentic experiences with products.

Our first virtual event series, CerconeBrown’s Summer House Staycation, came to a close in early August, and our team quickly shifted gears to begin planning our second virtual event series – Cercone Brown’s Home for the Holidays. Now in the heat of our second virtual series, we’re putting our gained insights and user feedback to work to make our house and client virtual events better than ever!

As we look back on each unique virtual brand activation we’ve hosted and planned, we’ve identified key learnings that are sure to enhance any virtual event and leave your guests inspired, educated, and eager to learn more.

 1. Guest engagement is key

virtual cooking event with Stuffed Puffs and CerconeBrownAn influencer shares results of a virtual cooking class with CerconeBrown and Stuffed Puffs

Stuffed Puffs hosts virtual smores making class at CerconeBrown Summer Staycation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From fitness and cooking classes to TikTok dance tutorials, we’ve seen it all when it comes to the types of activities brands explore in order to engage media attendees virtually. To encourage participation and keep participant’s cameras turned on, your activation needs to be fun and exciting while simultaneously offering hands-on education of your brand and product. A simple unboxing experience won’t do.

Remember, these events are supposed to give attendees a chance to experience a product in the way it was intended to be used. People are on Zoom all day, so ask yourself: what will engage them and convince them to take an hour out of their day? Think about how to get them moving, how to get their hands dirty with the product. The activation should be closely tied to an experience where guests can wear, feel, play with, or eat the product being showcased. The closer the activity is to the product and its intended use, the more naturally engagement – questions, feedback, etc. – will flow.

Making guests “feel” something as opposed to just “seeing” something on-screen will leave a lasting impression and likely result in coverage and personal relationships down the line.

2. Use influencers and experts to bring authenticity

Sky Brown, professional skateboarder and ambassador for Cliff Bar

A third-party endorsement is an easy way to foster authentic conversation about the product you are showcasing. Choosing a brand ambassador or an influencer who is brand-right can add another layer of depth to your virtual experience, providing journalists and influencers with a live testimonial from someone who genuinely loves and uses your product. Even if they are a paid influencer, their opinion holds more weight than a brand representative simply championing the product on their own.

Influencers can also make the event more appealing for attendees, especially if they are well-known. For example, as part of Cercone Brown’s Summer House Staycation, CLIF Bar asked Sky Brown, the world’s youngest professional skateboarder and newest CLIF brand ambassador, to host their event. She led attendees through a TikTok dance she created and discussed her favorite CLIF Bar flavors, keeping the audience engaged and smiling throughout the entire activity while supporting the brand in an authentic way through her personal experience.

The right influencer or expert leading the event activity can make the difference between people begging to attend your session versus begging people to attend your session.

3. Take advantage of all technology has to offer

For all of our virtual House Program experiences, we are using Zoom. Although it may seem like a no brainer to check out all of the features Zoom (or any other video platform) has to offer, there are definitely some add-ons that we utilize for events, that we wouldn’t typically use during an internal meeting or client call.

Bose virtual activation with CerconeBrown

  • Spotlight View has allowed us to engage attendees more by providing a close-up camera angle of the product being showcased or the person giving a demo. By simply locking the screen in place, this feature enables all attendees to look at one specific screen, which is helpful on a call that includes 10-20 attendees. We used this feature for a virtual event with Tempur-Pedic, where the brand offered close-ups of their mattress technology since attendees couldn’t be there to touch, feel, and see the technology in person. Attendees also had samples on hand for reference. This format mimicked the personal experience brands and attendees might have in person at a brand showroom.

 

  • Zoom also has a polling option that is great for soliciting live engagement and feedback. During our virtual mocktail making activation with La Croix, we used the polling feature to ask product-specific questions and engage attendees with trivia-style questions throughout the event. This enabled the brand to get feedback on attendee’s favorite flavors while educating them on the brand by asking tricky yet interesting questions they may not have previously known (i.e. how many flavors does La Croix offer in total?). These questions add a layer of immediate feedback (and fun!) that can spark conversation or relay specific information attendee’s experiences with a product that may have otherwise gone unsaid. With any event, live or virtual, personalization is key!

 

  • The chat feature is a safe space for people to engage with you and ask A virtual matcha latte class with Pipette and CerconeBrownquestions throughout the event, so encouraging use of this feature to help you naturally create more dialogue between guests. Since participants may be on mute for much of the event, encouraging them to post in the chat as questions arise and then addressing them verbally is a comfortable way for them to get the information they need to be fully educated about your product, without having to interrupt the presenter or leader. Prior to an event, assign a team member who’s not leading the activation to be responsible for answering all chat comments to keep the flow of the on-screen activity on track.

 

 

 

The tips above will help ensure and engaged and excited audiences from invite to post-event follow up. If you’re looking for other resources on virtual events, marketing, and more during these uncertain times, check out our other blogs:

Tips to Create & Run Virtual Events
5 Ways to Nurture Relationships When You Can’t Meet In-Person
The Marketer’s Guide to Experiential Marketing
Four Expert Tips for Brand Marketers During the Coronavirus Crisis

Interested in hosting a virtual brand activation? Drop us a line and we’re happy to share our expertise and work with you to create an unforgettable virtual experience.

Every marketer knows that with fall’s arrival comes one thing for certain: budgeting. While this year has seen no shortage of surprises, the need to re-evaluate your marketing and media relations spend still remains. Looking back at the last 12 months, can you clearly articulate and measure the success of your marketing and media plan – or even, your third-party vendor?

Since our agency’s inception, we’ve helped countless clients build a budget for the year ahead and ensure that every dollar spent contributes to both marketing and business objectives. It’s what we do as marketing and PR partners to our clients, and we’re here to help you too.

When considering whether to keep your current agency or find a new one this budget season, here are three things to consider to get the most out of your spend.

1. Did you get what you needed from your PR and marketing vendors?

There are a variety of reasons you may look to hire an outside agency or vendor to help you create and execute a marketing plan. For some, it’s a matter of scale; an external partner can bring more hands on deck to generate results you couldn’t achieve alone. For others, it’s a matter of expertise; an agency can expand your team’s knowledge and competencies.

Regardless of your reason for hiring a partner, it’s important that they’re delivering on your ask. In other words, are they getting you results? Furthermore, are they delivering results that matter to your organization?

Take a look back at the plan and goals outlined in the previous year. Were they met? Where did they fall short, and can they be improved this year? If your goals weren’t met, ask yourself “why?” Falling short of an ambitious goal is one thing, an agency that didn’t deliver on its promise is another.

A good marketing or PR partner should be able to articulate your plan’s success and shortcomings with great detail and data. They should be able to share their expertise to point your organization in the right direction when campaign goals fall off track.

It’s not always about perfection but it’s important to ask: is my partner helping me reach my goals? Are they putting my organization on track for success? Did we achieve greater results because of our partnership? 

 2. How can I get more for every dollar spent?

As your partnership continues, your organization and vendor should work together to identify how to get even more from your efforts (time and money).

Start by taking the “80/20 rule.” This rule utilizes the principle that 80% of your results are driven by 20% of your activities. Of the activities that drove the most results (whether that be in sales, social follows, leads, etc,) which tasks did your team perform and which did your partner complete? If your vendor’s activities don’t align with the tasks that drive results, it may be time to re-evaluate how you work together or how you measure success. Ideally, your partner should be prepared to demonstrate how their work impacted your success.

Before deciding on a budget and plan for the next year, have a meeting with your partner to review and discuss what happened over the course of the last year – good and bad. Remember: they should be an extension of your team. Collaborate and brainstorm ways you can improve your working relationship over the next year, or determine if another partner may be a better fit. You may be surprised to find that what might seem like larger issues can be solved with an honest and candid conversation. Some questions to ask yourself may include:

  • How are our resources allocated? Is there a way we can optimize this allocation to minimize costs and improve (or yield similar) results?
  • Am I making the best use of my partner’s time and expertise? Instead of having my partner focus on one activity, should they focus on helping us with another?
  • How could my team better assist to ensure our partner can deliver on what they promise? Are there too many bottlenecks in the process? Do we need more resources internally to manage this partnership?

3. Are there other measures of success we’re overlooking?

Marketing and PR activities often generate a lot of intangible results or metrics that are hard to measure. Think of top of funnel activities like content writing, social media, and SEO optimization; these activities don’t often draw a straight line to sales but still have value.

Furthermore, are you capitalizing on the expert advice provided by your vendor? Perhaps your partner’s activity didn’t directly correlate to the bottom line, but by bringing in a team of PR experts with established media connections, you generated more PR results or saved more money than you would have by hiring and training an in-house publicist.

The value of these intangible concepts, such as brand awareness, social following, or enhanced media relations, may vary by organization, or even campaign. It’s important that everyone on your team, including those you report to, understand how these activities impact the overall marketing funnel and customer journey to ensure alignment on the goals of your partnership. For example, a media article may not look like “money” to your CFO, but if it helps a sales colleague start a conversation with a new prospect, there’s certainly value in that.

When building a budget, especially in these tumultuous times, clarity of your goals and resources is critical. These considerations are just a starting point to help your organization re-evaluate where to spend your time and money.

 

If you’re interested in discussing how a marketing or PR partner can generate tangible (and intangible) results for your organization in the next year, we’d be happy to chat – no strings attached.

Whether you just pulled off a killer media event or implemented a new content strategy for your organization’s online channels, the hardest part often comes last: reporting. Return on investment, or ROI, is one of the most difficult metrics to measure but is arguably the most critical proof point of your success. Social media followers, media hits, and similar results are positive outcomes, but you can’t demonstrate how they make money for your organization, they aren’t sustainable tactics for the long haul.

At CBC, we implement a comprehensive tracking and measurement system with each client before we embark on any new project. Doing so allows us to see, often in real-time, how our proposed strategy is performing, where we need to make adjustments, and whether we are truly making headway towards our outlined business objectives. Today, we’re sharing the top five digital tools and systems your team should implement to ensure you can articulate the return on investment of your digital or PR program:

Before We Get Started…

By the time you begin to track and measure your success, you should have several pieces in place, including but not limited to:

  • A documented digital strategy
  • Knowledge of each user group you are trying to reach
  • Knowledge of each channel those user groups are using and why
  • A clear understanding of overarching goals and KPIs that are going to indicate success, including the monetary value of each KPI.

In the sections below, we outline our five go-to tools that we use to track the status of our campaigns and showcase success.

Download: Tracking Configuration Checklist

This checklist will give you a great foundation to track your goals. Enter your email address and we will send you a PDF of our Tracking Configuration Checklist.

1. Google Analytics

In most cases, Google Analytics is our analytics software of choice. It’s free and the most benchmarked analytics system that currently exists. Google Analytics is going to tell you who is coming to your site, how they got there, what they did while they were there, and ultimately the results of that visit.

Google Analytics can tell you, for example, how many people visited your “about us” webpage on the day your company was featured in the news. From there, you can track users’ behavior on your website and see if they participated in other nurturing activities, like downloading a whitepaper, signing up for your newsletter, or making a purchase. This is a very basic example of how Google Analytics can help you articulate the ROI of your efforts.

To use Google Analytics, all you have to do is put Google’s pixel code on your website. For more information on how to install this code, check with your content management system provider (CMS).  

For organizations that want to get a bit more out of their analytics, there are some settings that you can configure to provide deeper insights into how users are leveraging your website. These advanced features include goals, events, site search, views, and filters. We will discuss some of these in this post.

2. Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager is a free product from Google that allows you to manage pixel tracking codes from various companies without the need for knowing how to code. For example, when you deploy Google Analytics, you should leverage Google Tag Manager to get the code on your website.  In fact, most platforms where you will be connecting with users will have a conversion tracking pixel or an analytics tracking code for their specific platform. This draws a bridge between platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, and Twitter to what users are doing on your site.  These tags are key to understanding what is relevant to your users and brings clarity to the results of the investment being made into marketing.

Another huge advantage of a tag management system is convenience. A simple user interface (UI) makes it easy for a marketer to deploy code to their website without having to get a developer involved. This saves time, effort, and possibly money for everyone involved.

3. Conversion Tracking

The conversions tracking section of Google Analytics is broken down into 2 core components:

  • Goals – essentially your numerical KPIs
  • Ecommerce – a specific type of goal that tracks how much revenue is generated from the site.

Before you get going, you need to:

  • Know your strategy
  • Know your channels
  • Know your KPIs

Goals can be set up in a few ways. To start, they can be based on how users interact with your website. For example, you may know that if a user watches a video on your website, they have a 10% higher likelihood of becoming a lead. Another example is to track pageviews of a thank you page, a page that can only be reached if someone filled out a form.

You may be asking: Great, what do I do with this information once I have it set up?

In short, this information is going to tell you where to spend your time and money.  If you find that users who convert are starting in social media and coming back to your site from an email marketing nurture campaign, you will want to put more effort into those types of activities to get the most out of your efforts. If you can quantify what a lead is worth to your organization, you can take this information and articulate how many users your strategy has converted to leads, and what the monetary worth of those efforts equals.

These goal configurations allow you to track the volume of successes you have on your website and cross-reference (through Google’s channel report) with how people came to your site (generally through your marketing efforts). This information is incredibly valuable. A few ways you can use this information:

  • Funnel optimization
  • Channel effectiveness
  • User experience feedback
  • Business impact

All these and more allow you to progress your marketing efforts further, satisfy the user’s needs, and help build a business, cause, or subscriber base.

On the ecommerce side, everything that we have already talked about still applies, but one additional tool that can be helpful is the Multi-Channel Funnels link under Conversions in Google Analytics.

It is easy to see prospects come in from something like organic search, see them fill out a form, and conclude “We need more of that”. The one key piece of information this tool brings into the light is the channel combinations that were required to get the user through their journey.  It is extremely common for a user to:

  • Receive first exposure in social media
  • Be intrigued enough with your content to share an email address
  • Nurture that user through a series of emails
  • Get that user thinking and researching and Googling your product or service
  • Request a call with your sales team or buy a product on your ecommerce site by Googling your company name and clicking on your blue link in Google.

There is an entire unique science to figuring out that puzzle on a per organization basis.  

4. Event Tracking

Events are configured within Google Tag Manager.  By configuring these, you gain additional insights into what your users are doing on your website.  Google Analytics does a great job of tracking pageviews, but activities such as scroll depth, video plays, clicks on social media icons, interactions with a gallery slider (and just about any other action a user does on your site) can be tracked through Tag Manager.

This tool allows you to test theories on how users are interacting with your site and provide insights into how to provide a better experience to the user and produce better outcomes for your organization.

Some example uses:

  • How far are users watching your demo video?  If too many people are not finishing the video, you can dig into qualitative and quantitative data to diagnose what may not be working. Is it too long? What is happening in the second minute that loses the user’s attention?
  • How many people click on your social media links?  If you’re in B2B, this can give you an idea of how companies are vetting you. If you’re a B2C company, this can show potential channel subscribers or followers coming directly from your website.
  • How about A/B testing content? Did version 1 of the homepage call-to-action (CTA) perform better than version 2?  Event tracking is how you can measure all of this.

5. UTMs

Urchin Tracking Modules (UTMs) are the best way to track marketing sources beyond that of just a referral, which is how Google Analytics will define a user that visits your site by clicking a non-search link on any other site (i.e. a social media post.) The UTM is added to the end of a URL and uses the content that you put into the URL string to track information about where the user came from and what content they viewed that inspired them to click. The core strength of UTMs is its ability to provide high-level reporting while providing the option of uncovering nitty-gritty details of how users are getting to your site (regardless of where the UTM link is located: social, email, referring sites, or even your email signature). 

There are 3 major components to a UTM:

  • Campaign Name – This is the theme or core goal you are trying to accomplish (FlashSale, Renewals, Engagement, Brand Awareness, Black Friday)
  • Campaign Source – This is the channel that you published the link on (Facebook, LinkedIn, Google)
  • Campaign Medium – The location or description of the placement of the link (PPC, email, organic social, paid social)
  • Bonus: Campaign Content (This is an optional one, and not one of the major ones) – This is the version of content or ad variation that goes with this link.  Use this to test ad copy and A/B test email layouts.

When deploying UTMs to your webpage URLs, here are some best practices to keep in mind:

  • Add a filter to lowercase these variables in Google Analytics so your data doesn’t get fractured if there is inconsistency in the way UTMs are created
  • Campaign names should be high-level themes and should ideally be consistent across multiple channels. Most companies have a multi-channel strategy, therefore you need a multi-channel tracking deployment. By making sure your campaign names are consistent and high-level across all channels, you gain the ability to easily measure the effectiveness of those campaigns across multiple channels and multiple pieces of content.
  • For more advanced teams, leverage the campaign content field to either A/B test or describe the content of a social media campaign to see what resonates with your users.

Using UTM codes, you could, for example, easily track the number of site purchases, RFPs, or other action valued by your organization that come in through your various marketing efforts.

 

There is a vast amount of options available for marketers to track their campaigns.  If you can think of a metric you want to track, there is a pretty good chance that you can collect the data on it.  If you have an interesting tracking/reporting problem to solve, you know where to find us!