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!